Sunday, 24 February 2008

Things I did as a kid #11

I don’t know when it started (I remember doing it in our house in Sibella Road so it would have been about ’83) but as a kid I used to pretend that aliens were watching me on their otherworldly TVs. Not in a creepy, “I think we’ve found the next probe victim” way but like the Truman Show, the whole of another planet was glued to their xeno-visions watching my every move. I would be playing with lego on the floor of the living room trying as hard as I could to appear unaware that another world was watching my every move. I recall laying out a red and a yellow four-by-one block next to each other and moving my hand slowly from one to the other with a quizzical look on my face. The whole time giggling on the inside as I imagined little red men on the edge of their seat waiting to see which block I chose like it was the answer to “Who shot JR?”

I think my internal logic was stolen from an episode of The Outer Limits or Twilight Zone where mundane things like brushing my teeth or walking to school were exotic to E.T. and so kept them captivated by my every move:

- Xegog what’s the earthling whelp doing now?
- Quiet Zepfywl, he’s about to eat a spoonful of Frosties!

Then at some point the aliens turned all Dr Who villain of the week and decided that they liked the look of this place we call Earth and began to plan an invasion. However, in a plot point that the hack M. Night Shyamalan stole for the not-entirely-terrible Signs, they were afraid of water* so every time I showered (it was about ’85 by this stage so I was still pre-teen and I didn't know there was anything creepy about them having a camera in the bathroom) I would hold my elbows at my sides and point my arms out in front of me with my hands balled into fists but with my little fingers extended. This C-3P0 impression caused water to run down my arms and make it look like water was running out of my pinkie. I think I even said out loud a couple of times, “Everyone can fire water out of their fingers but we save it for emergencies and only ever practice in the shower.” I envisioned the Morks up on Alien Prime cursing their luck that the one interesting planet in the universe was protected by life forms that could shoot water out of their digits.

This tells us two things:
A) Thanks to me we’ve escaped the yoke of alien oppression these last twenty-odd years and;
2) M. Night’s ‘plot points' are so weak that even an eight year-old could have come up with them.

* Signs came out in 2002 so I think after six years the statute of limitations on spoilers for this has passed

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Chile and Garth Brooks owe me a day on the sofa

I’m sitting here watching the 5th NZ-England one-day game and it seems as if the fates have conspired to ruin my Saturday of sport (following the cricket, we’ve got the there’s the Chiefs/Waratahs game). One neighbour is having their house re-painted and their workmen have a stereo pumping out Country and Western. I don’t Mustard out for two, bowled Mills, caught How have one particular reason for disliking C&W it just grates with me for some reason. I think it’s the combination of the twang in the voice and the twang of the guitar made only worse with the “heartfelt” lyrics layered over the top.

On the other side, neighbour number two is blasting the music of mediocrity – pan pipe covers. Currently I think it’s the Girl from Ipanema and the pipes have taken a mediocre bossa nova song (not a the best combination to start with) and made it terrible. What’s even worse is when they take a good song (Four Seasons in One Day comes immediately to mind) and trash it by playing it on what must surely be the ugliest of instruments. I can’t even listen to Sound of Silence without a shudder, such is the damage that World Music in general and pan pipes in particular have done to the catalogue of Simon and Garfunkle.

All that said, the weather is warm, my cold is on the mend and there’s a full day of sport to come so not even this perfect storm of music is going to get me off the sofa today.

NB - All written from the sofa. I love wi-fi.

Update – They've now gone from Country to Skunk Regea. This has to be some Pietersion out for Thirty-Nine, bowled Patel, caught Ryder sort of cosmic joke.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Dead Catalogues Society

Picture this: It’s 1992 and you’re in a boy’s dormitory at an unnamed English public school. The 13-year-old occupants are all at their classes so the room is empty except for the movie one-sheets on the walls, ten badly made beds and their matching bedside lockers made from cheap, varnished pine. Now look closer at the various cabinets and you’ll find a magazine common to about half of the rooms occupants. Check through the rest of the boarding house and you’ll find a similar story.

Without actually seeing the cover of the magazine you might assume that it’s a Playboy, Penthouse or possibly a Fiesta (which, I feel I should point out, is not a Ford enthusiasts magazine like a classmate tried to claim when he was caught with one on a camping trip) and you’d be half right but simply by the size you can tell it’s natural habitat isn’t the top-shelf of a newsagent’s. It looks like a decent sized phone book but with a glossy cover.

It’s an Argos catalogue and it seems perfectly innocuous as you glance through it. Toys, DIY tools, low-price jewellery, clothes. Then, as you’re thumbing through the woman's clothing section you find a certain part of the catalogue that’s a little worn down at the page edge: the lingerie section. Four pages of tiled pictures that consists mostly of close-ups of the female bust area. It's more Queen Victoria than Victoria’s Secret but for 13 year-old boys, it was the option that wasn’t going to get you a talking to from the teachers (it’s hard to label a document X-rated when it could be found on the coffee table of most of the school’s staff members).

On Monday, I found out that Argos has pretty much become an internet based store with most of it’s efforts focused on their web based catalogue rather than the paper-based behemoth I grew up with and the first thing that went through my head was, “But where will the young boys of Britain find their porn?” Then I realised, with modern scholastic interconnectivity and the ubiquitous nature of wi-fi, they’ll get their jollies from the same place they get their Argos catalogue.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Bus Stop Chicken

A couple of times a week I catch the bus into work. Most days Roo and I car pool but sometimes I need to leave early or she needs to stay late so I take public transport (car parking is cheaper at the university than it is around my work). Now, they're not as punctual or frequent as the Melbourne trams but the Wellington buses are clean, never really get that full and I’m yet to feel like a drumstick in a chicken incubator while riding them.

I don’t know how I started but I’ve invented a sad little game that I play when it’s time for my stop. I win by not having to pull the cord to get off the bus. I lose if I chicken out and pull the chord or miss my stop. I know that only about 1 in 20 trips are bereft of fellow passengers with the same side walk destination but as I spot the stop coming closer it’s very hard to hold off pulling the cord.

Last Friday, when I stepped on the bus, I decided that I’d cease playing this stupid game and just travel to work like a normal person. The chance of having to walk five minutes out of my way because of a game no-one else even knows they’re playing was a fairly good motivator to throw the whole thing in and just pull the chord as soon as my stop came into view. However, as we neared the city centre I remembered that I was on a record equalling 9-0 winning streak and who was I to deny the fans of this proud sport the chance to see BSC history be made?

Note - In a variation on BSC, I ‘win’ when riding the lift if fellow passengers get off before my floor, leaving me alone in the lift to do a quick victory dance before the doors open on my level.