You know what’s good? Rummaging through old stuff. I particularly enjoy rummaging through old stuff about me, because hey, I know her! I happened upon a bag of said old stuff today and unearthed some extremely important pieces from my formative years – namely, a muddle of drawings and stories I did in the early years of primary school. It seems I schemed a lot. I had big plans, and did not hesitate to commit my thoughts to paper.
One such scheme involved the creation of the most delicious recipe in the universe. It had a secret ingredient that was sure to be a hit: melted rainbows. It’s a few years late, but I think it’s time the world knew exactly how to make AMY’S HON(E)Y SCRUMCHES/SCRAMCIS BAR (I stand by my use of the word ‘scrumptious’ in theory, if not in execution). They’re unbliveibell!
2 teespons caraml
4 cups hoeny
1 blok chocolet
1 tea spons shoger
7 mellted rambows
Mix the ingridients in together and stir tres the mixter for seven howers you will end up with the cohlet bar
It’s just that easy! Of course, people could make Honey Scramcis Bars in their own homes. But that wasn’t my end game. I would lure the people in with a delicious recipe, but I was pretty sure they’d realise pretty quickly just how gosh-darn difficult it was to make. Seven hours of stirring? Seven melted rainbows? (I liked the number seven.) Where do you even get rainbows? And how do you melt them?
No, the general public would never be able to manage it. Maddened by the thought of such deliciousness, they’d grow desperate to purchase pre-made Hony Scrumches Bars, and a cunning young entrepreneur would have a hit on her hands. To this end, I workshopped alternative names (alas, the Carhon Amy L Bar didn’t have the same ring, and I’m still not sure what I was getting at). I made product notes (Idears) detailing my groundbreaking sweet treat’s point of difference – Never before has there benan A choclet with melted ramao!
Of course, I could do all the marketing research I liked – it simply wasn’t going to sell if the packaging didn’t catch the consumer’s eye. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
It was a triumph of design. From its inexplicably pink-haired mascot (look, guys, it’s Amy from Amy’s Honey Scrumches Bars! She’s famous!) to cloud imagery and choice of colours used in the word ‘bar’ subtly referencing the melted rainbows, the packaging was utterly flawless. However, its crowning glory was the catchy slogan:
‘YOU MEAN YOU HAVEN’T?’
Passive aggression. It was missing in snack-related advertising then, and it’s missing in snack-related advertising now. Perhaps the world simply wasn’t ready. Perhaps I should have mentioned the key ingredient in the name of the bar. Perhaps I never should have published my secret recipe in the first place, but hey, at least it means I still have it now. And mark my words, my confectionery empire will rise yet…just as soon as I get my hands on some rainbows to melt.
Filed under: Miscellanea | Tags: Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music
I’m very fond of The Sound of Music (that and Julie Andrews in general), and a few months ago a work colleague was kind enough to give me an enormous block mounted print of the movie poster (she was cleaning up her garage and thought it seemed My Cup of Tea). It hangs proudly in my kitchen, and I like to gaze upon Fraulein Maria skipping about a meadow while I am doing the washing up.
However! It has come to my attention that there is a – actually, hang on. Just give me a moment.
Okay. Right. Back on track. I’ve noticed a little something hidden in the poster. Well, hidden is a strong word – I suppose it’s more something that I didn’t notice at first glance. I’m sure there are lots of people (probably seniors, honestly) who are well aware of it, but it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to discovering an easter egg without the assistance of the internet.
So, the poster features Fraulein Maria, the von Trapp kids and Captain Austriaaaaaaaah, right? Yes. Yes, well done. You’ve cracked it. Good work. But if you look closely at the left hand side of the hill – hey, it’s a guy on a bike! It’s messenger-boy-turned-love-interest-for-the-eldest-daughter-turned-TRAITOROUS-NAZI Rolf.
This was a very exciting discovery to make whilst scrubbing the bottom of a burnt saucepan that had been sitting in the sink for a day and a half. Surely this couldn’t be the only discrete nod to supporting characters? Surely some of the plucky nuns would be dotted about? Perhaps the Baroness, or flamboyant chum Max? No, it had to be Mother Superior. If I just looked at the same spot on the other side of the poster, there she’d be! I was sure of it!
Yeah. Sorry, Mother Superior. The art department thought about it…and they decided to just draw a cow instead. On reflection, I suppose they had to. After all, you can’t put a nun between Captain von Trapp’s powerful thighs and expect her to stay a nun. Yodelayheehoo!
Filed under: Miscellanea
The other day the multi-talented Kris Anderson wanted to show me an app he felt would be relevant to my mature and sensible interests. He was quite right – it was a Disney photobooth app that turned me into Princess Anna from Frozen. Obviously, I was delighted, and wanted it for my own. Alas: when I searched for it, it was only for iPhone. How I wept!
Fortunately, when Walt’s cryogenically preserved head closes a door, it opens a window. A terrifying, non-licensed window. My googling quickly lead me down a rabbit hole of strange knock-off flash games, all featuring the characters from Frozen. I was vaguely aware that such things existed, but I wasn’t aware of the extent of the horror. Now I am. Now I know.
The cold never bothered her anyway. Ear infections are another story. I snipped away some excess royal ear hair, drained away some royal fetid ear fluid, syringed some nasty royal ear boils and hunted mean-looking royal ear bacteria with a sparkly gun. She’s fine now.
Okay, maybe she’s not fine. It seems she assertively here-I-stand foot stomped directly onto a gangrenous echidna and left the wounds to fester. I’m beginning to have serious concerns about the Snow Queen’s attitude to personal hygiene.
Oh, good! It runs in the family! Little sister Princess Anna is just as lax when it comes to self care. Maybe this is why that app wanted me to smile with my mouth closed and smeared virtual lipstick on my teeth when I wouldn’t play by its rules.
A ray of hope! Anna’s ventured into the bathroom (hopefully to brush her teeth) and decided she might as well wipe the feces off the sink. Good for her!
Elsa would help, but she has other fish to fry. Being a Snow Queen isn’t the well-paying gig you’d imagine, so she does some substitute teaching here and there. Sadly, magical ice dresses don’t seem to be available in maternity sizes.
Home from work (via the clinic, it seems), the Queen takes her place on the newly-cleaned throne. You can tell it’s a very pretty toilet because it has wings. Surely this return to hygiene heralds good fortune for the royal sisters!
Magical. Just magical.
Spoilers, I guess.
It was with some trepidation that I used the cliché ‘it was with some trepidation’ to express the fact that I felt nervous upon venturing into a screening of Monty Python Live (Mostly). Recorded on the final night of their sell-out last hurrah at the O2 Arena just a few days ago, it was billed as an all-singing, all-dancing collection of some of Python’s most iconic sketches and songs. The Pythons, together again? Magnificent! (Except, you know, now they’re pretty old and one of them is dead.)
I was a bit concerned. What if it was just…kind of sad? You know, pity sad? Well, it made my eyes leak*, and it was lovely, and sometimes it was a bit shit, and sometimes I started clapping my hands together in involuntary delight.
They are old. Of course they’re old, it’s 2014. I’m glad they’re old (although Chapman sadly didn’t have that privilege), and I don’t think that being old precludes them from being funny, or from getting the ol’ gang together. I just really, really hoped it would work. Their show could have consisted of them all standing on stage together and reading a single sketch from dog-eared scripts and it still would have sold out – it’s MONTY PYTHON – but I wanted it to be good because I love them and I didn’t want to pity them even a little.
So, is it good? It’s worthwhile. It’s long, but most of it is padding – it relies heavily on a troupe of dancers and clips from Back In the Day interspersed with live sketches. Oh, and Idle sings a lot. When they get to it, the good stuff is there in some form or another. Sketches have been stitched together and re-jigged somewhat – when Idle emerges from a fridge to croon the Galaxy Song, he now does so to the always fabulous Carol Cleveland (I’m so glad she’s in it!) who needs some cheering up after an unexpected Spanish inquisition. It’s fun to guess where they’re going to head next, and there are some enjoyable bits of misdirection in this regard. I only felt stooged by this once, when the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch…wasn’t. The Ministry’s sign appeared on the big screen, and a familiar ridiculous silhouette appeared – and another, and another, and another. The dancers were back. It would have been great to see this as PART of the Silly Walks sketch rather than instead of it.
I was a bit miffed by the simplicity of some of the staging. I know, I know – but come on, it’s a bloody arena spectacular with massive screens, confetti and ceiling harnesses. The dancers in Every Sperm is Sacred just sort of bob about dressed as nuns and priests. Think of all the different characters in the musical number in the original film! They weren’t out just to transcribe the filmed scene, I get that, but the staged version does seem to pale in comparison. Surely they could have costumed some of the dancers differently and staggered their entrances? If you’re doing an area spectacular – well, do an arena spectacular. (I enjoy typing ‘arena spectacular’.) Whilst the dance sequences are enjoyable enough (if a bit long sometimes), they’re essentially filler – so really, they might as well have gone all out. The budget was certainly there.
It’s worth mentioning that this is a Python for 2014: I Like Chinese has undergone significant de-racistification, and the Penis Song now features a second verse about vaginas. It’s obvious that effort has gone into the balancing act of retaining the feel of the original material and making the content suitable for modern audiences. Sure, these efforts are a bit clunky at times (and they’re certainly still a bit heavy on camp mincing as a punchline), but in general they give off a cosy sort of goodwill and work well enough.
It raises questions, though: how much should you change? ‘70s Python isn’t quite crows-from-Dumbo, Mickey-Rooney-in-Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s level, but there’s plenty of content that your average Tumblr user would describe as problematic. Intent and context are important, and the majority of the jokes aren’t cruel. Way back when, for example, the Bruces declared ‘no poofters!’, we were laughing at them, not the, um, poofters. Still, time marches on, and what was okay then isn’t okay now – rather than declaring things a product of their time and doing the scripts verbatim, we just don’t get the Bruces – or at least, not that part of the sketch. Instead, they clomp out to the strains of Advance Australia Fair, make a few jokes about cricket and lead a singalong of the Philosophers Song. It’s safe, and probably for the best, but I still felt the loss of the opening chunk.
The guest stars (different each night) don’t really have much to do – Austen Tacious is austen-sibly (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) a Bruce, but really he just stands on stage for a while with his trademark getup on under a Bruce shirt and says a few not-in-character words about what a great night it is. Mike Myers comes on with a paper bag over his head during the Blackmail segment (the weakest of the show), is revealed as Mike Myers and gushes about how amazing! awesome! brilliant! it is to be on stage with Monty Python! They’re legends! I’m not worthy! He’s not actually attempting schtick – if this was a reunion show taking place in New York for a classic North American comedy troupe, it would have been appropriate. But it isn’t, so Palin bravely tries to steer the segment onwards. Ugh, Mike Myers. Try to be cool. Surely there would have been more impact in celebrities with comedic chops doing bit parts than in being summoned up on stage to smile and wave?
For all my nitpicking, there’s a lot that is lovely, and the very best bits are what you’d expect: Cleese doing a wonderful bit of corpsing after losing his place during Dead Parrot, Idle’s mugging at the audience as his Say-No-More moustache attempts to escape from his face (he pulled it off and put it in his pocket to rapturous applause) and the grin on Palin’s face as he fakes out the audience after hinting at starting the Lumberjack song (of course, he later delivers).
The show is, of course, very self-aware, and its PHOTO OPPORTUNITY and TWO MINUTES UNTIL SPONTENOUS ENCORE signs seem very much in character. I shouldn’t have worried about pitying them. They’re old Pythons, but they’re Pythons, and they know what they’re about. Some bits work, and some bits don’t, but there was never any sympathy applause. The end of the show, all warm and bittersweet, featured them standing together (inevitably) singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life one last time, and damn, it got me. It got everyone. If only an image of Chapman’s head had been the sing-along-bouncy-ball on the enormous stadium screen. He would have liked that.
* Stephen Hawking sang a verse of the Galaxy Song. I sobbed big ugly happy tears.
Filed under: Miscellanea
Wondering what on earth Scottish people are trying to say to you? Does it sound like they’re speaking English, but the English just doesn’t make any sense? Fear not. I am here to help.
‘At the minute.’
You can probably work this one out. Not ‘at the moment’. No, it’s minute. Moment is obviously too vague. This just sounds really wrong to me, probably because it’s almost right.
‘Where do you stay?’
This actually means ‘Where do you live?’. There is a lot of potential for confusion here. I thought people thought I was just visiting and went to great pains to tell them otherwise (NO TOURIST I), but no. They say this to each other. No, Scotland. Staying is temporary (okay, having written it out that doesn’t really make a lot of sense).
‘They’re ages with me.’
This doesn’t mean ‘they’ve been with me for a long time’ or ‘they take a long time with me’ (that sounds like innuendo, so I’m just going to waggle my eyebrows for a little while) but ‘we are the same age’. I know. Weird.
This means ‘How are you?’. The correct response is to reply ‘Alright?’. A brave but worried smile will not do. You think it will, but it results in the asker waiting for a few more awkward seconds before deciding you’re ignoring them. I just can’t quite get the intonation right on this one. Feels clunky.
People say this! They actually say it! It means ‘You know?’ and is used in the same way – tacked on to the end of sentences as a sort-of-but-not-really question. It’s great because they’re saying ‘ken’. That’s pretty Scottish, so it’s quite enjoyable.
Generic terms of endearment. Shop assistants will call you these things. Hen is for women, and is multi-purpose – it is equivalent to ‘Darl’ or ‘Babe’ from younger shop assistants (‘You right for sizes in there, hen?’) and ‘Dear’ or ‘Love’ from corner shop ladies and kindly bus drivers. ‘Pal’ is a direct translation of ‘Mate’ and is used in the same way (down to its sarcastic use by angry drunken young men fighting each other on the street).
To chat, to gossip. This is a good word and should be adapted throughout the English-speaking world. Use it. (Also, it sounds like something the Proclaimers might do when not havering.)
This means what you already think it means, but more so. It’s a positive term for any kind of non-boring conversation. Everybody spends a lot of time talking about whether there is banter to be had in various situations. It’s something that you want from work colleagues and from nice young men (hopefully in different capacities). It is worth pointing out that you can never just have banter. It has to be ‘a bit of banter’.
Smile and nod. Smile and nod. You speak the same language, and you’re not an American. Of course you can understand them. It’s fine. You’re smiling and nodding. You must know what they’re talking about. See? Fine.
We had this dog.
Here’s some poetic preambulation: his name was Higgins, and he was a liver-spotted Dalmatian.
If you’ve never encountered that particular variety of the creature
Think regular Dalmatian – except instead of black, the spots are sort of…bleachier. He was white and brown.
He was a good dog.
Anyway, as a kid I was so enamoured with this fellow and his dots
I’d drag him to a mud puddle and paint on extra spots.
He just stood there patiently in a state of canine zen
– put a spot over here, or two, or ten –
thoroughly untroubled by human cares
And although he never, ever, ever quite managed to figure out where your voice was coming from when you called him from upstairs
He was a good dog. He wasn’t bright
But he was a good dog.
back when he was a tiny wriggly puppy he’d squirmed out from the back of a moving car
and he’d had to be rescued from the middle of a busy freeway
Now although, in the circumstances, his survival was really nothing short of miraculous
Forevermore his walk was stiff and his brain was somewhat…vacuous.
We loved him.
When Higgins and I were both in our teens, I had spots as well
But whilst puberty was making my life a living hell
He had entered his autumn years. He was a happy dog,
pottering around (unable to ever figure out the source of a non-immediate sound)
in dementia’s increasingly thick fog
but he was cared for
and he was content.
He liked routine. Of course he did. Most old men do.
The vital, self-evident truths of being that in his heart he knew
and how to go for a walk.
Every morning, my mother took him the same way – so in his mind
that’s just. how things. were done.
afternoon a schoolfriend left the gate ajar
our old man vanished.
It wasn’t like him. But before our search had gotten very far
before my mother had even had the time to properly visualise poor Higgins writhing in a ditch in agony after being hit by a particularly violent non-fuel efficient car
he was back
collected from a woman living several blocks away
who spotted him winding through the same streets she saw him on each day
and thought to herself: perhaps he shouldn’t be out.
faced with the prospect of an open gate
Something had clicked: Higgins had thought – wait.
If that thing’s open… there’s something I should be doing. Something…outside…
And he’d mustered up a determined (if slightly rickety) stride
and taken himself off on his officially designated path
With grim determination best described as dogged
He’d retraced all the miles he’d ever…logg-ed.
A few months more, and he was getting older faster
He wouldn’t eat much. His appetite was there
but his teeth and gums rather suddenly didn’t fare
too well against proper food
My uncle the vet
advised us gently that the sun would shortly set.
Oh, give him a few weeks, we couldn’t help but wheedle
Just wait a month – perhaps we ought, before we resort to the finality of the needle
After all, his tail still wags, he trots about
We can always mash his food before we set it out.
Now, at the time
The inevitable demise of a geriatric Dalmatian was not the most dramatic thing that had been
occurring to the family at number nineteen
My parents weren’t happy, and there had been fighting
I might just point out here that as at the time of writing
It’s been 15 amicable years since they split
And the idea of them having been married at all is a bit
So if the whole impending broken home thing makes you sad
– well, you’re a sweetheart, bless you –
But everyone was much, much happier afterwards
so don’t let it distress you.
Anyway. There was a bit of shouting going on
it was Saturday, at lunch time, and all of the fresh bread was gone
So Mum was multitasking
by pulling some from the freezer whilst arguing with my father
I don’t know what it was about, but I do know
That in a moment of frustration she threw the icy bag of wholemeal sliced down the stairs below
And fueled by anger at her soon-to-be former spouse
the loaf landed
in the zone
to those who live in Queenslanders as
And there, with the washing machine and the tools and the potter’s table from my mother’s craft phase and my old dollhouse and this weird bit of concreting that was quite fun to skateboard down because for some reason it was on a slope
There stood the dog for whom we had given up much hope.
And an odd thing happened. The second that bread hit the ground
he started eating it
And the argument trailed off
and everyone just stood there watching Higgins scoff
with the enthusiasm of an tiger rarely fed
He devoured the lot
and looked around for more
and my parents smiled as they worked it out – the cold had soothed his jaw
It seemed that Higgins need not yet be killed
After all, he could manage any food now, so long as it was extra chilled.
It bought him some time, a few more good weeks
But you get to the point where you stop and you think: that’s it. He’s not having fun
Or at least not enough to avoid what must be done.
I’m making it sound like I had a say, or that I made some sort of mature decision
I didn’t: I was fourteen
everything my parents said provoked derision
I wanted Higgins to stay
But I did understand why he couldn’t. Okay.
As I said, my uncle was the vet
So, fortunately, we didn’t have the trauma of loading up our pet
into the car for that final journey
No, it was to be a civilised affair
and we would bury him in the backyard.
Look, I won’t pretend it isn’t sad
to hang around and watch your dad
digging a hole in which to put the canine buffoon
who is tottering happily around the yard
wagging his tail at the proceedings
and generally having a pleasant afternoon.
The grave was finished. Was it time?
A soothing cup of tea – and then
the arrival of Uncle Ken
and all the while the mood on the veranda was grim
and heavy with delay
It was not a good day.
But poor, stupid Higgins, wandering around
listening to our voices, but baffled as to the source of the sound
lost his footing
He stood there, uninjured, looking up
not entirely sure where he was, but cheerful
while the rest of us were fraught.
My Uncle Ken is a practical sort
‘I could just do it here’ he said
‘It does look like he’s fairly keen.’
I don’t mean
to make my family sound at all cruel
but looking down at that liver spotted fool
standing happily in his own grave
someone started to laugh.
I don’t know who was first
but it spread
and the terrible, sombre mood shifted
and the dog who would be imminently dead
from his tomb
and put back in.
Maybe none of these things were ever funny
maybe they were only ever sad
but I’m glad
we knew that stupid, lovely fellow
And I’d like to thank him for the gifts.
Oh, he didn’t know what he was doing:
but just think of it: in remembering the day I realised that my parents’ marriage was dead
I also have this happy thought about a dog eating a piece of bread
and the memory of the day my childhood pet died
well, that doesn’t pass
without me laughing at his final hours descending into poorly written sitcom farce.
So here’s to Higgins. A good dog.
He wasn’t bright.
But somehow he could make things
just a bit less
Filed under: Miscellanea
Pickled Red Cabbage
There is no such thing as a bad pickle. HAHAHAHA LOL J/K. This whole goddamn island is obsessed with taking perfectly good food and sticking too much sugar in it. This tastes pretty much exactly like fresh honey and lemon. Only with cabbage in it. And the cabbage is very, very red. 1/5
Two shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam. Iced, and given a glace cherry or jelly sweet for a nipple. Ah, biscuit nipples. Never change. I don’t even like shortbread, but I would fight a bear for an Empire Biscuit and a nice cup of tea. Alright, I wouldn’t actually fight a bear, but I’d definitely heavily insinuate that I was prepared to if only I could have an Empire Biscuit (and a nice cup of tea) beforehand to give me the necessary strength. I wouldn’t lie exactly. 5/5
Hey, guys! You know what this roast dinner needs? Something with a bit of carbohydrate heft that’ll go with gravy. NO, Terry, potatoes won’t do. I mean, yeah, they’re delicious, and yeah, they fulfill all the requirements, but I’m thinking maybe I should just cook some batter with no flavour to it whatsoever. Yeah, I might do that. Foiled again, Terry*. 2.5/5
I like to think that these are what would happen to Twisties if they grew up. They’d get over that stupid cheese phase, grow out their pimply teenage moustache into a powerful beard and start experimenting with more intense flavours like Pickled Onion and Scampi & Lemon. I’d be all ‘Where have you been all my life?’ and then we’d ride off on a corn snack motorcycle. 4.5/5
Vegemite with sugar in it. Seriously, fuck you, Britain. 0/5
* Terry is a very funny name.