Sausage sizzle cooks win Queensland election

Results of the 2015 Queensland state election. Electorates in brown indicate those won by sausage sizzle cooks. Pink electorates are those held by cake stallholders, and green and yellow show vegetarian and gluten-free friendly seats.

Results of the 2015 Queensland state election. Electorates in brown indicate those won by sausage sizzle cooks. Pink electorates are those held by cake stallholders, and green and yellow show vegetarian and gluten-free friendly seats.

FEBRUARY 5, 2015 – Public school sausage sizzle chefs have formed government after winning a majority of seats in last weekend’s Queensland election.

The shock result meant not one of the state’s 89 MPs retained their seats on Saturday, with all new members of the Legislative Assembly voted in without ever having formally applied to have their name placed on the ballot.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland reported the anomaly on Saturday night, finding a majority of voters had informally nominated the P&C volunteers manning sausage sizzles at local school polling booths for public office, instead of candidates on the ballot paper.

“Honestly, I voted for that woman at the barbecue because she was the only person I was happy to see when I went to vote,” one voter said outside a western Brisbane primary school.

“She hasn’t said anything about leasing our assets, and I’m not angry at her for building up massive public debt, so she was the obvious choice.

Rockhampton MP Toby Martin, until last week the secretary of Berserker State High School’s Parents & Citizens Association, has been named premier after forming a loose party with 64 other elected sausage sizzle cooks.
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Diagnosis Wanderlust

10404486_10152431523987567_8074948124992286700_nTHE symptoms will strike without warning, finding their way into your day in vulnerable places like the office, the morning commute or even your empty house.

All of a sudden you suffer a heaviness of the heart, concentration loss and a mild delirium that flings you to places visited and destinations for which only imagination is a source.

The twin forces of nostalgia and forward optimism combine to flash images of distant lands, miles of asphalt under wheels, friendly faces speaking in foreign tongues, desert, forest and vast oceans. Read more of this post

Maths-metal and streaking: Hottest 100 vote lobbying’s shaky history

Taylor Swift could make it into this year's Triple J Hottest 100. Photo by David Shankbone.

Taylor Swift could make it into this year’s Triple J Hottest 100. Photo by David Shankbone.

THIS month, many of my friends, relatives, complete strangers and I have been asked to make a very important decision; one that could change the course of history. There’s also a state election on.

I speak, of course, of the decision whether or not to follow the social media push to force Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” into Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014. Anathema to those purists whose radio dial (or scanner, since it isn’t 1989 anymore) remains superglued to 107.7FM or the various other frequencies across the country, the grassroots “write-in” vote has nevertheless gained traction and could see the mainstream pop song inch its way into the 21st year of “the world’s biggest music democracy”.

I won’t be pulling a Swifty with the others, mainly because I don’t like the song. But I can’t understand the anger it’s generated amongst some of Triple J’s diehard, parochial fanbase. There’s a subsection of Hottest 100 followers to whom the list is sacred, but who will be unhappy regardless of the outcome. They’ll moan that the 2014 poll is the “worst ever” and long for the day Ultimo is overrun and the music democracy is bloodily overthrown to establish a benevolent hipster music junta, free of the bourgeois influence of “songs a majority of the sheeple listeners like”. Read more of this post

My kind of town, Chicago is… in summer

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Chicago in the summer.

“YEAH, I could live here,” I thought as I strolled along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

It was a sunny June morning and I was on a decent hike from my hostel through skyscraper-lined streets, parkland, beaches, and riverfront, soon to arrive at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

America’s third-largest city was alive with a pulsing energy, the L was shuffling along the tracks overhead and I was growing ever more in love with this place.

That morning I had life all planned out: I’d get back to Australia, take out my life savings, somehow score a job at the Tribune and live in a hip inner-north suburb; my days spent interviewing the people who inhabited this great city and my nights whiled away at jazz and blues bars, or perhaps at the baseball.

But, like all summer flings, my feelings of forever with Chicago weren’t to last. Out of curiosity while writing this post in early January, I had a quick peek at the city’s weather to find – yikes – one degree and overcast, with the mercury to plummet to -13 on Monday.

There’s no way a kid who found the New England highland of New South Wales – a place where it snowed only once in 16 months of living there – too cold for comfort could cut it in Chicago for even a year.

The city had given me plenty of warnings: street signs reminding drivers not to park in areas of high snow concentration and large, glass overpasses between buildings so shoppers wouldn’t need to brave the frigid December temperatures. Hell, even the breeze which so cooled me in the humid start of summer should have been enough to warn me it would return with a vengeance in December, driving Arctic gusts through the Great Lakes and straight into my chest.

But I ignored all of those hints. I was too focused on the beachgoers, the advertisements for open air concerts in Millennium Park, the ice-cream stands on the footpath, the pollen drifting between the trees in the leafy suburbs.

Because Chicago and its citizens understand they have only a short time in the warmth and sunshine, they make the most of it. We have a tendency in Australia – and especially in Brisbane – to take for granted the year-round good weather. An outdoors market like the Teneriffe Festival, in the middle of winter, is of no concern because we don’t need to huddle up for warmth.

But Chicago lacks that luxury, so summer feels like a massive party, making the most of the heat before it disappears for another nine months.

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Chicago in the summer.

And even with those tastes of summer, there were parts of the city where you’d still feel like you were in Gotham, expecting the Batmobile to swing round the corner any minute.

From the moment I got off the bus opposite the art deco Union Station, I was in love with the city’s architecture. The sheer density of the inner city and its mix of styles made the whole town feel like an exciting, avant-garde experiment. It helps that it’s built on a dead flat plain, making the height of the Willis and Hancock towers all the more impressive.

Rather than the dull-as-dishwater glass monotony of modern Australian architecture, Chicago’s beauty lies in its grime and its lived-in feel. And that’s as prevalent in summer as it is in winter, so you’re hardly missing out on getting a true feel for the city if you don’t go in the dead of January.

So, no, Chicago and I will never be long-term. But I’ll still be dreaming of those marvellous summer days listening to the jazz buskers beneath the raised L train tracks, shopping in hipster stores Newtown could only dream of and gorging on the heinously unhealthy deep dish pizzas and caramel and cheddar popcorn.

We can never be together, but we’ll always have June.

Hoverboards grounded, but we can still McFly into 2015

Pockets out is in for 2015. (Not ironing isn't a trend though, just my laziness. Beard not obligatory.)

Pockets out is in for 2015. (Not ironing isn’t a trend though, just my laziness. Beard not obligatory.)

THIS is the year I’ve been waiting for since Christmas Day, 2002, when Santa gave me the Back to the Future trilogy boxset on DVD.
2015 was the year to wait for, the one where I could be like Michael J Fox strutting around in an eighties vision of the future.
I’m not alone with this wish; a couple of generations have grown up loving the film series and, despite Part II being my least favourite of the trilogy, its brief segment in the future was always exciting.

Of course, director Robert Zemeckis said the film’s vision of the future was one primarily populated with screenwriters’ jokes, but that hasn’t stopped us, with some degree of entitlement, demanding that scientists stop fiddling about working on frivolous things like medical research, renewable energy and Hadron colliders, and instead focus their energies on a levitating toy and flying cars that would give motorists an extra dimension in which to be terrifyingly incompetent.
So, yes, hoverboards might be a pipe dream, but we can still make Universal a 20th Century Nostradamus with some of the movie’s smaller, more achievable quirks, thus making this year the best 2015 ever! Read more of this post