Wednesday, 30 January 2008

When you need a macho American, Hire and Aussie

I'm not one to just post up a whole news article, but enjoyed reading this one. I'm sure it's not true in all cases, but the limited examples he gives puts forward an interesting point.

Heath Ledger, Aussie actors and American machismo
THE untimely death of
Heath Ledger has not only robbed the acting world of one of its most promising talents, it has also robbed Hollywood of one of its Australian stand-ins for American machismo.

Never mind the trade deficit, or even Barack Obama's "moral deficit"; Hollywood is suffering from a macho deficit, and it's having to turn to what many still perceive as a land of beer-swilling, sheep-shearing men in denim to find its cowboys and cads.

When Hollywood first flirted with all things Aussie in the 1980s, it was a bit of a po-mo joke. "Look at Crocodile Dundee with his big shiny knife and taste for lager, how quaint!" laughed cinema audiences. It's no joke today. At a time when American stars have been feminised, preened and plucked, it's Australia that is providing the muscle for the grittier acting jobs.

In recent years, the impressively brooding Ledger had joined Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Eric Bana as a real bloke who could play gruff cowboys, lascivious bastards or any other role that required the leading man to have hair on his chest. In his breakthrough film 10 Things I Hate About You, a high-school spin on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, Ledger looked like he had been shuttled in from another planet rather than merely another hemisphere.

Where the hairless, super-tanned jock was boringly arrogant and the geek with a crush was predictably nervous, Ledger's scruffy, unkempt and slurry-voiced Patrick Verona was a complex macho character: nasty to begin with, but later opened up by the love of a good woman. The director even allowed him to keep his Aussie accent, as if to accentuate this untidy, unruly character's exoticness amid the cardboard cut-out boys and girls of a typical high-school movie.

In later films, Ledger played American rather than Australian: his rugged down-under temperament meant he was frequently more convincing as a manly American than many of the prim and waxed US-born actors. He even played a cowboy better. In Brokeback Mountain, Ledger's tortured and mumbling Ennis Del Mar is far more believable than all-American Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist. (In one scene in that film, Ledger and Gyllenhaal were required to leap naked off a cliff into a lake. Ledger did it, but Gyllenhaal was replaced by a stuntman because he is scared of heights. If you want an actor to take risks, look down under.)

In Todd Haynes's I'm Not There, in which six actors play characters based on Bob Dylan, Ledger's Robbie Clark is the most convincingly American: half James Dean, half Jack Kerouac. Among the rag bag of actors mimicking Dylan, Ledger best captures the swagger and sexism of the American male who has a 1950s mentality and is desperately trying to adapt to life in '60s America.

It is striking that Haynes employed an Australian woman, Cate Blanchett, to play the character most clearly and literally based on Dylan.

It seems even women from Australia are better than American men at playing American heroes.

Again and again, Hollywood looks to Australians to inject testosterone into a movie. Like Ledger, Crowe recently played a cowboy: Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma. If an American actor were to play Wade, a coach-robbing outlaw, he would first have to put on weight (and then give numerous interviews telling everyone how difficult it was to be fat) and then do some method-style research with menacing men who have been involved in hold-ups of one kind or another. Not Crowe: his jowls and his sense of menace are real, attributes of his Australian manhood.

Ridley Scott called on Crowe to play a hard, '70s drug-busting cop in his epic American Gangster. Young American actors seem interested in playing '70s crime-busters only for post-machismo laughs: think of the awful Starsky and Hutch remake. It took a full-bodied, croaky-voiced Australian to breathe life back into that old American character, the committed, flares-wearing cop, who was a staple of '70s TV shows and cinema.

And let us not forget Crowe's greatest cinematic moment, as General Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator, a role many said was symbolic of the true American values of valour and loyalty over backstabbing corruption. Hollywood, if you need an American symbol, phone for an Australian.

Australian men are called on to play Hollywood's edgier superheroes, too. Jackman's fearsome Wolverine, huge, hirsute and with sideburns to die for, is a spiritual leader. Surrounded by young men and women who experience their superpowers as mental and physical afflictions (all played by young American actors, of course), Jackman's cocksure and principled Wolverine is the natural American leader, the steady-minded figurehead of this band of freaky rebels. It took Bana to play the Hulk, American pop culture's most obviously tortured macho soul.

Part shy scientist, part raging beast, Bana played out America's crisis of masculinity on cinema screens, bringing his notable acting skills and his innate Australian swagger to a role that required him to be both wimp and whack job.

In our PC, flaccid, image-obsessed times, many new American actors seem to lack the personality and resources to play hard American, crazed American, tortured American or heroic American. Instead, Oz is having to send its young men to American shores to depict American virtue and fury. Ledger did that better than most, displaying a more developed understanding of what it means to be Hollywood than many of his American contemporaries. His death is a great tragedy for his family and friends; it has also lowered Hollywood's bloke quota.
By Brendan O'Neill
January 30, 2008 09:40am

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23131304-5007146,00.html

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Tim Tam Slam

In true Australia Day style, last night we had a BBQ with nice big pieces of lamb, and with pavlova for dessert.

However the highlight of the night was watching 'the crew' try their hands at a Tim Tam Slam.

If you haven't tried this, I'm assured by Beth that it will change your life...

So check out what to do...


Thursday, 24 January 2008

Crappy Work

Every job has that work or task that no one wants to do. It gets put off and put off until the unluckiest person (or the lowest person on the food chain) gets forced to do it.

Well yesterday I was in one of our offsite store rooms, and the 'crappy' work that had been put off for ages was cleaning up all the old computers, monitors, keyboards, mice and cables. We're currently in the middle of a huge PC Rollout - and since I've been running the whole thing I could have quite easily delegated the task of 'clean up old stuff' to one of the guys working on the project with me.

However while there yesterday I decided that I'd do it myself. So about 3 hours later, after lots of lifting, moving, sweating and organising our store room looks much more manageable. I even found a couple of models of computers that shouldn't have been there, and 3 brand new monitors that hadn't even been taken out of the box.

Anyway once finishing I felt great. I'd had a decent work out - but more so, I'd accomplished something quite visibly. The problem with working with computers is that most times you don't physically see the fruits of your labour. Well starting with cables strung across the floor... computers in piles of 2 or 3 right across the room.... monitors leaning against each pile; and then ending up with neat stacks of computers, lines of monitors and boxes with each specific cable in them is a real visible salute to the time and effort you've put in.

So sometimes the crappy work can be the most rewarding... if only we'd remember that when we're trying to palm it off to someone else.

Maybe more stuff would get done then????

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Final Count

It truely was a bumper day on My Jarrol Spot yesterday.

To show you in a more graphical way, here's a graph... :-P


That's a total of 59 visits yesterday.... and 82 page views. Quite a difference from the days surrounding it.

Is news.com.au credible these days?

You really have to wonder. I'm finding most days their headline articles are complete drivel - more like a tabloid site than anything else.

Their coverage of Heath Ledger's death is no different. Reading the New York Times website gives a different view of the whole situation.

The police said Mr. Ledger, 28, was found naked on the floor near the bed in an apartment in SoHo that he had been renting. The chief police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police did not suspect foul play.

“There was no indication of a disturbance,” he said, adding that there were no signs that Mr. Ledger had been drinking. Nor were any illegal drugs found in the loft, which neighbors said Mr. Ledger had occupied for several months.

Police officials said that a bottle of prescription sleeping pills were found on a nearby night table, but that they did not know whether the pills had anything to do with Mr. Ledger’s death. Officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

Mr. Browne said no obvious indication of suicide, like a note, was found in the bedroom.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/movies/23ledger.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

This is a much more informative, and less sensationalised version of the story - if you're only source of insight has been news.com.au then I suggest you jump over to http://www.nytimes.com/ for a more realistic source.

Heath Ledger dead in New York

Just as I was about to get to work this morning, all the Radio chatter suddenly turned to news of Heath Ledger's death in New York.

Reading the news it seems an apparent overdose. I guess nearly everyone will jump on the news of such a famous Aussie's death, and other's will say he's no different to anyone else why make it such big news.

It will get over sensationalised, but I think the thing to remember is that a life has ended, probably before it needed to - and that's a real sad thing.

The other point is that the so called image of having it all - fame, money, movie star status - is a farce. Heath's marriage had just broken down and now it's all ended in tragedy.

I'm feeling a little down today after hearing the news, mainly because of those things above - not cause I feel I know him, or feel some inadvertent connection with him - just that it's a public exposure to the horrors of living a life without Christ's love being the guiding force. It doesn't matter how much money or fame you have - "a life without Christ is a life that is never fixed" (to quote KJ-52).

Plus I thought Heath was the perfect choice to play the Joker in the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. I love the new Batman movie series and was really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Wow - This must be a new record

Well on my blog anyway!



52 visits TODAY!!!! Recently I've only been averaging 120 or so visits a week... I've almost halved that in a day!!!!

Looking through the links in it seems to be mostly people from the USA, and mainly from a link on a blogspot navbar somewhere. I have no idea where or why!

But I'm a little chuffed so many people have visited my little part of the Internet today... I know some who read this who have huge hit counts, but for me this is kinda like getting a glimps at the big time..... I ahhh wouldn't have minded a comment or two out of those vists though ya know.... :-P

Monday, 21 January 2008

Honestly struggle to see how this could happen!!

A story on news.com today tells of an 81 year old man who woke up at his own wake...

I'm really wondering how an elderly man could be put in a coffin and dressed without waking up... plus, why did they only call a funeral director, and shouldn't a death certificate been issued (even in Chille)?

I really struggle to see how this could all have happened...

Man wakes up at own wake

AN 81-year-old man in the small Chilean village of Angol shocked his grieving relatives by waking up in his coffin at his own wake, local media said today.

When Feliberto Carrasco's family members discovered his body limp and cold, they were convinced the octogenarian's hour had come, so they immediately called a funeral home, not a doctor.

Mr Carrasco was dressed in his finest suit for the wake and his relatives gathered to bid him a final farewell.

"I couldn't believe it. I thought I must be mistaken and I shut my eyes," Mr Carrasco's nephew Pedro told the Ultimas Noticias newspaper.

"When I opened them again, my uncle was looking at me. I started to cry and ran to get something to open up the coffin to get him out."

The man who "rose from the dead" said he was not in any pain and only asked for a glass of water.

Local radio also surprised listeners by announcing a correction to Mr Carrasco's death announcement, saying the news had been premature.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23083166-13762,00.html

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Ghost Who Walks

A couple of times a year I buy a Phantom Comic, just for a bit of a chill out. However I do purchase their annual special every year.

In January Frew (publisher of the Phantom Comics) release a giant 10 story comic book. Usually they include the old classic stories written by Phantom creator Lee Falks. Falks was a true comic script genius, and the Phantom was the world's first masked hero when Falks started writing the newspaper strip in 1936. Falks already had the Mandrake the Magician comics in publication and his two characters have become the longest running newspaper comic strips in history. He continued writing Phantom and Mandrake comic strips until his death in 1999 (with someone having to actually finish the strips he was halfway through at the time of his death).

I loved The Phantom all through highschool, and am a pretty well-versed buff when it comes to Phantom history.

I purchased my 2008 annual special the other day but haven't had a chance to dive into it yet... I'm looking forward to it as there are newspaper strips from 1943, 1944 and 1946, as well as a series of stories from the 70's.

I love the art work of Sy Barry - and there are a few of his stories in this edition, yet another thing to enjoy.

The Phantom has always portrayed such a high sense of moral justice, characters hardly ever die (in original Lee Falks stories) and in most cases The Phantom only uses his guns to disarm thugs and bad guys.

If you have kids who like reading comics, get them hooked on The Phantom, it's probably the most wholesome comic series around!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Continued News from Kenya

Here's a post from a few days ago over on Pure Christianity. We need to continue to pray that God will provide a forgiving heart to the people of this hurting nation. Tribal racism and hate is such an indwelt and long running thing, it's something that the entire African continent is struggling with. Tie that with a HIV crisis, and Africa is a part of the world that needs our help and attention.

There are still fires burning in and around Nakuru. If you ask those that set them why? They cannot answer. Hatred needs no reasons, it just hates. Even though fires are still being set, life is returning to normal for us. Thankfully we did not lose our home or family members.

There are many displaced people here in Nakuru and the rest of the country. We have been able to feed around 300 families so far. There are many more, and we pray for the ability to help them out.

I pray for love to replace hatred. I pray for those who are killing and burning. Please see that you are hurting innocent women and children.

http://purechristianity.blogs.com/pure_christianity/2008/01/nakuru-why-must.html

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Radical Works

Great sermon tonight at City North, I thought I'd write up some notes while it's all still fresh in my head.

From Luke 5:1-11 (The story of the miraculous catch of fish and the calling of the first disciples).

We need to discover how God wants to work radically in our lives, to step out of the ordinary and into a life set apart for something specifically special.

Our lives are like clay in the potters hand, God wants to build character, strength and endurance to our lives through his craftmanship, so that he can continually use us.

God is calling us to...

- Radical Worship
  • Worship really happens when we actually realise exactly who God is - we become gripped by his majesty, awesomeness, forgiveness, grace and love.
  • Radical worship is that point when we are so enthralled with God that we can't help but continue to worship him (look at Romans 12) - we are drawn to God no matter the consequence to us.
- Radical Obedience
  • (From Luke 5) - take an example from the fishermen, who obediently took instructions on fishing from a carpenter.
  • Peter learnt that day that when Jesus speaks you obey, even when you think you know better.
  • There may be times when Jesus asks you to do something that defies common sense. Understanding may only come after you obey.
-A Radical Lifestyle
  • (John 4) Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman - Jesus didn't do what a 'good' Jew would do in that day would do. He stepped outside of the 'norm' to reach a lady in need.
  • Jesus was more interested in the person than the culture.
  • It was ok for Jesus to defy some of the petty rules that the religion of the day had put in place.
  • Sometime to reach a person, to show them Jesus, to live radically in Gods plan we need to put aside some things in our culture that have become 'rules'.
-Radically Depend on God
  • We are only Christians because of the grace of God - not through anything we have done our selves.
  • Our forgiveness is dependant on God's everlasting love.
  • We can't do anything in our own strength because the basics of our faith is such a huge dependency, therefor we shouldn't try doing our own thing but remain dependant on God to do good works.
  • The Holy Spirit within us is a sign and an action of our dependency - as Jesus left he sent the Holy Spirit to work through us, and to be a channel to God for us.

Jesus was a radical. He wasn't conformed to the ways of his world, but he stepped up to live a life that would 100% glorify God. Jesus calls us to be like him, and to step from the moulds of our society (and these days our churches as well sometimes) and be someone who will go that extra distance to bring glory to God in every aspect of our lives.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Kenya

Unless you've been living under a rock you'll have seen the violent riots and ethnic cleansing going on in Kenya at the moment.

Rodney from The Journey pointed me towards this post at Pure Christianity.

I've been on a bit of a search of the blogosphere to find some missos in Kenya, and thanks to Rodney I've found a first hand account of what's going on.

The end is no where in sight. I am sure we will see the violence in the cities end soon enough, police and paramilitary units are being deployed in large numbers. This past week has left scars that I think will take a generation to heal.

You see this fight is not political. The fighting is about what language you speak. Racial hatred is the root of the problem, the faulty elections were just an excuse.

Our ministry will respond, but the scale of the damage is massive. There are at least 30,000 displaced people. New orphans have been created. Poverty has been intensified. The bottom of the ladder has just become much more crowded, not that there was much room down here before this past week.

"http://purechristianity.blogs.com/pure_christianity/"


Pray for everyone in Kenya, for those who need God's protection as their lives implode around them, for the missionaries and aid workers in the country that they can provide what is needed to get Kenya back on its feet, and for those causing all this trouble, that their hatred and intolerance can be muted by the grace of Jesus.

Lord of The Rings

As a bit of a chill out in this new year I've started re-reading the Lord of The Rings series. I have one of those paperback 3-books-in-1 volumes so means I just start at the begining and read through the Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers and Return of the King all in one hit.

I love the books (read them initially after seeing the Fellowship of the Ring in the movies and then re-read the series while I was in The Gambia in 2004), and am finding delving back into the world of Middle Earth a good downtime seeing as though I haven't taken any holidays during this summer period.

The deepness of the writing, the analogies and metaphores not only consume me into this fantasy world, but make me question and ponder our world, it's current state and the faith we put our trust in.

I've never been a big fantasy buff, but LOTR has a unique quality of feeling a direct link back to the real world. J.R.RTolkien wrote a true masterpiece, and I'm looking forward to learning new things as I get round to reading the series for a 3rd time.
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