Liveblog: Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Death in Winter” by Michael Jan Friedman

Not the usual sort of thing we blog about, not the usual sort of thing I read. But this is special. This, my friends, is the tie-in novel where Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher finally hook up.

And since one of my great regrets in life is that I didn’t liveblog the Voyager novel where Janeway is brought back to life (after being fridged in a TNG novel because Picard didn’t have enough Borg-related angst) and then makes out with Chakotay on the battle bridge, I persuaded Stephanie to let me liveblog it.

(It went like this:

Me: Hey, can I do this?

Her: Sure, why not?

Tricky negotiations required, Picard would be proud.)

[Steph really needs to know more about Janeway and Chakotay making out tbh]

Beyond the cut: a bullet point recounting of the plot, with stream of consciousness digressions and also some gifs.

Continue reading “Liveblog: Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Death in Winter” by Michael Jan Friedman”

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Kids Today, or, the thinkpiece in 1920

I haven’t abandoned Malory Towers, but a lot of my spare time has been taken up researching another project (which is probably years away, but I’m all about the long game). Research so far mostly involves going through Melbourne newspaper archives of the 1920s — thank you, Trove — and making copies of the interesting/relevant ones.

(Fun facts: the word “nightclub” and variations thereof only appears in reviews of plays and correspondence from London, although one article notes that, despite the racy reputation of London’s nightclubs, a better source for cocaine is tea salons, the more respectable the better. And searching for “flapper” is made difficult because there was a racehorse of that name in Melbourne in the early ’20s.)

Anyway, I’ve been delighted to find excellent examples of Jazz Age thinkpieces. Are today’s youth being destroyed by too much theatre and dancing? Have moving pictures created “cinema fiends” incapable of experiencing real emotion? Why do people persist in listening to jazz in public?

Continue reading “Kids Today, or, the thinkpiece in 1920”

No Award goes to the movies: Captain America: Civil War

I’ve been trying to consciously uncouple from the Marvel universe for a few months now, so I was probably the wrong person to see Civil War. Especially because the main reason I’m breaking up with Marvel is that I found myself seeing a movie once, strongly disliking it for its lack of concern for female characters, then seeing it again with my expectations lowered accordingly. I was not only rewarding bad behaviour, but I was paying good money to do so.

(The other reason was the announcement that, while the Australian taxpayer would be funding Thor 3, at the same time, funding for Screen Australia and local stories was being cut.)

All this is to say that I agreed to see Civil War with very low expectations, and then I got spoiled for the plot and lowered them further, and I was still disappointed.

Continue reading “No Award goes to the movies: Captain America: Civil War”

new residents on the prison island of sodor

Good news! Steph was worried today’s post would require her dwelling on the completely disgusting ridiculousness of cutting federal funding to state schools, but keeping federal funding to private schools because they’ll definitely be discriminated against and get less money??! ? IDK, I’m hoping I’m completely misunderstanding every article I read about it.

ANYWAY, we’re not talking about that today because Steph will start yelling at work and is already really stressed. Instead: MULTICULTURAL THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE.

Continue reading “new residents on the prison island of sodor”

Ready for This

Back in October, I reviewed the first episode of ABC Indigenous teen drama Ready for This.

I said:

If you enjoyed Dance Academy, or if you like contemporary YA, or if you have fond memories of Heartbreak High, this is a Jolly Good Series.  Some of the acting is a bit ropey, as happens with teen dramas starring actual young adults, and some of the dialogue is on the nose, as happens any time an Australian sits down to write a script.  It’s not perfect.  But it’s good.

The first (and, unless the Renewal Fairy works her magic, only) season has just come out on DVD, so this seems like a good time to look at the series as a whole, and whether or not it maintained the promise of its first episode.

Ahem:

OMG EVERY CHARACTER IS A PERFECT CINNAMON ROLL, TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD, TOO PURE, I LOVE EVERYTHING THIS SHOW CHOOSES TO BE, AND THERE IS A QUEER RELATIONSHIP I DID NOT SEE COMING, BUT THERE ARE GIRLS COURTING VIA ROLLER DERBY AND IT IS THE MOST PERFECT THING EVER EVEN THE TOKEN WHITE BOY IS AMAZING

Er, quite.

Look, it’s not actually perfect.  There’s an episode where the boys — Dylan, Levi and white boy Reece — engage in a bit of extremely mild trespassing and have a run-in with the cops.  Dylan mouths off, citing the Fifth Amendment and Miranda rights, and he and Levi end up being taken to the station, while Reece is told to go home to his mum.

(This is particularly harsh because Reece is the only one of the three who doesn’t have his mum in his life — one of the ironies the show deals with is that it’s the white kid who has the most dysfunctional background.)

That’s all great, but then … nothing comes of it?  Dylan and Levi are picked up, taken home and get a bit of a telling off, but no one says anything about the double standard in the way they’re treated.  It just hangs there.

That’s really the only dud note the show hits.  There was one other thing I didn’t care for, regarding the way Ava’s story winds up after her mother catches her kissing a girl — forbidding her to do her final exam at music school — but I understand that Ava’s story is about finding herself and her confidence, rather than institutional recognition of her skills.

Aaron-McGrath-_LEVI__-Madeleine-Madden-_ZOE__-Liam-Talty-_DYLAN__-Majeda-Beatty-_AVA__-Leonie-Whyman-_LILY__-Christian-Byers-_REECE_-READY-FOR-THIS

What I loved was seeing all the different kinds of families in this show.  There’s the found family of the main cast, with Lasarus Ratuere and Christine Anu as the surrogate parents.  They even adopt Reece when they realise he’s living at school because his home situation is untenable.

But then there are the kids’ biological families, which include roles we don’t often see for Indigenous people:

  • Dylan’s father is a prominent Torres Strait Islander politician, who teaches his son traditional dances, sent him to one of Brisbane’s top private schools, and expects him to be a violin prodigy;
  • Zoe comes from a big, loud, loving family, and her dad struggles with the fact that he’s no longer her coach;
  • Levi’s mother is a forthright professional who encourages her son to be ambitious, whereas his dad is just out of jail, but the opposite of a deadbeat — a decent guy who has made some bad decisions, and is how working hard to be part of his son’s life;
  • Lily’s mother recently died, and she’s keeping her father at arm’s length, but both remain a palpable presence in her life;
  • Ava has a forceful, Christian mother and a lot of supportive, loving cousins.
  • And then there’s Reece, whose dad took off, whose mother has had a string of terrible boyfriends, and whose grandparents — with whom he’s meant to be living — don’t seem to care where he is or what he’s doing.

As I said, the white kid gets the most dysfunctional background, but there’s a constant thread of realism, in that everyone is just doing their best to do the right thing.

Except, you know, Reece’s mum’s boyfriend.  And his mum.  And his grandparents.

Reece is a wonderful character, though: he’s aware of his white privilege, but still makes mistakes, apologises for them and learns, and is generally a good person.  Someone said, regarding Poe Dameron, that if the future of the Square Jawed Hero is a guy who is kind and generous, that’s okay with her — likewise, I feel like, if we’re going to have prominent white guy characters, they should be like Reece.

But you could say that about any of the regulars: they try, they make mistakes, they learn, they keep going.  They deal with a variety of issues, both timeless — academic and sporting success, bullying and personality clashes — and current, such as Lily becoming the target of online bullying after a boy takes a demeaning picture of her and posts it without her consent.

Overall, while it could certainly have been more overtly intersectional on some issues, Ready for This brought both earnestness and fun to its characters and storylines.  (And, frankly, I feel a bit meanspirited, dinging it for not being 100% perfect, when the next big thing in Australian YA TV is this series about white LGBT kids.  I mean, literally the only non-white character is Rafiq, the main character’s nemesis.  I’m quite appalled.)

My main complaint about Ready for This is about what it didn’t get — without the overseas funding that Dance Academy enjoyed, it’s a lot cheaper, and didn’t enjoy a fraction of the promotion that other ABC3 shows receive.  Is this because it’s about black kids, or because it’s not likely to be a big international hit?  But if it’s the latter, isn’t it the fact that it’s about black kids part of the reason for its narrower appeal?

And, of course, it only got one season so far — it was in Dance Academy‘s second season that the marketing really took off.

For this reason, I’m buying the DVD and am doing my best to support the various artists whose music appeared in the show — many of whom are of ATSI background themselves.  (I had predicted a Jessica Mauboy cameo, but got Ngaiire instead.  No complaints, though, I love Ngaiire.)  Many are still in the early stages of their careers, but I’ve put what I can into a playlist on Spotify: the Ready for This unOST.

I doubt I can singlehandedly bully the ABC into creating more Ready for This, but I’m determined to try — or at least to ensure that the next teen drama about Indigenous kids gets an audience, and the one after that, and the one after that.

are you from linkspam or Mars?

We’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks, so some of these links are, uhhh, vintage!

Liz is a candidate for the 2016 NAFF race, which sends the successful candidate to Contact 2016, the one-off Brisbane con running over Easter.

I’ll talk about this in more detail in the near future, but if you’re already convinced, voting costs $5 and you can do so at this link.

Stephanie adores Clueless, and just watched it last weekend, and loved this: ‘Clueless’ style: a fashion analysis of the best teen movie of all time

Steph cried with laughter at this: 46 Things That Would Be Different If “Love Actually” Were Set In Australia

Uncovering Australia’s Indigenous past: Forgotten 1920s photos reveal insight into coastal Aboriginal people

When there’s no room at the inn for victims of domestic violence (Don’t read the comments – sadly the ‘most liked’ comments are on the right-hand sidebar, putting them directly in view.)

Does YA fiction need to check its privilege?  On class, and the lack of working class YA protagonists who aren’t leading a revolution.  (Liz agrees strongly with this article, and sadly notes that some of the worst depictions of class are from OzYA.)

An Open Letter to JJ Abrams  – Did you know that girls can be Star Wars fans? Apparently JJ didn’t.  But what made this blog post particularly enjoyable was the author’s account of becoming a science fiction fan in Hong Kong.

Stephen Nothling, vision-impaired artist, brings unique perspective to Brisbane suburban streetscapes

Great piece at Overland on the shit going on against the CFMEU and Australia’s Unions: Black bans and blackmail, and why it’s important.

That’s why having workers’ representatives monitoring safety matters. Last month, when a concrete slab crushed two men to death on an East Perth worksite, it transpired that the CFMEU had been refused entry to the site sixteen times.

No Award reminds everyone that the voices of women (and genderqueer people) are frequently silenced by the medical fraternity and endometriosis is a real thing suffered by Friends of No Award: My Doctors Said My Crippling Menstrual Pain Was “Fine”.

Melbourne history business: The little blue building

Here’s What It’s Like To Go Through Gay Conversion Therapy In Australia

Peter S Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, screenwriter for the TNG episode “Sarek”, is suing his business partner.  Jim C Hines breaks down the issues as we know them. 

Writing Business

Great point at The Wheeler Centre’s notes: It’s Not Easy Being Green: when young writers meet opportunistic editors.

As Parkhill noted in a response to Kilbride’s piece on Facebook, the core issue was not simply that the piece was ‘garbage’, but that it passed the editorial process at all. ‘Perhaps worse than the article’s content is the fact that [New Matilda] have exposed a very young and inexperienced writer’s ill-formed thoughts to a large audience,’ Parkhill said. ‘This article was by no means ready to go live, and I’m sure in the fullness of time its author won’t thank [New Matilda] for the opportunity or “exposure” but will regret the fact that [they] were willing to publish such asinine crap to which his name will be forever attached.’

Right Place, Right Time: How the Melbourne Voice shuts writers out (as in being in Melbourne, not some publication called Melbourne Voice, as Steph first was confused by)

Steph nearly called this section Gross White People Business

NOPE: No criminal charges over pig head dumping at University of WA Muslim prayer room. GET IN THE BIN.

Seven News reported on Wednesday that police know the man, believed to be a former university student, responsible and found a second pig’s head in his home.

But he reportedly won’t be charged because technically no laws had been broken.

IT’S CALLED RACIAL VILIFICATION GET IT TOGETHER WA COPPERS COME ON.

Inadequate white man gets appointed to important political role; admits he loves revenge: Joe Hockey gets job as ambassador to US, admits staying in parliament would have been about payback. Fucking get it together, come on.

Australians head to Colombian village for cocaine ‘special tour’. ARE YOU MESSING WITH ME RIGHT NOW.

“When I came on this trip, there were a lot of things I hadn’t done at home,” said Rose, 32, from Western Australia.

“There was a bucket list and I always said that if I came to Colombia I would try cocaine.

“In Australia, it is a rich man’s drug and sells for about $300 a gram. Here we have had it for as cheap as $US5. People give it away because it is so accessible.”

GET IN THE BIN