Saturday, November 19, 2005

Extra! Extra! Council may be staffed by human beings!

Subject: contesting infringement notices
From: Mel
Date: Wed, October 12, 2005 3:33 pm
To: City of Melbourne

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to contest parking infringement notices 101010101 and 010101010, plus any subsequent notices issued to my vehicle xxx-xxx. These notices were issued for offence number 701 - but as I will explain, I am unable to move this vehicle.

This vehicle was involved in a collision on Saturday 8 October. Afterwards I drove it to Thar She Blows* Accident Repair in North Melbourne. During the drive I observed that the impact to the front right wheel had seriously impaired the car's suspension system, twisting the steering wheel and making it difficult to steer. There was also a strong smell of burning oil and mechanical friction, which was remarked upon by Joe Blow, Director of Thar She Blows Accident Repair (9xxx-xxxx). Joe advised me not to drive the car unless strictly necessary.

I have spent this week dealing with insurance companies, lawyers, panel beaters, etc, all around my normal working hours. I have not yet determined whether I need to obtain repairer quotes for the damage to my car. I cannot afford to have it towed, and in any case, I do not yet know where to have it towed to. There is no off-street parking near my house where I can store the car in the interim. Two other members of my household already hold the maximum two permits.

I contacted Melbourne City Council in a state of distress because there is nothing I can do in the short term to avoid more parking infringements. The parking Duty Office advised me to contest the already issued infringement notices and to place a notice in the windscreen of my car instructing parking inspectors not to issue further notices. I hope you will also have the common sense and compassion to retract the two notices already issued to me.

I can be contacted at this email, or on mobile 04xx-xxx-xxx.


Mel Under-Whimsy.

Subject: Parking infringements: 101010101, 010101010 & 001001001
From: City of Melbourne
Date: Mon, November 14, 2005 3:21 pm
To: Mel

Dear Ms Under-Whimsy

PARKING INFRINGEMENT NOTICE NUMBER: 101010101, 010101010 & 001001001

Thank you for your letter about the above parking infringement notices. Your comments have been considered and it has been decided to withdraw the notices.

This office wishes to advise for future reference, however, that it is the responsibility of the motorist to ensure that their vehicle is mechanically sound. A vehicle that is ‘mechanically sound’ does permit a motorist to leave a vehicle parked in contravention of the Road Roads - Victoria.

The City of Melbourne will not continually withdraw infringement where there is an ongoing mechanical problem, future infringement notices issued under similar circumstances will not be withdrawn.

* Names may have been changed

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I do not work in advertising. Today I was cleaning out my room in preparation for moving house, and I discovered all sorts of treasures, including some assignments from my days at RMIT. One of these I would like to share with you. It was for my third-year Copywriting Workshops class. I majored in copywriting. Here is the creative brief:

Client: Thermotek
Remove dints and scratches and chips from cars; detail your car inside and out and respray the car, for $1000. They do all this in 24 hours. They can match any colour. Gives your car "a new lease of life". They have about 12 branches.

Target Audience:
1. Someone with a reasonably valuable car in poor condition, which they would like redone so they can sell it.
2. Someone whose car is starting to look a bit tatty, but they don't want to sell it.

Main Benefit
Give your car a new lease of life.

Local press, radio.
I came up with three campaign concepts. The first one was like, you know how you show the client something outrageous first to make them more receptive to your other ideas? I went on a field trip to a now-defunct South Melbourne agency, and they showed an ad for fruit-flavoured condoms which consisted of a guy sucking himself off with the line, "Eat more fruit." We were aghast and said, "How the fuck did you get that past the client??" They just smiled and showed us a concept sketch of a guy with half a kiwifruit stuck up his arse.
OK kids! Thought it'd be fun to be unemployed - now it's time for you to work for that dole!


You, Simon! You're on interior detail! Start making those car seats spick'n'span!

But -

And Brett, don't think you've got off easy! Start buffing away those scratches from the paintwork!

But I'll be here forever!

We said we'd have this car looking like new in 24 hours, and we will!

But -

You've got a problem, put it in your dole diary! And Anna, fire up that respray gun! We haven't got all day!


You may wonder how Thermotek can afford to give your car a new lease of life for only $1000. The answer is: don't ask. Just call 1800 THERMO for your nearest outlet.

Insulin schminsulin! Get back to scrubbing the windscreen!
I still think that would have been a winner. But I was pipped on the night by Chris's radio ad, which ended with him shouting in a monster-truck rally voice, "Thermotek THERMOTEK THERMO-TEHHHK!" Chris designs websites and t-shirts now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prelude to a song which is a prelude to a dance which is a prelude to a kiss. Yes, I am guest posting on my own blog, courtesy of the power of show tunes. I am fascinated by the spoken prelude to the songs. This came about due to a completely wasted opportunity to burst unexpectedly into song, embarrass a friend and reference a film. On Sunday I was at a magazine meeting and the only people there were myself, Nicole and Jeremy. We were idly chatting while we waited for the others to arrive. Here I will abandon you to the script, as it should have happened. I think you'll be able to guess where reality stops and fantasy takes over...
Did you ride your motorbike last night?


Good. I was worried about you in the rain. I thought you might crash.

JEREMY (darkly)
I'm glad someone is thinking of me.

MEL (sensing opportunity to freak JEREMY out)
Oh, don't worry; I think about you plenty of other times, too.

JEREMY (disconcerted)
You do?

Oh yes. You see, Jeremy...

(sung) Each morning I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

NICOLE joins in the singing.

Forever and ever
You'll stay in my heart and I will love you
Forever and ever
We never will part
Oh how I love you
Together, together
That's how it must be
To live without you

Would only mean heartbreak for meeeee...

Music continues under

JEREMY (spoken)
You really think about me during your morning routine?

Of course I do, Jeremy. But that's not all...

(sung) I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you...
Et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, in the real version of events I destroyed the conversation with the lame declaration, "I think about you plenty of times," to which Jeremy merely said, "Oh-kaaaay..." making me look like a lame weirdo and not the Dorothy Parker-esque mistress of bons mots you all know me to be.

For me, the best part of the fantasy is the spoken prelude and interludes. Another of my favourite exchanges is from The Wizard of Oz:
(sung) She brings you good news, or haven't you heard?
When she fell out of Kansas, a miracle occurred

(spoken) It really was no miracle; what happened was just this:
(sung) The wind began to switch, the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch
Just then the witch, to satisfy an itch
Went riding on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch

(spoken) And oh, what happened then was rich!
I'm sure that some writing on musicals (perhaps Feuer, The Hollywood Musical or Altman, ed, Genre: The Musical - the latter text itself sounds like a show title, don't you think?!?) will analyse the diegetic and affective uses of the transition from speech to song, but somewhere I heard the maxim that in the musical, ideas and emotions that can't be expressed in words are expressed in song, and those that can't be expressed in song are expressed in dance.

To this I would add that often in a musical's key romantic sequence, the dance or duet builds towards a jouissant kiss that temporarily renders both parties incapable of speaking, singing or indeed doing much other than clinging to each other and staring into each other's eyes. The number finishes soon afterwards, although sadly never with one protagonist rolling over and going to sleep. (But then I haven't seen very many so-called postmodern musicals...)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I'm not going to be blogging for a while. It's making me unhappy, and I am unhappy enough, what with being po', having no job, no car, no house, no sex or love life, and a conference paper about fucking hipsters to write. Today was really the last straw. Hopefully I will write some more when I am feeling less miserable.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oh, I want to write like Jack Handey!

Gather round children, and I'll tell you my wisdom. That's right darling, hand Auntie Mel another Smirnoff Black Ice. There's a good lad. The other day I was walking down my parents' street, which I haven't done for years because I used to have a fucking car, and I passed the house where, about twenty years ago, an old lady yelled at me. I don't remember why - perhaps I was picking a flower from her front garden or some other childish whimsy. (This habit dies hard - every time I go to the local shops I make a point of getting some jasmine from a plant that overhangs a fence at the edge of an alleyway. Plus I picked some a while ago on the way to a magazine meeting and put it in my jacket buttonhole. Jeremy tucked it behind his ear. That was so fetch.)

It occurred to me that I would like to give children advice on how to stand up to adults who yell at them for no good reason. Don't these people remember what it was like to be a kid, to think things were rad and ace (words that I've noticed have morphed into the adultescent 'awesome'), to have innocent motives and to have your future spread invitingly ahead with all sorts of greatnesses and pleasures awaiting you? Just look at them with bewilderment as your eyes fill with tears, and go, "I'm only a little girl/boy. What did I ever do to you?" Hopefully then they'll feel really petty and ashamed that they're taking their rage out on a small child whose only crime is to remind them of the disappointments life has dealt them.

Other musings in my recent period of carlessness include that when a woman makes a point of saying she dislikes another woman, it's reasonable to suppose she actually feels threatened or jealous; but when a man says he dislikes a woman, it's reasonable to suppose he actually wants to fuck her. This realisation surprised me, because I want to think my hatreds are sincere and justified. But perhaps I dislike people because they remind me of my own shortcomings, and it reasserts my control over the situation to dislike them rather than feel inferior to them or humiliated by them.

And finally in my musings, I would really like to excise psychobabble from ordinary conversation. People think this jargon helps them talk about their feelings, but I think it really obscures them and renders people inarticulate. Words and phrases I would like to get rid of include:

relationship (most people assume this means a romantic or sexual relationship, but all it means is the way people situate themselves among other people and their environment)
headspace (and other metaphorical 'spaces', eg "I'm not in a good place right now")
just let it out, aka vent;
man-free hole and boy-free zone, which are 'spaces' to which my female friends always seem to retreat, right before they get it on with one or more men.

Surely we can speak frankly? Surely we ... gah, pass me another Smirnoff Black Ice, kid.

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