Monday, February 26, 2007

Vegemite Whore

That's too much for one cracker

I went to dinner with some people I didn't know on Saturday and had quite swell time. It was part of my quest to force myself out of my shyness with new people. It's never as bad as I fear it's going to be! Anyway, it went swimmingly, but looking back, when the subject turned to Australia and Vegemite, I should have piped down. Someone said they only knew of Vegemite from Down Under by Men At Work, but as they fumbled the words, I found myself singing the line for them,

"I said do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich."

The token Aussie at a table with people she'd just met and singing Down Under by Men At Work. I feel like such a whore.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Working is for saps

A great place to kill forty hours a week

I've meant to write this for a while, but other, more pressing matters took hold. Now that Britney's baldness has had time to sink in, I can start getting on with my life again.

To begin in the annoying, hip comedian tone, so y'know work, right? What's WITH that?!

I'm not going to pretend for a moment that I enjoy working. Is it that I don't enjoy what I do? Probably. But how many people enjoy the work they do? Not that many. For the most part we are caught up doing whatever job our skills best serve in order to make ends meet.

If that's what work really is all about, then why is there this incredible societal pressure to work, no matter what your financial status? I have two friends with significant others who are doing well enough to provide for the both of them and the lady not have to work. Yet both of them have come under scrutiny from friends and loved ones about getting jobs. Why? Why should someone with enough money to stay home, work for the sake of it? At what point did an individual's value as a human being rest on whether or not they are employed to do something, anything? It pretty much doesn't even matter what it is. As long as you're employed, you're on the right track. It is amazing how much more credibility people get from their jobs. Someone could be a complete bastard, but if they have a good job, his general impression is quite good. No matter how miserable a job is, it seems to command some level of respect over someone who, not needing one, doesn't have one.

Still got too much time? Any of these methods work great for killing an additional 5 - 10 hours in the week.

Is it jealousy? I think that's part of it. I think it pains some people to watch others not have to work when they have to, so the best they can do it make the person living comfortably feel guilty for having the time to enjoy their lives.

I've worked part time for over a year now and even that just kills me. It's not the five hours a day so much as the schedule. I hate being up in the morning and the 8am - 1pm encroaches on my late nights at which time I am at my productive peak. Which isn't to say I'm always productive. In fact, often I am not. But why, even if Gregg started raking it in, should I have to have a job or vice versa? I've talked to my mother and she says that if she won the lottery, she would still want to keep a part time job in a shop or something to keep busy. And that's fine if that sort of thing keeps her going, but she says to me "You'd want to be doing SOMETHING wouldn't you?" hoping I'll break all stereotypes about myself and show that I am NOT lazy. Well guess what? I am! And when I'm not, I've got better things to do with my time than work for someone else! I like to knit and sew and read and SLEEP! So much sleeping to be done. And why shouldn't I? It's free. Why would following up on all those other little things make me feel like less of a person? I'd like to get good enough at sewing to make my own designs and maybe start a small business, and I have the time to pursue that now! I agree it's good to have things to do outside of the home, but they don't have to be work! You can take classes or play a sport a million other things that you can do when you have the means to not have to work!

What I'd rather be doing

Once you are stuck in that rut, despite the automatic credit you get as a functioning member of society for simply having a job, you still have your worth judged by the job you do. People automatically assume that if you have a certain type of job, it means you aren't very smart. When I did temp work, I often noted the demeaning tone in which people addressed me because I was working as a receptionist. But there are plenty of people like me who are smart beyond their job requirements, but choose to do something that suits their schedule and meets their needs. I use to be hung up on people thinking I was stupid for answering phones, but I don't worry about that anymore, knowing that anyone who knows me knows I'm much more than my job, and if anyone is going to judge me for having a job that barely requires a brain, I say the laugh is on them because I'm the one whose home by 1:15, eaten lunch by 2pm, and then doing whatever I want for the next eleven to twelve hours! Doing stuff I like to do! When I had a full time, a "smart" person's job, sure, I got a little more respect, but what good was that when I was too tired to do anything else?

My dad use to be a computer programmer, but he worked an hour from home so he didn't get to spend as much time with us. One day, he came home to find me asleep in a bean bag, clutching a bunch of, by then wilted, flowers that I had picked for him. This sight really struck a chord with him and he soon made the decision to quit his job. He and mum ended up buying a Milk Bar (convenience store) and we were with them all the time after that. One of them would pick us up from school, take us to the shop and we'd see each other all the time. After they sold the shop, Dad got a job in a factory right near our school. He finished at the same time school did, so he'd pick us up, and he, my sister and I would all be home by four and we'd watch Family Ties together. Obviously my dad knew it was more important to be close to his family while working in a factory, than keeping his prestigious computer programming job and hardly see us. While at the factory, he ended up getting a job in the office at the factory anyway, and he was still close to home. He's now nearing retirement and delivers cabinet doors. He loves it because he drives all over Melbourne and gets to have lunch at neat and pretty places every day. I think he's got the right idea. Once you've got your necessities covered, it's time to prioritise.

Good luck seeing that in your usual lunch break

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Shouldn't you try before you buy?

I'm talking about trying out religions. Of course 'try before you buy' applies to everything, but wouldn't one of the most important things to be sure about be...oh, eternity maybe? As much as it would suck to fork out thousands of dollars for a car and soon find out it's a lemon, that's a pretty small price to pay as opposed to the investment of your whole life in which your return is either a blissful eternity or burning in hell. And for those who think we're all going to heaven and hell is a bunch of nonsense, try reading the Bible sometime.

In case you don't know already, I am an atheist. I don't think there is a God at all. I could be wrong, but so could you if you believe, so we're all just doing what we makes the most sense to us. I can understand why people are driven to a belief in God, even though I personally don't believe. But following a particular religion does not make much sense to me at all.

Quite simply, they can't all be right. You don't have to think too hard to figure that out. So which one is it? Well, surely most people upon reaching a certain age will endeavour to go over all of them and figure this out, right? Well, no. Apart from a minuscule number of people who convert to different religions later in life (and often to appease the person they wish to marry who is of the other religion) how can anyone settle on the religion they were born into? There are so many different ones, and only one can be right, so why are so many people so sure that they were conveniently born into the right one?

It's no different than being born in a small town with no character and the only places to eat are at chain fast food restaurants, the only place to shop is Wal-Mart and the town tourist attraction is the water tower. After never leaving this place and never paying attention to what's going on in other places one is convinced that this town, without question, is the best place on earth to live. Of course that is crazy. But if one were happy living there, it shouldn't matter, though they'd just be missing out. But in the case of religion, it does matter because if you've been barking up the wrong tree, never questioned the tree and never looked at other trees, then how could one presume they were going to heaven? It simply makes no sense.

We all know what religion led some extreme Muslims to do in recent history and looking at them, their devotion seems nuts and the fact that thought they had to commit such atrocities for God seems preposterous. But how many people considered, what if they are right? What if we are living in complete sin and they are on the right path and we should team up with them read the Qur'an and worship Allah? If they are going to heaven, then we are not. But few considered that and they were written off as evil and nuts. Well guess what? They think everyone else is nuts.

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon and Satanic worship.

Some will argue that they have looked at other religions and keep coming back to the one they started with. I never believe they truly looked. If someone sets out to prove a particular point of view, they can do it. No matter how objective people think they are being, their discovery will still be shaped by their pre-existing ideas and the ultimate 'truth' they hope to find. True objectivity is very rare and difficult to achieve.

People are set in beliefs about so many things that are familiar and comfortable. As an Australian moving to America, I feel compelled to insist that of all the things that are different, the Australian things, the familiar things, are better. I have struggled with this, insisting that it's Celsius is better than Fahrenheit, it's better to write the date like dd/mm/yyyy and that metric shits all over the imperial measurements. But after being forced to convert, I realised not everything I thought was better, is better. Some things are, some things aren't and some are equally valid.

I like Celsius and Fahrenheit. I'm more use to Celsius, but I can see the benefit of the broader scale to measure on. That same principal makes me enjoy kilometres over miles as the numbers drop off much faster on long road trips, even if there are more to begin with. When going through a pile of papers sorted by date, it's very nice to have all the months appear first. Both date formats have their merits for when you know what month you are in, it's the day you need first. But again, metric shits all over the old scale. You can't tell me that measurements that go in increments of 10 isn't way better than a shoddy old system with a bunch of random numbers that make up certain lengths, weights and distances and gets broken down into fractions. It does pain me to admit, however, that after insisting that my daily cereal, Weetabix in the US (derived from the UK version) was inferior to Australian Weet-Bix, my last visit home was alarming as I realised the Weetabix are MUCH better. I was totally sticking to the old ways because it was what I was use to. Something as simple as Weet-Bix has been a real wake up call! I'm not going to shift on Vegemite. It's a source of national pride, though I must admit that since the Weet-Bix incident of '06, I am a little scared to even try Marmite. Could I possibly be objective?

The UK vs Australia in the cereal war of 2006.

Again, it's just too damn simple and straightforward to me. The fact that the power of all these religions sits solely with where a person was born, says little for their power at all. They should have the power to pull people from all different walks of life, the 'right' one for sure, but none of them do. Each religion is 100% convinced that they are doing the right thing by their God. If I were a believer, I daresay I would be double, triple and quadruple checking that I was on the right team! You make the wrong choice and it's all over, red rover! Weighing them against each other, they all have strong cases, should you choose to accept them and when that becomes a muddle, one must ask if, even if they believe in a God, why religion is necessary at all for him to exist.

All comments are welcome, but if you set about trying to prove why yours is the right one, then you have missed the point of this blog which is really about objectivity, so please try and stick to the topic.

Minister turns atheist

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I still reject boy bands. Do you?

I'm happy to say that just prior to me really getting into music when I was 15, I wasn't really taken with the boy band types. I did like Bros for a little while, but I hated New Kids On The Block. I can't think of many other opportunities for me to get into boy bands. I was more into film and TV stars and my number one crush was Michael J. Fox. He was a safe, non-threatening figure for a pre-teen and I still carry a torch for him to this day. I'm very loyal like that.

When I was 14, my previous interest in music, which never went beyond top 40 was, dare I say 'expanded' as I ventured into rock music in the form of Ugly Kid Joe. Yes, laugh. Get it out. I'm use to it. As laughable as that is now, I will always be thankful for them leading down a more interesting path which would lead me into other things and eventually broader musical horizons. That certainly wasn't going to happen listening to the charts in 90s. And once I got into rock music, I got into rock star boys. And this made sense to me. They had passion, wrote music and recorded it, then performed it. Those are seemingly cool guys! Of course when you get older, you become more aware of all the smoke and mirrors, but on the surface, it's a good way to go.

While Ugly Kid Joe may be laughable, at least they were dirty, slobby, drank booze and were into screaming and vomiting: like real men.

So, I never understood girls who liked boy bands. These are boys that prance and dance like gay men. I have no problem with gay men, but as a straight woman, straight men are what I find appealing. What is with teenage girls who are attracted to men who display very little masculinity? They sing with high, feminine voices and PRANCE! As far as I am aware, prancing on the part of the male was never part of the homo sapien mating ritual.

What's appealing about this picture to a straight girl?

When I was in Scotland last year, sitting in my hotel room, I watched a special on 90s British boy band phenomenon, Take That while I knitted. Since their reunion was the talk of the town, I thought I should find out more about this group which I loathed in their hey day. It should have come as no surprise to me to find out that the man who assembled the group was in fact gay. When they first started out, they were playing in gay clubs and were well received there. So why does an act that is made to the tastes of a gay man and appreciated by gay men, so 'sexy' to straight teenage girls? I find it puzzling as that sort of 'harmless' guy goes against the norm for primal attractions between men and women.

Holy crap. I was just looking for any old picture of Take That, and never imagined this would turn up on the first page. I don't need to say any more.

I'm not going to use to example that Howard of Take That told in the special about how the five of them had a jerking off competition together, a contest which Robbie won. No, that doesn't necessarily make them gay. It's also not pertinent to note that Lance Bass of N'Sync has now come out and is openly gay.

But having established this, I feel that the interest in boy bands lies with a very specific type. Teenage girls who want something harmless to obsess over. I'm not going to pretend for a moment that my teenage obsessions with rock stars were particularly beneficial, but I felt I was on a more realistic path in terms of what straight men were like. More perplexing than the teenage girls, there are the teenage guys who like that stuff. I had a male family friend who liked Boyz II Men, and I just didn't get it! What was the appeal of boyz singing effeminate music to another boy? I received an email from him recently where he told me how much his taste has changed and he tried to get through a Boyz II Men album he'd found amongst his old stuff and was incapable of doing so. Whatever the case, it seems safe to say that that kind of music has the target audience of hormonal teenage girls who are afraid of men and aren't particularly interested in music if they are willing to listen to completely worthless, throw away pop garbage. That's not to say all pop is garbage, but that's the output of boy and girl bands.

One thing that was always pretty reliable was that none of my rock oriented friends, or anyone with decent taste would pay a moment's attention to any of this crap. It was something to be hated, end of story. As time has gone on, and we've all grown and tastes have expanded, boy bands have not become an option, until recently. I have talked about this with so many people because I feel like I am living in a world gone mad, but what is with the wide acceptance of Justin Timberlake? thanks.

As I was reminded today after being sent some hilarious NKOTB You Tube videos, these kinds of acts have their hey day, their fans grow up, and the former heart-throb spends the rest of their lives trying to reclaim lost glory. That's the tried and true formula. It's certainly the case for Jordan Knight of New Kids On The Block, Matt Goss of Bros, Leif Garrett and David Cassidy. People saw them all for what they were: teeny bopper acts, and snubbed them accordingly when they tried to be taken seriously as artists. So what has gone wrong? The Spice Girls all fell flat on their faces and are only in the public consciousness when scandal surrounds the. But Justin Timberlake, by people who should know better, is being heralded for his work. And I'm not so fucking uptight that I can't admit when a song is good, but I heard Cry Me A River at my friends behest, only to hear what I expected to hear which was whimpering boy band vocals. How good was the music on the track? I have no idea. I couldn't get past the vocals. After all, it is a vehicle for a VOCALIST, right? So how can I appreciate something in which the centrepiece makes my skin crawl and defies all my better judgement and taste?

David Cassidy has given up and settled into to being a nostalgia act, not that he has much choice.

A Matt Goss promo ad on You Tube advises us he's the finest British songwriter! Too bad nobody is listening to the fine songs he wrote.

Poor Leif. Made for dancing behind bars, apparently, after being busted (repeatedly) for heroin.

Jordan's appearance and attempt at songwriting on The Surreal Life showed he hadn't grown a bit, musically, since 1988.

I could accept people saying that it's not him, but "that Justin Timberlake song is pretty good." but it's been simplified to "Justin Timberlake is pretty good." Not true. Every conversation I have had with his apologists have indeed concluded that it isn't him, but the music, production and the people he's working with. This information is important and cannot be dropped when addressing this. HE is not necessarily good. He's just working with the right people. It's another case of Madonna, though enough people are blinded by her good business sense which passes her as an artist, so I can't expect everyone to see the error of their ways.

No matter how good his accompanying music is, how can so many people, people whose taste I respect, get by his SUPER FUCKING LAME BOY BAND VOCALS??? I don't even need to spell it out. It's all there on the record. That is when you can hear it. For the most part it's so busy with effects and layers that there doesn't even really need to be any particular person under all that. It's more obvious now than ever before that a pop vocalist does not need to be a good or interesting singer.

Can I get a shitload of credibility by shaving my head and wiping the cheesy grin off my face and pretending I'm not a complete goofball?

George Michael is one example of someone with boy band appeal who has risen above it. But for one, his vocals aren't so fucking wimpy like Justin's and furthermore, he really is an artist who can write his own music (let's see one thing Justin has done that isn't 'co' written or produced!). He wrote all of the Faith album. He deserves the musical credibility he has, and who doesn't like Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, anyway? The word 'artist' is used in conjunction with Justin Timberlake way to often and it really makes me laugh, at least I think that's what's happening until I realise that I am vomiting.

Could it possibly be that in the last ten years we've become so starved for decent pop music that isn't designed for people aged 13-22 that we have given up and are sifting through the garbage for the lid of a tin of lima beans to call a treasure? Because at best, that's all Justin Timberlake can be.

And if you think I am crazy for even caring about this, see my older blog about the problem we face with the dumbing down of our culture!