Thursday, October 20, 2016

There are no lines

I note with interest, not surprise, that Channel Ten's 'comedy' show, Have You Been Paying Attention, received an official dressing down from Thailand's ambassador in Australia, who said the panel of comedians was "very inappropriate, disrespectful and certainly not amusing." Read the full story

I happened to be watching on October 17, but only because the show I was watching (Todd Sampson's Body Hack - a great show by the way, unlike Have You Been Paying Attention) had finished and I had nothing else to watch. I don't watch shows like HYBPA, or The Project or any of the other myriad shows which attempt to make fun of anything and everything in the news. Good taste, respect, and cultural and religious sensitivity get thrown out the window for the sake of laughs.These shows are quite popular, but I don't like them, 

Nothing is sacred. These people will say anything to try and get a laugh. They don't know where to draw the line. There are no lines. I avoid comedians in general for the same reason.

On HYBPA they showed a woman crying over the death of the
beloved Thai monarch, with one goose suggesting she had a problem with her backpack. I thought it was unbelievably disrespectful. I know a lot of Thai people, and I have lived in Thailand. I doubt any of them were watching which is good, because no one in mourning deserves to be ridiculed.

The other problem I have with these shows is that the viewer can get sucked in to laughing at everything. They find one comment funny, and the next, and keep laughing at the third even if they don't think its funny. Even if they think it's sick or offesnisive. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm weird. I mean I hate Funniest Home Videos because I don't think watching people get hurt is funny.

It's further evidence to me that I do not belong. So much of what is 'popular' nowadays is of such low morality it makes me sick. People like me get ridiculed for not having a sense of humour. So be it. I guess humour, like beauty, is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: Tick! Tick! Tick!

Short and sweet is my post this week because I'm pretty busy enjoying the weekend, during which a number of little things have brought me pleasure and relief.

I'm enjoying a getaway from my neat little granny flat and living it up at The Ramada Zen Hotel in Darwin. I checked in yesterday, and sat on the lounge. Yes! A lounge. It's the first time in nine weeks that I have had the joy of sitting, and reclining on this much taken for granted piece of furniture.

I hired a car for the weekend for convenience sake, and to have a
little break from the buses. It's so nice, and kind of strange to drive myself around the now familiar streets of Darwin. We go where we want to go, whenever we want to go. I haven't driven a car for nine weeks either,, and although the little Hyundai i20 is no match for my mighty Falcon, it's a lovely little luxury.

The reason for the hotel and the car? The arrival of a special guest, and when I picked her up at the airport, we hugged. As you know I've been suffering from HDS (Hug Deprivation Syndrome), so the first hug for ten weeks - exactly ten weeks in fact since we parted at Sydney airport - was immeasurably wonderful. We've had many more since then, and there are many more to come before I have to say good-bye once again.

Today, I'm thankful for lounges, cars and hugs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The not so magnificent 7

Released in 1960 (eight years before I was born),The Magnificent Seven features a superb ensemble cast led by Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, and is is one of my top ten films. Curiousity took me to the cinema last Sunday to see the 2016 re-make starring Denzel Washington.

Let's start with the good stuff before I rip in and tell you why this film is a 'fail' in my opinion.

The final battle scene was a lot of fun. Superb choreography, bullets and arrows flying (with incredible accuracy from the weapons of our heroes), and even a Gatling gun. Vincent D'Onofrio was almost unrecognizable and terrific in his supporting role of Jack Horne, and Emma Cullen made a very sexy damsel in distress.

Here's why I didn't like The Magnificent Seven 2016:

  1. The village of poor farmers being regularly plundered by Calvera's bandidos (1960) became a mining town being exploited by a business tycoon. (2016)
  2. None of the original characters were included in the new film. 
  3. Yul Brynner's ice cold, man in black, mercenary cowboy, Chris, was replaced by an angry black man with an axe to grind named Sam Chisolm.
  4. Awkward insertion of classic lines from 1960. Vin's (Steve McQueen) story of the man falling from a building, for example.
  5. More style than substance (a common problem with modern action films)
  6. A series of lame attempts to explain the motivation of the seven.
  7. The insertion of a random Comanche Indian in the 7 who cuts out and eats a deer's liver or something. Why did he join this gang of white men? Ridiculous.
  8. Sam Chisolm being motivated entirely by revenge. The original film is a redemption story, and has nothing to do with revenge. I guess the makers of the film thought revenge was sexier than redemption. 
  9. Number eight was the second worst thing about the film. The worst thing was the ending. I literally scoffed out loud when I heard the sexy damsel in distress voicing over a shot of four crosses on the hill with these words: "They were magnificent!" Get me a bucket! 
1960: As they look one last time down on the village they rescued from its oppressor, Calvera, Chris says to Vin: 'We lost. We always lose," and they ride off. That's an ending!

If you haven't seen the 1960 version, you might enjoy The Magnificent Seven (2016),  but I could only give it 3 stars. If not for the aforementioned positives, it would have only been 2.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: The Classics

I cut my teeth as a reader on Stephen King's horror stories: Carrie, Salem's Lot, Christine, Pet Sematary etcetera, and from there it was on to thrillers, sci-fi and more horror. The movies I watched and the books I read were basically in these genres. I read some other stuff at school including some really old stuff by a guy called Shakespeare, and I remember reading and studying The Crucible, but for entertainment I read pulp horror fiction.

At some point in my journey as a reader, which I suspect coincided with the beginning of my writing 'career', I broadened my reading to include everything: and I mean everything. Everything from bumper stickers and public toilet graffiti to classic works of literature like Don Quixote.

It is about the classics that I wish to write now because I have fallen so madly in love with them, I can confidently say it is my favourite genre. Interestingly, I think my writing style could be termed neo-classical, because I am heavily influenced by both the vocabularic breadth and syntactic complexity of the classics.

Having arrived at the classics party quite late, I have much catching
up to do, but I am attacking this deficit in my life with relish. I just finished reading Moby Dick, and as I usually am, I was struck by how amazing the writing is. Melville's novel of obsession is famous, but I wonder how many contemporary readers have taken it on. 19th century literature is not light reading. I loved it. Read my review on Goodreads

So today I am giving thanks for great works of literature like Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and I'm grateful for the fact that you can get many such classic novels for free on Kindle.

Next up: Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Bring it on!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: Hug Deprivation Syndrome

I love Family Feud because it's funny and it makes you think. It's really great entertainment in my opinion. Anyway, I was watching last week and the question was - this was during fast money at the end of the show where the winning family tries to score 200 points in order to win $10000 - the questions was: what's something you do to show you love someone?

The first guy said buy them flowers, and the second guy said buy them chocolates, but neither of those answers scored more than 20. My quick answer was hug them, and surprise! surprise! (thanks Gomer) hug them was the top answer followed by kiss them.

Although there is much which could be said about this, I simply want to say that I like hugging, but I did not know how much I liked hugging until I moved to Darwin. One of the things I miss most is physical touch. I've shaken lots of hands because I'm often meeting new people, but I haven't hugged anyone or kissed them. Nearly two months without a hug!

Today I am giving thanks, in advance, for all of the virtual hugs that people are going to send me as a result of my sad story about HDS: Hug Deprivation Syndrome (of course it's a real condition). I'm also thankful that I only have to wait 13 more days until I can actually hold someone I love in my arms. I might not want to let her go.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

One Way Ticket to Mars

Everyone knows seats are available on Virgin Galactic for a quick trip into space and back again. $250K will get you on board. Needless to say, I am unlikely to ever be on a such a flight even if the price came down a little (or a lot).

Now I see on the news that billionaire, Elon Musk, who I had previously never heard of, has a plan for the colonisation of Mars. You can read all the details here: Elon's Mission to Mars Around $200K will get you on board for the journey to the Red Planet, except unlike Virgin Galactic's space jaunt, the trip to Mars is one from which you will not be able to return.

Knowing that seats on both of these flights will be booked out, started me thinking about the money. Two hundred thousand dollars. I'll say it again...two hundred thousand dollars.

Naturally I went to the fathomless depths of knowledge on the World Wide Web.

According to the IMF, $200K is roughly equivalent to the GDP of New Zealand, eight times the GDP of Latvia and 200 times the GDP of Samoa. One internet sage suggests that you could live like a king in Nepal for 14 years, and elsewhere I found the suggestion that 10 million people could be fed three meals for one day. So would you feed the people or fly to Mars?

What a dumb question! People spend money on all sorts of things that other people wouldn't even consider. What business is it of mine, if a billionaire wants to go and live on Mars? How does it concern me if my neighbour spent thirty thousand dollars on a boat which he uses once a month or so during the warmer months? Why should I care if someone buys Mills and Boon books?

I sponsor a child in Thailand, but I spend three times as much per month on cigarettes. I workout four times a week at a gym, but I give more than twice the cost of my membership, to my church. Up to me right? Exactly.

Meanwhile I'll be limiting my interactions with Mars to regular repeat viewings of the sci-fi classic, Total Recall. I bought my own copy of the mad is that?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: the NBN

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is Australia's largest ever infrastructure project and was initially planned and commenced by Kevin Rudd's Labour federal government. It has been the subject of much political and community debate. Both the costs, and the timeline for completion have blown out significantly, but I for one, do not care how much it costs or how long it takes to build the network (although sooner rather than later would obviously be preferable.)

Australia is a bit behind the times with technology. Although we love the latest stuff and are quick to adopt new technology we always have a bit of a wait for it, and we always pay much more as well.

We have unlimited ADSL2 broadband with iPrimus. They contacted me yesterday with the good news that the NBN was no available in our area and we could now upgrade with no additional charges. We had to have a new modem which they would give us for free if we paid the postage charge. When I complained about that, I was offered a $50 credit, so we will apparently have a smooth transition to a faster and more reliable broadband service plus $35 credit (taking off the postage charge for the modem) I spent twenty minutes on the phone with the salesman, going over all the details.

The salesman could not say when exactly the upgrade would occur, but told me that we would be notified in due course.

Today I received a text message from iPrimus saying the NBN will not be available in our area until at least December...maybe. I laughed.

I do have NBN where I am living now in Darwin, and I love it. It is faster and more reliable, and thus far I have no complaints at all. So today I am thankful for my internet service.