Friday, January 30, 2004

People were actually asking Condoleeza Rice this morning if the president was going to admit he was wrong about the weapons of mass destruction situation he claimed existed in Iraq. It was weird. I love watching Condi in these situations, because even though there's all this other information around to make people think skeptically about what she's saying, she still keeps spinning her line. Today it was "this is a hard problem. You're talking about VERY SECRETIVE REGIMES that WANT TO DECEIVE". I lost count of the number of times she said that. But the funny thing was that even the soft news practitioners were going like "uh-huh, right, right, okay" whenever she would respond like that to their questions about claim-fact discrepancies, and it sounded to me like they were thinking, "whatever, lady". The thing is, people actually WANT TO KNOW what happened. It appears that Kay [the no WOMD guy] is directing people's focus to intelligence failures rather than the president, and maybe that's true. I dunno. But people have big trust issues now. They are concerned about how a pre-emption doctrine is supposed to work without sound intelligence, which goes hand in hand with the whole "what the hell did we invade a country for?" thing. Like, lady, we killed people. There was international law flouting and stuff. We stopped eating cheese. You said it needed to be done. So I doubt that Condi put people at ease this morning with her 'the baddies are really really bad and don't help us at all' position. But I never read these things right. I think her stuff won't fly, so it probably will. Just like I thought Wesley Clark, on Meet the Press on Sunday, intelligently and honestly addressed people's 'concerns' about his pro-choice position and his opinion about Michael Moore's opinion about George being a deserter, but then five minutes later Tom Brokaw told me he hadn't, and we were watching the same interview. I never get this stuff right, see. Anyway, I found a funny quote the other day. It was from Rush Limbaugh, probably last year after they had invaded, and it went something to the effect of "If there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I will publicly call the president a liar and I'll never believe another word that comes out of his mouth". This makes me giggle. I imagine that Rush hasn't done that yet. He's probably 'waiting for all the evidence to come in', which seems like a really reasonable thing to do. Anything else would just be plain rash.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Ohmygod ohmygod! OH MY GOD! I am completely freaking out with joy here. So happy! I just saw THE STROKES! The REAL LIVE STROKES! Yeah yeah, I know it's the second time this week that I have seen real live Strokes but, OH MY GOD! They're REAL!
Yeaaaahhhh! I just got back from seeing The Darkness! So, like, yeeaaaahhhhh! Damn fantastic. My god that man is a superstar! And his brother is totally cool too. DAMN! COOL! FABBO! But this was all expected goodness. What wasn't expected was the quality of the support band, The Shine. I had very grave doubts at the beginning when I saw this goth guy setting up his guitars and stuff, and there were these tall black candelabras with lit candles on them in the background [which put me in mind of Meatloaf's I Would do Anything For Love]. Things did not bode well. I had horrible thoughts of death metal vocals matched with crappy high school anger. But then, when they came out, decked out in all their gothness, the frontman put me at ease. You see, while he was wearing tight black PVC pants that made me concerned for his chafing crevices, and good on him, he was also sporting a black sequined sling for his broken hand. Hmmmmm, I thought. That's cool. And my god, they could ROCK! And they rocked good. I don't know what goths usually rock about, so maybe all my doubts were based on a misconception of what drives goths to create. I had thought it would be about angst and pain [because all I know about goths I found out from South Park]. But these guys rocked about, like, rock things. You know, like getting trashed, and girls, and being in love with girls or boning them. Case in point, "Everyday, I hope and pray, to be a bone in your boday [nya nya nya nya nyow]". It was fun. Rockin fun. Excellent massive guitars and pounding stuff and a very confident and rock star frontman. They are clearly having a good time, and make t-shirts that say things like 'Support Your Local Rock Gods' and stuff. Anyway, I was expecting it to be really shit, and it really wasn't. Also, just to reiterate, The Darkness, like, soooooo rock!

Monday, January 26, 2004


P.S. Peaches was fucking AMAZING! Seriously, Guy, you are going to have an awesome time on Wednesday night.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Bennifer is no more. [shrug]

P.S. I just added a link to our Links section. Yay me! I am a techno-wiz. Anyway, I seriously urge you to visit because it's freakin hilarious.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Um, today I'm gonna be responding to Bush's State of the Union address, so I'm just giving y'all fair warning; there's a high possibility of a spaz out. If you would prefer not to endure one of those today, just read Marian Wilkinson's brief reporting of the speech on the front page of The Age. She's sober, concise, and yet, she leaves you pretty clear about the troubled relationship Bush’s posturing has with reality. It’s very accurate reporting. Check it out. Anyway, back to me. You see I, on the other hand, don’t have to be sober. I can even call Bush a dick. Yay for me. So… Bush is a DICK! OH MY GOD! What a fucker! He was talking about “activist judges" who ”insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people“, and he signalled that, in such a climate, a Constitutional Amendment might be a reasonable route to take because “Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage” [cheers and applause]! AAAAARRGGGHHH! There is so much to deal with here, let me just break it down. First of all, ARBITRARY! Is he fuckin’ serious? ARBITRARY?! Did he not even read the Supreme Court and the Massachusetts decisions to which he is clearly referring? You know, the one from last year when the Supreme Court said that the State had no business legislating the private consensual sexual behaviour of its citizens, so it struck down sodomy laws? And then that other decision in Massachusetts, when the court found that preventing same-sex couples from marrying was against that state’s constitution because, you know, refusing to issue marriage licenses and such to free adult citizens meant that the state was treating them as second-class citizens, which anti-discrimination amendments at both a federal and state level had made unconstitutional? These were all reasonable, law-abiding decisions made on cases that had been brought against the State by private citizens. They make sense, if you read them. So, um, ARBITRARY?! What the fuck? Hmmm, the only way I can understand why Bush said that is either (a) because he’s in the habit of being intentionally deceptive, or (b) because maybe the only information about these decisions that he actually read was the dissenting opinion in the sodomy case from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which, as I recall, was CRAZY! So, okay, now I’m finished with the whole ‘arbitrary’ point. You’re lucky, really. If you’d been in my house when I heard that on a Triple J news bulletin while having a shower, you would have been treated to about twenty minutes of my indignant, wet-footed stomping, up and down the hallway from my room to the living room, always intending to get properly dressed but always hitting upon some other brilliant response before making any great advances in that department and thus turning on my heel and returning towel-swathed to the living room to screech things like “ARBITRARY?! ARBITRARY! What the fuck is he talking about? ARBITRARY?!” at my family, who didn’t really need to be told all that, cos they kinda know about this stuff already. Count yourselves lucky that I am such a consummate figure of restraint when I blabber on at you guys.

So, moving on to my second rant. And keep in mind, I am limiting myself to responding to ONE statement made by Bush in his speech. It’s just that there’s so much wrongness to deal with. In ONE statement! So, another thing not to like is his whole “activist judges” thing. It scared me big time. You wanna know why? Because it made absolutely clear to me for the first time that there is really NO disconnect between the fundamentalist Christian radio talk-back shows [who popularised the ‘activist judges’ tag], and the Administration running the country. Rather they have a direct line. EEEEEEEK! These guys make laws, direct policy, and apportion funding, yet it appears that they just don’t have a clue about anything except for being CRAZY, because they take their cues from CRAZY HATEFUL people. I don’t really have any more points to make, but can I just say that I really didn’t like that whole “Our nation must defend” bit either, because it was like making ‘the sanctity’ of heterosexual marriage a matter of nationalist pride.

Other hideous and spaz-out worthy statements that I cannot get into today include “Some in this chamber and in our country did not support the Liberation of Iraq”, which was his jumping-off point for saying something about how good it was to have removed the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, or something. Another was his promise to boost abstinence-based sex education funding because abstinence was “the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases”. Grrrrr. That guy’s got real problems. Seriously, [as Al Franken would say] “he gives me the willies whenever he speaks. I don’t like him”. Not everyone is insane though. Many were astonished that Bush would repeat the same lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq, and its ‘links’ to Al-Qaeda. Even the Washington Post editorial wrote “He made no accounting of his mistaken, exaggerated statements about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”. I mean, the WASHINGTON POST! However, my favourite response was this one, from a Democratic congressman; “His policies are extreme, and, in most cases, aren’t working”. Yeah!

Mmmm, fun times last night, though, despite my awkward and embarassing crap-dancing [and that doesn't mean 'charmingly' crap, it means 'crap' crap]. Ventured back into a ‘nightclub’ for the first time since Year 12. Erin made promises of free entry, free drinks, and great music, and she delivered on every one [with a little help from Furze]. I don’t know what people know about the ‘Melbourne scene’, but I don’t know much [despite having been born and raised here]. All I know is that the Nova cinema does cheap movies on Monday, and now, I also know that on Wednesday nights at Room, rock music is played by Rock DJs. Hee hee. And last night, I got to be one of those hangers-on at the door who can dismiss lists because ‘my friend knows the DJ’. Awesome. I love doing that stuff, because like, that whole ‘my friend knows the DJ’ thing has been such an amusing diss, loaded as it is with connotations of huge wankerism, that I always get a thrill making visits to ‘the dark side’ where people actually say such things. The thrill has of course always been ruined by the fact that I’m just out with friends and other friendly people. Damn ‘dark side’, you’re not dangerous or corrupting at all! Just good tunes and stuff. And there’s nothing more fun than watching Erin rock out and dance as if she’s in her bedroom. Actually, what might be more fun than that was watching her blast the drunks who were changing their flat tyre at 7/11 at 5am using Furze’s jack, but being all slow and rude and stupid about it. Cue Erin; “For fuck’s sake! I could have changed that fuckin’ tyre by now. What the fuck is wrong with you? Hurry the fuck up! Hey, he’s doing you a fuckin’ favour here. Fuck off!” Ah, the memories.
For Quote of the Day today, there is one clear winner, but also two honourable mentions that tickled me. First off, there’s this ET teaser about their fashion-focused coverage of the opening day of Martha Stewart’s trial, which went “Martha’s trial by design: her ten thousand dollar Hermes purse, and what’s underneath that long black coat”. And then there was this other ET quote [ET is a really funny show] about Michael Jackson, which went “No more SUV-dancing for Jackson. That’s just one of many recommendations reportedly coming from the singer’s legal team”. Haaaaah hah! However, there can only be one winner, and it is this one, from the collection of drunks with the flat who were enquiring of Furze, “Are those your chicks? Where did you get them? Did you pick them up tonight?”. Hee hee. Man-talk is funny.

Anyway, I’m off. I’ve got two fat, thick and important-looking envelopes to look at that just arrived in the post from RMIT. I am so important.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Yeah. He's a transparent little weasel, that Howard. He of course knows that things like class sizes and teacher training [you know, funding issues] have a major impact on people's evaluation of public schools. At least, he should know. It's kind of his area, public services. He seemed to think he knew a lot about stuff like that when he argued that his government needed, in the true blue spirit of Aussie fairness, to direct extra funding towards private schools. They were suffering, see. He seemed real confident about his handle on education issues back then. So I've gotta assume he still knows what's going on. And yet, despite that, he wilfully focusses the scrutiny on less influential stuff that makes people go crazy and stupid like 'political correctness' and 'values'. He's such a goddamn hack, so how does he get away with it? It's not subtle or anything. It's like that dumbass stuff about 'black armband history' [you know, that 'type' of history that actually explores what has happened in Australia since settlement] being 'too negative' and un-Australian, because, you know, real Australians should be content with lies and denialism. What a freak! And I read that Donelly thing, Guy. Geez, what a twerp. He says that "unions promote an ideologically driven, dumbed-down view of education", and then he's advocating getting rid of the 'negative' 'postmodern' ways of reading texts in favour of more 'positive' and 'moral' readings. He would be such a bad debater, his arguments aren't worth shit. My favourite, though, is when he proves how "captured by the Left" the Education Union is by 'revealing' that "the Eduction Union is a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions". Oh. My. God. You mean, they actually have the audacity to be a Union that is also a member of the national union body! What cheek! Anyway, I just don't understand what the hell they think they're doing. They obviously went to public schools. Where else did they ever learn to be so negative and divisive?

Anyway, to lighten the mood [world's going to hell, we're in another stupid invective cycle, drowning in arseholes, etc] I have decided to share a Quote of the Day that made me laugh heartily. It's from the Advanced Hair ad, which has been recently revamped. Here's what Greg Matthews says about the way the treatment has changed his life; "One thing I noticed was that a lot of young girls started talking to me again". GOLD.
Out of interest I had a look through the Liberal Party webpage to see if there was any mention of glbt issues. There was none, which actually did surprise me. Checked out the ALP page, and at least found some mention in their policy section, under the banner of "discrimination". There was also reference to gay unions etc. I know that I should know this, and I do, but it still comes as a shock that my government is totally ignoring issues so relevant to my life, and future.
Some more of Donnelly's rubbish that I have to include:
"Most Australians love to see their teams win and students love to compete. Not so the AEU; its 1993 policy rejects any form of assessment that is competitive, used to rank students or based on set year-level standards of achievement. Apparently, failing students is bad for their self-esteem." Apparently so.


"The AEU's 2001 and 1995 policies on the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people also display a decidedly PC approach. Not only does the union argue that such groups have the right to teach sex education in schools, it also states that what is taught must "be positive in its approach" and "enhance understanding and acceptance" of such groups." And he has a problem with that?

OOOH... and finally:

"Instead of celebrating what we have achieved as a nation or recognising the benefits of Australia's Anglo-Celtic, Western tradition, students are taught that all cultures should be equally valued. Instead of acknowledging the benefits of the market and the way science has saved millions, students are taught about the extinction of species, the destruction of the ozone layer and global warming." He's saying cultures should not be valued equally? Man, this is seriously offensive stuff. Keep in mind that this guy is a Howard Government Chief of Staff.
Wait, let me get this straight: Howard is claiming that public schools are too “politically correct”, and therefore out of step with mainstream values, and we know this because parents are voting with their feet and fleeing to private schools? Ha? Firstly (as the AEU fed sec asked) exactly which PC value is Howard objecting to? Reconcilliation? Gay rights? Women's rights? And secondly, surely lack of funding is a more obvious motivating force for an exodus into the private system. If you want to become totally riled, read Kevin Donnelly’s opinion piece (he’s some liberal advisor). I particularly liked this bit:
“In tune with postmodern theory, students are told that "knowledge is always tentative", that they should "deconstruct dominant views of society" and "critique the socially constructed elements of text".
Forgotten is the moral and aesthetic value of education. The purpose of education, instead of celebrating positive things, is to show "how privilege and marginalisation are created and sustained in society" and "how the consumer of a text may have been marginalised by authors".

Is the purpose of education really to “celebrate positive things”? What century is this guy living in?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Hmmm, Molly Meldrum's too dangerous to gain entry into America. Now now, don't jump to the conclusion that this confirms everything you were already thinking about the effectiveness [other than political] of America's new security measures. Let's try to look at this from the perspective of the Department of Homeland Security. They are trained to identify potential threats, so, let's see what an unfamiliar eye might make of our Molly. Firstly, you never know what could be under that hat of his. WOMDs cannot be ruled out. [Ergh! And I promised myself that I would get through life without making a Molly-hat joke. Damn sellout! Even worse, I managed to combine it with a lame WOMD one, which I also made promises about. I am obscene!] And, it's true, Molly has in the past used his visits to US shores to fraternise with local dissidents; we cannot reasonably ignore the fact that he was in attendance at the wedding of Sean Penn and Madonna. Additionally, he has held questionable, anti-social, perhaps even dangerous, ideological positions. For example, he declared with pride that Peter Andre deserved to go far. Fair cop, Molly. Where there's smoke there's fire.
Hey, does anybody know why Michael Jackson's Nation of Islam bodyguards were all carrying stacks of newspapers while deploying themselves outside the Santa Maria courthouse the other day? It was a curious image that featured in all the arraignment stories I saw [which pretty much means ET]. My mum and I were watching ET and they would play the footage repeatedly and we kept asking "Why are they carrying stacks of newspapers?" but the only 'exclusive' ET was offering was an exchange between Jann Carl and Michael which consisted of [press jostling, Jann on tip-toe trying to stay above the pack as MJ passes, and calling out] "Michael, are you worried about losing your children?" to which MJ replied "Nah". Very interesting, no? But, I'm telling ya, all anybody watching actually wanted to know about was the reason behind the newspaper thing. And nobody was dishing it. The visual was there [of lines of bodyguards marching around carrying stacks of newspapers] taunting everybody for an explanantion, and yet, nothin. I wanna know about the newspapers! You see how I have an eye for a story?

In other news, it looks like John Kerry is gonna get first place in the Iowa caucuses, which is nice. But anybody coming first would be nice. I just have a soft spot for this guy because I decided last year that he was my guy, and then he disappeared. But I still hope it continues to be a wide open race as they move on to New Hampshire because that means more debate and more instances of candidates matching one another, as with Howard Dean's anti-war stance making Bush's war quite a topic of discussion for all the other candidates, etc. I feel sorry for Dick Gephardt, though. I like him. He's a big union supporter and has been a leader in Congress for 25 years and stuff, and he seems real decent. But he's coming fourth in Iowa and people were saying a bad showing there would do him in. Hope that's not the case. He did a good appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday. Yeah, he's good. I find it hard to have a favourite now, because as soon as I hear one of them talk [except for Lieberman of course, but he's not contesting Iowa anyway], I'm immediately impressed. They had Gephardt, Edwards, Kerry and Dean being interviewed one after the other on NBC Today on Monday, and they all did real good. Kerry's still a good thing, though.
Gotta go. My brother just told me that he has hired out Pumping Iron, that 70s body-building documentary in which Arnie makes a fool of himself. Awesome! I'm sure details will follow. Bye.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Yeeaahh! Ohmygod! Yeeeeeeeeaaaahh! I got into RMIT Journalism. Totally! Can't you just see me tackling serious issues in my trademark hard-headed fashion? Makes sense, don't it?
Can confirm the goodness of Goodbye Lenin! which was signalled by Guy. Really liked it. And man, I love that Eastern Block thing. They really know their clothes and cars. I hope that aesthetic isn't tainted or anything. That would be unfair. I liked that about the film, too. It seemed really sweet-natured and fair about the pros and cons of each society. Nice.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Hey, did anybody else just watch This Is Rockbitch on SBS? You know, that documentary about that British band who all live together in a sex commune in Metz? They have, like, decided to devote their lives to sexual energy, which they say is the source of all energy, and do all these goddess rituals and shit, and the band is like an evangelising tool for their mission, and everyone gets groped, and stuff. Anyway, I was watching it, and I was wondering who in the hell could possibly live with these people? It would be like my own personal hell. I'd go nuts. I'd be all, like "Shut up! Just SHUT UP! Can we talk about something other than the bloody magnificence of womanhood please? And I DON'T CARE about the Celtic origins of this particular piece of flummery! NO, I DO NOT want to do a Pagan ritual right now, OKAY? Stop smugly fondling me! I can't even look at you without irritation. And a 69er is not a 'sexual energy feedback circuit'! Hey lady, masturbate in front of me all you want, but just don't tell me it made you feel connected to the Earth when you're done. No more theories about 'essence' and 'spirituality' and 'sexuality' today, okay? AND STOP PLAYING MUSIC. YOU SUCK!" You know what I mean? I would grind my teeth to the gums if I had to spend elongated periods of time there, man.
Elanor, did you sneakily add self-deprecating inverted commas to our little slogan on the right? It was self-deprecating enough man!
Aghhhh, going insane trying to write thesis, or, if truth be told, trying to start writing thesis. I have this sneaking suspicion that over the long months ahead, I won’t actually be seeking to improve my fundamentally flawed argument, but instead merely attempting to rationalise away its problems. If this is the case, the whole experience is nothing more than an internal rite of passage towards the acceptance of the crap thesis I will eventually submit. What is the point? If I was even vaguely able to learn from past failures, I would realise that I wasted the entirety of last semester having many random existential crises instead of doing work, which I eventually paid for trying to do all my coursework in about two weeks, triggering a minor nervous breakdown and a whole host of rash decisions I lived to regret. But early-twenties melancholy is actually quite a bit more fun (fun perhaps the wrong word) than doing work, so maybe I am on the right track after all.
Annoying things I read yesterday. (1) Ross Warneke's column in the Green Guide, which was remarkably similar in tone to an A Current Affair report. Odd. Is he always this much of a douche? I don't really read his stuff very often because it always seems to have lots of ratings figures in it, yawn, but if the column I am about to bash is anything to go by, this guy really sucks. He basically called for Channel 9 to abandon its filming of The Block because one of the contestants had been in jail. Now, bear in mind that I've been in Darwin for the last week so I'm a little rusty on all our southern social mores, but why on earth would that be a necessary step? The guy was in jail, he served his time and then served his probation time, and now he gets picked to renovate an apartment on TV, and apparently it is scandalously irresponsible of Channel 9, not to mention horribly damaging to its image, to let him get famous for renovating said apartment on TV. "What message is this sending to younger viewers?" and "shame on you Channel 9" and all that. Nuts, right? And you wanna know how Ross knows that Channel 9's reputation will be sullied if the show continues with this ex-con in the cast? He knows because he asked 3AW listeners to ring in and express their opinions about it, and they were all adamant that they would NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be tuning in to The Block's celebration of criminality, no siree bob. Yet last year, Ross was scathing about listeners like these ones who expressed rage at the presence of Wazza and Gav on the first season of The Block. He thought they were ignorant bigots to say things like "What message is this sending to younger viewers?" and "shame on you Channel 9". But apparently, this year, hysterical judgment is sound. What a dick! And how on earth does 'the fact that Channel 9 knows this guy will get famous' mean that they should recast him immediately? I mean, he's gonna get famous for being on a reality TV show, not for being a former manufacturer of amphetamines. The kind of fame that The Block brings to its contestants has absolutely nothing to do with drugs. It has only to do with being on The Block. So how does this guy's presence on the show in any way glorify the drug trade to young kiddies as a route to success and fame and a flair for design? It just doesn't make sense. I mean, does Jamie Durie's presence as host of the show in any way glorify becoming a male stripper [which I understand is not criminal, but think of the kiddies will you?] as a way to get famous? And anyway, aren't ex-cons supposed to make attempts at redressing their wrongs by committing themselves to being positive members of society? I mean, sure, it is The Block, but this former jailbird could be doing worse things with his time, like stoking the wrath of 3AW listeners. Anyway, so I thought that was totally whack.

Speaking of stoking [the segue will happen eventually, just be patient and keenly observant], the other annoying thing I read today was (2) Nikki Gemmell's responses in that The Getting of Wisdom column in The Good Weekend. Now, most people come off badly in this column anyway, because it is structured as "What I Know About..." and then there's a series of words and people have to write what they know about them, you know, because they've learned from their experiences, and stuff. Complete wank. Anyway, I was primed on the crapness of Nikki Gemmell by Amy, who read her The Bride Stripped Bare and found herself infuriated by its utter blurgh. Having only read this column, I would also have to say that this Gemmell chick sucks ass. This was "what she knew about" desire: "the embers of romance can be stoked into flame again". What is she, a Mills & Boon writer? [Apologies to Mills & Boon writers everywhere.] And marriage: "It deepens everything. And sex is a thousand times better with someone you love". This woman is a cliche factory! And porn: "The prime object of sex is union, and yet pornography seems such a solitary, lonely pursuit. It strips sex of mystery, of reverence and transcendence. Porn is sex with no light on it". Oh, just shut up. You said 'transcendence', lady. What are you playing at? Do you even know what year it is? And what the hell does "Porn is sex with no light on it" mean anyway? And writing: "I advise young writers to write as if you're dying. It's a great motivator". Whaaaaa? She is actually giving advice to young writers! She has GOTTA be stopped! However, when I read her, I do feel like I am dying, and reading is a great primer for writing, yes? Anyway, yesterday those two things sucked.

Tell you what doesn't suck, though. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Seriously doesn't suck. Am totally loving it.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I think it's sacrilege to leave Elanor's rundown of the US Democratic nomination in the comments section, so here it is:
Okay, there are 8 people vying for the Democratic nomination, and at the moment, Howard Dean is the favourite, but Wesley Clark is firming as his main competitor, as Dean has no national security experience and Clark is all over that shit, apparently. Both continue to make gaffes, but both also continue to be the focus of media attention and speculation. Dean has more funds than any other nominee because of some internet-based grass roots donation thing, with people going wild for him because he opposed the war in Iraq. That means, that if he loses one of the primary races he is contesting, he'll still have cash left over to contest another one in another state, or something. Most other candidates won't have enough cash to fund numerous tilts at primary races. I'm not actually sure what primaries are, really, but the first thing that's going to happen is the Iowa Caucuses. Clark is not contesting the Iowa caucuses, and is instead placing all his hopes on a win in New Hampshire, which he hopes will give him enough momentum for later charges (also, he had a prior engagement to Iowa. He's been testifying against Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague). A lot of the poorer candidates are strategising likewise.

Anyway, in Iowa, people are saying it's a race between Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean, but it's a bit up in the air. Apparently, Iowans take this caucus thing very seriously and are very conscientious about choosing the right candidate based on policy ideas and electability. Some people think Dean has an electability problem (too liberal, ex-Governor of Vermont who signed that civil union thing into state law, ex-GP, no national security experience, etc). Some others are predicting a Dean backlash in light of his recent move to emphasise his electability by emphasising his religious beliefs. I myself like John Edwards and John Kerry, but they don't seem to have a chance in hell. Kerry was an early favourite, being a Vietnam Vet who returned from two tours of duty to become a principled anti-war figurehead. Very respected. Always gets hit with the 'aloof' and 'elite' and 'intellectual' (gasp!) tag because he likes to be precise and detailed about his statements. However, did a lifestyle piece about his Heinz heiress wife and his penchant for Harley Davidsons though, so, um, not sure about his chances now. Edwards is young and ethical and stuff. However, no coverage, see. Much respect, but no coverage. There's also Joe Leiberman, who's a bit too 'family values' and 'religion is the basis of morality' for my taste. Another one is Denis Kucinich, and I only know about him because David Letterman keeps making fun of his name and chances, though I also get the feeling that he is a decent guy. Too decent, seems to be the consensus.

The 'joke' candidates are Carol Moseley Braun (she's a woman!) and the Rev. Al Sharpton (he's black! He appeared in a Spike Lee film as himself; a black activist!), although Alec Baldwin made a fine point that these two, despite their 'laughable' status, would do a better job than Bush and his Administration. I have come to like Alec Baldwin. Good interview performer. Anyway, Dean overshadows everyone, EXCEPT for Wesley Clark. Clark came into the game late, and his ex-NATO commander stuff and his saving 1.5 million people in Kosovo or something made people go mental for him, too. He's got what Martin Amis refers to as 'retirement wisdom', although Amis was using the term in the 80s in reference to that guy who is the subject of that The Fog Of War documentary. Some believe that if Dean secures the nomination, Clark would be the perfect Vice-President for him, because he would fill up Dean's weak national security spot. Clark, however, stated flat out the other week on america's Meet The Press that if Dean won the nomination, he would not accept the Vice Presidency if the DNC offerred it to him. He's all 'I'm campaigning to be President' at the moment, but, you know, if it all plays out how they say it will, "Your country needs you" might win over "I said NEVER". He also gets grilled a lot about whether or not Hillary will be entering the race. Actually, now that the date for formalising your candidacy for this election has passed, now he gets asked if he would be prepared to VP for Hillary in 2008. I don't think he likes all this VP talk.

Anyway, Iowa happens soon, so I'm rooting for Edwards or Kerry or, well, pretty much anyone except Lieberman. They all seem like good sorts, really, I don't know why everyone keeps making fun of them as a group. Guy, I think I went overboard with this, and I doubt it will help anyone because it's all partial recollections of articles and Newshour and stuff. Oh, and the Madonna thing doesn't matter unless she gives a substantial donation or does massive fundraising stuff, which is what makes Babs a Democrat queen. I think Michael Moore is also stumping for Clark, but my brother says he's not as funny as Al Franken, so who knows what that means?
Welcome home Elanor. Regrets bout Dawson's. Anyway... found an interesting comment or two by Mel Gibson, on this very excellent blog, that reaffirms my prejudice that he's a tosser, and kinda crazy too. Here's a bit from the Playboy interview:

PLAYBOY: We take it that you're not particularly broad-minded when it comes to issues such as celibacy, abortion, birth control --
GIBSON: People always focus on stuff like that. Those aren't issues. Those are unquestionable. You don't even argue those points.
PLAYBOY: You don't?
PLAYBOY: What about allowing women to be priests?
PLAYBOY: Why not?
GIBSON: I'll get kicked around for saying it, but men and women are just different. They're not equal. The same way that you and I are not equal.
PLAYBOY: That's true. You have more money.
GIBSON: You might be more intelligent, or you might have a bigger dick. Whatever it is, nobody's equal. And men and women are not equal. I have tremendous respect for women. I love them. I don't know why they want to step down. Women in my family are the center of things. An good things emanate from them. The guys usually mess up.
PLAYBOY: That's quite a generalization.
GIBSON: Women are just different. Their sensibilities are different.
PLAYBOY: Any examples?
GIBSON: I had a female business partner once. Didn't work.
PLAYBOY: Why not?
GIBSON: She was a cunt.
PLAYBOY: And the feminists dare to put you down!
GIBSON: Feminists don't like me, and I don't like them. I don't get their point. I don't know why feminists have it out for me, but that's their problem, not mine.
Okay, I just returned from my trip to Darwin this morning, so, you know, blah blah, natural wonders of Kakadu, blah blah, tropical weather, blah blah, burnt and blistered and seeping skin, blah blah, all good holiday fun, yes? Or, was it THE worst and most damaging decision OF MY LIFE?! I'm in the middle of a mental breakdown at the moment, so I can't quite tell which. You see, Darwin does not get CHANNEL 10. I never thought much of this situation before, as why would I? Darwin not having Channel 10 could never effect me in any profound way, right? AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!! Now, I have come to see that this pissy little dumbass regional TV anomaly is completely RIDICULOUS and WRONG and, in relation to me, A FATAL MISTAKE! I AM UNDONE! All I did was go to Darwin for 6 freakin days, and now, MY LIFE IS OVER! But, there might still be hope for me, right? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, somebody tell me that they taped the final three episodes of Dawson's Creek [which aired, in Melbourne, at 1.30pm on Channel 10 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week]. PLEASE!!!! YOU GOTTA HELP ME! I did not watch [or tape] that frickin show every single damn day of this summer [until my disastrous departure to Darwin] just to be stiffed at the finish. C'mon people, I GOTTA see those episodes. I NEED closure. Dawson MUST die horribly so that everyone else on the show can develop into the cool people they have shown the potential to be whenever Dawson is NOT around. Or, there could be this showdown, where everyone tells Dawson what a dick he is and vow as a group never to speak to him again, unless it is to say "Shut up, dick!" And DON'T tell me that that's not how it ends, okay people? Just cough up the tape and let me see every missed moment of it for myself. Honestly though, I will be eternally grateful for any skerrick of footage. Without it, I will be sick with pain for the remainder of my [now hideously short] life. I have been forsaken most cruelly. My psyche is in grave danger. I cannot assimilate this loss. It is too much. Bloody goddamn Darwin! Bloody goddamn me! A pox on the both of us. I can't believe I witlessly abetted my own demise. Why didn't I THINK? Oh, this is a bitter end. PLEASE! CAN ANYBODY HELP ME!

P.S.Never leaving my house again!
Horrible memories of that ghastly Mystic River have been fully erased by the brilliant Goodbye Lenin. Fantastic. Funny, moving, smart, and it never sinks into mawkishness or Weekend at Bernie's style farce. Ahhh. Good film afterglow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Sunrise, e.g. Brekkie Central, is in holiday mode and, in the tradition of all summer editions, the crapness is rising. Oooooh lets put all our newsreaders in boxer shorts! That'll be a fun start to the day! Oooooh lets make lots of pseudo-sexist comments 'cause it makes us seem down to earth and non-PC and gets us the ratings! Ooooh why don't we get our newsreader to impersonate one of Saddam's advisors while we do a story bout him. What's integrity ever got us? And everyone hates Iraq, right? Excuse my sarcasm, but vomit! Anyway, the point I was gonna make is that it really irks me when shows that use a male-female presenting combo (in which the male leads) replace the man over summer... and give the male replacement the dominant role, rather than the woman who is technically more senior and should lead. Sunrise has replaced "Koshy" with some random dude who has assumed Koshy's wanker personality and arrogance. Poor Natalie (sorry, Nat) has to sit there and play second fiddle to this random purely because he's a guy. In a just world, HE would be the one laughing at lame jokes and saying stuff like "I don't have a clue how cars work...". Especially when poor Nat has suffered so much already. Ooh, man it would be cool if, just for a day, Nat was replaced with someone like Maxine McKew. Yeah! She would take NO shit, and eat em all for... brekkie. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Madonna has done what she failed to do with her lame-arsed American Life video retraction, and aligned herself politically. In a letter on her website, she’s come out in support of Wesley Clark, and criticised the Bush administration: "Our greatest risk is not terrorism and it's not Iraq or the "Axis of Evil." Our greatest risk is a lack of leadership, a lack of honesty and a complete lack of consciousness. Unfortunately our current government cannot see the big picture. They think too small. They suffer from the "what's in it for me?" syndrome. The simple truth is that the current administration has squandered incredible opportunities to bring the world together, to promote peace in regions that have only known war, to encourage health in places that are ravaged with disease, to make us more secure by living up to our principles at home and abroad. The simple truth is that the policies of our current administration do not reflect what is great about America. Calling Clark an example of the “American Dream”, and an American hero, she says she’ll be actively campaigning for him up to and during the next election. Thoughts? Actually, Elanor, you'll know about this... where does Clark stand among the Democrat hopefuls? More to the point, does anyone care about a Madonna endorsement these days... is Madge becoming the next Barbra Streisand e.g. Democrat Princess sitting atop waning career.
Before becoming Peaches, Peaches was a schoolteacher... fantastic!
Has the world gone mad? Mystic River, the Clint Eastwood directed murder/mystery starring 80s actors who made it through the lean years (Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins) has been racking up all kinds of critical acclaim: 5 star reviews, lots of nominations etc. etc. Yet, after seeing it last night I can objectively confirm that it was a piece of utter, utter shit. So shit that its shitness is beyond a matter of opinion - it just was. Shit dialogue, plot, direction. Over-acting all round. Misguided forays into psychologising ("in a way I feel like we all died that day, the day they took Dave away"), totally obvious plot twists and hitting-head-with-brick symbolism. Three quarters of the way in we were like: "is this parody? Please let it be parody...". Can someone tell my why this film is critically acclaimed? Am I missing something? If anyone has had a positive experience with this film, please let me know.

In more positive news, I have Peaches tickets (props to Marty!), and just bought This is Not a Test! which is looking very, very good.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Kylie Minogue seems about to substantially damage her reputation by releasing her cynical US-aimed Red Blooded Woman as single no.2 from her decadent Body Language. With its late 90s Destiny’s Child meets eurotrash production, and cod sexy lyrics, it is HILARIOUS, and tragic, all at the same time. To get across the absurdity of the whole thing, I’ve typed in the lyrics below, and have taken the liberty of putting the lines that particularly suck in bold. Things that really suck are in bold and italics. Keep in mind that this is a 35 year old woman singing with an anglo-Australian accent…

Can't stop, Count backwards 5 4 3 2 1,
Before you get too heated and turned on
(This guy),
You should have learned your lessons all them times before,
You've been bruised, you've been broken,
Then there's my mind saying think before you go,
Through that door it could lead you nowhere (This guy),
Has got you all romantic, crazy in your head,
Do you think I'd listen, no I don't care,
‘Cause I can't focus I can't stop, You got me spinning round,
round, round, round (Like a record)
I can't focus it's too hot (Inside), You'll never get to Heaven
if you're scared of getting high, (Boy, boy)
Let me keep freaking around, I wanna get down,
I'm a red blooded woman, what's the point in hanging round,
Don't wanna keep turning it down, When this girl wants to rock with you
My conscience saying, get down off this dream, It's too dangerous and deadly,
Has got you talking round in circles can't you see,
All for the sake of sexy (You're loving it),
Then there's my sense saying stop before you fall,
I don't wanna pick you up again,
Has got you all romantic, crazier each day, Do you think I'd listen,
There's no way.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Speaking of summer, I just got back from a night by the sea at Shoreham. At least, you could hear the sea. Man, that place is changing. From beachside outpost to new yuppie paradise, all in about three years. I, obviously, am part of this transformation, but I like to think I’m a little subtle about it. First sign of transformation: lots of BMW X5s (possibly the wankiest, thrustiest car around) with P-plates driving round with shaggy beach-types inside. Second sign: the general store now has an outdoor “café-style” seating area tacked on to the front, right next to the 1960s style petrol pump. The place is obviously aware of the presence of city-types, as the store has a huge sign out front advertising “old fashioned friendly service”. The fact they feel they can advertise this means alleged old fashioned service obviously doesn’t exist, something that has been confirmed to me on numerous occasions as they serve me with barely concealed contempt. The level of scorn was so high that as I walked home I was having visions of waking up at night to find the house surrounded by townsfolk in capes, carrying burning torches and demanding that I go back to the ‘burbs. Maybe that’s why I found a doll’s torso by the fence, with its head and arms in my garbage bin. Definately a sign of devil-worship cult-like activities taking place, probably being performed by otherwise straight-laced, middle-class, respectable citizens.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Ignoring Elanor's wish-list for the perfect blog I plan to take Symposiasts thoroughly down-market in her absence. For the next week or so, it will be known as Symposiasts: Summer Edition, and in the tradition of summer editions, standards of content, editing and effort are expected to fall considerably. Space will perhaps be filled with vapid opinion pieces about shopping, weekends away, coffee accessories and such. Or perhaps the Bush twins. They just had a bit of a "write-up" in the papers this morning (it is still summer), and they totally seem like the Hilton sisters of the next generation, with added presidential gravitas. Countless drink-driving charges! Using the secret service as party limo to P-Diddy booze-ups! Slouching at their daddy's inauguration! Speaking of the Hilton sisters, there were a few things I left off my half-arsed G List 2003 roundup: their visit to Australia should have firmly been in the "Good" column, and Jewel's misguided new album and image should have been slotted in under "Bad". I said it then and I'll say it now: what was she thinking? She's like the Body Shop of pop: tries to save the world, but in the end it's all about lip gloss.
I'm off to Darwin for about a week to visit my sister. So Guy, dearest, you on duty, and the thesis can go to heck. Now, don't get anxious or anything. It's just that you are the only thing standing between this blog and its death. No pressure, okay? I've just got a few teeny weasley inconsequential little shameful jobs for you to do while I'm gone;
1. Make this blog brilliant and witty and stuff.
2. Write the essential blog piece of our times, so that Symposiasts will become the thing that all of blogworld is talking about.
3. In this way, make us blog celebrities.
4. Use new found fame to tastefully, and with dignity and integrity intact, get us nominated for The Bloggies [or just fill out the nomination form yourself]. I don't care that there's only a $20 prize [it's a US$20!], I wanna win, damnit!
Now, I don't wanna get crazy here. I understand that we are just a piddling little outfit. However, since there are heaps of categories for which we could be nominated [should the people oblige], I'm gonna need you to understand that failure is not an option. You've gotta bag at least one of these puppies for me [I mean, for us]. I have humbly decided that we are deserving victors in the following categories [again, should the people oblige];
best australian or new zealand weblog
best tagline of a weblog
best topical weblog
most humourous weblog
[see how I joke?]
best-kept-secret weblog
best new weblog

and of course, the big daddy weblog of the year
I have been tossing up whether or not to make a play for best american weblog because of the tendency of our content to concern itself with that country, but I guess it's up to the public to decide whether or not to nominate us for it. Yeah yeah, it's all about the people. Nothing to do with me... Just get it done. NOW!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I just got a new phone. It's so beautiful. I can't help sneaking a glance at it now and then just to bask in its good looks. It makes me want to improve myself - buy new clothes, exercise, be a nicer person - just so I can match it. It seems so together, it's inspiring.
Love Actually was a smug little stinker. Vomit! The scary thing was that near the end I was on the verge of being moved, as its slow process of breaking down resistance took effect. On the flip side, Emma Thompson was awesome, but her story seemed to get forgotten amongst all the paper-thin romance. You should have been more explicit in your warnings Elanor! The frightening thing was that when they showed that snippet of Titanic a tear automatically came to my eye... Jack! Rose! Jack!
Have just started reading Martin Amis' collection of reviews and essays entitled The War Against Cliche and it is frickin exceptional. I am highly recommending it to anyone who feels like reading something. And even though it's completely smart and cool, and intelligently treats a variety of subject matter over about a 30 year period, it's still not heavy-going or anything because it's a collection of magazine pieces and stuff, so it's like reading a 490-page magazine but coming out smarter at the end of it. Yay. I love it when things are easy and enjoyable and thrilling. Oh yeah, and improve the mind too. Maybe. But golly this Amis boy can write and he makes the most perfect comments about stuff. I am completely within his thrall and treat everything he says with credulity. Another recommended thing is to go to the Astor, even though we all know that already. Anyway, saw a double bill of City of the Lost Children and Delicatessan there last night. Seriously cool.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I don't often listen to the radio, but I was just having a shower and I had the most happy-making radio experience in recent memory. I'm not flaunting the fact that I shower at you or anything. It's just a requisite piece of information for the whole 'listening to the radio' scenario to take place. You see, when I have a shower, the fog of the hot water makes any CDs skip in my stupid stereo, so I have in recent times taken a chance on Triple J, in lieu of any other [I had supposed] options. And that was fine and all, but it's gone bad over the break. So, taking a chance, today I moved the dial. Who knew that nudging the thing only a smidge backwards on the FM band could entrain such immense and unparalleled joy? My favourite song from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Tongue, was playing [and let me tell you, that's a hard race to win], which was something I had never experienced before. Anyway, so I thought, "Cool, I'll stick with this station, even though this good judgment can't possibly be sustained and utter crap will undoubtedly follow". Man, I am so wrong sooo much of the time, I should have really learned by now. Because the very next song was my favourite song from The Hells, He's The Devil [But I Love Him So]. It was a glorious moment. Yay, boogying in the shower! The glory palled later when the hosts changed over and I was met with that same annoying girl-tone employed by all the Triple J girl hosts, but still, whatever this station is, I'm sticking with it. I know I'm going nuts over two good songs being played consecutively, but still, I am counting this as an enriching discovery, made all the more sweet because it only happened due to a bored whim. And, as bored whims are pretty much the only things that lead me to action [if this blog can be called action. It was also born out of a bored whim, though not mine], I like to jump all over any speck of proof that they can lead me to good things.
Hey, having watched the Steve Irwin footage a few times, would anybody actually characterise what he is doing as baby dangling per se? I mean, I thought it was more like clutching, followed by some trotting. What's wrong with those words? They're apropos enough, right? However, I do see that there's definitely a baby present, and a piece of dead chicken dangling, during a crocodile feeding stunt, so I guess it's pretty accurate to average it all out as a "baby dangling stunt". Check, check, and check. I don't know though. It just seems like there's some deliberate referencing going on here which, as luck would have it, manages to cue repeat screenings of Michael Jackson's time in Berlin. Huh. Moving on now. So hey, I'm just curious, but is the whole fingerprinting and photographing foreign travellers arriving in the US thing really fucked up, or not? I mean, are fingerprints not such a big deal after all? It doesn't appear that they are now, but still, I've got a niggling feeling happening anyway. Is that just old hat? Because, like, in The Crucible even your name was a big deal, but those pilgrim types were totally dramatic about shit like that. Calm down Daniel. And brush your teeth, man. Anyway, yes or no?

P.S. Oh, and apologies for using the words per se and apropos, but I was in the mood to test your love.

Monday, January 05, 2004

ATTENTION! Everyone has gotta watch Wife Swap. Ohmygod.
OK, time for some real reporting. According to ET online, Britney and Jason Allan Alexander wed at the “Little White Wedding Chapel” on the strip. By the afternoon they were seeking an annulment. Spears’ publicist suggested that the couple had taken a “joke too far”. Seems like meltdown material to me.

I’m hesitant to offer an opinion on Dogville as I’m never sure whether films truly stink, or whether I’m not evolved enough to “get” them. But I know a good film when I see one – this Dogville was not. It didn’t stink either. Instead it just pretentiously plodded along making its grand points about the human condition blah blah. For the first half I was quite OK with this because I had somehow got it into my head that it was ending at chapter six. When I discovered another THREE chapters were to come, man, that was bad.

But how do I back up my gut dislike? Certainly not with a coherent argument. Instead I’ll offer up a few things that got me goin “ewwww”. Firstly, the creative design (is that the term) of the whole thing kinda shat me. I’m assuming here that Lars was aiming for some kind of theatrical honesty. A raw, barely mediated cinema experience. Just us, the actors and the camera. But really, the whole thing was incredibly complex – brilliant lighting, wonderful camera-angles and subtle special effects (all very expensive). It wasn’t “honest” at all. It looked awesome, but I don’t see how showing a chalk outline of a building has any more artistic merit than showing a building. It’s just more affected.

After seeing Lars gradually break down Bjork (and countless others I’m told), the slow process of reducing Nicole to a corpse-like lump seemed all too familiar. I found it quite upsetting that the rape scenes were by the end so blasé, although I take Elanor’s point about the processes of desensitization that go along with any kind of violence. Maybe my point is more that I found it irksome that violent rape became something mostly symbolic; a symbolism laid on thick with all the references to “apples from the tree” with “juices flowing” etc. Sexual violence in film should never represent anything but sexual violence! Listen to me all you pretentious directors into reckless symbolism!

I really don’t know what else to say. Surely my strong dislike was based on more than two flimsly points… Luckily I can’t follow this through because it has now reached my self-imposed deadline to start my thesis, but I will say one more thing. Elanor, my theory that James Caan was sposed to represent God TOTALLY has merit.
Whaaaaaaaa!? Britney got married in Vegas?

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Okay, so I just saw Dogville and I am a little wary of commenting on it. But more on that later. For the moment, I’m just going to deal with my reaction to the film as it screened. So, just as the film was beginning, I was struck by the cold fear that I was entering a ‘pretension overload’ zone. However, I managed to get quite into it on a “I hate this town” and a “Leave Nicole alone, you jerks” basis, because my avid rage is a sucker for that whole “Blind Cruelty of the Powerful to the Powerless” thing, which is my fancy title for the whole “mob turns on the ‘weak’ and ignores its own behaviour and divests itself of any shame by locating the victim as the origin and bearer of all the incurred shame” thing. You dumbass mean jerks! I found the ending quite commensurate to the film. However, having just watched Apocalyspe Now yesterday, I was ready to crack up if they went anywhere near that whole Conrad “the horror, the horror” thing. I also liked that bit with James Caan when they’re debating Grace’s whole forgiveness thing and he says that she is not harsh on others for doing things for which she would judge herself harshly were she to do them. I felt ‘found out’ by that. And then I felt quite queasy because, well, how high school is that whole it’s speaking directly to my soul thing anyway? But then I remembered that I actually let myself off easy all the time, which nixed that whole found out and directly to my soul business. Hee hee. I finally used the word “nixed”. Mmmm, sophisticated. You see, I’m way beyond high school now. I’ve moved on to being dismissed as “undergraduate”. Anyway, so I sat through the film without much ‘critical’ consternation. I simply thought it a mean film, but quite good if you could embrace its aesthetic and ignore its ambition. But now, as time elapses, my feelings are growing progressively more negative and dismissive about it as an enterprise as a whole. Hence the wary. So now I am thinking, “what is prompting this reconsideration?” Mmmm. I think that it’s down simply to my reflecting on the film and re-evaluating it upon review, all while using independent thought. But I might be wrong. You can’t just take my word for it. There might be other factors influencing me. To be fair, there probably are. So now, in opposition to Dogville’s [I think] assertion of that whole ‘essential humanity irrespective of environmental factors’ thing, I will, in the interests of frankness, describe for you the post-movie environment I encountered so that you might be better able to discern from the totality of my film-going experience the answer to my whole “what is prompting this reconsideration” question, and thereby get a better read on the credibility of my eventual judgment of Dogville. So, the following are some of the post-film comments made by those with whom I saw it.

From Erin; “Aaaarrggh! Revolting and stupid!”, and “I want to go up there and burn the reel!”, and “Yeah, totally too thin. She looked like two sets of legs, with one set on top of the other”. From Leah; “Chapter details were a bit too cute. Narration was way too much. And the premise of Dogville as ‘a microcosm of essential humanity’, and the use of the town’s layout as a way of underscoring that flimsy point, is quite [personally/intellectually] offensive. You really can’t make a strong statement about ‘human nature’ if you assert that mythic ‘universal’ argument and ignore the effects of socio-economics and culture and the fact that people’s behaviour is arrived at in situe”. [I think, in this case, that those two are firmly in the David Stratton camp, viewing Lars von Trier as a “charlatan” who dresses up his films to fool and bamboozle “educated” viewers into liking them and thinking them rather smart] From Guy; “Um, was James Caan meant to be God?”, and, “Lauren Bacall is amazing”, followed by, “Hey! Lauren Bacall is a living legend, Elanor!”, even though, like, dude, she’s barely in the film, and she was in need of pore-refining cream, arright? And apologies to Marty for not having any quotable quotes. [Tsk tsk. If you will have other friends…]

So, these were strong opinions. Vehement dislike was expressed. So, I had to wonder, “what was up with that?” Thus, whereas before I hadn’t really considered forming much of a response to the film, these statements tipped me off that there might be more to look into about it. So I must own them as influential. They got me thinking.

And now, the thoughts. That whole ‘town stripped bare’ layout was problematic [you see? Sooo undergrad]. It was visually interesting, and I don’t think that it actually acted to erase the socio-economic aspect of the locality, but I think we can still put it down to mere trickery. It screamed “this should trigger thoughts about ‘getting down to the essentials’ which should lead you to think that ‘thematically’ this film concerns itself with bare and direct living”. It was also a cynical play for cred, because of that whole theatre-film high-low art opposition thing. You know, the subtle “Hey guys! It’s like a play!” was a mindset groomer [or ‘head-fuck’] which fed into “See how spare the set dressings are? Look how much you won’t be distracted from the performances and character interactions [a self-defeating argument, yes?] Look!” To which we chumps respond, “Oh look! Those actors who aren’t even in this scene are still performing their characters in the background! Wow! We go batshit over stuff like that!” Give me a break. But most heinous of all, the set provided far too much scope for mime. Unforgiveable. And I am cringing just at the thought of what the actors might be saying now about 'the process' and about it being so rare and cool to have so much rehearsal time, as in a play etc. Eeeww. I do, however, think that the film got the ‘precariousness of being indebted’ thing right. I could go with the whole ‘people get affronted and start the ingrate bashing, which then mutates into a license to get mean’ thing. What I now can’t go with, though, is what we’re supposed to accept as an inevitable symptom of the turn to meanness. Remarkably, until I actually thought about it, I didn’t realise how shitty all the raping was. You see, I had prior knowledge of the raping before going into the film, so I didn’t really think about it at all, but rather just waited for it to happen. However, now I’m like, “Hey yeah! What is with that old chestnut about males in their basest form being like, sexual aggressors, and shit?” All I’m saying is that rape is not necessarily the last logical step for guys who think that they are owed something from a girl who is poorly treated by everyone around her, and it’s kinda crappy to claim that actually, universally, it is. But I did think that the specific act of chaining her to a heavy object to prevent escape, and attaching a bell to her throat manacle so that her movement could be tracked, and then being able to view her with equanimity and a sense of 'right' as she struggled about, spoke quite powerfully of the extent to which the townsfolk had forgotten themselves and the gaze of others. Hmmmm. What else? Ah yes, it didn’t seem to go deep. Actually, it did seem to go deep, but that was the trickery talking. It didn’t hit you deep is what I mean. It triggered baleful glaring at certain characters in certain moments, but that doesn't count as profundity. But now I’m rethinking this again. Maybe that whole stylised thing without much profundity was good. Because, I did like how she just shut down as her ordeal progressed. I thought that loss of feeling quite true. So, why would anything really have to hit you, if the movie is working on the whole ‘banal brutal and short’ [I’m paraphrasing] mundanity and lack of profundity as its take on human life? Actually, now I’m thinking that if you consider the film within the frame of its constructions, it works. I said the ending was commensurate, didn’t I? Maybe it’s only when you remove the thing from it’s own universe that it shits, offends, annoys and affronts. But you can remove it if you wanna. There is definitely scope to take issue with the premise. And, taking issue with that tends to undo the whole film. Maybe I’ll do that later tonight, and then be all flipped back by tomorrow morning. Hmmmm. Don’t really know what to say, actually.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Oh dear. Poor Posh. She is going to get absolutely slammed for her appearance on the World Idol results show. She left herself so open to pot-shots. What was she thinking entering an environment where everyone is in the habit of critically evaluating the live perfomances of amateurs, and lip-synching? And why oh why would she air a new single of hers on a show that has popularised the phrase 'poor song choice'? She's dead.
Last night, I was trying to think of what the word of 2003 was, but I didn't hit upon it until this afternoon, so I suppose it can't count as part of my end-of-year round-up [which, as you know, was completed on December 31st, 2003]. Anyway, you wanna hear it? Okay. I decided that this one was the winner because it originated as a reality TV term but has somehow become acceptable in general conversation without raising many eyebrows. I also say that whole "without raising many eyebrows" thing because you may wish to dispute my choice on the basis of "never heard of it", but before you do, I say "hark", dear fellows. You just haven't been paying attention. Anyway, the word is "reveal". Okay, maybe it's actually "the reveal", which might more accuarately make it a term. It also often gets embellished as "the big reveal". You know, people say stuff like, "But I guess we'll find that out in the big reveal". You get me? Anyway, I'm solid on this one. I consider 2003 to be the year of "the reveal".
Okay. I know the new year is already upon us and everything, but let’s just pretend that it’s still the 31st of December, 2003, so that we can furthermore pretend that I sneaked my year-in-review observations in under the wire. I am fabricating my doctor’s note as we speak so that you’ll accept this piece without taking any marks off for my lateness. Oh, and I have two dogs, so like, cut me some slack. Cyber paper can be eaten, you know! My god, that's a try-hard joke. Anyway, my editor, Guy [have you gone crazy? Marcia Hines is evil], requested this piece from me with more than a few days to spare, but I had a few blockages to deal with before I could get it underway. Firstly, there was the question of whether or not it was too cliché to do one of these ‘travesties and triumphs’, ‘cheers and jeers’, ‘best and the not so muches’ of 2003 when it appeared that everyone else was doing them and had already filed them in good time. When I spoke of my intention to write one, my little brother whined, “Oh dude. Everyone is doing those. What’s the point?” So now, I present my retort. “What’s the point? What’s the point?! Listen, you little pipsqueak [looming above me]. You’re not even a member of my audience, so what’s it to ya? I actually have an obligation to those troubled souls who exhibit the good taste to hang on my every utterance, and the fact that you even dared to pose the question ‘What’s the point?’ proves that you have a lot to learn about permissible blog material. Asshole.” The point also is that, well, everyone is doing them. And we here at Symposiasts need to match them, as a token of our legitimacy as published cultural commentarians. We know how to play the game. To be left behind the pack at this early [oh, I mean late. Late! It’s December 31st people! Remember it] stage of the year might set a precedent that could determine… well, nothing really. But, you know, there’s all this pressure at the moment to like, start as you mean to go on, and all that. The second blockage to beginning this piece was probably the more influential one. Namely, I can’t remember a freakin thing that happened this year. Well, I can, but, you know what I mean. It’s all hazy and inconsequential now. But I shall try. I even did some research in an attempt to jog my memory and situate happenings within the time-space continuum… so I, uh, like, read some other people’s years-in-review. And now, let’s let loose on this thing.

The E List of Things I Can Remember About The Year 2003

Okay, let me just say that the following will not be taking the form of a list. If the above title misled you in any way, well, sue me [don’t! Please, please don’t. And anyway, I think the first sentence of this post-title paragraph actually acts as a disclaimer. So there!]. And hey, you don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. Hah hah! Track me down if you’re a psycho [please don’t, esp if psycho] but otherwise, let’s move on. Sheesh. So testy. And anyway, I have only just started composing this thing, so who knows? Maybe some list-like elements will be appearing in the mix before this thing is through for all you old-schoolers out there. Hard core. Okay, so now to the actual stuff. Yeah! Woop! Alright! I am not prattling to delay the actual airing of opinions here. I do not fear the spectre of [by virtue of a lack of preparedness] omitting something HUGE and thereby losing all, well, [delicately testing the waters] ‘cred’. You guys will take anything, and we all know it. So, no fear. Let’s, ah, go.

Could I just begin by saying that I really couldn’t give a toss that this year marked the return to television of Andrew Denton? However, I really could give a toss that Shaun Micallef was removed from it [and I mention these two men together without meaning for you to infer that I think it appropriate for them to always be mentioned together]. And moving on, I will now express my frustration that every single person [excepting Kate Langbroek who rightly accused Ben of emotional battery] called upon to broadcast an opinion about Big Brother, was a dick. Why on earth did they expect us all to be on tenterhooks about the next ‘surprise’ BB would be dishing out? Doesn’t anybody get that the whole reason we’re watching the show is the people who are on it? The debates and arguments we have are only about the people; who we like, who we loathe, etc. Predicting the winner is beside the point until the final week, and Gretel’s outfits can rarely sustain anything more than a “What did you think of what she was wearing?” followed by the response, “Eh!?” [shrug]. Um, what else? Rove, despite being ubiquitous, actually managed to disappear from my radar this year [except for that time during the Comedy Festival when I spotted him and Belinda talking to that Comedy Inc. guy in the row in front of me]. Is his show good? Do we still watch it? Also this year, my relationship with Wil Anderson soured irrevocably. I used to think he was okay, and then he got good-looking so I actually paid money to see his festival shows, even though they were boring but somehow irritating at the same time. My sister, who likes him, made me pay money for a few more years, but this year it was too much. He was still doing Crocodile Hunter material! Only losers like Adam Hills still do that material! So over. The Glass House totally lost its lustre because of heinous hack Wil. Dave Hughes is the only saving grace of that show, but still, that hasn’t proved to be enough. But who cares about The Glass House when CNNNN rules so big time? RULES! SOOOO BIG TIME! In other things that rule, I refer again to Jon Stewart’s show. Completely freakin fabulous, man. My favourite ‘story’ from them this year was Steven Colbert’s report from ‘merry old England’ [actually a NY studio with picture of the Houses of Parliament] about Prince Charles’ alleged ‘something-or-other’. It completely mocked the coy game the press was playing with that story by having Steven deliver his report – “Although I of course know the exact nature and all the intimate details of the allegations being made, I am nonetheless forbidden by England’s strict libel and slander laws from repeating them, being in ‘England’ and all [wink]” – all while suggestively eating a banana. You know, a [wink] banana. It was brilliant satire, especially because it was exhibiting behaviour that differed only slightly from what was coming from the ‘real’ journalists covering the ‘real’ story. Piss funny. Anyway, although it was hilarious, I don’t consider the whole Charles thing to be the HUGEST non-story of the year. That gong goes to the BRITNEY-MADONNA-christina KISS! This is old-hat griping now but, come on! How far gone is Madonna to think that a faux-lesbian kiss is still an outrageous piece of titillation for the masses? Um, okay, obviously not far gone enough. Damn masses. How dare you make me wrong! More egregiously though, how dare you make Madonna right?! Seething still. Harrumph. Now, what else? Ah yes, the war. A completely psychotic episode I think you’ll all agree. Remind me again, why was invading Iraq considered a valid response to, um, what? Not global terrorism, that’s for sure. Wait. Was it global terrorism? I can’t be sure now, but I think I remember some distinctions blurring slightly, which of course was only a matter of oversight and not intentional at all. That would have been irresponsible and misleading, and you know, a president doesn’t just send soldiers into harm’s way on some flimsy pretext. These are serious people doing serious work here. They don’t lie. Anyway, why were we all laughing along at all jokes with punch lines like “but that’s the French for you!”, or “what are you, French?”, or “damn French!”, or “in France!”, or, just to keep it interesting and topical, “Uday and Qusay!” [while naturally omitting “and that 14-year-old kid!”]. Hilarious. Their names are sooo funny! And, by the way people, how did we ever consider the story of that limbs-blown-to-smithereens-and-16-members-of-family-annihilated kid to be ‘heart-warming’? We are totally weird. Tell ya who else is weird. That David Blaine guy. Weird. And Seigfreid & Roy. Weird. Magicians in general are quite strange, really. What is with them? Rosie O’Donnell seems a bit lame. As do most award shows and Mark Holden. Millsy is not attractive, and he can’t sing either. Please do not let him onto TV and describe him as a charming host. I’m talking to you, casting agents. However, casting agents aren’t all bad. Serious snaps must go to the people who found the Queer Eyes. I love you guys. Will you be my friends? The Amazing Race is totally awesome. I don’t know what prompted me to say that, but believe it. Also awesome this year was Alias. I hadn’t watched it before, but got completely hooked. I really liked that Will guy and that whole real Francie/fake Francie emotionally wrenching thing. Also, that dorky gadget guy is cool. At the moment, I’m really thinking Scrubs is a great show. I pissed myself when there was random mention of an Althzeimers patient laying tackles on the doctors, and then this guy topples JD while yelling “Who am I?” Pissed my pants. Also pissed my pants for the last twenty seconds The Spanish Apartment. Seriously, watch it, and see how the final moments completely undo the cred of the whole film by forcing ‘new Europe’ crap and lame-arse witlessness onto an otherwise loose movie. The three of us were spluttering at it, but the rest of the audience, not so much. Ah well, some people are just from another planet. Case in point, at the moment I am reading an hilarious and astute book by Al Franken called Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. If you like the book’s title, just wait for some of the names of the chapters, like “Ann Coulter: Nutcase”, and “You Know Who I Don’t Like? Ann Coulter” and “Bill O’Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Bully”, and “I Attend the White House Correspondents Dinner and Annoy Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and the Entire Fox Team”. It’s really good, but scary too. These people are crazy! CRAZY! And NOT TO BE TRUSTED! Yet they wield influence, both blatant and insidious. Scary. I’m looking forward to reading his Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. Don’t let Moore-fatigue [if you are even experiencing it. I’ve heard it might be happening is all] deter you from this book. Good stuff. Truth to power, baby. Anyway, this thing’s gone on a bit, so I’m just going to try and leave you with some tips about who to praise and who to lambaste if you are planning to cannily insinuate yourself with me by posing as a kindred spirit. Yes, a list will follow. Would I hold out on you? I’m keepin it real fo ma peeps. Peace out.

The E List of LOVE
Listen, you lazy fools. I’ve been workin my butt off all year. Give me a break! Read the frickin archives! Alright, just because I’m generous, I’ll give you this morsel of a clue; television is key.

The E List of LAME
Um, again; television is key.

Even though it is still only December 31st [remember?], I am assuming that tomorrow I’ll be able to say that I had a great New Year’s Eve in great company and, thankfully, woke up without hangover. I am predicting that the whole ‘driving with the guy in the boot of the car’ story is going to get more ‘outrageous’ as the years go by and we become pathetic old people who tend to make random things like these somehow self-aggrandising. Ah, youth. Zany.