Thursday, July 8, 2010

Uhhh, What?

Oh, yeah. Thursday.

Been a busy one. They had a pupil-free day, Monday... school-wise, that is. I agreed to have another session of Shattered Worlds, because I figured I could do it down at Amazing Neighbour Anna's place, and take the Mau-Mau too. That way I'd have all the kids out of the house for about five hours, and Natalie could enjoy her day off. A bit.

Things went a little loco, as always. Instead of four lads playing this time, I had... umm... seven. Three of whom hadn't even heard of this 'RPG' stuff before - until Anna's lads and mine talked about it at school.

I regard it as a small triumph that I kept the attention of seven boys between the ages of eleven and seven completely focused on battling imaginary goblins for five straight hours. Cue amazed parents in all directions, yes.

It's working well, though. The noisy lad who likes to be at the centre of things is, perforce, learning to wait his turn and co-operate. And Elder Son, who never ever thinks about anything before he does it, has now had two near-disasters, and is beginning to consider the actions of his priest of Thor in a new light. The young boy who is frequently drowned out by his older brother and tends to keep out of the limelight wound up leading a rag-tag peasant band in a last-ditch defense of the courtyard as the goblins swarmed the walls... very nice all round.

And yes: Natalie got most of a day to herself. Not that it helped a lot. She's a bit down in the dumps at the moment. She's not good with the Dark Days of Winter -- whinges about being cold, doesn't deal with the short days and lack of light, dislikes the grey and rainy stuff. There's plenty of other things hassling her at the moment too - but winter doesn't help.

Tuesday, theoretically, I had some time. I wrote. And I put up some insulation. And I did a frockload of laundry, and shopping, and cooking, and some gardening, and I slow-roasted a pork shoulder for dinner: crispy, crackly outside, moist and pull-apart tender on the inside. Yay me. Sorry, pig.

Then I dashed into town and watched shitty Japanese movies with the Cool Shite mob. I made them watch Lair Of The White Worm a few weeks ago. I'm not sure they've forgiven me yet...

Wednesday involved more insulation and laundry and writing. And then there was the evening of martial arts. I've got one student old enough and advanced enough to be doing some of the nastier throws, with the really shitty break-falls that spin you in the air and drop you from waist or shoulder height. And it would be okay if there was somebody else around he could throw - but the other kid his size and skill level has something called chondromalacia, and we're being gentle with him for a while.

So yeah, yours truly is being used as the crash-test-dummy in teaching some of the uglier throws and falls. I wouldn't mind, even at my age, except that the mats we use are dense foam puzzle-mats without a lot of softness, and frankly, after fifteen or twenty falls out of hane-goshi, I feel like a sack of shit. So. I'm going to go shopping and see if I can't find a few gym mats - the kind with velcro down the side to join 'em together. We'll only need four or so: just enough to make a decently padded space so I can survive these goddam throws. Hane-goshi. Tai-otoshi. Tomoe-nagi. Kata-guruma. Oh - and o-soto-guruma: what a total bitch that one is.

Where's that take me? Today, Thursday. I was going to sword training this evening, but Natalie is down, and she's on call. I'd have had to get sitters or visitors or something to look after the kids, and I just didn't think it was fair to Natalie. So after a bit of private sword training and then the hour-and-a-half with the schoolkids in the afternoon, I brought the kids home, and we just cleaned up, dealt with the rat cages, went through the musical instrument practice, and had dinner. Oh - and I managed to find a couple of Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies online. I put 'Eegah' on for the boys: they thought it was hilarious. Unfortunately, Natalie came home about halfway through... and apparently didn't find Richard Kiel's "giant caveman" impression nearly as hilarious as the rest of us.

Ah well. You get that. She liked dinner -- polenta-crusted baked salmon with rice noodles and salad with sushi dressing. That usually buys me a bit of cred.


I'm increasingly pissed off with the shift to the fossilized, egregiously stupid right wing of politics in this country. Gillard has the helm now, but she hasn't got the message. We didn't hate Kruddy 'cos he was a boring dipshit - even though he was. We hated him because he sold himself as an agent of change: change from that syphilitic pustule John Howard and the politics of pathetic cowardice. And when push came to shove, Kruddy was an even bigger coward than Howard. Howard played on the electorate's most shameful fears to get his ugly little ass elected, but Kruddy didn't have the stones to move us back towards sanity, no matter how much we begged him. He kept on being afraid: afraid of refugees, afraid of the Internet, afraid of nudity, afraid of beer, afraid of Christian disapproval, afraid of gay marriage, blah blah blah.

Kruddy lost favour because he was a nasty little coward, too paralysed by fear of losing popularity to actually DO any of the things he'd promised. He gave us some money. He made a couple of apologies. He had a shot at taxing resource uses, yeah. Whoopee. But ultimately he just kept playing the politics of fear.

And Aunty Julia?

Same shit. As ever. For fox sake: Pauline Hanson has just come out and publically approved Gillard's shiny 'new' East Timor proposal. And that odious prick Conroy is still sucking the teat of the God Squad, whining about Eevul Kiddie Porn and planning to shut down all the bits of the Internet that frighten him.

More fear.

When did Australians become such craven cowards? Didn't this country get started by a bunch of crims in leaky wooden boats? Didn't our present PM arrive from a sad little third world nation beset by the traumas of war? What happened to the iconic, legendary courage of the Diggers? Why are we terrified by a handful of sad, desperate people trying to flee some of the ugliest places on the planet?

This is pathetic.

So, all this goes through my head, along with a glass of rum and lime. And then I hop on the phone, and I call an old friend who works as a TV producer, and I pitch an idea for a TV doco series. Each episode would be maybe forty minutes. And each one, very simply, would hang on interviews with people from despised demographics. You'd maybe take a few quotes from the John Howard/Bogan crowd, talking about why they hate these people, and you'd intersperse those quotes with real-life interviews with prominent, valuable members of Australian society from that group.

The first show would be called 'Bludgers'. And we'd get shit-heels like Wilson Tuckey to talk about the eevuls of the Dole. Meanwhile, we'd interview pretty much every writer, artist and musician in Australia to show that half the reason they could do their thing was because they had the Unemployment system to fall back on. (Don't take my word for it, folks. Ask any working creative type you know. If they've never been on the dole... you're talking to a miracle.)

And businesspeople. And innovators, yeah. Because in Australia, the JobSearch payments are a safety net. You can actually take that nifty idea of yours and have a go, because if you fail, you don't lose your medical insurance, your house, your credit rating and your life. If you fail, you can roll with the punch, live the poor life for a while, and try again.

What else would I do? Oh, in a flash I'd do a doco called "Fags", and I'd be interviewing prominent gay men. Bob Brown, yep. Sportsmen - Ian Roberts. Artists, musicians, businessfolk. Performers. There's heaps. And of course, if you do an episode on "Fags" you've got to do "Dykes". And "Coons". And "Reffoes", and "Pakkies" and "Wogs", and -- pick your pejorative, go with the flow.

So that was what I pitched to my friend the TV guy. But he's good at saying no, so now I'm posting it hereabouts. Don't get me wrong: TV guy was impressed. But he pointed out that currently, the TV people are so goddam conservative -- even at SBS and ABC -- that he didn't think it would stand a chance.

That sucks. Because my friend the TV guy is right: it's a fucking good idea. And somebody ought to run with it. Real people, people with brains and a little empathy and courage: we should be doing this. We should take those stupid, fuck-awful pejorative terms that John Howard's pathetically spineless demographic likes to use in private, and we should make them public, and we should put real people and faces to them. We should be saying loudly: yeah, you can use these words, you can live in fear of these people, but really all you're doing is labelling yourself as a pathetic, cowardly, craven-arsed little nobody without half the guts and brains and integrity of the people you're trying to insult.

Because I, personally, am beyond simply being tired of these useless, noisy, bullying little toads. I don't believe for a fraction of an instant that 'the majority' of Australia is really so pathetic and cowardly. Sure: I've seen racists and dickheads. Every country's got 'em. But mostly, when I look closely, the real racist, misogynist, homophobic arsewipes are actually few and far between. It's just that they're arrogant and they're loud, and they're being curried by politicians who think these loud, arrogant, loathesome fools represent a larger group.

The funny thing is that most of the people who mutter agreement with these idiots are simply ignorant. They piss and whinge about refugees and queue-jumpers and fags and all the rest - but they've never actually met the people they're talking about. All they know is that someone - some loud, arrogant, spineless prick - has offered up 'refugees' and 'queue-jumpers' and 'fags'
as a convenient, simple reason to explain why things aren't all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. And instead of looking for real answers, the ignorant mob is happy to bay and howl at the straw man they're offered. And yet, in my experience, when you introduce the merely ignorant to real, live examples of their supposed enemies... they rather quickly discover their errors.

Truly? I don't think the vast majority of Australians are such cowards and racists. I think they've been offered easy answers and scapegoats by opportunist pricks like John Howard. I believe that if we spent some time and effort on showing that majority of people the true nature of the groups they habitually revile, we might just see some changes in the nature of pubic debate.

But that wouldn't make easy votes for an upcoming federal election, would it? And so, yet another politician talks 'change', and offers up the same old goddam fearmongering.

We deserve better. And we've got to ask for it, because if we don't, the moral cowardice of our so-called 'leadership' is eventually going to turn us, as a society, into the pathetic little slaves of fear that they assume we are.