Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The Sacrifices Of Age.

Considering that my last post was about a website that collected snippets of overheard conversations I thought I'd share with you a conversation that I overheard today.

I was walking past Flinders Street Train Station in the city when I overheard the following exchange between a mother and daughter.

Mother: You're four today.

Daughter: But I'm five.

Mother: Yeah, but if anybody asks you're four.

Daughter: But I'm five.

Mother: I know you are, but if anyone asks while we're on the train, you just tell them that you're four.

Daughter: But I'm five.

Mother: Yes you are, but today we're going to pretend that you're four.

Daughter: Why?

Mother: It doesn't matter. Just tell anyone who asks that you are four years old.

Daughter: But I'm five.

Mother: Yes, but Mommy only has a certain amount of money. So just for today you can be four years old and have an ice cream, or you can be five years old and go without.

It's nice to see that Australian kids are learning that occasionally you need to lie to get what you want... But then again, with role models like our current world leaders is that any real surprise?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

In Passing...

I've got a slightly annoying habit (well probably more than one to be honest, but for now we'll focus just on the one). Anybody who's ever gone for coffee with me is probably aware of it.

You'll be sitting there, telling me something of the utmost importance about your life (or my life, or the country, or the world, or the universe, or the nature of all things, etc) when suddenly my eyes will glaze over. With some annoyance you'll realise that I'm no longer listening to you.

I know this is particularly rude and has resulted in my being accused of only ever being interested in myself, but the truth of the matter is that I'm not conciously ignoring you. No, the odds are that I'm eavesdropping on another conversation.

I can't help it. Maybe it's due to the fact that my ears are particularly sensitive due to working as a sound tech, but when I catch the edges of something interesting or odd in someone else's conversation I can't help but tune in. Which means I end up being doublely rude - I'm ignoring you and I'm listening in on a conversation to which I shouldn't be privy.

No matter what I do I don't seem able to train myself out of this habit, so please consider this post my apology if I've ever done it to you. Maybe you can take solace in the fact that I'm not the only one who engages in this little habit.

Whilst checking out a few other blogs I stumbled on "In Passing", a collection of overheard conversations. This site kept me entertained for a good hour at least, so I thought it was only fair that I share it with all of you.

At the very least it might make you a little more inclined to forgive me when I tune out next time we go for coffee.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Old Friends, Surprise Visits and a question for those in the know.

A pleasant surprise this evening in the form of an unexpected visit from Jared and his girlfriend Ingrid. They're both in Melbourne for the New Years Eve (and Day) festivities.

I've just gotten home after a wander down Brunswick Street where we consumed a few beers. It was lovely to catch up, and especially nice to hear what everyone in my old home-town is up to... But it begs the question - Why does it seem that everybody is getting married (or engaged (or divorced for that matter))? Anyone would think that we're starting to grow up and take this life thing seriously.

Whilst we're on the subject of old friends, I had a question that I hoped someone out there might be able to answer (Hal or Euan I'm looking at you)... I was reading Alex Burn's blog the other day (as found via a link on Chris' blog) and saw a reference to an artist/writer named Xtian.

My question is: Is this the same Xtian who used to edit the Canberra-based creative writing magazine "Dreams of a Limegreen Catsuit"?

I assume it is, but wasn't so sure. Anybody know for certain?

Warning: Previously Undiscovered Terrorist Threat.

Today I witnessed a previously unrecognised terrorist threat. How do I know it was a terrorist threat? Easy, it terrified me so completely that I felt the need to come home and gripe about it on this blog.

Before you assume the obvious I should point out that I'm not speaking about Osama sitting in a cave on dialysis somewhere (thanks to Michael Moore for reminding us just how sick this elusive terrorist leader is), nor am I referring to Mr "Didn't you know that I'm Amish?" Saddam who was recently discovered hiding in an Iraqi basement (shame there was no Weapons of Mass Destruction there... but hey! I'm sure they'll turn up one day. After all John Howard wouldn't lie to us... would he?), and I'm not even talking about George W locked away from the press in the Oval Office (where, if one listens very carefully, you may just hear the great leader ask his favorite question "Why does Dad look so embarrassed when I open my mouth?), No the threat that I'm speaking of has it's origins much closer to home.

Now I'm all for personal freedoms but can someone please tell when it became fashionable for overweight women in their forties and fifties to wear boob tubes?

You know the ones- the tight pastel coloured things that have glitter covered letters spelling words like: Hustler, Babe, Slut, Hot Thang, Sex Kitten and the like. The sort of clothes that even look tacky on the sixteen year old girls they're are designed for.

Am I just becoming extremely conservative? Is that why this new concept horrifies me so much? More importantly, does that mean that I might be about to start voting Liberal? Did I just miss the memo about this new style in elderly casual wear? It definitely seems to be an acceptable fashion statement. At least I can only assume that is if the large number of middle-age and elderly women wearing these boob tubes, at the local shopping mall today, is anything to go by.

I don't mean to become a fashion Nazi, but maybe it's time the Australian Government commissioned some Fashion Police.

Better still, maybe common sense could prevail. Ladies, here's a simple rule to live by- If you wouldn't let your fifteen year old daughter leave the house wearing it maybe you should think twice about putting it on.

This has been a Captain Coincidence public service announcement.

And remember - Stay Alert, not alarmed. And please, for my sake, do your best to dress well.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Tis' The Season.

So this is Christmas and what have I done?

The truth is not much.

Mostly I've been busy unpacking stuff into my new house.

Most of you would be aware that I moved in with Chris and Berin at the start of last week. They've both pretty well settled in, but due to my having a crazy week at work finishing off MTC's production of "Blithe Spirit" (and preparing for the next production "Les Liaisons Dangeruses") the majority of my stuff has been sitting in boxes.

So today, being my first day off in over three weeks, was a day of unpacking.

Still, I did find the time to go and have a very yummy XMAS lunch with Robyn, John Boy and Steven.

I hope you are all having a wonderful XMAS and that Food, Friends and Frivolity are the order of the day.

Me? I'm going to go and sit on my new balcony, watch the people in the park across the street (from where a stereo is providing the soundtrack to my day) and marvel at the Melbourne skyline (also viewable from my balcony. Boasting? Hell yeah!)

But before I go here's a quick XMAS tidbit about me - I hate XMAS carols. Loathe them with a passion. Call me a "Bah Humbug" if you like but the two worst things about XMAS are carols and decorations in October (don't get me started on the commercialisation of XMAS, we'd be stuck here all day).

There is an exception though.

For some strange reason Judy Garland's rendition of "Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas" never fails to tug at my heart strings.

There you go - Something you probably didn't know about me.

Consider it my XMAS gift to you.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Propaganda, Feminism and the Titanic.

In addition to my post from yesterday the Age has this story.

Obviously the journos from the Age aren't reading this website because here's yet another story about aslyum seekers that is NOT a story. Propaganda dressed as news is still propaganda...

And another thing... Fair enough that if the children are forced (ARE not MIGHT BE) then there is a major story to be had here, but why is it such a major event if the women decide to join the men in the hunger strike? What has happened to equality of the sexes? Don't we treat women and men equally? If so, does it really matter which sex of asylum seeker is fasting? Shouldn't the story just be that asylum seekers are fasting, fullstop?

It would appear that the values of the media have regressed to the era of the Titanic - "Women and children first."

Then again, maybe that would explain the whole "Children Overboard" affair.

Arrrrgh! My inner feminist is raging... now I just need to find my political iceberg.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Just the facts Van!

One of the big news stories of the last few days has been this story. For those of you who came in late, Amanda Vanstone called a press conference and has made a statement in regards to the hunger strike currently occurring in the refugee processing centre in Nauru (did anybody even know this country existed before the Tampa?) her statement: That women and children MIGHT be intending to join the hunger strike.

Pretty sensational stuff. Those nasty immoral asylum seekers who are trying to force their way into our country might be going to force their children to starve... But wait a minute let's have a look at her statement.

The statement is that they MIGHT be going to do it. Not that the HAVE done it, just that they MIGHT do it. What else MIGHT they be about to do? They MIGHT all start a local amateur Elvis impersonation club. They also MIGHT be about to build a giant hot air balloon and sail over the Antartic. And just maybe they MIGHT all be about to announce that they are secretly Kylie Minogue fans.

What somebody MIGHT do is not a news story. Did you catch that? It's NOT A NEWS STORY. A News story is when someone actually DOES something.

All this news story does is allow the Government to further demonise the asylum seekers on Nauru and keep the border protection issue at the forefront of the nation's news agenda. What's more the Asylum seekers have no right of response, so they don't even have the ability to issue a statement saying that the the women and children MIGHT not be joining the hunger strike.

My question to you then is: If this isn't a news story (which it isn't) then why did 4 of the ABC news bulletins I heard yesterday run it as their main story?

I think that journalists in this country need to start taking a long hard look at the stories they are choosing to report and just whose interests their stories are accommodating.

Just the facts Mam', just the facts.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Stereotypes and Stomachs.

I promise that this blog isn't turning into merely The Age re-run site, but I thought that today's odd spot was worth a mention.

Germans should lighten up, says their president. Johannes Rau, 72, who retires next year, said his countrymen's faces at times made him think they had indigestion. "Germans walk around ... as if they have too much gastric acid," he said. "I wish they'd relax."

I can't help but wonder if this story is somehow related to my last post.

Maybe that's why backpackers make me nervous...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Food and Fame: A match made in Germany.

I've told you before about Bethany Hamilton the wholesome 13 year old christian girl who lost her arm in a shark attack and achieved instant notoriety, well today I'd like to look at the other side of the same coin.

Compared to Bethany, Armin Meiwes took a slightly different path to fame. Where Bethany reached celebrity status by being devoured Armin made the headlines due to what he was devouring.

Now I'm sure that you've all heard about Armin's (the Press call him "The German Cannibal"... Although he claims he's only one of 800) exploits and witnessed the media storm that has resulted from his trial, so I'm sure you won't be overly surprised to hear that he's currently in discussions about selling the movie rights. Not only has Armin achieved fame through his actions, but it looks like he might just make quite a bit of money off consuming Bernd-Juergen Brandes. Some how that concept seems a bit wrong to me. Then again maybe I'm just waiting for the TV station brave enough to offer him his own cooking program.

After reading The Age's story on the movie rights discussion I was fascinated to find out that Cannibalism is technically not a crime in Germany... I don't quite know what to make of that, but wouldn't it create a shit-storm if Armin ends up getting off on that technicality?

An interesting twist on the whole thing though is this little tidbit from The Age:

"Germany's confessed cannibal killer Armin Meiwes has been sent a vegetarian cookbook and a Christmas hamper full of vegie burgers and tofu. An animals rights group is behind the stunt and says it would be a major coup if it could convert Meiwes to vegetarianism."

I told you before that I was prepared to be mauled by a rabid wombat in my attempt to becoming famous (don't ask how it went... Needless to say that any reporters I might have spoken to were too busy laughing to write a story about it) but please don't become nervous around me after this post. I know that cannibalism is wrong and evil and as such I would never consider doing it... Unless I was part of a soccer team crashed in the Andes... Or maybe if I was lost at sea in a life boat with a handful of other people... Come to think of it, even if I was lost in downtown Melbourne I might consider it.

While we're on the subject, anyone feel like meeting me for brunch tomorrow?

Saturday, December 13, 2003

More Shameless Self-Promotion

My latest article is up on In The Mix.

This time I caught up with T-rek from Bionikworld who you've probably heard on Triple J lately.

Go check it out if that's your type of thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Blog for PM

One of my favourite passtimes is bagging everybody's favourite prime minature John Howard, so imagine my joy when I discovered the John Howard blog.

After seeing that it seems I'm but a mere amateur in the bagging John Howard stakes.

A nod to Dean it was on his blog that I first saw this link. The "Ask a Question" area alone will keep me entertained for weeks.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Leaders, Louts and Leftys.

Sorry it's been a while since my last post I've been busy with work and packing...

So, what do I feel like ranting about today? Political leaders.

I've been meaning to make a comment on Mark Latham's appointment as Labour leader since last week, but never late than never.

At the very least Latham is going to make federal politics at lot more entertaining. He is forthright about what he thinks and seems to garner quite a bit of respect from the public and other politicians. He's got some very interestig policies as far as Health, Education and Social Services are concerned, but it's interesting to note that when it comes to immigration and defense he's just as hard-line as the Liberals... Why is it that Labour doesn't feel it can lighten up on those issues?

Should Liberal be afraid? I find it interesting that so far the Liberals have only attacked Latham on personal grounds (leaving his wife, breaking taxi drivers arms (and who hasn't wanted to do that at some point?) and the like) it'll be interesting to see how they respond to him as a politician (which is why he's there remember). Still, I think The Canberra Times made the best comment when Geoff Pryor did this cartoon the day after Latham was selected.

As for Lunch's question about which Australian Idol contestant Mark Latham would be... probably Millsie the Aussie Larakin... but only if Bronwyn Bishop can be Courtney Act.

While we're talking political leaders... I was dismayed to see that Andrew Barlett is going to stay on as leader of the Australian Democrats... from all reports he's got a considerable drinking prolem. I know that the Democrats are pretty forgiving but surely when someone has a problem like this he needs to be given time to recover. I find it hard to believe that that time will be available to him while he's still leader of a political party.

Then again maybe he HAS to stay on... I can't think of anyone off the top of my head that would be able to fill his shoes...

Any suggestions?

Friday, December 05, 2003

Mutually Assured Distraction.

Australia has joined "The Son of Star Wars".

I'm overjoyed... no really... and decidely sarcastic as well.

I thought it was made clear that a missle defence program was a bad idea as far back as the Reagan era. Both financially and socially it sucks as a concept... but it seems that America is convinced it's a great idea... and Australia's going along for the ride.

Still, part of me is more confortable with the idea of being part of it when the other option is being left out.

Now here's an idea:

What if a range of countries (say China, America, Britain, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, France, India... etc etc etc) were to collaborate in building a World-Wide missle defence program and then they let the UN run it?

Everybody chips in (through money, land or research) and the end result is that no matter WHERE a nuclear missle is launched, or WHO it's aimed at, or even WHO launched it in the first place, it gets blown out of the sky... thus ending the need for countries to have nuclear weapons at all... nice way to remove a nuclear threat is you ask me...

Maybe I'm just being naive in thinking that that might make the world a better place in which to live... Hey! Everybody's entitled to their delusions...

I know it'll never happen, it's just that I get a bit nervous about America having such a system when nobody else does... yeah it makes them safe, but what keeps the rest of the world safe from them...

I also know that there are some negatitives to my idea... not every country would be able to have an equal amount of input (which leads to the "if you didn't pay for it" arguement)... Also it would encourage countries to look for otherways to use nuclear weapons (suitcase bombs and the like as Cyzilla pointed out to me)... but surely it's an idea that should be put on the table.

Of course there's always the chance that Kofi Annan would end up with delusions of grandeur and end up holding the world to ransom with his finger on the World Wide Missle Defence Program Button... but I can think of worse dictators... and at least he doesn't hail from texas...

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Reasons For Feeling Guilty: #549

Yesterday I purchased an album that I had been searching for for some time.

After dragging my girl friend through a number of heavy metal specialist stores/tattoo palours I eventually found a store that stocked what I was after, and so went home the proud owner of the Einsturzende Neubauten album "Halber Mensch".

For those of you who aren't aquainted with Einsturzende Neubauten they are one of Germany's most popular industrial bands (which means that there music sounds like a matured version of what I used to do with pots and pans as a kid)... It's loud. It's in German. There's sounds of things breaking. In short... It Rocks... but it's maybe not everybody's cup of tea.

Imagine my surprise when I got my new purchase home to find that some helpful soul had put a flier not much bigger than a postage stamp inside my CD cover.

It starts:

"Help Einsturzende Neubauten in their struggle against horrible treatment by their former record label by boycotting the following albums:
*Zeichnugan des Patienten OT
*Halber Mensch
*Fuenf au def nach oben offen Richterskala
*Haus der Luege"

There is then a small quote from a member of the band saying that he's very sorry and that he'll make the albums available again as soon as possible.

You'll note that one of the albums I meant to be boycotting is "Halber Mensch"- the album I just bought...

Damn... That'll be me feeling guilty then... Especially since I have no intention of taking it back.

So kids, (and here's my take on a Donald Rumsfeld quote) don't do what Graham Don't does... Don't buy the above albums, but do check out Einsturzende Neubauten for an entirely different audio experience... and don't feel guilty about doing it no matter what your neighbours may say.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Adventure Log: Earthcore

Last saturday, largely resembling a modern day Burke & Wills (that is if our car were a camel and we were older and fitter... Then again maybe we didn't resemble Burke & Wills at all) Chris and I set North from Melbourne on a mission of discovery. Our destination? Earthcore!

With a supply of Red-Bull, V, and guarana tablets we did our best to follow the directions on the map downloaded from the Earthcore website.

After two and a half hours of conversation, political musings, car-stereo repairs and listening of fine tunes we arrived at a dirt road turn off. 15 minutes later we'd past a variety of cars parked off-road, had a pleasant conversation with a very tired security team who proceeded to search our car for asylum seekers, fitted two cars on a one lane road, spotted spot lights playing on clouds (no bat signal though) and arrived in the car-park/camp sight/dirt paddock at the edge of Earthcore.

So how was it?

Very cool. We caught almost all of PQM's set which was ultra-cool... the rest of the music being offered wasn't really to my liking (a touch too much Psy-Trance) but the vibe of the whole thing was amazing.

Plenty of shops... plenty of colour... fireworks... film screens (images of tripping hippies from the 70's... I think most of the people watching were just trying to spot their parents)... lots of people younger than me... lots of people having tons of fun... Definitely an event I could see myself going to for the whole weekend.

Then, around 6am, we were witness to an even cooler lighting display... and this one was natural!

With lightning on 3 sides, and the first drops of rain landing around us, Chris and I decided that it was time to make a move. Soft I know... but with that many cars and that much dirt between us and tar-clad road we thought it was best to lead instead of follow.

I'm sorry that work commitments didn't allow me to go for the entire weekend, but at least an adventure was had on the one night we could get there. Bring it on for next year.

And so, unlike Burke & Wills we made it home again within a day... Of course the guarana had me staring at the ceiling while I attempted to will myself asleep for the next five hours... but that's a small price to pay.