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.