Thursday, August 31, 2006

So I was woken up around 4am. There was a dreadful cacophony of sirens that, half-asleep, I couldn't place. There were sirens that sounded like cop cars, and others like car alarms, and others like fire trucks, and over the top of it all a dreadful rising siren that ended on an unbelievably high note. A lovely counterpoint was someone shouting what sounded like, "Heeeelp! Heeeeelp!" And in between was a stern recorded message that it took several dozen repetitions for me to understand: "Make your way to the nearest exit. Evacuate in an orderly manner."

Out of all this, it was the recorded message that chilled me. What is it about recorded emergency messages that makes me think the custard skin of our civilisation has finally been peeled off? Maybe I've been watching too many apocalyptic movies ("You have twenty seconds to comply!" "Attention! Emergency! You now have two minutes to reach minimum safe distance."), but here I was lying in bed wondering what the fuck was going down at the Commish. I even debated texting Natalya to inform her something was going down at the Commish, but I figured she could read about it in the paper this morning.

At around five-ish, the alarms stopped going off. But then came the scratching. It sounded like a little creature - a rat or mouse - scrabbling about under my bed. Sometimes I thought it was coming from the other side of the room, and sometimes I thought it was right under my head. This was much, much worse than the sirens. I lay awake thinking of all the crap in my room and thus all the hiding spots a mouse could find. Would it run across my face in the dark? Would I step on it if I got out of bed?

I wished dearly for Meep; there would be no mouse nonsense if she was around. I thought about her comforting weight on my stomach, her reassuring and unmistakable silhouette against the faint light from my window, and the sound of her miaow. I toyed with the idea of asking Natalya if I could borrow Meep to rid me of the mouse. Around five-thirty I fell into a restless sleep in which I dreamed I cleared away all the stuff under my bed only to discover that the rustling noise was two tabby cats batting about the bloodied corpses of mice.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Quelle surprise - another magazine event. Magazine parties are like that sideshow game with the gopher heads -- no sooner have you smacked one down with the mallet than another one pops up. It is just never-ending. I am so tuckered out. The trouble with relying on parties to fund the magazine is that people tend to think we do it because we are John Belushi types who just love partying, and that we put on these events in order to share the party love with like-minded people.

This is not really true. We put on events because we began raising money for the magazine this way, and now we are on this treadmill and we have to keep running in order to keep the magazine solvent. So, after hosting a successful Melbourne party and a disastrous Sydney party in quick succession, Is Not Magazine is proud to present:

YouTube Tuesdays is a movie night with a difference. We've asked the cream of Melbourne's design, publishing and general hipster universe to curate a themed program of their favourite YouTube videos. It starts tomorrow at Loop (Meyers Place, Melbourne). Arrive at 6:30pm for a 7pm screening. There will also be candy, popcorn and Mel's patented "Lucky Tubes" (or "Tubes of Mystery" as the more Late Show-minded among us may call them). Be there! Especially if you are up for a night out that doesn't end in the Sev at 4am.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Photoshopping with the stars. Check out this hella scary picture of failed quiz-show host Todd McKenney!

Now I'm no expert, but have they just run the blur tool over his forehead and cheeks and then whitened up his eyes and teeth so it looks like he's under fluoro lights on some dreadful dance floor? And what's with his skin? He looks like a jug-eared showtunes version of Data off Star Trek.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A conversation with my parents over the worst photo in the world. The magazine has been shortlisted in the Premier's Design Awards, and a few weeks ago we went to the official announcement of the shortlist, where the very worst photograph of us EVER was taken. Apparently there are more but I can't bring myself to search for them. Sometimes it's better not to know. Here is the photo, judiciously abstracted by me in Photoshop.

As you can see, it would have been a striking composition, had we not looked like complete goombahs. Our attention was brought to this photograph by Jeremy, who emailed us the link with the caption, "This is why I maintain strict control over online images of myself". But ironically, he came out the best. From left to right: Tash's eyes are reduced to slits and she looks pure evil; I have a massive pimple on the first of my two chins; Jeremy looks fine (although he claims his ears are sticking out); Penny blinked and came out looking brain-damaged; and Stuart looks like a rabbit caught in headlights.

I thought it was so funny that when I was at my parents' house for my official Family Birthday Dinner, I had to show them the photo. Here is a vague transcript:

Mel: Look: it's not even full size. I can make it even bigger!
Mel's Dad: Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Mel: Lucky Tash's coat is obscuring my body.
MD: You don't look so bad. Who's that in the middle?
Mel: That's Jeremy.
MD: Is he the American?
Mel: Yes. Mum! Are you coming to see this?
Mel's Mum: All right.
MM: Who is that with the enormous scarf? I've never seen a bigger scarf.
Mel: It goes Tash, me, Jeremy, Penny and Stuart.
MM: Is Jeremy the American?
Mel: Yes. Look at Penny! A-haa ha hah ha ha ha hahh!
MM: Is Stuart Penny's boyfriend?
Mel: Yes. But look at her! Ahhhh-haha-ha-hah!
MM: I think that Stuart looks worse.

Update, 22 August: Here's what Choc had to say on the subject:
Subject: Gold
From: Choc
Date: Tue, August 22, 2006 10:11 am
To: Penny

I just saw the publicity shot you guys had for the premiers award!

Actually, I saw the shot about 13 minutes ago. I've only just recovered from a torturous laughter fit. I think its caused internal bruising.

Way to go!

I want to see you outdo that beauty if you win. Although I can't imagine how. You'd need to call Peter Jackson and get him to CGI some Lord of the Rings shit.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The book meme. As tagged by Fluffy. Here are the rules of this meme:
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
  6. Tag five people.
I am sorry, but I just can't bring myself to tag anyone. And I also am filled with a piquant combination of dismay and disgust as I reveal that the closest book to me was Issue 5 of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, with its oh-so-whimsical "Simple Red Cover". I've railed before about how much I dislike McSweeney's. So it galls me intensely that as I looked around our small, vomit-smelling office (I think I've mostly got rid of the smell by throwing away the half-cup of tea that Penny forgot about several days ago and keeping the window open), I could not see many books.

There were comic books, design magazines in other languages that necessitate our entering our own press coverage into Babel Fish ("Small zeitungsformate become allegedly ever more popularer. In Australia, here a group from creative transverse philosophers to true large on admits itself not in such a way and shifts a three square meters large magazine."), newspapers that I haven't even got to read... and then Stuart's bookshelf, upon which sits a revolting collection of McSweeneyses. So it is that I bring you the following, which undoubtedly will blow your tiny minds and drive you straight to the tattooist to get Dave Eggers's face inscribed on your body.
In college I studied philosophy, because I still believed that you could understand the world by thinking about it. When that turned out not to be true I forgot most of what I'd read, but one thing stays with me, one moment: that part at the end of the Symposium where Socrates says, "Starting from individual beauties, the quest for the universal beauty must find you ever mounting the heavenly ladder, stepping from rung to rung -- that is, from one to two, and from two to every lovely body, from bodily beauty to the beauty of institutions," and so on. The heavenly ladder. What a beautiful idea that was: that, just by thinking about it, you could climb away from everything familiar, from the earth to the sky and up and up and up.
That was from "The Observers" by Paul LaFarge. Although there are many more egregious McSweeneys moments in the same volume, such as "Excerpt from the Rodney Rothman Underlined Holy Bible in Outline-Styled Small-Cap Italics" and "Excerpt from Rodney Rothman's 'Rollercoaster'", which consists entirely of "Wheeee..." and breaks off after one or two pages only to continue on random later pages. I will put this vile volume away now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Birthday text messages. My phone can only store ten text messages at once, so I am recording the messages I received here so I don't lose them. I've updated this post with all the text messages I received on this, the sad occasion of my 29th birthday. On the upside, it is only four more years until my "Jesus Birthday" party, to which everyone has to come as their favourite religious figure.

From Tash:
Melski! Happy b'day! I wanted to write you a b'day poem but the only rhymes I could come up with were smell and poo... Have a lovely day! X

From Emah:
Happy bday gorgeous! Have a lovely day... X

From Leanne:
Happy birthday smellski! I will probably grope you on friday night in celebration.

From Jeremy:
Happy birthday. Sheeeet.

From Cam:
Hi mel am I correct in thinking it is your birthday? If so happy birthday! Give me a call if you're not out partying. Cam

From Jordana:
Happy birthday miss mel! I will have to buy you a drink to celebrate at the party friday! x

From Dougie (received 16 August, 12:09am):
Happy birthday for 8 minutes ago!

I also received singing birthday phone calls from my dad (who gave up after the first "Happy birthday to you!"), from Penny ("Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh nuh! They say it's your birthday!") and from Natalya (who bravely got the entire "Happy birthday" song out, but with weird tempo shifts throughout. Natalya also made me a heart-shaped chocolate cake.

In addition, I received a gift from my hipster housemates. It is a framed illustration of a child with "Jesus" written on its face. This, I believe, is a homage to my "Jesus" brooch, which is currently decorating my new bag.

Now I am leaving the office to have cupcakes at Switchboard. Then I think I will do some op-shopping in Brunswick. Then tonight I am going to trivia at the East Brunswick Hotel, where we will kick Team Suppository Channel in the arse and win our third straight week, hopefully with some free jugs along the way.

Stay tuned for another post about things I would like to do during Mel's Birthday Week.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Note to Australian newspaper websites. It's just the little things that demonstrate how easy it would be for Australian news sites to make their content Web 2.0 friendly, and yet how far they lag behind their US and UK equivalents.

This I found at the bottom of a story from Britain's Telegraph, a website with which Fairfax should be reasonably familiar, given that it reprints so many Telegraph features rather than commissioning them from local writers.

Seriously, though, these little things really increase site traffic, as well as achieving the less measurable goal of showing that 'old media' are responsive to 'new media' developments. They make existing information-sharing tools work with the content in a simple, elegant way. And best of all, they don't require huge policy shifts, new content delivery ideas or site redesigns.

Update, 14 August: Ben has pointed out that does much the same thing. Nice buttons, too.

Their stories also have blog-style comments. On ordinary news stories, not tucked away in a 'blog section'! I admit that's old site was so crap that I still think of it as a worse online resource and don't visit it often, even though it's recently been revamped. But they have really made an effort. Go Rupert! Go!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Last Night at Holiday Camp": an official Mel's Birthday Week event. This coming Friday (18 August), Is Not Magazine is having a summer camp-themed fundraising party called "Last Night at Holiday Camp". If you have a talent you would like to showcase in the talent show, please email me!

Also, please check out the Mel-customised splendour of the magazine's MySpace.

This will be an official Mel's Birthday Week event. It would be lovely to see you there. And there is also the urgent financial imperative that if you come the poster distribution mafia won't have to chop off our little fingers...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My upcoming birthday -- a cavalcade of civilised foods and drinks. It is my birthday this coming Tuesday. Here are some photos I found by Google Image Searching "Mel's birthday".

I have realised sadly that I have left it too late to have a birthday party because all the suitable dates (Friday 11, Saturday 12, Friday 18, Saturday 19) are already booked out with other people's events and thus nobody would come to mine. However, I have decided to persist with the notion of Mel's Birthday Week. So I declare that Monday 14 August to Sunday 20 August shall be Mel's Birthday Week!

I shall detail in a subsequent post the places and events at which we may meet and celebrate my birthday. But right now I have to go and kick Centrelink in the proverbials for daring to cut me off the dole.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Adam, this one's for you! Have you ever noticed that Adam has inspired some of my more ridiculous stunts? This was the man who appeared in public in a chicken suit. Anyway, he said in the comments to my last post that my SMH headshot needed more "hand on face". Well, thanks to my rudimentary Photoshop skills, here you go!

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