Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Give me half an hour, smarty pants, half an hour!

Like most people in life, there are so many times when a mean comment, yelled-out insult or snide remark is thrown at you and it is impossible to think of anything remotely witty to fling right back at them.

I have tended to blush, or back away, feeling as though I'd deserved it. It would only be a few minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years later that it would finally dawn on me that the best form of revenge is/was to serve a clever-but-cutting comment straight back; leaving my mean-spirited foe on their back foot and looking rather foolish.

However, as I've got older - as in had a child and embraced being in my late thirties; turning the radio off instead of on and accepting that flopped on our sofa with Love Chunks is my favourite nightspot, I sometimes manage to strike back in time.

This morning was one of those miracle occasions. It was forecast to be a 36C day here in Adelaide and was already pretty damn hot as I huffed and puffed my 3km on my bike uphill to work. Halfway through, my side-street route is forced to cross a very busy main road, and I always wait for ages on the median strip until it's really, truly, utterly safe for me to cross.

Whilst leaning on the curb with my left foot on the ground (I'm far too nervous and inexperienced to balance like the cool fitness freaks do), a chunky oldish bloke in a white van pulled up alongside me. He wound down his window and called out snidely, "Nice arse, darlin'." No, it wasn't meant in a 'Whip Wheel - you're HOT' kind of way: I'm smart enough to have realised that those sort of Razza Matazz moments don't happen once you've entered your fourth decade. Sadly, it was a 'Let's knock that smug sheila off her high horse so that I can feel good about myself' kind of comment. Sure, my backside isn't the smallest in town, but hey, at least I was out there trying to get fit.....

Little did this clueless cretin realise that my brain had already been busily buzzing with ideas for today's blog - what to write, what to write - why we always tell those who compliment us about our outfits that it was a bargain from K-Mart, and only mutter 'oh, thanks' when it came from somewhere posh? Or, how come I'd never heard the alterna-phrase for 'Old Boys' Club' until yesterday - Dick Links? Was there an opportunity to have a light-hearted discussion about the proliferation of strangers being really friendly to me until they realise I am not who they thought I was - my doppel-ganger must be from around here also.

My wee digression there was to set the scene - I was ready for this jerk, really ready. One nano-second after his oh-so-funny "Nice arse, darlin," I shot back angrily with, "Nice gut rolls, Butter Boy."

His response was to give me the finger (the bird, unfortunately, not a chunky Kit Kat), wind up his window and look pointedly at the traffic until he could escape my now angry face with a mouth so thin it could have been drawn on with a ball point pen. The remaining half of my bike ride was just as physically draining as the first half, but my spirits carried me along like a herd of John Cusacks tenderly supporting me on a cloud-lined stage dive. I had scored a victory for all women - and men - out there who are innocently walking along the street and get stuff like "Show us yer tits," or "Look over here if you're a poofta" thrust upon them. The very same people who then feel dirty and ashamed, and slink off as though it was their fault that they were so crudely insulted.

If only I could travel back in time to Phys Ed in 1983, when Melissa called me a brown-noser for daring to speak to our teacher, Mr C. At 14, I went red and dropped to the back of the class, to her nasty laughter. What would I give now to have said, "Oh, what's that huge thing hanging off your arse, Melissa?....(pause)... Oh, sorry, it is your arse." At the ripe old age of 38, a slap-fight in the girls' toilets at recess time would have been worth it....

Perhaps flick the time-travel dial to 1988 when some sad man decided to 'flash me' his dangly bits whilst I was walking to uni through the Botanic Gardens. My reaction was exactly what he was looking for: a shocked intake of breath, and a hasty retreat, again to the sound of nasty laughter. If only I could have borrowed my flat mate Fiona's comment to a bus-shelter loser, "I want a meal, not a snack." As you can imagine, he zipped up and got the hell out of there to her amused, victorious laughter.

Maybe the machine could be set at full-throttle to 1977, when the snobby-and-bored Mrs D said to me, a 9 year old, "You know, you mum should buy you nicer clothes, none of my kids would ever wear hand-me-downs." The puzzled and hurt little girl would now be able to sting back with, "You know, you should finish school, learn some manners and help out people less fortunate than yourself - none of my family would be caught dead getting their jollies from insulting children."

Ah, if only. Still, to even land one in one hundred makes a fantastic start to the day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meanie Mondays

This is hard for an Aussie to understand, but it was more difficult than usual trying to find celebrity fashion funnies. Something to do with Thanksgiving and yanks being forced to eat entire roast turkeys and wah on about the Mayflower or the like. Despite having to spend five minutes longer than usual, our favourite sartorial suckers were still about and didn't disappoint.

The tabloid presses have all been salivating over the new best friends, Paris and Britney. Since this photograph was taken, Sh**ney has apparently 'done a Lindsay' and been caught on camera without knickers which only adds to the classy look she's clearly going for in the picture on our left.

Let's forget Paris for a moment (who'd have thought that that sentence would be written in terms of ridicule) and focus on Courtney Love's younger sister on her right. Drunken straps, breasts about as under control as a sackful of puppies, her map of Tassie mercifully hidden by a satin coat (not matching) and white vinyl K-mart shoes. The look is completed with extensions that have left an innocent shetland pony with it's arse exposed to the blowflies and a baby belly that's not exactly flattered by the leopard skin print covering it...

Paris looks almost reasonable if you discount the fleecy split ends and the fact that she needs to put a sticker on her leg reminding her to breathe every thirty seconds.

Ah Mads, you're looking more and more like the ageing tranny in 'Priscilla' every day, aren't you?
If the eyebrows get any higher they'll end up at the back of your neck looking like a hairy advertisment for McDonald's.

The horizontally stretched face up close looks too much Betty Davis in her latter years - it's time to tone down the makeup instead of spakfilling in the gaps, love. And remember - and this is to all gals out there who like to colour their mouths - lipstick should stay on just the lips - any painting done around the outside looks misguided, envious and, frankly, insane.

Her skin appears to have been dermabrasioned, hermetically sealed, steamed and stretched to albino-snakeskin perfection and yet..... she's the scary clown from Poltergeist. Heaven help me if I found that smiling at me from under my bed, let alone writhing on the floor telling me 'I'm hung up, I've got a crush on you-oo-hoooo..."

J-Ho actually looks quite good, in a triangular, alien-faced, wax doll kind of way. I wonder how long it took the museum curator to bend her arms, hips and legs into that pose and how much longer it took to get to the diva display mannekin to maintain a posture like a normal human being after the photographers moved on to chase Paris.

It's the face - much more so than the the re-use of grandma's chenille bedspread as the dress fabric, the purse earrings or Jaclyn Smith hair.
Too bad if she feels surprised, annoyed, delighted or just had the holy crap frightened out of her, because our buddy Mr Botox has reduced her acting range to the gamut of emotions from A to A - one disdainful mask. At least it might finally hamper her efforts to sing for us again.

We've all seen Val Kilmer's infamous beer gut down at his local beach a few months ago but the caption under this image on our left was gushing about how well he's scrubbed up since then.

Hmmmm, maybe. If he's prepared to change his last name to Kipfler. As is potato, that is. Then yes, he's scrubbed up well (har hardy har har).

He'd better stay clean shaven, or some cafeteria dishwasher is going to go at him with a sharp knife to cut out those annoying little eyes that keep springing out of spuds that are too old to eat.

As the Kingston Trio once sang, "...and they called the wind Mariah..."

How prophetic they were. Either Mariah's lyrca's been inflated with a few farts she's let slip at the latest Disney launch or she's late for Halloween and dressed up as a bunch of overripe cherries.

Those thighs, lovingly roasted, could feed all of the orphans that Brad'n'Ange didn't adopt in Malawi.

We end with the only contender against Kate Moss for Celebrity Mother of the Year, Courtney Love. The topless here pic is the cleanest one of the session.

In those photos, it's painfully clear that she's had a brazilian, found an onion string bag she'd like to wear, had a bit of an overhaul done on the rack and wants to show us all. Why we'd want to see it all, I'm not sure, but at least she's not pregnant to a bloke who's in rehab more often than he's in his wife-to-be.

On a serious note, let's hope that Courtney has given poor little Frances a pep talk on how to respond to, "Hey Beanz Meanz Fartz, your mum's got her mammaries and muff out again," with something other than "but it paid the rent and my nanny fees this month."

Friday, November 24, 2006

You might have guessed that I like a bit of chocolate every now and then...

...which is a tiny bit like stating that Kate Moss likes her men a bit on the naughty side or that Paris Hilton just might be running the risk of ending up more bow-legged than an 1880s cowboy.

On a lazy morning a couple of days ago, I was chugging up the hill in my pro-magnon magna and was kind of listening in to SAFM's 'hilarious' morning show. The usual stuff - 'kooky' crew + hard-working un-credited straight man who has to push all of the buttons, remind us of the news, weather, traffic-jams, program in the crap music and shove in the taped advertisements that sound about as professional as Mr Cunno's out-takes.

Seeing as we're about one week away from the non-ratings season, and said 'hilariously kooky morning crew' will then get until February off as a 'well-earned break' but their straight man will still have to get up at 4.00am to look after the fill-in fools, they were clearly struggling for comedic talk-back matter. Hence, the most obvious subject of all - how many listeners out there like chocolate?

All of the callers were female which wasn't a huge surprise to anybody. All of them professed a love for Tim Tams, fruchocs and Cadbury's - especially at a certain time of the month, or if home alone with a decent chick-flick DVD. Amateurs, I snorted to myself. Fools! A true chocolate addict doesn't need to jam up a switchboard in the hopes of scoring a Robbie Williams CD.

No, a true addict hides their addiction. A true chocoholic realises they're addicted; that it is unhealthy, expensive and unflattering for the figure, yet they don't care. They (we, I) embrace this. Why the hell do I run 6 kilometres three mornings a week, ride my bike to work twice and week and do karate? To get fit and be strong? Well, yeah, but mostly so that I can EAT MORE CHOCOLATE. ALL THE TIME.
My love of chocolate has driven me to extreme and dedicated levels of exercise and fitness. With the amount of physical activity my body is subjected to, I should resemble a marathon runner who's lost weight after a gastro attack. A thin strip of beef jerky with ropey veins winding their way up my arms, veins that are thicker than the arm bones themselves....

Instead, a recent in-house university fat'n'fitness test (thankfully I fell into the 'normal, control group' category and not the OMIGOD - she's bloody HUGE group) showed that I was way waaay fitter than the average woman my age or younger, but had a body fat content of 26%. Yes, you obsessed, calorie counters, it should be between 20-25%. Fit but Fat, that's me. So why the hell should I give up being a chocoholic? I should have a body fat content of 43% which is average cocoa butter standard for decent chocolate, so I'm way ahead baby, way ahead.

In my stress-a-holic days at my previous employer, I'd kick off my 7.30am start with a King-sized Caramel Kit Kat, followed by a Wagon Wheel (full size, not those kiddy pack ones) and wash it down with 600ml of the finest drink in the world, Farmers' Union Iced Coffee. These days, I might not do that every single morning, but boy-oh-boy, is the Choccie Monster screaming out my name by 10.00am...!

Having the university cafe directly underneath our office is either a good or a bad thing, depending on your situation. Before John Howard decided to remove compulsory student unionism, the shop was subsidised, meaning - oh glory of glories - chocolate bars were cheaper there than even the supermarket. Now, they're supermarket prices, so I don't have to dash up to Foodland and snatch up 10 crunchies and 5 dove family blocks when they're on sale.

Winter makes things worse. One day (this is true, my darling Love Chunks, I'm ashamed to say), I was up at Foodland getting sensible stuff for work (dishwashing liquid, notepads, teabags) and spied those 135g 'gift boxes' of Lindt balls for only $5.99. They are normally $9.99, and rarely have the dark blue boxes containing the dark ones. BARGAIN, I thought, snatching up three boxes - I'll take them home to share with Love Chunks in front of the telly and....

.... they didn't even make it out of my office. I'd absent-mindedly open one box, swear I was only going to suck one and keep on proof reading, typing or working away at the keyboard. Less than thirty minutes later, my jiggling leg, sticky face and bloated stomach would reveal that I had in fact inhaled all twelve. Three days in a row.

On those very same evenings, after Sapphire was in bed, Dogadoo asleep in her bean bag and a DVD on the telly, Love Chunks would ask, "Fancy a choccy square or two?" and immediately duck into the kitchen. He didn't even have to wait for my answer, and would return with a large tupperware container in which he'd thoughtfully already broken up four family blocks of chocolate into convenient, mouth-sized squares of two. That's the kind of man he is, dear readers - caring, sensitive, considerate and possessing the rare skill of being able to do all this without scoffing half of it halfway during the task.

Knowing that I'd already inhaled twelve Lindt balls, my chocoholism would still permit me to reply in a 'Oh, how lovely, how kind, how nice' kind of voice, "Oh, that'd be great", as though I'd spent the day eating only carrot sticks and mung beans. Twenty five handfuls of LC's squares later and my day was complete.

Multiply that by at least 200 and you have my average year. Bring on 2007!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm angry, really angry!

I got a parking ticket today and I am taking a stand. I am NOT going to pay it. Ever. What 'contracted, external parking provider' (ie not my employer, the university) is going to jail me for non-payment of $25?

Perhaps a better question is - why are universities charging for parking in the first place? The poor students are already paying HECS, books and other stuff that's on the increase year after year and it's not as though we are crammed in the CBD - we're out in the burbs here. As 'My Little Zombie Finger' (google her blog) has remarked to me, "If they insist on making a few bucks out of us all, why not at least do it via salary scale? Nothing for students, a tiny bit for PhDs and admin and heaps more for professors?" Why not indeed.

Instead, the uni has out-sourced the patrolling of the carparks to some external bunch of buzzards who I have yet to see in person. Perhaps they can shape-shift like the baddie in Terminator 2 or can not survive out in full sunlight for more than a minute. Whoever these little maggots are, they clearly have their beady, greedy little eyes fixed on each of the reserved 200 parking spaces and catapult themselves with glee over to the offending vehicle to sticky-tape a ticket onto their windscreen and then spring back into their coffins. What a fulfilling career choice that must be.

My boss, Queen B, has a permanent parking space that she pays for out of a salary sacrifice scheme every fortnight. Her spot is the pick of the bunch - right outside of our building. My compadres tend to try their luck and plonk their cars in the paid car park at the staggering sum of $1 per day. This can tend to be a bit more challenging when it's compulsory tutorial time and not swotvac.

I, on the other hand, have been proudly embracing my Scottish heritage and long-forgotten urge for extreme thrift, because - on the one or two days per week I drive instead of bike to work - I park about a kilometre away. It's the only free spot within 2km of the campus that's not paid or signed: 'Max 3 hours during university term days'. This secret little gem is tucked in behind the local Italian cafe and independent cinema, and my 'reward' for parking gratis is to find my 10 year old station wagon splattered with bird turds that could only have been dropped by freakishly large kookaburras.

Anyhow, this morning was different. I had stopped by our local shopping mecca, the Mart of 'K' to get some gear for work. Queen B is on leave this week and had said that any of us could use her park whilst she is away. Today was my turn, I decided, heartily sick of having to lug heavy stuff like stationery, glasses, boxes and kitchen gear one kilometre and then up two flights of stairs from my birdy poo poo car park. It saved me about quarter of an hour of having my fingers nearly cut off by plastic bag handles, oodles of sweat and my knuckles weren't dragging on the floor after being stretched too far. Good.

At lunchtime I hopped in the car with three work buddies, off to an even more important mecca - The Robern Menz Fruchoc Factory. It was my professional - nay, cultural duty to ensure that our visiting Japanese scholar had tried our local delicacy, the dried apricot and peach ball rolled in chocolate. The Fruchoc. Second only to Haigh's in the South Australians' chocolate-chomping hearts.

There the little bastard was - no, not the Japanese scholar - the parking ticket. How dare they? $25 for the 'offence' of 'parking without a valid permit displayed.' Surely my hand-written post it note saying 'MG-102 - Queen B' was acceptable? But no. Zombie Finger, Catherine-the-Great and Dr Nakazato just laughed. They had all been ticketed, tried to fight against the ruling and struck nothing but rudeness, hostility and threats. "They told me 'What Planet Do You Live On, Our Rules Are for Everyone'," Dr N said haltingly. To quote Jar Jar Binks, "How rude!"

Well, BRING IT ON. I've fought more officious little companies than you, oh 'Tenix Solutions Pty Ltd'. How dare you add the word 'solutions' to your name, when you specialise in greed, frustration, deprivation and despair. May your farts colour the air and follow you around (like a bad smell, heh heh) permanently!

Stay tuned..........
My ten cent prediction

Australia's most successful and beloved swimmer, Ian Thorpe, has decided to shimmy out of his skin-tight black adidas bodysuit and bow out of professional and olympic swimming.

It appears that the sports loving public here are in an uproar - how dare Thorpey, at the relatively tender age of twenty four, think only of himself and what he would like to do beyond inhaling a litre of chlorinated water during hours of regimented swimming and gym work that commenced every single day from 4am? What kind of an Aussie icon and all-round good bloke lets us down like that?! At least Steve Irwin died in the line of duty. Who the hell does Ian think he is - a free citizen?

This rage really stems from fear. No, no of Thorpey's 'Official Ambassador' status for Paspaley Pearls (hello, we'll get to that later) but the frightening realisation that he will reduce Oz's olympic medal tally by about 70%. You see, here in Aust-ray-yia we value our sporting heroes above all else. We take medal tallies, ashes urns, sailing cups, crystal bowls etc very, very seriously . Cancer cure - pretty good. Dedicated HIV carers - not bad. Shane Warne - bloody legend mate, a legend!

Not that I'm saying that Ian isn't extremely talented in the water and that we won't miss him because we will, but he's been in the public eye for over ten years. From the age of fourteen he was propelled onto the back page of every newspaper and proclaimed as the 'Big Feet, Big Heart, Big Winner' for the future of swimming. Bless him, he would have to be the only tweenie/young teen to be glad to have size 24 feet: with those buggers he could out-paddle an angry dolphin, let alone a Popov, cranky Yank or a cheeky Peter van den Hoogenband.

Here is where I'll chuck in my ten cents' worth, just to add a bit more to the kilometres of smudgy newsprint and inane anchorman opinions already out there. Thorpey will be offered a modelling contract for a swanky, chi-chi designer label for a year or two, giving him the opportunity to travel the world, suck down a few champagnes and occasionally witter on about how 'Fashion is his passion' and how he'd eventually like to design some stuff on his own....

Fast forward a couple more years and he'll be releasing an autobiography - ghost written of course. In perfect, PA-driven timing, he will also officially come out of his perfumed, velvet-lined, 10 metre by 20 metre closet and tearfully announce that he's gay. No real surprise there, except to Aussie folk aged over 60 who secretly harboured fantasies that he'd marry one of their more homely looking grand daughters. The only chapter that will be purchased and printed as an excerpt in magazines will be the one detailing his other, more nocturnal and private uses for his black bodysuit.

The book will sell like wildfire, and he'll then be a permanent fixture at Elton John's post-Academy Awards parties, be asked to write a guest column in Vogue and move to the UK so that he can be "among his dearest friends and supporters, Kylie Minogue, George Michael and Alexander McQueen."

He will then lay low for a while, only occasionally being photographed in the Daily Telegraph's social pages or by No Idea magazine if his weight increases by 3 kilograms and he's snapped eating a bacon buttie.

Just when he's almost disappeared from the Australian landscape and sporting/social consciousness, he'll find his life partner, marry him and move permanently to Switzerland. He will, naturally, "Still call Australia my home", but never set foot on our dry, brown soil again.

Mark my words.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Winners of the most un-fun Christmas cards of the year

Oh alright then, 'Seasons Greetings' cards, to cover all bases in a broad, fair-minded PC way. Regretfully the winner of this year's most unfestive, dull-as-Days-of-Our-Lives, God Awful greeting cards goes to ...................... my employer. Sigh, say it ain't so.

As some of you may know, I work for one of the three universities here in good old Adelaide town, South Australia. No, not even Bono from U2 - who was here on tour a couple of nights ago - could quite recall that he'd been here before in 1993, even when pressed by our desperately over-eager local yokel journos.

Despite our wee city's propensity to try and jump up and down in front of Sydney, Melbourne and even Brisbane, squeaking, "Look at me, look at me! I'm a city too! I'm groovy, cosmopolitan, have great weather and sh**loads of cultural stuff - come and try one of our pie floaters*** in the dodgy old caravan parked out the front of the casino - culture, culture culture," we deservedly tend to get shoved aside rather rudely and ignored. The black skivvies from Melbourne stride off to find a decent espresso; the Sydney-siders stand tippee-toed on the top of their block of flats' TV aerials to glimpse the harbour bridge and Brisbane dwellers, um, enthusiastically riverdance on cane toads and inhale XXXX cans.

To counter this utter lack of attention, our uni tends to be a bit of a try-hard as well. We ain't the dignified, ancient, ivy-covered historical monolith that the yuppies attend in their RM Williams' boots and brand new VW golfs and nor are we the other 1970s butt-ugly one bravely clinging to a windswept mountain like a brave zit on the arse of the suburbs. Instead we're like Courtney Love: scattered all over the place with a regular urge to flash ourselves about and overdo things a bit.

That said, we are known for our fine arts - especially design, media, visual arts and marketing. Every year, our Marketing Maharajahs issue an official greeting card design that grand poobahs like my boss, Queen Bee, are required (ie, must or will have their ARC funding slashed by 70% and have to shag strangers in bus stops for their annual stationery allocation) to sign and send off to anyone they deem active enough in conjunction with university academia to receive one. Poor sods.

You think I'm exaggerating? Well, you would have to stand in the One Million Long Queue of MillyMoo, if you did. However, here we have Exhibit A: the lamps. Add a poncy quote and voila - the front of a card that's about as exciting as a beige bathroom tile! Come to think of it, getting 'Here's to an even better 2007, signed Queen B' written in flourish of fountain ink on the back of a tile would be infinitely more interesting sitting on the mantel than this visual equivalent of cold porridge....

Item B. Hmmm, what is the designer trying to say with this aspirational classic? There's plenty of seats in our social work lectures? Fart and you fart alone? Nothing clears a room like our security guards wearing stockings over their heads and speaking arabic?

NB - (read the quotation for this one) - get out there and into action, and then fail your course because of lack of attendance and crappy essays...?

Item C, on the final, in-bred third hand, is meant to instil in us a kind of awe about the dazzling possibilities in modern design. Instead all it reminds me of is Abba's 1979 album 'Voulez Vous'. (Go and dig it out; you'll get the idea). If I was forced to live in a place like this, I'd want to use the balcony to enhance my funky lifestyle.... as a spring board over the edge

*** Pie floater - SA's dubious claim to an authentic local meal - a factory-made meat pie, plopped upside down in a shallow bowl of pea soup (the creamed, mooshy, infected snot kind) and served with a contemptuous dollop of tomato sauce. The only locals brave or stupid enough to eat this are either drunker than Oliver Reed at a wine tasting or lost all their life savings at the casino and have absolutely nothing left to live for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cheap Shots

Jude, maaaate, surely you can still remember your address?

Jude, Jude, Jude, JUDE. What on earth have you done to that heavenly face of yours?

Even during the most awful deprivations of 'Cold Mountain' you looked perkier and prettier than this. I sure hope you haven't been overindulging in any electric spinach, fermented yeast drinks or other face-ruining fun stuff....

So Angelina (in costume here as slain journo Daniel Pearl's wife) and Brad's hired heavy goons might have shoved a few innocent Indian kiddies into the path of an oncoming train.... what's more concerning is Ange's twiggy, veiny arms - she makes Kate Bosworth look like Newman from Seinfeld!

Maybe that's why she looks so concerned - someone broke the rules and walked by with a sandwich. Or another third world baby.

Awww, here we have Sarah Jessica Parker's main squeeze, Matthew Broderick, and son, um, Wee Willie Winkie - that's close enough.

Wee Willie's the one eating the iceblock, but Matty-cakes is definitely a contender for the 2006 poster boy representing one of mother's old (but true) fashion adage: 'Don't wear horizontal stripes if you're wider across than you are up and down'.

Here's Gwen Stefani with her bub, looking as though she took the time to choose the right designer belt but totally forgot about brushing her hair.

Call me an old-fashioned 1980s relic, but white sunglasses should never, ever be allowed to be worn again. Ever.

And why is she enrolling her son in the army at this age?

Clearly S**tney is all geared up for the silly season - emphasis on silly of course.

Sadly, this photo was taken after she gave Fed-Ex the flick, so we have only her grey matter to blame for the outfit choice - Santa hat in November, stupid white sunnies, see-through mesh top (so tasteful for a mother), proudly picking out her own belly button lint, showing us that she's still got a bit of verandah over her tool shed and wearing some kind of skirt that Michael Jackson would envy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

The never-ending Migraine.......

I've written a few times before about my arch-enemy, Mr Migraine, but unfortunately, he again started to visit me far more often than I - and Love Chunks, Sapphire and my work mates - would like.

I have never seen Mr Migraine in person, and don't get those 'flashing lights' that some other sufferers get as a warning, so he's an invisible figure to me. He's reduced to an imaginary but thoroughly malevolent troll-like creature in my mind.

Quite literally in my mind. He somehow makes his deliberately clumsy entrance into my brain cavity (no doubt quite easily via my ear canals); a red hot poker in one hand, an egg beater in the other and a metal nut-cracker wedged in his teeth. He then proceeds to frantically jab, whack, thrust, whirl and beat these instruments of torture against the back of my eyes (favouring the left one mostly), or cheekbones, hairline, forehead, jaw and teeth.

For added amusement, he will sometimes hurl himself in a devilish stage dive directly into my grey matter and make sure he deliberately flays about in the rubbery ooze like a drunk at a pool party for as long as it keeps him interested.

If his mood is even more foul, he will spitefully squeeze the 'Nausea and Vomit' segment of my brain before skipping off to give the 'Eight Hours of Agony' and 'A Dozen Urgent Trots to the Toilet' buttons a good going-over as well.

This is not to say that he is victorious every time. Mr Migraine does not always achieve his maximum aim of reducing me to a moaning, foetal-positioned wreck hiding in the darkness of my bedroom hearing the happy sounds of Love Chunks and Sapphire's chatter in the other end of the house but unable to join them because it is too loud too bright too noisy too hurtful too thumpy too glarey too painful too....

No, Mr M gets busy or lazy and sends an apprentice over to do his dirty work. With his warty little mitts carrying fruit knives and maraccas and his mouth full of thumb tacks, he growls, "Get over here, RumpledForeSkin. I haven't got the time to be holding your hand all day. You can bugger off and go find MillyMoo and start giving her The Treatment, OK? You got that, you miserable, snivelling little phelgm ball?" At this point, RumpledForeSkin will meekly agree and nervously bow out of the room, glad to be out of Mr M's way.

Like all apprentices, he will have learned to be polite but also extremely wary. Similar to all other spotty juniors, he is the lowest in rank, the weakest in power and the most eager to please, and therefore would have been the butt of many jokes and the butt of many drunken passes at Friday night work drinks.

RumpledForeSkin would also have been sent to the post office for a 'verbal agreement', given the phone number of the zoo to ask for a Mr G. Raff and been laughed out of Mitre 10 for requesting a can of striped paint. Har hardy harrr.

Therefore his attempts to rouse up a migraine in me are timid and ineffective. His little taps behind my eyeball or against my temples give me ample time to find my tablets, slurp down a double espresso and slow my pace down to a crawl. Rumply-babes is then forced to go back to head office, vainly trying to work out how he's going to complete the days' paperwork: "Umm, she was already dead.....Erm she no longer works there....... She was listening to Robbie Williams on her ipod.....the Cold and Flu guy had already arrived and had cordoned off the site....."

Sadly, Mr Migraine was not satisfied. He got very pissed off with RumpledForeSkin yesterday and shoved him aside roughly, yelling, "I'm going to go and do the bloody job myself!"

Which he did. Extremely well.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Call me Idi Adolf - Naomi Cambell - Hitler the Terrible from now on

I am the meanest, cruellest dog owner in the world. At least that's what my dog, Dogadoo, thinks right now.

My thrice-weekly 6am alarm went off this morning, and I leapt out of bed as if stung by a bee. Nearly six years of running and the mantra I use to keep going continues to work: Don't Think, Just Don't Think, Don't Think, You're Not Actually Awake Yet, Don't Think...... This enables me to ablute (what a fabulous word - right up there with 'thrice'), skull a large glass of water and get dressed into my running gear.

By the time I find a couple of doggy doo doo bags, Dogadoo has almost turned herself inside out with delight as she waits outside; peering into the laundry window (where my gear and the toilet is) to reassure herself that yes, today is one of those magnficent days. Today is a running day. Exactly three minutes after waking, I was outside, pulling on my trusty old sneakers. After the winter months of running around the Sapphire's school oval, the once-white adidas are now brown and flecked with dead grass; a little bit like wearing two lamingtons on my feet. It is always difficult to tie up my laces because Dogadoo's tail is beating madly against my calves and her tongue is busy kissing my fingers in unadulterated gratitude, anticipation and joy.

Her pink, dog-footprint-patterned lead was then clicked on to her collar and we trotted around to the side gate, ready to go. Whoah - it was only then that I was forced to take note of the weather conditions - blustery, unpredictable puffs of wind (not unlike Sapphire when she's fast asleep under her doona) greeted us and added an extra welcome by driving sharp points of rain directly into our eyes. The stinging water bolts were horizontal and freezing in their intensity. A quick glance at the boiling black sky confirmed it, as did the slough of water that smacked me on the head with the equivalent strength of a bucket of water being thrown down from the 4th floor of University House during prosh week.

Dogadoo was blissfully ignorant, her tail now wagging so frantically that her bum, back and shoulders joined in the rhythm. She gently started to pull at the lead, glancing back at me with a worried expression: Why aren't we going to the oval now? Sadly, I patted her on the head and unclipped her lead at the same time. "I'm sorry furry face, but it's far too wet to go for a run today. We have to go tomorrow, little bud." Her fuzzy little brain struggled to comprehend the worst situation she had faced in her young life - my owner gets me ready for a run and then says no??

Dogadoo frowns when she's sad or worried, she honestly does. Even Love Chunks, who tries very hard to resist Dogadoo's obvious charms agrees with me. However unlike us humans, her frown lines are vertical, giving the impression she's been trapped inside a bus door. Truth be told, she has very little to frown about in her heavenly little beloved pet world. Occasionally her dinner bowl might arrive a few minutes' late, she's forced to have a bath (lasting all of five minutes) every Saturday; or she drinks too much of Sapphire's bath bubbles and has to go outside for a puke.

I'm gonna pretend this chunk of wood is MillyMoo and bite her head off!

This morning however, her pain, distress and sadness was palpable. I felt like a total bastard. I even left her outside, so that I could undress, slip back into bed for another hour and not have to endure the sight of her frowning face or sad, limpid eyes staring at me accusingly by the side of the bed. Naturally - and perhaps fairly - sleep was denied me and tossing and turning was to be undertaken instead. I felt as cold-hearted as the bloke who cancelled free milk at school in the seventies; Sanity workers forced to stock the shelves with 'Achy Breaky Heart' cassingles; and having to admit to being the mother of Mark Holden.

Luckily, when I got up an hour later, fed Dogadoo her breakfast and let her back inside, my irredeemably bad acts were mostly forgiven. Thanks be to the Creator Of Dogs that their brains are merely the size of walnuts and incapable of remembering too many past disappointments.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Doing a dump at the Doctors

We three had a busy Saturday morning. Sapphire's too-early-for-a-non-work-day tennis lesson, a spot of grocery shopping and then a bloodtest at the doctor for me before heading out to brunch.

My bladder was starting to squeak every time I moved, so I tentatively snuck into the toilet adjoining my local medical centre's waiting room. Hindsight is a regretful pastime but it is not a good idea to use the toilet facilities at your doctor's surgery if you are already worried about aspects of your health and well being.

Blue-tacked on the wall directly in front of me and finely tuned to my eye level, was a cobalt blue poster screaming: DO YOU SUFFER FROM BLADDER WEAKNESS? Um, well, I did right then, cos that's why I was in there, reading the medical blurb. But then the infernal poster asked, HAVE YOU EVER...? and the Infernal WorryWart within me took over. Do you plan your day around where toilets are located? Do you avoid exercise in case of urine leakage? Laughing? Do you choose to miss the bus instead of running to catch it? Oh dear....

It was time to drag my eyes away and look above the basin instead. GET TO KNOW HERPES, the red brochure stuck on the mirror commanded. After a few moments, my knowledge of the condition had considerably increased. For example, did you know that one of the first signs of genital herpes might in fact be flu-like symptoms, as in sore muscles, headache, fever or chills? Apparently the herpes microbe creature germ thingies prefer 'soft skin' such as lips, genitals and the anus and it's cheering to know that approximately one-in-eight Aussies have the condition. Who cares about what we spend on health as part of our GDP when we have a statistic like this to be proud of.

Things were not improving, reading-matter wise, because next to the bog-roll holder a nurse had tactfully placed a sticker, advising that BOWEL CANCER IS A MALIGNANT GROWTH THAT STARTS IN THE LARGE BOWEL (COLON) OR RECTUM. Fine, that seemed pretty correct and fair enough and it was surely very bad luck for the poor bastards who have it. But wait, there was more sobering news for any of us bathroom butt-heads who read further: 'A faecal occult blood test is used to screen for cancer.' Well you'd certainly hope so for the stress of having to lay a cable, catch it without spillage or splashing and then bring it into the doctor's office in a hopefully non-transparent tupperware container. And yet: 'These are not diagnostic tests - they cannot tell if you have cancer. They are used to identify people who need further testing.' That's just great, isn't it - what's the next stage going to be like - a three kilogram sample that is required to be catapulted into a four litre icecream carton and refrigerated at home for a week before delivery?

Understandably, I wasn't expecting too much excitement when my eyes unwillingly-but-automatically read the brochure on the liquid soap dispenser. 'Crohn's disease and ulcerative collitis (IBD) can causediarrhoea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and can adversely affect the eyes, skin and joints.' Fabulous, really. Still, at least, typed in bold, was the hopeful question we all yearned for: 'How can this be treated?' After mentioning a few drugs, the brochure sadly concluded, 'Unfortunately, despite much research, the exact cause of IBD is still unknown.' Marvellous. The champagne will clearly have to be saved for much later - if I was able to digest it, of course.

After a mentally-exaggerated eternity it was finally time to flush, re-dress the southernmost parts of my body, wash my hands, dry off and get the hell out of the scary little room. And yet my urge to read the rest of the material overtook my sense of foreboding. Skin Spots to Watch sported some truly gorgeous colour photographs of basal cell carcinomas, squamos cells, melanomas and Seborrhoeic Keratoses to look forward to the next time I dared show my bather-clad body in public swimming areas; heaps of blah about a new contraceptive implant that admitted in tiny print 'this, like other contraceptive devices, is not 100% effective'; and the eye-wateringly witty 'Managing Menopause and Osteoporosis.'

As my now-shaky hands reached for the door handle to escape into hopefully more positively-decorated waiting room, the smallest poster caught my eye. Ah, the irony of it - 'Come see us at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic - we will help you stop having those panic attacks.' Well thank God for that!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Crap at copping Criticism

Hi regular reader(s) - if there's one consistent thing that most of us regular bloggers hate, it's those 'brave' boofheads who like to sling s**t at your post via the 'anonymous' link. These pathetic people love the idea of being able to slag something but obviously wouldn't dare release their own email, website or blog in order to have a semi-intelligent discussion or their excremental opinions disproved.

And lo, it has happened to me. A few times, but this particular Anonymous weasel is clearly a slow reader, because she/he/it has, now in November, decided to take umbrage at some light-hearted articles I posted about our little family holiday in January. You can click and read them here:

http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2006/01/hot-hot-hot-above-headline-pretty-much.html; http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2006/01/even-hotter-hotter-hottest-i-should.html; http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2006/01/hot-things-not-seen-in-riverland-this.html

Anonymous, who was smart enough to list her/him/itself as "Proud to be a BRAND" but remain anonymous in terms of being contacted back, wrote: "I've just read your articles on your visit to the Riverland. Being a former Riverlander and also descendant of the Brand family I must say I'm quite disappointed and doubt that I would be the only 'Brand' insulted by your comments. You should be proud of you (sic) heritage in the Riverland. I have just moved to Darwin and have to say the heat in the Riverland is nothing compared to what we have up here. If that doesn't suit those city Yuppies who cant (sic) live without an air con, thats (sic) fine. Dont (sic)come back. With that kind of attitude I dont (sic) think anyone would really give a crap."

Aw, bless you and your lack of grammatical skills, oh Brand-bogan who is, unfortunately, likely to be a very distant relative. Let me clarify a few points for you, OK, brainiac?

1) I am a country-born and bred gal, from the Riverland. I love the place: why else would I drag my family there for the Summer holiday?

2) Anyone who needs air-conditioning in 44C heat is NOT a whinger, just a normal human being who prefers to not have their eyeballs shrink in their sockets when they open the back door and like to be able to sleep without the risk of drowning in their own cleavage sweat.

**Gasp, wheeze*... nearly made it to Overland Corner..... Need to have a yarn with Andrew ...*gasp, wheeze****

3) Thirdly, Andrew, the current proprietor of Overland Corner (originally built and run by the venerable Brand family) is NOT a Brand family member. He is a hard working publican doing the best he can out in the middle of nowhere in the midst of a summer that sucks the moisture out of your bum nuggets before you can even think of crapping them out. So, he has the conversation skills of a grumpy Marcel Marceau - that's just honest writing, poo brain!

4) We 'aint no yuppies, Butt Breath. Love Chunks and I both went to country high schools, boarded in Adelaide and had to work all of our summers in physically hard, menial jobs to help pay our way through our education. (I challenge thee - have you ever crawled on your hands and knees through a muddy plowed paddock to pick out garlic bulbs?) Our daughter, Sapphire, goes to her local, public primary school and we own one ten year old car. 95% of our wardrobe is via Target, K-Mart or the finds my mother makes when manning the counter at the Victor Harbor 'Life Line' second hand shop off Ocean street. To paraphrase Shakespeare's Lady MacBeth - up yours with a billiard queue.

Finally, 'Proud to be a Brand' but 'Too Gutless To Reveal My Slimy Self' - I have lived in Darwin, for two years and loved every minute of it. It's a different kind of heat up there in the tropics - as in tropical, steamy, humidity not like being blow dried to death with God's own styling wand here down south. Both are bloody hard climates to live in and both - I dare you to admit otherwise - are made one thousand percent easier with air conditioning or ceiling fans. Show me a Darwiner without one or both of those cooling aids and I'll show you someone who's not a Full Can of Fanta. (Unless it's you of course). To throw in a tiny brag, I've played competition tennis from 1pm -5pm in both climates and won each and every single set I played!

I don't know how to spell a raspberry, to you, Proud to be a Brand, but here's my guess:

Paaattoooooey Ptthththththth !!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A poke in the eye with a burnt stick

It may be an Adelaide, South Australia thing. The smaller the city (one million), the more intense the efforts for the wealthy nobs about town to make it known that they're part of the Old Boys' Club.

This pathetic behaviour goes beyond cultivating an accent that comes from somewhere behind their epiglottis and their arses; driving $100,000 Range Rovers that aren't likely to venture anywhere wilder than their beach house in Robe; and way beyond wearing a shirt with a polo player on it. No, in Adelaide it's the tiny little sticker that's displayed on the back of the European model car that's the unspoken symbol of wealth, snobbery and bold-faced arsehole-ishness (if it isn't a word it should be) combined.

There's a proud but secret army of Audis, beamers, mercedes, Volky Golfs (no less than two years old, otherwise they're passed on to their teenage daughters or the nanny), top-level hondas and any four-wheel-drive other than Holdens or Fords. These sickening little stickers have tiny little coats of arms on them, or the old flag of Scotland, crossed oars or even some kind of poncy old latin saying that's meant to remind the rest of us great unwashed High School bogans that we didn't attend, don't belong and will never break into their realm.

Whenever I'm idling my car behind one of these Sociopathic Snobs in my dented, dusty, ten year old Mitsubishi station wagon, my blood begins to boil and my witch-like grip on the steering wheel bends it into the shape of a thigh-master. Yes, any of you reading this could quite rightly accuse me of being jealous of not belonging to such a wealthy, Old School Tie club and you would be correct.

Or at least partly correct. Growing in a small country town didn't mean that we were all clueless, dirt poor yokels who considered a pastie and iced coffee a fine meal (actually, I still do). Indeed, country towns can provide a rather interesting cross section of wealth - the struggling farmers coming in to the shops every fortnight; meat workers, the transferred teachers, veterinarians and doctors - all the way up to the one-and-only car dealership, grain silo owner and meatworks factory proprietor. It wasn't unusual to see the town's only Rolls Royce parked alongside a 35 year old Holden outside the newsagents.

As such, we had some rather well-off neighbours - doctors, and the owner of the car dealership. The doctors' families remained working and living in the town, but their children were all packed off to boarding school by the age of twelve. No-one was jealous of their boarding school kids. Meanwhile the car sellers (as mentioned in a previous blog http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2006/10/hey-mum-its-twenty-two-degrees-today.html) moved house from the town where they earned their millions to a more leafy home in Hahndorf; just right for their daughter's pony collection and shopping trips into Adelaide. They still sell cars in my hometown: it's just not good enough for them to live there. They weren't - and aren't - missed: if Mrs D had mentioned the 'facilities, quality of teachers and the best education and future that money can buy' to my mother one more time I would have likely been a witness to the first death by mix-master in this part of the world.

The jealousy I have, though, is that none of the car sellers' kids were what you'd call 'Intellectual Giants' and none of them made it through their final year with any form of academic success. Despite this, they all got brand new cars for their 16th birthdays and cushy little no-brainer-but-decent jobs via other parents whose children went to the school - the Old School Tie network at its finest. Any Mental Pgymies I went to school with ended up at the meatworks ("Hi there MillyMoo - I'm real lucky - I'm closest to the radio and I get $150 a week!"), stacking shelves at Woolworths or on the dole. No 'PA to Leading Award Winning Advertising Hottie' or 'Culture Coordinator at Marketing Mayhem, North Adelaide' for those poor bastards.

These days, a reasonably paid city resident, parent and blogger, I know that I need to get out more, but I harbour fantasies - fanned by my sister blogger My Little Zombie finger - about dressing up in night time camouflage, doing a few commando rolls behind wheelie bins and scribbling a swastika over every single little friggin' snob sticker I find on the backs of late model volvos, land-rover and renaults on the east side of the city. Or perhaps I could slap over a sticker of my own, with something witty printed on it like 'Eat Shit And Die, You Wanna-Be, In-Bred, Social Suck-Up.'

Maybe even take a risk and forgo the subtle approach and go straight for the Lacoste-encrusted jugular: "May the Fleas of a Thousand Camels Infest Your Groin and End Up Growing A Brain Down There That You Currently Don't Have Anywhere Else", or "Anyone who went to private school, played hockey, rowed, went to a 'formal' and thinks Adelaide's borders end at the Burnside Shopping Centre will have their eyes poked out with a burnt stick and their entrails used as jump leads for the stalled commodores of the underpriveleged northern suburbs folk."

I choose to blame my Dad for this attitude regarding stickers. No, he didn't encourage me to spew out my hatred for snobs via blogs, but he has been known to use a sticker or two for mischievous reasons. Cottees is a company that makes icecream toppings and has done for as long as my memory stretches. What Aussie kid didn't have a scooped mountain of neopolitan icecream (chocolate first, then strawberry and only vanilla if was the only flavour left) in a cereal bowl surrounded by a glossy, brown moat of Cottees' chocolate topping?

My point - murkier than a Hilton sister's brain cell though it is - is that Dad loved to peel off the smaller dark blue sticker that was around the neck of the bottle that proudly proclaimed the syrup was 'Thick and Rich.' Being an active family of five with a mother who considered cooking to be about as fun as a pap-smear done with salad tongs, we therefore accumulated many of these stickers.

Dad used to sneak around the Murray Bridge high school teachers' carpark, slapping them on the windshields and licence plates of his mates. Sometimes it would be months before they'd even notice them (and then immediately guess it was him), but I'm sure it provided the driver behind them with a bit of amusement at the town's one and only set of traffic lights.

Sadly, these days the bottles have 'thick and rich' incorporated into the main label which can't be easily peeled off without turning it into paper mache.

However there may be some scope for me to exact some revenge by using up some of our office's old mail merge labels, printing out 'FAT BASTARD' on every single one and slapping them next to the Snob Sticker every time I see one during my walk through the Coles Norwood carpark......

Friday, November 03, 2006

Could it get any better?

My favourite newspaper, the Melbourne Age, gleefully reported that red wine may contain the elixir of youth - and to read this on my birthday as well....!!

A substance in red wine may prove to be the much-sought-after elixir of youth that holds back many of the effects of ageing, new research suggests. A study has found that lard-arsed mice on supersize-me meal plans lived longer and had healthier hearts and livers when given the compound, resveratrol.

I'll skip the scientific wah-wah about what compounds, molecules and nerd-factors were discovered, but apparently Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant produced by certain plants as a defence against the effects of injury and fungal infection. It is commonly found in grape skins, peanuts and mulberries (who cares, get to the important stuff), and is especially plentiful in red wine.

As we all know - and have been using as an excuse for ages -rinking red wine has been suggested as one explanation for the French Paradox - the fact that heart disease death rates are lower in France than in other industrialised countries with similar risk factors. A couple of years ago, some brainiacs found that yeast treated with resveratrol lived 60 per cent longer than normal. Their later experiments showed that the compound also extended the lifespans of worms and flies by almost 30 per cent, and fish by nearly 60 per cent.

Worms, flies and fish? Who gives a fat rats' clacker if they live longer??!!!! Whatever happened to the good old laboratory stalwarts like rabbits and beagles (just a joke, Joyce, just a joke....)

Luckily, the mice entered the experimental, resveratrol pocket-pen protector scene and also supported this red wine = longer life theory (as explained in my non-scientific paraphrasing way). Key Nerd, Dr Richard Hodes, has developed a formulation of resveratrol now being used in an early clinical trial involving diabetes patients. Plus he's got a nose the size of a red cauliflower, his hand shakes so badly the testtubes get emptied before he can fill them up and his wife has sent security guards over to frog-march him to a residential AA rehab facility.