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On the Road (alias The Hangover III, MLitt) Thursday afternoon at the Dendy.


The previews:  Mental (seems loud and vulgar), Argo (fake making a movie to cover getting hostages out of Iran) and a thing called The Sessions, where a gracefully-ageing Helen Hunt plays sex therapist to a quadriplegic. 

The movie has a plot, sort of, and is based on Kerouac’s book, sort of.  It could be summarised thus: Insensitive loser (named Dean Moriarty) and narcissistic would-be author (named Sal Paradise but who is really Kerouac) have a bromance from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.

The loser is also the love interest of Kirsten Dunst (doing well as a sensible woman whom the loser marries), various floozies including the retinue at a Mexican whorehouse, a teenager whom he also marries and the narcissist’s pretentious mate.  Oh, and a frankly depicted commercial arrangement with Steve Buscemi, playing a weird guy*.  Minor but solid role for Viggo Mortensen and appearances by, I am informed, some people who were in the Twilight movies.  Everyone smokes and drinks their heads off, the loser leads a variety of drug-taking exercises and lots of people have joyless but noisy sex.  Corey Bernardi would not be pleased.

The youth – people who would have missed the worst of the Depression and who missed WWII because they would have been too young – are generally useless and self-indulgent.  The narcissist does a sort of interrupted monologue that shows how he is full of the thoughts he tries to crush as he walks and hitches everywhere.  He bonks the teenager, a cottonpicker with whom he shares a tent, while her child watches and a Mexican whore, just before collapsing in a haze of pot, peyote, booze and dysentery.  Breakfast of champions.

The film features some genuinely brilliant outdoor shots.  It’s a really good travelogue over the American backblocks (plus New York and San Francisco), mostly to show how the loser drives like a loon and irritates the police.  There are a few noirish moments that could be longer, along with lovely driving jazz and bebop music to which the loser and the various femmes de l’heure dance in a way that my mother might consider suggestive.

Overall it was OK – but would have been far better if someone had let off the brake and allowed the whole damn thing hurtle down its true path.

* – as if Buscemi could play anything else, except possibly the result of a human/meerkat mating.


We Need To Talk About Your Chocolate Problem

3pm in offices and kitchens across the country, the frenzied hunt begins. Yet the traditional scramble for the afternoon chocolate fix has left many wanting these days. Now that we are more health conscious and allergy-ridden than ever, the hope for an organic and healthy chocolate option has been out of reach.

Until now. Lovingly manufactured in Melbourne, Pana Chocolate proclaims we should ‘ *heart* our insides, *heart* the earth.’ Not that I had time for that hippy claptrap when I first lay eyes on the pretty, glinty, recycled packaging at a fancy green grocers yesterday. I was too busy imagining the delights that lay within.

The Dieline  claims that the purpose of the packaging was to make people who didn’t know what they were grabbing for – to still get grabby and want to try it. Worked for me. But designer brownie-points anyway for the gorgeous recyclable foil, soy based pantone inks, 100% recycled board and eco-friendly, rustic feel.

That’s not all they do differently at Pana, their chocolate is handmade, raw and not heated above 42 degrees to keep all the nutrients in their purest form. It’s organic, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, low GI, has no refined sugars, 0% soy and 100% out of this world.

Pana Chocolate is jam-packed with scrumptious ingredients like cacao solids, virgin cacao butter, dark agave nectar, raw cacao powder, virgin coconut oil, wild carob, cinnamon and pure Himalayan crystal salt (yep, you just read that).

It has a fudgy, crumbly, rich texture that lets you taste the love these good people have poured into their product so that everyone, no matter what their dietary restrictions might be, can indulge in something world class and mind-blowingly delicious at when the 3pm munchies hit home.




Sydney’s hottest hair salon is set to be the star attraction of Spring Carnival this racing season with the ZOLF Hair & Beauty coming to Rosehill Gardens for key carnival events.  Bringing the same glamour and excitement that has been making big news at Marquee the prestige nightclub at Sydney’s casino, The Star; the pop-up pamper lounge will be indulging female race-goers to the VIP treatment for free. Get your photo taken with brand ambassador, Sarah Lawther (from Beauty & The Geek) who is a ZOLF hair extension devotee.

The ZOLF Hair & Beauty Bar features 4 professional stylists from the George St salon, make-up artists from Cameron Jane Make-up Design using international cosmetics from LORD + BERRY and express manicures with gorgeous gel neon hues (perfect for spring) from ORLY nail lacquers. With the ZOLF photographer capturing the gorgeousness of the ladies in all their splendour and glory, after being thoroughly made over to look like a star.

The pampering is offered with the compliments of ZOLF Hairdressing, Sydney’s hottest hair salon in the CBD. They have made a name for themselves as the most exciting addition to the fashion, hair and beauty scene in recent history, dominating the market with their incredible 100% Russian Wonderbead hair extensions. Converts travel across the country for an appointment with hair magician, Ash Celine, and his team of professional hair extension technicians.

Zolf Hairdressing offers SYDNEY’S BEST HAIR EXTENSIONS perfect for Spring Racing, Formals, Spring Weddings and the up-coming party season.

Melbourne Cup Day It’s not the race that stops the nation, it’s the fashion!  Heart-racing style will be inevitable with the ZOLF Hair & Beauty Bar zjooshing the ladies to ensure the bar is raised at Rosehill Garden. Extravagant hairstyles and pop colour will dominate – get snapped looking incredible. Look your unlevel-headed best with the help of the ZOLF Hair & Beauty Bar. Come get prettied up, fillies, the race is on!

Girls Day Out  – here’s one just for the girls. With the NSW Firemen and Hotshots providing the entertainment at this ladies luncheon, the ZOLF Hair & Beauty Bar will provide the pampering. Just went you think the luxury and pleasure can’t be beat, enter the ZOLF Two Minute Angels providing express massages to help your stress dissolve as you enjoy a glass of bubbles with your besties.

Book your Wonderbead hair extensions today at ZOLF –

& follow the excitement on the ZOLF Facebook

Sparks of Hope – RUBY SPARKS



After so many duds, and so many opportunities to be cruel, it is sometimes necessary to be nice.  And this note is nice, well, mostly.  Ruby Sparks is worth the expenditure of a modest amount of time and money.

Twenty plus minutes of ads – count ‘em and realise that’s three times as much time as all the worthwhile bits in Total Recoil, Hot and Runny and The Botch put together.   Two spurts of Andrew Gunsburg, against a Hollywood backlot,  trying to drum up interest in the latest Madagascar and The Botch and Paranorman, a piece of animation.  Previews for Twilight: Breaking Wind or somesuch, featuring more people with red eyes than an Adam Sandler/Vince Vaughan buddy movie, and for a truly woeful Glee-goesto-Carlaj thing called Pitch Perfect and for Fun Size, another film somehow related to American youth and their amusing irresponsibility.  Life of Pi looks interesting, though I would have thought the book close to unfilmable. There may have been more but by this time I was checking my mobile phone and hoping for a message from someone trying to interest me in getting money out of Nigeria.

Anyhow, Ruby Sparks is not a big movie by any account.  Four recognisable faces – Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Elliott Gould and Steve Coogan – going through the motions as, respectively, a ditzy hippy chick mother, her current partner*, a kindly shrink and a sleazy novelist.  Also, the girl who played Maeby on Arrested Development, playing a lit-fan of limited moral fibre or vision.

The leads – Paul Dano and Zoe Karzan – twinkle with almost as much star power as the second burger preparer from the left in a recent McDonald’s commercial.  They act about as well as Mitt Romney maintains consistency, which is to say that they appear to have learnt their lines and that they are determined to say them.  The dog is cute, and pivotal, and performs as well as anyone else.

Anyhow, Dano plays Calvin, a lonely bespectacled boy-genius writer whose second novel is more blocked than a colon on a fibre-free diet.  Kazan is the funky girlfriend he dreams up.  The budget for the whole exercise was probably less than the muffin budget for Total Recoil but the film is about a hundred times smarter about using an interesting idea.  Could have been made anywhere** and would have looked much the same.


The script plodded a bit at times and a lot at other times.  I won’t spoil the ending, other than to grumble about Americans always going for the soft option.


* – a Hispanic “artist” who makes things using a chain saw

** – remove Banderas, add Bryan Brown.  Remove Gould, add Jack Thompson.  Remove Bening, add Jackie Weaver.  Remove Coogan, add Sean Micallef.  Remove leads, add recent NIDA grads.  Make changes as necessary for UK, Canada, Uzbekistan etc.


Beads for Wildlife – This Christmas Get Decorations That Matter

This year family Christmas trees all over Australia will be decorated with beautiful pieces which have changed the lives of families in Africa, and brought the endangered Grevy’s Zebra back from the brink of extinction.

The decorations are part of a collection of works which make up Beads for Wildlife, an alternative income and livelihoods project championed by Zoos Victoria. The beadwork is made by local women, and purchased by Zoos Victoria for sale in Australia.

The program has also empowered women says Zoos Victoria’s, Brooke Squires who is one of the Zoos Victoria staff who travels to North Africa each year to facilitate the program. “One of the biggest issues in Samburu and Rendille culture is household violence, and a lot of it is born out of frustration, it’s born out of an inability to make ends meet. It’s born out of families knowing that next week they could be starving. We’re finding that by having more reliable stable income systems, that household pressure is relieved enormously.”

“When the bead money comes in, it’s the woman who does the finances, that is just how they work it culturally, and she actually will give him an allowance. So it reverses things, and her ability to control the financial space has much better household outcomes.” Woman are more likely to invest in children’s education, vaccinating domestic livestock and buying grains to facilitate food security.

Not only are the angels, Christmas trees and other decorations beautiful lively additions to any Christmas tree, they have a wonderful story and remarkable impact on North African families and wildlife.


Beads for Wildlife can be purchased online at:

Going Round The Looper

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis & Emily Blunt


After trying my first Macca’s lamb burger, minus the egg, and pronouncing it ‘Good’ (red onions add something, don’t they?)  Our party went into the Xtremescreen.

Previews for Killing them Softly and Lawless, both of which seem to involve lots of shooting, with the latter seasoned by a Prohibition garnish.  Paranormal Activity 4 is on the way, providing yet another outing for handheld cameras, poor lighting and acting so bad it would be edited out of a crime re-enactment in a true crime expose.  These provided hints that Looper was going to serve us a lot of ballistics, greased up with a bit of weirdness.

And so it was.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt who has been around since being the almost normal alien on Third Rock from the Sun, is a ‘looper’.  This is not the same as being loopy* but means that one is a well-paid cold-blooded killer of total strangers.

The strangers arrive in a field, dressed in suede jackets with bullion bars attached to their backs and bags over their heads, and the looper blows them away, disposes of the body and passes all or some of the loot on.  A bit like selling used cars, I guess.  The strangers arrive from the year 2042 where time travel has been invented but is only used by serious crooks wanting to get rid of people without a trace.

On occasion, the stranger is, in fact, the older version of the looper who wants to take him** out.  Why these clever folk don’t ensure that old retired loopers are killed by people other than their younger selves is a bit of a mystery.

Anyhow JGL recreates by going to noisy clubs full of semi-clad young women and – I’m not making this up – using eye drops to get himself high.  The whole looper scene is run by a bloke who looks like he could fill in as a drugged out old guy who once played with the Beach Boys when their usual guitarist was in rehab in 1971 and who has been living ever since on the memory of his fortnight of fame.

Bruce Willis is the older JGL – same man, mortal enemies.  Yeah, but no but, yeah?  Bruce gets all shooty and Die Hard, killing improbable numbers of bad guys with ridiculous ease.

To the everlasting credit of the writers, the major time travel theme that comes into play is the classic need to take out someone who goes bad in the future. But instead of using these powers to kill Hitler or Pol Pot or Alan Jones, Willis is hellbent on finishing off himself.

The ending is sort of intelligent and grown up and non-American because we can’t all end up happy all the time, even with eye drops.

And so to beer.


* – for which see Mental and the upcoming thing about the bloke doing psych rehab who meets up with a kindred spirit.  Heart-warming index finger down throat, perhaps.

** – they all seem to be blokes, which is a bit at odds with the Soviet experience that women make better snipers and hit persons.  So far as I know, the late, great USSR was the only place to make a serious study of this important issue.


Falling for Grenfell’s Signs

Oh Grenfell! You were the place that nagged at the heart of Australian poet, Henry Lawson, his birthplace. To read the monument to his birth just outside this centre of this NSW country town, you get the sense that Lawson felt a little guilty about his departure from the town. His poem, Said Grenfell To My Spirit, opens with the town itself berating him for his disloyalty –

Said Grenfell to my spirit, “You’ve been writing very free Of the charms of other places, and you don’t remember me.”

4 hours out of Sydney, this historic gold town has known a few celebrity ex-pats (notably the bushranger, Ben Hall) and surrounded by flowering canola blossoms and rambling Patterson’s Curse, it’s probably no prettier than it is in springtime. But it wasn’t the history, the view or the pub that caught my eye on a recent exploration of the town. It was Grenfell’s lovely typography.

I was struck by the many painted signs, some old some new, and wondered if perhaps Grenfell was also home to a typographic talent, yet uncovered?  Whoever the one or many sign-writers are, their legacy adds a particular flair to this  town of 2200 people.

After gold was discovered in the area by a shepherd in the 1860’s, the town boomed as miners flocked to the area to get their piece of shiny. By the 1870’s it was producing the most gold of any town in NSW.

The Weddin Mountains fringe the village, and in them are caves and hideouts of bushrangers from these boom times.  The locals will tell you, in that traditional country Australia, laconic style, that there’s gold in the caves still – bushranger loot –  stashed away right before they were shot by police or dragged off to the lock-up, a hundred-year-old secret.

Apprently it’s hard to get to, though, on account of the mini-avalanches that have resulted in the entranes being blocked by fallen rocks.

So, there are hills in which to hunt your fortune. But if you prefer a more leisurely exploration, try sign-watching and enjoy Grenfell’s typography treasures.


Jennifer Barton from Social Change Room Interview

Jennifer Barton, Founder of the ethical lifestyle website Social Change Room is launching her very first markets on the 11th of Decemeber, and we thought what a great time to ask her a few unethical questions on the eve of this event.

Read the Complete Interview with Jennifer Barton from Social Change Room»

Art and About Sydney 2011

What If…

Ten years ago, Sydney asked – what if the city’s public spaces were taken over by artists? In response they came up with their first Art & About program. Ten years later this event is one of the most loved on the Sydney calendar – taking art out of conventional venues and putting it in unexpected locations. Join in all the excitement and come along to one of the many events as part of Art & About Sydney this year from 23 September – 23 October.

Skipping Girl Vinegar

A great little Aussie band “Skipping Girl Vinegar” are starting their “Chase the Sun” tour and if you haven’t heard them before, they are definitely worth checking out, the perfect music for summer.
(Check out the very cool animated film clip below)

Read all about the Chase the Sun Tour!»

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