Politicians Eating Things.

This might just be because I’m currently in the midst of what can only be described as an atrociously potent hangover, where my sole purpose in life is to consume as many carbohydrates as humanly possible (for those of you playing at home, I’m doing a bloody good job of it thus far. This guacamole is delicious). But this has got to be more than a coincidence. I keep seeing photos of politicians eating things.

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It all started when the Guardian applauded Hillary Clinton’s “flawless” choice of a chicken burrito bowl from Mexican chain Chipotle while out on the campaign trail in Ohio. “It’s a fairly perfect order, when you think about it,” the article quoted. “You’re opting for chicken instead of beef, and don’t want that calorie-loaded flour tortilla, but you’re not so overly zealous as to get a salad.”

Upon Googling the topic further (it was clearly a very busy day for me), I soon discovered that not only had the Guardian considered the significance of Clinton’s burrito choice, but the Wall Street Journal too had commented on the “gastronomical symbolism” of Chipotle (deeming Taco Bell “more electorally savvy”), the New York Times analysed the calorie content of the meal, and CNN Money labelled the incognito lunchtime dash a “hip” symbol of her desire to “shed that outdated 1990s stigma.”

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Somewhat creepy CCTV footage of Hil ordering her burrito bowl.

Do we really need to read that much into what a politician decides to shove down their gob for lunch? No. Unless you’re the next potential leader of the free world, perhaps, but even still, the discussion of Chipotle semiotics is surely about as useful to society as the release of Kris Jenner’s cookbook (aka, not at all. One of the reviewers on Amazon said they’d rather buy a book from ISIS). From that moment forth, photos of politicians smacking their lips seem to be everywhere.

Take, for example, the news that British Prime Minister David Cameron ate a hotdog with a knife and fork while schmoozing with supporters at a voter barbecue. As the Huffington Post observed, the “‘I’m just like you’ campaign trail stunt backfired somewhat predictably, with Twitter exploding in a cacophony of piss-taking after noting the Prime Minister’s choice of dining implements.” Poor ol’ Dave became a posh lamb to the social media slaughter.

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But that was nothing compared to when incredibly unflattering photos of his opposition, Labour leader Ed Miliband, chomping on a bacon sandwich last year went viral. The image was so horrifically off-putting apparently even his advisors had to intervene after a few bites. Yes, Sandwich Gate is now so famous in his home country that the bacon sandwich incident has its own Wikipedia page. Apparently people do care what’s going into their guts (or at least what they look like when it happens).

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There is something to be said for leading by example, which is why another group of people definitely care about what politicians munch on when out in the public eye. In May 2012, the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a petition to stop President Obama, his family, and members of his Cabinet, from eating unhealthy foods while staging official photo ops after seeing him with a burger one too many times. Yes, a quick search uncovered many an image of Obama chowing down on treats, be it a hot dog at the basketball with David Cameron (man, that dude loves his hot dogs), cheeseburgers with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, or a cheeky ice cream on the sly. Indeed, it appears Obama is pictured eating burgers so often there’s even a blog dedicated to it. In defence of the petition, posing with a Big Mac does seem to go against everything Michelle Obama has worked for as part of her “Let’s Move!” health and fitness initiative (even if POTUS maintains his favourite food is broccoli). But is it really that enormous an issue for him to eat it in public?

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As much as many of us implore such fluffy stories polluting our media outlets, the reality is that with so many ready to pounce on and scrutinise a politician’s every move, you just can’t please everyone. People are always going to talk, particularly at a photo op. No doubt if Clinton was pictured sipping raw kale and chia seed smoothies everyday while out campaigning she’d be accused of being too healthy, or giving into the Paleo fad. But on the other hand, if Tony Abbott made a deal of ducking into Pizza Hut every couple of weeks (or, as he was recently, skolling beer in a pub), he’d be accused of making bad choices and promoting obesity. Still, it appears our political leaders would be wise to make a safe choice when in the presence of worldwide media, or at least save their junk food binge for the privacy of their own home. Oh, and perhaps steer clear of grotty bacon sandwiches, overly greasy burgers, or phallic-like foods, in the fear of viral internet memes or worse, sexual innuendo.

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I think that image probably speaks for itself. *Drops mic*

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The Love List: April.

When I was in high school, my best friend and I would sporadically message each other to demand an exchange of our latest newfound music obsessions. Both being colossal Francophone nerds, this usually entailed YouTube links to soppy Carla Bruni confections, peppered with the occasional Kelly Clarkson hit, Eskimo Joe power ballad, or obscure movie soundtrack. Despite our clear lack of music-hunting prowess (whatever happened to Eskimo Joe?), there was something so inexplicably comforting about listening to my friend’s suggestions. Because music is so flippin’ personal, corny as it sounds, getting a glimpse into what my galpal had on repeat  while cramming international studies homework seemed so intimate and lovely, like finally understanding the inner workings of her brain. What did she listen to in the dead of night? What made her want to dance? What made her run that much further? What wrestled into her veins, knifed her soul, and made her cry?

Currently studying postgraduate law, waist-deep in stiflingly horrendous administrative law cases; I’ve swiftly learnt that the world is a much brighter place when you have things to be inspired by. Life is so much better when you’re excited, whether that’s about the latest episode of Game of Thrones, a fancy ramen joint opening up around the corner, a new pair of tailored navy Topshop trousers (just me?) or the fact Tony Abbott ate an entire raw onion. With ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ being my little sparkly corner of the internet, I’d like to propose my new monthly venture, The Love List: a bite-size insight of what’s filling my belly, what’s pumping through my earphones, what’s filling up my ASOS shopping cart, and what’s keeping me sane. I miss sharing those songs with my friend, so it’s time to get the blogosphere involved. Surely if these things have jazzed up my month, they could pep up yours too. And if not, well, you might just get a decent New Yorker article out of it, or at least a half-arsed excuse to fangirl over Taylor Swift (actually, I retract that. Do you need a reason?).

Anyway, enough yacking. Herewith lies my list for March/April, a month of mid-term university assignments, theatre visits, and approximately 36873 Cadbury Easter eggs.

Song of the month:

Fronted by full-on musical legend Alexander Gow, Melburnian indie rock band Oh Mercy is way up there as one of my favourite groups of all time. I’ve been forever enamoured by their 2009 album ‘Privileged Woes’ (and follow-ups ‘Great Barrier Grief’ and ‘Deep Heat’ go down damn well on a Sunday afternoon) but something about their latest track release, Sandy, just makes me feel invincible (and okay, kind of sexy. Can I say that on here? Hi Mum!). I’d love to say Sandy makes me want to slap on red lippy and go flirt with a thousand Calvin Klein models in a darkly lit bar, but it really doesn’t. I just want to blare this track full blast while jumping up and down on my bed, screaming the lyrics in my underwear… 10/10 obsessed with this song, which is probably no surprise considering my crush on Alexander is currently reaching obscene heights, rivalled only by mid-2000’s Jake Gyllenhaal.

Media-gasm of the month:

A self-confessed media nerd, there is nothing like a stellar article, podcast or documentary to really get the inspiration flowing. This month it’s Alec Baldwin’s podcast, Here’s the Thing, hosted by WNYC and in association with Killer Content. Basically, Alec Baldwin’s voice is caramelised crack. It’s orgasmic. I could listen to him read the back pages of the Financial Review or the instruction manual of a hairdryer and still be head-over-heels. Surprisingly, Baldwin is a killer interviewer, and I really respect the idea behind the podcast- a focus on “intimate and honest conversations” with people that delve into how they got their careers started and what inspires them. For someone incredibly disillusioned with her degree at the moment, this is heavenly. I haven’t worked my way through all of them yet, but so far Lorne Michaels, Lena Dunham, Chris Rock and Kris Jenner (Bow down to the queen of momagers!) are standouts. Still, the best one to date has definitely been Kristen Wiig’s. Somehow, discovering that she spent a good part of her twenties working at Anthropologie makes me feel infinitely more okay with my life choices. I’ve linked it below in case you need a further excuse to procrastinate (you know you do).

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http://www.wnyc.org/story/197391-kristen-wiig/

Food of the month:

Hands down, the apple pie waffles at Mixed Business cafe (Clifton Hill, Melbourne). Ginormous, piping-hot buttermilk waffles with blistered, maple baked apples, crumbling pecan biscuit, covered in melting vanilla icecream. Who knew something could be better than Ryan Gosling naked, a binge-watch of ‘Girls’, and Solange Knowles’ wardrobe combined? Being a) lactose/fructose intolerant and b) possessor of a metabolism that operates at the speed of a snail on a peak-hour tram, I reluctantly resisted these babies, but my boyfriend devoured them in a matter of seconds.

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Oh, and with it being April, shout out to the literal hundreds of easter eggs I consumed in the space of 72 hours. Why can’t it be Easter all the time? Or at the very least, mini eggs should be available year round. I’m surprised there hasn’t already been a nation-wide rally, to be honest.

Fashion item of the month:

Despite now being unemployed and thus having a severe lack of fat stacks to burn, I stumbled across these Martha Jean earrings whilst perusing High St, Northcote last Saturday afternoon. How could a gal resist? A nifty price point, and a local designer? I mean, really, it would only be polite to buy one in both gold and black. Just doing my part to stimulate the economy. Thank me later, Joe Hockey.

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Cultural activity of the month: 

‘Cultural activity’ seems like such a wanky way to phrase it, but how else do you encapsulate plays/ gigs/ comedy shows/ concerts into the one category? Stay with me (or suggest a better name in the comments! Culture Club nearly won, but to be honest, I feel like this blog is jazzy enough without continuous Boy George references).

Anyway, being a Melburnite, I went along to see two comedians at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this month, Adam Hills’ ‘Clown Heart’ and Rich Hall’s ‘3:10 to Humour’. Rich Hall NAILED it. Man, when you get two hundred politics nerds in the room and then a comedian starts talking about gun control, you just know shit’s going to get real very fast. I also saw the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ on Monday night, but I’m not sure I’d recommend that, unless you like absurdist drama, an impending apocalypse, and not understanding anything you’re seeing.

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Inspiring person of the month:

Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and NYU law professor. If you’re a law student (and okay, even if you’re not), just watch his TedX Talk. The man is a walking legend. He needs no other introduction. I ordered his book ‘Just Mercy’ online, and plan to read it in approximately ten thousand years, when my trusts law professor will eventually stop giving me fifty-page cases to read every night.

Most Googled topic of the month:

Following on from my recent obsession with Bryan Stevenson, and in light of recent events concerning the Boston Bomber, my boyfriend and I have been completely fascinated with the death penalty in the United States. In particular, I was shocked to discover more about the botched execution of death row prisoner Joseph Wood in Arizona last year, and, following a bit of a gallop into the Internet hole, found myself on the Death Penalty Information Center’s website, accessible here. Being incredibly fortunate to live in a country where the possibility of state execution doesn’t hang over my head, I found the statistics regarding death penalty in the U.S. equal parts intriguing and horrifying, and was shocked to learn that California has the largest death row in the country (currently at a whopping 751 inmates, despite not having executed a single prisoner since 2006). Regardless of your beliefs (and heck, mine definitely reside in the anti-capital punishment territory), this topic is only becoming increasingly important, and, yes, one hundred percent Google-able.

(Coming close second: is Taylor Swift dating Calvin Harris? GUYS, serious question. They did look matey at Whole Foods. Okay, enough about that.)

Website of the month:

This month, what with a plethora of incredibly uninspiring uni lectures, I’ve been obsessed with the fashion blog of Ms Pandora Sykes: fashion writer, stylist and blogger. When I should have been giving my undivided attention to a case about mortgages, I’ve instead regularly perused the many inspired posts of this glorious English fashion maven. I could not be more in love with her chunky, fab coats layered with shirts, brogues, tights, and everything else under the sun- glitter, pom poms, piercings… And shout out to her use of the word ‘home slice’, which has now become an awesomely unexpected addition to my vocab (what’s up, home slice?)

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Movie of the month:

Now that I think about it, I’m fairly sure this is the only movie I’ve seen this month (does a Say Yes To The Dress marathon count?). Very late to the party, but I watched Interstellar on the weekend, while lying in front of a fireplace eating taramasalata and pita in my pyjamas on a Saturday night (yo don’t hate the playa, hate the game, baby). I’m equal parts amazed and totally freaked out by space, and this movie only intensifies both those emotions. Moreover, it’s the first movie I’ve seen that’s officially part of the “McConnaissance“, and dang, the dude’s got downright talent. I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy chick by any realm of the universe (ha! See what I did there?) but I didn’t snooze off or even check my Instagram during the entire film, which is basically like climbing Everest: it’s BIG. But what I love more than anything else about the movie? It reminded me that at the end of the day, we’re all here on this tiny little unique planet, spinning around a slowly dying sun in an infinite universe, a tiny speck within the concept of time. And suddenly… whether Taylor Swift is dating Calvin Harris doesn’t matter anymore. You feel insignificant, but in a way that is oddly comforting, not isolating- like you’re part of a wider narrative.

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(Okay, just kidding. Whether they’re dating TOTALLY matters).

Well, that’s clearly enough ranting for one day. I’ve got all that #inspo off my chest and now I’m as happy as a clam, ready to perve on what you’ve been loving this month too. Share below if you please! There’s always time to procrastinate. And hey, if you’re Alec Baldwin… call me.

Eurovision 2014: Holograms, Wind Machines and Rising Like a Phoenix.

Grab the Kleenex, dear friends. Find a strong shoulder to cry on. Hold my hand. Yes, it’s true. The 59th Eurovision Song Contest is officially over for 2014. I know, I know. It’s tragic. I’m already having hairspray withdrawal symptoms.

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This year held in Copenhagen, Denmark, the only way to describe Eurovision for those who have not yet seen it is that it’s basically European Idol on steroids. What contest is complete without pyrotechnics, human hamster wheels, fire, and costumes that look like the entire cast of Wicked threw up on them? Think wind machines, glitter, and hairstyles that well and truly belong behind the Iron Curtain. With competitors from 37 countries (and viewers from countless more- hellooo Australia), Eurovision is entwined with the underlying complexities of EU tensions, all culminating in one lucky country being awarded the coveted Eurovision trophy. It is hilarious, daggy, and unashamedly fabulous.

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Last year, more than 180 million people worldwide tuned into the extravaganza, then held in Malmo, Sweden. With this weekend’s spectacular arguably the most talked about in its nearly 60-year history, and some cracking best moments, viewing audience records are expected to be smashed like the Berlin Wall. More than ever, Aussies have claimed the contest as our own, with our debut performance at intermission care of the gorgeous Jessica Mauboy.

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Although touted as a non-political musical contest that unites all of Europe through power ballads and fake eyelashes, this year it seems current events just couldn’t be left in the wings. Indeed, the tension between Ukraine and Russia remained the enormous, bumbling elephant in the stadium. It rose to a ferocious climax when the Russian entrants, the Tomalchevy Sisters, were audibly booed during both the semis and the grand final voting. The 17-year-old twins began their song “Shine” with interconnected ponytails that resembled a faux umbilical cord, and spent most of their time on stage on a giant seesaw. Crooning “living on the edge, closer to the crime, cross the line, one step at a time… maybe there’s a day you’ll be mine,” you don’t have to be Henry Kissinger to interpret their lyrics as mirroring the invasion of Crimea and Russia’s territorial ambitions in the former Soviet Bloc.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian songstress Mariya Yaremchuk and her somewhat ironically titled song “Tick Tock” was accompanied by a guy in a human hamster wheel and some pretty impressive hair extensions blowing in the wind machine breeze. Maria stressed the song was free from political intentions. Well, with lines such as “my heart is like a clock, you wind it with your love”, it probably was. Still, controversy arose when organisers revealed that Crimea’s Eurovision votes were counted as Ukrainian because their tallies were based on existing national telephone codes. And, for those playing at home, Ukraine beat Russia by one spot- the feuding nations coming sixth and seventh respectively.

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Not to be overshadowed, the 35 other Eurovision entrants arrived at Copenhagen’s B&W Hallerna stadium armed with plenty of conversation-starters.

21-year-old Danish crooner Basim belted out “Cliché Love Song” to his home crowd, all about falling in love with a lesbian. Slovenia’s entry consisted of a woman dressed like an evil Disney character, armed with a jazz flute, while Romania’s featured a 30 second hologram of their singer Paula, uncannily resembling a fourth Kardashian sister. Greek band Freaky Fortune’s “Rise Up” was said to inspire the disgruntled Greek youth into rebellion and revolution, but really appeared an excuse for men in tight pants to jump up and down on a trampoline. Belarus’ entry “Cheesecake” was not so much an ode to baked goods as it was lead singer Teo berating his ex-girlfriend for calling him her “sweet cheesecake”. Often referred to as the European rip-off of Robin Thicke, his dance moves were a little more Backstreet Boy, and perhaps served best in moderation.

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Poland’s sexed-up, saucy “We Are Slavs” consisted entirely of washerwomen, boobs, butter churning, boobs, traditional dancing and, well, boobs. This might explain why the video has been viewed over 43 million times on YouTube, and why UK voters ranked the Polish performance number one. Apparently, nothing says Europe like a busty milkmaid.

 

Crowd favourite, Swedish singer Sanna Nielsen, warbled beautifully, but may need some English lessons after key chorus line “undo my sad.” But the sad was truly undone for tiny Republic San Marino, who got a little emotional after finally qualifying for the final after four failed attempts and two withdrawals for financial reasons, having only participated in the contest since 2008. It was entrant Valentina Monetta’s third time at Eurovision, and, with a population only three times larger than the actual crowd at the Copenhagen stadium, questions have been raised as to whether there are actually any other singers in San Marino who could enter.

Yes, it appeared that the theme for the night was well and truly one of acceptance. Proudly known as a gay icon, the Eurovision Song Contest stood as a strong statement against Russia’s anti-LGBTI laws, Copenhagen swarming with pride flags and expressions of tolerance.

“No Prejudice”, sung by Icelandic band Pollapönk, saw members looking like the Wiggles on LSD, in suits every colour of the rainbow, and a member of their own parliament on background vocals. “Being middle aged, heterosexual, white men makes us a majority group and we believe that we should use this opportunity to point out the injustice in the world,” the band, who are mostly pre-school teachers by day, told Gay Star News. And what was behind their decision to rock dresses on the Eurovision red carpet? One member replied simply, “it’s very comfortable to wear, and I feel sexy.”

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But the resounding highlight of the night indisputably went to the winner of the Contest for 2014, Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst. With her cascading locks, piercing eyes, enviable figure, and bushy brown beard, Conchita wowed audiences internationally with her rousing rendition of “Rise Like A Phoenix”, widely touted as a genuine candidate for the next Bond theme.

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25-year-old Conchita is no stranger to controversy. Following the announcement of her candidature last year, a 31,000 like-strong “Anti-Wurst” Facebook campaign began, and, in October, Belarus’ Ministry of Information called for her performance be edited out of their Eurovision broadcast, deemed a “hotbed of sodomy.” Russia and Armenia launched similar petitions against her televising. The leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party even asserted that Conchita showed that the Soviet army made a mistake in freeing Austria from occupation fifty years ago. Wow.

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Still, Ms Wurst, born Tom Neuwith, clearly didn’t allow politics to rain on her spangly parade. Her “Phoenix” anthem, an ode to those struggling with identity and discrimination, was heralded a grand success and, last night, secured the first Eurovision victory for Austria since 1966 with a win of 290 points. More importantly, Conchita’s tears of shock and heartfelt thank you’s saw her winning hearts all over the world. “I hope we can change just a few minds,” said René Berto, Wurst’s agent. “It is just a lady with a beard. But it is like we have landed on the moon.”

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First published in Farrago Magazine Online

Met Gala 2014: Power Couples Edition.

 Laters, Easter Sunday. Adieu, ANZAC Day. Sayonara, Santa and your sleigh. The month of May is officially the best time of the year. This Monday should have been declared a public holiday.

And why? Well, it’s all about the Met Gala, of course.

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Chaired by none other than Ms Anna “Ice Queen” Wintour, the Met Ball fundraises for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Regardless, it essentially remains an excuse for the rich and famous to get primped, primed, and totter around on the red carpet sporting cheeky leg reveals and awkward leans. It’s a similar scenario every year. Twitter goes cray cray. Instagram practically explodes. Die-hard celebrity watchers such as myself attend uni lectures instantly refreshing websites waiting to glimpse the latest look. What do you mean, I’m meant to function as a productive human being today?

So, naturally, when we think of the Met Gala, we think faaaaaaaahhhshun.

We think oozing glamour, frenzied paparazzi, high-end, suck-your-belly-in, this-dress-cost-more-than-your-house-and-your-car-and-your-two-kidneys type outfits. Last year, the theme was “Punk: Chaos to Couture”. Cue studs, tartan, black leather, and the internet self-combusting over some seriously entertaining gifs of Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Sarah Jessica Parker and her fauxhawk.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

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There we go. That woman just might be my soulmate.

The ball had a decidedly vintage feel this year, entitled “White Tie and Diamonds”, with a nod to couturier Charles James. Rumour has it Marc Jacobs wasn’t too pleased because it basically prevented him from rocking up to the ball in boxer shorts, as he famously did in 2012. Maybe next year, Mr Jacobs. Hang in there, pal.

Celebrities spend days upon days oohing and aahing over what fabulous attire they shall don on the style soiree of the year. And if shit really hits the fan, one or two might even encounter some serious issues on the day of the event.

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Oh Tay Tay. Miaaaaow.

I would love to say the highlight of the Met Gala 2014 was the frocks, jocks and socks. But that would be a complete and utter lie. It seems another accessory stole the show. A living, breathing, sweating and talking accessory.

No, not a Furby. Not Siri either. The must-have accessory was a partner.

Hollywood is no doubt insanely incestuous, with most VIPs pashing another at some stage. They’re all famous, I guess! And there’s nothing to make your heart flutter like bonding over photographers in the bushes snapping pics of you at Starbucks. But it seems 2014 is the year to fall head over heels, sport lovesick eyes, and walk hand in hand with a regulation hottie. Because nothing says fashion like a partner trailing three feet behind.

I hereby rename this year’s theme:

MET GALA 2014: POWER COUPLES EDITION.

Here are the top 10 power couples of the 2014 Met Gala, compiled by yours truly.

10. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield

As much as I’d love to give Spiderman and Easy A the top spot because I’m a loud and proud advocate of their relationship, they’re juuuust sneaking in. Yes, they’re power coupling up a storm. But serious points deducted for Emma’s Thakoon gown. It’s pretty, sure, but where’s the intrigue and detail and faaashun she usually rocks with flair and pizazz?!?! This just looks like very MTV Movie Awards circa 2004. Naht impressed, guyzzz. I was rooting for you! You owe me one for even being on this list.

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9. Charlize Theron and Sean Penn

Now I must say, this couple doesn’t do it for me (nor does Sean’s creepy mo). But you’ve gotta admit it. They basically define “power couple”. Can you imagine sitting down at a ball table and having them two lounging next to you, just casually leaning over you to pour some champers, or nibble on the complimentary bread? It’s nuts. Too much talent. Imagine the pillow talk.

Plus, Charlize looks bangin’ in that Dior gown. Damn, gurl. You classy.

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8. Chanel Iman and A$AP Rocky

Have I been living under a rock? Literally? Cos tell me if I have, dear blogger pals. But who in the dingin’ name of Hollywood is A$AP Rocky? Well, Chanel Iman’s main squeeze, apparently. She’s stunning the crowd, swathed in her Topshop threads. He’s clearly channelling Kanye West in this one, but I give him a free pass because, well, he’s a Grade A Babe. Mm, yep. Carry on, you two. As you were. I approve.

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7. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

Okay, so I hadn’t actually heard of this power couple until I saw the photos on Vogue. And then their adorable photo published on Humans of New York. Holy shiet on toast, they are adorable! High five, John, for scoring that babe. Chrissy Teigen, you may have reached new girl crush status with that insane Ralph Lauren creation and infectious Colgate smile. Stone cold fox. May you both create ten thousand beautiful children.

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6. Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson

Waahhhhh. The Jason Wu attire. The cream jacket. The classy hairstyle. The mysterious, “we’re better than you and we know it” eyes. This, right here, is the definition of perfection. REALLY.

Don’t believe me? Grab your nearest Oxford Dictionary. Look up the word ‘perfection’. See this picture? Yep. Good. Told you so. That is all.

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5. Victoria and David Beckham

Say what you will, you just can’t go past Posh Spice and the Becks. I kind of adore this look. His hair. Her hair. His tailored suit. Her tailored gown. The complimentary black and white tones just scream “Remember our matching outfits in the 90’s?!?!” and it’s fabulous. Yes I do, guys. Yes I do. Adopt me?

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Aaaand just for the mems:

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4. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

This appears to be a far more restrained look than last year, where Kim somehow accidentally wore her couch. Kanye is KILLIN’ that Lanvin suit. He needs to wear it again. Not that he would ever outfit repeat (perish the thought, what dingus would do that?). But dang, those tails make him look suaver than Sinatra. Uh-huh, honey.

Kim too looks like a legit goddess (albeit a very safe, fail-proof one, can’t go wrong with a gown like that). As if she has had a baby not so long ago?! Defying gravity with those legs, I’ll say that much. Kris Jenner must be wetting herself with pride, particularly when coupled with Kendall’s debut on the red carpet that pretty much paralysed Instagram. How could you not love this? I mean, really. Tick!

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PS- Lest we forget:

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3. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

A controversial entrant into the Power Couples list! (Je suis vraiment desolée, Vanessa Paradis.)

Oui, fiancée Amber Heard, swathed in a stunning Giambattista Valli confection, may be a zillion years younger than Johnny. But seriously, the man’s just got swag. I mean, he’s got a cane and it doesn’t look ridiculous!! I repeat. JOHNNY DEPP USED A CANE. And it looks rad.

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2. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Finally! The enigmatic power couple hit the cameras! Eeeeeeeee. They look like something out of the Princess Bride, BUT IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. Blake is so flippin’ beautiful it brings tears to the eyes. She’s a woman! Goodbye Serena Van Der Woodsen!  Her hair is a cross between Marilyn Monroe and the Little Mermaid, and it is a match made in sartorial heaven. And yes, Ryan could probably impregnate me with his eyes (and beard).

Uggggghhh. Sweet Jesus. Their children will have the most goddang glorious gene pool.

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1. Beyonce and Jay- Z.

Obviously.

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Do I even have to elaborate? No.

And then that whole thing where Queen B dropped her ring and Jay put it back on? Funny, I thought Beyonce and I were best friends, but she didn’t text me about this? Bey, babe, that was cute. If you’re reading this, return my calls? xoxo

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Ahh, love is in the air in Tinseltown. It’s enough to make a grown gal cry.

Now to rustle up a cheeky US $25,000 for a ticket so next year I too can be power coupling with Ryan Gosling. Don’t worry, friends. I’ll tag you in the Insta.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Sochi 2014

It’s time. Dust off that mink coat, retrieve your finest Russian vodka, and switch on ye olde telly box, because the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have officially begun.

If you’re anything like me, Russian geography isn’t exactly your speciality, so allow me to enlighten you of the Olympics’ whereabouts. Sochi is a city in the Krasnodar Krai territory just north of Georgia, along the border of the Black Sea directly opposite Turkey. This city, which boasts a population of 400,000, is apparently so far removed from the icy throes of winter it is affectionately labelled the “Russian Riviera”, or the Florida of Russia. Famously remembered as the location of Stalin’s summer home, some news sources have even gone so far as to call Sochi “subtropical” and “balmy”. Temperatures rarely drop below 8 degrees Celsius, and at press time, there was no snow to be seen other than in the 500 faux snow guns specially imported from Finland. Yes, a seaside town seems a questionable choice for a Winter Olympics in an otherwise arctic Russia, particularly if it means Speedo’s could be involved.

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Still, who are we to judge? No doubt these Games will be spectacular, if its total expenditure of US$50 billion is anything to go by. President Putin is footing the bill of one of the costliest Olympics of all time, with brand spanking new infrastructure including the Fisht stadium,  rumoured at 14 times over its initial budget, and some highly fascinating double toilets. For the next ten days, we will watch as 6,000 athletes from 85 countries compete in 89 events and, according to CNN, consume 265,000 litres of Russian borscht in their Olympic Village. More importantly, we will see some outrageous uniforms that may make you simultaneously snort and cry (Norway, anyone?), and even the return of another Jamaican bobsled team, “Cool Runnings” style. We’ve already witnessed the Olympic torch being shot into space and completing a space walk, so no doubt future Games antics will be, well, out of this world.

Still, not everything about this Winter Olympics is as pure as the driven snow (oh yes, pun definitely intended). Russia’s recently adopted, draconian legislation banning gay “propaganda” to minors has been internationally criticized, with the global spotlight now shining on Russia’s LGBTQI community. With politically motivated social conservatism at a momentous high, things are unbelievably tough for gay and lesbian people in Russia right now. There are widespread calls for the criminalization of homosexuality, only encouraged by public figures, such as TV anchor Dmitriy Kiselyov, and growing anti-gay violence in city centres. As a result, it seems calls for boycotting the Winter Games have quite literally snowballed. 27 Nobel laureates have signed a letter demanding a repeal of the laws essentially denying homosexuality. A 200,000 signature strong petition headed by Amnesty International has condemned Putin’s new legislation ahead of the Games. Even the International Olympic Committee asked its Russian organizers last week to respect press freedom and freedom of speech during the event, when it comes to athletes speaking out about the controversial legislation.

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When coupled with the country’s already controversial political situation, threats of terrorism, and the 150th anniversary of the Circassian genocide, Putin may have hit a bit of an iceberg. Barack Obama, Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and David Cameron, to name a few, have announced they will not be attending the Games as spectators, citing the Kremlin’s anti-gay legislation as highly contrary to the Olympic spirit (China’s leader Xi Jinping will be attending, however- his third trip to Russia in just 12 months). While the United States is not withdrawing their team, Obama has made a statement of sending openly gay LGBTQI sportsmen along to Sochi. “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker,” he said in August.

None of this seems to be an issue, of course, because Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov has told the BBC in an interview that aside from foreign tourists, there are no homosexuals in his city (and don’t we all believe that?). Luckily, then, it appears no one will have the urge to protest at Sochi. But if they were to, surely any one of the 37,000 security officers deployed for the Winter Olympics could step in and, er, break the ice. Literally.

Thankfully, Russia’s horrific treatment of their gay and lesbian community hasn’t deterred too many athletes from going for gold. “I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I’ve done to get into the Olympics,” openly gay Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff revealed in a recent interview.  And she’s not too pleased with President Putin. “After I compete, I’m willing to rip on his ass,” she has said.

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This is the first time Russia has held a Winter Olympics, and it seems the event is already sending chills down some international spines. So, the expected global television audience of 3 billion waits with bated (foggy) breath for news of the shenanigans in the snowy city by the sea.

PS- The Russian Police seem a lot less terrifying in their choir’s rendition of Get Lucky. Just sayin’.

Neknomania.

I’m sorry, do we know each other? Uh, this is awkward. Let me reintroduce myself. Bonjour, I’m Phoebe, an absolute dorkface who has not partied it up in the blogosphere since a very mortifying August 2013.

I know what you’re thinking. Did aliens abduct me? Did I finally manoeuvre that life transplant with Beyonce? Did I fall into a newly discovered, Carrie Diaries-induced television coma? No, no, and … no comment. Deplorable excuses aside, I’m baaaack. I’m going to take you to the blogging candy shop. I’m going to let you lick my blogging lollipop (what? Okay, this metaphor needs to stop). Today’s temperature here in Melbourne is a blistering, brain-melting 44 degrees and it seems all my body can manage is to eat its weight in Frosty Fruits and type sweet lil nothings into the Internet’s ear.

Naturally, there have been a billion and two topics to discuss since August 2013: the treatment of asylum seekers, boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics, our brand spanking new PM, that disturbing fad of pairing Nikes with jeans to name a mere few. Most recently, Lena Dunham’s hipster baby Girls Season 3 was birthed to the world, and while I journo-gasm at the thought of a lengthy discussion about Hannah Horvath’s nudity, the last thing the Internet needs is another opinion on Girls. But what I have noticed as being the flavour of the month is neknomination,. Or, as I should write, #NEKNOM (#badass #yolo #haiboyz #etc).

The highly academic and trustable Urban Dictionary defines neknomination as

“a grand tradition, with origins dating back to Mesopotamian time, in which a neknominator has the honor (after posting a video of themselves sculling/chugging whatever alcoholic beverage the have available to them) of calling out or “#neknominating” in conjunction with a Facebook tag two others to sculling/chugging an alcoholic beverage. Scholars say the first of the modern era neknominations started with a naval officer in a submarine sinking to the bottom of the Mariana trench and with his last means of communication he had, he #neknominated Will Smith and The KFC Colonel. If you’ve got one, scull a BEER ya pussy.”

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine you will know exactly what this is referring to. If not, essentially, people are uploading a video of themselves chugging alcohol as fast as they can onto social media, then proudly tagging two other friends to do the same. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. I found this one quickly on ye olde Tube de You. It’s probably one of the most obtuse ones out there:

Yes, that person really exists. Now, I don’t like to think of myself as the kind of gal who would poop a party by hiding all the pina coladas, smashing an iPod dock pumping Jay-Z, or sitting on the birthday cake. It’s important to be pro stuff, not anti stuff. But I’m putting on the Granny pants for this one. WHY IS THIS A THING? I will fiercely defend my Generation Y co-people until the day I cark it, but this really is an insanely stupid trend that bears zero reason to even vaguely exist. Neknomination is concrete proof that Australia’s binge drinking culture is not just socially acceptable- it’s a social expectation. We can all sheepishly raise our hands and admit we’ve necked a bev or two as part of a drinking game with pals, or skolled the Kings cup one too many times, but boasting about it on social media just takes it to a whole new level where people seek validation for consuming alcohol. By “neknominating” somebody, this game suggests that drinking beer isn’t so much a way to treat or even socially lubricate yourself, it’s a way of showing that you are “man enough”. Chugging a beer no longer means skolling the rest of your glass quickly before the pub closes, or as an ultimate dare- it’s an assertion of masculinity, strength, and that highly-sought-after “cool” factor. What’s more, the process of tagging your friends to join in on this task on social media escalates peer pressure to such a humongous height that if someone resists, they’re not only shunned by their friends, but by the entire online sphere too. It’s not a harmless way to share a bev with your buds- it’s a fully-fledged competition. What did that Urban Dictionary definition say again? Oh yeah. “If you’ve got one, scull a beer ya pussy.”

It’s highly improbable that inhaling one lone beer will kill you, but when we put this game into the scale and context of Australia’s alcohol-worshipping binge drinking culture, it’s really not something that any of us should be endorsing. A couple of bevs after work followed by few hours of drinking games with the lads, then a drunken #neknom dare? That’s the kind of picture Neknomination paints for me here in Australia, not just one standard drink being consumed in lightning speed. In this way, a cheeky #neknom may easily lead to a range of seriously dangerous, drunken situations. Immediate issues of alcohol poisoning, choking on your own vomit, or even just the insanely painful hangover the next morning could make way for more concerning risks- the link between cancer and excessive alcohol consumption being just one of many. Having had to call an ambulance recently myself because a friend of mine got far too wasted and was having trouble staying conscious or communicating, I can tell you personally that getting obscenely drunk isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Health issues aside, what also comes to my mind with this neknomination trend is the number of unfortunate future consequences for all these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed beer chuggers. One can only imagine the kind of reactions potential employers might have when they stalk their candidate’s Facebook wall to make sure their lives are vanilla enough to be hired, only to find a year-old viralvideo of them chugging a beer alone in their undies, or while driving, or, as that seriously gross guy above was, to the applause of friends out of a toilet bowl (classy). Let’s just say the likelihood of that unhygienic lad getting that coveted position at KPMG might as well be flushed down the loo along with the Carlton they were trying to skoll.

It’s a pleasure to go out for a night on the turps in a dirty pub every once in a while, but this notion of competing with mates to neck as much alcohol as possible for the “glory” of the internet is just another byproduct of the increasingly destructive binge drinking culture we are immersed in. I’m not trying to be Senior Constable of the Fun Police here, but it doesn’t take a sip of an Asahi to see that this Neknomination trend is an embarrassment to all of us twentysomethings on this alcohol-marinated island we live on.

If that wasn’t convincing enough, how about a video of our former Prime Minister Bob Hawke doing a neknomination too? Yes. For real.

Really, Australia? REALLY?

Why you should boycott “Blurred Lines” on the dancefloor.

“I’m not sure you want it, perhaps I should buy you a drink and ask politely?”

 Not so long ago, Robin Thicke slimed his way onto my TV screen to lip-sync his latest single, Blurred Lines. I’d heard the catchy tune subconsciously while in the shampoo aisle of the supermarket, but this was the first time I’d really been given a chance to suss it out. Or rather, suss the women cavorting around him out. And by sussing, I mean perving on. And by cavorting, I mean gyrating saucily in undies sourced from the throw-out bin of Strippers’R’Us.

Since then, I’ve done some ye olde research into Mr. Thicke and his smashing single. Allow me to enlighten you on the general consensus: He sucks. He sucks, he sucks, he sucks. He is the peel in a hot cross bun. He is the dog poo smushed on your shoe the moment you leave the house.  He is the ginormous bulging pimple sprouted on a perfectly decent forehead the day of the school formal. Yes, much like Dorothy Mantooth, I would like to take Robin Thicke out for a drink and NEVER CALL HIM AGAIN.

Of course, Robin fiercely defends his controversial reputation. “I don’t want to be sleazy, I’m a gentleman… I don’t want to do anything inappropriate,” Robin told E! earlier this month. Because starring in a YouTube-banned video clip where powerless young women, topless and near naked, jiggle around two fully clothed men pouting, posing, making sex eyes, holding lambs, riding bikes, playing banjos, lighting cigarettes and imitating drug use is completely appropriate. Seriously, get Prince Charles and Camilla in on this and film it for The Family Channel. He’s practically Gandhi.

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I know I promised this blog wouldn’t morph into a raving soapbox, but hey, it’s my party and I’ll rant if I want to. So brace yourselves, gorgeous peaches. Herewith lie five reasons why I hate ‘Blurred Lines’.

1) According to the lyrics, apparently every woman on the planet has some intensely insatiable appetite for Robin Thicke. Just one quick Google and I immediately find this hard to believe. He looks like the kind of guy that would stand just a bit too intimately close to you on a crowded train. Like a sleazy Voldemort. Clearly Robin knows this, and therefore made the executive decision to display balloon signs in the background of his video clip that helpfully read, “Robin Thicke has a big dick”. The subtlety astounds me.

“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say, if you can’t read from the same page, maybe I’m going deaf, maybe I’m going blind, maybe I’m out of my mind.”

So in the opening verse, #Thicke is thrusting his testosterone all around the club and dragging his apparently monstrous penis up to a lady, but shock horror: his feelings aren’t reciprocated. What’s this? A girl isn’t openly interested in his sexual advances? Well flamin’ galah, something must be wrong here, clearly in the form of blindness or insanity. Cue Robin: “How the hell is this smokin’ piece of estrogen not attracted to my humongous genitalia?”

2) It attempts to persuade us Robin genuinely respects women. Who is he trying to kid? Every single aspect of the tune is unbelievably sexist.

Ok now he was close, tried to domesticate you… but you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature. Just let me liberate you, you don’t need no papers, that man is not your maker.”

Thank you, Robin, for that informative wave of assertions. It’s touching you believe a lady who doesn’t orgasm the moment she sees you needs “liberating”. It’s wonderful you’re a fanboy for Women’s Liberation, although that might raise a few eyebrows seeing as your idea of female freedom means a) reducing her to an “animal” and b) actively responding to sexual objectification. But you’re right, Robin. She’s clearly not a high-functioning human that can think for herself. Because she’s a babin’ lady, she’s suddenly gone all animagus on your ass and morphed into some sexy lion that spits on Suffragettes. Oh, but don’t worry, he defended this in a news article too.

Robin: “People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, “of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman.’”

Robin Thicke, everybody.

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3) ‘Blurred Lines’ completely endorses rape culture.

I’m gon’ take a good girl. I know you want it, you’re a good girl. Can’t let it get past me, you’re far from plastic, talk about getting blasted, I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it. But you’re a good girl, the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty, go ahead, get at me.”

Just so we’re clear here, these blurred lines aren’t, as Robin himself put it, “between men and women and how much we’re the same… and between a good girl and a bad girl, and even very good girls all have little bad sides to them.” There is NO WAY this song is about that. Show me a lyric where he discusses the similarities between genders! HA! I told you so. No, these blurred lines clearly refer to the inner conflict a man struggles with when a lady friend is gyrating against him and he feels he has the right to bang her even though she’s not outwardly suggesting it. Essentially, that ol’ chestnut of when a girl says ‘no’ but you’re sure she means ‘yes’.

By continuously whispering “I know you want it” in the ear of a lady, Robin isn’t exactly the poster boy for sexual consent. There is no such thing as a blurred line of approval- if you’re not sure someone wants it, that’s not unclear, that’s a definite no-go zone. Particularly if a girl is so “blasted” (read: off her face drunk or high) she cannot be responsible for her own decisions. Imagine if a guy came up to you in a bar murmuring that while your actions suggested otherwise, deep down he knew you wanted to party in his pants all night long. I would probably hide in the bathroom for the rest of the night screaming bloody murder and finding a way to escape out the tiny window above the loo. Unwanted attention,  harassment and forcing yourself on a woman is not something to play around with, nor is suggesting “taking” a submissive and unwilling “good girl”.

4) His lyrics are the laziest stinkin’ guts.

Hey, hey, hey you wanna hug me? Hey, hey, hey, what rhymes with hug me?

Erm, Shakespeare called, he wants the entire English language back.

PS- Bug me, tug me, dug me, lug me, drug me, mug me, unplug me.

5) The song openly endorses sexual violence.

One thing I ask of you, let me be the one you back that ass to, yo from Malibu to Paris, boo, yeah had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you. So hit me up when you passing through, I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that, so I just watch and wait for you to salute. But you didn’t pick, not many women can refuse this pimpin’, I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me.

Nothing about this rap by T. I is okay. It is not okay to joke about ripping somebody’s butt in two. That’s not hot. That’s not suggestive. That’s not funny. That is glamourizing violence against women, be it sexual or otherwise. If a girl is into S&M and enjoys getting her hair pulled or butt smacked, that’s fine. Whatever floats her bedroom boat. But not without consent, which is clearly overlooked in favour of what these men assume a dirty dancer would want, or what every “good girl” must secretly desire. And by these men, I refer of course to “pimpin’” “nice” guy that isn’t actually nice “if you get with me” and collectively refers to his past girlfriends as a “bitch”.

While we’d probably all raise our hands and admit the beat of Blurred Lines is pretty easy to disco to, there is nothing sparkly about its message. Granted, there are more examples of female objectification in music than there are grains of sand in Hawaii. Still, Thicke’s latest tune displays him to be such a ginormous bonehead it seems this one takes the sexism cake, for 2013 at least. Its undertones aren’t so much misogynistic as they are horrifically creepy and, well, “rapey”, as some journalists have previously remarked. Sure, Robin admires the female body. But instead of commenting on a lady’s curves or her brains or her big blue eyes, his song calls for making an unwanted advance on the dance floor and then tearing her ass in two. Lovely. No man should ever assume a woman wants “it”, yet the idea of consent is so far from Blurred Lines it may as well have left the Milky Way and found extra-terrestrial life in another galaxy. So the thought of college boys all ‘round the globe fist pumping to this chorus while impressionable tweens reapply their red lippy with the hopes of a disco pash makes me want to stab myself in the face with a samurai sword. But hey, at least we all can sleep easy knowing Robin Thicke has a big dick.

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I rest my case.