‘I’ll be back’ (in 3D)

 

release dates

He promised us.

And now, 26 years later, he’s delivering in glorious hi-tech, hi-spectacle Arnie style.

With great fondness, not to mention an unapolegetically nostalgic glint in my eye, and lavishing words I’m tempted to suggest only a true cinephile would ever muster, I recall, like it was only before lunch, the day back in ’91 I first beheld this movie.

Hunkered down in the 7th row in a pre-cuptray era upholstered seat, my head tilted up all the while to the big screen with five mates from my old school days alongside me, I had no idea at the time what I was about to see unfold before me would leave every previous movie I’d ever seen, to that point in my life, in its entirely gob-smacking wake.

That day, I and everyone else in that cinema, were transported to an eye-popping liquid-metal-themed dimension as we bore witness to never-before-seen moments in movie-making technique. I knew at the time what I was seeing were things no human being had ever seen in a movie theatre before. When the whole mind-shatteringly stunning shebang was over, I insisted on staying until the very last credits (and they were a longin!) simply because I was too mesmerised to move.

Arnie on Bike

James Cameron’s cinematic tour de force was the film that first introduced commercial audiences to the imagination-bending look of fully realised ‘morhping’ effects, seen later that same year in Michael Jackson’s music video ‘Black or White’. History may record the movie Willow (1988) as the film that first employed detailed digital morphing, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the true red-carpet unveiling. When the Oscars that year were handed out for Best Visual Effects there was this movie and shining daylight second. For back in the day, this was as flash as a Polynesian rat with a gold tooth.

Now I’ve revealed myself for the tragically devoted fan of the original movie I am (or is it more the memory of the original I’m in awe of ?) here’s what’s doing.

In a move that will no doubt bring lighthouse smiles to the faces of many that were there on the frontline back in ’91, cinemas around the country and worldwide are showing a newly put together 3D version of this sci-fi action movie treasure. In Brisbane, Event Cinemas are playing host for, as they say, “a strictly limited season”.

In what is seen by some as a move to tide film-goers over until the release of Cameron’s Avatar 2 (rumoured to be using 3D filming technology that won’t require audiences to wear glasses), it definitely puts the Cameron brand back on display in the interim. The original Avatar (2009) for me was like death by a thousand cuts (ie. it was dissapointing to the point of painful) so this new incarnation of Arnie at his peak will possibly be my gift to myself. That is if I decide to chance tarnishing the memory of the original by actually going along to see it.

 

Cartoon

Ps. A special thought for the King of Comedy Jerry Lewis, who passed away this week, aged 91. His film WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT (1970) is still my all-time favourite comedy. R.I.P. Jerry Lewis.

Remember him here

And here

 

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The Ins and Outs of Beauty

rose

Last week, the words that follow down further below appeared as a guest post on Matt Pavowski’s primo blog ACCIDENTALLY INSPIRED. (See it here) 

Acc

Matt’s a sassy word-slinger of the highest order based in Atlanta USA. Up until last year he worked  as a high school classroom teacher. He’s since transitioned to high school drama teacher. Matt’s also penned a couple of novel’s he’s currently seeking representation for. He’s a person on the cusp of great things. And one of the great mysteries of the world, apart the identity of Jack the Ripper and why dentists attempt to carry on conversation when you’ve got a mouthful of medical instruments, is why his blog has ‘only’ 490 followers. It deserves easily in excess of ten times that number. 

Answers to brain-stumpers such as these will no doubt be provided in the fullness of time, but in the meantime…

Wanna hear a confession?

When given the choice between inner beauty and mere surface beauty, on a great many occasions I’ve opted to wade, frolic and generally amuse myself in the decidedly shallow end of the pool.

It happened only yesterday.

Hungry, I made a selection from my kitchen-benchtop fruitbowl, heading straight for the banana direct from central casting whose high-beam yellow color coating was so gloriously perfect it seemed to come with its own ready-made promotional line – “People will stare: why not make it worth their while?”

banana

Sitting right alongside nature’s gift to banana-hood, lay a black-sheep relative – another banana, far less endowed with the outer beauty gene and painted with a very different pallet – this one showcasing small-pox patterned black spots. I didn’t trouble ‘it’ for even a second look. I fully knew that beneath that blemished exterior, the quality and taste of the fruit would have in all likelihood been the equal of its more air-brushed companion.  I even made the effort to remind myself it wasn’t the skin I’d be eating (unlike Kevin Spacey’s mental patient character in the 2001 movie K-PAX).

Capture

So what’s the takeaway? Probably something as intuitive as why settle for the singular experience of just inner beauty when you can have the synergistic one on the not overly common occasions when outer beauty gets thrown in as well.

To cite another example: a few days before the fruitbowl decision’, I’d entered a bicycle shop with an eye to buying what these days goes by the name of a ‘road bike’. With a budget of just $500, the backward-baseball-cap–wearing shop guy presented me with just two entry-level options –

The “Aquila” for $300 or for $150 more, the large, broad-winged and soaring sounding “Condor”.

To my unschooled, ‘babe in the woods’ eyes, the working parts on both machines were identical  – same chains, same rims, same brake levers, same cranksets, same gear systems, same peddles with the strap-in racing holsters. Same… everything!  The added expense of one bike over the other as far as I could reason was down to one thing – looks.

The Condor resembled a black-olive Ferrari – coated from head to toe in that non-reflective matt finish most commonly associated with Stealth Fighter Jets. The less expensive Aquila, by comparison, looked like… well, a speckled banana, splash-decorated by a herd of over-excited, under-coordinated pre-schoolers. So what did I end up riding out of the store on? My very own little black Stealth Fighter Jet of course.

To visibly dilute the opening line of this thought-piece regarding a ‘confession’, I will say I am not ashamed to admit a liking for package deals that combine the charms of both inner and outer beauty. Like an alchemist’s dream, when both elements are brought together, an entity both exquisite and sublime is what can very often result; rare and true beauty as dazzling and affecting as fireworks, as comforting as a lullaby and as fulfilling as an eight course banquet.

Breathtaking when it happens.

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Author Interview – Matt Porter

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Matt Porter is a Victorian based children’s author who is also a currently serving full-time Primary School teacher. His CRAZY RELIEF TEACHER series of books are hugely popular and well known. Matt spoke to me recently about his dual careers as writer and teacher.

I understand your current job within the Victorian Education Department is as a mobile library teacher in rural schools. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I am a MARC (mobile library) teacher in the Hamilton area (about 90 mins drive from Ballarat, outside of Melbourne) I visit 8 schools on a fortnightly basis and teach 4 hours of library a day. My biggest school has 105 students while the smallest one has 7! My lessons teach literacy skills but my main aim is to instil a love of reading and books in students. We do fun activities such as trying to break the records from the Guinness World Records books or creating theme parks based on the Dewey System with each section of the park based on a Dewey section. I drive a Sprinter van to the schools which is full of books that the students borrow. It’s a Department of Education job with the same conditions as everyone, it’s just I teach at 8 schools instead of 1. I teach Prep through to Year 6, sometimes all at the same time. My job is also great as there are no staff meetings, yard duty or reports!

The job is great for me as I get to work with books all day and I find I’m able to keep my head in the ‘book/writing space’ whereas when I was teaching in a classroom it was hard to then switch into a writing frame of mind at night. My principal is very supportive of my writing. I am able to take leave each year to run writing workshops in schools as an author. I’ve been lucky enough to head to Queensland for Book Week for a few years and enjoy your beautiful weather! I currently work .9 and use my day off to visit schools or write. I have the first 4 weeks of next term off to visit schools. I really enjoy these times as I can share my passion for writing with new students. I try to make the sessions interactive so the workshop based on my character Mr Jackpot sees the students playing gameshows that teach writing skills.

Your first teaching post was at Bannockburn Primary (near Geelong) on a 3/4 class. Would you give us a brief rundown of your teaching career to date.

I attended Ballarat University from 1999-2002. My first teaching job was at Bannockburn and I was there until mid-way through 2010. During my time at Banno I taught grades 2/3, 3/4 and 5/6. In 2010 our first child was due (we now have 3 kids) so we moved back to the area where my wife and I grew up, Port Fairy. I taught at Merrivale Primary School in Warrnambool from 2010-2015. I taught grades 3/4, 5/6 and PE. Merrivale had a lot of staff who worked 4 days a week (including me) and for one year I was the ‘floater’ who didn’t have their own class and taught in each teachers’ classroom on their day off. I enjoy working with students and the teamwork aspect of teaching.

The idea for my Crazy Relief Teachers series came into my head while teaching at Banno. The teacher next door was absent and the relief teacher called himself Mr Midnight and dressed as a cowboy. He sang cowboy songs for most of the day. Another relief teacher, who we called The Puzzler, spent two hours teaching the students how to solve a Rubik’s Cube on another day. Those two made me think it would be a good idea for a series of books where a school gets a procession of Crazy Relief Teachers.

 

Your first commercial publishing success came seven years back with the books PICTURE PERFECT and MY COUNTRY. Please share with us the story of those early days as a burgeoning writer.

Picture perfect

When I started teaching in 2003 (I feel old saying that!) I read the books of Roald Dahl, Andy Griffiths and Paul Jennings to the students. The students’ reactions were priceless and I loved how they hung on every word and laughed loudly throughout. I have always loved writing and thought if I could get even a fraction of the reaction those brilliant writers got then I would be over the moon. It took me two weeks to write a 10,000 word story that I hoped would be published … I was very wrong. I got plenty of rejection letters from publishers, however there was some positive feedback in that my ideas were funny (but my writing was terrible). I then did three things:

  1. I enrolled in writing classes. These were online and involved reading, completing various writing tasks and then submitting stories to a tutor.
  2. I wrote on weekends, after work and any opportunity I got.
  3. The best thing I did was research authors and find the ones who didn’t have teachers’ notes/activities on their websites. I emailed these authors and offered to make activities for their books for free and in return I asked if they could mentor me. Several authors helped me in this way, in particular DC Green who has been a huge help and mentor for me.

I had a few near misses from 2005-2009 and I kept trying and didn’t let myself get too discouraged every time a rejection letter came. After a while I started getting personalised rejection letters (rather than the standard ones I usually got) and these contained feedback, suggestions for improvements and the offer of re-submitting the manuscript once it had been improved. This gave me encouragement to continue. I then had two stories accepted for publication in Challenge Magazine (Pearson Education): Australia’s Funniest Gnome Videos and The Best Friend Test. This gave me something to put on my Writing CV (other than ‘World Record Holder for Most Rejection Letters Received’) when submitting to publishers. I was thrilled when Picture Perfect and My Country were accepted by Blake Education as readers. Not too long after that I received two offers for the first Crazy Relief Teacher book: Mr Sergeant and the Dodgeballs of Doom. One was for more money but the book would be published as a one-off, while Celapene Press offered to sign up for a series. I’m very happy I went with Celapene Press and now there are 4 books in the series. I’ve now got a 5th book coming out with them. I’ve also written the first book in a new series that I can’t say too much about other than it’s a sporty series and the first book comes out in January. That series will be published by Ford Street.

all 4 booksYour ‘Crazy Relief Teachers’ book series currently boasts four titles. Are you working on another one and if so can you give us a sneak peak regarding the plot and main character?

I’m very excited that the 5th book in the series will be released in late September! It’s called Ms Runway and Australia’s Next Top Merino. When Jennifer Runway, host of the famous TV show Australia’s Next To Model, takes control of the class she initiates a modelling competition to boost student numbers at the rural school. However complications arise when Pete enters his pet sheep, Delta Goodram.

Where I teach there are a lot of sheep farmers and a sheep festival called Sheepvention.Woolly West Fest is part of Sheepvention and it’s a literacy festival for kids. Each year they go into schools and run literacy activities with sheep and wool as the focus. I was teaching lessons for this where the students had to change the title and cover of a famous book so it would have a sheep as the main character (hence James and the Giant Sheep and Zombie Rams from Ewe-ranus). As an example to the class I changed the Top Model TV show to Top Merino. I then thought it would make a good idea for my next book. At the same time one of my schools had lost a number of students so its enrolment was quite low. I combined the two ideas and the students in the school have a Top Model competition to attract more students. Here’s a sneak peak of the cover.

NewAny thoughts on Mr Schneebly, the archetypal crazy relief teacher portrayed by Jack Black in the epochal 2003 movie SCHOOL OF ROCK?

school

I love that movie! He’s so over-the-top as a character and it’s a great story. I once read a quote by Roald Dahl that said to exaggerate your characters, if they’re going to be mean, make them really mean. If they’re nice, make them really nice. I guess I’ve attempted that with my Crazy Relief Teachers. Mr Sergeant, the army officer, makes the students ‘drop and do twenty’ if they get an answer wrong and he treats dodgeball like it’s a war. Mr Jackpot, a gameshow host, is over-the-top and an exaggerated version of the gameshow hosts I grew up watching in the 80’s/90’s. I was a big fan of Jack Black and the early Adam Sandler films. However my favourite movies now are the ones made by Simon Pegg, especially Shaun of the Dead.

carey

Are you familiar with any of the books of British author Mike Carey? He penned the zombie apocalypse novel THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS back in 2014 that sold in excess of 500 000 copies and was later adapted into the 2016 film of the same name starring Glenn Close. He’s someone who’s joined the long list (which includes Dan Brown and J.K.Rowling) of former school teachers who became champion writers.

I’m not familiar with Mike Carey’s work. I do read a lot of children’s fiction for work and also because it’s a great way to improve as a writer by reading the work of great authors. I read a lot of non-fiction in my spare time and Bill Bryson is a favourite of mine. His A Short History of Nearly Everything is my favourite book. I also read a lot of biographies and am currently half-way through a book on Jim Henson. I love reading about people who have led interesting lives. I also like humorous books such as Freakonomics, or people who have done zany things such as Join Me and the book on the Australian Sudoku Team. One day I’d love to do something like that.

While I’m not familiar with Mike Carey, I do know of lots of teachers who have become authors. I believe Andy Griffiths was a high school English teacher and Paul Jennings has a teaching background. Michael Gerard Bauer was a teacher and is John Marsden a principal?

And just finally Matt, in the course of your involvment with school students how many times have you encountered the situation depicted in this cartoon?

Capture

Can’t say I ever have Glen.

Thanks Matt and I know I join with the readers of this blog in wishing you all the best with your future careers in both writing and teaching.

Want more? Click here to check out Matt’s website

Books

 

 

Rotten to the Core

Roger

If this post brings about a sense of deja vu it’s likely because you’ve read it all before.

Ten weeks ago back in May I ran this book review with the promise that later in the year Channel 7 would show a two-part mini-series documenting the same sordid tale in all it’s disquieting and twisted glory. That time has now arrived.

This Sunday night the first half of BLUE MURDER: KILLER COP goes to air, starring Richard Roxburgh as the real life former NSW corrupt police detective Roger Rogerson who is now an inmate of  the Kevin Waller Unit of Sydney’s Long Bay jail.

This mini-series, which also stars Toni Collette and former South Sydney footballer turned actor Matt Nable, is actually a sequel of sorts to the two-part miniseries BLUE MURDER produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which went to air in 1995. Twenty-two years ago that series also featured Richard Roxburgh playing Rogerson. When you see the physical resemblance between the two you’ll understand why the producers stuck with the same actor and knew they were onto an authentic ratings winner.

Reprinted below is the originally posted book review, which I composed after reading the book earlier in the year.

How does a person go from a once highly decorated NSW police detective to luring, (at the age of 73) a 20-year-old to a Sydney storage unit, murdering him and then dumping the body at sea the next day in waters off Cronulla?

This is the question that author and former police detective himself Duncan McNab sets out to answer in what is his second book on this country’s most infamous and crooked former cop. The answer is delivered across 30 chapters in this book but may be summarised in just one word – ‘incrementally’.

In Australia’s long, inglorious history of bent coppers – going right back to the country’s very first constable James Smith, dismissed by Governor Arthur Phillip for larceny – there has been none more tarnished and synonymous with crime then Roger ‘The Dodger’ Rogerson.

In a notorious career, which included associations with some of Australia’s worst criminals (he famously ventured on speaking tours with professional stand-over man and alleged author Chopper Read), extrajudicial killings, being implicated in various murders and disappearances; countless allegations of threatening behaviour, bribery and drug dealing; and convictions for perverting the course of justice and perjury, he was dismissed from the police force in 1986 and jailed twice.

He is now 76 years of age and began serving a ‘life’ sentence in Sydney’s Long Bay jail in September of last year for the 2014 pre-meditated murder of twenty year old Jamie Gao, that took place inside Rent-A-Space storage shed 803 housed within a deserted industrial estate in the Sydney south-western suburb of Padstow.

A recent newspaper report has it that Rogerson, who plays the piano, has formed a singing trio with two other inmates and regularly belts out old Frank Sinatra tunes (think “My Way“) in the jail wing for the elderly and infirm.

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