Monday, June 30, 2008

Aerobics Oz Style

I'm really getting old, I really am. Not just because I just did a blog post about how Miley Cyrus sounds like Corey Hart. I can now list no fewer than four camp idiots who are annoying me every time I see them on adverts - the camp Mary Poppins off the Dominos ad, the gay bear off the Bundaberg advert, the guy who seems genuinely uncomfortable being with three girls at Burger King (footnote - they've made an edit that makes him look less odd now), and now the guy on the Bunnings ad who talks about doggie doors. Why are the idiots (and males are the last people you can poke fun at) on these adverts now incredibly camp as well? The guy who is supposed to look really wicked hip taking three models on his AFL trip just looks...virginal and awkward. Who's impressed by that?

Of course, this kind of awkward virginal nervousness really doesn't play well in the sticks, or Penguin to be precise. When I said before about the girls with the paddle pop sticks scraping the mud off their husbands boots, I wasn't joking - it was a very blokey town. Such blokey blokes would solve problems practically, drink beer until their liver exploded, keep their emotions bottled up until they exploded and talk graphically about what they would do to any girl they saw either in real life or on television. And for a period of about six weeks in the mid 90s, it seemed as though every single male in Tasmania would gather around with a carton of beer, a limited vocabulary and talk about which girl from Aerobics Oz Style they would, er, befriend. Everyone had a position on this, and when they retired to do research, they would secretly pray it wasn't an episode hosted by Anton. It was my first real experience of Tasmanian graphic manly discussion, and I drank in a lot of this wisdom. And I still stuck to my Jaynie Seal position. Matron.

As the name suggests, Aerobics Oz Style was a TV show, of which there are only slightly less episodes than Days Of Our Lives. It was a show that involved a 1/2 hour Aerobics work out, 15 minutes of which were taken up plugging their videos, and obviously by definition it was a pervy view at times. There are two eras of classic Aerobics Oz Style - let's call them the indoor and the outdoor period. The indoor period was a studio based Aerobics session which involved nothing but the instructor bullying Effie Michaels to do more sit ups. The outdoor period was marked by the fact that any idiot seemed to be able to walk up and join in, which happened more than once. What is strange is that at some point between outdoor and indoor, the show became a parody of itself. No really - the indoor years had June, Michelle and Wendy - mumsy types, fit but ordinary looking really - they were all about the fitness. They would talk about the tapes that were playing, their kids, whether their husbands were watching, and then head off and bully Effie a bit more. But they were dedicated professionals when it came to leading a workout. By the outdoor years, those women were shown hardly at all on camera, as the director became Jodie Low obsessed and the in jokes took over the show. They would dispute that, but the blokes in the pub knew the difference.

Jodie Low is a bit like the Abigail of Aerobics Oz Style, the Leanne Fenwick, the Anne Maree Cooksley - she really was pointless, but attractive. Like I used to argue with female Collingwood supporters about Chris Tarrant, yes, you find him hot, but he can't kick the ball, that's a lot more important. She was a female Chris Tarrant. On a practical Aerobics level, she was hopeless. She didn't even seem to do the exercises 1/2 the time. She was always the one doing the "beginners" exercises. And yet she got most of the camera time. I'd imagine this was deliberate, as she was a complex character - she was the most attractive, but the worst at Aerobics. If she'd been the best, would any housewife have watched? June Jones should have kicked her ass for not being able to do a leg curl, but oddly, she'd just step over her and yell at Effie some more. It really sucked to be Effie.

It's amazing though that some guys in Penguin I'm sure are still discussing which one they'd nail, without knowing Laughing Ed Phillips has beaten them all to it. If only they'd got off the damn...hey, fellas, another round, what were we talking about again?

I'm a Miley Cyrus fan in a Powderfinger world

I mentioned in one of my previous posts about how dodgy it's beginning to look for me, at 29, to hang around the wrestling figure section of my local store. I personally don't think this is a bad thing, I like to see what they've done in the way of a Deuce and Domino double pack - but society is a harsh judge. Something worse than that has happened though, my favourite song right now is See You Again by Miley Cyrus (although this is entirely because it sounds like Sunglasses at Night) and I spent a little bit too long today looking at a Hannah Montana guitar, because this is a phenomenon I'm not part of and I was interested, when I suddenly realised this is probably a very weird area of this store to be hanging around in - get yourself over to the football jumper part of the store and stop this weird loitering.

So I feel a bit weird (it may be the Banjos sausage rolls) being a Miley Cyrus (slight) fan in a Powderfinger world called Tasmania. Now, I will admit I have no idea at all what I am supposed to be listening to musically right now that would be cool and trendy. If you were trying to keep up with what was trendy and cool in the UK in the mainstream press, you'd probably just about be on Adele and Duffy by the time Climi got involved. If I was to judge the poshest store in the world, Harrods, I'd listen to a lot of Nickelback since that's what they play really loudly in the sports section. If I studied the charts, I'd listen to nothing but Coldplay and U2. And since i live in Tasmania, I should probably be listening to a solid diet of Powderfinger, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers and Silverchair. I don't find any of these options palatable. I really at this point don't have a favourite band or singer. I like Melissa Mars and Chungking and Jenny Wilson, but bring any of that up in discussion at Irish Murphys and see how you are travelling.

Musical credibility is hard won and easily lost anyway. I think I tuned out my inner Richard Kingsmill when Triple J started championing Kylie Minogue and I liked the first Britney Spears album. To be honest, I think back to those tedious days when we all listened to Triple J and nothing else as in hindsight quite amusing. Now, there's nothing wrong with Triple J, it does a good job, but they lost me when Adam and Wil left and took Gypsy from Home and Away with them. When we first listened to Triple J it was essentially to listen to one band. I remember we had many, many discussions at my school about this band. Triple J constantly told us they were huge, and with a nod to Tony Martin, they were just doing then what the Knack were doing back in their day. Everyone really liked this fantastic band, and it was pretty much social death not to. One of their songs was played every single night on Triple J, and we would gather round the wireless to tape their songs, and hope that they would tour. Had this band toured Burnie the whole town would have ground to a halt, and we all assured ourselves as we smoked dope that this band would be as socially relevant in the next decade as they were now - would Triple J and their aching cred lead us astray?

That band? Bush. Hmmm...Miley Cyrus doesn't sound so bad does it?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Man vs Audience

While I had this burst of blogging enthusiasm, I was going to write about Aerobics Oz Style, and I will eventually believe me, but I was going to write about my favourite ever girl, Jaynie Seal, only to find out she actually is married to "Laughing" Ed Phillips? This felt oddly troubling to me, and I really couldn't go on with my day.

However, as much as I'm troubled by this, and whatever happened to Anne-Marie Cooksley, something else is sort of disturbing me right now. Actually, I kind of thought of it when I was talking to someone about my fandom of Melissa Mars and sending them some MP3s when we were joking about the limited number of artists who ever tour Tasmania, and how little we see of people unless they are at the start or end of their careers. At least the odd grimy rock band turns up here, but I'm not going to see Miley Cyrus at the DEC anytime soon. Elton John came down, Ricki Lee is always here, and I think Bobby Flynn might be in town, but probably what you need to know about the people touring here at the end of career problem is that it leads to insanely bitter performances. People see Tasmania as a lowly country venue where you could shoot a man just to watch him die. They land with contempt packed in their suitcase. Not everyone - Phil from Grinspoon loves it here, Ross Noble even knows where Gagebrook is. But I was at the infamous Jewelathon at the Vinyard, I have seen Paul McDermott turn a Q&A with Gud into a masterclass of self loathing punctuated with worse loathing for the audience, I have seen Tim Rogers combust into rage at people requesting Berlin Chair, I have seen an entire set by the Vines that contained not a word of banter and edited out guitar solos so they could get off stage earlier, and I was there when Shawn Bradstreet told two children to suck his dick.

Woah, Shawn Bradstreet? Put down the Hannah Montana DVD and back up a bit there. All I ever knew about Shawn Bradstreet was the hilarious drunken idea to sing "Bradstreets back! Alright" as tumbleweed flew across Knopwoods. No, Shawn was a cricketer for New South Wales, and was a prime target for our own contempt that we smuggled past the less than enthused security staff on the Bellerive gates when we went to a one day match between Tassie and NSW a few years ago. Bradstreet was (ugh) a mainlander, the enemy, a loathsome Sydneysider who probably only pretened he could name a Sydney Swans footballer and really liked rugby. And besides, Stuart MacGill was over the other side of the ground. Fielding on the boundary in a state game in front of about 6 people can't be the least bit fun, but I saw Mark Waugh handle it easily simply by making a "yak yak yak" motion with his hands. It's not hard to deal with. However, Mr Bradstreet had a haughty mainland attitude. He made a disgusted motion when someone called him a dickhead, and so, was on edge. The crowd was aware of this, and waited for his mental collapse.

At this point, some children, unaware of this brewing mainland storm politely asked for his autograph. He turned around, looked at the SOBPs (sons of Bush Pigs) in their Michael Bevan jumpers and told them to, quote, "fuck off and suck his dick" - he probably doesn't remember doing it, and he was under stress, but it was still no excuse. Time stood still, he walked off, the kids would later pretend to scratch their nose but really give him the finger in that way that kids do, and we abused him until he was either moved for tactical reasons or because he was booed every time he went for the ball. He really made me think about the relationship of a performer and the audience. Shawn Bradstreet isn't anyones role model, but he surely has a responsibility not to tell kids to fuck off. Tim Rogers shouldn't have told people who wanted to hear Berlin Chair to blow him and get this 20 bucks back (mainlanders are so orally fixated) - but like I said before, they were people doing their job - and sometimes we all get sick of our job. I'd like to think that, but really, they just hated us, all of them. I don't know why, but kids, you've got to get over it. It's Tassie, it's not that bad. We might be loud, but we enjoy ourselves. Lighten up, you owe the audience some good times. Otherwise, go do something else.

And Jaynie, you really owed me not marrying Laughing Ed Phillips...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Keynotes with Richard Wilkins


Wilkins
Originally uploaded by JungsPN

A lot of people in Australia are discussing why no one wants to watch gameshows anymore. It's an interesting question. Maybe they've gone the way of vaudeville and video magazines. Maybe they just aren't interesting anymore, lord knows even a million dollar giveaway doesn't sound like much these days, since that would get you two tanks of petrol and a banana. Is it the hosts? Is it the prizes? Do we need to go back to Tony Barber, cartons of cigarettes as prizes, Pete Smith and crock pots? Do we spend more time on the human element or less? It's a question greater television minds than me are pondering right now, Personally, if anyone ever starts talking about the last golden era of old school television game shows from the early 90s, I can tell exactly where the music died, or to put it another way, when the small yodelling man went off the cliff. It was the debut of Keynotes with Richard Wilkins in 1992.

I have really vivid memories of 1992 - I had friends that I was too shy to ring, so I lived in Burnie, went for long walks, and came home only in time to see cricket and feel sorry for myself. Despite these clear memorie, Keynotes really passed me by at the time and it was only much later that I saw an episode. Now, I have two memories of this that compete really hard against each other. Either I had a raging hangover and couldn't get to sleep, or I was on a plane with limited entertainment options. I know that either way, I had this feeling that I was trapped and couldn't get out, surrounded by mambo shirts, bad singing and Richard Wilkins. Maybe it was all a dream, but I can describe exactly my feelings on the game, or lack there of, just from memory.

Richard Wilkins is our much mocked entertainment everyman, although I can't think of anything he's done massively wrong, except date Tottie Goldsmith. I think the reason he gets such a hard time is because he is so awkward, stilted and lacking any kind of natural charm. Give him an autocue and a script, and he's fine, but anything that requires an inventive mind. He's great for guiding a fluffy interview with, say, Matt Welsh, but I remember his work with Robin Williams where he looked ridiculously uncomfortable and genuinely frightened. Putting him in a game show format wasn't playing to his strenghs. Australian gameshows are always rooted on the premise that a complete disaster is looming. Sale Of The Century was the only real exception since that was probably about general knowledge, although even they sometimes had the cage with the cash clonk Barber on the head. Throw Wilkins some unscripted unintentional innuendo and he couldn't run with it. He'd need the joke fed to him through an earpeace. This was bad enough, since he was already required to sing and dance on the show with the contestants and be nice to people. It was a lot to take in.

The show itself was inoffensive enough, although intensely annoying. People would answer a question along the lines of Belinda Carlisle said Heaven was a place on a) Earth b) Wind c) Fire. If you got it right, you got a note of a song (played on a Casio X2400 keyboard) and when you got 9 notes, you could work out what the song was. Not the worst idea for a game show, but the kicker was you only got on if you were the stupidest person on earth. And the only alternate to that was that you wore an incredibly loud Mambo shirt. If in the audition you answered c) Fire and had a huge Mambo shirt, you were a shoo in to get on the show. I honestly think Keynotes was part of a much bigger thing that happened in 1992 - it was the start of the dumbing down of our televisual culture. Television started to make dumber and dumber shows as the decade progressed. Sale Of the Century replaced by Keynotes, 60 Minutes replaced by Real Life with Stan Grant, the Comedy Company replaced by Bob Morrison...OK, scrub that last one, but Keynotes is a vivid celebration of crass stupidity. I can still see one contestant in a Mambo shirt who responds to a basic Wilkins scripted line by snorting. Then standing absolutely still, unable to answer what he does for a living. Then snorting again. Handed this televisual gift, Wilkins simply moves on, unable to mine the most basic comedic capital from this. It's everything that's wrong with the show in just 10 short seconds. And he had no idea what the blank in Careless (blank) was. He thought it was Carless Shout.

A lot of people make mention of things that are exclusively rooted in time and place. I remember Stuart Maconie talking about the Osmonds in this way. Keynotes with Richard Wilkins has 1992 stamped through it so vividly, as they play George Michael songs and Wilkins says a Ratcat song is a "rocking tune", but it could be on right now, hosted by a typically modern stupid celebrity, a Rebel Wilson or a Tim Campbell. It's the end of everything, and the start of everything, a modern show from the past, a futuristic glimpse into what TV should be like that already looks dated. It's like watching Purple Rain. It's a headtrip and banal at the same time - a complex, bizarre riddle of a show. It's amazing no one has ever brought it out on DVD, or talked about it's social context. It means something different to me whenever I see it.

And it makes me feel like the man stuck down the drain for 3 days when I watch it.

Rockin With My Radio

Robbie Williams most under-rated song is Radio (the most over-rated of course is Angels, which is horrific). This should be self evident to anyone, the only serious contendors being Rudebox (at least he tried something) and what's known in Australia as "that one where he's in the car with the baby" - but it's Radio that's the only Robbie song that still means anything to me, all because of the lines "Listen to the radio, and you will hear the songs you know", and to be honest, I'd imagine that's the programming motto of our local radio station here in Southern Tasmania, i'd imagine it's on the wall, on the mugs, on the t-shirts and drilled into peoples brains. Tony Martins observations about Triple M go double for down here, except the monkey that picks our records has a horrible obsession with Powderfinger.

Sorry, I've only just realised the Maori in the Domino's ad is meant to be Mary Poppins - I just thought he was a gay stalker.

The worst thing about work right now apart from "Let's have a meeting!" is the despair that your radio will bring you one way or another. If it's not on, the place sounds quiet and desperate, if it is on, the songs that play will ultimately annoy you. If' it's commercial radio, you'll pine for Triple J, and vice versa. I only realised this when I heard Miley Cyrus played before Silverchair, and thought there's no one I know who could like that segue. My three best friends respectively love Matchbox 20, Metallica and Silverchair - I love Miley Cyrus and the last CD I bought was a Hotel Coustes mix from Urban Outfitters. So as you can see, no one is happy these days with the radio.

When I lived in Burnie, everyone listened to Triple J, Australia's important when you are young alternative radio show, and specifically the Request show with Michael Tunn, who had a segment where people could make their pets sing popular songs or say phrases. He was replaced by Jane Gazzo, who used to make people confess their secret crushes on the radio. It's interesting that we thought this was incredibly subversive, when really it sounds like it could be segments on Matt and Jo - they haven't been as trendy with the music as they'd like either. It's hilarious that on the Triple J Hottest 100 CD Volume 3, #3 on the chart is Coolio and Alanis Morrisette made the cut. On the CD from 1993, Ace Of Base are on the 2nd disc. Still, it wasn't Barry Bissell and to be fair, Triple J taught me all about music on those horrible cold months of a mid Burnie winter.

Here in Tasmania, the DJs are mostly faceless, with one exception. Back when I moved to Hobart, the DJs at breakfast were Todd and Dave. I can't remember a single thing about their show other than they were the enemy (apart from Todds cover version of Song 2). Triple T (their station) carried Martin/Molloy in the afternoon, the best radio show that has ever been. However, Triple T stopped carrying it for reasons that involved Brian Harradine, some bad language, a sketch that slagged off Tasmania, and Pete Smith. Naturally, my self righteous princess self was part of the campaign to get it back on the air. I signed a petition, I put a poster on the lamp-post, and best of all, once I saw "Dave" down town and booed him. He turned around and looked genuinely hurt. I think this was immature, I mean who wants to be booed when they are buying casual slacks?

Todd left to plant vegetables or something and now we have Kim and Dave as our only commerical radio "stars", apart apparently from a fat man with a moustache who was molested by a young girl in the Heart FM advert. I've only recently realised that they are actually not real people now, but the idealised radio stereotypes. The prissy, harassed, self righteous critical housewife and the goofy white male with a clumsy attitude to racial and sexual politics. I didn't genuinely realise they were such basic stereotypes until Sally from Home and Away went on Merrick and Rosso and Cal Wilson went on Ahkmel and Ed. In each of those cases, clumsy stabs at, say, a Sheikh Hillaly joke or a Britney Spears remark that goes too far are policed and guided by the female. To get programme specific, nothing Kim and Dave say seems real, and when they drag their wives or children into discussions, it seems even less real. Every gesture, every opinion, every stunt, it's all massively contrived - it's the radio equivalent of Andy Kaufman wrestling Jerry Lawler, of a man walking near a child swinging a baseball bat in a Funniest Home Video clip. And yet, we all listen to it, for they are as trapped as we are. In return for 10% off at Bunnings and some free CDs, they make a show that has a limited scope, and we listen to the limited scope in return for 1 in 10 songs being one we like and because we are in Tasmania, with a limited scope of options.

There was one day though, I saw them dressed as Superheroes near where I park my car at work. They were preparing to be dunked in a water tank as part of a hilarious stunt. There was a fantastically attractive older woman organising everything dressed in a bright pink jacket. She was hypnotically attractive. Anyway, I was walking through the car park to go and get my paper when I walked past someone I knew. I hate talking to people, but I said hello and pointed with my elbow to the car park scene. "Pair of cunts those too," said my friend, "wouldn't even sign my Mercury". And I felt briefly sorry for them. If someone harassed me at work, I'm sure I come off as a cunt. In fact, I know I do. Vaudeville is an aesthetic of presentation that dates back to before the turn of the last century, but it's only apparent manifestation is the performance DJ. And really, they probably hate their job as much as I do, but they get on with it, and try and to get through the Miley Cyrus segments with a smile just like I try and pacify the angry customers where I work. I might have to have 20 meetings a day, but they have to get up in a cold car park and perform. It's all the same strands of the dis-satisfied life, or the dis-satisfied fool I guess. 10% off Bunnings purchases, it means nothing if you aren't happy.

Still, that's no excuse for the Crazy Calls.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My enthusiasm

So I've spent a lot of time in the last few days reading books - not very exciting, but my days of making things up died when Yahoo chat stopped being interesting. Anyway, I've been reading the William Shatner book a lot lately. Part of that book is all about how if Mr Shatner is enthusiastic about something, he basically rings up every single one of his friends and badgers them into liking it also - for instance, if he likes a prime rib restaurant, he goes on and on about it until everyone else is eating there. It's an interesting pay off for the prime rib restaurant - sure, business increases, but who wants to go to the restaurant where you can't get the best table because Shatner found it? And it's a lot of pressure to keep one man happy since he's basically providing all your customers.

Anyway, enthusiasms - now I was taught in Scotland that having over enthusiasms was incredibly bad, and punishable. However, I do have some enthusiasms - the ring work of Leilani Kai, the tennis career of Anke Huber, both series of the Henderson Kids, wondering what happened to Frankie Raso, the musical stylings of Melissa Mars, the complexities of Kim Pages WCW entrance video - the usual. Although I also find a lot of my enthusiasms are rooted in hatred - a hatred of Collingwood (even though I support them), a hatred of work, a hatred of Sharelle McMahon...so on and so on. However, I did want to do a post of an enthusiasm of mine that has only really come to me in the last few days since I started blogging - the Australian Post Office.

Let me underline that this is the Australian Post Office not the British Post Office. The British Post Office is a horrible place. To emphasise this point, let me talk you through a day in the British Post Office -  you queue for something, some old people grumble about one of two things, either the length of the queue or your being ahead of them in the queue, and then you get pretty much chewed out regardless by someone for either not walking fast enough or not walking slow enough. It's like the last bastion of pure unadulaterated non PC bitching. God help you if you are an ethnic minority, I can only imagine what they say about you. In Kilmarnock, I was completely bitched on for being an Australian, just because I had a Gold Coast Chargers top on. I tell you, Postman Pat might have been a fantastic man who delivered in all kinds of weather with his loveable kooky cat, but even his spirit would have been crushed after five minutes in Kilmarnock post office on pension day.

The Australian Post Office however is a fantastic place, like a little junk shop where people somehow buy stamps as well. Just to take a post office at random, the post office in Burnie until very recently was still selling antique 1995 Fitzroy toy vans. Now, Fitzroy went out of business in 1996, so these things if flung on Ebay would be worth a fortune. Yet there they are, sitting in a little sale tray table for 50c. You want to pretend Steve Irwin didn't die? There's Steve Irwin DVDs everywhere. Hi-5 aren't getting paid enough? Prop up their income with a CD or two, purchased for a dollar from the post office! It's the last bastion of stamp collecting, which isn't as crazy as it sounds. When I was growing up, the local newsagent was as insane about stamps as the local pervert was about the bikini girls in Australia post. Not now though. Most newsagents have become progressively grumpy and stick to their routine with a grudging despair. Luckily, the post office is obvious safe haven for the stamp obsessive - I think it's part of the interview process. They show you a Red Guinea from the 1800s and see how impressed you are. Plus, you just know the sorting office is rife with theft and mockery. How much of a funhouse must that be!

However, the reason I'm really enthusiastic about the post office in Australia is that it's probably the last place a confused old battler can sit down and spend the day. In Britain security or pushy staff would probably throw the old battler out, but in Australia a battler has two choices, sit in the post office or hide in the library. Hey, I can't talk about the library, I spent most of my unemployed days in the library flirting idly with single mothers and hiding in the sports section. However, the Internet is now something you have to pay for, and to the best of my knowledge there's nothing on microfiche anymore. You can certainly enjoy a relaxing day in the university library, but it gets a bit boring around lunch time and for the older gentlemen there's the possibility of sticking out like a sore thumb amidst the gathering of hippy radicals and lefties. So, the post office it is to while some time away before Million Dollar Wheel Of Fortune. I only realised this when I went in to go and get my passport picture taken. This is an elaborate process in the post office, involving the slender Asian woman behind the counter getting out a box brownie from the 40s and winding it up for ten minutes. However, in the corner in a designated area was an old female battler having a nap. I felt bad disturbing the woman, but a passport photo is a passport photo. We had to poke her with a stick to wake her up. However she didn't take that as an invitation to leave the post office, she simply shifted down two seats and went straight back to sleep. And no one batted an eye lid. And I loved that very fact and was proud that old battlers had somewhere to go, in fact, a multitude of places - the casino, the post office, a local pub where you can have a tab - I really appreciate that my retirement is so well planned.

It's a wonderful world out there. There's something in this Shatner thought process.

Mary Kate and Ashley make you think

An interesting thing happened today, blue eye shadow girl actually walked past me on the way to her lunch break, the first time I hadn't seen her locked behind the eternal hell of the lay by section. I'd love to say I struck up a conversation, but of course, I didn't. Oh well, I blame my eagerness to get to a 25% off book sale. Damn this obsession with factual books that teach me things.

I'll get right to the point on this - I only ever, ever read books that can teach me something. I'm not into the Illuminati or that giant lizards will rule the earth, don't worry, but books that teach me, say, how a certain toy promotion worked while another one failed, or how certain strands of religion evolved into commercial considerations. Sure, you can read your Rebus or your SAS based thrillers, but what do you learn? Far better to sit down with the Shatner book and learn about how his missus died in mysterious circumstances. Rebus, I mean really, what can you learn? Several slang Scottish words? Please, I ken your puddock been spruiket cos yer feet are awfa groggy. Anyway, the exact circumstances how I came to own the books on my bookshelf are possibly lost to time but my princess like nature (my dad says continually I have a "big stupid coupon" when I'm a huff) and self obsessed lead someone, as a joke, to buy me "The Ultimate Guide to Mary Kate and Ashley" since I was a diva just like them. Since this was a novelty item, I'd put in my cupboard next to the Snowball that swears when you shake it. Reading it today, even though 1/2 the book is taken up with a horrendous fiction story about a horse and magic show, it is the kind of philosophical document that really makes you question yourself, and no, I'm not being ironic. The book is filled with personal questions that really analyse the inner psyche. It's a little bit like when you are stoned (I'd imagine) late at night and you debate how incredibly gay the man in the Bundy Rum ad who gets the personal details of the referee is. Seriously, that guy is on BigGayBears.com, he really is. What is with that guy? Why have we gone from 5 Cougars girl to him? A PC conversion? Odd.

Oh yeah, the book. Let's delve into some questions.

(Keep in mind this book was released in 2004, so they are awkwardly between the good girl and "skagged out vages" (c Tony Martin) phase of their careers. As if to underline this point, the book has a number of mentions of the horrendously awkward "New York Minute", a feel good family film with about 25 shots of them having showers)

Your idea of a perfect lunch is - a) chips, chips, chips! b) a tuna sandwich with a yogurt and an apple or c) burgers - but you have a salad too

I didn't really like any of these choices, but I picked a. According to the girls, this means that basically I am a fat load, and in any of their films, were I a girl, I'd only be in the film to have a milkshake poured over my head. Eating chips is doing nothing for my social standing according to the girls. If I spent more time on the treadmill and eating fish, I'd be cool enough to hang with the girls and get my groove on. Given I've written this post in my pyjamas and Lisbon Lions tracksuit top, they may have a point. All of which really is a harsh judgement to draw from the fact someone likes chips. They may just me a massive Eric Astrada fan. (If in doubt, end on an Eric Astrada reference).

You're Snow White and your stepmum is spending ages with the magic mirror - do you a) Get the mirror to tell you you're way more gorgeous: b) Lure her away with a treat like a nice juicy apple or c) Run off to the woods in a sulk with seven short guys who think you're cool?

You don't know how happy I was that someone slipped a stoner conversation into the middle of a Mary Kate and Ashley book. I wasn't even wanting to read the context of this question, I just liked the idea of how amazingly random it was. I think this bit was written by the manatees who write Family Guy. For the record, I chose c, because I'm a princess and I would always sulk, although I find midgets really creepy. This apparently means for some reason my family is always giving me grief and are stealing choccie biccies from the tin. If I sit and calmly reason with them, it'll all work out. I thought about this, but I think if I sit my Dad down and say "I really think you should stop mentioning my big stupid cushion", it's not going to help...

There's a whole and entire section on numerology, astrology, and what to do when your boyfriend ODs...oh wait, that was the Herald Sun that published that a, b, c. I think the motto is, burgers are safer than drugs, and anything can happen in a New York Minute.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Local pride

I'm really not sure what I'm doing with my life. My head is all over the place. Whatever Leilani Kai has going on, I want to be part of it. Or Natalie Avellino. I also saw today that in the USA, you can hire a "celebrity package" where for two hours a pretend paparazzi follows you around and you get a faux fur coat. I wouldn't mind that for my birthday party - it might also be what Natalie Bassingthwaite needs after her solo album bombs. That's probably the fed upness talking, since I like The Bass, but her book with her sister has really put me off her.

One of the themes of this blog so far has been local pride - whether it's taking a visitor from Scotland and proudly showing them Tacos restaurant or simply mocking another nations inferior weather, a bit of local pride doesn't go astray. I was a little harsh on the Advocate in the last post, at least they are out having a crack at restoring some local pride. When I was in Scotland lately, a newspaper had published a report from an Englishman slagging off parts of Scotland and invited the locals to write in and defend the area. I saw some old woman walking past, and she clicked her teeth and said "Yeah, it is a shithole, no one is gonna write in!" - the Advocate would have organised a march on the guys house. When the Big Penguin was mocked on Have I Got News For You, I felt quite moved to send them an angry e-mail on behalf of the Advocate, to which they never replied. Guess you didn't have a comeback huh Merton?

Two quick stories on local pride - firstly, my Dad is from a town called Paisley in Scotland. It has an abby (and an Abbie - how are you babe?), an obviously fantastic football team, some neds, some would be drug lords, and hundreds of years of culture. My Dad is reasonably proud of his home town and my parents are really, really proud of Scotland. Just ask them, they'll tell you everything ever invented by a Scottish person and compare it to Australia's record of the Hills Hoist and Vegemite. Anyway, my Dad, when we first moved to the North West Coast was talking to a local about what was interesting and fascinating about the North West Coast. This local really thought about it and said "The paddock" - a paddock is a field with essentially nothing in it. And this was some pretty non specific advice, given just saying "the paddock" could have meant anything. The local looked my Dad in the eye and said "Yeah, the paddock in Latrobe! Shits on the Eiffel Tower!" - I definitely admire the guy for trying to sell 1982 Tasmanian fields as something to go and see, he had a lot of local pride, but shits on the Eiffel Tower? Sure, if he'd mentioned the Courthouse Museum...

Of course, it's easy to have a flippant attitude to this kind of thing. Hell it fills up some space on a blog. But my main thought about local pride is as always revolved around Burnie (such a clumsy sentence skinny man). If you didn't spend Xmas in Burnie in the 1980s, you really missed out on a treat. A fat, slightly awkward man clamering for children to sit on his knee and call him Santa, the hum of the Fitzgeralds carol singers, and most of all, the decorations. My god, the decorations. Well, I say decorations, but basically they strung some of those crepe bells you see across the top of some lamp posts. I hate crepe bells, they really are the worst Xmas decoration you can have, they are the Josh Fraser of Xmas decorations. But the mayor was really proud of them, going to great lengths to make sure that he was photographed every day in the paper pointing and smiling at them. So far, so good for Xmas in Burnie...problem was, Billy Connolly was in town. And doing a gig in Burnie. Comes on stage, first line, very line..."hello Burnie...I see you've got your decorations up! Fucks sake! Nothing like Xmas in Burnie! Get those shite decorations oot the box Doris, it's Xmas time!"

At which point, a certain local dignitary stormed indignantly out of his seat. Yes, Billy might have been the Big Yin in general, but nothing offends a man more than questioning the size of his bells.

I think I heard that phrase right...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A trip to your local

OK, this post is slightly confessional, and I sort of hope it doesn't sound like bragging, well, it will, so I'll be really brief. One of my first ever relationships (as they say in bible studies and political studies) was with a local girl who played netball. It was at a time when I was very depressed and anti social and didn't have a lot of direction, so I would disappear under the pretext of going to library and looking for work and go to her house to watch TV and have relationships. The good thing about this was it was casual and secretive, but the really best thing about it was we met at a local sporting event, probably a public holiday meeting

Actually, the very best thing about it was she was really way out of my league. I think it was a bet.

So anyway, I hope this will encourage you to go to a local sporting event. And that's not a big team comes to town and plays a game for the peasants, Collingwoods VFL team style. That's real local down home in the mud at Kermandie local sport. To be honest here in Tasmania, local sport is dead except for small tiny pockets. The most spiteful local sport is probably the local basketball on the North West Coast, which regularly descends into chaotic on court rioting and freestyle rapping dissing the participants, but local football is now just an excuse to drink beer and eat lukewarm hotdogs. When I was growing up I lived on the back lot of Penguin football ground and it was always buzzing, with people abusing the umpires and cursing the parentage of people from East Devonport, while old ladies up the back of the stand would knit a jumper and somehow know what was going on in the game despite paying no attention. I learned to swear at Penguin, I had my first beer, Chokito and Cherry Ripe at Penguin, and I was home two minutes after the final siren. Sure, it was completely freezing, and usually quite pointless, but where else but 80s Tasmania could you see the WAGs of the players not wearing Gucci handbags or talking on the phone, but coming into the changerooms at 1/2 time with Paddle Pop sticks to scrape the mud off their boyfriends boots? And who could forget the local beauty contest, the Miss Queens Quest, will all the innuendo, smut and glamour that entailed in one night of all the delicious prawn cocktails and atrocious stand up comedy you could handle at the Wynyard RSL?

To further convince you, I've dug out the Football Record from rougly one year ago, June 16 2007, to find the essence of proper local sport. I read today about Cristiano Ronaldo interrupting a Munich service to point angrily at his watch and tell Wayne Rooney to get on with it, and I have a picture saved on this computer of Ashley Cole and Chezza posing in front on a white limo, but this, THIS, is what I consider real sport. take it away the Sorell football club notes...

Our Colts team have had two byes in a row and the overnight stay at Tubby's Evandale property last weekend for a team building exercise was well supporter with approx 20 participants. Wood chopping and Orienteering brought out the best in all of them whilst the culinary skills of the minders would put Jamie Oliver and the Iron Chef to shame.

I find that strangely uplifting. 20 people, one property, people opting to actually spend a weekend in Evandale of all places for some bonding. The idea that everyone chopping wood will make a better football team. Wondering how big Tubby's property was people were able to Orienteer and knowing someone said "I want to orienteer my way to the fridge" - and thinking about this wonderful weekend, I know that local sport will always be alive in Tasmania, as long as young footballers are stuck in the pissing rain chopping wood for Tubbys fire just to help the club and their own careers. The kids of Sorell, I salute you. Not only should you play local sport, you should watch local sport, you never know what will happen.

I didn't even need to write/blog about Cygnets Pimps and Pros fundraiser...

Whatever became of the Monopoly kid?

I wouldn't say that I feel very motivated sitting typing this post after a fairly bad day at work- I did see blue eye shadow girl, and she actually spoke on the store microphone. Luckily, she didn't sound like, say, Bea Arthur, that would have been disconcerting. Speaking of microphones, the man who last night said at the Jeff Fenech fight for the crowd to give Josh Fraser a round of applause is on my hate list today because really, the only time I want to give Josh Fraser a round of applause is when he's leaving the ground for the last time and I never need to see him ever again.

Down here in Hobart there's not much going on right now - our new state Premier though wears a ring on his thumb, which is good for him, but the Mercury, our local paper, got about four days worth of stories out of it. One day to analyse it politically, one day of will he wear it, will he not, and two days of analysis from style experts. The style experts are probably the same people who run my favourite piece of journalism, the weekly fashion find in the "Attitude" (a poor mans Hit) section on a Friday. Basically, they find some bogan or goth or girl dressed in a bed sheet in the middle of the mall on a Wednesday, and take a photo of them. Everyone ever in this section of the paper seems to look horrendous and be having some horrific practical joke played on them, but they proudly talk about how putting a beanie and a Brisbane Bears jumper (and god I want one of those) and some longstockings together really accentuates their eyes or some such thing. The Mercury is definitely an odd paper. The sports section is now three pages long and full of adverts, and there's no longer some sneaky brothel ads in the classifieds. It takes about 10 seconds to read these days. 

However, the Mercury is spun gold compared to the paper I grew up with on the NW Coast, the mighty Advocate. Do you like Hagar the Horrible? Well, the Advocate had it three times a day! Did you win 50 bucks at bingo or have the same name as someone in the news? We'll be round straight away! Making rice filled heat packs for a Young Achievement group? Oh wait, that was me, and yes, I was in the Advocate, looking at the heat pack like it was a miracle invention. In fairness, it was hard being a journalist on the North West Coast - the place was very regional and they tried to instill a lot of local pride into the citizens. The trouble was, just about everyone my age was aggressively calling it a shit hole and couldn't wait to leave. I imagine the editors of the Advocate sitting around going "those kids getting drunk at Hiscutt Park? Why aren't they out making jam? Local pride is at stake!" - for once cynicism took over and the world got bigger, once Collingwood were more important to people than City-South, the Advocate lost it's way, and it could never get back to it's "integral part of YOUR community" place that it used to hold.

My all time favourite ever piece of journalism in the Advocate was this one time in about, oh, 1995, when this kid had just become Australian Monopoly champion. That's front page news up in the North West. And sure enough, it was front page news, and the Advocate really went to town. They came up with a special little inlet box about this kids hints and tips about how to play Monopoly. However, the kid really outdid himself. "I used to play my family," he huffed, "but they really aren't a challenge now." - I wonder sometimes when I see child prodigies what became of them, but really I wonder mostly what happened to him. I like to think he sends constant letters to Jacques Rogge, demanding Monopoly be put into the Olympics. Maybe he took up another board game, like Scrabble, for the sake of family harmony. Maybe someone one day made him bankrupt when he threw a double three, and thus he lost all his competitive spirit. I really would like to know one day, I'd love to find out what became of the Monopoly kid.

I bet he's on Facebook though playing online. I can just tell...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Search for a hero

I probably needed some cheering up today - my moods have been all over the place, even though I saw blue eye shadow girl. Maybe I should just ask her out? I had a friend of mine who once sent an e-mail to a girl in a travel agents he liked. It was all a bit stalkerish, he sent her this really long e-mail about how pretty she was, and she did actually reply, but only in a "is this a wind up" kind of way. I'm pretty awful with letting people know I like them. I'd love to be smooth and wear a big Usher coat and hang out like a homie and get love in the club, but it's too late for that old nonsense. Besides, knowing how much of a micro-manager my manager at work is, she'd probably follow me into the club as I tried to make a smooth move and provide me with helpful motivational tips and asides. I hate motivational tips and asides.

Anyway, enough of that. It still cheers me up that I've been able to slip the "be champions" from Jose Mourinho's puppet on Setanta Sports into these micro meetings and have it taken seriously, that's lifted my spirits. It's also got me thinking about adopting a blog mascot, well, not so much a mascot but someone who can guide me through these dark and disturbing times. I've always had heroes in my life, most of them have played sport, and most of them have ended up being quite disappointing, but I think it's important that even at 29, you still have a role model. I've been using Blog Explosion to try and get some hits on this website and a lot of blogs seem to be quite motivational in tone, using the posts to try and help others say, lose weight or do something political or simply seem to be 200 posts in a row saying "I'm really going to make this blog work - LOLZ!" and then posting a Youtube clip of a cheeky cat. Well, if my lack of interest is still there in November, I might very well be resorting to cheeky cats on Youtube, but at least I'll go down with an inspiration and someones words of wisdom (no not my manager) ringing in my ears, words of wisdom I hope that I can pass on if I've got nothing else to write about. I've narrowed my options down to 4 candidates, and here they are.

Rocky the Airdrie United Mascot - a controversial choice for me given a) I hate Airdrie and b) what's wrong with St Mirrens own Paisley Panda? Well, it's all in context. In the programme for Airdries 2005 match with St Mirren, the manager uses the word "disappointing" no fewer than 9 times in his programme notes, while the chairman bangs on about financial prudence in his section. So much for ambition. It's left to Rocky in his "Fun Spot" to come up with the inspiration. He's the only person in the whole programme to encourage cheering and support for the team. I feel like I could benefit from Rockys wisdom, and at opportune times, he could just say "Come on Michael!" while everyone else was moaning at me and leave me feeling inspired.

Sister Sharon Stringer - in 1993, she held the world record for fastest bed making according to my 1993 Guinness book of records. Thus, as a nurse, she took her job and did something productive with it, something I haven't done for years. She met Roy Castle. Well, not that that's an option for me these days - but I could still meet Cheryl Baker I suppose.

Miles McClagan - I figure I need a male role model, and if you look, you'll see I'm doing these posts under the name Miles McClagan. He was a Scottish tennis player. He was once one round away from playing Andre Agassi at Wimbledon. He lost. I find that oddly inspirational. In a Scottish way.

Alisa Camplin - I used to really like Olympic gold medallist Alisa Camplin back in the day, even though she's not my normal type. Wil Anderson once told a very funny story (yes, I know, me neither) about her training on the trampoline. Her book High Flier is very inspirational in many ways. Inspirational in the same way my manager thinks is inspirational. That's not fair, I just didn't like the two pages which were a list of her sponsors I guess and she tries very hard and is a nice person. She even blames herself for the fact her boyfriend didn't win a medal. Like I said, she tries very hard. Alisa that is, my manager doesn't. Anyway, I wonder if I could slip in a few choice Alisa Camplin quotes from her book into the endless meetings we seem to have. "I may be short but I'm never small" is just an outstanding quote. Besides, if I lived my life according to this book, I'd be a non stop high flier!

It's a tough choice, one that I really have to think about...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Celebrity Chefs, none of them Swedish

Since I've started blogging, I haven't seen the girl with the blue eye shadow once. It's getting disconcerting.

Gordon Ramsay is in Australia right now, for reasons that have entirely to do with the fact he says fuck a lot. No one seems to be willing to discuss cookery with him though. In fact I would dare to say if you asked someone what Gordons signature dish was they'd giggle and say "he says fuck a lot, tee hee!" - I used to really like Kitchen Nightmares, the British series, but the American series seems massively stage managed, although my legal department would like to point out this is simply an opinion. Since he's been in Australia he's tongue kissed an old woman, got debated in parliament in the most time consuming parliamentary debate since should Kirsty Marshall breast feed. said shit on TV and smashed a swear jar. It all seems awfully undignified. Mind you, he is also opening a restaurant here in Australia, which is probably better than when Jamie Oliver turned up and said Melbourne had more junkies than anyone else in the world. His office burned down recently, just saying. Anyway, Gordon Ramsay is just Bernard King with more f words, and Peter Russell Clarke ws swearing at chickens for years, and no one gave him an Emmy. It's all about theatre, provoking a reaction with insults. No doubt in three years he'll be as tedious as Paris Hilton, but for now, he's king of the world.

A lot of people think that the celebrity chef is a modern invention, but as Bernard King proved, it's been going on for years. I'd like to see Gordon so called Ramsay judge a talent show, Pot Luck style, as Bernard did, and hold things together when a contestant tears a hamstring kicking himself in the head.

The big two as far as we were concerned on the North West Coast of Tasmania were Phil Maney and Crazy Charlie. OK, Crazy Charlie wasn't a celebrity chef, but he was a celebrity who dealt in the food business, a big cheese on the NW Coast. Crazy Charlie, like Franco Cozzo, Ken Bruce and other pioneers of late night TV in Australia, mixed incredible bargains with several adverts questioning his own sanity. He ran a chain of bargain stores and I remember he did a delicious line on possibly poisonous strawberry sweets. Now, I used to work in a Supermarket which will remain nameless, and saw Crazy Charlie in the supermarket one night. He came through my register, and he was morbidly depressed, unshaven, and bought some brown rice and bread. That wasn't very crazy. I was expecting him to take the rice and throw it over his head, or marry a carton of milk. Certainly the ad seemed to suggest that if you went into his store, the craziness would circumvent the really mundane process of buying a wicker chair and you'd spend a million bucks in the shop in a fit of insanity. Well, I think he went out of business eventually. He wasn't as crazy as the Chickenfeed chicken. I have no idea what happened to Phil Maney - he made basically every single pie you could eat on the NW Coast when I was growing up. The ad said "You gotta try a Phil Maney pie!", like you had a choice in the matter - but I remember he did a really tedious interview in the local paper once about how pies had a bad name before he came along. I think he said that before he came along, if you wanted a meat pie, they could have put cat meat in it for all you knew. He seemed to talk a lot about pies. Maybe he fell in a pie machine in the end. I'd love to know, but Ramsay, beware, fame is very fickle, and your time is running out.

Gordon Ramsay then - not as good as Bernard King, Phil Maney or a man who could sell you a wicker chair. Do you think this blog will really catch on anywhere outside the Maney household?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Truly Partying like it was 1999

1999 was a bad year for me - uni drop out, having to get a job, a lot of casual gardening, a full year away from Bardot, a bored 45 year old housewife from America on the Internet as my only friend, and to top it all off, Collingwood finished dead last. Who could forget Cameron Venables? For reasons that are lost to history, I watched that years AFL Grand Final at the Hobart casino in a superbox. When I say superbox, I mean a big room with a big TV in the corner and a lot of sausage rolls and crepe paper. I'm not in any way flash but I have been in the odd luxury box or simulated luxury box, and they all completely suck, mostly because there's a lot of people wandering around asking which team is which and where are the party pies? This one was particularly uncomfortable because the game was lousy, I knew no-one, and the barmaids were dressed, Cricketers Arms style, in football tops and shorts, and on the end of more and more leering comments. Partying like it was 1999 was no picnic, let me tell you. Luckily, what no one knows, especially my dad, was that I went off and found three chinless wonders doing cocaine in the toilets, threatened to dob them in to security, and they gave me 200 bucks each to keep quiet. Then I had to stay near the party pies to avoid them punching my head in. Oh, and my finely tuned chat up lines failed to impress the girl in the Carlton top. Huh, lesbian I guess.

That's the Penguin response.

To continue our theme today of declining heroes, the main man of the moment was Wayne Carey, the AFL equivalent of Jesus (God was taken as a nickname). In the Grand Final record that year the superlatives were so over the top you can only imagine what it was doing to his ego. The 1999 Grand Final was his last great moment before the affair with his team-mates missus, the domestic violence, the drugs and the rock bottom moment, talking to Denton, but already the cracks were starting to appear. I went down to the lobby of the casino to wait for a cab and hope to god I wasn't , and a taxi driver was smoking a cigarette. "Maybe I could get a cab soon?" I said to the smoking stereotype. He simply looked me up and down and said "What was the score mate?" and I mumbled something about, oh, North Melbourne won, boring game, didn't have sex - he looked me up and down again and said "Oh, did Carey play well?". I looked up the stairs nervously to see if I was going to get bashed, and said, oh, OK, probably Shannon Grant played better.

He took a deep draw of his cigarette, and simply shook his head. "Fucking gary." I said, who's Gary, and he said, not Gary, Carey. Fucking Carey. He shook his head again. "I had him in the back of my cab the other week. Took him to the Mens Gallery. Him and that fucking Grant. Wankers the pair of them. Going on about giant tits." He threw his cigarette on the ground, and got to the meat of his argument. "And, get this, he told me he didn't like Powderfinger - never, ever trust a fuckhead who doesn't like Powderfinger!"

If only someone had alerted the club - the decline was so obvious in hindsight. And I ended up wasting my six hundred bucks on a boozy night out at the biggest dive in Hobart. Prince, you had no idea what you were talking about...

It's still real to me dammit

I mentioned a couple of posts ago about my inappropriate crush on Leilani Kai, the female wrestler. I probably shouldn't say inappropriate, that's entirely the wrong wording - and to be honest, on the Internet it seems anyone can considered beautiful, and it's really really weird, you just call it a fetish and you are in the clear. There was a brilliant documentary on Australian TV a few years ago about guys who like girls with amputated limbs, so liking a female wrestler seems oddly tame. If you saw the original Dawn Marie wrestling, you'd know that fancying HER was a little odd, but she had blue eye shadow...I think I'm sensing a pattern. However, when I first started watching wrestling it wasn't Ms Kai or Ms Marie that I remember. It was, in a purely kid friendly way, the Hulkster, the man leading the Hulkamaniacs, Hulk Hogan. Hulk was the champion, mentioned 200 times an episode on Superstars, and everyone loved the big lug. I got a bit cynical after a while and started hoping Mr Perfect would beat him down, but when the evil Sgt Slaughter put a "Hulkamaniac" through boot camp and beat the fan up, boy, there were some loud shouts for the Hulk at the TV from my house.

Now the last few years haven't been kind to the Hulkster. His daughter had a pop career that completely died (and out of spite, another wrestler, Jillian Hall, does a thinly veiled impression of her) and his son is in jail for crashing a car and paralyzing his passenger. He's tried to put his side of the story to the media but has come off really badly. His wife has left him for someone the age of Sharrod Wellingham, he doesn't have much money, and he can't wrestle due to injuries. The only man he could work for, Vince McMahon, hates him. Worst of all, he tried to get in on the grill market and compete with George Foreman, but his grill blows up as soon as you look at it. It's really difficult to believe in the training, the prayers and the vitamins when his grill can't even toast a muffin.

What I've been wondering since his awful appearance on Larry King is - does anyone anywhere still believe in the three commandments? When I was growing up watching wrestling, Hulk Hogan would always say that it was important that the teeny Hulksters followed the three commandments of Hulkamania - training, prayers and vitamins. He later added a fourth, believing in yourself, but that was unecessary flab. I wonder if anyone out there is in a Hulk Hogan shirt, working out in the gym every day, saying prayers to God at night, and taking clean, healthy vitamins to keep in shape. And the reason I was wondering was because I told by a friend of mine that he took some tapes around to his cousins house to loan him, and his cousin was dressed in full Hulk Hogan singlet, headband and wristbands, and was pumping iron to Real American. They mutually made eye contact, and as they did, they silently made a note to never mention the incident again. I just wonder what that cousin is doing now, if he still believes in the training, the prayers and the vitamins. I find it really endearing that people believe so utterly in their childhood heroes, and then find out almost entirely without fail that they were actually pretty ordinary human beings. But then, I still seem to do it. Dale Thomas has started to let me down on a weekly basis, but it's only because I expect him to kick six goals every week. And I'm 29 years of age. I don't think I live through the commandments of Dale Thomas, good hair care, nightclub appearances and having 1 good day for every 2 bad ones, but I could try, but I shouldn't be putting anyone on a pedestal at my age. Let alone Hulk Hogan.

Maybe I should till believe in the lovely netballer Natalie Avellino, and the pre match commandment she said after a netball game once - "Yeah we done shot pretty good". Truly, truly inspirational...

Tasmanias differences - a pub vs a bar

I turn 30 very shortly, which is no doubt a sad indictment of the fact that I've wasted 10 years on the Internet (although without a blog, oddly) chatting, doing secret work for Yahoo, and such like things. I should probably spend the next decade more productively, but I probably won't, in fact, no doubt in 2018 I'll be doing vlog posts bemoaning the fact that Jet Buckley hasn't come on as he should have for Collingwood, and that Ben Reid still can't kick the ball but somehow has just clocked up 200 games.

However what I have started thinking about is my (still being alive pending) retirement and my search for a local pub. Make no mistake, I can't stand old people, but when I become one, I think it's my civil duty to stroll about in slippers, get in peoples way in stores, and write angry letters to the Mercury. This is not something I will take lightly, I plan to use the declining years of my life perhaps more productively than I have my current lamentable so called career. When I get to about 55-60 years of age, I think I'll start a pub tour and try and establish a rapport with some of the young barmaids. Anyone who lets me call them love will get a point. Anyone who objects to my slippers, that's a point off. And make no mistake, it will be a search for a "pub", not a bar. The pub seems to be dying out the same way as real men, binge drinking and Josh Frasers career, so I might have to compromise and become an afternoon drinker, when only the real boozers are out and about, and go home at 9 when the kids come out. I will be cantakerous and moody at this point, and begrudge anyone who wants a drink and gets near my regular stool.

I have a strong initial candidate. The Black Buffalo in North Hobart is a traditional "pub", which is to differentiate it from a bar of course - no one in the Black Buffalo would be seen dead in a bar. A bar conjures up horrendous images for the pub goer - live music, maybe some live giveaways and raffles, theme nights and such nonsense. The Black Buffalo has about 10 regulars who sit at the bar all day and get served faster than any mere interloper. It's crucial that as an interloper, you respect this hierarchy - you can stand patiently in a space at the bar, but not interrupt the flow of regulars beer and betting. They come first. There's a TOTE next door, but the barkeeper puts the regulars bets on for them so they don't have to get up. It's also the kind of place you'd imagine casual racism and sexism is still allowed to flourish. I don't know if any barmaids actually work there, but I'd imagine they'd be judged wholly and solely on their looks, and maybe 5% on their sassy comebacks, which is fair enough. It is after all a pub, not some poncey wine bar.

My other option is to retire back to Penguin, my old home town. It's important in Penguin to learn two quick rules. Firstly, it's not your jukebox, and secondly, it's not your pool table. You can pick one song on the jukebox, but it must not be anything other than Khe Sanh or Thunderstruck. You can beat your friends at pool, but you can't play a regular, and if you are dragged into it, lose, and leave. To judge the kind of town Penguin is, once, when the local pub was flooded by a storm caused leak in the roof but the propiertor simply opened the back door and the front door and let the water run through the bar like a river out in the street. No one moved, no one got up, and beer was still served. A re-assuring slice of common sense from some logical heads. No doubt some OH&S people would TSK at such a resolution of the flooding issue but such people have no place in a pub - there's a bar down the road for them, with some hippies and Tim Rogers doing a tight hour.

Of course, all this is impending on my upcoming marriage to blue eye shadow girl - and whether she makes me do chores around the house. If we go out, it'll probably be to Sex and the City 17 - Bradshaws Revenge. Can't wait to bitch about her down the pub...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jungs Programme Notes #2 - Dundee United v Floriana - 5/11/1988

I love football programmes, and not for the nerdish reasons that seem to dog the collecting game. I love reading programmes for the sheer nostalgia and social time capsule they encompass. When I read, say, a Scotland programme from 1989 or early 1990 and see those fantastic Scotland shellsuits modelled so proudly, it speaks more for the era than any multi layered history book or fancy DVD. Whenever I think of Scotland, I think of shell suits, and also, gritty realism. I lived in the West of Scotland, and there was no shortage of people ready to cut you down to size. Or punch you in the head.

I'm a massive fan of any Dundee United programme from the 80s, whether the team was in it's league winning pomp or slipping into it's late 80s decline. The reason is that while some programmes radiate in positivity and "let's hear you!" style support please, Dundee Uniteds progammes are soaked in pie grease and gritty Scottish realism. One of my all time favourite pieces of programme writing is from one of their European nights, where an entire column is devoted to the fact Dundee United continually get dumpling teams in the draw that no one has ever heard of. The columnists personal affront Dundee United had to even go onto the same pitch as lowly Winterslag is just wonderful to read. Even if Dundee United have won, say, six in a row, there is still an air in the programme that it could all fall apart, don't get ahead of yourself, and when you are jumping in the air in triumph, someone can still kick you in the bollocks.

This all stems from legendary Scottish grump and miser, Dundee United manager Jim McLean, he of punching reporter in the head fame. I own about 10 80s Dundee United programmes, and every one of his programme notes contains a long and lengthy whinge about how badly things are going, and why can't this be better, why is this player injured, why the hell didn't we buy him. I'd imagine by 1988 Jimbo realised he couldn't compete for players with Rangers, and it panned his head in. I'd love to grab every single programme after Dundee United won the league, and slowly go through Jims programme notes as United declined from beating Barcelona in the Nou Camp to getting gubbed 1-4 by St Mirren at Tannadice. For enthusiasts of some good old Scottish moaning, this programme comes from the second leg of Uniteds game against Floriana in the Cup Winners Cup. Floriana held United to a 0-0 draw in the first leg, and boy, has that annoyed everyone in the programme, that a team even WORSE than Winterslag got a draw against them. Especially Jim. But he'd have been grumpy anyway. I can see Jim sitting in an artists garret, quill in hand, writing his programme notes dressed in black listening to the Cure.

They do things differently though in Finland - so top marks to one Olli Matti Matihalti, who used this organ of depression to try and pick up. I'm desperate to know what became of Olli's programme request to gain some female Dundonian pen pals because his local team "play in the same colours as your team!" - maybe some lovely Dundonian wrote back and they had some lovely children. Maybe Jim McLean sent him a badge. I just love the set of circumstances that lead to a Finnish student deciding that if he wrote to Dundee United, his life would be more enjoyable. I wonder if Olli knew the place he was really writing to as he listened to his Dani and Ani CDs and looked for female companionship in a football programme. For as you can gather from reading the programme, late 80s Dundee United (and Dundee in general you sense) was not a place for enjoyment and fun. It was a place for hard work, focus, and the sense that things were falling to bits and everyone could always do better. The land where a pat on the back was only a moment away from a slap in the face. I wonder if Olli knew the place he was really writing to as he listened to his Dani and Ani CDs and looked for female companionship in a football programme.

And that ethic reminds me far more of home than any travel film or beautiful highland landscape.

Kevin Rudd says don't binge drink, so here's a PSA


Tacos
Originally uploaded by JungsPN

This blog, even though no one knows it exists, has probably started to consume my thoughts. Instead of thinking about my job, I was thinking about Falkirk, and instead of looking at blue eye shadow girl, I was simply looking to see if she was there, so I could write about it. No dice, although librarian woman in the book section was there. Which was a shame, I really wanted to read one of the books that were in there. No matter.

What I do want to write about is a little bit of tourist advice for anyone coming to Hobart. Hi, how are you tourists? Welcome. Now, you'll find that you can't smoke in any pubs in Australia. Australia isn't Amsterdam after all. The brothels are very well hidden (except the weird one in North Hobart). Our government has recently announced here that they class drinking 4 mid strength beers as "binge drinking" and you should probably consult the approved pamphlet to advise you on how not to drink or end up in a New York strip bar with Rupert Murdochs #2. Now, our prime Minister Kevin Rudd hasn't really got an identity yet, and starting a "war" on something is as good a way to do it. This is not to be confused with a war on terror. John Howard has his war on guns, Paul Keating on racism, Bob Hawke on poverty, and Kevin Rudd has a war on binge drinking. This has spilled over to another of my home towns, Burnie, which now has a pact against anti social behaviour and drunks. One guy even said he would never serve anyone who couldn't pronounce the drink they wanted - a real bugger for anyone from Smithton. Ah, that's not the Burnie I know. Frankly, it's only a short step away from drinking being banned in pubs, like smoking is (don't laugh, it could yet happen). Is this what the diggers fought for (etc etc)?

Luckily, Hobart tourist, you don't need to be caught up in this nonsense. I've compiled a handy guide to our pub scene - and more importantly, who will serve you when you are drunk. Don't tell Kevin Rudd, he'll be on the phone and then the Mercury will write a think piece that doesn't involve the premiers ring (on his thumb). Honestly, tourists of Hobart, if you are drunk at 3am, I hope one day you read this and remember this handy cut out guide to the people who will serve you, and who won't serve you,

#8 - Montgomerys - Now, you'll only go here if someone thinks karaoke is funny or amusing. However, this is the strictest of all bars. I saw a man try and prove his sobriety by reciting a nine times table - no dice. No service. Then they refused all his friends on the grounds they might buy him a drink. Still, they let any old drunk sing on the karaoke machine. Avoid.

#7 + #6 - Isobar and Syrup. The trick to this, since these are the last places most people go in Hobart in the early hours of the morning, is to get round the bouncers. They'll punch you in the head quick smart when all you think you've done is give them a hilarious quip. The ideal way to get around these thugs is to get your hand stamped for entry when you are sober, and then race in later on past them. It's easy to get served when you are inside, due to the darkness and everyone dancing to Dave Dobbyn - but don't vomit on the floor or bring a whistle, the pre-pubescent 15 year olds don't like that (and incidentally, if you are 15, and a girl, ignore this, you'll get in even if you are being propped up, Weekend at Bernies style).

#5 - Customs - How can I put this politely. Um...the barmaids in there are not the sharpest. Also, if you play any kind of sport, you can pretty much hit someone over the head with a stool and get a drink. However, they do have real bastard bouncers - I once saw a blonde with big breasts get in wearing a hooded top, and then some guy with the same top banned...what am I saying? That's spot on bouncer work. Basically, if you get served by a male at the bar, the night is over. Another trick, go upstairs where the poker machines are. No one is there, you'll get served easily. It can go either way.

#4 - Irish Murphys - If a band is on you can hide in the corner and get served easily as long as you are standing up, and buy Guinness - I haven't seen anyone ever refused service, although the bouncer matrix/stamped hand dilemma is again a problem. Don't make jokes about to be sure though, they'll throw you out for that.

#3 - Central - They are so greatful anyone is there after 7pm, they ply you with drinks, but, they do (or did) have the hottest barmaid in the whole of Hobart (you know who you are), so if you drunkenly sleaze onto her, you get thrown out. A trap for younger tourists.

#2 - The Casino - Now you are talking. They turn down no one, no matter if they can't pronounce "beer" or "rum". The vast space of the place lets you hide in the poker machines, and if sport is on the big screen, it's a festival of fun. There are no bouncers, just guys who get you a cab on the door. However, it is boring as batshit, unless you want to hook up with a gambling addict granny. It does have a creepy David Lynch feel too it at times, but hey, you're drunk tourist, what do you care?

And the best place to get served when you really shouldn't?

#1 - Tacos - yes, a good old Mexican restaurant hid at the end of the wharf, they serve fishbowl margaritas the size of your head. No responsible serving of booze here, just lap it up with a straw son.

I hope this has helped you, confused tourist. Keep up the good fight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Theft and the inevitable consequences

I wrote a post or two ago about inappropriate crushes and now I have an inappropriate crush on a girl who works in a popular department store - now, this isn't due to any classic Miss Switzerland beauty, it's because the way she wears her blue eye shadow is really hot. Anyway, the down side to this is to see her, I have to walk past the man on the door - now, this is Tasmania, so he doesn't inspect your bags on the way in or out, but he does possess some shifty eyes. So, my lunch break goes, look for blue eye shadow girl, hope inevitable day doesn't come when man on door pulls me up, and then, when inside chain store, wander around, and look at wrestling figures. This is another tricky act, since I'm 29, and it can be a little dodgy wandering around the toy department. Maybe the man on the door will think that's my go. I used to know that Thursday night at Coles was "If you have a melon in your hand on Thursday night you are single" night, so I hope holding a Lashley figure isn't the pedo equivalent.

All of which you probably don't need to know, but it's a blog, what do you expect? So anyway, I was taking in all of my lunch time routine yesterday, blue eye shadow girl wasn't there, neither was shifty eyed door man, but my other nemesis, book lady was, so I wandered round to the CD section, and I saw something I've never seen before - a kid not only stealing something in classic look left, look right, under the coat style, but getting royally busted by a girl in a black top. I can honestly say I've heard "security to aisle 3", but I've never seen anyone get nailed so quickly. And I'm staring right at this kid, and he has, in his hand, the Will.I.Am solo album. Now, I'm not a criminal mastermind but surely that's only 50c by now? I so wanted to tell the kid, re: the CD, something along the lines of "you got it from your Momma!", but I couldn't frame it quite right. Then I started thinking "maybe I could get dragged into this as a witness, I don't want to spend time in court saying yes your honour, it was Will.I.Am, no, it definitely wasn't Wyclef, but I can see why you'd think that. So I backed off, and left security to work it's magic. The last word I heard either of them utter was "profit", which i don't think was a great negotiating tactic on behalf of the black T-shirt girl. Appealing about a loss of profit hasn't really worked for the RIAA, it aint working for popular Australian department stores.

I'm not an expert (again) on store security, but 20 minutes later, I was at a popular coffee emporium, and there was that kid again, free as a bird. I guess he'd talked his way out of it or been able to break the less than terrifying grip of the girl in the black T-shirt, but I did wonder if the sheer fact that he was stealing a Will.I.Am solo album was somehow punishment enough, like some desperate dare or group punishment. Did he do it to impress blue eye shadow girl? He better not have. How do you go back to your friends and say "look what I stole, an album that's sold 28 copies! Let's go back and get Rob Mills Up All Night!" - I'd also love to say that this somehow made me a better person. I always find some thefts, like the hungry man stealing a loaf of bread, quite sad, but this kid didn't really teach me anything, he was well dressed, seemingly well fed, and was just nicking something for the sake of it. However, at this point in my internal monologue, I realised I'm turning slowly into John Laws, and I stopped thinking about it.

Although, I do plan to keep you posted on blue eye shadow girl.

Merv Hughes swims in shit - great cricket literature Volume 1

So I spent most of my day Thinking Falkirk, although not to the extent that I was hassling Tasmanians to move to Scotland. It was a strange day though - every time I tried to move, an old person would get in my way, just like that old Late Show sketch where the old people planned in a war room the best way to annoy people. So while I tried to think about Falkirk, I mostly thought "Get out of my way!" as another trolley bounced off my shins.

The good news is that thinking about Falkirk made me think about funny sports stories because I was on that whole won't this be an amusing post kind of trip tangentially. Now, my Mum spent most of my childhood equating Michael liking sports to Michael will read anything related to sports. My favourite type of sports books are the ones that end on the sombre note "there's no characters left in (insert sport here!)". Yes, it's always the same, we rooted some slappers, punched our opponents, and drank beer and nearly killed ourselves - but I wouldn't trade the memories, imagine having to play in this era! I imagine John Burgess feels the same way about Tim Campbell when he watches Million Dollar Wheel - that there's no characters left in game show hosting. The good thing about the "no characters left in sport" debate is that it's always a fat bloke who brings it up. Which is a great link to todays book of the...er...day, "Merv Hughes, My Life and Other Funny Stories" by Merv Hughes and David Emerson.

If you were wondering, MLaOFS is a classic example of the genre of great sporting character studies you used to see littering the shelves of 1990s book stores. The book which I believe cost my mother 1.50, is described as one of the most hilarious books ever written about sport in the blurb and in the foreword by a man who knows all about hilarity, Allan Border. However, I find it to quite sad and depressing. The tenet is that playing for the Australian cricket team is a hilarious fun, but in the book, Merv ends up single, swimming in shit, injured, and almost dies in a plane crash. He becomes a chronic alcoholic, and Dean Jones almost dies from dehydration. In fact, if you set the book to a sad and moving soundtrack, you'd have a miserabilist epic. Being a character seems to involve endless schadenfraude and misery. See what you think.

Chapter 1 - Merv isn't very good at school or work. He is good at sport though. Luckily.
Chapter 2 - Merv compares pre cricket life with current cricket life. Loses girlfriend. Luckily, gains Tom Moody as a friend. I'm not sure that's a good thing. Not much hilarity in that.
Chapter 3 - Merv plays game of football in Darwin. Gets caned by short, fat Aborigines. Decides to play cricket - again, luckily.
Chapter 4 - Merv describes 3 of his debut matches for state, county and country - all three are disasters, which somehow reminds me of that old Far Side cartoon about the baby in kindergarten deliberately failing their colouring in because he didn't want to deal with the pressure of expectation. These first impressions can't always be such disasters.
Chapter 5 - Merv tours England. Hilarity ensues. David Boon wears a kilt.
Chapter 6 - Merv tours India. Swims in a sewer. This bit involves a man named Asif so it is almost certainly not true. Asif? Get it? Asif doesn't tell Merv that he is swimming in shit, which is hilarity in itself. Man meets David Boon and proclaims him a god (by which time you might think Boonies book would be better).
Chapter 7 - Merv sees a nearly fatal boat accident and hurts his knee.
Chapter 8 - Merv tours Dubai. Makes some Sheikh related puns.
Chapter 9 - Merv tours America. Finds baseball less exciting than cricket.
Chapter 10 - A funny Don Bradman story. Ian Chappell isn't involved on rebuttal.
Chapter 11 - An entire chapter on physical fear. Fear of being dropped, fear of batting against West Indians, fear of...everything. Including swimming in shit, hurting your knee, crashing in planes, befriending Tom Moody...
Chapter 12 - You get the point...

In short, this book is terrifyingly depressing. I didn't realise that my life of mis-adventure, disaster, near death experiences and injury emotional and physical constituted a funny story. I must put my own amusing life story to paper. Hell, I'm crap at sports, maybe I just didn't stick at it enough. Remember that girl who turned me down in Grade 12 - what a hilarious story! Sure proved her wrong! Yep, it'll sell a million copies.

Then maybe I can be friends with Tom Moody and wear a glove on my head.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jungs Programme Notes #1 - Falkirk vs Rangers 21/11/1987


Kaidye
Originally uploaded by JungsPN

Above in the picture is my first ever unconventional crush, the lady wrestler Leilani Kai (as we will explore, she was far from the last unconventional crush I have had) who's obvious villainary and the hot way she used to wear her leotard and sexy boots and stomp on the throat of a hapless jobber were always a treat. Anyway, it was all quite sweet and innocent, and since I was 9 or 10, there wasn't much to our relationship. It was all very one sided and she certainly didn't know about me, or return my calls.

Heartbreaker.

Anyway, it's not like we could have gone anywhere in 1980s Scotland that would have attracted Ms Kais attention. The Irvine Magnum? The Kilmarnock mall? Some rapidly declining mining towns destroyed by Margaret Thatcher? But hang on...this football programme is telling me...Think Falkirk! In fact, it's telling me it no fewer than 4 times. When I think Falkirk, I think wasn't that the place I nearly got beat up by not only Falkirk fans, but also Peter Godfrey (more on that later) when I went there to see St Mirren play? If thinking Falkirk inspires a Jung like childhood reaction, it's only the sensation of running for my life.

The programme for Falkirks home game against Rangers in late 1987 is pretty unremarkable. It's probably notable mostly for the fact that it is from 1987, the season after Graeme Souness and David Murray began bringing money into the Scottish game. Rangers have Chris Woods, Falkirk have Crawford Baptie. Full of adverts, it's probably saved by the Think Falkirk campaign, which is underpinned by 56 companies. I like the town spirit in the programme, not just the rallying cry to think Falkirk, but the number of local restaurants and bars which proudly proclaim we're here, we're Falkirk, get used to it! Coasters Arena with it's fantastic video lounge, the new Colonial Bar with it's collection of strong spirits, and the Whiteside hotel, where Mr and Mrs J McIntosh make you very welcome (swingers I heard). All of which certainly make you think Falkirk. However, I must admit that I did kind of admire the fact that this was one of the last football programmes I own that has some community spirit in it. Even with the swingers.

I mean, last time, and this was only a few weeks ago, I was in my home town of Irvine, everyone just kept saying "why whid ye want tae live here? It's shite!" - and that was just the slightly flirtatious elderly librarian. No one seemed to want to be there, and if anyone was thinking Irvine, it was just to get the road out. I was pretty unhappy with this, since I kind of like the old place. Sure, there's some neds, but hey, there's neds in Hobarts. They work security at Syrup nightclub. As an experiment, and tribute to the community spirit of Bill Hughes, president of the Think Falkirk campaign, I'm going to spend tomorrow thinking of Falkirk, and for that, we can thank the humble football programme, rotting, yellow and 10p in Kollectables in the Trongate in Glasgow.

I think Ms Kai and I are going to be very happy together in Falkirk. She just doesn't know it yet...

The awkward first post

Ah, a new blog, I bet everyone is thrilled. This will be the awkward stage, the stage of self doubt and wondering why no one is commenting. Anyway, the point of this blog, is to basically look around my room, Hobart, and surrounding areas, and find things to write about. Most importantly, I'll be looking at my big pile of football programmes, and making some social comments on the contents. Yes, riveting like I said.

What is annoying me is our local radio has recently adopted a Perez Hilton segment. Yes, it is that bad, although what is annoying me is he calls himself, quote, the gossip gangster. Now, I admit I am amazingly white and not familiar with gangsters - but I can't imagine drive by Reese Witherspoon updates. I don't think Underbelly would have been very interesting if instead of busting some caps, they busted out some Lindsay Lohan updates.

Yes, he is worlds most loathable human being. But at least, having made this startling point, I've got over first post anxiety. Onwards and upwards...

Michael