Saturday, June 30, 2012

Who Cares What Picture You See

Well, we do, really, but still not nearly as much as if we weren't "hugging" in the "balcony". Not enough time to say anything of consequence (so I'll say something inconsequential - yes, I would throw my undies at Tom Jones), but I thought everyone might enjoy this playlist, and the others, made for Moonrise Kingdom. There's one for the film and then separate playlists for different characters; this is the first we've listened to (Jason Schwartzman being a favourite - he is Max Fischer, after all), and it's taking me back... to 1993, when I discovered most of these songs, and as far as I was concerned may as well have been originally released. Last night wasn't quite a Friday night since I had to work today, but this is very much a Saturday night, and I'm enjoying every bit of it. Hip hip for sixties pop, Saturday nights, earl grey tea, lollies, dried fruit, bed, Tarantino-written films, and Drifters' lyrics. HURRAY!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Words And Pictures

1. This year's film festival booklet came out on Monday. I'm still on my first go-through, but my ten definites (also Vincent's ten definites; I don't know how we found each other either!) and the possibles I have lined up have me very excited. We looooove movies. Here are some of the definites:

2. The limitations of winter dressing and my subsequent inadvertent new uniform (boots, dress or skirt, thick woollen jumper tucked into the same belt, and bright lipstick or fancy hair to distract from the fact that it's almost the same thing as yesterday, which might not sound like a big deal, but as Vincent pointed out on Tuesday - when I came home very embarrassed after the building had to be evacuated and, as the building warden, I had to wear the chilli red jerkin, which perfectly matched the chilli red stockings I happened to be wearing, and made me look ridiculous - I work on a street where clothes are noticed) have me trawling through photos of warm weather outfits, and longing for spring and dresses. These are from Crystal Meers' recent Closet Visit, which is full of pretty things. This is not to say I don't love winter things... like the vintage faux fur hat and French gloves I bought today.

3. Tonight we were supposed to go to Real Groovy for a screening of the rare footage of the White Stripes playing at Freeman's Bay Primary in 2003 and Kings Arms in 2000, but I was too beary (how we describe me when I'm sleepy and a bit growly) so we stayed home and watched Grand Designs instead. I wish I hadn't been beary. We've been trying to decide who our most influential musicians of all time are, and although it'll take a bit to whittle it down to as definitive a top ten we can, there are a few non-negotiables, namely Joe Strummer, Bob Dylan, and Jack White. If Jack White had to make a similar list, he's made it very clear that this man would feature, perhaps at the top.

4. I've been getting so worked up at things - sustained name suppression for rich/famous offenders but not those with mental illness; people who obviously know nothing claiming asset sales are the only way out of debt; rude customers - and ranting about them, that today at least, this is my happy place, which is why it's all movies and clothes and music. I really wish I could hibernate for a month, and then get up and go through some bins and maybe swing on a tree branch. Instead I'll just go to bed, and maybe put some honey on my toast in the morning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sod Has Spoken

Drinker's remorse makes me wish she had kept her mouth closed, but perhaps the memory is worse than the event, and it really was just normal conversation. What was supposed to be a quiet night; an early dinner, and then home to watch a movie, escalated. We had cancelled plans with friends because I've been sick all week and our bank account is empty, but after dinner we thought it might be fun to follow the free beer, using accumulated points on loyalty cards and promotional texts at our first two stops... and finished by democratising/lowering the tone of a party at one of Vincent's bars, where, an hour before it officially ended, we checked all of our beliefs and, severely underdressed, walked up a red carpet (past maseratis and searchlights - really), had our photos taken, and then joined a throng of children drinking free cocktails. In the spirit of the evening, we downed them two at a time, the sod spoke, she continued to speak... and the night ended with Vincent getting squashed cheeseburger out of my hairbrush (the one day I had brushed my hair).

What we have learned:
1. The thoughts we entertain during the week, sober, may seem safe but they are not. Not when we are sodden, and they come out of us.
2. Poverty, not will, consenting, is not a valid excuse when Annabel Fay or red carpets are involved.
3. Hypocrisy is a bit like going undercover.
4. Being in a garage makes you a car. By which I mean, when you're undercover on your own mission, you just look like you're what you're pretending to be. Contempt may not be invisible, but it can be misread, especially by stupids.
5. Finish the burger, then lie on the couch.

What we are comforted by:
1. We will never be comfortable being given free things, and can't even fake entitlement.
2. We have a sympathetic family who doesn't make us do the dishes when we're hungover.
3. Oysters always taste wonderful.
4. Our choice of husband.

Get away, witch!

Friday, June 22, 2012

All The World's A Stage

I may always have suffered from a fear of missing out (I refuse to call it FOMO, even if Liam Finn did). Or it may stem from my early teens when I wasn't allowed to go to the blue lights and underage nightclubs that everyone else went to, so I would do things like get dressed up, put on a full face of make up, and then go nowhere, or con my sister's boyfriend into driving my cousin and me places (and then make him wait in the car), so we could make an appearance and have been there, even if it was just fifteen minutes of smoking cigarettes we bummed from him on the way (I will be in this man's debt forever). Even when I was older and had many years of going out behind me, the fear was still with me; a day or two after I had a lump cut out of my boob, I got dressed and insisted I was going to the housewarming of my friends who had just bought their first house. It took a threat from my sister that if I went I would be understood to be well enough to start looking after myself, and a trial glass of wine at home that immediately made my head hurt like hell and the rest of me feel faint, that drove me back into bed. I can actually remember the dress I was wearing; you could see the top of the bandage on my chest. I don't know if this was strictly fear of missing out; it was a one night only thing. But then I suppose everything is a one night only thing, in the way that we are constantly changing and so is the world.

I write this because I am sick and at home this evening, instead of at the pub, after a week of being sick and spending quite a lot of time on my own. I don't fear missing out anymore; in fact, I have grown up so arrogant that I usually assume that where I am is more interesting anyway. Ordinarily, I love being at home on a Friday, and I cherish quiet mid-week afternoons when I can read and nap. But when I'm pre-menstrual as well as sick, I start to worry again. I think that everyone else is out having fun, drinking beer, telling hilarious jokes, sharing scandalous gossip, and looking beautiful, and that even though we only do two of those things most weeks, this will be the week that everyone's at their best, and it will be the night that they would show in the movie to demonstrate how wonderful we were and life was before the tsunami/zombie invasion/Vietnam war. I don't know how to cope with that feeling, so I nap, or I do what I do when I don't know how to cope, and also what I do when I want to feel like I'm doing something. I plan to clean - I even start, and then I drink. I pour myself a little glass of something, and no longer am I left behind. I'm Hemingway. Even when in company, I'm alone. A glass later, I'm Bukowsky. I'm talking to myself, and while there may be life outside this room, it's not nearly as intelligent as the life within. The music gets a bit louder. (When do they ever play Bowie at the pub? How much easier is it to moonwalk with no shoes on?! Man I have an awesome voice!) Finally, I'm Parker. I'm languid, and a little angry (which I have been all along, but managed to hide). I'm sharp as a tack, articulate as hell, and I don't need anybody.

I've just realised it's only just gone five-thirty. I suppose part of a fear of missing out is really just feeling like you don't have any plans, or potential. While I've been writing, some people have still been at work. I, on the other hand, have had two glasses of sherry, and am now wondering where the valium is, and if Vincent needs a new tie, and if I had a cigarette now he would be able to smell it when he gets home in twenty minutes, and where have the children been the past two hours?


Because I've been listening to it since last night, am desperately trying to master the Miracles' moves, and because we all know that solitary drinking often ends in tears. Happy weekend, mi amigos.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Advance Pasifika

It was a bit harder to get up than we had projected. We both got a bit carried away during our catch-up with Sunbeam the night before (well worth it), and our hangovers felt like they were tainting our auras. But we got up, and showered away the stale smell of beer, and opened the windows to let out the smell of old McDonalds, and left. On the street in front of our building were a group of Cook Island drummers, and I started to feel excited.

The night before, I'd told Sunbeam about the march, and as often happens to me, said things I only realised after they had come out, that I really felt. I'd read about it in the Central Leader at my parents' house the weekend before, and was impressed with what one of the organisers, Uesefili Unasa, said about the social responsibility we all have to one to another, and about the need for Pacific leadership that isn't subject to "political parties or the dominant culture" (I would add religious belief). I came home with the clipping, and didn't even have to ask Vincent to come with me.

Vincent guessed there were about a thousand people on Princes Street when we arrived. There were lots of flags flying, and music playing, and singing, and I immediately felt like I might cry, which would totally undermine my outfit. I had Angela Davis on my mind as I got ready, and decided my look was going to be Black Panthers inspired. As we were walking past the marchers to join at the back, a guy called out Black Power to me, and I was so gratified I had to stop myself from pulling a yuss, and just gave him a very grave nod. It was as cold a Saturday as we've had so far this winter, but it didn't stifle spirits. We walked first behind a mother with her two young sons, one of whose Samoan flags kept falling off its stick and whom we consequently nearly tripped over a few times, and then a family of a mother and father and their three of four adult children. The second family meant the most to me. People who aren't Polynesian might not understand the significance of older Pacific people taking part in a march. Polynesian cultures are based on hierarchy and obedience, and in spite of having lived here a long time, it's not a natural thing for an older person to challenge government, or even just to openly petition for representation. In things like this, the march was a success just because it happened, and these people were there. I envied the families marching together, but Vincent pointed out that we're a family, and I realised maybe I wouldn't have been there myself if my family was different, and I felt better.

I did the march because I want representation and advocacy. I want acknowledgement that there are issues that directly affect Pacific people, and I want a say in the decisions concerning those issues - for all of us. I am tired of Pacific people being over-represented in all of the bad things; poverty, sickness, crime, and under-achievement in school. Obviously something is wrong, and the finger is pointed time and time again at us, rather than examining and questioning the system into which we clearly don't fit. NZ society has been built around the values and culture of European New Zealanders, which are presented to all New Zealanders as a norm, simply because they are a dominant majority. As the population changes, this has to change, or members of minorities will always be disadvantaged. And I did the march because I want Pacific people to unite. As Unasa said in his interview, we are all individuals and have different needs and experiences, but we have to support one another.

Lastly, I want to mention the flags. There was one for the Greens, and a few for Labour, and Su'a William Sio was there. Cathy Casey was there, and so was Len Brown. A family friend who is a National MP was also there (to our amusement he was not wearing anything saying National, for perhaps the first time ever). But the most noticeable party flags belonged to Mana, and the people beneath them included Hone Harawira and John Minto, and I have even more respect for these people because of it. And finally, I'll just point out that the Samoan flags outnumbered the Tongan (but as Vincent said when I gleefully mentioned it to him, that's enough of that.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


So, the rule that I had made for myself was that I was not to buy any more books unless they were like Sale Of The Century / One Time Only Offer / Blink And You'll Miss It Get In Now / Fuck It Nick, I Fink I'll Keep It until I had read the five most recently purchased that were in a pile by the bed. Then I decided to read one that wasn't in the pile, and then another, and then yesterday, when I was halfway through the first of the pile-books, I was on my way home from the supermarket, walking briskly as I had a bag full of groceries and had promised my patient that I would be straight home, and then, as I passed the temporary Whitcoulls sale store, I distinctly heard my name - not even my full name, but the shortened version. (This is an outright lie, and also that sentence reminds me of an essay I wrote once where my tutor's comments were mostly about my sentence length rather than the actual content. Imbecile. I was giving him/her credit, and if you use punctuation correctly, you can write a sentence as long as you bloody well like.) I heeded the call, and walked out with three books (one of which was for the patient, and all of which were down from up to $40 to $5! Yes I am fully aware that the former price was determined by Whitcoulls themselves). But I don't regret it. Books are one of the best things in life, and to me they are objects of beauty that I like to have around me; neatly bound ornaments that are filled with promise, and wonder, and WORDS.

Anyway, buying these was also supposed to stop me from becoming resentful about the fact that we are too poor to buy anything consequential (like a TV), or inconsequential (like clothes) (no I don't really mean it and I can't pretend I do - clothes are of consequence to me); cheap books happily falling outside these categories. And I am happy to have my books, and I know I don't really need things, and I know that I am actually very content with what I have that is material, and that is not. So these shoes (which I found on Stuart & Wright via she who always finds beautiful things aka Miss Moss) are not making me feel resentful. They are making me feel like yeah, I'd like to own them, and the clogs would look really good with my green tartan shorts, and hmm the clogs are also made in the US (unless they are 'Hand' made in Usa, ala Liz Lemon's amazing jeans), and what do you know, the remaining size is mine. But then I also feel like I chose this life for a reason, and it's worth more to me than a house let alone a pair of shoes. Sometimes my life intersects with the life I might have had if I had stuck with journalism and not switched to philosophy, and when that happens, it's cool. But I didn't want that life - don't want that life - so really, I shouldn't want the things that life would include. Consistency... Self-improvement is a life-long commitment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dream Houses

Usually when I watch a movie, it's the costumes I find most distracting. The dress Holly wears to see Sally Tomato after meeting Paul for the first time makes me die every time I see it, and I would do bad things to have the coat Mrs Robinson wears when she sits in the hotel bar waiting for Benjamin to go and get the room. But sometimes, it's the sets, and of these, there are two movie houses I absolutely adore. The first is one I have loved and coveted ever since I first saw the film as a child, and that is the Monterrey ranch in the original of The Parent Trap. The house is amazing; the sixties design, the freedom, and the California-ness of it. I would still love to live there (although I now know it was a set built on a sound stage, and a little bit of me has died. But I would still live there, on the sound stage). I don't know why but Snowy wouldn't let me take screen-shots of my dvd, so all of these images come from Hooked On Houses.

The second house is from Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, and is lived in by Don Johnston. The house is all wood and stone and leather; full of texture, and with lots of blues and browns. The floor is one of my favourite things about it, but I love everything. And not only is the house fantastic, it is next door to a family with four adorable children, a babe mother who makes great food, and a great dad who is a would-be detective. If I lived in this house I would do pretty much as Don does, although I couldn't be as deadpan as he is if I was given a million dollars for it, especially if the house was mine. All of these pictures are screen-shots taken by me.

(I know the above picture is very similar to an earlier shot but I added it because you get a better view of the cushion, which I love. Also, I always love a good eye-roll.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ego Trippin' Down Memory Lane

The first hip hop album I really got into - like listened to so much I learnt most of the lyrics - was De La Soul's Buhloone Mindstate. Actually, that's a lie. The first hip hop album I really got into, and listened to so much that I knew all of the lyrics, was Dre 2001. But that is highly embarrassing, and I wish it wasn't the case. So instead I'll say the first hip hop album I'm not ashamed to have really gotten into was Buhloone Mindstate. It was actually kind of by accident; the disc was sitting there with Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, and I thought the name was more interesting, so I put it on my nano which was full of Radiohead and other music not really suited to running... so I'd listen to the album while I ran, and rap, and laugh at it, and try not to think about the fact that I was being overtaken by walkers and kind of wanted to die.

De La Soul are respected for a reason. My favourite Tupac song is All Bout U, in which he raps about a "bad bitch/weak scrub" he is "stuck with", how he only hangs out with "the criminals and the drug dealers", and how he keeps seeing the same "bitch" all over the place. I'm not kidding about it being my favourite Tupac song, either; put it on at a party and I'm guaranteed to be all "Oh yeah... one time!", which is akin to say, Rupert Everett, voting for the GOP. Like many famous rappers, including supposedly intelligent ones like Kanye West, Tupac is misogynistic to the core, homophobic, and just an all-round pretty hateful guy. The majority of what comes out of these men's mouths is negative and divisive bullshit; even Kanye's lighter sounding songs are full of hate, like Gold Digger, which samples a song about a woman who is a "friend indeed", but is all about a woman who uses men to pay for her excessive lifestyle. On the other hand, right from the start, De La Soul was about a positive sound. They were founding members of the Native Tongues, whom wikipedia describes as a collective of "hip hop artists known for their positive-minded, good-natured Afrocentric lyrics, and for pioneering the use of eclectic sampling and later jazz-influenced beats" (which is why, lyrics aside, they sound so much better than the shitty stylings and basic production of Tupac & co). Being positive doesn't mean they don't tackle issues; a Buhloone Mindstate example is Patti Dooke, in which they talk about the appropriation of the work of black artists to make it more palatable to a white audience. They're incredibly funny, innovative, and proof that hip-hop can be positive and accessible to everyone.

We've gone out for pizza and come back so my train of thought is completely derailed, so I'll end by posting my favourite track from the album, which is also one of my overall favourite songs by the group. When I saw them at the Powerstation a few years ago, they played part of it, and I was beside myself. And lastly, I just read that the video was particularly insulting to old Tupac, who had just released a video in which he is in a spa pool with a bikini clad woman. Brilliant. Long live De La Soul.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Vagina Monologue

I grew up in a house where four out of the five inhabitants owned vaginas. However, one of these people also owned a bible, and she and her husband were born before the sexual revolution and in a culture where people don't talk about body parts that are usually covered by undies, so in our house, we didn't mention our vaginas much. The only times I remember my mother mentioning sex to me were when her friend's son had a baby 'out of wedlock' (phrase is still alive and well in the Born Again community), and the other was after sex education at school, when she made me describe to her how sex worked to make sure I got it (I didn't really; adults never seemed to understand that the science bit was easy to find out about, and it was the other stuff that we really wanted to know about), which was as embarrassing as it sounds.

It's actually only been quite recently that I've been able to say vagina without feeling like a doctor, or a ten-year-old. Since finding out what it was, mine has been a cunt; I always hated the contrived suggestiveness of pussy, and other words for it always sounded patronising or offensive (offensive to women, not offensive like some people find cunt). I think that's a really sad thing. The first time I ever said vagina was on a Sunday. I was about six, and at my cousin's house for lunch before Sunday School, and having finished eating before everybody else was in the sitting room (adjoining the dining room) reading my aunty's First Aid book, which fascinated me, with its drawings of bleeding heads and people in shock. I was happily reading about childbirth until I reached a word I hadn't come across before in any of my school readers, and called out "Mum, what's a va-gee-na?". There was a lot of laughter, and then a lot of hushing, and I don't think anyone actually answered my question. I may have secretly looked it up myself in the dictionary when we got home - I don't remember, but the association of vaginas, unintended humour and confusion stayed with me long afterward.

As with many things, Cleo and Cosmo only confused me further. The only time I remember reading about vaginas that wasn't about ways to make them feel better to penises was after The Vagina Monologues became famous, and one of the magazines had a segment about them, including a rather seventies recommendation to get to know yours properly with a mirror (sparking flashbacks of pre-period attempts to insert tampons). It was the first time I'd ever read about vaginas being beautiful, but rather than being comforting, the news alarmed me; vaginas were subject to judgement. I examined mine with my little hand-mirror, and though intrigued, I was a bit grossed out; it all looked a bit like insides, and having realised porn wasn't a reliable place to gain information but not knowing that there isn't a normal when it comes to bodies, I didn't know how to find out if mine was okay.

I don't know when it was that I realised it is. I get thrush more often than I'd like (and make a point of telling people about it, because I think hiding things like thrush is ridiculous and makes them seem unusual and embarrassing), but otherwise, it works just fine (haven't tried pushing a baby out through it yet, but I'm sure that will hurt like fuck regardless of my individual tunnel), and is as remarkable and unremarkable as every other one. I like people who are comfortable talking about theirs; they make me feel comfortable, and there is an implicit understanding that we won't pretend we don't fart or get angry or laugh at inappropriate times.

Today I discovered a new (to me) blog, sex+, where this awesome woman talks about vaginas and a whole lot of other things; dispelling myths, exposing things like fat/slut-shaming, and making bodies and sexuality feel normal. I wish I had found this when I was younger, but I'm glad I found it now. And next time I see the Vagisil ad that makes me want to break things, I will think about all of the people who will watch this video and realise that Vagisil is based on an evil lie to make them feel shitty and spend money on something they don't need, and I will happily yell Fuck You, Vagisil - someone is calling you out on your bullshit, and My Vagina And I Are Fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Vincent Brought Home Last Night

It's been a while since I was this excited by something I heard. These guys are awesome; eight brothers playing the brass and another guy playing drums, and all of them killing it. I love brass, but usually it makes me want to cry (part of what I like about it). This makes me want to grab a flag and march off to fight, but what I actually did while I listened to it over and over this morning was dance (the parts of my body that continued to dance after I had stopped reaffirmed my decision to start pilates again yesterday, even though I can feel every muscle I didn't know I had today). Anyway, they're coming to Auckland next month, and we are going to be in there like swimwear. You  can find out a bit more about them here, and listen to another song, Planet Gibbous, here. Hurray Vincent!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Liquid Sunshine

I don't know why this song popped into my head when I was battling my way home this evening. The day has been as grey as they come, with intermittent showers, and wind so strong that the raindrops look like snowflakes as they're buffeted about so they don't come straight down. At lunchtime both lifts were out of action which meant we had to use the stairs, and I thought the afternoon had come straight from Hades. But there's something nice about walking home from work on a rainy night; the lights from shop windows seem a bit warmer, and you feel a sense of companionship with the other ships on their way to the docks. Tomorrow is set to be just as wet and windy, and I hope after  a good night's sleep I find it as invigorating as I usually do. Wild weather is for wild people.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Sicilian Message

Vincent and I often go over our top five of lots of things; most often, movies. The order of mine changes, and sometimes the fifth gets bumped for something recently discovered/rediscovered, but there are always two spots reserved for The Godfather Part I, and The Godfather Part II. These films are true classics; beautifully crafted, involving, and as much a result of their time as they are timeless. I can't imagine anything being different to how it ended up being, and as good a Michael De Niro would have been, he was supposed to be Vito, and Pacino was meant to be Michael. Anyway, I came across these videos while I was trawling through YouTube this morning. As well as being interesting, it's nice to see everyone as themselves, and seeing how much of themselves they put into their characters. James Caan comes off as a bit of a douche, De Niro is charming, Pacino thoughtful, and Keaton is her usual awesome self. I know (and believe) common beauties stay fifteen (Andrew Marvell's Young Love), but there is something so beautiful about youth; it's so tangibly vital, and bursting with potential. And they all had yet to sully their legacies with some of the bad movies that came later... but that's our ageist society and the parts we write for older actors, I guess. And at least they got to play these amazing parts; no such luck for black actors, or women (other than Keaton and Talia Shire, but their parts are not nearly as iconic as the male Corleones). "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." A classic.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lazy Sunday

1. Friday was the 50th anniversary of Samoa's independence. Although I had planned to do so at the pub, we celebrated quietly at home; me sitting on the couch intermittently waving our flag, while Vincent got together a dinner that included some leftovers from what Dad had made us all the night before. With just over a month until we go there, the countdown is really on.

2. Last night Vincent and I watched Coffee And Cigarettes. We've had mixed feelings about Jim Jarmusch's work since trying to watch The Limits Of Control a while ago and absolutely hating it, and our first impressions of this film weren't much better as we pictured the kind of asshole audience who would laugh obnoxiously and knowingly at the first few not-very-funny vignettes. However, we hung in there, and it was worthwhile; the turning point came in the scene featuring Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, got significantly better in Cate Blanchett's solo playing herself and her cousin, and climaxed in the excellent second to last scene featuring GZA, RZA and Bill Murray. This is the table I would most like to be sitting at, drinking herbal tea and waiting for Ghostface Killah.

The last scene, called Champagne, was another favourite, but it's only on YouTube in its entirety, and I don't want you to see it out of context, so instead you can listen to the song Taylor mentions, which is both liberating and heart-breaking.

3. Since booking our flights to Samoa, buying our Black Keys tickets, and then royally failing our warrant the week before our registration was due, we have been broke (and I mean broke! That's a Breakfast At Tiffany's reference, if anyone is interested), and I have started playing a new game called Put Thing In Your Online Cart And Then Wait For Them To Expire. It's about as depressing as it sounds, but it costs nothing but pride and time, and it's probably good for me to think I want things that I know I won't be buying. Here are two of them, both from Asos.

(background image 'Hydrangeas' watercolour found here)

4. Really enjoying this look from Hannah Byun's Closet Visit.

5.  One last video: Sima Urale's O Tamaiti. If you haven't seen it before (or even if you have), I should warn you it's probably not something you want to watch on your way to work; it's extremely emotive and, though beautiful, incredibly sad. (Also you might want to watch it on YouTube so you can make it fullscreen.)