Monday, February 27, 2006


I think I am broken. I found the above images while googling "fucked in the head". Also, I totally didn't learn from my brush with the Bagel O' Doom and ate a "breakfast roll" from Arcadia this morning that was absolutely scrumptious but played havoc with my digestion. I feel quite sad today, especially as I have now missed The Biggest Loser and so tonight offers nothing for me - nothing! Except if I call someone to ask if I can hang out with them and they don't answer and then text me that they are going to the gig of some hip rock band instead.

Natalya and I have invented a wonderful new television show called Law & Order: Hot Cops. I would pitch it to the network execs as "Law & Order meets Arrested Development meets Sex and the City in an unholy mash-up of street justice and male stripping". It centres around Gob from Arrested Development, when he was a stripper. He and his fellow strippers would form an elite squad known as the Hot Cops, and they would go around solving relationship crimes and interrogating suspects in a relentless spectacle of flesh and velcro.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A little bit about me. I was thinking about TimT's recent comment that he thought he'd seen me on the tram. Indeed, if he was talking about Sunday, he might well have seen me. I realise that I can be a little secretive on this blog sometimes. I don't really tell you much about myself, what I've been up to, or what I think about things and people. So today I'm gonna let it all hang out. People. Don't google me. (Although someone googled "mel bagel" yesterday to find this blog - I hope they consider themselves warned.) I have done the googling for you. And here I am.

I have something to do with Newtown Abbey in the UK. I also like children.

I was second runner-up in the 2003 Miss Teen California pageant. I am listed as wanting to be an obstetrician/gynaecologist one day, but they obviously didn't understand me properly because what I really said was that I was "gonna blow yo' minks, bitches!" I am from Oakland, you see.

I am principal of the Academy of Green County in Xenia, Ohio. I hope you remember that, respect my authoritah, and come to my office frequently to be disciplined. Grrr. Fear the mo, people. Fear the mo.

That's me in the middle, mofos. I am laughing at your puny goatee because I have a glass of sav blanc and am not afraid to drink it. This is because I am President of Independence Technology.

It's a little-known fact that I once ran a shady dive bar on the bad side of town. That's where I learned to cheat at cards and slam hard liquor, a little bit like Marion from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with less Himalaya.

This is a chalk and pencil drawing I did. It's called Blue Eyed Wolf because wolves are pretty much my favourite animal. You can buy it in Charleston, North Carolina.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Natalya does it again! I laughed helplessly just a minute ago when I opened this. Michael Caton-like, I said to myself, "This is going straight to the blog!"

The font makes this, I think. I plan to do up a riposte, but right now I am all Photoshopped out from preparing Jeremy the best birthday present ever yesterday.

Edit! Here it is!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Subeditors: please cue the Benny Hill theme. I was quite delighted this morning to read this article, because I always like to hear news about Crikey. But for me, the most delightful thing was the photo caption. What a lovely smackdown.

(Click to enlarge)

I have always been a sincere admirer of subbies who push the envelope. And I am obviously not alone in this. Therefore, I propose the formation of the Subeditorial Antics Appreciation Society (SAAS). Ever vigilant for pun headlines, snarky imputations, unfortunate errors and other amusing subeditorial capers. Who's with me?

Panda love! I am very proud of my valentines and would like to display them here, but that would be discourteous to the people for whom I did them specially. But I would like to recount an episode of panda love that occurred between me and Natalya.

You see, we enjoy playing that game that goes under a variety of different names, but my favourite name is "Death Is Not An Option", in which you make your friends pick who to fuck out of two equally grotesque public figures. Natalya and I were playing this game around the time Kerry Packer died, when she started laughing hysterically and saying, "Kerry Packer or a panda?" She was of course referring to the Simpsons episode in which Mr Burns recruits Homer as his 'prank monkey'. Homer trips over and inadvertently 'presents' to the panda in the zoo while dressed in a panda suit. ("I may be naked and reeking of panda love, but I still have my dignity".) After this, we have become slightly obsessed with the concept of 'presenting'.

So now you have the context, here is my valentine to Natalya:

She wasted no time getting on the computer and Photoshopping up a response:

Can you feel the love in our house?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Corporate Love Day! (allegedly TM Adam.)

So today I wasted a large amount of time on Photoshop making crappy Valentines for my nearest and dearest. Obviously my friends and crushes got the best ones. Incidentally, if you are nurturing a crush on me, now is the time to let me know. I am still free this evening and I take these things very much to heart.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The pleasures of singalongs. Lately I have been taking real pleasure in very dorky old-fashioned entertainments. On Saturday night, while some people were at parties and bars and whatnot, I sat in the living room with Natalya and Stephen, singing along to old TV themes ("Show me that smile, oooh show me that smile!", "what was she to do, where was she to go, she was out on her fannyyyy!"). We had such fun.

Then last night I went to the launch of the new Sleepers Almanac with the other magazine editors. Sleepers is very proud that its launches are "literary events". This one was very dull. The venue was too small; we couldn't even get in the door. Luckily, we were fresh from a meeting held at Troika, and had been well primed with beer and wine.

Importantly, Penny had had two glasses of wine, which rendered her completely shitfaced as she never usually drinks. That day she had bought a Bonds singlet from the Basement, which appeared blue when she bought it, but when she put it on, it was revealed to have strange Hypercolour properties! Imagine the scene: we're in the bar downing more drinks, surrounded by 'serious' creative writing types, as Penny exhorts us to grab her boob to get the traditional Hypercolour handprint.

The real fun began when she decided to play the piano in the foyer. Her hand-eye coordination was a little off (although this didn't stop her caning me at Pacman in the pub later on), but she attracted the attention of Casey Bennetto, writer of Keating! The Opera. The two of them proceeded to stage an impromptu cabaret performance of such standards as "New York, New York", "Big Spender" and "The Lady Is a Tramp", which degenerated agreeably into an all-in pop singalong.

I can't describe how exciting it was to me to hear Casey launch into the jubilant opening bars of "Head Over Heels". I had had several brewskis myself, and I believe I may have jumped up and down with delight. Emah was dragged away from her glass of wine to serenade the crowd with her now-notorious rendition of "Wuthering Heights". Penny and I were photographed doing interpretive hand gestures to "Bohemian Rhapsody". Other songs I can recall were "What a Fool Believes", to which Tash and I danced (imagine that! I haven't danced to mere piano accompaniment since I stopped doing ballet in 1990), and "Ashes to Ashes", in which I did the synth line and the spoken bits ("I never did anything out of the blue. Whoa whoa.")

By the end, people were standing around in the foyer singing along, and the Sleepers women were looking somewhat put out that their event had been hijacked by these upstart editors whose magazine is nothing but a cheap gimmick and whose launches are not literary events but degenerate boozefests. The climax was "Livin' On A Prayer", sung, complete with guitar solos, by Dan, with the crowd joining in on the chorus. Casey was a broken man: dripping in sweat, he endured our adulation for a minute or two before staggering off to the bar. Elated, we repaired to the pub for chips and gravy. Penny was in fine form, except when she fell off her chair. We walked home at about 11:30, as Penny sang with abandon:
Gina works the diner all day
She wears an ugly uniform
And a badge that says 'Dana'
Perhaps I haven't complained here about the dwindling opportunities for communal singing. I had this conversation towards the end of last year when Stephen, his housemates and his brother Bradley (who is a concert pianist) went to the local Carols by Candlelight, and were so enthused with the singalong that they stormed the Great Northern because they knew it had a piano. But the pub was full of bogans and they did that embarrassing thing where you go in one door, do a circuit and then leave by the other door.

We were saying that there are probably plenty of adults who really long for singalongs, and there would probably be a huge market for Carols by Candlelight nights held in bars. See, I believe group singing is something everyone loves, no matter their vocal ability. Before the spread of recorded music, people used to have plenty of opportunities to sing in groups around the piano or the pianola, and sheet music of popular (eg: music hall) songs was a boom industry. But with the advent of technology, singing has been individualised: you sing in the shower, or in your car, or at karaoke. Moreover, amateur singing has been overtaken by narratives of stardom: whether it's the individual singer as karaoke star, or as Pop Idol.

Meanwhile, group singing has become institutionalised: you have to join school and church choirs or semi-professional choral societies, and then you sing a narrow repertoire. The rare occasions we sing informally in group situations are on dancefloors when women shout lyrics at each other across their handbags, in footy changerooms and pubs where men group-hug and bellow the team song or "Khe Sanh", or at parties when people end up singing "Summer of '69" or "Tears in Heaven". Hey, I wonder if any of Guy's friends remember me as the drunkard at his 21st singing and playing the piano.

I suspect I gravitate towards musical people - we've been known to burst into fully harmonised a capella on public transport, to go sick at karaoke, to write songs for and about each other, and to badger each other to sing for entertainment at social functions. But still, I just can't tell you the pleasure I got from simply singing around a piano. And I think people should do it more.

As I've written here before, I suspect the pleasure group singing gives is one of inclusion: of being part of something larger. (As an aside, I love the way I managed to put my "Thriller" dance-off desire into action after two years of talking about it, even if the dance-off did lead to one of the most painful humiliations of my life.) Specifically, I think it's a corporeal and affective thing: you feel yourself becoming part of a larger whole, producing this wall of sound with your body.

And I think there's a strong component of nostalgia; not just because of the rich cultural history of singalongs, but because for most of us, our last experience of group singing is as a child. Think about how Carols by Candlelight is always pitched as a children's event. For me, this was encapsulated last night in the piano chords of "Head Over Heels", which I now indelibly associate with Donnie Darko, a film that in turn I associate with the bittersweet knowledge of youth's impermanence. I want to have more piano singalongs, soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Law & Order: Special Valentines Unit. It was apparently featured on BoingBoing some time ago, but I have only just discovered Californian artist Brandon Bird's series of Valentines. You might recognise Bird from illustrations he's done for The Believer. He was selling these as cards but apparently has run out.

My favourite is the middle one. Perfect for the hipster in your love life this Corporate Love Day. But while at first glance this is the typical sort of cute pop-culture idea that always seems to get a run on BoingBoing, and the internet in general, I think the cards are much more ambivalent and disturbing. They take the show's dark musings on love, loyalty, sex, violence, death and vengeance, and turn them into slogans so flippant that we stop being entertained and titillated and realise what a fucked-up show it is. Take this one featuring Detective Olivia Benson:

Isn't this card twisted? It binds together a number of overlapping ideas within the series, and within criminology more generally. That raped and bashed women stay in the situation because their abusers tells them they're 'special'; that stalkers single out and pursue their female victims by sending them creepy cards like this one; that when the cops intervene, they reassure the victim that she's a worthy human being despite the degradation she's suffered. Benson's role in the series always seems to be this kind of comforter. But she is also an ambivalent figure too, because if my memory serves me correctly, she was a child of rape herself, and she's been stalked, and there have been moments of breakdown where these competing personal motivations override her regard for procedural justice, and she avenges victims by killing or brutalising their rapists.

Likewise, the series is always suggesting that her partner, Stabler, is not so far from being a sex offender himself. I watched last Sunday's episode at Jeremy's house; unexpectedly, because I haven't watched any of the Law & Orders regularly since the Donald Street years. It was the most morally dubious plotline I've ever seen on a series that specialises in portraying the ways the law is twisted in order to achieve the protagonists' subjective notions of 'justice'.

The episode began with the usual red herring: some chick was raped, and they suspected this guy, craggily played by Robert Patrick (at one point Jeremy said, "Why doesn't he just turn into mercury and escape?"), who had just got out of jail that day. So the rest of the episode was dedicated to this complicated sting operation in which Stabler has to go undercover as a paroled sex offender, including attending group therapy and talking about the 'offence' that'd landed him in Attica, in order to win the Terminator's trust and see if he'd confess. But by the end of the episode, they're completely not interested in finding the initial rapist; they've become consumed by this increasingly elaborate entrapment scam.

Naturally, he finds it easy to get the Terminator's trust. Because of his sublimated desire for statch-rape, natch. They end up crusing for punani in a black van that screams rapemobile (their phrase, not mine!!). Late in the episode, the Terminator gives Stabler one of those "We're not so different, you and I" speeches at gunpoint. And the parole shrink, who doesn't know Stabler's undercover, is concerned about his (ongoing) anger management issues. The episode ends with Stabler casually telling the assembled cops that the Terminator "might need an ambulance". How unbelievably amoral is that?

As a total aside, I think I heart Brandon Bird. Here is a picture of him in which he has a touch of the Jack Osbournes and the John C Reillys. He also has all sorts of awesome ephemera on his site, like school reports, email exchanges, and art juvenilia. I can't help liking him despite the Eggersness - and, dare I say, the McCreaness - of it all. It is a dirty love.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Putting the 'mutual' in mutual obligation. This week, my tedious Centrelink obligations meant that I had to apply for ten jobs in two days. Did I tell you that things have got so bad that I've resorted to asking for money from my Uncle Johnny? Well, they make you apply for ten jobs a fortnight, and if you don't show up at interviews or accept job offers, no matter how distasteful or unrelated to your experience and interests, then they'll cut you off. After three months, they start getting hard-arsed and requiring you to do the dreaded 'mutual obligation'. I have put 'part-time work' down as my preferred mutual obligation activity. It was all very depressingly Orwellian, down to the absurd bureacracy. The secret, apparently, is to lie your pants off and not be afraid to contradict anything you've previously told them.

Unfortunately, I am probably the most lamely honest dole bludger since that woman who wrote a gobsmacked sob story for The Age about it. I have actually applied for these jobs, rather than just copying down phone numbers of hospitality ads in the Epicure. On the plus side, it has made me far less picky and hesitant - even if I'm not especially well qualified, I'll apply anyway. And I don't get too depressed if they reject me or never even get back to me, because it's still something for the ole dole diary.

As a result, I have got myself into somewhat of a pickle. I have to go to a job interview on Monday, proofreading classified ads for a company called Salefest. Yes, Salefest! In McKinnon. I don't even know where that is, except that it's in Zone 2. I don't even care if they read this, because I totally don't want the job, but I had to fill out my dole diary somehow. I put in a crappy application, yet they called me back within hours asking me to interview with them. They must be having trouble getting someone in: this job has been advertised for weeks and I've deliberately avoided applying for it. I have been trying to put them off by rescheduling the interview saying I am having trouble meeting a deadline, but she just thanked me for the courtesy of rescheduling! Gah! Obviously I can't put a foot wrong with these people. What a farce.

I have always been one to make sex analogies for every occasion. So I was thinking today that it's a pity there's no Centrelink for single people who can't get laid. Just imagine. You would apply to Sexerlink and they would make you provide all sorts of humiliating documentation to determine how long it had been since your last root, including a "separation certificate" from your last partner. Then they would make you proposition ten people per fortnight, and write down their names and phone numbers in a booklet. (Sexerlink would have the right to call up these people and confirm that you did in fact try it on). And it doesn't matter how unattractive the person: if they are willing to sleep with you, you've gotta fuck 'em.

So after three months of letting you give it your best shot, it would be time for Mutual Knobligation to make sure you're "knob ready". They'd make you answer a questionnaire with questions like "Are you willing to travel up to 90 minutes to answer a booty call?" and "If required, can you start a new relationship with one day's notice?" They'd make you attend compulsory pick-up line and body language seminars with your Knob Network Partner. You'd be compulsorily subscribed to RSVP with a lame profile that your Knob Network would prepare for you, and you would have to show up to dates with anyone who asked, regardless of how little you want to have sex with them.

And you'd have to hand in fortnightly forms with people's names and phone numbers. They'd ask:
Sexerlink would still force you to proposition people and go on dates, and would only stop bothering you when you got into a steady relationship. You'd hate it, but it would be good for you, too, because you'd have to get over your pickiness, crippling shyness and loathing of being pushy. You might enjoy yourself. And you might even fall in love along the way.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lonely song musings. Lately I have really felt annoyed at the grammatical incorrectness of that Air Supply song, "Two Less Lonely People in the World"
Two less lonely people in the world
And it’s gonna be fine
Out of all the people in the world
I just can’t believe you’re mine
In my life where everything was wrong
Something finally went right
Now there’s two less lonely people
In the world tonight
I like the economic rationalist sentiment of this song: that if you're lonely you should just hook up with some other lonely person, regardless of whether you're attracted to them, in order to reduce the world's overall loneliness quotient. (I did that test a few months back when I was feeling particularly miserable, and I scored 51%.) It's also a persuasive pick-up line: "Come on, we're both lonely, so why not?" There have been many times that I have wished this line of thinking actually worked.

However! If it were up to me, the song would go "Now there are two fewer lonely people in the world tonight". Although I do kind of like the slippage. The song could also suggest that finding a partner doesn't eliminate your loneliness altogether; it just makes you a little less lonely. I like the image of two people lying in bed at night together, trying to hide their lonely tears from each other.

Also, just this morning I was listening to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" by the Temptations:
Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Until shamefully recently, I used to think the line was, "And when he died, all he left us was a loan." And I thought, "What a miserable bastard, never being there for his kids and then saddling them with all his debts!" But then it occurred to me that all he'd left them was "alone", which is a much more maudlin sentiment. I prefer my interpretation.

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