“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.

TENTATIVE? OR SIMPLY INEFFECTIVE?

Tentative. Is that like when WordPress puts up a “word of the day” but can’t connect it so we write about it, but no one really sees it? If I think about it, that would probably be a lot closer to ineffective, wouldn’t you agree?

Rain

This is a very tentative afternoon for me. I’m tentatively considering washing the kitchen floor, but it’s raining and will be for at least one more day. Our dogs have muddy paws. Tentatively, I should (maybe) schedule it for … oh I don’t know … later. Sometime. Friday-ish.

Uh huh. That’s it. Later.

I’m feeling too tentative today to bother writing about this. Tentatively, I’ll think about doing it tomorrow. Or, maybe, never. Sometimes “tentative,” “ineffective,” and “never” are not very far apart.

COME TO THINK OF IT

Getting old isn’t all that bad, come to think of it.

There was a question on my local Facebook page asking for suggestions about local pediatricians. I suddenly realized … I don’t know any pediatricians. Considering my son is 48 and my granddaughter is 21, that ought to be no big surprise … but it was. I don’t remember exactly when I became free of worrying about “kid stuff.” As long as Kaity was a child, it was still part of my world, if only indirectly. But now … it’s finished.

I’m no longer worried about the routes for school buses. I’m not looking for a great playground — or wondering how many pairs of shoes the child will need this year. I may be wondering whether or not I can afford to get her a better camera, but that’s a grown up concern. No more am I wrapped in the world of children.

Do I miss it?

Are you kidding?

I won’t be packing lunch or overseeing homework assignments. I will not have to listen to the kid lying about how he did his homework during study hall and trying to decide whether to call him on it, or say “fuck it” and move on.

I won’t need to update my résumé. I won’t be commuting to a faraway office or planning a vacation based on a two-week vacation schedule. I might not get any vacation, but on the positive side of that equation, I don’t really need a vacation. A short break to visit friends will do nicely.

I will probably only set my alarm half a dozen times during the coming year.

There are worse things than being old. Retirement. Way to go!

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!

DARK DEEDS IN A SMALL TOWN KITCHEN

Twenty-seven years. Twenty-seven long years. She looked down at the knives in her hand. Two simple steak knives … and he was backing up, directly into the knives. No one would believe the story, not for a minute.

“Hey! Stop! I’ve got knives in my hand. You’re backing right into the knives,” I said. The thought was just a tiny, momentary lapse …

“They’d never believe your story,” he commented as I put the knives in their sheathes.

“They have me in maximum security for the remainder, brief though it may be, of my so-called life.”

“The DNA alone would convict you,” he agreed. Good he hadn’t moved faster or it could have been all over before I had a chance to warn him …


Which bring me to what I bought for our anniversary


Garry doesn’t need clothing. Garry doesn’t need a tie or a watch. Nor jewelry, a book, a computer, or a cell phone. Garry doesn’t really need anything except possibly more hair which I promised I’d get him if I got rich from the proceeds of my book. I didn’t get rich and have not hit the lottery — unlikely having not bought any lottery tickets. Which means Garry still needs hair. Maybe in our next lifetime.

As for me, I don’t need anything anyone can buy. So, I figured there was nothing I could get that would be interesting, surprising, or unique. I was wrong.


It all started when we had Duke at the vet the other day. We got to postulating “what IS Duke?” The curled over the back tail, his funny scrunched in face scream some kind of Asian breed. Not the kind of dog you usually find roaming streets looking for a back alley girl dog for a quickie. Accidental backyard breeding? Intentional mix?

Something happened because we’ve got The Duke.

So, the vet says: “Maybe Shi Tzu? Not King Charles … no spaniel in this dog. Don’t think he’s any kind of herder … Okay. That’s it. You’re going to have to do DNA. I need to know what this dog IS,” said Dr. Marcie.

“I’d like to know too,” I said, “But those tests are pricey.”

“I think around $75 … something like that,” she admitted.

“Not this week,” I said. Although if she’ll pay, I’m up for it.

But this got me to thinking, so I looked up the DNA breed tests for dogs and indeed, they are in the $75 range. More pressingly, I have to get Bonnie clipped next week. She has reached the “stinking bag of black rags on legs” stage. Gibbs has a flat, smooth coat, so for now, he is okay. Garry pointed out that Duke is more a “hose him down” sort of guy. So rather than sending out DNA to discover Duke’s ancestors, I thought I’ll get Bonnie clipped.

But speaking of anniversaries, how about ancestral DNA for Garry and I? We may not need it, but it would certainly be different, right? Oddly, it’s less expensive to get the DNA for humans than for dog breeds. Go figure, right?

So. That’s what I did. DNA for we two lovebirds. In about four weeks, the mystery of our ancestors will unfold. The truth will be revealed! The veils of history will lift and all will be known. Or maybe not. We shall see.

As for Duke, I’m afraid he will have to wait until my curiosity goes over the top … or one of those lottery tickets comes in big.

AMERICAN VALUES, AMERICAN VOTING AND AMERICAN IDOL – BY TOM CURLEY

The American voting system is seriously fucked up. I think most of us can agree on this fact. Right wing nut jobs insist that millions of illegal aliens somehow got into thousands of voting booths and voted for Hillary.

I voted!

Thousands of illegal aliens somehow rented hundreds of buses and all drove to New Hampshire to vote for democrats.

New Hampshire or bust!

Our arcane system of electing a President has resulted in a minority of Americans voting in the two worst Presidents in American history.

Dumb and Dumber. (Dumber is on the left)

Republican states are bending over backward to deny more and more people (usually minorities) the right to vote. To top all this off, less than half our voting age population bothers to vote at all.


Interesting fact. In 2012, more people voted for the winner of American Idol than voted for President of the United States. 


This begs the question which is — what is American Idol doing right that the American government is failing to do?

I think the answer is that we as a nation have just become a big, big, really bad reality show. We have a really bad reality TV show President. And why? Well, apparently lots of people like reality shows. So, I say we need to change the whole system of voting.

It’s obvious. We need to change the way we select candidates for President and turn electoral politics into a giant reality show contest.

We start with the primaries. We have a set number of people to start with. Say … 16. Both parties do this. We then have 16 debates. The debates are not moderated by network news people. Instead, we have judges. Different judges for each debate. For the first debate, we can have the judges from The Voice, Master Chef, Junior America’s Got Talent, and so on.

Or we could mix them up. At the end of each debate the judges eliminate one candidate. Oh, and the audience can yell and scream all they want.

When you narrow it down to the top 10 candidates, that’s when you, the American public, takes over. During the debate and for one hour following it, you get to vote for the candidate of your choice. The one with the fewest votes is out.

Voting rules are simple.  You can vote by text, phone call, or online. You can vote 10 times on any of these devices. (Note: Message and data rates may apply.)

Eventually, we’re down to just two candidates.

Now they are free to travel around the country. Give all the speeches they want. But — they will have to go through at least four more debates.

Here’s where it gets interesting. They are not just debates! Depending on the judges, the candidates will have to compete in various competitions. When the America’s Got Talent judges are moderating, each candidate will have to do some kind of act. Magic, ventriloquism, hip hop dancing, or maybe a dog act.

When the Master Chef judges are moderating they will all have to make an interesting dish. Using shrimp.

They may have to design a line of clothing, flip a house or bake a perfect soufflé.

You get the idea. The candidate who wins these challenges gets an advantage for that episode, excuse me, debate. Stuff like maybe the winner gets an air horn he or she can blow whenever the other candidate is speaking.

When we finally get to election day all the networks agree to show a wrap up clip show of all the debates. The winners, the losers, the fallen soufflés.

Everything.

Now you, the American public have until midnight November 8th to vote. You can vote by phone, text, online, regular mail — or you can go to a voting booth. This time, you only get 20 votes. You can only vote 10 times on any given device. Except the voting booth. You can cast all 20 votes there. (Note: Message and data rates may apply.)

I realize at this point you think I’m joking. And I am. But am I? You say that it’s supposed to be one person, one vote. But is one person, 20 votes any different? OK, you say it’s too complicated. What if people don’t use all 20 votes? What if they don’t know how to text? What if they can’t get online? Well, too bad. That’s what makes the game interesting.

Is this any more difficult than having people stand in lines for hours on election day in poor districts with a few voting machines, many of which don’t work — only to find out that they’ve been thrown off the voting rolls because their name was similar to somebody else who had committed a felony and wasn’t allowed to vote?

WTF!! What do you mean I can’t vote!?

But, you say “How do we know people didn’t cheat?” Maybe they voted more than 20 times? Well, our technology seems to be fully able to handle the problem. I recently texted a donation to a hurricane relief fund during the telethon that all the networks aired the other day. I tried to do it again and I got a text back saying that I had donated the limit.

Maybe people could cheat, but it’s still more secure than the electronic voting machines we use. Machines we’ve seen repeatedly hacked by professionals trying to show us how easy they are hacked.

So this is it. My humble proposal. I think it would bring a lot more people out to vote, and it would be a lot more fun!

Tell me honestly, wouldn’t you pay money to watch Ted Cruz try to bake a savory cheese soufflé?

I’m Ted Cruz, and I approve of this soufflé. Food porn!

 

A FLAVORFUL ANNIVERSARY

CHINESE FOOD WITH SCULPTURE


This  is our anniversary. Number 27. There’s a special gift that goes with 27. Not gold, diamonds, silver, or other expensive metals. No, this is the “sculpture” anniversary. I was thinking a really large bronze or something in stone.

Otherwise, we are considering trying out a new Chinese restaurant in Whitinsville. For you non-locals, you may pronounce that “white-enz-ville.” Emphasis on the “white.”

There is no “wit” in the valley. The Whitens family were big mill owners and the pronunciation remains with us forever.

This particular restaurant is brand, spanking new. We know this because we got their publicity mailer only yesterday. Having been here such a short time, there’s an off-chance they’ll retain memories of how to cook Chinese food in a Chinese manner. New restaurants are pretty good for a couple of months, until everyone starts to complain how the food is too spicy.  Too spicy can mean the chef uses alien spices, like ginger and garlic. Even regular ground black pepper is viewed as a potential dangerous intruder to our local culinary style. Flavorful? We hope.

Today will be a largely a non-electronic day. We’ll be out most of the afternoon and possibly, if dinner works out, a piece of the evening.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Maybe we’ll go buy a sculpture after all. A really big, extremely heavy bronze — or maybe solid granite. Something weighty enough to take out the front end of a snow plow. With its hands outstretched to hold a plaque with our address on it.

Thus finally, the FEDEX guy will stop delivering our packages to the neighbors, though not necessarily from tossing them into snowdrifts where I won’t find them until next spring.