Note to self for Christmas day – don’t go all stress-balls, okay?

Fried chicken done in baking-soda puffed batter, a home-grown basil pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and Spanish olives, thyme and rosemary infused BBQ baby octopus, apple cabbage carrot and creme-fesh coleslaw, a marshmallow strawberry mousse, pickled cucumbers, and delightfully bitter-sweet Campari cocktails…

That’s what I’m whipping up for Christmas lunch this year, my contribution to the yearly feast that’s replaced the focus on gifting – although we will have a tree (plastic and over 10 years old) and some inexpensive pressies, less than 10 dollars from the op shop I reckon.

It’s at my place too so I’ll have to clean the loo…plus sweep the floors and get rid of the cobwebs, plus put all my clothes away and sort through the papers on the table, oh, and clean all the glasses and find enough bowls and keep the benches clear and synchronise dishes, and greet family guests and get them a drink and arrange all the chairs and light up the BBQ and refill the ice-cubes and keep an eye on the chicken and most of all…

…I’ll try to remember to not go all stress-balls.

 

Is Australia sexist? Or is the answer to that question way too obvious…

I just saw the SBS documentary, Is Australia Sexist? So, now I’ve seen it – am I now in possesion of the answer? Yes. The answer is yes. But I already knew that. Derr…

Australia is sexist and so am I. Because I live in Australia and Australia is sexist. Because Australia is a country on planet earth and planet earth is sexist. (Can’t speak for the flora or fauna of the world, but us humans sure are). A more important question might be, what is sexism? Or how is Australia sexist? Not that this documentary doesn’t expose some interesting territory. The objectification of women as sexual objects for example – the experience of sexual harassment in the street, the wolf-whistling and unwanted staring women experience at various times in their lives – or repeatedly on a daily basis for that matter.

My most memorable personal experience of this type of sexism (treating women as objects rather than humans with a right to go about their lives without harassment) happened quite a time ago. It was a lovely spring, sun-shiny day and my spirits were high. I was about to cross the street outside my house in Carlton when a man, leaning from his car window called out, “Hey sexy!” (or something like that) When, in return, I yelled, “piss off,” (or something like that) he screamed at me angrily, “Ya fuckn ugly slut!” before revving his engine and speeding off like a true hero.

Yes. Delightful. First I was sexy (and thus worthy of attention), and then, when I dared to step out of the frame -become a subject with the right to respond – I immediately became undesirable, ugly. Disgusting. I remember the sudden shock of it clearly, feeling angry, violated, shaky, and later, an uncomfortable feeling lingered…perhaps he was right. Perhaps I was…ugly.

Right now I’m tossing up if I should post this at all. I don’t want to ‘invite’ trouble. I’m very aware that some troll might respond by calling me an ugly bitch who needs to be raped. That I deserve everything I get because I have a vagina and dare to speak my mind.

In Is Australia Sexist? A woman confronts a man for making the comment, “nice long legs…” He says it in a rather detached tone, as though describing a race-horse in a parade. He then defends himself, says the comment was just a ‘compliment’, the implication being that she should (presumably) be grateful, not upset, angry, intimidated or fearful… He then goes on to say he ‘couldn’t help it’ – after all, she was committing the crime of walking past – she invited the unwanted attention apparently, simply by having the temerity to exist.

Of course we all love to look at others, admire forms and faces, but I think some men have been so thoroughly conditioned to gaze shamelessly, I don’t think they’re aware they’re doing it. I used to live on a street that shared a corner with an old-style coffee shop – the type where men gathered to play cards and socialise. They would hang around outside, not to smoke (smoking was allowed inside) but just to look…

In order to get to the main street I had to walk past one or more pairs of ogling eyes, so, to combat this almost daily dose of objectification, I developed a technique to make me feel less powerless…I found that if I stared back boldly – without flinching – then they (eventually) looked away! It felt great to turn the tables, flip the power dynamic so they got a dose of what it’s like to be seen primarily as an admired/reviled object. Yep…it’s not very nice.

So. A top tip for men who care about equality. For men who want to make society a place where women feel safe – If a woman you find attractive walks past (or indeed exists in the same vicinity as you), don’t say a word about it. Please keep your thoughts to yourself. Keep in mind that a woman is a person. Not an object. And it’s best not to stare – to gaze shamelessly as though she’s nothing more than a two-dimensional picture on a screen. Please avert your gaze, give women some psychic space so they can go about their business as freely as you do.

 

 

Flogging & Blogging – What’s the Point of all this Blagging?

Good question, she says, shuffling nervously and buying a few seconds of time…Er-herm…Well, the uncomfortable truth is: like millions of other online entities clamoring for attention in the ever-expanding binary cloud, I too seek to build a ‘presence’.

Because if you plan to to flog anything these days, it seems you have to flog yourself first. Even if I do manage to eventually snag a deal with a traditional publisher, they’ll most likely expect me to do some of my own promotion…Hence this little HungryBrain blog I’ve pulled out of my arse for your enjoyment (and possible edification). And one day when my intelligent and witty historical romance is released (my challenging dark, satirical novella Top model Hotty is available now), I’d like more than just a few people to know about it…not just the two followers I’ve collected so far – both plastic surgery clinics in India – their interest clearly generated by brain-free bots totally missing the gist of my anti-surgery post.

So, if I want to expand my following the experts suggest I write content of value to an intended audience, and devote my focus to a single theme instead of spouting haphazardly from day to day – what’s got my goat lately or put bees in my bonnet…

“It’s like a diary,” I told a friend when asked what my blog actually was, “…just one that anyone can see…” But it’s not like a diary at all. A diary has no intended audience – except perhaps one’s future self or the closest of friends. And diaries are safe havens for private thoughts, not public forums open to hateful trolls or potential employers seeking to eliminate weeds, so, with that in mind, I won’t be droning on about hopeless love affair no. 7, or getting philosophical about ‘the point of it all…’ And I certainly won’t be battling double-vision after downing a bottle of Tyrell’s Long Flat Red and a dozen Peter Stuyvesants at 3 in the morning, scrawling indecipherable woe-is-me monologues about my chronic lack of identity – ENOUGH!

No. Times have changed and I’m old now. Oldish…well, much older than some and much younger than others, but thankfully wise enough to know that writing and drinking isn’t the greatest cocktail ever invented – even with the convenience of auto-correction and font-lettering to disguise the scrawls of high blood-alcohol.

And I have to admit – I’ve jumped on this blogging bandwagon in true amateur fashion, or to put a little spin in it – organically…There’s no business plan underlying my actions, no ‘intended’ audience I can identify at this stage, but if I want to capture followers I must quell my distaste for predetermined shapes, I must offer ‘value’ to my customers…or, as I discovered from the Netflix documentary, Follow Me, I could just cut to the chase and well…buy some…

Yes, that’s right folks – if you’re feeling a little unpopular you can reach for a cash remedy and boost your viability, ‘for sale’ followers available in two flavors apparently – the cheaper fake variety, or the more authentically expensive ones…and, as the salesperson in Follow Me cheerfully pointed out when pressed to explain the difference between the two, the real followers would (potentially) interact with you, whilst to the fake ones would not…Sigh

Blogging has become a very serious matter, evolved from its grassy-roots to its current incarnation of sales generator – a fact that becomes plainer by the day, with advertisers more than willing to splash wads of cash at individuals with huge followings. The result is this: bloggers have become blaggers, and the evolution of person as product continues on its merry way…

Okay folks, better get on with my flogging…

Silly-bits in the grit: verisimilitude, suspending disbelief & other Bodyguard problems

*Warning: this post contains spoilers.

During the two Bodyguard episodes I’ve watched so far, my viewing has been halted (mid-episode) on two separate occasions. The first interruption was during the extended terrorist-on-the train scenario, and the second, during the getting shot-to-the-shit in the armoured-car blood-fest.

But the breaks in transmission weren’t caused by technical difficulties, no, the interruptions were wholly due to a lack of commitment on my part – a failure to suspend disbelief to be precise…Suspending disbelief – it’s a term I first encountered in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University (is it still called that?) back in the years when the sun was setting on free tertiary education in Australia. Another fancy word I learned back then was, verisimilitude: the appearance of being true or real.

In my opinion, Bodyguard, the 6-part series currently screening on Netflix, suffers greatly from a lack of it. Because there’s only so many bullets a mere mortal can dodge without arousing suspicion – is Sergeant Bud, (the PTSD affected protagonist in Bodyguard) actually an escapee from more fantastic genre? An imaginary place where super-powers are the norm and no-one thinks twice about breaking the verisimilitude barrier at the speed of light?

Because in the armoured-car blood-fest scene Sergeant Bud not only manages to evade a veritable hail of bullets, he also has the wherewithal to pop his arm up like a demented meer-cat and take a sneaky snap with his phone – thus pin-pointing the gunner on a distant building, driving backwards in the shot-to-the-shit car, and successfully tracking the baddie down.

It’s the kind of action scene that makes me think, now that’s a bit silly in’it..? And silly scenes don’t fit well in the desaturated reality of this so-called ‘gritty’ suspense/thriller/action/drama. Yes, I understand, Sergeant Bud’s fearless impulsiveness and razor-sharp reflexes splice nicely with his military history and associated trauma, and yes, his ultra-heroic actions act as a counterpoint to his many human flaws and evoke crucial viewer empathy – but this over-the-top action kind of ruins it for me. Kind of. It’s a pity the action scenes weren’t dialed back a few notches – we’re a tad less…well…silly.

Not to say I won’t be watching the rest of the series. Because despite it’s significant silliness I’m eager to witness (and judge) the plot twist that’s been promised at the end. I’ll just have to string up a few ropes and start suspending my disbelief – accept that there will be silly bits within the blue-grey grit…

* (an extra note for the pedantic among us) If the gunman was shooting at the armoured-car from the top of a 6 or 7 story building, then the bullets would have entered the car from a higher angle – not horizontally as depicted, therefore, it is very unlikely any of the three occupants would have survived.

 

Mind-blowing innovation ‘changes the way we drink water’

There’s a new ad campaign invading our screens that’s so incredibly stupid, it really deserves to be called out for what it is – a load of utter bullshit.

Apparently Twinings the tea company has invented a product that will change the way we drink water. Wow now that’s quite a big call, and the mind boggles with possible scenarios – what on earth could this new ‘way’ be? What is this revolutionary product now available for consumption?

Now let me think…is it some sort of skin patch? A slow-release system metering out precise doses adding up to the prescribed 8 glasses a day? Do we drink the liquid through our noses instead of our mouths? Or has Twinings discovered a new orifice somewhere on the human body? A specialised water inlet perhaps?

No. Hold on to your hats everyone, because Twinings has invented…A tea bag!

But Infuse is not your ordinary baggie, it comes in a screw- top jar, not a cardboard box. And the great revelation is, the bag is designed to release its natural fruity flavours into…cold water! Gasp! Who woud’a thunk it! Cold water! Wow! Surely this amounts to nothing short of a total revolution in the way we drink water.

And it’s good for the planet too. Saves you from buying all those nasty plastic bottles filled with flavoured waters. Now you can just pop a mango or strawberry baggie into your own body of water…and that’s why Twinings has released its own branded plastic container, the Infuse reusable bottle, designed especially for the retaining of cold H2O, and placement of said revolutionary baggie.

Let’s break this down to see the error in their message. Adding an ingredient to water does not change how we drink it, it changes the water itself. If we accepted Twinings’ logic, then the same claim could be made by just about every beverage made from water, and that means, ALL of them. Beer changes the way we drink water, coffee changes the way we drink water, cows change the way we drink water (they make it into milk) etc etc etc.

But the wonderful world of marketing isn’t concerned with logic, its aim is to prey on desire, the human longing for health and betterment, for innovation and progess. Well here’s an idea for you. If you really want to change the way you drink water – stop sucking down liquids from plastic retainers full stop. Get your hands on a pre-existing ‘cup’ and use that instead. Or stick your head under a tap and have an occasional slurp on that.

Food porn–the delicious objectification of vegetables, meats & grains

Tonight, before I get stuck into another episode of the excellent 10-part BBC documentary series  Hitler’s Circle of Evil (available on YouTube without interruptions) I’ll begin my evening’s viewing with a less arduous course. I’ll have the light entree if I may. I’ll settle back for some foodie-themed globetrotting, travel the world and visit homely kitchens and wander the colour-splashed aisles of spice-heaped markets, uncover the cooking methods of ancient relatives and, who knows? Maybe I’ll even discover the true origins of grain.

I’m not so keen on bearing witness to the pedantic art of micro-herb placement, or following the trials and tribulations of restaurant X’s rise to two or three-hat status, but I do enjoy the high-resolution, soft-edged objectification of vegetables, meats and grains currently taking place on our screens –  a genre that seems to be multiplying like mold spores on a delicious, washed-rind cheese.

Because something lovely happens in my brain when I clap eyes on the firm flesh of freshly- captured salmon, buried deep in a thick crust of salt and fired by local yet sustainable log – the succulence of cream-fleshed scallop gently nestled in a cradle of hand-knitted twigs – a plate of scattered pipi awash in a pond of wasabi-infused foam – the slow-motion capture of bubbles rising to the surface of hallowed liquid A or B – the sexy gluten-stretch as air-filled bread gets ripped asunder by plough-calloused hand oh, oh, oh!

What was I saying? Er-hem. Yes…I do love a bit of food porn served up on a rustic platter…

 

Now I’m not 11 with a crush on Paul Stanley, Kiss’s album Love Gun seems a little bit creepy

At approximately 5pm or thereabouts, having satisfied my dog’s daily walking needs for the day, I generally crank up the music and make my daily eats.

Today, whilst preparing another curry to use up the tub of yoghurt instead of letting it turn to yet another mould-topped glump, I pulled out a golden oldie, Kiss’s classic album, Love Gun (1977) to accompany my chopping.

It was my sister’s album back in the day, and for some reason the cover has disappeared, only the dusty, fine-lined vinyl remains. A shame, the cover is quite funny, Kiss standing god-like in full regalia with their oversized, studded cod-pieces on display if I remember correctly. And I do remember correctly oh yes I do.

I was a BIG fan of the band as a young lass and had a crush on Paul Stanley, his semi-gender-bending, hairy-chested effeminate prancings, his status as the front-man, and the thrill of the mystery of the face beneath make-up. Who were these masked men?

However, as a woman matured with significant feminist bendings, I can’t listen to this album without some serious cringing.

And it’s not because I no longer love the music. I’m not older and wiser with a more developed taste in music – I still rate this hard rock pop as much as I ever did, an album chockablock with great songs bar one or two. No. It’s the lyrics that give me the ick.

Okay. Let’s start with the title track, ‘Love Gun’.

…you pull the trigger on my…love gun, love gun , my love gun, love gun…

As far as I know, my 11 year old self had no idea of the sexual goings on behind this blindingly obvious metaphor, but fast-forward 40-odd years to my current good self, and I can’t help but feel grossed-out by the conflation of the male member with a weapon of mass destruction. And then, it gets a little bit creepy:

you can’t forget me baby, don’t try to lie, you’ll never leave me mama, so don’t try…

Er. Okay. I think it might be time to get the authorities involved here…

Then there’s ‘Christine Sixteen,’ a little ditty about Gene Simmons’ lust for a sexually active young woman who is apparently hot ‘day and night’ for the goods beneath his rather menacing cod-piece.

…I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of school that day, I knew, I knew, I’ve got to have you, I’ve got to have you…

Yes. Okay. She’s Christine and she’s sixteen. Not only does she rhyme quite nicely but she’s also reached the age of consent. And:

…she’s been around, but she’s young and clean…

Good to know Gene. Good to know she’s free of disease and won’t infect you with any nasty pox. And then there’s the famous, ‘Plaster Caster’:

Plaster, caster, grab a hold of me faster, if you wanna see my love just ask her…

At least here Gene’s penis is ‘my love’ and not a horrible gun. By the way, the her in ask her refers to the actual artist Cynthia Plaster Caster, who made plaster molds of famous rock-star knobs and boobs. (I understand she turned Gene down when he offered himself up as a subject).

Anyhoo, despite the accompaniment of a few too many dick-obsessed lyrics, the curry turned out very nicely thank you.

And I will be listening to Love Gun again:)