Book Review

  
So I’ve started reading the autobiography A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey, and it’s time to give a book report.
I know what you’re thinking, hold your horses there young lady, you have only just started it, wait until you finish it to do a report. Well the thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve read this book.

Bert was born in Maidstone, and when I first picked up this book in my local library that was the thing that caught my eye. Maidstone was a hop and a skip from my home, and if you added in the jump, you’d have gone right though Maidstone. At the age of 11 this book facinated me, simply from the naming of a little known suburb, and I had to read it.
The book follows the life of a simple boy, and then man, who lived through a time of great change in Australia and the world. It reads like a history of the birth of the nation, but though the eyes of a gentleman.

As I read the book for the first time it became apparent to me that the part of Maidstone referred to in the book, I could see from my front yard. Suddenly I realised that there was a bigger world out there, and I could live it through this book.

About every five years I’ve found myself reading this book. Every time I read it, I get something new from it. To say it has been an inspiration to me is to grossly understate it’s quality.

About a year ago I was out touring in regional Western Australia, on my way to see Wave Rock. While I had planned out my route, it turned into more of a “generally head east” kind of ride, which lead me to the town of Wickepin, where I hoped there was petrol. But I found much more than that.

  

I had no idea this homestead still existed. I had no idea it was open to the public. I had no idea just how emotional I got seeing one of my idols in the flesh, so to speak.

Walking through the house, I could picture every word on the page where the house is written about. To know that I was standing in the very same spot where Bert had stood was an amazing experience. I was living part of history.
The book itself is not a hard read in particular. Bert never had a formal education, times were tough. But it is a book that drags you in and has you reading more and more, just like a grandparent telling you a bedtime story. It talks of a time where the values we claim these days to define us as Australians actually happened and were not just an ideology.
It is a book I can not recommend highly enough. These days you can get it in eBook form, or in paperback still. Regardless of the medium you read it in, I suggest you do read it. Then after it has all sunk in, go and read it again, and you’ll be amazed at what you missed the first time, and how much more enjoyable it is reading about this life again. A.B. Facey may have had a fortune life, but thanks to him we can all have a fascinating read.   

Friday Three: Comedy

So I thought about doing a kind of review thing, and late on a Saturday night, as I tried to sleep in way too much heat, I thought of the Friday Three. Basically each Friday (that I remember) I’m going to list three things, on any subject that springs to mind.

Thankfully I had already written this post below, but was unsure of how or when to post it. Thankfully it works in with the theme, so here goes:
I love comedy, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a comedian. I read somewhere once that to do that, you need to have worked for at least a year supporting yourself on comedy alone. I’m certainly far from that ever happening, and it’s not going to happen I can assure you.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate comedy, or write funny stuff, although I’m sure people will question that as a statement. Too bad.

I thought I would share with you some of my comedy influences, and why they have influenced me. This is not a complete list, just some from whom I have learnt a lot about the art form, in some way or another. Everyone will have their own taste when it comes to comedy, but these are just some of the people I’ve found have shaped my appreciation of the art form.

Groucho Marx

 

I love the Marx brothers, each for their own follies, even Zeppo. But Groucho has been the biggest influence. His quick tongue, and perfect use of language is an art form in itself. Understanding the structure of language is important in comedy. Knowing that the punchline has to go at the end of the sentence to get the greatest acknowledgement is understandable. Knowing how to structure the rest of the sentence so that it is precise and makes sense is the art. The rhythm and language used by Groucho is worth studying, for anyone looking to do comedy at any level.

Craig Ferguson

Back in 2010, Craig spoke about Britney Spears. He spoke about the importance of using your power as a comedian to do good things, not just go for the laugh. The link above is to his video on the matter, done as part of a monologue for the Late Late Show, and I learnt a lot from it. It shows how comedy can be used in ways to deliver a message at stressful times, but also how that message should be delivered, so the audience gets the most from it. Simply trying to get people to laugh until they pee themselves at any cost is not worth the cost.

Janelle Koenig

  

Janelle taught me a lot about comedy, and the different components that go into making a performance shine. Many years ago I was learning how to perform Improv, and Janelle was my main teacher.

From her I learnt about stagecraft and it’s importance in comedy. Particularly when working with others on stage, and your relationship to the audience, but also when doing solo work, and how to work the room to make a connection with your audience, with out it feeling forced.
I learnt the importance of story arch and call back, which may seem simple, but when you are doing improv and you’re having to think on your feet about new stuff, while also remember things you and all the other performers have previously done, it becomes a rather difficult task if you’re not prepared.

She taught me the importance of not hanging onto a joke, no matter how funny you think it is. If there isn’t a connection for the audience there, move on and come up with something else, or you’ll die on stage. Once you lose and audience it’s very difficult to get them back.

Most importantly I learnt that the performance of a group takes priority over your own wants. Just because you want to be the star, it doesn’t mean you are the star. Knowing your place on a stage and how you work in with all the other performers, will make for a better performance from everyone, and that makes for a better show for the audience.

One cent stamp please

I got my Post Office Box renewal today, and not surprisingly the price has gone up again.

Now I know it’s crazy that I pay to have my mail not delivered to me, but that’s my kind of crazy and I’m sticking to it.

What I did find amusing is the price rise. Prices do rise from time to time, and with the Post Office it’s kind of understandable. After all, with so many people and businesses going to email for communications, the Post Office has to make money somehow, and raising prices for their products and services is a good way to do that, it makes good business sense.
Which is why I found it amusing that the Post Office included advertising for me to get my 2017 renewal via email. Mind you it makes sense. It saves on having to post out letters, it saves printing on all the paper, it saves having to employ people to deliver the mail. What a brilliant plan to cut the costs of running a business, by using modern day devices. If only other businesses hadn’t done the same thing, the Post Office would be able to function as it always had, before those pesky emails came along and ruined things.

Second Storey Window (Feb)

Looking to do this as an end of the month clear out of little comments that don’t have a place as full blog posts.

  • Business idea: Floating tombstones for at sea burials.
  • People in Butler end every sentence with the word “mate”. 
  • I think the Axis Of Awesome may have got the maths wrong in their Nintendo Wii song, but I can’t be bothered checking.
  • That hurt. That was a bad idea.
  • I put the movies Taken and The Returned in the DVD player at the same time, to see who wins.
  • I got an A on my spelling test. I failed to identify the rest of the letters.

School’s Out For Summer

I found out the other day that my old Primary School turned 100 years old in 2015. Pity I didn’t get an invite to the celebrations, if there was any.
Anyway, it got me thinking of all those memories from primary school, and I thought I would share them with you now.

  • Getting told off for drawing tyres on a car incorrectly, because I had wasted crayon by not drawing them as perfect circles.
  • Walking past the Milk Bar next to the school to see the newspaper masthead “Lennon Dead”.
  • Only ever being picked last, if at all for play time sports.
  • Having to walk on an imaginary tightrope, while only wearing my underwear. Not sure what that one was about.
  • Finding part of a gold sticker box, which had been stolen from some classroom. I reported it and got accused of stealing it in the first place.
  • The multipurpose room, and playing a reindeer in a school play.
  • Christmas beetles.
  • The library being burnt down by someone.

Yeah. Great memories indeed.  

Unsafe Schools

The government inquiry into the Safe Schools programme has really got my goat up. As much as I try to remain calm in all walks of life these days, I seething at this and the attempts to shit the programme down by hook or by crook.
Now it may seem strange, given I finished my formal education nearly 25 years ago, that I would be so cut up about this. But it’s not just about the school years, it’s about the ongoing affect of not having something like a Safe Schools programme.
Before I started school I knew who I was. I knew who I identified as. I also knew that it was wrong, that I was sick, that I could never say anything to anyone, and that if anyone ever found out, then any harm that came my way, was entirely my own fault. I hadn’t even started school and I already knew that I shouldn’t exist.

All through my schooling I had this burden hanging over my head. When I got called phobic things, my head went into overdrive wondering if they actually knew, or if they had somehow found out. What was it I was doing wrong? Did I pick up my pencil the wrong way. Did I answer a question in a way that was unacceptable? Did they notice how I was ashamed of my body when getting changed for gym class, and how I dare not look at others, in case that awkward split second where I accidentally made eye contact with someone else was read as me trying to pick them up. Every single moment I spent at school was filled with worry and doubt, and the fear of when the next bashing would take place simply because I was “odd”. All these things made me hate being at school. All these things made me despise education, the learning process, the interaction with my peers, and it certainly showed in my grades, which lead to even more issues on the home front. My childhood was not filled with opportunities to soak up information and explore the world around me and become a better person. No, I was living day by day in absolute fear, having to sweat out the small things, having to make sure that closet was firmly shot, the doors bolted, and nothing could get through, because if it did, it would be a fate worse than death.

Safe Schools is not about teaching how to pick up people of the same sex. It is not about showing kids 17 different ways to bump and grind. It is not about converting kids to same sex attraction, or to question their gender. It is about one thing, and one thing alone, education.

Education that being different from others is ok. Education that others being different to you is ok. Education that words and actions can have an affect on people not just at the time they are spoken, but for the rest of their life. People may say that it’s just kids being kids, and it will all wash off like water from a duck. Yet here I am all these years later and I am still fearful of people I went to school with, despite not having seen them for 30 years. Oh how I wish people had been educated in my day, so they wouldn’t have done and said those harmful things. Oh how I wish I had learnt to be able to accept myself, so that I could have gotten on with the stuff that mattered in school.

Reading today about some of the achievements of Safe Schools has been heartening. A school which I know has had LGBTI phobic staff in the past, is now lauding it’s students for telling off another school’s students that homophobic remarks are not welcome on the footy field. Of schools where a primary student will now be attending as the boy they are, and all the students celebrating with a cake, before getting on with learning and no big deal about any of it, just pure acceptance. Where students now feel as though they are welcome at school, and are now shining at learning. Where young people are no longer suicidal simply because they know they have somewhere in their life that is safe.

I have to say, regarding that last point, that is one thing that has really annoyed me with all of this. Reading the articles about the Safe Schools programme, and seeing at the bottom of the page the links to LifeLine, Kids Helpline, and Headspace. It has to be there because these kids are under attack simply because they exist, and it is making them suicidal. People against programmes that aid LGBTI kids often blurt out the old classic “Think of the children”. Well why on Earth don’t you do the same thing and stop putting your own prejudices ahead of these children, and their human right to exist. Seriously people! Do you really think that some kid being LGBTI and feeling safe is less important than your worry that people like this exist, and because of your worry that they exist means they should think being dead is the better option?

You know, if your little Johnny gets told by little Timmy that Timmy finds him attractive, surely little Johnny should be comfortable enough to say that while he is thankful for the compliment, he doesn’t have the same feelings for little Tommy, but that’s ok, they can still be friends. You know when your little Johnny grows up and is out partying with his drunken mates, he isn’t going to go bash someone because they look Gay, because they have known all through their schooling that Gay people are no threat at all to him. You know, little Johnny may end up successful, and may end up running his own business, employing a lot of people. At some point in that business, when one of the employees makes an absolute arse of themselves by being LGBTI phobic, little Johnny will know that’s bad for his business and will have the knowledge, the education, and the experience he needs to deal with it appropriately. In other words, your kid will grow up to be a far better person that you will ever be. Or is that really offensive to you, and how you think the world should be, simply because you lack the knowledge, the education, the experience to not be an arsehole?

Safe Schools is not about harming kids. It is not about making kids think they are Gay. It is not about breaking down the very fabric of society as we know it. The programme is simply a way to let every kid know they are valued, regardless of if they are LGBTI or not. It is about making society a better place at a grass roots level, not just for the school years, but for lives. The same way we have educated ourselves about so many issues over the years, this is just another example of that happening, so why would we want to stop it? Gee I really wish this had existed when I was at school. I know it would have made a huge difference to my life, and to how I am today as a person.

Housekeeping!

maid

Digging up this blog again was not without issues. Many of the links are broken. Many of the back room elements no longer work. But the biggest problem of course is the MOEs, or Massive Operator Errors that are being caused by myself.

One thing that I know may be annoying some people is having to log in to make a comment. There is a very good reason for that. In the past I have been trolled in online terms, and publicly attacked in real life terms. So despite any protests, the log in requirement will stay, as will the moderation of all comments before they are posted. This isn’t to censor anyone, and let’s face it, if people want to write or say nasty things, I can’t stop that from happening. What I can do though is stop it from happening on my blog, and that’s something that will stay.

I’m still working on getting posts to happen regularly, and with some certainty. I’m learning all of this blog stuff again, and I also have decided on a day that posts will happen regularly. What I’d like to do is have it that posts go up on a set date (easy to do), but also have it that a link is generated to the facebook group for this blog, and my twitter feed. Give me time, and I’ll get there.

I use to have a little chat box off to the side, but that got filled up with spam, so not sure if that will return. I’m not sure if there is a point to it these days either.

Content is the big thing of course regarding this blog. I’m still sorting that one out. Most of what I write has a link to something that has been happening in recent times, but I’m undecided if I should make these links public. It’s a double edged sword, because sometimes it helps people to make sense of what I’m writing about. But on the other hand, by not posting the links, minds run and people make up their own mind (often wrong) as to what I’m referring to.

The other thing is the title of posts. In the past I’ve used some random comment from the post, or a song lyric I think has some kind of link to the subject matter (often cryptic) or just filled in the blank space with nonsense. Not sure if I should keep doing this, or come up with something more random.

While some of you are accessing this blog through a Facebook link, you may also find that I will put up posts that aren’t linked, like the post that’s before this one. That post was a ramble during a moment. Good luck working it out. These kind of “unlisted” posts will happen from time to time, and I may also do a secret section, if I can work out how to do it.

So that’s housekeeping for now. Don’t expect big changes around here any time soon, I’ll just make the changes slowly, if at all. It’s a bit difficult when your computer is on it’s last legs, but that’s for another blog post.

Enter title here

Get down, put down, negative narrative.
Self worth is no worth when acceptance of yourself leads to rejection.
Rejection by those with the power to reject and harm, who glorify themselves in the pain of others.
They say it is love, to be tough is to grow and nurture.
But how can a tree grow to be itself when it is constantly pruned?
When it is denied soil in which to stand. When it is denied water on which to nourish?
How can that tree grow up to be all that it can, when it much conform to another’s view?
Looking into the eyes of a new born you may see blankness and lack of understanding.
But they see and accept everything simply because it exists before them.
They do not deny out of fear and hate.
They do not seek to denigrate.
They do not remonstrate against that that is.
Hate is learned.
Hate is welcomed.
Hate is preferred by those who wish not to be part of this world, but want to destroy it for their own desires.
How you dress, how you react, how you accept your body.
How dare you go against the narrative, how dare you be positive.
You can not challenge what has been decided for you, not by who you are, but what others decided in a split second.
If you don’t tow the line, the line will be used to break you.
And when you snap it is all your fault, never the fault those with the power to break you.
So you must be punished.
You must return to what others desire.
They ignore the cracks, the rift, the shattered pieces, that they created.
It is all your fault for not being able to conform.
It is all your fault that the broken branch bares no fruit.
The were just trying to help.
It’s all your fault their desires don’t work for you.
It’s all your fault the world is not exactly how they desire.
Regather the line, more breaking is needed, repeat the cycle, increase the hate.
The more the hate grows, the more the desires will be realised.
Gather up the line again, more breaking until conformity.
And even when there is nothing left to break, continue to break.
Break in your mind, in your memories, in your words.
Make sure the hate is known, the hate is right, keep telling yourself.
Keep the negative narrative alive, denying true is worth it, that’s what you remind yourself.
Putting up that will is better than accepting the truth.
Justify yourself through the small pieces of the broken mirror, from the reflection you destroyed.

Let’s try a Vlog

I’m hoping the link below works. As part of the relaunch of this blog I’m trying out a few things. I thought this subject matter deserved a video instead of typing.

Video link to YouTube here, click on the text, any of the text, even this bit.

Fees and Charges Apply for reading this title.

So a bit of a dig at the AFL and in particular Ticketmaster here.

I’m a member of the Richmond Football Club, have been for years. But what I have to say applies to all teams really, so that point doesn’t matter. As a Richmond member, I get access to the Pre-season games, any games in my state (I’m an interstate member) and up to five Melbourne games as well. As luck would have it, Richmond are playing in my local town as part of the pre-season fluff, so it’s an excellent chance to see my team more than once this season. Now because of limited capacity at the ground, I have to get a ticket for entry. This is where I get angry at the AFL and Ticketmaster.

In order to get my free ticket, I need to purchase a $5 ticket. Because I have to purchase the $5 ticket, I have to be charged an administration fee. In order to pay for the ticket I have to use a credit card, no other options. Because I’m using a credit card, I have to pay a credit card fee. All up the free ticket has cost me $8.

I’m sure at this point you can all see where my anger is directed.

Now I’m happy to support my club. In all honesty the membership is really not worth it for what I get out of it, in terms of games I get to go see. Sure I could attend more Melbourne games to get more value for money, but that would require at least $500 in air fares just to get to the ground, plus all the other costs. So in real terms what I pay around $160 each year for, is to see one game of footy live. Talk about dedication to a team. Now the reason I’m happy to pay this is because with increased member numbers clubs have a better footing to get sponsorship, prime time games, and it adds to the viability of the club.

It may seem like a first world problem, and it really can’t be read any other way actually, but to be slugged for a ticket and associated costs, so I can get my “free” ticket (Which if you look is really an $80 ticket at least), is nothing but corporate greed and theft. It’s $8 less to spend at the game on drinks and food (not that it would get much these days), which would support grass roots footy in the local area. It’s $8 less towards buying merchandise to support my team. It’s an $8 “lining our pockets with money is more important than the game” fee.

Yeah, I know, it’s only $8, but given the ground holds 9,000 people, that’s actually $27,000 in fees, before any ticket prices come into play, that has been stolen off the top. If we look at it as say 3,000 member tickets, 3,000 adult tickets, and 3,000 kids tickets being sold for the game, the gate taking is $85,000, excluding the on top fees. Not bad money if you can get your hands on it, even better when you add in the fees and charges. And all this before a ball has even been bounced.