Monday, June 29, 2015

Capturing clouds

Without the sun                              
there would be
no clouds to capture rain,
nor would there be
wood to shape
these cupboard clouds the same.

Nor shadows sharp,
to cut the clouds,
the sun without would make,
for heads to tilt
and globes to spin,
and cameras click to take.

These idle thoughts
this winter's day
have come to me just so
to take away,
reflect upon,
rearrange and show. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Spam bam, thank you Ma'am

A curious email just arrived in my husband's work inbox from the "various exhibition booths & truss system for 15 years in Shanghai"...

The author calls herself Yolanda and begins her letter "Hi Dear", then proceeds to thank my husband for an inquiry he says he never made to take part in the 15-years in Shanghai booths and truss system. Why he didn't make an inquiry (if indeed he didn't) to take part in such an event I cannot possibly imagine. Booths and truss system in Shanghai - what's not to like?

A few details of the booths and truss system are then provided by Yolanda with the promise that they will give my husband "an edge over you competitors."

Yolanda then concludes her final wrap-up on the intriguing booths and truss system in Shanghai by saying "I hope you'll be pleasure my service and feel free to contact with me!!"

"Pleasure my service"?

Even if my husband isn't looking into booths and truss system in Shanghai, I am!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Berry red

How red is my garden? Berry red, that's how. And this brilliant baby berry (don't know its official name; hopefully it's not poisonous) is not only raging red; it's resilient red too, for the little wonder is the only - THE ONLY - surviving plant from our original garden, such as it was, which wasn't much, but still. 

Indeed, this little beauty is a survivor. Twenty-plus years, much dislocating bulldozing, and, as an astute eye might notice, a somewhat laid-back approach to weed eradication and general garden upkeep, she (or he) has endured and lived to tell the tale. In fact pretty much all I do in that regard these days is take photos of our plants, which is not, technically speaking, plant care or 'gardening', as such, but more plant appreciation, which is something. The plants - the ones that survive at least - know they are admired. 

Indeed if you want to know the whole story of the berry red berry - and I sense that you do - her (or his) survival is most directly the result of our first son's insistence that we preserve the little red berry from the bullying bulldozers when they first rolled in back when he was a lad young enough to care about such low-tech things as small red berries. How the lad has changed (!) in the intervening thirteen years, and how the little berries have not. 

And this is the true charm of the berry red berry story: how some things change and others stay the same - and long may it be so!        

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Call me old-fashioned... but when THIS, or close-relative, appears between my bed covers in the dead of night, waving it's creepy feelers in my direction as if sizing me up as a possible host for its winter hibernation, I am understandably a little bit BUGGED. It's a bit much really, if you ask me, which it didn't.

Mind you, I didn't wait around to ascertain whether or not it was a courteous sort of bug but rather leapt from my warm cocoon of covers to stand half naked at the side of the bed shivering and spluttering: 'There's a giant bug in the bed! Can you get it out?' to my good man in a tone of voice that was sure to wake him along with one or two of the neighbours. I was thinking of him really, as he too was in the bed with a giant boggle-eyed bug and just didn't know it.

He didn't necessarily see it this way, as he had been in a deep sleep happily dreaming about complicated guitar riffs when assaulted by this truly alarming prospect and asked to do something about it pronto. But seeing there was no way back to that happy guitar place until he located and removed the GIANT bug, he bravely lifted and scanned the covers on my side - with his hand! - and his eyes shut, before pronouncing it bug free in a mumble-grumble voice that suggested he wasn't entirely awake.

In fact, there was no way to tell for sure about the bug without the light, it being the middle of the night and all, so when this was made clear to my good man he switched on the reading light and rescanned the covers with his eyes at least half open. I looked on from more of a distance, to appreciate the bigger picture.

No bug, giant or small.

OK, so there was no big bug in the bed. It seems I dreamed the big bug up. How was I to know? I have never dreamed about a bug in my bed before. Things are getting dire; I think I might have to take up the guitar.    



Friday, June 19, 2015

Cover clue

I've just sent off a mock-up design for the cover of my book and the publisher likes it! At least they said they will 'definitely keep it in mind', which is about as good as it gets with publishers. They're still in control.

Unfortunately, I can't reveal said cover, for all sorts of top-secret and terribly important reasons, but here's a vital clue.

Go figure...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Love at first Skype

OK, that's quite enough of Don-Key's face for now and forever! My family need me to move on to some other face, ANY other face but his.   So here she is: the much more agreeable face of OWW, sensibly wearing a beanie in case her proximity to the ponytail-pulling donkey puts her own hair in peril. You never know when or what that PM is going to pull next.                  But enough about that and on to the matter at hand: love online... 
Our first-born (21-22), recently announced, like a lightning bolt in our back yard only much more startling: 'I've met someone and I'm going to Perth in three weeks to see her'. As we live in Auckland, approximately 5,351 kilometres from Perth and the son in question almost never leaves his room these days except to go to the bathroom (and sometimes not even then), it was just as well I was sitting down at the time he dropped this startling news in my lap. 

Not that I'm complaining, mind. Whatever it takes to get him out of his room is fine by me. And, indeed, I'm all for love, on and off line. And it appears that what it took was a mutual interest in some highly addictive computer 'game' (not allowed to call it a game) and Skype. Love at first Skype? Stranger things have happened -- a ponytail pulling prime minister, for instance. But I'm over that now. I shall never mention it again.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pony or penis?

I thought long and hard (npi) about whether or not to sully and stain my beautiful blog with the image of this pony-pulling prat of a PM, and decided that in the interests of the nation, which is naturally hanging on my every word, I would.

This is because I have a theory about "ponytail-gate" that I'd like to share with our great nation of people, most of whom seem ever so slightly confused about what sort of person makes a good leader, or even a good person.

"Ponytail-gate" refers to the recent asinine antics of the right-wing, pawn of the rich PM of NZ who, in his spare time, when out with his wife and bodyguards, likes to tug on the ponytail of the waitress who serves him, not once, but many many times over the course of months, despite the young owner of the ponytail asking, then telling him, please don't! He's a class act our PM. Clearly the best man for the top job.

But my theory about the whole silly sordid affair is that the man's a repressed homosexual, either wanting to prove he's not or confusing the ponytail with a penis in wanting to give it a good - rather, many a good - tug.

This is not to denigrate homosexuality, of course, but to highlight the fact that our so-called Mr Nice Guy PM is a two-faced pony-penis-pulling phoney who needs to be outed, whatever he's hiding. If it is homosexuality, that will be his most dignified skeleton you can be sure.

His wife was with him on his pony-pulling outings, for fuck sake! She even told him to stop, several times, and still he continued. O to be his wife! And between tugs, this first-class phoney presides over the steady demolition of the best welfare state in the world, with cuts in arts funding, state eduction, student allowances, public broadcasting and taxes for the rich. Brilliant! Talk about the second coming.

Where have you been all my life, John! I think it might be time to grow my hair.



Monday, June 8, 2015

Room with a zoom

The view plays;
the view looks
and sounds
like music

When the wind blows
so the violins and cellos

Thunder falls
so bass drums and cymbals

Piano is scurrying
insects and leaves,
all things


Cat crawl

Light play

Statues play

Bricks play
time trodden

Piano plays pace

Orchestra plays landscape

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dick flicks

I have posted on Dicklit (March 22) before,
but once more I feel compelled to stick my neck out on the subject of gender in film.

Yesterday, against the passionate opposition of our film-connoisseur 16 year-old, we went to see San Andreas.

There weren't too many surprises. Our hero, the bulky, part Polynesian who looks pure Maori, Dwayne someone, you probably know more than I do, is fairly stock macho, if a little browner. I hate the name Dwayne. He should be Hene, or something like that.

And why isn't his daughter in the film part brown? To me he looks all Maori and his children should be at least part Maori or Polynesian-looking too.

Altogether, having reviewed Mad Max Fury Road on a gender front here:

I can now report that COMPARED WITH OTHER ACTION FILMS Fury Road is far far far into the progressive future of gender-blended film than they are. Unlike San Andreas, Fury Road doesn't exaggerate the natural heroism of men, that's the first big difference.

San Andreas can't help but exaggerate male heroism. It almost makes a point of it. Our Dwayne does little wrong and practically saves the world; the scientist guy, with the face for radio, is a hero for forecasting the earthquake, which saves loads of lives; the English guy, who goes back for the daughter and prizes her out of the car just before it collapses on top of her, is a hero, if in a slightly more modest, smaller and Englisher, guise.

There are strong-ish female characters: the wife and daughter. But both have to be rescued in the course of the film, at least once each and both by our all-round hero, Dwayne. They also both have to have big boobs, boobs that are obviously Made in Hollywood.

There are no fake boobs in Fury Road. If anything, our hero, Furiosa, has her boobs strapped down to de-sexualise her.

We need to get Hollywood boobs out of disaster-action films. They couldn't be tackier. Even Dwayne's tattoo is less tacky than the fake boobs. If he were Maori, he could claim it as a tribal marking. But it would still look silly poking out of his shirt.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tree face

CAN YOU SEE IT? Can you see my face in the tree? It's a bit like Where's Wally. I will reveal the face at the end of the post.

This picture here is the view out my front window. I love it. Most of the foreground I planted, with M's help, except for the two established trees: the bottle brush and banksia. Beyond that there is a 100+ year-old blue bungalow and attendant rusty oak tree. I love the old house and tree. I relish the view altogether. 

Due to the high rainfall lately the view is also ultra lush. I love this too. I am very lucky and today I know it. Hip-hip-hooray!

Fallen star

The leaf is a star...

to fall
to give shade
to take sun

to fade

to feed
to shelter
to fly
to fall.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fat photos

Okay, so this is not so much "fat photos" as photos of fat. Apologies for anyone mislead, though it was entirely intentional. I find fat in the fridge so much more interesting than fat in the flesh. This is the fat cooked and cooled in the refrigerator overnight from our Sunday night roast chicken dinner of two cage-free chickens. 

I'm not sure if it's a good sign or a bad sign, or a neutral sign, for there to be this much fat drain off. Divide the amount in two and consider it can't be ALL the fat from the two chickens, some must have been eaten with the roast and gravy. That's a whole lot of fat per chicken! 

Not hard to see where the idea for fat-based ice-creams came from.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Maxed out

I don't know about you but I'm a little maxed out by all the RAVE reviews of the latest Mad Max as a feminist frontier film, just between you and me and this spookily sandy skull.

This weekend I was finally dragged out (just kicking, not screaming) to watch the much vaunted Part IV of the Mad Max series and was struck by three things: the number of men in the theatre, the number of men on the screen, and the number of sculls everywhere, sculls that were probably male too, but it's hard to tell - one can only hope.

What is it with men and sculls? I don't get it.

Anyway. Being a little more serious, I will say that apart from the sculls, which always seem to me more spoofy than spooky, I quite enjoyed Fury Road. The scenery/cinematography was striking and the guitar guy kind of cool and kinky in a not-taking-itself-too-seriously sort of way. Perhaps the film is a spoof on the genre of wanky macho action films. I like the idea of that!

But that's not quite what the film is, I don't think. Fury Road is still in that macho genre of male speed, violence and a sculls! Mad Max himself, a typical bulky, grunty sort of hero, bites the head off a live double-headed lizard in the opening scene, for starters. These are heroes men want to see, not women. I prefer my men to stick to eating cooked and headless creatures. Call me old-fashioned.

Still, there is Theron's gutsy (if gorgeous) shaved-headed character, Furiosa, as well as the basic feministy plot centred around abused women making their escape from the male-run world of desperate cruelty and debauchery. The world as it will become if men are left in charge to run things according to their base instincts until there's nothing left but sculls in the sand, so suggests the film.

Obviously this plot borrows heavily from THE REAL WORLD. If you go to many parts of our planet still, and all parts of it once, this is pretty much how it is and was: women systematically used by men as sex/domestic slaves in countries constantly - and unsurprisingly - at war, with their armies and even parliaments of angry, unenlightened, superstitious and sexist men under the sway of psychotic ass-hole tyrants. Why do men follow ass-holes so readily? What are men so afraid of ? God's wrath? But they invented God. Why are men so easily fooled? Why are so many men so incredibly sexist? Why can't they respect and honour women as fellow human beings?

These are questions I want a truly feminist film to ask and try to answer. I'm not sure the 'action' genre can. For me, the problem with the so-called feminism of Fury Road is that we're still mostly watching men fighting and the fighting is mostly productive. Guns and fists - mostly men's fists - still save the day. When the escaping women run out of ammo, Max heads off into the night and returns with a necklace of bullets enough to wipe out the world, as well as the other guy's blood on his face. Classic tough-guy hero.

Meanwhile, Furiosa is mostly a Joan of Arc character working within this basic storyline as a token female warrior in a male dystopian fantasy world. Max is still a macho hero who saves Furiosa's life when all the other women around her can't. Perhaps she saves him too, as the reviews of the film claim, and perhaps this is the feminist message of the film: that men need women to save them, just as women need men. But DO women need men? I'm not sure. How can women ever trust men to save them when they have consistently shown their preference for saving themselves? Are there any male heroes in real life? You can be sure there are none that use their fists.

And female heroes? well that's an entirely different matter. The hundreds of millions of women worldwide who endure lives of constant domestic abuse and domination for the sake of their children, or risk their lives to try and escape their violent partners, again for the sake of their children, as extensive academic studies attest, suggest that the world is full of women heroes. Malala is a powerful present-day example, as was Benazir before her.

Fury Road gives us a sexy female hero who helps save the world, but leaves the ultimate macho fantasy of men as tough-guy heroes who save women and the world mostly unchallenged. The 'feminism' in the film is too thin to provoke any serious rethinking of the basic myth of heroic masculinity that I believe is responsible for the enduring idolisation of males as primary and females as secondary support/servants; the world's governing mythology that underpins its enduring cruel and violent patriarchy.

Feminism - female liberation, equal power and respect between the genders worldwide - is hard; Fury Road makes it look easy, or at least uncomplicated, provided you have plenty of bullets and a big enough truck - and a big strong man on your side.

Still, if the uber macho action films previewed before the main event this weekend are any indication of the alternative in that genre, Fury Road is a step, even a giant leap, in the right direction. If we can get powerful women and anti-macho themes into all action films, then we might just see this deeply conservative genre work to open the eyes of the millions of men who watch these films every year.

For alternative points of view see: