Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'll teach them to disable the comments page ...

Dear Leslie,

I imagine you've probably received a fair bit of email about your article, so I'll try to keep this brief and let you know from the outset that this one falls into the "appreciative but critical" camp.

I applaud the thought that you put into this matter and I agree with your friend about the positives of having any sexual activity conducted in a friendly environment, rather than a dangerous one (I'm not really entering into the complimentary stage yet, am I?). I don't envy the conundrum set you, as a mother of boys, who knows what it's like to grow up as a girl with boys around.

But (there it is!) I think your friend is right. I think that in wanting to protect these girls from their own indecision or loss of control, you're also protecting them from their own decisions and any semblance of mature control they might finally have wrestled back from society. It might have taken a great moving of internal mountains for these girls to finally be able to make the decision to accept an invitation to stay over at a boy friend's (note the space) house. Just walking through your front door (rather than clambering through your son's darkened bedroom window) might be the finishing line for them. They are probably prepared to walk through the front door in the first place because your sons are the kinds of young men they are (young men who know that "no" means "no", but who also understand that lots of other things also mean "No", like "I don't know", "Um", "" and complete silence), raised by the kind of mother you are (the woman who would be Switzerland).

Enough about these girls. Onto the boys.

"There is a relatively straightforward relationship for boys between what they want, what they say they want and what they pursue – with sex, and everything else."

I think you're wrong about this. I've been a boy. I've been excellent friends with boys. It is not straight forward. Relative to girls, relative to anything. I'm not going to start asking where you get your ideas about this, but here are mine:

For teenaged boys there is almost nothing scarier than a teenage girl. Nothing. This does not get better with age. Look at the way women are treated by men, by society. Have you read Stieg Larsson? Apparently the working title for the first novel was Men Who Hate Women. This was not a new concept. But I digress - you know what I'm talking about.

The fact that your sons have girls who are friends puts them years ahead of their peers, I can guaranteee it. When they grow into young men, they will have left a large section of the male population behind forever when it comes to possessing the gifts that women can bestow upon others with their friendship: things like understanding, emotional intelligence and strength. They are already protected from the kinds of relationships which use up their joy and dignity. They will never be cowardly enough to use the words "slut" or "bitch".

I'll wrap up this "brief" (sorry about that) email with something reassuring: these sleepovers aren't about sex. They may be and eventually, they probably will be. But right now, despite the formal conversations between parents and the attempts at casual reassurance by partners, sex is not the only thing that two teenagers of the opposite sex can think of to do alone in a room together. Before the not-inevitable move to the least-squeaky trundle bed, there's probably a lot of learning going on.



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Swans, maybe. But where was the water?

Thanks for your opinion, Dan.

Next time you're putting on a performance of Swan Lake, we'll send our best movie critic along to complain about the tedious love-triangle cliches and lack of meaningful dialogue. Or, better yet, we will dispatch an ornithologist to make sure you get all the bird bits just right.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Harsh language?

Bumper sticker:

You'd be speaking Japanese right now"

I do realise the value of bumper stickers as political statements, but this one seems to transcend politics and challenge the very tennets of logic itself. The primary argument, that we, Australia, were able to defend ourselves from the Japanese during WWII using guns has the usual, run-of-the-mill, redneck fantasy about it and the traditional arguments apply:
  • Guns were only used by the military.
  • No hand to hand combat was used in the campaign (was it? I dunno).
  • The Japanese would have been fucked anyway, trying to conquer a landmass that's mostly desert with bullets.
  • Etc.
No, I'm interested in the premise explored in the sticker which posits that guns existing in the first place is a innate positive. Japan had guns, therefore, Australia has guns. However, if no guns exist at all, Australia has no guns with which to defend itself but neither does Japan. The portable projectile delivery system does not exist. This begs the beautifully creative question: if no such invention existed, what does Japan use instead?

Ponderous, man.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Even blurry Ray Romano earned $33,000,000

Dear Channel 11,

No one is fooled. Just because 'Zoom and Enhance' works on the TV shows from the 1990s you keep airing, doesn't mean that your grainy widescreen is fooling anyone in real life.

Chortlingly yours,


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Maybe next year ...


Reading through previous blog entries I just realised that I forgot to hold my yearly guilt trip event in which all acquaintances must pretend that the Xmas season isn't an inconvenient time to do non-Xmas things. You know: a birthday party.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pictures are still words.

Jono did this, so I'm doing it too. Take the first sentence of the first blog of each month for 2010:

January: With cancer, it's like we're all standing in a hallway while a madman fires a gun in our direction.

February: In fact, we're all so busy that I've discovered a new measure of 'busy-ness': pee smell.

March: And now he is one.

April: Then there was the time when I was working on my PhD's literature review, gathering all these sources and awesome quotes, and I was pretty tired and not really thinking clearly, so I decided to do something non-brain-heavy, like putting all my hand-typed references with page numbers into properly-linked citations using EndNote.


June: "Do you think the reason we've been having so many earthquakes recently is because we've taken so much oil out of the earth's crust? You know, because oil is a natural lubricant?"

July: Although sometimes you can just wake up in the morning and sunlight shines a little brighter.

August: I saw this somewhere and thought "That looks easy!"

September: Silly me.

October: I've been utterly silent lately because I'm writing a lecture and a literature review and editing someone's Masters thesis.

November: Here is what I set out to make:(Follow in my greasy footsteps!)

December: Take two people who are intelligent, witty and outgoing.

Give it a crack!

Woodchip Gully

Dear Melbourne,

Thank you for the wonderful time. Your drivers were (mostly) courteous and your coffee ever-flawless. Your piles of things on expensive breads served as breakfast were both challenging and delicious.

Melbourne fellas, a word: you are, individually and collectively, a handsome lot, but you have too many tattoos. Individually and collectively. Most of you look as though you are wearing faded Ken Done lycra. I am glad to see that you are championing the mutton chop and the undercut, but these only made this poor Adelaide man think of Deliverance, rather than whatever it was that you wanted me to think about.
Your sense of fashion and style is without reproach and you are, to a man, bold, brave and beautiful in your finery. You exude grace and delicacy without sacrificing masculinity. I would never have the confidence and panache to wear it as you so confidently do, but I am just not the type to suit the style of a wife-beating dandy (pink-striped, low-slung tank-tops! A triumph!).

Melbourne shop-owners, an additional word: your business names are hilarious. "You Are Hair" Ha ha! Excellent. But, be aware that there are those among you who Do Not Get It. They are usurpers and must be stopped. These people are just adding two random words together and calling it cool. "Donkey and Onion", "Rust Chowder", "Scally and Trombone", "Sass and Bide". The very idea. Root them out and make them re-name their businesses exactly what they are until they can come up with a suitable alternative. Names like "T-shirts with unacknowledged Simpsons slogans at high prices" or "Useless handmade dog dolls".

And you, Roccoco. We waited for almost two hours after bed time with a hungry, tired baby. Fortunately, it was delicious enough to excuse this tardiness. Even with the bad mussel.
Well done. Nice save.

Everyone else: stop smoking and get some bloody exercise. You're all starting to look a bit prematurely haggard. And holding your ciggies under the table at an outdoor cafe does not make the smoke disappear. At all. In any way. You're like a 2-year-old kid hiding a beach-ball behind its back. We can still see it.

Until next time, I shall dream of the delicious pile of food that Dordy showed us the way to at St Ali.

Franzy and Pickles.

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