I’ve been reading a lot

And at times wish I hadn’t.

Having been a journalist in a previous lifetime, and one that always believed that the truth mattered, it didn’t take long to realise that journalists should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Newspapers, and all other forms of media, will only write what they believe will sell, or what they think the public wants to read. The truth, sadly, is not the first thing on the readers mind, only that someone is to blame for something they have no control over, and it doesn’t matter who.

And the more outlandish the situation, the more the public will buy into it.

This, I guess, is why we like reading about celebrities and royalty, not for the good they might do, but the fact they stumble and make mistakes, and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

Similarly, if the media can beat up a subject, like the corona-virus, and make it worse that it is, then people will lap up the continuing saga, as it relates to them, and will take one of two stances, that they believe the horror of it, and do as they’re asked, or disbelieve it because nothing can be that bad, and ignore it and the consequences of disobedience. knowing the government will not press too hard against the non compliers simply because of domocracy issues it will stir up.

That is, then the media will get a hold of this angle and push it, and people will start to think disobedience is a good thing not a bad.

So, our problems of trying to get a fair and balanced look at what the coronavirus is all about is nigh on impossible. We are continuously bombarded with both right and wrong information, and the trouble is, both sides are very plausibly supported by facts.

And that’s the next problem we have in reporting. We can get facts to prove anything we want. It;s called the use and abuse of statistics, and was an interest part of the journalism degree I studied for. We were told all about statistics, good and bad, and using them to prove the veracity of our piece.

I remember writing a piece for the tutor extolling the virtues of a particular person who was probably the worst human since Vlad the Impaler, using only the facts that suited my narrative. I also remember the bollocking he gave me for doing so, but had to acknowledge that sometimes that would happen.

Integrity of reporting only went as far as the editor, and if the editor hated something, you had to hate it too. This is infamously covered in various texts where newspaper publishers pick sides, and can influence elections, and governments. It still happens.

So, the bottom line is, when I;m reading an article in the media, I always take it with a grain of salt, and do my own fact checking, remembering, of course, not just to fact check to prove the bias one way of the other, but the get a sense of balance.

You can see at the moment when elections don’t matter, no one is talking about what they’re going to do for us, no one is telling us what their policies are. It’s simply schoolyard tit for tat garbage speak. What happened to the town hall meeting, a long and winding speech encompassing what the government plans to do for its people now, and then genuinely answer questions?

Perhaps we should ban campaigning, and just get each party to write a book about what they intend to do, and keep them away from the papers, the TV, and any other form of media, in other words, don’t let them speak!

And don’t get me started about the drivel they speak in the parliament. Five year olds could do a better job.

OK, rant over.

Have you ever…

Started to write a post, get so far, and another theme or idea slips in, and demands to be written first?

I’m on this nostalgia kick, simply because when I turned on the TV to catch up with the latest COVID news, it was on a channel that shows old movies.

In case you don’t realize it, I love old movies, not just those from Hollywood, but also from Britain.

What was on?

An American in Paris.

Well, it had to be one of my favorites, even though I’m not a great fan of Gene Kelly, the sheer majesty of the music more than makes up for the story in between.

Could it be said, then, this was from the golden years of Hollywood? Such bright and cheerful movies such as Singing in the Rain, and An American in Paris, perhaps exemplify the Hollywood musical.

Years before, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the quintessential musical stars, followed by the likes of Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin, and later Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. A couple of musicals, in particular, comes to mind, firstly the Wizard of Oz and then High Society.

Moving forward to more modern times, several stand out in the1960s, My Fair Lady and Sound of Music. By this time theatergoers were dining on the superb talents of Rogers and Hammerstein, and Learner and Lowe. Of the former, musicals such as Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I were on my list of favorites.

Even later still in the 1970s, there is Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly, which has a connection to the past with its director, none other than, yes, Gene Kelly.

But it seems once the 60s had passed the notion of the Hollywood blockbuster musical had gone, and we were left with clip shows like That’s Entertainment, put together while Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were still alive. WE still had the film versions of the stage plays, but the lustre had, somehow, gone.

Perhaps it will return, who knows, after all, everything old is usually new again, it just takes time to go full circle.

My disdain for some reporters, and reporting these days

It is sometimes quite trashy and that’s saying something!

Having been a journalist in a previous lifetime, and one that always believed that the truth mattered, it didn’t take long to realise that journalists should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Newspapers, and all other forms of media, will only write what they believe will sell, or what they think the public wants to read. The truth, sadly, is not the first thing on the readers mind, only that someone is to blame for something they have no control over, and it doesn’t matter who.

And the more outlandish the situation, the more the public will buy into it.

This, I guess, is why we like reading about celebrities and royalty, not for the good they might do, but the fact they stumble and make mistakes, and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

Similarly, if the media can beat up a subject, like the corona-virus, and make it worse that it is, then people will lap up the continuing saga, as it relates to them, and will take one of two stances, that they believe the horror of it, and do as they’re asked, or disbelieve it because nothing can be that bad, and ignore it and the consequences of disobedience. knowing the government will not press too hard against the non compliers simply because of domocracy issues it will stir up.

That is, then the media will get a hold of this angle and push it, and people will start to think disobedience is a good thing not a bad.

So, our problems of trying to get a fair and balanced look at what the coronavirus is all about is nigh on impossible. We are continuously bombarded with both right and wrong information, and the trouble is, both sides are very plausibly supported by facts.

And that’s the next problem we have in reporting. We can get facts to prove anything we want. It;s called the use and abuse of statistics, and was an interest part of the journalism degree I studied for. We were told all about statistics, good and bad, and using them to prove the veracity of our piece.

I remember writing a piece for the tutor extolling the virtues of a particular person who was probably the worst human since Vlad the Impaler, using only the facts that suited my narrative. I also remember the bollocking he gave me for doing so, but had to acknowledge that sometimes that would happen.

Integrity of reporting only went as far as the editor, and if the editor hated something, you had to hate it too. This is infamously covered in various texts where newspaper publishers pick sides, and can influence elections, and governments. It still happens.

So, the bottom line is, when I;m reading an article in the media, I always take it with a grain of salt, and do my own fact checking, remembering, of course, not just to fact check to prove the bias one way of the other, but the get a sense of balance.

We have state elections coming up where I live, but it does not sink to the personal sniping level as it does in the US, we haven’t sunk that low yet, but we haven;t got past the sniping about all the wrongs and failed promises of the govern,ment of the day, or the endless tirade against the opposition and how bad a job they did whenb they were previously in government.

You can see, no one is talking about what they’re going to do for us, no one is telling us what their policies are. It’s simply schoolyard tit for tat garbage speak. What happened to the town hall meeting, a long and winding speech encompassing the policies, what the government plans to do for its people in the next three years, and then genuinely answer questions?

Perhaps we should ban campaigning, and just get each party to write a book about what they intend to do, and keep them away from the papers, the TV, and any other form of media, in other words, don’t let them speak!

And don’t get me started about the drivel they speak in the parliament. Five year olds could do a better job.

OK, rant over.

What I’ve been watching…

I just happened to be flicking through the endless channels of our cable service and remarking of the terrible selection available, that I stumpled across a John Wayne western.

On odd choice you might sat for a person who lives in Australia, and has had no familiarisation with old American history and the wild west. Yes, I suspect it was nothing like what we see in the movies and on television, but, no one does the American wild west like John Wayne.

Of course, it helps when other stars are in it like Dean Martine, known more for his easy style of singing than for his gun slinging. That too of Walter Brennan who turned up in an old television series The Real McCoy’s, and Ricky Nelson from the Nelson’s, another television show we used to watch.

That western was called Rio Bravo. it had basically the same script as El Dorado, and each followed the other, so I got a two for one hit. El Dorado had James Caan and Robert Mitchum, another two favorites.

Not long after that I got another dose of Wayne and Martin in The Sons of Katie Elder, no so much the same script, but the same sort of rollicking western. Bad guys, yes, were dressed in black. You could always tell who they were, without introduction.

And the landscapes the films were shot against, picturesque indeed.

There are others, like True Grit, with Glen Campbell, and it seems that a western can take a singer and turn them into an actor of sorts. Certainly, True Grit is one of my favourites.

When that brief moment of euphoria died away, it was back to the search for entertainment, and I ended up sampling a few series, just to see if any were worth watching.

Snowpiercer – what an interesting premise, seven years going around in circles on a train with what is suspected to be the last of civilization. I suspect there are more people from other countries alive, just not using a form of transport. It wasn’t all that bad…

Bridgerton – An interesting twist on the bread and butter period productions from the BBC and ITV. My favourite, and the only sane member of the family was Eloise, and don’t we all aspire as writers to be like Lady Whistledown

The Outpost – yes it’s a teen angst show, but you have to suspend belief sometime in your dotage, and settle into what might be called entertainment

His Dark Materials – Read above. Ruth Wilson is deliciously evil, most of the time!

Pennyworth – Who knew that Batman’s valet was such a complex character, with such a dry sense of humor.

Star Trek Discovery – I’m never sure where this is going or why, and at the end of this series, I’m still in the dark. Perhaps that’s why Star Trek is such demanding viewing.

The Crown – Yes, I knew there was a reason why I hated Prince Charles, and now I know. If it could be said there was a sane member of that family, it’s probably Princess Anne, though she might tend to disagree with me with the brothers she has.

I let you know if I find anything else that might tempt me to turn on the TV.

It’s certainly not to watch CNN or Fox News I can tell you.

After the anger, the serenity

I wanted to write a bit about how my day was going, and then I got angry.  It was a slow fuse because most of what I was angry about I’d been reading this morning.

And, yes, it’s about COVID 19, it’s about political leaders, those in power and those in opposition.

Listening to our opposition leader, briefly before I turned him off to watch a rerun of McHale’s Navy, it annoyed me that he had no answers to offer, only criticism.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone in the world.

Political leaders tended to blame everyone else for a pandemic that they universally were not prepared for, was totally unexpected, and looking like it’s going to be a huge disaster, not just here but everywhere.

The point is, we’ve had movies that have shown us exactly what happens, and I cannot imagine that anyone would say, well, that’s just in someone’s imagination.  Not it’s not.  Yes, it’s very, very real, and someone, no everyone, better sit up and take notice.

We live in a sophisticated world, where the bugs, viruses, sicknesses and getting smarter, and more resistant to the drugs we have.  Everyone knows it was inevitable, but who the hell is doing something about it?

The incompetence of the people who are supposedly in charge beggars belief.

Oh, God, I’m back on my soapbox.

Forgive me.

I’ll shut up about it now.

I’m trying to imagine what it’s like in the cold, because it’s the height of summer here.  IT’s not helping my imagination,  so let’s try…

It’s cold today, about 14 degrees Celsius, when it’s usually 27 degrees Celsius.  The sun is letting us down, and I suppose I should be grateful that we are not suffering from an ice age.

To be honest, I was seriously considering lighting the log fire.  Instead, we have reverse cycle air-conditioning, which is probably, in the long run, cheaper.

Have you seen how much it costs to buy wood?

But…

That could have made it difficult to write.

Not to come up with inspiration, but literally write, because my office is colder than a chiller room.  My beer in storage out here is colder than it is in the fridge.  Well, that sounded better in my head than on paper, but you get what I mean.

So, instead of writing, I sat down and binge-watched Sweet Magnolias, a light-hearted series from Netflix, and is of the same vein as Chesapeake Shores, etc, and more the sort of program I’d expect from Hallmark.

It was good.  It hooked me.

Three sets of lives intertwined in a largish town in middle America perhaps.  I heard Charleston mentioned so perhaps it was in South Carolina.

The good thing about it?  Not one mention of COVID 19.

Just good old-fashioned heartache, and trials and tribulations of trying to live your life, bumping up against the obstacles life throws up at you.

The town was called Serenity, so there’s a pun in there somewhere.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done tomorrow.

Is this more TV gold?

I have been watching television for a long, long time, and a lot of it has come from either the US or from Britain.

I have Cable TV by satellite, an interesting contradiction in terms, and it has a channel that shows all of these old series, such as,

The Prisoner, a rather fascinating series that starred Patrick McGoohan about a man who became a number. Of course week after week we puzzled over who he was, and came to the conclusion he was an ex spy put out to pasture. Each week he’d try to escape, each week a big white ball would appear on the scene. And what was his number? 7 I think.

Years later I saw Patrick McGoohan in an episode of Columbo, so he must have been popular in the US.

The Avengers, which was my all time favourite because of Emma Peel. Yes, huge crush I’m afraid. But, then, I think Diana Rigg had a lot more men with crushes. Nobody really cared about the others, one of which was Patrick McNee, but I couldn’t tell you who his character was, or who Emma’s partner in the show was.

The New Avengers was not a patch on the original, but I did watch a few episodes because of Purdy, who, of course was Joanna Lumley, equally as intriguing as Emma Peel.

The Saint, only because I liked reading the book versions of the stories by Leslie Charteris, and that my mother liked Roger Moore so we got to see it. That came from when Moore was in Ivanhoe, a real knight rather than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Roger Moore of course turned up later among other roles, as James Bond. Probably not the best contender for the role.

Upstairs, Downstairs, a forerunner to Downtown Abbey, the first introduction to the lost class system that gradually disappeared from the 1900’s onwards.

Rumpole of the Bailey, which starred an Australian actor, Leo McKern, who was a delightful claret drinking barrister that never had ambitions of being a judge, and hinged his success on the infamous Penge Bungalow Murders trial. I like reading the books too.

Are You Being Served, with John Inman, and others that made this show a riot of a comedy. We saw John Inman much later in a stage play in Melbourne, and when two people turned up late and interrupted the performance, Inman recited all the lines of all the roles up to that point so they wouldn’t be left in the dark about what was going on,

It was one of those rare performance’s when you just had to be there to believe it.

More on other series later.

Past conversations with my cat – 94

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This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 80

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160907_135509

This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.

Damn.

He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.

Good.

For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 67

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

This is Chester. He’s come down from his bed in our bedroom to see what the commotion is about.

He stops at the top of the stairs down into the lounge room and sees the TV.

I might have guessed, the Maple Leafs are playing, he says.

Yep, I say, gleefully, and they’re winning.

Its not over until you know what…

Way to be a spoilsport. Stop complaining and take a seat. It’s a new day, a new coach, and a new invigoration in the team.

He sits and does that wrap around thing with his tail that indicates irritability.

Don’t get your hopes up, he says. And shouldn’t you be out in the office working on your NaNoWriMo project.

Under control I say. It’s practically writing itself.

Is that a shake of his head?

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 62

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160921_071506

This is Chester.  You wouldn’t think he would have an interest in horse racing.

But…

He does.  Today, in Australia, is the day the Melbourne Cup is run.  It seems to be the biggest thing on the racing calendar, not only in Melbourne but the rest of the country.

Chester, as usual, doesn’t seem to think it’s all that great.

He wants to know why the cat races are not televised.

What cat races?

It seems he had been watching Fox Sports, and there’s dog races, greyhounds he says.

I’ve heard of them, even went once or twice when we lived in Melbourne, where there was a dog race track.

Well, he says, if they can race dogs, they can race cats.

I appear a little sceptical.  What are they going to chase?

Mice.

Isn’t that a little cruel, I mean, you’ll get the animal rights people up in arms.

Over mice, he snorts.  No one likes mice.  But if it’s a problem, why not rats?  Everyone hates rats.

So, I say, you’re up for it then.  We could make a killing.

A shake of the head, and nose in the air.  “Of course not, I’m a pedigree cat.  That’s for the alley cats.  I’ll be watching from the Royal box thankyou.”