Monday, January 2, 2012

Bob And Kristin And David And Ben

WHAT with the spigot of mates’ moolah turned off, elderly onanist Bob Ellis must have a bit too much time on his hands these days, as he has stepped up those exercises in automatic writing which The Drum finds so agreeable. And since that humble vessel is insufficient to the outpourings of such a cascading ego, Bob also has been alerting the world to his continued presence via a recently launched blog. Things are going well for Blogger Bob, who has not yet learned to link, but who nevertheless celebrated 1000-or-so daily page views by noting his site “just might attract some advertising, from cinemas and theatres, for instance.”

Idle hands are said to do the devil’s work, and Bob’s stubby digits would seem to be the proof of that. Where once Mrs Palm’s ten daughters were able to occupy their few empty moments extracting cheques from a Palm Beach letterbox – cheques drawn against the taxpayers’ account and authorised by NSW Labor pals and his crow-eating cobber, ousted SA Premier Mike Rann – their secondary joy just lately would seem to be the needling of another august presence in the pantheon of Australia’s artistic elite, the fantastically revered playwright David Williamson. Oh, and his missus, Kristin Williamson, is just a bit peeved as well, which is entirely understandable. Even without reference to that billiard table, what respectable matron could tolerate in silence assertions by her hubby’s critic that she and he once fused themselves into a three-day lump of sweaty, socially aware, artistic flesh? 

It is not a pretty sight, the spectacle unfolding at Bob’s Table Talk, where mutterings of defamation writs are flying and the insults have grown very personal indeed. For little people, the sort who decline to discuss Proust with lanky strangers on cruise ships, such displays can bring only dismay. Here we are, the unsubsidised herd, heading off to work every day and happy in the assumption that the bankers of Australian culture are directing grants to theatre companies and film producers whose goal it is to showcase the work of our nation’s very greatest minds.

And yet there they are, the stellar beneficiaries of that same largesse, squabbling like wogs after a two-Valiant prang. It’s not nice, it’s not dignified – and no good will come of it. If the artistic elite is to continue its sacred mission of telling our stories in our voices, as submissions to the Australia Council often put it, those voices would want to appear a little more worthy.

To preserve faith in our artistic elite, the Professor’s advice is to look away.

But not every visitor to the Billabong is so high-minded. For those low sorts whose interests run to rubber-necking, here are a few excerpts from the escalating exchange of blows. Culturally attuned readers, those who prefer to think the best of our greatest minds, should read no further.

WILLIAMSON: it's been hard to endure the regukarity if your of your (sic) savage attacks on myself and Kristin over the years

ELLIS: Kristin's odd view that any critic of any of your plays must be sad, lonely, jealous or mad is very, very close in its reasoning to the longtime Soviet policy of gaoling dissidents in lunatic asylums and should, I suggest, be reconsidered before it is repeated. For it does raise the question, does it not, since she is so protective of your work, of how much she did of your work.

ELLIS: As always these Williamson characters speak in uncontradicted explicatory paragraphs, dumbed down to the level of those Women's Weekly subscribers who increasingly crowd the matinees, and his people only vestigially exist outside the hobbling plotline he and Kristin have rough-hewn for them, one steamy summer Sunday afternoon in Port Douglas, Noosa, or Byron.

ELLIS:  …in her haughtily glamorised memoir David Williamson: Behind the Scenes, [Kristin] understates, by my count, her own unhidden adulteries while overstating and hyperbolising David's; and I speak with some close personal knowledge of this, and of matters long known by a few surviving elderly readers once agog at the Williamson-Ellis exchanges in Days Of Wine And Rage, whose re-publication Kristin has lately forbidden…

ELLIS:  You do not rate as a writer of prose, David. Please do better in this field if you can. Take lessons. Practise. Go to Kristin for tips. And please do not moan of your unjust persecution by your vigilant envious enemies when many, many theatres put on your recent mediocre plays while refusing better ones. Or moan in better prose.

KRISTIN:  Oh Ellis, you poor man. You're 70. Let it go. How sad that you spend late nights thinking of a new way to malign a playwright who has survived 40 years when you have barely made it in the alternative theatre. Yes, I loved King O'Malley but you did have a gifted co-writer … I hear you are sought after as a speech writer by every state politician who has ever lost an election.

ELLIS:  The state leaders I wrote for, Carr, Rann, Gallop, Bacon, Rees, sometimes lost elections before I worked for them but never after. The federal leaders I wrote for, Keating and Beazley, each lost and won an election, Beazley only on the numbers alas, with 400,000 more votes than Howard. I work for Bill Shorten and Paul Howes now and each is looking good; like future Prime Ministers some say.

ELLIS: why for f**k's sake declare that old friendship should stop me railing against a bad play, any more than our three nights in bed in Diamond Creek should stop you from bagging me now, thirty-seven years later?

ELLIS: One night when we were f**king in Diamond Creek in the bedroom with the billiard table in it you told me you were descended from German royalty. And it struck me then that your attitude is a good bit like that of a royal. No criticism will be tolerated.

BEN POBJE (piling in):  I don't do speech work: I am an acute diagnostician.

ELLIS: I have sex five times a fortnight at 69, a rate unchanged since I was 50.

There is plenty more, and worse, but please do not visit Bob’s Table Talk. It could only shatter your faith in our erudite and artistic betters.


  1. aaaargh .. my eyes!

  2. Somewhere Marieke Hardy, apparently $13k lighter, is getting a wide on over this. She did love Bob so, right?

  3. Wankers of the World ,UNITE! " Intellectuals" ? DICKHEADS! BLUDGERS on the Honest Hardworking Taxpayers, Take away the grants ,let the Tossers Work or Starve.!

  4. Wow!

    Bunyip, you nailed what's really going on.

    BTW, I'm forty so the whole lot is catch up for me. Is it news ménage à trois or is it already known?

  5. "At 1 January 2012 15:15 , nickosun said...
    Arguing on the Internet is like competing in the Special Olympics—even if you win, you're still a spastic."

    Comment quoted above has the ring of truth.

    Bob's such a charmer - I'm sure Merieke would be in raptures over these revelations.


  6. My wife and I had a good laugh at that. Well at least David has some fresh inspiration to pen his next turgid opus on.

    I do remember Kristen Williamson haughtily proclaiming a while back that David had written 42 plays 'that's more than Shakespeare!'

    How many did Shakespeare write? Anyone know?

  7. They should all "get a room", with a billiard table.

  8. I love this bit which I believe is the greatest bit of self delusion I have ever read

    "The federal leaders I wrote for, Keating and Beazley, each lost and won an election, Beazley only on the numbers alas, with 400,000 more votes than Howard."

    How awesome of Bob to give Kim an election win. Convoluted thinkers are our betters. I have never laughed so much as I have reading this thread of vitriol, hatred, depravity and scorn.

    This is pure comedy gold and should be mandatory reading for all ages. I love progressives, socialists and communists. All you got to do is keep them talking and they reveal their inner stupid so easily.

  9. Reads like a Williamson play: two elderly literary has-beens reminisce to no-one in particular about their grand days, while they snap and snarl feebly at each other like a pair of ancient, incontinent spaniels, unable to repress a lifetime's worth of bilious hatred and envy. Ho hum!

  10. Who are these people and should I care?


  11. Look out. As soon as he chances upon your link you'll have him over here waggling his wotsit at all and sundry and demanding attention. To an elderly narcissist like him, any attention will do. If only to hold at bay for a little longer the queasy knowledge that the world passed him and his pompous windbaggery by in approximately 1978.


  12. Does Bob really think the President of Iran is called "Adaminejab" or am I missing a joke here?

  13. Polybius: He's been wiggling his wotsit all over the place since Adam was a lad. If he waggles it at the Billabong, his missus will appreciate the rare opportunity to take his place in front of the mirror.

  14. "As soon as he chances upon your link you'll have him over here waggling his wotsit at all and sundry and demanding attention"

    It won't be by chance. I linked the Professor's post over at Ellis's place. It's a tad boring what with the cricket not starting until tomorrow ...

  15. "squabbling like wogs after a two-Valiant prang. It’s not nice, it’s not dignified – and no good will come of it."



  16. Ken: Good to hear from you, and thanks for posting the link. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  17. J W Howard gets an OM, Hardy, Ellis, and co, a series of solicitor letters. All is right with the world so far in 2012.

  18. The world enters 2012 like a sailing ship of old pressing inexorably into wild, unknown, cyclonic seas: disaster looms at every point and the barometer plummets ever lower with each passing minute. Never mind the economic tsunami about to smash Europe following its decades of fiscal foolishness - all of that might pale into insignificance if Israel takes to Iran with a can or two of instant sunshine, before Iran is able to do the same thing first to Israel.

    With recourse to a very limited range of adjectives to describe the next twelve months - such as "bleak", "grim" and "desperate" - I search anxiously for some sign of intellectual leadership worthy of Churchill that will raise my spirits, reassure me that great minds are up to the myriad tasks at hand and convince me that all will be well despite the cataclysmic struggles about to engulf the entire world...

    Instead I find this demeaning, tawdry, painfully drawn-out episode of geriatric handbag swinging by a sorry group of people whose monstrous egos are exceeded only by their collective malodorous vulgarity.

    There is nothing uplifting in any of these people. Then again, there has been nothing uplifting in The Yarts for as long as I can remember.

    If these giants of the Australian Arts community were primates, they would be flinging poo at each other as we speak. However, given the glimpse they have provided of the world in which they wallow, that outcome may be imminent, their alleged status of Homo Sapiens notwithstanding.

    What a bunch of grubs.

  19. Yes thanks. Regards to you and yours also. I'm looking forward to duelling elegant spleen at 20 cyber-paces

  20. Old news - this was all canvassed in Nation Review way, way, way back when. Or was that some other "spontaneous orgy"?

  21. Walter Plinge of Port LincolnJanuary 2, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I've never seen a Williamson play and don't intend to. But then I'm a ageing plebeian who prefers to be entertained by lightweight fluff that isn't too intellectually taxing. And proud of it.

  22. The Fifth Bike Rider of the ApocalypseJanuary 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    As a natural born legend (in his own mind), I’m sure Mr Ellis began writing just after leaving the womb.

    Born in 1942, this means he hasn’t written anything worth reading for almost 70 years.

    Remarkable achievement!

  23. Prof, you will enjoy Ben Pobjie's post on Ellis and Williamson over at his blog.

  24. Dear god, are they for real?

    He writes for Howes and Shorten? Really? How interesting......does that mean that the articles that appear in the papers are his work? Not that I read them.

  25. Bob does wax lyrical and rightly so, he must have hit the right buttons for those misanthropes to be so heavily complaining. Oh to be a confused lefty wallowing in minutiae. Meanwhile, I have been trying to get some exposure about some nasty radicals who are part of the Gillard Government Family Law adjustments and realised that their input is somewhat biased against the male sex and especially Fathers.

    Have a read of this expose which demonstrates nicely why the Family laws are just so wrong..

  26. No, you will have heard of King O'Malley, The True Believers, Man of Flowers, Goodbye Paradise, Newsfront, Fatty Finn, Unfinished Business, Goodbye Jerusalem, The Nostradamus Kid, Bastards From The Bush, A Local Man, Run, Rabbit, Run and Suddenly, Last Winter, or your parents will have. Watch out as well for Shakespeare In Italy, Intimate Strangers, In Another Country, Orwell 1936 and the Murdoch miniseries Paper Tigers.


  27. There's your problem right there. It should be Marlowe In Italy.

  28. Credit where it's due though, Professor.

    Ellis' correspondence pages are a much racier read than those on Gerard Henderson's Mediawatch Dog.

  29. Bob, if you're still there, I truly believe The Nostradamus Kid is one of the best movies ever made in Australia. That one and That Eye the Sky written by Tim Winton and made around the same time. And I'm a thorough going conservative. So there!

  30. ELLIS: "I have sex five times a fortnight at 69 ..."

    With what?

    A tethered rat?

  31. What a squib of a response, Professor. We'll never get a stoush going at this rate.

    As for its substance, the proposition that Marlowe didn't really die in 1593 and really wrote Shakespeare's plays is something of a stretch you'd have to admit.  Here at CDU we have an academic who parlayed into a doctorate the proposition that most of Bach's works were actually written by Mrs Bach.  Then there's the perennial favourites that 9/11 and the Moon Landing were both evil CIA plots ...

  32. Advertising?
    But but but...isn't the Marxist throwback an anti-capitalist???????

    Does he not live up to his own meandering convictions??

    Oh, the Bobonity!!

  33. Francis Bacon in Italy, Prof. Get with the program.

  34. Where does one get sex for $69 and with no, inflation, for many years?

  35. Prof, the only worm of unease I feel when I read this blog is the knowledge that you subscribe to the ridiculous notion that Shakespeare didn't write his plays. It's only a short step from there to 9/11 was a CIA plot. Then it's all downhill to the wacky ideas of the far right: Iran is no threat, Israel id the font of all evil i the middle east, and from there it's a hop step and a jump to holocaust denial and Frederick Toben. Do be careful with this Shakespeare thing, Prof.

  36. Has anyone seen the ipecac contest in family guy? I just had a similar moment. You did warn us, I suppose...

    Just a thought, has anyone told Bob a wank isn't sex?

  37. Bob Ellis says - "No, you will have heard of...." and rattles off a bunch of things he's said he's done.
    Sorry Bob. The only reason I've heard of you is because Marieke Hardy said you were sexy.
    You! a seventy year old sack of shit masquerading as a human being.
    I hope the hairs on your arse turn into hammers and beat the shit out of you.
    The Internet.

  38. I'll grant Ellis that Newsfront was very good. But that's about it.

    -- Nora

  39. "If these giants of the Australian Arts community were primates . . . "

    {They are.}

    " . . . they would be flinging poo at each other as we speak."

    {They did.}

    - -

    My question: Which one is Felix?

  40. No, with my lawfully wedded wife of forty-six years, not widely thought of as a tethered rat and more litigious than I. No, Shorten and Howes write their own pieces despite my offers of help they think they don't need. Yes, The Nostradamus Kid is a good film whose script shared a Critics' Circle Award with The Piano which won an Oscar. No, Marlowe didn't write Shakespeare, Edaward De Vere did, with some help from Will Kempe, and later John Webster, John Fletcher and, probably, the Burbage brothers. No, my co-written play Shakespeare In Italy backs the Stratford man,.

    And I am lately touting the theory, not yet comprehensively denied, that the later plays of David Williamson were in some part co-written by Kristin

  41. Bob, I loved "Bastards From The Bush".

    Oh, hang on...

  42. Kae, the interesting thing about nickosun's comment is the response from Bob about probably being arrested for making the statement, and wanting to send around the 'authorities'.

    As a mate of mine likes to tell me, "when the police are used to enforce political opinions, you're living in a tyranny."

    I don't think that Bob would see that, though.

    I commented over at his blog, but it's a bit too long to copy here, and will probably end up down the memory hole.

  43. I'm with those who think it a bit unwise to tempt Ellis and the Williamsons onto this blog ... that way madness lies. I saw quite a bit of the latter two up-close on a 1976 ALP-sponsored trip to China. Kristin was, well, just unappealing, and by trip's end the boorish and boring David well justified the description 'a long thin steak of pelican shit'.

  44. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.January 2, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    So Ellis has written a bunch of mostly lefty arty stuff, which has probably mucked up a lot of his real talent and diminished his footnote in history. If I'd written Man of Flowers I would surely shut up about it. Got Days of Wine and Rage myself in a second-handbookshop outbin. Anthropological exercise. The Ellis Dancing Tabletop Blog reads just like a re-run of the Days, with all the rage and no wine, and really, it's The End of Days. Who cares anymore? That's if anyone ever did, except the players in their juvenilia. Raise the vintner's cup guys, kiss and make up, you're seventy Bobby, priapically boastful of your relentless regularity of congress (oh it's Thursday, number three this fortnight then), but admit it now, no-one gets out of here alive. Turn your musings into Bob's Under the Table Talk and compare notes on vintages or change your tune, get onto Catallaxy and learn some economics: much better.

    Ah cher Professor, clearly there is too much A la Recherche du Temps Perdu going on here? This once-was-left lady much much prefers to cruise with the tiller towards the right on the Billabong.

  45. King O'Malley, The True Believers, Man of Flowers, Goodbye Paradise, Newsfront, Fatty Finn, Unfinished Business, Goodbye Jerusalem, The Nostradamus Kid, Bastards From The Bush, A Local Man, Run, Rabbit, Run and Suddenly, Last Winter

    What a list Bob. It's people like you in particular that have turned the Australian film industry into the joke that it is. Loaded up with funding seized from the taxpayer, you have pumped out turd after turd. There's a reason why the Oz public avoid most Australian films; they've been ripped off by people like you one too many times.


  46. To Bobby at 9.12 pm:

    You got me there, me old cobra! As soon as I pressed the "Publish" command, I realised I had neglected to preface the word "Primate" with the descriptor "Lesser" - I hate it when that happens!

    My real surprise in relation to this appalling and lamentable omission (I am appalled and I did lament) was how long it took for someone to zero in on my error, like some sort of literary terminally-controlled super destructo missile system, in order to maximise my public come-uppance and discomfort. O me miserum! You have done very well - I hereby permit you to remove one chokky frog from the corporate lolly jar as a reward for your eagle eye.

    As to poo flinging - I meant literally, not figuratively. Then again, given the state of The Yarts today, if they had done so - literally - they would no doubt have asserted it was a performance of deep meaning, searing insight and enormous societal significance and would have claimed some sort of governmental grant for its execution.

    As to your question re Felix - well, all I can do (in complete mystification as to the meaning of said question) is respond as my teenage daughters do in similar circumstances by delivering the ultimate crushing response: "Whatever!"

    Gobsmacked of Gippsland

  47. JB of Sydney/ShanghaiJanuary 3, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    Only a writer of truly massive talent could think of the line " squabbling like wogs after a two Valiant prang."

    Thank you Bunyip, so much for that line.

    For our younger readers, the Chrysler Valiant was a large engined car of the '60's, known in Sydney as "The Marrickville Mercedes" due to its popularity with New Australians of Meditteranean origin.

    A great vehicle, I owned a couple myself.

  48. I have sex five times a fortnight at 69 Jesus, someone should notify the RSPCA. That colony of Swamp Wallabies at Palm Beach must be getting a good solid working over.

    At that rate I'd suggest Bob extend his forays across the water to Kuringai Chase Nat Park. By diversifying his hunting grounds he'll not only ensure that interbreeding doesn't result in deformities within his mob, but give him new vistas within which to extend his oeuvre.

  49. My only contact with Australian films was when I went to a Chinese block-buster called "Red Cliff" and had to sit through a string of previews of dreary threnodies made by Bob Ellis' cronies. There is no way I would pay to see them - even though I have already paid through the grants scams.
    David Black

  50. Mr Simmon -- I haven't watched any of those. Hope I've not missed anything.

    Interesting to see the difference in the way leftists and conservatives conduct hard-hitting discourse. The left are generally uncultured, rude, and use bad language. A conservative is polite, erudite and ruthless. There was a good example of this last year in Quadrant's letter pages -- a highly readable exchange over the charge at Beersheba.

  51. Off topic ... Hey Proffessor what the he'll is big Ted up to ...?. He axes 3000 plus public service positions ( a triumph ) yet sods off instead of explaining , campaigns against dumb meters then backflips . I could go on but you get my point ....

  52. Yes ... Bob Ellis and geriatric yee-har! All 250kg of him quivering and undulating in all directions as alarmingly as a super-large jelly in Christchurch on a bad day - now THERE'S a mental image I just did not need!

    On a technical point - given his ostentatiously generous and prosperous proportions - he wouldn't actually have seen his old bloke for some decades, don't you reckon? I mean, not without a mirror, an electron microscope and a good pair of tweezers.

    That would mean (here comes another mental image that even ctrl-alt-del won't remove) that he does the whole thing by Braille.


    Gobsmacked of Gippsland

  53. JB of Sydney/ShanghaiJanuary 3, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    I thought "Kenny" was a very good Australian film, so was "Mad Max", a long time ago.

    Did Bob Ellis have anything to do with either?

  54. I headed over for a peek, it pretty much confirmed what I already thought of my erudite and artistic "betters".

  55. That linked piece by Pobjie had me in paroxysms of laughter far too early in the day.

  56. JB, in my childhood in the 70s and 80s, Chryslers were called Wog Chariots. The more souped up the better. :)

  57. JB said "I thought "Kenny" was a very good Australian film, so was "Mad Max", a long time ago.
    Did Bob Ellis have anything to do with either?"

    Like you said, they were very good Australian films; Bob Ellis had nothing to do with them.

    And Walter- rest assured you are richer for having avoided these "films".*

    Bob Ellis possesses whatever is the opposite of The Midas Touch.

    *Unless you are an 8 year old, in which case "Fatty Finn" may be acceptable.


  58. I cant believe these guys spend SO much time repeatedly arguin on the internet. They must be seriously bored. And in my humble opinion Bob seems completely obsessed with litigation (although he doesn't sue).

  59. So Bob Ellis says he is touting a certain idea about who authors Williamson's plays. As Hitch put it, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." Or do you actually have some evidence. Ellis? In which case, what is it?

  60. Anonymous said...
    Prof, the only worm of unease I feel when I read this blog is the knowledge that you subscribe to the ridiculous notion that Shakespeare didn't write his plays. It's only a short step from there to 9/11 was a CIA plot. Then it's all downhill to the wacky ideas of the far right: Iran is no threat, Israel id the font of all evil i the middle east, ..."

    Funny you should mention this, Anonymous. The Bobster of Ellis wrote in an Unleashed column years ago (can't find it unfortunately) that, in a century that had the Holocaust in it, the establishment of Israel was the worst thing to happen.
    (Can't find the column, unfortunately, I read it a long time ago. But it was definitely in an Unleashed (pre-Drum) column for the ABC.
    The (technically hu)man is a bucket of scum.

  61. Anyone looking foir a genuinely amusing Aussie film with a bit of heart and strong script, check out Razzle Dazzle.

    Great stuff.

  62. Be careful people, lest Bob "they live in my head" Elis accuses you of being a CIA plant sent to make him look foolish on the drum website by pointing out errors in his writings.

    Im apparently a CIA agent called "the yank", due to pointing out a series of foolish mistakes he made on one post, amusing really. Makes me wonder just how many he gets under his belt before he responds to commentors.

  63. I'm surprised that Bob has confessed that he had something to do with the film 'Man of Flowers'. I assume that he has come here to tout for business, but personally I would have left this off my resume due the negative effect it might have on a prospective employer.

    I recall that in the innocent days of my relative youth I looked forward to watching this, my first Australian Yarts film. It turned out to be some sort of preposterously inane and boring drivel about period fittings as I recollect, or have I gotten it confused with another production of the Australian Yarts Film movement?

    Anyway I think I watched about ten minutes of it, which was more than enough punishment for any sane person I thought.

  64. Mr. Ellis, how could one see the original 148-minute Director's Cut of your movie The Nostradamus Kid? I've watched it three times and love it.