Hollywood, where didja put them wimmins?

Laddles and Jellyspoons, I was recently discussing with some pop-culture geeks the disturbing trends of women in the movies. Now I realized it wasn’t just me when I uncovered about 30 articles on the subject therefore outlining the trend in articles about the trend in movies of frail women. Before I get thoroughly meta, I have a simple question- Do men EVER identify with female characters, and do women ever identify with male characters?

Does anyone even remotely identify with... em... the individual above?

I remember when I was a kid playing “Aliens” on the playground at school, and despite the traditional gender roles, ALL the boys wanted to play Ripley. It’s not uncommon for kids to want to be the main character, but it is uncommon for boys to want to be a female character. Traditionally speaking kids born in the 90s have had few serious female role models, the spice girls and girl power revolved around looking pretty, and the 2000s have got Beyoncé thrusting around in hot-pants and a bikini top proclaiming that Girls “run the world”, difficult to imagine Hillary Clinton dressed like Lady Gaga at a UN Council meeting. I guess I saw the last Hurrah of the 80s before the mid-90s robbed me of logical, normal, women, who could do more than look pretty and shriek.

"Who run the world? The Music execs who make us whore ourselves for a paycheck, leaving dignity by the wayside" Still grammatically incorrect, less catchy but with more truth.

Yes, there weren’t that many women to look up to and the 80s were highly geared towards blowing stuff up (which to be honest was great before Michael Bay over did it). BUT, despite my intense hatred for Holly Gennaro, she took no crap, she was John MacLane’s wife but she had a career and a mean right hook. Sure she was supporting cast, but she didn’t sit there and do nothing, she stood up to Gruber, organized the hostages,got taken hostage, didn’t die, and whacked the annoying reporter in the face. She had a speaking role which wasn’t based on how short her skirt was!!!!

(actual Dialogue)
Gruber: Oh? What idiot put you in charge?
Holly:You did. You murdered by Boss. Now they're looking to me. Personally I'd pass on the job. I don't enjoy being this close to you.
SAY WHAT?? Isn't she a hostage???

Speaking of mean right hook, Sarah Friggin’ Connor, ok so the first film was her being chaperoned by Hicks (he’s always Hicks, you can call him Kyle but really he’s Hicks) away from the Terminator, but she becomes a crazy Kick-ass monster mama given time and some training.

What's the difference between a pitbull and a soccer mom; the submachine gun

Even Indiana Jones has a decent side-kick with style and strength in Marion Drink-you-under-the-table Ravenwood, who is then replaced by a blonde who can’t do anything but squeak and then by a cob-webbed Sean Connery, which I firmly believe was an upward move after Temple of Doom.

I'm tempted to sing Dropkick Murphy's " We drink and drink and drink and drink until we fight" every time I see this scene....

Women being able to hold their own with their male counterparts was okay in the 80s, Princess Leia managed to do it with poise, and film geek that I am I can tell you that per shot fired she has the most hit of anyone in the Rebel Alliance. Higher than Luke who has the force, higher than Han who before being a rebel was basically a gangster…. Do you hear me??? The poised and graceful princess is better at killing than the bootlegger arms dealer and the professional soldier!!!!! How’s that for equality!!!!

The kill ratio for this group photo is over 9000

Annie Hall was the quirky foil to the ever awkward inducing Woody Allen, she was funny and opinionated, she smoked pot, she was neurotic and she didn’t save a galaxy but she was integral to the plot!! Somehow though we have somewhat lost our way, with a few notable exceptions the 90s failed to keep women up there.

She may have dressed as a man, but she was all woman, you know in that elbow-y pallid way, like JD from scrubs.

The following are my exceptions if there are any other decent female characters who don’t cry/scream/wait to be rescued/don’t annoy the ever-holy-tamale out of me I don’t know of them: 91, Clarice Starling as done by Jody Foster, 92, Catwoman as acted by Michelle Pfeiffer, 92, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and 96, Madge from Fargo. After that come the dark times.

A dark shadow has spread across the land, its name is 'stupidity'

I freely admit these tend to be action/blockbuster movies, and that strong female characters have kept the ground one in indy films. But let’s be honest, how many kids out there have seen Steel Magnolias? Or Sophie’s Choice? Or Paradise Road? My guess is none, small independent and art-house films do not appeal to kids and teens as big budget action movies.

Big budget action movies have the tendency to lean towards token-ism, one black guy and one chick, or y’know simplify it to one black chick, that’s inclusive right? So we get Token this and that but most of the cast are white males. Which makes no sense, firstly the Latino population f the US is growing steadily and by 2050 estimates predict that there will be more Latinos than Whites. As a European I personally don’t understand the difference between Latino and white…. Aren’t they both white, isn’t this just picking ethnicities within ethnicities? Anyway that’s not the point here. Secondly, half of the global population are women, but rarely is 50% of the cast female, and if they deign to have more than one woman, the trend is one blonde one brunette, maybe a Latina, no Chinese, no Indian, no Caribbean, no Black, no Arabic… because obviously all women are white and a size 2, and have double Ds, right? Although If it’s an all female cast tokens are okay…

Wow... yup feel like I'm being decently represented by the criminally insane size 2s and their samurai swords, and look at me saying I didn't identify with women...

Is it mysterious that girls act like spoiled children who demand to be saved? It’s what they see in blockbusters; sure you also get the girls who act like all of Michelle Rodriguez’s characters, basically with less femininity than Jean-Claude Van Damme. Hell is there really no middle ground??? The recent Hunger Games would show that there is. Everdeen is gentle and sweet to those she cares about, and mean to those she doesn’t. Although she really makes few decisions, and nothing she does sticks it to “the man” she is bringing people round to the idea that men can identify with women, and that women can carry a film. So enough of the so-called heroines who sit back and wait to get rescued will painting their nails, enough of the women in the story solely because you can’t hand out trophies for covertly shooting a bajillion terrorists. ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!

You know what, I take back what I said about Holly Gennaro, I do like her. She was a lady who was tough when she needed to be and soft when she needed to be. Hollywood, can we have more like her?


Business Engagements and My Impersonation of an Adult

Boys and Girls this week will be an adventure in corporate whore-mongering. Sadly I’m pretty terrible at this.

Well do ah punk?

I’m currently, or rather procrastinating-ly, supposed to be writing a presentation for a scoping exercise for Wednesday morning. Problem is, I’m not 100% on what exactly it is we’re scoping. Nor how the hell I’m going to write about this stuff, or present it. Tomorrow I’m attending the first day of an international trade exhibition (to which My bosses and I are going to for free- because we’re important I guess), the exhibition is three days long but we’re just going for two days, tomorrow to ‘scope’ it, and Wednesday to meet with the organizers and tell them how they can facilitate our job so that we can facilitate theirs.  Sadly I don’t know how that is going to work. Which is a pity as I know neither of my bosses will do diddly about that, so it’s left to me. Somehow I need to prepare handouts and information packs that are vague enough for me to not misdirect them but pertinent enough for them to think I know what I’m doing.

Misdirection: eating tons of bamboo to hide your craving for human flesh

Added to this is the fact that Tuesday evening I have a cocktail evening with a firm of lawyers (of whom I know only one person), they won’t know who I am so I’m going to have to do the jumping into the pool full of sharks thing and hope they don’t like how I taste while also promoting my company. I’m extra nervous about this one due mainly to the fact that it is my Mom’s old law firm; she will be interrogating me like a KGB agent in front of a capitalist pig-dog. I’m imagining bright lights, sleep-deprivation, starvation and possibly some mild electrocution until I divulge all I know to her.

"Mommy PLEASE!!!! I'll tell you!!!!"

Wednesday evening there is a cocktail part for the Exhibition so I have to attend that too. I’m a great believer in ‘fake it until you make it’ which will be my technique for everything this week. Somehow though I still feel a little nauseous about having to introduce myself, and the company, 80 or so times to a group of complete strangers: with no back-up whatsoever.

Rhinojets, I think they adequately count as mechanized reinforcements, don'tcha think?

As eloquent as I am when I am using smack-talk, I become a monosyllabic sloth with a stutter when I need to focus on conveying information to people I have never been introduced to (or worse; that I have had to introduce myself to, ye gads!)

Added to all this stress of presentations, scoping, and cocktail evenings is the fact that I have to write up everything for the office, who I meet what we talk about, whether they are useful for the company, the kicker being that after speaking to someone for exactly 25 seconds I forget their name. My jacket ends up full of business cards of faceless people of whom I have little or no recollection of. Credit to me though, my write-ups always look flawless, I’m a natural storyteller and I find it easy to make stories up about people of whom I have little information. Also Google and Linked-in really help with the whole ‘ WTF did that guy look like?’

" the guy looked like he would be at home in a box and his business card just said 'Iroquois Plisskin' "

The point of this rambling, meandering, point-evasive post, I can totally do this, but sending me some pro-tips wouldn’t hurt… Thanks!

Apartment Purgatory

Once again I took a long break from writing. Although this time I have a valid excuse. Sita has temporarily moved in until she can move into her new apartment in town. So we have been busy basically cooking metric-f*cktons of food and then watching terrible TV.

Now Sita actually looked at quite a few places before choosing the one she will get. I can’t say I saw many of the others, but the one I did see was so shitty I couldn’t register properly the concept of renting property at such a high price for such a shit piece of real-estate.

Okay, so not quite this bad, but not great.

First off, this place was in an ok location to the business district, a brisk walk. However it was in the seedy, sticky, icky looking part of town. I’m sure it has its charms and when you get to know the neighbours it’ll be fine, but at first glance all you can see is shifty glances and people whispering loudly in unfamiliar dialects obviously about you. There are some lively fruit markets with loud banter and large women heartily laughing but most of the shop fronts are boarded up. Some of the shop fronts are covered with graffiti. The only one that isn’t the strip club, painted black with tinted windows, I assume large bouncers would emerge if a spray can came within a foot of the building. I’ve lived above a strip club, but the area I lived in was friendly, even the bouncers waved ‘hi’ to me. Not that I think that this is drive-by  country, just that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone threw garbage out their window and it landed on me.

"I resent that!"

Anyway like I said, I’m sure once you get used to the area its fine. So we get to the front door. Which is only around 30 years young and hanging onto its hinges through willpower. The locks on the door number about 4 or 5, obviously when one lock gets busted they leave it there. The older locks are rusted over and you can barely see the word ‘Yale’ on them. Anyway we are ushered into a dark, unlit, tiled sarcophagus which the realtor explains is a hall. Two people cannot stand side by side, if someone were to pass us we would all have t press up against the mailboxes and breathe in, if a larger resident needed to use the hall we would all need to back the hell up and get out of the house.

The realtor explains that the apartment is on the third or fourth floor, but I’m not really giving him my full attention, my feet are sticking to the floor and for me that’s a bad sign.

We amble precariously up a narrow flight of concrete stairs, the stairs are not lit at all, the only reason we manage to get up them is the light coming off the grimy landing windows. Once on the first landing I note that the stairs are painted a deep red, verging on magenta. My inner Edgar Allen Poe starts maintaining that it is due to the ability of this colour to hide blood stains; I mentally punch the macabre little jack-wang and replace him with a gentle humming of a tuneless song.

We eventually get to the third of fourth floor. The realtor smiles broadly explaining how he’s sure the landing lights will be fixed soon, how everyone is expected to clean the common areas such as stairs and landings. My first thought is that maybe he should tell the ground floor; the stickiness seems to indicate they missed that memo.

He opens the door. The apartment is sparsely furnished, but we were aware of that, the door opens on a small hall maybe 7 feet by 4, not exactly palatial, one wall has a couch leaning against it, the opposite wall has a fridge. The kitchen is behind us and consists of a small alcove with a sink, hotplates and oven, as well as a window that opens onto a wall; at least there is some ventilation. The kitchen floor and the hall floors are grimy, fake wood paneled floors. The bathroom is next to the kitchen and is a narrow low ceilinged room. It’s claustrophobic in there and I don’t bother going in. Through the paper thin walls I can hear kids playing loudly, I can’t tell if one is screaming from joy or from pain, but I hear their voices clearly, like cut crystal. Sita hates kids, I think about how she’ll probably murder one if she has to listen to that noise through the wall day in and day out. I don’t mind kids and I’d probably be driven to superglue their mouths shut if it was permanent.

Semi-accurate portrayal, although there was less trash and less light...

The realtor ushers us to the bedroom, the only place with actual light. There’s a bed and some shelves. The window is decently sized and gives the whole apartment light. Despite this window’s best efforts, it can’t redeem the rest of this buildings squalor. The room is a decent size, it doesn’t feel like it belongs to the apartment. Sita starts asking technical questions. I roll my eyes around my head lugubriously, mini-Edgar Alan is back running increasingly grim scenarios “You’ll have to visit her here, this place is rife with disease, I bet it has rising damp and descending black mould…”

The windows were about that size... well maybe slightly larger, my trauma is making me remember badly...

I start to soundlessly whistle a tune: Sita asks the realtor why the lights don’t work. I suddenly realize that all the light emanates from the bedroom. The realtor explains that the lights had a fault when they were installed and that she can just buy a lamp. My eyes are no longer rolling, they are attempting cart wheels.

Sita smiles pleasantly and asks about the fridge, she is assured that it is brand new and that the old fridge can’t be removed. He tells her she can keep the couch. I start trying to remember if you can get tetanus from couches, I concluded that it is unlikely but that this apartment appears to be a black hole for norms. Sita asks if they will clean the floor before she moves in. The realtor looks surprised, he tells her she can clean it herself, or get a maid in. Sita asks about the deposit and payment. He gives her the price; I choke on nothing in particular when he tells us the price. It’s double what it should be. Sita calmly asks whether it includes gas, electricity and water. I think “it better had”. It doesn’t.

The realtor explains that the deposit is two months’ rent cash-in-hand. He escorts us out of the building. As we stand on the doorstep e tells us that Sita isn’t exactly what he’s looking for. He would prefer a student (the University Campus is the other side of the city and there are no direct buses or subways to the campus from here). Sita asks why, I wonder why she bothers, this place is skeevy at best, and a fire risk and crack den combo at worst. The realtor explains that the area is very metropolitan and multicultural and she doesn’t seem to really fit the bill. I try not to crack a rip, instead I smirk with pure superiority, Sita is the epitome of multicultural, a trilingual Italian-South African, brought up in France. Hell she makes me look positively normal.

Sita inclines her head and enquires further, “How do you mean exactly?”. She’s laid a lovely trap for him; he puts on foot in his mouth, removes it momentarily and puts the other one in. His half-assed explanations about cultural diversity, city-living, can-do attitude, and student expectations make him sound like a racist, back-water, snake-oil peddler. He comes off as a mega-douche.

As we leave I tell Sita I need a stiff drink after that chronic display of sh*t-shinning.

What is up with: Happiness and Money????

I was reading this morning about how GNP has finally been de-bunked as corollary to fulfillment/happiness. The article in part on CNN and in full on CRF seems to state the goddamned obvious. There is no quantitative link between your usefulness to the states use of you (GNP in this case) and your level of contentment. Realistically, did anyone ever think that? We are raised from our youth to repeat the mantra ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and we’re then surprised when it turns out that we are spot on. All respect to Stiglitz and his Bro-conomists, “Duh!”

"Brah those lame-oh economists wanted to throw a toga party, I was all like "SON, you be trippin'!' Then I was like 'HELL NAW!' but then I was like 'sweet, dude!'"

I vaguely recall reading ‘ Anarchy, State and Utopia” by Nozick, although much of the information contained in my sieve like brain has sadly fallen through the holes in my cerebrum, one clear point of his remains. Taxation makes me a slave to the state. Now without going to an extreme let’s quickly point out a couple of things: taxes are necessary to keep roads in good condition, to keep public services running, and to generally ensure that those who cannot fend for themselves (the ill, infirm, unemployed, young, and crumblies) are not executed summarily on street corners. However, it does mean that if I my monthly paycheck is $5 before taxes (thank god it’s slightly more after taxes), and I want something that costs $10, and the government charges me $2 taxes on each paycheck, I will need at least three paychecks to achieve that. Now without the states intervention I would only need two paychecks, so the state is forcing me to work for it an extra month to achieve my goal. For 30 days the state enslaves me. Now yes the idea is somewhat flawed. Nozick’s idea doesn’t mention that the state is providing me with security (or at least supposed to), it pays the Emergency services, city maintenance, and other costs that all encourage my life to be slightly better than it would be living in a swamp surrounded by gators… BUT I still feel like the state is coercing me to give up my money. Even though I know money doesn’t equal happiness, I feel I should be given the opportunity to be the exception to that rule.

The honorable Mr. McDuck cannot be the only one so joyous about monetary accouterments in his life, can he?????

I digress; my point is, in truth, that saying money does not equal happiness is tautological. We know that money, utility to our nation, and productivity do not make us happier, but they are necessary to get money and to be a normal member of society. Being a part of society, whether it is just your family, friends or the wider society, makes us feel like we belong. AND MONEY!!! Money is not happiness, but it is a happiness facilitator. Money means you can go see your folks more often, it means you can visit your best buddy who has gone off to an obscure province in central India to become a swami or ended up in L.A. as a waiter/actor. It enables our desires. And I am all for enabling of happiness. So money as the root of all evil, yes I can see that. Like with everything taken to an extreme, it ends up impacting everyone in negative ways. I love tea, but if I drank  20 gallons of it a day I am relatively sure there would be consequences, nasty, jittery, diuretic consequences.

You'll bloat up like the Blob here.... only it won't be a cool super power, you'll just be a tender lump of tea infused flesh....

My point, I suppose, if I am being brief: Money obviously doesn’t mean happiness, but it does help us acquire happiness.

Like a ladder helps me acquire tallness.

Or how a finger-longer would make my finger longer.

Nords, Germs and Moi

I recently became heavily addicted to SATW web comics. Mainly because it is an adorable representation of Northern European foreign relations, and because they make funnies.

Finland and I have a lot in common, we only beat you with birch branches because Russia taught us how to sauna...

So this morning after finishing a piece of work that was due yesterday (oops on that). I sat down and tried to draw a derpy Finnish lion… I failed; it turned into a retarded, lascivious hyena. Oh well this is what happens when I draw nothing for 2 years. Aside from this the last week or so has been going along nicely, at the weekend I went to a Barbeque where there was so much Germanic heritage I started to feel like perhaps I was invited for my Judaic heritage to make the other guests feel ‘inclusive’.

Everi-bohdi vaz kank-fuh fihtink, zose kets vere fast az lihtnink, it vaz a liddl bit frihtnink...

That idea was tossed out when someone asked me if I went to their church, I blanked and stared at them with my mouth open. Finally I mumbled that I doubt she had seen me in her church, this caused her to ask which church I went to. I think I mumbled under my breath until she lost interest. How do you politely tell a hardcore religious person that they have never seen you at their church because you haven’t set foot in a church willingly since you were ten!?
If you’re me you just look awkward until they take pity on you and change subjects.

Anyway along came a gargantuan amount of food, and then the huge amount of beer, and then the schnapps until I could barely walk, at which point the hosts mom decided to tell me how I should have a ton of babies…. As soon as possible.

Seriously, every conversation I had that day, became awkward within about 2 minutes. I don’t even know how. Oh wait yeah I do, everyone there knew exactly how I should be leading my life, and apparently I’m leading it totally wrong.

" To be honest if you haven't had enough children to pull a sled by the time you're 7 you're.. oh wait you aren't a husky!"

Now you may say “they care about you” and “they want the best for you”, these people met me that day. They didn’t know me from Adam, and I’m pretty sure they would have told him a thing or two as well. What really got my goat was how each one lectured me and told me how to live my life and every time it was directions on how to be like them. I understand narcissism, I understand self-help, I do not understand how you can know everything in your own life and then insist that someone else is exactly the same and should mimic you down to how you chew potato salad.

Chew it like this!!!!!

I also got very pissed off when one happy housewife, who had been happily lecturing me about how I should drop my whole life and have kids got insulted by me saying if I did that it would be a waste of an education. I get it, she is happy being 100lbs overweight, with no intellectual stimulation, a useless high-school diploma, and 3 ungrateful brats, but I haven’t given up on myself yet.

Although this is part of my life plan

I can still do stuff. I cannot handle a dog right now, who is she to tell me I should become a single parent to some poor bastard kid???

Conclusion: Germans good food, good beer, BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD advice.

I no longer trust this woman's opinion on the Eurozone...

Ego-boost, then she-go boost, then weallgo-boost!

Some days give you a boost, some days grind you into dust.

Why is the copy machine broken again? Why is there so much yelling? Why must all the deadlines be at the same time??

Today was the boost sort of day. Yes work was work and coffee is only so good at keeping me afloat in my sea of paperwork. It was lunch that pushed the day into the happy-grin-like-a-loon day.  I had lunch with K2. We talked a lot of shop, but K2 also dropped some gigantic compliments.

Basically we decided earlier in the week to have lunch away from our desks as the weather is fine and we’re sick of staring out our dam desks all day. So we went to a little bijou restaurant down the boulevard. We were eating happily when she suddenly blurted out “You’re doing so much better than any of us hoped, I mean you’re replacing two people and you manage to do all their work more promptly and more happily than either of them. The DG was telling me how nice it is to have someone who lives up to their CV”.

"Hi-ho, Kermit the frog here lying on your CV is tantamount to telling Fozzy his jokes are good!" (You just read it in his voice, muahaha)

Now much as I like praise I assumed this would be followed by ” But we’re firing you anyway”. Luckily enough she just continued to tell me how nice it is to have someone who is an all-rounder, and easy-to-talk to co-worker.

Now I like my job, I know I whinge but the fact is I am one of life’s natural complainers, it is my default, factory setting, I can’t help that. However, the fact that the  job I enjoy is enjoying me, really encouraging…

I’ll just float away on my cloud of beer and happiness now.

I said BEER and happiness not BEAR!!

Dedicated to Sita and Gigantor

Yet again I must make amends for my absence, I wish I had a recondite reason, but alas alack, I just had to get shiz done at work.

So Last Thursday I had a mega-conference, more peeps’n we’ve had at any previous conference since I have been working here (6 months on Friday!) and it all went off without a hitch, which is great because I was freaking out, of course externally I was gliding through problems like a hot knife through butter, but on the inside I was having endless heart palpitations and minor cardiac infarctions. It went well and now I am writing the tedious minutes of the keynote speakers, as well as helping a colleague write minutes for some high fallutin’ Special Investigation he and some other Heads of companies are undertaking. The minutes for him are hilarious as he has realized in reviewing my minutes. Basically he is working on some highly technical engineering contraptions. From that sentence I feel my PolSci background breaks through, basically my own conference minutes are a gleaming beacon of politics and trade. My colleagues look like a phonetic copy of what is being said. Case in point: ‘Machinery directive protocols for civil engineering int he time frame of…’ would become ‘mash in eerie dur hecktic proto calls 4 civil engine earring’.

Also I was in every one of these positions as my earphones are too short to reach the computer so the transcript was a testimony to my flexibility (literally, not figuratively)

Anyhow to the BIG NEWS:

Finally, I get to break some good news to you (my 2 loyal readers featured in the title, both of whom will feature in this post)! So Sita is moving to town, which means I will finally have a friend in this grey, god-forsaken, gargantuan pit of decadence, disdain and debauchery.

Only there’s a hitch, or at least there is until there won’t be. See I’m going away over the weekend to see my other loyal reader, and some buddies, and my Dad. I leave Friday (running out of work early, although my boss doesn’t know that yet), and taking Monday off, which my boss has probably forgotten about by now as I last mentioned it about a month ago. In any case I will be armed with my phone and any serious emergencies can be dealt with by me, from 840miles or so away.

Sita is moving to Brussels and is going to crash at my place while we find her an apartment, only…. She arrives while I’m away.

"Where the hell is my ride, and why am I in a laundr-o-mat?"

Now this is kind of a non-issue. It means I need to clean up slightly more than I thought I would have to, and impress the concept upon my brother that under no circumstances can towel day happen while Sita is around (there are some things that should not be inflicted on people).

BUT I wish to talk about the confluence of events here. For months (nearly 6 of them) I have bitched about the lack of society and camaraderie that I have so missed, and within the space of one weekend I will see pretty much everyone I know in fast succession.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side- pretty much my rule to live by

Now I’m not one for esotericism, and hokey religions but even I am suspicious about this convergence of people on one point in March. Screw Lin-sanity, March madness is here, and it will come in the form of my favorite people 😀