Monday, June 30, 2008

Religion, sexuality and human rights

Current justice of the High Court, Michael Kirby, will be giving a speech tonight at Melbourne University discussing religious condemnation of homosexuality and its impact on human rights. An edited version of his speech was reproduced in The Age today. Given the conversation I had with the Pakistani guy on the weekend, I think the message in the speech is rather timely. As Kirby cogently reminds his readers:

"Most of the world's great religions are founded, ultimately, on simple principles of loving God and one another. It is from those principles that religious tolerance derives."

Kirby also makes this observation:

"The Holy Koran does not prescribe compulsory adherence to Islamic beliefs. On the contrary, it states that "there is no compulsion in religion". God alone has the right to punish those who do not adhere to Islam or who turn their backs on its beliefs."

As for the Bible:

"The Nobel laureate and religious leader Desmond Tutu...declared his acceptance of the authority of Scripture as the word of God. But he has not forgotten that the Bible had been used to justify racism, slavery and the humiliation of women. He declared: "I could not stand by whilst people were being penalised again for something about which they could do nothing — their sexual orientation.""

Ken Lee

At the Mexican restaurant, our friend Katrina told us about this...

tzatziki, mexican, and karaoke

So the greek BBQ on Friday night was absolutely fantastic: great company and incredible food. I certainly don't regret the decision not to eat lunch that day... I was still full on Saturday morning. Nate and I ended up staying for lunch to help demolish the leftovers before heading back to the city for a much needed afternoon nap. We also wanted to keep an eye on Betty because her daughter, Kathy, had left on Saturday morning for a six week vacation to the USA and Europe.

Later in the evening, we went to South Yarra to meet some friends for Mexican food. The cuisine is not what I would describe as authentic but, rather, western stereotypes of what mexican food is all about. Still, I must say that it was probably the best Tex-mex I've ever had. The food aside, conversation at the table turned out to be a lot more interesting than I could possibly have imagined. One of Nate's friends had bought a date. He was a doctor from Pakistan who had just been in the country for 6 weeks or so and had met Nate's friend only the week before. Poor guy. He is dealing with a lot of internal conflicts at the moment....Muslim, gay and still in the closet. The issues are complex and I am not quite sure exactly what he will end up doing but I suspect that, in all likelihood, he will probably end up entering a straight relationship down the track, get married and have kids.

After the dinner, Nate and I headed off to karaoke in the city. His ex (and former housemate) was celebrating his 30th at the K-Box. It is not the typical karaoke establishment that I am accustomed to (i.e. pub). This was more the Asian style of karaoke (similar to one I had experienced in tokyo a couple of years ago)...much more private and discreet. We had a room to ourselves, away from strangers. This was just as well for although birthday boy had a fantastic voice, the rest of us sounded like alley cats in heat.

Sunday was a day of relaxation. Caught the tram late in the afternoon to Northcote to visit Nate's cousin who had just had a baby. Came home afterwards, made and ate some pizza, and then headed upstairs to bed to read. By 9pm, the lights were out and I was well and truly out of it. Perfect.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spit roast

The greeks have invited Nathan and I to dinner this evening. The last time we went to Betty's place, she made us the most fantastic dinner so I am really looking forward to the greek BBQ betty has promised to put on for us tonight. The fact that she has taken the day off work to get the dinner underway only raises my expectations! I've been told there will be a lamb on a spit. It's really a farewell party for one of her daughters who is heading off on an overseas trip. Kathy has recently gone through a rotten break up and she needs the holiday away but its pretty obvious Betty is going to miss her heaps. We are planning to spend the whole night eating so I'm going to try to resist the temptation of a heavy lunch. Michelle, Betty's youngest daughter, will be picking us up in the arvo from the city which means that I'll be knocking off early today. Yay! Packing my pjs and bringing my pillow for a long night of eating and fun!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Finally managed to convince my employer that I really needed an iMac for my work and that any lesser computer would be detrimental to my work and research productivity. Today the baby arrived...all 24 inches of it.

Fat but long lived

Only a few deays ago, Australians were told that we are the fattest nation on earth. Today, a report in the news says that our life-expectancy is the second highest in the world (only the Japanese live, on average, longer than us). What a revelation...fat but long lived. Pity our indigenous population though, whose average life expectancy is still 17 years less than the rest of us. Shameful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nasty surprises...

I got up this morning thinking that I would get into some routine house work done and was met by a most nasty surprise...MOULD, MOULD, MOULD!!!! Bloody mould and mildew everywhere! On the grout in between the bathroom tiles, on the window pane, on the carpet near the windows, on my bromeliad and, worst of all, spreading all over my tribal artifacts! Crap! Those sneaky little bastard spores ambushed me when I least expected them. So overwhelmed with dread and dispair that I seriously contemplated abandoning the apartment and crawling into a crack to die. After a few deep breaths, I decided that a more practical solution would be to gather my cleaning products and settle down into some serious scrubbing and cleaning and vacuuming (nate, quite conveniently, had to dash off to work). After cleaning, I headed to google for advice. No miracle cures though. I dont think I can refrain from ever cooking and showering again (evidently cooking, alone, transports 3 gallons of water into the air every day). Can't really do much about the fact that most of my apartment comprises glass either (sans double glazing which really contributes to the temperature differential and build up of condensation). I think the best thing I can do for now is get a dehumidifier. Today is not the day for buying and lugging electrical appliances. It is totally wet and gray outside. Perfect conditions for staying at home and watching the mould grow. Must ask mould-sensitive work colleague for advice on Monday (and maybe invest in some more bleach).

The things I cart home on the train.

Vehicleless and materialistic, I've carted a lot of weird/cumbersome objects back to my apartment via public transport. These include (but are not limited to) 5 rusty metal signs with painted numbers (the kind that servos use to advertise the price of petrol), a 2 m tall carved aboriginal sculpture of a mimih spirit, a giant letter 't' made out of perspex, and a grass tree. Last Friday, however, took the cake for the most bizarre thing I've ever transported home by train/tram: a huge New Guinea gable mask circa 1940s by a tribe of headhunters/cannibals from the mid-Sepik river. I got it from my favourite shop in Melbourne, Tarlo and Graham, on Chapple street. The sales lady discreetly wrapped the mask in a huge bed sheet which I dragged to Windsor station to wait for the train. I then had to haul it out of Flinders street station to board a tram back to the apartment. The bloody thing weighed an absolute tonne and I almost had it flying out of my arms when the tram driver braked suddenly somewhere near the Melb Aquarium. Eventually, I hauled it back to the apartment and my hands couldn't stop shaking from the weight (must get back to the gym). Next big decision...where the bloody hell am I going to put it? Nate doesn't want it anywhere in side the bedroom...evidently he finds it creepy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hee Hay...

My balcony chairs finally arrived this morning. It has taken me ages to find some outdoor chairs that I liked and were affordable. The "Hay" lounge chair was created by Danish-based designer, Hee Welling. The design was inspired by the slatted shelves from the inside of a refrigerator. Cool...

Be mine...

I really like this song despite the offensive-looking bed in the video clip.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

midweek dinner party

Had some greek friends over for dinner last night. Thought it would be nice to cook them lamb shanks. Three hours of stewing the night before certainly paid dividends (though I was starting o feel a little light headed from the alcohol burning off from the 3.5 litres of red wine that went into the pot. The shanks were tender and full of flavour. Am not normally a fan of slow feels like torture to me. When it comes to food and cooking, I fall into the "MUST EAT NOW" category.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The conversations we have to have...

So the weekend wasn't all about footy games and meat pies. My friend, P, was visiting from Canberra with his girlfriend and were staying over at my place. P counts as one of my closest friends. The friendship, however, is not an easy one. I regard myself as an optomist (I am definitely a glass-half-full kinda guy). P, on the other hand, has a tendency towards negativity and self-pity. As a result, our conversations can be quite heavy going sometimes. True...he has gone through some serious shit in the last few years (i.e. nasty break up with ex; an unrewarding job) but I also know people who have gone through far far worse (but with a much more positive outlook on things). Besides, even blind Freddy can see that P has actually got a lot to be happy and optomistic about (smart, great writer, awesome new girlfiend, lots of adoring friends). Yet, everytime we get together, the conversation invariably turns to all the bad things in his life. I know he wants me to be there to be sympathetic but I am also hesitant to reinforce the victim mentality because, quite frankly, he is not a victim. Far from it. Regardless, our get-togethers are often intense and draining, and by Sunday night, I was utterly and completely exhausted.

Footy fever (not)

Went to my first AFL game last Friday... North Melbourne versus Geelong. Thought it was high time to try to immerse myself in the spirit of what it means to be a Melburnian. And after seeing hoards of people streaming out of the Dome every weekend during footy season for the last 2.5 years, I guess I was curious to see what the fanatacism is all about.

Wow...what an eye opener. People are AFL crazy in this town and it's not just the blokes either. I was rather bemused to see little old ladies sitting on knitted cusions in their team colours. How bizarre. I, of course, was keen to engage in another footy tradition (stereotype)... at the start of the second half, I ducked out to the food outlet and bought myself a meat pie which I then proceeded to coat in tomato sauce. A jam doughnut followed, and I was satisfied. And, by the end of the game, so were my Geelong-supporting companions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Creepy crawlies

What motivates someone to declare their love (or is it lust?) to a complete stranger? I remember seeing a news story a few months ago about a guy in New York who had set up a website to try and track down some mystery girl he had seen on the subway. Nothing creepy about that right? Some might even say it's rather romantic. It did, after all, make international headlines and there was a lot of public interest when the guy finally caught up with his girl (who turned out to be an aussie). Sweet. But when does it all turn creepy? A friend of mine in the US woke up one evening to find a guy she knew standing outside her bedroom window. Fortunately, her dad (a military lawyer) managed to chase the guy down and put an end to his voyeuristic behaviour. More recently, a friend who catches the same train to work was telling me about an email he received from a secret admirer declaring their lust for him. Turns out that the secret admirer had been to a seminar that my friend had given. Flattering....but also a little scary.