Monday, September 28, 2009

Islands in the stream

Every now and then you come across pairings that just work, like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Marieke Hardy and Bob Ellis, and Nick Cave and me. There's something so right about these couplings that it's hard to imagine a world without them (especially after you've worked so hard to conjure them up).

So it is with some of the Western world's greatest love stories: Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Iseult, and Queen Elizabeth and her corgis.

But if we split the pairs and consider each individual separately, what do we have? A metrosexual man-boy, a whiny tween, a lad who doesn't know when to let go, a chick whose propensity to drink leads her to all sorts of trouble, and Queen Elizabeth and her corgis (I can't make it any worse than it already is).

So considered together the partners work, but if we separate the blissful pairings it's like waking up the morning after.

But what of the stories where you fall in love with one half of the pair (say, hypothetically, the dashing, serious-browed poet-scholar Randolph Henry Ash in A.S. Byatt's Possession) yet find the large-toothed, sharp-nosed heroine (say the poetess Christabel Lamotte in the very same Possession) hard to take?

What if you think, hypothetically, that you'd be a better match for Randolph Henry Ash than Christabel Lamotte?

Is it wrong to object to a fictional pairing? Is it insensitive to prefer one spunky fictional love-nut over the other not so spunky nutter?

And logistically speaking, how would one actually intervene in a pairing between an obviously ill-suited fictional nineteenth century couple who exist in an archive romance that was published in 1990?

Important questions, I know. So tell me, which fictional character would you bump to get closer to their squeeze?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to survive a dust storm

So there are dust storms all over NSW today, as you may have seen reported in some of Australia's finest news outlets. Because this kind of thing shits me (the melodramatic reportage, both from media outlets and the population generally) I thought I'd put together a brief 'how to' on surviving the dust storm who-ha.

1.Watch out for people who show you pictures, thus:

then say: "Seriously, it really looked like that."

They are stupid and don't understand that, provided your white balance is right and your shutter speed ok, a photograph can be a realistic representation of the external world.

The best thing to do in this situation is avoid all people holding cameras or phones with cameras or indeed any device with a screen. Just to be safe you might like to avoid all people with hands that could hold such devices or gesture to such screens, as well as those with mouths that look capable of forming the first 's' in "seriously".

2. Or, if you can't escape having images of the orange sky thrust before you, make sure you don't look at cropped images like this:

Ask to see the full image, thus:

If this is the Armageddon I want to at least have one last look at a hot guy.

3. When you hear soundbites from people across NSW using the word 'Armageddon' to describe the orange sky, throw something disrespectful at the tv or radio, like a tampon* or a used tissue.

Or, for those of a more verbal persuasion, when they say "When I looked out the window this morning, oh my! It was just like the Armageddon," you say "When I looked out the window this morning it looked like what I imagine the Armageddon to look like, because of course I haven't actually experienced any Armageddons myself."

Ach, don't listen to me. I'm just sore that I don't own a dust removal company; this could have been my lucky day.

* I've got nought against tampons per se, power to them; I just suspect it would be disrespectful to throw one at someone. Similarly lolly wrappers or cotton buds as well as shoes and boom mikes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From Ramones reject to t-shirt queen in 15 easy years

The first time I went to Homebake I had t-shirt issues (as you do) so a friend lent me one of hers. It was black and fitted, with a rather nice design on the front. It was for some band called the Ramones; I hadn't heard of them but my friend assured me they were quite good, as far as bands go. So on went the t-shirt and off we went to Homebake.

That I was wearing a t-shirt for a band I didn't know apparently incensed my friend's younger sister who said (quite rightly, I see in hindsight): "You can't wear that. You don't even know who they are."

To which I answered:

"Well... um... so what? Yes I can."

Not my finest moment, that. So over the many years since then I've had this thing with t-shirt authenticity. Since that moment I've wished, wished for a chance to right my karma in the t-shirt universe.

Finally, my moment arrived last week.

I was in the park with my boy. We were hanging out on the swings and beside us was a gorgeous Goth chick, dressed head to toe in black just like her gorgeous Goth baby. We got chatting, as you do in the park, about parenting and tv and what we did before our sticky, busy children arrived.

It turned out she had studied Comparative Literature and Classics at uni in South Africa so we nattered about the books we'd read and the poetry we were forcing on our poor children. We chuckled about how great but economically worthless our liberal arts educations had been.

We laughed, we sighed, we smiled at our kids.

Then it came to me, in a flash of t-shirt brilliance. I knew exactly what to say. Never before had the stars of conversation come together like this. I turned to my new Goth friend, straightened my t-shirt and said: "My worthless degree means I can wear this t-shirt and mean it."

Lame? My lordy yes, but for that moment I ruled the t-shirt universe.

So tell me, how do you get on with the T-Shirt Gods?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Democratically challenged

The votes are tied!

Danielle Steele's scholarly masterpiece, A Bon Port, and Victor Hugo's piece of fluff, Les Miserables, have matched each other aye for aye carumba throughout this exciting electoral process.

Which will be the ultimate winner? Which will claim the mandate to delight and entertain? Only you know.

One more vote, peeps, that's all we need to break this never before seen deadlocked pairing. What'll it be?

[I'm very tired and a little nuts. Can you tell?]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Un Vote

I had lunch with a dear friend this week who, after the avocado and bean salad but before the jaffa slice, excused herself and took a call; "Ah bon jour, ma cherie!" she answered, pricking my newly Francophiled interest.

[Please note, I've left the acute accent off the first 'e' in 'cherie' for authenticity as she was speaking rather than writing and I thus couldn't see it. Also, I can't figure out how to do it in blogger.]

My friend, it turns out, speaks and reads French fluently and has taught her daughter the same during long car trips and chilly winter evenings. They now converse, entirely for fun, entirely in French. They are my newest dual heroes.

I asked my friend if there was any merit to the idea of learning French by translating a novel and she answered enthusiastically "oui oui!" (sorry, I promise that's the last bad French-word joke; it's also the end of my current French vocab). My friend said that she knew of someone who had translated all seven parts of Proust's In Search of Lost Time into English for precisely that reason.

Happily I'm nowhere near that masochistic so have shortlisted but two novels:

1. All those who vote I translate Hugo's Les Miserables, say 'aye'
2. All those who vote I translate Danielle Steele's A Bon Port, say 'aye carumba!'

So, what'll it be?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Frenchy, Frenchy, haw haw haw

I was 21 when France conducted what turned out to be its last nuclear 'test' at Moruroa in 1996, and I remember saying (with all the wisdom of a gangly-legged 21 year old): "No-one's gonna wanna learn French now," like that was the most important part of the whole ugly situation.

[When I first launched into that sentence I wrote "I was 11 when France conducted..." then I ran the numbers again and realised that I was in fact 21 at the time. I don't know what's worse: that I can't add up or that I was 21 when I made such a lame comment.]

Anyway, now that I'm older and heavily under the influence of cliches I must tell you I'm all hot and bothered (in a va-va-voom way) about France. I bought the corniest two-CD set today, Cafe De Paris: 50 Grands Succes Francais, which I think translates to If You Are Suffering From Brain Softening, Buy This Product. In my defense it only cost $10, but that aside, it's all part of a new project: I want to teach myself French.

I've always been put off learning a language because I have zero capacity for mimicry, but today (around the time I bought the CD) I thought maybe I could learn to read French and never have to utter a word. Sure it's a weird and isolating way to do it, but it might just work.

So of course I rushed home and pulled out the kids' French book my darling Mum gave me last time I had a wacky French language-related idea and came across this on page one:

This is my kind of learning! I was pretty sure I knew what "Waf! Waf!" meant, and absolutely positive I was on top of "Krwak!" having uttered it myself in similarly corn-ball situations. This language learning thing is going to be a breeze. I reckon I could skip straight to Les Miserables, provided it's illustrated.