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I told ya don't touch that durn thing!

I recently had a chat with my brother about his homework for this week. He said he was overloaded with homework, and that he didn't like his English teacher. Since I went to the same school as he does now, I knew who the teacher in question was, and I did happen to know that while this teacher is a bit eccentric, he is very capable and a good teacher. I asked my brother what his homework was, and it turned out to be a book report/review and a handwritten letter.


Now, I don't know about you, but to me book reports are very easy. You say what's good, what's bad, and come to a conclusion. At the most basic level, you're simply telling a reader who knows nothing about the book a brief overview so that they know what the book's about. At higher levels you might go into thematic elements, symbolism, etc. But I digress. So I thought it was very easy, and gave him some Eugene-style compassion ("Take it like a man and stop whinging, it's easy"). He responded that he "wasn't me" and didn't know how to do it. I responded that I'm hardly a genius at this sort of thing, and advised him to go read a review in the paper to get some ideas about how to construct a review.
Who knows whether he took that advice to heart or not.

 

I also asked him about the specifics of the handwritten letter. It turns out it's a handwritten letter of about 250 words in length. My jaw is still dislocated from how far it dropped when I heard that. To put it into perspective, I've just went over that number with this current blog entry two sentences ago.After giving him some more Eugene-style sympathy ("You're an amateur and a fool. That's the easiest assignment in the history of mankind"), I asked him what was so difficult about that kind of task. After some coaxing, he responded that he didn't have any idea how to start a letter. I said that that's how people communicate without using the internet or instant messaging. He said that these days people rarely write each other long letter via email (To paraphrase what he said: "Hi. LOL. Bye."). While that's true that writing isn't really what it used to be, I find it mind boggling that he couldn't think about ANYTHING to write to another person about. I suggested that he pretend that I was overseas, and write to me telling me what's going on in his life. Somehow, I don't think it sunk in for him.

 

I guess some kids these days are so saturated with information that they skim over it; hearing and reading a lot of things, but ideas don't really sink into them. I wonder how it is with people my age and those slightly older. In fact, there's probably an older, grumpier version of me out there writing something similar right now. Perish the thought.


When evil triumphs

No doubt everyone's heard about the recent media debacle that is the Kyle and Jackie O show. If you haven't, the situation is that the two radio hosts sat a mother and a 14-year old on the 29th of July, hooked the daughter up to a lie detector machine and encouraged the mother to ask a series of questions, including ones asking whether the girl had had sex. It turned out that the girl had been raped at 2 years ago (when she was 12!), souring up the radio stunt and unleashing a cavalcade of disapproval and condemnation at 2dayFM and Kyle Sandilands.

Firstly, I'd like to say that it's about damn time that the show has been suspended indefinitely. Media Watch stated one year ago that the frequent shock jock stunts of the Kyle and Jackie O show were unnecessary. The show operates on a crass, immature basis and is designed to appeal to the basest, most cruel elements of human nature.

Media Watch's excellent report cleverly mentioned last week's happenings only briefly, and instead chose to point out that the show operates nearly routinely on the humiliation and exploitation of its contestants and contributors. The report notes that this is certainly not the first time that Kyle and Jackie O have chosen to torture a person live on one of Australia's largest listener bases, but it certainly is one of the most high-profile outcries against the show.

However, while there is little defense for Kyle and Jackie O, let's first look at the facts, since there are a number of parties who are, at differing stages, at fault for allowing this to happen. Firstly, the mother agreed to let her child to be hooked up to the lie detector, and even agreed to let her child be subjected to a battery of invasive and inappropriate questions regarding her sexual activity. While plenty of blame can be thrown at the two radio hosts for arranging such a horrid interview, let's spare a thought for the stupid parent who neglected to protect their child from such verbal abuse.

Secondly, 2dayFM has one of the largest listener bases in the country. While I realise that they have other shows on at other times, surely the popularity of their breakfast show contributes a large number to that listener base. While I wouldn't go so far as to accuse them of turning a blind eye to Kyle and Jackie O's weekly antics, it's not unreasonable to believe that the studio would want the show to continue as long as they don't push too many buttons. Perhaps that's something that's even worse; a studio allowing a show based on deception and humiliation to generate listeners and adverstising revenue.

Thirdly, I think it's good that ACMA (the Australian communications and media watchdog) has considered to launch an investigation of 2dayFM. It's very rare indeed that ACMA would even threaten to do so (as it has very severe implications, worse of all the station losing its right to broadcast), but why has it taken so long for them to act? The Kyle and Jackie O show have surely been in breach of the commercial radio code's of practice for years now:

All program content must meet contemporary standards of decency, having regard to the likely characteristics of the audience of the licensee's service.

— The Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice and Guidelines

I must stress that while the show has done many things wrong, it's also us as society who tune into shows like these that also support them. We buy into these media, and it's us who stand by and watch people be degraded unwillingly on radio and television.

It is times like these that I feel more strongly than ever that Australia and indeed the world needs a media source that is wholesome and based on God's love for its readers/listeners/viewers. It makes me glad that Audrey and I are working on a project for a girl's magazine that tells encourages them that there are ways to assert yourself other than appearing for a 5-minute's-of-fame stunt that involves sickening and gratuitous abuse of sex, genitals and crude humour. I really hope that one day we'll be in a world that has clean, wholesome media that doesn't need to use content such as this to get their point across.

For now, I take comfort in the fact that I am working on a project that will push back the torrent of darkness, and that someone out there gives a damn about the media that we're flooded with day after day; someone who looks and analyses at the real issues rather than sensationalising the story and simply retelling it.


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

-Edmund Burke

 

EDIT: By the way, I just noticed that this blog is rather hard to read with the old style. After seeing a few of Xandra's blogs, I think it's time for a lighter feel to the blog.

Excitement? Sometimes I'm up and down

I had a meeting last Friday re: the future of Christian Youth Radio (CYR), and the good news is that we're planning something big. A lot of things will need to take shape before our very tentative launch in December this year. A lot of things could go wrong, but the potential for it to work is also undeniable. I'm very happy to be part of it, even if I don't show my excitement all the time. In fact, just writing about it is making me excited about the things we might be able to do. I'll be meeting with Audrey sometime this week to pray about it and make a new podcast in the meantime, since we're not on the air at SYN for the next 3 months or so.

SYN has been rather good for us. I sense that it's starting to become a bit tedious for some of our team, and the excitement has certainly died down for many of us (myself included). The problem is that we're often on our own show, with little interaction between the rest of the team. I tried to rectify this earlier in the year by trying to panel for all of the presenters at least once every two months, but my other church commitments tended to conflict with my other commitments. I decided to put my time into CYR, and to take a break from worship ministry at my church. It seems that at least for the next 3 months, I think that's where I'll stay. It pains me to say that I can't be part of worship ministry at the moment, but I think for what we're planning I need to focus my energy there.

Maintaining the morale of a team is definitely something that I have had no experience in, and I understand now that how excited people are directly affects something like our pokey little 1-hour radio show. I hope that when Audrey and I have got something more concrete to present back to our other presenters that we can regain the momentum that we used to have.

Perhaps I've grown up a bit since last year in that sense too...thinking about how others feel, and at least trying to plan for the future. I wonder how people do it sometimes...yesterday and today I was trying to juggle plans about the day and plans for my future (this new thing, study, Centrelink arrangements etc.) and sometimes I found I couldn't concentrate until I put things aside and planned to plan later. It's not that I'm disorganised, but I've always found planning for the far future difficult to do. I know it's a common problem, but still...

Wonder how this will affect CYR's future? Hahahaha.

I don't find women very funny

I don't know why it is, but I don't find women very funny.

I'm not being sexist. But genuinely, I don't find myself rolling on the floor at anything any female has ever said or done. Let me give you an example. Watching my Thank God You're Here boxset, comedians and radio hosts such as Rebel Wilson, Fifi Box, Julia Zemiro...none of them tickle my funny bone. The only possible way that they can do so is by resorting to the lowest common denominator and using a sexual joke. That's not to say that I don't appreciate these kinds of jokes. Male comedians use them all the time, and I usually find them funny!

Maybe it's because I can relate to males more. They can usually appeal to stereotypical traits of the male gender, such as laziness, slackness, general idiocy or perhaps they can more easily perform physical jokes because of these above characteristics. Or maybe it's the complete opposite, and I have trouble relating to females. Either way, I usually skip over or listen less hard when female comedians appear on TGYH.

Do you think there's something wrong with me?

Zzzz

Wow, a lot of time has passed since my last blog entry. I guess a lot has changed since the last one I did, I'm due to graduate this month, and am looking forward to some further studies in a different field. 


But one thing that hasn't changed is my love of movies. I recently watched John Woo's action epic Hardboiled, which features Chow Yun Fat as  the Hong Kong ass-kicking heavy-duty supercop Tequila. Like most of Woo's movies, it's a complete action fest with some of the best choreography and general chaotic insanity that you'd expect out of an old school action film. Definitely worth watching.

 

I also watched what could be the last Futurama-related show that the world will ever see; the 4th and final straight-to-dvd movie Into the Wild Green Yonder. Some people dislike the series since they started creating the 4 feature length movies. To an extent I agree, the slapstick and completely oddball humour always worked in the series, but somehow lost something when the plot was extended in a feature length film. In any case, the series hasn't lost the quirkiness and tongue-in-cheek parody of modern life that has always characterised the series. The final film ties up some loose ends in terms of the romantic relationship between Leela and Fry, which means that this very may well be the last Futurama we'll ever see as nothing is planned in the future. It's a great sendoff for an underappreciated gem of a series.

 

The last one I saw recently was in the cinemas; DC Comic's Watchmen. Going completely against the trend of glitzy, glamorous superhero movies, Watchmen aims to portray superheroes as they would exist in real life, with all their psychological vices and real life consequences of their actions. Set in the 60s as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war, Rorschach, a member of a disbanded group of superheroes investigates the murder of one of its oldest members and eventually uncovers a plot that endangers the whole world. I like the very different perspectives of each hero - from Rorschach with his black and white moral absolutism to Dr. Manhattan's cold objectiveness, each character provide a different view of the world. Also interesting is the fact that none of the superheroes possess what you'd call a super power, aside from Dr. Manhattan. All the jazz about Batman being a realistic hero because he lacks any powers and has only his will and his intelligence doesn't hold a candle to these guys. In some ways, they are similar to what a much darker Batman could be, if he were not bound by certain rules and regulations he imposes upon himself. It's quite a deep movie, and one should definitely have their thinking cap on before walking into the cinema. But it's a bleak look at the world worth watching, if only to see the world from so many highly variable eyes.


What is it about the "other guy"?

Reading Wong's recent and most heartfelt blog entry, I must admit that I felt a twinge of regret and quiet jubilation that only parents must feel when their children fly the roost. My boy's grown up, I think. Even though I frequently chastise him about his incorrect use of grammar and spelling (indeed, I did so in that very entry), I do think he has improved, probably in some small part to my effect on him. He thanked Seeman, Mel and myself, in that order.

Now I'm not kicking up some minor foible, and I don't mean to look at the list as an emperical list as some kind of bizarre friend ranking system (convenient as it may be). I'm just strangely bemused by what people have to say about me. In particuar, this part that Wong wrote about me.

"chee, ah well, always around to give a funny or kick in the bum sort of quip, quick humour and simple adfice, no frills sort of thing.  my english will never be at his level, but it';s thanks to his and phil's corrects have i improved a little since year 12.  yet another important comment giver to this often rambling and ranting blog of mine."

It's strangely humbling and disheartening that people usually don't list me being a particularly loyal or trusted friend of theirs in their comments about me. I'm not angry at anyone for anything that they have or haven't said about me, because quite frankly being listed at all is a rather large testimony in itself.

Perhaps it's because that I don't project myself as a particularly warm or friendly sort of fellow. It's not personal, ladies.

Perhaps it's because I find it difficult to make friends. Again, nothing personal guys.

Or maybe it's my fascination with the other guy.

The other guy. The kind of aloof but strangely helpful wizened sage who has a large but indirect part over the story. The kind of character who might be incredibly helpful in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time not appearing for very long, or even in the actual present-tense of the story at all.

Think Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movies. He died within the first half of the movie, but indirectly influenced Luke Skywalker to become the great Sith Lord-whooping Jedi that he was in the final movie.

Or perhaps Rafiki in The Lion King. He christens Simba, and doesn't appear at all in the timespan that Simba grows into an adult. Yet it is he who faciliates the final advice that Mufasa has to enlighten Simba, and helps him along his quest to regain his rightful place at the throne.

Maybe Treebeard the Ent? He was funny in a bogan sense, and indirectly helped the main human/elf forces by cutting off Saruman's reinforcements by destroying the Uruk'hai birthing pits.

It is my utter fascination with these side characters whose presence is rarely seen, but almost always felt that perhaps drives me to be these guys. The kind of person who may barely appear in the background, but then again might just save your life when you need it the most. Am I in a constant state of readiness to help my friends? Almost certainly. But maybe they just don't know that a silent helper skulks in the background, quietly waiting and watching to see if they need assistance.

Initial GG

It was one of those nights. You know, the ones where it's cold, but crisp at the same time. When I say crisp, I mean that icicles form off your nose as you breathe seemingly warm air out of your nostils, and when your legs are so cold that they feel like some an unpowered Iron Man suit attached to your lower body. You know, the good kind of nights.

It was also one of those nights where nobody wanted to do anything, even though we were literally walking ghasts of our former selves, plagued by hunger and dreary eyed from the day's proceedings. It was this opportune moment that we decided to do absolutely nothing and watch TJ read some manga.

Mind you, it wasn't just any manga. It was some bizarre medical manga - complete with realistic drawings of the human body. Although, ironically enough, the characters were drawn in typical anime style that looked so unrealistic that it almost balanced out the scales of logic. We were talking heaving bosoms, eyes the size of dinner plates, and hair that was so gravity-defying it may as well have been controlled by David Copperfield himself. But I was assured by TJ that the medicine was totally accurate. I didn't ask how he knew that.

I was hanging out with The Composer in the other room. While I watched him work his magic, the hunger levels of TJ and The Gamer in the other room continued to drop. If they were Sims, they'd be dangerously close to being taken away by child welfare. Yes, I know that that only happens in-game to babies. Think about it.

Problem was, TJ lacked either the ability or the charisma to persuade The Gamer to go out to dinner. Precisely, he had asked him at least 27 times before I entered the room.

"Okay, let's go." The Gamer announced upon my arrival.

This caused much swearing and general pandemonium in the room for the next 5 minutes, making our eyes drearier.

So off we went. Us being us, we were feeling particularly disorganised and lazy, and somehow ended up taking 2 separate cars to good old HOLMESGLEN. From where we were, that was a mere 10 minutes away by car. The Gamer and I took one car, whilst TJ and The Composer took another.

I chose The Gamer's car because
A) I did not want to hear TJ yammer on about his medical manga any more than was absolutely necessary
B) The Gamer had clocked up countless hours in driving games and was in theory the better driver
C) The TJ is a time-travelling ninja from another world, and has little to no experience in handling our 'fire-chariots'

Anyway, regardless of the reason that we picked, the fact of the matter was that we took two cars.

We headed down the freeway, where The Gamer attempted to explain to me how quantam physics were being applied to the next level of games, and while I pretended to list and fiddled with the contents of his car's glove box. They weren't very interesting.

The Gamer was so engaged in his explanation that he did notice flames and cars banking up on the freeway exit, and suddenly had to slam on the brakes so hard that he initiated a power slide with his rubber band tires. I say rubber band because between the 4 wheels, I'd say that there was enough rubber to make a single bag of rubber bands, tops. Thankfully, his eyes lit up and he went into Danger Mode, which is a personality that resides deep in his consciousness that only emerges to save The Gamer's (and by extension, my own) life. Or his own life in-game. To him, there really is no difference.

His long hours in games such as Gran Turismo and Need For Speed had gifted him the ability to hold a slide regardless of the level of reality present, and this being real life, he managed to regain control of the vehicle and we spun out harmlessly to the side of the road.

TJ and The Composer were not so lucky.

They plowed headlong into a stationary fire-chariot, and the demon horses that powered that metallic podium came to an abrupt halt. TJ had managed to negotiate his rider-strap, but The Composer flew head-first through the front scrying glass and landed 20 metres on the side of the road.

The Gamer and I were no doctors, but we were pretty sure that The Composer had played his last note.

We ran out of the car to see The Composer's fate.

The Composer looked so serene, the mangled wreck of his former self was easily recognisable from the bloodied mess of bone and skin.

"Holy crap!" I said emphathically.

For once, The Gamer was at a loss for words.

"Call an ambulance!" I yelled, and The Gamer quickly fumbled for his phone.

After fiddling with his phone for a good minute, I yelled at him to hurry it up.

"I can't dial zero mate, the zero is to shoot in my Duke Nukem portable game. It's worn out now!" The Gamer wailed.

Seemingly on cue, TJ emerged from the flaming wreckage of his once mighty fiery stallion. He held in his hands an improvised set of metal instruments, no doubt forged from the carcass of his flame-chariot.

He ran to The Composer's fallen body and moved the instruments so quickly around his body that it seemed like he as many limbs as Goro from Mortal Kombat. In mere minutes, The Composer's body was looking well and healthy, although he remained unconscious.

I was bug-eyed. "How on earth did you do that? You don't have any modern knowledge, let alone medical training!"

TJ crossed his arms and did that anime thing that guys with glasses do. You know, reflect the light off his glasses so that you can't see his eyes.

"I've seen this before. Volume 9, chapter 389." he said matter-of-factly.