Monday, May 30, 2005

to die for

So with hindsight I can recognise how ridiculous I was in suggesting the Australian Government could've done more for Shapelle Corby at a diplomatic level. That was just an emotional reaction and was obviously misguided. I'm not to proud to admit when I'm wrong. During the hearing the Indonesians made it pretty clear they even thought the Howard letter about our airports and the alleged cocaine smugglers was an attempt at interference, so it's hard to see how the Government really could've done anything to help her. And I'm conscious now too of the fact that if I expect intervention for Corby, I have to expect it for every other citizen locked up overseas, found guilty and still proclaiming their innocence. Which seems far-fetched.
However...hearing John Howard say "I feel for Shapelle" is not what the public needs to hear right now. We need to hear, "Geez, we better take a closer look at our airport security systems. If baggage handlers are able to smuggle cocaine willy-nilly, maybe they might be able to get the odd bomb on, maybe we should be a bit more, I dunno, alert here."
Far out, our Rodent of Steel wins elections on national security. Let's see him take a bit more of an interest in this issue. I need some convincing.

Monday, May 23, 2005

along for the ride

Ray said the couple was breaking up, he said the girl was leaving the guy and that the guy was crying.
I looked out the window. They had leathers on and stood beside motorbikes. But when I looked at them, they seemed to be laughing.
No, Ray said, they’re breaking up. See? She just told him it’s over, and he’s shaking his head and pleading with her.
Nuh-uh, I said, after a while. They’ve been having an affair and he’s explaining how he just can’t wait til next time. The bikers put on their helmets and the girl burned off and the guy was still standing there, staring at the empty highway.
She’s gone, I teased Ray. And she ain’t coming back. He’s pining for her already, look at him, Ray, I said.
I wondered what the people looking in the window were thinking of us.
There was hardly anyone in the restaurant, but there were a few old folks sitting in cars in the lot facing us. They probably thought we were a family, I thought.
A waitress came. Ray got chicken and chips and I ordered a BLT for me and the baby. Ray handed the baby a paper tube of sugar to amuse him and I showed him how to make them go shake-shake-shake. I said hey look Harley, that guy’s motorbike is the same colour as Ray’s car.
We’d been at Ray’s farm. There, the baby had posed for photos on top of a miniature horse and a regular-size tractor. He'd fallen face-first into a bull-ant nest but somehow avoided being bitten; he'd been eyeballed by doleful steer through the electric fence.
The baby gave me a sickly, crushed-sugar-rimmed grin and I confiscated the sugar tubes. He’d pretty much had enough of the day, but there was still a bit further to go.
Our meals arrived at the table. Outside our window, a boy wearing a safety-orange jacket was emptying the restaurant’s rubbish bin. He came and did it several times, without enthusiasm. The baby watched him and ate chips and pieces of chicken, tomato, bacon and beetroot. Ray offered the child a chicken bone and the child took it eagerly. I fretted over whether it was safe. Ray pooh-poohed it.
He’s going to have a good chew on the marrow and it gives him something to hold, he said.
You don’t give chicken bones to cats and they’re about the same size, is all I’m saying, I said.
I impounded the bone.
We drank flat white coffees, and Ray noticed me looking at the blurry blue tattoo on his forearm.
Love to live,
live to love,

it said.
I wrote that when I was fifteen, Ray said.
I looked out the window at the guy still standing beside his bike, fidgeting with the chin-strap on his helmet.
We had to go meet a mate of Ray’s about some business or other. The mate pulled up in a yellow van and I fed the baby grapes and crisps as the two men got out and talked by the side of the road. Ray’s mate came over and leaned into our window and ignored me completely and smiled at the baby and asked the little fella how he was doing. I liked that.
The van’s sliding door scraped open and three kids got out; a boy and a girl in their early teens, and another boy a few years younger. The two older kids lit up cigarettes and after a while when his dad wasn’t looking I saw the younger boy taking a puff too. The kids scavenged in the tall grass beside the van and the truck and one of them ran up to show their dad something.
Look, we found a mull tin, Dad, the kid said.
Behind him, his sister grinned in a fake-logo teeshirt that said HORNY GIRL where it should say TOMMY GIRL. The dad proceeded to tell me about his kids, how they were clever, and found stuff all the time. How they’d found a safe with fifteen thousand dollars in it a while back and do you know what they did? They called the bloody cops! The cops had been dark with them, apparently, told ‘em off for being somewhere they shouldn’t.
I wouldnt’ve bloody said anything, the man laughed.
Later, in the car driving home, Ray said you should see his wife, that his wife was incredibly beautiful, and that they were a strange match for that.
I dunno, I said. I said, he was attractive, in his own way.
It had been his smile. And that probably had something to do with his unseen, beautiful wife.
I looked at Ray and wished that I wanted to kiss him, because he has such a sweet nature and a good heart. I already told him weeks ago I wasn’t looking for anything except friendship. We're just along with him today for company, and so the kid can meet Foxy, the little horse.
A song started playing on the radio in the car and I said this song used to be everywhere. I was about to add it was Sheryl Bird when the announcer said it was Sheryl Crow.
All I wanna do, is have some fun
until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevarde

Just as we were singing it we were nearly home, driving off the bridge between the twin towns, and the sunset was behind us so everything had a gaudy pink-orange glow and for a second it felt like it could’ve just passed for a Santa Monica Boulevarde. One with chicken take-aways and licensed real estates and icecream parlours and cheap shoe shops and the Salvos, and us driving through it in a big old American pick-up truck with my baby asleep between us.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


It's pouring and I'm waiting to hear back from a friend to see if we can get a lift into town as there's no food in the house. It's a newish friend of ours, Ray, a Polish former racing-car driver who now breeds miniature horses; they're only as big as dogs. Soon we're going to take Harley to Ray's farm to pet them and have a ride. Should be pretty cool.
We like getting lifts with Ray because he drives a metallic teal-colored vintage Chevy ute called Grumpy. It's funny how people ogle the car, but I just like it because it's so huge that I feel really safe in it. We strap Harley in the middle in his carseat and put Ray's cowboy hat on him and he looks way, way cool.
Come on Grumpy...I'm hungry!
Wish I could just pick up the phone and get home delivery...ah, nostalgia for the city life...

that's gotta hurt

I like Helen Garner but God, she can be catty. In the new magazine The Monthly--like every other blogger who read Surfdom and/or Troppo's posts about it, I signed up for a free first issue via the magazine's website--Garner reviews the Nicole Kidman flick Birth:

"But two things are wrong. One is Kidman herself. When such a blatantly manufactured force as the Nicole Phenomenon keeps coming at you every time you open your front door, it is a point of honour to put up resistance. I long for her to wriggle out through the bars of her stardom, to persuade me she's not made of cardboard. But I can't get past that thin, nasal little voice with its high-school intonations; those melodramatic brows; the awful girly thing that happens when she laughs."


so much for us

It's hard not to feel demonised by the Budget. So "welfare reform" is gonna save our economy? Geez, we're only talking about something like 80,000 sole parents (and similarly low numbers of disabled pensioners). Of whom, so I've read, about three quarters return to paid work voluntarily by the time their child turns five anyway.
But no, the Prime Minister and Treasurer act as if we're all lazygoodfornothings who need to be blackmailed into finding work, and are triumphantly marketing this whole thing as if we're supposed to believe our paltry contribution to the labour market is going to make one iota of difference to the strength of the economy.
But what can you say.
Well, just this, I guess. First, even with new childcare places being delivered in the Budget, there needs to be some assurance that sole parents will actually be able to access them under very competitive conditions. Second, are employers going to create enough part-time jobs for us to fulfil our "mutual obligation"? I'm not sure I believe it. My last employer, a big corporate law company which could certainly afford to be flexible, had a policy of only offering staff their full-time jobs back after maternity leave, meaning it was rare for new parents to be able to return to work there. If even the huge corporate employers don't see the value in offering new parents part-time jobs in order to keep them employed, then I think all we sole parents can hope for is to score 15 hours a week as a lowly paid casual at the local chip shop. Which may or may not cover the costs of childcare while we're working. Talk about a vicious circle.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

smells like twentysomething spirit

Now that BB has replaced Home & Away in my affections as preferred soap to watch while I cook dinner, I should warn everyone that I'll probably blog about it from time to time. Not everyday though, I promise...
For those of us who have a genuine interest in social and personality psychology, and like to think BB is a big social experiment, it's shaping up to be a good season.
For starters. Confiscating everyone's toiletries on day one (replaced by a bare minimum of basics to share) is a master stroke. Almost every girl is a high maintenance chick! One has already been to the Diary Room pleading for her foundation. It's going to end in tears, you just know. But you know why they're doing this, don't you? Not just to stop people hiding behind artifice, but to give everyone's pheromones a chance to work without the interference of fragrance.
Another thing I find funny is how you see some of these "don't-hate-me-cos-I'm-beautiful" girls complaining how girls often don't tend to like them, and then you watch them in action and think, "baby, maybe that's why". They're falling over each other in attempts to secure the most alpha of males, and meanwhile ignoring the girls who aren't a threat to them, while being competitive and fake with the girls who are.
We humans so stupid sometimes.

Monday, May 09, 2005

front pages

Guest post by Christopher Sheil(still on hiatus) in response to this.
You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, cos everything's in here somewhere (or the complete works of Blake, cos everything's also in there somewhere).
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Everyone I've ever had a crush on has turned out to be a fictional character.
I had a crush on the brunette in Gilligan's Island when I was about 11.
The last book you bought was...?
Curtin's Gift, by John Edwards
The last book you read was...?
Deception, by Phillip Roth
What are you currently reading?
Which Side are You On? How to Be for Labor When its Flat on its Back, by Thomas Geoghegan
My Life So Far, by Jane Fonda, and
The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon
Five books you would take to a desert island...
Excluding Gramsci and Blake as already having been saved:
1. Feudal Society, by Marc Bloch
2. Witness Against the Beast, by E P Thompson
3. The Rolling Stone Album Guide
4. Fear & Loathing Letters (vols 1& 2), by Hunter S Thompson
5. Brett Whiteley by Sandra McGrath
Who are you passing this stick on to and why?
Gummo Trotsky, cos I miss him and am curious, and tim blair, only cos i'm curious.
Thanks Chris. You can go back to your Kaister Stuhl now.

the house of love

Was that Paris Hilton hosting Big Brother or Gretel Killeen? Really, why do some women think hair that looks like ironed yellow nylon is a good look? If you're going to be a bottle-blonde, at least pick a good color, for god's sake.
Well, correct me if I'm wrong but this year all 15 housemates are "alpha males" and "queen bees". They're all dominant, confident, assertive and classically attractive. Most tellingly, all are single this year (except one guy, who was apparently single when he was selected but has since found lerve). They've all flagged their interest in finding love and/or shagging someone in the house. Sounds like it's gonna be some lovefest. (Children, do not try this at home.)
I'm happy to report that "Gianna" did me proud. She's only a short-ass who comes across as sweet and demure, but underneath the bimbo exterior it turns out she's a black-belt in karate, races horses and motorbikes and runs her own business or something. And cheeky. For example, she's reclining on a bed and some bloke comes in.
Bloke: "Hey, you're on my bed!"
Gianna (gives naughty look): "Would you like me to get off?"
Ah, nothing like a bit of innuendo....that's my girl.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

all i gotta do is act naturally

Well folks, I'm set to make my small screen debut tonight...appearing on Big Brother 2005. Yes, truly! Oh, okay then, it's my altar ego, another Gianna. But that's OK. We really do have a lot in common actually (from the TV Guide):

"Gianna believes women find her intimidating because of all she's done and how she looks. She identifies with Lara Croft: 'long hair, big breasts, a man-eater and can kick arse'."

OK, so I've got long hair, anyway. And once was a man-eater, though since having the baby, am born again.
Anyway, it's a bit cruel that Ten has BB05 up against an eviction night on Seven's My Restaurant Rules. Still, we all know Brisbane's getting the boot, so I'm going to enjoy the kickoff of BB season instead (sorry Seven). I couldn't get BB last year as we lived in a valley but this year, it's on for young and old.
So this mystery housemate "unlike any other you've seen before"...don't suppose it'll be a baby, just for laughs?
Anyway--hope everyone roots for me and wins me the million bucks.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

steely man

Even with Japan backing our bid to go the East Asian summit, it seems pretty unlikely that our Government would sign any non-aggression treaty. I mean, who can forget comments John Howard made about our right to make pre-emptive attacks on Southeast-Asian countries back in 2002, which led to a situation where:

"South-East Asian leaders, including in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia immediately denounced the statements as a direct threat to their country’s sovereignty and warned they would respond to any Australian military intrusion on their territory."

I mean come on, we're still Uncle Sam's Deputy Sherriff, aren't we?
(Apropos...wonder what nickname Bush is going to give a Prime Minister Costello/Abbott/Nelson? Hope it's another good one.)

Friday, May 06, 2005

island life

This is one of those things where as soon as you've written it, you change your mind. Oh, well. Here's today's version, anyway.
You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
An e-book that contains everything else. (Whaddya mean, that's cheating?)
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Hmph. Do I look like the kind of girl who fantasises over imaginary characters? Oh, alright. Too many to list. (We can compare notes over that drink, Zoe.)
The last book you bought was...?
"Zen Buddhism", by Christmas Humphreys, 2nd-hand at markets. (Geez, imagine having "Christmas" as your first name.)
The last book you read was...?
"First Aid For Children". Fascinating, just how much damage they can self-inflict.
What are you currently reading?
"The Road from Coorain", Jill Kerr Conway (still...gawd)
Five books you would take to a desert island...
"The Outsider" - Albert Camus
"A Spy in the House of Love" - Anais Nin
"Breakfast at Tiffanys" - Truman Capote
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" - Raymond Carver
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" - Douglas Adams (btw, anyone seen the movie yet? any good?)
Of course, these aren't the best books of all time or anything, just a handful I like that I could easily read over a couple more times. long am I going to be stuck on this island for, by the way? Do I at least get to have a playmate?
Who are you passing this stick on to and why?
Chris, not lately of backpages and Jozef, always of media dragon. Sorry, boys--blame Zoe. Now, where's my daiquiri?

Jozef's posts are often thrust down his main page prematurely due to the sheer volume of his blogging, so here's the link to Jozef's list.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

meme generation

Awww hell...if this stuff isn't really real, do I still have to do it? Couldn't I just stick my head back under the pillow again?

drawing a long rainbow

I asked the NSW leader of the Nationals, Andrew Stoner, what his big problem was with the books “The Rainbow Cubby House” and “Koalas on Parade”. See, my local paper ran a little piece entitled “Same-Sex Marriage Being Encouraged in Schools” the other day, in which Stoner railed against these books. This is an excerpt from one of the books that really outraged him:

There’s the doorbell! It must be Jed and his dads. I can hear their dog, Scout, barking. Our dog Jack is barking too. Jed is carrying tinsel and lights and his dad has a ladder.

I can’t pick it either. I thought for sure there’d be something like, “And then the Koalas put on their dresses, snorted some coke and set out for Mardi Gras”. But no. Stoner is quoted as saying,
"The books are clearly inappropriate for young children and are an outrageous attempt to brainwash our kids."

Me, I’m of the view that the earlier kids are encouraged to learn to tolerate difference, the easier it’ll be later on. You might as well make it part of their moral development, right? Anyway, I asked Stoner if he really thought these books would "encouarge" children to somehow choose homosexuality and he dismissed me with,
“The objection is not to the books themselves, it was to the way the State is seeking to introduce sensitive/politically correct material into public schools...Saying that the books encourage same sex marriages is not a comment of mine and in my view is drawing a long bow”.

Really? What about that "brainwashing" comment? Well, if he was misrepresented, maybe he should approach the paper to clarify the story with its readers--unless of course he’s happy being portrayed as a paranoid redneck.
But it’s of no real consequence. The Nationals are probably getting more and more irrelevant in post-seachange Rural and Regional Australia anyway.