Sunday, December 31, 2006

Not happy, Jan!

Right, there are a few people with whom I am Not Happy. You know who you are. I'm giving you all a very, very hard stare.

This, as you will have noticed, is a cemetery. It's a lovely old churchyard at Magill in Adelaide's eastern suburbs. It dates back to the 1840s and it has some beautiful old headstones set among olives, pine trees and agapanthus.

In the foreground of the picture, you can see a gravestone. It belongs to my great-great-grandmother, my great-grandmother and my great-grandfather. Can't read the names? That would be because some wretched little swine decided to kick it over a few nights ago. Luckily, it's not broken, because it's made of fairly sturdy marble, but if you look in the background you'll see some that are. The older, thinner, taller stones and the ones made of slate didn't fare as well. I didn't count exactly how many graves had been desecrated when mum and I went out to look at the damage this morning, but there were at least a few dozen.

While we were standing there, an older lady wandered over to ask whether this was the cemetery that had been desecrated. Er, yes. That would be why we're standing in front of a kicked-over headstone. I fought not to say something about Captain Obvious while Mama Cap said, "What's the matter with people these days?" The lady said, "Oh, I can tell you right now! They don't believe in God!" There was a clamping/grinding sort of noise, as Redcap the Atheist bit her tongue and spat out a platitude or two. The lady trotted off, surrounded by a cloud of righteous anger.

A few minutes later, a pair of well-intentioned young rubberneckers appeared. "Oh, isn't it terrible?" Er, yes. "Is the stone heavy?" Er, yes. But they were actually offering to put their muscle where their mouths were and to help right it, which was nice of them. We had already decided that it couldn't fall any further, so it was better to leave it for the monumental masons to pick up when they cement it back into place.

But ooh, I'm angry. I don't want to hear any of that usual old rubbish about disaffected youth and blah blah blah. For Ford's sake, get a hobby! Read some Dostoyevsky or Salinger or something and rage against the dying of the light/the machine/the bloody Howard Government.



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The turkey has landed

It's taken a day and a half, but I think I've recovered from the trauma. I did things to a turkey on Sunday and Monday that have left me feeling so dirty.

Holy hell, that bird was big. When I ordered it from our local butcher I said, "I need to feed 10. How big a turkey do you think I need?" Fatal mistake. I now realise that that was almost as stupid as saying to a hairdresser, "Oh, I don't mind. Do whatever you think will suit me".

"Well," said Mrs Butcher, obviously rubbing her hands with glee, "someone wanted a turkey to feed 20 the other day, and we said they should get a size 8, so I think a size 5 would do you. That should be about four or five kilos."

"Fine," I said cheerily. "Slaughter it gently for me, then, and I'll collect it on Pissmas Eve."

Remember that episode of Mr Bean where he ends up with a turkey the size of an ostrich stuck on his head? Here, refresh your memory if you don't:

My turkey may have been slightly smaller, but not much. And thank Ford, it didn't end up anywhere near my head.

We hauled the thing home, using a small trailer that we were forced to rent from the butcher. (Nice side business, you bastards.) I tried putting it in various places: the kitchen floor (it fitted there, but that wasn't a great idea from a hygiene point of view); the sink (it covered the whole draining board and part of the bench); and the fridge (I had to remove all of the tall condiments from the second shelf to fit it in). I finally settled it on the couch to watch the midday movie and then did what any girl with a huge turkey and no idea what to do with it would do. I rang my mother.

"Hmm," Mama Cap said. "How big is it?"

"Mind-bogglingly huge. And oh, bugger it, I think it's still partially frozen."

A rather boring argument ensued about why I hadn't secured a fresh turkey. (In my defence, I thought that's what I was getting. Silly me.) The outcome of said argument was that Mama Cap was not going to be happy until I had stuck my hand up the turkey to find out just how frozen it was.

"Oh God, do I have to?" I whined, thinking of Adrian Mole's mother soaked in alcoholic tears as she tried to thaw a turkey in the bath on Christmas morning.

Naturally, I ended up sticking my hand up the turkey. It went past the wrist. I felt so dirty ~shudder~

After consulting several recipe books and Mama Cap, I decided to go with the cooking time suggested in The Cook's Companion. I'm not sure why, since most of Stephanie Alexander's recipes crash and burn in spectacular fashion when I try them. No, of couse it's not my fault! I have a theory that she's left out one crucial step in every recipe just so people will say, "Gosh, obviously I'm just not as good as Stephanie. One more proof of my inadequacy, I guess. Let's get pizza." (I believe she also has shares in Domino's.)

Needless to say, the turkey did thaw and I found myself awake stupidly early on Pissmas Morning, faced with a big bowl of mushroom and bacon stuffing and an even bigger bloody fowl.

"Remove the giblets and the neck," Stephanie instructed. Oh Ford. The neck was bad. It reminded me strongly of John Bobbitt and had been tucked away in a spot that no neck should ever be tucked. The giblets were worse and removing them involved a lot of manual digging. At 8am, this is not good.

"Wash the turkey, inside and out, and dry it thoroughly." Beejezus, do you know how hard this is with a turkey the size of a small child? Its wings and legs flopped all over the place every time I moved it and its goosey-looking skin was making me feel queasy. There was also the issue of the pinkish, watery blood-puddle it had left on the plate.

Once the damned thing had had its bath, been patted dry with a fluffy towel and been wrestled into a baking dish, I still had to stuff it. "Just lie back and think of England," I told it with a pat on its wing. I tried not to look as I piled in lemon wedges, garlic cloves and buckets and buckets of stuffing.

But the horror still wasn't over. Now the damned thing wanted a massage. It wanted to be rubbed all over with lemon and then plastered with butter. I opted for extra virgin olive oil, herbs and spices instead (just call me Mrs Sanders) but the effect was the same. I don't know why, but massaging poultry makes me feel grubby. It's not as though I've lit candles and some ylang ylang incense and put on a Barry White CD. I haven't poured the thing a glass of champagne and told it how attractive it looks in that roasting pan. Nevertheless, it feels Wrong.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to roast a turkey that big? Four hours. I understand that in the US, people like to deep fry turkeys. Whole. I can't even begin to imagine why anyone would deep fry a whole turkey. When I first heard about the practice, I (a) thought of Jake Blues asking for four whole fried chickens and (b) assumed it would be like KFC except with bigger drumsticks.


Apparently people get cooking pots the size of rubbish bins and propane burners that can also be used for funny-car racing and they get together with their friends and neighbours to buy the four gazillion litres of oil that is required to fully cover a turkey. And then they still have to worry about the whole thing catching fire and incinerating them or their houses. C'mon, people, it's only turkey! You can get turkey at the deli counter any day of the year! But I guess this was the country that invented deep-fried Coke. 'Nuff said. (Sorry, Jedimerc.)

In the end, my turkey wasn't bad. The memory of the trauma is still there, though, every time I open the fridge. Pissmas dinner was at my sister's, but she forced us to take the leftover turkey home. Well, the readily-identifiable bits, anyway. Every time I open the fridge, there are the wings and the browned nubs of the leg bones, pressed up against a plastic freezer bag. It's not unlike Laura Palmer, really, except that she wasn't baked with mushroom and bacon stuffing and lovingly basted with cooking juices.

Christ, what would I have been like if I'd actually had to chop the thing's head off and pluck it? Sorry, that was rhetorical. I'd be a vegetarian. In fact, Chinese greens are looking pretty good for the next week or so...

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Pissmas!

I've been thinking. (Yes, that was that grinding noise you heard last night. I hope it didn't keep you awake.) What is the point of Christmas? Acknowledging the birth of Christ? An orgy of consumerism? Spending time with the family? The contented observation of childish excitement? An excuse to buy crayfish and prawns?

No. It suddenly dawned on me this morning when Bloke and I popped into the boozer. I couldn't miss it, really. There, stacked behind Dan Murphy's, was the meaning of Christmas:

It's a bit blurry (LCD screens are difficult to see in bright sun) but you get the idea. This wasn't all they had, either. There were another two or three stacks like this. And that was just what was piled up outside. Inside, it was a veritable alcocopia.

But I had my Dickensian moment. The sight of all that beer finally made me understand that alcohol is the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, I've decided to rename it Pissmas, just to put an end the obvious confusion. I think it also goes a long way to explaining why the tradition has never caught on in the East. (Hey, I'm offending the Christians, so why not Islam as well? I'm an equal opportunity bitch.)

If you think about it, Pissmas does have a long association with alcohol.
  • Father Pissmas: Tradition demands that you leave out a little glass of brandy and a mince pie for Father Pissmas. After a few houses, he must be well and truly trolleyed. Or is that sleighed?
  • Pissmas cake: If it's good, it should be completely soaked in brandy.
  • Great Aunt Beryl/Great Uncle Les, who you only ever see at Christmas: By the end of the day, can also be expected be soaked in brandy.
  • Pissmas pudding: As with the cake, if you're doing it properly, you should soak the fruit in brandy before you make the pudding. Before serving, you should sprinkle it with yet more brandy and set it on fire.
  • Pissmas parties: If a party at work or home is to be any good, it must be a swim-through. No booze = arse party. This equation does not include eggnog ~shudder~.
  • Pre-Pissmas lunches: I had one of these on Friday with my besties. It went for eight hours and the food was really only there to soak up the booze.
  • Cranberries: Cranberry sauce is useless. You might as well put strawberry jam on your turkey and be done with it. Everyone knows that the best use for cranberries is juicing the little suckers and then making cosmopolitans.
  • Pissmas presents: Can't think what to get someone? Chocolates? No, that will make them fat. Oh, I know! A bottle. They'll love that. Ironic, really, that no-one likes the idea of getting a fat arse, yet they have no objection to getting rising damp in their collective liver.
  • Bottle shops are closed for at least part of Pissmas Day: This is a mark of respect to the alcohol. Plus, it needs a rest. It's taken a hard hit in the lead-up to Pissmas and things are only going to get worse for it on New Year's Eve.

So there you have it. The meaning of Pissmas. Let's just hope the Ghost of Pissmas Past doesn't decide to visit me tonight. I bet he stinks of stale sherry and tells dad jokes from the crackers.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

White picket fences

Q. How would you be if you threw a street party and no-one came?
A. Meh, fuck knows. You think I'm that needy? Ask my loser neighbours.

A very classy A4 sheet, surrounded by a standard Microsoft Office holly border, arrived in our letterbox on the weekend. (We live in a street with the same name as a poet, though the spelling is slightly different. So let's call our street Tennison St. I've always rather liked Tennyson. My high school's motto even came from one of his poems.) So here we go with the invite (sics included):

"You're invited!"
(I am! Really? Whacko! Someone likes me!)

"What: You are invited to the Tennison St street party for an informal get together, chat, bite to eat, and game of street cricket" (Oh, bloody hell - my neighbours use Oxford commas. I hate those!)
"Where: On Number X's driveway and front lawn
"When: 21st of December, from 6.30pm onwards
"Bring: Some drinks and nibbles to share, a chair and your festive cheer!"

"Oh, Christ", I thought. "Festive fucking cheer? I used all that up decorating the tree on Sunday!"

They did it last year and, living in fear of Christmas laying seige to our door, we went out. This year, I have successfully avoided most aspects of the festive season and had absolutely nowhere to go this evening but the couch. Hurrah for me, yeah?

Nevertheless, I was prepared. The bins went out early, as did Bloke. I came home just before the start of the "street party" and noticed that (since rain was expected - rain? pah!) they had put out a couple of lovely blue tarpaulins to protect the expected revellers, their drinks and their nibbles from the hoped-for Biblical downpour. (Edit: we did actually have rather a lot of rain and a pretty decent thunder storm, but I doubt it was enough to put anything in the reservoirs.)

Naturally, being a crabby, unneighbourly and antisocial harridan, I was determined to ignore it. But I couldn't help it. It was so ominously quiet. When I let Mr Furpants in, I poked my nose around the corner of the house. No adults, four children, standing in the street.

The people at Number X have somewhere in the vicinity of four children. I've never quite worked out exactly how many kids they do have. When we moved in, said kids were remarkably like the ducks in a shooting gallery. I'd be sanding window frames and, distracted by the screaming of ickle durls, would look up. Ickle durls on bikes and roller blades would barrel back and forth through my line of sight, turn around and barrel back again. They were always screaming. Bloke used to refer to them as The Spice Girls, since they always seemed to be scream-singing something incomprehensible and in the hope there were talent scouts living in nearby homes.

So, there seems to be an immensely amusing Tennison St street party going on without me. Or, indeed, without most of the people in Tennison St. About now, I probably should point out exactly how thick the guy at number X is.

His name is John*. For a while, about three of the guys across the road were called John, but then a couple of them moved, leaving Dumb Ass John as Only John.

I'm not sure that Only John has a profession, or even that he works. For all I know, he's Thomas Pynchon in disguise, but I think not. Why? Because I have had three conversationswith Only John and I doubt Thomas Pynchon would have talked to me at all. I'm not Ian McEwan, after all.

Conversation one:
(Soon after Bloke and I move in)
OJ: Hi, I live across the road.
Me: Oh, hi.
OJ: Notice you're renovating.
Me: Er, yeah.
OJ: Got any old scrap metal? I'm building a dog house.
Me: Er, no.
OJ: Oh, OK. Bye.

Conversation two:
OJ: Hi, I live across the road.
Me: Yeah, I remember.
OJ: Notice you're getting your floors sanded.
Me: Er, yeah.
OJ: Can I have the name of the people doing it?
Me: Er, yeah. Here's their card.
OJ: Oh, OK. Bye.

Conversation three:
OJ: Hi! I had a big swarm of bees in my carport about two weeks ago!
Me: Oh, did you now?
OJ: Yeah. And you know what?
Me: Hmm, I think I can guess. What?
OJ: They all flew out of my carport and DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY!
Me: Oh, really?
OJ: Yeah.
Me: Guess that would explain why I just had to get an apiarist in to remove the BEEHIVE FROM MY CHIMNEY, then, yeah?
OJ: Oh, yeah, probably. Bye.

What can I say? Really? Would you want to take a plate of cheese cubes and kabana and a bottle of Fruity Lexia and have a game of street cricket with this guy?

Plus, I'm a sarky harridan with no community spirit, so you wouldn't really have expected anything else of me.

*Names altered to protect ME. Yes, me. Bugger everyone else.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Example of feline lunacy #819

Right, the cat's gone mad. He's finally cracked. I was annoyed when he decided he needed to mark his territory by spraying on the washing basket a few weeks ago. I was horrified when he brought a live sparrow into the dining room last week.

Those things I could cope with. Unpleasant, but normal cat behaviour, right? Not this time. I just found him licking the soles of my leather thongs. He was licking foot sweat off leather. I'd swear his eyes had rolled back in his head. ~shudder~

Come to think of it, though, he does have a bit of a thong fetish. He's always been fond of using Bloke's rubber thongs to sharpen his claws and I've caught him having a kip on them a couple of times.

But what should I do? Take him to a kitty psychiatirst? Is this just the first step before he starts stealing the neighbours' thongs and hoarding them? Or before he turns to a life of crime to finance his thong habbit? And what if he starts mainlining?


Even Grinches make concessions

It's a week until Christmas and I've made two concessions to the season: gingerbread and the Christmas tree. Last year, the gingerbread flopped when I had a Dory moment and accidentally used cornflour instead of plain plour, and I couldn't be bothered putting up the tree. After all, you just have to take it down again, don't you?

The whole kitchen is covered in a fine film of flour and cinnamon and there are little dribbles of melted honey on the cooktop, the bench and the sink. This isn't real gingerbread, I'm afraid, but it tastes good and making it gives one that Nigella glow. See, I'm domestic, me!

Also, it's the only time I ever get out my rolling pin unless I need to muddle rum and limes for mojitos. The recipe I use is a German honey biscuit recipe that my old neighbour Trudy gave me. There isn't any ginger in it, but somehow it still tastes like gingerbread. Trudy used to make an enormous batch every Christmas and she had a big collection of cookie cutters. I'm too lazy to do lots of shapes, so I just go for hearts and minds:

Just in case you're feeling all gingerbread-enthused (or you just fancy a biscuit), here's the recipe. Sorry the measures are a bit weird - I've converted from pounds and ounces.

Trudy's honey biscuits
230g honey or golden syrup
115g white sugar
1 beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
230g plain flour plus 115g plain flour, extra
1 teaspoon bicarb soda, mixed with 3 teaspoons vinegar

Warm the honey/golden syrup and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool. Add the beaten egg and spice, then sift in the first 230g of plain flour. Stir to combine. And the bicarb soda and vinegar and stir through. Add the extra 115g flour and a little water to mix and stir to a thick dough. Let stand overnight. Roll out on a floured surface to 1.25cm thick and cut into shapes. Brush with beaten egg and bake for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees C.

It's best not to roll the dough out more than three times. If you do, it tends to make crappy biscuits. The recipe makes about four dozen hearts or stars, but I usually double it.

Putting up the Christmas tree was actually rather fun. Our tree, while made of fake piney stuff, is quite definitely as nature intended it. It is not upside-down, it is not made of purple tinsel and it wears a fairly normal collection of ornaments. I put the non-breakable decorations on the bottom and near the window sill, as Mr Furpants is rather fond of playing kitty tennis with baubles. He knocks them off and then chases them under the couch. As one would, if one were a cat.

Right. Apart from going out for a long lunch with my besties on Friday and cooking a big mofo of a turkey on Monday, Western Consumer Holiday is all sorted. Thank Ford for that.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

The plague

Ah, Adelaide. Can there really be a better place for weirdo-watching? I have two examples par excellence for your amusement.

Exhibit one: Ms Orange Peel
Yesterday, I wandered into Rundle Mall to do some shopping for Western Consumer Holiday (book vouchers, mais bien sur). On the way back, I found myself walking behind Ms Orange Peel. It was like an immense train wreck. I simply couldn't look away. Ms OP was wearing fried blonde hair with about four inches of dark roots, the skankiest high heels one has ever seen in one's life and a denim miniminimini skirt. She was a reasonable size for a mini, yet not of a reasonable age. Cellulite overtakes us all, sooner of later. It's a sad fact. But I could have forgiven her all of her other sins, had it not been for The Skirt.

In the end, there is very little I can say about this skirt apart from, "Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! The plague has spread!!!!!"

Naturally, I mean the plague of pantlesssness. Britney and all those other over-paid, over-privileged little skanks have done it again. Knickerlessness is rife.

Ms OP had either failed to undies up for the day, or she was wearing a G-string. Nothing really wrong with a G, although I find them extremely uncomfortable myself, and I can't help thinking of Number One Brother's charming turn of phrase: "Have you flossed your arse today?"

So, Ms OP had either flossed her arse or simply gone sans culottes. (There's a reason that in French "sans culottes" means "crazy". Especially when you are wearing an arse-length denim miniminimini.

Because Ms OP had one small problem. Every time she took a step, the lower half of her right arse cheek fell out of her skirt. Never the left. Only the right.

I couldn't look away. How could I? It was like The Ghan hitting that dirty great pantechnicon that was parked across the tracks outside of Darwin. Step, fine, step, maaahh! - visible arse cheek! Step, fine, step, maaahh! - visible arse cheek!

As my dear Mancunian mate said when I told him this story (and pointed out a similar specimen on the footpath ahead of us), "Is orange peel the only fruit?" Hurrah, Marc. I enjoyed your Janette Winterson reference, but was nevertheless traumatised. Holy hell - I used to like oranges!

Example two: Mr Crab
As Bloke and I walked through the train station last night, we couldn't help but notice Mr Crab. I looked at him and thought, "Oh, poor fucker. He must be brain injured."

Mr Crab was bent sideways, with his head all but in his armpit and his knapsack riding his ear. He was staggering. He had a very long, grey pony-tail. Every now and again, the head-in-armpit thing would get the better of him and would steer him directly into a wall. And he would just stand there, kicking the wall some. He didn't seem to be able to work out the right combination of moves to get away from the wall.

In fact, the poor bastard was so fucked that he looked like me trying to play Grand Theft Auto. It's embarrassing to admit, but I'm a Playstation 'tard. The last video game I was capable of playing was Donkey Kong in that little orange-and-silver Nintendo double-screen thingie. Jump barrel, forward, forward, jump barrel, up ladder, jump barrel...

Anyway, here was I thinking this poor bastard was brain injured and I was torn between trying not to look and wanting to help him onto the train, when Bloke says, "Faaaark, he's pissed". Obviously, I'm not what you'd call a nice or compassionate person. Obviously. But even I said, "Jeez, Bloke, he's brain injured isn't he? That's not nice!"

"No," Bloke said. "I often see him on the train and he's totally normal."

Well! Reader, I developed a new sense of respect for Mr Crab. I've never seen anyone that trashed who was still conscious. Even some of MY mates, and let me tell you, that's saying a lot.

So, hurrah, Adelaide! Well done to us. We have the mankiest miniminimini-skirt in the history of pantslessness AND the Most Pissed Guy In The World.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Will to live sapped? Check!

There are two words that strike fear into the all-but-empty chest cavity of the half-hearted hack: advertising feature. Gahh! Nooooo! (Whimpering noises, rocking and drooling reflex engaged.)

Oh, it's OK now. I've had a large measure of Appleton Estate for my nerves and it's all fine. Really. Sunshine, lollypops...

Recently, I did a stint on ad features for my sins (which are obviously many and varied and will one day see me sunk in a pit of sulphur, vomit and Boney M Christmas albums).

For the (happily) unitiated, ad features are those things you never read in newspapers and magazines. They are also known as ad supplements, but they differ in a way that I have yet to grasp fully from the true advertorial. Depending on where they appear, ad features are usually given to people who buy ads. Simple, yeah? The people who buy the ads often just write the words and send them in. He/she of the shattered spirit (on this occasion, me) takes said words and makes them into something grammatically correct and, hopefully, eye-catching enough for you to be arsed reading it. There is always a contact number and possibly an address at the end of an ad feature. It sounds just like an advertorial, doesn't it? Nothing of the sort, apparently. Ad features involve Editorial Independence. You'd think that EI would mean that if it were crap, it wouldn't get a run, right? Pffft. As far as I can ascertain, it actually means that if there's no room, or the picture is bollocks - or worse still, there's no picture - then it doesn't get a run. Welcome to the sad and tragic world of ad features.

I still don't understand why they need a journalist for this job. Perhaps it's to make the advertisers feel more important. Whatever the reason, it does nothing for the morale of the poor sods who have to write the stuff. I don't know how journos do this day in, day out and remain sane. One week in, I found myself dangerously close to an alcoholic coma. "But why did you agree to do this?" I hear you cry. Well, I didn't have anything else to do at the time and it kept me in gas bills. And I'm just a gal who cain't say no, pity upon me.

I think my lowest moment came when I had to write (for "write" read "retype") the words, "Are you worried about unwanted hair this summer?" No matter how low the hack goes after this, even if she ends up being a spin doctor for a petrochemical company, being forced to tell people why fairy penguins are happier covered in deisel sludge, nothing will ever be as bad as that moment.

Unwanted. Hair.

I had to think about kittens and Hugh Laurie and Haigh's peppermint truffle bars to keep that sentence from sapping all of my will to live. Harry Potter fans, you know that moment in the movie version of The Prisoner of Azkaban when the unpleasantness of Dementors flies in and starts sucking Harry and Sirius's faces off? Yup, you got it.

Never. A-fucking-gain.

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Monday, December 11, 2006


Apart from the fact that I kinda like the word "karmarama", I'd like to enter into the "pay it forward" spirit. After all, it's Western Consumer Holiday and all, and I figure the best thing I can do for some of my fellow bloggers is put a few clicks in their stockings. People have done it for me, so I'm passing on the favour and listing some of the people who make me laugh. After all, the silly season bites the big 'un and you need all the laughs you can get, right?

  • Whale Sushi is one of the funniest blogs I've ever read. I'm still laughing over Nick Cetacean's Christmas post. And his McDonald's post. Check him out - he's great.
  • Rach, of A Dying Star, never fails to make me laugh. Her anti-anti-pickle people tirade gave me a giggle today.
  • Proprietress of I don't like it, Killerrabbit, is also hilarious. I hear you on Bindi Irwin, Killer. She looks like a talking doll I used to have in the pre-Teddy Ruxpin days.
  • Then we have Twenty Major, an Irishman of filthy temper and mouth. Hugely wrong, yet immensely funny. What is it about Irishmen? Why are they so appealing?
  • Couch Culture always gets a laugh. Statler is a prize smart-arse whom I'm sure you'll enjoy, so go visit.
  • Raoul Duke will probably smack me next time I see him if I don't give him a plug as well. He, too, is highly entertaining and channels Hunter S Thompson at inopportune moments. And in the spirit of plugging one's besties, I'll give PetStarr a go as well, even though she already gets way more clicks than I do and has no need of me.

There, I feel better already. Ohhhhmmmm...


Sunday, December 10, 2006


Huh? I was asleep! Right, you're getting bitten.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Bah bloody humbug

Bloody hell. It's bloody Christmas abloodygain.

I'm not a complete Grinch. Really. There are things I like about Western Consumer Holiday, the licence to go out to lunch and not come back being chief among them. Prawns, gingerbread and Bing Crosby are high on the list, too, though preferably not served on the same plate. However, boozy afternoons, prawns and Bing aside, there are things I really hate about the season.

People turning their houses into sideshow alley
I have no argument with Christmas trees or door wreaths. They're fine and they look quite cheerful. I can even cope with little some little fairy lights on the front of your house or in your trees. It's this sort of caper that scares the bejesus out of me:


There's a guy living here in Adelaide who's been lighting up his house and yard every Christmas for years. He puts up thousands of bulbs every year and creates little sound and light shows with music and whirlygigs and crap that covers every square centimetre of his front yard. He's a wee bit eccentric, obviously, and spends all year getting ready for Christmas. His neighbours probably hate him to death, because it means their street is full of people every night in December, but they can't complain because otherwise they'll look like Grinches.

Light Guy used to be an oddity, but now Christmas lights has become a competitive sport. If it goes any further, people will be lobbying for it to replace squash in the Olympics. A visit to K-mart or Bunnings and you've got pretty much all the shite you need to turn your house into a monstrosity of light pollution and plastic. Two-foot tall plastic candy canes, icicle lights, disembodied plastic santa heads, reindeer, all-singing all-dancing life-sized santas, angels, bloody snowmen - you name it, you can get it. Giant, inflatable Santas are very much the go at the moment. You can even get one that has a little motor in-built, so that Santa's inflatable head rises up out of an inflatable chimney. If only someone thought to team it with the soundtrack from The Shining, the effect would be complete. I seem to remember that last year or the year before, a local family was horribly upset because someone stabbed their Santa and killed Christmas. (And no, it wasn't me!)

I'm sure it's all lovely for the kiddies, but we didn't have any of this nonsense when I was a little tacker. We used to live in a rolled-up newspaper on the side of the road - no bloody Christmas lights there, thank you very bloody much.

I hate shopping. The only thing I actually enjoy shopping for is books. I'm not interested in shopping for clothes, shoes, handbags, toys, tools, homewares, electronics or anything else. If I need something, I'll make a half-arsed attempt to buy it, but more than likely I'll lose the will to live after looking in two shops and will have to come home and have a stiff drink. I know it's very un-female of me, but the consumer urge just isn't there.

As you might imagine, when it comes to Christmas, I am forced to shop until I have something for everyone and I become downright depressed. Perhaps the crappy carols have something to do with it. (If there was more Bing, I'm sure Christmas would be a better place.) But it's the decorations that really do my head. We own a Christmas tree and some cat-attracting gee-gaws to hang on it, but it's not likely to go up until about a week before Christmas. In the shops, the trees and garlands and bits of other fluff go up in October, giving you that unpleasant sense of foreboding (cue the music from The Shining again). Then the fruit mince pies appear and you know you're buggered. Massed racks of tinsel and baubles and little strings of beads and glittery angels and giant pink foil Christmas trees make me want to slash my wrists.

Plus there's the consideration that no-one actually needs anything. It gives the ordeal that is Christmas shopping a sense of high farce: they don't need it, you don't want to have to look for it but there you are. I live in fear of the random homewares that will inevitably have my name on them this year. If any of my family is reading this, please, for the love of Ford, don't do it! I don't need them!

So, the equation is fairly simple. Shopping = bad. Decorations = bad. Other crazy shoppers and screaming kids = bad. Buying crap that no-one needs = bad. Even for the numerically-challenged, that's a whole lot of nasty. In the end, Christmas shopping boils down to something of an endurance test. It's not unlike trying to eat 85 hotdogs in two minutes and has the same outcome.

Weird marketing ploys
I present Exhibit A. Behold, the upside-down Christmas tree:

This one is quite modest, as the species goes. At least it's green and looks to be made of some sort of fake piney material. I saw one the other day in Hell Mall that was made from purple tinsel. "Aww, darl, won't this give the lounge a bit of class for Chrissie?" Really, what brain surgeon came up with this idea? Obviously it's a nasty, cynical marketing ploy hatched with the intention of making people believe that their perfectly serviceable normal Christmas trees are passe. Apparently, the trend started in the US and is quite popular there because it means there's plenty of room for presents underneath. If you have that many presents that they're piling up and poking into the branches, you're buying too damned much. Give gift vouchers. For books. Or better still, piglets to people in the Third World. And forgive me for being crude, but that upside down tree resembles nothing so much as a muff that's been neglected over the winter and now needs whipper-snippering. Wax alone just won't do the job on that puppy. To borrow a phrase from the Fug Girls, it just looks like someone stepped in a big pile of crazy.

Office Christmas parties
(See: eating 85 hotdogs in two minutes.) Invariably, these turn pear-shaped, especially when the booze is turned on for free. Last year's party was unusually sucessful from my point of view, because I did manage to wreak vengeance on an ad rep who had been giving me unwarranted grief all year. I poured a a pint of the Coopers' best into his lap. It looked accidental until the accomplice who bumped me gave me a high five in front of him. This was all done with a cracked rib and a headful of painkillers and dryo whoite wine. This was, however, an aberration. On the whole, office parties either turn out to be boring as batshit, or end up with something cringeworthy happening. You get a little too merry, you tell the boss or a colleague exactly where they can shove that mince pie and then you have to spend your holidays worrying about what everyone will say when you go back to work.

New Year's Eve is now way too close
In my experience, NYE is the biggest let-down of the year. You're under far too much pressure to have a good time and it usually fizzles, leaving you with that creeping feeling of failure. After all, on the funnest fun-fun night of the year, you haven't had a good time? What's the matter with you? I'd be happy to just cancel it altogether. Ideally, I settle down with a DVD, a bag of crisps and a bottle of wine and read about the arrests the next day in the paper.

But have a lovely WCH, anyway. Get into the spirit of the season and try not to kill any of your family members when you get together for ritualised over-eating.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

And in the Fosters corner, Glenn Milne!

I'm sure by now you've all seen News Ltd politics reporter Glenn "The Hurricane" Milne making a drunken twit of himself at the Walkley Awards on Thursday night. If you haven't, have a squiz. (Thanks YouTube - without you, we would have missed out on the most hilarious stoush of the year.)

Nice performance, Hurricane. After all, why would you want to get trashed and have a go at someone in front of 20 or 30 people when you could make a fool of yourself in front of all of your peers in one fell swoop? And while being filmed for national television? Humiliation does seem to be the new black. To tell the truth, though, I would have had more respect for him if he hadn't said that it was caused by mixing migraine pills and alcohol. Excuses, excuses, old sport. You made a dill of yourself and now you're just going to have to wear it.

Stupid as Milne was to run on stage like a rogue elephant on cranky pills, I can't really find it in my heart to blame him for wanting to have a go. I like Crikey, but Mayne is a bit of a wanker. He's not quite a national disgrace, but he is a bit of a prat.

From the performance point of view, The Hurricane got points for delivering such a decent duck-shove that it knocked Mayne off the stage. After all, Mayne's a pretty tall guy. He also got points for nearly breaking free from the sound man who was hauling him away and having another go. On the other hand, he lost for the beet-red face (booze blossoms are never a good look) and the half tucked-in shirt. I thought for a moment he'd gone the whole hog and his fly was undone, but no. He got yet more points for having to be removed by security. In the opposite corner, Mayne definitely lost points by running away when Milne broke free to try to have another swipe at him, but he won a few back for the "sponsored by Fosters" quip at the end. Nice work, there tiger.

But on the whole, the winner was the Walkleys audience. They'll be able to say for years to come, "Oh, I was there the night Glenn Milne got pissed and let Stephen Mayne have it!" Ah, memories. The Australian public also won, because now they have yet another reason to say, "Meh, journos! They're just a mob of piss-heads who like starting fights."

So thanks, Hurricane. You've given me one more reason to say, "morgue attendant" next time someone asks me what I do for a crust.

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