I Am A Gummy Bear. A Swedish Gummy Bear

Jag Är En Gummibjörn

The clip says it all really.

Is it just me or is all this Gay marriage stuff a load of old bollocks?

Glee Gay Kiss

Nice, different, unusual

The big topic that we can’t seem to get away from at the moment is Gay marriage. Why it needs to be legalised last week and why we all need to have it 3 times a day for breakfast, lunch and tea.

My thing is this: I couldn’t give a shit about Gay marriage. It will happen but it won’t happen overnight and I’m fine with that, As a card carrying fag, I care about real legal rights, financial rights, anti-discrimination laws and so on. And yes, I think it would be fantastic if a formalised, same-sex civil partnership arrangement was introduced in Australia.

But the idea of protests and marches and angst about Gay marriage just leaves me bemused. I wouldn’t get out of bed to make a protest about Gay marriage. I went to marches in the 80s when the issue was fags being bashed in the streets, funding for AIDS research & care and also to protest against Gays being treated like lepers because of HIV/AIDS. Those were dark days and real issues.

Gay marriage? My oft repeated line is “Don’t you realise there are kids in Somalia that don’t even have iPods?” I was really happy to see Lily Tomlin question the whole obsession with Gay marriage when she performed in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. Her position was really about why we would want to ape a heterosexual institution.

Some – many – think that legalising Gay marriage will solve all our problems. It will be like waving a magic wand and suddenly all will be well in homo land. But, as we’ve seen in the U.S., marriage can be granted and just as quickly taken away.

Before the 80s we didn’t have the right to be Gay. We didn’t have the right to march down the street without being bashed. For many years we could be legally discriminated against in employment and many other spheres of society. There is still some protection for religious organisations & schools to legally discriminate against us.

And until recently we didn’t have the right to our partner’s superannuation if they died – or any other financial/legal rights that a hetero couple – married or not – took for granted.

There was the “homosexual panic defence” which basically allowed straights to bash & kill us legally if they felt someone had “made an advance” towards them. Gay bashing at beats was a national recreational past time.

In the 60s, the police used to wait outside Gay clubs and, when drag queens arrived,  they would bash them and arrest them. For wearing drag. It became a competition as to how fast a drag queen could run from a car to the inside of a gay club to avoid being hit and arrested by the police.

To me these are the things that really matter. Not some bullshit about being able to drop $20k on a pointless heterosexual-copying ceremony.

There doesn’t seem to be any corporate history in the Gay community anymore. Everyone simply thinks the rights and protections we have today were always there. Possibly because a lot of the people screaming the place down in their demands for Gay marriage are GenY-ers who grew up taking these rights for granted and have never had to fight for the right to be Gay.

The Federal Government changed about 85 laws a year or so ago – to remove discrimination and the differences that treated Gays & Lesbians as second class citizens. To me that’s amazing, that’s real change and something worth fighting for and celebrating. 85 laws!

“Gay marriage” seems like a designer pair of underwear or the latest iPhone that every queer simply MUST have. Legal recognition of legal same sex partnerships is important but to me, “Gay marriage” itself, on a scale of really important G&L issues, should rate about #54.

People are changing their votes to vote against the very party that gave them all these rights in the first place. They’re slagging off the Government that gave us some real and absolute equality under law. I do not understand how someone can base their – very important – democratic vote on one single issue – “Gay marriage.”

Of course, you’re not allowed to criticise it or question it – the fag-erati will burn you at the stake and publicly shame you. We all have to be out there shouting and demanding “Gay marriage now!!!” Rah! Rah! Rah!

To me it smacks of a lack of perspective, a lack of understanding of history and a lack of knowing what’s real and what’s superficial. And it is a pity that it seems to be starving all the oxygen from any other debate on Gay issues.

Gay marriage will come in eventually and, when it does, it will be good for those people that want it. One day we’ll look back and find it hard to remember when it wasn’t legal. But making it the total focus, the all encompassing issue for Gays & Lesbians is just a load of old bollocks.

My new baby: the Nokia E5

Nokia E5 mobile phone

Worth the wait: the Nokia E5


****UPDATE: I WROTE THIS SHORTLY AFTER I’D PURCHASED THE NOKIA E5. IT TURNED OUT TO BE A PIECE OF CRAP AND STOPPED WORKING COMPLETELY A COUPLE OF MONTHS AFTER I BOUGHT IT. I ABSOLUTELY DO *NOT* RECOMMEND THIS PHONE TO ANYONE. I HAVE NOW HAD A SAMSUNG GALAXY MINI FOR MONTHS AND IT TRULY IS A GOOD PHONE***

Late last year I decided it was time to move on from my beloved Nokia E63 – the phone I’ve written about on this site more than once – and trade up to something faster and something with a bit more “oomph.” The old E63 was beginning to slow down and the lack of HSDPA internet access was beginning to drive me nuts. Not even a complete firmware update could resurrect the springy performance I first enjoyed when I got the E63 way back in 2009.

My phone company, 3 Mobile, had promised, on their blog, that they would be releasing the Nokia E5 towards the end of 2010 and I was considering paying out the remainder of my contract and upgrading. Well, talk about “blink and you missed it”, the Nokia E5 was available for five days and then 3 stopped selling it. Bizarre. Of course there are many bizarre things happening with 3 Mobile since they were taken over by Vodaphone  – or Vodafail as it has become known in Australia.

3 Mobile is winding down and eventually – like all the other 3 customers – I’ll be pushed off and forced to go on Vodafone’s network. A prospect I am not looking forward to. Telstra’s plans are still too expensive for me to seriously consider so basically I am staying with 3 until (a) I get kicked off or (b) the service becomes so bad it is unusable. I’ve been relatively happy with 3 over the last 5 years and I’ve become used to their “My 3” and “Email on 3” services. But I didn’t want to be stuck with my trusty Nokia E63 forever.

The range of handsets that 3 now offers is drastically reduced as they wind down. And many of them simply show as “out of stock.” In fact, most of them are out of stock/sold out. Nothing they had really yanked my chain. I’m not a “touchscreen” kind of guy – I need a keyboard. I spent a couple of hours on Yoda’s Samsung Jet last night and it drove me nuts. More than ever, I’m convinced I’ll always be more comfortable with a keyboard.

I’m also very comfortable with Nokia’s Symbian operating system. That’s not a fashionable thing to say – every review of Nokia phones slags off the Symbian system. It’s almost a pathological hatred by the techno media. I feel the opposite – yes, maybe it could be a bit slicker but generally it does what I want and I like it. There’s also Nokia email to consider – it allows you to have up to 10 email accounts pushed to your device. Email on 3 does a similar job but they’re not adapting that for new handsets now…thanks to the awful Vodafail takeover.

I never really wanted a “smart phone” until the Nokia E63 took my fancy. And once I got used to the idea of being able to do email, web browsing and twitter on a mobile phone, I realised I was a Nokia boy. Which means my options were really quite limited. I sound like an advert for Nokia but I’m just not that excited by Android and positively loathe Apple’s iFag,…er, I mean, iPhone.

So I was really pissed off when the E5 disappeared without a trace from 3. Flash forward 5 months and, out of the blue, a web search revealed the E5 was back on 3 and being marketed as their “new phone.” This was after advising that they wouldn’t be bringing any new handsets to 3. And not only was it available on 3, I could get it as a second handset for a small monthly payment. It took me about 2 seconds to make up my mind and last Friday I popped down to the Vodafail store and signed up for a shiny new Nokia E5…on 3 (NOT Vodafail).

I spent half the weekend setting it up and playing with it. Yoda’s comment was “why don’t you just kiss it!” My verdict? I love it!

It’s sleek and sexy with a very comfortable keyboard and much faster than the E63. Surfing the web, downloading applications, jumping through the menus – all much faster. The interface improvements (this is a later version of Symbian S60) are really useful. The screen is fine – I was worried because it is nowhere near the E63 in terms of screen quality – but I’ve barely noticed the difference in day-to-day use.

Loved the ability to bluetooth over my contacts, sms’s and calendar bits and pieces from the E63. It went very smoothly. Terrific not having to load all that guff into the phone. I’ve downloaded a few things from the Ovi Store like the Opera Mini browser, Snaptu for twitter etc. All went very smoothly and installed without a problem. The phone comes pre-loaded with Nokia maps but I’ve not had the need to use it yet.

Battery life is not as good as the E63 – both because it has a lesser capacity battery I believe and, for me, because I think Nokia Email is chewing up the juice with all that push email. Unfortunately – and frustratingly – 3 are not going to make the E5 compatible with Email on 3. I found Email on 3 a really good application/service with the E63 and it didn’t seem to eat up the battery power. Still, this isn’t a big consideration – it isn’t as if the Nokia E5 is like an iPhone or HTC Desire where you have to recharge every day.

And finally, of course, the E5 makes and receives telephone calls! Amazing! But yeah, the phone side of things is rock solid – as you’d expect from Nokia. It has the torch feature too – I can’t believe how much I came to rely on that bloody torch thing with the E63! Hold down the space bar and voila! – your phone becomes a pretty good torch.

Oops, one negative I almost forgot about….the camera is shit. Absolutely bollocks. 5 megapixels which sounds impressive but, in reality, it’s not. Quality of the pics actually seems a little worse than the 2 megapixel E63. Not a deal breaker for me as I use a “real” camera and just use the mobile for odd shots here and there. But if you need a fab camera as part of your mobile phone experience, you won’t be happy with the E5.

So here I am with a brand new E5- after 5 months frustrating wait – and all is well. If money was no object, I might have gone with the swish new E7 – but with a retail price close to $1000, that was never going to happen!

Nokia E5 box contents

Inside the Nokia E5's blue box

The Nokia E5 is a great phone – and if you don’t believe me, listen to this guy – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Melodifestivalen 2011: The Gold Box arrives!

Melodifestivalen 2011 gold box

Melodifestivalen 2011 - The Gold Box! Yeah baby!

Finally! It arrived today. There goes $100 I’ll never see again! But it is absolutely beautiful to behold!

The mega-expensive gold box released for Melodifestivalen 2011. It’s called “10 År På Turne” (10 Years on Tour). I can get rid of those crappy mp3 versions of the 32 songs on my computer and replace them with pristine CD versions! Plus the Gold Box also includes five other CDs of Melodifestivalen highlights from the last ten years. And a rarities disc. Plus a glossy coffee-table sized booklet full of colour pictures and facts.

The Melodifestivalen 2011 CD was released in 3 different versions – the usual double-CD version (which Yoda got), a silver box with 5 CDs and then finally, this ultimate Gold Box version which I just had to have. The whole packaging looks spectacular. And it arrived in one piece and undamaged from Sweden – a rarity in itself.

Truth be told, the contents of the book/booklet are pretty crappy and the photos aren’t that rare or interesting…but who cares? The whole package is a gorgeous triumph of packaging. It’s going right to the pool room!

Contents of Melodifestivalen 2011 - 10 Years on Tour gold box

Contents of the gorgeous Gold Box

It’s a bit of a bugger that Windows Media Player can’t find any of the song titles or artists for it – don’t you hate it when you’ve gotta sit in front of the PC and type in 32 song titles and artists. Still, I guess that’s what you get for being a fan of Swedish schlager music!

The Melodifestivalen 2011 double-CD

Melodifestivalen 2011 double CD

Right now I’ve got “No-one Else Could” by Sebastian stuck in my head so I’m including it below. And dedicating it to my best friend Yoda cos the lyrics are entirely appropriate.

Eric Saade’s record company makes people steal music

Poxy Roxy don't want my money!

I’m really pissed off with Eric Saade’s record company Roxy Recordings. They’re making people steal music. They’re making sure their artists don’t get paid their proper royalties. And it is all so bloody stupid.

If you want to buy Eric’s music, you can only buy it on the Swedish iTunes. Not the Australian iTunes – in fact you can’t even have a Swedish iTunes account if you’re an Australian.

Eric has released a new version of his song “Popular” that is not on the Melodifestivalen 2011 Gold Box that I’m paying a f*ckload of money to have sent over from Sweden. It isn’t, in fact, on any type of compact disc at all. The only way to buy it is via download. However, because I don’t live in Sweden, I’m not allowed to buy it! And before you suggest it, no – you can’t fake being a Swede to get it on iTunes Sweden. God knows Yoda has tried setting up Swedish email accounts and every other trick in the book to be able to buy from there – but to no avail.

How many people would actually try and scam a system so they can PAY MONEY – usually it’s the other way around. People say to us “oh why would you buy it, just download it illegally.” Well, because we don’t roll that way – we like to buy our music.

Last year Yoda and I had Eric’s “Masquerade” album shipped over from one of the on-line stores in Sweden – as we usually do when we want to buy music from Sweden. However it isn’t always a perfect solution. The store in question – a major online CD shopping presence in Sweden – didn’t get the album for weeks after it was released and then it took eons to arrive in Oz. By the time it arrived we’d almost forgotten that we’d ordered it!

Given the fact that downloading seems to be the way of the future and that quite a lot of music is never released on a physical format thesedays, you’d think Roxy Recordings would make sure all of their artists’ catalogues were available on iTunes around the world. How hard is it to get that button pushed?

I realise it isn’t only Roxy Recordings, it’s most record companies. Blocking people from other countries/other regions from paying them money! Again I say, how bloody stupid is that?? Hmmm…so I can’t buy the CD – because it doesn’t exist – but you won’t let me buy it via online download either…and then the music industry bitches and screams about illegal downloading and websites like Pirate Bay!!! Where’s the logic?

Yoda and I go to the trouble and considerable expense of having the stuff we like shipped over from Sweden…when it is actually available to buy on CD. But I wonder how many others bother to go through that drama? And it IS a drama – it isn’t cheap, fast and easy like Amazon – the online Swedish shops don’t roll that way. In fact,  the best online shop won’t even sell to customers outside their little part of the world.

Getting back to Eric…..Yoda and I want this new accoustic version of “Popular” (and anything else he records/puts out) but there’s going to be visit to Pirate Bay or Limefresh (or whatever those file sharing services are called) in the next few days because that’s the only way we can get it. Someone will probably put it up on Youtube as well – no doubt someone who didn’t pay for it either. Meanwhile, here we are begging to be able to pay for it and we’re not allowed.

Yoda has also found a 4-track remix thing of another Melodifestivalen artist/song that he wants but guess what…it’s only available on the Swedish iTunes!!! So guess how he’s going to “obtain” it?

There are people around the world who are not 15 years old and who didn’t grow up in a world where stealing music was the norm – people who would happily pay for their music – both mainstream and obscure – if only they were allowed to.

You know, I have the Sarah Dawn Finer (another Roxy artist) Christmas album and I haven’t even played it. It’s not my thing. But I like Sarah (“Moving On” and “Stockholm By Morning” are perfection) and want to support her so bought the Christmas CD and had it sent over to Oz.

The message is this: if you’re selling what I want, I buy! And there are a lot of other people who want to do the right thing.

Honestly, Roxy Recordings, get your shit together and start letting everyone buy the music your artists are producing.

Eric Saade

I’m in love

With all my excitement about the fabstastic Eric Saade winning Melodifestivalen 2011, you’d be forgiven for thinking “Popular” was the only song I liked this year.

Wrong Jana, wrong, wrong, wrong!

There was some real classics this year (as there have been for the last few years) and I’m just starting to explore them and enjoy them now. I’m still waiting for my Gold Box to arrive from Sweden (sigh) so I caved in and got the mp3s from Yoda. His philosophy is “well, I’m buying the CD anyway so it’s okay to get them the naughty way right now.” Can’t say I disagree with him at this point.

Anyway, amongst the gems from this year’s competition was “I’m In Love” by Melodifestivalen veteran Sanna Nielsen and both Yoda and I can’t get it out of our heads. I’ve been playing it ‘(and “Popular”) on repeat on my mp3 player to and from work. It’s just so bloody catchy – it burns itself into your head.

Sanna looks very beautiful in this clip however she comes across as a bit cold and “ice princess-like” to both Yoda and myself. However I am sure we are wrong because David & Ben from Adelaide are massive Sanna fans, have met her and say she’s absolutely warm and wonderful. Anyway, the main thing is her Melodifestivalen song this year and amaaaaaaaaaazing!

Eric Saade – behind the scenes footage after the Melodifestivalen telecast

Here’s some great footage behind the scenes after the Melodifestivalen 2011 telecast. The fabulous winner, Eric Saade, posing for press photos and being interviewed by the “green room” reporter. Also interviews with Frederick Kempe, the songwriter of “Popular” and more!