Thursday, December 21, 2006

'Tis the season!

Ah eczema Xmas.

You know, I don’t think there is a time of year more suited to me offending people.

For instance, I really don’t like fruit cake. Can’t stand it actually. Think I’d prefer to drink a salmon milkshake. This is really handy for when workmates, family members or your partner lovingly prepare a Christmas pudding or fruit cake, only for you to turn them down. So many crestfallen faces.

I also don’t like fruit mince pies. These can take a lot of more effort and care to make than some Christmas puddings, so I get to cause extra offence when turning these down. Same goes for rum balls, rocky road and white Christmas – blergh!

Pointless gift buying – another favourite hate of mine. I’m always guaranteed to bang on about the pointlessness of so many of the gifts we buy when in the company of someone who has gone out of their way to get me something pointless and disposable.

Another traditional Christmas activity - spending too much time in the company of family members - really doesn’t do much for me either. Countless opportunities there to put peoples’ noses out of joint by steadfastly refusing to attend every single family gathering organised between Christmas and new year: “what do you mean you’d prefer to go to the beach rather than driving for 45 minutes to your 2nd cousin’s place to watch them open their presents?! Are you mad?”

And let’s not forget the huge potential to step on any religious toes left lying about the place when I pipe up with my predictable atheist grumblings.

And it doesn't even end there - I am not a big fan of New Year's Eve celebrations either. So, on the off chance that by the time 31 December rolls around I am yet to offend everyone I know, I then have the chance to be an utter killjoy and spout off something offensive about New Year's Eve being a meaningless, pack-driven activity. I've found that people who have been looking forward to this party event for the whole year really appreciate my negativity. Who'd have thought.

So yes, this time of year really is a gold mine.

I reckon just as most businesses do 40% of their trading during the Christmas period, I am likely to fulfill at least that proportion of my annual offence-causing quota during this time.

Itchy Merry eczema Xmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My work choices

Warning! Warning! Dangerously long and auto-biographical blog post! Contains very little popular culture commentary!

So for various reasons (mostly the ‘wanting to keep my job’ reason) I’ve not always written about what I do for a living.

The odd snippet here and there has probably let the cardigan-wearing, morning-tea-trolley-pushing cat out of the bag and anyone who is interested has probably picked up that I am a public servant ................. (I’ve left that space there for your gasps of awe).

So anyway, about 6 months ago, convinced that it would be “good for my career” I moved to a particularly dark, manky and ‘orrible corner of the public service world where the hours were frightful, the atmosphere soul-destroying and the issues eye-gouging-out-with-a-teaspoon-ly boring.

In this dark pit, anyone who maintained a cheery outlook, interacted socially with their work-mates or displayed a eagerness to ‘balance’ work with home-life (and by ‘balance’ I mean going home occasionally during the week) were taken to an unmarked room in the basement fitted out with flickery fluro lights and unusual stains on the walls, never to be seen again.

The doors to the outside world were guarded by deeply psychopathic orcs and when/if you left at the end of the day they would pass you a rusty blade with which to peel off just a tiny bit of your soul to throw into the flaming 40-gallon drums which marked the ceremonial entrance to the building. Not that I want to be melodramatic, at all. Oh no, not me. This is EXACTLY how it was.

I haven’t relayed any of this before partly because the place had the world’s most oppressive security and I was (probably quite rightly) immensely paranoid about publishing anything to do with the place. Also, not long after starting there I think my body/mind went into survival mode, dedicating all mental/emotional energy to staying sane, leaving little left over for creative whinging blogging.

But anyway, those around me probably noticed me nose-diving quite quickly into a state of mind that could probably be most hysterically, nicely described as “hopelessly oppressed and listless”.

Having a strong conviction these days to put the skids real early on anything resembling a destructive state of mind, I’ve exited the joint (after a long period of “oh, you’re leaving us” purgatory, in which each and every crappy task was dumped on my desk – thanks very much, bastards).

I am now basking in the sunny, rainbow and kitten-filled delights of a cruisey, happy-go-lucky no-responsibility role in what I consider to be the most interesting portfolio in the federal public service (I don’t think I want to be more specific than that, right now but I will say that I am enjoying being forced to read Variety magazine for work – nyah nyah).

Pictorial representation of my current state of mind

This new outlook on life means I feel slightly more comfortable about sharing some of the highlights of “the other place”, as I refer to it in conversation (even saying its name out loud still sends me into a cold shiver, my body jerking with nervous tics and a Tourette’s like proliferation of swears - quite humourous, if you enjoy visual comedy).

So, for the purposes of creating a “bumper holiday edition” of comicstriphero, here are some highlights, just for the galling entertainment value. I hope you all enjoy my pain. No doubt there’ll be more as I become more comfortable confronting my ‘issews’ and feeling the power within blah blah courage blah blah, wind beneath my wings, etc.

An Australian icon

All staff at ‘the other place’ were, of course (being good little non-unAustralians) all completely bereft upon hearing of the death of the late Mr Steve Irwin. Tears flowed! Chests were beaten in rage against the cruelty of the universe! Emotional email tributes abounded! And, in a massive, massive break-out of gay-abandon, people were actually turning away from their computers and talking to each other about non-work-related matters!

It was about this time that I came to realise that I felt very different to my workmates - lesbian hair-cut and facial piercings aside. In fact, I started to suspect that I had somehow missed out on the special get your personality removed with a special syringe new-starters’ induction session that everybody else appeared to have attended.

Forthwith, the following exchange regarding the heroic Mr Irwin:
Me: Gee, that stingray must have been pretty clever, aiming for his heart and everything. Eh?! Eh?! *wink wink*
(I know, not the funniest line in the world but at least I was trying)
Some guy: No. It doesn’t work like that. The stingray’s barb is only ever employed as an involuntary reflex in response to danger and it was pure chance that it hit Steve Irwin in the heart.

Me: (absolutely crushed) Um, yeah. Ok. That was actually supposed to be a facetious remark.

Some guy: (after staring at me blankly for at least 5 seconds) I don’t think you understand – the sting-ray doesn’t aim its barb…

Me: ‘Facetious’ meaning satirical or deliberately light-hearted.

Some guy: …in fact it has been scientifically proven that the barb is deployed in a matter of milliseconds so the key factors in this scenario would have been Steve’s location, the angle the ray was swimming along…

Shot through the heart – and you’re to blame

After this, I decided not to raise the topic ever, ever again. It was about this point in time I received an iPod for my birthday (thanks LovelyWife!) and I proceeded to glue the earbuds into my skull to try and avoid the temptation of attempting to interact on such issues in the future.

As you will see, it didn’t work for long

Oh the humanity!

On the rare occasions that my colleagues could break themselves away from their engaging and long running series of discussions (yes, it was a series) on the complex issues arising from the application of market-based principles to regulatory impact assessments (this was their social interaction mind you, and not directly related to their work), they would choose to lighten the load by discussing such frivolous and hearty topics as…wait for it…the most efficient form of mass transit for moving large numbers of people AND freight at the same time.

I know! What a party! Woo.
Pointy-head #1: No matter how much you try you’ll never convince me that heavy rail is flexible enough to accommodate the rapidly changing demographics of post-industrial civilisations.

Pointy-head #2: But you continue to ignore the important role of existing infrastructure.

Pointy-head #1: That’s not an acceptable argument. We’re working in hypothetical mode here.

Pointy-head #2: Well anyway, in terms of energy-expended per kilometre travelled, the Zeppelin is actually the most efficient means of transporting people and freight at the same time.

Pointy-head #1: Yeah, ok, that might be the case, but the ratio of fuel-storage requirements to actual storage capacity is sub-optimal. For it to be able to travel long distances, a Zeppelin needs to carry much more fuel per unit of weight transported than any other example you’ve come up with.

Pointy-head #2: Ah-hah! You see, it burns its fuel so slowly, that this is not really an issue. It can actually get away with carrying a lot less fuel in total than any comparable transportation vehicle over the same distance.

Me: (making a desperate attempt to interact socially with someone, anyone) Well, it would have to carry a light load, wouldn’t it? I mean, it has to float, right? Plus, wouldn’t a Zeppelin be light on fuel because it is so bloody slow? Thereby negating any advantages derived from its supposed efficiency?

At its top-speed I reckon I could walk along behind one poking it with a long, energy-efficient stick to help double its normal speed. Meanwhile, my mates on a train have alighted at their destination and delivered their packages.

(Long silence)

Pointy-head #2: (turning away in disgust) Look, there’s no need to be rude.
(Insert sound of me slowly dying inside)

comicstriphero was surprised by the ferocity with which her will to live burned

Try not to breathe

I knew for sure I was living and working amongst aliens (and not amusing aliens such as ALF or Dr Zoidberg) when it became apparent that no one in the office shared my puerile and juvenile sense of humour (I know! Very hard to believe).

I tried (honest I did) to sit through a meeting about bottom trawling without giggling like an idiot. But then my mind, being ever so cruel, had me imagining Rick from the Young Ones saying ‘bottom trawling’ and I just about lost it.

Until I realised that everyone else in the room was absolutely stoney-faced and unmoved.

I’d fancy some bottom trawling with Felicity Kendall … oo-er!

I mean, come on people! Bottom-trawling! That’s a-grade humour right there!


This scene was repeated not long after during a meeting in which frequent reference was made to a map showing an “East Intercourse Island”.

I sh*t you not:

At that point I was going to interject and suggest that what we really needed to talk about was why anyone, anywhere, at any time would think that this was a good name for an island and perhaps there were some doings-a-transpirin’ ashore this strange isle. I was also going to suggest a site visit was in order.

But again, not even the tiniest twitch of a smile on the faces of my ‘colleagues’.

So, clearly, this place was a humanitarian disaster (I’m really failing at this whole ‘try not to be melodramatic’ thing). If this were the ‘80s, I’m sure it would qualify as telethon material – Daryl Somers and Ray Martin could team up to raise the $249,682 needed to fund urgently needed personality transplants for these poor, suffering public servants.

I'm going to open up a can of telethon on yo' ass

Good news for those of you who have made it all the way through this post – I’m currently undergoing some repressed memory therapy and hope to be in a position to bleat hysterically relay more of my exciting adventures shortly!

And you thought Christmas was exciting! What a thrilling Australian Idol journey you are joining me on!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

He's gone for it

Can you believe it. The third test isn’t even over yet and they’re flogging a DVD of the second test (‘Amazing Adelaide’).

Keep an eye out for the framed promotional poster commemorating the new record for fastest and most shameless cricket merchandising effort! Limited to a million copies - give in to hysteria.

Also, just while we're cricketing - Shane Warne's hair.

Nine's super shlow-mo camera shot looking down the pitch clearly shows Warnie is still stone-cold bald on top. Advanced Hair hasn't given him more hair, they've just got him to grow in longer.

I think they should get the "hot spot" camera onto it - show where the heat is escaping most quickly to demonstrate exactly where there aint no hair no more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Australian values test Princess! Life is worth living after all

Life can be very cruel. I missed quite a lot of tonight’s cracking dialogue due to the noise from the Christmas concert at the school across the road. Lousy active kids! Get back inside and watch TV!

PhD students Cleverer types than I could probably come up with a snappy analysis of the ways in which this programme illustrates the cultural hangover present in Austral-English relations (yes, I'm sure there's a funding grant in there somewhere).

Me, I’m much more interested in Kate’s crunchy country goodness. Upon hearing that they’ll be taught to speak like a princess: “Oh crap! We got another test comin’ up or somethin’”

She’s got this thing in the bag.

I’m starting to like Jean more and more. Tonight she was ticking all my boxes, listing pet hates as white shoes and anklets. Testify woman! All she has to do is confirm how foul toe-rings are and my proposal will be in the Royal Mail.

Quote of the episode of course pertains to Kylie Booby. From the make-up stylist: “You’re as orange as Ayres Rock.” Haw haw. And she probably hasn't had a fake tan touch-up for at least 2 days.

Crikey I hope they keep her in this competition for at least another 3 weeks.

More scandalously mildly interestingly, Carla from Palmerston, ACT, (go parochialism, woo!) has admitted her repressed lesbianism bisexuality! Plus she hates Kylie Booby, correctly identifying her as a “screaming harpy”. If she wasn’t goth as all get out I might think about liking her for the title. Maybe.

Following this revelation and her later wardrobe transformation (out with the blacks, in with the orange twin-set!), those sneaky producers subtitled her monologues with “Carla: Confused ex-goth”. Insert catty noise here!

Anyway, tonight’s ‘important lesson’ was how to speak proper-like.

And what better crowd to judge how condescending and snooty princessy the ladies had become than the barely-repressed young fags from one of Sydney’s most exclusive private schools! This was pure genius on the part of the producers, I must say.

One little queen could barely contain his faggy, lispy, excitement at presenting his snarky little remarks on what is no doubt his favourite show (well, at least when “The Bachelorette” isn’t showing). Get a blog, and maybe then I’ll be interested.

At least they all sniggered at Kylie Booby’s name as much as I did. SNIGGER!

Ah dear, forget what I said about life being cruel, for a bounty of humour has been delivered to us in the form of this orange harpy.

Give thanks everyone. 'Tis the season!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Random Rant

"So, what are you guys up to this weekend?"

I am becoming progressively ruder to shop assistants who ask me this question.

I just don't understand why this is any of their business.

I know it is just supposed to be an ice-breaker. I was once a faceless retail wench myself so I understand.

However, I settled for the "how are you today?" or, even more outrageously "can I help you with anything?"

I am aware that I am probably coming across as needlessly grizzled and misanthropic, but next time a retail flunkey asks me whether I'm "up to much" this weekend I'm thinking of replying with one or more of the following:

  • "Why? Will that determine whether or not you help me out today?"
  • "Well, since you asked, I'm going in for a colonoscopy. Seeing you're so interested, would you like to come?"
  • "Here, I printed off my itinerary for you as I knew you'd ask."
  • "What do you mean, 'what am I doing this weekend'?! Have you forgotten our date?" (I expect this to work doubly well with the lay-deeez).
Teh kids today - sheesh.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Because plastic tiaras are always classy

So pretty much as I expected, I am loving the new series of Australian Princess.

My favourite contestant so far has to be Kylie Booby *snigger*. AS IF you wouldn’t have changed your name.

Upon hearing that “Fergie’s sister” would be making a guest appearance, Kylie Booby thought that Jane Ferguson was related to this woman:

rather than this one:

whom she’d never heard of.

In terms of actually liking any of the contestants, I am already a bit fond of Kate the pig farmer although I wager I’ll be crushed by the weight of ‘salt of the earth’ references by about week 3. Kate the pig farmer likes huntin’, shootin’, campin’ and fishin’. So pretty much any activity where you can drop the ‘g’. When described as naïve by Jackie O, Kate had to ask what “naïve” meant.

What qualifies Kate to be the next Australian Princess? “I have the right plumbing”.


One of the highlights of this show for me is the rather base thrill of feeling smarter than them all (lame, I know, but they are probably all thinner than me, so there you go).

So for example, I felt all book-smarts and worldly when, during the ‘learning about other cultures’ section, Carolyn said she had never heard of Tonga before (hasn’t she ever seen the Late Show’s 'It’s Academic' rip-off where every answer is ‘Tonga’?). And when Kylie Booby spoke Arabic to the Tongans. Leanne thought the Tongan guy was ho-o-o-ottttt, which meant she at least remembered who was who.

Did I mention there is a contestant called Kylie Booby? Wow, she is a right cow. What a piece of work.

Unfortunately I think she might get booted early. I recommend tuning in for as much Kylie Booby you can get while she’s still there.

Amanda, the incongruently intelligent doctor is my early pick. Although her ability to string two sentences together may alienate her from the other girls. Her greatest fear is “driving up a really steep hill”. Deep, man.

I’d also like to note Stephanie. After a hard day flogging used corollas at the car yard, Stephanie goes home to run her own spray-tan business. What an entrepreneuse!

When asked what Stephanie wanted to get out of the series, her answer was “my eyebrows back”.

Don’t forget to check out the Australian Princess website, where Jean will teach you how to sit and walk. Finally! I’m so sick of just standing, stuck in the same spot. I wish my parents had taught me how to sit and walk all those years ago.

I've so far resisted the temptation to click through to the forums. My self control can't last long though.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Long time no think

So the radio silence on the blog pretty much reflects what's been going on in my brain of late.

Unless you count the 'background noise' of my mind. For example, I am convinced that one day I'll end up homeless or in gaol and I spend far too much time pondering how I would cope and whether I'd survive longer than 6 months (particularly in gaol - I've seen Bad Girls).

Unusually, I find myself with no interest whatsoever in teh interwebs.

Just counting down the days until I can chuck in this freaking horrible job. Two to go. What a soul destroying experience it has been. I hope I get to say as much at my farewell lunch.

No doubt the return of Australian Princess and the new season of American Idol will rejuvinate my front bench.

Fingers and toes crossed.