Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Captain Caveman deals out the parenting tips

I just had the incredibly frustrating experience of typing a long and whimsically intelligent comment on Milly-Moo's blog, only to have Blogger eat it. So I'm turning it into a blog post. Clever eh? Yeah ... well ... to you too, buddy.

Her excellent post revolved around the dilemma that must be facing thousands of Australian parents at this very moment: you and your family live in Australia and ascribe to Australian culture, but your children want to go trikRtreetin. Why? Because they saw it on telly. Or one of their bratty (let's face it) little friends saw it on telly and thought it'd be a swell way to get their paws on some free candy. They want to dress up in the spooky costumes that are just about covering every retail shelf available and knock on strangers' doors, squeal the magic words and be showered with the high-sugar vittles from the huge bowl that every Australian stranger knows to keep by the door on the 31st of October every year.
How the hell do you resist that kind of cultural blackmail? How do you stop the little darlings from harbouring resentment for ever more because you didn't let them join in the assimilation-I-mean-fun?
How? HOW?
Yes, it's simple.
That got your attention, eh?

This is a trick my father taught me (because he used the same basic technique on me once, which I will tell you about in a minute): when your eager-eyebrowed offspring ambushes you with the innocent request to go skipping about the neighbourhood for candy and treats like they do on TV and like Melinda-Jane did last year, you simply sit them down and explain that Halloween and trikRtreetin are American customs. Not Australian ones. We have our own customs, like eating yiros' and voting compulsorily. Then, while that's sinking in, you take them down to the supermarket, give them ten bucks and tell them to buy as many sweets and lollies (use the proud Australian vernacular) as they like. Then take them home and sit on the couch watching movies with them while they pump their guts full of whatever it is they've bought and yelling "Fuck off! We're in Australia!" in loud, cheerful voices whenever a trikRtreeter comes a'knockin'. They still get the lollies, but without the horrid cultural indoctrination. After that, they can make of it what they like.
How did old Dad pull this one over me?
I wanted to go to McDonald’s. Oh yeah. Despite being the son of Captain Anti-America, I still coveted the Big Mac, the Cheeseburger, Hamburglar’s fries. I wanted to be served by Grabble or Grobble or whatever the fuck his name was and live in shiny-benchtopped heaven.
Dad always said no.
I probably only asked him once, but once was enough to get the theme of future requests, debates and discussions surrounding Maccaz. But, they’re a sneaky, evil, wicked bunch (in case you have
n’t seen Super Size Me or McLibel). They got to me eventually. Through school. Free Big Mac vouchers. I could hardly believe my luck. To a seven-year-old, this was the winning scratchie. I put it carefully in my bag and took it home. I had a brief panic when I couldn’t find it, and then another after I’d found it when I realised that the expiry date was the next day.
‘What do you want for lunch, Sam?’
‘Dad, um, I’ve got this, um, can I
, can we, can you take me to McDonald’s? I got a voucher thing from school.’
Silence. Unimpressed, disaffected silence.
‘Fine. Let’s go now, I want to make my lunch.’

McDonald’s. I was finally getting to go to McDonald’s! Not for fries or a cheeseburger, but a Big Freakin’ Mac!
We walked out to the car together. It was very hot and I held my voucher in my hand to make sure it didn’t blow out of the open window. We drove quickly to the McDonald’s on the Cross Rd intersection and parked in the car park. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but Dad followed me inside and up to the counter. I quietly gave my precious voucher to the man behind the counter and he turned around, yelled something and passed me a hot cardboard box.
‘You ready?’ asked Dad.
We went out and sat in the hot car in the car park. I opened the hot box and took out the big, not-so-big Mac. It had tart mayonnaise and orangey cheese and lots of thin shreds of warm lettuce kept falling out of it and onto my t-shirt. I felt a bit sick eating it in the sun, but I was still eating a Big Mac. I finished it and put the cold, soft edge bit back into the box.
‘Put that box in the rubbish bin.’
I got out of the car and walked across the hot car park and put the box into a bin filled with more greasy cardboard. After that we drove home and Dad made a sandwich and I never felt like McDonald’s again.
Take away the facepaint, the charities, the music, the quirky music, the toys and the worldw
ide safety-net for those who are squeamish about unfamiliar food and all you’ve got is a crap burger.
Like Halloween: take away the marketing, the money spent on dress-ups, the incalculable cost of taking on yet another aspect of American culture as our own and all you’ve got is an expensive sugar spew.


I would like to extend my congratulations to Tallora and Luke on their engagement last weekend, and in particular the immense amount of fun we had dressing up for their Halloween Engagement Party.


  1. Great post Franzy! Er, and made so much ~ahem~ better by the reassuring photos at the end!

  2. I love your argument, though I must admit to encouraging some of my younger cousins in taking up this little piece of Americana. We have several family members who really do put the mental into fundamentalism and I got a huge teenage thrill when I accidentally on purpose took my little cousins trick or treating along our dear old Uncle Lunatic's street.

  3. I'm not a fan of trick or treating either. and is it just me or is Macca's even more bland and soft than it was when it was first introduced here? You're probably better off eating the steamed wontons and bok choy pictured in your header.

  4. I know this is all sorts of petty, but...isn't Halloween originally Irish, or something?

    But hey, the whole trick/treat thing still reeks of *hack-spit* Americanism, so just carry on here and don't mind me. ;-D


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