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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Australia's Next Top Westie Scrag Series Three #10

Oh, Steph. You're the illiterate xenophobe of my dreams.
Normally near the end of a series, when all the committable psychopaths have been eliminated and only the bland and inoffensive are left, I struggle to find anything comment-worthy during the slide down the mild, buttery slope towards the final. With only three girls left, an hour is a big space to fill, and it's sometimes hard for the producers to find anything worth screening.

And then there's Steph. I won't go so far as to call her stupid. But goddamn, she's stupid.

Set your lasers to stunned mullet. It's the Three Is The Magic Dumber episode of Australia's Next Top Model.

· Despite the fact that a sneezing dust-mite could snap her in half, Alice appears to have become Public Enemy Number One this week as she's ostracised for her constant whining and her obvious cheating, what with being all tall and pretty and stuff. Steph claims that she "won't let Alice's whining spoil my issperience", and Jordan spits that "no matter how fucking hard Alice doesn't fucking try, she always fucking stays". She thinks Alice doesn't deserve to win, because after the competition she plans on attending university. The cad! Everyone knows that university to a model is like holy water to Linda Blair. Even Jordan says "Pffft! Who wants to go to uni? Only smart people do that".

· Joydhi visits Scrag Central, and after a lot of fluff, bluster and vowels, announces that the modules will soon be jetting off to Los Angeles. Jordan is beside herself with excitement, considering herself more Hollywood than Paris Hilton's bare hoo-hoo on a limo seat. Steph, looking up briefly from her Children's Illustrated Atlas, squeals "I had no idea Hollywood was in LA! It's gonna be like Pretty Woman, but without the hookers!" Alice, again able to find the sad side, mentions that she's "petrifahd". I get a bit confused at this point, trying to decide who to bitch-slap first.

· JP turns up briefly to cram as many obvious product plugs into five minutes as possible, and to see the girls off to the airport in their Ford Fiesta, reeking of Impulse, wearing Fashion Assassin. He also does his best to transport my dinner rapidly into a bucket as he mimes "I heart youse" to the departing car. Whilst watching a man fulfil sponsorship obligations on the footpath should be riveting, I'm momentarily distracted by a stack of white crockery.

· Suddenly we're in LA, and the girls are in the back of a car, being driven through a montage of Hollywood clichés like palm trees, buildings, cinemas, and illegal immigrants. Our modules seem unimpressed until they see a sign advertising a 99c junior cheeseburger, at which point they wind down the car window to point and hoot. Bless you, processed protein and carbohydrate consumer product, you symbol of the free West, you. The girls are given a random address to arrive at via the Hollywood Boulevard pavement stars, which leave Steph a bit perplexed. "I don't recognise any of these stars," she says. "Where's Mary-Kate and Ashley?" I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or throw a tennis ball at her face.

· The modules turn up at what turns out to be the Napoleon Perdis Hollywood retail outlet, where they're met by the chubby, waxed man himself and pink-haired stylist Mandy Line. I'm going to have to mention this again – Napoleon Perdis is married. To, like, a girl. I guess if he has two chins, he's entitled to two beards as well. Mandy dresses the girls and Napoleon bedaubs make-up on them, readying them for an hour of posing in the shop window like a Dutch coven. Napoleon shows himself to be intensely talented in the arts of bitchy-comment extrusion, asking probing questions of the girls in the make-up chair about who they hate, just like a straight man wouldn't. His evil stirring is so successful it's stroking-white-cat-worthy (I'd throw in a pussy joke here, but I'm all class, like), and soon Alice and Jordan are throwing insults. I'll try and capture the Shakespearean flavour of it all:
"You whinge a lot."
"So do you."
"You whinge about getting sunburnt"
"I was sunburnt"
Sorry – sometimes it's really, really difficult to accurately capture the on-screen drama, but I've done what I can. If you'd like to know more, perhaps rent The Making of Alice & Jordan's Make-Up Room Hissy: Hot Clashes in Pink Lashes from your local video outlet. Or, alternatively, don't.

· All three girls look, admittedly, white hot, although if you put anyone in false lashes and a choker in a store window, you're basically buying them a ticket on the bus to Prostitute Junction. After giving them a few tips, Napoleon is thrilled with the girls' performance, gleefully shouting "Look! They're stopping traffic!" as cars whizz past him at speed on the street.

· Finally our modules get a rest, and are shown to their room at the Grafton Hotel, a sophisticated, plush pleasure-dome filled with bubbles, diamonds, and the laughter of children. And by that, I obviously mean a cut-price freeway motel room with an animal-print bedspread and the faint odour of death and unprotected sex. Jordan gushes about how gorgeous it is, which is a bit like calling Bruegel the Elder a minimalist or, for the lowbrow amongst you, telling Bindi Irwin to pep it up a notch. What a freakin' dive.

· Joydhi sends the modules off to two pretend go-sees at different agencies, one presided over by the endearing, generously-proportioned Kenya, and the other by the polyurethane-veneered, helium-affected Crista. They're measured, photographed, and scrutinised, and the general consensus is that Jordan is very LA, Steph has the face of an angel, and Alice is the quintessential supermodel, but not very "Hollywood", which I assume means that they think she might be a virgin. Crista notes that Alice's insecurities might be a professional problem, claiming that "If she doesn't suck it up, she's never gonna make it". I'm concerned that if Alice sucks anything, the resulting vacuum could cause her kidneys to explode.

· Another Joydhi-Mail sees the girls visiting various LA "fashion hotspots", meaning a quick chance to plug some more rags. In order:
o Ashley Paige, a shop that claims to sell "high-end bikinis", which are like normal bikinis except sparkly and fifteen times more expensive. Ashley as much as offers Jordan a modelling job, primarily on the basis that she has the only convex breasts in the room.
o Leona Edmiston, a shop personed by Kym Wilson of 80s Australian soap opera origins, expanding the number of people in this series of the show who have kissed members of my family to two.
o Wesc, a shop that seems to mostly sell satin shorts, headed by Dom, who endears himself instantly to me by claiming that the Australian modules are much better than the "mallrats" of the US series.

· Joydhi, ever the bra-less task-master, shoos our scrags off to their first international phoytoy shoot, which turns out to be at Napoleon Perdis' house. No sign of Mrs Perdis, but there is a gold palm tree in the entry hall and a big picture of Marilyn Monroe in the loungeroom – the fourth and fifth most potent symbols of heterosexuality after beer-drinking, scrotum-scratching, and having sex with ladies. Photographer Darren and Stylist Charlie are introduced, and set about preparing the girls for their 'modern Hollywood glamour' shoot in top-notch frocks.

· Napoleon, summoning the Primary-School Girl within, is up to his old make-up chair tricks again, coaxing venomous, bitchy bile from each module in turn. The temperature in the room drops a few degrees as Jordan and Steph accuse Alice of being tall and beautiful, and blaming her success on these two factors alone. God knows how her height and her looks got her so far in a MODELLING COMPETITION. Next thing you know, people will be running as fast as they can at the Olympics. Mental. Alice, having stored up all her anger in her modest spleen for the last ten weeks, finally lets fly, calling Jordan no competition, and implying that Steph might spend too long skipping through Fields of Stupid. Then Alice says "fuck you, too", and I get a bit misty 'round the corners. Our little stick-insect is growing up – it's kind of beautiful.

· Jordan and Steph both take offence at Alice's attacks, and Jordan gets a decent quote in, saying "Everyone sees me as just this chick that's here". Steph, not to be outdone, takes a couple of huge slices from the Quote Cake, and makes my year. After Alice gives her some schtick about not knowing that Chile was a country as well as an ingredient, Steph defends both herself and perhaps the Cronulla riots by claiming that she's a sixteen-year-old Aussie, so she doesn't know or care about other cultures. To illustrate, she brings forth the chestnut: "Like, I knew there was Moroccan food, but I thought it was from a country, not a place called Morocca. We don't have Moroccan food on the Central Coast, anyway". I'm wiping tears from my eyes, and only one or two of them are tears of despair.

· The shoot commences, and Jordan emerges in a gold dress and tall hair. Darren and Charlie warn her that her "coochie" is in danger of showing, proving that Jordan has trouble turning the "close those legs, girlfriend" mirror upon herself. Alice, dressed in black, looks like Veronica Lake and Jerry Hall's lesbian love-child, and everyone in the room is floored as her recent use of the F-word has obviously ignited a fire in her belly and she turns on the rowr. Unfortunately Steph, in draped white jersey and a bouffant 'do, comes across as more of an Alexis Carrington/Tammy-Faye hybrid, and an underwhelming one at that. She's accused of looking too much like a sex-kitten – quite a feat when dressed as Joan Collins sans breasts.

· I blink, and suddenly we're back in Sydney, tromping into the Elimination Bunker to face judgement. Alice is worried that she'll be eliminated because of her lack of confidence. That would be irony, people. The judges are introduced, and even though the trip to the US was fleeting at best, I feel like I've really missed these magnificent bastards. Joydhi blahs through the prizes, which I think include a McDonalds Gold Card and some feminine hygiene spray, and the photos are flicked through. Jordan looks reasonably good, causing Shiny Alex to finally jump on the Jordan bandwagon, and Alice looks absolutely, finger-down-the-throat gorgeous, and almost manages an arse. The judges are beside themselves. Steph's 80s frump doesn't go down as well with the panel, and Charlotte accuses her of raiding Mummy's dress-up box. All the girls have to answer inane questions about why they think they should be Australia's Next Top Module, causing Steph to babble like... well, a vacuous sixteen-year-old, and Alice to prove how far she's come by admitting that "I don't walk into things as often".

· The judges deliberate, and then it's down to business. The business of lurching two girls closer to their dreams, and of crushing one girl's reason for existing in the cold, steel vice of disappointment. Or like, giving her the arse n' that. Joydhi announces that Alice is safe, so it's down to Powerpoint Jordan and Intellectual Steph, who is already crying. No time or platitudes are wasted, and Jordan is shunted. Bye, Jordan! Don't fucking swear on your fucking way out! Game off, mole. Everyone in the room sheds buckets, and even Shiny Alex looks like he might be crying, although it may just be a weeping scab from his last Bo session. Jordan, though, captures the emotional essence of the moment and summarises her personality in one fell swoop when, through glittering tears and tremulous tones, she turns to Alice and Jordan and says "I love you so much…. even though you both gave me the shits".

Okay – apparently this year, the public gets to 'help' choose the winner by voting for their favourite scrag – votes will be tallied in conjunction with the judges' decision. Is it just me, or is this Rorty McScam from Rip-Off-Town? Teenage girls and gay men all over the country will be spending their life savings on telephone and online votes, and then the judges will just pick a winner. I don't trust the public to pick a winner anyway. Casey Donovan. That's all I'm sayin'.

Next week, there's probably a ritzy place to stay, a couple of bitchy words, and then the winner is chosen. Palace. Malice. It's probably Alice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Emails I May Never Send #15

Dear Lindsay Lohan,

Herbie's the one who should be fully loaded, sweetheart – not you.
For goodness' sake, have a cup of tea and put a bra on.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Australia's Next Top Westie Scrag Series Three #9

Questionable acting skills.
Snide remarks.
Scantily-clad, starving women.

Is it the Academy Awards? Or is it just the There's No Business Like Ho Business episode of Australia's Next Top Model?

· I thought I might miss Paloma. So I got the sights on my rifle re-aligned. Boom-TISH!

· Joydhi meets our modules at the Actors Centre in Surry Hills to outline this week's theme – Acting And Emoytions. She introduces acting coach Paul Goddard, who is quite obviously a master of the thespian arts, evinced by the fact that he has ironic spectacles, expressive hands and a thoughtful diagonal nod. Paul leads the girls through a number of acting exercises, detailed below:

Exercise One: Angry
Punch one of your hands with the other, frown and stamp your foot.
Will teach you: How to become angry by exhibiting the behaviour of an angry person.
Useful for: Acting in movies about social injustice or one-man bands.
Results: Alice feels herself getting angry.

Exercise Two: Imagining Stuff
Instructions: Imagine some stuff
Will teach you: How to imagine stuff
Useful for: Times you need to imagine stuff
Results: Alice, with all her powers of creative fancy, imagines herself sitting on a couch with a dog, a biscuit and a cup of tea. Nuts.

Exercise Three: Chronological Regression
: Pretend you're six years old, then pretend you're a teenager
Will teach you: Why baby-voices are annoying, and why paedophiles are sick bastards
Useful for: Hosting Playschool or Quizmania
Results: A brisk game of ring-a-ring-a-rosy and some exaggerated vowels.

Exercise Four: Emotional Statues
Instructions: Run around the room until an emotion is called out, then 'freeze' in a pose epitomising that emotion.
Will teach you: How to be emotional and motionless at the same time, like people in The Young And The Restless just before an ad break.
Useful for: Not being found during a game of Hide And Seek
Results: All modules interpret "terror" as "constipated", and Steph interprets "embarrassed" as "being dakked in front of the entire school".

· Back at Scrag Central, JP is waiting with another acting challenge. Each girl takes it in turn to say, with as much conviction as they can muster, "I am Australia's Next Top Model", and be as believable as possible. If the other girls don't think the performance is convincing, they're to say "No, you're not". If this rubbish made it to screen, imagine the intestinally-challenging bumf left on the cutting-room floor. JP then pretends to be Marc Jacobs at a fashionable social function, which is a bit like pretending to be a haemorrhoid at an arsehole convention, and the modules have to try to make an impressive impression. Whilst watching the interactions of a group of people with the collective IQ of sandstone should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by a comparative analysis of two different kinds of envelope adhesive.

· Our modules try to act surprised when another Joydhi-Mail appears, and they're soon off to CherriJam for a challenge in which each girl has to speak to four "leading Australian fashion experts" for sixty seconds each, and again leave an impressive impression. The experts are two chicks from the Telegraph's Sunday magazine, a guy from Vogue, and a fashion designer, and they settle into their swanky chairs for some one-on-one speed-intimidating. Alice tells the Sunday Life people how much she enjoys their magazine, before realising that she's actually referring to their competitor's Sunday rag, and then dispenses with the traditional interview format and decides to ask all the questions herself. Steph, using classic Australian rising intonation, makes all her statements sound as if they're questions? And says that like, um, modelling, like, um, is really really so much fun? Anika, too, comes across all ummy, and when asked to describe her personal style uses words like "professional", "classy" and "neat", instead of the more obvious "frumpy", "discount", and "roomy in the front". Jordan, afraid that all she has to offer is "piss and dribble", decides that her safest option is to tell the interviewers that she's a "ghetto chick" and then just be quiet for the remaining fifty-two seconds.

· Anika and Steph win the challenge, and share the prize of a photo-shoot for Sunday Magazine. Amazing once again how, in the context of a competition, you don't have to pay people to work for you as long as you use the word "prize" instead of "volunteer".

· Now that Paloma's gone, there is a desperate dearth of bitchiness in the air, so the producers are trying to wring droplets of drama from even the most benign situations. Anika says to camera, within accidental earshot of Jordan, that she thinks she works harder than Jordan and has better photos. Jordan confronts Anika about this unspeakable travesty. Anika stammers and apologises. They hug. I slap my hand to my forehead and look for some gin. If this had happened pre-Paloma-arsing, someone would've stormed out of a room, moved some furniture, and used a split infinitive. As it is, we're given the dramatic equivalent of flour.

· With only four scrags left, the editors are at a bit of a loose end, so they string out the next two scenes in a Tarantino-esque, choppy montage. Scenes from Anika and Steph's Sunday mag photo-shoot are cut between scenes from Alice and Jordan's visit to the pool with Andreas. Hi, Andreas. You left your toothbrush at my place.

· Sunday mag photo shoot: Sixties-style long fringed wigs, smocks, smoky eyes and hats at jaunty angles. Both Anika and Steph look stunning, and they're photographed by Simon Upton, who I kissed once when I was eighteen, at FJ's in Narabeen. I'm experiencing an odd mixture of pride and shame right now, that anyone who ever went to FJ's would completely understand. Simon keeps telling Steph to suck her tummy in, which is a bit like asking Rachmaninoff to use more notes, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like asking a sales assistant at Target to slow down.

· Obviously as a response to my disappointment at the distinct lack of Andreas-nudity last week, the personal trainer of questionable nationality wakes the losers, Alice and Jordan, early for a workout down the pool. For some reason this week, Andreas sounds Austrian, particularly when he says "We're on owah way to tha pool. It's nod a toomah". Alice moans that her swimming costume is mouldy and that she doesn't want ringworm, prompting a bout of eye-rolling from both Jordan and myself. Down at the pool, the girls are forced to do laps (read: "lap"), followed by push-ups (read: "lying face-down on the pebble-crete"). "This is really hard for me", says Jordan. "People should honestly feel sorry for me – it's not easy to swim after a tub of gelato". It strikes me that, for the entire series, more than half the scenes involving Jordan depict her spooning something into her gob. She's like a garbage disposal unit and the powerpoint it's plugged into.

· Andreas makes Jordan and Alice tread water whilst holding ping-pong balls above the surface of the water. Jordan says "When I'm holding balls, I sink". I can't improve on that.

· A Joydhi-Mail arrives announcing the imminent phoy-toy-shoot, which, in a surprise comparable to finding a curved banana, will be all about acting and emoytions. Joydhi, JP and the omnipresent Ian Thorpe meet the modules at The Dome, where, as Thorpey announces, they'll be modelling in his underwear. It seems that, along with his other innumerable macho pursuits, Thorpey also designs men's smalls. The girls are to lounge on a bed with a male module, expressing a particular emotion as dictated by JP. Because modelling's hard.

· Anika is asked to summon 'contentment' in a pair of daks and a barely-nork-containing black singlet. She's absolutely rubbish at looking content, but if she doesn't look like the living epitome of Sex On Toast, I'll eat my hat. And I'm straight. I can only imagine the level of tissue consumption going on in a male household. Y'know – because all the blokes I know rush home on a Tuesday night to watch this shit. Steph is asked to look upset, as if she's just been abandoned by her boyfriend. She manages quite well, despite admitting that she's never been broken up with before. This would explain her choice during the shoot of a vague look of disappointment, rather than the reality – sitting on the couch tears, chocolate, and vodka. Jordan, impressing the photographer and JP no end, manages 'suspicion' extremely well. I'm less impressed – after all, what do you do when you're suspicious? You squint. She was born for the role. She knows it, too, saying cockily yet endearingly "If they eliminate me, they've gotta be fucking kidding". Alice is not built to be photographed in her underwear, and looks like someone draped a camisole over a drawer full of forks. Her job is to be 'angry', and she hesitates before biffing the male module with a pillow, admitting that she's afraid of hurting him. You should be fine, sweetie – just keep him away from those hipbones.

· My favourite part of this week's episode is the hardest to describe in print – both Jordan and Steph are sick to the back teeth with Alice's constant complaining, and Jordan pulls out a brilliant Alice-impersonation. She makes her voice go all high-pitched, whiny and croaky, like an upset, hoarse mouse, or Paris Hilton first thing in the morning, and whines "Oh my Gooood. I'm getting sunbuuuurnt. Turn the radio dooooown. It's hurting my eeeeaaars". I know. Shut up. You had to be there.

· After the inevitable Joydhi-Mail, our final four scrags stomp into the Elimination Factory to face the judges, who are all dressed in black except for guest judge Grant from Voygue. Jez and Joydhi battle it out to show the largest expanse of chest, and Shiny Alex Perry looks like he's been written down in shorthand. Joydhi lists the prizes, which I think include a subscription to That's Life! and a Butter Menthol, and then tells the girls about today's elimination challenge. Surprise! They have to act out a scenario, displaying a range of emotions! A couple of emotions surge suddenly in my own throat - most notably bile and carrot. This is a farce and a waste of everybody's time, even though Alice keeps mentioning her dog, James the supporting actor is reasonably easy on the eye, and Jordan thinks that "bashful" means "like, up myself?" Anika, despite being dressed as one, will not be winning a Gold Logie any time soon.

· The admittedly stunning photos are looked through, and Charlotte re-emerges as my favourite quote-monkey of the series. She remarks that Alice might be angry in her photo because "that guy was such a dud bash", and that Jordan may look suspicious because "the bloke looks a bit gay". The judges deliberate, and Shiny Alex Perry, obviously upset about his face, launches in about Jordan's lack of height. Jez and Charlotte gang up against him, and we're witness to a brief but glorious spat worthy of parliament or third grade.

· Joydhi starts handing out photos, until only Powerpoint Jordan and Norky Anika are left. Jordan is told that she's a great performer, but lacks technique, and Anika is told she's beautiful, but that beauty may not be enough. By now everyone's crying, and with some pregnant, dramatic pauses, Joydhi gives Anika the elbow. Bye, Anika! Don't knock any ornaments off the mantelpiece on your way out! Anika remarks that "I feel like I've been wearing a corset for nine weeks, and I've just been released". No, honey. That was episode six.

Next week, the scrags pretend to be store mannequins, Alice waxes lyrical with the phrase "fuck you too", and everyone goes to LA! Pose. Prose. Melrose.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Australia's Next Top Westie Scrag Series Three #8

I had my wisdom teeth taken out recently. Before they were removed, they were the painful bane of my mouth, constantly making their presence felt by stamping their feet and pushing impatiently against all the other teeth. They thought they were so much more important than the other molars, and the canines, and the incisors. Because of their constant demands, they were all I ever talked about.

Now they're gone. I don't miss them, but they've left a hole. Mind you, I'm sure my wisdom teeth aren't under any illusions that they were removed because they were too good for my mouth. Very few things are.

Enough with the dental metaphor, though, and onto business. In several lessons on how to make oneself the centre of every imaginable universe, I give you the Ego Is Not A Dirty Scrag episode of Australia's Next Top Model.

· Let's not pretend that this show isn't all about Paloma. She's middlingly pretty, she only has one 'modelling face', she has mild depression and anxiety issues, questionable taste in clothes, and a hilariously inept take on the English language. But boy, can that girl turn anything around to point at herself. Except criticism, perhaps. Like how Paloma being in the bottom two last week is all Steph's fault. With a resigned sigh and an exasperated eye-roll, please adjust your floaties and swim to the shallow end of the pool. We're going back to pre-school again.

· This morning's Palomalesson: How To Make Someone Else Apologise For Your Own Failure.
Step One: If you find yourself in the bottom two at Elimination, assume it is the fault of the module who has never been in the bottom two. Failing that, any other conspiracy theory will do. Except the one about Marilyn Manson being the geeky kid from the Wonder Years. That's bullshit.
Step Two: Let people know, preferably whilst sobbing, that your logic in coming to the above conclusion is beyond reproach. Phrases such as "They don't know what my strong point is because I'm good at everything, but they tell me that's a good thing, so they're contradicting theirselves" should do nicely.
Step Three: Tell Steph, who has never been in the bottom two, that this is completely unfair because she's obviously shit. If Steph (for some unfathomable, conspirational reason) takes offence and, say, ends the friendship, demand an apology from her. I mean, come on – bitch.
Step Four: As a kind of desperately adult exclamation mark, use your brute psychotic strength to move your bunk bed away from Steph's. Sure, she might throw your birthday card in the bin, but it's worth it.
Step Five: Grow. The. Fuck. Up. Mole.

· Joydhi meets the modules at the Sydney Dance Café for a cup of warm water, a slice of air and a quick rundown on this week's theme: Communicating With Your Body. I communicate with my body all the time, but mostly about half an hour after eating chick-peas. About to send the scrags to Studio One for a quick dance lesson, Joydhi tells Paloma she thinks she'll do well with the theme. "I think it'll be easy", says Paloma, and I suddenly want some hydrochloric acid and a hot fork.

· Ramon Doringo, or as I'm calling him, Endearing Boogie Chipmunk, takes the girls for a dance lesson in matching leotards, and something becomes apparent. I imagine taking a recently-landed extra-terrestrial by the hand, leading him to the Sydney Dance Company, pointing to Norky Anika and See-Through Alice standing together and saying "Same species, man. I'm not kidding", no doubt to other-worldly guffaws and disbelief. It's like the before and after photographs in a brochure about the removal of polyps from a drinking straw. Alice isn't the most co-ordinated dancer in the room, a fact which doesn't escape Paloma, who says "She seemed retarded to me", and then claps her hands the way she imagines retarded people do. The rest of the class, filled as it is with dance moves, music, and retarded clapping, should be interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by the number of layers in a 3-ply paper towel.

· JP turns up with a Joydhi-Mail, which says something cryptic about how after a chess game is finished, the pieces all end up back in the same box. This would be tedious if it had been given to anyone but Paloma to read:
Paloma: "…. the king and the prawn go back in the box…"
JP: "The king and the prawn? What?"
Paloma: "Well, I don't play chess, do I?"
No, my darling moron. No, you do not.

· Alice, dressed today as a lumberjack, joins the other modules in the scrag-mobile for a trip to a studio for the first of two photo-shoots this week. The girls will be squeezed into hooded catsuits, plastered with false eyelashes and crammed into a box, where they're to make all kinds of interesting contorted angles whilst Fabrizio Lipari snaps them (although Alice looks like she may snap herself). I can see the production meeting for this one:
"Brian, what's all this? I didn't sign off on this, did I?"
"Er…y-yes. I'm sure you did. I distinctly remember you saying we should scrunch them in a ball, put them in a box and shoot them".
"Aaaah, yes. Carry on".
Andreas the Hot Personal Trainer appears to help the girls warm up their muscles (too… many… obscene… jokes… rushing… rushing… all at once…), but he needs a haircut and doesn't take his shirt off even once, so I've changed my plans to lick his neck, and may just send him a dirty text message instead.

· To be honest, the catsuits look brilliant, helped more than a little by the Best Shiny Black Boots In The World. Jordan, who's really lifted her game lately, kicks arse with a bunch of very bendy poses indeed, and Steph eventually finds her inner pretzel after a bit of coaxing. Anika, undeterred by her cumbersome hooters, does an incredible back-bend and balances on the top of her head, giving backyard porn producers ideas for their next fifteen videos. Alice has trouble expressing emotion, so Joydhi asks her to scream, which is a bit like asking Modigliani to maybe try painting a happy portrait or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like telling Beyonce to put her tits away. JP tells Paloma that she often photographs "a bit too FHM", and to try to be more "fashion", but she ends up being a bit "shit". And can you guess which of the following statements she makes about her underwhelming photo shoot (and which chapter of the Paloma Manual For Life, Ego, and Being An Illiterate Arsehole she's reading from)?:
a) "I'll try not to be too strong, 'cause I get in trouble for that" (from See? See How I Made It Look Like Something I'm Good At Might Be Perceived As A Flaw?);
b) "I get told so many different things, I don't know what to do!" (from Praise = Me Do Good. Criticism = Your Fucking Fault);
c) "They don't think I'm good enough any more, so why bother?" (from I Suck, So I'll Pretend I Don't Care); or
d) All of the above (from Textbook Depression and Its Manifestation in the Spoiled Brat).
Jordan wins the challenge, because she's the only one in this part of the show who isn't a freak.

· Blah-di-blah-di-blah – Paloma and Steph have a lip-flap about she-said-and-then-I-said, and I want to stick a knitting needle in my eye. Paloma pulls out the old "when I'm angry, my depression makes me say things I don't mean" chestnut, which, quite frankly, pisses me off. I've known a lot of people who suffer from depression, and only about one in ten of them are twats. If I can't blame an errant haemorrhoid for the occasional snap at the coffee lady, I don't see why Paloma gets to blame her depression for constantly dipping her ladle into the bitch bucket. Through tears, she says "the modelling side is so easy, but everything else is soy hard. I'm trying not to lose my mind". I suppose I can't say anything mean here, for risk of censure. Poop.

· Challenge winner Jordan picks Steph to share her prize – the girls get to appear in a Bonds fashion parade at Fringe Bar. It's a prize, see. Everyone else in the show gets paid, but the lucky prize-winners get to do it for free. The other modules get to help out behind the scenes, and Anika is green with excited jealousy, seething "They're on the catwalk! In their underwear! In a pub! What's better than that?". Jordan and Steph wiggle, flick and pout in their smalls, then everyone goes home. Rumour has it that JP and the hairdresser for this show had a screaming match resulting in the hairdresser's dismissal at some point during preparations for the catwalk. I don't know if that's true, but I wish someone had caught it on camera. Girls prancing around in cute underwear? I can see that in my mirror at home. Fashion boys screeching at each other over styling ish-yous? Thank you, sir – may I have another?

· A curious Joydhi-Mail about flying appears, and the scrags are deposited at The Red Box in Lilyfield – a massive empty arts space. JP tells them they're about to be photographed in an "extreme fashion situation", and then opens the door to reveal a high ceiling, photographic equipment, and a harness. I love the word "harness". Nothing comfortable or normal can ever be associated with its use. The girls will be swathed in tulle, strapped into the harness (ha!), handed an umbrella (according to JP, this evokes an "out-there Mary Poppins" vibe), and flung about the room with joyous abandon, all the while being shot by Dean the funny photographer. Dean is funny. You can tell by the wacky way he wears a hat. Paloma says "I thought he was a wacko. I thought he was on drugs", and then flips a coin to see if she'll be the pot or the kettle in this scenario.

· I would've thought that a scene involving five girls strapped into a harness flying through the air would offer more in the way of hilarity and hijinx. I mean, if you can't depend on a harness for comedic mayhem, what are we all doing here? Sure, the bit where Dean the funny photographer asked Anika "How's your crotch", and she answered "Fine – thanks for asking" was a minor oasis in the droll desert, and Jordan suggesting that perhaps FHM Paloma should "close those legs, girlfriend" raised a wry smile, but other than that, I'm just disappointed. So is Steph. She's disappointed that Paloma is trying to take a good photograph. "It annoys me that she's trying so hard". Yeah. What a conniving cow. Imagine.

· After another Joydhi-Mail (that Paloma thinks is directed at her, bless 'er), our modules tromp into the Elimination Stadium to face their fate, and I type a quick email to Anika to demand that she take that stupid fucking hat off. After last week's High Neckline Scare, Joydhi is back to normal with her norks hanging out, and she babbles through this year's prizes, which I think include a seven-pack of tennis socks and a Red Bull. Judges Charlotte Dawson, Jez Smith, Shiny Alex Perry and Fabrizio Lipari are introduced, as is this week's elimination challenge, which is to "show us your best dance moves". This becomes bad very quickly. The modules all pick from one of three imaginary bags: Lap Dancing Hoo-wah, Wacky Ham, or Just Walks Up And Down. It's very bad.

· Both the module-in-a-box and the harness photographs are picked through, and all the modules look cube-a-licious in the box shots, and a bit blurry and flappy in the flying shots, with the exception of Paloma, who actually rocks it. The judges deliberate long and hard, which by the looks of things might be how every single judge actually likes it, and Joydhi calls out the safe names until only Steph and Paloma are left. Steph is told that she has a lack of focus, and Paloma is told that her face and body didn't come together this week, and that she's full of excuses. Then, in a moment that plonks me right in the middle of laugh, cry and hoot, Paloma is given the almighty arse. She smiles. She hugs. Then she turns and sprints her sack o' walnuts out the door. Bye, Paloma! Don't carry this whole show with your juvenile psychotic tanties on your way out!

· In a truly magnificent self-summing up, we're treated to a fabulous departing quote by Paloma, which is kind of like a Deluded Milkshake from the Kidding Yourself Café: "I think they eliminated me because I'm too good for the competition". Yuh-huh. And they give the gold medal to the guy who came second now, too. She also says "I think Alice will win because of what she looks like". In a modelling competition? You think?

Next week, the modules try to promote themselves in pretend go-sees, there are more harsh words and tears, and somebody mentions ringworm. Pitching. Bitching. Itching.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tourette's Poem

Oh, how I love the crisp first notes
Of nature's blush of Spring;
And sparrows on the wing.
When butterflies dance lazily
By webs bejewelled with dew,
And ARSE DICK BALLS! are floating
In a sky of crystal blue.
As sunlight dances playfully
On every silver rill,
Of the timid whippoorwill.
Lambs gambol in the meadow,
Filled with joy at new day's dawning;
And the SHIT SHIT COCK! on zephyr's air
Will FUCK BUM TIT! 'til morning.

Bum Shot #5: Josh Lawson

Me. Josh. Oli.
And our arses.
Whilst explaining the bum shot concept to Josh, I made the mistake of using the phrase "D-List celebrities".
He said "You could've been nice about it".
I said "I was".

Nice arse, though.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Australia's Next Top Westie Scrag Series Three #7

When you were a kid, did you sometimes make cocktails out of random 'fridge contents, just to see what they tasted like? Milk and pineapple juice? Lemonade and strawberry jam? Milo, honey, and a Space Food Swizzle Stick?
No matter how good the individual ingredients were, put together in the one glass, they always left you a little bit nonplussed. Or a little bit vomiting-over-the-sink.

That's my problem with this week's episode. Paparazzi. Boxing. Dead fish. Photo shoot with mothers. It's a bad cocktail, and left me feeling like I was wearing my jumper inside-out. Postmodern pastiche should be left to conceptual artists, shopping-centre architects and Logie Awards stylists – not modelling competitions.
Whatever. It's the 'Look What They Done To My Scrags, Ma' episode of Australia's Next Top Model.

· Paloma, still seething with stiff peaks of rage after the 'Paloma Pavlova' incident last week, attributes Sophie's elimination to karmic retribution. "I believe in karma", she says. Paloma believes in karma. That's like Timothy Leary espousing abstinence, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like the Energizer bunny deciding to just sit on the couch with a magazine. Look both ways before you cross the street, honey. Karma, like you, can be a bitch. Anika misses Sophie, and in the first of a number of pseudo-Sapphic allusions (that's 'fake lesbian' to you), says "I did everything with Sophie. This morning we even took a shower together".

· In the car one night, Paloma directs Jordan to execute a pressed ham on the window. Jordan accompanies her window-oyster with detailed instructions for others regarding correct pressed ham technique, involving seatbelt manipulation and underpant-removal. You may refer back to this paragraph repeatedly throughout this recap to enhance your eye-rolling sense of irony and self-contradiction. As a handy guide to the best times to refer back to this paragraph, a BING! sound will be heard. That is all.

· Charlotte and a bedraggled Joydhi rock up to Scrag HQ to introduce this week's theme – Model Behaviour (BING!). They both chat to the modules about how once they're in the public eye, they'll live their lives under a microscope, and that they should learn the kinds of behaviour to avoid (BING!), such as nudity (BING!), weight gain and drunkenness. A number of candid celebrity shots are shown on a sponsor-provided plasma screen, like Megan Gale with a mouth full of food and Heath Ledger flipping the bird. "Don't do it", says Charlotte. "I've done it", says Joydhi. "Don't", says Charlotte. A photo of Paris Hilton comes up, and the girls almost unanimously voice their disapproval, which pleases Charlotte. "I like that you all think she's a joke", she says, to Paloma's dismay – she says later that she'd always wanted to be Paris's friend. I think it's important that, in every group of friends, there's at least one who can spell.

· The final candid photo shown is the infamous Britney Spears limo muff shot, causing the girls to cringe and gag. Joydhi calls it "Wrong dot com", and Jordan wonders "How can you not know you're showing your bits and pieces?" (BING!). Joydhi attributes Spears' furry faux-pas to drugs (BONG!), and tells the girls to watch how they behave, how they dress, and who they hang around with. If Brit's Bits can't convince you, nothing can. Ooh. "Brit's Bits" sounds like a breakfast cereal sold in trailer parks.

· The module motorcade deposits our girls at CherriJam for an etiquette lesson conducted by entertainment journalist Melissa Hoyer and, for some reason, Fashion Assassin guy Alex Zabotto-Bentley. The session includes a complex advanced physics lesson about shaking hands when you're already holding champagne and a spring roll, eating spaghetti without cutting it into bite-sized pieces, and not laughing when you meet John Howard. Anika doesn't listen well to this last part of the lesson, and whilst Alex pretends to be John Howard (same height, different wings), she bursts into giggles. "I would've done the same thing if I met John Howard", says Jordan. "He's a twat". I think I want a talking Jordan doll. With a string in the back. And glued-on undies. Melissa and Alex blah on about the paparazzi for a while, and although a lesson on how to behave when you're walking down a piece of carpet should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by the federal budget.

· In a truly incongruous scene plonked roughly between others, Alice introduces us to the fact that Fatty the Fish has died. Apparently there was a fish in the Scrag Central fishtank which was much fatter than the others, so the modules, after a protracted brainstorming session, named him Fatty. Paloma eloquently explains their decision: "he's abnormally fatter to the rest of the fish". And now he's dead. And Paloma is nailing together a makeshift crucifix in the backyard, and presiding over his funeral. A grave is excavated in the garden, and after a few words and giggles, Paloma deposits the disturbingly oversized Fatty in his soddy tomb using a mixing spoon. Alice says "We don't have a Fatty anymore". Neither do any males watching this episode, honey.

· A Joydhi-Mail arrives at the house, and instructs the girls to be ready for a relaxing day of play tomorrow. Everyone with half a brain (so Alice, basically) suspects that the play-day is a ruse, and that there may be paparazzi lurking as a special challenge. The modules pile into limos and are taken to Speedos at North Bondi for breakfast, unknowingly being captured on film the whole time by Ben McDonald the paparazzo. Alice is onto him though, forever twisting her scrawny neck this way and that, trying to catch him in the act, the wily minx. Danica (yes I'm finally spelling it properly), shovelling food into her rubbery mouth from her plate and others', doesn't seem to care about being photographed, despite the fact that she admits she's put on weight since starting the competition. Hmmm. Eating yourself fatter during a modelling competition. It's a bit like stopping for a cigarette in the middle of a kiss-a-thon.

· Suddenly a surfing instructor appears from nowhere and shouts "Which one of you chicken wings doesn't wanna come surfin'?" Jordan, not recognising the rhetorical, puts her hand up. Then she puts it down again. The modules run down to the beach in wetsuits (proving that Kelly Slater, briefly in the mid-nineties, is the only person ever to look good in a wetsuit), and throw themselves into the whitewash in awkward displays of awkward. Like a tablespoon of white rice in a washing machine, they thrash and dump, watched and snapped all the time by Ben-on-the-beach, who's hiding behind a towel. Steph, showing the brains of a tube of condensed milk and the memory of a recently-deceased goldfish, decides it's a good idea to change into a g-string on the promenade. Der. And furthermore: Der.

· In order to flog an already-cremated horse, the girls are sent to lunch at Woolloomooloo, whilst Ben-in-a-bad-wig takes surreptitious snapshots. We get it, already. When they leave to get in the car home, they're "swamped" by paparazzi, and Paloma adopts the petulant strut of someone who isn't a wanna-be nobody from Newcastle. Anika, dressed today in a revolting frilly short thing straight from the Kmart Mammary-Minimising Collection, links arms with Alice and then worries that the media will suspect they're lesbian lovers. Don't worry, sweetie - Alice makes rice-paper feel overweight, and you have the biggest boobs in the southern hemisphere. The media will just think you were taking your piece of packing-tape for a walk.

· Back at the house, Charlotte, Alex Hyphenated and Ben meet the girls to expose their sea folly, showing them the secret photos shot that day. "Oh More Gourds" abound as we see Jordan grimacing in the surf, Steph flashing her arse at the beach ("You look like you're taking a dump", says Charlotte), Alice swigging water like it's wine, and Danica's disembodied head floating in the Bondi froth. Jordan shows that she's been listening to the lesson, commenting that "I leant don't surf, don't eat, don't move, just smile". Anika, being the only person who actually smiled at the camera all day, wins the challenge, and gets front row seats at the Solomon/Mundine fight, whilst all the other modules have to sit a few rows behind. Now, aside from having the opportunity to see someone punch Anthony Mundine in the chops, that seems to me to be a crap prize, non?

· Alice is impressed that she has better seats than Eddie McGuire, but then maybe Eddie gets sprayed with enough blood and sweat during the day. Paparazzi take photos of the girls arriving at the ever-ritzy Entertainment Centre in their ever-ritzy Ford Fiestas, and I offer 'round a serving plate filled with Jatz, tasty cheese and home-brand cabanossi, just to set the right ever-ritzy tone. Jordan says "I've been to fights before, but they were shit ones", which is like saying "I've had a metal stake hammered into my temple before, but never a stainless steel one". Lucky. Paloma says to camera that when she was younger, she wanted to take up boxing, but she realised that she's too much of a nice person, and after hitting someone she'd want to ask if they were okay. Oh, Paloma. You're such a useless c*nt.

· Photo-shoot time, and today's photographer is Daniel Smith, who has apparently photographed some people before. He and JP stress the need for high energy, angles, shapes and fun in today's shoot, and then tell the girls that they'll be sharing the spotlight today – with their mothers! In a surprise comparable to finding a peanut in a bag of peanuts, the girls cry, hug their mothers, cry, tell us how their mothers are their best friends, cry, and cry. Danica, Steph and Alice all have normal, textbook mothers, Paloma's mother looks like she might have a lot of cats at home, and Jordan's mother could conceivably be her slightly older sister, good for borrowing lip-gloss, tampons, and the phone number of the local clinic. Alice's mother is quite possibly picked at random from the street – she's short and nuggetty, with an angular haircut and peculiar teeth. The modules have to think of poses to strike with their mothers which typify their relationship, and with the exception of Paloma and her mum almost going the pash, Jordan's mum being mutton-dressed-as-rock-pig and Alice and her mum getting the irrits with each other, this is more tedious than tofu.

· A Joydhi-mail sees the girls strutting into the Elimination Demountable, and three outfits stand out – Alice's tuxedo-t-shirt, Paloma's god-awful strapless buttoned dress, and Joydhi's first-time-in-living-memory decision to not show any cleavage. After introducing Melissa Hoyer as the guest judge, Joydhi rambles through the prizes, which I think include a bottle of glitter nailpolish and a Toblerone. Both the boxing paparazzi shots and the mother/daughter photos are shown and discussed, and the space-time continuum is thrown into spasm as a photo of Alice smiling appears. Anika is compared to Sarah Ferguson (I knew I recognised her wardrobe from somewhere), Danica is prodded in her wobbly bits about being "fat", and I can't understand a word Paloma says due to the sing-song baby voice she always pulls out for the judges, which usually makes me want to take to her smug face with a rasp. After boxing, candid paparazzi shots and twee, cheesy mother photos, can we bring some high-falutin' glamour back next week please? If I want to see someone acting badly with food in their teeth and their arse hanging out, I'll just go for a drink on Sussex Street.

· The judges deliberate, and things get a little bit heated between Jez and Shiny Alex Perry, whose sunglasses nearly move with indignant rage. Shiny Alex tells Jez that he "wouldn't know a good model if one slapped him in the face", which is interesting coming from someone who looks like he's been slapped in the face every half hour for the last three years. All judges argue long and hard, until Joydhi tells them they'll "have to resort to a voyte".

· Joydhi gathers up an armful of phoy-toys and starts calling out names, until only Danica and Paloma are left. Danica is told that she took a good photo, but that it's her first. Paloma is told that she has great energy, but that her look doesn't suit the world of modelling. I love fashion people. They have like, a thousand ways of telling someone they're a dog. After a dramatic pause, Danica is shafted. Bye, Danica! Don't upsize your McMeal on your way out! "I think I should've won because I wanted to win", she says. Life's not fair, babe. I want Dylan Moran to bring me breakfast every morning, but sometimes things only happen on the weekends.

Next week, for some reason Jordan says "Girlfriend, close those legs", there's more nastiness, fights, and Palomelodrama, and the girls are subjected to a bone-crunching, contorted photo-shoot. Cracks. Attacks. Er… more cracks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Celebrity Limerick #2

There once was an heiress named Hilton;
Whose strange fame tabloid empires were built on;
But she drove a bit quick,
Now she's off to the Nick,
'Cause the judge passed a verdict of guilt on.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Australia's Next Top Westie Scrag Series Three #6

I'm rubber, you're glue. Ink pink, you stink. Ner ner ner ner ner ner ner.
It doesn't matter how much make-up you trowel onto the faces of these girls, or how many pairs of back-breaking Jimmy Choy Shoys you crow-bar them into – the fact remains that these foetal fashionistas have pretty much gone straight from cot to Calvin and from dummy to Dior, and may even still insist that the crusts are cut off their sandwiches. Never have the trappings of extreme youth been more apparent than in this episode.

There's name-calling. There's the silent treatment. There's late night pranks involving bedding and aerated foodstuffs. It's the You Just Like Me 'Cause I'm Food In Bed episode of Australia's Next Top Model. And you're so dropped.

· Give you one guess how Sad Alice reacts to being in the bottom two last week. Starts with 's'. Ends with 'd'. And it's not 'stuffed' , 'solid', or 'six pieces of fried chicken with mustard'. In black and white footage (which is the international language for 'flashback'), we see Ian Thorpe taking Alice aside for a chat about her diet, with the emphasis on more protein and fewer sweets. Whilst a discussion between a swimmer and a vegetarian about the relative scientific values of different foods should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by a hair on my arm which looks marginally longer than the rest.

· Joydhi and JP visit Casa De Scrag to give the modules a pop fashion quiz, which they fail miserably, getting only four questions right out of seventeen. As Steph (who seems to be an aspiring Joydhi in the vowel-murder stakes) says, "We had noyyyy idea". They knew what haute couture was, and were able to name a couple of labels Gemma Ward models for, but questions like "what is houndstooth?" and "what are culottes?" were met with blanker stares than usual. It's not rocket surgery, people. It's quite simple. Culottes are shorts that look like a skirt. Houndstooth is a monochromatic tessellated fabric design primarily associated with department stores and mid-to-late twentieth century fashion. Like, Der.

· Shocked with the girls' low FQ, Joydhi marches them off to Ultimo TAFE to meet Nicholas Huxley, head of the fashion design school. Steph remarks "You could tell he was a fashion teacher because of the way he dressed and the amount of jewellery he wore". I think the word you're looking for is "gay", sweetie. Whilst Danika takes frenzied notes in her Strawberry Shortcake jotter, Nicholas teaches the modules some basic fashion design concepts. Steph, the commentator du jour, says "He wasn't shocked that we didn't know stuff". You're models, honey. Nobody's shocked that you don't know stuff.

· Lesson over, Nicholas introduces one of his ex-students, designer Wayne Cooper, who still grasps desperately onto his East London accent despite living in Australia for 22 years, innit. He drags out a rack of Very Nice Clothes Indeed, and asks the girls to participate in an exercise in which they each put on an outfit and walk it up and down the room whilst 'interpreting' it. As Wayne says, every outfit has its own "Ah-i-tew". Innit. Whilst handing out outfits, he also (endearingly) asks "Who's the one with the E-cups?" to which Anika shyly raises her hand. At least, I think she does – it's hard to tell under the dark shadow cast by her colossal boobies.

· The girls dress and walk whilst Wayne gives them a quick critique – Sophie is told she looks like she's "walking to Coles", and Jordan is told she's "obvious". Danika admittedly rocks her gorgeous frock, and for some reason Anika, despite the fact that she's carrying around three people's norks, is told she's "too androgynous". That's like telling Jackson Pollock he's not quite splatty enough, or for the lowbrow amongst you, that Bratz dolls need to look more like ten-dollar highway prostitutes. Steph is told she looks "too innocent", and Alice underwhelms the way only translucent pale blue sad people can. Paloma doesn't like her outfit, a striped frock with a black patent-leather swing-coat, because she thinks it looks like something out of The Matrix. Wayne is disappointed with her grim-faced, cranky interpretation of the outfit, thinking she should have made more of the fun, sixties-inspired nature of it. "Bullshit this is sixties," sneers Paloma. Now, whilst I would normally prefer to take fashion cues from a 17-year-old wanna-be from Newcastle over an internationally successful fashion designer of thirty years' standing, I have to side with Wayne here. I also have to call Paloma an ignorant upstart who talks out of her arsehole. Innit.

· A Joydhi-Mail transports the modules to the offices of Australian Vogue, where they meet the editor-in-chief, Kirstie Clements, or KC as I'm calling her. Jordan calls her the "chick of chicks of fashion", and I have to admit that I'm quite frightened of KC. It's not the fact that she's this country's ultimate authority on style and the fashion business, or the impressive office, or the racks and racks of outlandishly expensive clothes that fill it. It's the haughty sneer. And the eyes, which are like the windows to Hell's most intimidating waiting room. Now, I consider myself to be quite the tough nut, but if KC said something mean to me, I'd cry. It's like KC And The Where-Did-The-Sunshine-Go Band. The modules all seem terrified too, and look like they're hoping brown undies are in this season. They're not.

· KC shows the girls what is in this season, including short skirts, metallic fabrics, and stupid, stupid shoes. She asks the modules some questions about particular designers, which are met with the sound of distant crickets chirping. Jordan excuses her ignorance with the fact that she's only been reading Vogue for the last couple of weeks. "What did you read before?" sneers KC. Jordan implodes into a powerpoint of shame and answers "New Weekly". KC growls like a Rottweiler whose Kibbles have just been taken away.

· Now, I'm having trouble figuring out the best way to describe this next bit, known unofficially as either "T-Unit" or "Mean Scrags With Grocery Items". All I can really do is imagine I'm a semi-illiterate pre-teen myself, and that I'm relating the tale to one of my peers on some sort of telephonic device:
Like, as IF you didn't know what T-Unit was. Like, it's everyone except Paloma and Steph – god, ur SOOOY backward. And like, T-Unit have secret meetings and everything, and Jordan chairs them – OMG she's SOOOY pretty, even if her teeth ARE bigger than her brain, LOL! Anyway, the whole point of T-Unit is to like, bitch about mostly Paloma but partly Steph – OMG, Steph says "soooy" SOOOY much. WTF? So Alice says about Paloma "She says really fucked up stuff", which is SOOOY true, w00t! And then Jordan totally has the best solution to the whole like, da-rama, and they decide to play pranks on the bee-yotches. K, 'bye.

· Ugh. I feel all dirty, and a little bit abbreviated. I need some foie gras and Coleridge, STAT. Anyway, like, T-Unit commence pranking with available pantry items by sprinkling Steph's bed with salt, and smearing Paloma's bedding with honey, eggs, and whipped cream, dubbing it the 'Paloma Pavlova'. I dunno – I reckon any dessert named after Paloma would have marzipan in it. When the desperately adult shenanigans are discovered, Paloma is "extremely angry", and considers going downstairs to punch people in the face. Steph seems angry that she only got salt in her bed, instead of a proper three-ingredient cocktail like Paloma did. The girls decide not to react, and T-Unit, whilst initially beside themselves with mirth, are disappointed that their efforts failed to produce the desired Palomelodramatic Maelstrom. There. Done. Can we all pretend we have pubic hair and grow the fuck up now, please?

· This week's challenge involves the girls having ten minutes to race around David Jones Elizabeth Street and find a cutting-edge outfit based on Scary KC's advice. Like a handful of rice noodles flung into the wind, the girls scatter and panic through the designer racks, grasping handfuls of souped-up garments and accessories. Then it's back to Vogue to change and present themselves to KC and her lingering scent of sulphur. Despite Sophie announcing that she's "stressin' out hardcore", KC quite enjoys her Sass & Bide-y beach-top-and-shorts combo, and the other girls relax, thinking that perhaps KC isn't the bride of Lucifer after all. Then Paloma steps forward, hell opens, and Satan farts right in her face.

· Paloma is wearing what Jordan describes as a "tragedy of an outfit". It's a metallic knitted mini-dress which clings to everything it shouldn't, and which is made infinitely worse by the presence of Paloma's fists jammed snugly into the crotch-level pockets. KC, in an impersonation of some pubic-area tweezers, tells her she's missed the boat, that she looks cheap, and she shouldn't be showing off her legs. If you watch this bit in slow-motion, you can see the exact moment when Paloma's will to live is extinguished. It's fucking gold. JP calls her a "sack o' walnuts", and the cameraman zooms in on her arse. I love this show. Most of the other girls have thrown on shorts, shirts, and jackets in various unremarkable combinations, with the exception of Alice, who has teamed a stunning panelled frock with a puffy, crinkled parka. KC moistens her daks with enthusiasm, and announces Alice as the challenge winner.

· Winners (Alice picks Danika and Jordan to share her prize) have lunch with Shiny Alex Perry and model Ayesha Makim. Losers sort clothes at Mr Stinky, an op shop. I stifle a yawn and think about shaving my legs.

· Just when I think it's safe to use big words and admit there's no Santa Claus, Jordan calls another T-Unit meeting. She says that perhaps they should "stop ostracising Paloma, because it's her birthday tomorrow, and she'd feel heaps fucked", or for the lowbrow amongst you… wait – I'm not sure there is anything more lowbrow than the phrase "heaps fucked". Jordan apologises to Paloma, and Paloma tells Jordan that they "won't be straight away friends like we were before". I cut their meat into bite-sized pieces and ready the nappy-changing table.

· FINALLY we get to the photo-shoot, and today the girls will be shot by judge Jez Smith, who is really quite endearing, but who really shouldn't wear a deep v-necked t-shirt. The modules are each given an extremely avant-garde designer outfit, and told to pick a 'character' to portray whilst dramatically presenting the outfit to the camera underneath black, slicked back and glued-on hairpieces. Anika is cruelly given a gigantic puffy inter-stellar space-meringue with a gigantic boob-hole to wear, and she and Jez have a race to see who can flash the first bit of tit. She tries to channel "French kitten", but only manages "highway deer". Sophie looks fantastic in a simple sack-dress, and Steph is reasonable as a yellow-topped daddy long-legs. For the first time ever I don't wonder why in hell Danika is still here, as she doesn't look anything like Danika. She looks pretty. Paloma, in a huge dress seemingly made from an elephant's haemorrhoids, is much less interesting than haemorrhoids. Alice, who decides her character is a silkworm, has trouble "invoking the silkworm", giving rise to a stream of post-modern hilarity. Jez says "you talked to me about being a worm, but I'm just not seeing it". JP says "Alice sucked. Her performance was shit. She's no silkworm". She definitely looked like she had worms, though. Maybe they just misunderstood. Jordan is a very good tarantula in a fabulous black coat. Scene.

· Our modules rock up to the Elimination Velodrome, and Anika's boobs, hoiked up as they are by a corset, arrive twenty minutes before everyone. Joydhi yaps through the prizes, which I think include a Jeans West gift voucher and an Iced Vo-Vo, and both Joydhi and Charlotte give the girls a right stern talking-to about T-Unit and its associated juvenile meanness. Joydhi utters the mildly clever "there's no T-Unit, only J-Unit" (there is no Dana, only Zuul! Sorry. Had to be done), but Charlotte completely supercedes her with "KC is here to see top models, but she's only seeing top moles". Word, Charlotte.

· The elimination mini-challenge is to busy oneself with a table full of paint, ribbons and safety pins, and make oneself an outfit, presumably in keeping with the general pre-schooly undertones of this entire episode. Fair enough, though. I'm sure all models at some point in their career have to dip into the busy-box for a quick finger-paint. And I don't even mean that as a euphemism.

· Photos are looked through, and to be honest, all the girls look fabulous. I really hate that. Joydhi grabs the pile of phoytoys and calls out names one by one, until only Norky Anika and New Best Friend Sophie are left. Anika, who is already bawling, is told that she had a disappointing week, and Sophie is told she has a great body, but no scope for improvement. And then… then… wait – there's just something in my eye, that's all… Sophie is sent packing. Bye, Sophie. Don't be all perfect and shit on your way out. Oh, and honey? Try not hanging your mouth open in just one photo. 'Kay, bye.

Next week, Jordan ups the glamour-ante with a pressed ham on the car window, awful candid paparazzi-style photos are taken of the modules, and there's some bitch-fighting amongst the judges. Cheeks. Freaks. Critiques.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Romper Room Story

For those of you who don't know, Romper Room was a TV show for pre-school children which ran for years in a number of countries, presided over various sweet-natured, unmarried women, and featuring a different group of lucky, lucky children, chosen from the public, in each episode. These children played games, did whatever Simon Said, presented toys and stories for Show And Tell, and drank milk.

My twin sister and I were on Romper Room.

A certain part of our appearance did not make it to air.

It was the part in which I said, for all to hear, "Sometimes it stings when Mummy washes my front bottom".

Steak N' Chicks Tuesday #9

Lots of little bits of food in lots of little dishes rock the house.
This month's Filete e Chicas Martes had a distinctly Spanish flavour as we hauled our castanets to the city's centre for jug after jug of deep and fruity sangria. And a bit of a nosh. And a little bit more sangria.

3rd April 2007 – En Casa Restaurant, Pitt St Sydney.

The Place
In the words of Chris Martin, it was all yellow.
Bright mustard-coloured walls encase En Casa, its dark polished floor, its long shiny tables and its awesome, nose-hair-curling, saliva-squirting garlicky funk. The front room contains numerous smaller tables, with the pizza-making hombre glassed into his little pizza zone, and the main kitchen at the back. Turn the corner and there's a room with larger, longer tables for groups, banquets, and rugby teams, all presided over by the standard decorative motifs of Dali, Miro, Picasso, and big fat guitars. And everyone's favourite: Spanish bagpipes.
At first glance the toilets were unimpressive, but I took a closer look. Running short of paper products at home? Then this is the place. Roll upon roll of soft loo paper and paper hand-towels are piled shoulder-high, with a conveniently-sized window over the basin to facilitate thieving by uni students who spent all their money on beer and crystal meth. And the water in the toilet bowl? As blue as the Mediterranean.

The People
The lovely Tegan organised this month's Steak N' Chicks Tuesday, and it must be noted that she was the first to actually draw up an Excel spreadsheet to do so. Geek or Goddess? You decide. SnC virgins this time were Amanda, Olivia, and Tash, with Tegan, Me, Alex, Claire, Alyson, Angela and Elly helping to make their first time as gentle as possible.
Clientele mostly consisted of couples in the front room, with groups and families in the back room, making it noisier and dramatically more interesting. Not much evidence of the ubiquitous Sydney backpacker despite the restaurant's location, but we picked what definitely looked like a footy dinner – 2 tables of burly blokes whose combined shoulder-width left little room for sunlight. Hi, boys.
Staff in the kitchen were an interesting multinational mix, although wait-staff appeared uniformly Iberian, uniformly attractive, and, although their warm welcomes and decent service may contradict the fact, uniformly enveloped by an air of what Claire and I dubbed 'flamenco disdain'.

The Food
Don Quixote would sell out Sancho Panza for this food. I'm not going to lie – this is some of the best tapas I've had, mostly because it was fresh, understated, and not tongue-shrivellingly salty. In a nutshell (although none of the food was served in one):
Olives: subtle, not too briny, plump and tasty.
Sardines: fresh, chunky, fishy, and fantastically garlicky
Garlic pizza: salt on toast, but surprisingly morish
Chilli Prawns: doused with tomato and chilli, the perfect amount of kick and a wondrous plate-wiping sauce
Baby Octopus: charred, lemony octagonal heaven – every tentacle wrapped itself around my heart
Garlic Prawns: hot, saucy and orgasmic – halitosis never felt so good
Mussels : so fresh they almost wiped your palate clean – subtle tomato and garlic sauce
Garlic Mushrooms: two of the best things in the world, together in a clay pot, then in my mouth
Potato Tortilla: quite bland, but well-timed for sauce-mopping purposes
Sangria: I've had good sangria, I've had bad sangria, and I've had woeful sangria. It's all still sangria, and it's always still fun to slurp your way around your eighth glass trying to get the last bit of apple out.

The Summarising Bit
Don't breathe on anyone for three days, except to tell them about this tapas. Or to tell them they have revolting body odour, because then they deserve it. Seriously, pant-wettingly good food, and bloody cheap, too. Get your burro in there.
Mention must also be made of the Return Of The Great Limp-Pumping Elixir (see Steak N' Chicks Tuesday #6). This is, for the uninitiated, lip gloss that stings like bejeezus, but makes your lips swell for about an hour, giving you that just-pashed-a-man-with-stubble look that drives 'em crazy. Beauty is pain, people. You heard it here second.