Monday, January 30, 2006

How I kickstarted my stand-up comedy career. Last week I had a dream in which I made my debut as a stand-up comedian in the 1970s. The Seventies bit was important because in my dream, I rationalised that audiences were less demanding back then. I would like to emphasise that I actually made up this routine in my dream. It is lame, of course, but no lamer than my conscious jokes. Okay, so in the dream I was naked but covered in vines, like a wall, so I appeared all green and leafy. I got up there and my routine went as follows...

So it's not much fun to be all covered in vines like this. I went up to a gardener and I said, "Can you give me a trim?" He said, "Do I look like a beautician to you?" I said, "What are you talking about?" and he said, "I'm not in the business of trimming a lady's bush!"

The audience laughed uproariously at this, because it was the Seventies and 'bush' was the ultimate in sophisticated repartee. Heartened, I continued...

So when he was done, I was naked except for a topiary over my crotch. I said to the gardener, "What have you done?" and he said, "What? This is how I was taught to trim a box hedge!"

That's all I can remember about the dream, but I was particularly chuffed at the 'box hedge' joke, which has actually got a laugh from several people I've told about this.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

From the cakehole of Courier. Last night I was watching the tennis on TV, which proved unexpectedly amusing. It was a match between Roger Federer and a weedy-looking dude called Nicolay Davydenko. At one point, Federer was poking with his racquet at something on the court, which was revealed to be a large bug of some sort. A ballboy who looked about ten picked it up with his fingers and carried it away, to thunderous applause. At another point, I observed that Federer should have personalised notepaper that says at the top: "From the Forehand of Federer".

I didn't see the end of the game, but apparently Davydenko "choked" and "squandered a glorious Grand Slam opportunity". Pretty harsh, Herald Sun. The chief amusement, however, came from commentator Jim Courier, who before this night had only a dim presence in my memory as a tall American Fantapants with a 'big serve', who had achieved some tennis success in the mid-90s.

Courier scores 'love all' at some New York social event.

I can't believe what a retarded commentator he is. Courier made perhaps the lamest and least incisive observations I've ever heard. A few that I can recall were:

"And the look on Davydenko's face - that's sheer terror." (Courier is psychic.)
"Federer's last shot was very Swiss." (They should bring up a Swissness graph on the screen.)
"Tennis is all about being better than your opponent." (And so is every other sport.)

Four on the floor. This meme comes from Virginia. I really wonder about the utility and entertainment value of memes sometimes - do they really illuminate the person answering the questions, or is it just a pile of useless tidbits? Nonetheless I am immensely vain and so you shall all know my answers...

Four Jobs I've Had
Icecream shopgirl
Market research interviewer
Magazine editor
Nando's cashier

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
The Terminator (and Terminator 2: Judgement Day)
Pretty Woman

Four Places I've Lived
Box Hill South
East Brunswick
Goddamn North Melbourne
Straight Outta Carlton

Four TV Shows I Love
Video Hits

Four Places I've Been on Holidays

Four of My Favourite Dishes
Lasagne at Trotters, Lygon Street
Chilli Eggs at Cafe Sweethearts, South Melbourne
Warm chicken salad at Caffe e Torta, Royal Arcade
Chicken parmigiana (w/chips, salad) at Union Club Hotel, Fitzroy

Four Sites I Visit Daily
Yahoo! Mail
Go Fug Yourself
Google News
A Wild Young Under-Whimsy

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
At home reading my book (Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford) with cat on lap
On the footpath outside Jimmy Watson's with a pitcher of dry and dry
Any of the food and drink venues listed above
On a date (preferably involving gin and tonics) with any of my current crushes

Four She's a Jolly Good Fellow
I will not be tagging any more bloggers.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Only two calories of crap. I had heard something about how Coke Zero was meant to be Coke's belated attempt to compete with Pepsi Max. (For me, the black packaging says 'hardcore', in the way that stronger pre-mixed alcohol packages itself as "Smirnoff Black Ice".)

I used to drink obscene amounts of Coke and still retain a tremendous affection for the Black Aspirin. So, the weekend before last, egged on by Jeremy, I tried Coke Zero. He claimed it tasted "just like regular Coke", and despite knowing that Jeremy doesn't drink Coke, his mere Americanness was enough to convince me to taste it.

Crap!!! It tastes nothing like normal Coke! If you somehow prefer the taste of aspartame and phenylalanine to good, honest cornstarch syrup, then you might like Coke Zero. But I hated it and was mad at myself for having been sucked in. So you might imagine I was quite pleased to read the following unsubstantiated tip from today's Crikey email (now successfully rid of that embarrassing Reader thingo):
The launch of Coke Zero is causing major problems within Coke. We started with a viral teaser campaign called the zero movement which has totally backfired – consumer backlash may cost the PR firm and the marketing personnel responsible dearly. All you have to do is Google it to find all the reactions. Also the trade is lukewarm to the product after the disaster of Coke Lime and also after finding out Coke Zero failed in the US. We have forcibly allocated massive amounts of stock (supermarkets say too much) and there are some nervous store managers out there. We are also scared that our marketing dept and ad agencies have lost the plot after a string of below average ads and terrible program sponsorship decisions (eg X factor). There is no confidence that the Zero launch will get any better. And forward orders for regular Coke and Diet Coke are more than 50% down leading alot of us to believe that we are just going to cannabilise our own sales, instead of going after Pepsi who are doing very well at the moment stealing our share with great advertising but Coke head office does nothing!
Google it, you say... I did but I got bored before I read all the results. But not before I discovered that at USA Foods in Bentleigh, you can buy a demonic drink called Dr Pepper Diet Cherry Vanilla. As if Dr Pepper itself isn't bad enough! Anyway, AustralianInFront had mixed opinions. But in the end, it was this story in The Age about the Coke Zero teaser campaign that annoyed me most, with its faux-surprise at what is really a very well-worn marketing tactic:

It's enough to make you think the posters are the work of some lefty underground movement - one in which the members scour Melbourne after dark looking for prominent sites to paste their posters anonymously.

Wrong. So, so wrong. The zero movement is, in fact, the creation of one of the world's most mainstream corporations - the Coca-Cola Company. It's also an example of the latest trend in marketing; one that reflects a significant shift in the way products are pitched to consumers.

Put simply, consumers don't like to be considered mainstream. And they certainly don't take well to advertisers telling them what's "in" or what's going to be the next big thing. Rather, they like to discover it for themselves.

So, although "the movement" has the most capitalist of aims - to sell products, namely the company's latest creation, Coke Zero - Coke's name and logo appear nowhere on the posters.

The posters simply plant the seed and leave discovery of the product to word of mouth on the street, literally. Pavement stencils are also part of the campaign, as are billboards, black rubber wristbands and a blog-like website. Again, there's no mention of the huge multinational corporation behind "the movement". It even has its own mission statement - "to rid the world of all the negative consequences that limit us all".

Anyone familiar with my regular windmill-tilts at my favourite intellectual journal, Sunday Life, would instantly recognise the smug certainty about consumer behaviour that puts the red mist before my eyes. But in this case, street posters are seen to be the domain of two equally lame and reprehensible kinds of publications: advertising campaigns trying to trick us into buying stuff, or "some lefty underground movement" trying to manipulate our beliefs.

Reading it, I realised afresh how important it is to me that the magazine never becomes seen as either of these things. The freedom to be creative and curious and to form one's own beliefs is so important. Especially the belief that Coke Zero tastes like crap.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


(Click to enlarge) I hear there is some lame music festival on the same day, but our launch is a much better alternative because you don't pay outrageous prices for everything. Indeed, the bulk of it is free. Allegedly, I will be providing a service in which I am a cigarette girl who will offer to light your cigarettes, but only after I have sung you my special Lighter Song. There will be a cake stall (can't seem to give those up, can we??), board games, bingo, and of course, karaoke!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bagel O' Doom.* Most of my problems this week can be traced to a bagel I ate on Tuesday afternoon. I was ever so hungry after eating no lunch, so I bought this onion bagel with avocado, capsicum, cheese, cucumber, tomato, corn and hommus. At the bagelry from which I purchased it, all the bagels have ludicrous names like "Park Avenue" and "Little Italy". I can't remember what mine was called, perhaps the "Battery" or "Nolita". I wish it had been called "Meat Packing District", because it was vegetarian and that would be funny.

(Someone should go to New York and start a Melbourne-themed food shop where all the items have names like "Little Collins", "NewQuay", "Paris End", "King Street", and my personal favourite, "Greek Precinct". (Don't you think "Greek Precinct" would be a perfect 1970s cop-show gay porno? Kinda like Arsesky & Crotch.) I don't know what the food in question would be. Pies? Dimmies? Maybe chiko rolls. Yeah! Gourmet chiko rolls!)

Anyway. Back to the Bagel O' Doom! The Bagel O' Doom first reared its fearsome ring-shaped head in old New York, or New Purple as it was known in those days. (This was in the days before black had established itself as the colour to which all others would be compared.) Many New Purplers were laid low by its indigestible and doughy consistency, or at least got dreadful cramps in their jaw muscles from trying to fit it in their mouths and chew it, before an unscrupulous Melbourne bagel franchisee read about it in a dusty old history tome.

"A wonder bagel this is!" marvelled Manny McMann, shortly to become the proprietor of Shithouse Bagel Shop on Johnston Street, Fitzroy. "So doughy! So robust and full of healthful vegetable matter! I must have it on my menu!"

Before too long, hordes of groaning, zombie-like customers were staggering out of Shithouse Bagel Shop onto Brunswick Street. But nobody paid much attention, for Centrelink was next door, and the Housing Commission flats down the road, and everyone assumed these were just more local junkies.

At first, I put down my queasiness to eating lunch at 4pm, and then running around in town rather than lying down. But then on Wednesday, I woke up with that sort of stomach ache you get when you binge-eat all day, or eat a heavy meal too late at night. This lasted all day, and was at its worst when I was walking to goddamn North Melbourne (the "Do not make me run; I am full of chocolate!" effect). I didn't know whether I was hungry or too full, and as a result I didn't eat anything all day Wednesday, and then made the mistake of going grocery shopping, which resulted in my dinner being an entire container of Safeway brand potato salad, which I'd bought on special for $2.

Wednesday night my stomach was feeling so queasy, and my neck so sore from sitting at an ergonomically unsound workplace, that I set my phone alarm to go off at 2am with the reminder "Check for meningococcal rash now!" Needless to say, I slept poorly. My housemates, likewise, have not been having a good week. Natalya's crush told her he just wanted to be friends, which in the baseball system, we joked, is like being caught at short stop. And Nicolette has been watching waaaaay too much Twin Peaks. She set up a bed on the couch and watched Twin Peaks for two days straight. Meep, however, is still on the high of killing a bird in the last days of 2005 and batting it around on my bedroom floor. You have been warned. She has killed and she will kill again.

I think I'm okay now, though. Today I have eaten and drunk:

1200ml water
1 cup of tea
spicy sliced pork on rice
1 large orange/raspberry Slurpee

I think my stomach is back in business!

Shot zooms out through the hole in the centre of the BAGEL O' DOOM, hiding behind the door. BAGEL O' DOOM begins to laugh. Softly at first, but then growing more and more maniacal until it begins coughing up bits of corn and gobs of avocado and is forced to speak by wiggling its cut-up halves together and apart.

You can't resist my healthy delights for long! I'll get you next time, Mel! NEXT TIME!
* Amanda insisted on the apostrophe.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This Just In #1: Natarsha Belling. Perhaps because of seeing Good Night and Good Luck on Monday, or even just the late news after the (ahem) Victoria's Secret fashion show last night, I have decided to inaugurate a series of banal musings on the quirky personalities and foibles of Australian television news. For example: I know why they do it, but it still gives me the shits the way the item I want to watch in the late-night bulletin is always towards the end, forcing me to keep watching through several commercial breaks. Last night it was a nail-biting piece on whether men or women get more health benefits from aspirin. (The answer was that men get protection from heart attack while women get protection from stroke.)

So, to kick off this extremely semi-regular series, I bring you: Natarsha Belling! According to her Channel Ten biography, Natarsha Belling "has always had a passion for Journalism". She holds a communications degree from Charles Sturt University, majoring in broadcast journalism, with minors in politics and criminology. While still in her final year, she worked at Prime Television in Orange, NSW. At the tender age of 21, she joined ABC Radio and ABC-TV in Darwin, where she presented her first news bulletin with only 30 minutes notice! Moving to Sydney in 1998, Natarsha joined Network Ten as a reporter, receiving the Heart Week award for medical reporting in 1999. She was still only 22 when she read her first Ten bulletin. She married in 2001. She now presents the national 11.30am news, Ten's prime-time Sydney bulletin, the national late-night news and the national weekend news.

The bio adds: "Natarsha has had an impressive journalism career to date, especially for her young age and no doubt has an exciting future ahead. Her warmth, sincerity and passion for news are evident in her reporting and presenting manner."

But what the bio doesn't say is that Natarsha Belling has a terrible and embarrassing speech impediment! Or, as she herself would admit, a "tewwible and embawwassing speech impediment!" It seems ironic to me that she has that unnecessary R in her name, because she can't pronounce the letter R. I mean, just the other day she introduced a story by another Ten reporter called Harry Potter, who is doubtless going to be the subject of a forthcoming "This Just In" post. Her speech impediment was so bad that I thought his name was "Howie".

"Austwalia faces a gwowing wisk of tewwowism, the Pwime Minister said today..."

It is just mink-blowing to me how someone could have got through a major in broadcast journalism with such a handicap, let alone had a successful career at several companies where surely it would have been detected! I know they look for these things, because one friend of mine was told she was unsuitable for radio because she "popped her Ps", while another was rejected for a radio job because his voice "was too flat".

Over the years I have tried to educate my friends and housemates about Natarsha's speech impediment, and they agree in the end, but I get the feeling it's just to humour me. I feel so alone in this, like a Cassandra figure doomed never to be believed. Even the mighty Google was no help.

Just listen to Ten News, and you'll see what I mean. That was Just In. I'm Mel Under-Whimsy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cabcharge, muthafucka! Last week I was at the office and on my way to the loo, I overheard a conversation in one of the upstairs offices through the ajar door. I should add that our new office is in an Arts Precinct, and quite a few of the other tenants are byzantine arts-admin bureaucrats whose work is all about brokering grants and liaising with artists and generally facilitating shit. So I overheard this woman saying in the most Prue-and-Trude voice, "Well, just take a Cabcharge!"

Wow. That's the kind of life I want to be leading. None of this walking through the public transport dead zone to get to goddamn North Melbourne. I recounted this corridor-to-Damascus moment at our editorial meeting, and we agreed that, fuck interstate and overseas expansion, further events or increased print runs - we will only be a bona fide arts organisation when we get Cabcharge! Penny even put it on her to-do list as a joke. It's still there. By god, I will not rest until we can rap:
Jeremy: Lonsdale and Swanston!
Me: Step on it, sucka!
Jeremy: What you wanna do, Mel?
Me: Cabcharge, muthafucka!
So today I began my investigation. Initial reports were unfavourable. It might be okay for large bureaucracies and corporations, but not for magazine start-ups that struggle to fund each issue. Cabcharge extorts a service fee of 10% of every booking. Even if a month's fares work out to less than $60, there's a minimum service fee of $6 (or a minimum of $72 in service fees over a year). That's on top of the cost of the trips themselves. But there's good news: they give you the Cabcharge dockets and charge cards for free! Oh good. I'm glad we don't have to pay to obtain the basic materials that enable us to use their service.

In order to live this Cabcharge dream, I will need to implement a money-making scheme of Macchiavellian proportions. Perhaps it's time to bring back the Disco Beer Ghost Tour. Any further suggestions would be welcome.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lame celebrity crush ahoy! Yeah, so I got this email today regarding a very important matter: namely, the lamest site on the internet. It gives you the option to see which celebrities are most compatible with you, based on 'biorhythms' (aka: your birthday), or to check your compatibility with your favourite celebrity.

So I thought I'd see who it would match me up with, and I was aghast to discover I have a 99% compatibility with Lleyton Hewitt!! Yowza!

But of course, as any reader of this blog will know, I nurture a longstanding crush on another man... a certain approachably sexy man... So I wasn't going to take this Lleyton Hewitt nonsense sitting down. I was going to go straight to the source and find out my compatibility with Mark Ruffalo!

Well, crap about the physical. (In other good news, I have a 96% physical compatibility with Tobey Maguire - who's surprised!!) But how's about that emotional compatibility! Mark and I would perhaps go for long walks along the beach, run towards each other through cornfields, and loll on a bearskin rug before a roaring fire sharing our deepest feelings, like whether he feels manly or perverted if he grows a moustache, whether we were wrong to go that extra helping of dessert when we weren't really hungry, we just liked the taste, and whether we should overcome our poor physical compatibility and make wild animal love.

Vote early, vote often. I have just learned (via Desci) that this blog has been nominated for Best Victorian Blog in the Australian Blog Awards. Now I'm not modest, so those of you who claim to be amused by the jaunty crap purveyed here should totally vote for me. We're going to Victoria, and South Australia, and Tasmania, and the ACT, and to New South Wales and Queensland, and then to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and then we're going to Canberra to take back teh interweb!! Yeeeaaaaarrrrrrgghh!!!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mel's rules of thumb. I would like to share with you some of the rules of thumb that guide my life. I'm that generous. This list is by no means exhaustive and I might update it as I think of more.

1. Cafes with the street number in the name (eg "Cafe 621"), with krazy spelling or cutesy references to food, eating or being hungry (Flaver, Krave), are likely to be crap.

You know, the sort of places usually found in office precincts otherwise devoid of eateries, that business crowds go to for lunch because they can't be fucked going further afield. Or when you're in a strip of cafes and you haven't been to any of them before, you can use this method to weed out cafes that are likely to serve you rat coffee and charge you $20 for rubbery poached eggs that taste like vinegar, served with watery hollandaise and unripe avocado.

2. DJs whose deejay names are the same as their first names, or their first name with the first letter of their surname, are likely to be crap.

For god's sake, make up an entirely different name, or use your full name! If it's good enough for John Digweed, it's good enough for you! You don't see him calling himself "DJ Johnny D"!

3. A bottle of beer has the same number of calories as a sandwich.

This is actually Jeremy's rule of thumb, but I've really taken it to heart and it has totally ruined my enjoyment of beer. Even though it doesn't make sense - what kind of bread? what fillings? Sometimes I drink the equivalent of a right old corporate function. Maybe I should tell Jeremy that every salad has the same number of calories as a tub of lard.

4. Avoid wearing any colour combination that could be mistaken for football team colours.

I break this all the time because I wear lots of black and white and people go "You barrack for Collingwood, hur hur hur." But red and black is a particularly awful colour combination. Red and green (of any shade) is also a bad colour combination, because you look too Christmassy. Also, if you wear glasses, you must never, ever wear a red and white striped t-shirt, because everyone will point to you and go "There's Wally!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mel's Fashion Predictions 2006. (Simulcast on Footpath Zeitgeist.) This time last year, I made my usual rash fashion predictions. Now it's time to evaluate them and come up with more.

1. Fluoro colours.
Just today I saw a chick walking down Rathdowne Street wearing a hot-red jumper. You know: that very bright red. I liked it so much that I remarked to Amanda how nice it was. But other than people who like to wear retro clothes, my prediction of fluorescent pink and red as the colours to watch didn't exactly come true, although Supre is bringing in those kind of bright colours for summer. Instead, the hot colours of 2005 were aqua, mint green, rusty pinks and reds, and metallic shades of gold, bronze and pewter.

In general, my colour predictions stemmed from a larger prediction of a kind of 60s and 70s modernist aesthetic. This turned out to be horribly wrong, as boho ruled the racks for yet another year. Personally, I find 'boho' an overly busy and reprehensible style, but its persistence in fashion cycles is fascinating as a cultural phenomenon. There is another post in this...

2. Neckerchiefs.
Well, obviously I was spearheading this trend myself with my Jaunty Pussy look. For a large part of the year, I took to wearing a silk scarf or ribbon around my neck, tied in a pussy-bow. More recently, I've modified the look to include the wearing of men's ties in pussy-bows. I have also experimented with pinning brooches and button badges across the knot, which I have found provides a satisfyingly jaunty effect.

By May, scarves were declared to be back, vindicating me. I still see the occasional young rock scenester with a neckerchief on. Curiously enough, waistcoats and braces came back in 2005, for both men and women, and there is a certain category of Melbourne hipster who gets about looking like something from the Ecky Thump episode of The Goodies:

"Eee bah gum!"

There was a cute episode in December where I was chatting to one of these creatures and described his outfit as "ultraviolent". He mustn't have heard me properly because he replied, "Um, no, it doesn't glow in the dark."

3. Backwards stuff.
I tried wearing Jaunty Pussy bows backwards, especially if the ribbon ends were very long and dangled down the back, but it never looked right on me. That said, I did notice women wearing scarves tied in their hair with the ends dangling down the back. But really, there wasn't much conviction behind this prediction. And it didn't really happen.

4. Long dangly single-stranded necklaces.
I'm pleased to say that I was totally on the money on this front. I had been envisaging necklaces with jewelled pendants, or perhaps the ones consisting of lengths of chain interspersed with pearls and faceted glass beads. These were indeed in fashion, especially Victorian-looking faux jet beads, and necklaces with ribbon bows attached. Long strings of different-coloured and shaped beads were also in fashion: the sort I used to call 'ethnic'. I had one of those in my early teens, until it broke one day on Swanston Street and the beads went everywhere, unable to be retrieved. If it had remained intact I'd have worn it this year.

But a welcome addition, and one I didn't predict, was the popularity of large, chunky necklaces made of brightly coloured plastic or wooden beads. Ranging in size from small beads at the nape to enormous ones dangling between the breasts, these were available in all sorts of shops, and I loved them but couldn't afford them. However, I have got lots of mileage out of some plastic necklaces that I already had: a long strand of white beads, and a short necklace of red beads that I call my "Marge Simpson".

And now to my 2006 Fashion Predictions!

1. Back to School
Blazers covered in button badges have been around for years on the indie scene, and they were popular in the mainstream (Jeans West was pushing them particularly hard) earlier in 2005. I predict that more nostalgic, preppy images of school are going to make a comeback in 2006. White shirts with t-shirts underneath and stripey ties askew. Ribbons worn around ponytails. Ankle and knee socks. Button-down print minidresses. Mary-Jane shoes and T-bar sandals. Oversized jumpers with holes in the wristbands to stick your thumbs through. In fact, because nothing at school ever fits properly, I predict that outfits will be put together with one deliberately too-small or too-large item.

Pencil cases carried as clutch purses or, with straps added, as little handbags. I already use an aqua-blue vinyl pencilcase as a carry-all in my bag to ensure I never have to scrabble around for pens, tampons, lipsticks, USB disks and the like. It's the sort that has clear windows and letters you can cut out and insert to spell out your name. My mother would never let me have one in primary school - she thought they were tacky. Well, I had my revenge!

2. Slinky stencil-print dresses
70s wrap dresses in the Diane von Furstenberg style are one of the key Jaunty Pussy looks, and I was most satisfied to see them become fashionable this spring and summer. It seems every second chick is wearing that wrap dress with a vaguely tropical stencilled print like a vintage aloha shirt - it comes in red and white, green and white and navy and beige, and costs anything from $40 to $90, depending on the poshness of the shop - I've seen it in Studio Girl ("cheapest price in town") and other Asian import stores, as well as in more upmarket boutiques. In September I pulled out my old 60s-style red and white print sundress and got plenty of compliments on it. And I just bought a slinky dress from Supre in a safari-esque black and white print.

This year I think bold prints are going to come back in - think Hawaiian meets William Morris. The prints will look like woodcuts or stencils.

The fabrics won't be crisp cottons, but slinky silks and jerseys. Check out some stuff from Furstenberg's Spring 2006 collection, as shown at the recent New York Fashion Week:

After summer the tropical stuff won't be as popular, but I predict lush Art Nouveau designs like something out of a Klimt painting. We may even see a return to the Orientalist kimono top trend of 2003.

3. Alice in Wonderland
At the end of 2004 Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For" video was all over the television, and she was appearing on TV and in magazines wearing this nutty Alice in Wonderland garb. It's wonderfully excessive: part dandy; part bling; part Marie Antoinette. It's a combination of prissiness and sluttiness with a faintly surreal sense of the absurd.

I wouldn't have thought anyone in their right mind would wear this stuff. But considering the moderate success of Jaunty Pussy in 2005, I think people will be open to wearing more formal, old-fashioned-looking stuff in 2006, but giving it a casual twist. Also, given what I've observed recently with the Clockwork Orange hipsters, doesn't this chick look capable of a bit of the old ultraviolence?

I found this picture at New York magazine, where they were espousing an Andy Warhol-esque Pop Art aesthetic as an 'autumn look'. Let's bear in mind that Factory Girl, the Edie Sedgewick biopic starring odiously bland 'style icon' Sienna Miller, is slated for release this year. And look at the high-necked blouse with the graffiti t-shirt underneath - that sort of layering is a look I pointed to almost a year ago.

Obviously I don't expect the average person to wear such ridiculous clothes. I think it will diffuse into a slightly dandyish, layered look that combines decadent tailoring with streetwear.

Happy new fashion year! Let's hope my rash predictions have some basis in reality this year.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tell me a story, Mel! I've hardly had any internet access recently, so I haven't had a chance to write on this blog. Apparently there is some shadowy audience that's amused by my ramblings. The other day Jeremy offered to pay for my internet access to ensure I kept writing. I should totally have called him on that.

But anyway. Among the things I've been pondering lately is what to do with my short fiction. I have always written fiction, and I used to subscribe to authorly ambitions of professionalism before I realised I probably wasn't good enough and should stick to hackwork. My first ever novel, finished at age 7, was an illustrated three-volume manuscript called The Adventures of the Three Robot Princesses. They were called Anna-Maria, Sarah-Jane and Marie-Celestine. Anna-Maria was accident-prone and feisty, and often the source of their misadventures. I can't remember much about Sarah-Jane, which is often the fate of middle children; but Marie-Celestine was intelligent and analytical, and often got them out of their scrapes.

My second novel, which I referred to only as my Master Novel, was a truly embarrassing epic fantasy for young adult readers. The utterly unironic story centred around a land grab by a warlike hill tribe, the Drmal, for the fertile valley country occupied by a peaceful tribe called the Llosbre. The Drmal planned to do this on the morning of the Llosbre's holiday of Peterre, the rain-god. A Llosbre girl named Alsi, who was in the forest collecting the special flowers used in the ceremony, happened upon a Drmal advance scouting party, and of course they had to kidnap her. She escaped with the help of hunky young warrior Maydl (these names were all made up by randomly striking a typewriter with my eyes closed) and sought the help of a prophesised saviour child who lived with the Nemne priests (who were basically Druids). I am so embarrassed that I can't write any more about this. I was fourteen!!

But anyway, I continued writing stories, although nothing really ever came of them. So, inspired by Shrover's Shit Novel, I have decided to put them on a blog where you can all read them and marvel at my literary genius and the astounding fact that I do not yet have a publishing contract.

The first story is called Alleura, and I wrote it for the 2002 Age short story competition, but didn't finish it in time. It begins:

Paul was asleep in the car. He wore a grey suit, with a blue striped shirt and pink tie that had begun the day looking dandyish. Now, however, the shirt was crumpled, the collar undone, the tie loosened. Paul’s petulant face was flushed in sleep like a child’s, all long eyelashes and over-red lips. His hair looked childishly rumpled too; but the fairyfloss smell of hair wax told otherwise.

The car itself was a late model BMW convertible, the colour of mercury, with soft leather upholstery in a darker grey. A woman’s beige leather jacket lay abandoned on the passenger seat. Paul was nestled into the racing-style driver’s seat. His head lolled against the headrest. His arms hung limply. The only sound in the car was Paul’s soft breathing.

Read the rest...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I have been musing over the question of New Year's Resolutions. Here are some preliminary ones I've been thinking of:

1. Be more physically affectionate. I am so hungry for physical affection and yet so susceptible to profound humiliation. This means that I am not nearly as touchy-feely as others are to me, and as I would like to be to others. I probably come across as quite stiff and unfriendly. So one of my resolutions is actually to kiss someone who goes to kiss me, rather than just offering my cheek or turning it into a hug instead.

2. Get my career shit together. It is beginning to dawn on me that I am never going to be financially secure in the lifestyle I have now. So in 2006, I have two choices. Do I refuse to compromise, make a proper go at earning a living doing the sort of jobs I love, and possibly end up in an even worse financial predicament? Or do I crumble and get a'proper' job that I hate, but that pays the bills and looks good on a CV? After all, it's only recently that Westerners began to believe the idea that work has to fulfil you. Before that, people had no illusions and they did their crap jobs because that's just what work was meant to be: crap.

I mean, I had a job interview today for a media and communications position at a large and well-known professional association. It wouldn't be particularly exciting work, and I doubt I'd have fun with my co-workers the way I have in the past. There are no lunch spots nearby. And I certainly wouldn't have time for the creative and intellectual endeavours I've always enjoyed. I walked away from the interview feeling as though I'd been released from prison. But it would be a Grown-Up Job. And I would be an idiot to refuse if it were offered to me.

3. Start a band or do something else musical. For a while I have been toying with a live show based around my bodily function concept band, Piss Shit & Vomit. I just haven't had the money to do it. And, as most people would know, I love ridiculous concept band ideas. My housemate Natalya has vowed to record a Gregorian chant album of girl-pop covers, my favourite being "Crazy in Love". There is also the magazine band. Surprisingly, Jeremy was not up for the Jewish supergroup The Roaring Morties, in which he got to be the token goy. So we'll have to think up something else. It would be a shame to waste our considerable collective musical talent.

4. Don't let my mother's bourgeois aspirations for me dictate my happiness. This is my resolution every year; and every year I fail and am unhappy because I let my mother get to me. Penny thinks my inner conflict over this is the source of my unhappiness: on one level I reject the idea of being bourgeois; but I also want to please my mother, and she really just has my future economic security at heart. And after all, she has had many more years to inculcate me than I have had to form my own opinions.

5. Find someone to love who loves me back. This is also my resolution every year, and its failure every year makes me even more unhappy than my failure to please my mother. In 2005, I think I came closer than ever and was also further than ever. I am trying to imagine new kinds of relationships beyond the lame "platonic/sexual" binary, and I'm trying not to approach people cynically. I want to think the best of people. Oh, I really hope this works out. I don't want to be hurt again.

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