Thursday, 10 December 2015

secret: why writing, why words, why why?

So, I'm doing preliminary research for my Masters dissertation. It's going to be about creative leadership, creativity and the rhetoric specifically around female artists as leaders and role models - all to the end of pushing for a different view of traditional leadership, where the language we're using for narratives of creative leadership might be used in a broader manner to expand what we mean when we call someone a leader or a role-model.

Yeah, working on it. Stay tuned #musicpun

I'm reading some amazing stuff this morning about language. The reading that just blew my mind by verbalising everything I've felt about this has pointed out that "... it is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs" (this is Cheris Kramarae referencing Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, in fact).

I'm thinking about why I write. I'm thinking about how I write. I can feel my brain expanding. This is why I'll eventually quit my administrative desk job for an academic desk job (desks: a patriarchal construct? Discuss). I get all radical and want to explode the whole world open.

Laying it all out here: my biggest fear is not being heard, not being listened to, not being understood. Conversely, I am also very fearful of situations where I have many people listening to me, when I am dropped into a situation which requires an articulate response. In principle, I am very keen for critique and constructive criticism, but in practice, I'm not sure how I will do with it - will I be able to  listen to my feedback the entire way through before I interrupt to defend myself?

These feelings and fears, while being very real and formative in my life thus far, are, I'm certain, not at all unique to me, or even to these convenient categories of Gen Y, or Woman, or White. There's all the words in the world that I concede I have not read about this very thing, but fuck it, I'm talking about myself here, and I'm an expert on the subject matter.

My fears about not being listened to were self-perpetuated - I continually dated iterations of That Guy who thinks he's all about equality but actually does not care for me talking or taking up any space. A tiny person inside of a regular sized person (me) started to just constantly be screaming about this. Luckily for everyone else, but not so much for me, the screaming was internal.

WHY WON'T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME??????? - Ad nauseum, Ad infinitum. #isthatlatin?

I'd been a writer in high school. It was scared out of me by self-important privileged University of Melbourne assholes (spoiler: I was one of them too, I was just doing it wrong). I didn't think I'd read enough or knew enough to write anymore. I stopped for a while. Then, when I realised that even if nobody could give a flying fuck what I had to say (real high point of my mental health here, folks), I could write it down and read it back to myself, at very least.

A phenomenon I first noticed consciously as an out and out radical feminist undergraduate: put a collection of women in a room and you're hard-pressed to get a turn to speak. You can't get us to shut up our faces, at all. Another thing I started to notice: women speaking passionately about something get told to calm down and tone it down and turn it down and down down down. Plus all the bullshit about women's emotions and lack of rationality and our general triviality in that super-important thing we call life. Someone else decided what was trivial (and rational, and emotional). Most people in the world actually didn't get a say in that. Let that sit for a second, wouldya?

Somehow we learn to keep quiet, to defer to others. In my case, sitting in a living room and sharing my own story about experiencing the sharp bite of that goddamned patriarchy, be it emotional abuse or cat-calling or trying to feel beautiful/powerful outside of the constant messaging to the contrary, gave me some strength and some words back. Words of my own.

In my experience, women use words to connect. We may speak over each other, but it's not the interruption we know from the patriarchy. We overlap like waves do. We build upon each other, layers upon layers of tree bark and stories. Done in the best and warmest way, we build each other up. Interruption is a cancelling out of words - I'm not saying I'm not guilty of it - but those voices building up in that living room in Brunswick, those few times we made a point of trying out a women's group, those voices (mostly) cancelled nothing.

I started writing again to share while in Canada, and on and off I've kept it up. Why writing? While I agree that our language is oftentimes a flawed tool to use in expressing the big ideas that fall out of the brain onto a page, when you sit down to read something I've written, I am giving the directions. You have to listen to me. It's a game - I have to make you want to keep reading - but it's a game I'm happy to keep playing. Every time someone speaks to me about something I've written, or even just reads it, I win again.

I can sit here and name the patriarchy as the perpetrator of language that excludes, silences, even harms people; you're still here, reading me.

I can sit here and tell you that there's words I don't use anymore, to make my tiny little point. Just like there's things I don't eat anymore, to spread the ripples of change. I can let slip the fact that I want to change the world completely and I don't actually have to see your physical response to that. I can tell you I don't care about your stupid feelings and you are still reading me.

Maybe my next step is to say things bit louder, more publicly. Maybe it's to anticipate being misunderstood and just straight up not care about explaining myself (or agreeing to your explanation of myself to me).  That's what I mean about language restricting us. I would really like to start ignoring a few more rules. Not road rules (always use your indicators please), but those ones around how I'm allowed to use the words, how loudly I can say them, which ones I'm meant to say in public and which ones behind closed doors. I'm jumping on the bandwagon, the Feminist Agenda: YOU WILL BOW DOWN AND LISTEN TO US. Or maybe even LET'S LISTEN TO EACH OTHER PLEASE.

I'm not specifically wrapping up with a call to action here. Just talking my feels. Just trying to make you think what I'm thinking. Again.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Treasure: On social niceties and offensive content

**Trigger warning: domestic violence **

I was going to write an ‘I don’t care about your stupid feelings’ rant about something that happened in my life yesterday, but I’ve been getting progressively more riled up about it as this morning has gone on - excellent workout fuel, rage - and so I thought I’d grant myself the luxury of more than 250 words to talk this through. Do not confuse the point, however - I still do not care about your stupid feelings. On that sentiment I am unshakeable.

I’ll open with the takeaway point: jokes about domestic violence are not funny. Stop telling them and having them in your life. And in the world.

Seems obvious, right? Hurting a woman, or a man, or a child in a domestic context in a situation where one person has more power, whether real or perceived, physical or emotional, whatever it might be, is clearly not fodder for a joke.

But wait: the Internet. All the trolls and bottom-dwellers and scum feeders of the Internet are here! See how they make you lose your faith in humanity! Marvel as they undertake an insidious campaign to lower the lowest common denominator! Leaping to misogyny in a single bound!

Yesterday afternoon I was hanging out with some friends drinking a beer and shooting the shit when one of the boys passed around his phone with a Funny Thing on it that someone had found on the internet and texted to him. Commonplace - this is how we interact now. I did it too; later in the night I made my friend watch a funny video someone had sent me. It’s how we do.

This person says to me as he looks over: “I don’t think you’ll like this” and proceeds to pass it around the other men at the table. As it gets some laughs, of course I also want to laugh at the thing. I like to laugh at things. Already I am well aware I am the only woman at the table of 6 of us. I look at it. It is a meme made by the afore-mentioned Internet persons that I won’t replicate, except to note that the punchline is “You hit her.” I groan and laugh half-heartedly (as some of the others at the table have done). This person finds another meme, we follow the same routine except that I decline to look. Because FUCK YOU, GUY. And because I am already uncomfortable enough at 1: having given any reaction that could be interpreted as positive or acquiescent to the first meme, and at 2: knowing the exact nature of what the laughter, even if awkward and forced, is about.

I say "groan and laugh half-heartedly", I say “awkward and forced" because I know two of the other people at the table well enough to know they don’t think it’s ok to hit women. I’d hazard a guess on my reading of the other two and say they probably don’t think so either.

I’m not really here to talk about why domestic violence is bad, although I will note that in Australia, around one woman dies a week as a result of domestic violence. In South Africa, a woman dies every 8 hours by an intimate partner (I’ve referred to a few sites for this information, but feel free to fact check and do further reading). I am going to assume we’re all on the same page in thinking this is bad and sad.

I’m not here to talk about the underlying indication that sharing a joke like that shows a person may think that hitting women is funny or ok.

I’m not even really here to talk about why you should think twice (or a million billion times) before engaging in something so triggering and thoughtless as sharing a joke with an audience who may very well have experienced affects of domestic violence themselves. Statistically, one of us at the table will have had it touch our lives in some way.

I’m here to talk about how we deal with the social situation I’ve outlined above, given the very real and ongoing problem that is domestic violence. I just want to know how it is still ok to pass around a joke with a domestic violence punchline. Why did I give a response that could be read if not as encouraging then still not as disagreement? I’m a fucking feminist for fuck’s sake.

I know within myself that there’s plenty of reasons. I was the only woman at the table. There was an air of comfortable shit-talking and lols that did not lend itself to me “making a fuss”. I like the company of people who identify as men; I have brothers, and I love to talk nonsense and make jokes and generally do the thing where I get to feel safe, respected and comfortable in a group of people. I didn’t want to make a point about anything. I wasn’t geared up for it. I wasn’t even prepared for it. I thought I was among like-minded friends.

I didn’t know what would happen if I did say a Feminist Thing, because the person sharing the joke was not a person I knew. This person did, however, know he was behaving inappropriately on some level: he told me I wouldn’t like it. If I’d said something, would I have had it pointed out to me that he’d warned me I’d be offended (not in so many words), making him blameless in my offense? I do not know. I feel like there’s a clue there though: if you know it’s going to offend someone at the table, maybe keep it to your-fucking-self.

I'm not giving this actual specific person much more thought beyond using the example. I'm not pointing fingers. This is not the intention of this post. When I'm strong and prepared, I see everyday misogyny basically as opportunities for rants, gentle social ostracism and learning curves. Make no mistake though, it is misogyny at it's most pervasive.

There are so many reasons not to let this kind of behaviour continue in your social circle. There are so many reasons for any one of us to speak up. It’s breaking that complicit cycle. It’s staring down the face of social awkwardness and saying “that’s not funny”. I know how hard it is to do. I’ve just admitted I wasn’t tough enough to do it. But I quietly live for those days where one of my friends doesn’t laugh awkwardly and instead says “nah, we don’t want to see that sort of thing mate, not interested. Not funny”. There are even non-verbal ways you can start off, discouraging by disengaging, or shit, even by making the person sharing the joke feel awkward. I don’t mind a bit of eye contact with someone in the circle who you know is an ally, followed by a raised eyebrow or an eye-roll if you’re feeling sassy. It’s not quite a call-out yet (and that’s the ultimate), but maybe it re-routes a conversation, which is a nice start. We can be gentle in our disagreement if that’s the approach we choose. That’s ok. We can also yell and rage and write all the blog posts. That’s ok too. Change the fuck out of that social fabric.

I quietly live for the day where it doesn’t matter whether or not there are “ladies" present (by this I mean the good old “what they don’t hear can’t hurt them” approach); misogyny still gets called out and rejected. That’s powerful to me, and it says to me that the person speaking up is an ally. Let’s all be allies for each other! Let’s call out a bit of racist, homophobic and ableist behaviour while we’re at it! Let’s take over the fucking world by being People Who Are Not Arseholes.

Sometimes this happens in my actual life and I am proud and powerful because of it. It feels really good to stand up for something. Sometimes the good feeling comes after the awkwardness passes, but let it come. Take a second. Quietly congratulate yourself (if you’re waiting for someone else to, check your motives), think “that wasn’t so hard” and then do it again, forever and ever.

And I will try and do the same.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

film review: mission impossible: rogue nation

firstly, sign me up for the Mission Impossible cardio workout. a fuckload of running, core strength built up by sudden changes in direction on the cobblestoned streets of overseas locations, bit of squats and knife play... sure, there's someone shooting at you the whole damn time, but that's just to motivate.

abs of steel in 6 to 8 weeks, I hear.

the latest offering from this bajillion-dollar franchise wasn't shy in coming forward with the inevitable opening action sequence (Tom Cruise on the outside of a plane while it's in the air, yo). I like a bit of ridiculous theatrical tension (is the door going to open in time? well is it?) safe in the knowledge that they cannot possibly kill off Ethan Hunt (Cruise's character, for the players at home who have been living under a rock) in the first 10 minutes. just once I'd like to see one of the big names killed off right at the start, in the style of Scream's treatment of Drew Barrymore. I'm not saying we have to kill Ethan Hunt, but we could at least think about it. Way less Tom Cruise that way.

this is the 5th Mission Impossible movie. I missed Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol but I can only assume that the IMF got some ghosts on board to help them solve crimes or whatever because ghosts have mad spy skills. I have actually seen the other 3 because of my weakness for watching things exploding (may have mentioned this in my review of Mad Men - soothes my hungover soul). say what you like about Tom Cruise, he seems to be good at action movies. still, do say what you like about him, for it is fun to be mean about a very rich white male scientologist who is short. this is his main weak point as a person, as far as I can tell. not all the weird scientology shit where he keeps his wives captive and believes things that are actually insane. gloss on by that, let's chat measurements.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is not just about breaking into stuff to steal things or double triple double agents with a side of silk dresses which need to be cut high into the crotch for practical reasons, and it's not just about physical fitness or how long you can hold your breath. It's about the politics of the international spy world (which, as far as I can tell, needs some serious mediation prefaced with some solid icebreaker work). It's about the advancement of technology where you can wear a wetsuit with a thing on it saying how much oxygen you have left in your lungs. I don't think this is a spoiler because I'm not going to tell you how much oxygen or how much time people held their breath for.

As usual I did my woman count. I say woman because there was one woman in the whole fucking movie.

Whatever, Helen. Women aren't very good spies. What about when they have a baby or get their period or something? Nobody wants to deal with that shit. Women are out of control; why, even that one woman they let be in the movie was a rogue one. I still don't know if she was a goodie or a baddie, and we need to know that stuff. Note: female spies get sweet gadgets like a lipstick that is also a USB. So it's pretty fair all round really.

Begrudging points for the kick-arse motorbike stuff that female lead Rebecca Ferguson as fairly quiet but deadly efficient Ilsa Faust pulled off, literally leaving Ethan Hunt in Moroccan dust; for the knife fight where she was paired evenly with a male agent (I keep forgetting they're called agents now - spy is such an outdated term) and more than held her own; and a small happy cheer for the lack of romantic crap driving the plot. But seriously: one actual woman? yikes.

Special mention goes to use of a variety of locations (Morocco! Underwater! London! London again!) as well as a few well-placed jokes and some very convincingly placed BMWs. SO many BMWs. A black one. A white one. A van. Some motorbikes. They were almost like the 6th or 7th character of the story. Probably male ones but.

I'd like to put forward a brief note on Tom Cruise's face, which is that it makes me really very mad when I look at it. A blessing, really, that action movies don't require a lot of close-ups. I'm not violent, generally, but it's a face I'd feel ok about hitting.

With that in mind this movie gets 2.5 stars. Right in the middle. See it if you like, but you could also wait and watch it in about a year and spend the whole time not sure if you've seen it already. I know that's what I'm going to do.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

film review: Magic Mike XXL

I'll tell you what's awkward: when you get to a point in your life where you get cocky (yes, pun intended, you're welcome) that you know what sort of movie the sequel to Magic Mike, that documentary about the profession of male stripping from 2012, will be... and you're wrong in almost every way.

I'll tell you what else is awkward: when you walk out of Magic Mike XXL and the first thing you say is "there really could have been more stripping". This was the mission of this creative masterpiece of a sequel: as many abs as possible. Some more of Ginuwine's Pony. Channing Motherfucking Tatum, for days.

Everyone, I'm just going to say it. Don't see this movie, there is not enough male nudity.

It also sucks in a wide collection of other ways. There are far too many minutes in this movie (115, to be exact) with no music, for a start. I want the up and coming club hits playing pretty much the whole time. I want there to be some puns. I want the characters to either have no back story or an over-used character trope. I don't want some half-assed shit about a guy's dream to run a truck that dispenses probiotic frozen yoghurt. I kid you not. An actual thing from this movie.

There are also far too many minutes in this movie where everyone is like, sitting around. I thought it was going to have aspects of the comedy and self-deprecation when the core cast all went nuts on MDMA early in the piece and did silly things, but then there's dead air for an hour. With the metaphorical crickets chirping and tumbleweed blowing down the main street.

What I want to know is, how the ACTUAL FUCK did Donald Glover (Childish Gambino, Community) get himself involved in this absolute train wreck (side note: previewed the trailer for upcoming Judd Apatow movie "Trainwreck" starring Amy Schumer; looks fantastic) of a movie? He is a successful artist. He wears hats so well. He has such a nice face. Why Donald? Why?

All the men are very muscular and tanned in that charming way that has more than a hint of the orange skin tone about it. They've all got a little older, but they're still keeping it tight. There are all these carefully sculpted muscle groups that aren't doing what they do best: being bared to the world.

Let me be very clear: I understand this level of fitness and muscle definition is not realistic for us people of the real world. I understand that objectification of anyone is ultimately destructive when it puts the kind of pressure on us all to strive for something we'll never be. But if I'm paying for entertainment and I've expected something, it's just so hard to recalibrate my expectations. That's really what's upsetting here. I'm not sure if it's the patriarchy's fault, but that's who I'm going to blame.

That and the incredibly poor writing that didn't even bother to leave holes in the plot, it just skipped out on plot all together. Now we're at the beach. Now we're in the forest. Now we're in the South. Now we're

Oh wait I don't care anymore.

Loyally I will note and applaud the high quality of Channing Tatum's dancing. I like Channing, I really do. He tends to say a good collection of feminist things in a fairly inoffensive way (rather than the "look at me, I thought a feminist thing, where's my gold star and my free pass to be a sexist asshole?") in the public space. I like how his character, the eponymous Mike, incorporated his work with his male entertainer past in this excellent trailer from the movie:

Actually, listen: if you just watched the above you have now seen all the best parts. Don't fall into the trap of wanting more: there is no more that is any good.

Just so bad, you guys. Take away feels from this movie: why won't you stop talking and dance?! Also, all the dollar bills on the stage bothered me - it didn't feel safe. Someone could have slipped on there.

It gets no stars. I even feel bad for making you read my review, but if I managed to stop just one person who is expecting lols and eye candy underscored by some sick tunes paying to see this shit, my work here is done.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the king of the world and the boss of everything: a think piece on Terminator: Genisys.

Dear everybody, everywhere: Arnie, amiright?

I went to see the latest instalment in the Terminator franchise last Thursday with a small gang of people. It was opening night: we got there early. We won: we got the best seats in the house (if you promise not to take them from me, I will tell you which ones they are: the ones just up from the aisle. You can put your feet up and nobody’s head is in front of your face). We probably could’ve cruised in there a little later in the night, like 5 to 20 mins, but I have no regrets. 

So the thing about the Terminator movies is this: lower your expectations. Good and low? Just lower them a little more. Allow a moment of thought about the sheer amount of pressure riding on the poor poor cast, writers, director, producers. The huge amount of money the film needs to make. The fucking creative pressure of the daily grind, man. 

Lower the expectations just a little bit more. 

And here we go: into the past but also firstly into the future, but then also the past is different because of a Terminator from the future but not as far into the future as the current future we’re in. Or maybe - not sure. But the important thing is that we’re in the past for long enough to revisit the first movie, take your name down flip it and reverse it, and then off we go into another future that’s again, not as far into the future as we were before, at the start of the movie. And a belated spoiler alert to you, my friends.

The year was something. 2017 I think. Gotta fix the thing before it happens, but also don’t forget the system is there to wreck your plans before you wreck its plans because TECHNOLOGY AND CAPITALISM. 

I’m really confused with how clever I’ve tried to be about this, so I might quit while I’m behind but also slightly ahead.

I actually loved the last Terminator movie, "Terminator: Salvation" which was possibly more about Sam Worthington than is strictly allowed. Actually I can justify it by stating I’m supporting local produce - I mean artists - and we’re good here. Solved. I’m not sure if it will stand up to a rewatching, but now I’ve thought about it, I probably will re-watch. For science.

I’m always going to enjoy popular cultural explorations of dystopia, however stilted the acting is (although now I wonder if I maybe missed the point of them being stilted as something about being influenced by the machine-driven world in which they have to survive… do we buy that? Let’s, for now) and however many mans they manage to list in the opening credits before Emilia “Khaleesi” Clarke gets her mention. So, #justfeministthings: I think because of Mad Max (you can read my very very fond review of that masterpiece here), all the action blockbuster type movies are being held up to a feminist/quasi-feminist looking glass at the moment. Which I think, overall, is fucking fantastic. We need the general public to start being a little more “hey what’s up with there being almost only men in this movie?”. I support this sentiment, clearly. 

Unfortunately for Clarke (and I’m just going to say it because I SAY WHAT I WANT), the woman of the movie, the giver of all life and whatever, she just did not deliver great acting. It was like Khaleesi stumbled through some hair dye (or took off her wig, because that bleach-blonde hair is not a real thing) and into an 80s city with the keys to a mail truck and a big old pile of guns. And zero dragons. Maybe I wanted too much from her; maybe I didn’t lower my expectations of her enough. Her resemblance to Linda Hamilton who played Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie is pretty excellent, but I just didn’t quite believe it. Also, it still ended up being a bit about her boobs.

Don’t get me wrong even for an instant: great boobs. Don’t anyone dare tell me she doesn’t do her own boob work, my feelings will be irrevocably hurt. At least tell me she provides her own silhouette boob (you’ll know it when you see it).

I like the idea of Sarah Connor being a central figure, but it doesn’t come off as genuine. Partly the boob thing, partly the lack of dimensions (haha not boob dimensions you all, the other kind - character dimensions) - we didn’t get much insight into her motivations, we didn’t get to see her as much of a human - I didn’t see half as many flaws and internal conflicts as I would have liked to, given the premise of her role in the whole saga.

Anyhow. Let’s move on and talk about Arnie. It makes me happy. It’s really all I have to say. The guy has almost no range and still manages to steal the show (and govern a fucking state, right?) while oftentimes having bits of his face missing or being digitally altered or being naked.

I just want to observe that the guy did not skip leg day. Like, ever.

I like how he brings this little tweak of humour to his role - it’s like he knows how silly he is but he’s also like “come on guys, sometimes just being a politician is so hard… I need this”. Also, what would the franchise even be without the guy? You know I’m right. Also have to concede in light of overwhelming evidence that I am a sucker for an accent - even a German one, even after everything (not a reference to the war, btw).

Overall (see how keenly I have avoided spoilers, by failing to discuss most of the plot and other characters) I think you should all see it, but don’t care too much. I mean, care if you must, but care sparingly. Find joy in the self-referential. The explosions, of which there are many. Enjoy that thing with the plot twist. And I don’t think I’ll ruin it too much by mentioning this excellent joke, which I have to thank Phill for reminding me of:

“What do we want? Time Travel. When do we want it? It’s irrelevant!”

2 stars: one for Arnie and one for making me paranoid about Apple, which is a story for another time (I’m writing this on a MacBook).

Thursday, 11 June 2015

film review: Jurassic World

DINOSAURS, everybody.

The real spoiler here is that there is no universe in which I was not going to like this movie. I'm well aware that I'm not alone in this love: last night as I floated between dinner and drinks, all the people I ran into (all good ones, yay) expressed envy at my plan to see Jurassic World ASAP, which was 10am today. They were jealous. I was Not Sorry.

There's a race to write this review as I've just started downloading Jurassic Park and I want to finish writing before the download is done, which gives me about 15 minutes.

First let's talk about the font. It was vintage Jurassic Park circa 1993 with a modern twist. Streamlined. Silver instead of red. Classic, "rebooting a franchise" silver. I smelled money. I was ok with it.

Secondly: The preamble to disaster. I love the part where they set the scene. They were all "we've learned from the mistakes of ninety three, this is state of the art glass, cement and helicopters. We have holograms, bitches. We will not be falling into the traps those idiots from before failed to consider. We got this. Look: we built a bigger fence". And I was all "shut up and let's skip to where the dinosaur escapes".

Third: Chris motherfuckin Pratt. The raptor-whisperer. I don't want to spoil everything in this dramatic cinematic thriller masterpiece, but in the trailer you will note that there's a badass scene where he's riding a motorbike and the raptors are running with him, not after him - that's all I'll say. I've only really seen him in comedic roles and his action acting is fine, my only note is that I'd have liked more jokes.  To be completely fair about it, there probably wasn't time. His forearms made up for the lack of jokes. I'm ok with this objectification because muscular forearms are a practical thing when it comes to kicking ass and taking names, and ultimately what is really attractive about Chris (first name basis, yep) is how he just helps people and cares about animals. And that's an attractive quality for all humans to have. Solved.

And also: Bryce Dallas Howard (playing Claire Dearing, who is Park Operations Manager, I'd like to quietly point out she had one job...) Does All The Things in Heels. Much conversation to be had here - me and my fellow female movie-goer companion friend Kate took a quick poll in the interests of science and research and fairness, and ultimately agreed that running away from reptiles that were originally extinct literally millions years ago and have been reanimated with rather shakily-explained DNA might be made unnecessarily complicated by high-heeled shoes. So silly. But also, you know, aspirational. Women need goals.

Another thing: I love how many things get broken. I love it. Break all the hospitality infrastructure! Ruin all the sculptures! All that metal that holds the buildings together somehow? Wreck it all! This movie must be seen on a big screen at least once. Just for the destruction and the dinosaur chases on a large scale. Don't deny it - do it.

Something else, a significant point I think: It's hard to re-do a beloved franchise. I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the formative experience that was Jurassic Park. It was the first movie I saw on a big screen. My grandma, who took us all, must have wanted us to have the worst nightmares...What a  meanie. While I probably wasn't as scared this time around (raptors in the kitchen, anybody? I was 8 years old when I saw that shit. Nobody comes back from that without metal cupboard-based trust issues) I still got that exhilaration I associate with that first movie-going experience. I'm certain that most of the people I know have a Jurassic Park story, in fact, I've heard a few great ones already. I am happy to recommend this movie to all you people with your fond memories.

An extra thing: Indominus Rex, amiright? You'll know it when you see it. Might name my firstborn Indominus.

The final point: They actually learned nothing. 'They' is the people running the park now (who frequently reference Jurassic Park circa 1993, so it's not like they've had it wiped from their minds). There was a 'what not to do' and they thought they knew better. The dinosaurs obviously had other ideas. I'd like to get worked up about this, but the honest fact of the matter is that I'm glad they fucked up (I don't think this is a spoiler because if you care at all about Jurassic World you will have watched all the trailers for it like I have, and you know a dinosaur ruins some things. Don't be mad) - the huge mistake they made was a great movie-making opportunity. I can't blame them for it. I ate that shit right up. I'll probably see it again and give them even more of my money.

5ive stars. It was 4.5, but then there was this picture of Chris Pratt. His waistcoat has so many pockets and is so practical, he earned the film the extra half-star.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

film review: Entourage

10 minutes into the Entourage movie it's clear I've made a terrible mistake.

I'd like to be a bit philosophical about this, or to perhaps have gone to see this movie for some lofty purpose - feminist analysis, #notallmen etc, but it's not true. I went because it was on at 11:15am and that seemed suitable, and I like to keep in touch with the people and their blockbusters. But wow. Honestly, I am generous in my above indication that it took me 10 minutes to dislike.

(Sorry for fans of Entourage, I mean, why are you reading my blog, but sure, sorry. Promise I won't spoiler it for ya - there's so many unpredictable twists and turns and what kind of monster would I be? etc.) 

I concede that I have watched some Entourage in my time. Perhaps most of the first season even. It had a bit of celebrity drop-in novelty and actually didn't seem to take itself too seriously. A bit of self-referential whatever and things. Watchable. Plus I always had a thing for Adam Grenier after that fucking fantastic teen classic, Drive Me Crazy. Now that is a good time. I recommend it to you all. Some of you may hate it and me, and be inspired to write your own reviews. While it is not my job to inspire such creativity I suppose this is a burden I must bear, and you are welcome.

I digress. Firstly, I find it difficult to deal with tv shows becoming movies for the basic fact of my being used to them on a small screen and 22 minutes long and now they're on a big screen and they go forever and they've done things to the opening credits to make them sort of the same but different (I'm also looking at you, Sex and The City). This complaint may be a personal flaw in me and my failure to think big, so I caution you to take it with a grain of salt.

Because (I'm guessing... I'll do that a bit in this review as I have no desire to fact-check my assumptions when it comes to Entourage specifically) it's been a while since there's been Entourage on tv, all the characters get to walk on to the movie like they're guest stars entering set on a sitcom, expecting applause from the studio audience - like when Brad Pitt was on Friends, or other such examples. There's this pause when they walk into a scene that makes me want to yell out "we don't care" - but I couldn't fairly speak for the other 2 people in the cinema, plus I didn't even care enough to vocalise it. The cast all looked older though, which is what lead me to assume time had passed. Yep, I'm basically Sherlock.

One or two points to make with something of a feminist bent: the women in this movie were really really only there to be fucked. Even the ones the 5 main male characters of the show were in love with: there to be fucked. Many of the women who appeared didn't get to speak, which was probably to their advantage as the speaking women were just being all bitchy by demanding things and trying to make fairly valid points about how the 5 main male characters were being complete dicks. Bitches, amiright? It already bores me that this is Entourage's 'thing', because nah. Not good enough. 

Cast: white, wealthy, male. Millions of dollars, nice cars, pool parties, boats. Nobody learned any kind of lesson of any kind. Nobody portrayed any sort of reality or insight into life that made me feel any differently about anything.

There. Done with that.

Random unexpected highlight: the "where are they now" situation where Haley Joel Osment (the kid from The Sixth Sense) pops up as a Texan billionaire's son. He grew a beard! He has a funny Texas accent! I wonder if he still sees dead people! While googling Haley just now to check how you spell his last name (ok, so I am doing a little fact checking) I found a lot of internet commentary about child movie stars who grow up to be funny-looking. Not that it matters, but they're not wrong. He's destined to play funny-looking folk for a good long while yet, and more power to him for it. We need more funny-looking role models.

There's sex and drugs, but not regularly enough for it to be any more than mildly titillating - speaking of which, just so many boobs. If you like boobs, go just for the boobs. As mentioned earlier, most of the boobs don't even talk, which makes things easier. There's a bit where someone sneaks some drugs into someone's water bottle and nothing crazy even happens, there's just some sex (and more boobs). Seriously, bunches of boobs. Comes with a warning though - if you like a bit of plot with your boobs you are in the wrong place.

The soundtrack is mainly hiphop which I believe goes nicely with all the weed we need to remember they smoke from watching the tv show - you wouldn't know it in the movie. I just want to sit them down and be like "listen, kids - decide about if you're really going to get into drugs or not. Stop hovering in the middle ground. You're wasting your time and mine". Yes, it has come to this - I wish there was more drug use. The craziest thing that happened was probably the Haley Joel Osment appearance, and it's not enough. Where were the tigers? The wacky aunt? The dead people?

I'm fairly sure that whatever the obstacle to be overcome is, they overcome it. I can't remember and I watched it about 4 hours ago. Pretty sure Mark Wahlberg can't remember either, and he was the producer and (huge spoiler alert, sorry) made a 5 line cameo appearance. Plus it's based in his life I think. I don't know. I don't know anymore.

I give it a quarter of a star. 

Day 5: Finally, a poem

sneaking out of Melbourne
just as i start to get blisters from my boots.
if there's a metaphor in that
i'm too hungover to know it.

Day 4: More breakfast.

Visiting Melbourne is equal parts friends, coffee, the Sticky Institute, trams and breakfast. When I manage to make two or more of these things overlap I feel like a successful human. I needed to feel a bit successful after the hungoverdom of Day 3. I did it by way of Dave, Kevin and Beth and Auction Rooms in North Melbourne. Every person I mention having breakfast in North Melbourne to always responds with “oh, Auction Rooms?”, like it’s a given. It’s how I know I’m on the right track. 

My favourite awkward aspect of my life that is a constant is ordering things in cafes and restaurants. I am hopeless at this. There are some key ways to be bad at being a customer, and here are my personal favourites:

  1. Have everyone turn up at different times, and get seated then ignored for reasons based on not explaining yourself clearly when you were seated. Curses to the attendee who turns up 10 minutes earlier than everyone else and needs the caffeine to be able to explain things about how she needs caffeine and what kind specifically she needs - see points 2 - 5. Classic catch-22, my friends.
  2. Mumble your order. Ensure this means that the person serving you has to ask you to repeat your order at least twice more. Make sure each repetition is a bit louder but still retains the quality of the original mumble. It’s important that both parties smile politely and helpfully at each other while you obliterate this exchange of information.
  3. Change your mind about what you want to order as the person taking your order gets to the table. Even better, change your mind as you open your mouth to order. Make sure your order comes out as a question due to your internalised shock at how you’ve slipped in an order game-changer at the last minute. “I’ll have a flat white on soy and the mushrooms?” you ask, effectively requiring that this person, who is not actually responsible for these sorts of decisions in your life, feels compelled to affirm your choice. 
  4. Cafe-specific: Lack awareness of all the different parts of your order the cafe staff need to know in order to create a coffee for you. Not only do you need to choose milk or no milk, you need to choose the type of milk, you need to specify espresso or filter, you need to choose the kind of beans based on the daily special or the house bean. You need to pick a size. This part actually stresses me out so much that I hadn’t tried a lot of things until I had friends working at my favourite local cafe to patiently recommend and suggest to me some alternatives to try. Bless ya, Paddy and Ellen.
  5. Forget they’re going to ask you how you’d like your eggs and stop listening or interacting with the person taking your order because you firmly believe you have sorted yourself out to have something at least vaguely edible coming your way. Completely tune out to the point where all the other people at your table are snapping their fingers in your face to bring you back to earth. Jerk to attention and then basically yell “Oh! Poached! Thanks!” at the poor person taking your order.
  6. Eye contact. Too little or too much, but make sure it’s the wrong amount. I like to go for too little when the person taking my order is so attractive that it’s clear they’re probably also an actor or an artist with a studio and a loft and maybe they write poetry and they’re just looking to meet someone special and they didn’t ever EXPECT to meet someone while they were working but life is crazy that way and when is too soon to ask for a number and do they like Thai food and… you know. So: no eye contact with the hotties, but laugh at their jokes whenever possible. Make too much eye contact with the friendly ones (it’s rare that hot ones are also friendly, but if they are, rule 1 still applies) to the point where it’s a staring competition and nobody actually wins anything. 
  7. Want more coffee and be weird about getting their attention to order more. In a perfect world, cafe staff notice as the final sip of coffee touches your lips and pop over to casually ask if you’d like another. As an aside, how many times in this scenario do they suggest coffee and you accept before they cut you off for being too caffeinated? Can you get cut off in a cafe? Must ask someone about this. In the real world, cafes are way too busy for that level of attention. I never want to be the dick who is like “um excuse me? We’d like more coffees?” (note, this is not really a question), but how to ask, how to ask… Engaging eye contact (tricky in consideration of the above point re: attractive staff) and hoping for the best is how I’ve approached this situation. Never not awkward, but I always mainly end up with more coffee, unless I surprise myself and order a mocha that will probably over-caffeinate and possibly kill me.
  8. Draw out the last coffee or bite of breakfast so long that the very busy cafe staff just give you the bill. 
  9. Split the bill - cards, cash, incorrect change - throw it all in there.
  10. Exit via the crowded entrance: hit everyone on the way out with your incredibly full handbag (why is it so full? what the fuck do you have in there?) and blissfully ignore the glares until you get outside and realise what you’ve done.

There are many many more ways to be an awkward customer in cafes and restaurants, but these should be enough to get you started if this is a course of action you’re interested in. 

There was more to this day: there was customer based awkwardness in Fitzroy and in Brunswick. I also nearly ‘bitch-please’d a person in a bar for not believing that I wanted Laphroig in my whisky drink. Sometimes it’s not me that’s the awkward one. Sometimes I know exactly what I want. 

A special bonus round of awkwardness at Auction Rooms: the girl at the counter looked familiar to me, so I said “oh, Hi!” in that bright and familiar way you do when you’ve forgotten someone’s name but are making up for it with smiles. She was bright and friendly back. I sat down, rifling through the mental catalogue of uni and work friends for her greater context in my life. I hadn’t had coffee yet. The rifling continued. I stared at her a little more to get the synapses firing. 

Halfway through greeting the friends that had just arrived, I realised I knew her from TV: a role in Josh Thomas’s “Please Like Me”. It’s a great show - you should check it out.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Day 3: Hungover on trams


Hungover on trams: second-guessing tram stops and getting off too early - power walking Errol St to make it to a breakfast where (thankfully) my breakfast companion turns out to also be hungover.

I try to make things work with long blacks, but it's the Bloody Mary on gin that gets it done, albeit temporarily. We both just can't even, and I'm warmed by the simple joy and companionship of a silly hungover friend. We laugh at our fucking hopelessness in that way you do when you wouldn't change any of your choices of the previous night. I drank 6 different things and at some incredible fried cheese. She (probably) kept drinking because there was a boy there. We're the same, and we're not sorry.

We wobble home after I gallantly finish her Bloody Mary (on vodka, mind you) to make up for where she failed. We moan while we drag ourselves home in a continuous zombie motion, moans punctuated with laughter at the plight of two 30 year old (almost; very nearly) women who cannot quite nail their shit down.

She goes upstairs to her bed and I lay face down on mine, fully clothed, for 15 minutes. I think about reasons to stay where I am, but the promise of the city (for me, glamorous and not a little fleeting) is too much. I put on mascara in the hope that fixes something about my face so not everyone will know about the choices I have recently made.

I have pink headphones to keep me company during the hours of city. I break up my wanderings with stops to my regular visits; the zine store below Flinders and Degraves where the tiny undergrad Arts students taking Asian Film and Cultural Studies courses let me interrupt and chat knowingly about racist lecturers. I pretend I am also 20 and filled with the idealism I remember from another life I had. 

Hangover persists. I try a cider; I chase it with a phone call from a friend. I buy magazines at Mag Nation and my correct change is the best flirting I can muster for the handsome hipster behind the counter. He compliments me on my something (I forget to listen in the panic of registering a compliment) and I smile-mumble my way out of the store to a cafe to mainline coffee. I try to go to a Bowie exhibit that doesn't start till late July. I find a few beautiful vintage dresses that I don't know how to get around trying on, so I just don't. I'll be regretting this decision even as I'm sitting on the plane flying out of the city.

I eat a burrito and there's so much capsicum in it that everything is ruined. The fact it's vegan makes me feel like I haven't completely failed at this day, but I'm not sure why. There's no fun making healthy choices when capsicum comes and fucks shit up.

I leave the city behind for friends and Japanese and wine and small boys who straighten out my hangover like no-one and nothing else has been able to all day. One of the tiny people squidges himself in next to me on a chair and I don't really read him a book, but we do look at the pictures in a backwards-to-forwards succession that works for both of us.

There's more to this night: there's high school friends and live music and scotch, there's tiredness and chatty cab drivers and finally there's bed. I survive the hangover day with minutes to spare and I lay in my bed put together in a dining room and I am so, so bone tired. I don't even have any dreams on this night.

That's how I got done with my hungover day.

Day 2: Rain & deep thoughts

I catch the train past kilometres of rainy beach. We turn inward toward the city, and suddenly I'm back into the return trip of a retail job I held onto for a year and a half after my undergraduate degree.

I soak up the graffitied back yards, thirsty for the colours and mess of it. I feel sad for the self that used to live in this, daily - mainly because she stopped romanticising the painted red bricks.

The dirty bits of the city are the parts I like the best - the parts where the weeds grow and the paint peels away. There's a part of me, of course, that loves the tidiness and perfection of the well-swept tourist friendly Fed Square- sanitised as fuck, culture alphabetised to be consumed at our leisure. I love that, in obedience.

But it's the parts we haven't cleaned up and tidied and polished, the forgotten piss-stained parts.

Day 1: Nostalgia reigns supreme

When you move out of the city, something must happen to your expectations. Everyone in the city is beautiful! I can’t stop looking at them; making eye contact and smiling at the woman with perfectly scuffed boots and woollen socks up to her knees; the young man with endlessly long legs encased in skinny jeans. Wishing I could sit and have coffee with a truly spectacular and symmetrical man with a black beard and peacoat to die for. Or kill for.

In the city, sense of possibility rolls over me in waves. I wake up much too early; a symptom of the regimented at-home life with the early morning gym routines and the constant go from when I open my eyes to when I close them again. I know why I do it, and what the end is; the means seem justifiable, but here and outside of my life I’m not going to pretend I don’t wonder.

I soak everything in, I eat it up in great big gulps like it’s going to disappear. I stay at a friend’s and am granted my own bedroom like a prize. I can pretend I live here this week. I wear my brown leather boots and skinny jeans that seem to be the uniform of Melbourne in winter. I carry a bag full of books to the Melbourne Uni library and busily type away on my new MacBook, glancing up to see that in fact, every other student madly typing in the place is also on a MacBook. I feel like we’re all part of something, and I suppose we are. They are all younger than me, and I am only 29.

I know I don’t go here, but I am pretending I go here, just till this assignment is finished, just till the end of the week. I want to go here again. I want to work here, and live here, and have the coffees with the handsome men. I can conveniently forget that when I did go here, when I lived here some 6 years ago, I barely ever had the sort of coffee, full of potential and electricity, that I am currently fantasising about. I was never single and carefree. This new Melbourne would be so different from the old Melbourne, and I’d have to renegotiate the whole deal before setting foot in it.

It’s hard to tell whether I prefer the anonymity of cityscape, or the “where everyone knows your name” of my home town. There’s a sparkly prize in the tiny town fame which is so easy to grasp, but my grey-sky self likes the fact she could disappear, if that’s what she wanted.

I romanticise the whole-fucking-lot of it. The red brick of the back streets of Parkville, terrace houses all lined up and falling apart in the way that only property worth actual millions of dollars can do. There are grassy verges and parks, the grey/blue cobblestone gutters for twisting your ankles on when you’re drunk and headed home. It’s never quiet, and me who loves quiet suddenly loves noise instead. Trams and construction work a few houses up - people and sirens and horns, a car driving past with the windows down and Beethoven’s something-or-other blaring out rudely like it thinks it’s hiphop.

This afternoon I get a little time with one of my favourite Melbourne women and her collection of awesome boys. I get banter and nonsense with an old friend that’s new again. I get to play trivia with people I do not know from countries I have not been to yet.

City, you are more than alright.

Monday, 18 May 2015

treasure: when we lived in a movie once, with movie-quality lighting

It was getting to that point in the afternoon where the light hit us all like we were part of a film.

Me, I sat in a pergola halfway to our holiday house from the bay. There were two wrought-iron seats and a table, painted white and matching the structure itself. The pergola merited a stop-off on the inclinator: I wondered at the laziness of the person who wouldn't take the steps and then fancied (guiltily) it might be some older powder-wearing lady who sat each afternoon at this very time to take her tea in this very spot.

I was writing: the sort of writing you do before getting down to the business of saying what you want to say.

The light was making the water seem clearer and more beautiful than it had seemed even an hour earlier, when I'd set myself up as a solitary creative type, away from the main house.

There was a white boat house with a blue roof that was ours for the week: a jetty of our own with a small tin boat powered by a tiny engine of a low enough horsepower than any old person could drive it, sans-licence even. I had no desire for any such motor-based activity.

There were sailboats and house boats. Masts were dotted all over the bay, moored slightly away from shore. I wasn't there for the boats, but they did make a pretty picture and an excellent backdrop to the scene.

I had escaped a people-filled house to the pergola with a beer and a book to start on, but with the light the way it was, the book sat untouched. I could hear the people-filled house muttering and chatting and laughing: some people had disappeared to nap and some others had been reading and baking. I'd found myself unwilling to settle to a couch where an interruption might present itself at any moment.

There were all sorts of interruptions on the water, though; filtering up were the noisy motorboats going by like motorbikes might; my stepsister yelling down the slope from the wide-open window of the living area.

My dad pretended to push my stepsister out the window and the danish visitor who'd been wildly annoying me all week for no real or tangible reason laughed her loud, stupid laugh in response. A piece of theatre I did not wish to witness or tolerate.

In the act I'd created, tiny people driven to flirt with my father weren't there to be tolerated.

End scene.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

treasure: two-headed boy, neutral milk hotel

oh my.

we will take off our clothes
and they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine
and when all is breaking
everything that you could keep inside
now your eyes ain't moving
now they just lay there in their climb.

film review: Mad Max: Fury Road

I haven't done a film review in a while, mainly because I stopped being able to go to the movies for free and write it up for the student paper. Now I have to pay for my cinema-going like I'm a member of the general public or something. It makes me want to shake my fist and post something in Thumbs Up Thumbs Down, but I'm saving that for something less important that I care more about.

I have this counter-intuitive tendency to want to go see action movies when I'm hungover. The dark cinema thing is good, but sometimes the loud dubstep explosion noises are a bit much. Still, I persevere. Maybe it's that I like to see shit get blown up when I'm feeling plain. Maybe it's the choc tops. Couldn't tell ya.

I took my red wine hangover to the cinema to see "Mad Max: Fury Road" yesterday, and holy shit I am pleased about my life choices. I'm even more pleased than I was when I won/got given the fruit and veg tray at the raffle at the bar earlier in the week, and in that spirit (and to hopefully slightly annoy my friend Paddy) I'm going to tell you all that I won Mad Max at the cinema yesterday. Because I actually did.

I walked into it with mixed expectations, because on one hand action movies are generally gratuitous in a myriad of ways; between the trophy females that need saving and the manly men with no real feelings and the poorly taped-together plotlines there is a desperate need to suspend all disbelief. On the other hand, I'd heard rumours from The Feminists On The Internet that there was a bit more of something going on in this movie. I avoided all the reviews so I could attempt to have my own thoughts about it, and gosh did I think some things. Here are some of them:

I love a good dystopian setting. When it's just so clear to me that we're basically fucking the planet up and wrecking all the things, I get curious about what sort of future we're allowing ourselves to imagine, or, you know, allowing the artists to imagine for us. I am particularly interested in how we re-imagine gender roles, when we could potentially remake everything. I still want to write a thesis on this. Put it in the pile. Mad Max sits in a futuristic world where the planet is all wrecked and there's just a whole lot of sand everywhere all the time, and it made for some amazing scenery and settings for what basically equated to some folks driving somewhere and then turning around and driving back (spoiler alert). The vehicles were all very steampunk-chic and incredible to look at.

The action sequences were great. They nearly all took place while vehicles were moving, the violence was reasonably graphic without feeling gratuitous. I like seeing people's faces split in half as much as the next person, but can appreciate that level of blood is not for everyone. While part of me wanted to see what the bad guys looked like when they got run over, I was satisfied that they had gotten run over, because it was really the only way to make them stop. Those guys were persistent. Because it was an action movie, there was a lot of fighting. Between you and me I'm not sure everyone really got enough sleep, and I didn't see them eat much, besides the occasional two-headed lizard or spider (spoiler alert). Anyhow, they seemed to be ok with just muddling on through as far as the practicalities.

The leads were Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. Given that this is a franchise, of course it was called "Mad Max: something something", but honestly, if you didn't have that background knowledge you'd be hard pressed choosing which of these attractive (albeit rather dusty and sweaty) people was the protagonist. It wasn't Max's story, and it wasn't Furiosa's. Herein lies the reason I'm calling it awesome.

When you're a feminist and you go to the movies you have a few choices about your thought process during and after the movie. A lot of the time, as mentioned above, I can assume a certain level of generic patriarchal crap from an action movie and not get worked up about that (still trying my very best not to notice the complete lack of meaningful roles for women in many action movies movies in general). I can also go to a movie expecting it to please my feminist self and be disappointed enough to rant. I can go not expecting anything and have it go either way. As noted, I had heard that the feminists liked this one, so I was curious.

The reason this movie was so good is because there were two main characters kicking ass and using their mad skills to help people who needed help, and they were both as tough as each other. They were also both allowed to be vulnerable at certain points. They were both driven, complex characters with three-dimensional motivations for their actions (as much as they were allowed to be in a 2 hour action film). They were both beautiful, of course (I mean, Tom Hardy certainly has a face on the front of his head, if you know what I mean; Charlize Theron wore that short hair like she was doing it a favour, right on top of her head and everything) but that wasn't quite the point.

I'm not saying there weren't problematic factors here: the many wives or 'breeders' as they were so charmingly called certainly could have been more practically dressed for the weather. I didn't probably need to see their nipples, unless there was a metaphor there that went over my head. To be fair, as effective sex slaves to the old blistery guy I guess they may not have had much else on offer as wardrobe options. And they got their chance to be more than just helpless baby factories too, they probably killed a more than good handful of bad guys between them (spoiler alert). I want to know if they were meeting the eye candy requirement of action movies, or if we weren't meant to notice their near-nakedness at all (I strongly doubt it). The bloody patriarchy means I'm always noticing the nipples and the nudity. It means I'm often doing my best to ignore the way the nipples and the nudity are used.

Women in this dystopian future got to be so many things. They got to be fierce warriors with traumatic childhoods, full of loyalty and the drive to change the fates of other more vulnerable people. They were prisoners trapped for their childbearing ability; farm animals producing milk and sons. Commodities. They got to be hard and soft, beautiful and grotesque, whole and missing pieces. They got to feel love and fear and pain, they were brave despite the odds being stacked another way. They got to be weak, they betrayed the cause, they were strong and idealistic and realistic and sassy. They rescued and were rescued. You get my point, I think. This is what women actually are, and we deserve to keep being this, even in a desert world of the future.

Men got to be more than one thing, too. They were all geared for battle at every point, but all sick and coming undone underneath the armour (literal and metaphorical, y'all). The better film/real world I dream about allows everyone more dimensions. It's the only way.

I never promised this wouldn't get rant-like. Follow me into a better future.

I wish for and imagine these sorts of directorial choices to be so common and obvious that they are no longer even worthy of comment, more just 'but of course'. As it stands, my feelings are that this movie gets 4.5 stars. Go see it.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

treasure: procrastination

Top 5 things to do to procrastinate when your assignment is due Monday:

1. Sex
2. Laundry
3. Sex Laundry
4. Laundry sex
5. Numbered lists.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

treasure: do the thing and say the thing repeatedly until it's real and true (or don't)

I'm working on a theory at the moment about myself. I guess it's probably my life's work, trying to figure this bitch out. I've realised I am aiming towards something, constantly, but what that is actually changes on a daily basis. I'm well aware this makes me a mere human and I'm alright about it.

The romantic love thing: sorry to ma exes (not! fuck you guys!), but I'm in serious doubt about the format of love experienced in each of these sorry, co-dependent messes. I'm rather skeptical about the role of romantic love in my life, mostly. Occasionally I get blown away by the eye contact of a friendly stranger, or a friend of a friend, unexpected, dropping in out of nowhere and then disappearing home again, making the axis of everything tilt for a moment; each time, the world sharply rights itself and I go about my day. I know romantic love exists, because of the way music makes me feel my feelings. I do not doubt its existence, but I do doubt its use for me at this particular point in my life.

Romantic love: that asshole thing that confuses your brain, makes you stop prioritising yourself, distracts you from your goals and aspirations, makes you clumsy and dumb. Like alcohol. If I have to choose, I choose whisky. You cannot put a price on waking up to a hangover instead of waking up to some bastard who wants you to laugh at their jokes and probably make them breakfast.

This isn't true. I imagine that having a person who thinks you're just grand and doesn't mind your crazy hair in the morning or your weird thing about drinking whisky from a teacup is great. I'm sure it's the best thing in the whole world. But ... something. There's a question mark here for me.

A friend who I love (in a non-romantic way, mainly because he's gay) warned me quite fairly about becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've been thinking about it - the danger of putting something out into the world repeatedly and making it come true; creation through repetition. I've had my repeated self-narrative pointed out to me by smart people that I like twice in the past two days, outside of Mark warning me about scaring love and happiness away with my "romance is dumb I hate it and I don't even want it anyway" vibes.

It's a bigger post and a larger thought about performativity, I think. The things I repeat are these:
1. I don't like people touching me
2. I don't trust babies
3. Romance is dumb I hate it and I don't even want it anyway (see above).

As a direct result:
1. Less hugs/sex than ideal
2. Scared of babies, the most vulnerable harmless animals ever
3. Single

I probably made these things happen. I mean, I know I made the single one happen. The men have to pass a series of nonsensical tests which the only ones I'd actually want to date wouldn't be fucked doing anyway; I steer clear of many babies. I'll pull faces at them, but that's pretty much the end of the deal. Except for the fact it turns out I love my nephew heaps... possibly because he's so good looking and I'm a shallow person. And now you mention it, there are a few small children and babies all the way in Melbourne I love too, who I am purposefully booking tickets to go and visit in a month (excitement town).

My friends are starting to ignore my stories about how I don't like to be touched and just hugging me anyway. And I actually love it. Don't tell anyone.

There are probably more stories I tell and perform on a regular basis that are wildly incorrect. We'll look into it.

But the romantic love. I am stuck on this thought. I'm reading theory on it. If you ever want to tell me your thoughts and experiences (without crying please - I'm pretty busy), get me a bit drunk and let me know. If you're going to hug me at any point, it's going to need to be whisky that I'm drinking.

My questions are these: What exact social capital is to be gained by being part of a couple? How confronting is it to be a single person not 'looking for love'? Is romantic love practical? Is romantic love a first world issue? Is romantic love a well-trodden narrative that gives momentum to human life?

What even is love, anyway?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

treasure: radiohead research

I'm writing about Radiohead. It's not even going to be that good because I start listening to the youtubes and I can't even. Like this: wat.

secret: droppin' rants

I am getting progressively angrier about a lot of stuff and also have some things to say that people won't want to hear.

The next few months are going to come with a warning.

Sorry, family.

Droppin' rants like they're hot.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

treasure: words written by poets

from Hannah Kent's Burial Rites:

you will be lost. there is no final home, there is no burial, there is only a constant scattering, a thwarted journey that takes you everywhere without offering you a way home, for there is no home, there is only this cold island and your dark self spread thinly upon it until you take up the wind's howl and mimic its loneliness you are not going home you are gone silence will claim you, suck your life down into its black waters and churn out stars that might remember you, but if they do they will not say, they will not say, and if no-one will say your name you are forgotten

i am forgotten.

secret: I Want You Like A Seatbelt

maybe from the top you can see that
I want you across my hips, fastened low and tight
in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night
we can let the world fall away, one kiss at a time

rather telling that the love songs I'm currently going for are actually about fucking people in the woods.

Friday, 24 April 2015

secret: belonging

My stepmother took us walking up a creek at low tide: the water was wading depth, and sand mixed with black silt covered our feet, sucked us in and let us go with each step.

We were there to see crabs: tiny little blue bodies with orange claws. I had learned the proper names for these parts in school at some stage, but such knowledge had long since been eaten away by whiskey and time. 

I loved the water in that way I have of also being slightly afraid of it: it had always been this way for me, and so low tide seemed to be a safe and friendly time to set foot in the shallow water. We walked and walked up the muddy creekbed, where sharp oyster shells lay in wait for bared feet and clumsy steps. I didn't know this place, but my stepmother walked slowly but confidently up river and we followed her, trying to keep up while hoping she would lead the way.

I lost a thong to the mud, and stopped to stand a while in the shallow water, noting the way the bush and the hills around us made a frame for a very white collection of people scattered into their own trudging rhythms. 

I'm too alien for this: I wondered if the country itself was watching us and sniggering at our complete lack of toughness, skill, knowledge and even determination. Our bright shirts and pink-painted toenails did not lend themselves to discovery or recklessness. To be careful is safe; to be brave and intrepid is certainly too big an ask.

I thought about belonging to a place, and I knew I did not belong there. Walking through Australia's bush and coast and wading through its rivers, I know for sure I am a visitor. Earlier that week we had dragged ourselves up a hill to stand at the top of a waterfall. The bush bit me; I chose my steps carefully to placate the roots and stones that may easily have chosen to trip me over. I love bushwalking, but I will only ever borrow the scrub - it will never feel like mine.

It's a bigger thought for another time; how we learn to belong to places, how we make them ours, how we find our way around a country that we've claimed as our own. All I know is that those crabs ran as fast as they could away from our loud whiteness; they burrowed down into the silty sand in tiny spirals. They waited til we were gone. 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

soundtrack to my life - kid cudi: "up up and away"

This song makes me certain that I know how it feels to be drunk on sunshine.

Funnily enough, it's a song about being high, and I never managed to be particularly adept at being under the influence of things (not even peer pressure, yo). This song by Kid Cudi was however an anthem of my life for the 2011 summer - it was a glorious existence, and now when I listen to this classic I remember this one Whistler weekend that I wouldn't trade for anything.

I found the stupid song around the same time I fell in lust with the dumb German. I had unexpected tickets to Squamish Festival with Annica and there was all the line up and potential. Two days of live music and friends! Watch out.

I don't know how to explain this to people who haven't ever been drunk while the sun is up, but day drinking is the best fun a person can have. Particularly with amazing live tunes and a mountain-based backdrop. We drove the 30 minutes to Squampton in Radow, the sweetest little car on the road, with the wind in our hair from the wound-down windows and this very tune in our ears. We even picked up and giggled at a very attractive hitch-hiker! The world had no limits. None.

I saw and screamed inarticulately at none other than John Butler... in a fit of stupid awesomeness, Weezer was also there playing songs I knew all the words to and yelled happily along to at the top of my lungs. 

All the next morning I drank Caesars for breakfast with Mitch at Wildwood. Then I drank some iced tea from David's Tea supplied for free by none other than our sneaky partner in crime, Kate Jenkins. The iced tea was straight when we got it, quickly laced with vodka from a hipflask and a complete lack of fucks. It is truly a glorious time, being quite drunk during the day with your pal Mitch.

We returned to Squamish to the festival. We drank overpriced beers. We tried to drink our own beers in the carpark and the nice Canadian police lady came and told us we could either pour them out or get a fine and she'd pour them out for us. So we poured them out coz fuck fines, right?

I had my face painted. I danced very hard. I got really dirty feet and I believed in summer. I believed in not much further ahead than next paycheck, and I thought I could even love somebody. It was one of the best summers of my life.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

secret: feminist to do list

Feminist to do list:

Fuck buddy
Lesbian friends
Inexplicably intruiging mixture of Anger and Mystery

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

secret: tinder "about me" options

My tinder profile. For reals, it could say:

Looking for a smart honest adult to occasionally sleep with. Future boyfriends need not apply. Ain't nobody got time for that.


If you're scared of someone who doesn't laugh at your jokes unless they're funny, and wants to correct your grammar but won't, don't swipe right. If you're ok with the above I might put out if I feel like it. Why don't you buy me a scotch and see?

It actually says:

Oh, yeah, what are you gonna do? Release the dogs? Or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you?

And let the record state that Tinder has never gotten me laid.

secret: I wrote all this bloody poetry

I wrote all of this poetry, and some of it I still love:

poem challenge: my skin & i

my skin & i, we
have a love/hate thing going on
because we never get any time apart.

you have to play things out til the end
sometimes you already know
the direction, the arrow
but you have to play things out to the end.

your love of music & your culture/nature/nurture
intruiges me
i'm less likely to plead flippancy
i'm hanging by a thread
i want to be as certain of myself
as i was at 21
my convictions the greyest area
parts white and black.

i grasp at poetic
like it's the second coming (or are we up to the third now)
i grasp at words, which once
i flexed like muscles
which lay dormant
door man
i keep grasping eagerly
(or, to be honest, in fits of desperation).

poem challenge: i've words

I've words,
I've plenty. You're just a button
I like to push sometimes- you're no less for it, but
I reassure myself that
am the pusher of the button, and
Shall not be pushed.

Blatantly I stretch to bullshit- you don't
Understand the words I've made, and you
Smile your charmed smile, and I
Become something less (read: consumed),
Just a little less than what you can hold in your hand.

I'm embittered, and for tonight the effort of shininess
Displaced by a poet half a world away, for,
If we make feelings just inklings,
Nothing ever shall be done
Nothing shall ever be done.

You fool, you've put a something in the way of a gap
You've chosen wrong
You should not have gone home.

Unless home had been
What you made me. And what have you made of me?

secret: love poem for no-one (nov 24, 2010)

if your arms
are longer than my arms
your reach further
and i am enveloped
where i can do nothing to fight it
(if your arms
are longer than my arms)
then i shall concede defeat
wrapped up by you.

but if my heart
is bigger than your heart
my love larger and warmer
and you are, perhaps, unknowingly
smothered, a claustrophobic envelope
and you are too quiet to fight it
(if my heart
is bigger than your heart)
then i shall concede defeat
and walk away from the warm wrap of
your long long arms.

secret: waiting

to be inspired
to be loved
to get my visa
to fix my bike
to have control
to have money
to start a detox
for the times i'm alone in the house
to just be kissed by a boy for the sake of summer lovin

for you to realize that you want to know me

for my washing to dry
for a break
for time to finish all the books i own
to be brave enough

for my next day off
for my sunburn to become suntan
for pay day.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

soundtrack to my life - Breathe (2am) - Anna Nalick

from the 25th season of Helen's Life:

a new friend reminded me of a song by anna nalick that recently popped back up on my radar via that crack-like medical drama, Grey's Anatomy. there's a story that goes with this song, and I'm going to mine the experiences of my somewhat blessed existence to share with you a short story about some feelings I had once.

I'll change the names and not tell the whole story for artistic reasons (mostly to make myself look good), and that's the best I can do by way of the anonymity disclaimer. hopefully this is sufficient. the people of whom I speak will instantly recognise themselves. other people who were there at the time will also know exactly who I'm talking about. It's ok with me.

I had a stalker crush on a handsome French Canadian once. I referred to him as 'supermarket guy' as it was both his place of work and a vague indicator of his gender. I crushed on this lovely person in a way that eventually drove me to recklessly dive into the asking out of the stranger. if we'd been at our current stage of linguistic evolution, I may have said YOLO first. we'll never know.

at that point in time, my crush was based in the substance filled concept that he had a nice face set off with something of a black eye (which only served to intruige, and would go on to be a reoccuring factor in the chapter of the description of me titled 'things she likes to see on faces'). he also smiled at me when i saw him in the supermarket.

naturally, crush.

I asked him to have a drink with me and it never quite happened and then I moved to another place and started using another supermarket and assumed we were done there. I did run into him from time to time and managed once to even give him shit about the fact I gave him my number and nothing came of it. I went to his birthday party. then I got so incredibly wasted on halloween that I believe I bought him a drink (I was a zombie clown, he was a suicide bomber). I did not remember doing any of this, but was pleased with drunk Helen's generosity. as luck would have it, I moved back into the old neighbourhood and again purchased groceries at his supermarket. 

the best winter season of my life started with a long and cold and dark lift line with coffee from supermarket guy and so much boring tired/wired shit talk, none of which I remember. then we rode. then he had to work, and I went and laughed at him in the supermarket.

in between christmas and new year I managed to trick him into kissing me at a nightclub. it's a heady thing, when you stalker crush on someone with such persistence that you eventually make them kiss you. I don't remember much about this either (in case you're unclear, i was mainly drunk for three years in Canada. not even sorry), but I do remember being categorically un-disappointed with said kiss.

I left him a mixtape on my way back to australia for a three week family fiasco and hoped for the best.

I got back to canada and happened upon an awkward thing that had happened while I was gone: he had a crush on my housemate.

I never said this wasn't a bullshit romantic comedy style story. I never promised anything.

the song 'breathe' by anna nalick was a favourite of this housemate. and she had a lovely singing voice. and we used to sing together, until she ruined some other things and then ruined this one. I wish for both of their sakes they'd gone for it, their love story - if only my housemate knew herself a bit better and wasn't so naturally disposed to stringing men along. I spent time with this supermarket person, being his friend. the things I wanted, the extra things, ebbed into the background and the ambient noise with the realisation that we weren't ever destined for great romantic love.

but a thing happened somewhere along the line. we got to be real, true friends. before he moved back east to the motherland we got to spend a wild night in vancouver with the dropkick murphys and people disappearing and turning up agan wearing vomit pants, and there was real laughter, and real tears the day we dragged his hungover ass to southside diner for a farewell egg on toast. Heart of Gold played and I cried a real tear with the saying goodbye of my good friend. his heart is gold.

we've been better friends since then. I haven't seen the bastard since. we've written so many postcards it's silly; I take mine out and read them when I need to just have a friend's words nearby. I might even have a selection of them stuck on the wall; they make me feel real.

but as always happens with me and my half-assed committment situation, there's been a communication gap for a while. I've been sad about that gap, especially since I am still waiting for him to turn up on my doorstep with a backpack one day, like he's promised me he will. I love him, but the actual real love that happens now I know who he is and like him for it. maybe how our friendship started isn't traditional, but I love the story.

I love him in a way much better than the silly crush of almost 6 years ago, but when I hear this song by anna nalick, I remember the time of wanting something else altogether and the ridiculously childish jealousy I held tight in my heart for months for my silly housemate. that poor girl. I'm better at this now. I learned that from her.

and from you, supermarket guy, I learned that someone can be one of the loves of your life without you ever getting to kiss them again. and I thank you for this knowledge. Come visit me soon.

Monday, 30 March 2015

project: soundtrack to my life - another ambitious plan

I just made a reference to the soundtrack of my life in the previous post about the show I'm starring in. This has lead to an idea about building upon songs I've loved and played on repeat to the increasing boredom of all and sundry who I'll pretend are watching and entertained by the show I'm starring in.

I've shared some bits of music I love, and I thought I'd share a few more and call this a mini project.

Stay tuned... geddit?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

secret: putting on a show

It's tough to put on a show when you're not sure anyone is watching. I could wax lyrical about performativity and Foucault and just so much of everything; all the things I should probably not be thinking about in that 20 minutes before I finally fall asleep... but because I am meant to be studying this evening I've instead gone with this glorious tangent. Humour me.

I've been putting on this fantastic performance for years now, the performance that is Helen's Life. It's interesting to watch myself as the star of my show: there are times when the ratings have dropped, or the scriptwriters have lost the plot (literally, figuratively, metaphorically). the level of self-observation wavers between clueless and committable at different points in my life, and I'm working towards arriving at the happy medium of 'alert but not alarmed' - I'll tell you how I get there, if I actually ever do. 

The highlights reel features all the usual suspects: "Lose a tooth", "Santa isn't real", "Hand-me-down overalls", quickly followed by: "You can't just shave the front of your legs", "Underwire", "There goes my virginity", "How do I use eyeliner?". Once we get to the 20s there's a whole season on dating someone with a mental illness, followed by key plot device "The time I moved to Canada and learned to snowboard", that favourite episode "So this is why people enjoy party drugs", and emotional season finale "Maybe it's time to go home before someone gets hurt".

The last few years of the show have been rich in friendships and character development, and I'm pleased about how they've come together. It's a lot to do with the lighting - soft afternoon sun in a beer garden here, dawn on the way to the gym for a spin class there. 

My supporting cast are all beautiful - I've noted elsewhere that I prefer to hang out with people who are intelligent and attractive (while putting up with the stupid ugly ones in a compassionate manner). It's a fairly white cast, but choices have been reasonably limited by the on-location casting options. There's a reasonably regular support cast who seem to be happy to pick up extra scenes here and there without much warning script-wise. The dialogue is mostly improvised with overarching themes to work with - the cast will often do their own makeup and wardrobe, with varying degrees of success. Mostly they are very beautiful (I compliment them because there have been literally no pay-rises in years).

casting includes a shit-tonne of intelligent and attractive couples (see above) who are all actively progressing their own shows, pursuing further education and academic and business-based careers; these cast members aren't just eye candy for the viewers! Strong parental figures make a regular appearance but you will notice are no longer featured in the opening credits, and other family members guest star, sometimes during filming at beach and holiday locations. There are also occasional spots by old cast members, oftentimes with dismissive things to say about the location. We move them along after a cameo.

Romantic interests have served to be a complete bust so far; it's often helpfully suggested to the production team that this might be an area where the show needs development. To these folk with the helpful suggestions, the response has been that while the casting pool is local to the country town, we really don't have much to work with. The other response has been to bitch about these folk and their dumb suggestions at writer's staff parties after a few whiskys. At this stage, there's far too much potentially awkward cross over with other regular characters or in regular locations for any pursuable or credible romantic storylines. With the show's feminist undertones, this perceived 'lack' admittedly isn't viewed by production to be much of an issue: depth is added through the fleshing out of character, career, friendships and other interests. Although a little extra sex never goes astray, ratings-wise.

Most used sets include Home; Work and the Bar. filming also occurs on a semi-regular basis at The Armidale Tourist Park, Mum's House and the Cafe. Happily, the show has regular extras at these locations: in particular, the Work cast has been consistent, even when it's only consistent that the show's direction is not always in keeping with expectations of these minor characters.

The current season of the show has very little conflict and there has been some feedback that some work needs to be done in envisioning the show's future. A location change is often suggested, but at this stage there haven't been compelling reasons for or against, noting that "it might just be nice to have a change of scenery" is not seen by the production team to warrant the additional costs involved in the relocation of the set, marketing in a new location and recruiting new cast members. 

Other suggestions have been to introduce a reality element where cast members are 'voted off' by the audience; to alter the current drama/comedy format to a situational comedy format with a live audience; for the main character to persue a musical career and have some cross-over where merchandising options are readily available. 

The past few seasons of the show have had a varied soundtrack - common artists featured in the current season are such names as The National, First Aid Kit, Courtney Barnett, Bob Dylan, Hozier, Taylor Swift, Hilltop Hoods, Chet Faker and many more. The soundtrack for Season 29 will soon be available on iTunes.

I do my best for you people. I wear a revolving wardrobe of vintage pieces, I often perform acoustic sets on my bed for your listening pleasure. I talk to myself enough that you're given insight into my state of mind, but not so often that you want me to go see somebody about that. what more do you want from me?