Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'll pick Magic Johnson's face, thanks

Gosh golly darnit, it's been at least three months since my last meme.

This time, the tenacious Terence McDanger has tagged me, and seeing as I'm an unabashed fan of his blog, I'll accept his challenge.

What are your nicknames?

Used to be ‘Ready’ as a kid, or ‘reeds by the river’ because we lived in a river town, in a street named ‘River’ street even though it was actually nowhere near the river or even afforded any views of said river.

When gifted assassin and earless bad-boy Mark ‘Chopper’ Read became slightly more well known than feared, I was called ‘Chopper’ by the brave few. Of course, after I married Love Chunks and got ‘Lockett’ as part of the package deal the nickname changed to ‘Plugger’.

What TV gameshow/reality show would you like to be on?

I always say I’d like to be on Survivor, but I know full well that I’d be lying under a tree with a migraine sobbing uncontrollably within an hour of setting foot on an island with nothing but a dodgy swimsuit, even dodgier fellow contestants and only soggy bamboo with which to rub together for a fire.

In my own reality I’ve actually been on two game shows:

1988, Wheel of Fortune. Channel ten was then located in Walkerville and we poor students lived in Hackney so I could walk there, and hoped to win a colour TV, stereo, heater and some clothing to replace that which was stolen from us a few months earlier. My eighties spiral perm was blowdried out so hilariously hugely I looked like Bonnie Tyler in a wind tunnel and my request for ‘very little make up’ was translated to ‘I want to BE a peacock, I mean really BE one.’ Won the show, but realised that the room of prizes they show on TV is just a video for the home viewer while the contestant is being given the ‘hurry up you dick’ sign by the Floor Manager and being forced to pick from only ten items (such as cast iron cookware, mag wheels, skin care and diary sets and a poxy mat you place in your normal bath and pretend that it’s a spa) scrawled on a clapperboard.

Sale of the Century, 1997. My vanity – and love of useless trivia – allowed me to pass the audition and, seeing as we were living in Melbourne where the show was being filmed and I was a sheila, they were gagging for me to go on. Best moment of the show (a very long day in which up to seven episodes were filmed back to back, months in advance, so Glenn and whatsherface would whitter on about the Melbourne Cup even though it was June), was seeing a big headed contestant who’d annoyed the rest of us in the Green Room be led out by a hunky male model to the hot seat only to have her heel catch in the carpet and go arse over rack. Cracked us and the audience up and ruined her concentration so that she started on 20 points and left on twenty points; a comatose deer-in-the-headlights who might – I hope – have then gone home and taken a good hard look at herself.

As I did, but for different reasons. Won a few ‘Who am I’ segments (with those ‘pick a face’ prizes that are beyond tragic) and knew most of the other answers but just wasn’t as lightning fast as the two dudes on either side. Still have the Italian leather briefcase and the diamond set stickpin. Didn’t breathe a word to anyone at work that I’d been on the show (as if EPA greenies would watch it) during my flex day, and when it finally screened I was ribbed mercilessly by everyone there who’d somehow seen it.

What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?

This is Spinal Tap. Then got it on DVD in 2000. “We were called the Originals until we found out that there was another band called the Originals and we didn’t want to be known as the Original Originals….”

First video watched at home, on a top-loading BETA video player at a friend’s house in Murray Bridge, 1982. Porky’s. Of course. It was only one of three choices at that stage – Porky’s, Stir Crazy and Emanuelle.

What is your favourite scent?

Can I have more than one? As a low maintenance gal who rejects make up, I do like perfume – Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld to be precise; worn it regularly since 1990, and occasionally veer to Joop, CKOne and even good old refreshing 4711.

Non perfume scents include Sapphire’s hair, vanilla, bacon frying, melted chocolate, freshly ground good quality coffee and clean dog fur.

If you had one million dollars to spend only on yourself, what would you spend it on?

Just me, eh? So no guiltily-obligated sharing or being good….

A really good car. Not a Ferrari because such an ostentatious set of wheels is only going to earn you sneers and catcalls, but a gleaming, high performance machine that, like Rexona, won't ever let me down.

A stonkingly fabulous, first-class-all-the-way world trip. Shopping spree with a personal stylist who actually cares. A self published book that looks good enough to convince all bookstores to stock, earns me more millions that I then could spend on family, friends and charity.

One place you've visited, can't forget and want to go back to?

London. Lived and worked there for two years and still hadn’t discovered it all. Damp, grotty and expensive but I loved the place. Cutting my toe nails out of my bedsit window one minute and down Churchill’s underground war rooms the next.

Do you trust easily?

Yes, bugger it. I have a heart bigger than my cynical rants on this 'ere blog would lead you to believe. It gets shocked, hurt, squeezed and disappointed often, despite me telling myself to harden up, be colder, feel colder, eat or be eaten.

Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?

When I have the time, I think. And plan. And worry. And get anxious and all guts-churny and hate myself for and wish I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-trousers kind of person.

Other times, I can seize the moment and act in a kind of ‘fight instead of flight’ way. I’ve punched a cabbie in the face who pretended he was lost in Finchley and decided to reach over and try his luck with me; I’ve thrown a drunk bloke’s shopping bags off a bus so that he’d get off and stop bothering other passengers and bawled out people for littering in public. If only I could bottle that kind of attitude for stuff like public presentations or for dealing with the ‘Mummy Mafia’ who lurk at the school gates…..

Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?

My previous boss. HR departments that support the management regardless of truth, fairness or abuse of power. The fact that Ryan Shelton is on TV. Dove removing their dark chocolate from their block range and KitKat for continuing to release shiteous versions of a classic that should be left in dignified peace. Any jerk who thinks that abortion – under any circumstances – should not be granted. Saying yes to public speaking opportunities even though I crap my body weight out for weeks beforehand. Oh and enormous boxy houses without eaves or adequate environmental provisions that accommodate fat kids and need as much artificial heating and cooling as a city office block. Is that enough?

Do you have a good body image?

It’s getting there. I won’t pretend that I don’t wallow in the ‘I’m not good enough’ kinds of whingeing that most women are prone to but I’m proud of the fact that I keep pretty damn fit by running, walking and pummelling the punching bags in our garage gym.

What is your favorite fruit?

Darren Hayes. Oh, sorry, passionfruit. Ridiculously expensive, so it’s important to know someone who actually grows them, like my Grandpa did. Nothing nicer than to hollow a few out on a hot day and suck down those ridiculously sweetly sour seeds.

What websites do you visit daily?

Blogs (see my sidebar), The Age, Perez and D-listed (I know, I know), E!, Tom’s Trivia Challenge and a host of news and writing-related sites. Was a regular on Facebook but now just go to read what other friends are up to: 'Darryl is sitting at his desk in silence with a Cadbury Creme Egg wedged in each cheek when he should be on the phone talking to his boss about their next ministerial briefing'

What have you been seriously addicted to lately?

Flight of the Conchords and Seinfeld DVDs. Chocolate. Great coffee from beans roasted at Simply Coffee in Kent Town. Sapphire's soft cheeks. Milly’s soft, velvety ears. Skipper nibbling my fingers. Red Rock chips.

What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

Terence McDanger is hilarious, intelligent and a bloke I’d love to meet should I ever wind up in Ireland. With a wit and attitude to life sharper than a stick insect on a razor blade, he clearly is wasting his skills in whatever day job he has and should try doing some comedic writing for a living. With Franzy, Radgery, Myninjacockle and Miles McClagan.

What's the last song that got stuck in your head?

Sapphire was singing that old Rolf Harris classic about the powder on the noses of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus….who were just passing by and the pharkin’ thing is now firmly wedged in my grey matter. Trying to explain who Rolf was to my nine year old (who only knows him from the rather pleasantly enjoyable ABC portrait painting program) was impossible: "What do you mean there were lots of Rolfs that the Goodies had to track down?" "Why did he have a third leg - was he being naughty and rude?"

Favourite clothing

Brooks running shoes. My first pair beyond $150. Make me feel like wearing a firm pair of Crocs - but are socially acceptable - and make my running seem effortless: What are your legs? Springs, steel springs. And how fast can they run? As fast as a leopard! In Kathland anyway.

Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?

No. They possess about as much mastication-fascination as a wood dust and interest my early morning taste buds about as much as powdered chipboard. I hate eating any kind of cereal for breakfast, especially meusli. I can force a bowl down a couple of times a week but it takes so bloody LONG to chew all the nuts, bolts and widgets and it’s so unfun to taste.

When Sapphire is around, I’ll do fruit and coffee. When she’s not, I’ll do leftover cake, chocolate, reheated spaghetti bolognese or a Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee and a custard tart from the corner shop.

What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?

Have a quick squizz around to see if anyone’s patting their arse in dismay, and if not, shove it in my own arse pocket. Knowing me, then head off to the nearest bookshop, newsagent or chocolatier and blow it all. Found a ten quid note on the Tube three days before payday in London which was a lifesaver, as I was in the habit of walking into my local McDonalds and yanking out a handful of their paper napkins to see me through a few days of toilet paper – monthly paydays were a horror.

Items you couldn't go without during the day?

My shoulder bag. Sunnies, wallet, little notebook and pen (for writing ideas), tic-tacs, keys, bus tickets and wet ones. Wet ones because the mother in me had found, too many times, that stingy cafĂ© napkins placed directly UNDER sticky cakes aren’t helpful, especially if you have a child with caramel and cream smeared all over their face or your hands are covered in orange juice because the Fruitbox exploded like a grenade when you inserted the straw….. And some chocolate – couldn’t go without some every single day.

What should you be doing right now?

Writing a proper blog post that I thought of myself, preparing for my workshop, helping Love Chunks tizzy up our house plus discover the cure for zits in mature-aged women.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Self Help Hell

After losing my left arse cheek's worth of weight in nervous flop sweat when preparing for an
hour long presentation on my book earlier this year, I've gone and done something much more stupid - agreed to run a THREE HOUR workshop this Saturday morning.

Be that as it may - ego beating reality yet again - I've decided to share with you some self-help books that have either amused or puzzled me but most importantly given me a quick-and-dirty way to mock and cover up my own feelings of anxiety and ill-preparedness with contempt and piss-takingicity:

I remember my very best friend, Samantha Philips, in year five had 'ABBA in the Moog' in her Dad's record collection. It had me fooled - I thought it was Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Frida's lost album from 1978 until I heard it and realised that there was no singing on it; just slightly odder and funkier elevator musak versions of their existing songs.

How Moog translates to cookery might be like a quirky 'take' on an existing classic, early 1970s's techno style. I'm thinking tuna mornay in ramekins, cubes of cheese and tiny pickled onions on toothpicks 'sputnik' style, fruit salad that comes out of tins and kids (or drunk adults) running around with cheezels on every finger. With an added 'tish boomba ba tish boomba ba' beat to every instruction.

Sorry Winnie Cooper, but it does.

Kevin Arnold may have loved you, yearned for you and spoken to us, his faithful viewers, of you for years but even you can't convince me, that math doesn't in fact suck.

It does. It sucks harder than Mick Jagger's lips on a just-ripened lemon still hanging from a tree in the next neighbourhood. It sucks harder than an airline toilet hosting an obese traveller suffering Bali belly and still wedged on the seat during touchdown and even harder than a seven year old trying a McDonald's thickshake for the first time and wondering why they can now feel their earlobes in the back of their throat.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this; but many's the time I've managed to wrestle me a wild elk in Trinity Gardens and then thought, "Bugger, how am I going to cook this thing?"

I'm hoping the authors are married and NOT siblings and heaven help the party guest who idly looks up from their culled koala canape and calls into the kitchen, "Can I do anything to help...?"

"Why that'd be just dandy, thanks. We'd love you to lend us a good hip-n-shoulder with this moose here. Dang thing can't fit in the oven with those confarned antlers on."

Ah yes. The Colon Health Handbook. This was a rollercoaster ride from beginning to end. I laughed, I cried, I passed a motion, actually. Top prizes for 'grabbing the reader by their wallet' cover art, too.

Bless. This was written many many years ago - several hundred years, if Hollywood years are anything like dog years - and in it Britney and her mom Lynne share all their secrets to being normal, well-adjusted, intelligent and educumuhcated role models for other teenage girls to aspire to.

You know, stuff like how Cheetos belong in the fourth food group and frappu, er frappey, um, frappuhcheenos are great for helping you dance and sing real good.

And who can pass up a book about offal cookery? 'Beyond Nose to Tail' is a book that provides you with ways to cook every single little bit of the pig.

Mmmm hmmm! Even the cover picture looks so appetising - who doesn't want to see roasted pig's arse being presented in the middle of the table after eating a minced snout dip served in deep fried crispy porky ears?

Maybe, just maybe though, books can be translated or interpreted in ways that are more meaningful and more fun that the original intention. Let's hope so or Love Chunks and Sapphire will be eating Stewed Squirrel Scrotum for dinner again tomorrow accompanied by the sweet sounds of 'Madness in the Moog'.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tocktacular Wobbly Walk

Sunday just gone was South Australia's most popular, single sports event that people do rather than watch: the City-to-Bay Fun Run.

Having done the 'run' bit a couple of times now, I decided to walk the twelve kilometres instead with karate mates Naomi and Sarah. Naomi's son has been the recipient of a cochlear ear implant that has changed his life and we thought that our entry fees and some donations could be best flung in the direction of the Cora Barclay Centre. We were three forty-year old women wanting to do something good that was good for us.

Plus none of us were too shabby on the fitness front, so we'd be able to have a few laughs on the way in full knowledge that none of us would struggle to make it. We'd all grab our free copy of the Sunday Fail at the finish line, then meet up at the sponsor tent, eat our free bacon sarnie and swallow a pint of full fat Farmers Union Iced Coffee - no nasty calories in food earned by charitable efforts. (It's like eating an orange before a KitKat - the good has already cancelled out the bad. In 'Kath-Land' at least).

It was sunny and my guts were churning with nerves and excitement - pathetic isn't it, to be nervous at a mere walk where no prizes were on offer, no sheep stations on the line or lucrative job offers to be fought for but there you have it; my insides were jiggling about like a disgraced rugby player before a press conference. 'It's for the Cora Barclay Centre', I reminded myself, breathing in deeply, s-l-o-w-l-y. 'It's not about YOU, it's about being part of a community event, getting into the spirit of the thing, helping to raise money for a worthy cause. It's for the KIDS.'

At King William Street, near the rows of porta-loos already in demand by runners regretting their early morning coffees, we stationed ourselves about halfway in the scrum of walkers - right next to a fully clad Batman, as it happened.

He had the grey leggings, the cape, the face mask and, just to make sure he really was incognito, some sunglasses under his head covering. Perhaps the knee high, black woollen socks stretched up to his thighs were a bit of overkill and not likely to make striding along for a couple of hours in 22C sunshine a doddle. There's a lot to be said for the batmobile and living in a cave. He nodded in agreement and was about to ask me for my phone number before Sarah looked directly at me and silently arched one eyebrow in that manner recognised by intelligent females the world over as: "We're here for a reason, not to encourage stalkers."

The Dark Knight was immediately forgotten when the starting gun cracked. We surged forward without a moment to lose, every second counts.........and about fifteen minutes and fifteen thousand people later, we finally crossed the starting line, part of a chattering, moving ocean of adidas, safety-pinned numbers and "Tsk cha-cha tsk cha-cha" iPods.

For the first ten minutes or so, I was happy to walk with the two girls as we got into stride and was treated to an impromptu tour of some of Adelaide's unappreciated Art Deco buildings as explained by Sarah, an architect. Laboratory Technician Naomi and Dunno-yet me did our best to look up and admire the buildings under discussion, which was going well until I trod on the back of an old bloke's sneaker, thus transforming his shoe into a receptacle with about as much athletic support as a Croc. Still, he was an old bugger and easy to shove against the edge of the gutter as I strode by.

And it was about here - not quite the two kilometre mark, that my competitive streak kicked in. Really kicked in. I'm not proud of it but clearly my Read family genetics took over - be it Monopoly, beach cricket, tennis or wall papering, we tend to play to WIN at all costs, even if you end up getting donged on the head with the monopoly bank for your efforts.

Chopper Read had taken over Kath Plugger Lockett one hundred percent. It was Game ON, no mercy, go hard or go home, best foot forward, nose to the grindstone, backs to the wall, shoulder to the wheel, head down bum up....... The girls - bless their karate, butt kickin' black-belted hearts - just weren't cutting it on the power walking front. They just weren't putting their full hearts, souls and arses into the job. Too many months on the treadmill had given me a backside that swung to and fro like a ship's hammock and it was creating a momentum I was powerless to discourage.

So much for mateship, laughs and sisterhood: "You know what guys - I'm going to have a real crack at this. It's been a shiteous couple of months and I need to blow off the cobwebs." And with that, I was off. I can only imagine how big a wanker I looked. Arms pumping, hips wiggling like a superannuated cross dresser and steps longer than a pole vaulter's but without the symmetry or skill. I was going to make the most of this friggin walk thingy. I was going to finish it early, finish it well and cross it off my 'to do' list.

Instead of enjoying the Oompah band on ANZAC highway, I scowled as the amaterish, soft-bellied six-kilometre klutzes joined the event and was immediately swamped by prams, old ladies testing out their hip replacements and school kids clutching balloons. Selfish buggers, ruining it for fit folk like myself, up for a challenge, ready to give their all, do their best, show 'em what we're made of.

Which was dung, in my case. Morally, at least. I ducked, dived, weaved and even skipped along the footpaths and traffic islands to get past the slow, the fat, the clueless and the gimmicky. If there was someone ahead who was older, larger, younger, thinner, taller, smaller or pushing any kind of device with wheels, I was going to pass them and pass them with a trail of fire blazing from my Brooks' heels. "Excuse me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me....." There was NO WAY a semi-sane (I'm being kind) bloke wearing a chicken suit was going to out walk me; let alone a sheila pulling behind a Coopers Ale cart, clearly more interested in draining her tinnie than keeping an eye on the stop watch.

Instead of conversation, jokes and time to appreciate the atmosphere with my mates, I saw nothing but lumbering arses in front me, mocking my naivete in not surging to the front of the starting line and daring me to break on past them, only to see another blockage of blubbery butt cheeks barely held in check with lycra* and far too much jovial chit chat and taking in of scenery.

I kept on, and on, powering to the end in one hour, thirty minutes. A smidgen less than 7.5km per hour speed. No prizes, no fans running out to shake my sweaty hands, no announcing calling out, 'Here comes Kath Lockett and she's thrashed Premier Mike Rann, leaving him sobbing back on the roundabout by KFC!'

My bacon sarnie and iced coffee reward was eaten alone and I felt like an even bigger arsehole than the one I'd earned via treadmill training. I can only apologise to Naomi and Sarah, and assure them that they both looked fit, fabulous and fun-filled whereas I was just a blowhard beeyotch connected to a bloody big pair of buttocks.

*A word to the wise - those uber expensive Skins-style leggings look stupid on everyone. Including world class swimmers. Even though I personally won the Wanker Award yesterday anyone who wears these either has too much money or imagines themselves to be a serious athlete and may, if they continue to wear them, be given my crown.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bum Faced Nit

I know this is hardly original, but checking up blog statistics is rather new to me, an oldish blogger. The numbers of new visitors versus regular visitors is interesting, but search words that lead strange lurkers to my site are fascinating.

In the past month, these following phrases have led a motley bunch of cyber sinners to Blurb from the Burbs:

  • Bum Faced Nit - should I be offended or worried that this phrase led directly to me?

  • Sharply angled bowel - mine is irritable (sometimes even extremely angry) yes, but I've never been keen enough to measure it for angles or geometric formulae

  • Chloe Sauvignon naked - whoever this person or persons are; they search for her many, many times a week. My guess is they mean Chloe Sevigny, but either can't spell, or hope she likes a dry white wine.

  • My physical rectum site - oooh er, that's bound to be hilarious

  • Dangling Schlong Satisfy - is that really the official brand name of the product you're after?

  • Jam Jar - No idea. None. And if it's connected to the two-girls-and-a-cup-video, I'd prefer to stay ignorant.

  • Picture of Balfour's custard tart - Yep, one of my favourite naughty snacks.

  • Volksie bonnet - fair enough, I did moan about my 'book fat' gain of twelve kilograms which I've nearly lost. Yanks tend to refer to this denim-clad fattie phenomenon as 'Camel Toe' but I prefer the Aussie term.

  • Shetland Pony Fungal Infection - it is with a fair dollop of confidence that I can state that I have never included those four words in a sentence before. Not awake or sober, at least.

  • Young sexy chicks denture wearer - sure, I wear a mouthguard to bed, but the rest?

  • Nicole Richie disrespects nudists - why, because they tend to be the ugly, chubby kind that are best left covered up. And if so, this doesn't seem like a bad thing.

  • Peter Hellier ugly - amongst other, greater shortcomings, like being chronically unfunny

  • Wobbly Goolies 2008 - not sure if this is a band or a celebration

  • Perth root canal forums - Woo hoo, that's right up there with the previously mentioned 'My Physical Rectum Site'

  • Mouse erection - Yes, this one has been mentioned here. I remember this was mentioned by a commenter (Helen) who is a biology PhD student who had the good fortunen to know something about this particular topic. My blog article however, was referring to humans.

  • How to de-fluff a towel - a common quandary yes, but not likely to score too highly on the devoted website-meter

  • Cat shit and migraines - Absolutely I feel like shit when I have a migraine, but didn't realise I'd ever been pedantic enough to specify a particular variety of animal excrement to describe the feeling

  • Mariah Carey farting in front of husband - Best Search Phrase Ever. I hope they found proof.

Please kind comrade - how do you de-fluff a towel?


Sometimes, despite all the power-walking, running; having the encouraging ear, shoulder-to-cry-on and hugs from Love Chunks; effective medication and my own homemade version of cognitive therapy; my own little Black Dog can make its presence felt.

It is when I'm at my most exhausted - an unwanted triumvirate of physical, mental and social fatigue that seems to eat away my spirit, overly inflate my disappointments and perceived failings and destroys the ability to see the good things that surround me - this is when the Black Dog arrives to sit by my side, making me lean on him for support; support that's anything but. Instead, his presence makes me stumble and again wonder why my back feels weak, why I don't want to go out the front door and talk to anyone or find the energy to do anything other than sleep.

But sleep is not something that comes easily, if at all. Sleeping during the day would be lovely, the perfect way to escape but I have responsibilities to fulfil - getting my child out bed, her lunch made, breakfast eaten, pets fed, daughter walked safely to school. Start work, take care of the house, respond to phone calls, emails, letters, bills and enquiries. Keep writing; writing the stuff I want to write instead of the stuff I should write, and put it all aside again to pick up Sapphire from school, be a good mother, good wife, good friend, good person.....

"How was your day today, Who did you play with, Did you eat all of your lunch, What did the teacher say about me volunteering for the spring festival, Can Maya stay for dinner, How on earth did you get green paint on your culottes, Where is your water bottle, You'd better go and collect the eggs before it gets dark, Why didn't you make your bed this morning, Do you girls want a cup of hot chocolate and to help me make some apple and cinnamon muffins?"

I prattle on, hating myself, but not knowing quite how to stop. It's as though I want to make up for any disappointments or anxiety I've inflicted on Sapphire and for the fact that the six hours previous I'd hidden away inside, wondering just what on earth was wrong with me and why the Black Dog had arrived again.

The irony is that my little orange dog - Milly - is such a constant presence by my side that she'd be far too jealous to share her space with another. If she was aware. Cars and kids toot and wave as we accompany Sapphire to school in the mornings - Milly's collar jingling as she strains to trot in front of us, proudly leading the way.

In the afternoons, she races for her clip and lead when my alarm beeps at 2:52pm.


It's time for another walk isn't it, time to see Sapphire and get pats from lots of other people and maybe go home the long way via the park and then let Skipper the rabbit out of his hunch so that we can play chasey before coming inside to play with Sapphire and her friend Maya in her bedroom because they like to sing to me, stroke my ears and tie ribbons around my neck while I try to lick them in appreciation for at least a while until I get bored and go and sit back next to you in my beanbag, turning around and around until it's mooshed up just right, giving you my big sad eyes and hoping that you'll soon give me a bigger bowl of dinner than you did last night; with perhaps some stray rashers of bacon draped on top or a crispy fried chicken wing from that Coles BBQ bag that LC didn't eat for lunch today....."

Today I decided not to hide away inside and not to worry about what other parents at the school thought of me, or why having expectations only leads to sadness and failure - no. Instead, today Milly got an extra treat - a walk during the middle of the day. The sun was out, the birds were nesting, the blossoms blooming and there was bound to be a Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee waiting for me at the corner deli. Bonus, Milly's twinkling eyes and lolling tongue said so obviously as her lead was clipped on.

Bugger. As per her primitive instincts, she dropped her - ahem - golden nuggets in the park the second we literally stepped off the footpath, and I didn't have a poo bag tied to her lead or in my pocket.

The 'doggy doo' dispenser was only a few steps away, with two black plastic bag ends fluttering invitingly in the spring breeze.

'Might as well grab three or four or a dozen or so to keep on hand,' I thought to myself, seeing Milly sunning herself contentedly, idly watching my fumblings.

'Bloody f%%kin' thing,' I muttered under my breath. The stupid roll had fallen off the pin and was now sullenly slumped at the back of the iron cylinder, too far for my ET-fingers to squeeze in to reach and too securely locked. (Aside: why, oh Norwood Payneham and St Peters council, is it so vital to lock up the doggy doo dispenser, yet leave the toilets open and freely available for all sorts of drug users, derros and litter?).

I wandered over to the gum trees in search of a small stick to insert into the meagre slot, hoping that it would snag a bag and allow me to grab hold of one of the handles. Frig! Poo-Bum-Bugger-Shit-Fart, the stupid twig snapped and fell inside the dispenser, clogging the recalcitrant roll even further.

Milly lost interest - she had more pressing things to occupy her attention, such as escaping the unfriendly swoops from the magpies nesting in the trees near the brick kiln and to contemplate whether it was worth aggravating the arthritis in her back legs to try chasing the cheeky Mynah birds. Of course it was.

Maybe a discarded Paddle pop stick would be not only thinner, but sturdier and able to flick some doggy doo straps close enough for my clutches. Alas, not so - too bloody short. I threw the broken half at the box in an overly dramatic expression of annoyance.

'Oh, hello. Yes, having a bit of trouble with getting out a doggy bag, heh heh. Gotta do my bit in keeping the park clean you know.' Old Bag - she's the one who lets her three eyed Spaniel crap out a Cheops Pyramid in front of our driveway every sodding afternoon and here I am trying to apologise to her for breaking into a malevolent dispenser in order to pick up some fresh dog shit.....

Rummaging through the bottom of my bag found a pipe cleaner (thanks be to Sapphire's love of all things arty and crafty), a pair of nail scissors and an ancient biro. Fashioning a poking/pulling device triggered at one end by the scissors and with force at the other by a bic-pen lid, a black handle soon became free enough for me to tug through the slot.

'Yesssss!' I gave a triumphant, Lleyton-style fist pump of self congratulation. And then laughed. Laughed at the rage I'd thrown towards an inanimate object, only to pull out thirty six bags in retaliation a few minutes later. Bags that'll last Milly until November.

Speaking of which, she tried her best to be the hunter/gatherer of our small postal area, but only succeeded in getting a stray chook's bum feather in her teeth when we got home.

Thank god for that and all other small failures.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sapphire's Last Laugh

Love Chunks and Sapphire sometimes pass the time on long car trips by playing guessing games about key characters or scenes in DVDs they both enjoy watching together.

Some easily guessed ones have included, "I am green, have only one eye and burp really loudly at the end----"

"That's so easy, Dad, it's Mike from Monsters Inc"

"Oh, well done. How about, 'Kiss my Ar-----tichoke'?"

Sapphire rolls her eyes, "Oh come on Dad, even Grandpa gives me harder ones that you do. It's Wallace and Gromit's Revenge of the Were-Rabbit."

Sapphire would then throw one at her father. "I am a kid, who is now suddenly all grown up and there's a scene where you always skip it because you think it's too rude for me---"
"Oh yeah, it's Big."

The other day, Love Chunks had one that he was sure that Sapphire would guess immediately. They had recently watched ET together and Sapphire had enjoyed more than a few repeat viewings since the first one.

He said, "Try and guess who this is. I am short, wrinkly and I am good with pot plants--"

"GRANDMA!" she shouted victoriously.

She got an extra point for that one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Booze Views

That venerable journal so beloved of wannabe intellectuals at airport news shops everywhere, New Scientist, recently reported on the findings from a team at the University of Bristol (cider capital of Great Britain, incidentally) who tested drunk university students (the easiest and most cheaply bought group available if the academics involved were honest) and discovered what we've all found out (unfortunately) for ourselves: that drinking improves the appearance of those around you.

Despite rather grandly and optimistically describing the study as a 'controlled experiment', they managed to corral 84 young heterosexual students ('control' hardly seems appropriate here, more like a pub crawl funded by an ARC or NMRC grant), encouraged them to get pissed and then asked them all to rate the attractiveness of people in photographs. Both drunk men and drunk women rated the faces as being more attractive than did those who were sober, researchers reported. Shock, horror.

The beer goggle effect was not limited to the opposite sex, as the sozzled students also rated people from their own sex as more attractive. One of the egg-heads thought this was 'surprising' but it is hardly so. How many of us have said, or be told, "I love you maaaaate, I really do," in moments of extreme intoxication?

I'll share with you one of my own Beer Goggle stories. You can blame PoetSquib for this, seeing as she'd already got me reminiscing about the joys of backpacker-funded accommodation standards in the Old Dart.

It was London, 1991.
A vodka jelly party, my first.
In a flat crammed with New Zealanders in Hammersmith - definitely not my first.

A funny Kiwi rugby player and I dillied and dallied throughout the evening, punctuated by an ear-splitting soundtrack of the Commitments, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 and Tom Petty. He rescued one of the housemates who found that the stairs leapt up to meet her after she stood up from the couch and fell down them, breaking her collarbone. I, on the other hand, joined a bunch of other jelly imbibers in using a busted ironing board to surf down the stars after the rescue.

Anyhow, he grew hunkier as the jelly became scarcer. He got my phone number and rang me every day at work the next week, asking me out. I agreed to meet him Saturday night at Kings Cross station, 6:30pm, in order to go to another party, thrown by another dozen Kiwis wedged in a two bedroom flat in Marylebone.

Lordy me. There he was - clad in an All Blacks Rugby jersey (no surprise), a Maori-style tattoo visible on his neck (a real surprise; how much jelly did I inhale?) which seemed to be larger than his actual head. Jeans - standard issue for most of us penniless Antipodeans dwelling in London in between backpacking trips - and therefore no surprise. The canoe-sized, white loafers were, in all honesty a surprise. A horrific one.

Thanks to politeness and a good upbringing, I didn't feign illness or turn on my doc martin (ex-Savoy kitchen hand issue) heels, but reluctantly accompanied him on the tube.

Several hours later, doing my best to mingle, he found me, clamped me to his side and said, "How about we crash on the front steps, eh?" Considering it was November, he was stoned and I was not wearing my beer, jelly or electric spinach goggles, I declined. After all, I'd stood it until three am and told him I had to get up early the next morning (Sunday? Who gets up early on Sunday when they work for a bank?) and said, yes, I'd call him.

I didn't.

I'd met Paul, a lawyer, that same evening and even though he was pretty drunk, he seemed rather nice.

He didn't call me back after our first date, so I suspect that the goggles I'd refused to put on again for the Kiwi rugby player had been passed to him.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Useta Lover

Like Franzy and Miles McClagan afore me, the mighty generous PoetSquib has asked me to write a wee article about a song that means a lot to me.

It won't hurt or take you long to click here, read my bit and then watch the video. It'll make you wish you were sitting at a pub somewhere in Ireland.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bludgeoning 'Bespoke' Beyond Bearableness

Welcome, dear perspicacious cognoscenti !

.......Or, to put it more simply: Howdy to you acutely perceptive and informed people who have a great appreciation for my daily bloggings.

If only everything that was written (or spoken about, especially during some movie review shows on TV) was this easy to understand.

First thing in the morning, when my darling daughter has 'Lilo and Stitch' blasting away on the DVD, Love Chunks is clattering around in the kitchen and my face has yet to unfold from its slumber; I am struggling to read the four-inch-high headlines on the front page, let alone attempting to decipher what Congruent, Exiguous or Pusilanimous mean.

If I could be bothered at that time of the morning (7am on a Sunday, usually) to stagger to the bookshelf and open up the Macquarie, I'd discover that they mean - in order of mention: agreeing; scanty or meagre; and cowardly. I believe that it is rather too quixotic of some of those poncy reviewers and columnists to assume that us tired parents in the 'burbs have the energy to expand our brains to that level of thinking.

Quixotic, by the way, is rather appropriate. It translates as having an unrealistically optimistic approach to life. Kind of like those over-paid, over-publicised quasi-famous columnists who are only in the paper because they married - or divorced - well or got invited to a D-lister's shotgun nuptuals. Oh dear, I'm starting to catch on to this trend, aren't I - somehow quasi found it's way in there; and it was either that or 'psuedo' which seems to be going out of fashion as quickly as the foodies' once-hallowed nouvelle cuisine, followed by fusion, and Pacific Rim.

Pastiche was another one favoured by critics; especially loved by those funny old fighting farts Margaret and David from the movie show. Whilst it means a work of art (ie movie) that mixes styles and materials, we ourselves would normally walk out of a cinema and comment something like: "Geez he doesn't half want to be Quentin Tarantino, does he?"

Ubiquitous has been an 'in' word for a few years now. Angelina Jolie is ubiquitous, or everywhere, right now. In the gossip magazines, shagging Brad, adopting kiddies, squeezing out some twins, attending movie premieres in designer dresses, visiting world hot spots and getting herself tattooed in third world countries. Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus and Lyndsey Lohan unfortunately represent the zeitgeist of 2008. Yes, that means they symbolise the spirit or attitude of our times. To be an orange magic-tanned, blonded bag of bones wearing silver dental floss is what, in 2008, is considered newsworthy and worth paying for.

Being ulotrichous, on the other hand, is not. Curly hair these days needs to be straightened. Nicole Kidman, the poor old piece of long white chalk, has to iron her hair flat to ensure that her appearance continues to give us onlookers the frisson of delight we expect and for her reviews to be efficacious.

Now normally I'm fairly obdurate, or hard-hearted when it comes to celebrities and the pampered and cossetted world in which they find themselves. However, annoying words are not merely saved for movie reviews, but also for the - gulp - work environment. All through 2004 I had the word 'milieu' shoved down my throat. I guess the consultant that my then-employer had paid megabucks for thought that saying 'group' or 'setting' was not as glamorous as dragging out a French word and we were meant to be bowled over by her brainy brilliance. Sadly for her, it provoked an invidious reaction by myself and my colleagues - we hated it and hated her. Her beyond-even-the-bad-buzzwords approach to selling her ideas led me to cacchinate (laugh loudly) at the most inappropriate moments, making it extremely obvious the dissimilitude between us. If only she'd bothered to summarise her findings in plain english instead of announcing that she was about to adumbrate her recommendations. It was not without a small amount of pleasure to notice that, later, when I looked up 'adumbrate' in the dictionary, the word 'dumb' was smack-bang in the middle of it.

Still, what does the consultant care? She leads a peripatetic existence travelling from one project and company to another, so she's cashed her princely pay cheque and is long gone before the excrement hits the cooling device. All I can wish for her is that she catches pertussis (whooping cough) and has to sleep with a stertorous (heavy snorer) partner every night. The last thing we need is for jargon-spouting suckheads like her to achieve total hegemony over our working lives.
As for you, dear reader, I hope that my heuristic intentions have helped you learn something - big words don't necessarily mean big brain, or big points to make. We little people have to stick to our guns - We think, therefore we Are. That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm only worried about him getting his kidneys chilled....


Or should that be Mr Phelps?

I know you've won more gold medals than anyone else and you might have snogged 'our' Stephanie Rice (well, somebody has to) and apparently you'll be appearing on Saturday Night Live and you've been in a Disneyland Parade, but there's something that really concerns me. Well, bugs me a little. Actually, it makes me anxious and somewhat nervous, and for someone who has the wing span of a sperm whale and feet like flippers, it might be time to think about us, the viewers, of your Olympic feats.

So, Michael - Mr Phelps - Can you go an old girl a favour, and pull your swimmers up a bit higher?

I feel so uncomfortable that one day you'll hoik your arms up in victory a tiny bit too eagerly and your 'ol American bald eagle will pop out and get the medal hung on it instead....

Just think about it, and get back to me. I'm sure Speedo make a variety of bathers that nudge the bellybutton level.

Trust me, you'll thank me for it later.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Little Miss Chatterbox

It's been a year since Sapphire and I went to the Royal Adelaide Show and thankfully she's already outgrown the Beanie Kids craze. She's also outgrown the waking up at 5am stage and it was me, the thirty nine year old, who stuck her head into the nine year old's bedroom at 8:35am and said, "Aren't you going to get up yet?"

Once at the show, the Beanie Kids were eschewed in favour of the 'Little Miss' show bag, in an early, pre-teen wave of 'Because they're so cuu-u-te Mum.' So, like last year, to prevent anxiety, nagging and unfun occurring, we got the infernal bag-o-crap straight away in order to relax and enjoy whatever the show threw (up) in our way. She selected Little Miss Chatterbox as her plush toy and coffee mug selection.

Having a child who hates the smell of old cooking oil oozing out from caravans and the thumpingly loud sideshows and who wants to actually talk meaningfully as we see and do things means that the Royal Show experience increasingly involves the people we encounter and not the bags bought, food eaten or rides taken.

Following the Yellow Brick Road showbag trail for the first time ever meant that we were lingering by the flower displays and camellia judging was on in full force. By the ropes were cardboard trays of camellias. "Oh, we've rejected those ones already," a judge remarked to us, seeing our puzzled looks. "See, that one's already flopped out, and this one here---" he shook his head in disappointment - "---was obviously picked three days ago." He went on to explain just what he and his companions were looking for in a top camellia, to which Sapphire just answered, "Perfectness". He nodded, finally glad to have found someone in complete agreement.

It wouldn't have been the show if we didn't have a rest and a drink whilst taking in some competitions. The 'Mature Bitch' section in pugs were on, and we were quite partial to the one who kept on jumping and barking. "She's got the most personality," Sapph commented, "and she seems to be really enjoying herself out there."

This was overheard by Lyndall, a nervous Staffie owner who told us that she was watching the pugs to "Get a feel for the Irish judge, who is also the judge for my Brockie's competition. Yeah that's her, the bottle blonde with the stacked heels. How on earth is she going to stand in those all day with the staffies comp the last one of the day," she fretted. We wished her luck and went to see what other breeds were 'on' today.

Hungarian Viszlers, but so over it. One owner was hoeing into a huge bag of potato chips and for each handful she inhaled, she gave a handful to both of her dogs, who crunched away happily.

We bumped into Lyndall again, proudly showing off Brockie to a gaggle of admirers. He reminded me a whopping great mallee root, but with a tongue.

Dalmations were there too, with this one, Barney, doing his damnedest to get a snaffle of his owner's biscuit. "He can have some after I eat the chocolate end off."

We were all too soon asked by a steward to exit the dog hall as they were to close for an hour for lunch, with only the dogs and their entourages permitted to stay inside. Sapphire and I shot each other a quick look. Why not pretend we're with Barney so we could meet all the others? We decided against it, however, but only because time was against us (one day I'd love to spend a day there interviewing the funny characters we met so briefly today).

There was still the obligatory ferris wheel ride, the alpacas (if only to check if Sapph's music teacher had entered his in like he hoped to); the completion of the Yellow Brick Road (it is sobering just how heavy a bag can become when filled with oranges, apples, pears, pasta, loaf of bread and an entire bag of carrots), the ABC TV/radio trailer (Carole Whitelock was interviewing two Golden Girls who were holding the most ridiculously-clipped black poodles we'd ever seen. Picture a 1973 Michael Jackson nearly garrotted by some pink rubber bands and you'd be halfway there), woodchopping Jack-n-Jill events, grabbing freebie samples of gingerbread, cheese, toffee, crackers, fruit, chocolate, curry; and never quite fulfilling our quest for collecting any free stickers (the new Beanie Kids Craze for 2008).

Admitting to others - as well as myself - that I'm a writer of sorts seems to have increased my willingness to ask questions, chat to strangers and take photos of pretty well anything I can't find in my own home. Tap dancing midgets, for instance.

The Divine Miss M, in this case, on the Dare Iced Coffee stage, who put on a three minute tapdance performance just so that Sapphire and I could plonk down on the lawn in the gorgeous spring sunshine, rest our legs, eat some lunch and also be entertained by a bloke shoving a sword up his nasal cavity and a cortortionist called Ruby Rubberlegs pack herself up into a box.

Tap wasn't the only responsibility for Miss M, however. She handed the host of the 'SideShow Superstars' event a dingo trap that took all of her strength to lift, and was quite happy to put a rose in her teeth for another performer (Dirty Pat, I think his name was) to use a bull whip to deflower. It's hard not to wonder just how one ends up doing this for a day job and how, if it all, it is possible to classify this as G-rated family entertainment when Ruby can put her ankles behind her ears and smile winningly at the men in the front row, who suddenly sat up and took an intense interest in her back bends.

In the dairy hall, I had my first encounter with what - if you'll permit me - I'll daringly and braggingly call a 'fan' of my work. Well, my broadcasted love of chocolate at least. Sapphire was busy licking her soft serve as my eyes gleamed at the goodies on offer at Swiss Glory. "These guys win every year," I told her. "This is twenty bucks of heaven and possibly a couple of chocablog articles in the making." Sapph nodded in time with the rhythmic slurping of the drips leaking down the edges of her cone.
Another customer turned to beam in my direction. "Excuse me, are you the lady that's been on radio with Amanda?
I beamed with delight at this unexpected bonus. "Why yes, I am."
"I think you were so funny and ---- and you're not FAT like you sounded."

In the slightly more serious Jubilee Pavilion, a cramped stall full of unsmiling, young Chinese students wearing red mandarin-collared shirts were busy pummelling tired showgoers perched on plastic stools. "Come in for your free massage," their older, more confident boss called to me. I sat down, thinking that she was going to examine me, but she angrily called out to an exhausted and shy-looking young man, who immediately gripped my neck, slapped my shoulders and then tapped me on the head: "You very tense. Very tense. You keyboard all the time?"

A twenty buck note gave me a neck and shoulder massage that was heavenly, though I longed to understand what kind of conversation he was having with his other unsmiling mates. What are you talking about? "Oh nothing, nothing," he said, smiling at me. Don't you guys get tired from doing this? "Oh a bit, but we help each other, we massage each other's hands and shoulders and----" he stopped when the spruiker passed by and resumed his chatter with his buddies whilst he tenderised my shoulder blades. I'd like to think that their guttural bursts of laughter were directed at the cafe guy next to them who was selling lasagna next to sandalwood sticks, instead of me bending forward so far in pain-ecstasy that my sunnies slipped down my cleavage...

Hobbling out of there, wondering if I had been the unwitting cultural stress ball for my particular Chinese masseuse, we decided to find some refreshment. If it fit the 'vaguely edible' category, it would be seriously considered and this, we found, can be a rather big challenge.

Maybe not for young Max here, who did manage to get some of his dutch chocolate icecream inside his mouth. He's the Face of the Show, in my opinion.

Or my bias could win out and make it these guys.

Sapph leaned against me as we slumped in the backward-facing seat on the bus-ride home. "Thanks for taking me today, Mum. I had so much fun with you."
"I'm glad, love. What did you enjoy most about today?"
"Being with you and talking with you about everything."

Doesn't get better than that for the price of admission and some truly crap food.

Friday, September 05, 2008

She was all over me like a cheap suit..... *

My arts reviewing duties for the Independent Weekly are conducted with scientific precision. Yep, the right side of the brain is also at play here. What tends to happen is that I'm emailed a list of books, movies and CDs that need reviewing and asked to select which ones I'd be prepared to have a go at.

With the very best of intentions and despite having a mind chock full of useless pop culture information that also proves valuable during Quiz Nights, I often find myself selecting items for review based on their titles alone.

This is how the ‘Scars of Broadway’ CD ended up in my possession. I was only after reading the lyrics sheet that my heart started to sink. This was no brand new, cutting edge musical ready to sweep the rest of the Western World, or a witty compilation of hits from the past. Oh no.

Here’s a preview from one song, enticingly called ‘Chemicals’:
“I smacked your face
You fell in love when I said f**k your Mom
Come eat some chemicals with me"

It was then rounded off with: "I p**s on your face while you suck on my c**k." To be honest, I wasn't sure that such an act was physically possible, but what does an old fuddy duddy like me know? What I did know, was that I didn't want to read any more of the liner notes or place such a disc into my stereo system, let alone attempt to write a 200 word piece on it.

To cover my (not insignificantly-sized) arse, I asked the arts editor, the following:

Would you like me to attempt either:
1) a (hopefully ‘light hearted’) review on it from a daggy nearly-40-something perspective;
2) using it as a non-absorbent coffee cup doily; or
3) returning it back to you to refer on to someone who may ‘enjoy’ or know more (not hard) about this style of music than I?

Thankfully, she was more than happy for me to use it as a cup holder. I did for a short time before discovering that one of my karate sensei's sons was a big fan of 'System of a Down' who some of these Broadway Scars chaps were a short time ago. She was going to have a wee listen to the disc before deciding if she too, might use it as a petri dish cover at the lab she works at or hand it over to her fifteen year old.

It did, however, get me thinking about lyrics that I've enjoyed, sung along to and not really even questioned that lurk in my own collection. Most I've rediscovered since learning how to use my iPOD and select 'shuffle' during my treadmill sessions. Let's be clear here: these are all songs that I love and are (sorry Franzy) from my 'era' of the eighties, mostly.

Here are but a few:
Then, suddenly
Like a fly in a cup of tea
I'm stirred and no longer free
To fly away
('Is it a Dream', the Damned, 1985)

What you see is what you get
What the hell did you expect
Pretty red roses, wet puppy noses
Men with rubber hoses is more like it
('What you see', Oingo Boingo, 1981)

We learned more from a three minute record baby
than we ever learned in school
('No Surrender', Bruce Springsteen, 1984)

The steps of the stone church
are peppered with confetti hearts
Like a million little love affairs
Waiting to fall apart
('I won't take the blame', Del Amitri, 1991)

Get that Wasp off my sandwich!
('Hey Wrap, The Saw Doctors, 1992)

...... there are so many that the topic could really be a blog all of its own. Do you have any you care to contribute?

* (an eighties KISS song, long after the heady heights of their popularity and when they finally wiped the make up off and found that no-one, apart from my metal-head, accounting student boyfriend at the time of 1986, actually cared)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Single Sentence September

.....isn't happening here. Although I do wish I'd been smart enough to think of it first.

Blogger buddy, Franzy, owner of the superb blog '
Writing' and the bloke with the amazing capacity to always provide intelligent, hilarious and/or thoughtful contributions to comments sections near and far, has set himself a challenge.

He's going to write one sentence for every day of this month - hence the title, Single Sentence September. After enthusiastically supporting my Appreciative August-a-thon (37,000 words, 263 comments) he's decided to set himself a challenge that only a Queensland-dwelling, Coffee Club Cocoa Dust-inhaling, PhD student can handle. He explained:

Kath, I take my hat off to you. Well done. You have inspired me. Kind of. In the opposite direction.This isn't a piss-take, but next month on Writing has been declared Single Sentence September. I will be posting every day, Kath-style. One sentence. And one sentence only. Per day.

If you're a regular reader, you'll know that my sentences can turn into paragraphs, so there will no lack of content, but I'm also aiming for "interesting".

Wait and see.
I said: wait and see.
Will you just shut up already?
Over there, behind those sheds. Count to a hundred and we'll come and get you. But no peeking!

Get over to Single Sentence September and add a comment. In one sentence, of course.