Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pleasing Yasmina Part 5

Yasmina scurried towards the toilets in a strange, knees-together waddle which carried her quicker than Laura could run. Laura pushed open the door and squeaked with surprise. Spreading down the front of Yasmina’s hundred-dollar surf-label jeans was a dark, damp patch the shape of a heart. The hot smell of accidental urine, fresh and sharp like a grater, cut through the other dull, chemical fragrances of the toilets. The navy-blue blotch crept obscenely over the pre-worn, pre-torn, broken in, faded out colours.
It'll probably be the next big thing, Laura found herself thinking.
‘Oh my god oh my god oh my god yuuuuck!’ Yasmina hissed. ‘Laura! What am I gonna do?’
‘What …? What happened?’ asked Laura quietly. The big, wet wee patch on her friend’s jeans was making the hairs on her neck stand up.
‘That stupid sumo guy was making me laugh too much and when I landed on you really hard it just happened.’ She squirmed and plucked at her waistband. ‘Oh, it’s so disgusting! I’m so embarrassed!’
‘Um, do you have any other pants?’
No.’ Yasmina glumly tried to pull the wet denim away from her skin.
‘Do you want me to go get one of the teachers?’
‘No!’ Yasmina’s face filled with shock, and then calmed. ‘Hey … I can wear your pants!’ she beamed.
‘What?’ Laura touched the tight thighs of her Kmart yellow-labels.
‘Let me wear yours! They'll fit me easy!’
‘But …’
Come on,’ she keened. ‘Your t-shirt’s heaps long. No one will be able to see anything, it looks like a dress anyway!’
‘No!’
‘Come on Laura, You’re not even getting a phone! It’s the least you could do as my friend.’
Laura bit her lip and rolled her bracelets up and down.
‘I’d do the same for you!’
Laura looked at Yasmina’s caramel coloured mid-riff and shook her head.
Yasmina swore and it echoed like an angry ghost around the basins and cubicles. ‘Some friend you turned out to be. You won’t lend me your clothes, you’re not getting a phone and now you’re just leaving me like this!’ She turned away dramatically. 'I don't know how we're even going to stay friends when term starts.'
‘I am getting a phone!’ trembled Laura. ‘I promise I will!’
Yasmina whipped her head back to face Laura, her hair swirling glamorously across her face. ‘All right, but you owe me. You have to think of something or I won’t let you be in the phone club, even if you do get one.’
Laura gasped and Yasmina peered into the mirror, scowling at her stain and shifting from foot to foot.
‘I know­,’ chirped Laura excitedly. ‘I’ll go and say that you tore your pants really badly and you need some more. They’ll get you some from lost property or something.’
Yasmina sneered. ‘Mmm ... all right. But don’t get me anything gross.’
‘Okay!’ Laura hurried out of the toilet.
‘And get me a couple of pairs so I can choose!’ called Yasmina after her.
‘Okay!’

Terry rolled his eyes when Laura told him about Yasmina ripping her jeans.
‘Yes, well. I'm not surprised with pants that tight. Come on.’ He marched off to the vacation care centre with Laura in tow.
The lost-property box had the same lonely mustiness as Laura’s grandpa’s cupboards. Terry took out a pair of pants and handed them to Laura. A light smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. They were faded yellow tracksuit bottoms, the same colour as Laura’s first friendship bracelet.
‘These should be about the right size if she does up the drawstring. And hurry up, please. I want both of you back to the gym in five minutes.’
Laura paused. Yasmina would kill her if she brought back custard yellow trackies. Then she imagined Yasmina walking around in her own Kmart yellow labels, bragging about how cool she looked in such baggy jeans. She tucked the pants under her arm.
‘Thank you.’

Yasmina was not impressed.
‘Are these seriously the only ones there?’ She jammed an indignant hand on her hip. She still smelled strongly of salty wee.
Laura nodded quickly. ‘Terry said there weren’t any others.’
Yasmina snatched the pants and flounced into one of the cubicles. The sound of metres of toilet paper being un-rolled was accompanied by moans of ‘So disgusting …’
Yasmina flung the door open. Laura stifled a smile. The pants were too loose to be cool and too short to be pants. She looked as though she were wearing an enormous, used teabag. She held the jeans at arm’s length in a tight little ball.
‘What are you laughing about?’ she growled.
‘Nothing! They look fine.’
‘Yeah right, Laura. Thanks a lot. See if I ever waste any phone credit on you.’
‘Oh, but Yasmina, I can still …’
Yasmina marched out of the toilets. ‘Whatever. I look like a retard.’
Laura tripped along sadly behind her, wondering how she could get Yasmina better pants and herself a mobile phone. She could still get Yasmina’s number and call her from her home phone, that would …
‘Yasmina! What happened to your phone?’
Yasmina looked down at the ball of denim in her hand and swore again. She unrolled her pants on the sunny ground and reached delicately inside the damp pocket. She pulled out a shard of pink plastic, then another. Then came the rubbery key pad. Then the metal body and the naked circuit boards, clinging to each other by thin, colourful wires.
‘Oh my god,’ whispered Yasmina.
Laura could only stare, open-mouthed at Yasmina cradling the pieces of her new phone. Suddenly Yasmina was up and screeching at her.
‘This is all your fault! You pulled me down! You made me land on you! You made it break in my pocket! You owe me a new phone!’
Laura looked at Yasmina’s red face and her teabag pants. With her skinny legs and her baggy trousers and her broken phone, she was just like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Laura tried to cover her smile with her hand.
Don't laugh at me!’ hissed Yasmina.
‘You’re just a baby, Yasmina. You wet your pants and you broke your new toy and now you’re crying about it.’
Yasmina’s howls followed Laura all the way back to the gym.

THE END

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pleasing Yasmina Part 4

Laura’s face burned hot as she scuttled after Yasmina. The thin, blonde ballet-dancer was already giggling at Simon and asking him questions as he helped her into a sumo suit.
‘Is this hard? Is it fun?’
‘I sure have a good time!’ he recited. ‘I just have to make sure everyone else doesn’t have too much of a good time, if you know what I mean.’
Yasmina laughed as though they were sharing a sophisticated joke. Laura looked at the floor.
‘My friend Laura thinks you look like Matt from Neighbours!’
Laura yipped with surprise. ‘Yasmina! I do not!’
Simon held out the suit. ‘Okay, Laura. Left leg first, keep your toes pointed.’
She raised her foot and tried to put it in to the leg hole, but Simon stopped her. ‘Try the other left.’
She realised that she had instinctively gone to put her right leg in. A loud giggle leap-frogged her tongue to cover her embarrassment while Yasmina cackled beside her. ‘Don’t you know left and right?’
Laura tried to stop laughing her stupid isn't-being-silly-fun laugh, but it kept vomiting out. Everything was suddenly so ridiculous that the laughter was being sucked from her: Yasmina wobbling in the other sumo suit, Simon tickling her chin as he fastened the helmet, Terry telling them sternly to calm down, everything was making her insides convulse and shudder.
‘Hey Yasmina!’ called the girl who had tried to touch her phone. ‘You’re like a sumo Barbie doll!’
Yasmina loved every microsecond. She danced around tossing her hair, bumping Laura and saying loudly, ‘So this is what it’s like to be fat!’
Simon guided them onto the mat and Laura kept ha-ha-haing her protective laugh - the same disgusting, open-mouthed gulping noise that sounded just like her mum on a Saturday night. The boys who had crushes on Yasmina and the little girls who looked up to her began chanting her name and more hysterical giggles gushed from Laura’s stomach.
‘Yasmeeena! Yasmeeena! Yasmeeena!’
‘Hey Laura!’ called out one of the boys. ‘Where’s your suit?’
Laura stopped laughing.
‘Oi!’ yelled Terry. ‘That’s enough of that, whoever that was.’
Simon blew the whistle and suddenly Yasmina was bounding across the ring, all flying blonde hair and rolls of skin-coloured foam. She crashed into Laura, making her stumble backwards, twisting and flailing to keep her balance. The gym echoed with laughter and the chant of Yasmina’s fan club. Simon blew his whistle and guided Laura back to the mat.
‘You okay?’
Laura gulped and nodded and he patted her on the helmet. ‘Atta girl!’

Yasmina guffawed louder than ever as she rubbed her fat sumo stomach for the crowd.
Once again, they were stood on either side of the ring and again Simon blew the whistle. Again
Laura stayed rooted to the spot and again Yasmina toppled her over backwards. She landed on her bottom with a jarring thud and had to hold her breath to stop her bottle from tipping over while Yasmina sprawled on top of her, gibbering with laughter.
Simon blew his whistle and lifted Yasmina away. Yasmina tried to perform a bowing dance for her audience, but tripped on the hem of the suit and fell across the mat, howling with laughter.
Simon shook his head as he pulled Laura to her feet. ‘You’ve got to push back, mate. Otherwise what’s the point?’
He left Laura standing there and tried to pull Yasmina up, but she was beyond standing. The more she laughed, the more helpless she became as she rolled around, cheeks flushed and glossy with tears. Laura almost didn’t recognise her as she flailed about, howling with laughter every time Simon tried to pull her up by her floppy arms. Eventually Simon knelt down and Laura heard him giving the ‘you’re-wasting-other-people’s-time’ talk before hauling her to her feet.
The whistle blew and this time Laura leant into Yasmina’s charge. She wrapped her arms around Yasmina’s shoulders and clenched her jaw against Yasmina’s screams. Each time she pushed against her, Yasmina would whoop louder and harder. They twirled around the mat, shaking each other in a violent waltz, Laura grunting and Yasmina wailing hysterically.
Suddenly they tripped, and Laura fell flat on her back. The wind coughed from her lungs as Yasmina landed on top of her with a loud, mirthful yelp. Laura pulled for air, but none came. All she could do was close her eyes tight to stop the hot tears from squeezing down her cheeks. The cheering vibrated around the gym and she felt Yasmina suddenly fall silent and leap away. Simon helped her to sit up.
‘You okay mate?’
‘Uh-huh,’ she wheezed, concentrating on getting her tear-bottle up straight.
‘Got a bit winded eh?’ he was saying. ‘It’ll be okay. Just relax, take big slow breaths and I’ll unzip you.’
Laura sniffed a wet sniff into the thick sleeve of the suit. Yasmina was already out of her costume and scurrying to the back of the audience again. Laura trudged after her, but Yasmina wasn’t sitting down. She was hugging her jumper and sidling towards the gym door, grimacing and beckoning furiously for to Laura to follow. Laura groaned and looked at her inviting chair. Yasmina stamped her foot.
‘Laura!’ she snarled.
Laura flinched and hurried outside.


To be continued ...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pleasing Yasmina Part 3

The school gym was just big enough to fit a small basketball court. The line-markings on the grimy parquet floor were so old and peeled that you couldn't tell if they were for basketball, volleyball or some ancient sport that involved a lot of confetti. Sagging banners hung between faded colour photos of soccer players with tight shorts and puffy haircuts that reminded Laura of photos of her dad.
The young man with the whistle stood in the middle of the gym on a big black mat with a large red circle sewn into it. He waited for the door to slam shut and then blew his whistle. It echoed loud and shrill around the gym. Yasmina screwed up her face and clamped her hands over her ears, mewing a faint ‘Oww.’
‘Good morning everyone! My name’s Simon!’ He paused and waited for the kids who still droned ‘Good mo-rning So-And-So’ whenever an adult introduced themselves.
‘Okay — now, the first thing I need everyone to do is: choose a partner.’
Kids dived under and over each other to grab their best friends. Groups of three suddenly took on the hunted expressions of hungry people drawing straws on a lifeboat.
‘Okay! Has everyone got someone?’ He looked at Terry, who gave him a nod. ‘Pretty much. Great! Now what I need you all to do now is: take your shoes and socks off!’ He watched the throng of kids remembering how to untie laces and throwing their shoes in a pile by the wall.
‘I think he’s cute,’ said Yasmina thoughtfully as she tucked her ballet footlets into her sneakers. Laura’s heart tried to hide in her guts. Suddenly she couldn’t look at Sumo Simon any more.
‘He looks like Matt from Neightbours, don’t you think?’
Laura made herself look. The man was only a couple of years younger than her own mother. Laura knew her mum wasn’t very old when it came to mums, but Sumo Simon he was still an adult with hairy arms and a deep voice and Yasmina was giggling like she did when the skater boys did tricks and offered her cigarettes outside Westfield.
Laura pushed out a giggle for her. ‘Yeah, he does!’
Suddenly Yasmina grabbed Laura's arm. ‘I want to do it,’ she declared. ‘Oh, we are so doing it! Let’s wrestle each other!’
‘No!’ Laura shook her head violently and laughed her puke-prevention laugh. ‘No, it’s dumb! It’ll be so embarrassing!’
‘Nah, it’ll be heaps fun!’ Yasmina flicked her long blonde hair with both hands. ‘You can meet your new boyfriend!’
‘Shut up!’
Laura tried to swallow a laugh, but all she got was a dry tonsil. She watched two boys putting on the sumo suits. The suits were disgustingly real; skin-coloured foam shaped into wide, flabby rolls of fat. Each had a colourful g-string, big brown nipples and a black, hairy belly button. Laura sucked in her stomach and pulled her long t-shirt down.
Simon led the first two contestants to the centre of the ring and stood between them, brandishing his whistle. The two boys were laughing like ticklish chipmunks and squeezing their foam boobs at the audience.
‘Righty-o boys! Are you ready?’
‘Yes!’ they cried in unison. Simon blew the whistle. The two bales of fat waddled into the centre and grabbed each other in a bear hug. The crowd went berserk as the noise in the gym tripled. Yasmina crowed with shrill laughter. It wasn’t her real laugh — the one that sounded like an asthmatic seal — but the one that she used for the year seven boys who mucked around in PE.
Laura hated how everyone chanted for the most popular kid. No one ever went for the shy one with no friends. She slumped down in her chair. She would sulk her way out of this if she had to.
The bout ended and Simon called out the score in a bad American accent: ‘Fooooourr to werrn!’

He sent the pair to sit down while the two biggest boys stepped up grinning and punching each other in the arm. Soon they were suited up and charging across the mat. One caught the other in the chest so hard that he gave an involuntary grunt and hit the gym floor with a deep thump. Laura’s toes clenched. The suits weren’t very thick at all. If she fell over in them it would really hurt.
Laura hated falling over. She hated her out-of-control flailing that achieved nothing. She hated the jarring shock that pounded through her arms when she tried to catch herself. But more than anything, she hated how the bottle she carried her tears in would get knocked over, and how hard she had to work to stop too many coming out.
More pairs went through and each time it was the same. The wrestlers bumping and rolling around the ring. Simon blowing his whistle. Everyone vying for the next shot.

In the middle of it all, Yasmina’s phone chirped and vibrated in her pocket. She pulled it out like a gunslinger: quick-draw, eyes gleaming.
‘Oh great,’ she groanedand casually flashed the phone to a group of goggled-eyed girls. ‘My first text ever and it’s from my mum.’
One of the girls leant over, reaching out to see the phone, but Yasmina ignored her and slipped the phone back into her pocket like a well-practised magician.
Laura couldn’t take her eyes off the wrestlers. She could see them gritting their teeth and holding their brows tight to stop anything spilling from their own bottles. At least she wasn’t the only one.
‘How about some more girls?’ called out Simon as he helped a pair of boys from the suits. He was looking straight at Laura and Yasmina. Laura shrank into her chair and shook her head, but Yasmina was already on her feet, flicking her hair with one hand and grabbing Laura’s wrist with the other.
‘No,’ hissed Laura. ‘I don’t want to.’
Yasmina groaned loudly. ‘Come on, Law-ra. If you’re not getting a phone, you could at least try and prove your friendship.’
‘Yes, come on Laura!’ called out Terry, who had only heard the first part of what Yasmina had said. ‘Go and have a shot for a change! It’s fun!’
Laura was still staring at Yasmina in shock. ‘But I am getting a …’
Yasmina raised an eyebrow. ‘Yeah, right,’ she hissed. The gym began to fall quiet. Yasmina pushed the phone down into her pocket and skipped out to the mat, swinging her hair. ‘Come on, Laura! I'll take you on!’


To be continued ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pleasing Yasmina Part 2

‘So isn’t my phone the coolest!’ trilled Yasmina as Laura’s mum's car roared away from the school gate.
‘Oh, totally.’Laura nodded obediently.
‘And wook!’ Yasmina put on her simpering "cute" voice. ‘He’s even got a wittle smiwey face on the screen! I’m going to call him Bwadley!’
‘Oh, it’s so wicked.’ Laura agreed breathlessly, reaching out to touch the gleaming new phone.
Yasmina whipped it away and began tucking it into the tight pocket of her expensive jeans. ‘Is Bwadley's wittle swiley face peeping out?’
‘Yeah! It looks really cool!’ Laura nodded.
‘Can you make sure he can see out pwoperly? I want him to wook koot.’ Yasmina rolled her jazz-ballet hips at Laura and looked her straight in the eye. ‘Make sure he can see out.’

Laura crouched down. She adjusted the phone so the smiley face on the screen peered over the edge of the pocket. The smooth metal phone felt heavy and solid and the jeans felt soft and stretchy. She wished she got comfortable jeans from the surf shop rather than rough yellow-labels from K-Mart. ‘It’s not worth it, Muffin Tops!’ Her mum would laugh and pinch her tummy. ‘You’ll just grow out of them!’
‘So when are you getting your phone?’ asked Yasmina suddenly, causing Laura to wobble on her haunches.

Laura steadied herself and pretended to concentrate on getting the phone to sit just right. She didn't want to look up at Yasmina's raised eyebrows.
‘I don't know. Soon. Mum doesn’t really have enough, um … time, to take me this weekend.’
Yasmina gazed down, hands on hips, saying nothing.
‘There’s your wittle phony wony!’ Laura squeaked to disguise the effort she had to make to stand up.
‘Oh isn’t Bwadley wooking koot?’ simpered Yasmina. She leapt into a pirouette and grooved off towards the vacation care building.
‘Yes he is!’ sang Laura, dancing after her.
‘So what are you getting for your screensaver?’ called Yasmina over her shoulder.
Laura stopped dancing. ‘Um … a frog!’

The vacation care centre was in a transportable classroom that smelled like PlayDough, instant coffee and detergent. Everything was organised into ‘corners’: the board games corner, the craft corner, the reading corner, the TV corner and the computer corner. No one ever used the board games (‘the boring games’, Yasmina had scoffed when Laura suggested playing one), the crafts or the books unless they were banned from the TV and the computer. The TV corner only showed videos for little kids in case parents complained and the computer corner was always elbow-to-kneecap with boys waiting semi-patiently for their shot.

When Laura and Yasmina’s eyes had adjusted from the spring sunshine, they saw the vacation care manager, a tall man with floppy grey hair called Terry, shaking hands with a younger man wearing a whistle around his neck.
‘The sumo suits are in my van,’ the young man was saying. ‘I just need you to show me where to set up.’
‘Great great,’ said Terry. He steered the man past Yasmina who stayed in their way and Laura who stepped out of it. ‘Morning girls! (Look out Yasmina) Come and I’ll show you the gym.’
‘Sumo suits?’ hissed a boy who was ninth in line for the computer.
‘They’re those things in Austin Powers where you wrestle each other!’ said his spiky haired friend. ‘I’ve got the movie at home.’
‘Oh wicked!’ cried a chubby cheeked boy, hooking his arm around a thinner boy’s neck. ‘I’m gonna verse you!’
The thinner boy shook him away, pouting at the floor. ‘I don’t wanna do it!’
Soon, every boy in the room was charging around, sizing one another up, pairing off and sulking about not having a partner.

Laura rolled her bracelets and prayed that this wasn’t a compulsory thing like ice skating and the beach. She hated being in front of people and trying to do things she wasn’t good at. She hated the half-embarrassed-for-her, half-laughing-at-her look that people got on their faces when they watched. She hated the loud laugh she did to pretend she was having fun at playing the fool. And the gulp she did in between laughs to stop herself from puking with embarrassment. She hated the way someone would always say ‘atta girl!’ or ‘good effort!’ when it was over.
She hoped that Yasmina would find it as distasteful as she did.
Terry came back into the room and clapped his hands loudly. ‘Right! Everyone onto the listening mat! Now! Computer off!’
The kids around the computer sighed as one in disappointment.
‘Okay. As a last day of holiday treat, we’re all going to do sumo wrestling for the next two hours! Now, I want everyone to follow me in a neat line to the gym.’
All the boys bounced on their bottoms, hugging each other with glee.

Yasmina wrinkled her nose and a wave of relief washed through Laura’s stomach. If Yasmina didn’t want to do it, it meant that they could sit on chairs up the back and indulge in Yasmina’s favourite pastime: acting bored and paying people out.
She was safe.

To be continued...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pleasing Yasmina Part 1

This is a short story I entered into a competition a while back.
I didn't win anything.


Pleasing Yasmina

Laura had noticed that when people were nervous, they did odd things like jiggling their legs or pacing up and down. When Laura was nervous, like she was now, she rolled her friendship bracelets up and down her wrist. The sound of the plastic threads clacking over each other was relaxing, like scrunching paper or rubbing your teeth together.

Laura was nervous because it was the last Friday before school started and the car was almost at Yasmina’s house.
If she didn’t ask her mum now, she would never be allowed to join Yasmina’s new club.
Laura had joined Yasmina’s Bracelet Club when Yasmina had given her a custard-coloured friendship bracelet on the first day of school holidays and told her that it meant they were best friends.
Now Yasmina had decided to form a new club and had been talking about it for the entire two week break. And for two weeks, Laura had been rehearsing how she would ask her mum if she could join the new club. She rolled her bracelets up and down.
‘Um … Mum?’
‘Yes, sweetheart?’
‘There’s going to be this new club at school and it’s pretty good and I think I want to join.’
‘Sounds interesting!’ Her mum smiled. So far, so good.
‘Yeah, it’s a totally cool club. All these cool people are going to be in it, and we’re gonna do all this really cool stuff together, and call each other and stuff.’
‘Great. Like a friends club or something?’

'Yeah!' Getting warmer.
'What's your club called?'
Now for the hard part. ‘Well, it’s like a group of girls and we all call each other and keep in touch and organise things together and we all need to be able to be in touch all the time in case something happens and we all need to know about it. You know?’
They pulled up at a traffic light. Her mum looked over at her as if hearing her for the first time. ‘Sweetheart, what are you talking about? What kind of club is it? Is it organised through the school?’
Laura swallowed and brushed her hand up her wrist. ‘No, not really. It’s kind of a mobile phone club and so we all have to have mobiles and that’s how we keep in touch, like best friends and stuff.’
Her mum screwed up her face as though she could smell something dirty.
Laura rolled her bracelets and kept talking.
‘So can I get a mobile? Yasmina says they’re really cheap and it’ll be so handy for like when you need to get in touch with me, and Yasmina say they’re really convenient for like, in an emergency or something and I’ll be able to talk to all the other girls in the club and …’
‘Laura! You’re eleven! You’ve never needed a mobile before and you don’t need one now!’
‘But Yasmina says that they’re really cheap and …’
‘That Yasmina girl has never had to pay for anything in her life. This is just like that bracelet club or whatever it was a couple of weeks ago, isn’t it?’
Laura bit her lip and said nothing.
‘Look. I don’t mind buying you a bunch of bracelets so you can be in with your friends, but we just can’t afford a mobile phone, Laura. I’m sure it’s lovely for Yasmina to get everything she wants, but you’ll just have to do without.’
‘But Yasmina got hers last night and I have to get one before school starts or …’
‘You’re not getting one, Laura. I don’t care what Yasmina said, we just don’t have enough money. ’
‘But Mum, I …’
Her mum slapped the steering wheel. ‘I’ve said my bit, Laura.’
They pulled up outside Yasmina’s house just as Yasmina came skipping out to the car. She was waving a hot pink mobile phone and wearing the sunglasses she said her mum would buy her to go with it.


To be continued ...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Maybe they were very strict about changing the water in everyone's bowls

We, I should have started ringing child care centres twelve months ago. At some places they were politely upfront about my chances: "There is a very long waiting list."
At others, confrontingly honest: "Your baby will not be a baby any more by the time a place for a baby opens up on our books. By then he will be a toddler!'
"Ha ha," I laughed.
"Our toddler spaces are also full."

Finally a place became available. Two places, actually. Both near our house.
We're mildly suspicious, but we visit the one which confirms over the phone that he has a place.
Our first experience of the place occurs on the way there when I am tailgated by an arsenecked maniac in a black Commodore. He's swerving, trying to pass at high speed on a suburban street. I block. I play dumb. I drive towards the centre. I speed away from roundabouts and slow again when he catches up.
He is, of course, one of the parents coming to pick up his children from the centre. I give him a friendly wave as we park next to one another.
The place is a converted house, surrounded by fake grass, interrupted only by single faded plastic slippery-dip. It looks deserted; an impression intensified by the dozens of photocopied notices flapping about on the veranda.
The door is opened by a slightly confused, heavily pregnant woman who informs us that the director is sick while the familiar ethereal waft of the nappy bucket floats past her from the darkened hallway.
The place stinks.
She shows us the baby room in which half a dozen poppets sprawl around on mismatched mats, loudly playing with a few plastic toys. Intermittent lonely crying can be heard from an adjoining room. Our host reveals its source when she cheerfully whips aside a curtain to reveal a red-eye little boy rubbing his eyes from on of a row of cots with thin metal bars. Like cages.
'Oh hello, sleepy!' she coos, and leaves him there. More crying. She recites the daily routine for the babies, including the time for sleeps, changes, eating, sleeps and more changes. She directs our attention upwards.
'And we have a hanging wire for Xmas artwork!' There is indeed a length of fencing wire from which hang green squares of paper daubed with red paint.
As we leave that room, a little boy tries to show us the aeroplane toy he has been shouting excitedly over since we arrived. He seems older than the other babies plopped around the room.
'What a cute kid,' we both remark.
'Oh that one!' Our host replies. 'He is a biter! So we move him to the baby room.'
We laugh. Nervously.
The tour of the baby room complete, she leads us past another sleeping room and a small kitchen with a vintage stove.
'What do you feed them?' asks Mele, Queen of Culinaria.
'Oh we give them mixed mashed vegetables once a day and their bottles, and we also give them fruit mixed with custard or jelly.'
She shows us the nappy change room, tightly-packed with every child's quota of nappies, and the miniature toilets. The odour is strongest here. The entire building smells like a place you'd board an unloved poodle.
Speaking of small canines, the toddlers room does resemble an exercise yard. Small children roll under foot, growling and barking. One child lays prone on the floor clutching a shoe. He looks like his owners have just left for two weeks in Port Douglas. A young girl with a green, monogrammed shirt smiles at us from the corner as she watches the roiling mob.
The pregnant director-of-the-day leads past the pack, over depressed boy and outside to the back area. It is identical to the front, but for the addition of an extra plastic slippery-dip.
'Sometimes when we have too many children, we just take everyone out here to run around!'
We take the forms. We ask questions about availability and cost.
"Fifty-nine dollars per day."
"How much for a half day?"
"We do not do half-days. If you leave him here, it will be fifty-nine dollars. It doesn't matter when you want to come and pick him up." She smiles encouragingly.
We thank her for her time and she looks for a pen to write down Mele's mobile number.
We step out into the light once again and breathe the fresh air.

At the second place, the director immediately sits us down in her office and spends five minutes cooing over Charlie before remembering herself and talking us through accreditation, Centrelink, nutrition, safety, how beautiful Charlie is, acclimatising children to childcare, activities and the different pens Charlie can play with in her lap.

Guess which one we chose?

***

Answer to the last poost: Option e). I left them in the tree. I felt bad about it, but I left them there. Your heart hardens in a certain direction when you become a family man.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Train them to hunt native species?

You're out walking with your family of an evening. Strolling, I believe it's known as. In a small tree you discover not one but two adorable little kittens. No collars. No microchips. Cowering, frightened, hungry. You pick them up, tuck them into your t-shirt and knock on a few doors around the place.
No-one wants to know. Some people clearly decide that a young male with a hill-billy pube-beard and a stained shirt brandishing two stray kittens on their porch at twilight is significant cause for alarm. (One accupant speaks in such a terrified, yet condescending tone that it becomes apparent that he has come across this sort of two-penny ruse before, out in the colonies.)
One family does want to know. They have two little girls who are just as wide-eyed and adorable as the kittens. They want to know big time. Their dad ushers you out the front gate. You are back where you started, but with a shirt full of adorable kittens.
Your wife is very allergic to cats.
Do you:

a) Take them home, put them in a nice dry little box in the shed and turn them into outside cats who stop the birds from savaging the apricots, grapes and other crops.
b) Take them home, call the RSPCA, take them there in the morning (45 minute drive for interstate readers) and wave them goodbye, imagining all the pretty little girls who will be getting a pretty kitty for Chrissy.
c) Take them home, pose them in a series of adorable photos and plaster the neighbourhood with posters containing vague references to euthanasia and a pre-Xmas deadline.
d) Leave them in the tree, but bring them some food and whistfully watch them eat while clutching a handkerchief and trying not to imagine anything Dickensian.
e) Leave them in the tree. Drink whisky as the rain comes down.
f) Put them in someone's letterbox.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Obviously I am seriously mistaken.

I always thought the point of being in politics was to get more people to vote for you, not less.






Let's punch out some polls!


Update: And a little Tony Abbott quote for all the lady voters out there:

"We have a bizarre double standard, a bizarre double standard in this country where someone who kills a pregnant woman's baby is guilty of murder but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice."


I think we have the Liberal Party's 2010 election slogan!



It can't all be gold

Dear Commonwealth Bank,

I really appreciated the fact that when you visited that big American ad agency with those two or three dickheads with the pencil moustaches, you kept true to the Australian spirit and poo-pooed their zany ideas about customer service. You seemed like just the kind of bank that would be smart enough to implement a few simple customer service ideas.
However, I am a little troubled that you continue to use the same ad agency dickheads who continue to give the same type of clown-shit crazy suggestions which you never use. It's been at least two or three years now and you don't seem to be getting the picture. I don't believe you're that smart after all. In your latest commercial, you show one of your rep's seven-year-old son coming up with the ideas.
Here's an idea: going to that same ad agency all these year makes you look foolish.

Yours,
A credit union customer

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who's with me?

*tsk* "Men."

As soon as I hear it, my hackles rise. She's used to saying it. They all are. That off-hand, exasperated little complaint of an explanation. Something's gone wrong. Gone missing. Gone awry. And that's not the way she would have done it. She would have injected a bit of common sense into the matter from the beginning and got it sorted without all this need for eye-rolling and the picking up of dirty socks.

"Men
. I mean, honestly. Am I right, girls?"

Yeah, well I've had a gut-full. This goes beyond that utterly hurtful Mere Male page in the back of The Women's Weekly. I've grown up being bombarded by images of dick-head dudes and dopey dads and I can differentiate myself from what I see in the media (offensive and pervasive as it is), but as I work in a female-dominated environment, more and more I get subjected to these blasé little quips with the punchlines revolving around men and their predictable meeting of low expectations.

"Were you having a man-look for it?"

My honest reply to this one is now "Well, I didn't have a woman-look - you know, standing around squawking about it until someone else finds it in plain sight."
Think I'm kidding? No one makes the "man-look" joke around me any more.
I hereby put my foot down. No more making snide little gags about men. Not around me. Not around the men in my life. All the men I know are, every one, excellent human beings. I'm proud of all them. So don't shuffle around here with your smirky little bon mots about listening and understanding and housework. I won't have it.
I'm perfectly well aware that there are too many tedious blokes out there. That's fine. Go and tell your could-burn-water cooking gags around them.
But keep that tiresome dreck away from me.

*tsk* "Oh! Men! I don't know!"
"I do! We're like women, but less whingey."

Join me, my brothers. Put this tediousness in its place and you, like me, will have to put up with it substantially less often.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm not joking, she actually said this:


"Franzy, I think we just need to get a bigger TV - one of those high-definition ones. I'm sick of not being able to see the Playstation properly and we should just complete our home entertainment system."


I know.
She is awesome.
Thank you very much and suffer in your jocks.




Monday, November 16, 2009

When your life slows down you ...

... consider writing blogs about Channel Ten.

But really, in a blog where I try to practise my writing as often as possible, the difficulty is in cracking that little word "possible".
Give me an hour and I will give you a beautiful story.
Give me a day and I will present you with a hilarious novel.
Give me a week and I will begin to wonder what the hell you've done with my family. Then I'll do some editing and storyboard a short film.
I used to get all dark and resigned as I began receiving joyous emails telling me that my colleagues were finishing their Phds. How come they were finishing? They had it so easy ...
Then I realised: none of them were starting young families and working full time. They were just at different stages in their lives.

Probably the most creative and fruitful thing a writer who doesn't write produces is excuses:
I'm too tired.
I don't have time.
I have to do something on the internet.
I'm really looking forward to watching this show.
The housework isn't going to do itself.
The weekend is just so busy.
It's that time of year.
I've just got to finish this other thing, then I can get right on it.
An hour isn't long enough.

What's that?
Those excuses aren't that creative and wonderful?
Well, they're definitely more refined and developed than anything else I've produced lately. I'm sure the circadian Ninjacockle will agree with me that good writing takes more time than raising healthy children. Indeed, it takes about the same time.
And, as attractive as playing the role of whisky-soaked writer/father/life-long enigma to our little darlings is, it takes a special kind of arsehole and neither of us are made of that particular brand of sphincter.
Plus, we also know that in every story of writing success, the drunken scribe is never the actual successful writer; he or she is always the muse. They are the dark, howling backdrop to the intense life of artistic torment that is bestowed upon their brilliant children.
What's the point of devoting fifty years to raw, powerful manuscripts and liver disease if you're just going to let the eventual spoils slip through your gnarled fingers into the hands of your cowering children?
There you are, hunched over your netbook, drinkin', emotin' and ignorin', pumping out these spirit-strangling tomes, too raw and powerful for the times during which they were written. Meanwhile, the offspring are waiting in the wings for you to drop dead of an embolism or something so they can carefully delete all your files, identify your beautiful corpse and draft up their own sly little (raw, powerful) volume, which will be reverse-ironically titled Dad was a drunken arsehole. It will sell like half-price haggis and inject the English language with dozens of new idioms (none of which will refer to Celtic delicacies, all of which will funnel copyrighted royalties into your offspring's Rowland-sized bank account).
Your successful, wealthy child will fund various attempts to reanimate you, either for a final hug or something future psychologists will refer to as "cryo-closure", but your writing success will continue to be denied because the precious hour I mentioned above will be spent not at a keyboard, recording the raw, powerful philosophical keystones that will naturally flow from the reactivated regions of your frontal cortex. That one valuable hour will spent floating in a tank of positively-charged cryo-gel while the child you ignored some 150 years previously either tries to hug you while wearing a protective scuba suit or just gives you a right ear-bashing for drinking too much, not getting a job and not realising that "raw" and "powerful" in writing terms means "unedited" and "full of swear-words instead of proper exposition".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You know it's hot when ...

... even cold water showers don't cool you off.
... outside stops being an option and starts being a punishment.
... it's too hot to go to the beach.
... you get so sick of rabbit food that you cook a roast chook, just say to say 'fuck you' to the weather.
... partial nudity is suddenly acceptable.
... the ocean looks lower.
... suddenly everyone works for the Bureau of Meteorology.
... you start feeling a weeny bit tough as leather about exactly how many days of scorching heat wave you and all your fellow South Australians have endured ... from your air-conditioned offices.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I hear that some animals cry

I’m going to paint you a horrid little picture. Please have your expressions of shock and disbelief at the ready.
Picture a family. A happy, secure family, borne of passion and love for one another. The parents are career-minded and worldly. They work hard to see their dreams and loves come to life. They build careers and lives around this work and try to share it with everyone they meet. They try to instil in their children the same enthusiasm and drive. The father is particularly driven and his energy for his work makes him enigmatic and delightful.
Then, one day, while this dynamo is at work, he is killed. Killed by the very thing he and his family have spent their entire lives working at. It is a horrible, tragic accident and leaves a great hole in the middle of this ordinary, likeable family.
That’s not the horrible bit. Sure, it’s terrible, awful and sad. It happens every day, but generally that would have to be the worst thing that could happen to the family, right?
Wrong.
Some two or three years after the father’s death, the eldest child, barely twelve, enters the same line of work. And not just carrying on the passion of the work, she is made to do it alongside the image of her dead father. Gruesome, eh?
She has to talk about him, look at his picture, smile at every reminder of him, reminisce about him, even dress like him! She even has to watch footage of him working at the very activities which got him killed.
And her mum helps.

Have you guessed who it is yet?

Possibly the saddest thing about Bindi Irwin isn’t the fact that she has to go on without her dad, and yet surrounded by him every day as though there was nothing sad or solemn about it (and whether you rate him as a primo conservationist or a loud-mouthed yahoo, you’d have to admit he’d be a pretty fun dad). It’s the fact that when you watch the show (thanks ABC Kids), she is constantly referring to the animals as her friends, but is only ever joined on camera by adults and her mum. And once by a shyly-bemused Abigail Breslin. I hope she’s got some real friends with whom she does non-child-star type stuff.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rawf rawf rawf

As I made my first coffee for 48 hours I could literally feel my neurons barking at the fence like starving, rabid dogs. They even followed the scoop of ground coffee from side to side, pulsing first on the right lobe as I scooped the coffee from the tin and then across to the left and then down as I dropped it into the plunger. Scrabbling paws and manic keening were all I was as I filled the plunger with water and waited the itchy, yelping 3 minutes for the brew.

Addicted?
I can stop any time I want to.
I just don't want to.

Monday, October 26, 2009

And speaking of which

I promised myself that I wouldn't post about work, but some things are just too, too sweet. For clarity, I work in a university department which helps students with learning techniques like essay writing, referencing, research and time management. I returned today to a message on my answering machine from a student:

"Hello. Can you tell me how to use Endnote?* Oh, but how are you going to call me back? Hmm. This is a perplexing concept ..."
*hangs up*

Me (to answering machine message): "Madam, if the concept of the telephone is beyond your ken, then you haven't a hope with Endnote."


*bibliography software

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Get it while it's incredibly stupid

I know editors are being downsized in the mainstream media, but I didn't realise that it actually meant hiring 7-year-olds.
Read the tag-line for this video, before someone changes it.

Minimal posts due to completely exciting hospital trip this weekend! We're all better now!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When that girl came out of the traffic I thought she wanted to hit that man. He had just powered straight past me in a big hurry to skip the growing snake in the right hand lane. The big lazy one that drapes from the turning lane and makes all the straight ahead people nervous, like they're going to miss their house being there. So bam, out she skips in her little Hyundai and they come together like two fists full of spare parts. She didn't even look before she skipped out. Lucky she was in a car. They were both okay, walking and I powered on through, winning the race to the lights and I made it home first.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dissatisfaction

trying to pick up a heavy bag which sitting on its own strap
sinking into the couch only to realise that the controller is over ..................................there
boring
ad
ad
ad
subtitles are too fuzzy
this coffee is burnt
so's the milk
three precious hours in which to study, half an hour reading internet comics, half an hour installing some bloody update
sunnies aren't dirty, that's a scratch
headphone cord gets caught and pulls at my ears
all this poetry is pretty much unreadably tedious
shin + bedpost
either no one's listening to me or I'm talking across the top of everyone
the more comfortable the pillow, the more likely it is to be bin night
the unblogworthy drollery of the suburban 9 to 5
blowfly + oriface
i'm just trying to eat my lunch and read my book I'm not really interested in donating five minutes of that to chit-chat
why won't Australian Top Gear read my blogs and hire me as a writer

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Satisfaction

his weight in my arms and in my lap when he falls asleep
the gravelly rattle of various cruds rocketing up the vacuum cleaner hose
tilting the rear vision mirror a fraction lower on the way home because I'm slumped in that big comfy cross-country seat
the fanged French kiss of the morning coffee
paying a bill with my own grown up money that I earned

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I hate all racists. And the Dutch.*

What do you do when, in your professional capacity working in a university, you come across someone who needs help, but somehow blames that need on "cashed-up Asians"? Not literally, but in that roundabout way that ingrained, casual racism has which makes it seem more thought out and considered to the user, but just proves how circuitous a route your racist is willing to travel in order to shift blame and retain their ideological laziness.

To sum up: her lecturer is unhelpful because universities care so much about attracting internationals with the folding stuff that they forget about "Australians". A guy doing a Phd studying Australian states is unsuitable because he's being paid to do so by a foreign government, the implication being that he will return home, taking that knowledge with him. Which is apparently a bad thing. All these foreign students have money and laptops and broadband.
"And many don't."
"Oh yeah, yeah! Heaps of us (note the familiar "us") are doing it tough."

It might seem unusual, but I'm actually pretty dry and straight forward when I'm at work. I take a little bit of pride in my direct, professional manner. I'll slip in the odd dick joke, but by and large I'm not "on". It means that I relax. I don't have to think of my own interesting little chit chats and opinions, it's just the company line, straight up and let's move on. I have a small reputation for efficiency and proficiency. It's comfortable; easy.
This doesn't really help when university policy has neglected to include tearing the retched flappy ears from pug-nosed racists who repeatedly identify themselves as being victims of equity issues.

So I went and wrote a blog.
That'll show 'em.

*Oven.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday Arvo Age Quiz

These are for points:

Question 1: Am too much an Arnie fan that even when an Arnie-less remake of The Predator is slated for 2010, I get excited and begin planning taking my Dad to it?

Question 2: Are anyone else's eyes dry as bones?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You should be thanking them!

And in the Channel Nine news this morning: Channel Nine show Hey Hey It's Saturday offends with a racist sketch on eternal Aussie favourite, Red Faces.

Cut to extended clip of five podgy white guys in afro wigs in blackface dancing and miming to a Jackson Five song. Stern commentary by our morning news reader informing us that these men had painted their faces black. More blackface dancing. They're mostly in sync.
Enter another white man, dressed as Michael Jackson circa HIStory, with his face painted white. (get it?!) More stern commentary pointing out that the newest member of the Jackson Six has his face painted white.
Cut to Red Faces celebrity judge (white) American, Harry Connick Jr, looking dumbfounded and drawing a shaky zero on his scorecard.
'If you had done that in the US,' pronounces the singer 'It'd be "Hey Hey Show's Over" - off the air.'
Cut to chubby little Daryl formally apologising to Connick Jr for offending him (no one else, just him), in that semi-fake TV apology tone where light-entertainment types have to eat humble pie and pull it off with all the sincerity of a group email.
Connick Jr says that he wouldn't have come on the show if he knew that Grown Up Golliwogs were going to be part of the deal.

Guess he underestimated the moronic desperation of insulated aging white guys ...
The man who played Michael Jackson now reckons that he wasn't being racist, because he's a) Indian (and of course no Indians are capable of racism because they get racismed themselves!), b) a doctor (and doctors are immune to racist behaviour, just like parking tickets) and c) don't forget, he was just trying to be funny! (Oh I get it ...)
When asked if he would perform the skit in the US? "Absolutely not."
Because racism is only okay when its subjects can't lynch you. And because no Australian Aboriginals (or anyone else who thinks that they're "black") should be offended because they should know that they were being Americans.
Not Australians - Americans. See? It's different.
No Aboriginals have the right to be offended and no way do they get an apology.
Only the white American guy gets an apology.
And noneof those black Americans get an apology either, because they didn't see it and didn't complain at the time.
And anyway, what has a bunch of wealthy doctors from "different racial backgrounds" painted in black face got to do with a couple of centuries of racism that's been over for decades?

And remember: they were just trying to be funny!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A stifling review

Tim Winton's Breath

**spoiler alert**

Is just like Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, but with Michael Hutchence swinging from a wardrobe door in the background.
No, not really an addition I would have made either.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Franzy fights on

And here's what I wrote in the (surprisingly ample) feedback section of the Greater Union customer survey after buying some online tickets:

"You cinemas need to start being up front about why allocated seating has been introduced. No contacts know. The staff shrug and smile and take your wad of cash. It inconveniences patrons and restricts the enjoyment of my movie-going experience to be sat next to a stranger and not be able to choose the location of my seat upon entering the cinema.
Sharing elbow room with someone I've never met was never on my list of Things To Do At The Movies.
Why the gritted-teeth is it on there now?
To phase out ticketing staff and ease us into online bookings and buy-your-ticket-here pillars? You're competing with 50" plasmas and surround-sound in people's homes! The only thing you've GOT over that is customer service. I've had friends who now avoid going to the cinemas now because of allocated seating. My mother gave up her 10-year membership to Palace Nova on the back of this short-sightedness. She wrote them a long letter to explain why. Customer service? She didn't even receive a reply. You try telling me that you're a different company who listens to the concerns of its patrons? Rubbish. To theatre-goers, you are now all one and the one same. Brand loyalty is dead dead dead.
Don't give me that bluster about Gold seating, either. $35 for the chance at a hot nachos in the second reel is NOT a fun family outing. OR a low-pressure date. The cinema used to be the place where teenagers could meet up and not have to make awkward conversation. Now you've priced them right out of the market. Wake up.
If you don't want customers, just shut down now with dignity and stop taking everyone's money and enjoyment with you."

You may thank me in the comments when allocated seating is abolished and a quiet young man with a side-part and a small torch is guiding you to your $5 seat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I don't care if it IS an OH&S issue

if I come into the lunchroom and there are bowls, cups, spoons, food containers or coffee plungers sitting in the sink, soaking in cold water, grease and cabbage, I will assume that, because they are in the sink (o ye crucible of cleansing!), they are all clean and washed up and only in need of neat stacking on the drying rack, which I am more than happy to do for you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Even though I can barely hear anything being said in a less-than-silent environment and every year I have to turn the radio up one more notch, all those concerts were totally worth it.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dear Dan, Please code ...

... a Facebook app that lifts your workplace's website layout and transfers all of your time-wasting garbage into a page which, at a glance from your workmates or boss, looks exactly as though you were just checking the company's homepage. ©

Friday, September 25, 2009

Franzy's stats indicate that...

... if an arsehole in a wallowy, neutered, gone-to-fat-but-still-taking-up-space four-wheel-drive cuts you off, doesn't let you in or runs over your dog because they were too busy rubbing their nipples with fluffy tufts of cotton wool teased from the padding with which they surround their brains and souls, they are 95% more likely to be driving a Toyota Kluger.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's a gift for a worthy foe ...

Yes, name your condom after a people famous for constructing a massive, sturdy symbol of masculinity, but did it have to be the same folks who were famous for tricking everybody into bringing that gargantuan totem inside, only for it to break open, spilling out death, destruction and Brad Pitt?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How can I tell that this isn't some elaborate piece of crappy performance art; The Truman Show, but with a busker's hat?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So, I assume that because you're crossing the picket line and working, you'll be passing on all the extra pay you receive as a result of the industrial action to the union?

Monday, September 14, 2009

You know you're tragically old when ...

... you reminisce, without irony, about the soft, sweet grunting of a 5 ¼ inch floppy drive because you have actually owned computers that had them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The more silent you are trying to be after everyone else has gone to bed, the more steel pots will slip out of your hands while you're doing the dishes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fear is ...

... starting him on mashed pumpkin and, as the weekend looms, hearing in detail about exactly what happens in that nappy when I'm at work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You can't possibly imagine the embarrassment and contempt I feel for the twenty-one year old me who didn't have the dignity, the restraint and self-confidence not to unsheathe a big, rubbery exclamation mark at the end of just about every significant sentence I ever tried to have published, like a plaid-clad comedian demonstrating when the punchline has occurred in a routine about bitchy mother-in-laws and poor-quality airline food by slapping a brass gong with a dildo.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SSS EXtra!

I'm 16, I'm sailing the world, I'm getting my pins out!


And now I am a ... what?

I was a clown in a touring youth circus, I've written a joke book, I own a beautiful leather motor-bike jacket I bought in Chapel St and no motorbike, I married an Italian writer, I can cook a tastier pasta sauce than any of her relatives, I buy, read and enjoy car magazines, I review young adult books for a specialist magazine published by Melbourne Uni, I can juggle fire, I can hold a conversation in German as long as nobody starts discussing biomechanics, politics or the war (zing!), I can ski, but not surf, I rent, I will listen to industrial hip-hop as soon as The Flight of the Conchords, my dad teaches English in China, my mum teaches everything here, my son could hold his head up by six weeks, my best man is a professional acrobat and physiotherapist, my oldest friend has a big hand in just about everything you see on the ABC, my third oldest friend got married on an iceberg and I can skol a pint of pale no worries.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am a ... what?

I garden most weekends, fall asleep in front of ABC crime drama, know about lawn mowers, own more tracksuit pants than those suitable for the public eye, have a subscription to ABR, listen to 891 Mornings with Matt'n'Dave, complain at the video store, call the place where I rent DVDs "the video store" as though it were some retailer of Betamax tapes from beyond the black stump, own antiques, enjoy shopping for antiques more than clothes, drink lattes, maintain facial hair on purpose rather than a result of laziness and buy and drive Toyotas because my mechanic recommends them.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

200 posts in blogger doesn't seem like a lot (especially when 60 or so are only a sentence long).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Since I checked with the council and found out that you don't own the entire street, stop fucking with my rear-view mirror.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If someone asks you "Can I ask you a question?" and you answer "Yes", is the conversation over?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tuesday is recycling night!

It's fine to become a parent. It's fine to spend Saturday nights watching ABC and trawling through the used cars on drive.com.au looking for a little action (what all the tragically boring parents are doing this generation).

It's not fine to be hassled and haunted by this stupid song for a terrible, sanity-bleeding month some 15 or so years ago ...



... only to have the same Nightly Ghoul of Catchiness haunt me again in the following guise:



It turns out (from my two pieces of research) that all Flo Rida* does is raid the more excruciatingly tragic corners of my music collection for sugar-trash Euro-Disco - Exhibit A:



And rap over the top of it. Exhibit B:



Regardless of whether Kanye West had already dropped by a few years previously ...



... to purloin one of my top ten songs of all time:



All I have to do now is wait for Snoop to drop by with an ounce to trade for this little ditty:



Yes. I have this song.
Yes. I actually (used to) listen to it.

*But seriously, how pleased with himself must Flo Rida have been when he first thought up that name? I would love to have been there, just to watch that glimmer of realisation spread across his face. He'd be there, driving in a lowered cruiser, I imagine. Rolling around the streets of Miami and thinking about his desire to be a rapper and tossing up a few names.
"Big Banga? Nah ... T Dollaz? ... Hmm ... nah ..."
He'd pull up at the lights, along side a bus with a tourist bureau ad on it. "Florida is great!" reads the ad. Soon-to-be-Flo stares at the ad.
"Hey ... 'rida' ... like my ride here - "lo rida" ... heh ... thas' good ... hey ... Flo ... I flow ... my flow is the shit ... Flo ... rida ... Florida ... Flo ... rida ... Flo-rida ... Flo Rida."
He'd be like some Sesame Street Muppet slowly pushing two parts of a word together to make ... one meaning!
"FLO RIDA!" he would yell out. "FLO RIDA! YES!" He'd be beeping his horn, muppets would be waving their arms on little wires and bashing their furry heads up and down and singing songs about how words can be made up of other words.

It would be that awesome.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tony Smith - Chapter 6

And he just keeps getting bolder, more audacious ...

Robbery and shooting link to escapee.

By John Merriman
Published in The Advertiser
28 April 1999

ESCAPEE Anthony John Smith is believed to have been involved in a bank robbery and the shooting
of a woman since he escaped two months ago. Police believe Smith, 19, is commuting regularly between Adelaide and Melbourne possibly with his girlfriend who vanished last week.
On March 1 Smith escaped from two Correctional Services officers who were escorting him from the
Adelaide Remand Centre to the Royal Adelaide Hospital so he could visit his sick father.
It is believed he left the city in a taxi.

Police said yesterday they were convinced Smith was one of three men involved in the attempted murder and robbery of a 27-year-old Glengowrie woman in the car park of the Plympton branch of BankSA on Monday, March 8. A witness claims to have seen Smith in the getaway vehicle.
Intelligence sources also have indicated he was one of three men who robbed the ANZ bank at
Torrensville just after 5pm on Friday, March 12.
An investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Harry Worth, said the last confirmed sighting of him
was a week ago when he met his girlfriend in Adelaide.
Smith's 16-year-old girlfriend has now disappeared and police assume she is travelling with him. Smith is one of three escapees on the run. The others are Brett McFarlane, 32, and Adam Zoanetti, 28, who escaped with Jason Moyle, 27, and Kane Dyer, 23, from the Yatala Labour Prison on Monday, April 9. Moyle and Dyer have since been detained. The four men escaped from Yatala by using bolt-cutters to cut through three fences.
Later that night they walked into the Cavan Hotel on Port Wakefield Rd. McFarlane told the three to wait for him while he made a telephone call, but he has not been seen since.
His three companions waited 40 minutes before they realised McFarlane had left by the back
door. The trio spent the night at a flat in Norwood, where Zoanetti was last seen.
Moyle was found unconscious in parklands near the Adelaide Zoo on Monday, April 12, after overdosing on drugs. Dyer surrendered to police at the Port Adelaide Police Station on Tuesday, April 13.
Detective Senior Constable Worth said the three criminals still on the run had eluded police because of
an "extensive network of close friends and associates". "These people are willing to risk imprisonment themselves to protect these men," he said. "One person has already been charged with harboring an escaped criminal."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maybe in the sub-cockle area

I would like to talk to you about the American Dream. Afterwards, there will be a short film. The American Dream is one that has those who hold its fine tenets in their brave hearts believe that they can succeed against all odds. It is the belief in freedom. Freedom to live. Freedom to succeed. Freedom from oppression.

The following short film shows exactly that. A man is facing some tough times, but he's still trying to make his way, against the odds. Being captured by the Las Vegas police isn't exactly an orthodox struggle, but going to toe with the declared authority is what founded the United States in the first damn place. In this piece you can watch as he takes an inner journey from despair to hope to belief and finally, to knowledge.
His despair arrives with realisation. The epiphany strikes, even as he cries out to an uncaring world.
"There's always someone trying to stop me from making my money." The tremored strain in his voice speaks of a life spent under the boot of oppression.
But watch. Watch on as this man, reduced to nothing but the being he is, reaches deep, deep inside himself and finds that spark. The spark from which wars are won and upon which nations are built.
This is it, he says to himself. I must fight and win, or vanish.
This is not some motivational mumbo jumbo. This is the very ideal, indeed the very idiom which spawned the United States of America as we know it today. "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" cried Patrick Henry to the Virginia Convention in 1775. Thus began the Revolution and the war for independence.
"Success is my only motherfucking option, failure's not," said Eminem, more than 200 years later, echoing an identical sentiment. Glory or nothing.
Our man in Las Vegas carries the same fight in his chest.
This is America. He takes a deep breath. I must be free. I will be free.
He speaks out loud. He voices his singular manifesto of freedom:
"I can break these ... cuffs"
The oppressor speaks: "You can't break those cuffs."
This is America, cries the spirit of every soul who ever fought for the dream.
What does this man do? In the face of all the odds?
Watch.
Watch and be uplifted.




Wednesday, August 12, 2009

wundollawundollawundollaaaaa

Anyone who missed out on a copy of my one and only book (so far) because you didn't think to have primary school age children at the correct time, now is the chance to correct your mistake.

Bid! Buy! Get!

If you're the lucky purchaser, bring it around, offer me a beer, make the sign of the burning wagon at midnight and I'll sign it for you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tony Smith - Chapter 5

Armed police hunt for 5-star escapee.
Published in The Advertiser
2 April 1999

HEAVILY armed police surrounded a southern suburbs house yesterday, believing dangerous escapee Anthony John Smith was inside.
The drama began about 9.10am when police were called to a domestic dispute in Florian St, Christie Downs.
When they arrived, they were warned 19-year-old Smith might be in the house.
Within minutes, police wearing bullet-proof vests cordoned off the area and STAR Division officers and a police negotiator were called in.
Two hours later, two men and two women emerged from the house and were searched and questioned.
No one was arrested or charged.
City police were also called in to search for Smith after an unrelated report that he had been seen leaving the Adelaide Railway Station about 12.15pm. Smith has been on the run since March 1, when he escaped from two prison guards as he was being taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital to visit his ill father. At the time, Smith was facing charges over the armed robbery of the Buckingham Arms Hotel on February 7. At least one shot was fired during the robbery.

On Wednesday, The Advertiser revealed Smith had spent 10 days and more than $2000 staying at the five-star Radisson Playford Hotel in North Terrace while on the run.

I'm still stealing snatches of time here and there, so I hope that finding out a little about one of my old school-mates keeps you going for a little while longer. While today's episode might seem a little anti-climactic, I'd like you to imagine the nature of the conversations and imaginings the cops were having with one another about Tony as they drove back down Main South Road with no one in the back of the wagon. I'd like you to put yourselves in the shoes of the two officers who had to put 40 cents into a Teltra pay-phone to make the call after watching Tony streak down a hospital corridor into the front page of The Advertiser.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tony Smith - Chapter 4

You thought I'd forgotten? That the story dwindled away?
No.
No no no no no no.
No.

I realise that pasting old news articles in as blog entries is particularly lazy, but I've been particularly busy of late and will blog about that separately. In the mean time, we travel about a month further down Tony Smith's path ... read on ...


ON THE RUN IN 5-STAR LUXURY.
Published 31 March 1999
The Advertiser


ESCAPEE and alleged armed robber Anthony John Smith lived it up for 10 days in Adelaide's newest
five-star hotel while police scoured the countryside for him.
Detectives tracking the 19-year-old fugitive have discovered Smith spent 10 days at the Radisson
Playford Hotel from March 7 to 17.
Smith ran up a bill of more than $2000, which he paid in cash.
It is understood that Smith disguised himself by dyeing his hair blond and possibly wearing glasses.
During his stay at the boutique hotel, Smith moved frequently in and out of the North Terrace premises
and stayed in a room with entertainment facilities and even fax modem access.
The cheapest rooms available at the Radisson Playford are advertised at $220 a night.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Campbell, the officer-in-charge of the Adelaide Investigations Section,
yesterday described Smith's actions as "brazen".
"As far as we are concerned, there is no question, he definitely stayed there," he said.
"It is unusual but who knows what he was thinking. I think you could say it was brazen."


Monday, August 3, 2009

In case you missed it

I'd like to take a break from my prose-less journey through the life of Tony Smith to express my jaw-swinging flabergastedness at The Age's insistence on skin. I've probably said it before, but it is impossible to look at theage.com.au, without seeing what the medical profession refers to as 'a bit of tit'.


Go ahead, zip over there right now, I'll wait. You are going to see cleveage, side-boob, bikini-stretch or just plain old chestage. Failing that, you'll definitely get a crotch, some thigh or, if the puritans are webmastering, the full-face model pout. But not often. For a news outlet, they certainly don't trust their readers to hang around for news. They have to insert some kind of female skin into the picture, just to be sure you come back.


Take this morning's Lifestyle section image and bear in mind that I haven't doctored it any way.
"What's this?"
"It's this morning's front page image for the Lifestyle section online."
"Hmm. Too subtle."
"Eh?"
"People are going to miss the point. They will drain away from The Age and go and read The Onion or Crikey or something."
"Should I put a title on the picture or something? Let people know it's a fashion show?"
"No. No no no. See this section here?"
"Yeah ..."
"Drag across. Yep. Now enhance. Bigger. That's it. Now closer. Closer. Perfect. Now whack it right here, alongside the original."
"But isn't that a bit ... much? I mean why zoom in on the, uh, 'most important part' if you're going to leave the original there?"
"Are you kidding? We're not smut-merchants! Our readers just want a closer look."
"At this woman's cans."
"You'll go far."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tony Smith - Chapter 3

No, it's not quite over yet.

The artful dodger
Published 2 March 1999
The Advertiser


A PRISONER was on the run last night after escaping from guards as he was led into the Royal
Adelaide Hospital to visit his critically ill father.
Handcuffed and wearing an Adelaide Remand Centre uniform, Anthony John Smith, 19, broke away
from two Correctional Services officers as they escorted him towards a hospital entrance just after 2pm.
The guards chased him along North Terrace and Frome Rd before losing him in Botanic Park. They were not carrying radios or mobile phones so one had to use a public phone to alert police. A search of the area by police patrols, detectives and a police dog failed to find any trace of the escapee.
Two hours later a man fitting Smith's description and possibly wearing handcuffs caught a taxi from the city to Devon Park, the suburb where Smith lived.
He was being held at the Adelaide Remand Centre after being charged with the armed robbery of the
Buckingham Arms Hotel on Sunday, February 7. A Correctional Services spokesman said Smith had been given special permission to visit his father in hospital for "compassionate reasons".
He was being accompanied by an Aboriginal liaison officer and the usual two prison officers.
"We will naturally be looking into all aspects (of the escape) to see if all procedures were followed," the spokesman said.
Late yesterday, Smith was being sought by detectives from the Adelaide Investigations Section and
Operation Counteract, which targets armed robbers. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Campbell, officer-in-charge of Adelaide Investigations, said anyone seeing the escapee should quickly contact police.
"However, he should not be approached by any members of the public," he said.
About 4.45pm yesterday detectives searched a house in Plymouth Ave, Devon Park, after a report from a taxi company that a man fitting Smith's description had travelled there from the city about 4pm. The passenger was wearing shorts and a singlet.
"We called the police because the driver thought the man was wearing handcuffs he had his hands
under a jumper and he kept them together the whole time," said a spokesman from the cab company.
"He did pay. He had some cash in his pocket."
Smith is described as about 183cm tall, of athletic build with short, dark hair and with noticeable acne scars on his face.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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