Bluejuice, one of my favourite Australian bands (they’re very funky) released a new single this week called Act Yr Age. I watched it because I thought, “Hey, awesome… new song by cool band” and then continued watching it wondering what the fuck I’d just seen. My initial reaction was revulsion, because that’s what we’re trained to see in this clip, that’s what society tells us is revolting and wrong and icky, and that’s what I want to explore. (Clip and the rest under the jump)
I have this thing about pain, it’s not me. Which is odd given I have a very very high pain threshold (which almost saw me not go to hospital with an ectopic pregnancy – so my high pain threshold =/= smart). I tolerate pain well, but I’m still really cautious. Doing something that might result in injury (running, jumping, paying sports) are things I tend to avoid. I’m really scared of falling and breaking something of the sudden pain and the resulting scene that would occur.
Though when I do trip and fall (and I’m still yet to break something) the world doesn’t end, and if I burst into tears with the pain, the world doesn’t end, and on those rare events such things happen someone stops to help me or I am with people who stop and help me.
All the same, I still am really cautious and tend to avoid activities that carry the risk of severe pain (except cooking which I partake in quite a lot). I’m not sure why I’m quite so timid about such things. I think some of it has to do with ballet and the excessive care that I took not to injure myself so I could still dance (with the exception of skinning my knees when falling off my bike).
No, I don’t think that’s it. I climbed trees, climbed hills and cliffs and did child-ly things as a child. I wasn’t hugely daring, but probably more daring than I am now. So why have I slowed down more than others I know, though technically less than others… clearly it’s a growing up thing. I’m far more aware of my mortality than I used to be. I’ve almost died at least once now, so it’s not like I believe I never will.
I’m not upset or worried about my caution, it’s just something I’ve noticed recently and have been thinking about it.
I think I might write a series of articles over revisiting various things I loved during my childhood, and going back and finding if they have any appeal to me as an adult. I don’t know how frequent they’ll be, but I thought I’d start with a series of books by an author I adored (one of many) when I was growing up in Alice Springs.
Given my mother’s love of Science Fiction, and the religious viewing of Doctor Who, it isn’t all that surprising that as soon as I discovered that I loved to read (which would have been when I was around 10 years old or so) that I found the science fiction books at the public library.
Today’s post is on the Last Legionary Quartet by Douglas Hill (now out of print, but available second hand on Amazon and in second hand bookshops (where I got mine)), a typical space faring adventure but with some really interesting tweaks. First up, the first book of the series, Galactic Warlord was published in 1980, a time I certainly associate with bad science in science fiction, however Douglas Hill has gone out of his way to ensure that the science in the books is as accurate as it can be. Space is three dimensional and a vacuum (so no noise in space), and performing sudden manoeuvres in space will result in g-forces being applied to the craft and pilot. Some future technology is incredibly similar to 1980s technology with tapes and keyboards in use, but there is a large array of energy weapons, faster than light travel and different worlds, so that certainly makes up for it.
The next best thing about the series is that it is not sexist. Yes the main character is male, but it is clearly stated from the beginning that he is from a world where the entire adult population could be turned into an army, where everyone is trained to be a warrior from early childhood, and that his squad’s gender make-up was secondary to its capability. So the main character could have been a woman. Women are not written as sex objects, nurturers, princesses needing rescue or victims of circumstance, they are strong, capable, leaders, agitators, aggressive, good, evil, wise, and just like men. At one point the hero hesitates in attacking a woman, not because she is a woman but because he thought she was on his side and his friend.
Another positive in the series is that there are humans who settled on other planets in the galaxy (it turns out that humans are the only sentient life form in this galaxy), and who have developed beneficial mutations to survive on those planets. Those planets are collectively known as the “altered worlds” and the emotive word “mutant” is rarely used throughout the book. The inhabitents of those planets are referred to coming from the “altered worlds”, but no value judgement is made about any difference that has developed in that group of humans. Additionally, any individual who comes from those planets (and this holds true for all individuals in the book regardless of where they have come from) is taken to not be a representative of their race/planet/home world system/type. So if someone is evil in the book, that person is evil, not all people like them.
That last positive that I’d to note out of this series is that the hero can’t always win the day on his own. He has a non-human companion – an alien from another galaxy, who is female and non-humanoid – who comes to his rescue, shields him when required (she’s a telepath), and who is completely capable on her own.
This series really lives up to my memories of it – in fact I’d forgotten how awesome they were. I’m enjoying it immensely and only have two books to go before I’m done. They’re quite short – so all four books is normal novel size. I was sad to find out recently that Douglas Hill had died just after submitting the final manuscript for the last book in another of his series (one I haven’t read in its entirety), but given how good The Last Legionary Quartet is turning out, I’m going to go and hunt down all the books of his I can, and enjoy them all.
“Where’re you from?”
It’s a question I’ve been asked at least thousand times by at least a thousand different people. It’s such an Australian question (to me), the curiosity of knowing where someone (and since they’re asking me – usually a fellow white Australian) is from, an opportunity to hear a story, an opportunity to hear something new or some gossip about another area you might have ties to. It is a very old style question after all. It harks back to the days when people travelled less, and to meet someone new was an unusual thing, therefore asking where they were from, and for them to fill you in on news from other areas was a novelty and useful.
- How to be rude to those that deserve it
- How to be angry
- How to complain effectively
- How to negotiate
- How to bargain/barter
- How not to be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, ablest (I learnt these far later)
- That sex wasn’t something to be ashamed of
- That I should love my body and that I can be healthy at every size
- How to think critically
- How to manage personal politics
- How to budget effectively
- How to spot abusive behaviour in relationships and how to get out of them
- How to say no
- How to be loud
- How to stand up for myself
I don’t remember the year it was when I decided I no longer liked pink. I do remember that it was a definite decision, and that pink was not a colour I should like. Pink was passé, all the girls liked it, and I did not want to be like anyone else.
I lay back on the trampoline, under the leafy green trees (so it was probably sometime in Spring when being outside in Alice Springs wasn’t a bad move), and pondered what my new favourite colour would be. I looked at the various greens around me, the greens of the trees, the green of the grass and thought that green was too commonplace to be my favourite colour. I thought about the browns of the bark on the trees, the tan colour of the sawdust used as mulch and the decaying leaves under the trampoline and again decided that browns were too commonplace to be my favourite colour. Then I looked up, through the trees and saw the sky. It was a perfect sky blue, and a colour that was not represented anywhere else, so I decided that was different enough to be my favourite colour, and it became so.
So for a long time sky blue was my favourite colour – which is nice because it is actually a range of blues, from the almost white blue near the sun through to the deep midnight blue of the sky at the end of twilight. And now it’s a blend of purple and blue, oddly enough a colour I was lucky enough to find in one pair of underpants (which I purchased instantly).
Pretty much the colour just here. The colour shift started with my decision to make my birth stone (amethyst) my favourite gem stone (at the time it was really difficult to find amethyst jewellery – how things have changed), and I’ve always stayed on the blue side of purple, because pink is not cool.
Looking back it seems a little odd to me that I deliberately went out and chose to be different (though in Alice Springs difference was tolerated unlike Bendigo to which we later moved), though on the other hand, I should thank my parents for bringing me up to rebel, question, be independent and with sufficient confidence to be different (most of the time – the confidence not the being different which was pretty much all the time).
Did you choose your favourite colour or did it just happen? Does your favourite colour have a story behind it?
Although not a post about everything I’ve learnt (because that would take a very long time to catalogue, and you’d all be bored before I was done), this is a post about cooking mostly.
I was a very precocious child (I have finally looked up what that actually means and yes it does fit me). My mother had a stroke when I was 3, and that’s when I started acting like an adult – well as much as a 3 year old can. By the age of 5 I had 3 younger sisters and I looked out and after them – though I didn’t actually have to clean up after them or cook food for them. My early memories of my mother after her stroke were of a woman who slept a lot of the time, which is understandable really.
I cannot remember exactly how old I was, but it probably was about 8 or 9, I decided I was going to make some biscuits for everyone. Apart from helping mum chop up ingredients (with blunt knives) for Christmas puddings, I had never actually cooked anything all by myself. I thought that making biscuits would be nice for everyone when they came home from where ever they all were. I remember my parents were not in the house, and I’m not sure about my sisters.
So, the chocolate biscuits, you see the recipe said that the biscuits were chocolate, but I had no idea what cocoa was, so I used chocolate Quik instead (I can’t remember them tasting evil, so the Quik must have been ok). I knew I was not allowed to light the oven, or play with it, so I went next door and asked my neighbour if she could come and light the oven for me. She stayed to supervise the rest of the proceedings.
From thereon, I learnt how to cook, mostly teaching myself by following recipes and clearly not daunted by things that looked complicated as long as the recipe was complete and had clear instructions. I also learnt that there were some ingredients where measurements were guides and others that had to be exact. I learnt to cook in Imperial and Metric and translate such wonders as “quick”, “hot”, “moderate” and “slow” ovens into actual temperatures.
It is in relation to the exactness, or not, of ingredients that I found the creativity of cooking. I surprised my father one day when making some spiced biscuits as I measured the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger directly over the mixing bowl, levelling off the teaspoons into the bowl. He asked if I realised I was putting in more than the recipe called for, to which I replied, “yes, trust me, they’ll be good”. And they were.
For a very long time, cooking was my main creative outlet. I’d experiment with tastes and textures (and sounds… have you ever thought about how important sounds are when eating?) and recipes from different parts of the world. I still do these things, but now cooking is not my only creative outlet.
For me, cooking was easy. I grew up in a house where cooking was normal and both my parents did (though mum was always a better cook than dad). I was not discouraged from experimentation and from the age of 15 was expected to cook dinner regularly for the family (as did my sisters once they reached that age also). My cooking was actively enjoyed by family and friends and I had relatively few disasters in the kitchen (and the ones I did have I learnt from and never ever did again – honest).
Another part of not being scared to try new things and new dishes (I’ve now fallen in love with Moroccan cuisine), is that as a child I was told I could do anything, be anything, achieve whatever I wanted and that nothing would hold me back. This translated, in part, to me being ambitious in the kitchen and trying out new (and potentially difficult) things. Growing up believing that shaped me as a person but also has its drawback. I’ll blog more about the ambitious child in another post – including the benefits and drawbacks of that.