Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Say what you feel

We always keep what we really think and really feel buried down low. Sometimes it's not what society agrees with, what the smother person wants to hear, or even what we want to be the truth. Modern culture boasts the importance of honesty and transparency but who really adheres to that all the time?

When someone asks 'how are you?' Our response is acceptably 'not bad', 'OK', 'fine', 'good', but if you were to be actually honest and say something along the lines of 'I'm feeling rather sad today' it's not alright. You'll find people don't want to hear it. It's all well and good when you're feeling happy and positive and great as I am perhaps 90% of the time nowadays, but that other 10%? 

Is it truly such a mystery how so many people are diagnosed with Depression, Bipolar, and similar? Not to me. 

I used to think I was a diagnosis away from that because I would get so down sometimes that yes over time I lost friendships because people don't always want to hear it even if you need to say it. My magic beans and wholefoods have helped me astronomically - and now I've reached that amazing 90/10 space where my way of thinking about life is so much healthier. I want to give that to everyone - not that it can cure illnesses like Depression or Bipolar but it certainly helps. My moods swing far less than they used to and the 'bright side' is where I mostly sit.

There are those you can't really take to heart to much when they lie. Politicians for one are known for empty promises and grand ideas that never follow through. They preach ideologies that make us think of unsustainable Utopias that we know deep down will never actually eventuate purely because human nature, amongst the billions of us on Earth, simply does not allow for it. Anyone surprised or huffy when a politician breaks a campaign promise has only themselves to blame. It's part and parcel, I'm afraid.

But what I am really thinking of today is that old chestnut of romance. We never say what we feel when we should, and for that matter usually only one person will get to be honest, especially if it is a conflict of interest to what was discussed or understood. I was horrified and angry to realise that virtually every encounter of that kind with a man has been dictated not by what I thought or wanted, but but heir opinions, their ideals. My feminist brain leapt from the Harbour Bridge in dismay and horror. How could I have never noticed it before? How could I have not known, or realised?

What I want, what I think and what I feel are three things that are damn well just as important as any man's alternatives. 

You don't fancy me? Fine, but I fancy you. You don't want more than a casual fling? Good for you, but I do. You want to expect something and then assume it's ok to never call? Nope, sorry but it's not.

I can't change the way that other people feel or what they think, but my opinion is just as valid as theirs. I deserve to get my way as much as they do. If someone doesn't fancy me as much as I do them I can't help that either, but it's my prerogative of course to not settle for the half-assed alternative that they offer me. 

Maybe when I meet them I will want to make it work even though it will be hard. I will compromise, I will make the effort. Because maybe when they come along I will know that I love them, and if they don't want to hear it because it's too hard to make it work? Well then maybe that's just too bad because my opinion is as important as yours. And you can't change how I feel.

We never say what we really feel, but sometimes we don't want to listen to the truth.

Sam xox

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan

 If you're thinking of going to see the new Tarzan movie then I do recommend it. Don't go into it however thinking its will be some crazy mind-blowing experience and the majority of it is a realistic, post modern re-telling of the man raised by gorillas. It's not that kind of film.

Whilst there are a lot of elements that are highly researched and borderline realistic (such as the Gorilla defensive behaviour), the movie in its majority plays like an old school imperial jungle adventure. There was an old school villain out for money and power with no shame, there was a damsel in distress, the comic sidekick, and a very handsome hero to save the day. The nostalgia and simplicity of these themes are kind of what I loved about it, and I would argue that the very Victorian struggle of man vs beast (or inner beast) as seen in other famous stories from the period such as The Curious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Frankenstein. Is perhaps one of the greatest themes here. There is something kind of refreshing about a film that doesn't feel the need to subvert social commentary or insert post-modern context heavily into its subject matter. Political correctness is becoming exhausting and exasperating theses days and I will be the first to say that this action packed Victorian novel film adaptation felt like a breath of fresh air. Simpler.

The film is by no means without its flaws and you may argue that Tarzan himself is a controversial character, no more so than as per usual, however the film really explores his personality and heavily visualises his interaction with the animals of the Congo. The gorillas particularly made for the majority of this animal interaction, as expected, but delivers a CGI driven hypothesis of the more darker likelihood of how Tarzan might have lived had he survived infancy. Gorillas are territorial and strong, and if threatened they are known to be very aggressive, their ability to kill humans rather violently is so commonplace now that we assume that this will be the case before it even is (as seen recently in the unfortunate case of Harambe...don't even get me started on that one but suffice it to say I strongly disagree with the zoo's actions...). It is undeniable however that there would not have been a harmonious upbringing for Tarzan amongst the gorillas suggested by the Disney 1997 adaptation of the legend, and although at times rather visually disturbing I liked this darker view. Tarzan is bullied, threatened and beaten to within an inch of his life more than once by displays of dominance from his bipedal peers. In a wild jungle situation in which the gorillas are territorial and aggressive when threatened, why would they just accept Tarzan no questions asked? Whilst as far as I am aware the situation has never been tested (see: ethics), I would argue that studies of gorilla behaviour have since come far enough to give a good representation of what is possible. The film industry will of course always embellish a scene to fit the imagery, themes and story better so I do think that the overall violence of Tarzan's interaction is a tad extreme given that gorillas can also be very peaceful when comfortable and happy, but then I'm not a primatologist. A great way to garner a little more insight into their behaviour and I do recommend the read as it's valid here in relation to cognitive behavioural theories, as well as also being set in the Congo like Tarzan, is the aptly named Congo by Michael Critchon (author of Jurassic Park). This was however published about 20 or more years ago so take his research with a grain of salt as always given that science and study has progressed in that time. 

What is perhaps the most oddly fitting part of the film that fits both the film's setting context and real time context is the address of the race and slavery issue. Race is something that crops up everywhere and anywhere these days. In fact Race is usually one of the things that we always try to keep so PC - it's a egg shell sort of subject on occasion and representing a particularly atrocious event such as Belgiums treatment of the Congolese people it's not possible to separate our modern view of race with our 19th century counterparts. But Tarzan almost doesn't really need to try; Samuel L Jackson, who is for once the comic relief sidekick rather than the action hero, plays a Civil War veteran who in anger towards the treatment of the African American people was led to shame by similar events amongst the Anerican Indians and the Mexican people. He joins Tarzan on the quest to the Congo as he believes that King Leopold II of Belgium is committing crime against humanity but enslaving the Congolese people to work and make him reach, including mining the legendary diamonds of Opar. And Ivory - ever been keen to see a train export of Ivory ? Me either - especially knowing that every two tusks represent one elephant which are now severely endangered. Thanks Belgium. Jackson's character is a catalyst, break in moments of uncomfortable tension and adds a big touch of realism to the story. The Tarzan legend whilst not impossible takes on from its predessor in the Jungle Book but adding a twist of fantasy to a bad situation, the fantasy by which overrides what actually happened in that period. The fantasy of Tarzan in a film reads like the Disney version - it's there, it happened, you felt kind of fuzzy because everyone lived happily ever after. The original Tarzan books are not like this and by adding Jackson's character to the film it becomes far deeper than just a story about a jungle man and rather something much more substantial without going overboard. Tarzan actually becomes a hero, a flawed one, who not only saves Jane from the bad guys but also puts a serious wrench into the hugely nefarious plan the bad guys have. He's the romantic hero - robust, sexy, loyal and strong - but also altruistic of his people (and animals). Think Robin Hood - will move heaven and earth to save Maid Marion, but a vigilante and protector of the people. Jackson's humanitarian crisis adds that extra layer to both the character and the film by focusing on an area of history that I think is mostly swept under the rug outside of Tarzan and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I left the film thinking 'how the hell did I not know about this?' I'm sure Belgian Congo is in the dictionary right next to Bad Ideas. The only person toasting Leopold II on a job well done is probably Hitler.

Back on the subject of Samuel L Jackson's character, in the way that he watched Tarzan, observes the world around him, and reacts to different situations he is effectively us, the audience. He is the one with the greatest intentions from the beginning, he takes a shot at just about everything that Tarzan does and is the only other character beside Jane that really grasps the full extent to which Tarzan is barely 'civilised'. He polarises our hero is so many different ways and takes a really good shot at displaying a very different type of character to his usual. He's generally pretty brilliant.

Alexander Skarsgard, on the other hand, is just about a fantasy come true. Gentleman by day, wild man by night? Biological imperative, my friends. Man vs Beast. Women love good men, contrary to popular belief, but it's part of our biological makeup in reproduction and mating that we want someone strong with throw down, that can provide for us. That's not anti-feminist to say, or unbelievable, it's just female human nature. But don't worry if you're not following - I intend to extrapolate on what I mean in my next post (Nice Guys vs Bad Boys).

Jane, in just about every adaptation, is the embodiment of this idea. She is always a supporting character that neither contains not condemns Tarzan's wildness, yet brings to him a semblance of civilisation that he never had before. Let's be frank, firstly, and ask what would a jungle man who had never seen a human woman before Jane think? How would they react? The truth is debatable but almost certainly it would be anything but what 19th century social conduct were to consider acceptable. In that frame of thinking Jane, as an adventurer, would have been enticed and attracted by this - most of us, even modern women, would as well today. And Jane really is a modern woman, even if often seen as the Damsel in Distress like Maid Marion would you really consider her to be a weak-willed woman? I don't think so. Margot Robbie plays this fabulously -you don't even have to question the nature of her feminism because she just is a strong character. Just like Tarzan embodies the classic Man vs Beast mentality, Jane also portrays the classic Woman vs Lady topic (I'm sure the actual name for this idea is something far more sophisticated but I don't know it). Jane is soft, caring, nurturing and respectable, but also fiery, passionate, daring and courageous. She reminds us subtly and simply that you don't have to be one or the other, which in the context of Victorian Society where this is actually set makes Jane stick out like a sore thumb. Without it being a big deal Jane is the modern woman. 

That being said even though she kicks some ass, almost pulls of a great escape, and probably could amp it up to a higher level she doesn't. She mostly remains calm and let's Tarzan do his thing before he saves her. That's the key thing - Jane doesn't need to be saved, but she lets herself be. Which when you think about it could say something pretty deep about masculinity, too. 

At the end of the day I don't think The Legend of Tarzan is going to be an Oscar winner or make any strong comment on society today more than what we pretty much already know. It's a very idyllic Imperialist story from a time in our Victorian history that we toyed with what it means to be human, our interactions with each other, men and women, different skin colours (let's not say race here), our struggle with self and what it meant, and what was considered to be acceptable among humanity. We were deep in the exploration for what made us human and where we came from, what separated us between us and our animal brethren. Tarzan is an old story from this time that just is what is is - and this adaptation really portrayed that for me. Like I said before it is a nostalgic piece from a time gone by that doesn't big itself done heavily by the worries of 2016. 

If you're keen for that, or just for a bit of on screen action, or even just some shirtless Alexander Skarsgard action, then I do recommend giving it a go. At the end of the day it's one of those movies that are really just for fun.

Sam xox

Monday, July 4, 2016

Wholesome and Whole Foods

For a long time I was on the discovery for health. I'd say I'm still searching of course because its more like a lifelong marathon rather than any kind of completable mission, but that in mind I definitely think that I've found a happy medium in the struggle.

It has been a huge for me change but in actuality a very small one.

It took me a little while to be convinced but a friend of mine suggested that I try Juice Plus. And I know what you're thinking - It's a protein shake, it's a regular multi-vitamin, or its not as good for me as I think. Well I've tried a lot of things over the years - I grew up with the most critically body conscious and desperate of best friends - and I respectfully disagree. It's not a shake and it's not protein. It contains nothing added except fruits and vegetables - no preservatives, no added sugar, not added anything except for those fruits and vegetables. So when literally all I am taking is an amped up dosage of fruits and vegetables how bad is it really going to be for me?

By taking the 'supplements' they compliment a healthy diet by boosting your fruit and vegetable intake from the recommended minimum of 2 and 5 daily to close to 30, and suddenly I am finding myself firing on all cylinders and wondering how I got through life before them.

Michelle who convinced me is friend of mine. She's known for a while that I am passionate about trying to get healthy and that I just want to shed some kilos to feel better about myself and be happier - as will you know from my history of posts. It took her some time to convince me because I was skeptical and terminally broke due to my inability to curb my lipstick, book, tea and candle addiction, but what really did it for me was the affect it had on Michelle herself.

Michelle is a mum and has the world's most energetic daughter. She smoked, drank a coke or two a day and enjoyed her coffee like it was going out of style. She was unhealthy and knew it, but knew that she needed to make a change for her daughter  - because our own health affects those around us as well. So Michelle made one easy change: she started on Juice Plus for her boost of fruits and vegetables, quit coffee and coke. It has been about 75 days or so since she did and Michelle has lost almost 10kg - but that's not even the most important thing. She sleeps better, has tonnes more energy and feels 100 times happier, more positive and generally better. The change in her from the Michelle I had known was so luminescent every time I saw her I was practically blinded by how great she looked and felt. I knew that I had to try it too.

And I feel just like she seemed to me. I sleep better, I focus more, I am so positive and I have so much energy I feel like the Energiser Bunny when I step into the gym. I don't usually even feel like eating bad foods, I feel like my body is functioning better, and I drink more water. It's like someone switched a light bulb on inside my chest and illuminated the shadows that slowed down my gears in there - everything is working at a better optimum than before. In short I feel amazing - and I didn't know that I could feel this good.

I have to be clear here when I say that Juice Plus is not a vitamin supplement. It's based on Whole Food Nutrition and consists of concentrated whole foods thus the reason you don't have to eat before taking the capsules each day - you are not putting synthetic vitamins into your body that will be harmful on an empty stomach. Each capsule contains fresh raw fruit and vegetables which are all picked at their perfect ripeness (organic) that are then dried, have had water and sugar removed so what is left is just pure goodness (nutrients, antioxidants and minerals). It's a great way to get 30 serves of fruit and vegetables into your bloodstream within 3-5 minutes that begin detoxifying the body and ridding it of all the chemical build up straight away. It's a simple concept and I don't know about you but I definitely struggled to get my 2 and 5 serves a day - and not from lack of trying.

After 4 weeks on the capsules I became just as passionate as Michelle is and decided to become a spokesperson for the company, aiding and assisting in those after further information and helping those interested to sign up and order. I am not sponsored - no one is paying me to post this - but I genuinely believe in Juice Plus and I want to help people if they want to take the chance like I did. I want my family and friends, and even those I don't know, to feel as great as I do and I want to help them. I even intend to hopefully aid in sending Juice Plus to Third World countries where I know that although not a replacement for food, Whole Food Nutrition would make a huge impact in fighting against the malnutrition that lies insidiously within starvation.

I'm no candidate for Miss Universe and I'm not searching for World Peace, but I do want to do my bit to help.

So, if you would like more information, or would be interested to take the chance on a small change like me for the better than please get in touch.

My email address is s.c.allen29@gmail.com

I feel absolutely amazing.

Sam xox