In Flight Entertainment

So, after asking my friends for suggestions of what I could load up on my iPad to watch on the stupid long haul flight from Australia to Los Angeles, (and after ignoring their suggestions of Idiocracy and Scott Pilgrim type crap), I have compiled the perfect list of in flight movies.

Firstly we have this little pearler of a plane crash film that sees Dennis Quaid, as Capt. Frank Towns in Flight of the Pheonix.  A quaint little story about a band of misfit oil rig workers whose C-119 cargo plane goes down in the middle of the fucking Mongolian, Gobi Desert.  They face brutal conditions, sandstorms, violent winds, survive an attack by desert bandito types, eke out their survival with limited resources and end up deciding they have everything they need in their wreck of a plane to build a new one (totally plausible).  Frank and the navigator guy whose name I’ve forgotten, end up also struggling to maintain order with these over-pumped wrench jockeys who all turn out to be bloody useless and cowards to boot, while those potentially most likely to be ‘voted off the island’ display surprising skills and strength.  For the record – not a great film, but the plane went down and “they’ll all be ‘rooned”, said Hanrahan, so I’m including it.

Next we have Alive, the incredible TRUE story of the Ugandan football team whose plane crashes in the Andes Mountain range in 1972, and of their intense will to survive and the unbelievable lengths they will go to sustain themselves on their meagre rations through freezing cold, extremely harsh conditions.  Starring Ethan Hawke as everyone’s little ray of sunshine, Nando Parado, (‘What’s so good about hope?’) they are eventually forced to cannibalism in order to survive months of isolation.  Alive is a rather harrowing and somewhat disconcerting look at what people are prepared to go through when push comes to shove, and their own survival is on the line.  It’s one of those films that claims to stereotypically be a ‘triumph of the human spirit’, but basically all you end up thinking about is the fact that they fucking ate their friends.  Ewww!

So, we’ve had the dry, scorching desert and we’ve had freezing mountain peaks… next of course we get the deserted tropical island with Cast Away.  Starring your favourite character and mine – Wilson the volleyball, who as we all know was the star of the show.  Oh, okay, the cast also contains Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.  Chuck Noland (Hanks) is a Fed Ex executive who finds himself trying to survive after (yet another!) plane crash which leaves him marooned on a desert island.  He finds himself ‘physically and emotionally tested to survive’… dum! dum! dum!  Physically he seems to hold up okay, give or take a few minor injuries, (we’ll just ignore that whole DIY dentistry bit), but mentally?  Well a man who engages in a war of wits with himself is eventually going to lose the plot at some point, which is right about where Wilson comes in handy… get it?  Handy?  *slap*  I kill me.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch his GF (Hunt) thinks he’s dead (if wishing were to make it so) but he eventually turns up alive, and – awkward!

After that we have what appears to be the most obvious choice, as nominated by my friends, Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L Jackson.  The only thing I know about this film is that Jackson utters the eminently quotable line: “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!”  And that is literally all I know about this film… because I saw the trailer, immediately thought the plot was fucking ridiculous, the characters looked like pathetic cardboard cutouts and promptly decided that there was no way, no how that I was ever going to watch this B-grade piece of shite.  And I’m still not going to see it.  But, meh.  It’s on the list because several persons (who shall remain nameless) seemed to think it would make excellent in flight viewing.  A-huh, yeah right.  It’s all yours.

And who could forget, Nicholas Cage, as Cameron Poe, the recently paroled ex-Ranger (who accidentally killed a guy while defending his wife from violent thugs), and John Cusack as the fast talking, US Marshall Vincent Larrkin, as the unlikeliest of allies in Con Air?  Poe is on a prison transport flight on his way to freedom (and to see his cute daughter for the first time) when the plane gets taken over by some very savvy and slightly psychotic criminal types, including the awesome John Malkovich as Cyrus the Virus and an extremely creepy Steve Buscemi as Garland Green (remember that scene where he is playing dolls with the little girl and you’re sitting there freaking out that she’s going to end up dead in a ditch?  Argh!).  The prison plane, being controlled by prisoners, ends up as ill-fated as you expect, plenty of death destruction and mayhem.  Add in a flying car and you have fun for the whole family.  If for no other reason we love this film for the dialogue lines Cusack gets, as he explains the word, ‘garrulous’ to a somewhat confused, Colm Meaney.  There ain’t nothing sexier than John Cusack with a massive… vocabulary!

con air movie poster
Then there’s TOP GUN!  One of the ‘greatest aviation movies of all time’ according to the much lauded movie critic, Ms Kahlia.  And she’s 100% right – who doesn’t love an aviation movie full of fast motorcycles, boozing up, shagging the boss lady, Great Balls of Fire, and some half naked Maverick (Tom Cruise) and IceMan (Val Kilmer) playing volley ball on the beach…. *thousand yard stare*  What were we talking about again?  Oh yeah.  Top Gun.  Planes.  There were some.  Maverick and IceMan (plus offsiders, Goose and ) are duking it out to be the ‘best of the best’ at Miramar.  Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan and Maverick and his offsider Goose (Anthony Edwards) have a bad training run – ‘Goose! Goose! Goose! We’re in a flat spin, we’re going down! – and Goose dies (awww 🙁 ) crashing a $30million dollar jet, but everything works out in the end…

Another absolute corker for pre-flight or in-flight viewing would have to be one of my favourite movies ever – Pushing Tin.  Now, none of the planes in this film actually crash, (most of them are just little green blips on a screen), but there’s nothing quite like this film for ramping up the pteromerhanophobia!  John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are Nick Falzone and Russell Bell, a pair of chalk and cheese air traffic controllers, with an out of control obsessive compulsive, self destructive career rivalry going on.  Falzone is totally wired and edgy, whereas Bell is so laid back he’s damn near narcoleptic, yet they are both completely dysfunctional, testosterone fuelled, adrenaline junkies playing chicken with 100’s of 1000’s of tonnes of air borne steel, and for added shits and giggles – shagging each other’s wives! Just the sort of morally flexible psychopaths you do NOT want to think of as being in control of your flight!

pushing tin movie
Coming in at the Number 37 in the list of Most Desirable In-Flight Films of All Time is The Grey, starring Liam Neeson as the extremely skilled, extremely gruff, and extremely deadly survivalist professional hunter dude, Ottway, whose plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness leaving him to defend himself and a group of (wouldn’t you know it!) useless, ingrate, oil rig workers (again!) from a pack of ravenous wolves.  The Grey sees this unlikely band battling extreme weather, extreme stress, extreme sleep deprivation and extremely scary fucking wolves.  Let’s just face it – this movie is just extreme all round, man!  Highly recommend not letting kids watch this or they’ll be pissing themselves the next time they see some piercingly pale eyes staring at them from a big fluffy Husky at the dog park.  Other than that, the movie has a surprisingly philosophical bent and of course does contain some scary crashing airplane shit, making it eligible for inclusion on this list!

And finally, the Number One, Shit Your Pants, In-Flight Film as got to be Flight, starring Denzel Washington as the doped up, washed out, Capt. Whip Whittaker who manages to keep a busted ass aircraft from crashing into a civilian population, by keeping his head together and pulling out some crazy ass flying stunts to prevent all 108 souls on board from plummeting to their death, all to a kick ass soundtrack.  Hero status ensues, rapidly followed by corporate buck passing as all involved attempt to place blame for the incident.  Everything about this movie screams ‘Don’t watch this before you fly!’, it’s tantamount to watching the Poseidon Adventure before going on a cruise holiday, but if you think you can stomach the potential anxiety, it’s probably better than watching twenty aircraft safety announcements for convincing punters that they really should keep their seat belts on at all times when not moving about the cabin!


Well, Flight is my Number One for now at least… until we get a chance to see Non-Stop staring the wild eyed, would-be-patsy air marshal, Bill Marks, played by Liam Neeson again (Love you Liam, but you gotta stop with these desperate, devil may care, kickin’ arse and takin’ names action hero roles)… This one looks pretty terrifying as air disasters go, and seeing I am flying on Saturday, I reckon the only sensible thing to do is go see it Friday!

Bunch of 5s

Not the most complex art around town… and not the most accomplished either, but definitely some creative recontextualizatons of an everyday item, juxtaposed with appropriated imagery from popular culture.  (Wow, that to be the twonkiest art wanker sentence ever!  😀

I think my favourites are Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction…

bunchof5s frida bunchof5s elvis bunchof5s pulp fiction bunchof5s avatar bunchof5s doge bunchof5s arctic bunchof5s movies bunchof5s mexico death bucnhof5s nyan bunchof5s spock bunchof5s nemo bunchof5s mario bunchof5s dracula bunchof5s hippy bunchof5s corgi bunchof5s zoidberg bunchof5s joker bunchof5s geisha bunchof5s nurse bunchof5s khaleesi bunchof5s kill bill bunchof5s lego bunchof5scatwoman bunchof5szombies bunchof5s vendetta bunchof5s freddie mercury bunchof5s chineseThe artist is called Bunch of 5s and you can Google up his work on tumbler etc, if you want.


Når du er i Danmark

What on earth is going on in Denmark?  They’ve been making the news for all the wrong reasons.  The other week it was an unwanted/surplus giraffe that was purportedly offered a new home in several different international locations, but ended up being ‘culled’ and fed to lions in front of tourists and small children!

This week, Denmark is banning the halal and kosher slaughter of animals saying that animal rights take precedence over religious traditions.  Well, that sounds kind of fair enough to me.  As it stands, Denmark requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, but there has been a long standing loophole (very likely a similar loophole exists in many countries), where animals can be slaughtered while conscious, if religious traditions dictates it be so.  Animal activists have been lobbying for a long time to stop the Islamic, halal, and Jewish, kosher, methods of slaughtering conscious animals, and it seems they have finally gotten a foothold.  However, it seems many commenters are saying these laws are less about animal welfare and are largely being introduced to be deliberately anti-Muslim and anti-Semite to interfere with the religious freedom of those minority groups.  Personally, I think… yes, many of us eat animals and they are an integral part of the food chain, but there is no need for them dying in fear and panic because your 2500 year old Torah, or your 1600 year old Koran, say they should… it’s the post-modern/technological era we are living in, and it’s about time everyone got used to that.

ON THE OTHER HAND… I think where the hell does Denmark get off saying they are all interested in animal welfare and don’t want to see animals slaughtered by inhumane means when animal brothels are legal in Denmark!  That’s right, the law in Denmark is fairly lenient and open when it comes to interspecies intercourse and it is LEGAL to profit from pimping your pets to paying punters.  I mean, the rights of animals maybe come before religious freedoms, but they should definitely come before unusual lifestyle choices, shouldn’t they?!  So screwed up.  Generally speaking, I think most of us feel that bestiality is not all that okay, and especially not in a situation where animals (incapable of giving informed consent), may be restrained and repeatedly abused for financial gain!

For the record, animal brothels are also legal in Norway and Germany… where oddly it is illegal to own animal pornography, but quite okay to roger Black Beauty so long as you meet the owner’s set fees!  Apparently it’s turning into quite an international sex tourism industry, as people from countries with more stringent animal welfare controls decide to visit Germany and Denmark and avail themselves of these animal bordellos.  It turns out that many proponents of the animal brothels feel that ‘mere concepts of morality have no business being law’.   But if that is the case, and morality has no place in law, then should murder be taken off the books too… seeing the only reason it’s illegal to kill another human being is because society (very early on) deemed it immoral to do so.  I’m gobsmacked.

Denmark – clean up your act.  It’s well and truly time you instituted safe and regulated employment conditions and access to healthcare for your animal sex workers, before you bother legislating against kosher and halal slaughter!!!  O_o



Rainbow Dash’s Not So Big Adventure

Haha! I’m testing out a new ap to write on and had to find something utterly trivial to post… and this is about as frivolous as it gets, I am afraid.

Meet Rainbow Dash who was a belated Christmas present that remained in his packagaing since I received him (because I am cruel like that) but who has now been released on an unsuspecting world.

As you can see, Rainbow Dash is somewhat vain and refuses to be photographed unless it is of his good side. 😉


I’m off to the US soon, and have just seen an interesting set of observations from a visitor from the other side of the Pacific… A yank Down Under.  Thought I’d save this here and revisit it when I get back.

‘Value what you have and don’t give it away.’

There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American, says David Mason.

More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ”We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.” So here it is – a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.

1. Health care.
I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift.
In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy.
The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.
Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity.
You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements – something I have never yet seen here.
And your emphasis on prevention – making cigarettes less accessible, for one – is a model.

2. Food.
Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.
But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.
Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face.
The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had.
And don’t get me started on coffee.
In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.
I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?

3. Language.
How do you do it?
The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names like magic spells.
Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.
I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives – Vinnie’s and Salvos – and absolutely nothing’s sacred.
Everything’s an opportunity for word games and everyone’s a nickname.
Lingo makes the world go round.
It’s the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.
Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked, ”Nothing’s the same since 24-7.” Amen.

4. Free-to-air TV.
In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I’ve ever seen – uncensored.
In America, you can’t get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.
In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.
In America, you’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

5. Small shops.
Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.
Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.
Except for geography, it’s hard to tell one American town from another.
The ”take-away” culture here is wonderful.
Human encounters are real – stirring happens, stories get told.
The curries are to die for. And you don’t have to tip!

6. Free camping.
We used to have this too, and I guess it’s still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.
But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shore and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.
I love the ”primitive” and independent campgrounds, the life out of doors.
The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains.

7. Religion.
In America, it’s everywhere – especially where it’s not supposed to be, like politics.
I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

8. Roads.
Peak hour aside, I’ve found travel on your roads pure heaven.
My country’s ”freeways” are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses – it’s like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti.
I’ve taken the Hume without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it’s two lanes.
Ninety minutes south of Bateman’s Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald’s.
It’s blocking a lovely paddock view. Someone should remove it.

9. Real multiculturalism.
I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.
Recently, too, I spent quality time with Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

10. Fewer guns.
You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response.
America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.
Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.
Instead of mateship we have ”It’s mine and nobody else’s”.
We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.
There’s more to say – your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.
These are just a few blessings that make Australia a rarity.
Of course, it’s not paradise – nowhere is – but I love it here.
No need to wave flags like Americans and add to the world’s windiness.
Just value what you have and don’t give it away.

David Mason is a US writer and professor, and poet laureate of Colorado.