Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Donger and Mudguts

My cyber-sister Baino was recently ruminating on the Aussie predilection to shorten everyone's birth-given name to a nickname.

If its not been given the big "O" treatment - Thommo, Deano, Baino, Robbo, Daddyo; it's the "Ee" ending - Ready, Barnsey, Millsy; or the US-influenced "Ster" finale - Rodster, Jillarooster or Kenster.

More creative nicknames have been introduced - 'Bluey' for red-haired blokes or the more modern 'Fanta pants'; 'Sticks' for a tall guy I used to pick apricots with; 'Mudguts' for another picker who was wider than he was tall and loved to sleep under his ute at lunchtimes; and 'Donger' for a young guy who..... well, I wasn't interested enough to find out.

Naturally, it sent my own mind a-musin' on some of the names I've been called over time. No, I don't mean those that have been yelled out at me from passing P-plated cars, fellow drivers or personal enemies; but those given to me in the normal course of life.

I was a chubby-faced baby, so my folks called me 'Bubbles' after an SANFL player who had the same feature. This 'endearment' still sometimes slips out of my mother's mouth at inopportune moments. One was when Love Chunks still just 'the boyfriend' and thus still on his bestest most polite behaviour with my parents and sleeping over in the boys' room when we visited their place. Mum slipped back in time over a decade and whispered to me, "Goodnight Bubblees."

Desecrating my rather nice full first name - Katherine to Kath-urine - thanks to little bro dave. There's not much I can do with 'David' in return, is there, so I just tended to call him a turkey. Dad's always fond of reminding me of the time when I was eighteen, and home from uni for the weekend. All he overheard was me saying to Dave, "Look, I've only been home for five minutes and I'm already sick of the sight of you, you turkey."

Bauble - this one I hated, really hated. This one was thanks to my bigger - and therefore stronger, cleverer and more evil - brother Robert, who likened the end of my nose to Rudolph's. He was right - it looked as though the creator had stuck a ping pong ball on the end of my schnozz and painted it a pale pink colour. At eight years old however, the moniker made me cry and I didn't yet have the mental capacity (or the physical speed to escape the inevitable dead leg punishment he would have dealt out) to call him 'Rob the Knob' in return or to make a joke of it before anyone else did.

Cackles - earned from my Dad, during my teenage years. Like most girls, I seemed to have spent all of 1982 through to 1986 laughing, snorting or giggling. Usually at someone else's expense. Sometimes 'Cackles' was shortened to the less-than-cute 'Cack' by Dad or any other member of the family whenever it suited. "Cack, where did you put the keys to the volvo?" or "Ca-a-a-a-a-ck, it's your turn to weed the gardens today."

With 'Read' as my surname, I got 'Katherine reads by the river' or 'Katherine is a reed by the river' for most of primary school. 'Read' was also a source of hilarity for my students in the brief time I was teaching high school English until Mark Chopper Read's infamy spread beyond those he, ahem, disposed of. Then it was 'Chopper' from then on. And no, he's no relation. That I know of.....

During one confusing week whilst employed as a 'Graduate Trainee' at the ANZ bank, I received three bunches of flowers delivered at work plus a visit from an interested suitor from the university across the road. This was the only time of my life that it seemed to pour men - normally they were few and far on the horizon. Despite this - and settling, eventually, for none of them - I was called 'Stud' for the remainder of my time at the bank. I still blush just writing about it.

Finally, when I got married to my super special squeeze Love Chunks, my surname changed to 'Lockett', so I went from being called 'Chopper' to 'Plugger'. Just as feminine and as flattering. *sigh*

Monday, July 28, 2008

Amusing eavesdropping

In a slight thematic continuation of the previous entry, I've overheard some choice snippets this morning as I was out and about in Norwood:

"Well only one of us here has had a vasectomy" - adult female to male in the Koster park playground whilst supervising two toddlers on the slippery dip

"I've picked you a banana and a pear from the gum tree!" - four year old to her nanny
"Is there any cappuccinos there too by any chance?" - nanny to four year old

"Her nose is stuck in your shopping bag, Nona" - grandchild to his grandmother after Milly ran out to greet them at our gate when I was looking through the letter box

"I ate three of these yesterday and want to eat three more today," - girl taking my loose change at Duffy's bakery, eyeing the mini caramel tartlets sitting between us on the counter (I bought a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee instead)

"Yeah but how low down is the love bite, Thommo?" - young builder bloke to another, on their way to the public toilets at the park

"I don't think she can claim for an entire block or box of chocolates - surely she only needs to taste a few squares?" - Ashleigh the senior accountant to Amy, my accountant, from behind the divider screen***

*** He later agreed that I could claim the cost of a full block or box of chocolates after I told him the process involved in writing a review for after the process was explained in more detail:

1) buy the chocolate
2) photograph it in it's entirety - ie still wrapped
3) unwrap it and photograph it from a variety of angles, ala food styling or edible porn
4) slice said chocolate and take more pictures to reveal the filling inside.
5) repeat step four with more chocolate if the attempt is crumbly, unattractive, sticky or the photo is blurred (as with all good porn)
6) taste the product
7) write down tasting notes, opinions on the ingredients, presentation, sheen, cocoa content, quality, marketing materials, packaging, information about the manufacturer and mouth feel
8) complete and edit final review article and send to website owner.

His summary: "You have a wonderful job!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

"I like Bollocks"

Yep, I said that. Yesterday. Live, on radio.

Thank goodness my folks are caravanning around the North Western side of the continent or I'd have some fast explaining to do - especially if they'd just turned on and heard me utter that provocative sentence without being privy to the necessary leading up to it.

However, this is not the weirdest conversation I've had in the past week. Far from it. I might be married to Love Chunks the meteorologist, but rarely do any of my chats include any pithy remarks about the weather or what the carbon emissions trading scheme actually is about. If I give my grey matter a mental shuffle, this is what the memory cells have dredged up as my typical conversations over the past seven days:

Scene one: My wonderful mate Catherine, her mother Janice and my good self at a cafe in Kensington. All are eating delicious lunches after enjoying the movie 'The Painted Veil' for Catherine's birthday.

Me: "......yeah and it really annoys me when I read about 'Super Mums' or 'CEO and a Mum' kind of articles when they've got paid nannies, cleaners, chefs, personal trainers and PAs to help them. In fact, why would someone like the Queen even need to carry a handbag when she has a lady-in-waiting to deal with her every need?"
Catherine: "Well, even she must have needed a tampon occasionally, in her younger years I mean....."
Janice: "Oh I don't know about that. Tampons wouldn't have been all that common in her era. It was more likely to be a modess pad and surely she'd never have those in her handbag. What if it accidentally popped open at a palace ball when she was busy shaking the hands of dignitaries?"
Me: "Fair point. However it's still hard to imagine the royal hand appearing under the loo door asking 'the help' for a soggy surfboard every month."

Scene two: Love Chunks, my mate Jill and myself at our kitchen counter, Sunday morning. All three of us are sipping and enjoying the coffees made by LC via the gorgeous Gaggia machine.

Me: "So, are you excited about going to Germany tomorrow? It's such a great idea, flying over to surprise your pen-pal of thirty years at her fortieth birthday."
Jill: "Yeah I am, but I haven't been overseas since 1990 and things seem so much more dodgy now. I've borrowed about a dozen padlocks for all the zippers on my bag and am wondering if I should ask for an aisle seat or a window seat."
Love Chunks: "Forget the locks. If they want to search your bag, they'll just slash it, so don't waste their time. Grab the aisle seat, definitely. I like to pull the tray down, open all of my mini-meal fruit juices, milk triangles, ketchup squeezies and a glass of wine and then loudly sigh, pack up slowly and make the other person feel really bad when they ask to get past me to go to the toilet."
Me: (laughing): "Oh Love Chunks, you're so mean! Surely you don't want their bottoms brushing past your face when you can sit by the window and slump into it for more space?"
Jill: "Yeah the window makes more sense----
Me: "----and Jill you have a rock for a bladder so you won't need to bother an evil bloke like Love Chunks very often----"
Love Chunks: "------and whatever you do, don't accept a drink from a stranger no matter how nice they are to you----"
Me: "------because you could find yourself unable to account for several hours of time only to have a surly customs official inform you at the Singapore stopover that their x-ray just revealed ten condoms of powder up your colon."

Scene three: A freezing alleyway still in the morning shade near the Palace Cinema in Adelaide. A park bench is near the Elephant and Castle pub, with a few half-hearted rays of sunshine making it seem more inviting than hanging about by the wheelie bins and puddles of last night's vindaloo vomit.

Young lady: "Oh, you've reached it first, go for it."
Me: "I'm sure I don't look too weird for you to sit here also."
Young lady (pausing briefly): "Er, no. Do you have a light?"
Me: "I do actually, even though I don't smoke. It lives in my handbag and has been handy sometimes. Well, once, when we went camping three years ago."
Young lady: "I don't normally smoke this early but I'm nervous. And early."
Me: "For what?"
Young lady: "My first day at my new job. Receptionists for an architectural firm. It'll be a change from hospitality I hope. What about you?"
Me: "Oh, just hanging around waiting for the cinema to open so that I can watch a movie and write a review about it; then go home, photograph and eat some chocolate so that I can write about that and then work out what plausible excuse I can come up with to NOT volunteer myself for three days and nights as the 'helper parent' at my daughter's school camp next month, and, hey, wait a second, would you be prepared to let me interview you very quickly for a series of columns I'm developing, about local people from all over the state who---"
Young lady: "------Er right, um, I'd better get going. Don't want to be late on my first day."

Scene four: My eighty-seven year old neighbour has knocked on the back door. Sapphire is playing on her guitar with her friend, Maya, the 'Mamma Mia' soundtrack blaring in the living room. I open the door with Milly the dog at my heels and Skipper the rabbit on my shoulder.

Bob: "G'day Kath (he notices the rabbit). Oh, so this little fellow must be Skipper! (he strokes his ears). Oh yes and hello to you too, Milly (bends down to pat her). We've got some news to tell you."
Me: "Come in Bob. Is everything OK (yelling over my shoulder) - Sapph, can you turn the music down please?"
Bob: "Yes, yes. It's just that we've decided to sell up. This place is too big for us now and we've just bought ourselves a unit in a retirement facility in Leabrook. It's right next to the Chelsea Cinema."
Me: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that Bob. We've been neighbours for eight years and we'll miss you.
Bob: "Yes, well it's time for us to go. We'll miss you three too. Especially your singing and talking."
Me: (blushing in shock) "You can hear me when I sing to Milly? And when I come outside to feed the chooks and call out 'hello girlies'? And my chats to Skipper, calling him (pauses, feeling even more foolish) - 'Spunky buns'?"
Bob: "The whole show. In fact, Jude and I often sit outside under the pergola and get our days' worth of free entertainment from your performances."
Me (weakly): "Oh my dear Lord, I had no idea, none. Oh well, at least now you'll be able to go to the cinema and see the latest releases instead."

And that doesn't include:
  • The apology I gave to the seated man on the crowded bus. I was jammed in the aisle, and had to squeeze up against the side of his seat to let a passenger get off and accidentally swiped him in the head with my arse;
  • Comparing ailments with Sarah after dropping our kids off at school (period pains, low arches, achilles heels, dodgy runners' knees and adult acne);
  • Knowledgeably discussing the pressing issue of re-branding chocolate with the shop owner and the heartfelt disappointment we both feel that Mars can't be bothered making their peanut butter M&Ms here in Australia; and
  • Explaining to Milly's admirers - when she's tethered to the school gate waiting for me to pick up Sapphire - that yes, her breath smells as bad as her poos do.

Surely they're all better openers than "It's pretty cold today, isn't it?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only in South Australia

We South Aussies may like erecting a church or two, murdering folk in strange and convoluted ways and pretty well ignoring Sydney and Brisbane as much as we can, but we do have some positives.

Our food and wine, in my well-travelled opinion, are second to none. The influences of our much admired Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, German, Thai, Chinese, Indian and Nepalese immigrants have been huge on our cultural life and our cuisine.

Our Central Market is awash with spices, herbs, fresh produce, pastries, breads, cheeses, coffee beans and chocolates from around the world, and the food hall is sensational. There, for less than ten bucks, you can get a huge serving of Chinese, Hong Kong BBQ, Thai, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian or Indonesian food. Fresh, spicy and hot; just the way it oughta be.

What tickles me though, is our favourite beverage. Regardless of the chilli, cumin, prawn, goat, rice, durian or shitake content, THIS was dotted around every table in the packed hall:

Geez I love Adelaide.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fattypuff Schmattypuff

Diets Stink. That's what it says on my t-shirt, bought from 'White Trash Palace' online a couple of years ago.

Even though I heartily agree with the statement, I realise that I'm still on a diet.

After finishing the book at the end of last year, followed by several months of 'Yeah I'll eat that, I deserve it, my stomach could so with some more work/life balance', I eventually blew the dust bunnies from the bathroom scales hidden under the bed.

Somehow, on the 1st of January, the little red needle came up with a number that was far larger than I'd been used to. At least in my non-pregnant state. I felt ill and then ashamed at the memory of everything I'd shovelled down my throat in sheer abandon since working from home in June 2007 and reaching a peak of piggyness over the silly season break. It was 'Book Fat' and it wasn't pretty.

It was with great shame that I realised too that running six kilometres every second day did not keep the fat cells at bay. Instead, I was revelling in the moral superiority of having just gone for a run, and rewarding myself with a post-breakfast snickers/frog cake/wagon wheel/custard tart/six rows of Lindt. After all, thirty minutes of high impact exercise would certainly burn up the leftover carrot cake I'd have with lunch, the mid-afternoon choccy chew and the after-dinner M&M munch fest wouldn't it?

In Kath Land, it would be OK and also be a confirmed source of fibre, vitamin C and scientifically proven to improve my intelligence. In reality, unfortunately, it was not OK. That is, not unless I liked looking like an albino acorn and didn't mind my upper arms jiggling ten minutes after I'd waved my family goodbye.

Sucking in my stomach all day wasn't an option either, not when my daughter Sapphire remarked, "Mum, are you pregnant?" So much for thinking I'd breathed in my bellybutton up against my spine then.

The final nail in this cake lover's coffin were shop windows. Have you ever had that happy feeling when you're out? You know - you feel great, you've got a nice outfit on, you think you look pretty good until...... until you happen to see your reflection in a shop window. 'Is that what I look like out in public? Are those thighs really mine?' Any happiness you may have felt before the unwanted viewing then disappears quicker than a full fat frappucino in Britney Spears' crack hands.

What happened next was not that I joined a gym or hunted out raw vegetables and vegan meals, oh no. Instead, I dejectedly found the closest coffee shop and ordered a 'skinny' cappuccino and a custard tart, fretting about my reflection and inwardly cursing every little skinny bitch under 60 that walked by. 'Huh, she's only that size because she's so obviously a four pack a day lady,' or 'You need an arse for those jeans love', and 'Yeah right, why don't you breathe out and let your gut flop over your jeans, you fat fake.'

Despite the big butt and bitterness, I have been more 'careful' about what I shove in my mouth this year. I was pretty strict in the early stages, and Love Chunks could see that I was feeling rather miserable, and he said, "I'm sure it won't force the needle too far on the wrong side of the scales if you have a few squares of chocolate with me in front of the movie."

It was Nestle's Club Dark roasted almond, and I sucked my six squares as though I'd misplaced my dentures and didn't have the energy to get into my zimmer frame to find them. They had to last at least the length of the movie (2 hours 10 minutes) so even the damn nuts were sucked into oblivion.

The second breaking point was at the shopping centre. After cashing in a $20 book voucher at Dymocks (which of course cost me another $56 because bookshops are only second to cake shops in terms of irresistability), the lure of the bakery nearby was far stronger than my willpower. "One Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee and, ummm, a slice of that berry cheesecake over there," I pointed with my hand shaking in greedy anticipation. Ordering it felt so naughty, so wrong. 'Do not ruin it by sitting here trying to calculate how many grams of fat are in each slice', I told myself. 'This is your treat. You deserve this. Why, I don't know, but you do - you deserve this!'

A couple of hours later, my errands were done: I'd posted Sapphire's entry to the Kangaroo Club Colouring In Competition; picked up Milly's arthritis-curing fish oil and Skipper's bunny pellets, collected the toe-nail sized clippers on order from the chemist; bought some milk and found some face cream for less than $7. It was crunch time - did I dare step on the scales for a weekly weigh-in when -

a) I'd hadn't just got out of the shower but was fully clothed;
b) it was over three hours since I'd been to the loo;
c) my legs were unshaved;
d) my nose unblown; and
e) it had been a fortnight since cutting my nails?

'Yes, it is time Blubberbuns, especially seeing as you inhaled that cheesecake so willfully this morning,' I told myself harshly. Stepping on ever-so-gently, my eyes were squeezed shut and for some inexplicable reason I was sucking my stomach in. What did the red needle say? One kilogram less than last week - yee hah! Woo hoo! Maybe I could celebrate by breaking open that triple pack of Lindt Excellence 70% blocks and.....

And I did. My 'diet' since then has consisted of eating whatever - and how much - chocolate I want. The difference is that everything that else that gets inhaled must be of nutritional value. Also, I exercise more - 3 x weekly runs on the treadmill at 8km a pop (in 41 mins, 23 seconds) followed by a stress-relieving punching session on the leather tonsil bag that hangs from the ceiling hook and the one that looks like an enormous saveloy and weighs about as much as Kyle Sandilands. Add two karate lessons and two powerwalks (8km at a speed of 7.2km per hour with hand weights) and I'm trimming down, firming up and still able to enjoy my second favourite oral activity.

Sure, Sapphire predicts that soon all of my waking hours will need to be spent on the treadmill (and possibly some mid-REM stomach crunches in bed as well) to cope with my increasing cocoa addiction, but it's worth it. Life's too short to say 'no' to a row or seven of poo-brown heaven and reject it for a dried apricot instead.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Have you ever noticed .......?

One tiny dollop of toothpaste, dropped onto your dark shirt front will stand out like a fluoroescent blob of liquid paper ~all day~, no matter how many times you try to rub some water into it?
Could it be used to cheaply paint 'night view' stripes on bicycle tops?

The gooey, inedible remains of Weetbix, if left in the bowl for longer than three minutes, sets harder than super glue and must be soaked an entire day for each minute left unrinsed.
The local hippy hills dwellers could use it as a more natural (it's always the most wholesome breakfast cereal as determined by Choice magazine) adhesive for their mud-brick houses. That way they save can money on cement costs and maintain bowel regularity.

All over-publicised and celebrated 'Gen Y Millionaires Under Thirty' all come from wealthy families who either owned part of the company or lent them the money to start their own business?
Come on, recite the old eighties-recession joke with me: How do you create a small business? Give ~insert billionaire's spawn name/s here~ a large one.

Babies can lift their pudgy little feet up to their mouths and suck at their toes with minimal effort.
Yet later on in life when such natural gymnastic ability would be rather welcome in ~ahem~ our nocturnal nookie naughties, it is only the pornographic (see Pamela Anderson) or the depraved (see Paris Hilton) or the Circus Freaks (see previous two) that can put their ankles behind their ears?

We love our parents, appreciate how hard they worked to provide for us and raise a happy family and yet it is the biggest and lowest form of insult when your partner snipes, 'You are soooooo like your Mother/Father.'
Bless 'em both, but I don't want my father's hairy ear canals or my mother's ability to staccato-sneeze continuously for ten minute intervals.

When you politely sneeze into a tissue, you get nothing but air and tiny droplets.
But sneezing with your mouth open leaves an embarrassingly large snail trail either hanging out of your nostrils like green stalactites or splats straight onto someone's trouser leg. Especially if you're in the middle of a powerpoint presentation or at a romantic restaurant.

If you have small, innocent children with you and animals of any form are nearby, they will, without fail, either flop out their tumescent pink dangly bits or have a mad rutting session directly in front of you.
And trust me: there's only so many times you can say, "Oh, they're just play fighting" before they keep asking "Why" and won't take, "Just because, eat your cornetto" as an acceptable answer.

The more urgently you need to be back at the office, the less likely the tradie will arrive anywhere near the time (give or take six hours) he promised you yesterday he'd be there.
If you're renting, then it's even worse. The situation will be fixed just as you finally move out and the costs taken out of your bond money.

With the most decent and very best of intentions, you will always be caught farting.
Even the sly one you've considerately dropped at the front door away from your loved ones will be blamed (quite rightly) on you. These little bottie burps are like homing pigeons or heat-seeking missiles that will follow through to the living room, where, like the old saying it will hang around you. Like a bad smell.

Just as you insert three minties, a white knight and/or several fantails into your mouth and start to enjoy them, the telephone will ring.
The call will most definitely be for you and will require you to be at your most eloquent, persuasive and professional; which is rather a challenge when your molars are glued shut with caramel and you sound like a walrus burping in a cave.

There. Now use this information wisely and improve yourselves and the wider community you live in.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hating with Honesty Part II

An aspect of our culture that really busts my blisters is when we all think we have to like something just because everybody else seems to like it. I've developed a list of things I personally can't stand (aka known as the original 'Hating with Honesty' post) despite the rest of the world seemingly loving them to bits, and feel that it's time to add a second column.

Fashion. Speaking from the wisdom of being two decades older than the female market that most of the ridiculous styles of clothing is aimed at, I can also say that I'm relieved that I no longer feel the pressure to be 'in' or have the interest to be 'in'. Even today, on our way home after Yum Cha in the city, we popped into 'Trims' on Pulteney Street. The store is an Adelaide institution and you could always find a $15 pair of Levis next to some blundstone boots from the 1960s hidden behind the later models of thermal underwear.

Not any more. Levis are $149 *after* applying the 30% discount displayed all over the store and are in miniscule sizes or the unfortunate styles of 'low rise flares' or 'ultra skinny leg'. Not to mention witnessing the evil greediness of seeing decades-old converse sneakers priced at $89 -Trims, how could you?

Dr Who. Sorry Brit-nerds, I just don't get why this show has endured for so long. Lots of children were terrorised by the scary masks of various bad guys or the daleks but even at the age of seven, when Jon Pertwee was busy running around in his velour dinner jacket and frilled shirt, I could see the dodgy special effects and pathetic sets and felt contempt more than fright. Wobbly sets, ill-fitting rubber suits and monsters made of spray-painted loo plungers and egg cartons make it too hard to get into whatever ridiculous space-age, inter-dimensional delusion we were supposed to be involving ourselves in.

The latest doctor is the insane snake-like son from one of the Harry Potter movies and appears to be playing the role on intravenous doses of Red Bull and espresso. Any credulity is snapped further than a worn out bungee cord when a facelifted Kylie Minogue appears as the guest girlie and kisses him - could her forehead be stretched any tighter? Her eyebrows are in danger of meeting up at the back of her neck.

French manicured finger nails

These obviously fake, square nails with the white bits painted on are usually worn by chicky babes a bit on the chubbo end of the spectrum. As with their tiger-striped hair highlights or lined lips, they seem to think that having tombstones on the ends of their fingers will detract attention away from the size of their arses.

Perhaps they're right, but they still look hideous. They also tell the onlooker that their owner does sweet FA work with her hands - those babies ain't fit for gardening, washing, chopping veges, scrubbing floors, painting or scrubbing pots and pans. Maybe that's why their arses are so large. Do the French really have nails like these? If so, I thought that French women never got fat?

Shuttered houses

These external roll-a-blinds seem to be favoured by home owners who want security and already own properties that lean towards the ugly side. Protection and privacy from what I'm not completely sure - sunshine and views, maybe? Let's face it - if a burglar wants to break in and steal your stuff, he (or she) will be able enter your home by more ways than just the windows. Plus, having them shuttered means that they'll be able to rifle through your belongings at their leisure without being noticed by passersby.

The place I've photographed here is in my neighbourhood and seems to be permanently closed to the world outside, resembling a face without any eyes. Not having the windows visible removes all traces of the house's character (what little it does have). Ugly, pointless and inadvertently dangerous. Not unlike Barry Hall.

Clearasil - it annoys the living crap out of me that, at age 39 and a half, I've recently had to buy a tube of the skin-coloured stuff to combat the colony of dots that have appeared on my neck. Unfortunately, it still pongs as badly as it did in 1983 and lingers long after the t-shirt or pillow has been washed.

When our daughter Sapphire reaches the puberty/zit infestation/interest-in-having-sex stage of her young life, I'll be encouraging her to slather her face in this gunk under the pretense of having pimple-free skin - the stench will hopefully keep any potential de-flowerers at bay. Along with Love Chunks' headlock-of-death and 24/7 chaperoning system of course.

Batman movies. Sling these into the reject bin next to the Dr Who episodes. Why the movies are made to be so dark and serious when he's a comic book character wearing a tight suit with a face-obscuring black balaklava/mask ensemble based on a BAT is beyond me. How the hell did he manage to sew that on his granny's singer hidden at the back of the bat cave?

I find these oh-so-dark films unintentionally hilarious - Michael Keaton's camp pout had me sniggering and at one stage I wanted to know just why Gotham City didn't seem to know of the existence of fluoro tubes or decent over-head lighting (same with the couple in X-files: why use a torch to investigate a crime or UFO-scene when you can flick a switch, or better still, wait until daylight?)

Claire Hooper

I'll say it first - she's way younger and a damn sight prettier than I was, or ever will be. However her 'humour', especially when I was first 'introduced' to it by Paul McDermott on ABC's 'The Sideshow' was obviously so subtle and subliminal that I didn't even notice that its presence (is she his niece?). Granted, she's improved a wee bit on 'Good News Week' but somehow she seems to think that she's cute and this will therefore add 99% more hilarity to her act. Not for me it doesn't. It just makes me want to smack her smug horsey face and send her to Woolies to be their cheerful, free ranging 'price check' girl.

That Ryan Shelton guy from Rove

This tool should marry Claire so that he can be the bloke who sprays the lettuces in the fruit-and-vege section. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice chap to have a coffee with, or to collect up all the stray shopping trolleys and put them back in the special parking bays nearer to the shop's entrance.

Like young Claire, he obviously thinks he's funny, but surrounding himself with Rove and Hamish shows him up to be about as amusing as a dead kitten at a christening.

His little 'how to' segments on the show are painfully, get-a-brazilian-wax-in-slo-mo weak. Piss weak. If he's the future of funnydom in Australia, then let's bring in some of those hilarious Belgians, Uzsbechishtanis and Norwegians instead.

Justin Timberlake

All I want to say to Mr Timberlake is, "No, you're NOT bringing sexy back. Quite the opposite in fact."

Sexy is NOT a high-pitched, pasty-faced Michael-Jackson wannabe wearing a vest with blue jeans. If it was, the world's librarians would all be dating supermodels and promoting their own line of cardigans and pocket pen holders.

Frickin' FM radio stations - there are two reasons:

1) Deciding to stick with 'classic' songs but selecting only twenty of them to play ad-infinitem for the next two decades. There's only so much Barnesy, Farnesy, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Guns-n-Roses, John Mellencamp and Cold Chisel one can endure, and that was back in 1989. Nor, when they advertise a 'back to the eighties lunchtime mix' do I want to hear the same "ten songs that'll take you back". I swear that SAFM play 'Don't you forget about me,' 'Always something there to remind me,' 'What I like about you' and 'Let's Dance' as often as anything on the mushroom record label dating from 1980 to 1987.

2) Not bothering to tell us the name of the song or the artist/band who made it. We seem to get our 'fifty minutes of music without ads' peppered with the DJ reminding us that we're getting our 'fifty minutes of music without ads' between each and every song, but if a song pops up that sounds good - a rarity for me these days - I'd like to know what it was. But that's information they'd be giving away for free, isn't it? They want to me SMS them for the song info or visit their website in order to be bombarded with more advertising whilst searching for the playlist. What they've forgotten is that, unlike the 15 year olds who can watch 'Rage' on Friday night and Saturday morning without having to turn it off before their nine year old daughter sees it and learns that being famous means wearing a string-bikini and writhing suggestively over a gansta rapper - we have more disposable income and are likely to buy an album rather than a song download.

Actually, I have a third reason - 3) employing semi-retarded, no-talent, ex-reality tv 'stars' as zany breakfast show hosts. Why bother with wit, talent and the ability to think quickly on your feet if you can have someone who snogged a transvestite in the pool at the Big Brother compound or who was once the eyebrow plucker to a Hollywood star?

Whew. I think I'll go and have a GnT and a lie down now......

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shut the bloody door!

All youse non-Austrayan readers of this 'ere blog probably assume that our big bugger of an island is always hot, sunny and dry. To be fair, that assumption is mostly right, but we do have our four seasons like you guys do, just in the opposite order.

So while I'm reading your blogs about summer vacations, sunburn and strappy sandals, I've almost wrapped my legs around my tiny little oil heater as though I'm Julia Roberts doing the same to Richard Gere in the spa bath in 'Pretty Woman'. It's frickin' freezing here.

And don't just take my word for it. Even the foreigners from the northern hemisphere - hailing from much cooler climes than here - shiveringly agree with me.

Sarah, a Milwaukee native who learned from an early age never to go outside with wet hair or volunteer to shovel snowy sidewalks, was standing at the school gate the other day, clad in about three jackets, shivering in her shoes. London-born-and-bred Mick was next to her, waiting for his daughters to emerge; with Swedish Goddess Thorun shuffling rapidly from side-to-side and huffing warm air into her clenched fingers.

I ambled over and asked the most obvious, conversation-starter question that we say when we can't think of any other thing to start off with (and hate ourselves for our predictable lack of witty originality): "Pretty cold today, isn't it?" What an understatement: I had goosebumps on my flippin' head.

Thankfully Sarah is a kind person, and didn't roll her eyes. "Yeah."

Still mired in minus mental facilities, I stumbled on. "But hey, you guys are all from cold countries, so shouldn't you be used to this?"

They all politely swallowed their sighs and took the time out to explain it to me. Firstly, their countries have central heating as standard, throughout all of the rooms of their home.

Secondly they don't have vents installed near the ceilings that go directly to the air outside like we do.

    Why do we? I may not have set the world alight with my scientific talents in high school, but I do remember that heat rises. If the heat then has to compete with an almost-ceiling-high vent that is directly bringing in freezing air from outside, we can safely assume that the vent isn't being particularly useful or helpful in this instance.
    In summer time, yes. Or perhaps no. If heat rises then sure, we want to fling it outside, but if the vent brings in even hotter air from outside it's still being about as useful as a dry sponge in the desert isn't it, or am I not getting some vitally basic point?

Secondly, even their bathrooms have heating and warm towel rails. And by 'heating' they don't mean tepid old tastic lights beaming weakly down from the mould-speckled ceiling or a miserable bar heater up above the mirror (again with the heat rising issue - clearly not helping the poor nude sod standing on icy porcelain tiles several feet lower) either; they mean underfloor heating, a radiator, water proof carpets, cosy copper lined towel rails set to 'toasty'......

Here in Oz, most of us do a nudey-rudey Hop-Squeal-Scamper streak through our houses from the bathroom to the bedroom. For some reason, we all think that running through on our tippy toes will somehow make things easier and/or warmer for us and the added sound effects: "Oherr eek!" will help speed up our journey. With central heating, decent carpeting and a pre-warmed towel we'd be reduced to a languid stroll and a temptation to flash our partners and call out "Whoo Hoo, take a gander at these party pieces" before being told to leave the room and put something flattering on. I'm not sure that the overseas folk win this argument actually.

Mick pointed out that their toilets have windows that can actually close instead of permanently-open louvres. Yes, so do we - if you own a house that's younger than 1960, that is. The houses I grew up in, rented and bought all had 1950s style glass panels that were permanently fixed into the half-open mode. Not so great for privacy if someone wanted to use the hose outside nearest the window (extra echoing too, with all those floor tiles) and even worse for those 3am wee-wees spent gingerly lowering oneself onto the slab of ice that was once a plastic caroma loo seat whilst trying to keep the eyes closed and pretend that you were still asleep.

Torun mentioned their superior insulation. In Sweden they have insulation. Everywhere. Not just a few poxy old pink batts in the roof that are handy for rats and possums to eat and crap on, but in their walls. Plus double-glazed windows and lined floors.

We, on the other hand, either live in double-brick houses (moi) which do keep the heat out in summer for a few days, and the heat in during winter (for a few minutes after the heater's off). Brick venereal owners have an outer layer of brick and then some inner masonite that resembles a fully-plastered wall, but without the insulation, sound-proofing or expense. Add a lack of eaves, verandahs and a boxy second story and you have a home that needs 24/7 cooling and heating and has an energy star rating of minus three-and-a-half (or wait, was that for the movie 'Hey Hey It's Esther Blueberger'?)

Either way, if we're not blessed with energy-guzzling reverse cycle air conditioning, we have a gas or electric fire in the living room. This means that ever time anyone enters or leaves the room, the oldest person (usually the parent) automatically yells out, "Shut the bloody door! Were you raised in a tent?"

The room itself is usually furnished with at least two clothes horses crammed with damp socks, tracksuit pants (they shrink the dryer), school uniforms and jocks. Hopefully the jocks are placed on the wall side so that they're not the first thing that hits the visitors' eyes when they arrive. I've also been known to hang shirts over an exercise bike, door handles and the edges of bookshelves, and my mother has even spread out crockery in front of the 1975 Vulcan bar heater to warm up before serving dinner.

Thus, it is well and truly ironic that such a hot, dry and dusty country has winters that are even less pleasant than countries closer to the artic circle. And no, I don't know where we'd find the money to add in all the comfy extras that those countries have to make things easier unless beer, smokes, flex days, scratch tickets and pokies were completely removed from our culture.

In the meantime, there's only this idea.

After a lot of immature sniggering at Ray's Outdoors Centre - and a bit of explaining to Sapphire as to why I was taking a photo of a 'Dutch Oven Carry bag.' Hell, it looks as though it's even shaped to fit my two overly generous arse cheeks in.....

........ and I thought it was perhaps the cheapest way I could improve on home heating. Not sure that Love Chunks agrees with me.

Maybe we're all better off hiding under the doona and staying there until spring comes again.

Please shut the door on your way out, 'Kthnxbye

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Audacious Orange

Sapphire and I have been going to karate classes for about eighteen months now and have finally graduated to orange belt level. Love Chunks became more and more intrigued by our katas, blocking moves and - let's face it - how gorgeous we look in our white Gis - and joined up recently as well.

I'm sure the three of us make quite a comical entrance when we arrive, bow to the dojo (training hall), say 'G'day' to our Senseis (teachers) and then do our best to work up a sweat whilst also learning how bloody difficult it is to 'strike a pose' and use all of your body effectively to defend, counter-attack and hopefully scare the victim with a few very loud 'Kiaias' (yells) at the end of each punch.

I know that we certainly get more than our fair share of 'Hello there, looks like a family of religious fanatics off to harass travelers at the airport' when we're at the traffic lights in our white car, all three of us wearing white; let alone when we walk into Cibo's Gelateria after a hard lesson and stand amongst the beautiful people of Norwood, waiting for our Chocolate, Lemon Cheesecake and Roast Almond selections....

Back to the actual karate. We yellow (Love Chunks and about seven kids) and orange belted novices (Sapphire, a fifty-something couple, an 11 year old boy and myself) could clearly see the excitement in our Senseis and Sempeis when the lofty name, 'Rod Martin' was mentioned. Their voices dripped with awe as they described a man who had trained, taught and fought in Adelaide, Brisbane, Japan and London.

This pocket rocket had apparently had crammed more karate action into his mortal frame than Pamela Anderson had with silicone, plus found the time to study microbiology, acupuncture, travel, teach, raise a family. He sounded awesome, and kind of scary. Why were we lowly yellows and orange belt students also invited - did he need a before-class snack or some lowly wallahs to insert some practice needles in?

We entered the meat-locker of a gym on Saturday afternoon nervously and quietly. We sat and waited - no, not just because I'd misread the notice and turned up half an hour early - but watched and listened to his teachings. A very strange thing was happening. Not only could this bloke assume a Samurai stance lower and firmer than a midget's doorstep, but the Senseis were smiling, laughing even. Certainly enjoying themselves and eagerly copying his moves and his message.

Then it was our turn. We all stood there, doing our best heiko dachi (standing pose), wanting to show Rod that our Senseis were good teachers and we, good students. Or, at the very least, students who regularly attended and had the 'potential' to be good. He selected our Damien Sensei, aka The Duracell Bunny, for demonstrating the effectiveness of punching styles. Over and over again. We winced in shared pain and solidarity for him, knowing that whilst he wouldn't fall over, any one of the rest of us most certainly would. Bloodied, broken and crying.

Thankfully for us, Rod could see that we were more marshmallow than iron and he took a more scientific approach.
"Try to squeeze your sub-lateral tricep under quadrangular biological doo-flanger corpuscular semi-dorsal region in order to add real strength to your arm and shoulders...."

And He was off. It was a marvel to see - a world-class expert full of adrenalin, enthusiasm and knowledge of his sport and the philosophy of fitness and safety, taking us newbies along for the ride. Any muscles he couldn't name were probably not worth naming. Especially that punching bag whatsit that hangs at the back of your throat. .........

"Er, excuse me please Rod, but where's my sub-lateral tricep under quadrangular biological doo-flanger corpuscular semi-dorsal region you're talking about?"

"Under here," he pointed under his arm. "Tighten this and your arm will be stronger."
And it was. And there was a bonus to this new teaching - those pesky foodoobadahs - or flabby batwings under my upper arms - were also getting a workout. Maybe, just maybe, I'd be able lift my arm higher than my shoulder to wave goodbye, wear a tank top and do the Countdown cigarette-lighter wave at concerts again!

Rod's father was also there, quietly helping. "Pull your bum in," he whispered.
"I *am*" I whispered back. "Normally you'll find a couple of kids sheltering from the rain under there."

Somehow, that afternoon and the following morning, we learned a truckload of ways to make our punches stronger, moves firmer, shoulders looser whilst also being entertained and enthused by Rod's knowledge, communication skills, ability to perfectly imitate how NOT to do things and by the moves he showed us done perfectly.
Dare I ask him the most pressing question? Him, the man revered by karate students in three separate continents, winner of tournaments, teacher of thousands, the guy who could kick your arse just by standing next to you?

I dared. "Rod, tell me. How do you get away with not farting during class?"
Everyone stopped what they were doing, eyes on me, the annoying class clown, letting the side down, disabusing Rod that Adelaide was a progressive, intelligent and cultured place. I felt about as popular as dog poo in a dinghy.

He strode over to me. Crazy thoughts shot through my brain - was he going to use me for his kumite demo? Show me just why my pelvic floor needed work, my bum needed tightening, my gut strengthened, forearms broken in and my shoulders relaxed?
He looked deeply into my jittery, snot-green eyes. "That is why we Kiaia (yell) very loudly at the end of every exercise."

Oh. I learned many things that day. Most importantly: To try my hardest, look after my body and to have fun. Thanks Rod!

It is also the reason why I 'treat' myself to a fair bit of this stash when I get home afterwards.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A pox on both your brain cells!

DeepKickGirl aint one to hold back when it comes to an angry rant (and I mean that with the very deepest respect, from the heart of my bottom) and her latest is one that we can all identify with. Gym Gonads.

In DKG's case, these are the selfish gits who take up 'ten minutes only' parking zones out in front of the next door childcare centre for over an hour in order to make their necks fatter than their heads whilst preening in front of floor-to-ceiling mirrors in a sweat-soaked, 'roid-rogering orgy of time wasting.

Frazzled and time-poor working parents and carers simply want to rush in, collect their little under-age treasures and get the hell out of there. They only need a brief Stop, Dash In and Drop Off zone before moving on to the next item on their 'to do today' list.

DeepKickGirl saw another frustrated mother, waiting for a spot to park only to have a couple of muscled meat-heads pull in ahead of her and enter the gym for what she assumed would be for at least an hour. In a spot clearly marked 'childcare centre park - ten minutes only.' An angry discussion ensued and the mother was insulted and sworn at - in front of her toddler - and eventually had to leave to find a park much farther away.

Must we give in and instead force ourselves to behave as piggishly and as badly as the Gym Gonads, or should we heed our grandmothers' advice and continue to live courteously and considerately? My own mantra - whispered fiercely to myself on far more occasions than I'd like to admit to - is to live well. Living well is the best revenge, as the wise (and often the senile or very drunk) enjoy telling us.

Or mostly. For social suckheads such as the Gym Gonads, there is the luxury of time.... lots of it and opportunities...... You know that the Gym Gonads are inside trying to emulate the famous 'condom full of walnuts' look that Clive James ascribed to Arnold Schwarnegger in the eighties, and that takes at least an hour or two. One hour for the actual weight lifting, and another for the posing, flexing, mirror-gazing, self-congratulation and crotch scratching that goes on between sets. Or 'reps' or whatever it is that they do with their pecs.

So, if you're a mother driving a kid-friendly station-wagon or people mover, it is likely that there'll be a stray banana, caterpillar-made-from-an-alfoil-roll or cricket stump handy; rolling on the floor under the front seats, hidden underneath used tissues, empty freddo frog wrappers and finger paintings John West rejected. They all make ideal exhaust pipe stuffers.

For those of you that have managed to find a carpark and are brave enough to leave your cars, there's the good old car key scratched along the sides of their turbo-twat-mobile or even a hastily hammered nail in the front tyre. And don't ever forget the raw prawn slipped into the windscreen wiper grille.....

DeepKickGirl is, amongst many other things, a budding scriptwriter. Living in Sydney. It is therefore almost a dead certainty that she'll know a few out-of-work actors who could pose as a humorless parking inspector directly out in front of the gym and childcare centre. That'll get a gaggle of Gym Gonads out of their comfort zone faster than a well-oiled AFL player from an opponent's squirrel grip in the goal square.

Alternatively, she could get some stickers printed and when they're inside unleashing their lactic acid she could slap a sticker on the back of their cars. It'll be ages before they'd notice it, and in the meantime they'll be read and laughed at by quite a few childcare customers and drivers idling behind them at the traffic lights.

One day I'll find the spare cash to print out sheets of tiny stickers that I'll be able to whip out from my backpack in various annoying circumstances and slap on the back of offending vehicles. Here's a few that readily spring to mind:
  • Parking rules are for everyone else except me.
  • I am a mono-synaptic, poly-cretinous half-wit who can't read parking signs.
  • I have more money than sense which is why I'm begging for a parking fine.
For those who display truly execrable bumper stickers like 'If it has tits or wheels it's gonna be trouble' or 'no fat chicks, the bumper will scrape' or even the 'Here's the posh coat of arms from the private school I send my kids to so you better be impressed' bumper sticker - try:
  • I have the sophistication and intelligence of a rain soaked budgie smuggler
  • I am a virgin with halitosis, and destined to remain so
  • I have lots of money and have spent it on this car instead of donating it to a worthy cause
  • This 4WD has never been off-road and is never likely to
  • I voted for John Howard

To let you know that my actions speak louder than my words, I really let a bloke have it today. OKaaaay, so he was only ten years old and attends Sapphire's school, but the little ape was trying over and over again to fling a swing up and over the top of the support bar, thus making it useless.

I strode over the bark chips (which is quite difficult to do when you're in a fast-paced huff, holding a viola case, two terms' worth of school books and a fruit platter) and snatched the swing from his hands.
"Get out of here before I call the principal. Oh and I'm a TEACHER in case you didn't know."

Yes, I was a teacher. Once. Back in 1993, and certainly not at his school; but for all he knew I was an undercover educational agent prone to turning green if made particularly angry.

For the first time in ages, Sapphire looked impressed instead of embarrassed.

Bugger it; maybe I should find a local printer who'd be interested in putting together my sticker idea.