The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Alex Casey: The Chemist Warehouse is pure hell and I love it

“A woman with blue eyeliner and thick framed glasses was desperately trying to get the best price per gram on vitamin C for someone on the phone, not unlike like a proxy bidder on The Block NZ. ‘Look, if she’s going anywhere else, then she’s paying more,’ a staff member sagely advised out of nowhere. I ran my fingers across the label of some probiotics, desperately trying to remember what I had read about them online. They’re good, right? Regardless of good or bad, they are on sale. It’s a sign.

‘Take a chance you stupid hoe,’ Gwen Stefani sings through the speakers. You’re in no position to judge me Gwen, I’ve seen the price of your perfume. I put the probiotics in my basket.”

Tara Ward: Outlander just made a bloody strong (and sexy) return

“Let’s not panic. The future is now, and Jamie and Claire need to live somewhere warm so they can camp outside and have midnight sponge baths together.  They’ve still got the horn for each other after 24 years of marriage, and their love flowed like the Mississippi, carrying us along in their riverboat of surging emotion. Poke that stick in the riverbed and push us closer to heaven, Outlander, because this show is nothing without Claire giving Jamie her sexy time eyes and Jamie letting Claire swab his chest with a flannel.

This is the sort of alternative healing I can get behind. God bless America.”

Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett speak to the press at parliament about the Jami-Lee Ross allegations. Image: Newshub grab

Alex Braae: Another secret Jami-Lee Ross recording just derailed Simon Bridges’ morning

“One area where there will be incredibly heated debate will be around the allegations of harassment. On the tape, Ross is heard to ask for more information about what he is said to have done. In response, deputy leader Paula Bennett pivots to talking about disloyalty, which she says would be enough to convince caucus to boot him out.

On the one hand, it could be argued that the biggest victims if it all were to come out would be the women themselves. In the vast majority of cases, that is how these sorts of things go. Keeping it quiet, and more importantly not giving Jami-Lee Ross information so that he could target his accusers for revenge, would do more to protect them than outing him would. Mr Bridges told Newstalk ZB that it was what the women wanted. It also arguably gave Jami-Lee Ross better protection for his own mental health – minimising media attention would be one way to ease the pressure on him.

On the other hand, it looks awfully like a cover-up.”

Emily Writes: Ten stupid toys your kids don’t need for Christmas

Yellies

“What I thought it was: A little existential crisis shaped like a doodle.

What it actually is: What kind of MONSTER made a toy that only works when children scream at it? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO PARENTS? These little Yellie turd things are little bugs that kids have to scream at to make them go. The tag is “Yelling makes the Yellies go” proving once and for all that toy makers are infected dick holes.

How much do they cost?: $19 and 30 lorazepam.”

Ross Bell: Our politicians won’t do it, so the Drug Foundation did: A model drug law for New Zealand

“Under our proposal, commercial supply and trafficking of drugs would still be punished, but people who are caught with drugs for their own use would not face criminal penalties. Why? Because the vast majority of people who use drugs do so without causing harm to themselves or others. Prosecuting them can have a far-reaching negative impact on their lives but has limited or no effect on their drug use.

The minority who do struggle with their drug use need support, compassion and access to treatment. Fear of criminal punishment does not stop people using drugs. In fact, it can make them use more heavily. Offering treatment instead is not only more humane, it actually works.

Changing our drug law is the next step we should take to free ourselves from the harm of conviction, of shame, of discrimination, of stigmatisation. And we want to get this done by 2020. People are ready for this. They want solutions.”

Tani Khara: Why does everyone hate vegans?

“More and more people are adopting plant-based diets in Australia and other western nations. But also seemingly on the rise is resentment towards vegans and vegetarians.

This can range from ridicule on social media sites (‘‘Nobody likes a vegetarian’) to bumper stickers (‘Vegetarian is an old Indian word for bad hunter’). Recently, the editor of the UK Waitrose magazine, William Sitwell, stepped down after he called for a piece about vegans that would ‘‘expose their hypocrisy’.

There has been a term coined for this backlash: ‘vegaphobia’. There are even self-help books, such as Living among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian’s Survival Handbook, which offers advice to those whose dietary choices might be under attack.

So what is it about vegans that is so annoying?”

Emily Writes: Guy Fawkes Night sucks, let’s get rid of it

“Speak to any veterinarian about fireworks and they’ll be able to tell you a gruesome story about animal deaths. But you know, as long as you like your stupid fireworks. My dog (RIP Otis) spent half his life terrified of fireworks. When he finally went deaf it was a blessing. He once shat himself in fear and my husband and I had to put him in the bath with calming music on to try to stop him passing out. That is not my idea of a good night.

We have no idea what our greyhound will be like this year. We spend a significant amount of time trying to keep our cat inside because so many animals are purposely injured by fireworks if they’re caught out and about. Horses maim themselves on fences, dogs run through dog doors and get impaled, cats have fireworks shot at them. One year we found the remnants of a burnt birds nest. People are horrible to animals every day of the year but Guy Fawkes just emboldens these jerks.”

Peter Malcouronne: ‘Love? I never had it. Never had it, mate’: Jade of Great Barrier Island

She had an old 70s board to start with, a classic one-finner. Not the easiest for a beginner. “I stood up in the first couple of days – and then fell off. Then basically got smashed on the beach for two years.

“But I’d head back out there. Bang. Hammered again. Wiped out. You hit the bottom and sometimes you’ll be held under. I can remember being held under for two lots – when it’s just massive. You’re getting pounded, mangled. You’re under for half a minute, then another half and then when you think you’re never going to get out, the sea lets you go.”

That first gasp of air in your salt-seared throat has the magic of your first breath. You have nothing left so you paddle back to shore where all your smart-arse mates are waiting. “You’re supposed to be surfing, Jade,” they say. “Not diving.”

There’s teasing, but also respect. You head back to the car, board under the arm, and hear them say, “Those short little stumpy arms… I don’t know how she does it.”

Jackie Edmond: Separating fact from fiction on abortion law reform

“Women do not need protecting. We trust women to make every other decision in their lives themselves. The status quo is demeaning: to get an abortion women have to prove they will have a mental illness if they continue with a pregnancy. They can’t decide themselves about what is right for them.

Abortions are safest when they’re performed as early as possible. Changes to the law should protect women’s health by ending many of the delays women currently face.

Abortion services can be regulated just like all other health services in New Zealand.”

Jesse Mulligan: Jesse Mulligan to Jamie Oliver: you suck

“He was The Naked Chef when he arrived in 1999, and though ostensibly describing his approach to food, that nickname captured his sex appeal too. The food was fantastic, and easy, and new, and he had big cheekbones and puffy lips and said things like ‘pukka’ which was all we needed to fall in love with him.

To be honest this was all a bit annoying even by season two, and his people did well to tone down the catchphrases for later series. He was at his best about five years in, which was when the first Jamie’s Italy book came out. That one is a bible, with the best pizza recipes as well as more adventurous stuff like braised octopus. I still go back to it all the time, brushing semolina off the dustjacket and diving in for the best versions of the best Italian dishes.

This latest book doesn’t mention that earlier volume, which feels like a bit of a slap in the face to those of us who’ve been there from the beginning. “You’ve been to Italy before, Jamie!”, you feel like saying as he lays out this journey of wide-eyed discovery. He could have at least called it a Return to Italy, or Italy Rediscovered. “Jamie Cooks Italy” doesn’t even make grammatical sense.”

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