1 December 2009

Tokyo Time

You may be fooled into thinking that I post my blogs at the time it says I do.
And why wouldn't you...

But anyway, turns out I don't because for some reason (possibly because I'm me, and I'm a complete spaz) I have my blog running on Tokyo time. ANYWAY. In real time, it's 11:27pm on November 30, which means I have 33 minutes to get a post in before I turn into a pumpkin.

It's December tomorrow. What was I crapping on about this time last year? (Yes, there's going to be a lot of that in the next few days, until I get over the novelty of having had a blog for more than a year.)

Well, pretty much the same stuff, to be honest. What kind of mascara should I buy? What kind of bike should I buy? Funnily enough, I have bought both of the mascaras mentioned - MAC's Dazzle Lash AND Smashbox Bionic Mascara, and neither of them are my fave. I'm afraid that honour now belongs to Lancome's Cils Design Pro. Where would I be without my jetsetting mother?

I have no need for bikes anymore - instead I spend my spare time trawling the internet for guitars. Not forgetting, of course, that I can't actually play yet, but it's okay. My dad is restringing the acoustic guitar he made for me years ago so I can play it lefty, and then once I'm awesome (so, in about three weeks - HA!) I'm going to buy a Firebird.

Me? Obsessed with firebirds in general? Never.

I was distraught to discover my flatmate does not know the story of the Firebird. My mum tells me it's because he's not "from Russia" - which is the first time I've heard her refer to our family as that. We are, for the record, not Russian - or from there. My parents are fiercely proud of their British heritage, so it must hurt them some to have a daughter that raves about the good old days in Turkmenistan.

Anyway, point is, I'm pretty sure you don't need to be Russian to know of the Firebird.

Example: The New York ballet, featuring Maria Tallchief, performed it in 1949. Tallchief, the prima ballerina of the era (America's first, and also "Native America"'s first) danced the role of the Firebird. She was married to choreographer George Ballanchine, but had the marriage annulled in 1952.

On an unrelated note, Maria's daughter (not from the Ballanchine marriage), Elise Paschen teaches writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago - the school is rated the third best Fine Arts programme in America. Yes, I am now a fan on Facebook.

I'm not sure how any of that relates to my next rant, which is about TVNZ's "controversial" breakfast time host, Paul Henry. He's a strange little man with definite rodent features who often makes offhand comments that get blown out of proportion here on our island (I should say islands, because I now live on Te Wai Pounamu, not Hi Ika a Maui, which is where Paul is based). His latest? Calling Susan Boyle "retarded".

Oh, dear. Turns out, Ms Boyle was starved of oxygen at birth and as such has an intellectual disability. Mr Henry made the comment that because of this, she is retarded. Which, in 1950, would have been acceptable.

I wouldn't take so much offense to this if I hadn't had the lovely opportunity to converse with LMC about the merits of being retarded. According to her, it does not just refer to someone with a "mental disability" (not the correct terminology, for those of you who care) but in fact, anyone with any type of disability. It also puts you in a lower social class. In the last nine years, I've spent more time than necessary trying to explain to those in higher social classes (ie, those without any type of disability. I should consider myself thankful they even talk to me, really) the difference between the Special Olympics and the Paralympics. No, I'm not saying that Special Olympians are retards. In fact, "retard" is not an acceptable term to describe any type of disability, least of all one that is imposed intellectually. The fact that I frequently call myself a retard has nothing to do with the fact that I had a stroke (which, for the record, had absolutely no impact whatsoever on my intellect), but surely the repercussions of calling myself a retard are far less resounding than having a person with an intellectual impairment (through no fault of their own, obviously) being referred to as one by not only a person who is sound of mind, but one in the public eye (and one who, for whatever reason, has quite a fanbase). The fact that Mr Henry claimed afterwards that he had done nothing wrong and it was okay to use the word with reference to people with intellectual disabilities, makes it just a little bit worse. Is he serious?

I'm not going to lie. I am not a fan of the Special Olympics, mainly for the effect it has on the achievements of Paralympians. Sophie Pascoe, for example (not the same Sophie I frequently refer to in my posts) is a Paralympic champion who at last year's four-yearly Paralympic Games in Beijing, China (you will note that the Paralympics occur two weeks after each Olympic Games, in the same host city, and is organised by the same committee as its more well-known cousin, the Olympics) won a total of four medals for New Zealand - three gold - including a world record-breaking 100m backstroke gold, and a silver in the 100m butterfly. Her achievements were well-reported in the media, which is unusual, but it should be noted that they are far greater achievements than any performance at the Special Olympics. For that reason, Sophie, along with Cameron Leslie - who won a gold in the 150m IM race in world record-breaking time - was inducted into the New Zealand Order of Merit. I can assure you that the Paralympics are held in much greater esteem than the Special Olympics.

Still, my life is often consumed with explaining the differences. Here's a chart.

Held four-yearly, in conjunction with the Olympic Games
Held every year
Athletes represent a country (eg. Great Britain, Australia, Kenya)
Entrants represent themselves. No national representation is earned by competing
Qualifying standards, along with a competitive entry system
Open entry
Gold, silver and bronze medals for first, second and third place. Olympic diplomas for top-eight finishes
Gold medals for all competitors
Competitors are the elite in their field. Some are full-time athletes, receiving the same support from their country’s national sporting body as their Olympic counterparts
Any person with an intellectual impairment is welcomed.
Focus on sport, winning, achieving world record performances
Focus on fun, participation and camaraderie

For these reasons, you can imagine the uproar when it was recently announced that athletes with intellectual disabilities are to be re-introduced to the Paralympics (they were ousted after Sydney when the Spanish ID basketball team were found to be ineligible - yeah, you read that right. It was The Ringer, in real life). The fact that this sort of thing can even happen is testament to the fact that the Paralympics should remain only for people with physical disabilities. You can fake a learning disability, but not an amputation or spinal injury.

Anyway, I guess the years I've spent fiercely defending the Paralympics have been for nothing. From here on in, things are bound to get ridiculous.

Over and out, and hello December.

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