June 2010

A shirty lot

You’ve got to hand it to the Brits … they’ve just been handed one of the toughest Budgets ever, their soccer team suffered its worst World Cup defeat of all time and they have only one remote possibility of winning at Wimbledon. Yet the burning topic of the week is whether it is acceptable for a gentleman to wear a short-sleeved shirt at work.
The consensus seems to be No – unless he is an airline pilot. As one stuffy correspondent wrote: “Short-sleeved shirts are suitable for wearing only when gardening or when in the home. Definitely not where one may be seen by others.”
And this in a country where sex romps among the elite are the norm and cleavage is splattered across the pages of every daily paper.

Ageism exists

According to the Herald Sun online an elderly couple were found dead in their home 40km east of Perth.
Elderly? They were in their 60s!
Why not simply say a couple in their 60s instead of adding the ageist label of elderly?
The reporters and subs should beware: their boss, Rupert Murdoch, is nudging 80 and hardly likely to appreciate such a tag.

Luvvies out of love

Actor David Suchet (the fussiest of the Poirot portrayers) is waging war on the use of the term luvvie to describe those who follow the arts. Poor love, he thinks it’s become derogatory and disrespectful of his noble calling. Fancy attaching such a label to all those hangers-on in theatre foyers who are merely there to gawp and gaze and to guzzle free booze on opening nights.
The whole thing has now developed into a blame game (an art form that PM Krudd originally derided but now uses to extreme) with the actors divided over the use of the term and its origins. Naturally, the media was blamed. Such an easy target.
But now Peter Bowles (he of The Manor Born) says it was one of their own, James Villiers, who is the originator. “It was how James addressed everybody,” says Bowles. “We have only ourselves to blame.”
And no doubt the luvvies at the MTC’s after-parties (and all other such gatherings) will party on regardless of what Mr Suchet thinks.

Laughter with music

Happiness is a rollicking good musical – and they come no better nor more rollicking than the energy-charged Laughter in the Rain, now doing its world premiere tour around the provincial cities of the UK.
This is fun from go to whoa, getting audiences up on their feet clapping and singing along with a multi-talented cast that never allow the energy to flag for a single moment.
Laughter follows the latest trend of weaving the life stories of musical stars around an almost non-stop collection of their greatest hits. The focal point here is the turbulent career of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka, the Brooklyn cab-driver’s son who won a scholaship to the Juilliard School of Music but preferred to put his talents to turning out No.1 hits.
A few among many of hits were Oh Carol, Breaking up Is Hard to Do, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Hey Little Devil, the doubly successful Amarillo and, of course, the show’s title piece.
After being a teenage rival to Elvis, he succumbed to the rise of the Beatles and the ‘British Invasion’ of the pop scene. He hit financial ruin but kept faith with his determination to write songs with depth and meaning. A return to success and fame came with a move to Britain and the support of Elton John.
All this is acted out with snappy “talk to the audience” moments from the cast and a scenic backdrop depicting highlights of the star’s career and framing a lively six-piece band.
This is an all-singing, all-dancing romp of a show that rattles along at a hectic pace from one show-stopping number to another. Wayne Smith (an ITV talent show winner) shines as Sedaka in both manner and voice and is supported by a cast of 12 singer-dancers who multi-task their way through two and a half hours of energetic foot-tapping, hand-clapping pleasure.
Producers Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield, who are also behind the compilation hit Dreamboats and Petticoats, have come up with a real winner that’s probably the best of its breed since Mamma Mia!

An artless act

A standing ovation please for Age columnist Michael Shmith for his commentary http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/culture-in-eclipse-at-the-herald-sun-20100514-v4en.html on events at the Herald Sun. While Shmith, in his role as arts commentator and especially critic, tends to have a somewhat too-cosy relationship with those he writes about, he is certainly on the money with these words. This country’s infernal preoccupation with sports, the trivial and the mundane is turning us into a cultural desert and impoverishing future generations who already believe talent consists of mumbling into a microphone stuck halfway down one’s throat.

Giarratano glitches

She is so heavily hyped by our crime writing cliques that it is a pity Leah Giarratano is not better edited.
The simple editing oversights in Black Ice (bought off the remainder table for $9.95!) leap off the page.
Two examples: at the end of chapter 14, Scott Hutchinson becomes Scotty and then Scottie in the space of four lines and, in chapter 22, we get Jill wanting to reign in her temper.
Oh dear!