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Thursday, February 15th, 2007
12:36 am - A Defence of Emos, Britney Spears and Reality TV
Emos

Alright, folks. Enough of the emo hate. As I understand, it has become a social norm to blindly hate on emos for no apparent real reason. I say this because the only lame objections I hear about them are things such as, "yeah, they cry all the time", "they're annoying", "they dress like each other" or "they hang out in medium to large sized groups in the city". So freaking what? Even if you did have some sort of distaste for tear-prone, annoying, similarly dressed people who loiter in the city, I'd like to introduce you to the concept of The Teenager. That *is* their job description, emo or no emo. And odds are, you were (or are) very much like that too, so less of the hate, please. Anyways, if the Violent Femmes are considered emo, then sign me up, baby.

Britney

In case you're going to assume I'm some sort of Brit fangirl, let me tell you that the the extent of my past Britney sympathy slash fandom includes buying a cassette tape of her first album in Grade 7 and digging the songs she sang produced by the Neptunes. If anything, I used to be quite critical of the message she was sending to young girls with that whole virgin-whore image thing.

So what exactly is my beef with Britney hate then? Well, basically, I feel like she should be treated like a human being and deserves some basic form of respect. For god's sake, leave the poor girl alone! What did Britney do to deserve people talking publicly and trying to shame her about her lack of virginity, to repeatedly dub her fashion taste as horrid, to point and gasp at her post-pregnancy weight gain, to splash around her failed marriage, to take non-consensual pictures of her groin, to accuse of her of being a bad mother, to shake their head at her partying etc, etc? Just because she chose to be a pop singer doesn't mean that she signed up to this kind of treatment. Nobody signs up to this kind of treatment!

Reality TV

I agree with a lot of people that scripted dramas and comedies have suffered significantly since the rise in popularity of reality TV. Furthermore, I am genuinely saddened by this. Having said this, I only feel that scripted TV has been stepping up only very recently to met the challenge posed by reality TV. I also think that reality TV cops a lot of slander that it just doesn't deserve.

The most annoying criticisms of reality TV is that whole "but, like, the show isn't realistic even though it's called reality TV, eh, eh" argument. I am disturbed that this is even an argument at all, because I don't see why a genre of TV (or almost anything for that matter) should be constrained to only be what its name suggests. I'd also like to point out that although the circumstances are artificial, the protagonists are not actors reading out scripted lines, so the dialogue and interaction is somewhat more 'real'.

I can't defend all reality TV - some of it is pretty great and a lot of it is terrible, just like any other genre of TV. I do, however, know that shows like The Biggest Loser are insanely and quite uniquely inspirational and incredible to watch. The sociological or psychological observations gained from Big Brother, Survivor, Beauty and the Geek or even Queer Eye are often tough to parallel in scripted TV. Plus, if you give it a go, reality TV's a lot fun and even a little addictive to watch.

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Sunday, November 19th, 2006
6:58 am
Oh my god. I just spent the last five minutes frantically yelling at my mum through my mobile to convince her out of buying $500 tickets (per head) to the Iron Chef cook-off in Sydney.

It includes a seven course meal cooked by the iron chef Sakai himself as well as his challenger, which would be out of this world, but what was she thinking?!

The conversation went as thus:

- What are you doing next Tuesday?
- I don't know yet, maybe working.
- Really?
- Yes
- How about at night?
- Uh, I don't know yet. Why?
- I'm going to buy two tickets [we'd talked about this the night before, so I knew what she meant]. You get to eat food the iron chef prepares.
- What?!?!? No!!! Don't do that - seriously mum - don't!
- ...
- Mum, I'd rather have 10 other excellent meals...or even 20.
- ...but you never let us go eat out. You always say we should cook at home instead.
- I'll eat out! Really! Seriously mum, PLEASE do not buy these tickets.
- They're worth it
- No they're not! We're vegetarian, how much of the food do you think we could actually eat?
- Yeah...
- You haven't bought them already, have you?
- Yes
- Really?!
- Yes
- Really?!
- Yes
- Do you swear?!
- mmm...yes.
- You haven't have you?
- I have
- Mum!!!
- I haven't really bought them. Okay talk to your cousin now. She's back from Port Stevens
- Wait, mum-
- Hello? [my cousin Amy is now on the phone]

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Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
11:20 am
Tonight I watched most of the Foreign Correspondent story on a suicide bomber, Samer Hammad. I cried and I cried.

I cried for the victims' families and the family of Samer Hammad
I cried thinking of all the other Israeli lives lost to suicide bombings
I cried thinking of all the Palastinian lives lost to Israeli military attacks
I cried from thinking of the desperation that some Palastinians must live in to feel that their only way of demanding security and a home is suicide and the murder of innocents
I cried because, for no apparent reason, some people have to live in places like Janin and go through so much pain in their life whilst other people, for no apparent reason, get to live a comfortable life of luxury here, completely ignorant of what goes on in the rest of the world

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Friday, November 3rd, 2006
7:32 am - Rape and Race - let's remember to keep these separate
There are two important issues that jump out at me when the controversial sermon of Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly is discussed. The first is affirming women's sexual rights – that is, striving towards maximising the ability of women to exercise their autonomy in the domain of sex and to ensure women live free from sexual violence. The second, less discussed issue, is how we are going to overcome religious and cultural intolerance in our so-called multicultural Australian society.

For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that the translation of the sheik's sermon was fairly accurate: that the underlying attitude expressed was that if a woman exhibits certain behaviours (such as the wearing of revealing clothing), then she has, at least in part, relinquished her right to be able to choose who she has sex with. Frankly, this line of thought simply disgusts me. Sexual acts are uniquely intimate, private and invasive in nature and thus the imposition of sexual acts on a person against their will violates not only the individual's bodily integrity but also human dignity.

Having said that, it seems to me that if the public were genuinely concerned with the issue of protecting sexual autonomy of women, then yes we should criticise the sheik, but just as importantly we must also be aggressively attacking very pervasive cultural attitudes. Let's make it clear right now that the line of thought I described above cannot in any way be regarded as a Muslim one – I hear it echoed alarmingly often in non-Muslim Australians as well. When discussing a rape, it is fairly common for Australian males (and females) to say, "well, she was asking for it wearing those clothes" or "she deserved it, acting like such a slut" or "she was asking for it, getting that pissed". Perhaps there was no cat and meat analogy, but don't be fooled by the packaging – that's the exact same attitude excusing rape right there.

I can already hear people making retorts that the sheik is a respected religious leader who lectures publicly, which makes his statements much more significant than when a few mates in the local pub shoot the breeze. My response would be that we should not underestimate the effect of cultural attitudes. Less public manifestations make less obvious targets, but they do infiltrate their way into the psyche of a society. Take, for example, the way rape (or "sexual assault") is trialled in the Australian justice system. Although officially the defence is not allowed to introduce evidence into trials regarding information such as the clothing or sexual behaviour of the alleged rape victim, more often than not such information does end up being introduced, because it supposedly gives the jury a better idea of the credibility of the alleged victim's testimony. Although there is some logic behind such a rationale, undoubtedly this information appeals to the "she was asking for it" attitude more often than not. It is hardly surprising then that few of the reported cases of rape ever eventuate in a trial and very few trials eventuate in a conviction.

The second thing that really frustrates me about the discussion on this incident is how women's rights has been used as ammunition to claim religious or cultural superiority. Anglo Australians want to vilify Muslims are rape inciters and female oppressors and Muslim Australians want to vilify Western societies as female objectificators. I feel like I am going crazy. Why isn't everyone else tired of this religious and cultural hatred and also very scared of it having lived in the times of the Cronulla riots and the Bali bombings? Where is the constructive dialogue? If we are continually going to concentrate on the flaws of other religions or cultures, this conflict of cultures will never resolve itself – all we will have to look forward to is more ethnic gang crime, race riots and terrorist attacks.

Instead, we should all be working towards acknowledging the faults as well as affirming the strengths of the different religions and cultures that exist in Australia. Let's not waste any more time attacking Muslims or Western society and focus on how we can understand and empathise with each other more. That's the only way out of this.

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Thursday, October 19th, 2006
1:08 pm
Justin Timberlake reminds me of why Michael Jackson was a musical legend through what is a very fantastic form of imitation. And in that same way is how I love that the Scissor Sisters' wrote Take Your Mama. If you can't expect Elton John to produce any more of his good oldschool shit, then you may as well get someone else to do it and do it well.

Speaking of Justin, my god I'm loving Futuresex/Lovesounds. It hits the spot.

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Saturday, September 9th, 2006
11:02 am
I live in a South Eastern suburb in Sydney called Kingsford, somewhere between the airport and Moore Park and very close to UNSW.

Kingsford is a great place to live, location-wise. We're close to shops, schools, restaurants, the city, public transport, the airport, some freeways, the beach, a couple of pubs etc etc.

Kingsford is not such a great place to live in other respects. For example, our house gets broken into every couple of years and my relatives occasionally get mugged on the street. I also feel that I should note here that, despite the high percentage of ehtnics and substantial crime, I don't really live in a 'hood slash ghetto (not that there's anything wrong with that). A proper free-standing house in my neighbourhood doesn't sell for under a million dollars anymore.

But back to what I was trying to say. If memory serves me correctly, as it does for the host of Iron Chef, since I've lived here in the past twelve years, last night was the sixth time our house got broken into.




I walk up to the house and no one is home yet. The lights aren't on and everything looks fine. As I get a bit closer to the house, I hear a very high pitched noise. Unsure whether it is tinnitus or not, eventually Ed confirms that he hears it too. I start to get a little nervous.

After opening the door, I turn off the alarm. The high pitched noise stops. Everything looks fairly normal. Ed then asks me if the back door is meant to be flung open. I say, uh maybe. Upon closer inspection, it clearly isn't.

They smashed the glass in the back door
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leaving splinters of glass strewn on the floor and gaining access to the laundry room.
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They then jimmied the lock out of a second door
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and estranged the lock from the metal door.
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Now in the house, they scoped out what to steal, but the alarm must've gone off so they grabbed my dad's laptop (with its power adaptor) and made a bee line for the doors they broke.

Welcome to my home.

The worst thing is I'm not even particularly fazed. It's happened just so many times that I'm more fed up than anything.

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Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
6:13 pm
There's nothing that makes you feel more like a loser more than paying for your peanut M&Ms, punching in the code, watching that metallic spiral whirl away from the packet only to witness the physics-defying packet stick there.

Goddamned vending machine.

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Saturday, August 26th, 2006
3:36 pm
I hate it when you're eating something good and then you miss, it falls out of your mouth and then you can't find the bit that got away.

Not only did you get gypped of that bit of food, but then there's fear of sitting or stepping on it later, or it slowly decomposing in some hidden spot in your house.

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Monday, July 31st, 2006
7:01 pm
So it's week two of back to uni.

I had seven hours of class today - 8am to 5 pm, six of which were continuous.

It wasn't too bad, though.

In the first hour we got through all of embryology, i.e. weeks 0-8 of life, which was a helluva lot.

In the next hour we had a tute about contraception. Before the tutor came in, I joked about how we'd learn from the banana penis. The banana penis is a plastic banana used for sex ed that opens up to reveal a penis, which students can practice putting condoms on. Anyway, so about ten minutes into the tute, the tutor pulls a banana penis out of the teaching kit and my friends around me laugh.

It was a funny tute, because almost all the contraceptive and sexual know-how was contributed by the women in the class who were pretty laid back and comfortable about sex while all these nervous, geeky guys just stayed silent. We also got to inspect the female condom which looks pretty scary.

In the last hour I had of class, which was my tute for POLS2020, the politics/women's studies subject I'm doing this sem called Sex, Human Rights and Justice. Man, that tutor is NUTS! It was like he forgot to take his ritalin and so just have three expressos instead. I was somewhere between freaked out and amused as he jumped around the class taking the roll and erratically scribbled and rubbed stuff off the blackboard. He seems to know his stuff, though. We didn't go through the reading at all, which kind of annoyed me considering I had read the 14 pages worth of stuff. I did get to tell the class about how the Doha rounds at the WTO broke down because no one else knew about it.

Tomorrow is Ed's and my two and a half year anniversary. Neither of us have bought presents or made cards, but we're going to watch Wayne's World and play pool, which is just as romantic and thoughtful, really.

Edit: we neither watched Wayne's World nor played pool, but it was a nice anniversary nevertheless, complete with random KN sightings, the eating of soup and a meal at Asian King

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Wednesday, June 21st, 2006
10:28 pm
There's so much left to do.

I hope you feel the same and are thinking of good ways of how to go about it, too.

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10:21 pm
You know when it's exam week at uni: it's the one time where the 'quiet area' designated computer rooms are actually eerily quiet, when all the study desks are taken so people are cramming on the library floor and when I see an edgy-looking guy walk up the library steps, trying to hold three cans of V in his arms.

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Monday, June 12th, 2006
1:24 pm
Stadium Arcadium isn't bad at all. I've only listened to the first disc closely, but I'm really loving some of the songs on there.

I've gone through thinking Anthony Keidis is the greatest, to Flea and in the past couple years, John Frusciante. Poor Chad, he seems pretty nice too. But you just have to be in love with the guitar in the intro of Funky Monks, or the solo on Scar Tissue or the riff in Hump de Bump or the guitar on about another twenty songs. Goddamned awesome.

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Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
6:18 pm
When Nate from Six Feet Under died, it felt like someone I knew died.

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Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
5:40 pm
I imagine there are many angles of attack for a band like the Pussycat Dolls.

Firstly, there's that whole "Oh that's Top 40 pop music" brush-off, the blanket assumption that everything that sounds like commercial R&B/pop is complete musical rubbish. But I'm not on that tip. I like some Top 40 pop/R&B, and moreover, I like what I've heard of the Pussycat Dolls.

Then you've got the whole 'slut' diss. They don't wear many clothes, they're music is sexual, they're bad role models for young girls, blah blah blah. Okay, so the latter concern is probably somewhat valid, but overall I hope that our society is (or soon will be) over the repression of female sexuality. Too many centuries have women had to live with the stigma when they choose to be sexual - which, really, causes nobody harm (and probably brings the parties involved some form of happiness).

But what does concern me, is this:

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You know, it's cool with me to wear what you want to wear (except, maybe like a shirt with hate speech on it). But since finding out one of my very good friends has become anorexic, I feel pretty fucking worried when I see this. Because a collection of images like this surely imparts something really messed up into the psyche of young women like my friend. There's no reason that this band had to have their bodies have to shown from the side like that, to accentuate their thinness, for us to appreciate their beauty. This is a particularly irresponsible image to be placed on an album cover and I hope someone tells them that.

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Friday, June 2nd, 2006
5:33 pm
Goddamn. The soundtrack to Dave Chapelle's Block Party rules. It just grows on me more and more.

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Thursday, May 18th, 2006
9:35 pm
Miranda Devine's opinion piece called "A culture of violence that must change" published today commented on recent stories of child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities.

This 'opinion piece' seemingly contained only two 'opinions': that raping babies is a bad thing and that we should be less un-PC. The first point is rather blaringly obvious and the latter goes without saying for Miranda Devine.

She suggests that we should be less afraid of taking Indigenous children away from harmful environments yet makes no mention of why Indigenous children are found in harmful environments so much more often than non-Indigenous children and what we should do to address this. It is also pretty inappropriate (let alone offensive) for her to link the horrific stories of child rape with the acquittal of Indigenous men who get off using the 'traditional cultural' defence when it is clearly not an accepted practice of any traditional Indigenous culture to rape seven-month-old babies.

Damn Miranda Devine...

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Saturday, May 6th, 2006
10:53 pm
The Grates are the greatest.

Okay that was lame, but I do mean it. The Grates are awesome on at least two levels: musically and ideologically.

Musically, they are a pleasure to listen to - their best songs have that cool, unique sound to them - catchy but a bit different, a little weird. I'm sure you can read about why the musical strengths of the Grates in a lot of other places so I won't bore you with the details of the first point.

Ideologically, they give music a good name and I think we need more of that, especially in the 'alternative', 'indie (rock)' genres.

Even though they may play alternative-sounding music or dress indie, the Grates defy a lot of really annoying elitist, antisocial attitudes that usually accompany the indie scene.

Last night's Metro gig affirmed that they rock out and that Patience wins, hands down, the award for most impressive vocal control while performing intense physical movements powered by burst after burst of enthusiasm. Through last night's gig, the Grates also showed me:

YES! Moving to music you love in any way you feel like is okay.
YES! It's cool to be really enthusiastic and energetic.
YES! Bands can make concerts even more special through simple things like balloons and chunky glitter, i.e. being thoughtful is cool
YES! Music is fun

and thus finally,
YES! to the Grates.

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Thursday, April 27th, 2006
9:58 pm
I've just had it up to here.

When white Australians panic about the 'Asian invasion' and accuse Asians (many of whom would call themselves Australian) of 'stealing their jobs', at least in some way that's understandable.

True, there are a significant amount of people who live in Australia from an Asian background, whether immigrant or born and bred in Australia, and many of them are employed. Although there are many Asians who have professional jobs, there are also a great number of Asian people in Australia who are employed in the least skilled, least paid and least desired jobs. But yeah, okay, at least the perception of "Asians stealing our best jobs" might be something to be angry about (if it were, say, true)*.

THIS, however, is just outrageous to me.
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I am referring to the headline that reads "Chinese firms invade Aussie Fashion Week" that I read when my MSN opened up. I just can't get over it.

I don't know about you, but the word "invasion" to me implies something along these lines: lots of hostile people doing things that impose on what's rightfully yours (and the OED pretty much backs me up on this point). Under this kind of headline I would then expect the article to outline how Chinese fashion houses are sending a flood of their collections to Australia's Fashion Week and thus stealing market share away from Australia, when in fact the article pointed out how a large share of buyers this year were coming from China.

So let me get this straight: these people are actually investing in and buying Australian fashion and thus stimulating a pretty stagnant Australian industry. The effect of this is, obviously, that money is brought into our country and thus contributes to our gross domestic product. Hmm, and what noun shall Nine MSN use to characterise this kind of event? Invasion. Yes, that seems quite fitting.

The only explanation I have for this headline is that when the Australian mainstream media mention the word "Asian" or "Chinese" (which is effectively interchangeable with "Asian" here in Australia), the word "invasion" just slips out next. It's like some messed up, terribly xenophobic word association that the media have been conditioned to.

There are a million and one ways in which our media do not reflect the multicultural society we so often describe ourselves as, but this particular headline has to be one of the most ridiculous things I've seen this week, at least.

* EDIT: on this topic, today I was getting some food with Ed at Betty's Soup Kitchen. The white people out the front of the place were taking their jobs in an extremely laid back manner, kind of hanging around and chatting amongst each other. By the time we left, there were at least 4 or 5 tables that had been eaten at and vacated but not yet cleaned up - beer bottles, half eaten some plates, the whole works. Behind the scenes, the dirty non-loungey jobs were of course powered by cheap Asian labour.

I commented to Ed "this country would be on its knees if not for the hoards of underpaid Asians doing the crap jobs".

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Sunday, April 23rd, 2006
1:26 am
Three Hallmarks of pre-med exam stress and anxiety:

1) My stress eczema flares up - I'm erratically scratching myself every ten seconds as I read yet another nonsensical paragraph of pharmacokinetics.

2) I swear, in my head, at the pages of the text I don't understand because it is obviously the inanimate object's fault that I am not going ace this exam.

3) I make up (awesome) dance moves to remember which spinal cord nerve is responsible for what limb movements.

This is what happens when you're lulled into this false sense of intelligence in high school and then get shoved into the overachieving land of hard-working, bright young things that is medicine.

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Monday, March 27th, 2006
10:40 am
I had lectures from 8am to 11am today and I told my mum yesterday that when I come out of three straight hours of lectures, I'm usually starving. So I get to uni today and notice that she's packed a lunchbox for me, which is really nice of her. The contents of this lunchbox are as follows:

- Eight green grapes
- One white nectarine
- One slice of cheese
- One orea wafer
- One stick of Sugus blackcurrent lollies
- One roll of sweet and sour strawberry tape.
- Half a packet of M&Ms

Ah, mum.

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