Friday, July 30, 2004

Sequels... This time, it's personal. Maybe it's all that Weekend at Bernie's 2 talk. Maybe it was having Shane attempt to explain why he loves 2 Fast 2 Furious so much more than the slower and possibly also a little calmer original. But I've just been thinking about how noble it is that a film dares to call itself only Spider-Man 2 instead of, say, Spider-Man 2: More Wet T-shirt Action From Kirsten Dunst.

There are some truly stupid sequel titles out there, which are either puns on the word 'two' or add some extra element to the original that lets you know it's a sequel. Some I can remember off the top of my head...

Three Men and a Little Lady
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - I reckon it should have been called I Know What You Did Two Summers Ago
Ocean's Twelve
Teen Wolf Too
Die Harder
The Whole Ten Yards
Another 48 Hours

Further additions are welcome.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The limits of cultural studies. Gemma just came up with the idea of submitting an abstract to the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia conference about Weekend at Bernie's. Tom suggested we could link it into Caribbean zombie narratives, as the film takes place in a tropical island paradise. I said excitedly that it was carnivalesque. Tom added that we would have to coin a neologism like "necro-carnivalesque".

Tom went on thoughtfully that Bernie's death symbolises the corruption of the 1980s, and the two main characters' attempts to 'keep it alive'. "It's the ultimate act of passing: instead of passing off as white [Ed's note: or straight], you're passing off as alive," he said.
Gemma added, "And you could also talk about Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead!"
I said, "We could have a whole panel!"
Gemma said, "It could be called Weekend at Bernie's II!!" And she added, "And then you could contact Andrew Bolt about it! That would make his year, I think!"

This was all very jolly, except that I used to joke about writing a conference paper on the non-verbal vocalisations of Michael Jackson, and then it was accepted to the conference and ended up winning the award for best postgraduate paper, and then it was accepted for publication. So cultural studies is NO LAUGHING MATTER, people!

My grandmother's 88th birthday. Last night was the birthday of my only remaining grandparent. She has pretty bad dementia and, given I'm snowed under with academic work, a cynical voice in my head told me she wouldn't even know who I am so there was very little point in going. Except that it meant a lot to my dad that I went.

For a while now the rhetoric has been "this might be her last birthday" or "this might be her last Christmas", and so the stakes are higher for participating in cringeworthy family occasions. Like last Christmas, when my uncle cried. He was pissed, but it was still really awkward. And despite breaking her hip this year and blithely informing my dad that "I think I'd like to take up tennis again," Nan just keeps going and going like the Energiser bunny, ensuring a plentiful supply of such occasions for the foreseeable future.

So in a rare show of family solidarity, we all trooped out to the nursing home for tea and cake. Nan was holding court in the rec room in her wheelchair, wearing a plastic tiara remarkably similar to the one I wear in the publicity shots for my Fringe show. It was both ludicrous and strangely fitting.

She had no idea who any of us were, but seemed very pleased that we were all having tea and cake with her. It's a paradox of Nan's dementia that she no longer gives a shit about social niceties surrounding food and drink, and yet her etiquette is so ingrained that it'll probably be the last thing to go: you'll ask how she is and she'll say "Oh, very well thankyou. How are you?"

There are lots of considerations to make when giving presents to demented old ladies. No books; no jokes; everything has to be practical and offer visceral pleasure. Like, my mother found a card in a drawer that I really wanted to give Nan, but mum said she would't get it. It said, "Familiarity breeds contempt... and children." This year my dad's sister and her family gave Nan a jumper, and our family gave her a mohair knee rug.

I was quite enthralled by the extended unwrapping ceremony. Nan was quite taken with the jumper, pronouncing it "my favourite shade of blue." As for the rug, she said, "What a lovely scarf!" to uproarious laughter from the assembled family members. (Tragically, my mother likes to wear large pieces of mohair as 'wraps'. I think she sees herself as a glamorous bohemian.)

But the real hit of the night was the card from my aunt, uncle and cousins. Nan read it out loud (the tragedy is that she doesn't need reading glasses.) "Dear Mollie," she read, "Wishing you a very happy 88th birthday - oh!" aghast at how old she was. After reading the whole thing through once, she started again, and was no less shocked the second time when she got to the "88th" part, but this time joked, "I'm getting ahead of you all." There were third and fourth readings. My mother said, "I think there's a year's worth of reading material there." (This was a joke about an old Women's Weekly that someone had given Nan, that she referred to as "a new magazine" every time someone visited her.)

There's a real 'old' theme in my life at the moment. Last Saturday Penny's sister Lucy, who's a med student, was regaling us with the grim clinics she's conducting on her geriatrics round, called "Falls", "Memory", and "Continence". "Falls" involves pushing old people and seeing if they fall over. We were in stitches: I pointed out the irony that we might fall over laughing and piss ourselves. Was it a way for us to paper over the horrible possibility that the same thing awaits us in fifty years?

And only the day before yesterday I had been writing an article at work with the headline "Old is the new young", which was all about how baby boomers are refusing to think of themselves as getting old, let alone the financial and health realities that entails. Apparently French baby boomers are in such denial that gerontologists have given up on changing their attitudes and are working with kids.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The cat that drinks beer. I was very excited the other day to meet a cat that drinks beer. This cat's name is Xena and she is an Egyptian Mau. Apparently if you don't watch your beer glass, she will get into it. When I heard this, I exploded with laughter and said, "Get out of town! Pack your bags!"
Chris replied with comic dignity, "Her favourite beer is Coopers."
"Does she get pissed?" I asked excitedly.
"We've always caught her in time," replied Chris.

Xena the Beer Cat has just overtaken my last favourite cat, the one that would only eat Vegemite on toast.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Kelis concert was amazing! (Warning, nerdy fandom.) I wasn't prepared to get excited after the horrid letdown of last time (Gemma said in an email that she hoped it wouldn't be a "flashback"!! Genius!), although I condescended to drink a milkshake with dinner. I wasn't even excited when me and Gemma were waiting in the queue out the front of the Metro with all the other gay men, booty hos and their boyfriends. Although I was very excited at some of the fashions I observed: like the hot-pink tights with seams up the back, gold knee-high boots, all manner of trashy bling, and one booty ho had a ridiculous pink fedora hat. Actually there were quite a few ridiculous hats. Which reminds me - ooh! I want to buy one of those hats that's a cross between a visor and a beanie. It makes me quite cross actually - after observing a few people wearing these last Saturday, the cogs of belated trendspotting started grinding in my brain and I mentioned to Tash and Penny that these hats were in. Then what does Tash do - she buys one that very afternoon and gives it to Penny. Now it'll look like Penny was onto it first, especially as she hangs out with that self-appointed 'cool' Bourgie crowd.
Okay, so we got inside - the Metro is the perfect venue for a show like this. It was like something out of the opening scene of Honey - trashy R&B playing and people dancing on the sunken dancefloor beneath the largest mirrorball in Melbourne. In honour of the sheer trashiness of the occasion I was drinking champagne with raspberry cordial in it, which I observed this gay guy in a flat cap and waistcoat ordering. (More on him later.)
Me and Gemma quickly secured a good spot towards the front and middle of the dancefloor. We were standing next to the gay guy and his friends. I couldn't work out if they were hairdressers or fashion students, but you get the type - they looked like they'd put lots of time and thought into their outfits. The guy had a white Bonds t-shirt with a taupe waistcoat over the top, and lots of silver chains. He also had a black knapsack worn diagonally across his body with the bag at the back. He was with this Asian chick who had honey-golden hair done in loose curls. She had on a leopard-print top with a denim vest over the top, held together with two large diamante-encrusted safety pins. She had heaps more blingy brooches pinned to the vest, and marvellous diamante hoop earrings.
She made me feel ashamed of my relative dowdiness. I had dressed in ten minutes flat, for practicality rather than glamour. I was wearing a black ruched deep-V neckline singlet top, a knee-length denim skirt (cos of the pockets, so I didn't need a bag), black 3/4 leggings and yellow Converse All-Star sneakers. I also had on about six gold chain necklaces of varying lengths and textures, about the same number of gold bracelets and large dangly, vaguely round gold earrings. Gemma was even more dressed down because she had ridden her bike.
Anyway, so the support act, 1200 Techniques, come on. I particularly like their constant insistence on being "old school", given that at least one of the members was probably in nappies during the 80s. Also, I find DJ Peril really funny because he will never be seen without a hat, and makes all his friends call him Peril even though his real name is Jason. (Or something like that - a friend of a friend went to high school with him and likes to embarrass him by calling him his real name.) Also, I found it funny that two of the three members were wearing 1200 Techniques t-shirts. I couldn't work out if that was cool or really uncool to wear your own t-shirt, but it seemed uncool at the time.
I will say this - they were really tight as live performers, and they certainly got the crowd going, especially this guy in a singlet who stood out like dog's balls because a) he was dressed like one of Tony Mitchell's beloved subcultural hip-hoppers, and b) he was probably the only single straight man in the place. Oh wait, he had a friend with him. Anyway, he looked really deranged like he was on crystal meth, and jumped around howling things like "Do 'Karma'!" It was kind of embarrassing to watch 1200 Techniques do the whole "When I say 12, you say hundred" thing, but in the spirit of the night I put my hands in the air, like I just didn't care. It was really funny to observe how unimpressed bling girl was, though - at one point bag man observed her pouting and said to her "Are you OK?"
Then the DJ started up again while Kelis' band came on, and more and more people started to crowd onto the dancefloor. It started to get really smooshy (singlet man was grinding sweatily against me) and the guy with the knapsack started to get really narky because he thought people were shoving him. But they weren't - it was just that with his bag, he was the width of two normal people, and because the bag was black, people couldn't see it in the dark and assumed there was a gap behind him that they could push through. One of these people was the singlet guy, and the bag boy turned around and said aggressively, "Stop shoving me!"
"Hey man, I wasn't shoving you!" said singlet man.
"Yes you were!" said bag boy.
Singlet man muttered something abusive under his breath and bag boy challenged him to repeat it, but then appeared to realise he didn't want to get punched and went "Look, just forget about it."
But then one of bag boy's friends, this brunette with a camera, started screaming at singlet man to "Leave him alone!" Which was wonderful because the whole thing could have been defused, but she just made singlet man angrier. I was standing right beside them and I was worried that if there was a punch-on, someone would punch me. But eventually the problem was solved when all of bag boy's friends formed a human wall and bodily pushed singlet man about five rows back.
I'll skip now to the part where Kelis came onstage and - man - she was exactly how I'd imagined her! You know the cliche that performers always look 'smaller' in person, or a little different, or whatever. Kelis was amazingly beautiful and incredibly charismatic. Gemma and I had been discussing what she might wear, and we agreed it would be tight jeans and a cleavagey top, which was exactly what she was wearing. The top was black and see-through (underneath she was wearing a stripey bikini top) and had shoulder pads and little ruffly sleeves. The jeans were very pale denim with silver buttons and what looked like faux braces hanging down. And she had black patent sneakers. And bling! She had a marvellous diamond-encrusted watch, much like the ones I've been eyeing off in the Paint'n'Powder perfumery in Royal Arcade (I asked - they're around $200). She had a diamond bracelet and heaps of diamond necklaces, and in one ear she had two large diamond hoops and in the other a dangly mass of silver and mother-of-pearl.
We were about four 'rows' (but we were all smooshed together) from the front - I was just amazed to see Kelis actually in the flesh, right in front of me, and hear her sing and talk. Most of the songs she did were from Tasty, with a few from Wanderland and Kaleidoscope. "This is an old song, y'all probably don't know it," she said at one point. "I DOOOO!" screamed bag boy, who spent most of the concert taking pictures of her with his mobile phone. At another point some chick yelled "I wanna have your baby!" and Kelis laughed quizzically and said "Thanks, but how is that possible?"
I won't bore you with an in-depth analysis of the songs she did, but for me, the highlight was definitely "Milkshake", which predictably she saved til last, and stripped off her top to ponce about wearing just the bikini. Other highlights were "Keep It Down", "Get Along With You", "In Public" and "Rollin' Through the Hood" (which was a much better version than the insipid album version), and I wish she'd done more of "Caught Out There" - she just did the first verse and held the mic out to the crowd. The noise of "I hate you so much right now!" was just mink-blowing.
I was a little disappointed that she didn't do some of my other favourites like "Digital World", "Suspended", "Flash Back" and "I Want Your Love", but as I said to Gemma, she's here to flog Tasty and besides, the other songs are nasty reminders of her split with the Neptunes. At one point bag boy screamed, "Do 'Finest Dreams'!" and she said "I didn't know y'all got that out here" and sang just a little bit ("Oh baby you're the finest...") before saying, "no, no, I won't do that one." Overall, I thought it was more of a rock show than an R&B show, and that was reflected in the material she did.
Afterwards Kelis went to sign overpriced t-shirts and posters, but me and Gemma were buggered from standing in one spot for three hours (plus as Gemma said, "It's so embarrassing to get people's autograph"), so we went to Rian's beloved old workplace, the Welcome Stranger, where Gemma ordered a strawberry milkshake (!!) and cutely, the guy brought it out with the leftover milkshake in a little glass, which I drank. And we dissected the concert and all the people walking past, crippled from their high heels. Gemma's verdict: "It was the best concert I've ever been to." My verdict: "I agree."

I wish I had a personal assistant. And a research assistant. And an agent. And a personal trainer. The PA could handle my diary, book my appointments, organise my Fringe festival marketing. The research assistant would gather all my library books and journal articles for the pirate book chapter that is due on August 1 and that I haven't yet started. Is that normal, for people to write chapters in edited anthologies in a week? I've lost track of normality, given that it seems most academics write their conference papers at night during the conference, which is what I did last week with my Hollywood hobby bands paper.
Meanwhile, the agent would go in to bat for me at publishing houses to get my bogan book published. This would be especially useful, given that I no longer have any interest whatsoever in bogans or books thereon. The agent would also approach record companies and radio stations to make me a star. And the personal trainer would wake me up at 6:30am every morning and bully me into going jogging, and tell me to keep going when I felt too tired, and make me up a diet (the PA would go to the supermarket and buy all the food), and make me stick to it.
Together, this retinue would ensure that I would be free to concentrate on pure intellectual labour. Like blogging.
I have a terrible combination of personality traits: rampant laziness, low humiliation threshold, stubbornness, impatience, and feeling "nothing's done right unless you do it yourself." I think if I actually had this staff, my life would quickly descend into a nightmarish scenario of feeling resentful that these people can't do things the way I want them done, and embarrassment that they'd seen me at my worst.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Kelis wins. I have decided to go to the Kelis concert instead of competing in the karaoke grand final. I have been telling people this and they've been all, "Ohhh, I was going to get all my friends to go! We were really looking forward to it!" Oh well. I can do karaoke anytime.
On a related note, I went to Charlton's (Melbourne's pre-mere karaoke venue) on Friday night and began to get worked up into some Dionysian frenzy as they were playing all the homie hits as usual, and they have got heaps more up-to-date with their selections than they were the last time I was there. I was just paralysed for choice of what to sing, but I decided to do "She's Got That Vibe" by R Kelly and Public Announcement, just because I always longed to do it but they never had it before.
I had been out with Chris and his friends, except we went to a lame party full of architects. I tried to talk to them, I really did, but I'm so bad at going up and meeting new people. I got talking to two guys who looked approachable (opening line: "So, are you guys architects?" I was crushed when one countered: "Are you a journalist?" I was like, "How did you know?"). But I fucked up that conversation when one said, "What do you think the collective noun for architects is?" and I said, "How about a 'skivvy of architects'?"
Anyway, so me and Chris' friend Ricky (who, coincidentally, was the techie at VCA for the conference I went to this last week, and who, uncoincidentally, is totally hot, but taken, doh!) escaped and went to Charlton's. But Charlton's has now got a really hard-arsed door policy, which seems crazy to me because the whole POINT of going to Charlton's is that it's full of no-good drunks. Who do they think they are, Honkytonks? But anyway. The dude tried to stop Ricky going in by saying "How much have you had to drink tonight?" Ricky totally lied and said "About three or four pots" and then they said suspiciously, "How many of you are there?" and we said, "Um, two." So they let us up.
Then Ricky realised he had no money for alcohol and cigarettes, so he went downstairs to an ATM and when he came back, they wouldn't let him in at all. He said, "But I've got a song requested, and my friend is still up there." They said, "Go up and get your friend and then come back down." When he related this story to me I was like, "That's bullshit!" But he said, "I can't feel comfortable thinking they're gonna come up here and bash me." I thought they would hardly do that, but anyway, we had to go back to the lame architect party with our tails between our legs!
I am really worried about the state of karaoke in this city. On Saturday my other friend Chris has invited me to a Japanese-themed night of dining and karaoke. I'm not sure I'll go, though I'd like to catch up with Chris.

Marty, Marty, Marty. Last night I went to have a 'quiet drink' with Saige. After four glasses of wine at Kitten Club we went to Yoyogi where we had an Asahi with our toriteriyaki. Then Saige bullied me into going to this new ultra-expensivo pub in the crap end of Lygon Street. Seriously: I've never seen so much effort go into the preparation of a pot of Carlton. It was like an Oreo ad: first you rinse the glass in the special glass-rinsey thing, then you pour the beer, then you use a spatula to carve off any excess head, then you dunk it in cold water. Then you say "That'll be $3.20 thanks." Was I paying extra for the ceremony, or to hang out with the cream of Chapel Street? You be the judge.
But anyway. Saige said that her friend Marty had googled something and stumbled upon this blog, and been aggrieved at not being mentioned. Perhaps this is because I've met him about twice. Marty is a creative writer and recovering goth. He is hot and looks like Jack White. He doesn't like being referred to as Marty. Yay! Let's hear it for Marty!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Fat & Hairy Watch. Since my mother just won't stop going on about my having fat and hairy disease, I thought I'd make a semi-regular feature of her latest rantings. Today, she informs me that "I've done some more internet research on that condition, and I think that doctor you went to was wrong." Okay, I realise that it's wise to be sceptical of doctors and to seek a second opinion if you think there's something suss about their diagnosis, but my mother has turned my having this disease into something of a personal crusade.

Apparently my doctor, despite having gone through medical school, can't diagnose fat and hairy disease properly, whereas my mother can diagnose it infallibly, merely by Googling the testimony of fat and hairy Americans ("mah doctor told me it was nothin' to worry about, and then ah got really fat and hairy and they realised ah actually had fat and hairy disease. Oh ma lawd don't let it happen to yo daughter.")

Mel's Choice. Okay, I have been hiding under a rock for the last week. Writing songs for and rehearsing my Fringe show. Trying to write a paper for a musicology conference that started today, and instead spending hours examining before and after photos of celebrity plastic surgery. Trying to find a new housemate and build up new transparent trusting relationship with real estate agent. (Like, I actually called up the agent and said "As you know, we're getting in a new housemate and one girl has a cat. Is it OK to have a cat?" My workmates were aghast.) Trying to get broadband internet connected to my house. Trying to schedule blood tests and dentist visits.

So, none of this involved reading the street press or listening to the radio, otherwise I would have realised that the Kelis concert has been postponed to July 21st. Instead, me and Gemma showed up at the venue last night in our best finery, after exchanging text messages like "Missed my tram. will get along with you in 10 min." "OK just don't get caught out there." "I would be such a nerd to miss Kelis." And then we found out.

And do you know why it was postponed? Dumb old Missy Elliott! That's right - the woman who extorted $120 from Australian audiences for a crap show has, ironically enough, cancelled her "Hip Hop Don't Stop" European tour, meaning Kelis's touring schedule has been thrown out.

This wouldn't be much of a hardship, except that the rescheduled concert is on the same night as my karaoke grand final!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What am I going to do? I love Kelis! I've been looking forward to this concert for so long! Yet, I also love karaoke! And I could win my height in crappy teen girl drinks! There is no way I could go to both: karaoke starts about 9pm, and last Wednesday it went til about 1am. And Kelis starts at 8pm and the lady herself should probably get onstage around 10pm.

Some wags have suggested I go to karaoke and do "Milkshake". Opinion has tended to be that Kelis will come and go, but karaoke is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I tend to think otherwise: that I can do karaoke and drink dumb old girly drinks any old time, but how many times will Kelis tour?

Ohhh, whatever shall I do???

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Headtapes... continued.

Sunday 27 June

You've Got to Pick A Pocket Or Two - from Oliver!
Trick Me - Kelis
Dirty Vinyl Pusher - Mauro MBS Presents Seven Saturdays
Boom Sound - Capleton
99 Problems - Jay-Z

Monday 28 June

Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John
Put the Needle On It - Dannii Minogue

Tuesday 29 June

Diana - Paul Anka
Four to the Floor - Starsailor
Keys to the Whip - Disco D featuring Helluva and Lola Damone
Everytime - Britney Spears
Jive Talkin' - Bee Gees
Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
In the Flesh - Blondie
Vincent - Don McLean

Saturday 3 July

Don't Knock the Hustle - Jay-Z featuring Mary J Blige
Naughty Girl - Beyoncé
Need You Tonight - INXS
Little Red Corvette - Prince

Sunday 4 July

Echo Beach - Martha and the Muffins
Hotter Than Her - The Incredible Melk
Step By Step - New Kids on the Block
Cherry Pie - Warrant

Monday 5 July

Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner
Now You're a Man (Theme from Orgazmo)
Heaven's in the Backseat of My Cadillac - Hot Chocolate

Tuesday 6 July

Heaven's in the Backseat of My Cadillac - Hot Chocolate
Chocolate - Kylie Minogue
Through the Wire - Kanye West
Knock Knock Who's There - Mary Hopkin
Turn the Beat Around - Gloria Estefan

Wednesday 7 July

Turn the Beat Around - Gloria Estefan
Push Up - Freestylers

My karaoke triumph!! Last night was my Extreme Karaoke semi-final. I still hadn't decided what to sing when I got there. I'd narrowed it down to three songs: "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson, "You're the Voice" by John Farnham and "Cherry Pie" by Warrant. Earlier I'd toyed with "Need You Tonight" by INXS but discarded it because it wasn't spectacular enough.

The judges were Dave Callan the bearded Irish comedian, and the Vodka Cruiser guy, who was the sort of mildly sleazy Aussie bloke you'd imagine as the editor of a men's magazine. No Igor from Big Brother - very disappointing. The DJ organised us into groups of five, and there were five rounds. I was in round four.

Some standout contestants: the dude who did "Addicted to Love" with pelvic dance movements; the chick who did "It's Oh So Quiet" with wonderful Björk-style screams; a taxi driver (I shit you not - he was wearing his uniform) who did "Rebel Yell"; the chick who did "Work It" by Missy Elliott; this guy who looked about 15 who I dubbed the "Rock Hobbit", who did a white-hot screeching rendition of this song by Black Sabbath? Deep Purple? I think it might have been called "Give Me Your Love" or some such, I didn't know the song but the crowd did and was very excited.

There were also some bad contestants, like the chick who didn't know how "Groove Is in the Heart" goes - like, how can you be aged 20-30 and not know that song inside out? Also, this chick who did "I'm Outta Love" by Anastacia - she even donned a pair of tinted glasses. Then there was the dude who did "Khe Sanh" wearing a witty outfit of manga t-shirt and camo combat pants. (Maybe it wasn't intentional.) He was just boring. Then there was the middle-aged bogan with a ginger-coloured 'fro-mullet, who did "Working Class Man". Of course. Then there was the dude in the burgundy slacks and batik print shirt ("I saw Kamahl wearing that outfit on Bert the other day," commented Dave Callan) who did "Dancing Queen". That was really bad.

Controversially, there was also a rap duo who did "In Da Club" and just started freestyling, which was awesome, but not really in the spirit of karaoke - especially considering duos were not supposed to be allowed in the finals. According to the applause-o-meter, they got into the grand final, but there were also boos; I'm not sure if someone else got to go.

Let me also describe what I was wearing. I sensed a need to dress 'rock', even though that's not really my scene. I had my hair in a high ponytail. I was wearing shiny red lipstick and my silver crucifix earrings. I had my black "Collingwood Boxing Club" t-shirt and red ra-ra miniskirt with my black silver-studded belt and wide-mesh fishnets and black boots. Oh, and a ridiculous single fishnet fingerless glove that went about to mid-forearm on the hand I used to grip the mic.

I would just like to say here that I dedicate my performance last night to Shane, the Karaoke King, who doesn't let a complete inability to sing rob him of his throne. I pulled out all the stops. I exhorted the crowd to hold up cigarette lighters. I shook my fists - oh, how I shook them! I did an air-bagpipes solo. I held the mic out to the crowd so they could "make a noise, and make it clear." Towards the end I unleashed my hideous Axl Rose yowl, eg: "understaaaaand it! Make a noiiiiiiiizzzzze!"

Anyhoo, so I'm in the grand final which is not next Wednesday but the one after, that is Wednesday 21 July at 9pm at the Laundry. You should come and witness the fitness.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Adult drinking is very bad. Yo, I got a real ID, though! I went to the doctor today to try and find out why I've been feeling like crap for the last couple of weeks and finding it really hard to get out of bed in the mornings. Also because my mother just won't stop going on about my having polycystic ovarian syndrome (aka fat and hairy disease) and I need to silence her.

The good thing is, the doctor said I probably don't have fat and hairy disease. When my mother heard this she was outraged and called for a second opinion, saying, "That's not what the doctor I talked to said!" I was aghast at the idea that she had actually consulted some doctor behind my back, to which she said impatiently, "Oh, I didn't say it was you," which totally seems beside the point to me.

The doctor also asked me about my lifestyle habits. She said, "How much do you drink a week?"
I said, "Well, I don't usually drink during the week - I would only drink on Friday and Saturday nights." ("Except when Saige entices me on a bender.")
She said, "How many drinks would you drink a night?"
"Maybe seven." ("Oh, it depends. Last Friday I was feeling sick so I only drank a longneck. But on Thursday I can't even remember how many beers I had. Maybe about four or five pots. And then a pint. That's seven standard drinks. And Saturday I had two cocktails containing vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and white creme de cacao, plus a tequila shot, totalling seven standard drinks, before I even left the house.")

The doctor looked steadily at me and said "Well, we would define seven drinks as a binge. It would be better if you either had just one or two drinks a night, or drank less on Friday and Saturday nights."

And I nodded obediently, but inside I was going, "How the fuck am I going to cope in social situations without being able to get pissed?" And that seems to me to be the worrying issue. I laugh at the way that my mother can't understand why I enjoy being pissed, but really there is no logical reason.

I sometimes think to myself, "Yeah, a drink would go down really nicely about now." And I enjoy being drunk, or tipss as I texted Lucy that time (my SMS went, "One, here come da 2 to da 3 to da 4, Lucy not tipss so she miss out on da floor."). I always feel in control of my behaviour when pissed, but I enjoy the way it gives me licence to speak and behave in ways that I always want to but repress because I know people would think me even stranger than they already do. And I pretend afterwards to be sorry about things I said or did when pissed, but secretly I'm not. That's just between me and you, internet.

For example, I would love to be able to be more affectionate and tactile with people, but I feel really funny about hugging and kissing my friends. But alcohol provides an excuse for me to do that kind of stuff, and apologise later if it freaks people out. And I think alcohol brings out a confiding thing that I enjoy. People think I forget stuff they tell me when we're pissed. But I don't. And of course, the only time I have the guts to flirt with boys I like is when I'm pissed. (The weird exception to this was The Boy, but that panned out the same way all my crushes do.)

Frankly, I just don't know how I could relate to people socially if I didn't drink. I would be even more crippled by my own perceived humiliation than I am already. I don't think I'd ever have a good time. I came out of the doctor's surgery feeling really depressed, and wanting a drink. And that's what made me realise - I always thought the benchmark for alcoholism was when you couldn't get through the day without drinking, but really, how much further away from that stage am I?

Come and witness my karaoke prowess! Yes, tomorrow (Wednesday) is my Extreme Karaoke semi-final at the Laundry on Johnston St, Fitzroy. I still haven't decided what song to sing yet, and I'm starting to get really nervous about it. Last night I dreamed I was trying to tell the DJ what song I'd chosen and I couldn't remember.

This could be dismissed as pure dream paranoia, except that a very similar thing happened the week before last when I wanted to call my editor at the SMH about that stupid gay footballers article (which was actually in the paper on Saturday but I can't find it anywhere online, so I can't link to it). I called up the Herald switch but as the receptionist said hello, I realised that for the life of me, I couldn't remember the editor's surname.

So I said, "I'm after a section in the Saturday paper."
The receptionist said, "What section?"
I wanted to say "Spectrum" but I couldn't remember that name either, so I said, "You know, the one with the articles in it."
She said, "What sort of articles?"
And I couldn't remember the word "features" either, so I said desperately, "You know..."
"No, I don't," she said tartly.
"Ummm, kind of artsy articles and interviews and stuff..." (I was going to liken it to the Saturday Extra section in The Age, but I realised this would mean nothing to her.)
It was getting pretty embarrassing when in a blinding flash, the word "Spectrum" came back to me and mercifully she transferred me.

It was like that time on The Simpsons when Homer, deprived of his subliminal vocabulary-enlarging tapes, forgets the word for "spoon" and refers to it as a "tool used to dig food". Homer also once told his son Bart that "the doctors thought I might have brain damage." Bart replied, "Dad, what's the point of this story?" to which Homer responded, "I like stories."

And with that self-deprecating, circular segue, I'm back at my original point - tomorrow night's semi-final! It starts at 9pm and people will be judged on the cheer they receive, so please show up and cheer for me. Yaaaaay! you'll cheer. Yaaaaaaay!!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The earring economy. I've always been fascinated by the informal ways we transact everyday objects in the public domain. Two main sorts of objects are pens and cigarette lighters. Not that I've ever studied economics, but I like to think of these as economies.

Here's how it works. One person might ask to borrow the object from another person ("Has anyone got a pen?" "Can I borrow your lighter?") and then forgets to give it back. But I think it's also part of the economy when you find the object abandoned or forgotten somewhere, and say, as might Burglar Bill in perhaps my favourite children's book of all time, "That's a nice pen. I'll have that!" And that way, you always have a supply of the objects and can afford to 'lend' them to other people without expecting to get them back.

of course, this economy isn't really self-sustaining because someone always has to subsidise the supply, i.e. buy the original pens and lighters. I suppose they're often given away free as advertising for bars and universities and pharmaceuticals etc, or stolen from workplaces. But anyway.

Then there are things you 'lend' to people without ever expecting to get them back; indeed, it would be ridiculous or offputting to get them back. Like pieces of paper and tampons. In these contexts, the language of borrowing is used to suggest the reciprocity of the transaction: the idea that if you ever needed those things yourself, the recipient would be happy to give them to you.

But, and in typical Mel fashion of reaching the point of my story after much sidetracking, on Friday night I was having a drink with Saige at St Jerome and noticed a single earring sitting on the seat behind me. It was a mother-of-pearl disc. Saige said I should pick it up and disinfect it with Dettol and adopt it as my own. This is what Saige did when she found a single earring abandoned in one of her tute rooms. She'd just watched Purple Rain and been inspired by Apollonia's single-earring 80s look.

Anyway, because I'm a) constantly losing one earring and b) constantly identifying ridiculous fashion trends, this seemed like a godsend, and I started wearing one earring, usually my silver Madonna-style crucifix. But then on Friday, Saige said, "Hey, I'll swap you my single earring for that single earring." And I suddenly was struck by what an interesting economy that would be.

See, it'd be slightly different from the other economies, and not just because of the potential for spreading communicable diseases through sharing pierced jewellery. Look at it on a purely conceptual level. Saige prefers mother-of-pearl discs to dangling pearls suspended on tigertail wire (the construction of the earring she found), and if enough people participated in this economy, it would become a pure economy of cultural capital, i.e. a direct exchange of taste-signifiers rather than the usual exchange of cultural knowledge for money and money for taste-signifiers which through this exchange become cultural-capital-signifiers.

And there's another aspect which would be particularly delicious to someone like me who romanticises random pop-cultural detritus as significant and even fateful. Unlike the pen economy, for example, in which objects are transferred between people without leaving traces of their ownership, the original owner of your earring would become your unwitting twin: linked to you by the shared taste that leads you to like the same jewellery. And imagine if it were a really unusual earring, the sort that would be instantly identifiable.

Of course, mass production somewhat negates that last delicious possibility. But even in symbolic terms, if you see someone wearing only one earring, of a kind that you know you lost some months previously, you'd have to wonder if it were yours.

Like many of my ideas, this is by no means original: for example there's BookCrossing, the system by which books are circulated in a somewhat organised but essentially random fashion through the internet, which I hear they have on computers these days. But while BookCrossing likes to think of itself as an anarchic book club for the discussion of literature, it's the issues of fashion and taste that interest me.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Good news for fare evaders. Yesterday I was reading the Hez and found this story. Basically, Met inspectors hate their crappy job so much that they wag and go see Shrek 2 and loaf about in cafés. I don't blame them! But it makes life easier for me as a dedicated fare evader.

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