Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I wanted to set an example. A bad example. Well, a good bad example. Not for my son, but for the men around me. 
‘Boys and their toys’ people say, wagging fingers and rolling eyes. 
Exactly. What is a boy with a toy, except for happy? And what’s wrong with happiness? 

Before we get all na├»ve about it, I’ll tell you what’s wrong with happiness when it comes from a  grown man clutching a metal thing he can see his reflection in and making ‘brrmm brrmm’ noises with his slightly moist lips. This slobbery gent has responsibilities. He has a family. He has a job. He has loved ones and limited time in the day. Happiness spent with his shiny metal thing is happiness spent in the absence of all those things one builds a fulfilling life around. Money spent on the shiny metal thing is money lifted away from comforts for those he shares his life with. 
Fancy Car can easily equal Selfish Dad. 
This is why Men In Flash Wheels are often regarded with suspicion. 

‘Who went without?’ is the question that readily springs to mind when we see two doors and a sloping bonnet. Of course, there’s no way of really knowing, but for my friends, there is.

I come across as a reader, I suppose. Car-Guyness is something I’ve kept hidden. The car helped me come out of the closet in a few ways, but one of them was putting that little germ in the minds of those men around me: toys aren’t bad. Cars are fun. (Well, fun cars are fun.) Since it arrived I’ve started conversations about cars and seen a faraway look of dreaming and scheming I haven’t come across.
‘Hell’ it says ‘if he can do it, it must be possible.’
Even entering your dream-date coordinates into carsales.com.au is fun. I do it for people all the time.
‘Look!’ I write in an email out of the blue ‘There’s one in Melbourne! Look how priddy! Look how actually cheap the stupid thing is! Sell the Camry! Roadtrip!’

No one’s actually done it yet. The toy, for my friends, is a symbol of a very well-balanced life. No one’s trading folded arms and The Face of Disappointment for a 12 year old Beemer with a timing belt of indeterminate status. These things have to be thought through. 
Toys must be earned.

So when I dropped by the in-laws yesterday, and saw a 350Z, in black no less, parked where a reliable station wagon should have been, I knew that in some small way, I had failed. 
The good bad example was just a bad example. 
The automobile that should have been able to ferry elderly parents and a child who cannot legally sit in the front seat was instead the black, sleek nephew to my own little slice of happiness.
I’ve never been a fan of the 350Z. As long as I’ve liked Skylines, 300ZXs, Silvias, GTRs and everything else, the 350Z always seemed a little bit buggy. As in: it looked like a bug. From a lot of angles, the tail is too long, the proportions a bit chubby. That’s usually fine. We all have our favourites.

Now it’ll always be the symbol of a dolt. A buffoon who thought of nothing but himself, until I, with the naivety of country kindergarten teacher on his first Tindr date, skipped by in the little piece of positive incongruity that I imagined would simply send imaginations wandering over to Gumtree > Cars > Under $10,000. Instead, I was saying ‘Let them all go without. Look after yourself.’

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