Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Better than Oysters: Updating Status Reports

Chicago, IL – For Richard Ditke, a lifetime ‘3’ consultant, time stood still for a moment last Tuesday in the over-crowded 15th floor windowless office of an un-named Midwest P&C Insurance company. His five-person project team were low on resources, with the Project Manager and two of the senior consultants responsible for running current state workshops and a consultant on PTO. This left Richard’s Project Manager with very little choice, and it was with a slight hesitation in his voice that Richard heard those magic words.

“Richard, I need you to update this week’s status report while we’re all running the workshop”

After weeks of trying to make himself stand out, by interjecting with what he thought were smart comments in weekly meetings, it came as no surprise to Richard to find himself in such a puissant position. What he didn’t expect, however, was the moment of slight embarrassment that followed thereafter, with an unexpected visitor arriving in the form of a bulge in his pants.

Dr Trevor Smithson, from the University of Chicago, has been a leading researcher into Inflated Ego Erectile Dysfunction (IEED) for the past 15 years and he has noticed a disturbing trend.

“Over the past 15 years, we have seen rates of IEED rise, much like a teenager at his first prom night, causing embarrassment in offices nationwide,” explains Dr Smithson. “However my research shows there are two other related trends that should be a basis of much concern.”

Higher incidence in IEED appears to have a direct relationship with the growth in MBA programs. Disturbingly, this suggests that individuals are not embarking on MBA programs to further their education, or even their career prospects. Dr Smithson believes his research “suggests that MBA programs tend to attract a certain type of student, who is more likely to be in love with themselves than the average post-graduate student”

Additionally, Dr Smithson believes that there is an inverse correlation between the rate of increase in IEED and the level of quality of output from consulting firms.

“Over the past 15 years, perceived output of consulting firms has increased, with consultants working more and more hours in the office. However, this has not been matched in terms of either quality, or even quantity, of real output. Most of the difference can be attributed to face time”

Dr Lenny Withers, a psychologist from Wisconsin Psychotherapy Institute, takes the argument one step further.

“What we’re seeing here is not mere face time, it is an extrapolation of the need to feel important by being seen by one’s peers to be important. The best expression of importance is the amount of time one is either at work, or talking about work. It is therefore a small step from considering one’s own belief in one’s self-importance, to loving one’s self-importance.”

“When we say we’re seeing an epidemic of IEED, what we’re really seeing is an epidemic of self-love.”

None of this matters to Richard Ditke, however. When asked how he felt updating his first status report, he exclaimed “Amazing! This is the ultimate aphrodisiac!”, as he struggled to cross one leg over the other

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nouveau Bogans

Etymology - the study of the history of words and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

Does anyone know the etymology of the word "etymology"? I think originally from a German word meaning "Spanish Onion" ... anyways, that's not important right now, because there's something I've been meaning to do for a very long time ...

For a while now, I've been meaning to understand Bogans. You know, those stereotypes who are perceived to be unsophisticated, with speech and mannerisms that are considered to denote poor education and uncultured upbringing. The kinds of people who include drinking beer, smoking, religiously following sport and having an interest in Australian-build cars (eg. Holdens, Fords etc.) and Aussie rock music as their hobbies.

Of course, this description of who is and isn't a Bogan describes pretty much everyone I know... and the most educated / cultured people I know fit into that category better than anyone else.

Bogans have fascinated me in recent times and, with all this fuss around Michael Clarke and Lara Bingle, I believe there needs to be more investment in Bogan studies, because only then can we start figuring out ways to stop them once and for all. My task: to create a series of Bogan Hypotheses that would enable society to understand and destroy Bogans.

Perhaps if we discover the etymology of the word, we'll start to understand where bogans come from?

Google "etymology bogan" and you'll get 14,400 hits. Wikipaedia, the source of all truth when truth is redefined as "a close enough guess" suggests that the word bogan dates back to Australian literature circa 1900 and that it may or may not come from the Bogan River. Banjo Patterson used the word to describe something of poor or little quality.

Bloody enlightening, this etymology business... I can see how etymologists get paid the big bucks... we're obviously going to need to do a bit more investigating, but to effectively research Bogans, I would need a representitive sample size, and there's only one place where I was going to be able to find enough Bogans...

The Big Day Out.

The metaphorical Bogan's den. Mecca for Bogans.

And given, for the purposes of research, that there were no car races, monster truck extravaganzas or rugby league games in January, the Big Day Out would have to do.

Bogans operate very well in their natural environments, but not so well when placed into non-Bogan situations. This is why Bogans tend to congregate in places frequented by other Bogans and the Big Day Out is like the Olympics for Bogans, where the best of the best attempt to outdo each other to gain the title of Bogan Champion of the World.

It has also been observed that Bogans don't like it when placed into non-Bogan environments alone, but are happy to congregate with other Bogans in non-Bogan environments. Over time, the Bogan congregations will learn to adapt the non-Bogan environment to suit them. It explains why traditional Spanish festivals such as Running of the Bulls or La Tomantina are now frequented by more Bogans than Spaniards. It explains why a case of VB would not look out of place at Oktoberfest. It explains Lagos. It explains Ios. It explains Bali. It explains Phuket.

Hypothesis 1 - The Bogan is a highly adaptive creature, capable of evolving its environment to suit itself. (call this the Shtinetime Adaptive Bogan Theory)

So, back to the Big Day Out and this researching Bogan-hunter. What was I meant to look for?

The stereotypical Bogan brings to mind mullets, flannel shirts, King Gee stubbie shorts, trackpants, yet this Big Day Out had none of these. Not an AFL beanie in sight. Moccasins on no-one.

Obviosuly, this Bogan stereotype is a highly dated concept, bannished to the 1980s.

Which didn't really help me, if I couldn't figure out what I was meant to be looking for.

"Such is Life"

It was then I had a flashback. Big Day Out 2005. Racial tensions between Aussies (white people) and Men of Middle Eastern Appearance (MOMEAs). I remembered the organisers deciding that they didn’t want people appearing with Australian flags, because they were said to incite racial violence. The theory being – ban the flag, prevent the incitement which would otherwise have been small in comparison to the nationalistic fervour incited when news of the ban arose.

These white people - they must have been bogans! The ones who ensured there were more flags than people at the Big Day Out. All i needed to do was find white people with Australian flags - surely then I would find the bogans I was looking for!

Yet there was not a flag in sight. Not even a shoulderblade or an ankle tattooed with the Southern Cross out of ritual nationalistic fervour on a working holiday to the UK. Not even one done on a Contiki tour.

What happened to all these 2005 vintage bogans? Where are they now? In jail? Married with kids? CEOs of investment banks? (All of the above?).

"Such is Life"

Yet, there exists a fatal flaw in the Shtinetime Adaptive Bogan Theory.

If Bogans adapt, then that explains why I can't see any flannel shirts. However it DOESN'T explain why flannel shirts are still sold at Lowes. Someone must buy them - surely Bogans!

Hypothesis 2 - The Bogan adapts and moves on, but is replaced by new Bogans who take their place.

This would explain why I saw no flannels, yet flannels continue to be sold. But it doesn't explain what happened to all the Bogans of yesteryear.

"Such is Life"

Hypothesis 3 - The Bogan is a photosynthetic creature

Just like plants use the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen in the process of staying alive, the Bogan reacts to the energy from the public spotlight to convert attention from other Bogans into memorable careers on reality TV shows and appearances in the Sunday gossip pages.

However, a combination of overexposure to too much spotlight short-circuits the conversion mechanism and while the Bogan will continue their Bogan behaviour, they are unable to do it under the glare of too much spotlight.

Ok, so now we understand that Bogans adapt and are forced to move out of the spotlight due to overexposure. But still, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be looking for.

"Such is Life"

Why do I keep having the words "Such is Life" running through my subconscious?

And then it dawned on me. I was at the Big Day Out. All I had to do was open my eyes - they were everywhere. By definition, I was surrounded by Bogans... covered in weird tattoos...

Nouveau Bogans

The Bogans at the Big Day Out still have tattoos, just not the Southern Cross tattoo. Instead they get tattoos of expressions written in cursive handwriting. "Such is Life", "My Brother's Keeper" and "Carpe Diem". They also get highly decorative tribal markings, often located on the shoulder or the lower back.

But the nouveau Bogan extends far beyond choice of tattoo or choice of clothing (I believe it's leopard skin print at the moment).

I realised that a fundamental shift had occured. The Bogan of today has metamorphosised into an all-encompasing creature. You can't just describe it in terms of hobby or dress sense, it is a complete all-encompassing lifestyle choice. The bogan of today is a Nouveau Bogan

Nouveau Bogans are more than just Bogans. They are members of a religion and its name is Boganism and their Lord is the lowest common denominator. Boganism is a habit. It's a lifestyle. It's a rite of passage.

Boganism is the books you don't read, the movies you don't watch and the important things going on all around you that you have no idea about. Boganism is a choice to not choose reality, because reality TV is way more interesting.

It's the places you go because you know other Bogans who've been there. It's the pursuit of vacuousness because other Bogans place importance on irrelevance.

Does the spread of Boganism explain why newspapers today now represent gossip columns? Why a visit to the Sydney Morning Herald's online website can sometimes be confused with Perez Hilton's?

Is it a coincidence that the proliferation of Boganism has coincided with the spread of budget airlines, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube?

Budget airlines have given Bogans the ability to stretch their wings to Bali and Phuket with other Bogans, effectively exporting Boganism to other places whilst retaining a facade of culture. Twitter and Facebook have provided a platform for Boganism to spread itself, creating millions of generic Bogan spawn And Youtube has given Bogans the ammunition and social spread to ensure that no Bogan exploit goes unnoticed.

Are these symptoms? Causes?

Is anyone still reading this?

Never mind... I'm pretty sure Australian Idol is about to start.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Krazy Korean Kulture

First Impressions ...

You know you're in Asia when the name of the suburb you need to remember is called Gangnam-gu, but nowhere in the pronunciation does the letter 'G' take effect.

You know you're in Asia when the breakfast buffet involves eggs being cooked with chopsticks, with a side of cabbage and seaweed

My first impressions of Seoul are of a massive, modern Asian city nestled amongst some beautiful mountains. Seoul somehow blends tradition with modernity, with the contrast of ancient Buddhist temples visible next to towering skyscrapers, nestled amongst bustling local markets. All in all, an incredibly cosmopolitan city with better than expected coffee and every food you could imagine.

The food...

Let's just say dinner was still moving when it went down. I hate to think what dinner cost, especially when our hosts kept saying things like "Abalone... very expensive..." Also, everything is medicinal in some way... "This fish, good for your heart. This soup, cancels out the effects of alcohol. This fruit, good for your blood. Raspberry wine... good for making you piss and break the urinal"

I'm completely stuffed, which is impressive, although after 9 courses, you'd expect to walk away full... - they left some sushi rolls on the table pointed at me, which was cue for "You have to eat this or the chef will get offended"... I got a round of applause when I finished it, quickly followed by rounds of laughter as I realised that the joke was on me. Nonetheless, training for the last 28+ years with my Jewish grandmother on Friday nights has come in handy once again.

To my knowledge, I haven't eaten dog yet, but am looking forward to it...

To be honest, after a few days in Seoul, my guts are in trouble and that's really saying something. I survived anal bullemia in South America, I survived battery acid burritos in Mexico, I survived the worst bout of food poisoning ever from a Pakistani guy in Cambodia and the second worst bout of food poisoning during the marriage proposal paella incident in Spain, but I may have finally met my match in Seoul.

Dinner last night consisted of Oysters, chili and beer. They segment their restaurants here by animal. Lamb, cow (dinner tonight was cow heart, stomach and intestines), octopus, prawn and oyster.

Dinner the night before consisted of oyster chili salad and a couple of Cass beers (or Ass beers as we like to call them.) Interestingly, their slogan is Cass... the sound of vitality, although I can't understand how a beer has a sound and I've been putting my ear to the bottle for hours now. It sounds like the ocean and I guess the ocean sounds like vitality.)

In summary, there are finger marks on the porcelain and I am Johnny Cash reincarnate.

The work/work balance

Work is interesting. I'm busy pretending, sorry, presenting all day and the Koreans sit there and nod. You know how everywhere else in the world, you can pause and usually someone will fill in the silence? Well, in Korea, that someone is me, because g-d knows if I was waiting for one of the locals to actually talk... um... they wouldn't...

I thought I actually did business today, but then I realised I didn't. Meeting culture here is incredible. It becomes an exercise to see how many individuals you can pile into one room who have no ability or permission to contribute in any way, shape or form to the actual meeting. Chairs line the perimeter of the room and are full of doting, silent note-takers. Meanwhile, a seat at the table means that an opinion is mandatory. Of course, none of the opinions are ever offered in English, meaning that my participation in a meeting is to ask a question, wait 15 minutes as the 12 people around the table debate in Korean and the 20 people sitting against the wall studiously take notes, finally to get back a response:


Business in Seoul is a 24 hour a day proposition, not including the fact that people sit in the office all hours of the night. Business is actually what happens in the hours that occur after 8pm and before 6:30am. 17 year old bottles of vintage scotch, served by girls of the same vintage, with elegant fruit platters accompanying any deal you want to make.

The culture

I've got to give it to the Koreans - they know what they want. They want what we want. And if what we want changes, then they'll want that instead. To understand how Korea works, you need to understand how Japan works. Post World War II, the Japanese economy grew incredibly due to their ability to copy things - mostly things that were made in America. Korea figured out that copying was the way to go, so they copied the entire Japanese model and learnt how to copy better than anyone could copy.

They may not even like it or know what it is, what it does or what it's meant to do. Scotch, clothes, perfume, whatever - it may taste, look or smell like ass, but if it's a brand and it's the "best", they want it.

The street life

I've now seen everything. Racing Model Billiards on TV, wedged in between 4 golf channels. Out of a total of 20. There's a massage parlour here with the Ferrari logo, one for Bentley and another one that claims to specialise in school girls.

People exercise weirdly here. They walk like my mum (as in, with 2 legs oscillating and generally one in front of the other in fairly quick rotation), but imagine my mum with a designer surgeon's mouthcap and walking backwards and you're starting to get the idea. I saw a guy barefoot crawling through a park for exercise. The hotel I'm staying in has a little park (10 metres by 10 metres) outside and Asian businessmen walk laps for exercise.

The night life

A travel blog to Korea wouldn't be complete without mention of Karaoke - the national pasttime, performed in private rooms with people who take themselves it as seriously as the Indians take the cricket. Which is alarming, especially considering there's no Barnsey here... what am I meant to sing?

The national drink is Soju, which tastes kind of like liquid ass, only not as strong. Soju must be poured by someone else at all times (which means you have no opportunity to regulate / restrict your intake) and

Our client is HEAVILY connected - the kind of guy who wears a dark suit and has a massive posse. When he coughs, 75 people get assassinated, when he has a cold, whole villages get wiped off the map.

He took us to a nightclub tonight where he knew the owner... it was its opening night, so of course, Brand New Heavies were playing for about 200 people. We, of course, were in the VIP balcony section... which of course was not good enough for our hosts, who took us into the lounge VIP section within the VIP section, where we got to rub elbows with the Bland New Heavies

Then they took us to a sports massage bar. Who am I kidding... it was a brothel. We got driven there in the black car and dumped off and were forced into dressing gowns. How the fark are you meant to handle that situation? You KNOW there's cameras recording...

Anyways, so after I f*cked her... hmm... I knew I was going to push the boundary in a travel email one day, and there it is. Is that what it looks like? I was expecting something more...

Ok, I'm sloshed and off to sleep... more again soon...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Catalan Marriage Proposal

Last night was the most romantic night of my life.

Even if it was a little unorthodox. How you ask?

Well, let's just say that most people get down on one knee to propose.

Pete was down on both.

As was I.

I then realised it was true love ... when you've shared this experience with someone, nothing else can ever tear you apart. Let me explain...

It was a romantic evening. Having just arrived in Barcelona, Pete and I decided to stop for a quiet meal... a seafood paella. From a Chinese restaurant. Nothing unusual about that.

After dinner, we took a stroll through Las Ramblas, found a quiet little bar, stopped for a couple of cervecas and were home and in bed by 4am.

Fast forward until about 430am, when I wake up and think ... "Hmmm... something´s really wrong here." My stomach was completely cramping. I remember thinking "I hope it´s not the alcohol. Wait a minute, I only had 2 drinks ... Wow, what if someone spiked my drink... Maybe if I just lie here, the pain will go away."

And of course, the pain didn´t go away, in fact, it just got worse... Finally, I get up to go to the bathroom. The closest bathroom of 3 which were attempting to service the 100 or so people in our immediate living quarters. Which was of course locked. I knock on the door and hear a familiar voice.

A voice that reminded me of Pete's, except in far more pain, saying "Yeah, waddayawant?"

At this point, I'll relay Pete's point of view, as he words it far better than I ever could ...

"The first 2 minutes was spent trying to shit it out...unsuccessful...then the captain yelled down periscope, we´re surfacing, I grab the edge of the sink and proceed to expel the first third of my seafood paella,...sink just under half full...then I hear a knock on the door and a muffled groan¨"Pete is that you"...its grunners and he sounds like he is in as much pain as I was in. Then I hear him run to the next bathroom...then I decide it would be a good idea to lock the door and pull my pants up from my ankles.

The next half an hour or so would prove to be one of the finest tandem spews in history, I was lead guitar to Grunners rhythm guitar...if i may I want to just paint the picture for you all...the hostel floor is shaped like a square with a smaller square in the middle where all the windows pretty much face each other meaning sound pretty much travells everywhere....needless to say grunners and I woke up the ENTIRE FLOOR.

I could hear the poor bastard dry wretching and knew he was shoving his hand down his throat...about 15 minutes later groon knocks on the bathroom door again and in another painfull groan "pete give us the bog roll"...big mistake...after I exhaled round 2...the biggest of all...sink full...then I needed to crap, so went on a mission to the free bathroom to procure the only other bog roll on the floor...then went back and produced what can only be described as the most rotten thing that has ever come out of me...it smelled of rotten seafood...another knock on the door and a french accent "pissss"...my reply "fuck off mate i am spewing"....then I felt round 3 wanting to surface ... lucky for me and the cleaners it was small (but the most painfull)....surface tension of the spew holding it in the sink...here comes the most disguting bit, its 530am and I am wading through a sink full of chunder with my bare hands trying to unblock the fucking drain...throwing bits into the toilet...finally unblocked the thing and dragged myself out of the bathroom to see heads peeping out of all the doors along the corridoors...I went to find my new spew brother on the other side of the floor and this american dude goes to me "your buddys finished barfing"....then went to bed..."

Ah, love at first spew... Photos to come

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Croatia - Don't mention the draw

Croatia. That should be Croatija. If Scrabble exists in Croatia, the scoring system would be completely backwards and the letter 'j' would be worth 1 point. The Crojat languaje usjes the letter j likje it's goijng out of fashijon. Policia becomes Policija, Popeye is Popaj, Hero is Heroj, there is a freaking brand of shoes here called "J".

As we pull into the absolutely stunning Adriatic port of Split, we cant wait to get off the boat and explore. Partly due to cabin fever, mostly due to the fact that we've been made to feel extremely unwelcome on our ferry ride from Ancona, Italy.

So, we've been in Croatia for a total of 5 minutes and have already been accosted. Our crime? Approaching a street vendor selling soccer jerseys, bargaining over the price of a hat and asking if he had any Harry Kewell jerseys . A brutal looking street-worn man cum-moustache, he mumbled something angrily in Baltic tongue, leaving us very sure of the translation by finishing his sentence emphatically "F*ck your mother."

Moustaches are the new black here. Or the old black that never went out of style. Long, bushy and stereotypically Eastern European.

Croatia is at first glance an extremely unfriendly place. Customer service at cafes consists of little more than the stunt double for Drago in Rocky IV barking "Vot do you Vant?!" as though your presence is a massive disturbance. Perhaps a lesson there for the Sydney barristas who get annoyed when people ask for double decaf soy lemon cappucinos - intimidation can go a long way to making your life easier in the customer service industry.

As expected, the coffee is atrocious. It tastes like someone burnt toast and then evacuated the contents of their stomach onto it. Everyday sets a new standard for the worst coffee I've ever had. If you ask me on a given day in Croatia "Was today the worst coffee you've ever had?", the answer would invariably be "yes".

Unnervingly efficient in their grasp of the Engligh language language, it is not uncommon to hear Croatians come up with expressions like "Put girl on phone", replacing normal sentence structure and tone with deliberate, military precision.

One can't help but feel that these guys are geared for war. Tensions run high in this alpha male dominated society. The training grounds are evident in everyday social interactions, from the cafes, to the driving, to the beach. Pedestrian crossings are merely target practice zones and are to be avoided whenever a car is in the vicinity.

Like a young brother and sister who niggle each other into a submission point when either or both start crying, the young males of Croatia rumble at the beaches with a policy of brinkmanship. They grab clumps of dirt and mud and throw them at each other with force, then gracefully await retribution. They crash into each other, driving each others faces into the dirt with the subtlety of a rugby league tackle.

The little ones get picked on first, the irony here being that the little kids are larger than most of their Australian counterparts (except those of Croatian extract). A fight breaks out in the water as one adolescent clocks another in the jaw with a roundhouse haymaker. Things only settle when the older brothers and cousins come across to sort out the commotion.

And all the while, we can't help but feel that these antics are for the benefit of the groups of girls who gather and occasionally get involved in flirty mock fights, giggling as they feign anger at the male attention thrown in their direction.

The one thing that this trip has affirmed is the need for an International Beach Commission. Not to regulate the behaviour at the beaches, but to regulate what is and isn't a beach at all. I feel like the term 'beach' has been thrown around way too much, to the point that it has completely devalued the word.

I mean, surely there's a few things that make a beach a beach. If a beach didn't have water, would it still be a beach? No. It would be a sandpit.

So, surely it must apply that if there is no sand, there is no beach. This would automatically eliminate 98% of the beaches in Croatia, where locals are content to set up shop anywhere (on a rock, on concrete, on a patch of dirt).

There is no classy way to enter the water, as one stuggles to step over pebbles and avoid sea urchins (which sting like a b!tch, trust me), but the worst is that there is no coordinated way to exit the water. No standing buff, no jogging out, no spraying the hair... but rather a look that is more akin to what it would look like if you rolled your ankle while trying to cross a bed of hot coals.

Truly, we are blessed down under.

And so, we find ourselves in a trendy bar in Split. The remains of a 2000 year old palace form the nerve centre of this Adriatic port, as modern commerce and a modern lifestyle have been completely enveloped within the antique rooms, punctuated by a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets.

We wander through a back alley and find a trendy bar built on an ancient staircase. As the drinks flow, we get a bit rowdy with some of the locals and the conversation inevitably twists towards a common point ... football.

Now, for those who don't know or remember, the history of Australian-Croatian relations began in June 2006, when Australia unexpectedly eliminated Croatia in the World Cup, with Harry Kewell snatching a late draw with a contentious (read: offside) goal with minutes remaining.

So, it's around this point of the story where we commit a cardinal sin, by striking up the chant...

"Harry Kewell, Harry Kewell, Harry Kewell, 2-2, 2-2, 2-2"

Now, it's important to recognise that at first the singing was in good spirit - solid, drunken banter.

However, out of no-where, we heard a deep gutteral rumble that was the unmistakable sound of swearing in a foreign language. One again, the rough English translation:

"Shut... your... f*cking... mouth"

The bartender goes over to settle things down. Realising he was unable to do that, he did the next best thing

"If you guys leave now, you'll have a 3 minute headstart"

We didn't need a 2nd warning and we evacuate our seats, turn completely the wrong direction and spend the next 20 minutes attempting to navigate the labarynth, finding several dead ends and having to hide around a corner when we saw our mate with a couple of his friends, a mob of hooligans intent on some alcohol fuelled ethnic-based football violence.

Welcome to Croatia ... don't mention the draw.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to for Girls and Boys - Volume 1

Somehow, our species has survived millions of years of emotional incompatability.

All too often (in fact, universally ... literally every relationship I've ever been in) I've been accused of not being in touch with my emotional side. I don't know how to "relate" to a girl.

Whereas, I always thought I knew how to "relate" to a girl. Apparently, a girl's definition of "relate" and my definition of "relate" are completely different.

This situation is exacerbated, because I work in a team full of girls, none of whom have patience in my abrupt nature and all of whom are susceptible to periodical emotional swings, often lasting days at a time, which incidentally seem to occur around the same time each month.

Anyways, the girls at work seem to have had a bit of an effect on me, so I'm publishing a preview of volume 1 of my love life guide for all the single people out there in the world. All care given, no responsibility taken.

Chapter 1 - Mark promised me (Laura) a date, but then never got back in touch


Just so we're clear, I never thought it would work between yourself and myself - relationships precipitated by random pashes seldom do.

However, I am interested in knowing the cause of your lack in interest as I am gathering data for statistical purposes. I am writing a book called - "Men and why women would be better off as lesbians"

Please tell me why you didn't call me back after agreeing on Friday to a date with me

a) You met a girl last weekend. Did you sleep with her? I'll never forgive you if you slept with her.

b) You're trapped under heavy machinery, in which case, never fear - I will continue to care for you even if you have been horribly mutilated.

c) You're afraid of committment, yet can't reconcile this with the intensely strong and strange feelings you have for me

d) I made you realise you were gay.

Please don't hide in your emotional coccoon. You need to connect with me, Mark. Please get in touch soon.

Lovingly yours,

- The important thing to remember here is that Mark IS actually waiting for your email. He's testing you and your resolve to see if you're the kind of person who has the character that he is looking for in his child bearer.

Chapter 2 - You are Mark and receive the email above.

What you should NEVER write back.


How about option (e) None of the above?

I've felt really bad for not calling, but my grandmother's been ill all week and I'm been behind the 8-ball all day at work. I was literally about to call you when I got your email.

How about we meet up for dinner tonight? I know a great Italian place...

Mark xo

- This is a weak response. It shows that you have no strength of conviction and that all she has to do is send you a pitiful email for you buckle at the knees and come crawling.

2(b) - What you probably should write back


Hey, you know those shits where you have a big fruit brekky with muesli and a large coffee before going to the train station and you just miss a train and you're sitting on the train platform for like 10 minutes needing to explode, trying to think of anything else, and the train finally comes and you're holding it and sweating and finally get to Town Hall and walk to work, struggling, and you walk in and drop your bag and try to run, but someone walks to talk to you and then finally you get to the bathroom and rip your pants down and let rip a massive explosion and it stings on the way out and you completely destroy the porcelain and stink out the room and come out covered in sweat?

Well, I had one of those this morning, but I'm fine now ... wanna meet up for a root tonight?


- This response is 2 things: confident and honest, and we all know how much girls love confidence and honesty in a man.

CHAPTER 3 - Mark calls for a follow up date, only to be told by Laura "It's complicated"

Complicated means different things to different people and it's important here that Mark translate the situation correctly. Spoken by a girl, "Complicated" is girlspeak for "My wiring is incapable of handling this situation". From a guy, "Complicated" is more likely to mean "I'm seeing three girls this weekend and can't remember which one I had the booty call with last Saturday night." You'll notice that the Facebook phenomenon of the relationship status "It's Complicated" will never be mutually agreed to by a guy and a girl who are technically in "Complicated" situations with one another.

Mark should partly blame himself for all this, because it was unfair to assume that as far as girls go, there are emotionally stable girls in the stable. Laura will blame herself, because, let's face it, it's "Complicated".

The important thing here is to learn a valuable life lesson ... and lengthen your disclaimer. The reason disclaimers are so long is because lawyers learn from every bad experience and add another paragraph to the disclaimer.

In the laws of love, you need to do the same. My disclaimer now reads "yeah, from what I know of her, she's a cool chick but she's been in at least 2 prior relationships and could be related to one of my sister's friends. so I make no emotional stability guarantees"


Stay tuned for further Laura and Mark chapters, including:

I like you, but I can't stop flirting"
"The perils and pitfalls of double dating"
"Why blind dating should be exactly that... blind"

and more...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why bring flags when you can just sell drugs - Big Day Out 07 Part 2

Lily Allen – Boiler Room –3:00pm

I’m getting nowhere and must stop rambling at some point if I’m to maintain any hope of finishing this piece of writing. Next time I forget what I was trying to say, can someone please stop me from breaking off into a tangent? This task is enormous and hard enough to finish without so many non-sequiturs invading my head. I need to resist stopping my writing, because clarity and freshness of the day is key to communicating it effectively. This is as intellectually drained as I’ve felt for a long time.

OK, so it’s really dark now. Dark and loud, but a really crisp loudness. The only sources of light right now are the strobe flashes and lasers shooting out from stage. It must be dark, because my notes have begun to take on an air of unreadability, if that’s a word. For some reason, I started to think everything was moving in slow motion at this point.

The Boiler Room is a massive cavern and the stage seems miles away. As I drive through the crowds, I feel like something strange is happening. The crowd at this BDO seems to be different to events of yesteryear. It’s as though the bogan element has diminished or disappeared.
Bogan. What a great word. I must do research at some point to discover the origin of this word.
It seems like BDO has attracted a slightly classier crowd this year. Everywhere I turn, I see packs of made up girls, with expensive haircuts and pretty dresses. Clean cut is the new grunge.
Wait a minute? Is that the girl from outside?

To my left, I spot a skinny girl sporting a black singlet and short black shorts who looked remarkably similar to a junkie girl from outside the event at the entrance. If it was the same girl, she had come down and calmed down immeasurably, because the girl outside was a fiend and an animal. Desperation was etched across every line in her face, a contortion of evil, random and assorted drugs pulsing through her system. All of this swelled into a liquid emotion which passed upward through her body and out from her throat in the direction of any security guard willing to listen.

“My fucking boyfriend stole my ticket! I can’t believe it! He ripped the ticket straight out from my pocket, look! I paid $120 to stand outside here looking like an idiot! I’m going inside to call him!”

This girl in the Boiler Room certainly looked like the girl from outside, but much, much calmer, as though she’d taken some kind of tranquiliser. Maybe all she needed was a dose of happy music. Lily Allen were certainly providing that. A unique blend of funk, dance and cheese, it was good to see a horn section once again at a Big Day Out.

Years from now, historians will look back to study what we call modern music and ask the question, where did all the horns go?

Such a bad idea, taking notes on the back of my programme. Why do people who actually care what is on next not have programmes? I can understand people who want to wander around and make discoveries not carrying a programme, but for people who have a vested plan for the day, you’d imagine that a programme is a pretty fundamental element when executing the plan.

Of course, now I need to explain what I’m writing on the back of my programme. My explanation was that I’m a Rolling Stone magazine reporter, trying to write a story on the effect experimental drugs have on the experience of the average concert-goer. Of course, this was the explanation I came up with hours later when no one was asking.

When the couple standing next to me asked, I mumbled a fairly incoherent response that only drew up more questions that it answered. Caught in a web of white lies, completely of my own creation.

This is hard work, taking all these notes. You become a complete outsider, stuck on the inside.
It’s contradictory to the intent of my day. The idea was that a certain experience would occur and I would be able to document it as it happened. The problem with this logic is that while documenting my experience, I was stepping outside the experience of being part of the BDO and into the role of a journalist, observing the BDO occurring around me. It’s an uneasy feeling and I resolve to minimalise my note taking. This project is doomed for failure.

Time to move on again. People, people everywhere.

Outside the Boiler Room, there is an ice cream truck with a Caribbean guy on the roof with big dreadlocks. Is Caribbean the correct word? Is Rasta a politically correct expression? I was originally going to write Jamaican, but what if he was from Trinidad and/or Tobago? Surely, he’d get insulted.

More to the point, why was he on top of the truck? There are girls up there with him, who look more like crowd members than musicians, and one of them has a microphone, and…


This would honestly have to be the worst cameo performance in the history of mankind. Someone must take the microphone away from this girl immediately, and preferably have here removed for a savage beating.

It’s at this point that I notice something else different about the crowd. There are breasts absolutely everywhere. OK, not whole breasts, but cleavage. The suggestion of breasts. The promise of more breast.

And large breasts.

Girls have been cheating a lot more in recent years as breast technology has improved and become more accessible. Push up bras, clothing designed to amplify breast presence and surgery have created a generation of breasts. Breasts are the new black.

I inform Boogie of this insight.

“Breasts are the new black”


Obviously, Boogie wasn’t on my wavelength. I explain that breasts are everywhere, a sentiment he concurs with.

All of a sudden, Boogie turns to me.

“Healthy is the new black”

Now, it was my turn to draw a blank.


“Dude, when you said breasts are the new black, I looked around and the first set of breasts I saw was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Healthy is the new black’”

Coincidence? I think not. The universe works in strange ways.

WHOA! Who is this monster in my face? She looks like a girl, but a lot shorter, heftier and far too proximate to me for my liking.

“Yeah! Someone spilled on me!”

I pull away. Who knows what kind of venom this creature is capable of spitting out of her mouth?

Boogie is starting to feel a certain edginess to the crowd at this point.

“I can feel a fight brewing”

I have to admit, there is a certain electricity in the air at this point. Volumes of trashed people are wandering in every direction, floating around like random molecules. Electrons and protons, forces of attraction and repulsion. It’s true. A fight could break out at any minute here and over nothing. The day is nearly over for some of these people and it’s not yet 3:15 in the afternoon. Hard, fast and early, like a heavyweight boxer who’s thrown all his haymakers in the first round and completely exhausted himself. Fools! This is a 15 round boxing match and the only way to come out alive is to be dancing as hard in the final round as you were in the first.

Boxing? How did boxing come into this? Where will it all end?

Expatriate – V Energy Local Produce –3:20pm

My notes list this band as being called Expatriot. Whoever they are, they were easily an early highlight of the day. The stage is intimate, which is another way of saying small with a crowd to match, but as can often be expected by the smaller stages, they pulse with an energy that is seemingly unmatchable by crowds exponentially larger.

There’s something else about this crowd. They seem on average, much cooler than the rest of the BDO population, as though everyone present is a member of a secret organisation. Even the mandatory girls in team uniforms seem much cooler than other teams – each girls is beautiful, decked out in bright yellow 80’s gear – midriff tops, cut off at the shoulders.

Anyways, Expatriate are going off and everyone in there knows it. And everyone knows that everyone knows that the few people in there are the cool minority. Especially the band. They remind me of a super-band that hasn’t quite made it big yet, or hasn’t quite yet been discovered by everyone, but surely will be soon. The sound of New Order with the stage presence of U2 spring to mind as analogies. The lead singer doesn’t disappoint, pulling out his best Bono impression by leaning over the first of three rows of spectators and getting intimate with the crowd.

My Chemical Romance – Main Stage –3:45pm

The day is moving thick and fast at this point. My Chemical Romance are belting out their brand of rock and roll, which is proving to be a little to heavy for Boogie and Diana, so they move on in search of greener pastures. My mentality at this point is to ignore my instinct to follow them and to instead counter with logic. The logic being, that someone has gone to all the trouble to fly these guys out from far away and at some point they would no doubt be playing a local gig to a few thousand mad fans, with tickets costing a day’s earnings. As such, they must be worth a listen.

First things, first though. Getting to a bathroom is, at best, a mission at the BDO. It usually involves negotiating some stairs, which only fulfil the role of speedhumps to all human traffic flow. As such, I put it off for as long as possible, but with my bladder at bursting point, I decide to venture forth and empty my bladder.

There are 3 truths of all bathrooms at music festivals.

Truth 1. No matter what time it is, all bathrooms will have scungy floors, with some kind of viscous matter that is part dirt, part water and part caked urine or other matter.

Truth 2. You will never see more than 1 person wash their hands

Truth 3. There will always be girls in the male bathrooms.

One thing I have always had universal thanks for is my male bladder. Male bladders must be several times larger than female bladders. This generally means we can wait a longer time between drinks before we have to discharge. Regardless of this size difference, the process for a female to empty her bladder is, time-wise, several times larger than that for the male.
I’m not sure if the process itself requires more steps, or the same steps are more time consuming. After all, I’ve never experienced the joys of being a girl.

What I do know is that nature has played a very cruel trick on women, for not only do they take longer to partake in the bathroom process, but they have further been cursed with the universal truth that girl’s bathrooms will always have longer queues than boy’s bathrooms. There are no exceptions to this rule, including the modern traditions which dictate that the queues to the cubicles in the men’s room will always be longer than the queues to the urinal. Thank g-d for party drugs.

The thing that very few females actually get to realise as a matter of experience is the pure brutality, the masculinity, the hormonally charged atmosphere that is the men’s bathroom. There is a certain amount of shame that a girl needs to sacrifice to succumb to the temptation to alleviate the suffering of one’s bowels through usage of a men’s bathroom.

After all, it’s not often I find myself nodding in agreement with a drunken yobbo screaming out “Show us your dick, or fuck off”. Not only that, but looking around the cramped restroom, I see the rest of the room nodding in silence. This moron hasn’t just shown off his own low intelligence – he’s achieved consensus. Somewhere, at some similar music festival long ago, a creature crawled out of this primeval soup and became a modern day politician. How does such nonsense rule supreme when we are reduced to the mob?

OK, remember what you’re writing about – GET A GRIP, MAN!!!

My Chemical Romance are energetic, and I use that word simply because I struggle to find a compliment. What they possess in energy, they lack in originality. They are a symptom of music as a consumable item – they fit a certain image and target a certain demographic. I can’t figure out what they are doing at this festival – apart from the fact that they add a certain international flavour.

Australia suffers from a cultural cringe at the best of times, the prevailing attitude being that if it’s foreign, it must be superior, with the most superior force being that of anything produced in the U, S of A. Therefore, an American band imported into our clearly inferior Australian music festival must be, well … better. After all, we’re paying more for the privilege … they MUST be good.

Unfortunately for the organisers of the festival, I see through their clever ruse. This band has been brought out specifically to fill the bill – a big name act to draw in the punters. Surely they realise that the rest of the audience is as cynical as I am? Or is this just my marijuana-induced paranoia speaking through my head again?

Speaking of which, surely it’s time to catch up with my mates. After all, Boogie and Diana have all of the supplies for the day and supplies are crucial for pacing oneself at a music festival, especially one that prides itself on being a Big Day Out.