Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Bachelor Recap: Snow, Bridesmaids, and Models

We begin, of course, with the traditional recap of last night's action, in which we are reminded that twenty-four women we had no connection with met one man we had no connection with, and then some of them went home.

We are then shown Blake on a boat. It's only just occurred to him that one of the contestants could be his future wife. Only just. It only just occurred to him that the premise of The Bachelor is indeed the premise of The Bachelor.

Meanwhile at the house, Chantal would like to get to know Blake more, whereas Anita would like to know more about Blake. For her part, Alana wants to see more of Blake. The variety of opinions is quite amazing. They all want to go on the first date with Blake, to which end Blake has sent Osher with a "first date card", the traditional way for a gentleman to court a lady on television.

It could be a group date or single date. Anita would definitely like it to be a single date, not a group date, because she feels she is one of those women who is more attractive to a man when by herself rather than with nineteen other women.

Unfortunately though, Jessica will be going on the date, which doesn't surprise Holly, because as a professional netballer she sees deeply into human nature.

Blake shows up at the mansion in a car, and explains that with Jess, "It was her smile, it was the look in her eye, it was a spark", so there's clearly a pretty profound connection here. Jessica can't believe Blake actually came to the house to pick her up - she's never known a man who could drive before.

Jessica always thought she would settle down and start a family, but at twenty-four she realises she's on the verge of drying up and shrivelling into a useless husk, so it's about time she went on TV and tried to pick up a stranger.

As Blake and Jessica drive off, the crucial question is raised: is this a date or a kidnapping? It's still unclear as Blake stops the car in a middle of a blizzard: he has apparently driven her to the Yukon. Jessica sees the snow and becomes convinced Blake is a wizard.

"I'm a romantic at heart, I wanted to do something special for our first date," Blake said, and what is more special than asking the production team at Channel Ten to come up with something?

Jessica is pretty smitten: ever since she was a girl she longed for a man to shower her with fake snow. Back at the mansion the other women file their nails and talk about how much their lives suck. But at the snowfields, Blake thinks the date is going better than he'd ever imagined, inasmuch as Jessica has yet to spray anything toxic in his eyes.

There's a chandelier hanging above the ice rink. What?

Jessica leaps into Blake's arms. They both fall over. Overcome with the romance of the moment, they take a moment to watch an ad for Wonderland, wondering why it is that Ten is pretending it's a new show.

By the way The Bachelor is proudly brought to you by Ford, so you know who to send your letterbombs to.

Back at the ice rink, Jessica jumps into Blake's arms again in case we'd already forgotten that happened. Luckily, nobody has suffered a severed artery. Blake informs us that the chemistry between Jessica and himself is fantastic; but like any young man in the first blush of romance, what he's really looking forward to is doing this with nineteen other women.

Blake has a present for Jessica, or more accurately, Channel Ten has a present for Jessica and has hired Blake to hand it to her. It's a dress. "It's like something out of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe!" Jessica gasps as a talking beaver leaps out of it.

Back at the mansion, Sam is jealous, which is pretty novel. A new dating card has arrived, promising "a big day". Alana surmises that this means it is wedding-related. "What else do you call a big day except a wedding day?" she says, which is pretty stupid logic, but unfortunately she's going to turn out to be right.

On this date, a lot of women have been invited, including Anita, which is lucky because the look on her face as the names are read out made it pretty clear she was about to go on a killing spree if she didn't get to go on a date.

Back to the frozen tundra of Spitzbergen, and Jessica is now dressed as the White Queen, and sits down with Blake to dine on Turkish Delight.

Jessica can't quite believe the depth of feeling she already has for Blake. I hope this isn't going to continue for the rest of the series. The show desperately needs someone to call Blake a wanker to provide a bit of light and shade. Maybe they could get me on the show to do that.

Blake thinks this is the best first date he's ever had, possibly because it's the most heavily sponsored.

Jessica is impressed by the fact Blake is a perfect gentleman, meaning that he hasn't tried to grab some boob while the cameras are rolling.

And then suddenly, Blake speaks the words that every woman longs to hear after suffering severe head injuries: "Jessica, will you accept this rose?"

And then they kiss, a moment made all the more romantic by the knowledge of all the other women he'll shortly be kissing.

Jessica returns to the mansion, where Anita is insanely jealous of Jessica's dress: she wishes she could groom a dog like the one the dress was made from. All the women want to know if Jessica kissed Blake, but she doesn't want to tell them in case it "unleashes Pandora's box". We have yet to hear much from Pandora, but apparently her box is terrifying. Good luck when your date with Pandora comes around, Blake!

Later on Jessica is in tears because she lied about kissing Blake and because she is an idiot. But anyway.

Next day it's the group date, in which Blake will make it entirely clear to a group of women that he is in control of their lives, in true romantic style. The date will involve all the women being models for Woman's Day, because this show is all about romance and style and class and celebrity gossip and weight-loss tips.

The shoot will be bridal-themed, because these women clearly are not already obsessed enough with weddings. But only four women get to be brides, and the rest will be bridesmaids. Everyone is desperate to be a bride and not to be a bridesmaid because they don't really understand how reality works.

The brides are Alana, Diana, Stacy-Louise and Laurina. Nobody claps for Laurina, but she knows this is because they were just expecting it because she's done modelling before and so obviously she gets to be a bride because she has done modelling before and the lack of clapping is in no way connected to the fact that her personality was stolen from a vulture.

But to her credit, Laurina manages to keep her cool despite knowing that the other girls are intimidated by the fact she's a model. As the shoot begins, she feels pretty confident taking control and telling Blake what to do because although she's kept it pretty quiet, she's actually had some modelling experience.

The second photo involves Alana as the bride. She's not had modelling experience, so she looks like a piece of garbage really. To look good in a photo you really need modelling experience. It would've been good if there'd been a model among the women to give her some advice.

Blake, though, is grateful that Alana let him "guide her", making sure to say the words in a way that I want to make clear doesn't sound at all hideously creepy.

Next up is Stacy-Louise, who giggles a lot about Blake taking his shirt off, and is just generally unpleasant like that.

Diana has been dreaming about her big day ever since she saw it on Cinderella, which is a statement both alarming and weird. She also wants Mickey Mouse to be her wedding celebrant, so she saw a different version of Cinderella than I did. But I get the feeling Diana sees a different version of pretty much everything. Certainly she's seeing a different version of the photo shoot, as it seems fairly certain that when she leaves she firmly believes she's actually married.

Laurina thinks Blake is having more fun with Diana than he did with her, which Laurina can't really fathom, because Diana isn't even a professional model.

Following the photo shoot, Alana surprises the viewer by revealing she'd actually quite like to get to know Blake more. Which she does, as she sits down with Blake, and he asks to wait. I wonder what he'll do? Will he return with a bucket of water to throw on Alana's head, or a restraining order? No, it's a rose, so there you go.

Anita doesn't think Alana should get a rose unless there's been a real connection, and Anita hasn't seen that connection, so Anita thinks Blake has made a terrible mistake. Anita begins working on an Excel spreadsheet detailing what Blake's feelings really are, that she can email to Blake so he understands himself better and remembers to always ask Anita before making any major decisions.

Blake is looking forward to tonight's cocktail party. "There are so many amazing women I haven't even spoken to," he says. possibly referring to the women on this show. Laurina is pretty confident that her tactic of ignoring Blake completely is paying dividends, as she's not given him a reason to not keep her around, which, let's be honest, talking to him for thirty seconds definitely will.

The girls sit around and chat a bit. Laurina enters with a glass of wine to explain to the others how horrible she is. Sam doesn't think Laurina is here for love, which is a bit cruel, given Laurina is incapable of understanding any human emotions.

It's time for the rose ceremony. One of the women - I don't know which one, one of the dark-haired ones - says she thinks all of the women want a rose tonight. It's an interesting theory: do all the women, indeed, want to not be eliminated from the competition they have entered? Only time will tell, I guess.

As the roses are handed out, many of the women, and one hundred percent of the audience, is hoping Laurina does not get a rose, and if possible falls into a ditch or gets bitten by a pig or something on the way home. Laurina is fairly sure she will get a rose though, because when she was modelling she learned that men like women who are models, and as she has modelling experience she is fairly sure that Blake will enjoy her ability to model and therefore choose her. Laurina really wants a rose, as it would reinforce her reasons for being here. What those reasons are, we're still not sure: something to do with eating human flesh or opening some kind of portal to the netherworld I assume.

Luckily Anita gets a rose, obviating the need to assault anyone. So does Diana, thus extending the amount of time she's had to spend without professional mental health care.

It's time for the last rose. Three ladies left: only one can stay. Will it be Laurina? Bridgette-Rose? Tiarnar? Will arrogance and obnoxiousness win the day against being boring and people not really knowing which one you are? The suspense is...I dunno.

It turns it's Laurina, Blake being unable to resist the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating world of modelling. Bridgette-Rose and Tiarnar head home, knowing their one chance at happiness is gone forever and they will live many long years of loneliness and regret. Not that Bridgette-Rose has given up entirely. "I hope there's still someone out there for me, or at least I hope there is," she says, her grief having destroyed her ability to form cogent sentences.

Back at the mansion, Laurina is devastated that her best friend has left: her best friend being...I dunno, one of those ones who just left. It's suggested to her that she should be happy that she is still in the house. Laurina doesn't care. It means nothing to her. She has no interest in Blake. "I'm here for me," she says. At some point someone will explain to her the premise of the show she is on and she will be shocked. For now, she weeps, having been told by a producer that eliminated contestants are taken out the back and shot.

Tomorrow on The Bachelor, Blake will say insincere things in a really deep voice, and the women will act really bitchy towards each other. It's the twist that will change the game forever.

BELOW: Blake and Jessica get up close and steamy on their date.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bernard's Long Night Of The Soul

The candles flickered in the library. The lone figure, bent wearily over his books, shook his head and sighed. He had been there from early morning, and now, in the small hours, he was thoroughly exhaused. Yet he would not rest, for he knew - somehow in his bones he knew - that what he was looking for was somewhere in here.

"Mr Gaynor?" enquired the librarian timidly, approaching the desk. "I really should be closing the library, sir. Perhaps you should go home."

Bernard did not lift his head, but let a light chuckle escape his lips.

The librarian was uncertain of her next move. "Mr Gaynor?"

"Dammit woman!" he exploded, turning his flashing, manly eyes upon her. "Do you think truth and justice run according to your schedules?"

The librarian had to admit, on brief reflection, that they did not. Gaynor waved in her face the hefty leatherbound tome over which he had most recently been poring. It was a dusty volume from the late 19th century, titled "HOW TO DO A SEX WITH LADIES". On the desk lay pages and pages of scribbled notes and a variety of other texts, some similarly aged, some modern, but all of them on related subjects: "HOW OUR BITS WORK" lay beside "RUDE PARTS AND WHAT THEY DO", which lay underneath "ANIMALS DOING IT IN PICTURES". Across the desk was "WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE KISSING" and "WHO SHOULD BE ON TOP ANYWAY?", while tossed in frustration to the floor was a selection including "WHERE WHICH GOES IN WHAT FOR KIDS", "HAPPY TIMES WITH WIVES" and "HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE A BOY".

Clearly the scholar had been studying intently in search of something, but what? The librarian shook her head and retreated. Locking the door behind her, she left him to his studies, all through the night.

Gaynor's eyes darted across the page in the dim light. He knew it was here: the key to all his theories, the one discovery that would electrify the world and prove once and for all that his warnings were timely and correct, and that indeed, the gays were seeking to steal his organs.

He flicked through pages and pages of diagrams and photographs and scholarly monographs and graphic depictions. He licked his lips, aroused and stimulated in a philosophical sense. He was so close, so close that he could taste it. Or at least he could taste something. It was salty.

And then...he saw it.

"YES!" he shrieked, his voice echoing around the musty halls of knowledge. All alone, he danced a dance of triumph. "I have it!" he yelled happily. "I have it!"

He leapt through the window, rolling joyously onto the grass amid a shower of broken glass, and rushed off in the direction of Officeworks to have as many laminated copies of his discovery made as possible, for dissemination amongst the media which would be in a few hours assembled on his doorstep.

For there, flapping wildly in his hand like the cape of a great hero of antiquity, was the book that contained the key, that would end the argument once and for all and allow Bernard to usher in a new age of genuine Christian love and well-oriented decency. It flapped and snapped in the breeze created by his great cross-lawn speed, his thumb placed still in the middle, keeping it open on the page which bore the great truth, the awesome discovery he had stumbled upon. For there, upon those yellowing, crackly pages, were the words with which he would change the world:


He cackled gleefully. From now on, everything was going to be all right.

Monday, July 28, 2014


The other day I plunged headlong into a deep depression, accompanied by the screeching siren of anxiety. My chest tightened to the point where my heart seemed liable to explode. I gasped for breath. My stomach lurched and rocked like a capsizing ship. Tears were squeezing out through my eyes and I couldn't under any circumstances tell you why. Thoughts jostled each other in my head, crashed and broke one upon the next and melted into a morass devoid of meaning or coherence that could communicate no message beyond a loud, insistent "GET OUT".

Somehow, I did not get out. Somehow, I am here writing this. Unlike the friends I've known who aren't here to write anything, I found a way out of that tiny steel box that didn't involve opening a trapdoor and letting myself fall into space.

Let's not pretend I'm here because of some mysterious inner strength that let me ride it out. If I happened to see a crack in the wall of noise that allowed me to see ahead, if I have been able, at my lowest ebb, to clutch desperately at my own insatiable curiosity and clear a small patch of smog long enough to know it would never be satisfied if I left now...that's nothing to do with me.

I've sat in cars in the middle of the night with bleeding arms and pondered how much it would hurt to drive off a cliff. I've sat in the back of a police wagon with handcuffs on wondering how I could return to a wife and children who'd seen me humiliated and dragged away for my own protection. I've spent more time than I could ever have thought I would calculating the logistics of bringing about my own disappearance.

But here I am, and here I sit.

I read my friend Anna Spargo-Ryan's post about Peaches Geldof and wondered at the stroke of luck that has seen me live my life free of the ghastly addictions that have cut others short. I wondered at the good fortune that means I'm not currently the subject of a hideous MamaMia contributor's orgiastic spree of preening self-congratulation.

Because I can make no mistake - luck it is. By luck I find myself in comfort, in a warm house with a full stomach. By luck I find myself loved by my family, able to wait for my children to come home and hug me. It's not light at the end of the tunnel that gives one hope in the darkest of darknesses; it is having something for that light to illuminate, and it is by luck that when light comes in it shines on things I want to hold on to.

Recently a friend of mine lost her son, a marvellous boy who'd been subject to health problems that kept the whisper of tragedy forever in his family's ears. I've led a charmed life to not have to suffer that. I don't live in fear for my life, or for my children's. I'm privileged with extraordinary luck that I look ahead to their future without placing an asterisk beside every possibility.

A man I once knew, a great writer and teacher, a much-loved man, died just the other day with his wife and hundreds of others, brought down in flames and horror in a war none of them had any part of. For every person who died that day, dozens wept and cursed the most pointless of catastrophes. It's only luck that separates me from any of them. That separates any of you from any of them.

It's only luck that I'm sitting here writing this, instead of sitting in Gaza listening to the bombs drop. It's only luck that you're sitting there reading this, instead of starving in an African village or swaying on a leaking refugee boat or caught in the crosshairs of fanatics in Iraq.

There are those who want you to believe it's not luck. They want you to think we should offer punishment and threats to those who seek our help, because it's by their own failings and our own virtue that we find ourselves in our respective positions, rather than chance. They want you to believe that anyone finding themselves poor, unemployed or homeless has done so through their own choice and lack of moral fibre, and that therefore we must be harsh as we seek to impress on them how badly they've let us down by not being more like us. They want you to believe that what determines the course of human lives is the notion of "the deserving" - we get what's coming to us, and so we may feel free to pat ourselves on the back for managing to earn our good fortune.

I would rather recognise how lucky I am, and how the luck that befalls us has nothing to do with virtue, or strength, or deserving. And how that luck also bestows on us a duty. To make use of our fortune, and try to pass a little of it on.

I would rather hug my children, and thank whatever I may that I can.