Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Fun

I've decided we can play a game.

There's no prize. Sorry. This is just for fun.

I'm going to type out the first one or two sentences of Australian books on my shelves. Let's see how many you guys can identify. I'll provide the answers later.

If you don't know any of them, I'd love to know which sentences seem the most interesting to you. If you had to choose one of these books to read, which would you choose?


I'm going to start with first chapters rather than prefaces, introductions, and forwards.

Note: some of these books are classic Aussie lit. Others are not quite that. They're books that happen to be written by Australians.

1. I arrived in the Alice at five a.m. with a dog, six dollars and a small suitcase full of inappropriate clothes. 'Bring a cardigan for the evenings', the brochure said.

2. It was a wild night in the Year of Federation that the birth took place. Horses kicked down their stable.

3. Your husband doesn't know you're writing this. It's quite easy to write it under his nose.

4. It was still very cool in the early summer morning; the fresh, clean air he breathed into his lungs felt good. He stood up and stretched his arms above his head then dropped them to his side.

5. If, in the New Year of 1788, the eye of God had strayed from the main games of Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, and idled over the huge vacancy of seat to the south-east of Africa, it would have been surprised in this empty zone to see not one, but all of eleven ships being driven east on the screaming band of westerlies.

6. The hospital again, and the echo of my reluctant feet through the long, empty corridors. I hated hospitals and hospital smells.

7. In the breathless stillness of a tropical afternoon, when the air was hot and heavy, and the sky brazen and cloudless, the shadow of the Malabar lay solitary on the surface of the glittering sea.

8. I was born in the year 1894 at Maidstone in Victoria. My father left for Western Australia just after this, taking with him my two older brothers, Joseph and Vernon.

9. Boo, hoo! Ow, ow; Oh! oh! Me'll die. Boo, hoo. The Pain, the pain. Boo, hoo!

10. Stein woke that morning with blood in his piss and the taste of something more insidious deep within his brain. Strangely innocuous, deadpan-that was how it felt.

11. I don't know what I'm doing here. Well, I do really.

12. I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me.

13. The South Sydney Junior Leagues Club, 558a Anzac Parade, set in a suburb of what may be -in certain senses-the most democratic city in the world, would still be described in some countries as a working men's club.

14. The Caliphate spy, a Javanese carpenter known simply as Adil, resettled himself against a comfortable groove in the sandalwood tree. The small, shaded clearing in the hills overlooking Dili had been his home for three days.

15. Before first light we set out for the silent vale. It was a day's journey and we were led by a tall, gangling boy called Eli, who carried a small sword and two hunt knives at his belt.

16. In the first place, Abigal Kirk was not Abigal at all. She had been christened Lynette.

17. Down a long road all sun and shadowy with trees overhead and a slow look from cows across a fence and you're there. You see buildings with barred windows and a few people in grey clothes.

18. This is a frontways view of Bunyip Bluegum and his Uncle Wattleberry. At a glance you can see what a fine, round, splendid fellow Bunyip Bluegum is, without me telling you.

19. The bush was alive with excitement. Mrs. Koala had a new baby, and the news spread like wild-fire.

20. Cadel Piggot was just seven years old when he first met Thaddeus Roth. Dr. Roth worked in a row house near Sydney Harbour.

21. Children know when there are secrets. The house where I grew up reeked of them.

22. It's so quiet. I don't know what the time is, maybe two o'clock, three o'clock.

23. It happened after we bought this house. I couldn't believe mum was serious, at first.

24. Captain James Cook was in his boat fishing for a Potato Cod.

25. In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia. Never had a colony been founded so far from it's parent state, or in ignorance of the land it occupied.

26. More foreigners are on the way. In Beresford's, someone looks up and sees Digby's truck float into view, suspended out there (maybe still twenty miles off, maybe only two) shimmering at the yellow edges of its cabin and rocking gently on the swell of its own heat wave.

27. All this you will come to understand but can never know, and all of it took place long, long ago in a world that has since perished into peat, in a forgotten winter on an island which few have ever heard.

28. Brightness falls from the air, and so do the words, which rush him. They swoop like starlings from the radio hooked to his belt, though before brightness, before Queens have died young and fair, the broadcast was blurred murmur, bits of music, bits of talk, voices heard but not listened to.

29. I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother's bedroom. She was asleep-so I thought-in the sunroom at the other end of the house.

30. The day before had been a day of rain and once again Lionel and I were busy in the chook yard. The summer rain started in the late afternoon.

31. "Stack me," said Limpy. "This is my lucky day."

32. Panic was my first reaction to the multiple choice options that lay on my desk in front of me. I glanced at the students around me before turning back to question three.

33. Keith's heart was pounding. Calm down, he thought. You're not robbing a bank. You're not kidnapping anybody. You're just painting a fish and chip shop orange.

34. Rose Pickles knew something bad was going to happen. Something really bad, this time.

35. For the first few days after Catherine's death, I find myself doing all the wrong things-though I'm not sure what the right things are. I'm fairly certain you're not supposed to lie in the bath listening to Abba when your girlfriend's just been killed in a car crash.

36. With the North Wind hard at his back, Scully stood in the doorway and sniffed. The cold breeze charged into the house, finding every recess and shadowy hollow.

37. This morning my mother didn't get out of bed. It meant I didn't have to go through one of her daily pep talks, which usually begin with a song that she puts on at 6:45 every morning.

38. What kind of house do you want to live in? Do you want to be a millionaire?

39. Eva Kennedy had just stepped into the cold March air when a watermelon rolled across the footpath in front of her.

40. The first time father was shot there was no warning. I was in the kitchen peeling potatoes with Emily.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joseph Lyons

Joseph Lyons was a Prime Minister.

At least I think he was.

Lord Wiki says I'm not wrong. Lyons was the tenth Prime Minister of Australia. He had the job from 1932 until 1939. He was there when the Nazis were rising in power...not in Australia, but in Europe.

Baby Joseph was born in Stanley Tasmania on 15 September 1879. I need to look at a map. I'm not sure where Stanley is.....

It's three hours north-west of Launceston....more west than north. I've been to Launceston, so it's my point of reference for Tasmania.

Daddy and Mommy Lyon were Irish immigrants with eight children. Daddy Lyon was a farmer. Later, he did butchery and bakery stuff. It seems he did well with this, but then health issues appeared. The family ran into some financial challenges. When Joseph was nine he was forced to leave school so he could work and bring some income into the family. Lord Wiki says he became a printer's devil. I've never heard of that term, but Lord Wiki has an explanation.

Well, basically it's an apprentice in the printing business. That's pretty easy to understand...not too complicated.

Fortunately for Lyons, he had some generous aunts who helped him get back into school. Although from what Lord Wiki says, this wasn't until his University education. He attended a teacher's training school in Hobart. He became a teacher. It seems around this time he also got involved with politics. He became active in trade unions, and joined the Labor Party.

At first, Lyons was involved with state politics. He was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1909. He would have been about thirty. While I was playing with the calculator, I checked to see how old he was when Australia became a Federation. He would have been about twenty-two. I wonder how he felt about it. I'm guessing for nonpolitical people, they probably barely noticed. But Lyons was a politically oriented guy. I'm guessing it was a big deal to him. I wonder if he was for or against the whole thing.

Anyway, back to his Parliamentary career. By 1914, Lyons was Finance Minister. He also became Minister of Education and Minister of Railways.

When he was Minister of Education, Lyons helped state school fees be abolished. He helped improve teacher's pay, and the first Tasmanian state high schools were established. It's sad that a man so passionate about school was forced to drop out when he was so young. But then again, maybe that's what made him so passionate about it. I don't know.

During his time in Parliament, Lyons got married. He met his future wife when she was fifteen. They got married when she was about seventeen. He was in his mid-thirties. I think such a relationship would be less socially accepted these days.

In 1916, the Labor Party had that big split because of conscription. Lyons was anti-conscription, and stayed in the Labor Party.

From 1923 until 1928, Lyons was Premier of Tasmania.

In 1929 he entered Federal politics. He had the seat of Wilmot. He was also given the job of PostMaster-General and Minister for Works and Railways. I wasn't sure what a PostMaster- General is responsible for. Lord Wiki says they deal with broadcasting communication. Today the job is known as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The current guy in that role is Stephen Conroy. He's not loved by many because of all the Internet censorship controversies.

A very short while after Lyons joined Federal Parliament, the Depression hit. James Scullin was Prime Minister, and his cabinet was split over how to respond to the situation. Lyons preferred a more conservative approach. The treasurer at the time was Ted Theodore. Theodore supported Keynesian economics.

I know I wrote about Keynesian before in the past, but I forgot what it was. Lord Wiki reminded me that it's kind of a compromise between capitalism and socialism. Because it's in the middle, it's attacked by both the left and right. Anyway, Theodore was into that, and Lyons supported it. Then Theodore had to resign because there were accusations of corruption. Was he guilty? I don't know.

I guess Prime Minister Scullin didn't trust anyone else to be Treasurer. He took the job himself. But for five months, he went to the UK for some conference. While he was there, Lyons got to be the acting Treasurer. His ideas attracted the support of businesses, but they aliened people in the Labor Party. They didn't like his plans to cut public spending and public salaries. I'm not an expert on economics, but I think the business folks liked him because his policies would make things easier on them. It sounds very much like the Republican vs. Democrat stuff I heard during the elections. One group wants to fix the economy by providing services and opportunity to people who need it. The other wants to fix the economy by helping businesses. Then in turn, the businesses will supposedly stimulate the economy.

There's some more Treasurer drama coming up. When Scullin returned from the UK, he reappointed Theodore. I guess the whole corruption accusation had fallen through. Lyons was a bit offended by this. He felt Scullin was rejecting his policies. I can relate to that....feeling rejected when someone else is chosen for a job. It happened to me when I was teaching. There was this little girl who seemed somewhat autistic. The school felt someone should work with her individually. I had the strongest connection to her. As a teacher, I seemed to connect well to the quiet and autistic-like children. If I remember correctly, at first they were thinking of letting me have the job. But then they decided to give it to another teacher. I don't remember which teacher it was. I just remember feeling rejected...and resentful. It's one thing to be rejected, but it's much worse when you feel you'd truly be best for the job. I've been rejected for many other tasks and jobs. Honestly, in most other cases I would have thought the people complete fools for hiring me.

As for Lyons, his feelings of rejection led him to resigning from the Cabinet. Soon after he resigned from the Labor Party. He wasn't the only one. A few others joined him, and they all joined the Nationalist Party. Then they soon formed The United Australia Party. I'm going to read what Lord Wiki has to say about them.

Okay. This is the group that eventually became The Liberal Party. I thought so, but hadn't been sure.

Lyons became the leader of the party.

At this time, there was something going on with that Jack Lange character. He was part of the Labor Party, but was defecting from them as well. He ended up taking the UAP's side over the Labor Party's side. This helped UAP get into power. Lyon became Prime Minister.

When he was Premier, Lyons stuck with his conservative economic policies. If I'm understanding Lord Wiki right, in terms of foreign policies, Lyons hoped to go the diplomatic route rather than the war one. But during his Premiership, an aircraft factory was opened. So it seems he was aware of the possibility of war.

Oh. I just read down further. Lyons was a pacifist. As war began to seem more and more likely, he became depressed. Then he died in office of a heart attack. I'm not sure if depression caused the heart attack.

Lord Wiki says Lyons was fairly well-liked as a leader, and his death caused much grief. He was fairly young when he died....fifty-nine. He left behind his wife and eleven children.

Lyon's wife Enid, and some of their children entered politics. Enid Lyons became the first woman to sit in the House of Representatives. That's a pretty big honor. Two of the sons of Joseph and Enid did state politics.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I'm going to take a break. Then I will look at the Aussie government Prime Minister site, and the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I think that will be my pattern for writing about dead Prime Ministers.

I'm back. I've decided I'm going to try and take more breaks while doing these posts. I tend to want to work straight through; or until Jack, Mu Shu, or my bladder wants my attention. The thing is I think my reading and comprehension suffers after awhile. So I'm going to try and take more breaks. I had a nice short one. I exercised while watching Jack play his video game. Then I cuddled with the cat.

Now I'm ready to read about Lyon's pre-office days on the government Prime Minister site.

Wow. This is interesting. They say what caused Lyon's early family economic troubles was a Melbourne Cup bet. Yikes. Lord Wiki says it had been caused by Daddy's Lyon's health. Maybe his health problem was a gambling addiction. Or maybe he had a health problem, AND made a bad bet.

Lord Wiki made it sound like Lyons quit school at age nine, and didn't return until he was of university age. But this site says he returned to school at the age of twelve. His aunts gave him the money needed for state school tuition. Later Lyons would help abolish those fees, so children wouldn't need to depend on generous relatives.

During his early political involvement, Lyon knew a woman named Eliza Burnell. Burnell had a daughter who was a teacher trainee. This was Enid, and she'd eventually become Lyon's wife.

Well, I read through the rest of the page. It pretty much said the same stuff that I learned from
Lord Wiki....no need to repeat all that. I'm going to move past the before-office stuff, and read the in-office stuff.

OH!!!! I just got HUGE exciting news. A few months ago, I tried to use our Disney Vacation Club points to go to the United Kingdom. After signing up for for the chance, I became extremely doubtful it would happen. Well, the Disney folks just called. We got it! If all goes well, we shall be going to London in September. I'm so excited! The funny thing is since I was so doubtful, I went ahead and used our points for a Disney World vacation as well. I had figured if we got the London thing, we could just borrow points. So this Autumn (American-time) we'll be doing London and Disney. Before that, we have Hawaii. I have so much to be excited about! Then we have Australia in 2012. Between all that we want to do some more road trips.

I'll have to put some of my three-years-in-advance Australia planning to do some London planning. I've been there once, but that was about eighteen years ago.

I should put aside all my excitement and joy, and get back to work.

The Prime Minister website says that Lyons had a successful campaign, and that was partly due to his wife. I guess people liked her. Well, obviously he had a successful election campaign. He won, didn't he?

Lyons was the first person to use an airplane for his campaigning. He was able to do a lot of traveling....meet a lot of people. This also might have helped in his popularity.

There's a bunch of economic stuff here. Honestly, I'm too excited and distracted to read too much into. I think I got enough information from Lord Wiki anyway. I don't want to go too much into depth.

The Fast Fact page of the Prime Minister site says that Lyons is the only Prime Minister to be born in Tasmania. I'm sure one day there will be another one.

All right. Now onto the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Lyons had an interesting middle name. Aloysius. I wonder what that means. Maybe it's Irish? Oh. This is funny. Lord Wiki says Aloysius is the first name of Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street.

This baby name website says Aloysius is Italian. It means famous warrior.

The biographical dictionary says that Daddy Lyons lost all the family money on a bet. Maybe this is why Lyons ended up being economically conservative. Although I think there's a huge difference between gambling and socialist-like economic policies.

It looks like Lyons got his start as an educator when he was fairly young. He was paid to help out with younger students. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I was in some kind of program where I got to help out with first graders. I don't remember much about it, but I think I loved it. When I was a kid, I always loved younger kids. I thought they were so cute.

In his early adult years, Lyons taught at country schools. I wonder which age group he worked with. At this time, he also became involved with debating and speech-making. This paved his way into politics. Interestingly, the education department was not keen on him entering politics. I'm not sure why.

Despite his later conservative economic policies, his social policies seem much more on the left. He supported free education and medical treatment for children. Tim and I talked about the whole health care debate. For people who are so against government health care, are they also against public education? Why can't there be private health care for those who can afford it, and public/government for those who can't?

Although I know some people are against public education. I know some homeschoolers resent paying taxes when they don't use the schools. My feeling is it's not always just about you and your family. Sometimes you have to think about others. Homeschooling is not a choice that all people want to make. And not all of those folks can provide private school. I think there always needs to be a free and public option. That's just my opinion. No family or child should be deprived of school if this is what they want.

The bio-dictionary says that there WERE some slight objections to the age difference in Joseph and Enid's marriage. Her father questioned it a bit. Although I guess he liked Lyons, so he let it go. The website says, His request raised some problems for Enid's father, who pointed out that if the suitor had not been Mr Lyons there would have been objections on the grounds of age and religion. I guess he made an exception for Lyons.

Lyons hated violence. He was against capital punishment. He didn't like war.

During World War I, Lyons became passionate about his Irish heritage. I'm not sure why that happened.

He saw himself as being socialist.

As for economics, he was conservative. He felt all government debts needed to be paid. I remember reading elsewhere that Jack Lange wanted to ignore/default on some loans. Again, I think Lyons conservativeness came from his experiences in childhood.

I thought Lord Wiki had said that Lyons supported Keynesian economics. But from what I read here, and the Prime Minister site, it looks like he didn't. He saw it as being too experimental. He didn't want to take chances...yeah, like his dad had taken chances.

Here it talks about Theodore getting the role that Lyons coveted. They say that Lyons protested because Theodore had NOT been cleared of the corruption charges. Yet he got the job anyway. I don't blame Lyons for being resentful.

Lyons was the first Prime Minister to use The Lodge in Canberra as a family home. Really? Oh okay. Yeah. I thought it had been someone else. Lord Wiki says Stanley Bruce and his wife were the first Prime Ministers to live there. But since they didn't have children, they didn't count as a family. I feel that's a bit unfair. I would count them as a family. I think it would be more precise to say that Lyons was the first Prime Minister to have children living in The Lodge.

Now Scullin who was between Bruce and Lyons didn't use The Lodge. He chose to use a hotel for his residence. Most other Prime Ministers have used The Lodge. John Howard is the well known exception. Ben Chifley, as well, chose to live elsewhere.

The bio-dictionary says that Lyons and his wife had a strong marriage.

What else.....

People saw him as being like a koala. That's because he refused to eat anything except Eucalyptus leaves. No, I'm joking. I'm guessing it was more about his demeanor.

He had a limp from a car accident.

He was fairly athletic.

He visited the cinema sometimes.

He drank moderately. Scotch was his drink of choice.

I love all this personal trivia.

I was going to see if there was anything fun on Google News Archives, but I'm having trouble with that for some reason.

So I'm going to say good-bye.

Friday, January 29, 2010

George Reid

I'm pretty sure George Reid was a Prime Minister....probably around Federation time. Maybe? The thing is when I saw his name, I thought he was a repeat. I felt I had written about him before. But I searched through my posts and couldn't find anything. I'm guessing maybe he popped up in my research on someone else.

The sad thing is I can't remember much about Federation. All I DO easily remember is that Federation Day was on 1 January 1901. Well, hey. At least I remember the date. I'm just hoping, that if Reid was involved with Federation, when I read stuff, it feels like a review to me. I'll be sad if all the information seems totally new.

Let's see....

Lord Wiki says that Reid was the fourth Prime Minister of Australia. He had the job from August 1904 until July 1905. That's less than a year.

Now let's rewind to the beginning.

Baby George was born in Scotland on 25 February 1845. His dad was a minister for the Church of Scotland. It's a Presbyterian thing.

Anyway, there was this other Scottish Minister who had come to Australia in 1823. This was John Dunmore Lang. Lang became the first Presbyterian minister in New South Wales. Then he started bringing more ministers over to Australia. Daddy Reid was one of them.

The Reid family migrated to Victoria in 1852. Little George would have been six or seven. I wonder how he felt about moving to a whole new country.

Daddy Reid worked at Scot's Church. George Reid attended school at Scotch College.

Oh, now I'm confused. Lord Wiki says Scot's Church is in Sydney. I guess maybe they started in Victoria and then moved to Sydney? Where is Scotch College?

Well, Lord Wiki says that's in Melbourne.

I'm lost. Why would the father move to Sydney, and leave his family behind in Melbourne?

Here's the website for the church in Sydney. They say they were started by the Lang guy. I wonder if he's related to the other Lang guy. What's his name? Jack?

Well, I added John Dunmore Lang to my list. So I'll try to figure that out when I get to him.

Okay. Here we go. Lord Wiki says the family moved to Sydney when Reid was thirteen. Was his father there before that, working at the church? Or did he work at another church before that?

Well, there IS a Scot's church in Melbourne. I'm guessing maybe Daddy Reid worked there, and then worked at the Sydney church.

I think I get it now, and why Lord Wiki confused me. He says, His family was one of many families brought out from Scotland by Rev Dr John Dunmore Lang with whom his father worked at Scots' Church, Sydney. So I assumed he immediately worked for him. Maybe the word "later" before "worked", and "with" after "at" would have made things more clearer to me.

At the age of thirteen, Reid got a job as a clerk. I'm not sure if he did this and also attended school; or whether he dropped out.

Then we jump ahead to the age of nineteen. He became the assistant accountant in the Colonial Treasurer Department.

In 1875, Reid published something called Five Essays on Free Trade. He would have been about thirty at that time. Anyway, people were impressed with his work. He was given honorary membership to something called the Cobden Club.

Lord Wiki says the Cobden Club was a gentleman's club in London, specifically for guys who supported free trade. So it make sense that they would like Reid's writings.

The club still exists. The membership prices are much lower than I imagined. Well, I gotta convert the pounds to dollars. Let me see. It would be $450 a year in Australian dollars. I mean that's a lot of money, but I would have expected it to be much more than that. Our yearly synagogue membership costs more, I think. I don't pay it because I don't want to be a member. We haven't paid in years, yet we still get mailings from them that seem to say we're still members. I don't know if Tim is secretly paying, or if my parents are paying for us...trying to keep us more Jewish. Or maybe the synagogue think we're a charity case? I don't know.

Anyway, I wonder if the Cobden Club is for free trade people still; or it is more general these days. I also wonder if it's less gender-specific. I don't see anything on their website that indicates they're only for men.

Reid did some more writing. In 1878, the government published his New South Wales The Mother Colony of the Australias. I wonder if the other colonies agreed with the mother colony honor; or were they resentful and competitive?

While Reid did all this writing, he also studied law. By 1879, he was a barrister.

Lord Wiki says that Reid was a great public speaker. His speeches were both funny and educational. People liked him, but not everyone did. Alfred Deakin was not a fan. The two men did not get along.

In 1890, Reid was elected into the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. But Lord Wiki says he wasn't too active. He was too busy with his law stuff. Why would he be in Parliament then? Why join if you're not going to be active?

I am so damn confused. Lord Wiki is going back and forth with dates. I don't know if there's a mistake here, or my brain is just not comprehending.

NOPE. I just misread the date. Oops. Reid was elected into NSW Parliament in 1880, NOT 1890. Okay, now everything makes sense. Lord Wiki said that he lost in seat in 1884. I was thinking, how could that be, if he wasn't even in it until 1890?!

Maybe I need glasses.

So yeah. Reid came in during 1880, and left in 1884. Then in 1885, he was reelected.

Henry Parkes (the Daddy of Federation) was Premier around this time. He tried to give Reid some ministry positions, but Reid wouldn't take them. He didn't like Parkes for personal reasons, and felt he wouldn't be able to work with him. I kind of admire that. I think a lot of people would do anything to further their careers, even if it meant working with someone they didn't like. Although it depends on what you don't like about someone. Is it because they're a bully, or a bigot? Or do you just not like the way they tell jokes, or the fact that they're obsessed with their snow globe collection?

This is interesting. Back then, members of Parliament were not paid. They had to get an income from elsewhere. That's one of the reasons, Reid did the law career thing. He was actually against the idea of Parliament Members getting a salary. When the law was passed to provide payment, he put his money back into the Treasury. Wow. From what I see so far, this guy really stood behind his principles.

Now we get to the 1890's...for real, this time.

In 1891, Reid got married. He and his wife Florence would end up having three kids. She was much younger than him, so had time to pop them all out.

Around this time, Parkes retired as leader of the Free Trade Party. Reid took his place. In 1894, he became Premier of New South Wales. The people on the opposite side of the political coin were the Protectionists. Edmund Barton was one of those. What was Deakin again?

Lord Wiki says he was Protectionist too.

Here's the thing. Reid supported the idea of Federation. But it was a bit complicated because those leading the movement were part of the Protectionist group. Therefore, he didn't get too involved with it all.

I guess he was a bit on the fence. He did some famous speech that became known as the yes-no speech. If I'm understanding this correctly, it's called that because people could not determine his verdict. He spoke for over an hour regarding his decision, and the listeners were left confused. I think what he basically said was that although he could not label himself a deserter of the cause (Federation) he could not go as far as recommending that people support it.

I might be reading this all wrong. If I am, please correct me.

After Australia became a Federation, Reid got himself into Federal Parliament. He got the seat of East Sydney. Who is there now?

Oh. No one. The seat is gone.

Reid became the first Leader of the Opposition. That's a pretty cool honor to have in history.

He had some job conflict stuff. At this time, Parliament was in Melbourne. His law office was in Sydney. He had trouble balancing it all, and he didn't want to give up his law job because it paid much more than Parliament. Maybe by this time, he was accepting the Parliamentary salary?

In 1903, Reid resigned from Parliament. Then he got himself back into it in 1904. I'm a bit confused about all that. I'm just going to skip over it. Maybe another website will make it clearer to me.

In 1904, Reid became Prime Minister. From what I'm reading here, he knew his run in office would be short. It has something to do with the Free Trade Party not having the majority in Parliament.

In 1909, Reid resigned from Parliament. He soon became the High Commissioner of London. I wasn't sure what that was. Lord Wiki says it means he was the Aussie diplomat to the UK. He was the first person to have that position, and he had it until 1916. So we can say Reid was the first Australian Leader of the Opposition, and the first diplomat to the UK.

Reid died in London in 1918, and he's buried in London. I'm a little offended that he didn't get himself buried in Australia. But I have to remember in those days, London and Australia were so connected.

All right, I'm going to move onto one of those other websites. Where should I go first...the government Prime Minister page, or The Australian Dictionary of Biography? Maybe I'll flip a coin.

I got myself a penny. Heads will be PM page, and tails will be the dictionary.

Heads!

So I'll go to the Prime Minister Page first. Reid sort of reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt. It might be the mustache. Roosevelt was President while Reid was Prime Minister. Maybe in those days, it was popular for leaders to have such a mustache.

Yeah. The Prime Minister of Britain at the time was Arthur Balfour. He had the same sort of mustache.

I'm going to read the Before Office Page.

Reid was the fifth of seven children. He was almost the baby, but not quite.

They arrived in Melbourne in 1952 during the gold rush. Now Lord Wiki gave me the idea that they came over for a church job. I'm guessing that's true, and it was just a coincidence that the gold rush was happening. OR maybe it wasn't exactly a coincidence. I know the gold rushes greatly increased the population of Australian. When you have more people, you usually end up needing more churches. If you have more churches, there's more jobs available for ministers.

In 1858, the family moved on east to Sydney.

Ah, there's something here that my little unschooling brain loves to hear. The website says, Reid remembered his first job as a great liberation from formal schooling, and the point when his education really began. Yeah. I think the real world provides a much better education than a classroom.

When he was fifteen, Reid joined a debating club. He was very good at that.

He was friendly and easygoing; well-liked by many people.

A lot of this stuff I saw on Lord Wiki's page, so I'm not going to repeat it.

Here's something I didn't get before. He was friends with Edmund Barton.

Besides being a big fan of free trade, Reid was also a fan of public libraries and public schools.

He was against the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act of 1889, even though many of his Free Trade buddies supported it. That's nice to know. Maybe he was less racist than most people of that time.

Now as for Federation, Barton had been Free Trade, but then switched to Protectionist. I'm guessing that probably effected Reid's opinion of Barton. He might have seen him as a traitor.

I think Reid supported Federation, but he worried about the free trade aspects....or lack of.

All right. Here's some information about the yes-no speech. What Reid said basically was that he personally WOULD be voting for Federation. However, he expressed to the voters what his reservations were regarding it all. Then he asked them to make up their own mind about voting.

That sounds like a pretty awesome and honest speech. It's better than politicians who pretend they're 100% behind something when they're really not.

Well, some people did not find this speech to be awesome. Barton and Deakin weren't pleased, especially since the referendum wasn't passed. I guess they put part of the blame on Reid.

It seems the friendship between Reid and Barton had pretty much shattered. When Barton became the first Prime Minister  he didn't give Reid a job in his ministry. Was Reid hurt by that? I don't know. He became Leader of the Opposition. I guess that was after Barton didn't invite him into his Ministry? I can't image that happening these days. I don't think people would go from being rejected from a ministry of one party to leader of the oppositional party. I'm thinking in those days, the line between parties was thinner.

Here the website talks about Reid's time as Prime Minister. I see further evidence that there was less of a division between parties. They say that Reid's Deputy Prime Minister was a Protectionist. His cabinet was made up of a combination of Free Trade and Protectionist people.

There was some complicated issue with the High Court while Reid was Prime Minister. I'll read and try to understand.

It involved Josiah Symon, the Attorney General. Symon was not happy with an amendment made to the Australian Constitution. This amendment said that Australian court cases could appeal in British courts. I guess he was one that wanted more independence from England.

Well, I'm failing to fully understand it. Maybe I'll get it someday. For now, I'll just leave it at there being some sort of conflict.

I'll also say I sneaked a peak at Lord Wiki's entry on Symon. He too has the same type of mustache. I did a little reading too. Basically, it seems Symon had issues with the High Court. He made life difficult for them, and Reid had to intervene somewhat.

After Reid was Prime Minister, he became leader of a new party. This was the Anti-Socialist Party.

Oh, wow. If I'm reading this correctly....Reid might have had a huge influence on Gallipoli. The ANZAC troops were originally to be sent to England, but Reid argued that the Middle Eastern climate would be better suited for them. On Christmas Eve, he visited the troops while they were camped out near the Egyptian pyramids. Four months later, many of those men were killed. I wonder if Reid felt some guilt over that....or at least maybe regret.

Well, this makes me feel better. Although he was buried in London, the Australian flag was draped over his coffin.

This is weird though. I figured maybe he was buried in London because he had died there, and people felt it was too annoying to have to move the body. But this page says he died in Sydney. Why the hell was he not buried in Sydney? Now I might like to be buried or have my ashes in Australia. But that's different. I'm not the President of the United States. I think there's something a bit rude about being the leader of a country, and then wanting to be buried elsewhere. Although maybe it's not what Reid wanted. Maybe he didn't specify, and England just really wanted his body in their ground.

Well, lastly I'm going to look at the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I'm going to give it a quick read, and see if there's stuff I haven't yet learned from the other sites.

They say Reid was known as being a bon vivant. I didn't know what that meant, so I looked it up. An online dictionary says it's a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

He liked food. He liked wine. And it seems he also liked women.

I can picture that sort of person.

The website says that in 1879, Reid submitted a long poem to the Sydney International Exhibit. It was known as being an awful poem, and Reid was later embarrassed every time it was brought up. That's pretty funny.

The other websites said that Reid stayed fairly inactive in politics because he was working as a barrister. This website ads that it wasn't just his work that kept Reid busy. He also wanted to maintain his active social life.

They talk about how Reid was very much against restricting Chinese Immigration. It's interesting to me. In America, it seems the Free Trade/Anti-Socialist folks are the ones more likely to be anti-immigrant. It's us socialist-types who seem to be more welcoming. And I think that's the same with Australia today. The more economically liberal folks seem less welcoming to immigrants...asylum seekers and all that.

As for America's immigration issue...specifically the one with Mexico. I'm getting into the idea of Mexico becoming another American state. The idea came to me a few weeks ago. It makes sense. So many Mexicans come here illegally. If Mexico is a state, it would make them automatic citizens. Then we wouldn't have people whining about illegal immigrants. We'd also have a ton more space. As any good ideas that appear in my brain, it's doubtful that I've actually thought of something original. So I just looked it up. Lord Wiki says there is indeed a movement to make Mexico a state. It wouldn't be one state though. It would be 10-15 states. Wow. I think that would be cool. We're so close and connected anyway....at least here in Texas. We might as well bond together and become one. I think if it happens though, we'd definitely need to make Spanish an official language of the United States. It pretty much is, anyway.

Back to Reid.....

The website says his sense of humor was very entertaining at times, but it could also be a bit biting. Then again, there were a lot of jokes directed at him....especially about his weight. He was very obese. But it seemed he took the jokes in stride. Once a heckler inferred that Reid's big belly was a pregnancy. Instead of acting hurt, Reid managed to joke back.

Reid was gregarious. He had impressive social skills, yet he didn't have many close friends. I can understand that. I know it's said by many that it's better to have a few close friends rather than have a lot of casual friends/ acquaintances. But sometimes it's so hard to trust people, and it's hard to find REAL friends. I would probably personally prefer to have a few close true friends, but I'm finding it feels safer and easier not to put all my eggs in one or two baskets.

Anyway, I'm going to quit and go do something else.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rolf De Heer

Rolf De Heer is the guy that made Ten Canoes. At least I think he is. I wrote about that movie recently, so it would be a shame if I'm wrong.

Lord Wiki says I'm right. What a relief.

He made Ten Canoes AND The Tracker. I forgot about the latter. Both movies featured David Gulpilil. Okay, there's something else I forgot....how to spell that guy's last name. I had to go look it up. In my mind I was saying, David Gu....something.

I had a brief look at De Heer's filmography. It says he produced The Sound of One Hand Clapping. Did I know there was a movie of that? I don't think so. But maybe I did. I'm having some deja vu. I feel like I've learned that information before, and was surprised back then. Maybe in a few months, I'll read about the movie and be surprised again.

De Heer was both in The Netherlands, on 4 May 1951.

He moved to Australia when he was eight.

He attended AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School).

Lord Wiki doesn't have much beyond that....just lists of his awards and movies.

Wait. Here's something. De Heer's production company is called Vertigo Productions. Here's their website. I love the color scheme on their graphics. To me, it has a 1970's feel. I'm feeling all nostalgic for Saturday rollerskating adventures. The graphics are animated. It's moving about in a way that's supposed to simulate vertigo. Pretty clever.

I think they have information about each of De Heer's movies....or most of them, at least.

I'll look at all of them.

The problem is my internet is so slow today. I'm going to need to twiddle my thumbs or something.

All right. Here's the first movie on the list. It's from 1984, and it's called Tail of a Tiger. They have a photo from the movie. There's a kid. She/he reminds me of the kid in the kick-the-can segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

This page has a synopsis of the movie. It's about a child who's obsessed with airplanes. Then he finds an old abandoned plane. It seems the movie is about him trying to get it flying again. I bet it's one of those feel-good tear-jerker type things. The plane he wants to rescue is called a Tiger Moth. So that's where you get the title.

I guess it's considered a kid movie. This page has the awards it was honored with. It won something from Kinderfest at the Berlin Film Festival. I'm guessing kinder refers to children. Then the movie also won a second place award from the Chicago International Film Festival of Children's Films. I didn't know Chicago had such a program. It looks really cool. They even have a film summer camp for kids.

The next Rolf De Heer movie came out in 1988. This was Incident at Raven's Gate. The tagline plays off of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It says, a total encounter of the nightmare kind. I wonder if it's about alien abduction.

The Synopsis on the website says I'm right. It IS an alien thing. Lord Wiki also has information about the film. He says it takes place in a rural South Australia town. I don't get it. Lord Wiki makes a big deal about it being cross-genre. He says that it's part thriller, part science fiction, and part psychological drama. What's the big deal? Aren't many science fiction films also thrillers and psychological dramas? I would say that most are actually. And then you have others that are comedies and/or adventures. But I can't imagine there being a science fiction drama that does not have these elements. When weird things happen to people, they're scared, and then we get scared. There you have the thriller aspect of it. And all this stress of the weirdness creates psychological issues in the characters. How could it not?

The next movie from Vertigo Productions came out in 1991. This was Dingo. From the picture on the site, I can guess it's not about dogs, but about musicians. I'd personally prefer a movie about dogs.

The movie is about jazz. That in itself sounds really boring to me. I'm not a huge fan of movies about musicians. But I like what's here on the synopsis page, although it kind of gives the whole story away. I won't. I'll just say it's about a boy named Dingo who lives in a small Australia town. A plane of jazz musicians has to land in their town for some reason. The boy is influenced and inspired by the musicians. Then they leave, and....Well, I won't give the rest away. If you want to know more, click on the link.

IMDb says that De Heer got an AFI nomination for the film. But he didn't win. That's okay. We can't all win everything.

The next movie was Bad Boy Bubby. This came out in 1993. It's about a man who's been held prisoner by his mother his whole life. He has never left her house. She used psychological warfare--telling him the outside world was poisonous. It sounds like it could be very dark and depressing. But it's a comedy-drama. Maybe that's because the movie deals with his life after he gets out of the prison.

Lord Wiki says some interesting things about the movie. He says the film had several directors of photography. Each one of them was assigned to a different location in the movie. That is so cool.

The movie won several awards and honors. I guess this was De Heer's first major success.

It did have some controversy because it contains some cat death scenes. The IMDb trivia page says the cat was not really suffocated. It was euthanized by a vet. That's still sad. You'd think that since this cat donated his acting services, someone on set would have the decency to adopt him. Or was he sick? I hope they didn't kill him just for the sake of the movie.

Here's a trailer for the film. Crap. I'm having major Internet problems today. YouTube keeps hiccuping on me. This is incredibly frustrating.

I'm just going to move onto the next movie, while Bad Boy Bubby hiccups in the background.

The next movie by Vertigo Productions was called Epsilon. The tagline is How much warning do you need? I'm intrigued. It sounds like a horror movie, but the imagery makes it look like a romance.

Oh. Okay. I get it. It's science fiction and romance. The synopsis page says it's about a woman from another planet who falls to earth. She and an earthing fall in love. How sweet.

I'm just sitting here waiting for the page to load. Tim says he's probably going to help me update my computer's operating system. Hopefully, that will solve some of my problem.

I should limit my complaining though. It's not like my town has been ravaged by an earthquake.

I'm going to move onto the next movie. I was just trying to get some extra insight from IMDb, but it was taking too long for the pages to load.

The next movie was The Quiet Room. The tagline for this is What do you do with adults that behave like children? I think most adults act like children most of the time. Outside of size and voice type, I really don't see much difference between children and adults. Yeah. For some, the interests are different. Adults tend to like stuff like alcohol and antiques. Kids like lollipops and unicorns. But in terms of maturity, I don't see a huge gulf between the two.

I'm not saying that kids are as mature as adults. I'm saying adults are as immature as kids.

The movie is about a drama. It's about a little girl who stops talking. Yeah. I can understand how tempting that is.

From what I've read and experienced, I think elective mutism is similar to anorexia. It's about trying to feel some control when you feel like you have little of it.

I just watched the trailer. YouTube decided to finally work for me. It looks like a beautiful film. The non-talking child is dealing with parents on the verge of separation. I love the line when she talks about people thinking she's stupid if she starts talking again. When I was student teaching in a preschool classroom, we had a nontalker. She DID talk at home. But she greatly limited her speech in school. I'm pretty sure a fear develops regarding people making a big deal if/when she did talk. If my memory serves me correctly, I think we DID avoid this. I mean it would be awful to start parading around. She's talking! She's talking. I think it's better to try to act casual.

It's the same with eating disorders. It would probably not be helpful to shout out at the table. Oh! So you're eating now! No more starvation, huh? I never had that fortunately. Once my mom said something like Are you going to have a piece of cake, or are you still on that diet? That didn't make me feel too good. It made me feel STUPID for wanting to eat normally again. This came after I told everyone I had an eating disorder and was trying to recover from it. Maybe I WOULD have preferred them cheering for my eating. But silent acceptance would have probably been best. Or subtle encouragement maybe. Sometimes silence gives me the idea that people don't notice, don't listen, and don't care.

I wonder how the parents in the movie react. Well, the trailer shows a little bit of it. It shows their initial reaction. But I wonder what they did next.

The next movie came out in 1998. It was called Dance Me To My Song. It's about a woman who's stuck in her wheelchair, and she doesn't like her carer.

A few days ago I considered quitting this blog. I asked for a certain sign from the universe about whether I should continue. I got the message I should continue. But now with my Internet working so slow..... Well, maybe I'm getting the opposite message. It's really hard to work this way.

I DO love writing this blog, but there are aspects I don't like. It's hard for me to quit though because I have this huge list of names, and I want to learn about all of them. I thought of just reading about them, but I don't learn as much when I don't also write about them. I could just write for myself, but I feel weird doing that. When I write, I like to imagine that someone's going to read it and be interested. I guess I could imagine that my fairy godmother is reading.....

Here we go. I can stop blabbing. My page loaded. IMDb says the movie was nominated for some awards. Good.

The production notes on the Vertigo site are interesting. The movie was written by a woman who has cerebral palsy. She also stars in the film.

The next movie is The Old Man Who Read Love Stories. Oh! I THOUGHT that looked like Richard Dreyfuss, but I figured I was mistaken. But it is him. The synopsis says so. It's about a man who lives in the jungle. And he likes romance stories. The story involves man-eating jaguars. Ah. That sounds fairly exciting.

Speaking of Richard Dreyfuss. Last night I dreamed about Jaws. I was on a boat with two other people, and we were characters in the movie. I asked them if we were meant to die in the film, and they said yes. I wasn't too happy about that, and suggested that perhaps we could change our fate by going in a different direction with our boat. Can taking a different route change your destiny?

We headed towards the dock in the harbour. As we got closer, we saw a shark attacking a boat closer to the dock. Oops. Wrong choice. This led me to believe that you can't run from your destiny. Although we did try, of course. The shark got us. Before getting eaten, I wondered if it would hurt. It didn't. I felt the shark biting into me, but I didn't feel pain.

Wow. This film has a lot of production notes. Is there like a whole novel here?

Oh. This one is funny. When they were casting, a British actor showed interest in the film. He knew nothing of De Heer's work. Then he watched some of his earlier movies. De Heer's company got a note from the actor's people saying, My client does not wish to spend three months in the jungle with a madman.

Well, I'm guessing most directors are madmen (or women) to some degree. The same probably goes for actors. Most creative people are a bit nuts.

Then this next story is kind of funny. It talks about how De Heer did not want Dreyfuss for the role. He felt he was wrong for the part. But the name came up a few times, and he decided to give him a chance. Then it turned out Dreyfuss felt the same way. He thought he was wrong for the part.

De Heer talks about how the film was supposed to be filmed in Venezuela. When they did the location scouting, it was beautiful and perfect. When it came time to make the movie though, there was political upheaval.....kidnapping stuff. De Heer was asked to pay for kidnapping insurance for Dreyfuss. Yikes.

They changed the filming location to a place in France. Well, actually it's a French owned island near South America. French Guiana. I had never heard of that before today. So cool. I've just learned something new.

Hugo Weaving is in the movie. I don't remember mentioning the film when I wrote about him. Maybe I did, and I've just forgotten. What's worse, negligence when writing these posts...or a faulty memory? I don't know.

The next movie was one of the David Gulpilil ones. The Tracker. The tagline for this is All men choose the path they walk. I agree with that, but I think certain things push us to take certain paths. But in the end, I guess ultimately it's our choice. I do feel that something out there pushed me to get involved with Australia. But I could have said no. Right?

I talked about this movie recently in the Gulpilil post, so I won't go too much into it again. I'll read the production notes. That may have something new and interesting. It says De Heer had written the treatment ten years earlier when writing a different film.

The page talks about the neck chain restraint that Gulpilil wore in the movie. This was used in Australian history for Aboriginals and convicts. Then they stopped using it for convicts, but used it a long time after for Aboriginals. It's sad. I think it's so hard to see humans being treated like animals....even though humans ARE animals. And frankly, I think it's hard to see nonhuman animals being treated like animals. I mean I don't have a problem with animals drinking out from a bowl on the floor. And I don't think we really need to give them driving licenses and library cards. But we went to the Fort Worth Stock show, and I thought it was sad to see the animals chained up and used that way. Maybe it's because I realize that humans were once treated like that in America.

My parents loved seeing the animals. They love that stuff. I bitched at them about making a vegetarian like me endure such a spectacle. My mom said, But you drink milk, don't you? I mumbled something in my defense, but really....She was right. I was being a total hypocrite.


Oh, this made me feel like crying a bit. They had Gulpilil and the other actors try the chains on for the first time. Gulpilil says, When David tried one on - we shook our heads in a collective and belated ‘sorry’.

There are so many things we have to say sorry about, and we keep creating more and more.

Really. We treat humans like crap. We treat nonhuman animals like crap. But sometimes we're nice. Right? I'm trying to think POSITIVE.

There was a Rolf De Heer movie between The Tracker and Ten Canoes. This was called Alexandra's Project.

I'm reading the synopsis. It sounds interesting. It's about a man who suddenly learns his wife isn't happy in the marriage. Okay, that's a very simplistic description. I don't want to give much away. I'm just not sure what would be too much.

Let's just watch the trailer. We'll see how much that gives away.

That's pretty intense. It's kind of a drama thriller type thing.

It's about a woman who has major secrets, and a husband who doesn't notice.

Some of the production notes are interesting. A lot of the movie is scenes of the husband watching a video the wife made him. They filmed the video tape scene weeks before so it would be ready for the husband character to watch it on set. They didn't have him watch the videotape until the camera was rolling. They felt this way his reaction to it would be more authentic.

They say the movie might create difficult conversations and debates between men and women. On the trailer, one of the film critics is quoted as saying, a profoundly squirmy date movie.

It deals with a major issue in marriage and hetero-romantic relationships. As a generalization (but often true one) women want men to know when something is wrong. Men don't get this. They want us to be direct. Better yet, they want us to not HAVE anything wrong.

One night, I was on the couch with Tim and Jack. I started to say something, but then said, Never mind. The translation for that is I have something I want to say, but I feel embarrassed and stupid to say it. If you coax it out of me, I'll say it.

Jack asked me what I had wanted to say. He wanted to know.

Tim said something like, Jack, when someone says never mind, that means they don't want to talk about it. Yeah. For men, it might! It probably means, Leave me alone. Drop the subject. For most women, it usually doesn't mean that.


If I truly wanted the subject dropped, I'd probably say I'm busy. Maybe we'll talk about it later. OR maybe simply. Let's drop the subject. I can't think of times I've done that in my marriage. But I do it in emails sometimes. And then I truly mean it. I WANT the subject dropped. I'm more direct and upfront in my writing. In real life, I'm more hesitant at times. Certain members of my family interrupt...a lot. You start to tell a story or reveal something, and they turn around to talk to someone else. Or they notice something adorable that they must immediately gush over. That makes me feel shy, like what I'm saying is not worth it. Sometimes I'll be strong and keep pushing it. I talk. I wait. I try to get their attention. I talk. I wait again. I keep going. Other times, I just give up. Sometimes, I hope they'll remember and say Oh, I'm sorry. What were you saying again? But they rarely do.

And it's not like I'm a perfect listener either. Maybe I'm just as bad. Maybe it's genetic. Anyway, I should watch out for that...make sure I'm not repeating behaviors I don't like in others.

Anyway, as for the movie. I can relate to the marriage issues in it. I won't go into all that right now. I feel like being a LITTLE private. Plus, things are really great right now. Oh shit. At least I think so. Wouldn't it be ironic if now Tim is the one who's unhappy, and I'm totally oblivious? That would suck.

Let's move onto the next movie. Ten Canoes. I read a little about this when I read about David Gulpilil, but I'm not sure I really got a sense of what it's about. So I look forward to reading the synopsis. I just know it's about Aboriginal people. They speak their Aboriginal language in the movie. And unlike most Aussie movies involving Aborigines, this one is not about white-black relations. To me, that's quite a breakthrough.

The story is about a young man who covets his brother's wife. To help him through this, a storyteller tells him a mythical tale.

The movie won the AFI award for best film. And it won other important awards, but I'm not going to list them all.

The last movie on the Vertigo Productions site is Dr. Plonk. It looks like it's a black and white comedy; not as in race relations, but the coloring of the film. It's about a scientist from 1907 who believes the world will end in 101 years. He then visits the future which is 2007. Well, I guess he wanted to get there a year earlier. You need time to change the future/past...whatever.

I just read John Marsden's time traveling story. Out of Time. It totally confused me, but I liked it. I'm just not sure I understand what was happening. There's all these stories that don't seem to connect. But the thing is, they were interesting stories so I didn't mind. Despite being totally lost, I was never bored.

Here's the trailer.  for Dr. Plonk.  Oh cool. They've made it look like an old fashioned silent movie. It looks really fun. I'm not sure I'd want to sit through two hours of it. What am I saying? I rarely want to sit through two hours of ANY movie!

The production notes are interesting. They talk about how it was not so easy to make a movie like that in the twenty-first century. First they tried using a really old camera. That didn't work...something to do with the film stock. They ended up using a much more modern camera, and found ways to adapt. Well, it looks like they did a good job with it.

In 2008, there was a follow up to Ten Canoes. I don't see it mentioned on the Vertigo site though. Maybe De Heer did it without his company? If I'm understanding things right, it wasn't released as a movie. It's a website project. It looks really cool. There's all these Aboriginal pictures. I guess you're supposed to click on one. I'm going to pick the one that looks like a snake.

Now I'm asked to pick a language...English or Yolngu. I'm picking the latter. I LOVE how it sounds. I do hope the video is subtitled though.

The video I chose is called "Plants and Animals".

It's buffering.

I'm waiting.

Still waiting......

While I wait, I'll try to get more information.

Ah. Something just moved. It was a crocodile. Very scary. I don't much like those things. Sorry, Steve Irwin.

Now it's buffering again.

This website has some information about the various canoe projects. Ten Canoes came first. Then there was Eleven Canoes. This project was to teach teens of the Ramingining Community how to make documentaries. Twelve Canoes is what I'm TRYING to watch now. It's a multimedia thing.

Thirteen Canoes is a gallery exhibit at the South Australia Museum. And Fourteen Canoes will be at a museum in Victoria. It will also be in a book.

This canoe thing might go on forever.

The movie is slowing moving. I just saw a cockatoo fly away. I love those guys.

I'm now seeing a flower, a snake skin, and a butterfly.

Well, I'm going to quit this post. I'll keep trying to watch the movie though. It looks good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thomas Ley

I added Thomas Ley to my list on 17 July, at 11:03 a.m....probably when researching somebody else. So he could be ANYBODY. I have no idea. Will he be a filmmaker? A politician? A murderer? An author? Actor? Lawyer?

What could it be?

I'm so excited to find out. Seriously. I am. I'm not being sarcastic; and I'm not exaggerating.

Ah! Lord Wiki says he's TWO of the above. It's actually kind of funny that I mentioned one of them because it's not the type of person I usually write about. I must have subconsciously remembered his name.

Thomas Ley was a politician AND murderer. I doubt this will be a boring research day.

Baby Thomas was born in Bath, England on 28 October 1880. For some reason, my fingers just typed 1978 instead of 1880. Why? I don't know.

When Thomas was about two-years-old his father died. When he was around six-years-old, his mom brought Thomas and his three siblings to Australia. I'm guessing they were part of that assisted migrant thing. I tried to find dates for that program the other day, but couldn't find it. Oh well. You know, I'm thinking it was probably ongoing.

In Sydney, Ley attended the Crown Street Public School. If I'm looking at the right school, it's in Surrey Hills.

Ley went to school until he was ten. Then he worked at his mother's grocery store. When he was fourteen, he moved onto working at a solicitor's office.

In 1898 he got married. Both he and his wife were into politics.

In 1917, Ley joined the New South Wales Parliament. He was in that until 1925. At first he was in the seat of Hurstville via the Nationalist Party. Then he was in the seat of St. George via the Progressive Party.

Is he the guy who killed another politician? Or am I thinking of someone else?

I want to remind myself what the Nationalist Party was.....

Lord Wiki says it was led by Billy Hughes. It was pro-conscription Labor Party defectors.

As for the Progressive Party, Lord Wiki says there were two of them in Australia....not related to each other. The first existed from 1901 to 1907. The second appeared in New South Wales from 1920-1927. The members of the latter one eventually drifted into the Country Party.

Ley was an advocate for something called Proportional Representation. Lord Wiki has a LONG explanation about it, and it looks complicated. I'll try to read it, and understand.

Well, I tried to read it, but it was way too confusing for me. I DID get that it's somehow related to preferential voting.

This government website has some information. Maybe I'll understand it better than Lord Wiki's stuff.

Yikes. I am so not intelligent enough for all this. Well, it took me about thirty-six years to somewhat understand the American voting system. Maybe by the time I'm sixty, I'll understand the Australian one.

I'm going to look at one more website and see if it helps me. After that I'm giving up.

See, there's talk of quotas. It's confusing to me. Basically there's a formula. You divide the amount of votes by the amount of candidates. Then you add one (+1) to that. In order to win, the candidate must have the quota. So if you have 2000 voters and four candidates, the winner would need to have 501 votes. But isn't that a complicated way of saying the winner is the one who has the most votes? If you get 499 votes, then there'd be a candidate who got more votes then you.

I am totally lost.

Oh! I think I got it. It's about the preferential votes! You have to get a quota of #1's in the preferential votes. So someone might have a lot of votes, but they weren't the first choice of many voters. I think you have to be the FIRST choice of enough people.

One of the benefits of all this crazy complicated stuff is that it gives minority parties and independents a chance to get into Parliament. In my not-so-humble opinion, that makes it all worth it.

So I have something in common with a murderer. I support this proportional representation thing. AND we also both abstain from alcohol. Because of this Thomas Ley had the nickname Lemonade Ley. That's cute.

The Temperance Movement was probably pleased with him. But then they were angry because he supported legistlation which would make it easier to sell alcohol. Maybe he personally avoided alcohol, but didn't judge others who used it.

I think I know where I am now in terms of that. I have no interest in drinking. I think it tastes gross, first of all. I've tried it a few times, and it just made me feel yucky. And I also don't like the sense of feeling out of control. Oh and then there's the vomit issue. I have a vomit phobia, and I stay away from anything that will increase my chance of too much toilet-bonding.

As for other people drinking, I DO judge them for it, if it causes problems. If drinking makes them violent, I think they should stop. If it's giving them health problems, I think they should stop. If they act like an obnoxious fool, I think they should stop. If they don't know how to enjoy life without getting drunk, I think they're pathetic, and they should stop.

If drinking makes people relaxed and happy; and it causes them no major problems....I'd say go for it. You have your beer. I'll have my chocolate. Differences make the world go round.

So, there's where I stand on that issue.

Oh! Good drama here. Lord Wiki says there's this idea that MAYBE Ley was being paid off by the brewery people. Well, there's a man who didn't stand by his principles.

Anyway, after his time in Parliament, Ley did the judicial thing. He became the Minister for Justice. Lord Wiki says he earned a reputation for harsh judgments.

Then in 1925, Ley went Federal. He had the seat of Barton. And THIS is the story I was thinking about. It's believed that Ley had his competition killed. That would have been Frederick McDonald. This is so Macbeth.

It looks like it started with Ley bribing McDonald. He tried to get him to withdraw from the election. McDonald not only refused. He came public with the information. Ley still managed to win, but McDonald tried to appeal the situation in court. Then he mysteriously disappeared.

Now there doesn't seem to be any real proof of Ley murdering McDonald. It could have been an unfortunate coincidence. I guess though other stuff happened that made Ley look suspicious.

In 1927, someone who publicly criticized Ley fell of a cliff in Coogee. Then later an ex-associate of Ley's was hired to investigate Ley. He fell off a boat and drowned.

Either Ley was hiring people to kill his enemies, or he was cursed. Although some wicked folks might say blessed. Maybe he was magical and just WISHED people to die. It's like The Secret! If you really want something....wish it, and it's guaranteed to come true.

OR it could have all been a simple coincidence.

Ah, there's something else fishy here. Lord Wiki mentioned something, and it all sounded a bit random. But I should have read between the lines. While Ley was Minister for Justice, he was introduced to the wife of a magistrate. The women's husband died. Ley then helped her with financial and legal matters. Then a few years later, Ley left HIS wife and ran off to England with this woman.

Could he have maybe killed this woman's husband?

I don't know......

In England, Ley began to suspect his mistress and a barman were having an affair. He told two of his labourers that the barman was a blackmailer, and got them to kill him. Lord Wiki says there were two labourers, but only one went to trial with Ley. I'm confused.

Anyway, they were sentenced to death. But their sentence was eventually changed to life imprisonment. Ley ended up in an insane asylum, and then died in 1947.

That's it for Lord Wiki. Although he provides a link to this ABC transcript regarding Ley.

It says the reason Ley was known as being a harsh Minister of Justice was that he strongly supported the death penalty. Yet ironically, he was able to bypass that himself when he commited his own crime.

He didn't just have the nickname Lemonade Ley. He also had the nickname the Hanging Minister.

The transcript says that Ley managed to have ample wealth. He was a rich man when living in England....owned various properties. I wonder how he got to be so rich? Was it from politics alone? Maybe he had taken bribes other than the brewery ones.

A guy named John Sackar is quoted as saying:

He was probably as close to evil as I think anyone could be. It's very difficult to see any redeeming feature that Thomas Ley had. He could function, it seems, simultaneously at a number of levels. He could be a husband, he could be a politician, he could be a father and he could be a murderer, and, presumably, slept like a top.

I have a hard time understanding people like that. I do the tiniest things and feel horribly guilty about it. Sometimes maybe I feel too much guilt. But I think it's better to feel too much guilt than not enough.

The transcript says that when Ley was working as a teen, he also attended night school. He had a strong desire to raise himself out of poverty. He lied about his age so he could marry a wealthy older woman. The narrator of the program says, When it came to social status, Ley was unstoppable. It's not always so horrible to want to raise yourself to a higher social status. It is very bad if you lie and murder to get there.

Wow. This gives a different take on the whole Lemonade Ley thing. I thought from Lord Wiki that other people had given him the name. Here it says, he gave himself the name. He might not have been anti-drinking at all. This stance was a way to kiss up to voters. Then once he got in, it was revealed that he had been getting money from the breweries.

The transcript gives more details about Ley and McDonald. McDonald claimed Ley bribed him. Ley denied the claims. McDonald kept at it, and Ley threatened to sue for defamation. McDonald backed down. He even apologized. AND he signed a document that put Ley at ease.

All was fine.

For awhile.

Then McDonald changed his mind. He came forward again with accusations of bribery.

Oh no! Poor Ley. What's he going to do now?

Well, no problem. McDonald mysteriously disappeared. His body has never been found.

Now onto the next murder story. This victim was named Hyman Goldstein.

Ley was involved with setting up a poison company. No, it wasn't about poisoning his human enemies. It was a farm thing. He wanted to get rid of prickly pears. I guess they were seen as a pest. Goldstein is one of the people who invested in the company.

Ley ended up stealing funds from the company, and he used it to go on holiday with his mistress.

Goldstein's son is interviewed for the program. It looks like the family had dire financial issues because of what happened. Goldstein led a court case against Ley. Goldstein junior saw his father frightened by phone calls. He believes the phone calls came from Ley. One evening he went out for a walk. He was later found dead, at the bottom of a cliff.

The transcript says that Ley made his wealth in London with illegal gambling programs.

All right. I'm done with that. Now I'm going to read the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.....see if there's anything different there.

They say his mother WITHDREW him from school so he could help with her grocery store. I wonder how he felt about that. If he was not happy with it, it may have contributed to his later character. From what I've read, Ley didn't want to be working class. He had high aspirations. Being forced to leave school might have made him antagonistic.

Ley's aspired to be in law, and he made that happen. I have to admire him for that. He did the night school thing, and he got a job in a solicitor's office. Then he became an apprentice at Norton, Smith and Co.

The biographical dictionary says, Although detested by many in his own party, Ley was a 'fluent speaker, with a most unctuous manner', and deluded many with his community work and pious utterances.

Yeah. I'm weary of people like that sometimes. I think some people do community work because they TRULY care. I think others do it because it makes them feel and appear like decent humans. It's hard to criticize someone who has adopted twenty-five handicapped children from overseas, is on the head of seven charity boards, and spends each weekend working at a homeless shelter. And some of these people ARE truly good. But I think some others keep busy with volunteer work to compensate for something.

A while back, some bloggers posted a story about a poor unfortunate firefighter....a man loved by the community. His wife has stolen their child and ran off overseas. The fireman pleaded for people to help him find his wife and child. His wife was mentally unstable and he worried about his child. Of course, the fireman is telling the truth. He's a fireman. We have to trust THOSE people. They're heroes.

My gut feeling told me something entirely different. I saw a woman who was sick of people not seeing who she was truly married to. People can be heroes to their communities, and monsters at home.

Now I might be wrong. The fireman could have been completely good and honest. I'm just saying that I don't quickly trust and believe someone simply because they have a respectable position in the community.

Anyway, I think I'm done with my research for today. That's a fascinating story. Sadly, although Thomas Ley is no longer with us, there are plenty of people out there who are just like him. The world has way too much selfishness, greed, violence dishonesty, apathy, and hypocrisy. Hopefully there is enough kindness out there to balance it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dorothy Wall

Dorothy Wall wrote the Blinky Bill thing. I have the book. I read it. I didn't like it that much. I would have probably been okay reading a Blinky Bill short story. I just got bored with a whole novel of it.

People may say this is because I'm an adult, and the book is for kids. But I read a lot of kid's books and love them.

 I don't know. Maybe it's just not my thing. And it bothered me that the book uses the term bear for Koala. That's rude of me to be bothered by that. Probably in those days, people didn't know koalas weren't bears.

Maybe it IS about me being an adult. When it comes to children's television: Some stuff I watch with Jack, and I totally love it. With other stuff, watching it with him borders on torture.

Anyway, I could struggle to explain WHY I don't like Blinky Bill. But it's probably best to move on and talk about its author.

Lord Wiki says that Dorothy Wall was born in New Zealand, on 12 January 1894. May Gibbs was born in January too!

I guess she had an art thing going on. At the age of ten, she won a scholarship for her art. That seems pretty impressive to me. Her drawings are cute. I'm looking at Blinky Bill right now. Although I prefer the May Gibbs stuff. Just a personal preference. Maybe I prefer mystical creatures over anthropomorphic animals? But I do love Arthur, and that's totally anthropomorphic.

In 1914, Wall immigrated to Australia. I'm guessing she went with her whole family. She would have been ten then; so did the scholarship come from New Zealand or Australia?

She worked for a newspaper. Lord Wiki says it was called The Sun. When I googled it, the first item on the search was The Sydney Morning Herald. Further down, I got The Sun Herald. I'm getting the idea that The Sun Herald is SMH's Sunday paper?

Anyway, The Sun that Wall worked for might have been something completely different.

In 1920, Wall published her first children's story. It was called "Tommy Bear and the Zookies". Lord Wiki doesn't say what it was published in. A magazine? Book anthology? This Flickr person has some photos from it. I actually like it. The one I'm looking at has koalas on the beach. It's cute.

In 1921 Wall got married. That year she also had some success with doing illustrations for someone else's book.

Through the 1920's and 1930's, she did the illustrating thing.

In 1933, she published Blinky Bill: the Quaint Little Australian. I wonder if it's the same Blinky Bill I have. Mine doesn't have the quaint little Australian bit in the title.

Oh! I think I get it. I'm looking at the titles of her other books. They're all in my book.... My book is divided into three sections. The first part is Blinky Bill. The second part is Blinky Bill Grows Up. The third part is Blinky Bill and Nutsy. I guess the publishers compiled it all into one volume.

All right. Wall is the third story, I've heard, of a well-loved Aussie author having financial difficulties. There's her, May Gibbs, and then Henry Lawson. Were writers not paid well in Australia? I'm guessing that's not the case anymore. Well, I hope not! And I wonder if American writers had the same issues.

I know not all published writers are going to end up rich. Many of them don't sell enough books to give up their day job. But it's hard to imagine a successful writer struggling financially. Was it a matter of them not managing their funds properly. Or was it a matter of the publishing houses being stingy?

In 1934, Wall and her husband got divorced. Oh. Well, maybe that caused the financial problems? Perhaps he ended up with more of the money. I'm not sure what the divorce laws were in those days.

Wall went to live with her son in The Blue Mountains.

Like Henry Lawson, Wall didn't just have financial difficulties. She was depressed as well, and unhealthy. She returned to New Zealand. Why? I don't know. But there she worked as an illustrator for various New Zealand newspapers.

Lord Wiki says in 1939, her health and financial situation improved. He said this is probably due to her publishing The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill. I guess maybe that book brought her more money? Maybe the other book brought her money as well, but she spent it all or something. I don't know.

She didn't have many good years though. She returned to Sydney in July 1941. About six months later, she died.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. I'll go see if she's in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Here we go. She's in there.

Wall was born in Wellington, New Zealand. That's on the North Island...the southern part. Her parents had been both born in England.

The book she first did illustrations for was J.J Halls The Crystal Bowl. Lord Wiki had actually provided the title, but I couldn't find it on Google. Now I'm finding it. Maybe I put it in the search thing differently. Here's the book. It's Australian nature stories. You can read part of the book, and see Wall's illustrations on Google Books.

She illustrated other books.

There was Jacko-the Broadcasting Kookaburra and The Amazing Adventures of Bill Penguin. Both of these were written by Brooke Nicholls. And she illustrated a book by Nellie Grant called Australians All.

The biographical dictionary says that Wall had one child. Blinky Bill was based on stories she told to him. They say critics have spoken out against her anthropomorphism. I guess some people have a problem with that. Why? Is it disrespectful towards animals? Are the people against it the same ones who are against fantasy? Do they fear it will make children see the world in an unrealistic way? Are they worried children will become too sentimental about animals, and then do something drastic like become vegetarian?

I like anthropomorphic animals. I think they're fun. Some of it's weird though. On Arthur, the animals all go to the same school. They work together. They play together. They shop together. An Aardvark is best friends with a rabbit. Here's the thing though. There's no inter-breeding. Each family is made up of the same animals. I'm guessing that's because if one animal bred with another animal-type, the creators of the show would have to make hybrid animals. Maybe that would get too complicated. But it seems almost racist to me...or at least anti-intermarriage. I don't think that was the intent. I wonder if some kids though get that message. You can play with those other people. You can be friends with them. You can invite them over for lunch. But you can NOT marry and have children with them.

Anyway, I've been trying to find information about this anti-anthropomorphic movement, but I can't find it. I do feel like I've learned about it before. I just don't remember the details.

Several years ago, I worked at the Fort Worth Zoo. There I learned that they're against naming the animals....or at least sharing the names with the public. One woman I worked with told me it's because the animals are not pets. I guess that would be a somewhat anti-anthropomorphic attitude. The thing about this zoo is it really pushes the idea that animals are here for human use. There's a whole video in the children's play area that shows factory farms blessing us humans with much needed milk, cheese, and ice-cream. There's play activities teaching kids which animals bring us which products. I think the main idea of the Fort Worth Zoo is animal are here for US. We might feel less eager to USE them if they have cute little names.

It's easier to eat a chicken if you imagine it to be a mindless biological blob that eats and poops until you chop off it's head. If you name it Peter, make it talk, and give it a suit and tie....people might think twice about eating that drumstick. I doubt it though. Humans are blessed with a certain cognitive dissonance. We can eat our meat AND coo over how adorable the animals are. At the Fort Worth Zoo, there's a little area where kids can pet farm animals. About thirty feet away, they can buy a cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza.

Let me get back to Dorothy Wall. The biographical dictionary talks about her financial difficulties. At one point, she wrote to her publisher (Angus and Robertson Ltd). If I'm reading this right, she said she never cared much about seeing her name in print. What matters to her is the money. They responded by giving her more work. She got three guineas for each book jacket she illustrated. That doesn't sound like a lot of money. I may be wrong. But I'm betting she wished they just paid her more money for the work she had ALREADY done.

She tried to get money in other ways. The website says she was really into playing the lottery. She tried to sell her cartoons to American movie companies, and the Blinky Bill image to English china companies. I'm not sure if any of that worked out. Well, the website doesn't speak of successes, so I'm guessing not.

I'm going through Google right now....looking for something interesting.

There's been Blinky Bill TV programs. From 1984-1987, there was some puppet thing called The New Adventures of Blinky Bill. Here's a video from that. It has humans interacting with the puppets. Interesting.....I can't find it on IMDb. They have the next Blinky Bill show though....a cartoon that premiered in 1993. Here's the opening song. It's very cute.