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Book Review: ‘Room Service’ by Frank Moorhouse May 27, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Book Reviews, Reviews.
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I’m a big fan of comic writings and I have been reading a fair bit recently because I am trying to write a comedic novel myself.  One of the recommendations from my supervisor was Frank Moorhouse, a gifted Australian writer I can certainly learn from.

I picked up one of the thinnest Moorhouse books I could find from the library, Room Service, a collection of short stories and essays first published in 1985 and predominantly featuring Moorehouse’s alter ego, Francois Blase.

Room Service is seriously funny stuff, particularly the first few pieces.  Blase is a quirky, neurotic, somewhat disturbed individual who gets himself into bizarre and compromising situations.  In many ways he reminds me of a less abrasive, classier George Constanza or Larry David, both of whom I adore.

The first piece, for example, is all about how Blase, not wanting to pay for ice that is always half melted by the time it gets to his hotel room, leaves his beers outside the window and then suspects the hotel staff of purposely altering the beers’ position so that he will accidentally knock them off the ledge.

There are many other hilarious pieces, such as one about Australian vs Chinese culture and stereotypes and another satirical piece on the love affair between Australian men and sheep throughout the ages.

Each piece is self-contained (and I discovered at the end that most of them had already been published elsewhere separately) and crafted with a keen eye for detail and punchlines that you don’t always expect.  Moorhouse has this uncanny ability to be self-deprecating while retaining a dead seriousness about his justifications and world views.

What impressed me the most was his ability to create so many varied pieces, many with completely different styles, but somehow making them all fit together in this tight little book (around 174 pages).

That said, I wasn’t captivated by every piece.  As often is the case with collections and anthologies, there were a few a simply didn’t get or enjoy, and there were some others that didn’t sustain my interest the whole way through.

3.5 out of 5

I’m Back, Baby! May 5, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, Study.
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It’s been a while since I blogged (by my standards), probably one of the longer stretches of inactivity since I started this thing. A lot has happened since my previous post — Osama Bin Laden was killed and Karl (‘Who the Heck’) Stefanovic won the Gold Logie.

But I’ve finally finished my cringeworthy essay (painful, painful memories — is it just me or do other people always manage to finish assignments at the very last second, no matter how long they have or how many extensions they get?) — so I’m back baby, and I’ve got a bunch of posts lined up!

Better get started.

For no reason, here is a George Costanza tribute.

Bieber to take on Costanza at 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend! February 2, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA.
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The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game which will take place in LA this year is going to be a cracker.

Forget about Hall-of-Famers Scottie Pippen and Bill Walton playing — they have just announced that teen heart throb Justin Bieber (who may or may not have hit puberty recently) is attending, along with my favourite TV star Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza from Seinfeld).

Bieber, despite his diminutive size, actually appears to be a pretty good little baller.  Check out the videos below.  The first one is him playing one-on-one against Usher, who looks like he absolutely tanked it against his protege.  The second is more believable and shows a young(er) Bieber playing in a tournament.

As for Costanza, from what I remember from Seinfeld he was a bit of a ‘chucker’.  I wonder if he trained with shoes from the clip below.

The thought of a Bieber vs Costanza duel makes this year’s All-Star Weekend a must watch.

The Fortnight of Pace! May 8, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in On Writing, Study.
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In the tradition of “The Summer of George”, I had proclaimed the last two weeks “The Fortnight of Pace”.

It was my two-week mid-semester break, and it was a time for me to thrive, to pound out those writing assessments, to enter into writing competitions, to submit articles to publications, to finally make some progress on my novels.  It seemed so perfect.  No classes, no disruptions.  There was nothing that could stop me.

But alas, The Fortnight of Pace turned out much like The Summer of George.  I tried, I really did, but the time just came and went like I was in some kind of time warp.  I remember just a couple of months ago when I was working, time seemed to crawl.  I wondered why the days would take forever to finish, and the week felt like it would never end.  Now, I have the opposite problem.  I do a couple of things here and there, and all of a sudden the day is over and my ‘to do’ list remains almost untouched.

So now, instead of having all the time in the world to work on my novels and accumulate writing credits, I still have 7 assessments due in the next 5 weeks.  Looks like I’m going to be busy!

Serenity now!

Review: Jason Alexander’s Comedy Spectacular! December 5, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Shows.
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George Costanza is back, baby!

In my humble opinion, George Costanza (Seinfeld) is the greatest sitcom character of all time.  And naturally, the actor that plays George, Jason Alexander, is my favourite sitcom actor (and probably TV actor) of all time.

And so when I found out that Jason Alexander’s Comedy Spectacular was returning to Sydney, I didn’t hesitate to buy tickets immediately.  The chance to see the closest thing I have to a hero was too rare an opportunity to pass up.  It didn’t matter to me that the description of the show stated that Alexander was ‘hosting’ a night of comedy, which made me slightly concerned that they were merely using his name to promote a show predominantly featuring other comics.

The verdict?  Pure gold! By far the best comedy night I have ever been to.

This was truly Jason Alexander’s Comedy Spectacular.  Alexander featured all the way through the 3-hour+ extravaganza, and he was in superb form from start to finish.  The show began with a hilarious long solo stand-up act from the man himself (much longer than I had expected).  It wasn’t just recycled material either – there were plenty of references to more recent events (from the death of Michael Jackson to Tiger Woods’ indiscretions to Australia’s new opposition leader to of course, the wedding between 66-year-old Geoffrey Edelsten and his 25 year-old-bride Brynne Gordon which Alexander was paid to attend) and was full of improvisation and spontaneity.

Following the solo act, Alexander began introducing a stellar cast of local comedians.  On this particular night, he had stand-ups Glenn Robbins, Mick Molloy and Julia Morris, music-comedy trio The Axis of Awesome, and improv specialist Rebecca de Unamano.  For those who know a little about Australian comedy, this is a formidable line-up.  Good enough to sell-out venues even without the headlining superstar.  Here’s a brief review of each of the secondary acts:

Glenn Robbins – by far the funniest comedian of the night not named Jason Alexander.  He started off a little slow, but was absolutely on fire before it was over and had the crowds rolling in the isles.

Mick Molloy – the fat lady beside me sounded like she was about to die from laughter, but Mick’s comedy really didn’t do it for me personally – though to be fair he had a couple of good one-liners.

Julia Morris – consistent, female-oriented comedy with some decent laughs, but nothing that made me piss myself.

Axis of Awesome – great talents, but compared to the experienced and polished comics, felt a little amateurish – that was, until their final song, which was a bloody masterpiece.

Rebecca de Unamano – great fun because she utilised Jason Alexander’s talents and got the rest of the cast involved – and not a bad comedian herself.

The greatest thing was that even though the night was split between various acts, it was well and truly Alexander’s show.  He was there from the beginning, he was by far the longest act, and he continued to throw in gut-busting lines and jokes (often at Michael Jackson’s expense) between the other acts.  My favourite parts of the show were (in no particular order):

  • the Q&A session with the crowd before the intermission, which largely circled around Seinfeld, of course.  We found out what Jerry Seinfeld said to the gang before they went out for the last episode, what Alexander’s favourite George Costanza line is, and we even saw Alexander sign the leg of some dude in front of me who had George Constanza’s face tattooed on his leg!  No joke;
  • Jason Alexander’s amazing Broadway musical medley to kick start the second half of the show; and
  • the improvisation session with the entire cast which finished up the night – Alexander was at his absolute best, even outdoing the master of improv Rebecuitca de Unamano.

All in all, it was indeed a comedy spectacular!  Highly recommended if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see it.

5 out of 5 stars!

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