Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Brian Smith Gone!

Parramatta's year of woes continues today with the resignation of coach Brian Smith. Reportedly two players turned up drunk to training this week and had to be sent home. Love him or hate him, I wouldn't be happy with the effort being shown by our players lately. This is a professional sport which demands professional behaviour and turning up to training pissed does not cut it.

My mail is that this has been happening a lot and Tim Smith's name seems to get mentioned as one of the main offenders. Apparently since he signed on for the next few years, his head has grown three sizes and he hasn't spent much time out of the pub. He is consequently playing like a busted arse!

Coach Smith's time had come but he should have been shown the courtesy of an honourable exit. The players need to take a good hard look at the absolute lack of effort that they have been putting in lately and start taking some pride in their work. It's been too easy to blame the coach. Now that the excuse has been removed, we need to see some pride and some effort.

Hopefully Jason Taylor, the interim coach, can send a rocket up a few backsides and stop the embarrassment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

How To Star In The Opera

Here is another wonderful contribution from the warped mind of occasional guest writer Stix. Some people have asked me whether Sticko's stories are fact or fiction. The answer is... both, I think!

My advice to you, if you ever win your audition to play the part of a corpse in an opera, is:

Ask questions. Here are some that I would suggest:

1. Does the plot call for the corpse to get shoved halfway off a bed head-first by people shrieking in Italian?

2. If so, will this corpse be wearing a nightgown-style garment which could easily get bunched up around the corpse's head if the corpse finds itself in an inverted ``spear-tackle'' kind of position - with its legs sticking up in the air on a brightly-lit stage in front of hundreds of strangers the corpse has never met?

3. If so, what, if any, provisions will be made to prevent a public viewing of the corpse's dangly bits? Fool that I am, I failed to ask these questions when I was offered the role of a deceased person in an opera during a break from singing for the Top Dogs.

After my audition for the Australian Opera, I received a lovely rejection call from Gibbo, the general manager, informing me that my singing was probably more suited to scaring birds away from crops in the Riverina, but nevertheless holding out an olive branch of hope for my long-held ambition to perform live at the Sydney Opera House. Gibbo said my skills may well be tailor-made to play the role of a dead politician in an upcoming production of Village of the Damned.

He sounded enthusiastic on the phone, saying my skin texture, pock marks and natural pallor were perfect for the part. Then Gibbo invited me to a full dress rehearsal. I was so excited I farted loudly, right there in the echoing hallway, desperately covering the mouthpiece in the prayer that my faux pas had not been audible through the phone.

Village of the Damned is a rarely performed piece by Giacomo del Franchi, which tells the story about a tiny township in which a shadowy demon presence is gradually taking possession of all the adults, leaving the children to run the local council and the RSL Club's chook raffles ALL ALONE. The first to be subjugated is the local Mayor who dies from the experience. For the rest of the opera he lays on a pew in the council chambers, occasionally being pushed and prodded by villagers looking for the priceless gold-and-gem-encrusted mayoral chain.

Rehearsal turned out to be very professional, featuring baritones, sopranos, bassoons, glissandos, orangutans, and much more. During the practice session, the singing members of the cast took turns in thrusting me off the pew and intoning invaluable dramatic advice about professional corpse-playing (''Keep still'' and "Don't twitch''). They also laughed just a little too loudly as I repeatedly crashed to the wooden stage floor, often coming to rest in the most undignified positions. But, as a professional performer, I stayed in character.

During del Franchi's epic piece, a mob of villagers sing very loudly in Italian for 45 minutes of opera time, which, for your average football fan, equals roughly an entire State of Origin series. I spent most of this time lying perfectly still on the bed with my mouth open. This turned out to be rather difficult. When you have to hold perfectly still in front of hundreds of people, you become a seething mass of primitive bodily needs. You develop overpowering urges to gulp, itch, scratch, burp, roll over on the other cheek and -- above all - to lick your lips. "LICK YOUR LIPS RIGHT NOW!'' is the urgent message your brain repeatedly sends to your tongue. You find yourself abandoning all concerns about personal hygiene and praying that del Franchi was thoughtful enough to include a part in Village of the Damned where the villagers decide, for whatever reason, to lick the dead mayor's lips.

But this is not what happens. What happens is that the singers, while searching for the Mayor's golden, jewel-studded chain of office, shove the corpse off the pew, the result being that I had to hold perfectly still while upside-down, with my face smushed into a low footstool and my legs in the air, through several arias, which had more verses than "American Pie''. Fortunately, under my shroud I was wearing flesh-coloured lycra bicycle pants, so the audience was never directly exposed to anything more shocking than a few wads of unsightly cellulite, which meant that a dangerous stampede for the exits was avoided.

Finally, the singers put the bruised and embarrassed "corpse'' back up on its pew, so for the rest of the show I could just lie there thinking about the footy and the Top Doggies and whether Mark Gasnier would be a turncoat and sign with the ARU. At times I also listened to the music, and I have to confess here that, although I am by no means an opera tragic, I was deeply moved by one part, when a stage roadie named Zack Flack crept up behind my pew, unseen by the enthralled audience, and whispered, ''Parramatta 21, Bulldogs 8.''

That made it all worthwhile...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Richard Carleton

I was always taught that if you couldn't say something nice about someone then say nothing.

Richard Carleton died yesterday...