Saturday, 22 August 2015

Is it time to wave Larry Stylinson goodbye?

I'm a male 1D fan.

I know it's terrible. All my sophisticated music loving friends will pour derision on me. Who cares? My play list still has the Beatles and Bowie in it, but it also has Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, 5sos and a few others, but no one features as much as those five tattooed ex-teens with their cheesy songs.

Yes I'm gay and yes they are good looking young guys, but no, that's not what's going on. In some strange way I feel like I have watched Liam, Harry, Louis, Nail and the now, 'normal lifed', Zayn grow up. I think they've managed that part of their lives incredibly well. I like the fact that I saw real loss and despair in all five band members when they were tossed out of X-Factor UK.

Those poor hopeful kids were in tears. Then they got a reprieve and for me, that's the moment that made them; not the reprieve, but the failure. There's a great quote that as a person you don't learn much from success - I don't think this is always true, but you certainly learn less from it. It allows indulgent, self satisfying thoughts that dampen drive and determination. When the dreams of the 1D guys ended so early, or so they thought, that moment seems to have been seared into their minds and it has lasted until very recently. I think more than anything else it has kept them level headed as they've grown.

They know only too well how lucky they are. Lucky to have been selected at all, let alone as a band of five. Lucky to have the hits. The fans that love them and now careers of five years taking them around the world four times over with no sign of the first class flights being grounded anytime soon.

They also work hard. Count the shows. Time and effort has tempered them so even their harshest critic has to begrudgingly admit they are competent singers. Have a listen to Torn from the XFactor and compare it to some of the vocals going on in Best Song Ever. These guys have come a long way.

And they have the best conspiracy theory bubbling along beside them since the Beatles with 'Paul is Dead'. Larry Stylinson is not as grand as the 'Paul is Dead' mystery, but it's got twice the clues to be sleuthed out. The fans dubbed their conspiracy Larry Stylinson right from the start. I've written about Larry before because it's just so damn cute - true or not.

The saga goes, according to some fans, Harry and Louis are in love, together, possibly married and having their passion filled tryst hidden away by everyone from their management to Obama. Other fans are equally adamant they're just two guys who like each other - a lot.

The anti Larry shippers place the conspiracy as nothing more than coincidence and happenstance that add up to two very close and supportive friends. Even if this is the case, what a wonderful friendship it is and how great to see two guys showing obvious affection towards each other. The other band members show affection towards one another as well, but Harry and Louis seem to go that little bit further.

I've thought about whether I want these two to be together or not, the conspiracy to be true or not, the Larry ship to be sailing or sunk. To be honest, I'm torn.

I came out very young at a time before the internet. I just couldn't see how I could keep living a lie. I was too broken and screwed up inside by trying, so coming out became my only healthy option.

As a side note, people like Tom Daley are bravely risking all they've built up to be honest and open and prove just how far we've come - especially as he was able to keep his privacy intact with some ambiguity left to his sexuality. He simply told the world he was in love and, to his surprise, the person he loved was a man. Now Caitlin Kenner has further exposed how complicated and confused human sexuality can be with her transition from the world's greatest athlete to Caitlin - a journey that took her decades to accept.

So what's that got to do with Shipping Larry - well part of me hates to think of the pressure being applied if Larry is true. I think of Australia's Ian Thorpe who was hounded until he finally outed himself and every commentator added, "See, we told you," and all I could feel was the pain of a young man who was never allowed to chart his journey in his own time and in his own way.

Coming out is personal. It has nothing to do with anyone else, it's about accepting yourself and being ready to stand up and live your life as you are and face the narrow minded throng who can't conceive or empathize with difference.

It's not fair or wise to push someone towards coming out, nor is it fair to reject someone's denial's about being gay. But the fans have gathered so much evidence around Louis and Harry that place the two of them in the land of, "Don't ask, don't tell." They seem to sit on the fence when confronted and it's hard to read if this is support from a new open minded generation or a hint they have secrets they're not ready to be open about.

The guys of 1D are so successful and still very young. They haven't put a foot wrong as far as role models go. Maybe having each other helps, whereas Beiber and others stumble because of the pressure of shouldering their fame alone. But in every interview, at every turn, One Direction members seem mature, level headed and wise beyond their years.

Honestly, ask yourself where you would be with all that power, influence and wealth at twenty one? I would be on the front page of the scandal sheets well ahead of Beiber - I would make him look like a saint. Peeing in a bucket? Most drunk 20 year old's would call that restraint.

One Direction are successful enough that if any of them are gay and came out and then lost fans, they would still have enough left supporting them to remain relevant for years to come. And they are, over and over again, supportive of all LGBTQ+ people, advances and issues.

The cynic in me notes they are getting a secondary benefit by being vague and questioning their sexuality as it fuels the ongoing Larry conspiracy and that keeps people guessing and gaining publicity. I would hope this isn't premeditated on the band's part, but I'd be naive to think it couldn't be on the agenda of a management whose primary aim is to maximise profits.

If a band member or members are simply not ready to come out then I have nothing but praise for the way they're handling themselves, even their outright denials. Look at Connor Franta - who has shown incredible bravery by leaving up his earlier post where he denies being gay, clearly demonstrating how hard it is to make the journey towards accepting yourself, let alone telling others. If someone needs more time they should have it.

But if a member of 1D is gay and ready to come out and being stopped by outside forces trying to protect the income being produced, I'd be disappointed for the first time. These guys seem stronger than that and smart enough to realise they'd make a life and death difference to so many questioning, mixed up girls and boys who are feeling trapped and need successful role models to show them they are more than okay being themselves; to show them they are every bit as good and as worthwhile as any other person on this planet, regardless of who they fall in love with.

We need high profile people with feted careers to show leadership and help others who don't have the power and influence to sway public opinion. People need to see public figures, like Tom and Connor, and many others leading the way like Troye Sivan, the Ellens - Degeneres and Page, athletes Derrick Gordan and Michael Sam, who are all leading by example and showing how important it is to be true to who you are.

Bravery is needed by all, and the most bravery is needed by those who are young and in the spotlight, because those coming to terms with their sexuality, those hiding away in the teenage angst of sorting out who they are, will relate to leaders close to their own age more than any others.

If someone in the band is gay and not ready to come out they should be left to chart their own course without the constant pressure of Larry being linked to every move or comment they make. If they are ready to come out they should join the throng and stand up to be counted. If not, they should make their support of the LGBTQ+ community crystal clear and stop teasing their fans with their vague responses to direct questions.

Either way I'm feeling, as fun as it's been, Larry has run it's course and should now become a footnote in the band's ongoing history.

As much as the GLBTQ+ community needs high profile people to be brave enough to come out and lead, allowing straight people to show support and empathy for the community is just as important - and their sexuality shouldn't be continually questioned because of of it.


New Photos

You can tell a beautiful day is coming in Melbourne when the balloons fly  

Sunrise over electricity

Another early morning start

A tree I bought in 1993 and then moved and planted in my new house in 2005. Every year it says thank you

Aireys Inlet - Great Ocean Road

My partner and a wonderful dog named Barker.
The dog is a true Saint.

A light outshined.

Mordialloc - Melbourne

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Political Correctness is the Opponent of Free Speech.

The World leaders march in Paris to support free speech, then go home and pass laws to censor the internet, flog a blogger for offensive remarks and condemn Justin Bieber’s heartfelt apology for behaving like a dickhead over the past eighteen months. How did everyone forget what they were marching for so quickly?

Free speech gets supported when it’s speech powerful people agree with. That right changes from country to country, from person to person and from generation to generation, so is it any wonder we find it hard to know where to draw the line and make a stand? There are no ground rules except to rely on a personal moral compass.

In a supermarket I saw kids making fun of an old woman - I was so shocked I stepped in.
“This woman and her generation gave us this country so show some respect.” 
The kids gave me the finger and ran off, but the woman thanked me. I felt good about myself and about my belief that we still have much to protect. Then she asked me to get her a jar off the top shelf. 
“It’s the one with the Ching Chong on the label,” she said. 

I didn’t say anything. I just grabbed the jar. 

Political correctness has taught us how to behave when we’re being watched, but none of the really big problems in our world are caused by people making decisions when they're being watched. That’s why free speech and full disclosure are so important. That’s why we have to look at the past to understand our world and ourselves - even if we discover we come from racist, sexist, homophobic stock.

It’s not entirely the older generation’s fault. You only learn what you’re taught. That’s why contradictions between what people say and what people do matter so much. Every action is a lesson. When Jeremy Clarkson and others who court controversy to gain higher celebrity are excused and defended for their offensive gaffs we as a society feign intolerance to attitudes that the pay checks and popularity of those same people clearly show are wide spread. Are we patching over cracks by not having the discussion or are we teaching people how to behave when they're being watched?    

Political correctness is the opponent of free speech. Genuine free speech means fighting for people you hate to have the right to say things you disagree with. That’s such a difficult right to protect. It is the pinnacle of our highest ideals; the fight for free speech is a fight to give every person in the world the right to be an arsehole. In those terms we’re doing well.

The attack on Charlie Ebdoe was about this exact idea. Gunman stormed in because they believed the images in the magazine were offensive. I think murdering people as your initial complaint is a little drastic – unless it’s a phone company – then no jury in the world would convict you. But there are other ways of dealing with offensive images in magazines – like putting them in plastic bags. No one dies, no matter how many fourteen year old boys claim you can die from that sort of frustration.

The line that Charlie Ebdoe crossed was to show a picture of the Prophet Mohammad. Pictures of tits and cocks, they get covered in plastic. Pictures of Mohammad, they get covered in blood. You risk gunman bursting in and killing people if you show this picture in public.

I’m in favour of free speech, but not against people with guns.

The craziest part is the picture in question was a caricature. When you see a picture of Tony Abbott, our Australian Prime Minister, with huge ears, lizard like features and that evil, smug little smile, the first thing you think is – he’s going to be easy to do a caricature of. 

But a caricature is humorous, it’s satire, it’s trying to make a point through comedy.

Unfortunately, terrorists aren’t known for their sense of humour. Al Qaeda don’t get farce. Isis don’t understand satire, Westborough Baptist Church don’t appreciate the double entendre. Neo Nazis do love a good knock knock, but with them it’s more, “Knock Knock, WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!”

The lesson from Charlie Ebdoe is respect the Prophet Mohammad. If you’re having trouble remembering that, here’s a mnemonic device to help - It’s a no go on the Mo ho-ho.

Our world's problems are so enormous and numerous that it seems nothing an individual can do would ever help. Our leaders call for fairness, but allow 2% of the population to control 50% of the wealth. They want everyone to have affordable health care, but drug companies mark up prices making lifesaving drugs out of reach to many who need them, governments allow torture by renaming it enhanced interrogation and Brittany continues to lip-synch.

In every case the words don’t match the actions.

Is it fair that Bill Gates earns one billion dollars a year, yet a man in India, exactly the same age, earns twenty dollars a year? I think it is to be honest. I’ve used that Indian guy’s software, it doesn’t work at all. 

The internet was the great hope of our generation; an age of shared information. Instead its online innovators have become the new power brokers - Google, Apple, Facebook, ISIS. They’re all the same.

I have a theory that ISIS is the creation of people fed up with the Apple terms and conditions contract. Of all the terrorist groups, ISIS have the most likes. That’s why kids are joining. 

Isis are the first terrorist group to have a marketing department. They’re the Pepsi of terrorism – the choice of a new generation. 

The latest thing ISIS are doing is moving from online into radio and TV. ISIS will have their own Channel of Terror – reality TV all day long. 

The reason we can’t make any real changes as a concerned community is because only a very few people have the power to do so. The 99% can sit on a sidewalk and chant all they want, but the people with real power will never advocate significant change because the ramifications of that change are largely unknown and may unsettle their golden economic throwns.

Look at banks. They caused the financial crisis and even that devastating meltdown hasn't changed how they do business. If you don’t have enough money in your account they now charge you a fee - a fee for being poor. Governments did the same thing two hundred years ago until a people's revolt made them realise how unfair and unpopular it was, but we let banks do whatever they want today by allowing their spin to exist without challenge.  

When I was in Primary school a man came from the bank and gave us all money boxes in the shape of his bank. He said if you put fifty cents into this every week, you’ll be amazed what you end up with. I did. I put fifty cents in every week and when I turned sixteen I couldn’t wait any longer. I opened it up – there was no money, just a statement saying I was overdrawn eight dollars and a legal notice demanding their building back.

It’s no longer just banks. Google and Apple avoid billions in taxes and it’s legal. The world leaders march to protect our rights and then take them away from us. How can we be anything but confused?

Kings and Queens used to have all the power and they’d hand it down to their kids. Now it’s corporations and rich family dynasties. Kim Jong Un took over from Kim Jong IL and Rupert Murdoch is passing on News Corp to his kids – so nothing’s changed in the last two thousand years.

Even Jesus only got into his line of work because of his dad.

God:    Jesus! Where are you going, my son?

Jesus:  Oh, I was thinking of going down to Nazareth College of the Arts.They’re having an open day. I thought I’d have a look at their modern dance course.

God:     I’m all for you having interests outside of work, but you need a real job.

Jesus: Dad, we’ve talked about this before, I’m not interested in creating universes.

God:    Then start with something small, something simple – try saving  the world?

Doesn't that make more sense? Our problems are because God left his son in charge? And the reason Jesus hasn’t been back since is because it’s taken all this time for God to debrief him through all his poor calls of judgement.

God:    Where did you say you put Palestine? 

Jesus:  To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention.

God:     Why did you tell them to ask and it will be given? Why would you say that? And this has to be a misprint. You would never have said, “Man shall not live by bread alone” – to people in a desert? You come off sounding like Marie Antoinette!  

One thing I’m sure of is that no one person is responsible for the complex issues we now face as a race. Osama Bin Laden organised planes to fly into the Twin Towers. America led the world in saying we will never allow such an outrage to happen on this scale again - so the drone program was created where smaller planes fly into smaller buildings.    

Osama, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Kardashians are all intolerable forms of modern terrorism. It’s just coincidence they all come from the Middle East. It shouldn’t matter where or how terror happens, Middle East, Paris, US sanctioned torture or the Lindt Cafe, Sydney – it appalls us. Anything that can be done to stop it must be done. If you can't get a seat on the UN then why not take a seat in your darkened room hooked up to the internet and troll them at their own game? 

Edward Snowden proved the internet is still our best chance for free speech and free speech can change things. If we all speak up online and become the right sort of internet trolls, we can meme these people for life.

The threat of terrorism is being used by our leaders to get unpopular laws passed. They make people scared about safety and then trade personal freedom to get their way – and they’ve been doing that for decades.

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re in danger of being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” Herman Goering said that.

And that’s why I’m confused, because I know I didn’t vote for Herman Goering, but somehow I’ve ended up with his policies.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Recreating Family Photos 2

This is a trend that has taken off and I for one couldn't be happier. People around the world are jumping on board and making my day with their hilarity at trying to create the dumbest, most embarrassing pictures ever taken of them in their childhood.

Thank you all so much!

Here's one to get us started, showing genuine committment...

Gorgeous. The baby one's also cute.

And who doesn't like a baby - or a dozen?

The brilliance of this is how long his legs grew!

The only difference, dad looks genuinely tired in the first...

This proves you cannot pick a hipster from a baby photo.

Still amazed he made a person.

If you don't stop bad habits as a child...

Still beautiful!

Fantastic effort.

Only missed matching the sheets.

Funny then, funny now.

This is true recreation commitment - silly and messy! A+

Just missing the reflective almost naked photobomber.

 Missing a top... a cute top.

You magnificent bastard!

Made no sense then, makes less sense now - Virtuoso silliness!

It's time to let him go! Seriously!

The true aim of the father/son relationship is to find a drinking buddy.

Not quite the same, "Shit, I'm falling," look of terror.

The cupcake T makes this.

And now for some in the same place... was it coincidence they ended back in the same place years later or did they include it in their travels just for us? Let's hope it's the later.

And it won't have changed when they're eighty.

The soldier is such a dick - hiding his spiky hat.

A twink, a poodle, a bear - oh, my!

It's sort of inappropriately phallic.

If you're going all that way at least pack the right shorts.

Someone cut the Ivy.

The importance of stupid faces to recreating photos can't be stressed enough. 

You're on skis - big deal. C-

Okay, on a wall, weird leg position - better. C

You're on a children's party train! Yes, now you're getting it! B+

Let's ramp it up with same pose and same outfit.... showing ever more commitment.
Nice tats.

The clothes are a great match.

Okay, cool family is cool.

Floral chairs have gone out of fashion - obviously.

What did you feed the little one on the end?

The phone is excellent.

Two Teddys and matching facial expressions. Good work.

Look at the outfits! They grew too! Commitment!

The tree, the clothes, the inappropriate large child on a lap - it's all working.

Another little guy growing ridiculously big - but it makes the photo.

Forgot the perfect sunset - do it again, please and later in the day.

Oh, mum. You are wearing the uniform of a MILF.

Makes no sense - I love it!

How could you possibly know he'd grow so big?

It's been twenty years and your brother is still laughing because you don't know how to sit like a lady on a chair!

All those years when your relatives asked - "Why were you all looking so odd in that photo?" Now they know - for recreation brilliance.
The suspenders earn an A.

The doll's a brunette. Fail. F 

Who can guess which member of this family thought this was  a bad idea?

Nerd squared - and he kept the certificate of participation!

Genius - now recreate sliding down the stairs!

This is how you do these photos. 
1/ Select your best idiot photo
2/ Let yourself regress to the idiot within!

The instruments of the pre-schooler.
Here comes 'Hot Crossed Buns'. 

Same chairs, same color cup - but you Blondy - you ate too much of your sandwich! Fail!

You grew the beard to distract from your delicate features, right?

The lesson here is do not beat up your little brother too badly until he's 
finished growing.


My eyes! The shirts do not travel - time travel!

I don't know how I feel about this one....

 But Juxtaposed with this next one...
I can see it fitting.

This one makes me sad.

This one makes me think they are wild and crazy guys.
(Insert Steve Martin voice here)

What about props?

Props are worth keeping.

Not yet ready to ride, but in a few more years he will be.

And some worthy mentions....

Photoshop level Awesome!

My role model.


Finally, my precioussssssssss!

It's true - it does make your hair fall out.

Go on, say it again. "This is the very last time I do this!"

This photo is all sorts of goodness for recreation value.

Reminds me how much I'm enjoying Amazon's Transparent.

And now the best of the best - Place, Outfit, Pose and general stupidity all present. 

A little plastic, but that's modern social media for you.


God I love this man's shorts - that's commitment. 

All kinds of Awwww!

Everything's right - bravo!

All kinds of idiot.

It must have been a fun house to grow up in. 
Four magnificent idiots.

A+ At least in the second the carpet was already stained cocoa.

*Starts slow hand clap.

Bad ideas make great recreation photos.


I only included this one because these two men are wanted for 
Musical offences committed over many years. 

The effort you've gone to! Big brothers rock!

Still can't do an Olly, just the pose - but still worth it.

You adorable, silly girl/woman!

It just seems like yesterday.


You grew into reverse photo symmetry!

Where's the silly?

Second Santa says WTF?

If you have one of those photos that has hung in your house to embarrass you for years - recreate it!

They were off white - details my friend.

Even the shoes! Extra marks!

The good news is you got better at making beak hats. 

Lucky you didn't have them both on the bike.

If you have an old bath photo then you're half way home.

Look at the legs on the tiny kid straddling the lion's head.

Degree of difficulty - bubbles.

Everyone's doing it.

The smiley face got bigger!

I can't even see a difference.

And my grand winner for complete embarrassment embracement is...

For years they told him to hide those photos and instead he said -
Take this bitches!
Bad, embarrassing photo update time!

Take a bow!