Tuesday, February 26, 2008

They Keep Pulling Me Back In!

The other day I serendipitously found a discarded DVD from unknown origins on the street, which I immediately popped into my player and discovered it was that new gangland inspired Aussie mini-series (my story and I'm sticking to it). You see, due to the fact that all this mafia malarky happened not that far from where I'm sitting right now and is still being trialled in this fair city us Melbournians are yet to see the show on our television screens this is despite the fact that the rest of you sods have seen it. Seems a little unfair but hey, whaddya gonna do? (find a copy on a street, probably).

Anyway the discarded DVD from unknown origins held about three episodes of the show and I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with it. As a fan of The Sopranos I expected our version to be well not quite right. It's different, and it should be - but it's real and gritty, which is exactly how things are. It's well made, well acted and fucking scary. Not scary in the horror movie sense but scary in that it's all true - or near enough anyway - to be a worry. Killing people because of "business" or just because you didn't like their face is a truth that happens in this world. I can't imagine a world more far removed from my own but it exists right outside my door anyway. I guess I never really had to think about it because it never actually involved the likes of me but thinking about it further I realise that maybe we are all affected, even if we don't realise it.

The mini-series takes a bit of a 'play by play' account of what went on in the hey day of the gangland murders in Melbourne. It starts with the origins and then moves into how things got out of hand and with whom. What interests me aside from the details is the innocent bystanders that get suckered into the vortex of organised crime without actually meaning to. I mean, the people who happen to be standing nearby on a bad day, but more so the people that fall in love with the criminals themselves and then somehow are implicated into all the violence and lawlessness.

Many of the storylines about these mafia men also focus on the women around them. So far there's been the friend of the girl who is sleeping with the gangster who witnesses a cold blooded murder. She decides to testify but immediately it becomes apparent that actually she's not going to testify at all, she's going to go on a long trip to London with her friend and hopefully never be seen again.

Then there's the Stripper - the ex wife of a bikie who washes her hands clean of the bloke but he says he's with her at the time he commits a murder she decides to testify that actually no he wasn't with her at all and so she's gunned down in bed, after the trial has been said and done. A revenge killing.

I'm sure there are many more similar stories of people who have gotten involved on the outskirts of crime but who are affected - simply because they fell in love with the people committing the crimes. Maybe they knew they were criminals before they got involved with them - maybe it became apparent later - but in any case these people are involved without directly being involved (if you know what I mean). I wonder if there are stories of men who marry women who are either in the crime world or who are daughters of crime figures - who then do something wrong (by the girl) but are then killed ...you know just because they can be.

I wonder about these people who fall in love with criminals or people associated with criminals. I think that if I came across a bloke who had dubious connections I would run a country mile - at least I hope I would. But who knows how the heart will react?

I guess you could say that if you get involved with crime then you suffer the implications but I wonder if the heart really has a stronger say in the matter.

What if you fell in love, I mean real love, with a man/woman who was involved in crime somehow? Would you ignore your heart and walk away or would you take your chances and stay with them? Can your heart ever really be ignored? And if your heart CAN be ignored, then is anyone who ever gets involved with a no hoper of some kind ever really a victim?

Also, what I'm dying to ask but not sure if I should is; would you ever testify against your ex/current if they did something unlawful? What if they threatened your kid or you if you testified? Would you testify anyway? Is this too explosive a question to ask?

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Babies and femmos.

Being a non-babied up person living in a world where it seems like everyone has spawned has afforded me the opportunity to observe things without being too emotionally involved. I have my pet peeves with how mums and dads behave just like I have my pet peeves by how ordinary everyday people behave. In fact, one might argue that I have a lot of pet peeves. Oh well, I'm peevey - you really got a problem with that?

A little issue has arisen lately in baby-land and I have to say, it's given me more peeves than ever thought possible. I'm talking about how people react to the weight of babies. Now I realise that weight is probably the most important way that one can distinguish how healthy a baby is but I'm not talking about that. It's the language that people use.

My friend S's little miracle (really, he actually is - spend first couple of months at the Children's hospital and really was touch and go for a while there) has been growing in leaps and bounds since he was released from the hospital. Really he is one of the cutest babies in the world. He's one of those babies that strangers will boldly approach and want to hold. Things started off a little rough for the poor guy but now he's doing well. In fact when people see him how they ALWAYS comment about what a big boy he is, and how chubby he is getting and ...hey maybe mum should be putting him on a little feeding restriction. The thing is little N is not like those big babies you see on Phil Donohue where the baby is actually half the size of mum at 1 year of age and looks basically like an adult in diapers (though, I might be confusing this with a whoooole other episode of Donohue). Little N is in fact precisely in the 50th percentile for his weight. He's the epitome of normality. He's not 1 percent below or above he's just right. Meanwhile mothers of babies born on the 15th percentile are commenting about what a chubbster N is - not in a nice way either - in an I'm slightly worried about your baby way - patronising, utterly patronising. Like as if being born thin and still thin is somehow better than than being normal and healthy.

The reason why it's a peeve of mine is that I can see where this is leading. We already have this preoccupation with children's weight and the so-called obesity crisis in children. I wish I could link to an entry that "pubby" wrote about this issue but he's taken his blog offline - but he also asked whether these figures were sincere because he hadn't noticed that suddenly all these kids were supposedly fat. I work with kids. I see kids everyday and there is probably 1 per class who is overweight. IF THAT. I don't have any this year at all. In fact I'm looking at all the children I know who started school this year and there is not ONE who would even be considered chubby - that's almost 100 new children! Figures point to something like 40% of children being fat but from what I've seen it's actually about 5% which is called a NORMAL DISTRIBUTION of fat folks. Maybe it's 10% in some areas...yes, more concerning but still, hardly an epidemic! I don't know if figures are being inflated or whether the way we measure fat is right off the scale (pun intended) but if it's an epidemic then I don't bloody see it at all.

The point is the weight obsession starts with babies. All these mothers (let's face it, mostly mums) are obsessed with talking about the weight of their own children but not only that, I sense some smugness and defensiveness about weight, depending on where on the percentile the baby falls. Once I commented on how F's baby J had grown into a big boy. I hadn't seen him in about 3 months and he was like a new child. So what, he got big! Big deal, it's great, it's called growing. But I got flicked with the end of the wrath stick quick smart by F who snapped that actually he's only on the 30th percentile now and not big at all. Ohhhhh kay, sorry didn't think I was suggesting that your baby was a sumo wrestler but hey, whatever.

Incidentally why is it so wrong to say that a female baby is a "big strong girl". Ever try saying that one? It's like you're saying "hey I've just noticed that your daughter is a big fat dyke. I can see that she's a breath away from letting her body hair get to unflattering lengths and start listening to angry girl rock" I thought, growing was supposed to be a good thing! Maybe not in girls.

In other news concerning dirty femmo stuff, I was intrigued by a column in Sunday's Age by Angela Pippos "What's Wrong with Being a Fashionista Feminist Anyway?" where she addresses just how diverse feminists are in this era. She also says

I'm a feminist. Was that so hard?
It's really not a big deal. I simply believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men. Throw me in in the river and see if I float. It's hardly radical but, in my experience, any mention of the "f" word in male company can bring on a type of behaviour often seen in a David Attenborough documentary, followed by a sudden attack of mundane questioning".

She goes on to list a few examples of questioning she is immediately dealt by affronted men "Do you expect men to open doors for you?" "Do you want a man to pay for dinner on a first date?" etc. You know the typical questions asked of femnos that makes everyone want to stab their eyes out. What really interests me about her column is the underlying question for me about feminism. Why is it still a dirty word? Yes, I'm being serious. In all my years of being a feminist I've never met one who hates men. I've never met one who burns her bra. I've never met one who spends all night planing to picket the local men's club or any of the other stereotypes that are prescribed to so called ..here is comes "feminazis". Do I know lesbian femmos? Of course. Does that mean ALL feminists are gay? Do I know femmos who are frustrated by the status quo and frustrated by some perceptions perpetrated by men. Hell yes, does that mean that they are frustrated with men in general? Pssssh, I don't think so. I hate that type of generalising of feminists that happens but actually has little grounds in reality.

I don't know about you but when I hear the old "you're a man hater" (often comes in a feminist type entry) and it's been written here on this journal as well me reading it on so many other feminist blogs that I've lost count - I often think that the person writing it either has shit for brains, doesn't actually KNOW any feminists or rather...doesn't KNOW any women AT ALL or that maybe..just maybe THEY don't really like women all that much themselves, or feel threatened by them expressing an opinion - whatever. The fact that I *am* a feminist and I don't actually know ANY feminists who hate men NOR do I hate them myself sort of makes me wonder why on earth that's a phrase that is so easily thrown around by others when confronted with someone who claims to be a feminist? I mean I always hear about these so-called feminists who are supposed to hate men, usually it comes in the form of "yeah I know a feminist who hates men" but you know..it's sort of like an urban myth to me. Have you heard the one about the lady with the boil on her face that exploded and 50 tiny spiders came out? Yeah, that common. If anything feminists have so much problem in appearing a unified group with unifying beliefs in the first place that *men* aren't even the issue. It's women and what women think that is more of an issue.

Perhaps it's that feminist discourse is centered around the fact that things are not quite right in the world of woman. That there are certain issues that affect our gender and those issues maybe be life threatening or indeed socially confining to women. Maybe there's some resentment too, that women get the focus for this type of discourse? The fact that they are discussed might be a little too confronting for some people and confused with hate - when really it's not about hate at all, it's about getting answers and asking WHY does this happen to women? Is that a wrong question to ask? I certainly don't think so. It does NOT negate the FACT that things happen to men too and that is an important point. That in fact we are all individuals who have shit happen to us at some stage or another and that there are issues for men that are just as concerning that in fact SHOULD be discussed too. They should be discussed by the same people that are complaining that are sick of hearing about women's issues and say that yeah, men have issues too can't you see that? Well, dude, discuss away! Indeed, asking why the world is a certain way is not about hating anyone. It's about trying to get answers about how things are and perhaps start discourse that will affect change. One can only hope anyway.

I know that discussions about rape, prostitution, maternity leave and domestic violence gets a lot of backs up, especially with men but the fact of the matter is that these things DO happen and they DO happen mostly to women and the fact that we make up more than half the population means that it's something that everyone should be worried about. These are things that SHOULD be discussed widely and without refrain. It happens and the fact that it happens disturbingly often to one gender over another is a cause for feminist discourse. Live with it! I've read so many "anti-feminist" blogs (mostly written by anonymous people with anonymous comments - just goes to show doesn't it?) that will reference one article where a woman has beaten her husband in a show of domestic violence. Yes it happens and this is horrible. I don't want to diminish that - but the anti-feminist blogger will then say (and this happens in almost 100 percent of all anti-feminist bloggers) something along the lines of "and now you see why I refuse to get involved with all women. Women are evil etc etc". This is in direct opposition to most feminist blogs which takes issue on women's issues in society and how that affects us and in fact are a celebration of female achievement in the arts and culture. They are positive places that actually reserve any condensation of men to specific examples ie: THIS MAN said something not quite right about women. THIS MAN is wrong. Whereas the anti-feminist blogs that I've read are all about generalising one act to mean *all* women and being defensive about it too. Perhaps I've yet to come across a anti-feminist blog that is about being male positive instead of female negative. I'm know that there are some feminist blogs that really ARE venomous about a lot of things too, including men but definitely not the popular ones. The popular feminist blogs are generally very political places that invite discussion by men and indeed a lot of them have a dedicated male following too.

For the record I have read many male written gender positive blogs that have nothing to do with anti-feminism - they don't shy away from bringing up issues that are specific to men either! They are great and there should be more of them. They write about male and female issues with sex, violence and everything in between and they are so great because they don't fall into that age old trap of 'what I admire about women is their breasts, bum, legs, they look beautiful, they smell beautiful' - which is quite typical in what DOES tend to get written about women from a male perspective. I mean that kind of blog is great and all but male blogs that go beyond that REALLY need to be applauded for being so great - and they're not great because I agree with them, because I don't always, they're great because they are truthful without falling into "all feminists are bitches" type rhetoric.

Considering that not all feminists are the same, nor do any of the old stereotypes stand up why is it that the F-word is still a dirty one?

Anyway, on to Musical Monday in this haphazard post of mine. Of course, let's just complete the entry with a reference to Kat Bjelland; an artist I'm pretty much so in awe of I can't quite figure out the right words. She looks like an angel but has the voice of a terrifying demon. That's the best I can come up with. In the early days she cavorted around with Courtney Love and Jennifer Finch experimenting in a couple of bands before all went their separate ways and all became highly influential artists in their own right, with their own bands. I sigh here as I make the distinction and say they were 'female centered' bands - grrl rock if you will. Why? Oh because I've featured many, many bands who have all male members and sing about manly things but never distinguished them by saying 'all male' or 'male centered'. It's funny how these distinctions work in rock for women as opposed to men but there you have it.

Babes in Toyland had been around for a good many years before I got into them. I was completely taken with Kat Bjelland and in particular her rock operatic meets screaming banshee type singing voice.

She was a cheerleader in high school by the way.

A cheerleader AND a dirty femmo too. Oh my god, is your mind about to explode? Yes, it's true, us dirty femmos aren't just one type of person. I guess, that was my whole point. Mother's can be feminists. Hot girls can be feminists. Women who love men can be feminists. Scientists can be feminists. Radio personalities can be feminists. Men can be feminists. Cheerleaders can be feminists. It's not just one type of person. And for the record I've read many a comment implying that those people mentioned above CAN'T be feminists - like mum's can't be feminists. ha! Well I'm linking right here to a GREAT entry by a femmo mum who outlines some great points about how to raise your daughter a feminist and you know what? The initial question about 'how do I raise my daughter a feminist?' came from a bloke. How's that for breaking down a few barriers. Yes folks, it's not actually about man hating. Sorry to disappoint - on with the music.

Bruise Violet - Babes In Toyland (apparently not about Courtney Love..but I doubt it! lol).

Sweet 69 - Babes in Toyland

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Friday, February 22, 2008

quotegirl eats chalk

me - Hey, how was your first assembly yesterday kids?
kid - it was good, you know we sang that song: Australians all in Ostriches. It was funny.
me - ...you mean Australians all let us rejoice...?
kid - um...maybe.
(I guess we need to go through that national anthem thingy).

frowny kid - why do you always smile?
me - hm?
frowny kid - well you're always smiling. I don't always feel like smiling so I don't always smile.
me - well, I like smiling, it's nice. You could do with a little more smiling you know! Besides, it's one of our rules!
(Like, it really is. It's on the board in bold letters and everything. Everyone must smile!)

Corey Haim kid - you know how you were away yesterday?
me - yep, sure do
CHK - well, that teacher we had, I forget her name ...or something. She was speaking a different language ...or something. I never understood anything she said. She didn't speak English!
me - oh really? *checking records of who was in the classroom*
CHK - I think she was Italian or something like that.
me - um, she was Irish! She was speaking English!
CHK - oh.
(I suppose it can be hard to tell. I mean the accent is so gorgeous that you really don't care what they're saying half the time do you?!)

Mum - I don't understand this body corporate. Why is there such a thing?
me - it pays for all those things you might want to use in the building plus maintaining the property
Mum - It's like communism, you pay someone else to tell you when you can have a bath, or what food you can eat. Everyone is stuck in the same paying for things they don't even want!
(God, well when she puts it like that, I really can't argue. Perhaps I should cross that one off my list).

me - you doing anything special with the man on vday?
C - well this is the one day of the year that he cooks! So we're having dinner in.
me - how lovely! What do you think he'll cook?
C - I know he's going to cook pancakes.
me - ...pancakes?
C - It's actually the only thing he knows how to cook. He does those shake the bottle ones.
me - oh. my. god...that is so romantic!
C - I know! I'm going to get him chocolates.
(you see guys, no one - worth knowing- is actually expecting a bloody diamond! Just being yourself is nice!)

me - S was upset because none of the other girls brought their babies to dinner. She wanted little N to meet all their babies!
#1 - err..it's not like little N is really going to remember meeting some randoms at a dinner one night. He's a baby!
me - exactly, it's not like they're really going to be exchanging business cards and making dates to meet up at the local pub later!
(I mean seriously. Sometimes babies can be left at home with dad. Dad is also a parent. Dad is in fact the OTHER parent!!

The past two weeks have had me play host to a couple of important people in the classroom. One was Mr school Counselor who has been visiting every grade (trying to get a feel for the wackos probably) and a parent who also happens to be a teacher, who wanted to clock up some volunteer hours in my class. I was a bit nervous having other adults in the classroom after so long out of the classroom - especially since school counselor actually has to work with me as a peer and he also happens to be a parent of a child in the class next door - so comparisons will be made. Meanwhile having one single parent making judgments on your teaching is basically the kiss of death if things go wrong. Sometimes parental opinion comes in the form of lemmings jumping off a cliff you see.

Anyway, both counselor and parent said wonderful complimentary things - even going so far as to praise the way I had my classroom organised in comparison with the other grades (including the counselor's child's class). It's made me feel a whole lot more at ease with my teaching and that the hard work is paying off. My class is still difficult but I've worked damn hard to get them to where they are now, which is nowhere near where I want them to be but has been garnering a lot of compliments from their other specialist teachers. It's very cool.

random question - answer honestly: Are you completely repulsed or strangely fascinated by all the cyst/boil removal videos on You Tube? I have to say, I can watch that shit all day. Sorry - but it's true. I'm really into freaky stuff like that. Apologies if you find this revelation about my good self unbearable and now want to stop reading!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

can't quite keep thoughts straight

Settling back into classroom teaching has been difficult. Getting through a day in a classroom is much easier than getting through a day in the AR but teaching the preps is just out of this world: hard. Most of them don't know their letters, or sounds or even how to write their names properly (ie; not backwards). Can you imagine how inundated I am by requests for help whenever we do ANY activity? It's crazy I tell ya.

Anyway, I'm coming home from work each night mentally and physically exhausted and I think as a consequence of this and reading that Tom Cruise biog by Andrew Morton I've been having some weird dreams. Last night probably took the cake as weirdo horrific dream of the year. Picture this - Germany 1942 - an underground secret railroad. I've traveled back in time in order to prepare for a school excursion (??) and find myself in the middle of a finely orchestrated escape attempt by Jewish people out of the country and away from the extermination camps. The dark dingy caves are packed with groups of whispering people who are scared for their lives. Suddenly we are ambushed by armies of soldiers and people are being brutally murdered all around me. I am lost in the crowd, confused about whether my fate is sealed or not. I wake before I die - almost prying my own eyes open and searching for some sort of recognition in the shadows in dark of my bedroom. I much preferred it when I was dreaming of men with strong lips. Andrew Morton with his mention of Nazi Germany and Scientology in the same sentence has a lot to answer for.

Earlier this week Scorpy was in an injury at work. A friend from work updated his blog in order to inform his readers about what was going on with Scorps. Hopefully all will be okay but this got me thinking about what I'd do if something happened to me. Who would I get to update and indeed would I even want to? Also there is the question of if I did - what would said trusted friend think of me after they had updated the blog? Would they be surprised? Would they be embarrassed for me? Would they think I was an idiot or would they discover something in me that they hadn't really contemplated before? I honestly don't know.

Scorpy's mate made the comment about his writing:

Some of it is very deep. I didn't know he had it in him.

Which made me think about how we are all perceived in life versus in blog land and indeed how complex we are as characters both on the street and in our own heads. I have been doing this for long enough to realise that everything is not what it seems when it comes to most characters, but I was to qualify that statement by saying I'm NOT talking about lying here. I mean - people explore real parts of themselves on their blog which may or may not be featured centre stage in real life. For instance, one person may come across as crass or hopeless or always on the verge of being a complete nutbag but in real life this may also be true, it's certainly not all of themselves, like it may be in a blog.

We are not one dimensional. So why is it so hard to reconcile all of those parts of ourselves so that we are always what we seem, in ALL facets of our lives?

Maybe those real life men's men - blokey blokes - explore a more "deep" side on their blog because they can't quite get to exposing that side of themselves (for whatever reason) in real life. I wonder why not? Do we (both men and women) really crucify men who express themselves eloquently in real life or is this a myth perpetuated by the gay phobia and a degradation of the "thinker" in the sports pages of every tabloid newspaper out there? Are men who write in the first place a bit more sensitive anyway and that's why this dichotomy of blokey guy on the outside, superhero deep guy on the blogside (made up word) exists?

If you were in an accident and your friend read your blog would they be surprised by reading a different person to who they really knew?

Thinking music - one of my favourites (of course)

Get Off - The Dandy Warhols

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From Little things Big Things Grow

Working in a school I know that "sorry" is a word that is of paramount importance. One encounters it on a daily basis, an hourly basis even. It's apparent to me and has always been, that only the truly arrogant do not see the point in saying sorry. It's the same children that can't give a sincere apology that find it hardest to not only make friends, but more importantly keep friends. It's those that can't say sorry, that also have problems empathising, problems sympathising, problems engaging and problems growing emotionally as humans. Some never say it at all - steadfastly refusing on some technicality never realising that the word is symbolic of mate ship - the one true Australian value. Some children need to understand a situation better before they will utter it, some will take the responsibility on the chin and say it when it needs to be said and others still will say sorry even on behalf of their friends because they know that sorry is not always about blame but also (and most importantly) about comforting someone to the point where they are then able to move forward.

And so, with this in mind the collective we: Australians who cared about taking a united step forwards, waited today for the word we knew was aimed to give comfort, to put a hand on the shoulder of a whole race of people, our oldest people, and say not 'we regret that..' but that we are sorry - because when all is said and done this is what a friend would say to another friend. I'm sorry, you didn't get that job. I'm sorry your mother died. I'm sorry this bad thing happened to you. And yet, this devastating issue of an indigenous generation ripped away from their families many years ago now, had not heard that simple two syllable word...until today.

And it was said.
And it was good.
And hopefully from this little thing big things will grow.

From Little Things Big Things Grow - Paul Kelly (written with Kev Carmody) (A song worth listening to)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the world seems difficult

Being back at school means I'm busier than I've been in many months. I realise now that although the art role was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done - and rewarding beyond belief - this role, teaching these first year students is all encompassing and means not one moment to myself. I'd forgotten how much of yourself you lose when you're a teacher. From wake - almost all the way to sleep I am consumed by my job. I'm putting in 12 hour days every day and come home exhausted, only to wake up to do it all over again. On my salary, that is above and beyond the call of duty. This is not so good for my psychosocial wellbeing but yet it also means I don't have a lot of time on my hands to think about other things that have been getting me down lately - which is probably a good thing. Somehow though, those things - that have been going on lately in my life that I've pushed underneath the carpet - have reared up today anyway. I don't know, sleep seems like such sweet relief at the moment and the only thing I can handle doing that is classified as "me time". It's the only thing in my life I really want to do. That can't be good can it?

The World Seems Difficult - Mental as Anything

The World Seems Difficult

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Hang up the Chick Habit.

A few months ago I saw the Tarantino movie Death Proof and it got me thinking. For the record, I am a fan of his work - mostly for his brilliant use of quick dialogue but also for the blur that exists in his depicting a concrete era. I like the fact that Pulp Fiction is 50s influenced however also very much a contemporary look at the culture at the time. It's like all of his work, not quite retro, not quite a homage but very much flavourful of a genre or era without being overpowered by it. I also happen to think he has flawless taste in music and so, no matter the film I know that the soundtrack will be a killer.

I remember though when PF came out. Tarantino got a lot of flack for
a) language.
b) violence.
c) lack of strong female characters in his work.

Personally I think all three were bogus complaints all based in truth of course, but bogus nevertheless. I enjoyed the language and violence and if a man can't make a boy centered movie with a bit of grit then I don't want to know him. Yes, he uses excessive language and yes some of the scenes in all of his movies are disgusting. So what? Deal with it.

Tarantino was a smart cookie though, he saw how popular his character Mrs Mia Wallace (from PF) was among both ladies and gents that he addressed his lack of strong female leads quick smart and made one of the most kickarse lady movies ever - Kill Bill vol 1 and 2. Death Proof once again looks at female leads, however, he also adds in a strong male character to mix it up: Stuntman Mike.

The movie Death Proof has two parts within the movie - and this is going to be full of spoilers folks... The first part - three girls who think they are "badass" take to the road, visit a bar meet Stuntman Mike and end up dead. The second part - another group of girls, take to the road, visit a diner, meet Stuntman Mike and kick the shit out of him.

What was different? And just how did the second lot of girls outsmart and out kick Stuntman Mike? I mean, this guy had his sadist act down. He has a death proof car folks and he was not afraid to use it to kill women of his choosing.

Let's just have a little look see at wider society and women. One could argue in this era of post-feminism we have two kinds of women - women who don't take any shit and women who do. Of course, the reality is that there are many kinds of women, all individual - but this is a MOVIE guys, let's be serious - plus, we're looking at generalities here and in terms of a generality this would be right. Shit takers and shit givers. One could argue the same for men as well. People. People are shit takers or shit givers.

The shit takers in this movie would be seen in the first part of the movie. They are the hot, sexy girls who flirt with any man that moves. Why? Well just because they can folks, just because they can. For the record, no man complains about this fact. Who doesn't want a hot girl dressing sexy and flirting with them? Hell, did I mention they are hot? The guys are lining up to buy them drinks and the girls accept the drinks, give the boys a little sugar by way of kisses and flirting and then leave. Hell, that's their prerogative, girls don't have to put out if they don't want to do they? These girls in part one, in no uncertain terms know what they want. They are not stepford wives. They are not on a hunt for a husband. They are not gold diggers or any of that. They have careers and their own minds. This is very important to the plot because in no way are we to think of these girls as traditionally "weak".

Things for these girls seem pretty peachy. Everyone thinks they are a lovely, and they are. In the land of successful females they go very far. The thing is though, even though they seem so in control of their lives they are not. All men's interactions with these girls are only based on sex. The men buy drinks for them because they want sex. The girls promise lap dances for a certain password from men. In fact they are much more crude than the men in the film - they would see themselves as the type of women who are empowered by their sexuality. Watching the movie, you get that impression too. Their "careers" (or just the way they live their lives) are based around sex, or being sexy. Now, sex is a powerful tool and it has been theorised ad nauseum that sex is the most powerful tool that a woman can have in this world. I'm inclined to agree that it IS but I also happen to think that this SUCKS. It means that our options are quite limited if we want to be successful doesn't it? Here's what I think about these kinds of women: women who use sex to their advantage in dealings with men (by sex I mean flirting, being sexy to get what they want etc) are not the kind of women I like. I think they are selling all of us short and quite frankly demeaning themselves. HOWEVER, I do think that women who do use sex as power get very far. Mostly because our society rewards this kind of behaviour from women, rather than from men.

So why then do these women die if they have all the power? Well because like all people with only one source of power they are easy targets. These are the girls who are watched and while there is power in being 'beheld' there is absolutely no autonomy. All their power is based in sex and so when you take that away - ie: you're not interested in their sex then you render them completely powerless and useless. They don't matter any more. They are nothing. And Stuntman Mike, he's a sadist from way back, he doesn't care about the sex - only the cruelty that comes with exploiting that. They have no power when it comes to him and rightly so; they all die. Now you see why I think those girls who base all their power in sex sell the rest of us short. They don't really prosper in dire situations - and life itself is one dire situation after another really.

Enter part 2; 14 months after the part 1 girls have been brutally murdered by Stuntman Mike. Life has changed dramatically in this time. The opening shot, of a cheerleader makes you think that these are going to be yet another bunch of archetypal females that make male fantasies churn, and yet it is realised immediately that this is a big joke on us. These girls might be watched but they also do the looking, and the choosing. These girls are nothing like the ones that came before. It feels like one decade has gone by, socially speaking, rather than only a year. Enter our four main protagonists - again, all sexy/pretty girls who hang out in a male dominated world. They talk about their boyfriends, they talk about their jobs - but they pay their own way. These girls are lovely as well, but they just do their own thing. Their power is based somewhere outside the realm of sex, though it is apparent that they are not abstaining from sex, nor from men. They are just not concerned with flirting it up with randoms. Stuntman Mike notices them though and he's getting ready to kill again but something happens: The girls won't be bullied. He can't take away their sexual power by hating them, because their power isn't based in sex. They've got something different going on.
1) They stick together when it counts.
2) They make their own fun.
3) They are not afraid to get down and dirty.

This is extremely different from the girls in part 1. Both sets of girls have their own jobs and have lives and their own money. On the surface they are poster children for 'new woman' - but as always it's the inside that counts. The part two girls aren't basing their power in sex. They don't need their sexuality reaffirmed everywhere they go. And so, when Stuntman Mike approaches them, they aren't scared into a corner by him, nor are they titillated or charmed like the part 1 girls were. Sure the circumstances were different in part 2, but in the end the part 2 girls were not to be beaten down and killed. They got back on the horse and chased the man down and then beat him until he died. As in, with their bare hands. I have to make the distinction that they're not targeting normal everyday guys - they aren't the perpetrators of violence but they can turn it on when someone else starts it - I love that.

In the second part, the twist is that the girls win. Which comes as a surprise because actually no one expects that to happen - it's so rare in a movie of this sort (slasher/car movie - incidentally movies I grew up watching - especially car movies which I had major nightmares about). These women also stick together and this is an important point. When women base their power in sex then you can easily tear them apart - you don't even have to try. This is because when you have a group of women who all base their power in the reaffirmation of their sexuality and you add one man into the mix then that group of women will immediately begin tearing each other down in order to get to the man. I've seen it a million times before with girlfriends. In the case of the movie you have the part one girls arguing about whether to take the guys home with them, even though they all agreed not to. And you also have them exchange rivalries with each other over men. This isn't good when you're trying to make it out alive. The part two girls stick together and don't have any interest in being rivals at all. It's why they come out alive.

I guess what I'm saying is, and Tarantino touches on it to, that there are girls who look to men to reaffirm their sexuality and those girls are always going to be beaten down because not only does that not last forever but also there will always be people who will want to exploit that. Hell society exploits that all the time. It may be a HUGE power source to be perpetually sexy - but it's also one of the EASIEST to exploit and manipulate. A girl who is thought of only as a sum of body parts (only praised because she has a great arse or great legs or whatever it is that is admired at the time) is easily cut down into body parts when it comes down to it. She's never whole, she's just legs, or neck, or lips etc. That kind of blows. If a girl only has that going for her then she doesn't really have all that much at all and if that's all she's admired for then it says little about those doing the admiring. You see these kinds of girls everywhere, in life and in blog-land too funnily enough. Sometimes words are enough without pictures even. Everything comes back to sex - or rather to the odd comment or entry that screams; 'remember, I'm sexy!'. Couple that with being ultra competitive with other women and you have someone who is easily dismantled, humiliated and left alone without backup. Not a good position to be in when being hunted down (aka, life)

Girls, keep your girlfriends close and your interests varied. Girlfriends will back your shit up with the chips are down and if you're not afraid to smudge the mascara a bit then you can kick some major arse! Don't worry, you can always keep a makeup compact in your purse, for the touch up afterwards.

Should girls kick arses or are they better off just using sex to get what they want? Is not using sex too utopian for the society we live in - do women HAVE to use their sexuality to their advantage in order to get ahead, not just in work but in life, generally speaking?
How do men use their sexuality to get what THEY want - and why doesn't anyone ever call them on it?

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

co-worker schmoe-worker

I'm having this little issue with a co-worker of mine. Recently she's taken over a team leader position in my area of teaching. Within this team she is the most experienced teacher, however she is not the most experienced in terms of having taught at this level before. There are two other teachers who are more experienced in teaching this grade than her and one of those teachers is me. This is a rather important point because kids at the level I teach at are unlike any other grade in the school. They are so far beyond what would be considered normal that you can't even compare it to teaching in any other grade. I know because I have taught other grades and the first time I came to teach this grade I was so unprepared for how different it was that it wasn't funny.

Anyway, this new leader is, I think, feeling threatened by the fact that this is all so overwhelming to her and in order to lift her own profile she keeps making condescending comments to me. In fairness she hasn't known me in any other role except as the art teacher and obviously I was sensitive about that perception when coming back into the classroom, but I've had enough of it now. Today she made a rather obvious comment about needing to enter names into the database - I mean, no shit right? - but it was something, incidentally (and rather surprisingly) she needed clarification about herself. I guess she felt embarrassed about not knowing how to do this herself that she wanted to appear more competent than someone else so ...why not pick on the art teacher? Unfortunately by that stage I'd had enough of little children crying at me all day that I just snapped Yeah I know, I *have* been working with his program *in the classroom* for about 5 years. rrraaow! I totally called her out and ...well, was a bit awkward after that. Now things are weird. I hate that.

For the most part I'm a rather easygoing person to deal with in real life. I do call people on their bullshit, don't get me wrong, but I rarely confront people with anger, especially in a work environment. I'd rather check my own ego if it means keeping the peace - which is what usually ends up happening. This is so at odds with how I deal with things on the internet where I'll just say exactly what I think at all times. If I don't then it's not because I respect you so much that I can't possibly say what I really think, it's just that I think you can't handle a discussion/comment beyond a 'yes ma'am' or 'yes sir'. Basically I think you'll pussy out and I'm don't care to deal with the wah wah bullshit that goes along with that. But in the work environment I will take one for the team - not if I truly believe something to be wrong - but when it comes to little disputes then yes.

Now, I'm not so sure of how to handle this one.

Do I keep on asserting that yes, yes I've been there done that - I'm much more experienced in teaching a grade than I am teaching art?

Do I just ignore the whole situation?

Do I go to her for the answer to a really obvious question that will re-establish the - you leader, me pleb - role?

Do I say fuck it and take the whole school and all the children down with me in a blaze of glory?

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

so you think you can...


Ms Diane tagged me and it was an interesting meme which I am going to ignore the rules of. And you know... I don't really tag people so if you like the meme then do it, if not then don't.

Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five (err...or more in my case) favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch: Link 1 must be about family. Link 2 must be about friends. Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about. Link 4 must be about something you love. Link 5 can be anything you choose. I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments

1. Family: photos is about coming across an old photo of my father one day and my feelings about that. Nonna which was a post about my childhood and my grandmother who lived with us, her strained relationship with my mother and the powerlessness of being a child.

2. Friends: country/city is a favourite of mine - a trip taken one afternoon with a group of girlfriends. It was a fabulous day. How to Make a Pre-Wedding Quilt - girlfriends on the eve of a marriage. Today Is - #1 and I take a trip to visit our friend F just before she's about to give birth.

3. I rock: Open Letter to myself and to you - about me and a promise I'm making to myself. The Personal Ad Experiment Well, I had fun, learnt a bit about myself (and men) and had a laff.

4. I love: Recipe of Me is exactly that - you are what you eat, so therefore I am what I watch, read and listen to too. These are some of the things I love. Hugs I also love hugs - but not ALL kinds of hugs. Fly on the Wall Melbourne, you know I love her.

5. My favorite post(s).
* Cinema Under Stars on a Balmy Night - a picnic with a twist.
*Guest Post - who can forget when Mark Philippoussis wrote an guest entry on my blog! Wow.
*Cowboy Wave Riders of Torquay where I stood and watched the surfers for a while one evening.
*I'm Paid Good Money not to be Ignored My Musical Monday on Courtney Love. I loved writing it.
*God is a Dum Cunt and the follow up

Musical Monday

Today's musical Monday comes via inspiration from the tele - in particular dance on the tele and if you like more specifically boys who dance. Now being a girl who danced when younger I can appreciate the heartbreaking determination and soul that goes into dance. But girls who dance are everywhere. Boys who dance, however and those in particular that pursue it as a career are not. They face a lot of obstacles. At the school I work at we have a very strong dance ethic. We have a fabulous dance teacher who inspires her pupils. Indeed almost 1/3 of the school gives up 2 to 3 lunchtimes a week just to dance. A large percentage of that is made up of boys who dance. In promoting the activity we spent a couple of years really selling the idea to boys. I had a few in my own class back then who I recruited. These boys were football playing, sport loving, cool beyond words boys - but they gave dance a go for a laugh. Their involvement in the arts gave other boys a reason to come along too. These boys did not stick around for one dance routine...indeed they were still doing it five years later when they left the school and even if they never take it any further than that - they still got a lot of out it. Hopefully, if nothing else they learned that's it's okay to be a boy who has rhythm and be a boy who can express himself through movement.

I guess boys who actively take up dance are often thought of as sissy or weak. They might be picked on by other boys who are exclusively into sports or be ridiculed by their own fathers or brothers who are afraid they might turn out "gay". The truth is that there are a lot of men who dance who ARE gay, but there are also a lot of men who dance who are straight too. Just to add some perspective - there are a lot of rugby players who are gay too. I'm not sure why male dancers get such a raw deal. They aren't weak or sissy - if we're looking at adults then men who dance are among the most athletic of ALL sporting professionals! They are also in many cases stronger and fitter. They have stamina and bloody hell do they have courage and heart. You don't go into dance without suffering enormous blows to your ego (like every time you audition) as well as have your body beat up especially your knees, ankles, feet etc. The arts is also a difficult area to pursue for men and it actually takes a man of integrity and passion who is going to do it properly. These are people who have fought tooth and nail to make it. They know what it's like to work hard against the odds and to work for their goals even when everyone in the world is against you. I have amazing amount of respect for men who dance.

So in celebration of Billy Elliot which is on the tele tonight and all those boys who have the courage and determination to go against the grain here's a couple of favourite songs of mine from the film soundtrack (which incidentally is one of my favourite film soundtracks for many reasons)

London Calling - The Clash

Town Called Malice - The Jam (I've already featured this one in my "T" musical Monday but yeah, worth a reprise).

Children of the Revolution - T-Rex

(yes, you read right, T-Rex! <3<3<3<3)

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