Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Really real reality

ZOMG!!! (or other, ironically chosen interwebs lingo, used in a “gosh darn, I’m so much cleverer than the kids” way)

They’re making a reality show about my old job!

Let me explain.

“Solitary” is a controversial show on Fox Reality that subjects participants to “intense tests and treatments”.

Solitary 2.0 subjects never meet or have interaction with any other human beings.

That’s spot-on – I only ever occasionally spoke with my ‘colleagues’, who were all complete martians anyway and would never classify as ‘humans’ in any proper scientific testing (not even at the Ponds Institute).

They will only know the voice of their omniscient friend Val. Their sarcastic taskmaster and worst nightmare, Val will again taunt the subject by ruling every action in their laboratory pods.

Well, they’ve obviously changed his name, but they’ve got the character of my old boss down perfectly.

The voice of Val controls all elements taking place in their pods including sleep, sound, temperature, and light.

It’s scaring me how accurate this is.

This reflects not just the crushing hours, but also the mind-blowing bureaucracy involved in getting the faulty air-conditioning or flickering lights fixed - three different forms, completed in triplicate, signed by three solicitors and a priest (but all on separate days and in separate cities), and submitted with a bond guaranteeing the cost of the call-out if it turns out the air-conditioning decides to work the day the repairman came.

They’re even stripped of their conventional names, which are replaced with numbers.

Right on the money again, Fox! I can’t tell you my number, but it, and not my name, featured on my work pass, computer log-in, and internal email address and people were routinely referred to by their rank (“I’m not doing this – I’m just a 3” etc).

The initial season of Solitary, which debuted June 5, 2006, received praise from viewers and critics alike, by pushing participants to their mental and physical limits with intense tests and treatments.

This show started about a week after I started my old job! Scary.

“Mental and physical limits” – they must be talking about that day, not long after I started, where I had to (literally) run between 5 different buildings, trying to broker an agreement between parties on the inclusion of a new comma in an 11-page document. Ah, public service - I really contributed to the progress of the nation that day.

So close are the details of the show to my life that I think the Fox lawyers were a bit worried that I’d open a can of opportunistic-lawsuit on their be-hinds. So it looks like they’ve changed a few details here and there, most notably how contestants leave the game.

No one is voted off, “the only way to lose is to quit”.

Of course, for me, quitting was the only way not to lose everything.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It’s your turn to shuffle, my turn to deal.

The machine reportedly used by the PM to reshuffle his ministry.

As you’ve no doubt heard, for the sole purpose of generating some work for the desperately sluggish parliamentary stationery sector, the PM has announced a swag of changes to his ministry. And, to prove himself the consummate bureaucrat, he’s gone ahead and renamed a few portfolios without actually changing the substance of his government’s underlying policy.

A bit like when Toyota tried to flog Commodores a few years back as rebadged “Lexcens”. Not fooling anyone.

For example, from the “if we don’t name it, it doesn’t exist” school of thinking, we now no longer have a federal portfolio which references multicultural affairs in its title.

“The existing Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs will become the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.”
Oh my.

It seems less care was taken in re-re-naming what was previously Environment Australia.
“The existing Department of the Environment and Heritage will become the Department of The Environment and Water Resources.”
So this new department will have the exact same acronym as the existing Department of Employment and Workplace Relations!

Silly, silly PM. Do you know how many mistyped emails will be sent? Hundreds! Think of the wasted key strokes. Won’t someone please think of the key strokes!

Also, I’d like to inquire as to precisely what is a ‘water resource’? I thought water was a resource itself?! Although, maybe this is to distinguish environmental flows and greedy cotton irrigation from other sorts of water use, such as water pistols, water bombs and of course, going to water. Ha ha.

And poor old Amanda Vanstone. 10 years of service, only to be dumped in such a way as to say "you make us unelectable" (and I note that there were no women appointed to the Cabinet or even the Ministry proper - Parly Secs don't count in my book - to replace her).

I have so many fond memories of her time as Education Minister in the mid-late ‘90s. She made great fodder for satirists and poxy-student-march slogans: ”one two three four, Mandy Vanstone hates the poor!”

I’d like to go on record here and put down my pick for the key appointment – the one that all the major newspapers will be leading with tomorrow. Yes, all those millions of Australians who rate the Arts as the issue most likely to affect their voting intentions will be thrilled to hear of the new Minister for Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis.

"Enjoy the Arts or I’ll rip your head off."

We’re in safe hands there I think. Phew!

For all uber-nerds and second-year law students out there, it is interesting to note that Peter Reith lite Georgie started his time in the Senate as a state appointee replacing a retired Senator. Good to see the ol’ constitution getting a workout, I say. Too many sections go unused, like that “lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys” head of power. What a bludger of a head of power! I should get Today Tonight onto that.

Lastly, the showdown between Hockey and Gillard in workplace relations will certainly attract column inches. I’d like to get them both in a pit-fighting battle royale! Mexican wrestling masks for all! I’m sure there’s a reality TV show in that somewhere.

The problem for me is that whenever I hear “Joe Hockey”, I become uncontrollably nauseous.

Ahem. Let me explain (you might want to put down your snack/meal/protein shake before proceeding, mind you).

I once asked a friend who was working in Parliament House what it was like to be in the thick of Australia’s political jungle (and by that I meant during the 20 sitting weeks the plonkers are around for).

Not long after, the conversation turned to the facilities available to staff and she mentioned there was quite a nice gym and swimming pool, which staff could use any time they like.

Sounds a bit fancy, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought, and so I remarked that this sounded like a cosy deal. Her response:

“Yeah, I guess. I mean, I was really enjoying the pool but then I saw Joe Hockey in speedos and I could never go back”.
I really hope she was able to access counselling for that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pop pap

S2bc is correct (free plug there for an excellent post) – Beyonce’s Irreplaceable is a bit spesh.

And I came to that conclusion without even having seen the film clip (the visuals being the normal extent of my interest in Beyonce)!

To the left
To the left
Everything you own in the box to the left
In the closet that's my stuff - Yes
If I bought it nigga please don't touch
And keep talking that mess, that's fine
But could you walk and talk at the same time
This all very sassy and how I like to imagine I would behave if I was a tall, taut and terrifically rich popular music mega-star who was breaking up with some ‘nigga’ (which I can totally see happening some time in the near future, so it is just as well I’m studying up on how best to do so).

So go ahead and get gone
And call up on that chick and see if she is home
Oops, I bet ya thought that I didn't know
What did you think I was putting you out for?
Cause you was untrue
Rolling her around in the car that I bought you
Baby you dropped them keys hurry up before your taxi leaves
In addition, this song is bound to be a contender for my mental list of “songs I would sing if I made it into the top 12 of Australian Idol” (yet another inevitability in my life that I am determined to be prepared for).

An excellent choice for either “R ‘n’ B” night or “Number Ones” (snigger) and destined to impress Marcia who is no doubt bestest crackpipe-buddies with Beyonce.

But listen Beyonce, if you’re happy enough to have your not-quite-husbang Jay-Z splash himself all over your latest album - just to ram home that you are both so wonderfully happy in pseudo-wedlock that you are creating beautiful music together - do you think songs about breaking up with yet another ‘nigga’ in a long line of replaceable floozies are going to be believable?

I need to be able to take my trash-pop seriously, you see, and you are making me feel awfully conflicted.

Hmmm, maybe not that conflicted, when I really think about it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Summer evening snaps in the nash cap

It's stinking hot in your capital, there's no breeze and nuthin' on the telly.

Time to amuse oneself, while the light holds....

(You'll have to imagine the summery things that don't come through on the camera - cicadas and sticky knee pits)

Tobias samples some cherries

Best get started on that pile

Ghost cat!

Cheeky bastard.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

But-ler (noun) – the chief male SERVANT of a household, usually in charge of serving food, the care of silverware, etc.

I don’t think there is any point looking forward to next week’s Australian Princess finale anymore – I think we can all exhale.

I’m pretty sure Paul Burrell is just going to go ahead and award himself the title and snatch the tiara away from Jackie O with his common little butler’s hands. None of our surgically enhanced lovelies are good enough for him it would seem – I guess that’s what comes of being so far up Princess Diana’s a*se that daylight is but a distant memory.

In fact I bet he's spewing that he doesn't even get a mention in The Queen.

What a seething heap of hysteria he is – veins popping on his forehead as [insert name of interchangeable contestant here] puts milk into the tea-cup before the tea.

I mean, sh*t! He’s right! That is much worse than the shocker hot-pink shirt and maroon tie combo he was sporting….. And it really puts Matthew Newton’s ‘things that batter’ in perspective. Or something.

They could easily rename this show “Grasping ex-butler’s quest to impose on otherwise easy going women an unending list of obscure, impossible to adhere to social rituals and useless, demeaning hierarchies with no relevance to real life”.

I’d still watch.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mindless violence

Look at these idiots, brawling at the Australian Open. What a bunch of morons.

How stupid can you be?

I mean, everyone knows you can’t hurt anyone trying to kick them in thongs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Anyone? No? Dussst.

I am simultaneously disgusted, delighted, horrified and perplexed by this:

This (if like me you had not seen it before), is ‘Sprayduster’, a product which made the rounds here at work recently.

It is full of compressed air which is sprayed, through the tubular attachment, onto one’s keyboard keybort to dislodge what collects between and beneath the keys.

I am:

Disgusted – because judging by the amount of crud dislodged from my keybort, I appear to have inherited it from someone with dandruff, eczema, flaky nails, hand tinea and leprosy.

I don’t think I’m a germ-a-phobe, but EWWWWW! Spray Duster dislodged what looked like at least 10 years worth of someone’s discarded epidermis, food crumbs, nose-pickings (probably) and god knows what else.

To think I have been touching this much crud!! And I use these fingers to continuously graze occasionally enjoy a workplace snack with! Blergh!

Delighted – because now I have a lovely (relatively) clean keybort on which to bang out my cutting-edge policy analysis and incisive and strongly supported advice.

Horrified – on behalf of you all that the public service agency I work for has chosen to spend your tax-dollars on this very embodiment of modern consumerist excess.

Perplexed – by the swirling ball of conflicting emotions I am experiencing.

As you can see, I am all at once very impressed by this product’s effectiveness and ingenuity, disgusted by what it reveals about the hygiene of my surrounds, uneasy about the excess it represents and resentful of the cold-burn it gave my hand (the can was ice-cold‘You’re as cooooold as ice!’ – there, some nice Foreigner for you all to get stuck in your heads, mwah-ah-ah).

And to think - I was worried I was losing the ability to write about the really important issues! As if!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Make mine a big, powerful MAN-LATTE!

As I was passing the local café on the way into work this morning, there was a table of about 5 guys (looked to me like IT contractors, or something like that - you know, polo shirts tucked into Lowes trousers).

Their coffees arrived (5 lattes) and one of them asked, in a rather shortish fashion, for more milk in one of them (it was about 40% froth, so that was fair enough).

Then, another one of them yells out "yeah, and can we get them in boys' cups - I'm not drinking out of this glass, it's for a girl".

Derisory, manly chuckles ensued.

I know - I almost vomited too. And I was still wearing my helmet, so that would have been messy and expensive.

Now, either these men were trying really hard to emulate the French and had decided to assign gender to inanimate objects or, more likely, they were more than a little bit conflicted.

"Let's all meet up for a big manly get together at a girly cafe where we'll talk in a manly and disparaging fashion about the girly drinks we've ordered! ORDERED I tells ya! ORDERED like man!"
I mean, if you are that worried about continuously acting out your masculinity, why would you go to a café and order a latte?!

If anything in that equation was ‘girly’ (by traditional, schoolyard paradigms), it is the latte, and not the vessel it is delivered in.

What chumps. On so many levels.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Complete brain organ failure - Australian Princess redux

You know on Australian Princess, they make the girls do chores such as ironing underwear, polishing silver and cleaning crockery – what on earth is the point of this?

What Princess is going to be polishing candlesticks? Exactly which part of Princessly life is this preparing them for?

If Paul Burrell told me to do that, I’d be like “no way b*tch/girlfriend/gay man! You’re the butler! Get scrubbing!”

But then again, the chances of me getting anywhere near that show…

Anyway, onto more serious analysis - how is Kylie Booby still in this show?!?! And did you know she is only 22? Looks about 35 to me. But I guess that’s what drinking bundy and cokes since you were 14 will do to you.

However, she did quite well on tonight's episode, impressing the judges by “arsing lots of questions” (lost her ‘k’ apparently) about poor-tray-cha at the UK’s National Portrait Gallery. So now you get points for admitting to not knowing anything? Ok. Fine.

And did I mention I like to watch this show in order to feel superior to the contestants?
Jackie O: What was it like to be that close to the Queen?
Stephanie: Breathtaking! I thought, like, my organs were going to fail or something.
The show is excrutiatingly slowly building towards the climax, the pairing of the eventual winner and a “real life prince”.

And you’d be knocked off your feet by the Prince chosen for this series – that is, if you’re the type of person who buys a $15 “genuine” Louis Vuitton handbag from Paddy’s Markets thinking they are getting an AMAZING deal on “real life” designer luggage.
“Prince Michael Sapieha’s lineage is one the oldest Royal bloodlines in Europe and were instrumental in shaping the Poland we know today.”
Could they be any more non-specific?
“Consequently, the Sapieha family were granted a principality, and therefore Prince Michael holds the royal title.”
Sounds a bit like a bought title to me.

Oh well, neither Kylie or Stephanie had any idea who Henry VIII was earlier in the show, so I suspect they are in no danger of being disappointed by this ‘Prince’.

Next week we get to meet some cut-price "real-life Princesses", including Princess Olga, correctly identified by Kylie as "sound[ing] like she's off Shrek or something."

Don't miss it!

Or, have a life and miss it.

See if I care.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I don't know why I'm doing this, as it will probably interest no one but me (the very essence of blogging, no?).

But, holy brake-horsepower batman! There are some schweet, tastey morsels amongst the 2007 models announced recently by the major motorcycle manufacturers.

Prepare to be bored everyone!

Let's get things rolling with this delight from Ducati:

The new flagship 1098 replaces the older, less than popular 999. This tricolore model will only be shipped in limited numbers. But who cares! I still get to look at unlimited photos of it. I haven't dribbled this much since I first saw Madonna's Hung Up video clip.

Also from Bologna, the Ducati that I would probably buy if I sold my car, my wife's scooter and one kidney, the Monster S4R:

The 2007 Testastretta Monster will feature an engine which a few years ago was winning World Superbike races. Mental. And all for less $$ than a Corolla.

But unfulfilled motorcycle lust reaches its zenith with the MV Agusta F4 CC. With this limited edition MV have managed to improve on what was already considered to be the most beautiful motorcycle ever built.

Not that I expect anyone is still reading at this stage, but Kawasaki have updated the Z1000, the big brother to my current bike, the Z750. The original Z1000 was such a shock to the eyeballs, so new and daring, that this update is a bit of a disappointment. I reckon the big K could have just retired this current family of Zs and let it become a big fat cult classic.

Also, the release of new model instantly reduces the resale value of my bike - so BOOO!

So there you go, one totally self-indulgent motorcycle post. Please feel free to think less of me.

But, it's my blog and I'll bore you if I want to.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Some shapeless thoughts which have been accumulating in my mind over the holiday period like lint in an unpicked belly button:
  • Just to show my paranoia never goes on holiday, everything’s out to get me, especially the weather – 7 days by the beach but only 3 good beach days, 2 of which were ruined by illness (yes, my only time off work since last Christmas and I instantly become sick, my body loves me). Furthermore, one night in a harbour-side 5-star hotel with sweeping city views and an easy walk to the Boy Charlton pool - persistent rain and a top of 13 degrees!
  • Speaking of beach holidays, seems that the old ‘us and them’ tribalism of coastal communities is still going strong – where else could you get heckled by slags in bikinis whilst waiting for take-away fish and chips?
  • I am calling for a royal commission to investigate why there is always, ALWAYS, some plonker on the Pacific Highway who drives 15km/h below the speed limit right up until an overtaking lane comes along, at which point BAM! they hit ludicrous-speed! Then, they slow right down again when the overtaking lane ends! I’d like to tie these people to a chair and slap them with a rubber thong until they provide an acceptable explanation for their idiocy.
  • Horrified, perplexed, irritated, defeated – all words I can use to describe my feelings regarding those people at large family gatherings who do not lift a single finger to help in any way. Am I really related to these people? I almost threw a phone lost it on Christmas Day when clearing plates from the table – one guest simply held her plate up and pushed it towards me without pausing from her conversation or looking away from who she was talking to. Should have just dropped it in her lap.
  • I hate summernats with a passion. I tried that whole “each to their own”, “let people just have fun” approach. I really did. I was even toying with the idea of not hating it at all and almost decided to tolerate the obnoxious noise that echoes throughout the night all over this part of Canberra - you know, share the earth and all that. But, there’s no escaping it – the only times I’ve felt threatened and have been on the receiving end of homophobic abuse in Canberra have been during summernats. We even copped it in the supermarket car-park at 9.30am on a Saturday morning, ferchrissake! The fact that the perpetrators are typically wearing car-themed merchandise and are hanging out of riced-up Pulsars and Subarus with interstate number plates is a bit of a giveaway that summernats is the only reason they are here. Get out of my town!
Alright! Environmental destruction, community disturbance and a whole weekend of verbal assualt on women! All officially sanctioned and partially funded by tax-payers! Australia rocks!
  • It was very thoughtful of the gas company to send their bill to us so that it arrived one day after boxing day, and was due three days after new year’s day – nice to come home from interstate to an overdue bill.
  • The soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette really is f*cking brilliant. Easily makes up for the Dunstardisation of that movie.
  • If you haven’t already done so, you really should get into Ricky Gervais’ free Guardian podcasts. The LovelyWife and I nearly added to the holiday road toll super-carnage-fiesta listening to these on the road north – never mind microsleeps, driving and tears of laughter don’t mix so well.
  • Hate to go all Column 8 on yo' asses, but today I saw Easter eggs at the supermarket. Kill me now!