Archive for September, 2012

Conservatism and Orange Juice

I’m living on the edge.

No, really, I am.

I’m drinking orange juice.

Despite what all those gym instructors and nutritionists out there say, despite all the lectures they give you about how you may as well eat an actual orange instead because a glass of juice contains the sugar of 1000 oranges or whatever…I’m having a glass. It’s NOT the same as eating an orange! It’s refreshing, it’s tasty, and it lights up my life like a candle in the wind.

But this blog isn’t really about oranges. It’s about conservatism.

The other day, a friend called me “conservative”. But not in a laidback, “Yo lady, you’re conservative” way…but, “You’re CONSERVATIVE”, like, “You side with VOLDEMORT”. Like, “We SPIT on you!”. Like, “Thou art BANISHED”.


I haven’t felt this rejected since primary school, when the “cool” girls would laugh at me for not sneaking off with them into the big kids’ playground. Well, we weren’t allowed to! It was against school rules! And school rewarded you for not breaking the rules! You got stickers.

So, just as I felt socially isolated back then for following the rules…I find the same thing happening now. But…the conditions aren’t as simple. It’s not a matter of, “rule-breakers are in the cool group, squares are not”. It factors in religion, diet, politics, dress sense, music sense, the number of languages you speak, the city you live in, the money you earn, the type of job you have, your relationship status, your relationship experience, and the number of times you’ve had dinner with Barack Obama.

I can’t keep up. Now I’m eyeing that copy of Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety on my bookshelf  and thinking I should probably read it.

Being called conservative has definitely hit a sore spot. And here are the three things that bother me the most about it:

  1. I do not, and have never, sided with anyone called George Bush. In fact, I was pro-Dixie Chicks all the way in that documentary Shut Up and Sing.
  2. I don’t even know what it means to be conservative in this day and age.
  3. I thought it was hip to be conservative!

Let’s expand on that last point. Cardigans and 1960s’ housewife dresses are totes in. Tim Minchin irons (see below). Heck, even the Amish are getting their own reality TV shows. So why am I feeling so ostracized?

This is what my Apple dictionary says about being conservative:

conservative |kənˈsərvətiv; -vəˌtiv|adjective
holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

Hellooo, I don’t even follow politics or religion. As for being cautious about change or innovation, that’s not relevant at all. I totes love and welcome every new Apple release. As for holding traditional attitudes and values? Traditional to who? And what?

In this day and age, it would be considered MORE rebellious to run off and live with the Amish, than to sleep around and party and take ecstasy. How is an Amish community in 2012 different from a hippy commune in the 1970s? They’re both poo-pooing convention. They both have long hair. They just wear different clothes.

I realise that I may be missing the point. I have not checked my facts. In fact, I have not listed any facts. I am merely drawing on my emotions, which is usually the best way to present a balanced argument.

But I don’t care. I’m a rebel. And I will do as I damn please. And I will pour myself a SECOND glass of orange juice.

So take that, world.


Mushroom Real Estate

It is now Spring (huzzah!), which means the birds are out, the bees are singing and the flowers are buzzing. It also means that I have been able to flip over to a new picture on my lovely calendar. This month’s image? An illustration of a homely looking mushroom.

It’s got me thinking. Are mushrooms the most whimsical of vegetables? She looks up “mushroom” in the dictionary so as not to start one of those fruit vs vegetable vs funghi debates. My mistake, it’s not a vegetable. Rewind, rewind. Are mushrooms the most whimsical of items found in a supermarket’s fresh produce department? Not counting the ready-made salads?

I say this because in children’s literature, the mushroom often appears as a small shelter which fairies or other magical beings live under. It’s possibly not a smart choice of housing – everyone knows you’re not even meant to wash mushrooms before making a stir-fry – so I shudder to think what happens when it rains and you’re living underneath one. Soggy practicalities aside, the idea is cute.

But what’s so special about the humble mushroom? Other fresh foods don’t get this sort of aura placed on them. Except for green beans in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. And the memorable stonefruit that appears in “James and the Giant Peach”. Also not forgetting the slightly more obscure Mexican fairytale “Pedro and the Fortune-Telling Corn Kernel”.

It makes sense though, right? To make fruit and vegetables sound more edible to children? (Without tipping them off on the hallucinogenic properties of certain mushrooms). Because let’s face it, the humble mushroom is hideous. It’s brown, it has a creepy texture, and the dictionary description hardly does it justice:

mushroom |ˈmə sh ˌroōm; -ˌroŏm|noun
a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, often with gills on the underside of the cap.
So, it’s a fungal growth with gills. Risotto, anyone?
But my favourite use of the the mushroom is as a form of seating for toads. We’re led to believe that in amphibian bars, toads pull up their mushrooms (hence why they are called “toadstools”), order a drink or five and moan about how David Linhagen had affairs with their wives. In modern fairytales, this is where Prince Ryan Gosling shows up to the rescue and turns the toad into Steve Carrell.
It all sounds delightful until a toad spills his drink and his seat turns to mush…

A Shaggy Soiree

Last night, the kids* next door held a soiree.

Except it wasn’t a soiree. It was a party. A soiree would have been much quieter. The kids would have sat in the parlour and performed songs from opera and talked about the time they thought the world was flat.

Nope, this was an actual party. Girls, boys, happiness – that kind of thing. But what surprised me was the music they were playing: Shaggy. Yes seriously, Shaggy, that reggae singer/rapper from the late 90’s who “sung” as though he was trying to hold marbles in his mouth.

Who plays Shaggy anymore? Hasn’t Gotye now set it up that we no longer need to listen to music written before 2011? It’s old news, but I maintain that his “Somebody That I Used To Know” is so catchy and universally appealing that it’s the only song that need ever be played, ever again. You know those late morning TV ads that urge you to discard your Pilates balls, resistance bands and free weights and replace them with one single piece of exercise machinery? It’s the same situation. Throw out all your other CDs. Just pop Gotye on repeat and everyone you’ll ever bring over to your house will enjoy it for hours. You don’t need other music. You just need this one song. ONE SONG TO RULE THEM ALL.

(Gotye, bless him, would shudder in his socks if he knew I’d said that. He *does* have other music, you know).

But alas, I did not hear any Gotye last night. In between the Shaggy marathon, Justin Timberlake made a visit. Or three. At one point I heard his “Senorita” repeated in the space of four songs. Clearly those kids are striving to be music programmers on the Austereo Network.

As much as I love Justin Timberlake (that’s not sarcasm), these “kids” and their “happiness” were so loud, and late at night, that we had to ask them to turn it down. It became quite the heated confrontation! We said, “Could you please turn it down?”. They said, “Sorry! Would you like to join us?”. We said, “No thanks, but we love Justin Timberlake” *thumbs up*. They said, “Okay, well come over next time”. We said, “Kthanksbye”.

They turned it down one decibel.
And now it’s the morning after and I have Shaggy’s “Angel” in my head.
There is only one remedy: Gotye, where are you my precious…?
*They were probably only five years younger than me, but young enough not to remember a world without “Glee”.


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