Category Archives: News and politics

Vale Cory Monteith

Mood: Can’t Stop Crying

Cory Monteith
11 May 1982 – 13 July 2013
Rest In Peace

I never knew Cory Monteith. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, or talking to him, or rushing him at a red carpet appearance like a lovesick teenage puppy. But the news of his death shook me to the core and made me so incredibly sad.

Cory played a character on one of my favourite TV shows, Glee. I was a Gleek in high school and I found myself relating to the trials and tribulations suffered by the Gleeks in the TV show. As Finn, Cory portrayed a vision of what I wanted my high school boyfriend to be – a dream boat, a jock, a leader who was not afraid to stand up for the little people, an every day man, and a friend to all. I never met such a guy in high school, but oh, how I wished he existed back then.

I’ve been in tears for the past 24 hours, since hearing the awful news. I’ve been looking everywhere for news stories about Cory’s death, and reading all the tributes on Twitter from his co-stars and fellow performers in Hollywood. By all accounts, Cory was very much like Finn – a dream boat, an every day man, and a friend to all. None of the reporters who had ever met him had anything bad to say about him; something that was very rare in Hollywood. And the more lovely and loving tributes I read, the sadder I became.

I don’t want to speculate on the cause of Cory’s death – there are enough people speculating what happened in his Canadian hotel room. I want to always remember Cory as the dream boat, jock, leader of the pack, every day man, friend to all that he encapsulated in Finn.

I read a commentary today that put into words what I couldn’t – about the tragic loss of this lovely young actor from this world. I’ve reproduced the piece in full below. Thank you, Ben Pobjie, for writing this.

Why Cory Monteith deserved a happier ending

We don’t actually know the people on TV. We know this, but the purpose and genius of television is to lull us into feeling that we do.

We gain an impression of TV stars, a personality and image cooked up from their character, their public persona, and the superimposition of our own desires, and we hang on to that.

And so the death of Cory Monteith shocked us to our core, shook our worldview, because we knew him – not as Cory, a young man with all the complexities and demons that a human is subject to, but as Finn from Glee.

And as Finn we loved him, we cared for him, and we never imagined that he would have anything but a happy ending, because Glee was a show in the business of happy endings.

Monteith was neither the best actor nor the most powerful singer on Glee – his amateur’s voice couldn’t match some of his Broadway-pedigree co-stars – but in a way this only enhanced his greatest attribute: loveability.

Finn was easy to love. The leader who never quite knew who he wanted to be a leader. The jock who found himself unexpectedly more at home among the geeks. The handsome football star who found the courage to stand up for difference. The simple everyman who was never as simple as he seemed. In his ordinariness and self-doubt, he may have been the most relatable Gleek of all.

And so we who love Glee in all its bright cheesy glory found it easy to cheer him on in his show-stopping moments. The show made its mark indelibly when Finn joined the New Directions misfits in episode one to power through Don’t Stop Believin’, the song that remains the Glee signature. Monteith was the key to unlocking that magic, just as his character was for the Glee club.

We of the Glee nation loved him for embracing his inner choir nerd then, and loved him even more when he was called on to take control in a crisis, marshalling his motley crew in competition to lead them in a rousing rendition of You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Those who hated the show would cry this was sacrilege against the Rolling Stones; we who loved it lapped it up.

Finn was the heart and soul of the show, the focal point of both the Glee club and the show’s inevitable on-again off-again romance between him and Lea Michele’s Rachel.

And so many of Glee’s most memorable moments centred on their musical partnership, their duets on No Air, and Journey’s Faithfully, providing Monteith with just greatest moments as the classic romantic lead.

But perhaps Finn’s greatest role in Glee was as the representation of change, of the ability to overcome prejudice. His rendition of Bruno Mars’s Just The Way You Are in apology for his bigotry to his gay stepbrother Kurt was a marker of this; though probably an even more powerful moment was a non-musical one, when he appeared in a bizarre Lady Gaga-esque costume to rescue Kurt from the violence of homophobic bullies.

In a show whose very identity revolved around the celebration of difference, it was Finn whose learning and growth shone brightest as an example.

In his doubt, his uncertainty, his yearning for something greater, his restless search for himself, his struggle to iron out his own flaws and find happiness in unlikely places – the quarterback singing show tunes, ditching the cheerleader for the song-and-dance girl – Finn was the Gleek we wanted to be and hoped we were.

Sadly, Finn and Cory were not the same person, and even though we may have known of Cory’s problems, maybe we let our confidence in Finn’s ability to sail through a sea of troubles blind us to the fact that in real life it’s never as easy as on TV – and that as well as we knew Finn, we didn’t ever know Cory.

But if we know nothing else about Cory, we know that in his far-too-brief life, he left us Finn Hudson to remember him by. And we thank him, and bless him, for that.

Thank you, Cory Monteith. Don’t stop believing.


Dazed & Confused, Punch Drunk & Mad

Mood: WTF

The cartoon above might be funny, but what I’m about to talk about is deadly serious.

An article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald today that caught my attention. This article, titled “Punched over cigarette: man critical after alleged attack” dredged up a dark past that I don’t often want to think about, let alone be reminded of.

The article outlines a random and unprovoked physical attack on an unsuspecting victim, all because he refused to give the attacker a cigarette. The attack happened at around 9.30pm on a Wednesday evening, in a nice, quiet, well-to-do area on Sydney’s lower north shore, just across the street from where I use to live. The bashing victim was a young male in his mid-20s, walking with a group of friends along a main road, when the attacker approached them. After knocking his victim to the ground, it is reported that the victim’s friends had to crouch over him to shield him from being kicked by the attacker. The victim is currently in a critical condition at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

The article goes on to list some recent and equally unprovoked attacks – a young man (Simon Cramp) on a night out with friends spent just over a month in hospital after being in the wrong place at the wrong time, 48 hours of which was spent in a coma, and another young man (Thomas Kelly) killed by a king hit on his first outing to King Cross.

I look back on my younger days – my misspent youth – and it sends a chill down my spine to remember how I was involved in similar situations on a number of occasions.

On each and every one of those occasions, the attacks on my friends were unprovoked, and the attackers were random strangers. Unfortunately, none of those attackers were ever caught, free to continue their reign of terror on other unsuspecting victims.

I remember when I was 18, walking in broad daylight with a group of friends on our way to one friend’s house. We were laughing and joking around, and looking forward to more laughs and jokes once we reached our destination. We walked across a bridge, and saw a group of young men – boys, really – approaching from the other side. We didn’t pay any attention to them as they were strangers to us, and we continued our conversation. As our groups were about to pass each other, one of the boys took offence to something, and shouted “What? What are you f%$&ing looking at?” Stunned, none of us answered back, which made things worse. The boy took two big strides forward and threw an elbow into my friend Andrew’s face, sending him to the ground screaming in pain.

The gutless group of thugs ran off, laughing and yahooing as if they had planned to attack someone and they were pleased to have achieved their goal.

The elbow connected with Andrew’s open eye. The force of impact made a huge scratch on his eyeball and he ended up having to wear a patch over that eye for 6 weeks. Fortunately for him, Andrew didn’t lose his eyesight, but it was a close call according to his doctor.

We never made it to our friend’s house. We took Andrew to the hospital, and stayed with him for the next 6 hours while he waited to see someone. We called the police while we were waiting, and were asked to go down to the police station after Andrew had seen a doctor to give our statements. That took another 2 hours. And afterwards, we took Andrew home and stayed with him for another 6 hours before his parents could get back from their weekend away. It was nearly 3am by the time I got home, and I couldn’t get to sleep. I was still too wired from witnessing the attack.

I remember when I was 21, on a night out with my then boyfriend D, when we were approached by a group of young men, obviously drunk and looking for trouble. We didn’t know the men, but they started acting very aggressively towards us. D was a nightclub bouncer, on a rare night off, and really didn’t want to fight with drunken idiots. He politely asked the men to back off, but they kept coming at him, goading him and saying nasty things about me. D didn’t budge. He just kept calmly asking them to back down. Finally, one of the men lunged at D, with a knife in his hand. I hadn’t seen the knife until that point. D was sober and was able to quickly sidestep the lunging knife. Using his martial arts skills, D disarmed the idiot while shouting for me to call the cops. The rest of the idiots managed to push D off their mate, and they all ran off, minus the knife.

I remember when I was 24, on a night out with friends to celebrate a birthday, when a random drunk bloke came up to our group and asked for money. None of us wanted to give him any money, so he pulled out a syringe. With a needle. And started thrusting it at us. My group of friends scattered, and he came after me. I remember how scared I was, but I calmly tried to reason with the drunk, while my friends went to get hotel security. I remember talking to the drunk, asking him what he needed the money for, and if he wanted a drink, I was more than happy to buy him one, but he had to throw away the needle and syringe first. I remember my friends trying to pull me away, but every time my friends moved me a step away from the drunk, he moved a step forward so we maintained the same distance, no matter how far backwards I moved. I remember the sound of rushing blood in my ears as my heart pounded a million miles an hour, and I remember turning to my friends and chastising them for pulling me away, as I was having a good natter with the drunk. In the 5 minutes it took for hotel security to get to us, I think I aged 10 years. When the bouncers finally arrived and shoved the drunk away, my legs turned to jelly and my friends had to help me find a seat.

I remember when I was 27, on my way to meet up with my then boyfriend P for dinner, when I got a call from the hospital saying P had been in an accident. I raced to the hospital, to find P’s head was covered in stitches – massive cut on the back of his head, cuts all over his face, big gash above one of his eyebrows. And to top it off, he had 3 cracked ribs and 2 broken teeth. P told me he’d finished his shift at the pub and was walking to his car, minding his own business, when he was approached by a man asking for a cigarette. P told him he didn’t have one, and the man asked again. P repeated that he didn’t have any cigarettes, and turned his back to continue on his way. The next thing he remembered was waking up on the footpath, seeing a pool of blood, and knowing that he had been robbed. Thankfully, P wasn’t stabbed or hurt any more than he was, and whilst he lost his wallet and around $50, he was alive and with a lot of scars to show for his beating.

None of my friends nor I asked to be attacked. Each time, we were minding our own business, but were set upon by idiot trouble makers looking to punch on. What goes through these thugs’ minds when they set out to look for someone to punch? How many idiots go out on a nightly basis, looking for trouble? We are only hearing some of the more vicious attacks – surely, there must be dozens of similar incidents every night. And how many times do these dirtbags attack people before they call it a night?

The attacker who killed Thomas Kelly assaulted 4 other young men on the same night. Thomas was the 2nd man he’d struck. He went on to assault 3 other men before ending his violent spree, when he ostensibly headed home to smugly reflect on what a great night of punch-ons he’d had. This idiot was recently allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter instead of facing the greater charge of murder. This coward was basically given a “Get Out of Jail Free” when he was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, because with time served, he will probably end up only spending a couple of years in the clink, for killing a man – a man who was someone’s son, someone’s grandson, someone’s brother, someone’s nephew, someone’s boyfriend, someone’s friend, who was enjoying a night out with his friends, minding his own business, when his life was cut short. So unfair.

The article today made me wonder about the choices I’ve made in my life, and how lucky I’ve been to still be in one piece, married to a beautiful man and mother to a gorgeous son. It also made me wonder about the choices my son will make when he grows up. It will be my duty to teach him that real heroes walk away. It will be my duty to teach him that violence solves nothing. It will be my duty to teach him that drinking in moderation is much more fun than getting totally shitfaced. It will be my duty to teach him to watch for signs of trouble, and to move away from it as safely and as quickly as possible. But how will I teach him to avoid a king hit, when there are cowards in the world who attack you even after you’ve walked away?

I hope, when Master S is older, he will be smart and safe on a night out with friends. He will know how to look after himself, and how to look after his friends. And most importantly, he will know when enough is enough, and come home to sleep it off. I hope, with all my heart, that cowards like the ones who have been attacking innocent young men in recent months will never cross paths with my darling boy, because they will be behind bars, rotting away for the senseless violence they spew out of their pores.

Pray for Boston

Mood: Sad

There is so much evil in the world. And so much hate. I just can’t understand why there is so much evil and hate, and why people can’t move past these feelings without bringing violence into the equation.

I woke this morning to news that 2 bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing 2 people and injuring hundreds more. My thoughts were instantly with a number of our friends and associates who either live in Boston, or are in Boston for the marathon. A recently engaged friend has lived in Boston for the past 15 years, and being a runner, I thought there might have been a chance he and his fiancée were running in the marathon. A friend was racing in the marathon, which made my heart leap and sent me scouring the Internet to see if he was OK. A couple of J’s colleagues are also based in Boston, one of whom had only just relocated to Boston in the last month.

Thankfully, the news was good for us. Everyone we were worried about are safe and sound. My poor friend who was racing in the marathon is currently stuck in his hotel after the building went into lockdown, and he has no idea how long the lockdown will last. He is due to head to London to race in the London Marathon later this week, but I have a feeling he’s not really thinking about the race in London right now.

It’s unfathomable how much hate there is in this world. There is no other way to describe the motive behind the horrific Boston bombings. To maim and kill innocent people partaking in a happy and carefree pastime is to hate life so much that you would do anything to disrupt it. The most unfortunate thing about the people who perpetrated this hateful act is that they look like regular normal people, without any impediments or defects, but their cores must be a rotten mess of evil black to plan and execute their hateful plan of attack.

It took me weeks to get over the senseless murders in Colorado in July 2012. A hateful, senseless act of evil. Add cowardice to this picture when the murderer’s attorneys offered to have him plead guilty to try to avoid by the death penalty. No, dude, you do the crime, you do the time. The death penalty is too lenient on this oxygen thief anyway, in my opinion.

I have only just managed to stop crying every time I heard or read an article related to the awful events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School just before Christmas last year. I won’t make any comments about the shooter in this tragedy, other than hope that his soul is now at peace. I have nothing but sympathy towards all the families affected by this enormous tragedy. But yes, this was an act of hate, and I hate that so many people will never see their loved ones again.

I am so sad for the city of Boston and for all the people affected by this heinous act of hate. Sending love and prayers to all the good people of Boston and hope the city stays strong and fight back.

Good Will Hunted

Mood: Giggling

In a classic case of “Will He or Won’t He Get On That Plane”, an intrepid mother and daughter team tried to take their deceased father Willi for his ride into the sunset. Did the women Kill Bill, or were they simply trying to Free Willy?

Hilarious. Sad, but hilarious.

April 7, 2010 – 12:14PM

Two women say they unwittingly tried to take the corpse of a family member home via a major British airport, claiming they had no idea the man was dead.

But police are investigating whether the wife and daughter of the 91-year-old man, identified as Willi Jarant, put him on a flight from Liverpool to Berlin so they could hold a funeral in Germany without paying £3000 ($4900) repatriation costs.

The women were detained at Liverpool John Lennon Airport “on suspicion of failing to give notification of death”.

Both women deny the accusations, saying Mr Jarant was alive when they left home.

“Willi had Alzheimer’s and had not been in good health and wanted to go back to Germany to die,” Anke Anusic, 41, Mr Jarant’s daughter, told the Daily Mail.

“He was alive in the taxi and when we arrived at the airport. He had eaten breakfast that morning. At least eight people saw him alive that day.

“We had booked a wheelchair and a taxi and he must have died as he was wheeled into the airport.”

An airport worker told the Mail that Mr Jarant was “in a big coat, a pair of sunglasses”.

Another worker said he became aware of the situation after Mr Jarant’s face touched his while he was trying to help Mr Jarant out of the taxi.

It is believed the pair had ferried the corpse in a taxi from their home in Oldham, north-western England, to the airport in Liverpool.

“The older lady told me that he was elderly and frail and also very tired so I would have to lift him out of the taxi and into the wheelchair,” he said.

“I immediately felt unsure about the situation but I did my best to help by carefully lifting the man from his seat. To my horror his face fell sideways against mine. It was ice cold. I knew straight away that the man was dead but they reassured me that he ‘always sleeps like that’.”

Gitta Jarant, 66, Mr Jarant’s wife, said she planned to complain to the German embassy over the incident.

The pair have not been charged. They have been released on bail until June 1, pending a full investigation.

Victorian Bushfires 2009

Mood: Very Very Sad

As rural Victoria is gripped by the worst bushfires in history, I have tried to keep abreast of the latest news through all the media, all the while fighting back tears and failing miserably.

The media outlets had been covering the news of bushfires throughout last week. Australia has been through some bushfires before – some bad, some really bad, but bushfires are a way of life in Australia. From late November every year, people start preparing for bushfire season. I remember years ago – in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when there were 2 summers where the bushfires in Sydney came close enough to our home to warrant some concern. I well recall seeing embers and ash floating down from the skies and racing about stamping them out.

It was with some complacency that I didn’t follow the news of the bushfires over the weekend closely enough. After all, there are always bushfires raging somewhere during the Australian summer, and as we had been expecting heatwave conditions in Sydney, J and I were more worried about keeping cool and staying hydrated throughout the weekend than what was happening in the news.

For most of Saturday, the TV was off. We read and enjoyed the cool air from the fans while sipping Pimms and lemonade on the comfy couch. For most of Saturday, we were oblivious to what was going on in the southern state.

Imagine my horror when I read the paper on Sunday that 14 people were confirmed dead in the Victorian bushfires.

As J had M for a day visit, we had plenty on the agenda for the day. At some stage, I’d heard the death toll had hit 40. M commandeered the radio for much of the afternoon with her choice of music (Captain Bandanna’s Just Imagine was played over and over again), and by the time we arrived home, all we wanted was relative silence.

The TV was finally turned on at around 9.30pm. The cricket was just finishing and there was a special news bulletin on Ch 9 about the bushfires. I thought it was time I caught up on the news, as special bulletins usually did not bode well.

Imagine my horror when the newsreader announced the official death toll stood at 84.

My body went numb. My stomach turned a little. I had to swallow hard to not vomit. It was just horrendous.

For much of the next hour, I sat and watched the news, and cried. Having never seen me cry over news items, J did the only thing there was to do – he put down his book and put his arms around me. Holding me, he tried his best to comfort me through my racking sobs.

The pictures on the news showed huge areas devastated by fire – house after house burned to the ground, clusters of burnt out cars on the side of the road. These cars had loads of collision damage, most likely sustained whilst the drivers were all trying to get away from the fires. I prayed the occupants got out.

I watched a replay of a press conference held by the Victorian Premier John Brumby. When he broke down, I lost it too.

It was hard getting to sleep last night. I had some weird dreams, which I didn’t mention to J this morning – it was better this way. In my dream, I was trying to drive through thick fog/smoke, and I was using a concrete barrier to navigate. But the concrete barrier was too bendy and I was taken further and further into thicker fog/smoke. I slowed down in an attempt to not crash into other cars, and only narrowly missed some cars which were also using the concrete barrier to navigate their way out of the fog/smoke.

We woke this morning to more updates from Victoria. And the news could not have been worse. As at 8am, 108 men, women and children had perished in the fires. I could barely choke down my coffee this morning as I watched Mel lose her composure time and again on Sunrise – every time her voice wavered, I’d start crying.

After dropping J at work, I returned to watch more coverage from the Sunrise team. And I kept crying. Devastating is the only word that keeps rolling around in my head when I think about the horror faced by so many.

Then news came that some of the fires were deliberately lit. I was and remain completely disgusted and appalled by this fact. I am so angry and upset by the callousness of these idiots that I want to catch them and stab them and then set them on fire. For want of a better phrase, I want those who deliberately started those fires to burn in hell.

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called the arsonists "mass murderers". The Federal Attorney-General has supported Rudd’s view and told Parliament that "anyone who lights fires deliberately, with reckless disregard for the safety of their fellow Australians, in our view establishes the requisite criminal intent that would sustain a charge of murder".

Late this afternoon, the number of people confirmed to have perished in the fires reached 131.

The events have hit everyone hard. There is tangible sadness etched on the faces of everyone who has had to deliver news items about the fires, or hold press conferences to brief the public. From newsreaders to politicians, no one can hold back the flood of emotions and sadness caused by this awful atrocity. And I continue to cry with them as I helplessly watch the news unfold.

I’ve made a small donation to the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal. It isn’t a huge donation, but I sincerely hope my $200 will go some way towards helping the good people of Victoria.

Updated on 10/02/2009 @ 11.47am

The human toll continues to rise. As at 7.15am this morning, the official figure stands at 173. May their souls rest in peace.

Updated on 11/02/2009 @ 5.55pm

The figure has risen to 181 but authorities are expecting the final toll to exceed 300. On a brighter note, the generosity of Australian has been overwhelming, with over $40M raised since the start of the Bushfire Appeal. I’m so pleased.

On Monday next week, I’ll be heading to the Blood Donation Centre in Chatswood to give blood. I tried to get an appointment to donate blood this week, but it seems at lot of others have the same idea as me, and Monday morning was the first available appointment. The stats are amazing – Red Cross has fielded over 20,000 calls for appointments to donate blood in the last 3 days, where under normal circumstances they would have expected 120 in the same period. Go you good thing, Aussies.

Updated on 12/02/2009 @ 10.35am

I’m so proud to be an Aussie. The Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal has exceeded $50M in donations. I hope the donations keep pouring in, as the victims will need every cent they can get to rebuild their lives.

Princess G …

Mood: Mmm…

For someone who is sliding quickly towards her use-by date, is it wrong of me to still harbour a dream of becoming a real life princess some day?

Earlier this month, His Majesty King Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck became the world’s youngest monarch and head of state. The 28 year old is Oxford-educated and holds a Masters of Philosophy in Politics. He has a younger sister, Princess Dechen Yangzom, and brother, Prince Jigme Dorji, as well as four half-sisters and three half-brothers.

And he’s single.

The 5th Dragon King of Bhutan is said to be well educated, well travelled, articulate and passionate about his country. When he visited Thailand in 2006, the local press dubbed him "Prince Charming". It’s not hard to fathom why.

Dragon Queen Gloria. Yes, it has a certain ring to it! For him, I’d even be willing to be known as "Mrs Wangchuck".

And please, no one needs to mention this to J!!!

Say Cheese!

Mood: And Laughing Some More

What a great day for the funnies – I’m still laughing at this latest one!!! Some mothers do ‘ave ’em!

Stephen Hutcheon
May 12, 2008 – 1:26PM, SMH Online

Police have arrested two men and recovered $US5500 ($5800) worth of stolen computers and electronic devices after the owner of one of the purloined laptops was able to connect remotely to her Apple MacBook and photograph the thief.

Kait Duplaga, 19, returned to her New York state home on April 27 to find the unit she shared with two other flat mates had been ransacked.

Among the missing items were two laptops, two flat-screen televisions, two iPods, gaming consoles, DVDs and computer games, The Journal News, a New York state newspaper, reported.

Then last week, Duplaga , who works at an Apple Store, received a text message from a friend who noticed she was back online and congratulated her on recovering the missing laptop.

Duplaga, who had not recovered the computer, realised that someone using her stolen Mac had gone online.

She signed on to another Mac and activated "Back to My Mac", a feature that is available to people to subscribe to the .Mac service, which in Australia costs $140 a year.

From there she was able to remotely activate the laptop’s built-in web cam.

After a short while, a man sat down in front of her computer and Duplaga used the remote control function to capture a photo.

By the time he realised what was going on it was too late to prevent the picture from being transmitted back to Duplaga.

Then, another stroke of luck. One of Duplaga’s flatmates recognised the tattooed thief from the photograph.

The man in the photo turned out to be Ian Frias, a friend of victims. Frias and his friend, Edmon Shahikian, had attended a party at the unit a few weeks earlier.

The following day, police arrested Frias, 20, and Shahikian, 23. The pair were bailed and now face charges of burglary and possession of stolen property.

"It doesn’t get much better than their bringing us a picture of the guy actually using the stolen property," Daniel Jackson, the deputy commissioner of public safety in the city of White Plains, told The New York Times. "It certainly made our job easier."