Wednesday, August 15, 2007

That reminds me of the time ....

A while ago Audrey tagged me in a meme that asked you to think of ten things that you hate about people. Not being a particularly hateful person, I found it reasonably difficult and petered out after five.
Well, I've thought of a new one:

6. Bad storytellers.
I'm pretty tired, so I'll probably regret writing this, but there it is. My secret shame. And it's not getting better with age. I thought I could hold this one in and prevent causing awkwardness among pretty much everyone who knows me who might have a story to tell me in the future (don't worry - I've got some soothing words for you folks later), but I've just read a published young adult novel that I am to review that was literally the worst book I have ever read. Laughably, hysterically awful. And that got me angry about storytelling in general. There are a few things that steam my hams* about bad storytelling, and here they are:
The Number One bad story telling sin is when the punchline is "And it was
so funny!" If you told the story, minus that last bit, and your audience isn't laughing, it wasn't funny and you're a liar. You know when you tell a joke, and then have to explain it? Same principle. I used to go out with this girl, most of whose stories ended with: "And it was just fantastic," followed by a reassuring nod. Rest assured that the just-related experience founded none of my dumbness.
Number Two is when stories are too fucking long. When the story turns into a biography, just finish the page you're on and pass the conversation stick to the next person.
Number Three is best illustrated by the surprisingly-lacklustre-of-late Toothpaste for Dinner

I think this little cartoon shows a story-telling situation that is almost on par with possibly the worst story telling crime out there: recounting your dreams. At least with drug stories, there is the possibility that the person you're talking to will remember the happier times they've had on drugs and will be able to recall them while you explain in great detail how you thought the bean bag was hugging you with ants. Telling someone your dreams, however, is just as useful to everybody's further meaningful existence as stopping a complete stranger in the street and reciting a random string of letters at them.
Number Four on Franzy's Whining List of Storytelling Sins are the words "He/She/They then proceeded to..." followed by some vaguely foolish activity. This is a technique usually employed by people not used to public speaking, but who have been forced to recount an episode that was whimsical at the time and to people who were present or familiar with those present in front of a large gathering of people of varying dispositions and tolerances for the words 'penis', 'urinate' and 'raunchy'. It's actually not a bad thing, but it gets up my toff nose.

I am guilty of all of the above offences. I've encouraged people to react in appropriate ways when I've finished telling a story that didn't gain a reaction. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I carry on stories until the last person has fallen asleep. I've told meaningful, heart-felt, hilarious, life-changing drug stories and, being a dreamer of epic dreams, I've recounted entire hallucinatory journeys to whoever was around. I have then proceeded to stand up in front of a large crowd of people I only half know and attempt to win them over with pseudo-courtroom-speak.

Cue soothing words: And you should as well. Tell your stories. Don't be afraid. If it's interesting to you, it'll be interesting to someone, eventually. The point is to practise. Tell them over again, in different ways to different people. Emphasise the bits that people like and skip the bits where they start sending "Get me outta here" texts to their friends in front of you.
Maybe ease up on the dream reports, though.


GTH - The points to the last entry go to Deadly Trently who correctly identified the place, the various timbers, the world's coolest shirt brand, its place of purchase and the settings of the watch. Well done, Hop-a-long.

New competition on this post's GTH: The winner is whoever guesses the most book titles in the picture.


  1. One of those books is by Sue Townsend, and I think it might be The Cappuccino Years. My books are all packed away, so I can't check. Haroo.

  2. OK, either it is The Cappuccino Years or, more likely considering the size, The Queen and I. Also there is Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole; The Wilderness years on the far left.

  3. Ooooh bugger it Franzy, i'm guilty of ALL of the things can get up your nose besides fingerprints...

    ...and before I read Nai's guess, I too figured out it was Sue Townsend's 'The Queen and I' but the rest are too cruelly blurred for words! Did you realise that I was pathetically competitive enough to turn my laptop SIDEWAYS to see if I could blur my eyes into reading the spines better? Tragic....

  4. I squinted in an attempt to mimic the effects of blkurring on my visual memory. Shameful.

  5. Nai - I've got to say: you were the keenest commenter ever. I think I was still fixing up some formatting when your comments appeared. I won't reveal the titles of the books yet, but next post I will post the unblurred photo for your forehead-smacking pleasure.

    Milly - I love your writing. Stop walking the dog and write!

  6. I changed my glasses twice to see if it made any difference,but I still couldn't make out any of the titles and since none of them look familiar by colour of jacket or print i'll have to pass on this one.

  7. I clicked on your hallucinatory link and I think that comic is funny. May I email it to everyone I know? Do I even need your permission?

  8. If you scroll down to my "Comics are better than poetry" link list at the bottom of the blog you shall find Toothpaste for Dinner. Beware. BEEVVAAAARRREE!!!!

  9. Awww franzy, I think I'm going to cry... love your work too!

  10. Nice use of the verb practise.
    Grammar is improving.
    A little lazy at times - could try harder !!

  11. My guess is that there are 23 book titles in the pic

  12. next post next post next post! i'm going nuts cause i can't work out any of the titles..


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