Classic European Film Festival

Thursday 26 March 2009

University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education held its first Classic European Film Festival last weekend. They had put a lot of thought into the films chosen, selecting pieces that are good examples of particular film movements or periods. For example, the man co-ordinating the discussion panel freely admitted to not liking Breathless, but argued (when someone in the audience said they thought the film was nothing but French trite and was even disgusted that it was included amongst the others selected) that you have to at least acknowledge the importance it had at its release and, more importantly, the influence that it still maintains (see: Tarantino). Personally, I’m glad I’ve finally seen Breathless, but would live to be a very happy penguin if I never have to see it again. Anyway, I viewed the weekend as an opportunity to see a bunch of great old films I’ve read about and to be able to tick off another six from the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die (I’d already seen M and Cries and Whispers).

A couple of Sydney Film Festivals ago, in an attempt to stop the effect of the previous year’s where all the films amalgamated into one rather large strange plot-line, I wrote a series of reviews and posted them as entries on the SFF webpage, but also collected as one of my “What I Dids”. I’ve never uploaded it here but I’ve dissected it when in need of a blog; the Can’t Stop the Music review was from that. So, after a weekend of “reading movies” (as a certain someone used to call them), and inspired by a book the lovely Brenda gave me a couple of years ago, One Hundred Great Books in Haikuplease enjoy…

Eight Classic European Films in Haiku

Day One


Germany, 1931, d: Fritz Lang

I wander the streets…
“Like a lolly, little girl?”
Oh damn, they’ve got me! 


The Bicycle Thieves (Ladri Di Biciclette)

Italy, 1948, d: Vittorio de Sica

A father and son.
What’s it all about? One word:

Breathless (A Bout de Souffle)

France, 1960, d: Jean-Luc Goddard

Cop-killing Frenchman
loves an American girl
in a boring film. 


Closely Watched Trains (Ostre Sledovane Vlaky)

Czechoslovakia, 1966, d: Jiri Menzel

Pigeons, Nazis, bombs,
attempted suicide, and
a girl’s bottom stamped. 


Day Two


Italy/France, 1973, d: Federico Fellini

Hate 8 1/2,
but this “memories of youth”
film is delightful. 


Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine)

France/Italy, 1973, d: Francois Truffaut

Auteur Theory asks:
Am I Director or God?
They’re much the same thing. 


Cries and Whispers (Viskningar Och Rop) 

Sweden, 1972, d: Ingmar Bergman

All around is red:
the walls, the floors, the curtains,
and my grieving soul.


Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes)

West Germany/Peru/Mexico, 1973, d: Werner Herzog

Hi, I’m Aguirre.
I’ve gone completely insane!

How much did he pay for the ticket?

Friday 20 March 2009

Went and saw Puccini’s Madama Butterfly last night. Must say I was very disappointed. I thought it was going to be about some lady lepidopterist but I was sorely mistaken. It’s all about some Jap chick who marries a Yank! I mean, where were the pith helmets and great big flowing nets? Not a jam jar with holes punched into the lid in sight.


What I did during Mardi Gras 2009 – The end

Sunday 15 March 2009

First, grand apologies that this thing is so W-A-A-Y late. I’ve been too tired to try to think about what to say, let alone being able to write. Plus I’ve been sick and had to prepare my first presentation for uni. So please forgive my tardiness.

What happened last time? It seems so far away, let’s see… I was considering not going to the Pool Party, right. Well, I did go and had the most fun I had the entire MG period free of any form of stimulants. It’s pretty easy to understand why the Pool Party is so enjoyable: big boofy men + blow-up pool toys = instant fun. It’s great – basically 100-plus men in a wave pool playing with a lot of beach balls and plastic crocodiles. This year we even had two blow-up pirate ships and we held mock battles until one of them burst and sunk to the bottom of the pool (the Chloriny Deep?). After that we spent the time trying to kick people out of the pirate ship so you can get on instead, then trying not to get yourself kicked off. It’s great, it’s so silly, and there’s not a glass of beer or ecstasy pill in sight. It’s so funny – the event that people always remark on being their favourite memory of MG is caused solely by natural highs. 

Afterwards everyone heads off to the Flinders (or tries to squeeze themselves into the Flinders) but I went home to nurse my cold and made do with half a cask of red. At one point, trying to get up after lying on the bed watching telly, I was so stiff from all the additional exercise I’d done at the Pool Party that I found that I could not move. I had to roll myself off the bed and hobble stiff-legged about. I’m not sure if that means I was that sick or that unfit.

Saturday is the pre-March picnic (which was nice) then we were marshalled into our designated spot for the March itself. Again, I was in two minds about the whole thing – last year we stood around for four hours, not being allowed to sit in the curb or leave to get a drink, and I wasn’t sure if I was really up to that sort of marathon again. I still wasn’t feeling fantastic and spent a lump of the time blowing snot into an ever-increasingly soggy handkerchief. Last year the Bears were third last float. This year we were somewhere in the middle so, thinking it’s not going to be that long a wait, I took a wristband and joined the line. 

In many ways I think the waiting to March part is so much more interesting than the March itself. First you have the anticipation of the March (which is pretty mind blowing), but you also have the opportunity to see all the other floats on amass. And not just all together, but mingling, blending, amalgamating into one colourful canvas. Next door to us was the Foxtel float (they were a media sponsor) and had lots of boys running around in orange and black and a group of Pam Ann attired drag queens.  Over were the surf livesavers in their red and yellow Speedos with their sequenced frilly red and yellow flags. Down a bit were the Leather Pride peoples, staging mock whippings. Further along was a peculiar float about saving the Tasmanian Devil made out of paper flowers – what that had to do with MG I will never understand. There was also the Ethel Yarwood float Surry Hillsong, a parody on the horrendous Hillsong church. A friend of mine was dressed as Anne Kali for the Ankali float (getit?), a support organisation for people with HIV/AIDS; I’ve been meaning to join them for years, perhaps when uni is finished. Plus all the other floats, all brightly coloured and decked out with beautiful people attired in body paint or not much at all. But whoever arranges the floats does have a sense of humour: behind the Bears was the Animal Liberation Front float with their Love Cows, Don’t Kill Cows creation, so you had all these people with “Meat is Murder” banners painted up like Friesians mingling with a bunch of large meat loving men most wearing some form of leather. It was all rather bizarre, especially when a group of them came over and started dancing to our speaker system and not their own. 

Luckily we didn’t have to wait very long till we marched, and being in the first allotment we were able to see the floats travel past. It also gave you an idea of how long it was going to be until your own turn. And then we were off. I was wearing my Bill t-shirt for the occasion, mostly as I wanted something warmish (I went topless last year and it was a bloody cold night) as I didn’t want to get sicker.

Marching this year was different than last time. I enjoyed it, but I never obtained the same rush as before. Last year was my first March, and that plus the stretched anticipation caused by being one of the very last floats, had me feeling almost nauseous from nerves. But then we started to walk / march / dance our way along Oxford Street and the noise from the crowds aligning the path – sometimes six or seven people deep, standing on milk crates or squashed down between legs – was overwhelming, and I nearly burst into tears. I didn’t, thankfully, but I had to keep telling myself not to – there’s nothing sadder than a bawling bear. I’ve lived and partied on Oxford Street for over 10 years now, but this was, like I said, my first March, and it suddenly dawned on me that this was such an immense statement to make. I was out and proud and openly… shouting at these hundreds of thousand people, plus those who may see me from the media, that I was gay. Not just that, but gay and happy. Straight people can’t do that; sure they openly telling you that they are straight, but they are never given the chance to so broadly tell you they are happy. I went home straight after the March last year, there was nothing that could have beaten the joy I felt. If I remember correctly I watched West Side Story and enjoyed a few beers. 

This year I didn’t reach the same charge, which is a bit of a shame. I wasn’t feeling well. I was incredibly tired from (and perhaps “of”) the Bears Essentials week, and from the previous four weeks making the Bills. I was battling a cold sore so I wasn’t feeling all that attractive. But I also think the float didn’t “flow” as well as last time – our lead truck kept stopping and starting, as if being driven by someone not used to a clutch. This always happens – some group beforehand always stops the whole flow by doing some convoluted dance routine – but it seemed to happen a little more than previously, so you sort of got in the groove of the March, bopping away to the dance music blaring from the back of the mirror ball and strobe light decked out truck, and then suddenly come to a grounding halt where you sort of jiggle on the spot till the truck starts up again. But still, seeing all those people, those complete strangers, cheering us on, for that alone it was worth it.

After the March I met up with Ashley at the Flinders. I woke up at home around noon on Sunday with no money so I’m assuming I had a good time. That night I went to my first Woof Club MG Recovery. I had been told they get very raucous affair, all leather and rubber and promiscuous acts – at 11.30, when I first arrived, there was already people in the darkened corners having sex. Personally, I always feel a little (just a little?) uncomfortable about such open displays of rooting, but who am I to comment; I used to design the invites for an orgy group. It took me a while to get into the swing of the party and had a much better time off the dance floor and hanging out in the open spaces by the bar. I knew a few people there too, so that was nice. 

Did I get lucky? No, but I did have the experience that night of urinating on my first gentlemen. Three times. He seemed to enjoy it. 

I was there till stumps (some time after 6) and the small group I had joined managed to queue jump and get ourselves into the Phoenix day club. My last memory is standing at the bar, and then I wake up at home with no money, so again I’m assuming I had a good time. 

So that was Mardi Gras for 2009. A week later I still feel exhausted, but that’s also because I had to prepare my first presentation for uni – three nights in a row of not getting to bed till after 4am cannot be good for you. That’s also why I’m so late with this blog. I’ll tell you more about uni some other time. Now, I’m going to go and have a nap.

What I did during Mardi Gras 2009 – The middle

Friday 6 March 2009

I’m buggered. Not literally, just physically. Umm…

First the exhibition opening went over fantastic. As you’ll see from the first entry in the Mardi Gras trilogy I was even successful in selling some of the works – hurrah! I must admit I was even a little surprised; I think I’d became a little too attached and couldn’t see them as anything of great worth, just bits of fabric all stuck together. I felt both humbled and honoured that friends and strangers would think my work was worth owning and displaying. I’ll be very modest when I accept their money (gimme gimme gimme!). But there are still works available so if you are interested, drop me a line

Actually, the big seller was the t-shirt that I had knocked up for the night. I had made one of my many red tops into a version of “Just Bill”, and I spent the night taking enquiries from people wanting to know where they can get their own. I hadn’t thought about tops, just making the one as a promotional tool, but I’m going to have to think about this now; it’s just that it’s a lot of work. 

Tuesday was the Bears Essentials launch, which was an exhausting night. It didn’t help that I got told off for yelling at the bar manager (which I didn’t. I asked her what happened to the bucket that I had fetched from the restaurant for the mailbox and when she told me she’d taken it I asked if I was going to get it back) so frankly I was pretty much over this volunteering gig only a few hours in. At one point, leaning against the traffic guards sipping my umpteenth beer, I couldn’t wait to get back to work.

Wednesday was the Underbear dance (frankly I find all these “bear” names ridiculous – Underbear, Bearmail, Cybear cafe – I feel like I’m trapped in a Saturday morning cartoon) which was a great night, though if I have one more person ask me if I’ve got red pubes it’ll be Glasgow Kiss time. I did start the night by telling the first person to ask me to “go fuck a dog”, I just wasn’t in the mood. It just gets to me; is this the best pick up line they can come up with? It’s all so pathetically obvious. Same sort of thing happened Thursday at the Dinner Dance (nice food, but I think the rest of the planned night was a fizzer), where I was asked does my “colouring” go all over my body, and what’s it like to be a redhead, and told that it must be terrible being a redhead. Of course, I also got the usual “I’ve got a thing for redheads” but I’ve been getting that all my gay life. The thing is – and this is the thing – what am I supposed to say in return? Oh you poor thing, here’s the number of a Support Group you can join? Or: Gosh it must be terrible for you to be only attracted to less than one twentieth of the population? How about: Boy, what a turn on it is for you to say that, let’s go screw in the toilets now? Usually what I settle on is Thank you and a smile and try to change the conversation.

But back to the Underbear party. I did have a great night boogie-ing away (Does anyone still use the verb “to boogie”?), being the last person on the downstairs floor, then heading up and being one of the last upstairs when they turned on the lights at 6. Must admit, was very tired when I got home and was fast asleep by 7, fan on, blinds pulled tight. I finally got up in the very late afternoon to realise the telly was still on and the morning alarm on the laptop was happily buzzing away. But I was still pretty tired, which may be why I didn’t think much of the Dinner Dance. Caught the first bus back to the Flinders Hotel (Harbour City Bears Headquarters) and took off home after half a beer. 

Today (Friday) I went back to the Flinders and collected my artworks. While there a couple came up to have a look but I had already wrapped them up. I gave them a card and did my best spruik – they mentioned they were interested in “Chef Bill” who is still available so maybe they’ll call back. 

In an hour’s time started the Pool Party, which I’m now in two minds about attending. First, I’m just a bit tired of the whole Bear party thing, but more importantly I woke up on Tuesday with the tingle of a cold sore. After no longer having to concentrate so hard on the canvases my body finally gave in and let the germs invade. Straight on with the Zovirax I bet the disease but it still leaves the lip all chewed up and scabby. So I don’t look all that inviting anyway, but last thing I want is that soggy bloated mangy skin look that you get when a scab gets wet. But it was one of the most fun events of last year, so… perhaps. Afterwards we all gather at Flinders and get horrendously squashed; I think I’ll pass on that.

Tomorrow is the March (it’s not a Parade) and I’m down to help get the float ready (I think this means stringing some coloured lights around a truck), then there’s the picnic followed by the hours of standing around for the parade itself. Last year, as the third last float, the Bear’s didn’t start on the route till sometime around 10.30pm. It was a long day, and hard on the bladder too (eventually decorum gave in and any available doorway became a urinal – call it what you like, when you gotta go, you gotta go). I’m looking forward to doing the March again, it’s an amazing buzz. I’m not attending the party and will probably just head home afterwards. I think the trick is to know when enough is enough and I’m not very good at knowing when is enough.

So only a few more days to go, and why I may occasionally think it, leaning tired against a wall, I don’t think I’m ready to go back to work, not just yet.

What I did during Mardi Gras 2009 – The beginning

Monday 2 March 2009

Well, I haven’t done anything yet; this should be called “What I am going to do during Mardi Gras 2009″ but that doesn’t have much of a ring to it. But as this is Part One of a three-parter it’s nice to have some consistency with names so I’ll stick to what we have. Besides, it’s traditional.

Actually, what I have done – all I’ve done – over the last couple of days is hand sew, backstitch, and screw in little hooks, all in the name of Art. I have relied on my fingers so much, pulling on threads and pushing through needles, that I have now over-sensitised their tips. Every touch feels like tiny shards of glass. I stepped on a needle the other night, embedding it into the skin of my big toe, and it really hurt. My fingertips feel like that but one hundred needles all at once. Typing this I’m relying on my pinky and ring finger to do all the work; Tall Man and Pointer just aren’t in the mood. 

I sewed the last nose on this morning at 5.30, finished the t-shirt around 6, then started on cutting out the pieces from the A4 sheet, before getting some desperately needed sleep at 7. Back up at 11, finished the cutting, then mounted the card, wrapped the canvases in brown paper, filled my bag with hanging utensils, had a quick shower, and was out the door by 1.15. I was the first person at the hotel, which I’m little surprised at, and no one else showed up for at least another hour. When I left the hotel at 4 only three artist of a possible (what?) 11 or 14 had hung. Too bad for the last one, I say. 

I’ve just printed the little “thank you” stickers that will go on the back on envelopes for any A4 sheets I sell ($5 a sheet – cheap! Get yours today!) and was going to write up a little contract thing for any interested parties for the canvases, but have since thought wiser of it. Do need to take a note pad and my banking details if anyone does show interest ($250 a canvas – reserve your character today!). Of course you haven’t seen what any of these things look like, have you? While I took a picture of each canvas on display, silly forgot to take a group shot. I will during the exhibition and will post here, but till then, here are the twelve Bills:

Just Bill - SOLD!

Just Bill - SOLD!

Business Bill

Business Bill

Casual Clyde

Casual Bill

Chef Clyde

Chef Bill

Super Clyde

Super Bill - SOLD!

Pool Party Clyde

Pool Party Bill

Dorothy Bill

Dorothy Bill - SOLD!

Country Bill

Country Bill

Flinders Bill

Flinders Bill

Leather Bill

Leather Bill - SOLD!

Slave Bill - SOLD!

Slave Bill - SOLD!

Party Bill - SOLD!

Party Bill - SOLD!

They’re pretty cute, hey? But I have to admit it wasn’t until after midnight this morning, when I sewed on the first nose, before I was able to say “It’s worked”.

But aren’t the noses just adorable! I have my trusty Yo-Yo Maker to thank for them. Now what to do with it? Lucky there’s this webpage of attractive handcrafts using a yo-yo maker; simply over-flowing with ideas. I’m definitely making that stuffed pinecone.

Right, better go have that shower and work out what outrageously bright jacket best goes with the outrageously kitsch Bill t-shirt. Hope to see you there (of course by the time you read this it will be “Hope that I saw you there”), and if you can’t make it, then wish me luck.