Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pint of Pale, thanks

Every year, I make a video birthday invitation.
This year is no different.

If you're a regular reader, come along and say hi.

If you're one of the sweet folks who've landed here from you Google searches for "blazer teachers fucking students", "gear shift fuckers" or even "what's wrong with a 100 dollar mattress", then perhaps give it a miss, eh?


GTH - With her double-entendre, Mad Cat Lady takes the point, said the actress to the bishop. The photo was actually taken by me out of a hostel window in Derry on my first night in Ireland. The night before the Orange Marches were due to take place. Being a moronic backpacker, I had no idea of the perfect storm that the significance of date and place would have upon my stay. Garda vans patrolled the old city walls and cops with riot gear and machine guns barracaded every entrance with shipping containers and barbed wire. The riots the next day made the international news and I was forced to call my mother and explain that not all Derry was on fire, just the Catholic bit.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Heeeeeere's Emery!

I tend to resist the sinful blogger's temptation to post youtube videos and call it a blog. Unless I've made the film myself. But I was reminded of the video below recently when I saw the film again on SBS. Apart from being a great scene, it always reminds me of a certain time in my life which makes for a story in itself.

I once lived in a hostel in Belfast. For about six months between the summer and winter, I shared a room with four other guys: two drug dealing turkey pluckers and a masturbating Scotsman* who played in the Salvation Army band every Sunday. The number of times I woke up to go to my regulation Traveller's Kitchen Job only to hear a squeaking noise and look across and see those long hairy
red toes curling over in Celtic ecstasy was not a healthy way to come to terms with being alive.

The hostel was a terrace house in a row of terrace houses down the road from Queens University. What made this terrace house distinct from the other terrace houses was the fact that it was the only one that wasn't a condemned shell. We had all the luxuries a modern traveller could want: a laundry, two kitchens, a communal lounge room, a short walk to all the swanky, funky businesses which were springing to take advantage of Belfast's richest students, the internet. We even had an extremely loud stereo for parties.
There were a few problems (apart from the Onanistic Glaswegian): The greasy owner. The occasional Garda raid. The Comedy/Booze Hall across the street which closed at 1am like every other pub in that stupid, stupid city, flooding the streets with angry, horny drinkers, fresh from the 12:30 binge, who would roll around fighting and raping each other in the streets until I would lean out of my window
(third storey window - I'm not a complete idiot) and tell them all to shut the fuck up and go the fuck home at which point they would lob beer bottles at the hostel for me to walk through on my way to work at 7am the next morning.
But worst of all was the lack of available media. Seems insignificant now, but for some reason, there was only one CD and one video. The CD was Bob Marley's Greatest Hits. It took me 8 years to be able to listen to "Jammin'" again.
The one video was discovered by every "over-nighter" (that's what us long-termers called the backpackers with enough cash to keep moving) who found us in whatever out-of-date travel guide the greasy owner had managed to bluff his way into. Invariably American or Britsh. Always male. Even on the days when I returned home and it wasn't already playing, it wasn't long before that fateful, daily yelp reverberated through the paper-mache building:
"Oh awesome dude! Full Metal Jacket! I love this fuckin' movie!"
And we'd all sit there, watching the movie again because this loud-mouthed Yank loved the Marine Corps and could have like totally got in while his stupid London mate would be asking all these homoerotic questions about whether the Corps was really that tough.

That said, this scene is one that bears watching again and again. R. Lee Emery became synonymous with the image of the American military and there are many amusing anecdotes on his Wikipedia page, but watch the scene, think of it as tight-arse Tuesday for the really tight-arsed.

If anyone has a story to do with a scene from a movie, I'd love to hear it and post it, a la Sing A Song For Us Tonight. Since SASFUT is on hiatus over the summer, maybe Cheap Arse Chewsday can fill in for it. Let's hear those stories about movies! Pick a scene! Spill your guts!

* These are not euphemisms.

GTH - There was actually a bit of stiff competition this round. Miles had a truly stallion effort and has been the only reader to really have a shot at unpacking the little bit of quote I've taken to putting up along with the picture. TOoS came in strong with his speculation about the identity of Aussie Stig and Shippy tickled my fancy with "Not watch, analyse!". Kath was lucky not to lose a point for outing herself as a hat-wearing Volvo Driver and Squib might have come away with glory by explaining why she hates a TV show in which borish, white, middle-aged men behave as such and are applauded for it. But she never wrote back.
The winner then is none other than Third Cat for her sniper-style comment critique of my brilliant ideas for improving Australian Top Gear: "but you wouldn't really want another show where men put on dresses and we're supposed to think that's funny? Would you?"
You make a good point, comrade. So here's one in return.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear Top Gear Australia,

Well done on a first season. You were better than we all thought you'd be.
But, lads, you missed the mark.
The filming was brilliant. The look of the thing was bright, exciting and Australian. But you still missed the mark. In trying not to be UK Top Gear, you missed out the things that make UK Top Gear worth watching.
I've written about this before, but I wasn't clear enough. I understand now where I went wrong, and I apologise. It's not just that we all want to drive the cars with you, we want to understand them. Pretend they're ours. We want to be able to quote the stats at our mates and also potificate about how the air-conditioning comes from a Mondeo.
When you take out our Lambourghinis for a spin, we don't just want you to read out the sales brochure. We want you to interpret it. Don't tell us about the torque, tell us it would actually twist tarmac to ribbons if the tyres were any stickier. Don't tell us the thing is fast, tell us it's already next Tuesday. Exaggeration, hyperbole, superfluities, lies. How much power does the W427 have? Four Million kilowatts! That's how much! Yeah! Broom Broom!
The problem is that you have writers, but not motoring journalists. The staged-gags and wordplays are good, but not the car-related ones. The car talk is all written down verbatim from the nervous nellies handing over the Emotional Control Units to the hosts. There's no opinion, no criticism. I understand that car manufacturers are loathe to put their product images in the hands of so powerful a medium as Top Gear, but when you "do" a car, don't just tell us that you love it. Tell us it handles like a caffeinated chiuhaha. Tell us the interior reminds you of your accountant's tearoom (practical, sparse, boring and with little teabag expense accounts ticking away in the ether).

I never saw you dislike a car. Not even slightly. Praise is boring. The only reason you're still reading this is because I'm not blowing spun sugar into your dacks. Our eyes tell us that black GT is brilliant. Only you can keep us watching with the audacity to suggest that it's an ugly, over-powered brute with switches from a 1980s cassette recorder. Do some hotlaps in the R8 and then have a good old bitch about how it looks like the guy at your formal who didn't understand that cummerbunds were meant to go inside the suit.

The final show's Holden vs Ford showdown. You came out and tested the entry-level variations. The family cars. I was thrilled. I was excited.
'Aha!' I said aloud to the empty loungeroom. 'Here comes the tomfoolery, the japes, the mucking about and the falling over.'
You did doughnuts. Again. We've seen the doughnuts. We've seen the breaking test and the drag race.
Did the words 'family car' not ring any bells? No? I'll try another question: at the risk of borrowing too much from UK Top Gear, have you noticed
that when your English cousins do comparative road tests on less-than-thrilling cars the tests themselves are always mockeries of normal usability tests, the testing is a slapstick routine minus the pies and the results are ridiculously skewed and unimportant? Have you noticed how entertaining that is?
I'll give you a clue: how about a family car test that involves, oh I don't know, a family? Why weren't the hosts dressed up in floral dresses and skateboarding shorts and told to fetch as many groceries as possible for their respective vehicles? Why weren't a gaggle of school kids raced around the track in the back seat on their way to footy practices with points for whoever's surrogate children kicked the most goals? I just thought of those then, and I'm doing it for free.

The major clue to the mark-missing that's gone on all season was during the final montage.
'What a great season,' one of the presenters grinned. 'Check out what fun we had!'
Play montage. About thirty seconds in came a long series of clips of the presenters behind the wheels of very different cars all exclaiming 'How good is this?'
Yes, I know it's a classic example of Aussie rhetoric. What am I, an idiot? But taken out of that context, I can't help but notice that they never answered the question. We see the Porsche. We hear it. We watch our mates up there on-screen driving it and grinning like Luna Park winning a lottery ticket. Then they all turn to camera and ask "How good is this?"
'I don't know!' we all shout. 'Why don't you tell us?'

Come back next year boys. Review some cars. Don't be afraid to fall over and complain. And watch a bit of UK Top Gear. Take notes.

GTH - Points to the long-absent Moify for his usual brand of stalktacular guessing, and a point to Kath for offering to buy me a beer. Kath, you will receive TWO points upon receipt of said beer. THREE if you bring it to me before I have to go onstage and brave my famously acidic nervous farts.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hello sunshine

In case this wasn't clue enough (and it isn't - obtuse, artsy bullshit that it is):

Should be good.

GTH - There were lots of excellent comments on two of the most commented-upon blogs I've written in recent times, and everyone who commented made interesting points and insightful remarks. But there can only be one. Or, in this case: two. Miles, for appropriately guessing what I was thinking when I put the rubble-filled tunnel as a header for a post about the woes of Kew's working poor (he misses out on an extra point for refusing to put a proper apostrophe in his blog title). And Third Cat, for swooping in at the end and rendering everybody's careful research and consideration into story structure useless with a funny joke.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I definitely smell a pork product of some kind

Shippy and I are having an arguement.

"Shakespeare was a plagiarist" states Shippy.
"Bullshit!" cries I. "Evidence! Solid facts!"
"Fine," says The Shipster, and sends me this:

"Shakespeare the Plagiarist

Shakespeare was a man of many accomplishments. Many were in his writings; others were in his great director and playwright skills. The play Hamlet is one of the most re-created and re-written books to date. Hamlet is still being performed in theaters around the world. Even though many people perceive Shakespeare as a literary genius, we can not give him sole credit for his plays and sonnets.

With a few exceptions, Shakespeare did not invent the plots of his plays. Sometimes he used old stories (Hamlet, Pericles). Sometimes he worked from the stories of comparatively recent Italian writers, such as Boccaccio - using both well-known stories (Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing) and little known ones (Othello). Shakespeare has been proven, by many authors, to have borrowed from the Arts, the Histories and the Sciences. (Britannica Online,
"The first collection of information about sources of Elizabethan plays was published in the 17th century. Gerard Langbaines account of the English Dramatic Poets (1691) briefly indicated where Shakespeare found materials for some plays."(Britannica Online)
It has been shown in this book that Shakespeare quoted his contemporary Christopher Marlowe in As You Like It. He casually refers to the Aethiopica ("Ethiopian history") of Heliodorus (which has been translated by Thomas Undertown in 1569) in Twelfth Night. Chapman's vigorous translation of Homer.
[to view the full essay now, purchase below]

Fine and Dandy.

To counter that, you could posit that there are, in fact, no new stories. I remember learning in honours that there are around seven unique story structures which can be applied to any complete narrative (whether fact or fiction) published or told ever since language and writing has existed.
I can't bloody remember them all now, but they're things like
The love story (two separate entities come together)
The war story (one entity vanquishes another)
The tragedy (righteous entities experience entropy)

These structures can be applied to almost all stories from Sumerian fart jokes onwards through history to Shakespeare and beyond. If not literally, then metaphorically.
There are no new stories. Just better versions. If Shakespeare ripped off a few ideas from his contemporaries then why aren't we amazed at his talent for reference and pop-cultural appreciation. The Simpsons do it all the time and everybody loves them for it!
I think the greater contribution Shakespeare made to literature was that of the language he used. The beautiful, twisting, perfect words themselves, the phrases and stanzas in which they lived. Plays and plays and plays of the stuff.
I've also heard that he didn't write his own words either, but to that I say: bullshit!

GTH - Picture stays the same, points still count for sprightly comments in previous post, but double points to anyone who can supply me with that complete (and short) list of The Seven Story Structures.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boo Fucking Hoo Part TWO!!!

I am well-aware of what schadenfreude is, and, as of today, how warm it can feel.

Premium suburbs bear brunt as real estate market reels.

"At auctions across tree-lined streets in Toorak, Brighton and Kew, bidders are keeping hands in pockets, with auctioneers forced to pass in homes and hope. "I would say th
ere has been a 10% to 15% fall."
Local agent Richard Mackinnon, from Bennison Mackinnon, referring to those suburbs.

Be strong, children. Think of the plight and thank your lucky stars and moons that you're not so unfortunate as to be selling a five-bedroom bungalow in Toorak!

I know, I know: shame on me, these people worked their whole lives, mortgage stress, etc, but hearing about 4-bedroom house going for
"only" a million bucks after years of baby-boomer bubbling, completely fails to make me reach for the hanky. Being told almost weekly that my generation is one that will never be able to afford a house has hardened my impecunious heart somewhat.

Except for you, Kath. You go, girl. Gouge those finnicketty buggers.

GTH - Last post's picture was of Mele's Nonno's greenhouse and his homemade tools. Nonno died last year, but he left behind an amazing culture of love and respect among his family and through the stories they tell, the pictures they show and the things he left around the farm. I wanted specifically to say with this picture that not all death is pointless, leaving nothing. It can be delicate and beautiful and personal. Points to everybody who had a go.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blood oranges

Three more idiots are dead. Does it fix anything? Does it make us better people? Does it allow us all learn as humans from our mistakes and live happier lives?
Now 205 people are dead as a result of the 2002 Bali bombings. That's it.

"There is an unwanted chapter in my life that begins with violence and closes with violence. There is a sense of emptiness."

Brian Deegan, father of Josh Deegan who was killed in the attack.


GTH - To Shippy for the tooth-rotting metaphor and a grudging tick to 327 for nerding up in the old nerd box. The picture was of course meant to reference both the literal poor dental care resultant from a 'user pays' society and the metaphor of dealing with both HECS, Centrelink and self people folk what don't get the value of an educated community: eating shit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Big Brother Enthusiast ...

Of course we all dashed over to Ashleigh's excellent blog after the last post to read the very 2005 post about the braindeadness of HECS and the slight scamminess of the maths involved in making those who go to uni pay for their degrees a couple of times over, despite the apparent dopeness of not having to pay the fees up front while also trying to study, work, pay rent, buy food, drugs, beer, food, beer and textbooks.

I'm not sure if everyone might have made it to the comments section, because this little bewdy was first out of the gates:

"So that doesnt quite explain why the great mass of non-tertiary educated workers who pay the bulk of the tax end up funding an education system that they didnt use and which their kids may not use.. User pays I say!"

Thanks, Duncan.

I tried to explain this in my subsequent comment, but I think punching out a comeback some three and a half years after the original comment probably robs it of a little momentum.
That said, I am sick to my hairy head of the short-sighted shit that people drip around higher education in general.
"User pays"
How about this:
Young lady wants to be a dentist.
No problem.
She goes to dental school.
There's no HECS, no help.
She works and borrows to get the upfront cash to fund her tertiary education.
She graduates.
She goes to work.
She charges double for her services, just like every other dentist in Australia because, although she wanted to fix teeth, she still had to pay for an education which other people are now receiving for the meagre price of keeping up her business loan, her staff payments and her living expenses. Her patients are using her education for free!
Fuck that, she says.
If education is an individually-allocated commodity, not a benefit to society as a whole, then she will be buggered if she's giving it away.
You're using her education to fix your teeth, Duncan. You pay for it.
Not just her here and now expenses, but the debt from the loans she took to become a dentist. The ongoing education for the repeat check-ups you will need at which you will probably prefer the latest technology, rather than a hammer and chisel. Fork out, buddy!

Or, how about the kids teaching your kids in the public schools? They're using those teachers' education for free!

"User pays".
Hoik. P-tooey.

GTH - Point to Ashleigh, for the inspiration, Kath (she's gotta get something for $7 a fortnight and a bleeding boob)(welcome to double figures by the way) and Shippy for feeling the grue at 40 degrees C for his education.
My feelings for the picture were that a blurry glance at a shave-headed assailant is pretty much what any interaction with Cennerlink feels like.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dear Drone,

As inspired by Jono:

Dear Recipient of Irregular Payments According to Spousal Income and Our Irregularly Changing Extra Income and Rent, Power and Telephone Bill Assistance Payments,

We realise that your payment differs in amount fortnight to fortnight, sometimes due to something you're doing that we won't identify and sometimes due to what we're doing that we also refuse to identify. That's why we are writing to tell you that the irregular amount you received last week wasn't due to anything you did, anything your partner did or any regulations that require us to pay you a monthly stipend, quarterly bill assistance or yearly lump sum. It was because we made an error that you would not have been able to realise or account for. It was our fault. Now pay us back the money that you didn't realise wasn't yours and may have spent in the last month because we assume that you keep all of your Centrelink income in a holding account for up to two months before spending it on anything.

Thank you for choosing Centrelink,
Apologetically yours,

And in today's news:

Personal Hero, Mark Davis

"... Having lived through 15 years of unbroken prosperity, [Gen-Y have] known nothing but good times. And now they're going to have to learn to face economic reality, and to deal with the hard times.

At last, the joke is on them.

.... Not all young people, it's true. But enough to make it matter, and to show a pattern of systemic neglect that the stereotypes seek to cover.

Much as we like to think that each generation is better off than the one before, the fact is that many of today's young people will never have a chance to own a home."

Makes me want to slash my wrists right through their ill-considered tattoos.


GTH - Even though there is a persistent lack of apostrophe on his site's title, the point goes for the hard kicking Miles. For effort if nothing else.

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