Tag Archives: Issue 24

Inspiration: Quotes

30 Jun

A slightly different post this Sunday, one that doesn’t intend to discredit the power of the inspirational quotes and postcards people make [and occasionally end up on this blog] but to encourage thought as to whether they work or not.

After reading a friends recent blog post about the subject it got me thinking. The internet is full of these little pictures – simple text overlaid on a pretty image – are we seeing so many of them that they no longer mean anything? Do we just see it as another short term moral booster or as a long term goal? Maybe I’m having some form of existential crisis and I don’t know it yet.

Have a look at Helen’s post at Journey to Liberty’s and see what you think – it makes for interesting reading and she’s far more eloquent than I am!

After this I feel that I can’t leave you with nothing, so here’s everyone’s favourite calming manatee.

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image from here

Until next time,

Daisy

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Stuffed in the Fridge and Wrapped in Plastic

28 Jun

(Spoilers for Dexter and The Dark Knight below)

Young women frequently turn up dead in fictional media whether as the victim of the week in a police procedural or whether she is a long time characters sacrificed for another’s development. It is an easy option for many writers to evoke a reaction from the audience and drive the story.

It comes down to the vulnerability that we perceive in a young (almost always white) woman with an air or innocence and virginity. In many shows it transpires that this may not be the whole truth. Twin Peaks‘ Laura Palmer is a typical example of this, the prom queen who snorts coke and hangs out with demons. Nonetheless she is a complex and ultimately sympathetic character, especially compared to other examples where the dead body is there to be both mourned and fetishised in equal measure.

On police procedurals where it is a quick way to engage the audience’s attention but there is rarely enough time in each episode to get them to fully empathise with the character. She is reduced to being a body, usually one that has been subjected to horrific abuse. Laura Palmer undergoes a shocking ordeal before she dies but because she is the entire focus of the storyline we see her beyond the role of the victim. As Sady Doyle writes in her recent article “The Violently Killed Femmes”:

The dead-girl shows that succeed care about who she was before she died. And they allow her to be more complicated than she appears. Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer, Veronica Mars’ Lilly Kane: Each of them, at some point, started talking back. And the first thing they did was to call bullshit on the symbolic meaning that had been hitched to them and start creating their own.

Laura herself is ever present through the dialogue and actions of other characters. Even though she is dead she is still engaging and important to the plot for reasons beyond her status as a victim. Reading Doyle’s article was interesting, as Anita Sarkessian has recently released the second episode in her Women vs. Tropes series which deals with similar issues:

In this video Sarkessian talks about variations on the Damsel in Distress trope, including the Women In Refrigerators trope that typically sees a female character killed in a particularly horrible way to provide motivation or development for a male character. Often young murdered women are used in this to provide motivation for a male character to either get revenge or avenge her death. Examples include Rita on Dexter being murdered by the Trinity Killer and therefore providing Dexter with a character arc in the following series, Rachel Dawson in The Dark Knight is blown up by the Joker to give Batman something to angst about and then come back from in the next film, plus every revenge film ever made.

It’s a cheap and degrading gimmick and as Sarkessian makes clear in her video, it would be ridiculous to suggest that no women should ever die in media but how and why they die is important to the representation of these characters.

About the writer: Sarah is a filmmaker and writer with an obsession for luscious visuals and a distain for tomatoes (they are a sneaky and untrustworthy foodstuff). If she’s not blogging or tweeting, she’ll be watching films or running around with her video camera.

A Piece Of Cake

26 Jun

I promised myself to cook more and maybe even start baking. At the end of the day, it is a creative outlet with great tangible results.

There is the chestnut and orange roulade cooling down in the kitchen at the moment, the one that I promised myself to make about three weeks ago. Every week I would buy oranges and then eat them. But I decided I was using the last one for the roulade. And still, I just couldn’t make myself do it. I had a perfect excuse – I do not own all necessary equipment, such as a mixer – the most useful tool for baking. Imagine all that physical work involved in mixing ingredients by hand, I am not a slave!

But during my yet another sleepless night, lying in bed, I started comparing the old times with today’s. All those household electrical, noise making appliances were invented to make our lives easier. As if there was nothing better than to wake up to the neighbour’s mowing their lawn at 8.30 on Saturday morning! Nothing better to do? A lie-in, no? But I want a lie-in!!!

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I made a loaf of bread. Yummy, but what a hard work! All that kneading, my poor spaghetti arms hurt after like after three minute plank. The women of the past, I bow down to you. I guess, working in the kitchen then was comparable to building a house. And I am exaggerating just a tiny bit.

That must have been a great lifestyle; getting an exercise while making something useful. And today? The supermarket’s aisles are full of ready made meals, so all those beautiful appliances are doomed to be used by only a few the chosen ones, those who have time on their hands, housewives without a proper job, those who don’t work hard enough to make money. People with ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Because only workoholism counts for mainstream.

So we do not have time to cook a proper dinner every night. After all, there are take-aways and ready meals to get us by, shovelling in our mouths, to be done with, moving to something else.

After work, we head to gym, because that is the only right place for exercising. Apparently, they even have screens that play images of the nature to make the run on the treadmill more interesting.

That reminds me of a date I had years ago. The first and the last one. He said he was at he gym basically every night. He would drive there although it was just twenty minutes away. He had to drive there because there was, ehm … a very steep hill on the way.

So me, refusing to ever step on the gym’s grounds, I decided I will make that cake without the mixer or the electrical whisk, like all good women before the electricity was invented. I put on a good energetic song (the only electricity that I used while baking) and was whisking away while dancing in the kitchen. Eggs and sugar proved to be quite easy but the egg whites! My mum taught me that unless you can put them over your head and they’ll stay in the bowl, keep whisking. But we had the lovely mechanical whisk with which you just had to turn the handle. That was a hard work, too.

So I whisked like crazy for two whole songs but it just wasn’t good enough, at least not according to my mother’s standards, her voice from long gone past still in my head. I sweated (my level of fitness is really below the zero) and it still wasn’t enough. My biceps hurt so bad that I had to give up. Hopefully, the cake will still be lovely and she will be proud of me.

So there is a piece of advice for these hard economic times – don’t go to gym, bake and knead like in the old times.

PS: The roulade is edible. 🙂

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

Vegetarian Fast Food

24 Jun

You’re travelling to meet the family. You’re on your lunch break prior to a meeting. You’re with your family at a service station on the way to the annual holiday. Where do you go for lunch? Well there’s plenty of those good old fast food places, McDonalds, Burger King or KFC? You see that man tucking into a Big Mac and can’t hold the hunger any longer. As you slowly wander over to the counter and peer up at the menu, you pause. What can you eat? Meat…meat…meat… Aren’t there any other options? Here in this article, we look at what is on offer in some of the biggest corporate companies, for the people who decide that they no longer want to eat meat.

While beginning my investigation, I wanted to hear what the companies had to say first on their policy on vegetarian food. On firstly ringing, KFC, they explained that they had ‘no policy.’ However there were sides available for veggies such as fries, beans, corn and coleslaw. Take out of that what you want but I wouldn’t say that these ‘sides’ were exactly filling or substantial. The other two companies to test were McDonalds and Burger King. They however weren’t getting back to me so I have decided to review their food fairly and look at the options available. In McDonalds, there was one veggie option (Veggie Deli) and no choice for children in the Happy Meals section. Unfortunately, after 8pm they no longer serve the veggie deli. McDonalds had this to comment when addressed on the issue, ‘A vegetarian Happy Meal has been trialled before but didn’t prove popular at the time. However, McDonald’s is always working hard to provide its customers with as much choice and value as possible and this is no different for vegetarian customers.’ Jan, 09. They go on to say that the fries, fruit bag and garden salad are wholly vegetarian. But not exactly what you go to a fast food restaurant for…

Moving on to Burger King. The said Veggie Burger actually turned out to be cooked in animal fat and their fries have only recently changed to becoming vegetarian. What is left? Onion Rings that contain whey and bagels, which contain egg. Burger King does not endorse that its milkshakes or ice creams are vegetarian suited either. In certain foods, the ingredients state that they are from ‘unknown sources.’ ‘Some places carry veggie burger, but they are usually cooked in the same oil that is used to cook meat.’ On their website, Burger King states, ‘Burger King Corporation makes no claim that the BK VeggieTM Burger or any other of its products meets the requirements of a vegan or vegetarian diet.’

Last, I followed up on the KFC frequently asked questions bit of their website. Someone has asked, ‘Why don’t you offer a vegetarian option?’ Their answer was much the same as when I spoke to them on the phone, ‘Currently we do not offer a vegetarian option due to the low demand. However, some of our sides may be suitable for vegetarians. Please visit the nutritional pages of this website for more information.’

While writing this article, I discussed with my colleagues what I was doing. One colleague told me that her friends had studied at Corpus Christi College in Oxford for 2 years. There had only been one vegetarian option on the menu and after 2 years of eating the same meal, she turned back to eating meat. When I tried calling the catering manager, she was unavailable and after being placed on hold for a long period of time, I gave up on speaking to them.

My aim here wasn’t to turn everybody reading this article into raging vegetarians (although that would be a perfect world) but just to point out that giving up meat shouldn’t be such a chore. Vegetarians should be respected instead of having to go out of their way for a decent meal. There should just be more awareness in the world that people who are purposely not eating animals are being forced to either return to it or go without of out of their way to have a basic meal.

For more information on where to go when you are out and about, this book comes recommended: The Vegetarian Resource Group.

About the writer: Becky has just finished a degree in English and Creative Writing and is very happy with her 2:1. She is friendly, bubbly and just so happens to be the co-creator of Yellow Bunting. She hopes you enjoy it and that you get involved!

Interview With Carers

22 Jun

Margaret Lewis and Katie Jennings, mother and daughter, have gone through major upheaval and stress throughout the last three years. Moving in with the grandmother after the death of her husband and then caring for her following a stroke and an extreme change of personality, it was a real struggle. Margaret’s other daughter, Tamsin, then had a major relapse in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was then diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.

How are the carers coping? They are the ones who have to deal with the consequences and the emotional turbulence. So how exactly do they feel? They are the ones in the background who don’t receive the ‘get well’ tokens of pity and compassion. How do they cope with having to watch their loved ones suffer? What do they do when they can do very little?

Here we interview these two people in how becoming carers has changed their lives.

 

Margaret

Margaret Lewis used to describe herself as an easy-going and hard-working person but what could have changed to make her view herself so differently?

When I asked her if her personality had changed at any point in her life, she replied that it had. When she elaborated further, I found a mournful story. She explains that when she became a carer her whole personality changed. She says she was happy to move in with her mother at the time.

Asked if she had had a close relationship with her mother, she told me that she used to, less so now because she is a totally different person. Having a good relationship with my mother, it really struck me: What if my mother totally changed? What if the person I had come to for help and spoke to every day on the phone was the reason for my nervous breakdown?

Having a happy home, happy family and overall happy life made Margaret worry that something bad had to be brewing for her. ‘I had too much luck going for me. I knew at one point something had to tip the scale and change things.’ It is weird to think that the scale needs to be tipped the other way now as Margaret and her family are still waiting for some good luck to return.

After the sudden and unexpected death of her father, the abrupt move in with her mother, and the constant arguments between her brothers and husband, it is difficult to see what more could go wrong. ‘One thing seemed to lead to another. I think my daughter could see that I was struggling and in a lot of pain and she couldn’t do anything about it. So I think that her subconscious allowed her to be in control of one aspect of her life, her weight. I think that is where her anorexia originated from.’

If she had her chance again, would she still move in? ‘My father wanted us to move in. He told the neighbours that if anything happened to him that he knew we would move in and look after mum. With that said, I would seriously reconsider moving in, but that’s easy to say with hindsight. If we hadn’t moved in then I don’t know if mum would still be here. If I didn’t move in then I would just feel guilty.”

Some of the family didn’t deal with the move very well. In terms of her marriage, Margaret says that it made them stronger as ‘we have helped each other.’ But how does she feel about her brothers? ‘Sometimes helpful – some more than others. But I feel alone in terms of that family as they don’t help at all.’ What was an extremely close-knit family turned out very differently when something major happened.

If she had decided to remain where she was, what would be in store for her? ‘I’m unsure in what way my life would be different but yes, it definitely would be. It could have been worse because of my guilt, but it also could be less stressful as I wouldn’t have had to become a carer. It all depends on what would have happened to mum.’ Margaret is carrying a lot of confusion, ‘if she had gone to a home and deteriorated then I would have felt guilty. But to be honest, I don’t see how it could be worse than the last 2 years.’

And how does she feel towards the people who put her in this situation of worry, panic and sadness? ‘Sometimes angry. I can get very annoyed at my mother but I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s not her fault, although that is hard to do.’ She adds as a quick after thought. ‘It doesn’t help that I don’t get a break from her. I also worry about my daughter a lot.’

The role reversal is very strange to deal with. ‘It’s almost like my mother has gone back to childhood.’

However, Margaret seems to be happier than she has been in the last two years and is looking forward to a well-earned break next week when she goes on holiday to Florida. ‘I can’t wait! I seriously need to just get away and I can’t wait for all the sun!’ Her face has lightened up considerably as she is reminded of what awaits her.

And what is going to happen when she has to return to real life? ‘I need to start having more breaks and some ‘me time’ – away from everyone, just to chill.’

 

Katie

Katie Jennings is your average seventeen-year-old girl. Her hobbies include driving, Wii, shopping, socialising, and, having just passed her driving test, driving. She is the middle child of 3 children and thinks she suffers from middle child syndrome. She has lived in Cardiff all of her life but has only lived in her current home for the last ‘two wonderful years.’

While she points out that living in a family of five can be hectic and you’re not left alone for more than ten minutes, she likes it. Although she does admit that sharing a room with your older sister does have its drawbacks. When her sister received her diagnosis, Katie says that she felt ‘sad.’ Her eyes raise slowly from the ground as she tells me that she wasn’t angry when her sister was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but was for the Anorexia Nervosa. Explaining that this is because ‘OCD is more mental rather than with anorexia which doesn’t begin mentally but develops into something mental.’ Asked why she believes that Tamsin is prone to these anxiety illnesses, Katie notes that ‘she has always been a worrier and I think that it didn’t help that she used to be quite largely overweight and would be more paranoid due to past bullying.’

Katie points out that she sometimes felt like less attention was put on her and their other younger sister, Bryony, since their parents were always focused and worried on Tamsin. ‘I also didn’t want them to be any more worried than they already were so I tried not to discuss any problems I was having.’ Looking-shame faced at the table between us, she adds, ‘I know it sounds bad, but I was always the thin one. It was just my place within the family. When mum said that she thought Tamsin could be thinner than me, I felt like I had been punched in the gut.’

‘I try to help her. I used to help a lot more as it was easier to help with her OCD and I was the only person to know at first. However, now that I’m not the only one to know, I’m not included as much.’ When I ask her if she gets on well with her sister despite the illnesses she smirks and comments, ‘sometimes but she can annoy me.’

While people may pity the poor sufferer of these illnesses, does anyone think of their carers and families? How can it effect them personally? ‘It takes a long time to recover from OCD so no matter how much I tried to help, it didn’t work as quickly as I would have liked. It was also very difficult to cope with the fact that my sister could die.’

I ask her if she could go back in time, would she change anything? Her reply takes a while to come as she deliberates the many possibilities. She finally looks up and states that she would change nothing because if we didn’t make the mistakes then we wouldn’t regret anything.

Has she noticed any changes since becoming a carer? ‘I am more understanding now and know a lot more in my psychology classes at college thanks to these illnesses.’ Unfortunately these things seem to be the only advantages of having to suffer alongside a family member, but even worse was when Katie had to move out of her local community after the sudden death of her grandmother. ‘We all thought it would be nice living with Nan,’ she says with a quick smile, ‘but after her stroke we became her carers, too.’

Katie has had to cope with an extreme change of personality in her grandmother but she is still always an optimist. ‘When the rest of the family all went downhill, into depression and nervous breakdowns, I just tried to carry on and remain happy.’

Thanks to this strong will of Katie’s, she pulled her sister out of the dark side and into recovery. Though she does say that if they hadn’t moved in, ‘Nan would probably be dead.’ When asked whether she misses her grandfather and the ‘old’ Nan, she frowns. ”Course I miss them.’ Her face relaxes slowly. ‘But we do sometimes get glimpses of the old Nan.’

Does she believe that if these ‘events’ were more spread out then it would have all been easier to cope with? ‘Yes, definitely. Less stressful. I wouldn’t have found it necessary to have to bury my emotion so much.’

And when she was finally asked if she thought that life is improving or if it is going to improve, she assures, ‘We’re quite happy at the moment. Could be worse. Life is going to improve because we have a holiday planned to Florida! Also when we get back, I am going to Teenscene! It’s a Christian camp which is really modern and great! I can really see my religion improving there.’

What did I find when concluding this interview? That one, Katie Jennings is in no way selfish, giving so much of her time to helping others. Second, that the carers of the ill suffer, too, and that the government should spend more time thinking about them and what they are going through.

About the writer: Becky has just finished a degree in English and Creative Writing and is very happy with her 2:1. She is friendly, bubbly and just so happens to be the co-creator of Yellow Bunting. She hopes you enjoy it and that you get involved!

Top 10 Musicals

21 Jun

The marmite of films, people either love or hate musicals. I belong in the former of the two groups, as there’s nothing more enjoyable than a big camp sing-along. And what better musicals to sing along to than these:

Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-Lips

image from here

Rocky Horror Picture Show. With some truly fantastic songs, bad continuity and Tim Curry in heels, Rocky is a whole lot of shenanigan fuelled fun! It’s especially good in a double feature with…

Shock Treatment! A little ahead of it’s time in regards to reality TV and not as universally adored as Rocky [maybe it’s the lack of visible underwear] but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Little Shop of Horrors. A blood eating plant in a flower shop – what could possibly go wrong?! Audrey II is the flower that just keeps on giving but at a price. Domestic abuse, secret crushes and deadly secrets are the order of the day – and who says musicals are frivolous?

Cabaret. A dark tale of sex, alcohol and the search for fame set against the Weimar Republic. Cabaret deals with heavy issues both of the time [the rise of the Nazi Party] and that are still relevant today [unwanted pregnancy]. Though the National Socialist Party takes a back seat, as time progresses we see it intervene more and more with the goings on at the Kit Kat Club and with our protagonists. We all know what happened next and are left wondering about our girl Sally.

Spring Awakening. A tragic coming of age story set in turn of the century Germany featuring suicide, masturbation, sex, child abuse and abortion. As bleak as it sounds, the musical version of the play is a treat with the anthemic Totally Fucked and relatable characters dealing with the same issues we all did as teenagers. Though it didn’t have a long enough run at the West End, there are talks of a film version.

Wicked. If you like underdog stories, you might want to pass on this one – there’s no happy ending here. An alternative story for the Wicked Witch of the West aka Elphaba, it tells her story from birth to death; the friends she makes, the lives she saved and the hypocrisy she faced. We learn why Elphie was the way she was and the sacrifice Galinda the Good made by changing her name to simply, Glinda.

The Producers. Armed with an absurd plan that would never work in the real world, 2 producers set out to make money with lots of in jokes, a Swedish secretary and a whole lot of singing. Fun fact: the 2005 remake of the film would have had a scene that reunited Timone, Pumba and Simba, only it was cut from the final edit.

Singin’ In The Rain.  A classic. Make ‘Em Laugh alone is a good enough reason to watch this. Interesting to note that Debbie Reynolds was dubbed for her songs. If that isn’t irony…

Rent. Set in New York, Rent is a re-telling of La Boheme for the MTV Generation. Over the course of a year we see the trials and tribulations of 8 people dealing with love, loss, AIDS, addiction and eviction.

Spamalot. Loving ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; Spamalot is a tap dancing, coconut clapping, heavily armed Christian filled adventure with equally funny songs poking fun at the musical genre.

 

About the writer: Daisy is an irregular photographer, wannabe writer and full time female. In between tea and toast breaks she spends far too much time on the internet blogging, tumbling and tweeting. She is unapologetic in her love of the Spice Girls.

Editor’s Letter

17 Jun

Hi guys!

We all hope you had a good Fathers’ Day – finally some good weather for it!

Another short but sweet issue for you – Becky’s interviewed two carers, Sarah looks at the stereotypes of dead females in film and television, Zdena talks about making food from scratch and Daisy’s lined up the 10 best musicals from the stage and screen.

And remember, if you have a question for our Agony Aunty Rubyyy email us at ask.yellowbunting@yahoo.co.uk

Enjoy!

Becky and Daisy