‘Dumb and Dumber To’ – approach with caution

•January 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Lloyd Christmas[WARNING: The following article contains a couple of minor gag SPOILERS for the films ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber To’] Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ hits the ground running with a very finely executed scene introducing us to Harry and Lloyd 20 years after we last saw them. Lloyd (Carey) is now holed up in a psychiatric hospital, wheel chair bound and mute – the result, we’re informed, of him never really getting over Mary Samsonite. Lloyd springs to life and reveals to Harry (Daniels) that it was all a madcap practical joke, and that he’d been faking for the past 20 years. Boom. Perfect Harry and Lloyd humour that smacks us in the face as brilliantly as the opening Limo scene of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ (DD1). But sadly, this joke, arguably the best in the film, was already revealed in the film’s trailer (watched by this reviewer numerous times in the two month wait endured between the US and Australian release dates) and plods along on increasingly shakier ground. The subtle nuances of Harry and Lloyd have been traded for impish dullards that have all but lost their child-like view of the world and become fully fledged adolescent fools. Where DD1’s brilliance was in the unrelenting and unexpected punches to the gut, DD2’s humour is often poorly timed, and always predictable. There’s a masterful Lloyd dream sequence in DD1 where we see him amusing guests with a tremendous flaming fart, with the whole dream culminating in a fight involving a still beating heart being ripped from a chef’s chest, tossed into a doggy bag and then passed back to the chef. There’s dream sequences in DD2 too, but they seem to serve no purpose apart from being a nod to the original film, are ridiculously self aware (Lloyd stares off into the dream-cloud that Harry has his dream appear in), are a string of cringe-worthy borish visuals (Harry offers a wine bottle cork to his menstruating daughter; Lloyd has an Austin Powers-like rug of hair on his chest), and stop short of any genuine shock humour (by offering us a restrained fight scene where Lloyd’s greatest achievement is whipping the ball-sack from his opponent). The dream’s should be where we see the unleashing of all of the Farrelly brother’s comedic might. Instead it’s like they just gave up. In DD1 it’s the interaction and juxtaposition of Harry and Lloyd with the world outside themselves that serves the biggest laughs. Especially the people they meet – who can forget Lloyd meeting the elderly lady on the mobility scooter (‘I’ll be right back, don’t you go dying on me’) or the guys at the convenience store (‘Hey guys! Oh, big gulps huh? Alright!’), or Sea Bass, or the motorcycle cop (‘It’s a cardigan, but thanks for noticing’). In DD2 we’re surrounded by dimwits including the daughter of Fraida Felcher, the hard to comprehend family gardener with a horrible wig, Travis, or the even harder to comprehend Captain Lippincott. When we do see interaction between the outside world and Harry and Lloyd it comes too late, and it’s with science geeks who are far from real-world representatives. The love affair between Harry and Lloyd so warmly nourished in DD1 is also an area left cold in DD2. The film never deals with either’s complex emotional side and instead continually throws Lloyd vindictively headfirst into Harry without any real resistance. In DD1 we saw them make each other laugh, cry, and fight almost to the death. Where were these conflicts in DD2? Too busy hiding behind pointless quick-shot gags, that’s where. In one scene we see Harry and Lloyd showering under a nuclear power plant waste pipe and then glowing in the dark. In another scene we see Lloyd up a tree to get phone reception. Ho hum. It’s fun to see Harry and Lloyd back together just like it was fun to see R2D2 and C3PO back together in ‘The Phantom Menace’ but there’s not enough to carry this film to the same lofty heights as DD1. It’s let down by predictable, cheap shots, fails to give us any deeper insight into the minds of Harry and Lloyd, and falls flat so many times it never fully re-inflates.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 12: Licensed

•December 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 12:
On the twelfth day of thankfulness…

Most people my age have had their car license for at least 15 years. Not me. I got my Learner’s Permit when I was 16, and then a subsequent three other times. Each time, my Learner’s license expired and I never advanced to the stage where I was legally able to drive. Sure, I had lessons – I think my Dad took me for two or three lessons before we both got so frustrated with each other we gave up. I lived close to public transport when growing up and never really needed a license. But still I thought it would be nice to have.
As time went by, rules and regulations changed and even though I was a ‘mature’ aged learner, I was still required to complete a log book of 50 something hours. So I got my Mum to give me a lesson. Our lesson, while successful, lasted 45 minutes. And 45 minutes is what she wrote in my log book. What? Everyone knows you are supposed to lie in these things. Apparently no one told my Mum and she refused to change it. So I gave up again.
When I moved out of home I lived close to my work, close to the city, so I caught public transport and taxis everywhere. I had no need for a license. But soon I was to move to the country. A place where public transport is ‘sumfin dem city folks got’. So I started taking proper paid lessons with a driving school. Finally I seemed to get somewhere. My [now] wife elaborated on these lessons with her own instruction, crossed a couple of ‘t’s and dotted some ‘i’s and soon my log book was at 50 hours. I went for my driving test, and passed. Finally, I had my Provisional Driver’s License.

That was three years ago. 2008 was a different era. The world was so much more innocent back then. Things were so uncomplicated. Analogue TV was all the rage. Things were just slower.
Now, having been on a red Provisional License for one year, and green Provisional License for two years, I am legally permitted to be on an unrestricted license. I cannot imagine life without a license nowadays, and I am thankful that I have reached this point. What a journey the last 17 odd years have been.

I am thankful for patience, I am thankful for persistence. I am thankful for instruction and guidance. I am thankful for humility. I am thankful to finally be licensed.

[NB: At time of writing, I have one final test to pass before gaining my unrestricted car license. Stay tuned].

12 days of thankfulness – Day 11: Family and friends

•December 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 11: Family and friends
On the eleventh day of thankfulness…

Ok, so I feel guilty for the shameless day 10 post. But please allow me to reprieve myself with today’s post.

I am very thankful for having such loving family and friends. When working in the position earlier this year of ’employment consultant’, I met so many different people that had suffered severe family break-downs and literally had no one to turn to. Unemployment is horrific even for someone with a supportive family, but on your own I can only imagine how devastating to mind, body, and spirit it would. I am thankful that I can share my highs and get support with the lows, with any of my family and friends.

I am thankful for having a wife who loves me and who (mostly) always believes in the kooky ideas I come up with. A few years back I almost gave up on my beer blog because I was unemployed and depressed and saw it as an unnecessary expense. But she believed in it, and me, so much that I was convinced to continue. All this time later and I am so glad I stuck with it. It’s just one small example of something I am thankful for in our relationship but it has meant an outlet for my writing, the occasional free bottle of booze, and something I am proud to have continued. I would not be half as happy as I am today without her and 2011 has particularly reinforced and strengthened our relationship.

I am thankful for friends and family who listen and talk and share and laugh and cry. Those of you who don’t realise what a strength you are, simply because you are just being you.

Look I don’t want this to turn all hippy-like and be all peace, love and all that jazz. I just want to say thanks. Thanks if you are reading this and you know that you and I have had a positive experience at any time. I am thankful for family, I am thankful for friends.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 10: Material possessions

•December 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 10: Material posessions
On the tenth day of thankfulness…

With the imminent arrival of our first child, our family is soon to grow from two to three. My wife and I have made some well considered purchases this year that reflect our preparation for this growth. It’s not stuff I’m putting in here to boast about, it’s stuff I am thankful for. One of the items we purchased that I am thankful for is a bigger, more practical car that will suit baby (and dog), nicely. It’s a car that allows us to use our garage (previously inaccessible for anything non-4WD in nature) and for us to look after.

But the biggest thing I am thankful for, the thing I have dreamed about ever since I was a little kid, is our purchase of a two-door fridge with door ice and water maker. These fridges are things our friends in the US (and probably most of the Western World) have been using for 30-40 odd years and have only really become popular in Australia in the last 10 or so years. My interested was fuelled by US sitcoms and films and I would often just stare, open mouthed at this amazing invention. Finally we had the opportunity to invest in one of these to suit our growing family and we haven’t looked back. This is a dream come true and I am so thankful.

I struggled to consider writing a blog post today based on material possessions – after all, what a selfish, stuck-up thing to do. But what it all boils down to is that I am thankful for having them. I am thankful that we are in a position where we can buy these items. I am thankful that these items have all been justifiably functional and practical. I am thankful that I have had a strong work ethic instilled in me to save for luxury items. I am thankful for making considered choices and I am thankful for the opportunity to indulge.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 9: Clearing the air

•December 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 9: Clearing the air
On the ninth day of thankfulness…

Since leaving the employer I began 2011 with (see ‘New horizons‘), I had a strong urge to clear the air with my ex-colleague, and ex-manager. I know deep down they were good people and I wanted to be able to say hello. By leaving that employer, I hadn’t done anything wrong, but the manner in which I left felt so foreign to me. So, a couple of months ago, I wasn’t working on a Friday and popped in.
To my surprise the CEO and DCEO were also there in the office this day, which at first made me reluctant to go through with the air clearing. But, as it turned out, it wasn’t as awkward as I feared. I spoke openly about how happy I was with my new position (see yesterday’s post) and what a good career move I had made. They were all very happy for me, and appeared genuinely interested in what I was up to.

Sure, today’s thankfulness may not seem such a big deal to most people. But for me, this was huge. I was so thankful that I was able to clear the air, to show that I didn’t hold any grudges, and to express my positivity. I am thankful that I got the opportunity to meet with them.

As I left that day, my head and my heart held high, I received a text message from my ex-colleague apologising that things were a bit tense in the office. She explained that both herself and the boss had only that day resigned to the CEO. I hadn’t really picked up on the tenseness but had definitely sensed things weren’t right. The text message indicated both were happy to be moving on to better things, and I was very pleased by this. I took some credit for the resignations though. I am sure it dawned on the business after I left just how much I had contributed.

I am thankful for clearing the air, for moving on to bigger and better things, and for not holding grudges. I was able to put that chapter of my life, and my career, well behind me. And for that, I am thankful.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 8: Head-hunted

•December 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 8: Head-hunted
On the eighth day of thankfulness…

Barely two and a half months into my new job (See yesterday’s post) and I get approached by a local employer to come work for them. It’s a job with imminent managerial potential in a fun and exciting growth industry in a funky small local business. I was approached because I had made myself known to the employer through past work, and non-curricular involvement. They’d seen me in action and liked what they saw. But I’m torn. I consider myself a loyal employee (hell my first employer was a stint of 12 years!), I enjoy my 4 day working week…and….well, I stop kidding myself in coming up with excuses. Let’s face it, I was working in a job that could be seriously depressing. I was hearing people’s problems day in, day out and the only satisfaction I was ever going to receive was that which I could strain from my surroundings. There was no growth in my role, and the only possible growth would be if the manager left and even then I wasn’t convinced it was a role that I would be interested in. Let’s face it, I said to myself, I’m here for the money and little else.

So I decided to chat with this potential new employer. Part of me wanted to say yes immediately. After all, it was better pay, it was even closer to home (a 10 minute door to door WALK), a great industry, a growth role, and a role that wouldn’t involve me dealing with people that the majority in reality would love to smack me across the face with a phone book. It became very clear, very quickly, that this was the best career move I could make. And so, without even making it to the end of my three month probation, I resigned. I was offered more money to stay but this opportunity was too good to pass up.

Now, two months into my new role, I know (as I did two months ago) that I definitely made the right move. I love the role, I love the industry, I love the responsibility, and I love learning new things every day. Amazing. It’s been three years since I moved to regional NSW, and it’s only since taking this role that I feel my career is truly back on track. What I love is that I had to go through every single emotion, step, and career choice to make it to this point. Finally, finally, finally, it feels like I am in the direction I am supposed to be travelling.

I am thankful for new opportunities. I am thankful for being justly rewarded. I am thankful for patience and dilligence. I am thankful for being appreciated.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 7: New beginnings

•December 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 7: New beginnings
On the seventh day of thankfulness…

In June 2011 I began a new job as an employment consultant. It was my job to regularly meet with people on unemployment benefits and help them find work. You know, tidy their resume, show them job adverts, that sort of thing. I’d meet people with some pretty serious issues – physical, mental, emotional, you name it, and have to try to understand their motivations and help them where possible. The job was part social worker, part parent, part career counsellor. It was damned hard work at times, especially when confronted with people like the 19 year old bloke (I really hated using the word ‘client’) that swore in my face, said he didn’t want to do any of his required further study/training and still believed leaving school at 16 was the best decision he ever made because ‘I really don’t care if I have to just hammer nails into wood for the rest of my life…why do I need an education?’. I dealt with people at the end of their tether, people who seemed to have lost all hope. In some cases these people reminded me of how I was when I was out of work a couple of years ago. Yes I sympathised, but there was only so much I could do.

I threw everything I had at this job, determined to make a difference, for it was surely better than the job from which I’d come (see my previous post, New Horizons). I was in an office with friendly, chatty people that bonded as a team, a good manager, and a modern workplace. I was only a 15 minute drive from home, and the piece de resistance was that I no longer worked Fridays. Thursdays became my new Fridays and I had a long weekend every week. Once fully immersed in this role I wondered how I had lasted so long at my previous employer working ridiculous hours, driving silly distances, with very unrealistic expectations. Finally I felt like I was getting somewhere again.

I am thankful for new opportunities. I am thankful for being lead on a better path. I am thankful for three day weekends. I am thankful for the journey.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 6: Monday mediocrity

•December 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 6: Monday mediocrity
On the sixth day of thankfulness…

For years I have practiced the magical art of vocality. Using the voice. Speaking. Verbalising. Using words in a sentence and speaking them. This has also included the art of synonyms. Saying the same thing over and over using different words. Re-stating similar meanings with a variety of adjectives. Wait. What? Where was I?

Ahh yes…vocality. This year when local community radio station TLC Fm announced they were relaunching, I jumped at the opportunity to get more involved in entertainment. My enthusiasm for radio was spurned a few years back when good friend and collaborator Ads ‘The Faystar’ Fay and I did a beginners course in community radio. With a head full of dreams and some wacky sound effects in our back pockets we were destined to make it to the top of the community radio ladder. We had it all worked out. We’d do our 6 week training course, cut a cheeky demo tape and be on air in a prime-time slot before Papa was home with dinner. But alas, after only a few excellent shows I moved out of the area and it seemed our radio fun would come to an end.
So, unable to meet at a radio studio to present a show, Ads and I developed a series of podcasts, ‘TV Dinner with Maso’ and Ads’. Although we haven’t released one in a while, Ads and I love them as it fuels our passion to entertain. Stay tuned for our return.

In June 2011 I began my own solo show on TLC Fm, ‘Monday Mediocrity’. Not long after I began, I got Ads on board to really get my show moving. Presenting a radio show, being in the air and speaking to an unseen audience is something I really enjoy, and it all boils down to my love for performing. I don’t know how many people listen to the show. I present as though there’s a football stadium full of listeners hanging on my every word. In reality I know there are shows that not a soul alive heard a word of. But it doesn’t matter. For me, if I’m entertaining myself, I’m entertaining.

I’m thankful for having a passion that I can indulge. I’m thankful for listeners and contributors. I’m thankful that I can amuse myself so easily. I’m thankful for community and for community radio stations. I’m thankful I haven’t yet been banned for use of the word ‘scrote’ one too many times.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 5: I’m published

•December 5, 2011 • 1 Comment

Day 5: I’m published
On the fifth day of thankfulness…

This year marked two years since I began my beer blog (found here, for those who came in late). It was a blog that I initially set up to keep track of the beers I was drinking, as a kind of personal diary and reference point to help take the strain out of beer choice. Now in its second year, Mason Hell-Cat’s Beer Blog remains still a diary of the beers I stumble upon, with input from a great bunch of regular readers. Through that blog I had a bloke in Scotland (who just happened to own a bottleshop) get in touch with me and mail me beers – simply because he wanted to read my thoughts on them. I’ve had a couple of different breweries also stop by the site and leave their comments, and better still I have a couple of local craft brewers following me on Twitter which blows my mind. I guess I’ve always believed it but it became very clear that my beer blog is a bit of fun that people appear to enjoy being a part of. And I welcome that participation.

Then things took another step forwards. At the start of this year, Andy McLean from Charter magazine gives me a call and asks if I would be interested in contributing a monthly review for the mag. Wow. This to me was like a laminated ‘Perfect Attendance’ certificate awarded to a kid in grade 3 – the best compliment a guy could get. I jumped at the opportunity, and in August 2011 my first ever review was published to an average monthly readership of 50,000 people. This opportunity has served as further justification that my beer reviews are something people are interested to read. I have fun writing the reviews, I have fun drinking the beer.

I am thankful for this writing opportunity. I am thankful for good beer. I am thankful for people who take the time to read my reviews and share my enthusiasm and passion.

12 days of thankfulness – Day 4: Unexpected leave

•December 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day 4: Unexpected Leave
On the fourth day of thankfulness…

After handing in my two weeks notice with my employer (see Day 3: New Horizons if you don’t understand what the hell I’m yabbering on about) as part of my resignation, I was called into a meeting to discuss. It was deemed my new employer was considered competition to my current employer, and the boss explained that they believed it best if I left immediately. My heart dropped. I had already given a start date of two weeks time to my new employer, plus earning a 2003 wage meant I hadn’t saved much dough to keep me financially appeased for two weeks. My mind raced with confusion and anxiousness as the boss continued his monologue, saying ‘…but of course we’ll pay you for your two weeks notice, so don’t worry about that’.

Wow. The rest of the meeting was a blur as I considered two weeks of freedom and rest. I focussed only on what type of beer I would pick up from the bottleshop as I cleared my desk, handed over my cursed work mobile, and knodded my glum farewells to the team. Inside I was waiting to burst with excitement. Outside I must have looked like a bloke who’s been caught dipping his pen in company ink (or something), as I portrayed an expression of dreary acceptance.

I immediately headed to the local bottleshop, picked myself up a case of fine beer, and drove home on top of the world. I spent the following two weeks enjoying mid-morning coffees, sleep-ins, re-acquainting myself with my PS3, and enjoying the simple pleasure of hanging out with my wife and dog. I am thankful for unexpected leave. I am thankful for family time. I am thankful for me-time. I am thankful I was justly rewarded.