Archives: July 2010

Well, sorry, current employer, but I didn’t get the message and here I am out with the dog after her Cartropin injection, heading off to that cafe over there so I can be a (cue sinister music) inner-urban Latte sipper for the next half hour. Well, flat white if you must know. Perhaps you should have backed up the old-skool street posters with some emails and texts.

Street sign: Attention, Weekend Cancelled - Go to work

[Image: A street sign on a telephone pole with this message:]

Weekend Cancelled – Go to work
Due to an unforeseen economic slowdown, this weekend has been cancelled. Please go to work as you would during the week. Anyone who does not report to work will be charged with absenteeism and risks being dismissed.
Special note: Church goers may attend Mass on Sunday morning, but only if their priest certifies in writing that they are regulars.

And just look at all those people in the background ignoring the message! I guess we’ll all get our pink slips on Monday.

This message has special resonance for me, as some of my weekends probably will be cancelled in the near future – An IT system which has taken years to build is nearing the go-live date and as a relatively lowly member of the project team, I might be a bit busy over the next few weeks.

25 Jul 2010, Comments (12)


Author: Helen

It’s Sunday! Let’s NOT write about the election! What about something less depressing and more relaxing?

One of my favourite things to do is to visit my brother in Tinytown, where he bought a Country Seat a while back. Not a bush block, a house in a quiet part of the town (if you don’t count an occasional milk tanker roaring past in the night.) He sold his house in Footscray and visits his place in Tinytown every weekend to dig the garden – a variety of potatoes, garlic, and every other kind of veg – chop wood, explore the surroundings on a little Postie bike, and drink red wine by the wood stove with his GF and any visitors and dogs who might be there.

Brother’s veg garden is not like my veg garden. Bro’s garden is some serious shit.

My brother's vegie garden in Tinytown, featuring a honking great trench. For potatoes? Or murdered neighbours?

My brother's vegie garden in Tinytown, featuring a honking great trench. For potatoes? Or murdered neighbours?

Victorians will easily be able to work out Tinytown’s real identity, but I’m keen not to raise the profile on Google in case it becomes the next Fitzroy. There have been upmarket cafe sightings.

One of the many things I love about Tinytown is the murals. They’re everywhere – on the supermarket, the servo, the side of every shop. When the people there get up in the morning and there’s not much to do, they paint a mural.

I rarely read the AGE Sunday magazine these days, and the last time I dipped into it it, it exceeded all expectations for Terrible. Blue Milk and Eglantine’s Cake have already written about the article by Sarina Lewis on “The Invisible Men”: Men are actually doing more domestic work now than women, did you know? Not just that, but they don’t get any appreciation for it!

Well – not quite. Now, I’m not saying a food writer can’t write convincingly about gender politics. Look at Crazybrave Zoe and Twisty at IBTP. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if Lewis will take this topic to their level of excellence.

Yet figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics bear out a startlingly even spread of domestic and professional labour: a 2006 study into how Australians used their time found that men spent a combined average (over seven days) of 11.44 hours per day performing professional, childcare and domestic tasks. And women? They came in at a combined average of 11.35 hours – nine minutes less than the men.

All credible studies, from the ABS (including more up-to-date information), the Australian Institute of Family Studies and HILDA surveys, tell us what we already know: women still do the bulk of domestic work, whether working or not. Notice how Lewis slipped the “professional” in there? That’s not part of the domestic load. It’s paid work which goes on the CV and contributes to your superannuation.

And as you begin to take on more of the domestic load, even where your share – minus Lewis’s numerical massage – is less than half, guess what? It’s tiring! Which is a bit of a shock. And kind of demeaning, because it is ballbreaking for men to do housework, which is coded female. So we get sad, sad pictures like this

bizarre image of a very dapper young man in beautiful suit holding a mop and looking poetically sad, oh how low he has sunk

…Why is he “holding” the mop like that? Is the ignominy of it all so crushing he has to appear entirely bemused by it? Is he a store dummy? Why is he wearing a nice suit to do the housework?

And this (from the Daily Mail in the UK)

Bad woman sits reading newspaper while her poor, poor male partner does the vaccuuming around her. Abuser!

Gah! You can see how hellish life has become for these poor, poor men! And according to Lewis, not a word of appreciation!

“There is a legitimate desire from men to be acknowledged,” says Jones, who suggests that the modern man’s role in society is vastly different from that of his father…Feelings of neglect arise, they say, when the stresses and strains of their lives – now as complex as those of their wives – go unnoticed.

Ok, about the appreciation thing. It goes back to the same principle as referring to the bloke’s contribution as “help” – the notion that the woman still owns the domestic load with a limited potential to delegate, rather than the man taking on an equal share of the responsibility, including the planning and remembering component. I’m not against partners giving each other appreciation, of course, it’s wonderful. But it’s assumed, to some extent, that a mature adult will perform certain tasks on a fairly regular basis. As far as women getting more appreciation: really? We still assume, even in 2010, that a mother is going to do various boring household tasks without being thanked for it – apart from the ritual “thank”fest and Hallmark card on Mothers day. Or as Rebekka said here, “they’re kidding, right?”

Expecting recognition for day-to-day housework is an indication that you believe your role in that housework constitutes a heroic act above and beyond the call of duty.

Guys, welcome to our world. Yes, you may find it frustrating and annoying at times. We certainly have.

10 Jul 2010, Comments (0)

Earworm of the Week: Everlasting

Author: Helen

Everlasting is the second solo CD from Rebecca Barnard, formerly of Rebecca’s Empire and Yarraville local treasure.

My first impression: quiet and restrained, occupying a very adult space between pop and cool jazz. The dove-grey cover art maybe sets up that expectation. Yes, it’ll seem soft and unassuming at first listen, but it’s a mighty album.

promo pic black and white in front of the statue of Liberty
Everlasting is like a gemstone which might look soft and grey on the ground, but on closer inspection it’s covered all over with tiny multicoloured facets, and once you see one you discover more and more of these facets and refracted colours, all different.

Barnard, who is a foodie and radio/TV cooking personality in her other life, has another description for it.

It’s a bit like one of those Chinese stocks that’s been simmering away for years and years,” she says of her new-found musical potency.
“The longer you let it go, the stronger it gets until it’s got all these elements that you’ve been striving for.”

I’ve been tasting this stock for a week and I keep finding more unexpected flavours. The pop sensibility of Rebecca’s Empire is still there in more uptempo songs like Give Way and Fall and Walk. The signature buzzy lead guitar still pops out on occasion (she plays all guitars on this disc) joined by clarinet, cello and other textures.

Everlasting was recorded in a few weeks in New York. Barnard deliberately took herself out of her everyday world to travel to a distant place, but to record with Barney McAll, who she had known since childhood. Other musicians are Dan Reiser (drums), Jonaton Maron (bass), Rufus Cappadocia (cello), Matt Darriau (Clarinet).

Take some time, got to move from there
All that’s left is what you bear
(Give Way)

This isn’t a CD for rushing around with a child clinging to your leg, or on the car stereo in noisy traffic. It’s a melodic meditation, with Rebecca’s sweet and husky voice telling you stories in between bursts of her signature sweet harmonies. The ingredients in the stock are the shifts and shocks of adult life, and the flavours are subtle sweet-sour-salty tastes and spices blended by a masterchef. I first listened to the title track, Everlasting, in the kitchen with distractions all around me, and it sounded unexciting, almost filler. Then I listened to it properly and now it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Barnard invites the listener into something deeply precious and personal, hugely generous, a gift.

Everlasting is available here or here.

The twenty-sixth DUFC is hosted for your reading pleasure at A Shiny New Coin.

Downunder Feminist Carnival

2 Jul 2010, Comments (11)

Earworm of the week: Sorrow!

Author: Helen

I could hardly see for the tears as I stumbled into work today. Sure, last week’s news was gut-wrenching enough, especially the Kevin Rudd presser, but this was nothing in comparison with the suffering I was witnessing today. You shouldn’t even listen to the breakfast news when you’re as sensitive as I am.

First up there was the revelation that a rich old white guy, who’d held onto the highest office in the land for over a decade, had been denied the fun new position of international cricket honcho. It’s not the first time “cricket” and “tragic” have been used in the same sentence for JWH but now the words have been sadly reversed. Tragedy is too mild a description for this terrible blow.

Then, after I’d recovered sufficiently to get out of the house and drive to the station, there was the voice of Ian MacFarlane, like velcro dragged over gravel – possibly more than usual as he struggled to contain his emotion – telling of the persecution of “the miners” at the hands of the cruel, perfidious government. “The Miners”, you understand, not “mining corporations”, because (as Pavlov’s cat and Tigtog pointed out) that would make Twiggy and Gina Rinehart sound like members of the Rich list rather than plucky little blokes and blokesses who go down pit every day and come out blackened and dishevelled.*

“The guvmint holding a gun to the miners’ head! …An aggressive attack!…Xenophobic comments made about foreign ownership! A fullon attack by the guvmint on the mining industry!1!”

I’m ready to go to the barricades to try and just get the concept of a fair go back to this country. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’m going to cry again. I just can’t bear this treatment of helpless people.