Prediction

I could have told you so.

In fact, I tried.
For a long time I have toyed with a post apocalyptic tale. The working title is Host, an exert of which can be found here…if you can be bothered scrolling through the tripe my brain tends to throw out at random.

Host though, is a concerted effort. Admittedly, not something I have bothered with in a while, not something which has come to any fruition and not a project that is either all consuming or something I have obsessed over. A bit more obsession, a bit more effort and maybe Host could have become something.
Something like a book ideally, complete with syndicated TV and movie rights.
But short of my artisitic, creative musings actually being worth any financial return I can’t help, in currnt climes, being drawn to the tale of a bunch of Kiwis facing up to imminent disaster. Such is the premise of Host.

Okay, the circumstances are different but all the drama is there to be seen, playing out right now on any media outlet you wish to name. Just lacking the gory violence and gratuitous sex scenes.
I am I selling you on it yet?
I guess the point is, we have all seen Covid 19 coming. Or at least something of the ilk. Coronavirus may be no Walking Dead but it isn’t much of a leap from a tele programme to the truth. Cantagion anyone?
I am not going to debate whether it is Hollywood leading reality or vice versa. Happy to quote Albert Einstein though, who reckoned imagination is more important than knowledge. Perhaps one is actually limited without the other but that’s a debate for another day.

Be it born in a studio or a lab or the spit/blood/piss of a bat/pig/duck/dog/mad cow, Covid 19 is a reality. A reality which will surely, pretty much, write itself.
All the experts in the world can claim they predicted it, all the politicians can state they were prepared. Did they? Were they? Questions to be asked when dust particles take a moment, a few deep breaths and begin to settle.
Worst case senario, there will be no more Hollywood. No more Brad Pitt//Mark Wahlberg/Tom Hardy teamed up with the leading lady de jour, played off against the henchman John Malcovich/Kevin Spacey/Michael Madson.
The story of the corona virus is too good to be missed. Most of it has been written already, in the the notes, drafts and final edits of every parlaimentary speech writer all over the globe.

People are dead and there will be more fatalities, before Covid eventually disappears or becomes one of those things we ‘manage’ as a people. A first world people at least. Of course it won’t disappear, in the same way coronavirus is not new. First world peoplpe have movie theatres, even if the seats are a minimum of two meters apart. Luxury.
Maybe if everyone had listened to me. Read me. Maybe if a publisher had decided what I predicted was worth reading…

They didn’t.
Host hasn’t been published. Predominantly because, as a body of work, it is incomplete. I haven’t finished it and there is every likelihood I never will.
Besides, Host is a Kiwicentric zombie story based around a parasitic infestation. Not viral. Not real.
I heard someone, somewhere, saying maybe the authorities of the world were stumped, lost and floundering and if so, then maybe a call to Steven Speilberg wouldn’t go amiss. He would in turn call Bruce Willis. Guys like those two might not have the answers, maybe no one does right now, but they are sure a couple of people more than aware of how this thing plays out.
If we can fit Will Smith in the storyline somewhere then it won’t be long before we have the current crisis all sorted, a bunch of pithy, cliched one-liners wrapped up within a few mutli-billion dollar months, in various locations throughout the world. Chuck in Samual L Jackson and suddenly Covid is cool.
Leave Peter Jackson out of it. We don’t want things to drag on.

I can’t predict the future. I don’t believe any one can, even if there are a bunch of poeple out there who think the economists, the scientists and the analysts have a handle on what comes next.
Whatever ‘next’ pans out to be, it will be a directors wet dream, a producers dream come true. We just have to get through the nightmare before we can get to the popcorn.
If Tom Hanks can survive Covid 19, Tom Hanks can relive Covid 19. For our benefit.

die-hard-6-search-young-john-mcclane-actor

I long for the day Covid 19, coronavirus, is nothing more taxing than entertainment.
The day when Lockdown becomes ‘remember when’.
The time when a pandemic, real, present and dangerous, is franchised. Nic Cage tied in for 3 movies minimum as the nutty, odd-ball professor ready to solve it all, Mark Ruffalo as the heart trob, sensitive new age Dad, recently seperated, estranged, just trying to do what he can to get to his family and in turn, saving the planet.
And Jeff Goldblum. Just because.
Coming to a screen near you. Covid 19 the Outbreak? The Lockdown?
The mindfuck.

This is what happens when there is too much time on someones hands. Time donated courtesy of a governmental enforced lockdown…

Oh…who plays Jacinda?

 

 

Praise

I am not a great follower of the media.
My family life, home life and work all take precedence over what is happening on a current affairs level.
It stands to reason too, the way news is accessed these days has changed. I have read and heard much of what is occurring on a day to day basis, long before the six o’clock news.

As it stands, we don’t have a freeview box or sky in our house. To watch the news, we would have to stream it but at that time of the evening, our main meal is being prepared and eaten. The world can be doing whatever it wants, Wifey and I have four growing mouths to feed and there is nothing which will stand in the way of a hungry child.

Like most people, I am a fan of the distracting escapism a good movie or series can provide. Music plays a big role in my life and forms, in large part, the entertainment I might seek at any time.
If ever I do access any given media outlet, it is usually to find results on, or to follow live, one sporting event or another. Sports is the other thing I find a valuable entertainment.
Late last week would have seen the end of the test match between New Zealand’s Black Caps and Bangladesh. Ok, the game might not have stretched that far, given the current form of the respective sides but it’s cancellation, for obvious reasons, was a sad way for our international summer of cricket season to end.

I work in a rural location. I don’t have access to the AM network and I don’t have reliable cell phone coverage for streaming purposes etc. I do have FM capabilities on my phone and over the last week I tuned to Magic Talk.
The station, previously known as RadioLive, is part of the Newshub collection and in the past has captured my attention, as much for it’s presenters and hosts as for content. I am a fan of the input someone like Marcus Lush has on our airwaves, found a guy like John Tamahere refreshing, whether I agreed with him or not.

Those names have gone, however I was pleased to hear the tones of Brendon Telfer when I tuned in to Magic Talk, sitting in for Peter Williams.
Telfer is an intelligent man, thinks before he opens his mouth and has a broad range of tolerant opinions. He is a broadcaster who has been in the business for many years and as such, is an opinion I trust and a voice I was able to find comfort in.
I love the energy and vitality Duncan Garner brings, even if I at times don’t agree with him, and the balance he gets from the likes of Amanda Gillies, someone I feel is one of the better broadcasters and journalists out there currently.

Sean_Plunket

And then there is Sean Plunket.
A strong, forthright, highly vocal and independent voice. A man I personally have struggled to like or listen to at times in the past.
Yet, conversely, he turned out to be the person who helped me the most to reconcile things over this last week.

I work alone predominantly. I have flora and fauna for company but can go days on end with little or no human companionship. I love it.
The problem with spending so much time on your own is the intensity your own thoughts can reach. Luckily, I have become very adept at moderating myself, tempering the type and direction my brain can travel. While it is fun to let the mind wonder and ramble, it can also be disconcerting and distracting.

Self moderation and tempering were just two of the traits exhibited by Sean Plunket, a man no stranger to courting controversy.
During his broadcasts, he was able to remain strong yet empathetic. He could lend a sympathetic and caring ear, take a breath, then be vehement.
I listened as the man crossed all sorts of emotional barriers, as we all were doing, yet he did it openly, in the public eye so to speak and he did so with a measure of reflective realism.
He was hurting, just like us and just the same as his colleagues. What a job they are tasked with, when the world suddenly crumbles around them and human tragedy is before their lenses, cries of anguish and fear and the wails of pain at he end of their microphones.
I have already praised the police, feel there is a need to strongly acknowledge the leadership of Jacinda Ardern, her government and the all the members of parliament. And now praise for our collective media.
Have we ever been so together?
We can thank that man for that.

Our media has played a key role in that leadership. Bipartisanship to the fore in our political realms and also in our newsrooms. Ego put aside, agenda’s postponed or cancelled altogether.
Plunket had the finger pointed at him. It didn’t take long for things to get personal, then political, despite the urging of the man himself.
Plunket stayed pious throughout but I fear was always fighting a losing battle. Hideous things were leveled at him as if his ilk, social commentators like him, somehow had blood on their hands, that he was as responsible if not more so, than the foul person who pulled the trigger many times over.

Through it all, Plunket, just as many others were doing, used his platform to spread a message of tolerance, of peace and love. He spoke of a commitment to togetherness, he stayed reasoned and calm, even as his voice cracked.
How the hell he stayed so strong ow any of our media representatives did, I really don’t know. One and all of them get my respect, from the sound dude to the camera operator to the presenter to the makeup people to the producers…a big heart felt thanks.

Sean Plunket sounds like a smoker. He sounds like he is not a bloke I might have a lot in common with. He sounds like a guy I would end up arguing with.
I reckon he is a guy who will buy me a beer, half way through that argument. He will gladly accept one in return and I think, if I saw him in that same bar a week or so later, we would be at it all over again.
A beer, a debate, even an argument.
A shake of the hand, a laugh and a smile.

To Sean Plunket….
Not sure I could have done it without ya mate. Not alone like I was.
But I didn’t have to go far to find a bit of support. I just turned on the radio. How old fashioned, how quaint.
Of course, I spoke with my wife, other members of my family, my employers and friends. People just as lost, hurt and confused as I was.
I imagine there is a someone for everyone at times like this. The days we have been through as a nation over the last week, proved just how wrong the gunman got it, just how perverse the response to an act of terror can be.
How unifying.

Now is a time for reasoning. For conversations to take place.
I needed a voice to guide me, to moderate me, to help me. As much by coincidence as anything else, Sean Plunket provided that voice.
I will never forget that, as much as the events of the 15th are indelibly printed on my brain.

Thanks

 

Tears of Islam

Should that headline read tears for Islam?

According to my wife it should. She sat in her favourite chair, our slumbering youngest nestled against her despite the persistent heat of a summer which refuses to give in, and wept.

As far as is known, as I sit and write, forty nine people are confirmed dead.

Forty nine men, women and children, literally on their knees in prayer, gunned down.

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I don’t need to describe the horrors and nor do I need to decry them.
Done, by all the media outlets and all the commentators and all those with the tech and the wherewithal.
I am certainly not going to apportion blame.
I could point the finger at social media, which allows the like minded to agitate and to ridicule and to deride. Worse still, social media allows these people to congregate.
We could question gun laws, asking why there isn’t a register of weapons for every person issued a firearms license.
We could look to our police and our security agencies, our intelligence services and border control and government and policy, ask a collective why?
You can’t police the nutters. You can’t legislate for the insane.

You can blame the people pulling the trigger.

An extremist is insane.
Be they Christian or Buddhist or Catholic or Muslim.
Be as far right or left of the political divide as you wish.
Just not too far.
Be as devout and as pious and as proud of your chosen religion as you feel you must.
Where religion and politics intersect, be fervent and aware and earnest and also be open and appraising and smart. Stand your ground, by all means. All the while, let those around you stand theirs too.
There is plenty ground to go around.

I have been away from the keyboard for quite some time.
A new house, a new job, kids starting a new year in new schools in a new town. We have been busy, hectic at times and it pains me to acknowledge, it takes something like this to fire my emotional output.
Too often the word ‘tragedy’ is bandied about but now we have one, yet again in the city of Christchurch. So much that place has suffered and so often there are setbacks to recovery.
But, 15/3/2019 contained no force of nature, no random act of seismic power. People did this and they did it to each other.
I just don’t get it.

Video footage taken and posted by  the perpetrator, as if his actions and those of his mates were somehow significant, as if they had some point, some depth we all needed to become aware of. Bad enough and all as he defiantly gives the impression he is proud of his actions.
And in so doing, he drives the final nail into the coffin which contained the innocence of this nation. The perceived innocence at least.

The New Zealand Wars, Tiriti o Waitangi, Think Big, Nuclear Free. Big issues, big standpoints with different results or none at all.
In regards to our nations stance on the nuclear issue, we watched a ship blown up and sunk in one of our harbours, at the cost of a life. State sponsored terrorism.
Now the argument, and the terrifying response, seems to be over immigration. Delivered to us, it would seem, at the hands of an immigrant.
How is Australian Immigration gonna like getting this one back?

Because our Prime Minister is right. Jacinda Ardern is correct in telling us that this man, immigrant or not, is not one of us. He does not belong.
If his colleagues are Kiwi born and raised, then they too no longer belong.
They are not New Zealanders.
Not true, died in the wool (merino) New Zealander’s. They are white trash filthy scum and white trash scum should be stateless.

I know New Zealand is not the land of milk and honey.
No, wait…it is!
We are Godzone, we are small and far away and exotic and beautiful and clean and green and we are friendly and accommodating and yes, we are innocent.
We are non-threatening and we are courageous and we are forthright and earnest, trying our best in every endeavour and we do get so much of it right.
We smile because, generally, we are fed and housed and educated and yes, we are loved.
Kiwis don’t fear you because we don’t threaten you.

Number One’s math teacher is Palestinian. English is not his first language and I think he knows some of the kids find it hard to understand him at times.
But kids don’t want to send him back from where he came. Kids want a day off to wave banners and moan about the environment.After all, aren’t numbers a language in themselves? A language I can’t understand either.
Think. How is his night? Does he spend his night in fear? Does he worry, as he bends in prayer, that all he will be delivered was a bullet to the back of his skull?

Palestinian mathematics teachers are welcome in this town, on this island, in this country.
Bangladeshi cricketers are welcome and Pakistani grocers and Afghani accountants Uzbek truck drivers and who ever from where ever.
Extremists from Australia or Christchurch or Matamata or Culverden or wherever, aren’t.

But this isn’t really about race or creed or colour.
15/3/2019 Christchurch was about ego. It was about exclusion and loss and a sense of entitlement, a misguided notion of where the wrongs of the world are and how best to put them right.
This was about kitten stranglers, about kids who used to pull the legs off spiders just to watch the poor creature, and the poor gathered boys and girls, squirm.

This was not about Islam.

This was not about New Zealand.

I watched rugby tonight. My kids watched TV. We ate as a family. We remained ‘we’ even as my wife’s tears were justified and I battle to contain my anger.

Tears for Islam
Tears for Christchurch
Tears for New Zealand
Yes, tears for the people and families directly involved. Tears for the police and emergency services and all those who will now be involved mopping it all up, no doubt for years to come.

Tears for humanity.
Just when will we get that right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Apples. Bad Man.

Grace Millane. Saddened? Hell yes. Sickened? You know it. Shocked? Unfortunately, no. 

I haven’t been on a date in a long time. Possibly because, as a forty something, hirsute, chubby, balding man with an empty wallet, I am far from desirable.
More likely my lack of recent dating experience is due to my long-term, happy marriage and the four kids produced. Wifey and I are lucky to see a movie on the couch together, uninterrupted, without one or the other of us falling asleep!

It stands to reason I therefore have little I can say about dating apps. Are they safe? No idea, I have never used one and am unlikely to at any time in the foreseeable future. Would I want my girls on one, using an app to source dates? Again, I have no authority from which to answer that question but I will anyway…
No.
I do not want my girls, young woman as they would be at that point, using something as anonymous as a dating app. While I understand that such apps are used as a convenience, rather than being a means purely for the desperate and needy to seek some sort of succour, the lack of real knowledge about who you are hooking up with is worrying to say the least. What on this earth is so wrong with face to face? Let’s get out and about again people.
Should users of such apps, particularly female, cease dating that way? Probably not. For every creep out there there will be dozens, hundreds, thousands of genuine, upstanding, ‘normal’ people.

millane

We have heard a lot about the hideous killing of Grace Millane. There can be no argument, two nations waited on tenterhooks while the police conducted their investigations and search.
Of course, as a country, we were appalled. It is sad to say though, in this day and age, it is no surprise.
How long has it been since a tourist was killed here? Not one engaged in some adventure tourism, choosing to put life and limb at risk leaping off a bridge or surfing a raging river. The Swedish couple immediately springs to mind, David Tamihere and all that confusion…

So it was coming. Law of averages and all that. We might think we live in paradise and we do, but eventually, we will fail to dodge the bullet. The reality is, this fair nation has it’s fair share of nutters. And when a nutter targets a nice, clean cut, educated, white middle-class young person, the world looks up and takes notice.
Too cynical? Maybe. I can’t help but think if the victim had been a toothless, over weight Maori diabetic with an alcohol problem, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Yesterday’s news.
A jaded old world view makes you think a bit like that, but it isn’t the point.

Get to it then, the point, if indeed you have one?
Thing is, I am not sure I do. The death of Grace and the inevitable opinions and attitudes which have been thrown up (it only takes a moment or two after a body washes up), merely raise a bunch more questions. What’s more, I do not believe I am the person best placed to respond to them.
Because I do get defensive. I do get my back up, as a man, when the finger is pointed.
I know it isn’t pointed at me. Not directly at least. I know it is more about language than accusation. There is no one out there, of either gender, claiming I, as an individual, have done any wrong, committed any crime.
Guilty by association? To an extent, yes. I am a man after all.

Articles by the likes of Cecile Meier do grate.
www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/motivate-me/109320099/grace-millane-women-cannot-live-in-fear

She begins by asserting the idea that we, women in particular, cannot live in fear.
Great, I should hope not. Everyone has to go on with their everyday lives, as if nothing has happened and nothing is going to happen.
Where danger is perceived, exhibit caution and care, be aware, alert and vigilant.
Don’t be scared, paranoid or tentative. Boldly go where women have gone before. Long shall they continue to.

Cecile Meier then goes on to say that men, though she does make the point that it isn’t all men, have to think of how they can do their bit. How they…yes, all men…are part of the problem if they don’t act against a mate at the bar touching up a woman.
Thing is ‘good men’ as they are referred to in the article, don’t have mates who grope ladies randomly in pubs and bars and nightclubs.
Good men don’t yell sexist slurs, don’t sexually harass in the workplace or anywhere and no, good men don’t stand by and allow any of it to happen, even if the chances of getting punched in the face heighten exponentially by stepping up.
Yes, I have laughed at rape jokes. The women sitting around me at the time have laughed along to. After all, man and woman alike purchased tickets to whatever event might have being taking place. You know, a comic for example.
Jokes like that are delivered by comedians working the shock factor, looking to explore limits and test boundaries. Told right, a joke can be about anything. That is the key to humour.
Jimmy Carr, one of my favourite comedians, is a prime example. He has stated that offense is taken, not given and I have to agree. In his way, in the way of comedy, expressing such topics in the form of humour is discourse, of a kind and the more of that, the better.
Does joking about that sort of thing ‘normalise’ the behaviour? Normalise rape?

No.
Because there is nothing normal about rape. Normal people, men, good men, don’t rape and nothing about my behaviour is going to stop a rapist from doing what he does, driven by whatever warped shit going on in his head inspiring him to do so.
Yes there is porn culture, thanks to the internet. Yes there is a throw back against the feminist movement, a backlash, small, isolated but unfortunately, relevant. Yes there is cultural clash, the globalization of nations meaning there is unavoidable difference, there is misunderstanding, there is expectation.
However, me being a good person, the one that I am already, the example I set for my children, will not stop any perpetrator of any bad deeds.
Do I, as a man, sound defensive? Possibly and many a reader (there aren’t many) may chose to interpret it that way. Or, is it more a case of reality. There is a limited sphere one individual can operate in and despite the realm of such good men’s spheres interacting, coercing, co-existing, there is little I or a collective we can do, unless we catch the bastard in the act.

Yes, some men violently attack women. Scummy, low-brow, socially retarded men.
Anecdotally, as someone who was once a young male, I can say the people most likely to suffer physical violence, are men. Males between the ages of say fifteen, through to their mid twenties. That is what I saw anyway and to be fair, not a great deal of it. What did happen and I suspect it is still a truth to this day, was fueled by alcohol.
Cecile Meier can bandy about vague stats, claiming one in two Kiwi women have been physically and psychologically abused by their partners.
I call bullshit.
If I am wrong, put the numbers up to prove it.

And this guy…www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/opinion/109363511/guys-we-need-to-talk-and-we-need-to-listen
Good points, many of them. However, men are not the only ones with locker rooms. Can’t we be different, can’t we ‘take the piss’. Isn’t that very much the Kiwi way?
Maybe the locker room joker is a rapist. Maybe he is making a misplaced attempt to fit in. Maybe he is divided by generational shifts, failing to move and change with times. Maybe he is a creepy jerk. Maybe, just maybe, repeating a line or a joke after a highly competitive squash doubles match or whatever, doesn’t make him a murdering rapist.
Both genders dig at each other. Jest and jibe and rib and whatever other sweet and endearing term you would like to place on the good ole NZ way of giving each other shit.

Things in New Zealand aren’t as paradisaical as many on these shores would like to think, but I am reckoning they are not as bad as is being alluded to. Society would have long since fallen apart if every second woman here was getting the bash.
And men, even these so called ‘good men’, are the only ones actively engaged in physical and mental abuse?
I have been punched, slapped, kicked, bitten and scratched, all the while screamed filth is yelled in my face.
I’ve punched this and battered that when a woman has frazzled me to my wits end. I am no angel. Burn my stuff, slice it to pieces with scissors or any other melodramatic cliched female response to drama…it’s my fault and I should not defend that. Threat and counter threat.

Women, go ahead and reclaim the night and all the rest of it. Best of luck to you. I wholeheartedly support the sentiment.
Sentiment won’t keep you save on the streets at night. The same way me waving a placard or lighting a candle, nodding sagely and wisely to the ‘opinion’ of a Cecile Meier, wiping a tear away as I listen to the speeches from women of influence and power, like Jacinda Ardern, isn’t going to stop the next bashing in the home, the next bit of sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond.
The next rape.

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Ladies, I don’t want you to worry your pretty little heads, but ask yourself this one simple thing…who, as in what gender, has the greatest influence during the raising of our children?
Answer…you. Yes, you. Women. All the good and the bad of you.
Women dominate in our homes. They dominate in our preschools and kindergartens and play centers. They rule in the classroom at schools, right through all the education afforded to our children.
Part of another, wider debate for sure, but there needs to be a stronger, far more present, male influence in our schooling, in the raising of our tamariki. The good men.

We raise our children. You, me, my wife, the dude behind the counter at the local store, the teachers and coaches and the big brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties and neighbours and the surf life saving club and the volunteer this and the assistant that and whomever touches their lives.
As the Blues Bothers said: You, Me, Them, Everybody…

At the top of that list…
Women.
Our Mothers.
Our teachers.

Bad apples.
One of them fell from a tree, probably not too far and took out Grace Millane.
He’ll get his, such is fate. Don’t let the likes of him get yours and especially, don’t let the likes of yours be the likes of Grace Millane. Not that there is bugger all, as parents, you can necessarily do about it. Not, as men, either. There is as much inherent risk swiping right, as there is batting your eyelids across the bar, no matter your gender.
Let’s, as men, the good ones, stand by our women and help them make better people of all of us. And while we are at it, let’s not be afraid, yes afraid, to defend ourselves as the good people we are. Not just good men, but good people.
Because, let us not forget, good men are just like the majority of everyone the world over.

Good people.