Sunday, November 25, 2012


We went Xmas shopping on Friday night. No, not for ourselves, even though it was Date Night. We wanted to get a cool present for our increasingly intelligent and increasingly (as it turns out) spoiled son. This year was the year of Lego. I have completely engaged Vicarious Dad Mode and allowed Mele to buy him all sorts of complicated sets for presents (notice how I implicate her in my deeds?). Xmas this year will be the kind of Lego-soaked Xmas thousands of children can only dream of. We have gone overboard. Not to say that more Lego wouldn't be welcome under the Franzy Xmas tree. I will have an awesome collection to play with every day Charlie will get a kick out of it once Daddy has finished building it for him.

So, Mele and I took a step into the future and bought Charlie ... a dancing robot. No kidding. These things actually exist and you can hold conversations with them, they tell you jokes, dance to music, go to sleep when you tell them to and all in this trilling, autotuned little voice. The future has arrived. Our Hoverboards haven't, but our robot friends certainly have.

Speaking of toys, has anyone actually been to a department store lately? The toy department in Myer, almost exactly a month out from Xmas was like the set of some dystopian, Eastern European horror movie. 
The lighting was the first thing we noticed as we crept from the lifts. Up on the fifth floor, it seems like the caretakers don't like to hang around long enough to replace the blown track lights meant to illuminate the Thomas the Tank Engine box sets and glandular plush toys. Almost like they're ... afraid to be anywhere that vulnerable for too long.

The shelves were stocked with strange little toys in among the regular, branded items. Plastic ponies with helmets and racing car bags share space with Dora and the Octonauts. Lego was stacked on one of the few remaining well-lit shelves, but curiously most of the real estate was given over to the highly collectible, completely fun-free architecture series.
Wow! Frank Lloyd Wright! No, this is heaps better than that Star Wars stuff!

It's as though the whole place was curated by the nutter from Se7en. I kept expecting to discover an aisle with jars of other people's toenails and photos of myself sleeping behind the Disney merchandise.

The dancing robot, 2012's Toy of the Year, impossible to get online, begged for across the globe, was piled in a bargain bin right up against the precipice that looks down into the Myer Centre abyss. I did glance over my shoulder when we finally discovered them. The clicketty scrabble of intelligent, clawed feet would not have been out of place up in that lonely, eyrie. Oddly enough, it was the cheapest we'd seen the thing. Click Frenzy be damned, no online outlet or Chinese PO Box Business could match Myer Centre's Grotto of Loneliness for price!


  1. I think that trilling autotuned little voice will drive you both nuts by end of day one.
    I haven't been anywhere near a toy department for five years now.

  2. You are right. We are going to learn parental lessons, not from the sensible advice of others with more experience, but from our own foolish errors in judgement.

    I would not advise returning unless you're into those scary theme parks where everything has cobwebs and smells like rat poison.

  3. I am so, so very glad that the toy department is no longer a shopping requirement for me these days. Lego for the nephews (and their father, my brother Dave) is the exception.

  4. I don't know how I used to stand department stores. I guess in Hobart it was the only option for a while.
    I look forward to a demonstration of the latest consumer gadget, but Lego would be fun too.

    1. In that case, Lego it will have to be. The place will be choking in it when you guys are here.


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