Saturday, August 30, 2008

swings and roundabouts

The last day or so has been an odd mix of highs and lows.

It began positively enough - having managed to get back into the habit of walking to work this week. Everyday I was in the city I strolled the 35 minutes or so to the office. Yesterday was spectacular, a blue cloudless sky and a great playlist on the ipod/phone.

I don’t talk about work here. Lets just say there were a few challenges. Some great stuff and some not so. But a small string of events left me rattled, wiping out the morning joy. I had to sit in the nearest bookshop for a full half hour at lunchtime immersed in cookery books but even that didn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling. Nor did the offer of a 20% off sale.

Things picked up again once work was over. After missing out on previous years, I finally made it to the open studios event in the Nicholas Building. It was like walking through your favourite design/art/crafting blog or magazine. A sensory overload in the best possible way – leather, ink, sawdust, blossoms, music, colour, the clanking of an almost century old letter press and so much more.

The Nicholas Building, for those who are unfamiliar with this Melbourne icon, is one of a few remaining art deco buildings in Swanston Street that house artisans in a warren of studios. The lifts are not for the phobic but the cheerful operator fuelled by a drink or two turned the journey to the ninth floor into the smallest, most exclusive club in town.

I’ve been to various exhibition openings in the building in recent years but my first trip was two decades ago, with a friend in search of millinery supplies. Such vestiges of the rag trade still remain (hat supplies, buttons galore and even an outlet selling kimono material) but the open studios evenings mainly focus on the small artisans (jewellers, bag makers and artists) in communal and solo spaces that call the Nicholas Building home. My favourites were the artist who specialises in dry etching, the wonderful letterpress printer (a living museum) and some of the enchanting quirkily decorated artisan nooks and crannies. There is a shoe maker who will definitely get another visit from this household of mismatching feet sizes and triple A fittings.

The night was still young and comparatively balmy – perfect for a drink at Section 8 (the container bar off China Town). We found a good spot to sit and watch the world from the confines of the cage and had great random conversations with fellow patrons.

The disasters of the day forgotten, as a treat for the Not Boyfriend who forever craves meat these days, I took him to Stalactites for a mixed grill. All well, except on the way out I managed to drop a chair on my foot, the sharp angle catching the edge of a bone. Ouch.

Today I find myself returning to a horizontal position with a rather bruised and battered tootsy. Spring cleaning and walks thwarted. Nor a farewell visit to Is Not magazine's unfortunate fire sale.

Obviously I am not quite ready to move forward just yet.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

more Greer

Just heard that an edited version of Greer's MWF keynote speech "On Rage" last week will be on Radio National, "The Book Show" tomorrow.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Greer as you've never heard her

Following the last post - the Greer interview with Tony Biggs is now on the RRR website. Most of the recent press on her essay doesn't begin with discussing music or tease out an amusing story about Frank Zappa gallantly helping her out with a sexually transmitted infection.

Unlike much of the air and print space that "On Rage" has received Greer gets to explain her essay rather than be showered with attacks on her womanhood.

And in an interview with a bloke too.

Who would have thought it.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

the Greer hat trick

The past year has seen me trotting off to get a dose of Germaine Greer at every opportunity. The first left me stunned and besotted. A purely academic speech, there was some Big Words I needed to look up the next day. But even with a few gaps in my vocab she blew me away.

The second was from up in the Gods at the Athenaeum theatre, where from a great height I observed her talking passionately about Shakespeare’s wife. No new words to discover, she’d tailored the speech for a public audience. Her research methodology left me wondering. But I loved her spirit.

Yesterday I missed her talking about Frank Zappa and pubic lice to Tony Biggs on RRR. Darn it, work got in the way. I hope it will be podcast. But I did make it to the literary audience, as she opened the Melbourne Writers Festival with her missive on Rage last night. She introduced the topic better in some ways than in the essay itself. She exposed herself, she was humble, angered and amused. I loved her even more. Why? Because she keeps popping her head out over the trenches to allow people to take pot shots at her. Even in question time (my favourite part of any Greer talk) she implores people to take her on, disagree with her, challenge her.

This is what sets Greer apart. She wants her theses to be questioned. Sure she gets hurt over some of the misguided personal attack, she is human after all. But intellectually she is a provocateur. I get her. She wants to be a catalyst, get people talking, arguing, thinking, anything that gets heads out of arses and acknowledging the issues.

But an outspoken, provocative woman, especially one of intellect is still deemed threatening in our supposedly modern society. It is hunting season and Greer is the seen as fair game. While a man will be tackled on his thesis directly, a woman gets more than her fair share of shtick for who she is, how she lives, her appearance, her marital or parental status, almost anything else before the work is critiqued.

Other women tend to throw the first stone, often more ferociously than the men. Tracee Hutchison gave her a serve recently. One valid argument – that her take on the Aboriginal male response to The Apology was based on TV coverage while Ms Hutchison was Actually On The Lawn – sandwiched between her own prejudices against Greer (it’s the fault of feminists like you that I forgot to have children and her own relationship with the mother of a playwright who lampooned Greer in a recent play).

Miranda Devine was the next member of the species to go into attack under the Fairfax banner. Devine continues to focus on the personal, rather than put much thought into actually critiquing “On Rage” directly. A typical slab of text in her two page anti-Greer diatribe relates back to the opening anecdote of Greer’s epiphany on rage, having been blinded by it at a dinner party given in her honour almost two decades earlier:
Most reasonable adults control themselves at dinner parties, especially ones held in their honour, and don't fly into a rage when teased. All power to Greer for not needing to belong or grow up, but she is like a particular type of precocious indulged child, allowed latitude because she is so interesting. No society can operate with more than a handful of entertaining anarchists.

Such a diatribe suggests to me that Ms Devine is just a little envious that she cannot get away with such behavior herself. Lets count the derogatory blows in that one paragraph – Greer is not a reasonable adult, she cannot control herself, she isn’t a good sport and can’t take a little teasing, she is precocious, not a grown up, indulged and the kindest thing she can call her is an “entertaining anarchist”.

However Devine is just warming up for her fatal blow, implying that by not ever having had children or “lived an extended period of domestic bliss with a man” that she is not a woman. It is clear that Devine believes that childbirth and the heterosexual nuclear family is the only grounds for womanhood and the rest of us are just “infertile seeds thrown on fallow ground”.

Have you ever seen a male academic been publicly discounted because he has not fathered a child or chooses to not live in so-called domestic bliss? This is sloppy, lazy journalism. It smacks of the hack’s own agenda, how they view themselves, their own desperate play for status – leaving little intelligent debate on the subject at hand.

My reading of “On Rage” is that Greer is addressing the elephant in the room. She offers her reading of the situation, from the angle that she sees it – it is an essay, a starting point to provoke spirited discussion to bring about positive change.

But the horror of what we whitefellas have done to destroy the spirit of the custodians of this land is too confronting for most people. Much easier to play the (wo)man not the ball.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

the fat hairy ho is a subscriber

Are you?

To keep the circus in town for another year, subscribe to the best 'lil public radio station in the country - RRR.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

do we really hate sluts?

This is the implication of a defamation case bought by entertainer Tania Zaetta, against the Daily Telegraph. To be exact, she claims that by implying she had sex on a concert tour of the troops in Afghanistan, it made her look like a “slut”. She concluded this injured her reputation by bringing "public scandal, odium and contempt".

Odium is an interesting word. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “general or widespread hatred or disgust”.

So do we really hate sluts?

Slut: (noun) a slovenly or promiscuous woman.

I’d take greater offence at being called slovenly, than promiscuous. Some of the nicest sluts I know are very clean and well presented and would feel slighted, probably to the point of a civil action like Ms Zaetta, if they were called such. But promiscuous, is that really so bad?

Wanton, floozy, harlot, hussy, all similes for promiscuous, I’d be flattered quite frankly.

So in defense the allegations against Zanetta – who after all bought great joy into our lives co-hosting “Who Dares Wins” and doing photo shoots for FHM – perhaps this week we can all get in touch with our inner slut or hussy.

But just don’t slip up on the personal hygiene.

courtesy of the entertainer's website

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

washing up is fun

I'm guessing the doctor was dishing out a lot of uppers in this neighbourhood.


Friday, August 15, 2008

spontaneous haiku - emailing a friend in a hurry


wet hair hangs on face
mouth remembering coffee
too busy for words


Thursday, August 14, 2008

the post in which I whine about the weather

Here in the land of sunshine, it feels ungrateful to whinge about the weather. Contrary to some beliefs held by those who live in far off lands, the sun doesn’t shine all the time in Victoria. Melbourne has southern latitude of 37°, just like Athens in the north. Sounds good, til you remember that it snowed in Athens this year.

The weather people pre-empted this winter with a prediction that it would seem long and cold. They were right. Their point being that the pattern of the last few years was atypically mild and this year was a return to winters of old. At first we didn’t mind in the hope that it would bring rain but the grey drizzle still sees our total water storage at less than 1/3 full. We began the season with almost blitz-like cheerfulness every time clouds opened up but now, for most of us, we’ve definitely lost our mojo.

So we’ve been doing what we do best. Moan. Over the last few weeks it has started to reach a crescendo and I can assure you I am one of the loudest voices in the choir. Almost every conversation involves the line “I am so over winter”. Perhaps it is because the magnolias have been in bloom for a good month now and other trees have sprouted traditional pink, spring blossoms. However the sky remains grey and the light tepid at best.

False alarm: two weeks ago - the double rainbow

I am missing my fuel-inefficient, wilfully polluting open fire. Some days my bones have ached not with cold but for the longing to sit beside the burning logs with cats, a bottle of red or a pot of herbal tea and music playing. Instead I have taken to bed in a big way. I claim it is helping save the planet, being heated by the odd feline and my doona. But really I am grieving the fire. While the ‘new’ living area can be made warmer than it ever was, thanks to the touch of a button, it is just not the same. The fire was a great silent witness. It saw me through so many ups and downs. There were tears and laughter, great ruminations and some late night dancing.

I’m told spring is just around the corner but til then, you’ll find me curled up with the cats, spending far too much time on a wireless connection.

One upside though - the kitties certainly aren’t complaining.

gratuitous pussy pic: the step-sisters cuddle at last!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

on a sinking ship?

When I turned the MacBook on this morning I noticed the light on the power cord didn't come on. With a little investigation the cord or transformer appears to be cactus for some unknown reason. The computer was almost fully charged so I turned the screen brightness right down, made sure I wasn't charging the new yuppy phone or any other such power guzzling things.

All of a sudden my battery is discharging at the rate of 1% every 2 minutes. I'm transfixed watching the power percentage drop faster than the Australian dollar at the moment.

Any ideas what is going on?

Is it some kind of weird self sabotage because I have half the morning off and after a decent night of sleep I had earmarked a couple of hours for the writing project?

Update: for some reason dismantling the cord into its individual parts and leaving it alone for an hour seemed to have remedied it. Maybe the computer is jealous of the new iphone?

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Monday, August 11, 2008

more middle aged men behaving badly

Yet another bloke using the old porn-as-stress-therapy excuse.

But this time it was not a Qantas employee, rather a teacher, claiming a "mid-life crisis".

John Newton Hewitt, 49, a history, politics and geography teacher, downloaded pornography using keywords like "Lolita'' and "Naked pre-teens'', which included images of girls aged between 5 and 10 years old stripping...The Age

Obviously buying a sports car just doesn't cut it these days.

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..and they called it Yuppy love...

Need I say more?


Thursday, August 07, 2008

money first, fitness last

Too sick to use your gym membership? Then don’t join Fitness First.

Read more how this franchised gym took a woman to court over $200.

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Monday, August 04, 2008


A post in which another outspoken female reminisces about the good old days of her childhood. You've been warned!

Looking at that photo, I’m not only struck by how much my appearance has changed but how the way we live has as well.

I grew up in a comfortable middle class family, in a relatively new but small subdivision. While we were only one train stop from the city centre (an eight minute ride) the few streets of my suburb were nestled in a valley of farmland and native bush. There was a small playground and a ‘corner store” (there was no corner but it was a store, or dairy as we called it). Life was relatively simple. Dad went to work on the train each morning, mum got the kids off to school, cleaned, shopped and cooked each day. Once a week she’d drive across town to see her mother and three sisters in their various homes or workplaces. Though the soil wasn’t the best, she always grew a few vegetables, some rhubarb and a lemon tree in the garden.

But what got me most about the photo was this: my aunt made the skirt, my nana knitted the jumper and my other aunt cut my hair. No cobblers so the shoes would have been bought (a nice sensible t-bar style that I have no memory of according to another photo taken on the same day). There were hand-me-downs from my sister and the odd neighbour or relative. In fact some of the clothes I loved most in childhood and adolescence were pre-loved. Sure, I had my share of new, shop bought numbers but they weren’t necessarily coveted.

One aunt was a dressmaker by trade and another a hairdresser. Very handy skills. My own mother was a nurse. I remember the trail of injured kids bought to the door for first aid in my childhood. The worst was a crushed finger that got amputated at the top joint (a hospital job obviously, it was a capital city not the wild west). Though she even delivered a baby once I’m told.

Things got darned. Socks, jumpers, patches on jeans when the knees wore through. Shoes had heel and toe plates and when they wore down they got mended. Clothes were made with a generous seam and hem allowance, so they could be ‘let out’ as you grew. Oh and we were always bought clothes a little too big so we could ‘grow into them’ (have you noticed at a certain point in adult life this is reversed, clothes a tad too small are purchased to urge us into shedding a kilo or two).

At the end of its useful life when an item of clothing, or a sheet, could be patched no more, handed on or used for its original purpose it was turned into cleaning rags. My dad’s big white Y-Fronts would have a second life as a dusting cloth.

My mum always bought in bulk. Her sisters or neighbours would buy a cow, sheep or a pig. They’d get together and pack the portions, sucking the air out of each plastic bag before twisting the tie. I'll never forget the half a pig's head sawn down the middle, which for all her thriftiness stumped my mother's culinary prowess. In the 70’s freezer envy was at its height. In each garage lurked a massive freezer. I can still remember what it felt like to stand on tip toes and cantilever my body into the chest to get something from the bottom of it.

Curtains were lined to keep the heat in and my father was obsessive about shutting them the minute it was dark enough to turn the lights on inside. If you left the room you turned everything off – lights, heaters, TV, radio. They still have a habit of unplugging appliances from the wall when they leave the house. You put on a jumper (the same lovely ones that my grandmother knitted) before turning the heater on. There were slippers, pyjamas, thick woollen dressing gowns and hot water bottles.

I read blogs teaching people how to be frugal and it is nothing new. Just a generation that grew up with parents a few steps removed from the depression era mentality.

I still mend my shoes (nice Italian pricey ones turn out to be more economical than cheap ones in the end). I have been known to darn, however badly. I save buttons, even when I don’t use them later. I’ve finally got it into the Not Boyfriend’s head that in winter he needs to wear more than a t-shirt and not to put the heating on all the time. I still have to keep sneaking the thermostat down every time he uses the heater though.

No dead cows in this house but I prefer to cook with whole fish and if I need fillets, use the bones for stock that I freeze.

I still frequent op shops though these days I pass more things onto them then buy and the same goes for Freecycle.

I have a fascination for dumpsters and items left in the street for recycling. My ‘new’ wing chair came into the house this way last year.

But I like to welcome the evening light through uncurtained windows. You can only go so far I guess.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

post # 578

A late addition to the fashion meme: the details are pretty poor but the skirt is definitely the wrap around number made by my aunt and I'd forgotten all about my nana's hand knitted cardigans til I saw this shot. How I miss that straight, flaxen hair and killer fringe!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

having a bad day?

Then check out Keri Smith's secret message.

It's good. Really!

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