Thursday, January 29, 2009


I did many things over the Australia Day long weekend, none of which I'm proud of. Or rather I am proud of some of them, but that in itself is a source of shame.

Let me explain by comparing what I should have been doing, according to popular culture and the TV, and what I actually did. According to TV, I should have spent my Australia Day long weekend on the beach, wearing a floppy hat and an Australian flag knotted about my shoulders, playing cricket with a tennis ball and a stick and drinking beer until I puked in my esky.

But I didn't. I washed the car and my scooter, re-oiled the deck, bought a new microwave to replace the one that blew up on Friday, spruced up a dowdy cabinet, cleaned some of the dirtier windows and applied a liberal dose of TLC to my long-suffering house plants. I may as well have put on a housedress and pranced about the house listening to Tom Jones.

The dining room was worst. Not only did I clean and prune my plants, and clean sap off the floors and walls, and use my dustbuster to annihilate an ant colony living under a potted bromiliad, but I even went so far as the clean behind my paintings. Apparently the local bugs consider the reverse side of my art to be some sort of cross between a restroom and a graveyard, and the walls were quite frankly revolting, but that's a poor excuse. Once you start cleaning behind paintings you're only a step away from polishing the back of the fridge and windexing your lightbulbs.

So here I am. If I'd done the right and manly thing I could now have sunburn, a hangover and the need for a new esky. Instead I have a lot of healthy plants, a startlingly clean dining room, a deck that looks like new, a gleaming sports car and a sexy new stainless steel microwave. I'm so ashamed.


Okay, I've said it before, but this time it's serious. I'm on a diet. And this time it's going to work.

No, really. Cut out that derisive laughing! It only happens once every few years, but on these rare occasions I get an alignment of willpower, motivation and self-disgust that urges me to lose weight properly. It becomes more than just a vague plan. It's a project, and eventually an obsession. I have charts and everything!

It's challenging and just a bit weird. For a start, most of the time I can't actually tell if I'm hungry or not. I want food, but I can't tell if it's because I'm desperate for sustenance or because I crave taste and flavour. I also find that it's easy to push the idea of food to the back of my mind , even if it's right there in front of me. But if I get a good smell of it my brain goes bonkers. I huffed at an open bottle of Bombay Sapphire on Monday night, and the urge for a gin & tonic hit me like a brick to the head.

In an even more extreme instance, we had a going away party for one of the staff at work, and it was my job to cut up the big strawberry chocolate cream cake. No problemo. I've resisted cake before. But when I cut it and got a faceful of wafting strawberry liqueur and cream cheese icing and rich buttery sponge, I actually became ill. My poor body was screaming at me, Look! Carbohydrates! You're desperately low on carbohydrates! They're right there in front of you! WHY ARE YOU NOT CONSUMING THEM??? I felt hot and clammy and had to exuse myself from the party early, and didn't fell properly well again for hours.

Still, it's been just over three weeks and I've lost 4.6kg. So hooray for me! Oddly enough my pants still feel very tight and my belly doesn't seem to have diminished. My face looks thinner, though - obviously I'm losing a lot of fat from my head.

Sigh. Only 13kg or so to go.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Question: I just looooove Michelle Obama's fashion sense!!1! Where did she get that outfit she wore in the parade???



Well, the cost of Obama's inauguration was quadruple the amount of Bush's in 2004. They had to cut back on expenses somewhere.

When questioned about her outfit by reporters, Mrs Obama merely responded "Fiddle dee dee!" and flounced off to see Clark Gable.

*Basic joke and images stolen shamelessly from

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Juicy (Addendum)

What can one do in these situations? I asked in my last post. Is there a card one can hand out?

Well there is now.

No need to thank me. Just use them wisely.


What is it about my particular part of Perth that encourages inveterate butt fondling?

I was standing in the checkout queue at my local produce market. In front of me was a woman in her thirties, lightly dressed in cheap summer clothes. Over one shoulder blade she had an immense tattoo of a tropical flower in bright pinks and yellows, giving the impression that she'd recently gone out in the rain wearing a lurid Hawaiian shirt that wasn't colour-fast.

Her partner was an ordinary man for this end of town; a little overweight, a little overtattooed, and a little underwashed, with a receding chin and puffy eyes. But apparently in her mind he was some sort of red hot sex monkey, because she was pawing at him like a dog scrabbling at the side of a garbage bin filled with bacon scraps. Specifically, she was lasciviously groping his butt, as if she was trying to find a pair of this season's Jimmy Choos that he’d hidden down the back of his pants.

No, I'm not exaggerating. I don't mean that she had her hand negligently resting on his lower back. I mean cupping, stroking, squeezing, and, to my horror, even a hint of crack action. I had to avert my eyes and grip my shopping basket tightly, lest I be overtaken by the urge to grab her by the shoulders and shake her while shouting SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP WOMAN LEAVE HIS POOR ARSE ALONE!

Occasionally she would pause her rigorous butt fondling regime to run her hand across his shoulders, or down his spine, or through his hair, but she was primarily a booty girl and concentrated her attentions on that particular region. For his part he showed no sign of noticing at all, treating her as if she were doing nothing more than standing idly next to him.

Every once in a while I come across these women who apparently believe that if they cease intimate physical contact with their man for more than two seconds he will evaporate, leaving nothing behind but a pile of dirty clothes and a haunting whiff of Brut. Alternately, maybe they fear that without constant low-level sexual contact he will lose control, push them aside, leap over a bin filled with discounted pears and ravish the girl restocking the seafood freezer... or, more realistically, that he will wake up from his sensualised doze and think, "Wait a minute, why am I partnered with this lank-haired slattern?" and break up with her on the spot.

What can one do in these situations? Is there a card one can hand out?

Monday, January 19, 2009


I’ve been playing Half Life 2 recently, having finally been able to wrangle a copy from not entirely legitimate sources.

If you maintain a certain aloofness from the sad, Cheesy Poof-dusted world of gaming, or at least pretend to, you may have missed the phenomenan that is Half Life 2. It's a hugely popular first person shooter released in 2004. In it you play Dr Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist possessing an unlikely ability with crossbows and laser-guided missile launchers, who must rescue the remnants of humanity from alien overlords known as The Combine. This involves running around a crumbling urban landscape shooting bad guys, solving jumping puzzles, and desperately scrolling through his available weaponry looking for the right gun while being swiped at by an alien zombie that just popped up out of nowhere:

Ow! Okay, close quarters large target, that OW! sounds like a job for the shotgun OW! So I’ll just scroll to OW! that… oops, too far, that’s OW! the crossbow, I’ll just scroll over to… OW! no, that’s a grenade… I’ll OW! scroll again… well OW! the .357 Magnum is OW! close enough… BLAM!

The characters are exquisitely animated, without the inhuman blockiness that plagues other games, and the environments are beautifully rendered and evocative. While the occasional jumping puzzles are annoying, most of the time the gameplay is natural, with little of the “monster suddenly materializes out of thin air behind you” nonsense that game designers use to generate a cheap adrenaline jolt.

It’s been a lot of fun (highlights include the moment in which you must use a crane to drag a shipping container across a wharf, smearing a platoon of bad guys across the concrete like a housewife wiping down a countertop) and I think it sits just below Bioshock as my all-time favourite game. And I’m not alone in this assessment. The internet is rife with obsessive Half Life 2 fans of varying skill, creativity and personal hygiene levels.

On the one hand we have Christopher Livingston, creator of the much loved Half Life 2 satire comic “Concerned”, which uses a modified Half Life 2 level generator to illustrate the story of Gordon Frohman, a naïve schmuck whose adventures mimic Gordon Freeman’s, only without the heroism, intelligence or salvation of humanity.

On the other hand, however, we have squirrelking, a fanfic writer with negligible English skills and the narrative eloquence of the average sock. His illiterate blathering was destined to sink without a trace into the sea of fanfic ignominy, until it was appropriated by other, more talented people. They took his fan fiction and used it as a script for Half-Life: Full-Life Consequences and Half-Life: Full-life Consequences 2: What Has Tobe Done, two little videos that are made up of bafflement and hilarity in roughly equal measures.

Please enjoy them both, taking due care not to laugh your head off at the dead pants gag. I’ve only just now got my head back on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


A few years ago I noted in this blog that band names tend to run in trends. Pretentious strings of florid words in the 80s (Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet), single nouns in the 90s (Oasis, Blur, Nirvana), and the definite article plus plural nouns in the early 00s (The Shins, The Strokes, The Hives, The Killers).

In the late 00s, however, we have moved on. Right now the trend in band names seems to centre on Wild Animals. Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Caribou... it's like every indie musician from here to Glastonbury gets hit with an idea to form a band while lurking outside the Lords of the Tundra exhibit at the zoo. Every morning I wake up to music on my local alternative radio station, pretty certain that I'm going to hear the latest groundbreaking single from Pygmy Shrew or Orange-Bellied Parrots.

What can explain this bizarre round of groupthink? It doesn't help that most of these musicians seem to have been cast in the same mould already - a bunch of lo-fi stoners who think that the unkempt beard is the only conceivable alternative to emo hair. I say get a haircut and some chinos, hippie, and maybe you can come up with a name that actually means something.

Maybe this is why I like Vampire Weekend. Not only have they bucked the trend name-wise, but they're a nice group of preppy boys in pastel polo shirts who sing songs about the intricacies of grammar at the Oxford University Press. If you hung out with them you might get invited to their parents' place in The Hamptons for the weekend. Hang out with the Fleet Foxes and you'd probably just get day-old lentils.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Three vignettes from my trip to the supermarket this evening:

Vignette 1: A swarm of bogans were stampeding through the supermarket. Judging by their attire they had just come from the beach or a public pool. There were at least three children - two boys in board shorts and rats tails, and a little girl in a bikini – who ran about shrieking to each other and to the adults.

The younger adult, a woman in her early 20s who I assumed was their mother, waddled about in a black one-piece with a towel wrapped around her waist. She was massively obese, more like a selection of large jellies moving in close formation than a person.

The older adult, a woman in her late 30s who I assumed was their grandmother, was as desiccated as her daughter was massive. She was brown and leathery and extensively tattooed, with tired hair dyed a shade of blonde that suggested her bleach bottle had given up trying.

I could hear them all through the supermarket. I’m pretty sure that the unfortunate little girl’s name was Shania. And let me tell you, nothing shrieks across a crowded supermarket like “SHAN-III-AH!” in a bandsaw-like Australian accent.

Vignette 2: I was standing at the meat counter, considering chicken portions, when I felt someone’s hand gently but quite deliberately touching my butt.

Oh great, I thought. I’m being fondled in the supermarket by someone who I’m pretty certain isn’t going to be Gisele Bundchen. Now I’m going to have to run away to the dairy section and try to lose whoever this is.

I turned around to see a little boy, about three years old, reaching up and touching me in that way that toddlers do when they expect a parent’s hand to be within reach. My movement made him look up, and while he had a sudden expression that said, Wait, you’re not one of mine, he didn’t seem too perturbed.

“Sorry kid,” I said with a smile. “Wrong adult.”

I can’t be sure but I think he gave a tiny shrug, as if to say “whatever”, then skipped off.

Vignette 3: My cashier, a homely teenaged girl, had finished scanning my groceries and took my credit card. She produced the receipt, then reached into her bra, pulled out a pen from between her breasts, and handed it to me so that I could sign.

I’m pretty sure that there must be a niche market for this sort of thing, but frankly I’m not in it. I don’t want to use a pen that’s been sitting down the front of someone’s underwear for most of the day. Especially since we’re in the middle of a very sticky heatwave. Not to be all fastidious or anything, but ewww.

I've got to move to a better suburb.

Monday, January 05, 2009


This is the creepiest Christmas video you will ever see.

On the plus side, it does offer us conclusive proof that children are shallow, selfish, venal creatures. It’s important to remember that at this glurge-ridden time of year.