Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 7: Snapshot Recap #ABCScreenTime


Oooooooooboy. Technology and I are not friends at the moment, as such I am going to do a very quick recap and hope that uploads. You may have noticed that I’ve missed a couple of recaps. Soz. Will get back to them. 

First things first. Regular panelist Sami Shah is not there. Or at least not on screen. I usually worry that they don’t let him go home because he’s always on but now I’m worried that they’ve locked him under the desk because he’s not on. Could friends of Sami please check that he’s okay.
Secondly, the panelists are Benjamin Law (BLaw), Marc Fennell (flings spiderman underpants at screen), Nakkiah Lui (swoon) and Zan Rowe (sweet). Host Chris Taylor is there. Possibly sitting on Sami. Seriously, someone let me know how Sami is.
Thirdly they’re discussing Murder on the Orient Express and GoggleboxAu. I’m slightly worried that a tv show about discussing tv shows discussing a tv show about discussing tv shows will cause some sort of rip in the fabric of the universe and we’ll either be invaded by more of those Bernstain Bear bastards or I’ll be forced to go back to high school.

Views on Murder on the Orient Express:

BLaw loved the visuals. He enjoyed that it was cheesy.

Marc loved it. Thought it was bonkers.

Nakkiah Lui points out that it glamourises imperialism. And more damningly… her mother didn’t like it. That’s it. I was already a bit iffy about watching it but now definitely won’t. Said it was a bit self indulgent. It was all about Kenneth. 

Zan couldn’t understand why it was made but liked it. It was pretty but why when it has been done so many times before. It had a large cast but they didn’t get to interact like they do in great ensemble movies. 

And now let’s move onto GoggleboxAu.

BLaw says that it has made him fall back in love with Australia. It lets us know our neighbours and that they’re not that awful… unlike half the panel of Q and A.

Nakkiah points out that they don’t have an Indigenous family on the show and volunteers as tribute. Yes! Make it happen. I will watch it forever!!! She loves that it is diverse.

Zan says it’s a good catch up on the week. Is pleasantly surprised they cover SBS and don’t just cross promote.

Marc thinks that they’ve captured the lifecycle of tv and that’s beautiful. No, you’re beautiful Marc, you are. He says it works because it is set in lounge rooms and lounge rooms are relaxed.

Now it is time for show recommendations.

Marc recommends Star Trek Discovery. He is right. It is great. Might I also recommend Marc’s show on SBS? The Feed.

Zan recommends a doco, The Go-Betweens: Right Here. It’s on iView

BLaw is watching new Will & Grace.  I too love this show. Have all the previous seasons on DVD, will also get the new ones. Might I also recommend BLaw’s show, The Family Law, on SBS?

Nakkiah recommends Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. Might I also recommend Nakkiah’s show Black Comedy on ABC?

And that’s it from me.

Find episodes on iView.

Read past recaps here.

Check on Sami Shah here.

Buy my shit here.


Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 5: #ABCScreenTime



Screen Time is here and it is rated M. Can we expect some intimate countdown like they had in episode 1? Let’s find out.


Chris Taylor tells us that we’re discussing Detroit directed by Kathryn Bigalow and written by Mark Boal (they also teamed up on The Hurt Locker), Channel 7s Instant Hotel(but I don’t wanna talk about Instant Hotel), and a new form of reality television hailing from Norway called Slow TV (and I am here for this). His panelists tonight are Benjamin Law, Judith Lucy, Zan Rowe and of course Sami Shah (because they have trapped him there and will never let him leave).


They jump straight into discussing Detroit. Chris is pumped. He is using terms such as powerful and visceral. It’s set in 1967 and based around the uncontainable events that happened at the Algiers Hotel during the 12 Street Riot in Detroit. Read about the events here. White cops killing innocent black people is the summary. Chris says that it makes you angry because so little has changed. Zan adds that it doesn’t just make you angry but it also does a great job of making you scared.


Judith says that the stuff in the hotel was brilliant. She also says visceral. If you want a visceral film then go watch Detroit. She talks about how you could really feel for these innocent people, just wanting to be safe, and even having some fun, and then three of them end up dead because of police brutality. (Is it brutality or straight up murder? Do we need to sugar coat it?) BUT she felt that the end lagged. She’d be happy to cut the last 30 minutes. Says the court scene was unnecessary. Chris says it was necessary because people need to know that the white cops got away with murder. Judith says that there are other ways to show this without a full court scene.


Benjamin speakeths. He says he is ambivalent. Take that visceral, here’s some ambivalence. Benjamin indicates that it was traumatizing and fear inducing but he kind of got the point ten minutes in and then had emotional burnout and couldn’t be as emotionally present for the rest of the 90 minutes. He also didn’t like the way black people were reduced to victims and not full characters. Chris says that he feels that Benjamin is punishing Kathryn Bigalow for being too good at her craft. In case you have missed it, Chris really likes this film.


Sami says that Detroit is made for white people and not people ofcolour. He says that black people know this. Black people live this. This provides no new information for them. It provides no new rallying point. It provides no new understanding. Sami adds that he feels that it actually diminishes what people of colour experience because it almost makes it seem as if the racism is from a few bad individuals and that if you defeat them then it is over, whereas racism is deeply entrenched and systemic. He feels that it is almost portrayed as if the murders are horrific, and that Krauss is a terrible person, but the white people were just doing their job and that the ‘crazy’ black people were being ‘bad’ and overreacting and starting riots, when that reality is far from that. It allows white people to feel angry and scared of bad racists, but because they’re so individualised that white people get to see the racists as others when in fact racism is pervasive and part of white culture and something that needs tonbe dismantled not simply put in the box of ‘others’. Systematic abuse of power is the problem and that this belittles the experience of black people. Chris says that Sami saying that Bigalow is belittling the experience is belittling what Bigalow has done, and ‘even if’ Sami is right and that this film is just for white people, it is still valuable and important as it gives white people an experience to show them that they’ve been wrong. (Cringe.) Sami responds that if they don’t already know that racism is wrong then this film isn’t going to teach them that. (Sami is doing an amazing job of keeping his cool.)

Benjamin says that Bigalow is making us bear witness. And what she does in the hotel is amazing but then it flounders a bit. Sami says that the scope of the film being calledDetroit was too wide. He agrees, and the entire panel agrees, that the stuff in Algiers Hotel was incredible and that the focus should have been narrowed to that. Benjamin points out that this was a time and a city of radical protest and huge groundswell and this is not captured in the movie, for it to hold the title Detroit then it should capture this vibrant element.


Chris points out that Kathryn Bigalow is the only female to have won an Oscar for directing. Look, just in case you missed it, Chris fucking lovedDetroit.


Time for Not on My Watch, a little segment where Chris Taylor tells us about a shithouse show. This week’s show… Instant Hotel. I’ve seen an ad, which was enough to get a no from me. Some clips are shown, Chris calls it an Airbnb version of MKR. Lots of white people and crying over cars…. Sounds good? No. But it got greenlit by someone. What is going on at Channel 7? Not on Chris Taylor’s watch.


And now the moment I have been waiting for since the intro, SLOW TV!!!! I don’t really know how to explain this to you except to say you get to watch train tracks or a fire burning and it is very soothing. Chris is showing a clip of a train’s eye view of going along train tracks. It is the best. I could sit here for another 7 hours. But apparently it is not for everybody. Judith Lucy says that the ABC is not paying her enough money to watch this shit. She says that she is too close to death to waste her time. Zan defends Slow TV, says that it is a meditative experience. It so is.


Sami doesn’t watch train track Slow TV, he has something even better. Icebreaker Slow TV. A little something you can find for yourself on YouTube. Just ten hours of watching an Icebreaker stuck in ice somewhere in the Arctic. Not my thing, I prefer to have the vehicle’s view, not a view of the vehicle, but I suggest you give it a look. 


Chris says that SBS is producing Slow TV of the Ghan railway trip. I think I just did an excited wee!


And now it is time for some recommendations.


Judith: Quarry


Sami: Binging With Babish


Zan: Joan DidionThe Centre Will Not Hold


Ben: Bad Genius (Squeeeeeeee, I have seen this movie it is fantastic!)


And that’s a wrap. I have no idea what they’re discussing next week. Oooo the mystery. Go off and watch more TV, or YouTube, or a movie. Whatever floats your goat.



Catch up on past episodes on iView

Find Chris here

Find Sami here

Find Judith here

Find Benjamin here

Find Zan here

Find past recaps here

Get tickets to the studio record here

Buy my book here

Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 3: #ABCScreenTime


Episode three is here. Get ready for discussions on Thor: Ragnarok and the revival of Curb Your Enthusiasm. But first Chris Taylor has to introduce his panel. Sophie Black and Sami Shah are back. They’re possibly never allowed to leave, they’ve been in all three episodes. Judith Lucy is making her second appearance. And Marc Fennell is making his first appearance. He giggles when Chris introduces him, we all fall in love instantly.

Chris says that before they get to Thor and Curb they have a more pressing issue to discuss. The Bachelorette final. He quips that millionaire winner of Sophie Monk’s heart, Stu, is the first person with money to be near Ten in months. It’s funny because it’s true. We get to see Jarrod looking sad because he was rejected and Stu making a bogan declaration of love. STRAYA!

Now onto the real stuff, not that I’m suggesting The Bachelorette isn’t 100% real. Chris introduces Thor: Ragnarok with a joke about red haired people, Ragnarok / Rangarok. NO! He says it’s the most enjoyable superhero film he has seen in years. I mean, it’s good and all… but has he seen Wonder Woman? I know DC and Marvel are different universes but he said superhero movie not MARVEL superhero movie so it’s fair game.

Marc agrees that it’s a good flick. Says some of the past Marvel films have been a bit samsies but this was fresher. He credits Taika Waititi with this direction.

Lucy did not like it. I repeat, did not like.

Sophie felt that it was pretty, pretty good, but that Waititi was lumped with the lamest superhero. Oh come on, there are way worse superheroes than Thor. Have you heard of Wonder Man? A faint green glow can be seen as Sami starts to Hulk up next to her. He tells her that he respects her right to have a wrong opinion, after all people didn’t appreciate Citizen Kane when it first came out. He says that Thor: Ragnarok is the Casablanca of our era. Again, has nobody here seen Wonder Woman?

Lucy, yet again interjects that she did not like it. Sophie says that Korg, the character Waititi played, needs his own film. Lucy agrees that he was the best part of the film. Everyone agrees that they loved him and he was the best.

Lucy then drops a bombshell. She suggests that comics are not for women. *Throws my comic book collection at the TV* Kidding, I’d never do that, it’d take too long and I might damage my precious.
Sami says that most of the people at the screening he was at were women and that comics are becoming less gendered. Lucy asks what the appeal of comics is for Sami, was he just a nerdy kid? My relationship with Lucy is moving from total hero worship to it’s complicated. Sami says, pretty much. He was a kid who was sick of getting pantsed and if he was the Hulk they wouldn’t be able to do it. He just wanted to be someone who kept their pants on, damn it! I know Hulk’s get torn and stuff but the idea is still beautiful.

Marc says that Marvel is unambitious about social commentary. Oh. My. God. Somebody drop Maria Lewis in here to sort this out.


There is so much about acceptance and struggle in Marvel comics. Marvel gave us the first black character who didn’t have black in their title, Storm. That’s pretty huge. Okay, he has mentioned that X-Men 2 actually did have depth, just feels some of the others are lacking buy mentions there is light and shade in the universe. I retract the SHUT YOUR MOUTH dispatch. Soz.

Meme of Maria Lewis courtesy of Alan Baxter

Chris asks why does Marvel have so many films coming out right now and why are they focused on overlaps instead of stand-alone hero movies? Sophie suggests that they have so many out because they do well because they are a global brand. Lots of Hollywood’s audience is now from outside of America and so they need stuff that isn’t quite so self-focused.

Everybody knows who Batman and Superman is. Sami also points out that it’s that way in the comics, duh. I yell at the TV screen, EVERYBODY LOVES CROSSOVERS YOU FOOLS!

At the end of the day, Thor: Ragnarok has Karl Urban in it, so I suggest everybody watches it.

Now it’s time for Take 5. They’ve moved it to the middle of the show and I like that. It fits better here. They’re doing 5 most regrettable Marvel superhero moments.
5. The Incredible Hulk 1988

4. Dr. Strange 1978

3. Spiderman 1978

2. The Fantastic Four 1994

1. Captain America 1979

Let’s be honest, those are not the most regrettable moments. They’re some funny older TV shows, there are far worse Marvel superhero moments on the screen. They are, however, hilarious.

Now it’s time for Curb Your Enthusiasm. Lucy says she used to love it, she bought the DVDs, but now she couldn’t care if Larry David lived or died. I get the impression that her enthusiasm has been curbed. Sophie says that it still has its moments but is a little dated and falls flat at times. Okay, maybe don’t curb your enthusiasm quite so much. Somebody show some enthusiasm.

Sami is bringing the enthusiasm. He is yet to be curbed. He says it is as funny and offensive as ever. Phew, I thought this was going to be a brutal slaughter.

Chris suggests that Larry David is rude but he is always right. People shouldn’t have too many samples, people shouldn’t have to say ‘sorry for your loss,’ after two years. Marc disagrees. Although sample abuse is deeply upsetting to his very soul, he does not always side with Larry.

Chris says that Curb Your Enthusiasm’s style was unique with its quirky music and shaky camera work. In fact the music has inspired a whole heap of YouTube clips where people put the music over the end of scenes. They put it over the end of a Star Wars clip. The bit where Darth reveals he is Luke’s father. It’s pretty, pretty good. But I really love this clip of Donald Trump’s voice being used for Darth Vader. I cry with laughter every time I watch it so I’m just going to use this as an excuse to leave it here, you’re welcome.

I’m not sure if my passion for Curb Your Enthusiasm has been reignited but my love of YouTube certainly has.

Now for the panelist recommendations of what we should be watching this week:
Marc recommends – The Good Place

Sophie recommends – Chewing Gum

Sami Recommends – Active Shooter

Judith recommends – Edge of the Bush

And what the deuce. Chris is recommending something. He never recommends anything. What is happening? He recommends Spartacus. They’re showing the clip of everyone standing up and saying ‘I’m Spartacus.’ So moving… Ohhhhhhh, they’re playing the Curb Your Enthusiasm music over it. Amusing. I’m amused.

And so that’s the end… Did they say what we’re watching next week? I must have missed it, too busy talking to my wine about my extensive knowledge of comic books and what I would have put in as the worst moments of superhero TV. I guess I’ll just make it up what was chosen. Damn me and my lack of paying attentioness! Errr… For the movie, Suburbicon. They went blockbuster this week, artsy the week before, why not a weird one next week? I think it might be too early for Murder on the Orient Express. Think the release date is the week after. But I could be mixed up. I’ll probably be watching My Little Pony because I promised my daughter, pray for me. As for the TV show, Ghosted. I have no reason why I have predicted it. None. Maybe because it’s Halloween today? Who knows? If they’re in reboot fever why not Will & Grace. I, love, that, show!

And they’re playing us out with a clip from The Bachelorette, it’s Jarrod’s rejection. Curb Your Enthusiasm music is being played over it and it is the best version yet. This is BRILLIANT! Champagne comedy. What a brilliant end.

For last week’s recap look here

Catch up on past episodes on iView here

Read why I think Stan Lee deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature here

Find out what Kerri Sackville says is the most realistic part of The Bachelorette here

Tweet with Sami Shah here

Tweet with Sophie Black here

Tweet with Marc Fennell here

Tweet with me here

Get tickets to the live recording here (they give you lollies, I repeat, they give you lollies)

Panic about NaNoWriMo everywhere.

Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 2: #ABCScreenTime

Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 2: #ABCScreenTime

Panelists Sophie Black and Sami Shah

It’s time for episode two of Screen Time. The crowd is applauding, montages are flying, gorgeous 70s images and half-naked people can be seen. This isn’t just a convivial discussion of movies, it’s gritty and real. Nothing says that like nudity. Deal with it! 

Chris Taylor appears and is speaking but I cannot hear a word he says for there is an angel at his side. It is the one, the only, Judith Lucy. The crowd goes wild, and by the crowd, I mean myself and my amaretto sour. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am right now. Chris introduces the other panelists, Sami Shah is back, as is Sophie Black, along with first timers, JUDITH LUCY, and Michael Williams. I know that I have a nickname for him from my Book Club ABC recaps but for the life of me cannot remember what it is, so for now, it’ll just be Michael.

Small House Keeping Matter: I’m dyslexic. If you hate reading anything written by dyslexic writers you should probably just leave now. (The changing font sizes have nothing to do with my dyslexia and everything to do with my ineptitude. On my draft everything is uniform, I hit publish, CHAOS. Just treat it as a metaphor for existence.)

Chris tells us that we are getting straight to business. He’s pulling no punches and is going to the most pressing Hollywood news at the moment, Weinstei…. Oh, wait. My mistake. Got to eager. Chris plays a clip saying that Sex and the City 3 has been benched FOREVER.

Nobody seems too cut up about it.
Now they really are talking Weinstein. Harvey or Bob, take your pick. Chris asks the panelists if Hollywood should have seen this scandal coming. Judith gives a great big nope. Nope, they shouldn’t have seen it coming because they had been doing it for so long and nobody cared. Sophie agrees that the surprising and refreshing thing is that people finally care. Sophie says that it was an open secret. Wait, was that just a sneaky reference to the documentary that attempted to expose the rampant pedophilia in Hollywood? I think it was. Good work.

Chris points out the Meryl Streep was one of the first celebrities to condemn it but said many didn’t know of what was going on. On the other hand Anthony LaPaglia says, pigs arse. Okay, he didn’t literally say that, but he is Australian so I’d like to think that those were the words he thought. He says people have known about it for decades and done nothing. Michael says that the very least people can do is refuse to work with people that are, ‘criminal, depraved and monstrous.’ It’s a pretty low bar and everyone needs to step up to it.

Sami points out that he has worked in advertising, which means he understands all things depravity related, and that those behaviours are common there. But they are also common in the Australian media (I am waiting with baited breath to read Tracey Spicer’s article where she will name well known abusers), in accounting, and down at the corner shop. He says that society needs to step up, society is complicit, not just individuals.

Judith says that everyone needs to stand up. Quintin Tarantino has now spoken about it, but where was he before. Why wasn’t he demanding it stopped earlier? (Just quietly same with Kevin Smith? But maybe because men who didn’t come from fancy backgrounds were merely clinging on also. Maybe the dyslexic director who had trouble getting films made to begin with  felt like he couldn’t rock the boat, nor the dude who maxed out his credit cards to make his first movie….)

Sophie calls bullshit on all those men coming out saying that because they have a daughter they now understand. She says they shouldn’t care because they have a woman that belongs to them, but because women are people and deserving of respect. The fact that they only think of women’s rights in terms of if one has been formed from their sperm or not is a big part of the effing problem!!!!

Anyway, let’s get to discussing movies before I pass out in rage.
They’re discussing Good Time. Chris says that it is a heist film with Robert Pattinson playing the lead character who robs a bank along with his brother who has a generalised neurodevelopment disorder. Everything seems to be going too easily, they get the money without too much issue, but when they open up the bags to check for money…… BOOM, burning red paint everywhere. Kids at home, crime does not pay. Pattinson is then forced to get increasingly bad hair styles in order to free his brother.

Sami says that this movie is designed for arty types who wear clothes from the 1800s, have waxed moustaches, and laugh too loudly at bad jokes just to prove that they got them. He felt it could have benefited from adding some robots or spaceships. What film couldn’t be improved with just a smackle of sci fi? Sami, we have so much to discuss.

Michael disagrees. He says he liked Good Times and it had good stuff in it. Take that Sami, it had good stuff in it. A lot of good stuff. He speaks of cinematography and lighting. Excuse me whilst I pause the TV to see if there are any traces of a waxed moustache having been glued to Michael’s face recently…. Hmmmm, I can’t decide.

Judith says it was a nightmare. Sophie adds that the soundtrack was nightmare inducing.
Chris asks if this film will finally give Pattinson cred and drop him from the team idol list. Chris really liked Pattinson’s performance in this. Said he has never been so good. The other panelists answer, maybe. Judith says Orlando Bloom never lost his teen idol status, but it was because he didn’t make brave movie choices. I’m sure that swimming in an ocean of money earned from Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean has helped him come to terms with his choices. I quite enjoyed him in Ned Kelly.
So it looks like Good Times has been rated two nightmares, a good stuff, and a pickled moustache.

And now it is time for the middle of the show segment. Please be Sophie Monk again, pleasebesophiemonkpleasebesophiemonk. It is Not On My Watch.  Essentially Chris will tell us about a show he doesn’t like. Tonight’s pick is Cosmetic Coffee and it is on 7. Oh my goodness, it is hideous. Basically a cosmetic surgeon meets with patients in cafes, then goes back to his office making me wonder why he didn’t just start there, and then draws on them and lets them know what he finds gross about them, then he operates on them. So it is essentially advertising for his business. Chris finishes off the segment by saying advertorial dressed up as a medical show, not on my watch.
Whose watch did that happen on? Seriously! Who greenlit that?  I’ve got a show about a minotaur, a plucky journalist and hot cop uncovering the supernatural sex slave industry just waiting to be made. Call me. CALL MEEEEE! If you can make that shit, why not mine? Not that mine is shit. Mine is awesome and the best….

TV time!  Chris is introducing The Deuce currently playing on Foxtel. It is David Simon’s latest masterpiece. The montage is playing and it is high quality with a star studded cast. People such as James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal are in it. Chris says that Franco plays twins. And I’m laughing. I cannot stop laughing. Does anyone remember that Jean Claude Van Damme movie Double Impact?

It was so hilariously badgood. That’s all that I can think of right now. Hollywood, you know that you do actually have actors that are identical twins? You can stop doing the bad copying and disjointed back and forth. Just hire some of them. But enough about me, let’s see what the panel think.

Michael says he loves it. The cast is massive so rewards patience as it is revealed at a slow pace. Judith also loves David Simon and loved the show except for one tiny thing, James Franco. She also didn’t like James Franco as his twin, or as Judith puts it, the same person just wearing a hat. With or without a hat, she’s not interested.

Chris points out that Franco fans will get double their joy and then shows a clip. I’m guessing it is the worst example of his twin acting because I am rolling. Rolling. And yes, I am going to go there, as a mother of identical twin boys (I never thought I’d get to work an as a mother into a recap) this is hilarious. It’s the same guy. It’s the same guy with a different wig. It is not twins. Twins are not the same person. Identical twins are not the same person. If the great Jean Claude Van Damme, renowned across the land for his versatile acting skills could not pull this off…. Actually, now that I think about it I felt that Sam Underwood did a brilliant job plating identical twins in The Following. Such a hypocrite. I also loved the film Big Business which had two sets of twins. Bette Middler and Lily Tomlin were spectacular and I watched it seven billion times.

Michael of course loves it, because he has loved everything. What happened to Michael? He was the snarky one on The Book Club ABC, now he’s the lover? Showing his versatility, his softer side? I should appreciate it.

Don’t wink at me, Franco.

Sophie says she loves the show and she loves Simon because he is an angry patriot. He can give such loving yet searing critique of his country and society. Which is the perfect segue into talking about David Simon’s other work. Gotta hand it to Sophie, she’s profesh.
All the panelists agree that The Wire was fantastic. Sami ads that it is a take on Greek myths, where Gods play cruelly with the life of mortals. In The Wire corporations and powerful people are the Gods.

Chris asks why Simon’s other show, Treme, not take off. Sami says it is for two reasons. Firstly, too soon. It could never live up to the hype of The Wire because nothing could. Secondly, the focus was narrow. It was about jazz, and food, and what people perceived as things not pertinent to them, but he personally loved it.
The verdict is in, The Deuce is an absolute cracker and I want to watch it.

Time for Screen Time’s  Top Five. What will they be looking at this week? TWINS. Top five awfully portrayed identical twin kind of things.

Is nothing sacred?

Speaking of teen idols

This was bad

The king is dead

Knight Rider doing his thing

The list was good, but where the fuck was Double Impact???

And last but not least, the panelists get to recommend something for us to watch.
Michael: Sunshine

Sami: Patton Oswalt’s Annihilation

Sophie: Get Krack!n

Judith: I Love Dick

Robin: Screen Time (Okay, I’m not a panelist, but watch the show.)

And because we’ve all been so good, they’re going to show us a clip of David Hasselhoff fighting David Hasselhoff to end on. Because even David Hasselhoff wants to punch David Hasselhoff in the face.

Catch up on previous episodes on iView

Find Screen Time here

See last week’s recap here

Check out Chris here

Feast on Michael William’s glorious Ropinpedia entry here

Tweet with Sophie here

Buy Sami’s books here

Get tickets to Judith Lucy’s show here. Sydney based people can feel free to buy me a ticket too while you’re at it, I am delightful company.

Learn more about me here

Grab Tracey Spicer’s book here

Read Lauren Ingram’s piece on the issue with Weinstein and facing your abuser here

Read what Australian director Sophie Mathisen has to say about Weinstein and the Australian industry here

Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 1: #ABCScreenTime

Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 1: #ABCScreenTime

Today is the day, the very first episode of Screen Time. Chris Taylor, the host is looking excited. Excited and nervous. Excited, nervous, and desperate. You better like this show or ABC will axe even more stuff. No pressure. 

He tells us that we’re here to discuss movies, and television AND Youtube AND streaming and some other stuff. This isn’t just the reboot of At the Movies with the divine Margaret Pomeranz and scrumptious David Stratton, it’s At the Movies on steroids. More panelists, more mediums, more sexual chemistry. More more. But Chris is not just bringing intense personal magnetism, NO, he’s also bringing the smarts. So much so that he’s proving it by  flashing up a whole heap of numbers on the screen. Nothing says smart and sexy like data. If those graphics don’t justify why he gets to have this show nothing will.

Small housekeeping matter: I’m dyslexic, if you hate dyslexia and feel people with dyslexia should be mocked, go away.

Chris is introducing his panel of experts. There’s Sami Shah, Sophie Black, Zan Rowe, and Benjamin Law. Those of you who follow my recaps of The Book Club ABC will know I refer to him as BLaw. BLaw of the bare ankles…. What the deuce! He’s wearing red socks. I’m so confused. I updated his Wikipedia page to include his signature bare ankles and now he’s wearing socks. I’m scared. Hold me. No, not like that. Maybe he’s trying to draw the #sockwatch crowd over from The Book Club ABC? Now that they’ve been mercilessly axed.

But enough mourning, let’s engage with this new show. Chris tells us that they’ll be discussing Blade Runner 2049, which is a nice touch, a movie that’s new but already released so that we, the audience, have a chance to have an opinion too. It’s not a soon to be released with critics talking at us like so many other movie shows. Chris assures us that Ryan Gosling gives his most emotionally dead performance yet and that it was really long. Sounds fantastic. Let’s throw to Sami for his opinion…

… and he loved it. Sami says that he loved this movie despite this movie. He says that Jarrod Leto overacts more than ever, every women is crying and it fails the Bechdel Test, BUT it was cinematographically beautiful. He’s not sure why they seemed to insert a different movie into the middle of it and why so many bad acting choices were made but he loved it and everyone can shut up because it was pretty. Really, really pretty.

Sophie says that it was masterful and that it will stay with you for life. For life! And not just because of the kidney damage you’ll get from holding your bladder because it was sooooo long.

Zan is a bit more meh. It was pretty but hadn’t advanced enough. And all the mysteries were solved insultingly quickly. I hate it when story tellers insult their audience!

BLaw found it really current with the ecology issues and the cinematography stunning and said it made him feel like he’d smoked a giant bong…. overseas in a country where that is legal I’m sure. Put down your arrest warrants. He does mention that it is a bit whitewashed… or completely whitewashed.

Sami says that as a younger nerd he would have enjoyed Blade Runner 411 even more but now he knows that women are people too so that kind of spoiled it a bit. He credits the doco Born Sexy Yesterday, the Bechdel Test, and learning about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope with helping him develop in this area.

Chris says Harrison Ford was a better actor than Ryan Gosling. BLaw adds that Ryan Gosling is not hot. Finally, the important issues are being discussed.

The panel ponder that Blade Runner 2.0 hasn’t been the best in the earnings. Sami blames Trump and that people are stupid. Sophie says they need to appreciate the slowburn. Like a chilli sub?

And with that quiet pondering, the discussion on Blade Runner 90210 is over. Time for something new.

OMG it is glorious. I don’t quite know what is happening or why, and frankly I don’t care. All I know is that the greatest thing that you see this year is on television right now. It’s Sophie Monk inserted into the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. They have superimposed Sophie Monks’ head over Elizabeth Bennett’s and are using her responses from The Bachelorette instead. Get on iView right now because my description cannot do this justice. It is spectacular. Please do this every week. Can they introduce a Logie for best segment? I need to go have a lie down. But I can’t because the show hasn’t ended yet.

Broad City. Yes, they’re now discussing that quiet little runaway. They’re showing clips and there is nudity and drug use. Oh my. Zan loves it and wants to be BFFs with the main characters.
BLaw says that it is filthy and tawdry. If you know BLaw then you know that means that he loves it. He also randomly reveals that he works in his undies. Hopefully there will be a follow-up episode on this very important matter.
Sophie loves that it is depicting women delighting in each other. Sammy loves that this show is finally giving women what they really want, a female Beavis and Butthead. It’s like Sami looked into my very soul and said, ‘I see you.’
Sophie also likes that it is very much Abbi and Ilana’s New York and not Woody Allen’s or Seinfeld’s New York. Chris ponders on how New York is killing it at diversity and feminism copared to LA. Totes, not like Allen or Seinfeld would be guilty of anything like Weinstein….
They’re showing another clip from the show, it involves pegging and now the panelists are saying pegging. Just start throwing Logies at this show now. The ABC are now across pegging.

They now have to compare the show Girls to Broad City because they’ve both got ladeez and therefore must be compared. Panelists have the revelation that not all things about the womenz are the same. That the shows and characters can be different. Unlike real life where we only fit into one of five personality types: Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, or dull extra. I’m the dull extra. OMG, that’s such a Miranda thing to say.
Now they’re rating the five weirdest sex scenes. You can imagine the conversations amongst producers to get this segment in.
Exec 1: Viewers love those top five things, maybe we should do a top five relevant to the episode.

Soon to be fired exec: Yes! Finally! Let’s do top five female lead ensembles. Sex in the City, Golden Girls, Xena, Girls, Broad City, Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black, Pulling, Insecure, Daria. I’ve got so much to share with you guys. Picking just five is going to be hard. Or maybe top five sci fi shows…

Exec the third: You know what else people love?

Soon to be fired exec: Feminism?

Exec the third: Sex! Let’s do top five sex scenes.

Exec 1: Best idea ever.

So the top 5 were:

5. Howard the Duck

4. Avatar

3. The Room

2. Return of Swamp Thing

1. Showgirls in the pool. Oh yay, a movie full of abuse and rape is sexually comical.

Next the panelists get to recommend something to watch.

Sami: The Expanse

BLaw: Ali’s Wedding

Zar: Terrace House

Sophie: Tiny Kitchen

And that’s it. See you next week for more awesome talking about movies and stuff…. But not before a quick confession. I was in the audience so this is more of a director’s cut recap, has some things in it that hit the editing room floor. But the Sophie Monk / Pride and Prejudice mashable is definitely in there. Get on iView and watch it now. It will make your week!

Catch up on episodes on iView

Find Screen Time here

Find Chris here

Find BLaw here

Find Sophie here

Find Sami here

Find Zan here

Learn about the Bechdel Test here

Read about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope here

Watch Born Sexy Yesterday here

Find out about me here

ABC Book Club Season 11, Episode 4: #bookclubABC 


Image shamelessly stolen from @thebookclubABC

​It’s here, it’s really here. Atwood day. I saw this live so there will be secret extras that hit the editing room floor. Ooooo exclusive. The Book Clubbers are discussing The Handmaid’s Tale. Yes I am wetting myself with excitement. Even the great Atwood herself knows that I am wetting myself with excitement. Heck, she retweeted me talking about my leaky bladder of excitement. 

So let’s just say I’m stoked. I can tell even JByrne is excited about this. She’s supercharged herself with horse power, wearing a horse print blazer. Giddy up. Of course there is guest CS Pacat who is always dressed as if ready to go for a quick trot and Zoe Norton Lodge, who is a unicorn. The most magical of horse creatures. Unless there are any centaurs or pegasus reading this, then you guys are, fuck the unicorns. And Ace is clearly a stallion. Neeeiiiggghhh. This horsey team, accessorised with Marieke the kitten, are all geared up and ready to canter into action. We could be forgiven for assuming that the modern text being discussed tonight is about horses. It is not. It is Lincoln in the Bardo, which is a heady mix of….

THERE’S A TISSUE ON THE GROUND. A TISSUE!!!!! Stop looking at it. No, I can’t look away. Must look away and concentrate BUT THERE’S AN EFFING TISSUE ON THE GROUND. Is it multiplying and then unmultiplying? Continuity!

Forget the tissue. They’re discussing how Lincoln in the Bardo is George Saunders’ first full length novel and that he is considered to be the master of the short story form. Apparently people are super psyched that he’s put together a novel. Important people are excited.
But first JByrne has to tell us what is going on in the literary landscape at the moment. She says that the latest Harry Hole thriller is out, I can’t get down exactly what she’s saying, but trust me the words aren’t important. What is important is that she sounds like Jimmy Fallon’s imitation of Barry Gibb and it is GLORIOUS. 

It has been fifty years since Picnic at Hanging Rock was published. We must obviously all go on a picnic together. Marieke mentions a haunting tale of a young Marieke, roaming the areas where the iconic Picnic at Hanging Rock was filmed, she got her knee stuck in the rock there. That’s it, shut that place down. It tried to eat Marieke. It’s haunted. Case closed. Foxtel is apparently putting out a new version of it. I hope it is not as cursed.

Time for the dramatic recreation of Lincoln in the Bardo. Is that a banjo I hear? An off key banjo? Oh, it’s just an off key guitar. My least favourite kind of guitar. Rhythm, lead, base, whatever, just let it be in key. It outlines that the inspiration for the novel was that when William Lincoln died his father, honest Abe, used to visit his grave and hold his dead body. This historical event combined with the Tibetan concept of the bardo, a place where spirits linger, became this novel.

JBryne warns the viewers that Lincoln in the Bardo is complicated. What? 166 voices is complicated all of a sudden. Who doesn’t like a casual stroll through 166 points of view? Who???? One of my friends described it as book that would be best received by wankers who didn’t get it but wanted to pretend they were smart and did. Let’s see if the panellists are kinder than my friend.

Ace says he loved it. It has a cast of thousands and you are in limbo, what’s not to love. It is explained that there were three main voices:

1) Horny old man that you’re introduced to on the first page

2) A guy who committed suicide and regretted it (they always regret it in literature)

3) A priest who scared himself to death

They’re a lively bunch despite being dead. JByrne says that this book had her streaming with tears. The idea of a grieving father sneaking off to his child’s grave to cradle his little body is heart wrenching. Marieke liked this voxpop style account of people who knew William Lincoln in life and in the afterlife.

JByrne admits that she was confused at around page 25, that she had to go and have a little moment, and then she came back to it, and loved it. Ace says that trusting the author is crucial to enjoying this novel. He says if you have faith that the mist will clear and the truth will be revealed. Amen.

CS says that she did not relax during this novel. She had to keep ducking onto Google to fact check it and see who was real and who was fictional. I leap up and kiss the television and whisper, ‘Me too.’ 

She said that it clashed with her personality type and that she couldn’t relax. She also points out that people trying to mythologise American history isn’t her favourite thing in the world. That there’s enough “America is the greatest nation on the planet” stuff out there without it having to be made into the stuff of legends.

Marieke points out that it was pretty bold to choose a real person and a real death rather than explore grief in an entirely fictional setting. CS says she read an interview with Saunders about Lincoln and grief that she found fascinating. She’d highly recommend that anyone read it. She did not so much love him stretching out this exploration into a full length novel.

JBryne goes to say something about how she liked the extension but Marieke has had enough of this conversation being devoid of ghost penis and says it is time to talk about it. She says there was too much ghost penis, too often, and she would have liked the book even more with less ghost penis. She said that the novel was a bit busy in some places so she couldn’t quite picture it all but the ghost penis was right there and very noted.
Zoe liked the business. Says she liked it better than the actual plot. The hunter surrounded by all the animals he’d killed was her favourite.

The panellists touch on some of the problematic areas, like Lincoln signing the declaration of independence because he got possessed by a slave but overall they loved it.

They play a segment from the audio book. We’re all meant to be blown away. I can tell by the very moved look the panellists are affecting. Every famous American actor alive is in it. Everyone wants a piece of Saunders. His publishing house is clearly throwing everything at this. If it wasn’t a success with this kind of push we’d all be stunned. Marieke points out with all this backing it is the literary equivalent of Ellen’s selfie at the Oscars. Apt.

Time for a bit of By the Bed.

CS is reading Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. (I love her brain so shall be reading it)

Ace is reading The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams new and old collected short stories.

JByrne is reading Golden Hill. (Currently reading it, will review shortly, it’ll either pop up on this blog or with the boss ladeez over on Newtown Review of Books)

Marieke is reading Insomniac City by Bill Hayes. He’ll be at The Sydney Writers’ Festival, and why yes I am a volunteer. How can I help?

Zoe is reading Butcher’s Crossing.

Now it’s the moment that we’ve all been waiting for; HANDMAID TIME!!!!!!! Its central character is a breeding slave in the future who once had a loving home and family. It is essentially the story of exactly where we’re headed with misogynists such as Donald “grab them by the pussy” Trump reigning supreme. Atwood kept saying this wasn’t sci-fi, it’s sci-fact people! I am popping aside my lightly sparkling moscatto and picking up a cup of men’s tears for the rest of this episode.

CS says that she has read this book at three different stages of her life. First as a teen. It was a revelation and the discussion around totalitarianism in the book was amazlips. She then read it in her twenties (wait, is she out of her twenties?) and thought it was 80’s white woman feminism and it was time to come further in the world. She read it again for this and was like OMFG this is amazlips, this is the shit right now. 

Ace said he found it frighteningly relevant. He says that it was measured, fierce and not at all hysterical, and that it made him feel uncomfortable as a man. Good. Might explain why he dropped the h word. Marieke suggests that, as a man, Mike Pence gets naked and rubs himself on this book at night. She agrees that it was a cool, calm, clinical fury. The anger was so contained and focused and Marieke loved it.

The magical unicorn Zoe gallops in. Isn’t she sweet and lovely? She says that she found the stakes too low in the book. WTF! Women are kept as baby making slaves and routinely raped and the stakes aren’t high enough. Unicorn life must be pretty rough. She says it was all a bit samsies and kept moving at the same trajectory and she’d like to see more danger…. Because they weren’t already at maximum danger? Cold, Zoe, cold. She says she liked 1984 better. My mind is being blown by this and not in a good way.

CS says that the unfolding horror kept her turning the pages. Zoe is a bit meh. She enjoyed that men could be literally torn apart, but she wanted a bit more of that. 

What the fuck happens in the unicorn world? Clearly savage. Ace and JByrne say they both found it terrifying. JByrne also points out that 1984 is a bit irrelevant now, it’s completed its cycle and purpose, whereas this is still so current. The other panellists argue that 1984 is still relevant. JByrne talks about communism and how 1984 was a fearful response to that. Met with more arguments. I want her so desperately to say, it’s called nineteen eighty fuck four. It’s literally past that date. She doesn’t. She’s a better person that I. She does however give the other panellists a big case of WHATEVER and says The Handmaid’s Tale is better than 1984. Agreed! I hi5 my television screen, and pin a vag badge on to JByrne’s image.
Zoe, somehow sensing that JByrne has been awarded a vag badge, and CS has been given a screen pash tries to lift her game. She acknowledges that having to lie down across your mistress’s lap whilst her husband rapes you in order to impregnate you is bad. She says it’s not a good sex sandwich to be in. It’s one of the worst tasting sandwiches ever. Nobody wants to be part of that sandwich. If that’s the only sandwich on offer, she wants no part of it. Subway withdraws any offers of sponsorship to both Zoe and Atwood. 

JByrne starts reading a quote from the book spoken by a misogynistic wanker. Steam is coming out of her ears. She’s mad. She’s sick of smug men looking down on women and making condescending remarks, and they’re still doing it in the bloody future. Holy bajeebers! She’s throwing the book. She’s thrown the book! This is not a drill. There has been a book throwing. She’s so angry that she has thrown that book. Smash the patriarchy. Throw some shit. You go! You rage against the machine. The future is female. This is so fucking brilliant I am crying tears of feminist joy. Damn the man.

And that’s a wrap people! Not the sandwich kind of wrap, the finishing up kind. No more sandwich talk. We don’t want any more gross sex sandwiches. I’m excited. You’re excited. Let’s all just sit here in sheer ecstasy for a moment. And I’ll see you all next week. Cannot wait for next week.

Read last week’s recap here.

Catch up on episodes on iView here.

Find the drinking game here.

Buy my shit here.

Find The Handmaid’s Tale television series on SBS on Demand from July.

As an aside, I think I also need to mention that there has been another attack on the arts this week. Fairfax is laying off a quarter of their staff. A quarter. They want to remove all specialised literature and arts staff. Apparently they think that there is just no specialised skill needed there and just any opinion piece writer can do a high quality job. NOPE! Snide, nasty, general reviews are on their way out. People got a laugh for a while but those reviews were far more about the reviewer than they were about any book. Now people have had their laugh and they actually want to get back to getting decent and thoughtful information rather than just personal opinion. You’re well behind the ball Fairfax. Pay your workers and get the quality content up. That’s what people will pay to read, not the click bait same shit as everywhere else. WHY WOULD WE PAY FOR SOMETHING WE CAN GET FOR FREE EVERYWHERE ELSE??? MAKE QUALITY AND INTEGRITY BE YOUR POINT OF DIFFERENCE! 

And while I’m at it, don’t think we haven’t noticed that the ABC has  cut The Book Club ABC back to eight episodes. Don’t think we haven’t also noticed that the ABC previously cut a whole heap of their science department. This is how people like Trump win. This is how The Handmaid’s Tale gets actualised. Dumb down our media, get rid of people wanting to critique and replace them with people just wanting to prove that they’re terribly clever and get famous. We need to demand integrity. More shows on the arts, more shows on science. More critique. More integrity. More fact checking. More Jason Steger. Less cheap attempts at appearing relevant. Actually be relevant. Deep breath. Rant over.

The Book Club ABC, Season 10, 5 Top 5s: #bookclubABC


Well it’s happened. The Book Club ABC’s 10th season has come to an end. It was glorious! I for one have never felt so exhilarated by a season. So let’s reminisce about some of the best things we experienced this season with my 5 of 5, before I can bring myself to write the final recap of the season. I need time to grieve.

The Five Best Episodes:

1. Episode 7 Gaudy Biatches. The biatches were flying thick and fast and Toni Jordan and Virginia Gay became bffs. Michael Williams had the flu so was extra bitter. Heaven.

2. Episode 1 Wuthering Loins. Teenage JByrne came out to play as she lusted after Heathcliff but Marieke was having none of her shit.

3. Episode 11 An Extra 13 Stories of Hatred. Gorgi Coghlan possibly needed therapy after being forced through the classic text.

4. Episode 12 The Sexy Plague. Ace and JByrne reckon plot doesn’t matter, mood matters… a mood so sexy you’d risk the plague to get a packet of frangers.

5. Episode 5 A Titanorak By Any Other Name. Rosie Waterland lost her shit because she loves the Titanic so much.

6… yeah, I broke my own rules. I’m a rebel. Episode 9 The Naked Elephant Returns. Marieke wants to join a whaling ship and BLaw’s ankles are completely naked.

The Five Best Moments:

1. In episode 7 Marieke Hardy called the characters in Gaudy Night a bunch of “disparaging biatches” and Virginia Gay in turn said maybe Marieke was the disparaging biatch. If you play it in slow motion you can see when Toni Jordan’s heart literally breaks as Marieke savages her favourite book.

2. JByrne referenced BLaws ankles in episode 9 and how wild they had driven the viewers. She listens to us!!!

3. In the very first episode of the season JByrne screamed, “but can you imagine having sex with him?” in regards to Wuthering Heights‘ Heathcliff. Marieke threw up in her mouth a little because she hated the book, apart from the vaguely amusing dog attacks. Meanwhile an erotic montage of all the actors who have played Heathcliff over the years, appeared above Virginia’s head to the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s famous track.

4. Toni Jordan’s socks. Oh those heavenly socks. Toni Jordan had listened to what the people wanted, more ankle related coverage, and wore glorious library card socks in episode 11. She truly is the people’s panelist. I have even started a pinterest board dedicated to her ankles.

5. Virginia Gay broke protocol in episode 7 and squealed “me to,” when Toni Jordan did the initial introduction to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. She was then locked under JByrne’s stairs and forced to wear muted footwear for daring to talk out of order, until the final episode. Worth it.

6. Gorgi Coghlan said that Wake in Fright gave her an anxiety attack and she cursed JByrne for her ever having to read it. I love that a panelist was so affected by a book that they cursed JByrne’s holy name. You NEED to get her back on. Marieke said a book inducing an anxiety attack was high praise for the writing.

The Five Best Books:

1. The North Water by Ian McGuire. It made Marieke want to join a ship and stab someone.

2. LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It was so good that Virginia Gay literally kissed the book. No tongue or anything. And such a gorgeous premise.

3. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Not only did it challenge concepts of gender and humanity in the novel but it also carried on into the panelists’ real lives. It made them question how they thought about others and their own subconscious bias.

4. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Hilarious tale about an out of place academic lecturing in history who ends up getting drunk and making a speech.  It’s fun, it’s witty, it’s just too good.

5. “Arseholes at Night” by Kent Haruf. That’s what I heard when JByrne said the title. Apparently it’s actually Our Souls at Night. This book made Marieke cry.

6. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire. It made the male panelists go all #notallmen. Which means you know it must be quite challenging to patriarchal thinking and therefore a valuable read. We need to value the experiences of the “other.”

The Five Best Guests:

1. Virginia Gay. Actress extraordinaire and passionate book lover. She wasn’t afraid to say when she loved a book. Her looks of utter horror when fellow panelists didn’t share her passion were priceless.

2. Michael Williams. Director of The Wheeler Centre. His snarky comments and insights into the book industry, and not just the books, were delicious.

3. Toni Jordan. Novelist of goodness. In her first appearance of the season she was so sweet and loving. Marieke then crushed her soul. A new Toni returned, one that had built a whole new level of hatred and laughed at the cruelty inflicted on protagonists. Her character development was sublime. Someone should write a novel about it.

4. C S Pacat. Fantasy author of the people and for the people. Brilliantly articulate.  Able to back up all her insights with reference to classic literature. She was like a modern day, gangster, Shakespeare.

5. Margaret Pomeranz. She’s the queen. End of story.

6. BLaws ankles. Oh myyyyyyyyy.

The Five Best Future Guests:

This is the bit where I get to go into the realm of fantasy and pretend I’m a producer.

1. Walter Mason. Author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. Writing teacher. Inspirational guru of fabulosity. I would go watch this man clean his toenails because he would somehow make it interesting.

2. I’m going to cheat. I’d like to see a father daughter combo. John and Kitty Flanagan. Yeah, I bet some of you were surprised that comedian Kitty wasn’t in my top 5 guests, I’ve cheated by putting her in here so I could get an extra extra one in that category. It was hard. I wanted to choose every guest. John Flanagan is the author of the extraordinarily popular Ranger’s Apprentice series for those wanting to know.

3. Laura Jean McKay. An author who says muses aren’t dead because they never existed. She would no doubt say something controversial and funny.

4. Speaking of funny, Steven Oliver. I can just imagine him responding to Jason’s analysis with, “What’s this then, Slut?” It needs to happen!

5. Kaz Cooke. She knows what The Book Club ABC is all about, pyjamas and wine. She’d sit there in some glorious fluffy slippers, sipping away at a chardonnay and tell it like it is.

6. Robin Elizabeth. In fact, fuck those other fucks. Me, me, me! Nobody knows more about reading on the toilet than me. Plus, you put up a clip of me asking you a question about Sally Morgan’s My Place last year. It was under my “real” name, Robin Riedstra. You said it was a good question, JByrne.

“JENNIFER BYRNE: Actually, just like to drop in here. There’s a video comment which goes to that. Her name is Robin Riedstra and this is what she said.

ROBIN RIEDSTRA: Hi, I’m Robin. When I first read Sally Morgan’s My Place I found it really accessible and it made me want to read more and more texts in that genre. But other people have criticised it as being too accessible and so that once people had read that they felt they knew the Indigenous story and didn’t need to read any more. What are your thoughts on the matter?

JENNIFER BYRNE: I thought that was a really good question, actually. I mean, because you read it and… It’s got these three stories within the story of the mother and the grandmother and the grandmother’s brother, all of whom talk about how they were stolen from the family. And you read that and you feel that you’re across this idea.”

See, I can be insightful, I just know I can do it again. You and me JByrne, all the way. Forget those other clowns. Pick me.

Well, until the Christmas Special, I bid The Book Club ABC adieu. The rest of you can find me lurking around here on my blog. I’ll be doing Robinpedia entries for Australian authors who don’t  have Wikipedia entries yet. A fact I plan to remedy once I learn how to do the appropriate coding to create new pages with the correct layout and referencing. I’ve already experimented by adding a little to Virginia Gay and BLaw’s Wikipedia entries.


See, I know real stuff too. I added the Calamity Jane stuff, not just “ape shit.”


And do keep an eye out for the release of my book Confessions of a Mad Mooer which recaps my time in the psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression. I’ll blog about it closer to the release in December.

Don’t you, forget about me.


And yes. I’ll put out the recap of the season final soon… just let me finish crying first…. here it is.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 10 #bookclubABC


JByrne is gracing our screens and she is in the most glorious jacket that I have ever seen. I want to reach through the screen and rip it off of her body. She’s saying something about this being a special about Books that Transport You, but I can’t hear her over how awesome her jacket is. I can see that Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, and OMG OMG OMG it’s Fantasy author CS Pacat.

A spec fic author has been let out amongst the regular people. Usually spec fic readers and writers are cordoned off away from the other writers and readers but she’s here, she’s right in the middle of it at all. Tears of pride glisten in my eyes and I give a little chest thump in solidarity.

Now, I usually like to guess the novels that guests are going to pick prior to each episode but I have failed every single time so I’m  just going to give up… Stuff it, I’m no quitter. I shall guess!

Noel Pearson will choose The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.
Kitty Flanagan will hopefully choose something by her dad. I’d love to hear her say, “Because he’s my daddy and I love him!”
John Birmingham will choose Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
CS Pacat will choose The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey.


Okay, Noel Pearson is the first guest to reveal his choice, he’s gone big, he has gone with the epic battle of heaven and hell that is Paradise Lost by John Milton. Awesome choice, in my opinion, but I have recently been told I have wanky taste in books. Pffft, if loving Calvino is wanky then I don’t want to be unwanky. Noel says that Paradise Lost and the Bible are probably the two books on God’s bedside table and that he thinks Milton is better than Shakespeare. POW! Them be fightin words in some parts. I sit and wait for someone to rip their shirt off and scream, “It’s go time!” it doesn’t happen. Noel even says, “Homer, you’re good, this is better.” Oh my. I’m biting my fingernail in anticipation. If someone had said that back in my uni days in one of the lit classes then it would have been on like Donkey Kong. It is not on. Why isn’t it on? Marieke or Jason would have argued with someone by now.

John Birmingham says it wasn’t easy and that it felt like homework. But he agrees that it’s better than Shakespeare. Still no explosive argument. My poor heart can’t keep up this level of suspense. There has to be an explosion. John says that although it was hard work to read he felt better for reading it.

Noel says knowing the Bible helps to be able to read it. And that reading with your ears helps because Milton wrote it whilst he was blind. John adds that it came to Milton in a dream and it just flowed from him and that mimicks the dreamy, lyrical flow of Paradise Lost.

CS Pacat speaks. The spec fic world hold their collective breath, one of us has been allowed to speak, will she do us proud. CS calls bullshit. She says the devil is the hero, so God would not have this on his bedside table and that Milton would be nothing without Shakespeare. CS, you little rebel you, I knew I liked you. She basically infers that Milton is the Melania to Shakespeare’s Michelle. She says Milton is just riffing off Hamlet. JByrne is shocked. She didn’t expect CS to be so academic and knowledgeable. Firstly, spec fic writers and fans may have the reputation for being “dumb genre readers” but they’re actually highly educated and literate, particularly in literary and historical studies. So ner! And secondly, am I wrong in thinking that CS is dressed like a private school student? She literally looks like she’s walked off a school assembly and come on the show. If that outfit doesn’t scream book smart, I don’t know what does.


Noel defends Milton and says that he and Shakespeare operate on different planes. Shakespeare and Darwin operate at the human level whereas Milton and Einstein operate at the cosmic level. CS is a bit meh, about the metaphor, whilst the rest of the world is like, HOW FUCKING PROFOUND IS NOEL PEARSON! She says Paradise Lost is a bit of an obedience parable and obedience is probably her least favourite thing. I knew she was a rebel. Spec Fic fans everywhere are shouting at their TVs with pride. Some have no idea why, because they’re not even watching the show, but the psychic bond is so profound that they find themselves shouting anyway.

JByrne said she found it hard to read but loved the audio book…

Noel says he liked how Milton had come up with a new theology surrounding Satan as more of a gatekeeper rather than just a straight up bad guy without being blasphemous. I smash my wine glass and scream, THAT’S NOT ORIGINAL TO MILTON! Heck, the concept predates him by a long shot. CS and her rebellious ways have rubbed off on me. But seriously, it wasn’t new to Milton. That was actually standard until around the 800s. With Satan being the minder of the underworld and punisher of the wicked that God sent to Hell. Then by the 1200s he had developed into this full on tempter for his own sake kind of dude and not part of the continuum. He’s just playing with that. But, whatever.

Kitty Flanagan says she found it hard to read and didn’t like it and it was way over her head. She didn’t think the Bible was much chop either. Noel does not like this. But let’s move on from Milton.

Kitty introduces John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. She is quite timid about it, given that it’s YA and Noel has just been talking about an epic battle between heaven and hell. I say, don’t be timid, genre snobbism is bluuuurrrggghhh. Read what resonates with you, and never apologise. Kitty says that The Fault in Our Stars transported her back to her teen years and made her wish that she was a more worthy teen. This book wasn’t about sex and alcohol it was about love and purity and she loved it.


Kitty then pulls out how John Green made her understand mothers. That she’d never thought about how much you could love a role and have it come to define you and how important it becomes to your very soul. She pulls out a quote that really brought this home for her from when the lead character’s mother is overheard privately talking and crying on her husband’s chest and says “I won’t be a mom anymore.” Kitty has tears in her eyes, and now so do I. JByrne says the mum is selfish and how could she care about herself when her daughter was suffering. It’s because her daughter’s suffering is killing her, and it’s because she loves her daughter more than herself and her life will feel empty without her. Kitty points out once someone is dead, they’re dead, and that those awho are left are the ones suffering and grieving. My god, Kitty is just so profound and beautiful and I love her even more. Now excuse me whilst I go cry in my room for the next year. Yes, I have three children. Yes I have my period. Yes I am feeling emotional.

John said he liked it.

JByrne said the book made her feel old.

CS says the subject matter was too close to hoe for her so althought it was well written she kept it at arms-length.

Noel doesn’t speak about it much, I suspect he didn’t read it. NAUGHTY!

JByrne talks about how many of the books that really affect you are from your childhood, such as Alice in Wonderland, Marry Poppins and Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. I have to admit the first book I thought of when they said – books that transport you – was, The Enchanted Woods.

John Birmingham’s turn. He goes for a literal transportation to Italy with Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb. It’s an Australian Author, so, you know… buy it. (John and CS are both Australian authors, so buy their stuff too please.) It’s got lots of description about fruit, colours, and crime. That’s right people, there’s some mafia action in this.


Kitty says she liked it but there were so many words and descriptions that it was a bit heavy, and a bit too much like doing work. Yuck, work sucks. She said it wasn’t an easy read, have a laugh and quick flick, Bill Bryson type affair. She couldn’t quite pick the narrative thread. And she would have found it a little easier if it had a clearer narrative arc rather than jumping from place to place. John says it was a metaphor for being there.

Noel said he found it really easy to read and had zero trouble. I feel like he and Kitty are secretly twins. Kitty suggests that they must do dinner sometime because they’ll just have so much to talk about… like all the stuff that they don’t have in common.

CS has family from that region so found that Robb’s view of Sicily was different from hers so that distanced her from the book. She wouldn’t comment specifically on its accuracy but was skeptical of certain parts. There is far more to Sicily than the mafia and food.

Now it’s time for the final book and the rebellious CS has gone with SCI FI!!! Hooray. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. CS says that the best sci fi doesn’t just make you look at the world created but makes you look at your own world differently after reading it. And that Ancillary Justice made her rethink how she viewed gender and how she thought about sexes.


Kitty and Noel struggled with the whole, a person who becomes a ship who becomes a person aspect. Noel said he transported himself elsewhere and it wasn’t to sci fi. Might I suggest they watch a little Doctor Who, in particular, The Girl in the Fireplace episode, and Man to Man with Dean Learner, in particular the episodes that feature BOB, in order to get yourself into the mindset where that kind of stuff is normal. Yes Ancillary Justice did revolutionary stuff with gender but the whole using people as parts stuff isn’t that unique, however it is done incredibly well. Incredible book. But not every aspect of it is holey unique and groundbreaking, otherwise it would be way too hard to read if there wasn’t a single grounding element. Just my opinion.

John didn’t like it. But he doesn’t like to admit that because generally the people who don’t like it are whiny entitled man babies and he hates to side with them on anything because they’re such wankers. He talks about how awful these dudes are and how they hijacked awards and devalued sci fi in America with their tantrum over this novel, and how they voted in shit novels for future awards after Ancillary Justice took out all the major awards. And so he really dislikes them, but… he just didn’t like the novel. And that makes him sad, because he wants to like it so that people don’t call him a whiney man baby.

JByrne says she was glad to read it because she felt like it was an important book even if she didn’t understand all of it. And she liked that it challenged her.

John ponders what books they’ll be talking about from now in 400 years.


And that’s a wrap. Were you transported? Toni Jordan, my Michael Williams and Gorgi Coghlan are on next week for a regular episode. I cannot wait. Haven’t seen Gorgi before but everyone knows how much I love Toni and Michael, so it is bound to be smashing! SMASHING!!!

Read my recap on the last Book Club special ep here.

Watch past episodes on ABC iView.

My Date With Jennifer Byrne #bookclubABC


Okay, I confess, I used a click bait heading. I did not have a date with Jennifer Byrne BUT I did get to meet her. And long story short, she was every bit the divine, glowing, Goddess of radiance that we see on our screen. But what kind of blog entry would this be if I went with the short version, so let’s do the long story long.

It was a chilly July morning, I woke to the gentle thump of my daughter’s warm rump landing on my chest, and the caress of her hands against my face as her tiny fingers tried to softly pry my eyes open. “Wake up, Mummy,” the words floated from her lips like dandelion threads on the breeze. #blessed. I murmured back to the angelic creature perched upon me, “Wha?” And shortly thereafter got out of bed and let the two year old twin terrors out of their cots, before they started getting their own ideas of getting out of bed and learned that they are more than capable of escaping.

It was an ordinary day, just like any other Thursday. My daughter refused to wear any clothes that were weather appropriate. The twins used a couple of dinosaurs as light sabers and attempted to kill each other. My husband spent a long time on the toilet. I drank tea. I had to try out some mixed martial arts moves in order to subdue my boys for nappy changes and my daughter eventually settled for dressing like a fairy on crack. My husband got out of the bathroom and went to work, and better yet, he actually took the kids to preschool with him. Not every day is a preschool day, but that fateful day was.

As the glitter of childhood laughter and dreams settled I sat and drank coffee in my pyjamas. I tweeted about how excited I was to go watch a live recording of The Book Club ABC. I tweeted about how much I desired to see one Benjamin Law’s ankle region. Last time he had been on the show he had done it utterly sockless. I dared but dream that he would do the same again. As you can see, I was awfully excited. The Book Club is my not so secret addiction. I write recaps, I watch it religiously, and I probably tweet about it every day.

After I finished my coffee I realized that I should probably do some vacuuming. So I did. I then cleaned the toilet. These events were no doubt symbolic of great things to come. I even had a shower. I didn’t want to take my pyjamas off because it was so cold, but The Book Club was worth it. I was going to shower. Warm water trickled down my face and onto my shoulders. Water gently beaded against my alabaster skin. I reached hesitantly towards the razor to shave my hairy pits, but at the last minute rethought it. It’s fucking freezing, I’ll need the extra warmth of my furry covering. It was all happening. After the gratuitous shower scene where I was completely naked and wet I layered myself up with a pair of thick black gym tights and green cargo pants over the top. I then put on a grey long sleeved top, a pink ¾ length top, a black t-shirt AND a yellow jacket. It was very cold. Don’t get too excited, I was not sans underpants. I was wearing bra, undies, and rainbow toe socks as well. This is a celebrity meeting, not erotica.

It was now time for me to make my entrance into my new life. A life of fun and whimsy. The world of Book Club. I entered the ABC studio. It wasn’t as easy as you might imagine. It has a giant automatic revolving door that you must negotiate to enter. Timing is everything and half of the entrance was partitioned off so the window of opportunity was even narrower. But I took a deep breath and launched. Yes, success. I made it through the door without falling over and being pushed around repeatedly by the revolving door like a crumpled piece of garbage. I enter the lobby. A TARDIS to my left immediately caught my eye. I moved towards it, like a Rose to a Timelord. I thought about trying to open the door but in the end didn’t. I didn’t want to be responsible for breaking it.

I saw a crowd of people waiting behind a thinly roped off area. I went to them and asked, are they the clubbers. They were. So I joined them and sat and waited. I waited and tweeted about the fact that I was waiting. If a tree falls in the forest but doesn’t tweet about it, has it really fallen? Yes, but who cares about it? If that tree wants someone to care about its death then it should ruddy well take a selfie of itself whilst doing so and then slap on some sort of trending hashtag, #FreeTheNipple. Finally the tweeting about waiting was ended by us being called into the studio. We were checked for contraband before entering. I had none. I was allowed in.

On entering the studio the floor manager tells us exactly where to sit. A few brave souls decide to defy her and tell her they don’t like the view from where they are. She tells them that they’ll ruin her shot if they don’t sit where they’re told and to just sit we’re they’re darn well told. This continues on for quite some time. People wanting to rebel against the control of creating an audience shot and the floor manager wondering why they’re Book Club fans if they’re so sassy. Shouldn’t book nerds be easier to manage? I simply sit where I am told. The spirit of rebellion does not burn inside me. We’re told to turn our phones off, I do so. Again, no complaints. No last minute selfies. I just turn it off.

And then BAM JByrne appears before us like some kind of bioluminescent angel. I start clapping. I manage to catch myself before leaping from my seat and throwing myself around her ankles and screaming, “I love you.” If we can’t sit wherever we like, then I’m pretty sure that actually touching the Byrne is right out. So I sit and simply watch. The guests are introduced and Benjamin Law and his naked ankles are there again. They’re so different and out there in comparison to the covered ankles of his colleagues. Warmth starts to rise from my own thoroughly layered ankles, up my legs, past my hips, into my heart and penetrates my brain. A fire is lit. That fire of rebellion. I will speak to JByrne this very day. I shall make it happen!


The show begins, I can’t give any spoilers away for it is yet to screen, just keep an eye on my blog on Tuesday night and all shall be revealed in one of my breathtaking recaps… or you could watch the show at 10pm on ABC Tuesday nights… and then read my recap.

The show ends. The audience files out. I start to edge towards the stage. The floor manager sees me. She is frowning. But those bare ankles have given me courage so I press on.

“Jennifer,” I call out. My voice breaks with nerves. The nude ankles have evidently given me some courage but no grace.

“Who are you trying to speak to?” The floor manager is approaching me from the side. I can see her hand twitching at the ready to call down the gods of security to subdue me and drag me out whilst I scream and thrash.

“Jennifer,” I say timidly. Then I remember those ankles and some steel sets into my bones and I call out loudly and firmly, “Hi Jennifer, I write recaps of your show and I just wanted to say I love you.”

JByrne swings around and I am hit with the full force of her twinkling eyes. They are glorious. They’re actually more dazzling in real life than they are on the screen.

“You,” she says enthusiastically, “you’re the one who writes those recaps? They’re so funny.”

I melt onto the ground and start crying in pure ecstasy. The floor manager moves away. I’m clearly crazy but as long as it isn’t bothering the talent then she’ll accept it. JByrne actually stays and speaks with me for over five minutes. I am blown away. She asks me what my intentions are towards her Michael Williams? Is it true love or is it just lust. I tell her it’s true writerly love. He’s my age and the director of the Wheeler Centre, how can I not admire him. The guy is a complete genius. It’s the purest of all love and there is not pants action in it. I promise that he won’t find me in his cupboard rifling through his underpants. She accepts this and doesn’t take an AVO out on me for now. I tell her that my Uncle Paul is OBSESSED with her. We talk about Ben’s bare ankles and how wild they have driven me. She calls my recaps funny and clever a few times and I respond with words but all the while I’m thinking, “Someone who I think is funny and clever thinks that my stuff is funny and clever, this is so overwhelming I need to go have a lie down.” The floor manager finally says enough is enough and JByrne needs to be able to go have a life. We part ways and I feel so excited that I can’t even remember the next half hour of my life. I know that I called my Aunty Donna and shrieked about how much I loved JByrne and how I got to speak to her. She’s excited for me. She knows how much I admire Jennifer Byrne.

So there it is. My “date” with Jennifer Byrne. I got to speak to her, she is so lovely, I got really excited and she managed not to call security on me to drag me away, which I found quite touching, and she said nice things to me about my recaps. Funny and clever! Who doesn’t want to be complimented like that? And who gets to be complimented like that by one of their heroes? I have been walking around on cloud nine ever since. It’s three days later and I am still excited. I dare say I’ll still be excited next week. Happy!


Me losing my shit because I am meeting the one and only JByrne.

ABC Book Club S10 E6 #bookclubABC


In tonight’s episode of ABC’s The Book Club JByrne has discarded regular panelist Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex like old school wedding confetti and replaced them with the bubbly Geoff Cousins, Amelia Lester, Zoe Norton Lodge, and Christos Tsiolkas. The theme of this evenings episode is Books that Divide a Dinner Party.


Perhaps the regular panelists have been put aside because JByrne doesn’t want to fight with them yet again or because they’ve staged a rebellion over reading 3 novels a week. I feel you, I didn’t always love reading between 2 and 4 novels a week when I did my English degree.

Before the guests give away their choices I’d like to predict what they will say. Kerri Sackville recently wrote an article on psychics and I’d like to see if I have the gift.

Geoff Cousins… hmmm, what will the businessman, advertiser extraordinaire, turned novelist and environmentalist find controversial at one of his dinner parties? Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Advertising, propaganda, that’s kind of similar, right?

Amelia Lester the Havard graduate and editor of Good Weekend would obviously choose Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s got lots of big words in it, not necessarily used correctly but they’re in there. I’m sure it’s wildly popular with the Havard alumni.

Zoe Norton Lodge is published by the fabulous small Australian press- Giramondo, a regular on The Checkout  and a friend of The Chaser, so will no doubt go hard or go home. She’ll crack out the big guns, The Bible / The Quran / The Sutras / The Vedas / The Tulmud. It is going to blow our mind and leave our jaws dropped for the next six weeks.

Now Christos Tsiolkas is a very talented writer who has a habbit of writing novels that get turned into movies. Most recently The Slap got made into a mini series in both Australia and the US. It was pretty controversial around to smack or not smack not just your own child but another person’s. So in order to really put another firecracker up the buttocks of parents I think he’ll go with Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall.

Does JByrne get a choice? If so, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I don’t really know why, just the vibe of the thing.

Oh and of course the usual disclaimer, I’m dyslexic so grammar nazis should run while the still can.


Okay, first cab off the rank is Zoe. Dear Zoe has gone with Road to Ruin by Niki Savva. I feel so stupid. Of course she’d go political with the up coming election. The Bible, what the fuck was I thinking. Ugh, I hate myself. It’s a great choice because the book is about Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin and it’s just so salacious and weird that you want it to be true but you know parts of it must be made up. It has Credlin feeding Abbott and snuggling up on his shoulder at Part dinners, and all sorts of crazy shit. It’s so gross and entertaining but also sadly hard to believe.

Zoe describes it as juicy. She talks about how Niki breaks all the journalistic codes of conduct but she bloody loved it. Geoff mentions he’s worked in politics and the events aren’t like anything he ever experienced. Christos states it reads like a work of fiction but Abbott’s character motivation is never revealed which is problematic for a story. Amelia points out how Credlin has been put under more scrutiny than any other chief of staff. JByrne says no journalist has been able to get any proof of an affair. And Savva has very cleverly made everyone think that Abbott and Credlin are having an affair without explicitly stating it.

Christos has gone with Submission by Michael Hourllebecq. Nothing like my prediction at all but it certainly is controversial. Even more timely with Brexit going through. It centers around Muslim people winning the election in France in 2022.

Amelia thought she’d hate it because she thought it wouldn’t be her cup of tea. But she did like it because it isn’t so much a book about Islam as a book about how the West need to step up. Geoff likes how materialism is the enemy. Zoe wasn’t a fan of the older academic being paired with a young hottie with no panties but the rest she liked. JByrne and Zoe agree that the trope of the older male academic with the young hottie is tired. Geoff likes the mention of food throughout. JByrne thinks that’s satyr, I think that’s classic French literature. Regardless, panelists are not divided as promised and all liked it. False advertising!

Geoff has gone with The Tree of Man by Patrick White. A novel that tries to give the sense of grand mystique and history to Australia that Europe has so I’m going to pretend I’m close with my prediction and say it is advertisery / propagandary.

Geoff and Christos talk about how great the book is and how much they agree with each other. Where’s the controversy! For God’s sake Christos, give him the slap. We all want to see the slap. Zoe likes it too. Not even complaints about hotties and panties. Geoff randomly starts ragging on Jane Austen? Zoe says Austen is like porn, sexy for women… Geoff finds that crass and has a little dig at Zoe. You back off Geoff, Zoe is the only one bringing pizazz to this panel. You talk about porn all you like Zoe. This is supposed to be controversial. Austen is porn seems pretty controversial to me. Thank you!

Amelia is lucky last and she has chosen Lean In by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg… which is kind of exactly like Fifty Shades if you think about it… Alright, I accept I got it wrong. I can see why it would be controversial. White women from affluent backgrounds with husbands would relate to Lean In. However, even Sandberg has come out since the tragic death of her husband and said leaning in isn’t quite so easy for single mothers. Imagine how hard it would be for women from disadvantaged backgrounds. I imagine I’m going to hear the term “white privilege” in any discussion about Lean in.

JByrne suggests lean in means behave more like men. Amelia denies Sandberg would agree with that. Zoe points out how Sandberg’s husband uprooted a whole company in order to accommodate their family and help with childcare… which caused a whole shit load of problems for other family forced to move. Amelia liked it as a memoir but not as a manifesto of how others should live. Christos would like to have learned more about her family of origin and her guilt. He felt there was a better to story to tell. JByrne says she likes that Sandberg promotes trying to make good money. Women should be allowed to want to make a shit load of cash.

Great choices by the panelists. I’m clearly not psychic but it was a fun episode. Not as controversial as last week or episode 1, but still good. More Zoe PLEASE!

And ohmygodohmygodohmygod my two favourite panelists are on next week, Virginia Gay and Michael Williams.


And I’ve got tickets to the screening. I think I’m going to pass out…

Catch up on last week’s recap here.

Catch up on viewing previous episodes on ABC iView.