Bill at the Gallery Opening

Friday 27 February 2009

Only a few days left and still a lot to do, but that’s the great thing about deadlines – it sets a final possible mark.

Please find attached (gees, I’ve been in the Public Sector too long) a quick invite for the opening.

Bill Invite

Incidentally, that stuff about featuring some of Australia’s most talented Bear photographers and artists… that’s not by me, but from the HCB website, but I must admit I was flattered.

 I hope to see you all there, and bring your friends!

Advertisements

What I did during Mardi Gras 2007

Tuesday 24 February 2009

The 2009 Mardi Gras Festival began two Sundays ago but my Festival begins on Thursday with one of the MG Film Festivals… no idea what I’m seeing, I’m going as a guest of some friends. But, really, it is next week when everything takes off with Bears Essentials 13 – United Bear Tales, starting Monday with the exhibition opening (to type this I’m taking a break from stretching the fabric Bills around their canvases; it’ll all get done, it has to!). From Monday I have something on every night (and volunteering every day), till the March (it’s not a Parade) on Saturday, then Sunday for the Recovery Events (I’m not attending the Party). Then there’s Monday – rest – before returning to work on the Tuesday – whew!

I’m really looking forward to the week; it’s going to be a great, rememberable time.

My Mardi Gras two years ago, however, was not one that I wish to live again. Inspiration in Devastation, I wrote a two-part entry about the whole horrid event, though, reading back. it ended well. As a cathartic act – to expel any possible Demons, if you wish, from next week’s festivities – please enjoy…

 

Thursday Night : Monday Morning – Part One, The Weekend Before Mardi Gras

Thursday Night – where it all begins.

Big party weekend, this and the next, so went and got my two after-party tickets at the Midnight Shift. Might as well have a couple of beers while I’m here.

Next, I pick up some tic tacs – it’s very important to have fresh breath at parties.

Then, it’s a Thursday, my favourite show the Super Supremes. I stay for the act (of course), and have a few more beers (of course).

I’m at home on my sofa, which has been folded out to bed, and there is a strange man making me comfortable. He’s got me a drink and a pillow and is closing the blind. I fall back to sleep.

I wake up, I don’t know, about 4. He’s still there. He’s tidying up; stacking magazines, piling up papers, that sort of thing. He asks if I’m ok. Again, I fall asleep.

Seven o’clock now. He’s lying on the sofa next to me. I drift off again.

 —

Friday Morning – where it all falls apart.

Eight, I wake and realise I have to get up and go to work. The man is still there. He chats to me about going for a picnic as I shower, but I tell him I have work. I check my wallet, which has no money in it but that’s not that unusual after I’ve been out, but the tic tacs are missing.

Then I do a silly thing (what, I haven’t already?). I put the loose pile of money in my locker in the silver envelope where I keep all my tickets, theatre or party. I then go into my bedroom to check there for the missing tic tacs, and I realise I can no longer hear the man.

Down the stairs I run, and there he is in front of another door with my suitcase and four of my shoulder bags. He has another bag on his other shoulder which I don’t recognise. “Hey!” I say, “that’s my suitcase!” “I know it’s your suitcase,” he says. I grab my suitcase and the four bags tied on his shoulder. He yells at me that I’ve taken his bag too; I tell him to follow me and we’ll work it out upstairs.

Back up stairs I throw all my stuff inside. He hasn’t followed. I rush back down the stairs and out the street door… no sign. I bang on the door that he was in front of, finally waking a woman up who knows nothing. I head back up stairs.

I check the bags. Inside is a pile of books all wrapped carefully in towels. Strange things: the complete Calvin and Hobbes (a huge three book box set); collector card sets of Batman Returns and Jurassic Park (I’d forgotten I had them); a commemorative plate from an old ABC show which I’ve been carrying around since the early 90’s.

In my bedroom every box I have, and I have a few, has been unpacked and then restacked and covered with sheets. In a slight way I’m impressed of the man’s thoroughness.

On first glance, he’s run off with my leather jeans (ouch) and a pair of red vinyl pants (no great loss there). Also my credit card is also gone and the silver envelope with all the money (about $400) and all my tickets. The funny thing is he didn’t touch the DVD or video players, or any DVDs for that matter, but also left the portable computer, which is good because I can find the number to cancel the credit card, and transfer some money (he left my bankcard, thank goodness), and report the stolen theatre tickets. Now, every time I go to the Opera, I have to pick up a new ticket from the box office. I wonder what happens when I get to my seat and find someone else in my place?

The rest of the day goes on fine, but every now and then, sitting at my desk at work, I would speak out, “Bum!” The only thing I could focus on was the inconvenience. There goes my whole next two weeks.

Look, he was just some druggy who saw a chance. Frankly, it could have been so much worse. He didn’t touch me, he didn’t touch the computer, and I got a lot of my stuff back. Everything else can be replaced. So, in a way, I’m thankful.

 —

Friday Night – where things all settle down.

I was half expecting to get home to find the place emptied but everything is there. I quickly check: yep, there’s my spare set of keys, phew!

Call Anne, whom I was taking on Saturday lunch to a Chinese tea appreciation. “Hi Anne, do you mind if you pay?” She understands completely, but what a horrible thing to do to her.

I fall asleep on the sofa (my bed is covered with opened boxes and discarded books). It could have been a lot worse.

 —

Saturday Morning – where it all gets back on track and things look up.

Someone is smiling; the money transfer came through! Right, I think, first to log onto Pinkboard classifieds and email a few people who have spare Azure tickets for sale. Then it’s out the house.

First stop, Anne and the tea, and what a wonderful, relaxing event that was. Next time we all must go. And I was able to treat her like I wanted. She’s a good sort.

Next to get more tic tacs. Done.

I’ve had a phone call: a spare Azure ticket! Just down the road, I thankfully rush over and pick it up.

On the way home I pop into the Shift and purchase another after-Azure party ticket. I’ll get the after-Mardi Gras ticket next week.

 —

Saturday Night – where things are all put back to normal.

A night of tidying up. While I sort I make up a big pot of pasta (one needs their carbohydrates for weekends like this), put on a few loads of washing, then make the big effort of packing everything back up.

Now I’ve got the time I’ve also discovered the bastard ran off with my four-person picnic bag (that must have been the other bag – he’d emptied the contents then tucked it under the bed), and a couple of loved books, but ones I can easily replace. I’m sure there are other things, but nothing I can quickly see. At least the bedroom looks nice and neat now. I suppose I owe him a favour.

 —

Sunday Morning – where all is prepared.

Wake about 10, and have a relaxing day around the house. A dish or two of pasta, a movie or two, keep it all nice and easy.

The Azure Harbour Party starts at three. I figure at getting there around 4, it should have started pumping by then. I start getting ready around 2.30. I notice it’s raining, softly but still the last thing we want is the drenching of last year. Quick check of the Bureau of Meteorology’s website – should be ok.

3.30 and it’s still raining. Still not dressed. I go and grab one of the t-shirts in the tallboy. They’re gone! That bastard stole my two Bonds t-shirts! Plan B: an olive green sleeveless number I bought a year or two ago. I look good and, thinking about it, I don’t know if I would even fit those t-shirts anymore. Some would call it Sour Grapes, personally I call it Looking at the Bright Side.

Ten to 4 and finally the contacts are in, money and ticket are pocketed away, the tic tacs are in my sock, and a small bottle of room deodoriser, just in case it’s a bit smelly, is in place next to my keys. It’s also stopped raining so the walk is pleasant, if not a bit humid.

 —

Sunday Night – where it all looks promising, but looks are deceiving.

So I get to the party about 4.30, and there are police with snuff-puppies and people doing body searches. My bottle of room deodoriser is confiscated in the pat down. A snuff-puppy pays me some attention but moves onto another leg. I can only guess no one noticed my intense sigh of relief.

A bottle of water and two rather hideous glasses of sparkling later, I run into some friends and we mingle, compare pat downs and prepare the entrance onto the dance floor. First I make a pit stop to the loos for a tic tac – I’m told later that there were snuff-puppies hanging around the doors snuffing everyone coming out but I never saw them. Perhaps they were there later?

Had a great time on the dancefloor. One of the first numbers, and the floor was only half full so I could go extra crazy, was Big Pig’s Breakaway. That’s what the audience wants DJs of the world, funky numbers from the 80’s that everyone knows the words to.

Nine o’clock DJ begins and the night has been going well. The rain has kept at bay, the music has been fine, I’m feeling good about myself, and 3 more hours of to go. Five minutes later the music stops: “Due to Police action this party has been shut down.”

So that was that.

About an hour and a half later, after a trip home to shower and a fruitless search of the Cross for more room deodoriser (the Police have raided every shop and confiscated the lot), I’m at the Manacle dancing away in the corner by the pool table. Had a few drinks and a great time on the floor. Knew a few people there but I mostly kept to myself.

I’ve still got that ticket to the Azure-after party, so eventually I head off. I’d been given a tip to where I could fine some room deodoriser though, so I figure doing the search first. I finally found one place that sold me a bottle only when he realised I wasn’t an under-cover cop.

Three o’clock, after another trip home to shower, unpack the deodoriser, and pop down a tic tac, I’m on the incredibly packed dance floor of the Midnight Shift. It’s times like these that I realise just how crap dancers some people are. LISTEN TO THE BEAT, PEOPLE, LISTEN TO THE THUMP THUMP THUMP, IT’S NOT THAT HARD! My favourite was a guy who must have thought he was on a pogo stick, but he got annoying after he thumped into me the umpteenth time. Eventually I find a space surrounded by not too unattractive men and settle down for a good dance. The music’s not really my thing, all sounds and no words, but you can’t listen to Adam & The Ants 24/7.

A dark-skinned man has taken an interest in me. We exchange looks and grins. He finally reaches over and introduces himself: Darren. We get chatting, and everything’s looking good. He’s a half-Tamil UK boy out on holidays. He asks me if I live nearby, a good sign. He asks me how often I work out, a great boost to the ego, perhaps that soup diet is working after all. We chat about the music. He asks me my preferred taste, I reply Rick Astley. Oops, wrong thing. He tells me I’m not as cute anymore. Still, he kisses me, and all I can think of was perhaps the drought is finally broken. Hallelujah Peoples, the dams are sure to break tonight!

His friends have left and we decide to go too. It’s a nice work home, but I think he finds it a further walk than I do. At my door I tell him I’m not going to apologise about any thing he sees inside, what with the robbery, me having done washing, and the cockroach problem. ‘Cockroaches?” he says with a slight sense of revulsion. “Cockroaches,” I reply, “It’s the Cross, you can’t get rid of the bastards.

I’m getting us a drink when he tells me he may not be able to stay. I’ve figured he’s found a DVD or CD not to his taste (remember Rick Astley), but, no, he’s seen a bug.

We drink our pineapple juices and steal a couple of kisses, but he then tells me he has to leave; it’s the bugs, you see, he has this thing about cockroaches. He’s very apologetic. I smile, and show him towards the door.

For the second time in three days I speak out, “Bum!” The drought continues.

It’s now about 4.30, a few more hours before the Manacle opens for the day party. I catch a few winks on the couch.

 —

Monday Morning – where I wonder was it all worth it.

I wake about 7 but frankly can’t be bothered heading off yet. I move to my bed, set the alarm for 8, then fall back to sleep.

Quarter to 11, I wake up. The alarm had been buzzing softly all this time. It’s still not too late to go to the Manacle, but I’ve lost interest. I turn off the alarm and get a few more hours of sleep.

Sometime in the afternoon I finally get up and settle in for a day around the house. It’s raining out, sometimes heavily, and sometimes a soft mist. I make some of my amazing weight-loss soup, watch some movies, and contemplate doing the ironing. But the highlight was when I emptied half a can of cockroach spray into the crooks and crannies of the kitchen. The floor is now covered with the upturned corpse of cucaracha. Not as good as a root, but all things considering over the last few days, it makes me feel a little better.

Last thought for the day: there’s always next weekend.

—+—

Thursday Night : Monday Morning – Part Two, Mardi Gras Weekend

In our last exciting installment, our Hero was robbed, raided, and rejected by an Englishman with an anti-bug fixation. Read on to see if things finally work out…

Thursday Night – where I learn nothing.

Well, I’ve lost my glasses. I don’t know. It must have been at the Oxford ‘cos I didn’t have them when they escorted me out.

 —

Friday Morning – where I go shopping.

No sign of my glasses. I never liked them and have wanted an excuse to get a new pair for ages. I’d had them since June 2004 so I suppose it was about time anyway Sarah and I go shopping. My eyes haven’t deteriorated that much but Fashion surely has. Depressing though: as I handed over the credit card I realised that thanks to my weekend misadventures every cent I had saved has now gone. If you take into account all the rebought tickets, stolen leather jeans, and beer and tic tacs I was well over $2000 out of pocket. That En Zed holiday was looking further and further away.

 —

Friday Night – where I give in.

The soup diet has beaten me. I haven’t lost the 10 kilos I was hoping to shrink by Mardi Gras. I’m having roast chicken for dinner while I watch The Biggest Loser. With feta stuffed olives. And a banana smoothie. Let’s see how fat I can get before tomorrow night.

My eyes are hurting. I’ve got a week of contacts. Considering I’m wearing contacts all weekend at the parties I’m just going to have to get use to it. It’s either that or prescription sunglasses and I somehow don’t think I’m that cool for school.

*Groan * I wish I hadn’t had that second banana smoothie…

 —

Saturday Morning – where I feel silly.

I found my glasses; they were in the back pocket of my jeans the whole time. One of the screws had come loose and the lens popped out. Oh well, look on the bright side – at least I’ll be getting a nice new pair out of this. I pop into the city and get them fixed.

 —

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – where I wander from here to there.

Not that much to tell. Went to Mardi Gras, had a good time, but left at 5. It was an enjoyable party but (there always is a ‘but’) it was just so stiflingly hot. The Dome (thump thump thump) was like a sauna, including the steam. The Forum (retro, where I started the night at the very front of the stage idolising my goddesses the Super Supremes) was so jammed that the one time later I worked my way in I struggled through the crowd directly towards the opposite exit – I couldn’t get out quickly enough. The Hordern, I suppose the main hall that the big name DJs play, was one lump of bodies… and not in the nice way either. Its blessing is that it’s air-conditioned and has bleachers to rest those weary toes. I spent my night in the RHI, which was once described to me as Handbag Hall; you know, girly vocals you can sing to and wave your arms about in the air. I always find it interesting that it’s full to the brim with big muscle boys in their leather accessories. It just goes to show that you can’t have ‘Leather Queen’ without ‘Queen’.

But the RHI was sometimes unbearable. Not air-conditioned, full of dancing over-adrenalined persons, it was at times too much to cope. For once in the last two weekends I was sensible and would (have to) leave the Hall every half hour or so for a walk and some fresh air. I wondered about the many others that had taken maybe a few extra tic tacs and who knows what else. Myself, I was left content with a pair of jeans that were so saturated it looked like I’d wet myself.

Played kissy-face with two young men, but it was too hot and I wasn’t that interested. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not the prettiest thing or the youngest thing on the market but I’m sure not the podgiest either. I’m all for a natural body (who can be bothered spending their lives in pain at the gym when there’s yum cha to be had?) but, gees boys, have some respect for yourselves. I would occasionally try that sidewards glimpse at those around, checking out their guts against mine. I’m not too bad. I reckon that soup diet might just have worked after all.

Like I said I left the party at 5, so very early, but I had enough and didn’t want to be there just for being there’s sake. I’d also run into everyone I wanted to see – it’s funny but if you try to find people you never find anyone but if you simply glide along then your entire address book shows up. I even managed to bump into the English entomophobe from last weekend.

Anyway, I left and moseyed around for a while before going to the Manacle day club, where, not dressed in the mandatory leather, I managed to jump the queue with a well-placed nod to the bouncer. It’s always so important to be polite to the staff. I was only there till 10 when Mardi Gras would have just been finishing. Fatigue kicked in so I went home. I realised later that I had fallen asleep before some people would have even left the Mardi Gras halls, but I didn’t envy them.

Funniest site of the weekend: While in line for Manacle two leather and laced lesbians swaggered up to the bouncer. One obviously had an axe to grind (I’m sure there is a rather naughty joke in there somewhere, but I’ll move on…). ‘So,’ she said, ‘I suppose you’re not going to let us in.’ The bouncer (Alex) looked at them calmly and replied, ‘No, you are always welcome here if you are dressed like that. If you would like to stand in this line we will let you in as soon as we open.’ ‘Oh,’ the Axe Grinder replied, ‘but I bet this is only day in the year that you would.’ ‘Not at all,’ said Alex, ‘You are always welcome at Manacle,’ and then gave a run-down on all the dress code themed nights and events. By this time the Grinder had run out of steel. ‘Well, we didn’t really want to come in anyway,’ and with that turned her tail taking her girlfriend with her. Alex allowed himself a smile; he was in for a long day and I’m sure little wins like that make it go just that little bit quicker.

 —

Sunday Night, Monday Morning – where I keep going and going and I like it!

(Again it’s easier to combine as it’s really one very long night.)

Well, a couple of beers to start with, they didn’t taste very nice, then a movie. I’d picked up Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on my journey out on Saturday morn. A great film, it’s my new film of choice before attending leather-and-denim themed dance parties.

Guess what was my next step? That’s right: a leather-and-denim themed dance party. I’ve been going to these for over a year now. I remember the first one I went to with Mark last NYE: I was petrified and thought I was going to throw up… five minutes in I was home-sweet-home. This one, I think, was one of the better do’s though my gripe about annoying floor users continues to grow. I’m not sure which are worse: the men who bounce up and down like a paddle ball or the ones that sway back and forth like a palm tree caught in a cyclone. Either way, they interrupt my groove.

Familiar faces (I even got another chance to grin politely to the UK boy, he heads back next week but with my luck I’m sure to see him every night till then) and mostly semi-handsome men. Was chatting to someone I had met that morning at Manacle who was saying that in the year or so he’d been attending the average age had dropped significantly. It used to be around 60, he said. I can only assume that ‘significantly’ to him means ‘by 10 years’.

OK, so the trade was getting on a bit, and I thought so should I. As I discussed later with a friend who knew a thing or two about the scene; you might meet Mr Right-Here-Right-Now at a party, but you don’t meet Mr Tomorrow-And-The-Next-Day-And-The-Day-After-That. You’ve just got to know what you are looking for, I suppose. So I went looking for a beer.

I found one at the newly refurbished Oxford Hotel. I’m still not sure if I like it or not; it’s all too shiny with no where to hold up the bar, but I’m sure it will grow on me at that time when there’s nothing else open. It was a little over an hour till Manacle opened so I pulled a stool up to the closed end of the bar and enjoyed a few Carlton Draughts with a dash of lemonade. I’ve got to thank Kate for that one, and I can tell you they are the most delicious things when you’re coming down from a night of tic tacs and loud music. I really must make her that T-shirt as thanks, she doesn’t even remind me politely about it anymore…

Most audacious site of the weekend: At this time in the morning there’s always a strong representation of straights in the Oxford; today there was a small collection of lads taking pictures of the trannys and drag queens with their pocket camera. One would even pose in front as if he was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or something. I don’t think they were expecting the glaire-coiffured marvel that is Polly Petrie though. I tell you, that creature knows how to knock the wets down. When she came staggering past on nose bleed heels wearing her glittered ‘It’s My Fuckin’ Show’ mini-dress, the camera boys could only stop and stare. By the time she had turned the corner on her way to the loos they had completely forgotten to take their shot. Later, as she finally made her way out the door into the new dawn light, I secretly hoped that I looked as glamorous as that after my big nights.

Manacle again, but this time I’m dressed for the occasion and walk straight in with the other harnessed gents. I make the decision to stick to my beer with a dash combos, to the wry smile of the bar staff, but the lemonade is just the sugary boost I need to keep going. The occasional jellied snake from one of the complimentary bowls doesn’t go astray either. I’m in my usual spot on the floor (I’m a man of routine) and having a ball, dancing up a storm! Have a chat to a gentleman with a redhead fetish, something I will never really understand, and also hand my phone number to a pair of Melbournites who have discovered a love of the Super Supremes after seeing them perform at Mardi Gras. I tell them I’m going down for the International Comedy Festival and we vow to book a small group. Note to self – must arrange.

The place was pack’d, the music was pumpin’ and I was goin’ off! Gees it was a good morning, and a pretty good early afternoon too. But I suppose it all must come to an end eventually so about 2 I made my way home. I was asleep by 2.30.

All in all I had a better time on Sunday/Monday than the more expensive and hyped Saturday/Sunday. Overall, though, considering last week, I was pretty much sensible and nothing alarming happened. I somehow feel I’ve let you all down.

But I enjoyed myself. And the belt has gone in another notch. I tell you, I’m sticking to the soup.


More on Bill

Saturday 21 February 2009

Two days late this blog. I would like to say it’s because I’ve been up till three every night sewing away (which is true for the first part of the week) but I’ve been out pissing it up with friends instead. 

So I’m going to cheat this this entry and show you some in-progress pics of the pieces I’m getting ready for an upcoming exhibition, as part of the Harbour City Bears’ Mardi Gras festivities. I’m going to cheat even more by simply sending you to the link of the article that appeared in this week’s Sydney Star Observer (one of the two Sydney pink presses) in which I’m interviewed about the exhibition. 

More on Bill next week, or go back and meet Bill first. You might be able to garner an idea of what I’m trying to do.

billclothes

workingbills01

workingbills02


Says the Ranga Queer

Saturday 14 February 2009

I bought the original Broadway cast recording of Avenue Q this week off iTunes. Avenue Q (winner of the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical) is a Sesame Street parody / homage that, while being pretty much a one joke show (ie these are Muppet style puppets acting and talking like New Yorkers) it has some incredibly catchy tunes, one of them being “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”. As a sample:

Everyone’s a little bit racist
Sometimes.
Doesn’t mean we go 
Around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one’s really color blind.
Maybe it’s a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgements
Based on race.

Princeton:
Now not big judgements, like who to hire or who to buy a newspaper from – 

Kate Monster:
No!

Princeton:
No, just little judgements like thinking that Mexican busboys should learn to speak goddamn English!

Kate Monster:
Right!

It ends with the whole cast (including Gary Coleman, the apartment block’s superintendent) joining in for another run of the chorus, with the final line going to the Japanese character Christmas Eve:

Evlyone’s a ritter bit lacist!

Last weekend, as I mentioned in my previous entry, I went and saw Take Me Out, the 2003 Tony Award winner for Best Play. The story line centres the successful mixed-race baseball player at the peak of his career who decides to come out, the drama (and comedy) being the reactions of his teammates. Unfortunately the team has hit a loosing streak, so halfway through the baseball season a cannon armed pitcher is brought up from the minor leagues and the team is back on top again… that is until the recruit is interviewed on television:

Well, I tell ya, its a pretty humblin’ thing. I’m just this kid outta nowhere and alluva sudden – WHAM, I’m on this team. An’ it’s a pretty funny team, ya know. A pretty funny buncha guys. Now, dont get me wrong. I don’t mind the colored people – the gooks an’ the spics an’ the coons an’ like that. But every night t’hafta take a shower with a faggot? Do ya know what I’m sayin’? Do ya get me?

On Tuesday night, as I cut and sewed for my upcoming collaborative exhibition, I popped on one of my favourite films West Side Story (1961 Academy Award wins for Best Picture , Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Original Music Score and Sound). You know the story – a modern (well, 1950’s) day telling of Romeo and Juliet told through the battles of the Jets, the Americans, and the Sharks, the Puerto Ricans. 

After the dance, the PRs meet on the roof top. Anita is none too happy about the upcoming war council:

Anita:
They use Maria as an excuse to start… World War Three.

Bernado:
It is more than that —

Anita:
More than what? She was only dancing.

Bernado:
With an “American.” Who is really a Polack.

Anita:
Says the Spic. 

We’re sitting in the pub, having finished our $7 steaks, when the guy on the table next door looks across. “You’re a redhead,” he said.

“Yes,” I said. Not much else to say. 

“I’m a redhead too.” I didn’t believe him – his hair was remarkably brown for a proposed redhead. When I disagreed he offered to show me his pubes as proof. I politely declined.

“Yeah, it’s terrible being a redhead, isn’t it? People always got to make comment about it.”

“Yes,” I said. Not much else to say. 

When you consider it, racism, and I’m including red hair in this, is so very obvious that it’s pretty much ludicrous. An entire form of offence based solely on the blatantly apparent. I know I’m grossly simplifying but, really, calling the Chinese “Chinks”, Aboriginals “Boongs”, Italians “Spaghetti-Eaters”, Irish “Bog-Jumpers”, Australians “Skips”, Redheads “Carrot Tops”, Blondes “Ditzes”, or even Queenslanders “Banana Benders” says more about the ignorance of the insulter than of the character of the insultee. I think the only thing you can do is laugh and walk away. 

It’s when people start judging you through their religious beliefs, that’s when it bothers me.

This week, with the devastation of the Victorian bushfires, the worst natural disaster to happen in European Australia’s history, Danny Nalliah, paster for the ironically named Catch the Fire Ministries, declared that the fires, along with the loss of 1800+ homes and nearly 200 lives, are the result of the state’s abortion laws. He says that back in October 2008, when Victoria was passing the laws, Nalliah had a dream:

In my dream I saw fire everywhere, with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I woke up from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in a flash from the spirit of God. That his conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.

(See here and here for more and here for the response from the NSW Council of Churches.)

Later in the week I was involved in a short email exchange with a woman I knew back in the town where I was born. One of my local gay hotels is holding an exhibition by a young artist also from my birth town who was, according to the blurb, very big in the theatre community, and I was asking the woman, a Seventh Day Adventist, if she remembers him. I sent her the link to the hotel with the warning: “It’s a gay hotel so take that into account (I think you may see some men wrestling in jelly, but that’s about it)”. Anyway, she emailed me back:

Well, you certainly know how to horrify me (and enjoy it).  As I am sure you are aware I have respect for men who are gay.  But I don’t condone or appreciate the blatant disrespect for themselves or for God shown on this page. 

I didn’t respond, but I did hit “reply” and my fingers did hover above the keyboard. But I thought twice about it and closed the window, dismissing the woman for the ignorant that she was.

Judgements not from the physical but from beliefs are what offends me. Actually, I’m wrong. It’s the righteous fucking smugness that the judge wallows in. “I’m right and you’re wrong, so nyahhh!” What was the Christian Golden Rule again? Do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Religious fanatics don’t seem to know it, or have some sort of Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free addendum version, something like:

Do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you … unless you so totally reckon that some imaginable character that no one has any proof of is actually some real dude, in that case go out and spout whatever shit you like to people who frankly don’t give a rat’s damn what you think or care about because, believe it or not, they are doing well happy with their lives with the only thing spoiling it is having to waste time being annoyed by you.

Frankly, god can go fuck himself; and anyone who feels the needs to harass others and vomit their thin veiled beliefs can join him.

 

Further reading:

The Racial Slur Database

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Russell’s Teapot

Invisible Pink Unicorn

Jesus Dress Up (an inspiration for Bill)


Gastronomic

Tuesday 10 February 2009

All about food this time, or more so the incredible joy of eating.

Let’s start on Friday, after work. Sarah and I were going to the Hayden Orpheum to see Milk (incredible film – give Sean Penn the Oscar), when Sarah suggested we try somewhere new to eat. South Restaurant is relatively new specialising in southern American food (as in cajun and creole). We thought we’d give it a go, a bite before the film, and enjoy something different from the usual dosai and pad thai diners we usually do. 

(I’m using a lot of links, aren’t I? I’ll stop now.)

We had already planned our menu – a selection of entrees. Thirty seconds after ordering the first dish arrived – the Hot Wings. To quote the menu:

Our own recipe… there is no substitute!  Served with celery sticks and house-made bleu cheese dressing.

Did I say entree? Ten pieces of chicken! I think there was a plate there somewhere. I’m not a big fan on chicken wings (too much work for not enough return) but these were something good. But what made them was that blue cheese dressing. Now, I’m all for a healthy meal every now and then – a leaf of lettuce on a wholemeal bun, that sort of thing – but if preference was a preference then pour that blue cheese dressing straight down me gullet! I have a feeling that the celery sticks, while nice to look at, are there so the dish doesn’t break any food health codes (After my fourth chicken wing lavishly dripping in dressing, I swear I heard my arteries slam shut).

In the short time that we had each enjoyed our first wing for the evening the 1/2 Rack BBQ Ribs arrive. O-H M-Y G-O-D !-!-!. Had I just died? Had I passed over? Was I now sitting at the table of Heaven? Because, I tell you, this is what angels eat for breakfast.  

Tender pork ribs, slow-cooked until they are falling off the bone. Finished on the grill and draped with our homemade barbecue sauce. 

Oh such humble words; it makes it sound so ordinary, so plain. If it wasn’t for Sarah sitting at that table, I would have made love to the plate. 

That first moment, as I lifted the bone and watched the tender meat simply scatter to the plate, I enjoyed an orgasmic moan. It was only when a couple at a nearby table looked across did I remember I was not alone. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but these ribs are magnificent!” “It’s all right,” said the gent, “This is the second time I’ve been here this week.” I’m pleased to say that he and his lady friend together knocked off a main-size ribs … each. 

But the dishes kept coming. Next was the Bucktown Prawns, and an aromatic adventure of pure bliss. The menu: 

This one is spicy! Jumbo prawns are sautéed in a highly seasoned brown sauce and served over grilled baguette. With extra bread to mop up the sauce. 

Spicy? Superb! Too hot for Sarah but hitting all the right spots for Clyde. While the prawns were magnificent I think I enjoyed the baguette, soaked through with the flavours of spice and seafood, more. 

What next? Oh yes, the corn bread. This was a whim, having never tried corn bread before. I don’t think I’ll order this next time, it takes up valuable stomach room away from the meat. 

Last on our menu (we had more to go?!) was the Chicken Enchiladas:

You haven’t HAD enchiladas until you’ve tried MY enchiladas! Fresh corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken breast. The whole thing is topped with tasty cheese and your choice of red sauce (Ancho and chipotle chilis) or green sauce (Tomatillos and Jalapeños), both made right here in-house. You get two enchiladas with red beans and rice. ¡Bueno! 

With Sarah not as adventurous as me with the sauces, we settled on the red (less hotter) sauce. What can I say? I think after the seat wetting joy of the ribs there was only ever going to be down. I enjoyed it, but I was eyeing off that other couple’s heaving plate of ribs. I’d definitely order it again, but I’d try the Jambalaya or the Crawfish Etouffe first; things I’ve read about but never tasted. 

Unfortunately – for me, not for Sarah – we needed to rush and get to the film so I didn’t get to try the deserts. I’m like a cow, you see, I have a special stomach set aside for sweets. I was so looking forward to that Blueberry Cobbler … or Pumpkin Pie … or Pecan Pie … or Banana Pudding … Perhaps next time I’ll order four deserts instead of four entrees? Still, I got a doggy bag of the remaining chicken wings (I woofed them down when I got home).

Then we rushed to the film. Poor Sarah; one minutes she’s watching me with rib bone in hand and tears of gastronomic joy in my eyes, a few hours later she’s sitting next to me, this time with tears of sorrow and loss. I knew a little bit about Harvey Milk, but obviously not enough. 

So that was Friday night. 

Saturday was Luna Park to celebrate Melanie’s birthday – a great choice for a birthday bash, especially with the weather being so unbearably hot (shit what’s happening in Victoria, hey? I hadn’t turned on the telly and my stereo is broken, and I hadn’t even read the online papers, so getting to work on Monday was a bit of a shock. More of a shock was hearing there has been 2 deaths in Bendigo, and something like 30 odd houses destroyed. I rang the family just to make sure they were all ok – I sort of guessed they would be knowing where they all live suburb-wise, and they were – but Dah did say that the fires came as close as a block away to Heather’s house. He mentioned that the big problem in Bendigo at the moment are the sticky-beakers driving to gander at the flames and blocking the roads for the emergency vehicles. As numbing as a grand fire must be it bothers me to think that all this loss is becoming a spectator sport) the log ride (a sort of roller-coaster on water) was a great place to start. 

Of course the choice of cuisine doesn’t journey much from cheeseburgers and dagwood dogs, and as tantalising as that may sound, I joined Alison in the Deck Bar for something a little more substantial (and classy). I had the linguini with Hawkesbury squid, banana chilli and proscuitto; she the poached Hawkesbury chicken salad with artichokes, button mushrooms and green beans. I have to say we made the right decision as neither dish sat heavy as we roared around the Wild Mouse and down the Ski Jump rides afterwards. Later we all sat and enjoyed ice creams, yet how one can enjoy an Splice after spending $3.80 I will never know.

Sunday was a Mardi Gras play (Take Me Out) with Joe and his bushwalking companions. Now Joe is – what? – a little older than me, but when I walked into the theatre and looked around, all I thought was Christ, I’m half the age of everyone here. And pretty much I was. This led, after the play, which was very good by the way, to one of the more tedious displays of Dithering I have ever witnessed. I don’t have time for Dithering. Make a decision and stick with it, even if a better offer comes along. Commit to a plan and make it work the best for you. I think this has a lot to do with me not having a mobile phone: I have to pre-arrange and organise. But this bunch – Lordy Lordy – trying to make up their minds where to eat. 

I would have thought the older you get the less time you have for Dithering, but this bunch proved me wrong. 

Eventually a decision was made – the Thai place across the street. “Right,” I said, “I’m off to get some money, I’ll meet you there,” and off I go. On my way back there’s Joe heading towards me. “They’ve changed their minds,” he says, “We’re going to another cafe instead.” Well, I’ve had enough of this and am sure set on just going home, but there’s the revised restaurant and there’s the group of fuddy-duddies. So I join them. 

I’m sitting in between the director of the play and this guy who is so old he has hairs growing out of his nose – and I don’t me out of his nose, I mean OUT OF HIS NOSE. Get some fucking tweezers man! He starts an argument with the waiter demanding a child size portion, then starts another argument about having to pay for his meal as it bigger than he could eat (he gets it for free); and I order the veal pizzaiola. So one end of the table talks about the play and Milk, while Gramps mentions to the director he’d been and seen the State Theatre’s production of War of the Roses – an eight-hour epic of eight of Shakespeare’s historical plays.

“Really?” I said, “I so wanted to see that, especially after hearing about the falling gold leaf, it sounded magical. Did you last the entire time?” “No,” Gramps said, “We left after six hours, it became more of the same thing.” I agreed; if you think about it it’s really just the story of someone wanting power, someone getting power, someone loosing power, repeat; but that’s royalty for you.

Gramps continued “But really, I didn’t think that highly of it, I mean, it wasn’t Olivier.” And at this I laughed out loud. And he took offence.

I did my best to apologise, saying that Olivier was a performer of a time and that the great beauty of Shakespeare is its ability to be adapted and reinterpreted and developed for a new audience, without damaging his words or meaning (but what is “meaning”?), but I couldn’t help saying that I did think what he said was incredibly funny. He wasn’t genteel in accepting my apology. 

But by this time the meal was finished. I was privileged to a brilliant display of Synchronised Dithering as they all argued over should they order coffee, but thankfully the bill soon arrived and I was let loose. Nice people, but Fuck I need to start hanging out with people my own age. 

Which brings us to today, Monday, and Sarah’s birthday morning tea. I’ve got a Bring-A-Plate party in a week or two so I took the opportunity to dry run a new desert – the banoffi pie (banana and toffee – get it?). The history of the banoffi pie is pretty well documented – first served at the Hungry Monk restaurant in England back in 1972, the pie has floated in and out of international tastes and style ever since. And why not – it’s so easy to make. I promised not to use any more links so google “banoffi pie hungry monk” for the historical recipe, but here’s an adaptation I found (the only real difference is the original recipe makes its own pastry base from scratch but who can be bothered doing that these days?):

 

Banoffi Pie

  • 3 tins of condensed milk (I only needed 2 tins but prepared 5 tins so I can have the others ready)
  • 200g butter, melted
  • 2 packets of sweet plain biscuits (such as Granita), crushed finely (I probably could have gotten away with only 1 packet and 100g of butter but better to be safe than sorry)
  • 4 bananas (I used 2. Depends on how thinly you slice I suppose)
  • 1 lemon, juiced (bought it but didn’t use it. As the banana gets covered with the cream I didn’t see the need)
  • 300ml thickened cream, for serving (I bought a 600ml instead)
  • Instant coffee (about a heaped teaspoon and a half)
  • Icing sugar (same amount again)

Immerse the tins of condensed milk unopened in boiling water in a saucepan. Cover and boil for 3 hours. Make sure the water always covers the tins to prevent them from exploding. Remove from the water and allow to cool completely before opening. The milk is transformed into the soft caramel pie filling, ie. caramelised. (I boiled for about 3 and a half hours but then didn’t take them out of the water, instead letting them sit there for another 5 hours when I went to Luna Park. As such, I’ve probably over cooked the caramel. I’m happy with the extra half hour time but would take them out next time to cool. But since I’ve now got 3 tins prepared, when I make it again in two weeks they can be content with the slightly over cooked caramel.)

Mix the melted butter and the biscuit crumbs together. Use a 24cm spring form cake tin and line the base and sides with the biscuit crust. Refrigerate until ready to use. This firms up the base. (I used my removable base tart tray that I bought years ago and have used only once. This is probably why I didn’t need as much biscuit, banana and caramel, but I’m happy with my result.)

Pour the caramel into the biscuit crust and smooth it off completely on top. (This probably would have been easier if I hadn’t over-cooked the caramel.)

Slice the bananas and squeeze lemon juice over them. This prevents the bananas from going brown. Arrange the banana slices on top of the caramel.

Pour the cream, coffee (to taste, dissolved first in a little warm water) and the icing sugar (also to taste) into a bowl and beat until thick. Spread over the pie. 

 

I’m happy to say that the dish was a success. Everyone had a bit, and everyone commented how delicious it was. This just may replace Delia’s chocolate bread and butter pud as my desert de rigueur.

Right, that’s enough. Bed time. 


Terrible

Wednesday 4 February 2009

I was talking to this guy at the pub the other night – just casual stuff, you know, chewing the fat, shooting the breeze, waiting for the badge draw to be called (I didn’t win) – when he said, “I left my wife last weekend.”

“Oh,” I said, glass halted mid way, “That’s… that’s pretty big, a… ummm… big thing to happen.”

“Yeah,” he said and took a sip of his beer. He stood staring out in front at nothing in particular; perhaps the wall, maybe a space somewhere in between. 

I just stood next to him, leaning against the bar, not sure what to say or do. It didn’t seem polite to keep drinking away as if nothing peculiar had happened, yet his statement demanded a response, however trite. I pretended to study the bubbles in the  beery froth to bide myself some time.

“How do you feel about that?” I asked eventually, looking up at the man. He was very tall and, while not muscly, large enough in frame to warn not to annoy. 

He finished his mouthful and looked down at me. “Fine,” he said bluntly.

“Well, that’s good then,” I said, and went back to my beer. 

He paused for a moment and then said, “Actually, it all worked out for the best. By the time I’d reparked the car and got back into Woolworths she was still at the deli counter waiting to be served.”

He swigged the last of his beer. “Same again?” he said.