Aug '02 [Home]
Screen Plays East
This is the Public, the best place to see the action. Some go for the Saloon, but it's all suits talking business and bullshit. The Ritz Lounge is the place to take your parents when they're old and grey.
The thing about the Public is the buzz. You don't get that anywhere else. Besides, the screens and service refresh just as fast; they wash the floor in downtime and the toilets are clean. There's Old Lennie squatted in his usual spot against the side wall. You see him through the crowd? He's the guy with the doleful expression tearing up another loser. No peace today. Lennie never learns. He must have put enough dollars on way outsiders to have retired easy. He has a daughter up the coast would look after him, but he's hooked till he goes.
The guy in the check suit under main screen is Dinger. Dinger will never get the inside quivers shaking Lennie's heart to death, but the whisky might get him. Meantime, he plays shorts and evens and those shark's teeth of his smile a lot.
The shifty guy lipping his ear is Kel, his runner with the kid gangs that hang around outside the age barrier on the Outer. The Gaming Squad had it pushed back another 50 metres, but it makes no difference except there's some shade. It's around 40c most days.
You can see their side of it. They can steal and game among their friends, with enough spirits to forget the melanomas, or have a government cell and two meals a day at the corporate brothels and the farms.
Dinger's odds on to have picked TelstraCorp's reliability audit coming in above 75. He'd also go for Rainbow winning regional city of the week. The pros all spotted the play in that on-line news conf last week.
Kel would have laid off with the kids for 40 percent of their winnings. He doesn't do it for his cut, he likes to act king and look for the girls who are desperate enough to bet long. They learn to hate Kel, but they never learn how to gamble.
OK, so zip your cheater and listen. There are some simple rules: Don't play Official Stats, except weekends when the news wires have more time to analyse them. The Corps' quarterlies are shorts and evens for anyone who has a biz-letter account. Soaps is popular 'cos it pays lows every hour, but who wants to watch enough of them to make a living? My auntie does 'cos she lives in a dream world where everyone has a smile, food, clothes and a family home.
Religion is tricky on account of they use a lot of old language to disguise what's what. You can click for translation, but I reckon the people doing it, especially from Arabic and Hindi, are creaming off.
You don't bet on any Official Policies unless you're the guy with the casting vote or his runner. That's why they're longest odds outside of world peace and world's end, which is shorter than peace except at Christmas. Lennie's always crapping out on them. He's still around since a few of us remember him when he was king of the screens. We buy him shorts the government has rigged to pay out to the dills, you know, the usual thing: today's unemployment rate, nurse's numbers, a state school closing, or some bozo Chinese film star up for a knighthood.
Another thing, and don't think there isn't plenty more you have to learn yourself: Nobody in his right mind takes any of the spruikers yelling 20-1 on a team to tops of the National first season. I couldn't care a stuff that the new owner is a Packer or a Lew, those people own both ends and the middle.
If you want sports, best go for a trifecta or a quaddie on whose taking a bribe. But don't do it until you've got form for a whole team. Cricket's easier to track 'cos there's fewer people, or baseball. The sevens Asia rugby is so obvious it's pays worse than evens. Jacko, that guy wearing the plush leather over there, he's full-time on one team in National Footy. He started wearing that Russian leather coat end of last season, so it's odds-on he's making enough to pay bribes himself.
The guys in yellow tanks over green shirts are spruikers for the Big 5 gaming corps. They're like mosquitoes, but don't spray them, otherwise you'll get thrown out. And I mean, thrown—the big guys with grey everything? Be cool, ignore the spruikers' eyes and don't talk. They fly off to test the next sucker.
You sound like a guy who's interested in Business. Let's move into this screen booth and check out the B-screen. Okay, here's Coles shuffling their feet about a pay-out on a mass product recall. 20-1 sound good until you read the Code exclusions. It's worth an evens if, say, the product is oil-based, 'cos the company can lay off the losses in clawback with the recyclers. You got to read the specialist screens and e-letters to know that sort of thing. Gaming's a global business and this is all about odds and values.
That's why I stick with Gambling Life's Australian edition, which is run out of the abandoned racecourse at the Ponds. One of the Sun tipsters jumped at the right moment and ran with his own e-ditions after those terrorists brought in some equine disease. People switched to gaming at home in a big way after that. He roped in a mate from Hong Kong who reads and writes Chinese.
You know anybody who goes Outside to watch sports anymore? No? Neither do I. There's dopes who still think StadCorp fills the grounds with real fans. I went once out of curiosity. That was enough. What they do is give away a free 250 mil Coke and a Chiko to the kids gangs and the Others. The first 200 to the gates with actual money get the option of a MacSpecial and a seat in the Members'. Not that they see anything except the guards. The holograms of the players are strictly for the broadcast on LotusCable.
The practice sessions you see on screen news are real. They use that underground oval near Richmond station. The cameras and the scenery are all set up. It's real neat. I did a spot with one of the Marketing Managers. They book the scene for an hour and just shunt the teams over. They go to screen soon as they've tied up the billings. You can tell there's a practice on sometimes. The M-trains on that line get held up when a team special goes through non-stop to the spur.
Yeah, security is the thing, but we got here, all right? A little sweat is better than being cooped up in the unit. It's okay since they put the direct line through to Gaming City and armed guards in every coach. Just make a move out of line and you're good as dead. That's what people like heh, certainty means safety.
But heck, I'm a professional, and that's what you're paying me for. Life has people covering the main time zone markets, with an extra on trends in out-of-the-way zone gaming alternate days. It's fun to bet on cockroach races in Oaxaca. They're Upside. The roaches and the shadows are real, you can tell. Or there's the Inuit sled races. It's the one place where there's any ice or snow. The odds can be pretty good but TABCorp hits your winnings with Oversea rate, and the Gov takes its cut, of course.
I buy Life's premier service for the hour lead on the day and night main editions, and the rumours column. After that it's plain old legwork around the web and hitting the keys before the 60 minutes is up.
I got lucky talking up a particular screen sister who's sharp and laughs. Shireen allows me 10 seconds over, using a command string which won't rouse the Wire Agency. We get cool together but she's in some bunker outside Kuala Lumpur.
Anyway, just wait while I was talking there was a Life rumours that deserved a check from sources and got it. This is a site called NewsPix. It's a global picture archive. Access is by a monthly fee. See that guy at back far right of the official picture? The one with the mo. Yeah, that shot was taken only last week after the holo-conf for the new carbon agreement. This is a lucky sleeper. I'm going to lay 500 at tens on BHP-Billiton hitting $1000 by Friday noon.
OK, that completes the research for this a.m.'s card. See how you rate against the market at 13.00.
First up, my short odds: that Christian assassin to be released from Long Bay (next Friday is the Christians' Good Friday, so he'll be showered with forgiveness). Salmon's grandson to sign for Essendon (he's on with a Sheedy clan grand-daughter). The Prime Minister will confirm the rumour of a welfare scheme for extreme disadvantageds, to be called 'workfree' (MurdochPoll says paid work is the sleeper issue for the May election.) Extra ticket there for Lennie.
OK, two mediums. First, WorldCorp to clear debt by putting Tasmania up for auction by month's end (the world's top hunting, shooting and fishing resort will sit nicely mid-range with SinoTrad's GobiLand and AntarcticEast).
Second, the Phar Lap clone off that old heart they kept bottled in the museum to win the Sony Melbourne Cup. (The jockey is related to the course owner.)
The long shot. This is where I stick out my neck and kiss intuition: New Labour to win next month. You say I'm crazy? It's all right to be like Lennie, once in a while.
Don't look at the stats, look at whose talking to who and about what. And do me a favour: If I'm not here on June 1st, you'll know why, so be sure Lennie gets this. Shireen looks good, she sounds good and the jetcat for KL is just in nice time after collecting my winnings.
(Russell Griffin, 58, has been an international journalist, PR manager, bus driver and teacher. He is trying his hand at short stories after five years on his first novel, an adventure romance that links California and the Australian Outback with terrorism and greed. He's just begun his second. "Screen Plays East" is his first contribution to the magazine.)
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