{ Under The Bluegums }

A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

June 29, 2012

Elephant Interaction

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@ChristieFynn's recent photo of an elephant made me realise I haven't yet talked about the elephant interaction I experienced at the end of last year.

After reading Lawrence Anthony's The Elephant Whisperer, I felt I had to meet an elephant. Even though the idea of animals being trained for entertainment purposes is unsavoury to me, it is sadly the only way for many of us to be with these wonderful creatures and share in their awe-inspiring auras.

Elephants are known as one of Africa's most intriguing creatures. They are rumoured to have a high regard for their dead; their heads are matriarchal; and just from reading Anthony's book, you can see that they have an intuition that is unparallelled.

Being with an elephant was such a calming experience. It feels like being with one of the oldest souls of the world.

I was sad about seeing the elephants under the guard of men with elephant prods. I know what they're used for, but I will say that the animals looked healthy.

What makes me more sad is the fact that one day, zoos, elephant interactions and the like might be the only way to experience these animals at all.

Anyway, here are some photos from the day. :)

My mom and dad. Classic.
Shaun and I with Themba.

June 28, 2012

Video of the Week

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I might not be an uber gamer, but I do enjoy a game now and then, and Diablo III is on my list right now. I can start playing on Friday night at 6 and continue right through till 2 in the morning.

Although this video doesn't really apply to me (because I'm a girl), I still thought it was really funny! :)

Tell me what you think of it? (Even if it is quite sexist...)

June 27, 2012

Misguided Fans

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I ask this question myself so many times.

We laud those celebrities who are rich and famous no matter what they've done. Look at R. Kelly: didn't he pee on underage prostitutes? Didn't he make Aaliyah, who was still underage, pregnant, and marry her to cover up the scandal? What about Chris Brown, who beat Rihanna to a near-pulp, but is still respected as a musician and even fawned over by young women the world over? The King of Pop was rumoured to have been a paedophile. What about Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and countless other Hollywood socialites who care not what they're caught doing?

These people should be shunned for their crimes, not held up on pedestals of adoration. What do you think?

{Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons/Nicholas Ballasy}

June 25, 2012

Models Breaking the Mould? Hah!

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This article in the Guardian talks about five models who are supposedly 'breaking the mould' of what is acceptable in the modelling industry.

We have the older model, the overweight model, the black model, the 'feminist' model, and the androgynous model. But it seems one of the most important things in the article is not so much the models, but the food they eat. The article starts out asking if models eat biscuits, and we discover that indeed, they do, if they're Daphne Selfe, the older model. Oh, she also eats cake. What type of cake we're not told. Possibly a carrot cake? One made without sugar and cream cheese icing?

To make matters worse, every model is asked what they ate during the day. The meals are sometimes scant and depressing, and even when they seem to be large, like Daphne's "chicken or salmon with rice and lots of vegetables", I can't help but picture eensy-weensy servings. Controversial model Andrej Pejic even admits, "To maintain a 25-inch waist, you can't go round eating cakes and chocolate". Spot any contradictions at all?

And the buxom model says: "It was impossible not to look at magazines and look at my body and think, 'if only I was skinnier' or, 'if only my legs weren't so muscular", she says. So there is hope for the normal women, after all? Oh, wait, Sophie Dahl was also supposed to revolutionise the modelling industry. And we all know what happened to her...

And what did she have to eat the entire day? A detox juice and a coffee, a beet salad and pumpkin and tofu crepe for lunch, and a cornmeal patty for dinner.

I don't know about you, but the modelling industry seems to be so full of contradictions. No wonder women are so confused nowadays. These women have valuable insight, such as Tara Lynn's
"It's such a normal part of human socialisation to measure ourselves against our peers, thinking, 'Do I fit into that?' But it's valuable to have diversity. We have to celebrate our bodies. There is no reason to hate what you live in - the only choice is to take care of it."
but I feel that the article is so full of hurtful statements that completely drown out the positives:

- Andrej's statement about a 25-inch waist;
- Daphne's statements: "I think it's fine for a woman of my age to have long hair, but I think we should wear it up"; "What upsets me is the way older people don't bother any more. I never go out without make-up."
- Charlotte Free on not shaving his underarms: "I only shave them once in a blue moon for a really big job. I like to keep my body hair. It's a symbol of how I'm not going to conform to something that's so ridiculous" - those really big jobs are the ones that would matter in the greater scheme of things, surely?
- Jourdan Dunn: "Being away from my son kills me, but I do get to go to amazing places" - that's really much better, then.

Maybe I'm just being over-analytical because it's late and I'm kind of sleepy, but what do you think?

{Image Attribution: By CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK (Flickr: Andrej Pejić) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

June 23, 2012


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"When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you" ~ Lao Tzu

{Image Attribution: See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons}

June 22, 2012

Explaining White Male Privilege to the Average Straight White Male

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June 22, 2012 

I love this. From the annals of Whatever, this is how you would explain the idea of male privilege to the average straight white male of the world. It makes use of an RPG metaphor, and I love it. :)

Please do read it!! Here's an excerpt:
"So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break."
via Feminist Philosophers

{Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ignacio javier igjav}

June 20, 2012

Music Review || Fiona Apple's New Album

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Fiona Apple is my favourite, favourite musician. I could not count the number of times I’ve listened to her albums on all my family’s digits. Her music has grown with me from high school to adulthood, and I’ve found a melody and a lyric for every mood and every situation.

Thus, I can’t explain the excitement I felt when I heard that the release date for her new album The Idler Wheel… was only in six months’ time. Yeah, that was a bit of a way back in time, and I’ve been waiting eagerly since then. I hadn’t even listened to the music they released ahead of it because I wanted to leave my experience of the album pure. (Yes, I am a little off-the-wall)

I was filled with trepidation on Monday morning: will the new album even be available in South Africa? Luckily I acquired a copy, and have been listening to it almost non-stop since Tuesday morning.

My first thoughts: different, but still Fiona. Is this art or music, or is it intended to be both? Why do I feel like she’s pushed me away? I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. What was the point of her vocal flourishes, and the sometimes-crazy instrumental interruptions?

After my first listen, I perused several reviews of her album. I could not agree with the New York Daily News’ view that you could respect the album but “never once listen to [it] again” because I was already dying to listen to it again, despite feeling a little overwhelmed and confused. And I’ve come to realise that this is certainly not the type of album you can only listen to once: it is saturated with little nuances of meaning and little catches of melody that you won’t hear the first time around.

Listening to the album is trying to discover the meaning of a poem; you have to hear the album, not simply listen to it, to understand what Fiona’s trying to say. Truly hearing the album is the secret to understanding those aforementioned vocal flourishes, which really fit into the entirety of the album beautifully, and it has a focus that Fiona herself has appeared to lack in recent years. But appearances are deceiving.

The more you hear her, the closer you get to her, so the idea that she’s trying to push her fans away has no support. You won’t find another album as introspective and self-obsessed as this one, and she’s as introspective and self-obsessed as all of us. Her intimate self-expression must be one of the reasons many of her fans, myself included, truly love her music.

I understand that many have been left disappointed – this isn’t the frank and direct album that was Tidal, nor is it the angry When the Pawn… - Fiona’s evolution has continued along the artistic road Extraordinary Machine took her, and not along the path to mainstream popularity many were perhaps hoping she would take.

Fiona’s newest album is full of energy, and fraught with emotions and tension. It filled me up so much that after my third listen I was overwhelmed, and when I tried to escape to another sound, I was left disappointed with the empty and dull electronic rhythms. They were too fake.

Perhaps I really am just a Fiona Superfan, but I’ve given it yet another listen. J

June 19, 2012

A Poem by Adrienne Rich

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June 19, 2012 

This poem by Adrienne Rich touched me when I read it. It made me think of someone I might lose.

For the Dead

I dreamed I called you on the telephone
to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight

by Adrienne Rich
via Feminist Philosophers

{Image Attribution: By K. Kendall [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

June 10, 2012

Knit a Uterus for a Congressman in Need

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June 10, 2012 

Knitting a uterus for a congressman in need, thankfully, doesn't really apply to South African women, as we don't have statesman interested in curbing our rights to contraception and choosing what to do to our bodies.

But in America, Government Free VJJ is hoping to stop these clampdowns on women's rights by knitting or crocheting a uterus for every statesman who is making rules about women's bodies without actually knowing anything about women's bodies at all.

It's quite a cool concept, and I think I might knit a uterus anyway, as a show of solidarity to women in America, and, because, you know, it would look awesome on my couch amongst my scatter cushions and cats. Join me by using one of these patterns.

Wait a minute... that made me sound eerily like The Crazy Cat Lady...

{Image credit: Wikimedia Commons\JMarchn}
Story via Jezebel