Random Play by Graham Reid

Channel surfing

At last living up to this column’s title, here are some random thoughts from the internal playlist.

Home entertaining: Summer’s coming and we all know what that means: barbecues. And women columnists banging on about blokes and their barbies, some of them pretending to great psychological insight by comparing the size of a man’s barbecue with his perception of his penis.

Ladies, when it comes to the penis, get a grip.

(And I don’t mean like former-Beckham paramour Rebecca Loos who stimulated a boar to obtain its sperm on a British reality tv show recently. For a full 10 minutes no less. A determined lass obviously, huh David? Or just ham-fisted as an Australian paper headlined?)

Anyway back to the lady scribblers.

When these women columnists are preparing their armoury of wit for this predictable annual assault -- and would you invite one to your barbecue knowing they are going to be demeaning to you and your friends for a few pieces of silver? -- might I mention this.

What might make a more interesting “think-piece” column -- but more difficult because it sidesteps the easy options -- is how women interact at such informal functions.

I don’t mean post-Sex/City nonsense -- “Then I realised” -- but something insightful about the way women are often thrown together as strangers because of the coincidences of a friendship their partners share. Men tend to poke the sausages and talk about uncontroversial common ground for a while, how do women psychologically sound each other out?

I’d like to read something like that while I stoke up my absolutely enormous barbecue.

VC and Barrister: It’s always in the small print. This from the back of the Auckland City Art Gallery newsletter. “Long standing Gallery sponsor Simpson Grierson was applauded for backing Public/Private Tumatanui/Tumataiti, the 2nd Auckland Triennial. The law firm received the 2004 Creative New Zealand Award for Bravery at the recent NBR Business Sponsorship for Arts Awards. CNZ Chairman Peter Biggs congratulated Simpson Grierson for ‘thinking outside the square‘. “

Now in my day “bravery” was a word reserved for something rather more risky than investing money in an art show. But anyway, hats off to the firm (its collective chest now weighed down by medals?) and also to Biggs for courageously going where no cliché has gone before.

Conscience nonsense: The “debate” over the Civil Union Bill saw a new low in thinking and rattled any belief you might have that some of these opponents were rational, sentient beings. Among the more hilarious perhaps was New Zealand First MP Dail Jones who said his reason for voting against the bill was not Christian-based but because he grew up in Pakistan and some of those “high standards of decency” rubbed off on him. (Mr Choudhary, a Muslim, voted for it incidentally)

Interesting though that so many MPs discovered they had gays and lesbians in the extended family and suddenly the abstract world of political belief, religion or convenient social philosophy ran headlong into something called the real world. (You know, the place you and I live in.)

For those who cited the name of God during the “debate” here’s something to prove if God exists there is wicked sense of humour at work: In Bucharest a former conman who was once jailed for claiming his winning lottery was stolen has just won one of Romania‘s biggest jackpots. He picked up a cool $50,000 with a genuine ticket. God works in mysterious ways, huh?

Journos on the frontline: Much amusement to be had out of the torturous and defensive statements which emerged after TV3 newsreader Carol Hirschfeld attended the rally which supported Ahmed Zaoui. TV3 head of news Mark Jennings said her attendance did not constitute political bias and that she had been there to support her husband Finlay McDonald. (Finlay was slammed up in pokie too?)

Finlay said she was there to look after the kids and because she was interested, and that there was a difference between expressing a political opinion openly and attending public events out of curiosity.

All of this may be strictly true of course, but when it comes to that hoary old notion of objectivity it is starting to look like those in the media, ironically, are the ones now keen to perpetrate the myth.

In this regard you might recall John Campbell banging on about advocacy journalism, and for a little while there he seemed to be the conscience of New Zealand media by citing John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and other such luminaries.

A thought: If TV3 are going to revamp news and current affairs programmes next year to take on One and the steroid-swallowing Prime then maybe this will be the opportunity for Campbell to put that agenda out there in a gutsy programme. The soft interview show and The Queen’s Tour were fine, but not quite what you might have expected from someone who was making such a strong case for advocacy journalism.

And finally: my sincere thanks again to all those who wrote after my last posting. I am genuinely touched that so many people, strangers mostly, took the time to convey their thoughts and best wishes. The cyberspace network can be more caring than some friends in the real world.