Saturday, February 19, 2011

Geoffrey Robertson, Grand Hotels, Oxford Street, and Joseph

1. Read article about Julian Assange on CNN.  The headline says Australia wants Assange treated fairly if he is extradited to Sweden.  Yeah...Australia, maybe.  But not its Prime Minister.

Paul Stephens the Australian ambassador to Sweden is working on Assange's behalf.

The article says that Assange's lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, has said that Sweden views Assange as public enemy #1.  I hope that's an exaggeration.  It's a bit nuts if it's not. If Assange is the most evil thing they have encountered in their country, Sweden really MUST be fabulous. It's like having a head cold and saying that's the worst thing that has happened to you. I would say such a  person is pretty lucky.

2. Decided to learn about Geoffrey Robertson.  Lord Wiki says he was born and raised in Sydney.   Later he moved to London.

Robertson defended a guy named Rick Gibson.  Gibson got in trouble for making an art sculpture using human fetuses.  It sounds really bad. I pictured him digging through the trash at abortion clinics. But he used fetuses that had been dead for over twenty years.  He got them from an anatomy professor.  It's probably not that much different than the old dead fetuses that are on display in science museums. 

Lord Wiki says Robertson defended Salmon Rushdie.  Is America's attitude towards Assange that different from the Islamic view of Rushdie?  Maybe it's a little less violent, but the same general idea is there.

3. Realized that I MAY have already written a whole post on Robertson. That would be embarrassing. I mean it wouldn't be embarrassing that I wrote about him. It would be embarrassing that I wrote about him, and then forgot.  Hopefully that's not the case.

4. Looked through my list of biography posts, and am very relieved to see that Geoffrey Robertson is NOT on there. I was actually in a very blah mood this morning, and this little thing has cheered me up a bit.  

5. Looked at Geoffrey Robertson's website.  There's a photo on the site. Is it him? He kind of looks like Julian Assange.  

The website says that Robertson worked on the case to help Tasmanian Aboriginals get the remains of their ancestors back.  British museums had this idea that they should experiment on them. I feel so supportive of this case, which made me think I'm hypocritical, because I didn't have sympathy for the old dead fetuses.  But I think there IS a difference. A dead body is just a dead body. If no one is there to claim it, it might as well be used for....whatever.  But if the body is important to a culture, they should have the right to get it back.  

I still feel like a hypocrite.  Usually, I'm not very sympathetic towards dead bodies. I believe in paying more attention to those who are still living.  Or if people want to give attention to the dead I think they should direct their attention to their spirit, not the corpse.  That's my USUAL attitude.

However,  I remember hearing about the stolen Tasmanian bodies, and I remember hearing about Truganini being so nervous about her body being taken. It bothered me. Why? I don't know.  I suppose I have conflicting morals.

6. Listened to the song that's ninth on ARIA's list of the most popular Aussie singles.   

The song is "Reflection" by Bliss N Eso. Lord Wiki says that one of the singers (Jonathan Notley) was originally from America. 

7. Listened to Never Land, another song by Bliss N Eso. I wonder what that dialogue, in the beginning, is from.

Well, it wasn't just the beginning. The whole recording was talking. Strange. I guess it's more of a poem.

8. Saw an old photo of the Grand Hotel in Melbourne.  The hotel building is still around, AND people can still stay there.  That's good.  

The hotel's website has a history page.  

The land the hotel occupies was once a race track. For horse races, I presume?

Embarrassingly, I'm confused by the history.  I'm now consulting Lord Wiki.  He says the hotel is where the Australian constitution was written.

What confused me on the hotel's website is when the building was finished. Lord Wiki says it was finished in stages. So, that's probably why I was a bit lost. The first stage was completed in 1884.

The hotel was popular in the beginning half of the 20th century.  Then in the 1960's it declined in popularity. People seemed to prefer more modernized hotels.  Why? I don't know.

Lord Wiki is confusing me. The hotel website says it's named The Grand Hotel. Lord Wiki says it's called Hotel Windsor. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong thing?

I followed Lord Wiki's external link thing and got a totally different hotel.

I am SO confused.   

Maybe I just don't have a good eye, and all fancy buildings look alike to me.

9. Went to Google Maps to try to figure things out.  They ARE two separate hotels. It would take about 30 minutes to walk from one hotel to the other. Here is the Grand Hotel on Google Maps.    And here is the Hotel Windsor on Google Maps.   

10. Looked at a historical photo on the Hotel Windsor's site. This one looks like the picture I saw originally—on the National Library of Australia page.  So Lord Wiki and the National Library of Australia was referring to Hotel Windsor.  

11. Read more closely and carefully.  The Grand Hotel (NOT the Hotel Windsor one) was originally not a hotel. Lord Wiki says it used to be the offices for the Victorian Railways. I think the Grand Hotel said that on their website.  I just got a bit lost.   

12. Listened to the 10th song on the ARIA list of top Aussie singles; Boy and Bear's "Fall At Your Feet".  It's a cover of a Crowded House song.

Lord Wiki says Boy and Bear is from Sydney.

The song reminds me of being at a restaurant, and waiting to get a table.  I don't know why. Maybe at one time, we were waiting at a restaurant, and the original Crowded House version was playing.

I picture myself drinking a watery diet coke, and then thinking crap, why am I drinking this?  Now I'm going to have to get up and pee during the meal.   

13. Listened to the Crowded House version of Fall at Your Feet. I might like this version a little more.  Again, it makes me think of watery diet coke. It almost reminds of going to a movie theater.  The movie ends. You get out. You feel a bit sick from the popcorn. Your bladder is about to burst.  You know soon you'll have to go outside and face the bright sun....and reality.

14. Listened to Rabbit Song by Boy and Bear. And I looked at the lyrics, because rabbits are very important to me....spiritually speaking.  I hoped the lyrics might have all the answers to my questions. Ah.  No such luck.

15. Watched the video I'm On Your Side by Powderfinger.  The video is about the flood. I'm not sure if the song was written specifically about the flood.     

Lord Wiki says no.  It was created previously but unreleased. Powderfinger released the song on their website. All proceeds go to the flood relief efforts.

I don't think this video is an official one. I think someone just took the song, and added their own photos.  The reason I think this is the video has only 1,652 viewers. If it was official, I think it would be more popular.

Anyway, the song is number 19 on the ARIA chart. I'm skipping around a bit. I decided I don't want to go through every single song.  I get too stressed when I give myself assignments like that. I started to feel rushed, because I figure they'll change the charts next week.   

16. Went to Powderfinger's website.  The very first page has the flood relief single. 

I don't know how I feel about companies and celebrities announcing that they're giving proceeds to charity.  I guess it's okay.  It kills two birds with one stone. They give money to charity, and they get publicity for their product/artwork. It might also encourage people to buy their stuff more. Well, I don't really need a new song, but since its for charity, I'll go for it.

If it's just about being generous, why not just donate to charity directly? Why do I need to purchase yogurt for a yogurt company to donate to breast cancer? Don't they have enough money already that they could donate?

I guess it's a way for companies and artists to shout out.  Hey, we give back to the community!   And I guess that's needed.  If people make a lot of money, it's easier for them to be viewed as greedy and materialistic. So this is a way for them to do something good and show the world that they're decent people.

When I self-published my novel Thirty Cats, I think I had plans of giving some of the profits to one of the Neurofibromatosis charities.  I think it was because I'd feel guilty if I ended up making bunches of dollars off of other people's medical problems. Anyway, it's not an issue, because I am so far from ever making any type of profit from that book.   

17. Saw a photo of Oxford Street from 1901.  I wonder when it became known as a gay and lesbian area.  

I'm not finding any easy answers via Lord Wiki and Google. Maybe it happened gradually.

18. Found an editorial with some answers about Oxford Street. Brad Ruting said it became a gay area in the 1960's.  He talks about how it's declining as a gay area. Why?  Because it used to be a place where a highly persecuted group of people could find each other, and get support. Be themselves.     Now times have changed.  More and more people and places are becoming gay-friendly.

Ruting says:  Despite (or perhaps because of) these changes, “gay” lifestyle has lost its appeal to many younger homosexuals. Many openly gay people feel comfortable living and working right across the Sydney area and further afield. The Internet has reduced the need for gay services and entertainment to physically locate close together, and radically transformed the way gay people meet.
Diversity and individualism are also becoming more prevalent within the gay community. Younger gays are rejecting stereotypes about what their sexuality should entail, instead seeking out more meaningful communities

I think Ruting is pretty much saying that it's actually a GOOD thing that Oxford Street is needed less.

Maybe homosexuality is beginning to be one aspect of someone, rather than such a huge part of their identity.  I know it's different for everyone. For some, they might just happen to be gay.  They might not center their life around that fact.  Others might strongly embrace the whole gay lifestyle. It might define their social life, political affiliations, free time, etc.

19. Sang One Night the Moon and Tenterfield Saddler while getting ready to go to my dad's birthday celebrations.  I love both those songs. Of course....I totally mess up the lyrics when singing.

20. Worried about a friend in Sydney. She's very sick right now. If you could spare a few moments of prayer or positive thoughts, I'd really appreciate it.

21. Enjoyed listening to music with my sister. We listened to the birthday CD I made her. I put a few Australian songs on it.  I think it would be so great if she became a fan of one of them.  She liked Sime Nugent (Gentle as She Goes) a lot.  It's one of my favorite Australian songs. I used to have it as my ring tone.  

My sister thought Missy Higgins sounded like Indigo Girls.  I haven't listened to enough Indigo Girls to know if I agree or not.

22. Went to Sime Nugent's website and listened to some samples of their music.

23. Read that Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is going to be filmed in Sydney.  Aren't most of his movies filmed there?  Maybe not.  Anyway, it's going to be in 3D.  Why? I'm so sick of 3D.  And it's ridiculous that we have to pay extra for it.  I mean it's cool when it's fun, and things look like they're going to hit you.  I loved when Jaws 3 was in 3D. But I don't think the subtle stuff is worth it.   

24. Found out Romeo + Juliet was filmed in Mexico; not Australia.  

25. Listened to Jason Donovan sing Any Dream Will Do.   I LOVE this song. It's one of my favorites.

A crash of drums.
A flash of light.
My golden coat flew out of sight.
The colors faded into darkness. 
I was left alone. 
May I return to the beginning
The light is dimming, and the dream is too.

 I often think of the song when something I love is coming to an a trip to Australia.  It's a perfect song to listen to when you're coming to the end of the last Harry Potter book. That's happening to us now.  We have a few chapters left, and I've been feeling a bit sad about it.   It's been our bedtime ritual since August. I'm not sure how we're going to replace it.  We might read The Tales of Beedle the Bard.  

Then maybe after a break....we'll return to the beginning. 

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.....

26. Listened to Jason Donovan in Joseph Mega-Remix.   It's a fun song.  

27. Lost my desire for Australia to become a Republic.  I think this comes from reading The King's Speech.   And maybe it also comes from my love of Harry Potter, and our trip to London.   And now I'm remembering my love for Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber.  If Australia is going to have a mother, England is a good one to have. I'm a little jealous. I wish England would take us back too.   I feel a bit lonely here in America.  If we grovel, will they take us back?