Monday, August 16, 2010

Your dipstick's showing

Here's a little family secret. Not my family, specifically, but most families who I am familiar with tend to keep this one under the spare bed when polite company calls. If you're reading this, then this is probably your family secret too. It's a secret because we're all educated people (well - we can all at least read) and there's something a weeny bit trash about This Big Secret That I Keep Hinting At But Will Not Divulge Yet For Some Reason.
The clue was in the previous sentence: trash.
Got it yet?
Need more word association?
Tabloid. Celeb. Goss. The Stories. Brangelina. Bennifer. Perry. Brand. Nicole. Paris. Lipo. R-Patz. Kristen. Tailor. The twins.TMZ, Perez Hilton, Who Magazine and The Vine. I just typed all those out without even having to go a'googlin'. They were right there, front lobe, centre.

Celebrity gossip.
Without generalising too much, almost every woman I know would have hit the green buzzer at least twice during the above list. But no one talks about it. Not to me, anyway. And why would they? Oh high and mighty I, with my books, my extensive mental Wikipedia of factoids and Simpsons trivia and my snide indifference towards all tales of professional entertainers and the trust-fund elite.
"Jannisten is still single?" I scoff. "Are you aware that I've recently finished reading On The Road and Raymond Chandler is among my favourite authors? Did you know that Stanley Kubrick used a camera lens originally built for NASA in order to film interior scenes in Barry Lyndon?"

No. Celebrity gossip journalism is to mixed conversation what the bucket bong is to high tea; one simply does not bring it along in the first place. Nor does one mention it, nor admit any kind of knowledge other than that which can be gleaned from public news stand posters which are briefly glanced towards (never studied) en route to the library.

Behind closed doors, I'm assuming it is a different matter. Someone is keeping Perez Hilton in pink hair-dye, but I wouldn't know.

But I am not here to (further) point out the vapidity of following celebrity gossip, because this blog entry is about to become the site of a further secret unleashed, and I would hate to get any mud upon myself.
I shall illustrate this with a quick story. A few days ago, Mele found an article on the internet which she knew I would find interesting and stimulating. She immediately unplugged her laptop and skipped into the kitchen where I was preparing my famous poulet proven├žale. No, dear friends, it wasn't news of an upcoming Jackson Pollock exhibit. But it was accompanied by this picture:

"Look!" she said. "The world's most expensive car!"
"Oh yeah," I replied, before she could further furnish me with the factoids and details which she had earnestly and lovingly learned from the article. "The Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic."
"It's ..."
"One of three ever made. Recently sold for between $30 and $40 million. Looks vaguely like a phallus."

For I too, am a gossip fiend. But I don't care about people gossip. I care about car gossip. There is such a thing. I know it because I've been in conversations with men (for some reason it's mostly men) who have recently watched a Top Gear episode. They'll start talking about it, because that show is a great font of what lad mags refer to as 'pub ammo'; factoids and stories with which to dazzle your fellow drinkers at the boozer.
"Saw the new Nissan on Top Gear," they'll say. "Looks pretty hot. Apparently they build 'em on a special pressure rig to get all the tensions and stuff right."
"Cool." That's about all I can offer, because I don't want to come out with the fact that I've watched that particular episode about 5 times since it originally aired in the UK two years ago and was made available for download over at Nor do I want to start that conversation either, because car gossip isn't like celebrity gossip. Celebrity gossip is finite. Brangelina can only adopt so many handbagsshitfuckimeantosaybabies per week. Tayluh can only procure so many new mates while making a new album/movie. S/he is only human.

Car gossip is based on car facts and goes on forever. Especially if you throw Top Gear into the mix. Most people claim that Top Gear makes a boring topic (cars) not only interesting, but massively entertaining. This is true. Not for me. For me Top Gear takes a fascinating topic (cars) and turns it into pornography. I am riveted, but slightly ashamed of myself, yet I cannot, will not, turn away. My wife is comfortable with this lifestyle. She has even enabled it at times, going so far as to buy me magazines and toys. I haunt car-related internet sites and pore over delicious pictures and numbers. So help me, I've even been caught watching grainy videos at work.

Which brings me, or should I say us (you can see where I'm heading gentlemen), to the Bugatti Veyron. This is every car gossip's starting point. This thing may well exist, but even in the metal, its whole could never be as great or as real and supernatural as the sum of numbers and facts which exist in the minds of everyone who's ever watched a Top Gear episode in which it stars, read a magazine article about it, looked it up on Wikipedia, typed it into Uchoob or all of the above.
Like me.
Like YOU.
If you know the word 'Veyron', you know facts about it, mate. And don't deny it. This is your secret just as much as it is mine. We don't discuss it with our mothers, we don't dissect it over beers with our friends, we don't try to get our ladies enthusiastic about it. But we all have our dirty little stash of Veyron numbers somewhere in the back of our brains. Behind the '80s music trivia which only comes out at quiz nights; behind the fashion knowledge which you don't remember collecting and behind the stuff from old Cosmo's you hoovered up in some bone-headed teenage quest for learning about girls. Behind all that is the dark, greasy little cardboard box marked "Veyron facts".
I'm not about start spraying Veyron facts all over this blog like a boring uncle after too many homebrews, but to bring this little analogy to a close, I'd like to illustrate the difference between celebrity gossip and car gossip.
I will now relay two conversations held between imaginary people. The facts are real, the people are not.

Celebrity Gossip Fan #1: Oh my god, have you seen how skinny Angelina is?
Celebrity Gossip Fan #2: I know. Look at that, it's just not healthy. And how many kids does she have?
CGF#1: Like, twelve now? I don't know. How does she look after them all?
She has a nanny. She's got to.

This goes back and forth a few times until the latest topic wears thin and CGFs move onto to other topics and become normal people again.
Observe now the Car Gossip Fan ...

Car Gossip Fan#1 (I should have chosen a better acronym): Bugatti Veyron? That's the one with a 16-cylinder engine.
Car Gossip Fan#2: And 4 turbos. It puts out 1000 horsepower.
Car Fan #1: And ten radiators. Did you see on Top Gear how it's got an air-brake?
Car Fan #2: Yeah, it gives as much braking power as a Ford Fiesta.
Car Fan #1: 0 to 100 in 2.5 seconds.

[Let us move away for a moment, and imagine these two conversations were taking place at the same time and continuing to their logical conclusion. Now let us move back and listen in once more ...]

Celebrity Gossip Fan#1:
I really don't like what Labour's done since the last election, but honestly if Tony Abbott gets in, I really will have to kill myself. And a Liberal voter.
Celebrity Gossip Fan#2: Yeah, I want to say 'Don't worry, no one would vote for that maniac', but the latest polls are so close. I mean, I can't believe there are actual women who are prepared to vote for a man who ...

[You get the picture. Celebrity gossip has long ago fulfilled its function as a conversational tidbit and the two people have moved on towards relevancy. Let's see what's happening at table number two ...]

Car Fan #1: ... and if the Veyron started as the McLaren went by, it would still catch it to 200 miles per hour.
Car Fan #2: But in that drag race over a mile, it was still so close because the Veyron's a heavy car, no matter how you look at it.

You'll notice our Car Fans haven't moved much beyond the Veyron in the ensuing half hour.

This is why celebrity gossip is a secret: it's private and fun to share.

But car gossip is still a taboo: it's embarrassing to bring out in the open, and once you do, there's no putting it back in the tube.

Broom broom!


  1. Yes yes, but how many cup holders does it have?

  2. Interesting question. I will answer it with a scenario-based question:
    You own a car worth $1 million. And man, you worked hard for that million dollars. Not just 'extra-work-home-on-the-weekend' hard. REALLY hard.
    Now you've got your million dollar car. It's beautiful. You love it. You love it more than family and friendship.
    How many sipable, spillable drinks will you allow near it, let alone IN it?

  3. ...what about an ashtray in the leather lined door, then?

    LOVED this admission Franzy and it's spot on. Love Chunks might veer on the side of footy, politics and gossip as opposed to cars but we all have guilty pleasures we indulge in when we're not ploughing through 'A brief history of time' or pretending to be riveted by QandA.

  4. Were I the million-dollar car owner, I would keep a pearl-handled pistola handy for shooting nearby smokers. I would defend myself via some cash-clad reasoning that I was defending my investment from irrevocable degradation.

    Re LC: Here's a test - go and ask him what he knows about the Veyron. I'm almost certain he'll come up with something.

  5. Bugatti? Veyron?
    You've lost me. I know nothing about cars.
    Except they won't go far if you forget to put the petrol in.

    I know a similar amount about celebrity gossip.
    I simply don't care about women whose main aim in life is to look like the stick figures three year olds draw, while amassing money and children at the same time.

  6. But surely ... SURELY you've heard of Angelina ... Don't tell me your eyes never float over the latest stack of gossip mags there at the counter ...

  7. I had a car once. It was a Toyota Corolla. It did me alright. In fact it never broke down! Must have been like some kind of undead zombie car or something HAHAHA.


    Honestly, the only topic of conversation I dread more is video-games. In High-School I used to read the synopses online just so I could pretend I knew what I was talking about, now I just walk somewhere else whenever it comes up.

  8. Jeez. Maybe I AM alone ... a burden on society ... a shame to my friends and family ...

  9. I'm so in love with the Veyron that I made it a character in a series of stories I wrote. Truth.

  10. Andy - I know it's true.

    DT - You. Are. The. Winner! I have secretly kept the first Australian Motor magazine to review the Veyron all these years and I still occasionally pull it out and dream.
    Then I go and find the magazine and read that too.



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