4 September

It’s that time of year when the shop fronts change like seasons. They’ll take the Olympic rings down and put up signs that implore you to think of your dad, to think of all dads. It’s Father’s Day very soon.

And I’m thinking about you.

I’m thinking about those who struggle as 4 September draws closer. As inboxes fill with calls to buy socks and fishing rods and rugby jerseys and books about golf. As signs are posted saying for your dad…

To those who have lost their dad, those who miss their dad: I’m sorry. I hope the signs don’t sting. I hope you find comfort in remembering him if he’s no longer right here. I hope you smile at the memory of his times with you his precious child. I hope your pain on this day is dulled by the gift of having him as your father. Please know people are thinking of you on this day. Of your loss. And they’re wishing they could find the words. And I hope you get calls and texts from people trying to find those words for you. So you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, you’re not alone.

Those who can’t call their dad on Father’s Day. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry if he’s never been a dad to you. And he’s nobody to celebrate. If he’s not deserving of a thought let alone a card – you don’t stand alone. I hope you have people around you who will let you vent or have a quiet place to take it all in. To work out where you stand and how you feel, because feelings change too and stories return to us even after years. I hope you know you’re loved, so loved. And one person not being the person they should have been to you doesn’t make you any less. I hope you can see what everyone else sees, that you’re brilliant and worthy and wanted. I hope those around you make sure you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, that you’re not alone.

To those who just don’t know – if they should talk to their father on this day: Don’t let the discourse around Fathers Day and its meaning invalidate your feelings. You matter and you have to make choices about your well-being. You know what’s right and sometimes it’s not the Hallmark thing. If your relationship with your father is just too complex, too much, if the waters under the bridge are raging – I’m sorry. And I hope you know there are others who feel that too. I hope thoughtless comments of “He’s your father and that’s all that matters” are drowned out by a torrent of love for you – and just you. And you know a day is a day is a day and there’s time in this world to heal and do what is right for you. I hope those around you make sure you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, that you’re not alone.

To those mothers who co-parent with grace and kindness even when their ex-partners have put them through the wringer and wouldn’t do the same for them, you’re seen on this day too, and in the lead-up. When you help your child collage a card and you work to foster a relationship for their sake – we see you. You’re not alone and we recognise you too. To the mothers who for the safety of their children have escaped homes of violence and pain to build something beautiful  – you’ve given the greatest gift to your children too. And this day is also testament to your courage. On this day, and others, and in the lead-up I hope you know you’re not alone.

And to those men who want to be dads but fertility is a shitty, unfair, rubbish roulette – I’m sorry. I hope you know there is such gratitude for the way you support your partner through the crushing lows of this desperate hope. You’re not forgotten. That pain is real and it’s shared by other would-be dads. Other dads that dream of children scrambling into bed with a hand-drawn card that says Happy Father’s Day. Those who have been through and had the best or the worst resolutions or no resolution at all – they know and they think of you on this day. There are no empty platitudes. Just the message that you’re not alone on this day, and in the lead-up to this day.

To the men who raise children with love and patience and kindness even though they haven’t known this from their fathers – We see you on Father’s Day. You broke a cycle and that’s huge. You changed a generation. You turned that pain into a beautiful thing. A fraught Father’s Day, a confusing mix of deep gratitude for the life you have now, and sorrow for the child you once were – that’s understandable. You’re not alone. On this day or any other. May your children bring you comfort, may you know it’s a special thing you’ve done, creating a family where there was none.

We honour the good dads when we put our humanity first and remember that for many Father’s Day isn’t a happy day. We can make it a better day for some, or just a day that doesn’t sting, or irritate, or anger, or hurt, if we show compassion. A really good Father’s Day could be a day where we remember we all have different ways of viewing this day. All of us. We celebrate each other and our humanity when we recognise that. That doesn’t take away from the wonderful dads, they stay wonderful, we keep celebrating them – it just makes sure nobody is left behind.


Dear Mamas: The Podcast – Episode five

We are late! We’re sorry! Oh life, life gets in the way. But you will love our latest podcast. Hopefully.

In this episode we explore how to know when you’re done having kids – is that even possible? Can you know? Holly is agonising over whether to have a second, I’m pretty sure I’m done at two…but BABIES ARE ADORABLE….so we ask our friend Andrea who has a lot of children (you’ll have to listen to find out just how many!!!), why she kept having kids and how she knew she was finally done.

In the process, she breaks every stereotype we thought we had about people with large families, graciously endures our wide-eyed questioning, and we hold hands and agree it’s different for everyone and we’re all doing just fine.


Dear Mamas is a monthly parenting podcast that’s all about the real honest sometimes tough stuff. Holly Walker and I hope to build friendship and community. You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Stitcher, or listen here on my blog. Holly will be posting transcripts of each episode here for anyone who’s unable to listen. Absolutely so grateful to MamaMuriel for doing the transcript for us. We are just so, so appreciative!

Us too

My son doesn’t fall asleep.

He crashes. Furiously. Ferociously.

Sometimes the journey to bed is calmer than other nights. He angrily asserts that he doesn’t want to sleep. His words are MAMA, DADDA, EDDIE, MINE and he yells them one after the other. I wish we could understand him. There’s a gulf between us at bedtime. And even holding him close to my chest I feel as if there’s water between us.

He dips and falls in his cot – holding his arms up reaching for us if we put him down. We respond with love. We quietly and evenly tell him he must sleep.

A shower.




A routine to the minute. We keep time and the clock holds all of the hopes for the night as well as signalling that there’s just so many open hours ahead of us.

Most nights it is a thrashing chaos. I hold my hand on his belly and shush him. I sing softly. I hold him in the chair – wedged into the corner of his tiny room. I lay on the mattress by his cot – with my hand through the bars, stroking his hair.

The mattress lives in the room by necessity. Sometimes we are so exhausted we fall asleep seconds after he does.

He cries. He screams. He coos.

My husband starts the first shift, then I’ll take over. Sometimes one of us has enough fortitude to give the other the night “off”. We’re quite equal – he seems to have no preference. He’ll drag either of us into the night. It makes little difference which one of us has to squeeze our eyes tight against tears in the dark.

When his breathing calms and I can feel his chest rising he is Schrödinger’s baby. In the dark I don’t know if he’s awake or asleep. I have to time my exit perfectly. If he’s awake and I leave I’ll have to start over. But I despair at spending more time than I need to in the tiny room of no sleep.

I think of all of the things I need to do. I become more frustrated as another half hour passes. Forty minutes. An hour. I try to swallow down and shake away the feeling that I have so much to do. I have to be here. This is where I need to be. But I don’t want to be here.

And then I think – what parent thinks that?

I feel guilt in treacherous waves. It feels like tempting fate to say I don’t want to be in this room of no sleep. The reason why we don’t voice our darkest parental frustrations is surely tied to the depth of our love for our children. What if I said something – that I didn’t want this? And what if? What if by some terrible cosmic force my beloved child was taken from me?

I touch a button when I see an ambulance. Keep the souls safe.

I am a sceptic, an atheist, and terribly superstitious.

After my baby was born I never stopped knocking on wood. The tap, tap, tap is my life now. The soundtrack to Life Parenting With An Anxious mind.

How could I live? How could I live without my baby? How could I live knowing he ever had a moment when I didn’t surround him by love? Even all the endless hours at night that he keeps us awake. All of those fucking terrible hours.

If I ever said the words what if somebody heard? What if something greater mistook the words for a wish? And they didn’t know that I just meant in that moment. That I just meant I’M TIRED. Please, I’m so very tired.

At my beloved aunt’s unveiling there was a haka. Beautiful and devastating. A powerful grief exploding. So fitting for a woman who was loved by so many. She wasn’t my real aunty. She was my husband’s. But I adored her and she loved me too. Really.

I miss her like we all miss the people who we imagined rocking our babies. Before you carried your baby you imagined a photo and they were in it and now you’re here and they’re not. And sometimes that seems absurd but it’s so ordinary – that sadness. The worst thing is how used to it you get, you shouldn’t get used to someone being gone forever.

During the haka I became overcome with emotion. I began to sob and I looked around me at the trees gently swaying in the wind. A kaumātua leaned over, I suppose wanting to help one of the few pākehā in attendance – he said, that’s our tīpuna, the ancestors, the family who were there before, they’ve come here for us. They’ve been called. And they’re all around us.

I felt like I was surrounded by love and I’ve felt that since.

I’ve felt it in the room of no sleep.

Sometimes I cry in the dark with my baby. After an exhausting day, after the night before of no sleep and no sleep before that and no sleep coming – I feel so overwhelmed and hollow.

I cry holding my baby’s hand through the bars of the cot. Imprisoned by the absence of sleep.

And then I’m calmed as he is.

I feel that feeling again.

I wonder if it’s all the love that we send each other at night.

The mamas all around the world who are so tired. Their backs sore from rocking their baby. Their throats raw from singing and shushing and a cold that never quite goes away because their immunity is shot from never sleeping. Their eyes red and sore. A dull throbbing headache. An aching neck. A longing for quiet and rest.

I think of them when I try to soothe my baby who won’t be soothed. I look past the curtains and picture Te Marama. And other mothers looking there too.

An invisible thread tying us together in this shared experience.

There’s a level of exhaustion that some mothers experience that cannot compare to anything else. It is expected and understood by most that babies are not great sleepers.

But at some point there stops being sympathy for mothers and fathers whose children don’t sleep. As if there must be some explanation. The rules haven’t been followed. It has to be someone’s fault. You just have to do the right thing.

Some mothers with children who sleep give advice on how to get your child to sleep. As if you haven’t tried everything already.

I met a mother once who said her baby slept and she didn’t know why. It was just luck she said. And she’d never ever give advice because who knows what makes a baby sleep?

I laughed and then began to cry. Big fat tears filled with relief. “Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with me?” I laughed again and coughed and sobbed. She pulled me into her arms – “It’s OK. You don’t have to be sorry,” she said.

Relief. Relief in the silence rather than the advice. The stupid advice.

You need to leave them to cry. They say. I did. They say. It only took three days to get them sleeping through the night.

You need to co-sleep. They say. That’s what I did. They say. It’s the easiest way to get them to sleep.

You need a routine. They say. The same bed time every night no matter what.

You need to look for tired signs. They say. They’ll rub their eyes and when they do – put them to sleep.

They need to be in the cot and you need to leave them and check every eight minutes, then every ten then every fifteen.

Don’t rock them to sleep. Just put them straight down.

Don’t hold them. Don’t make eye contact.

Don’t talk. Don’t sing.

They need to know bed time means bed time.

They say and they say and they say and I just watch their mouth moving as their voice becomes a hum as I hear the same words and I feel so tired.

They speak with such authority and it’s so tiring.

And each line is delivered as if it’s wisdom.

And if you react the way you want to with rolled eyes and say – our babies are different, I do have a routine. I’ve had one since he was four months old. I know what tired signs are – he’s my second child. I co-sleep. I have tried not holding him. I’ve tried no eye contact. I’ve tried everything there is. Maybe your child just isn’t mine.

Maybe children are all different just like adults are. And maybe my child is just like me. I can’t sleep. I lay in bed at night and count and then I think about the numbers and the sounds of the words that make the number and I think and I think and I think and all the thinking leads me to places that I don’t want to go to and I’ve always been that way.

Even as a child?

Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong.

Maybe this is just how it is.

And sometimes they’ll make comments like – well, when you’re tired enough you’ll change your mind. Or – I had to, I was so tired I was going crazy.

As if you’re not. As if you just have to reach some point where you say oh golly, I am tired! I’ll just try the newest sleep fad and I’m sure it will work because it worked for you. It’ll be just like a switch I flick. Once I’m tired enough.

And I start to feel so angry and frustrated and I want to scream and cry and I want to switch off all the noise. I’d rather be in a room with a screaming baby than listen to another person tell me how to get my child to sleep as if they know anything at all.

As if it’s not a cosmic joke which babies sleep and which ones don’t.

And then I feel calm. And I feel them.

The mums with the babies who don’t sleep. Who never give stupid advice. Who never assume you’re just not doing it right. Who never say when you’re tired enough you’ll do this.

They just smile and say – yeah. Solidarity. Mine is three. And she hasn’t slept through yet. Or – just – I’m so tired too. What I wouldn’t give for sleep!

And I feel safe with them. Like I don’t have to explain myself. Or lie. I don’t feel shit around them. I feel at peace.

My people. My mums. The mums like me.

The mothers of the never-sleepers who every night go to their rooms of no sleep.

I hope they feel the invisible thread.

I hope they see the moon too and know we are there. Us too.


Suicide Squad review: I can’t believe I put on a bra for this

My great aunt used to say if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. But she never saw Suicide Squad. And for that I am thankful. I never thought I’d be grateful that an elderly member of my family was dead – but there you go, that’s how abysmal Suicide Squad is.

If she was somehow alive, and saw this movie, she would have immediately retracted her advice and despite never missing a Sunday at church would have said – FUCK THAT. SUICIDE SQUAD IS SHIT ON A FUCKING STICK. And even that doesn’t convey how entirely atrocious Suicide Squad is from start to finish.

How do I put this? Suicide Squad is an absolute dumpster fire. I’ve had laparoscopic surgery that was less painful. I’ve been to funerals that were funnier. I’ve seen better character development in a life-insurance commercial.

The dialogue is so appalling – I can’t even adequately describe how bad it is. STILL my attempts at describing it would be better than the actual script.

“We’re the bad guys!”

They say. Eight thousand fucking times.


Every character (and there are at least 20 more characters than are actually needed) has a ridiculous tragic backstory. It’s like American Idol for shitty comic-book characters. Except even the worst episode of American Idol is better than Suicide Squad.

And maybe the characters aren’t meant to be shitty – I don’t know, I don’t know my Marvel from my DC or whatever it is. But really? REALLY? BOOMERANG GUY? REALLY?? HIS POWER IS BOOMERANGS??




And Harley Quinn… I mean Margot Robbie and Will Smith are the best things about this shitpile of a movie. But really, that’s like saying an ingrown toenail is better than a boil.

Why does Harley Quinn love Joker? Am I meant to know this before going in? Could you have explained this instead of knocking her out three damn times in one movie? Like who directed this cyst of a movie? Why did he (clearly a he) feel the need to have her punched that many times?

YOU ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD. BATMAN IS MEANT TO BE A GOOD GUY AND YOU’VE GOT HIM PUNCHING WOMEN IN THE FACE WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? If you are a director and you have to show a heel turn – there are other ways to do it besides inflicting violence on women characters.

I mean when the WWE are better at turning good guys into bad guys than you – you are not good at your job.

How does she have a personal hairdresser when she lives in a fucking cage? How did she do her hair and make-up in half a second? Why are they letting her have a curling iron? Honestly like a hundred times they point out she’s crazy but by all means let’s give her a curling iron. Do you know how many times I’ve unintentionally hurt myself with a curling iron?

Why does she love Jared Leto when he’s such a repulsive douchebag? Why is he even in this movie? Is it Stockholm Syndrome? Are we meant to believe it’s love? WHAT DOES HE EVEN DO? WHAT DOES THE JOKER DO EXCEPT BE A FUCKING DICKHEAD???

That’s not even the bit that annoyed me the most in the movie.



“What if I lose control?” – SERIOUSLY? Everything around you is falling apart and is on fire. I mean for fuck’s sake mate. Get it together. You are the only one with actual abilities here I mean JESUS MATE. SORT YOUR FUCKING SHIT OUT.


Dear god this film almost gave me an aneurism it was so stupid. If you have to repeatedly have one character explain everything that has happened in the movie in order to make me understand your INCOMPREHENSIBLE plot and to move the relentlessly unbelievable and pointless plot  – YOU ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB WITH YOUR MOVIE!!!

I mean clearly I am meant to have read some comic books or something to understand this flaming turd on a doorstep of a movie. I mean Superman is dead now? When the fuck did that happen? Isn’t the whole point of Superman that he can’t die?

JESUS. I can’t believe I put my bra on to see this movie.

I’m still alive kind of


I’ve had heaps of emails so I thought I should write this post. The emails are kind of “I’m not on Facebook or Twitter and you haven’t posted since the Tarzan post! ARE YOU DEAD? HAVE YOU GIVEN UP MUMMY BLOGGING?”

Or they say: “WHY AREN’T YOU BLOGGING ABOUT MUM STUFF ANYMORE? I don’t want film reviews give me mum stuff”.


And so I’m sorry. I didn’t disappear. Look at all these reviews I went and wrote for Metro Magazine:

But yeah, I haven’t posted anything since Tarzan. Because of two things:

1) I don’t like all the extra attention.

Don’t yell at me – don’t do that thing where you say but you’re a blogger you have to be some narcissist who lives for going viral and getting heaps of followers and heaps of traffic. I like my usual audience – I find sudden, enormous audiences overwhelming. I love nice comments. I don’t like mean comments.  And that’s what you get when you go viral. And then people who want to go viral all the time are mean and jealous. And all of that combines to make me want to dig a very tiny hole and live in that hole.

2) I am tired.

I have two kids. I can only blog when I have something to say. If I blog when I don’t have something to say – why am I blogging? I find that some of the most divisive stuff in this genre of blogging is written for the express purpose of a lot of hits. It’s calculated. And I hate that. And I try to stop myself being that type of blogger by only blogging when I have something to say. When I feel compelled to share something. Then I sit on it for a wee while so I know it’s not going to hurt anyone or make anyone feel shit or pit mums against each other. I rarely, if ever, write about controversial things.

POINT TWO POINT FIVE: So back to being tired. This isn’t my job though I’d very much like it to be. And if you want to hire me to come and speak at your thing or write something for you I would love for you to email me at emilywritesnz @ gmail.com. But it’s not my job. My kids and my actual paid work job are my jobs. So when I suddenly get paid work. Like with Metro. I have to focus on that. Also I am finishing my book. Which is also a paid job. So like anyone with children or jobs or both I am very tired at the end of the day. And the end of the day is when I do my writing.

And I know these are excuses – but I have been sick a lot because the kids keep getting sick.

And this blog doesn’t make me money. Like everyone was like PAY DAY! When they saw the Tarzan stats and it’s like who do you think is paying me lol? And I can’t just put advertising up because I get too scared that some mum is going to come on here and she’s going to have a two day old baby and there’s going to be an ad for “LOSE YR BABY WEIGHT FATTY” or another mum who is stressed about returning or not returning to work will see an ad that says “LOAN $15K HERE NOW JUST CLICK HERE FREE MONEY” and it’s a terrible loan shark person. And I know you can click things to make sure you don’t get that on your site but they always slip through.

I don’t want to make money from ads that encourage gambling or other things that I think cause social harm. And then when places contact me and are like – we will pay for you to have our ad up – but their company is ethically iffy or like they want me to say just organically hey mums if you really loved your children you’d use THIS PRODUCT THAT COSTS MANY MANY HEAPS OF DOLLARS. And I have to say – While I like your money, I can’t actually tell mums to buy your thing or whatever because I wouldn’t buy your thing or whatever.

And I know some people would say – just take the money who cares. But I can’t. Because it feels shitty. And I don’t want to sell to all of you when you came here to read something not to be sold to. I have a great sponsor in Flick – BUT I am with Flick. As in – they’re my power company. It’s not hard to say – hey, you should be with Flick, if I would tell you that even if I wasn’t being paid to tell you that through having a picture on the corner of the blog. Does that make any sense, I coughed all last night and I feel like garbage on a stick.

Don’t tell Flick I would still tell people to sign up with them if I wasn’t paid because then they might stop paying me. But that’s the point I’m making. I don’t want to push products here. Which is how you monetise a blog.

Oh and a third thing even though I said there were only two things: I just wanted a break. There’s so much pressure to do all this stuff like please can you do the new thing? And I feel pressure to do the new thing.

I don’t want to hustle. I want a break.

I don’t want to do Facebook Live.

OH AND YEAH INSTAGRAM – so I post photos of my kids on instagram and I love seeing photos of your kids on Instagram. And Twitter. And Facebook. And when I share a photo of them I think it’s like just you and me hanging out laughing about our kids and they’re so cute and their faces are just so cute and look at the cheeks and stuff. But then I’m like – Oh, I have 13k FB followers now. And I don’t know, that doesn’t feel like a little crowd anymore. And it doesn’t really feel so much like just you and me being like HOW CUTE ARE THE KIDS.

But it’s hard. If I take a photo of my child and his bestie at some show that costs a lot of money to go to, they get to go to the show that costs lots of money to go to. And I get to give away family passes so other families like mine who can’t afford to go to shows get to go to shows. My sons wouldn’t ever get to do the things they’ve been able to do if I didn’t share some of it online.

It’s a moving feast. And I don’t know what the answer is.

Because sharing has created a beautiful community and I feel really lucky for all of the opportunities we have had. But my kids come first. And I don’t know, it’s hard. I want to make sure I’m doing the absolute best by them. And my husband and I talk about this heaps. And at the moment, I’m not sharing pictures of the kids anymore or as much or I don’t know.

I miss Instagram.

But I don’t ever make nice food.

So what am I going to do on Instagram because nobody wants to see photos of my food because it’s not good food. I just ate some possibly past the use by date ham straight from the fridge because I’m sick.

Will you follow me on Instagram for my possibly past the use by date ham?

So I will keep writing mum stuff. Reviews are fun but I love writing about being a mum and I’m always writing as a mum anyway.

I’m also speaking at this thing here. And I would really like you to come as well. I really want to see you and we can all raise money for two real, super great charities – Wellington Women’s Refuge and Wellington Rape Crisis. You can read about what a choice thing it is here.

Extraordinary tales

And yeah, so I have been doing that and the book and also just being like – I love to write and speak and do stuff like that but I don’t know am I becoming a very tired old lady who doesn’t have the energy to curate a life because that doesn’t come naturally to me. And while I am lucky that I don’t spend money blogging – I don’t pay for boosting on FB or for followers or advertising on other sites – there are still hidden costs. Like paying for all of the traffic for the month. I had dramas with my host and while that eventually got sorted there’s still costs there. They will likely eat up what I got paid for reviews. So it’s a bit of a poo cycle you know?

I think I’m getting my period.

Look, this has been a mopey post and for that I’m sorry. I have nothing to mope about. I am just Feelings Central over here and I’m trying to know what to do with MY LIFE you know? Like, I started blogging on accident and at no point have I said – Hmmm should I actually be doing this?


But not really any – so what’s your end game? When does this stop? Does it keep going? Are you done with all of this now?

So until I work all of that out things might be a bit quiet here. But I have some giveaways to do. And a review or two. I got sent food last week which is pretty great because you need food to live.

Free tip.

Anyway, after all that navel gazing – how are you? Getting any sleep? I’m sure as shit not getting any fucking sleep and the other day I got told about a sheep that helps babies get to sleep and I was like WHERE I WILL BUY IT and I should know better I mean Jesus. How the fuck is a sheep going to make a kid sleep better. But I will buy it. If it works I will have my house full of fucking sheep and just become a shepherd. I will dedicate my life to sheep. I will wear the shepherd robes. Oh I guess shepherds don’t wear robes anymore. Are they even called shepherds? Am I thinking of farmers? They wear those flannel check shirts. I was thinking about the bible I think. Like olden day shepherds.

I could buy a flannel check shirt.

If it is black.

Baaa go the fuck to sleep baaa

Baaa go the fuck to sleep baaa it’s bed time bitch

Oh and I almost forgot but didn’t. If you liked Tarzan I would really love it if you joined me for a wine and watched it with me. I’m raising money for a local kindy that needs a hand. All proceeds to them. And the amazing and sensuous Chris Tse will be reading the review in full before the screening. Buy tickets here! Please buy a ticket otherwise I will have to pay for it. And I think we have established that I can’t do that because I bought all these sheep on Trademe to live in suburban Wellington.


Goth boutique sheep farmer signing off.


Weiner review: The Movie About The Dickpic Guy

Weiner is an absolutely fascinating documentary. You should see it. There is so much I could say about it – but really, you should just see it. And then we can talk about it. It’s about “The Dickpic Guy” as I called him to everyone in the week preceding the documentary.

As in: “What’s your next movie?”

“It’s called Weiner but it’s not about dicks. It’s about The Dickpic Guy in the States.”

The Dickpic Guy, if you don’t already know, is Anthony Weiner. Former member of the US House of Representatives and wannabe New York mayor. It’s a documentary with incredible access – I felt uncomfortable at just how much was filmed (no dicks but some scenes I’d have preferred were just dicks because they were so intense). Even the cameraperson eventually asks, “Why are you letting us film this?”

It chronicles Weiner’s campaign to 1) recover from being The Dickpic Guy and 2) become mayor of New York.

American politics are so just batshit crazy, this documentary just reinforces that. I cannot imagine this type of hysteria in New Zealand. At one point, during a montage of flag waving and cheering – “WEINER! WEINER!” – I almost wanted to vote. And I’m not American. I’ve never even been there.

The people I felt for most in the documentary were the people working so hard to make Weiner succeed. His long-suffering comms manager (“No, that is not the strategy”), his very diverse team of phone-call takers and sign wavers, his staffers and supporters… I wanted him to apologise to them. He is the most self-sabotaging and least self-aware person I’ve ever seen on screen.

I also wanted him to really, really apologise to his clearly very, very intelligent (but also broken by this relentless humiliation) wife Huma Abedin.

Huma is captivating. In every scene I was drawn to her every movement. Which made me feel sick and voyeuristic. I kept thinking, She hates him. Does she hate him? Does she love him?


Huma worked with Hillary Clinton (and still does) and I couldn’t help but wonder if she and Hillary ever got on the turps and talked about how useless and pathetic the men in their lives are.

Do they really love these men? There are obvious parallels between Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton. They’re both very charismatic men who want to make the world a better place (a common goal for politicians, of course, and I’m making no comment about how successful they’d be, or were, at it). They’re also both morons who think with their dicks.

And that’s in a way what this documentary is about – human frailty. And how ego and the quest for power turn people into morons. Or maybe how morons are just morons. Or that you can be very clever but also very not clever. But also that there is so much complexity in the mistakes we make in life – and to do this publicly is a nightmare.

Morally, I don’t have as much of an issue with what Weiner did as others seemed to. He humiliated his wife – and he lied to her. That’s what I care about. That’s what I think makes him a dickhead. But I also think that’s between him and his wife – and they can sort their shit out without any commentary from me.

I care less that he lied to anyone else, and the dickpics were solicited so in that regard I’m not bothered.

I DO find it astounding that a country that will likely elect Evil Personified – a race-baiting, repulsive, disgusting, moronic bigot who isn’t even as smart as your average beagle – was so horrified by this scandal.

I mean – this is what stops the country? A handful of dickpics? That’s what destroys a campaign?

I thought that the only legitimate attack on Weiner would be that he can’t exercise good judgment because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HE CANNOT STOP TAKING PHOTOS OF HIS DICK. I mean, I get it, I felt like yelling at the screen: SERIOUSLY PUT YOUR FUCKING DICK AWAY GOOD GOD.

But then – Trump. The next US president might be a guy who has been accused of raping a 13-year-old. And that isn’t a scandal apparently.

So fuck knows. The US is a weird place. The media machine is terrifying and weird.

Weiner is weird. And fascinating.  It’s a very unique insight into some very strange views on morality and power and egoism and humiliation from a superpower. Go see it. Then be glad you don’t live there.

Then feel bad for the people who do and have no choice. The scene where media and Weiner and his staffers walk past a homeless person asleep on the sidewalk, without even noticing, says just so much about politics today. Dickpics are the least of our problems.

This post was originally published online for Metro Magazine.

Paris 5.59 review: Come for the orgy, stay for the romance

What can I say about Paris: 5.59 given all you want to hear about is the orgy that kicks off the movie?

Let’s just get down to it. Grab a (stiff) drink and I’ll explain the ins and outs of the scene. It’s actually really hard to put into words… I will premise this by saying I’ve been in exactly zero orgies. I haven’t even been orgy-adjacent. I’m a suburban mum of two who is married and monogamous.

I’m guessing orgies in Wellington are few and far between, but I wouldn’t really know to be honest. There could be a thriving and throbbing scene out there but I wouldn’t know. Unfortunately we never discuss orgies at the kindy gate.

If I were invited to an orgy. I’d be the one in the comfortable seat in the corner just sipping on tea, fully clothed, giving positive verbal reassurance because I’m a people pleaser. Just, you know, “Well done, he seems to be really enjoying that,” and, “Good job, sweetheart, you’re being very thorough.”

I’m unsure if orgies really need someone in the corner just giving the thumbs up and offering refreshments – you know, cut oranges or something – but if there is such a role, that would be what I’d be doing at an orgy.

With that being said, I can say that this orgy looked like the most fun orgy I’ve witnessed. Out of the one orgy, this one, that I’ve witnessed. So well done to the organisers, or um film-makers, because there were plenty of supplies and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.

I imagine it’s very hard to organise an orgy, so I just wanted to give that positive feedback. It was well-lit despite being in what looked like a cave. There were plenty of supplies in handy dispensers. There were lockers for clothing so nobody was tripping over anyone’s bags. Well done.

So, what can be said of the rest of the film? It’s a lovely film. I wasn’t expecting it to be so romantic, given that I saw more dicks in the first five minutes than I’ve seen in my entire 31 years on this planet. Was that hypocritical of me? That I thought a movie couldn’t be a romance just because of all the dicks? Did I judge a dick by its cover?

I was wrong. Paris 5.59 is a passionate and lovely film. You’ll fall in love with Paris at dawn. You’ll fall in love with our romantic leads, Theo and Hugo. You’ll laugh and maybe cry. It’s actually quite a traditional love story – but it’s also modern and messy. With heaps of dicks. What’s not to love?

This post was originally published online for Metro Magazine. 

Beware The Slenderman review: A parent’s nightmare

At Wellington’s Out in the Park earlier in the year I lost my three-year-old son. The buggy wheel kept catching, I had been meaning to fix it. I’d let go of my three-year-old’s hand while I checked the wheel. The baby started crying and I leaned in and began to reassure him. I looked up and my little one was gone.

I tried not to panic as people rushed past me. There were hundreds of people walking around, dancing, clapping and cheering. On the stage there was a show and I began to call for my son but my yelling was drowned out by the music.

On one side of the park was Wellington harbour. On the other side a busy road. There were car parks all around us and a high-rise apartment block to my left.

I raced around saying, “Have you seen a little boy? Blond? In a tutu?” I was frantic. I couldn’t see him anywhere.

All of the awful things that might have happened to my precious baby began to play like a movie in my mind as more people began the search.

What if he fell in the water? He wouldn’t be able to swim. What if nobody saw him fall in?

What if he ran onto the road? He was so small a car wouldn’t see him.

What if someone put him in their car? He’s too little know about stranger danger.

I ran to the stage and as one of the hosts began to describe him I began to cry.

Police came and I could barely talk.

I was terrified. It had been 15 minutes since I’d seen him. Friends consoled me and police told me to stay in the same spot. Another five minutes passed. I was nearly hysterical.

Then he was suddenly handed to me.

My little boy had seen his kindy teacher and followed her to her car. When she noticed him, she’d brought him back. The crisis was averted. I was exhausted and ecstatic. He was none the wiser.

When I got home I had a very stiff drink. “Nothing happened,” my husband said. “He’s fine.”

That night I did what so many parents do – I lay in bed and thought about all that could happen to my child.

Children are afraid of ghosts and bogeymen and, in the case of this documentary, of an invention of the internet age – Slenderman.

Parents have a different hierarchy of horror – your child dying is surely the worst; there’s also losing them and not finding them, having them stolen and never knowing where they are, grave illness or near-fatal accidents… The list is endless and awful.

Beware the Slenderman is a documentary about two 12-year-old girls who stabbed their friend – also 12 – and almost killed her. The story focuses on the fears the girls had of an online creation called the Slenderman. But really, it’s a story of a fear that is sometimes missing from that parental hierarchy of horror.

If your child being hurt or killed is an undoing as a parent – your child hurting or killing another child is catastrophic also.

It’s a near-miss of a documentary. There’s so much more that it could have been. I was left with a lot of questions. There are gaps and they’re glaring.

Beware the Slenderman is a near-miss of a documentary. There’s so much more that it could have been. I was left with a lot of questions. There are gaps and they’re glaring. The victim of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier’s devastating actions is missing completely from the documentary – the parents of the two girls who attacked her never mention her directly. The father of one girl only mentions “the situation”. I assume it was deliberate but the fact she is nearly non-existent in the film makes for even more uncomfortable viewing. The personalities of the two girls are also missing, everything seems rather one-dimensional. We’re told the girls were lonesome or bullied but the story goes no deeper.

When the movie is absorbing is when home footage of the girls in happier times is shown. Dancing and singing, playing in a pile of autumn leaves, the girls are so innocent. Trying to reconcile these images with the fact that they stabbed their playmate 19 times is difficult and it speaks to how society views children.

Rather than going through the silly rabbit hole of “What exactly is Slenderman?” I wanted to see a more detailed and in-depth look at how a father didn’t seem even once to consider that his daughter might be grappling with a mental illness when he himself had faced the very same demons. I wanted to know more about the upbringing of the girls and what their hobbies were – who they were as people.

Beware the Slenderman is particularly shocking to international audiences given the way the girls are treated in the brutal and inhumane court system in the States. I wanted to know more about how the girls were coping in the horrendous conditions they were in. It was hugely distressing to see two children chained at the feet and arms and to hear passing comments about how they’ve been incarcerated in windowless rooms without being able to be touched by their parents. Depriving children of physical affection is beyond fucked. Yet, it’s treated as an aside in this film.

All in all, for such a slow-moving documentary that seemed overly long, I wanted more of a focus on the reality of the situation. The Slenderman character and the dark heart of the internet (and if you think Creepypasta is dark compared to say Rotten dot com you’re naïve) was an easy angle to draw in the punters, but the real story I think is of ordinary fear.

The ordinary fear of parents that reminds you in the still of the night that you can’t protect your children – that’s scarier than anything a fan of urban legend can come up with.

Also, I wanted to give this 0/10 because it had Richard Dawkins in it but I know my rating system is driving people mad so I figured I better not.

This post was orginally published online for Metro Magazine.

Dwayne The Rock Johnson can Central my Intelligence if you know what I mean…

Okay so I’m going to just be up front with my bias and say this:
  • It will be a cold day in hell before I diss anything Dwayne The Rock Johnson does.
  • The slogan for Central Intelligence is “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson” and for that alone I was going to give this movie 10/10.

It was only on my second review ever that I was reminded that I’m meant to score films out of ten. This weighed heavily on my mind as I sat in the cinema for Central Intelligence.

Central Intelligence stars 24-7 Wonderful Human Dwayne The Rock Johnson, and therefore I support its existence. But if I’m going to be a serious reviewer I have to delve deeper right? So here was my thinking as it happened:

First ten minutes of the film: Hmmm, this is not looking promising…maybe five out of ten.

Like, 40 minutes into the film: This is so dumb and funny and enjoyable and nonsensical, and actually Kevin Hart – who I am not familiar with at all – is quite adorable. Okay, like six out of ten.

Did he just have a fight with a motorbike? Amazing.

Okay he fought someone with a banana. Seven out of ten.

Dwayne The Rock Johnson in a suit. Ten out of ten.

Naked Dwayne The Rock Johnson? One million out of ten.

Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Melissa McCarthy? Eighty million out of ten.

The plot is incidental when you have Dwayne The Rock Johnson wearing a unicorn t-shirt and holding Kevin Hart like a baby.

In Central Intelligence he plays Bob Stone – a guy who was fat and bullied in high school who loves Sixteen Candles, fanny packs, and doing the right thing – but who also might be a CIA agent-turned-murderer and state-secrets seller. I don’t know, the plot is incidental when you have Dwayne The Rock Johnson wearing a unicorn t-shirt and another scene has him holding Kevin Hart like a baby.

Of all the Dwayne The Rock Johnson films I have seen – and trust me I have seen all of the Dwayne The Rock Johnson films – this is the film that most closely aligns with how I imagine Dwayne The Rock Johnson is in real life.

I mean other than shooting people, Stone is just a sweet guy who wants to make people happy. This is exactly how I imagine Dwayne The Rock Johnson is – he just wants to make us all happy. He’s not so much an actor (though I believe he is a great actor) as he is a giver of delight and joy and wonder.

If, out of the entire human race, we have one golden, shining example of all that is good in humanity, it is Dwayne The Rock Johnson. He is, quite simply, everything that is good in the world rolled into one muscly and perfectly chiseled package.

Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I just think about the fact that Dwayne The Rock Johnson exists and I feel able to carry on.

Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I just have to think about the fact that Dwayne The Rock Johnson exists and I feel glad. I feel able to carry on.

It’s not just the muscles. Though they do help. It’s that smile. And his general Dwayne The Rock Johnson-ness. He is simply delightful. Everything about him. He’s your unproblematic fave. There’s nothing repellent about Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

I imagine being married to him sometimes. He would always fix things and lift heavy stuff in the house and he’d never get tired of lifting heavy stuff because that’s his job. He would sing with his eyes closed and make me dance around the kitchen with him and I’d be like OH my gosh, stop it Dwayne The Rock Johnson. And he’d say – Emily, my wife, we have been married seven years – please just call me Dwayne.

And I would say “pick up this heavy thing Dwayne The Rock Johnson” and he would.

He is a motivational speech of a human being. He just makes you feel good.

He is joy personified.

There’s a scene in Central Intelligence where he calls out another muscly dude for homophobia. And then he punches him the face. And throws someone across the room.

And he says “I hate bullies”.

This is the Dwayne The Rock Johnson that I love. And that, I am convinced, is the REAL Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

The REAL Dwayne The Rock Johnson is a good dad and a good husband which makes it hard for me to sexually objectify him (but I give it a good honest attempt don’t you worry).

The final 20 minutes of the movie, and the bloopers that follow, also make it worth seeing if you’re a Dwayne The Rock Johnson fan, and I mean who isn’t?

It did make me think though that there should be a movie of just Dwayne The Rock Johnson smiling and waving and playing with puppies and rescuing kittens and stuff, and just like stirring pasta wearing only an apron. If you would like to make this movie I have some other ideas…

Ghostbusters 2016 review: Making grown men cry since ages ago

h this one must sting. It must hurt – really, truly, deeply. You poor, poor men of the internet.

Does the fact that Ghostbusters: The Lady Edition is just absolutely delightful hurt more than that time you tried to buy a #meninist T-shirt, but couldn’t because shipping cost too much?

Does the fact that Ghostbusters: This Time It’s Personal Because They’re Women is funny and quirky and silly and has people whooping with joy, bite more than that time Reddit shut down /jailbait?

Does the fact that Ghostbusters: Your Childhood Was 30 Years Ago Get Over It has a brilliant cast and a solid blockbuster storyline pain you more than that time your mum made you pay your portion of the power bill, because you’d spent too much time in the shower?

Questions, questions.

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy and Saturday Night Live’s (frankly best) exports Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones is great fun and a real good time. I’m sorry. Diddums.

As I sat in the cinema just smugly enjoying this golden moment of comeuppance against Angry Men Who Hate Women And Have Internet Access, I was distracted by how many kids were watching the film. Based on all the hysterical comments I’d seen online, I’d assumed the original was a psychological thriller aimed exclusively at dudebros. Some Jason Bourne-type shit for men without six-packs.

The original Ghostbusters came out a year before I was born. I was four when the second film came out. I went into this film with little idea of what the premise is (although the title gives a good hint). I went in not really knowing that it’s actually a film for kids…

I had decided the day before that I’d like to go simply to contribute money to a film that has this many men upset (I’m basically a philanthropist).

But sitting in the cinema my eyes kept wandering from the big screen to three pre-teen girls in the audience. The girls leaned forward entranced throughout the whole movie. They bounced with excitement every time the Ghostbusters lined up to take aim at ghouls. At one point, one of the girls clasped the arm of the other and they exchanged joyous nods.

I could almost see the rest of their afternoon – arguing over who would get to be Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann (let’s face it – we all want to be Holtzmann) as they blasted ghosts and saved their city.

I tried to think of a film I’d seen at that age that showed women kicking ass. Girls rarely get this. How can anyone want to deny them?

I tried to think of a film I’d seen at that age that showed women kicking ass and taking names. I tried to think of an action movie I’d seen ever where women weren’t sexualised or brutalised in some way, even if it’s just briefly.

Drawing a blank, I couldn’t help but smile as they smiled. Girls rarely get this. How can anyone look at the way that representation makes these kids feel and want to deny them that?

Ghostbusters 2016 is a delightful film. I can’t think of a better word to describe it. That’s all. It’s as silly and dumb as any other blockbuster. But the difference is, little girls everywhere finally get to have their own heroes.

And big girls like me, having wine at 11am, get to relax into a movie that doesn’t once drop a casual rape joke or belittle women as a group.

Ghostbusters 2016 is basically women releasing the tension in their shoulders: The Movie. Never once, at all, does it revert to the male gaze. It has a lovely gentle message about women friendships. A subtle-as-a-brick nod to the ridiculousness of “reverse sexism” as a concept, with the addition of Chris “White T-Shirt Is Compulsory” Hemsworth. And a heap of rollicking good-fun action shots of badass women getting shit done.

And Kate McKinnon. Dear lord, we have done something right in the world to exist at the same time as Kate McKinnon. She is just fantastic – she steals every, single scene. Some may say that the internet is a cesspit of garbage but the internet immediately created a gif of her winking. And for that we can all be glad.

Kate McKinnon WinkingI could watch her action scenes for hours. She needs to be in everything.

I loved it. Everyone in the cinema I was in seemed to love it, including a teenage boy who clapped with delight at Leslie Jones’ “I’m a Ghostbuster” line (please don’t ever expose him to Twitter).

There is one point in the movie where they’re talking about being on the brink of something momentous, that this could change everything. As a 30-something mum, I gotta say I hope this movie does change something.

I hope it makes the powers that be realise that you can make movies that don’t sexualise or abuse women. You can make movies that have all-women casts. They can be popular. They can be just good old-fashioned delightful fun.

Frankly, I think we can now all agree that the idea Ghostbusters 2016 might ruin anyone’s childhood is about as believable as paranormal activity…