Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category


“In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.” – Madonna.

This quote really resonates for me and is the core theme in a piece of writing I just submitted. But the whole speech from Madonna is worth hearing here.

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Seth and I get a little bit competitive about our carvings… bearing in mind we don’t have scalpels this year. I am the artist behind the raven/crow.


Graveyard dip. Takes a bow.



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Each blog has its own life cycle too. Those that came into being to chronicle a particular life arc –moving to a new place, divorce, illness – reached a natural end point as circumstances changed. Speaking to my former blogging friends about why they stopped, a number of crunch points emerge: children get older and their privacy becomes more important. Break-ups are often too raw to chronicle online. Family and neighbours discovering her blog had a radically stifling effect on what one friend felt able to write. Another, a schoolteacher, says, “I hated finding out colleagues were reading it and I hated the self-censorship it imposed. Many people simply reach the point where they aren’t comfortable with the level of exposure blogging brings – some miss it, some don’t.

I know these crunch points intimately. I have spent an excruciating afternoon cringing as the not-remotely-amused HR manager in my office read extracts of my blog back to me (pro tip: don’t describe your workplace as “the corridor of ennui”). My husband finds the blogging impulse baffling and unhealthy and we’ve clashed over it, often. Our teenage sons have no desire to serve as entertainment for my readers, so their lives are now off-limits. Neighbours sometimes comment on things they have read on my blog, which is a discomfiting experience even though rationally I know it’s inevitable when I put my personal life out in a public space. I have certainly felt queasily over-exposed at times. When I started writing, I was unhappy at work and at home, living abroad, missing family and friends. Blogging was a lifeline; a reminder that I could be funny and interesting.

From Emma Beddington of Belgian Waffling at The Pool with “Personal blogging has declined in popularity but it will never be obsolete”.

Oh yes, oh yes. The list I could write you of readers I’ve discovered over time that leave me exquisitely uncomfortable. Oh my lord.

Incidentally, I am reading Beddington’s memoir at the moment and it has sparked my interest in blogs again, so I am also re-visiting mimi smartypants. Her posts about her daughter and husband are my favourite and predictably, I recently read that she is beginning to shy away from writing about her daughter now because of her child’s privacy… just when it is getting complicated and interesting and relevant. But, of course, I understand given I have made the same decision.

I also hugely miss Yet Another Blooming Blog. Does anyone know if she still writes?

And while we are talking blogs…. lovely round of good feminist blogging here at No Award or the Down under Feminist Carnival 102..and thank you for including some of mine.




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These are your heroes, your American Snipers and Captain Americas in all their syphilitic charm. This is your oblivious entertainment and the parade of your own lack of imagination. This is the girl on the back of your motorcycle, your cardboard sexy. This is the bullshit you worship.

How far gone you must be. How lost in your own fantasy and privilege. How determined you must be to maintain your bubble. How unaware of your place on this planet, in this climate, of your voice and power (lived not assumed. imposed) must you be to have voted for your own lack of conscience?

We who are not immune to your nasal vocal fry, who hear your raised voice and bombshell laughter, who recognize the twang of your guitar and that robotic twist of hip are very clear on what we’re seeing. The profane mascot on your cap and shirt, rather than remove and burn, you have chosen to present to the world as a mask. You have elected a caricatured mascot. A totem to your ignorance.

Here is the proof of the internal battles you have not fought, the lines of credit you have not questioned and never intended to pay back. The thin man you saw in the forest. The clown that kept popping up in the shadows. The chair that rocks that no one is sitting in. This is your haunted house built over our graveyard. The car that won’t start. The murderous ski mask. This is your cop drama, your cowboy fantasy, your bed sheet cape and plastic boots. Your fears, fantasies and entertainment all wrapped into one high-strung effigy whose burning fire you will not be able to contain.

You have proven your enemies right.

Saul Williams. (Credit for the image to Xoaquín Torres and  Reuben Weinzveg)



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On evil

JF: I find it interesting you say wild behavior or irrational behavior, but you don’t say things like evil. Do you believe in evil?

HG: Yes, but I think think people have recourse to the word evil much too quickly when they’re talking about terrible behavior. I’ve given this a lot of thought, because when I wrote that book This House of Grief about the man who killed his three children, I was surprised to find how many people would ask me what I was working on. I would say I’m writing about Robert Farquharson, and they would look shocked and disapproving and say, Why? Why are you writing about him? I’d say, Well, there are obvious reasons why you’d want to write about a murderer, and people would get angry with me. They’d say, What sort of bloke was he? How does he strike you? I would start to describe his life and his formation as a person, and at a certain point the person’s face would harden and say, You’re making excuses, with this accusing gesture. I got used to that. It happened to me very often; it was a very frequent thing.

I realized that people protect themselves against thinking about stories like that by saying,This man is evil, therefore I don’t want to think about him, and nothing that he’s done is connected in me in any way. There is no darkness in me that could possibly connect with the darkness in him. People would say to me, Was he mentally ill, or was he just pure evil? There were these simple concepts you could slot into place to make it possible to contemplate such a person. And so I got less and less interested in the term evil as a way of talking about human behavior. Because it’s really a way of blotting it out. Stopping yourself from having to think about it.

From “Helen Garner on Court, Burning Diaries and Violence of Love”, in an interview with John Freeman in LitHub.

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A while ago an American writer friend, Jeremy Adam Smith and I were talking about the shaming of sexting and how misrepresented the practice was in the media. He told me I should write an article about my mothers’ group sexting.. and eventually I did. (It was this article). He also decided to finally tackle the topic himself and wrote two articles on it, one, with his partner.

So, Jeremy’s articles…”Can sexting increase relationship satisfaction?” in Greater Good and “Teens need sext education” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Of course there are buckets of mindless, consequence-free violence available to our children, in the form of video games where the only real goal is to do as much shooting, punching or murdering as possible. If slaughter is not for you, you might like to build walls in Minecraft, or collect benign, animated creatures in Pokemon Go. But what about play that provides a sophisticated metaphor for the real world, in all its complicated harshness?

I watch my son, and now also my daughter, playing D&D with their dad. My daughter, AKA Sarah Grindbone, nearly loses her life. My son, AKA Sword Slasher, has to decide whether to risk his own life to save her. It’s agonising, because this isn’t like video games, where you instantly “respawn” if you die, without weight or consequence. In D&D, if you die, you die.

It’s a game that’s set in a dark, scary place. It’s not peaceful or cute, but it is creative. It takes teamwork, imagination, and concentration. It’s a place of nuance. And yes, there are devils lurking. A lot like real life.

A lovely, layered article by my friend, Monica Dux in The Age, “Stranger Things lures a new generation into a nuanced world of Dungeons and Dragons”.

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