Friday, October 28, 2005

Mmmrrrrggghhhhhh! Please do come along to Is Not Magazine's Halloween party on Monday. It's Cup Eve, so most people except my dear ex-workmates at the Crider will have the next day off.

Last night we shot some footage for Keith, the VJ, to use on the night. A bunch of us went to the Domain, where we put shitloads of talcum powder on our faces and shambled around, moaning, while Keith videoed us through a cloud of dry ice and jiggled torches over us in a Blair Witch Project style. I couldn't see what most other people were doing, but Clare had the most wonderfully Romero line in staring at the sky while dragging one foot behind her. When we got close to the camera we started snarling and stretching out our arms as if scenting braaaaaaiiiiiiins! The hard part was not cracking up, which I definitely did at points. Keith was doing a tracking shot at one stage, and we were so busy moaning and shambling that we couldn't warn him he was about to back into a parked car, so there may also be a great shot of the camera going arse over tit as if we had attacked him.

I also played the 'human victim': a ludicrous scenario which involved me sitting on a park bench (in the middle of the night?) reading the paper, not noticing a bunch of zombies creeping up behind me. I scream in a satisfyingly cheesy manner, holding my hands up by my face. I take ages to actually move, because the zombies are so slow-moving that any normal person could outrun them. Then I run into a little colonnaded monument and hide in there, not noticing a vampire waiting for me. Then I get attacked by the vampire, and then it's stacks on with all the zombies as well.

We did three takes of my death scene. There was one take where I did the wrestling thing of pounding my hand repeatedly on the ground when I was down. (I had learned this from Roland Barthes' essay about the semiotics of pro wrestling.) The last take was ludicrous because I actually ended up falling on top of the vampire and pinning her to the ground. Nicole apologised for grabbing my boob, but to be honest, people were grabbing me everywhere. A few zombies got a little carried away with the biting. In one take, I can clearly be seen mouthing, "Someone actually bit me!"

So you should totally come to the party, if only to see the hammy footage that will result from the evening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Snippets. Jeremy really knows how to charm a lady. (Alas, it's not by saying "I want to be on you.") No. I was having lunch with him today and he said, by way of conversation, "Mel, you have a booger hanging out of your nose."

Thank goodness I have someone to invigilate my snot. A while ago I wrote a short story called "Personal Integrity", which was a corporate satire in which a 'personal integrity consultant' was engaged by a marketing consultancy to protect its staff from etiquette lapses during a major business pitch that would, if successful, save them from being taken over by a large competitor.

Yesterday I was at the North Melbourne Legal Centre and a guy was walking up the stairs behind me. I went to the front desk and so did he. That's when I realised that he was holding a pizza box and had a curiously eager expression on his face like a munted troll doll. This meant that he was none other than the pizza man who called me a cocksucking cunt! Oh, my heart was thudding in my chest as I stood there next to him! Did he realise it was me, or did I blend into a sea of fucking cheap bitches who'd had the temerity to ask him for change from a twenty?

I am a little tired of living in a household of five adults, of whom exactly two (me and the manslave) bothered to help clean the house for today's house inspection. He mowed and raked the front and back yards and tidied away rubbish, while I vacuumed the hallway and living room, mopped the kitchen floor, cleaned dirty marks off the walls and doors, cleaned the windows and picked some roses from the back yard to put in a vase in the living room. (Oh, yesterday I had also swept the kitchen floor and cleaned the bath.)

Then Jacinta gets home, not noticing how much cleaner and tidier it looks now. Yet she still gets all pissed off because there are dirty dishes in the sink. You see, she has an insane crusade to "avoid a display of lack of hygine [sic] and lack of politeness" by keeping the kitchen bench and sink entirely clear of dishes, food or appliances, which she puts on the floor instead, for extra 'hygine'. She also notes who used which dishes, and holds them up accusingly before adding them to the basket of dirty dishes on the floor.

I am moving by 21 November. Who here knows of a house in an inner Northside suburb which has a maximum of three bedrooms, for under $500 a month?

Regrets - I've had a few. Goddamn this meme business, it's like homework... I mean, thanks to the lovely Elaine for tagging me with this delightful meme. Here are some things that I regret:

I wish I had waited until the light opposite turned green before commencing my hook turn. Oh, I really wish that.
I wish I had slept with some of those men who've wanted to sleep with me over the years. My reasons for refusing were pretty silly and right now I need all the action I can get.
I wish I hadn't wasted all that time chasing after men who didn't want to sleep with me.
I wish I hadn't had that feud with Tash in 2003.
I wish I hadn't bought those pink and grey Nike sneakers on impulse last year. They don't fit me properly, I don't really like them, and I've only worn them once.

Can't think of anything else. I mean, there's a lot I probably shouldn't have done, but it's always turned into eminently repeatable anecdotes, or led me to situations and people I'm glad I've encountered. I have to tag at least two people, so I choose to tag Rubydot and Anita, as they seem to be enthusiastic about memes lately. Ladeez, these are the rules (sorry, I didn't make 'em):

1) Call the meme "Regrets - I've Had A Few";
2) Always refer (and link back) to the blogger who tagged you;
3) Always tag (and link to) at least two new bloggers;
4) List as many regrets as you like, but list a minimum of one (even if you have to re-interpret the term 'regret' because you feel strongly that you don't have any);
5) Include these five rules in each post as the meme instructions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The wanky world of work; or, Let's all help Mel get a job. I am feeling quite desperate today because I have been looking at job ads. I am finding them very depressing because they use stupid HR jargon that tells you the job is about "being responsive to organisational requirements working both independently and as part of a small creative team in a fast-paced environment". And they always seem to require x years experience working in corporate or government. What if you have x-1 years experience? What if you've worked in a small company? What if you've worked for yourself? What if your work was done for free? Why can't they be responsive to my organisational requirements?

I took the piss out of this in my Comedy Festival show! Here I would like to treat you to my "Position Description" rap, which was an excerpt from my book The Incredible Melk's Kama Suitra: A Guide to Hot Corporate Lovin'. Once some chicks actually walked out during this song. I wonder if it was the pictures, which are probably not work safe I'm warning you right now.
It’s an entry-level position
If you perform, you’ll get a commission
And an intimate understanding
Of an industry that’s very demanding

Work it!

Fig. 1: Area Manager

You’ve got to be thinking bigger
And have an excellent head for figures
We run a tight operation
And you’ll handle sensitive information

Show how flexible you are
If you’re ambitious, you’ll go far
Show us all your skill and drive
Come at 9 and again at 5

Work it! Work it hard!

Fig. 2: High Staff Turnover

You’ll certainly see some action
We’re all about employee satisfaction
Embracing team requirements
Will build relationships with our clients
You must be a self-starter
Who’s not afraid to work harder
Responsive to directions
And good at facilitating connections

Let me see you work it!

Fig. 3: Work in Progress Meeting

We want someone who’s able
To bring experience to the table
Someone who hates slackage
Can get their hands on a decent package
At first it’s short-term
If you’re good we’ll love you long-term
Opportunities for expansion
You can grab ‘em if you want ‘em

Fig 4: Chairman of the Board

Meet that target, swallow it whole
Clamber up that greasy pole!
Be strategic, never stop
With due diligence you’ll be on top

Work it! Work it overtime!

Yes, rather. Where was I then? Oh yes. Job ads. I began to get really frustrated, because I'm a smart, well-educated person who has all sorts of interesting skills, projects and experience on my CV that could be applied to all sorts of things. And at this stage in my life, I would like to be working in a job that uses these skills. And it depresses me so much that the recruitment industry is not interested in people like me. They don't want people who can apply knowledge and experience to different contexts. They don't want people whose CVs contain independently funded and run creative projects. They just want people who can prove they've done exactly this job somewhere almost exactly like this, and who have exactly these qualifications.

God this depresses me. I got into a fight on Dougie's blog with some dufus who wanted Doug to start up a magazine. Well, it's very nice to dream, and my philosophy has always been to do what you dream. My work history is full of me actually putting my ideas in action. But it's fucking irresponsible to recommend a magazine start-upto anyone who's unemployed, like Dougie is, or to anyone who has less than $100,000 cold hard cash at their disposal. Because it isn't a job prospect.

Magazine start-ups are fucking hard work that nobody involved gets paid for. They cost a lot of money that you never get back - more money than you can ever anticipate at the outset. You have to work full-time hours on the magazine around your normal job, and prospective employers don't give a fuck about all that hard work when you put the magazine on your CV, because they consider independent projects to be 'hobbies' rather than legitimate career trajectories.

But I suppose the reason why I wrote this post is in the vague hope that someone here knows of a media job that suits me. I'm a writer and editor - I think a very good one. I can and have turned my writing skills to magazine and newspaper features, academic essays, media releases, copywriting, scriptwriting and writing for the web. I am good at archival research, public speaking, meeting deadlines, and editing other people's writing so that it makes sense. Please help me. I'm beggin' ya. Or at least hug me and buy me alcohol and brush the hair from my eyes and tell me everything is gonna be aaaaaall right.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fucking horrifying! As I've said, I don't consider myself a political blogger, and I don't tend to get that outraged over government policy. But sometimes things are just so fucking horrifying that I am stumped.

Like the official telephone script for the Federal Government's WorkChoices hotline, which was leaked onto the internet by Rob Corr and showed up in today's Crider subscriber email. It is really reprehensible how much public money the Howard government spends on expensive advertising and PR campaigns. But one of the most wasteful things they've done is set up this massively overstaffed Canberra call centre, at which the poor phone monkeys are given only this Sir Humphrey-esque document to answer the public's questions about the new IR laws.

Two of the sillier questions were reported in today's Crider:

Q: How do I know if I'm employed by a Constitutional Corporation?
A: If you are not sure about whether or not your employer is a Constitutional Corporation you should first ask your employer whether they know if their business is a Constitutional corporation. If your employer is also unsure about whether their business is a Constitutional corporation then they may seek independent legal advice on this matter.

Q: What is the total spending on Communication campaigns?
A: At this stage, the planned scope and form of the information campaign has not been finalised. So, no precise figures are available as to the total amount of money that will be spent on the campaign.

But the part that fucking horrified me was this:

The "freedom" to choose if you want a fucking job or not? How does this possibly square with the mutual obligation crap they've been pushing for the last ten years, which is all about forcing people into the workforce regardless of their personal circumstances or preferences? As for the part about it not being "duress", I just don't understand how the government feels it's possible to bully people into signing some agreement that gives away all sorts of rights, under the threat of withholding employment, and call that 'negotiation' rather than 'duress'.

I realise I am not saying anything new here, but it really does make me want to put my head in my fucking hands. I feel really sorry for the phone monkeys. Apparently hardly anyone is calling the 'hot'line, and half the monkeys face losing their jobs. Don't worry, monkeys - you can always 'negotiate' a new one!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A follow-up to my previous quasi-ethnographic field research project. Yes, it's time once more for me to turn my considerable intellect and qualitative interviewing skills to a weighty topic of great social import. The major field research for this project was carried out last weekend, although it's such an enjoyable topic that I continue asking people. But before I shed light on this social phenomenon, may I direct your attention to the last time I dabbled in the social sciences, when I tested the hypothesis that social kisses are generally given on the right cheek. The general discussion surrounding my latest field project proved illuminating on that front.

Dave proposed a certain geometry of kissing. It's not about which cheek you aim to kiss, but the relationship between the angle of your head and the angle of the kiss-recipient's head. If, for example, you are aiming to plant a social kiss on someone's right cheek (which appears to you as the left), then you'd incline your head to the left, and they would also incline their head to the left in order to better present their cheek to you. This means that as you kiss, your faces are both slightly turned away: a subtle body language cue that this is non-sexual.

However, if you are aiming for a sexual kiss, you may still tilt your head to the left, but you are aiming for the left cheek of the recipient. This brings your head into a more central position so your two faces are facing slightly inwards: a subtle body language cue that this is sexual. And if someone is leaning in to kiss you in this way, you realise this just before their lips hit your face, and you can make the split-second decision to turn your own head towards their left cheek, thus bringing your mouth directly in line with theirs, or whether to 'refuse' the kiss by presenting your right cheek.

I did think about diagrams, but I realised that this would be fucking hard to render, because you have to depict both the angle of the head tilting sideways and the head tilting forwards. I hope that by now you are just as confused as I am. Did I mention that maths has always been my weakest subject? But basically, at the time Dave suggested this, I was filled with the triumphant conviction that this was the answer, because it explains why Emah's theory about 'right-cheek platonic, left-cheek sexual' holds true, and my theory about a preference for inclining your head left or right has very little to do with it.

Then I talked to Amanda, who pointed me towards Mike Nicholls et al's publications on laterality of expression in portraiture. In 1999, Nicholls and his University of Melbourne colleagues examined portraits by right and left-handed artists, including self-portraits. They noted that the left side of the face (the sitter turning his or her head slightly to the right) is over-represented in portraiture generally; yet portraits of men, and particularly portraits of scientists from the Royal Society, have little or no leftward bias.

Given that the left side of the face is associated with the emotive right hemisphere of the brain, Nicholls et al suggest that sitters for a family portrait display their left cheek to suggest emotion, whereas sitters being painted in their professional capacity display their right cheek to suggest authority. I went through some pictures of myself on this computer, and found that the majority of them I am looking straight towards the camera. When I was a broidsmaid and was posing for pictures, the photographer claimed that my right side was my 'best' side. What does that tell you?

In a subsequent (2002) study, Nicholls et al showed 384 participants some photographs of faces turned 15 degrees left, straight on and 15 degrees right, asking them to rate their emotional expressiveness. To eliminate the variable of aesthetic and perceptual bias, they also included some mirror-images. And, irrespective of whether the pictures were mirror-reversed, the participants consistently rated the left profile as more 'emotional'.

So, what's the implication for kissing? Well, in a social kiss you present your right side to the other person - ie, your more impersonal side; whereas in a sexual kiss you present your left, more intimate side.

Actually, I started writing this post on Friday, but right now, thinking about any of this stuff just really depresses me. Today I was accused of being perverted because of my important social science research. I had asked Jeremy if in America, they refer to partial erections as 'sem-eyes'. You know, now I write it down, you might think this has something to do with money shots, which it absolutely does not. Oh, I'm really digging this hole, aren't I. Well, I am really quite normal let me assure you.

It's just 7 things that got me trippin'. I have been tagged with a meme. It has taken me ages to get onto it.

7 things I want to do before I die
Not die
Have kids
Publish a novel that my friends will respect (tough ask - I have lit-snobs for friends)
Do my music justice - record albums, play gigs
Find someone to love who also loves me
Not have to worry about money all the time
Visit and perhaps live in the Big Cities: London, New York, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, etc

7 things I cannot do
Live forever
See historical times and places for myself, like ancient Greece and Rome, Victorian London, even old Melbourne
Play the guitar
Find someone to love who also loves me - or even just someone willing to have sex with me
Look good in most fashionable clothes
Get my head around maths
Believe in the existence of God

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
Looks friendly
Finds my lame jokes funny and banters with me without being cruel
How a t-shirt fits across the shoulderblades
Intellectual curiosity - enjoys discussion and debate; open to new ideas
Motivation - follows through on his dreams and ambitions
Smells nice
Good dancer - cheers when his favourite songs come on and makes saucy faces at me while dancing

7 things that I say most often
Get out of town!
Thankyou, sir!
But my point - and I do have one
I like stories
Don't mock me

7 celebrity crushes
Mark Ruffalo
Justin Timberlake
Catherine Deneuve
Owen Wilson (aka "The Butterscotch Stallion")
Drew Barrymore
Tobey Maguire

7 people I want to do this
We must not extend this meme seven times, but seven times seven. This is my excuse for letting anyone take this up if they want.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The signification spiral. I was kind of puzzled to read this article today in the New York Times. Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy has built a persona on being the "snowman", an image that has become his logo and adorns t-shirts.
The snowman's success is proof that Jeezy has a knack for self-promotion, but it's also an example of the way rappers use coded language to juggle multiple constituencies. A casual observer might see the snowman as just one more improbable hip-hop fashion trend.
But as I'm sure you sense by now, it's not just a snowman! I know! Freaked out! Jeezy claims it's because he wears so many diamonds; ie, he's "iced out". But the New York Times is proud to reveal to its readership the exclusive insight that "snowman" is another word for cocaine dealer! Whoa, I didn't see that coming!

You see, apparently rappers are over the old Ice Cube style of speaking confrontationally about ghetto life. Now they use clever code so whitey won't know about their subversive ways:
In his current hit "Soul Survivor," featuring the streetwise R&B singer Akon, Young Jeezy imagines the life of a dealer but sticks mainly to code words: "Road trip, yeah I'm trafficking the white/Please, Lord, don't let me go to jail tonight." He never says "crack," and "cocaine" appears exactly once, shortened to " 'caine"; in the radio version, it's blotted out.

Some of the people singing along in their cars might think of "Soul Survivor" as a rather nonspecific ode to perseverance, and they wouldn't be totally wrong. Young Jeezy would probably claim that his drug-dealing tales are really analogies, applicable to anyone who has ever had to face a ruthless marketplace.
My first thought was: "Does this journalist think that people are fucking retards?" But then I began to think about this in another way. Rather than draw their own conclusions about a song's meanings (conclusions which "wouldn't be totally wrong"), it suits this article to describe hip-hop as an ever-retreating 'language of deviance' - a language that must retreat further and further into euphemism as it becomes more mainstream and better known. But importantly, the language also retreats further and further into deviance, which makes it more and more imperative to "crack its code" and expose the deviance for all to see.

In Policing the Crisis, Hall et al describe this process as a "signification spiral" - "A self-amplifying sequence within the area of signification: the activity or event with which the signification deals is escalated - made to seem more threatening - within the course of the signification itself".

Signification spirals rely on two ideas: escalation and convergence. First, the popular media conflate freshly identified social threats with pre-existing ideologies or discourses associated with older 'subversive' groups. They do this in order to evade the political implications of new cultural phenomena. In Intimate Enemies, Philip Jenkins describes moral panics as "the politics of substitution" - attacking one phenomenon because it symbolises a more problematic and complex issue. So, in the NYT example, the media surveill drug-related language because they can't surveill drug use.

Second, signification spirals always imply the transgression of certain (yet unspecified!) moral thresholds, which, it's implied, will lead to a situation escalating out of control if no "firm steps" are taken. This can degenerate into a general panic about the state of society or 'the yoof of today'. In this way, the article both 'reveals' rappers' 'deviant' language and suggests that, once 'identified', the rappers will come up with more and more inventive and obscure ways to express their deviance, which in turn will require more and more cunning methods of 'decoding'.

I wonder whether this has anything to do with hipsters' use of language - their need to operate within mainstream culture yet maintain a distance from it by using increasingly ridiculous words. This is parodied in The Hipster Handbook. Trouble is, I don't think hipsters are a subculture; they court moral panic and desire to be perceived as deviant, yet I would argue they're rarely likely to spark it. So I don't think deviance is a useful analytic category. But what is the affect of trying to be deviant? That's the real question for me right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Oh I do love a stupid internet test. And I do take them to heart. Never mind the first time I read Eve Sedgwick or Judith Butler - I had a gender crisis because some online quiz had determined that I was "psychologically androgynous". I still do them from time to time, thanks to Glen and Liz.

So I couldn't resist doing the Australian Politics Test, which I found out about yesterday via the Crider. I haven't done one since high school, when we had a crazy week-long program called Participation in Politics. Normal classes were suspended and the whole year level filled out a quiz on their political views, which was used to divide us into three 'parties', the "Radicals", the "Moderates" and the "Conservatives". We had to formulate policies, elect a leader, stage an election campaign, film a campaign speech, and then vote. I forget who won. At the end, we had to listen to a speech from some female politicians who'd been to our school. One was a local Labor chick; the other was Liberal senator Jocelyn Newman.

If I remember correctly, I was a spin-doctor for the Moderates and was in charge of producing propaganda. Penny was the leader of the Conservatives. She filmed her campaign speech in front of the Union Jack as they played "Land of Hope and Glory" in the background. I wonder how much of this was rhetoric (and a love of British TV series such as The Goodies) and how much reflected her actual views. I also wonder if her views have changed in the eleven years since PIP.

I have always considered myself a leftist, but thought I was more centre-left because I have little patience for the righteous rage and utopianism of so much leftist politics, and because I don't get really, really upset about Howard's and Bush's latest dastardly acts (although I do think they're dastardly). But I was pretty surprised that the test considers me to be firmly left-wing on most things, and far-left when it comes to "traditional values".

Apparently I am also 98% compatible with the Australian Democrats, which makes me pretty sad. God, they might as well have written, Simpsons-style, "Go ahead: throw your vote away!" I couldn't vote in the last election anyway, because I fell off the electoral roll and wasn't put back on in time.

Why do superstar DJs always seem to have such stupid names? Right now I'm at my parents' house listening to my brother miT DJing what I suppose would be called breaks. He was playing Peaches and Le Tigre before, but now it's some random thumpy tracks with British-accented men shouting over the top. Oh, that's Gorillaz.

Anyway, I have been wondering afresh why superstar DJs have to have such embarrassing names. There are posters up everywhere right now for John Digweed, whose surname makes me laugh. I wonder if Digweed was picked on at school and said to himelf, back in the safety of his bedroom, "I'll show them! I'll become a superstar DJ with mad skillz!" But he is still called John Digweed.

He's not the only one, either. What about Carl Cox? Dave Seaman? Paul Van Dyk? (What a lovely triple-bill that would be!)

What about architects? I still find the name Walter Gropius funny - he's like an X-Men villain. Surely the poorly controlled peeps will put their two cents in here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

We'll have a gay old time! On Saturday night I went to the Bite party. When I got there it was around 2am and the place was packed. When I left it was around 5:30am and there were still about 30 people dancing. And I was very upset at the number of girl-on-boy hook-ups I had witnessed.

I was trying to work out what was upsetting me. At first I was getting all indignant about straight couples being uninhibited about public sexual behaviour because of this carnivalesque, permissive queer atmosphere. Then I was thinking I shouldn't impose my heteronormative judgements on people. If, for example, you are a girl and you think a boy is hot, nothing should stop you from pashing him. Not even the fact that you are usually attracted to other girls. And an infinite number of possible vices versa.

Now I think the real answer is much more banal. I was just thinking, "Fuck, of all the people here, at least one of 'em ought to have tried to pick me up! Oh, I am universally unattractive!"

Following my musings below on the nature of friendship, and more sparked by the article linked to in the comments on that post, I am feeling very conflicted and confused about love, sex, friendship and intimacy. (Stay tuned for a post on my latest shonky pseudo-ethnographic field research.) I think I am falling in love with one person, plus I want to shag at least two other people (really bad!), plus my friendships with several others are deepening and becoming clearer in various ways. Today has been a real write-off as I am a bundle of giddy thoughts and visceral desires.

Hey also, good news! My hipster paper has been accepted to the CSAA conference in Sydney. So expect to read a lot more about my thoughts on hipsters over the next month.

Friday, October 14, 2005

On friendship. I have been thinking about the nature of friendship ever since Dougie put me onto this Elizabot, who showed me the Wikipedia entry for 'friend'. I had actually discussed this topic with Dougie a few weeks earlier, over drinks after a hard day's work on the Crikey project Censored Due to Legal Advice. (Not to be confused with the TISM album of the same name.) Anyway, Wikipedia listed all sorts of culturally and historically specific varieties of friendship, from philia and agape to soulmates and blood brothers. I had an interesting conversation on this topic yesterday with Tash, who asked if there was an entry for "semen sisters". Well, Tash, Wikipedia is fully editable.

We tend to drift into friendships through circumstances. School friends. Workmates. Friends-of-friends. Only when asked directly at occasions like 21sts and weddings do we ask ourselves, "How do I know X?" "How did we meet?" "What was it that made me want to be friends with this person?" So often, it's that they happened to be a socially gregarious person with similar tastes and interests to you. And you know what I think about shared tastes.

I still stand by what I wrote then. There is more to friendship than being able to talk shit and hang out. But we are losing the vocabulary to describe our relationships with each other. What should we expect from our friends? Where are the lines between different sorts of friendships? Is the idea of a 'best friend' something that we leave behind in childhood, or does it have some validity as adults? Is friendship necessarily non-sexual? Do lovers become our best friends? What is the difference between sex-crushes, love-crushes and friend-crushes?

I have always tried to keep up my existing friendship networks, and it really pains me to realise that perhaps I don't have much in common with my old friends anymore. Lately, though, I have been trying to imagine hybrid kinds of friendship: ones in which I can be loved and accepted for being 'myself'; ones in which I can be both frank and frivolous; ones that satisfy my current desire for shelter from the crapness of everyday life; ones in which I can love and be loved without fear of humiliation or sexual confusion. But I don't know if I am weird for wanting this, or if it's an impossible request to which nobody will agree.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What are you doing this Friday? May I suggest this:

Yes, it's time to launch Is Not Magazine Issue 4, "Young Is/Not Free". And seeing as we are having a monster Halloween party, which you should all get very excited about and book your flights now if you don't live in Melbourne, the issue launch is going to be a one-night-only art exhibition entitled A-Zero. Gawk at and buy ginormous signed art posters created by talented people including Lyndal Walker, Paul Davis, Tai Snaith, Lachlan Conn, Robert Cook, Dave Smith, and many more!

And being an Is Not party, there will also be liquor - plenty of dirt cheap liquor. Tash is threatening to make things classy by purchasing cheese. There will be a scorching DJ lineup and the live stylings of Hot Little Hands, who are a catchy and really really ridiculously good-looking band.

Second floor, Curtin House (Swanston Street, same building as Cookie and Metropolis)
This Friday!
6pm - 11pm. There may be an official after party. I was toying with the idea of going to see Disco D play records about dicks and pussies at Honkytonks.
How much?
Oh, only a gold coin donation! Remember, the magazine survives on these events. As for the prints, they range in price.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fresh from the Today Can't Get Any Worse files: the pizza man. So I'm working to deadline on a Saturday night instead of going to the party I've been invited to, and I'm thinking, "Gee, I could go a pizza." So I call up our local. I have stuck loyally with this shop since I've lived here, even though they don't deserve my custom. Their pizza is ordinary, their pasta worse (they actually have a dish called Spaghetti Pizza which is spag bol on top of a ham and cheese pizza base), and a while ago it was taken over by new owners who keep hiking the prices and have discontinued half the menu items.

But it's our closest pizza shop. So I grab a flyer and call up. "Have you still got the $11 pizza and soft drink delivery special?"
"No, it's now $13.20."
Pause. "Okay, I can swing that, can I have a Meat Lovers and a bottle of lemonade, please?"
"That will be 45 minutes."

45 minutes! I was pretty hungry since the manslave cleaned out our refrigerator. But okay, it was a Saturday night... so I agreed and got stuck into my work. Time flew, and it seemed like only 42 minutes later that our doorbell rang. I grabbed a $20 note and opened the door to a grinning, gnome-like delivery man with half his front teeth missing. He claimed to have no change, and said he'd take my money and bring me my change "some other time".

This sounded dubious to me under any circumstances. Given that I am 'freelance' and am shortly going to be pouring all my cash into an automobile-related farce, I was reluctant to gift $7-odd to some random pizza man simply on the promise that he might be back "some other time". Plus, I was still pissed off at the cabbie who'd pulled a similar "no change" trick on me a couple of weeks ago (and had also propositioned me). Isn't it the job of these people to make sure they have change?

So I firmly explained, "No, I'm not giving you any extra money."
He grinned and said, "Nah, I don't want any extra, I'll just come back some other time."
This conversation went on in a ping-pong vein for a bit, neither of us understanding what the other was saying, so I decided to spell it out for him.
"I'm not going to give you $20 when my pizza only cost $13.20 and I don't even know if you're going to come back with my change."

Suddenly the pizza man snapped and slammed my screen door in my face, shouting, "Keep ya fucken pizza then, ya cocksucking cunt!"
He then stomped away screeching other inventive epithets along the lines of "Ya cheap motherfucken scrag" and "ya stupid bitch". I am not really doing him justice here, because I was actually quite impressed by the range of his swearing vocabulary.

I was actually quite shaken, but I called up the pizza place straight away and explained the situation to the guy who answered the phone, including the information that I would never be ordering from his pizza shop again. He seemed flustered and said he would call me back. I was sitting there munching on the pizza when he called, saying that he had spoken with the driver and there had been a "misunderstanding". I am still unclear what their policy is when the driver doesn't have enough change, but surely they ought to invest in a driver who can explain it clearly?

"That's nice, but I'm disinclined to pay when the driver starts calling me a cocksucking cunt," I said primly, with my mouth full of pizza. "I don't like having obscenities shouted at me. It's absolutely unacceptable."
The guy started apologising profusely, saying he had spoken to the driver and how sorry he was about the swearing. I said, "I'm glad to hear it. Goodbye," and hung up.

And meanwhile, this toothless maniac knows where I live. Now, back to work for me.

Car crash this morning. Remember how a while ago, I said that my biggest fear when driving was damaging another car? Well basically, I am screwed. I started sobbing uncontrollably on the phone to the RACV because they told me my insurance had run out in May. Of course because I had freshly been made 'freelance' at the time, I didn't have enough money to renew it. I was sobbing outside an expensive boutique, and the well-preserved shop assistant ushered me in and made me a cup of coffee while I went through the ridiculous motions of putting in a claim that probably won't be accepted.

I didn't even look at the damage to the other car because I was so aghast at the damage to my own bomb (the value of which I looked up on the internet and it isn't even worth $3000. Panel beating is going to cost at least that, plus the cost of fixing the fucked-up suspension). I am going to argue it out with the RACV on Monday morning, but I don't hold out much hope that they will be sympathetic. And the other woman's insurance company will go after me like a pack of rabid attack dogs. So I don't even have third-party insurance and am going to be made to pay thousands of dollars in repairs to my and someone else's car, and all the while I am 'freelance' which was only going to last for another couple of months and then I would be living off my credit card.

So I am going to have to get a crappy job as a temp or in a call centre or some equally soul-destroying place. But it will have to be in the city or inner suburbs because I will have no car to drive anywhere else. Incidentally, at the moment of impact I had been thinking of Crash by JG Ballard. I read that book recently and it had a real, ahem, impact on me.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Musings on Meat Loaf's Theorem. On Monday night I was feeling very sad. The first broidsmaid pictures had already come in via email, and they confirmed that I perfectly filled out (pun intended) the stereotype of the 'one fat broidsmaid'. You know there is always one in every wedding party: she looks uncomfortable in her dress, made even worse by the fact it's identical to the dress the other slim, beautiful broidsmaids are wearing. Her underwear carves cruel lines into her blubbery rolls, her feet look like hams stuffed into her shoes and her face as though there's a sausage strapped to her chin. (This image made me laugh out loud in the internet cafe when I first thought of it.)

The photos also reveal that I was the most strategic bouquet deployer. The others are holding theirs like they don't know what to do with them. But I know. They are camouflage. Of course my sadness was not just the broidsmaid business, you know. There was a boy. He had not yet rejected me, but I already knew that he would.

I decided to take Elaine's advice and have a bit of a pub crawl. At pub number two, Kelly's, which is an Irish pub, I was sitting in the window with my schooner when Meat Loaf's song, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", came on. And it seemed to me at the time to be the most brilliant elucidation of how people become trapped in the ruts of their romantic history.
Baby we can talk all night
But that ain't gettin' us nowhere...
You see, nothing now can move the song's protagonist to love, because he himself once loved and was rejected using the same crappy cynical line that he uses on his current girlfriend: that she should consider herself lucky not to have his love, because "two out of three ain't bad".

I dubbed this "Meat Loaf's Theorem". Let wanting = W, need = N and love = L.

W + N > L

Meat Loaf's Theorem is a paradox: what you see as the most valuable thing is pragmatically less valuable than the sum of two other lesser things. Hence the sum of these is 'not bad'. It is somewhat related to Madonna's Theorem, in which love depends on a recognition of suffering and humiliation endured (this recognition is the 'justification'). So let T = waiting and J = justification.

L = J(W + N + T)

Maths was my worst subject at school. No doubt some smartarse will correct me in the comments with some proper fucking equations. Anyway. Meat Loaf's Theorem is about recognising the value of what other people can offer you, instead of holding out for something they can't provide.

I started feeling resentful that Meat Loaf considered wanting and needing to override a lack of love. So I started thinking about possible permutations of Meat Loaf's Theorem. If you could only have two out of three of love, want and need, which two would not be 'bad'? I even text-messaged Rigby and Jeremy to see what they thought on this matter. Rigby asked if this was a Zen question. Jeremy was confused and slightly drunk on Jewish wine. So here are some ways Meat Loaf's Theorem can be used to identify a destructive and self-perpetuating pattern of thinking about relationships.

W + N > L
The classic example. If you are struggling vainly to win the love of someone who can only offer you need and desire, you will be unable to recognise the value of the love offered to you by anyone else.

L + N > W
Could this be the dreaded 'just friends'? When the person's love for you and need for your company outweighs their desire for you? Here, the paradox is that love and need are greater than desire, but desire always appears more valuable. So you are unable to recognise the value of friendship, yet that is all you are ever offered.

L + W > N
You are loved and wanted, but not needed. Could this be the best solution under Meat Loaf's Theorem? Who wants some clingy needy person around? But herein lies the paradox: need reveals the contingency of combined love and desire. If there is little need for combined love and desire, how can they maintain their value? You will never feel secure in a relationship.

What do you think?

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