Tuesday, 25 December 2007

What’s the best way to attach antlers to a cat’s head?

Thank you to everybody who told me I was old on my birthday. You really know how to make a guy feel like one’s 30th is a day to celebrate rather than a way-point on the long march to the grave.*Media Player*
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(The keyboard I'm typing this on has a whole lot of kwik buttons along the top to open 'Mail', 'My Computer', 'Favorites' etc. and there must be a loose connection somewhere as every time I hit the enter button, 'Media sodding Player' opens.)*Media Player*
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Seriously though, I’m not at all phased. I am older but I fully intend on living until at least 100 (Deathclock has me living until 86 so I figure that I'll get at least another 14 years from medical tech that hasn't been invented yet) so I’m only a shade under a third of the way through. If I was an hour-long police procedural drama, the first red-herring would have just shown up and I wouldn't even be up to the 2nd ad break yet.*Media Player*
*Media Player*

Seeing as I'm here anyway I'll just take this opportunity to extend the very best of Christmas wishes to the small but perfectly formed community of loyal readers that I’m sure only really exists in my mind. Today looks like it should be a good one so I'll sign off now and report back on Pugilistic Wednesday. After that, there’ll be some road trip enforced radio silence but I’ll more than make up for it by not shutting up about it when I get back. I’ve decided playing Guitar Hero is the best way to spread holiday cheer, so I’m off to throw my axe into a couple of verses of “Rock and Roll All Nite”.*Media Player*
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May your day be filled with stuffing, gravy and brandy butter,*Media Player*
G.*Media Player*
*Previous Page*
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I don’t usually do this but here’s the soundtrack for this blog. I never would have chosen this playlist but sometimes just chucking Winamp on shuffle works really well:*Media Player*
Finley Quaye - Waiting for You*Media Player*
Kooks - Time Awaits*Media Player*
The Killers - Somebody Told Me*Media Player*
The Beta Band - Dry the Rain*Media Player*
White Stripes - I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart*Media Player*

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Mo-thing better to do with my time

So, I’m taking part in Mo-vember

I have so far been compared to a villain from a silent movie

...2007 Swiss Eurovision entrant; DJ Bobo

...and a greasy footballer.

All I know is that I look ridiculous.

If you want to help keep me this way then please go HERE, select “sponsor a mo” and enter the rego – 150046

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand thanks you but I do not.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


My good friend Aran/Big Gay Al/Wal discovered the miracle of modern chemistry that is Bacon Salt.

He was so impressed with the idea of being able to make everything taste like bacon that he brought 15 jars of this magic dust and was kind enough to send some down to Phil and I. Since then, the three of us have been conducting scientific tests that have taken us right to the limits of culinary knowledge. We have stared into the eyes of the Gods McDonald, Fogle and Sanders and laughed in their faces.

As a public service announcement I present the results of the first round of “Baconated” experiments:

  • Baconated toast - Bad.
  • Baconated corn fritters - Good.
  • Baconated nachos - Also good.
  • Baconated chicken chips - Very bad. These are so much worse than I had imagined
  • Baconated salt and vinegar chips with roasted garlic and onion dip - Good, like spare ribs.
  • Baconated sauerkraut - Beschissenb
  • Baconated baguette - Kinda weird, not really good.
  • Baconated jam - Bad.
  • Baconated mince pie (beef) - Good but salty.
  • Baconated popcorn - Good.
  • Baconated lettuce - Bad.
  • Baconated crab stick sushi - Better than crab stick, but not as good as bacon. I’m going with ‘OK’ on this combo.
  • Baconated coffee – Bad.
  • Baconated cheese scone – Good.
  • Baconated last night’s pizza – Disappointing.
  • Baconated tea – About the same as Baconated coffee.
  • Baconated strawberry – Bad.
  • Baconated peanuts - Very good
  • Baconated chocolate – Bad.
  • Baconated mince pie (Christmas) - Devil’s underpants
  • Baconated corn fritters (2nd test) - Really good.
  • Baconated bacon - Not as good as you might expect, but still good. Next time will just cook more bacon.

*All credit must go to Phil for the title of this entry

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Seven kinds of stupid

I’ve got a first class honours degree and understand the basics of quantum physics but I still feel like the dumbest guy on the planet when I print out a document in portrait instead of landscape.

Monday, 15 October 2007

*Spoiler alert*

futureme.org allows you to write an email and then postdate the day of sending. So I wrote the email below and then set it to be sent to me a year later.

Dear FutureMe,

You're sitting here typing this letter when you should be doing other stuff. The board report is still waiting, Sales Guys are hounding you for formatting jobs and the Sales conference is 8 days away. You better be in a position you're enjoying and not just going through the daily grind like you are at the moment. You're coming up to the first anniversary of the marriage to the Wonderful Roo so if you haven't already, you need to move your butt and organise something kickass for that. Your hair should be very Orlando Bloom by now; if not why did you wimp out you wus. After making Roo happy the centre of your life should be writing. 'History' should be well on its way by now. If not, why not? Its the thing you enjoy the most and (B) it'll get you closer to a life you love. Remember in 5th year how you used to say to Roo - "Today is the best day of my life" - Well, that is what you should be striving for

If some of this has not happened this year, it's okay. Take deep cleansing breaths, look up at the ceiling and count to ten. Re-read the list and see if it still matters. Remember that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. Then start over and make things better. You can do so many things. Start it all by having an incredible summer.

Walk on, walk tall,

This arrived on the 8th of October 2006. It’s taken me just over a year longer than planned but today I started a new job I’m fairly sure I will enjoy. I organised something fairly great for our one-year anniversary (still need to finish planning our second anniversary) and my hair is (after a couple of false starts) getting Bloom-tastic. The part that still seems a way off is History – the working title of a thing I’m writing - but I’m hoping that finding the energy to write (and winning the war of art) will be easier with work less of a grind.

I still can’t quite go to sleep at night saying “I’ve never been happier” but I’m not far off. I feel like I’ve got the big things right (job, hair and relationship) so now I just need to fix the small bits (nasal hair, my lawn mowing technique, finding a decent muffin recipe…) because, every now-and-then, at the back of my mind I hear Tyler muttering, “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

Thursday, 6 September 2007

In which our hero finds himself getting all meta

You know those moments you have when you realise that not everyone else behaves the way you do? Maybe this is one of those moments for me right now? Perhaps no-one else has moments when they realise that no-one else a moment when they realise that not every one behaves the same way you do?

Any-hoo, I have a stock phrase that I use as shorthand for “something obscure and high brow”. For a long time it was “Mesopotamian basket weaving”*. An example would be discussing what papers someone should take at university and I’d finish with, “…and then you’d have 6 points you can use as an interest paper. Do a course in Mesopotamian basket weaving or something just to take your mind off dentistry for a while.”

For as long as I can remember, it’s been my stock phrase that I’d pull off the shelf when I needed a eccentric example at the end of a sentence. Then, last week, Robyn stayed a day extra in Auckland to spend time with our friend Simran while I had to get back to work. Some how it came up in conversation at work that Robs had stayed up north to spend time with a friend and the interlocutor asked, “So, what are they doing today?” I responded with a flippant, “I don’t know, shopping or something.”

The moment it came out I realised how dumb and chauvinistic I had sounded (even though Robs and Simran had talked about going shopping before I left) so I quickly back peddled and came up with, “…Or not. They could easily be sitting in a café, drinking espresso while discussing nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture.” (Interesting side bar, they didn’t actually go shopping but rather woke up late after too much Sangria the night before and had brunch in a nearby café so my second prediction was actually closer to the button though I doubt the topic of the Capitol Building in La Paz Lima ever arose as they sipped their trim flat whites). No idea where it came from or whether there was anything significant about architecture in Peru in the 50’s that would warrant a discussion but now “nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture” as usurped “Mesopotamian basket weaving” as my random, far-fetched intelligentsia example of choice.

I used it on myself while walking back from lunch the other day – “Idiot, did you think she was talking about nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture?” – and I suddenly realised that it’s unlikely that it’s normal to chastise yourself internally and I don’t suppose that most people have stock examples that they’re aware off and keep up their sleeve in case of a metaphoric emergency. Either way, I think I’m going to stop thinking (writing?) about this as it’s not like I'm an expert on nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture or anything.

*Yes, I realise that my short-hand phrase is longer than the phrase it’s replaced.

Friday, 17 August 2007

A ginger beer and a taco

I just found out that Kula Shaker is releasing a new album. I'm sure this is one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Even stranger is that a "Best of" album coming out that includes every track the 'band' has previously released. Surely that then also makes it a "Worst of" album.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The next thing you know they be denying the existence of Taiwan

Take a look at this and then come back. Don’t worry I’ll wait.

It is obviously ridiculous in any number of ways. Even if you ignore the Emperor’s New Groove jokes (“Yay, I’m a llama again”) my favourite part is the fact that it only comes into effect on September 1st, as if the Chinese Government is a shifty landlord giving notice to the current tenants to vacate the property.

And what happens when the current Dali Lama, assuming he survives until the end of August, dies without gaining all the official paperwork that’s necessary for him to come back? Is he stuck in some kind of ethereal detention centre or does he have the opportunity to try and sneak across the boarder in the back of a sympathetic Hindu’s truck?

If nothing else, the fact that China has felt the need to legislate the ins and outs of something intangible as reincarnation is surely proof, if any were needed, that they’re well on the way to becoming a fully functional Democratic nation.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Who'd have thought canned meat could be so tasty?

I don’t have an issue with the amount of spam I receive, maybe 2 or 3 emails a day, and the filter on the always excellent Gmail catches them and shuffles them directly into the spam folder. The problem is that the little web daemons that send this stuff out have got so very good at creating emails that I want to open. The titles always sound like things I’d like to do:

“Relax and Take the Time” – Who wouldn’t like to relax and take the time? I don’t know what it is that I’d be taking the time for but in the hectic modern world I’m willing to bet that it strikes a chord with most people. Click to open… Cialis. Hmmm, not really what I was after.

“It may strengthen your relationship with your partner” – Is it a step-by-step guide to improved inter-marital communication? News about an exclusive couples nature retreat? I’d even be interested in a cheap mobile plan… Oh, Cialis. We meet again.

“Join the Millions” – I don’t want to miss out on the next big thing so I’ll just have a quick look… Cialis. I should have seen that coming shouldn’t I?

What ever happened to the good old fashioned, “Do you want a larger P5n1s?” At least you knew where you stood with spam who’s biggest achievement was managing to spell Viagra with more numbers than letters.

And then to really top it off, the emails are all supposedly from people with names so interesting that I’m briefly excited to be receiving communications from them. Charlie Choi sounds like a world-renowned concert Bassoonist. Isiah Ortega and Burl Crocker could easily be part of the starting defensive line for the Miami Dolphins. Polly Ott, Lindsay X. Hannah and Monty Ham I’m pretty sure are members of the nextwave organ-punk revival band Patrick Duffy’s Ghost.

But the one, more than all the others that I hope exists somewhere is Orlando Woodruff. Whether he’s a minor character on the Simpsons, a struggling sous chef working for tips on the Lower East Side or the commander of an underground vigilante group, committed to wiping out over-sized corporate art in all it forms I really hope he exists. If you know him, or know someone who does, maybe you could drop him my email address.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Speed Racer

So we have a car. It’s purple and so, obviously, her name is Kumi.

Okay so maybe not obviously but it certainly made sense in our heads. Perhaps this will help: Japan + Purple = Kumi?

Fine, I’ll try using smaller sentences; Kumara are purple. The car is purple. Kumi is a contraction of Kumara. The car is purple. Kumi is a Japanese name. The car is Japanese. Kumi seems to fit the car. The car is still purple. Therefore, Kumi.

Sometimes explaining things makes it worse, not better.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Happiness is a warm book

As haunting me has yet to break my spirit, it appears that Cat Stevens has called in some favours owed to him in the literary world. I happened by the always excellent Unity Books and the latest offerings from Messrs Eggers, Chambon, Palahniuk and Ondaatje were all displayed next to each other like a quartet of sirens standing at the edge of a financial Charybdis. I wanted to sweep them all in my arms and run from the shop. I have little enough time to read the book currently in my man-bag, let alone another four, but there’s something about owning new books that fills me with glee.

The walls of our home are testament to this. Bookshelves are filled two deep and we’ve had to employ bookends on what little available flat surfaces we have in the living room. Yet Robyn and I will keep on adding to our library. I have few plans to re-read more than a handful of the titles but things would have to get fairly dire before I’d contemplate getting rid of any of them.

I get a strange combination of comfort and safety while reading. This effect is then multiplied when seated in a well-stocked study or den. So you can see how the prospect of adding to our hoard is appealing at the best of times and the levels rise to an intoxicating level when it’s not just four new books but an armful of new additions that I know I’ll enjoy. And then turn it up to eleven as there’s a good chance that, based on the authors' past efforts, I’ll love at least one of them.

You’ll be happy to know that there is a happy ending as I left the store without any new paperback acolytes. That said, my resolve is sure to fold in the next couple of days as I just received a 20% off voucher for Borders.

Well played Mr Stevens.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Cat fanciers may not want to read on

The music of Cat Stevens is something I associate with my early childhood. Moonshadow and Where do the Children Play? both conjure up images of Lincolnshire, where we lived before I was five. However, of late, Yusuf Islam has started appearing everywhere I go. If I’m in the car and I scroll through the radio stations, Wild World is the best thing on the airways. In line at the supermarket and Morning has Broken will come over the screechy tannoy system. Even waiting on hold, (Remember The Days of the) Old Schoolyard jumps out at me from the handset almost as if they’d been waiting for me to call before they added it to the hold playlist (and I’d like to point out that after listening to that song in a loop while waiting to speak to someone about why you’ve been charged for services you don’t even have, you start to listen to the lyrics and while Cat obviously enjoyed his scholastic education (he states, more than once that “we used to laugh a lot”) after having the song drummed into me like a member of a 70’s folk revival cult, the only image from my time at school that comes to mind was being too busy hanging from the coat hooks by my underwear to find much time for laughing).

Most call centres in the UK are either located in Glasgow or have a positive discrimination policy when it comes to employing Scots who grew up around the River Clyde because a piece of research found Glaswegian to be the most pleasant and soothing of the British dialects. In the same way, the only logical reason I can think of for the statistically highly unlikely frequency of my encounters with Mr Islam is that a social psychologist has published a paper somewhere identifying the music of Cat Stevens as the least offensive, obtrusive or polarising music on the planet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true as I can’t really see many people hating him, in the same way I very much doubt that there will be a whole load of people who’d name The Artist Formerly Known as Cat as their favourite musician. This is what makes it the perfect music to broadcast on easy listening radio; the type of station that will have distribution agreements that’ll get them piped into shops and played as hold music.

It’s either that or he’s actively haunting me.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Flamemaster G. - the destroyer of spoons

I think I must have had a bad experience with a teaspoon when I was a child (with therapy maybe I’ll write about it in “Thinks I did as a kid #52”). I did cookery for two years at school so I’ve had the need to keep a tidy workspace drilled into me. Before the classes, making a broccoli soufflé would leave the kitchen looking like the scene of a vegan liberation front insurgent uprising.

And yet, for some reason I have a compulsion to use as many teaspoons as possible. I’m not sure how I use them up. Just yesterday I managed to use three making a lasagne. I know I used one in the mustard for the white sauce but the other two? As far as I’m concerned the other two sprouted legs and jumped in the sauce themselves.

So consider this a warning should I ever go Iron Chef in your house: hide your spoons.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

I’m with the band

The four walls of a concert venue are like some strange X-Files, other world where the normal laws no longer apply. Once we’re through the door, regular behaviour is checked at the door. As the performers step on to the stage they’re greeted with thunderous applause. We’ve brought the tickets, forked over money for the merchandise with inflated-prices, stood closer to strangers than we would in any other circumstances bar public transport or prison and yet we still cheer just because some lucky music student happened to string 5 notes together in a catchy way?

We also put up with so much pushing and shoving. Why do we hand over the keys to our kinosphere so willingly? Just because some one has dimmed the lights and put some music on? Are we really that easy? The first notes dance across the room and it’s a race to spot the song (or at least pretend to recognise it) and cheering in knowing appreciation. Either we’re soothsayers who can divine how the performance of the song will be based purely on the intro, or it’s encouragement; a cheer to the musicians, as if to say, “This is a good song, don’t fuck it up. I believe you can play it well. I’m behind you.”

Part of the whole pseudo-religious experience is the compulsion to follow the instructions from the stage. The ugly bass player holds their hands above their head and begins a slow clap and before you know it, you’ve joined in. The room slaves to the band’s every instruction: “Jump up and down, echo my words, sing for me when I point a microphone at you.”

What is my point? I think I’m trying to work out why I/we do this. The music is rawer, less perfect than an MP3 so it’s not the music we go along for. It must be the experience. In return for putting up with getting closer to our fellow man than we really want to, subjecting ourselves to a deafening hardship and paying prices that are off the scale, we are allowed to say that we were there. Not playing with the band but standing among the masses, believing that we’re inspiring the performers to higher artistic heights.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Like Catching Amoebic Dysentery from a Resturant called the Hygienic Steakhouse

The dishwasher in our new place came with the house. “A free dishwasher?” I hear you say, “How can you complain about a free dishwasher?” Well, it’s a little old and it doesn’t always clean glasses as well as it should. Not the end of the world but it’s a little annoying to have to wash the odd item by hand because it’s got cleaning residue stuck to the inside.

The thing that really burns my toast is that it’s called the Simpson Silencio 850. When you switch this bad boy on it’s like all the hellspawn of the Neverworld clearing their throats at the same time. So loud is the noise that the cats race from the house when it starts up. I don’t know what it’s doing but I don’t see how it could have anything to do with cleaning kitchenware.

After about 3 minutes the thing stops barking and it begins rhythmically swooshing. From the amount of water that you can hear being thrown around, it must be like a scene from the Poseidon Adventure if experienced from the inside. It then proceeds to whir and crank it’s way through the remaining cycles before finishing with a ‘clunk’ that sounds like it comes from a comedy sound effect archive.

I could handle a loud dishwasher, but the only excuse for it making such a din would be if it were the best-damned dishwasher ever. But it’s not. Some whiteware engineer with a sense of humour built a crap machine and called it the Silencio so now we live with a kitchen that belts out industrial Scandinavian krank metal once every other day.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Things I thought as a kid #9

There’s a Raymond Briggs book called, “When the Wind Blows”. I don’t remember ever reading it but the cover has a middle-aged husband and wife standing in the doorway of their house with a mushroom cloud erupting behind them.

From looking at the Wikipedia synopsis it is, as I thought, a cautionary tale about a nuclear attack on England but without any of the cool post-apocalyptic Road Warrior stuff. As a kid I remember this being a constant tenant of the display shelf at the Eastbourne Public Library. Somehow this image has become linked to the phrase “nuclear family” and it was only today, when I heard it used on the Simpsons, that I realised that it means, core family and not, “Ohmygod the big one’s dropped and we’re the last one’s left on the planet and why is Johnny growing an extra set of arms?!?” family.

As a child, there must have been some crossed wires somewhere as I thought that the book proved that the typical Mr. And Mrs. Middle England (like the characters in When the Wind Blows) were the most likely to survive a nuclear attack. So when the phrase ‘Nuclear Family’ was used, I took it to mean that the family referred to were especially skilled to live on after the big one dropped. I don’t quite know how I thought this would happen (meat and two veg give you protection from radiation poisoning?) but perhaps if Dad had gotten past his allergy to woollen pullovers and Mum talked like a character from Coronation Street they’d be better placed to see off the Legions of the Thunderdome when they come knocking.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

And incinerate the licence of any radio station that dares to play Hootie

I find most DJs annoying. I figure their purpose is to make any time that music’s not playing on the station intolerable. As a result, when the music does come back you’re so relieved that you don’t care how shit the songs are, all that’s on your mind it relief that an idiot is no longer shouting about how this is your last chance to win something you don’t want.

The infantile banter is finally beginning to drip from your memory by the time a song from 25 years ago (a song who’s biggest asset was that it was catchy) is replaced by a gaggle of chiselled teenage boys moaning in harmony about how hard it is to be in love when you’re good looking. By the time the third mediocre tune is coming to an end, your brain is screaming like a 67-year-old piano teacher, “Why don’t they make good songs any more?”

The track finishes and you don’t even hear the offer for couples Brazilian waxing. The absence of second-rate harmonies and tired chord progressions is bliss for the first 30-seconds but then the ads start to invade the edges of your consciousness. You fight the urge to purchase some cut-price jewellery from Wellington’s largest range of agate, jasper and lapis lazuli but by the time their offer comes to an end, a new advert starts up and it’s all you can do to stop yourself singing along with the jingle. Just as you don’t think you can take it any more a voice filled with a mix of mirth and self-confidence that only a mother could love brings to an end the hellish sales propositions.

You feel fortunate at having been saved by the utterings from afar but the you realise the catchphrases and slogans are beginning to squash your will to live and it’s almost as if you can feel yourself becoming stupider with every word that you hear the radio host nattering onto the airways…


Yes; I now work in an office that always has the radio tuned to ‘Classic HitsFM.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Even the Stinking Rich Need Somewhere to Swim

You win the lottery, have a rich uncle who dies, pull off a full-proof bank job… whatever. Suddenly you’re richer than Google and you want to keep an eye on your money. I say, convert all of your dough into the lowest denomination coins you can, build yourself a huge swimming pool and fill it with the afore mentioned coins.

All your problems are solved in one fell swoop:

- You always know where your loot is
- It’s a nice icebreaker anytime you invite people over to your house for the first time, “Why don’t we take our drinks by the money-pool?”
- There’s no-way that anyone can steal your money because the most they can make away with is a couple of handfuls and if they tried to go large scale (like brining in earth movers and a dump truck) they’d totally be seen before they can make off with your stash.
- You can swim in your money like Scrooge McDuck. Who hasn’t wanted to try that one out?

Note – why haven’t I noticed how funny “dump truck” is before now?

…and I’m OK*

I enjoy chopping wood. No hidden metaphor there, I actually enjoy the act of slicing bits of dead tree into more easily burnable pieced by swiftly brining a sharpened wedge of metal down upon it. After a couple of minutes ‘at the chop’, I reach a zen-like state. All that exists is the block, the axe and the piece of wood. Then, following a moment of sudden violence, the wood becomes two. I clear the debris from the field, line up the new victim and reset the moment.

Add to this the satisfaction of having a well-stocked woodpile. Maybe it’s the autism coming to the surface again but the same pleasure centre that fires when I order my bookshelves or write “top 10” lists, gets hit when I build a woodpile. Separating the wood by type (easy burning pine from the slower but hotter burning macrocarpa), then by size and finally stacking it so that you have easy access to any given slice. No matter what emergency strikes, you know that under the house or behind the shed there’s enough fuel to handle the situation.

I’m not about to plan a career move that would necessitate me relocating to the wilds of British Columbia and I don’t think Jason Wynyard has anything to be scared of but I can certainly think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Note - Oh by the way: British Columbia? I’m imagining a bunch of drug Tzars, wearing 3-piece, pinstripe suits with bowler hats, riding down a cascading rapid astride a mighty sequoia.

* alternative titles - The Joy of Axe, I Got Wood, Who’s Motorcycle is this.

Friday, 16 March 2007

I'm not trying to show off

Yes, I know it's practically sub-zero temperatures outside at the moment and the environment is less "native woodland" and more "wind tunnel" but, hell, take a look out my bedroom window this morning.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Legion of Super-Packers

Apparently I don't know as much about international removals as I thought I did. It seems that the way they do things now is to have one team come in, wrap all your worldly possessions in paper and bubblewrap and then put them all in boxes - the Packers. Then they leave and Team Movers comes in, does an inventory, puts all the stuff in the back of a truck and drives off leaving you with nothing more than a fistful of coloured papers. That is now all we have to account for a houseful of Roo and my stuff; 7 green pieces of paper.

So, the packers turned up and there was a guy in his 40s, a young, overweight kid and a dude who looked as if he earned extra cash at night, boxing shirt and shoeless in underground clubs. I showed them around the house and when I had finished they went about their work without so much as a word exchanged between them. The older guy started filling out paperwork, the larger dude headed to the kitchen to pack the glassware and the buff one strode off towards the sitting room.

I took this to be further customisation of roles. The big boned lad was Joey Safehands, not much power but the lightest touch in the removal game. He specialised in the packaging of delicates and was so good at his job that he'd only lost two tumblers and a chipped mug (that the owners didn’t really like) in the last 18 months. The one looking after the TV and chairs is referred to as The Hulk but never to his face. He can bench press more than four times his own bodyweight and once moved two pianos at the same time. The final member of the team was Tetris. Once a professor of mathematics, Tetris is the most gifted natural tessellatetorian in the southern hemisphere. He takes the boxes from the other two and designs a strategy for packing them into the van that uses dimensions beyond the reach of Newtonian physics. Some say that he goes down to the beach on his days off and rearranges grains of sand for fun.

After a couple of hours they took a break. After a coffee and a couple of pies, The Hulk headed into the kitchen, Tetris remained in the front of the house and Joey moved up to the bedroom. My vision of the greatest packing team ever assembled crumbled and I came to the conclusion that they must have decided who was going to pack what while they were out of earshot getting the paper, boxes and tape out of the van.

Monday, 12 March 2007

“Previously on Reality Splinter…”

So, yes, I’m now in Wellington. For those of you who missed a couple of episodes here’s the short version: Robyn doing PhD at Victoria University (it’s in Wellington, New Zealand not the Australian state just to make it more complicated than it needs to be), me arrived last Friday and continuing with Melbourne job but from here.

And it’s great. Wellington feels like home. Melbourne, for all it’s fine coffee and flying mammals, never did. Also, Robyn is now on her path to becoming a clinical psychologist and I find it wonderful listening to her so full of enthusiasm for her day when we talk in the evening. There were mishaps and stories that fell out of the move but I’ll cover those in later posts. Mainly this entry is to reassure everyone that the move went okay and normal service will shortly resume. Partly, it’s to announce the resumption of a daily posting schedule (if Hagrid can do it from the middle of an African game park surely I can as well) and a little bit of the motivation behind it is to show off and say, “Look at the view from my front door!”

Saturday, 24 February 2007

...and I'm a Cray-2

As horrible as it might sound, go to apple.com/uk and check out the British version of the PC vs Mac Get a Mac ads. The actors are a comedy duo from Peep Show and so have chemistry and timing straight out of the box. From what I can remember the ads are almost the same as the American ones but with audience specific words replaced (I don't think a Yank would know a hi-jinx if it came up and jammed a custard pie in their face).

The major difference is that the British ones actually do a good job of painting the Mac as someone you wouldn't mind being identified with. The American Mac comes off as smug and condescending while his cousin from across The Pond seems a lot more sympathetic. He doesn't have the superior glint in his eye nor does he seem to take any enjoyment at PC's series of blunders.

The American ads don't quite work for the same reason there are so few American sitcoms that are genuinely funny. Apple USA is terrified that you won't get the point and so try too hard with their message. If they just dialed it back a bit and gave the audience some credit the spots would actually work.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Even better than the fish and chip shop called The Codfather

There's not much I can add. The first time I drove past this sign I cursed myself for not having my digital camera on me. Subsequent journeys past the store only further raised my hackles as I kept on leaving the camera at home. I even thought about making a trip especially to capture this king pun.

Yesterday, knowing that it would likely be our last trip past, I made sure I laid out my camera next to my car keys before we left. On the drive out I completely forgot about it and so on the return leg I scoured the shops on the side of the street until I found the store (now empty; it seems not even a genius name can guarantee commercial success in today's fickle market) and secured the shot for prosperity.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

KiwiBerries are so last year

Every year those damned supermarkets try and trick me into buying some weird new fruit that I don’t need and every year I fall for their stupid marketing tricks. Wandering through the fresh produce section I came across the Donut Peach.
About the size of a biscuit, they’re obviously the result for some dramatic selective breeding but there’s something about them that is very desirable.
As interesting as they are to look at they’re even more impressive to eat. Juicy, sweet and full of flavour; the only real minus is that they taste like a peach and not a jam donut.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

My superpower

Sometimes I catch myself holding my breath. That's not to say I keep waking up on the floor after passing out but it feels a bit like the moment before impact; as if my body is bracing itself for a collision that never comes.

That is all. Nothing to see here. Please return to whatever you were doing.

Monday, 15 January 2007

The things I do for you people

From across the crowded food court I saw what appeared to be a six-foot photo of a deep fried cheese treat. It had a crumbed outer coating and was split in two, revealing what I thought to be a molten cheddar centre. Having been peripherally involved in the early stages of Chibble development, I was intrigued by what seemed to be an entire food station revolving around a deep-fried dairy product.

I got closer and saw their logo:

Puffy wasn’t a name I was familiar with and I couldn’t wait to see how they backed up the claim that liquid fat surrounded by carbohydrate cooked in fat was “fresh ‘n natural”. It was only once I got up close that I realized the bite-sized cheese treats I’d seen were in fact tennis ball-sized filled biscuits.

Having got this far I couldn’t rightly turn back so I coughed up the $1.60 they were asking and was presented with a dessert dumpling. I took a bite and was surprised to find that the centre was actually cold vanilla custard. Combined with a cake-ish, biscuity outside it was actually quite nice but I think they’re really stretching things by describing it as “The classic traditional cookie puff”. I’ve certainly never heard of a cookie puff before and I’m sure that some wiz-bang food science had gone on behind the scenes to inject the cold filling into the baked outside. It was actually quite nice and didn’t leave me feeling like an overweight policeman as doughnuts can sometime do but it was over engineered. I think I'd compare the experience with a Freak Show: You visit once to say that you've been but if you visit more than that you can't explain it away as gathering material for your blog.

Epilogue - I didn’t have my camera on me so I tried to find a picture of the "classic traditional cookie puff" on the web but I can’t find hide nor hair of them. Any entries for “Puffy” are references to:
  • Puffy – a manufactured Japanese girlband.
  • Sean PuffyPuff Daddy” “P. Diddy” “DiddyCombs who is took the above J-Pop band to court to secure his right to be the only Puffy on stage in America. When asked if they were worried about having to change their name in the States, Puffy (the Japanese girls) said, “The bottom line is that we don't know what puffy means. We were given our name by somebody else six years ago, and we really don't have a clue.
  • Sites devoted to breasts with ‘Puffy nipples’. An entire fetish subculture I wish I’d never heard of.
  • And of course, the classic Puffy shirt episode of Seinfeld.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

If it walks like a candle and quacks like a candle

The tram ride home is quite a harrowing experience at the moment. A lot of residents are still on holiday so in theory there should be less people commuting. This means that Connex has put the Melbourne public transport system on reduced services for January. The problem is that my route home starts at the beach, picks up all the holiday makers and then proceeds past my work and into the city. Less trams, plus more travellers, equals me with my face in some guy's armpit for 20 minutes. On top of this we've been having 30+ temperatures for the last couple of weeks so I'm sure you can imagine that the carriages get fairly ripe by 5.30pm.

Yesterday, the tram was packed like a snake in a novelty can of peanuts and I was forced to get up close and personal with my fellow commuters. The doors closed and suddenly it was as if I was in a candle factory. There was an overwhelming smell of wax coming from a guy in a suit next to me. It wasn't particularly unpleasant but not exactly the olfactory sensation I was expecting on a tram in downtown Melbourne.

Try as I might, I could not workout why the perfectly ordinary looking salaryman should be giving off an odour of wax. His ears were clean, I couldn't see any stains on his clothing to suggest he'd knocked over a candelabras' worth of candles and he didn't look like the type to try a new and hip cologne (Waxy for Men by Kalvin Clein).

So here's the interactive part of the show. Let's pull a Voltron and see if anyone has a solution as to why someone would smell like a vat of melted candles. Put your answer on a back of a postcard and post it in the comments section below.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Things I did as a kid #8

There was a kid at my secondary school called, I don’t know, Spud*. In the early years of school he was just known as Weird Spud but by the time I was 14 he was well on the road towards Art College. He started a band, spent most of his time hanging out with kids older than us and was the first person I knew to announce that he didn’t like Nirvana any more because they had sold out. One of the proto-emo crowd, Spud always had ink-covered hands, a ripped sweater and a slightly agitated demeanour.

He was a top student in Art class and did well in English but Music was his thing. I can’t remember ever walking into his room at school and not seeing his huge purple biography of Jimi Hendrix somewhere on his desk. After every exeat (a designated weekend when the school got a break and our parents had to look after us) he’d return with a fist full of cd’s by bands you’d never heard of and instruct anyone who’d listen on the latest movers and shakers in the indy music scene.

One Sunday night during my 5th year, I was in the communal kitchen making a fried egg sandwich when Spud came in with a bunch of acolytes from the year below us in tow. He was going on about a great gig he went to at a bar on Saturday night. I don’t remember who the band was but I do remember that most of the story revolved around how he’d fooled the bouncers with a fake ID rather than talking about the musical performance. He then went on to lecture on the subject of what we should be listening to, proving to his court how cool and ahead of the mainstream he was my naming three obscure bands (I’m pretty sure Kula Shaker was one of them). The egg was cooked so I assembled my sandwich and left but something nagged me about the bands Spud had highlighted as ‘ones to watch’.

It wasn’t until post-sarnie that I realized I’d heard John Peel mention exactly the same three bands, in the same order, on Saturday night. Not only was Spud recycling Peel’s wisdom but if he had heard it on the radio the night before, then there wasn’t anyway he was at a gig running rings around a bouncer with his fake ID.

I didn’t ever challenge Spud with my Poirot-like deductions but I did stop treating him as the resident expert on all things musical.

Spud was last seen on the streets of Cheltenham, a couple of years after I left school, sleeping at a bus stop. I can’t confirm if he was homeless or just waiting for a bus. With those indy types, the line between unwashed chic and vagrant becomes kind of blurry.

*Definitely not his real name

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Anything that borrows from Starship Troopers is in trouble from the get go

In another life I used to write about films for the university newspaper so I’ve kind of tried to avoid retreading the same territory here on ReSplint (It’s an edgy new handle I’m trying out, comments on a back of a postcard) but I see this as more of a public service announcement than a review.

On the plane back from New Zealand I had the misfortune to see The Guardian. It’s a terrible flick that has Kevin Costner training Ashton Kutcher to be an Aviation Survival Technician for the United States Coast Guard. I don’t doubt that becoming a coastguard is hard and I know that these guys put their life on the line when they go out and do their job but the film spends half it’s time reminding us that swimming is tough. So much so that you just get the feeling that its over compensating for a lack of genuine plot.

Aside from Kutcher’s ill-informed belief that the way to display an emotion is by raising one’s voice a couple of octaves, the biggest problem is that The Guardian isn’t a single, unique film. Instead, it’s a montage of scenes and themes borrowed from other movies. You’ve got a hot recruit at an elite training school (Top Gun and by extension Wings of the Apache) who encounters a damaged older mentor (Point Break and by extension The Fast and the Furious). The recruit goes through a series of gruelling, seemingly pointless training exercises (Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead, Men of Honour and a whole slew of other military films) and falls for a local girl he meets at a bar (An Officer and a Gentleman). After finally graduating, he is assigned on a dangerous mission with the mentor (Starship Troopers) where the mentor dies to save his life (Starship Troopers again). The rookie returns to the girl (Top Gun, An Officer and a Gentleman, Bridget Jones's Diary) while the mentor becomes The Spirit of the Ocean (Finding Nemo? The Little Mermaid?).

Like a collision between a bus load of naked cheerleaders and a highlight reel of Gianfranco Zola’s goals for Chelsea I couldn’t look away. So bad was this film that it actually made the flight seem longer. My one hope is that by posting this, I save others from having to experience the horror that is, The Guardian.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Don’t worry if you don’t get the ending Roo, it’s a Muppet Show pun

I’ve been up for just over an hour of ‘007 (how long until the Bond reference gets old?) and I’m yet to find any faults but I don’t advise throwing away your receipts until at least mid-April.

I wanted to kick-off with a deep and meaningful on the nature of love and destiny but to tell you the truth the mojo just wasn’t flowing this morning and so instead I’ve found myself writing an unoriginal ‘Year in Review’. Before I roll the list I’d like to mention that I made the same New Year’s resolution last night as I have the last three – write more. I think that’ll continue to be my goal until someone starts paying me to chuck words on the page and maybe even beyond that.

The list below is a catalogue of favourites from the past 365 days. Not necessarily a ‘Best of…’ (for instance The Departed isn’t there but I think very highly of the film) but more a quick reminder of things that got me a bit excited.

Little Miss Sunshine – The little movie that could. Steve Carell alone was a wonder to behold but then you put the other actors up there and the whole thing just sang.
Star Wars Lego – I didn’t play many video games this year past but SWL hit all the right buttons.
Pattern Recognition Altered Carbon – A fantastic pulp (I use pulp here without any negative connotations), hard sci-fi novel with a solid plot and a well constructed universe.
Heroes – Brought the fun back into ? TV and picked up the ball Lost dropped somewhere after the hatch was opened.
Brick – The best cinematic noir since LA Confidential.
Studio 60 – Certainly not perfect but I’ll take Sorkin running at 90% over anything else on TV.
Fell – Warren Ellis created a new format and in doing so distilled the beauty of comics down to its raw spirit. Fell is a hell of a ride but then most anything Ellis puts out there is genius.
Gomez – Saw them live for the second time and they did not disappoint. They are just having so much fun with the music and the more I listen to How We Operate the more I have to admit that Phil was right and it is a great Gomez album.
Walk the Line – The chemistry between Greasy Reese and Mr Phoenix was a joy to behold.
Jim Noir – Stood up after Damon Gough fell down and brought some much needed whimsy back to the party.
Fragile ThingsAnasi Boys was fun but with Fragile Things Neil Gaiman restored my belief in the short story.
Arctic Monkeys – Strictly speaking I first heard them in ‘005 but my admiration for these hard little nuts from the north continues to grow.
The Ricky Gervais Show – Apart from helping to keep me sain on the way to work, this podcast shows the potential the medium has to bring back the popularity of the radio play and lets not forget the wonder that is Karl Pilkington.

Tune in tomorrow when you’ll hear Dr. G say, "Where’d all the cake go?"
Reality Splinter: the continuing story of a writer who’s gone to the blogs.