Thursday, March 31, 2005

Anyone for Tennis?


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OK, lazy afternoon gratuituous eye-candy posting. Vaguely related to my life in that last weekend I managed to get locked inside a tennis court. Unfortunately it wasn't with Marat Safin. *sigh*

And while we're on tennis: I've had about half a dozen different sources point out my resemblance to Roger Federer:

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I report, you decide.

What a self-indulgent posting this is. Bad QueerPenguin. Bad!

Hell's Teeth, Aunty Vanessa!

FFS - Chris Eccleston has already quit after only one season of the new Dr Who.

I managed to catch the infamous leaked first episode of the new series, and had reservations about it. Being that it was written by QAF's Russell T Davies it was really very, very gay, gayer than Adric and/or Jon Pertwee's maroon velvet jump suits with white frills. And at one point in this ep, a minor character was attacked by - I shit you not - a vicious council bin. The similarity in storyline to Pertwee's opening story, Spearhead from Space, also had me nervous.

What I did appreciate, however, was the new Doctor and companion. Billie Piper was surprisingly likeable and entertaining as Rose and although their interaction was a little less "companionlike" and more "do me on the TARDIS console as the column rises up and down" for DW purists, the potential was obvious.

Eccleston is whining about "typecasting", apparently forgetting that Patrick Troughton, Peter Davison and even Colin Baker had successful and diverse post-DW careers. If you're a good enough actor, and you don't stay in it longer than say 4 seasons, you'll probably escape the evil Typecasto monster. And Eccleston was by far the hottest Dr Who - there was something about him in his leather jacket that really made me wanna boil cute bunny rabbits alive all over the place.

For DW's already extremely fractured narrative, this only makes things worse. Paul McGann was totally wasted in the appalling one-off US telemovie in 1996. This new series opened with an immediate regeneration into Eccleston, forever denying McGann to portray what would have been a memorable DW, providing the Poms stuck to writing the scripts instead of the Yanks. For nerds like me who have waited 8 years - 15 years, really - for the new DW incarnation, this is only more frustrating and anti-climactic. Grrr.

Death by DoubleSpeak

Arrrrgh!!! Save me, Don Watson! He who wrote "Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language" and in one book encapsulated the futility, frustration and eyelid burning-like pain of corporate "communication" - Don, save me from this:

The purpose of PMAT is to promote accountability, high commitment, and contribution consistent with business goals and objectives. That means creating the conditions in which our staff aspire to high standards, agree to pursue the right priorities and are able to contribute positive results in a dependable and resourceful way. PMAT supports the creation of a dialogue between managers and their direct reports in creating performance expectations and evaluations as outlined in the five steps below.

I was asleep by "accountability". All that's missing is the use of "action" and "sunset" as verbs. I'm quite amazed "dialogue" isn't spelt "dialog".

If only having to understand and take this crap seriously wasn't necessary for yearly pay rises...

Maybe I should try the Bart/Homer approach.

"Hello, Mister...Koss. I bad want more money now, me poor. (Ooh, he job do good!)

So job raise me, please, Mister Boss (It's Koss, stupid! No it isn't! Disregard)."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Waddle Back

And so the penguin slides back from his home iceberg. Interesting trip. The beachside frolics and mandatory drunken/trashy dancin' round the handbag to the Kylie megamix at Mars Bar were particularly funsome.

I feel a sadness about Adelaide. I know at heart it's a wonderful city with fabulous people (I mean after all, I came from there) but there's very definitely a "mature" vibe about it. The kids (ie people under 30) are leaving and the baby-boomers are staying, and soon it will be the retirement capital of Australia. The only city fun park has been demolished and no-one's in a mad rush to provide the kids with new water slides and dodgem cars. There's plenty of great cafes and restaurants but very few genuinely good night clubs. Migrants don't seem keen to go there and unless something - je ne sais quoi - changes drastically the place will go into declining population and truly earn the title of "ghost town" (which it probably already and unfairly has from lots of east coast folk).

I was also sad to read about this cowardly attack on the queer space at Adelaide University. When I was at AU in 1923 (it feels like that sometimes), the Rainbow Room (as it was then known) was my home on campus. By the end of my first week at uni I was staffing the Pride table and forming my uni social network around its membership list. The progression into student politics was therefore not so unexpected, but what made the room so pleasant was that if the gnashing and flesh-eating of student pollies downstairs (or the wanky tutorials on masculinist readings of contemporary Australian film) got too much, I could race upstairs to the RR for a safe haven from study, politics and life in general.

The RR was located above the union cinema, and at one point our weekly meetings coincided with those of the campus' Evangelical Union - baby Pop Stars for Jesus in training - group, who had a disturbingly large number of lost lambs attending to the shepherd for a good flocking, and to praise the Lord and feel his hard, throbbing Love.

Jesus is inside me! JESUS IS INSIDE ME!!!

I remember one year, the EU printing off its T-Shirts with the slogan "I Agree with John", John being the 1IC preacher at the time. I guess John could have been saying anything - stab abortion doctors to death with knitting needles, burn lesbian witches at the stake etc - and he could rest assured he had a legion of agreers on hand desperate to show the world just how much they agreed with him. If nothing else, the T-Shirts were a useful type of branding, of identifying the fundoes amidst the godless heathens (Christian fundamentalists are like serial killers: they look just like everyone else).

What was also disturbing, however, was that in my four years at AU and involvement with Pride, while the numbers for our group's meetings and activities was at best steady, at worst decreasing, more and more bums were parking themselves in the Jesus conformist cinema to hear from John and agree with him. As one army was growing, another was depleted.

And that's why (I'm choosing my words here very carefully to avoid potential defamation proceedings), were there to be speculation that perhaps, possibly, maybe the EU might, even in the wildest of dreams, be responsible for the attack on the queer space, I for one would not be disinclined to believe it.

My trip finished on a low note upon finding out that the HIV of one of my closest friends was dangerously nearer to blowing out into AIDS than was first anticipated (considering he's a guy in his 20s, we assumed we wouldn't have to worry about this for at least another decade). Realising someone I love might be dead in 2 years certainly put my lame "problems" into perspective.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Waddle Waddle

Ciao for now kids, waddling back to my home iceberg in Adelaide for some Easter R&R and maybe some random belly toboganning across white glaciers.

See youse next Wednesday.

US (Selective) Right to Life

I wasn't going to say too much on the tragic case of Terri Schiavo. It struck me as a fairly appalling exploitation of one family's heart-breaking situation for political momentum, and not just necessarily by the pro-life nuts working so hard to keep the brain-dead woman alive.

But when another high school shooting took place in Minnesota, it got me thinking broadly about life, quality of life and death.

Dubya cut short his vacation (he often seems to be doing that, doesn't he? Perhaps he could, say, not go on so many vacations?) to come back and sign the relevant papers that would prevent Terri Schiavo's feeding tube - and therefore her life line - to be removed. Yet this is the same man who's primarily responsible for the deaths of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi men, women and children. He's the same man who, as Governor of Texas, executed 152 people, even mocking one of those unfortunate people's final pleas for life.

The high school shooting will no doubt bring out the pro and anti- gun lobbyists for a renewed showdown. But if Dubya actually believes the US should have a "presumption in favour of life", shouldn't he be immediately legislating to make all but impossible access to the weapons that end more lives in a single massacre than any other weapon can? Columbine and Red Lake High School - not to mention Pearl High and Jonesboro - had students taking out other students and teachers with guns, not knives, baseball bats or heavy text books.

Something tells me, however, that Dubya will continue to resist gun law reform and keep appeasing the NRA. Maybe he might think differently if some freak goes into a nightclub and takes out Jenna and Barbara while they're ralphing in a toilet somewhere. And maybe if it were Laura Snr in Terri Schiavo's situation, he might not be so sanctimonious about the "presumption in favour of life".

Because this appears to be the only way to educate Rancid Religious Right types about the danger of their hypocritical "pro-life" values: something has to hit home. Nancy Reagan only ended her silence on stem cell research and pleaded for the Bush administration to change its position on this when Ronnie was so far gone with Alzheimer's she could barely communicate with him anymore - even though Ronnie himself supposedly "would never have approved of using the preborn to save the life of another—even if it meant a cure for his own disease". Dick Chaney doesn't immediately echo the homophobic sentiments of John Ashcroft and most other Republicans because his own daughter's a dyke. Is the the only way these people ever understand how dangerous and offensive their self-righteous dogma can be?

If so, I wouldn't wish for Laura Bush to be left permanently brain-dead by a stray bullet from an 8-year-old playing with his daddy's gun, but for the greater good...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Flatmate Hunting

Due to various developments I will be looking for a flatmate to move in end of next week (extremely short notice I know). Won't go into major details here other than to say it's a nice queen-size bedroom with built-in wardrobe in Woollahra, close to everything (Queen St, Oxford St, Edgecliff shops/train station, Bondi Junction etc), good secure building and not unreasonable rent. Plus you get to live with me which is a thrill ride in itself!

If anybody might know of someone needing to re-locate, please email me (queerpenguin at hotmail.com) so we can chat further. Cheers.

Ahh Dilbert


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Eases the pain.

Desperate Liberals

(Thanks for humouring me everybody, shitty Monday and my shitty mood seem to have passed and QP is bouncing back.)

What a soap opera! You couldn't write this shit. In fact there's a thought: New character for Neighbours, a sanctimonious senator who moves into Ramsay Street and is shocked to discover crusading hippie and occasional dyke Sky Mangel is in fact his daughter. Or is she?

I'm talking of course about the revelation that Daniel O'Connor is not in fact Tony Abbott's son.

I'm so, so close to feeling sorry for Abbott. There's two ways to approach this: Go with the standard left conspiracy theory that Abbott orchestrated this "rediscovery" all along as part of his anti-abortion crusade, and you have an evil scheme blowing up in the man's face, leaving poor Daniel the real victim in all of this. This, however, is a very, very cynical take on it (not that I'd put it past Abbott's capabilities).

The other way is to take this revelation at face value, and Abbott is left robbed of a biological child after 27 years, and that's something I'd wish on very few people, even a devious anti-choice, anti-queer politician. Daniel will perhaps feel quite relieved the mean-spirited bastard isn't his old man, but there might just have been an opportunity here for these two men to learn and grow from one another, by which I mean for Tony to learn how not to be such a holier-than-thou arsehole.

Of course, this also throws into disarray the pro-life argument that fed on the original revelation. Arguably, if Kathy Donnelly had had an abortion 27 years ago, the current predicaments of 4 people - herself, Abbott, O'Connor and O'Connor's real father - would not be so chaotic and tumultuous. Abbott would not feel numb, Daniel would never have become an political football and a 27-year lie would never have existed. These are the sort of realities pro-lifers need to face instead of gazing through their rose-coloured specs at a shiny world of glades and bunny rabbits where all unwanted children are adopted into happy, uncomplicated families who'll never lie to them.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Precious Penguin

OK, feeling a little sad, holding up a sad face like so:




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I'm feeling a bit precious and small and vulnerable, like a penguin in the Sahara, mainly because like this woman I'm telling stories but am not entirely sure if many people are actually listening and/or affected by them. Sometimes I pour out my guts on QueerPenguin for only a few or often no comments at a time so I wonder if it's worth continuing.

Seriously, for those few of you who might find this site even slightly interesting, please don't be afraid to leave lines to that effect. You don't even have to agree with me - I like people to challenge what I'm saying when they can argue their point well. If a man is the sum total of his memories, is a blogger the sum total of his posts? If so, please help make me become fat and bloated.

Also a bit down due to relentlessly short supply of coins, smelly, unmedicated men who scream FUCK!!!!! at me really loudly at Town Hall station and the price tag on a Dolce and Gabbana top on King St that I really *really* like. And the malevolent figure that smirked at me from my bathroom scales this morning.

I know. I should get some real problems.

Werri What-the? #3

(If you're interested, here's previous postings on this subject.)

Bugger it, I thought I'd get in before all the RWDBs do to point out the bleeding obvious reason for Labor's victory in the Werriwa byelection. The Herald reckons the McMansion voters "have given Labor more ammunition to attack the Federal Government over interest rates" and that, because "Mr Hayes won 55.53 per cent of the primary vote, 2.89 per cent more than Mr Latham's vote in October", the "ALP (is) taking heart from the McMansion votes".

Umm....Psst...Here's one out of the bag: The Libs didn't run a freaking candidate!! Who did we expect McMansion voters to vote for - Greens*?! Of course the Labor vote is going to be up when their only serious competition (in Werriwa anyway) doesn't bother running.

Laurie Oaks in The Bulletin argued that the Libs didn't bother because voters were generally sympathetic to Latham's ill-health and retirement and therefore not so likely to punish Labor in a byelection the way they did in Cunningham. Still, I'm fairly sure that if a genuine Lib candidate had run, things would not have been so rosy here for the ALP.

What I find more newsworthy - not to mention concerning - is the 10% informal vote that actually finished second in this byelection. I get that byelections are a pain in the arse and a lot of people in Werriwa didn't actually realise one was coming up, but 10%? That's 9000 people who honestly wouldn't have given a shit if they were now represented by Australians Against Further Immigration, Fred Nile's mob, One Nation, Family First or any other extreme-right party that ran in this election.

Scary.

* - Not Green bashing - I'm heartened by the fact that they managed to beat all the aforementioned hate groups to come in a fairly respectable 4th position out of 17 starters.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Yawn


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I think that someone might just be me...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Guns, Nuns and VSU

THE GOOD: In SA, the Catholic and Presbyterian churches have (sort of) backed equal rights for same-sex couples by (sort of) supporting the Labor government's Bill to equalise same-sex couple relationship laws. I say sort of because there's still the usual cry of "save marriage! Don't touch the precious marriage!" - despite the fact that marriage falls under federal and not state jurisdiction - but credit to Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson for saying (very progressive for a Catholic figure head): "We recognise the fact that there are people in society who live in other kinds of relationships...It seems to me that it's possible to (give same-sex couples equal rights) by defining the terms clearly and making sure . . . we don't use ambiguous terms in the legislation..."

This Bill has had enough difficulty with SA Labor's own anti-gay Attorney-General personally trying to delay and bring it down from the inside, so a statement like this can only help its cause. And I'm sure you wouldn't hear these sorts of words out of the mouths of Cardinal Pell or Archbishop Jensen.

Not surprisingly, Pop Stars for Jesus - aka Assemblies of God - won't have a bar of it, and unfortunately we can't ignore the singing GBs here because one of them is an MLC in SA. Still, it looks likely now that SA will finally catch up with the rest of Australia.


THE BAD: The Libs nine-year wet dream of voluntary student unionism at universities is now to become reality. In my student pollie days I went along to the various protests and marches against VSU but my heart was never really in them - not because I support VSU but because I knew that so long as Labor, Greens and Democrats controlled the Senate it would never happen, just as I knew late last year that VSU would now become a certainty when the Lib-controlled Senate emerged.

I had an interesting dinner last night with a couple of my chardy friends, and was surprised to hear even them say that a flat compulsory fee was unfair, particularly for part-timers (like them) who no longer used the union-funded services as regularly as they did in their undergrad days. When I used the analogy of compulsory council fees - we pay them, we don't really seem to get much out of them and we wouldn't pay them if they were voluntary, but it's good to know it's there anyway and it's not just about our own benefit - said friends put forward the sliding scale argument, saying that a compulsory fee should exist but be charged relative to how much of the services a member is actually using. I took the point, but I'm not sure how something like this could be monitored, and I believe any reduction of revenue will still adversely affect union services and punish the 1st and 2nd-year kids who basically live in uni union halls, pubs and club rooms.

I know personally I would have struggled at uni were it not for the queer support group on campus and the student political body, both of which existed solely because of compulsory student union fees and will now probably cease to function for future queer students. The solution for me seemed simple then and still seems simple now: call it something else. Don't call it a union fee, because then the Right whinges about "right to freedom of association" and it's easy for them to argue against it and confuse this sort of unionism with the big evil boogieman, trade unionism. "Services fee"? "Sports and Clubs Association Fee"? "The Liberal Club on Campus Might Not Exist Without This Fee so Pay Up, Princess" fee? Let's be creative - we're at a tertiary institution, after all...


THE I HOPE YOU CRASH AND BURN YOU RIGHT-WING BOOFHEAD: Yet another Liberal Party scandal, this time Sen Ross Lightfoot - whose name sounds too damn similar to a toy action hero figure, Buzz Lightyear - admits to smuggling funds into Iraq while on a taxpayer-funded "study tour". The case is already weird: he's claiming he said no such thing (which, if this story were broken by a Fairfax paper, I might possibly accept, but as it was The Oz and it's not the usual Murdoch Lib arse-licking propaganda, I've gotta believe he did), Woodside Patroleum is claiming they authorised the donation but have no relationship with Lightfoot, and let's not forget the general dodginess of an Australian politician to be in possession of an AK-47 in another country.



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Just out for a little poof-huntin', ma.

Lightfoot earns the title of "boofhead" for, amongst other great calls, the challenging and thought-provoking dilemma he posed last year during the gay marriage debate: "If we allow this, what's to stop a bloke from marrying his E-Type Jaguar"? Hmmm. It's funny and it makes you think, donut.

Freak.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Adventures of Justice Kirby

Could it be? I'm agreeing - or, at least, not vehemently disagreeing - with Tell Us About It Janet? Her argument - that removing the immunity for barristers against liability for occupational negligence should be done by the legislature rather than judiciary - would appear to have merit. I know, I can't believe it either.

Of course, she can't resist the urge to stick it to that pesky pinko commo Michael Kirby - the High Court's "resident legal artist" - but if what she's saying is true, that his dissenting ruling goes in the face of much "undisputed common law", then maybe it is best to leave it to the MPs to get the ball rolling on this one. And as we know from the Marriage Amendment Act 2004, this government is not shy of nipping those wicked judicial activists in the bud.

Kirby is naturally an inspirational figure for me as both a gay man and a guy with more than a passing interest in the law. He (Kirby, not me) oozes class and dignity and I despair for the High Court when the old boy finally call it quits on the bench and decides to end his upbill battle as the HC's resident dissenter. If you see where he has dissented, you realise how Australia is worse off for having his minority opinion dismissed rather than enforced. Dissents have been over:

· The power to hold indefinitely in detention a stateless person who could not be deported to his own country.
· The power of state parliaments to superimpose indefinite detention of prisoners who had completed serving their prison sentence.
· The expansion of the powers of military tribunals in civilian matters.

(You can probably guess the positions he's taken in each of these.)

Then there was the appalling case of R v Green back in 1997, where he (along with one other judge whose name I forget for the moment) was in the minority in his ruling that one man touching another man gently on the knee should not constitute enough provocation so as to reduce the charge (and therefore sentence) from murder to manslaughter for the man who reacted to this gentle touch by bashing the other guy to death - the infamous "homosexual advance defence".

As Kirby says in his defence: "In these and other decisions, important values and notions of our constitution and Australian society were at stake."

Amen, sir.

Tubbs Have Nightmare - About New Road!

Oh yeah, just what Sydney needs, another friggin big-arse road, no doubt one we'll have the pleasure of paying 3 bucks for everytime we take our Toranas onto it. Besides, are people really in such a mad rush to go to Sutherland - or, as it's non by non-Sutherlandeans, "The Shoyer"?

Carr, NSW ALP, the Libs, councils, pretty much everybody shouts down Sydney's Lord Mayor (and everyone's favourite fag-hag) Clover Moore when she even hints about alternative transport options other than cars, deriding her as some hippie or lefty green nut. But jeez, as someone who both drives and regularly uses public transport in this city, I know which one I would like to see improved.

The trains currently suck here, that's a given. But think about it: Sydney now has an extensive rail network (in which they're investing $1bn to improve), buses everywhere, ferries, jet cats, light rail AND a monorail. Is it really such a terrifying commo concept to want to expand on what we have in public transport, thereby minimising further atmospheric carbon monoxide poisoning, not to mention Sydney's murderous road rage which is only getting worse? Is it such a crash-hot idea to demolish 200 homes and a golf course for yet another slab of concrete? Town planners can think outside the square - the proposed Parramatta-to-Sydney-in-11-minutes train tunnel is a fine example. It may sound too incredible to ever come true but then I imagine folks thought the same thing about the Monorail.

Costa overturning Scully's original ban on the road exemplifies the difference between short and long-term vision, not to mention Costa's supreme arrogance, bull-headishness and adeptness at saying "hey, fuck you everybody!" when things aren't going his way. The trains became so much worse under his reign as Transport Minister, so now we can look forward to an increase in all the above-mentioned scenarios now he's Road Minister. Yippee ki fucking yay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Killing Friends

I've just come across this eye-opening admission of guilt from National Party MP Adrian Piccoli regarding the death of a gay friend, which though devastating in tone is also quite inspirational.

Piccoli has previously been in opposition to queer rights, voting against the 2003 NSW bill to equalise age of consent and also opposing gay marriage. On paper he's not the sort of politician from whom you would typically expect to read these heartfelt statements:

I have killed a man. In fact, I have killed men, not through what I have done, but through my own pathetic and stupid prejudice...

At the cemetery, I saw two of his friends, both male, holding hands as they lowered the casket, bawling their eyes out at the loss of their beloved friend. Through their tears my eyes were finally opened. Their love and respect was what mattered. Who cares what people do as long as they love each other?

I felt like a complete moron. In all these years of thinking that being gay was odd or unusual, in actual fact I was perpetuating prejudice that was killing young men - and which still kills young men...

I killed my friend through my failure to accept difference, and through the lack of understanding from other country blokes, just like me, who made him hate being gay. It is not overt prejudice or open vilification. It's the more dangerous, subtle, constant things we do that must have gnawed away at his soul...

Thomas, if you can hear me, forgive me for now I understand...

What can I say: Call me a sap but I've come close to tears reading this. How crushing is it that a man only comes to appreciate the true damage his fear and bigotry can cause while standing over his mate's casket? Knowing he had all those years while Thomas was alive to treat him with love and respect and accept who he really was, but instead he wasted the time they had together slowly "gnawing away at his soul"?

Can people only ever be truly educated, have their eyes opened to reality of queer people only when someone close to them "dies of a broken heart?"

I wouldn't begin to understand what it's like for gay men growing up in rural Australia (no jokes about Adelaide, please). There are only so many different horror stories you can hear or read about before you come to the conclusion that the problem is unresolvable and that the only solution is to get the hell away from there and come to Sydney or Melbourne - or leave Australia all together, even - where you'll be truly "accepted" and everything will be peaches.

But of course this is not the solution, because - gasp - there are actually gay men who embrace country life, who yearn for an existence beyond drag queens, pills, daylight dance parties and Darlinghurst cafes. They should not be made to feel unwelcome or even threatened in their own home.

The solution as I see it is for a man like Piccoli, who unfortunately has been educated in the worst way possible, to honour the memory of his friend and use his position of influence and power in rural NSW to spread the word of his experience and wisdom after the event.

The National Party as an organisation is one of the greatest enemies of queer sexuality, but that is not to say that all its members are too. As well as Piccoli there is Russell Turner, the sole National Party MP who surprised us all by supporting the equalised age of consent Bill, speaking proudly of his own gay son and imploring "society to work through the issue of homosexuality and treat homosexuals as normal human beings." It doesn't always have to reach the point of seeing a mate die from rejection before people can realise the error of their ways.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Be Like Unto the Penguin


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I particularly like the handbag carrier in the background.

So Jackie O. Or Jeanette H.

Friday, March 11, 2005

QP Challenge

OK, as I probably won't be contributing to QP over the weekend, I'm going all interactive on your arses and getting YOU to do the work.

Was thinking today about conservative gay men. They trouble me. I'll always respect the smart ones (and as I've mentioned earlier, some of my best friends are...) but I know no matter how much I try to reconcile being gay with also being right-wing, sexist, pro-life, anti-dyke (in the case of many gay boys), Howard-voting etc I'll just always end up with a spinning head.

You know how there's that term - it's a bit racist but bear with me - "Oreo", black on the outside, white on the inside? I'm wondering if there can be a conservative/gay equivalent term, gay on the outside, straight on the inside. "Pearsey" and "Flinty" - named after Chris Pearson and Prof David Flint - spring to mind, but this is at 4:38 on a Friday afternoon when I'm not exactly ejaculating with creativity.

Any ideas?

Have a fab weekend everyone.

Adelaide: City of Conspiracy Theories #2

Wellity wellity wellity. I never thought I'd see the day when there was commonality between a QueerPenguin posting and an Australian editorial, but here we are.

Peter Lewis is a joke and a disgrace: tick.

Lewis is bringing down SA politics and should resign before he does any further damage: tick.

The allegations are baseless: tick.

Similarities to Heffernan/Kirby '02: tick tick.

If only The Australian could remember, however, that it was the one which gave credibility to this fruitcake with its sensationalist beat-up reporting last week...Short-term memory problems. Oz must be an ecky freak.

Wentwerff

...Is my federal electorate, the very effluent inner east bit of Sydney that stretches from Darling Point to Bondi. There was talk at the last election of ALP winning the seat from the Libs for the first time ever due to the then-Independent (read: shafted ex-Lib) sitting member splitting the conservative vote, not to mention those pesky doctors' wives. Didn't happen, instead we got Mr Lucy Turnbull.

Here's some random corro I've had with MT, which to me shows he's not so much resistant to same-sex couple rights, just ignorant of the issues. I hope I've educated him just a little and that he might even join the ranks of those apparently restless moderate Libs agitating for positive social reform. We can but dream...

Summary: Malcolm sends QP his Wentworth newsletter electronically.

QP's reply: Mr Turnbull,

Thank you for sending me your monthly newsletter.

Is it still your position to support your government's continued denial of same-sex couples in long-term relationships and refusal to offer any kind of positive reforms and/or formal legal recognition of those relationships (eg civil unions)?

If so, I would appreciate if you removed my name from your mailing list, as I will have little interest in voting for you, let alone reading your newsletter.

Thanks,

Sam



MT: Dear Sam,

I have no object to legal recognition of same-sex relationships. I don't support amending the Commonwealth Constitution to redefine matrimony as including same sex relationships. Such an amendment would be crushingly defeated in any event. My own view is that those supporting a fairer deal for gays would be better advised to forget about "marriage" and concentrate on ensuring that same sex unions have the same entitlements in other areas (health, super etc) as married couples do. The Federal Government has made a number of changes to super to address this issue already, but if you can identify other areas of apparent discrimination please let me know. The Commonwealth Parliament does not have the power to legislate for same sex unions, but the States certainly do and you should lobby them.

all the best

Malcolm



QP: Malcolm,

In reply to your request of identifying where same-sex couples are still discriminated against federally, I draw your attention to this posting on Rodney Croome's website -
http://www.rodneycroome.id.au/comments?id=1557_0_1_0_C - showing how your government is already reneging on its own promise to extend superannuation rights for same-sex couples.

Other federal areas of "apparent" discrimination that immediately come to mind include:

- Centrelink - same-sex couples are denied for the purposes of receiving various student/welfare payments (which, granted, can be beneficial as two people in this relationship can claim independently, but I'm sure we'd give up this "bonus" were the government to take our relationships seriously);

- Taxation - same sex partners cannot be claimed as dependents for taxation purposes. Nor can our partner’s income be counted in the few areas where household rather than individual income is counted – for example for purposes such as the Medicare levy and medical expense rebates.

- Defence forces - I'm sure you're aware of the case of the man who was denied a pension after his
partner of 37 years who served in the armed forces died (and yes, I realise that was because strictly speaking he wasn't a "widow", but I'm sure your government could think outside the square here);

- Anti-discrimination legislation - does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexuality;

- Also Immigration, Health, Federal worker's compensation and parenting/family law. For more on these I draw your attention to the NSW GLRL fact sheet at
http://www.glrl.org.au/publications/fact_sheets/Federal_discrimination.html

At no point in my original email did I mention gay marriage, so you don't need to worry about "amending the Commonwealth Constitution to redefine matrimony as including same sex relationships" as it's very clear that gay marriages will not be happening in Australia for a very long time to come (even though Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, parts of the US, Spain and South Africa do not find this concept so terrifying).

What I would like to see is a similar form of civil unions as introduced in the UK or France. I'm quite sure such a union could be introduced without having to re-define the Constitution.

I thank you for taking the time to reply in person to my email. You have shown a lot more goodwill than many of your colleagues.

Cheers,

Sam



MT: Thanks Sam, I will follow up all of these points. On the gay marriage point, it is just not a battle that is worth fighting. The referendum results in the States that put the question on the ballot in the US last November were very telling. I think you agree; better to concentrate on substantive equity not semantics.

all the best

malcolm

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Devine Miss M strikes again

Miranda, Miranda, when are we going to leave this Hanging Rock and go home? Miranda? MIRANDA!!!

Sometimes I just wanna scream "MIRANDA!!" too, and sometimes I wish she'd take a one-way picnic to HR. Today's effort from Frank Devine Jnr about Mary, Queen of Iceland, however, isn't making me screaming. It just demonstrates that such cynical, conservative journalist can also be so incredibly naive.

For some cynics, mainly men, Mary's crowd appeal is a mystery. To them, she's just a pretty Tassie chick who struck it lucky in the pub.

Heheh. Proudly cynical as charged.

(Fairy tales) are women's tales, yet feminists from Simone de Beauvoir to Andrea Dworkin have railed against what they see as the passive heroines of fairytales, the sleeping Snow White waiting for her prince, the Rapunzel stuck in her tower. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm perpetuate the patriarchy, goes the line. It is an evil plot to brainwash little girls into believing life will only be complete when their prince arrives to subjugate them.

But fairytales are our oral history and, despite attempts to sanitise and subvert them, the reason they have endured through generations has to be that they resonate with children.

Exactly. CHILDREN. NOT full-grown women. Therefore:

Mary's story perhaps will give licence to more young women to re-assess their priorities and admit the horrible, shameful truth: that nothing is more important than meeting their personal prince, for their future children and generations ahead.

is more likely true for, say, 3-year-olds who've just learned how to poop on the grown-ups toilet.

Mary dropped kilograms and went to deportment school after meeting Fred. She moved to Paris, learnt Danish and transformed her posture and image before he proposed. She has relinquished her Australian citizenship, converted to the Lutheran faith and given up her rights to any children in the event of a divorce. She has worked as hard on cultivating the relationship as she ever did on her career or university degree.

Unlike many of her diffident peers, she put herself on the line for love. To her, becoming a wife was a serious ambition.

Ohhh right, she did all this for love. Not for the millions of dollars, unlimited travel and clothes, the opportunity to never have to seriously work again or the small European country. Love. Rigggght.

Thanks 'Randa.

Arse-licker

The spirit of Mark Latham lives on...


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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Eric sez: Screw You, Hippie!

But wait: It's not Eric Cartman; rather, lunar-Right Tassie senator Eric Abetz going after Bob Brown. His ravings must be put under the microscope, however.

In the upper house election in Western Australia, the Greens vote went backwards from 8 per cent in the 2001 state election to 7.44 per cent on February 26. In the lower house, the Greens only marginally increased their vote from 7.27 per cent in 2001 to 7.38 per cent in 2005.

Well OK - but One Nation went down by 8% since the last WA election, and the Coalition were only up 4.5%. ALP were up 5.2%. So really, I think that's the pot calling the kettle fat re: bad election results (particularly when you're getting all huffy about the Democrats vote being up for grabs in the '04 federal election).

By keeping quiet, it seems Brown has learned from the farcical situation on October 9 when he jubilantly introduced "senator-elect" Christine Milne to the media – despite the fact that Milne had less than 0.9 of a quota on primary votes at the time and was ultimately the final senator elected for Tasmania.

Yes, but dear, she IS a senator now. Deal with it.

Remember when before the federal election Brown famously claimed the Greens would poll 1 million votes in the House of Representatives? Well, they ended up with just 841,734, or 7.19 per cent of the vote.

OK, a little bit off, but not heaps. Don't forget, this was in the face of a ruthless Murdoch media machine working in conjunction with the Libs to bring them down with lies, gross exaggerations and hysterical, "The Greenies want to legally roger your babies in their cribs after they've shot 'em up with smack" type of "journalism".

"In Tasmania at the 2004 federal election, the Liberals' sensible and balanced forest policy (pffffwhahahaha) saw a swing to the Liberals in every lower house seat and a massive 7.34 per cent swing in the Senate, while the votes of the Greens, ALP and the Democrats all went backwards."

Did you know? In 2004 THE GREENS PRIMARY VOTE IN EVERY SINGLE FEDERAL ELECTORATE BAR 4 WENT UP. The four in which they went down was only by a margin of less than 1%. In safe Labor seats like Sydney and Grayndler their primary vote was up by 7-8%, while in safe Liberal seats like Berowra and Bradfield it was up by 4.5%, not to mention the 12.5% increase Andrew Wilkie scored for the Green primary vote in Howard's Bennelong seat.

But such increases weren't just in inner Sydney: The Greens had notable improvements in western Sydney, country NSW (including Newcastle and especially Wollongong/south coast), Melbourne, Hobart - so in fact Eric's just plain wrong to claim that the Greens went "backwards" there when in fact they scored a 4% rise in Denison - the Gold Coast, western Brisbane and the ACT.

Bob might have got a bit carried away on the night, but that's not to say the Greens didn't do very well in 2004 - as I'm sure they will in 2007, even when the machine is really trying to mow them down.

Adelaide: City of Conspiracy Theories

The latest gay-related strange goings-on in my former home city already have that unique Adelaide feel of cover-up and underground intrigue. In a nutshell:

Speaker Peter Lewis, ex-Lib turned "Independent", is alleging that a certain current SA MP is known to be a regular visitor to Veale Gardens, Adelaide's biggest beat, and specifically that he engages in regular sexual activities with underage boys there. Lewis claims to have videotape evidence of this, and is also implying that the recent deaths of two gay men - one found bashed in the gardens last year, the other found dead in his home last month in "suspicious circumstances" - are connected as (he claims) both men accused the MP of paedophilia before they were killed, ie the MP has murdered both men to cover his tracks.

Already, cracks are starting to appear in Lewis and his allegations. Police have not been provided with any new evidence that would justify reopening an investigation and Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Madeleine Glynn has said the allegations were fully investigated in 2003 and could not be substantiated. Furthermore, "Wayne", the man who made the original allegations, is now saying, in direct contradiction of Lewis, that his computer hard drive does not in fact contain any of the incriminating pictures.

It's all got that Bill Heffernan/Michael Kirby vibe all over again - wild unsubstantiated allegations from a rabid homophobe, backed up with flimsy or non-existent evidence. Not surprisingly, the media are sensationalising the issue, with The Oz being particularly stereotypical and offensive in its automatic linking of homophobia to paedophilia. To quote Rodney Croome:

Its headline, "The gay scene's 'dark underside'" is straight out of the 50s (or is that the 80s in Britain?), and is followed by a salacious, mish-mash of beat sex, drugs, child abuse, betrayal and murder this is about maligning gay men and nothing more.

There is no doubt Adelaide has a bad reputation for bizarre murders - from The Family to Snowtown. There's also no doubt that cover-ups happen. People seem to be under the false impression, however, that the cover-ups protect only high-profile gays and/or paedophiles. The murder of Dr George Duncan, for instance, which was the catalyst for SA's pioneering gay law reform in the 70s, was in fact covered up to protect the two members of the police vice squad who were most likely responsible for the murder.

Lewis himself also needs to be put into perspective. He's a freak. A self-serving, self-aggrandising (even for a politician!) freak who only got the position of Speaker by selling out his politics long enough for the ALP to give him the role in exchange for his casting vote in a virtually dead-even parliament, thereby giving them power. SA will be a much better place after the next election when Labor likely wins government with a majority, making him totally redundant and useless, so that he can stop damaging the position of Speaker and SA politics in general.

I do think that here, however, he is only 1/3 full of shit. That is:
a/ the MP visiting Veale - probably true;
b/ the MP having sex with underage boys - probably true;
c/ the MP killing two people to cover his tracks - far-fetched and unlikely.

I say this because I know (of) the MP in question and I'm pretty sure that, for his obvious faults, he doesn't have people killed. But maybe I'm naive - I guess the leap from fucking 10 year olds to killing people who know about it is not so big, even in Adelaide.

I just take the police labelling the second death as "suspicious" with a big grain of salt, and without that or the other evidence, we are left with what I believe is the more likely scenario that the first gay guy was bashed to death because this is (unfortunately) what goes on at Veale, the second guy's death is unrelated, and Lewis, knowing or convinced that a/ and b/ are true, is using the media to confuse one appalling act with something even worse for the sake of sensationalism that sells newspapers. I'm not saying this should be forgotten or not investigated further, I'm just saying that given how similar this case is to Kirby/Heffernan, as well as the sort of person Lewis is, we shouldn't get too hysterical with the pitch forks and nooses just yet.

Martha Martha Martha! Got Lemons?

Heheheheh. For all the smutty, latent Are You Being Served? fans in all of us, this quote of the week from ex-con Martha Stewart, fresh out of Alderson federal prison:

What did Martha miss?

"Lemons," Stewart said, holding a couple. "There are no lemons at Alderson."


There are, however, a few at Wentworth Detention Centre:



Bea and Chrissie gently try to acclimatise Margo to the joys of Joan Ferguson's baton...



Martha sure knows how to finger lemons...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Random eye candy



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Test to see if I've figured out this PhotoBucket caper yet.

FYI he's Anthony Koutoufides, the Greek dish who plays

for Carlton FC. Breakast in bed.

The Huns are Coming

(NB - Hun = abbreviation of the Herald Sun, Melbourne's equivalent of the Daily Terrorgraph, but - somehow - worse).

In light of my previous posts about media Lib bias and crap journalism - aka the Murdoch empire - here's some good and bad news from Alan Ramsey about the Hun's shameful attempts to pass off pro-Lib, anti-Green political propaganda as news reporting.

The good: Three months ago, on November 22, the Greens leader, Bob Brown, sent a detailed complaint to the Australian Press Council, the industry's self-regulatory body. Brown wrote, in part: "A number of claims in Mr [Gerard] McManus's article were entirely wrong. Some appeared to be sourced from a paper prepared by the Victorian division of the Liberal Party ... I raised my concerns directly with Mr McManus. No correction, written or otherwise, was forthcoming ... Mr McManus did not check any of his claims with me before publication. He did ask the virulently anti-Greens Institute of Public Affairs [in Melbourne] for comment ... "

A week ago, on February 25, the Press Council upheld Brown's complaint. In a statement released yesterday, it said, in part: "The council views this article as irresponsible journalism. A number of false claims were made about Greens Party policies. The article was accompanied by a graphic entitled 'What they stand for'. It listed 20 broad proposals claimed to be advocated by the Greens. Senator Brown said a number of the claims were wrong, including ... suggestions people would be forced to ride bicycles more often, eat less meat, keep out business immigrants, introduce taxes on family homes, drive farmers from their land, reduce infrastructure ... and cut population by 2 million.

"Senator Brown says no such policies exist. Additionally, [he] says the headline was 'manifestly wrong'...
"Given the sweeping and unqualified nature of the claims, the newspaper ought to have checked [their] veracity and currency. There is evidence that, as well as any use made of the Greens' website, the reporter preferred other statements, some erroneous and hostile ... In the context of an approaching election, the potential damage was considerable ... Readers were seriously misled. The claims were seriously inaccurate and breached the council's guiding principles of checking accuracy, taking prompt measures to counter harmfully inaccurate reporting, ensuring facts are not distorted, and being fair and balanced ..."


The bad: "Yesterday Bob Brown called a Canberra press conference (on these findings)...There are more than 150 reporters in the federal press gallery. Four went to Bob Brown's press conference yesterday. So did three TV camera crews. So did someone from Rehame, the organisation contracted - at public expense - to "assess party share of voice" in the ABC's coverage of last year's federal election."

No wonder Alan's always so grumpy. You can hardly blame him.

It's Whose ABC?

It didn't take very long for "Tell Us About It Janet" 's rightie mates to come to her defence re her appointment to the ABC board (since, officially, she is now unable to defend herself in her Oz column). PS - Don't ya love how she's proud of the fact that she's "roundly disliked by the human rights industry"? Take that statement and you can run with it all the way to the "Janet Albrechtsen doesn't like human beings to have rights" finish line.

Anyway anyway anyway, Gerard is first cab off the rank. I often feel conflicted about Gerard. Sometimes I think he's the Right commentator with something resembling both a heart and a brain; other times I reckon he's just better at toning down his Orwellian 1984 "Hate! Hate! Hate!" chanting sessions behind carefully-chosen and constructed million dollar words and sentences. I do believe, however, that Bolty, the Devine Miss M, Piers, TUAI Janet etc would never in a million years admit that "Liz Jackson is a fine journalist and a first-class presenter". He could of course be being horribly condescending here, but I choose to believe for the sake of argument that he's being sincere. He even goes on to say that TUAI Janet's grandstanding about "looking at problems of bias and how facts are presented" is in fact a "complicated issue...and there is no precedent...(for this to) be adequately addressed by a non-executive director".

I'm not entirely opposed to having the odd Righter or two or three involved in the ABC administration - public broadcaster, sake of balance, yadda yadda. It does seem strange, however, that said Righters are often the most critical of Aunty, so why would they want to be a part of its management? It's not as though they're rushing to sign up with the Labor Party, Australian (Gay) Marriage Equality, Republican Movement or other groups that trouble them so. Surely, it wouldn't have anything to do with the Liberal party trying to stack Aunty with its Murdoch mouthpiece apologists, suffocating the poor old girl under their combined weight (particularly if Piers belly flops on board)?

Another statement of Gerard's that doesn't sit well:

"(Jackson's) four predecessors have been of liberal (in the North American sense of the term) or leftist persuasion - Stuart Littlemore, Paul Barry, Richard Ackland and David Marr."

Excuse me - Paul Barry, host of 7's defunct Witness programme who falsely smeared John Marsden's name with paedophilia allegations, leftist? Hrm.

Then it's onto David Marr. Marr - along with Rodney Croome, the thinking queer man's mature-aged bit of crumpet - says quite rightly that "the natural culture of journalism is kind of vaguely soft left" and sceptical of authority...If journalists don't come out of that world they should find another job". Gerard would appear to have a problem with this. I don't. Think about it: The Washington Post was the newspaper that uncovered arguably the most significant Western political scandal of the 20th century, Watergate. Whether or not they had an agenda all along to bring down Nixon I don't know, but I do know they adhered to Marr's test of being "sceptical of authority" and not automatically accepting without question - and writing up so favourably - the various directives, agendas and initiatives of the government in power the way all Murdoch newspaper editorials and most of his columnists do.

Do you really see Akerman winning a Pulitzer for outstanding investigative journalism? Mingy Devine? Bolty? Do you reckon the Hun will go down in history as the newspaper that exposed John Anderson's bribery, Tony Abbott's deception about "discovering" his abandoned son? The Terrorgraph as the paper that proved beyond doubt John Howard sent our country to war knowingly based on lies, forcing him to resign his Prime Ministership? Nah, me neither.

The Right rushes so quickly to bash Aunty for being a lefty hotbed, but the reality is that all it's doing is adhering to the usual journalistic principles of questioning and examining the government of the day. It's not as though Keating was their number one fan, as I'm sure Latham wasn't and Beazley wouldn't be were he PM.

Leave the old girl alone.

Dyke-hunting in the Schoolyard #2

Crumbs, this is eye-opening. Online survey from The Age:

Lesbian teachers : Would you have a problem with an openly gay teacher educating a child in grade five or six?
Yes - 43%
No - 57%
Total Votes: 1645 Poll date: 07/03/05
Related: Lesbian student teacher axed

I realise it's a small sample, but it's worrying because The Age - and I assume its readership - is the most progressive, or the least right-wing, at it were, mainstream newspaper in Australia. If nearly half of its readers still have a problem with gays teaching their kids, imagine how John Hun and Jane Terrorgraph reader feel?

Still, the single letter they have (so far) published on this issue is a little more encouraging:

Gays are part of the community
What a strange world we live in. Children in primary school can read and hear all about the heterosexual and relationship travails of those sold to them as role models - Britney Spears, Delta Goodrem, Paris Hilton, sporting stars - but they cannot ask a teacher questions about her loving relationship with a woman without a furore breaking out (The Age, 7/3). This is the result of the climate of fear that a very small number of people have managed to foist on the wider community.
Whether the religious right likes it or not, whether this Federal Government likes it or not, gay people are part of our community. They work, pay taxes, buy property, raise children and have loving, monogamous relationships. They are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and friends.
Our public schools are not doing their job if they do not acknowledge the role that gay people play in the everyday life of the community. Being afraid of a gay teacher in a school is as stupid as not letting pregnant women teach on the basis that children might guess they have had sex.

Vanda Hamilton, East Melbourne

Monday, March 07, 2005

Dyke-hunting in the Schoolyard

I don't know why these stories about discrimination against homosexuals in the education system should bother me anymore - it's so common after all, especially in private schools - but they do. It's yet another re-inforcement of the "gays are ok, just keep them the hell away from our kids" mentality that fuelled the Play School mums debate last year. And for all the posturing of the Victorian Education minister about how "deeply troubled" she is by this incident, that doesn't really do anything to resolve the underlying problem.

It's another example of the new counter-political correctness: the Right (and not just the rancid religious), which for years has whinged about not being able to express racist, sexist or homophobic views without being "punished", has successfully promoted the false impression that homosexuality should be kept within the exclusive domain of parents to teach their children (if they so choose), rather than introducing them during their formative years (when they're arguably at their most open-minded) to sexual diversity and minority sexualities as part of a regulated, official public education syllabus.

Obviously in too many schools, homosexuality is still an educational taboo, one of the few left, and will only become more off-limits if private schools continue to remain exempt from anti-discrimination laws and the government does little more than slap its public educators on the wrist (the offending principal was forced to write an apology to the teacher when it was brought to his attention he may have been in breach of Victoria's equal opportunity laws - oooh, big scary) when they are so explicitly homophobic. Like the different approaches to safe sex teaching in the US and Australia - the totally unrealistic drum-beating of abstinence versus rational, practical discussion on and demonstrations of condom use, contraception, safe sex methods etc - it's all about taking emotion and dogma out of the equation long enough to accept that, yes, teenagers will have sex with each other, and yes, some will have sex with partners of the same gender.

That's not necessarily to say I believe 9 and 10 year olds should be well-versed in anal sex and dental dams; I just think it's a circular, self-fulfilling argument that homosexuality is viewed as a threat because it isn't taught to young people at schools, and homosexuality isn't taught to young people at schools because it's viewed as a threat. Education is, as is often the case, the best way to neutralise any perceived threat. But how are kids expected to respect and tolerate homos and dykes when the teachers themselves cannot be respectful or tolerant?

Crash and Burn

According to Clive Hamilton, this is what's happening to those poor unfortunate millionaires who are enduring the pain and indignity of having the interest bills going up on their 3 properties - or on the 600k they have borrowed to live in Rose Bay and are now forced to shop in, horror of horrors, Maroubra - pursuant to the 0.25% rise in interest rates. Like Hamilton, my heart bleeds for them.

These are probably quite extreme examples, however, and should be taken in context with how the rising interest rates will also slug single as well as multi-property owners.

But: For all the people who voted Liberal solely on the fallacy that interest rates would not rise under a Liberal government - ie you swallowed Howard and Costello's bullshit - I say suck eggs. You're getting exactly what you deserve - a fresh hit of reality that your beloved El Primo Ministe can't in fact control the weather or interest rates, any more than Kim Beazley, Bob Brown or Bert Newton. And as I'm sure the only way the Libs can lose the election is for their lies about economic management superiority to be exposed, I say onwards and upwards interest rates.

New Agatha

Aunty - well Aunty's aunty, the Beeb - has come through with a new spin on Miss Marple. I guess I'm a bit of a MM TV production purist - for me, Joan Hickson in the long British telemovies from 15 years ago is the definitive Miss Marple, reigning over Margaret Rutherford and Angela Lansbury from the movie versions - but Geraldine McEwan offers an interesting spin on MM, fleshing out the old spinster's wicked sense of humour that was hinted at by Christie in the original stories (who apparently based the character on her own grandmother).

These productions also offer new twists not originally written by Christie. Last night's "The Body in the Library" revealed two lesbian murderers who sure weren't "that way" in the book. Apparently, these twists have been included to provide additional surprises for old Christie hacks like myself who smugly assume they know everything that's coming. Last night's new twist worked, hopefully future ones will too.

It's a wet-dream cast of British A1 character actors - Simon Callow, Joanna Lumley, James Fox, Jack Davenport and Ian Richardson, with Derek Jacobi, Janet McTeer and Jane Asher to come - as well as amusing appearances by Little Britain's David Williams and The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss (not to mention Aussie hotty Adam Garcia).

If Margaret and David deigned to review TV movies, it's the sort of production Mags would give 4 stars to while David might only give 3. I'll split the difference and say 3.5. Entertaining but diluted Christie. And about friggin time there's finally something to watch now on Sunday nights!

Oh G.O.D - Gay OverDose

The gayest weekend of my life is over, at least for another year. A few reflections:

March, vantage point and Fox Studios party all good. The march in particular was refreshingly and unashamedly political, with Howard's head on a giant snake my most memorable float (although when I was explaining how evil Howard is to a spunky young Brazilian whom I was sort of chaperoning that evening, I got daggers from a co-spectator who informed me that she proudly voted Liberal and that apparently he "can't please everybody". Frankly, I don't think he needs to aim so high; I'd just like to see him please *anybody* other than mortgaged Jesus folk in the western suburbs and ex-One Nation voters in Cairns. Is that so much to ask?) As the rain began to fall Saturday afternoon when I was frantically mincing up and down King Street trying to find some shiny new shoes to go with my outfit, I feared Fred's prayers were going to be answered two years running, but there was not a drop to drink when the parade itself started.

I now look foward to the conspiracy theories from the usual suspects about how the figure of 450,000-500,000 attendees is a fallacy - that such a number is physically impossible to fit into Liverpool, Oxford and Flinders streets - but the reality is that this is a Mardi Gras renaissance. The parade will probably never be as big as it was in its early 90s halcyon years, but people didn't take it for granted this year and we were reminded that we can still stage a kick-arse parade when we put our minds to it.

The parade party was undeniably a success, sold out to the tune of 19,000. It didn't start brilliantly for me - lots of people, lots of standing around trying to get people together to go somewhere, unable to find a base camp that played music we were looking for, yadda yadda - but eventually as the dust settled the night evolved into a fine morning. I was particularly chuffed to learn that one of the single most beautiful young men I have ever come across in my relatively short time in Sydney also thought I was not completely unfortunate-looking, but the party being the way it is we lost each other somewhere. If anybody comes across an angel with a shaved head called Luke - who was an official with the march - could they please return him to me ASAP? Generous reward offered.

Running into unexpected old friends visiting from Adelaide also made the night that little bit more special. Why is it that at MG parties when you're looking for one specific person, you run into or find instead every single other person you've ever met in your life? And how the hell did people co-ordinate in the days before mobile phone texting too?

I didn't make it to Toybox at Luna Park, which was a pity as you could not have asked for better Sunday weather. 2006 for sure.

I think I'll reserve next weekend for pizza (compensation for my week of no-dinners-pre-MG diet) and Ingmar Bergman/Francois Truffaut movies. My body is crying out for some injection of high-browedness after this weekend's saturation of pop culture. And pepperoni.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Well Duh

Is anybody really surprised Anna Nicole flashed her norks? The girl has absolutely no talent, brains, self-respect or credibility. But she's gotta pay the bills somehow, and when J Howard Marshall's billions are eventually all squandered on coke and elephant tranquiliser, she'll have to find a new source of income. And when you get paid $100k a pop for each appearance, with an expectation that your "two lovely daughters" will also wave hello, is being a travelling circus freak show really such a bad career path?

D.O.D

I'm alerting everybody to a new and potentially life/savings account-threatening disease that could spread like wildfire through the gay male population if not properly checked: It's called Diva OverDose (or D.O.D).

The conspiracy theorist in me believes having Cher, Kylie, Destiny's Child AND Bette Midler all touring in Australia in 2005 is part of a broader plot by the RRR to bankrupt queer men, who, blaming said divas for plummeting deep into the red to fork up the $495 for Cher, $140 for Kylie, $130 for DC and $315 for Bette (top prices listed here of course - a true homo can never be seen in B-Reserve) will then flock to Hillsong to get their homosexualism bashed - erm, sorry - sung out of them so that they can afford such luxuries as food and water again.

Symptoms of D.O.D include refusing to leave one's phone while ringing 2-Day FM or Nova 3 times every 8 seconds to see if one has won tickets to Kylie; calmly and efficiently forking out nearly an entire week's average salary to see an (allegedly) 58 year-old woman in fish nets and a leather jacket, or statements like: "I'm just taking my mum along 'coz she wants to see her" - even though you yourself are allegedly a heterosexual male.

I myself am already feeling a little flushed with fever, having seen the Chermeister last night and getting set to see Kyles on the same day as my birthday (it's written in the stars, we're meant to be together that day, baby). It's very contagious.

She of the Plastic is still pretty phenomenal. Quotes like "I am fabulous!" were countered with "This is the gayest concert ever!" and "If I did another concert, I would have to come out in a motorised wheelchair and my boobs would be hanging down by my ankles". My friend and I played a fun game of "Spot the straight bloke" in the crowds. We came up with about 4. The Village People were just the coconut icing on a fluffy pink blancmange.

I think by the time this weekend's over I'm gonna be totally out-gayed, Gay OverDosed (or - heheheh - G.O.D). Maybe then I can take up restoring Yamaha 660 CCs or something.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Gayee McGay

I'm going to Cher tonight. Yay. I didn't know I was going until 2 days ago (thanks Roozi, you're a doll). Cher is apparently going to be warmed-up by the Village People. Then it's Mardi Gras weekend. Any gayer and I'd be Elton John's black mambo.

And while we're on gays in the Village - or more accurately guys with pitchforks and flaming planks of wood in the village - check out fabulous Fred's latest adventures.

Divine intervention

When Channel Ten axed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy they blamed poor ratings. But the leader of the Christian Democrats, the Reverend Fred Nile, knows the real reason. "It's a reflection of the will of God," he told Spike yesterday. Wonder why He put it on in the first place? Or if He can bring back the West Wing? Spike asked the NSW MP what he thought was wrong with the show.

Nile: There's a backlash against this over-emphasis on the homosexual lifestyle. The show sets out to make the heterosexual male look stupid.

Spike: Which they're not, right?

Nile: I don't need any homosexuals telling me the way to dress or do my hair. I take pride in my turnout.

Spike: Maybe you should do a show, like Fred's Eye for the Atheist Guy or Jesus's Eye for the Heathen Guy?

Nile: I'd have to think about it.

Reverend Nile went on to say that he was sick of seeing homosexuals on "almost every television show" and that we should learn from the US's mistakes. "The homosexual lobby is so powerful in America now, they now have the same influence as the Negroes," he said.

Wow. Almost every television show eh? Here's some rough stats for ya Fred:

There's approximately 210 shows shown across the 5 free-to-air channels in one 24-hour day, so let's say 1470 per week;

Shows currently being shown that have (officially) regular gay characters are:

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (let's assume the US version will step into the Aussie's place) 1 ep pw
The Simpsons (and Patti hasn't come out here yet) 12pw
Will and Grace 1pw
The Secret Life of Us (about to finish up) 1pw
Dancing with the Stars 1pw
Little Britain 1pw
Law and Order (although you don't find out Serena is a dyke until her final line in her final ep) 1pw
All Saints (but the dyke is preggers from shagging her ex bf so again, it's tricky) 1pw
Queer as Folk 1pw

If I've missed any - let's be generous, give a margin of error of say 5, my total of gays on TV shows comes to 25pw. Out of 1470pw.

That's 1.7% - ok, ok 2% - of all TV shows having gay characters.

Go Fred, go. And don't forget to sort out those pesky negroes too!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Informal, not Indifferent

It didn't take very long after the 2004 election distaster for the Senate's equivalent of Tony Abbott, hard-rightie Nick Minchin, to roll with the "high informal vote therefore people don't really give a shit about voting therefore why make it compulsory?" wagon.

What crap.

Unfortunately the figure of 5.2% informal votes - 638,851 out of nearly 12 million voters - does not distinguish between which votes were accidentally informal, ie voters wanted to cast a proper vote but did not understand how to do so correctly on the ballot paper - and which were deliberately informal (eg writing "piss off" on the paper). My guess, however, is that this would be a fairly even mix, ie the figure would be closer to 2-3% of all voters who really don't give a shit.

The seat of Greenway, for example, in western Sydney and won by the Libs from Labor, had the highest informal vote of all electorates with nearly 12%, but as has been pointed out, this would have a lot to due with the high immigrant population there and consequent language and communication problems about voting, particularly as NSW has optional preferential voting whereas the Commonwealth has compulsory preferential.

2-3% of people pissing on their democratic right and obligation - a right that millions of people in so many countries are continually denied and one that people fight for and die to achieve - is hardly a compelling argument to change the system. What this is really about is a conservative governmment wishing to wipe out of contention disillusioned voters in less-advantaged areas who may not vote if they didn't have to, but as it's compulsory they go in and are more likely to decide Labor is the slightly lesser of the two evils and throw them a vote. It's also about giving people who vote incorrectly a chance not to vote at all, rather than educating them how to vote correctly so that it is not completely wasted. Greenway may well have stayed with Labor if those 12% of informal votes had been filled out properly.

Either way, compulsory voting should stay. It takes the average Australian voter a sum total of 20 minutes to get off their arse on a Saturday afternoon, go down to their local church, get their name crossed off the roll and then do whatever the hell they want with their ballot paper. We shouldn't once again be trying to copy the US and become so frivolous about what can be the most important piece of political activism we undertake in our lives. But then again, with our current government being little more than a subsidiary of Bush Republicanism Inc, it's no big surprise that one of its employees would push for this flawed US initiative anyway.

Prince Tampon and Princess Hobart

I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I think Mary Donaldson is plain. I don't think she's particularly attractive, elegant or interesting. I imagine she's just some chick who got really drunk at a King St Wharf bar one night, got chatting to and then started slobbering over some bloke she met, then when a mate of hers leaned over and said "Oi, Mazza! That's the Prince of Denmark!" there was the simultaneuous sounds of Mary slurring "Furck me!" and a far-off cash register going "ching! ching!" The single luckiest nightclub pash in Australian history.

I also think her husband is tubby and I don't give a fuck that they're here.

But: her visit to Australia co-inciding with Prince Chucky's is a good chance for us to compare the two monarchies and ask: which is the more redundant and irrelevant? Shadow AG Nicola Roxon asks this question, and even though we haven't forgotten how much Nicola sucks, she's hit the nail on the head here. Strange how 1999 - when the majority of Australians made clear we no longer wanted to be tied to a bunch of socially inept inbreds, but too many of us were misled to believe an appointed rather than directly-voted head of state wasn't the way to go - seems so far away now. I say this because we're not the US and we don't directly elect every single executive, legislative and judicial position. Our High Court judges are appointed and nobody cries "undemocratic!", and while I get that our President is a symbolically more important position for us everyday folk than High Court judge, I believe that a directly-voted model will only encourage the wealthiest people who can afford the broadest marketing campaigns to get up and win the race. President Eddie McGuire is a terrifying concept.

Anyway, the reality is that we'll only become a republic a/ by some kind of direct voting model and b/when Labor gets into power. And even though I'm doubtful about b/ happening before 2010, kudos to Labor for being pro-active in trying to re-ignite the debate.

I only wish the fate of such debates were not so predictable: Howard will quash moderate or other Libs (eg former Australian Republican Movement head and now member for my electorate, Malcolm Turnbull) from speaking out in support of a republic, he'll go onto Jonesy and Lawsy to assure us that this, unlike abortion, isn't a debate that needs to be had, he'll be backed up by Piers, Janet, Bolty, Miranda, Gerard etc. and Labor, Democrats and the Greens will be powerless to do anything. And we'll remain a colony for another decade (which I'm sure all the true illegal immigrants - British backpackers in Bondi Beach who've out-stayed their visas - will be creaming their jeans about). Hip hop hoo fucking ray.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

And I thought all paedophiles were meant to be gay...

My mistake.

All grown up

Nikki Webster. Semi-nude. Does that sound wrong? Men's mag FHM doesn't think so, having commissioned a series of racy pics of the young entertainer for an upcoming issue. An FHM spokeswoman refused to reveal what Ms Webster was doing or wearing in the shoot, but admitted it was "quite controversial". While most of us remember Webster as the young slip of a thing who sang at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics, she is now trying to project a more grown-up image. "Nikki is moving away from being a child," says her manager, Jason Williamson. "It's a great shoot, it shows her as an 18-year-old." Which, strictly speaking, she's not - Webster is two months shy of her 18th birthday. That, apparently, makes her the perfect age for an FHM debut. "We prefer girls at 18 but the cut-off is 16," said a spokeswoman for the titillating rag. "We did shoot Holly Valance when she was 16."

Universal?

Check out this article on the growing divide in the Anglican church over homosexuality.

Encouraging, but I think very optimistic. McGillion rightly points out that by fully including homosexuals in the life of their churches, Anglicans in North America are responding to the generally greater acceptance of homosexual practices in their cultures. Likewise, African and Asian Anglicans are leading the attack on liberal views of homosexuality due in large part to the abhorrence with which it is regarded in their countries.

But if certain forms of gay relationships are still being resisted and banned in the US, where there's supposedly "greater acceptance", what chance is there for Anglicans in Africa and Asia? Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams can only do so much on his own, after all. The Anglican and Catholic churches always resist moving with the times, and they still have plenty of ammunition with which to continue their battle against progress. There's still a very long way to go.

And perhaps McGillion's argument that a church that insists its universality is expressed by all its members following the same rules in the same way may simply invite its own fragmentation; one that allows variation in the way its moral principles are interpreted in particular contexts may ensure its sustainability, though it sounds great, is just not right. After all, in Australia more and more people are flocking to the evangelical, singing-for-Jesus churches, and I don't think they're big on moral diversity and broad interpretation of the scriptures.

Times like this I'm glad I'm a godless heathen with a seat reserved in Hell, sandwiched between Janis Joplin and Tennessee Williams. Makes life so much less complicated.

Oscariffic

Yes, I love Cate. I can't help falling in love with Cate. She is the only living actress worthy of portraying a goddess like Katharine Hepburn and she's been suitably rewarded.

This year I didn't watch the ceremony as scrupulously as I have in previous - after all, it didn't have Desperate Housewives to contend with until now - but there were a few memorable moments worth noting. Lifetime achievement award winner Sidney Lumet thanking "the movies" in his speech might sound cornball but but was actually simple and inspiring; Jamie Foxx's heart-felt thanks to his dead grandmother was touching instead of scary like past Oscar winners' (Gwyneth Paltrow) thanking of dead people; and Morgan Freeman oozed his usual class giving what might possibly have been the shortest acceptance speech I've ever seen an actor deliver at the Oscars.

Cate of course looked stunning, as did Halle Berry, Kate Winslet and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Less stunning and more scary were Gwyneth and Renee Zellwegger. Johnny Depp looked a little too much like Willy Wonka for my liking. And Sean Penn is cool, but Christ, get over it Miss Serious Sally!

Sounds like the awards being given in the audience and nominees on stage thing won't be happening again. Shame, I quite liked the interactive theme. Perhaps presenters could present awards while trapeezing?

Finally, Hilary Swank's life is great. From trailer trash, to Valley Girl in Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and 90210, to double Oscar winner. She really out-did Charlize Theron (whose mum murdered her dad in self-defence) for an inspiring back story! Truly, the stuff of a Hallmark telemovie of the week, perhaps starring Tori Spelling. Or Justine Bateman.

Hanson Inc

Would you buy a house from this woman?

What an industry is Hanson Inc. Fish cake wench, Asian repellent, hot shoe shuffler and now real estate agent. And as she points out, "I've been pretty much a salesperson all my life," so the skills she's learnt explaining the features and benefits of a battered sav, calamari rings and 5 bucks' worth of chips to a young family with a mortgage will carry over nicely.

Apparently Paul's already got offers to sell RE here in Sydney. Perhaps this particular North Ryde residence could be her first?