Sunday, June 29, 2008

...so I try a little Freddie

The 'officially old' birthdays are coming strong and fast now. I've celebrated (and commiserated with) quite a few in the last month. It's meant that I've had to come out of my otherwise rather comfortable hibernation and socialise with people again. I have to be honest and say that I'm finding it really hard to do this. Hiding away has been like a little blanket keeping me warm in an otherwise bitter winter. Socialising is all too hard because I can't be bothered making small talk with people who, when sober, never think of catching up with me.

It's also been a time of ..emotional spring cleaning I suppose. I'm wondering with great curiosity who my real friends really are. Are they the people that pick you up? Are they the people that ring you out of the blue? Are they the people that think about you before they go to sleep? Are they just the people who invite you to their birthdays or the ones who add you on facebook?

Maybe there's a lot going on with everyone else but lately I find myself wondering what it (friendship) means, and who they are. Maybe the problem lies with me, I don't ask for a lot. I don't actually ever ask for anything. Nothing. I don't ask people to step out of their way for me at all and I haven't done so for many years now. And I'm fully willing to respect the fact that it's my own trust issues that are on display here, not anyone elses. Maybe I'm not a good friend. However, I have to say recently I did ask a few friends to do something for me and it was something minimal (to be present at a dinner) and well... it didn't happen (the reasons I won't go into but were petty). This is beginning to sound like a teenage girl's dear diary but I've been there for birthdays, engagements, weddings, births etc, often arriving and leaving alone (though I have a rather severe anxiety about doing so) and going to places where I really don't feel comfortable at all and 100% of the time with a present in hand to boot. I've been the person that has been woken up at 3am by a crying someone wanting comfort. I've been the person who has said yes I'll be your crutch in any situation. But the same hasn't really come back to me or ...for me. The whole situation has forced me to evaluate a lot of things and also to evaluate myself and where I stand in the world. It's been ...difficult - made more difficult by not being able to hibernate to the extend that I need to at the moment.

Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest oh dear diary. Now I'm going to go write bad poetry and rim my eyes with black eyeliner.

Here's a song - a long time favourite that has helped me to swim a little in an otherwise drown-worthy situation. God knows that when the chips are down I can always turn to music. Always.

Maps - Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs.

(I was talking to someone the other night about the song Let's Dance to Joy Division by The Wombats. He was saying how much he liked it and I didn't really know that much about The Wombats but said that I loved Joy Division. He said that he thought JD were ohhhkaaay but hadn't really listened to much their stuff. I immediately made the loud proclamation that he was not allowed to like a song with such a title if he didn't have an extensive knowledge of Joy Division first. Am I being too harsh? I stand by my statement though I must also point out that I was a little tipsy (read: obnoxiously drunk and pissed off with the world and didn't really mean to take it out on the poor guy).

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So the time has come for me to pick a new laptop for work. I'm up against two choices and I am smack bang in the middle about which to choose. I begged the department sent me the specifications for the Thinkpad but they said the Mac specs were not available yet so I'm assuming that the Apple site is giving me the correct info.

The problem is - I read the specifications and it's like reading code or something. So this is where you come in. Which would you go for?

ThinkPad R61 15.4W with Multi-burner drive

• Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 processor (1.8GHz, 800MHZ frontside bus)
• Intel 965GM Express chipset
• 2GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
• 120GB 5400rpm built-in hard disk drive
• DVD Multiburner Ultrabay Enhanced drive (interchangeable)
• 15.4" Widescreen display (1024x768 active matrix) display
• Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
• Lithium Ion 6-cell battery
• Built in full size keyboard with keyboard light.
• TrackPoint and touchpad pointing devices
• Built in stereo speakers
• Intel PRO wireless network connection 4965AG - 11a/b/g
• Integrated 56Kbps V.90 fax/data modem
• Built-in 10/100/1000BASE –T Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
• Ports: 3 x USB v.2.0, 1 x Firewire.
• Bluetooth.
• Built-in webcam.
• AC Adapter
• Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise.
• Back Pack style carrying case.
• Delivery within Victoria
• Three (3) years on-site warranty (response by end of next business day)

Pro - 1) TrackPoint button: I love this thing! 2) right click button. I will never understand why Apple decided lack of right click was a great way to differentiate themselves from the PC. 3) The IT guy at school is a PC person. Whenever a Mac question comes up he's all like "I dunno!". 4) Mostly no issues with accessing server/internet etc at school.
Cons - 1) Windows Vista: This is a big piece of shit. I hate it with a passion. It's difficult in all areas. 2) Interchangeable DVD drive: does this mean you have to take the whole drive out and replace with another one? If so, that fucking sucks. 3) I'm thinking PCs are generally unstable. 4) Issues with using internet at home and then coming to school and using server there. 5) Bill Gates controls too much of the market already, do I really want to put out to such a corporate whore?

Apple Macbook

• 13.3-inch (diagonal) glossy widescreen TFT display
• Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard
• iLife ’08 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand)
• 120GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive; optional 160GB or 250GB 5400-rpm drive4
• 24x slot-loading Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
• Writes CD-R discs at up to 24x speed; writes CD-RW discs at up to 16x speed; reads CDs at up to 24x speed; reads DVDs at up to 8x speed
• 1GB (two 512MB SO-DIMMs) or 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB
• 800MHz frontside bus
• 2.1GHz or 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed
• MagSafe power port
• Gigabit Ethernet port
• Mini-DVI port
• FireWire 400 port (up to 400 Mbps)
• Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
• Audio line in, Audio line out, Kensington cable lock slot
• carrying case.
• Delivery within Victoria
• Three (3) years on-site warranty (response by end of next business day)

Pros - 1) iTunes. I love my music. I love my music being stored on a Mac. The music burns quickly off the CDs and is generally hassle free. I can't live without my iPod and I don't want to compromise that.. 2) Leopard = better than Vista. 3) It's cuter. 4) Media stuff/graphics..
Cons - 1) Won't be able to use a couple of programs that I need to use as part of my assessment - though I only use them twice a year, but still. 2) Though PC seems more unstable any major drama I have had over the past 3 years with computers has had to do with my Mac rather than my PC. PC has shitty everyday issues, Mac busts my balls with hundreds of dollars worth of damage every time something goes wrong. 3) Smaller display. 4) no right click! (What is WITH that?). 5) Will have to run Windows interface on it anyway to deal with work stuff - this could be of extra cost to me. Yes, have to. 6) Everyone I know at school who has a Mac either is fanatically obsessed with them and therefore weird, or says they would not go down the Mac road ever again, if given a second choice.

I dunno, it's neck and neck for me. Can you give me a few pointers oh great people of the internets?

Notice I didn't put anything about viruses up there? Yes, the reason is that I'm sure by now there are hackers who fucking hate those Mac ads and want to kill all Macs but creating the mother of all viruses that is going to target Macs and not PCs. Just you wait. It's so going to happen.

PC vs Mac

Mac vs PC

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to look...

I've watched the show on and off for the last few weeks and it's not bad. Basically How to Look Good Naked takes a new woman every episode who hates her own body (with a gut wrenching passion) and shows her how to love it, just as it is - perhaps with a little bit of frosting by way of a better bra/hair do but essentially without an extreme makeover. Pretty good idea, huh?*

There are so many women who hate their bodies. I have never met one woman in my life who is completely at ease with her body. I don't even know OF any women who are completely at ease with their body actually. I do however know size 6 (I think that's size 0 in the US) women who complain they are fat, who live at the gym, who think their legs are fat. It's wrong. Perhaps one might be more accepting of their own body after years of dieting or after the extreme makeover like you see on the those TV shows but as a whole we women are very good at hating our bodies. I think the stats the show talks about is that 4 out of every 5 American women hate their body and people who we see in magazines are skinnier than 98% of us. It's really no wonder we have a problem with normality when what we compare ourselves to is completely unrealistic?

Know anyone with an eating disorder?
Ever had one yourself?

I'm guessing there would be a lot of yes answers to that - it's sad.

I think the biggest problem with all this is that hating your body means that:
1) you don't get out there and live your life.
2) you are more vulnerable to feeling less worthy than a magazine cover that has been airbrushed.
3) you feel like shit.
If 4 out of 5 women feels like that then wow, how easy would it be to keep us girls down? Pretty fucking easy. It's always easier to make people with low self worth feel even worse about themselves.

Easily my favourite part of the show is when the girl in question is asked to slot herself into a line of near naked ladies - in accordance to the size she thinks she is. Every woman's self image so far has been of herself being larger than she is. They slot themselves into the larger side. That says a lot about self perception.

Even if the girls were being modest during this and don't see themselves as large (even though they put themselves down the larger end of the line) it says a lot about how we women represent and view ourselves. If 4 out of every 5 women feel like crap because they're not good enough for some reason or another then 4 out of every 5 women are not big noting themselves, even when they do deserve it. I'm reminded of this:

Research in Linda Babcock’s 2004 book Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, found that 93 per cent of female graduates from a US university simply accepted the starting salaries they were offered in their first job, while more than half of the male graduates tried to negotiate up.

Is it any wonder this happens? 4 out of 5 women can't even look at themselves in the mirror, do you really think these same women are going to ask for a pay rise? Um, no. I'm not saying this is all due to hating our bodies but I do think that yes, it's all tied in with a greater feeling of unworthiness for us. Who knows where it really comes from originally (do we go back to Eve?), and who knows why we willingly adhere to it so readily by buying into the beauty myth time and again but yes, it exists, yes it's very real, yes it affects our everyday lives.

Probably though the biggest question I have coming out of the show How to Look Good Naked though is why it takes a gay man to tell us women to love ourselves? You'd think a woman would be willing to tell us because we should love ourselves, or perhaps the straight men who are supposed to love us for who we are could let us know. No? Not going to happen any time soon huh? Interesting.

In the meanwhile - while we all scramble to get our acts together. Thank you, Carson (and Gok Wan - also openly gay and hosted the original series) <3

* Honestly I've heard some people argue that this kind of show is horrible simply because we shouldn't let people believe that they are beautiful when they so obviously are not (ie: they are too fat and since fat is not beautiful by society's standrads then they shouldn't be allowed to love themselves because if they loved themselves then they wouldn't lose weight). This kind of argument disgusts me to no end.

On to music - Their first album Lesser Matters has been on constant rotation in my car over the last few weeks. I can't tell you how much I am loving this band lately. This song is particular makes me want to run through a valley of golden wild flowers for some reason. I have strange fantasies.

Where Damage Isn't Already Done - The Radio Dept.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Gaze and the City

A couple of months ago when I wrote a post about the (lack of) visibility of the penis in contemporary mainstream cinema I never thought that it would be so soon between drinks (so to speak) and I could again be subjected to the same enjoyable spectacle. Yes folks, penis spotting is alive an well in the Sex and the City movie currently doing the rounds at the cinemas.

Funnily enough it wasn't really the penis itself that interested me this time, more that the so called traditional male gaze of the camera had been flipped and twisted for a second into an almost unheard of female gaze. It was a bit of a shock to me that I became so aware of the switch in the first place. I had just assumed that a movie about women and basically made for women would be filmed primarily with a female gaze - god knows the subject matter would probably bore any heterosexual man to a slow and painful death -but I assumed wrong. It seems that the female gaze remains as highly elusive in popular mainstream cinema as it ever was and I don't think this phenomenon is due to any kind of big conspiracy either - it just is that way, god knows why but it just is. The fact is that a female perspective in cinema may exist in so far as subject matter and characterisation is concerned but not in terms of cinematography. Does it even matter? I don't know - does it? Women look at women's bodies all the time - the difference is that while we will, can and do appreciate the female form this is not necessarily a sexually laden gaze - does the male gaze of the camera lens take this concept fully into consideration or is it just all knowing and omnipresent like God? It is all gazes, it is the only gaze, it is supreme and all accommodating? And if this is the case why did I get the shock of my life when I finally recognised the female camera gaze? Hm, why indeed?

The scene in question was the a shower scene where man-crazy Samantha pervs on her neighbour as he takes a naked outdoor shower (as you do in California apparently). The camera moves slowly and lovingly over the man's body, focusing on his heavily defined and muscular back and perfect bum and right down to his strong, tanned and not too hairy legs before it travels back up again to it's final destination - the money shot. If I ever needed a moment to tell me what women see when they are having a good perv that was it. I had become so accustomed to viewing cinema through the filter of the male gaze (camera) that I had to think twice in order to recognise my own. It felt foreign to see something filmed so entirely from the point of view of a woman that I completely disengaged from watching the movie. I remember thinking "oh, now that's interesting" - but it wasn't his body, it was the camera that I found interesting. Also the sudden representation of a female filter by which to watch a movie, one I had naively assumed I had always viewed movies with, was just so strange. The fact that I had just realised then just how strange it was unnerved me - the movie while being female-centric was filmed primarily in classic male gaze form. The point being of course not that this was done in order to exclude women, just the opposite the point is that we, women, are most comfortable in viewing cinema (all art?) in this way. The question of course then is why?

When I have theorised the male gaze of the camera in the past it is always with reference to old movies of the Hitchcockian era (and of course Laura Mulvey) where scopophilia really was a male dominated art form. I'd assumed due to various changes in movie subject matter, the rise of female directors and indeed the societal changes due to the women's movement that cinema had changed too. Ahem - perhaps not.

It's funny that it took *this* particular movie based on a series so obsessed with highlighting the *look we've come so far because now we can have sex like men* cliche, to drum the point home. We women are comfortable seeing ourselves through the point of view of how men see us - and perhaps this is highlighted in many of the female-centric things we partake in
(beauty myth etc) and I don't know that we'd even want to change that if we had the chance anyway. The question for me still is, why? I still can't answer it - it's ingrained there somewhere between why we will willingly pay for the pleasure of ripping the hair out of our most sensitive places and why GW Bush was ever re-elected. Questions I guess that answering will open a can of worms so big it can never be contained. Maybe we need that, I don't know but I do think it's highly fucked up that the so called female camera gaze existed for a grand total of 10 seconds in a movie based on women and made for women. Food for thought.

On another note, almost every (straight) guy I know loathes these women, the series, the whole premise of the show etc. Is it hated because it's subversive or because it's bullshit? I've said it before but when something is hated then it's always because a few buttons are in the process of being well and truly pushed.

What say you? Are there any movies you can recommend that show the female gaze in action? Remember female subject matter/characterisation do not necessarily mean a female gaze..

Sex and the City - do you hate it/them? Why?

And now my musical choice today comes of my female gaze quite happily looking through the filter of the male gaze. Go figure! Here we have the Duck Man performing probably my favourite of all songs I've ever discovered through watching a movie - Otis Redding's Try a Little Tenderness. A scene I love so much I shared it with my university film class as "a favourite" and a song I love so much I rang Gold FM to request it and was sternly told that "we don't play *that*". Hmph! Here are my two favourite things, movies and music combined. Okay, three favourites: Duckie.
...Apparently he has strong lips. Bless!

Try A Little Tenderness - Otis Redding.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Twin Peaks

Ahh BB. I am writing reports which actually means that I'm procrastinating by watching tonnes of BB and poking around on the forums. This last week has seen Travis being bullied by the boys to the point of hospitalisation and Bianca being pressured by the girls to get a breast reduction. The whole thing reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine just can't believe how barbaric it is for guys to give "atomic wedgies" to other guys they don't like. Jerry asks what girls do instead oh..we just tease someone until they develop an eating disorder, she deadpans. Indeed, with this in mind we have many eating disorders yet to come on the daily show. Bonus!

Firstly; Travis. I'd talked about him before - high pitched voice, everyone but him thinks he's gay, annoyingly nice. Since day one he has been the plaything of the other housemates. I'm going to explain it the best way that I know how, basically it's goes like this you're not cool enough to actually be a friend that we care about as another human being but since you're in here you can hang out with us if you let us treat you like shit, cut off your hair in chunks, make fun of you relentlessly and then squirt you in the eye with half a bottle of shower wash and laugh while you scream and try to wash out your eye. And so there we have the story of Travis and the other housemates (namely, the boys). Post hospitalisation (could have been serious eye damage) we see Travis re-enter the house all smiles and forgiveness. I don't know what to say. On the one hand he really needs to tell those bullies to back the fuck off. On the other hand I am certain Travis doesn't see it as bullying. He has probably been treated in similar ways by lots of people throughout his life - especially people like the alpha males we have present in the BB house - and maybe this is just a more intense extension of that. Either way it's getting uncomfortable to watch. I dislike people who pick on others for no higher purpose than...just because they can. It's pathetic.

It all brings up a good point though. If the victim doesn't see himself as one then IS he a victim at all? Who decides?

Now, Bianca. Bianca has humongous and rather magnificent knockers that would be hard to miss, even from outer space. The thing is, from day one girlfriend has been complaining that it's a curse rather than a blessing to have boobs such as hers. Then again, she doesn't cover them at all times either. Lady isn't a nun, after all.

The other night a fight developed between Bianca, Alice and Renee (it should be noted that neither A or R has boobs that would fill an A cup), whereby A and R became angry at B for complaining about her breasts when indeed all she does is "flaunt them" and that if she doesn't like her breasts that much she should get the breast reduction that she's been moaning about for the past few weeks and just shut up about them. If Bianca knew Judo I have a feeling A and R wouldn't have heads right now. She was livid that these two girls would tell HER what to do with HER body. B had explained on other occasions that she will probably get a breast reduction later on after having (and breastfeeding) children but not now and she's pissed that she even has to defend her point of view on the matter anyway.

"We’re talking about my life, my body. Do I go up to you Al, and say ‘You’ve got small tits, you should get big ones?’

“You’re sitting here, trying to convince me about this crap and you don’t have to live with them. You don’t have to f**ken live with them. How would you know how I feel? Or why I wanna choose what I choose? It’s my choice.”

The fight gets more heated until Bianca exits the van and continues to chuck the most spectacular hissy fit I've seen since on BB in a long time.

“I have to spend my whole f**king life defending [my breasts] and then I get two tossers that think that they know how I feel.

“If it was a physical f**king disability like a gammy arm or something, it wouldn’t be a story of ‘When do you want it fixed?’”

But Bianca wasn’t finished: “If I was born with a f**ken cleft lip …”

“It’s not a cleft lip Bianca!” Alice shot back.

“It’s still a physical thing man,” Bianca screamed. “It’s like me sitting there and going, ‘You’re insecure about your titties, why don’t you get fake ones?’”

“I’ve thought about it and I don’t want to ever,” Alice said in return.

“Exactly!” Bianca said passionately. “I’ve thought about it and I don’t want to until I meet a guy that accepts me with them.”

Later on Bianca explains her point of view on why she doesn't get the breast reduction now to Travis. She says she wants whoever she marries to know what it is like to go through life dealing with having such big boobs. Shes doesn't want to get them lopped off and then tell stories about what it was like, trying forever to explain something that no one who hasn't been through it can understand. She also wants to have children and breastfeed. Most importantly she doesn't want to be pressured into doing something she's not totally comfortable with until she's ready to do it for herself.

For once in my life I actually agree with Bianca. I never thought I'd see the day. I totally get her POV on them being a curse while still embracing them as part of her. Why isn't she allowed to do that? Why is it that she can't complain about her boobs yet the rest of the housemates can go on about their flabby arses (which are not flabby at all) and yet still flaunt THEM in extra short shorts? It's utter hypocrisy. Furthermore many of the flat chested girls have complained about having no boobs and yet are not pressured by the other housemates into getting implants. A point which Bianca brings up in her argument as well.

I found the whole argument mystifying and a little disturbing - do people not realise just how major the surgery is for a breast reduction? It's nothing like getting implants, it can be damaging to nerves and more often than not leave horrific scars. I don't think the other two girls were jealous of Bianca's boobs exactly. Anyone with shit for brains can see that they are impossible to miss and being this way means that no one is ever going to approach her as anything more than that girl with big boobs. It might get her certain places with certain people but when you think about the kind of people that would be willing to give a girl a break based on her boob size...well it's probably not the kind of break a girl would even want. So, I doubt Alice and Renee would want that, but maybe part of them doesn't want Bianca to get any attention for 'the ladies' at all. The thing is, all these girls have little things they do that get them attention around the house - whether it's being "tickle buddies" or "cuddle buddies" or flirting openly with the boys or just being bossy. Dude they're in the Big Brother house - they're all attention whores. Do they not understand how attention whores operate? Why begrudge Bianca the same for a couple of boobs? At least they're fucking real!

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others - The Smiths

(couldn't resist - plus it's The Smiths!)

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