Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Dying to be famous

In a previous post, I stated that reality television is one of the best things to happen to society. While I still stand by this statement in the fact that reality tv holds up a mirror to the behaviours of the current population, I must concede that what we are shown is manipulated by a production team who call all the shots. Big Brother Australia is around 6 weeks into this year's series, and once again the producers are pushing the moral boundaries.

Last year, it was the turkey slap incident. This year, the production team behind BB has decided to withhold the fact that one of the housemate's fathers has died.... yes, died. Rather than pass this rather crucial piece of information onto housemate Emma, BB is keeping her in the dark. Strangely enough, the family of Emma has come forward to announce that one of the deceased's last wishes was that Emma not be informed of his death until she leaves the Big Brother house. But for fuck's sake, it's not like Emma's goldfish has died - it's her dad. No doubt in my mind she is going to freak out in a massive way once she is eventually informed.

It's with no surprise that I read today that the parent production company of BB Australia, Endemol, is planning of producing a new reality show where a terminally ill patient selects a recipient for her kidney. I wonder if Endemol's reported growth rate for Q1 is in line with the global mortality rate? No mention of the decrease in their morality reported....

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Fatman" The Shamen
"Deliverance" K90
"Speak To Me" Regis
"A Day Without Me" U2
"Givin The Dog A Bone" AC/DC
"Coded Language" DJ Krust feat Saul Williams

Sunday, 27 May 2007

How Aussie Are Ya?

Colin over at Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe posted a questionnaire which it is proposed new Australians (read: immigrants) will need to complete before gaining citizenship. Being a true-blue, dinky-di Aussie born and bred, I thought I'd give it a burl:

1. Which colours are represented on the Australian flag?
A: Green and Gold, or black, yellow and red

2. Indigenous people have lived in Australia for how many years?
A: A hell of a lot more than Europeans

3. What is Australia's national flower
A: Jennifer Hawkins

4. Australia's political system is called a...
A: Joke

5. What is the capital of Australia
A: The local pub

6. Which animals are on the Australian Coat of Arms?
A: Kangaroo and Emu, best served with chips, plum sauce and a beer

7. Where did the first European settlers to Australia come from?
A: The British penal system

8. Who is Australia's head of state?
A: The old biddy

9. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?
A: Some dead pom

10. What song is Australia's national anthem?
A: "More beer, more beer, more beer more beer"
A: "You're going home in the back of a divvy van"
A: "We're happy little Vegemites"
A: "Khe Sahn"

11. What do you call the elected head of a state government?
A: A wanka

12. Which federal political party or parties are in power?
A: The wrong ones, not that the opposition is any better

13. What does Anzac Day commemorate?
A: War heroes who fought to secure our way of life

14. In what year did the first European settlers arrive?
A: The darkest year in the history of the Aboriginals

15. How many states are there in Australia?
A: 3 - sober, pissed and unconscious

16. What is Australia's biggest river system?
A: On the verge of extinction

PS: if you are applying for citizenship into Australia, the above answers are not what the bureaucrats are looking for....even though they should be....

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Just Another Victim" Helmet & House Of Pain
"Sweetness And Light" Itch-E And Scratch-E
"D-stomp" The Noise of Art
"You Got Nothing I Want" Cold Chisel
"Beef Situation" Manual
"Under The Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Don't Go Now" RatCat
"Epic Future" Alpha Breed

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Shop Till The World Drops

Yesterday I headed over to Chatswood to buy a heater (it's starting to get cold here in Sydney town). Normally I steer well clear of Chatswood and head to my local stores instead as I prefer the community feel over the mass-market Westfield mega-malls. Unfortunately there's a lack of electronics stores at my community shops so I had no choice but to venture into the world of mass-consumerism.

The first thing to strike me as I drove into Chatswood (which is also the name of the surrounding suburb) was the sheer amount of traffic flowing in and out of the car-parks. Now, I can't rant too much on this as I myself was guilty of driving solo, but in my defence, Chatswood was my starting destination on an afternoon out. It occurred to me that a mega-corporation such as Westfield contributes indirectly to global warming in encouraging its target market to drive cars by providing huge amounts of car-parking at its centres. The Westfield carpark at Chatswood is a 5 storey monster spanning 2 city blocks, and then there's additional roof-top and basement parking in the centre itself. In a time when we are all being encouraged to re-think our energy consuming behaviours, it would be nice to see Westfield take on some social responsibility and take action to provide alternative transport options to its customers. For example, it would be easy enough for Westfield to provide a rebate to customers who catch public transport to their malls at a set purchase rate (eg, spend $20 or more and have the cost of your bus-ticket reimbursed).

So I ventured in and started looking for a heater. As with every other time I've had the misfortune of going to Chatswood, the place was packed. I go shopping when I need something, not when I've got nothing better to do, so I really don't understand the mindset of people who claim shopping to be a hobby or past-time. Are their lives that empty that the only way they can find pleasure is to spend an afternoon wandering around stores, purchasing crap in hope of finding happiness and fulfilment in materialistic objects? You can spot the hobby-shoppers easily - they are the ones who dawdle along at snail's pace, stopping in the middle of the walkway to peruse the sale racks. Get in, get what you need and get out is my shopping mantra. It is of little wonder that the world has gotten as fucked up as it currently is when people prefer spending their time succumbing to mass-marketing rather than taking an interest in real-life.

Sadly to say, my shopping venture was all in vein as the heater I wanted to purchase was out of stock. I made my way out through the throngs of consumers, drove down 3 levels to exit the car-park, spent 20 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic and finally headed out to a more fulfilling afternoon with friends who weren't trying to sell me anything.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Oblivion" Terrorvision
"Spirit Catcher" The Mod Wheel
"Scorpion" Spira
"THX" Paddee
"Computer Talk" Primordial Soup
"Ball Park" Joey Beltram
"To Be Or Not To Be" Rythim is Rythim
"We're Not Gonna Make It" The Presidents of the United States of America
"You Shook Me All Night Long" AC/DC
"Not For You" Pearl Jam
"Bug Powder Dust" Bomb The Bass

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Blood Lust

Went to see 28 Weeks Later last night - the sequel to 28 Days Later. Fuck!!! What an incredible movie. Yes, I'm a horror/thriller buff and for those that aren't, I suggest you do not watch the clips on this post! If you're a tad confused, let me clarify a common misconception of those who aren't into horrors - 28 Days Later has no inkling of commonality with the Sandra Bullock movie 28 Days. Think happy thoughts and go see what Disney has on offer, this post is not for you. Here's the trailer:

In my humble opinion, the sequel is much better than the original - a rare thing in the horror genre. The trailer does not do this movie justice - it is far more graphic and intense than the trailer lets on. From the get-go, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has you on the edge of your seat, building the tension then scaring you shitless before letting all hell break loose. In between he weaves a fairly average story line with reasonable acting, clever visual effects and enough blood to make the faint-hearted puke. This time the infected seem much faster and way more insane than in the original and they throw up blood by the bucket load. The camera is kept right in the middle of the action, making you feel like you are there as the infected rampage through the deserted streets of London. Here's a small clip of the opening scene:

What sets this movie above a standard horror is the statement it makes on warfare. Many people have the misconception that the infected in 28 Days/Weeks Later are zombies - they are wrong wrong wrong. These movies are an extreme look at chemical warfare, using a virus which turns people into savage animals with an insatiable blood-lust for the non-infected. In 28 Weeks Later, the all mighty, all conquering US Army is deployed to decontaminate London and make it a habitable environment. The parallel to Iraq is striking with comments such as "we are here to look after you" spouting from the soldiers. Being a British film, Tony Blair's announcement to withdraw British troops from Iraq lets the producers of 28 Weeks Later get away with it, but only just. Perhaps they need to film the 3rd installment (yes, it's left open for one) here in Australia to nudge Little Johnny in the right direction.....

Without doubt, one of the best movies I have seen in a long time - 5 buckets of blood out of 5.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Forever Young" Interactive
"Even Flow" Pearl Jam
"Work That Mutha" Steve Pondexter
"Secret Silence" Forth
"Marrakech" Madely
"Black Girls" Violent Femmes
"Garden" Pearl Jam
"Another Body Murdered" Faith No More & Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E
"Sweetness And Light" Itch-E and Scratch-E

Sunday, 13 May 2007


Today is Mother's Day in Australia. I love my mum unashamedly as all my good traits can be attributed to the genes she passed to me and the values she instilled in me from an early age. The following is a list of all the things mum has given me of which I am proud:

  • compassion
  • appreciation of nature
  • the ability to sit silently
  • love of music
  • the desire to find the good in every person
  • an interest in the arts
  • love of good food and the ability to cook it (or at least attempt to!)
  • a sense of humour - be it black, intelligent or goof-ball
  • the joy of reading
  • curiosity and the adventurer spirit to explore
  • dedication and devotion

and last but by no means least

  • the ability to love and forgive unconditionally

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there, and particularly to the best one a fucked-up kid like me could have ever asked for.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Lithium" Nirvana
"Are You There?" Josh Wink
"Tres Chic" Nexus 6
"A2" Andre Michelle
"My Name Is Jonas" Weezer
"Acid Wiss" DJ Skull

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Show Me The Money

Brew up the coffee, put the kids to bed early and dim the lights - tonight is Budget night in Australia. Peter Costello delivered his 12th - yes, 12th - Federal Budget this year and, in an election year, what a nice little offering to the gods of politics he made. Key points from this year's money-fest are:

  • Underlying cash surplus: $10.6 billion
  • GDP growth forecast: 3.75 per cent
  • Tax cuts: $31.5 billion over four years
  • $5b fund for uni capital works, research
  • Childcare benefit up by 10 per cent
  • $22.3b for road and rail infrastructure
  • Solar panel rebate doubled to $8,000
  • Overseas aid: $2.58b of new initiatives
A lot of nice feel-good items to appease the electors no doubt, and it manages to touch on all the major key issues of this year's federal election - convenient huh? I'll admit, I've done fairly well from the Liberal party since they've been in Government (not enough to make me a party member) and their economics have actually been fairly good for our country. WTF?? you say - no rants and raves??? Strangely enough, no.... or perhaps not....

The Federal Budget is one of the rare times where economics meet human need. It is an opportunity for the Government to give back to the nation and its people (although what they promise and what they deliver don't necessary align). In business terms, it is the Government's way of keeping their share-holders happy, and as the shareholders of this great country, we have wide-ranging expectations. Unfortunately, Australian corporations don't seem to equate that their share-holders are also the Government's share-holders and therefore have the same wide-ranging expectations. Somehow the corporations have got the impression that their share-holders are only interested in money.

Money is a strange thing. It is an inanimate object of no real value and yet it has become the cornerstone of society. The only thing that gives money any value is the human definition of its worth, yet ironically, human worth is often determined by money - or the amount thereof. But not all human worth can be determined by money, a concept that big business seems to struggle with. As humans, we crave experience, pleasure, acceptance and satisfaction. Businesses can throw money at us, coercing us to work for them by offering large salaries and incentives however this does not necessarily attend to our cravings. Instead, these are met by actions and attitudes which don't always have a price attached. Sure, you could offer me $200k to work for your business, but if taking up this offer means I'm stuck in dank, dilapidated office surrounded by a bunch of prats demanding my attention 24x7 then you can shove your $200k.

Likewise, as a society, we have expectations that corporations don't seem to grasp without assigning a dollar value to them. We now expect corporations to take action on social and environmental issues and put the money they make off us to work for us as a local, national and global population. There are a few large corporations that are making an effort, no doubt based on the economic value of public image, but the contributions they make are minuscule in comparison to the profits they make.

Really, it's a simple concept to grasp - people are share-holders, ergo share-holders are people. Address the expectations of the people and you address the expectations of your share-holders.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Shine" Collective Soul
"Out Ta Get Me" Guns N Roses
"Choir Girl" Cold Chisel
"The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" Weezer
"Givin The Dog A Bone" AC/DC
"Funky Monks" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Time Out In Toronto" SS
"Tremora Del Terra" Illuminatae
"Pure Flow" Odyssee
"Bitter Sweet Symphony" The Verve
"Freak Momma" Mudhoney & Sir Mix-a-Lot

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