Filthy Rich & Fictional

September 30, 2008

I received a superannuation statement the other day – on current projections my retirement fund will be able to buy a caffe latte and a piece of cake! Well, maybe not the cake. So I’ve reconsidered my financial situation, and now have an excellent retirement plan – I’m hoping that the Large Hadron Collider will eventually create a black hole, destroying the Earth in a fraction of a second. Everyone wins!

So there’s no chance I’ll be appearing on the Forbes 400 anytime soon.

For those who don’t follow the exploits of the obscenely rich, Forbes magazine has been around since 1917 and is available “bi-weekly” in the US, and fortnightly everywhere else. It’s most famous for its Forbes 400 list, which has been published annually since 1982. This is a list of the USA’s 400 richest people – Forbes is effectively Smash Hits for business nerds.

I’ve never understood the appeal of this list – does anyone care whether a “Real Estate Mogul” you’ve never heard of is worth more than a “Technology Titan” you’ve never heard of? Are there people who rush out on the morning of publication to find out if they’ve finally made it to number 271 this year? Does the person who was 401st on the list get a “highly commended” certificate and a McDonalds voucher?

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday: Cats

September 26, 2008

So the Evil Doctor and I decided to attend the Royal Show. After all, any event featuring both duck-herding and pig-diving must be worth a look – you don’t get that at the Melbourne Writers Festival. And as a bonus, it was cat judging day, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a pissed-off Norwegian Forest Cat.

Read the rest of this entry »

To The Last Man

September 24, 2008

Dan Cardone recently worked on two epic productions – Steven Spielberg‘s The Pacific, the most expensive television production ever shot in Australia, and To The Last Man, a gay porn video for Raging Stallions. Here he talks about his experiences on the latter…

There is a good reason most pornography is shot in controlled locations and features minimal plot.

  1. It makes shooting quicker and less expensive,
  2. porn models generally can’t act (or memorise lines, or hit their marks, or in any way be convincingly human…) and
  3. it’s all about SEX.

So San Francisco-based Raging Stallion Studios is taking a huge risk, to say the least, in creating their two-part period Western porno, To The Last Man.

To The Last Man features a huge budget for the genre, a large cast, an actual plot (with dialogue and everything), all shot an hour and a half out of Young, Arizona. For two weeks in August, the Q Ranch served home to seven crew, and fourteen ADD-riddled models as we strived to make art – hard-core art. Raging Stallion hopes To The Last Man will be the Titanic of porn. But it might end up being its Waterworld.

I was along as a humble grip – which in porn shoot lingo means The Guy Who Does Everything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eight Theme Tunes No TV Show Could Live Up To

September 23, 2008

A television theme tune serves many purposes – it establishes the start of the show, and it stops all the programmes running together and becoming totally incomprehensible. (“Jon Pertwee was battling the Daleks, and now there’s a man reading the news? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???”).

It also sets the tone for what is about to follow.  Exciting – spooky – newsy – scantily-clad – all these ideas can be conveyed in theme tune form. The theme tune may be on the way out, with shows like Lost and Torchwood abandoning the concept of the title sequence, but a great theme tune can live forever.

But what if the theme tune is… too good? Is it possible for a theme tune to promise something so exciting, so spooky, so newsy or so scantily-clad that the television show simply cannot live up to it?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Following are 8 theme tunes that no show could live up to. It doesn’t mean the shows were bad, it just means the themes promised such excitement, such drama that the shows were – perhaps – found lacking.

Read the rest of this entry »

Words, Words, Words: The World Of Blurbs

September 22, 2008

It’s festival time in Melbourne. Actually, it’s always festival time in Melbourne. Arts, Film, Comedy, Fashion, Writers, Design, Stencil, Cycling, Jazz, Brass, Animation, Fringe, Moomba, Tap, Travel Writing, Italian, Scarf, Funk… and that’s just the first five pages of Google results. Melbourne has a festival for everything. But how do you decide which film to see? Which comedy show? Which travel writer? Which scarf?

In most cases your guide will be the festival program, and the description of each event. 150 words need to convince you to commit your time and money, to get off the couch and turn off those old tapes of Chances – “The best kabuki puppet western you’ll see all year!” “I laughed so hard I mislaid my socks!” “Gong Li is the most beautiful woman on Earth!”

Anne-Marie Peard wrote about the launch of the Melbourne Fringe Festival program a couple of weeks ago, and we talked about blurbs during the Melbourne International Film Festival. But what makes a good blurb? What needs to be in that magic paragraph to pull in the punters and let the sun shine in?

The Outland Institute assembled a panel of experts to address this deeply important issue…

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday: Soap Stars Revealed!

September 19, 2008

Last week we explored the murky depths of the pop world, where old soap stars come to die. You were asked to name the following ten soap stars and their songs:

How did you go? Answers after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

Great Literature Of The 20th Century: Spotlight On Australia

September 18, 2008

Today we explore a classic tome from the The Outland Institute library – Spotlight On Australia, by that acclaimed and impartial author “the Australian Publicity Council”. This handsome coffee-table book is an exciting snapshot of an emerging nation, and is lavishly illustrated through-out.

Oddly, there’s no copyright date printed anywhere in this book, but through careful deduction we can determine the year of publication. The book starts with a message from Prime Minster Robert Menzies, placing it somewhere between 1949 and 1966. The Melbourne Olympic Games have already occurred, so we know it’s post-1956. There’s no talk of decimal currency so we know it’s pre-1963. Searching the text, we find this: “In 1788 British colonisation was begun. The whole of the current civilisation of Australia has been created in 174 years”. So mathematically we can determine that the book was published in 1962.

Also, “Xmas 1962” is written in biro on the first page.

Although this would appear to be an addition to the book, and not part of the original printing. (Additionally, the original volume was probably not bound with silver gaffer tape, as shown above).

Read the rest of this entry »


September 17, 2008

As I’m sure you all know, Friday is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Invented in 1995 by John Baur (aka “Ol’ Chumbucket”) and Mark Summers (“Cap’n Slappy”) as a personal joke, the day became widely known after journalist Dave Barry wrote about it in his syndicated column in The Miami Herald.

Now every September 19th, CEOs use the term “land-lubber”, homeless people ask you for “pieces of eight” and people around the world greet each other with “Ahoy, me hearty!” (although McDonalds employees are still required to use the more traditional “Hail fellow, well met” as their standard greeting).

Read the rest of this entry »

Youtube Teaches Us Politics

September 16, 2008

In lieu of a proper article today, let’s learn about politics from Youtube, shall we?

I know you’re all out there, thinking “I really want to hear more about the American elections, porcine cosmetics and people who bizarrely name their children after second-tier English towns/breast double-entendre“. So this is for you!

Read the rest of this entry »

Soap Stars Go Pop!

September 13, 2008

After my reference to Toni Pearen a couple of days ago, I decided to have a look at how many Aussie soap-opera actors have attempted a music career. The answer? All of them.

So I selected 10 songs by soap stars and have cut them together below. Your challenge is to name the ten performers and ten songs. Oddly, I suspect this may be too hard for readers of The Outland Institute, and too easy for readers of TV Week. (Does TV Week still exist?)

Pens ready…

You want the answers? You can’t handle the answers! Oh alright, they’re here.