Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Let me park the mower and I'll be right in.

Back to the "Only in Byron" bit instead of more of my mewlings about how hard life is.
I snapped this pic as I left the office on Friday, and it truly, in my opinion, sums up this town.
We presume the council grass man was driven in by the rain and clearly the most natural thing in the world was to slot it into a park, go in and buy his lunch at Byron Organic Kitchen and then return to work.
Now I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I have a thing about bad road users and I was impressed with this mower driver following the rules, parking neatly and then, I hope, checking his wing mirror before moving into the traffic stream.
You know what they say, "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be", well I'll tell you this for nothing, getting your licence deffo ain't what it used to be.
These days to get your 'P' plates you have to undergo 150 hours of logged driving with a licenced driver before you can sit your test.
Those who are reading this are unlikely to be getting their P-plates, but many will have no doubt suffered, or are suffering, the vertiginous stress of being the licenced driver clinging with bunched fingers to the dashboard as your child starts out on the road.
And so to the past.
When I got my P-plates back in the murky past of Bathurst in 1982 the system was this.
You studied the manual and then went into the motor registry and did a twenty question multiple choice test, if you got 17 or above you could then sit your driving test.
Previously you just booked in, the cop got in the car and asked you questions as you went while observing your driving skills.
As a recipe for accidents this couldn't be bettered.
Already nervous, the student is then negotiating a tricky hill start while the cop asked deviously trick questions like "What is the maximum legal length of a two rope?" (A trick because tow ropes were illegal then, maybe they still are).
So I suspect that the coppers themselves put the kybosh on this as they were forever in danger of their lives as the student veered all over the road whilst trying to think of the safe following distance on the highway or what to do when a siren is heard.
I duly passed my written test and fronted the police station, a copper got in and we drove up town made two lefts, got back onto the main street and returned to the station.
Test over in five minutes, me now a licenced driver.
I say "over in five minutes" not because I was such a good driver, but because of what I heard about a friend from high school who had massive breasts at age 17.
Her test lasted 45 minutes, and I'm convinced that this was not because she couldn't drive, but the cop wanted to observe her thorax moving as she changed gear and manoeuvred around the driving seat.
Also, a friend from Bathurst told me about his test to get a motor bike licence.
Clearly the cop couldn't ride pillion, so they would observe you as you drove around.
Well that's fine, but the system has issues in a wintry Bathurst.
Peter parked his bike, went inside and registered, then the copper came out and stood on the footpath and gave him his instructions.
"Head up town four blocks, then do a u-turn, return here and reverse park between these two cars".
Peter set off and within 50 metres was invisible in a Bathurst morning fog.
He dutifully did as asked, returned and parked to find the cop talking to a bystander.
He parked his bike, switched off and waited.
After a few minutes of conversation he tapped the cop on the shoulder, who then stared at him blankly.
Peter said, "did I pass?", this jogged the memory and the policeman said, "Oh, oh, er, yeah, ah, sure."
Licence given.
The closest thing to a 'peak hour' in Warialda.
My brother got his licence in Warialda, where my mother's family were from.
To say it was a one-horse town would be a disservice to one-horse towns.
A one-legged horse town would be a better description.
Parallel parking is easy.
My brother passed his test and told me that as far as he recalled not a single other vehicle was moving as he perambulated around town during the stagnantly hot lunch hour.
Additionally (as as the photo shows) the cop asked him to parallel park on a block with no other vehicles on it.
But even these stories of easy licence granting diminsih to vanishing point compared with one told by my Agriculture teacher Lindsay "Jack" Cartwright.
He was working on the wheat harvest down on the Hay plain.
The farmer came to him and said, "Lindsay, we need more drivers, can you drive a grain truck?"
He, Lindsay, said "yes, but I'm not licenced."
The farmer said, "no problem. Just head into the cop shop tell them that and they'll sort it out for you straightaway".
So Lindsay got in the ten-tonne grain truck and drove into town.
He pulled up outside the Police station (I think Deniliquin was the nearest town) and walked inside.
Behind the desk sat the local sergeant and Lindsay said, "I'd like to get my licence for a ten-tonner , please."
The sergeant said, "Can you drive a truck?"
Lindsay replied "Yes" and the sergeant responded, "OK, I'll fill in the paperwork now and you can drive me uptown to get some lunch."
Paperwork filed, the sergeant climbed into the cab (carefully skirting the topic of Lindsay driving the damn thing there without a licence in the first place), they drove to the cafe, the sergeant got out and Lindsay drove away, driving test done.
ADDENDUM: When I had coffee with Clinton yesterday he said he'd heard a similar story, but it was milk they went to get for the driving test, so possibly this story of Lindsay's was an urban myth.
But then as Clinton also pointed out, such was the way thing were done in country Australia in the sixties and seventies that if this incident happened more than once, that would be no surprise either.

So there you have it, things have ramped up massively since those days of yore, yet I still wonder why there are so many f@#%$ng idiots on the road.
And now let's move to one of the reasons I became a gardener.
Here I am (right) with my bulbous schoz scanning the flower of the Aloe vera plant.
Many who use this best of skin creams have never seen the plant it comes from, even fewer (inc me till now) have seen the flower.
I enjoyed this moment one the property of my client Eric at Clunes.
On my return home I noticed that my aloes were flowering too.
So I snapped the pic below.
Then I remembered how my aloes got there and that's a tribute to the toughness of these plants.
I'd done some work for Eric and he asked me to prune the aloes back, I did so and asked him if I could take the trimmings as I have some trouble with Psoriasis.
He consented and I took four or five large stems home.
The sweetest flower of them all, and the plants look good too.
My friend David "Dingo" Marshall on the hillside.
PS:a note for gardeners my hillside is entirely sand dune, a
geologic remnant of Belongil beach. Growing anything on
sand is HARD!
When I got home I needed to unload the car hurriedly and wasn't sure where I was going to plant my stems so I hastily threw them over the fence of the small garden on my hillside and then forgot about them.
Some time later I remembered them, went out to check and found that like a baby that can change it's own nappy, the stems had cheerfully taken root and were growing happily away on their own.
The ultimate plant for the lazy gardener.
Finally, I had a very stressful day yesterday for various reasons, but stuck to my guns and didn't head for the Rails (pub that is, not a suicide attempt) to get loaded.
I went to the gym instead and as I was leaving I saw this skyscape (below left), rainbow an' all.

This reminded me that here in Byron I have access to the ultimate non-drug relaxation technique.

So I headed out to Wategoes beach and took a moment to enjoy the tranquility of this wintersun dusk.
I hope you did too.
Next week back to the usual format of non-stop f@##$$%^ moaning.












Wednesday, 19 June 2013

On the road all right

A friend from high school once said to me that I've led an interesting life, which I guess is true though it
always invoked feelings of the famous chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".
I'm happy with an interesting life, less so than being broke at the age of 48.
Another friend I knew in Sydney worked for one of the big four banks and he told me he set the worst example for a bank employee as he "had no savings, but plenty of stories".
So to combine the paragraphs so far, one day I may be able to make some money from all these stories.
Having said that, I am further reminded of the band Blue King Brown, a Byron outfit, who began busking on the stony surface of Jonson st.
Natalie from BKB, when asked on Spicks and Specks, pointed out that the first task was to get people to stop and listen, that was hard enough, but then getting them to pay for it, was harder again.
Anyway, the picture (above) shows me hitching outside Bangalow.
My car needed some more repairs and my trusted mechanic is at Clunes, 30 k or in the hinterland, so when the car was ready I had to hitch up there.
As I stood there arms outstretched I was thinking "why am I still hitch hiking?
I am graduate of Sydney Uni science and I thought by this stage in my life I would own a $40,000 motor vehicle and be able to afford limo service to go pick up my car".
It reminds me that when I first set out to be a writer that I quickly realised that to be a good, or at least interesting writer you first have to have a lot of bad experiences.
No one for instance wants to read about a travel journalist who goes to India, catches buses that are always on time with plenty of comfy seats, never catches Delhi Belly, and doesn't spend most of the holiday crouched over a hole in the ground begging for death.
Never happen, you wouldn't read it.
So I gave up the Trying To Be A Writer idea as I didn't particularly want to spend my life having bad experiences for the edification of others.
All of which is of course voluptuously ironic as life then proceeded to load bad experiences on top of me one after the other.
Elsewhere I have mentioned that I have been to rehab for booze and drugs so I thought in this post I would relate some of the antics that saw me ultimately enter the doors of Marumali rehab centre at Wyong hospital on the central coast.
It all started with a broken heart.
I fell in love with an American woman, who then dumped me for another man.
This was a doubly unique experience for me, I'd been dumped before, hasn't everyone?, but this was the first time it was announced clearly to me that another man was better than I was.
Plus, I'd never been in love before.
This was the real deal, unable to eat, unable to sleep, my regard for this woman made Gatsby's for Daisy seem like a casual, take-her-or-leave-her kind of thing.
So to say I was devastated by this dumping was a staggeringly underwhelming word to use.
Perhaps best put by saying that in comparison the residents of Pompeii were mildly annoyed by the explosion of Mt Versuvius.
At the time I was working for an American software company, the head office of which was in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, based around the town of San Jose.
I was over there to attend a two week training course on some new gear we were rolling out and she told me it was over on the weekend in the middle of this fortnight.
I got though the remaining week of training, and in truth, the course was a bit of a godsend as it was complex programming that absorbed my mind and allowed me to shy away from any thoughts of the raging chasm of pain that was now buried deep within.

Friday

My flight back to Sydney was 5pm Saturday, but this was Friday and with the course over I drove down up to central San Fran with two friends I'd made on the course, Stewart from Edinburgh and Mike from Dublin.
I dropped off the car I'd hired and then checked into a backpackers nearby.
Then we were free.
It rather sounds like the beginning of a joke, "There was a Scotsman, an Irishman and an Australian loose in San Fran on a Friday night".
All three of these races are, how can I put it?, known for liking the odd beer?
Well!
Man, did we get slaughtered.
The end of the course, the weekend in prospect, the relief of getting out of the sterile building we'd inhabited for the past 14 days, plus, for me, the desire to forget about the dumping.
It all combined and it seemed we were on a mission to denude the entire Bay area of beer.
I can't recall how many different bars we attended that night, in fact, I can shorten that sentence to three words, "I can't recall".
Eventually we had to call it a night due to fatigue, Mike and Stewart peeled off to their accommodation and I wended my way home to bed.

Saturday

When I awoke the next morning I knew I was in trouble.
For the first time since the dumping, I was alone with my thoughts.
I checked out of the backpackers at 11 and mentioned to the young man behind the desk that my flight wasn't till five and could he recommend something for me to do till then?
He then said those fateful words, "well, there's a great pub just down the block, which has good food and so maybe lunch there?"
"PUB!"
I was out the door before he had dropped my key into its slot.
As a Simpson's toast famously put it: "To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems".
I would drink steadily till three, catch my bus to the airport and then fly home.
The pub (pictured) was great and additionally once inside, and as I'm about to relate, was the first and only time in my life that I believed in ghosts.
I ordered a beer and then noticed a display on the wall, it was a tribute to Jack Kerouac, who, it was said, wrote On the Road there.
Apparently once he'd arrived in California he sat in that bar and wrote the seminal road book whilst, presumably, imbibing vast quantities of booze.
I was strangely comforted by the display and felt this was the place for me that day.
I returned to the bar and ordered another beer.
An american guy about my own age came in and sat next to me.
We struck up a conversation.
His name was Jim and he worked for a book publishing firm back east and had been in town seeing clients and now was, like me, having the day off.
He was actually in the pub because of the Jack Kerouac legend and we fell to talking about books, work, the West Coast and the like.
Just what I wanted.
The hours slipped by on a tide of Budweiser, lunch of chili fries came and went, then I noticed with horror that it was 2.30.
Horror, because I was having such a good time, Jim was great company, the bar was cosy and redolent with the aura of Jack the great writer.
The idea of leaving this cosy cocoon and returning to the real world was repellent, and at that moment I believe the spirit of Jack Kerouac awoke and entered me.
I said to Jim "Do you want to go out and see a few bars this evening?"
He replied, "Hell yeah! But I thought you were flying out?"
"Soon fix that", I said.
I rang the airline, "may I change my flight to Sunday?"
"No problem Mr Barker, there  will be a US$50 fee, is that Ok?"
If she had said $1,000, I would have said Ok.
I left Jim and returned to the backpackers, "Ok to stay another night? I'm now flying Sunday."
"No problem", said the young man.
I took my key, dropped my bag back on the bunk from last night and returned to my alcoholic womb and off we went again.
Some more hours in the Kerouac pub, then we found somewhere to have dinner and the night took on the whirlpool effect of Friday.
I said to Jim "Do you know where we can get some pot?", he did and the next thing I recall we were in a terrace house in south San Fran, inhabited by some frankly evil looking people.
We decided not to buy any pot, as we didn't want to carry it round in public, so paid $10 each and smoked up a couple of joints while we were there.
Just what we needed really.
Already bombed from afternoon drinking we were now stoned, on West Coast pot, famously strong and often spliced with other drugs, to boot.
The night then to on the classic kaleidoscopic texture and with the cocktail of pharmas in my blood, I became convinced that Jack Kerouac was walking with us.
I began to look over my shoulder to see if I could glimpse him.
Faces of men in bars merged Jack's photo on the wall of his pub that I had looked at that afternoon and whilst we weren't 'On the Road' in the classic sense, we certainly stumbled up plenty.
I recall attending a strip bar in the Damon Runyon hours and then nothing.

Sunday

If you think things had been wild, that's correct, but they were about to get wilder still, and it all stemmed from me showing a little self-control for the first time in three days.
A lesson there along the "life is what happens when you're making plans" school of philosophy.
At 11 I checked out of the backpackers (again) and to say the pull of Jack's pub to have a few beers to take the edge off my hangover and emotional pain was magnetic would be to completely understate it.
No earthly magnet could match it.
The pull Jupiter exerts on the asteroid belt was closer to the truth.
However, I knew, hungover, emotionally-destroyed me, just knew that I had to get on that aircraft this night.
The helpful young man at the backpackers told me that the airport shuttle came to the backpackers each day at 11 specifically for those checking out.
Great.
I grabbed my bag and waited in tense fashion on the footpath outside, the shuttle duly arrived and I got on board with a sigh of relief.
I was still tense on the ride out to SFO, worrying that I may break at any moment, yell "stop the bus" and jump off and into the nearest bar.
I could be still there today, begging on the streets, but I held on and was delivered safely to the airport.
It was now noon, with three hours to check in, and five till the flight, but that was my plan, just hang at the airport till time.
However, having got myself there, I then rewarded myself, how else?, by attending the first bar I could find and began drinking.
As I was ordering my third beer and the world around me began to swim into focus like the sand at the bottom of a mouldy fish tank, I noticed that next to me at the bar was an attractive, red-haired woman of youngish middle age.
As I went to order, she did at the same time, so I said, "Can I buy you a drink?"
She said "Thank you" and ordered a martini, and like Jim the day before, we struck up a conversation.
I should point out here that I have always liked North Americans, one of my best friends was Sean from Toronto, my ex-wife was Canadian, the woman who had so recently dumped me, Californian, and this red-head was from Colorado.
I think it is their always upbeat attitude and seductive accent, a north American is always likely, as had Jim the day before, to say "Man, you're Australian, it's great to meet you and just hear your accent".
My red-headed friend's name was Colleen, I asked her what she was doing here and in her reply was the first of the coincidences that occurred that Sunday.
"I'm an art buyer, I'm flying to Sydney this evening to buy some works for our gallery in Vail."
"Oh, really", I said, "Are you on the five p.m. flight?"
"Yes", she replied.
"I am too", I said and then we were well away.
I told her about my work, software, silicon valley and the like and we conversed (and drank) happily for the next three hours.
Then it was time to check in, we attended the desk and received our seat designations.
Then, what else?, we returned to the bar and had a few for the sky, and waited for our flight to be called.
Eventually we boarded.
The cattle class of aircraft has ten seats in a row, three near the window, four in the centre and three against the window on the other side.
To this day I don't know if it it was the ghost of Jack prodding the arm of the check-in clerk, or simply that we were standing together in the line, but when we took our seats, I had the window seat of row 34 with no one next to me, whilst Colleen had the aisle seat in the middle four seats of row 34 with no one next to her.
So she came over and joined me and as soon as airborne we began drinking from the flight attendant's trolley.
Vodka for her, more Budweiser for me.
Then somewhere between the coast of California and the trade-wind caressed shores of Hawaii, we consumated our love against the window of row 34.
I would advise anyone planning this irregular airborne activity to ask the flight attendant for an extra blanket (each), a tarpaulin if possible.
My salient recollection was trying to cover our carryings-on with a woefully inadequate single blanket.
I don't know why I bothered really, we were so drunk that the noise was a far bigger giveaway than a visual sighting in the darkened aircraft.
If the co-pilot had appeared next to me and said "could you keep it down please, we can't concentrate in the cockpit", it wouldn't have surprised me.
Then we fell into a blissful sleep.
Blissful, that is, for the other passengers, who were then in their turn able to get some shut eye.
We eventually turfed up in Sydney Tuesday morning, I showed up to work and had my arse royally, I mean ROYALLY chewed for a) being a day late b) still in the clothes I wore on the plane, c) still drunk, but MOSTLY for funding my three days of Kerouac with a company credit card.






















Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Finally some good news

We had the day that we all work for at Seabird Rescue on Tuesday this week, a turtle release.
You can see in the photo Kath and Helga on the latter's point of departure for the ocean (Helga is the one with the flippers).
I am aware that there is a thing called sympathy burnout or awareness overload, a phenomon referring to the overwhelming amount of causes that need to be fought for, but which caring people just don't have the time and/or resources to fight for.
So I'll just quote few stats.
We see 60-100 sea turtles a year at our hospital in Ballina, half of those die.
This is not through lack of care of course, but to quote Dr Mark Flint from University of Queensland, "we still understand so little about the functioning of the [sea turtle's] digestive tract".
This was evidenced by a story Mark told when he visited our hospital.
A turtle was brought to them for care and swam around in the holding tank for a year, without eating, then died.
Upon necropsy fresh sea grass was found in the animal's crop.
Did the turtle shut down her digestive tract for a year? 
Was she living on these resources in her tract by digesting them slowly?
Did she have a secret sea grass pusher that she bought said herbage from in shifty fashion down some alley when the UQ staff weren't watching?
We just don't know.
Flippancy aside we confront this issue with every turtle that arrives in the hospital.
The reptilian metabolism in very slow, this is good in one way as it takes them a long time to die (we estimate that some turtles may have been floating for a year, gradually becoming too weak to swim, before drifting ashore), but bad in that it takes them a long time to recover.
Also we can't operate on the gut of a living turtle.
Sometimes we know there is plastic inside, usually from finding small bits of it in the faeces, but all we can do is hope that they pass this damaging matter as soon as possible.
It is guestimated that we see 0.001% of turtles who are in trouble and are lucky enough to wash ashore near us at Ballina, and then are lucky enough to be spotted by a beach user, and then are lucky enough that the beach user knows to call us.
Helga's release is therefore a joyous moment for us all, particularly the hospital staff who feed, clean, medicate and keep the stats on the turtles in the tanks.
This one turtle is such a vanishingly small stat, but makes us happy I can tell you.
If you would like to donate or join Seabird Rescue you can do it online by following this link, www.seabirdrescue.org
By the way, we do turtles and birds equally, but haven't come up with a name that combines the two without being cumbersome eg, Australian Sea Turtle and Seabird Rescue.
This was best put drily by my brother who asked if we ever killed any turtles by taking them to a headland and throwing them off.
NO, we can tell the difference.
Elsewhere, I have started a petition to get rid of promos during TV shows.
Sign the petition
This may seem like a trivial thing, but when I thought about it, I only watch commercial TV with my mute button on a hair trigger, and this is a most invasive form of advertising.
Additionally, if we can get the commercial networks to behave on this it gives us a better chance when dealing with more serious infractions eg letting Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands talk.
If you'd like to raise the blood pressure of Barry Daley the Programming Director at Channel Ten, click the picture to sign or email him direct at barry.daley@sca.com.au
Next, do you know what vampire energy is?
It is not as the name suggests ravening appliances that come to life at night an nip you on the neck while sleeping, but then again in a way it is.
It refers to all the energy consumed by appliances that aren't doing anything, the little red light on your set top box and TV are examples of vampire energy.
Wikipedia states: "In Britain in 2006 standby modes on electronic devices accounted for 8% of all British domestic power consumption.[5] A similar study in France in 2000 found that standby power accounted for 7% of total residential consumption.[6]"
My power bill is $144 per quarter, and using the French stat, $10.08 of my power bill is for things that aren't turned on.
My phone gives me a message "Battery full. Unplug charger at socket to save power."
In my ignorance I used to just take the phone off the cord and think the power was off, but this curious photo showed me I was wrong.
I was lying in bed reading one night, one silent night.
With the chilly winter (for us, those in my home town Bathurst I can hear yelling 'pansy' from here), I have turned off my fridge to save power.
I have mentioned in another post that things are so quiet where I live that sometimes the only noise I can hear is the fridge, well this night with the fridge off I gradually became aware of a high pitched whining seeping into the lower range of my hearing.
At first I thought it was a mozzie, but no.
Then I thought it was my tinnitus(ringing in the ears), but it wasn't that either.
I turned my head and realised it was my phone charger, still plugged in, but with no phone attached.
My engineering friend Antony gave me the technical reason, a charger is a mini-transformer and the whine I heard was one coil trying to induce charge in the other.
So now we all know, chargers plugged in while not actually charging a phone are consuming energy, a small amount for sure, but consider this rough maths.
The power bill for my home is $566 a year, if the 22 million Australians live in five million homes, then the power bill for Australian homes per year is ~$2.9 billion, and this doesn't include commercial and industrial.
Thus every year Australians spend $203 million dollars, and emit 10% of our greenhouse emissions, on power for things not in use.
So enough, this post may be titled "Finally some good news", but on looking back over it I found I managed to moan and preach for 90% of it.
It's genius in it's way.






Thursday, 6 June 2013

Kevin Costner, wanted by the cliche police.

Kevin Costner and Whitney:
I was supporting the stalker.
Some posts ago I wrote "I'm not one to complain(much)" and put at least a nice photo of the Pass in the morning to alleviate the moaning.
Well this post follows a similar theme, but even for me have I got something to moan about, stick with it and you will be reading a coruscating, white-hot flame out of certain movies that have been festering away inside me for some years.
But first the good news.
I paid off my car this week.
So relieved, and I want to give thanks to my loan officer, Calvin and his team for treating me with courtesy, respect and professionalism.
I won't name his firm here in the copy, as a lover of Media Watch on the ABC it would be against my journalistic ethics (such as they are), but I can say that, when I thought it through, it was the honesty that I appreciated.
The interest rate was high, 20%, but I knew it would be as my credit record has been spotty as a giraffe wearing a leopard-skin coat, but there were no hidden costs and now the car is mine.
You've seen bits of this car in some of my photos, usually bearing down on some numbskull walking, driving or riding on my side of the damn road, and you'll notice it's maroon.
Thus, my only (minor) complaint is that Calvin's company are Queensland-based and driving around in NSW in a maroon car during state-of-origin season doesn't make me happy, and I wouldn't be surprised if they organised it so that any NSW applicants for a loan get good service and a maroon car.
Moving on, the photo here shows the sunset over Mullum, with Naturopath Mick and his lovely daughter Evie-May enjoying the peace and beauty.
I was around there to talk with Micko about a garage renovation we have coming up together, but sunsets like this are one of the reasons we moved here, so we thought we would take a moment to get in touch with our lentil munching side.
The next night I snapped this sunset pic over my tent, the beauty is eternal up here.
You can also see MY car on the forecourt.
So enough of the tree luvin' hippy crap as Cartmen would say, time for some serious spite.
Some years ago I was watching tv and finding nothing was gripping me, to quote Lister from Red Dwarf, "I was in a state of total smegging ungrippedness".
I flicked around between channels and Keven Costner appeared on the screen.
It was The Bodyguard.
At this time the only thing I knew was that Costner had been in Dances With Wolves, which I had never seen, but everyone had said was a great film.
Tom Cruise made two good films, Born on the Fourth of July and Risky Business, Kevin Costner made one, Dances With Wolves, but at least he scored better than Steve Guttenberg, who has made none.
Thus I watched a little of Bodyguard because of the Wolves vibe and saw that the film was heading for a major cliche, "Surely they're not gonna do that", I said to myself, but sure enough the particular cliche was perpetrated.
I watched a little more and saw they were coming up to another cliche, bigger than the previous, once again I debated in my mind if they could possibly be so bereft of originality that they would go there.
They did.
I then watched with a truly cosmic level of fascination at how bad that film was.
Cliche followed cliche, bad writing overlaid wooden acting that would have made pinocchio ask for his name to be taken from the credits.
Since the plot called for a stalker to be threatening Whitney, I found myself totally starting to barrack for the stalker and hope he offed her quickly and the film would come to a merciful end.
That film was so bad that, believe it or not, it was one of the few times I yelled at the screen.
My yelling was engendered by the bit where they sleep together (bet you never saw THAT coming).
Then the next morning in a staggering display of hypocrisy suddenly Costner has an attack of morals and says with vehemence, "I can't do this. I can't work this way", and leaves a tearful Whitney begging him not to leave.
At this point, driven beyond endurance I yelled, "Well why did you sleep with her in the first place you f*%$^ng arsehole".
Mind you, perhaps that was the only honest part of the film since all men hightail it the next morning like they're leaving the scene of a crime.
Costner couldn't even give it the, "I've got to be at work early" line since guarding Whitney was his job.
This film so enraged me that I first developed my system of Ultimate Audience Feedback or UAF.
What you do is, when a film makes its debut at Grauman's Chinese theatre the producer, director, writer and lead actors have to attend with their genitals linked to a major power source and then anytime the audience are unhappy they can turn a switch on the armrest of their chair and watch as said perps of the movie start shuddering with infused current.
I would also like to see the UAF used, with extreme prejudice, on Leonardo di Caprio, for The Beach.
Leonardo, not wanted period.
I saw this joke of a film one night on the WOOFING farm where I first lived and worked when I drifted into Byron all those years ago.
My friend Dave said, "I'd like to see The Beach tonight, I've heard it's not great, but the scenery is fantastic".
I agreed, sort of hesitantly, and we sat down to watch.
Well he was right on both counts, the scenery was fantastic, and I could certainly believe it repaired the damage to Thailand tourism done by Bangkok Hilton with Nicole Kidman.
Also, "Yes, Dave, it wasn't great".
First thing about this film that boiled my potatoes was that the book by Alex Garland it is taken from is absolutely superb.
One reviewer wrote: "A stunningly confident debut", and I fully agree.
So good was this piece of work that I was amazed that it wasn't his tenth novel.
The book has a crucially tight plot dealing with drug induced madness, pressure, real tension and not an excess word.
But then Hollywood got hold of it and this is what happened next.
The producers approached Leonardo's agent and asked if Leo would do it.
The agent then got back to them and said Leo will do the film as long as he gets to have sex with all the young women on the beach and no one else does, and no one in the film can have a sceric of fat on them.
The producers cravenly agreed and turned a great book into a huge steaming mound of Leonardo's ego.
Additionally, Robert Carlyle was in this rubbish.
He was most famously the lead in The Full Monty, and played Hamish MacBeth and many other roles.
Robbie Carlyle, what the bleep
was he doing in The Beach?
He is a superb actor, just superb, and I wanted to contact him and say "next time you need money, call up and we'll have a whip 'round, that way you don't have to appear in celluloid rubbish like The Beach".
Anyway enough ranting, I didn't even get to Independence Day and Jurassic Park, but that day is coming.
Believe me.