Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Rise of the Angry Bogan Traveller

I like to think that I'm a pretty good traveller. Okay, I could pack lighter and be a little less anal about a few things like hotel cleanliness and personal security, but on the whole, I'm pretty good. You find me somewhere in the middle of the plane queue, book and passport in hand, Fisherman's Friends in my pocket greeting the cabin crew with a smile. I'm not carting three pieces of hand luggage to avoid check in costs. I'm not pissed. I don't have every bit of travel paraphernalia known to man in my grips.

I'm the pleasant traveller and I intend to keep it that way.

This trip, I've seen another side to travel. The Angry Bogan Traveller.

It's not pretty.  

See, my flight to Bali was been cancelled due to engineering issues last night and postponed the flight to today. Disappointing, but not the end of the world. Rather be on the ground alive than in a plane that falls out of the sky.

Yesterday after a lovely lunch with a friend, I made my way to the airport, checked in, went through immigration and customs, did some duty free shopping and made my way to the Qantas Lounge. Here I poured myself a G&T and a Bloody Mary (Free booze, why not, the tomato juice is all about electrolytes which counteracts the alcohol). Setting up in a quiet part of the lounge, I wrote a blog post, read my book and relaxed. It was lovely. By 5 pm, it was apparent that things weren't going to plan, and by 6.30, an hour after the flight was supposed to be gone, things weren't looking good.

In the lounge, a woman asked me if I was on my way to Bali as well. Indeed, I was. She told me to get myself another Bloody Mary and chill, we might have some news soon. She'd just checked with the desk. She was on the 5.35 to Denpasar as well.

I think I counted two G&Ts and three Bloody Marys under my belt by the time we were told that the flight was cancelled. Nicely chilled but not too far gone. My Qantas lounge companions, Paul and Zara, a couple from Byron Bay, came with me to the gate. This is where we first encountered the angry bogans.

My view on cancelled flights is this. I'd rather be on the ground than on a plane that's falling out of the sky. The airline fulfilled their commitments by putting me up and feeding me for the night. I'll claim a night's accommodation in Bali on my travel insurance. The rest, well, shit happens.

I'm more miffed that I didn't get an extra Qantas Club pass and now I'm writing this from a cafe with the general rabble (did find a power outlet however so I can watch movies on the way up to Denpasar). I'm also annoyed that I won't get to Sound Healing at the Yoga Barn tonight.

But as I said, shit happens. First world problems. Build a bridge and get over it. Can't change what's going on.

The Qantas Lounge was a godsend. Quiet, serene, filled with lovely gin and abundant power outlets for you laptop and phone to juice up from. We missed having to sit with the bogans at the gate pondering the tattoo choices of the great unwashed while waiting for the plane.

In defense of some of the bogan's behaviour, the intial communication was pretty crap last night. I will be writing to Jetstar about this as nobody appeared to know what was going on for a long time. There were a couple of men yelling at the desk staff. Like what were they supposed to do?

Paul, Zara and I gathered a few more 'normal' looking people, trying to work out what was going on. I volunteered to ask at the desk. When I got there, the girl looked stressed and scared.

"It's okay, I'm not angry. Just trying to work out what's going on. I'm too munged out on Qantas free gin to mind anyway."

The girl slumped her shoulders and thanked me for being nice before explaining that Jetstar would put us up for the night, provide hotel transfers, meals and the like. They were going to take us through customs and immigration and sort us out at the other end.

I took this information back to to the group. All was fine.

An hour later, bag in hand, through immigration, the group waited around, not a Jetstar representative in sight. This was the failing of the company, indeed. Nobody knew where to go or what to do.

Again, the angry bogans started up again. One guy was yelling at us to storm the Jetstar office the next day. Another fellow was taking photos of everybody and everything. The Federal Police Officers who cruise the airport asked him to stop, when he didn't they took his details. And fair enough. He was acting like a complete dick.

In the end, the group of us, with the help of the Feds, got a Jetstar rep  to come up. According to him, they were organising rooms for us and the flight would go tomorrow. The bogans kept up with the shouting. They wanted compensation. They wanted action. They wanted food.

Like shut up already!

Rather than shouting, I stayed in line, spoke to the girl at the desk who arranged my room and thanked me for my understanding. The security guard thanked me too, just for being pleasant and accomodating.

I find it strange that people don't treat service staff with a modicum of respect. Like what is a person on the ground supposed to do? They don't have a magic wand that will make the flight go.

Yes, it was 10 pm before I was dropped off at the Stanford Plaza hotel with my new travelling companions Piet and Cori from Rotterdam (got to play translator for them. Australians talk fast you know.) The room service club sandwich dinner was more than fine, the room more than comfortable.

Checking in this afternoon was a non-event. I spoke to the supervisor to ask if I could put my big bag through - we were both trying to dodge the angry bogans who were still shouting at the girl on the desk demanding compensation.

The woman who checked me in was great. The litre bottle of Tanqueray 10 purchased yesterday had to be stowed in my luggage. I'm in the same seat as yesterday. They've waved the fact my bag is now a kilogram over the weight limit no worries at all.

I passed the angry bogans again. The desk supervisor called me over.

"Ask this lady how badly you've been treated." she told them.
The bogans looked at me, somewhat perplexed.
"Did you get a room for the night?" I asked them.
"Your meals were paid for?" I asked.
"Well, yes."
"Okay, the communication was crap last night and I'll be writing to Jetstar about it cos it was a shambles."
"The guy who drove the bus damaged my bag." One woman wailed.
"They made us wait two hours without telling us anything." moaned another.
"I have a wedding to get to tomorrow." said another.

I thought about this.

"Okay, you'll get to your wedding. They made us wait two hours - so what, we're on holiday. As for your bag, claim it on your travel insurance. I'll be claiming a night's accommodation in Bali on my insurance. That's what you have it for."

The woman looked sheepish.

"You do have travel insurance?" I asked her.
"Well..." she shrugged.
"The way I see it, if you don't have travel insurance, that's you're own fault. Stop trying to blame others for your own fucking stupidity. If you can't afford travel insurance you can't afford to travel. Simple. " With that I walked off to the customs desk.

It's really unfortunate that I had to witness the "Ugly Australian Traveller" in full flight. Stuff does happen that's out of your control. Flights get delayed and cancelled, but on the whole, you're compensated somewhat. It's not like we're flying Tiger Airlines where you get next to nothing back, no assistance, nothing for cancelled or delayed flights.

I found an apology letter and a $25 voucher from Jetstar in my email inbox this morning. I'm fine with that. It's a budget carrier, it's better than nothing. A gesture of good will. The night at the Stanford Grand, dinner and breakfast was enough for me anyway. Other than the lack of communication last night, I've got no issue with them.

Our charming government is on about the fact that the age of entitlement is over. Bless them.

Maybe somebody should explain to the angry bogan travellers that the a little bit of civility, patience and commonsense will make life better for everybody. That, and you're certainly not entitled to anything if you don't have travel insurance when you go overseas. Also, if you treat ground staff like your personal flogging post, you again lose all entitlements to be treated with respect. I have a feeling, just for being pleasant and understanding to the girl at the desk I was offered a nicer hotel room. I noticed that none of the angry bogans were staying where I was stayed.

Okay, rant over. I have a plane to catch.

Passport, check. Wallet, check. Phone and iPad juiced up, check. Gin and tonic, drained (just one - no free Qantas booze today).

Right, let's see if I can get on this plane and get to my own patch of paradise tonight.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The A-Z Alphabet Movie Meme

This meme is courtesy of the Plastic Mancunian.

I'm stuck waiting for a plane, delayed on my way to Bali though "engineering difficulties."

So, when stuck with little but to drink gin and wait, a meme I will do. The Plastic Mancunian and I have completely different tastes, but he writes a bloody good meme.

So here we go - I have two hours to kill and Qantas food to eat and Qantas booze to drink. I've set up my office in the Qantas Club lounge. I'm a bit blessed really.

So here we go.

A is for Anticipated Movie for 2014

I'm looking forward to the new George Clooney film, The Monuments Men. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, art and Nazis. What more could you want in a film?

B is for Book Adaptation I'd like to see

Hmm, a hard one as films tend to butcher books - Atonement being a notable exception. I am still to see them adapt Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". I've cast this film many times with friends. Had a young Philip Seymour Hoffman down to play Bunny, Cate Blanchett as Camilla, John Cusack as Richard - but no, seems the rights are well elusive for that one.

Still not daring to see The Book Thief on the big screen as I don't want it to spoil the experience of the book. Same with Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

C is for Celebrity I'd like to meet

Other than Clive Owen? There are a few. George Clooney and Matt Damon seem like nice men who have their heads screwed on properly.

D is for Dream director / Actor pairing

Oh, this is a hard one, but I reckon I'd go Baz Luhrmann with Tom Hiddleston. See what he could do with that one. Hiddleston, a great stage actor is a bit of a triple threat. Love to see what our Baz could do with his dancing talents. Who knew an Englishman could dance that well?

E is for Essential Classic Movie

Would have to be Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" or "Rear Window". I love Hitchcock, but raised on these on Sunday afternoons, just wonderful. Rear Window is nearly perfect. North by Northwest just pips it.

F is for Favourite Film Franchise

The short answer is Krzystof Kieslowski's "Three Colours" Trilogy.  However, as I'm not sure that's a franchise in the Hollywood sense, so I will say I'm fond of the Indiana Jones set of films - and the Matrix films are not too bad.

G is for Genre I most watch

Somewhere between drama, comedy and art house is where you'll find me.

H is for Hidden Gem

I have two films on this list. "Barney's Version", starring Paul Giamatti was just delightful.

Another film that nobody's heard of but I rave about is Zach Braff's "Garden State". Both are unexpected, wise, funny, sweet and just adorable. Great films. Cried for hours after watching "Barney's Version."

The latest "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was something everybody should see too.

I is for Important Moment in my Film Life

1989 - I discovered alternative cinema and the Adelaide Film Festival. The first film I saw was Peter Greenaway's "Drowning by Numbers". A classic. Have loved non-mainstream cinema ever since.

J is for Just right for a rainy day

My list of rainy day films that get put on without thought:

Almost Famous
Bull Durham
Pitch Perfect
Gosford Park

Any one of these I will plonk myself in front of and stay in front of. All fabulous in their own ways.

K is for Kiddie Movie I shamelessly enjoy

Does The Princess Bride Count?

Of modern cinema, I have to say that "Monsters Inc" is a near perfect kids film. I have memories of my friend Sam after a night out and she had a huge hangover. She stayed in my spare room for the night. Glued to the telly, I had to provide coffee and vegemite toast - but she was not moving until it was over. Wonderful film.

L is for Location I'd like to visit

Dreadful film, great location - "Angels and Demons" - would love to go through the Vatican Libraries and get to know Rome better one day. I have a thing for European cities, so "Midnight in Paris" also good. I'm sitting here writing this on the way to Ubud, Indonesia, the last location in the "Eat, Pray, Love" film/book. Love it up there.

M is for movie I know by heart

There are a few of them, but as I discovered a few weeks ago, I can go "Bull Durham" line for line.

The Princess Bride comes a close second.

N is for Nexflix movie I've watched.

I'm Australian. We don't have Netflix. I've seen the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards", but no films to date.

O is for One movie I've watched more than once

Nerd alert - I saw Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" at the cinema eight times. Just drank up the English Accents. Love this film.

It's not unknown for me to see films two or three times.

P is for Preferred Place to watch a movie

As much as I love going to see a film Gold Class, I really like old picture theatres. Went to the Astor a few months ago - its a place where if you time it right you get to hear the Wurlizer organ play. The Rivoli cinema in Camberwell is great too - not too many bogans around and lots of art house to take in.

Q is for Quote that inspires me

From "The Princess Bride", there are many great quotes, by my favourite is from the Man in Black.

"Life is pain, Princess. Anybody who is saying differently is selling something."  Never a truer word.

R is for Remakes: Friend or Foe

Generally foe. There are very few remakes I can recommend, though Walter Mitty is not a remake, but a great adaptation of an old film. Some of the Spiderman and Superman films have been pretty good. Hard to think that we're running out of stories.

"The Philadelphia Story" and "High Society" are a good example of how to do a good remake.

The American version of "Death at a Funeral" a good example of how not to do it. Why screw with perfection?

S is for Snack I most enjoy

I'm partial to a boysenberry choc top at the cinema, though I love the gourmet flavoured ones you get at the independent cinemas more.

T is for Twist that blows my mind

Three come to mind. For those who have not seen "The Japanese Story" do so. Magnificent film, and I never, ever saw that twist coming.

Secondly, if you haven't seen "The Crying Game" get it on video. Brilliant. Great twist as well, though it would come over as dated now I reckon.

Thirdly, there is this Argentinian film, "The Secret in their Eyes". Magnificent.

Not giving any of these twists away.

U is for Unapologetic Fan of...

Ummm, Steve Carell. Not supposed to like him, in lots of gross out films, but I think he's fantastic, especially in straight roles. He makes me laugh, cry and think.

But I shouldn't like him. Just for "Anchorman" I shouldn't like him.

V is for Very Excited about Award season

Not really, but there are some great films about the place. Must see "Dallas Buyers Club
" and "12 Years a Slave" when I get back from Bali.

W is for Wish I had never watched

"Seven" gave me nightmares for a week, nasty nightmares. I spent most of the film with my head in my friends shoulder.

I walked out on "Sin City" - I found it dreadful.

I'm a bit sensitive to psychological violence.

X is for XXX movie watched at a young age

I missed out on all the "lets watch a porno" mates, so I've never seen anything more than a few snippets of true porn. I wonder if Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shit" sorry, "Eyes Wide Shut" counts.

Watching other people have sex doesn't float my boat.

Y is for Your Lastest Movie Related Obsession

Other than the Philip Seymour Hoffman back catelogue (I mourn the films he didn't get to make) nothing comes to mind.

See, on television, I'd be telling you about my "Breaking Bad" obsession.

Z is for ZZZ Catcher

Action bores the tits off me. I fell asleep in "Mr and Mrs Smith". I fall asleep in action a lot.

So there you go. I think my plane is going to board soon. this has given me something to do for the last few hours.

Please steal this meme - and let me and The Plastic Mancunian know about it. Love hearing about other people's film foibles.

Right, Bali here I come.


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Return of Pandora Behr

I don't want to explain why I haven't been blogging. I could, but I'm not going to.

The last six weeks have been a bit interesting. I will say, if I go a fortnight without blogging again, please send the cops or a counselor round to to check on me, I go a bit nuts when I don't write about my life.

Anyway, where I am at the moment.

1. Officially between jobs

My contract at the large supermarket chain ended on Friday. This is a good thing, but it was a good role. It had it's challenges, but I leave the place with friends and some good people to keep in touch with.

2. Officially, I'm on holiday

Heading off to Bali tomorrow morning for nearly three weeks. I'm off back to the same places I went last year. Rather happy about this. After eleven months with little or no break, it's the first time in a long time I've really felt as if I NEED a holiday.

3. Looking forward to doing some of my own writing for a change

A friend, Mannie, from the gym has loaned me her netbook - so I have no excuse. Time to get writing. Writing for me. Yay.

4. Did I say that I was heading off to Bali for 2.5 weeks tomorrow?

5 I've worked out that I can do crowds that flow.

Jay suggested that I go along to the White Night Festival last night. I'm not one for crowds at the best of times, but something said go along. We only spend a bit over two hours at the festival and stayed around the top end of town. We went into the Old Melbourne Jail at night - horridly creepy. We looked on as people stood under manufactured rain under purple lights and had the seminal Prince song playing. It was quite cool. We went into the dome of the State Library and watched 3D projections of virus strains get zapped around the walls. Best of all, at the RMIT, a display of old Mushroom records nostalgia. Jay is a little older than me but we knew a lot of the bands - we'd seen a lot of them in the day - Skyhooks (who played at Jay's year ten formal) The Hoodoo Gurus, Split Ends... the list went on. That was brilliant. for details.

6. Oh, and in Bali, I'll be doing lots of yoga, swimming and drinking duty free gin. Never a bad thing.

7. I'm still horrified at our current government.

Nothing new there.

8. I've been to Adelaide and I took Jonella.

Jonella survived - just. She's worked out that my family are all as barking mad as I am, but despite the fact that they live in Adelaide, they're actually okay. We stayed with my uncle at Victor Harbor. He's the definition of a gentleman. It was nice to spend time with the lot of them, even if they do call me Pandy.

9. I love that in the next few days, the biggest decision I have to make is what duty free gin to by.

Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks or Tanqueray 10.... a hard one.

10. I had a great dream about my cousin, the Anglican Priest and a very large, muscular black man, who I had my arms around and I was playing with this chest hair. Took this one to dream group. Very glad I was not playing with my cousin, the Anglican Priest's chest hair - like that would be wrong.

11. I'm starting to manifest my next role.

Looking like this at the moment - great people, good money, interesting and challenging, but not overly so, in the city (this schlepping out the the burbs isn't for me) something new and something that might be a bit longer term. That is what I would like. We have some more to manifest.

12. Slap the Trainer is going to miss me

Beneath the bald head and the occasionally narky attitude, Slap the Trainer is a really lovely man. I made him a birthday cake earlier in the month. Lemon polenta cake - his favorite. He was also given the instructions not to eat it all at once as it had 80 grams of butter in it, not that he took notice of this.

At training on Thursday, instead of the normal fist knock we all get at the start of the class, I got an awkward hug.

He's gonna miss me while I'm gone these three weeks.

13. Looking forward to another showing of Rocky Horror

I'm going to admit to a guilty secret. I'm rather fond of Craig McLachlan. When he was bogan Henry in Neighbours, wouldn't look at him sideways. Now he's Dr Blake, like PHWOAR.
See the difference?
No thanks - killer mullet

but now
Please can I have your babies...

Okay I'm a sucker for short back and sides, clean cut, suited and flawed. As Dr Blake, he's all of these, I'm just a bit smitten.

Even better, in this new production of Rocky Horror, Dr Blake is playing Frankenfurter.

Dr Blake in spendies - who knew! Can't wait.

14. Did I mention I'm going to Bali.

Must get to bed, but I promise I'll be writing more in the future.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Questions Left Unasked

Other than the fact that I've been staring at screen for 8-10 hours a day for the the last few weeks and I've had precious little time to scratch myself, let along write. Add to this a lot of stupidly hot weather, it hasn't been a good time for writing.

I apologise for not being around too much.

Other than work, planning a holiday and going to the gym, I've been getting angry.

I'm a bit over out gutless mainstream media. Over it. Puerile, soft, gutless and irresponsible. Especially around politics. So I've been thinking of questions I'd like to ask. I compile a lot of lists, I'm a Virgo variant - lists are my thing.

One thing I've been doing in a little notebook is compiling a list of questions to our current Prime Minister.

Not that he can answer a question directly, not without a script, but I've been thinking about what I would love some good journalists to ask him, without fear of reprisals, for it appears that this is what life is like for journalists interviewing pretty much any member of our cabinet at the moment. "Operational Matters" seems to be the catch phrase.

How about "We're doing some really crap stuff, but we're not going to own up to it." The four-year-old's standard response for misbehaving.

So, my questions for our Prime Minister. Be warned, unlike the super-friendly, rollover for money Shock Jocks or the seriously tamed down Leigh Sales, I would have none of it. Goad him like Lisa Wilkinson I say (who appears to not be allowed to interview him after this effort - they pass him to the simpering Karl Stefanovic, who shot to fame interviewing Grumpy Cat. - Tell me which would you prefer?

Lisa going for the throat? (They've taken down the interview where she tears strips off him over asylum seekers. He looked like more of a dick than normal in that interview.)

Or Karl having more luck with Grumpy Cat?

Seriously, this is what Australian journalism has come to?

Mind you, ask a serious question and you get shot down as the Guardian's Bridie Jabour found out.

Personally, I think the more we hold ALL of our politicians firmly to account at all times.

So here are my questions. Maybe I should submit a few to Q&A.

1. How much botox have you had in the last year?

2. When you're finally convicted of crimes against humanity and/or treason, who do you want to share your cell with? Scott Morrison or Christopher Pyne?

3. If 97 doctors told you that you had cancer, and three said you didn't which set of doctors would you believe? If this is the case, why are you reticent to put your faith in climate science?

4. When the last fruit tree is ploughed into the ground in the Riverina, what do you expect the farmers to do for a living?

5. Hypothetical - and this is purely hypothetical as I wish this on nobody. If one of your daughters was to be raped and then fall pregnant, what would you expect her to do? Abort, adopt or keep the baby?

6. Who is going to save Nemo now that you've fucked over the Great Barrier Reef well and good?

7. When are you going to get some elocution lessons?

8. When are we going to get a Minister for Science - a proper one?

9. When are you going to send Julie Bishop to diplomacy school?

10. When are you going to replace the Union Jack on the Australian Flag with the Swastika?

11. How come you'll give money for tourism in a marginal seat that ultimately will lead to obesity and diabetes, but not support and Australian industry that employs thousands and promotes healthy foods?

12. When are you going to find an Environment Minister that believe that the environment is worth saving?

13. What does an octogenarian's penis taste like?

14. Why are you hell bent on keeping 90% of the population stupid?

15. You claim to be the "Infrastructure Prime Minister." A national broadband network with fast speeds to the bulk of the country is infrastructure. Why can't you see this, or are you that much of a luddite that your Telstra dial up is still doing you well?

16. What is Christopher Pyne still the Education Minister when he clearly has no interest in education? At all? Three years in opposition in the shadow role. Two questions. NOT GOOD ENOUGH! After the Gonski fuck up he should have been sacked immediately.

17. Why have you not completely distanced yourself from Cory Bernardi, or is there any truth in the rumour that you ghost wrote his book?

18. When are you going to send Bronwyn Bishop to Speaker School where she can learn about being fair and balanced.

19. In criticizing the ABC for having a left-wing bias, is this bringing back memories of school yard bullying where the smart kids ganged up on you and you tried to get them to apologise after you stole their lunch money?

20. Why can you direct millions of dollars to sporting grounds but not spare funds for legal aid for indigenous people? Can't sporting clubs, like chocolate factories pay their own way?

21. Once all the coal has gone, the reef turned to mush, the Tasmanian forest floor boards in yuppie flats and Rupert and Gina are dead and buried, what is going to happen to Australia then? Will they be calling each other on their copper connections to whine about the three-month-long 50 degree summers in Adelaide?

22. What does it feel like to be responsible for dragging Australia's name through the mud on the international stage?

23. As an economic migrant yourself, when are you going to fuck off back to where you came from?

24. Of the situation in Sri Lanka, you said of torture something along the lines that "extraordinary things happen in hard times." (Sorry, can't remember the exact quote.) Please explain how any form of torture is acceptable at any time? And why did we give a nation that tortures it's citizens fishing boats to reign in their people?

25. Are you and Margie still together? She hasn't been seen by your side in a very long time.

26. When you are gone, are you, like your predecessor John Howard, going to stay the hell away from us? (Thank goodness that happened)

27. Have you paid back the 100K or so you spent on swanning round the country doing triathlons? Public record puts it at about that amount? You said that the age of entitlement is over - why should we pay for you to swan about in lycra and ride your bike around the country.

28. When are you going to ask Joe Hockey to have his lap band removed? He was a lot nicer before he had the operation.

29. When are we going to get a proper Minister for Women? Sorry, but you don't cut the mustard.

30. What part of the separation of Church and State written into our laws in ambiguous to you.

31. Why, in your eyes, can't their be faith and science, cohabiting in the same world? Did you have a particularly heinous chemistry teacher in year 11 or something that put you off? (I know I had this yeti impersonator for year 11 physics. I failed the subject, but still respect its use as a science.)

32. If Mary and Joseph were to arrive in Australia on a leaky Indonesian fishing boat, where would you send them? Who in the nativity would you be? The Narky inkeeper? Herod? Please enlighten us.

33. The Bible is a book that was originally written in Latin and Aramaic and translated hundreds of times over the years. Like Chinese Whispers, don't you think you might have lost a bit in translation when it comes to being honest, fair and kind. I'm sure the Bible has things to say on this.

34. Why, like it seems a lot of conservative middle aged men, do you feel the need to tell women what to do with their bodies?

35. When are you going away and staying away?

Okay, spleen vented. If anybody gets a straight answer to any of these questions, please let me know.

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
Henry David Thoreau