Elmo in Sesame Street Sex Scandal - 10 Things
So INXS have split up… probably. Maybe. Definitely. Perhaps. An official statement is expected today after drummer Jon Farriss took the mic at their show at Perth Arena on Sunday night and announced that the audience was watching the final show the band would ever do. Management have refused to confirm it's official, and even other band members appeared to be taken aback by Farriss' Ziggy Stardust moment (presumably new Irish frontman Ciaran Gribben was particularly shocked, since he's been adorably insisting that the band were working on new material with plans to record next year), and others have pointed out that the mere act of supporting Matchbox 20 is, technically, a suicide attempt. Still, either way later today we should know if one of Australia's most beloved bands are calling it a day 15 years late, or reaffirming their determination to crush what's left of their legacy into a fine powder and let it blow to the four winds. Can't wait!
The Catholic Church might be very disappointed in America right now, what with all the gay marriage they've just OKed in state ballots (three states have ratified it, and one state slapped down an amendment to ban it) - but man, are they going to be miffed with Australia. In a move described by God Himself as "long overdue" and "seriously, what the hell?" Prime Minister Julia Gillard has launched a royal commission examining child abuse in churches, schools and other institutions - and while no-one's singled out the Catholic Church, that this comes in the wake of a fresh slew of allegations about abuse being covered up by the church in NSW is a bit of a giveaway. However, it's a comprehensive investigation, not a Catholic witch hunt, because Opposition Leader Tony Abbott made clear that he wouldn't support anything that singled out his own faith just because, y'know, of all those allegations against it. And we're not saying that indicates a tendency to put his beliefs ahead of the best interests of Australians, but maybe keep that little detail in the back of your mind for when you're in the polling booth next year.
Not that we want to stay on a theme here, and we're genuinely sorry to tell you this over your breakfast, but Elmo is embroiled in a sex scandal. Well, technically Kevin Clash - the muppeteer that has controlled the body and provided the gratingly annoying voice of the beloved children's character for the past 28 years - has departed Sesame Street on a temporary "leave of absence" in order to fight allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16 year old. Said 16 year old is now 23, and Clash (now 52) acknowledges the two had a sexual relationship, but not until after the boy was of age. "I had a relationship," Clash told TMZ. "It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not" – and it's worth noting that no criminal charges have been laid. Either way, Sesame Street have no plans to retire Elmo: prior to Clash the character was performed by Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) and, for the first few years as a regular on Sesame Street, by the late Richard Hunt (best known for Scooter, Janet and Sweetums on the Muppets).
Drum machines, man: they just don't got that human touch. Well, in what is the single best drum machine-related idea since New Order went "eh, just keep pressing the kick drum button for a bit" when recording 'Blue Monday', one Morris Simon Geist has created a "live" version of the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine, where the electronics of the machine trigger actual robot hands playing real instruments. And it's actually even better than that description sounds: have a look here.
Want to enjoy all the excitement of bagging a bargain while screaming "load, you bastard! Jesus, I already clicked on this twice! No! No, don't log me out - what the hell, the server's down?" and then tearing your eyes out with your bare, bloodied hands? Then good news! Next Tuesday evening Australia will be enjoying Click Frenzy, a retail discount fest based on the US's Cyber Monday, where major retailers including Myers, Dan Murphy's, Target and loads more will be offering low, low prices and showing off the inadequacies of Australia's online infrastructure in what they're hoping will be a pre-Xmas shot in the arm for the struggling retail sector. "The whole aim is to stimulate activity in the online retail space for the benefit of all Australian retailers whether they are online or multichannel," said organiser Grant Arnott, in the most unnecessarily buzzword-heavy statement possible, also using the term "couch commerce" in what is either a cry for help or a request for a swift kick somewhere sensitive and dangly.
While we're talking about things computery, in a case that sets a weird and likely very annoying precedent for Google, Melbourne man Milorad Trkulja has been awarded a $200k defamation payout after the mighty search engine that controls us all continued to publish photographs of him alongside Victorian gangland figure Tony Mokbel. Trkulja was shot in the back by a gunman while dining at a St Albans restaurant in 2004 and had been petitioning Google, Yahoo (who paid out $225k in damages earlier this year) and other search engines to cease linking him with the criminal since 2009. This might set a frustrating precedent for search engines being liable for the content of individual websites, sure - but on the plus side, if "Trkulja" becomes a common term for these sorts of suits, it'll herald a golden age for Scrabble enthusiasts.
SPF 30+, eh? That's wuss sunscreen. At least it is now, with the news that the Therapeutic Goods Administration have OKed the sale of SPF 50+ sunscreen in Australia, offering increased UVB protection of an admittedly marginal nature (the SPF scale is such that the higher the number, the smaller the actual increase in protection: big difference between 15 and 30, much smaller difference between 30 and 50 - so don't think smearing it on means you repel UV radiation like a force field, kids). And before you incinerate your old tubes, Victorian Cancer Council SunSmart manager Jen Makin points out that 30+ is still perfectly adequate: "It remains good quality sun protection. SPF50+ is simply a little better." And hey, while we're talking about this, you've checked your moles recently, right?
Things are going pretty much as you'd expect in the Middle East right now, with Israel now on its second day firing tank shells into Syria after a Syrian mortar lobbed close to an Israeli military installation in the Golan Heights, the demilitarised zone between the two nations. It's the first time shots have been fired between the countries in 40 years, running the risk of an all-out war. "Up until yesterday [Sunday], our assessment was that ordnance that had fallen in Israel was a spillover from the internal conflict inside Syria," an Israeli army official told UK newspaper The Guardian. "Our assessment has changed in the past 24 hours." The UN looks set to ramp up its military involvement in response which, given the state of Syria over the last ten months, might not be a freakin' moment too soon.
And finally… look, we don't want to keep going on about the US elections, it's nice to see the Simpsons a) giving it to their corporate overlords, and b) being funny. They've neatly mocked Karl Rove's desperate well-maybe-if-everyone-who-liked-Romney-just-voted-late-and-also-three-or-four-times-apiece refusal to concede to mathematical certainty on Fox News last week with this blackboard gag from their first episode since the election, which screened in the US yesterday. Not quite as pointed as their Fox slogan "Not racist: but #1 with racists", sure, but still good.
OK, one more: remember that guy who got the Romney/Ryan facial tattoo for $5000? Well, he totally doesn't regret his decision. Eric "Erico" Hartsburg, an independent pro-wrestler who has already dared to pass his genes on to the next generation, told blog Politico that he has "no regrets", because nothing says "hardcore" like accepting money to wear a failed political campaign symbol on your head for the rest of your life. And if you, like Twitter user Geaney3, think he might be a bit of an idiot, think again: "I love Mitt,tats n attn," he countered, like a modern day Oscar Wilde, "so 2 me its genious". Touché, Hartsburg. Touché.