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Friday, October 26, 2007

Why The Big Pause?

My brother Mike, who lives in the remote and tropical town of Broome, is a dreamer and an innovator. You might even say he's a pioneer.
He's long had a dream to ride around Australia on a postie bike wearing a panda suit, with his dog, Cowboy, as company.

Unfortunately, Australia is a really, really big place, postie bikes are really, really small, and panda suits get really, really hot inside. Ask any panda.

Fortunately, Mike's girlfriend Naomi is not only a red-hot spunk, she also makes dreams happen, albeit on a slightly reduced scale.

A few days after his birthday this year, Mike received instructions from Naomi which directed him to a skip bin in Broome. Behind the skip bin was a postie bike and a freshly-purchased panda suit in Mike's size. Henceforth began the adventure known as Panda's Big Day Out, in which Mike-as-Panda was required to complete designated tasks in different locations and then await further instructions. And off we go…

1. Withdraw $40 from a teller at the ANZ bank.
There is a sign outside most banks letting customers know that motorcycle helmets are not to be worn inside. They seem, though, to have an open-door policy for pandas. Funnily enough, Mike is wearing a motorcycle helmet under his…um…head.

2. With the $40, buy four specific items from Coles.
By this stage, Mike had noticed the Pied Piper effect a panda suit has with young children.

Unfortunately, there is no Express Lane in Coles reserved for endangered species.

Fortunately, Cowboy recognises his master using scent alone.

3. Go to Broome Museum, give the purchased items to the ladies there, and buy a postcard.
Wish you were here… because I only have stumpy little pretend-thumbs, and postcards are really small.

Plus, it's thirty-eight degrees here.

4. Get through security at Broome airport and give the postcard to an unknown passenger.
Sadly, photographs of six-foot (some would say 'giant') pandas are not permitted at Broome Airport. Six-foot pandas, however, are.

5. Return some scandalously overdue books to the Notre Dame Library, pick up a skateboard and head towards local skate park.
Can you believe nobody offered him a lift? Mind you, it's pretty difficult to hitch-hike when you only have stumpy little pretend-thumbs.

6. Get skating advice from local skate hoons. Skate.
Mike is not a natural skater, so he listened intently to his teenage mentors. Luckily, he picked it up quite quickly, with extra points for his post-skate swagger and baggy "pants".

7. Go to Cable Beach, stand in front of Web Cam and call sister, who will tell you to meet your friends for a well-deserved birthday dinner.
It took a while to unfold the piece of paper with the telephone number on it. Big… paws.

Special note: if you are a panda, check that there are no small children watching before removing your own head.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm A Country Member. Remember? Part Two.

Despite the Ghosts Of A Surprisingly Moderate Number Of Beers, I woke up at the Knickerbocker on Saturday bursting with the joy of living and all but surrounded by animated woodland creatures. Pesky little bastards.

Showered and ready for our first full day of regional ramblin', Milly and I made our way downstairs to the bistro, where both Jude (our generic name for ladies who serve bacon) and the Bitch Toaster From Hell were discovered to have had miraculous makeovers since our last visit. One smiled and served perfectly poached eggs, the other made things brown and crispy. Buoyed by our mutual love of condiments, Milly and I declared Saturday 'International Pepper Day'. Mark it in your diaries.

Without further ado, adieu, or Aga-Doo, we jumped in the car and continued our journey westward, driving through the gorgeous town of Blayney and noting the majestic fa├žade of its Chinese restaurant, the Hang Sing, or as Milly dubbed it, "a zinger of a chinger". Chinese restaurants in country towns absolutely rock, and Milly formed a plan to document them photographically as a special side-project.

On this trip, we decided we should stop off for more sight-seeing, and started as soon as we spotted the turn-off to Blayney Wind Farm. For the uninitiated, wind farms are energy-generating "farms" consisting of gigantic white windmill-like structures. Some think them noble and picturesque. Milly thinks they're spooky as all get-out. The viewing area, whilst affording a distant view and some informative placards, didn't freak Milly out anywhere near enough, so we drove up the hill on a dirt road to get a closer, eerier look, also enabling us to hear their chilling whoooOOMP whoooOOMP noise. Milly was on edge, evinced by the fact that she kept calling the windmills "freaky alien motherfuckers". I, being a supportive and comforting kind of friend, laughed and laughed and laughed.

Whilst planning this particular road trip, our initial goal was to stay our first night in either the town of Barry or the town of Neville, mostly due to the fact that, once we had discovered they existed, the urge to visit them became irresistible. Coming soon: Road Trip Visiting Only Towns Named After Blokes. Unfortunately we hadn't been able to book any rooms in either town, so we abandoned the idea. Just as we were leaving the Wind Farm, however, we happened upon a road sign pointing to Barry. Our pupils fully dilated, we wordlessly turned the car in Barry's direction, using fate as our navigator and kismet as our co-pilot.

Barry is a tiny town (population 80), primarily consisting of grass, houses and a sign.

During our two-minute stopover, fate and kismet (doing their assigned jobs most bodaciously) caused us to discover another road sign pointing towards Neville. Needless to say, we followed it.

Neville (population 100) is slightly more spunky than Barry, and in addition to having its own sign, it also plays host to an instantly endearing style of accommodation in the form of Neville Siding. At Neville Siding, you can sleep in a converted train carriage on a hill, and their website lists "fossicking" as one of its available activities. There is nothing I don't love about Neville Siding.

Back on the road, Milly and I entertained ourselves by looking at cows. Despite being one of the most rock n' roll chicks in like, the known cosmos, Milly used to work for a rural newspaper, making her the resident expert on bovines. Strange, then, that:
a) after a long time of being ignored by the cows no matter how often we yelled "MOO!" at them, a small herd by a fence looked up at us when shouted at, and watched us drive by. Milly got very excited and squealed "Oh my god! They totally looked at us! They totally did!"; and
b) Milly was also heard (herd?) to say "They're tops, aren't they, cows? They're like giant Rotweiller/Staffie crosses".
Okay, so I saw where she was coming from, but I reckon they're less like dogs than - oh, I don't know. Cows?

Observational Aside: Mark Rothko may have got all his artistic inspiration from observing great big fields of Canola blooming in country New South Wales. Either that, or he got it from the perceived erosion of mythological boundaries as a result of imperialism and scientific discovery. I always get those two mixed up.

Our next stop was Cowra, where we discovered to our dismay that the Cowra Smokehouse, home of tanks of frenzied trout, big men with small heads, and various different-shaped globs of deliciousness, had closed. The only thing that could possibly cheer us up was the sight of another chinese restaurant and some morning tea.

The morning tea part would be efficiently taken care of, we thought we could safely assume, at the Rose Garden Coffee Shop, so we entered, queued up, and ordered a cup of coffee and a cup of tea. Note: we did not order golden chalices filled with the breast-milk of rare lemurs. The Rose Garden Coffee Shop has eight staff members who seem to all use the one brain on some kind of time-share plan, provided the clock dictating the "time" part is about three days too slow. Half an hour later, we were finally handed a cup of magma-hot coffee, and another cup of dark liquid with a teabag hanging out. This is what Milly looks like when she's been in a room with slow stupid people for a long time, and has scalded the length of her digestive tract from mouth to anus:

The only thing you should ever say to a woman with this facial expression is "Have you lost weight?" Otherwise, just shut up.

Another hour of driving, and we finally arrived at Cuzza's place in Quandialla, where we were greeted by eighteen kinds of excellence known as Cuzza, and twenty-three kinds of cute known as Reuben, her one-year-old son. After hugging and telling each other how gorgeous we all still are, we headed off for the Bribbaree Show. For those of you who don't know, Country Shows give locals the chance to:
a) showcase the fruits of their labour;
b) catch up with other locals;
c) drink beer whilst admiring tractors; and
d) eat all kinds of god-awful shit.

In other words, Country Shows are awesome. Right girls?


To be continued…

Baby, Baby, Where Did Our Pegs Go?

Imagine, if you will, that you're on a yacht in Croatia, like my sister, brother-in-law and parents were recently.

You have a one-year-old son who needs to be entertained.

Your son is very discerning when it comes to his own amusement, and the entertainment value of the few toys on board has been exhausted.

What do you do?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You Had Me At 'Tooheys' #8 UPDATE

Simon is very tall.
Simon is very charming.
Simon is easy on the eye.
Simon is excellent, intelligent company, and not shy when it comes to keeping a girl in gin & tonics.

Simon is twenty-one years old.

Simon, who was in kindergarten when I was starting university, will never, ever see my underpants.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Made-Up Word of the Week #2

maracas of doom

Eclipse mints as carried in pocket or handbag.

Origins: It has been proposed, in various recent earnest conversations, that if one were a terrorist wishing to drug or poison a large percentage of the Australian population, all one would have to do is find a way to infuse the aforementioned drug or poison into packets of Eclipse Mints. The gusto with which the local populace has embraced the Eclipse Mint is nothing short of phenomenal, and one can hear the mouth-freshening blighters shaking around rhythmically in their distinctive blue tins wherever one goes. In fact, in order to find my own stash, all I have to do is shake my handbag and follow the noise. Hence, if Eclipse Mints were drugged or poisoned, they would become the Maracas Of Doom.

"Got a mint?"
"Nah, fresh out - try Tina. I heard her maracas of doom when she got up to go to the photocopier."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Had Me At "Tooheys" #8, or This Week's Pick-Up Line

I've always thought it's wonderful that, while I sleep, thousands of people are scurrying around busily, ensuring that when I wake up the streets are sparkling, my garbage has been magically whisked away, and there's fresh bread waiting for me at the corner shop.

Similarly, I'm pleased to know that now, while I sleep, I also have people out there busily picking up blokes for me.

On Sunday night, I'd just settled into bed with a book (rock n' roll types need their literature too, y'know), when my 'phone rang. It was my mate Kylie, and from the sound of her voice and the ambient clamour, I could tell that
a) she was out at a bar; and
b) her bloodstream was at least 13% champagne.

Kylie knows a lot about me, including my weakness for obscenely, freakishly tall men. I'll often excuse shortcomings like arrogance, sub-standard grammar or bumpy noses in men if they have to duck their heads to get into my house. Kylie is also a very pro-active, industrious person who would rather stick a fork in her eye than waste time. The phonecall (primarily one-sided) went something like:

Kylie: Hi, Josie-May. I'm just out for a drink, and there's this great guy here – he's really, really tall, his name is Simon, and he's Irish. He's lovely, and he's gorgeous. Well, I think he's gorgeous. Anyway, I was telling him about you, and I think you should go out on a date. Anyway, here he is…

And I heard her shout "Simon! Simon! It's my friend Jo!" and all of a sudden I'm in my pyjamas chatting to a six-foot-seven-and-a-half Irish guy about how hilarious it is that I effectively have a pimp and that he's really, really tall.

Anyway, we're probably going for a drink next week. Am I insane?

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm A Country Member. Remember? Part 1.

As you may have gathered previously, I'm in love with Road Trips. I want to be Road Trips' virgin bride, and have loads of little baby Road Trips, and possibly have an affair in my early forties with a Weekend Cabin, but then come to my senses and realise that I could never leave Road Trips.
Plus, I like being driven around the country to an appropriate soundtrack, staying in country pubs, and laughing myself a new arsehole.

A couple of weekends ago, it was time to revisit Quandialla, home of old uni mate Cuzza and her new family, one third of which was merely gestating last time we visited, but by now was, apparently, no longer in utero or kicking her in the bladder. My Mate Milly and I packed up some clothes, music and beer money and settled our delightful buttocks into bucket seats for a jaunt through the rolling hills and less-rolling plains in the west of our state.

If I was David Caruso, now would be the time to say: "And this…" (cock head, put sunglasses on), "… is our story".
Wait - maybe I just mean 'cockhead'. Whatever.

Milly picked me up in St Leonards on Friday afternoon, and we drove into the sunset, panicking about what music to play first until we realised that, by the time we got back to Sydney, we would have listened to each CD around eighteen times. The White Stripes won pole position, as it's possible to drive, unwrap a Mintie, knit and mime Meg's uncomplicated drum "solos" all at the same time. I didn't unwrap any Minties or knit, but I did think about my doorbell a little bit.

First stop was Blaxland McDonalds for a toilet break and some processed foodstuffs. The first rule of Road Trips is: You Do Not Eat Salad On Road Trips. Blaxland McDonalds was notable for two reasons:
1. Milly and I were wolf-whistled at in the carpark. The last time I was wolf-whistled at in a McDonalds carpark, I think they were serving Pat Benatar-themed Happy Meals.

2. Someone had vandalised the sign on the door leading to the toilets, so instead of "PUSH", it just read "PU". Irony kind of follows me around.

After a quick stop for petrol in Lithgow and a couple of hours playing Let'sch Pretend We Have A Schpeech Impediment, we eventually arrived in Bathurst and made our way to our old friend, The Knickerbocker Hotel. After a year and a half, their rooms are still sixty dollars per night, with your own bathroom, telly, bar fridge, tea, coffee and cooked eggs-and-bakey in the morning. Sterling value, my friends. Sterling, I say. Unfortunately I didn't have the means available (read: studly young man-friend) to test the bed in the traditional sense, so I settled for the only method at my disposal:

After settling in, we wandered down the road to Shanahans Family Hotel, or "The Family" as it's commonly known, remembering that the place was heaving with friendly artsy types on our last visit.

"Look out," said Milly, squinting towards a bunch of people on the pub's verandah. "Looks like the cops are here".
"No…" I replied. "…I think that's just a guy in a blue shirt…"
"So it is" said Milly, heading for the bar.

The crowd at The Family was a little less friendly and age-appropriate than the last time we were here, but still pleasant enough, and a sterling example of why a number of local high school students may not be passing their exams this year. We got chatting to the only other two people in the pub who weren't minors, and discovered that they were, in fact, miners. Irony kind of follows me around. They were also motorcycle enthusiasts and habitual mumblers, so we gathered that one of them was called "Rod" and the other one was called something else. After an acceptable number of beers and an unacceptable number of words consisting primarily of vowels, Milly and I called it a night and headed back up to the Pub Named After Pants.

Hanging back in Milly's room, we busied ourselves with three things:

1. The Bible Game. Hotel rooms still have a Bible in the top drawer of every bedside table, and opening the bible at any page and reading out a randomly-chosen passage whilst pretending to have a speech impediment is a reasonably amusing pastime for Girls Who Are Full Of Beer.

2. Cups of Tea. Because we're grownups, and it was free.

3. A Spot of Telly. A confusing 70s war movie wasn't anywhere near as fascinating as the SEVEN racy smut-hotline advertisements shown in every ad-break. Like, seven in a row. I can just imagine a guy dialling enthusiastically after seeing the first one, then hesitating, confused, wondering which phone number will guarantee him the best stiffy.

Once I'd had my fill of gospel, tea and smut, I headed back to my own room and nestled into bed, dreaming of the following day's adventures. And bacon and eggs. But mostly bacon.

Made-Up Word of the Week

seafood pants

misheard underwear made of fish, seaweed, crustaceans, etc.

Origins: Whilst at the pub on Saturday, the ever-shy-and-polite Steve mentioned to Kylie (who was wearing a shortish skirt) that her undies were visible in her current seated position. She immediately rectified the situation, commenting that she should be more careful, as she was wearing "see-through pants". Steve and I both misheard her, thinking she said "seafood pants". As is so often the case, the misheard phrase was far preferable to the actual one, causing a good ten minutes' worth of mirth and insinuations of venereal disease.

"Did you hear? Apparently Miriam has crabs"
"Serves her right. That's what you get for wearing seafood pants".

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bum Shot #6: Julia Morris

Julia Morris gets paid to be funny.
I do it for free.
See? See my funny face? It's that funny thing at the other end of my funny spine from my funny arse.
I'm so funny.