Monday, February 26, 2007

The funniest thing I've seen all year. You know, people who haven't seen me in a while still ask me when I'm doing another comedy show. I tell them that I don't have enough money to fund one, but the real reason is more that if you want to enjoy doing comedy, you have to put the effort into doing it all year round and befriending Melbourne's other comedians. And while I enjoy doing comedy, think I'm okay at it (at least as good as some people in Melbourne) and know some comedians to say hello to, the magazine has kind of taken over the creative space that being a comedian might otherwise occupy in my life. I still dearly want to do some Incredible Melk stuff with a live band, but one thing I've learned about myself is that I seize projects and won't let go until I've achieved what I want from them. I'm finding it hard to find people who are equally uncompromising and tenacious about something so deeply ridiculous as The Incredible Melk.

But anyway. On Sunday night Jeremy took me to a comedy night at the Spanish Club called The Oyster Club. It's hosted by Asher Treleaven, whose schtick was about odd books that he owns. I wasn't finding him particularly funny. But then he did this joke that was seriously the funniest thing I've seen all year. I actually MySpazz messaged him to tell him how funny it was.

To realise why I found it so funny, you must understand that Total Recall is one of my favourite films. The following clip is possibly my favourite moment in cinematic history.

In the joke, Asher set up a scenario where you are expecting a parcel delivered to your house. Then you answer the door and when the delivery guy asks for you, you say: "He is coming ... But when he arrives ... do not be afraid ... because he is ... a mutant..." And then he turned around so his back was to the audience, and he started twitching spasmodically and undoing his shirt, and me and Jeremy were already laughing because we knew where this was heading...

And then Asher turned around and he had this indescribably absurd picture of Kuato's head stuck on his stomach with stickytape, with a pink rubber glove stuck on either side of it like hands. Oh sweet Jesus, how I laughed! I am laughing right now just remembering it. I don't even remember how the joke ended because I was laughing so hard I was wiping tears from my eyes. We were quite visible from the stage because we were sitting up the front and off to one side near the stage door, on two chairs without a table. We must have looked so ridiculous sitting there like puddings, laughing uncontrollably and rolling around in our chairs.

Just when I thought I could laugh no more I looked at Jeremy, who looked like he was being shaken violently by an invisible person. He was laughing like a woman, this high-pitched cackle, and it set me off into further fits of laughter. My stomach was hurting, I was laughing so much. By this stage the joke was well and truly over and the house lights had come back on for the interval, and Asher actually walked past us on his way to the bar, and we were still laughing.

It is not an especially funny joke when you read it. But it worked for me.

And another thing, I've been wondering lately... Following on from my theory about the baby hipsters who live in motherfucking North Melbourne, on Saturday night there was a massive warehouse party there. In the most desolate part of that godforsaken suburb, under some silos. Hipsters (or coolsies, in the internet's parlance) descended upon this place in their hundreds - when the cops busted it up at 4am, cabs were called for 870 people.

I was at a friend's 30th on Brunswick Street, and I decided to go to North Melbourne because I had also been invited to a tastemaker's birthday - he lives in the next street from this party. Getting out of my cab, I ran into a hipster I recognised, who explained that all the birthday partygoers had left to go to this other thing. So I thought I'd go along. I stayed until about 1am. When my cab home crossed the intersection of Swanston and Queensberry Streets, my feeling of relief was like walking into an air-conditioned building on a boiling hot day.

Even while I was there, I was curious about what was making me feel so alienated, like an impostor at this party. After all, I knew many people there. And I was wearing what my mother would call a 'get-up'. And if someone asked me who I was and what I did, I would be able to give a suitably hipstertastic response. (Such a response impressed a girl next to me in the toilet queue, who worked for a certain fashion street press run by a certain street press company with a reputation for treating its employees badly.)

It seems like such a disjuncture that my anticipated positive affects of 'sceniness' - a sense of belonging; being validated in my social choices by being surrounded by people who've made similar choices; a feeling of immersion in the event (paging Glen!) - should have been replaced so emphatically by negative ones - a sense of not belonging; feeling as though my social choices were wrong and inferior; a feeling of alienation from the event that was literally manifested in my standing on a wall like I was Poindexter.

Maybe it's because I don't have enough pride in and conviction of the coolsiness of what I do. Maybe it's because I don't believe in myself and so I can't come at the idea that other people might think I belong. Or maybe it's because I'm too fat and too old. Or not drunk enough. But I couldn't help wondering if I am in the wrong 'scene'. Or is the problem sceniness itself? I'm leaning towards the latter, because surely the affects of sceniness operate in similar ways whatever scene you're in.

I just re-read my CSAA paper because I know I'd advanced an idea that sceniness is a kind of affect that's both spatialised and temporalised, about the ways that 'moments' enable things to happen with and to the body. But the fucking paper is making no sense. You can really tell that I wrote it while I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the ideas I was trying to get my head around. Yet, I still find some of the quotes I used tantalising and meaningful. Like this one from Merleau-Ponty: "Perception does not give me truth like geometry but presences". I like the idea that things were there because they were felt. Maybe Merleau-Ponty means "truthiness".

Note: I was going to post some photos of this event, some taken by me, some taken by Pham. But I didn't end up doing this for two reasons. First, I wanted to post them to give you more of an understanding of what I felt like to be at this party, and the photos just don't convey that. As Tash said when she saw them, "It just looks like a party." And second, I didn't want to fall into that genre of mocking hipster photos: a genre that appears, self-reflexively enough, to have started with Vice magazine's Dos and Don'ts, and has expanded to Blue States Lose and even the internet's own "Shake Some Captions". I think that the party photography genre is fascinating precisely because it attempts to capture the affects of sceniness.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

SAAS Bulletin #blah. Virginia, my loyal ally in the subeditorial antics appreciation business, has pointed out to me a delightful work from The Age. You could argue that the Hez is more of a sub's paper, but while the tabloid was preoccupied with prison sex videos yesterday, Melbourne's broadsheet did a rather English job with a front-page splash about Melbourne Victory's 6-0 triumph, "JOY OF SIX".

Fairfax also seems to favour the ambiguously phrased headline. Here's a particularly good one:

In case you can't be bothered enlarging the photo, the headline in question is: "Police disarm man with chainsaw".

Monday, February 19, 2007

Maximum sex-u-rity. Did you like what I did there? For a couple of minutes I floated away to a happy place where I can make puntastic titles for imaginary prison-themed porn. This was all inspired by the Herald Sun's lurid page one splash today, "PRISON SEX VIDEOS". I was most diverted by this story, imagining some sordid and exploitative scam by prison staff to force inmates into degrading sex scenarios, which they would then film and sell on the internet. Kind of like the "dragon" scene from Starsky and Hutch crossed with Oz.

Imagine my disappointment, then, to discover that it's just some moral panic about jailed sex offenders being shown videos featuring naked kids. (Do you like the way that the Hez always refers to them as "fiends"?) These are not pornos, but movies that would have had a general release (ahem). They include:

The Truce, an Italian movie about a young man's travels after he leaves a Nazi concentration camp. It includes a scene of him watching naked boys and girls aged under ten frolicking naked in a field.

Before Night Falls, the story of gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, which includes a scene of a young boy watching naked men and boys in a river. Before Night Falls is advertised as featuring "strong sexual content, some language and brief violence" and also includes gay sex scenes.
Two questions strike me at this point. Number one, why are these people retarded enough to offer the screening of films like this at an intensive program for rehabilitating sex ofenders? And number two, can't they watch this fancy foreign smut on SBS any time they like?

But really, I must confess I found this story much less interesting than my original idea. So I will get back to my happy place and begin some more brainstorming:

Solitary Confinement
Shiv Honeyz 3
Prisoner: Cell Bonk H
Revenge of the Screws

As you were.

Update, 20 February: Of course I had to start a thread on the internet about this. Those deviants are so creative - check out some of their suggestions. As a result of being in a community of like-minded peers, I lost any residual sense of taste and morality. Here are some I came up with:

Out on Probe-ation
Monster's Balls
The Cream Mile
The Great Ass-Rape
Sex-Cons: Repeat Offenders
Judge, Jury and Sexecutioner
Cavity Search 5
Rim-anded in Custody
Prison Riot 21: All Hands on Dick
Capital Penisment
Boogie Board Bangerz: The Slappelle Cockby Story
The Bali Nine-Way

But really, I feel you can't go past Prison Break 4: Sphincters Be Bleedin'. I am still laughing helplessly at that one.

The good hipsters of the North. Here is a retarded theory that I have developed in consultation with Tash and Jeremy. This is about the places in Melbourne with a concentration of hip residents. I am no cultural geographer or demographer, and this is based on no research at all apart from my own observations, but my theory is that the younger generation of hipsters, the babies in their late teens and early twenties, are favouring North Melbourne (and its satellite West Melbourne). It's so hot right now! (Well, everywhere in Melbourne is so hot right now, especially my office, which traps the heat like a motherfucker.) My hipster housemates, who jumped ship back in December, moved into a place in North Melbourne. And that's also where you'll find 'tastemakers' like Lala and Thom. And I keep getting MySpazz bulletins inviting me to house parties in North Melbourne.

Whereas the older generation of hipsters, the ones in their late twenties and thirties, are favouring Northcote (and its satellite North Fitzroy). In my continued adventure with the internet, I am discovering that many of the 'rock' hipsters are Northcote peeps. Yet, Tash and I sat for an extended period in the window of a Rathdowne Street cafe and, apart from the extraordinary prevalence of gingers, we noticed these older hipster couples everywhere! Y'know, in their skinny low-riding jeans with the studded belts, with their enormous sunglasses and Che Guevara caps... We decided that North Carlton must be the hotspot for hipster couples.

Then Jeremy developed this theory further to suggest that North Carlton is the melting pot for the young hipsters from North Melbourne and the older hipsters from Northcote. It's a happy medium for them both when they hook up. And I said, "OMG WTF all these places begin with 'North'!" And he said, "Yeah, it just shows that North Carlton is superior to Carlton." Then I beat him twice in a row at Connect 4.

Yep. That's my retarded theory. Discuss.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Baby, you're so tense... In today's Hez there is a feature about baby massage - specifically, about how dads can get in touch (pun intended) with their babies through the power of massage. It included instructions for you to bond with your own baby. I found these a little weird and... adult.

Aside from the disturbing "Lapping it up" head on the breakout box, I have highlighted some odd-sounding bits. Here's the text:
Press a little baby oil between your palms, make eye contact and ask the baby, "Would you like a massage?"
Put on soothing music, take the phone off the hook and take time to enjoy your baby.
Now, of course it's typical of me to sully even the most innocent situations with my trademark smut. And perhaps it's the ridiculousness of asking the baby's permission when it doesn't matter, you're gonna go right ahead and massage 'em anyway. But I just can't help imagining a kind of farcical situation where the parents manipulate the dimmer switch, put on a little mellow music, such as Sade or (shudder - the soundtrack of my former housemate Jasmine's lovemaking) Portishead, and take time to "enjoy their baby". Because as the subhead contends, "Baby massage soothes all".

Now here's a conversation to take out of context. The following conversation happened today, around 2pm, in a city 7-Eleven.

"Hello, Mel speaking."
"Oh hi Mel, it's Dad. What's the name of your friend Tim's website again?"
"Pussy Be Wet."
"Pussy be what?"
"Wet. Pussy Be Wet dot com."
"How do I spell that?"

Mel looks furtively around the Sev.

"P.U.S.S.Y.B.E.W.E.T. dot com."
"Oh, I had dot com dot au. Let's just try it now."
"Is anything coming up?"
"Yes, I can see it now. Thanks Mel. Bye."

Friday, February 02, 2007

My mobile phone is a learning computer. Here is the complete list of words I have taught my mobile phone to recognise in text messages since it was fixed in December.


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