Saturday, July 23, 2005

Feminism: stop stepping on my painted toenails. Part 2

Is feminism dead? Is the war over? I began my previous blog entry with Plato and Aristotle’s view of women, and how this rationale shaped Western thought. In the year 2000, Melbourne Australia, an anti-choice National Party Senator Julian McGauran, obtained a woman’s medical records. State Coroner, Graeme Johnstone gave the Senator these records, then realising his error, sealed them. However, the damage had already been done. McGauran had seen enough and then proceeded to put a complaint before the medical practitioners board.
The woman, whose name has not been revealed, had a termination when her unborn baby was diagnosed with dwarfism.
The medical practitioners board, who received Senator McGauran’s complaint, and is therefore obliged to investigate, needs these woman’s medical records (that are now sealed) to proceed. The woman has consistently refused access to her records.
However, last month, the Victorian Magistrate ruled that the Royal Women’s Hospital must hand these documents over to the Medical Practitioners Board. The hospital is now appealing on grounds of patient confidentiality.
This story began in the year 2000 and it is now 2005. It has been five years. Five years, and still, an anti-choice Senator is doggedly proceeding, pursuing his own agenda.
This story has been prominent for some weeks now in one of Australia’s major broadsheet newspapers, The Age. A recent article, written on the 18 July 2005, by Dr Leslie Cannold, a fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, provides some further background information.

"A woman continues to have one of the most private and painful episodes of her life – one that drove her to the brink of suicide – splashed across the pages of the newspapers to be discussed and dissected by strangers…Victorian laws and court judgements that on the one had defines abortion providers and aborting women as criminals, but on the other enable doctors to lawfully provide the procedure if they deem it ‘necessary’ to preserve the woman’s physical or mental health…since that fateful day in 2000, when a kind-hearted deeply ethical man with a long history of commitment to women’s health and autonomy decided – in consultation with colleagues, including a qualified psychiatrist who judged the woman acutely suicidal – to perform the abortion, his life has been hell, his job threatened, his career in tatters, his ability to defend himself impeded. There wouldn’t be an abortion service provider in the state, probably the country, unaware of his story and the lesson it holds for them: toe whatever line the anti-choice groups draw in the sand or pay the price. Indeed, since that termination in 2000, an increasingly defensive medical practice has left many Victorian women stranded at precisely the moment when they most need support: upon learning their foetus is stricken with a serious or lethal disorder. Having made the difficult decision to terminate, many are shocked to discover that the hospital that offered – may even have urged them to have – the ante-natal test that revealed the problem, won’t extend themselves to provide a timely abortion, or any abortion at all."

In my previous blog I spoke of a book I had just finished reading, The First Stone by Helen Garner.

Garner spoke of her own illicit experience of helping women obtain abortions during a time when they were illegal.

"On my way home from Monash that Winter day, I drove past a certain house on a corner, and was overcome by a strange memory. In the early seventies I delivered to that house a silent and trembling woman from New Zealand who had flown across the Tasman for an abortion. I was just one member of a feminist organization formed to help change the abortion laws and to work meanwhile at arranging safe terminations for women who were in trouble, who couldn’t wait for the slow, grinding process of legal change…I delivered her to the surgery and picked her up again afterwards. I took her to the shared house I lived in. My friends and our children sat with her at the kitchen table while I made her a cup of tea. She drank it in silence. We didn’t even know how to talk to each other. She sat in our kitchen with her arms folded over her belly. Soon I drove her to the city, to the Queen Mary Club where accommodation had been arranged for her. Another member of the organization must have taken over from me there; I have driven past that abortionist’s house scores of times, without even noticing it. But driving home from Monash last winter, speeding along the ugly, endless road, I saw the house, and the memory of the woman’s dark, frightened face rushed back to me for the first time in more than twenty years."

Upon reading this passage, I was reminded about Senator McGauran’s actions. I ruminated for days, becoming angrier and angrier. The consequence has been these last two blog entries. I am angry when it is men like Senator McGauran and Mr Tony Abbot (Australia’s Health Minister) who appear to be making decisions like this. Setting up panels, mostly male, to discuss issues like this. I am angry, when, to prove a point, a Senator gnaws away at a small bone thrown to him five years ago. Quite frankly, these men are stepping on my painted toenails. Terminations are never ever pleasant. We do not live in a perfect black and white world. I think women have been excluded from the public domain for long enough.

Feminism: some questions about sex and power. Part 1

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle’s view of women had a profound effect leading to women’s negligible role in Western philosophy. Plato asserted that there was two parts of reason, an upper and lower. Plato believed that one part must dominate the other. “Reason becomes a divided facility, it includes lower instinctual parts which are in conflict with the higher cognitive parts”. Aristotle, Plato’s student, believed that rationality was somehow especially associated with masculinity. These views together with later Enlightened 17th century philosophy of Francis Bacon, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedreich Hegel, thoroughly excluded women from Western philosophy, ensuring that all thought was male dominant.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century. I have just finished reading a book, Australian writer, Helen Garner’s The First Stone.
I read this book primarily due to another that rigorously critiqued it. This was Gangland: cultural elites and the new generationalism by Mark Davis.
I spoke about this book in one of my previous blog entries entitled Generationalism.
On the cover of my copy of The First Stone, is the added sentence: some questions about sex and power. Helen Garner follows events that transpired at Melbourne University’s prestigious Ormond College, where after a Valedictory dinner a Master was accused of sexual misconduct. From the very beginning of this book, Garner, a self-professed feminist, portrays a generational divide, and questions not only ideas of sex and power, but the very ideology of today’s feminism. This book was enthralling to read, eloquently told with a sense of Garner’s frustration, anger and at times even disbelief. However, although a moving and compelling story is being told, you cannot help but be struck by a certain sense of ‘us and them’ in the feminist divide.

“One morning in August 1992, I opened the Age at breakfast time and read that a man I had never heard of, the Master of Ormond College, was up before a magistrate on a charge of indecent assault: a student had accused him of having put his hand on her breast while they were dancing. I still remember the jolt I got from the desolate little item: Has the world come to this? All morning at work I kept thinking about it. I got on the phone to women friends of my age, feminists pushing fifty. They had all noticed the item and been unsettled by it. ‘He touched her breast and she went to the Cops? My God – why didn’t she get her mother or her friends to help her sort him out later, if she couldn’t deal with it herself at the time?’ And then someone said what no doubt we had all been thinking: ‘Look – if every bastard who’s ever laid a hand on us were dragged into court, the judicial system of the state would be clogged for years.’ At this we laughed, in scornful shrieks. There was even a kind of perverse vanity in it, as among veterans of any tedious ordeal.”

Almost every girl has a story of unwanted sexual attention. When this sort of debate comes to the fore from time to time, these stories often rise with it, the ebb and flow of being female and living. This attention can be the uncomfortable sensation of a male colleague standing too close to you, the brush of an arm on a crowded tram, to full-blown physical abuse. Garner comments on the passivity of the moment. The unstable moment when you question your own reasoning, asking yourself, is this really happening? Garner uses the words “the male gaze”. I understood perfectly what she meant.
Helen Garner does question her own ideology. She wonders at today’s feminists.

"I thought too that, at fifty, I might have forgotten what it was like to be a young woman out in the world, constantly the focus of men’s sexual attention. Or maybe I was cranky that my friends and sisters and I had got ourselves through decades of being wolf-whistled, propositioned, pestered, insulted, touched, attacked and worse, without the big guns of sexual harassment legislation to back us up. I thought that I might be mad at these girls for not having taken it like a woman – for being wimps who ran to the law to whinge about a minor unpleasantness, instead of standing up and fighting back with their own weapons of youth and quick wits. I tried to remember the mysterious passivity that can incapacitate a woman at a moment of unexpected, unwanted sexual pressure. Worst of all, I wondered whether I had become like one of those emotionally scarred men who boast to their sons, ‘I got the strap at school, and it didn’t do me any harm’.”

Helen Garner talks of being the feminist who fought for abortion laws. She didn’t wear lipstick, and lived in a time where she was unable to use the power of the law. Anti-discrimination, and sexual misconduct, this type of legislation did not exist. She was from the feministic batch that took care of things themselves. My question here, isn’t that the whole point? Garner is horrified, at what she sees as almost an abuse of what she fought for. She fought for a world where a woman received equal pay and equal kudos to any man. Instead, she saw a woman complaining over a man placing his hand over her breast. Unwanted attention yes, but warranting the law? It is obvious in this book she doesn’t understand this. This is what she means when she asks questions about sex and power.

Friday, July 22, 2005

What I've been reading - Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings

This is a book that was set reading for my Australian Writing subject last semester. I found it to be a profound book and it generated much discussion between my husband and I.
It's a quick read. A slim novel that flows easily.
In fact, you may even be able to read it in one sitting. From the beginning of the book we learn that Cath's husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. This mandates that she must find a high paying job somewhere. Thus she finds work in Wall Street's financial world, writing speeches for banking executives. This juxtaposes the story, where we see in sharp contrast the shoddy and greedy wheeling and dealing in money to Cath's home life and the anguish of a debilitating illness. The ending is inevitable, but what I found really moving is the way it was done. There is obvious symbolism, where a Tiffany box carries the fatal dose. A promise had been made after all. What also struck me was a remark towards the end of the novel that a nurse makes to Cath. She says that through it all, he never forgot her.

Questions that we asked ourselves at home were; could you kill me if you needed to do it?... Is that something (I) could even contemplate?... How would you do it?. ... Yes, if it was me with Alzheimers I would want you to...I don't want to end up that way.
As when most topics of a serious nature are discussed, an element of humour often becomes part of it. We began to joke about whether or not we would do it within our everyday conversations. I'm making this seem morbid, but to illustrate what I mean, one conversation rang along these lines....
RTJ: I can't do it.
RRJ: What do you mean you can't do it. I'd do it if it was you.
RTJ: What?
RRJ: I'd kill you if you wanted me to.
RTJ: No! I don't mean that! I was talking about taking the dog's out for a walk!
So, as you can see, these innocuous remarks became part of our dialogue for some weeks.

Towards the end of the book, I had an appointment at the hairdressers, and before hand I stopped off at a cafe for a quick coffee. I began reading and found myself up to the bit where she decided to keep her promise and find a way for a humane and gentle death. There I sat, coffee in front of me, book in hand and tears in my eyes. I'm sure the guy making sandwiches noticed and was wondering what I was so upset about. To try and hold my tears at bay, I took my mobile phone out and sent a message to Richard saying, "She killed him". This was on a Saturday.
The next Monday, I sat in my night time lecture, the subject being New Media. The week's topic was on Privacy, and the lecturer was telling us that SMS messages stay on a server for approximately three months. Also, certain messages were tagged. So I sat there, listening to this, thinking of the message I'd sent to my husband. Did that mean I had been tagged? Could I potentially be viewed as some sort of (dare I say it), criminal?
I don't think I would normally have picked up a book like Moral Hazard. I would read the blurb and deem it too depressing. Sometimes it's good to be given set reading. I find it broadens my horizons somewhat.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Just another day.....

Last week one of my dogs was diagnosed with epilepsy. I have two dogs. One is a Jack Russell named Kaz and the other is a cross Maltese named Nelson. Nelson now has to have medicine, half a tablet in the morning and half a tablet in the night. For the rest of his life.
I've also started intermediate swimming lessons. When I was little I did the dancing lessons and my brother did swimming. I had my second lesson last night. To top things off even further, our hot water heater is having problems. It seems to only work when it wants to. So, after my swimming lesson, in need of a very hot shower, I found that this was impossible. Had to re-light it three times before it finally got the message!! So, consequently I had to wait until this morning to have a shower and wash all the chlorine off me. Was not good, I can tell you.
Next week second semester begins for me at Uni. It's been a good mid-year break. I've done lots of reading, relaxing and I even managed to get to the gym a few times. I involved myself in some adventure games. Some call this interactive fiction. I love these games. My favourite games so far have been the Gabriel Knight series.
These holidays I played three games. The first was Postmortem, then Syberia followed by Syberia 2. I was meant to start another game called Still Life, but I've had problems loading it.
It keeps on giving me the message "cannot create renderer". Do any of you computer savvy people know what this means? Basically the game hasn't played any of the cinematics (which are the best bits). So the game just went straight to the interface where I could manipulate the main character. Anyhow, I've decided to wait until next holidays before I tackle all the computer problems. Also, because the game is only a few months old there may be some patches that will be released that may fix the problem. By the way, my computer is brand new from the beginning of this year, and I seemed to have the most recent releases of all the graphic devices etc.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

How I heard the words "will you marry me"

My husband secretly loves it when I tell this story about how he proposed. It's because he went to so much trouble. Well, I was thinking, what better way to tell the story than on my blog.

As most of you probably know, February 14 is Valentine's day. Each year my husband Richard and I take turns to organise something to celebrate. We have been doing this for many years, well before we were married. In 1998, it was his turn.
So out to dinner at a flash restaurant, enjoying some great food, wine and sparkling conversation.

However, before this, I was informed we were firstly making a stop. It had been decided that we would be enjoying the Melbourne institution that is Luna Park. For those who do not know, Luna Park is an amusement park that's a St Kilda Icon, located on the foreshore. It's the sort of place where you probably would have spent at least one children's birthday.
I verbally protested going here, because it felt a little silly. I remember it as a place for children. I thought it would be really awkward going there, two grown adults. But, it was insisted upon, so to Luna Park we went.

Richard propelled towards the 'Big Dipper' rollercoaster. I hate rollercoasters with a vengeance. I could think of nothing worse. However, yet again I was told everything would be ok, so I just went with the flow. It was funny how small the train was. The seats were just these tiny wooden slats almost. Everything really is so much bigger when you're a kid.

So, the ride begins. Up, up we go. And up some more. I'm not the best with heights. There I was, hanging on for dear life. Trying to control my breathing. Trying to relax. We got to the very top, and the ride stops. I begin to hear people saying, "what's happening." "Why have we stopped?" Then Richard stands up and is literally tottering over me. "What are you doing?" I hissed at him. "Sit down." How embarrassing!
"I have something to ask you." He tells me. "Will you marry me?" And there before my eyes, is a stunning diamond ring.

Now apparently I said something to the effect of "are you serious?" in answer. At this point, I would like to defend myself by saying this was my way of getting a brief reprieve, allowing myself to catch my breath, so to speak. And apparently, he even had to prompt me by asking, "well???" This just goes to show how much in a daze I was by it all. The answer of course was "yes!" But then, the ride began.

There I was. Hanging on for dear life. Clutching the handrail, knuckles white, ring on my finger. Have you ever tried admiring an engagement ring whilst trying to hold on to something for fear of falling off? It was exhilarating, stomach churning, and yes, even I have to admit, fun.

After Luna Park, we began to walk in the direction of the flash restaurant for our dinner. We walked for about five minutes, but unfortunately we had turned the wrong way. We should have gone right instead of left when we had left the amusement park. After walking for another few minutes, I began saying things like, "maybe we should ask someone." This was always answered with, "it'll be right." After another few minutes, Richard suddenly stopped and said, "I'll just go over and ask him." I looked about me. I couldn't see anyone to ask. Then I watched with horror as Richard strode over to ask a Limo. driver. "You can't ask him!" I squeaked after him in vain. Richard said a few words to the driver and then turned to me and said, "Come on, the Limo. will take us". Simulataneously my jaw and the penny dropped.

I would like to interrupt at this juncture, to advise my readers that through the course of this night my thinking was not of the brightest. I'm sure that all of you who first read the word 'Limo'. knew what was to come. Again, my only defence was that I was in a daze!

The Limousine meandered through the streets of Melbourne for about an hour. My memory of this ride is of my own voice babbling away and us drinking champagne. Eventually we were driven down St Kilda road. Out of habit, I began to look for a restaurant I always admire, saying "I want to go there one day". This, I am happy to say, was the only thing during the evening that I guessed correctly. Richard had indeed made a booking at a beautiful Colonial type building, a restaurant called The Willows.
Dinner, I think, was lovely. All a bit of a bubbly blur I'm afraid.

After dinner, we strolled through a warm summer night to the car. Richard had parked on the street that his Aunt and Uncle lived on, as it was close to the amusement park and he obviously knew about the Limo. I think I was literally walking on clouds! On and on I went, I was going to go home and tell my mum, my dad, my grandparents, my brother, indeed everyone needed to be told! I was going to ring everyone and wake them up and shout out my good news.

After a time, we came upon a hotel. Richard told me that he had to go in to visit the mens, of all things! So, in we went, and yes, you guessed it. He had made plans for us to stay the night. It was a perfect end to a perfect evening. The only thing was, I had to contain myself, and let everyone know my good news the next day. :)

Girls with curves

They say you have a mental picture of how you look. This often differs from how you actually look. Often you are abruptly reminded. This happens when you suddenly catch sight of your reflection. Or, you are in a shop, you decide to try on those pants that look great on the hanger. You take said pants to the change rooms, and come away horrified, eyes downcast, no conversation with any salespeople please! and you hurriedly slink away. Sometimes things only look good on a clothes hanger.

This Saturday I have a formal party to go to. A friend is celebrating her thirtieth birthday. The invitation specified, formal attire in the colours of red, black, white or combination of. I got excited when receiving this invitation. You see, in 1998, my engagement dress was a gorgeous deep cherry red satin gown. I'm always looking for excuses to wear it. This would have been its fifth outing. A small voice told me that I should try on my red dress and not wait until the day of the party. This is when you should have left half an hour ago, and you're swinging clothes across the room because they just look positively disgusting on you all of a sudden. For once I obeyed the small voice and tried on my glamorous gown. As I stood in front of my mirror (full length!) the small voice in my head became a wail of anguish. You see, for about a year now, I have had a very different mental picture of myself. One that is two sizes smaller. I didn't even try the zip. :(

So, Saturday night, I will adorn myself in my habitual black - because it's allowed - and hope it covers all the multitude of sins I seem to have somehow gained. On the bright side I did begin intermediate swimming lessons last night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The People-Meter

This comes from various conversations I have had with friends. Allow me to explain. A people-meter is what you use, on a scale of one to ten, when meeting a person for the first time. It has been decided that there are three categories within the people-meter. When you rate a person beginning from zero, and depending on what they turn out to be like, they will rise accordingly, this is dubbed as the Pessimistic-People-Meter. Those who begin and five, and will rate either way depending, fall in the Indifferent-People-Meter category. The final category is when you begin at ten and a person either remains there, or may fall a notch or two, or if they are really painful even further. This is the Optimistic-People-Meter.

I am in the Optimistc-People-Meter category. When I meet someone they always begin at ten. It is rare for a person to fall below five for me. However, there are some instances where this has indeed occurred. There is even one individual who does not even rate at zero, falling into sub-zero numbers.....

So this is me trying to find out if anyone out there agrees with this people-meter scale? If so, what category do you fall into?

I also want to point out that the People-Meter is generally used at the beginning and not with those you have known for a long time. Although, as relationships can and do change over time, a person may, from time to time, check on their people-meter designating a new number even.

academic woes

I'm trying to get out of a compulsory subject in my arts degree. It's statistics of all things! I'm majoring in literature with a minor in both media and sociology. I do not have a mathematical brain and I'm not doing psychology. I rang the university today to see if I can somehow be exempt or do another subject in lieu of it. Big answer was no. No offence to Admin. people, but I asked if I could speak to somebody else about it. So off she went to check. She came back saying to write a letter to the Faculty Academic Committee, and then in the same breath added that no one has ever been successful. Well I have to give it a try, so I've just finished madly typing it and have just posted it off. I hope I get out of it. I really, really do not want to do statistics. Just thinking of having to sit through a subject like that makes me feel like all blood circulation has stopped before hitting my brain. I've even checked to see if the subject is offered during the summer, so that even if I have to do it, I can do it on its own, therefore use all my powers of concentration. The subject being offered in summer is dependent on the fail rate. I'm feeling quite miserable at present just thinking about doing this boring subject. :(

Monday, July 11, 2005

My troubles with eBay

I recently discovered eBay. I went on to try and buy some Adventure Games. Some may call these games interactive fiction. I bid on a few different titles and didn't get anywhere. Consequently I thought it would be more productive to bid on a couple of items with the same title. Big mistake.
I bid on two copies of the game Syberia and one copy of the game Syberia 2.
I won all three.
I dealt with the first problem (Syberia), by contacting one of the sellers and asking him if I could exchange Syberia to Syberia 2. He agreed. I paid and was waiting for item to come in the post. After about a week I received an email from the seller asking for a further $11.95. I questioned this, but he said it was because he didn't realise the price differentiation between the two games. He also said he had already posted it out to me. Feeling that I should do the right thing, I paid the extra money.

I still had problem two to take care of. I now had two copies of Syberia 2. In fact, the swapped game arrived in the post and precisely at the same time of its arrival, the other game literally had a few hours left of auction. I remember logging on every twenty minutes or so to see if someone had outbid me. To make matters worse somebody was fifty cents short from my top bid. Fifty cents!! I even considered sending this person an email, but contacting them was proving to be difficult. I madly sent out some emails to people that I thought may be interested in buying this game from me, if I was successful. Indeed, I was the successful bidder. Luckily for me a friend emailed me back and said he would buy the extra game from me.

You would think at this point I would have learned my lesson? Another game caught my eye. This was a brand new one. Released only a few months ago called Still Life. I happily bid on it, knowing it was well below retail price. After the ten days I received an email saying I was successful. I had actually forgotten I'd bid on it, until the email. Upon closer inspection, I saw the game was coming from Russia to Australia. It did also say that I would be able to install the English version. It has since arrived, but I'm having problems getting the game to run. My husband is convinced it is because it is from Russia. I think it just could be the game itself. Anyway, I am still trying to solve this one.

My final problem was when I received an email the other day, from eBay, saying I had not paid the seller for the first game!! This was the same seller who asked for the extra $11.95, and already posted it out. I could have ignored that additional request all together if I had wanted to. In fact, after I sent the extra amount he sent me an email thanking me for my honesty! And then to be accused of not paying at all. Steam was erupting from my ears I can tell you. I madly typed a response to eBay and one to the seller asking what was going on. I had receipts as well, which was good. eBay responded the next day saying seller had retracted his no-payment accusation. But I didn't even get an apology from him.
I'm feeling quite jaded from my eBay experience.
You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Mediamakers (short story)

I was inside a bungalow. One of the shutters on the window was open a little, allowing a glimpse of green foliage outside. I heard rustling amongst the trees and through the opening my eyes locked with two others, a curious monkey. I was standing in a tropical hideaway, a bungalow nestled amidst a jungle with the sounds only exotic bird life can make. The bungalow had a balcony and on a sunlounge lay a woman, clad in a revealing pink bikini. She was reading, oblivious to any other presence. In front, a short distance away was a beach, providing a vista of paradise. Private and secluded. Perfect.
I looked at this woman, and as I watched her, emotion washed over me: Jealousy, envy, disgust and animalistic anger. This creature, lying their flexing her long legs had stolen the man I was to marry and had married him herself. I knew he was away at the main house, arranging for a hire car that would take them both sightseeing tomorrow. I pictured them driving, his arm flung carelessly over her shoulders, she leaning into him smiling. This was supposed to be my honeymoon, not hers. I felt bile rise at the back of my throat and reached into the purse I was clutching, feeling my fingers close upon the cold handle of a knife. I felt myself succumb to rage.

With a sigh I flicked the switch that allowed the room’s screens to pause and dim. The bungalow in the tropics faded into the background. I could hear an incessant beep and knew I had to answer it, as it hadn’t stopped for the last two minutes. I had a fair idea who it was.
“Hello” I answered.
“Trevor?” I was right. The voice I could hear in my mind was Angus. “Listen Trevor, have you voted yet?”
“Just about to mate. I’m watching it now.” My eyes flicked up, and my screen room showed the curled lip and anguish upon Conzuela Kleinrock’s face as she is about to do murder.
“Look, before you do, can you meet me at Murphy’s?”
I sighed. Angus was a Justice Activist and for weeks now had been trying to get me on board for his cause. Really I was just a sympathetic ear.
“Murphy’s for real then,” I told him. “I’ll meet you in about twenty.” As Angus switched off, the red light in my peripheral vision did too.

Murphy’s was on Lennox Street. Traffic swelled past me and the hum of aerated engines filled the air. The streets were a blaze of neon, advertising life. I’d decided to switch off. Not exactly legal, but you could get away with an hour or so each day. This was because of the health nuts. They claimed that being switched on whilst working out made exercise pointless because of the constant interruptions.
I saw Angus in the corner, seated on a leather armchair. He raised his hand when he saw me.
“Thanks for meeting me Trev. Good idea Murphy’s Real, not too many people about. I bet that if we had paid the entry fee to go virtual the placed would be noisy, standing room only.”
I looked down at the table to see the drink options in front of me. Quickly finding my favourite, whisky and dry, I pushed a button and entered my code to pay.
“What part did you get up to in the murder?” Angus asked.
“Only the beginning. She was about to do the deed,” I said.
“I don’t like what the Mediamakers have done with this case. I know for a fact that additions have been made.”
This made me sit up. “What do you mean?”
Angus lowered his voice. “I’ve been contacted by a Mediamaker. They know all about the Justice Cause, and whoever it is, reckons they can give me some information. According to them it’s enough to make your head spin.”
My drink arrived and I slowly took a sip. Angus was on a mission to save the world’s justice system. He wanted to go back to the old claptrap of judge and jury. He was especially passionate because some ancestor of his hundreds of years ago was a high court judge or something.
“I can’t stand this! What’s our world become? I was going through some of Judge Baker’s journals the other day. You know, his emails and stuff…”
“Emails!” I interjected. “You’re talking dark ages Angus. Whose going to want to go back to all that?”
“I don’t mean the technology.” Angus hastily corrected this assumption. “I’m talking about the ideals. Where learned men and women are making the decisions.”
I shook my head at him. “It’s not going to work. You’re also talking about a time when crime was rife. It happened everyday. Everyday Angus. Can you imagine reading and watching about murder everyday? It’s been five years since our last murder and that’s only because this Kleinrock woman was half outta her mind. No body puts a foot wrong anymore. They know what the outcome will be.”
“But that’s exactly what I mean. Global voting to decide guilt and what punishment will be? And do you know how it all started? According to these Baker journals, it’s from a concept called Reality TV. This all comes from a Mediamaker’s mind! It’s just wrong.” Angus had set his face into hard lines of stubbornness.
“Well I don’t know what’s wrong about it. It’s what the world thinks. If eighty-five percent or more vote she’s guilty, then that’s it. She’s dead.”
“But don’t you see. Where’s all the evidence coming from? I’m not talking about all the re-enactment bullshit we use to vote on, I’m talking about real evidence. Forensic, not hearsay.”
“Forensic?” I asked. This was something new.
“Yes, it’s medical, to do with the body. DNA. Not when some Corporation thinks that this is how it happened, but the real truth.”
“I don’t get it.” I replied.
Angus was obviously switched on. I could tell by the way his body had suddenly frozen, that he was listening to a message. He looked at me apologetically. “Do you mind? I was waiting to hear from this Mediamaker”.
I nodded for him to go ahead and sipped my drink as I watched him. Angus’s body language was showing things weren’t good. After a few minutes he slowly shook his head and ordered another drink. I noticed he pushed for a double scotch, straight.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said dejectedly. “He reckons someone’s gonna get to me. That he’s putting himself in danger.”
“Well,” I shrugged my shoulders to show the helplessness of the situation. “Look, I’d better go. Voting deadline is tomorrow midnight and I still have to watch the murder and listen to the evidence.” Angus sighed at my words and looked despondent as I left.

As I walked back I switched on to check for any messages. Nothing as yet. At home I sat in my screen room and watched the murder take place. I could feel Conzuela’s emotions, how she felt by her betrayal and her anger at this. The Mediamakers had done a good job. I really felt as if I was there. It wasn’t looking good for Conzuela. Without a doubt she did it, and unfortunately for her we live in a society that didn’t condone murder. I settled back to watch the statements. Vitriolic hatred from the husband and mother of the dead woman and a plea from Kleinrock herself. I hadn’t seen a murderer in five years so I watched her closely. She looked pretty normal to me, wearing a blue navy suit, her voice soft and sad. The final moments were of the funeral and a montage of the murdered woman’s life. Anita, my sometimes girlfriend had said, this had her reaching for the tissues. It was emotional and it’s easy to feel as though it’s happening to you. A screen room does that.
A red light blinked on. This had to be what I was waiting for. I grinned as I read the message and pushed a button on the desk. The machine by my side made a whoosh sound and a cheque fluttered out with the embossed markings of Mediamaker Corporation. I thought back to Angus, feeling a little sorry for him. His informant was right, he had been got to. Only Angus didn’t know that it was by me. The money was too good to refuse, and I knew that convincing Angus to let go of his cause would take a bit of time. I hoped to stretch it out for as long as possible.I sat for a few minutes more, thinking about the Kleinrock case. I worked through the information that had been shown to me, came to a decision, and nodded to myself as I put my vote through.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Are you a Buffy fan???

I admit to being a major Buffy fan. In fact, I am surprised at myself that I have not blogged about Buffy as yet. Last week the Buffy convention was in Melbourne, and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) and James Marsters (Spike) were in town. I did not go. Yes, me, a self-confessed Buffy fan, did not attend. I also admit to my reasons not being very good. I didn't get around to buying the tickets. I did have one person to go with - but did not get my act together to organise it. I had even received an email, from said person, about the convention, but did not do anything about it. Does this now mean I am not a true fan? Some, I am sure, would say yes.
I own the whole series on DVD. It took me two Christmases and one birthday of specific instructions to family members, telling them, that if they were purchasing gifts for me, this is the particular season I was wanting.
Watching an episode of Buffy gives me a 'feel-good' feeling. Last semester, one of my subjects was Popular Culture, and we needed to choose one Pop. Culture example for an oral talk. I chose Buffy. And got a good mark too, I might add.
Researching Buffy was very interesting. I decided to focus on Feminism (of course!), Frankfurt theories, Postmodernism and Ideological Hegemony. I found quite a bit of academic literature. I was thrilled to have a reason to download all these articles on Buffy.
One of my DVD's even had an added extra, of the producers talking about Buffy as "pop culture 101". This was very interesting. Joss Whedon set out to make Buffy a Pop culture icon. Part of my talk was examining this notion. I came to the conclusion, that Whedon had made a success of this.
Even though the series has now ended. Buffy websites still get an enormous amount of traffic.
Sometimes I think about sending Joss Whedon an email, to tell him to make some stand alone Buffy movies. I think that with the way he ended the series - there are definite possibilities. I think Vampire Slayers can make it big in the box office.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Saturday, July 02, 2005

writer's angst

So what, exactly, is holding you back? These words have been rolling around my head for a few days now. I know I want to write, but I don't know what to write. I like to read many different genre's, so I seem to think about writing in a similar vein. That is, should I write fantasy, romance, a mystery, a great literary epic, something historical, write about my travels, or Children's fiction even? Ocassionally I have an inspirational idea. I begin, and then begin to flounder. I'm putting all this down as a combination of writer's angst and procrastination. No, I really shouldn't forget all the distractions either. I must confess at this point, my love for TV. There's another show beginning soon. Even my study time revolves around TV breaks during the day. They are of course valid breaks. Here is a break down of one of my study days:
9.30am - gym
11.00am - begin studying
1.00pm - break for lunch. This is accompanied by today's episode of Days of our lives
2.00pm - do dishes and clean kitchen. This is accompanied by today's episode of Young and the Restless.
3.30pm - study some more.
4.30pm - break for Bold and the Beautiful.
5.00 - Depending on what I am making start dinner and do some more studying.
6.30pm - finish studying for the day. Dinner time. Watch Neighbours.
Sometimes I may continue studying if I have a major essay due. However, as you can see, I'm a soap addict. I validate this addiction by using them as my breaks from studying.
Sometimes I try to treat a writing day this way also. This does not work. I would also like to point out that I do not have study days everyday of the week. These days may occur only once or twice a fortnight, as I also have to attend lectures and tutorials and on other days I work. So another validating reason is my catch up on all the daily soaps.
But this is supposed to be about writer's angst, and I have been distracted by telling you of my study habits. Maybe that's it. I need to focus more. I heard recently that Hemingway wrote at least thirty words each day. He said it was best to have a blunt instrument - or words to that effect. Perhaps this is the answer. Write something (no matter what) each day. It doesn't have to be much, or even brilliant.
Well It's lunch time now, and I'm tired, and there's a TV show that I want to watch that's about to begin. So that's enough writing for now.
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