Alone in the City of Love

In my last post I mentioned my impetus for downloading The Bad App again was that I was off overseas to Europe. I didn’t actually end up swiping a lot – turns out the No Bio Epidemic is international, and weirdly enough most people wrote in their local language… three languages I do not speak, despite my awful, awful attempts (my hot tip? Learn your yes, no, please, thank you, and ‘I do not speak this language’).

I wanted to talk about the rather odd experience of travelling alone in deeply romantic places. I was not by myself for my whole three-week trip. During my time in Germany I was able to stay with friends, and I met up with my bestie in Berlin. But I took myself solo to Florence and…Paris. The City of Love. I was not at all phased about travelling alone – I live alone and I’m highly independent, so I’m used to my own company and making decisions about where I’ll be, when. My only concern was really not being lonely, but not having anyone to talk me down from my anxiety if something went wrong (fortunately, I only had one issue – when I missed my train connection from Italy to Germany. Four hours in Bologna station and a rather difficult conversation through Google Translate later, and I was on my way).

I’ve dreamed of Paris since I was a kid. What a cliche. But I didn’t realise until I was there how seriously they take the whole ‘City of Love’ thing. That city is PDA central. A quiet break from the sun in a park attached to a church delivered me two teenagers making out for a good twenty minutes straight. I never realised what prudes Aussies are until  I witnessed the amount of physical affection people are willing to share when some random broad is sitting right there. Then there was the moment I had to jump out of two separate sets of wedding photos as I took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, while I had another couple waiting for me to take their picture (I believe in Good Travel Karma so I always take people’s photos….but I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I do not know their angles). I was shoved away in some pretty odd corners when I turned up in restaurants alone, like they didn’t really want me to be seen committing the repulsive act of eating with only a Kindle for company.

It’s a bit odd to be wandering by yourself in all that. The closest I came to romance is when a strange man called me over to his car when I was crossing the road and yelled at me in French, eventually communicating ‘You are very beautiful’. I’ll never know how close I came to getting robbed that day.

But just because you’re all alone in the most romantic place on earth, doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love. Because I fell in love with Paris. Not the one in my head, the actual Paris. With centuries of history and culture, dizzyingly intricate and ornate architecture, just the best afternoon light, and some of the most delicious cheese around. Also that pain au chocolat the size of my head. And people there know how to fucking live. Drinking a wine at a cafe on the boulevard before midday? No biggie. Picnics as soon as the sun shines? I’ll bring the baguette. Salsa dancing by the Seine? Welcome to Sunday evening. You can even find the occasional Aussie making a half-decent coffee. It’s kinda hard not to have a boner for it all.

Walking ’til your feet yell back, snacking ’til you nearly burst, feeling like your eyes will fall out of your head with SHEER BEAUTY EXHAUSTION, admiring the perpetual tans on almost universally attractive people. You can still do it with your eyes open. The people there smoke too bloody much, everywhere, and the hustle is seriously in your face at attractions. You can queue for eons to see the good shit. People will not fucking move for you on the sidewalk, probably because you’re Skecher-clad tourist scum or maybe just because they don’t feel like it.

But it just can’t kill that high. And I think that’s probably love.

 

 

 

 

Oh god….I’m going to end up on Tinder again, aren’t I?

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A funny thing happens when you approach 30. You’re kind of forced to take stock of your life. However, I’m not someone who worries about goalposts. I don’t really believe in marriage, although I’m a big fan of weddings (people are forced to give you presents and tell you that you’re pretty? HELLO). I’m a very happy aunty who’s never wanted kids. I’ll buy a house either when I’m partnered up or I can afford one on a deeply average income… while somehow still affording rent because hell knows I’m not moving back to the South Coast of NSW to live with my parents.

So I don’t believe in goalposts, but I do have hopes. And as we’ve previously established, I am a romantic. I may not want tradition, but I do want a companion to go through this dumb thing called life with – and not just so I can afford a house. I found myself approaching 30, living in a small coastal town, surrounded by my friends, who are the greatest people on planet earth, but also apart from my friends in some ways. Because every person in my group was in a committed relationship, and I realised I was beginning to live their settled lives, when I myself did not have any desire to settle in to the life I had. I was living in an area I had almost no chance of meeting someone I had things in common with. So, I had a choice. I could move to Sydney, where I’d worked for 8 years, and which I hated, or I could just call time and move to Melbourne, which I loved, and where a beautiful nephew was himself about to be born. It was a tough choice (see aforementioned greatest people on planet earth), but one where I saw a lot of opportunity. I’d connected with so many people in Melbourne before in my life. This is where it’s going to happen to for me, I thought.

So, what’s happened since then? Well, I was on Tinder for a while last year. Both half-seriously, and then continuing my Tinder Trends series while I was unemployed. Then I got a job and got exhausted by Tinder. Ugggggh it’s so awful on there guys. The trends are never good. I dipped my toe in Bumble and mostly found more of the same. But here’s the thing: I have met a whole bunch of awesome – generally straight – women in Melbourne. Outside of work, I have met no men who are not boyfriends of said women. I’m not a big believer in office romances, partly because I’ve seen things go wrong and also because my mother met both her husbands at work (yep) and both of those were hellllla ill-advised. Also I am a big weirdo at work and pull a lot of faces at my desk while swearing at my computer. I don’t think it’s charming. ANYWAY. What I’m saying is I am not organically meeting people who I would date here in Melbourne, the land of opportunity.

Last night as I was standing in the shower, where I do my best thinking, I was pondering that clearly I am going to need to download Tinder in a couple of months when I go to Europe (goodbye, probably about a fifth of a non-existent housing deposit for the mortgage I could never service and would never get). Not because I am planning to casually fuck my way across the Continent, but because of my natural human curiosity about the people I will in no way be talking to in public spaces, because I actually care about my safety. I just…want to know what my options would be, if I were local.

But then, of course, you know where this is going. Because in the next breath, I realised I wasn’t even finding out what my options are now. Where I live. Nothing makes me wildly keen on the idea of dating (shaving my legs? Trying not to swear as much as I actually do? Praying I don’t get murdered?), and I really don’t mind waiting, but at some point I’m probably going to have to realise that the right person for me is not going to appear in my lounge room while I’m watching Younger.

If Silicon Valley could get on with *that* app, though…

Netflix, you did it. I’m so proud of you.

Netflix has proved to be really good at some things. Shows about lady wrestlers. Shows about The Upside-Down. Making you cry about makeovers. Making you cry in a different way over terrible cakes.

They’ve not really nailed the rom-com before.

I watch basically every Netflix Original rom-com that goes on there, but I’ve only seen fit to write about A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance because they were really cheesy and ’twas the season etc. And yes I did actually enjoy Christmas Inheritance but that is because the standard for holiday romances is so, so low. However, I’m not going to pretend I’m not counting down the months until The Princess Switch with Vanessa Hudgens.

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I watch the rest of the nonsense they add. I watched Ibiza, which I felt vastly overestimated the appeal of watching people who are drug-fucked and vastly underused Richard Madden’s natural Scottish accent. Happy Anniversary made me want to never be in a relationship lest I have to talk that much. They do okay with teen rom coms….sometimes? Candy Jar was charming. The Kissing Booth was one of the most problematic things I’ve seen in a long time, GIRL RUN AWAY. I did not watch When We First Met because I hate Adam Devine with the fire of a thousand suns.

So I am extremely pleased to say, they’ve done it. They’ve made a good rom-com. Meet Set It Up: 

The basic structure is barely even trying. Two over-worked and under-appreciated assistants who work in the same building set up their bosses to get some free time: “When they’re boning, we’re free, right?”. In the meantime they hardly realise that they themselves are being drawn closer together. So no, you’re not here for the plot. You’re here for the charm.

This whole movie is like some sort of twisted charisma factory. We start with the most important role, the heroine. I haven’t seen Zoey Deutch in a lot, but I knew something very important going in: she made the dire, horrific mess that is the Vampire Academy movie legitimately enjoyable, purely through charm and excellent line deliveries. There was a moment there where even pashing her PE teacher seemed like a good idea. So yes, I was more than happy to be carried along by Harper’s crazy schemes in Set It Up, even if she made fun of Charlie for being horrifically old. At age 28.

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I’ve mostly seen Glen Powell be kind of blandly handsome and pleasant, as Juliet’s poor old American Not-Michiel-Huisman fiancé in Guernsey, and pleasingly not-racist John Glenn in Hidden Figures. He gets to lean in to his asshole (so to speak) a bit more as Charlie. He gets some amusing and cutting lines, although we’re probably meant to think his deeply terrible boss Taye Diggs has rubbed off on him bit. Look, even Mr Darcy has to learn how to soften up a bit before he’s a worthy romantic hero.

I was pleased to see Lucy Liu given credit as the goddess she is in the movie:

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She’s a badass sports writer with her own publication, and while she has a touch of the Miranda Priestlys to her, you never question Harper’s admiration for her.

There’s a great support cast, a brilliantly old-school soundtrack (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking that cue from Nora Ephron)… I’ll stop talking. Go watch it. The world is fucking awful, go escape for an hour and 45 minutes.

I’m absolutely delighted that Netflix has managed to produce a movie that balances rom and com so adeptly. I’d love to see writer Katie Silberman do more, but I have some bad news. Her next movie. Such a promising concept:

A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

It stars Adam Devine.

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Bachelor in Paradise Australia Episode 11: Farewell, Paradise

I think it’s been very clear over my series of recaps – my longest recaps yet, I would say I’ve clocked about 30,000 words so far this series with all the characters to cover and the ridiculous length of the episodes – that I have been frustrated with this show. Filling the cast with garbage men (including a guy convicted of assault), poor editing, the weird hyper-focus on ‘dramatic’ storylines over actual relationships. Nonetheless, I’ve devoted late nights and lunch hours to my writing.

But at some point, I must acknowledge that while writing about a popular show drives eyeballs to my blog (which I make no money out of whatsoever), it also serves as a promotional tool for the show. I become part of the hype that they reap advertising dollars from. And I no longer feel comfortable with that after last night’s show, so I’m going to cease recapping it.

I can’t get on board with the queerbaiting that came to light this episode. There was never any Megan/Elora story as heavily implied by the promos. They spliced in a shot of Megan and Thomas kissing amongst other shots of Megan and Elora to make it appear that way. It’s dirty and low to communities who are just looking for a bit of positive representation. And while I already felt it was a bit salacious to have at least three consecutive shots of them when the rest of the trailer was really random, I figured when you have a storyline so different to what this franchise normally tells, you want to make sure people know about it (obviously it doesn’t hurt that Megan and Elora are beautiful women).

To be clear, this is not a comment on Megan. She is obliged to represent no-one but herself, and if the only people she wants to be in relationships with on this show are men, then that’s chill. Bisexual people’s sexuality doesn’t  depend on whoever they’re with at any given moment.

This is purely about the manipulation on Channel Ten’s part. I don’t want to be part of the hype machine that told such a specific lie to bait people who wanted to see a representation of a queer relationship, finally, on one of these overwhelmingly hereto dating shows.

If you want to read some excellent recaps on the rest of the season, I can highly recommend Jodi McAlister at BookThingo for smart stuff and like 90% the same sense of humour as me with less swearing, and Tahlia Pritchard at Buzzfeed for the lols.

Thank you for reading. I’m yet to decide if I will continue livetweeting (I do really want to see what happens with Apollo….) but you can find me at Twitter here.

Keep an eye out for my next film review to hopefully wash this dirty taste out of my mouth. The worst part is, as misleading as it was, that trailer probably had the best editing of the whole season.

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Bachelor in Paradise Australia: Episode 9

Your girl’s laid up at home right now after spraining her ankle on the way to Sydney this weekend. This is my first viewing of Sunday night’s episode and in the interests of getting this up before the next episode in about three hours, I’m just gonna write the recap as I watch. Not my usual mode! I typically take detailed notes as I watch and then write separately. If Channel Ten would just release us from this hellish schedule I could just go back to what works for me, but I guess this is where we’re at. Not having seen this episode, now that Apollo is here there are no guys that I am aware of left to enter, but at least 3 or 4 women that I know of through trailers/being spotted on set. So we’ve still got a bit of an ahem ‘journey’ ahead of us.

Osher tells us that ‘mateship was thrown out the window’ at last week’s dramarama bros ceremony. I’m not sure how the ANZACs would feel about this use of mateship but he did indeed ‘dog his mate’ and I am dying to see if Lisa is showing any interest in him at this point or if was all a show just to let Luke know she has options.

Michael makes the stunning claim to Grant and Megan that ‘Even I didn’t see that coming’, which Megan immediately calls bullshit on because she is the greatest. Mate. We saw you planning it all episode. And you spent at least 3 hours writing your Oscars acceptance speech about selling out. Megan wants to know what the hell happens now – Michael is planning on letting Lisa come to him now he’s made his attentions known. Just a thought – there could have been some private way he could have done that if that’s all he wanted to do. Oh well. Lisa and Luke are off chatting about how Like didn’t see it coming, and he feels like it puts him in a tough position if Michael wants to get to know her. If Lisa is trying to reassure him, she does a terrible job if it, telling him that both Luke and Michael were guys she was interested in getting to know coming in. Luke wants to clarify her feelings for Michael: ‘There’s absolutely nothing there’….and she essentially accepted the rose in shock. ‘Michael is an awesome guy, but I’m interested in you‘. Lisa thinks its brought them together, which is going to be a treat for Michael to find out! So glad Nina basically got sent home because of all this nonsense (although Michael would have likely been pressured by Keira to give his rose to her, so I guess the net result is the same).

Eden is still whinging about how he was a real martyr because Nina wouldn’t let him pash her on national television for ten days. Sam tells him ‘You are far better than the situation than you were subjected to’. To me, that situation seems to be ‘a very mild case of blue balls’, and I’m so glad I can cancel Sam again. Even my Greek god Apollo better be ready to be cancelled if he insists on pursuing someone who has established a clear boundary with him that he refuses to respect.

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A date card is here – Michael would take Lisa on a date for sure if he got it, and we all prey he will so we can be saved from this terrible plotline. Alas, Eden The Annoying gets it, and we all know he’s taking Elora off so he make some weird comments about her body comparing her to meat. Eden: ‘What are you doing?’ Elora: ‘I’m…going on a date?’. And then the most relatable thing in Paradise occurs: Simone leans over and whispers to her ‘What if Apollo comes in and you’re gone?’. And okay, I think everyone who has been here for nearly two weeks (hissing: particularly Tara) should get first dibs on Apollo, but I definitely understand the concern. No-one wants to miss an opportunity there. And Elora is very firm in not wanting to go on this date and missing Apollo: ‘every time he was on screen he just had this presence that drew me in’ (they’re called abs, it’s okay), but she doesn’t want to hurt Eden. Why not just hurt Eden? He’s rubbish, and he’s going to blame you for his case of blue balls eventually too.

Michael hopes Eden acts respectfully and slows the fuck down, because word is he has freaked Elora out by getting ‘all funky fresh’ (golly our Michael has a way with words) and draping his arm around her post rose ceremony. I’m going to say that he is going to have a lot of difficulty with this.

Channel Ten offer him (and her) a small punishment by making them climb up a giant sand dune for their date. She is NOT feeling how touchy-feely and territorial he is being, and when they set up their boogie boards for sand-duning (that is what this activity is called, I have decided) he tries to hop on one with her and the body language should be EXTREMELY CLEAR YOU IDIOT. This may be even worse than the Megan/Jared date, I think. We cut to Keira and Megan chatting just for some sweet relief. Keira is very grateful for Luke giving her a second chance.

Jared is talking to Jarrod, presumably just to confuse Twitter. It seems that maybe Jarrod is convinced Simone is too young, but once again the editing in this show is so fucking terrible. Michael asks Simone about the date and she says while it was a good date, but there was no spark and she wasn’t attracted to him (I’m sorry to be such an ancient stick-in-the-mud, but why kiss in that circumstance?). She wants a pretty boy! A pretty boy with a good personality who doesn’t look in the mirror all the time! Last episode her priority was a guy who wouldn’t lose interest in her, but okay!

The important part here is of course that ‘pretty boy with a good personality’ is the perfect intro for our Magician/DJ/Dorky Angel Apollo. He’s got his white shorts and lobster shirt on and he is ready for Paradise, FINALLY, GOD, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING HIM I HATE YOU. Tara has already fallen in love with an idiot and I think it’s too late to save her! In another moment of deep delusion, Apollo thinks he is remembered for an awkward date moment, and not when he was shirtless and dressed up as an actual literal god.

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Apollo is determined not to hold back this time! He’s going to find his lady! In fact, he’s going to come in to Paradise and ‘hopefully make some magic happen’, and then laughs at his own joke like the huge dork he is. Oooh…and he’s walking in with a date card. No-one has ever been more excited than every man on this island – Luke leaps out of the pool and picks him up (hooooow?). The girls are apparently ‘frothing’ – Megan tells us the girls have been talking about him non-stop since they got there. Michael encourages Leah and Simone to pounce. Apparently Elora has been telling everyone he’s the entire reason she’s there.

The horrifically awkward date of Eden and Elora continues. She’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to have to sit and talk with him because she doesn’t want to discuss feelings, which same. He asks her why she’s on the date with him, and answers that she doesn’t know him. What is she looking for? She’s looking for a spark – it could be a slow burn, and he completely talks over her. He then thanks her for coming on the date with him and the hug, with her giving him a kiss on the cheek. ‘Ahh the cheek’ he exclaims out loud, like a fucking predatory. Oh my god someone please release Elora. The girls have the roses this week you fucking idiot, stop acting like a weirdo creep and someone might keep you in out of pity at least. He realises he’s not getting a kiss and for some reason starts…what he thinks is a food fight which is just him shoving food at her with crazy eyes while she protests. What is wrong with this man.

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Apollo is getting the hot goss with Jarrod and Luke about who’s single and Luke casually drops in to conversation to Elora is…very…keen to meet him, when Tara and Sam come screeching in. Apparently Tara and Apollo are already good friends (they are both Gold Coast folks), which isn’t annoying to me on some level at all. Pah. Turns out Apollo has been way too scared to approach the girls yet, even though he’s here clutching a date card. Sam volunteers with matchmaking, even though his previous efforts have mostly been terrible. Keira turns up, and Jarrod mutters that Apollo ‘is 24, he’s just a kid’. Maybe, but he is the most respectful dude we have seen grace our series in this entire franchise. Keira would run roughshod over him, but he’s not too immature for her. He’s just a good person.

And it’s taken me and hour and a half to recap 22 minutes of show, so I might just drop some detail level here because I’m not getting this out before tonight’s episode otherwise. God I hate TenPlay so much. The simple process of pausing and resuming can take an eon.

Keira and Apollo chat. She would be happy to ‘kiss him…just for Australia’ but there’s no chemistry here, she thinks he’s too young. His body sure is ‘rigged’ according to Keira, a previously non-existent term I think I will adopt.

Exhaustingly, Jarrod tells Keira he is back on her. How is this possible. Why is this possible. Just pash you fucking idiots.

Apollo takes Simone off for a chat and Leah threatens Elora’s head exploding. Apollo and Simone have a little giggle together, including about Simone adorning Matty J’s penis with a sticker. He says she has a ‘beautiful childlike nature’ which is a bit off, but she’s not put off from him calling her ‘Penis Sticker Girl’. He gives her the date card. Hilariously, Tara and Sam who constantly boast on their Instagrams at their special drama-avoiding abilities, are here champing at the bit for Elora return and everything to kick off.

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She does, and Ali lets her know the situation. Apparently Simone and Elora had discussed her lust for Apollo even before the show. Elora instructs Simone not to feel bad but then seems to get mad that Simone mentioned Elora was interested in him – of course, Luke was way ahead of her on this one.

Jake, Michael and Eden are off chatting, and Michael tells Eden that he stinks. Truer words were never spoken. Eden is struggling because Apollo is a beautiful angel and he can’t even deny it. Speaking of, Elora still feels like he’s fair game so she’s going for it. Surprise surprise, Simone gets her nose out of joint at the mere act of Elora taking him for a chat. Ali ‘can’t believe she doesn’t have her friend’s back’, which, okay, but Simone doesn’t really have a leg to stand on by saying all other bitches ain’t loyal to their friends. Maybe just chill out and see how your date goes mate, because right now you’re trying to piss your mark on him on the basis of a five-minute conversation and a date card.

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Michael: ‘I can see that blowing up’ Megan: ‘I hope so’. Good god, everyone’s desperate for drama that does not involve them. Megan accurately assesses that does not ‘seem like an arsehole’ (and therefore may not be a great match for Simone who gets a bit fiery). Elora and Simone go off for a chat and Elora asks Simone not to mention her, as it might kill her chances if he thinks she’s all over him. Chat to Luke, mate. And also, in future, maybe don’t tell everyone literally how hard you’re gagging for someone.

Jarrod takes Keira for a mini-date. I don’t care. Grow the fuck up. I will note that he describes her as his ‘purpose in life’.

Elora makes the bizarre choice to complain to Eden about Simone going out with Apollo and feeling unwanted. This is….not the person to complain to about this?

It’s another crappy weather date (what an ad for Fiji this show is) for Apollo and Simone, but that doesn’t stop her from suggesting he takes his top off so she can sunscreen him up. Relatable. Their date is some sort of challenge borrowed from Survivors, collecting bottles from balloons/buoys. She capsizes them and Apollo her tosses her back in like she is a small child, as everyone is to him, because he’s a fucking unit. She keeps capsizing (maybe on purpose at this point) but this is becoming a bit of a theme for her dates.

Elora wants everyone to know she is butthurt, and they are all sick of her. Keira wishes Apollo could make them both disappear and then laughs heartily at her own joke. Meanwhile, post-date, Apollo and Simone are chatting over a wine. ‘Apollo makes me feel like a child again’ – god, this is a weird ongoing theme. Is it just the size? Or is she just really immature? The things in the bottle are questions for them to ask each other. Apollo says he ‘is just looking for someone to create a story with’, which is a bit cute. Simone expresses to Apollo that she’s worried Elora will give him her rose and she won’t get to give one to him, a valid fear on this show but probably not one to mention to him…

I’m still angry at Sam so I do not want to devote time (thanks to TenPlay being so buggy it is now less than half an hour to Monday’s episode) on his romantic gesture to build (‘with some help’) a little shack thingy for Tara. I suppose we’ve all got to find something to fill the sober hours. She’s delighted, blind as she is to Apollo’s vastly superior charms.

(Can you imagine Apollo making an ‘I have needs!’ speech?)

Unfortunately, she tells us she’s falling in love with Sam.

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Apollo and Simone return from their date and Elora has never been more excited to see two people not holding hands. Everyone demands to know whether they’d kissed (‘no), and then drags Simone off for a chat, but she’s feeling defensive. Elora says ‘can you promise me you didn’t bring my name up in conversation?’, which we know she did. Simone tries to shrug it off.

The guys want to know if he’s attracted to her, which he is, but he’d like more time. Jarrod wants to know if he wants to get know other girls, ‘or Elora’, and honestly, Simone is not the villain here in the ‘bringing Elora up constantly’ field. In the girls chat, Simone and Elora both state that they would like to give Apollo their rose, which is extremely awkward. Elora and Simone go off for a chat and Jarrod makes everyone pay attention to it. Simone doesn’t know how they can be friends if they’re both interested in the same guy.

There’s mention of Simone and Elora’s ‘bad history’ which has made its way through the Bachelor grapevine. The rumour is that in the outside world, Elora had hit on a guy that Simone was interested in at an event. It turns out (it was kind of whispered in passed) this was awful Courtney from Georgia Love’s season. Elora thinks that Simone is the origin of this rumour. Time for another insufferable argument on this show. If Simone told people this story, then her then crying about having her personal life brought in was ridiculous. If she didn’t, then it’s tacky of Elora. Either way it doesn’t reflect well on either of them. Begone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Bird: The Victorian Values Review

In 2002, when Lady Bird begins, I was 16. As of yesterday, I’m precisely double that. An apt day to travel back in time, to when Nelly held positions three and four in the Billboard Top 100.

(the real tune of this movie is Justin Timberlake’s Britney revenge track Cry Me A River and you should definitely check out director Greta Gerwig’s letter to Timberlake to convince him to allow her permission to use the song solely for the term ‘full on make out‘, underlined for emphasis. This is extremely accurate btw, this is underlined make outs).

There were two pieces of feedback I took on when processing this movie. One was the review from a friend who’d already seen it – she didn’t like it, because she didn’t like the main character. The second was the couple chatting as we exited the cinema. She ‘didn’t get it’.

Let’s address the former first. I kinda knew from the trailer that the main character was going to be a bit infuriating. And I very much get the difficulty connecting with a story when you don’t like the main character – I get that feeling all the time. I cannot get in to Breaking Bad for the life of me. However. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age tale. The character needs to have somewhere to start from to grow.

And I’ve got a secret for you: the titular Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is a lot of us as teenagers. She looks almost exactly like my older sister at 17, with shittily-dyed red hair, chokers and caked-on eyeliner, still insultingly beautiful in the way of some 17-year-olds. And almost all of us were raging assholes. I suspect the problem is we’ve become used to coming-of-age movies being about teenage boys. You probably didn’t hate William in Almost Famous, even though he was also a selfish shit who damn near tortured his mother. So I suspect we’re not trained think of girls in coming-of-age movies to be anything other than objects for teenage boys to fall in love with (Hello, Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower). They have complicated inner lives too, and are battling their hormones just as much as teenage boys (that whole ‘girls mature faster’ thing? Yeah, we actually have to).

Now Lady Bird isn’t me as a teenager. For one thing, she is seriously extroverted (extroversion + hormones is a great recipe for a teenage asshole, by the way). She has what the nuns at her Catholic school call ‘a performative streak’ and god does she show it. So much yelling. But none of us can pretend that we didn’t know this person. We may all wish it gets channeled in to on-stage drama, but sometimes it just gets channeled  in to making a spectacle of yourself. It’s a damn good thing for Lady Bird that YouTube wasn’t around in 2002.  And extroversion isn’t necessarily something you grow out of. The character does mature over the course of the film, but she’s still drunkenly yelling out of windows at the end of the movie.

It’s a movie about relationships, but not really the ones you might think. Male-focused coming-of-age movies tend to be about falling in love, or lust, or whatever you want to call it. They’re not usually strictly romances, so it’s not necessarily about finding The One, just The One Who’ll Teach You Something About Yourself. Lady Bird has some excellent rite-of-passage relationships in the film – the closeted drama kid who just respects you so damn much he doesn’t really wanna touch you, the wanker in a band – but mostly, this is a movie about female relationships. The best friend. The mother. When it does touch on sex and relationships, it doesn’t punish Lady Bird for it. She can masturbate, she can lose her virginity and not fall pregnant her very first time (hello Saved! and Juno). Sure, her sexual experiences aren’t amazing pleasure-fests, but if you’re going to tell me yours were at that age, I’m gonna accuse you of boasting at best.

Cut to Lady Bird sharing a bathroom with her mother in their cramped abode, asking her when the right time to ‘do it’ is. Carefully weighing up how loaded this question is, Marion (Laurie Metcalfe) answers ‘College’. College is about right. She probably knows it’s all a little too late, but Lady Bird turns the conversation to her father, out of work and not coping well. This movie’s not just about being a teen, but about being lower-middle-class, and it’s for that reason, not her extroversion or her strong emotions or her ability to acquire more than one boyfriend, that I connected with Lady Bird. And it informs so much of her relationship with her mother. Neither her mother nor her father can give her a lot – they can give her love and good advice and try to set her up well for the future. You have to be an (early-series) Rory Gilmore angel-type to actually appreciate the sacrifices your parents make to give you a half-decent life, when you’re a teenager surrounded by kids with the shit you don’t have. This is perfectly encapsulated by Lady Bird and her best friend Julie, standing outside a fancy two-storey house, imagining their life inside it. A separate TV room. And snacks. Actually entertaining friends. Lady Bird’s shame about her neighbourhood, and her home, become a point of tension in her relationship with her Mum. And it’s not until you get a little bit older and wiser that you realise that even though all you want to do is give your kid more opportunities than you had, it still hurts like heck that the insecurity that’s part and parcel of being a teenager leads them to reject all the things you work hard to give them. That all they want to do is be somewhere else. Somewhere with the shine of glamour and intellectualism and maybe where they won’t have to shop in thrift stores. The heart of this tension is so incredibly real, and Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe bring so much to it that it made me want to call up my Mum.

If you’ve managed to catch I, Tonya, you know the flipside of this story. My forever crush Allison Janney plays Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona, tough-as-nails, and if she has a heart under there, it only shows in flashes. Whilst fighting for her opportunities, she essentially tries to scare Tonya (Margot Robbie, a revelation) in to achieving. It scars her and sets her up to see her entire life as a fight. Not a struggle. A fistfight. Marion gives Lady Bird some tough talk, but it’s done with a love that she can always recognise, will defend even in the middle of a fit of pique. She might be not believe it at the time, but it’s perfectly possible to be ‘scary and warm’, the perfect description for so many friend’s Mums that I want to go hug them all.

Part of coming-of-age is finding your people. Lady Bird handles the struggle of moving from childhood to adulthood and deciding what you want to keep perfectly. And it wasn’t really Lady Bird I connected with in this circumstance, but her childhood best friend Julie, neglected for the glamour of wealthier and cooler friends. Friends who wouldn’t touch the school play with a ten-foot pole. Because sometimes you end up being the friend who’s left behind. When our small-town grade of maybe 50 kids moved from primary school to a much bigger high school (although still very small in the grand scheme of high schools), my tall, beautiful, blonde, much more extroverted best friend of several years was swept off to the popular group, who liked me about as much as I liked them, which is to say not at all. She and I were never unfriendly, but drifting apart and being the friend who’s left behind sucks (although this is not a tale of woe…the group I eventually settled in, my people, the nerds, handed me the best friend I still have now). And this is such a real experience of being a teenage girl – shifting allegiances, shifting interests, while still feeling the strong bonds that no-one who’s never been a teenage girl can understand. No matter which position you’re in, you eventually have to decide what you fight to keep as you move in to being an adult.

I hope I’ve given Greta Gerwig enough credit for her script and directorial debut. A fitting love letter to her home town, the perfect encapsulation of a time (with a perfect soundtrack, hey there Dave Matthews), and a girl who’s allowed to be a bit of an asshole. This should win a whole bunch of Oscars, but I’m worried. That ‘I don’t get it’ reaction. Was it just the reaction of someone who needs their movies wrapped in a neat bow, lessons learned, no room for growth left in an 18-year-old character? Or do you have to have lived through it, to have your heart crash in to this film?

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‘Hello, Academy? I’m nailing it over here. Pay attention’

Victorian Values went to PAX Aus

Here from the depths of my PAX pox, I wanted to write a little about my second-ever PAX.  It’s a companion piece of sorts to Fake Gamer Girl, because once again I felt overwhelmingly welcomed in a community where I should feel like a complete intruder.

I didn’t push myself too hard this year, given that the con was wedged between two major deadlines at work, but I am proud of myself for actually making it inside the expo hall this year. Although not til Sunday, which meant I missed the gorgeous Nimble (who I met at the Dog Lover’s Show earlier this year) and Scarlett from Australian Working Dog Rescue, who were brought to PAX by the people behind Destiny. I was jealous of many selfies with the pups over the course of the weekend, not that I’m bitter or anything.

For me PAX kicked off for the second-year running with co-op drinks, organised by Jason Imms, which has both been a great social kick-off and vague ruiner of weekend, as neither time have we managed to leave before the bar closes. Co-op drinks for me could be renamed to Do I Recognise That Person Off Twitter? Uhhhhhh I Don’t Know What To Do I’m Horrifically Socially Awkward Drinks. But nonetheless it is an opportunity to meet and catch up with a bunch of Sydney people from my wider social circle and I would probably continue to sneak along to co-op drinks even if I wasn’t attending PAX. Good god, am I gamer yet?

First thing I did with my vaguely-hungover arse on Saturday was plonk it down at a panel. This year The Great Debate was on Watching People Play Games Is More Fun Than Playing Them, with Ally McLean, Burnie Burns and Jesse Cox playing ‘for’ and Rae Johnston, Lawrence Leung and Jordan Raskopolous playing ‘against’. And Liam Esler attempting to act as general chaos manager. As neither a gamer nor an enthusiastic watcher I wasn’t sure what side I’d come down on, but Rae really convinced me of the legal pitfalls of staring through someone’s window.

One game I found insanely fun to watch at the AGPN Presents: Partymode panel was Nidhogg II (I think, please don’t hurt me anyone. How many games can there be about being eaten by a giant worm???). It had the crowd roaring and possibly rooting for the giant chopping machine to chew up to contestants.

I spent most of the next two hours after this event just shitting bricks about our own Let’s Play Some Bad Dating Sims panel. I was so lucky to be on the panel with a bunch of lovely ladies who did not seem to be worried at all – Tegan, her co-workers from Allure Media, Hayley and Amanda, and the wonderful other Katie Steggy, who when she ordered a burger to be delivered to the stage made me feel sure that everything was going to be a-ok. Being an anxious weirdo I’d turned up at the panel room early, and got to see the line growing and growing until about ten minutes before we were due to start, we were told the queue for our panel had been capped. So I guess we worked out where all the people who weren’t out drinking or at the Saturday night concerts were. We had a lovely, enthusiastic crowd who made me feel incredibly welcome despite admitting to being the token non-gamer, and who really got in to audience participation, which was delightful. And the panel was such fun for me. Tegan had asked us to research and pitch a dating sim to play, and mine was Panzermadels. I don’t want to spoil it too much except to say that the concept is a boy who thinks he’s going to learn about military warfare ends up at a school filled with WWII tanks that look like Japanese schoolgirls. We ended up playing the sim for the entire panel and spoiler alert, I did not spend money on this game, so our run-though was my first experience of it (a few audience members were happy to admit they’d played it!) and it was just…a real eye-opener. Shout-out to Hayley for her voice acting as our main character Erwin Lemmor (yep….that’s Rommel spelled backwards).

Here’s a photo stolen from Tegan’s Twitter, I suspect taken by Rae!

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Because when you think ‘bad’ you think Comic Sans – nice one Tegan.
(additional shoutout to Alex for clicking buttons for us so we could just mock the game)

And from the other side, terror looks a bit like this:
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Because I skipped the insane idea of more drinking on Saturday I was able to haul in to the convention centre at a reasonable hour on Sunday – note, yes, it’s nice when cons are on in your city, but trying to motivate yourself to commute in to the CBD from where you can actually afford to live for the seventh day in a row is not the easiest thing in the world. First I decided to learn about Making Names In Games from Seamus Byrne, Rae Johnston, Jesse Cox, Holly Conrad and Ashley Jenkins. Partly because my friends were still getting breakfast, partly because this is obviously important stuff for me to learn because I am clearly going to be a big Name In Games.
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Also, I actually played a game! I entered the expo hall with some trepidation – holy mother of god, that front area is noisy – and poked my way back to PAX Rising where the indie games live. Partly to visit my pals at Inflatality, who had just released their game on Steam and had an enthusiastic crowd wanting to play, and partly because I really like seeing the creativity and visual aspects of these games. I may not be a gamer, but I’m still a huge effin’ huge nerd with a communications degree. I can appreciate. Once I met up with Alex and Tegan she managed to tell multiple people that I’d really enjoy the new Orwell game because I’m great at internet stalking. While this is absolutely true, I played the game and I sucked pretty bad, needing the developer to stand behind me and offer hints (and straight up cribbing off Tegan). Very interesting reflection on the current political environment, that one! Anyway, it was really nice to meet lots of friendly faces and exhausted devs at PAX Rising. I hope you’ve all got cracking on sleeping for a week, because you’re the real MVPs.

As expected, there were heaps of panels I would have liked to have seen, and people I would have liked to have caught up with, but I hope PAX is never extended beyond three days. Because I am 31 years old, and I will die. Stay tuned for my ‘Tinder is totally a mobile game’ thesis, and see you next year.