Apr. 9th, 2017 04:48 pm
marko_the_rat: (Default)
This is my first ever DW post! It will take a little while to get set up so everything is the way I like it. But I hope to import my earlier LJ entries in case LJ see fit to remove them (in light of the fact that I am now technically violating their revised terms of service).
marko_the_rat: (standing)
I did it! Another year under my belt. After I got to Rattus's 10th anniversary in 2015, it's been one year at a time, but my boss pointed out that next year is the 40th anniversary, so I can't miss that! 2018 or bust!

I flew in the day before, as is my habit, to give me time to acclimatise to Sydney and maybe catch up with friends. Everything seemed to go wrong with Friday, starting with getting out of bed. I checked my email and found Tiger had cancelled my flight 3 hours before it was scheduled to go citing "operational reasons". It said to call them to book a new flight. I did and was left on hold for 50 minutes. (While I was waiting I checked to see if there was any way I could do this on their website, but a phone call was my only hope.) When I finally got to talk to a human, she told me there were no flights from Brisbane she could put me on today, so I agreed to a flight from the Gold Coast when my darling and long-suffering raccoon said he'd drive me. Yes, I know I only have myself to blame for flying with Tiger, but they'd always treated me well before and I thought they'd cleaned up their act since they got bought by Virgin. I was determined to fly to Sydney on Friday because this was my chance to go to the Finnish Consulate to renew my Finnish passport.

Once settled into my room (I'd found a hotel right on the edge of Moore Park), I headed out to find the Finnish Consulate. Google Maps helpfully guided me via public transport to a construction site in the rain. It turns out they'd moved, but Google Maps had pulled the info from my Contacts which for some reason I'd saved from an earlier visit. It was too late for me to get to their new location so I made my way back into the CBD to explore for a little before having dinner with Belinda. When I got an SMS from her I realised my phone had not updated to Sydney time (I had switched off automatic time zone on my phone because it keeps getting it wrong in Brisbane) and I was running late so I had to hot foot it to the other side of the CBD. (Sydney is very big to a small town rat such as myself.) Meanwhile, Stephen (my frequent roommate for Mardi Gras) was having dramas of his own. His Virgin flight had been cancelled and they automatically rescheduled him for a flight later that night (Tiger, take note!) only to have that cancelled and he was rescheduled to fly in early Saturday morning. He rang Virgin but they were adamant there were no flights to Sydney that night. (It was raining fairly heavily in Sydney, but nothing like a storm.) He ended up huddling with other early starters in the only part of Brisbane Domestic airport still open at night. I spent that night alone and lonely, but at least I was warm and dry in a comfortable room and slept soundly that night.

Saturday thankfully went much more smoothly. I got to enjoy an early morning walk in Moore Park until I was drenched by a surprise downpour, but Stephen got to the hotel at last and there was much rejoicing. We took a bus with our suits into the CBD and got there smoothly without the full buses and crawling traffic. Leaving early pays off! We found a new furry who was even earlier than us and we set up shop next to a fairy ring and became the official furry gathering point for that year. (I think we had the honour of being the first furs he'd met irl up to that point--what a leap from never having met another fur to marching in Mardi Gras! I hope we made a good impression.) We were up towards the front of the parade this year and there was patchy rain so it curtailed my own exploratory impulses, explaining why I didn't take many photos this year, but the rain stopped when it was our turn to march. Another great march as always, thanks to Dustan and Loupy.

We went back to our room (still a long walk, but at least we didn't have to brave a taxi or Uber), freshened up and had a long walk to the Erciyes Restaurant (one of the few places still open at that time of night, but it was worth it!). Stephen had been holding up remarkably well on one hour of sleep, but after dinner it finally caught up with him. He'd wanted to go to the after party but he couldn't stay awake so we both had an early (?) night.

Sunday we got to hang out with Kamadan (an NZ spotty cat) and Vel (the only sometimes scary demonic platypus). We made it to the airport with plenty of time and enjoyed a drama free flight back to Brisbane.


I took a handful of photos which I left up on Google Photos.

The official float photographer took a lot of great photos, including this lovely one of Stephen and I (I took Rattus Alt because I feel as if Mardi Gras belongs to him):

The official Mardi Gras photographer took a great shot of the float:

You can also see the livestream of the whole parade (the time link goes straight to our float) here.
marko_the_rat: (grumble)
Please bear with me as I rant about the WA election. I promise I'll do a Mardi Gras report soon.

On current counting (43.5% counted so far), the anti-science Fluoride Free WA party has won a Senate seat in the WA Senate with 0.36% of the primary vote. When you look at the preference flows, it's obvious they achieved this by gaming the system and getting just about everyone to funnel their preferences to them (I am suspecting most of the "Independents" in that electorate were plants for the Fluoride Free party anyway). It looks like the Flux the System! party tried to do something similar in other electorates, but not as effectively as the fluoride nutters did. I do have grudging respect to them for gaming the system so effectively, but I don't think in the normal course of events a party should win a seat on 0.36% of the vote. It's because of these sort of games that the Senate voting system was reformed in federal elections; I am hoping this motivates the new Labor government to reform the system in a similar way (giving power back to the voters to decide where they want their preferences to go) but seeing as the federal Labor Party opposed the changes so vociferously I don't hold out much hope.

EDIT: It no longer looks like the Fluoride Free WA party will win a seat, but it still looks like the Liberal Democrats, another nutty micro party will pick up a seat (although admittedly with a respectable primary vote), and this man is taking the credit for it. He basically is the reason that voting for the Senate federally has been reformed, so I suppose he has unintentionally done some good.
marko_the_rat: (standing)

Click on the photo and it will take you to [ profile] higgs_raccoon's album of photos he took of us playing in the park behind the ConFurgence hotel this year.
marko_the_rat: (standing)
Photos from 2016 European trip. I haven't done a full report, but you can find my live tweet of Disneyland Paris starting from this tweet, which includes photos not included in this photo album. Thank you to all my friends who showed me there is still so much wonder in the old world for a rat like myself to experience. One of the highlights of EF 22 was the rat fursuit photoshoot I organised. It restored a lot of my confidence in my ability to organise such things after my failure at trying to organise a rodent fursuit photoshoot at FurDU last year. Photos from this rat fursuit photoshoot will follow when the overworked photographer gets a chance to process them.
marko_the_rat: (standing)
Rattie took me to see Bakken, the world's oldest amusement park. After a lovely walk in the surrounding forest (which helped me get over my fear of deer) we entered the amusement park itself and I was delighted to see a kangaroo carousel as my first ride. I had a dof burger, which I'm told is traditional Danish fare and I liked it very much. Bakken is famous for its creepy clown, which has been a feature of the park from its very beginnings. (It makes me want to write a dark fantasy story about how the clown is secretly the one who started the park 500 years ago and has been using it draw energy from the children he entertains ever since.) The clown isn't actually as scary in person as he is on the website and he is actually very good at entertaining the kids. We both had a lot of fun and I was delighted to see such an important fixture of Denmark. Thank you Rattie, you really are the world's sweetest rat. (Don't tell the other rats or they'll be jealous!)

marko_the_rat: (standing)
I've been in Copenhagen a few days, staying with the lovely Rattie.

We went exploring the first day I was there. There were so many bicycles! I think I saw more cyclists on my first day in Copenhagen than I have seen in the whole rest of my life. That might sound like a recipe for disaster, but most of the larger roads have a bike path that is physically segregated from both the drivers and the pedestrians so you don't get the same level of interaction that we see in Australia. It seems to work quite well over here. I imagine that Australian drivers would object strongly to the notion of paying for that kind of infrastructure for cyclists, but people would still have to get around and if they didn't feel safe riding they would have to clog up the roads and the air with more cars. Not that I necessarily think this model would work in Australia. Denmark obviously had a strong cycling culture and is geographically tiny compared to Australia. We have to go long distances just to visit friends.

I also noted that elevators don't seem as common here. Between the cycling and the stairs I suspect an evil conspiracy by the government to make their population more healthy.

Rattie says he's the only rat in Denmark. I can think of four in Australia. With our relative (human) populations, that would make a ratio of about one (furry) rat per five million people for both our countries. I wonder how well that ratio holds up for other countries?

Denmark seems like a nice country. I like the language and the fact that most people don't mind speaking speaking English for the dumb foreign rat. I like the architecture and the relatively clean air thanks to the cyclists and wind turbines. But I don't think the climate would suit me. It is only a few weeks out of summer and already it seems colder than Brisbane in the winter. I hate to think what it's like in winter.

So where to next for the adventuring rat? Berlin for Eurofurence (if you are attending EF as well and have a rodent fursuit please pipe up so I can invite you to a rodent fursuit photoshoot) and then (the highlight of the whole trip) a ratty pilgrimage to the Ratatouille attraction at Disneyland Paris. I imagine, much like Mecca, that is something every rat needs to do at least once in their lifetime, and I wanted to do my pilgrimage while it is still relatively new and shiny.
marko_the_rat: (standing)
Rattus has had a facelift!
marko_the_rat: (standing)
That was a fun night last night! :) I always like a close campaign. The second #AusVotes election in three elections which looks likely to end in a hung Parliament. I think the major parties are going to have to accept this is the new normal and get on with it. Minority governments work well in many other countries; I don't see why we should be special.
I wanted to get on the record my predictions for the election results, which we won't know for at least a few days yet. I think neither party will get a majority but the Coalition will end up with their nose in front. Turnbull will cobble together an agreement (even though both sides swore they wouldn't!) with Katter and maybe Nick Xenophon or Cathy McGowan. He will still have a raucous circus in the Senate to deal with. The schizophrenia in his own party will deepen, likely ending up with him being pulled too many different ways and he will get overthrown (the fourth leader toppled by their own party since 2010--this really is a new national sport!). The alliance will break down and we'll go to an early election.
I am struck by the parallels from the 2010 election. A leader gets rolled in their first term, the new leader takes the party to an early election where they just limp over the line as a minority government. (I know there are important differences too.) That one ended in failure for both Labor and the Greens. (The Greens announcing an "alliance" with Labor was always bad politics and they should have known better.)
So where does this leave the gay marriage plebiscite? I'm afraid that will end up a political football (but it was always going to be anyway). The newly empowered loony right in Turnbull's own party may kill it, or he might use it as a wedge issue in the Senate if he is confident Labor and the Greens will block it. Either way, I do not see gay marriage becoming legal in this term of government. We can try again in a few years' time! :)
marko_the_rat: (standing)
I have a tradition of doing a Furry Party of Australia flyer for every federal election. I haven't had a lot of inspiration this election but I didn't want to break the tradition. It won't really mean anything unless you keep up with Australian politics.
marko_the_rat: (standing)
ABC News interviewed them about their come back (fitting because they started on the ABC in the 90s). I got goosebumps when they started singing. But their songs have always been politically charged and this "we're back!" song was no exception. One line particularly struck me:
A pensioner, a cripple, and a human being!
Paul McDermott was singing and referring to the trio, with himself as the "human being". I thought it was a very revealing line about how we see people and label them. Tim ("Flacco") Livingston is a shoe in, but a well known comedian from the 90s in his own right and a long time collaborator so he fits right in. Presumably he used to be a pensioner (and I'm sure to some people's minds you never stop being one). Tim Ferguson is the "cripple". He is now confined to a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. Only Paul, even though he's being hampered by his grey hair, still makes the grade as a human being.

Like me, they're older now (duh!) and not afraid to face up to it in their show. I want to go see them when they tour Brisbane!
marko_the_rat: (standing)
RivFur, having been downgraded back to a furry meet, was a laid back affair this year, but I still managed to have fun at the BBQ and the closing ceremonies (where Rattus participated in a drawing game). The BBQ was special, because I used it to celebrate Rattus's 10th birthday. Hopefully I'll have photos to show you from that down the track, but for now I am pleased to showcase these photos from the BBQ:

RivFur 2015
marko_the_rat: (standing)
It seems to have become part of my routine to give my own personal Mardi Gras wrap-up. My attempt to learn lessons from last year's Mardi Gras failed but it was still my best Mardi Gras yet! This being my 10th Mardi Gras in a row, I should explain why I keep coming back year after year. Lupie said it best, on a natural high at the after-party: We get to feel like rock stars, just for one night. That's what I come back for every year. Where else can a humble* rat like me experience huge crowds cheering us as we go past?

The furry float itself went off without a hitch (there were some last-minute dramas with the float but those got resolved before we started marching). I planned to march on foot this year, as sort of a tribute to Rattus's first Mardi Gras when he was only a partial and we all had to do it on foot, and I followed through. (Thanks to Dustan for getting my new external foot paws done at such short notice.) Doing the parade on foot makes it feel much more personal and immediate, and I was able to surprise some of the audience by handing out impromptu hugs and high-fives. It also meant I featured prominently in Channel 10's news coverage of the event. I've said before I do it for the crowd, not for the media, but it is a nice bonus. I was especially chuffed because this was Rattus's 10th and he deserved something special to mark it. I felt like I was entering an altered state of mind towards the end but I knew I was committed because there's no question of climbing onto the float once the parade has started (it's a safety issue).

But what are the lessons I failed to learn? I thought getting a room near the end of the parade route would make it easier but that back-fired. My unfamiliarity with Sydney (even with Google Maps, it's very confusing) meant I ended up still being around 3km away from the end of the parade route, and so far away from the start that the only way to get there was by bus. I ended up with a large entourage and organising furries is like herding epileptic cats. By the time we were all ready and waiting at the bus stop, it took several buses before there was one empty enough to take us and then it was a slow creep through traffic to get to Hyde Park (anyone would think there was some big event on!). To my great shame, Dustan had to wait for us so we could all get into the locked off staging area. Afterwards it was a trudge back to the room. I think I was better off with the room I had last year, though at least this way we didn't have to navigate our way around the Mardi Gras crowds.

While I was thrilled to get a photo of Rattus with Scurrow and to fan-boy him, I was deeply disappointed not to get a photo of all three rodents together (except in Logan Husky’s group photo of course). I didn’t think it was my place to be ordering fursuiters about so I let the opportunity pass. Maybe I should have been more bossy? I’m sure the furries thought me adequately bossy when I was trying to get them to Hyde Park!

I was telling myself that this was my last one, that I don't have to keep coming. But why should I stop? I am still having a great time and (as I proved this year) I am still up to the physical challenge of marching. I just need to get over my superstition that if I miss a year I won't go again. Who knows? Maybe in 2025 I could celebrate Rattus's 20th anniversary? I think I will need to ride on the float for that one.

* (Yes, I'm self aware enough to know I have a huge vain streak, in common with all rats and fursuiters. I was using the word "humble" ironically.)
marko_the_rat: (standing)
Here is Channel 10's news coverage, saved for posterity (or at least until Google takes it down) and accessible to non-Australians.

marko_the_rat: (standing)
I have put up a series of photos chronicling my adventures at Mardi Gras 2015. This was Rattus's 10th Mardi Gras in a row, so I wanted to make sure I had photos marking the occasion. Thank you so much to Audi Orca for taking such great photos of Rattus and the furry float!

Because it was his 10th, I was also rapt to have Rattus feature so prominently in Channel 10's news coverage of the event. You can see the furry float from 1:20. This is unfortunately geoblocked, but I will put up a grab of it on YouTube later. Stay tuned!
marko_the_rat: (standing)
All packed and ready for my next great adventure: Rattus's 10th anniversary of doing Mardi Gras! When I say take 10 I mean it. Rattus did his first Mardi Gras in 2005, before he was even a full suit, and he has done every year since, even the year when there unfortunately wasn't a furry float. Being his 10th makes it something special for the both of us, and I want to honour it by marching on foot again this year, sort of as a tribute to the first year.
marko_the_rat: Peer (peer)
Neil Gaiman is a writer of excellent and discriminating taste. He likes rats. Most of his books have at least one rat in them. I am presently reading his latest collection of short stories, "Trigger Warnings". I haven't encountered any rats yet, but I fully expect I will. Which brings me to this image. I won it in the art auction at Further Confusion 2007. I just had to get it because I am a rat that loves kangaroos. I asked the artist, G T Skunkrat, for the story behind this piece and he said there wasn't any. It's a fine piece, but that's where he fell down, according to Neil Gaiman, who had this choice piece of advice for artists: "Be amiable but enigmatic, and when people ask for the story behind the painting, say, "My lips are sealed." But for god's sake, imply there is one. It's the story they're buying." Of course, I'd already bought it by then so it didn't matter, and I still have it celebrate my longstanding love of kangaroos.

Oil painting of a rat hugging a kangaroo
marko_the_rat: (standing)
I thought this being the start of the Lunar New Year, this might be apposite. I mentioned on G+ that I didn't do anything special for the last Year of the Rat, but that's not really true. At Further Confusion 2008 I had the most singular honour of heading up the fursuit parade. Madius had organised a banner celebrating the Year of the Rat which was due to start soon and was very topical for FC that year, whose theme was the Fur East. It seemed the FC parade organisers agreed. I had humbly agreed to take one end of the banner and soon after the parade organisers caught wind of the plan and called for us to come to the front of the parade. I would not have given up my half of the banner for anything at that point! I often say I am proud to be a rat, but I don't think I have ever been prouder than I was on that day. I don't know what I will do for 2020, but it is hard to think how I will top that.

Congratulations to sheep and goats, and to all the animals of the Zodiac. There are only 12 of us, so we are all very special. (With a special nod to cats, who only narrowly missed out.)

marko_the_rat: (standing)
At last, I have photos up!

Here is the full album on Flickr.

Photos taken by White Paw on my crappy camera from the Rodent Room Party Dittman and I organised at MFF 2014.

It might sound silly, but I was so excited to be around so many rodents, especially ones I hadn't met in the flesh/fur before I was almost hyperventilating! Thanks to everyone who showed up for making it such an awesome event!


marko_the_rat: (Default)
Marko T. Rat

April 2017



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