Thursday, July 28, 2011

The History Of My Birthday (With Bowie)

[To set the scene]

(I'm not implying I am the lady in question. I could never be that cool/cold in a million years.)

Last night I learned I didn't walk until I was almost one and a half years old. My eldest sister walked at nine months. Now, some people might be embarrassed by that piece of information. Not me. I think it set a precedent for a life of doing things in my own time... (or just being very comfortable taking it easy.)

It's my birthday in two days. I've been trying to play it cool and I've been doing pretty well at times, but now we're on the home straight there's no denying it: I'm fucking excited. Tomorrow is my lovely little niece's first experience of the wonderful phenomenon that is a birthday, and even though she's not here for me to strap to my back and hit the pub with, knowing she's just a few hours north (actually getting to make a party in her nappy) is so festive it's making my build-up almost unbearable. Plus, tomorrow already has the advantage of being a Friday, complete with Friday feeling, and after our usual happy time at the pub, my marvellous friends and I will be hitting a karaoke bar where I will then hit them, with this:

Genesis: Birthdays were second only to Christmas in our house. I think the difference with our family is that a birthday isn't just a card in the morning and dinner at night; it's a full day celebration, and being the youngest, I had four people at home, all older and more capable, who had secrets beforehand and then celebrated me all day long. Then when I was about six I got a lucky book called The Choosing Day about a little girl who picks everything on her birthday so her mother has to wear her wedding dress and she invites all kinds of riff raff to her birthday picnic, and it had a profound effect on me. I'd always been comfortable in/followed the limelight, and on a birthday I was at my best - I would be magnanimous and gracious and enthusiastic, and it was easy because, in my mind, I was queen for the day. It was my duty. Also, I felt like there was something special about my birthday that everybody felt (reserve judgement; we're not done). I distinctly remember a birthday at McDonalds when I was turning five, I think, dressed to kill in my denim mini and white Sunshine California jumper, when every time I hopped on the Mayor McCheese roundabout (I always went for the top of his hat, of course) kids would come out of nowhere and start spinning me, like little mice, running round and round and then hopping on once we had enough momentum. There's a photo of me sitting atop his head looking bored, but inside I was intrigued and thrilled. They didn't know it was my birthday. They must have felt it was my birthday.

The Golden Period: At secondary school I didn't know what to expect; my birthday was the first in my small group so I didn't know how it was done. How it was done was that everyone in my class had put in for a bouquet of flowers and at lunchtime my friends blindfolded me and led my up to the top of the three-storey block where they had candles lit on a little cake, and the new Exponents album and a tshirt to go with it. I was floored. Every year girls would turn up with flowers, cakes and cards; some years so many that I would need an assistant to help me lug everything from class to class. Girls I barely knew would give me chocolate bars with bows around them and little Happy Birthday labels. It gave me the strangest feeling; like a beloved monarch, even though these girls were my peers and I made a good few cakes for other people's birthdays myself. But it was the range and number; it felt like everyone remembered. In hindsight, I did have a birthday countdown on several of my classes' whiteboards, but still, it felt special, like birthday magic.

We Meet Sparta: As I got older, this feeling became a problem. There were birthdays when I had meltdowns (early twenties [insert cringe here]) because everything had become so loaded with meaning and there were far fewer people sharing what had become a load. I started expecting things, and reading into everything, and the day just became a stress for me and everyone else. I'd become a dictator, or the entire French monarchy (there certainly wasn't anyone else in my lonely, crazy bubble). However, from inside the bubble, there didn't seem anything crazy at all, and my patient friends and loving family didn't have the heart to tell me I was insane.

Greener Pastures: I still struggle a little with my birthday. I can't help thinking of it as my day, and I have expectations that I don't want to have. But I think I'm getting better; the expectations are more of the day and less of the people. I know that's because my best ever birthday was one when I only saw three people I know and the day was spent celebrating something I truly feel was more important than my birthday - my marriage to Vincent.

Epilogue: I'm a little less excited about my birthday now. Decidedly embarrassed about past birthdays, to be honest. But that will pass, no doubt more quickly than it should. I told Vincent the other night that I think twenty-eight will be the making of me, and although it was just something I said, maybe it will be. I want to be better. I try to be better, most of the time. I love my birthday. I will try to my best to make it so everyone else can love it too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home Alone 2 - Lost In (Inertia The Size Of) New York

Vincent is working and I'm unattended. When I was younger and this happened, it was great. I would do all the things I couldn't do when my parents were home, like watch rude TV programmes and drink Dad's gin and have long showers. Then when I was older and not at home, it was when I could watch Gilmore Girls and play the same song ten times in a row and practise making faces in the mirror and maybe even get drunk and play singstar against myself (sometimes I actually lost; I don't cheat at games). It was a good time. But now it's different. I'm allowed to do whatever I like. And the things I like to do that no-one else does; somebody else does. And the things are more fun when he's doing them too, so when he's not here I do stupid things that I don't do when he's home because they're stupid: for example (I may or may not have done these things), spend an hour looking at my own photos on facebook, eat Watties Big 'n Hearty "soup" instead of an actual dinner, watch Target and then Missing Pieces, and nothing on my list of things I need to do like make my sister's birthday cake and clean the bathroom.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I lived alone. I've always lived with people who loved and looked after me, and so when I'm left to my own devices I tend to patronise foodcourts or eat lots of toast and noodles (three times a day, once, when my sister was away), stay up late, and watch lots of long black and white movies and read lots of schoolgirl books like What Katy Did and Anne Of Green Gables and my collection of fifties and sixties girls annuals. (Which reminds me, I've been pondering lately the question posed in What Katy Did At School - my favourite of the three - "Would you rather seem a greater fool than you are or be a greater fool than you seem?". I would always choose the latter, and I think I still do. Is that normal? Would you?) I think if I lived alone I would become more and more reclusive. I talk a lot, but I happily answer myself; I have entire conversations with myself in the shower sometimes, and as you know I like to interview myself sometimes to get a grip on what I think about things. You're probably thinking I would have all sorts of newspaper structures about the place, piles of plastic containers around the sink, a few hundred cats and perhaps some other pets I wouldn't know about because of all the newspaper, and hang my teabags up to dry on a little piece of string I have up in the kitchen so I can use them again. But you would be wrong. I like my tea strong, so I'd only ever use my teabags once.

I'm a very fortunate girl.

I'm going off to wrap my sister's present now, so I'll leave you with a lovely song. Vincent is dj-ing and I texted to find out the next song he's playing so I could play it at the same time (I know) but when I put it on I realised I don't actually like it so I'm playing this, another song by the same band, instead (I think even Aphrodite thought that was a bit much). Four days to go!

Image from

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Worry Baby

Today is officially my birthday week. I saw it in by working in a freezing cold shop and then seeing a really bad movie. And you know what? Neither was so bad. I get distracted by other things sometimes, but I really like my life. In fact, I love it. There are things I'm not doing that I want to be, and things I do that I want to stop, but it's a happy, happy life. A fine one, in fact. 'Appy 'usband...

Here is a song that I love.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be Of Good Cheer

It's been three days since my last post and all I can say is Film Festival. Christmas aside, it's the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, in some (mostly selfish) ways it's better than Christmas; there's no stress, except for fear of missing out on tickets if you don't have enough money to buy them in advance or have a ten-trip pass that won't let you get tickets until the day of the screening, plus when you see one you like you can just go to it and not feel bad about the person of whom you were meant to be thinking. AND the only contribution to landfill is a small piece of paper which you can easily recycle. Christmas has some stiff competition. Also, right at the end of the festival is my birthday and the anniversary of the best day of my life. The most wonderful time of the year.

I've been trying to churn out responses (I realise what I write are far too personal and uninformative in terms of the film-in-itself to be accurately called reviews) to the films I've seen as I've watched them, but when it's more than one a day it's not easy to do. I'll get them up as soon as I can though and you can read about them here; after tomorrow we have a break of two days when I can do some catching up.

Apart from the movies, of which there hasn't been a dud (highlights so far: Meek's Cut-Off and Guilty Pleasures, as well as Sing your Song, of course), this week has been a bit shit. I only know one other woman who occasionally goes through the type of PMS that sucker-punches me once every few months; when I feel low and horrible about myself, so horrible that I kind of loathe myself and dwell on things I know will make me feel bad (sometimes on purpose - I wish I wouldn't, but I feel that bad). It's a bit like a temporary depression; you can function, and you know it won't last, but you feel so low that it affects everything. I was thinking this week about Dr Melfi describing depression as rage turned inward, and trying to remember if I always felt this bad, and I don't think I did. The beginnings would be the same, but I would lash out and create a situation that would give me (pretty shaky) reasons for feeling bad, a bit like cutting, and I'd expect the person who was collateral to deal with it because I was feeling worse (and I always chose the people who loved me the most). Now I've learnt (and want) to turn it inward so I don't hurt anyone else, but the result is that the reasons I give myself for the way I feel are from me, based on my own insecurities; if the people who know you best can hurt you most, then no-one can hurt you more than you can hurt yourself. All the things I worry about or are threatened by come out like little demons and I don't know what to do; mostly I'll become very withdrawn and just try to get through knowing it's temporary. Sometimes I'll get very drunk (but then I risk losing control and making something happen like I used to), or hang out with people who don't know how I'm feeling and pretend to be okay and have them treat me like I'm not what I feel like I am; work's not bad for this reason. This week I did something new; shopping. And it actually helped. Here is one of the things I bought (which I would have bought anyway; I've had my eye on it since I saw it but couldn't justify it - cheering myself up seemed a good enough reason).

I hope you know the photo is supposed to be funny; I don't like showing my face on my blog, and initially thought I'd put a book up in front of it but it looked crazy (crazier than this, anyway), and the nearest books happened to be this, which I picked up last week in Whangarei, and The Penguin Book Of Socialist Verse, making this the less crazy option (honest to Engels. Just a little further were the two free Mills & Boon romances we got at Guilty Pleasures; there's no way this picture wasn't going to look ridiculous, even if I was bare-headed). I'll bet you didn't think that was possible. I can hear my big sister in Ahipara laughing from here.

So we almost come full circle. I, who have made sport of myself most of the week, now willingly make sport for you. Tomorrow I am confident I will wake up happy, and myself. I will sleep in, play games with my husband of almost two years, go and see a movie, and then write about it. I will wear my new hat and my head will be warm.

All is almost well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My New Hero

(Cue Foofighters and Mariah and The Wind Beneath My Wings.)

If you only see one film at the festival, please make it Sing Your Song. And then get hold of me so we can figure out what we're going to do next.

I had read the little blurb in the booklet but when I arrived at the movie, all I could remember was that Harry Belafonte had had something to do with the Black Civil Rights movement in the USA. In the lobby at the cinema I was one of only three people I could see aged under a hundred, and, unaccompanied, in my hat and green jacket and leather gloves, I felt like a fast woman. I went in and set myself up, five rows from the front so I wouldn't have the distraction of people's heads, and prepared to be entertained. Oh, naive little girl. I wasn't entertained. I was completely enthralled.

I don't want to tell you everything because I want the movie to be as amazing for you as it was for me, so I'll keep it simple. Harry Belafonte went all out to make things better for people. He wasn't just involved in the Black Civil Rights movement; he put himself completely on the line for it. He threw himself behind Native Americans, supported Black South Africans, cultivated a relationship between black America and Africa, and personally dropped food and medical supplies over African countries. He saw things that were wrong and took responsibility for them; he didn't wait, he just did it. He was brave. He missed out on things in his own life because he felt a duty to humanity, and put himself out to make a stand for what he believed in. I'm talking past tense but he's still active, helping at-risk kids in America and trying to inspire other people to do something.

Lately I've been worrying about getting old. You've been privy to some of it (mostly my complaints about physical weakness), but I've also been struggling with the feeling that, in terms of making a difference, I'm nearly obsolete. This probably sounds funny (and I can see the funny side of it too; I'm turning twenty-eight), but I've been thinking about how my experiences have shaped my responses in ways that aren't helpful, and that for things to move forward it's my niece's time. (Yes, she's six, and I can imagine you are laughing now.) But I really felt like, with the choices I've made (doing an arts degree, working in a shop, getting married) and the opportunities I have, that this (not really, but almost) is as far as I can go; sponsoring children and organisations, giving money to men on the street, signing petitions, doing marches, and telling everyone I can about what's going on. I could be a fifties housewife. If I could do anything, it would be aid work, preferably in Palestine, and I'm not doing it, and it makes me feel ashamed, and that I've been really selfish with my life.

After watching Harry Belafonte, though, I feel like my time to help and effect change is far from over. I want to have children soon, but I don't have them yet, and as long as I don't, I'm free to do whatever I can. I can do heaps more than what I'm doing (which, if we're honest, is close to nothing; just a conscience-muffler), and I can try to make it easier for you to do something too, if you want to. You might not have been so pessimistic about what you can do as I have been, but anything but hope and willingness just won't do. I really believe that I'm responsible for you and everybody else, and that the whole point of life is to make things better. I thought it might be enough just to do no harm, but I admit now that I know it isn't, not even close.

I really hope you get to watch the film and that we can give each other some assignments.

(Image from lastfm)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bits & Pieces

1. Rebekah Brooks. Evil, evil woman, but what glorious, glorious hair.

2. Did you know about Poland's proposal to ban abortion? I found out about it from Feministing. I like animal stories as much as anyone, but I really think this is what the news should be telling us about at night.

3. My new hat. I have to hold it on when I cross the road and it makes me feel like a lady, whom people would help if a gust of wind caught up the pile of hand-written music I was clutching and swept it across the footpath. I think I actually just look like a nincompoop with a dreamy expression in a hat, though.

4. I made Rocky Road to take up north for the weekend, and it was yum as. All you have to do is chop up one and a half packets of marshmallows (so you have some left for milo) and a couple of raspberry straps, break up a packet of chocolate biscuits (I used Chocolate Thins), and then add to two blocks of melted milk chocolate, stir it, chuck it in a lined slice tin, and put in the fridge for a bit. I still don't understand why slices seem like you've gone to so much more trouble than if you baked- is that only me? And is it because I never made them before? They're much more expensive to make than cakes; maybe that's why. Always the green (/orange/blue/purple/whatever colour big money is), never the effort...

5. Van Morrison - Glad Tidings. It's what Tony Soprano is listening to as he's driving out to the farm to off Tony B. before Phil Leotardo (from New York) can get him. Whoever picked the song is someone with whom I would like to be friends. Vincent downloaded the album and has been playing the song ever since, although it sounds a little different because the cord for the stereo's gone funny and only one speaker works. It's actually been very interesting hearing acoustic versions of originals; like having a lucky-dip mixer.

PS I'm reading The Inimitable Jeeves and enjoying it very much; so far one of my favourite sentences is "The good old persp. was bedewing my forehead by this time in a pretty lavish manner". It doesn't annoy me the way it does in HP, but does Bertie's continual defiance of Jeeves' dressing-guides and partly self-imposed exile remind anyone else of Harry Potter's constant worry that everyone distrusts or hates him and he has no-one to turn to?

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Alofas From Samoa"

Yesterday I missed a call on my phone from my father, who is on holiday in Samoa. The message he left was unusual; he said he wanted to chat (which he never does; he occasionally says he wants to talk to me, but that's usually in person and because I've asked to borrow money again), and ended with him asking how Vincent's birthday was and that he loves us both, especially me. He will often say to give Vincent his love, but never straight out that he loves him; there's always the line that exists between a father and the man who is jonesing his daughter. Something special had happened.

Today I found out what.

Sometimes wonderful things happen. Just as wonderful as the win: my Dad being in Samoa for it, with my cousins whom he loves and with whom he will have loved to share it. And as much as I'd love to have been there too, I had my own wonderful time when I got to work to have my very diverted boss (who knows and likes my Dad, and had just read about the win in the paper) play me the message Dad had left on the work answerphone, a) on a Sunday, when we are closed, b) on a Sunday, which I never work, and c) on a Sunday when he knew I was away. I love my Dad.

And now I'm excited about the World Cup.

Friday, July 15, 2011

But There's Something In The Air

There are a million things to say about Vincent, and how I feel about him, but in the interests of not missing a minute of his birthday, I'm going to leave it to Chrissie Hynde, who says it all.

Happy Birthday favourite. Maybe I could love you more... but I don't know how.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


This is very lazy blogging but it's late (maybe not for you, but I'm getting old, remember?) and I've had a very busy day with work, last-minute birthday preparations, meeting friends at the pub and then seeing Love Story (which was great!), and now I feel sick because we just wolfed a pizza and my belt's on a tight notch to keep my dress on. But I want to post this, because as well as being Bastille Day, today is my eldest sister's birthday.

When I was eighteen, I had a lot of time for bars, and shopping, and that was about it. But when she was eighteen, my sister had time for me, her pretentious little eight-year-old sister who wanted to be an actress and read Baby-Sitters Club books. She used to take me to the movies, in the city, which I rarely visited. I could choose where to have lunch first, and I would always pick Finance Plaza, a foodcourt that was upstairs and outdoors and had birds and people in suitsor Soul Cafe which had murals on the walls and low lighting and made me think I had died and gone to heaven it was so cool. She'd let me order a burger she must have known I would never finish, and she'd order one too, like we were girlfriends. I thought I was eighteen, and wearing Timberlands and light blue jeans, not eight and in a polo shirt and sports shoes.Then we'd go to the movie; maybe the latest Disney offering I was desperate to see, other times something at the Academy. When she'd go to the movies with her friends at night, I would often wake up to find a container of Tangy Fruits on my bedside table.

She taught me so many things, cultivated a love of things that make my life great, and introduced me to many, many more. Sam Cooke is one of those things; I don't remember the first Sam Cooke song I ever heard her play, but I know he, like so many other of my favourite musicians, came through her, and I'm so grateful. But not nearly as grateful as I am just to have her, and that she has always had time for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I'll freely admit I'm grumpy. My bum is very sore after yesterday's spill, and obviously the healing process is taking it out of me because work has left me beat. On top of this, Campbell Live just did a text poll asking whether or not people think the Sri Lankan boat people should be allowed into NZ, and 79% said no. For fuck's sake. Where do people get off? Are we that fucking smug and stupid in NZ that we don't understand that these people have risked their lives to escape and come here; they're refugees! I'm so mad: at people's ignorance, unkindness, and sense of entitlement. Why the fuck do we deserve to be here?

I was thinking this morning about Labour's proposed Capital Gains Tax, and exactly why I support it. Then I started to think about the fundamental differences between people who vote National, and those who vote Labour. I used to tell my excellent little niece (The Jenga Queen) that people who care about people vote Labour, and people who care about money vote National. I realise that's not completely accurate, but it seemed a simple way to explain to a kid (and, if I'm honest, I really believed it, except for the extremely conservative National voters, who are just stupid). Now, I just think National voters live in the delusion (usually one they vigorously maintain to avoid guilt) that everyone has the same opportunities in life, and that all are in charge of our own destinies. They disregard history/histories, and variables, and therefore think it's reasonable to expect everyone to be able to achieve and contribute to the same extent. They perpetuate these beliefs with myths like the universality of State House John, and Solo Mum Success Paula, and pretend that things were always the way they are now (Treaty? Completely irrelevant! We're all the same!).

We're not all the same. Everyone has a different story, and we can't be treated as if we're all coming from the same place. This is what National does. It ignores mitigating factors such as mental health issues and discrimination, and says we all have the same chances and if we fail to take them then we deserve to pay a higher proportion of our incomes on basic things like health services and childcare (if we can't afford children, we shouldn't have them!), and if we can't afford our own investment property then we deserve to pay off someone else's.

I was planning to write a list of things I like, but now I'm frustrated so I'm going to write a list of things that make me mad.

1. People still buying Chris Brown's music. I even read recently that Rihanna received hate messages after she broke away from him. And people promoting J. Williams. One day a nasty man might punch you in the face. And you know what I will do? Nothin'.
2. Paul Henry, and people putting him on TV and telling me shit about him that I don't want to know. I know he's a racist, a sexist, and an all-round arsehole, and that's about all I need to know, I reckon.
3. "As you do." Please get away from me. You are boring and no-one drinks Pinot Gris anymore.
4. Rude people. If I hold a door open for you, you will look at me and you will say thank you. And if you don't, know that I'm no longer content just to say "You're welcome!".
5. Talentless people getting NZ on Air funding because they a) have rich parents or b) a "profile". Illegal downloading isn't killing the music industry; you are.
6. People who make other people's lives more difficult because they are lazy and/or stupid. Or, people who put anything they like in their recycling bags, even stuff that Garth McVicar would know is not recyclable.
7. Insurance companies.
8. Loan sharks.
9. People who picket outside abortion clinics. I wish your parents had just watched TV that night.
10. Billboards. The most intrusive form of advertising, and nearly always aesthetically displeasing.

One thing that makes me happy:
The Wendy's Shake 'n Dog ad. It's funny.

Monday, July 11, 2011


This morning, I had a fall. I didn't fall; I slipped, my feet shot out from under me, and I had a fall. Even Vincent said so when he called my boss to explain why I would be late (I called back later to say I wouldn't be in at all, after becoming a bit hysterical and realising I couldn't even walk comfortably). When it happened, and I was prostrate on the deck, calling for Vincent and unsure if I could get up or if I'd be able to walk ("walk again" was actually my first reaction), I had a flash of the old woman in the ad for those St John personal alarms, lying on her kitchen floor with her broken hip. Pain aside, I felt humiliated and Old.

I've been noticing, more and more, that my recall is slower than it was. A couple of weeks ago I tried on my friend's glasses and all of a sudden, I could see. One or two beers now gives me a headache, and if I do more than that (avoiding the immediate reaction) the next day I'm likely to be incapacitated, or at least in a good deal of pain.

When did this happen? Only a little while ago, I was mid-twenties; young, healthy, and able to drink like a very thirsty fish. In two and a half weeks I will be twenty-eight: late twenties, and all of a sudden I am blind, have no memory, and can't drink without getting a sore gut. It's confronting. I knew this would happen eventually, but now? Is it because I gave up sudoku, and only exercise if there's beer in it for me? Is it all the lollies? Thirty was supposed to be the height of my powers. What is it going to be now? The day I finally get an ear-trumpet?

Late twenties: not what you expect. Seize the day, my young friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Latest Epiphany

Being close with my family - perhaps freakishly close with some members - friends have always played a strange role in my life. I know I've seemed like I could take or leave them; at times I've honestly believed it. I think I know myself so well, but sometimes I can't see how things around me really are until I consciously step back and think. I've been trying to do that, to figure out what family means, what it's supposed to mean, and how friendship is a choice.

This is already confusing, so I'll try to break it down. Last week, when I was fretting about the interview and how my "openness" may not always be a good thing, my darling friend pointed out that part of why I can be so open with my friends is that they know where I'm coming from; it's not like an out-of-context slice when I say something unexpected/controversial/ridiculous to them. I really don't think I'd ever really thought of that. I suppose I expected my friends to forgive me for that reason (why I thought knowing me merited forgiveness I really don't know, except for blind arrogance), but part of my belief that people can only know (and, by extension, truly love) you is through open communication - I know we are constantly censoring ourselves, but by being as open as we can be - relies on my being fairly open with everyone. (Someone once described me as "generous" with my stories and background; to be honest, I didn't really know how to take that.) But now I think that belief has led me to take my friends for granted. They do really know me. For every poo story or other over-share, they probably forgive me as much as they are amused, and I never know it because they are not my family so they never feel it their duty to teach me something. They actually accept me, as I am; I know this because they exist, and they don't have to. And here is why I know I will always need friends (note I said "need"- I know why I want them; they're the best); because as much as my family (do I mean my parents? Maybe) love me, their love never feels quite unconditional - they necessarily have responsibility for me, and expectations, and worries. And we didn't pick each other, so it's not entirely surprising we're very different. But my friends, without those expectations and worry and responsibility, give something unconditional. They picked me because I'm me, they support me when I'm me, and they let me do the same (I think).

On Wednesday, after doing something very embarrassing that involved her, I had brunch with one of my best friends, and I felt beloved. Last night I caught up with some newer friends I hadn't seen in a few weeks (and my oldest, best friend) at the pub, and I felt loved. Today I am having lunch with a big group of my friends, which I've been looking forward to all week, with whom I always feel special. It sounds very cheesy but I am going to make a silent toast to them, and all my friends. It's taken me a long time to realise it, but I don't just enjoy my friends; I really, really need them.

This song has been in my head while I've been writing this. Sometimes one does forget how much she loves people she doesn't tell so all the time.

Self-improvement/-realisation/-actualisation is a life-long commitment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why Country Musicians Aren't To Be Trusted

You might not have read about serial moron Michele Bachmann being told by Tom Petty and Katrina and the Waves to stop using their songs (American Girl and Walking On Sunshine) at her rallies. I think it's brilliant. I already knew about Foofighters not being happy with monkey-child George Bush using Times Like These in his 2004 campaign, and becoming involved with John Kerry's campaign and writing Best Of You (infinitely better song) as a result. I now know from the wonderful Jezebel that it wasn't the only song he used to the artist's chagrin. And as angry as I would be if I were one of those artists, I think it's all just wonderful because it means these Republican parasites are publicly embarrassed (except, are they able to feel real feelings? Especially embarrassment; they are members of the same party as Friend of North Korea Sarah Palin...) and we get to know who else thinks Republicans suck or at least that they are so desperately uncool that any association with their music is a death knell. Except, according to Jezebel, country artists... but I think that's like a very convenient cowbell.

The situation also makes me very happy because I read that George Weedeater Bush used this song which I had not listened to for ages, and is great.

Question: How can a right-wing party ever think a song about freedom (or fidelity) is appropriate for them? And last thing you may not have known: (The Real) Don McGlashan's excellent list of song recommendations for National after TVNZ used Anchor Me during a montage of John Key election images in 2008. Read about it here. "I would rather have sex with an ugly crayfish...". Don McGlashan fo' life.

Monday, July 4, 2011

On Closer Inspection

(Sermon warning.)

Last week I watched this feature on Campbell Live, about mothers in Levin demanding free water from cafes. I was mad. Some at JC for subjecting us to what seemed like a waste of time, and at the horrid woman for whom I had very little sympathy and told Vincent should Just Stay Home. Then in the weekend I read this (via Musings of an Inappropriate Woman), and it changed everything. I thought about the Levin woman, and why I'd had such a violent reaction to her. She was bolshy. She was charmless. She was unattractive (I'm really ashamed to admit this made a difference but I'm afraid it probably did. Although to be fair to myself, sometimes I hate people more for being good-looking, too, in spite of being an activist for discrimination against the pretty). But how was that her fault? We're born with a face, with or without charm, and into a family that has money, or hasn't. I don't think hers did. She has lived her entire life without the privileges that come with these things, and she feels powerless, disenfranchised, and angry. I thought about a better-dressed woman with a middle-class accent asking for water. I imagine, without the anger, she would actually ask and that her delivery would be more pleasant. But I don't think there would be an issue. I'm almost certain the cafe would give her the water, and not worry about overheads, or make judgements about her capability as a mother. I thought about private-schoolgirls who come into my shop. They can be quiet or loud, but they all possess a confidence that I only see in people with money; an assumption that they have the right to ask, and that their request will be granted (and it usually is; and why not?).

This woman has never had that. I can't imagine her ever having something given to her unless someone wanted something back. I'm not saying I agree with how she is going about getting what she wants, but I understand why. Looks, money and charm open doors - and when we often make assumptions about people's merits based on these things, it's no wonder someone without them gets angry and tries another tack. I'm always ranting about born privilege and fuming over the capitalist assumption that everyone is born with the same opportunities. From now on, I'm going to try a bit harder, and challenge myself a bit more about assumptions I make about the way people act and what they might or might not deserve.

Thanks JC. Amen.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Roll Of Excellence

1. Nieces. I really can't recommend them enough, or adopting someone's kid as a [why isn't there a word like siblings to describe both nieces and nephews?]. On top of the joy they give by just being themselves and giving dribbly smiles or using fences instead of brakes to stop their bikes, they are a ticket to doing wicked things like ice-skating and bowling, and attending piano recitals and expressive dance performances where shameless teachers take advantage of their captive audience to show off their skills (and their sweat-patches).

2. Max Fischer, and the film Rushmore. Max Fischer is the greatest and I would like to be like him. These are some reasons why:
i) He is all over everything.
ii) He does things even when he sucks at them.
iii) He makes things happen.
iv) He is true to himself... which means sometimes being a dick.

3. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago. I first read about the album in Mojo, my bible at the time, which gave it a 5/5 making it an Instant Classic. To me, those were some motherfucking accolades. Then the story behind it fascinated me; sickness, a break-up, and then taking refuge in a deserted cabin, with no-one else to rely on or distract from what was going on. It was the first album I ever bought with no idea of what it would sound like; I bought it on a Friday, and waited until Sunday afternoon to put it on. The first song was so beautiful and spoke so clearly to me, it made me cry. The album had been recorded in complete isolation but it didn't sound like that - instead I felt like I was going through everything with him, facing every emotion and playing through it right to the end, even when it was painful, which it frequently was. The end was completely triumphant; a bit like an aural scar. My whole life I'd wished there was a song with my name in it, and here was a song and an entire album that felt like it was especially for me. It was a gift. Now, when I'm feeling sick, or upset, it's the album I go to. It's only half an hour long but it feels like a journey, and by the time I'm at the end I feel like I can pick up and keep going. Or it's soothed me to sleep. This song was getting a workout on Friday. It's nice, if you're prone to fucking up or have a hard time forgetting things, to think you might be able to decide that sometimes everything is from now on.

Lastly, here is one more Bon Iver song I love very much.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Time!

This week seemed to accelerate after Tuesday and I don't know why (actually I do; I did an interview on Wednesday about Slutwalk and feminism which took over my brain with worry about sounding stupid and Simone de Beauvoir coming back from the dead just to bitch-slap me, then got a bit drunk on Thursday with my darling friend who has free afternoons, from which I took far too long to recover, and spent Friday struggling with some of my regrettable aspects and feeling a bit blue). Today has been largely spent in bed but I've been too busy reading everyone else's blogs - some great stuff this weekend - to write anything myself, and we have to go to bed soon because Vincent is getting up to watch the Crusaders game at three and we both have to be somewhere at eight-thirty (on a Sunday!).

This is very poor blogging behaviour, but you will forgive me. I know this, because I will do some proper writing tomorrow after we come home from my excellent little niece's piano recital, and because I am giving you this to listen to: one of the greatest songs, ever, for which there is always time.