Vacation Time

Most people wouldn’t be able to name the perpetrators of the most recent mass shooting in the U.S. or act of terrorism on the international stage. Yet the name Charles Manson lingers more than half a century after his crimes.

MANSON FAMILY VACATION is a 2015 film which I watched on Netflix a few days ago.

It tells the story of two polar-opposite brothers: one a lost soul who has a fascination with the 1960’s Manson murders – the other a straight-laced lawyer who is nothing short of repulsed by his brother’s interest in the cult leader.

The Manson-enamored brother, named Conrad, is insistent on emphasizing the perceived positive aspects of the cult guru – his environmental activism, love of animals, his ‘helping’ of kids who’d been kicked out of their homes and of course Manson’s music.

He’s also ready to tell anyone who’ll listen how Manson was not present during the nights of the murders in August 1969 and so his conviction for those crimes is doubtful at best.

But his responsible legal-eagle brother, Nick, is having none of it. In one exchange between the two that takes place in a bar, Conrad observes, “I knew you would freak out if I raised the topic of Manson”; to which Nick replies, “Dude, EVERYONE freaks out when you raise the topic of Manson”.

In another scene, bearded Conrad becomes giddy with excitement when he meets a guy who shows him where Manson’s family bus now lays rusting and abandoned in the desert. When he’s invited to sit in Charlie’s seat behind the wheel, it’s a moment of pure euphoria for the free-spirited black sheep of the family.


With his shaggy haircut and bushy beard, the actor (Linas Phillips) taking on the role of the ultimate Manson fan even looks a bit like Manson, a connection that becomes more relevant as the movie goes on.

It’s rare that anything associated with Charles Manson can put a smile on your face but this character study with elements of both buddy film and road movie does just that. It’s no easy thing merging dark comedy and a brother re-bonding story but in this case the filmmakers manage to pull it off.

For anyone new to the whole mad Manson saga, this video might help bring you up to speed…

GET YOUR TWO SCOOPS OF HD HERE

Book Quiz Time!

Think you know your book covers, eh?

Maybe you do.

But do you know these?

The old-skool mechanical whirring that’s beginning to fill your ears is the sound of the quantum engines of our in-house time machine kicking into gear to hurl you backwards over the last 100 years of literature.

That’s literature, as opposed to books. Yeah right. Whatever.

One cover from each of the decades over the last century is yours for the viewing, along with three possible answers. Your job is to pick which title belongs to which cover. Answers at the bottom.

Good luck. You got this. Some of them at least!

THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett

THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT by Hilary Mantel

ClOUD CUCKOO LAND by Anthony Doerr

FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Adichie

CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell

THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel

HOLES by Louis Sachar

JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver

THE BFG by Roald Dahl

THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg

WE’RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT by Michael Rosen

THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss

THE LIVING END by Stanley Elkin

WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Dune by Frank Herbert

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS by Truman Capote

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers

THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck

BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

MARY POPPINS by P.L. Travers

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

WINNIE THE POOH by A.A. Milne

THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES by Agatha Christie

And for those of us who didn’t do so well, can I guess what you’re now thinking?

74-YEAR-OLD SOMERTON MAN MYSTERY SOLVED!

UNRAVEL THE FULL MYSTERY HERE

NOW LET’S SOLVE THE JONBENET RAMSEY CASE!

The Rest is History

History is a story with the most interesting characters and plotlines ever brought to mind.

History satisfies that desire to ‘know’. History is neat, packaged and explained. People like that.

History delivers insights and thrills in a narrative with ten twenty thirty forty a hundred times the sting of mere fiction because you know it actually happened. Most of it anyway.

While looking back with hindsight and making sense of things from afar, history is a chance for the average mortal to gain the wisdom of a god.

Current events are super interesting as well, I’ll grant you that. But history is like the prequels – that in a number of ways, are actually better than the original.

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So – ready to travel back in time? There won’t be any swirling lights or tunnels. No Tardis’s or DeLoreans. What there will be is photos. Really, really interesting photos. Come see…

A five year old Peruvian girl named Lina Medina gave birth to a 6 pound (2.7kg) baby boy she named Gerado (after the doctor who delivered him) becoming the youngest mother in the world.

The identity of the father was never revealed, though her own father was taken into custody on suspicions he might have caused the pregnancy. He was later released as there was a lack of evidence.

Baby Geraldo grew up healthy, although he passed away aged 40 from bone marrow disease. Lina herself is now aged 88.

Charles Schultz, the creator of the original ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, thought it was important his youthful characters were brought to life by actual child voices.

And while we’re at it, may as well throw in the adult voice behind ‘Snoopy’ as well…

Harley Davidson created a mobile booking cage back in the 1920’s. Officers were able to detain and imprison unlawful citizens and then shuttle them around as they went. The motorcycle was called the ‘Black Maria’. What the prisoner and police officer conversed about en-route is anyone’s guess.

Future ‘Queen of Crime’ novelist Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) served as a nurse during WWI. She is pictured here in Torquay, England.

What the? No bones about it, this is next level eerie. Haven’t seen anything around like this today. Kind of glad I haven’t.

Long before audiobooks, digital libraries or streaming services there were mobile libraries. This one is pictured in London. For the pricely sum of 2 cents a week, you could rent a book from one of these book back shelves. Chiropractors were rumored to take a particular interest in the business.

Alice Elizabeth Doherty was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S.A in 1887. She lived until the age of 46 with the rare condition known as hypertrichosis lanuginosa. Alice was exhibited by her parents as a sideshow attraction from as early as the age of two.

We now use alarm clocks and mobile phones to get us up in the morning, but people needed to be on time for work before these devices were created. “Knocker-Uppers” walked about with long sticks, knocking on bedroom windows to ensure their company’s worker’s got out of bed on time.

They received a few extra pennies if they remained at the window, persistently knocking until they were sure the person was up and ready to start their day.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake left a visible gap all along the San Andreas Fault line, which apparently can still be seen today.

Check out a young Sly Stallone at 1 min 25secs and a young Donald Trump at 1 min 27secs.

If you think your job is boring, check this out. Back in the 1920’s a new service was started to keep people up to date with the times. Time operators had to announce the time every 15 seconds. Later, recordings took over and the service was… timed out.

Frank Lentini was born in Italy in 1889 with three legs and four feet. The genetic rarity is known as being born with a parasitic twin. This is when twins begin to develop during a pregnancy but do not separate. Frank joined Ringling Brothers Circus as a sideshow entertainer. Everyone has to earn a living.

It looks like a bike a superhero might ride. Ok, maybe not the color but definitely everything else – art deco style curves included. Fast forward 77 years and ‘Back to the Future’ style, you get this –

If any of this may have whet your appetite to take a leisurely cruise aboard the SS Nostalgia, hosted by your Captain Arthur Fonzarelli, then I guess you’d better click HERE.

They Call it Puppy Love

Pets? I’ve had a few.

Goldfish. Budgies. Guinea pigs. Even had a goose named ‘Waddles’ for a while.

Recently, the stars aligned so perfectly their luminous night sky memo could barely be ignored. It was time to bring new life into the realm. Not just any life but one born in a fur tuxedo and full of velvety mischief. Cute on a whole new level, in other words. And with hedgehog paws to boot!

This… ladies and gentlemen… is ‘Teddy’.

I’ll admit I’ve partaken of the odd bit of tut-tutting in the past, aimed at bloggers who go on – all Facebooklike – about their pets. Possibly you know the type I mean.

These well-intentioned, overly-smitten urban campers insist on regularly treating their readers to out-of-focus, ho-hum couch ‘n kitchen shots of their adored truffles – with the requisite accompanying ‘hilarious’ tales – with all the gushing enthusiasm of a tabloid journalist spilling forth the latest thread-bare Kadashians scoop.

Did somebody say ‘gushing’ ? Yes they did.

So what’s my excuse?

Well, there’s two, actually. First is, this is a once-off. Really. You won’t hear about ‘Teddy’ again. Not for some time at least. Possibly not until Disney make a sequel to its 2008 canine movie BOLT. And who knows when, if ever, that’ll be. (Ok, I could have said a sequel to TURNER & HOOCH but would anyone besides myself and Tom Hanks know what I was talking about?)

Second, this is no ordinary dog. No ordinary puppy. This is TEDDY. The one and only. (Ok, he may have come from a litter of 13 but like a little doggy snowflake, there’s still just the one ‘Teddy’. Right?)

If you knew of the circumstances that were behind the decision to welcome him into our home – as a few people do – you’d understand – in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way, why he’s so special. That’s a story for another day.

OPERATION PUPPY HUNT kicked off, like 9 out of 10 things seem to these days, with a Google search. Many Google searches, in fact. We wanted a child-friendly breed of dog that didn’t shed hair. Cavoodles tick both those applicant boxes.

Next it was off to a number of pet shops. We eventually linked up with a private reputable breeder – a friend of a friend. It was a long drive from our house and when we eventually returned home empty handed one weekend after somehow getting lost (GPS didn’t count on multi road closures encircling the residence we were aiming for) we wondered if the whole thing wasn’t meant to be.

Encouraged not to give up by some very supportive folk at my work place, we tried again a fortnight later. This time we landed smack bang in the middle of puppy heaven. The one we would eventually name ‘Teddy’ was definitely the shy guy of the litter. But we liked that.

Driving home with him squirreled away in his back seat basinet reminded me so much of the day, twelve years ago, we brought home our daughter from hospital. On both those occasions my driving assumed an extra edge of precaution – several, actually – like I was an armored car security guard delivering a kings-ransom payroll.

In the car on the journey home we tossed around names. A lot of names. And not just in English. Maybe not quite to the hilarity of this scene from BEETHOVEN (1992) but for certain more fulfilling than the usual game of road-trip ‘I spy’.

Boiling that overblown brainstorming session down to just four names, we were left to family-vote on – ‘FLAPJACK’ – (I kid you not) – the Top Gun 2 inspired ‘MAVERICK’ – slightly posh and butler-ish sounding ‘BENTLY’ and of course what turned out to be the eventual pageant winner – ‘TEDDY’.

A friend asked me if we’d named the newest addition to our family after NRL footballer James ‘Teddy’ Tedesco. I replied, “Actually, I was thinking a little more presidential.

Life has got that much more cuddly and interesting now thanks to the Ted factor. With a 5 star heart-tugging (not to mention emotionally manipulative) head-tilt and a tail that spins like a Cessna Skyhawk’s propeller, joy is ours for the taking.

I can’t start my day now without my two scoops of Teddy. As a matter of fact, he insists on it.

But there’s work involved. To say I and everyone else in my household are on a learning curve re puppy behavior would be playing understating love ladders with the truth.

So I’m doing what I usually do when I want to learn about a topic. I read. HEREHEREHEREHERE and by golly, even HERE. And as is fairly well known around these parts, I’m not above including the odd cartoon as a source of wisdom either…

Sometimes going old skool helps too –

Oh, with all this chatter, I almost forgot to show you this…

Yep, that’s him! You might say ‘ol Teddy is coming on in leaps and bounds. Below is him again, in the slightly more artsy ‘reflective surfaces’ French Cinema version –

And since this site likes to think of itself as having at least some vague links to all things literary, here’s a curated list, for no other reason than it looks kind of attractively ‘shop-like’ when placed together, of some great doggy novels and non-fiction

Thought we’d finished? Can’t do that without these two musical ‘Teddy’ dedications.

The first one, below, has been placed at the end of this post since I’m pretty sure had it gone at the beginning, a sizeable portion of the readership of this blog would have pulled up stumps and ceased reading in protest. Something I usually like to avoid, if possible.

For a smidgen of context. bear in mind SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK has made no secret of it’s life-long like of the band KISS. Their September Brisbane concert is marked on the calendar in yellow highlighter. Teddy, this song, which oddly I regularly have belting out at the gym at 5am, is for you.

For everyone else… I simply ask you to draw on all your reserves of stamina and will-power to endure this slab of 80’s-fashion-emblazed buffoonary up to (and, and for the very brave, including) the first chorus. That kicks in around the 45 second mark. Make it to there and you’re welcome to hit the kill switch for all you’re worth anytime after.

And the second? No need for caution or disclosures this time ’round. Betting you’re gonna puppy love it…

That P.S was from Teddy. This P.S. is from me. Happy Days are here again. Check it out HERE.

Letter from the Time Machine

Eudora Welty (1909 – 2001) was an American novelist and short story author. She stood atop of the absolute highest peaks in the world of fiction writing.

Her novel THE OPTIMIST’S DAUGHTER won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty was the first living author to have her works published in the prestigious Library of America series. Among a long, long list of accolades, she was also awarded the Rea Award for the Short Story for her lifetime contributions to the American short story.

Heavyweight writing territory to be sure. You or I may not have heard of her before, but mega-successful writers can’t all be Shakespeares, Hemmingways and Chopper Reads in the name recognition department, now can they?

If there was any doubt about Eudora Welty’s status as a literary icon, the house where she lived in Jackson, Mississippi is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Gadzooks, it’s even open to the public as a house museum for the literary tourists of this world.

But well before all that future success, there was naturally a time when Eudora Welty was just like any of the tens-of thousands of other aspiring, unknown writers. That meant the daily/weekly chore of sending out her material in the blind hope that someone, somewhere might show some interest.

In March 1933, in an attempt to secure some writing work, 23-year-old Eudora sent this impossibly charming letter to the offices of The New Yorker magazine and gently laid her cards on the table.

It’s difficult to imagine a more endearingly written introduction to one’s talents and for that reason it’s both a surprise and disappointment to learn that her perfectly formed plea fell on deaf ears, initially at least. Thankfully, The New Yorker later rectified their error and Welty went on to write numerous pieces for the publication.

Here is Ms Welty’s spankingly amusing and completely fetching query letter, written in March 1933 –

March 15, 1933

Gentlemen, I suppose you’d be more interested in even a sleight-o’-hand trick than you’d be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can’t have the thing you want most.

I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930-31 while attending advertising classes in Columbia’s School of Business. Actually I am a southerner, from Mississippi, the nation’s most backward state. Ramifications include Walter H. Page, who, unluckily for me, is no longer connected with Doubleday-Page, which is no longer Doubleday-Page, even. I have a B.A. (’29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world.

For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, Santa Claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up.

As to what I might do for you — I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment, I think; in fact, I recently coined a general word for Matisse’s pictures after seeing his latest at the Marie Harriman: concubineapple. That shows you how my mind works — quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

Since I have bought an India print, and a large number of phonograph records from a Mr. Nussbaum who picks them up, and a Cezanne Bathers one inch long (that shows you I read e. e. cummings I hope), I am anxious to have an apartment, not to mention a small portable phonograph.

How I would like to work for you! A little paragraph each morning — a little paragraph each night, if you can’t hire me from daylight to dark, although I would work like a slave. I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end. I have studied flower painting.

There is no telling where I may apply, if you turn me down; I realize this will not phase you, but consider my other alternative: the U of N.C. offers for $12.00 to let me dance in Vachel Lindsay’s Congo. I congo on. I rest my case, repeating that I am a hard worker.

Truly yours,

Meanwhile, over in HAPPY DAYS land…

TRUE CRIME BUFFS ‘R US

True Crime and I go back.

Like, waaaaay back.

If I had to pinpoint the moment my fascination with all things murder (can I be that blunt?) started, I’d point to one windy and fateful day back in August 1980.

I say ‘fateful’ because the original plan for that day was to meet a mate at the train station for a trip to the Brisbane Ekka. With him a no-show, instead I took myself off to the nearby news agency and, like a kid in a candy shop, (used to visit a few of those as well!) spent every dollar I had in my wallet on comics, books, magazines and no-doubt whatever other readerly type paraphernalia caught my eye at the time.

Among the swag purchased that day, in what would turn out to be the most memorable impulse literary splurge of my life, was the true-crime classic HELTER SKELTER. To this day, it stands alone as the best – the very best – most entirely fascinating book I’ve ever read.

But if I really think back, Charlie Manson alone was probably not actually the ‘thing’ (pardon that expression) that kicked off my whole ‘life of true-crime’ fascination.

See, from about the age of 12, for reasons I still can’t completely fathom (and probably don’t wish to), I was a voracious, and I mean VORACIOUS reader of those old skool TRUE DETECTIVE type magazines – that these days can be routinely found on public libraries shelves.

So why exactly do some people – present company included – catch the true crime bug?

The head-peepers (psychologists) of this world would tell us those reasons include –

Because evil fascinates us.

Because we can’t look away from a “trainwreck.”

Because we’re glad we’re not the victim.

Because we’re glad we’re not the perpetrator.

Because we like playing armchair detective.

Because it gives us an adrenaline rush.

Because we like to be scared … in a controlled way.

Because the storytelling is good—and comforting (crime doesn’t pay)

American author and illustrator Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is another person with a love of true crime. So much so she’s written a book about it.

MURDER BOOK was published late last year. It’s been written in graphic novel style, with comic illustrations on every page. For such a heavy topic, it’s quite the ‘fun’ read. Here’s a little sample –

The author cites 2017 as one of the real boom years for true crime shows. That was the year, according to her, when such programs began to exponentially expand at a rapid rate across tv screens and podcasts to reach the saturation point of today.

Her own pedigree for an interest in true crime appears pretty healthy

Campbell cites the 2007 David Fincher – directed movie ZODIAC as the starting point for her true crime odyssey.

In cartoon format, (loony toons’ if you will) the book discusses True Crime movies, television series and podcasts. Along the way some of the more renowned TC cases are unpacked or get a mention, including –

For the record, as a true crime kindred spirit, I will mention my three most recent Netflix watches –

And to complete the uncensored personal horror show, my three most recent TC reads –

For anyone interested in finding out more about the writer/illustrator Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell you can go HERE or HERE.

Well, that was all pretty heavy, wasn’t it? For something far, far lighter, go HERE.

Top Twenty Favorite Films of the 1980’s

When the swarm of literally tens of thousands of films nesting inside a dedicated movie buff’s head reaches critical mass and the buzz becomes too busy to ignore, there’s but one thing to do – compile a top 100 list.

This ‘hive’ will be organized according to time period – nominating ten loved films from each of the decades from the 1940’s through to the 2010’s. That will total eighty films. Twenty selections will be included each for the 1970’s and 80’s – ‘my‘ decades – rounding out the list to 100 titles.

Ladies of Broadway Celebrate Ladies of the 80s | Feinstein's/54 Below

The 1980’s saw major socioeconomic advancement and a worldwide move towards laissez-faire capitalism. The direction and what might be termed ‘ambitions’ of the decade became synonymous with a quote from the 1987 movie WALL STREET. Michael Douglas’s corporate banker character Gordon Gecko declares in a speech “Greed – for lack of a better word – is good”.

The 1980s was also an era of tremendous population growth around the world, surpassing even the 1970s and 1990s, thus arguably being the largest in human history. Political upheavals included the assassination deaths of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1981), Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1984) and Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1986).

Technology-wise, the first genetically modified crops (tobacco plants) were grown in China in 1988. After years of animal experimentation since 1985, the first genetic modification of 10 adult human beings – known as ‘gene tagging’ – took place in May 1989. And the first ‘designer babies‘, a pair of female twins, were created in a laboratory in late 1989 and born in July 1990.

Academy Award winners for Best Picture during this decade were –

And here are my twenty favorite films from this period –

Every frame of every one of these movies a feast!

P.s. Wanna see another person’s ‘Favorite Films of the 80’s’ list? Click HERE

Before the 80’s there was the 70’s. And in the 70’s there was HAPPY DAYS

I Like Traffic Lights… But Only When They’re Green!

Traffic was sprinkled upon the bitumen this day as if the roads were a playset that came with only a few cars.

“If a Covid lockdown has any plus points at all, this might just be one of them” I mantra-ed (tee-hee) to myself as I sat waiting at the lights for the signal to change and the non-existent cars to pass from the other direction.

This forced meditative state had me thinking. About traffic lights. Strange that. But no stranger than (new) normal.

There’s not a lot of glamour to your average traffic light. Let’s agree on that.

To give them their due, however, these never-fail-never-wrong-electronic sentries may be seen as no less than one of the very pillars helping maintain society’s sometimes shaky grip on order and function; a device akin to a road-side referee, ensuring things are fair and flowing; not to mention taking the argument entirely out of it about whose turn it is.

That ‘who goes next’ function is vital because… well, we do know, given half a chance, humans can be fond of using their brains to argue. It’s ok to admit it. We’ve all got some of the debate gene in us. Some more than others.

Automated salvation has been helping us avoid killing each other for at least the last 110 years. All-seeing, all-knowing, as-simple-as-a-fish-breathing-underwater traffic lights to the rescue!

Wanna know something? How’s about a couple of somethings?

The world’s first traffic light was a manually operated gas-lit signal installed in London in 1868. It exploded less than a month later, due to a leak in one of the gas lines underneath the pavement.

The policeman operating it at the time was injured. No doubt he would have had a couple of choice words to say on these ‘new fangled devices’ at the end of his shift that day.

 Melbourne was the first city in Australia to install traffic lights in 1928 on the intersection of Collins and Swanston Street.

This isn’t Melbourne. This isn’t 1928. This is Sydney, 1933. But most of you aren’t reading this fine print so, close enough, right?

The control of traffic lights made a big turn with the rise of computers in America in the 1950s.

Thanks to these electronic brains, the changing of lights made flow quicker courtesy of computerized detection. A pressure plate was placed at intersections so once a car was on the plate computers would know that a car was waiting at the red light.

The future? That’s all about the on-going tweaking and roll-out of ‘smart traffic lights’: systems that adapt to information received from a central computer about the position, speed and direction of vehicles. That spells reduced wait times for motorists. We can all raise a glass to that.

As to the age-old debate: Traffic Lights or RoundaboutsWhich is better? – study after study has shown roundabouts are the safer option.

That may surprise some people as there is more human judgement involved in navigating a roundabout. This is in contrast to traffic lights, which largely remove the human decision-making element.

In addition to improving traffic flow, roundabouts have been shown to achieve (if you can believe the figure) up to a 37% reduction in collisions – compared to traffic lights where many people will try to beata red light. Click HERE for more on that. Roundabouts are also cheaper to install and maintain.

Can you imagine life without traffic lights? How about life without traffic lights OR roundabouts? Don’t imagine. Just look

And for anyone in need of one last intelligent thought on the subject, there’s this –

And this…

And finally this…

You’ve got the green light HERE to head straight over to HAPPY DAYS.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate

Books, movies, documentaries, and pop-culture references by the hundred.

What more could possibly come to light or be said now about 1960’s hippie-cult leader Charles Manson and his wicked, wicked ways?

Tales of his evil influence and antics have pretty much contorted into a money-spinning cottage industry over the last five decades. 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the crimes the world would come to know as the Tate/LA Bianca murders. That year there was an outpouring of material offering various perspectives on Manson and the crazed, macabre events of August 1969.

The film THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE was part of that outpouring.

This movie poses the question “What if Sharon Tate and the other victims present at 10050 Cielo Drive on the night of August 9, 1969 had of fought back?” Not just fought back, but been completely able to turn the tables on their drug-crazed home-invaders. Completely. Unhesitatingly. Mercilessly. And kill them.

It’s a daring revisionist-history take on an already exhaustively told and re-told series of tragic, true events. The film’s director, Daniel Farrands (writer for HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS) has gone on record as saying –

Another premise contained in the movie is the idea of Sharon Tate having a premonition of her own death. This was based on an interview Sharon gave to columnist Dick Kleiner (1921 -2002) a year before her murder. The interview was published in the May 1970 issue of FATE magazine – a publication that centered around psychic phenomena and the paranormal and which still exists today.

When Kleiner asked whether she’d ever experienced any psychic phenomena – a question he routinely asked to hundreds of celebrities for the syndicated column – Tate related details of a violent dream she’d had a year before. The nightmare contained specifics uncannily similar to the eventual terrible fate that would befall her.

Critics back in 2019 were particularly contemptuous and… dare it be said, cold-blooded, in their appraisal of the film.

Many of the barbs were directed at the supposed questionable judgement shown by the filmmakers; to dare to concoct a fictionalized story – intended to supply a form of ‘entertainment’ to audiences – from the ashes of a true-life horrific crime that destroyed REAL people’s lives and represented a new-low-point in senseless depravity for 20th century American society.

Here’s a sampling of some of those critics misgivings hostilities –

Plus a few more…

And since we’re on a roll, may as well throw these not-so-humble opinions into the ring as well…

But what do critics know? It’s the average punter’s opinion that really counts, right?

When the female character walking next to Sharon Tate (Hilary Duff) in this scene from the film says “IT’S PRETTY EXTREME” (at the 52 second mark), she could just have easily been talking about the degree of outrage and disdain this movie has sparked.

Haters gonna hate. And haters in this case also quite obviously gonna take the moral high ground as well. What does SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK think? As a film, THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE has got its flaws. But it’s nowhere near as bad as this type of internet vitriol would have you believe.

For the acid-tongued opinion-pushers quoted above, the movie was a swing and a huge miss. SWS, on the other hand, would rather think of it as simply a huge swing; one that didn’t completely come off but, gosh darn… a huge, brave, creative and yes… respectful – swing nonetheless.

As to the the cries of exploitation, that all comes down to how you want to see it. Because it’s based on real events, any type of ‘re-imagining’, in the minds of some people, is simply not allowed. However, SCENIC tends to align with the thoughts of the director when he says the intention of the film was a positive history re-write granting the victims the ability to take back their power and turn the tables on their attackers.

Of course turning the tables on your attackers in real life is an against-the-odds proposition at the best of times. A group of civilized society people relaxing at home coming suddenly face to face with a cutthroat gang of drug-fueled, brain-washed murder-bots dispatched on a mission by the master they worship, are never going to be able to instantly flick a switch and transform into the raw-animal version of themselves needed to mount any form of genuine resistance against that degree of fanatical, overwhelming force.

On the subject of ‘re-imaginings’, the speculative what-if I’d be curious to see in a movie based on these tragic events would center around the well-known story of what very nearly happened with Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980) on August 9th, 1969.

On the night of the murders, the Hollywood actor was due to dine at Cielo Drive, having accepted an invitation from Sharon Tate to join her and her small gathering of friends. The tough-guy action star was actually en-route to the residence on his motorcycle when, as fate would have it, he stopped to offer a ride to a female hitchhiker.

McQueen, being the notorious ladies man he was, altered his plans in that moment and spent the remainder of the night back at his newly found female companion’s place. For years after, that unplanned decision was known around Hollywood circles as Steve McQueen’s ‘GREAT ESCAPE’.

It is tempting to ponder how the course of events may have taken a possibly altered course that night with the addition of an extra potent, fighting-fit male at the residence.

For a COMPLETE change of pace, click HERE.

200 Big Ones!

Holy champagne corks and party streamers! Amazing you is reading SCENIC WRITER SHACK‘S 200th post!

Five and a bit years is how long it’s taken to notch up that double century. Time flies when you’re having pun.

The Queen, Prince Charles, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are among the dignitaries who have joined in congratulating Scenic Writer’s Shack in the past on various mini-milestones.

This time, it was the turn of no less a dignitary than Gene Simmons, the soon-to-be-Brisbane-bound bass guitarist of legendary rock group KISS.

The following bro-hug email from him landed in SWS‘s inbox early yesterday morning –

Dear Glen,

Forgive me but I am not my usual foul mood self this morning. The current tour is blasting with both barrels, our latest song ANYTHING WITH A PULSE isn’t for a change being totally ignored by radio land, partner-in-crime Paul Stanley has just decided on a new choice of lip gloss – so he’s happy – and I’ve just gotten wind of the news our good friends at SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK have notched their own bit of history.

200 big ones eh! Our first year as a band was 1974 – I know I don’t have to tell you that – so KISS knows a thing or two about longevity as well. Kudos to you, royal cousin, for holding stage for that long and in the spiffy way you’ve pulled it off. Guess you’ll be staging one of those masked ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ parties to celebrate, right? Well, that’s what me and the boys would have done – at least, back in the day… like, before we were married and all…).

Here’s to you and your continued success in the future.

Rock on, fare thee well and see you in ‘Brizzy’ (is that how you say it?) in September.

P.s. If you open the attachment, big fella, there’s a nice little surprise courtesy of the rock Gods’ waiting for you.

OH – MY – GOSH! Not just a super nice email from friendly, fire-breathing Gene but then going one step further and throwing in a couple of those backstage passes to boot! What can I say other than “It’s nice to have friends in high places”. SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK is so grateful.

Before we bring the curtain down on this whole joy-fest milestone, it’s customary, on occasions such as this, to look back and reflect; ‘smelling the roses’ as it were. Yay! I get to be my own historian.

Here’s a re-heated serving of a glorious blast-from-the-past post from each of the last five years –

The feel great story of that year. Want fries with that? We got a whole lot more. (HERE)

Ok, so this attempted prank on the upstanding folk at Oxley Golf Club didn’t go exactly according to plan. But that didn’t stop some right ‘ol shenanigans going down on the 13th hole anyway. (HERE)

Yep, him and I go way back. Like, waaaaay back. So why not write a blog post about it? (HERE)

How sweet it was! We’ve all had one. It was finally time to bring mine back to life. Thanks to author Stacey Bryan for giving this post numerous airings, including HERE.

I am fist pumping strenuously for the fact that the latest Maccas ad on Australian television features the song I WAS MADE FOR LOVIN’ YOU by my, what I can now confidently refer to as, ‘good mates’ from the one and only KISS. Here’s another ad that uses the same song…

Click HERE to get happy.