Friday, September 29, 2006

Revenge of the Real World Dwellers

Ah Paris. In this picture, she obviously thinks (perhaps that last word is a tad optimistic) that it's warm enough for a tank top and bare arms, yet her feet are encased in what appears to be the yankee version of an esky. Why?

She's either going to be freezing up top and go all 'nipply' on us (being the delicately shy young petal that she is I'm sure that that's not the look she was going for) or her feet (which rival Ronald McDonald's for length) are going to be sweating heavier than a Weight Watcher's Reject at a pie-eating contest.

What does Madonna put behind her ears to attact men?
Well, it used to be her ankles and sadly, given her recent attachment to leotards, is still is.

When-oh-when is she going to stop working, stay at home with her kiddly winks and start spending some of her mega millions on something other than the latest techniques for stretching her face into a scary cartoon?

Heaven help us if she's still at it at 57 or 67 - draping herself around a pole with the ends of her mouth joining up at the back of her head, make up courtesy of Pollyfilla and body thanks to pensioner pilates....

I just don't get the fuss about Kate Moss's 'beauty'. She sure as hell ain't winning any awards for being Mother of the Year, 'Most Likely To Select a Suitable Life Partner' or for having the best happy-go-lucky, easy-breezy sense of humour.

Please go home, STICK and take that stupid flattened car-tyre for a belt off, send the nanny packing and learn how to eat something with your kid. If you can cope with all of that without resorting to numbing your nostrils, then try working for a charity other than the rehabilitation of pathetic pissy little rock stars, OK?

But no, like a blowfly on a day-old burger, she goes back to the source of all evil and don't they both look so healthy for it?

Why stay home being a mother or - god forbid - eating and wearing sensible clothes - when you can flit off to Dublin for a few days with this great catch, Mr Pharmaceutical Failure 2006...

What on earth does she see in him apart from her very own dial-a-derelict?

This pic wins the prize for total inappropriateness and squirm-inducing discomfort. Cindy Crawford, another Mental Giant known for having facial surgery at 29, has organised this photo of her child, Presley, or Colonel Sanders or Abe Lincoln or whomever the poor little bugger is.

The 'come and get it' look, the 'fake' (please god, let it be fake) slapper tatt patch on the lower back, the white hipsters and the topless pose all combine in a tacit nod to kiddie porn that frightens me more than Kate Moss forgetting the name of her own offspring.

Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber should have their foreheads forcibly tattoeed with: "We are complete exploitative, retarded and unfit Parental Pond Slime and you have permission to come and slap us any time you like"

This overly varnished stick of beef jerky is apparently Rachel Zoe, stylist to the over-paid, over-thin and underly-talented Hollywood starlets who regard vodka and cigarette smoke as the two only - and most important - food groups.

When Lindsay Lohan's fifteen minutes are up, Rachel will no doubt be able to find herself alternative employment as Crack-o-rexia Barbie or use her sternum as the paid entertainment during her xylophone solo at Corey Haim's G-lister BBQ night.

The most positive thing we can say is that she isn't a slave to botox....?

Time to finish with an Australian one - Rachel McLeod wife of dazzling little AFL diamond Andrew, and Peter Hellier, posing as, I dunno, a Shane Warne/Warwick Capper mutant inbred from Tassie.

I'll give Rachel a couple of points for adding some humour to what is normally a very dull evening (the Brownlow vote count has all the excitement of picking the pubes out of the shower drain), wearing her husband's number on her back. However I hope she actually ate something that night or Andrew might lose an eye if he tried for a session of horizontal folk dancing.

Peter Hellier, unfortunately, is even less attractive in real life than in the picture here, and about as funny as cot death. He however thinks he's hilarious which makes me want to grab his big fat Elmer Fudd Face and shove it up Kate Moss's bony little arse... Maybe one day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Suffer the little children....

....who are given shocker names by their stupid, insensitive and highly impractical parents.

Yes, we all know the famous names, but I'll put in a few to nudge your flabby grey matter:
David's son Zowie Bowie; Paul Yates' kids Fifi Trixibelle, Pixie, Peaches Honeyblossum, Heavenly Hirani Tigerlily; Frank Zappa's poor little mites Dweezil and Moon Unit; Jason Lee (Earl, how could you?) poor little bastard - Pilot Inspektor; Mark Bolan's ego-defying sprog called Rolan Bolan; Bono's son Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q; Jamie Oliver's girls' Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo; and Nicolas Cage (why doesn't this surprise me) choosing Kal-El for his son's name. Poor wee fella, he's going to spend his entire life taking reservations for a middle-eastern airline.

Perhaps we can forgive the above over-paid, over-medicated, over-fawned celebrities due to their lifestyles of 'always yes, never no' and a society that encourages shallow success stories to permanently take residence up their own rectums. But what of the parents who supposedly live in 'normal' society?

Who was the mental mammoth who decided that Adolf, Idi and Gilligan would make good names for their brand new baby boys? And those regressive retards who decide to select 'a good old name' like Eunice, Dulcie or Hildegarde for their daughters?

Sapphire's school is full of clueless little kids (the sentence could end right there) who clearly have bogans for parents. No, it's not their enforced mullets, boy earrings by age five or only knowing to eat food directly from an oily paper bag, it is always the names that give away their pathetic parentage. We have a Hendrix, a couple of Axls, a Brock or three, Clint, Cher, Kylee, Dannee, Bylynda and Kadee. Their folks are just setting them up for a life in Salisbury with a 25 year old commodore on blocks in the front yard of their housing trust unit and an old couch littered with West End bottles on the verandah. Jaidyn and Schapelle will be parents by the time they're eighteen; he'll bugger off by nineteen and she'll go on to make five other babies with five other 'uncles' - Nathan, Tyson, Mundine, Kostya and Darryl.

I used to play tennis with a lovely girl called Valerie. She married fairly young - at age eighteen in 1988 and a couple of years later gave birth to a daughter, called Tuppence. Our small town was still recovering from the puzzlement and hilarity of that one when she had a son three years later, called Kevin. Still, it's heartening to know that she never ended up marrying her first high school boyfriend, Peter Nuss. I'm sure he's now in therapy, trying to get over the ridicule he always earned during roll call when the teachers only read out your first initial and then your surname.

Despite the above mockery, there were some odd names that seemed normal in our town; the kind of names that had always lived there, were from respectable families and that no-one ever thought to raise an eyebrow over. The Virgin family were not relatives of Richard Branson and their teenage daughters seemed to escape any torment. The same went for the Sidebottom household, my mother's workmate Fern Raintree (I kid you not), twins Austin and Mercedes (their father drove a bus) and brothers Teddy, Elvis and Jesus. The last three were all rather good looking which probably distracted the girls from anything other than the cut of their Levi californians...

It is comforting to note that old, cannon-fodder monikers such as Richard, Dick, Randy, Pansy, Fanny, Gaylord, Gay, Chuck and Faith have mostly been avoided these days. Despite this advance there always seems to be a new wave of parental stupidity to take its place, or place names to be precise. Warwick Capper, a retired footballer whose shorts cut off the circulation to his synapses named his daughter Indianna, yet admits to never having visited the place. There are also a few Jordans, Indias and Dakotas naively working their way through primary school that only highlights the lack of pride we Aussies have in using our own mighty country to select a name that singles our wonder child out from the rest.

How about Myponga? Wagga Wagga? Dead Creek? Halls Gap? Murray River? Or consider honouring our unique flora - Bottle Brush, Pig Face, Turkey Bush and Spinifex. Perhaps our unique fauna should be considered - Quokka, Fat Tailed Dunnart or Hairy Nosed Wombat. Other sense-challenged parents-to-be could consider moving away from naming their children after actors (Arnie, Cary, Cooper etc) or cars (Holden, Benz, Morris) and look at foods: surely Tim Tam, Dim Sim, Chiko, Burger Ring or Lamington are worth a burl? If I had a second child, I'd seriously consider one of my own favourite digestibles - KitKat, Twistie, FUIC, Feel Good or Pepper Pasty With Sauce. Just as long as it doesn't rhyme with 'poo' or 'willy' or form an unfortunate acronym....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gross Girlie

My sister-in-law, Sonia has two sons, aged five and three. She plucks out her grey hairs on a daily basis and, at the age of thirty five, has started drinking coffee for the first time in her life and knows more about knights and jousting that she'd honestly care to. She is always cheerful and always tired and, last year, made the decision (with her hubby, my little brother, Thumb) to not try for a third baby.

Thumb told her, "Look Sonia, you are already tired and worn out from having two boys. I know you'd like a little girl, but you might end up with another boy and end up on intravenous espresso, bald and curled up in a foetal position, muttering something about how you wished you stayed on as an exchange student in Canada and reversed your decision about joining the moose herd." Unusually wise words for Thumb, but Sonia needed more convincing. Several glases of wine later she confided that, "Oh I could change Thumb's mind just by wearing some lingerie and staying awake." That may have been true (even thought a mental image of what exactly got my brother, er 'interested' wasn't top of my day-dreaming list), but she did agree with him that two energetic boys were enough.

It was then that my daughter Sapphire got given a treasure trove of little girl delights from her Auntie. Blue satin flowergirl frocks, old high school taffeta ball gowns, bridesmaid sheaths, lace shawls, floral dresses and some delicate little china ornaments. Sonia had been saving them for her own little girl, now relegated to the occasional, "What if..." when young Matthew or Jack had chopped the heads off her sunflowers or given Perky the guinea pig heart failure.

Sonia's wistfulness was Sapphire's wish fulfilment - a seemingly endless supply of the most feminine outfits to try on and wear around the house as she pleased. Well, for a week at least.

You see, Sonia's imaginings that a daughter would fill the girlie gap in her blokey boys' world were a little optimistic. Whilst Sapphire can enjoy playing dress-ups and stomping around in my little-worn stilettos, she tends to be much more interested in what boys like to do.

Stuff like Farting. Doing Farts, laughing at Farts, pretending to Fart, smelling her own Farts and blaming her mother for doing those Farts. She has a laugh that turns into a tickling, infectious little giggle when she's up to evil instead of good and Farts bring this out in her often. Never at school mind you - she seems to have the presence of mind to "squeeze them back up" (her words) but loves to "Let them go" when she's at home, regardless of what family, friends or visitors might be present. She's the seventy year old senior citizen in a seven year old body who believes that anything goes - bodily function-wise - when you're in the privacy of your own home.

She skipped into the lounge room the other day, dressed in a pale blue number that reminded me of Laura Ingalls on 'Little House on the Prairie', singing to herself and trying a ribbon around our orange Dogadoo's neck. It was a pretty scene and one of those rare times that you get to quietly observe seeing your child at play, un-self-conscious and utterly innocent. Until BBbbbuuuuuurrrrrrrppppp! It was a real rattler, one that normally only three cans of beer or a shaken up bottle of coke could produce. She laughed so hard at the result she fell onto the floor, her evil giggle emerging and her brain on high alert for any other 'rudey' activity she could get away with.

This was my timely hint to get the hell out of the room because once she starts tooting, it's time to take a deep breath and leave her to it. She may have the face of peaches and cream and a willowy figure, but it is clearly arranged internally like Dr Who's tardis - much bigger on the inside with a sophisticated, state-of-the-art system to produce mustard gas that would have felled many thousands on the Somme.

Another favourite has been her container of green slime. This gloop was around when I was a kid, packaged in a plastic trash can, costing $4. I had begged my mother to buy me some, but, like the requests for a trampoline, swimming pool, ABBA concert ticket and a date with Storm Boy, she refused. Sapphire, on the other hand, tends to get the stuff that I craved - albeit Greg Rowe now lives in Canada and Agnetha selfishly refuses to attend any Abba reunions. "Mwah hah hah hah haaaaah" she cackles to herself in glee and affixes it to my bedside table, giving me a good fright when I lean over to reach for a tissue and instead have my hand sucked into what appears to be a booger bog. Her two friends Cameron and Brandon (9 and 7) are very impressed at her ability to sneeze and ostentatiously fling out the slime from the area of her nostrils. "GROSS, Sapphire. Cool though!"

Sometimes, if she's not skipping, reading, patting Dogadoo or farting, she can be found in her room, playing with her Barbies. Changing their outfits more than twice quickly becomes boring, which I can understand well enough - mine had their hair cut off, panda eyes drawn on in texta and were roped to tree branches - so her mind turns to more tomboyish methods. I enter the room: "Hey Sapph, are you thirsty, do you want me to--- Oh, very nice, that's a look that'll sweep the world. Barbie's got her knickers on her head and the Bratz bimbo is doing a pressed ham against the dolls' house window.... What a proud mother I am."

"Mwah hah hah hah haaaah," she cackles, lost in her own world of Benny Hill-style humour, the joy of smelling her own butt blasts and in humiliating her Barbies. More power to her.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One good turn deserves another, surely?

Yesterday I was in the uni's city campus with Pip and Helen finding out vital information on how to write the perfect ARC discovery grant application (namely: take one year off to complete the paperwork or shag an examiner). After the two hours ended, my head was pounding, so I said I'd go outside for some fresh air whilst they hung around to ask the Professor for some more details (Shag who? When? How many times?)

The air on the fifth-floor foyer overlooking the indoor atrium wasn't much fresher, unless you consider sneaker feet, old chewing gum and morning breath to be particularly aromatic. As I slurped from the water fountain, one of the saddest sounds in nature reached my ears. Yes, that of a trapped butterfly, smacking its tiny little forehead over and over on the windowpane, desperately trying to get to freedom outside.

I don't mind when blow flies do it because they tend to break up the monotony by dive bombing one of my eyes every now and then and they're ugly and annoying (kind of like Adam Sandler), but a butterfly is, well, pitiful. This black and orange beauty needed saving, brother. As gently as my man-hands and long, ET-phone-home fingers could, they slowly closed around the distressed insect, trapping it. "Don't worry little one," I cooed, knowing I sounded like a looney but who gave a crap - I was surrounded by doctors and professors who were experts in their tiny intellectual fields but unable to tie their own shoelaces.

Walking towards the sliding door, I opened my hands in an exaggerated, 'The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music' gesture, and the butterfly buggered off as quickly as it could. I sauntered back inside, mentally patting myself on the back for being such a caring environmentalist willing to put my money where my mouth was. No, ,make that my hands where my mouth was, or was it my brain where my hands were, or...

Anyhow, my ego was stoked and fit to burst. As was my bladder I then realised. There were no loos immediately apparent, other than the disabled facility directly outside the lecture theatre door. I snuck in and locked the door, hoping that no dead-keen wheelie would have the time to huff their chair up five flights of stairs before I'd finished.

Creak.... "Ooop, sorry!"

"JESUS, I'm in HERE!"
Oh. My. God. Someone had opened the toilet door and I was directly in their full view, pants around my knees and blowing my nose loudly into some scrunched up toilet paper. What the hell happened to the concept of one good turn deserves at least three minutes of alone time in the bog?

Thankfully, the door opener had disappeared, no doubt shocked to the core at seeing me in there, fat fluoro arse cheeks and white cottage cheese thighs on proud display. As I waited for the red flush of embarrassment in my face to fade, I made a job of rummaging through my backpack looking for the apple I'd flung in there that morning. Lana wandered out, sharing a greeting. She was in the middle of telling me about the trials and tribulations of grant applications and I nodded wisely, chewing apple and pretending I knew just what the hell she was talking about. "I mean the literature review alone took me four months to compile MillyMoo, and ---- what's wrong with you?

Patoooey! I took one look into my apple and saw the healthy snacker's nightmare - a brown hole and only half the worm. "Yuck!" Lana hastily muttered, "Oh, OK, I'd better get back to the campus," and tottered down the stairs increasing her momentum in her desperation to be rid of me so that she nearly smacked into the exit doors on her way out.

Helen and Pip emerged and I decided to brag about the butterfly and leave out the butt-bearing and apple worm incidents. Where was the good turn I was due for saving the boodiful butterfly? Maybe I'd check my lotto ticket at the newsagent or see if I could slip down a KitKat without my metabolism noticing.

Several hours later, I was hooning down the Magill hill on my new bike, wondering why it took me twenty six years to start riding again. I smiled at a fellow cycler, feeling part of a secret bikey brotherhood, a group that were fit, saving petrol and being responsible. I was a person who--- oh for a faceful of wombats' scat---swallowed a fly. No point in spitting it out, it was too far gone for that.

Oh well that was probably my good turn. A tiny bit of protein and one less blowie around to annoy me. *Sigh*

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Given the Clap

One of my workmates is a budding movie director in addition to her 'day job' as a well-known researcher and a "good old stick", to borrow a phrase from my long-gone Grandma.

She is currently working with a group of energetic film-makers - mostly 'subsidised' through jobs at video rental stores, office work and uni - to put in an entry to Jon Polson's (the guy who snogged Russell Crowe in 'the Sum of Us') baby, TropFest, the short film competition held in Sydney in January each year.

The unforeseen hitch for Helen was not in finding established actors who were able to remove their heads from their arses, nor in crew being willing to toil for a cup of tea and a Tim Tam. Instead it was finding a seven year old boy and a five year old girl to play the children of said non-arse-inward-actor duo. Local casting agencies tended to produce kids that were too Peter Allen/Jon Benet Ramsay in their flashiness, or were unwilling to remove themselves from the back of their mothers' skirts.

Another workmate, Pip, had a son who was eight. Surely he could pass for seven? Yes, but he made it clear that he'd rather suck a bowlful of bird turds than stand in front of a camera trying to act. Five year old girls - playing the sister - were rarer than chicken lips. "Hey, why don't I bring Sapphire in after work to meet you," I suggested, overhearing Helen's laments to Sigrid, budding virtuoso guitarist and current PhD student. "Sure she's the tallest in her class of seven year olds, but hey, couldn't she be from a family of basketballers or squat behind the kitchen bench?"

Luckily for Sapphire, Helen agreed. The script was hastily amended to incorporate a nine year old boy (found via the son of a now-retired child actress) and our blue eyed bombshell. The following evening we all met at Helen's place so that Sapphire and Callan could check out their celluloid parents, a rather becoming blonde couple, Nick and Naomi. A few scenes were walked through and the faint whisper of 'Local film debutante offered highest Hollywood contract in history' was forming dangerously in my mind. I wasn't going to be a Terry Shields, Ms Culkin or Cokehead Lohan, but would be prepared to negotiate a contract for less than 20M if the film was going to be of artistic value or gross more than $150 mill.....

Two weeks later, and it was all systems go. It was no longer just Helen, Ben with the video camera and the four actors: Sigrid was catering (hey, even music directors have to eat); Ben was assistant director (or AD, as film lingo goes); Adam Carter the producer (not of the boy band, this Adam was much darker, hairier and, it must be said, gayer); Gigi the costumer and continuity expert; Tom the strong-armed boom operator, a shy guy on lighting and Zane the cameraman.

My heart - and swirling stomach - went out to Sapphire, sitting nervously in the make-up chair, pretending to be cool in front of her comprade Callan. Would she listen to Helen and do what she was told? Would she be overtaken by An Attack Of The Shys? Would she be able to go an entire day without loudly farting and giggling with pride?

Alas, my opportunities for anxiety and anticipation were cut short. The movie needed a clapper loader. Me, the Slapper With the Clapper, or "Give MillyMoo the Clap", as Love Chunks chortled to everyone. I even had to rehearse announcing the scene, shot and take and boy was I nervous about it - sometimes it took several seconds until my hands stopped shaking and Zane could actually see the clapperboard on his viewfinder.

In hindsight, Helen was a very smart - and sneaky - old stick. The best job to give someone prone to chattering, goofing off and distracting everyone else was to ensure that they had to be present for every single damn shot setting, scene and take. The actors could swan off whenever they weren't needed, but I had to stay there, spitting on my finger and smearing off 'take one' in order to laboriously write 'take two' dark enough in white chalk.

By lunchtime, my body was exhausted from the requirement for constant vigilance and seriousness (especially on the weekend) and I fully intended on giving The Clap to my beloved. Unfortunately, the producer had to leave after lunch, so LC was asked to be the Logger. This was even more nitpicky than the clapper. He had to hold a clipboard and write down the time in minutes and seconds for each scene both in film and for the sound recordist. Our Sapphire spent most of the day outside playing tamagotchis and chasey with Callan whilst we were inside feeling just as frustrated with the fading light outside and the difficulty in hiding the sound recordist successfully behind the sofa.

Any fears we had that Sapphire's head would swell up to Alec Baldwin-sized, undeserved proportions were needless. In her eyes, the 'stars' of the show were the cameraman and the light guy. Each 20 second scene took twenty minutes for them to set up to their satisfaction before any measly actor was needed. Sapph delivered her line and was out the door and into the biscuits before the Slapper or the Logger had written their first words down.

Filming wrapped up at dinner time. We quickly said our farewells, noticing that our wee one was starting to run out of petrol and would either start crying or fighting. An hour or so later she sat in the bath, crying her eyes out. I rushed in, "What's the matter love, are you OK?"
"Yes Mum," she sobbed. "I'm just so sad because I didn't want the movie to end. I still to see everyone again."

Awww. If it scores an entry to TropFest, try and keep us three away. If not, we'll have a copy of the DVD and the spare clapper to play with at home.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Becoming a dreaded drone

Ever since I started work as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graduate trainee in 1989, every workplace has had some kind of security card access for entry into the building. This common sense approach to preventing robberies or lunatics entering the building (ones not on the payroll at least) is commendable and was not worthy of much introspection on my part.

What I always refused to do, however, was to encase the entry card in a plastic sleeve and then wear it around my neck in a lanyard. For people with lives, a 'lanyard' is one of those ribbon string things that kids normally use to hang their tamagotchis from, and I sure as hell didn't want to be seen wearing one for the greater part of my waking hours.

You see, they made the wearer look as though they were trying to be important: all they needed was the white labcoat to complete the picture of being able to gain top-secret access into the underground nuclear bunker that was housing Elvis, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and the Tasmanian Devil. Instead, they reminded me of beings so unimportant that the ability to keep a card in their pocket or wallet was beyond them, as was using their hands to hold one. Lanyard wearers also tended to be the types that have hobbies that earn a polite "Oh," in response before quickly walking away/finding someone more interesting to talk to during the first aid course's morning tea break. "Oh, so you make your own toothpaste?" "Oh, a shrine to the group Supertramp?", or "Oh, I wondered why you were rhythmically slapping your head with the Windows95 User Manual..."

On the other hand, if the Lanyard Loser in question wasn't sad, certifiable or just odd, they were deeply, deeply committed to their work. Some of those entry cards were no longer white and rectangular but a grotty brown oval with the plastic covering curling up at the corners revealing ancient, blobby grey adhesive stains. The first impression given off by the wearer would then naturally lead to the assumption that a) you weren't going to shake their hand; b) they had worked here since saving up their first pay cheque for that groovy new BETA video recorder; and c) no longer had wives or houses to go home to. "Hey MillyMoo, how come you've declined the meeting I've scheduled for 7am on Monday? What about if I make it 5.15pm this Friday instead?" "Aw come on, we need you to make up the final team member in the Touch Rugby/Volleyball/HopScotch Thursday Lunchtime Final!"

In spite of my derision and decision, I finally decided to get a lanyard today. Campus Services rang for the final time to express their annoyance at having my entry card being handed in more regularly than a sex-education library book. I had left it in the toilets, the mailroom, the coffee shop, the deli, the chocolate vending machine, the centre's kitchen, the carpark, FoodLand, the chemist's and 'Price Slashers Discount Variety Store.' One more time and the university would consider revoking my access and leaving me to rely on the punctuality of others to let me in.

That situation would definitely not do. Hanging my head in shame, I shuffled into the uni bookshop, pointed reluctantly to the one hanging behind Debbie the cashier and muttered, "One of those please." Moments later I exited the store with my posture slumped badly enough for me to get far-too-close-a-look at my navel: the damn lanyard was weighing me down with the sheer mass of dagginess and conformity. All I needed now was to go the whole hog and get myself a pair of SuperSoft diana ferrari slip-ons, knee-high stockings and a cable-knit cardi.

Maybe tomorrow. I won't have time to shop after watering the pot plants, placing the fortnightly stationery order and counting the plastic document holders...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shake Your Money Maker

Calm down, regular reader and a hearty "Rack Off" to any unfulfilled virgins/perves out there - this article is not about PORN!

Well, sort of not. The Melbourne Age reports that sex and pornography have now been thrashed and dominated (see what I did there - inserted some subtle S&M descriptors?) by business and e-commerce as the most popular internet search topics.

In their mid-90s heyday, sex-related topics accounted for the largest slice of the web searching pie, but that figure has shrunk to a few unsexy crumbs, Queensland University of Technology's Professor Amanda Spinks told a gaggle of nerdy reporters a few days ago.

"Come and get me baby....I'm all yours. Click *here*"

Her research, in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University analysed up to 30 million search sessions from the most commonly-used search engines and focused predominantly on web searching in the US and Europe (where the majority of the world's geeks reside).

Prof Spinks said there were multiple reasons behind the fall of sex-related topics from the top spot. "It could be the favourites are bookmarked or an overwhelming increase in people looking for information," Prof Spinks said. "More women are searching the web. Back in the 90s, it was probably young male geeks, but now the demographics are changing with mums and dads, kids, grandmas and business people all searching the web......The general population is searching now compared to the male set in the 90s."

Well isn't that interesting? Are we all Boobs and Bummed out and porkin' our piggy banks instead? Checking our share portfolio instead of Nymphos on their

Spinksy-babes has a point about more than mere geeks being online these days. Hell, even my parents are dipping their toes into cyberspace, looking up Grey Nomads In; Arthritis Overload and Making The Most Of the $9.95 Smorgasbord. My darling seven year old Sapphire is currently addicted to, and Planet Cook. However, surely it is not just the sole domain of the geeks to access porn?

Who didn't get emailed those website links to fetish sites that featured women in stilettos standing on men's delicate squishy bits, or the poor over-pierced willy that looked more like a colander than an organ capable of providing great pleasure. Like dry chocolate chip muffins, you can only have so much before it starts to get boring. How many more fat chicks' wobbly bits did we need to see or blokes with too much gymnastic ability and free time on their hands?

The reduction can also be explained by much tougher work email restrictions and the steady increase in staff being marched off the premises for leaving their browser on instead of checking that their company's stationery account had been paid. Fewer and fewer nudey rudey jokey pictures were being sent around due to the fear of job losses and I didn't exactly hear a cry of outrage about that particular loss. If anything, most of us breathed a sigh of relief that we no longer had to take a furtive glance over our shoulders before opening the 'Hey, Open this, it's hilarious!' email from our unemployed third cousin.

As the nineties faded into the Vanilla Ice/My Bodyguard/Fitted bodysuit mists of time, our interests changed from the fleshy to the financial. Telstra sale number one and number two, online banking, share portfolios, lunchtime trading, website cash competitions and mortgage sales dominated our hearts and our wallets. More interest was shown in Brad Pitt's $20M paychecks than his abs and pecs.

And what of web searches in the future, in the teens of the twenty first century? It's sure to be stuff like:
  • Peas Cause Cancer (fingers crossed!)
  • Nineties Grunge Music and Fashion is Back!
  • George W Bush donates brain to science - they politely refuse the offer
  • Fresh water - on sale at only four times the price of petrol
  • Three time Oscar winner Fabio, now voted Governor of Arkansas
  • Global Warming a boon for bikini sales
  • Paris Hilton's fourth vaginal reconstruction declared a success: big surge seen in female sideburn sales
  • Where are they now? This week - Saddam Hussein.
  • Next week - Osama Bin Laden

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Where are my car keys, fridge magnets and that one mouldy orange?

I've just had a truly hideous dream, a real frightener. I found myself living in the Vogue-Home-Interior-Design-InsideOut-WallPaper-Beautiful-Moda feature house, all set out in its pristine, ready for Mr Photographer, glory. How do real people actually live in these places?

My day started in my bedroom, just after sunrise. It was a pretty stressful experience waking up to that stark modern environment. Lord knows where my ugg boots and dressing gown were hiding, or my stack of old magazines and hand lotion. Not to mention the old chair with my 'not quite ready for the laundry' clothes draped all over it. My ratty, 'Dire Straits Brothers in Arms Tour 1985-1986' t-shirt/pyjamas didn't exactly suit the decor either.

My confusion increased when I entered my bathroom, trying to find out just where the hell the taps were in order to empty my bladder, wash my hands and have a shower. Perhaps it was just as well that the water pipes couldn't be found because towels were obviously too last year to display or use and it was impossible to find any Mega Saver Pump Packs of Sorbolene Liquid Soap anywhere. I realised that I'd just have to make sure I didn't lift my BO-ridden arms up above my body or comb my oily hair too flat.

Well, set Crazy Kevin's Lubricated Goat Aflame! What kind of geometric joke was this? How the hell was any sane human being supposed to cope with such a retina-shattering design before their first coffee? Speaking of which, where the hell did all of the appliances go? The alphabet fridge magnets? The fruit bowl with the single pongy orange, the black banana and wizened avocado? Where was the stack of unpaid bills, car keys and rubber bands? More importantly, how come the bench tops didn't have a few stray rice grains or some toast crumbs, or, at the very least, one dog crunchie wedged in between the cupboard and the floor? Perhaps I was a laboratory rat being filmed for some new reality show, 'Let's put the Duh Back Into Design....??

Surely the lounge would be a place to escape and get a bit of rest and relaxation. Ghee whillikers - who stole the four remote controls I needed to turn on the TV, program the VCR, switch over to DVD and fiddle with the aerial? The TV guide was nowhere to be seen either and whoever racked off with my knitting bag or Dogadoo's beanbag was just begging for a hiding. My spirits were indeed starting to sag, so I looked around for a comfy chair.

I said COMFY, not NUTTY! Why on earth would I buy (or sit) in a clay chair squeezed through an overgrown pasta press? I fretted that it leave a dusty orange smear on my arse when I got up to leave the house for oh, say a job interview or television appearance. Oh well, maybe it was the one you offered the pushier kinds of Jehovah's Witnesses or the council rates guy with the clipboard.

This one was even worse! Lord help me if I pulled up to the kitchen counter in this thing - one drink and I'd be on the floor, in danger of being removed by the interior design stylist responsible for the layout. Hang on, I tried to tell myself - that's not a chair, it's just a shoe horn for really big basketball players. ....Isn't it?

This dream was definitely NOT working out too well. Hmmmmm, *sigh*....well, it was about now that I could feel the beginnings of a migraine starting up and these weren't the doctor's chairs I'd be wanting to sit in.

Nah, give me my own place anytime. What it's got in cracks, wonky walls, dodgy 1980s coloured walls, brass bathroom taps and lack of storage it makes up for with character, age, solidity, soundproofness, warmth in winter and coolness in summer. The walls ring with the sound of Sapphire's singing, chattering and playing; Dogadoo enhances the garden by sunning herself on the lawn; and the kitchen stars with the most lovingly-created and delectable dishes cooked by Love Chunks. I'm not sure what enhancements I add to the home - a regular laundry service and an irregular, resentful weeding regime topped a whole new layer of unnecessary stress is my guess - but, after every single holiday, we three always walk in the door and say, "Gee it's good to be home."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Happy, Sad; Happy, Sad; Happy....Sad

After a week of migraines, codeine headaches, stomach aches and general listnessness it was sheer joy to hear the alarm ringing at 6.00am and actually want to leap out of bed and take my lovely little Dogadoo (pictured) for a run.

As I was flinging off the doona cover, I noticed that Love Chunks' side of the bed was empty. Oh great, the first time in ages I get a decent night's rest and I'd obviously laid back like a log and snored like an elephant concussed with one. Oh dear, I felt so perky today yet also guilty that I'd given LC such a shocker of a night.

These feelings gradually turned to Happy Happy Happy ones again as I beheld my joyous little orange nugget (Dogadoo) hooning around the school oval, little triangle ears a-flappin, tail a waggin' and wet nose a-sniffin' the butts of her buddies.

The warm vibes continued later as LC handed me a hot Gaggia coffee, ala perfecto - ideal crema, piping hot frothy milk and a taste that Sid Starbuck would give his left arse cheek for. Brilliant stuff and just the Caffeine Kick up the Caboose required for a busy Thursday morning.

Sapphire and I walked to school together hand-in-hand, noticing the new pink blossoms on the plum trees and the broody magpies swooping on unsuspecting bike riders. The sun was out burning off the dew and producing a light blue sky only found here in South Oz. Life was pretty much perfect.

Until I walked into the classroom and Evelyn, Sapph's class teacher, handed me a bunched up note. "I know that this is typical seven year old behaviour, but I want to you have a chat with your daughter about it at home tonight. This is not something I want to see happening again."

Lordy - what the hell was it? Something that made me feel both ashamed yet perversely rather proud. She had scrawled (rather neatly, actually) a letter to Josh, the class bonehead who was rather painful at the best of times: 'Hey Josh, Selena dared to me to draw you in the nood, so here it is. From Ellie.' The nom-de-plume was a clever touch, but Sapph's drawing and writing skills pretty well identified her as the creative culprit right from the get-go.

Said portrait of Josh was compellingly life like, even if I (and hopefully, please God, Sapphire) haden't actually seen him in his birthday suit. She'd added the man boobs and enough detail in the genitalia to clearly point out that he'd been circumcised and tended to 'rest' on the left. Sure, adding the bright yellow pee, puddling around his feet (which had stinking symbols rising from them, surrounded by flies) wasn't too friendly but it was good. In an artistically accurate sense only, of course.

The paper was stuffed into my pocket for perusal later and a decision on how to discuss it with Sapphire at dinner time tonight. Do I say, "Hey that's a bit too rude for school, but what an eye you have for realistic detail?" Or do I go in hard with, "Don't you dare do that again, even if he did rub dog poo (true) on the back of your jumper the other day." The third option under consideration was to use the first option (chastise and compliment) and then ask her for her own advice: "Now, what would you do, Sapphire? Would you be happy if someone did a picture of the front of your bum?"

However, I used to hate the snivelling, rational do-gooder-ness of third option if my parents ever tried it on me (rarely, usually Dad's bath time thigh slap was behavioural incentive enough) or if I heard some hemp-wearing, mung bean-munching, new-age parent trying it on with their devil spawn. "Now Tristian, would you like it if --- no darling, it's not nice to play with matches ---- let's get back to your behaviour now, shall we --- put the rabbit down!"

Also, I remember my parents telling me that sometimes the most challenging part about being a responsible adult was being able to squash your laughter when trying to show a child what was right. Mum and Dad had to go inside for a good ten minutes before they emerged outside, wiping away tears and sternly telling me "You do NOT use permanent markers over your brother's face!" True story - the photo's in our album entitled 'MillyMoo's Art, 1971'). Or, "You'd better come back and finish being your brother's 'Slave For the Day'. After all, he did pay you twenty cents and you've buzzed off on your bike after only five minutes."

Not surprisingly, any more serious thought about how to deal with Sapphire's new visual method of revenge communication immediately disappeared when Sigrid, PhD student extraordinaire, arrived this morning with one of her famous, white chocolate and caramel French baked cheesecakes. Whoah man! Hideki, our newly-arrived Japanese scholar who considers a rice cracker 'a bit too sweet' had developed a tight perm by the end of his first mouthful. I, on the other hand, was on a blissful tastebud-trip to Tart Heaven and had already forgotten that it was day one of my 'no crap' diet....

Until now, when, as I sit here typing this, I realise that my stomach roll now resembles my very own built-in life preserver and almost hides the view of my feet. Bugger.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gagging for a Gaggia

Love Chunks got his birthday present a month early yesterday. It was the first time in many years that he actually thrown out a few hints as to what he wanted, so I grabbed the chance to find it, buy it and give it.

Normally he sighs and says, “Look, I really don’t need anything. You don’t have to get me anything because if I do need or want anything, I just go and get it when I want to.” Fair enough but could you really imagine not getting your beloved a gift on their one special day of the year and waving your finger in their disappointed face, “Oh but you said you didn’t want anything.” In order to avoid this pitiful blight on my personality, I’d always try to get him something I thought he’d like – CDs, DVDs, books, t-shirts. Not exactly riveting, but not exactly offensive either.

Sapphire bounced up to me and said, “Daddy told me that he wants a coffee machine for Fathers Day.” Well good on him because she had only given me about twelve hours’ notice for that gift to materialise, so he had to make do with a handmade tulip card from Sapphire and a book ‘South Australia’s Best Bush Walks’ that I’d hurriedly bought from the newsagent. That book is now sitting on top of all the other books I’ve given him over the past five years – all still book-marked on about page 27 in a higgledy-piggledy pile near the bed. ‘Bored of the Rings’, ‘Stories about Men’, ‘Touching the Void’, ‘The Chaser Annual 2005’, ‘100 Hypotheticals’ and ‘Of Mice and Men – Short Stories by John Steinbeck.’

The Day After Fathers Day I set to work, googling my little heart out in search of coffee machines. It wasn’t long before I spotted her – a cute shiny box of a Gaggia for half price. Still a bit expensive for our household, but too good an offer to refuse. Three clicks later and the Gorgeous Gaga was mine - bar a short ride in the Toll Express truck.

She arrived yesterday, all stainless steel sexiness and boxed up tighter than Paris Hilton’s untouched dictionary set. Gaga was too heavy to lug across the uni campus to my freebie car park, so I surreptitiously parked the beast under the Kaf’s loading zone, crossing my fingers that Trevor the Coke Guy wasn’t about to pull in. My mind was buzzing with ideas of how to smuggle her inside and find a suitable hiding spot for a month until Love Chunks turned the big Three Nine.

All those plans flew out the window when I picked up Sapphire from school. “What’s in the box, Mum?” “What’s a G-A-G-G-I-A? Oh I see a picture, it’s a cafĂ© coffee machine isn’t it? You’re getting it for Daddy!”
“Err yes sweetie, but we’ve got to pretend it’s not in the back seat now while we go and pick him up from work and then I’ll sneak it inside later on, OK”
“Yep Mum, you know I can keep a secret.”
Five minutes later, in front of the weather bureau: “Hey Dad, DON’T LOOK AT THE BOX NEXT TO ME, IT’S A COFFEE MACHINE FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY. Oh, whoops, sorry Mum.”
Ah it didn’t matter – LC’s beautiful blue eyes were glittering with pleasure…..

….until 7am this morning, when muttered swearing greeted me as I staggered blearily into the kitchen enroute to the shower. “Bloody complicated thing….I’m not sure where the hell this stupid egg cup thingy is supposed to go and what the $%#@ is this nozzle for – how the devil can it need four pipes for one pissing little cup of coffee, the &^%$er!” It was easier for me to smile brightly, give him a perky thumbs up and back out of the room – until I was clean, deodorised and dressed I was in no way prepared enough to assist.

A little time later, the kitchen sounded as though it was having a major phlegm attack: Gorrffff - Gorffffff - Gorffffff as LC gently coaxed out two cups of espresso and got Gaga to hawk up a lukewarm jug of froth. “Well…?” he asked eagerly, as I took a sip.
“It’s lovely, not bad at all, LC…. Maybe a bit on the cold side,” I suggested, with my voice raised at the end of the sentence so as to make it a question and not a criticism.
“Yeah, you’re right. Perhaps if I yank off the nozzle and ram it up into----“
“Or you could try reading the instruction booklet.”
He held it up to me, struggling with the weight of it. How can a gorgeously sleek silver box require a phone-book-sized manuscript to eke a hot drink out of it? That issue was left to LC to ponder as I farewelled him, Sapphire (asking for a babycino) and Dogadoo and headed out to the bus stop.

A couple of hours later, my mobile rang. It was Love Chunks, sounding rather more perky than usual. “Hey there Milly Moo - slurp - I’ve made a few more alterations and read through the book and added some better coffee and filtered water and now it’s perfect I’ve struck gold it’s delicious and the milk now is really piping hot and frothy and even Sapphire likes the hot chocolate babycino version I made her and soon Geoff the building design bloke will be here and I’ll make him one too and maybe Jack next door ‘cos I’ve been meaning to talk to him about the tree near our fence that should be trimmed back and – slurp – your bike is now set up so that you can ride it tomorrow after I make you a couple more cups of this fabulous stuff and maybe you could take some to work in a thermos or use the cold stuff for your really yummy version of tiramisu or even better a coffee cake – slurp ---“
“LC? Sweetheart? You might need to run all the way to Glenelg and back if you're going to get that caffeine out of your system– remember you’re normally only a one cup of instant guy, OK, or maybe a mug of green tea in the arvo if you’re feeling a bit crazy, OK?”

Heaven help Sapphire on her ‘School Day Off for the Royal Adelaide Show’ day with Dad today…..

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mongrel Migraine

I've just got over a migraine that arrived, unannounced and unwanted on Friday night and has only left my brain-building today (Tuesday).

Yeah Yeah, I know I've written about it before (see: but Mr Migraine is such a regular visitor that I believe he deserves another mention; kind of like Burt Reynolds - just when you think he's gone forever, he pops up in another movie as compellingly awful as ever.

Again, the hungover-without-the-party-of-the-night-before feeling is upon me, with the slow trudge up two flights of stairs to the office leaving me gasping and dizzy. A cup of strong coffee is brewed gingerly by me with extra effort not to clink glasses, splash water in the sink or create any ancillary noise. Bugger it - the glass jug has a crack in it and there's no girly milk left in the fridge - surely I don't have to negotiate those bloody stairs again....

I do, and hope that the strong dose of caffeine will unfold my face, clear my eyes and give me a couple of relatively perky hours in which to be vaguely productive. A blowfly has flown through the outdoor area and is stuck in my office as a kind of counter balance: every bash of his multiple-eyed forehead against my window is eerily symbolic. I just wish he would stop bouncing against the back of my neck when he darts past.

Sadly, my no-chocolate diet of, oh, three whole days is thrown out the window when Mr Migraine is in my post code. Besides, it's also my personal mission (that I take very seriously) to sample every new flavour and variety of chocolate bar on the market. Luckily for me, Kit Kat Chunky has released Cookie dough (tastes like peanut butter, but even more fattening) and Honeycomb (Bertie Beetle doesn't need to lose any sleep). Those two brown babies slide down like silk, aided by slurps of scalding hot coffee. Bliss arrives for a few moments at least and is just long enough to stop the goblin inside my brain squeezing my left eyeball in his gnarled grip and take a tea break instead.

Just as I'm beginning to get into the swing of things by answering a few emails, nodding pleasantly to my work mates and even return a few calls, the other - ahem - 'less sociable' end is vying for my attention. The joys of eating codeine like candy is that they leave you feeling gassy, bloated and with constipation bad enough to make passing one leaden rabbit dropping an hour-long event, punctuated with sighs, groans and bashing of one's head in frustration against the wooden loo door. It also means that I have to surreptitiously creep around the office and explain to any other visitors to the toilet at that time just what I was doing and why. There are no secrets in my work place!

I have Love Chunks on my side though. He kindly decided to work from home yesterday so that I could lay in bed with the sheet over my eyes, wondering just I do in my everyday life that ends up producing so much pain. He walks Sapphire to school and brews me a strong coffee, quietly sticking his head through the door every now and then to see if I need anything. "Nah," I mutter, "Just grab your tennis racquet and put me out of my misery. I'll give you ten points if you can lob my noggin right into the dirty clothes basket."

He somehow doesn't (even though my incessant whingeing would be a big enough excuse) and I manage to get up and have a shower whilst waiting for Sapphire to come home from school. As she enters the front door, it's like our home has been hit with a tidal wave of sound, vision, emotion and even smell. "HEY MUM! MU-U-U-U!? Are you OK now? I'm starving hungry - can I have an iceblock?"

"No? How about some nuts, can I have some nuts?"
"Goody!, they're my favourite snack apart from chips, strawberries, chocolate milk and marshamallows you know Mum. Hey I did my show and tell today Mum and told them how much Helen was swearing on Sunday and how Kent's pinata took ages to split open at his party and how all of the lolly bananas fell onto the floor and got dirty so I didn't want any and when the porta-loo got full you had to chase it as Lana's Papa was towing out of the paddock...Hey Dogadoo, Dogadoo! Whoohoo, you're so licky - Come outside with me - I've got the tennis ball!"

The kitchen is still resounding with her presence - even the chrome on the bar stools has wilted somewhat and the lid of her lunch box is still rocking on the sink, right where she flung it.
"Muuuuum, can you come out here please? You said we could make up a fairy ring where the gum tree used to be...."
"Oh, okay," I answer weakly, pausing to put the kettle on and reach for three teaspoons of instant coffee.

Friday, September 01, 2006

International, Book Week, Citizenship Awards, Brand New Gym Opening, Grandparents Day.....

Sapphire's school had a special assembly last week to commemorate the following events:
  • Australian Book Week
  • International studies - what country each class is studying
  • School citizenship awards
  • Academic merit certificates
  • The official opening of their brand new gymnasium and
  • Grandparents' Day

Apparently parents had to come too, at least according to Sapphire, who insisted that Love Chunks or I accompany my parents. My boss, Queen B, was more than happy to let me have the morning off (I think the fact that I've worn a track through our brand new carpet from my office to the kitchen might have had something to do with it) so along I went.

Whilst Sapph's class might have been studying the Netherlands ("They are really famous for Poppies, Mum!"), she opted to wear her Singapore air hostess outfit. "Mum it's from overseas and you're allowed to wear whatever country you like." Oh, fair enough I guess, and anything was preferable to having my seven year old roll her eyes at me.

Grandma, Grandpa, Sapphire and I entered her classroom where we were joined by a host of other parents/grandies and kids all decked out in costumes. Lucinda came over shyly, dressed in a large white shirt and a groovy hat. "Hi Lu, are you from Holland?"

"No, Uzbekistan."

"Oh, of course you are. That was going to be my next guess." Sapphire rolled her eyes for the second time that morning.

Two hours later and the walls of the gymnasium were pressing down on me, threatening to knock me out. How long was this school assembly going to go on for? The usual comparisons between children and the elderly were all too obvious: it took an hour for each class to fill excitedly in, sit down, keep still and be constantly shooed off and reminded by teachers to make room for the next class. It is a constant feature of humanity, isn't it - no-one moves to the far end of the bus/room/hall/row, causing a slow-moving, frustrating log jam that only moves in slow, inch-long shuffles.

For the first hour I was amused by the costumes in the crowd. The year sixes were studying Ireland which would have been fairly easy for parents to help organise a costume for. Lots of green netball skirts, silky soccer tops and showbag hats. One girl, however, was wearing two oval pieces of cardboard sprinkled with dots. She was a potato. Of course.

The winner of the 'most considerate classmate' made a rather imposing (but miniscule) figure as he clambered up the dias in his Darth Vader costume. Perhaps the Death Star was included as an overseas country in his estimation. Alternatively, there were a few spidermans, supermans (complete with inbuilt muscle padding) and many glittery fairies - clearly indicating that some outfits were chosen using the parallel universe reasoning.

Two hours of seeing kids awkardly get to their feet, clamber through their class mates and up to the stage before receiving their award, pausing to slowly and loudly say "THANK YOU" into the principal's microphone and find a spot on the dais before the next award recipient was read out had my Dad wonder aloud, "Geez, there are more kids with awards than there are sitting down watching them!" The tired folk around us muttered in agreement and I admired everyone's restraint in not screaming out "Hurry this UP for CHRISSAKES!"

Sapphire remained in the audience, her blonde bob a rather easy little head to identify, and it was not without a fair chunk of pride that I noted that she did a reasonable job of looking straight ahead and keeping still. Far better than I could manage. The librarian, labouring with a nasal infection, personality by-pass and any discernible communication skills, droned on about the book award winners, removing any shred of interest in the literature for the cross-legged children and suffering adults in the audience. I shifted from one foot to the other, cursing my ability to run or walk for ages but not stand still for longer than five minutes before my back started to complain. The gym was getting stuffy and the air was rapidly being filled with morning breath, hot socks and sly farts.

"Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me please....." I just had to get out before I fell over and caused my daughter more embarassment than a mere roll of the eyes could cover. Ten minutes of apologetically rubbing my rack up against the backs of strangers finally found me outside, gulping down the chilly air with great relief. "Hey MillyMoo," whispered another mother, hurriedly stepping on her cigarette butt. "Are you going to stay for their recorder solos?"

"Errhm, I don't think I'll able to manage that. Gotta get back to work or there'll be hell to pay, you know how it is....." Thank god for Mum and Dad - they were welcome to stand through an ear shattering rendition of 'Hot Cross Buns' (in August) ; I'd rather wait in the classroom wiping yesterday's anzac biscuit mixture from the kids' plastic chairs.