Friday, September 28, 2007

Show eve, the longest night

There’s a crater-hole most adults in Melbourne would have felt earlier this week, even if unconsciously. Since the Kennett government abolished the Show Day public holiday (the Wednesday before the last Saturday in September) circa 1993, on the explicit ground that this public holiday cost employers X-million dollars and so its cancellation was a no-brainer, Show Day has been surprisingly quickly forgotten by the mainstream media.

Wednesday’s (i.e. the day formerly known as Show Day) IR rally in Melbourne was a case in point. I didn’t see a media skerrick about the day’s significance in the quite recent past.

I miss Show Day, needless to say. But not half as much as I miss Show Eve.

Tuesday nights in the 80s and early 90s (and maybe much longer before?) were Melbourne’s best night for going out (for me, that meant bands at POW and clubbing at Chevron, stuff cheap movies). Show Eve was naturally an annual Tuesday night among Tuesday nights. No wonder it had to die, under the sword of economic fundamentalism.

On the ghost of Show Day, you can help yourself to some extent. Take the day off – just don’t call it a strike. And probably best not to mention out loud the day’s significance, either.

On the ghost of Show Eve, however, you’ll be battling with every daemon and every memory. This Show Eve, a friend took the night off, forever.

In memory of Jen McComb, 1964-2007.

Update 30 September 2007

A ghost upon a ghost . . . As Anthony correctly points out in the comments, the day formerly known as Show Day was a Thursday. I acknowledge my mis-rememberance, but for obvious reasons, I'm sticking to it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mr G goes too far?

I’m a long-time fan of Chris Lilley’s “Mr G” character, currently being seen on ABC TV’s “Summer Heights High”. From his troubled birth, during which Lilley, as Mr G, visibly “died” on stage during the 2000 “Raw Comedy” national final, Mr G has blossomed into what I’d call the quintessential gay (male) Xer. He has talents (actual or otherwise) way in excess of his narrow job requirements, but lacks an after-hours outlet for these. He therefore throws everything into his job.

In my view, this is a defensible decision, given the demographics of real-world public schools, as accurately reproduced in the “Summer Heights High” staff-room. A boomer-dominated teaching force would by instinct do the very opposite of Mr G when it came to school drama departments; i.e. throw nothing into their jobs, and instead devote as much as possible of their remaining working lives to poisoning the lives of younger generations, by staying in tenured jobs way after they had lost their “spark” (a very effective double-poison, working on both their students and their Xer (= largely untenured) “colleagues”).

In the last three eps of “Summer Heights High”, however, Mr G has got power, of boomer proportions. I’m not saying this never happens to Xers in the real-world; just that such a plot development requires a major re-think of the Mr G character. It’s one thing to be a bitter and frustrated second banana, another to be a simple megalomaniac. The latter lacks boundaries, not to mention real-world credibility.

Watching Wednesday’s (19/9) ep, I thought that Mr G was improbably cruel, per the “Annabel Dickson” character, aka the “slut” Year 11 schoolgirl who had died of an ecstasy overdose. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of bad-taste, and Mr G’s seeing the death as a chance for some me-me-me publicity was just the right stretch. “Slut” was off, though. Having Mr G instead choreograph his students in some dubious and overblown interpretation of the teen party lifestyle as a B-A-D thing would have been much more appropriate, in two senses. There’s funny “wrong” and there’s just wrong wrong. Ditto for believable characters.

What I thought was most off about the “Annabel Dickson” character was not the s-word, but her similarities to Anna Wood, a Sydney schoolgirl who famously died of an ecstasy overdose in 1995. Picking up today’s MX (a free Melbourne newspaper) with a headline saying “Cruel School – ABC comedy mirrors drug death”, I thought, here we go.

But the controversy is much more bizarre than I had assumed. It’s not Anna Wood’s family who’s taken (primary) offence, but that of Annabel Catt, a Sydney schoolgirl who died of an ecstasy overdose on 18 February 2007, and who looked very much like “Annabel Dickson”.

“Summer Heights High” finished filming on 7 February 2007, so there’s no doubt that it is, as the ABC have described it, a “[very] unfortunate coincidence”. But there’s a lesson to be learned here, I think. Too-nasty characters generally make a M-E-S-S. Mr G would himself see any mess as simply a severe choreography deficit that only he can fix. So let’s all let Mr G fix himself now, please.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Xers and climate change

It’s hard to get too excited about today’s media coverage of a Climate Institute report that apparently proves actuarially that Xers, due to retire in the 2020s, will have their superannuation savings hit when the climate change crunch comes in that decade. That’s even despite my sitting in the actuarial bulls-eye itself – among Xers (who according to the Climate Institute are now aged between 36 and 46 (I say 30-ish to 45-and-a-quarter), present-day 42 and 43-year-olds (i.e. born 1964) will be particularly hard hit.

Any Xer has known since the early 90s that superannuation has been deliberately skewed against them. That’s when preservation ages were set at 55 for those born before 1 July 1960 and 60 for those born after 30 June 1964, with a taper for those in between. Last year, the median date of this taper – 30 June/1 July1962 – became enshrined as the definitive Xer vs boomer landmark, and litmus test. As long as you’re born before this Rubicon, you can plow $100k of after-tax money into superannuation for at least one year. If you’re born after it, it’s $50k, tops

In addition, climate change evangelism bores me stupid. My own carbon footprint is tiny, I imagine. Car? Can’t afford one. International plane trips? Ditto. Air-conditioning? Ditto. Boomer moron, and climate change evangelist, Clive Hamilton would presumably trumpet me as a “down-shifter”, but I am no such thing. I’m simply skint and an Xer – if that’s not a tautology.

Plus, climate change could be brought into check simply, just by rational and fair pricing. Road pigs – aka people who drive needlessly obese cars, especially 4WDs – should be taxed out of existence. As things stand, 4WDs are actually subsidised by small car owners. Ditto for air-conditioning pigs. As a light user of electricity, particularly during summer peaks, I pay year-round for their infrastructure. If you live in Melbourne and are an owner-occupier (and are basically healthy), you should not need air-conditioning, ever. A fan, plus a properly insulated and oriented dwelling will do the trick for 360 days of the year and it doesn’t kill you (unless you’ve got a medical condition) to sweat out the other five, when its 40-plus by day and doesn't get below 25 by night.

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