Archives: July 2009

You probably thought this post was going to be about this, but it’s another instance of “what were they thinking?”

I accidentally clicked on this while I was reading something on a site with ads. Do you ever do that? and then bitterly regret it?

Can you imagine walking into your study, or living room, or whatever and being confronted with.. Aaiiieeeee! Yikes!
It's personalised Ernie!

Yes, you are correct, that’s an … urn. For the Disembodied Head’s ashes.

That’d be your boyfriend, newlywed (ex)husband, nephew or grandkid depending on your age group, and still with the deer-in-headlights expression from the moment he turned around and saw the truck, the handbrake of which he’d neglected to secure, rolling toward him. W. T. F. If you’re an introvert and want to send any potential visitor screaming into the night, this product is highly recommended. Still, if I owned one of them, I’d be running screaming into the night myself.

15 Jul 2009, Comments (2)

Death of a Piano

Author: Helen

Via a comment by Nabs at Still Life with Cat.

Hauschka – Morgenrot from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.

Morgenrot is an animation made from old photos of New York from the Library of Congress. That haunting music is from Hauschka (Volker Bertlemann), a modern composer from Dusseldorf.

More about it here.

Killer tomatoes eat Masterchef viewers!

Killer tomatoes eat Masterchef viewers!

As I mentioned over here, we have been glued, glued, I tell you, to Masterchef lately.* And the kids and I have been noticing a certain disconnect between the program and the words from its sponsors. While MC obviously is about celebrating cooking and eating delicious food, the ads that interlard the episodes are full of the usual Western fear of food and cooking.

There are a couple of ads which try to express the joy of cooking. The plug for Western Star (possibly because it’s for a whole food, not some packet additive-laden stuff), does it best. The Diary of a Mad Housewife commercial (Tessie the Real Cook for Real Stock) is giving it a go, but I don’t think they quite hit the spot with the cute, lovable madcap family. These ads are in the minority.

The ad for Master Foods just-add-meat cooking bases says: “Why cook when you can create”? Sure, this is just a cooking show, why on earth would we be trying to get the audience interested in (Gasp!) cooking? Cooking is too hard, people! And what does their distinction between cooking and creating even mean?

This is irksome, but the Uncle Toby’s muesli bar ad is downright creepy in its cibophobic imagery. A sports star tells us she has lived up to now with a crew of dieticians, coaches and sports scientists controlling her every move. Now, sadly, she’s out on her own and OMG how is she going to stay in control? Enter the calorie-controlled muesli bar that “helps you stay in control”. Control, control, control. Because some of the twiglets watching Masterchef might completely lose it and eat some pork belly or something gross like that! And balloon to a size 10!!

The connection between anorexia and the need for control is well documented. I have an uncomfortable image of certain people watching Masterchef as food porn while cautiously imbibing some weight loss “shake”. No prizes for guessing the gender of most of those people.

The commercials the kids find most fascinating (and counterintuitive for the program) are the Lite’n’Easy Meals. This is one of those “complete systems” where a guy with a van brings you a week’s worth of frozen dinners, you stick them in the freezer and consume one by one, instead of cooking. Calorie Controlled, of course. We see a young professional say something like, “I’ve never been able to cook, so this is perfect for me!” We’re just intrigued that the company flogging this “system” would choose to market it during Masterchef, which is trying to teach us that cooking is interesting, exciting and accessible to all of us, and celebrating fresh and intense flavour. Again, I get the mental image of viewers watching each episode wistfully, thawed frozen dinner, heated in the microwave, on lap. Because learning to actually, you know, cook, is just too hard.

Oh, and ads for Contours Gymnasium also feature on the website, just to remind you that you are all disgusting people who touch, ugh, food.

Masterchef is pulling the viewers one way, the sponsors are (in the main) pulling them another way, towards our society’s warped and unhealthy relationship with food.
*MC Australia doesn’t allow external links on their forums, so I’m returning the courtesy by not extending them any link love. Of course, there’s a link to the official site on the Wikipedia article.

10 Jul 2009, Comments Off on Friday Earworm: Other peoples’ earworms, and other interesting things

Friday Earworm: Other peoples’ earworms, and other interesting things

Author: Helen

My earworm of the week has been Near You by Dwight Yoakam. But I can’t find a YouTube for that, so I’m posting links to interesting youtubes other people have found lately.

Pavlov’s Cat links to a chilling piece of Southern Gothic by Bobbie Gentry. I’m loving the set design. The little guitar is interesting. Words and chords here.

Boynton shows us Masterchef, 1941. One of those young gels is going to have to do a pressure test, for sure.

And Tigtog gives us a typical hospital emergency scene, featuring doctors who are, er… very highly… trained.

Update: How could I have forgotten this? Erk. Double erk. But as Barista would say, “strangely compelling“.

6 Jul 2009, Comments (14)

What, no baby?

Author: Helen

Continuing the unrelenting pressure on women who might be having a few happy moments surfing the news and forgetting about their manifold duties to society, the AGE had a link yesterday to yet another “Panic! Ladies women still oblivious to the biological clock!!1!” article in the sidebar. This stuff is becoming manic. The article title is Are you Leaving it too Late?, but the text appearing in the tab when you click on it is “Don’t Delay Motherhood Experts Warn”, and the link text on the main page is “Ladies, are you leaving it too late?” OK, we get it, we get it! We’re all totally irresponsible – that can be the only explanation!

Does anyone else find the continued use of the word “Ladies” incredibly irritating and insulting? Please, Fairfax, cut it out already.

The gist of the article is that women are, of course, stchoopid. And uneducated about reproduction. Yes, that can be the only explanation for the failure of Australia’s women to produce more white, blue eyed babies like the one in the illustration!

That, and of course, their schtoopid insistence that they can “have it all”: AKA, actually use the education that they excel in to take on a job, earn money, gain independence and earn some super for their old age. Silly “ladies”! Everyone knows that we pay lip service to how women can do anything, but if you try to, you know, apply your qualifications, you’re trying to have it all and you shouldn’t be allowed to have a family. After all, how many men who work at jobs have families? Don’t answer that!

If you’d like an intelligent analysis of why most women don’t consider themselves ready for childbirth until their late thirties or later, try Leslie Cannold’s What, no Baby?, which focuses on the structural social barriers to childbearing.

while the percentage of women choosing childlessness or suffering infertility has remained relatively steady over the past few decades, the number of women who are circumstantially childless is rising at an astronomical rate. It is the phenomenal rise in circumstantial childlessness, not the childlessness that women choose, that explains a good chunk of the downward spiral of fertility rates across the developed world.
There is no question that women should be in charge of decisions about their bodies and their lives. Choices about motherhood – the whether and the when – are unquestionably theirs, and theirs alone, to make. But in order to be free, really free, to make a choice, people need a range of external supports.

And instead of putting the microscope again and again on these irresponsible having-it-all “Ladies”, perhaps these Essential Baby writers could find time to examine the currently fashionable figure of the cute, lovable eternal man-child, to whom the responsibility of family life are anathema and whose extended adolescence continues into his late thirties, if not forties. I don’t see any “Silly dudez refusing to breed” articles, do you?

3 Jul 2009, Comments (1)

Friday Earworm: What else?

Author: Helen


2 Jul 2009, Comments (9)

We’ve been here before

Author: Helen

A couple are living in the same house. A child dies of catastrophic neglect. The mother is a prescription drug abuser and unable to cope with a (special needs) child, with heaven knows what other things going on, but clearly quite mentally incompetent.

The mother is charged with murder, but the father is charged only with manslaughter.

Where is this feeling of deja vu coming from?

Oh yes, this.

One year later:

The father’s defence was that his wife was the only person who could feed and care for their daughter because of her autism, and the mother had never indicated there was a problem with the girl.

What. a. crock.

The father is completely invisible in this account, except as “and her husband” at the beginning of the article. I did see a brief glimpse of him on the news, face pixillated, blaming the Department of Community Services. There’s a certain type of person that will find someone else to blame, no matter how damning the evidence.

So, let me get this straight: you’re an adult living in the same house with your married or de-facto long term partner, and your partner is not coping to the extent where she allows one child to die slowly over a period of weeks or months (with comcomitant disappearance of child, urine stench, etc); you demonstrate a shocking and callous lack of care towards both your daughter and her obviously unwell mother. And you’re considered less culpable.

I’d say he failed both of them. But it seems the Law here in Australia is still blindly essentialist. Or an Ass. Or both.

This is a repost from the old Blogspot Cast Iron Balcony in March 2004. I was going to link to it in this LP post about Desmond Moran and the Melbourne gangsta thing, but the old blog has lost its template, and its paragraph breaks, completely. For those who perhaps aren’t familiar with Victoria and its obsession with things “Gangland”, I’ve reposted it here instead.

The gangsters of Melbourne have been having something of a killing spree lately. Killing each other, that is. There is even a special Task Force out on them called Purana, which the radio meeja takes great delight in pronouncing “piranha”.

None of us are perfectly consistent: I may be a bleeding heart pinko most of the time but I, too, have an inner right winger. It is hard to feel any sympathy at all for these characters and the temptation is to think “There goes another one! You Bewdy!” and perhaps award a mental Darwin Award.

Callousness is a two edged sword and something that there’s too much of these days, both in the blogosphere and the world at large. It’s to be resisted. Justice can be counter intuitive. Once you say it’s OK for one idiot to blow another away because the other lowlife blew his brudda away and anyway they’re less human than the rest of us, then you’re heading for Rwanda or Northern Ireland. And you’ll be no better than Ronnie Reagan. Remember that 80s joke? Reagan says, “Hmmm, you say there’s a new disease, it’s always fatal, and it affects homosexuals, prostitutes and injecting drug users?… And the problem is…?”

One good reason for ridiculing our homegrown Dougs and Dinsdales is that we need to stop portraying gangstas as cool. The Meeja pretend not to do it, but they can’t help themselves. I guess it’s too easy for a journalist on a deadline to whack in some Hollywood imagery to help a piece along. On the way to work the day after Lewis Moran’s death I saw a Herald Sun poster: GANGLAND KING DIES. Terrific! The Hun, usually of the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” persuasion, promotes this sad man to King status. This wasn’t on the online version, but we did have “Drama plays like a movie”.

A couple of weeks ago in the Australian, the wife of one of the gangstas had a bit of a grumble about it. Sorry, can’t find the link. Her opinion, that a group of younger wannabes at Andrew “Benji” Veniamin’s funeral, standing around in dark suits and black sunglasses, were pathetic and up themselves, reflected the views of many of us out here in the, ahem, wider community. She also mentioned, revealingly, that Veniamin was full of valium and on his way to his mum’s to get his washing done when he was killed.

Think on that, you young boys and girls. Is that glamour? Is that excitement? Valium, the drug of choice of bored Tennis mums in the 60s, and in the boot of the Merc, instead of another wasted gangsta, a load of smelly washing. Boys, organised crime isn’t glamorous; it’s boring. Gangsters are not people to admire; they’re clueless. ‘Benji’ wasn’t shot down in an exciting, Bonnie and Clyde-type scenario; he was sitting in a restaurant with a mouthful of Fettucine Carbonara*, on his way to his mum’s to get his washing done. As a crusty old feminist, sorry, I can’t resist a final poke: If he had simply learned to bung a load of washing in the machine and turn the knob, instead of being a knob, he might still be alive today.
*Embellishment alert: I do not know what type of pasta Veniamin actually was eating. It may have been Alfredo.