Friday, January 28, 2005

The pigs, the fuzz, the po-lice. Last night at about 10pm, Tash and I went into the city on a postering run for Welcome to the Jumble. It has been such a busy week for us, and we were what my mother would call "over-tired". For some reason, we started talking in shonky Irish accents, which sounds really lame now I'm typing it in the cold light of day, but was richly hilarious at the time. Tash can do Irish Grammar much better than me - I lapse into Pirate. But anyway.

I'd say stuff like "How many posters are we having left?"
Tash counted them. "...Turty-one, turty-two, turty-tree!"
Then after we finished sticking them on the pole at the corner of Little Bourke and Swanston St, Tash said, "Are there any more poles?"
"Let's check on Elizabeth St, to be sure, to be sure," I said.

We got back to the car, and I noticed a couple of milk crates sitting on the street. We decided to pilfer them to use in the jumble sale. Nobody stopped us.
"It's the perfect crime!" Tash crowed.
We were still congratulating each other on the perfection of our crime as we drove along Elizabeth St, Tash loudly singing "Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes, when we spotted a cop car going in the opposite direction.
"It's the pigs, the fuzz, the po-lice!" said Tash.
We started joking about what we'd do if they stopped us: "Oh hello, officer. What have we been doing tonight? Well, first we did some illegal bill postering and then we stole some milk crates. How has your evening been?"

We knew there was another pole near the Vic Market, so we were cruising looking for a parking spot. "How about just here?" said Tash.
I had just pulled over and turned the engine off when I looked in the rear-vision mirror and noticed it was full of cop-car lights.

Let me just say that my three biggest fears while driving are, in order,

1. Damaging another car.
2. Getting pulled over by the cops.
3. Injuring or killing myself and others.

All I could think was: "They saw the crates in the back seat! Why didn't I put them in the boot!"
We started to have one of those ludicrous, whispered 'let's get our story straight' conversations that only ever takes place while people are waiting for a cop to get out of his car and walk over to the driver's side window. "We'll just say they're from my work," hissed Tash.
"Right, right."

I was starting to sweat like, ahem, a pig.
The cop was young. (Tash said afterwards that I should have gone, "Listen here, young man - don't you know that I'm old enough to be your... older sister?")
"Hello," said the cop, "do you know why I'm stopping you?"
"No," I said innocently.
"Well, your licence plates have come up as stolen."

As you can imagine, it was somewhat of a surprise to be told you've stolen your own car. He took my licence and asked my address, which I accidentally fucked up by saying the street number of my last house with my current street name, because I was so nervous. Then he came back and had a look at my registration sticker, which expired last July. I had the current one in the front of my diary, but the task of putting it on my windscreen had always got away from me. Tash fixed this up while the cop went back to his car, apparently convinced that I was masterminding a sophisticated auto-theft ring specialising in 1985 Camrys. You could call it "Gone in Twenty Minutes".

Then it came to me in a flash what had happened. You see, when I was living on Flemington Rd last year, a car whose license plate started with NWA had rammed the front of my car while retardedly attempting to parallel park. I worked this out thanks to my many years of Law & Order watching, because the burgundy paint embedded in my front bumper matched the scrape of missing burgundy paint on the back bumper of the car. This car had left my front licence plate dangling by one screw, so I tucked a passive-aggressive note under Eazy E's windscreen ("Please do not ram my car. I do not earn very much money and cannot afford to repair it.").

I mentioned this to my housemates. The next day, my housemate called me at work and said, "Hey, you drive a red hatchback, don't you?"
"Yeaaaaah..." I said.
"Dude, I think your licence plates have been stolen!"
So I called up the cops and told them that I thought Eazy E had stolen my licence plates as revenge. But when I got home, I realised that my housemate had got it wrong, because there was another red hatchback parked out the front with no licence plates. I called up the cops and explained the mistake, and we all had a big laugh.

Fast forward to last night. The cops obviously hadn't taken my numberplates off their stolen list. Damn, to think of all the shonky semi-legal things I have done in that car. They didn't even mention the milk crates.

Tash declared that from now on, my car's motto should be "Stolen plates, and plenty of crates!"

That was only the second time I've ever been pulled over by the cops (except for booze buses). The first time was about a week after I got my licence. I was going to a party and you have no idea how much I had to beg my parents to be allowed to drive. My mother was all "You've only just got your licence!" and I was like, "Well, this is exactly why I got my licence!"

Anyway, so they finally gave me the keys to the Volvo. Not the sedan that didn't go backwards (oh, the stories I could tell!) because someone else had gone out in it, but the station wagon that made a horrible squealing noise whenever I braked. Problem was, my P-plates were in the other Volvo. But my mother wouldn't let me drive without P-plates. So, in a fit of pique, I made some P-plates from bits of paper by drawing a big P and colouring in around it with a texta. But I couldn't find a red texta, so I used hot pink.

I was giving someone older and more sophisticated, who I wanted to impress, a lift home from the party, and I was really embarrassed about the brakes squealing, so I would do little bunny hops on the brake to minimise the noise. Anyway, I bunny-hopped through a stop sign while turning left onto a main road. One minute later, a cop car started doing that little abortive siren thing they do when they want to pull you over.

The cop was a big beefy ocker. "Do you know why I'm pulling you over?" he drawled.
"Um, I don't know," I said. I didn't want to mention the squealing brakes in case he booked me for driving an unroadworthy car.
The cop looked thoughtful. "I would describe your driving," he said, "as ordinary."
After a few minutes of lecturing me, he spoke to his offsider, a younger cop. "Is she displaying P-plates?"
The younger cop pondered my handiwork, unsure how to answer. "Ummm, yes."

For at least a couple of months after that, I stopped diligently at every stop sign I came to. Didn't last long, though.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More vintage mixtape action. The other day I finally cleaned out my car. This is a completely momentous act as I had been driving around with the boot and back seat crammed with crap since I moved house in April last year. One of my discoveries was a plastic bag full of cassette tapes, which I have been listening to nostalgically, alternately wincing and nodding sagely at my previous tastes in music. So, seeing as my post about Smash Hits 88 went down such a treat, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights from my early music compilation career.

Pump It Up 1990
Recorded by Mel off the radio and illustrated with a picture of a man wearing a hot pink jacket with lime green pants, and a woman wearing a lime green crop top and hot pink bike pants, Collette style. I used to own a pair of shiny neon pink lycra bike shorts in 1990 and would wear them as casual wear, thinking I was da shit!

SIDE 1: From Take 40 Australia with Barry Bissell
Show No Mercy - Mark Williams
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Technotronic Megamix - Technotronic
Doing the Do - Betty Boo
Bust A Move - Young MC
Jukebox in Siberia - Skyhooks
Night and Day - U2
Groove Is in the Heart - Deee-Lite

SIDE 2: From American Top 40 with Shadoe Stevens
Cherry Pie - Warrant
I Can't Stop How I Feel - After 7
My Love Is a Fire - Donny Osmond
George Michael Megamix - George Michael
Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
(added in 1999) Drink My Bile (Lick It Up) - Piss, Shit & Vomit

I should note that Piss, Shit and Vomit was my abject concept band whose songs were all about bodily functions. "Drink My Bile" was a soul/funk song. It went:
You say that you don't want me no more
You stray, then threaten you'll walk out the door
You smile, lookin' oh so proud and so slick
This time, I think that I'm gonna be sick

Drink my bile, lick it up
Drink my bile from a vomit cup
Drink my bile, I'm gonna let you
Drink my bile, cos I'll never forget you baby

You were the sexiest man that I'd seen
With time, you took me places I'd never been
But now, you're tired of me and you wanna have her
You're the man I wanna throw up all over
I came up with the idea after musing that the Hottest 100 was dominated by novelty songs full of swearing and dick jokes. Think "When I Was a Sperm" or "Short Dick Man" or "Detachable Penis" or the Murmurs' "You Suck".

So I reasoned that Piss, Shit and Vomit would get a lot of airplay on Triple J. I spent a lot of 1999 working with this guy Michael McClintock, who I never see anymore, on recording the various tracks. We were about halfway through when we lost contact, so this half-finished tape recording of "Drink My Bile" is the only record I have of all that wasted creative energy.

The other tracks were:

"Ain't No Carrots (In My Spew)" - a pop-rap song a la "Bust A Move", with vomit SFX
"Love You Like a Loo Lolly" - melodic indie-pop: "I hate you, I love you, so why don't I piss on you?"
"Get It Out" - sounded a bit like Faith No More: "They're more likely to appreciate you now/When they have to wipe their faces clear of your phlegm"
"Skidmark Undies" - melodic indie-pop, inspired by a real-life pair of underpants found among the detritus of a party: "No-one can name them, and no-one can claim them/But whoever it was couldn't really aim them"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Adopt a baby. As some of you will know, I am a big fan of the bogan baby names in the Herald Sun births column, and I like to sing "Bogan babies, bogan-bogan babies" to the tune of "Allouette". Anyway, the Canberra Times obviously understands me perfectly because last week they released a special calendar-style liftout called Babies of 2004. This was an illustrated, annotated list of ACT babies born in 2004.

When I got into work on Monday, everyone had picked out (or been allocated) a baby mascot.

Sophie B: Emil Pascual Nils Rivera Jonsson.
Sophie V: Nicolas Andres Gonzales.
Jane: Harrison Ray Hadley, wearing a fetching cowboy hat.
Lucy: Isabelle Mary van Wijk, wearing an alarming Little Mermaid-style bikini top. Big cups to fill!

Lucy actually threw Isabelle away because she was so disturbed. But I really like my baby mascot. He makes me smile every time I get into work and see his name, the caption and the picture, in which he has these sticking-out ears and a look that says "I am very confused!"

Anyway, my baby is called Leroy Caruana, nickname: Chumpy Chump Chops. The caption says:

Chumpy chump chops, you rock our world!
Sorry, your mum made me say it Leroy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Welcome to the jumble! This Sunday, I would like to invite you to one mother of a jumble sale in the trendy back streets of Fitzroy. It is a fundraising event for Is Not Magazine, a new and thoroughly mink-blowing publication that I am co-editing. There will be books, CDs, clothing and bric-a-brac, all carefully selected to appeal to the sophisticated postmodern tastes of inner-city hipsters. And because I know that Savers has totally spoiled you, it will be cheap.

For other entertainment, there will be music, baked goods, a BBQ, and a raffle for a framed McSweeneys dust jacket signed by graphic novelist Chris Ware. There will also be a schedule of rewards if you donate to the magazine. We are still debating the idea of a kissing booth. Jeremy flippantly suggested we should offer a "suck'n'fuck for $50," but I'm certain we could charge a little more than that.

For more details, see the Is Not Magazine website.

Fitzroy will not see anything like it for quite some time.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The aesthetics of men's t-shirts. This morning I was looking at the picture of Paris Hilton and Courtney Love that adorns my fridge, thinking "What is the aesthetic limit of the clothed female breast?" Like, how much boob can you reveal before the onlooker can no longer sustain his/her curious or fevered speculation about what the naked breast would look like? What looks best: a wide-necked top with the boobies peeking plumply over (what they call the 'balconette' look); a narrow and deep V revealing the cleavage and the rounded inner curves of the tits; or simply a relatively low top that reveals only the cleavage? And so on, with lots of other possibilities. The things you think about while waiting for the kettle to boil.

After I realised just how much time I devote to thinking about tits, I began to wonder, as I periodically do, if heterosexuality is that compatible with being a tit-woman. (On Saturday, someone politely asked me if my crisis of confidence over my sexual attractiveness is a sign of my latent lesbianism.)
But then I said to myself, "NO! This is purely aesthetic! Let's face it: the female body is nicer to look at than the male body."
Continuing my internal dialogue, I interrupted myself: "But think of all the time you've spent analysing what makes a man look good in a t-shirt."
"You're right," I answered. In fact, Nerdy Blog Night had provided an excellent opportunity for this, because several men had been wearing the same t-shirt.

So now to How I Like Men in T-Shirts. Let me just say that for simplicity's sake, I am referring to men of any build, except when it interferes with the line of the t-shirt and forces other aesthetic considerations (like, manboobs or a gut would force a looser t-shirt, as would really big muscles).

1. We meet at last, Meester Bond! The t-shirt must not be one of those tight raglan Bonds t-shirts, which I don't find as interesting because they reveal too much of the body and hence, are beyond the 'aesthetic limit', or what I will call the 'curiosity threshold'. They are worn actually to show off the body, and apart from the fact that Bonds t-shirt-wearers are more likely to be gay, I prefer to work out what the underlying body looks like through more subtle means. The loose raglan t-shirt is okay, but a poor substitute for a 'proper' t-shirt.

2. The cut of his jib. So, how should it fit? Well, think again of the curiosity threshold. The t-shirt must not be so baggy that it obscures the shape of the wearer or hangs from his shoulders as if from a hanger. But nor should it be so tight that it grips his biceps and armpits and pulls across his chest and stomach. It should be a little loose all round, just enough to sit flat against the top of the chest and the upper back, hang nicely and look comfortable and unwrinkled. Yet it should be fitted enough to suggest that there is a nice body underneath, even if there isn't.

3. The long and the short of it. In hip-hop circles it is apparently de rigueur for your t-shirt to come down to your knees. I really do reject that. At the same time, some men (particularly the young and buff) wear their t-shirts short enough to reveal their stomach. I have a weakness for this and find it very distracting; sort of how I suppose it must be for a man to have to converse normally with a woman with spectacular headlights. I think there is a happy medium. When his arms are by his sides, the shirt should sit below the hips. Then when he lifts the arms, the shirt will rise to just above the waistband, revealing a glimpse of stomach. The self-conscious man can wear it longer; but the fabric of the t-shirt will determine how good this looks. Stiff t-shirt fabrics generally look better longer; softer ones look better shorter.

4. A few tricks up his sleeve. T-shirt sleeves are very important! Again, only the young and buff, like my 18-year-old brother, can get away with very short sleeves - the kind that sit at an angle. And so far, Shane is the only man I know who can get away with cap-sleeved t-shirts. The seam between sleeve and body should sit on that hollow spot between the end of the collarbone and the end of the shoulder, erring towards the end of the shoulder. The sleeve should end about the middle of the biceps, and the arm should almost, but not quite, fill the sleeve.

5. Giving me the hot shoulder. By far the sexiest thing about a man in a t-shirt is the way it sits across his shoulderblades and upper back. It is so nice to watch him moving through a crowd or reaching for something in a well-fitted t-shirt. There is a lovely collection of illustrations by Chong on the wall at my work, of various staff members at their computers, drawn from the back. Looking at the male ones illustrates my point very well. The t-shirt is too tight if it pulls across the back; but it's too loose if you can't make out the shoulderblades through the fabric.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Silence! Here's something for all you fans of Oh, Streetcar! and Stop the Planet of the Apes: I Want to Get Off! Check out Silence! Silence of the Lambs: The Musical. I just love Dr Lecter's poignant "I want" song, "If I Could Smell Her Cunt". Then there's Buffalo Bill's number, "Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket":
It rubs the lotion on its skin
It does this when it's told
It rubs the lotion on its skin
Or else it gets the hose
And when it's done there's one more thing
A simple little task, it's:
Put the fucking lotion in the basket.

Nerdy Blog Night: Mel asks the tough questions. Before it gets long enough ago to be completely irrelevant, I would like to make a few comments about Nerdy Blog Night. It was exactly as I had feared. All the sexy and popular bloggers sat down the front, where Clem Bastow and her tousled consort had staked out a booth. The unglamorous and unpopular lurked down the back or hovered shyly in the half-darkness of the dance floor. Thankfully, the manslave was not brandishing a sign, although there were name tags. I wouldn't have wanted to be the bar staff - after a few hours, it looked like there'd been a ticker-tape parade in there.

Everyone was all "Is Ms Fits here yet?" "Have you seen Ms Fits?" and "Are you Ms Fits"? When Fits finally showed up, the manslave introduced her to me and she squealed and hugged me. It was gratifying and she seemed very nice, but still, I was irritated at myself for buying into all the Fits idol worship.

My conclusion was that I am deeply ambivalent about Nerdy Blog Nights, and would hesitate before going to another one. Unlike the manslave, I don't actively cultivate online networks. The biggest pleasure of the evening for me was talking to people I have met in real life but more often encounter through their blogs: for example, Guy, Elanor, Adam, Joseph, Virginia, Angus, Anita and the Whitebait.

Yeah, I had a good time. But I left earlier than I could have, because many people I'd wanted to talk to had left, and I was starting to feel nauseated by the sexual desperation I could see blossoming around me. Did I mention that two of my New Year's resolutions are not to be so much of a boozer as I was last year, and to leave parties as soon as I start to wish I was somewhere else?

Now, to the tough questions:

Which blogger claimed to be "totally in", not only with another blogger, but with Lily the "hot bar chick"?*

Which blogger also put the moves on Lily the "hot bar chick"?

Which blogger enjoyed half-price drinks all night?

In an interpretive dance to "Rock the Casbah", which blogger was the jet pilots?

Which blogger was the minarets?

Which blogger shares my trashy musical taste and knows all the words to "Ice Ice Baby"?

Which blogger is much more attractive in real life than in photos, and bears an uncanny resemblance to two guys I had a crush on last year, including The Boy I was painfully in love with?

Which blogger initiated a marvellous re-enactment of the campy West Side Story-style knife-fight dance sequence from Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video?

Which blogger did I go to primary school with?

Which blogger was mad at another blogger after an instant messenger tiff earlier that week?

Which blogger gave another blogger what could loosely be described as a "blowjob" in the disabled toilet, between fits of uncontrollable laughter?

Which blogger lives around the corner from me?

Which blogger cleared the dance floor by requesting "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew, followed by "Cover Girl" by New Kids on the Block? (The same blogger later requested Beck's "Hollywood Freaks", which also cleared the dance floor.)

Which gay blogger was clearly up for some action with members of the opposite sex?

Which extremely hot and unattainable blogger attacked my right breast with a sticker reading "Nice Pair"?

Which blogger came back to my house and stayed until 3pm the next day?

* I wish Ruth had been there to mock all this bar staff picking-up. But let's get something straight: Lily has a devastating combination of hotness and friendliness. Everyone thinks they're in with Lily. Some are more correct than others.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I am still a fare evader! Dammit! On my way to Nerdy Blog Night last night, I was thinking idly, "Ha, how funny would it be if I got busted by Met inspectors right now?"

Unfortunately, I got busted by Met inspectors.

What makes me mad is that I squandered my opportunity to say my triumphant line, "Because I'm a fare evader" when asked why I don't have a ticket. You see, I thought I did have a ticket. I bought one on New Year's Eve before discovering public transport was free that night. But when I tried to produce this ticket, I couldn't find it anywhere, and it occurred to me that, duh, it was in my other bag. Crap!

So I was totally reduced to scrounging through my bag looking for this ticket while the Met inspectors and the other passengers all stared at me, and being made to feel humiliated and disempowered, when instead I could have exulted in the role of "fare evader" and thus handled the incident with agency and dignity.

You know, what I really can't stand about Met inspectors is their inability to be straight with you. They ask you these rhetorical questions, the purpose of which is to make you incriminate yourself. Like, they'll say "Did you validate that ticket when you boarded the tram?" when it's obvious to everyone that the ticket has not been validated. Providing evidence to be used against you if the matter should come to court is only the secondary purpose of this exchange. The primary purpose is to interpellate you as a criminal subject; to make you name yourself as a wrong-doer. I like to circumvent this despicable practice by naming myself as a fare evader.

And though both you and they know a fine is winging your way as soon as they ask for your name and address, they deflect questions like "So, am I going to get fined?" with bullshit about "reporting the incident", when they might as well just swipe your ATM card then and there. Disguising the economic nature of the exchange with bureaucratic rhetoric is intended to make you feel both falsely hopeful and powerless: hopeful because your fate 'may' be decided by someone else in an office somewhere; powerless because this process will take place entirely independent to you.

Now I tried to play their game once, before I became a hardline fare evader. You see, the previous night I'd had my handbag on the front seat of my car and braked suddenly, spilling its contents over the floor. I picked them up in the dark, and then next day when the Met inspector asked for my ticket, I couldn't find it anywhere and was reduced to humiliating bag-searching. When I got home, I found the ticket on the floor of my car.

I was so mad that I went to the police station and did a statutory declaration explaining all this, and sent it off to the Met enclosing a photocopy of my ticket. It was a monthly ticket that expired in two weeks or so, so it's hardly as though I could have bought it after the incident.

But of course, this is an entirely false bureaucracy. They are only interested in your money; and they make the rules to suit themselves. You know how trams "running on time" is defined as "one minute early and five minutes late"? Pretty shonky when some trams are scheduled four minutes apart. And they're even allowed to fail to meet these self-serving guidelines 20% of the time before you're entitled to compensation. And then only people with monthly and yearly tickets are entitled to compensation. Kinda reminds me of the Howard government's definition of "employed": "working one hour a week".

So pretty much, my efforts to prove my good intentions were completely irrelevant. I had to pay the fine anyway that time. This is because the infinite variations and circumstances of everyday life have as little to do with the revenue-raising imperative of the Melbourne transit system as the ethical, communal responsibilities implied by the term "public transport". The pseudo-privatisation of public transport has completely muddied these waters, because it legitimises the pursuit of revenue while cloaking it in customer-service rhetoric. Meanwhile, Melburnians' right to an affordable means of transport that respects their citizenship and common dignity get completely overrun.

Kinda reminds me of the un-mutual nature of the Howard government's "mutual obligation". Let me just paste in a paragraph from my thesis here:
Under government and media scrutiny, the neo-liberal state turns all social transactions into capitalist systems of exchange. The Howard government has done its best to stamp out trade unionism and its troublesome collective bargaining; and has introduced the notion of ‘mutual obligation’ into the public sphere. As Ghassan Hage argues, neo-liberal mutual obligation is not mutual at all. The state becomes a mere service provider; but its services require ethical reciprocation. While it gives its citizens material benefits, “that is enough to ask us to give back not only equally quantifiable labour and productivity but also faithfulness and gratitude” (Hage, “Ethics” 34). The role of the [fare evasion] discourse in this context is to transform neo-liberal capitalist exchanges into such moral and ethical exchanges. The figure of the [fare evader] becomes twofold, because it refuses both the [economic] and the ethical obligations that the neo-liberal state foists upon its citizens.
And do you know what else? They were in a big intimidating gang, as usual, and one chick tried to escape them by getting off the tram. I distinctly heard one Met inspector say, "Let's get her!"
I turned to the one who was busting me and said disgustedly, "Did I just hear someone say 'Let's get her!'?"
His female companion said, "No, they said 'Let's get off'."
Yeah, whatever. "Well, I wouldn't like to think you guys were hunting people down," I said, very deliberately.

As long-time readers of this blog would know, I was busted for fare evasion on September 6, and I thought I was pretty damn clever at the time because I hadn't got round to putting my change of address label on my driver's license, so the notice would've been sent to my old address. The manslave assured me that if their infringement notices get returned to sender enough times, they write the fine off, but then I was informed last night that instead of this, it just goes to a higher and higher authority, with more costs being added every time. So now, not only do they have my current address so they can sting me for that, but I get fined more because it's a second offence.

I am really going to cry when the bill comes in the midst of my Comedy Festival poverty, but no way am I going to submit to their stupid regime of buying tickets on public transport. I am a fare evader - and proud of it!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Experience a lifestyle of difference unlike any other. I was really irritated today while making myself a cup of tea. Liptons helpfully advised me that I could add milk to my tea, "for a latte experience". This seemed achingly absurd to me, as I thought back to the latte experience I'd had this morning putting milk on my cereal. Is this Liptons' attempt to link tea with the urban cosmopolitanism commonly associated with coffee? If so, it's just so insane, considering that for the West, drinking tea was once the height of cosmopolitanism! And to think I thoughtlessly guzzle 5-10 cups a day!

I know this topic is so very 2004, what with all those books. But let's flash back to the mid 1990s when I was in first year uni, thought Gill Sans was da bomb, sniggered whenever the name Walter Gropius was mentioned, and used a funny machine like an overhead projector with a hood draped in black fabric to make my layouts bigger and smaller. (Does anyone else know about this machine?)

My first-year Client-Based Projects lecturer was Brian Rock, who I heart to this day. Brian was a preppy American with floppy Hugh Grant hair and tortoiseshell glasses. He was also one of the department's only cool staff members, along with Pete Seal the marketing lecturer, a dishevelled, permanently caffeinated Brit. Perched on the teacher's desk, his skinny legs crossed like a Muppet's, Pete delightedly informed us that marketing was "a ship; and it's the fucking Titanic!" He lost his job a year or so later.

But anyway. Brian told us that the three stupidest words in advertising, which we must never, ever use, were "experience", "lifestyle" and "difference". People pepper their campaigns with these words because they seem to mean everything, in the sense of capturing something glamorous and ineffable; but in fact they're absolutely empty and mean nothing at all. While I can't say that this blew my mink, I never forgot this, and I've noted the phenomenon with much irritation over the years, especially when it advertises Delfin housing developments.

Looking back on this after several years of cultural studies, I still think Brian was right to a certain extent. But what strikes me is how cultural theorists have fastened on these "empty" words, showing how they're not empty at all, but perform very specific social/cultural functions that are all the more effective because we're often unaware of them. I'm reminded here of a wonderful alphabet of epigrams from various cultural theorists, which I read this afternoon.

I began to think while writing the most problematic chapter of my thesis, the one on The Castle, Kath & Kim and consumerism, that in the way they're deployed in contemporary Australian advertising, terms like "experience", "difference" and "lifestyle" are very specific and, I tried retardedly to argue, politicised by concepts like "aspiration". I didn't come to a particularly satisfactory conclusion in the thesis, probably because I think this idea deserves an entire thesis to itself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What not to call your lingerie shop. I've just been doing some dodgy web-surfing. Cigarette companies, feminine hygiene products, hair and makeup brands, lingerie shops... Yes you guessed it, I'm looking for sponsors for my show. I feel kinda bad about asking for money from cigarette companies, but have tried to rationalise it in the following ways:

1. They will be most likely to sponsor me because of their otherwise limited promotion.
2. Their money will be going to a good cause (my rather funny and smutty rap show).
3. Stuart is smoking a cigarette in every photo of him I use in the show and on the website.

But anyway. I was really struck by some of the names that lingerie shops see fit to give their establishments, given my fondness both for puns and for that Late Show segment on Stacks of Slacks, the Bolt Bloke, etc. Here are some of my favourites, which I have awarded various Booby Prizes (although some could win in multiple categories). I've actually culled down the original list, omitting ones that are merely dumb, like Margie's Boutique of Lingerie and Corsetry in Tweed Heads, Serenety [sic] in Morphett Vale, or More Than Bras in Toowoomba.

The Mona Vale Award For Worst Pun

Booby Traps (Mona Vale, NSW)
Nothing Butt...Lingerie (Mona Vale, NSW)
Dawn's A New Beginning Fashions (Kalbar, QLD)
Lace of Hearts (Dandenong, VIC)
Petticoat Junction (Eltham, VIC)
Daze & Nites (Caloundra, QLD)
Bold As Bras (a WA chain)
Breast Dressed Lingerie (Round Corner, NSW)
Big Girls Don't Cry (Anymore) (Fortitude Valley, QLD)

The Kath Day-Knight Award For Provincial Swinger-Style Creepiness

Hong Kong Lingerie (Wollongong, NSW)
No Regrets (Inverloch, VIC)
Fatal Attraction Lingerie (Forster, NSW)
A Whisper of Lace (Tuncurry, NSW)
Horsham Undercover (Horsham, VIC)
The G Spot (Gympie, QLD)
Stripped (Seymour, VIC)
Prima Ballerina Behind the Mask (Penrith, NSW)
You Really Are Beautiful (Fairfield, NSW)
Naked Leather (West Burleigh, QLD)

The Carry On Award For Slap'n'Tickliness

Innuendo Lingerie (Brighton, SA)
Tops & Bott's Lingerie (Holt, ACT)
Foxy Lady Lingerie (Berri, SA)
Between the Sheets Lingerie (Bendigo, VIC)
Horizontal Tango (Maroochydore, QLD)
Panties & Pearls (Prahran, VIC)
Fishnets and Fascinators (Queenscliff, VIC)
Lisa's Lacies Larger Size Lingerie (Seaford, VIC)
Cuddles & Curves Lingerie (Denhams Beach, NSW)
Abigail's No. 96 (Bundall, QLD)
Sassy Lassie (Queanbeyan, ACT)

The Tara Reid Award For Too Much Information

Colleen's Post Mastectomy Connection (Phillip, ACT)
Bumfloss G-Strings (St Kilda East, VIC)
Kissable Knickers (Mt Hawthorn, WA)
Ragg Denn & Unmentionables (Numurkah, VIC)
Snappy Legs (Malvern, VIC)

If I had a lingerie shop I would call it Cheap Frills. What would you call yours?

Terror, yo, on your stereo. Heh. I gotta use that line in some future Incredible Melk freestyle. But anyway. The other day I was talking to Marty, who is making an unofficial list of pop songs with stalker meanings. As you'll all realise, there are few things I like more than lists of stuff (oh yeah, the Headtapes will soon be back!). Marty's key example is "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5, which he claims has a creepy inevitability - she won't be able to get away, she will be loved!

I added some obvious paranoiac examples like the Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes" ("they're watching you/they see your every move"). And then there's "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone Loc, which is, it occurred to me a couple of years ago in a blinding flash, a song about date rape drugs:
This brother told me a secret on how to get more chicks
Put a little medina in their glass and the girls'll come real quick
It's better than any alcohol or aphrodisiac
A couple of sips of this love potion and she'll be on your lap

But then just today I thought of another great one: "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" by Billy Ocean. I don't know about your mum, but mine warned me about stranger danger.

I have recently rediscovered an old cassette called "Smash Hits '88" which has this song on it, along with countless other gems. All killer, no filler! Except perhaps the Mel & Kim song, which can perhaps be forgiven as Mel was fighting liver cancer at the time (unsuccessfully, it turned out. Cruel capricious cancer - you took Mel, but left Delta!).


WANNA BE UP by Chantoozies
SIGN YOUR NAME by Terence Trent D'Arby
GOT TO BE CERTAIN by Kylie Minogue
DOCK OF THE BAY by Michael Bolton
THAT'S THE WAY IT IS by Mel and Kim


RUN TO PARADISE by Choirboys
The FLAME by Cheap Trick
The ONLY WAY IS UP by Yazz and the Plastic Population
PERFECT by Fairground Attraction

Monday, January 10, 2005

A weekend of kisses. On Saturday at Ray, Emah was telling me her theory that when we kiss someone, we aim for the right side of the face for a friendly kiss and the left side for a sexual one. When I recounted this to Tash later, she agreed with Emah, but I rejected the theory because I'd read in NW or some equally reputable social psychology journal that it's more like handedness: we instinctively incline our heads one way or the other, and in finding partners, we seek out people who incline heads in the same direction. As I recall, NW had some compelling annotated pictures of celebrity couples to back up this theory.

I myself always tend to go for the right side (which appears as the left to me), because that's just what feels natural. When I was telling Marty about this theory today, he said "Well, I always go for the left cheek." Marty also had an interesting theory on how people avoid unwelcome amorous kisses. Instead of pulling the head back, a move that simply embarrasses both parties, you should lean forward and deflect the unwanted kiss into a hug, or perhaps into a more platonic cheek-kiss.

But on the weekend, I decided to do some fieldwork. I would observe the number, placement and accompanying body language of kisses I exchanged with others at various social events. As my by-now-seriously-chipped-red-nail-polished fingers darted over the keyboard, I couldn't help but wonder: when it comes to kissing, which side are you on?

Over the course of the weekend, I received sixteen kisses by ten people, 5 male, 5 female. I can't remember if I hugged people as well. I should add that I am very bad at initiating displays of physical affection towards my friends because of my constant fear of humiliation, and usually accept proffered kisses rather than kiss people myself and risk embarrassment. Case in point: the time Emah tried to kiss her housemate's cheek, missed, and kissed his neck; or when you miss the cheek but get what I call the "cheeko-moutho area", that zone just near the corners of the mouth that could give the other person the impression that you meant to kiss them on the lips but chickened out at the last minute.

Of the weekend's kisses, only one was initiated by me, and that's because I know the person in question is liberal with social kisses and I would otherwise be perceived as rude by him. Another kiss was mutual because I knew in advance that this person always greets me with kisses.

But of the weekend's kisses, I think I only touched the other person's cheek with my lips twice, which reflects my deep fear of social humiliation. I'm always afraid I'll be too sloppy, or leave lipstick. Usually my compromise is to air-kiss them (ie go 'mwah' close to the cheek), or simply touch my cheek to theirs.

The kisses were from a variety of different positions. Mostly I was standing opposite the other person, but sometimes I was standing kissing someone sitting down; sitting down being kissed by someone standing; leaning across a table to kiss someone; kissing someone sitting to my right; kissing someone standing to my left.

I also noticed some variation in what I do with my hands: sitting down I usually don't do anything with them, but when standing I'll sometimes do the old arm-touch, and sometimes the waist-touch. Marty thought the waist-touch was pretty intimate, and in fact I do sometimes use it on someone I'm trying to pick up; but the two people I waist-touched over the weekend were the two frequent social kissers I mentioned earlier.

As for the embarrassment factor, that stemmed mostly from being taken by surprise by the kiss, or from scenarios in which several people were being kissed hello or goodbye and I felt socially compelled to join in, even though I felt I didn't know the others well enough to kiss. Then there was what Canadian Kim called the "Montreal style", or the double kiss. This caught me out twice over the weekend, because I assumed it was over after the first kiss, and then had to go back in for the second one, which was embarrassing.

And as for Emah's theory, I have to say that every single person who kissed me went for my right cheek - even the double-kissers went for the right, then the left. So I can't really disprove Emah's theory, except perhaps by a second experiment in which I initiate kisses that all go for the left cheek.

Titties galore. On Friday night, Penny asked if I could do her a favour. I was expecting her to ask something like if I could rummage in the twelve bags of garbage behind her house for an important document that she thinks she might have thrown away, but instead it was to drive her to the laundromat the next morning, after which time she would buy me a slap-up breakfast at Ray.

Magnanimously, I accepted.

On Saturday, two coffees and a french toast later, I was in the middle of drawing a diagram on the back of an old envelope to explain Tash's boobs when Tash walked up and said hello. It was the most amazing 'speak of the devil' I've encountered in some time. Hi Tash, if you're reading this. You know, it's been a really booby weekend. That morning, Penny's house guest was reading her copy of Vogue which has a guide to plastic surgery in the back. We were talking about how crap fake tits are, because in profile they're too round on top and not round enough underneath. They look okay in bras, but very freakish when naked.

My theory of boobies, as outlined on the back of the envelope, and now enshrined on Penny's fridge, is that the key is in the rounded underside of the boob; the top surface should be straight. The real litmus test is how the boobs look in a low-cut top with no bra. As for the cleavage, it shouldn't look too top-heavy or too pushed together; you should just get the shadow of the inner curves of the tits. Penny calls it the Jennifer Aniston look. Well good luck Jen: you'll need those tits now that you've kicked your husband to the kerb for the outrageous suggestion that you might like to have kids now you're in your mid-thirties and he's over forty. Let's face it baby, you've had plenty of chances to make 'serious movies' and what did you make? Stuff like Along Came Polly.

Anyway. And then last night, Penny inadvertently flashed her tits down the hallway to her house guest. Such hospitality.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

T-shirt spotted in the city today. "Gardeners do it with hoes."

Well, I've been having anice holiday: shopping, reading books, drinking shitloads of coffee and loitering about in cafes and bars. But a visit to the ATM today told me that this lifestyle must soon come to an end. I had this foolish idea that, being employed part-time, I would continue to get paid over the holidays. Apparently my employers see me as a casual, ie they pay me only for when I work there.

The most worrisome thing about this is my impending Comedy Festival show. It is going to cost a lot of money that I just don't have. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to raise $4000 by March - does anyone know any contacts at suitable sponsors (corporate with a sense of humour, fashion retail, anything really) who could help me out?

The other option is a lot of freelancing, which is not the most efficient way to raise money, seeing as it involves a lot of research and cultivating new editorial contacts, seeing as most of the people I used to deal with have moved on. I guess I haven't got much choice though.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Job ad spotted in the Herald Sun today.

I passed this valuable opportunity on to Bo, who is not only an expert boner but a superhero known as The Boninator. He only snickered. Such little gratitude.

Why you should come to Melbourne Grogblogging. The manslave has asked me to blog about this, and I'm doing so purely out of (un)housemately affection. You see, I am somewhat ambivalent about this event, which basically consists of bloggers and blog-readers in Melbourne getting together, drinking alcohol, roaring their blogging roars, gnashing their blogging teeth, rolling their blogging eyes, and showing their blogging claws.

I'm worried that the Melbourne blogosphere can be divided into Celebrities and Nonentities; and IRL (oh, the nerd-words just keep piling up, don't they!), into Hot and Not. There's nothing wrong with the manslave's bid to be the "Darp in the South"; but that's cos he's both well-known and pretty. I am neither. I can't banish the thought that people would only be disappointed to meet me in the flesh.

On New Year's Eve, aka Grogblogging Round 1, several bloggers expressed the same anxieties that their blogs were not well-known enough, or that they were unprepossessing in person. This is bollocks, and is no excuse for not showing up at Grogblogging. We must create a critical mass of non-celebrity bloggers.

So come all ye faithless:

Date: Friday 14 January
Place: Bourgie, 397 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne (near corner Hardware Lane)
Time: from 8:30pm

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

When do you start to feel, at home? A couple of nights ago I didn't get a very good night's sleep because I was tormented by a moist, rhythmic slapping noise that sounded for all the world like a guy masturbating. It sounded so loud I actually sat up to check if my bedroom door was open. It wasn't. (Oh boy, I'm so looking forward to checking the referral log now!)

I mentioned this in conversation yesterday because I was raving, yet again, about how funny Jason Mulgrew is, how much he eats and drinks, and how frequently he masturbates. Jeremy asked how often was considered frequent. We came to a consensus that it depends on how old you are and whether you're in a relationship.

Then we got to the etiquette of wanking when you're staying at someone else's place. Personally I would never dare do this. I would feel like John Safran at that priest's house. But Penny said she would feel enough at home after a few days. This was particularly amusing because Penny has a house guest right now. We sketched an amusing mental picture of Penny, the other night, realising her guest needed an extra sheet, and creeping along the corridor, pausing outside the spare room going tentatively, "Bud...?" and hearing a little voice within saying guardedly, "Yes...?"

I am interested to hear other people's opinions. God I feel like Carrie Bradshaw right now, especially because I am wearing a t-shirt that says "New York" and have wonderful tomato-red nail polish on. But as the camera zooms in to my computer screen, I couldn't help but wonder: when friends invite you to come and stay, do you stay and come?

(Man, they totally should have had that on the show!)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Fashion trends that shouldn't last, but will - at least for a while. Further to my list of fashion predictions, here are some fashion trends with extraordinary tenacity, even though no self-respecting hipster would be seen dead in them now. I'd like to say that I'm not dissing these trends. Instead, the fluffy, inconsequential academic in me (as opposed to the critically engaged, professional academic!) is interested in why these trends reach critical mass and stay there, because I refuse to believe it's because the masses are unoriginal.

In fact, my embryonic opinion is that there's something (that needs to be teased out) about these trends that makes people believe they're being creative and original.

Trucker caps. Kind of a soft target, I know - Jonas was railing about the lameness of this trend back in March. But people - male and female - keep on wearing them, and I want to know why. Hey, if I produced a line of Melkwear trucker caps for my upcoming Comedy Festival show, would people buy one, d'you think? It would probably have Joel Sinclair's signature slogan, "Does My Brain Look Big In This?"

Low-rise jeans. One of my 2003 fashion predictions was the rise - literally - of jeans waists. Fashion editors had been trying to prod us towards 80s-style high pants with stovepipe legs, and I was gloomily convinced that it might take a couple of years, but we would succumb. But we didn't! I find this quite extraordinary, given that only skinny people with flat stomachs and Brazilian waxes look good in low-rise jeans. On anyone else, they unflatteringly reveal g-strings and create what I like to call the 'muffin-top' effect, where the fat over the hips spills over the top of the waistband like a muffin over its pan. Not to mention the actual appearance of pubic hair, first modelled on the Black Crowes' Amorica album cover, making a reappearance on Robbie Williams' greatest hits album cover, and of course in Bourgie today, as unwittingly modelled by Penny.

But waist-high pants are even less flattering, not to mention less comfortable. I hadn't been banking on the ingenuity of the marketplace. I first noticed in July 2003 that teenagers in Brisbane and Adelaide were wearing what Dangerfield calls 'hipster helpers' - wide bands of t-shirt fabric designed to account for the space of skin between the bottom of the top and the top of the jeans. And just this year, I've noticed that all the shops now sell really long tops, designed to sit at the spot below the hips where your leg joins your abdomen. Or people just wear minidresses over their jeans. The jeans themselves have risen a little bit, but not that much.

Distressed t-shirts. Every second male dufus I see is wearing a t-shirt with ripped seams, random things embroidered or appliqued on, bits that look like bad screen-printing and paint splashes. I reckon that Roy first came out with these t-shirts in about 2001 (and I'd be interested to hear any other genealogies) but they've been a mainstay of my favourite dufus menswear shop, the hilariously named Code Male, for at least a few years. And I find it fascinating how even the most suburban guy will now wear pink. Personally, I feel this is wonderful. Guys look so hot in pink.

Sparkly tops. I loved that Just Jeans ad for what they prosaically named 'sparkly tops', which I understand as any beaded or sequinned women's evening top. Basically, clubbers are looking strangely at the three wise men following their star, which turns out to be two booty hoes on the dance floor, wearing sparkly tops. This trend is really an offshoot of everyday bling, hence many of my arguments on that could be applied here, but what I'm interested in is the striking design similarity of so many of these tops. I also enjoy tracing their market diffusion. There's a Sass & Bide design which looks like a Y of silver sequins overlaid on a long ruched top, which has been ripped off by those ubiquitous Asian brands you see at markets, which then show up in shops like Deborah K, 7 Angels, Apple Spice and Studio Girl. And brands like Valley Girl, Supre, Jeans West and Sportsgirl have their own recognisable designs. I'm interested in the industrial patterns by which this limited set of 'sparkly' motifs percolates through the retail marketplace.

Mel's Fashion Predictions for 2005. This series of sage observations began at the start of 2003, when I should have been preparing my woeful thesis for its eventual evisceration by a pair of fucking cunts (for this, read 'examiners'). It continued at the start of 2004, when I should have been implementing the two fucking cunts' snide advice. (Bitter - moi?)

Basically, I'm fascinated by street style and would really like to be a) one of those innovators who starts street trends; or b) a trendspotter who can at least identify the trends before or as they develop.

I am neither of these.

So, let's see how last year's fashion predictions panned out, and we'll swiftly move on to this year's predictions.

1. Capes. I predicted that glamorous capes would make a comeback. I'm talking about the sort of satin capes with stand-up collars that Elvis wore in Vegas, or that wrestlers wear as they enter the ring. I was so convinced by the imminence of this trend that I bought the materials to make one of these capes. It was going to be white satin with a red satin lining, and spell out "The Incredible Melk" in rhinestones on the back. I would have worn it with jeans and a t-shirt, or perhaps with a little black dress on dates, that, like April 25, are neither too hot nor too cold, and all you need is a light jacket. But I never made the cape.

Verdict: Capes were in, but not the right capes. Due to the 1920s and 1950s styles of 2004, some designers tried to foist on us dainty little evening capes, which were more like structured shawls, or little fake-fur capes, which were more like stoles and didn't even reach the elbows. I actually saw one of these recently in an Asian shop in Perth. It was pink fake fur. It totally kicked arse. But I couldn't justify spending $75 on such a foolish accessory.

2. Ludic Jewellery. I predicted that accessories with a gaming theme would be popular in 2004. As examples I cited dice-themed jewellery, brooches made from Scrabble pieces and charm bracelets made from Monopoly pieces. When I was in Sydney in February, I invested in a $2 packet of plastic farm animals, which I planned to turn into brooches, but never did because I lost them. Can you see a pattern in my attempts to implement these predictions?

Verdict: I was totally right! Dice-inspired jewellery was huge among the Dangerfield set, while playing cards and dominoes were other popular motifs. Charm bracelets, curiously, are everywhere now, so I could still do the Monopoly bracelet ... if I could be fucked.

3. The Winter Ra-Ra Skirt. I had observed that tiered miniskirts were everywhere, and also that tailored 1950s-style suits in prim fabrics and prints, like Chanel boucle tweeds and houndstooth, were a major theme in the European collections. I reasoned that a logical collision of these trends would produce the winter ra-ra skirt, which would be worn with opaque tights and boots. Sort of like a return to the 80s preppie look.

Verdict: I was right about the 50s thing, but not about the ra-ra thing. Tailored tweed jackets duly became hugely popular, but strangely the matching skirts, which were mainly bias-cut and knee-length, weren't nearly as popular. My dream of the winter ra-ra skirt remains unfulfilled. If I could tailor clothes, I'd make it live, but my sewing skills are rudimentary and extremely time-consuming.

Okay, so now to Mel's Fashion Predictions 2005.

1. Fluoro colours. I'm not thinking of the 1980s fluoros here, even though I still think the 80s still have legs as a fashion inspiration. Instead, I'm picturing a 50s and 60s modernist sort of fluoro: tailored garments from a time when new synthetic fabrics like nylon, orlon and crimplene promised new colours and textures and new ways of wearing and caring for clothes. Maybe reading The Crying of Lot 49 has influenced my thinking. But anyway. I'm thinking pink, yellow, red (that really bright red that's almost orange) and green will be the main fluoro colours. Especially pink.

2. Neckerchiefs. I saw a chick on the tram the other day who was just so effortlessly stylish. She had on a red Bonds singlet (that bright red I was talking about) and blue jeans, and was wearing a cream-coloured silk scarf with red and blue pinstripes, rolled like a scout scarf, tied slightly to one side and pinned to the singlet with an old-fashioned brooch. I think this look really ties into the 50s aesthetic that's still about at the moment. I also predict men will be wearing bandannas and other light fabric scarves with t-shirts or protruding from the collars of their polo shirts like cravats. Sort of like stereotypical English workmen. But men are generally not as adventurous with their style as women, so this one might not catch on, except with Will and Shane, the most directional male fashionistas I know.

3. Backwards stuff. I'm not talking Kriss Kross here. The other day I was wearing a polo shirt with a tie: a look that the Vice crowd would no doubt describe as "totally played". But according to Tash, some staff at Hairy Canary have been spotted wearing ties backwards. Please also note that long dangling necklaces with backless garments might come in, a la Nicole Kidman in that ridiculous Chanel No. 5 ad.

Further to this, I would like to add that I predict the popularity of very long, single-stranded necklaces, perhaps with jewelled pendants at the end or nestling in the cleavage. (In an attempt to spearhead this trend, I wore such a necklace on New Year's Eve. It got a thumbs-up from the manslave, which was enough for me.)

I know I had more of these (I was regaling the Torta staff with them the other day), but it's traditional to have three main predictions. If you, dear reader, have any, please feel free to add them in the comments.

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