You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

So, there’s a trailer out for 24’s next season, which I have previously moaned about. I won’t bother linking to it, since as usual the FOX Corporation is aggressively deleting all the YouTube clips of it. God knows why, since TRAILERS ARE A FORM OF ADVERTISING, but if you want to see it then just go find one that was uploaded less than ninety seconds ago.

Sadly, one of my five predictions has proven correct. Tony is evil. This was my genuine reaction upon discovering this:

critical keyboard damage

To top things off they’ve given him a shitty Chase-style shaven head and he looks completely retarded. Oh, Tony. We wanted you back, but not like this!

Not like this!

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I’m 19 today. A pretty lame birthday after the excitement of turning 18. It’s basically just “oh hey I guess I’m this new age now and also vaguely sad that I have one year left of being a teenager.” And the number itself isn’t quite as aesthetic as 18.

 On the political watch, Kevin Rudd and John Howard are debating tonight but I’ll miss it because I’m going out to dinner. I confidently expect Rudd to wipe the floor with him anyway. If Latham could do it, anyone can.

It is 10:00 on a Saturday morning and I had less than three hours sleep last night because I had to get up at 5:30 and drive to the airport and back twice and I have work at noon and until then I’m drinking shitty coffee and editing a short story that’s still going to end up with a poor mark and I just realised that the feature article I thought was due in November is actually due this Friday and I haven’t even started it or conducted any of the interviews I need to yet.

Fuck this day. Fuck it hard.

 

A federal election was called this weekend. On November 24, John Howard and Kevin Rudd will stride into a sun-drenched arena, the sands stained with the spilt blood of previous competitors. Our burly, masculine heroes will select their weapons, hold them aloft to the ravenous cheers of the crowd, and begin a brutal duel to the death.

Ah, if only.

Anyway, it’s about fucking time. Note that Howard has called the election for the latest date possible while still keeping his promise that it would be “well before Christmas” (even that’s debatable; most retails stores consider the holiday season to begin in September). Presumably this is because he is, secretly and sulkily, admitting to himself that his ass is going to stomped this time round, and he’s trying to prolong his stay in office as long as possible.

Also note that although the election was called on Sunday, electoral writs will be collected on Wednesday, giving citizens who have come of age since the 2004 election a mere three days to register if they haven’t already. They usually have more than a week. I’m sure that’s a wild coincidence completely unrelated to the fact that the under-21 demographic is historically pro-Labor.

In any case, my name has long been sitting on the electoral rolls, because I am a deep well of geekiness in all forms, including politically. Expect a lot of insight over the next few weeks from a teenager who thinks he’s qualified to discuss it but actually failed Political & Legal Studies, has Kevin Rudd in his MySpace Top 8, and who doesn’t give a flying fuck about economic issues because he assumes it basically just runs itself.  Yes, just as soon as I finish this last-minute assignment on James-fucking-Frey, I’ll open the floodgates on all kinds of election-season commentary that I’ll one day look back on and groan.

My bestest buddy Chris has finally caved in and uploaded some of his music to MySpace. He’s a talented composer, even more so considering that he makes all his songs using Guitar Pro 5, a shareware program that renders everything in MIDI format. This is the musical equivalent of trying to drive to work by crudely attaching a sail to a skateboard. He is to be commended for creating something even vaguely tolerable, let alone good, with that kind of limited equipment.

So, here’s the link. Check it out, and if you have a myspace like all the hip young kids do, then befriend him. As we all know, a person’s worth is determined by the amount of friends they have on MySpace.

I got 11.5 out of 20 for the creative writing assignment I posted a while back. I have no problem with constructive criticism, but it really shits me when my teacher focuses entirely on things like cliches, hackneyed phrases, and constant urging for our writing (word choice, not story/plot) to be “fresh and original.” Just because a word is original doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good and just because something is cliche doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. He’s too obsessed with the aesthetics of writing; he doesn’t teach us anything about how to make a good plot work. It’s style over substance, and I hate it.

Example: there are two ways for a gun to fall to the ground. It either “clatters” or, if it’s being propelled with force, it “skitters.” If that’s cliche, it’s because that’s the best way to describe it. God forbid I should use those words instead of coming up with some awkward metaphor.

In conclusion, I’m gonna go eat a big bucket of ice cream to make myself feel better.

In Rainbows is safely purring away on my hard drive. It was released at about 6:00 AM in the U.K, which translated to 3:00 PM here. It finished downloading at about 3:50 and I spent ten or fifteen minutes flicking through it, quickly listening to scraps and pieces, before conceding to my epically inconvenient schedule and heading to uni. Yes, I have a class at 5:00.

Fortunately Triple J was about as excited about it as I am. They played the album in full throughout my hour-long drive to Creative Writing 212, so as I headed down the freeway with industrial wasteland and out-of-commission train stations sliding past on either side, I had a chance to better acquaint myself with my new friend. When it was interrupted by Robbie Buck talking to Sarah Blasko or whoever the fuck she was, I could switch to 92.9 and listen to the wacky antics of Hamish and Andy on their Caravan of Courage roadtrip across Australia. In terms of audio, probably the best commute I’ll ever have.

In these preliminary appreciation stages, the best song so far is easily “All I Need,” which is awesome enough that when I pulled into the university carpark I sat there for two or three minutes waiting for it to end before I switched the engine off.

Focusing on music isn’t easy when there are asshole tradesmen overtaking you as soon as they’re about five centimetres in front (leave for your next job earlier you fucks) and your engine screeches painfully if you drive more than 90 k’s an hour, so I still haven’t had a chance to digest In Rainbows fully. It’ll take a couple of days before the landscape of the album begins to emerge, I learn the lyrics, and I can tell one song apart from the others.

But the verdict so far is that it’s good. I mean, it’s Radiohead. They are objectively the greatest band of all time. Seriously. Scientists proved it with a computer. And my personal love for them knows no bounds. I have 143 of their songs, I’ve lost count of the number of their lyrics I’ve used as entry titles in End Times, and I actually liked The Eraser. In Rainbows isn’t perfect – this album certainly proves to me that the band peaked with Kid A (and it’s somewhat depressing to know they’ll never create anything that good again) – but it’s still Radiohead, and thus greater than any other musical experience anybody else could compose in their wildest, most ludicrous dreams, scribbling down riffs as they ride enormous silver pelicans to the emerald palace.

So, overall, can’t wait till the next album in 2011.

________________

me: ooh, jigsaw falling into place is very jumpy

very un-radiohead…. oh

no, wait

thom yorke just started moaning

Chris: hahahaha

there we go

10:36 pm

Chris: oi dude is end times still goin or is it dead in the water

Me: what? of course it’s still going. why?

Chris: well you never update

its a corpse that is just rotting away

Me: i update every few weeks

i have a lot of things to do dude

Chris: LIKE WHAT

Me: plus i’m not always in the mood to write

Chris: GO GET CHINESE BOUGHT FOR YOU

Me: if i force myself to write i end up writing crap

Chris: YOU CUNT

so have you been forcing yourself to write every entry?

OH BAM

haha

Me: highlarious

As of October 1, all prospective Australian citizens, be they from Britain or China, must pass a 20-question multiple choice test on the topic of – to quote the Department of Immigration – “Australia’s values, traditions, history and national symbols.” Presumably the oft-cited yet ill-defined concepts of “mateship” and “a fair go,” will be involved at some point. Throw in the phrase “working families” and it’ll have the full cliché set!

Many people have, without even seeing the questions, predicted that most born and bred Australians would be unable to complete the test, written by some WASP bureaucrat in Canberra who graduated from the National Party school of uber-conservatism. I tested it myself, by asking people I know basic things such as “when was Australia settled by Europeans?” or “who was the first Prime Minister?” Most of them didn’t know (the answers are 1788, and Edmund Barton). Then there was that idiot on the Chaser who thought settlement only dated back to the 1960s or 70s.

People should know these things. But not knowing them shouldn’t be grounds to bar them from citizenship.

Out of curiosity, I found a website called http://www.aussietest.com that apparently exists to give prospective Australians a dry run of the ordeal. The site’s validity is dubious, considering that it’s supported by Google Ads, but I signed up anyway (as Yusuf Aziz, the loveable Syrian linguist!) and took a shot at it. Here’s a sample of some of the bullshit it vomited at me:

2. When is Wattle Day?
– September 1
– April 25
– January 26
– February 2

I answered this with a question of my own: what the fuck is Wattle Day? Seriously? After finishing the test I looked it up and discovered that it’s some kind of celebration held in New South Wales only. Bad luck for the immigrants planning to live in one of the other five states, I guess.

5. What are the colours of the Torres Strait Islander flag?
– Blue, green, black and white
– Gold, green and white
– Red, black and yellow
– Red, white and blue

I do not know the answer to this. I don’t see why I should, since I’m not a Torres Strait Islander, and live on the opposite side of the country from the Torres Strait. I especially don’t see why Yusuf Aziz should know, since it would in no way help him contribute to society.

As an aside, I hate it when you have to fill out a form and it asks “Are you an Aboriginal OR TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER?” Jesus, just say “indigenous.” You don’t need to clutter the page up with a clunky, unwieldy phrase because a minority group making up less than 1% of the population demands to be held distinct from Aboriginals.

6. When is Boxing Day?
– May 30
– January 26
– December 25
– December 26

How does this relate to Australia? Boxing Day is celebrated across the world…

Oh, wait! No it isn’t! It’s celebrated in Commonwealth countries. Clear bias towards citizens of the former British Empire.

7. When is Christmas Day?
– May 30
– January 26
– December 26
– December 25

More clear bias towards Christians/Westerners. Celebrating Christmas isn’t mandatory, if I understand my constitutional rights, so I fail to see why this is relevant.

9. How many Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders(*) are there in Australia today?
– 13 000
– 243 000
– 120 000
– 483 000

Since the government doesn’t care, why should Yusuf?

*See what I mean?

13. What is the name of the passage of water between Australia and Tasmania?
– Cook Strait
– Macquarie Strait
– Torres Strait
– Bass Strait

I knew the answer to this because of my detailed knowledge of global geography, but I can guarantee you any Australians outside of Victoria or Tasmania would have a hard time of it.

15. When is New Year’s Day celebrated in Australia?
– January 26
– January 1
– December 25
– December 26

Why, this question should be easy to answer for any culture which uses the Gregorian Calender! But I guess if you’re from the Middle East or China then you’re in trouble. Short of putting up a sign that says “Sand niggers and ching-chongs need not apply” at the Department of Immigration, the intent behind this question couldn’t be much more obvious.

Incidentally, Australians don’t celebrate New Year’s Day. We celebrate New Year’s Eve, and spend New Year’s Day sleeping in, throwing up, or driving halfway to Mandurah because we don’t realise that we live in the northern suburbs, Dave.

20. When was the Aboriginal flag first displayed?
– September 3, 1901
– May 30, 1955
– July 12, 1971

I would gamble my Australian citizenship on the bet that John Howard would be unable to answer this question.

The Department of Racial Profiling is processing your test...

Test Completed

Yusuf, you have completed the test.Time spent: 5 min. 55 sec.
Score: 16 / 20 (80%)
If this was the official test then you would have Passed with distinction – You’re a dinky-di Aussie!

Hooray! Thanks for celebrating my new citizenship with the obligatory, patronising slang that nobody actually uses!

Of course, “Yusuf” has my nineteen years of experience in Australian life behind him, not to mention some lucky guesses on a lot of the questions. In real life I doubt he would have made it. Sorry Yusuf, but your degree in linguistics from Harvard University is no good here. You don’t know when the Aboriginal flag was first used, so you can fuck off back to Syria like the terrorist you are.

Ultimately, it’s clear that this test unfairly favours immigrants of British or Commonwealth background, with the likelihood of success gradually decreasing the darker your skin gets. This sure is ironic, since the Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination based on race, religion or nationality. You might say they’re not giving ethnic immigrants much of a fair go. It’s also hypocritical, since a lot of Australians would be unable to pass.

But beyond the clear racist agenda, the other huge flaw in this test is that none of the questions matter. Why the hell should somebody need to know where the Bass Strait is or what colours are on the Torres Strait Islander flag? There should only be two questions on a citizenship test: Can you speak English, and do you have any skills? If the answer is yes to both, in you come. Otherwise, you’re free to live here, but don’t expect citizenship. Xenophobia and ethnic arrogance can fuck off back to the fifties where they belong, along with John Howard and the rest of the Liberal Party. This election can’t come soon enough.

_____________________________

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
With golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts
Our beauty rich and rare
On history’s page, at every stage
Advance Australia Fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
“Advance Australia fair!”

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands
For those who’ve come across the sea
We’ve boundless plains to share

With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”

The other day Radiohead unexpectedly announced that their next album, In Rainbows, will be released on October 10. Very sudden. Still, I’m quite happy, because it’ll be the first album they’ve released ever since I heard of them and they became my favourite band. Their last one was in 2003. That was a long time ago. I was in Year 10. The computer I’m typing this on, which is a rickety, groaning, outdated piece of junk, had only just been bought. Four years, guys? Seriously? What the fuck were you doing? Hitching the oxen team up to try and pull the stick out of Thom Yorke’s ass?

I’d put the album cover up, but it hasn’t been released yet, so I’m just going to put this image up because I think it’s amusing.

I'm hip! I'm cool! PLEASE GOD VOTE FOR ME

In any case, since they’re huge rock stars who no longer need to rely on a recording company (which is always very galling for any band that enjoys taking a stance again consumerism and globalisation and whatever else the hip young kids on Oxford campus are talking about), it’s being released online at http://www.inrainbows.com. Not only that, but you can choose to download it absolutely free if you please. And I do please. Very much.

Previously, I was planning to buy it as a CD, which would have been the second CD purchase in my entire life. I bought Black Holes And Revelations by Muse last year, and was hoping to do the same for In Rainbows, because Muse and Radiohead are the only bands I like enough to actually spend money on. I don’t own any other CDs at all, because it is the 21st century and I have the Internet, which means my single Muse album just sort of sits on my chest of drawers or the edge of my bookshelf, gathering dust and looking lonely.

Granted, a Radiohead album probably wouldn’t have been much company. It would have been all arrogant and snooty and looked down its nose at the Muse album. Nonetheless, the Muse album would have sucked up to it, because it had nobody else to talk to. Companions, but not friends. But maybe… maybe after years of being together, even though they didn’t really like each other, their relationship would have grown into a deep friendship.

A friendship which, now, will never be.

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