Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another gourmet Freelance Food recipe. This one's for Delicious Breakfast Rice Balls!

Open rice cooker. Scoop out leftover cooked rice from last night's dinner. Mould into balls with your hands. Pop straight in your mouth. Do this at breakfast time. Delicious!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Postcoital power ballads. I made my friend Jason a two-CD mix of power ballads. I did it in about half an hour on Friday afternoon, in order to inspire Jason through the long-weekend peak-hour traffic, so it wasn't the impeccably crafted mix CD I could have made.

But still, I noticed that several of the songs I included on the CD were about lying in bed with your lover and feeling an intense feeling of lurve. Perhaps in your waking life you're a gruff manly man who can't really express his feelings, but in these tender moments, you're everything from the king of your partner's world to a vulnerable child in her arms. It's just you two, somehow out of reach of the world's demands.

This is a genre. It's pretty clearly written to please women, who perhaps want to imagine hidden emotional depths in their lovers that aren't revealed when the dudes just roll over and go to sleep. Penned primarily by Diane Warren and intended for Celine Dion, Aerosmith's 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' is the most intense and paradigmatic of them all. (That's actually the official spelling, despite the internet's conviction that it's called 'I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing'.)

Lying close to you
Feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we're together
And I just wanna stay with you
In this moment forever, forever and ever

Bryan Adams is on there as well, with 'Heaven':

Baby you're all that I want
When you're lyin' here in my arms
I'm findin' it hard to believe
We're in heaven

Peter Cetera chips in chivalrously with 'Glory Of Love', promising to "take you to my castle far away":

Tonight it's very clear
As we're both lying here
There's so many things I want to say
I will always love you
I would never leave you alone

If I had known about this subgenre while making the CD, it could have guided my song selections. Take, for instance, 'Hold Me In Your Arms' by Southern Sons:

The morning sunlight moves gently on our bed
Sounds of distant traffic float into my head
Eyes slowly open and words won't be enough
But what is left unspoken burns softly in your touch

10CC even have a song called 'Lying Here With You':

All our cares will drift away
Leave them all until another day
I don’t really mind
As long as I can find
That I’m lying here with you

There was some discussion in the car about whether '(I Just) Died In Your Arms' by Cutting Crew was part of this genre. At the time I disagreed because of the violent connotations of the phrase, but upon examining the lyrics more closely, the song doesn't fit because it's about postcoital entrapment and regret ("I should've walked away").

Can you think of any other songs in this genre?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm so glad there was no internet when I was a kid. From an early age I have always been acutely sensitive to violations of dignity. I feel humiliations keenly and have a physical feeling of dread and revulsion when I even think back on humiliating episodes from my past.

When I was in grade one, my friends and I workshopped a class-conflict pantomime one lunchtime – it was about two dairymaids who dared to stand up to the queen and the duchess. (I think this might have been influenced by the AA Milne poem The King's Breakfast.) I was so pleased with this – there were songs and everything – that I told my beloved teacher Mrs Leith about it, and she said we ought to perform the panto for the assembled grade one students.

Of course, my stupid friends fucked it all up. They didn't sing the songs properly. They didn't do the lines properly. I looked like a total dick in front of my entire year level. You know the expression "I wished I could crawl into a hole?" Well, I was so humiliated I did the next best thing: I crawled under a desk in the corner of the classroom and sobbed, and wouldn't come out for the rest of the afternoon.

I have tears in my eyes right now as I type this, remembering the terrible conviction that I could never hold my head up among my classmates again, that this would be something they'd mock me about for years to come.

Of course, I suspect nobody remembers this humiliation as keenly as I do. I'd be surprised if my former classmates remember me at all. But imagine if this episode were available online, for billions of strangers to watch and deem 'funny' or 'cute'.

Oh god, this was terrible to watch. I used to make up all sorts of stupid dances when I was a kid, and I'm grateful they were never recorded. There is still evidence of my stupid audio recordings, which my brother miT often interrupted, but there's something profoundly undignified about video. My heart breaks for the girl in this video – because she clearly wanted to look awesome and glamorous and instead she looked like a dick.

An odder thing is that for some reason only the humiliation of children upsets me. By contrast, I never fail to laugh hysterically at this video:

We are learning over the last ten or so years that personifying a viral internet meme can be a painful experience. Mike Blount still cringes every time he hears the "Hello my future girlfriend" audio message he placed on his website in 1998, aged 11. But he's decided to be a good sport about it, and has even recorded an updated version, "Hello my future boyfriend". ("Yes, I am gay. I like the cock.")

Also, remember Ghyslain Raza, the Star Wars Kid who "had to endure, and still endures today, harassment and derision from his high-school mates and the public at large", and "will be under psychiatric care for an indefinite amount of time."

I felt heartened that the following video got lots of criticism on BuzzFeed.

Why do we belittle the emotional turmoil of children as if it's not as important as our own? I still resent the way my distress or anger was dismissed by my parents as "You're just over-tired". But it's not so much this little girl's genuine heartbreak that troubles me, but the mother's cool interrogation.

Some commenters on BuzzFeed were like, "Yeah, but she'll laugh about it when she's grown up." As someone whose childhood humiliations still rankle almost thirty years later, I can tell you that's just not true, and that comments such as "that is definitely coming out in therapy" are much more accurate.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thoughts on Underbelly 3: The Golden Mile. I am sort of ashamed to reveal that I was really looking forward to the new season of Underbelly. It's the same sort of shame I felt about being excited about The Society Murders.

Australian event TV is not nearly as exciting to my peers as American event TV; for instance, my housemate has been going on about Treme (pronounced "tre-MAY") the new show about Katrina-devastated New Orleans by the creators of The Wire, which also premiered last night. I also remember being absolutely thrilled to watch Glee for the first time when Ten cruelly offered us a one-episode taster months ahead of its actual plans to screen it.

The two things I liked most about The Golden Mile were the Oz-'80s soundtrack and that wussy waitress who turns to prostitution. Her no-good boyfriend's outfits were classic; I had an acid-wash denim jacket like that. Also, why did she have to make a scene and throw money in his face? If I were her I would have just quietly found a new place to live and moved without telling him. Or even, y'know, changed the locks on her flat. Now you just know something terrible will happen to her cat.

Also, that scene in which she fundamentally misunderstands the meaning of "blow job" was excruciating television. Merely looking away or covering my face with my hands was not enough to soothe my acute embarrassment; I had to cover my face with a cushion and make agonised groaning noises of the sort she probably ought to have been making.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My hollowed-out life. I am feeling pretty destroyed by work at the moment. I feel that all I do is work and work and work and work and work and work. Then I go out to work events and then I get home and work some more. I put off housework, eating, making medical/dental appointments and other everyday things because I feel that getting work done is a bigger priority. I can feel myself getting tired, sick and overwhelmed, like a clockwork toy winding down. This makes me panic, because how will I get all my work done unless I can keep working?

Work has totally hollowed out my existence; it has become vitally important for me to succeed at work because it is my only source of self-esteem. I have no hobbies or leisure activities because they have all become part of my work. I have no romantic or sex life; nobody to relax with after work or to attend work-related functions with me. I barely see my friends any more, except for talking to them on Facebook or Twitter and feeling guilty about it because I should be working.

When someone asks me what I've been up to, the only thing I can think to say is "Working", and I dread talking to friends and family about my day-to-day life; not just because it must be so boring for other people to hear, but also because telling people is like experiencing the work-related stress all over again.

It's not only that there is no joy in my life; I also feel constantly ashamed and guilty. Someone more motivated and organised than me should be able to handle my workload without the constant feeling of crisis and wasted time that stalks me. I can see my friends shouldering vast amounts of work and just dealing with it, whereas I have a relatively short and simple to-do list that shouldn't take me nearly as long to get through as it does.

It's very hard for me to think about life in a big-picture, abstract way, to plan long-term projects and set goals. This is because there always seem to be more pressing and urgent things to think about and spend time on; it's like trying to concentrate on something with a circle of people around you whispering various things in your ears all the time.

I took the Monday and Tuesday before Easter off to go on a road-trip with my parents. I had to work solidly through the previous weekend to make sure that all my required work was done before I left on Monday morning, and I had to fly home in order to review two Comedy Festival shows on Tuesday night. In the end my plane was delayed three hours so I missed the comedy shows, which I've had to reschedule. I have been fantasising about taking a whole week off everyday work so I can concentrate on big-picture work, but that would require such a large amount of groundwork that it's exhausting to contemplate.

There's no such thing as TGIF because what is Friday but the day before another working day? The only difference between weekends and weekdays is that I read the weekend papers over brunch and coffee, which is really more like research. Then I go home and do more work.

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