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Los Angeles: the darker side

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

This is my first time in Los Angeles. It is a startling place of about 22 million people – about the population of Australia. There are a lot of things to love about it, but they are for another post.

Personal injuries lawyers advertising their millionaire dreams on the Metro bus …

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So many people fishing in rubbish bins (aka trash cans), looking for food. Here, a man is up to his armpits outside the LA Science Centre. In Australia, this happens, but on a tiny scale by comparison. Today’s news is that 1.3 million Americans will be having their unemployment benefits cut and returning servicemen and women will have their benefits reduced. According to Volunteers America, 46.2 million Americans live in poverty. Skid row may grow.

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Another advertisement, inside a Metro train this time, speaks of desperation without calling it out. In Australia, we have ads calling for the surrender of firearms.

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Bail bond services are advertised on benches across the road from the courthouse and public service signs are mostly bi-lingual.

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I was speaking with a private driver about how terrible it was that eight Americans had died from carbon monoxide poisoning, because their power was out (due to a recent ice storm) and they’d used BBQs and generators to warm themselves up. The driver may have revealed too much about himself when he said that in his experience, you could warm yourself up with candles.

This is the dark side of the glitzy dream. Still, no matter what, the locals love this place, fiercely. And good on them.

Women driving in Saudi Arabia: hot music video

February 6, 2012 2 comments

M.I.A. – Bad Girls

I came across this jaw-dropping music video and had to share it with you because:

1. You won’t have seen anything like it before.

2. You won’t have heard anything like it before. Listen to it twice. It’s serious girl-swagger on steroids.

3. It makes a statement and it makes it well. Really well. Love it or hate it, but you can’t un-hear it. Its effect stays with you. It may even inspire me to work on my reverse-parking (because girls can do anything).

As you may know, women in Saudi Arabia are banned by clerics from driving. This restricts their ability to work, socialise and do many of the things women in the west take for granted. They are completely dependent upon males driving them and essentially supervising them in public. Read more about the stirrings of an Arab Spring for Women.

MIA, the British visual artist turned singer, will be responding to her favourite YouTube comments on 10 Feburary 2012. Go say hi.

What I love about this particular music video is that it mocks the arbitrariness of the unwritten rules which prevent Saudi women from driving as badly as their men and participating in society. It leaves their religion alone. Let people believe what they want without ridicule, but let fly at the way they conduct themselves in the world when it’s oppressive.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part I

November 21, 2011 2 comments

There’s only one way to watch this latest Twilight movie, and that’s with Twilight fans. In my case, I went with my usual gang of Twi-mums. It’s like watching a film with surround sound and 3-D, as opposed to watching it at home with your cat. Okay, your cat wouldn’t sit through it, because that’s what  friends are for.

I should probably admit a few things up front:

1. I hate vampire stories. Friends take me to horror movies and vampire movies to laugh at my reactions.

2. Chief Twi-mum has insisted that my review be a positive one, or else.

3. Twi-mums are scarier than vampires.

If you really need to know what happened in this film, Bella finally marries Edward, goes on a honeymoon and has a baby, in that order. Watch the film to appreciate the prettiness of the wedding, especially the dress. If you don’t like fashion, you might fall into a coma in the first half of the film. Or, the second half, when they go on their honeymoon and Bella tries to decide whether she should or shouldn’t.

Bella showed a little more humanness in this film (ironically, given how it ends) but was still high on the annoying scale. Why? WELL… Far from being a good role model for young women (which is what the religious author Stephenie Meyer would’ve hoped for), she keeps modelling what not to do. Ignore the warning bells in your head, saying RUN FOR THE HILLS or MAYBE MY PARENTS WERE RIGHT. Ignore the bruises after your wedding night. HE SAID SORRY. Don’t be upset that the father of your baby calls it A THING, as in “We’ll get that thing out of you”. He’ll come around eventually. YOU GO GIRL. Not so much. It’s all so peculiar in its well-meaningness (as in, don’t do that before marriage and don’t abort under any circumstances, even when it’s a demon-baby that’s killing you) that I’m trying hard to forgive the unsafe and confused message of Love conquers all, because frankly, sometimes, it doesn’t. Spend time with battered women and you’ll come to that conclusion quickly.

The film itself was a lot slower than one would’ve thought. The dialogue was as laboured as expected, but good for emos being cool. Stop here if you don’t want to know the ending.

Sure, it came together (weirdly) in the end, with Jacob the werewolf imprinting himself on the baby with the peculiar superimposed eyes, thus protecting it from a certain death from the werewolf pack. And, after the most horrific C-section birthing scene (not horrific enough, so imagine it with a whole lot of fang-biting), Bella eventually heals all the dreadful birthing/biting wounds (including a broken spine, I believe) and comes back with red eyes. But of course, that’s where the movie ends because we can all wait a year to see what happens next. She might look at Edward. He might look back at her. She’ll be tempted to bite her own baby until she remembers that Edward told her that it loves her.

The birthing scene put me right off my movie-munchies. The Maltesers (thanks Donna) and Twisties came home (and that’s never happened). The only bit of light relief was when the vampire drove his bride away from the wedding reception in a Volvo. Volvo – for safety.

I’ll line up for the next instalment of the franchise because I rather fancy the Cullens’ house. Architecture fetish, as opposed to a fang-fetish.

Besides, love it or hate it, Twilight has changed the world. It’s now okay for women in their 40s to cheer Team Edward or Team Jacob, have a latte and go home to iron uniforms.

The Twi-faithful love this film. To them, it’s about eternal love, male bodies that ripple not wobble, and how being determinedly female can even bring a monster to heel. Or, maybe it’s about having a perfect wedding, being taken to an amazing honeymoon destination and living the happily-ever-after cool life in a modernist masterpiece in the forest.

The Queen, Super hornets and B105’s Stav.

October 25, 2011 2 comments

It’s been another great week for Brisbane. There have been several good reasons to skive off work ….

The streets near the Brisbane River, full of people waiting for THE PLANES.

Twenty Super hornets ...

First, we took delivery of another four Super hornets. Half the city came out to the river, looking in precisely the wrong direction (down the Brisbane River, ‘cos that’s what happened for River Fire, all right?!) when the cluster of twenty Super hornets whizzed over the city, from behind us. It was a moment of WOW, quickly followed by WAS THAT IT? And, ARE THEY COMING BACK? Sadly, a few thousand people had to go back to work sooner than they had hoped.

Then, a certain classy lady came to town on Monday 24 October 2011.

Photo by Anthony Cox, used with permission. Copyright Anthony Cox, 2011.

Sure, she only spent 4 hours in the state that bears her name, but she made the most of the time. We’re still twittering about it. Kids have embedded the day in their memories of childhood (and somewhat embellished it – thanks S for tricking us all into believing that you shook her hand!)

Today, feeling almost sad that there was nothing big going down in the town, my luck turned. Local FM radio personality, Stav, from B105, came to my local cafe as the coffee-making apprentice. Being in the right place, at the right time, I scored my favourite gluten-free coconut biscuit and lactose-free flat white for free! Sure, we had to shout FASTER STAV! but he managed in the end, and that’s what matters.

Who could resist?

Stav from B105, probably wishing that he was back behind the microphone.

Occupy Brisbane, Part 3. In honour of the Queen’s visit.

October 24, 2011 3 comments

Possibly in honour of the crowds drawn into the city today, on occasion of Her Majesty’s visit, Brisbane’s Occupiers found some friends and pitched a few more tents. They probably, very nearly reached the overly generous estimate of 40 tents, which I published yesterday. They also kindly put out some new signs for me to photograph today and most generously did not display the offensive anti-American anti-Jewish sign of last week. So, everyone’s happy. More or less.

Great juxtaposition.

The Occupiers' camp-craft could do with some up-skilling. They wouldn't survive in the wild.

Art lessons for those who hate cats.

Why are animals going extinct? (Why is literacy dead?)

Nice, for cannibals.

Now I get it. The signs were written by science students. (Where are the arts students? CHOGM?)

Occupy Brisbane, or not…. Part 2

October 24, 2011 2 comments

This is Part 2 of the riveting story around Occupy Brisbane. If you’re missing the plot, you’re not the only one.

Imagine, peak hour Brisbane City, in Post Office Square...

People are on their way to work and the Courier Mail warns us that "Jobs are on the line"

Our Occupiers have put out some signs saying “What does our society value?” and “This is what I fought for”. To be honest, putting a sign on a statue of a serviceman is disrespectful. Servicemen and women fight for something, namely their country (the whole 100%). Five people and forty borrowed tents doesn’t quite equate, no matter what your perspective.

Finally, an explanation of the 99% and 1%. Poor Occupier was sticky-taped inside his tent all day (poster being on his door and all. What commitment.)

Why not bring Einstein into it? Makes it seem ...clever?

Occupiers looking occupied, but clearly not here...

Sign says, "Love is the Answer. What was your Question?" Well, after a whole week, I'm still wondering what your point is.

To be fair, they eventually found 2 people one morning, late in the week.

Newspaper columnists, keen to seem edgy, have put all sorts of intelligent arguments forward for this group. But, investigative journalists (as opposed to creative writers, such as myself), might’ve come down, taken a look at the empty tents and nonsensical signs and made a rational assessment for themselves. Anyone who’s a camper from Queensland, knows that you’re not going to be sitting inside a zipped-up tent at almost nine, on a humid October morning. The pram parked outside of one of the tents was theatrical but again, an unlikely prop. Anyone who’s been camping with a baby or toddler knows that said baby or toddler is up before sparrows and will not under any circumstance, stay silently inside a zipped-up tent.

Taking people for fools is impolite. Professional protestors should know better.

Occupy Brisbane, or not…. Part 1

October 23, 2011 1 comment

People would be familiar with the Occupy movement which started on Wall St and spread via social networking to a city near you. Including, to my fair city, Brisbane, Australia.

It just so happens, that I walk past this spot on my way to work most mornings, so I took a few pictures to show you what it really looks like, on an average day (without the promise of a news crew and time to assemble a rent-a-crowd.) Those who believe in genuine demonstrations or who have weak tickers, look away now.

View from the Adelaide St footbridge

So much foot traffic coming their way, every morning, from Central Station....

With so much traffic in the general vicinity, anyone with a bit of chutzpah would be able to do something with a good cause….

So, what's the cause, again? And why is there no-one around to give information at peak rush-hour?

To be fair, read the helpful sign. This cause is about the 99% of us who are apparently represented by this group, except that all of us are on our way to work, except them.

Wow. That's lots of people. (Not).

Office politics: What to do about the milk?

July 6, 2011 8 comments

This may be a short, but very significant post.

What do YOU do to stop co-workers using up ALL of your milk within a day of purchase?

I’m convinced that someone on my floor is bathing in my milk like Cleopatra, because it disappears Just Like That. I wrote my name in permanent ink pen on it, following office protocol. I also tried writing the name of crankier, slightly scarier individuals on it. Today, I tried something new….

Will this deter the milk thief?

I don’t mind the occasional sharing. However, from my last bottle of milk, I only had 3 cups of coffee (which is enough for one day of average output. No coffee, no workee).

If this doesn’t work, I’m thinking of writing EXPRESSED BREAST MILK on the bottle. Although, that might be going too far. After all, I  don’t need to include the word “expressed”, because it’s self-evident. If it weren’t expressed, well, it’d be a breast in the fridge (and no-one wants that).

Does your workplace have this problem? What are your handy hints?

Global Corporate Challenge (and another day at the office)

May 22, 2011 4 comments

Teamwork is something that most offices aspire to. This week, teamwork has taken on a new spirit, with gazillions of suckers, like me, putting on a pedometer and logging into a teamsite to record daily steps taken as part of a 16 week challenge.

It’s a virtual walk-around-the-world gig, which raises money for Children’s Challenge, Footprint Initiative and the Foundation for  Chronic Disease Prevention. And, I suppose, it’s good for us. Let’s not mention the fun.

Some people take it very seriously. Others, have already been caught out shaking the pedometer under their desks, which can look like something much worse (there has been an increase in loud laughing at the office, of late).

I’m up against another team, whose members ride to work, have personal trainers and are otherwise intimidated (in the nicest possible way) by the super-fit former PE teacher on staff.

Being against gratuitous exercise, I was lucky enough to get my daily count up this weekend by jiggling away at a fabulous 40th birthday party which had an 80s band until midnight. For anyone out there, with my allergy to exercise, that’s my hot tip #1: dancing to 80s music counts. Who can resist bouncing up and down to the outlandishly positive sounds of the 80s?

So, for 16 weeks, watch this space, as I explore what it means to be a good office-mate and fit global citizen. I might even start to enjoy exercise that doesn’t involve being first at the mid-year David Jones shoe sale.

Parents and teachers, take a look at the Children’s Challenge site and see if it’s something your schools could benefit from (it’s free to a limited number of applicants).

Have a great week, and try not to lock yourself in the fire escape if you’re going with the stairs instead of the lifts. That would be my tip #2.

LOL: Crimes against language – dot dot dot

April 3, 2011 1 comment

I make a living from using words as well as I can. People pay me to make their words work for them, not against them. I see all sorts of crimes against language and clarity which make me want to rant, but laughter is more fun…

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