Masterchef…insert fireball here

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 17th July 2012.

I’ve really been enjoying this current season of Masterchef. Based on the latest ratings, it looks like people are finally starting to tune in during these final weeks of the competition. I was addicted to the first season and I think that this year has been just as fun. The contestants are likeable (I’ve learnt what happens to disillusioned physiotherapists) and the format is familiar and comfortable.

I’m so used to the Masterchef format that I’ve become immune to their cliffhanger commercial breaks. No longer do I get frustrated when an important announcement is interrupted by a fireball explosion.

In fact, Masterchef has started to creep into my real life. This morning, when I got to the front of the queue at the coffee cart at work I simply made a fireball whooshing sound and then came back three minutes later to tell them what I wanted.

The show has also been useful for expanding my culinary vocabulary. I now know that caramelisation means to burn something, a roulade is a sausage made with clingwrap, a klosh is the sound it makes when you drop it and a deconstructed dish is what happens if it gives you food poisoning.

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 10:28  Leave a Comment  
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Dubious Celebrity Endorsements

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 8th May 2012.

If you’ve been anywhere in the proximity of a television or newspaper lately, you’ll be aware that Coles have relaunched their flybuys program. With just a swipe of a loyalty card, millions of customers can swap their valuable spending habit information for points. These points can be exchanged for flights and other rewards, apparently. I’ve been a member since the program was launched and I’m yet to fly anywhere. I must need to buy more before I can fly.

The face of the relaunched loyalty program is Dawn French of The Vicar of Dibley and French and Saunders fame. That’s right, British actress, writer and comedienne Dawn French. When you think about it, she’s a great choice. She’s funny, personable and a self-declared chocoholic. The only problem is that she’s British actress, writer and comedienne Dawn French.

At the time of writing this column, there’s 22,897,609 people living in Australia and according to Coles, none of them are suitable to advertise an Australian supermarket chain. Has Dawn French even set foot in a Coles store?  Why should she care that I can pick five discounted products? By the way, I chose fish heads, iSnack 2.0, Bindeez Beads, Pikachu and One Direction CDs. Perhaps Nelson Mandela was not available to front the campaign?

Speaking of ridiculous celebrity endorsements, way back in the early nineties, Channel Nine was “still the one.” Every January, the network would launch its new season with an extended promo featuring the contracted stars of the channel making fools of themselves. The 1990 season launch was no different and features Ray Martin tap dancing, Daryl and Ossie and the gang from Hey Hey It’s Saturday in prison, Peter Graves and the Mission Impossible team singing and Don Burke mowing words into a lawn. Inexplicably there’s also some dodgy dancing by a couple dressed in fluoro lycra bike pants.

The whole shebang is set to the Johnny O’Keefe song Shout, performed on a sailing boat by its captain, Jermaine Jackson. You read it, Jermaine Jackson, member of The Jackson 5, brother of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson and well known Australian television viewer.  What is her doing on a boat singing the virtues of watching an Australian television station? Only his accountant knows.

The Beach Boys are back. To celebrate fifty years as a band, well, actually make that thirty years as a band and twenty years of legal disputes, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks have reunited for a new album and worldwide tour. I can’t wait for them to hit our shores. Finger crossed for an Aussie tour.

Sometime in the early nineties, the Beach Boys, in their Love / Jardine / Johnston incarnation, were convinced to participate in a TV commercial for Manly Wharf. They re-recorded their iconic song Do It Again, with the altered lyrics “Let’s get back to the wharf and do it again.” How many times do you think the Beach Boys have been to Manly Wharf? My guess is just the once, to film the commercial. Obviously little deuce coupes are expensive and the royalties from Kokomo had run out.

I had planned to cite Tina Turner’s rugby league promos as the most ridiculous Aussie celebrity endorsement but it turns out that she actually is a big fan, supports Parramatta and can be found on the hill at every home game eating hot dogs.

Classic Songs + TV Ads = Shite

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 2nd November 2010.

There’s nothing quite as crushing for a music fan than finding out that one of your favourite songs has been crudely converted into a jingle, hawking the latest triple double heart stopper burger or the like. What’s even more terrible is that a whole generation of children will only recognise the classics as “that song from the toilet paper ad.”

When I was growing up, I discovered and came to love the music of my parents’ generation by scouring through their record collection. When they were out I’d examine every detail on the gatefold sleeves before very carefully placing the needle on the vinyl, being especially careful not to scratch the record. This is how I discovered artists like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, sitting beside a tinny record player, following along with the lyrics over and over until I knew them by heart.

Dad also had two cassettes that he had on constant rotation in his green Carolla, Abba’s Arrival and a random Beatles compilation tape that I’ve never found in any official discography. I don’t care how much you remaster and clean up these albums, Dancing Queen and Hey Jude sound best to me through two mono car door speakers.

 That’s how great music should be discovered, not through a television ad.

One of the worst offenders this year certainly has to be the insurance ad that mutilates Moving Pictures’ What About Me. Prior to it being slightly tarnished by a Mr Noll, this was a timeless Aussie ballad with great lyrics and melody. How could one improve on this? Why not add horrible whiney lyrics sung in embarrassing ocker accents? I’d like to file a claim. Your ad sucks.

Brian Wilson is a musical genius who composed “teenage symphonies to God”. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys is and will be my favourite album for all time. I’m sure Brian will be spinning in his grave or at least his sandpit if he heard the ad which features a bunch of overly excited salespeople prancing around to Good Vibrations. OK, so he’s not dead but you get my point. You know how the ads feature some customers who watch on with unimpressed looks on their faces. I’m pretty sure they aren’t actors. I’ll pay cash if you just stop.

 English ska band Madness produced some timeless pop classics in the eighties including Baggy Trousers and Our House. How pleased they must be to know that their perennial single It Must Be Love now features in an ad for nappies. A wonderfully romantic song that captures a beautiful moment in the human experience is now reduced to babies and bottoms. I’m sorry, but the nappies aren’t the only things being pooped on right now.

Writing of nappies, I’ve also noticed that MC Hammer’s You Can’t Stop This, which itself sampled Rick James’ Superfreak has now been converted to a jingle that features the line, “Stop, potty time.” OK, it’s far from a classic but even the man who composed the Addams Family rap deserves better treatment than this.

 Of course, I understand that there is big money in licensing these songs and songwriters and artists need to make a living. I just hate to see wonderful aural creations of art be trashed just to sell me some funeral plan insurance.