JustClik News and Blogs

Views, news and features about the Goulburn Valley. Showcasing a variety of local writers and their views.

A Voice in the Wilderness

A Voice in the Wilderness

In the tradition of the great Charles Dickens, I present to you a tale of two television shows.
I'm watching The Voice Australia season 5, and although I am well versed in the ways of modern television vis-a-vis self promotion and cross promotion, I still find it irritating to have to endure the 'coming up after the break' previews, and the 'before the break' reviews. At the beginning of the show, there's a recap and a preview and then a review and a preview at the end of the show. It's hugely repetitive, and for people like me who watch it all rather than dipping in and out, it's maddening. In my opinion, it minimizes a lot of the potential drama, and diminishes interest and excitement.
Classic case this week. All the advertising for the upcoming blind auditions on The Voice featured a dramatic moment when a singer collapsed on stage. Every single promo, both during the program and between episodes, showed her falling down. I had seen her fall down 47 times before I actually saw her full audition. There was no shock or surprise, no drama at all really. Had I seen it not knowing what was coming I would have been stunned, as were the coaches and the live audience, but I was only relieved that I would not have to see it anymore. Not for a while anyway.
I was reminded of a time I was watching The Footy Show (NRL). They held an arm wrestling competition which featured some current and ex players. Ben Ross and Wendell Sailor met in the final, and during the struggle, on live television, Sailor broke Ross's arm. The audience fell silent, horrified, as were the show's hosts and the television audience. Producers quickly cut to a break. I could not believe my eyes.
No one knew that was going to happen. It was an incredible and horrific moment. I've seen the accident a number of times since, and each time it has less impact, as was the situation with the Iranian singer who collapsed. I was ready for it, and she was perfectly fine not long after her fall, which I knew was the case as well because if she wasn't, we would have heard about it. The event was pre-recorded and as I said, I had seen her crumple on to the stage 47 times already.
I think the way shows like The Voice is produced and presented to us as viewers, as consumers, says something quite poignant about us as people. What do you think?

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How Bitterness Can Haunt!

How Bitterness Can Haunt!

“Walking to the kitchen, I see Angus lurking in the darkness, floating, hovering like a ghost. I feel cold. I open the fridge and stare into the bright light without seeing anything. I’m not hungry. My appetite has been AWOL since Angus left.

I occasionally eat, albeit absently and in mouthfuls rather than meals. Now and then I become ravenous and eat greedily, but it makes me feel sick, and I have often had to vomit up the meal soon after consuming it. I know I’m shedding weight rapidly, but I am afraid to jump on the scales to measure my decline. I don’t need hard evidence.
Angus is a wraith who will haunt me to my grave.”
Lovesick chapter 32
Forgiveness can be difficult, but it is possible. It happens. People let go and free themselves of the burden of bitterness. However, forgetting is virtually impossible. Certain memories of people, places and events do not fade with time, no matter how much we wish they would. Sometimes, we are haunted because we cannot, perhaps do not want to, let go.

On other occasions, we may be victims of those who do not wish to let us go.
The word haunt is also used to refer to a lingering regret which follows us through life. I wish I had have done this or that. I wish I had not done that. If only…
In most cases we cannot change what we have done: the past inscribed in stone, bears witness to history and its offspring. We have to find some way to make peace with ourselves about the wrong things we have done, and the bad choices we have made. For some people this is easy; for others perhaps not so. The latter may be doomed to a stained, spoiled future.
Let go, my friends. Let go, and your ghosts will vanish into the ethereal mist form which they emerged.
Have you ever been haunted? Are you haunted?

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A Proper Kid!

A Proper Kid!

This is my mature me self-reflecting on the how things must be difficult for children and teens today — to be proper kids.

Maybe it's peer pressure? Certainly some of the challenges kids face are directly related to media focus on fame. What does Johnny want to be? These days it is common to hear a response such as I want to be famous. The traditional doctor, soldier, fireman, teacher, even astronaut answers can be lacking.

Rewind 40 years. I was playing footy in the streets in the Winter until dusk. When it was dark, it was time for dinner. In the Summer, we played cricket in the streets. And when we weren't playing sports we'd adventure into the local orchards and channels. Yabbying, swimming and just enjoying each other's company.

We kept safe; we looked after each other. Sure we were testing limits at times, but that is part of growing up.

We even built a clubhouse with a skull and crossbones flag, marked with letters G.R.O.G (Get Rid of Girls). Think "The Goonies" and you have the picture of my childhood.

These days it's a rarity to see kids playing in the streets. Digital screens seem to soak up a lot of their time. Smartphones, iPads, computers are all useful things — but seriously; some moderation, please.

Then there's the consumerism. A lot of kids, particularly teens, get sucked into the fairy floss of brands. I know teens who will not be seen dead in something from Target or Woolworths. It has to be a brand like Nike or Adidas.

No hand-me-downs, no St Vincent de Paul seconds and definitely no High street brands.

In my time, a pair of new Levis jeans, complete with zippered fob pocket was worthy of "show and tell."

Sadly, I'm beginning to paint a picture of "plastic" kids whose connection to the outdoor world is limited. This disconnect I believe is a dangerous thing. Yes I'm generalising and there are still the exceptions but most of the today's generation are soft.

My teen years were pretty straightforward too. Going to the record shop or the movie theatre was a real treat. Sport still kept me entertained when I wasn't studying. The structure and its simplicity to this day holds me in good stead.

Geelong Grammar has long had a school policy of encouraging some old-fashioned discipline in Year 9. Arriving at Timbertop, in the wilds near Mansfield, the teens are stripped of all technology and find themselves in a "sink or swim" environment. Chop their wood, cook their meals, clean up after themselves. Loads of extracurricular activities like bushcraft and survival skills. In a way, like a para-military style of training of our youth.

Talk to any ex-grammar student and they will say "Timbertop" was the best year. Kids need discipline and structure, they often just don't understand it's good for them.

Not every family can afford an "outward bound" style experience, but there are ways to encourage kids and teens to get outdoors. Sports and recreation in the fresh air are affordable ways to supplement their modern inclinations.

Volunteering is a good way for young people to learn from adults. I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a proper kid and his mum on the weekend. Without complaint, he spent the day helping his mum in a fundraising activity. He was like a sponge, soaking up as much as he could from the events and people around him.

A proper kid who is lucky enough to have a strong, good mum.




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The Ten Gallon Black Hat

The Ten Gallon Black Hat

Don't we all secretly love an anti-hero? — the tall figure in the Western movies who is bad, possibly dangerous, but you can't help but like the character.

I started thinking about this after watching a complicated, evil, twisted but charming character in a Marvel Daredevil episode.  The Punisher, a brutal combat-hardened soldier, takes revenge to a whole new level.

What makes us love the bad boys? Sometimes you catch yourself hoping the baddie will escape or will live on to fight another day. Is it their charm?  Think of McEnroe having a hissy-fit on the court.  We loved that!  It was alarming but still we loved it.  Wiley Coyote, despite his desperate attempts to catch and eat the Road Runner, is quite endearing.  He's not bad; he's just misunderstood!!!

Some of the not-so-obvious anti-heroes are often thought of as heroes.  James Bond for one. Holden Caulfield from "Catcher in the Rye," Prince Hamlet from "Hamlet," Harry Callaghan in "Dirty Harry," Michael Corleone in "The Godfather."  It's a massive list, just Google anti-heroes for more.

When you think of the Ten Gallon Black Hat types, you start to ponder what makes them so appealing.  There seems to be some truth to the "good girls love bad boys" concept.  But I believe this is true for actors seeking fulfilling roles.  Some of the best characters are the baddies.

Leonardo DeCaprio in "D'Jango Unchained" is charmingly evil.  De Niro in "Heat" is another example of a charming bad guy who meets a sticky end.

Throughout history, there have been monsters, men of pure evil who have been depicted on modern celluloid because we are fascinated by the dark side.  Vlad the Impaler, Ghengis Khan, Caesar, Hitler, Black Beard, Jesse James, Ned Kelly have collectively been depicted in film multiple times.  We seem to have a fascination with what motivates people who reside in the darkness.

The original Batman too must be the all-time most complex, tormented soul fighting for apparently the right reasons yet dispatching justice with extreme malice.

Hollywood loves the bad boys and girls. There's something more fascinating and endearing with Zorro compared to the Lone Ranger.  The man in black is infinitely more mysterious and often more complex. And without the baddies, wouldn't the storytelling be boring?



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Technology Shift — Paradigm Shift

Technology Shift — Paradigm Shift

My adulthood has been full of technology shifts.  The ebb and flow of constat technology updates bulletpoints my years.  Some for the better, some not so.

This topic came to mind when some kids I know asked about record players and vinyl records.  "What are those black things ... and how do they work?"

So let's rewind to the 1970s, when I was first getting into technology.  Concorde was zooming about the world during its first proving exercises.  But on a smaller level I had just replaced my grandfather's valve radio with a transistor radio.

The radio had become smaller but it was less sensitive than it's analogue cousin.  No longer could I drag in the Sydney station that i used to tune in to on the Radiola.

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