Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Living room, twilight. I'm sitting in my red velvet armchair, reading my book. Graham is in the opposite corner, lying in his favourite place: the wedge-shaped cushion of what should be the centre module of my L-shaped sofa. Because I can only fit two-thirds of the damn thing in my living room, it's the corner section.

Graham lies with his front paws outstretched – pewpewpew – and his tail curled around him. 

I'm overwhelmed with tenderness for this ridiculous little animal. "Buddy…" I say, and the tail twitches crossly by way of a reply.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015: the year in Five-Minute Photoshop. Thank god I shelled out $200-odd to have my data retrieved from my tea-soaked laptop, because among the lost files I was grieving most (my extensive Christmas music collection notwithstanding) was my precious cache of stupid sweded pics. Posting them here on my blog is one of the highlights of my year, which says a lot about how exciting my years get.

Here's the original Five-Minute Photoshop post, from March 2012. Then I decided to make it into an annual tradition: here's my round-up of 2013 in Five-Minute Photoshop, and 2014 in Five-Minute Photoshop. Well, are you ready for the past year's masterworks?

Elanor's birthday provided one of the sweded pics I was most proud of: Three Christa Wolf Moon.

I still think this fictitious ebook cover – it's the title of a book within the fictional universe of my novel-in-progress The Hot Guy – which I sweded purely to put it in my e-newsletter, is truly mint Five-Minute Photoshop. I would happily put this on Amazon to see how it fared against the works of Chuck Tingle et al. (Chuck is really good at sweding cover pics.)

Speaking of The Hot Guy, I never tire of teasing my co-author Anthony about his love for the soppy romantic drama Like Crazy – or as I refer to it, The Chair Movie. Just recently I teased him some more:

And, speaking of chairs…

For some reason Ben went into the Crikey office and sat in this ridiculous armchair in what is apparently Guy Rundle's office. So I photoshopped another, tiny Ben in the open desk drawer. I'm sure this made more sense in the context of whatever Facebook thread this was in.

I also couldn't resist doing Ben as Danny Deckchair.

The cry of every aggrieved Twitter user when they get caught in a Twitter canoe (CCed in on a conversation they aren't involved in, and then forced to read all the notifications of that conversation).

This was for Courteney, who loves Hannibal, and Mads Mikkelsen in particular.

This looks kind of insulting out of context, but Dougie had recently shared some story about his child giving him a present – a turd, laid on the floor.

Tom got a Helen MacDonald tribute card.

Again, I'm sure there was a backstory to me depicting Myke as each member of the Wiggles for his birthday.

This, for Chad's birthday, was meant to look like some kind of communist propaganda picture. Again, I can't remember why this was relevant. Maybe it was a literal take on 'radical sparkles'.

Meanwhile, my high-concept swede for Zoe's birthday also puzzled its recipient because Zoe – although generally a fan of things maritime – had never heard of The Onedin Line, the 1970s BBC period drama about an ambitious shipping line owner. To be fair, I also didn't know about it until recently, when my dad happened to mention that he loved the theme music.

It's an excerpt from Aram Khachachurian's ballet Spartacus. To be fair, I must have known the music too, because I shamelessly ripped the chord progression off for my very first song composition, which went, "Everything's lonely when you're not around/The world can't go round/without love/Don't go away, everything's lost without you/When I am without you/I frown." Oh Christ. How old would I have been? Somewhere between seven and nine? Roll over, Mozart.

When the Astor Theatre reopened, its new manager Zak was described as "a youthful Willy Wonka" because he has a pink pinstriped suit. Hence this birthday swede.

I noticed that Julie Bishop has taken over the mantle of wearing white from Julia Gillard. Both are childless. Both wanted to project the impression of being clean and virtuous, with no symbolic dirt or blood on them. Both can ride horses along the beach, etc etc.

And speaking of horses and blood, I'm sure there was a reason I sweded Julie Bishop as Daenerys Targaryen, devouring a horse's heart, but I can't recall it now.

Ahahaha, one of my greatest achievements in Five-Minute Photoshop this year was to put Brodie into a pic with her BFFs Kanye and Harry Styles for her birthday. LOL, look at the sparkles I put on them.

I feel strongly that Canberra airport is a joke. How is this sad hangar the gateway to our nation's capital?

For Dion's birthday I put him on the cover of Céline Dion's 1993 album The Colour of My Love. (This album's most successful single was Dion's cover of 'The Power of Love' – not the Huey Lewis one, but the "'Cause I'm your layyyyydeee, and you are my maaaaaaan…" one.) Can I just say that I love how, being Canadian, she spells 'colour' with a U.

This was for Glen's birthday – I have no idea why I referred to him as 'sport' but he is a generally sporty guy, although having a kid this year has mellowed him somewhat from the kind of scarily intense quantitative approach he used to bring to his exercise program back in the day.

Love you, Fat Godzilla!

Oh no, I turned one of my Stupid Cat Songs into an image. Although he's actually lost a lot of weight in the last year. I weighed him today and he was 4.9kg, down from a high of 7kg at the start of the year, when the vet fat-shamed him by saying he was too fat to groom himself. He's still shit at grooming himself, which just goes to show that fat-shaming has nothing to do with actual behaviour.

I found this diagram on Wikipedia while researching an article about dinosaurs. I found it faintly hilarious that the human, included for scale, seems to be blithely oblivious to the Dilophosaurus about to snack on him.

I also created this gif for the article (I downloaded Tribeca, the Jurassic Park font, especially), but infuriatingly, it refused to animate when it was embedded. The attack raptors were the best bit of Jurassic World.

Hahaha, this was a birthday swede for Jason, who used to work as an ambo, and once treated himself intravenously for a hangover using saline he had obtained from work. If you look closely, the saline in this pic is actually 'champas', which is an IV line I could really get into.

Jenny's birthday happened to be right at the height of the fierce debate over The Dress.

HAHAHAHAHA, this was in an article I read about an ancient and cantankerous ginger tom who was accused of attacking dogs in Wells, Somerset.

SPOILER ALERT if you somehow don't know what happens at the end of Mad Men and care about my revealing it. I think I was trying to explain which of these characters were actually people you would want to emulate.

This is an artist's impression of me at my BA graduation. I actually did take a copy of Power Without Glory, which I read during the boring bits. But I was also in the grip of an epic malaise at the time. I was so depressed to see my classmates again and hear about their great new jobs, when I had failed to get a job in advertising and instead was working in market research and writing a terrible novel that was the most embarrassing rip-off of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Hilariously for such a pedantic diagram, I totally fucked it up. The cat's wrist is higher up; where I indicate is more like the knuckles. And the ankle is actually where I say the knee is; the real knee points forward and is approximately where that dark, shiny patch of fur is.

I had nearly three months of nightmarish flu in 2015 (June, July, a temporary reprieve in August – thank god, because I was dreading being ill during MIFF and my birthday – but then back with a vengeance in September). I simply could not believe how long it went on. Hold on, Melly, bend your knee, let yourself down slowly…

I had recently watched an episode of Vikings where a mysterious visitor (Kevin Durand), who is probably Odin in disguise, lays hands on Ivar the Boneless, and the poor disabled baby mysteriously stops crying and goes to sleep. I yearned for such a laying-on of hands for myself, because my sleep was totally shot. I downloaded an uncial font especially to swede this.

I also yearned for codeine, although when I did locate some prescription painkillers, I just felt woozy and vaguely nauseated, rather than enjoying the cough-suppressant properties codeine is alleged to have.

Come on, Graham Norton looks positively Papa-esque with that beard!

This was a commissioned swede: Clem wanted me to swede this after Leigh Sales did an especially confrontational interview with a hapless Tony Abbott. Let me tell you it was a nightmare to comb through all the Mortal Kombat screencaps online to jigsaw together all the letters I needed to create the text (on both green and red backgrounds). I also tried to pixelate Sales's head to match the low-res display.

Hahaha! This was a slide from my Game of Thrones presentation at ACMI, which just goes to show that I make these jokes for myself because nobody in the audience seemed to get it.

Another piece of pedantry from me, explaining why so many fashionable shoes look fucking appalling and also the heels look as if they are about to snap off. It's a question of maintaining the sinuous angles of the leg: the thigh angles in to the knee, curving out to the calf, in to the ankle, out to the heel and then in again to the ground. Euclid would be with me on this, even though I don't think they had high heels in ancient Greece.

This one was so dumb and politically incorrect that I didn't even post it… until now. The skywriter is spelling out "Shut down Manus" – a crowdfunded gesture to mark the anniversary of the bludgeoning to death of Reza Barati in the Australian government concentration camp on Manus Island. Personally I think it's a pretty toothless gesture but my swede wasn't even politically motivated – I really was just making a stupid joke.

In my exhaustive and ongoing Terminator research I discovered that the series' iconic phased plasma rifle (in or out of the forty-watt range) is apparently manufactured by Westinghouse. Yeah, yeah, I know that some of these brands we know for their domestic appliances also manufacture military equipment, but the juxtaposition of the cosiness of Westinghouse with the remorseless of Terminator was impossible to resist.

My tradition of sweding up a festive pic for our annual film critics' Christmas drinks continues with the somewhat overlooked action film Run All Night.

The Minions from Minions say "bello" rather than "hello".

I sweded this as a suggested illustration for a story I wrote about seven easy hacks for a healthier week (basically none of which I actually do myself), but in the end it was a really good thing that I decided not to file it along with my copy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A terrible realisation. It's the Golden Globes today, and my friend Jess expressed a yearning to go to the kind of event where you dress up and make speeches. I thought… oh no, I was with this idea until the bit about having to listen to people making speeches. This has led me to my terrible realisation…

I cannot abide speeches.

As soon as I allowed this thought to form in my head, I realised it was true. Every time I go to some event where there is mingling, chatting, eating and drinking – especially a book or an exhibition launch – I always feel so resentful at the prospect of having to stop enjoying myself to listen to someone making a speech. And while the speech is going on, I am listening but I am also resenting every moment it keeps going, and longing for it to be over so I can go back to socialising again. Even at my own friends' book launches, I endure the speeches rather than enjoy them.

It seems hypocritical for me to loathe listening to speeches as I don't mind making them myself. It is basically admitting that I like the sound of my own voice but am too narcissistic to listen to other people's. But I really think my beef is with the form and function of the speech, rather than its content or the skill of the speaker. I like storytelling, stand-up comedy, public readings and lectures. But I hate having to listen to a roll-call of acknowledgments, and ritualistic invocations of the nature of the event.

The launches of big exhibitions and festivals are the worst, because every honoured guest gets to make a damn speech, and they always seem to follow the same formula of acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, mentioning every honoured guest by name, saying how pleased they are to be here, and how their organisation or department is so thrilled to be involved with this event because it is so culturally important.

But I also dislike wedding speeches because of course everyone knows the bride and groom are into each other, and have heaps of people in their lives to thank for getting them to this point. We've already had a wedding ceremony where they acknowledged this; why must we endure an entire other ceremony of speech-making?

The only reason award ceremony speeches are charming is the surprise factor: what kind of speech will we hear? Will we hear a charming, unselfconscious speech that the speech-giver did not expect to have to make, and so is humbled to be making? Or will it be a vain, self-satisfied speech? Will we hear some political grandstanding? Will they crack jokes, especially inappropriate jokes? Will they whoop and scream and carry on? Will they mention their loved ones (awww!)? Will they go on too long and have to be played offstage?

Generally, I feel speeches are terrible and I am suddenly quite relieved that I have admitted this to myself, and to my tiny blog audience.


Andrew McDonald – makes perfectly adorkable speeches at his own book launches and at friends' launches
Barack Obama – has a mastery of oratorial tone and a finely tuned ear for code-switching

Monday, January 04, 2016

A shameful Star Wars fantasy. Today Elanor shared some Han Solo fan fiction on Facebook. I read some and it's quite well written; the author understands not just the texture of the Star Wars universe but can convey some of the personality the actors brought to their characters.

Anyway, so I was looking at Graham, sitting on the floor beside my desk, and a terrible, shameful Star Wars fantasy gripped me. I often call him my 'buddy'… what if Graham was roughly four to five times his actual size, and then he could be my Chewbacca and I would be Han Solo?

We'd go blasting our way through the galaxy, smuggling stuff and going on missions. "Ready to make the leap to hyperspace, Grahamy?" I'd say from the pilot's seat of the Mellium Mazda 626.

"Mew," Graham would say, only it would be ear-shatteringly loud because of his newly enlarged and powerful larynx and lungs.

His fearsome, five-inch fangs and his claws the size of switchblades would definitely come in handy during a fight, though.

Basically at this point the Star Wars fantasy peters out because of Graham's general hopelessness. I mean, he runs in terror at the sound of a plastic bag being shaken, and today was seriously freaked out by my hairdryer.

Can you imagine the monstrous turds that giant Graham would lay on the floor? How much cat food he would demand to eat? It would be like that scene in The BFG when the titular colossus arrives at Buckingham Palace and the staff are freaking out about how much food to feed him, and he eats with a garden fork and an heirloom sword.

I have to wonder whether having Graham around is only nice because he is physically small enough for me to pick up, hold on my lap and overpower when necessary.

Have you ever had that fantasy about being small like a child again, because there were giant people who could hug you like your parents used to, and carry you in from the car when you were sleepy? Maybe it would be lovely to have a giant friendly cat snuggle you. His fur would be so long, and he would be so warm in winter. Imagine his purr, like an outboard motor.

Oh boy, am I glad nobody reads blogs any more.

EDIT, 6 JANUARY: Just remembered that an Argentinean coffee ad brought my fantasy to life, although this cat is larger than my fantastical giant Graham.

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