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.