Asian Ghost-ery Store

agsSteph has taken advantage of having a blog to interview her friend Vidya, who has a show, Asian Ghost-ery Store, starting this very week at Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

So today Steph and Vidya talk talcum powder, ambiguity, ghosts, and the comfort of the Asian grocery store.

The show blurb:

Raised in the aisles of Asian grocery stores, time has come for Shan and Yaya to escape — and haunt modern Australia. But how do a couple of ghosts conjure a stylish, post-racial image while stuffing their faces with Hello Panda? Shannan Lim and Vidya Rajan glide you through a late-night trolley ride of story, performance, sketch and meandering rumination. Part truthful, part ball of lies, Asian Ghost-ery Store is an exorcism — a dark yet gleeful shopping spree of their shared consciousness.

Continue reading “Asian Ghost-ery Store”

this week in: what has your government done to you

The politician Steph aspires to be, Penny Wong (queer, Malaysian-Chinese, left, yells in public) cuts Joe Hockey so decisively.

The Coalition party room voted not to allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. Tony Abbott has suggested it be put to a popular vote, or maybe a referendum, or maybe a plebiscite, terrifyingly demonstrating that some of our federal politicians don’t understand how our political system actually works.

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz suggested that because Dolce and Gabbana had never married, same-sex couples had no need of marriage.

The Prime Minister caught eating a whole raw spring onion whilst on site.

Liz asks: Is it possible that Tony Abbott just likes onions?  Is that a bad thing?  Should we as a nation be food shaming him for his unusual tastes when there are so many other weird and terrible things he does?  Is it just that it’s quite funny to watch someone eat a whole raw onion, French or otherwise?

An Asylum seeker who is married to an Australian PR was removed from her husband (and the centre in Brisbane where she was living, and the school where she was studying to receive her HSC) and is currently in a Darwin detention centre.

The state of Victoria’s new government logo looks like a map of Tasmania.  In every possible sense.

While the eyes of the world are on Ferguson, a Queensland police whistleblower who leaked a video of fellow officers assaulting a chef faces charges.  This forms part of a pattern of the Queensland police failing to investigate accusations of brutality from within its own ranks.

“Absolute revhead” and indistinguishable white man Tony Smith becomes Speaker.

Steph says: I know how white person names work. This man has a fake name.

Someone suggested that Indigenous Australians were making booze out of vegemite and so vegemite should be banned in remote Indigenous communities. Vegemite watch began, but has since been retracted.

The chair of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security thinks Australia should bomb Syria.

Steph says: no. Also call them Daesh, cos it makes ISIS mad to be delegitimised in this way and cos actual Middle-Eastern people have suggested we do so – the Western media is the only media who calls them ISIS.

Imagining Australia’s Climate Change Dystopia (a science fiction essay)

It’s been over a year since the last Climate Change Dystopia Australia notes, and science has progressed and so has the books being published. So following on from Continuum, at which I spoke at length and unstoppably about climate change dystopias in Australia, and in light of the fact I’m going to be speaking on climate change and science and science fiction at the NSW Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival in July (!!), here is an update from the original (which you can find here in the Toast).

You can download the new and improved updated article on Imagining Australia’s climate change dystopia – a 2015 update.

The main points of the updates, if you don’t want to read it all again:

Ballooning will increase. I know you already love spiders, but you’re going to love them even more when areas that experience flooding are covered in ballooning spiders, sending out cobwebs in order to escape the rising waters. Once caught by the wind, ballooning baby spiders can travel up to 3 kilometres off the ground and so many kilometres along the ground.

The solar power battery storage is great, and where we assumed we were going, that ability to sleep and charge during the day with minimal electricity use, and then let that electricity out during the night when we’re awake and doing things. Maybe we’ll even still have air-conditioning, or at the very least, fans! But storage is going to be expensive, at least for a little while, even though the cost payback period will decrease. So it’ll still be focussed on the richer communities, on the larger businesses. Electricity, despite this technology leap, will still be a resource primarily available to certain groups.

There will still be gated white people communities, with their guards and their electricity and their carefully hoarded water.

There will be electricity theft, a connection running to a cable as carefully and subtly as possible.

There might still be public transport – trains run on solar, on wind. Trams run on solar, probably not wind. 

In the near future, how our tourism works will change. An increase in cycle tourism will see a change to the structure of country towns. V/Line will still be a jerk about letting your bike on the train, though. This will help as we transition to a bicycle transit community, but it won’t help enough; cars will still take a long time to disappear off the landscape.

Our deserts will, at times, still be green. Australia isn’t like the European climate tradition – when will we decolonise our understanding of the seasons? – and neither will our climate change dystopia be.

Non-fiction reading:

The CSIRO climate projections. FOREVER THE BEST. ILU BoM and CSIRO, please don’t get (more) defunded. 

SFF Australian Climate Change Dystopia Reading list:

The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood. I am currently reading this. No opinions as of yet.

The Bride Price, Cat Sparks. I bought this on the weekend and haven’t read it yet, but Cat is great so I have high hopes.

A Town Called Dust, Justin Woolley. Read recently. Loved the world-building and a lot of the concepts, really great sense of place and climate and dystopia. When you get to the thing I got mad about, call me – I ambushed him in a panel we were on, but I have been sufficiently reassured. 

Nightsiders, Sue Isle. FOREVER RECOMMEND. Gender stuff, medical stuff, Perth, the tyranny of distance, all in our climate change future.

Clade, James Bradley. Generational fiction, unexpected but fun. I saw Bradley talk recently and he spoke about how it was less about climate change and more about family, and it is, but it was also a lot about climate change and I liked it.

A Wrong Turn on the Way to the Office of Unmade Lists, Jane Rawson. This book is fantasy in many ways but still an interesting exploration of Australia (and Melbourne’s inner city) in the climate change future.

SELF PIMP: The Dàn Dàn Miàn of the Apocalypse, by me, in the Review of Australian Fiction, 14:4. Only $2.99 and comes with bonus story by Tansy Rayner Roberts. 😀

Continuum ramble:

We touched on why we write dystopias in the Unrealistic Dystopic Futures panel. I’d meant it to be a lols panel, shaved underarms and easy access to showers, that sort of things – I originally called it ‘I know what babies taste like’ because of the ridiculousness of Snowpiercer – but we ended up going a more serious route, and looking at why we write dystopias. I write them because my work is in climate change adaptation, and my passion is in saving the world, and my reading of the science is that we have to or we’re doomed. Sometimes my job really gets me down, those days when I worry there’s no chance of survival. So my writing is about processing that. There’s always hope, there’s always a future to survive in. Otherwise what am I even doing, I may as well go and drink more coffee. 

Best Australian Kids’ Show Themes



A terrible song, bookended by the nightmare face of all Australian childhoods. Mulligrubs me. Mulligrubs you. Come and be a Mulligrubs too


Please try not to ask too many questions about why the Genie from Down Under and his son are white and not Indigenous Australian, since if an Australian Genie is released from an opal they should surely be Indigenous? I mean, who am I to ask these totally relevant questions. This theme tune is ranked worse than the next one because it’s so terribly out of tune and flat and poorly sung. Rhys Muldoon, we expect better of a Play School presenter.


What a dull, lifeless bathmat of a song. Perfect.


So long, so boring. Plus every quokka knows that Blinky Bill is a bit of a wanker.


Time for some meditation.


Such a creepy worm, but I’m happily bopping along right now.


I remember the show but somehow not this totally perfect dance track theme song.


REAL FRIENDS ARE UNDER THE SKIN!? And of course minus points for EC the creepy doll. How did this song get so high on this list?!

Mr Squiggle

Excuse me whilst your judge goes off to have a bit of a cry.




HAVE YOU EVER EVER FELT LIKE THIS Ominous and therefore everything you need from an Australian childhood. PS now available on Netflix, much to our joy. No Award will shortly be engaging in a rewatch and review, so stay tuned.


How am I supposed to get anything done when my heart is full of such joy?


A call to arms.


Only the anthem of an entire lifetime, of three entire generations. Read this Junkee visit to the set of Play School, watch this video of Noni and Simon performing Humpty the Opera, remember the lyrics you used in primary school that were totally dirty and terrible and yet somehow still hilarious now at 32. Attempt not to cry at a large complement of past and present presenters and the audience of the Logies singing the song, after thanking the stars of Play School (the toys – including Diddle! And Morris!). Play School was always going to be the very last thing you found on this list, No Award. Because Play School was always going to be the best of these theme songs. NO ARGUMENTS.

*not documented, Humphrey B Bear because I couldn’t find something from the 90s only some sort of hideous modern animation, Cheez TV, Feral TV. The Silver Brumby (not in the list because I literally can’t remember this song).

‘The Menzies Era’ – drinking game and review review

Former PM of Australia John Howard loves Menzies. He loves Menzies so much, in 2014 he released a 630 page tome about Menzies’ impact on Australia. No Award doesn’t have time to read 630 pages written by a white man about another white man in order to review it for you, so instead we’re going to review the existing reviews of people who could be bothered reading 630 pages a white man wrote about another white man. (Please note: actual tome is 720 pages in length, but only 630 of those pages are biography.)

Rules of reviewing Howard’s Menzies:

  • You have to play the Howard’s Menzies drinking game.
  • Every time someone mentions that Australia was “cheated” by the slandering of Menzies: drink.
  • Every time someone says it was Keating’s fault that Menzies is viewed badly by Australian history: drink.
  • Every time a review says ‘Menzies had his bad points’ but fails to mention that thought Nazism wasn’t that bad: drink.
  • Every time a conservative waxes rhapsodic about Gough’s sweet kisses: drink.
  • Every time someone mentions how amazing John Howard was: drink.
  • Every time someone references light: drink. Drink twice if that light is on a hill.
  • Every time someone mentions a personal anecdote about Menzies or Howard: drink.

Spoilers: Stephanie’s favourite review is the Quadrant one. You’ll know why when you get there. Special mention to the Canberra Times review, for amazingness that we will be discussing later. #regionaldystopia

Overall, Steph has learnt from this process that she maintains a bias in regards to Menzies and his years, and she’ll be damned if she’ll let some baby boomer (or older) take that bias away from her.

Reviewer’s note: None of these reviews are linked, because Steph doesn’t want the bounceback to NA. However you have been presented with all the details you need to google them.

Continue reading “‘The Menzies Era’ – drinking game and review review”

indigenous business: bundarra sportswear

There is some crap going on, and it’s all important, but maybe you’re thinking about how you want to do something that’s not rallies and writing to your local member. And that’s okay! So once a week here at No Award, we’re going to showcase an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander thing. “Thing” is a bit inexact, but we don’t want to limit ourselves – we’re talking businesses and not for profits and designers. Things. We here at No Award still want you talking about injustices and and rallying if you can! But things are important, too. (If you can think of a good name for these posts, please let us know)

This week: Bundarra Sportswear. Steph is super into Bundarra Sportswear. She has their Deep Space Hammer leggings which are secretly SPACE HAMMERHEAD SHARKS, they are comfortable and breathable and the print on them is designed by Indigenous artist Robert Levi.

Bundarra is an Australian indigenous clothing label. Founding organisation, Indigenous Job Connections of Cairns identified a growing interest for an uniquely indigenous brand that indigenous communities Australia wide could call their own.

Bundarra was accordingly piloted in 2011 at the Laura Dance Festival to great success. Bundarra will strive to make quality sports aboriginal and torres strait corporate work uniforms, teamwear, leisure wear and promotional items depicting original indigenous artworks.

Bundarra is the Djabuguy word for cassowary. The cassowary keeps the rainforest clean and regenerates the plants and trees. A healthy rainforest means healthy rainforest people.

Don’t you want to support that? Indigenous artists, Indigenous themes, Indigenous jobs. Super comfy legs. Yes, good work, everyone.

deep space hammer pants!
deep space hammer pants!

national day of action: stop the forced closure of remote indigenous communities

subtitle: more things to hate your government for. actually the same reasons as last week, but here is some action.

i mean it
i mean it

There are protests all over the country today for a National Day Of Action. If you can’t make it to a physical protest, or even if you can, you can also participate virtually.

Follow the SOS Blak Australia twitter, and #SOSBlakAustralia.

Read more at New Matilda.

“They’re going to close down these communities and turn people into fringe dwellers. There’s going to be more in jail, and more homelessness. And there’s a lot of people homeless now,” Uncle Ben told New Matilda.

“I’m 75 now, and there’s been 70 years of racism in my life. Dehumanising conditions we’ve been living under. There’s still that hopelessness.”



CANBERRA: Assemble at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at 11:30 am

SYDNEY: Kirribilli House, Kirribilli Avenue, 12:30 pm

PERTH: Forrest Chase, 1 pm

MELBOURNE: Parliament of Victoria, 5:30 pm

ADELAIDE: Victoria Square, 12:30 pm

BROOME, WA: ICC Office, Dampier Terrace to Broome Shire Offices, 1 pm

HALLS CREEK, WA: Cnr of Duncan H’way and Great Northern H/way, 10 am

GERALDTON, WA: Edith Cowan Square, Marine Tce, 10 am

BEAGLE BAY, WA: KRCI office, 10 am

HEDLAND, WA: Bloodwood Tree, Sth Hedland 10 am

BELLINGEN, NSW: Outside N5 & Kombu, Church St, 10 am

BENDIGO, VIC: Rosiland Park, Cnr of View St and Pall Mall, 11:45 am

LISMORE, NSW: Lismore Transit Centre, 5 pm





No Award’s top invasive species of australia

Ranked according to a complex system based on cuteness, novelty value and overall destructiveness, plus chaos theory, ie, the order in which we thought of them.

    • Cats
      Now, No Award is very fond of cats — well, Liz loves her cat a lot, even though he has put three people in hospital so far.  But ecologically speaking, they’re bad news.  ABC Fact Check says it’s impossible to verify the number of native species killed by cats, but it’s a lot.
      (Note: that link includes a picture of the contents of a feral cat’s stomach, and said feral cat post-stomach-removal.  Guys, no.)
      Be a responsible cat owner: get your moggy neutered and keep it inside.
      (Liz wishes to point out that Harvey has never killed a single bird, on account of how he’s actually pretty scared of them.  He has, however, caught two mice.  We hope they were just common housemice.)
    • North Pacific seastar
      By far the prettiest invasive species around.  Yes, it has spread itself throughout the oceans of the world, consuming resources needed by native species, but come on.  Aesthetically, it’s totally worth it, right?

      The Regina George of invasive starfish.
      The Regina George of invasive starfish.

      Also, if you cut off one its limbs, it will regenerate.  Into a white British dude, probably.

Actual depiction of a sea star with regenerated limb.
Actual depiction of a sea star with regenerated limb.

ETA: You can participate in some getting-rid of sea star activities from St Kilda Pier once a month with Earthcare St Kilda.

  • Asparagus fern
    Fact!  If you “accidentally” plant one, it will smother everything you love! it is officially known as a “dense infestation”, and that’s a call for respect.Its main hobbies are smothering native plants, performing as a foliage world-wide in cut flower bunches, and being illegal in many areas of Australia.
  • Rabbits
    Like white people, they invaded Australia on the First Fleet in 1788. They were released into the wild by a white dude in Victoria, for hunting, because they could do “little harm.” AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    nobody likes rabbits
    nobody likes rabbits

    Despite being introduced deliberately, they are illegal to own as pets in Queensland.  Liz once watched with interest as a rabbit at the zoo burrowed underneath its fence and hippety-hopped to freedom.

    Stephanie’s favourite rabbit is Mixie, from The Ferals.

  • Foxes
    Why were foxes even introduced?  *google*  Oh.  Hunting.  Of course.  Thanks a bunch, England.
    Anyway, foxes are very pretty, but also jerks.  Between the wild foxes and the feral cats and the feral dogs, the poor old dingoes really have to work to get ahold of babies!
    (Too soon?)
  • Camels
    Camels were introduced as desert transport, but then the car was invented, and they were turned loose.  These days, they roam around, being jerks to native wildlife and providing transportation to extremely tedious memoirists whose iconic books are studied by bored first year Auslit students.  Sorry, camels, you deserve better.

    mate do you need a cold tinnie?
    mate do you need a cold tinnie?
  • Gold fish
    So it turns out that when you get bored and release your fishies into the wild, they establish feral populations. F.E.R.A.L. Because they are fucking hardcore and can survive all sorts of environments.
  • Bucky Barnes and friend.
    Bucky Barnes and friend.

    “But goldfish are so pretty!”

    Yeeeeeeeaaaah.  You’re gonna love it when they fin-nip native fish and kill them. It’s gonna be awesome.  They also love digging and uprooting plants, which alters the nutrients and kills locals, and they get more food. Yes. Best.

    You know that picture book about the kid who feeds his goldfish too much, and it ends up becoming ENORMOUS and (I think) destroying a house?

  • Asian mussel
    It’s attractive, delicious, and invasive as hell.
  • Brumbies
    Australian rite of passage, possibly limited to girls:
    1.  Read The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, about a beautiful wild horse named Thowra
    2.  Discover that brumbies — small wild horses — are real.
    3.  Discover that, due to massive overpopulation and the damage they do to the environment, they are culled by shooting them from helicopters.
    But seriously, No Award is in favour of a catch-and-neuter program for wild horses, thank you.

    mate, wait up
    mate, wait up
  • Dogs
    See foxes.  Only, you know, they were introduced as Person’s Best Friend, not prey for wealthy hunters.
  • Myna birds
    Looks a lot like the Noisy Miner bird, and was named by white fellas who couldn’t tell the difference between an Indian bird and an Australian bird.  Like white people, it enjoys dispossessing locals and pooping on pets.
  • Rock pigeons
    All birds are terrible.  But rock pigeons compound their basic birdness by having acidic faeces.  No.  Just no.
  • Some sparrows
    We can’t remember exactly why some species of sparrow are terrible, aside from the obvious fact that they are birds.  (Stephanie notes that this opinion does not reflect No Award’s official pro-bird stance.)
    But here’s an interesting post about the English sparrow in the US — turns out Australia’s not the only country to have gone to war against a bird.  Although we may still be the only country to have comprehensively lost that war.
    (That link seems to take the position that people who are opposed to invasive species taking over the country are … racist?  Prejudiced against invasive species?  Anyway, we’ll see how you feel when you wake up and your drinking water is full of giant goldfish and North Pacific seastars.)
  • Some white people
    For the record, it has been at least weeks since Liz wiped out a native species.

Bonus! Australia’s least attractive invasive species:

  • cane toads
  • european wasps
  • tony abbott

intersectional is more than a three-letter country

As Australians, as non-white people who aren’t from the USA, as activists, we have got to talk about the USA dominance of the internet, and our social justice conversations.

Over at North Coast Musings, there’s a quick snapshot of some of the terrible things that @ebswearspink, @stringstory and @upulie had to deal with over the weekend, some of it from African American activists, including claims that Indigenous Australians only have a voice because of African American culture.





Many years ago, darling wonderful Chally wrote Dear USians on the Internet (yes, it’s on Feministe), about US centricity in social justice and how problematic is. Literally the first comment is a complaint about this letter!

Because we can’t ever have social justice that isn’t informed by the USA, I guess.

The thing is this:

Our Australian injustices cannot be righted through a paradigm that fits the USA.

The injustices that plague the USA do not necessarily translate outside of the USA.

We can exchange thoughts and techniques but we cannot

we cannot

match perfectly, or even imperfectly.

Liz has her own reasons for being my partner in yelling here on No Award, but this was my moment:

An act called the Jackson Jive performed on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. They performed in blackface, and it was bullshit. There was debate whether it was intentionally racist or just clueless, and one theory was from the name: that their name was ‘Jackson Jive’, it was postulated, was an intentional reference to shucking and jiving, an element of minstrelsy, and therefore intentionally racist. I was decried by a USAmerican person when I pointed out our history of blackface didn’t include quite so much minstrelsy, and the shucking and jiving thing isn’t as known here. Australia’s Blak history is different from any other country’s. Just like our experiences of colonialism, racism, and imperialism are different.

[Liz notes: Minstrelsy in Australia started out with US minstrel acts touring Australia, and then Australian performers began to mimic them.  I could make a remark about Iggy Azalea, but I haven’t had nearly enough tea.]

[Liz’s moment was the controversy about the KFC ad in which a lone Australian white guy finds himself surrounded by Indians at the cricket, and makes friends by sharing his KFC.  Racist in the sense of playing on fears of brown people?  Yes, although obviously there is also the fear of being surrounded by supporters of a rival team.  Playing into stereotypes about African Americans and fried chicken?  Uh, no.]

But apparently we can’t have racial experiences that are different from those experienced in the USA.

To make something about someone else’s racial history is to ignore our own very real issues, and means the discussions we have are limited and restricted. If I’m going to educate anybody, it’s going to be the people in communities here in Australia. We shouldn’t need to expend our energy fighting those who are supposed to be our community, our allies in oppression, whose experiences are similar but not the same.

Indigenous Australians may be light-skinned, and if they are it is often a product of the imperialism and genocide of our Australian history. But sure, let’s call an Indigenous Australian white, like that’s not loaded, like A.O. Neville, “Protector of Aborigines” from 1936 – 1940, didn’t endorse “biological absorption” of Aboriginal Australians, like we don’t have the Stolen Generation.

And we know light-skinned privilege exists, I live it (as a light-skinned Azn), but ugh, gross. Gross.  The entire concept of “white passing” is dangerous and hurtful in the context of Indigenous Australians.  That’s what the whole Eatock v Bolt case was about.

This is not to deny that often the language and work done by USAcentric and USA-based activists doesn’t assist us in our work and in our activism and in our fights. There are lots of great USA-based voices that help out.  But that doesn’t mean their concepts are universally applicable.

When our language is different from theirs and they yell at us for it, don’t lose hope.

And when our frame of reference is different from theirs and they call us wrong, and racist, and too white, yell back.

Come here to No Award, if you have to. I will always yell with you.

Maybe what we need is a primer for well-meaning USAmericans. It’ll be about Indigenous Australians being classed as fauna, The White Australia Policy, slavery in Queensland, and I’m tired just thinking about it. Bags not me.

Here read some things: Luke Pearson on ‘When It’s OK to be ‘Part Aboriginal‘; Defining Aboriginality in Australia; Anita Heiss’ book Am I Black Enough For You?  (If African-American – and other POC – people knew they were doing what Andrew Bolt has done to Indigenous Australians, would that disgust them? I hope so.)

And on the Invasion Day weekend! Ugh.