Bob from Bombay

29 August, 2007

In class tonight we were discussing telemarketers, and in particular the lack of English skills from those outsourced workers based in non-English speaking countries.
We’ve all heard stories about how the training of these workers includes giving them a heads up on local customs and idioms.

One of the ladies in my class reckons she once got a call from a guy who wished her a ‘Happy Anzac Day’!


Go Aussie – Kerryn McCann

28 August, 2007


A guest post from my buddy and Write On! regular commentator, Colin Gray.

Colin’s letter below won Letter of the Day in today’s Herald Sun newspaper. The prize was a Waterman pen, not bad. The Herald-Sun editors butchered his letter a bit (must have needed a bit of extra room for Angry of Ascot Vale), so I’ve reproduced it in full.

As a kid brought up in a footy and cricket household I have spent many a day over my 40 plus years at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I have some of the most amazing and fantastic memories of sporting events held atthe MCG. I was there to see my beloved Bombers win four premierships, I saw Collingwood’s Twiggy Dunne barrel that wobbly old punt kick to draw the ’77 Grand Final with North Melbourne, I cheered for Warnie the day he got his hat trick and I chanted Lillee’s name as he terrorised thePoms in the Centenary Test.

I’ve attended Rugby Union, Soccer and I even saw Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones on stage at the MCG.

All of these were great moments and fill me with lifetime memories but one of the most memorable moments for me at the ‘G’ was the day I cheered marathon runner Kerryn McCann home in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

I had never heard of Kerryn McCann before that day and marathon running was something I had never really taken an interest in but when Kerrynraced into the stadium along with Kenyan runner Hellen Cherono Koskei the roar from the 80,000 crowd was something I had never heard before.

Everyone stood to cheer Kerryn on and as she pulled away with 200m to go to win gold, my wife, two children and I were yelling at her “Go Aussie – Go Aussie”. When Kerryn did her victory lap draped in an Australian Flag with her young son I unashamedly had watery eyes and a lump in my throat in pride of the moment I had just witnessed with my family.

Here was a mum in her late 30’s who took on some of the world’s best distance runners and won. With courage and fighting spirit along with the crowd behind her she won gold for her country and provided me at least with one of the most inspirational and greatest sporting moments I have ever witnessed.

It is with this inspiration that I cheer Kerryn on again as she battles breast cancer.

Everything I know about Kerryn McCann stems from what I learnt that day at the MCG and from the TV and press interviews that followed. She is a fighter with a huge heart. She loves her country and she’s a great mum and family person. Kerryn is extremely positive and I’m sure she will front her latest and toughest race head on. I hope Kerryn can still hear my voice of support and the roar of the crowd as she takes on and wins her cancer fight.

Go Aussie.

Farewell and thanks for the memories

26 August, 2007


Two people who will always have a special place in my memories.

Thanks Jimmy and Sheeds.

Movie Review – Die Hard 4.0

25 August, 2007

Die Hard 4.0


The secret to watching and enjoying action movies is to suspend disbelief and leave the logical part of your brain at the door. Just sit back, strap yourself in, and go along for the ride.

There will be weak plots. There will be villains that can’t shoot. There will be over-the-top stunts. There will be corny jokes. But if you can put all that out of your mind, there is often nothing more entertaining than a big budget action film.

Die Hard 4.0 sees the return of Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) to the big screen for the first time since 1995. This time he takes on a group of cyber-terrorists determined to bring America to its knees via the systematic shut down of its computer systems.

McClane receives a call to bring in hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long), a suspect in some preliminary breaches of the FBI’s network. It soon becomes apparent that Farrell is being hunted by the real baddies, led by the slimy Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), with McClane required to direct his attention towards protecting Farrell while hunting down the baddies.

Gabriel kidnaps McClane’s daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), which of course makes things very personal for McClane.

Willis can play McClane in his sleep, bringing just the right touches of humour, determination and emotion to the role. There are a few ironic references to previous versions of the franchise, and plenty of wry one-liners. The plot rolls along briskly, without too much attention to detail or believability. The stunts are great though as expected way overblown. Long and Winstead are believable in their roles, and Olyphant does his best in a fairly stereotypical villain’s role.

If action movies are your thing, you won’t be disappointed with Die Hard 4.0.

My rating = 3 1/2 stars

Changing of the guard

23 August, 2007

Restaurant Review:
Greasy Joe’s, 64 Acland Street, St Kilda

Fat Bastard Burger

In his seminal book on being a man (cleverly titled Manhood), Steve Biddulph talks about the need for there to be a changing of the guard in family dynamics; a time where the patriarch of the family can sit back, take a deep breath, and notionally hand over responsibility for the ongoing wellbeing of his family to the next generation.

Personally, I had imagined that the time for me to hand the reins over to young Timothy Michael Watson Clarke would be years away. He’s only in first form after all.

A recent trip to Greasy Joe’s in St Kilda has forced me to rethink my horizons.

Young TMWC took one look at the trendy menu and proclaimed, ‘I’m having the Fat Bastard Burger.’

For the uninitiated, the Greasy Joe’s Fat Bastard Burger comprises triple beef, triple cheese, triple bacon, mustard, mayo, onions and NO SALAD. Plus fries or wedges (of course). And all for a very reasonable $18.50. Those who know me will appreciate that I am pretty handy on the fang, but the thought of a GJFBB was just too much for me to contemplate. And I didn’t even have a hangover.

So I let young TMWC steal the glory, all the time thinking there was no way he’d get through all of that food. Teach the young bloke a lesson and all that. I ordered myself a more sedate Chili Burger (grilled beef, diced jalapeno chilli, salsa and melted cheese , $11.80) and a Cooper’s Pale Ale, and sat back and waited smugly in the winter sun.

Greasy Joe’s is a Melbourne institution. The staff are efficient, friendly and hip, and the speakers belt out some excellent tunes. If you’re trying to impress visitors, the outdoor tables have views of Luna Park, and classic green trams rattle past frequently – you can’t get any more Melbourne than that. The menu informs you that you are on St Kilda time, so relax, great food takes time. Relax we did, enjoying the constant stream of human traffic, some specimens looking very much worse the wear on this Sunday lunchtime.

‘Fat Bastard!’ announced the waitress as she slammed the massive burger down in front of the lad. (‘If not now, he will be soon’, I thought). Tim’s eyes lit up and he instantly went to work.

For the record, my chili burger was magnificent, the chunky and flavoursome meat pattie perfectly complemented by the sharp jalapenos and tangy relish.

Meanwhile the boy ploughed through his meal, amazing all around him with his eating prowess. In between mouthfuls, he proclaimed the burger to be ‘excellent’, or at least I think that’s what he said. After an eternity, he pushed the plate away, apologised for leaving two small wedges, and proclaimed himself ready for dessert.

Luckily for us, the cake shops of Acland Street were just around the corner . . .

Next time, Tim has his heart set on the Triple Bypass Breakfast – three eggs, three sausages, three rashers of bacon, three hash browns, onion rings and porterhouse steak ($23.50). I wonder if I’ll be up to the challenge?

Happy Birthday Tim!

Movie Review – The Jammed

19 August, 2007


The Jammed is an independent Australian film which deals with the confronting subject of the sex slave trade in Australia. Writer/director Dee McLachlan has based the screenplay on real life cases and court transcripts, adding an extra dimension of realism to the film.

Ashley (Veronica Sywak) is a young Melbournian office-worker who becomes inadvertently involved with a Chinese woman, Sunee (Amanda Ma) and her search for her missing daughter Rubi (Sun Park).

Rubi has been brought illegally to Australia by human traffickers, who force her into a life of prostitution and virtual slavery. The film follows the lives of Rubi and fellow sex workers Crystal (Emma Lung) and Vanya (Saskia Bermeister), as they are physically and mentally abused by sleazy illegal brothel owner Vic Glassman (Andrew S Gilbert) and his gang of henchman.

The plot moves along briskly but without any major twists or surprises, and the performances of the cast, particularly Sywak and Lung, are strong and believable. Generally the writing is strong – McLachlan says the script was virtually unchanged from her first draft – though I found some of the scenes in the immigration holding centre a little contrived and unbelievable.

The film was shot on location in Melbourne, and I enjoyed seeing familiar sights and streetscapes woven into the plot. Much of the action takes place in moving cars, which I found a bit grating after a while. The choice of locations is superb, conveying a dark and street-wise view of inner-suburban Melbourne, and adding to the gritty atmosphere of the film.

Incredibly McLachlan was unable to secure any funding for the movie, and could not even find a distributor, instead having to pay marketing costs and share profits in exchange for a limited two-week season at Cinema Nova. Critical reviews to date have been strong, and the session I attended was virtually fully sold out, which hopefully will translate into a wider release for the film.

Movie Review – This is England

16 August, 2007


‘This is England’ is set smack bang in the middle of Thatcher’s Britain, circa 1983. The Falkland War is in full swing and there are 3.5 million unemployed and disillusioned Brits.

Shaun, brilliantly portrayed by 14 year-old debutante Thomas Turgoose, is a lonely misfit, bullied at school about the death of his father in the war. He falls in with a rough-looking but likeable group of skinheads, who provide him with a sense of identity and friendship.

The skinheads, led by Woody (Joseph Gilgun) are fairly harmless; their short haircuts, Ben Sherman shirts and Doc Marten boots making them appear more sinister than they really are. The group introduces Shaun to girls, parties and dope, and life is fine until the unexpected appearance of hard-core nationalist Combo (Stephen Graham), just out after a three year spell in jail.

The dynamics of the group change rapidly, with Combo espousing racist National Front propaganda and driving a wedge between himself and the more moderate and likeable Woody.

Combo’s short fuse is barely suppressed, with an undercurrent of tension following him through every scene – think Once Were Warriors’ Jake the Muss at his malevolent worst.

Inevitably, Combo’s emotions reach breaking point, with tragic and violent consequences. Shaun is a shocked observer, and is forced to reassess his friendships and view of the world.

The film is based largely on the youthful experiences of writer/director Shane Meadows, who does a fabulous job of capturing the mood and emotions of the time.

My only quibble was the difference in age between Shaun and the gang, which made some of the plot lines slightly unbelievable.

In all an engrossing and highly enjoyable file.

4 stars from me.

4.5 stars and some tears from Wakes.