Where else but Queensland…

For anyone who has been watching the Campbell Newman LNP Government’s Shock and Awe Cost Cutting Campaign, (which caused plenty of shock and very little in the awe department) you’ll probably notice how it more closely resembles a three ringed fucking circus or a NASCAR pileup, than a sound economic policy.  Newman could write the book on ‘How to Piss People Off and Disenfranchise the Already Marginalised’.  His steps are pretty easily replicated.  First, put everything from preventative health care programs for rural and indigenous communities, to endowments for arts and music programs all under the axe… leaving people without access to domestic violence abuse counselors, necessary childhood vaccinations, travel assistance for non-ambulatory patients to dialysis treatments, closing down nursing homes, through to ditching funding for long standing school band programs, various arts programs and oh why we’re at it ditch some literary prizes etc,… a thriving, growing society doesn’t need culture (which I’m pretty sure dickwad would spell with a ‘k’). While you’re at it, don’t forget to hack away a tonne of other essential government services in between as well, like closing rural fire stations, cutting funding for volunteer training and cadet programs, a few weeks before the bushfire season!

Next, select a Cabinet of absolutely clueless and completely self serving individuals.  Watch on and defend them as they hire their friends and their family, giving them well paying jobs, with perks, blatantly take what others would call bribes, and have inappropriate meetings with lobbyists who may, or may not, also be family on government’s time!  Stand back and say nothing as self appointed cronies lie through their arse cheeks in parliament, but sack the main dude whose job it is to investigate them.  Send the ones who’ve been caught with their hand in the cookie jar on sick leave so they won’t have to face questions… or better yet, send them off for six months of Gardening Leave on $10,000 per week!   Remain quiet, while another MP is embroiled in a scandal, this time it’s one being accused of sexual harassment of his staff, causing the public to create a petition tipping 20,000 signatures demanding his sacking.  Ignore that entirely… the peasants are just revolting, it’s their job.  Stand around looking stupid as you refuse to acknowledge that all this is nepotism, in fact for extra fun and credit, tell the press that it’s not nepotism, but that hiring friends and family is just how business gets done. This so called cabinet, is as bold as brass and twice as shiny and crooked as a dogs fucking hind leg!  After that stand around with your pants down, looking short and smug and ineloquent… just determinedly ride everything out, with your head in the sand, refusing to answer questions while the rest of your MPs continue to get up to god knows what, with god knows whom, attempting to hide their indiscretions and abuses of power, knowing you have their back – sort of.  By now your constituents should be calling you Herr Newman, or you’re not doing it right.

queensland politics nepotism in newman government

Next, promise that no ‘frontline’ servies will be compromised, and in the same sentence announce that you’re putting foot to arse for thousands of permanent Queensland public servants, with little to no care for actual $$ saved.  Achieve this by letting all temp staff go, simply by not renewing their contracts.  In this phase, it is important not to give a shit what these people do, or how much they get paid and ensure you don’t count these nearly 6,000 odd workers in the official ‘staff cutback’ numbers for the press.  Then cut 14,000 actual permanent public servants with similar disinterest for their functions and the services they provide.  Seriously, go tell your ministers and department heads to ‘reduce your entire staff by 20%’ or ‘you have 500 people, cut it back to 340’… and not one fuck was given for what these people do, the services they provide or how much they are being paid.  Make it all about the head count.  So what do you think happens then?  Many Directors and Executive Officers (for the record, the guys making the decisions on who goes and who stays) are able to do administrative duties on their substantial salaries, but not too many Administrative Officers are able to do the Director’s or Executive Officer’s role – so out the door with an army of important administrative and support staff!  And with them goes a huge knowledge base… thus making the workplace an environment of stagnation, fear and insecurity as no one moves forward on anything because they might lose their jobs in a heartbeat, there’s no money for professional development and there’s another round of sackings coming anyway!  Campbell Newman… making myopia fashionable since 2012!

Just sack ’em all, regardless of what they do.  Newman did it – because he could.  Many people far more politically savvy than myself have observed that the same reduction in staff, and subsequently ongoing savings in payroll, could have been achieved by natural attrition over a period of a mere 12 months – without the need for expensive redundancy packages, workplace uncertainty, and less loss of local knowledge.  Unions, predictably, are up in arms… and mobilised.  They’re so organised they have t-shirts and they’re taking the show on the road!  Fat lot of good it will do them with these thousands of employees already in the job queues… it’s too late to fight the fait accompli.

qld politics newman government nepotism abuse

Oh and while you’re at it, don’t forget to build yourself an enormous erection at #1 Willy Street (seriously, don’t tell me no one noticed!) for fancy new government offices at a cost of over $650 million dollars!  Because leaving the city with a bunch of overpriced, under-utilised, bankrupted tunnels and upgraded horse racing facilities isn’t enough of legacy to leave Your Fair City.  Why no one didn’t tell the little man to just go buy himself a big V8 Holden ute, I don’t know!

I am sick to death of this fuckwit that is running our state.  I have yet to meet one individual who actually admits to voting for the cockhead, and have yet to see one decision he’s made that is in the interests of the people that he is supposed to represent!  If a company acted thus, there’d be criminal charges laid left, right, and centre.  How come we have to sit and take it, and wait for the next election and hope and pray that the wankers who voted for him first time around are actually paying attention?!?

Tickle Me Elmo; Colour Me Happy!

In an attempt to try and reduce the vitriole and angst that regularly spews forth in these pages, I am going to endeavour to dig up!  And by dig up, I mean find some fun and funny memories of some of the good stuff that we sometimes don’t really pay enough attention to… I’m thinking stuff even from ‘way back when’, shouldn’t be forgotten.

So… once upon a time, back in May of 1997, I met a young man at a house warming party in Annerley.  We hit if off straight away (but that’s another story) and met up at an SCA event the following weekend.  One day, shortly after he came to visit me at my work.  Which at the time, was The Disney Store at Garden City.  Yep, I spent a few years when I was at Uni doing my fine arts degree, working part-time as a ‘Cast Member’ for the Disney Store; flogging all things Pooh, trading in Disney trivia, being hammered with cartoon sing-a-long videos and basically drowning in stuffed Mickey Mouses!

Anyway, my gentleman caller joined me on my lunch break one day.  He turned up in a nice new suit and looking very dapper and we made polite ‘getting to know you’ chit chat along with enquiries as to how my day was going.  I vaguely remember telling him that one of our Disney Store ‘guests’ had accidentally left a Tickle Me Elmo in the store and I had been playing with it all morning and I laughingly told him that I hoped they didn’t come back for it because, well, let’s face it… Elmo rocks and I wanted to keep it!  We had a lovely lunch, he told me about a job interview he had coming up shortly, and made plans to see each other the following weekend.

A very distraught little girl turned up just after I returned from lunch and claimed her Tickle Me Elmo and the whole thing was forgotten.  I continued to go to Uni, continued to work at the Disney Store, the handsome young gentleman caller got the job he applied for, and within a few weeks we were inseparable.   A week or so later, he got his first pay check from his new job and called to say we should do dinner!  Sounded like an excellent plan.  What I wasn’t expecting, was the large box he handed me when  I walked in the door.  He gave me three guesses and I flailed around clueless through each one… only to open it up and discover a brand new Tickle Me Elmo of my very own!

tickle me elmo best present ever

I remember feeling extremely touched.  Not just because he bought me a gift.  Not just because he got me the second coolest toy of the season (behind Buzz Lightyear, of course).  Not just because it was an unexpected, non special occasion gift… I mean I was touched about all those things but, mostly, I was touched because he had been obviously been actually listening to me that day at lunch when I was talking about how much fun I was having with the Tickle Me Elmo.  Do you know how rare that is?  Someone who actually listens to the little stuff?  I knew right then he was a keeper.

Thank you Mr K.  I still have Tickle Me Elmo and he still reminds me how wonderful it feels to be really heard and understood by people who are special to us.  🙂

size comparison with a tickle me elmo


The Impossible. Bring tissues.

Oh my God.  Such poignant, gutwrenching drama… the sadness is almost overwhelming.  The sheer grief, the copious sense of loss, the unlauded heroism and the unbelievable humanity I watched last night, has left me feeling like a wrung out dishrag.  Anyone would think I was foolhardy enough to have spent the evening watching a couple of seasons of Grey’s Anatomy back to back again… which for the record, I strongly recommend against doing!  Especially if you happen to be recovering from a recent surgery – been there, done that… not a good plan.  But I haven’t.  This was worse, so much worse, because it was real.

ewan mcgregor naomi watts disaster film

Last night we saw The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. It’s the story of one ordinary family’s horrifying experience of the tsunami that hit Indonesia and Thailand on Boxing Day in 2004 (was it really that long ago?).  It’s one of those movies where you know you’re in for a heartbreaking cinematic experience as soon as you see those seemingly innocuous little words come up on the screen during the introduction… ‘based on a true story’.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the people (locals and tourists alike), who were swept up, and many swept away, by this enormous display of the sheer brutal power of nature.  So many died.  So many families ripped apart, some not reunited for years, and some never to be reunited, with hundreds of thousands missing, presumed dead, especially in Indonesia, families and individuals from every country in the world were effected by this disaster.

naomi watts ewan mcgregor disaster movie tsunami

This movie is most definitely not your typical Hollywood disaster flick.  This is an intense and compelling film about the very real, and emotionally charged, account of one family’s experience living through one of the world’s worst ever recorded natural disasters… and, as you might imagine, it is absolutely harrowing.  The characterisations of the individuals who were in the middle of this tragedy are so convincing, full of complexity and human frailty that you find yourself thinking…  What if that was my family?  My husband? My child? My wife? What would I do if that happened to me, or the people I loved?  And you come away with no answers.  It’s unthinkable.

The family behind this remarkable story are Maria Belon and Quique Alvarez, and their three sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon (if you are planning on seeing this film, I’d click that link later).  I can’t imagine the bonds that hold this family together after everything they went through – but the sheer stubbornness, determination and resilience displayed by all of them in the film, especially the children, no doubt contributed to their survival when faced with the most disastrous and horrifying scenario imaginable.  It is difficult to say you ‘enjoyed’ a film like this due to the horrendous human tragedy it portrays… but I am glad I saw it.  Even though it brought me to tears several times.  It really makes you think about how incredibly strong the human instinct for individual survival is – and that it is prevalent in all of us – regular everyday people.  It also made me think about the invisible but indestructible emotional bonds between spouses, between parents and their children and between siblings, and how formidable those ties can be, even amidst so much confusion, suffering, pain and loss.

On top of that, never have I seen a movie before that made me feel like those of us living in ‘the lucky countries’ have our day to day priorities so screwed up.  Money, houses, cars, material ‘stuff’… ultimately none of is important.  Our families, the people we love – those are the only things that truly matter when the shit hits the fan.  I thought this movie was extremely powerful, hard hitting and emotionally exhausting, but well worth watching.

Medieval Goatse, oh my!

I’m sitting here asking myself – what was going on in those Medieval monasteries? Seriously?  Even though the image seems to err.. complement? the accompanying text (below), how does one reconcile this image with the fact that it was very likely have been produced, and viewed, by persons who had devoted themselves to lives to piety, prayer and scholasticism?  At first glimpse I thought it might have something to do with Absolon who did infamously kist Alisoun’s nether yea in The Miller’s Tale, from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  But not so, it seems this moonish illumination derives from a Medieval romance called The Conversations of Solomon and Marcolf.

The concept of monks writing out racy romances feels more than a little absurd… and totally incongruous with our general perceptions of Medieval monks and their life of studious solitude, self deprivation (not to be confused with depravation!), and celibacy!?  Makes you wonder, what on earth were they thinking?  And also… what really went on, in ye olde monasteries?  O_o

From the dialogue of Solomon and Marcolf:

‘The king Salomon discended from hys hors and began to loke into the oven. Marcolphus laye all crokyd, hys vysage from hymwardes, had put downe hys breche into hys hammes that he myght se hys arshole and alle hys othre fowle gere. As the kyng Salomon, that seyng, demawnded what laye there, Marcolph answeryd: I am here. Salomon: Wherefore lyest thou thus? Marcolf: For ye have commaunded me that ye shulde no more se me betwyxt myn yes. Now and ye woll not se me betwyxt myn yes, ye may se me betwene my buttockys in the myddes of myn arsehole.’

unusal medieval manuscript solomon arsehole

Gorleston Psalter, England 14th century (British Library, Additional 49622, fol. 61r)