Paleolithic diet (caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet): A modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era – a period about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. (Source)
Paleo is a term I’ve heard thrown around more regularly of late, and yet I didn’t fully comprehend what the diet involved or why people chose to follow it. When the Low Carb Downunder What Should We Eat event popped into my newsfeed, offering an all-day seminar with a host of speakers discussing everything from the evils of sugar to the growing Paleo movement, I decided it was an answer to an unasked prayer and I booked my ticket.
To be entirely honest the biggest drawcard of the day for me was David Gillespie, the leading Australian writer and speaker on quitting sugar, more specifically, quitting fructose. His book Sweet Poison sits atop the must-read list for anyone considering ridding their lives of sugar, something I did back in April of this year.
The event boasted American Jimmy Moore as its main guest, someone I had not heard of before but who everyone seemed to be extremely excited over. Jimmy’s diet is one of the more extreme I have heard of in my time, first starting on the Atkins diet before transitioning to Paleo and then to his latest experiment, Nutritional Ketosis, which sees his daily diet consist of mostly fat, some protein and only a miniscule amount of carbohydrates. As a hopeless vegetable romantic I couldn’t fathom eating the way Jimmy does and yet for him it seems to work. That’s the main message I took away from this event, each body is different and so each diet will be different. At the end of the day you must learn to listen to your body and do what is right for you.
Considering this was the first event of its kind from the organisers the day ran fairly smoothly with the exception of a few speakers who were out of their league or lacked vital public speaking skills. David Gillespie, Jimmy Moore, Ivy Thompson and Nat Kringoudis were the top speakers on the day, mostly because their passion and knowledge shone through in their delivery and you felt as though you could sit there and listen to them talk for longer than the fifteen or so minutes they were given, with Jimmy being the exception and having a second stint up on stage.
Coming away from the event I can say decidedly that I am not tempted to “turn” Paleo but there are several things I heard which I plan to research further or adopt into my diet. One of the things I’ve noticed since quitting sugar is that this simple step prompts the removal of a lot of food from the supermarket trolley through default and so I’d rather like to keep my occasional consumption of legumes and beans, which the Paleo diet tends to skip. The diet allows for fish, grass-fed meat, vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts, excluding grains, legumes, dairy (although some Paleos still consume some forms of dairy), refined sugars and processed oils. I’m really looking forward to reading Gillespie’s new book next year, which promises to blow the lid off the dangers of processed oils.
What the event didn’t cover too well was the food side, which is in my opinion quite important. It’s great to be educated on why this or that isn’t metabolised well by the body or how we’ve all been duped into believing saturated fat is bad for us, when it is in fact the opposite, but at the end of the day if you can’t sell your message through the food itself you’ll have a hard time getting people onboard. When a speaker stands up and the first thing they say is how much they don’t like public speaking you know you’re in for a rough ten minutes. Mick Reade was charged with the duty of running through a few low carb recipes – finally, I thought, I can see what a Paleo plate looks like! What came up instead was a tutorial on how to make cauliflower rice and how to crumb fish without breadcrumbs, complete with amateur photographs which did little to stimulate the palate. I know I shouldn’t complain when Mick was giving his time and advice for free but it would have been great to see food given a larger portion of the day’s attention, to see the theory put into practice.
One speaker on the day said something that has stuck with me since then; he said that if you were here today (at the event) it meant that you took your health seriously or you took the health of your loved ones seriously, and it was great to see so many people invested in their health and expanding their knowledge about their health. As someone who is still on an uphill battle to apologise to my body for years of neglect I can see so many people around me trapped in the same web I was in for so long. Taking time out of your day to read an article, taking time out of your weekend to attend a seminar, even taking time during your weekly food shopping to read the ingredients list, these are all forms of taking responsibility for your body, relearning to love and respect your body, and realise that, like many things in life, good things take time. 
Have a look at the Low Carb Down Under Facebook page for more details and links to videos from their events. 

Paleolithic diet (caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet): A modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era – a period about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. (Source)

Paleo is a term I’ve heard thrown around more regularly of late, and yet I didn’t fully comprehend what the diet involved or why people chose to follow it. When the Low Carb Downunder What Should We Eat event popped into my newsfeed, offering an all-day seminar with a host of speakers discussing everything from the evils of sugar to the growing Paleo movement, I decided it was an answer to an unasked prayer and I booked my ticket.

To be entirely honest the biggest drawcard of the day for me was David Gillespie, the leading Australian writer and speaker on quitting sugar, more specifically, quitting fructose. His book Sweet Poison sits atop the must-read list for anyone considering ridding their lives of sugar, something I did back in April of this year.

The event boasted American Jimmy Moore as its main guest, someone I had not heard of before but who everyone seemed to be extremely excited over. Jimmy’s diet is one of the more extreme I have heard of in my time, first starting on the Atkins diet before transitioning to Paleo and then to his latest experiment, Nutritional Ketosis, which sees his daily diet consist of mostly fat, some protein and only a miniscule amount of carbohydrates. As a hopeless vegetable romantic I couldn’t fathom eating the way Jimmy does and yet for him it seems to work. That’s the main message I took away from this event, each body is different and so each diet will be different. At the end of the day you must learn to listen to your body and do what is right for you.

Considering this was the first event of its kind from the organisers the day ran fairly smoothly with the exception of a few speakers who were out of their league or lacked vital public speaking skills. David Gillespie, Jimmy Moore, Ivy Thompson and Nat Kringoudis were the top speakers on the day, mostly because their passion and knowledge shone through in their delivery and you felt as though you could sit there and listen to them talk for longer than the fifteen or so minutes they were given, with Jimmy being the exception and having a second stint up on stage.

Coming away from the event I can say decidedly that I am not tempted to “turn” Paleo but there are several things I heard which I plan to research further or adopt into my diet. One of the things I’ve noticed since quitting sugar is that this simple step prompts the removal of a lot of food from the supermarket trolley through default and so I’d rather like to keep my occasional consumption of legumes and beans, which the Paleo diet tends to skip. The diet allows for fish, grass-fed meat, vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts, excluding grains, legumes, dairy (although some Paleos still consume some forms of dairy), refined sugars and processed oils. I’m really looking forward to reading Gillespie’s new book next year, which promises to blow the lid off the dangers of processed oils.

What the event didn’t cover too well was the food side, which is in my opinion quite important. It’s great to be educated on why this or that isn’t metabolised well by the body or how we’ve all been duped into believing saturated fat is bad for us, when it is in fact the opposite, but at the end of the day if you can’t sell your message through the food itself you’ll have a hard time getting people onboard. When a speaker stands up and the first thing they say is how much they don’t like public speaking you know you’re in for a rough ten minutes. Mick Reade was charged with the duty of running through a few low carb recipes – finally, I thought, I can see what a Paleo plate looks like! What came up instead was a tutorial on how to make cauliflower rice and how to crumb fish without breadcrumbs, complete with amateur photographs which did little to stimulate the palate. I know I shouldn’t complain when Mick was giving his time and advice for free but it would have been great to see food given a larger portion of the day’s attention, to see the theory put into practice.

One speaker on the day said something that has stuck with me since then; he said that if you were here today (at the event) it meant that you took your health seriously or you took the health of your loved ones seriously, and it was great to see so many people invested in their health and expanding their knowledge about their health. As someone who is still on an uphill battle to apologise to my body for years of neglect I can see so many people around me trapped in the same web I was in for so long. Taking time out of your day to read an article, taking time out of your weekend to attend a seminar, even taking time during your weekly food shopping to read the ingredients list, these are all forms of taking responsibility for your body, relearning to love and respect your body, and realise that, like many things in life, good things take time. 

Have a look at the Low Carb Down Under Facebook page for more details and links to videos from their events. 

People often remark when they see a child playing with a cardboard box instead of the toy that came inside of it, “It’s the simple things really isn’t it?” Or perhaps it’s something along the lines of, “I wish I was that easily amused.”

It’s easy to get swept up in only finding joy in the larger things in life, an overseas holiday, a shiny new car, a shiny new Apple product the day it comes on the market, a new house, a new TV, new clothes … the list of “big” things we find pleasure in is endless. Sometimes you have to stop and appreciate the smaller things in life, fresh sheets on the bed, a fridge full of food, a hot shower, your nephew laughing uncontrollably at a dog barking, or even a cocktail in a novelty tiki pirate cup.

When the waitress brought our drinks over on Saturday night we were in the fourth hour of my friend’s hen’s party. The tiki pirate cup caught my eye immediately as I wondered aloud who the lucky recipient was going to be. “Tropical romance?” the girl asked. “That’s mine!” I yelled, perhaps too loudly, as the tiki pirate cup was handed to me. Imagine my excitement then upon seeing the mini paper umbrella wedged in the top and a the green plastic mermaid grasping onto the pineapple wedge bobbing in the drink. I instantly declared it the best night ever and no cheaper thrill was had by anyone else that day I am sure.

You can keep your crystal glasses and your expensive champagne, sometimes a cheap-arse tiki cup with a pineapple flavoured cocktail, a paper umbrella and a plastic mermaid is enough to keep this gal happy.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
I swapped the silver bells and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row, for silverbeet, spinach, Tuscan cabbage, cucumber and squash seeds and seedlings as the second month of spring hits the halfway mark. 
There are a great many benefits to living in the inner city, gardening is not one of them. While our adorably cute, and super tiny, Juliette balcony once set its own Guinness World Record for number of occupants on New Year’s Eve, it can only accommodate a handful of small pots and planters for your basic herbs. Last summer saw a bonza crop of basil and parsley, while the rosemary, well, let’s not speak ill of the dead. 
This summer I’m stepping things up a notch and have rented, along with my little brother, a patch to grow veggies on the Fed Square roof top car park. Run by the fellas from The Little Veggie Co, Pop Up Patch is offering fellow city dwellers a chance to become urban farmers. Having gone from zero interest in gardening to planting herbs and now vegetables, I wouldn’t have even considered this initiative if the Veggie Co lads weren’t on site every day to answer my very silly questions, yes, I asked if the plants have to be watered every day …
I’ll keep you updated on the progress, I’m hoping to not kill everything before garnering some samples, and if you’re in Melbourne and this sounds like your idea of a good time, there are still some boxes of dirt left! Visit popuppatch.com for more info. 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

I swapped the silver bells and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row, for silverbeet, spinach, Tuscan cabbage, cucumber and squash seeds and seedlings as the second month of spring hits the halfway mark. 

There are a great many benefits to living in the inner city, gardening is not one of them. While our adorably cute, and super tiny, Juliette balcony once set its own Guinness World Record for number of occupants on New Year’s Eve, it can only accommodate a handful of small pots and planters for your basic herbs. Last summer saw a bonza crop of basil and parsley, while the rosemary, well, let’s not speak ill of the dead. 

This summer I’m stepping things up a notch and have rented, along with my little brother, a patch to grow veggies on the Fed Square roof top car park. Run by the fellas from The Little Veggie Co, Pop Up Patch is offering fellow city dwellers a chance to become urban farmers. Having gone from zero interest in gardening to planting herbs and now vegetables, I wouldn’t have even considered this initiative if the Veggie Co lads weren’t on site every day to answer my very silly questions, yes, I asked if the plants have to be watered every day …

I’ll keep you updated on the progress, I’m hoping to not kill everything before garnering some samples, and if you’re in Melbourne and this sounds like your idea of a good time, there are still some boxes of dirt left! Visit popuppatch.com for more info. 

Since I began investigating a sugar free or reduced sugar life I’ve been asked a lot of questions by people I know, the most often of which is, What would you say is the best thing someone can do to reduce sugar in their diet? I don’t hesitate in answering: reduce your liquid sugar intake immediately. Even better, eliminate any liquid sugar you may have in your diet. This includes the obvious - soft drink, soda, pop, whatever name you have for the intensely sweet carbonated beverages that most people consume on a weekly if not daily basis now. Don’t even get me started on diet drinks, in my opinion either drink the “real deal” or don’t drink anything at all, diet soft drinks are not healthier in the slightest. 

Soft drinks get the bad rap but liquid sugars also include fruit juices - just because the word “fruit” appears doesn’t automatically deem a product healthy, vitamin waters, energy drinks, flavoured milks and cordials, revise, reduce and remove all of the above from your supermarket trolley and your life. 

The above video was emailed to me by a friend, and shortly after an article popped up in my news feed about Coca-Cola’s reaction to the same video. My interest had been piqued. 

It’s not surprising to learn after watch the video that an ex-ad agency executive was responsible for the incredible amount of spin on show. While I agree with reducing and aiming to eliminate carbonated sugar drinks from the diet, the depiction of the polar bear family having rotting teeth, amputated limbs and erectile disfunction was extremist and possibly counteractive to those seeking to enlighten people of sugar’s dangers. 

Of course Coca-Cola’s problem with the video is the association of their product and the polar bear, one of the company’s mascots, with diabetes and its many complications. Fair enough. No company is going to admit their product is harmful, even to this day tabaco companies fight for their right to sell and market their product however they want, a product which the public knows and acknowledges causes illness and death. 

Despite my qualms with the video and its over simplified and extreme representation of a devastating disease, I am appreciative that people are out there trying to spread the word about healthier lifestyle choices. The campaign, run by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has already generated generous online exchanges through Twitter and Facebook. The problem is if people believe that simply cutting out sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola will save them from being diagnosed a diabetic, there is much more that needs to be addressed than what is on show in this video.

The campaign also offers some Truth versus Lie comparisons, offering a quote from Coca-Cola’s President of Sparkling Beverages, Katie Bayne: “There is no scientific evidence that connects sugary beverages to obesity,” with one of the Truths appearing opposite that quote, saying: “Diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction.” I know the possibility of not being able to perform in the bedroom might have looked like a big selling point for the campaign but offering this incomplete information is somewhat irresponsible to an otherwise misinformed or under educated audience. Of course a campaign must be short and catchy, but simplifying erectile dysfunction to a complication of diabetes without even discussing how each are a linked precursor to and warning of heart disease is a classic ad agency move. 

Diabetes is a growing concern in our communities and obesity and sugar intake are not the sole contributors to it. Yes they are large contributors and yes both issues should be addressed when discussing and educating about this disease but blaming Coca-Cola for being a business that increases our risk of being diagnosed is just ridiculous. I have a brain, you have a brain, and we all have free will, it’s time we used them. 

To view the website and download their Soda Facts 101 sheet visit: http://www.therealbears.org/#video

Juice pulp crackers - I’m not going to lie, you’re going to have to think outside the box a little with these tasty snacks, especially if you’re used to the store bought dry biscuit variety often ladened with high levels of salt and non identifiable ingredients. 
The great thing about trying this recipe is using 100% of your food, no wastage! If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can compost or feed scraps to an animal (I hear chickens love juice pulp) you may not be inclined to venture down the juice pulp cracker road with me. If you, like me, don’t have access to the above and your juice pulp swiftly moves from the juicer to the bin, perhaps you’ll want to experiment with this recipe.
The general recipe can be modified, obviously based on what vegetables you’ve juiced that morning, but also with what spices you add to the mix. For these crackers I juiced 2 baby beetroots, 1 carrot, 4 stalks of celery, 1 stalk of broccoli, 1 granny smith apple and a knob of ginger. I used this recipe as a basis then added my preferred spices, cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of salt on top because, well, you want these babies to have some flavour. You can add whatever spices you have on hand, including any fresh herbs like rosemary. Your imagination is the limit and some trial and error will be involved. Best not to try this recipe if you’re having a green juice day, I doubt a spinach and cucumber cracker would work as well but hey, I could be wrong! 
These crackers are great fresh out of the oven on their own or eaten the next day with some dip, fresh avocado or some antipasto as topping. 
Recipe
In a bowl mix juice pulp (at least 1 cup) with 1/2 cup of chia seeds and 1 cup of water. An optional addition is 3 tbsp of savoury (nutritional) yeast flakes. Add in spices and mix until a paste consistency. 
Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture as thin as possible using a spatula. The thinner you can work this mixture the crispier your crackers will be. Take a knife and cut the mixture into desired portions before baking. 
Bake in the oven on 190 (celcius) for at least 30 minutes. Use your judgement as to how long you cook the crackers - the above were in for about 45 minutes and I returned the crackers in the middle of the tray for a further 10 minutes to crisp the centres up. 

Juice pulp crackers - I’m not going to lie, you’re going to have to think outside the box a little with these tasty snacks, especially if you’re used to the store bought dry biscuit variety often ladened with high levels of salt and non identifiable ingredients. 

The great thing about trying this recipe is using 100% of your food, no wastage! If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can compost or feed scraps to an animal (I hear chickens love juice pulp) you may not be inclined to venture down the juice pulp cracker road with me. If you, like me, don’t have access to the above and your juice pulp swiftly moves from the juicer to the bin, perhaps you’ll want to experiment with this recipe.

The general recipe can be modified, obviously based on what vegetables you’ve juiced that morning, but also with what spices you add to the mix. For these crackers I juiced 2 baby beetroots, 1 carrot, 4 stalks of celery, 1 stalk of broccoli, 1 granny smith apple and a knob of ginger. I used this recipe as a basis then added my preferred spices, cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of salt on top because, well, you want these babies to have some flavour. You can add whatever spices you have on hand, including any fresh herbs like rosemary. Your imagination is the limit and some trial and error will be involved. Best not to try this recipe if you’re having a green juice day, I doubt a spinach and cucumber cracker would work as well but hey, I could be wrong! 

These crackers are great fresh out of the oven on their own or eaten the next day with some dip, fresh avocado or some antipasto as topping. 

Recipe

In a bowl mix juice pulp (at least 1 cup) with 1/2 cup of chia seeds and 1 cup of water. An optional addition is 3 tbsp of savoury (nutritional) yeast flakes. Add in spices and mix until a paste consistency. 

Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture as thin as possible using a spatula. The thinner you can work this mixture the crispier your crackers will be. Take a knife and cut the mixture into desired portions before baking. 

Bake in the oven on 190 (celcius) for at least 30 minutes. Use your judgement as to how long you cook the crackers - the above were in for about 45 minutes and I returned the crackers in the middle of the tray for a further 10 minutes to crisp the centres up. 

Watching the Brownlow Medal red carpet is not a yearly tradition for me, those who know me well will tell you that I try and steer clear of all things AFL as much as I can. Yet I found myself tuning in last night to watch the first ladies of football frocking up and busting out on footy’s Night of Nights. It’s all a bit of fun, waiting to see what outrageous outfit Brynne Edelstein will rock up in this year, rating the ladies’ dresses and commenting on the plunging necklines, it’s all harmless of course until Rebecca Judd (wife of Chris) comes into frame. Suddenly there were countless people on Facebook commenting that someone needs to feed her a cheeseburger or that she needs to eat! When the first person commented I glanced at their post then dismissed it, but when the same message was being put forth by multiple people I started to get, well, a bit annoyed. 

Today I was going through my regular list of blogs I like to read when I came across Meg's and it was one of those moments where the stars align and a light bulb goes on and it all seems part of some greater power than you. Launching Wellness Week with her friend Laura, Meg’s blog was a little sign from the universe that reassured me there is hope to end the “Fat Talk”.

Whether it’s complaining about feeling fat or bloated, commenting on how someone looks like they’ve lost weight or in Rebecca’s case - looks too thin, or any of a myriad of sentences and words I hear uttered every single week, mostly from the mouths of women, I knew I had to take a leaf out of Meg’s book and end the Fat Talk. But ending it yourself is only one step, making others realise they’re slipping into FT is another step on the road to recognising women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and equal. I didn’t take that extra step last night, I didn’t comment on those posts because, let’s face it, I can think of a million things I’d rather do than get involved in a social media debate. But it’s something I will strive to be conscious of from here on out.

When I started my sugar detox several months back now, I visited a naturopath who told me I would need to lose a substantial amount of weight to get to my “ideal weight”. I knew I had a chunk to lose because of my lifestyle choices but I questioned the figure she came up with, siting my concerns about dropping to what I considered an extreme weight. Like most women, I’ve known many people who have struggled with eating disorders and body image issues and I’ve learned from their pain and their struggles. After discussing it with her she agreed that “perhaps” the weight she outlined was a tad extreme and settled for something a few kilos heavier. The fact that I no longer see said naturopath is a testament to how I was made to feel about myself over the handful of visits I had with her. When I think about how her words made me feel, and when I think about how all of our words make other people feel, I still can’t help but feel shocked that people continue to talk about body image and specifically other people’s weight so casually. 

With all this in mind I’m looking forward to tagging along with Meg and Laura’s Wellness Week, and cutting out the Fat Talk for good. 

Sugar free doesn’t apply to room service … right?

One of the biggest hurdles you’ll encounter when kicking the white stuff out of your life is when you go on a holiday. Somewhere along the line we got the idea into our heads that being on holidays entitles you to do a lot of things you don’t do in your average week. Whether it’s drinking more alcohol, staying up later, sleeping in until midday, or in my case, eating dessert, it’s easy to slip into the mind frame of “Why not? I’m on holidays!”

On the whole, since my 8 weeks sugar free ended, I’ve been quite good at avoiding sweet treats, save for the occasional slice of birthday cake that is. Recently on a short trip interstate I fell into the oh-so-easy trap of room service. Press one button on the phone, verbalise your sugary desire and within minutes there’s a knock at the door. To make things even easier it’s all charged to your room, no money exchanged, you barely process the fact that you’re paying $12 for a small cup of chocolate mousse!

For those who have kicked a habit, they’ll testify how different it is returning to their old vice. Stories of reformed smokers who can no longer even stand the smell of cigarette smoke run aplenty. For reformed sugar junkies the taste of something sweet can have various results - from a general indifference to the taste, to feeling violently ill, I fell into the later category after consuming something that in the past would have barely touched the sides. At first this reaction upset me, it feels sometimes a sort of punishment to no longer enjoy something other people do, to no longer get a kick out of a sweet treat. Slowly I pulled myself together, remembering how much better I feel compared to pre-quitting, how I need these little tests along the way to remind me to stay strong and how $12 for a tiny mousse is really quite ridiculous.

Back at work this week, and back into a regular routine, sugar is once again out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps it is okay to take the “Why not? I’m on holiday!” mindset if only to remind ourselves how much better we feel and work when we put ourselves first and our vices second.

Whores’ Glory (2011) Dir: Michael Glawogger

“Everyone believes they know something about prostitution, particularly when he or she has never been to a brothel.” – Michael Glawogger

For around $7 Australian you can buy yourself two rounds of sex within one hour with a young woman in Bangladesh. For around $58 a woman can be sold to a brothel for one year in the same country.

These were the facts that stood out to me the most while watching Michael Glawogger’s sobering documentary Whores’ Glory. Told in three parts and spanning three countries - Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico, this unnarrated expose of the sex trade was startling and hard to digest.

Often referred to as the oldest profession in the world, Glawogger’s distanced approach to telling these women’s stories allows their heartache and pain to be felt without intention. There are the women who either directly or indirectly come across as enjoying their line of work but for the most part it is a story of enslavement, shame and poverty.

It was the moment when a young Bangladeshi woman hesitates before speaking to the camera that struck me the most. She asks why women are treated this way, why they must suffer so much. What does the future hold for these women and how can they escape this prison that poverty has incarcerated them in?

I was reminded while watching this film why I enjoy documentaries so much. As difficult as they can sometimes be to watch, and let me assure you - this was particularly hard to stomach, I always feel a sense of achievement as the end credits roll. I have learned something. I have become wiser, if only just a little bit, from having watched that. This can’t be said for everything we consume these days. There is room for entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but what percentage of what you consume is helping you to grow as a person?

Just as I was provoked to learn more and try to do more after watching Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (2004), I feel we owe it to these women to become more aware of their plight, even if we don’t feel we can do anything to change it right away. Awareness is the first step to real change, and while confronting and challenging, I can’t recommend Whores' Glory highly enough, to open all of our eyes to the treatment of women and sex around the world.

Whores’ Glory is playing at the Melbourne International Film Festival

Checking Out

We were getting ready to head out for dinner on Friday night (Australian time) when Guy yelled out “There’s been a shooting!” as both of our Twitter feeds began to spew minute by minute updates of the event. Soon all of the distressing details about the shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in the United States came to light and as we arrived at the pub there was now an eye witness video, further accounts of survival, and that sickening tally of the deceased.

Trying to put it out of our minds and enjoy the evening, nothing could move the uncomfortable feeling that began stewing in my stomach. Later that night the bedroom was aglow with that harsh light only an iPad can emit as news reports were streamed and audio clips were played.

The following morning I spoke with my sister in the Philippines about several things before launching into, “Isn’t it terrible about the shooting!” To which she replied, “What shooting?” Living somewhere where the news isn’t in English means she has slowly weaned herself off the daily habit we all have of checking in on what’s going on in every corner of the world. I had to admit, this seemed like a great idea. One cannot feel disheartened with the state of things when one does not know what is going on. Perhaps it’s not advisable to be entirely ignorant of current events but implementing a filter and learning to check out regularly seems to have some merit.

Most weekends I unintentionally check out from Facebook, Twitter and even the news. I find when I’m not locked into a desk all day, the need for distraction in the form of reading someone’s 140 character run down of what they are doing, eating, seeing etc doesn’t exist. Yet when big news breaks, as it did at the end of last week, I find myself clinging to my computer for more information, even if it’s the same information just told a slightly different way. The same thing happened back in 2001, first when I experienced the devastating death of a friend that made national headlines, and secondly when those planes hit the Twin Towers and you couldn’t turn on the television without seeing the footage. Every day it was as though I needed a fix of images and information, and yet every night I would lie in bed unable to drift off to sleep. What I was feeding my brain, and even my soul, was hurting me.

The debate about how violence is portrayed in movies and how it is received by the audience has been reignited by last week’s event. While some cling to the idea that violent video games and violent films create violent people, others persist that violence in entertainment and mass shootings are non exclusive, and of course there’s that old chestnut: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

One could debate these ideas until the cows come home, but from a personal perspective I have, slowly, learned when to say no for myself. No to watching another news segment on the shooting. No to reading another article. No to filling my mind with the acts of the lowest scum on this planet. Feeling that ache when you learn of an innocent person’s death is one thing, and wanting to know the basic facts about what happened is another,  but allowing the criminal who unleashed his terror on a community, a nation and in turn a world, to occupy our thoughts and dominate our news is ultimately just giving him what he wanted.

Looking up and learning

An interesting thing happened to me on Twitter yesterday. I made a snarky remark about a certain sportsperson-turned-author and found myself in the midst of his army of fans telling me I got “served” and that I was a “nobody” when this sportsperson arrogantly replied to me. It was an entertaining experience that swiftly went from funny to frustrating. I understand why people look up to sportspeople, why they so passionately follow a particular team from childhood and why they would defend them to the death. I just don’t understand why they would do it for this particular person, someone who has been in the spotlight for gambling and alcohol abuse problems, and someone whose sporting career is currently in tatters. And yet it is their right to, I just wish they wouldn’t involve me or my twitter feed.  

Having role models and people to look up to is extremely important and yet I struggle to think of who would be my own role models outside of my family. And then this morning, as I was sifting through my Twitter feed, I read the news that Nora Ephron had passed away, and I felt like I was going to cry. This isn’t my usual reaction to reading about a celebrity death; mostly I have no connection to actors or musicians or authors who die, and yet Nora has a special place in my heart. 

As a young writer and a film fanatic who writes about movies on the side, Nora’s screenplays, books and articles have long served as an inspiration, and to know that the person responsible for some of your favourite things in this world is no longer around to create is sobering.  

It’s then that I realised what troubled me most yesterday as this sportsperson’s fans sent abuse my way. Sure, back in his heyday he may have been a “champion”, yet his fall from grace continues and his reply to my tweet illustrates how inflated his ego still, undeservedly, is. He is not someone contributing positively to our cultural fabric, he is riding the wave of the, at times, undeserved heroism that sports attracts in this country. And yet he is still held by many in high regard.  

It’s hard to change a nation’s way of thinking when sports receives its own segment on the daily news, but amongst the mass of overpaid sportspeople how about we choose the ones worthy of being role models, those who support charities or do more with their time than kick a leather ball between two poles, and not those who think they are truly better than everyone else?