Monday, March 29, 2010

Australia, why the bloody hell would you?

When did we become such a bunch of nannies? There is something about the culture of the Australian press that can't wait to front up to an invited guest in our country and either insult their intelligence or force them to make an opinion about Australia knowing that their experience of Australian hospitality so far doesn't go much beyond a moist toilette after takeoff. Our history of insulting overseas celebrities is bountiful. Even as far back as 1974 where Frank Sinatra made a crack about the press only to be made public enemy number one including a union boycott of aircraft and hotel services. We basically chased one of the world's most famous entertainers out of the country. We charged visiting Sylvester Stallone after going through his bags and finding body building growth hormones (what, you thought he just ate up all his greens?) and now we arrest one of the world's elite racing drivers for spinning his wheels. Let's all have a bit of a lie down right now. Nanny syndrome has taken over this country. Let's not invite any more famous people to Australia because we just can't cope. And as for the anti fun police, the 'they are supposed to be setting a good example' brigade, I don't recall any of these people after having excelled in their field announcing, "oh and by the way I am now a moral compass for civilisation when I go to Australia". So the next time some little Aussie overseas backpacker complains about the corrupt border guard demanding 500 pesos for a shoe lace tax because he is a rich western kid who has it all, I will be reminded of how we treat our own visiting rich kids.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fear of Finger Food

Having been invited recently to a sporting event (oh fantastic!) under the promise of free food and booze by my work superiors I had no choice but to trundle along. I was advised that this social event would be at a large stadium and lunch would be served in a box. A corporate box. I soon learn that this box they refer to is a room where companies host little civilised soirees whilst young angry men run around below on the grass with a ball and punch each other. Upon arrival, freshly made coffees are provided by a freshly produced service attendant followed by champagne and canapes. The shiny glass canape tray comes around several times with miniature versions of adult food that look like they have been prepared by Barbie herself. Tiny weenie sandwiches and dwarfed puff pastries circle the room along with the standard introductions. As the food continues to appear from the kitchen the dishes become more and more intricate as we wrestle with glass in one hand and mini rack of lamb in the other. The trouble with eating standing up is that, well basically it's almost impossible without a paperbag. As you work hard on your delivery of amusing but informative banter meanwhile juggling the peking duck pancake without spilling hoisin sauce down your smart but casual shirt front you are becoming more and more conscious that the spring onion garnish is firmly lodged between your two front teeth. Finger food is man's food. They have the ability or lack of inhibition to wolf it down in one go without so much as a flake of choux escaping south. Me, no matter how tightly it's wrapped, rolled or skewered it will launch itself from my mouth like shortcrust confetti. So I end up making my food selections based on portability. Will the mini hamburger hold up under 2 bites or will it collapse and catapult onto my CEO's Van Heusen? I recall a seminar a few years back when I was lucky enough to be having an in depth conversation with the guest speaker when I tipped my entire glass of orange juice all over her hand. I was so mortified I couldn't speak and just stood there looking at her. She was gracious enough make a joke and reach for a napkin then politely found a reason to walk away since no apology was forthcoming from this woman just standing there, mouth open and empty glass. Perhaps I should research my invites a little further and investigate if in fact there is food and seating provided. Failing that I could bring along my own stable table, that might work!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Air New Zooland

It appears that grooming standards are back in vogue according to today's online Age newspaper which printed the New Zealand Airline's do's and don'ts of being a flight attendant. In reference to the female trolley pushers they say "always pluck the hair between the brows", and that "blending is the key to natural looking make-up". Unacceptable is "too much make-up, no make-up, blue or pink eyeshadow, bright red, pink, purple or orange lipstick, unnatural looking tans, scaly hands and smelly breath. Unacceptable in the hair department are fringes that conceal eyebrows, excessive frosting, obvious hair extensions, towelling elastic bands or bands with a metal joint". I'm ok with most of this but the frosting bit has me puzzled. It's either too much icing or you've stuck your head in the freezer too long looking for the vodka.

The male trolley pusher is told about daily skin cleansing and "to keep it looking its best" and to "clean-shave neck hair". Pilots can't have beards (for safety reasons, apparently) and goatees must be trimmed 1.5cm past the corner of the mouth. Lips must be clearly visible. Ear and nose hair must be trimmed but in a concession to modern fashion, men are allowed to wear one solid bangle – though not earrings. Just hold your packet of peanuts there my friend...did they just say shave neck hair? On the subject of shaving I note the latest trend in men of facial hair growing years that one appears at all formal events with an unshaven look. I hate it. It's like staring at pubic hair on someone's face. I can only imagine that the remnants of last night's beef vindaloo are lodged in there somewhere. When I can walk around with stubble on my legs then we'll call it quits.

Maybe it's time that similar standards were set in writing for the female office worker. Short shorts skirts only draw attention to legs that have failed on most fronts and please, please, please don't come to work wearing low cut tops. Put them away or don't complain when nobody is listening to you. The last thing I want are your kahunas flopping into my in-tray.

So yes, I do hope grooming standards have returned, because at the moment we are scaring children and small dogs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's all in the cards, just swipe here.

A friend of mine recently went to see a clairvoyant and with a reasonable offering of scepticism she came away thinking some things spoken by madame fortune teller were uncanny. I am more than a sceptic when it comes to reading fortunes. I'm afraid the only cards I believe in are my credit cards. For some reason it's women more than men who are keen to learn of the mysteries of what lies ahead. I think men are just happy coping with the present. I know if I went along to Mystical Meg or whatever her name is she would tell me that she foresees travel in my future. Now she could mean I am heading for adventures across many countries or she could mean the mysteries of a Westfield carpark. Knowing me I would forget all about it, go and book a trip and then a week later go "Whoa!". My friend said the fortune teller spoke of someone dear to her who has passed on. So far we probably all could put our hands up with a candidate here. Then she said this person felt much comfort from their funeral. Knowing the person who has passed on he would more likely have criticised the funeral saying that the beer was warm and the sandwiches were crappy. And why would he speak to a total stranger about this anyway when he could speak to his wife? Are deceased husbands still looking at other women? I'd just be happy if the cards would tell me what to wear in the morning. I've got no time to speak to the undead. Can they send me an email?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Toilet Humour

The Myer ladies loo's ... small but arty!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Women of the Silver Screen or just pretty frosting

After a week of too many long hours at work caused by the 'fill in a form or perish' jihadists that now seem to have infiltrated many workplaces, I was glad when Friday night finally came around. I slumped on the couch after a pasta supper and glass of cold Sancerre ready to wade into some light entertainment to see out the evening. Avoiding the compulsory Friday night forensic and sci-fi alien with the made for tv el'cheapo special effects, I find myself in front of what is now known as the 'rom-com'. Romulus with his own web page would be more thought provoking but alas the Hollywood template of romantic comedy was the menu for the night. The movie was called Vacation and I believe it was in the cinemas about 2 years ago. Like a vacation from hell this was a movie from hell. Sitting through this movie was like having to sit through a slide show of your neighbour's cruise to Pongo Pongo where they all dressed up in grass skirts for the fancy dress night, what a hoot!! I have no idea of what Cameron Diaz is like in real life but the character she played in this movie was a interesting as a cotton tip. She was forever flopping around displaying all the intelligence of a biscuit tin whilst expecting us to believe she was a successful Hollywood producer (we think). She meets the Jude Law character and within 4 minutes has decided that she would go to bed with him, we assume this but we see no evidence of it and clearly the budget was not big enough for a bedroom scene or it was spent on her hairdresser instead. Unfortunately this format is all too readily available and I could probably name about 3 of them at the cinemas right now with their watery plot lines and some chick with floppy blond hair and a guy was starts out not liking her, gets to like her they break up and they get back together, can I go now? Hollywood continues to serve up this mass produced movie extender as we see the role of women being reduced to not much more significance than a cup cake with pink icing. Come on tinsel town, give us some woman with substance, what are you scared or something?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Driving Miss Crazy

There are some days that eating chocolate before dinner is simply a must. Days of all things going bad, days of premenstrual or pre-murderous, days of everyone in my workplace is a complete fuckface and I no longer care if my arse causes an eclipse of the sun. So today whilst driving home from the not so super supermarket, I reclaimed the joys of being multi dexterous and careened around the streets whilst stuffing a dark chocolate KitKat down my face, and down my shirt and down the side of the seat. Driving whilst eating takes skill. Once one has mastered the talents of a competent driver one must also learn the ability to a) light a cigarette without taking your eyes of the road; b) rummage through handbag looking for sunglasses without driving right over the cupie doll on the Vespa and c) find the right (moment) radio station without rearending the ute up front that probably wouldn't notice anyway. When I first learned to drive, there was no auto select radio tuner in my car. The only optional extra was a gramophone strapped to the roof or the church choir in the boot for sub woofer effect. I took my ghetto blaster in the car with me so I could share the tunes of the Damned or the Cramps with all of Melbourne but it took skills to select the cassette, insert and fast forward to the right song, change gears, light up a fag, wind down the window (handle remember) and cruise the city streets without collecting any major lighting fixture at the same time. Fortunately these days cars don't require you to BYO music and as for my selections these days they are more likely to be singing about Insurance than singing about the undead (same thing really). So, where was I? Oh yes, eating chocolate and driving. Should be included in every driving test. Let's see them get their C plates before those green P things.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Five Courses + Fashion = Fat Saturday

Today was about food and indulgence. A Foodies' & Fashionistas' Lunch in Prahran provided a reminder of some of the great festivals in this city that pop up from time to time. Sealed in under a catwalk length marquee, plate after plate came out to feed us hungry fashionista crowds. As we sat and scoffed our way through 5 courses of pate, prawn, pork, beef and desert fortunately all on separate plates, we watched those whom are very tall dressed in winter collections strut past our tables of plenty. I've attached the prawn as my memorabilia photo as it was the one course that I did not have. I am one of those poor sods who is allergic to shellfish. Having decided it was better to lose out on a course than break out in welts I enjoyed the break in eating. I used to criticise vegetarians, scoff at celiacs and thought gluten free was an excuse to get something for nothing. Having developed an allergy later in life the difficulties range from tedious when everyone in the room screams "YumCha" to just merely embarrassing. I once had lunch with a girlfriend at a Chinese restaurant who is a native Chinese speaker and quietly told her of my condition to which she asked the waiter to go back in the kitchen and pick out every tiny prawn out of the special fried rice, so it was not longer special at all. I have had airline staff tell me off for not putting through a special request prior to flying on her plane and it was my fault then that the beef ran out and all that was left was prawn surprise. But enough on crustaceans for one day, I enjoyed my lunch of food indulgence and fashion, although after watching beautiful mast like beings strut passed my table, I really wish I had have passed on that last profiterole too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Come on baby do the locomotion

There is something exciting about train travel. I don't mean being door sliced in to the 7:45am with your face wedged into the back of someone's head hanging on for dear life wishing that the arm pit you keep inhaling didn't have quite such personality, I mean travel by any means other than aeroplane. So I was thrilled to read that China is planning to build a fast train to Europe. In today's Age newspaper "the journey from London to Beijing by rail could take just two days under a Chinese plan to build an international network for trains that can travel almost as fast as aircraft." And knowing the Chinese I suspect they will have it finished by Friday and there will be an iphone app with timetables by Sunday. You wouldn't have had time to go a second round on the yum cha trolley and you would be coming into St Pancras Station.

Why can't we have fast trains in Australia? Not long ago I read a proposed fast train service to cater for regional areas of Melbourne that would go almost 80kms an hour. I had a Ford Cortina in 1982 that could have got there faster than that. "The chief executive of the Australasian Railway Association, Bryan Nye, said Australia already had the market for Asian-style high-speed rail, especially in the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor. He said China recently tested a train at 380 km/h and had made a 1000-kilometre journey in two hours 50 minutes.
''If we could get a Sydney-Melbourne trip to three hours, or just under, it would be worthwhile and competitive,'' he said. It would be a fucking miracle given that we can't even get to work by train. Pass the wontons before they get cold.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The night of nights that leaves me sleepy

Another Academy Awards ceremony pulls the curtain closed for another year. I imagine they swing into party mode pretty soon after having sat through hour after hour of thank you's to God, to the person behind their film who put up a truck load of dosh and to the winner's partner who in Hollywood terms is likely to change by the end of the first commercial break. Trends are set on Oscar nights, beards are in and strapless dresses are obligatory regardless of how much your bare arms look like grissini in a shiny serviette. Heart wrenching movies are always given extra attention ie., single mum, homeless dad, a soldier's story and this year...the fat girl. The animators and computer geeks take up more and more seats each year and the award snatchers are getting younger and thinner. The red carpet promotions display a rattle of malnourished, post surgery clones coiled up in expensive cloth and all with identical teeth. In this era of self select and interactivity, the awards ceremonies are leaving us left with a feeling that we weren't even consulted. They hand out their honours and we are left feeling that the glamour has gone, the movies are often predictable and the speeches are so bad even the actors can't hold back the tears.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ticked off not tee'd off

Why do they persist on saying "hail stones as big as golf balls"? Yes, we had a hail storm and yes the pieces of hail that fell were very big indeed but please come up with at least one other description if at all possible. "Hail stones were found in parts of the city as big as bull's testicles..." hail the size of ping pong or squash balls, heads of broccoli, or avocado stones take your pick. A bit like gale force winds always lash instead of blow and roads are in chaos not just slow moving traffic. There must be a folder containing scripts in every newsreaders office titled Storms - a newsreader's guide. Imagine if one day the storm hit and the folder was not to be found. "It rained a lot today and a lot of people got wet and it was windy and that caused a lot of .... windy weather".

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Grand Scone Maker

So tell me why a group of men in aprons who have over done the jewellery have reason to be called a secret society? Freemasonry, being not the reverse of incarcerating those working with stone has come into the media pages today to dispel myth, so they say in today's Age. "We've carried as if we've had something to hide ... We are not a secret society, but we are a society with secrets." Sounds very desperate housewives to me but hey don't let me throw pooh on the grand, you know what, bah. According to the Grand Master who claims "non-Freemasons are being allowed to attend "parts of our ceremonies", there are other aspects of Freemason creed which make recruitment difficult. Women are banned from membership. They are still allowed to serve the "supper" at some of the Lodge meetings, but full membership? No. This club is strictly for men. Further, to be admitted you have to believe in God, or at least a "supreme being".

Gee, where do I sign up, although I think you've lost everyone on the supreme being thing because you know we are all thinking you believe in martians right now and that's a bit weird on top of your already weird stuff isn't it? Given that the average demographic of this group probably sits somewhere between 70 and death what they need is a complete makeover. Throw away those dusty old skulls and fake wine goblets and bring in a few vases of flowers, a call centre and a facebook page if you need mates. Or if you want to stick to the old ways and keep wearing the pinny, why not have some male ceremonial scone making? Just watch those funny handshakes, they may get a little floury.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One day this will be a reality

I'm not very good at predicting things. Actually, I take that back. I'm really crap at it. It's a family tradition, a bit like my father telling me in the 1970's on a visit to one of the first McDonald's in the country, that the food was based on adult tastes and it would never catch on. Similar to this I predicted that mobile phones were a passing fad, manners would one day return to everyday life and more recently that Twitter and Facebook being only for the teenage generation would die a speedy and penniless death like the Olsen Twins (got that wrong too). Twitter and Facebook references are everywhere. When you log onto your health insurance website, it says "follow us on Twitter". WHY? And as if that's not bad enough, your bank has a facebook page. You can't speak to a bank manager in person but you can become one of his or her "friends". When business tries to muscle in on the cool then it all goes horribly wrong. A bit like, television was cool until the TAC got hold of it? It's like being at a really cool place and a school group turn up. So no I don't want to twitter my dental extras or befriend a corporation, I'm going to ignore them. And then they will go away. That's another prediction.