February 18

Facebook has always sucked but maybe now you know it does for sure

This one’s going to be a short one because I have work to do, deadlines to meet. By now you might have heard that Facebook is blocking its Australian users from sharing links from anything it deems a news site. Caught up in the filter at one point or another were government websites, including sites that contained health information which is not important because it’s not like we’re in the middle of a global pandemic or anything*, the Bureau of Meteorology, indie literary magazines and even satire outlet The Betoota Advocate.

I can’t say any of this surprises me. When Facebook first started showing its, er, face in Australia I was extremely sceptical about its motives and super reluctant to get on board**. At the time it touted itself as a watercooler that brought together everyone you knew, which not only turned me off instantly as a serial social compartmentaliser, but also aroused my suspicions in the ‘if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product’ way.

Nevertheless, it persisted. The only way it could monetise itself was through advertising, which is why one in every four posts I see are ads, and through getting organisations to pay to boost their posts to their own audience. To incentivise this, they throttled organic views; an organic post that used to reach 16 in every 100 people who Liked the page now only reaches 4.

As with so many things, the first hit is free. They promoted the fact that brands and organisations could build communities on the platform for free and effectively communicate with them. And that was largely true. Until they tweaked the algorithm and made people pay to play.

This is a taste of how social media can control your life, by influencing what you see and don’t see and if you’re not getting information from a variety of sources – if you relied on waiting for a flawed algorithm to serve it up to you – then you know now how dangerous that can be for your news diet.

Facebook is a business, not a public service and we should never have put so much time, attention and resources into it as we have. The fact that it has now shown itself to be okay with serving a large portion of fake news while blocking access to people – not just media brands – sharing links to news sites should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

*Yes this is sarcasm.

**My friends started a Facebook Group called ‘People who think Adeline T or A Teoh should join Facebook’ and it was only because I had to join to be an admin for a work page that I’m there at all. Ironically, those friends have left the platform but I’m still there because I joined some groups that don’t exist off it.

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January 1

Films I watched in 2020

Got nowhere to track my movie-going so I get to put together an annual list. Some of these I’ve reviewed (hyperlinked).

At the cinema

  1. The Gentlemen
  2. The Rise of Skywalker
  3. Jumanji 2: The Next Level
  4. Little Women – twice
  5. Farmageddon
  6. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (French)
  7. Birds of Prey – twice
  8. Bit
  9. Queer Doc Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  10. Out Here Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  11. Sell By
  12. Trans Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  13. Asia-Pacific Queer Shorts (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  14. Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – twice
  15. My Queer Career (Mardi Gras Film Festival collection)
  16. Distance (Tagalog)
  17. Aniara (Swedish/English)
  18. Babyteeth
  19. Tenet
  20. Coffee or tea? (Mandarin)
  21. Flash Gordon
  22. Happiest Season
  23. Warrior Queen (Hindi/Marathi/English)
  24. Persian Film Festival Shorts Collection (Farsi)
  25. A Hairy Tale (Farsi)
  26. The Chess of the Wind (Farsi)
  27. Wonder Woman 1984

Released* online

  1. In my blood it runs (via Vimeo/inmyblooditruns.com)
  2. Enola Holmes (via Netflix)
  3. Disclosure (via Netflix)
  4. Proud (French) (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  5. Holy Trinity (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  6. Gossamer Fields (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  7. Gay Shorts (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)
  8. Lesbian Shorts (via Queer Screen Film Festival/Ferve)

*Widely released/first available in Australia in 2020. Older films and TV shows streamed online not listed.

You can see the effects of Queer Screen in the heavy queer content of these lists; not only was the Mardi Gras Film Festival the last major festival before pandemic caution hit my movie-going, they were also hella organised about running the Queer Screen Film Festival online in September.

By contrast, my viewing of foreign films really took a hit because the various festivals didn’t offer a streamed version; ironically three Queer Screen-curated films were foreign language and one of the British Film Festival movies I watched was in Hindi/Marathi as well as English.

I also saw more films that catered to the female gaze/with a feminine lens – in particular Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Little Women, Birds of Prey and Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – and they were truly the better films of the year.

Alongside that, I learnt to appreciate more whacky filmmaking from Bit and Holy Trinity to Coffee or Tea? and A Hairy Tale. Not sure what it says about mainstream movies that these four films were queer and foreign language.

I’m looking forward to going back into cinemas this year and I hope it will be safe sooner rather than later.

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December 26

5-question film review: Wonder Woman 1984

Why did you go see this film?

I thought 2017’s Wonder Woman was all right (actually Very Good compared to most of the recent DC fodder) and I wanted a little escapism these holidays.

What was the best thing about it?

The opening segment with young Diana competing in the Amazon’s athletic competition was thrilling to watch with a lesson well learnt by the end of it.

There were a lot of small jokes done really well: Steve’s ‘man out of time’ confusion as a 1910s pilot trying to adjust to the 1980s; coffee cup anecdote; “I wish to be famous”.

I kept seeing Maxwell Lord as an Hispanic Alex P Keaton? I guess that was deliberate?

What was the worst thing about it?

Really hard to choose but on a film level, I’m going to go with no chemistry between anyone who really needed chemistry to sell the story. I’ve always detested the romance between Diana and Steve and, as a lot of the plot hinges on this relationship, their lack of chemistry is rather grating.

I would also say Maxwell lacks chemistry with his son Alistair, and there are massive parts of the climax that rely on that relationship that just fall flat.

The most chemistry I see is between Diana and Barbara and we don’t get enough of them together – their fight scene as Wonder Woman and Cheetah seemed unnecessary by the time we get to that.

On a cultural level, it was problematic. A lot of the cultural tropes used to show the antagonists in Maxwell’s journey were lazy and stereotyped and just downright offensive.

I’ve also heard from the pro-Palestine community that Wonder Woman saving children in one action sequence was particularly on the nose considering Gal Gadot’s pro-Zionist stance but I don’t know enough about the context of that to elaborate further, please seek out a more nuanced take by better informed critics.

Who would you recommend go see it?

If you like something flashy with no substance, be my guest. You will probably see it because you’re curious about the reaction or not see it because you are boycotting Gadot.

If this film was a piece of clothing, what would it be?

Parachute pants: 1980s in flavour but effectively useless for slowing a plummet to earth.

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November 22

5-question film review: Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt)

Why did you go see this film?

I first heard about the development of this film, and watched an early teaser, via Queer Screen so I pitched $ in via Pozible. In addition to being Australian-made, what attracted me was that there are so few young adult queer rom-coms where coming out is secondary to other themes and I wanted this to see the light of the silver screen. Also I love Rachel House (who plays ‘aunt’ Patty – not the dead aunt).

What was the best thing about it?

The two leads, Sophie Hawkshaw (Ellie) and Zoe Terakes (Abbie), have real chemistry and really nail the swings between awkward and bolshie, jocular and tender in their interactions with each other and other characters.

The story is also genuinely moving. It has nicely timed dramatic moments that make the comedy a fantastic release.

What was the worst thing about it?

For a rom-com it could’ve done with more comedy but in the swing of things I thought the comedy worked well because of where it was placed in the scenes so they did a lot with what they had.

Who would you recommend go see it?

People who are interested in the interplay between queer history and how queerness emerges in the current generation; people who want to see a queer YA rom-com without coming out as the major theme.

If this film was an item of stationery, what would it be?

Ooh, glitter pen.

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November 11

5-question film review: Coffee or Tea?

This film was presented in Mandarin with English subtitles. The Chinese title for the film is 一点就到家 (Get Home at One Point), which I think translates to A Homecoming.

Why did you go see this film?

As a tea fanatic I was interested in the setting of the film, Yunnan, which is the birthplace of tea. It has also been a long time since I’ve seen a Chinese film and the trailer for this one looked like fun.

What was the best thing about it?

The slightly zany energy that infuses this film really makes an otherwise predictable narrative arc quite fresh. The themes feel familiar but the delivery makes it by turns more funny or more dramatic than it would be.

What was the worst thing about it?

Wei Jinbei (the ‘entrepreneur’ of the three) attempts suicide near the opening of the film and there’s nearly nothing you can do to prepare for that without a content warning.

Who would you recommend go see it?

This feels like a film for young Millennials/older Gen Zs who are not just inspired by entrepreneurialism but really want to live their life with authenticity. It also speaks to an audience who sees the mass migration of youth to the cities as a problem and is keen to see revivification of more remote villages.

If this film was a car, what would it be?

A novelty delivery van.

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June 22

Yours racially

I have altogether too many thoughts on the current spotlight on race to be coherent and comprehensive at the moment, so I’m going to be adding a bunch of stuff here as a sort of ‘contents’ page as they’re published, including previously published articles on diversity and cultural appropriation.

Here are some articles and essays you can read by other people in the meantime:


9 tips teachers can use when talking about racism
By Leticia Anderson, Kathomi Gatwiri, Lynette Riley and Marcelle Townsend-Cross

A White Damsel Leveraged Racial Power and Failed
By Ruby Hamad

Deflecting from the real issues of Black Lives Matter
By Osman Faruqi

Diversity in Australian film and TV: ‘I am limited to being a token’
By Ahmed Yussuf

Ex-Cop Brandon Tatum’s Success Doesn’t Disprove White Privilege
By Alex Kasprak

‘I knew that Jonah was me’
By Garry Maddox

Our Media Had A Chance To Fix Its Race Problem. It Blew It.
By Osman Faruqi

‘There are no more excuses’: six industry insiders on Australian TV’s problem with race
By Steph Harmon

They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist
By Jenny Zhang

This is not a critique. This is a condemnation.
By Likhain

Today’s standards
By Luke Pearson

Why I can’t hold space for you anymore
By Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures

Why so many black deaths in custody and so little justice?
By Joshua Creamer



It’s Shit to Be White [$]
By Michael Mohammed Ahmad

So White. So What.
By Alison Whittaker

Stewed Awakening
By Navneet Alang

The Great White Social Justice Novel
By Sujatha Fernandes

Image credit: The Martin Luther King mural in Newtown by Hpeterswald

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January 24

Their Little Lives

Dora died on a Monday night. Her limp white body felt smaller, lighter, than the square of paper towel we used as a shroud. We buried her in a Leggo’s tomato paste box in the front yard just as it began to rain. My partner, a 50-year-old man, cried as I piled the earth back over the hole. “She’s just a mouse… why do I feel so sad?”

As a pet mouse, Isadorable ‘Dora’ Cu Chi Coo was not expected to live a long life. The average pet mouse lives 18-30 months in good health and Dora was not well in the closing days of hers. Triply named after her cuteness, willingness to explore (à la Dora the Explorer) and a love of tunnels (Cu Chi in Vietnam), Dora embodied everything that was endearing about pet mice. She was not as bolshie as her cagemate Marlene ‘Peaches’ Dietratte, whose entire purpose in life was to hide from humans forever and, if she did get caught, to bite the hand that fed her. She was not as demure as Wilde, whose pensive demeanour reminded us of an aphorism by her namesake Oscar: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” She was sweet, loved being handled, and performed her duties as a cagemate well. And at nine months, died too young.

Peaches (on house), Wilde (coming out of house) and Dora (coming out of tunnel)

The first death is the deepest

The other two passed under the care of a mouse-sitter a year later while we were on holiday. The day after we returned home, I picked up their bodies and shed some tears with the sitter. Later, I wrapped them in an old cloth and buried them together in the front yard near to Dora’s grave. For some reason their passing didn’t impact me as much as Dora’s. Was it because Dora was my favourite and her death had been the hardest blow? Or had the first death primed me for the following ones?

People often think of mice as pets for children. They are easy to look after, good for smaller homes and teach kids about pet responsibility. But inevitably, their little lives mean children will need to face their deaths.

Death of a pet is often used as a teachable moment. It is commonly the first death a child will experience, and the manner in which parents handle the process of communicating the death, treating the dead animal and managing grief becomes a model for how the child might handle later encounters with death. This will also reflect the family’s values: religious parents may talk about how the pet has gone to God; avoidant parents might talk about the animal going to ‘the farm’ or ‘the forest’. Very young children find it very hard to understand death’s permanence, so it is crucial for them to understand that their pet will never wake up, or that an absent pet will never return.

Relationships also matter. I cried more about Dora than I did when either of my grandmothers died (one grandfather had passed before I was born, the other when I was too young to know him). Maybe it was because she was my colleague as I spent late nights at the computer so I felt a bond that I did not share with my grandmothers, who lived in another country, to whom I barely spoke. Perhaps it is because both grandmothers had lived full lives, they were old and their times had come, whereas Dora was barely halfway through an already short lifespan. Or it could have been that, as Dora’s caregiver, I may have been able to do more to save her compared to my grandmothers, who died in a foreign land.

About a month after we buried Peaches and Wilde I bought two boys, fuzzy Rex mice we called Arthur and Gustav after our favourite kings, one fictional, the other Swedish. Parenting guides are split on this practice. On one hand, having a new pet – especially with a different personality to the former one – can help with the grieving process. It takes the focus off the sadness of loss and reminds kids of the joy of having a pet again. On the other, parents need to avoid sending the message that an individual pet is replaceable.


As adults, we understood Arthur and Gustav would never be like Dora, Peaches and Wilde. While Arthur was timid and loved to be petted, Gustav spent the entirety of his time asserting his dominance over both his brother and his hapless human handlers. The military spirit of Gustavus Adolphus reigned within.

We had them a year before we holidayed again. An acquaintance who’d had mice as a boy offered to look after them. He lived closer than the mouse-sitter I’d used previously, and it was nice to know they’d be in friendly hands. I told him the story of my girls, priming him for the possibility that they might not make it through to my return and instructed him not to tell me if they passed while I was away.

Upon my return I learnt that Arthur had crossed over the rainbow bridge several days prior and had been buried in the park nearby. So it was recalcitrant Gustav I took home that day. He was in rude health considering the recent demise of his brother, but I’m guessing that if you only live for 18 months, ten days is a long time ago.

We formed an uneasy relationship. I couldn’t, of course, prove that Gustav had topped Arthur but suspected him of relentless bullying that probably contributed.

When he started hiccoughing, a sign of respiratory issues, he was 17 months old – one month shy of the line where I’d issue only palliative care. I took him to the vet.

One thing you don’t realise about vet waiting rooms until you walk in with a mouse is that it is full of animals much, much larger than yours, many of which are predators – not just watchful cats but adorable Yorkshire terriers and otherwise friendly rats. I was relieved when a vet called us in. I paid $200 for the privilege of her small pets expertise and a few millilitres of broad range antibiotics to be administered via mouth. I was also to buy a tin of Ensure, a nutritional supplement, and feed him manually because he would lose his appetite on the drugs.

Drugging and feeding a sick mouse who resents you is a thankless task. Because they are small, it’s difficult to hold them in a way that is both comfortable for them but allows you to force things they don’t want to consume down their throats. The only way to constrain them safely is to wrap them like a burrito in a hankie so they stop scrabbling. Eventually Gustav resigned himself to my ministrations and somehow, in my thrice daily care for him, I grew to love him.


About three months after he recovered, he relapsed. He started wheezing and losing weight so I defrosted the remaining Ensure and made enquiries of my pet-owning friends about drugs I could siphon to give him another fighting chance, although he had officially entered the palliative-care-only period. It was because of this close attention that I saw he’d developed bumps on his paws. They were not advanced enough to cause him to limp, but I suspected bumblefoot, a bacterial infection. I decided to disinfect his feet, so placed him gently in a takeaway container with a shallow pool of warm saltwater. As I dried his paws with a cloth, he drew his last breath, eyes still bright in the diffuse sun reflecting off the bathroom tiles. Did I drown him by accident? Did his lungs finally give out? Or was it multiple conditions ganging up to issue the final blow?

Gustav was not my favourite mouse, but his death hit me unexpectedly hard. I had been so involved in the last months of his life – we had grown strangely close to one another – that I seemed to take it more personally than any of the others.

I buried him in the front yard wrapped like a burrito in the cloth I’d been using as a towel. Within earshot, a real estate agent was showing a neighbouring apartment to prospective tenants. I didn’t care if they saw me dig the grave. I’ve never known a funeral to stop for a flat inspection.

This essay was shortlisted for the New Philosopher Writers’ Award, themed ‘Death’.


P.S: At the time of writing, I have two new Rex boys, Olaf (a Manx named after a former king from the Isle of Man)…

Olaf is ridiculously photogenic

…and Nero, who is quite a mild-mannered mouse considering he is named after the tyrannical Roman Emperor. Nero once cured himself of necrosis of the tail by chewing off the diseased bits.

Nero is much cuter in real life than he looks in photos

They are brothers and lived together for a while until Olaf insisted on picking fights, despite the fact that Nero is 15g bigger. They are now neighbours.

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November 19

In which I decide to get over myself

When I was 7, one of my favourite books was a tall joke book called, I think, 1000 Jokes for Kids. It had a bold blue cover with the title in large snazzy orange font and was roughly the dimensions of a foolscap sheet folded lengthwise.

One segment was a list of fictional books and fictional authors all with punny titles like ‘Songs for Children by Barbara Blacksheep’. I remember clearly one from the list because it was the first time I had ever seen my name in a book. The pun title was ‘The Unfinished Poem by Adeline Moore’.

Fast forward some decades and I’ve decided I’m not writing enough for myself. I know exactly why, too: I’m one of those writers who don’t like to show their work-in-progress. I hate admitting that I have half-baked ideas, I don’t like my foundation of knowledge to be too fresh. But what this does is stifle the natural learning process of working through an idea, an argument, a voice. I want to get over myself. I want to forgive all the mistakes I’m going to make before I make them, knowing I’m going to make them but also knowing that I need to make them to progress.

Bear with me. Prepare for changing perceptions as I uncover new information. Allow for paradigm shifts.

So here it is, my newly anointed blog: Unfinished writing by Adeline.

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