Sunday, 3 November 2013

Dan Savage and his "savage advice"

I happened to catch Dan Savage in Sydney give a talk as part of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Entitled "Savage Advice" he discussed the idea that infidelity is not the end of the world in the reality of long-term relationships and referred to his own "monogamish" relationship with his husband and how it can work for some people.

Savage informed us that 40-60% of men and 40-50% of women will cheat on their partners and as we invest so much time into relationships we should not walk away from them because of the occasional slip up. I could not disagree more. If you are going to commit to someone, you commit to someone. You don't commit to them part time. Firstly, creating a cute term like "monogamish" will not lessen the impact of what has occurred and I will not and can not accept "monogamish" into my life. Secondly, you either are monogamous or you're not. Just like you either are vegetarian, sexist or racist or not. No one is vegetarianish or sexistish or racistish.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Beast: A monster of an awful show.

DISCLAIMER: If you are planning on seeing The Beast, I do mention examples of the "humour" used so if you want to go in completely unawares, it's best to read this piece afterwards.

Just back from opening night of The Beast at Melbourne Theatre Company and never has a show left me feeling so angry and so frustrated at what has been passed off as satire and humour. I was so deeply pissed off by this show that I could not even bring myself to clap at the end and for the majority of the second act I sat there grim faced wondering just how low this could go, and at each scene I was more and more surprised by the answer.




Monday, 7 October 2013

Melbourne Fringe Festival Top 10 Shows

So another Melbourne Fringe festival comes to an end and so I present to you my TOP 10!
If I reviewed the show on an official basis, the link to the review is attached.

1. MKA: KIDS KILLING KIDS
Four young theatre makers take an adaptation of Battle Royale (an amazing Japanese movie) and create it for a Philippino audience. The response was something they never expected and here they tell us their story.

I really enjoyed this: it provoked some intelligent conversation about responsible theatre making and what in fact those responsibilities are. They are not arrogant to tell you the answers, but succeed in getting you talking about it.

This was very much a love it or hate it show as I know people who felt they were taking advantage of what had happened and trying to capitalise on it and had not really expressed any regret over what had happened. I personally, don't believe they need to.

Here is a clip I found on YouTube of "Battalia Royale"...



REVIEW


Sunday, 11 August 2013

My top 10 films at the Melbourne International Film Festival

So two and a half weeks of craziness come to an end, and after getting to watch a mere 37 films, I now present you my Top 10 movies from the Melbourne International Film Festival.

1. Stranger By The Lake

This French thriller takes place at a quiet lake where men spend the day swimming naked and cruising the neighbouring forest. When Franck witnesses a murder at the lake, it turns into a deadly infatuation with the killer and from there the tension builds to an intense final few scenes.
At times quite Hitchcockian, the story is engrossing and the character development of the three leads was done quite well. I really enjoyed the lack of music on this film and how the natural sounds were used to really amplify the suspense.
Despite it's graphic gay sex scenes, it would be a shame to consider this film as a "gay" movie, as it really is just a film where the characters happen to be gay.


2. Omar

Looking at the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Hany Abu-Assad's film is, at its core a love story. Omar and his friends retaliate against the Israel army which results in Omar getting arrested and forced to either betray his friends or stay locked up whilst trying to keep the girl he loves and risks his life for every day.
The filming of this was absolutely amazing and the way the environment and people were shot really drew my breath away. I liked how the clean the cuts were and the polished look of the film was in direct contrast to the actual violence and life situations that were being presented.





It took me a bit to warm to this quirky, whimsy film directed by Bob Byington but once I did, I absolutely fell in love with it. It's a romantic comedy but not quite romantic and not quite comedy. 
Over the span of 35 years, we see the life of Max Youngman and the people who come in and out of his life. There is a surreal atmosphere to this film and sometimes you have to forget logic and accept what you are seeing, but this is a movie after all so it shouldn't be hard to. 
The acting is spot on and includes Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation and Megan Mullally. 
There is a strong philosophical tone to this film but it is not shoved down your throat, so you can appreciate it on face value or you can delve a little deeper into the thoughts and experiences of the character and yourself.



A group of children are playing "I Capture the Flag" in a nearby forest, and despite this being just a game, it becomes a whole lot more to these kids, with loyalties tested, betrayals, mutiny and death. With their imaginations working on overload, paint-filled balloons become bombs, trees become control towers and sticks become guns and everything is at stake.
Firstly, these child actors do an amazing job - Michael Friend is the top of the list here and is very convincing as the despicable and power hungry Skinner. You do forget at times they are indeed playing a game and these are children and not men fighting in the war. The imaginary scenes between Jess and Quinn were quite tender and I really appreciated how directors, Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson didn't allow this film to go into Lord of the Flies territory.
A great film about childhood friendships.





Ok, so I will admit, I did shed a few tears in this one. This Belgian film looks at the relationship of tattoo artist, Elise, and banjo playing cowboy Didier. The story unfold in a non-linear structure, constantly going from the past to the present until the (for me) very unexpected conclusion. 
The two leads - Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh - have such strong chemistry together and you get a very good sense of their desperate clinging of the past whilst trying to move forward with their lives after they find out their young daughter has a terminal illness.
But don't worry, this is not some Jodi Piccoult-like story, it's a very real, emotional and moving but not melodramatic look at two people's lives together and love for each other. 




6. Stoker

I was very cautious of seeing this, especially as Nicole Kidman seems to be the kiss of death in films lately but I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it's because Kidman is more of a supporting actor here and it is really Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode's time to shine.
When India's (Wasikowska) father is killed in a car accident, his brother Charlie (Goode) comes to stay with them. The mystery surrounding Charlie slowly and intensely builds in this very clever script written by Prisonbreak's Wentworth Miller. There is a very strong Hitchcock influence in this film with luscious visuals and doubt and suspicion being cast everywhere.
Goode is perfect as the questionable villain and you can clearly see him relishing playing Charlie. I did find Wasikowska's India every so slightly annoying and reminding me of Wednesday Adams but I am willing to overlook this in an otherwise near perfect film.





In an unnamed war-savaged Middle Eastern country, a woman tends to her husband who has been comatose for the last 16 days. She begins to speak to him and fill him on the dissatisfaction she has felt in life and reveals secrets she would never dare tell him otherwise. Whilst tending to her husband she must also provide for her two daughters and protect themselves from the daily bombings and shootings they face. 
Golshifteh Farahani portrayal of the unnamed woman is heartbreaking but also uplifting. I was captivated by everything; her looks, her clothes, the way she waked and talked. A strong woman who does everything she can to survive whilst still abiding by the restrictions imposed on her for being a woman.
The country is unnamed, there are no names mentioned, thus reinforcing to us that this situation could be happening anywhere at anytime and bringing to the surface the struggles women face in many many countries such as this.
Atiq Rahimi's has directed a beautiful story where not much happens but at the same time so much happens.





My favourite documentary of the festival and one that was seen by pure chance, this is another look at women being seen as second class citizens but in a very different way.
Miss Nikki is responsible for creating the first ever female pop group in Myanmar: The Tiger Girls. 
This isn't some Popstar/Australian Idol documentary though, as the five members of the groups share with us their thoughts, ideas and dreams of what they want to do with the rest of their life.
There are the universal issues here with image, celebrity and marketability but at the heart of this story is the oppression these girls face on a daily basis but also the excitement of the future once Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.





Another film that looks at women and gender limitation and expectations - this time in the 1950s. A group of schoolgirls form a gang, Foxfire. Initially, they do small things such as spray-painting a teacher's car and painting their symbol on public property but things eventually escalate and ideals and dreams are questioned by all as they try to determine what is is they want.
Just as in "I Declare War", the young actors in this are impressive and do well in capturing the joys, frustration, fear and anger of being a young female in this era. The story develops along nicely and consistently but at 2.5 hours, it runs a little bit long and making it even 20 minutes shorter would have made such a bigger impact and statement to the audience.






Another film I watched by pure chance and wow...there was so much crazy in this and such a bizarre story I can't even explain it. The world is being taken over by aliens (or something) and there's a drug derived from soy sauce that let's you see dead people (or something) and something about parallel worlds and time travel and talking dogs (or something). It made perfect sense at the time though.
I really can't say much else about this film, except that it is highly enjoyable and despite all the vagueness of my review, I did find the story quite easy to follow just so long as you're willing to suspend all belief and just agree with what is happening.




I would also like to give some honourable mention to the following:




Thursday, 1 August 2013

Homosexuals, Olympics, Russia and Vodka...


The news about Russia and its legislation that now bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” with severe punishments for anyone who infringes on this draconian law, has been making headlines, and rightly so. With all the progress the world has made regarding gay rights for something like this to be passed in this day and age is so horrendously wrong that people should be talking about it. However, there have been two things that have really got to me regarding this legislation; firstly, the reaction of the International Olympic Committee and secondly, the boycotting of Russian vodka, Stolichnaya.

It's all fun and games in Russia
I have never been a fan of the Olympics. I have always seen them as being hypocritical in what they stand for with their claims about solidarity and uniting countries, yet it’s always about winning and who has the most medals. With the laws that Russia has just passed, it is now time for the IOC to take a stand and prove what the Olympics stand for. Instead they release a since proven erroneous statement that they have "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia" that these laws that violate human rights "will not affect those attending or taking part in the games". Because that makes it all right does it? Out of sight out of mind? It is reminiscent of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. The Nazi party might not have been in at its peak back then and communication to the masses would have been a lot more difficult so I can see somehow understand (but not accept) how they would have still permitted the games to be held there, but with all the facts we have at hand about what is happening in Russia, it is unfathomable that the IOC can sit back and implicitly say ‘we don’t give a shit about human rights, just as long as the games go ahead”. The last time the games were cancelled was in 1940 and I can understand the importance of the games (even if I don’t agree with them) but find me anyone who is a supporter of human rights who would not agree with cancelling the games if Russia does not wake up to itself? Yes it’s an extreme reaction but this is an extreme discriminatory law. Forget about gay marriage for a second and remember that this law permits someone to be jailed for even discussing homosexuality with minors.

stoli vodka russia boycott
The homepage of Stolichnaya
But if the IOC won’t do anything, at least the gay clubs will. Some of the biggest gay clubs in America, Canada, England and Australia - including The Laird in Melbourne and Gay Bar in Sydney, have begun boycotting Russian vodka - in particular Stolichnaya. Individuals have also chosen to no longer purchase the Russian brand as their drink of choice. Bravo! Bravo indeed! Let’s stop consuming a drink that obviously has Russian ties but whose headquarters are not even based in Russia (they’re in Luxembourg) and have no effect on the actual Government itself. Even the CEO of Stoli’s parent company SPI Group, Val Mendeleev, has issued an open letter to the LGBT community, in which he speaks of being a “fervent supporter and friend” of the gay community. Yes, it is raising awareness about the issue but it is not doing anything for the cause. It’s this “bedroom activism” that really infuriates me. If people really wanted to take a stand against this they would stop using/purchasing products that Russia exports. In 2007, Petroleum products comprised over half of Russian exports to the U.S. while iron, steel and railway equipment are the fastest growing imports into Russia from America. If we put a stop on such trade in response to Russia’s heinous legislation then this would actually have an effect on the country. Of course, this would require people to actually make some sort of sacrifice rather than getting on their morality horse by limiting their alcohol intake. Not drinking Stolichnaya vodka because of Russia’s gay laws is the same thing as “liking” a page on Facebook to end world hunger.

We – in Australia – are up in arms about the fact that we still don’t have legal marriage for all gay people. We think this is abhorrent and extremely discriminatory, but on the flipside, I am so relieved that we can openly hold hands, kiss and discuss homosexuality without fear of retribution. Yes we can’t get married (yet) but at least we don’t have the fear of going to jail or being murdered for being who we are. For this reason, it is imperative that the IOC and world leaders make a stand to Russia that this is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Tilda Swinton posing with the rainbow flag in Russia

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Am I a Bad Gay?

I often joke to my friends that one day, my license will be revoked; my license to be gay. I know a lot of people who will read this and disagree with me and that's fine, but from my experiences this is how I see the gay community as a whole, based on my experiences. I've been a practising homosexual for a decade and I still feel no closer to the gay community than those days when I would borrow my next door neighbour's Dolly magazines to read but secretly lust after the shirtless nameless models in their pages.

There are a number of reasons why I feel I am a bad gay; the main one being I hate gay clubs. The clubs I have been to are generally a cruising ground for sex. Not that straight clubs aren't but in the gay ones, sexual advances are extremely direct and confronting (and at times, close to sexual assault). Two examples that come to mind; I was in the toilets of one club when a guy walked up to me and asked 'can I suck your dick' while I was literally standing at the urinal. Another time, a customer I had served when I worked in retail recognised me out and as he walked past me, grabbed my penis and smiled at me. I didn't appreciate that but yet if I was to create a scene about these moments, I would be looked at as making a big deal over nothing. The themed nights that various clubs have such as 'foam parties' implicitly condone such behaviour.

Continuing on with the overly sexualisation in the gay community, the amount of times I have started talking to - and even dated - guys and then find out they are in open relationships is unbelievable. I was at the Peel about six months ago and this guy approached me. We chatted for a while and had a bit of a snog (yes I said snog, deal with it) and then I returned to my mates. As I was leaving, I went back to him, chatted a bit more, exchanged numbers and I headed home (that's the PG version anyway). We spent the weekend texting back and forth and organising to go out that following Thursday until he sent me a text on the Monday saying "hey, I really like you but I think you should know I already have a boyfriend but I still want to see you". Delete. I'm not judging anyone that is in an open relationship (even though I don't get it) but it's treated like such a casual, normal thing to mention to someone, to the point where I was told by a friend that I should have asked him if he had a boyfriend! I'm no prude and I like to think I've had my fair share of escapades (yes, at times I have used Grindr to fulfil these needs) but in a gay environment, I feel sexual inhibitions disappear and anything is deemed acceptable which does not sit well with me.

There is a strong sense of competition between gay men. Much more than what I witness and hear about amongst my straight male friends. There's this feeling of having to be better than and superior to each other. Walk down Chapel St and you can feel the eyes burning through you, looking you up and down, judging what you're wearing, how your hair looks and who good your body is. We're so hell bent on creating a gay community yet we create these divides that are anything but positive. Why would anyone want to be part of that?

I'm also not a participant of gay festivals or events; I've never been to MidSumma, Sydney Mardi Gras and I didn't even go to any Melbourne Queer Film Festival screenings. I feel no connection or openess to any of these. A new magazine "about men who date men" called Hello Mr. was released recently, which has intelligent and well thought out articles written by gay men from around the world. Whilst it was far superior to the semi-pornographic DNA-esque magazines that are around at the moment, I still was not won over. There were only three articles I genuinely enjoyed and was moved by but the rest of it felt preachy and at times, quite pretentious - further enhancing 'competition' within the gay community.

It is for these reason why I guess I don't have a lot of gay friends, which I am fine with, as choosing your friends based on sexual preference is just as ridiculous as choosing your friends based on sex. My friends are awesome and never have I ever been made to feel uncomfortable about who I am, directly or indirectly but I've also reached the stage now - having just turned thirty five months ago - where what I would really like is a relationship. Having turned my back on so many gay avenues, what else is left? Where do people who don't fit the gay community mould go? I keep thinking that I will meet the perfect guy when I am at a cool little cafe in Fitzroy or at a comedy gig I may be at and I don't need to go to the Greyhound or join a gay sports team to meet him.

So...am I a bad gay?

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Why I go to the Gym

There's an article doing the rounds at the moment by pianist James Rhodes called "Find what you love and let it kill you". You can find the article here. In it Rhodes discusses how his love for playing the piano has enveloped his life and how it is the greatest thing in his life, which is great, but then he makes the following statement:

"What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of "I love you" until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?"

I fell this is an unfair statement to make. Clearly Rhodes is not a fan of the gym and it sounds like he's never been inside a gym. I am only making this assumption because it is what I used to think of about the gym before I started going.

I began going to the gym as part of a 30 Day Challenge. Until that time I had NEVER set foot in a gym and the most active thing I had done of late was performing on stage with an improvised comedy group. However, I was "lucky" to be "blessed" with the ability to eat anything and not put on weight. So at 6'3" and weighing only 71kg, I never looked at fitness as my thing.


Initially, I felt a little inferior to the people going at my gym. This skinny tall guy who could barely bench press 20kg. But the more I persevered at it, the better I got. The gym actually became a place of positivity and well being for me. And it was one of the few places, at the moment where I am able to switch off everything else that is going on in my life and just focus on the present.

During my first few visits, I was self conscious but I noticed that no one even looks at you at the gym - or my gym anyway. Everyone is so focused on themselves to care about or judge you. Perfect example was when I was doing some bench presses and I had exerted myself so much that I couldn't push the bar back up on the hooks. I was stuck there with 30 kg resting on my chest. No one helped. Because no one was watching me. I eventually managed to lift if up and hide my sheer embarrassment.

Before I went to the gym, I had severe issues about my body - and to an extent, I still do and probably always will. But the progress I have made at the gym (I have already gained 2kg and now have a bicep!!!) has provided me with more confidence than I have had in my entire life. I am not going to the gym for anyone but myself.

I find the gym an inspirational place as I see men (and women) with great physiques that I aspire to have. My current goal is to gain 10kg of muscle. I go to the gym 6 days a week and have a weekly Personal Training session. My PT is supportive and listens to my needs and pushes me that extra bit. So I take offence to Rhodes' remark about how the gym makes you feel fat and guilty and implying that people only go for superficial reasons.

I have been going to the gym for ten weeks now and I am feeling great. If I become aesthetically more appealing to others in the process, then it's a win/win situation. Whilst I agree with Rhodes' sentiments I feel that his above statement is an insult to people who enjoy going to the gym, as if their passion is not as valid because it is not artistic like playing the piano or painting yet it requires just as much discipline and passion.

So find what you love and let it kill you - whatever it may be.



Sunday, 21 April 2013

Melbourne Comedy Festival Top 10 shows

So, after having seen a whopping 6% of what's on offer I give you my top ten shows of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival!
If I also reviewed the show on an official basis, the link to the review is attached.


1. SLUTMONSTER & FRIENDS

My mind was blown and then got super dirty after watching this show. It was relentless in its laughs and full of so much inappropriate humour which I absolutely adore. I could not fault this show and so glad I finally got to see it. Really hoping for a little Slutmonster cuddly toy to come out soon - look at the costume!
REVIEW


2. SUITCASES, BAGGAGE & OTHER SYNONYMS

I have a strong preference for theatre rather than stand up so naturally I really enjoyed this musical comedy about five housemates trying to decide where to go on holiday. Great score and a very snappy and sharp script which really packed in the laughs. And you know that any show that starts off with a bang is going to be good.

REVIEW


3. HOPE IS THE SADDEST

Another theatre number revolving around chance encounters and Dolly Parton. Extremely well written with some very thought out characters. There is not a single word that is wasted in this script. Great ways of using the small stage and a good combination of varying methods of telling the story are incorporated.

REVIEW


4. ANNE EDMONDS in "THE QUARTER CABBAGE"

Four strangers come to the same grocer to buy a quarter cabbage. They each give a 15 minute monologue to an insight into their lives. Edmonds portrays them with such honesty, realness and hilarity there were tears rolling down my face at various points. Would love to see some more of John Watts and Rebecca again.

REVIEW

5. SIMON ABRAHAMS & LACHLAN MaCLEOD in "SATURN RETURNS"

This cabaret show look at the fears and worries we have about turning 30. Having just turned 30, I could absolutely agree with all the issues these two talented singer/songwriters/performers covered. Some poignant moments scattered throughout and Abrahams and MaCleod would be one of the strongest comedy duo I have seen in a long time.
REVIEW

6. APARTMENTOCALYPSE!

It's the end of the world and three housemates are trying to figure out what happens next. Great mixture of the mundane within the backdrop of armageddon. It's clear they have been working on this for a while and it pays off with some very clever humour and dialogue. 

REVIEW



7. CIRCUS HORRIFICUS

Sideshow freak circus acts meet comedy here. Although there are a few moments that the "slapstick" does waver and it's not so much traditional laughter as more gasps and deep breaths with some of the acts these two performers do, it was still a highly enjoyable show that had you feeling sympathy pain in places you didn't know you could.

REVIEW




8. THOMAS GREEN in "SIGN OF THE TIMES"

Although officially not part of the festival, Green performed a few intimate stand up sets in Richmond and I was very impressed by him. Probably one of the newest stand up comedians I have seen in a while that I have enjoyed. Really charming and laid back with interesting insights and anecdotal stories. Definitely someone to look out for in next year's comedy festival.

REVIEW


9. CHOIR GIRL

Sarah Collins is great as Susan, a young woman obsessed with being in choirs and the means she goes through to get accepted. Collins has some great storytelling techniques and her ability to command a crowd of over 250 people is a skill that not many performers have. Some great musical moments too, with Britney Spears being quite memorable. Oh, and there is a real life 13 person choir in the show too.
REVIEW

10. IN THE PARLOUR with TILLY & FLORA

Set in 1851 in a small English town of Cottesloe, this is improvised comedy at its best. And also the only improvised theatre-show at the Festival.  Sisters, Tilly and Flora are a delight to watch on stage with their daily adventures whilst also trying to keep up appearances. My regret is not being able to see more of this show as each one was completely different.


Well there you have it. Hope you managed to catch some of these shows as sometimes the more popular shows are not always going to be the best. If you agree, disagree or just have an urge to comment on my choices then let me know!

Till next Comedy Festival!


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Is the Walking Dead sexist?

Recently, I have felt that The Walking Dead – the TV series – has been treating its female character as second rate characters. Not caring for them and not developing them as much as they are the men. I’ve also made a note of the number of female characters who seem to kill themselves. It’s quite difficult to not compare the same character to the comic but I will attempt to look at the TV series separately to the comics for the most part.

In the beginning of the seasons, I remember the four women, Andrea, Carol, Amy and Jacqui (who later killed herself) washing their clothes when Shane attacks Carols’ husband Ed for abusing her. The four women stood back screaming at Shane to stop, even Andrea. In later episodes, once he was dead, Carol felt guilty for wishing dead the man who beat on her and abused her daughter. Even now that her husband – and daughter – are dead, Carol is still shown as a weak person constantly being protected by the men of the camp, including T-Dog who sacrificed himself to save her and Darryl. Furthermore, Beth has been nothing but a babysitter for the most of season 3. We actually saw her kill two walkers in the finale behind the gates but least she got to do something. Oh, and let’s not forget her own attempt at suicide in Season 2. Luckily now she stays under the watchful eye of her father, Hershel.

Lori’s death although tragic, was again, another example of how the women of Walking Dead are just there because they are. Throughout season 1 and 2 all Lori did was flit between Rick and Shane – and almost get raped by the latter - and once the writers got bored with this storyline, they decided to give her something else to do and make her pregnant. So instead of having her moan about which man she wants she is now going to be all maternal and moan about the life of the baby (and who the father actually is). Then the writers decide she will kill herself – another female suicide – to save the life of her baby. The ultimate sacrifice a woman can make obviously. It was a heart wrenching moment but no one cared about Lori’s death - she was not a fan favourite - they cared about the reaction of her death by her Carl and Rick.

Even Michonne, who is strong is damaged woman. No one can relate to her because she is so cold. Unlike the men - Rick, Darryl and Glen - who viewers can connect with because they show emotion and care about things. The first glimmer of emotion we got from Michonne was in the season 3 finale when Andrea decides to kill herself. It will be interesting to see how the character develops in Season 4.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe of the women characters; the development of Andrea. In season 1 she was a strong woman – even dealing well with the death of her sister Amy. But then it’s almost like the writer’s decided that they couldn’t have a strong female character in such a show so they had her contemplate killing herself at the end of Season 1. Season 2 was pretty much Andrea being looked after by Dale until he dies and then she laments his death. There is even a scene where Lori has a go at Andrea for standing on the RV looking out for zombies and holding her gun rather than doing her household duties like cleaning and cooking. However there is hope in her character when she begins having shooting lessons by Shane and becomes a pretty good shot. However, all that disappeared come season 3. In Season 3, the writers killed her before she even died. Having spent 8 months surviving in the forests with Michonne, the writers come to the logical conclusion that she would choose to remain in Woodbury, besotted by the Governor. As if a woman can only feel two emotions in Walking Dead, fear and love.
The fact that she stays with him after Michonne leaves, after she finds all the heads in the fish tanks and after she finds out what the Governor is up to is so hard to swallow for anyone to do. Even Carol tells her she needs to kill him while he’s sleeping but instead she sleeps with him! It was these poor decisions that made Andrea a shell of what she used to be. And to top it all off, to have her bitten by a single zombie and then “heroically” taken her own life (how many suicides is that?) after being so capable of killing them was insulting to viewers.
The thing that really annoyed me about this is that in the comics she is an integral part of the group, a strong woman who is their best shooter. She has remained loyal but independent too and never wavered over to the Governor’s side. She is strong, she is smart and she is cunning, which are traits the writers of The Walking Dead (which is mainly male) refuse to give to their female character on the show.

I’m really hoping the writers begin to really show a few different sides to the women in Season 4. We have such complex characters in Rick, Carl, Glenn and Darryl yet they seem to stick to the stereotypical Stepford Wife-like characters for its women. We’ve seen women can kick ass in zombie movies and shows. If Carl can be given a gun when he is just a child, then why the hell not the women – and not just to clean it.



Thursday, 21 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 30 - And so it is

The last day!

Thought I would take it easy today and do a yoga session in the morning. I haven't been warming down properly the last few sessions and I am starting to feel it in my muscles and joints a bit. The stiffness and just being a bit sore for too long. It's just once I finish a workout, the last thing on my mind is warming down. I just wanna go home and relax. I guess I need to start seeing the warm down as PART of the workout and not something separate. I manage to do about 15 minutes of cardio before each workout though - 5 minutes treadmill, 5 minutes rowing and 4 minutes with the medicine ball. So doing the yoga was a great thing. Really stretched out all those muscles and tightness. Felt great afterwards.

So got through 30 Days of Fitness! Yay me! haha...certainly given me a different outlook on health and fitness but I will write up one final blog about my thoughts on the last 30 days tomorrow.



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 29 - The final countdown...

The penultimate day!!!! Wazoo....not that I'm gonna stop going but the "pressure" to go and having to update the blog was getting too much. Looking forward to a rest day!

So worked on my chest and biceps today. I was already having anxiety about that damn bench press. Was almost relieved when there were people constantly crowding around it but eventually it opened up for lil' me. Decides to just use the 2.5kg weights so I was only lifting 25kg. STILL struggled with that. Managed to get through the first two sets but the third I swallowed my pride and took them off and just did the 20kg bar. The fact that the Glee soundtrack came on to my shuffle whilst I was doing that did nothing more to emasculate me at all. No. Not at all.

Despite the spelling, this is probably how I feel
The funny thing is, during a break between reps this guy asked me if I was using the green weights. They're each 10kg. I laughed and shook my head. No reaction from him, either he genuinely thought I could lift that or he's not the sharpest crayon in the box.

The rest of the exercises were pretty standard. Forgot how to do the cable bicep curl so I did something that I think involved my biceps - but then again, I just found out where my triceps are the other day.

I feel like my endurance is there and I can continue doing the exercises, but it's just the weight that gets too much sometimes. And there are days when I can do the exercises quite easily and then there are days when the same exercise kills me. I don't know why.

One day to go tomorrow...what a physically and mentally draining challenge it has been! But a good one me thinks!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 28 - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Was a back and triceps today, and now that I know where a tricep is, I could feel it working its little ass off. It really surprises me how weak I actually am, I always assumed I was quite strong for a skinny person but guess I was wrong. And it's clear my left hand is more dominant than my right because there are certain exercises I can do on the left side without a problem yet on the right, i wobble and struggle a bit.

For a warm up, I had a 5 minute run on the treadmill, 5 minutes on the rowing machine and then a few minutes of wall slams with a 4kg medicine ball. I think I realised the importance of a warm up today, as I have been skipping them in the last week and noticed the difference with my movement right away.

I had some difficulty remembering a few of the exercises so I just improvised them today. Was on the TRX for a bit, did the rowing set Nathan and I had discussed; low, medium and high. Then I had a TRX Tricep press and I remembered something about thumbs touching so I just did that. Turns out I was close but was doing for of a chest press then this:


I found the dumbbell pulls and the tricep press up pretty good. The weight (12kg and 9kg) was just right for me. The assisted chin ups were a struggle. I don't know if it's because the order we did them in last time, but I struggled to get through the first set with 66kg. Second set was 72kg and third was 77kg. So I was a little disappointed with that one. Will start on 72kg next time and try and get through all three on that one.

What I should have been doing
Standing Row and Incline Pull were pretty good too. The tricep press I was really confused about and I ended up doing any sort of movement that I could feel the triceps moving. Maybe not the best idea but I thought anything would be better than just skipping it. A quick google search - when I got home - showed that I was close. Instead of pulling down keeping my arms in an L formation, I was pulling up to an L formation. I may have to take instructions with me next time.

My arms felt like jelly afterwards but I can feel my back getting stronger already. My posture has improved and when doing exercises I feel like I have good support from my back. I do enjoy the pain afterwards because it means my body is working on getting better and stronger.

30 Days of Fitness: Day 27 - Oh, so that's a tricep!

So I didn't go to the gym today. Apart from a time thing, I just didn't have the strength to get into a workout again. So once I got home from an evening out at 10pm, I did an hour of yoga and oh my god did my body love me for it. I can't believe how tense and tight my body was. Stretching out my arms and back was like bliss. And don't even get my started on Child Pose.

During the evening when I was out with a friend, she also commented that I looked healthier and more relaxed and stuff. I do feel more energised although this is counteracted with my lack of sleep of late, sometimes only getting 5 hours sleep. But I look forward to this challenge being over - in three days - so that I don't have to do something every day and then blog about it. It's really time consuming to blog every day, especially when I could be using that time to sleep! But I'm glad I did this challenge, it's given me an appreciation for what my body is capable of and how I should be treating it. Along with my new found vegetarianism I think 2013 will be my year of health!

Oh, and I also found out today where my triceps are. Go me!

So much clearer now!

30 Days of Fitness: Day 26 - On my own

Went back to the gym today to work on my chest and biceps. Not meeting Nathan again till next week to do legs and shoulders - which I am a little worried about as everyone I have spoken to has told me how much they hate leg workouts. I feel like my legs are pretty good though, I do well with all the squatting and rowing excercises I do.

So below is my chest and biceps workout:

Bench press 3x10 with 30kg
Cable Chest Flys 3x12 with 10kg
Torso Twists 3x (10x2) with 15kg
Cable Bicep Curls 3x20 with 10kg
Push-ups 3x10
Dumb-bell Chest Press 3x12 with 7.5kg
Bicep Pull-Ups 3x20

I was so so nervous about getting a spotter for the bench press that I was going to use the Smith Machine but then I was concerned about using it correctly that I did the old school one. I don't know why I am so embarrassed to ask someone to spot me. I'm not a shy person! Might be the idea that i am this skinny guy asking this muscly guy to spot me and judge me on the fact I am only lifting 30kg. It's RIDICULOUS!

But I did it on my own and got through the first set; felt pretty good about that. The second set I started to struggle and I went down on the 7th but could not bring it back up. Fortunately there was a lower hook for the bar to slip into so I dropped it in there. Took a 30 second break and attempted to do the third set but couldn't even lift it. It's like, if I have even one seconds doubt then that ruins me for the rest of the set. It's happened a few times . I moved on to the other stuff, in retrospect, I should have taken the 10kg off and completed it with the 20 but I just wanted to get away from the bench press. I don't think we are going to be friends.

The rest of it went quite well. I think remembering the actions was the hardest thing. Had to ask another PT how to do the cable bicep curls. Gotta work on my push-ups as my elbows keep coming out. My goals is to attempt 30 push ups every night the proper way. That should get me doing it right eventually.

This new program has me excited - except for the bench press - is there another way to work the same muscles through a different exercise?

Saturday, 16 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 25 - Back and Triceps Day

Second part of my three split workout working on my back and triceps. The routine Nathan organised for me is as follows:

BACK AND TRICEPS

  • TRX Row Series 3x10
  • TRX Triceps Press 3x10
  • Assisted Chin Ups 3x10 with 66kg
  • Standing Row 3x12 with 45kg
  • Triceps Press 3x15 with 15kg
  • SA Dumb-bell Pulls  3x(12x2) with 12kg
  • Triceps Press Up 3x15 with 9kg
I felt pretty good with all this. It was difficult but I was generally able to do the exercises with the initial weight Nathan placed. The most difficult thing was the triceps press. I realised after today that my triceps leave a lot to be desired! Hence the low weight on that. I like using the TRX though. Would be awesome to have one at home. But seeing as the gym is only a five minute walk, it pretty much is!

I felt good with the assisted chin ups - especially having never really done them. Great little machine where the more weight you add the easier it becomes to lift yourself up. I think we might have started at 80kg and I was finding it easy till about the 66kg mark.

The dumb-bells Pulls and Triceps Press I also quite 'enjoyed' in the sense that I felt I could achieve the weight and goals of these. By the end of the circuit I felt much better about this than I did about Chest and Biceps Day

I know these things don't come easily - was gonna say don't happen overnight but then it would lead to finding those Pantene Shampoo TV commercials on line.....*2 minutes later*... - As I was saying, it won't come easily but it doesn't stop me from being demanding of myself and probably trying to be perfect at it straight away. It's like, the sooner I can start doing the big boy weights the sooner my muscles will appear! And I know that logically, you just don't think that way and it won't happen overnight (sorry!) but the way my mind operates is strangely odd indeed!

If I wanted to be optimistic about it though, I'd say it's that I feel motivated and energised to achieve the goals, but I think it's the former. Or maybe, just maybe, it's a little bit of column A and a little bit of clump B?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 24 - Crash & Burn

So, confession time. I have failed the 30 day fitness challenge. Ouch. And it wasn’t from lack of trying just life getting in the way. I am very careful to not make my blog a personal diary but the last 24 hours and the next 24 hours are crazy for me. Last night, straight after work I went to North Melbourne to review a show. I did not get home until almost 11:00pm and I still had to write the review, update the blog and do an online work induction program. I did not get to sleep till almost 1:00am. I had planned to wake up at 6:00am for a yoga session but I slept through the alarm until it was too late and ha to get ready for work. Tonight after work I have a one hour break before I head to the first shift of my second job and won’t be home till possibly midnight. So working 50 hour weeks will be difficult on its own let alone fitting in some fitness into every day. Fortunately the challenge is almost over and even though I am committing to the whole fitness routine I have created, at least I won’t have the pressure of doing it every day.

A lot of people had told me that my body needs a rest and I was like ‘no no no, it’s a 30 day challenge for a reason’ – maybe 30 days is too much for a body to take without a break? Anyway, even though I am a little disappointed in myself, it’s not the end of the world and I will be back on the wagon tomorrow for my 5:45am PT session.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

30 Days of Fitness: Day 23 - A New Challenge

Had a PT session this morning. At 6:00am. Fortunately I had no problem getting up this time. Might have been because I knew someone was waiting for me. Maybe this is what the real purpose of a gym buddy is...

Anyway, had a chat with Nathan about wanting to gain 10kg and so we're doing a 3 day split cycle. Day 1; chest and biceps. Day 2; legs and shoulders and Day 3; back and triceps(?). So today we did chest and biceps and although I don't recall the names of all the things I did, I will attempt to describe them and post a copy of my routine when I do this next.

Started off with the bench press. Already felt the intimidation rise as I was suddenly in the weights 'corner' with all these muscly guys. First we did it with just the bar, which was a bit embarrassing but it weighed 20 kg. Did fine, so we upped it to 30kg. There I struggled. And there is where Nathan said is my starting point. Strangely, the thing I dread the most is having to ask someone to spot me when I am doing it. Do you just approach anyone? For some reason, I feel like this will be the hardest thing of the whole circuit. I think it's partly coz I am lifting such a piss-weak weight; will I be scoffed at or mocked? It's almost like being the new kid at school and trying to hang with the cool kids. Weird how this is what I think about though.

Moving on, we then did some biceps lifts and push ups - did a good set of ten. Had a pretty straight back - thank you yoga and plank position but my elbows come out too much when going down. Then we did some dumb bell bench presses went from 6 to 7.5 to 10kg. We're staying at 7.5-8 for the time being. Also had a go at some chin ups, did 2! Fuck yeah!!!

Overall, I am happy with the results I made today. I know I've got a lot to do but I am determined to make this become something good and it won't happen unless I struggle through it; but in a good way. I'm excited about this. Through the 23 days, I now have a goal and a reason to keep going to the gym after the challenge is over. I feel quite rejuvenated. And my high spirits continued when I got home and had a scrambled egg and fried mushroom toast concoction!