Thursday, April 29, 2004

Melbourne University stupidity. Today I had lunch with Daniel, which I enjoyed a lot, because he was in a good mood. But when he's in a bad mood he turns his ridicule on others (like, he called me a "Jew-hater" cos he thought I'd made up the movie The Hebrew Hammer - unfortunately, it's stupid enough for that to be plausible, so when I tried to explain the plot, people would just laugh). He also has an annoying habit of pointing his water bottle at people like a microphone and making them say stuff into it.

We were walking past Wilson Hall, and he said suddenly "I have chest pains. If I die, will you record a commemorative rap for me?"
"Okay," I said; but then he was at me to actually freestyle the rap. I was like, "uhh, props to my homie Daniel, who dropped dead/Outside Wilson Hall".
"No, no, no," said Daniel. He started the most ridiculous beatboxing. Daniel's musical tastes run more to 80s indie rock and depressive singer-songwriters. Then he started singing every line I came up with back to me in a falsetto. "Yo!" he squealed. "Yo! Yo!" I told him he sounded like a pirate, and moreover, if Gilbert and Sullivan were alive today, that's the kind of urban music they'd produce. Then Daniel started another tack:

Daniel: I like Aeroplane jelly/Aeroplane jelly for me
Mel: I like it for dinner, I like it for tea
Daniel: And what I like most of all is sodomy

We approached the concrete lawns, where speakers had been set up and a DJ was playing some random hip-hop beat. Inspired, Daniel came up with the following rap:

Daniel is a student in the English department
Writing a thesis about fucking little boys

At this point, a girl walking ahead of us started smirking. I don't remember the rest of that verse, but the second verse went something like

So don't leave Daniel with your children
He'll certainly teach them a thing or two
But when you get them back
They might have a rash

By now I was laughing hysterically. "Hmmm, I don't think pedo rap will really take off," he said.

Also, when we sat down on the lawn to eat our lunch, there was this chick wearing shitloads of makeup and a pair of black Bettina Liano jeans, and not only did she have arse cleavage - practically her entire arse was hanging out of her pants! I felt I should approach her and let her know about her wardrobe malfunction, but Daniel said no. It was like she was mooning the whole concrete lawns, and she didn't even realise! In the words of Fannypack, "She mustn'ta owned panties, there were none in sight!"

Music musings. Yesterday I was quite taken aback to find Nova playing Justin Timberlake's "(Oh No) What You Got", which as any reader of my Headtapes will know, is my favourite track off Justified. It was bizarre, like I could telepathically program the radio (how fucking awesome would that be!!!!), especially considering in the car on the way to work yesterday, they were playing the Eurogliders' "Heaven (Must Be There)" which also makes regular appearances on the Headtapes. Also, Thomas from Oh Manchester… has been doing his own version of the Headtapes recently. Very different to mine.

But back to Justin. Is he releasing yet another single from that album? If so, he's getting a wonderful work-to-profit ratio, cos it was out towards the end of 2002. I was listening to it again this morning, and another track I have started to like is the one with Janet Jackson, pre-wardrobe malfunction, with the Mills & Boon-esque title of "(And She Said) Take Me Now". Basically, Janet's involvement is limited to some whisperings not dissimilar to Princess Stephanie's whisperings on Michael Jackson's "In the Closet". Which just proves that Justin is shameless in ripping off Mikey J. Like "What You Got", it's a Timbaland track, and my favourite part is when the actual song structure breaks down and it sounds like a remix of itself.

Also, I've had a bad week, Headtape-wise. It seems terrible songs stick in there. I am so busy/lazy since I moved house that I haven't even unpacked my CDs yet, except for some that were in a plastic bag or in my car. So basically none of my own music has made it onto the Headtapes. I'm just grateful that terrible song by Eamon, "Fuck It I Don't Want You Back" hasn't made it. Now I don't care about the swearing, it's just that it's a boring, formulaic song, and Eamon has an irritating voice and a preference for one note that appears far more times than the word fuck.

It made me start wondering why, in these days of autotuners and Producer Kings, do really badly produced, out-of-tune songs make the charts? Like that supremely shitty gangster-moll song by Amanda Perez, "Angel". Jesus that was bad. Bad! Bad! You know it! Hoo! Video was just as bad. And that song by Lumidee, "Never Leave You (Uh Oh)", okay, I liked the beat enough and god help me I've danced to it enough, but am I the only person on earth who realised she can't sing? She has a terrible voice! She can't even hit the notes most of the time and her harmonies are all out of tune!

I need to go CD shopping and/or downloading again. Tell me what to get! So far I want Junior Senior, Scissor Sisters, the Black Album and Kanye West. But I think I'll just go to JB and see what they have. After all, theyyyy've done it again!

The Headtapes … continued.

Wednesday 21 April

Yeah - Usher et al
Hella Good - No Doubt
When I Get You Alone - Thicke

Monday 26 April

Nikita - Elton John
Put Him Out - Ms Dynamite (remix featuring Bounty Killer)
Put Him Out - Ms Dynamite (album version)
A New Day Has Come - Celine Dion
That's Freedom - John Farnham
The Hit Girl - Bis

Tuesday 27 April

Squeeze Me Honey Honey - ?
Sweet Music - Kylie Minogue
We Built This City - Starship
Theme from The Henderson Kids
Witness the Fitness - Roots Manuva
Theme from Mr Squiggle
God is a DJ - Pink
Tropicalia - Beck
The Perfect Day - Fischer Z

Wednesday 28 April

She Bangs - William Hung
Not Pretty Enough - Kasey Chambers
Jump - Pointer Sisters

Thursday 29 April

Oh No (What You Got) - Justin Timberlake
Who Can It Be Now - Men At Work
Who Do You Think You Are - Spice Girls

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Cos I'm smutty like that, part 2. Today at work we were in stitches when our publisher asked our creative director if he would like to join her and our editor "for a quickie". I would have got through the incident with only a minor case of Wobbly Mouth, but Virginia just lost it and set me off. Perhaps that set my brain permanently on "smut", because later on I noticed the following headline in The Independent. It's actually a pun, because Michael Parkinson is defecting, David-and-Margaret-style, to ITV after BBC decided to screen its sports round-up Match of the Day in his timeslot. But to the smuttily-minded, it's pure gold!

Awakening the derisive sniggers of yoga. I'm researching an article about the pregnancy industry, and I've been looking on the website of this alternative therapy place in Notting Hill called The Life Centre. As you can imagine, my eye was drawn to a workshop held by the S&M-sounding Rod Stryker. It's called Awakening the Power of Yoga. Here's what Rod has to say:

Tantra is an ancient approach that uses asana as a way to unfold the soul's greatness. The action of twisting rotates the outer body, freeing limitation in the neck, shoulders, hips, and vital organs. The inner life of twists opens us to our core's pulse, inviting us to merge into pure intelligence and limitless aspiration.

Cool! Sixties dancing brings on the smarts and the ambition! There were some other therapies that I had never heard of, and after reading the descriptions, I was still none the wiser…

Cranio-Sacral Therapy

The body experiences subtle rhythmic tidal motions, which can be measured with delicate scientific instruments, and which are thought to be a direct expression of the health of the system, both physical as well as mental and emotional. Palpation of these tide-like motions allows craniosacral therapists to facilitate change in areas of restriction.

This sounds like something out of The Skeptic, which thanks to cynical old Sandor, who is a member of Australian Sceptics, I used to read regularly.

Then there was "Seiki Soho" which is not, after all, a cool new London club, but a "Japanese body psyche therapy with roots in the zen shiatsu tradition, a powerful, detoxifying therapy for mind and body. Facilitating relaxation at the deepest level, it encourages rediscovery of natural ease and vitality of mind and body while strengthening the immune system." There were also some things called "Quantum Xeroid" and "Zero balancing" which had no descriptions at all. They sound like something out of a Philip K. Dick story.

Now yoga is cool, and I love lying on towel-covered tables in varying states of undress and having quacks manipulate my body to varying degrees of pleasure and pain as much as the next person, but really - I have grave doubts about the therapeutic benefits of any of these procedures, except perhaps to the wallets of the Life Centre people.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

How unAustralian am I? I totally forgot about Anzac Day until I looked at Elanor's entry at Symposiasts. To think that I was still up at 3:30 this morning - I probably could have made it to the dawn service.

When I was a Girl Guide (3rd Box Hill Unit) we used to go to our local dawn service, badges shiny, woggles straight, socks pulled up. They have one of those statues with the cocked-hat guy standing on top ("They shall grow not old," etc) where we would solemnly lay wreaths and stare at the ground as a teenage bugler played the Last Post. My favourite part was going to the Box Hill RSL afterwards for a free old-school cooked breakfast. This being the late 80s, the diggers used to smoke up a storm over their tinned spag, eggs and sausages, so we would come home stinking of cigarette smoke.

The issue of commemorating war like this is another one of those things that I have trouble negotiating a moral view on. These generations of dead, maimed and psychologically scarred young men shouldn't be forgotten, but amid all the ANZAC jingoism, it gets lost that our involvement in war is always contingent on the international and domestic political climate of the time, and that Anzac soldiers were never a product of a pre-existing, pure "Australian way". Rather, the contemporary clichés of Australian nationalism were largely solidified by having to justify the deaths an entire generation of young men.

And of course, being Anzac Day, I'll have to quote some of my favourite exchanges from that hilarious, touching, homoerotic fodder for Masculinity Studies essays, Peter Weir's Gallipoli:

Jack: What are your legs?
Archy: Springs! Steel springs!
Jack: What're they gunna do?
Archy: Hurl me down the track!
Jack: How fast can you run?
Archy: As fast as a leopard!
Jack: How fast're you gunna run?

And my personal favourite, from the scene where Archy is trekking across the desert to get to Perth, and comes across a wizened old camel driver who, he is shocked to discover, has no idea about the war:

Archy: (earnestly) We don't stop them there, they could end up here.
Camel Driver: (looks around at the wilderness - there's nothing for miles) And they're welcome to it.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I am a fare evader. Yes, that's right. Thought I had no politics, eh? Well I'm a fare evader and proud of it. They have those posters that say "Fare evasion is a crime", the point of which is to avoid presenting fare evasion as a response to circumstances, like, oh, let's see, having no money till next Wednesday, and the hiking ticket prices, and the phasing out of short-trip tickets, and the fucking over of travellers to Melbourne Central Station, and trams that don't show up or, worse, show up early, and the endless trackworks at times that don't bother the average 9-to-5er but vastly inconvenience the armies of students and 'creative professionals' who have to work crappy service-industry jobs at evenings and weekends.

No, these posters are vaguely Foucauldian in that they perform a rhetorical shift from "fare evasion" the practice to a criminalised, uncivic-minded class of person, the "fare evader", who 'deserves' all manner of humiliation and brutality at the hands of roaming mobs of Revenue Protection Officers.

But if that's the game they want to play, then throw me the ball. I not only fare evade out of economic necessity but sheer bloody-mindedness. I enjoy it. It gives me the shits big-time that public transport was privatised without offering any of the benefits of a free market, i.e. if you as a consumer get shitty service you can withhold your business. But obviously there are no incentives for the public transport operators to provide better service. You can't go "Well, the Glen Waverley line sucked last week, so today I'll catch the Upfield one." You can't go "I'll wait til concession cards go on sale at the end of the season." (Did you know that Victoria is the only Australian state not to grant postgraduate students public transport concessions?) Nor are you allowed to refuse to pay for substandard service.

While in a proper market system, "the customer is always right", and companies fall over themselves doing focus groups and other ways to find out what people want, public transport operators have almost precisely the opposite attitude. They bitch that ticket prices are high because of the high amount of fare evasion, but it doesn't seem to occur to them that perhaps there is so much fare evasion because of the high ticket prices.

This said, I'm no bolshie hero going to court or engaging in ugly confrontations with Met inspectors. My usual fare evasion strategy is to purchase a 10 x 2 hour ticket, which I can prudently validate when inspectors get on the tram. I have actually been caught out twice, and both times I said "Oh, I haven't had a chance to validate it" and got away with it. A third time, the inspector asked me for my ticket and I validated it before I gave it to him, which angered him considerably but I said innocently "I thought that was what you had to do." A fourth time was on a Friday night, and the inspector said "Why didn't you validate it?" and I said "Hee hee, because I'm drunk?" and he just shook his head and validated it for me. My last ticket was validated on 2 December 2003, 17 December, 20 December, 2 January 2004, 20 January, 28 January, 26 February, 2 March, 15 April and 20 April.

One argument against fare evasion goes "Your fare evasion is unfair to other commuters who do the right thing, because they are forced to carry the cost of your travel." I have three answers to this. Number one: people ought to question the rather terrifying notion that putting up with public transport is "doing the right thing". If everybody fare-evaded then public transport operators might be forced to re-evaluate their practices, although that is me being extremely idealistic. Number two: we all have to pay taxes that go towards maintaining road infrastructure, regardless of whether we drive cars. And indeed, it's the inconvenience of public transport that drives (pun intended) so many people to use cars. Number three: despite these operators being privately owned, they rely heavily on government subsidies which are (you guessed it) taxpayer-funded, so whether you pay for your ticket or not, you're already helping keep the public transport system running.

But you know what? I'm just glad I don't live in Sydney. I had to endure their trains in a fucking hot February week when half of them were cancelled and the other half had no relevance to the timetable. And I wrote a story about how the NSW transport system is basically fucked because: a) management aimed to increase the number of services while pruning down the number of staff and enforcing training periods roughly twice what other states have, which forced the remaining staff to work overtime, and when they refused, well, the trains stopped; b) their workforce is a bunch of babyboomers who would fail the new health and fitness tests they introduced in the wake of the Waterfall disaster; c) the Waterfall inquiry also recommended a new safety device, and training the drivers how to use this took many of them away from actually driving trains.

And as for bicycles, I applaud their usage, but I'm not a bike person. You are or you aren't, and my lifestyle (skirt wearing, handbag carrying, silly-shoe owning, copious drinking, retarded at mechanical stuff) doesn't support the ownership, usage and maintenance of a bicycle. Thankyou and goodnight.

Murphy's Law of Wrap-Around Skirts. Winter is starting to arrive, and today I felt very superior wearing my white, fluffy-hooded parka for the first time. I've owned it for about two months but it's been too hot to wear it. Only problem is, I also decided to wear my temperamental wrap-around skirt, and as we all know, Murphy's Law of Wrap-Around Skirts dictates that no matter which direction you are walking in, the wind will always unwrap the skirt and reveal your underpants to the world. I always plan for this eventuality by wearing underpants with maximum arse-coverage (the skirt overlaps at the back). Today they are canary-yellow, the colour of a taxi.

Incidentally, I was finally reading Vernon God Little today, after owning the book for months, and I enjoyed the way the titular character was obsessed with women's underpants, in that fetishistic teenage way. It was heartbreaking the way that misunderstandings piled up and grotesque Americans were willing to gang up on and believe the worst of Vernon, who was perhaps the most honest and perceptive person in the book. It reminded me a little bit of The Outsider, except with a much happier ending.

My advice to you: start drinking heavily. This is a John Belushi quote from one of Sandor's favourite movies of all time, Animal House. Of course, this conflicts with all the information I and my partners in teenage crime received at the Australian Drug Foundation after the Year Ten Semi-Formal Incident, which I have since come to regard as somewhat of a template for my adult life (sexual inadequacy addressed by binge drinking). According to the ADF, the chief effects of binge drinking are those sexist oldies-but-goodies of getting into fights (males only, cos alcohol unleashes men's innate aggression) and having bad-judgement sex (females only, cos alcohol both unleashes women's innate sluttishness and diminishes their ability to fend off men's innate lust). But binge drinking can also provoke "feeling bad about yourself afterwards (such as shame or embarrassment)", "feeling vulnerable and out of control while intoxicated," and my personal favourite, "financial losses through reckless spending on alcohol or having to have time off work to recover from a binge."

They also say you shouldn't drink more than 3 days per week, and women should keep below four standard drinks a day on each of these designated drinking days. So, this has been my week:

2 glasses red wine at book launch
approx 4 pots beer at trivia night
ADF rating: Risky

1 bottle beer at St Jerome's
(passed up an invite to "Wheel of Beer" night at Lambsgo Bar because I felt ill)
ADF rating: Low risk (well done, Mel!)

3 bottles beer at Prudence
ADF rating: Risky

1 pot beer at the Deep Shit
3 cans beer at St Jerome's
2 bottles beer at Public Office
ADF rating: High risk

I glass red wine at postgrad seminar series
1.5 pots beer at the Deep Shit
2 cans beer at St Jerome's
1 bottle beer at Bourgie
1 bottle beer and 1 glass red wine at Rue Bebs
3-4 pots beer at First Floor
ADF rating: High risk

And tonight (Saturday) I'm going out with my ex-workmates. I wager that more drinking may occur on this particular occasion. In the words of Barney Gumble, "It begins!"

Friday, April 23, 2004

What makes me uneasy about independent media? Last night I went to the Spinach7 launch at the Public Office. All my housemates were out in force because Lorelei's boyfriend Mark was playing, and some of my workmates were there as well, because one of the Spinach7 editors works at my work. I must for a minute remark on Mark's performance, which I really appreciated: it was kind of like a deranged industrial version of Beck. Mark is a little guy with floppy hair, and he was wearing a stripey t-shirt and stumbling about yelling into a microphone over electronic beats and squelches. Mark is so polite and quiet away from the mic - I would never have thought he had it in him. My housemates were slow-dancing with each other to this stuff - it was truly a sight to behold.

Later, most people stayed out on the terrace. They were too cool to dance to the homey hits, even though I wanted to, badly; when they played the Bounty Killer remix of Ms Dynamite's "Put Him Out" the only dancers were me and this other guy. We ignored each other in our own little dancing worlds, while a few other people sat around the walls like puddings, staring at us.

Anyway, so I left early. And I was flicking through the actual magazine when I was in bed, and I started to feel uneasy, in that nagging, non-specific way that I do whenever I come up against any of those things like Indymedia, zines, The Paper, This Is Not Art, and student newspapers in the days when they didn't look like government-issued 'yoof' pamphlets. Like, I admire what Spinach7 is trying to do, which I interpret as creating a space for subjects that don't get coverage elsewhere, while still making it sexy, self-sustaining, and, dare I say it, 'cutting edge'. Unlike, say, Vice, which people seem to love and I don't know why, because it's so smarmy and written from the perspective of being better than everyone else.

But my feeling of unease just wouldn't go away. I realised that one of the editorial team was this prick who was flaming me on the Contemporary Cultural Studies discussion list in 2000, when I first vaunted the idea of studying bogans. And I recognised a number of other names, like Eve Vincent and Jacob "The Human Shield" Nowakowski. And some of the articles really gave me the shits, like this nasty, contemptuous, sarcastic rant from Philip Brophy about how far ahead he is of the rest of Australian society.

It bothers me that all these people seem to know each other from Express Media or doing Creative Arts or from festivals and zine fairs and 'workshops'. It's all about grassroots art and media, and DIY fashion, and carefully ritualised forms of subversion and culture jamming, and meeting like-minded people with tropes like "I thought I was the only one who liked [insert bottom-up form of cultural production here]." I don't know what makes me more uneasy: the fact that I also like doing these things but think and go about them in a completely different way that only draws people's ire; or the fact that despite the rhetoric of accessibility, it's all so clubby and everyone seems to know each other.

Perhaps it's because these people make me feel that because I'm not constantly trying to counter global injustice with grassroots protest and cultural production, there's some part of me 'missing' and I'm a bad person. I once tried to provoke The Boy by telling him that I had no politics. His face didn't change and he didn't take the bait, so I never found out what he thought. It wasn't strictly true, though - I constantly wrestle with why I believe what I do, and agonise over the discursive constitution of those beliefs. Perhaps another reason why independent media make me uneasy is that I wish I could find some of my own ambivalence reflected in their pages, rather than the ideological certainties I find instead.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I can't work out if this is a joke. My first instinct was to laugh and laugh, but then I started getting worried that people actually wear these.

Cuppas. Hot caffeinated beverages are my pleasure and my crutch, tools of relaxation, enthusiasm and procrastination. It's a policy of mine never to refuse an offer of a cup of tea; I told this to one prospective housemate during the interview, and he told me I sounded like Oscar Wilde. I also love having coffee with friends. I can map my life by the cafés I've hung out in.

And there's something delightful and luxurious about having a cup of tea made for you, especially in bed, or a coffee fetched from over the road and brought back on a cardboard tray. When I visit my parents, they don't even ask anymore - they just hand me a hot steaming mug. And whenever I make myself a cuppa I always offer to make one for anyone else who's in the room at the time.

It really punctuates my day. Coffee is for waking up, kicking on and drinking when you're out. Tea is for cosy chats at home, reading books and newspapers, and staring into space holding a warm container. It's also for procrastination. When I worked at Field Works I found the job so intolerable I used to take many unofficial breaks to get new cups of tea. I would go through up to ten in a four-hour shift. Same at uni - whenever I would get stuck I'd get up and make a cup of tea. But I would have to stop when my tongue started feeling furry from all the tannin in the tea.

Even though I've never worked in the Hospitality Mafia, I try to remember how people take their tea and coffee. For example, Rian has a long black before meals and a flat white after meals. Hugh does not like the teabag left in; Sophie V does. My mother's has less milk than my father's, and he also has one sugar. Renée and Ethan do not drink hot beverages, which makes me very suspicious.

There was a mildly funny moment at work last week: Sophie B said she took her tea black, "like me." It took me a second to work out that she meant her surname is Black. I replied "My tea is like me, too - white with none."

The Headtapes … continued.

Friday 16 April

Hit That Perfect Beat - Bronski Beat

Saturday 17 April

Doo Wop (That Thing) - Lauryn Hill
I Want You Back - Bananarama

Sunday 18 April

Temptation - Heaven 17
When Doves Cry - Prince
Careless Whisper - George Michael
Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra
Somewhere - from West Side Story
These Boots Were Made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra

Monday 19 April

Man Alive - Diesel
Never Miss Your Water - Diesel
Baboushka - Kate Bush
Theme from Diff'rent Strokes
Last Night - Strokes

Tuesday 20 April

Everybody on the Floor - Tokyo Ghetto Pussy
Be My Lover - La Bouche
Outside - George Michael
Ironic - Alanis Morrissette
Frontin' - Pharrell
The Song That Doesn't End - from Lamb Chop's Playalong
Senorita - Justin Timberlake

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Things that made me laugh this week. As you may realise, this week's entries have not been particularly whimsical. It wasn't a good week: apart from The Boy rejecting me, I discovered one of my lesser crushes has a girlfriend, which makes the crush no fun anymore, I had a haircut to try and cheer myself up and came out looking like a member of Motley Crüe, my phone was disconnected cos I forgot to pay the bill, I smashed the glass on an enormous framed picture, and another publisher rejected my book.

"But it's not so bad cos you're wearing a good outfit today, right?" said Gemma hopefully. Hmmm, what was I wearing on Friday? I had an aqua-and-black striped t-shirt with a wide scooped neck, my silver crucifix earrings, my black studded belt, a black silk knee-length skirt and my black patent hooker heels. I had to dress conservatively cos I was going to the theatre with my parents, but as it turned out, half the audience was wearing jeans anyway.

But I digress. I should put that on a t-shirt, along with "Do you know what really gives me the shits?" I'm sick of nobody I know ever digging the t-shirt slogans I come up with, like "Puttin' Out for Jesus", "Goolies Week" and "Will Dance Even When Sober". How will my Melkwear hip-hop brand (every rap star must have one) ever take off?

That last paragraph actually wasn't much of a digression after all, because despite my friends consoling me that my "sense of humour" is attractive, nobody ever seems to find things funny the way I do. So here are some things that made me laugh a lot in this week-o-crap, even if nobody else laughs.

Thank god for Amanda and her bogan baby name site. While there were so many horrible names that mere Mykaylahs and Jaeilayns paled in comparison, the one that made me laugh the hardest was on the very first page:

I was thinking of naming my son Toolio. Does anyone know the origin on that one?
[Jane] DeSac

Every time I thought of potential origins of the name or about that unfortunate child hitting primary school, or better yet, releasing a really bad rap record, I would laugh so hard I cried. Toolio DeSac. Gold!

I also went to my friend Linda's comedy show on Thursday, which was called Linda Catalano Meets the Corporate Devil but you can't see it anymore because the Comedy Festival winds up this weekend. It was pretty funny but not hysterically so, although Linda wins extra points for constantly heckling some guy from the audience who gave his name as "Punjab". Anyway, she told this joke that I thought was so funny I hooted with laughter, which was quite embarrassing as the rest of the audience only tittered politely. This is the joke:

An English soldier, a US soldier and an Iraqi soldier go into a Baghdad café. The proprietor happens to be a genie, and tells each soldier that they can go anywhere they wish to. The English soldier goes "I'd like to go back to London!" and ping! he's gone. The US guy goes "It would sure be great if I could go home to Missouri!" and ping! he goes too. The Iraqi soldier goes "I want to go to Hungry Jacks." The genie looks puzzled and says "Why do you want to go there?" The soldier replies, "Because the burqas are better at Hungry Jacks."

And the final thing, which I saw last night, made me laugh so hard my stomach was hurting. Gemma actually picked it. Her housemate Emma had got a bunch of dodgy Chinese pirated DVDs, one of which was The Life of David Gale with Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet. Anyway, they had proper covers and everything, but this one had a mistake that I just couldn't fathom, but I'm laughing now even remembering it. It was a review quote that appeared on the front of the DVD cover.

"Heart-pounding … until its shocking, mink-blowing conclusion!"
- Clay Smith, Access Hollywood

Brain gridlock. I sometimes get so worked up, so full of ideas and possibilities and contradictory thoughts, that I just can't organise them all and I get into a state of brain gridlock. I'm in this state right now. This morning I was reading yesterday's Age and there was an article by Christopher Scanlon that both excited and disheartened me.

Basically, it concurred uncannily with my own ideas about class, as laid out in my MA thesis about bogans that's being marked now. What I was saying was that the bogan is often conceptualised as a class-based figure, but that these conventional visions of boganness display a cultural rather than economic understanding of class. Instead, I reconfigured the bogan as a discursive figure that provided a partial, temporary resolution to cultural and political contradictions within Australian national identity.

Back in December/January when I came up with this idea, it was really exciting to me because it directly linked episodes of 'bogans' in the media with neo-liberal discourses like mutual obligation, the battler, mandatory reporting, the so-called 'aspirational voter' and ideas of consumer-based class distinctions as described by Bourdieu and, later, Bennett, Emmison and Frow in Accounting For Tastes (a book that my supervisor never steered me towards, although its relevance was fucking obvious. My examiners had to alert (and alarm) me in their reports. How fucked is that?)

But I'm digressing. I was really excited reading the Scanlon article because it said that Kath & Kim "describes class better than any academic textbooks on the subject", or something like that anyway. I mean, look at that enormous gap in the publishing market, just waiting for me! My thesis had a chapter about K&K! And I get academics, students and members of the weird spazzo public emailing me all the time asking for my opinion about bogans. Yet, my book proposal has already been knocked back by two publishers because it falls between markets: it's too parochial to work for an international publisher; it's too specific in subject matter to be a uni textbook; it's too populist to be a normal academic book and it's too academic to be a popular non-fiction book.

I was also really disheartened to read the Scanlon piece because it shows that my ideas aren't particularly original. I had the same disheartenment when I read a review of the latest Griffith Review which is themed "Webs of Power" and, as the reviewer said, is about the "latest trend" in academia: network theory. How am I going to find an original space for my own thoughts about networking? I mean, I realise that the idea itself is as academically hoary as "rhizomes" and "cyborgs", and that The Tipping Point came out in 2000, and that the insights of "cool hunters" are so common within marketing circles that you might as well add them to the Four Ps.

Basically (and perhaps naively), the only thing I can cling to amid all the shit that rains down upon me is the idea that I am capable of original thought. Or more accurately, that I am capable of presenting old thoughts in original ways. Perhaps this is why the weird spazzos' dismissal of my ideas as tired and clichéd cuts me to the quick. So, I'm in brain gridlock, trying to work out who I should pitch my book to next, and awash with new ideas for my cultural studies work, and humiliated because I put the wrong URL on a group email I sent to, like, every cultural studies person in Australasia, and overwhelmed by my lack of time to read and write and research while organising the antiTHESIS launch, worrying that nobody will ever desire me, keeping it together at work and appearing sane to others. If you've reached this point in this stream-of-consciousness post then I congratulate you.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Top five well-meaning reasons my mum thinks I "can't get a man". If I am Bridget Jones, then my mother is frighteningly similar to Bridget Jones' mother. My personal life remains a mystery to her. Over the years, she has variously asked me if I'm pregnant or a lesbian. I hear about some mothers who have friendly, mature relationships with their adult daughters, but when I try to tell my mum about my fears of ending up a mad cat lady throwing empty vodka bottles at hapless neighbourhood children, she attempts to "explain" things away in ways that make me feel even worse about myself. Here are my mother's top five well-meaning reasons why I "can't get a man".

5. I wear "get-ups" like sneakers with skirts, legwarmers, and hipster jeans that are "unflattering" because they reveal my "fat stomach".
4. Due to not having studied law, I move in the wrong circles and only meet artsy ne'er-do-wells rather than successful go-getting men.
3. I drink beer out of the bottle.
2. I am "short-tempered" and "bite people's heads off".

And number one (guaranteed to make a girl feel better about herself)…

1. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which causes a hormonal imbalance that makes me fat, hairy and aggressive. She is constantly badgering me to consult a doctor about this, but I refuse even to acknowledge the possibility that I could have what I call "fat and hairy disease".

I enjoy collecting abject stories about people I know, like the time _____ woke up and thought she'd had a stroke because half her face was paralysed, but then she realised she'd fallen asleep on the couch wearing a face mask, and the time _____ was kicked out of a taxi for throwing up on himself and had to walk all the way home covered in spew. But I am snickering uncontrollably as I realise that Helen Fielding herself could not come up with a more ridiculous scenario than me and my mother fighting over whether my inability to get a man is caused by a hormonal dysfunction.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Nicknames. I can't help assigning people nicknames, or perhaps more appropriately, titles. For example, I can't help thinking fondly of someone called Sam as Samuel, or someone called Chris as Christopher, whether they are male or female. And I can't help thinking of someone called Michael as Mikey, or someone called Doug as Dougie. And my friends Emma and Adam from my old work will forever be known as Ansell and Volkmer.

Penny is actually the queen of nicknames. Over the years she has variously called me Melski-Moo, Smoo and Old Stinky (which I hated, understandably, so she changed it to Spinky). She started calling her now-ex-boyfriend Choc because of his liking for chocolate milk, and then other people started calling him that. For a while last year she was seeing another guy who had a limp because of a badly broken leg, and she took to calling him Stumpy. I liked to vary this by calling him The Stump-Meister or Stumpatronic.

Penny and I have a joint nickname which I like because it's evocative of the way our friendship works, plus it dates back to the bad old days of 1999, when we would tool about in a red Commodore that Penny was always bashing into things. She would say blithely "What are we going to do tonight, Mel?" and I would say all deadpan, "The same thing we do every night, Penny - try to take over the world!" So I call her Pinky and she calls me The Brain.

Anyway, I thought I would just list a few of my nicknames and titles and see if people can pick them out.

The Israeli Cocksucker
Fucking ____ _____
The Drunken Slapper
The Mang
Then Stood The Master
The Marrickville Maller
The Boy They Called ____
Jam-Master G

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The events of 4/14. This morning I dragged myself out of bed to go to work, and at the tram stop, a guy with his arm in a sling said "Hi!" I had no idea who he was, and a horrible possibility flashed into my mind - that I might have had some kind of drunken altercation with him last night, hence the sling. Thankfully, he turned out to be a friend of my ex-housemate Loz, and he'd had a shoulder reconstruction a couple of weeks ago.

As you can probably imagine, I got pretty hammered last night. Sometimes I visualise my liver as a black, bloated, rotting thing, like lungs in those anti-smoking ads. I think it speaks volumes about where Penny is at right now that when I called her up to ask if she'd drink with me, she said she didn't want to go out because she had a cold. Tash, however, was waiting for me when I got to St Jerome's, and she and Emma showed a gratifying disapproval at the prospect of me drinking alone and insisted I come out with them after their Spanish class.

But that left me a good two hours' solo drinking time, which I put to good use. By the time they met me at Rue Bebs, I was on my fifth stubby (two more would be drunk before the night was out) and doing some serious brooding about why I have become such a poster child for the sorry institution of Just Friends. Tash deflected my lament that "if I were thin and beautiful he would want me" with the insouciance of a kitten batting at a ball of wool. "Well then he would be a superficial bastard that you wouldn't want anyway," she said. But that's too glib.

He told me that friendship is "not a small thing", and I'm trying not to be bitter about this like I was in 1999, when I wrote in my diary about being offered "the used teabag of friendship." But, and I realise the irony of expressing this in an online medium, it makes me so sad that the things that make me such a good Just Friend have nothing to do with my body and everything to do with my brain: my personality, my ways of expressing myself, my ideas.

But I am not just my brain! It depresses me so much to think about interacting with people every day, occupying space, using my body, and never ever having anyone else's body react to the way I look, the way I move, the way I feel and sound and smell and taste. Being a Just Friend is the ultimate rejection: it's a rejection of me as an embodied person.

The Headtapes … continued.

Monday 5 April

Who Needs the Quik-E-Mart? - from The Simpsons
Debra - Beck (who just married a Scientologist. I can't like him anymore.)
Round Round - Sugababes
Oh No (What You Got) - Justin Timberlake
Deck the Halls
Misirlou - Dick Dale/Deltones
Puppy Love - Paul Anka
Feed the Birds - from Mary Poppins
Stop in the Name of Love - Supremes
9 to 5 (Morning Train) - Sheena Easton
My Happiness - Powerfinger
Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
In Your Neighbourhood - from Sesame Street
Predictable - Delta Goodrem (daughter of Satan)

Tuesday 6 April

Do You Wanna Be in My Gang - Gary Glitter
Sexed Up - Robbie Williams
Nosebleed Section - Hilltop Hoods
Don't Worry Baby - Beach Boys

Thursday 8 April

Twist - Goldfrapp
Clocks - Coldplay
Relight My Fire - Take That

Tuesday 13 April

My Projects - Coo Coo Cal
Baby Phat - De La Soul
I Don't Wanna Be With Nobody But You - Absent Friends featuring Wendy Matthews
Rippin Kittin - Golden Boy featuring Miss Kittin
52 Girls - B-52's
This Guy/Girl's In Love With You - Burt Bacharach

Wednesday 14 April

Quando Quando Quando - Engelbert Humperdinck
Yeah - Usher et al
Weetbix jingle ("Hope you've had your Weetbix, you eat 'em every day...")

Thursday 15 April

Still Standing - Kylie Minogue
Heaven (Must Be There) - Eurogliders

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Boy's response. Nothing unexpected there. He sent me the most beautifully written rejection email - "I can see why you have a crush on this guy," said Sophie B unhelpfully. I won't reproduce the email here, but Sophie was right. Oh the irony.

Even though I feel like the lowest piece of garbage ever to blow along a slum street, I have to keep it together and write a piece about Condoleezza Rice's testimony to the 9/11 Commission. Damn! damn! damn! I left my bottle of vodka at Gemma's house. I never told Gemma about The Boy, so it will seem weird and alcoholic to her if I returned to her house to retrieve it. I will have to buy another one.

Funny, really, today's post was going to be a report on last night's Junior Senior concert, which was great. But I don't feel up to it now. Words don't really explain how bad I feel right now.

Time to get ill. I feel like you do when you've narrowly avoided a car crash. My heart is racing. My hands are shaking, I'm struggling to breathe calmly and I'm sucking on a cup of tea like it's the elixir of life itself. Why, may you ask, am I feeling so strange when I haven't even got out of my chair? Well, I've just sent The Boy an email telling him that, well, he is The Boy.

I didn't even mean to, it was just going to be an ordinary email. But then I thought to myself, "Mel, you are going to stay miserable as long as you don't tell him." I told my workmates (an invaluable source of moral support, fashion and celebrity gossip) and the looks on their faces, particularly the unadulterated horror I glimpsed in Dougie's eyes, did not bode well. To make things worse, Dougie's eyes are a similar colour to The Boy's.

I remember a while ago Shane saying that he felt amazingly relieved after telling all to his crush, even though the telling itself went badly. But I just feel incredibly anxious that I've fucked everything up. This may not be quite what the Beastie Boys meant by 'ill communication'.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

You must, repeat, must, see Starsky & Hutch. I went last night with Gemma. Now I looked up the American reviews on Metacritic about a month or two ago and they were divided between "This is the best thing to happen to the TV-show-into-movie genre in years!" and "This is so lame and unfunny." But I was sold by only one thing: I had read that Hutch (Owen Wilson) has to put Starsky (Ben Stiller) to bed after a cocaine-fuelled disco inferno, and he touches him on the chest and says "Go to sleep, tiny dancer." Gold! It's also directed by the same guy who did Road Trip, which I found goddamn hilarious.

Anyway, it was all that and more, although we agreed it was not quite as good as Zoolander. A lot of the humour came from the interplay between the actors, who do what they've done in just about every film they've appeared in: Stiller plays the uptight loser, and Wilson plays the infuriatingly laid-back and sexually successful winner. More of the humour came from the general recreation of the Seventies. But one thing that was not funny was how hot Owen Wilson is.

I also really enjoyed the obvious homoeroticism of the film, something that is said to have displeased David Soul, who played Hutch in the original TV series, who said something really naive like "They were men's men!" If (like me) you found Frodo and Sam's hobbitish camaraderie incredibly, hilariously gay (then check out this site), you will be in hysterics at this film, in which, among other things, Starsky gets misty when Hutch sings a gooey guitar ballad to him, and fantasises about the two of them frolicking on the beach wearing matching Starsky & Hutch t-shirts. Not to mention the locker room towel scene and the 'dragon scene' with an uncredited Will Ferrell. My god, I'm laughing now just remembering it.

Other piss funny moments:
- Starsky's disco duel with a guy who is like the most low-rent version of Disco Stu from The Simpsons.
- Starsky and Hutch's Easy Rider homage.
- Starsky runs along the beach wearing a pair of headphones with twin antennae and does frenzied karate under a pier.
- The aforementioned 'tiny dancer' scene. For me it's as hilarious as the Zoolander scene where Owen Wilson goes "Don't you know I'm loco?"
- Starsky visits the grave of his dead mum, a hotshot cop, and places a votive donut on her gravestone.
- The bad guy, played by Vince Vaughn, has invented a revolutionary kind of cocaine called "New Coke"
- Dumbarse cops mock our duo as "the Captain and Tenille" and "Sonny and Cher"

But I'm also terribly excited to see the following dumb movies:

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (looks like Clueless and Honey wrapped in one)
Win A Date With Tad Hamilton (directed by Robert Luketic of Legally Blonde and Titsiana Booberini fame)
Spiderman II (Tash looked at me pityingly and said "It's Tobey Maguire, isn't it?")

I'm sure there are more but I can't think of them right now.

My new housemates have a concept band. It's called Young Professionals. On Friday night I went to see them perform at this party at IRENE, a warehouse space in Brunswick which my housemates described to me as "artists' studios," but which I already knew as the home of Barricade, the anarchist collective. Ben H used to be a member of Barricade, and the way he described the paradox of organised anarchism, it sounded a little like Fawlty Towers. So I was very dubious about this party.

My housemates are all very tall and thin and glamorous and exponents of op shop chic, and at home they like playing stuff like Le Tigre and David Bowie. They had been practising like demons in preparation for this gig. So I was very intrigued to see what Young Professionals were like. Trouble was, I was still suffering from Thursday night's binge-drinking and bar-crawling. It had begun at St Jerome's at 5pm and proceeded after about five Carlton tinnies to Kitten Club, a switch to Kirin, enormous queue outside Cherry, Honkytonks, more Kirin, Double Happiness, a switch to Tsing-Tao and much to Tash's excitement, a sighting of David Wenham (she was a Diver Dan fan), Ding Dong Lounge, a switch back to old faithful Carlton (but what a shit, shit, shit venue! I liked it so much more when it was the International and they played funk music on fridays and the homies descended upon it on Wednesdays as part of Melbourne's designated "hip hop scene", yo check it Tony Mitchell I am down wit da old skool subkulcha) and finished around 3am at Hungry Jacks, where every drunk in the CBD had congregated to yell and throw chips at each other.

So Friday I was not feeling tip-top. Plus I was feeling miserable for reasons that you can probably guess and are bored of hearing about. Just this week he said something that made me realise I have become the dreaded Just Friend. Oh that makes me sad. And furious. And jealous. Mostly sad though. But anyway.

So my housemates were playing at midnight, so I rock up on the dot and find the place packed. Cos it's Good Friday and everyone is hurting bad from there being no pubs or bottlos open and IRENE has a really cheap and illegal bar. The group organising the night is called Pop Opera and the night was the Passion Pop Opera and yay! they had Passion Pop. The sad thing is that even my teen brother has grown out of drinking Passion Pop but I still buy it on occasion. And an even bigger tragedy is that I was driving so I could only have one drink.

Now it was a really huge and kick-arse party, and everyone was dressed in crazy outfits that made me so excited even to look at them. One chick was dressed as a peacock, she had the feathers and everything. Another one had a huge crinoline skirt, another one had a fetish corset that made her tits look really odd, but at the same time really alluring. I wished I was feeling up to the occasion. I had come by myself so I had nobody to talk to. I thought I recognised a few people, like Rory, who I did honours with and was also in Felicity's production of Hippolytos, and Shane's friend Texta who I saw Honey with, but was too intimidated to approach any of them. After wandering about aimlessly for a while I found my housemate Chimere. She said they were just about to go on.

They had decided against stage costumes but they were all tricked out in vintage glam. Chimere was wearing black leggings with foolish fairytale boots and a blue satin camisole open at the sides to reveal a black lacy bra. Hannah was wearing what looked like an 80s prom dress with a chiffon train, cut off to turn it into a minidress, with blue fishnets and white 80s high heeled sandals. Lorelei was wearing a vaguely 60s looking red dress with a keyhole in the front that basically showed her entire breasts whenever she turned to the side. And the fourth Young Professional, a previous housemate of theirs whose name I never learned, was wearing leggings too, and a great ridiculous furry Cossack hat.

The performance was anarchic yet entertaining, mainly because of the relaxed way they dealt with all the technical stuffups. Lorelei put it best when she said "We're the Young Professionals! We're really young! And really professional!" The unnamed fourth member played guitar for the duration. Lorelei nominally played bass but she broke a string before she'd played a note and had to pretend to smash it instead. They had a 'drum kit' consisting of a lone cymbal, kick drum and snare. Lorelei and Chimere took turns bashing on those and hitting drumsticks together going "1 2 3 4", cues which the rest of the band repeatedly ignored. And there was a keyboard which Hannah and Chimere took turns playing. All of them sang. And chain-smoked throughout.

My favourite song was their opening number, "Smug Man," which was fucking hilarious, particularly when Lorelei and Hannah had a free-verse conversation about "What do you think Smug Man would buy at Safeway?" and "What would you say if you saw him walking down the street?" "I'd say 'You're so smug, Smug Man!'" Chimere also performed a smoky rendition of their touching love ballad revealing their true obsession with The Darkness, called "Good Morning Justin". And they had a song about dancing that had a really good rhyme with "Take off your pants". And they closed with a cover of "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma". But they didn't come good on Lorelei's impetuous promise to play a cover of "Enter Sandman", which disappointed me mightily. Chimere dedicated one of the songs to me which I found both cool and embarrassing.

I left straight afterwards which I hope didn't seem rude. I just thought I should hit it and quit it rather than hang about not enjoying myself. All in all they have a great act, but the musical side of things was pretty thin. If they can get that together they would be like the Bangles meets Architecture in Helsinki meets Electric Six. Plus it made me realise I'm glad I moved in with them because this was further confirmation I have picked like-minded souls.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Synonyms for 'breasts'. At my work barbecue last Monday night, we were talking about what words we used to refer to breasts. The consensus appeared to be that girls called them "boobs" a la Erin Brockovich. I was the lone dissenter because I called them "tits" or even "titties" (too much ghetto tek I think!) According to Hugh, boys call them "cans", a term I'd never heard before, but alarmingly it was confirmed on Wednesday by Ben. Actually, Ben provided all manner of worrying glimpses into the male mind, none of which I can remember now.

But anyway, this got me thinking about amusing synonyms for breasts. These are some of my favourites:
- rack ("Check out the rack on her!")
- stacked ("My god, who would have thought she was so stacked?")
- boosies (usually used in an affectionate, faintly Freudian way, similar to "boobies")
- bazooms (from John Waters' Crybaby: Ricki Lake says "Our bazooms are our weapons!")

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Ways to stare into space. Yesterday I was in my old office, reading The Tipping Point, which I found really exciting but that's a whole nother post, when I noticed that Gemma was just staring into space. I said "Do you stare into space often?" She said "Yeah, a lot." And we got into a discussion of the different kinds of thinking we do while staring into space.

Mulling. This is when you have a logistical problem, like what you're going to wear to a theme party, or how to fit all the things you have to do into one day, or how to phrase that letter or story you were writing. You turn it over in your mind and try to find new ways of approaching the problem.

Brooding. This is when you think about issues in your life without really working out what to do about them. Nostalgia is a subset of brooding. So is imagining the lonely celibate years that stretch before you, filled with cats and poverty and bottles of vodka.

Fuming. Impotent rage. Last year I made a conscious effort to stop thinking in this way and change my conviction that rage was a positive and invigorating emotion. I stuck little notes on my bedroom mirror and my computer monitor that said "Rage demeans and weakens me." But still, I've been doing a lot of this lately, thinking about Kliger Wood Real Estate. Also about how much better my life would have turned out if I'd gone to proper university as an undergrad instead of RMIT.

Scheming. This is when you're plotting something. I usually scheme about my latest crazy plan, or alternatively how I can bring down my enemies. Usually bringing down my enemies involves a crazy plan. There is a strong fantasy component to my scheming.

Daydreaming. Benign, generally happy and amusing thoughts. This includes fantasies about repeatedly jumping on ugly ugly hats, thoughts about lying in the warm grass on an autumn day, and lovesick thoughts about what a great person your crush is, as opposed to mulling over how to approach the crush, scheming about seducing them or fuming that they don't realise you are perfect for them.

Cos I'm smutty like that. Today I was having a cup of tea and reading that fine local rag, The Melbourne Times. Anyway, I was highly amused by some of the classified ads for "personal services."

Take Pink Palace in South Melbourne, which promises No beer goggles required - All gorgeous. Or, for only $45 in Johnston Street, Collingwood, you can Come Pat the Pussy Cat … Any time … any day.

But perhaps my favourite ad is for Cromwell Heights of Cromwell Street, Collingwood ("For (discerning) adults only"). They have an unspecified new service, which they promise is 97% Guilt Free! So, how guilty did their previous services make you? And what about the other 3%? What unavoidable guilt might that be?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Incredible Melk: The Movie. More vintage email. In this one, from 2002, I fantasise about starring in my own hip hop movie. In case you're not aware, one of my pet projects is becoming a rap star called The Incredible Melk …

I'm thinking I would play the Melk of course, nobody else could do me justice except perhaps Reese Witherspoon or for that trashy booty ho look, Tara Reid. Or perhaps the chick who plays Michelle scully off neighbours. The plot would be that a mild-mannered Cultural Studies student gets trapped in a photocopying room with too much ozone in the toner cartridges, and gets endowed with stupendous rhyming skills and a superhuman ability to bust a move. Also she can make wry self-referential cultural comments. She has to take on the ferociously boring Prime Minister, John Ho'Ward and his cabinet of evil flunkies who want to introduce a GST on fun. The film culminates in a breakdancing duel between the Melk and John Ho'Ward at Woomera detention centre (sort of like the basketball court in White Men can't Jump, all asphalt and chainlink fence) and of course there'll be a mandatory love interest, perhaps a member of Ho'Ward's coalition whom the Melk turns 'street'. When the Melk wins she has a triumphant ticker-tape parade down Little Collins Street and becomes Melbourne University's Dean of the Fun Faculty.

Four of my crushes from 2001. I've been going through my old emails, and found this little nugget. Looking back, I'm somewhat embarrassed. NB: The one I got together with was Giles. We were so wrong for each other.

Kerry (29): Funny. Cynical. Workaholic. Graphic designer. Blue eyes. Wears little round glasses. Owns a workshirt labelled 'Jerry'. Lives in Little Collins St. Has a corner office. Thinks visually. Likes to dance to 70s funk music. Claims to be ambidextrous. Has broken nose four times. Drinks 14 coffees a day. Likes puns. Gets up 5:30am and jogs round city. Cuts own hair in front of TV. Smokes Marlboros.

Rohan (29): Fiendish. Talks big. Tufty thinning hair. Jewellery designer. Green eyes. Wears kilts dancing. Likes obscure 80s-90s dance music. Amphetamine freak: bought speed from bikie gang in Wantirna. Reminisces about great clubs and drug-addled benders in early 90s. Drinks 'Scottish breakfast' tea. Obscene showoff on the dance floor. Fascinated with guns. Obsessed with sexy women. Drives silver-green Barina, backseat crammed with junk. Lives in St Kilda.

Giles (28): Shy. Creates ambient electro music on analogue equipment. Works as market research interviewer. Grew up in Wagga Wagga. Blonde. Never wants to be married. Likes old-school hip hop and 80s indie (fav band Sigue Sigue Sputnik). Wears same pair of khaki New Balance sneakers every day. Has bad posture. Lives in grotty Nth Carlton share house. Wears Levis and layers of slogan t-shirts. Two pot screamer. Talks nervously.

Tom (21): Intelligent. Aimless. Six foot two. Has just deferred degree in public policy which he hates. Dark hair, green eyes. Chronic pot smoker. Lives with mother and two sisters in Surrey Hills. Fucked up by parents' messy divorce. Was fat: lost 20 kilos by smoking and not eating. Writes funny autobiographical short stories. Looks up to older guys as brother figures. Writes SMS messages with homie grammar. Always wears black. Nods sagely at whatever's said.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Totally freaked out. I've just realised who The Boy's ex-girlfriend is. I can't believe I didn't realise it before. I've actually met her several times. And I'm afraid. I'm very afraid. She engages intellectually with hard theory. She is politically active. And then look at me. No way I'm telling him now. I feel very small and foolish. I need a drink.

Hold the presses - Sprite is not lemonade! Today at work I was blown away by the revelation that Sprite is not lemonade; it's actually lemon-and-lime flavoured. Jane initially pooh-poohed the idea too, but Duncan, our Pommy import, said as 'evidence' that the label has two little circles, a green one representing lime and a yellow one representing lemon. And Virginia maintains it has a slighter sharper and more acidic taste than lemonade. I was repeating folornly "But it's clear!" But just now I looked up the Sprite website and not only are they little circles, they actually are lemons and limes! I can't believe I thought it was lemonade for like, 26 years.

But I still can't make the can disappear in my mouth.

Another spac attack. I guess I should feel honoured that my writing so often attracts the attention of what Shane calls "right-wing spazzos". Guess I should feel particularly honoured that the latest one comes from venerable blogger, Bulletin columnist and enemy of Media Watch, Tim Blair. You may recall some time ago how Tim got a reporter from the Chicago Tribune fired for plagiarism after he made up a quote about the Redfern riots. At the time, I thought "Way to keep the bastards honest, Tim!"

But then today I was writing an article about blogs for work and actually looked up his blog, and it's disappointingly reactionary. It irritates me that the 'criticisms' of Timbo's commentariat could have been addressed by the original article I'd submitted to The Age. Basically, I wanted my article to discuss the clash between irony, politics and commercialism that slogan t-shirts represent; and I had a second section that discussed the phenomenon of designer t-shirt labels, which I flagged in the introductory paragraph. But thanks to my editor's haste to capitalise on the Westco Incident, all this (including my comment that the Supré MD "knows that irony sells, especially to the teen girl-power crowd") was lost.

It puzzles me why I care if right-wing spazzos get my ideas, and it also puzzles me that I have such a burning need to defend cultural studies from people who think it's simultaneously arcane and superficial. And it pisses me off that all these criticisms always return to money: "I can't believe newspapers pay good money for this crap"; "I can't believe this crap is publicly funded"; "I can't believe people can make a living from spinning crap." I guess the answer is that crap is in the eye of the beholder. And right now I'm beholding Tim Blair.

Hey, I should do an occasional series about spac attacks, whaddaya reckon?

The Headtapes … continued.

Friday 2 April

Crazy In Love - Beyoncé
Yeah - Usher et al
a song of my own devising about the head of my department. It is totally tuneless and is called "Peter Otto". This is how it goes: "Peter Ot-to… Peter Ot-to…" (repeat until you laugh self silly and irritate Gemma)

Sunday 4 April

Misirlou - Dick Dale & the Deltones
You Don't Own Me - Leslie Gore
Black Cherry - Goldfrapp
Mad World - Gary Jules
All People That On Earth Do Dwell - hymn
The Distance - Cake
Pusher Man - Curtis Mayfield
Dance of the Hours - ?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Random observations over the last couple of days. If you blindfolded me, spun me around a few times, then led me into JB Hi-Fi, I would know instantly where I was. It's the smell.

One of my favourite spots on the female body is the little hollow just under the hipbone where the stomach joins the thigh. You can spot these on skinny girls wearing hipster clothing. Sadly I am too well-padded for this to be visible, but you can still feel the spot on me. I'm torn between wanting to lose weight until it shows, and being disgusted at myself for being sucked into a culture of normalising skinniness.

It's not a cliché - boys really don't know when a girl likes them. Last night I was telling Chris B that Saige sooo was cracking onto him, which is why I left 'em to it. And Chris looks intrigued and goes "Really?" He'd put her behaviour down to her being drunk and his being sober. Normally I don't like to subscribe to theories of gendered brain activity (like "women have poor spatial abilities which is why they can't read maps and park cars", "men are single-focused which is why they're bad at multi-tasking"), but I've never seen the following axiom fail yet: Boys think they're being really subtle when they're actually being really obvious; girls think they're being really obvious when they're actually being really subtle.

"Yeah" by Usher et al is a fabulous car-cruising song. I've heard a few hoons going past with it blasting, and all you can hear is Boom! - yeah! - Boom-boom! - yeah! You get the attention-grabbing bass, and you can identify it even though the car's gone in the next second. Genius.

Another scary dream… I hope I'm not psycho. Here's what I dreamed last night. There was an horrific tram crash in St Kilda near where McDonald's is. I mean, horrific on a mass bloodshed kind of scale. And it was like I was an instant replay and I could see two trams crash together at high speed again and again, mowing down hapless pedestrians and rattling passengers around inside like raspberries in a jar. There was this one guy crossing the road drinking a takeaway coffee, and then one tram hit him in the back just as he was taking a sip, knocking the cup full-on into his mouth and smashing him against the second tram. His head fell underneath it and burst like a grape. And I had to watch it over and over.

Then it took a weird Freudian twist as for some reason that made sense in the dream but not anywhere else, the victims were put in for gender reassignment surgery. They all sued the hospitals and some managed to get it reversed again. Now I have always detested psychoanalysis; I think its twin obsession with the unconscious and the phallus (or lack thereof) make it paradoxical: simultaneously hyper-determinist and anti-positivist. It insists that the Oedipus complex etc etc is always-already 'true', yet it never offers any 'proof' that the claims it makes can be borne out in 'real-life' situations, aside from some shonky case studies from fin-de-siècle Vienna. I think the inherent misogyny of psychoanalytic theory (feminine = lack, female patient = hysterical) makes it particularly ill-suited to feminist criticism, and I'm constantly amazed that feminists have taken it up with such gusto.

At the moment Gemma is reading Anti-Oedipus. I've never attempted it but I'm sure I would find it a rewarding read because it bags the shit out of psychoanalysis. Gemma tells me that for Deleuze and Guattari, psychoanalysis is a religion and indeed has many Judeo-Christian markers. But anyway, you can imagine how appalled I was to be dreaming about castration. That's two psychoanalytic whammies in one.

For better or worse, here's my t-shirt article in today's Age. Watch this space for my Neptunes article. Let's hope they don't butcher it like they butchered this one. I wrote 1000 words; they cut it to 700 and cut out almost all the quotes from my interviewees. Ahhh, the life of the freelance writer!

Friday, April 02, 2004

Trucker caps are dead! Long live trucker caps! Just read an interesting post about trucker caps at 85 George Street. Mel Gregg, my academic mate, wanted to write a paper about trucker caps as signifiers of some contemporary political climate. I deeply admire Mel because she's the sort of cultural studies powerhouse I could have become had I actually gone to proper university as an undergrad and learnt proper theory. She is the next Meaghan Morris. You read it first here.

Missy, Missy, Missy. I don't often go to concerts but I think I'll really kick myself if I don't go to Missy. But nobody will go with me. I asked Ethan, thinking "He will surely go!" and he said "Nah, she's only got like two good songs." I felt like saying "Okay number one, there are heaps more than two good songs; number two, she'll have back-up dancers, several DJs and a billion-piece band; number three, Fatman Scoop; number four, J-Wess (including the American-accented "most noted Australian since Steve Irwin")!" But I really can't be bothered arguing with Ethan; it always ends with me feeling like some dumbarse bimbo with no cultural capital, whereas he's all 'authentic'. Even though unlike him, I know that Kelis doesn't rhyme with 'jealous'.

On the topic of musical cultural capital, recently I've been spotting Oliver from my old work about town. First I saw him at the Outskirts t-shirt launch, then I saw him at St Jerome's. When I used to talk to him at work, he'd go "Have you heard of ______?" and I would inevitably go "Uhhh, no." And I'm so excited that I can now keep up with him in discussions about music. The only thing is that music is like a treadmill, you constantly have to keep listening, keep reading, keep buying or downloading. Sometimes acquiring musical cultural capital seems like such a huge and unwieldy project that I get overwhelmed by it. Most of the time, though, I really enjoy the process, and as you may realise, I'm starting to get academically intrigued by the mechanics of that process.

Back to Missy. Maybe Gemma will go with me. But she always pikes on things.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Foolishness. I just realised today is April Fool's Day. I've been so fucking overwrought by the dramas of moving house, which still aren't over. Apparently I forgot some food in the cupboard in my panic, and now I have to get the key back from the agent so I can collect it. Oh, and re-mop the floor, which wasn't clean enough. To think I bothered to wipe the skirting boards!

Here are some other lowlights of the House Drama…
- new housemates go out on Tuesday night and forget to leave key out for me
- one of my new housemates didn't know I was moving in until I called her looking for a house key; she'd been thinking about finding a new house cos their agent is fucking them around
- the old housemate hasn't even moved all his stuff out on the day they said he would
- At 10:40pm that night, having unloaded the majority of my stuff, I get a text message saying "Mel, stop! Do not proceed any further - there are problems with the lease"
- I get told by my now-ex-housemate that when it comes to bond, "our heads are on the chopping block" because my best friend's birthday party is the same night as the arbitrarily decided-upon Wednesday Cleaning Night and I say I can't clean that night
- At 7pm last night I get told that the carpet steam cleaners will be arriving at 7:30am today. My bed and some boxes are still in my room
- I get home from Penny's party at 1am and they have thrown away all my toiletries. No contact lens cases or solution; no shampoo; no toothbrush; not even the fucking shower curtain. After fruitlessly rummaging through bins in satin frock and hooker heels (charming image, I'm sure!) I send an enraged text message to ex-housemates saying "I hope you're not punishing me"
- I get up today at 6am with gritty contact lens eyes and shower crouched against the wall like a movie parody of a rape victim to avoid splashing the entire bathroom
- Heroically I manage to get everything out in time for the cleaners and even clean up the backyard an hour before the 11am house inspection. I return keys to agent. Housemate calls up about the food in the pantry (guess I assumed they threw that away, too) and the re-mopping

I have to get the key back, re-mop, and return the key, all before 5pm today. Better get cracking. I also have to back up all the stuff on my uni office computer (like emails proving delinquency on my supervisor's part in case I fail my thesis) and clear out all my books etc, because I have to move out of there too, by tomorrow. It is all so very very foolish. How appropriate for today.

The Headtapes … continued.

Tuesday 30 March

Red-Blooded Woman - (Curse you) Kylie Minogue
Toxic - Britney Spears
Touch of My Hand - (Damn you to hell) Britney Spears
Anthem - from Chess
Sherry - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack
From A Distance - Bette Midler
If I Were King of the Forest - from The Wizard of Oz
Yeah - Usher/Ludacris/Lil' Jon
Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra
California Dreaming - Mamas & Papas

Wednesday 31 March

Dirty Cash (Money Talks) - Adventures of Stevie V
Good Luck - Basement Jaxx featuring Lisa Kekaula
This Love - Maroon 5
I Miss You - Blink 182
Kiss - Tom Jones/Art of Noise
Kiss - Prince
All I Need Is You - Guy Sebastian
The Dogs Are Talking - The Angels
Jackie - Joanne
Ride - The Vines

Thursday 1 April

What Chu Want - J-Wess
No More (Baby I'ma Do Right) - 3LW
If I Only Had a Brain/Heart/Nerve - from The Wizard of Oz

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