What constitutes a real memory?


What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time … After 40 years collecting dust, I stumbled on that line (from the 1972 hit song Troglodyte) in the cramped attic of my memories when I started to write this article. The association is obvious because today we’re going back in time to look at the influence of television programs on your memory.

I want you to rummage in your own dusty attic of curiosities to answer this question. Do not Google it. What is your favourite TV show of all time? Dada da-da-da dada – that’s thinking music. This show was your must-see show, the one you cancelled all appointments to watch. Now you would click record on your hard drive. Once you couldn’t miss the show. If anyone in the room had a heart attack during that show, they had to wait for your attention. Some things in life are sacred.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 3 APR 2013: What Constitutes a Real Memory?

A party for the ages

Picture 2Vote for SALPP, the Solve All Life’s Problems Party. Do you get distressed when you can’t remember which pin number belongs with which credit card? Do you get frustrated when you find yourself hovering in front of your kitchen bins unsure if the item you’re holding should go in the recycle or rubbish bin? Do you get really angry when your Wi-Fi drops out because you own a dodgy router? If you answered ”yes!” to any of these questions, then I have the political party for you.

Yes, indeedy. And if you get really irritated by people who mangle the English language by bastardising proper words to chortle ”indeedy” or sprout idiotic acronyms like ”LOL” then we can solve that problem for you, too. Yes! The SALP Party is a new force on the political scene. Just when you were too afraid to go back into the polling booth in case you screamed with rage at the mere sight of the major party candidates’ names or slumped into an instant boredom-induced coma and ended up in a chaotic tangle of polling booth cardboard, a new party has emerged to give you hope, faith and free stuff. Yes! We at the Solve All Life’s Problems Party, or SALPP, have policies designed just for you. Our motto is: SALPP is on the Way.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 20 Mar 2013: A party for the ages

10 reasons why, if you are sick, you should visit your Vet and not your local hospital

hospitalTwo members of the Cue household have just been through the medi-go-round. One came out dazed and bleeding, the other chirpy and bouncing. The tale begins with our little dog, Tuppence. She is 12 years old, which is 84ish in dog years. She has been hospitalised with pancreatitis, bladder stones and a cruciate ligament replacement. Now she has congestive heart disease and is on heart meds, but bouncing.

My beloved HRH (His Royal Hairiness) is pushing 10 dog years. He’s had two angioplasties, by-pass surgery and a stent. He’s suffered dizzy bouts or Transient Ischemic Attacks, which means ‘something’s wrong with your head, mate, but buggered if we know what it is’. They stopped. Last week he had a ‘little’ prostate op in a private hospital, supposedly, an overnighter. Something went horribly wrong. At 3am he started having fits. The fits became so violent he was likely to badly damage himself.

The private hospital didn’t have a doctor on duty at night.

The Canberra Times 30 Jan 2013. Read more here. Vet vs Hospital

When Life’s No Picinic

Illustration: Jenny Bowman

Illustration: Jenny Bowman

Idyllic summer days and leisurely family picnics go hand in glove like, um, hands in gloves.
When I was a youngster in the ’60s, however, a picnic with my family was more akin to throwing down the gauntlet to the fates.

Our father stood by the pink, open driver’s seat door of our old maroon FE Holden, snapping orders as we elbowed our way onto the clammy vinyl of the back seat. ”You sit there and look out that window. You sit there and don’t you touch him. Tuck your elbows in. I don’t want any carry-on during this trip or I’ll wring your bloody necks.” There we sat in our cotton shorts, T-shirts and plastic sandals, me, my three brothers and one other kid, with our bare legs clinging to the vinyl seat, waiting for our mother to turn up with the baby so the adventure could begin.

But our mother was always distracted by some last-minute fussing, as our father stood drumming his fingers on the roof of the Holden, calling out ”Kath, hurry up. We’ve got to get going.” When our mother finally arrived with food in a basket – there were sandwiches and fruit in the tartan metal Esky in the boot – our father planted his foot on the accelerator as she struggled to close the door. We were off on our adventure.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 8 Jan 2012: When Life’s No Picinic

In Search of an Aussie Hero

SkippyWhy do we Aussies get so carried away with the word ”hero”? On the one hand, any Aussie, who has won a garish plastic trophy or a middling beribboned medal in, say, the South Poowong Rugby League or the Synchronised Gargling at the Pub Pong Olympics, is a hero, a bloody hero, mate. We don’t care if he does drugs, takes bribes or wins Dickhead of the Day by running around naked with a lit firecracker up his bum; if he wins and gets away with it, he’s a hero, a bloody hero.

On the other hand, what with the droughts, the fires, the flooding rains and being girt by sea and all, we Aussies do need heroes and, thankfully, these men and women turn up at the worst of times and earn their pat on the back. So the job description for the occupation of Aussie Hero ranges from ”drunken yob” to ”risking your life for others”.

Meanwhile, if we had a Heroes Hall of Fame, you would hear the echo of your own footsteps as you walked down a hollow empty hall that boasted three inductees: Don Bradman, Phar Lap and Ned Kelly. Not one of them risked their life for the benefit of mankind or even saved a stray cat from up a gum tree, but they are heroes, mate. We respect our VC winners. But we don’t put them on a pedestal. Name one. So drunken yobs, dickheads, bushrangers, batsmen and a horse are our heroes.

Read more @ The Canberra Times: In Search of an Aussie Hero 

Goodbye Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam PicJulia says so. Politicians insist. Even former prime minister Paul ”you scumbags” Keating claims it’s time for Australia to embrace Asia.
Unfortunately, we’re a little stumped to know how to do this exactly, as so few of them seem to play football or cricket.

Top marks to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, of course. But China is a problem. If only China played cricket, we’d get on like a house on fire. Why can’t Indonesians play more tennis? Why can’t Filipinos play, say, lawn bowls? We Aussies aren’t that fussy. We’ll watch any sport.

Of course, there is a menacing hidden agenda in this Asia push. Before we can throw ourselves wholeheartedly at Asia, we’ll have to take one huge step for Aussie kind and give up the US. Giving up the US will have its plus side. There’ll be fewer wars. Really. Can you imagine Australia announcing all by itself ”Excuse me Iraq, we’re going to invade.”
As for Afghanistan, we can’t even spell it, let alone find it on a map.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 21 Nov 2012: Goodbye Uncle Sam

Labels are used to gag people

kml-art-charles-One of the funniest outraged letters I have ever received from a reader hinged on the meaning of one word. My article took a swipe at the royal family. The royals are open game for humourists because, firstly, they’re our favourite reality TV/sitcom on the tellie, a sort of ”Wife Swap Windsor” crossed with ”Snog, Marry, Reign” combo and, secondly, because readers don’t give a rats what you say about the wacky Windsors.

My article was riffing through the commonly held view that you have to kiss a lot of toads before you find your prince but included the caveat ”I’d rather kiss an ugly toad than kiss Prince Charles.” One sternly worded protest letter arrived under the letterhead of the Frog Appreciation Society insisting that ”toads aren’t ugly”.

The word ”ugly” may be a little prickly or fuzzy at the edges where we argue about its meaning, but most of us get it. We have a common view about its core meaning.

Words such as misogynist, feminist, racist, bleeding-heart, greenie and climate heretic, however, work in an entirely different way.

Read more @ The Canberra Times, 23 Oct 2012: Labels are used to gag people

The Joy of Colourful Families

Kerry Cue Ratbag RelationsAnyone who comes from a ”colourful” family will enjoy P.J. Hogan’s latest film Mental. It is, in Aussie slang, not everybody’s cup of tea. Mental is over-the-top, raw, crude and maddening. I thought it was hilarious.

Entertainment aside, the film acts as a sort of Uncle-Sam-ometer indicating how far we’ve come in adopting the American view of madness. I read books on madness. Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters looks at the way the US exported its biomedical view of mental illness that requires expensive drugs globally or, as I see it:

We’ve got pink pill

We’ve got green pills

We’ve got happy, happy little yellow ones

And they’re all called Just-Give-Me-Them

And they all taste just the same

(Sung to Little Boxes performed by Pete Seeger)

In the US, mass-marketing and madness go hand in hand. Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays opened the first PR firm in New York in the ’20s to sell soap and cigarettes. So the founding member of the Mad Men club was Freud’s nephew. Group therapy of the 1970s, based on theories of mad psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, were quickly adopted by marketing interests and turned into focus groups to sell more soap and cigarettes.

Read more @ The Canberra Times, 17 Oct 2012:The Joy of Colourful Families

Snip, Snip for the Longer Trip

NRl fightGentlemen, gather round. I have some good news. Everyone is worried about your health. You don’t get the longevity score on the board like us girls. But now they’ve finally found a group of men who live 17 years longer than the rest.

It’s such a simple thing, too. You don’t have to go all finicky and force those five pieces of fruit down your throat every day. You don’t have to throw away the remote control, pull on some hideous Lycra kit and get hot and sweaty. You don’t have to swear off the bottle, pick up a tambourine and renounce your former life of drunken debauchery or even moderate merriment. It’s brilliant, really. The study, recently cited in the New Scientist, found the group that, on average, lives 17 years longer than other men is eunuchs.

So I have to ask you, gentlemen, have you considered the neuter option? The government is always worried about men’s health. They’ve run all sorts of good health promotions in the past. You probably remember the slogans. We’ve had, ah, ”Life Be in It” and ”Slip Slop Slap”. I can just picture the slogan for the new campaign. ”Snip Snip for the Longer Trip”.

It would be so easy. If the government’s Snip Snip for the Longer Trip program was well subscribed, I can foresee a few minor technical difficulties. On the plus side, there’d be no more ears bitten off in NFL finals. The lads would run out onto the field and, probably, sit down and brush each other’s hair. And each team could have their own Vienna Boys Choir to sing at the grand final. On the down side, women would have to open their own jars and change their own flat tyres.

Read more @ The Canberra Times : Snip, Snip for the Longer Trip