Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happiness at the misfortune of others

The most distressing thing in Vegas was not the rednecks pulling their spawn very young children around the casinos on leashes in the middle of the night. It wasn't the hideous food poisoning I suffered, nor was it being trailed down the street at 1am by a pick-up full of men hollering about the soft parts of my body.

No, the most distressing thing about Vegas was narrowly missing out on this:



Not Le Reve. Not Tryst: An Affair to Remember.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I'M TALKING ABOUT AVENUE Q:


A perceptive, touching and hilarious musical involving Muppet-like puppets, including such numbers as:

"What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?"

"Everyone's a Little Bit Racist"

"The Internet Is For Porn"

and

"Schadenfreude".


G.O.L.D.


Books and Jelly introduced me to the soundtrack some time ago (bless their cotton socks) and while I now know the lyrics to most of the songs I haven't yet seen a pirated video recording, let alone the real thing.

Imagine my glee when I arrived in Vegas late on the first night of my two night stay, only to see the above beacon of hope amidst the sea of gaudy neon signs advertising "$5.99 Prime Rib", "Celine Dion LIVE", and "Hooters! Hooters! Hooters!".

*hugging myself for joy*

*attracting wary glances*

Then, imagine my woe upon discovering that not only I had missed that night's performance but THERE WOULD BE NO PERFORMANCE THE FOLLOWING EVENING.

I haven't felt that sense of crushing disappointment since the age of seven when, also in the USA, my family's planned trip to Sesame Street was cancelled because my cousin contracted chicken pox. Only this time my red-faced, fists-balled, furniture-kicking tantrum sadly did not result in my uncle quietly slipping me a fresh container of Flinstones vitamins (basically crack) and a fifty dollar note.

I considered skipping my non-refundable flight back to LA and booking an Avenue Q ticket for the following evening but then, after consideration of the precious and fast-vanishing time I would lose with my lovely LA host and his two charming canines, I faced the painful truth. No puppets singing about love and porn and mixed-tapes and Gary Coleman. Not for me.

Indulge in schadenfreude if you must. That's what blogs are for, right?

*pits of despair*

Monday, May 29, 2006

George W Bush Speechwriter

Construct a speech for Bush and play it back. Just like the real thing, only you can make the bastard tell you the truth. This will take up great chunks of your valuable time on earth and you will have very little of substance to show for it. But don't let that stop you. Overcome a little of your Bush bitterness with an infantile chuckle or two.

If the site allowed me to be sillier and cruder I would like it even more.

I heart the internet.


***UPDATE***

It occurs that we could use this ingenious little tool to create trouble for G-Dubya and fun for us, in much the same way that nefarious Robert has CRUELLY AND FALSELY INCRIMINATED Izzy in the eyes of her beloved Paul on Neighbours.

Just an idea: leave a message on J-Dubya's message bank. "Hey there, little buddy. Had a bit of a head scratch, and I reckon it's time you threw in that PM game and came on over here to be my full-time little buddy. Whaddya say?"

*Howard resigns as PM*

*scurries to airport*

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Changing the world, one ski-ball table at a time

I went to Las Vegas and doubled my money*.

I also won this:

More importantly, however, I had a moral victory. While wandering through my hotel’s circus/children’s arcade (the appeal of which far outweighed the casino itself) my companions and I came across a gross injustice being perpetrated.

Let me set the scene:
There’s this one particular vintage carnival game in which participants play against each other for a dollar a turn. You each sit down before your own mini ski-ball table and one large ‘camel race’ (a desert scene with 10 wooden camels, each ridden by its own little middle-eastern looking dude) which stretches the length of the whole stall. Each person’s ski-ball table controls a camel, and the higher the ski-ball points you get, the faster your camel ‘races’. First camel to the end wins a prize.

I hadn’t planned on spending money on the games because I wouldn’t be able to fit any prizes in my luggage anyway. But then I spotted a child crying.

And then I spotted what had made the child cry.

One of the contestants at the camel-race stall was a large-boned lady who had settled in for the long haul. She was good at the game and she had a huge pile of soft toys amassing at her feet. She beat everyone who sat down to play against her, including small humans with innocent eyes, high hopes, and poorly developed eye-hand coordination. The strange old carny man running the stall didn’t look too happy about it but this was Vegas and no one turns away money in Vegas.

SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE ABOUT THE SMUG FAT LADY.

Calling on the full-force of my competitive spirit, usually reserved only for air-hockey, Cluedo (Clue), and Frogger, I sat down, gave smug fatty the evil eye, and concentrated fiercely on my ski-ball…

And I lost. But only just.

Fatty could see I was a contender. She started sweating. The strange old carny sensed a turn of the tide. He winked at me. The tear-stained children leaned closer. My companions developed that slightly scared look in their eye that Munkey gets when we play Cluedo.

I slapped another dollar on the table. I emptied my mind. THE ONLY THING IN THE WORLD WAS SKI BALL.

And I beat the bitch.

Bottom lip out, she collected her pile of soft toys and DEPARTED IN SHAME. The children rejoiced. The carny let me choose my own prize. I took a leopard, asked the carny what his name was, and named the leopard 'Larry' after him.

We’ve all got to do our bit to improve the world. Some people volunteer time and money to saving trees or helping brown children; others rush into burning buildings, pick up litter, watch community television, or rescue kittens from trees.

I race wooden camels in Vegas.



* Actual money wagered totaled only US$5.00.

LA Celebrity Sightings: The Good and the Bad/Ugly

I wasn’t really expecting the Holy Grail but I hoped, being LA and all, I would get thrown a little something. With the amount of time Paris and Lindsay spend outside posing for getting hounded by paparazzi, I thought the odds were good.

Instead, my celebrity contact list has ended up looking like a slow night on Rove.


PARTE THE FIRSTE: THE GOOD


I hadn’t been in LA long when I hit the jackpot. I was walking the dogs when a fancy-shmancy black car slowed down near me and stopped by the curb. There was a lot of glare on the window but I could have sworn the driver was Ralph Fiennes.



Yes, “Rafe”. The brooding one. He of the mysterious name, the intelligent wounded eyes, the grave lips. The man who made little Snazzy want to run out and become a grown-up really rather quickly when she saw The English Patient at the age of sixteen.

I was all prepared to coolly greet him as a stranger, yet have that knowing look in my eye that said “I know who you are but I’m in LA now and I’m not about to lose my shit because you’re amazing and talented and you you’re on my Guilt-Free-3 list RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT AND OH MY GOD YOUR LIPS ARE TO DIE FOR”. He would ask me for directions, and I would smile shyly and say that I was a stranger in this city too, and he would laugh and say something droll to set me at ease, and we would try to decipher his street map together, and he would lean rather close and smell very lovely, and even though he usually prefers older women he would make an exception for me, and…

Oh dear. Carried away much?

You get the picture.

Sadly, if it was Ralph in that car behind the glare-obscured glass, I blew my chance to appear urbane and beautiful, yet relaxed and down to earth enough to get up before 10am and walk the dogs.

Because at the time of squinting in the car window I was also squatting down on the grass, in the process of scooping up a fresh dog turd. A big one. A smelly one.

And the plastic bag I was using had a hole in it.

The moment the mysterious Rafe-like driver rolled down his window and got a good look at me and what I was doing, he promptly changed his mind. He drove away and out of my life forever.


PARTE THE SECONDE: THE BAD/UGLY

Before I left home, magician/alleged comedian The Amazing Jonathan was doing a show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. This barely registered on my radar because his ads in the paper were always placed next to a photo of Joan Rivers. And who, for the love of God, can be expected to tear their eyes away from THIS:



While here in LA, I spotted The Amazing Jonathan in the car park of a supermarket. Joan Rivers wasn’t there so he captured my attention. He was wearing his signature black head band and it made me wonder - not for the first time - what it is he’s hiding under there. A third eye? The mark of the devil? Really bad acne that no amount of professional-level magic will do away with?



Then, when lining up for my flight to Las Vegas, The Amazing Jonathan (and headband) GOT IN LINE THREE PEOPLE BEHIND ME.

At that moment it became painfully clear to me that I am being stalked by a loud, plus-size magician with beady eyes, and a headband that covers a tattoo bearing my name.

If you’re about to tell me that I have an over-active, twisted imagination and that it’s entirely possible The Amazing Jonathan lives in LA, and that this month he was just coincidentally performing in both Melbourne and (admittedly, his usual haunt) Vegas because he is an international performer who travels a lot, well SHUSH because you’re spoiling my story of self-pity.

I spent the short but interminable flight to Vegas wondering why – if I must have a celebrity stalker – it had to be a beady-eyed man with dwindling notoriety who drinks window cleaner on stage for a living.

And why, oh why, did I need to have dog shit on my hands when a-man-who-was-quite-possibly-Ralph-Fiennes stopped for directions?

*weeps*

P.S. Can somebody who has been living in Melbourne please tell me what the hell is with Joan Rivers and the penguins?



Why is she so keen on protecting their natural environment when she herself so clearly shuns all things that are natural? The whole affair frightens me. Perhaps this is prescisely why The Phillip Island Penguin Foundation asked Ms Rivers to be their ambassador. They’re counting on people instinctively wanting to protect the poor little things from THOSE EYES and THOSE NAILS and THOSE TEETH. Here is my credit card number! Quickly! Help the flightless birds! For the love of God, they can’t waddle fast enough to save themselves!

Friday, May 26, 2006

When my womb skips a beat

Apologies for this post go out to anyone who isn't a total freakin lame-o softie.



If you are a lame-o softie or a lame-o softie-sympathiser however, and you haven't already seen this YouTube clip (found on the marvellous Neatorama), check it out and prepare to go "awwwwwwww...".

Why is it that small animals behaving in an unusual and adorable manner have a direct line to my womb and baby/happy making hormones? Is it just me or did this clip make other women of child-bearing age smile in a dreamy fashion and think, "Wow, it's about time I helped out the government and my nation by squeezing out at least two sprogs. And soon.". I had a similar reaction when seeing this photo of the so-yummy-I-might-eat-her-when-I-finally-meet-her Rita on the blog of the ever sassy Books.

WHY IS THIS? Shouldn't it only be the young OF MY OWN SPECIES that have this effect on me, or is the female body hardwired to want to nurture all small, defenceless and somewhat idiotic creatures that come into its orbit?

I should close by saying that I know many lovely lame-o softie women who don't have the sprog-making urges and perhaps never will. Lucky them, perhaps. My womb is a force to be reckoned with, and frequently makes me behave in an embarrassing and counter-productive manner both in relationships and on the street when I see a child, a puppy, or the strong broad shoulders of a man I don't know, and can suddenly think of nothing else but furthering the species. And soon.

Lordy, I need help.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Carrion, Chubs and Suckers

Today I leave my base in L.A. to head to Las Vegas for a couple of nights.



I will be staying in a hotel called CircusCircus. Keeping in mind that I’m going to Vegas seeking a high kitsch, over-the-top experience this is a promising name, no?

The hotel includes:

- The world’s largest permanent circus;

- An electronic arcade;

- Three casinos (in case you get kicked out of the first two?);

- Three swimming pools (again, it begs the question...);

- 2,200 slot machines (oh dear, am suddenly reminded that some years ago I protested the opening of the Melbourne Crown Casino*);

- The Adventure Dome (five acres of adventure theme park);

- "Over eight restaurants"**;

- Twenty stores;

- An RV park (I sense some classic people-watching coming on);

And,

- A wedding chapel, which I may visit but not utilise. Not even for a good story.


I will also visit the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. I’m quite sure it won’t be as spectacular as CircusCircus, but it will be nice for a bit of contrast and fresh air. Ahem.



The Grand Canyon includes:

- Millions of years of geological history on display, thanks to spectacular erosion caused by the Colorado River and the shifting of the Colorado Plateau;

- 446 km of canyon, up to 29 kilometers wide, and 1,600 metres deep;

- Mountain lions and coyote;

- Condors and Golden Eagles (which Carrion Laughing will pay due homage to, of course);

- Rattlesnakes (which I had a nightmare about last night, *shudder*);

- Fish with the rather intriguing names of the humpback chub and the humpback sucker (I suspect I might find chubs and suckers in Vegas too)

And,

- Whitewater rafting, which I may watch but not participate in. My medical insurance won’t allow it. Not even for a good story.


Photos and tawdry tales when I get back. I promise.


* I will sidestep inevitable charges of hypocrisy here by stating that I would never stay at or support a casino in my own country. Besides, I am entering Vegas in the mode of Jane Goodall, taking notes on human and barely-human behavior. Also, I like the circus.
** One wonders what “over eight” means. Which sad excuse for a restaurant makes it to 8 ½ but not really nine? And will it be immediately clear to me which eating establishment doesn’t make the grade?

Notes from an audience member who cares

Re: The Da Vinci Code




Yes, Mr Hanks, there’s something innately likeable and avuncular about you, but did you at any point consider imbuing your character in this film with a personality? Let me know if I should blame Richie Cunningham, Akiva Goldsman or Dan Brown for that. Also: don’t you think Audrey Tautou is hot? Did you consider maybe trying to develop a little bit of sexual tension with her so that there was something for me to enjoy when I was not ABSOLUTELY FACINATED by exposition about the Knights Templar? She was really putting it out there for you but you seemed more interested in Looking Earnest. Top job on the earnest thing by the way. You’ve got the market cornered. But you really should have had the horn for that Sophie chick. You know that really crucial bit at the start of the film when Sophie tells Langdon (an apparently sensible, stable and totally guilt-free good guy) to go on the run from the cops, and he ACTUALLY DOES IT WITHOUT MUCH EVIDENCE OR PAUSE FOR THOUGHT. Well, that would have been more believable if, when Langdon had first clapped eyes on Sophie, it had seemed that he was thinking “My oh my, that little cheese-eating minx in the sensible skirt is making me feel hot in my pants and I suspect I will do whatever she tells me to”. Instead, you just looked kinda earnest. And boring. Yet strangely likeable and avuncular.



You deserve a better film, sweet pea. I apologise for writing you off after this nonsense. Turns out you can do much more than simper, look skyward, and open your eyes real wide whilst biting lightly down on your bottom lip. Good for you. And I don’t know what Mr Hanks’ problem was either. You’re seriously hot stuff.





Well, at least you were having fun. There was a strong whiff of ham about you but I felt this distracted pleasantly from the overcooked potatoes of Mr Hanks. I don’t know how you pulled off some of the lines they gave you whilst maintaining a serious expression. For example: “We are in the middle of a war. One that has been going on forever to protect a secret so powerful that if revealed it would devastate the very foundations of mankind.” I’ve noticed that when you get a gnarly line like that you just open up the throttle on those patented twinkly eyes of yours. And it works. *applause*



You both suck and blow, Sir. Good day to you.













Snore. Mr Goldsman, the fact that you were adapting from an overrated potboiler is no excuse. By definition, a Thriller should be thrilling. That goes for you too, Richie. You could have pulled Mr Hanks aside and said, “I think you really need to look scared here. Not earnest. Scared. Forget about all that confusing Templar stuff we talked about, there’s a crazed homocial albino who thinks he’s on a mission from God, and he… Um, hang on, Oscar-Winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman? What is it that the crazed albino is trying to do again? I know he’s creepy and scary because he’s all white and weird and stare-y, and he’s got that icky, hurty belt thingy on his leg, but does he actually pose a tangible threat to our protagonist in the first hour of the film?"

-- -- --

"Huh. Well, Tom. Never mind about the crazed albino. I think the audience will feel that the plot is thrilling if you just look scared occasionally.”




Also, Richie, while I’ve got your attention. Desire. Romance. SEX! Maybe you were trying to be considerate and politically correct by not mixing Jesus and sex, but I didn't expect an all-out skin fest, or even a lingering kiss. All I wanted was some sexual tension, resolved or otherwise, between your two main characters. When two characters the audience is supposed to care about start making the eyes at each other they immediately become more interesting. Even if they never lock lips we know that they care what happens to each other, and we instantly care a little more about what happens to them. Remember how it worked with Joanie and Chachi?




Now, I know Sophie and Langdon weren’t explicitly trying to touch each other’s soft bits in the novel but the subtext was certainly there and it added to the stakes. You almost entirely overlooked it. It seems odd that while you were trying to sell the concept that Jesus was a mortal man who got hot in his robes for the ladies, you actually bypassed sex and romance in your own plot entirely. You wanted your audience to believe that before he got strung up Jesus had the horn for Maggers, that they got to know each other in the biblical sense, and that they begat Maggers Jnr. A shocking concept for some but it is undoubtedly all about the simple, human, and undeniably universal concept of SEX. It’s hot. It’s intriguing. It shocks and/or delights people. It’s partly why the book sold over 8 million copies. YOU COULD HAVE CAPITALISED ON THIS. No need to actually show Jesus getting hot under the collar, as that perhaps would have shocked the mainstream, church-going public (just ask Scorsese) but, like Dan Brown did, you could have simply alluded to the Jesus-sex whilst letting the audience invest in the far-more-acceptable sexual tension between Sophie and Langdon.

Thus ends my sermon.


Oh, and P.S.:



*sigh*



I reckon I could put some colour in your cheeks, boyo.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Johnny Makes Funny. Again.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has reignited speculation on John Howard's future by predicting that the Prime Minister will retire "at the top of his form".

"Much better to go out that way than like Margaret Thatcher or losing an election."
The Age, Michael Gordon, May 18, 2006







What a clever chap! I would very much like to lick his bottom!









*approves*











The Australian public love and support John Howard. Which is to say, of course, that I love and support John Howard.









You have disappointed me, Jeff.












Prime Minister! My Lord, I failed you recently but I swear that I am a dutiful Death Eater - uh - I mean…loyal Party Member.








What? Who? A party? I thought we were doin’ this "addressing the nation" dohicky. Ain’t that what we’re doin’?












Prime Minister, isn’t there anything I can to make it up to you? I still have Ginger’s number from that time I met the Spice Girls.






*collective shudder*








Shush now, I am busy Being Important with George.
















So this is still a rehearsal, right? That's what we’re doin’? Cuz I’m ready for the cameras this time. I am. Bring. It. On.












*sigh* Isn’t he lovely?













Which? Where now?













Put 'em up! Which one of you first? I can fight you both together if you want!










Everyone knows I could take you down fatty.










I can fight you with one paw tied behind my back!









Oh please. Anyhoo, did everyone hear me say that Mr Murdoch is a very clever and important man?









*approves*












I can fight you standing on one foot! I can fight you with my eyes closed! Ruff!












*blinks*











Oh, Peter?













Fuck off and die, you gammy little turd.











What was that, Peter?














Nothing, Prime Minister.











Look, just wanted to let you know… It’s yours.















What is?










The job. No one likes a public comparison to the Iron Lady. Not these days.














I don’t know what to say! This is just so unexpected!











I’m thinking an elegant handover in December. After Thanksgiving with George.














*glee*










Before you go Peter…














Yes, Prime Minster. Anything, Prime Minister.












*sniggers*














What’s so funny, Prime Minister?












I was joking. Jesting. Pulling your leg. And you believed me. AGAIN.















Deep breaths, Petey. Don’t. Cry. Don’t. Cry.










Did you see what I did there George?













One day soon they’re going to find kiddy pornography on his personal computer and it will all be over.










Did you see Peter’s face? Did you? Did you see it? HE WAS GOING TO CRY.














What? Immigration? Yes. A very important issue. Ahem. Border control. Employment crisis. Yes.














I was funny, huh?















Wait, funny? You want me to do funny this time? Cuz I got some swell jokes.















Ha ha! Good one! Very funny, Mr President! Excellent timing!














I ain’t made with the funny yet, little buddy. But here it comes: What are the most useless kind of cans we have in America?












I don’t know Mr President. What are the most useless kind of cans you have in America?














Mexi-CANS! Geddit, little buddy?















Ha ha! Do I! I think I even peed a little bit, Mr President!













Let me clean that up for you, My Lord.









I haven't forgiven you yet.















What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?











Don't. Cry. Concentrate on the kiddy porn.










*approves*