“RAKE” – STARRING RICHARD ROXBURGH. BRILLIANTLY AUSTRALIAN

Rake is an Australian television program, produced by Essential Media and Entertainment. It first showed on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC1 in 2010. The fourth series started on ABC TV in May 2016. It stars Richard Roxburgh as rake Cleaver Greene, brilliant Sydney barrister typically defending a guilty client.

For Americans, the show is available (all four current seasons) on both Netflix and AcornTV. 

Rake is described as “self-destructive,” but that doesn’t entirely explain it. Rake — Cleaver Greene — takes self-destruction to new levels. He is smart, snarky, witty … and he is a total, social jerk. Everybody loves and hates him at the same time. He is awful so much of the time that not only does he get blamed for what he does, he gets blamed for everything that anyone does.

Richard Roxburgh is the co-creator and star of the show. The character is his, though I don’t think it’s “him” in a real-life way.  Regardless, he’s hands-on in the series.

Roxburgh is no slouch in the directing/writing/producing categories, His character — Cleaver Greene — changes and grows which is a rare feature on any television series. He is, in the beginning, a complete asshole. A gambler. A drug addict. An alcoholic. Beaten up by thugs more or less daily for not paying the vig on his loans. He has no home or office and works out of whoever’s office is currently not in use. What they call in Australia “a floater.”

As the series progresses, he starts to sort out his life. Although everyone continues blaming him for everything, it becomes obvious his “friends and family” are sufficiently screwed up to not need additional help from good old Cleave. Still, it’s convenient to keep blaming him because that’s easier than blaming themselves … and Cleaver is so used to being blamed, he accepts it. Until he doesn’t.

The show has been ending every year for two years, but popular demand keeps it coming back. Netflix and Acorn both have all four years of the show and a fifth is in production.

We’ve never seen a show quite like this. It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s absolutely not an American  series. If it reminds me of any show made in this country, it might be “House of Cards,” but it’s more comedy and less lethal. It reminds me that however bizarre we think our country is, other countries are — in their own way — equally bizarre. Even though they have much better health care.

This may not be the show for everyone. The language is raw, to say the least. There’s a lot of sex and drugs. It is a messy show with messy people whose lives are way over the top.

Just when you think you can’t stand to see Cleaver screw up his life any more, he fixes something. Does something beautiful for a friend. He’s the most selfish guy in the world … except … he isn’t. Not really. Not when all is said and done.

It’s kind of brilliant, actually.

MOST GLORIOUS DAY! A CELEBRATION OF MY FINAL 2017 CHECKUP

“Oh frajous day! Callooh! Callay!”
he chortled in his joy.


A glorious day indeed! Not only is WordPress actually publishing the Daily Post today, but I’ll be spending the day at the cardiologist. It’s the big one … a deep EKG plus the testing of the pacemaker during which they turn me off to see if I’m still going to die without it (my fave!) — plus the general “And how ARE we doing!” for the year.

I’m running a little late. Should’ve had this checkup in March, but my doctor is changing practices and I wanted to stay with him, adorable guy that he is (he really is a cutie).

This is the last checkup of my annual checks for various potentially lethal illnesses for 2017. After this biggie, there will be nothing more (planned) than the annual flu shot to mar my joy in Autumn and any other seasonal delights that yet might come our way.

In honor of these events, I offer you two (yes two!) favorite poems by favorite author Lewis Caroll from “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” here are:

“You are old, Father William” (1865) by Lewis Caroll (prophetic!)

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door –
Pray, what is the reason of that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment – one shilling the box –
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak –
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose –
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!”

Followed by everyone’s favorite:

Jabborwocky!

See you all on the other side!

DECEMBER BOYS (2007) DANIEL RADCLIFFE – RICH PASCHALL

DECEMBER BOYS (2007)


Movie Review, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

You probably missed it in the theater.  Daniel Radcliffe stars in this independent production at the height of the Harry Potter phenomenon.  The Australian made film found a big name distributor for the USA and Canada, Warner Brothers.  Yes, the same mega movie studio that distributed Harry Potter.  If you were the producer of this little Australian project, you might have expected to hit the jackpot with Radcliffe’s star power, plus one of the biggest movie distributors in the world.  You would have been wrong.

Distributor: Warner Independent

Distributor: Warner Independent

Filmed down under in 2006, December Boys is based on the novel of the same name.  The setting was moved up from the 1930s to the 1960s and is told as a flashback, as it was in the book.  This allows the ending to be brought up to modern times. The boys are orphans at a Catholic institution.  Four boys (five in the novel) share December birthdays. Each is given a gift of a Christmas holiday at a large beachfront home.

Radcliffe, a teenager at the time, is the oldest of the boys, known as Maps.  The other three, Spit, Spark (or Sparks, the film is unclear) and Misty are younger boys of about the same age.  Misty is the narrator.

For Radcliffe, this is a coming of age story.  He meets a girl who is a bit of a wild child and through the course of the movie you will see Radcliffe smoke, drink and, well, if you don’t know what they were doing in that cave, you were never a teenager.  Later, Maps dismisses an inquiry by one of the younger boys about that mark on his neck.

The home of the older couple who hosts the boys’ holiday introduces the element of health problems of one of the adults.  It’s a bit of a sad sidetrack to a storyline filled with side tracks.  There is also an old fisherman at the sea trying to catch some elusive large fish.  Naturally one of the boys get caught in that story line.

Then there’s the young couple who fail to conceive a child.  When the young husband tells the priest from the orphanage they are having trouble getting pregnant, you know what the priest will suggest.  Misty overhears and determines to be the one adopted. Eventually he tells the priest he was eavesdropping. The other boys force him to spill the story.  Then the little ones try to be model citizens, while Maps knows an older boy will never be adopted.

There are plenty of hi-jinks for the boys.  The young man pushing the adoption with his wife owns a motorcycle and gives the younger boys rides along the beach.  Misty goes in the water and nearly drowns and our hero comes to the rescue. Do I have to tell you who?  There is disappointment and heartbreak in store. Throughout, the single thing the boys share is the only family they know, each other.

In addition to various goofs, some of the symbolism is confusing. And unnecessary.  A dark stallion periodically appears, symbolizing something, but I’m not sure what. Misty has “visions” of the future — nuns and the Virgin Mary.  It works having Misty picture the future through an empty frame; the rest doesn’t work. Boomers may find the out-of-time 1970s songs jarring.

Radcliffe wasn’t paid a big salary to make the movie.  He probably wanted a chance to be someone other than Harry Potter.  The character of Lucy, with whom Maps has a relationship, was not in the novel.  Perhaps this intrigued Radcliffe. Perhaps it worried Warner Brothers.

When the film opened in September of 2007, it had staggered release dates for Sydney, Melbourne, and London, most likely so Radcliffe could attend. When Warner Brother opened it as a “limited release” in the US, it was on four screens the first week, eight the next, and 13 next. After which it more or less disappeared. Not exactly a grand opening for a boy known round the world. Of course, the boy was known for a specific role and Warner Brothers wanted to keep it that way, at least to the degree they could control it.

It didn’t make much money. Of course. In the U.S., it grossed about $100,000 during its three-week release in September 2007. The film cost an estimated $4 million and grossed around a million dollars (U.S. and Australia) during its theatrical release. It’s currently available as a digital download from Amazon, and on used DVD.

December Boys got mixed reviews. The confusion of the story lines mixed together was criticized.  Immortal film critic Roger Ebert said, “There seem to be two movies going on here at the same time, and “December Boys” would have been better off going all the way with one of them.”  One thing critics agreed on: young Daniel could play someone other than Harry Potter.

The “coming of age” story with Lucy and Maps was created for the big screen. Perhaps therein lay some of the problem of plot development.  It might have been better to skip the extra plot and have Radcliffe play a boy who everyone looked up to, who came in to save the day when there was trouble for any of the other characters.

Oh wait, he was already doing that. Rather successfully too.

PENCHANT – TOO DULL FOR GROWN UPS

Penchant is one of those words I use, but only with people who like words. My husband, for example. Otherwise, I don’t use them much because so many people don’t recognize them. This one doesn’t count as a $20 word, though, because it only has two syllables. To be a truly, official, fancy word worth at least a $20, you need a minimum of three syllables and a sense that the origin was Latin or Greek, or perhaps, Polynesian.

From the “Smart Dictionary”

I was hoping to discover a trail of the past taking us into French, maybe. Penchant, with a French accent, might have sexual connotations.

Alas. Neither the American nor British dictionaries led me down through history to when this word meant “a small Gallic flag which flies over the war chief’s tent when he is making love to his mistress” or “silken under garments worn by the wife of the Count de Toulouse circa 1274.”

It merely means “a fondness or preference or liking” for this, that, or the other thing. Ho hum.

If we are going to have to write about vocabulary words — this is like one of those they put in Reader’s Digest’s “Improve Your Vocabulary” articles — make them more titillating. Sexier. Bring on the black silk underwear! This is not doing it for me.

Raunchy words! Yes! Bring them on!

SYNCHRONIZATION – WHEN THE WORLD IS TRAGIC, WRITING HELPS

SYNCHRONIZE

I’ve always been a writer. As soon as I could put a pencil on paper, I wrote. Stories, bad poetry, longer stories that never became books. Letters. Newspaper articles, funny stuff. Recipes. Interviews. Manuals for software and hardware.

A huge piece of my career was tied up in high-tech documentation and writing. I was not good at science or math, so it was a surprise to master that form of writing. I got people to understand extremely complicated things they would never have understood without help. I made complicated things easy.

In retirement, I still try to make complicated things easier. I spend hours explaining how and why  the electoral college is supposed to work. Why, at least when it was created, it made sense.

Does it still makes sense? I don’t know. I thought I knew, but I’m finding the world has been changing at a dizzying pace, so I’m not sure what I know. Knowing I don’t know everything is a big point in my favor. If I don’t know, I either do the research to find out, or flat-out tell you “I don’t know.”

I spend time trying to convince people that “term limits” are the last thing we need. When the people you elect are bad at their jobs, shortening the time they serve doesn’t fix the problem. We are not suffering from too many overly experienced politicians in Congress. We are suffering from too many unqualified, no-nothing pols who don’t care about anything except their careers.

We need better candidates. We need political parties who care about us and want to make the world a better place.

I put considerable effort into explaining how this government is different than parliamentary ones. Reminding people that even between the various versions of parliaments around the world, no two are the same.

We will never be them. We are not going to change the nature of this republic. We will fix a few things here and there, but the fundamental design of this republic isn’t going to change.

All reputedly democratic regimes have strengths and weaknesses. We are currently suffering from bad government, but that isn’t because our structure is bad. It’s because we voted for stupid, inept people who are narrow-minded and lacking compassion. Who are wedded to reactionary ideas and miss the point of what’s going on in the world. Then, there’s our crazy, paranoid, morally insane, narcissistic president who should never have been elected to anything … something which is becoming more obvious every day.

We need to recognize that this country is a constitutional republic. It is not a democracy, although it is democratically based. I doubt we’ll ever eliminate the electoral college, though I hope we will at least reform it.

These are the posts I write because they are important to me, though I doubt anyone is paying attention. It’s great to get lots of hits, but sometimes, I have to write it anyway.


I write because it’s what I do. I do it better than I do anything else in my repertoire. 

I don’t spend every blog making political, social, or cultural points. No one wants to get banged over the head all the time. If you want more politics, plenty of places write nothing else. I’m not a newspaper. I’d just like to shed a bit of light on processes that are murky and need clarity.

Does what I do matter? I think so. I hope so. Maybe I can get people to look at their world differently. If I succeed, I’m good with myself.

I also take nice pictures.