Bags Of Fun

October 18, 2011

Just like at the Oscars, guests attending the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival get a goodie bag. The Oscars bags are famously lavish, containing things like diamond jewellery, human growth serum or Justin Timberlake. But what’s in a queer film festival show-bag? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Let’s start with the bag itself – it’s a red plasticy shopping bag with “xfinity” written on it. They’re one of the major sponsors of the festival, I think. I have no idea what xfinity do but from their name I would guess they either sell multidimensional travel or they make CGI alien porn in the style of Avatar. I can think of no other options.

A copy of the latest issue of Seattle Met, which warns of “The Return Of Ryan Leaf”, presumably a variant of Dutch Elm Disease.

“W Hotels Present Global Glam Fall 2011 Collection”. It’s a fashion guide that’s actually intended to promote a hotel, which seems a little confusing (mind you, I just went to a pizza party to celebrate an HIV documentary held in a car showroom, so what do I know?). Mostly it appears to be a spotter’s guide to mad women:

Yep, she’s totally crazy.

One 23 gram bag of popchips – “popped chip snack”, barbeque flavour (yes, spelt with a “q” in place of the “c” for some reason). Already eaten (by me, I mean. It wasn’t already eaten when I got it. Quite tasty).

One can of Zevia “all natural soda”, grape flavoured. Quite vile. But I suspect that “grape flavour” is just a cultural difference between our nations. After all, you can’t buy roast-quokka flavoured milkshakes here either, and at home they’re ubiquitous. The drink is apparently “sweetened with Stevia” which is not a phrase you want your mind to rest on for too long. I don’t even know who Stevia is.

Starbucks-related product. In Seattle this is inevitable – the bag also contains a wing flap from a Boeing 747-8F and a vial of Bill Gates’ tears.

The Damron Women’s Traveller guide (2011 edition). Curiously,when it comes to Australia only Sydney gets listed. It appears there are no lesbians in Melbourne. Sorry, ladies.

Marriott-branded luggage tags. They’re done up like a bag of lollies, so this could be a choking hazard for very stupid children with extremely wide mouths. IT COULD HAPPEN.

30ml bottle of bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo with wheat proteins and anti-static actives, the shampoo that doesn’t believe in capital letters. Or making any sense. Again courtesy of W Hotels. This is either the stuff all the crazy women in the brochure use, or THE THING THAT DROVE THEM MAD IN THE FIRST PLACE. You be the judge!

A genuine sex toy! Bet they don’t get that at the Oscars! Well, they probably do, and it’s diamond encrusted and designed by Philippe Starck, or something. Anyway, this is provided by Babeland (“sex toys for a passionate world”) and it’s one of those Japanese “egg” things that Brenda talked about in the second season of Six Feet Under. Batteries not included (but there is a 10% off voucher for future purchases).

And while we’re talking about sex:

It’s a piggy key-ring to promote the Steamworks gay sauna. I’m not sure what “transparent green” means in the hanky code, but I’m guessing it’s “enjoys independent cinema”.

Not one but TWO pens celebrating both literacy and King FM 98.1, the classical music station formerly known as KACL, home to grumpy radio psychiatrists. That could be a lie.

Incidentally, this photo genuinely shows you how they achieved the “floating pen” effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey, only they used double-sided tape and it probably wasn’t a coffee table.

There were also a stack of vouchers offering discounts on meals and drinks, a gymnasium offer which promised something called “toesox” (previously thought wiped out in the middle ages) and an Orbitz-branded box that looked like a pack of cards which – surprisingly – actually turned out to be a pack of cards. And not a guide to hidden bars, or the best countries starting with “e”, or Seattle’s best meat lockers, or anything. It says something that people from Melbourne now expect anything that looks like a pack of cards to actually be an artfully-designed guide to hidden secrets and not – you know – cards.

And finally my favourite. From the good people at Bob Byers Volvo it’s this:

It’s blue plastic, translucent, with a spiky bit with a razor blade on one side, and on the other there’s a white brush. The slogan “your travelling companion for life” is printed on it, but that might be referring to a Volvo and not to the device. Hell, it might be referring to Bob Byers. Turn it over…

…and there’s a black switch that makes a smaller, black brush poke out the end. What the hell is it? Feeling it might be something exclusively American (a sharpener for fourth-of-July flags, perhaps, or a pop-tarts utensil) I asked my fabulous hosts. They both immediately recognised the sharp bits as a letter opener (fancy!) but the brushes remain a mystery.

If my bag was a Swiss Army Knife, this would be that tool that gets stones out of horses feet. And I cherish it, even though it bewilders me.

So thank you for the gifts, Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival! Now I’m off to drink Bill Gates’ tears. And to buy some batteries.

John Richards is the co-creator of Outland, the bestest-gay-science-fiction-fan-comedy in the southern hemisphere. It plays the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film festival on October 18th & 19th at Central Cinema, 1411 21st Avenue, Seattle. More details here. Remember to look at the insanity of the Where’s Outland? tumblr here.


It’s Me – It’s Not You…

October 12, 2011

For those of you planning to stalk me in the next few weeks, here’s your handy cut-out-and-keep guide:

The best-gay-and-lesbian-science-fiction-fan-club-television-comedy-ever-probably Outland will be having its world premiere in Seattle on October 18th and 19th at Central Cinema as part of the 16th Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (you’ll find the cinema in the Central District, at 21st and Union. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds extremely glamorous). It starts at 6pm each night, with episodes 1 to 3 showing on the Tuesday and 4 to 6 on the Wednesday. I’ll be attending both screenings as a guest of the festival.

Incidentally, for our American readers, that’s the entire series. Just the six episodes. It’s going to be exactly like Abed and Cougarton Abbey on Community all over again, but without the Inspector Spacetime downloads afterwards. Central Cinema is fully licensed, so if you don’t find it funny you can always get drunk.

Tickets for the Outland screening are available here. Tickets for Seattle are available here (whatever you do, don’t book through Virgin Australia’s Groups And Entertainment section as IT WILL TAKE YOU FOREVER and they will send you emails stressing how unimportant you are. Honestly, it was threatening to go Gasp Jeans there for a bit. “The exclusive airline of Australians In Film”, my arse…).

Then, back in Melbourne, I will be giving a brief talk at ACMI about Star Trek: The Animated Series, because that’s the kind of thing I do, apparently. It’s part of Space: TV’s Final Frontier, this month’s Live In The Studio at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and I’ll be part of a panel that includes RRR’s Robert Jan, Clementine Ford, Dr Djoymi Baker and my fellow Boxcutter Josh Kinal as referee. That’s what they call it, isn’t it? Tickets are available here.

A warning for those planning on attending events in both Seattle and Melbourne – I may wear the same suit. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

And speaking of Inspector Spacetime – and because the Internet is infinite – someone has created a brilliant tumblr called “Where’s Outland?” that features our two publicity images getting into all kinds of scrapes. Feel free to add to the fun.


Poetry and Pop

May 12, 2011

A couple of quick plugs for the weekend ahead for all you Melbourne-based arty-types – I’ll be hosting an event for Australian Poetry at The Wheeler Centre on Saturday the 14th May. It’s called one.seven.six and will feature readings from Terry Jaensch as well as Susan Hawthorne, Elizabeth Beaton, Trevor Ball and m d west. You can find out more by going clickety-click right here.

Then on Sunday night it’s the official Boxcutters Eurovision Party at Seraphim (formerly Vibe on Smith), 123 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Look at the classy poster!

So if you want to stalk me, you know where I’ll be…


Moving Pictures

March 10, 2011

I helped dismantle Channel 9 today. Not in a “death to the capitalist media overlords” way – sadly – but with a screwdriver.

Yes, the Bendigo Street studios of GTV9 are closing and everything must go! The building was originally a piano factory, then a cannery, but from 1957 it’s been Television City. The glamour of Graham Kennedy, Don Lane and Sale Of The Century clings to the walls like a poorly-cleaned toilet. Some say Bert Newton haunts these corridors and he’s not even dead.

But Channel 9 is moving to Docklands, so they’re having the world’s biggest car boot sale. They’ve auctioned their equipment online and when a friend went to pick up a Umatic tape machine I said I’d go along. In my head this would involve visiting Richmond, selecting a carefully-marked box, and going home for biscuits.  How wrong I was.

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Something Funny Down Under

March 2, 2011

John Richards explores the very 1970s phenomenon of English sitcoms decamping to Australia. Contains double-entende and cat jokes.

As you’re probably aware, English comedian Ben Elton recently had a high-profile variety show crash and burn on Channel 9. While I do feel people may have taken a little too much glee in its downfall, it’s true Elton made it hard for people to sympathise with him. With his endless tirades about the young people – with their interwebs and the twitter and the hopping and the bopping – he mostly came across as a 24-hour audition for Grumpy Old Men.

And the show itself was fairly dire – horrendously unfunny pieces like Fat Chef competed with the seemingly endless Girl Flat sketches to see which could reach the antithesis of comedy first. It was almost like a mathematical exercise. But as a friend remarked, it would be awful if this show ended up clouding people’s appreciation of Elton‘s bona fide achievements, as a co-writer of The Young Ones and the notably better series of Blackadder.

Elton has always had a love of Australia (and Australians, or at least one of them) and word was that he had moved to Western Australia and was making this show as “a local”. But I’ll admit that when I first heard of Live From Planet Earth I wondered if this was a return to the days where we would seemingly let any famous person with an English accent have a TV show simply because they were from “over there”. I’m talking, of course, of the 1970s, when Australian television was awash with English shows in Antipodean clothing.

To be clear, I’m not talking about what we now know as “format rights”, in which a new show is based on the template for another (so The Kumars At Number 42 becomes Greeks On The Roof, for example). And I’m not talking a Very Special Episode in which the cast travel Down Under for a one-off adventure with as many koalas as the budget can manage (such as The Love Boat‘s 1981 feature-length special, “Julie’s Wedding”).

No, these are shows which directly continued the British original, in which the lead character has spontaneously moved to Sydney or Melbourne. It’s effectively the inverse of Neighbours characters moving to Queensland.

Let’s have a look at a few examples, shall we?

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The Cauliflower Of Morbius

February 26, 2011

So, I was tidying around the website – polishing the fonts, putting doilies on the html code, that sort of thing – and I found this image in the comments that you may have missed the first time around. Either enjoy the sheer inconguity of it, or if you’d like to know why this exists read our review of The Doctor Who Cookbook and the follow-up article.

No, you’re welcome.

Thank you to David AA for his photshopping expertise, and why not buy a copy of The Brain Of Morbius from amazon.co.uk? Part proceeds go toward buying John coffee. Or buy the Doctor Who double pack of Kinda and Snakedance just because they’re both grouse and have giant snakes in them.


Want To Be In Outland?

November 10, 2010

Outland is a new comedy series for broadcast on the ABC in 2011 and already being called “the best gay and lesbian science fiction fan club themed comedy series ever.” By us. Just then. And you can be part of it!

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