R.I.P Chester

I may anger some with my opinion here, but I’ve read a lot of comments about the passing of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, accusing him of being a coward for killing himself and leaving his family (including six children from two wives) behind. And one thing that occurred to me was, why is it selfish or cowardly to want the pain to end when you’ve suffered from depression your entire life?!  Who says he never sought help or tried his hardest to conquer feelings of hopelessness or self-loathing?!  The first reaction people invariably have when someone kills themselves is anger. But if you’ve ever suffered depression yourself or know someone who has; or known someone who has committed suicide (or attempted it) you know that they’re not in their right minds. They’re in such a state of pain and hopelessness that they just want it to end. They’re not thinking of their families or friends. That’s not selfishness, that’s legitimate mental illness. And how is it selfish to want to die? Isn’t it selfish of a sufferer’s family to want them to continue on in that state? To know that they’ve felt like this for long time, perhaps years or decades, and despite help, they haven’t managed to keep their head above water?  Personally I think it’s more selfish to expect that person to keep going in a world they can’t understand or take, just because you’d be in pain if they left. Just my opinion, sue me.

I was a Linkin Park fan during the ’90’s and still occasionally listen to their two best albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora.  I think many of their songs speak to what may have been going on in Chester’s head. It’s all so much more poignant now when you listen to their songs because so many are about pain, despair, mental illness, relationship breakdown, paranoia etc.  I’ve heard that he was friends with Chris Cornell and that the Soundgarden vocalist’s death affected him deeply – so much so that Chester ended his life on what would have been Chris’s 53rd birthday.  Two deeply scarred souls; two incredible talents lost to this shit-stain of a world. All I can say is, at times, I can’t really blame them.


Procrastination… and a little objectification.

Hi y’all,

Haven’t written in a while, just thought I’d drop in and let my few followers know what’s going on re my writing etc. A couple of weeks ago I was informed that one of the stories on this site was accepted to be published by a literary journal and today I got the structural edit back. Imagine my surprise when there were very few changes to be made.  In fact there was only one real suggestion for improvement, involving adding a sentence to strengthen an action. Surely I’m not that good at formatting a story?!  Apparently I am. Woo-hoo, go me. Looking forward to seeing Behind Closed Doors in print. Hopefully won’t be too long now. Pretty sure the next issue of Verandah is out in September.

In other news, I’ve joined the rest of the waking world in getting Netflix and I have to say, I can’t believe it took me so long. Not only can I binge-watch Orange is the New Black and How to get away with Murder but I can also watch some of the true crime stuff I missed when downgrading my Foxtel package.  Thinking about ditching it altogether if you want to know the truth. I mean, fuck Rupert Murdoch, right?! (not literally, obviously. I’ll happily leave that nasty business to Jerry Hall). But that won’t be until after the current season of Game of Thrones is finished. I know where my priorities lie …

Speaking of priorities, I was looking at a few Youtube vids the other day – mostly Top 10 countdowns of this or that by watchmojo.com – you know, the kind of thing you do when you’re totally putting off doing something you should be doing. Like studying, or writing. Anyway, I came across a countdown of top ten sexiest actors of all time, and I completely disagreed with almost the entire list. It got me thinking: is my taste in my arse or should everyone else have gone to Specsavers?!   I mean, I must be the only woman alive who DOESN’T think Channing Tatum is hot.  The guy looks like a spud. Good body, sure, if you’re into the uber-buff look. He just doesn’t do it for me. Neither does Chris Hemsworth, as I’m not into blondes. Especially blondes with abundant facial hair. Although his voice alone could almost put him on my personal list. I’m not big on Brad Pitt, although Fight Club and Twelve Monkeys, among others, show he can definitely act. But I had to completely disagree with the site’s inclusion of Tom Cruise, Ryan Gosling and Leo DiCaprio. Don’t get me wrong – I like Leo, I really do – I just don’t want to sleep with him. I’m sure that if he met me, the feeling would be mutual.

Now, I know I’m only one person, but I have to ask: who did they poll to come up with these countdowns?

So here are mine. First, the top 10 hottest actors since 2000, then of all time. Some you may not know of, but that’s just because I don’t necessarily go for the most obvious choice in a TV show or movie.

SINCE 2000:

10. Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, The X-Men Franchise, UK Skins)

9. Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Big Little Lies, the latest installment of Tarzan)

8. Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)

7. James McAvoy (X-Men franchise, Split, Atonement)

6. Raul Esparza (Law and Order SVU, Hannibal, Pushing up Daisies)

5. Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Lawless, Mad Max: Fury Road)

4. Ricky Whittle (The 100, American Gods)

3. Bob Morley (The 100, Home and Away)

2. Matt McGorry (Orange is the New Black, How to get away with Murder)

  1. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, North & South, BBC’s Robin Hood)


OF ALL TIME: Most of these need no introduction, but just in case, I’ve included roles I most associate them with).

10. River Phoenix (My Own Private Idaho, Sneakers, I Love you to Death)

9. Jared Padalecki (Supernatural, Gilmore Girls)

8. Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes)

7. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Robin Hood)

6. Johnny Depp (if he needs an intro, you’ve been living under a rock)

5. Harrison Ford (same as above, but I adore Han Solo)

4. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)

3. Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road)

2. Carey Elwes (Westley from The Princess Bride)

  1. Keanu Reeves (Who else but Neo?! And if you’ve seen him lately, he’s barely aged a day since the early 2000’s. How DOES he do it?!).

Time for Change

Australian sport lovers: what superlatives come to mind when you think of Nathan Buckley? Champion captain of one of the most famous sporting clubs, not only in Australia, but the world? Six-time Copeland Trophy winner and only the third player in history to win a Norm Smith medal in a losing Grand Final?!  Brownlow medal winner? Or untried coach who was so loved by his club that they sacrificed a premiership-winning coach on the altar of nepotism?

Let me just say that I’m not a fan of Mick Malthouse.  Never have been, never will be. It used to bug the absolute shit out of me when he’d persevere with an on-field match-up that just was not working, either to teach the player a lesson in humility, or … well, I honestly can’t think of another reason why a coach would allow one of his own players to suffer like that. It’s beyond me. Another one of MM’s idiosyncrasies was his boundary-riding game plan. I was happier than a pig in shit when Bucks took over and declared that my beloved Pies would be using the corridor more often. Mick was fond of saying that we just didn’t have the cattle for such a bold move, but if that were true, why did both his former clubs – West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs – both hug the boundary like Mick’s daughter Christi when she worked for Channel 10?!   All jokes aside, when Mick Malthouse took the reins in 2000 it was after favorite son Tony Shaw coached the club to a wooden spoon in 1999. Two years later – TWO YEARS later – Collingwood played off in a Grand Final against the might of the Brisbane Lions, and came within 9 points of glory. I could go on about how we were robbed in that particular game, about how there were three specific incidents that lost us that game in unpaid free kicks, but I won’t. That’s another story.

After that painful day, it took MM another four years to get the Pies back into the finals. That first year, 2006, we were coming off the back of a couple of injury-ridden seasons that saw Mick have to play our B-team, and sometimes even our C-team, just to put players on the field. Those were lean years. But 2006 signaled something: a change in fortune. Scott Pendlebury and Dale Thomas joined the club. Heath Shaw began to make a name for himself. The Pies would play finals every season from 2006-2011 under Malthouse, of course winning that well-deserved flag in 2010.

During this successful period, Nathan Buckley’s accomplished playing career came to an abrupt end. Hampered by hamstring injuries, he called it a day after the narrow, heartbreaking 2007 Preliminary Final loss to Geelong.  First working as a commentator for Channel 7, he had his eye on bigger things. While travelling to the US to study coaching, and then working as an assistant coach at Collingwood under Malthouse from 2009-2011, Maguire and the board appeared panicked that their beloved champion would wind up coaching against us, and conceived the now infamous succession plan, in 2009.  Malthouse would step down as senior coach and take on the as-yet undefined role of ‘adviser’ while Buckley would coach his former team-mates: a feat rarely pulled off by players of their own clubs. Voss, Hird and of course Tony Shaw are all examples of champion players who failed as coaches of their own clubs. Why would Maguire et.al. think Buckley would be any different?!

Meanwhile, Mick Malthouse went from a much-loved coach in 2010 to a pariah, after announcing his departure from the club toward the end of the 2011 season, breaking his contract and the terms of the succession plan, which stated that he relinquish his role to Buckley in 2012. He’d just coached the Pies to a flag that was 11 years in the making and was on his way to a second successive Grand Final. ‘His boys’ were on track to a potential dynasty.  The news broke Pie hearts all over the land. It also destabilized the team going into the 2011 finals series.  To add insult to injury, he remarked later that he’d never coach against “his boys” and then promptly signed on as the coach of Collingwood’s most hated rival, Carlton.

And that’s where Mick Malthouse leaves this story.  Six years later, Nathan Buckley’s coaching career is, if not in immediate peril, then definitely at a crossroads. He’s taken a club that was at the top of it’s game in 2011 to a near cellar-dweller in 2017. Beset by a long injury list only a couple of years into his term, you could hardly blame him for early losses, but when star players returned and the Pies continued their slide down the ladder, the media microscope was turned on Nathan Buckley and his confusing game plan. People questioned whether he had the full backing and faith of his players. They also questioned some of his off-field decisions. Despite a bevy of expected retirements of veterans such as Simon Prestigiacomo, Chris Tarrant, Tarkyn Lockyer, Leon Davis and Shane O’Bree, there were rumblings that other senior players weren’t happy with the new coach and the feeling was most definitely mutual. In a move that I’m sure still has many fans baffled, Alan Didak was forced into retirement when he was de-listed, and another fan-favorite, Heath Shaw, was off-loaded to the newest team in the league, the GWS Giants. On-field spats with his captain Nick Maxwell, as well as an attitude problem, were blamed. I still call it the worst decision Buckley ever made, and I, as a longtime fan of Heath Shaw, will never forgive him for it.

But as they say, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Over the intervening years we also lost premiership players to forced retirement through injury. I and many others like me shed a tear when the players gave Luke Ball a guard of honor during his last game, as he and Darren Jolly were a huge part of the reason why we won the flag in 2010. Then we lost Alan Toovey (and the much-loved chant of TOOOOOVES), Brent Macaffer, premiership captain Nick Maxwell, Ben Johnson, Leigh Brown and worst of all, Brownlow medal winner and all-round character, Dane Swan, due to a career-ending injury in 2016.

The new culture was blamed for moves to other clubs by premiership players like Dale Thomas, who was seduced by his former coach Mick Malthouse into playing for Carlton; Chris Dawes and Heritier LaMumba  to Melbourne and arguably, Sharrod Wellingham to the West Coast Eagles, although I think he just wanted to go home. More recently, Dayne Beams defected to the Brisbane Lions to play alongside his twin brother and be close to his father, who was sick with cancer. That I understand and don’t blame him for, although others undoubtedly do, for reasons I won’t go into here.  The last two premiership players to leave the nest were Travis Cloke (Bulldogs) and Nathan Brown (St Kilda).  The jury is still out on whether those decisions were made with the club’s best interests at heart.

So of the 2010 premiership team, a mere seven years later, we have: Captain Scott Pendlebury, hard-nut and swing-man Tyson Goldsack, courageous but physically fragile defender Ben Reid, perhaps the shortest man in the league in Jarryd Blair, and future captain Steele Sidebottom.  We have recruited a group of older players from other clubs to address our lack of experience on field and while some of these decisions have proven fruitful and even inspired – Travis Varcoe, for example – there are some who would say we’ve been wasteful, even short-sighted, at the recruitment table.  Jesse White has been patchy, Levi Greenwood serviceable in his role left by Brent Macaffer but not much more, and the Chris Mayne experiment has been an utter failure.  Of course not all of this can be laid at Buckley’s feet. It’s down to the entire board and recruitment staff.  But there are other questions being asked by supporters on bulletin boards and social media; questions about why certain players keep getting games ahead of youngsters like Matthew Scharenberg and Rupert Wills, despite consistent good form in the VFL.  Why the game plan seems to be an utter mystery not only to those watching it but those trying to implement it. Why the quality of our goal-kicking has never really improved despite numerous attempts to address the problem, and why, oh why, the constant ball movement backward and sideways under pressure?!  We are now into July and the finals are just under two months away. Collingwood now have no chance whatsoever of playing finals for the third or fourth year in a row, having only won FIVE GAMES, and Buckley’s contract is up at the end of the year.

Would I be universally hated for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the succession plan was a bad idea?!



An update

Sorry about the earlier rant about my depression, folks. Was having a particularly bad week, so if I offended anyone I apologize.  Just to update the situation, I’ve had my first two appointments with my psychologist and she has given me homework to kick off my cognitive behavior therapy, which will hopefully help my self-esteem issues and improve my negative self-talk, something which I’ve done for most of my life. Let me give you a little (very recent) example. I’ve just found out that I will have a short story published in my university’s journal. Called Verandah, it’s been around for roughly 31 issues and is edited by current and former writing students.  There is a print and e-book version.  Anyway, I got the email today congratulating me on my inclusion. The story chosen is available on this blog but most likely won’t be in exactly the same form once published. It’s called Behind Closed Doors and its theme is domestic violence. The first thing I thought? Besides, ‘yay’ and all the associated internal woo-hoos, do you know what I thought?  Can you guess? Well, it was something along the lines of “well, they must not have had too many better offerings”.  Why do I do that? Only give myself a couple of seconds of praise and then turn it around on myself?!  I guess that is something I will have to work on in therapy.