The Hunger Games, and it’s Unlikely Bad Guy

WARNING: SPOILERS!

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So, I’ve been a fan of the Hunger Games since I read the books a couple of months before the first movie came out.  I read all three books within a week, and have been hooked on the franchise ever since.

Now that the movies have all come out and I’ve reread the series again, there is one character that seems more despicable than the rest, at least on a personal level.  Oh, you’ve got President Snow and his league on pompous minons, controlling their little slice of the world through cruelty, suffering and callousness, but he’s always been the antagonist…the thorn in nation’s side, shall we say.  And then you’ve got President Coin, who came along towards the end of the series, originally positioned as a saviour, though it was hinted the whole way through her story that she was basically just a female version of Snow.  No, there’s someone in the books and the movies who’s betrayal really upset me, probably more than it should have.

Ceasar Flickerman.

Aka, this dude:

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Yeah, I bet you didn’t see that one coming.  In a book full of people who fall into two categories – brave and noble or weak and untrustworthy, there are plenty of people I could have said.  While it’s true that Gale’s betrayal (though unintentional) was tough, I still didn’t find it as uncomfortable to read/watch as Caesar.

I’ve thought about why this is for a little while now.  I mean, on paper it doesn’t make sense – he’s the embodiment of everything that is the Capitol.  His perfect teeth, his expensive outfits, his garish coloured hair and eyebrows.  He’s the face of the Hunger Games, and thereby all it stands for.  He’s shallow and fake.  Yes, on paper I should feel nothing at all about this character except mistrust and disgust.

I don’t though.

He seems like such a friendly guy in the first two books/films.  He helps the nervous contestants on stage, getting them through situations they’ve likely never even envisioned themselves in.  If it wasn’t for him, a lot of them wouldn’t get sponsors, and if they don’t get sponsors, they’re basically doomed in the arena (“If no one sponsors me, my odds of staying alive decrease to almost zero” – Hunger Games, Book 1, Chapter 8).  Plus, even as an embodiment of the Capitol, his crazy hair and over-the-top personality really make him seem like a good guy.  Even Katniss – who doesn’t seem to like anyone much, even her pretend-boyfriend most of the time – seems to get along with him.  Surely that’s saying something?

Then it all changes.  Once the dramas happen after the Quarter Quell, he becomes another minion of the Capitol.  He interviews Peeta several times, watching him appear increasingly unwell, and pushes him along.  In the films, he’s also the one that puts out the alerts for Katniss, which adds a whole other level of betrayal, and I think is what got under my skin the most.  It’s one thing to side with the Capitol, but quite another to speak in such a horrible way about someone you knew personally, who never did anything to intentionally harm you.  Yes, her rebellion affects his way of life, but he saw firsthand that she never wanted to be the figurehead of anything.  When she revealed the wedding-come-mockingjay dress, he saw her surprise.

He also saw what she went through in both Games.  I think, underneath the betrayal, his character upsets me because he had the chance to really help out the rebels.  He was centre stage.  The audiences ate up every word he said.  After watching the Games for the last fifty years, meeting all these kids, interviewing them…then watching their gruesome deaths, surely even he could understand the rebellion.  Surely he could see what they were fighting for.  If he came across as heartless from the start, or distant, or uncaring, then maybe it’d be easier to swallow.  The fact is, he was never any of that.  He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and nice guys don’t throw kids under buses like that.

I guess the other reason he upsets me is because he is basically positioned in a similar light as Effie Trinket.  Both preening, pretentious, yet ultimately wonderful people from an otherwise messed up, wasteful city.  In fact, Effie was probably written as much more of a Capitol lapdog than Caesar, and with less power to help.  Yet, when it came down to it, Effie chose her side not on how it will affect her, but for her loyalty to Katniss and Peeta, and for knowing how completely messed up it is that she’s had to see so many kids she’s gotten to know personally die.  She lost her whole way of life by doing this, and it would almost be understandable if she didn’t join the Rebellion.  Caesar, on the other hand, fought the rebellion, betrayed people he could have done so much for and ultimately played a part in the deaths of so many people.

War is never easy, but that doesn’t excuse the actions of some people.  Especially people like Caesar.  He felt like a friend, someone I could trust, and then went and stabbed everyone in the back.  The worst part is, I should have seen it coming, but didn’t.  I just hope that whatever happened to him after the war ended, it was something Katniss and Peeta had a hand in.  After all, what goes around, comes around, right?

Climate Control

Daily Post Prompt: The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?

This was something I was only introduced to when I first started at my old job, so around six years ago.  Prior to that, I’d never heard of it at all.  At first, I didn’t buy into it.  I’d heard of the theory from a guy at my work who also wholeheartedly believes in the Illuminati and also thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to drive “because they have hormones”.  Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a reliable source.

It stick in the back of my mind though.  I was curious, as the other people at work seemed to buy into it at varying degrees, when normally everything else the guy says is completely ignored.  It wasn’t difficult to forget it either, when each month he’d remind everyone “it’s a full moon, prepare for crazy customers!”.

And you know what?  He was right every time.  This was when I started to understand why everyone else was buying into it.  It seemed like he was onto something.  Each time there was a full moon, we’d cop an overload of aggressive, upset, moody customers.  It was uncanny and unexplainable.  I don’t pretend to understand why the relationship is there, but it happened so regularly that it was hard to brush it off as coincidence.

I haven’t really noticed any other relationships with moods and weather, aside from the obvious things like people are happier when it’s warm and sunny, and grumpier when it’s raining and they’re wet.

In terms of how the weather affects me, I’m not sure really.  I’d like to say it doesn’t, but that would be a lie, as I’m sure on some level it affects everyone.  I know I feel happier when it’s a beautiful day, or when it’s storming and I’m safe and warm inside.  I know I’m irritable when it’s really hot, and I’m more lethargic when it’s really cold.  I don’t think any of this is unusual though.  Not like the moon thing.  I have no idea if I’m affected by that, I’ve never really thought about it.  Maybe next time I will!

 

Always Something There to Remind Me

Daily Prompt Post: A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

This song reminds me of my first real taste of heartbreak.  It was a long time ago now…five or six years, at least.  I was crazy about a guy who I thought liked me back, only to find he didn’t.  Or maybe just wasn’t interested in a relationship.  I’m still not sure, and have never had the courage to ask, even though we’re still good friends today.

When I (finally) got the “no”, I was devastated, locking myself away in my room in the dark, curled up on the floor, this song playing loudly, tears falling uncontrollably.  This song really helped me through it, though.  I don’t know why a sad song is sometimes so therapeutic, but it is.

I have memories attached to almost all of Taylor’s songs, but this one is definitely one of the most powerful.  Every time I hear it, it takes me straight back there.  It doesn’t make me sad any more though, but rather, glad I’m in a better place now, and glad I learnt so much from it.

Back to School

Daily Post Prompt: If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

While I think my answer to this should really be maths, because I was terrible at it then and am still pretty bad at it now, I’m instead going to go with psychology.  Mostly because it’s been in the back of my mind for years that I wouldn’t mind studying that, but I don’t know if I’ll like it.  Had I done it at school, I’d know one way or the other.  I feel like I’d find it really interesting, but I just can’t commit to a whole course on it if I don’t know for sure.  Plus, if I had of done it in school instead of music, I probably would have gotten a better overall mark at the end of it all!

Do you wish you’d done something different in school?

– JD

Zoltar’s Revenge

Daily Prompt Topic: In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 80s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school?

Even the thought of this scares me a little.  Twelve was such a tough age.  On the cusp of puberty, starting out at a brand new (much bigger) school, having lockers and class schedules and fancy uniforms and meeting all these new people.  On top of that, your adult teeth are still making their way in so you look kind of like a Jack-O-Lantern, and your hair just won’t co-operate so it’s embarrassingly frizzy.  Safe to say I’d never wish to go back to that age.

If I had to, I guess I would recognise that everyone is feeling the same way.  At the time, I felt like I was going through it all a lot tougher than most, when really, that probably wasn’t true.  It’s a scary time for everyone there, it’s just that some chose to see past that and be confident anyway.

If I went back, I’d try to get to know more people instead of just the handful of friends I already had.  I’d try to relax a bit more, and not get stressed over school work and fights between friends.  I’d try to eat healthier, as this was the year where my diet began to go downhill.  I’d try not to fit in so much, as it’s okay to be different, and fitting in was never on the cards anyway.

That all being said, I learnt a lot from my first year of high school.  A lot of them were hard lessons, but ultimately have helped shape me into the person I am now.  I’m glad I can’t go back and change things, because if I could, who knows what I’d be like now?

– JD

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Daily Post Prompt: What is your favourite sweet thing to eat? Bread pudding? Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? A smooth and creamy piece of cheesecake? Tell us all about the anticipation and delight of eating your favorite dessert. Not into sweets? Tell us all about your weakness for that certain salty snack.

I am a massive sweet tooth, so this topic is actually really difficult for me as it makes me have to think hard about my absolute favourite.  I’ve narrowed it down to two, one I’ve eaten recently and one I haven’t had in years.

The first is pretty much anything from the Pancake Parlour (a restaurant chain dedicated to the dessert), in particular their Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  It’s a relatively new addition to their menu, but oh man, I could eat this for every meal!  The pancakes and fudge are warm too.  Mmmmm.

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My other favourite is from a restaurant that was five minutes away from my old work, and used to be our regular hangout for awhile.  They specialise in massive meals, and at it’s peak when we used to go all the time, they were fairly good quality (not fantastic, but still nice).  More recently it has gone downhill a little, I guess because it was costing them too much to make such huge servings.  Despite that, I’m sure my favourite thing on the menu is quite safe as they buy their desserts in from another company.  I wish I knew who the company was, because I’d stock up on their Chocolate Mousse Cake.  It’s rich and fluffy and heavenly.  Thick chocolate mousse on a cakey bottom with a chocolate sauce icing served with whipped cream and ice cream.  So delicious!

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What are your favourite desserts?

– JD

 

 

Time to Change – Day Eighty-Four

I’m back again!  Another long gap between posts full of long days at work and trying to squeeze sleep in between.  How’s everyone going?

The last time I posted was the day prior to my new store opening.  Wow, that feels like months ago.  Hard to believe it was less than two weeks.  I’m really settling in and starting to feel like one of the team, and getting used to how everything runs there.  There are still teething problems and small issues here and there, but for the most part I’d say it’s going really well.

Launch day wasn’t as big as I (and probably the company) thought it would be.  I mean, it was busy, but not chaotic like I thought it would be.  It was actually kind of good that it wasn’t, as it gave us time to properly adjust to the new store and take our time with each customer like we’d been trained to.  If it had of been busy, it probably would have been a lot more stressful.

In general, the job is great and I’m really liking it.  One of the phone reps who I knew from my previous job even told me that I look a lot happier here than I did previously, and although it caught me off guard for a bit, I realized she’s right.  I love the store, I love the team, I love how there’s no pressure to get customers out the door.  I mean, they don’t want you wasting time but there’s so many staff on that it’s okay to take an extra five or ten minutes if you need to.  Plus, like I may have mentioned in previous posts, the atmosphere is just more professional.  The management team actually feel like managers.  The store manager actually feels like the leader that everyone looks up to and can trust.  Don’t get me wrong, at my previous job, we tried to emulate that, but really, we were just kids faking it til we made it…and we just didn’t quite get there.  I also find it more professional in the sense that they’re very clear about what their expectations of you are – what your monthly targets are for everything, what else they expect from each sale (eg, leaving notes on the customers account).  They follow up on things if you do something wrong and explain clearly how to do it properly.  It’s worlds apart from what I was used to, and it wasn’t for our lack of trying as managers.  The company itself just didn’t explain itself clearly, didn’t have procedures in place to allow managers to check things, didn’t put enough emphasis on things they should have.  It’s where a lot of my frustration stemmed from, so it’s wonderful to be in a job where all this is not only in place, but seen as completely normal.

I think I’m also doing well in sales.  We have a tracker we get sent each morning and I’ve been up and down a bit, but overall, for my main targets, I think I’m doing better than expected.  I was nervous about this as although I know I can sell, I’m competing with dozens of others who have similar targets to me.  I just wasn’t sure how I’d go up against so many people.  It turns out, it’s not really as big of an issue as I thought it might be, mostly because the store is busy enough for it not to matter.

Aside from work, there isn’t much else new.  I feel like all I do is go to work then come home and sleep, sometimes fitting in a little catch up TV, sometimes not.  It’s exhausting, not just work itself, but the travelling to and from.  I’ve been catching public transport most days, with the occasional exception where I’ll drive.  Either option usually takes around an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how long I have to wait for the bus and/or train.  Driving is sometimes faster if it isn’t peak hour, but then I pay more in parking (and petrol), which is why I’ve been avoiding it.

One of the most painful things about working so far away, I worked out, is that my train doesn’t run after 8.20pm weeknights.  I mean, I know I’ve said previously I don’t want to be on a train at night – and I don’t – but when I have a 2-9 shift, I don’t have anywhere to park that won’t cost an arm and a leg (if I get into the city before 10am, I get ‘Earlybird Parking’ rates, which is basically a flat fee of $17 provided I leave after 3pm).  I looked into Uber, but even that would cost me $40+ each way.  From January, I’ve had to put in that I can’t work after 7.30pm for this reason.  In the meantime, I’ve got two choices – I either go in early and get Earlybird rates and kill time until my shift starts, or I park somewhere close to the city, then train it the rest of the way.  I took the first option last week, and killed time by seeing Mockingjay for the second time.  This week, I’ll probably do the latter option.

Last night, I went and saw Taylor Swift as part of her 1989 World Tour.  I’ve reviewed the whole event here.

Aside from that, I don’t think there’s anything else worth writing about.  I’ve spent a majority of today sleeping (as I do most Saturdays).  Tomorrow I’ll go grocery shopping and wash my hair.  Nothing really interesting, but it has to be done.  I wish I had more to write on, but with all the travelling, it doesn’t leave room for much else.  If I didn’t love my workplace like I do, I’d probably be asking for a transfer to somewhere closer.  Instead, I’m gritting my teeth and dealing with it.  At least I’ve started reading on the train on my tablet, which is making the trips go quicker.  I’m still rereading the Hunger Games, but I’ve almost finished it.  I’ll have to find something else after that!

As for Christmas shopping, I have no ideas and no money.  Standard for me really.  I know I’m gonna have to start making some decisions soon, but right now I’m trying not to think about it.

My diet still hasn’t really gotten back on track.  That’s another issue with working weird hours and all the travelling – it makes having regular meals difficult, and makes having Lite n Easy even harder.  I’ve had maybe two LnE meals in the past two weeks because for the most part, I’m not home for dinner (at least 3 shifts a week I finish around 7), and even if I finish early, by the time I get home I don’t feel like eating.  It’s tough.  I know I’m going to have to find a way around it, but I just don’t see how.  I can’t really take the meals to work because the trip in will cause them to melt.  I’m just going to have to try to pack a healthy lunch (which I have been doing) and actually eating it (which I haven’t been).  At least I haven’t put any weight on, and am sitting right on 90kgs, which is still the lowest I’ve been in a long time.  I just can’t seem to get under it.

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, working in the city and catching public transport is at least giving me more exercise.  I’m averaging anywhere from 6-9000 steps a day, up from an average of 4-5000.  I also run up and down a huge flight of stairs many times a day, and each time I can feel that I’m getting slightly less breathless.  Maybe sometime soon I won’t even get winded at all.

Last night after Taylor Swift, I checked my step count and I’d done almost 15000 steps for the day.  That’s blown my previous record of 9000 out of the water.  I guess that’s what happens when you go to work then walk to and from the concert.  I was really happy that I wasn’t even winded after the walk back.  I mean, I know it was cold and we weren’t walking particularly fast, but it would have been a good couple of kilometres (maybe more).  I really do feel like I’m getting fitter, slowly but surely.  Yay!

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Screenshot of my fitness tracker prior to my walk back

Anyway, I think that about wraps up everything worth talking about.  How’s everything going with you?  Hope y’all had a good week too!

– JD

Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Review

So, after buying the tickets over a year ago, and dramas with the people I was originally going with no longer coming, the night finally arrived.  This is my fourth Tay Tay concert.  The first one I went to was at a (relatively) small location that most Melbournians are familiar with as a nightclub – Billboards.  She would have been about 19, this was her first time performing in Australia and she only had one album behind her.  She was still very country-sounding, and still had her famous curly hair.  There was maybe 500 people in the venue.

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Taylor Swift, Billboards, March 2009

Flashforward to now, six and a half years later, and she’s sold out three Melbourne shows, has lost her curls and has moved far away from her country roots.  She still enjoys her sparkly dresses though!

I’ll be honest, after the dramas leading up to it and the massive wait since purchasing the tickets, my enthusiasm wasn’t particularly high as I was heading in for the show.  It didn’t help it was Friday night after a long work week, and I’d been up since 6am.  Still, I’d wrangled presale tickets that cost $180 each (a far cry from the $50 I paid way back in 2009) so I was going to try to “shake off” my tiredness and enjoy the show.

The first thing I did was head to the nearest merch stand and join the massive line.  I know it’s a rip off but I always get something from concerts.  I couldn’t get anything at Billboards, but each concert since I’ve grabbed something – the first I got was a cute hat, the following one I got a shirt (which I still wear more than pretty much anything else).  As I was standing in line, squinting to see what was on offer, I was tossing up whether to get another shirt, or spend an arm and a leg on a hoodie.  I decided to bite the bullet and go for the hoodie as I didn’t have many jumpers anyway, and I already had a shirt.  At the last second, my best mate jumped in and shoved cash at the girl, telling me it was my Christmas present.  I honestly didn’t see it coming and didn’t have time to react, so I couldn’t stop him spending so much on me.  It was nice of him to do, but the hoodie was $100.

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My merch collection

After waiting in line for over half an hour and not having eaten since lunch (which felt like a lifetime ago by this stage), we headed off to find food.  This was when it first became clear that the venue – AAMI Park – was not like the usual arena these sort of concerts were held at (it’s normally held at its sister stadium Rod Lavar Arena, but Elton John was performing there that night).  Rod Lavar Arena had everything inside the concourse and you could enter through any door and walk around.  AAMI park, it seemed, did not work like that, at least not during this kind of event.  We initially headed up the closest steps which read Gate 6, 7 and 8, assuming we’d just walk around to Gate 2 (where we needed to be).  Once we got up there, though, there were temporary fences blocking the way and mobs of people trying to work out where to go.  Even with security around, there just wasn’t enough to get to everyone.

We headed back down the stairs and started walking around the outside of the stadium, not even sure if we were headed in the right direction.  On the way, we stopped by a food stand and purchased overpriced, tasteless dinner.  I could say it was disappointing (and it was), but Australians have come to expect that from stadiums so there’s really not much point in going into detail with that.  We ate it to curb our hunger, not because we thought we’d enjoy it.  As we were eating, we kept walking, battling through the enormous crowds, hoping like hell we were walking in the right direction and we wouldn’t hit another fence.  Luckily, we found the right gate and headed up, only to be told in no uncertain terms we would not be allowed in with backpacks…and my friend had a giant one as he’d come straight from work.  I also had a large bag, although I wasn’t told specifically one way or the other whether mine would be acceptable.  As it was getting late, we just assumed mine would be too big as well, to save us getting knocked back a second time.  We were told to go back downstairs and to the drop off arena.  Another line to wait in.  Backpacks were never an issue at Rod Lavar, so this was another annoyance to add to the list.  Nobody even gave an explanation as to why – it just was.

While I was waiting, I changed into my new hoodie, as the night was already cooling down quickly and I’d only worn a light cardigan.  The hoodie was awesome – I got the biggest size they had, and it was oversized and warm and snuggly.  I was very happy about that as I was worried it’d be bad quality (as some stuff from merch stands can be).  Instead, it’s now the best jumper I own!

After finally dropping off our bags and heading upstairs again, we were let inside.  They handed us a white rubbery bracelet at the door, and then we basically had to fumble our way through the concourse trying to decipher the signage.  Yet another thing Rod Lavar does better – a lot better.  The signage was confusing, sometimes hard to find and always hard to translate back to what was on the ticket.  Once we finally found the right door to go through, we headed down to the floor.  As I mentioned earlier, these were expensive presale tickets.  I was under the impression they’d be good seats.  While I’m not denying there were probably worse ones, these weren’t fantastic.  The seats were cheap plastic temporary ones, zip-tied together far too close for comfort so when everyone was sitting we were all crammed in.  The other issue with being on the floor was that its all one level, so unless you’re in the front row of your section, it’s a gamble as to what you’ll actually be able to see.  I wasn’t impressed.  And before anyone starts, presale tickets don’t give you a massive choice of seating, so I couldn’t have chosen to go Level 1 or 2 even if I’d wanted to, unless I took my chances and waited until they officially went on sale, but the previous tour tickets sold out within twenty minutes or something, so I didn’t want to risk it.  Plus, you’d assume presale tickets would be good seats anyway.

My other annoyance was that the roof doesn’t close on AAMI Park.  It was designed to be a sports arena (namely, soccer) so I guess they didn’t need a roof for that.  All I can say is, I’m glad it didn’t rain, as being on the floor (aka the ground) would mean there’s absolutely no protection from the weather.  It was seriously cold though.  The wind was strong and icy and everyone was shivering and pulling on any extra layers they could.  I, once again, was relived I’d chosen the hoodie at the merch stand.  I don’t think I’d have lasted through the whole concert with just the cardigan I came with.  Had the concert been at Rod Lavar like the previous two, the stadium roof would have been closed and the wind blocked out.  Instead, we all froze half to death.

As the seats filled up, it became very apparent I’m not going to be able to see very much.  I was about halfway down in our ‘section’ and there were taller people in the front rows.  Plus, I had little girls in the seats in front of me (maybe about 8 and 10) and the only way they could see over anyone was to stand on their seats.  I completely understood, but it didn’t help my view.  $180 and I could barely even see the giant screens next to the stage (never mind the stage itself).  What a joke.  As there was a massive space next to our seats (I’m talking at least 5×5 metres, minimum), I went and stood there instead, where my view was much, much better.

The concert started with a bang, as it should.  It started with Welcome to New Yorkwith giant black-and-white noir-style images on the screens behind the stage.  It quickly jumped then into New Romanticsone of my favourite tracks off the album.

During costume changes, there were “interviews” with Taylor’s squad, including Selena Gomez and her best friend Abigail, full of messages targeted at the younger members of the audience.  All bubbly and uplifting and occasionally funny.   Again, I understand the motive behind them, and I’m sure the younger members of the audience enjoyed them and got something from them, but for the older people (which is actually a large majority), it was a time to notice the cold and wish she’d come back on stage to distract us from it once more.

About halfway through she played my favourite song from the album, How to Get the Girl.  It was also around this time that an old security guard marched up to us and told us we must go back to our seats due to “OH&S issues”.  What the fuck does that mean?  We weren’t in the way, there was metres of space on either side, we were still close to the seating, and we weren’t hurting anyone at all by being there.  I was going to argue, but I knew exactly what he’d say – “if I let you do it, I’ll have to let everyone do it”.  Fair enough, except most people seemed okay where they were.  It was only us and maybe two others from our seating group who’d decided to move slightly away from the seats.  Whatever.  My bad mood returned as I struggled to see anything at all.  It again crossed my mind to leave, not because of the concert (it was her usual awesome quality), but because of the awful venue choice.  I managed to find somewhere to stand where I could see at least one screen, so that helped.  It also helped that a couple of songs after How to Get the Girl, she’d jumped onto a giant crane and was above the heads of the crowd, so I could finally get a decent view that wasn’t from a screen.

When she jumped onto the crane, she played a really old song of hers, Fifteen, as her twenty-sixth birthday is next week.  It’s a great song, so this lifted my mood again further.  She spent the next few songs on the crane, so standing in my seating area wasn’t an issue.  She played Love Story, which I’d seen her perform at her last two concerts, but this was a slightly more rocky version, and was really cool.  Then – sadly – she got off the crane.  By this point, though, the little girls in front had succumbed to the cold and had gone home, so my view suddenly got a lot better anyway. (Side note, another reason why this venue sucks.  I mean, yes, I got my view, but those little girls had probably been counting down the months, weeks and days to come to this concert and then left halfway through because they couldn’t stand the wind any more.  And their parents would have paid the same price for a ticket I had, but for 4 people as the girls had an older sister with them as well – that’s $720 for half a concert!  They battled to stay too, but it got to the point one of them was hunched over and close to tears from the cold. Seriously, that’s messed up.)

The best two songs IMO came right towards then end, when she played We’re Never Getting Back Together followed closely by Wildest Dreams.  The coolest part of that was she’d remixed the latter to combine any older song of hers – Enchanted – with it.  I love both those songs, so it was the highlight of the show for me.

Sadly, unlike her US and UK shows, Australia didn’t get any surprise visits from Taylor’s friends.  I can’t say I’m surprised, as down under usually miss out on stuff like that, but it would have been nice to have had it too.

As the show wrapped up with Shake It Off, we left halfway through.  Not by choice, really, as I would have loved to see it through to the end, but because we knew if we didn’t get out early, we’d get stuck in the massive line to collect our bags.  It was lucky we did leave then, as we were right towards the front of the line.  Once the show let out, the line was so long it wrapped around the outside of the stadium so far I couldn’t see it any more.  We assumed they’d be pleased we’d come early and gratefully hand over our things as quickly as possible.  After the evening’s dramas though, I don’t know what gave me that idea.  We were told that the bags were being kept in a secure location but couldn’t be accessed until a majority of the people had cleared the stadium as it was right off a corridor that is used to let people out.  Basically, they couldn’t give us our stuff for “at least twenty minutes, but maybe longer”.

SERIOUSLY.

I was extremely annoyed by the way this stadium ran things.  I don’t know who designed it or why it was thought to be a good idea to do it that way, but if you aren’t going to allow backpacks into the arena, thereby forcing a large number of patrons to use the cloak room system that otherwise wouldn’t and who didn’t have any choice in the matter, don’t make them wait for twenty minutes in the blistering cold to get them back.  It’s common fucking sense.  Either cordon off the corridor, or don’t use that area to store stuff in the first place.  Once they finally deemed the stadium empty enough, it was just as disorganised actually getting our stuff back.  There was one little table slotted in one little doorway, and they’d take the ticket they’d given us earlier and tell us to “wait to the side” – all well and good except they’re saying that to 10, 20, 30 people at once.  There’s physically no room to fit that many people in that little space.  And yet, they kept insisting people “move over” to let people who hadn’t given their ticket in.  It was chaos.  I was so relived when my bag finally made an appearance.  I just wanted to get out of there.

On the walk back, the traffic we walked past was absolutely bumper-to-bumper stopped back as far as the eye could see.  I don’t think it was a great idea to have Elton John and Taylor Swift playing at stadiums a stones-throw away from each other.  The city streets couldn’t deal with that kind of traffic.  The line at the taxi rank was enormous, and I’m sure would have taken hours to clear as the cars were barely moving in front of it, meaning taxis couldn’t get there if they wanted to.  As cold and tired as I was, I was glad I’d predicted this and had parked further away from it all.  I could hear people talking on phones nearby complaining loudly about having no way to get home.

One thing I haven’t mentioned but that really, really impressed me was the free bracelets we got given at the door.  They lit up different colours and at different times in time to the music.  I know that doesn’t sound all that cool, but in a sea of 30,000 people, all with them on, it was beautiful.  The thing that impressed me the most about it was that they’d managed to do it by seating – for one song, the people in the stands had their bracelets lit up blue, and us down on the floor had them green.  I’m sure this will become the new norm for concerts in the future, as it beats the hell out of mobile phone screens and overpriced flashing torches from the merch stand.

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Overall, the concert itself was great, and the setlist, backgrounds, special effects, costumes and crane usage was very well done and thought out.  I only wish the venue hadn’t let me down in so many ways, and almost ruined a night that should have been epic.  I will not be going back to AAMI Park for concerts (and seeing as how sport is not my thing, it’s a safe bet I won’t be going there for that either).  If Taylor performs there next time, I will be skipping it.  I’m not going to risk spending big bucks and not being able to enjoy myself.  I only hope that she manages to get back to Rod Lavar next time where everything is a lot better!

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Panorama of the stadium with their bracelet lit up

Time to Change – Day Seventy-Two

Hey guys,

Once again it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  I’d like to say it’ll get better but I’ve got a big month coming up (without even including Christmas) so we’ll see how we go.

So, the last week I’ve spent working in my own store instead of the one I was training in.  It isn’t open yet (that’s tomorrow!) so we spent a week being trained up on absolutely every faucet of the store and how it’s going to run.  First off, I just want to say how amazing the store is.  I mean, it cost $15 million or something insane like that (I feel like that might be an exaggeration but that’s what I was told) so if it wasn’t amazing, I’m sure there would be plenty of people with plenty to say.  Either way, I love it.  It’s two levels and huge and I really think the customers will be very impressed by it all.  My favourite part of the whole place, though, is something the customers will never see – the back room.  It’s seriously bigger than the whole store (shop floor and back office together) that I used to work in.  We each have our own massive locker (only accessible via our personal passcard), there’s a beanbag room, a huge break room and kitchen with vending machines, a slushy machine, a fridge, two microwaves and a fully stocked breakfast bar (including a toaster and sandwich press).  We also have a PlayStation 4 and a table tennis table we can use.  I can’t stress enough how fantastic it feels to have a company truely care and want to look after their staff like this, especially coming from a company that didn’t even want to give us money for a small store Christmas party.

The training week was interesting.  There were parts I really enjoyed and parts that I probably could have done without.  It was awesome getting to know the (giant) team, and I think I’m doing pretty well with names and faces considering there’s over 90 of them.  It helps we all wear name tags and I’ve added a lot of them on facebook as well.  I know I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but the company do really well in picking really wonderful trainers for these things.  For most of the week I was in a guy named John’s group (I’d been in one of his trainings previously but I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold on him then.  To be fair though, I didn’t want to even be in that training as it was after a long day at work and on a boring topic).  It turns out he’s awesome.  He’s really funny and supportive and he made the week a lot of fun.

After the week wrapped up, we partied up like we were all 18 and our parents were out of town.  We were given access to what seemed like a limitless supply of alcohol, pizza was delivered and we hung out in our giant back room and got to know each other.  Some people headed to the bean bags and set up a make-over area (I didn’t last there very long as it isn’t my scene), others huddled around the PS4 and versed each other in games of FIFA16.  There were people who set up a table tennis competition.  The main attraction, however, was beer pong.  There’s nothing quite like bringing a crowd together like a drinking game – especially when, after a couple of hours, the store manager agreed to play.  Very amusing to watch!

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Booze and PS4

I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling too good towards the end (I probably shouldn’t have mixed drinks…or even drunk at all given I was already headachy before the party started).  That being said, I hung around for quite awhile, until I knew if I didn’t leave, I’d be on public transport at night.  I know that’s an inevitability sooner or later, but for right now, I’m trying to avoid it.

As I walked out of the building, I walked headlong into the last thing I was expecting – a giant protest marching at a snail’s pace down the street.  I guess this shows just how much I’m not a city chick.  If I was, maybe it wouldn’t have come as such a shock, but I’ve never been this close to a protest ever…not one on this scale, anyway.  I had one storm past my old work through the shopping centre once, but that was a couple of people taking an leisurely stroll compared to this.  It was interesting and I was fascinated by it as I was headed towards the train station.  Then I realized I’d have to cross the road…and that was going to be an issue as the protest was going in both directions as far as the eye could see, and everyone was so tightly packed in that I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do.  I think quite a few people had the same issue as me – some just decided they’d hang back and watch, and I guess wait until it fizzled out or moved on.  I didn’t have that luxury as I knew I was already cutting it fine trying to get home before nightfall.  Then I saw a guy with a stony look of determination on his face, his eyes pointed squarely across the street, and he marched into the crowd, weeding his way through.  I decided I’d have to do the same.  I don’t think anyone in the protest was too impressed as I forced my way though, but honestly, I don’t care.  As much as I’m okay with people trying to change the world and show the government what they stand for, I’m not going to miss my train because of it.  Especially not when it looked like it could go on for a long time yet.

I was extremely relieved when my feet hit the pavement on the other side of the road.  As I kept walking, I still couldn’t believe how many people were part of the protest.  If I had of known it was happening, I probably would have left the work party earlier and kept walking to try to find the end of it.  Instead, I headed into the train station, glad that having the work party at least meant I’d missed peak hour so I’d get a seat.  I got home right on nightfall, thankful I’d decided to shove through the crowd when I did!

Public transport in general has been going okay for the most part.  I hate that it means I have to get up at 6.30am (my previous job allowed me to get up at 7.30) but I quite enjoy not having to drive as much.  I am going to try to avoid getting on evening peak hour trains though, even if it means kicking back at work for half an hour.  I had one night where we were so jammed in that people from the next stop physically couldn’t get onto the train (and had some rude bitch asking me to move in more when clearly, we were already on top of each other).  It was extremely uncomfortable, made worse because I had terrible balance so need to hold something if I’m standing on the train, but the only thing I could grab was the rails on the roof, but I’m so short that I can barely grip it even at full stretch.  Not good.  Another night, a bunch of dero teens decided to sit on the seats right across from me, play shitty music on their shitty phones and treat it like their lounge room, including standing on the seats.  One of them beat up another kid in front of everyone, then later the same idiot even played “I just had sex” (not sure if that’s the title of the song but it was repeated over and over) and said it’s his favourite song with a smug look on his face like it was because he’d actually been laid…um, 16 year old shithead, that’s unlikely, and everybody on the train knows it.  It doesn’t matter how loudly you play that song, you ain’t fooling anyone.  I felt bad for the older lady sitting near them, who I’m sure was getting even more annoyed at them than me.  I really wish parents taught their kids train etqteique (particularly if you know they’re going to regularly catch it to and from school), as being young is no excuse to act like that.

Apart from work, I’ve had an awesome three-day weekend.  Seriously, it’s been one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time, and I didn’t even hang out with anyone.  Saturday I spent catching up on sleep and I redyed my hair to a brighter colour of red (still not entirely happy with it but it’s getting there).  Sunday I went to the shops to get my work uniform taken in, spent the afternoon relaxing (I started re-reading the Hunger Games) and I also purchased FIFA16 which I’m really enjoying.   It was on sale due to Black Friday and although it isn’t a game I’ve previously had any interest in, it looked really interesting when the boys were playing it at work.  Turns out I really like it, and I think I’m pretty good at it.  Sunday night I decided I was going to take myself to the movies.  This is something I’d previously never had considered – I’ve always been concerned about what people think (the fat chick sitting alone in the movies), but I decided I no longer care.  If they want to think that, that’s fine.  I really wanted to see Mockingjay Part 2 and I didn’t want to wait until my friends were free (if they even wanted to see it at all).  I also decided that I was going to spent an extra $10 and buy tickets for a comfy recliner seat.  Ever since the Hoyts Lux experience I had on my birthday, normal movie seats just don’t cut it for me any more – they’re uncomfortable, especially if the movie is long.  The recliner ticket was the best $10 I’ve spent in a long time, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I didn’t feel too judged (or maybe I just didn’t care enough to notice) and I really liked the movie.  I’ll definitely be doing it again!

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Today I had a busy day.  I headed back to the shops to collect my altered clothing, then I headed to Big W to buy a curling iron (I’d done some research and decided to get a Remington Perfect Curls, as it looked both good and idiotproof).  I got to the register, dug around in my wallet and found a partly-used gift card, went to put $10 on it as I wasn’t sure how much was left but didn’t enter it properly, and it wound up putting the whole lot on it – and it went through!  That was a massive win for the day, as I was nervous spending that much money right now (I wanted curls for tomorrow’s launch so I was just going to suck it up, but it wasn’t the best time to be spending cash).  Seriously, I couldn’t believe I’d gotten that lucky!  After that, I headed to the nail salon to get them redone.  I decided to get matching colours to my lanyard for tomorrow, and they looked really good in the end!  I then headed to the grocery store, then finally home.  A very busy day!

When I got home I cranked up my new curler and put it through it’s paces.  After trying for a week to get my hair straightener to do curls and epically failing, I was a little nervous as to if this would work.  I was extremely impressed with it!  As the reviews had said, it was definitely idiotproof, and it just worked.  There were two curl setting options – bigger, wavier ones or smaller, tighter ones.  As curls tend to drop out of my hair quickly, I decided to try the smaller ones, and within about 45 minutes, I was done and it looked really good.  The next test is to see how long they hold for, but I think it should be okay.  I’m so glad I bought it!

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Remington Perfect Curls 2-in-1 – definitely recommend!

I’m going to wrap it up here as I need to start making dinner (we won’t talk about my shocking diet this week.  Maybe I’ll have some better news next post).  Tomorrow is going to be a super huge day and I’m so excited for it!

Hope y’all had a great weekend too! 🙂

-JD