Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Australia the movie - what you don't know

To be honest, I've never been a big fan of the big screen period drama, particularly when there's a faint whiff of Mills & Boon romance mixed in with the gumleaves, billy tea and horse poo.

It's the reason why I've never seen that over-salted, soggy sea cracker Titanic and probably never will. Too much schmaltz and seaweed makes for a nasty stink in my books.

But Baz Luhrmann's Australia is an Aussie classic, maaate! It's got Our Nic and Big Bad Hughie Jackman running around this vast bloody Western Australian bushland half naked, it's got war, it's got weird references to the Wizard of Oz and it's got REAL indigenous Australians in the cast.

God damn, it's the film that's supposed to stab Crocodile Dundee to death with its own hunting knife and bury the carcas under a rotting log never to cast its shadow across the oz-stereotype again.

Okay, sooooo...

Sifting through all the hype, to my eyes Australia was looking about as authentic-oz as a smear of Marmite on a piece of German rye. A few roos short of a top paddock.

But that was until I came across - let's call him David - an Aboriginal bloke and his wife hanging around to one side of a Western Force sponsorship announcement at Ronald McDonald House in Subiaco.

"David worked on that film Australia," someone whispered.

I wandered over and introduced myself, asking what he worked on during the project. 'David' explained that Baz had employed him to ensure the authenticity of the Aboriginal language captured on film.

"It was lucky," he said. "If they'd filmed a few kilometres further north it would have been another language spoken in that country and someone else would have got the job."

David had just got back to the Kimberley after a couple of weeks post-production work in Sydney. He and his wife had bought their son down for treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital and were staying at Ronald McDonald House while they were in town.

"Don't like this cold weather," he said with a rue smile.

To him the work was no big deal. He was just a bloke from the Kimberley who was lucky enough to land a job with a pretty big film that rolled into his corner of this vast continent. His son also managed to land work as a stand-in actor to one of the lead cast members.

It was after this meeting that I decided that yes, I would go and see Australia at the cinema and add my few dollars to the gross ticket sales that determine the success or failure of a film.

If Baz was prepared to go to such lengths to ensure the authenticity of the Aboriginal language spoken in that particular area of Western Australia where the film was shot, then he's got my two thumbs-up.

I might still walk away less than moved, but that sort of attention to detail deserves respect, maaate!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Groove on the Green

Lawn bowls is my kind of sport. You can kick your shoes off, have a few lazy ales and roll a few bowls down without too much fear of breaking into a sweat.

And now the North Fremantle Centre, home of the Magpies, has pumped up the cool factor to 11, with its Sunday Groove on the Green sessions.

Not only can you indulge in barefoot bowls and the finest liquor available to mankind, you can also enjoy live music with an open mic session taking place from 2.00 - 7.00pm... whenever the groove grinds to a halt. Oh, and there's a barbecue in action as well to keep the tastebuds happy.

Now if you've read my previous post about the NFC, you'll know that it's seriously retro and The Perth Files (TPF) just LOVES retro, almost as much as a cold beer.

Best of all, there's a serious TPF link here, with Cookster Senior (my Fremantle correspondent) the man behind the plan and behind the bar.

Join my facebook group Friends of North Fremantle Bowling Club for news of The Perth Files 4th Birthday Bash in 2009.

The club is located on Stirling Hwy, North Fremantle - on the left as you head towards the 'new' bridge.

See you on the green groovers!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Help out the kids tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is McHappy Day and if you've ever wondered what this fundraiser supported by - love 'em or hate 'em - McDonald's actually does, then I'd suggest you take a couple of minutes to watch this video.

This footage was shot just two weeks ago at Ronald McDonald House in Subiaco. I've met these kids, I've met their families and I hope that you'll want to help them as much as I do.

Tomorrow, 15 November, you can choose to buy a Big Mac, you can buy a Crazy Straw, a box of Byron Bay Cookies, a McHappy Meal, or just throw some coins into the bucket.

There are plenty of ways you can pitch in, so go on, even if you're a rabid member of the Young Socialist Alliance who thinks our clown Ronald is the spawn of Satan (trust me, he's not), hang up your hang-ups for one day and 'help teh kideez'.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Obama victory - from the inside looking out

Barack Obama may well be the President elect of the United States of America, but a quick Google search shows that in the online world, we're talking about the importance of this event on a global scale.

Maybe it's because we're all running scared? Maybe it's because at this time in world history it's no longer fun to have a clown in the White House, a good 'ol boy who can't grasp third grade linguistics. This shit has hit the world economics fan, the globe is combusting and no one seems to have a hand on the steering wheel.

To use a line from the Aussie 80s flick 'Going Down', 'This is a dog eat dog world and from where I'm standing, there's not enough dog to go around.'

We need a WORLD leader and maybe Barack Obama is that man? Someone who can cut through all the crap and actually inspire people to bring about real change in the world? As bitter and cynical about world politics as I am, I could use a fix of that right now.

And that brings me to the main event of this post - the thoughts and reasonings of a man who worked as a volunteer on the Obama campaign. What the hell drove Scott Barman, a coin collecting 40-something guy from Washington DC to say, 'You know what, this Obama character looks the real deal and I'm gonna help him to get elected as the next President of the USA'. What indeed, read on...

Next stop, 'HOPE' - Scott Barman

Where did we go right? What made us do it? What happened after eight years of a president whose popularity is the lowest since the 1970s, what made a country with years of racial and cultural divides elect someone other than a white man as president?


We hope that this man with a funny name and does not look like the presidents on the dollar bills will be as cool and calm under fire as he showed during this grueling campaign to lead the United States back from our last eight years.

It is that hope and watching him deflect the attacks against him that prompted me, a middle-aged white guy born in New York living in the Washington, DC-area to support this man.

I have always been a political junkie. Aside from reading as many newspapers as I could acquire, I would watch the Sunday morning talk shows as religiously as some watch entertainment television. But up until now, I had not become involved in the election process. I had never donated money to a campaign. Sure, I attended city and county council meetings, I wrote to legislators, and signed petitions. I also volunteer to help cancer-related charities in their lobbying efforts to ensure funding for related healthcare and research. But I never worked with a campaign.

After having knee surgery on an arthritic knee, I was contacted by a phone bank worker in the Obama for President office in Bethesda, Maryland. Since I had donated money, I was on "the list." The woman was very nice to me and asked if I could help with my time. Since I am still recovering from my surgery, she suggested that I come into the office and call others. I agreed.

My first day on this job was the Saturday after the second debate. I was brought to a computer, logged in to a secure website, handed a script, and started calling. I personalized the script a bit, added more of my personality, made it sound more exciting, and I called other Obama supporters.

I never asked for money. I asked for help. I asked if they would join groups of people who would knock on doors in Northern Virginia, just over the border, to gain additional support. That was important since Virginia is a battleground state and the more votes the better the chance that Obama could win the electoral votes from a traditional Republican state.

If the person at the other end of the phone was physically challenged or were afraid to do the canvassing, they could volunteer to call others, like I was doing. With very limited exceptions, the people I spoke with that day were excited to hear from me. Even though I signed up only one person, it was infectious. So I volunteered again.

As the election approached, the script changed and the calling region widened. First, I was calling people in Northern Virginia asking if they could canvas in other parts of the state. I made arrangements for dozens of people to meet other Obama supporters in targeted areas of Virginia so they could knock on doors to spread the word. Then it was other states. I called quite a few people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and Florida asking for support.

I missed the final weekend of calling to pick up a new puppy (see http://coinsblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/new-acquisition.html), but on Monday, the calls were to all over the country reminding people to vote. No more volunteering was necessary. We just wanted to remind people to vote. After the previous two election and the dirty tricks by the Republican Party, the only way to combat that was to win decisively.

Most of us were confidently nervous. Confidence came from the polls showing Obama winning. Nervous because we remember the polls showing John Kerry winning before the 2004 election and what happened in 2000.

But the trends in the polls were in Obama's favor and all we could do was let the process continue.

I attended a private election party on the big night. We watched as the results were being announced. Results were announced slowly. As the polls closed in each state, both candidates were "holding serve", winning the states they expected to win. Then came Indiana, analyzing the county-by-county count and showing how Obama was doing well.

Pennsylvania went to Obama, which was expected, but it was announced that Virginia was leaning to Obama. So was Florida, which was not expected. Then it was very close in North Carolina--too close to call.

The Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota were called for Obama and the excitement started to build. With Pennsylvania and Ohio going to Obama, McCain had to run the table. We were optimistic but still nervous.

Obama captured New Mexico and Colorado during the ten o'clock hour.
Indiana was trending to Obama. Virginia and North Carolina was too close to call. Florida is... well... Florida as it was announced there were problems in the southeastern part of the state.

It was 11 PM, the polls closed on the west coast. California, Oregon, and Washington represent 73 electoral votes. With 270 needed to win, Obama was projected to already have over 200 at the top of the hour. But it wasn't over until the electoral counter eclipsed 270 votes.

The announcement came: "NBC News projects that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States."

As the picture on the television switched to Grant Park in Chicago, the scene of violent protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, it was a sea of jubilation.

Ten minutes later, the Commonwealth of Virginia was called for Obama.
For those of us who worked the phones and those who went door-to-door campaigning, it was a satisfying victory.

Our party broke up at 11:30. While we wanted to celebrate, it was time for sleep so we could return to our jobs in the morning.

It was a great experience. I do not know if I would do it again, but I thought it was necessary for this candidate and for this election.

President-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated on January 20, 2009.
I cannot wait!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Inside the Obama camp

Be sure and listen to a live interview at 7.15am tomorrow morning with Obama campaign headquarters volunteer and avid coin collector, Scott Barman from Washington DC.

Scott is soon to provide a campaign blog for The Perth Files, but in the meantime I've arranged for him to speak with the presenter of 720 ABC Saturday Breakfast, James Lush, to discuss what the campaign and - ultimately - the sweet taste of victory was like for someone on the inside.

Remember to share your comments about what Obama's victory means to you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Can we fix it America?

UPDATE: please leave a brief comment telling me what you felt when Obama took to the the stage to accept victory - and pass this link on to your friends to do the same!

YES THEY CAN!!! There was a touch of the Bob the Builders about Barack Obama's victory speech today and lord knows, he's going to need all the help he can get with the grizzled shell of a country he's been handed the reigns to lead.

I'll never forget the fact that I heard the speech while sitting in my car in the rain eating hot chips and gravy... hell, an event like this screamed out for comfort food.

Now that Dubbya's been told not to let the door hit him on the arse on the way out and John McCain can lay off the Red Bull, might we see another era of sanity prevail in the US?

I got the fear today when I heard an interview with Sarah Palin as she exited a polling booth and refused to say who she voted for... 'That's the neat thing about this country'.

Just have a good look at this video of the Hockey Mom and ask yourself just how safe the world would have been with this halfwit in charge?

But Barack Obama, can he fix it?
Barack Obama, oh yes, it appears he can.

Was it just me, or did this election result have a far more profound impact than anything that has happened in world politics in the past 50 years? How many of you shed a tear? How many kissed and hugged your partners and kids? Fired off text messages or twittered through the whole process?

Where were you when Obama strode on stage to accept victory and what was your reaction?