Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Winners of the most un-fun Christmas cards of the year

Oh alright then, 'Seasons Greetings' cards, to cover all bases in a broad, fair-minded PC way. Regretfully the winner of this year's most unfestive, dull-as-Days-of-Our-Lives, God Awful greeting cards goes to ...................... my employer. Sigh, say it ain't so.

As some of you may know, I work for one of the three universities here in good old Adelaide town, South Australia. No, not even Bono from U2 - who was here on tour a couple of nights ago - could quite recall that he'd been here before in 1993, even when pressed by our desperately over-eager local yokel journos.

Despite our wee city's propensity to try and jump up and down in front of Sydney, Melbourne and even Brisbane, squeaking, "Look at me, look at me! I'm a city too! I'm groovy, cosmopolitan, have great weather and sh**loads of cultural stuff - come and try one of our pie floaters*** in the dodgy old caravan parked out the front of the casino - culture, culture culture," we deservedly tend to get shoved aside rather rudely and ignored. The black skivvies from Melbourne stride off to find a decent espresso; the Sydney-siders stand tippee-toed on the top of their block of flats' TV aerials to glimpse the harbour bridge and Brisbane dwellers, um, enthusiastically riverdance on cane toads and inhale XXXX cans.

To counter this utter lack of attention, our uni tends to be a bit of a try-hard as well. We ain't the dignified, ancient, ivy-covered historical monolith that the yuppies attend in their RM Williams' boots and brand new VW golfs and nor are we the other 1970s butt-ugly one bravely clinging to a windswept mountain like a brave zit on the arse of the suburbs. Instead we're like Courtney Love: scattered all over the place with a regular urge to flash ourselves about and overdo things a bit.

That said, we are known for our fine arts - especially design, media, visual arts and marketing. Every year, our Marketing Maharajahs issue an official greeting card design that grand poobahs like my boss, Queen Bee, are required (ie, must or will have their ARC funding slashed by 70% and have to shag strangers in bus stops for their annual stationery allocation) to sign and send off to anyone they deem active enough in conjunction with university academia to receive one. Poor sods.

You think I'm exaggerating? Well, you would have to stand in the One Million Long Queue of MillyMoo, if you did. However, here we have Exhibit A: the lamps. Add a poncy quote and voila - the front of a card that's about as exciting as a beige bathroom tile! Come to think of it, getting 'Here's to an even better 2007, signed Queen B' written in flourish of fountain ink on the back of a tile would be infinitely more interesting sitting on the mantel than this visual equivalent of cold porridge....

Item B. Hmmm, what is the designer trying to say with this aspirational classic? There's plenty of seats in our social work lectures? Fart and you fart alone? Nothing clears a room like our security guards wearing stockings over their heads and speaking arabic?

NB - (read the quotation for this one) - get out there and into action, and then fail your course because of lack of attendance and crappy essays...?

Item C, on the final, in-bred third hand, is meant to instil in us a kind of awe about the dazzling possibilities in modern design. Instead all it reminds me of is Abba's 1979 album 'Voulez Vous'. (Go and dig it out; you'll get the idea). If I was forced to live in a place like this, I'd want to use the balcony to enhance my funky lifestyle.... as a spring board over the edge

*** Pie floater - SA's dubious claim to an authentic local meal - a factory-made meat pie, plopped upside down in a shallow bowl of pea soup (the creamed, mooshy, infected snot kind) and served with a contemptuous dollop of tomato sauce. The only locals brave or stupid enough to eat this are either drunker than Oliver Reed at a wine tasting or lost all their life savings at the casino and have absolutely nothing left to live for.

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