Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rhinos Write Up 2008

Being one of the few literate members of the Adelaide University Hockey Club, I am often turned to by other club members in times of trouble and need. For most AUHC members, these troubling, needy times are mostly at the end of the year when each team has to collar someone to squeeze out the interminable annual team report.

You know the one: "We played well, we had fun, we didn't win a grand final, but we did drink beer and play hockey". It all gets printed out and put in a cute little booklet on the tables at the End of Year black tie event where we all get trophies and try our damnedest to get barred from another function venue.

And every year, just about a week before the event, a stern group email is sent to all coaches:
"Get your team reports in!"
which is then forwarded by those coaches to their teams:
"Please, does anyone want to stick their hand up for this? Please please please!"
Which then, inevitably finds its way to me:
"Uh, come on Franzy - you do a good one every year. Can I leave this with you?"
To which I reply:
"As long as I can write whatever I want and don't have to bother with minor details like "results" and "reportage"."
Of course, by that stage, no one is in any position to say "No, I think we'll have a sensible write-up with game-by-game results and a level-headed commentary on the overall season this year" and so, I come up with things like this. And, even after that effort I still get asked back, even though I neither played, attended nor paid much attention to the results of my old team. They still came a'knocking at my door.
Silly buggers:

2008 Rhinos Write-Up

How did the Rhinos do this year? It is … difficult to tell. You may as well point at Grand Final winning Hawthorne and ask whether they are sportsmen, or GODS.

No, on second thoughts – you shouldn’t do that. The answer is clear: Hawthorne are a feather-boa-wrapped flock of mincing dandies who are currently clearing a place among their teddies for the Guinness World Record Certificate for Most Consecutive Homers Pulled in an AFL Season. And that was in spite of the Prada bags and Blahnik heels the boiis in brown and custard insisted on playing in all year.

The Rhinos aren’t like that. Not even close. Any similarities between a Haw-Haw-Hawthorne player and a Rampaging Horned Impaler of the Nigerian Outback (R.H.I.N.O.) are utterly false, unverifiable and such claims will leave you open to a little impaling yourself (boys and girls, form an orderly queue).

‘But they both played in a grand final this year!’ I hear you squeak, desperate for recognition.

No. No they did not, sir. Hawthorne played in a grand final. The Rhinos didn’t.

‘They both play a sport?’ you try, once again attempting to subvert the dominant paradigm.

Nope. There’s that word again. Now, let me explain something to you, my friend:

Hawthorne plays.

Rhinos trample.

Other hockey teams play. Rhinos conquer. They demolish, destroy, debunk, decaffeinate and deflower. You play hockey. The Rhinos pillage.

Fun Fact: No Rhino has ever been a member of an orchestra or any kind of musical ensemble. The few times some foolish person ignored the old adage “A Rhino does not play, a Rhino wins”, always resulted in a lot of desiccated musical instruments and defeated saxophonists.

It might seem a little like overkill to link such claims of violence to the Rhinos’ hockey style in what is meant to be a non-contact sport. ‘Overkill’ is also an interesting and accurate choice of words. By the time the minor rounds had finished this year, no fewer than eleven episodes of Crime Stoppers had been dedicated entirely to Rhinos vs Whatever Cannon Fodder Dared To Show fixtures. Did anyone catch the True Crime Special on the Rhinos last week? How good was the bit where the guy’s head exploded after Fongy’s drag-flick?

So, you begin to understand how difficult it is to simply classify and explain the 2008 Rhinos Season in terms of ‘victory’ and ‘game play’ when the former is a given for any Rhino ever born and the latter is something Hawthorne players do in the change rooms between manicures.

In 2007 the Rhinos became heroes. Parades closed down the city. Stamps were franked. Commemorative plaques bloomed like Murray River algae. Special issue coins were pressed and there was a time where you couldn’t feed a parking meter without putting a Rhino into it.

‘How long shall we park for?’

‘Put in two Greenmans and a Pinhead,’ you’d say before trotting off to do some shopping down the now-more-aptly-titled Rhino Mall (unlike the Rhinos, John Rundle certainly wasn’t endowed with huge balls of polished steel and so it only made sense to change the name. A plan to replace the current scale models with life-sized replicas was on the cards, but the most of the steel required has since been appropriated by the state government to build a desalinisation plant).

In 2008 the heroes passed on into legend. Everything the Rhinos touched turned to gold and when they touched gold it turned into delicious BBQ chicken which, after eating, would be digested and shat out as diamonds. Whatever the temporary name for Burbridge Road was is now slated as Rhino Rumble. New congregations are springing up all over the city with hundreds, verging on thousands, flocking to hear the lilting tones of St Frenchie preaching from the horn-ed pulpit. Rhinology is being taught through the schools and universities of the country, ensuring that by 2010 our great land will be protected from the credit crisis, global warming and space alien laser attack.

Like all legends, this glory was built on the freshly hacked bones of their adversaries. Metro 3 Men, wicked and weak, all attempted to sully the name of Rhino with the hockey equivalent of your little sister’s first ballet recital (but with hockey sticks) and all payed the ultimate price. Their humiliation shall be magnified on into the pages of history as they are remembered, not as hockey ballerinas, but as the last, stumbling, faltering step which evolution took in that doomed direction before cutting short and winging off into the pure sunrise of Homo Rhinoceros.

GTH - Miles came out strongly, but faded early for failing to take the picture into account. He will receive an automatic point when he inserts a necessary apostrophe into his blog title. Arch-rival Shippy, therefore takes a point, as does old-time competitor, T-to-tha-double-O Sam for reminding me of the complexion gag (ha).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Men are generally sneaky fuckers

Here's how it happened: I used to work at The Eagle On The Hill. This was a pub turned Last-Drive-Thru-On-The-Interstate turned fine-dining restaurent turned Schnittie-Tuesday-Local. It turned other things after I was fired for asking for too many Friday and Saturday nights off (every Friday and Saturday), but this story isn't to do with that.

EOTH had a great view over the Adelaide Plane. Evening dinner guests would always try to book the few tables which perched right by the window so that they would have something decent to gaze at other than one other wolfing down chicken schnitzels the size of paving stones. It could even be described as romantic and most nights there were a couple of bookings of 'table for two, rum for four'.
There was even a motel downstairs. You know what I mean. That's right: 'Room for the night, thanks mate. Send down another bottle of Nepenthe.'
Anyway, you get the tone. Romantic and affordable. The way to every man's heart, (but surprisingly few women).
This one night I was on front of house, greeting customers. My job was to say hello, show them to a table, pull out their chairs and (after pushing the chairs back in) take their drink order and any subsequent shit a nervous first dater might feel it necessary to dish out in order to feel like a big man.
These two didn't just arrive, they rocked up. Nobody 'arrives' in a Commodore ute with truck mud guards. He was resplendent in Ed Harry's finest party shirt and she had decided on a dazzling silk-look halter-neck gown complete with black lacy bra, all designed to perfectly accentuate the large piping shrike tattoo on her shoulder blade. A true South Aussie girl and well worth a night of wining and dining at the famous EOTH.

Now pay good attention because it's going to move quickly from here.

I smile.
I show them to the prime table, front row centre for the night lights of Adelaide.
I pull out her chair.
She sits.
I ask her what she'll have to drink this fine evening.
He tells her to get whatever she wants.
She orders a Bundy and coke.
I pull out his chair.
I ask what sir will have.
He remains standing.
Eye to eye with me he says, 'Large pineapple juice, thanks.'
He winks.
He grins.
He sits.
The end.

Men are generally sneaky fuckers.

* If you don't understand, ask a man over the age of sixteen. If he doesn't understand, he's lying.


GTH - Mele was close, but Miles takes it away. Two from two. Nobody else gets points because nobody accused me of being a sneaky fucker (even though I just about burst a damn kidney not laughing in the story above) for fabricating the entire tale of Johnny Wade: Stephanie Rice Picture Tearer Upper.

"... finally throwing the pieces into the air and yelling 'Snowstorm'."??

Come on! That's gold!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Australia's Newest Shame

Investigative journalism is really getting into the cracks these days. Just when you think it's another article about Stephanie Rice, you read to the end and suddenly we have a new villain:

"Last Friday was a time of anticipation and excitement for
Sunshine Flowers pre-school student Kate Daly.
Kate was due to attend a swimming clinic on Sunday hosted by her hero Olympic Golden Girl Stephanie Rice and
drew a picture of Rice to go with the flowers she had planned to give Australia's newest starlet of the pool.
escribed by her friends and other parents from Sunshine Flowers as 'a little battler' and 'the truest Aussie around', Kate suffers from cystic fibrosis, has a life expectancy of just 10 years, and is forced to take 26 tablets a day to battle the disease. The swimming clinic is one of the limited range of treatments designed to extend cystic fibrosis sufferers' quality of life.

Enter Johnny Wade.

Known as 'a little terror', 'a definite candidate for pre-military-school' and 'a typical four year old boy', Wade seized on the much weaker Kate's drawing and tore it up in front of horrified staff and students. Unconfirmed reports say that Johnny was laughing and dancing as he destroyed the image of the triple gold medallist, finally throwing the pieces into the air and yelling 'Snowstorm'.

Four-year-old Johnny Wade's parents remained tight-lipped today after the youngster faced accusations of bullying, assault, destruction of property and defacing a national icon. Refusing to speak to media, they dashed into their modest home after facing the judge in a closed court session earlier today."

Is it going too far?
Not far enough?


GTH - Miles, Miles, Miles. Bullseye.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Boo Fucking Hoo

Why on earth should I give a fuck about a pack of spoilt rich kids behaving as such? Maybe I read The Age too much, but this has received national attention. Everyone is behaving as though these four-wheel-drinking-and-driving P-platers were going to behave any differently come muck-up day in a school which stakes most of its reputation upon the stunned mullets who managed to get a horse onto a balcony. Maybe they heard it was going to push back more, I don't know.
Xavier College famously suspended a couple of hundred of its larger breed of hormonal grunts earlier this week for creating a ruckus and breaking things in a posh area. Good. Except bad, because they all got to toddle off home to their Playstation 3s, their porn and their Sweet Sixteen Lexi to wait for Father to return home and reallign the planets so that the old scholars don't suffer the embarrassment of a thin reunion dinner ten years down the road.

Of course their parents all went bananas and threatened to sue if their little princes weren't allowed to take their $100,000 exams.

Boys + puberty + confined spaces - girls - responsibility + alcohol = a bunch of fuckwitted, blazer-clad penises running around your suburb and, given time and more money, your planet, fucking up your shit.

This is news?

How about " 200 Xavier students involved in a riot earlier this week were expelled for bringing the school into disrepute. "They will no longer be welcome on school property," said the principal today. "The expelled students may be able to access other options for completing their expensive education, but those options will only be open to these young men after a full year of community service."

How does that sound?
Ahhhh ....

Update - GTH - Point to Shippy for the creativity of the answer. I'm actually just giving him a credit because I don't understand it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How the media works!

Thanks to Audrey's excellent, honest post, I was able to accurately answer Dad's question about last night's news coverage of the massive turnout at Britt Lapthorne's memorial service.

Dad: What the fuck are all these people doing there? They didn't even know her and they're showing up to her funeral? Just on the strength of what they saw on telly?
Me: Do you want to know why they're there?
Dad: Yes.
Me: I can explain it you in three steps.
Dad: Really?
Me: Exactly three steps.
Dad: Okay, go.
Me: She's cute. She's white. They're idiots.
Dad: Ahh ...

Thanks Audrey!


GTH will continue unchanged when I post blogs in quick succession to give everybody a chance. Sorry Shippy, your speed may have pushed you even further up the leader board.

How I was offered honours by pulling a Bradbury

One of the best and worst lecturers I ever had was in the last semester of my third year at uni. I had been slowly plugging away at various English and Cultural Studies-type subjects, all in the name continuing my big fish, little pond dominance of high school English, which surely pointed towards an immanent blast off into the interstellar fame and fortune offered by continuing to be good at reading and writing.
I had also continued to study Anthropology all the way through, somehow missing the discrepancy in grades between these two subjects which made up my major. I recently had cause to look over my thin little undergraduate transcripts and only then, with all the subjects and their grades lined up alongside one another, did I notice that in three years I only ever managed one single, solitary Distinction from Napier Building, Floor Six. Every other English grade was lined up nicely over the three years with a big, cheery 'C' for Credit. As in:

"You're a credit to yourself and your family in that you can use a spell checker, the library, a watch to remind you when the tutes were and a calendar to point out when the essays were due."

To demonstrate my Credit-honed grasp upon the beauty of the Mighty Scimitar of The English Language, I shall offer you the following sentence: My anthropology grades were exactly the same, in that they were the exact opposite.
I took just as many anthropology subjects as I did English ones and distinguished myself above other anthropology students and my own English grades time and time again.
Except, and now we come full circle, for that one little hiccough at the end of my final year.

Dr Power was not his name. I will not write his name to save him the embarrassment a self-google might bestow in years to come. He taught a very heady subject called 'Discourse and Power'. I know. I have no idea either, and I took the course. Myself and my two friends, Molly and Andy were the youngest people in the first tute by ten years. The two other youngest student, Craig and Anna, may have actually been near to our age, but Craig's soft, bushy beard and thin spectacles and Anna's dyed-black hair and tough leather jacket to match her tough eyebrows set them at quite a different atmospheric pressure to the floaty meadow breezes we three youngsters were used to.

I can't tell you what the course was about any further than its name. Dr Power was Sri Lankan and so used quite a lot of historical examples from modern Sri Lankan history to illustrate his wordy, complex points. Molly, Andy and I sat up up the back, madly writing useless notes and copying each other's useless notes.

During the first tute Dr Power gave us all his home telephone number with instructions to call with any course-related problems for a discussion any time up until about 11 o'clock in the evening. He explained with a benevolent smile that Sri Lankan households did note keep the same quaint early bedtimes as the Australian households he had experienced. There sounded as though there was much cooking, discussion and general activity in the Power household. Right up until 11pm.

He regularly took us over to The Mansions after tutes and bought us rounds of beers (only we three up the back shyly ordered schooners of ale, everbody else had water or juice). We all sat around trying to follow his leads on course discussion before breaking down into the customary get-to-know-you round the circle speeches before lapsing into further awkard silence and leaving.

A couple of weeks in, Dr Power handed back the first essays and sat quietly at the front of the tute on a chair while most of us worked down the gruel of our insanely low marks. When we could eventually gather the courage to meet our teacher's eyes, he was almost as shocked as we were. He was genuinely troubled. Most of us were all terrible. Particularly our little group of three up the back.
'I don't understand,' he said. 'There is such a discrepancy of marks! Some of you grasp the material quite well, but some plainly have almost no understand of the basic concepts we've been working with.'
We hung our heads.
'Do you ... do you talk about the material to each other?'
We glanced at one another. A couple nodded timidly.
'Outside this tutorial?'
The nodding ceased.
'Do you meet up to discuss your work?'
The absence of nodding continued.
'Do you perhaps even call or contact each other to go over the material?'
Apart from us three up the back, everybody else always left the class in different directions.
'You do not help each other outside this class?'
Head-shaking. Of course we didn't. The idea would have been laughable if there had been a few higher grades in the room to lighten the mood.
'That is a real shame. A real missed opportunity. Because students like Anna and Craig could really help students like Molly and Andy and Franzy.'

We were so shocked we didn't even get offended until about a fortnight later.

This story borrows nothing from The Mighty Ducks. I did not begin to improve. I continued to suck. But some of you will remember that I did escape with a credit for this course. Which is mysterious, given that my essays were so bad they could have sucked bowling balls up chimneys.
Here's how it went down. Or up:

At the same time, I was doing a gender studies course, one that I was quite good at and one that I ended up actually helping to run a year or two later. The fact that I was one of three boys in a class of fifty girls had nothing to do with my enrolment. Hey, I'm a learner. I wrote quite a good essay that examined the use of power in society with gender sprinkled on top. Or something. When it came time to hand up that final glorious essay which was to save me from failure (it was actually still possible to fail in those days, unlike today's courses which allow you to resubmit and appeal until you get the grade you paid for), I simply dusted off the larger chunks of gender studies and sprinkled on some of the bits of Sri Lankan history I had selected at random from our phone directory-sized reader. I slapped on a title which included the words 'Discourse' and 'Power', handed it up with a sigh and went on a very long and enjoyable road-trip to a music festival in Brisbane.

All the way there, I kept receiving messages from my parents. 'Call Dr Power', 'Dr Power is worried about your essay', 'Tell Dr Power to stop leaving messages', 'Why don't you call us once in a while?'.

I finally heard the message left by the deeply concerned Dr Power. He was extremely worried that not only had I handed in a gender studies essay to his subject, but that I had also handed up a brilliant Discourse and Power essay to my equally-confused gender studies professor.
I had to call him. I rang during the late afternoon when I was sure he mentioned something about Sri Lankan nap time, hoping to catch him relaxed and unaware.
'Some of these references are nothing to do with this course, are you sure this is not a different essay?'
The conversation on my part wasn't worth repeating. I mumbled, I prevaricated, I assured him that I wouldn't be handing in another essay and hung up.

He gave me a credit.

Although I never spoke to him again, somehow I'm sure he fobbed me off with the lowest acceptible grade possible so as be 100% assured of never having to deal with, or even speak to me again.

Or it was the typo that was cemented into history.

Please, once again, nip over to poetsquib and read another extended tale of my tepid youth. My first exposure to the most devout of choristers, I. Ron Butterfly ...

We drank in pubs, smoked in laneways and began really obsessing about these new things called “mp3s” which you could get from this wonderful computer program called “Napster” which used “the internet” for something other than email and postage-stamp-sized pornography. We installed ever louder and more impressive speakers into our cars so crap they were cool. Or maybe it was the other way around ...


GTH - Shippy swoops in a plucks the points from all comers with a wonderfully-reflected metaphor and, in case anyone hadn't noticed, for the new write-up down on the Champions' Scoreboard. Give him a week and he'll be running this place without me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A cutting review.

I know we all love it when I review children's books. I'm so witty. I'm so thoughtful. I'm so mean. How could I trash my peers so easily? Why would I say anything detrimental to that art of arts: writing? Why do I insist on shooting myself in the foot while punching my betters in the face? (Because, let's face it, they's published and I ain't).

Because they deserve it. I would expect the same and when I receive it, I will chew my knuckle in pain and make excuses and point fingers, but the reality is that you write for your readers, whoever they are. If they hate it and can articulate why, then that's your problem, not theirs.


Blade: Playing Dead
and Blade: Closing In by Carnegie medallist, Tim Bowler, are the first and second books in a four part series. The story follows the eponymous Blade on his adrenalin-fuelled adventures around a present-day British capital city. Blade is a fourteen year old tough kid with university-grade street smarts and a past. He narrates the action in first-person present tense, addressing the reader as ‘Bigeyes’ (an excellent touch) and placing his captive audience squarely beside him with instructions to keep watch or admonitions to stop asking so many damn questions. His voice is original and believable and his modern day street kid lingo almost conceals the fifty-five-year-old author behind it, trawling chatrooms, blogs and networks, straining for the holy grail of young adult fiction: authentic, un-self-conscious cool.

The Blade books are, on the surface, gritty, exciting, compulsive reading. Blade himself is neck-deep in action from the first page; shoplifting, back-talking, battling rival gangs, mixing up with murder, crime and intrigue and doing it all alone. He refers to past events and tragedies while still hiding them from the reader, as though Bigeyes too, must earn his trust before he will elaborate on exactly what they have to do with his current circumstances.

The target audience (reluctant, young, mostly male readers) will appreciate the honest, uncensored action and violence. Nothing is glossed over or hidden for their protection: people get hit, beaten up, stabbed, shot and killed, but the story doesn’t call for gore and glorification of the violence. We experience see these shocking events through the eyes of a fourteen year old boy who isn’t happy about seeing them. The realism of the action flows through its restrained telling.
However, the gruff, mistrustful fourteen year old narrator does create a problem. Despite the attempts to explain his verbosity and thoughtfulness through his hidden past and some-time penchant for books, the entire mis-en-scene, as described in relentless stream-of-consciousness by Blade, is shallow and black and white at best. While this is a deliberate decision by Bowler to maintain the tough, realistic feel of the story, it does rob the audience of any real sense of the world in which Blade lives. He breaks into half a dozen houses and visits different parts of the city, but none really differentiate from the others. Setting feels entirely unimportant as Blade is either running from predators through identical streets, lanes and parks or hiding quietly from them in equally-interchangeable safe house locations. There is no real vivid picture painting going on, just minimalist exposition: dark, light, locked, un-locked, urgent, quiet. There are no colours, tastes or smells. Physical descriptions are limited to functional details relevant to Blade’s progress. The sparse prose certainly serves the purpose of not impeding the action, but action without place is just interpretive dance.

There have been better action sequences. Bowler hangs grimly to his formula throughout: trouble, escape, hide, repeat. A few of the afore-mentioned realistically portrayed acts of violence are sprinkled in for (slight) variation. Suspense is drawn from the reader like an expected curtesy rather than something the author has worked for. Blade spends about half of his time demonstrating his uncanny extrasensory perception (foresight, x-ray vision and mind-reading) and the other half making decisions based on completely ignoring those perceptions. Maybe there’s a reason for this confluence of sixth-sense and foolishness, but, two books in, no explanation has been forthcoming other than Blade’s irritating mantra, ‘Don’t ask how I know, I just know.’

This reluctance to outline base facts and the Blade series’ approach to character development and structure all point towards one clear fact: these books are a rip off. Rip. Off. A rort, a scam. A tricky little scheme to make money. The series is comprised of a series of four separate books, sold as such for $14.95 each. All released at once, each containing the covers of the entire set within their back cover.

The problem is that each book isn’t a stand-alone story, designed to be enjoyed both separately and as a part of the whole. The first two books, at least, contain only minor parts of a single story arc; they provide no solutions and implore the reader on their back pages to purchase the next instalment. There are only hints pointing towards the major points upon which the story hangs: where is Blade going and from where has he come? In order to learn the answers, young readers must spend the better part of simply to finish reading a story with all the markers of an urban thriller and none of the intriguing charm. Blade should have been sold as a single book. There are no chapters to divide events into manageable sections for younger readers and the tone and subject matter both point towards an audience of an age easily able to deal with longer texts. As an artistic exercise this series is the equivalent of selling four full-price tickets to one movie and just as reprehensible on the part of the producers.

Coupled with the current fashionable hysteria in Britain over knife attacks (Blade, predictably, is a master with a concealed weapon), the Blade series reeks of savvy publishers striking while the iron is plugged in and ready to press the party shirt of the Zeitgeist. Dividing a single B-grade story over four separate, full-priced novels is a truly masterful piece of marketing at the expense of artistic product and the pockets of reluctant readers.

GTH - Shippy, Squib and River are all kicking goals and being awarded points. It might seem like a rip off, but it's really not!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Comictitian's Muse

If you needed further proof of my inspiring qualities, please check out this post from one of my (many) favourite webcomics, Welcome To The Future.

Throw another struggle on the fire, my darling

Scene - Suburban Super Mall - Gargantuan Cineplexiopolis. Mele and Franzy have spent an annoying day shopping for boring clothes and have decided to see a movie.

Franzy: Two students for Eagle Eye, please.
Ticket Seller: Where would you like to sit?
Franzy (sharing a puzzled look with Mele): In a chair?
Ticket Seller (assuming the polite smile of murderous fantasist): Ha. No, I mean where in the cinema? Front or back?

*Freeze frame*
Franzy strolls into view, wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and smoking a pipe. His speaking voice is so nasally that he must surely be endowed with all the useful knowledge of the universe and must be listened to.

Tweed Jacket Franzy: Rest assured, dear people, that this is not some bungle in the storytelling. We are not about to discover that in fact Franzy and Mele are at the front of the queue for the world premiere of this film. The diehard fans have already come, absorbed and left. Friends, this isn't even a whimsical anecdote about stumbling into the wrong mall, the wrong cinema or even the wrong queue. This is the twelfth showing for Eagle Eye this week. 3:40pm is not a popular time to be lining up outside the movie theatre to watch a film that will surely cut into the regularly regimented times associated with school holiday dinners, sleepovers and twilight football matches. Our stunning heroes are not going to go Seatless in Seatle or anywhere else this fine afternoon. There is plenty of room at the inn.

Tweed Jacket Franzy flourishes his pipe like a conductor's baton.


Mele: Uh, in the middle.
Ticket Seller (barely restraining himself from spitting into the hand with which Franzy is taking his change and tickets): Okay, you're in K 18 and 19, Cinema 21, up there on your right!
Franzy: What the fuck was that all about?
Mele: They don't need allocated seating! There's no one here!
Tweed Jacket Franzy: I just told them that!

Mele and Franzy walk into the 300 seat cinema. It is entirely empty. They ignore their allocated seats and sit wherever the fuck they feel like. Around the middle somewhere. Mele puts her purse on the seat next to her. Franzy puts the box of popcorn next to himself. They relax and listen to the kind of cockless musak in which the singer sounds as though he has decided that the voice of a grown man singing about the emotional struggle of declaring his undying love for his sweetheart should sound just like that same grown man straining on a four-steak turtle-head and losing. You know: Matchbox 20.
Teenagers march in declaring exactly how the ticket seller can deal with himself and his seating allocations and sitting defiantly up the back.

Enter Tiresome Couple Number One. They are hunched over their tickets, checking the letters on each vacant row before arriving at whatever row Mele and Franzy ended up in the middle of. They edge along the row, checking each seat number. Finally Tiresome Woman Number One stops in front of Franzy's popcorn.

Tiresome Woman Number One (looking first at popcorn, then at Franzy, then at popcorn again): Is this ...? Would you ...? Does that ...? I got a ticket for ...? Can I ... just ...?

Franzy gazes glaze-eyed first at woman, then popcorn, then woman again. He picks up the box of popcorn just in time before
Tiresome Woman Number One engages the considerable landing gear and touches down, filling up the entire seat, right next to Franzy, in the middle of an almost entirely empty cinema. Franzy manages to keep his beefy arm glued to the armrest, but Tiresome Woman Number One is taking off her jacket, tossing her hair all over the damn place and generally acting as though she and Franzy were on a first and last date. Franzy and Mele share a second puzzled look, even more puzzled than the last.
Franzy, stubborn prick to the last, decides that he will die rather than move.

Tiresome Couple Number Two. They also carefully navigate the confusingly arranged seating using their tickets as treasure maps and arrive at the same destination, this time on Mele's side.
They check their tickets. They confer with one another. They check their numbers, their tickets, one another, the breeze and some handy fish entrails.
Mele and Franzy grit their teeth.

Tiresome Man Number Two (doing his Kindly-Cop-Produces-Arrest-Warrant bit with their ticket stubs):
Excuse me, what seats do you have?

Tweed Jacket Franzy (puffing on pipe): Bear in mind that the entire cinema is still empty at this point, some six minutes before the feature presentation is due to begin ...

Mele (sighing in a charming manner while looking about the cinema): These ones.
Tiresome Woman Number Two (tossing out a well-practised Anything To Avoid A Fuss Titter): Ha ha. Sorry, I mean: what does your ticket say?
Mele (turning to Franzy): What the fuck is going on here?
Franzy: I have no idea. (To
Tiresome Couple Number Two) I don't know. Do you want me to look? They're here somewhere.
Tiresome Couple Number Two watch Franzy and Mele slowly and unenthusiastically go through some of their things, digging in handbags and thrusting hips to reach low-access back pockets.
Tiresome Man Number Two (this time treating us all to his finest Traffic Cop Letting Young Driver Off With A Warning): Oh, look, don't worry about it.
Tiresome Woman Number Two (overbaked relief): Yes, we'll just sit up there.
he indicates the completely vacant row behind Mele and Franzy.
Tiresome Man Number Two (to Tiresome Woman Number Two as they shuffle back out):If anyone else comes along, it'll be tough luck.
Tiresome Woman Number Two: Here, it's just where we were supposed to be, but one seat back.
Tiresome Man Number Two: But if anyone comes along, it'll be tough luck.

No one else came along.

GTH - Oh lookie! Squib takes out two points! Hooray! Hooray for Squib!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Had something to do with a bucket ...

I hope everybody enjoyed Single Sentence September and didn't become too frustrated with the topsy-turvy standards and themes. I tried to run with a weekly theme, but then that seemed too predictable so I went down a different path which (obviously) involved no theme at all.
I seem to have failed at that theme as well.
The biggest problem I had was similar to the one experienced by Josh Hartnett's character in the modern-day tale of religious purity, 40 Days and 40 Nights. My problem was only similar in that I really had no outlet for my nigh-unquenchable desire for pleasure. In his case it was sex. Which was why the movie did so poorly. "Man goes without sex for 40 days!" is hardly somethi
ng that's going to entice movie-goers to part with their $15. I may have been single at around the time this movie came out and I can remember my initial reaction being something along the lines of "Boo Fucking Hoo. I just saw that in real life. Twice."
In my case, however, I was starved of my own natural outlet for stimulation and pleasure: writing.

If you don't have a blog and are reading this, you are probably furrowing your brow and wondering if I'm okay. You may even be considering making a casserole and popping over to do my laundry and make sure I'm brushing my teeth properly. If you do have a blog, you are probably still stuck at the end of the last paragraph,having laughed your breakfast all over the cat at the mere suggestion that I had actually stopped writing anything more than a sentence long all month
You know what I'm talking about: every blog I've visited over the last month has been subject to at least one Big Mac-sized slab of text wedged squarely in the comments section, doubling the length of the post itself and skipping off on tangents like a gay geometry teacher. Single Sentence September should have been more accurately titled: 'Blog On Other Bloggers' Blogs September', but alliteration is always awesome and that would have let everybody know that I was coming.
I like to be sneaky.

So, by way of saying 'thank you' to all the bloggers who hosted my guest-spots (or
"put up with my mutton-headed takeovers"), I will be searching back and finding a couple of the silliest examples of my blog invasions and posting them here with links to their original, more inspirational post. Yes, Writing has been reborn as an environmentalist: I am recycling my own shit.

The first one is rather special.

The formidably fantastic Poetsquib is currently hosting a competition. By a combination of luck, fate and chaos, she has acquired a free t-shirt. It's a ripper.
But she is not keeping it, she is not selling it, she is n
ot dumping it in a charity bin (lest it be burnt at a Goodwill stake) she is giving it away. Free postage. The t-shirt will go to the commenter with best reason for being given the shirt as explained in her comments section.
I went first with a mystical tale of curse and destiny and have since been both trounced, served and delivered a litany of literary smackdowns at the hands of snappy poetry and a longer, crazier sentence than I ever came up with.
I tried my hand at poetry, but it didn't really make the splash I might have been hoping for. But, since you are allowed to enter as many times as you like, I gave it another, longer go.
Bear in mind that I posted this right into Squib's comments section and what you read below is
not the entire entry. You'll have to mosey on over to poetsquib's great big blue t-shirt competition to find out what happens ...

It would have been a dark and stormy night, but Franzy had locked himself indoors with all of the lights on and the stereo tuned to out-rattle the watered-down sludge which fell from the sky as what passed for God's Great Rain these days. He was band-aid ripper kind of person, unable to put up with the tediousness of prolonged suffering before the inevitable snuff. Taking his final queues from Thomas and Cobain, he preferred to leave, not with a whimper, but a bang.

The generator gauge fell like a twirling leaf in a slow motion info-sermon explaining God’s Greatest Design Triumphs. Less-than-6000-year-old fossil fuel heated, burned, died and fled to The One True Heaven from the exhaust spire. Franzy pulled on his homemade Llama t-shirt, just to be ready when the Divination And Prayer Brigade would undoubtedly arrive to claim back his mortal soul and save him from the wickedness of scientific lightbulbs not illuminating any proper moral teachings and also from the hellish sound of decades-banned secular music lest it poison the air and ears of the Good Soldiers Of God throughout the neighbourhood.

He turned up the music and peered out into the street. A few curtains swayed as hunched shapes cowered behind them, praying to their Holy Candles that this last threat to True Spiritual Peace and Righteousness would be taken from their Pure And Perfect Lives Unsullied By Controversial Thought Or Deed. Divination And Prayer would arrive soon and, with the might of God, set everything right once again.

Franzy smiled and slumped into a Counsel-issued Prayer Chair which he had carefully broken and rebuilt into a normal seat that didn’t force you to lean forward and kneel and pray to almighty God every time you wanted to sit or stand. He checked the generator gauge and plugged in his most forbidden treasure, hidden all these years in a hollowed-out illustrated Holy Book which he had sealed with canvas, claiming it was untouched by Sinner’s Hands. The Web Weaver Of Satan had held up very well for something that would have been laughably out of date had The Gentle Holy Counsel allowed personal computers to continue being developed and distributed. As such, they had been declared sinful and morally diseased: the soul-raping plague rats of the mid-21st Century, spreading anti-Godist propaganda and cutting the hearts from The Pure Children Of God as they went.

Franzy plugged the old smiley-face plug into his home-made converter and plugged the converter into the now-icon-shaped electrical socket. Little green lights flickered warmed up as he turned on the laptop.

There was no point in having it on really. Just for memories. Satan’s Web had long been dismantled and banished as the Evil Cancer Which Rotted The Souls And Minds Of God’s Pure Children. There was no Blogger, no Google, no Boingboing. No electrical pulses carrying information of any sort.

But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t still look at the old cache files he had madly saved during the internet’s final days before it was bricked up in a cold tomb, along with free media, non-religious texts and anyone else who tried to stop the entire place turning into a mega-sized puritanical village run by power-mad elders and assisted by God-fearing zombies praying for righteousness and good at whatever cost.

Over the polluted rain pounding on the roof and the throbbing metal wailing from the speakers Franzy could just make out the furious pounding of horses’ hooves and rusty farming tools banging together. Out in the street somebody was singing a shaky-voiced prayer as they assembled a large wooden frame.

He scanned his old blog posts, noticing a missed plural there, a spelling error here and a bunch of absent apostrophes that had gone to join the twenty generations of floating fathers who crowded into the room with him, hands stuffed in ill-fitting pockets, plucking at poorly-cut shirts, shuffing amateur-grade chain mail and rewrapping badly tied loin-cloths. They shook their ghostly heads and peered out of the window at the chanting mob, jabbering in unison as a man stood in front of them on a make-shift stage, yelling and waving a book and a torch.

Franzy finally found what he was looking for and a couple of the ghosts gathered over his shoulder.

I command you. Go to poetsquib! Live the heightening drama!


Guess The Header - Oh yeah. You thought I'd forgotten. I haven't.

Inaugural winner is The Mighty Other, other Sam, who may now refer to himself by his Nom du Bling (or 'Rap Name'), T-MOoS. Two points. Two comments. Two points. Plus two chest thumps and a fist pound.

Is that how it will work from now on? Maybe. You'll just have to suck it up and see to it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Australian Top Gear: Revving High in Third!

I am a great fan of Top Gear. I get the British Shows well before they air here and also have a growing collection of the older British shows. I buy car magazines and read them cover to cover, Holden to Ford. I could explain to you in layman's terms how an internal combustion engine works and the various methods improving its output. I have my own opinions about cars and the automotive industry, but I appreciate British Top Gear for the extremely high level of production that goes into an iconic piece of entertainment.

I was apprehensive and even doubtful about the first franchised version of Top Gear. It could have been low-rent, stupid, colonial and natural as a peddle-powered Commodore.
It wasn't.
It was like a seventeen-year-old all dressed and ready for their first school formal. Amateur, awkward and slightly embarrassed to be there in the first place, but at the same time, excited, cocky and beautiful with hope, youth and vitality. This kid is going to break some hearts. Not a lot of them. Not too many outside its peer group, but it'll definitely do what it set out to, in the end.

There are many reasons to believe that Australian Top Gear will succeed. They are:

Charlie Cox: He is the least embarrassed and the most natural in front of the studio audience and also in the trademark sparring with his co-presenters.

The production looks nice and slick: Top Gear is basically a series of ultra-flashy music/porn videos featuring cars in place of synchronised dancing and whatever they show in porn videos. Quick pans, high definition video tricks, Bruckheimeresque soundtracks, lingering gazes at metallic hides and freeze-frame action shots of power-sliding engineering. The Australian film crews and editors have been paying very good attention to what works and why.

The cars are promising: The metal shown in the advertising campaign (Ford vs Holden battle, a nightmarishly black Ford GT, the intriguing mining truck vs ute race) are right into the eye-candy flash and dash that Top Gear audiences expect. All these are unique ideas in a field already well-plowed by Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond.

They will get better: Yes, they were nervous. It showed. They were inexperienced. It also showed. The lack of bricks sliding down the presenters' trouser legs and onto the studio floor was thus commendable. BUT none of it seemed ingrained. These aren't nervous guys trying to appear enigmatic for the camera, these are obviously enigmatic guys trying to shake their nerves for the camera and doing a very commendable job. They will get better. Then the reasons they were chosen above 4000 other applicants and then from a short-list for their in-person chemistry and camaraderie will begin to shine through.

However, are there, of course, inherent problems with exporting the format to Australia with the straight copy-and-paste option taken by Freehand.

Fun And Interesting Cars Are Really Really Expensive: There is no way around it. The starring cars of most of the British Top Gears are almost all beyond the reach of most of Top Gear's viewing demographic in Australia. When old British motoring journo Jeremy Clarkson tells you that he simply loves Mercedes' new CLK 63
AMG Black then that's quite fine because you know that he could probably buy one because he's an international mega-star who changes exotic supercars about once a year.
He probably writes them off on tax.
That's the fun bit about the show. You sort of get to buy it with him, in your mind. He's driving it, you're sitting next to him, he's telling you what fun it is and you believe him. You do it together.
But when Charlie Cox whips the cover off the new Lambourghini LP-560 and tells you that it's $550,000, your first reaction as an Australian brought up under tall poppy syndrome with the housing bubble bursting all over your face is to heave a besser block through its carefully raked windscreen.

On the British show, the quoted prices are in meaningless pounds (this also has the illusory effect felt by every Australian backpacker ever to visit London: "Everything is so cheap! But wait a minute ... times by three ... add tax ... bugger. We have to leave") and
the cars are often so rare that the cost flashes by in a cloud of tyre-smoke and carbon fibre.
On the Australian show, the price they quote you is the price that you immediately understand in your head as being a number which cuffs this piece of escapism firmly within the television set with only bread, water and a Hyundai broschure. You're not sitting next to Jeremy Clarkson spinning the wheels in his new Lambo, nor are you reclining on the vintage leather of Richard Hammond's Charger. You're sitting in the pub with three complete strangers who you are quite willing to let be your mates because you are going to drive cars together, if only they wouldn't keep dropping prices into the conversation which you only hear mentioned in terms soapy, floating houses and the entire yearly salaries of striking surgeons.

Top Gear is a review show that turned into an action movie: Australian Top Gear has to pick up where the action movie left off, sliding gingerly into the back seat of the flaming Ferrari as it leaps over the Grand Canyon to escape the Taliban. And, like the passenger in the flaming Ferrari, there's not really a lot to add. Unless they are really really creative. Maybe some gun fire and a call to the Prime Minister?
Top Gear has the luxury of the review platform to base its pieces upon - its presenters are seasoned motoring journalists and are given ample opportunity (by a well-funded research department) to display this knowledge. Australian Top Gear's presenters all have media
backgrounds and experience and it is claimed that they all have their motoring chops, but there has been (so far) little chance to show those off.

The hot cars have to be thrashed: The new Porsche 911 was driven sedately, the Maybach had its headphones shown off and the Lambo went nowhere at all. One suspects that those holding the keys to the comparably-tiny fleet of super expensive cars in Australia are not thrilled by the prospect of smart-arsed TV presenters tearing up their tyres and defecating on their insurance ratings.
(*To see what I mean either watch the entire video until the end, or just pause and let it load until 6:15 and then start watching. To see what I mean about price, click here and scroll to the very bottom ...)

My other criticisms are mostly niggly, fan-boy things that have either been satisfied by British Top Gear or may just yet appear on the show (GT-R in a passing hotlap? No Holden or Ford on the track? Ahh ... next time, Gadget, next time).

Australian Top Gear has started well with the mold it was provided with. Now it needs to smash that mold and set about adding a few modifications of its own.

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32