Wayning Interests

Random thoughts on and of the modern age

Month: April, 2012


Five Sydney parks where gun crime is not an issue.

It was sad to read last week that a couple had been robbed at gunpoint at Cabarita Park, in Sydney’s inner west. No one was hurt, but they won’t be in a hurry to go back lest they risk further encounters with men of ‘chubby build’. Here’s a list of five alternative Sydney parks that provide a friendlier experience.


Adjacent to Sydney Olympic Park, Bicentennial Park sits on an old tip. It’s surrounded by mangroves, it’s teeming with wildlife and sports a great bike track – just don’t breathe too deeply.


The largest park in the Sydney City area, so plenty of room to run around (or away). Remember, gangland crime in Centennial Park is so 1980s.


One of the safest parks in Sydney because it’s also one of the emptiest. That said, ticket prices are murder.


Enjoy this inner-city paceway while you can – Mirvac is gearing up to turn it into a residential development. Listen – that’s horses everywhere breathing a collective sigh of relief.


Ancient, tranquil and full of tourists. Also, the only park on this list to actively fight crime: a team of RBG botanists work closely with NSW Police to examine plant evidence collected from crime scenes.


Jack Nicholson, Burt Reynolds, and the role that shaped modern Hollywood.

I recently watched Terms of Endearment for the first time, and found it interesting to read that the supporting role of astronaut Garrett Breedlove, played in the film by Jack Nicholson, had originally been written for Burt Reynolds.

This made me wonder what kind of an impact such a small change would have made on the careers of both actors, and on Hollywood in general. While the supporting role of Breedlove, a character not found in the novel the film is based on, may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, the success of both the film and the role play a part in inspiring such supposition. Also important to consider are the careers of Nicholson and Reynolds, both considered to be at some point ‘the biggest movie star on the planet’, at the time the film went into pre-production in late 1982.

A TV and low budget film star since 1959, Reynolds’ big break came in 1972, when he appeared in Deliverance, a nightmarish thriller about four city slickers trying to survive a disastrous canoeing trip. His role as the most physical of the group established his image as a man of action, a reputation he cemented throughout the 70s in films like White Lightning, The Longest Yard  and Gator. His greatest box-office success came with 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, a Southern-fried action comedy which overshadowed his more interesting (but less well received) choices in the late 70s and early 80s.

Between 1977 and 1982, Reynolds had made two Smokey and the Bandit films as well as The Cannonball Run, a star-studded variation on the same theme. His 1982 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was the ninth highest grossing film in the US that year, but by that point, the public’s love affair with Reynolds was starting to cool. At the end of 1982 Reynolds found himself choosing between two scripts for his next film: Stroker Ace, an action-comedy about a NASCAR driver rebelling against the fried chicken chain that sponsors his team; or Terms of Endearment.

Nicholson, on the other hand, had become ‘the biggest movie star on the planet’ in 1975 after winning an Oscar for his performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in which he played a criminal feigning insanity to avoid prison. The film’s director Milos Forman’s first choice for the role had been Reynolds, but the film’s producers felt Reynolds’ great fame might have caused the film to not be taken seriously. If you think about it, the loveable rogue role Reynolds played in his Smokey and the Bandit films is the fast food equivalent of Nicholson’s McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest.

Far less prolific than Reynolds, Nicholson only appeared in eight films between 1976 and 1982, including three in 1981 alone. His biggest success during this period was Stanley Kubrick’s horror film The Shining, an iconic and much needed hit for both Kubrick and Nicholson.

Despite receiving an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Warren Beatty’s 1981 epic Reds, Nicholson felt burned out. After the critical and box office failure of The Postman Always Rings Twice later that year, Nicholson declared a temporary retirement.

Enter James L. Brooks. A TV producer responsible for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi, Brooks’ first foray into the world of films was 1979’s Starting Over, an adaptation of a Dan Wakefield novel which starred… Burt Reynolds. His next project, this time as writer, producer and director, was another adaptation of a novel – Terms of Endearment – about the lives of a widowed mother and her daughter over 30 years. For his adaptation, Brooks cast Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger as the mother and daughter respectively, and added a love interest for the mother; a past-his-prime astronaut who helps her emerge from her shell.

Reynolds turned down the role of Breedlove, which Brooks had written specifically for him. It’s easy to see how Reynolds’ athletic physique, tough guy image, easy charm and deft hand at comedy would have suited the role, but for a variety of reported reasons it never happened. The most widely repeated story is that Reynolds was already obligated to do Stroker Ace. The more salacious stories say that Reynolds wasn’t willing to remove his hairpiece or appear out of shape for the role. Reynolds himself claims he was committed to Cannonball Run II, a story which doesn’t really hold water seeing as Shirley MacLaine also appears in that film. Whatever the reason, Reynolds passed, and Brooks set about looking for his astronaut.

James Garner was offered the role next, but clashed with Brooks over their differing interpretations of the character. Harrison Ford then turned it down, feeling uncomfortable with the age difference between himself and MacLaine. Finally, Nicholson was coaxed out of his self-imposed retirement, although Brooks had to talk him out of his by-then flat $3m fee; Nicholson settled for a percentage of the gross.

Terms of Endearment was released in late 1983. It grossed over $108m in the United States alone, and won five Oscars from a total of 11 nominations. Among the Oscar winners was Nicholson, who received the Best Supporting Actor award. The success of the film imbued him with renewed box office clout (as well as a $9m payday), allowing him to once again pick and choose his projects. This began a streak of critical and financial successes throughout the 80s, culminating in the role that earned Nicholson what is still the biggest paycheque ever for an actor; the Joker in Batman. Creatively, however, Nicholson followed the Brando method; the more bankable he became, the less effort he put into his performances. While smaller movies like Ironweed and Prizzi’s Honor benefit from true performances, bigger budget films like The Witches of Eastwick and The Shining tend to riff on Nicholson’s public persona. Batman arguably epitomises this trend.

Stroker Ace was also released in 1983, beating Terms of Endearment to the box office by a few months and grossing $13m in the United States. It was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards, and in a perverse parallel, won one for Jim Nabors as Worst Supporting Actor. The film’s failure effectively ended Reynolds’ association with the hillbilly fast car genre, relegating him to forgettable ‘hard boiled cop’ films for the rest of the 1980s. While Nicholson was joy-buzzing gangsters in Batman, Reynolds was a dog avenging his own death as a ghost in All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Even if Cannonball Run II was the movie Reynolds took over Terms, it only grossed $28m upon its United States release in 1984. It was nominated for eight Golden Raspberries, and either counter to or in affirmation of its ineptitude, won none. Reynolds himself has since said that turning down the role was the ‘stupidest thing’ he ever did, and that taking the role ‘would have been a way to get all the things’ he wanted. While that’s not especially heartening given that all he seemed to want to do at the time was racing movies, it’s easy to imagine that the big paydays they offered were keeping him in check, forcing him to scrimp and save until he could finally do whatever it was he really wanted to. Of course, there was that whole bankruptcy thing, so maybe not.

Now let’s say that Reynolds had taken the Breedlove role in Terms of Endearment. Assuming the movie was as successful with Reynolds in the role (there’s nothing to suggest Nicholson was the major drawcard to the film at that point in his career – even the marketing downplayed his involvement), this would have been the film to propel him out of Smokey and the Bandit‘s shadow and prove that he was capable of more. Furthermore, coming as it did in 1983, it would have capped his previous run of financial successes and set him up as a bankable and versatile comedic and dramatic actor heading into the 1980s.

Taking a risk like Terms at a time when Hal Needham seemed to drive the proverbial dumptruck full of money to Reynolds’ house every six months might have given him the confidence to take some other riskier roles offered to him later in his career: John McClane in Die Hard, Richard Gere (you know you don’t know the character’s name either) in Pretty Woman, perhaps even Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. It’s also conceivable that had Reynolds been the most bankable star in the world by 1988, he may have been offered the role of Batman, as was rumoured at the time.

If Reynolds had played Batman, it’s likely Tim Burton would not have directed it; with Reynolds on board as the title character, he would have had the clout to pick and choose his crew, and the emphasis of the hero over the villain would have dissuaded Burton’s involvement anyway. This would have made the film conform to the superhero movie archetype established by Superman in 1978, or, at worst, resulted in Jokey and the Batman. Either way, the precedent that Burton, Nicholson and Michael Keaton worked to establish with their offbeat take on the comic book film wouldn’t have existed in 2000, when Bryan Singer kicked off the current era of superhero movies. Nor would Batman‘s enormous success have been achieved, and all the permanent changes to the Hollywood system that came with that. Without Batman, we might now live in a world without Superman Returns, Hulk, Spider-Man 3, Jonah Hex, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Catwoman…hmm.

The failure or even mediocrity of the much-hyped Batman would have been a part of Reynolds’ overexposure by the early 1990s, leading to a career lull which Boogie Nights would still have been able to pick up…

That said, had Nicholson not had the success of Terms of Endearment, it’s likely he would have stayed semi-retired until the opportunity arose to make his pet project; Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes. Nicholson was trying to make Jakes as early as 1984, but production problems kept the film in development hell until 1990, when Nicholson himself stepped up to direct it. Had he not made Terms, and his efforts were poured into the comfort zone of Jakes instead, it’s likely this would have capped his string of critical and financial failures of the first half of the decade, and encouraged him to prolong his retirement. Not working with Brooks on Terms of Endearment means he would not have taken his uncredited, unpaid role in Brooks’ followup Broadcast News. Nicholson has said that at the time of Terms, he was involved in a film version of The Mosquito Coast, playing a role that eventually went to Harrison Ford. This may have gone ahead without the success of Terms. Witches of Eastwick director George Miller’s first choice for the role of Daryl Van Horne had been Bill Murray, and had Nicholson not been as bankable or busy on The Mosquito Coast, producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber would not have chosen him over Murray. This of course means that Peters and Guber would have had no prior relationship with Nicholson when approaching him for their next big budget film – Batman.

Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker galvanised in the public eye his image as an actor in the later stage of his life. It’s arguable that since Batman, Nicholson has played variations on his own public image in film after film, with few exceptions. Reynolds is another actor who was often accused of playing himself. It’s interesting that 1997 brought the both of them roles which would appear as extreme riffs on their respective public images – Melvin Udall in As Good as It Gets for Nicholson and Jack Horner in Boogie Nights for Reynolds – but would also earn each of them Oscar nominations. Nicholson won his third Oscar for his role, but Reynolds lost out to Robin Williams for his role in Good Will Hunting. At a time when winning an Oscar was all about promoting comebacks, Reynolds’ loss was surprising, and led to the last 15 years which he has spent riffing on his public image, culminating in his role as himself in the videogame Saints Row the Third.

Nicholson’s 1997 Oscar win – for a James L. Brooks film – assured his legendary status, and has afforded him the luxury of appearing in only seven films in the last 15 years. Of these, arguably only About Schmidt has tested his acting skills. It’s likely that without the success of Terms of Endearment, Nicholson would likely have returned to being an actor, rather than a movie star, and could have ended up in the Jack Horner role in Boogie Nights.

The paunchy astronaut with a taste for younger women might have been a minor player in the film of a book he wasn’t even in, but clearly the case of Garrett Breedlove highlights the importance of casting and the relevance of Stanislavski’s saying: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” In this instance, the actors were both so huge that it was more of a ‘this town ain’t big enough for the both of us’ situation.

Then again, perhaps I’m overthinking it.


Have you ever wanted something you know you can never, ever have under any circumstances? This is a tale of pain and longing, magic and horror, loneliness and anguish. This is a tale of obsession, and how it can take you to the furthest reaches of the world. Lemme tell ya a story…

Back in the days of the corner shop, lollies were a big deal to a kid. Do you remember walking up to that shelf full of candy, armed with a $2 coin that could fill your pockets? Chocolate bars were obviously top tier, but spare a thought, dear reader, for those lesser confectioneries – Fizzy Cola, Fanty, those soft teeth, Milkos, Redskins, Toffee Apples…

Spare a thought, if you will, for those little individually wrapped pieces of bubble gum. You know, the ones packaged with temporary tattoos or stickers. You’d get a tattoo of a spider, or a sticker of a popular cartoon character, and all for 10c. Getting that little extra often made you felt like you weren’t getting ripped off. That extra novelty added so much. When it came down to choosing a piece of the gum or a mini Redskin, you’d suddenly picture that empty spot on your school folder that could do with a sticker of Pikachu.

Unlike you, the companies that mass produced the gum didn’t care what was on the stickers. Unlike you, they didn’t care what the flavour was, even though you know it’s that pseudo-strawberry you can still taste late some nights. The flavour didn’t even last a full minute most of the time, but it’s still indelible. It’s probably the fact that it’s so fleeting that makes it so memorable – the entire time it’s hitting your tastebuds full force, you’re memorising it so that in 30 seconds time, when the gum tastes like Blu-Tack, you’ll be thinking about that flavour and wanting another 10c piece, which also means another sticker.

At first, the stickers are a novelty and nothing more. As a kid, you might stick them all over your bedside table or chest of drawers, and because so many varieties are available on that lolly shelf, you end up with random scenes from a dozen cartoon shows. Freakier still are the stickers based on an entirely original IP. I once bought two pieces of gum and wound up with two ghastly images for my drawers: one was a cartoon picture of a kid being hit by a truck. He’s bleeding…he’s screaming. His skateboard lies on the road beside the pool of blood, and the faceless truck driver is about to run over that too. Above the carnage is the caption, ‘Horror!’ Yes, it is, but worse still is the next sticker: a cartoon picture of a jar full of eyeballs, severed limbs and…cherries. A label on the jar reads ‘Female Body with Cherries’. The caption above the scene reads ‘Ho Ho Horror!’, as if we’re laughing. As if ‘Female Body with Cherries’ is a joke, or witty at all. Even more disturbing is the idea that while the body parts in the fruit jar is meant to be the comedy variety of the sticker, that screaming kid being hit by the truck is just meant to scare you. It’s horror, and your red piece of chewing gum doesn’t seem so tasty now.

Eventually, if you buy enough of the gum at your corner shop on a whim, you end up with a fair amount of stickers. They’re often numbered, and you might get a streak: 5-8, 13-20. They might tell a story, or form a larger image. Something hooks you, and suddenly you wonder what’s stopping you from collecting the whole set. I mean, it’s not like you don’t buy the gum all the time anyway. Oh look, you just got number 22. It’s just that…you’d feel silly, wouldn’t you? Silly that you suddenly care about some cheap, stupid stickers that come with gum you buy because you’ve got 10c to burn and you don’t want two milk bottles. And yet…you wonder what number 21 looks like.

In 1994, Capcom’s popular Street Fighter characters made their bubble gum sticker debut in a set based around the then-new game Super Street Fighter II. It’s impossible to know how much success these achieved, but because Capcom is no stranger to sequels, 1995 saw another gum-sticker set released. Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams was a prequel game to Street Fighter II, depicting the characters in their younger days. The aging graphics of SFII were given a complete overhaul, with the characters of Street Fighter Alpha sporting an anime-flavoured look.

What better way to showcase this new look that with a series of gum stickers? The set was released in 1996, but somehow took two years to arrive at my corner shop. When they did, they were an instant hit. Finally, an IP we recognised! They were numbered. They were based on a game we played. They were 10c! The Street Fighter Alpha stickers filled the void that Oddbodz and Tazos had left, and unlike those trinkets, these could be stuck on schoolbooks and bedheads alike.

My wall was covered in them, particularly the ultra-common number 18. It felt like the rarity of each sticker came in waves. One month, number 20 would be all over your wall, and number 24 would be gold. The next, number 5 would be hated for being everywhere and number 29 would be hated for being nowhere. It was dynamic, and at 10c a pop, maddeningly addictive. Never did we stop to realise that something had gone fundamentally wrong – the stickers had overtaken the gum.

Not that we didn’t have fun with the gum; we were buying so many pieces trying to get those rare stickers, we’d end up with a tonne of the stuff. At one point, we had a contest to see how many pieces we could fit in our mouths. I’m man enough to admit that I won, with 23 pieces. When I finally spat it out, it looked like a tennis ball-sized brain.

The addiction worsened. We bought out the corner shop’s entire supply of Street Fighter gum, and the wait while the shopkeeper reordered was murder. When they finally arrived, we were furious – he’d ordered the wrong gum. The Street Fighter box was red, and in his ignorance he’d ordered another red box. Unfortunately, this red box was of gum with lame tattoos. Tattoos! We shouted at him for getting the wrong ones, and he informed us that he’d only get the Street Fighters back if we bought him out of the tattoos.

We looked like Kat Von D by the time the next box of Street Fighters showed up, and when it did, it came with a surprise. The shopkeeper didn’t just hand us our sacks of gum; he gave each of us a sticker album. This was a revelation – finally, we had a place to put our stickers. The album featured a series of monochrome placeholders for each sticker, which you’d then cover up once you got the corresponding sticker. At last we discovered just how many of the damn things comprised the whole set: 33.

All of a sudden, the race was on to complete your album. Double after double, piece after piece. Former commons became rare, former rares became wallpaper, but the true ultra-rares finally became apparent. By the end of the year, three of us had near complete albums. Only one sticker remained elusive – number 33.

It wasn’t like it was semi-rare, and only one asshole kid who wouldn’t trade it had one. It wasn’t like it was mega-rare, and you’d seen one once stuck to a bus stop, half torn off. It wasn’t even like it was SUPER-rare, and you’d gotten a misprint with the bottom half of number 32 and the top of 33.

There just wasn’t a 33.

We bought hundreds of stickers between us. We literally could have wallpapered an entire room with number 18. None of us ever, EVER got number 33. It was so damn rare that I’ve never even seen its image anywhere on the internet or elsewhere (UPDATE: RAE over at the amazing Street Fighter Miscellany has found the image. Not the sticker though. That ain’t happening.).

The monochrome facsimile on the back of the album stared out at us, mocking us. It waited and waited for us to finally open a 33, peel it from the backing and affix it, covering up the shame of an unfinished album. But the relief never came, and before long the shopkeeper had sold out once more, and informed us that the supplier had run out.

That’s right, we’d bought out the supplier, and still no number 33.

That was 1998, and this is 2012. This has tormented me for 14 years, and I suspect that in a cruel twist of fate, it will take another 19 until this is resolved.

The internet has proven useless. I have never, ever seen the album on any site, anywhere. The only evidence that they ever existed outside of the album I still own was a long-since-completed auction on eBay Germany for Street Fighter Alpha kaugummibilder, and another site selling a German equivalent of my album.

But it’s not my album.

There are two companies listed on the back of my album. Vidal Golosinas made the gum, and still makes confectionery today. Kuroczik Susswaren (sweets), on the other hand, appears to have made the stickers, and many other sets along with them, but it’s unclear whether or not they’re still in business.

Long ago, I accepted the fact that I’m almost completely alone in the world in owning (and caring about) this sticker album. This incomplete sticker album. The worst part is, it can never be complete. I’ve never even found the gum again, let alone the album.

I may own one of the rarest items in the world, and let me tell you, it’s a horrible feeling. So now I’m here, the last attempt at raising some kind of awareness of this. I could be completely wrong, and this Super Album could be completely common. Someone out there might have a room covered in number 33. I’ve never wanted to be wrong about something this much in my life. If you do know something…anything…let Wayning Interests know.

But somewhere, deep in the back of my mind, I know I’ve got this curse for life. Look upon it, ye Mighty, and despair.




20/20 VISION

20 striking movie posters from 1992.

It’s been 20 years since these films were released, which should make some of you out there feel mighty old. I know I do; I saw a few of these in the cinema, at which time The Godfather was twenty years old. Incidentally, 1992 was also the year Bob Peak died. Peak is considered to be the father of the modern Hollywood movie poster, and his influence is noticeably absent in the posters below.

Here, in no particular order, are the most striking posters for each of these notable films.