31 July 2008
Here's a blast from the past for you...any of you old school HTML 1.0 code monkeys remember the tag? Check it out, in all its blinky irksome grand mal inducing glory.
I'm bringing back the blink, baby. Back from the brink, baby. I'm Colonel Clink, baby. Hooogaaan!
28 July 2008
It's navy blue, it's crimson lake...It takes the cake and no mistake...For goodness' sake take a look at those Blakes...
Are people who hate Xmas Santa-claustrophobic? Jeebus, can you believe we've rounded the Yuletide horn already? How time flies...
The Season of the Mooch kicked off to a great start this week with me winning tickets on the Perfect Commute Home. It was a promotional thingy for some Czech beer company who rented out a ferry and took us on a leisurely 3 hour cruise along the Thames from Canary Wharf to Putney Bridge and put on free booze and bbq. Below decks there was putting and Wii and massage action but who cares about that when you're up on the open deck sitting in the late afternoon sun drinking free Czech beer and eating bbq prawns and fillet stake by the trough-full. It was one of those magical activities that combines three of my favourite things: sloth, beer and mooching. And anything you do is immediately made more sophisticated and classy when you do it on a boat, even shouting drunken slurs and flashing your turgid dude at tourists as you sail under London's many bridges. Heh heh...turgid...
London can be a very proper and stuffy and "up itself" kind of town, but if you keep your eyes peeled every now and then you get treated to some fleetingly wonderful flashes of whimsy. I've taken to riding on the top deck of buses, mainly so I can sit in the front seat and pretend I'm driving (no one ever sits next to the dude who's going "brrmm! rawwwrrrr! beep beep! eeerrrrrkkk!") but also because it affords you a view of the city that you don't get at ground level. There's a rather creative (and seemingly demented) individual in my neck of the woods who fashions these bizarre creations out of potatoes studded with toothpicks and cotton buds and painted in nauseating kaleidascopic swirls of flouroscent paint, which they then throw on top of bus shelters to slowly rot and decay. I have no idea what sort of statement they're trying to make or who the intended audience is (the psychadelic mutant hedgehog apreciation society?) but I love them anyway. And you have to admire the tenacity and persistence of the artist as these things (sometimes two or three) are on top of EVERY bus shelter in my neighbourhood, perhaps 50 or more, and are replenished on a monthly basis. Perhaps not as quirky as the Tuberculosis festival but, then, unlikely to give you a horrible respitory disease. All it takes is a little bit of randomness and mystery to brighten one's day...
On Saturday American Girlflen and I went along to the British Motor Show. There was all manner of vehicular priaprism on display but that shit doesn't impress me...I'm only in it for the concept cars. It's remarkable to see what car manufacturers are abe to come up with when their imaginations are unfettered, particularly when you compare it to the inane carbage they produce for the consumer market. Hyundai and Kia are prime examples: I wouldn't vomit on any of their cars, let alone buy one, but the concept vehicles they had on display were kick arse. Mind you, there were still plenty of nicey pricey cars to see: Ferraris and Lambos and Zondas, oh my! They supposedly had a Bugatti Veyron there but I never saw it. What I did see was the brand new Ford Focus RS, the latest version of my beloved XR5, and hoo doggies is that car hot. I believe the appropriate automotive adjective is "PHWOAR!" They picked a particularly cacky shade of green for the paint job and the spoked alloys are way lamer than the previous snowflake design, but it's still an awesome car. Check out the numerous photos (and pass the dutchy) on the left-hand side...
On Sunday we went to see The Dark Knight, which I was cautiously excited about, but thank the baby Jeebus, it was awesome! It's all about Our Heath, of course, and he does a brilliant job, all creepy and psychotic, everything that Jack Nicholson could have been but wasn't. My only criticism is that the timing of the ending seemed all wrong with the Two-Face bit tacked on...after all the frenetic crazy Joker action it kind of wheezed to an end like an asthmatic with an armload of heavy shopping. And the scary Batman voice is a little bit cheesy...like he's chiding his Batpuppy for peeing on the Batrug. I was impressed with Heathy, what a way to go out. He did a super job...I was gonna say "a killer job" but I think it's still too soon for puns, don't you?
I had a day off the other week and was out riding in Hackney. I've taken to checking out more of the local area as Sweaty Betty allows me to venture further afield than I normally would on foot. The traffic was horrendous, worse than usual, and backed up for almost 5 or 10 miles. As I got closer to the thick of it, it appeared the police had taped off a major intersection which forced me to get off and walk along the footpath (and don't the pedestrians just love that!). But as I cleared the intersection and prepared to remount, I saw they'd taped off another four or five intersections...almost the entire length of the street. Normally they only do that when there's been a serious car crash but I couldn't see any wrecks or debris or anything. If they'd cleared the cars away then why keep the street blocked off? Cops were posted at each subsequent intersection, and every now and then there were cardboard boxes and plastic skylight domes placed at various intervals on the road. Had there been some sort of storm damage, I thought? Hardly warrants closing down a huge stretch of road, just clean it up already. Clearly there was no threat from structural damage as pedestrians were free to move about along the pavement on either side of the road. As I got to Hackney hospital I saw an orange and yellow two-man tent pitched next to a bus shelter and suddenly it became horribly clear. I'd seen a similar tent on the tele only the night before on the news: police forensics set them up at crime scenes to protect sensitive evidence or to cover a body. It appeared that some local lad had been stabbed further up the street and the boxes and domes were covering up splatters of his blood as he ran along the street. He made it all the way to the steps of Hackney Hospital before he collapsed, judging by the vast amount of blood that neither the tent nor the numerous cardboard boxes strewn about were able to completely conceal. It covered an area of perhaps 3 or 4 metres in diameter and was traced through with swirls and smears as though one or a number of people had writhed or slid about, like some demented abstractionist finger painting. It's disconcerting to see someone else's blood, particularly in large quantities, because it never looks quite real...it seems too dark and syrupy...but somehow you know exactly what it is. All I could think as I stared at the place where this kid's life literaly flowed away was that this was no place to die. Put aside the irony of dying on the steps of a hospital, but to die here of all places in the dirt and the glass and the rubbish and the dog shit and the fossilised chewing gum and the empty Stella cans. Who was this kid? Did he live? Surely no one can lose that much blood and survive. Did he die alone? Was he afraid? Was someone holding his hand and telling him it was gonna be ok? Or did the taunts of his attackers usher him into the Great Whatever? There are few constants in life, other than it is short and random and cruel...all of which can be succinctly semaphored by a congealed bloodstain on the footpath. We can choose where we live but we can't choose where we die.
Speaking of knife crime, how's the chick getting stabbed down at Charny shops? Go Charny!
21 July 2008
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London...I'll show you something to make you change your mind...
London: Year One...
Yesterday, Sunday 20th July 2008, was my one year anniversary. I've been over here for a whole year already, can you believe it? I can't, and I'm living la vida limey, baby.
So much has happened in the past year and yet the time seems to have flown by so quickly. I've been thinking a lot about the last 12 months, all the way back to the day I arrived and how excited and scared I was. It was the first time I'd ever been truly on my own and I'd never felt as grown up. Paradoxically, I'd never felt so much like a child wishing an adult would come and tell me what to do.
Yesterday was a day for reflection. I thought about the flight over here, my longest international flight ever, and the ingrown hair on my arse which was painful enough to begin with but after sitting on it for 25 hours I was ready to cut my buttocks off with a plastic butter knife. I thought about the dreary drizzly miserable weather and how it hasn't really let up the whole time. I thought about all the places I've lived and all the flatmates I've had (3 and 14, respectively). I compared the Me who arrived here, my whole life stuffed into a ridiculous over-sized novelty suitcase, not knowing anyone, no safety net, and all sorts of expectations; with the Me who sits here writing this: am I any different? Have I changed? Have I grown? Have I achieved the things I set out to achieve? I had no idea what life would be like over here. All I hoped was that it would be interesting and challenging and I would have loads of new experiences and have my horizons expanded...and it's certainly been all of that. It seems like every week something new happens and I get to do things I would never have expected (or been inclined) to do back home.
But more than anything else I thought about what I left behind and what I'm missing out on. I don't get to see my kids grow up and share in those special moments, big and small: I don't get to see them performing with their school bands, or sit on the couch and watch cartoons, or go bowling on the weekend, or ride our bikes to the library, or sneak in at night before I go to bed and kiss them goodnight while they're asleep. I don't regret my time here, but as we all know it's easier to lament the things we don't have rather than appreciate the things we do. I've learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of and what my limitations are and what's important to me, so for that alone it's been worth it. I've met some amazing people and had my horizons expanded and learned more about the world in this past year than I could have dreamed in the previous 36. I still can't say whether London is the town for me...it has it's moments but I still feel like we're not truly compatible; I can live here but I can't thrive here. When your life's in turmoil and you're being buffeted along by the raging current, it's tempting to reach out and grab hold of something to anchor yourself, to get some permanence. When you've not had a routine for a long time you start to miss it and suddenly predictability becomes appealing. But routine can very easily slip into rut and you find yourself making compromises to avoid having to make tough decisions. But that's how we evolve, right? No payoff without gamble, no reward without risk, no gain without pain. I sacrificed too much to get here and I made a promise to myself that I would never compromise myself again just to make someone else happy. It sounds selfish but when the shizz comes down the only person who is going to take care of me is Me. I know I say that a lot and, while I still believe it, sometimes I wonder if I'm trying to convince myself that it's true.
So what does the future hold? Buggered if I know! I've officially resigned from The Guv so the last remnant of safety net is gone. While I'll stay in London for at least another year beyond that I'm not sure what will happen. I'm not ready to come back to Oz but I haven't thought about where I might go from here. While it's nice to have options I can't help but think that maybe the Littlest Hobo in me is starting to stir again; just when things start going OK I start thinking about moving on. What's up with that?
16 July 2008
Yes its the battle of epping forest, right outside your door...No, you aint seen nothing like it, not since the civil war...
I went paint balling with Dr Phil Chuck Slavakia Well'Ard and Justin the French Guy a few weeks back (my first time) which was super ace fun. It really hurt to get hit by the balls (eeewww!) up close but from far away it wasn't so bad. We got to run around on this farm in camouflage overalls and face masks and shoot people we didn't know, which is always cool. There was a series of areas like a field with hay bales and a forest with a stream running through it and a field with all these old tanks and jeeps and things set up so you could hide behind them. You played two games of Capture the Flag in each field, had a quick wee break and then moved onto the next. It was almost an entire day of rootin' tootin' shootin' fun (actually, it was just shootin'...sadly, there was a distinct paucity of both rootin' and tootin'). The gender balance was way off and the few girls who played tended to hang at the back sewing or vacuuming or doing the dishes or whatever, hoping they could avoid being shot. But it backfired on them (pun intended) because our blue team were better players (or had a higher percentage of psychos and divorcees with pent up rage aplenty) and tended to overpower them, so once all of their dudes got shot we would storm their base and shoot our collective load all over the screaming cowering ladies (which sounds hot but, frankly, anything can get boring when you do it often enough). When it was all over I still had some ammo left so while Dr Phil was painting a smiley face on the wall, I snuck up and shot him a bunch of times in the ass. I laughed and laughed but then he shot me in the shoulder blade while I was running away and it REALLY fucking hurt. I've still got a bruise and I can't lie on my back. I hate him, he's such a cheater...
American Girlflen has moved into her new place in Fulham. It's a tidy little 2-bedroom, upstairs/downstairs, row house affair on a quiet little street with a quaint (ie. small) backyard in the non-sketchy part of South West London. It's a bit of an extra hike on my treadly but is within walking distance of the Fulham stadium (come on you Whites!) and some nice restaurants and cafes. There may even be an opportunity for Handy Man to come out of forced retirement and don the overalls once again, although this would need to be prefaced by a power tools shopping spree of epic proportions. Stay tuned for more exciting news...
So the trip to Bologna has been postponed for now. Instead, me American Girlflen and I are taking the Eurostar (that's a train, ignorami) to Paris for a long weekend in August. "Ooh la la!" I hear you say in your best creepy Maurice Chevalier accent, to which I reply "Ja! Schnell! Nach!" and you roll over and surrender like the cheese-eating surrender monkey that you are. I'm not looking forward to the snobby attitude and the infrequent bathing, but I am looking forward to the rich food and the chance to make "wee" jokes at every opportunity. I bet you there's not nearly as much accordion music or berets as I'm hoping there will be.
I bought the kids a buttload of disgusting American candy while I was in Boston at this place called Sugar Heaven. Now, I'm not a candy connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I loathe the stuff (much to my daughter's chagrin) but even I can tell that there's just something not right about American candy. And no, it's not because they call it 'candy' instead of 'lollies', it just seems like in almost every case they managed to create something awesome but they ruined it by adding something extra and unnecessary and weird, like dried prunes or vegemite or dead bees. I crammed in as much as my suitcase would allow and I can't help but smile as I imagine them fleeing from hordes of candy zombies clamouring for their delicious guts. I'm the Candy Man...I got the sweet, sweet candeh...
Reports of the death of printed newspapers are highly exaggerated if the number of free newspapers handed out on London street corners is any gauge. There's London Lite, City AM, City PM, Metro, City News...and those are just the more reputable ones. And they each have their own distributors standing on practically every street corner in the city when you're on your way to or from work, you run a Gutenbergian gauntlet of cheap paper and finger-staining ink as each of them enthusiastically forces their respective rag in your face, pleading with their hungry eyes for you to at least take one even if you don't want to read it cos simply throwing it away is enough to justify their ridiculous 'units shifted' advertising model. Dude, I know where you are, ie. every single street corner, so if I want a friggin' paper I'll come to you...don't be shoving it all up in my grill. So of course the city ends up plastered with thousands of discarded newspapers, piling up in trains and buses and blowing about the windy streets like poorly researched tumbleweeds. I don't read them because a) it's yesterday's news harvested from the internet, b) it's insanely wasteful of natural resources, and c) all they ever report about is knife crime and Amy Fucking Winehouse. I look forward to the day when the two dominant UK journalistic paradigms come together in some serendipitous synchronicity and some chav stabs Amy Winehouse to death...
8 July 2008
I'm back from my Boston trip and I have the worst cold ever. I think I got it cos the weather was quite hot and I was going in and out of air conditioned rooms all the time. If I was a nana I'd say I caught a chill...but I'm not so screw you, imaginary grandma!
Boston's a great city, mainly because everyone talks like Peter Griffin and the food is surprisingly good. As the locals would say, "It's a wicked pissah." There's some lovely old buildings throughout the city centre and when new buildings go up they generally preserve the old facade. There used to be huge stacks of freeway overpasses snaking through the middle of the city but they were all pulled down and green parks put in their place. It really helps to open up the city and make you feel like there's so much more space. Our hotel was right on the harbour and overlooked the spot where the Boston Tea Party took place in 1773 when American colonists protested against the feckin' Brits taxing the shit out of everyone by chucking all their tea into the harbour.
I was surprised to learn how many kick-arse bands are from Boston: Dropkick Murphys, the Pixies, Dinosaur Jnr, Morphine, Lemonheads, Dresden Dolls, Throwing Muses, Mission of Burma. But also a lot of suck-arse ones, too, like J Geils Band, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Aerosmith. Buffallo Tom are from Boston, whom we all remember from when Scruff Lovely supported them on the Canberra leg of their tour back in '92 or '93 or something.
On the first day we met up with Staci's friend Jill Kumbayar (my Lord) for drinks in an old jail which has been converted into a hotel. It's an amazing building and they've kept a lot of the original features like barred gates and shackles and in the restaurant instead of cutlery you use old shanks and shivs. Then we had mexican at Annie's Tacqueria...I had a Super Burrito and it was the best mexican food I've ever had! Because Boston is a fishing town, you can eat lobster for every meal, which of course I did on my birthday the next day 'cos I was being a princess. For lunch we went to this seafood place called Woodmans where I had a lobster roll (a local delicacy). It's a long bread roll (really sweet, made with too much sugar like most american food), full of lobster chunks and covered in melted butter. Afterwards we had ice cream from the Cherry Road Creamery and, in true American style, my single scoop chocolate peanut butter cone was about the size of the Statue of Liberty's torch. Yummo! Then for dinner we went to a legendary Boston seafood restaurant called Legal Sea Food and I had a whole lobster all to myself. It was SOOO good! I ate too much, though, and felt sick so you know that's a good birthday. Staci was an awesome birthday festival organiser and made me feel really special all day...even when I was unpacking all her stuff from the storage unit and missing out on breakfast.
The next day was my own so I wandered about, as is my want, to check things out. I saw a cool old burial ground with wicked flying skull headstones and the Old North Church where Paul Revere lit the lantern to alert the townsfolk to the approach of the feckin' Limey Redcoats. I got lost in South Boston for a bit but eventually found my way up to Havard Square. The campus is huge and well-tended, and dotted with tons of massive old buildings which are either impressive or oppressive depending on your perspective. The weather turned a bit foul and I got caught in a huge thunderstorm which, thankfully, was brief but things got quite humid when the sun came back out. There didn't seem to be too many students around so presumably they were all off in Fort Lauderdale on Srping Break or something.
The next day we met Staci's friends Carrie and Jim and their son and had breakfast at Big Mike's City Diner which is an old school American diner. I had a huge omlette with turkey and bacon, which was delish, but it also came with grits which is kind of like porridge, which wasn't so nice even when it's smothered in butter and maple syrup. Then we went to Fenway Park which is where the Redsocks play. Go Socks! Then we went to the moofies and saw the new Pixar moofie Wall-e, which was excellent, as all Pixar moofies are, and very tender and funny.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about tampons. Frankly, it’s about time. I can’t hear enough about feminine hygiene products, and I don't think I'm the Lone Ranger in that regard. People don’t talk nearly enough about tampons and if they did, maybe the world wouldn’t be in the state it’s in.
You can bet that if men had periods, you’d never hear the end of it. Tampons would be free, you’d get the week off, all your mates would buy you drinks, and there’d be competitions to see who had the heaviest flow.
You may think it glib of me, as a man, to make light of something all women take very seriously. Maybe I’ll never know what it’s like to be a woman (at least not until I can afford the airfare to Thailand) but I’m not made of styrofoam. I can empathise, damn it! I get moody. I feel worthless and unloved (usually once a month when my ex-wife spent a week yelling at me and calling me names). Alice Cooper once said: “Only women bleed”. Well, I say until you’ve been repeatedly punched in the nose by a crazed menstrual termagant revved-up on PMS, don’t talk to me about bleeding, buddy.
It’s one of the great regrets of my life as a parent that I’ll never share the physical bond with my children that my ex-wife did. To make space inside your body to hold them, to move your very organs around to accommodate them, even grow new ones to sustain them, is a miracle that, sadly, I’ll never fully appreciate. And I’m more aware than anyone that I’ll never know the pain, nay, the agony of childbirth. (Secretly I think that men actually do know how painful childbirth is but you chicks will never let on for fear of losing your power over us). Well, never fear, my fine feminine friends! As long as you have vaginas you’ll always have power over us because you’ll always have something we want. The inherent nature of Man is to destroy, whereas the inherent nature of Woman is to create. You have the power of creation right there inside you, damn it, and that pisses men off. We’ve convinced ourselves we’re the dominant gender and we’ve conquered and beaten down anyone who says otherwise. It riles us no end that every woman is born with something that we want but can never have; something we can take but never own; something we can replicate but never appreciate.
Men don’t understand vaginas, and because of that we fear them. It wasn’t until my ex-wife became pregnant with our first child that I finally realised what vaginas were really for. But over time I came to see the beauty and the power of the “hairy chequebook”, and it will forever have my respect.
So there you have it. The answer to world peace? Let’s all sit down and talk about our periods.Pass me the chocolate…(sob) I’m so fat!