Monday, December 31, 2007

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
.
(Philip Larkin)

The Information, which is nothing and comes at night.

In his big fat tubthumper of a novel The Information Martin Amis says a writer should be able to say that he’s never had to pay for it (being published) in his life. The unintentional irony being, of course, that Amis paid a high price for writing this particular novel – that being a huge public falling out with his publisher (whom he fired) and then-friend, author Julian Barnes, husband of Amis’ former publisher, which culminated in a series of friendship-ending emails which Amis reproduced (partly) in his autobiography.

You can read the rest of this entry, which really does get better, at the CNG Lending Library site.

If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it

I fear I may have posted this once before, but this time it's in honour of Johnsy's idea of a good way to spend $42.

Implausible Claims Made by Vanilla Ice in His 1990 No. 1 Hit "Ice Ice Baby." (Courtesy of McSweeneys)
  • "Ice is back with my brand-new invention."
  • "Turn off the lights and I'll glow."
  • "I rock a mike like a vandal."
  • "I'm killin' your brain like a poisonous mushroom."
  • "I'm cooking MCs like a pound of bacon."
  • "I go crazy when I hear a cymbal and a high hat."
  • "I grabbed my nine."
  • "I'm a lyrical poet."
  • "My style's like a chemical spill."
  • "If my rhyme was a drug, I'd sell it by the gram."
  • "If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it."

NYE: Not Young Enough

I’m sure it can’t be just me but does New Years Eve get slightly less exciting every year? I am still just about young enough to remember days when it interested me but clearly I am also getting just a bit too old because this year all I can muster is a shrug of my aged shoulders.

In Ye Olden Days I recall weekends spent shopping for a new top for the night, discussions of the pros and cons of various going-out options, the purchase of booze, the preparatory bath on the day in question. I still remember making a panicky phonecall to a good friend of mine many years ago while in the middle of a dressing-for-NYE crisis. “Will I look like a prostitute if I wear a slutty corset top with slutty knee high boots?” I wanted to know (For the record: yes I did).

Another friend and I were recently discussing our ideal New Years Eve. I think the consensus was a big boozy dinner party with everyone we liked, nobody we didn’t and the opportunity for some enthusiastic if misguided dancing. That sounds bloody good to me. Traipsing around the city in sky-high heels and forking out loads of dosh for five drink tokens and the right to have my arse felt up by a sweaty bogan does not.

Maybe if I were carefree and single I might feel differently but, even so, I think New Years is undergoing the same change for me that Christmas did between the ages of about 15 and 20. Once the excitement, the magic and the hedonism are gone all you’re left with is a day off work, a credit card bill and a crushing hangover.

Is this was getting old feels like?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Why should David Hicks have to say he’s sorry?

Actually I’ve pretty much said all I wanted to say in the title of this post so you get the idea.
Fuck off Mike Rann and the freaks who called into talkback radio this morning. They can all zip it up before they take this ‘Hicks should apologise to the nation’ idea to its natural conclusion of public self-flagellation, which one senses that can’t be too far away.

At least we can thank God (or, rather, the voting public) for Kevin Rudd, who has refused to jump on the Today-Tonight-watching-support-winning train and has come out to say Hicks should be treated like any other ex-prisoner.

Ex-fucking-actly.

He has done his time. Six years in Guantanamo Bay – most of it spent without having been charged – is called doing his time. Other criminals, when they’re done serving their sentence, aren’t required to apologise to their nation or to anyone and, I say, rightly so. Sending people to prison might not be the best way to deal with criminal behaviour in all cases but it is, apparently, the only way we have, so let’s show some faith in the freaking system and say that if someone is charged, convicted and sent to prison they have been appropriately punished.

Milestone

The word ‘milestone’ here might be a slight misnomer. At least it seems to me that events I now consider to be milestones are getting progressively lamer. Case in point today’s milestone is not that I got to write a cracker of a story at work, or that I resisted the urge to do that thing while getting dressed where you turn sideways to check out your tummy/arse/general wobbly bits. Instead it’s merely that a story of mine survived without getting absolutely rewritten by my boss. Some people might think this is, er, a normal, ever day occurrence. These people know nothing. This is a great day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This one comes with a disclaimer of extreme self indulgence

I know it’s not quite the end of the year but I’m in a reflective mood so bear with me or go and have a nice cup of tea and wank or something instead. Here come the self indulgent ramblings of a madwomen but I’m not going to try to stop myself because 2007 has been… well it’s been a pretty big year for me actually. A bit weird too. Some of the reasons why it’s been a bit that way are, sadly, not bloggable but most of them are so here I go…

WEIRDEST BIT: A toss-up between the job I find myself doing (and sort of liking) these days and the reasonably bizarre events of a few months ago that started with my calling a UK book reviewer a cock on this very blog and ended with me eating my words and finding out in person he was actually completely lovely. One makes for a better story but the other is probably more unexpected.

BEST BIT: Paul Keating said Kevin Rudd’s election victory felt like he’d been hosed down after ten years of being covered in toxic muck – I can’t put it better myself.

WORST BIT: Bad news affecting one of my favourite people in the world, about which I’ve only just learned, am still taking in and cannot go into here.

BIGGEST SUCCESS: Probably getting this job and not (so far) fucking it up. Of course the former came with a little help from my friends but they know who they (read: he) knows who they (read: he) are (read: is).

BIGGEST REGRET: I can’t think of anything more dire so I’ll go with the fact I have accrued a frankly ludicrous amount of parking tickets this year. The mind boggles.

BEST PURCHASE: Surely the plane ticket to take me to New York, Argentina and London two short months ago. I didn’t realise how much I needed a holiday until I spent those precious days drinking my way from BA to Mendoza. Although the dual purchases of two House DVDs and Flight of the Conchords also rate a mention.

WORST PURCHASE: Is there such a thing? Oh, okay, the stupid amounts of cashola I have spent on buying my lunch and frequently my breakfast every single day.

BEST NEW FIND: Books have been this years theme so it’s a toss-up between the gaspworthy Evelyn Waugh and the toe-curlingly good Raymond Chandler but I think the former has it by a nose. And for you non-literary types it must be Peep Show – the funniest new(ish) show I’ve seen in ages.

IN A YEAR’S TIME I WOULD LIKE TO BE: Working on my second novel with the help of a big fat advance check. Ahem.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Actually I said just take an inch off...

Could Sweeney Todd be the best film ever made? I mean just going by this picture? I say yes, and it's got nothing to do with my love of a) Johnny Depp b) murderous barbers c) Helena Bonham Carter, or d) all of the above. Oh and is there a name for that big thick grey streak through Johnny's hair? Because, um, I love that too.

Ho, ho, ho?

Je-sus Christ, these are the creepiest Santa's (snapped in India) I've ever seen in my life. Why hasn't someone made a horror movie about them yet?

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Last Pauper

Oh crap. I’m pretty sure the depression and the terror and the vows to never do that again are supposed to start after Christmas but I’m getting to the front of the line right now because I am poor. Very, very poor.

Oh okay, fine, I’m not living on the street, or eating cold beans out of a tin or anything but Je-sus, where has my money gone? Certainly it is true, as a dear friend noted, that my book collection has expanded somewhat to fit my pretty new bookcase, and yes, I admit, I might have gone a little overboard with one or two small purchases this year but frick, this must stop.

So my plan is this, and I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty cunning one. I will simply gorge myself on Christmas – not just on the food but on the presents, the booze, the socialising. I will suck out every little drop of marrow from its bony, um, bony something and feast. This is to prepare me for the coming famine, in which there will be no (or, rather, fewer) meals out, minimal extravagant morning mochas and no more amazon.com at all. Drastic, I know, but these are desperate times, friends.

In the meantime I’m going to have a bloody great Christmas, or, as I prefer to call it, a Last Supper. All of you enjoy yours too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Riddle me this...

I love a good quiz. Better yet I love a good quiz at (almost) Christmas time when extra spools of time are just rolling about for you to pick them up and it's quite acceptable to do fuck all for three hours and still be wearing your dressing gown at the end of those three hours. Oh what was I saying? Yes, check out this rather good quiz, which includes gems such as:
"A handy visual system that gives people with no personality some palpable criteria to judge each other by"

(The answer: fashion).

And as I'm currently without internet capabilities at home and may not blog for a day or two, to anyone I don't speak to in the next couple of days have a brilliant Christmas and a drink for me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Well, well, well...

Smugness goes before a fall.

“Actually work’s going well,” I’ve told a handful of people this week. “Good stories, think my boss doesn’t hate me blah blah blah.”

It was all true – things were going well, I had written some good stories and I wasn’t feeling completely out of my depth. In fact I can confess to you alone, dear reader, that I was feeling quite comfortable. Quite competent even. Oh Kate.

When will I learn? Will it take more than spending working my arse off to find a new angle on a story for which the well is well and truly dry, finally coming up with what I think is a pretty good story only to have it chopped in half and jammed together with another story on the same subject? For the second time this week? I would sit down and cry but that well, too, is dry from over use.

Frick, lesson learned, weekend earned and I’m off to get drunk.

NOTE – Since soliciting friends on my blog has become the closest I get to a social life in these days of 11-hour days, if anyone wants to see the Leonard Cohen doco I’m Your Man (coming out next week) then I’m your girl – call me, we’ll talk about it.

Chairman update

The cat and I have reached a truce. She will eat a mouthful of drugged food if I will leave her alone the remaining 23.5 hours. It is done. I'm a cat person agan - hurrah.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mother? Not Mother?

I am starting to feel a bit old. It's not so much the fact that two lovely friends of mine recently got engaged, nor even the fact that I agree just a teensy bit with Charlie Brooker when he says:
"Clubs are such insufferable dungeons of misery, the inmates have to take mood-altering substances to make their ordeal seem halfway tolerable. This leads them to believe they "enjoy" clubbing. They don't. No one does. They just enjoy drugs.
Drugs render location meaningless. Neck enough ketamine and you could have the best night of your life squatting in a shed rolling corks across the floor. And no one's going to search you on the way in. Why bother with clubs? "Because you might get a shag," is the usual response. Really? If that's the only way you can find a partner - preening and jigging about like a desperate animal - you shouldn't be attempting to breed in the first place. What's your next trick? Inventing fire? People like you are going to spin civilisation into reverse. You're a moron, and so is that haircut you're trying to impress."

No, no what is making me feel old is the idea of Lily Allen being a mother. I like Lily Allen - both her music and my perception of her personality. I can see why she drives people up the wall but, frick, she's only 22 and I've always sort of admired her ballsy attitude but... a child? Jesus, this is what people do now, is it? Have brilliant fledgling career, find some boy and breed?

I shouldn't be harsh because I don't have anything (ok much) against people who want to procreate but at 22 - really? You're going to spend the next 18 years of your life looking after this thing, are you? It's parenthood from here on out?

Actually I really should shut up because at least I like Lily Allen, other then the other halfwits who seem to pop them out at absurdly early ages. Better Lily Allen, I should feel, than the female equivalent of that dude who beat his "difficult" child With. A. Belt. And yet... Either way I shudder at the idea that I could have had a child three years ago, making me the same age as Ms Allen. Bloody Hell. Putting aside the poor state the damn child would be in by now how different would my life be? I wouldn't have the job I do, or the job I had, meaning I wouldn't have the friends I do, do the things I do and, by assocation, think the things I think. My view, backed up by absolutely nothing in the way of evidence, has always been, that having a child means putting yourself second for the next 18 years. I may be a hideous selfish person in recognising that I may never be ready for that, but at least I realise that, unlike the hoard of fucksticks breeding right now and, yes, You Know Who You Are.

So, okay, I may be old, but look at the bright side = I would feel even older if I had a motherflipping three year old child, instead of a brilliant book collection and a cat composed entirely of silky magnificence.

Whine, anyone?

What a weird experience it can be working on a breaking story. Unlike ye olden days when I had days, if not a week, so sit on my arse and hunt for a new angle trying to keep ahead of a story can be a bit of a thrill. Of course it can also be a huge pain in the arse.

Case in point: when I left work yesterday I’d written a corker of a story for page one. My first page one, hurrah, I was bloody stoked. Then I get up today to find it’s not only been bumped (which, you know, okay) but is barely recognisable, though admittedly greatly improved, and now wearing a joint byline.

I know most journos must, sooner or later, have the experience of writing their wee hearts out only to have the story chopped and changed and half of what they wrote nowhere to be found but it is not a very nice one. Even worse when I discover the bleeding Fin has the stuff that was dropped so I can’t even recycle it for tomorrow.

Meh, I’m sorry, I’m just whining.

Next week: hilarity.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chairman Meow

I am currently cat sitting for a dear friend of mine. In the course of these cat sitting duties I am required to give her a daily tablet. It sounded easy enough when I agreed to do it, honestly. The cat in question is is soft to the couch, teensy tiny delicate and adorable to look at. I think I might hate her.

We got off to a bad start when I accosted her with a towel on Day One. The idea being I would bundle her up, open her little jaws and pop the tablet in. Weeelll not so much. The first part was okay - I bundled her up alright, or kinda, but she hissed and spat like a bitch and I was one part scared of being bitten and one part sorry for her so I let her go, figuring I'd wait a few hours until she was used to having me in her house, started to trust me and realised I was actually A Cat Person.

So we move to Day Two when I decided to get things off to a cracking start. I got the tablets out, opened the bottle, shook one out, snapped it in half, put the other half back in the bottle... only to realise belatedly that Miss Kitty knew all too well what all those sounds meant and was now hiding under the bed.

"Come on Maisie," I cooed, down on all fours "come on sweetie." Nuthin'

Then I made error number one, which was shoving some random crap under the bed to force her out. Er no, she didn't go for it but folded herself into an area the size of a hamster's rump and stared back at me with something I horribly suspected might be fear. Error two was trying to go back to Plan A.

"Come on, darling," I called to her, slowly and guiltily extending my hand beneath the bed in the universal sign of friendship, "I didn't mean to scare you, come to - oh fuck! fuck!"

The little bitch had shredded my hand. More than that she'd left one of her beastly claws embedded in my skin.

Right, I thought, two can play at this game. This was where things began to escalate and Go To A Bad Place. I decided to try a new strategy, reasoning that a month of trying to corner the little thing and stuff my fingers down its throat was going to be a long month indeed. So I simply I took all her food up off the ground, crushed a tablet into the bowl and mixed it up with a bit of fresh food. I put it down, the cat eventually emerged, sniffed it and retreated in disgust.

"I can wait!" I called after her retreating tail. And wait I could. But so, apparently, could she.

Returning home on the afternoon of Day Two (today) I found the food still uneaten. Only mildly concerned I could be starting down a bad road that ended with me starving a small, mostly innocent creature to death I emptied out the old stuff, crushed another tablet into the bowl and mixed it with some fresh food."Come and get it diddums!" I called. The cat eventually came, sniffed it and retreated.

Nevertheless I remained confident. I was, after all, a human and she was a mere feline. When it came to balancing on stuff or licking her armpits she had me beat but when it came to cunning and willpower I did, I felt, have the advantage.

"It's a battle of wills, now," I told Andy confidently. "What can she do? Sooner or later she's going to get hungry."

It was the 'what can she do?' that tempted fate, I believe. Because five minutes later I returned to the bedroom to find the little minx had shat on the floor, ignoring the presence of two clean litter trays. She paused to glance over her shoulder at me with an expression that clearly said Try Me, Bitch and disappeared under the bed.

The battle has begun...

DISCLAIMER: Lindsay, if you're reading this, er, don't be alarmed. I may have made a catskin windcheater out of your cat by the time you return but otherwise the flat is completely fine.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mistakes, mishapes, mistakes

People do things that are bad for them all the time. Well, no shit.

We do them even though we know they’re bad, of course we do. Why? Not, most of the time, because we want to self destruct but because things that are bad for us are often fun. I eat that delicious iced donut because I know it will taste fucking good, even if I’ll regret it later while staring at my gently undulating stomach. I open that second bottle of wine because I want the finest wines available to humanity even though I know I will vow to give up drinking forever as I chip my tooth (again) on the toilet bowl. I send that text message because it’s fun at the time and I can’t bear not to send it, even if I know it’s very ill-advised and I’ll be red-faced when I see the recipient.

But the line between doing things that are bad for us but can be borne and doing things that cost us too much is very fine. Like the line between being a heavy drinker and an alcoholic; between being greedy beggar who could stand to lose a few kilos and being obese; between indulging in harmless fun to doing things that actually make you miserable.

I… don’t really have a point but these are the lines that all of us have to manage every day, constantly, is all I’m saying. And sometimes, shit, it’s really hard. And, no, I shan't tell you what I've been doing but none of it is good - sigh.

Raymond Chandler breaks my heart...

This post probably belongs on the lending library blog but I'm too lazy to stop now that I've started and this is, after all, a short one. Namely a plea that anyone who hasn't read Raymnd Chandler or who thinks that noir is outdated and that most quintessential of hard-boiled private investigators Philip Marlowe has become a caricature should think again and get thee to a bookstore or library.

Amazingly funny, so cleverly paced you don't even notice you've been reading for two hours and sometimes hardbreaking Chandler is, quite simply, required reading for anyone who has an interest in... you know, anything. I'll leave you with the opening lines to The Long Goodbye and the warning that there will be a quiz on RC next time I see each of you - so read up:
"The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers. The parking lot attendant had brought the car out and he was still holding the door open because Terry Lennox's left foot was still dangling outside, as if he had forgotten he had one. He had a young face but his hair was bone white. You could tell by his eyes that he was plastered to the hairline, but otherwise he looked like any other nice young guy in a dinner jacket who had been spending too much money in a joint that exists for that purpose and no other." (The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler)

Party time, party time

Meeting the partners of people you work with is always cool because they never look the way you expect them to. It's always the straight-laced fucker who has some awesome kooky wife with crazy glasses who insists on wearing what looks suspiciously like a pair of curtains, someone always surprises you by turning up with a complete hottie and, this weekend, I nearly put my foot in it after the complete operation breakdown of my (frankly already a piece of shit) gaydar.

Meeting people's partners is fascinating because it gives you a weird insight into their personality that you never get otherwise. I don't just mean you find out if they're a t or a sort of a man but I get bizarre amounts of pleasure watching people interact with their spouses and trying to figure out how their relationship works and what makes it a good match. But, you know, pr'aps that's just me. I might need some hobbies.

In a festive season crammed with Christmas party upon Christmas party these sorts of pleasures are what make the endless work-related festivities bearable, or even worthwhile. I often loathe work parties because it smacks a little of some sort of hideous en masse team building exercise in which we bond over cold sausages and warm wine but this year I've been having a ball. Granted I did make the error of leaving a certain party on Friday night before the fisticuffs broke out (for which I'm still kicking myself, I assure you) but the rest of the time, through several parties, I have rather enjoyed finding out more about current and past colleagues, including who has a degree in classics and the mind of a scholar, who once saw Midnight Oil play three times in one week and who is a total lush. Oh wait that last one was me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

When I'm a among a blaze of lights

When I’m among a blaze of lights,
With tawdry music and cigars
And women dawdling through delights,
And officers in cocktail bars,
Sometimes I think of garden nights
And elm trees nodding at the stars.

I dream of a small firelit room
With yellow candles burning straight,
And glowing pictures in the gloom,
And kindly books that hold me late.
Of things like these I choose to think
When I can never be alone:

Then someone says ‘Another drink?’
And turns my living heart to stone.

(Siegfried Sassoon)

Pros and Cons

This happened yesterday about 3.30pm on a day with an early deadline when I was trying to skive off work on time to attend a party and mop up some free booze:

"Hey (editor's name), how much do you want on that Neptune story?"

"Not as much as I want on the lead you're about to write."

"Um what?"
.
"Oh yeah we need a lead - you're writing it."

One of the things I have found hardest about the new job is the shadow of a daily deadline. When you have a weekly deadline you can reflect on your stories a lot more. Opening paragraphs can be fiddled with, angles considered overnight and the whole thing generally polished.
.
With a daily deadline everything has to be done immediately. You have to make decisions faster, think not less but quicker and trust yourself more. The pay off, of course, is seeing your story in print the next day and feeling a thrill of 'I did that' pride.
.
On the downside (again) my blog readers have to read this self congratulatory slush. It's all about pros and cons, isn't it?

Apologies for being a slack blogger, I have been occupied with two of the following three things:

  • Packing up my wordly belongings and swearing to chuck half the shite out... just as soon as I've moved.
  • Being wretchedly hungover.
  • Having a brilliant time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over and the lamps expire." (Robert E. Howard)

I know this is morbid but I have always been a bit fascinated by suicide notes.
.
Yes, yes, that does sound a bit wrong but it’s a strangely rewarding feeling to read someone’s last words and wonder what they were thinking at the time.
.
Captain L.E.G Oates’ famous remark, for instance, as he left Scott’s tent during the ill-fated Antarctic expedition, knowing he was slowing the others down and after having begged them to leave him behind, “I’m just going outside; I may be away some time” might be stretching the definition of a suicide note but it never fails to give me chills.
.
French writer Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort’s - “And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead” - has always been a favourite for poignancy, while at the other end of the scale there is Hunter S Thompson (and you can insert your own ‘who went out with a bang’ joke here) whose note I find weirdly comforting:
“No more Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun for anybody. 67. You are getting greedy. Act your old age.
Relax. This won’t hurt.”
Meanwhile if you’re going to use your death to get back at someone who has treated you poorly you could do worse than cribbing from poet Sara Teasdale who left this stinging slap for the lover who’d left her:

“When I am dead, and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain drenched hair,
Though you should lean above me broken hearted,
I shall not care,
For I shall have peace.
As leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough.
And I shall be more silent and cold hearted
Than you are now.”

Why yes I have just spoiled the end of Bladerunner for you, why do you ask?

So you decide who the bigger spanner in this scenario is.

Is it the dicksnap who thought it was a good idea to have my call to their mobile company greeted with a recorded voice so very intent on Keeping It Real?

Honestly, what marketing wankhead came up with the concept to humanise said recorded voice by giving her a name (“Lara”), forcing her to use colloquialisms (er white hot rage has erased the memory of what they were but they were there) and feigned sincerity (“He-ey, looks like we’re having technical difficulties. I’ll have to put you through to one of my colleagues. I’m really sorry about this”)?

I don’t particularly care if I’m talking to a robot. I don’t really care if I’m talking to a person. What I don’t want is some kind of patronising-as-fuck she-robot on the other end of the line, pretending to care about my problems. I just want a new phone.

So that’s spanner number one.

Spanner number two, sadly, is the human on the other end of the line who dialled the phone company’s number, talked to the she-robot, hung on the line, was transferred, was transferred again, hung on the line… and then remembered she’s not even with Vodafone. Nor has she ever been. Hmm.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Milestone time

Well I've had my eye on the counter for a bit, watching it slooowly inch towards 5000 and there you go: today it made it. Brilliant. I should celebrate with some kind of hi-larious blog but, um, I feel like death. I'm sorry... but thanks, dearest reader(s).

Monday, December 10, 2007

You might think there’s nothing worse than being betrayed by someone you love but you’d be wrong. There is. It’s called being both betrayed by someone you love - by which I mean those two adorable will-they-won’t-they-or-have-they-already film reviewers David and Margaret – and having to sit through two hours plus of slushy pretentious wank as a result.

Reviewing Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless (otherwise known as “Alexander Supertramp”) who flags off the lure of Harvard law, donates his college fund to Oxfam and takes off on a road trip that eventually leads him to Alaska, Margaret said the following:

“He’s written a beautiful screenplay and taken risks with the direction, which all pay off, and he’s elicited magnificent performances, especially from Emile Hirsch. It is so close to being a masterpiece…”
Well thanks, Margs, but I’ve been burnt before. No offence but around about the time you slammed Pulp Fiction and gave The Fast and the Furious four stars I started to tready warily around you, keeping my distance as I would from a well-intentioned but senile aunt trying to feed me buttons and telling me they’re boiled lollies.

Let the casting vote be Davids, sweet David, who likes complete cheese as much as he enjoys obscure Norwegian crap even David Lynch would dismiss as ‘weird’. This is what David said:
“(Sean Penn’s) a good director and this is a very good film. I was completely captured by this story, by this epic adventure…”

Well. Well, well, well. Welly, welly, welly… The thing is it is an epic adventure and it is a great story. It’s just an awful shame the movie sucks balls. Only Sean Penn, who takes himself about as seriously as the Holocaust, could distil a potentially beautiful story into a pile of clich├ęs that beat the viewer over the head from the start and doesn’t let up until you’re lying on the floor among stale popcorn by the end, whimpering softly.

Granted Emile Hirsch, playing Chris, does a great job and looks sometimes quite breathtakingly hot while he does it and Hal Holbrook, playing a 90-year-old tearjerker, is indeed tearjerkingly efficient but a stubbled hottie and a red-eyed octogenarian does not a masterpiece make.

David and Margaret can expect their letters returned unopened and the photo collage David made of the three of us to be consigned to the bin. The dream is over.

But I can still enjoy my new flatscreen when the earth has died, right?

I don’t know if anyone has had read today’s Australian Financial Review (I’m thinking maybe not...) but something jumped right off the front page at me today. An article on Kyoto, greenhouse emissions blah blah (please don’t stop reading) cites an interim report from consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers that says Australia could cut its emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 without damaging the economy.

Did you hear that all you stupid bints who go on about how much all this ‘saving the world’ malarkey is going to cost our lifestyle? And yes I am talking about someone in particular who is not a blog reader but who may or may not pay my wages so um, let me just keep right on going there...

Anyway this is pretty amazing stuff if it’s true and something I don’t think I’ve read anywhere else. One of the consultants said: “We are not going to bankrupt the economy, we are actually going to save some money.”

And this isn’t in Socialist Weekly or the short-lived by much-loved family newsletter I wrote and printed between the years of 1991 and 1992 – it’s the Fin flipping Review. Why are we not doing this already? Why did we not do this yesterday?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another copy of Maurice, Kate? You shouldn't have... no you REALLY shouldn't have...

Is there anything more fun than buying books for other people?

I don't think even buying books for yourself is quite as enjoyable. This Christmas, just for a change, everyone is getting books, so I have spent long hours considering which books to give to which people and having a surprisingly brilliant time doing so.
Buying books for other people is really all about the delicate balance between buying someone What They Would Actually Like and What You Think They Should Be Reading. In the past I have tended towards the latter choice but that way lies danger, as I have discovered by bitter experience. So this year I think I have actually managed to buy people books they might like, books they could even read instead of just sticking in the bookshelf and (worst case scenario) possible regifting to others.

In the course of this endeavour I have discovered that, as with a lot of things, the joy of choosing a book for someone - weighing the volume in your hand, opening to the first page to read the first sentence they will met and the mental gymnastics of marrying the perfect book to the perfect person - is probably greater than the joy they will get from reading the book. In many cases, no doubt, I've failed completely to assess my friends and family's reading tastes and have bought them another doorstop.

Even so, walking out of the bookstore today, positively weighed down by books and with considerably less cash than I'd had an hour previously, I felt almost as excited as I used to as a kid on Christmas morning which, I think, is saying something.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My life is off the hook

I think I've lost my mobile again. Fuck it, I can't do this again: the replacement sim card, the new phone, more numbers I've lost, more messages I've missed and calls I couldn't answer. It's only been a couple of months since I lost the last one and I don't even know how I did it this time. I had the stupid thing when I left work on Friday, I didn't have it when I got home and now it's gone. The home phone is broken and I don't have anybody's number anyway. Fuck. This.

Friday, December 7, 2007

No, no Plathy, there's no place for you here...

Allow me to defend this post before I begin.

Hard as it may be for regular reader to believe I do try not to write self congratulatory blogs on here. If you’re one of my friends you get enough of that in person and if there’s anything more dull than reading about somebody else’s achievements it’s probably only listening to them spruik charities and post poetry.

But a kind-hearted friend of mine emailed me yesterday to ask why I was so “fucking miserable” and if I was okay. I appreciated the concern. I’m not that wildly brilliant, as it happens but, as I assured him, I’m not going to do a Sylvia Plath either. For a start my oven is electric. But it did make me think I might be inclined to posting a bit doom and gloom on here sometimes. Sooo I thought I’d share some good news. Even if it is good in a way that neither benefits nor interests anyone but me.

There you go, there’s my disclaimer and what an anticlimax to report that my good mood is only because I actually sniffed out a decent story today all on my lonesome. It’s not a big story at all, it’s not that exciting and no doubt it will be cut to a five centimetre brief on page 909 but I don’t care – for the first day in a while I don’t feel like an incompetent boob and for the second time in oooh a month my boss has actually gone for one of my lamearse ideas. Brilliant.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oh I have the money, I just don't have the will to live after reading the post...

If you're running short on time and fear you might not be able to make it through this post make I make the following suggestion: find yourself a can of mace, spray yourself directly in the eyes and then slap yourself in the face. This will be about as enjoyable as reading the post and probably a bit quicker. Because, you see, I Have A Cause.

Today I saw Tim Costello, of World Vision Australia, speak. I wasn't much looking forward to it because it was a work schmoozefest and (as predicted) I was stuck next to a complete gimp and given a lamb chop to gnaw on, thanks to a small oversight on the veggo side of things. But as it turned out it was three hours well spent because Costello gave a great speech. There was nothing in there most of us haven't heard before - why the wealthy western world has a moral and economic obligation to help the third world, how simple such help could be, how ridiculous the choices are that we make when we choose a larger flat screen over helping to save someone's life - but he boiled it down in a nice way to the point that I felt like empty my wallet as well as being close to tears. (Although there is a chance the latter may have been the fact I was running on two hours sleep at the time).

He also used the phrase 'lottery of latitude' - a lottery all of us won because we weren't born in a third world country or into extreme poverty. It's a pretty obvious concept but it's also pretty amazing if you start thinking about the kind of life we could all be living (or not as the case may well be) if we were born in certian parts of Africa, Asia or South America.

Costello also drew a comparison between third world poverty and a beggar on the street. When you see a beggar, he said, I think you all feel something, some sort of tug on your conscience. Even if you keep walking and don't give him anything it has an effect on you. (Considering it was a business lunch I wasn't entirely sure he had the fat cats convinced but whatever). Why then? he asked, don't we feel the same way when we ignore third world poverty and turn away from people in just as much, if not far more, need? The answer is, of course, that it is because we can't see them but that's completely fucked really.

I tend to think of myself as a reasonably caring person - I give to this charity or that, I do tend to give beggars coins if I have them, I buy the bloody Big Issue and have conversations at dinner parties about gosh how darned awful some people have it. And all that means precisely fuck all. The reality is that I spend more money on books in a month than I do on charity. I probably spend more on stockings and I certainly spend more on mochas. Is a hot beverage more satisfying than helping to improve the life of someone I can't meet or speak to on the other side of the world? It's an absurd idea. But does it matter? Will it stop me from buying my morning mocha tomorrow? We shall see but I doubt it.

What it won't stop me doing, however, is signing up to World Vision and the entire purpose of this post is, obviously, to encourage you to do the same, or at least to do a bit of Christmas shopping on their website. Seriously, dudes, don't tell me you don't have the money.

NOTE: First poetry and now charity, Je-sus. Tell you what - donate to WV and I'll try to crack a joke sometimes. Or um, at least find a really, really hot picture of James Franco... sans pantaloons.

I remember the days when 'style' referred to your ability to pull off jaunty hat or wear fancy pants...

I have plenty of sympathy and little judgy-judgement for people who want to kill themselves. I would, of course, be devastated and furious if any of my loved ones did so (yeah that means you, you know who you are) without talking to me first but my view is that everyone’s life should be theirs to live or not as they choose. You know what’s not cool? Taking eight other people with you just to “go out in style” like the demented dicksnap who opened fire at an Omaha department store today. Jesus, man, if you don’t want to be here then fine – go for it – but there are plenty of people who still do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quotable Quotes: Desert Places


Snow falling and night falling fast, oh fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
.
The woods around it have it - it is theirs,
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-minded to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanket whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places
(Robert Frost)
.
NOTE: I am sorry to go all your poetry on your arse - reading someone else's idea of a good poem is only a step up from reading their own shiteful poetry, in my opinion, but I'm just a bit too shattered to blog intelligibly and this is a very prettily sad poem. Plus it's Frost and I'm pretty sure it's illegal not to like him. Between now and next time I will try to think up an innane topic to write about or somebody new I can insult and then befriend...

Clackety clack clack

Everthing seems like a good idea when you don't have to actually, you know, do anything about it doesn't it? This includes simple pleasures like opening a bottle, those drunken conversations where you decide you're going to move to South America to raise sheep and tomorrow you'll nut out the details or the vow that, yes really, you're going to start running every day. It's a bit like Jerry Seinfeld's very amusing bit about Night Guy always screwing over Morning Guy by not giving a shit about the consequences.

Anyway all this is a long-winded way of saying I have a new stupid plan, which is that I'll do an hour of proper writing before work each day. Brilliant, right? Sounds so easy. So efficient. So hard-working. Well yes, yes and yes. Yet today is the first morning of this plan: I'm still half asleep, I'm completely groggy and, far from the sort of writing I had planned, I'm blogging. Hmm. I'm tempted to handball this one back to After Work girl...

Monday, December 3, 2007

London brawling

I am sometimes asked, though it is rarely couched in these terms, to shut the fuck up about London. That is to stop my eyes from coming over all dreamy whenever I think about moving back there or, perhaps, to better conceal my rage and jealousy when a beloved friend (*sniff* I miss you already) decides she is heading that way. But honestly, quite aside from the phsyicality of London how can anyone not want to live in a city where these kinds of debates go on in the pages of a daily newspaper. I don't know if anyone else has been reading the Martin-Amis-is-racist-oh-wait-no-he's-not-and-I-say-this-as-a-personal-friend rants going on in The Guardian but the latest installment is out and, as ever, it's fascinating. Read it and we can move there together. Call me, we'll talk about it, etc.

Yes even if I count Hungry Jacks...

The worst job I ever had was probably the job I never actually got.

For one long day many, many years ago I ‘worked’ (in the sense that I sweated blood and tears, not in the sense that I was paid for it) at a truly crappy souvenir store in the city. Don’t ask me why I wanted the job – I can only assume I had acquired a number of habits it was necessary to finance and time has blurred the memory of what those habits might have been.

Anyway the job interview turned into a day trial working behind the counter to “see how I handled it”. How I handled it was, by general consensus of the vaguely creepy couple who ran the place, pretty crappily. This was, perhaps, unsurprising given I’d never worked in retail, didn’t care much for customers and found the shop’s eccentric and frequently contradictory pricing system completely impenetrable. Plus, you know, you try giving a shit about poorly made tshirts with the Australian flag on them or crappy emu figurines that fall apart if you blink at them twice.

At the end of a soul-crushing day I went home (unpaid) feeling exhausted but mildly confident of having acquired gainful employment... only to receive a phone call that night telling me they didn’t think I had quite the right skill-set for the job. “However,” the store’s co-owner told me in a tone that suggested she had a nice boiled lolly for me if I could recite all the words to The Owl and the Pussycat, “we like you so if you want to come back tomorrow for another trial we could see how you go.”

I didn’t go back the next day but, ridiculously, I still feel a faint sense of was-I-really-that-shit embarrassment when I think about that crappy job and what might have been.

The point is, however, that there are a lot of truly bad jobs out there and thinking about them never fails to raise the spirits in a slightly sick schadenfreudey sort of way.

For those for whom my tale of exploitation and woe was not enough to perk you up The Idler, that most delightful of companion for those of us who prefer not to raise a sweat, has a nice little collection of reminiscences about the worst jobs people have had that makes good reading.

These jobs include weedbusting, washing up, and working in a syringe needle factory but also supposedly glamorous jobs like working on an animated movie (a nice reminder, if we need it, that just because a job looks good from the outside if it makes us miserable it is Not a Good Thing) and genrally is rather a good antidote for anyone who has had a crappy day.

For the record, today at least, that does not include me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Suburban dilemma

As many of you know I have to move out of my beloved Northbridge apartment in about three weeks. As many of you also know I have been so unbelievably slack (and have also been a victim of circumstances outside my control, I assure you) getting it together that I have left it to the last possible moment to find a new place. Meaning I shall be homeless in oooh 15 days or so.

The circumstances-out-of-my-control bit is more or less to do with where I want to live. Which is to say I want to live in Northbridge and my would-be roomie not only does not but has rejected a perfectly wonderful place just down the road on the grounds that it does not accept pets and appparently he now requires a dog (the fact that the proposed dog would be called Jean Luc Picard is not quite enough to melt my icy heart). I love, love, living in the middle of the city, love the immediacy of everything, love the close proximity of my beloved Tarts and so on this one point I have been extremely firm. I may even have yelled, once or twice, that I was not ready to move to the fucking suburbs, buy a dog and spend my weekends at Bunnings.

And then my lovely parents not only go and drop a huge chunk of my future inheritance on a sweet-as little place in Shenton Park but offer to rent it to us at a knock-down fee and I'm presented with a dilemna. The house itself is lovely - it has a great bath and a great living area, both surely necessities - and is generally very cute and aesthetically appealing. Furthermore this means I won't actually be homeless and living out of a storage facility in the near future but will have a sweet-arse house in a matter of weeks and will have a pair of very understanding landlords who won't require a reference from that stupid bitch Pam at Property People with whom I once exchanged a flurry of furious emails and who probably still has a doll-sized version of me with a pin sticking out of its left eye socket sitting on her desk.

So taking the Shenton Park place and sucking up my inner-city ambitions (for the short term anyway) may seem like an obvious step but I'm conflicted. On the one hand part of me actually believes that moving to the suburbs is the death of hope and the start of a trajectory that ends with me in a cable knit sweater watching The Bill, but the other part of me remembers that a)I was once perfectly happy in Mount Hawthorn, b)Shenton Park is a perfectly lovely suburb as suburbs go and c)I do own a perfectably serviceable (suspect thumping noise aside) vehicle with which to leave the suburbs when I choose to do so.

So I seek your opinion, readers. Am I being a big girl's blouse about the entire thing? Is it actually possible to find an awesome Northbridge apartment in 15 days that is big enough to fit the biggest couch every known to mankind (and the Chesterfield)? Should I just suck it up and start working on the cable knit sweater set now?
.
UPDATE: It has been brought home to me, ever so gently and kindly, that I am a bint who doesn't know how good she has it. This is true. Shenton Park is starting to sound rather appealing to me after all even if I don't get to live over the road from one crack den and two houses down from another. Sigh. Still, one can't have it all...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday night pleasures

"My flocks feed not, my ewes breed not,
My rams speed not, all is amiss:
Love is denying, Faith is denying,
Heart' renying, causer of this."
(Richard Barnfield)