Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Place Where Hope Is Born

My new artwork by artist Cathy Kirwan aka {tinniegirl}
76cm from the end of the wall, 73cm from the ceiling

A Place Where Hope Is Born
Celebrated with cheese and beetroot chutney from the Richmond Larder, dips, bread and fruit from Victoria Markets. All washed down with a glass of mulled wine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fish oil...what a load of carp!

I generally have an issue with diet supplements, instead of spending a fortune on tabets, liquids and gels just eat better. I have even more issue with fish oil.

Oil, don’t they mean fat? Fish fat. Not quite as marketable, I know, but that is what it is. You cant pick up a fish and squeeze the oil out. When you catch a fish and remove the hook, oil does not leak out of the wound.

I have a similar issue with the notion of soy milk, if it does not have breast then it does not produce milk. When the beans are copulating in the fields and then feeding their young then and only then can e cal it milk. But it does not feed its young because it is a bean. A bean, that makes it juice. Soy juice. Bean juice. Not such an appealing alternative to pour on your cereal each morning. But that is a story for another day.

Back to the fish fat.

It looks like oil because it has been melted down, processed and refined. When you cook lamb chops on a bbq and it leaves and shiny film of liquid on the hot plate that is fat. No-one calls it sheep-oil. People enjoy a crisp piece of pork cracking but would anyone willingly take a daily gel capsule of pig oil…I think not.

A friend recently received an international shipment of fish oil. The label spruiked the products medicinal properties including reducing the swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Fish do not suffer from the crippling affects of arthritis, presumably due to the abundant presence of fish oil in their body. I have to ask, is it the presence of the oil or the absence of hips, knees and knuckles that renders fish immune to arthritis?

Are the fish that have had the oil squeezed out of them now at higher risk of contracting the disease?

Amongst other instructions printed on the bottle was the following storage instruction;

“ may be frozen with confidence”

May be frozen, ok but with confidence? How many people are calling he customer service line to report their nervous anxiety when placing it in the freezer/

People placing the product in the freezer before spending the evening demonstrating behaviour more commonly associated with obsessive compulsive disorder. Opening the freezer door every five minutes to check that it is alright. To confirm that it is freezing. Of course the continuous opening of the freezer will ultimately lead to the thawing of the other products already contained there in. Perhaps that is what the complaints were about

“Yes, I recently placed a bottle of your fish oil in my freezer, and now my sausages

have thawed and gone off”

I like to think the concern regarding the freezing of the product is more to do with the anxiety of consumers opening the bottle a month later to discover it has solidified into a lump of fat.

Whilst on the topic of supplements, I want to discuss my many issues with horny goat weed. I will start with its name…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Footy Tips

I must preface this piece with the fact that I only follow Aussie rules football enough to be able to hold a conversation. A brief conversation. I understand that my lack of passion about football (or at least admitting my lack of interest may be considered un-Australian. As evidence I submit the following as Exhibit A.

I nominally barrack for Port Adelaide Power, I know the coach is Matthew Primus and I think one of the Cornes brothers still plays for them. I know that this year they will win the wooden spoon. That is all I know about their involvement in the 2011 season.

Despite my indifference to the sport I have entered my workplace’s footy tips. I am currently in second position equal on wins (126) I am second only on points difference from Friday might games. I think 126 is good but really have no idea nor have any real interest in how many games have been played or what professional tipsters have achieved this season.

At the beginning of the season I was picking pretty much by how good I thought the team should be, a decision which was largely based on the level of hype each team had created. Choosing winners by amount of media coverage is about as calculating as choosing by the colours of their uniform. Using the media strategy lead to a number of unwanted selections of Collingwood due to their unabashed media-whore President, Eddie McGuire. Collingwood will hereby be referred to as “The Eddies”.

After the first five or six rounds I started to pick teams according to their position on the ladder at the time. A strategy which, unfortunately lead me to continue picking The Eddies much more than I would prefer.

It was a strategy that kept me above the middle of the pack within the office tipping. To be honest that was all I was hoping for – to no embarrass myself.

I stuck with this theory (including continuing to begrudgingly selecting the Eddies) for many weeks only deviating when the injury of a key player was so significant that even in my attempt to avoid football “news” still seeped into my consciousness. For example Jonathon Brown having his face smashed in for the second time in as many seasons.

This strategy saw me gradually but consistently rise up through the tipping ladder until I found myself in second position about 5 weeks ago. When I discovered that I was second and with a real chance of winning.

Suddenly I found myself intentionally listening to football news of injuries, changes of coaches – with the exception of Melbourne always pick the team which has a new coach, the history between the two teams playing even down to the detail of the history between teams as particular grounds.

Sadly this still leads to selecting the Eddies. Easy picks also include Geelong and whichever teams are playing against Port Adelaide or Gold Coast on any given week.

Unusually the footy tips website my workplace uses also provides details about the parking availability at each ground. Not really sure how this helps with selecting the winning team. Aren’t these guys meant to be elite athletes? I did not think the couple of extra metres one team had to walk across a parking lot would have an adverse bearing on the outcome of a game.

I have drawn the line at watching Channel Nine’s The Footy Show, for either football information or entertainment. No footy competition is worth sacrificing my dignity nor intelligence - no matter how large or small either of these may be.

Whilst I will continue to select the Eddies, I would happily sacrifice my own success proportionally to the end of their winning streak.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Renovating - simple pleasures

While the show Renovators can clearly be described as simple (isn’t it just Masterchef with hammers?) It is definitely not a pleasure.

However doing renovations for oneself can be pleasurable. Surprisingly so.

Of course there is the ultimate pleasure of finishing the work and sitting back and enjoying your own handiwork, but if this is the only pleasure then so many pleasures have been missed – in what reality television would describe as “the journey”.

In amongst the hard work, unintended damage to property and self and endless expenses there are many moments to be enjoyed and savoured.

Stripping. Paint, stripping paint. What a rush when a long strip of paint comes off in one go. The sense of dominance and power! It is like the feeling of peeling an apple in a way that ends with one long strip of peel, but so much better. Stripping paint using nothing but a scraper can have its success moments but is more likely to result in frustration. Throw in some paint stripper chemicals and the high received is not just due to the fumes. Paint on the chemicals and then place then scrape from one end of the house to the other. What joy!

Lifting floor boards or carpet, demolishing a defunct kitchen, all of these create the same rush. It is the of power of destruction. It is one of the few times we can get in touch with our inner super hero. Sure we are dominating an inanimate object rather than a master villain but the victory is just as sweet.

Deciding new paint colour or wall paper. The sense of excitement walking back into your home with the paint tins or rolls of paper. It is the excitement of possibility. Definitely a moment to pause and enjoy as it will soon be ruined by the reality of your actual skill. The first lick of paint or strip of paper that hits the wall is equally exhilarating. It is only when you realise that the cutting in is not as accurate as you hoped or that the pattern you chose on the wall paper whilst spectacular is really difficult to line up.

Packing away the tools at the end of one part of the work is satisfying, regardless of the countless weekends ahead to finish the entire job. Rejoice in the small milestones. Especially if you are like my dad who may be a little ADHD and is easily distracted, which means my childhood home is full of unfinished maintenance and renovation jobs.

The exhausted shower/bath at the end of the day that never completely removes the grime and residue of the work. This is one of the most soothing shower/bath one can ever have. Waking the next morning still sore from the previous day’s labour is not as rewarding. Pulling back the covers to discover that the grime that would not be removed in the shower despite scrubbing to the point of bleeding has miraculously shifted itself simply by laying still wrapped in material – the very material it now seems to be covering.

Of course the ultimate moment during renovations is the drink/food break, made all the more sweet if someone else prepares and serves the refreshments. There is something unique about being sweaty, slightly exhausted with stiffening muscles and consuming items with your hands that may or may not have the residue of toxic chemicals used only moments before. If there are traces of toxins present then that may lead to a whole set of moments to be enjoyed and savoured – but that might be the topic of a different blog.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Census 2011

The Census creates an ethical conundrum for the entire population. Actually, numerous conundrums.

Firstly there is the issue of whether to be truthful or to lie and lie hard. The lies although misleading to the statisticians are not necessarily malicious. They may be lies of self identity.

I am single, living by myself and the Census form has space for six people to be residing in the property at the time it is completed. I already acutely aware of my singleness when eating out or going to a movie or Valentine’s Day. I do not need the government to be rubbing my nose in it with a form that clearly reminds me that the vast majority of the population lives in more sociable settings. Many of them requiring space for half a dozen people.

The note explaining how to obtain additional forms if more than six people are present is just plain insulting.

The questions about employment and income prompt much self reflection. Does one fill the form in based on potential, reality or ambition?

Potential; everything that life promised in the early formative years of junior school when the world was everyone’s collective oyster. Everyone’s career opportunities and future earnings were all dreams but importantly they were all possible.

Reality; a person’s actual employment and earnings. In most cases way short of the potential first witnessed in a classroom of 30 or so of our chronologically equal peers. It refects all of the times we goofed off, slept in and took things easy.

Ambition; what may still be possible if we scramble together the learnings from the past and make the most of all the opportunities made available to us in the future.. It is a second chance to make something of ourselves, to close the gap between our potential and reality.

These three issues repeat when reporting marital status, family size dwelling type and ownership, modes of transport.

It is a government form for us to measure and record our personal failures and disappointments.

The government then uses this information to compare the nations reality against its earlier and much touted potential and then scramble together ambitious plans that will hopefully salvage something from our future.

Australia should no longer consider itself the lucky country but rather the country of high potential but of disappointing reality.

But the con-census suggests we could not be bothered changing the signs.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold - Review

Morgan Spurlock has followed up on his 2004 documentary Supersize Me” with an engrossing and entertaining movie about the evolution and proliferation of product placement in movies. His premise is that for modern movie makers the only way to finance a film is through product placement and commercial gratuities.

The camera follows Spurlock as he seeks commercial sponsorships to finance his new movie about movies financed by commercial sponsorship.

This logic creates a feedback loop that would make my mother’s head explode. Viewers must concentrate to follow the narrative to comprehend when they are viewing the movie as opposed to the financial making of the movie. Thankfully concentrating on this movie is easily done. Audiences are glued to the screen. Except for frequent outbursts of shared laughter the theatre is silent; no shuffling in seats, no talking, no opening of bags of food..

This satirical documentary is very much aware of the irony it has created by being a movie about product placement, which is in itself full of product placement. In fact Morgan takes the irony and uses it to great effect creating some of its most comedic and poignant moments.

Spurlock shares his own amusement in the film consistently through, promising and delivering numerous benefits to companies in return to their dollars. Although difficult to sign sponsors early on The Greatest Movie Ever Sold had made a profit before it was ever open and sold to the viewing public. Un-heard of in contemporary film making – let alone documentaries.

It may not be possible to be simultaneously both subtle and blatant, but Morgan gets as close as anyone ever has.

Throughout the film Morgan struggles with the issue of making this particular film whether he has “sold out” or “bought in” ultimately this question can only be asked by the audience themselves.

When talking ticket sales he has definitely sold out. If you want to see this film get on line and book tickets early. Documentaries should not be this entertaining.