Thursday, November 22, 2007

Here, have my goat

I really don't have much use for it.

I know it's been a little quiet chez hack for a while, but don't worry. I'm still pissed off at the world. So, without further ado and certainly without further adont, here are some of the things that are annoying me this week:

Hyperactive flacks
PR is a thankless job. I've done it and I know, OK? But I also know that no-one ever got a story in any paper by being relentlessly obnoxious. Your story gets in if it's a good story or you've got a good picture or it's a slow news day and the journo is desperate. Hassling someone about when your story is going to get a run is not a good idea. I get up to 200 emails a day. Believe me, if you piss me off with your whiny-ass antics, I will block your email address and you will go straight to spam for the rest of your natural life. Or for the life of your email address, anyway.

Christmas decorations
I'm torn between thinking, "Aww, fake snowflakes! Perty!" and "The blinking LEDs in that faux bloody pine hall-decking twaddle look like the eyes of malignant gnomes!" But that could just be the time of day that I see them. The faux pine with the little flashy things is in the train station and I see it about 8am when I'm really not ready to deal with the world. I have no real problem with mornings per se. I just wish they started later in the day.

People who can't make their tenses agree
I'm not sure what happened to the education system between the time I got grammared up and when Gen Y was taught English, but it can't have been anything good. I imagine it was something like Vanilla Ice trying to rap. Tip number one: when you start a sentence, it should all be in the same tense. For example, "Mary said she wanted to decapitate Tony Abbott with a blunt spoon", not "Mary said she wants to decapitate Tony Abbott with a blunt spoon". I know she probably still wants to do it now and will continue to want to do it tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, but grammar doesn't make that much of a commitment. Grammar lets you change your mind. At the time she said it, she wanted to do it. That's enough.

I feel the same way about people who have no idea where to put apostrophes, people who think 'alternate' and 'alternative' are interchangeable and people who think that 'enormity' is interchangeable with 'hugeness'. And do not even get me started on people who think that "audience", "team", "group", "staff" and "couple" are plural. It's "the team is", not "the team are", m'kay?

That said, I think I am reasonably lenient with your average Joe. I don't bail up green grocers and berate them for their "tomatoe's". Nor do I tell the guy in the train station that it's not "raison toast" or that a "bacons" sandwich isn't quite the go. This is because secretly, I think they are both rather gorgeous. But if you write for a living, I expect you to know these things and I reserve the right to be put off by your mistakes or to proof-read you into oblivion. That is, of course, if death by red pen is possible.

Heather Mills-McCartney
There aren't too many new jokes left where this bird is concerned. I read a hilarious Crikey story about her a few weeks ago that used pretty much all of them - you know, don't have a leg to stand on, etc., etc. But then she had to go and suggest we all have rat-milk lattes and kitty-milk custards. And that pissed me off all over again, because you know and I know that that's just dirty.

But I think there might be one joke that hasn't yet been used for the evil witch, so I'm going for it like Luke Skywalker about to blow up the Death Star. For someone so darned unpopular, she really does seem to be getting around to a lot of talk shows and speaking engagements. In fact, I'd venture to say that she's been busier than a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest. Ba-dum-tish. Thankyouveramuch.

Discuss: Heather Milles is more toxic than Yoko Ono. (Big call, I know.)

James Reyne
It's almost sacrilegious of me to put the J-man and the unholy queen bitch together, isn't it? I used to love James Reyne. I thought the sun shone out from under his salt-bleached mullet. I even interviewed him when I was a green hack because he was one of my '80s heroes and I could. And he was a twat, which rather ruined my crush. But nevertheless, I saw him live on Saturday night for the second time. And he was... still a twat. For a die-hard Crawl fan, this is a terrible admission. Come on - I've got Crawl albums on vinyl, people! He was double-billing with Mark Seymour of Hunters and Collectors fame. And Mr Seymour was incredible. As usual. I've seen him three times now and he's never disappointed me. He's got the energy, he's got the rage (does that equal angergy?) and a cracking stage presence to boot. Mr Seymour can leave his boots under my bed any old time he likes. (Unless Clive Owen has left his there first, of course. There's a pecking order in my crumpet list.)

James Reyne, on the other hand, was bored dumb. He looked like he hated the audience, hated the old Crawl songs and hated his life. But for Ford's sake - he was only drinking water! That would have been enough to push me over the edge too. He's leaning in a bit of a country direction these days and obviously he can't understand why everyone else is stuck in the past. Oh, I dunno - maybe because country is crap? His backing band was rubbish, y'all. He was glued to the spot and he just didn't even try to sing louder than the fans who drowned him out with "Reckless" and "Erroll". Le sigh. What a disapointment. His biceps are still looking pretty damned good, though.

Girly drinks
What is it with bloody ready-mix drinks? I'm sure there'd be a great market for ready-to-drink mixers that weren't 80 per cent sugar. Vodka and soda with fresh lime? Delightful. Gin and tonic? Not my cup of plonk because I don't care for gin or tonic, but plenty of other people like it. A nice tart/tarty cosmopolitan? Dandy. Yes, I realise that most of these little alcopops (aka "bitch-piss", aka "poofter drinks" if you're in Port Augusta) are actually designed for 13-year-olds. I know that. Booze manufacturers have to make their money at Schoolies somehow, right? But sometimes when you go somewhere, the wine is all cardonnay and the only vaguely drinkable thing on offer is ready-mix. For example, last night I dragged poor old Hungry Hungry Hypocrite off to see some hot lesbian circus girls as part of Feast. What was the ready-mix vodka drink? Allegedly, it was pomegranate and citrus. Unless "pomegranate" and "citrus" are both code for "sugar", I'm really not convinced.

This election campaign
I cannot tell you how bored with this campaign I am. Thank Ford it will all be over this time two days from now. First we had the Clayton's election campaign that didn't even get you mildy tipsy and then we had the real election campaign that was even less alcoholic because there wasn't even the suspense of wondering when the election would be called. If I didn't hate John Howard and the Liberal Party to death, I wouldn't consider voting for Kevin. Let's face it, the man's boring as batshit! If only Julia Gillard had been elected party leader. Sure, her voice makes Missy Higgins sound like a Swiss finishing school girl, but who cares? She's not vanilla-flavoured Tin-Tin.

My one great consolation is that I don't have to work on election night. Last year's state election was one of the least pleasant days of my life. Let's see:

  • started off hung over;
  • sustained third-degree burns to the roof of my mouth from a snatched pie at lunchtime;
  • pissed off the chief of staff by my mere existence;
  • wrote stories in my car on paper because I didn't have a laptop;
  • phoned said stories in to people who had no idea of how to punctuate a sentence;
  • forced to use pub toilets all day;
  • put my money on the wrong horse in what was a rather close count;
  • because of that managed to lose the winning candidate with half an hour to go before deadline; and
  • nearly had a nervous breakdown;
  • ended up working a 14-hour day for free.
So yay for last year's election! But will I be happily treating Election 07 as the Hack Grand Final and be watching it from the comfort of my couch (with access to my own toilet, my own fridge and my own pantry) on Saturday night? Pffft - does the Pope shit in the woods?

There's no two ways about it: porn moustaches just shit me. You are heeeeere to cleeeeeen ze pooooool? What? I don't have a sodding pool! Bugger off! Either grow an eight-layered, waxed muttonchop extravaganza, lose your teeth and learn to girn or just do not bother me. You're a mob of lightweights, all of you Movember tragics. How the hell did Movember become fashionable? And once people started raising money, it just turned into the bloody 40-Hour-Famine-Thon-Day. Naff off and jam some barley sugar up your nostrils. It will complement your stupid facial hair. You mark my words - next it's going to be Old Man Eyebrow March and then who'll be laughing, hmm?

Parking stations
Adelaide used to be the City of Churches. Then it was the City of Serial Killers. Now, since we haven't had a gruesome serial killer on the rampage since Snowtown, it's become the City of Parking Stations, which is far less entertaining. Boo, hiss. I decided to bring the car to work a couple of weeks back because I was going to the theatre in the evening and didn't want to train it home at 11 o'clock. So I parked in one station near me with an "early bird" all day rate. My $13 proved to be well spent, as the station was comedy gold, Old Gen Trek style. Every level was named for a planet and the lift had this clunky retro spaceship voice: "You are now arriving on Saturn", or "You are now arriving on Mars". For some reason, nobody wanted to park on level eight: "You are now arriving on Uranus" ~snort~ (Of course, the station has been around since before Pluto was declared to be a dwarf planet and therefore Not Worthy.)

But the real imposition came when I moved to another parking station. Station Star Trek closed early, so I had to shift to one on the other side of the city mile. Where it cost me $20 for three and a half hours. Bloody outrageous - those are Shitney prices. For once in my life it would have been cheaper to have gone home by cab.

Melbourne Cup Day
I know this was a few weeks ago, but it's still ticking me off. I don't understand Cup Day. I went to a Cup Day lunch a few years ago at the invitation of the lovely dad of a lovely pal, but I have to say I still don't get it. I bought a $200 frock for the occasion, had scrawny old rich tarts looking me up and down and comparing their kit with mine, lost my money at the TAB and ended up absolutely rotten drunk. While the rotten drunk part was just dandy, I don't get the rest. Gambling: no interest. Frocks: no interest. Old scrawny tarts: saw some in the Traumatiser this year and was truly repulsed by their anoerexic legs, painted toenails and bigger-than-Texas hats ~shudder~ I love a boozy lunch, but Ladies Who Lunch make me want to do feed them into a mulcher, Fargo-style. And I hate the Cohen Brothers.

The thing that really annoys me about Cup Day is that people who don't give a scrap of earwax for horses or horse racing the rest of the year feel that they absolutely must get frocked up and go out to lunch, darling. The hypocrisy just kills me. I have no problem with race-horse owners enjoying the day, or people who go to the races regularly - my great granddad was a trainer and my granddad was a bookie, for heaven's sake. But people like that are few and far betwee these days. Melbourne Cup is just another excuse to get sozzled and pass out behind the portaloos Kath and Kim-style and you know, I just can't see the point. Why not get messy at your favourite pub without having to buy a frock-shoes-hat package that cost the equivalent of a week's support for a dumped Liberal Minister? For just $3000, you can keep Christopher Pyne or Malcolm Turnbull for a week in the style to which they've become accustomed. But really - why would you when you could just buy a mulcher instead?


Saturday, November 17, 2007

365 peas on the floor, 365 peas...

Have you ever wondered what one pea for each day of the year might look like, spread over the floor?

We-e-ell, wonder no more.

It's funny how the universe conspires against you some days, isn't it? I thought, "Hmm, greens are good. I'll have peas for dinner!" So I shoved some in the microwave and gave them a nuking that BHP Billiton would have been proud of. Mr Microwave went "bing!" so I fished them out.

And burnt my finger on pea steam.

And dropped them.

This is what, in my family, is usually known as peaing on the floor. Except it's usually only a few peas, not a peavalanche.

Admittedly, the picture doesn't show the full peay disaster, because they rolled all over the sodding kitchen. And yes, I did manage to put a size eight boot through some of them.

By the time I'd picked them all up (I counted them, out of sheer perversity), chocolate looked like a much better dinner option. If I'd dropped the chocolate, I could just have said, "Three second rule!" and eaten it anyway.

Harrumph. Let that be a lesson to all of you - peas are evil and chocolate is good.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confessions of an opera virgin

I went to the opera for the first time on Saturday night. The Barber of Seville was on and when I saw the billboard, I thought, "Oh, I've always wanted to see that!" It was only after the tickets arrived that I realised it was actually Sweeney Todd that I'd always wanted to see. Demon barber, not cheery, sneaky barber. There is a difference.

But there are a few things about the opera that you just don't expect. I've never even sat through one on TV, largely because a soprano hitting the high notes makes me fear my spectacles will shatter. So for other opera virgins, here's a bit of a run-down of what to expect, should you ever find opera tickets in the street.

You can't take a bottle in
I think this is rather uncivilised. After all, had I wished, I could have taken beer into last night's Crowded House concert, but there was no taking even a little glass of champagne to the opera. I don't want beer in a plastic cup, but a nice little glass of wine would have been lovely. Instead, I had to content myself with a large serving of whine, which is no substitute at all.

There's lots and lots and lots of repetition
For example, the words, "I need a martini" might flash up on the surtitle board above the stage. (Forgot your specs? Forget it!) The people on the stage, though, will keep singing for five minutes. I imagine it turns into something like "Row, row, row your boat". "I need a... a... mar-ar-ar-ar-teeeen-neeh, a martini, a martini, a martini (with an olive, olive, olive, olive, olive). Martini! Martini! She wants a marteeeeeeni! She wants a marteeeeeni? Yes, a marteeeeeeni! Olive, olive, olive, olive, olive... a maaaar-teeeee-eeh-eeeh-eeeh-eeeeeeeeeeeeh-neeeee..." etc. But since I don't speak Italian, they could just as easily be saying, "Weather's been a bit shit, hasn't it? And how about the cricket, eh?" Who knows?

Opera time is different
It's a little like Indian time. Things will happen in their own good time and there's no use forcing them. In The Barber, Figaro suddenly realises someone is coming and he and the two loves, Rosina and the Count, are about to get sprung. So what do they do? They spend the next five minutes singing 12 rounds of, "Someone is coming, we must be very, very quiet. Very quiet! Who could it be?" etc. (See above re repetition.)

If you face away from someone, they won't be able to hear you
Obviously, there's not a lot of privacy on an opera stage, especially when you have to sing quite loudly. But if you turn your back on someone, hey presto, they won't be able to hear you. Quite a useful skill, really. If only it worked for snoring.

Men still wear dinner suits to the opera
Who knew? I think it's rather lovely, though. But a note to the chap sitting next to me, when Figaro finishes the solo (even if you don't know opera, you know this one - "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro", etc.) and the audience rises to their feet to appluad, it can rather spoil the effect if everyone for six or eight rows around hears you say, "Sheeeeee-yiit! What a voice!" Sigh.

Opera singers need to get over themselves
Despite the fact that Rosina looked something like an anaemic bung fritz (that's a Devon with an orange skin that's been given a little waist by bits of string, Eastern-Statesers) and having scant actual singing ability, she still took a number of bows. Her hands were clasped over her heart as though she were curtsying to the Royal Box (though why the Queen's map of Tassie requires all that special attention is beyond me) and a rain of red roses was about to fall at her feet.

Oh, and opera girls don't look like skinny little Phantom of the Opera heroines. They've got big lungs (whether they can stay in tune or not) and seem to tend towards rotundity.

So, do I like opera? Well, yes, but I couldn't eat a whole one.

Oh, by the way - the four-legged spider has vanished. Has he gone to the pub for a pint (though that was six days ago now) or did he finally drop dead from choosing a stupid place to set up camp? The choice is yours.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Of spam, maimed spiders and odd socks

Yes, I'm still alive. Sorry for the silence, for the four of you who noticed. New job brain-drain, bloggers' block, etc. Now Bloke has cleared out for the Dark Continent again, leaving me here with only Mr Furpants for company. Le sigh.

For some reason, spam is really starting to sap my will to live. My new gig has put me on some mean mailing lists. Combined with a spam filter set so low that you could catch your toe on it and trip, I'm getting 1000 emails a week. I don't think I'm a prude, but being asked 15 times a day whether I'd like a bigger cock is starting to depress me. I don't want a copy watch, you must be stupid if you think I believe I've won 3 million euros and I have enough software/drugs/friends. Leave me the fuck alone.

Then there's the little four-legged spider clinging to the bedroom wall by Bloke's bedside table. He's been there for three weeks now. I poke him on a Saturday morning when I'm stripping the bed to see if he's still alive and he waves some of his remaining legs at me. Somehow, I can't bring myself to kill him, even to put him out of his misery. He's not hurting anyone and who knows what thoughts are running through his spidery little mind? Something to the effect of, "I'm only half the spider I used to be," I imagine. Or, "Fuck, where did you think I'd have gone? Down the boozer to get a pint and some crisps? I'm a four-legged spider, for Chrissake. A moth tried to eat me the other day. A moth. Oh God, the humiliation." And yes, I'm aware that 'he' is probably a 'she'. But my eyes just aren't good enough to turn him upside down and find out one way or another. Plus, I don't really care. It's a spider, man. I'm sure gender issues don't really matter to it.

Odd socks are worrying me more than usual at the moment. At one stage, there were four mismatched socks hanging around the place like spare pricks. And, to mix metaphors, it was a bit like the abusive drunk woman at the party: I kept waiting for her partner to show up to remove her. But how long should I wait? Should I just keep that odd sock for a couple of washes and then give up, as the Democrats must surely have given up on this election? And where the hell have those lost socks gone? Has the tumble drier turned carnivorous? Or is it a tardis, whisking them off to battle Daleks and Cybermen?

The cream cheese in the fridge is also highly problematic. I opened a tub of that ultra-low fat Philly gear a good three months ago, but it refuses to go mouldy. I don't want to eat the stuff - it's a good six weeks past its use-by date - but now it's become a test of wills. Will the cheese give up and go mouldy and give me the pleasure of watching a blue-green velvet spread over its surface or will I get bored and throw it out? Not sure yet, but it does make me wonder exactly what is in that no fat stuff. Whatever it is, it bears precious little resemblance to actual cheese.

Three bean mix is another thing that's been bugging me. Well, the lack of three bean mix, really. Sometime last year, three bean mix suddenly started turning into four bean mix. Chick peas began infesting perfectly tasty cans of beans. Ever tried picking out all the chickpeas from a can of beans before you put said beans in a pot of minestrone? It's a thankless task, I can tell you. One by one, the brands fell to the lure of the chick pea until there were no humble suburban three bean mixes left. I was desolate. I'd stand in the canned veg aisle at Coles, listlessly picking through the cans in the hope that there was a hidden stash. Every now and again, a few cheap-arse home brand three bean mixes do turn up, but then they disappear again. If I wanted chickpeas, I'd buy the sodding things. After all, I imagine they might make rather good slingshot pellets. And that yappy little dog over the back has been pissing me off...

Oh, and I've got another charming head cold. I'm beginning to wonder whether I have even two white blood cells to rub together. Six, six, six, six, any advance on six colds for the year? Going once? Going twice! Going three times - and sold to the lady with the false pelican fascinator!