31 December 2008

One last thing

I'm drowning in other people's "Best of 2008" lists, so I'm not going to add to the pile. Instead, just one lovely thing from 2008 that still makes me laugh every time I see it.

The shiny guy does always worry.

See you next year!

29 December 2008

If a tree falls in a forest and no Aussies are around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I woke up this morning, as I have so many, many mornings of my life, to news of conflict in the Middle East. Today it’s the second day of Israeli air attacks in the Gaza Strip, with a ground attack looking highly likely.

The prospect of yet another war there, even after almost 600 years of conflict, should be news in itself.

Why, then, does the story have to be run on our local news – Seven’s Sunrise, to be exact – like this: “Trouble in the Middle East has flared again and Aussies are caught up in it.”

It reminds me of the way disasters are always reported: 370 people died in the plane crash but no Aussies were on board.

If Aussies aren’t involved, can it still be considered legitimate news?

Update: the "Aussies caught up in it" turned out to be one Australian woman who works with a humanitarian organisation in the Gaza Strip. It's her job to get caught up in it.

28 December 2008

I know who should play Karen

I can't believe that Mamma Mia! was a hit musical and a hit movie-of-the-musical while the only decent thing anyone ever made about the Carpenters, Todd Haynes' all-Barbie Superstar, was banned.

A Carpenters' jukebox musical, which will artlessly be called Close To You (although Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft would be pretty good), can only be just around the corner.

Let me get a jump-start on the movie-of-the-musical casting for the role of Karen. Hollywood casting directors, I give you Feist.

25 December 2008

A special Christmas Day message for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Fuck you, asshole.

Another power-crazed German determined to wipe out an entire people. Terrific.

24 December 2008

Dreams of glitter and style

I really must try to use the word "silversational" more often.

Happy holidays, everyone!

23 December 2008

Please remember those less fortunate than yourself

At this special time of year, please take a moment to remember the people in our world who are suffering the most: the poor souls in the "before" section of infomercials.

Angry woman with hectic kitchen-tile pattern struggling with the washing-up. Her apron print, like the tiny broomsticks in Fantasia, suggests even more dishes to come.

Frustrated woman who saves time by not having to iron her pants and who can make and attend a manicure appointment but can't quite get it together to take a tray of hamburger patties out of the freezer.

Shorts-'n'-sneakers–wearing family forced to endure eternal wait for dinner in bored silence while sipping water from wine glasses at table set awkwardly for four.

Depressed, messy man who has to use eight saucepans and two ovens to produce dinner from a jar.

06 December 2008

Would you mind if I put you on hold?

43 minutes spent talking to my phone company’s “care” call-centre in India. It took nine people to answer my ostensibly simple question: What is the status of my order?

No record of the order. No match for the receipt number. “Would you mind if I put you on hold?” For five minutes.

Along the way, inumerable requests for my date of birth. I know for sure that I’ve never given it to them, and I said so. But still they ask because it's in the script. And then, “I’m sorry, sir, nothing is coming up on my computer. Would you mind holding just a moment?” A five-minute wait, then transferred to someone else, and the routine starts again. 

Nine times.

In the end, I was given an email address. I immediately wrote an email and had a response within 30 seconds.

30 November 2008

Revisiting 'Brideshead Revisited'

"We ate the strawberries and drank the wine. As Sebastian promised, they were delicious together. The fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a finger's breadth above the turf, and hold us suspended."
I'm having something of a Charles Ryder moment tonight: I can't quite believe it's been 26 years since I watched Brideshead Revisited when it was first broadcast. I was 17 years old, still living at home and in my final year at high school.

The following year I would turn 18, leave home, start at a grand old university, fall in love and be dazzled by new worlds outside the one I grew up in. I found my own Sebastian Flyte (or was I Sebastian and found my Charles?) and didn't have a clue what I was doing. I was immortal and reckless and life was magnificent and hectic and hopelessly romantic, just the way it should be.
"Here, at the age of 39, I began to be old."
Although I'm now even older than Charles Ryder was as he begins his "Sacred & Profane Memories", I don't feel like I'm beginning to be old at all. While my original infatuation with Waugh's novel was completely shattered by my subsequent literary "education" and the discovery that Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews were both 33, playing 18-year-olds, if I listen carefully I can still sense the echoes of that first, innocent thrill at my initial encounter with Brideshead.
"I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognised apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city."
The series is being rebroadcast on ABC2, all 660 minutes of it over the next 11 weeks, starting tonight. For my readers who had the temerity to be born in the 80s, it's just like Queer as Folk, but with much better accessories.

21 November 2008

The scariest sentence in the English language

"This is Entertainment Tonight in high definition and I'm Mary Hart."

19 November 2008

Really, Detective Senior Sergeant? Do ya think?

From today's paper:

Police are searching for two men who fled after dumping a body with a gunshot wound to the chest outside a Melbourne hospital's emergency department early this morning. 

"Certainly the fact that they didn't stick around leads us to believe that they have got information that can assist us," said Detective Senior Sergeant Stephen McIntyre, of the Victoria Police Crime Department.

18 November 2008

Well, hello, fellow Grits to Glitz listeners!

There's been a spike in my reader numbers lately and it's all Amy and Bay's fault. Hello, Amy! Hello, Bay! Thanks for the shout out!

To all my fellow G2Gers, welcome to my sandbox on the web. It's a pretty random affair, and I do encourage you to try out the Lucky Dip button to the left because the more randomly you are willing to face it, the better. Just like life.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about – and believe me, your number is legion, at least in my daily life – I'll back up and explain. There will be a test at the end, so please pay attention.

Way back in the heady days of winter 2006 (remember, I live in the upside-down hemisphere), I was in the grip of The Devil Wears Prada fever. I was scooching around the net and there was a reference to a review on a tiny, unpopulated site. Just a single entry: "Episode ONE: July 12, 2006".

Abandoning what little caution I possessed, I clicked a link. Something strange was happening with my iTunes. What? This is an audio file? (Yes, I confess was a total podcast newbie.) I hit play and within minutes, an international love affair began.

Amy and Bay are sisters. They both lived in East Tennessee until Amy moved to Las Vegas. Life in Las Vegas is not like life in East Tennessee, and the differences between the two places, an eternal compare-and-contrast conversation, was worth broadcasting.

Since then, they've covered a lot of ground in their weekly podcasts. There have been dogs and Disneyland, cocktails and Vegas shows, holidays and birds and recipes and grammar lessons and pigeon-squirting machines, three seasons of Project Runway and weeks of obsession with Tim Tams – a very funny international saga that culminated in this moment – and a big-ass Christmas wreath. Contests and scrapbooking and April Fools pranks and lots and lots of dish. And I now know what grits are and what the boonies are, too.

They might be on opposite sides of their country, and I'm so far away that it takes a whole day to fly here, but their podcast always makes me feel like the three of us are just sitting around the kitchen table, drinking coffee, having a chat. I don't get to say much, but I laugh the whole time.

It's hard to believe that a tiny bunch of pixels could lift my spirits, but when that little blue dot turns up in iTunes next to Grits to Glitz, that's exactly what happens. Like standing in front of a birthday cake, I know there's some fun to be had.

For the uninitiated, start your journey into Amy and Bay's world at the Grits to Glitz site, here. Have a look around. Download an episode or two. Subscribe in iTunes. You'll be a better person for it – trust me.

Grind up some greasy, greasy coffee beans . . .

11 November 2008

1,000,000 for setting yourself up for failure

You have a point. You believe in something. You think other people do, too. So you create a Facebook group to collect 1,000,000 people – or more! – to show that you're right. You fail. The numbers don't lie.

[You can click through, if you must.]

05 November 2008

Good morning, America

Two moments from an extraordinary day. If Bush got anything right in eight years, it was phoning Obama and saying it was "an awesome night". 

02 November 2008

Crazy for Mad Men

I'm only two episodes in and I've already fallen hard for Mad Men, the series about Madison Avenue advertising people set in 1960.

The visual style is exquisite, down to finest detail. The storytelling itself is brilliant because the range of values seems like it's from another planet, yet we recognise it as being modern.

The men are all jocular buddies, constantly drinking and smoking. The women are fascinating. Secretaries, wives, mistresses and call girls, chirpy on the surface and conflicted, libidinous and, well, real people underneath it.

In the first episode, the new secretary turns up and her supervisor, taking the cover off a huge IBM Selectric typewriter, says, "Try not to be overwhelmed by all this technology. It looks complicated but the men who designed it made it simple enough for a woman to use."

27 October 2008

Exterminate! Exterminate!

This is a Dalek.

This is someone's interpretation of a Dalek in cake.

And so, apparently, is this.

More horrible cakes at this wonderful site.

23 October 2008

18 October 2008

What exactly do you want to film me doing?

From a cocktail party I went to on Friday night at a model agency.

16 October 2008

Dismembered body parts – with lovely nails

The display in the window of a new nail salon in Kings Cross. I've never seen fake nails for toes before.

11 October 2008

Making a scene

Two people are having a fantastically heated argument right outside my house. When it started I thought I was going to have to call the police – it sounded like he was going to kill her. Then it stopped really suddenly.

It started again about five minutes later, but the strange thing was they were having exactly the same argument. I mean, it was exactly the same words, same intonation. It stopped again, then once again: exactly the same.

I just stuck my head out the window: they're not alone out there. There are about 50 other people in the street watching this argument over and over again because they're making a movie.

Searching for smears

Apologies to all my regular readers – hello east coast of India! hello person in Sweden! – for the lack of posts lately. I'm launching a new magazine and a new website on 16 October, so busy is an understatement.

Anyway, I was cruising around the Barack Obama campaign website and there's a page devoted to correcting false stories about the candidate, including this gorgeous search tool.

25 September 2008

A new do

Juanita Phillips' new hair on the news tonight.

I'm yet to be fully convinced.

23 September 2008

My contemporaries

Here's a list of people born in 1965, just like me. 

  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Shania Twain
  • Gong Li
  • Princess Stéphanie of Monaco
  • Sherilyn Fenn
  • Dr Dre
  • Chris Rock
  • Sophie, Countess of Wessex
  • Diane Lane
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff
  • Alan Cumming
  • Julia Ormond
  • Joely Richardson
  • Slash
  • Jeremy Piven
  • JK Rowling
  • Elizabeth Hurley
  • Manuel Uribe Garza
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Paul WS Anderson
  • John C Reilly
  • Brooke Shields
  • Björk
  • Ben Stiller
  • Moby
  • Charlie Sheen

Quite a group, isn't it?

21 September 2008

Cute friends

The winner of the All My Facebook Friends Are Gorgeous award is this guy. Even the thumbnails are stunning.

End time: it's all Elizabeth Taylor's fault

I’m intrigued and fascinated by the Rapture – the idea that Jesus is coming back, gathering up all the believers, including the dead ones, and taking them to heaven.

The people who believe in it are a fervent group, to say the least. They're close readers of the Bible, although I must say only when it suits their purposes. There’s a lot of speculation among them about timing and whether the rest of us will be abandoned or destroyed along with the entire planet.

Of course, they all believe it's going to happen very soon, something they have in common with every culture since the ancient Egyptians.

Two of these chirpy eschatologists, Todd Strandgberg and Terry James, have created a vast site dedicated to being “Rapture Ready”. There, they tackle every imaginable subject. Some of the FAQs are, uh, interesting. 
  • I am afraid of the end of the world. What should I do?
  • Why is God so confusing? 
  • I am unmarried and 30. What can I do?
  • Is it okay for a man to dress like a woman? 
In order to prove that the end times are upon us, they're documenting all the troubles in the world: abortion, drugs, global warming, homosexuality, terrorism, mass murders, rock ‘n’ roll – the usual hit-list of horror. 

One item on the list attracted my particular attention: “Marriage – Elizabeth Taylor”. Apparently Liz’s many husbands demonstrate the decline in the sanctity of the institution of marriage, proof enough that the time of the great tribulation is approaching.

19 September 2008

Let Wikipedia launch your music career

Got some time to waste? Go to Wikipedia and hit the Random article button on the left-hand side. That’s the name of your band. Hit it again to find the name of your hot new CD. A few more times and you’ve got the names of all your songs. Here’s mine:

BAND: Simtel

ALBUM: Guqin aesthetics


  1. Space pirate
  2. De Dannan
  3. Cineaste
  4. Nest Freemark
  5. Bondelum
  6. Medial intercondylar tubercle
  7. Spring Garden Tunnel
  8. William Langewiesche
  9. Blaise Gisbert
  10. Symphony No. 1 (Nielsen)

17 September 2008

It turns out all my dreams are cliches

Everyone dreams. At about two hours a night, the average person spends six years of their life dreaming.

We don't know how or why we dream, the thing between our ears still being one of the great scientific mysteries. We do, however, know what we dream about.

Since the 1950s, there have been several large-scale studies of the content of dreams.

The most common emotional state we experience in our dreams is anxiety. That can't be good.

Here are the most common themes:

  • situations relating to school
  • being chased
  • running slowly in place
  • sexual experiences
  • falling
  • arriving too late
  • a person now alive being dead
  • teeth falling out
  • flying
  • embarrassing moments
  • falling in love with random people
  • failing an examination
  • not being able to move
  • not being able to focus vision
  • car accidents

  • I know it's true, but am I alone in finding this list really disturbing?

    16 September 2008

    Oh, no – does this make me a geek?

    There's this guy called Jay Hinson. He's bright. Really bright. His PhD thesis was on the decay of the tau lepton into three charged pions and a tau neutrino. That's particle physics, people.

    So Jay lets his mind wander one day and starts to think about "technology which allows subspace fields to 'reduce' the mass of a ship while still allowing for energy and momentum conservation".

    Except when Jay says "ship", he means "space ship". And when he says "technology", he means "Star Trek".

    "This," Jau writes, "led me to consider various other energy and momentum related questions concerning subspace and warp fields in general."

    Like it does.

    To read Jay's musings on this subject, all 17,236 words of it, click here.

    Elsewhere – ie, back in the real world – you will find Jay's discussion of relativity and faster-than-light travel (it starts here).

    He calls it an FAQ and, while I would quibble about his use of the word "frequently", it's actually a highly readable piece of work that had me thinking "Shit – I understand relativity, special and general!" at one point. Seriously. He made it make perfect sense to me. And I don't know nuthin about nuthin.

    Someone needs to publish this guy. Just take out the Star Trek stuff first.

    10 September 2008

    I, Tallulah

    I'm reading Tallulah Bankhead's autobiography, Tallulah. It's one of the most eloquent, entertaining books I've ever read.

    In the chapter called "Affidavit of the Accused", she writes:

    I've had many momentary love affairs. A lot of these impromptu romances have been climaxed in a fashion not generally condoned. I go into them impulsively. I scorn any notion of their permanence. I forget the fever associated with them when a new interest presents itself.
    I'm so on her side.

    09 September 2008

    Coming soon

    Peter Kay has a new sitcom in production called Britain's Got The Pop Factor ... And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice.

    07 September 2008

    Design by committee

    My friend David was working on a logo for a mining company that started out with this completely on-brief sketch:

    and, thanks to everyone at the client end weighing in with their fascinating opinions, somehow ended up, at one point, with this horror:

    His entire sordid history of what happens when you let clients keep making changes is here.

    04 September 2008

    You guys are no fun

    Some random Taliban prohibitions:

    • anything made from human hair
    • equipment that produces the joy of music
    • pool tables
    • lobster
    • nail polish
    • sewing catalogues
    • pictures
    • chess
    • masks

    02 September 2008

    Just Druitt

    When news happens in the outer Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt, it’s never going to be a good thing. Here are the recent headlines from ABC News tagged “Mount Druitt”.

    Man flips car during high-speed chase

    Man charged over Sydney rape spree

    Young crims face curfews in Australian first

    Sydney serial sex attacker 'will strike again'

    Sydney sex attacks feared linked

    P-plater 'doing 110 in a 60km zone'

    Teens charged over bus assault

    26yo charged over weapons, cash haul

    Teen 'holds up store with cleaver'

    Police chase ends in front yard

    NSW men arrested over boarding house murder

    Security 'exceeded authority' in schizophrenic's death

    Man jailed over teen boy's rape

    Police seek help in finding missing teen, baby

    Man targets phone towers during tank rampage

    Driver impaled in car crash

    Police probe school leavers' fatal crash

    Teenage girl bailed on sexual assault charges

    01 September 2008

    Kaiser Karl is a bear

    Not that kind of bear. After all, it is hard to imagine the creative head of the house of Chanel submitting to the "No Artificial Scents" rule at the door of his local bear bar.

    The inventors of the teddy bear, Steiff, have created a Karl Lagerfeld bear, designed by the man himself.

    Speaking of KL, was he really ever fat? Go ahead – do a Google image search. Not a one. Has he had all evidence of those days purged from the internet?

    26 August 2008

    Screaming, falling down, cross-dressing, vomiting

    Konstantinos Lagoudakis, the mayor of Malai, Crete, interviewed in today’s New York Times: “They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit.”

    He's talking about British tourists.

    “It is only the British people,” he said, “not the Germans or the French.”

    The Times spoke to 21-year-old man from Essex who said that the night before he had drunk had five beers, six cocktails made with Baileys, tequila, absinthe, ouzo, vodka, gin and orange juice (mmm!), five vodka-and-limes and another five beers – all of which, he said, emboldened him to pick up a woman to spend the night with.

    In July, a 20-year-old British tourist partied with her sister and a friend into the early hours, then returned to her hotel room and — although she had denied being pregnant — gave birth. Her friends say they returned later to find the baby dead; she has been charged with infanticide.

    Of course, the badly behaved Brits abroad aren’t been confined to Malia.

    Earlier this summer, flying home to Manchester from the Greek island of Kos, a pair of drunken women yelling “I need some fresh air” attacked the flight attendants with a vodka bottle and tried to wrestle the airplane’s emergency door open at 30,000 feet. The plane diverted hastily to Frankfurt, and the women were arrested.

    In Laganas, on the Greek island of Zakinthos, where a teenager from Sheffield died after a drinking binge this summer, more than a dozen British women were charged in July with prostitution after taking part in what the police called “an alfresco oral sex contest.”

    In Dubai this summer, a British man and woman who met during a drinking bout were arrested and charged with having sex on a beach, after repeatedly shouting abuse at a police officer who ordered them to stop.

    A recent report published by the British Foreign Office, “British Behavior Abroad,” noted that in a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007, 602 Britons were hospitalized and 28 raped in Greece, and that 1,591 died in Spain and 2,032 were arrested there.

    London 2012 is gonna rock.

    Not no more, you don't

    As recently as yesterday, Dairy Farmers was running a TV ad in high rotation featuring actual dairy farmers – and lots of photogenic kids – saying "I own a company".

    Today, Dairy Farmers was swallowed whole by National Foods of Japan for $910 million.

    25 August 2008

    23 August 2008

    Morons R Us

    The Official Moron Registry allows you to let the world know about the moron in your life. Here, some morons of note.

    Bodes, Patricia - She doesn't know how to be a real parent. She is not the brightest color in the box of crayons. She is as dumb as a box of rocks.
    Cairo, Kelly - Chooses to play billiards instead of spending time with his girlfriend who had slaved over the stove cooking dinner for hours.
    Davis, Missy - She goes around singing Jojo and Wiggles and she doesn’t even have any children.
    Goff, Dwight - This guy has about 10 kids (several different moms), he doesn't take responsibility for any of them, he is too self involved with his drugs & cigarettes to care about anyone including his own mother.
    Greaux, Phillip - Phillip, for the love of god, dump that worthless chick, then we'll take you off of this list.
    Lippy, Sarah - Sarah has a hilarious habit of pissing her pants when she drinks. Plastic sheets please.
    Nickisher, Chris - Everything he touches turns to shit. He's hot, gay and lives at home with his mommy. He's 28.
    Parshall, Scott - A moron for viewing women in swim suits when we work at a Catholic organization.
    Tefney, Howard - Howard is the guy who sits near me at work. What a frickin moron loser.
    Xiong, Zing - Yes, his name is really pronounced Zing Zong. Zing this, you stupid bastard.
    Yamamoto, Karen - Stop trying to sound smart all the time. We're all sick of it – the whole school. You bitch.