An update on life and what-not

Hi guys, hope everyone is well and that life is treating you kindly as it is me.  I’ve just found out that I’ve been admitted into the Grad Diploma in Library and Information Services for next year, so go me!!! One step closer to my ultimate dream: to work in the Death Star. Yes, you read that right. The Geelong Regional Library had a recent facelift (well actually it was completely rebuilt) and now it looks like this:

GLHC

Pretty cool, huh? To be honest though, when most of my townsfolk saw the first plans for the new building, it was fair to say that they were a tad sceptical, especially since it was going to be built where the old library once stood, right beside the heritage-listed town hall. I think a lot of people were worried it was going to look jarring and strange. I just liked the Lucas-inspired design. I still call it the Death Star, and it’s been my personal ambition to work there, or at the very least gain a work placement spot there while I do my Diploma, so that I can continually make feeble jokes about working in the Death Star. I know … I’m a Star Wars nerd. Whatchagonnado?!

Speaking of which, I officially love Eddie Izzard. You may wonder how that ties in. Well, I’ve got three words for you: Death. Star. Canteen. Yes, I’m going to. Don’t complain, you know you love it …

 

Anyhow, lots of stuff going on with me at the moment. My son just had top surgery two weeks ago and finally looks how he’s supposed to look.  Now we can start getting fit by going swimming and cycling and he’s not going to be hampered by wearing a binder, which is terribly restrictive with regards to movement and even just breathing. He seems much happier now that it’s finally done, too. Much more confident in himself and less anxious about how people are going to perceive him. If I have anything negative to say about the whole experience it’s that his father has had very little contact with him in the past few weeks.  You’d think that a person would be concerned that everything went well and that his son is feeling better etc but there has barely been a murmur from him and although I’m not surprised, I am annoyed.  I realise that he’s still having difficultly accepting his son’s transition but for fuck’s sake, it’s just gender. It’s not like somebody’s died, here, or been replaced by a pod-person (if anyone’s been replaced by a pod-person it would be my ex, the one person I thought would be cool and open-minded about stuff like this, but no). Alister’s the same person he’s always been. The way I look at it is, I haven’t lost a daughter. I’ve gained a son. The son I always felt I had anyway, but he was just hidden beneath a social construct called gender.

And that brings me to my next subject. I recently read an article about a female rabbi whose child had recently come out to her and her husband as gender fluid. She accepted him wholeheartedly, which is what any decent mother concerned about her kid would do. And what did she get for this? A fuck-tonne of vicious, senseless, ignorant bile from uneducated hicks, is what. Some of the comments were so bad, I felt like I was having a stroke. What is it with Americans and the transgender community?  Do they really not comprehend the difference between gender and sexuality? I had to block and report a couple of guys who were being particularly nasty toward not only the subject of the article but also myself and another person who chose to comment in a positive vein. Apparently we’re bleeding heart lefties/helicopter parents/politically correct social justice warriors for accepting our children as they are; supporting and loving them. Apparently we’re supposed to disown them, or put them in conversion therapy, or something. I don’t know … perhaps its the rampant religiosity over there that causes them to lack a few thousand fucking brain cells, but I’m over it.  Over trying to explain myself or my child to people. I’m just happy that he’s alive and safe and feeling much more confident in himself. And if people can’t deal with that, then they can go fuck themselves gently with a chainsaw. Over and out.

 

 

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I do marathons …. on Netflix

Hi, back again folks, hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year and that your resolutions last longer than Christmas Dinner.  Speaking for myself, I had planned to start swimming and cycling but I still haven’t managed to get a new tyre on my bike so that’s still on the back-burner.  It all comes down to money, doesn’t it? Nothing is free in this world.  And as usual this Christmas I’ve had to get another advance to tide me over until after Jan 1.  I make the resolution EVERY DAMN YEAR to save for Christmas, or else start buying presents well in advance, but somehow it never happens, and I leave it til the last freaking minute.

Anyway, enough crying poor.  The one thing I can do while waiting to start my post-grad study in February is write … but we all know that’s never gonna happen. I’ll probably wind up binge-watching Netflix or Foxtel On Demand (which I’ve just discovered I can watch on my computer now that my TV’s bitten the dust).  Bye bye free-to-air TV – not that there was anything but reality bullshit on there anyway.  But Netflix … Wow. I mean, I want to give its creator a big friendly hug.  It’s one of the best inventions of the 21st century. I know it’s early to say that, but it’s true.  Some of my early favourites have been Gotham, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale, The Killing, Scream, Jessica Jones and Anne with an E.  Plus it’s also great for catching up with shows I used to watch but never caught the whole series in its entirety, like Gilmore Girls or The 100.  So here are my top five shows. Why? Just because I can.

 

5. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

A reboot of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch (which honestly, I thought was a pretty unimaginative title), this show brings the character from the Archie comics to life as well as into this century in terms of more adult content instead of the family-friendly adventures of the original.  Salem, the cat is back, but in this incarnation, he doesn’t talk. Or he does, but only Sabrina seems to be able to converse with him because he’s her familiar.   Harvey’s there as well but he’s a more serious, tormented soul this time around, with an alcoholic, emotionally abusive father who blames him for his brother’s death in the mines.  Sabrina’s aunts are also less peppy than the 1990’s version, and are much more invested in the religion behind their witchcraft than their predecessors. Which brings me to my one and only gripe with this new version. Witchcraft, aka Wicca, or Paganism, was around BEFORE Christianity. It didn’t spring up as a response or alternative to it, as Satanism did.  Yet Sabrina’s witchcraft seems to be a form of Satanism rather than pure Druidic or Pagan witchcraft.  They praise and revere The Dark Lord (for instance, saying “For Satan’s sake” or “Thank Satan”) in everyday conversation, and pray to him. That’s Satanism, not Wicca. I’m not sure if that was the show’s intention, but if not, and its supposed to be Pagan witchcraft they’re practising, then they’re doing it all wrong!  But I do really like the new, darker edge to the show, particularly the inclusion of its LGBT characters (love Cousin Ambrose, he’s a cutie, although I suspect he’s inspired by Felix from Orphan Black), and the three sisters; but most important of all … That house. I FUCKING LOVE THAT HOUSE. Give me that house!!!!!

 

sabrina house2

 

4. Riverdale

Another one from the Archie stable, this is probably not for everyone, as some may find it too much of a teen drama for their liking, but I enjoy the story lines involving conspiracies around Jason Blossom’s murder, The Black Hood and now the whole mystery surrounding Gryphons & Gargoyles (an obvious nod to Dungeons & Dragons) and who the Gargoyle King really is.   I like the way the writers have managed to weave in references to popular culture, like the episode parodying The Breakfast Club, and the insinuation that The Farm Polly (and now Alice) became involved with is nothing more than a cult.  Some parts have been a little cringe-worthy, however – I’m talking specifically about the conversation in Season 1 where Jughead talks about his beanie and being edgy (although that’s not the word he used, but for the life of me I can’t remember. Trying to repress that particularly memory). And I mean, Jughead?!  As a name? Seriously? I know it originated in the comic books, but surely the character has to have an actual proper name. If he was christened Jughead (and his sister Jellybean) his parents need to be committed. Or incarcerated. Or both. I’d say they should never have been allowed to breed, but Cole Sprouse’s Jughead is a bit of a cutie, so I’ll hold off on that. My problem with his character is that he’s trying a little too hard to be broody and disaffected.  I think Veronica or Betty once referred to him as Riverdale’s Holden Caulfield. I haven’t read Catcher in the Rye in its entirety because it was the book John Lennon’s killer wanted everyone to read, but what I have read didn’t impress me. It came across as entirely too angsty and pretentious, if you ask me. There, i said it.  Sue me. As far as characters I do like,  I think Betty would have to be top of my list. She’s inquisitive, loves a good murder mystery, isn’t afraid to confront her fears and has a believable relationship with her mother, calling her out on her occasional hypocrisy.  She’s also really smart, as shown when she helps the girls escape the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.  Yay to Girl Power.

riverdale

 

3. Scream

I know this show has had its detractors, and I understand why.  The original movies, co-written by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven (creator of Nightmare on Elm street franchise), poked fun at traditional slasher movie lore and tropes, such as the blonde, big-breasted girl being chased by a homicidal maniac ‘going upstairs when she should be going out the front door. It’s insulting’ (Sidney, Scream 1994) as well as the “Sex gets you killed” rule.   The TV series aims to do this as well, but with more time to work with, they can pack more drama in and have the characters seem far more upset about the murder of their classmates than Sidney, Randy et. al.  Of course this means less opportunity for comedic relief, but we get that in the form of Noah and his best friend Audrey, who call their little crime-fighting duo “Bi-Curious and the Virgin”.  Audrey, played by Bex Taylor-Klaus of The Killing and Arrow fame (both Netflix originals), is an androgynous teen with a droll sense of humour and a secret, but I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to see  for yourself. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if I had to go gay for anyone (like, if I had a gun to my head), it would be someone like Audrey, because she’s funny, cute and I just love her hair.

The protagonist of the piece, Emma Duval, played by Willa Fitzgerald, is no Neve Campbell, and is at times almost insipid in her portrayal of the put-upon teen whose family has a dark secret.  I swear, if I saw her bite her lip one more time I was going to either switch off or scream at the TV “Get another expression you Kristen Stewart clone!”  I did feel sorry for her when her ex-boyfriend is murdered in front of her, mostly because of the way it’s done, but that’s where my sympathy ends. The character I feel the most sympathy for is poor Noah. Can’t the guy ever find luck in love? His girlfriends in both seasons 1 and 2 are killed off.  Please, can’t the meek just inherit the earth and be done with it?

scream-john-karna-bex-taylor-klaus.jpg

 

2.  Gilmore Girls

I know this wasn’t technically a Netflix original but to be fair, they did a reunion season of the show to update fans on what’s happening with the characters – something I need to watch again, considering I saw it when I first signed on and just finished watching the original seven seasons.  What I love about the new version is that a lot of the old characters came back – but some of them were almost unrecognisable. Miss Patty, for instance, played by Liz Torres, has lost a TON of weight. She looks fantastic.  My favourites on the show from the beginning are Lane. because she loved music so much she defied her Korean, devoutly religious mother in order to learn to play drums and join a band;  Paris, because even though she began as an enemy of Rory’s she wound up being one of her best friends, despite how intensely ambitious and competitive they both were.   The best male character?  Apart from Luke, (who I got annoyed with when he found out he had a daughter and felt he had to put his entire wedding to Lorelai on hold when really it was just an excuse), probably Brian. Yes, Brian. The weedy bass player from Hep Alien with the glasses. What is it with me and guys named Brian who play bass?!   I guess I like him because he always stood up for Lane when Zach treated her badly.  He wrote a song about Lane because Zach refused to, and was a great support when she had her twins.  I honestly think he really loved her in secret, because he wound up kissing her lookalike cousin at their wedding.

hep alien.jpg

 

  1. Gotham

I’ll admit this now: one of the main reasons I got addicted to this show was the performance of Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, or The Penguin as he’s more widely known. Not only adorable and funny, he brings such depth to a character that was initially pretty one-dimensional.   I also really like Cameron Monaghan’s Joker, although at times I think he can get a little too cartoonish, despite obviously channeling Heath Ledger’s version.   The origin story of Batman, or Bruce Wayne, is really so much more than the tale of how Batman became, well, Batman. There are so many well-rounded characters, so many villains to hate (and love), so many members of the ensemble cast that you end up caring about, like Jim’s partner, Harvey, played by Donal Logue, and Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler, who is more like a father to him.  There is also Dr Lee Thompkins, the love of Jim’s life who winds up an adversary in league with The Riddler (oops, sorry, spoiler).  Even though she’s technically a villain you can’t help but like her. Plus, she’s Morena Baccarin, and she was in Firefly. Enough said, I think!

gotham

 

…And they wonder why I’m an atheist.

Well, yet another Christmas has passed and what have we done? Women and children in Australia keep dying at the hands of abusive husbands, partners and exes, while the government chooses to look the other way and withhold funding for domestic violence services, not to mention refusing to chanage existing laws so that these bastards can’t track down their victims once they’ve left; priests and clergy from various denominations keep getting away with making inflammatory statements, blaming their victims, gays, and the weather for their predilections; paedophiles and rapists keep getting ridiculously lenient sentences for the most heinous crimes while victims are incarcerated for defending themselves. Doesn’t the world seem topsy-turvy to you?! It does to me. And maybe it’s just me but a lot of the rot in society seems to come not just from the patriarchy in general  – ie, men – but from one of the oldest institutions in the world – organised religion. I don’t care if you’re Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Jehovah’s Witness, Baptist or a revivalist. As far as I’m concerned, if you support an organised religion in terms of regular attendance, financial donations, etc, you inadvertently turn the other cheek to grievous, long-running, traumatic and disgusting child abuse.  The only way these so-called men of God are going to get the message is if people begin to leave the church in droves.

Just as an example of their utter hypocrisy, Archbishop Burke was recently quoted as saying gay couples should not be invited to family gatherings where children are present – just in case they catch gay, I guess. He used the excuse that children’s morality was at stake, forgetting of course that the biggest danger to children is the men in power in his own church. I know several gay couples who would never dream of harming a child, and the vast majority of the LGBT community is not attracted to children in any way. Unlike the grubs in dresses who preside over congregations with their bullshit rhetoric full of hate and pent-up lust. Have you ever noticed how preoccupied Christian religions are with sex, not just gay sex, but sex in general? It seems to be all they want to talk about. They somehow manage to cloak their obsessions in thinly veiled disgust but they’re about as transparent as a piece of cling-wrap. But the group I have the most contempt for are the parents of LGBT children who have reacted to their child’s coming out by disowning them, throwing them out of the house and refusing to have anything to do with them, all because of their sexuality, something they have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER.

I watched the HBO movie The Normal Heart last night, not for the first time mind you but this time around I think the thing that struck me most and put a tear in my eye was the way the sufferers of what was known as Gay-Related Immuno-deficiency Syndrome in the early ’80’s were treated by their families, hospitals and medical staff who were supposed to care for them, even funeral homes. Some mortuaries wouldn’t even handle the remains of an AIDS patient back then. One character died after being turned away at numerous hospitals and then was unceremoniously put in a garbage bag – because the authorities wouldn’t even provide a body bag – cremated and his ashes given to his mother in a large thick plastic bag.  They treated that human being like absolute rubbish for the simple crime of being gay and getting sick. The Normal Heart is a true story, by the way.  It’s a movie adapted from a play by Larry Kramer about the early days of the AIDS virus and the fight for funding and recognition from the government in the US, which at the time was headed by the Republican Reagan administration. Ronald Reagan did not even utter the word AIDS until September 17, 1985. Four full years after the virus was discovered and began to work its way through the gay community. The movie doesn’t say so but I’d wager a bet that the reason Reagan was forced to admit that there was a plague happening was because the disease was beginning to affect the straight community.

Another story that has prompted this post was that of Ruth Coker Burks, a woman who inherited a cemetery and used it to bury the AIDS patients she helped care for because their families abandoned them and refused to be responsible for burying them. All because, guess what? They were gay, and therefore an affront to God. She saw the best and the worst of humanity in those years, and most of the worst came from those who claimed to be Christians.  This woman has gone some way toward restoring my faith in humanity, because she saw a problem and did her best to solve it, having no personal stake in it whatsoever. She didn’t have a relative dying of AIDS. She just hated the way patients were treated by those who were supposed to love and care for them. So she took it upon herself to love and care for them. What an amazing human being.

Me too!!

Okay, I’ll admit to something here. When the “Me too” movement began in Hollywood in recent years, culminating in the deserved vilification, conviction and downfall of one of the greats in Bill Cosby, I was not convinced that it was a great day for society as a whole.   Sure, I was glad that a serial pervert and predator was unmasked and finally got what was coming to him, but like many I was well aware of how easy it would be to accuse a celebrity of wrongdoing in order to achieve fifteen minutes of fame for oneself. Especially if there are a few years – or even decades – between the alleged incident and the accusation.  Witnesses – if there are any – move away, die, or their memories become fuzzy.  People inevitably ask, why didn’t this person come forward sooner?

Well, as it has become evident in a more recent case against world renown scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, there’s a simple explanation for that. The woman involved, who claimed DeGrasse Tyson drugged and raped her, said that she’d told people what happened but that they insinuated she wouldn’t be believed if she went to the police with it because he was ‘such a nice guy’.  Also, why would he do something like that? He was married. Well, so was Bill Cosby. And Dustin Hoffman.  Their celebrity status, reputation as gentlemen and all-round nice guys precedes them. That’s not to say that I don’t believe there are genuine fame-hunters out there looking to increase their bank balance and visibility by accusing someone famous of something vile. Of course there are. It’s human nature, after all.  It’s just that, when you think about it, what do these women (and, occasionally, in the case of Kevin Spacey vs Anthony Rapp, men) – really have to gain from this?  Unless they’re paid by a magazine or TV show for their story, not much. Their own reputation, private life and motives are fodder for the court of public opinion. They’re torn apart, basically; called whores and liars on social media, and whenever their name is typed into Google in the future, this is what will crop up. Forever. So there’s not really much benefit to going to public with this kind of accusation.  Unless it’s true, and you genuinely fear for the safety of women (or men) in contact with the celebrity in question. Sometimes it’s not a matter of wanting to drag the famous person through the courts or destroy their career. It’s simply a way of warning people to be wary of certain celebrities, and to ensure that they’re never in a position to be victimised.  The trouble is, with the public warning comes the inevitable questions: Who is she? Why is she saying this about such a great, revered man? What does she get out of it? Well, I’ll answer that. Peace of mind. Vindication, I guess, if others come forward to validate their story. Harvey Weinstein is a case in point. One of the most powerful men in Hollywood has been castrated – figuratively at least – by the sheer number of women he groped, propositioned or outright raped over the years.  The women who came forward have to be feeling some kind of relief that their experiences have not been ignored, pushed aside or worse, not believed, and that he has been made to suffer for his actions.

On the flip side, there are celebrities who openly deny such allegations – which is their right – and even take the matter to trial, as Geoffrey Rush has done in the face of accusations that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed a colleague during a theatre production.  Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick was accused of assaulting a woman at his house, a accusation which was echoed by three other women as per the #Me Too movement, but their stories have been found to have absolutely no merit and charges have been dropped.  Guilty or innocent, a man’s career and reputation are at stake and you can’t blame them for defending themselves.  Guilty or innocent, their name is forever linked in people’s minds to these stories and rightly or wrongly, it colours perceptions about these famous men for a long time after the fuss has died down.  I hope readers realise that I don’t condone what any of these men have done (if it fact they are guilty). I’m just trying to present a balanced view of the issue and explain why my personal opinion of the #Me Too movement has changed.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those women who heard about Dustin Hoffman being accused of wrongdoing and thought his accusers are just trying to get their names in the papers.  After all, doesn’t the very name of the movement say it all? I could just hear the cries of indignant women, like seagulls, cawing, “Me too! Oh, me too! He brushed my breast in ’88 while taking our bows on stage! With his armpit!  I’m forever traumatised!” While some accusations are obviously OTT and you’d think, wow, why hasn’t that person gotten over that after forty-plus years, some are legitimate attempts to inform the public, and especially those in constant contact with the accused, about what these famous men are really like, behind closed doors.  Whatever I may think of the way they’ve chosen to represent themselves (I think the movement could be helped by a name change, for example), I applaud their courage and tenacity in the face of such public criticism and at times, outright opposition.  Because I was once one of those people who thought, around the time of the Kevin Spacey allegations: “Oh, for fuck’s sake, what’s next? Or rather, who’s next?  Keanu Reeves? Johnny Depp? (although his reputation hasn’t been helped by his acrimonious split from Amber Heard).  “Or worst of all … my childhood hero, Michael J. Fox?!”  Thankfully, this has not happened to any one of them – yet – and for that I’m eternally grateful. My judgement is intact.

It is – or rather, would be – truly mind-blowing and earth-shattering to hear that someone you idolised for years is nothing but a filthy pervert unable to keep his hands (or other parts) to himself.  Oh yeah, I know, there are those of you thinking, “Hell, if (insert name here) propositioned me I’d have a hard time beating him off” (pardon the pun).  Yeah, we get it.  But speaking personally, I’m of an age now where such talk is boring and infantile, and frankly, dismissive of the victims’ pain.  Because like it or not there are victims in this. And it would be a mistake to forget that.

Just an addendum to my previous post…

Hi guys, just updating my review on Bohemian Rhapsody. Someone on Facebook asked me why I only gave the film four stars when I clearly raved about it. Well, yes it was a great movie and I tend to judge that by how many times I look at my watch – the answer for this one was none – but there was one factor I would have changed if I could. I’ve been reading “Freddie Mercury – an intimate memoir by the man who knew him best” by his faithful PA, Peter “Phoebe” Freestone, and it occurred to me that even though Freestone had worked for Queen as a wardrobe supervisor on tour in America from 1979 and then as Freddie’s assistant – even his nurse – up until he died, he wasn’t even included in the movie. For someone who played such a large and important part of Freddie’s life, how he wasn’t even featured is a mystery to me, especially when Paul Prenter was; and he betrayed and was sacked by the singer for leading him down the garden path.  “Phoebe” as Freddie knew him, was a close friend and employee so I just wonder why May and Taylor, as executive producers of the movie, felt the need to leave him out. Just a thought.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody

As a long-time Queen and Freddie fan who took a day off high school in 1991 when I heard Freddie had died, I was excited to hear that there was a biopic in the works some five or six  years ago, with Sacha Baron Cohen attached to play the band’s legendary front man.  Fast forward to 2018 and the movie is finally here – and it’s everything I expected and more.  Sure there have been a few changes in the intervening years – Cohen was dropped (or left, not entirely sure what the situation was there apart from some disagreement about content) and Mr Robot’s Rami Malek was brought in.

Of course, with any Queen-related project the critics were going to be out in force. They’ve always had a hate on for the band, since the very beginning, and there have been a few less-than-complimentary reviews of the film so far, from complaints about time line issues to the fact that Rami isn’t a dead ringer for Freddie. Well, who is, I ask? How many Zanzibar natives do you know, personally, with his pronounced buck teeth, not to mention those cheekbones and hypnotic brown eyes?!  Rami nailed the accent and mannerisms, to the point where Brian May and Roger Taylor admitted to feeling a bit emotional watching his performance.  He also recreated Freddie’s onstage flamboyance perfectly.

As far as the timeline inaccuracies are concerned, it was a minor blight on an otherwise brilliant, enjoyable movie.  Most, if not all Queen fans know that We Will Rock You was written in 1977 not 1980 and that he wasn’t officially diagnosed with HIV until 1987, not shortly before Live Aid in 1985. Sure, he may have had symptoms before then and probably did, but it’s been well-documented that he informed the band of his diagnoses sometime after 1987.  I can however see why the changes were made.  If the film had run chronologically, with all timeline issues corrected, it would have been five hours long. Even for the most passionate and devoted Queen fan, that’s a big ask.

Another complaint is that only the most popular and well-known songs were used for the soundtrack. Well, that’s because they’re the most recognised songs by Queen and will appeal to even the most casual fan.  It’s not entirely true, either, by the way. Love of My Life was featured despite not being an instantly recognised song with constant radio-play.  Now I’m Here, Keep Yourself Alive and Seven Seas of Rhye are among other songs featured that aren’t considered Queen “classics” to the casual observer (although to devoted fans, just my saying that may well be akin to blasphemy).

Complaints aside, the film was well put together and told the story from a perspective that, while being about Freddie, was not Freddie-centric.  It was about the band as much as its enigmatic lead singer.  Gwilym Lee is a dead ringer for lead guitarist Brian May, and Ben Hardy as drummer Roger Taylor was a perfect foil for the more serious Lee. They bounced off each other with perfect comic timing. Quiet achiever John Deacon, on bass, was played by Joe Mazzello, who at times looked so much like “Deaky” that I’d do a double-take.  Simply put, the casting in this film was exceptional. And I just have to give a shout-out to Mike Myers as EMI boss Ray Foster, for that little quip “No teenager’s going to put this (Bohemian Rhapsody) on in their car and head-bang”. I seriously don’t know how he delivered that line with a straight face, considering his Saturday Night Live character Wayne Campbell did just that in the first five – sorry, six – minutes of Wayne’s World!  And the look on his face toward the end, while watching Queen’s legendary performance on Live Aid, was priceless.  Although the character was a fictional mock-up of various record executives and never actually existed, he was based partially on EMI boss Roy Featherstone, who DID like Queen’s music but, as was shown in the film, had his reservations about the length of the song.

Other villains of the piece were journalist Shelly Stern and Allen Leech as notorious sycophant Paul Prenter, the man who aided and abetted the mid-career downfall of Freddie Mercury (and was at least partially to blame for the partying and debauchery that led to Freddie contracting AIDS).  Michelle Duncan portrayed Stern, a journo who badgered Freddie during a press conference promoting the much maligned Queen album Hot Space, zeroing in on his ill appearance and insisting on asking about his sexuality, while May and Mercury tried to put the focus back on the band.  Stern, whether she was a real person or an amalgam of journalists inflicted on the band, was the embodiment of all the things society at large hates about the press, particularly the press in the UK.  Loud, abrasive, insistent, invasive and imbued with the unshakeable belief that the private life of a celebrity is public property.   In fact, her very insistence that he answer her questions about his sexuality reminds me of the insistence of some Queen fans that the film didn’t go far enough in displaying Freddie’s excesses or their ultimate consequence.   To that I say, who needs to see it? We know it happened. The very fact that he is no longer with us is proof that it happened.  We don’t need a play-by-play, because that would be both perverse and morbid. Also, it’s none of our business. I give the film four stars and recommend it to anyone who likes their rock anthemic … and loud.

Bo Rhap Cast

 

 

Victim Blaming or legitimate concern?

Okay so very recently there was a news story from Sydney about a seven year old girl who was sexually assaulted and stabbed by a 54 year old man in a public toilet block. Another man (who came to her rescue) was stabbed also. Neither male was a relative of the child and there was no mention of the parents’ presence anywhere in the article.  The fact that the child was sexually and physically assaulted in a place where she should have felt safe is bad enough. That little girl will be scarred for life, literally and figuratively.  It shouldn’t have to be said that a grown male shouldn’t loiter around public toilets waiting for an opportunity to get his kicks, but in this world of sickos and perverts, it happens.

So what I want to know is, where in the hell were her parents, and also, is my asking this in any way victim-blaming?  Obviously, a seven year old child cannot consent to sexual activity – hell, most only have a very vague idea of what sex is at that age, if at all, much less interest in it.  But to ask where the parents were in the equation is not, to me, victim-blaming or excusing what he did because she shouldn’t have been there on her own.  The bastard should have his meat and veg chopped off without anaesthetic and cauterised with naked flame.  But I also think that as a society we would be remiss in at least asking why the child wasn’t accompanied by an adult, at night, in a public toilet block.  You can say that a seven year old should be able to use a toilet by his or herself – and you’d be right – but as the child obviously screamed or made some noise that alerted the second man to her predicament, there obviously was no parent immediately outside the toilet block waiting or they would have run in and intervened, surely?  Am I being a helicopter parent in saying that I would never allow a child under the age of ten to use public toilets without at the very least waiting just outside?!  Of course I was criticised for my comment, accused of victim-blaming. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have children if they think it’s quite all right to allow a seven year old to go into a public toilet block at night by themselves. And if you don’t agree with me on that, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

All By Myself… and happy about it.

Recently, I friended a guy on Facebook whom almost immediately PM’d me and requested that we meet face-to-face. This is not an isolated incident. I’ve been in this situation multiple times. it’s as though you mention on your profile that you’re single or separated, and people think you’re fair game. What’s up with that, I ask?!  I’ve considered changing my relationship status – in other words, lying – but then I thought, why should I?  I’m forty-five, with two adult children, and I’m single. There, I said it. I’ve been on my own since 2011. I have a civil relationship with the father of my children (we talk, but I wouldn’t call us close friends anymore, which is sad but not something I can do much about), a few close friends, and I consider my kids my best friends in the entire world.  They come first, always.  Anyone I ever consider a potential partner in future is going to have to accept that, among other things.

But – and let me get this out of the way – I’m not looking. Sure, if it happens it happens, but even if it doesn’t, I don’t care.  People assume that because you’ve been alone for a while you must be lonely.  I’m not.  I don’t even really think about sex anymore. That could be just a symptom of being in my mid-forties and therefore approaching The Change, or it could be that I haven’t had it in a while (seven years and counting) and it’s just not a big deal anymore. That’s odd for me to say because if you have known me for as long as my close friends have known me, I’ve always been a bit man-crazy. For as long as I can remember I’ve had crushes. Hell, I was playing Kiss Chasey in primary school with a little English boy I had a thing for because I liked his accent. I’m still an Anglophile: Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit) is one of my long-standing celebrity crushes because he’s everything a man should be, as far as I’m concerned. Tall, well-built but not too buff, with blue eyes and a voice that could melt an ice statue.  I love the British sense of humour,  and Queen are my favourite band of all time.  But these days, I find I’m thinking less about the physical attributes of say, Andrew Lincoln or Tom Hiddleston, and more about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, however long that turns out to be. This is an unusual state of being for me, this lack of interest in all things romantic. But I have to say, I’m relishing it. It’s liberating.  Hell, if this is menopause, bring it on.  But I’m going to call it Men-a-pause because I plan to put men on pause.  I’m thinking ahead in terms of my life and career, and getting educated. I’m already more accomplished than I’ve ever been in any stage of my life, with a degree in writing and literature under my belt as well as being a published author.  I’m going to further my education with a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Services – something I should have done long ago, instead of wasting my time with nursing and pathology – next year, and hopefully get a job as a library technician so I can spend the rest of my days surrounded by books while attempting to write them in my spare time.

So in conclusion, all I have to say is, if you’re a man and you’ve spotted me on Facebook through a friend of a friend and you’re considering PMing me and asking to meet, here’s a tip. Don’t. I will most likely block you and/or unfriend you. If that seems arbitrary and unfair of me, too bad.  If, on the other hand, you believe you and I might have something in common and could be friends, engage me in conversation via a public forum and we’ll see where it goes from there. Don’t assume that because I’m single I’m gagging for it, because I’m most certainly not, and I don’t appreciate the assumption.

Oh, by the way, don’t bother PMing me unless you look like this:

perfection

Kidding.  Just don’t PM me.

 

Rant over.

Give peace a chance.

I was going to begin this post by talking about the 60+ women who’ve been killed in Australia this year by their spouse/partner/ex-partner, or more rarely, a complete stranger.  But violence in our society is not just being perpetrated against the fairer sex anymore. Just this week in our so-called ‘lucky country’ we’ve had the son of Angry Anderson bashed to death and a Somali immigrant unleash hell on an unsuspecting (but wary) Melbourne street with a machete in broad daylight, murdering a well-liked cafe owner who was trying to help him; and injuring others. He charged at police and was shot dead. Now we find out that he’s been on ASIO’s watch-list for a while now, along with his brother.  The question I’d like to ask is: why are we letting these people into our country?! Other nations would ensure that people like this are not granted a visa or asylum due to their links with terrorist groups. But no, Australia has to be the bleeding heart. Note to self, Australia: not every refugee is legitimately looking for a safer place. Some have ulterior motives. It’s a harsh lesson in life but we need to learn it. And if anyone thinks I’m racist in saying that, or alarmist or whatever that particular ism is, then so be it. I officially don’t care anymore. Along with becoming more violent, we’ve also become a world of apologists. You can’t say anything about a particular group in society without being branded racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, ageist, elitist or just plain bigoted. And I’m sick of it. I’m not against any particular section of society but what I AM against is violence, in all its forms. Well, most of them, anyway.  There is such a thing as justified violence, such as when someone breaks into your house and tries to brain you or your family with a baseball bat and you defend yourself. Or when someone’s bullying you at school and you hit back. Or, dare I say it, capital punishment.  Or the action the police took in shooting the Bourke Street killer dead.

These people come into our country looking to cause trouble because of their political or religious beliefs and I don’t care if they’re black, white or fucking turquoise, it’s NOT ON. If you’re interested in mayhem, stay in your homeland and retaliate there. Or form a protest group, but don’t start shit in Australia. Sure, we have a shitty, elitist government at the moment that likes to lock people in detention centres offshore simply because they had no other choice but to come here illegally, but the rest of us are pretty easy-going, laid-back people, willing to give others a fair go.  We don’t deserve to be massacred in the streets in broad daylight because you don’t like our politics or chosen God. Ugh. Don’t even get me started on religion. For all intents and purposes I consider myself an atheist, although I do believe in an afterlife of sorts. And I think that the majority of the world’s worst problems are caused by religion. Not faith, mind you. Organised religion. That’s all I have to say on the subject because believe me, I could write a book or two on just that.

Now to the more immediate problem of domestic violence, and sexual violence. As I mentioned earlier, some 60 women have been killed this year by men, whether it be their partner, ex-partner or a complete stranger. Those are some disturbing statistics, especially if, like me, you’re a woman. The murder of aspiring comedienne Eurydice Dixon by a stalker (and yes, he stalked her from her place of work so technically, he’s a stalker) is a case in point. As are the murders in the recent past of Jill Meagher and Masa Vukotic, who were just going about their lives when they were raped, sexually assaulted and killed by complete strangers in Melbourne. Yes, Melbourne. Not New York, Chicago or the East End of London in 1888. I travel to Melbourne on a regular basis, usually with my son, to attend appointments with his surgeon or concerts, and next year I’ll be commuting to Footscray – a mere train station’s ride away from the city – for uni. So this statistic is relevant to me, and worries me. A friend of my son’s was recently assaulted in Melbourne.  It’s becoming an epidemic, people, and it needs to STOP.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, why oh why can’t some men KEEP THEIR HANDS (or other parts of their anatomy) TO THEMSELVES?!  For fuck’s sake, it’s not that hard, surely!  If you’ve been single for a while (or all your life because you’re a sad sack with no social skills), save up some money, and see a fucking prostitute. Don’t assume that just because the girl down the street said hello to you or simply smiled in your general direction, she wants to go to bed with you. She may be just a happy person in general, and she doesn’t deserve to have her peace of mind destroyed because you wanted what you wanted. Now, some may argue that rape is not about sex, and sure, sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it is.  For those times it isn’t, when it’s about power and control and anger etc, those are all issues that can be worked on in therapy, or anger-management classes.  Sadly, most of these men decide in their infinite wisdom that such help is not for them, and then they take it out on those closest to them – or a total stranger.

I’ve talked about my own situation with my father in a recent post so I know a bit about domestic violence. I know why people stay with violent partners or spouses. It’s to do with self-esteem, or lack thereof. These people work on your self-worth until it no longer exists. They tell you  you’re ugly, fat, stupid, etc, until you begin to believe it. You think there’s no way anyone else can love you and that this is as good as its ever going to get. I have countless memories of hearing my father tell my mother she’s stupid or that no one else would have her. Its a way of ensuring that the person you supposedly love will never look elsewhere. Perversely, it’s often these men (or women) who are looking elsewhere, and are projecting their own faults onto their faithful, long-suffering partners.  Then there are the former spouses and partners who go looking for revenge on past loves by either committing violence against them personally or even worse, the innocent children born of their ill-fated union. Sixty women have died this year because some man, either known to them or not, has erupted in anger and resentment and killed them. It’s time the courts stopped pandering to these arseholes and handed out the sentence they deserve. Life without chance of parole, because that’s the sentence these killers impose on the families of their victims.

 

 

 

 

Dads… why we need them. And why we don’t.

Fathers. Like arseholes, we all have one, whether we acknowledge them or not. Sometimes they’re our heroes growing up; the men we measure all others by.  Sometimes they’re largely absent throughout our childhoods because they’re busy working to support the family, which is also completely admirable albeit sad when you look back on your life and realise Dad was never there for your big moments. Some are terribly unlucky in that their father died young and they never really got to know him, except through the stories told by family.  And some grow up never even knowing who their father was.

You’re probably wondering why I’m ruminating about fathers now, considering that Father’s Day was back in September (in Australia, at least).  Well, for a few reasons, really. First of all, a friend recently lost hers to cancer. He was her rock; a decent man and wonderful father who lived for his family.  But isn’t it always the way? My kids lost their Pa (paternal grandfather) back in 2007 of pancreatic cancer. He was also a lovely man who couldn’t do enough for his sons or their families. He was diagnosed in July of that year and died only four months later.  Totally undeserving of his fate. I remember thinking at the time, why is it always those who least deserve it that lose their lives like that? A case in point: my uncle Craig adored his two little daughters, but he never got to see them grow up because he was shot dead in 1993. He’d be so proud of them if he could see the beautiful young women they’ve become.  And he would have been about to become a grandfather for the first time, too.  Still, I just know that somehow, he’s watching over them. I don’t believe in a Christian heaven but I believe that there is some kind of afterlife. There has to be, doesn’t there? Otherwise, how can you account for the hundreds upon thousands of stories (and even photographic and video evidence) of the existence of ghosts and spirits?

But that’s a whole other blog post.  I guess the main reason I’m writing this is because with friends’ fathers dying, I can’t help but think of how lucky they were to have had caring, decent fathers figuring prominently in their lives.  The father of my children cares about his kids, but he can barely look after himself let alone be there for them (he has Schizo-Affective Disorder and has been in and out of hospital since 2003).   At least he has a legitimate reason for not being front and centre for their important birthdays (my son’s 20 this year; my daughter 18).  My own father (and I use the term loosely) has no such excuse.  To this day, I cannot think of one positive thing he has done for either myself or my brother (although he did donate some money to my son’s GoFundme Page for his top surgery, so thanks for that, Dad. It is appreciated). I haven’t heard from him on my birthday since before I turned 40. Mind you, not that expect a present or anything. A simple ‘Happy birthday’ would be nice.  And on my 30th, he hit on my best friend. Yeah, that’s right. A girl he’d known since she was ten years old.  I didn’t even find out until about a year later. She didn’t want to tell me at the time because it would have ruined my birthday, and my relationship with my father. But I knew something was up. She was very quiet the day after, not herself at all.  To say I was disgusted was an understatement. Disgusted, ashamed and embarrassed. I apologised profusely but she said it was okay, it wasn’t my fault my old man’s a creep (although she didn’t use those exact words).

He must have a thing for 30th birthdays, because he tried to ruin my brother’s as well, kicking up a massive stink because he was asked, by my brother’s wife (fiance at the time) not to smoke inside the house. She asked politely and she had every right to – it was her house – but he carried on like a prize bag of dicks, swearing at and insulting her and everyone who tried to intervene.  My brother didn’t speak to him for years after that.  He wasn’t invited to their wedding and to my knowledge, never met his grandchildren. You might think that’s an overreaction, but when you consider what the old man put us all through growing up, being violent toward my mother on occasion and beating up my brother in 1993 (shortly before my uncle died), it all begins to make sense. And I haven’t even gotten into how he’s ripped off my mother over and over again, wrecking one of her first cars, forging her name on loan applications, and lying about her to practically everybody, insinuating that he was the victim and she the villain in the marriage. Apparently he’s even implied that she was the one cheating on him! Well, I ask: when would she have had the time? (much less the inclination, being a busy working mum, doing practically everything herself)   But as we know, sociopaths have a way of projecting their own faults onto others. And of appearing glib and charming on the surface. When I told some of my friends what my dad was really like, they had trouble believing me, because he’d been so friendly to them. And that’s how he is. Charming and accommodating on the surface, or when it suits him, and a vicious, spiteful prick in private.  Every time I read a list of personality traits of a sociopath, he’s the first person I think of.  Because sociopaths aren’t just serial killers, people.  They can be businessmen, your mother-in-law, or the guy next door.  Many are con-men running scams, embezzling and stuff like that.  In short, they’re intensely self-absorbed people who can’t feel empathy for others. The only time they get upset and shed tears is when they’re caught out and punished for bad behaviour. Any other time they manage to show regret for their actions, its all a studied act for sympathy.

He was married recently, my father. To his third wife, whom he met on one of his jaunts to Thailand.  I’m not going to say I hope this marriage ends like the other two – that would be lowering myself to his level. All I’ll say is that I hope he treats her better than he treated my mother, if only because I wouldn’t want someone else to go through what we did.  Nobody deserves that.  And in a time when domestic violence is at the forefront of the news, with six women being killed throughout Australia in one week recently, I believe it’s the duty of survivors to tell it like it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knew it! We’re surrounded by assholes!

I don’t know what it is, but my area seems loaded with utter mouth-breathing morons who either don’t know how to control their animals or don’t care (I’m betting on the latter).   A week ago I took our white German Shepherd for a walk around the block and a Rhodesian Ridge-back came gallivanting up to us from its front yard and started sniffing around Booker excitedly. Booker, being as docile as he is, barely seemed to give a fuck. Oh he had a sniff, but then it was like, “okay, that’s done, so can we keep moving?” but the dog wouldn’t let him leave. The owner, standing on his front lawn, eventually looked over from his conversation with a friend and said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about him, he doesn’t bite.’  Hm… but what if mine did? What would you do, then? Blame me for your dog getting bitten despite the fact that he had no leash, was not on his property and you didn’t bother asking me if Booker was snaky around other dogs?  The mind boggles.  He eventually came over and dragged his dog away by the collar so we could be on our way. But it could have been a completely different scenario had my dog not been such a laid-back sweetie.

Then today, Al and I were heading down to the local shops for some fish and chips.  We had decided to leave our dog behind because Al is still only a couple of weeks post-surgery and couldn’t have hung onto him while I was in the shops.  A block or two from our house two small dogs had managed to escape the flimsy wire fence out the front of their property.  I think they were both Chihuahuas crossed with something else. Anyway, one ran straight onto the side road and Al tried to usher it back off the road but it started barking at him. We called out to the house we knew they came from, to let them know their dogs were on the loose but no one responded. So Al decided to walk over and open the gate to let them back in, and that’s when the one on the road leapt back up onto the nature strip and launched himself at Al’s leg. He didn’t hang on or anything, but he did puncture the skin and cause a graze-like mark with his other teeth.

Now, Al acknowledges that he probably should have let them be because they were obviously territorial about the house they’d just escaped from, but he’s an animal lover and didn’t want to see them get hit by a car. After the dog bit him though, the owner came straight out and said, ‘Aw, yeah, he’s like that, he’s a little shit,’ referring to the white Chihuahua. No apologies, not even an ‘Are you okay?’ He just herded the dogs back into the house and shut the door.  Rude! At the very least, if  your animal has caused damage, you ask the person if they’re okay. That’s what any normal, law-abiding, non-sociopathic person does, right? Or am I expecting too much from my fellow human beings?!

Both stunned at the owner’s response (or lack thereof), we walked back to our place and cleaned up Al’s wound. Now he really does look like the walking wounded, with his pressure vest still on after surgery, and now the gauze patch on his calf. I took him to the local medical centre and he got it looked at and had a Tetanus shot just in case (we don’t get rabies in Australia).   He has to be careful of infection for his surgery incisions but now also the dog bite.  It is pretty safe to say that I was not impressed. We called the RSPCA and they suggested we call the council and have a ranger come out and take our statements so that the owner can be issued with an infringement (fine).   So we did that, but I’m not convinced that a fine alone is going to ensure the owner cleans up his act. People like that don’t change overnight because of a piddly financial inconvenience.  I don’t want to say that I hope he has other complaints against him (so the fine will be more substantial) because then that would mean he’s a repeat offender, and who knows how he treats his dogs in private?! AAARRGH… it just makes me so mad!  It isn’t hard to provide animals with a safe, loving home.  It’s not fucking rocket science. If you can’t look after your pets for whatever reason, give them up to the pound so that someone else can. I’d hate to think what might have happened had Booker been with us (I think we would have seen a rather rapid change in temperament after the dog bit Al – in fact, i think Booker would have had that dog for a late lunch). Or worse,  had my niece or nephew decided to join us for a walk. Even if they hadn’t been bitten, it would have frightened them (they’re seven and four years old respectively) and made them even more wary of dogs than they already are.

Oh, just because I can, and for your viewing pleasure, here’s our puppy:

 

 

Well, he’s not technically a puppy (he’s almost 12 years old) but that’s my name for him because as you can see, he’s adorable.

Anyway, I’d just like to add that I know most pet owners are conscientious, caring people who would do anything for their pets, including ensuring that they don’t attack other people and wind up being put down, but at the same time, there are those who continually flout the law and don’t seem to care what their animals do to others.  It’s those people I think should have a lifetime ban from owning a pet (there should be a three strikes and you’re out policy)  because their attitude toward their animals tends to reflect back in the behaviour of their pets, particularly dogs. They’re the ones who end up having their dogs taken away and/or put down because they’ve attacked a human. And in my opinion, that’s way too late to start caring.

Rant over.