Mary Kate and Ashley

Do Burqas come in a Size 5?

I still haven’t been forgiven for refusing to go to my debutante ball on the grounds that it was an archaic sacrificial ritual to advertise the fact that I was now on the mating market. I was obviously a lot of fun to be around in those days and I think Dad just wanted to see me in a dress for once.

But lately I’ve started to feel nostalgic for those days of anticipation when girls got excited about having permission to wear a bit of lipstick and some pale pink nail polish when they went out. We no longer need debutante balls to introduce our grown up daughters to society it seems – society just comes in and kidnaps them before we get the chance.

Take the fact that my just turned 5 year old wants a bra.

mary-kate and ashley olsen

I blame it on Mary Kate and Ashley and their range of pre –school lingerie. Being rich and anorexic means they have now become the cultural heroines of a generation of tweenagers and can sell what they like to their ever younger wannabes.

Since when did clueless and emaciated become something to strive towards?

After taking the 5 year old to church and realising that she was not singing the hymns but was belting out ‘Don’t you wish your girlfriend was HOT like me” with some rather adult moves thrown in, I began to wonder if convents still existed and if I could send her to one and visit her every Christmas.

I wondered if it was actually OK to keep her in those cute short dresses or perhaps an Islamic Burqa may be more appropriate. Maybe Pumpkin Patch did them with little embroidered hibiscus eye visor thingys for summer.

I revised the one hour a day rule of TV and decided we’d have to bury it in the back yard and be done with it – although the bra idea had come from the 9 year old next door who had one. This was amply demonstrated when the bra toting 9 year old showed up for a family barbeque – in full face make-up, a miniskirt, an expensive cell phone and French acrylic nails. I sent her home to put on something that included jeans and a jersey. She came back in jeans, knee high boots and a see-through top.

I scanned my relatives and friends for any paedophilic tendencies that had previously gone unnoticed.

I was feeling like the goat keeper on Komodo Island; everything that moves is a potential predator when you are looking after the (jail) bait. The thing is she’s tall. She looks quite mature and she’s drop dead gorgeous - I’d probably ask her out for a beer if I were a bloke. The Barbie collection may be a clue once you got back to her house but it seems fashionable at the moment to keep women in the arrested development of baby doll dresses and mindless giggling. It’s hard for anorexics to hold up their end of a conversation at the best of times and starvation makes you short so - who’s to know?

I’m not advocating that we lock up our daughters instead of potential predators just that we get at least a running chance of protecting them without marketing boys stamping them with precocious sexuality as they come out of the womb.

Mary Kate and Ashley need to stick to cute socks and headbands – not bras, and I hate to go back to my eighties feminist roots but don’t girls need some role models that aren’t named after hotels and who can actually stand up in a gust of wind? In the meantime I’m off to find a size 5 Burqa, I may be gone awhile.

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I love boys

I love boys. They’re so damn… easy.

Take the boobs on bikes parade down Queen Street. Where there are boobs there will be boys – they will show up and buy any product you throw at them while they are transfixed by breasts (unless of course we’re talking gay boys but then they don’t count because you can hold a conversation with a gay boy and know that they will never look at your tits.)

The protest and the parade in Auckland today.
Pictures: AFP Sydney Morning Herald Online 20/08/2008

I’m surprised the annual boat show hasn’t clicked on to this idea - we could have ‘Boobs on Boats’ and ‘Hooters on Scooters’ where have the marketing boys been all this time?

What I don’t get is what is OK about showing the mammary glands of some mad Mum from Christchurch that is not Ok about some gay boy’s torso. The fashion flair and fun of the now banned Hero Parade is far more festive than the rather dull display of women with labia implants and projectile boosies astride a bike. And yet, as I write this sarcastically, I can hear a sigh of ‘that sounds so great’ from most of the straight blokes I know.

Personally I’m pretty scared by some of Steve Crowe’s show ponies. Drag queens are more subtle about their appendages; those aren’t breasts, they’re architectural devices designed, not to attract attention, but to go out and attack if blokes aren’t looking hard enough.

I have one thing to say to Steve. And that is: “Show us you whanger.”

Yes. It’s time to Free Willy. I’m about to launch my new venture ‘Willys on Wheels’ down the main street of Whangarei and I would like him to feature, although we may have to work on his look.

Is it de rigueur for a porn king to look like a penis trussed up in a performance enhancing black condom?

The parade will feature boys with paper bags over their heads in fetching costumes arranged around their appendages. I’m thinking …. Floats! The local florist could have a floral arrangement on her bloke and we could get the polytech to design a Kiwiana section with Pukeko Plonkers and Buzzy Bee Balls. It could be so good for the community. The only problem being; only blokes will show up. Women may want to be objectified if they are porn stars but basically we’re not hard wired for ogling.

Asking a twenty year old porn star with the critical thinking skills to rival Sponge bob, how she feels about the industry is hardly adding to the debate.

Saying that it’s fine for kids to watch some free, police escorted boob advertising for a porn-fest because kids are breastfed is, well, classic Steve Crowe. It’s not about freedom of expression. It’s not about the boobs. It’s not even about a bit of adult erotica.

Porn isn’t sexy because there is no charm in it, in the same way that the pokies aren’t entertainment because there’s no fun in it. It’s all; up, down, in, out, money in, put it out…as Kevin Ireland puts it in his poem entitled ‘Porn’, ‘it’s all too much of a hard grind’.

I know all the arguments; it’s a well paid job with great career prospects until at least the age of 23. The carnal carnage that is left behind in the demand that porn feeds has been documented well enough. I hope the Women’s Centre and other groups had some success in marching ahead of the boobs as they handed out their information sheets. I suspect however, that more blokes would have listened if they’d taken their tops off first.

If Steve is allowed to hawk his seedy wares in any way he likes then bring back the Hero Parade. At least it had style.

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Dear Mr. Predator

“In a sense I've failed – I get on very well with everyone, even those, dare I say it, at the bottom of the food chain. I should have thanked them.”Quoted by a retiring MP on his failure to give an appropriate valedictory speech other than to hold up a card saying 'Bye Bye'.

Dear Mr. Predator,

I hope you don't mind me addressing you as a predator – it's just that I assume from your comments that you must be somewhere near the top rungs of the food chain and I don't know what else to call you.

I'm deeply grateful that you remembered us little people and while I know we were just an afterthought it was nice that you remembered all the work we do for you; the real people. Important people like politicians, lawyers, developers and corporate lords like yourselves rarely suffer from an underwhelming ego and it was nice of you to spare a thought for the bottom feeders like me. It's hard work down here and as we cooked your dinners, washed your knickers and taught your kids to read (you being so busy and all) we marvelled that despite all your money and and your wives' surgical enhancements, you still played around and she was still a mean drunk. I'm talking generically of course. I guess being at the top of the food chain doesn't necessarily make you happy but as we waited on your tables at 3am in the morning we whistled in amazement and sighed “Man. You guys really do rule.” You are the new heroes it seems.

I spent a fortune on getting my only son through university, dreamt he'd find a cure for something. Thought he might turn out to be of some use to someone other than himself but now he says he wants to speculate on the markets. Whatever that means. Kids are bound to disappoint. I guess he wants to be just like you. I know what you guys do is really important.

You've told me so a hundred times and sorry for asking but.. .what is it exactly that you guys actually do? Here at the bottom of the food chain I know exactly what we do. Hospitals, schools and restaurants are full of us humble bottom dwellers. Our incomes are nearly always very active – if not bloody exhausting. Just ask any nurse or primary school teacher or better still go and fill her shoes for a day. You might be surprised – she wouldn't know a passive income if it bit her on the bum and don't try telling her about your investment portfolio woes either it's unlikely she'll be feeling your pain. You see – she has to perform or get fired – that's how it works down here. I don't really get it myself – but how come you guys can fail spectacularly and then get a performance bonus or an 'exit package' worth millions? The only exit package we see is the last pay cheque.

Still, I hear some of you are finding yourselves in a bit of a tight squeeze lately. Last I heard you were asking for a bailout – what happened to 'let the market rule?' Isn't the market the great leveller? You always talked about the level playing field like it meant you were going to drive a bulldozer over anyone that got in your way with their petty regulations but what do I know?

I'm still waiting for some kind of wealth to start dribbling down from you guys up on the top rungs – remember the 'trickle down' theory? I did wonder why it was that the bottom dwellers only deserved a drip or two when what I'd have preferred is a decent slice of the pie. Still we didn't have access to cheap and easy credit to build our own empires over the last 15 years and you guys certainly weren't supporting the great leveller of capital gains tax so now, not only are you guys at the top – and we're at the bottom - there's not so much a gap as a gaping chasm between us. Still, that' s all behind me now – I'll be retired in a couple of weeks. I'm sure glad that I listened to that nice finance manager who got me to invest in.. what was it? Stocks? Bonds? I can't remember now – I was too busy with my two jobs and the boss's daughter being on P, it was all I could do to keep a track of their family silver and keep the house tidy after her parties.

I'm looking forward to putting my feet up down here at the bottom of the food chain. I think I deserve it and it's nice to know that I have been appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs Bottomfeeder.

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Is motherhood the new Everest

If motherhood were an NCEA subject in the middle classes it would have achievement standards whereby anyone not receiving an excellence would immediately be removed from the gene pool.

As I watch the last of my close friends flap home from Europe to reproduce I am amazed at how monumental motherhood has become.

Too busy to breed, we were the generation that forgot to have babies. We travelled, drank rather a lot and came home at about 38 and realised we’d better get busy or we’d have no one to pass the fabulous skills and knowledge we’d acquired, on to, like; where the best bars in South East Asia are and how to leave a lover in 5 different languages.

It’s odd then to watch my mates armed with baby Einstein CDs and a library of expert opinion, fly into motherhood with all the unruffled self assurance of a seagull into a pane of glass. These are women who’ve run hotel chains, and suddenly decide they need a specialist’s guide to raise their own offspring.

Motherhood has become deeply competitive in wealthier circles and for some unfathomable reason almost entirely humourless.

Motherhood everest

The more earnest you appear to be, the better you seem to fare on the motherometer.

I’m still stinging from the ray gun looks when I suggested at one coffee morning that I’d found gin and cough medicine a great tonic for getting the little one off to sleep which was a blessing seeing as she had seemed pretty restless now that I was off the heroin. I was joking. Honest.

After a baby ‘workshop’ where they’d waved silk scarves and got the babies doing cartwheels to ‘stimulate’ their vestibular system she rang in tears saying she’d also been trying to follow some book which sounded like it should be re-titled “Every Fascists Guide to Motherhood”.

Stressed because her baby didn’t follow THE ROUTINE (which prescribed when ‘Mother’ had to take a shower and what kind of curtains baby had to have), she was now feeling guilty about hair follicles in the child’s ears.
It had to stop.

Throwing her a copy of ‘Mummies who Drink’ I advised stopping the coffee group and starting a vodka circle.

While other babies may love controlled crying, (which in my experience consisted of hours of the baby crying uncontrollably), ours had been spawned by rank individualists, and therefore have their own agenda.
Work with it.

Being 12 weeks old, it was unlikely baby was about to defect from her jurisdiction anytime soon by joining a Chinese circus so the need for a double handspring was minimal. Her vestibular system will be sufficiently stimulated by hanging bat like in a technique I like to call “Commando Breastfeeding”. This is where you run home from work, leap the back fence and either breastfeed while getting everything ready to go to your second job or latch baby on while you drive there. Don’t look this one up. It’s not in any books.

As a paid up member of I passed on the list I’d written to myself when I was trying to pass myself off as a Mum until the real one showed up:

1. Never admit to not knowing how many weeks old your baby is or what milestones they have supposed to have galloped past. Make it up. Don’t say your baby sleeps through the night when they are only 3 days old. It’s bad form.

2. When you go back to work and the guy at the cafĂ© asks; “What did you have?”, say ‘a boy’ or a ‘girl’, instead of biting his head off for forgetting the espresso order.

3. When your child comes home, clicks her milo cup against yours, and says ‘Cheers Bro’, and these are her first words, then pretends to smoke her crayons - find other home care arrangements.

See? It’s a snitch.

Trust your instincts. Burn the Books.

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The Blog - Scrub Buzz

Scrub Buzz - Inside Out
The Scrub Buzz Blog written by Nickie Muir, includes a weekly newspaper column "Inside Out" and occassional random musings about the complexities of cross-culture relationships or life with a eight year old. The writings poke a stick at current news and happenings in New Zealand, with an opinion which is sometimes cheeky, funny or irreverent, but usually with a poignant thought for contemplation.

The word Scrubb Buzz can be explained by its two definitions...

Scrubber: A domestic animal gone feral and is running round the ‘scrub’, the backwoods the wild, ‘uncleared’ land. An untitled woman of common birth.

Scrubbuzzer: Common cicada – often found in the scrub making an inordinate noise for its size. Symbol in South America and many parts of Asia for change and re-birth valued for its ability to spend a winter underground, transform itself and come up singing when the sun comes out.

Scrubbuzz Blog was a venture between two New Zealand scrubbers made good. One from Paraparaumu and the other from Paremoremo who ended up in a varsity flat together in Allenby Terrace, when Wellington was a dismal outpost of the Soviet Union and glitter was severely rationed. There was still a Bolshevik Club in Aro Valley in those days and second hand army coats were the height of fashion. In contrast they became underground dealers in glitter, painted a giant mural of a naked woman late one night and spent a ridiculous amount of time making paper mache art works, canoeing around water fountains and, in Nickie’s case – writing poetry. Nickie majored in pointlessness and inappropriate boyfriends while Michelle entered the corporate world and had a swivelly chair and a special area marked ‘Quality Thinking’, where Nickie used to visit and jump across the line saying things like ‘Quality Thought’. ‘Crap Thought’. ‘Quality Thought’. Until Michelle got rid of her by taking her to lunch. Through death, divorce, birth and Brazillians (the people, not the hairdo) letters and the odd box of collections of leaves and photos they’ve chartered the course of a friendship and not a few projects, countries, ideas and lifestyles that, quite frankly could best be described as bonkers. We figure we’ve done it … so you don’t have to.

founders & editor
Michelle is the IT brain, publishing and ocassional art/graphics girl when creatively inspired... and Nickie still writes stuff.
Nickie is a teacher, writer and regular columnist for a New Zealand newspaper.
Nickie graduated from Victoria University in Wellington. She has lived in Thailand, Taiwan and Argentina and now lives in a small town (Whangarei) in the Northern bit of New Zealand where you are in easy range of about 100 different beaches all with different flavours. She lives with her bloke (former Argentine yo-yo champion and espresso impresario, Rodolfo) and their daughter Maya, a close relative of the Ukrainian fruit bat, who spends the best part of the day hanging upside down on things. All financial and familial decisions are left to the Huntaway (a large good- tempered farm dog) named Fierro, because he’s the sensible one. They continue to live in Whangarei because it’s the only place in the world you can live in the CBD and share your night-garden with moreporks (a small native owl.)
At 17 she ran the length of Thailand (which was an extreme way to get out of Thai dance class- even for her but had the benefit of raising money to build a school with her Thai host father Wirote.) At 30 something she decided to buy a few horses and ride from Cordoba in Argentina to Bolivia with her Aussie mate Anna. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Nickie Muir has published in North and South magazine and in the Buenos Aires Herald (The Last Tango on the Number 60) and has two collections of poetry, one self published in Buenos Aires; Songs for Buried Lovers (A bush survival kit for grief) and another; ‘A Lot of World, A little Street’ one poem of which came second in the Classics/Montana poetry competition in 2006.

The columns re-printed here have been published weekly, as the as “Inside Out”column the Northern Advocate, which is part of the APN News & Media group which includes New Zealand's leading metropolitan newspaper, The New Zealand Herald.

Nickie is available for freelance writing , for more information, please contact her via email and say hello!

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