The Footy

A few Sundays ago I decided to watch Australian rules football for the first time. As a complete amateur, all I knew about this game previously was that a) it looks a lot like rugby and b) them Aussies like their footy. Cold-blooded creature that I am, I was curled up on the sofa underneath heaps of blankets moaning about the fact that I will not be comfortable for a single minute throughout this devastating Melbourne winter. That being the situation, I had no choice but to turn on the television as any activities requiring me to surface from the mound of couch blankets were obviously not feasible. Lo and behold, Sunday is the perfect day to become acquainted with football, which I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

The game had yet to begin when I switched it on, so I got to enjoy what I found to be distinctly amusing opening activities. For one thing, there were a bunch of people dressed up in Star Wars Stormtrooper outfits standing appropriately stoically in the middle of the field. This mystified me. Then I chuckled a bit as a very old-fashioned song about tigers played while the Richmond Tigers ran about the field in a stunning display of physical fortitude. Really, they were running unreasonably fast considering that the game had not even started yet. Don’t they need to save some energy for the game? My housemate asked me why I was giggling somewhat maniacally and I told her about the inexplicable Stormtroopers. “It’s May 4th,” she said. “You know. May the 4th be with you?” I was delighted to learn that this is a thing.

I got bored of the opening festivities and started to check email, another activity that I can do with almost every inch of my body covered by a blanket except for one brave, exposed hand. Typically, the game had been under way for about five minutes before I noticed it had started. This reminded me of a Red Sox game I went to with some equally sport-ignorant ladies in which none of us noticed the game had started until it was the bottom of the second inning. We were enjoying the atmosphere and presumably chatting about boys.

First of all, I don’t understand the rules. Like, I don’t understand if it is possible to foul someone in this game. It is so unbelievably physical that it’s hard to imagine what these players can’t get away with. So far I haven’t noticed any of them outright punching or kicking each other, so maybe those actions are off limits. Something has to be. Actually, I feel cheated that no one has been punched or kicked yet. When I go to a real-life game I’ll make a point of shouting “Punch him!” to helpfully remind the players what the crowd is really there for.

Secondly, as noted by Jackie Jormp-Jomp, who has just recently developed into a rabid footy fan for the following reason, footy players are seriously doing all right in the body department. It appears to be a requirement that you must be gorgeous in order to play. This is in stark contrast to American football, in which it is required that 80% of a team be built like tubs of lard, in order to effectively block the tubs of lard on the opposing team. Perhaps it is offensive to compare them to lard, but I feel that it is quite illustrative.

Third, the field is fucking huge. These players must be in very good shape to not only be knocking each other about for an hour but also to be doing this while repeatedly running up and down the length of this enormous fucking field. Also, the field is sort of shaped like a football. Does this count as meta?

After the game ended, I was left with more questions than I had to begin with. How do you score? Who is allowed to score? Why does that one team have so many more points than the other? How are most of the players still standing? This one footy viewing experience tells me that the participants are slightly more respectful than hockey players, but I find this suspicious. The overall vibe is very hockey-esque. I’ll expect more bloodshed and amusingly old-fashioned team entrance songs at my next football venture.

Advertisements

Music I

Ask people to name one thing they can’t live without and an astonishing number of them will say music. If I had my goddamn copy of A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman I could quote something gorgeous and insightful and relevant that her research uncovered about people and music, but I left it in Chico. (This is the first time I’ve ever moved anywhere without it, and suitcase space has never seemed less important than now. I feel naked without this volume, and not in a fun way.)

 

As I type this I’m listening to a popular Australian band, which is actually proving pretty distracting. I’m one of those people who enjoy listening to music (or a variety of background noises, like those provided in your hopefully friendly neighborhood coffee shop) while working. But pulse-pounding, makes-me-feel-alive music probably isn’t the right choice when trying to complete focused activities. But for some reason I just can’t turn it off. It will be right there waiting when I get back to it, exactly the same as I left it – ready to be enjoyed and rediscovered all over again for the umpteenth time. But there is something enormously compelling about music that is nearly unmatched by other experiences. And this is a nearly universally occurring phenomenon. Nietzsche famously said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” It’s a sentiment understood by many.

 

Not everyone shares this seemingly universal delight, however. Vladimir Nabokov, for one, had an almost inhumane lack of regard for music. While Nabokov’s characters did not (one would hope) share his own traits without fail, some of them shared his bemusement with the art. Humbert Humbert’s suffering surely was not eased by poor Lolita’s taste in music. No character in this particular novel really enjoys good music at any point, though H. does employ “the words of a foolish song which was then popular” in order to “hold her under its special spell” as he attempts one of his early molestations. The only references are to the sort of musical drivel that illustrates Lolita’s simple common interests with other children of her age. Really, the only music present in the book at all is presented as being objectively bad. 

 

On the subject, Nabokov explained, “I have no ear for music, a shortcoming I deplore bitterly. When I attend a concert – which happens about once in five years – I endeavor gamely to follow a sequence and relationship of sounds but cannot keep it up for more than a few minutes.” There seems to be something horribly unjust about one of the world’s greatest artists, a Russian-born writer who used the English language to beautiful and astonishing effect, missing out on what most of us see as such a compelling, soul-shaking and even vital experience. Nabokov, too, thought it unjust, but mainly because he was aware that his own son was an objectively fine singer and felt it was unfortunate that he could not appreciate his talents along with the rest of the world. Of course, as with any taste, those who do not have the capacity to appreciate something will never quite know what they’re missing. “I am perfectly aware of the many parallels between the art forms of music and those of literature, especially in matters of structure, but what can I do if ear and brain refuse to cooperate?” Nabokov said. Those among us who live and breathe music may be even more saddened and bemused by his continuing statement: “But I have found a queer substitute for music in chess – more exactly, in the composing of chess problems.” Whatever, Vlad.

Lazy Sex

(Apologies to relatives; this post is about exactly what you would expect.) 

I was going to be fancy and write about some art exhibits I’ve been to lately, but I had a conversation with my dear friend Jackie Jormp-Jomp the other day which got me going in a different direction, as so many of J’s personal thoughts do. She described a brazenly selfish sexual encounter in which some poor bastard (did I say poor? I meant lucky) “went down on (her) for a quite a long time”. As he emerged to receive what was surely his due after such ardent and selfless work, J promptly bid him good night, rolled over and fell asleep moments after her head hit the pillow. I enjoyed this story on its own for comedic value, but J wanted to know if I too were ever a practitioner of “lazy sex,” which, she fears, is starting to become all too routine with her. Finally, a woman who understands me. I’ve long assumed that everyone else I know is much more active and exciting than I when it comes to these matters; and my relative inactivity is, in large part, due to good old sloth, which also explains my aversion to completing the recommended weekly quota of vigorous exercise, or my inability to go to the supermarket when my cupboards are bare instead of just slinking back to the couch and having a hangry, half-hearted cry.

J and I continued to discuss/justify our laziness during a Skype call. (J lives in a frozen wasteland; I live in Australia. I’m winning.) “Why do all the work when they can?” we both agreed, and presumably stuffed popcorn or the like into our mouths while laughing in a self-satisfied manner. It goes without saying that we spend most of our time being single.

Despite our questionable self-congratulating, we were both genuinely interested in whether laziness in bed is something other people experience, and more importantly, what people think about it being practiced by their own partners. I thought I’d save J the research she was planning to do by investigating myself – and by investigating, I mean googling the words “lazy sex.” I was actually surprised by the results. You can try it yourself – not only do the top ten results NOT vilify the lazy woman/man for not being exciting enough in bed, they actually encourage and enable laziness, offering some helpful tips and tricks to get what you want with scarcely a finger lifted. I find the glorification of both sloth and selfishness to be a particularly American pastime, but somehow I thought sex didn’t fall into these categories. Just about anyone you talk to is looking for more spice in the bedroom, not less. You know what you don’t hear often? “I really wish she’d just lie there and let me hammer away until I’m done.” Nonetheless, here are a few lazy sex tips from the annals of the Interwebz:

 

  1. Ian Kerner, sex therapist and vociferous man-about bed, is actually a proponent of lazy sex given the right circumstances. He advocates the “Lie & Lift,” which honestly sounds like too much work given its title, and is in fact solely designed so that the woman is the one relaxing/just lying there while the man does all the work. This sounds familiar.
  2. Other advice concerns a more equal opportunity approach to lazy sex, namely side-by-side masturbation. Sex is no laughing matter, yet…I can’t help but imagine two sad, exhausted people lying side by side and staring at the ceiling as they half-heartedly masturbate. This is probably not what the advice-givers meant, but I still like it.
  3. One article, in describing the “flat spoon”, cautioned its readers that this position may induce napping.

 

It’s worth noting that “lazy sex” isn’t all about selfishness, as Jackie would have you believe. A lot of it simply boils down to preference. Regardless of all the statistically validated information out there about which positions actually “work” for the average woman, I’ve talked to many a gal who finds variations of missionary more than satisfying. Conversely, some of the supposedly tried-and-true (and incidentally active) positions don’t offer much bang for their buck for some people I spoke to. Sex should always be about pleasure. (Now is not the time to bring up procreation, but I will anyways, because anyone who is pretending that that is what sex is about is wrong 99% of the time.) The level of energy output necessary to achieve this pleasure is different for everyone. Thus, not only does my blog not have a point, this individual article doesn’t either.

Another important distinction to be made is that between laziness (brought on by knackered-ness, boredom, routine, etc.) and actual lack of interest. It seems fair that people would equate a minimum of action with no passion, which could create a bigger problem than that caused by lack of variety in physical sensations. The important thing, as always, is communication with one’s partner and reassurance that just because you’re tired (or simply not into experimenting, those of you strange people out there who are like that) doesn’t mean you’re not into them.

Alternately…if you realize that your impression of a dead fish is in fact due to a lack of attraction, find yourself a new man/woman/doll/pillow/whatever. Hey, I’m not judging. I only judge some of the time, like in the previous paragraph when I mentioned people who don’t like to experiment and how weird I think they are.

I still think Jackie wasn’t the kindest lover during that recent humorous encounter, but I certainly had a good laugh about it, and considering that she is at her core an evil mastermind, I think she did too. It’s not like she ended up dating that guy or anything. Jane Austen once said it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an acrobatic and gravity-defying shag. If you’re feeling a little lackluster in the sex department, finding the right person might be all the energy lift you need. And don’t be ashamed if you find yourself being just a little bit lazy every now and then. All you need is the right kind of drug and you’ll be good to go. 

 

 

Animal Guilt

Walking home on this post-rainy night I started to feel very guilty again. Not because I’m not always as nice as I should be, or because I eat too much and too richly, or because I’m a privileged white person. (All right, starting to feel a little requisite guilt about that too now.) Tonight, my guilt comes because of the snails. They are so fragile and delicate and harmless. Whenever I see a snail, I think of two things. The first is about how peacefully it is living its small life, taking long lingering journeys to the gorgeous, ongoing feast that is the nearest garden. The second is that I’m very, very afraid that someone will step on it. Last night my fast-thinking pal saved a rain-uprooted slug from certain doom by relocating it from the footpath we were haphazardly traversing to a nearby garden. He saved a molluscan life that day. Tonight’s snail I left to his own devices. He seemed to have a plan.

            But it got me worried about all the times that I’ve probably unwittingly stepped on and crushed the life of a little snail. I know that most of you will say “for the love of Reason, it’s just a snail.” In some ways I don’t disagree with you. I get as irritated as the next normal-ish person when there is an animal rights activist on NPR asserting that the life of a chicken is equivalent in importance to the life of a small child. (True story.) But it is really something to consider the tranquility and rightful place of all creatures, even those who are small and not particularly cerebral. I don’t think slugs have vibrant inner lives or anything. But there is something compelling in their simplicity.

            I don’t experience guilt exclusively related to snails. That would be even more silly and discriminating than my guilt already is. My guilt extends to others of God’s creatures as well, not that I believe in God. (If that is a problem, don’t read the blog, I guess. But it won’t come up much. I don’t often reflect on things that don’t exist.) And, as with most types of guilt, it is completely useless. For one thing, I haven’t significantly lessened my carbon footprint despite awareness of impending environmental doom and such. It’d be good if I did, because not only do I like animals, I also have immense fondness for people.  I believe my singular case illustrates the fact that it is possible to like both animals and people. Some of my former animal sanctuary co-workers disagree, which I find humorous and misanthropic. Because I like both animals and humans, as well as plants for that matter (they are really pretty and beneficial and like the essence of life or whatever), I should really be doing more to be kinder to this wonderful Earth. I mean, I should probably be running the streets frantically screaming to anyone and everyone about just how goddamn dire our environmental situation really is. Because it’s so bad that it’s worthy of me screaming to strangers about. But, understandably, other humans would probably not listen to me at all if I did something like that. They might even try to have me sectioned out of the goodness of their hearts/fear for their own safety. Fear is a powerful and frankly reasonable motivator.

            Some of my guilt is more than just impractical sadness about accidentally crushing small creatures, or the far more weighty and serious concerns about destroying a world that, let’s face it, would be far better off without us pesky humans. Sometimes it’s about my own feelings and responses to things. In general, I feel guilty for being a bad person. When you apply my inexplicable nastiness to helpless animals, it becomes worse. Here are some examples.

            I don’t like birds. They are pure evil. This is a scientific fact. Another scientific fact is that it is only a matter of time before they effect a mass attack worldwide on people a la Hitchcock’s The Birds. They have been plotting this attack for some time now. Don’t ask me; ask the compassionate feathered friend who penned The Birds as a warning to humankind way back in 1963. We should have listened.

            I have less out-and-out hatred for felines, but negative feelings exist there nonetheless. For one thing, cats seem to always be scaring the hell out of me. I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose, unlike the crows who ganged up on, killed, and then ate a poor doomed pigeon right in front of me three days ago. The problem is that cats are just so good at creeping that I don’t know one is right next to me until it slightly moves a muscle or tilts its glinty-eyed head and suddenly alerts me to its presence when I am literally five inches away from its claws. My sudden awareness of very close proximity to cats often occurs on my nightly walk home from work, when I am already on edge due to a healthy fear of potential attackers. I say healthy, but in fact I am using the word healthy in the same sense that obese people in the southern United States describe themselves and their appetites. (Sometimes I am insensitive, and I enjoy the occasional stereotype. If this is also a problem, don’t read the blog.) At any rate, at least six cats a night terrify me with their (to me) sudden presence. Perhaps it is I who am the unwelcome intruder in their realm. After all, they are cats, and we all know that the main way in which cats contribute to feline society is by sitting perfectly still for 18 hours in a row 7 days a week. They are a very consistent breed.

            Since I like animals so much – though not cats or birds apparently; perhaps I am misusing the word “like”? – I will write more about them later. I assume that no one has the attention span for a piece of this length anyways. I know I don’t.