Thursday, April 30, 2009

John Gorton

I have no idea who John Gorton is.

Starting out with a name I don't remember is a lot of fun. It's like an unwrapped present. I'm so excited to see what I'm going to get.

Oh! Lord Wiki says he's a Prime Minister! He's the one that came between McEwen and McMahon.

His birthday is interesting. 9 September 1911. That's a lot of nines. And when I look at the date, it makes me think of September 11.

Okay. Birthday website time!

He's a Virgo like my mom. Oh, I guess Tracey is a Virgo too. Then there's Dave. He's a Virgo...and my grandpa. It seems I have a lot of Virgos in my life. Anymore out there? Raise your hand.

This website says this about the Virgo. Virgo governs critical analysis, intellectual subtlety and service. Virgo people are inclined to be practical and industrious, yet adaptable, with a remarkable eye for detail. Tracey, you did say you notice things left on tables. That's a detail, right?

I know Virgos are also known to be very critical. My mom fits that trait quite well. I can say that because I don't think she reads my blog. But just in case she decides to read this entry...Hi Mom! I love you! It's okay if you're critical because I'm being critical about you being critical. So that makes me critical too.

Okay. I just noticed something weird. Gorton is the 19th Prime Minister. There's that nine again. Ah! I'm writing this entry in 2009. And I'm writing this entry at 9:19 in the morning. Okay, I'm actually not. But wouldn't it be eerie if I was? Would you guys get major goosebumps?

Speaking of numbers....

Gorton's numerology number is NOT 9. It's 3. That's the social number. This website says this about the 3: You are witty, possess a gift for gab and savor the limelight. I guess they would make good actors. Would they make a good Prime Minister?

You know, I don't think I know of any 3's....nor do I remember writing about any 3's. Maybe I have though and just forgot.

Well, onto more stuff about Mr. Nine.

He was born in Melbourne. Lord Wiki says he was illegitimate. I've just decided that I hate that term. What? Having a father that's married to your mother makes you more legitimate? I think I prefer the term bastard. That word has a lovely ring to it.

All right. His family stuff is confusing. I'm going to have to read this ten times to understand it.

His mom's name is Alice Sinn.

His father was John Rose Gorton. He was an orange orchardist. Yum. Oranges are what I craved during my pregnancy. They were like my crack. One day at preschool we made orange juice with the kids. I just wanted to grab all the oranges and eat them all.

Daddy Gorton and his wife Kathleen emigrated from South Africa. They broke up and Gorton got together with Alice Sinn. She died in 1920 from Tuberculosis. Gorton would have been about nine when he lost his mother.

Lord Wiki says young Gorton went to live with his father's estranged wife and his half-sister. I'm confused. What happened to Daddy Gorton. Was he there too? Or did he die as well?

I wonder how Kathleen treated Gorton. Did she resent him? Take pity on him? Love him?

If Daddy Gorton was still alive and part of the picture, how did he convince Kathleen to let him back into their lives? I'm trying to picture if Tim left me for another woman and ended up having a baby. What would I do if the woman died? I can imagine if both of them died, I'd feel obligated to take the kid. I mean if no one else was going to take the baby.....I couldn't let Jack's half sibling go to an orphanage. But if Tim was still alive, I'm not sure I'd let him back into my life. I'd perhaps send my condolences for his loss though. Maybe I'd send the child a Christmas present every so often.

Kathleen lived in Sydney so Gorton ended up going to school at Sydney Church of England Grammar School.

Lord Wiki says he also went to Geelong Grammar School. Was that after Sydney Church of England Grammar School? Did he return to Victoria? Or was that before his mother died and all that? I thought he was born in Melbourne. Oh well. Maybe he went to boarding school in Geelong.

For his university studies, Gorton went to Oxford. He studied history, politics, and economics. Well, that's a good mix for a future Prime Minister. He also took flying lessons there and got his piloting license.

His wife is American! He met her during his college years while holidaying in Spain. They got married in 1935 and took over Gorton's father's orchard. This was in Kerang Victoria. I need to look this up on the map.

 It's about three hours from Melbourne.

I'm trying to get a handle on all of this. According to Lord Wiki, Gorton was born in Melbourne. So, this must be where Alice lived. So, how was this orchard three hours away? Maybe Daddy Gorton bought it later? Maybe when Alice died, he rushed off to buy an orchard up north and sent his son to his ex-wife.

Men!

For World War II, Gorton enlisted in the Royal Australian Airforce Reserve.

In 1942, he was injured in a war plane crash. It doesn't sound too extreme. Well, I guess it was kind of bad. He injured his face. But that's better than death. And his face looks okay in Lord Wiki's photo. Well, his nose is a little crooked. He's still fairly handsome though.

Yikes. That wasn't his only scary war experience. His ship the Derrymore was attacked by the Japanese. The ship was abandoned and Gorton spent a day on a liferaft in shark infested waters. Plus, he didn't have a lot of drinking water. I'm glad he was rescued fast.

Wait! There's more.

He was in another plane crash and was lost in the bush for a few days. Then another time his plane engine failed when he was about to take off. His aircraft flipped. Gorton fortunately wasn't hurt.

Now for the political stuff.

Before the war, Gorton had been a member of the Country Party. After the war, he was elected senator for the Liberal Party. He served under Menzies and Holt. He had a lot of Minister roles: Minister for the Navy, Minister for Works, Minister for the Interior, and Minister for Education.

Minister of the Navy is now called Minister for Defense. Joel Fitzgibbon has that role now. I think I've seen his name mentioned on Twitter.

Lord Wiki says Gorton originally had extreme right-wing views, but later toned them down a bit.

When Holt mysteriously drowned, there was that whole leadership thing. McMahon was supposed to be Prime Minister. McEwen said no way. McEwen became Prime Minister with the understanding that when the Liberal Party voted in a new leader, he'd be out. I think I got that right. I hope.

Gorton took McEwen's place.

Gorton was elected in on 9 January 1968. There's that 9 again.

Lord Wiki says he's the first senator to become a Prime Minister. Really? Has their been any after him?

Gorton was popular at first.  A man of the people. Ah, that goes well with his numerology number.

He lessoned ties to the British.

He supported the Vietnam War....which began to make him drop in popularity. My parents were just in Vietnam. I've been looking at all their photographs.

He increased funding to the arts, including the film industry.

He was not a good public speaker. That probably helped his popularity sink. Also, rumors started to float about his drinking problems and experiences with women.

As Gorton became less popular, the Labor party began to be a threat. McMahon challenged his leadership. The catch was McEwen forbid the whole McMahon-as-leader thing. But then McMewen retired, and McMahon was free to become leader.

Ah! Malcolm Fraser had a fit about Gorton. He retired as Defense Mechanism. During his resignation speech, Fraser said Gorton wasn't fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister. I have to say I feel a little bad for Gorton. I mean it might be true, but still....Those are some pretty hurtful words. That's why I'd never go into politics. I'm way too sensitive.

Gorton called a Liberal Party meeting to settle the whole issue. It seems he had them vote on whether they thought he was a good leader or not. There was a tie. Gorton said that wasn't a vote of confidence and threw in the towel. McMahon became leader.

Gorton didn't walk away with his tail between his legs. He got himself the role of Deputy Prime Minster and Defense Minister. A few months later, McMahon fired him for disloyalty.

I love Holt, McMahon, McEwen, and Gorton. They're awesome. Fascinating. Fraser and Whitlam too. I love this whole time period. If I had to pinpoint my favorite Aussie history time, this might have to be it.

When Labor came into Power (Whitlam, right?), Gorton was in the Shadow Ministry. Then he resigned and became an independent. He did not like Fraser becoming Prime Minister. He passionately hated him. And he denounced the Whitlam dismisall.

Okay, now we get to his elder years.

He retired to Canberra.

He rejoined the Liberals Party.

He continued to hate Fraser.

His wife died in 1983. Ten years later he met a new wife.

He died in 2002. He was 90.

That's it for Lord Wiki.

Now onto other things....

I'm going to look at the National Archives of Australia Prime Minister Site. It has a picture. He is a bit unusual looking, but not bad. Someone did a pretty good job at fixing his face.

Okay. Now I'm getting more childhood stuff. Daddy Gorton and Alice had TWO kids. Our John was the second. This website talks about the older sister, Ruth (who Lord Wiki mentioned as a half sister). She moved off to South Africa eventually. Was she Alice's child, or Kathleen's? I'm confused. There was a rumor that Ruth died in infancy, but she didn't. I wonder how that rumor began.

The site says that Gorton was born in Prahran. It's in Melbourne and a lot of gay people live there. It's a trendy type place. At least that's what Lord Wiki says. I'm going to have to learn all these Melbourne neighborhoods. I wonder if I'll love Melbourne as much as Sydney. I'm starting to feel a little twitch in my heart. That might be become some of my favorite bloggers are from Melbourne. I can't help but fall in love with it.

At some point, Gorton's father told him he had been born in Wellington New Zealand. This is the birthplace he wrote down when applying to Oxford and RAAF. Interesting. Can you become Prime Minister if you weren't born in Australia?

Gorton spent a lot of time with his maternal grandparents. They lived in Melbourne. His parents traveled a lot on business trips. Later, when Gorton five, the family moved to Sydney.

Now I'm getting more information about what happened to Gorton after his mom died. His father did leave him with Kathleen. And I guess Ruth was their daughter. Gorton had been told she had died in infancy. But surprise! She was still alive.

Kathleen played mom to Gorton and Ruth while Daddy Gorton went off doing business things in Victoria.

When he was sixteen, Ruth and Kathleen moved to London. Gorton did boarding school at the Sydney Church of England Grammar School. I can't tell if this was before or after they left.

I need to read a whole biography about this guy. His childhood fascinates me. I want to know EVERYTHING.

Sometime after they left, Gorton moved to Victoria. He did boarding school in Geelong. He says this was the happiest of his school years. While there, he visited the homes of the unemployed in Geelong. What he saw influenced his life and carried over into his political career.

The website says in his political career he was very anti-communist. And he was a Cold War warrior. That sounds like some kind of action hero. It kind of rolls off the tongue weird though. I think they'd need to nickname him CCW. No. That doesn't sound good either....

Gorton pushed some marital law through the senate. The website says if it had passed, his parents would have been allowed to marry. I think it's about the grounds for divorce. Maybe Daddy Gorton couldn't divorce Kathleen and that's why he never married Alice. I guess Kathleen wasn't good enough as a wife, but she was good enough to raise Daddy Gorton's child.

 Am I being too judgmental?

Gorton was hard-working, but kept to his own interests in politics. He wasn't well known outside his circles. Then in October 1967 something happened that increased his popularity. Holt had some troubles involving VIP planes. There was some missing information that made the party look suspicious. Gorton found the information and saved the day. I THINK I'm getting that right.

When he was Prime Minister, some people accused Gorton of being a one man band. My dad was like that with meals when we're all at their lake house. He wanted to do all the work himself. Sometimes it's easier to do all the work rather than enlisting help from others. You lose a lot of control if you do the latter. But I think most people WANT to help. They want to be involved.

Gorton sounds like a very fun man. The website says, Political commentators and his Coalition colleagues often referred to the ‘Gorton style’. They noted his friendly and relaxed manner, his approachability, irreverence, random brusqueness and perennial candour, his tendency to speak ‘off the cuff’, to be unorthodox and unpredictable (to those who did not know him), and his careless habits of dress, the cigarette always in his hand and the jaunty grin.

He did get in trouble for his adventures with the opposite sex. He had a very late night with a female journalist that caught people's attention. Who knows what he was doing with her in the wee hours of the morning. It might have been innocent. But when a married man is with a woman that late at night, it looks suspicious. At least I think so.

He supported the Vietnam War.  But if I'm reading this correctly; he did not want to send more forces over there.

He wanted to make Australians proud of their country. He wanted to prevent overseas takeovers of natural resources.

He helped the disadvantaged, including free health care for families in need.

So he was someone I could like in that regard.

As for the Indigenous Issues. He supported assimilation. He was against land rights because he feared it would promote separatism. I think I've mentioned this before, but I support assimilation.

I don't support the type of assimilation where everyone adopts the culture of white men. No way. I like the idea of many people coming together. They maintain aspects of their original culture, but at the same time though, a general culture is shared by everyone.

The idealism of assimilation can cost lives though. I'm reading a book now about the Holocaust and Australia. A lot of Jews were rejected from Australia because certain people worried they wouldn't assimilate enough. I think there ARE Jews who don't assimilate. They live in their own special world, like the Amish. But most of us DO assimilate. It might not be always to the point if intermarriage, but we don't stick to only our kind.

My feeling is those in need should be allowed into a new country...rescued. They shouldn't be rejected because they might not assimilate. But once in the country, these rescued people should assimilate....at least a little. They can keep their language and culture. But I think they should become fluent in the language of the country they live in. And I think they should adopt part of the culture. Then in return the dominant culture should borrow from the new cultures.

That's just my personal opinion.

Of course with that in mind, I'd have to fault the First Fleet folks. They should have taken up the Aboriginal languages and culture. I guess it was impossible since there was no one dominant language. And many of the white folks did try to learn some of the language. That was good of them.

Gorton wanted to restrict immigration from outside Europe. It seems he felt Europeans would assimilate better. The sad thing about the book, I'm reading, is the Jews were often not counted as being European; even though they were born and raised in Europe. But that was a different time period....decades before Gorton was in power. I wonder what he would have done if he HAD been in power in the 1940's.

Reading the book really makes me angry at the people who are anti-Israel. The Jews were killed by the Europeans. Then the Americans and Australians would take only very small quantities. Where the hell were the Jews supposed to go?  I'm not saying I support what the Jews do to the Palestinians. They're far from perfect. But when people are against the actual state of Israel.....

Yeah, I don't know.

There's a HUGE difference between being against Israeli Policies and being against Israel's existence. I have respect for the former. I have none for the latter.

Back to Gorton. I love this quote from the website. Two views have emerged about the reasons for Gorton’s fall. One was that Gorton destroyed himself by being too much his own man. Another was that conservative Liberals brought him down because they were unable to accept necessary change, and were assisted by a virulent press campaign against the Prime Minister.

Which was it?

I wonder.....

When a lot of people are against you, it's easy to begin to think you MUST be wrong. The power of conscensous can make someone feel very small. But sometimes the lonely one is NOT the wrong one.

I'm going to go watch TV with Jack and then move onto a new website......

Here we have the National Museum of Australia kid's website.

It says here that he voted against himself when he asked the Liberals to vote whether or not they wanted him to remain as leader. You know....I think I remember reading about that when I researched McMahon. Actually, I think that's why I added Gorton to my list. I wanted to know more about this guy who voted against himself.

The website lists legislation that occurred during his Ministry. One of them was the Maritime Conversion Act of 1970. This was when Australia changed to the metric system...leaving America alone in the dark ages. Before we visited Australia in 2007, I thought it had always used the metric system. A lonely old security guard set me straight.

Now I'm going to look at the Liberal Party's Website. I'm not sure I'll find anything new and different here.

They do give the reason for McMahon firing him.  It's something about him writing stuff that McMahon felt was disloyal.

This obituary talks about how Gorton was both a Nationalist and a Centralist. He shared my love for Australia. And he believes the whole of Australia should come before the individual states.

The obituary says, in some respects, he behaved more like a reforming Labor leader than a conservative. Maybe that's why he was unpopular in the party. Later, (much later) the Liberal party embraced him, realizing he wasn't such a bad PM after all.

I like him. He's not perfect. I don't like everything about him. But if I was going to divide my research victims into people I like and people I dislike, he'd be in the smiley face category.

I know that sounded like a conclusion. But I aint ready to shut up yet.

I want to look at some blogs.

The Riot Act in Canberra says a new road is being built and it might be named after Gorton.

This blogger has a transcript of one of Gorton' speeches. It was done in 1964, and was about World War II.

He begins by saying, There has been a good deal of confusion of thought as to why we went to war, and as to what we can reasonably expect as the result of our military victory. We did not go to war to make a new and better world. We cannot expect to make a new and better world as the result of the exercise of brute military force. We can only expect to achieve the kind of world we want by the use of brains and effort during peace. We fought only to preserve, for ourselves and our children, that conception of political freedom and justice which was being attached by a tyrannous power.

I think that's very well said. It's about context though. If I imagine someone talking about Hitler and the Nazis, I like the speech. If I imagine George W. Bush saying it about the Middle East, it's a different story. Why? I don't know. In most cases, I'm against war. But sometimes, I feel there really IS no choice. The problem is we all disagree on what wars are really needed and which are not. Where do you draw the line?

The speech is mostly about the work that needs to be done during peacetime. He says,

This is why I demand of you, in the name of the dead and returned, that you do not consider this war as a tasked finished; that you do not regard this celebration as the last chapter of the book. Look on it rather as half-time! a joyful occasion certainly, but only a break in the continous task. For tomorrow we must carry on again, and the tasks which lie in front us are immense and urgent as never before. Later.....It will be hard. Without the spur and urgency of a war, it will mean a constant effort from all of us. But I am going to call on your imaginations. I want you to forget it is I who am standing here. And I want you to see instead Bob Davey. And behind him I want you to see an army; regiment on regiment of young men, dead. They say to you, "Burning in tanks and aeroplanes, drowning in submarines, shattered and broken by high explosive shells, we gave the last full measure of devotion. We bought your freedom with our lives. So take this freedom. Guard it as we have guarded it, use it as we can no longer use it, and with it as a foundation, build. Build a world in which meaness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence." If you see and hear these mean behind me - do not fail them.

That's a pretty powerful speech.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bill Heffernan

I looked at Bill Heffernan on my list and had no idea who he was. But in the entry draft itself, I found that I had written that he was not so nice to Michael Kirby. For a moment, I couldn't remember who Michael Kirby was. But that amnesia lasted for only a second. I soon remembered he's the gay man who was part of the high court. I can even picture what he looks like. And I'm often not good at remembering faces.

All right. Onto Hefferman....

Hello, Lord Wiki.

Politician Heffernan was born on 3 March 1943. This means we were in Australia for his birthday. What did we do that day?

 I think maybe it's the day we looked for our lost camera.


Heffernan is a 5 in numerology. Those folks are supposed to be about freedom. This website describes the five as: You posses the curiosity of a cat, and you long to experience all of life. You love to be involved in several things at the same time, as long as you are not tied down to any one area. This number probably wouldn't make the best spouse. Well, they might be a great spouse until they go on to find something new.

Heffernan is a Pisces. I picture them as being spiritual people, but I should learn more. There has to be more to them than that. This website says, Pisces are sensitive, humane and often idealistic. People born under this sign react emotionally to everything making them compassionate and sensitive to those around them. My sister and one of her daughters are Pisces. This description fits them quite well. I wonder if it will fit Heffernan.

My sister also shares Heffernan's numerology number. But she does NOT remind me of a 5. She's so much more like a 6.  Extremely family oriented!  Her marriage and her family are the focal point of her life. Although who knows. Maybe this commitment is a way to hide her true feelings. Maybe secretly she wants to join the circus or something. I'm trying to picture my sister on the trapeze......

All right. Back to Heffernan.

He was born in Junee New South Wales. It's south west of Sydney. It's close to Wagga Wagga. Ah! There's a chocolate and licorice factory there. Cool! And their food is organic.  Even more awesome.

Hefferman went to St. Josephs College Hunter Hill. It's a Catholic school located in Sydney. Either his family moved there, or Heffernan did the boarding school thing. I'm guessing it was the latter because next Heffernan went to Wagga Wagga Technical College. There he learned about wool stuff and welding. He returned to his birthplace and became a farmer. I think he still might be a farmer....that along with being a liberal politician.

Lord Wiki talks about his political career. Huffernan was on the Junee Shire council from 1981-1996. That's pretty long. Fifteen years. In the late 1980's and early 1990's he was president of that council. After that, he became president of NWS's Liberal Party.

In 1996, he was appointed to the senate.

Lord Wiki says Heffernan was a friend and supporter of John Howard. Why does that not surprise me.

 I'm TRYING not to be judgmental.

Two years after joining the senate, he became Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet. I have no idea what that means. Maybe I'll find out later. I'm not finding anything easily on Google.

All right. I'm at the Michael Kirby stuff now. Nine days after his birthday in 2002, Heffernan made accusations against Kirby. Ah! I remember this now! Hefferman accused Kirby of doing something.  Sexual, I think? Hefferman turned out to be wrong and Kirby very graciously forgave him.

Heffernan is an asshole.

But maybe through my research I can find the silver lining somewhere.

Lord Wiki says Heffernan made these accusations in senate using something called Parliamentary privileges. I have to read about that now because I don't know what it means.

What I'm getting at is it provides a legal way for politicians to speak freely and not worry about slander. How lovely.

Lord Wiki doesn't go into detail about what Heffernan said. He just mentions misuse of a car.

Interesting.

The accusations caused problems for Heffernan; I guess because evidence didn't back him up. His buddy Howard asked him to resign from being Parliamentary Secretary. On March 19, Heffernan withdrew his claims. He didn't resign from the Senate though; and he was re-elected in 2004.

Mark Latham got into the game. He blamed the situation on John Howard; saying Howard used Heffernan to run dirt campaigns against certain individuals. If that's so....wow! How wicked is that? He gets Hefferman to do his dirty work, then let's him take the fall and asks him to resign. That sounds like an interesting relationship....a lick-the-boots-that-kick-you kind of thing. It reminds a little bit of Jafar and Iago in Aladdin.

In 2006, there was even more drama. He had a public incident with a member of the National Party at the Canberra airport. He told Fiona Nash to blow it out her backside. Some saw this as being workplace harassment. Hefferman was forced to apologize.

That's not all the trouble Heffernan was in during 1996.

He did more dirty work for Howard; tried to get a politician named John Brogden in trouble. He approached another politician named Alex McTaggart and told him he was Howard's right hand man. Hefferman told McTaggart he had dirt on Brogden and tried to manipulate McTaggart into revealing his own Brogden dirt.

Heffernan's adventures continued into 2007. He was accused of stealing the Green Party's how-to-vote cards.

Holy crap! Heffernan said that Julia Gillard shouldn't be a leader because she's deliberately barren. What?! I'm in shock here. I'm not even sure what to say. How does having kids make you a better politician? In some ways, I think it's better NOT to have kids if you're going to go into politics. I think you're pulled too much into two directions. Although if the government did supportive things like providing a year of paid maternity leave, it might be a different story.

I'm not saying mothers shouldn't have careers. I just think that some careers are very involved, and takes intense dedication. Something is probably going to end up getting neglected. It will be either the career or the child. Now if the father (or Lesbian partner) is willing to be the primary parent, than this shouldn't be a problem at all.

What Heffernan says pisses me of though. He says women who remain barren have no idea what life is about. It reminds me of what people some say about homeschooling. There's the idea that homeschoolers are deprived. They're unsocialized and missing out on an essential life experience. Yes, they are missing out on a SPECIFIC life experience, but it does not mean they're deprived. Well, I guess you COULD say they're deprived. But we're all deprived of something. I'm deprived of having five kids. I'm deprived of having a career as a doctor. I'm deprived of watching Grey's Anatomy. I'm deprived of living in Wyoming. We're all missing out on SOMETHING. But that doesn't mean we even WANT that something. And it certainly doesn't mean we don't know what life is about. It can make us feel greatly superior though, to look at others and think of how they're missing out simply because they didn't make the same choices we do.

Like most mothers of only children, I've been given grief about depriving Jack of a sibling. Well, I can turn around to those people and say they're depriving their children of the wonderful experience of being an only child. So there!

Back to Heffernan who I now pretty much despise.

In 2008, he spoke about gene stuff. I don't really understand it. He said, Patents should be for inventions, not for naturally occurring genes. I'm guessing maybe he's against gene therapy?

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki. I think I'm going to go outside with Jack because he says the weather is nice. Then I'll look at some other Bill Heffernan stuff.

I'm back.

I'm going to look at his Parliament website now. There's actually nothing that exciting; just lists his different positions and stuff. I'm not going to name them all. If anyone is in interested, click on the link.

Now I'm going to check and see if he's in Twitter-World.

That's taking a long time to load so I'm going to look at Bill Hefffernan's website at the same time. They have a photograph of him on this site. He looks like someone who is a farmer and member of the Liberal Party. He also looks like someone who would be heavily involved with the Baptist Church. I'm just saying if I was a casting director this would be the role I'd give him.

I can't find him on Twitter. Oh well.

There's another photo of Hefferman to the left of the page. He looks a bit like that actor. I forgot his name, but he stars in Babe.
James Cromwell! Thank you, IMDb! Cromwell is American. I didn't know that. I always figured he was British or something.

I'm going to read Heffernan's maiden speech now. I like reading these things...sometimes.

This speech was done on 10 December 1996. I think at this point I lived in Los Angeles. It was probably a few weeks before I became a film school drop-out.

Heffernan says, The Liberal Party, without fuss or fanfare, and certainly without quotas or tokens, has led the way to deliver more women to parliament. Yeah, let's just hope none of them were barren. We wouldn't want any girls who don't understand what life is about.

I'm getting some childhood information here now. He had six siblings. He has been deprived of living in a small family. Therefore he doesn't know what life is about. He should never be a leader.

He and his wife have four children.

I do like what he says here, although I'm not sure he means it in the way I'd want him to mean it. It is an environment where we have learnt from the ancient skills of our indigenous people and from the recent lessons of land care that man is merely the custodian of the land and that planet survival demands a certain order of our water, land, plants and animals--an order which when respected will provide for man. On the surface, I really can't fault him on what he has said here. It sounds rather lovely. Oh, maybe not. What's that order word mean here? Is it like a food chain thing? He COULD be saying that the world will be okay as long as we remember that humans are superior and more important than the other little creatures.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

He says, I am mindful that the cost to family life of political commitment is both high and well documented. I would not be here without the help of my Sydney foster family, Bill and Trish McPhee, the support of my family and my hardworking wife, Margaret, and my children, Kate, Will, Ted and Harriet--all of whom have had to make considerable sacrifices. I wonder how many female politicians have this support from their spouses and children. Some of them might, and that's great. But if they don't, how do they manage such a career?

I have to say. I like this quote too. Many times I have observed the capacity of all Australians to pull together during times of war and national disaster. Is it too much to ask of the beneficiaries, of such capacity, to pull together in times of peace for social justice and a fair go for every Australian How does such an asshole come up with this stuff? It IS rather lovely.

Here's more insight into his view of women: Rural women often have to contend with droving, drafting and old harvest trucks, yet find the time to do the books, do the washing and ironing, cook the meals, oversee the homework, school excursions and weekend sport, water the garden and look like a lady of leisure for church on Sunday. Our rural women deserve a medal for holding together the spirit of family farming.

So, he IS respectful of women...as long as they fit a certain role. It's like Super Mom; or Super Farm Mom. And there's nothing wrong with being this type of woman. I think they deserve a lot of respect. I personally admire them. But it's not the only valid life choice.

Maybe the guy IS fairly eco-conscious. He says, Population growth is wearing down Mother Earth and swallowing up our farming land and agricultural water resources. Twenty-five per cent of the world's agricultural land is degraded and 25 per cent of the world's wild fisheries are overfished. If the world does not wake up, in 100 years there will be no tropical rainforest. It's funny about the population growth though because earlier in the speech he pretty much boasted about coming from a large family.

He also seems fairly supportive of Indigenous Australians. He says, My tribute also extends to my bush companions, our indigenous people, who live in rural and remote Australia. I share their love of the land and their concern for the loss of their timeless culture. They, like myself, sleep many nights under the stars, understand the value of a campfire and can read Mother Nature, her seasons and warning signals. They, sadly, often live in a mire of low self-esteem, shunned by the passage of time and technology. I can't find fault in anything he has said here.

He talks about the underdeveloped north. He believes Australia should tap into all the resources there. So, you use up the resources in one place and move onto a new place. It might come down to us having to do stuff like that. But can it be done in a way that's not overly destructive? I don't know. If Northern Australia is mined and all that, what would be sacrificed? What would be gained? Would it all balance out? And is it one of those things where there'd be quick fixes that would lead to bigger problems in the future?

All right. Here's his speech about the gene stuff. Oh, he's NOT against gene therapy. Oops. I blundered that one. I think I'm actually in agreement with him here. He doesn't believe genes should be patented. He says, To realize the full promise of this research, raw fundamental data on the human genome, including the human DNA sequence and its variations, should be made freely available to scientists everywhere. Unencumbered access to this information will promote discoveries that will reduce the burden of disease, improve health around the world, and enhance the quality of life for all humankind.

Okay. I'm starting to have mixed feelings about this guy. He's becoming less of an asshole to me. Well, maybe I should say I still feel like he' an asshole. But he's an asshole with some pretty decent ideas. You know who he reminds me of....Mark Latham. Or maybe Ben on Lost! They're awful in some ways, but not so awful in other ways.

It seems he might be involved in this gene stuff for personal reasons. He and his sister are against a certain company, Genetic Technologies Ltd, having sole control of gene testing for certain types of breast cancer. That sister and their other sister both had breast cancer. I've looked into taking these tests; I think when I researched Jane McGrath. The genes run higher in Jewish people, and we've had breast cancer in the family. They're really expensive though. I think it's sad that medical tests cost so much. Does it really entail that much time and resources? Or are people making huge profits from it? I'll admit that the price isn't the only thing stopping me from taking the tests. I guess it's the fear of getting a positive result. What would I do then? The information isn't definite. It's not saying I WILL get cancer. It's saying I MIGHT get cancer. And I could end up with a negative test. But I can't be relieved about that because I still could get cancer. And if I don't get cancer, I could get hit by a truck.

Gene testing is a sticky thing. It sometimes gives us answers that will help us. But then other times it gives us answers that just make us lost and depressed.

See. Yeah. Now I'm reading all this and I'm feeling scared again. And I'm feeling guilty for not getting early Mammograms or something. But then once I feel guilty and consider doing it, I feel like a hypochondriac.

I'm awful with medical stuff.

All right. I'm done with his page. I'm going to look at Google News now.

There's some stuff going on with the Beef Industry. Heffernan's involved. I don't understand it completely. It seems to have something to do with Australian's industry being overshadowed, or taken over by Brazilian meat companies.

Here's an article about Heffernan and Julia Gillard.

One of Gillard's responses to the whole event was, I don't think Australian women need Bill Heffernan or anybody else to give them advice on how to live their lives. "We're pretty good at making our own choices. Amen to that.

Yikes. After all this research, I just realized I had been spelling Heffernan's name wrong. I was spelling it HefferMAN rathe than HefferNAN. Oops. I had to go back and change all those.
Anyway, now I'm going to search the blogging world.....

This blogger reports that Heffernan threatened a security guard when the security guard confiscated his knife. Heffernan later sent a written apology. Heffernan does seem to end up apologizing a lot. I wonder how many of those apologies are actually sincere.

This Canberra Blogger has some strong words for Heffernan and his barren comments. She says, Bill - thinking of women primarily in terms of their child bearing status is no longer acceptable. And Bill, I don't want politicians to parent me, I want them to manage, to lead, and to have some vision for the future. Bill, I think it is time you retired. I like that.

The Voice of Today's Apathetic Youth doesn't like that John Howard and Tony Abbott stand behind Heffernan. She (or they) say I don't know how other people choose their friends, and I don't know how other people might define a 'great bloke', but I don't include people who express bigoted and repulsive views in my circle of friends, and I certainly wouldn't describe someone who expressed them as 'a great bloke' (or woman, depending on who's spouting the crap).

I agree with her on some levels, and on other levels I don't. I have family members who have VERY different religious and political views than I do. They often say things that greatly offend me. They say things that disgust me. They say things that make me wonder sometimes how I can stand being in the same room with them. But the thing is I DO love them. And it's not just love out of obligation. I know that despite our disagreements, there's great good in these people. The person who offends me the most in my family is also one of the most loving, generous, and caring people in my family. We might not see eye to eye on things, but I know he has a huge heart.

Fortunately, I'm not famous and I'm not faced with having to distance myself from family member's wild statements. If I was in that situation, I think there's a RIGHT way to do it. I DON'T think it's enough to say something ambiguous like We all have our own opinions. I love so-and-so, but I don't necessarily agree with him on everything. That's way too vague, and when I read something like that I hear I agree with him, but I don't want to admit directly in public because then I might look bad. I think the right thing to say is something like I love my father. He's a great dad. But I completely disagree with him about the Holocaust being a hoax.

I think you can love someone with crazy views, even publicly love them. But if you don't distance yourself from their VIEWS, than I'm going to assume you share them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Morris Gleitzman

I'm excited to research Morris Gleitzman.

I read one of his children's books while we were in Australia. Toad Away.  A story about cane toads. Before reading the book, I saw cane toads in a very negative way. They're disgusting invaders of Australia. They cause the death of native animals. They're not good. But Gleitzman's book made me see the toads differently. After reading it, I had some sympathy for the poisonous amphibians. As a whole they're a nuisance. As individuals though..... I don't know. Studies have shown that animals have more intelligence than most of us want to imagine. I'm not saying a Cane Toad could beat me at a game of Trivial Pursuit, but I'm also doubting his existence is just a walking blob of nothingness.

No matter how smart Mr. Cane Toad is....we can't deny that his presence in Australia has wreaked havoc on the fauna. But sometimes it's not enough to just gently exterminate the creatures. Some people like to be kill them via various sporting games.

Does the cane toad deserve such hatred and destruction?

Maybe.

But I know another animal that has probably created much more havoc to Australia's ecology. They officially arrived in 1788. And even their dark-skinned predecessors probably caused minor amounts of stress to the land.

I'm not saying I'm against controlling animal populations. I think it might sometimes be necessary. I think though that it should be done with respect, and done as painlessly as possible. Next time we're faced with an animal that we feel deserves death, I think we should imagine how we'd feel if someone decided the planet would be better off without our kind. I imagined that recently thanks to the help of a certain Keanu Reeves movie.

I do like books and movies that make me think about things in a different way. I liked Gleitzman's book. Will I like Gleitzman himself? Maybe? Maybe not?

It's time to talk to Lord Wiki.

Wow, Lord Wiki. You sure don't have a lot to say about Mr. Gleitzman. What's the deal with that?

Thanks. At least you provide me with his birthday. January 9, 1953. Why do I feel like I'm getting a lot of January birthdays lately?

Birthday Website Time!

We have a 1 again. Just like Pro Hart and Tim.

Gleitzman is a Capricorn. This astrology website has this to say about the Capricorn: They strive always for honesty in their criticism of self, they respect discipline from above and demand it from those beneath them. In their methodical, tough, stubborn, unyielding way, they persist against personal hardship, putting their families and/or their work before their own needs and welfare to reach their objectives long after others have given up and fallen by the wayside.


That doesn't sound exactly like a man who writes funny books for children. But I don't know the guy very well yet. If it doesn't fit him, we might say that astrology is a load of rubbish. Or we could say that Gleitzman is a failed Capricorn. I have a feeling it has to be one or the other because the astrology site also says that Capricorns dislike fantasy. Yeah, from just reading Toad Away, I can assume that this trait does not fit Gleitzman.

Gleitzman was born in England. His books are popular and read worldwide. That's about all Lord Wiki wants to tell me. I shall have to look elsewhere.

This writer website has some information.

Gleitzman emigrated to Australia when he was sixteen. He started out as a television writer. In 1987, he turned one of his screenplays into a novel. The Other Facts of Life. Oh! This book sounds really good. It seems like a Lisa Simpson type thing. I definitely need to read it one day.

After the first book, more appeared. Some of them have been adapted to the stage.

The website says, He is known for his tough subjects, presented in a humorous and offbeat style. I have a feeling Gleitzman will end up being one of my favorite Aussie authors.

He has a pretty impressive bibliography. 34 books. That is...if I counted right. Some of them were co-written by Paul Jennings.

Okay. Now I'm going to read the website's critical perspective. They say, His use of humour avoids gritty realism, lessens the possibility of anxiety for child-readers and enables him to present certain issues subtly and (almost) lightly. I wonder if Jack will like these books. Both Jack and I are the type of people who have a lot of fears and anxieties. I do feel that humor is sometimes the best medicine for folks like us.


One of Gleitzman's books (Two Weeks with a Queen), deals with the subject of sibling death. I feel that it's an issue too often ignored. When I used to be involved with Cystic Fibrosis, I met some of the siblings. I think it's so hard on these kids. They have to face such a huge loss. But even outside of that, there's so much they have to deal with. It's hard to be the sibling of someone who is severely ill or injured. I know that from experience.

It seems so many resources are focused on the ill children themselves. And I think those resources are necessary. But I also think resources are needed for the healthy children. There are a few programs appearing though. That's good. Oh! Maybe there's more than I expected. That's good.

The website says this about parents in Gleitzman's books. Colin’s parents are shown to be flawed but forgivable - they make mistakes, but they are well-intentioned and coping with a terrible situation. This is typical of many of Gleitzman’s novels - he writes honestly about adult shortcomings, and is firmly on the child’s side, but nonetheless shows sympathy towards struggling parents trying to do their best.

It's funny reading children's books as an adult. I probably notice the parents more than I did as a child. And I think unfortunately I'm very judgmental. I come down hard on Junie B. Jones parents. They seem so negative and invalidating. I also have trouble tolerating Peter and Fudge's mom in the Judy Blume books. She seems a bit clueless at times. But I have to face the facts. If our life was a children's novel, readers would probably be critical about my parenting. I have the best intentions, but sometimes..... Well, let's just say it's often easier to do the right thing when the scenario is just in your imagination. When I'm faced with reality, I sometimes end up being more harsh than gentle. Example: A week or so ago, Jack participated in a Hula Hoop contest with his cousins at a charity event. Jack's Hula skills are equal to mine. He was out within seconds. His cousin meanwhile was doing quite well. The losers were supposed to leave the stage. Jack started crying and didn't want to leave. He said he wanted to stay with his cousin.

We took him off the stage immediately. I think THAT was the right thing to do. But then I was too harsh with him. I was horribly unsympathetic. I lectured him about how we all have talents. We talked about how he's good at his things, and this is something that Darcy is good at. Okay, I still think all that is fine. BUT I should have still been sympathetic towards his feelings. There's nothing wrong with being firm, but I think in these circumstances you also need to be gentle. Instead, I tried to make Jack feel guilty that he wasn't acting proud of his cousin. I told him he was being rude for sitting there crying instead of watching and cheering for his cousin. In an ideal world, we would all be proud of each other--never resentful and jealous. But unfortunately we sometimes have ugly feelings. During that year my sister was injured, I was called selfish on many occasions. And I HAD been very selfish at times. But I wish someone had told me that these feelings were normal. Common. I wish someone had told me I wasn't a bad person for feeling these things. That's why there needs to be support for siblings.

All right. I'm a bad mother sometimes. But I guess I'm not as bad as some of the characters in Gleitzman's books. The parents in Bumface sound quite awful. It's about a child with a TV star mom. The TV mom is idealistic while the real mom is neglectful. I'm definitely not neglectful. I ignore Jack at times and/or tell him I'm busy. But I make up for it plenty at other times. I think that's the usual story for homeschooling stay-at-home moms. I will say I've become quite good at working while being frequently interrupted. Now the kid is ignoring me though. He barely gave me a hello this morning.

This Random House website has a little bit of autobiographical stuff.

During his childhood, Gleitzman ran to his birthday presents, tripped, and sprained his elbow. Ouch. Something similar to that happened to Jack....but a bit worse. He tried to run ahead of us at the airport....I think to get to the rental car bus. He tripped and fell flat on the ground. He broke his arm. It's all healed now, but will probably be the cause of major psychological damage. The poor child can't run without me calling out something like. Jack! Be Careful! I'll kill you if you break another arm!

It seems Gleitzman's favorite childhood food was corned beef.

He liked to read.

He said when he moved to Australia, the experience was so shocking that he stopped reading for a year. I wonder if that's common. When I first became a mom, I found I was unable to read for awhile. Sometimes, you're just too stressed and nervous. Although in my case, I think it was about the book. Someone had given me a book to borrow...one she heavily praised. I couldn't get into it, but I felt obligated to read it. AND like it. Instead, I just avoided reading. I'm not sure if I would have read more if I had a book I liked; or if I would have liked the borrowed book more if I wasn't so anxious. Who knows.

And....onto another website.

One of Gleitzman's books (Boy Overboard) deals with refugees from Afghanistan; the intolerance they face from some Australians. I wonder if the protagonist feels like the cane toad in Toad Away.

I'm finding it easier to find information about his books than about Gleitzman himself. And I kind of hesitate reading too much about his books because I want to read them for myself one day. That's probably why this entry is mostly filled with me rambling on and on about my own life.

I'll keep trying though. I'm going to look at Google News.

Gleitzman will be (or already is) in Borneo doing author visits at schools. Also, while there, he'll be speaking at a charity dinner. The proceeds go to Victoria bushfire victims.

He's currently involved with that campaign regarding Australian books and authors. I've seen this thing before, and I don't fully understand it. It sounds bad though. I know it has something to do with cheap books coming into Australia from abroad, and that will threaten Australian books somehow. Even though I don't fully understand it, I totally support the cause. I'd be devastated if Australian books disappeared.

Oh! Good! An interview. I'm going to read this.

Gleitzman's favorite books as a child were the William books by Richard Compton. I'm not finding anything about these books. Oh well. I guess either I'm looking in the wrong place, or their pretty damn obscure.

He says as a writer, he believes in starting with a character and their problem. When I wrote fiction, I think I began things in the Stephen King way. A lot of What ifs. I guess that's more about situation than conflict. But in almost all cases, the situation than brings about conflict.

Here's an article about a Nazi/Holocaust book that Gleitzman wrote.


Regarding his career Gleitzman says, I've always been lucky. I found out early what I was meant to do and it is never a chore. And that's exactly why I've quit writing fiction. At one time, I was like Gleitzman. I had millions of ideas. The words flowed. I felt comforted and excited at the keyboard. But later it all just became a chore. I started dreading my writing times and struggling to fill up my daily writing quotas.

Gleitzman had actually written a whole trilogy of Nazi books: Once, Then, and Now. Oh wait. Now hasn't come out yet. It's a future book. Now is not now. It's later. I am cracking myself up here.

Thanks to this article, I have found the William books! Thank you. I had been spelling the author's name wrong. Compton instead of Crompton. The Crompton books are not very obscure. In fact, they seen quite popular.

The article says he lives with his wife and stepchildren in Melbourne; but he also sometimes lives with his ex-wife and children in Sydney. Interesting. I guess he gets along well with his ex-wife. That's good. I like hearing stories like that.

I love this quote from Gleitzman, Because kids are physically smaller, there's an assumption by people who haven't read a kids' book for a long time that their ideas and themes and problems and ambitions must be commensurately smaller and less important. I would venture that sometimes the opposite is true. Beautiful.

You know we'd all probably be better parents if we read less how-to-parent books and more children and young adult novels. I think that gives you much more insight into real-life parenting.

I can't imagine how someone could see a child's or teenager's problems as being trivial. Yeah, sometimes children and teens make mountains out of molehills. But adults do too...probably just as much!

We as adults get annoyed with children when they have a tantrum for a new toy. Yet how many toys do we own ourselves? Yeah, we probably didn't have a tantrum for them. But we must have shared the child's strong desperate desire to have that thing. Otherwise, why would we have bought it? And I think it's harder for a child because they have to depend on us to say yes or no. Jack and I talk about this sometimes. I say it's sometimes better to be an adult because you get to make more of your own choices. But then it's sometimes better to be a child because, in most cases, you have less responsibilities.

It's all relative though. Sometimes we scoff at other people's problems because ours seem so much bigger and more important. But we have to remember that there's ALWAYS going to be someone who has worse problems than us. How would we feel if they treated our problems with scorn?

Okay. I'm going to feed my child, and then I'm going to look at the official Morris Gleitzman website. I'm glad I found that. Actually, Lord Wiki had a link, but I missed it at first.

We're back. We ate Tim's leftover pancakes. For the record, my gourmet chef husband fails when it comes to pancakes. Mine are SO much better.

Gleitzman says there's a rule about author websites. They must include baby photos. Cool. I didn't know that. Back when I was having the almost-constant Julian McMahon dreams, I had this very strong desire to see pictures of him as a child. I have no idea why. Of course all I could find was him looking grown-up and sexy. I searched and searched and never found what I was looking for. Maybe they're out there now. I should look one day. But not now because I have to finish this. Then I want to play Sims 2, give attention to my child, and obsessively check Twitter every five minutes. Baby McMahon shall have to wait.

Gleitzman is awesome. It's official now. I can't deny it. He gives away free copies of his book!
If you send in a self-addressed stamped envelope, he'll send you a signed copy of Wicked Part Two. He even extends the offer to international people like me. Postage is expensive though.  I'm not sure it's worth it. It's probably easier for me to buy the book here somewhere. But I do deeply appreciate being included. If you're sad that you have to start with the sequel, don't worry. Gleitzman has the book online for free. I'm thinking of reading it, but probably won't. I spent too much time on the computer as it is. I need to read physical books because that gets me away from the screen.

Oh! Wait. I must have already been on this website earlier. I see the biography page I had looked at earlier. And this is where his childhood photo is. He's cute....riding a little tricycle.

The website has a rather extensive Q and A thing.

He says he has two offices-one in his Melbourne home and one in his Sydney home. I'm very intrigued by the fact that he still lives with his ex-wife. I think it's lovely though.

I love his sense of humor. He's asked if he's recognized when out in public. He says no because he always put older photos on his books. He says, Which means people don't recognise me when I'm out and I'm free to go into bookshops and put my books in front of Harry Potter books anonymously. That cracks me up.

I am REALLY liking this guy. Am I gushing too much? I like that he's friendly towards his readers. I've seen other author websites that are much less welcoming. One time I looked at the website of a certain young adult author. There was something so cold, protected, and serious about him. It turned me off of him. I never read anymore of his books.

I keep loving this Gleitzman man more and more. He says, when asked about getting awards,
Quite a few, but I try not to let my head swell too much. Most awards are given by small groups of people who are just expressing their very personal preferences. I like humble people.

Another certain author (I won't name names) fills almost every blog post with glowing reviews of her books. I first came across her blog because she came across mine first. Why? I had written a negative review of her book. Now I don't think I was nasty. I think I was very polite about it. I even said the fault probably lay with me. I'm not that smart sometimes. The book went way over my head. Well, on her constant search of book reviews, she came across mine. She took a break from posting glowing reviews and did a post about recent bad reviews. My review was there with a link to my blog. I guess I could be grateful for the free publicity. I felt bad though so I left her what I thought was a sweet genuine comment. It was an apology with some philosophical stuff about the world being full of various opinions. Blah, blah, blah. She never responded to my comment. I felt snubbed by her. Maybe she's just one of those bloggers who never reads comments. But I couldn't help feeling that she was being petty or something. And now I'm being petty. Yet I'm so glad to get that all off my chest.

Interesting. He says he can't read fiction while writing his own because it messes up his own rhythm and voices. Because of this, he now reads mostly nonfiction.

Ah, there seems to be a whole collection of Gleitzman photos on the site. He also has some of his old report cards. I think it's great for kids to see you can get negative remarks from a teacher and then grow up to be successful. Gleitzman had mixed grades though. It seems he was good at English, French, and religious studies. It seems he did less well with science stuff.

His quote about heroes is, Life is full of big problems that don't have easy solutions. The heroes in my books are kids who wrestle with these problems and don't give up, not even when they've run out of dishwashing liquid. I like that.

He says he's very tidy; maybe almost to an anal degree. He says, The trouble with being that tidy is that you get nervous about things that aren't tidy. Like feelings.

I'm going to leave his website now and see if there's anything in the blogging world about Gleitzman.


No, well maybe not. I'm feeling lazy now. And this post is probably long enough. I'm loving Gleitzman, but I think I've had enough of him for today. Besides, I want to go watch Jack do some Wii bowling.



Monday, April 27, 2009

Pro Hart (thanks Dave)

I have no idea who Pro Hart is. My friend gave me the name before we went to Australia.

I don't even know if it's male or female.

I'm kind of excited to find out. Let's go talk to Lord Wiki......

Oh!

It's a boy!

He's a painter.

Cool.

I don't think I've done any painters yet.

Pro Hart used to be Kevin Charles Hart.

Link
He was born on 30 May 1928.

Birthday Website Time

He's a 1 in numerology. That's the same as Tim! The 1 is about independence and leadership.

Hart was a Gemini. I have a Gemini niece. She's seven years-old and is already excellent at reading Hebrew. My little niece is bilingual! What does that have to do with being a Gemini? Nothing. I just wanted to brag about my niece.

This astrology website describes my Gemini niece quite well in this sentence. When they are good, they are very attractive; when they are bad they are more the worse for being the charmers they are.

Hart was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales. I wouldn't mind going to Broken Hill. Tim and I want to go to the outback someday. I'm not sure if I want to go to Alice Springs or Uluru though. I think I'd rather go somewhere different from where most international tourists go. Although I think Broken Hill is a little touristy too. But we probably don't want a place that's completely isolated and obscure.

I just looked at Google Maps. If we're ever going to do a driving trip to Broken Hill, we should probably do it a time when we make Adelaide our city destination. It's six hours from Adelaide. It's about fifteen hours from Sydney and ten hours from Melbourne.

Anyway, back to little Kevin Charles.

He got the nickname Pro because people called him professor. Cute.

He grew up on a sheep station. He did the correspondence school thing. I think he's the first person I've researched who's done that. I think when I tell some Australians that Jack is homeschooled, this is what they picture. Although I think some American homeschoolers participate in correspondence school for their homeschooling. We don't. But who knows. Maybe someday we will. Maybe for Jack's high school years.

In his young adult years, Hart worked in the mines. Mining used to be central to the economy in Broken Hill. Well, it still is. But because of dwindling resources, they're trying to emphasize tourism as well.

Lord Wiki says Hart began painting at age seven. I don't get that really. What exactly does it mean? He used paints for the first time at that age? I doubt it. Jack would have him beat there. He painted for the first time when he was around a year old. Maybe it just means this is when painting became one of Hart's primary talents/hobbies.

In 1958, he started painting full time. He would have been thirty. Four years later, he had his first exhibition in Adelaide. In between all that, he got married. The lovely couple ended up having five children.

Hart paints the outback. He has a strong love for Australia and his town of birth. He chose to remain in Broken Hill, and opened up a gallery there.

Lord Wiki says Hart uses his DNA as a mark of authenticity in his paintings. What does that mean? Does he scrape his cheek cells and put them in the painting? His blood? Dandruff? Lord Wiki doesn't say.

Well, it seems we don't share a lot of political stuff in common.

He was very pro-guns. He wasn't a fan of the Labor party or Green Party.

He believed in Government Conspiracy theories. Well, I believe in some of those to a point. I don't take what any government says as truth and gospel.

He supported Pauline Hanson; even gave her money during her difficult time.

Hart reads the Bible and collected car stuff. Yeah, we really don't have much in common. He would probably fit in very well with that New Years/anniversery Party Tim took me too. They would have probably loved Pro Hart.

In his later years, Hart developed motor neurone disease.  He eventually died from it in 2006. I have to look up this disease. I never heard of it until my friend Michelle mentioned it when we were in Australia. I was surprised there was a disease out there I haven't heard of. I wondered whether it was really rare, or whether we had a different name for it in the United States. I meant to look it up earlier, but forgot. So, here's my chance.

Okay. According to Lord Wiki, this disease is what we Americans call Lou Gerhig's disease. I HAVE heard of that. It seems there are different types of motor neurone disease though.

Stephen Hawkings has it. I never knew what disease he had.

Now I feel much more educated.

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki. Now I shall move on to other websites. Maybe I'll even look at some of Hart's paintings.

All right.

Here's a Pro Hart website. Oh. It's the website for his gallery.

Besides painting, he also did sculpture work with metal and stone.

And he invented stuff. He sounds a little bit like Da Vinci. But maybe most artists are like that. Maybe those who paint are often also good at inventing. Although my ex-boyfriend painted, and I don't remember him inventing stuff. He used most of his free time to smoke pot.

The website says Hart liked Chinese take-a-way. Well, we have something in common there. I like Chinese food. Oh, but NOT Texas Chinese food. The Chinese food in Fort Worth is pretty awful. I love NYC Chinese food. I wish I could have some now.

This website says he was disliked and mocked by the art mafia. What is the art mafia? Is it a real entity, or are they just referring to general art snobs?

This article here refers to the Art Mafia. It says they attacked a guy named Peter Toyne. Toyne is trying to stop counterfeit Aboriginal art and Aboriginal Art sweatshops. Someone didn't like that and they stabbed Toyne.

I'm doubting it's the same group who disliked Hart. Since Hart believes in government conspiracies, I'm guessing he has a touch of paranoia. Therefore, this art mafia might be more in his mind...an imagined persecution. Or maybe not. The world is full of snobs. But if there were snobs that rejected Hart and his work, it seems they didn't diminish his career too much. The website says he traveled the world meeting kings, queens, and other such famous folks.

All right. Now I'm going to look at his paintings. Hopefully, it will be easy to link from the website.

I'll find paintings that I like. This is like going to the art museum. I'm feeling so cultured lately. The other day I listened to opera, and now I'm looking at famous paintings.

So far, I'm noticing his paintings seem to have a lot of red in them. That's pretty cool. When I think of Australia, red is the color I think of...especially when I think of the Outback. I have an Aussie tour book called Catriona's Australia. It's full of photographs. I don't like the book though because the dominant color seems to be blue. It doesn't feel like Australia to me. Australia for me is a rusty red. Sydney could be blue though. I guess for me Australia is rusty red and Sydney is turquoise.

Okay. I'm being weird.

Well, it seems I can't link directly to the paintings. I can link to the category though. I like these mining ones. His work reminds me of a certain children's book illustrator. I forgot her name. Crap. I think it's Allison. I'll try to Google. Yes, it's Allison Jay. Her colors are very different from Hart, but the style looks similar to me. Or maybe not. Now that I see her paintings....I might change my mind. Maybe just the mining paintings remind me of her. The other stuff really doesn't.

Now I'm going to read an ABC interview. It was done in 2004--two years before he died.

Hart says Art's my life. I've got to be doing something every day.

I can sort of relate to that. I think I need to be doing something everyday. I put all this pressure on myself to have a post every single day. I think sometimes that this is too much. I don't need to put all this pressure on myself. I've made a new rule that if I'm a certain number of posts ahead, I don't have to do research (or other long drawn out posts) for that day. I can take a break! A few days ago, I was that many posts ahead so I took a few days off. The first day was nice. It was great to get a rest. I was excited to have a "free" day. But by the end of my break, I was bored and feeling a bit empty.

Even though it's hard work sometimes, I really love doing these posts. I love the research. I love writing.

I think when you have a hobby you truly love, you end up NOT wanting to take many breaks. I think if you enjoy the breaks too much, then it might be time to retire from that particular hobby.

This is cool. Hart says with his correspondence school, when he was asked to write something, he'd draw instead. And he says the teachers accepted this. Awesome! Wouldn't it be great if schools allowed children to express their knowledge in the way that suited them best. Some kids might take a multiple choice test. Some might write an essay. Some might do a painting or sing a song. Some kids might build something.

I know there's the idea that we all need to learn how to do a little bit of everything. I think there's some merit to that. But what if we kept that plan to a minimum and most people put their focus on their strengths instead? If you're good at math, you spent most of your day in math classes...with an hour or so of basics in the other stuff. If you're good at art, you spend most of your day in art class. I think schools would work out much better if they were like that.

Ah, he was kicked out of the mines. Yikes. I wonder why. He says he was doing a lot of sketching while underground. Maybe that's why.

He did this thing sometimes; dropped paint from airplanes. He dropped paint on Uluru. That was frowned on. I can't blame the frowning people. I do support graffiti type art in some circumstances. But Ulura? Uh, no. That's probably not a nice thing to do.

In the interview, he says that he doesn't know where the nickname Pro came from. So, was Lord Wiki lying to me? Using his imagination a bit?

Hart talks about how the mines were very dangerous.

He would draw on the walls of the mine; kind of illustrate stories of what the other miners had been up to. It sounds somewhat Aboriginal.

He says the paint he dropped on Uluru was biodegradable. I guess that's good.

He collects paintings. Hart says, If I liked something, I'd buy it. I wouldn't care about the name. I like that.

Someone named Jon Hart (maybe a relative?) says Critics I don't think at first were too happy about an artist who had a high output of work. I think Stephen King gets a lot of flack for that. People sometimes frown down on those who are prolific. If you're making too much of something it must be crap. Or you're just making a lot of stuff so you can make more money.

I'm prolific when it comes to writing. I always have been. I wrote four-five novels the senior year of my high school. I didn't get money for any of them. It's just writing was kind of like my therapy. It was my savior. At that point in my life, I HAD to write. I would lock myself in my room after school and write twenty-thirty pages. I'd finish a novel in about a month. Not everyone is like that. Some people work much slower. They take years to write a novel. I always thought there was something wrong with me. I thought my work would be better if I took my time. I tried SLOWLY writing a novel once. I lost interest in it quickly. I can't write that way. I can't do a little at a time. I have to do intense spurts.

I quit fiction writing eventually and went to blog-writing. I see Bloggers who struggle to post on a regular basis. It's like they have writing constipation. I have writing diarrhea. It just keeps coming out. That's how I end up ahead of myself with posts.

I don't think one way is inferior to the other. All of us writers work in our own different ways. Painters too.

This is romantic. His wife says, Every time Pro's had an exhibition on, he's always taken the children and I with him, because Pro's a real homebody and doesn't like being away from home. So I was very lucky there. That's incredibly sweet.

It also seems his wife had a lot of faith in his work. I think that's what probably gave him the courage to pursue a career.

Back to my last year high school year.....

We had moved to Nashville. The teachers at my new school were INCREDIBLY supportive of my writing. I think the librarian read every novel I wrote. And then one of the student teachers really stood behind me. I think having their support is another one of the reasons I did so much writing.

I think every writer, artist, singer, photographer, dancer chef, craftsperson, etc. needs someone standing behind them. It could be a parent, sibling, teacher, friend, spouse, aunt....whatever. I think the great thing about the internet is we all support each other. So those of us who lack support from family and nearby friends can get support from our online friends. It's really great!

The article talks a little bit about the art mafia. I think it IS just about snobbery. The interviewer says, Do you think it's because you're not the sort of bloke that they normally find on the artistic cocktails circuit? That could explain it.

Hart names who he doesn't like.....Greenies, blooming environmentalists and all those creeps. I give them a rough time. But he does say he cuts some slack for the genuine ones. The interviewer asks what he means by this. Hart says, Some of them are fair dinkum, some really feel for the things. So I let them go. But it's the stirrers! Oh, God! They're a pain.

I can understand that. I feel the same way about pro-life people. I think there ARE individuals who truly see a fetus as a baby. They really truly care and want to save a life. I might not agree with them on things, but I respect their compassion. Then there's the pro-life people who simply love drama. They love participating in the fight of "good" vs. "evil". They'll harass people, make disgusting signs, come up with offensive slogans, etc. I really don't think they truly care about the fetus.

And I see it with other groups: environmentalists, vegetarians, lactivists, anti-circumcision folks, health food fanatics, Christians, evangelist Atheists, etc. I think some of these people truly care about their cause. But other times, I think it's just about wanting to feel superior to others.

Okay, I'm going to go off on a total tangent here. Sorry. One thing I've changed my mind about lately is religion. I used to be against religion. I thought it was the cause of the majority of society's ills. Now I don't think so. I think religion is fine in itself. My feeling is that it provides an excuse for certain people to behave in a certain way. For good people, religion gives them an excuse to do good things. God wants me to bake a casserole for that family who lost their baby. God wants me to visit the hospital and hold the hands of all the sick lonely people. God wants me to give to charity. Bad people will say: God wants then to push my beliefs on others God wants me to blow up that building. God wants them me to lock my child in the closet and starve her to death. 

If there was no religion, these people would all still find a reason to do their stuff. The good people would still visit hospitals. The bad people would still blow things up.

So back to what Hart says, I think some environmentalists truly care. I think others just want a cause. And once they have that cause, they run with it. What am I? I don't know. I think I'm MOSTLY the good type of environmentalist. I do my eco stuff because I'm scared of what can happen to us all. I worry about our planet. But sometimes I can be a bit blind about it all. And sometimes I think I do think I'm a snob about it. Look at me. I don't use water bottles anymore. Look I have a reusable shopping bag. I truly wonder if I'm always caring about the environment, or if I'm sometimes just trying to uphold an image.

Hart is a bit paranoid when it comes to communists. He says the unions are full of them. Yeah. They're breeding them. They're everywhere, you know. Reds are... Yikes

I'm going to look at other websites now......

Ah! Here's a very recent article. It's about one of Hart's sons. Kym Hart says his dad was cracking jokes even when he was close to death. His wife was very fond of her famous father-in-law. She says, Kym's dad and I were close. Pro had a way about him. Yeah, he just had a way. That's very sweet.

Paul Lonergan, who wrote a tribute about Hart, explains more about the art mafia stuff. He says, He felt it was because he just didn't fit with their idea of what a proper artist should be. Which was left-wing, uncommercial and starving. That's unfortunate. I think creative people should be judged on their work, not what they look like or believe. I say this as a bit of a hypocrite though. I know my feelings toward certain celebrities have changed once I knew they were from a certain political group, or followed a certain religion. But often when that happens, I end up seeing their work again and I forget that I'm supposed to dislike them. An example would be Tom Cruise. We make fun of him and his Scientology. He can be a bit scary with all that. But I DO think he's a good actor. I think he can be a brilliant actor.

I'm going to end here. I'll leave us with a link to this blog. It has a picture of Hart's painted car. I think it looks awesome.



Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Imaginary Australian Restaurant

My imaginary Australian restaurant would be NOTHING like the restaurant we went to today.

We went to The Down Under Pub in Frisco for lunch.

It was a huge disappointment.

We had a nice drive there. It's about an hour from our house. We listened to the Mamma Mia Soundtrack. We passed an IKEA and we talked about going there after lunch. That seems like an Australian thing to do. Now that I know about Australia's love for ABBA, I pretty much associate anything Swedish with Australia.

I wondered what the Down Under Pub would be like. Would it have authentic Australian food? But then I'm STILL not sure what authentic Australian food is. I think of lamb, meat pies, sausage rolls, and pumpkin...lots of pumpkin. But you know what food really screams Australia to me? Thai food.

I was disappointed with the restaurant before I even got there. Frisco is ugly. I don't like it. I've seen other places in the DFW area that look like it. It's very flat and full of commercial retail crap places. There's no pretty nature. The architecture is awful. It's just blah!

The Down Under Pub is located in a large strip shopping center.

The restaurant logo is an upside down map of Australia. It's the same on their website, but I never really noticed it.

I thought MAYBE there'd actually be real Australians working there.

Nope.

The hostess was American. She wasn't rude, but she wasn't the warmest.

Our waiter was also American. He was nice....decent.

The decor was disappointing. Most of it was American Sports crap and American beer. There were a lot of Australian license plates. I'll give them credit for that. Also, near the toilets they had a photograph of Sydney Harbour.

Jack got a children's menu--one that includes crayons. You'd think maybe it would have something Australian about it. Maybe some Aussie animals? Nope. It had dinosaurs.

We had already seen the menu online, but we looked at it again.

There's a section that's called Aussie Favorites. If you want to be a true blue Aussie, try our favorites. They're bonza mate.
What is bonza? Is that a real Australian word? I gotta look it up.

Okay. It is! Well, at least it's in this Australian slang dictionary.

I'm not sure about the food they consider to be true blue....

They do have meat pies. That's Australian to me. They have SHRIMP on the barbie--not so Australian to me. But perhaps prawns on the barbie would be. Then the other foods are meatloaf, ribs, and pork chops. Maybe I'm ignorant because of my vegetarianism, but I don't think of them as Australian. I'm not saying Australians don't eat those foods, but it just doesn't scream true blue Aussie to me.

Tim was nice to me. When I gave him my puppy dog eyes, he ordered the meat pies. I wanted to know what they were like.

Jack got French Toast.

I got angel hair pasta.

We also ordered chips. This was a moment of confusion. The menu has Real Aussie Fish and Chips. We just wanted the chips, but there was no side of chips. I pointed to the menu item and asked the waiter if we could get just chips. He looked at me completely confused. I think he said, Chips? He seemed very lost.

Tim told him we meant French Fries.

He then told us that this was funny because chips ARE French Fries.

I don't know what this guy was thinking. I'm guessing he thought we were typical ignorant Americans and were randomly pointing to chips while asking for French Fries. I don't know.

The food came.

The pasta was edible, but not exciting.

The Meat Pie came with TWO meat pies....talk about portion issues.

I kept asking Tim questions about the meat pies. How is it? Is it horrible? Is it okay?

He tried to be nice; told me it wasn't too bad. He said it was at least better than the meat pie he had on the Manly ferry in 2007. THAT had been awful.

Tim said the pie at The Down Under Pub wasn't too horrible. It didn't have any gravy though. It looked dry; like a pie pastry with ground beef. He added ketchup to it.

Our chips were okay; didn't really taste like the Australian kind I love.

I loved Jack's French Toast. I thought it was one of the best French Toasts I've had in a long time. But then I realized that's because they didn't have maple syrup. They had the cheap crap with high fructose syrup. That's the stuff I grew up with, and I like it so much better than maple syrup.

The restaurant, like most American restaurants outside NYC, had free refills. I got annoyed when they brought Jack a second pineapple juice without asking. But then I told Tim, hey but Australians would probably like this. They seem impressed with our free refill lifestyle. I'm all for free refills. I think it's great. But I think the waiters should ASK before bringing you a new drink....especially when bringing a child a drink. One pineapple juice has too much sugar, but two is WAY over the line. Jack is mature and obedient to understand that he couldn't have another full juice. He had a few sips and that's it. But some kids might not be as reasonable....specially younger children. And parents shouldn't have to deal with it. So shame on The Down Under Pub for that.

I asked the waiter about the restaurant's history. He said it's about eight-years-old. I asked who started it and whether they were Australian.

Yes, the owner was. But the restaurant had been bought out a few years ago. The waiter told us they were trying to make it LESS Australian. He said it as if this was a good thing. Maybe I'm reading into things. But to me it was like someone claiming they were phasing out veal or trans fat. He acted like the restaurant would improve once they rid themselves of most of the Aussie stuff.

To summarize....I did NOT like The Down Under Pub. I think I prefer the Outback Steakhouse. That's bad, but not as bad as what we experienced today.

I thought a generous thought for a moment. Maybe the Down Under Pub is a decent place. And it's just not good for an American girl who loves Australia. But no. The food isn't good. The service is mediocre. There's nothing special about the place. Oh! And the bathroom stalls are incredibly small. I could fit in because I'm fairly short. I'm not sure what a tall person would do.  I guess use the handicap stall?  In those bathrooms, anyone over 162 centimeters is handicapped.

We left the restaurant. We didn't end up going to IKEA. Instead we met my sister's family at Chuck E. Cheese. While I was there, I dreamed up my own little fantasy Aussie restaurant. This is what it would have:

MENU-They would use authentic Aussie terms--chicken schnitzel, prawns (NOT shrimp), chips (NOT fries).

They'd have a meat pies and sausage rolls. Good ones. And of course they'd have some vegetarian pies. They'd have pastas and salads with pumpkin because that's very Australian to me. They'd have lots of Australian beer, and at least one Australian soda.

They'd have some Thai dishes. Maybe just one or two. For dessert, they'd have Lamingtons, and Pavlovas.

ENTERTAINMENT-They would play Australian music. Then they'd have TV screens with classic Aussie films playing--Murial's Wedding, Priscella Queen of the Desert, Picnic at Hanging Rock, etc......

DECOR-Aussie sports teams and maybe posters of Australian celebrities. Oh! I know! How about postcards from all around Australia? I'd also love vintage Aussie advertisement posters. That would be cool.

STAFF-They wouldn't have to be Australian. They don't even need to fake an accent. But I would want them to have a love for Australia. I would want them to be familiar with it and knowledgeable about it.

OTHER-Both the regular and children's menu would have facts about Australia.
Instead of the traditional red and white mints, they'd have free Fantales and Minties.


I would love it if there was a restaurant like that in Texas!

Although the Down Under Pub was a disappointment, I didn't get incredibly sad or anything. I think I've said before that seeing Australian things in America often makes me feel a bit melancholy. I didn't feel that bad today. My only one brief sadness was when I first bit into Jack's French Toast. For some odd reason, it made me think of Gina. And I missed her for a moment. Why does French Toast make me think of Gina? I have NO idea.

On a happier note, I have found my new favorite Australian candy. Curly Wurly; the one that looks like it has a Wiggle on it's wrapper. It's chocolate with caramel inside, but the caramel has a slight saltiness to it. It's a great yummy salty/sweet contrast. It's not sickening sweet like a Rolo or Milk Dud.

When Tim tried it, he said it reminded him of an old American Candy Bar. He couldn't remember the name though. It turns out it's the Marathon Bar. I can't remember if I ever ate that.