Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anne Geddes

Anne Geddes is a photographer. If she's who I think she is, I'm familiar with her work. I didn't realize until fairly recently that she was Australian.

I think she's the one who takes cutesy photos of little children.

Okay yeah. Google confirms that. I typed in her name, and got pictures of little children in bunny costumes.

One of our family friends bought me a book of baby names with Anne Geddes photos. I was going to say she gave it to us as a gift when Jack was born. But why would you give a book of baby names to someone who's already had the baby? Maybe this was a not-so-subtle way of pushing us to have a second child?

I'm going to admit this, and probably look like a horrible person. I'm not a fan of Anne Geddes. It makes me sound like I hate kids or something. I don't. I think most kids are adorable. But I think I prefer more candid shots. I like kids looking natural...like themselves.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of MY favorite child:

















Yeah. Those are the type of photos that I love. Professional photographers are often good at making ordinary people look like models. They're not always good at making people look like themselves.

Let's get onto Geddes.....

Baby Anne was born in Queensland, on 13 September 1956. According to my old favorite birthday calculator, she was not born on Friday the 13th. She was born on a Thursday.

Geddes grew up on a beef cattle property. She has three sisters; two older, and one younger.

It sounds like they had an idyllic childhood....playing in creeks and all that. When we lived in St. Louis, we had a creek in our backyard. That was fun.

There's a story here I don't fully understand. When she was around eight, she was standing near the front garden, and she told her mom there was something she had to do. Her mother said she should go and play. Geddes told her mother that this isn't what she meant. It was a moment of absolute clarity for Anne, a premonition of the deeply felt belief that would become her passion and life’s work. I guess it was some type of spiritual awakening? I have vague memories of being in a car as a child, and suddenly thinking that I've been alive since...well pretty much since the beginning of human history. There was just this sense of knowing that we've all been here again and again and again and again.

Do any of you remember having spiritual insights as children....or atheist ones?

As a child, Geddes liked looking at photographs in magazines. That's not surprising.

Oh, here's something I like. Lord Wiki says she self-taught herself photography. There were no photography courses at her school. I love stories of self-taught people.

When Geddes was seventeen, she took a tourist job in New Zealand. My parents are there now! Their ship left Dunedin not too long ago. They told me where they were headed, but I've already forgotten. Oops.

Wait. Here it is. I'm looking at the cruise website. They're headed towards Christchurch, and then up to the North Island.

While working in New Zealand, Geddes took hundreds of photographs. In this decade, that's not at all unusual. We have digital cameras. In the 1970's, they did not. Hundreds of photographs would cost a LOT of money, so this shows that photography was an important hobby to Geddes.

When Geddes was twenty-two, she opened up her own retail clothing shop called Daddy Long Legs. I guess it didn't do too well. She closed it around a year later.

Next, she worked as an assistant at a TV station in Brisbane. It was there that she met her husband Mr. Geddes. He was the station's programming director.

They got married in Hong Kong. Why Hong Kong? Was there something special about that place for them?

Oh! They didn't just marry in Hong Kong. They moved there. I wonder why.

In Hong Kong, Geddes decided to open up her own little portrait photography business. She did this for neighbors, and friends, and also put up notices on community boards.

In the mid 1980's, the Geddes family moved back to Australia. This time, they settled in Sydney.

They had a baby. Geddes used the baby in a photographic holiday card. Friends liked it, and asked her to do cards for them. This led her to launch a small holiday card business. Now almost everyone uses pictures of their kids in holiday cards....well, if they have kids. If they don't, they use their dogs or cats. One day I'd like to receive a holiday card with someone's pet tarantula. That would be awesome.

A few years after their time in Sydney, the Geddes family moved to Melbourne. It was here that Geddes set up her first own studio. She used an old garage in their yard.

We haven't had a studio portrait done of Jack since he was about two. At first, it was because he developed a severe fear of the process. And then after awhile, I guess we just figured we like the photographs we take ourselves. Tim's really good with photography, so....we have that. I take fairly okay pictures. And then Jack takes tons of photographs of himself. He's really into the whole self-portrait thing.

In the late 1980's, the Geddes had their second child...another girl. And then they also moved to Auckland, New Zealand.

In 1988, Geddes had one of her photographs published for the first time. It was a photograph she had taken in Melbourne. A small Auckland magazine published it. Around this time, Geddes was doing wedding photography, and not enjoying it much. Geddes decided to concentrate on portraits of children.

I guess maybe Geddes didn't have an idyllic childhood after all. Lord Wiki says she started doing charity work for child abuse, and When she was approached about increasing awareness of the prevention of child abuse, Anne recalled the shadow of her own emotionally barren childhood.
I wonder what went wrong. As a child, I didn't feel very loved. I think I was...probably. I just didn't feel it. It's hard to explain. I guess I felt loved in a more obligatory way; kind of the way we love our cat that pees all over the place. I felt more tolerated than adored. But despite that, I still see my early childhood years as idyllic. I remember exploring creeks, swimming in lakes, eating cookies and chocolate milk at camp, riding bikes in the neighborhood, sledding down steep hills......

The way Geddes and her husband helped the child abuse cause was by selling calenders.

Wow. The two of them must have had a LOT of faith in Geddes work. In order to publish a second calender, they sold their New Zealand home, and used all their life savings. They printed out 20,000 copies of the calender. It sold out in three weeks. That's awesome.

Geddes' career zoomed off.

She went on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Oh, she has her own clothing line. I don't know if I knew that.

Anyway, Lord Wiki rambles on a bit more. Basically, what he's saying is that Geddes has been extremely successful.

I'm going to pop over to the official Geddes website.

On this page, the Geddes have a list of charitable stuff they've done lately. They donated 50,000 dollars worth of babies clothes to Haiti. That's pretty awesome. They also donated clothes to victims of Hurricane Katrina, and they gave money to the Tsunami cause.

This page has a gallery of Geddes' work, and also includes a video of Geddes talking.

This is cool.. Here's a photograph of a baby named Joshua, then they also have a photograph of Joshua at age sixteen.

Here's an inspiring page. It's a photograph of a very premature baby, and then there's a photo of the girl at twelve-years-old....looking happy and healthy.

Here's a frequently asked questions page. She's asked about her childhood, and how it differs from the upbringing of her own children. She says, my upbringing was certainly vastly different to the way my husband and I have chosen to raise our own girls. I feel with our own children that we have loved and encouraged them in a way that enables them to understand, as women in today's world, anything is possible for them.

She has an autobiography out that goes into more details about this childhood. Although a reviewer on Amazon says the book concentrates more about the rise of her career. I guess it focuses more on the positive.

Geddes loves babies. She says, They are all brand-new citizens of the world, with no notions of hatred, racial bias, political dogma, or religious intolerance. I guess she doesn't believe in reincarnation. Well, I guess you could believe in it, but feel our slate is wiped clean before we're born.

Geddes talks about how she provides a very safe and gentle environment in her studio for the infants. That's the thing about being a studio photographer. It's not just about snapping photos. It's about making people feel relaxed...comfortable.

We've done family photos...mostly at weddings. And you can see such differences. There are great photographs where we're all laughing...REALLY laughing. We look natural and fun. Then there are other photographs where we have stiff tense smiles.

I was horribly disappointed with our wedding photographer. Photographing a wedding party probably requires as much patience as photographing children. People are so tense. Well, our photographer did nothing to help us relax. In fact, I think he made me feel even more tense. So, in our photo's, that's how we look.

Here's an example. I'm not sure if it's something outsiders can notice, but I can see that no one in the photo is feeling happy and relaxed at that point. Everyone looks bit annoyed, although my dad is a bit better at faking it.



I also remember when I was working at the preschool in Fort Worth. They had a photographer come to do class photos. He was horrible, very impatient with the children.

I'm going to look at some of the Anne Geddes products, see if there's anything that catches my eye.

This fairy dress set is kind of cute, although it's $95. I can't imagine spending that much money on baby clothes. Baby's spit up and poop on their clothes. I think it's best to go the cheap route.

Most of this stuff is really not my type of thing.

I don't think I'm ever going to be an Anne Geddes fan, but she does seem like a really cool person. I find her story inspiring.

I feel so dumb, but I can't figure out if this blog, I'm now looking at, is a joke or not. It's this whole blog against Geddes, saying her photographs are pornographic. I'm HOPING it's a joke. Either way though, I find it pretty offensive. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see pictures of babies in flowers and plants as being sexual. There's talk of it symbolizing deflowering. Whatever.

Horrible abuse happens to children. Children are raped, starved, degraded, and exploited in terrifying ways. I don't see how getting yourself photographed in a cutesy outfit can compare to that.

I'm thinking is IS a joke. There's a book mentioned, a memoir written by one of the so-called victims. I can't find anything about this book, except on the blog. Although I guess the book may have been canceled.

There's also an anti-Geddes Facebook page. One of it's members says:

What Anne Geddes does is not beautiful. It objectifies children, and makes them just another part of her artwork, without any input from them. Worst of all, she does this with young babies, who do not have the ability to say "Actually, I don't want to be dressed up like a pumpkin, get your hands off me!" By doing this..., Geddes is taking from these babies their right to be respected as humans, and instead turning them into manipulated parts of her canvas.
Well, you know that's the annoying thing about babies. They can't speak and tell us what they prefer. Should I sue my parents for feeding their future vegetarian mashed up meat?

The thing is though babies CAN communicate. They do let grown-ups know what they'll tolerate. They'll cry. They'll pull away. They'll scream. Jack let us know he wouldn't tolerate sleeping in a crib or drinking milk out of a bottle. He let us know when he didn't want certain people holding him.

The babies in the Anne Geddes photos look pretty content. I don't think anyone was doing anything against their will.

As for the photographs being sexual.....

I think I'm safe in saying that MOST healthy adults do not see the pictures as being sexual. Most adults see the innocent beauty that exists in naked little babies and young children. For those who see the photos in an inappropriate way, I just hope they can have control....look and not touch.

Once a relative sent me a email warning that people were going through the internet to search for photos of babies in diapers. She suggested I make sure I have no photos like that of Jack on my blog. My feeling was I can't hide my child from the world. Who knows who's looking at our babies at the grocery store....the park....the zoo. People may be seeing our children in ways we don't want them to be seen. But it's not something we can prevent. You just have to hope that it doesn't go beyond looking.

I personally don't find Geddes photographs to be appealing. But I find it really hard to understand why people would find them to be actually offensive.


Oh.....Wait.

I'm reading further. The Facebook group IS supposed to be a joke...a satire. Okay. That's a relief. Maybe the blog was too, then. The Facebook one is in response to the Bill Henson controversy. This is that guy in the center of one of those is-it-art-or-abuse controversies.

I'm looking at Bill Henson's work on Google Images. I personally see a huge difference between his stuff and Anne Geddes. What's the difference? I'm honestly not quite sure. It's definitely culture-related. In some cultures, it's perfectly appropriate for children to play around naked. In other cultures, it's not okay.

Maybe it's an age thing? I'm just going to talk about my own culture here. I think there's an age where children can roam about naked, and no one blinks an eye. Then there's an age where more modesty is expected.

The other issue...and I may be wrong about this....but I think those who see infants and toddlers as sexual beings are fairly rare. I think seeing older children, and young teens, as being sexual is much more common. There's more risk of abuse, maybe?

It's also about the context of the photo. I think with babies and toddlers, almost any nakedness is cute and innocent. With older children and teens, I think there are boundaries. My feeling is if the children at that age, and in that culture are used to being out and naked...it's fine. If they're not....then it's not okay.

It's all very complicated, and I don't think we'll ever agree on where to draw the line. I see Geddes work as very different from Henson. Other people might not. Other people support his work. How do they distinguish between his photography, and child pornography? What makes a photo of a naked child art? Is there a way to qualify that?

Then you have people getting in trouble for photographing their children naked in the bathtub. And some people are offended by breastfeeding photos.

It's like a big spectrum. On one end, you have the extreme prudes. On the other end, you have the anything-goes crowd. We all fit in there somewhere. I think I'm in the middle....or close to it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stefan Dennis

Who is Stefan Dennis?

I have no idea.

Lord Wiki says he's an actor. He's on Neighbours. He plays the character of Paul Robinson.

He's also done some music work. He had a hit single called "Don't it Make you Feel Good." Here's the video. Dennis sounds like a musical-singer.

Baby Stefan was born in Tawonga, Victoria on 30 October 1958.

Tawonga is about five hours north-east of Melbourne. It's about an hour south of Albury.

We won't go into it too much though, because the Dennis family left when Stefan was young. They moved to Queensland. Lord Wiki doesn't specify which part of Queensland they moved to. He's trying to be all mysterious.

Wait. Dennis did work at the Amateur Theatre when he was young. This might give me a clue.

Nope. That didn't help. When I googled, I found theaters, not NAMED amateur, but classified that way. Oh well. Maybe we'll pinpoint the geography later.

As a child and young teen, Dennis loved performing, and wanted this as a career; but he felt it was important to have a back-up plan. He went the chef route. He became an apprentice.

Oh, and now I see a location. He lived in the Gold Coast. I'm not sure if this is where he grew up though; or if he moved there for the apprenticeship.

Next, Dennis moved to Melbourne where he worked in the restaurant industry.

I'm going to hop over to IMDb to look at the filmography. Just as a reminder....I skip one-time guest appearances, and most short films.

In the beginning of the 1980's, Dennis did guest star appearances here and there.

In 1981, Dennis played Peter Richards on Prisoner. I'm not really finding much about his character. Does anyone remember him on the show?

In 1984, Dennis was in a movie called Channel Chaos. His character's name was "Cameraman". I'm guessing this wasn't a huge role. It also probably wasn't a huge movie. The trivia page says it went directly to video. It was one of THOSE......

In 1985, Dennis was in the miniseries The Flying Doctors. Wasn't there also a TV Show?

Yeah. Here's the series.

It was also in 1985, that Dennis started working on Neighbours. We'll definitely get back to that.

I'm going to skip ahead to the 1990's. Dennis left the show in 1993, and it looks like he tried to get a career elsewhere. He guest-starred in a variety of TV shows.

Then in 2004, he returned to Neighbours. He also got a part in a British movie called The Truth About Love. It's a romantic comedy about a woman who sends her husband an anonymous Valentine, to see what he'd do. Yikes. That could get a marriage into trouble.

Jennifer Love Hewitt is in it. Maybe she's the star?

Here's the trailer. Hewitt is faking an accent. That's as weird to me as when Australians play Americans in American movies when they could just have easily played an Australian.

Dennis is way down below in the credits. He probably had a very small role.

Well, that's about it for IMDb.

Here's the official website of Stefan Dennis. There's a note there that says Dennis is not on MySpace, Facebook, or any such sites. So if you have Dennis as a follower or friend, it's probably a fake.

Dennis has a link to the Environmental Investigation Agency. I guess that's his favorite charity. One of their big campaigns is against supermarket refrigerators that leak horrible ozone-depleting gases. It's a UK campaign, but it might be a problem in other countries.

Here's Dennis' theater credits. It looks like he does a lot of fairy tale stuff...Aladdin, Cinderella, Peter Pan, etc.

This Neighbours website has some biographical information.

He did grow up on the Gold Coast.

He left school when he was sixteen. I like hearing about people who have alternative education stories. Here's someone who didn't go and get a traditional university education. Instead, he did an apprenticeship, and then sought work in acting. I think that's really cool.

Dennis actually left Neighbours in 1992, but he returned in 1993 for a guest appearance. He reminds me of Days of our Lives actors. They leave, come back, leave again, come back.....

Oh! He didn't just have a small small role in The Truth About Love. He was also associate producer. Around that time, Dennis had been living in the UK. He came back to Australia in 2004. One day, he visited The Neighbours set, and an idea formed of him doing a surprise cameo. One thing led to another, and Dennis became a full-time member of the show again.

As for personal stuff, Dennis has been married twice. He and his current wife have two sons.

Now I'm going to learn about Dennis' alter-ego....Paul Robinson.

Robinson has been married four times. His wives names have been Terry, Gail, Christina, and Lynn.

Robinson has three sisters, and two brothers.

He has two daughters and three sons.

One of his TV sons has the same name as his real son....Cameron. I wonder which came first. The real Cameron was born in 2002. When was the fictional one born?

Well, Cameron was born in 1989, but they say he came on the show in 2006. I'm not sure if his character had been introduced earlier, or if he was one of those surprise soap opera offspring.

This biography of Paul Robinson is very long. I guess I'll read it, and just report the exciting stuff.

Here's something unique. Paul dropped out of university to become a flight attendant. That's how he met his second wife. She was his supervisor. Here's a video of Paul during his Gail days. Paul loves Gail, but he doubts that Gail loves him. It looks like instead he married Terry the plumber's assistant. Terry was a bit of a bad girl. It turns out she had a criminal past. When Paul found out, she shot him! Here's a video of the dramatic confrontation.

After that experience, Paul became bitter about love. He decided to become a corporate executive. At work he fell in love with Zoe. But Zoe dated his father. That made Robinson angry, and he made life difficult for Zoe.

Next Paul fell in love with Susan Cole. There was a love triangle going on between those two, and a guy named Clive.

Later, Gail came back. They were in love, but didn't tell each other that. Yet they married for business reasons. Well, a company they wanted to do business with only partnered with married people. I think that's the scene I watched earlier.

Here's a video of their marriage of convenience wedding.

Eventually, Gail and Paul realized they loved each other...for real, and not just pretend. They renewed their vows, and lived happily ever after. Anyone who believes that probably never watches soap operas.

An old lover from Paul's airline past returned. This was Nina, and she revealed that she had a daughter. Paul was the daddy. Around this time, Paul and Gail were having fertility issues. Finally Gail managed to get pregnant....with triplets. It could have been a happy time, but Paul chose the workaholic route. The marriage was on the rocks. Then Paul had a fight with Gail's dad. Gail's dad drove off, and had a car accident. Gail blamed Paul for her dad's death.

Gail left Paul, and moved to Tasmania. There she gave birth to the triplets. One of these was Cameron. So I'm guessing the Cameron character wasn't just randomly created in 2006.

After Gail left Paul, he found comfort in the arms of a couple of women. Meanwhile, his assistant's twin sister Christina, had a crush on him. When Paul brought back a scheming woman named Isabella, Christina worked to prove that Isabella was up to no good. Once Isabella was out of the picture, she thought she'd have a chance with Paul. But he then vowed he was done with woman for good. Poor Isabella! But they eventually got together.

Here's a scene from that storyline. The woman in red is Isabella.

Paul and Christina eventually got together. They married, and had a baby. Things went bad in Paul's business life....really bad. He considered suicide.

Paul left his wife and child for awhile so he could get himself back together. He returned with his daughter Amy. That's the one that came from his airline days affair.

Oh no!

Paul had an affair with Christina's twin sister. Of course, the twin felt all guilty about this. It reminds of that Missy Higgins song.

Paul and Christina managed to work things out, but Paul was involved with fraud. He had to escape to Brazil. And I think that's where he was while Stefan Dennis was trying to build up a career outside of Neighbours.

When Paul returned in 2004, he fell in love with Liljana...another man's wife. Here's a scene from their love.

It seems while Paul was romancing Lil, he was also going after Izzy.

I think this guy is a bit of a womanizer.

I'm getting kind of tired of reading....skimming a bit.

Paul was thrown off a cliff at some point. He lost his leg in the accident.

Paul didn't think life was worth living with one leg. Really? I wouldn't think it would be a huge deal to lose one leg. You can just get a fake one. I mean it's not like becoming a quadriplegic.  And some people adjust to even that. I know it would be challenging to have one leg, but I don't think it would be the awful of awfuls. Still, I guess I can't judge without being in the situation myself. If my leg ever gets chopped off, I'll get back to you guys on that one.

Instead of going the normal route of committing suicide, Paul tried to provoke someone into killing him. He tried to get the guy to let go of his wheelchair by a steep hill. Well, isn't that a bit risky? What if he didn't die? What if he lost another leg?

Anyway, at the last second, Paul had a change of heart. He decided he wanted to live!

Oh, this is getting way too long. I'm going to see if Lord Wiki's summary is shorter. I kind of want to wrap this up.

What I'm getting from the Neighbours site, and Lord Wiki is that Paul Robinson is a villian.

What other drama has happened in this guy's life?

He set a fire and killed someone.

His friends were killed (or disappeared?) in a plane crash...caused by a bomb. It was later revealed that Paul's own son had bombed the plane. Wow. This was one of the triplets, but not Cameron. Poor Cameron died in a car crash. Man, soap opera families have it rough!

A guy named Harold tried to strangle Paul, but he later confessed and apologized.

Paul got a brain tumor, and started having visions of a guy named Fox.

Well, that's about it....or all that I feel like reporting.

Maybe I'll watch a few videos.

Here's an interview with Dennis on The Morning Show. They talk about Dennis' hit single. He says it's become more popular now than it was back then.

They joke about Paul Robinson seducing almost every women on the show.

Now they're showing a montage of clips.

Dennis says around the time he got the part on Neighbours, he was hoping for a film or theater role. He says he had a very snobbish view of soap operas. Real actors don't do such stuff! Dennis said he went to the Neighbours audition, but didn't take it seriously. He showed little interest or respect. But he got a role. He figured he'd stick with it for six months. And that six months lasted a bit longer than expected.

Oh! Jason Donovan played Paul Robinson's brother. I didn't notice that connection. What was Donovan's character's name again?

Here we go. It was Scott Robinson.

Dennis says that when his character returned in 2004, he was more evil than before. Then he became too evil, and the show's producers felt things had gone too far. They considered getting rid of the character, but then instead decided to give Robinson a brain tumor. Supposedly, the brain tumor is what made Robinson evil all this time. Interesting.

Here's a video of Paul's imaginary friend, Fox.

Now I'm reading this website about Paul. He had surgery for his brain tumor. When he woke up, memories of his past were gone. He forgot that he was evil, and became less of a villian. Right now, he's a sort of okay guy. But who knows what will happen in the future.....

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Found Treasure

Jack and I just went to our used bookstore. I found an Aboriginal book. It's actually FROM Australia. I'm wondering how it ended up in Fort Worth. There were also these really weird obscure books about sheds in Australia. I'm thinking there's either Australians living in Fort Worth who no longer want certain books. Or maybe there's another Texan who's really interested in Australia. I was about to say he or she must no longer be interested since he/she got rid of the books. But despite the fact that my love for Australia goes on and on, there are a few Australian books I wouldn't mind giving up. If there is another Fort Worth person obsessed with Australia, it would be awesome if we could get together. We could trade books, and stuff.

I didn't buy the shed books, but I did buy the Aboriginal one. It has a sticker tag from the Gavala Aboriginal Art Centre. And I see they sell my new book on their site. The one I got was Understanding Aboriginal Culture by Cyril Havecker.

I'm looking at their website. They say they're in Darling Harbour. I remember there being an Aboriginal store in Darling Harbour in 2007. I didn't see it in 2009. I thought maybe it had closed down. Maybe I just missed it? Or maybe they haven't updated the website?

Since it's in a touristy area, the owner could have been just a typical American
tourist. Maybe they got swept up into Australia love, bought the book, and it then sat on their shelf until they decided to do a spring cleaning.

Who knows. Although I can't imagine a typical tourist buying a book on Australian sheds.

Currently, I'm reading The Dreaming. It's a historical-fiction book that's about Australia, but written by an American. It's pretty good. I'm liking it so far. From my limited knowledge and perspective, it seems like the author did her research. I found the book at Goodwill, and hoped it was written by an Australian. I had this sense that Americans shouldn't be writing about Australia. Is that funny? Well, I'm laughing. I often amuse myself lately.

So what books are you guys reading now?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eric Bana

Eric Bana is an actor. I don't think I've seen anything he's been in, besides Finding Nemo. Tim saw Munich.

I used to get Eric Bana confused with that guy on the Superman TV show. I don't know why. I don't even know his name, and whether it's similar to Bana's. I'll go look..... Although I forgot the name of the TV Show. It's not Smallville. It's the one with the woman from Desperate Housewives. Terri Hatcher! Glad I remembered that. This will make it easier for me to look it up.

Okay, the show is Lois and Clark. The actor is Dean Cain. I'm not sure how I confused Dean Cain with Eric Bana. Weird.

Maybe it wasn't the name. Maybe it was how they look? Let me go look at some pictures of them.

Well, I'm looking at several photos via google images, and I'm really not seeing a resemblance.

Who knows why I made such a connection.

I'm going to get some brief biographical information from Lord Wiki. Then I'm going to move onto IMDb.

Baby Eric was born in Melbourne, on 9 August 1968. His original last name was Banadinovic, and that comes from his Croatian father.

Daddy Banadinovic worked for something called Caterpillar, Inc. They sell big heavy machines.

Mommy Banadinovic, from Germany, was a hairdresser.

I wonder if Bana learned to speak German and Croatian. Is Croatian a language, or do they speak something else?

Okay, yes. The CIA factbook website says there is a Croatian language. Here's a brief lesson in Croatian. And here's Hakuna Matata in Croatian.

In Melbourne, Bana's family lived in the suburb of Tullamarine. That's a cute name. It makes me think of Tallulah from the Maisy book series.

Tullamarine is about thirty minutes north-west of the CBD....much more north than west.

Ah, and it's very close to the airport. I wonder if Bana heard lots of planes going by when he was a kid.

Bana says he dealt with racism as a child. Sad, but not surprising.

Around age six or seven, Bana started showing off his acting skills. He'd imitate family members. And to get out of trouble at school, he'd do amusing imitations of teachers. I guess he was probably the class clown.

When Bana saw Mad Max as a teen, he decided he wanted to be an actor. But he wasn't really serious about it until he was in his early twenties. Then he did some stand-up comedy while working as a barman.

I'm skipping all the film work. We'll get to that later.

In 1997, Bana married a publicist named Rebecca Gleeson. Her dad was the Chief Justice of Australia from 1998-2008. The lovely couple has two kids...Klaus and Sophia.

Bana likes motor car racing. He's really into that. He also likes football. Both of those are totally not my thing.

In terms of charity, Bana is involved with a Catholic homeless organization called Youth Off the Streets. And he's involved with the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia. Defining mental illness is a funny thing. Until 1973, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. And in our culture, if you hear voices, you're mentally ill. In other cultures, you might be a respected shaman or witch doctor. Just a thought....

All right. Let me run over to IMDb.

It looks like Bana's first TV project was the sketch comedy program, Full Frontal. He was on the show from 1993-1996. He starred in it, and did some of the writing. I think I've written about this show before, but I don't remember when.

Oh....it must have been when I wrote about Jane Turner. She was on it, along with her Kath and Kim co-stars, Gina Riley and Magda Szubanski.

Here's a Full Frontal scene with Eric Bana. That's pretty cute.

In 1996, Bana had his own show, named after himself. I'm not sure how long it lasted. I know it didn't go beyond 1996, but I'm not sure if it lasted one or two episodes; or if they had several.

In 1997, Bana was in The Castle. I didn't realize Bana was in that movie, and I also didn't realize it was that old. I thought it was made in the 2000's. I've seen parts of the movie, but I'm not sure if I saw Eric Bana.

Here's some clips from the movie. I'm not sure if they'll show Bana. Ah! There he is, at 1:12. He plays the new husband.

There's something very beautiful about that movie. The narrator seems like such a sweet guy...very much a glass-full kind of person. Actually, the whole family is probably that way.

I just thought of something. The Castle is about a family that lives very close to the airport. And Bana grew up living very close to the airport.

Now I'm confused. The next thing on IMDb is Eric, that show named after Bana. Why do they list it twice? Did it disappear, and then return? This one had nine episodes.

Like usual....I'm going to be skipping all one-time guest appearances. I also usually skip short films, unless it's something I can find on YouTube. It's not that short-films are unimportant. It's more the fact that filmographies are overwhelming, and I gotta cut time somewhere.

In 1999 and 2000, Bana did three episodes of All Saints. He played Rob Biletsky. This website says that Rob was a bomber. Yikes. For some reason, he was angry. He needed surgery, and left a bomb in the hospital that would go off while he was under the knife. That's pretty intense.

In 2000, Bana was in a crime biography film called Chopper. He played the title character.

From what Lord Wiki tells me, it all sounds a bit awful. Chopper Read was a violent criminal who then wrote books about his prison life. I can't tell if he's someone who sought redemption for his past, or someone who's trying to profit from his past. He did some anti-drink driving and anti-domestic violence ads. So maybe he's a changed man? Here's his website. I do like what he says in his quote page. I know most of you out there hate my guts, I'm not a very popular person, but you drink and you drive you're the same as me, you're a murdering maggot just the same as I am. I'd probably agree.

I guess all in all, it's a positive story. I don't know why I'm being skeptical. Is it any different from Peter Kocan? They're both people who found a life outside of crime with writing. Maybe the difference is that Kocan didn't end up ending anyone's life. What if someone you loved was murdered, and then the murderer became a successful author...writing about all his crimes?  I think there'd be something horribly unfair about that.

The IMDb trivia page has some interesting tidbits. They say Chopped Read saw Bana on Full Frontal, and wanted him for the movie. And Bana spent two days with Read so he could learn about the character. I wonder if they had fun together.

Bana won many awards for the film, including an AFI one.

Here's the trailer. I'm very impressed with Bana's acting. I'm not quite sure if I'm impressed with the actual character. I guess I'd have to learn more about all of it.

From 2000-2002, Bana was in a show called Something in the Air. IMDb says he was in 202 episodes. Wow. That's a lot of shows for two years. It would average out to about two shows per week, with no seasonal breaks.

Lord Wiki says it was a soap opera. Well, that doesn't surprise me. It kind of surprises me though that an award winning film actor would go to work on a soap. I don't think that happens very often.

Here's a scene from the show. It's about a rural town.

In 2001, Bana was in the American movie Black Hawk Down. I've heard of it, but I haven't seen it. I'm sure Tim has. He loves that type of movie.

It's about Somalia.

Here's a trailer. Bana has a southern accent. Ever since I started watching True Blood, I've grown quite fond of that type of accent.

It looks like a very powerful movie.

And now I'm close to crying again. The IMDb trivia page says: On the last day of their week long Army Ranger orientation at Fort Benning, the actors who portrayed the Rangers received a letter which had been anonymously slipped under their door. The letter thanked them for all their hard work, and asked them to "tell our story true", signed with the names of the Rangers who died in the Mogadishu firefight.

I usually don't like when people speak/write for God, dead people, pets, babies, etc. But there's something so poignant about that. I wonder if the actors cried when they read it. Probably. I think actors are emotional people.

In 2002, Bana did a comedy called The Nugget. It looks like it's about people who find gold, and become suddenly wealthy.

Let me interrupt for this little parental bragging moment. Jack's really into Peanuts right now...not the deadly food, but the comic by Charles Schultz. He reads the comics every night before he goes to sleep. Anyway, today he drew pictures of Charlie Brown seen through the eyes of some of the other characters. For example, his Lucy drawing has Charlie Brown looking like a clown. Then Snoopy sees him as a chef...because he provides Snoopy with his meals. I thought it was so clever. It seems like an assignment that a very talented teacher would come up with. But Jack came up with it by himself. Or maybe he saw the idea somewhere. I'll have to ask. Either way. I'm impressed.

Anyway, back to Bana and The Nugget. Stephen Curry is in the film. He also starred with Bana in The Castle. But I'm not sure who he played. Well, he was Dale. I'm not sure who that is. Is it the narrator?

Okay, yeah. Lord Wiki says he is.

Curry was also in the Eric show.

Here's the trailer. It looks kind of cute.

In 2003, Bana was in Finding Nemo. I forgot who he played. Well, he was Anchor. Who was that? A fish? Oh, no. I remember. He's a shark. Awesome. I love sharks. Hey, but I was actually right, because sharks ARE fish.

We just ate lunch. I told Tim and Jack that Eric Bana was the person of the day. I mentioned that Bana played Anchor in Finding Nemo. It turns out, Jack has done a lot of studying of Finding Nemo's IMDb page. He said what's funny is there's a shark named Bruce, then another one of the sharks is played by an actor named Bruce. And then the Anchor shark is played by a guy who was in Hulk, and the character he played was Bruce. Jack is REALLY up to date with his Nemo trivia.

Tim was really surprised that Barry Humphries played Bruce. And he wanted to know who the dentist was. I had no idea, but I'll go check now.....

It's Bill Hunter. He was in Muriel's Wedding, and a LOT of other stuff. I guess he played Muriel's father?

Reading about Finding Nemo makes me miss Disney World. They have this really cute show where Crush the turtle talks to the audience. It's this special technology where the animated character can actually interact. Jack and I loved it. Here. Someone took a video of one of the shows.

There's stuff about Disney that really annoys me, but there is also stuff that I really love.

Here's the shark scene from Nemo. The sharks are like the Cullen family.

Okay, that little scene made me laugh out loud many times. I love that movie.

Now I'm onto the movie that Jack mentioned. Hulk. I don't think I realized that Bana was the star of that film. I kind of remember it. Maybe? It's the one done by Ang Lee. I wonder if I'd like it. Probably. I like superhero movies sometimes. I love Spiderman. And I liked the Michael Keaton Batman, and the Christopher Reeve Superman. I also like X-Men.

Here's the trailer for the film. I don't think you're going to like me when I'm angry. That's a great line.

Wasn't there another Incredible Hulk movie recently?

Okay. Yeah. Lord Wiki says there was a 2008 movie with Edward Norton. I'm going to watch that trailer too....see which one looks better to me. Well, I can't decide. They both look okay, but not something I'd rush to see.

Well, now I have an example of how Disney can be annoying. I just got an email from the Disney Vacation club saying they have a free offer. Yeah, I should be skeptical about such a thing...but you never know. So I opened the email. Well, you get a free cruise....IF you buy a hundred more points in the Vacation Club. Those points are expensive. So, it's not free! I think the email would have been more honest if it was titled Buy vacation club points, and get a free cruise!
Anyway.....

I should get back to Bana.

In 2004, he was in Troy. Isn't Sam Worthington supposed to be in a Troy type movie soon? Bana played Hector. Lord Wiki says that's a Trojan prince and a major fighter in the Troy war.

Never mind. Worthington is in a Greek thing, but I guess it's not Troy. He's going to be in Clash of the Titans.

Brad Pitt was in Troy too. That kind of triggers my memory a bit. I might remember hearing of this movie.

Here's the trailer. It looks exciting. I wonder if kids in high school watch this after they read Homer stuff.

In 2005, Bana was in Munich. That's the Steven Spielberg movie about the massacre of Israeli athletes, and the Israeli revenge over the event.

IMDb provides a good piece of trivia. During the filming of the movie, one of the actresses learned that her grandfather had been in the Mossad. How did that happen? Hey, Grandpa. Guess what! I'm in a movie about the Mossad!

Oh really? I was In the Mossad...the real one!
Lord Wiki says the movie was heavily criticized by the Zionist Organization of America. I don't think I've heard of these folks. I HAVE heard of the Anti-Defamation League. They supported the film, or at least their director did.

Here's the letter that Abraham Foxman (the director of the ADL) wrote regarding the movie. He defends his support of the movie, saying it is NOT anti-Israel. It doesn't deny Israel's right to defend itself, but instead questions how Israel goes about doing that.

I love what Foxman says here: Furthermore, to suggest that the film has an anti-Zionist spirit is a stretch. True, it does not present the beautiful Israel we prefer to see, but the notion that in light of brutal Palestinian terror, and with the memory of the Holocaust as backdrop, Jews need to be strong and hard - while at the same time engaging in internal debate over the wisdom and ethics of how they act - is hardly anti-Zionism. Indeed, without that trait, Israel would have disappeared long ago.
This has kind of lifted some of my own prejudices I've had about the ADL. I kind of pictured them as the type that labeled everything disagreeable as being anti-semitic. Maybe they're less rigid than I imagined.

Never mind....Lord Wiki is convincing me that they're pretty extreme. Well, at least they were somewhat open-minded about Munich. But there's something here about the Armenian genocide. The ADL doesn't want to recognize it....or something like that. What the hell?

Here's the ADL's press release about this. They say they DO recognize that something horrible happened to the Armenians, and if the term genocide had been invented already, the word would have been used. Well, can't we apply new words to history? Are there laws against that? Anyway, although they are okay with the genocide (or whatever they prefer to call it) being recognized, they don't support a Congressional resolution. They worry it will bring about strife between Turkey and the Armenian community. And they worry about Turkish Jews. Did Turkish Jews cause the genocide? I don't think so.....

Oh! I think I'm finally understanding. And hey, sorry for this major tangent. I'm just kind of lost in my curiosity here.

Turkey doesn't want to acknowledge the genocide. Why? They did it. They're the bad guys in this. And what is Turkey's relationship to Israel? They're buddies. Lord Wiki says Turkey was the first Middle Eastern country to recognize Israel...well, besides Israel. Israel definitely recognized itself.

So I thought this denial of the Armenian Holocaust was about wanting some kind of Holocaust uniqueness. And that MIGHT be part of it. But it looks like it's some kind of diplomatic game.

And the Holocaust IS unique. Each genocide is unique in it's own little special way. Like sugary breakfast cereals, evil comes in a variety of shapes and flavors.

Anyway....

Here's the trailer for Munich. Oh, okay. Geoffrey Rush is in the movie...saw his name on IMDb. I just checked, because I remembered watching the trailer before for this blog.

It looks like a really good movie.

In 2007, Bana was in Lucky You. It's about poker. Tim has been teaching Jack how to play poker. Apparently, Jack is very good at it.

Drew Barrymore is in Lucky You. I like her... although I think most people do.

Here's the trailer. It looks better than I expected. It's a romantic thing, not just poker. I like romance.

Also in 2007, Bana starred in Romulus My Father. I just saw that title a few days ago. Why? Maybe when I was reading about Ireland? Is it about Ireland?

Well....no. The plot page doesn't mention Ireland.

Oh! I know. Lord Wiki helped trigger my memory. The other day I found a website with some famous Australian people. I read over the list to see if there was anyone I wanted to add to MY list. One of the persons was Raimond Gaita, who wrote his memoirs titled Romulus My Father. I can't remember if I added him to the list or not.

The movie and memoirs are about Romanian immigrants who live in Melbourne.

Here's the trailer. It looks like a major tear-jerker. Bana won an AFI for the movie.

In 2008, Bana was in The Other Boleyn Girl. I heard of that one. Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanson are in it. I think they're both very beautiful, but not as adorable as Anna Paquin.

Bana plays Henry Tudor. The movie is about Henry VIII. Is Henry Tudor Henry the VIII? Or is this another Henry? Lord Wiki says yes, they're they're the same. He's the one who had his wives executed, right?

Here's the trailer. The costumes are all very lovely. I love how clothes from those days looked, but I'm sure they were awfully uncomfortable.

Lord Wiki says the movie distorts history. I guess it's LOOSELY based on a true story. I'm trying to get a brief lesson in history here. If I'm understanding this right, there were two Boleyn sisters....one became the king's mistress, and the other became his wife. The wife was later beheaded.

When I think of Henry VIII, I think of that song Patrick Swayze sings in Ghost.

Bana was in Mary and Max. I didn't know that. I've watched this trailer many times, but I'll watch it again. It gives me a little tear.

In 2009, Bana was in that remake of Star Trek....the one directed by the guy who makes Lost! Speaking of Lost, I have my own crazy theory about that show. I feel like I should be right, but I can't fully explain HOW I could be right. Tim thinks I'm wrong. We shall see if he's wrong about me being wrong, or right about me being wrong.

Bana played a character named Nero. Isn't that the guy in The Matrix?

Nope. Wrong. Lord Wiki says that was Neo. We have Neo, Nero, and Nemo. It's a bit confusing.

Here's the trailer for Star Trek. Actually, it's four trailers in one video. It looks exciting...well, at least from the second trailer. The first trailer didn't show much, and I don't have much interest in watching a third and fourth one.

In 2009, Bana was in a film with Adam Sandler. Funny People. It's a comedy-drama about a terminally ill comedian. I don't think I've ever heard of it.

Here's the trailer. You know, I expected it to be really corny and dumb, but it actually looks good. It made me laugh. That guy from Knocked Up is in it. Bana actually plays an Australian in it! It's very rare for Australians to play Australians in American movies.

Okay, the very last bit in that trailer was hilarious.

Bana was in The Time Traveler's Wife. I didn't realize that. I've read the book, and I thought it was so incredibly sad. But it IS good. It's very romantic. I have a weakness for paranormal romance stories.

Here's the trailer.

It looks like Bana's not doing any movies for 2010. Then in 2011, he's going to be in Hanna. It's about a fourteen-year-old girl who's raised to be a killing machine. That's intense. This movie website says that Bana is going to play the villian. He plays Hanna's dad and trainer. The movie involves a CIA training camp, where children are bred and raised to be killers.

Now I'm going to read the IMDb trivia page about Bana.

He hates guns. I do too.

His favorite actors are Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte. I loved Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides.

Bana also likes Richard Pryor, Paul Newman, and Barry Humphries.

Bana has gotten to work with at least three of his favorite actors. Did they become his favorites after he got to work with them, or was he lucky enough to get a chance to work with those he admired? Well, either way....I suppose he's lucky. It's nice to end up liking the work of your colleagues. It's better than working with someone you end up not respecting.

He never rode a horse before Troy. That surprises me. I was going to say I thought almost everyone has ridden a horse before, but Jack hasn't yet. I haven't ridden one in a LONG time.

Brad Pitt personally requested that Bana be his co-star in Troy. He had seen Bana in Chopper.

It looks like Bana didn't enjoy his time on The Hulk. He says, The Hulk is definitely what I would categorize as un-fun. I don't think it always needs to be fun. It doesn't always need to be one big happy family. Everyone got along, but it was a difficult, hard shoot. And I think you see every ounce of sweat on the screen. That's a fairly diplomatic way of saying you didn't enjoy yourself.

I need to put the laundry in the dryer. Then I'll read some interviews or something.

Here's an interview on Moviefone. It was done in April 2009.

They say he did a documentary about racing called Love the Beast.

Bana really loves his cars. I can't relate to that at all. Well, I can relate to loving something though, and having enthusiasm. So I guess I can connect to all of this on that level.

Bana says, The more I looked into that the more I realized there's more to this kind of ownership of a single object, so that's essentially what I was sort of wanting to tap into -- this notion of objects transcending themselves and having significance to us. I try not to to get overly attached to material objects these days. I do love my purple water bottle, but I don't think my attraction to it is that strong. And I loved my Australian ring that broke. But I was more upset because I thought it was a bad omen. Wait. Maybe that's what Bana means by objects transcending themselves. Yeah. Things start to carry meaning. I get it.

I was very attached to a book when I was a teenager. One of my other huge obsessions in life was Cystic Fibrosis. It started with reading Alex the Life of a Child. I think I used to actually sleep with that book. It was like my security blanket.

Bana plays a villian in Star Trek. I didn't realize that.

He talks about doing Funny People, and says it was nice to return to comedy. He says, I just felt kind of sick at the end, feeling like I've missed out on 10 years of fun since I stopped doing comedy. Yeah. He started out with that, but it seems he didn't do it again for a long time. No wait. The Castle and The Nugget are comedy. Right? Oh, and Finding Nemo is too, somewhat. Bana's scenes are definitely comedy.

This DVD website has an interview about Munich. I'm curious what his thoughts are about that.

Bana is asked if he had reservations about making the film...worries about it being too controversial. He says no, since Steven Spielberg was making the film. And he says, But I was privy to all drafts of the script from an early stage, so I roughly knew the kind of viewpoint that the film was being presented in, and I was very comfortable with it at all phases. But if I was kept in the dark and it wasn't Steven, it was someone whose work I was taking a chance on, I would have been more fearful. That makes sense.

I think I'm going to watch some video interviews. Here's one with Craig Ferguson. Bana says he's getting a bit grey, and it seems he's going to go the natural route. He says he's not going to dye his hair, and get what he calls A black helmet.

It's a funny interview.

And there's some bits of deep conversation. They talk about the worship of youth. Bana trashes Botox. He says people still look like they're 45. They just look like someone who's 45, and has had Botox.

I wonder if that's true. It's hard to know because some people who get procedures done don't admit to it. When you see an actress who looks young for her age, it's hard to tell if it's natural or medical.

Bana says some toilets in Australia have infrared cameras to prevent people from using drugs. What? I never heard of that. Does anyone know anything about it?

Oh, okay. Bana explains it. It's supposed to prevent people from seeing their veins.

That is really weird.

Now I'm learning a bit about Ferguson. First, of all he's Scottish. I always thought he was Irish. Oops.

He made some comment about having the DT's at a Melbourne opera. I wasn't sure what that was, so looked it up. Lord Wiki says it's delirium tremens. It can involve tremors, diarrhea, hallucinations, and other stuff. It's usually caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Anyway, I was curious about Ferguson's history with alcohol. He joked about being an alcoholic. I was hoping he was a recovering one, and Lord Wiki says he is. That's good. He's been sober since 1992. Still, he likes talking about alcohol. He eagerly recommends a Scotch for Bana. I think it's nice that he can talk and joke about it.

Here's Eric Bana on Rove. This interview is funny too. I like when funny people talk to each other.

Bana says if he could time travel, he'd like to see bands before they became famous.

I think I'd like to visit my relatives and ancestors. I'd love to meet my grandparents when they were teenagers, or maybe even my parents. I also wouldn't even mind seeing my self....seeing what I was like as a young child. These days, kids are so heavily documented. Most of them will be able to look back, and get a very clear picture of what they were like. People my age don't have that as much. There's an album, a few silent movies....maybe a few drawings we did. Older generations have even less. I think my parents probably have less than twenty pictures of themselves as young children.

Rove asks Bana if he'd want to go back and change anything. Bana says no. He thinks that things happen for a reason. I agree.

Now they're talking about ultrasounds. Bana says he and his wife didn't find out the gender of their baby. They wanted to be surprised. My sister and her husband do the same. I preferred knowing, but I think it's cool that they don't. It's funny. Some people seem to have such a problem with it. I don't really understand why. I think it's fun to be surprised.

Now they're asking Bana some submitted questions. Someone asks when was the last time Bana wished he had kept his mouth shut. He says when he gives advice. Yeah, I sometimes regret giving advice, mostly because I'm against giving advice....especially unsolicited. But it's so horrible to resist sometimes. The other thing I regret is when I confide in certain people. I rarely receive comfort, kudos, or understanding from them. I tell myself...Do not confide in them. You're going to end up feeling completely foolish and small. But then I slip up. There's a part of me that just won't give up. Once in awhile, I'm pleasantly surprised by the reaction. But usually, I'm not and I strongly regret opening my mouth....or writing that email.

That's why I confess so much here. That way I can get it out of my system, and I'm less compelled to share with the wrong people.

Oh no! They didn't ask the who'd-you-turn-gay-for question? That's my favorite part! Why did they skip that?

Anyway, it's late. I better quit.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Alexander Downer

I don't know who Alexander Downer is. Tomorrow's person is an actor, so maybe he fits in with him. I think there's a bunch of actors and actresses coming up.

Nope. Downer is not an actor. He's a Liberal politician.

He looks familar to me. I wonder if I saw him on The Howard Years.

Downer was the Foreign Minister from 1996-2007. He was also Leader of the Liberal Party around 1994 to 1995.

Maybe Downer had a part to play in the Tampa Affair.

Baby Alexander was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 9 September 1951.

Now I'm thinking maybe I don't recognize Downer from The Howard Years. He kind of looks like a guy that Tim and my dad used to work with.

Anyway.....

Downer was born into a political family. Grandpa Downer was Premier of South Australia, and one of the first Members of Parliament. Daddy Downer was a Member of Parliament, and Minister of Immigration. Later he left Parliament, and became the High Commissioner to London.

Young Alexander Downer started his education at Geelong Grammar School. Then when he was about thirteen, his dad got that Commissioner job, and they all moved to London. I wonder how he felt about that...excited for a new adventure, or sad about leaving his life and friends?

It looks like Downer stayed in England until 1976. He did his post secondary-education there. I'm guessing he got himself an economics degree, because he then worked for the Bank of New South Wales as an economist.

Lord Wiki says that the Bank of New South Wales is now Westpac.

Downer worked there for about a year, and then he joined the Australian Diplomatic Service. For a time he was at Brussels, and learned French.

Where is Brussels? Well, I know it's in Europe. But where? I'm going to go look it up. Oh! I'm SO dumb. It's Belgium. For some reason, I was thinking that it was a country. See. Now I've further proven that Americans have some type of faulty geography gene. I'm usually not that bad though.

I still have to find it on the map though.... Okay. Here we go. Belgium borders Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Downer did the diplomatic thing for a few years. Then he started working as an adviser to Prime Minister Fraser. Then when the Liberal Party went into the shadows, Downer was adviser to the new leader....Andrew Peacock.

In 1984, Downer became a Member of Parliament via the seat of Mayo. I don't like that because it reminds me of mayonnaise. I have a strong aversion/phobia of that stuff. It ends up I'm not alone. Last night, I caught a bit of Jimmy Fallon's show, and he said he hates mayonnaise too.

Downer had the Mayonnaise seat for a long time....until 2008. That's twenty-four years.

In 1993, Downer became Shadow Treasurer. John Hewson was the party leader at the time. Then in 1994, Downer became leader. He did that for eight months, and was then replaced by John Howard.

Lord Wiki says that what led to Downer's downfall was his off-color sense of humor. At a formal party, people talked about the Liberal Party's motto being The Things that Matter. Downer joked that the party's domestic violence policy could be called The Things That Batter.

I don't know. I personally don't find it horribly offensive. But I've never been beaten up by a spouse or boyfriend. If I had, I might feel differently. It's one of those things. In my non-experienced point of view, it's a silly play on words. That's all.

When Downer resigned as party leader, he pledged his full support to John Howard, and threatened violence to anyone who undermined Howard's chance of being Prime Minister. I think he was probably joking. The men in my family do that a lot...talk about beating people up and all that. I wonder if it's a guy thing. Or is it just my family? I don't think they threaten the actual person. Instead, it's kind of part of their venting.

I had a conversation with two people about all this. We talked about our revenge fantasies. The male said his were violent. The other female said she imagined doing stuff like slashing their tires. Mine are all about guilt. I don't want to beat someone up, or put laxatives in their hot chocolate. I imagine myself getting hurt, and then the person feeling horribly guilty that they were mean to me. Or I just simply fantasize that the person comes to their senses and apologizes. But I guess with that scenario, I sometimes imagine them getting to that point by Karma doing to them what they did to me. So in some ways, I guess I do wish harm on people. But it's not that I want them to suffer. It's more that I want them to LEARN. Karma has taught me a few lessons in life. I think that whole system works fairly well.

It looks like Downer didn't enjoy being the Liberal Party Leader. He said, The moment when I wanted to [leave] was just about the first day I started in the job. There was many a time from the first day onwards when I thought to myself, 'How the hell can I get out of this? That reminds me of me. I think I'd have the exact same reaction. I'd much rather be in Brussels having French lessons.

When Howard became Prime Minister, he let Downer choose his ministry. That's pretty cool. I've not heard of Prime Ministers doing that. But maybe they do, and it's just not mentioned.

Downer chose Foreign Minister. With his earlier traveling adventures, that probably fit him well.

Now Lord Wiki goes through the various stuff that Downer was involved with as Foreign Minister.

There was a Papua New Guinea thing. He worked with New Zealand to bring peace to some civil conflict over there. Lord Wiki says the revolt began in 1988, and killed 20,000 people. I wonder how much of a role Australia had in ending it.

In 1996, Downer worked on an anti-nuclear testing treaty. I'm not fully understanding all this. I think basically there's been anti-nuclear treaties since the 1950's, but countries have disagreed on the wording. If I'm reading this right, Downer helped write a new treaty. Maybe?

Pakistan, India, and North Korea failed to jump on board. And guess who else? Of course. The United States. But Obama says he's going to try to fix that.

In 1999, Downer tried to help with East Timor. He negotiated to let something called INTERFET into the country. East Timor was trying to get independence from Indonesia. The United Nations agreed with this, but I guess some people did not. There was a bunch of fighting. The INTERFET was brought in to try and make things more peaceful.

Lord Wiki says Osama Bin Laden wasn't happy with Australia for interfering with the East Timor thing. Really? I guess he was on Indonesia's side?

I googled Australia and Bin Laden, and got this funny video.

In 2003, there was more East Timor stuff. This involved a treaty over oil reserves. I guess basically Australia claimed some gas reserves even though they were closer to East Timor.

Lord Wiki says Downer played a part in the Tampa Affair. It looks like he might have played a big part. It was Downer who told Parliament that Australia has no obligation to welcome the asylum seekers into Australia territory.

The Howard Years has an interview with Downer about the whole incident. I can't say I agree with what Downer is saying, but I think his voice is beautiful.

Downer still refers to the Tampa folks as people smugglers.

He complains that the Norwegian Minister called him at 2 in the morning. Uh, when you have a big role in politics, shouldn't you expect to be woken up sometimes? Isn't that part of the job? Hello?! I mean I can imagine a politician being upset if someone called to say, Hey, what are you wearing to the UN meeting? Do you think a red tie would go with a blue suit? But I think a boat full of desperate people kind of warrants a phone call.

Downer says that allowing the Tampa boat into Australia waters would destroy Australia's integrity. Well, I think the response they chose instead diminished some integrity.

I think Downer would have been better off as a voice actor for children's cartoons. He'd be great as some kind of Aussie animal. Maybe a Southern Cassowary. And in this job, I doubt anyone would call and disturb Downer's sleep.

Downer says that Nauru had recently called Australia to borrow money. Australia was looking for a place to dump the asylum seekers. Downer though, Why not made a deal with Nauru?

And with New Zealand..... Downer heard a radio broadcast from there. The Prime Minister of New Zealand said that if the asylum seekers were near their coast, New Zealand would have taken them. So Downer then had the High Commissioner from New Zealand come to his office. He told him about the broadcast, and suggested that since New Zealand was so welcoming, would they be willing to take some of the refugees. Wow. He really put them on the spot. I gotta admit. That was pretty clever of Downer. Although I can't be that impressed since Australia didn't take any of the refugees....well, as far as I know.

I'm trying to think of an analogy. Okay. Here's one. Let's say Jeffrey's mom is in a nursing home, and he rarely visits her. Then Jeffrey's friend Phillip says, If that was my mom, I'd visit her every Sunday, and bring her flowers. He's all self-righteous, and Jeffrey tries to put him in his place. I'd be impressed with Jeffrey if he said, Hey, that's cool. I have an idea. We'll both go to visit her every Sunday. She'll love having two visitors. You bring the flowers. I'll bring some candy. I'd be less impressed if Jeffrey said, Cool. Then you visit her every Sunday. I'm staying home.

There's some Bali bombing stuff here. Downer was accused of not passing on intelligence. Maybe it could have saved lives? Downer argued that there wasn't enough information to justify telling the Australian people. Isn't that similar to what happened in 9/11? I mean there was a failure in passing important information.

Downer supported the war in Iraq. I can't say I'm surprised. He also supported the American imprisonment of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

After Howard stopped being Prime Minister, Downer moved to the Opposition backbench.

In May 2008, he expressed some interest in being the Shadow Treasurer. But then in July, he resigned from Parliament. I wonder why.

In his non-parliamentary life, Downer does part-time work with the United Nations regarding some peace issues in Cyprus. And he also does work for a British corporate investigation company called Hakluyt and Company.

I'm done with Lord Wiki.

Next, I'm going to read this Lateline interview. It was done in March 2009...about a year ago. The interview seems to be about Joel Fitzgibbon believing that people within his department were spying on him. Downer is asked his opinion, and Downer says that things like that don't happen. He has faith in the system. He paints Fitzgibbon as paranoid and incompetent, while painting himself as very trusting.

In the rest of the interview, he gives negative opinions on Kevin Rudd, Obama, and the people who voted for them.

He says the reason the Liberal Party isn't doing well is that the Australian public voted them out, and they don't want to rush ahead in admitting that they were wrong. Downer says, They're prepared to give Kevin Rudd and his Government a fair go; there's no question of that. That's human nature and that's entirely understandable.

And here's another ABC interview. This one was done about a year before the last one....March 2008.

Downer acts very noble. He says, I mean whether I'll talking to Condi Rice or whether I'm talking to the President of the Mt Barker Rotary Club, I mean they're both people and have different interests and different perspectives but I enjoy both. That's a good attitude to have. Although I think it's one that 99.5% of humans claim to have, and about 15% truly do.

Downer says he loves to read. So, that's one thing I can like about him.

Downer says his wife didn't like him being in politics. Well, that's not very supportive. Why would she have married him then? If you don't like politics, why would you marry a man who's father and grandfather were Members of Parliament? Maybe she fell in love despite her misgivings. That happens sometimes. I will never marry someone who loves country music. Then you fall crazy in love with a fan, and you tell yourself they're not that much into it. It won't be too awful....

Towards the end of the interview, Downer starts accusing the ABC of being left-wing. This is when the ABC interviewer mentions that some people say that Australia has contracted out their foreign policy to the United States. Downer says.... but you know it's all just part of the left wing narrative, I mean of course we didn't contract our foreign policy out to Washington. I mean where do, it's just, it's just this sort of left wing narrative and anti liberal narrative, they just run and run...

Downer then says they did NOT agree with the United States on everything. So, the interviewer asks him to name a thing in which they disagree with the United States. He responds: You bought it yourself, you put me on the program and you decide you decide you'll have a big confrontation with me about us contracting our foreign policy out to the United Nations.

Wow! What drama! Does he answer the question though? Let me read further.....

Okay. Here it is. Downer and his people supported the idea of an international criminal court. The United States did not. And he says it's not always Australia following in what the United States does. Sometimes Australia has influence over the United States.

I'm going to take a break, and go outside with Jack so he can ride his bike. The weather is very nice today.

Then I'll come back and do more reading. Or maybe I'll watch some videos. We'll see......

I'm back.

Here's a confession. I do all that talk about how we should graciously accept differences of opinion. Well, just now I was on Facebook and had an urge to delete a "friend" because she became a "fan" of some Anti-Obama healthcare thing. I'm such a hypocrite. But the good news is I came to my senses. I didn't delete her from my list.

It is hard to tolerate differences of opinions though. I can get agitated when I see things I strongly disagree with. But I try my best to be accepting, hoping that others will be accepting in return. Most of them do...which is good, since I'm so weird.

While I was getting ready to go outside, I thought of the whole media bias thing. Was Downer right in accusing ABC of having a left bias? Maybe. Well, I guess I can go ask Lord Wiki.

Before I do that though....I'd say all media has a bias of some sort. I think it's funny that us on the left bash Fox for being so biased. But the stuff we watch is biased as well. I actually don't watch a lot of news on TV. The one thing I watch sometimes is Stephen Colbert. That's VERY biased....and very funny too.

What I think is sad is when righties watch Fox news and are completely ignorant of the bias, and/or the manipulation of information. I also think it's sad when lefties watch stuff like Michael Moore and don't realize how manipulative that is.

Well, Lord Wiki says ABC HAS been accused of having a left bias. But then it's also been accused of having a right bias. Do any of you notice a bias? Left or right?

I'm asking Lord Wiki about other American news networks. He says CNN and MSNBC have both been accused of having a left bias. Then Fox has the really right bias. I wonder if there's any that are seen as being more in the middle. A person on fluther.com suggests the best way to get unbiased news in America is to watch a variety of news channels...including international ones. That makes sense. What I do for news is go to Google News. They have headlines from a variety of sources. But who knows. Google might have biases as well. Maybe certain sources are more often emphasized.

For those of you in Australia, which news source do you think is least biased? I had been watching Sky News for awhile, and I got the sense it was biased a little to the right. I'm not sure if that was my imagination or not.

Anyway, back to Downer.....

Here's a video of Downer accidentally insulting his wife in Parliament. It's cute. I think I'm more amused by the reaction of Parliament. Those MP's sure got the giggles. It's like when my third grade teacher would read us chapter books, and we'd giggle like crazy when something like toilet paper was mention.

This video is pretty classic. It's Downer doing Midnight Oil....or so it seems. It made me laugh. I don't know if it's really that funny, or I'm just in one of those easily amused moods.

There are all these serious videos....interviews and stuff. But now I've gotten in the mood for comedy. Bring me the funny stuff!

Here's a Chaser thing, but it's not working for me. See if it works for you, and tell me if it's funny or not.

Oh wait. Now it works for me. It's funny, in a very immature silly way. And I'm silly and immature, so it fits me quite well.

All right. I think I'm going to quit here.....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew Charlton

Matthew Charlton was a leader of the Labor Party. I think he came right after Frank Tudor. For a moment there, I couldn't remember Tudor's name. Oops.

Lord Wiki says that Charlton was the Labor Party Leader from 1922 to 1928. I guess he got in after Tudor died. Scullin replaced him in 1928, and soon after became Prime Minister.

Baby Matthew was born in Linton, Victoria on 15 March 1866. I think he was the same age as Tudor. Wasn't his birth year 1866?

Okay, yes. I just checked. Tudor was just a couple of months older than Charlton.

I'm going to go to Google Maps and find Linton. It's right near Ballarat...about forty-five minutes to the south-west.

When Charlton was about five, his family moved to Lambton, New South Wales. That's a suburb in Newcastle. It was a coal-mining area, and after Charlton finished with primary school at Lambton Public School, he worked in the mines. I guess he was a bit like Joseph Cook.

Lord Wiki says that Charlton was a coal trapper. This was a job specifically for children. It involved opening a trap door, when the coal and it's transporters came zooming by.

In his early twenties, Charlton got married.

Like most Labor politicians I've researched, Charlton's political life began with union stuff. In 1896, plans were announced to reduce coal worker's wages. Understandably, people were upset about this. Charlton joined the fight, and unfortunately they lost. He left the coal-mining world for awhile, and did gold stuff in Kalgoorlie. Around two years later, he returned to New South Wales.

In 1903, Charlton joined the New South Wales Legislative Assembly with the seat of Waratah. Then for some reason he was transfered to Northumberland. I don't think I've ever heard of a transfer like that.

During his time in local politics, Charlton continued to work in defense of miners. Although it doesn't really seem that he had much luck with any of that. Lord Wiki says, Charlton was unsuccessful in gaining better conditions for the miners but he did settle the dispute, talking to miners around the state and convincing them to return to work. That's kind of sad.

In 1910, Charlton went Federal. He got the seat of Hunter, which is now the seat of Joel Fitzgibbon. Edmond Barton was the first to have that seat.

In the several years, Charlton served under Fisher, Cook, Hughes, and then Tudor. Then in 1922, he got to be the leader. He never won an election though, and never got to be Prime Minister.

This is kind of interesting. Lord Wiki says Charlton was against conscription, yet he voted for Hughes' conscription legislation to show loyalty. Why would he do that? He also defended Hughes against attacks. Did he like Hughes as a person, and stuck up for him for those reasons? Or was it some kind of political move?

I respect loyalty, but I think it's more important to stick by one's principles. Although I think you can do both, in a way. You can be loyal by not abandoning a friend or colleague...remaining friends with them despite your differences. But I don't think you have to vote for something you don't believe in.

I have friends that are Republican, and I wouldn't abandon them because of their political beliefs. But I wouldn't vote a certain way to make them happy, or give my time or money to one of their Republican causes.

Lord Wiki says that as leader, Charlton lost the election because of illness. He couldn't do enough campaigning. Although there's no proof he would have won if healthy.

In 1924, Charlton went to the Geneva Conference. He was very anti-war by this time, and wanted Australia to sign the Geneva Protocol. This would prohibit poisonous gases and biological warfare. Australia wouldn't sign it. Charlton lost that battle.

I'm trying to find out more about this Protocol, who signed it and all that. This website says that some countries said they'd see it as ceasing to be binding if other countries used chemical/biological weapons on them first. I guess that makes sense....sort of. I guess it's how nuclear war works. We won't hit you if you don't hit us. I guess nuclear weapons would count as chemical weapons.

Although if I'm reading this right, it looks like many countries have removed this condition. This includes Australia. Other countries that have withdrawn the reservation include: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

My damn country hasn't changed it. Oh well, maybe Obama will work on that now that the health thing is somewhat fixed.

It looks like the first country to remove the conditions was Ireland. I'm very impressed with them.

Now I'm going to look at the Australian Biographical Dictionary. Maybe I shall learn something new there.

Charlton's father was a miner from Durham, England. I wonder when he came to Australia.

There's no mention of siblings here, and this usually is mentioned. Maybe Charlton was an only child?

Charlton was an advocate for nationalization of the coal-mining industry. I guess this means he wanted uniform laws and wages? Supposedly, the competition between mines across Australia contribute to lower wages. I don't really understand that. I would think the competition would cause higher wages? Although maybe the competition was in selling coal, and not with hiring workers. Although I'd still think one would lead to the other. From what I know of modern business, companies compete for both customers and employees. Or am I wrong about that?

Anyway, the mine nationalization thing didn't go through. It was seen as being too radical.

I'm sure the scene with Hughes walking out was a spectacular one. Charlton started off defending Hughes. But when Hughes walked out, Charlton wasn't one of those who joined him. He stayed behind, and supported Tudor. Parliament is full of drama. Who needs soap operas?

Charlton died in December 1948....a few months before my mom was born. He would have been about eighty-two when he died.

I think this is going to be another short post.