Saturday, December 31, 2016

Annus Horribilis

Annus is not quite anus but in 2016 it might as well be; it has been a butt-hole of a year in many respects (never mind that I published a book and become a stand-up comedian of sorts; my little life is of no matter).

The Queen of England famously described 1992 in this fashion, that year being the year Lady Di was killed escaping the paparazzi, a situation she was largely driven to by the Queen's son. I think there was an expensive fire in one of the palaces that year as well.

The dramatic and sudden death of Lady Di was heavy and horrible to be sure, but on a world stage it doesn't compare to the election of the one human being on the planet who is least suited and qualified to run the most powerful country in the world by a completely corrupt system and a populace that is even more sexist and racist and plain delusional dumb-ass than we had ever imagined it was, which was just one of the horrible highlights of 2016.

The violence and destruction being meted out in Europe and the Middle East by a band of bearded men who seem to think that the beard maketh the man, oh and a gun and a grenade and maybe a truck too aimed at civilians, including children at play, to cause as much bloodshed, mayhem and misery as possible wherever and whenever they feel like, has given us more hapless and horrible horror this year than almost any other.

This horror of course could not happen without the assistance of various elected and unelected, bearded and unbearded politicians, but that's the same as it ever was, if the refugee crisis it has caused this year is the worst the world has seen since WWII, or so I read in the media, which I now barely trust.

Then there was BREXIT and the arrogant and narrow minded beardless men who largely brought it about and then jumped ship for a woman, who hadn't supported it, to deal with. Good luck with that!

BLACK LIVES MATTER! That we should still have to shout this statement of the obvious from the covers of our magazines and with placards out on our streets and the worst of the whites don't and won't get it, 2016 has shown us with the gruesome cold-blooded murder of unarmed black men by armed white policemen.

Stars have fallen too in greater numbers than in most other years, or so it seems, including the mother and daughter, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher,  who died one day apart and in the wrong order.

But, to end on a note of hope, as all things must try to end even if the year itself will not, thanks in part to social media and some prominent women and men speaking out against racism and sexism, more people than ever before are learning the hard truths about our messed up world and being prepared to step up in their small and big ways to try and change it.

The wide world of art that will save us if anything will is taking the lead in this battle for real social and cultural change, employing more women than ever before to write the script and tell the real story in a way that I have never seen before, and I have been looking. Fewer stock macho heroes and excuses for men being men and the rest of us putting up with their shit have been made in 2016 than in any other year, and so, fewer stock sexy evil/passive angelic females have appeared on our screens than ever before.

There are more female comedians this year than any other, with Netflix doing much to promote them and diversity on all fronts on our screens. Chelsea, the first nighttime talk-show in the US to be hosted by a woman, is making great strides in the direction of exposing and fighting discrimination on all fronts, but especially the systemic misogyny that is perpetrated around the world by men and women. The fact that Chelsea herself more or less became a feminist while hosting this show and interviewing a range of people in the know, shows the power of the entertainment industry to challenge, or reinforce, the discrimination status quo. 2016 did more to challenge than reinforce this status quo.

Recreational cannabis was decriminalised in California, the state that overwhelmingly voted with their brains and hearts instead of their butt holes. Hopefully this decriminalisation of the peace and love drug will mean fewer non violent, mostly black and brown people are imprisoned in the US and around the world.

And finally, closer to home a woman judge in Queensland Australia has handed down an unprecedented ruling exposing the systemic racism in the Australian police force against the indigenous Aborigines and forcing compensation from the state to be paid in the hundreds of thousands to the indigenous peoples of the land to make up for some of this racism. It's a start.

And so, here we are, the last day of this Annus Horribilis with a tiny twist of hope. 2017 will probably be worse, possibly much worse on the political front (god help us), but with the arts leading the way in showing us that we can live much more fairly and equally, while still having a whale of a good time, there is a tiny twist of hope that we will survive it. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger? Maybe.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's all about George, Carrie and me

It's a strange and fairly disturbing thing, but when something bad happens to other people you know and like but don't exactly love, including their sudden and premature death, you tend to insert yourself into the event and make it at least a little bit about you. Or is it just me? No, it's not.

I know this because this is not me here with George Michael, it's a friend of mine who used to be in the music biz and met George Michael on his Australian tour and has just posted this on Facebook.

I have a George Michael story too and it's the first thing, or second thing I thought about when I found out he had died. The first thing was: 'Was he only 53; that's only three years older than me!' I was sad for him and shocked too, sort of, but these feelings were not the main ones, if I'm honest.

But me and George go way back too. I served him in London in 1985 when he was already a major superstar and I was, well, a (very young) waitress living on my wits (tits) and tips. Actually I didn't have much tit back then, but that's not the point - certainly not for him!

I have carried that story with me ever since and would give almost anything to remember what I served him. All I remember is that he was with a guy and a girl and being a little bit jealous of the girl. Silly sad Sally (I was still Sally back then; still silly now).

Similarly, when I heard that Carrie Fisher had had a heart attack on the plane back from London my first thought was: 'We've just seen her on Graham Norton!' as indeed we had and she had not seemed at all well. The boy band (can't remember who they were) on the same show had asked her if they could have a photo with her and she had agreed. When I heard the bad news I hoped that that photo and the whole stress of the show hadn't tipped her over the edge, a hope that at least shows I have some compassion.

Now that she has died from that heart attack I feel genuinely sad and a little ashamed of myself, though I am not a Star Wars fan. But she was a cool lady, even in her unwellness that much was clear, and I am sorry her heart gave out, though how it lasted at all after Harrison delivered that classic clunker 'I know' in return for her impassioned 'I love you' I do not know. I know my heart wouldn't have survived that. But it's not about me.

RIP superstars George Michael and Carrie Fisher. You will be missed (by me, as well as just a few others).      

Monday, December 26, 2016

Free range pigs

So it's Christmas day in America still but here in the southern hemisphere we're all done and and dusted with the ho, ho, ho, hip, hip hooray of guilt-free gluttony on this holiest (hungriest) of days.

Well, when I say 'guilt-free', I mean only as far as the waistline goes and only for the day. The morning after is another story, and don't we know it! I could start a chocolate shop with this year's stash.

But having not one but two vegans in the house for Christmas this year, as well as a recently turned vegan friend who came round for dinner on the 23rd, there is no guilt free eating as far as the environment and animal ethics go. Even buying free range, as I dutifully did for all my meats, including the stuffing pork that cost 60% more than the pork in a prison pen variety, will not get you off the hook. 'Free range pigs? Do you want me to tell you about free range pigs?' No, I didn't want.

According to my vegans, animals should not be eaten no matter how 'free range' the price and how much freer their lives are than ours -- when you (I) think about it. They don't have to worry about their waistlines or Donald Trump, or the cost of buying free range to ensure other animals get some kind of quality of life before they become stuffing. I should be so lucky.   

I've been trying to get my head around the whole vegan thing since the younger females of the house (and male friend) went vegan, but I can't quite manage it. It seems to me that their case against the harm to the environment and to the animals that is done by eating animals and their products logically leads to a case for eliminating farm animals altogether, not least the graceful moo cow that gives us chocolate and ice-cream. How is that fair on the pigs? I'm sure I don't know.

Now please excuse me while I head off for a chocolate brunch while I still can. Oink oink (that's wink wink in pig, a dying language).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Otherwise festive?

So you know our new (second-hand but still very shiny) car was crashed into at a stop light a few weeks back just three days after we got it and we're still driving the rental they gave us to use while the p-beaters hang on to ours two weeks and counting longer than they said it would take to fix. They think it will be ready by Christmas but they can't guarantee it. I've heard that one before.

What you don't know is that yesterday the hot water cylinder blew up just as I stepped into the shower (for my twice weekly wash) and with my mother, who likes to wash daily, arriving on the morrow. There will be seven adults staying in the house for Christmas and the power company says it's our problem. No kidding.

Last night, possibly because I hadn't had my twice weekly wash, the cat decided to pee not on me, exactly, which was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, but directly next to me on the master bed where I was lying watching Barry (review pending, once I've re-watched it without the cat pee -- hopefully). Washing the duvet and cover without hot water is going to be festive fun for my husband.

The good news is I've run out of vodka, I poured the last of it down the sink the night before the cylinder blew up and the cat drowned the duvet. Could be connected, the Russians are behind most things.

Merry Christmas, or, as the Russians say, счастливого Рождества; explains a lot.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Martian of the year

So Trump doesn't like being TIME's 'person' of the year. He wants to be 'man' of the year instead, suggesting he agrees with me that creatures like him aren't persons. 'Men' are from Mars, right? Right. Especially the orange ones. If only they'd go home.

I am surprised to find we agree on something, namely that the term 'person' does not apply to creatures like him. What the term 'man' means and should apply to we seem in slightly less agreement on.

A man, for me, should not, first of all, be orange. Let's be quite clear.

Second of all, a man should not think a woman is so different to and lesser than a man that it is an insult to a man to be included in the collective, gender-neutral term for a human being known as 'person'. That sort of thinking is SO last millennium.

TIME changed its annual award from Man of the Year to Person of the Year in 1999. Prior to that, since its inception in 1927 'Man of the Year' was awarded to a man or a group of men. So 'man' meant man, not human, as some used to wishfully suggest.

If a woman was considered worthy of the title, which happened almost never, just enough to give the impression that women are a whole different species, then the award was for 'Woman of the Year' and once for 'Women of the Year'.

But this millennium, as symbolised by the gender-neutral, politically progressive not 'correct' term 'person', we are attempting to suggest women are not a whole other species than men, neither are we 'not men', but we are human beings just like at least some men. WOW! Imagine that. Women are persons, and men (some of them) are persons too. Who knew? Not Donald.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Orange is the new white

So I can't open my blog and look at John Key ever again, even if he is waving goodbye. I'd rather look at an orange T-shirt.

Monday night I was back at the comedy club doing my funny mummy thing with a bit of Trump trolling thrown in because comedy is all he's good for.

I wondered why so many white people voted for him when he's not white. 'Orange must be the new white,' I said, suitably droll, and got the laugh.

Then I suggested we lure him down under and lose him in the orange desert. More laughs.

Mars is another option.

It was a good night. I kept to the time limit, even if I did have to run the laughs to do it.

But the trouble with stand-up, I can't help thinking, is that you're either the copy cat comic -- LOTS of those -- or the copied cat comic, and as I'm not the former I fear I am in danger of being the latter. There's so much competition in comedy these days and only so many ways to be funny. Indeed my youngest has assured me that big comedians 'borrow' off us unknowns all the time, and with impunity.

So I thought I'd post my latest gag here to make it mine while giving it for free to a much wider audience. Not to suggest you're wide; I'm sure you're quite trim. You can have that for free too.  


Monday, December 5, 2016

The Key is gone, long live Labour!

PM John Key announces he is resigning on December 12. Well that explains why he was so quick to call and congratulate Donald Trump, he knew he was on his way out.

He says there is nothing left in his tank. Tank? Is that a euphemism for his brain or for something lower down? It's hard to say with Key. He's nothing if not a master of vague declarations.

He also says his eight-year reign as king of the right-wing rich has been hard on his wife Bronagh and he wants to spend more time at home.

Home alone
I don't know what she thinks of this arrangement but if it's true to Key's political form, she had nothing to do with the decision and this is merely his way of deflecting responsibility for the resignation onto her. The few women in his cabinet were always given the shittiest jobs and made to shoulder the blame when the shit hit the fan.

I wonder if Bronagh will be at home when Key moves back. My bet is not.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Crash Conditions

So we bought a car (it was not green)

So we crashed a car four days later (the same car, still not green)

So we rented a car two days after that (it was not green)

So... we were issued with and did
not read these terms of conditions (that are a little bit green) because not having bionic eyes we could not read these terms and conditions that told us, in the finest print ever produced and reduced for purposes of never being read, what we were liable for if we crashed that car too, all the more likely because it was not green, possibly.

I can't be sure as I haven't read the terms and conditions and know nothing about green cars or any other colour car, in point of fact. But green is supposed to be the most relaxing colour. Really? Really.

But we bought a red car (the opposite of green), thinking we were already sufficiently relaxed and that because red is the colour of STOP it must be the safest colour (wrong), and because we didn't buy new so didn't have the luxury of choice. Otherwise we would definitely have bought green (possibly).

The good news is, no one was hurt in the crash and we still have our physical health.

The bad news is it wasn't our fault (my husband was driving) which, although cheaper in not invoking the insurance excess, means that as far as preventing another accident of the sort goes we are, to put it politely, fucked. The best we can do is not drive the rental car at all, though as the accident occurred while my husband was stopped at the lights (his story) and so not actually moving, even this might not be enough to prevent an accident to our rental car. You could also argue that there is no point in renting a car that you don't drive.

Meanwhile, we're paying insurance premiums on a car that's stuck at the panelbeaters with a badly broken bum that won't close no matter how hard I kick it, waiting in a pre-Christmas queue to be made secure and sufficiently road worthy to justify those premiums, hopefully before Christmas, but there are no guarantees.

Otherwise fine? NO. My mother is about to arrive from Australia, and she advised us to buy a totally different car...