Friday, 30 September 2011

Des Hasler's Hair - The Mane Event.

"Given Des's age and position, I'd probably suggest he's look better with the short back and sides"
 - Celebrity hair dresser Joh Bailey: 'Joh Distressed by Des's Tresses, Daily Telegraph, Wednesday. 

Is this the low point of the grand final coverage? Hardly. That rasping sound you hear, though? That's the Tele scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I didn't know Joh Bailey was still *ahem*, relevant, but since he so obviously is I feel I have to give pause to the fact that I instinctively dislike anyone with a deliberately misspelt 'distinguishing' name. Jodhi Packer/Mears? BITCH PLEASE! Sixty-five percent of those born since 1995? WE GET IT, YOU'RE A UNIQUE AND GIFTED INDIVIDUAL BOUND FOR THE WORLD STAGE. Or a shelf-stacking job at Big W. If i were a cat I would arch my back and hiss and stalk away from the offending name / bearer of name with my tail in the air and my asshole exposed. As a human, however, it is all I can do to roll my eyes and smirk, which is far less effective and yet another sad reminder of how much happier I would be if I were a cat and thus able to indulge my bitchiest instincts on a permanent and consequence-free basis. There's always old age to look forward to, but the oppurtunity is wasted somewhat, isn't it, when no one cares enough to listen / change your incontinence pad?

As it stands, I have no problem ridiculing and reprinting Bailey's searing, saucer-of-milk insights, and no problem with the knowledge that this makes me even more squalid and base and parasitic than those I deride. Make no mistake; I have a healthy grasp of the food chain and my place in it. The unpleasant realisation that I am - we are - on the edge of the off-season abyss is too terrible to bear thinking about right now so I am committed to keeping my snout buried in the tabloid's trough for as long as I possibly can. Still, let's pause a moment and reflect on Ellsworth Toohey - from The Fountainhead?
" 'You're a maggot, Elsie', she told him once. 'You feed on sores.' 'Then I'll never starve,' he answered."
This is a perfect piece of dialogue. He is a tabloid maggot, and what a wonderfully grotesque and familiar image. Tabloid hacks take note -  we may gobble your swill but we know which way the wind blows. Remember this.

Joh Bailey says that Des's hair looks genuinely unkempt and uncared for. Quelle Horreur!
"It's not as bad as a mullet, but it's getting there".
Huh? A mullet? Whatever, dick. But then, just as Bailey's inane comments grip me with the wincing pain of a miagrane, the next line offers redemption; swift and sweet:
"As for his thoughts on Warriors coach Ivan Cleary's do, Bailey said it was pretty bland and 'neither good nor bad' "
Wow. Way to nail Cleary's neither-here-nor-there 'personality' in just a few short words, Bailey. Is it possible I had you all wrong? Probably not, no, but props all the same.

On Cleary; and upon further inspection and several hours of not particularly restful reflection, it's come to mind that the man has that look about him most commonly seen in people who find themselves with something nasty in their mouth, in polite company, which excludes them from spitting it out with instinctive, explosive immediacy. Doesn't he look for all the world like he's - with glacial subtlety - using his tongue to roll a slightly rancid oyster from cheek to cheek? He just always looks.....faintly repulsed. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry and George would hasten to stress, it's just very unsettling, is all. Inscrutable people usually are though - and don't they fucking know it. Scrutinise this! *grabs handful of crotch*

So. Today the AFL, Sunday the NRL. My boss asked me who did I reckon for this weekend -
"who'd reckon for this weekend?"
 and when I asked him his code or mine -
"your code or mine?"
he said Ohh, right, you watch that other game don't you?, and flailed both his arms in the air as if he were summoning some higher power; a rain god perhaps, or Peter Garrett. This struck me as strange because I would think that between the two codes, surely AFL would be better represented, visually I mean, by a sudden, epileptic-esque arm waving interpretive dance move than NRL. Right? They do all that leaping and twirling and prancing already, it's really not that much of a stretch. What the fuck arm-waving do they do in league? NONE. Yet another reason why it is a far superior game, just quietly.

Anyway, mere trifles. I told him I thought the Cats might have it -
"I think the Cats might have it"
 and he said by-god he thought I might be right -
"by-god I think you might be right!" 
and we went on to have a lucid and reciprocal conversation about why we thought this was so and afterwards I was lightly troubled and strangely pleased, in equal parts, by the realisation that I had never sounded so Victorian in all my life. More so because we also talked about the Deni Ute Muster and I sort of, uh, enthused over it.

Plus, earlier, we had also shared this exchange:
- "Creeping Jesus isn't here yet - I fucken told him to come."
- "Creeping Jesus."
- "WHO?"
- "Yeh that's what I thought you said."
The fuck??!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

five reasons to hold off killing yourself until after the weekend

People - myself included, hence the blog - are prone to talking a lot of shit. It's what separates us from the dumb beasts. We are still dumb beasts, mind, but we have A LOT OF NOTHING TO SAY AND IT'S ALL TERRIBLY IMPORTANT. This has become fabulously apparent during this bloated September sports schedule. If September were a person it would be spread-eagled across a sofa with loosened pants - like you do after Christmas lunch? Yes, plenty of sport this September, which means miles and miles of newspaper copy picking over the excruciating miniature of every possible angle and also the conjuring up of some impossible angles, too. It's rich, superlative-ridden stuff and it makes for great reading if you're that way inclined.

I was sailing along happily, having dismissed the grand final's significance with a lazy hand swat and a scornful head toss ("Manly? Auckland? Pooh!") until I read some (thirty or forty odd) articles and found my indifference dissolving faster than a Sunday morning aspirin. Really, if seeing photos of Steve Matai projected onto the Harbour Bridge doesn't razz you up you need to check your pulse and your priorities, because it was an arresting and stirring sight. Bigger than God, and with better hair!

So. Sunday's Grand Final. Yes, it's Manly vs New Zealand, and no, you can't spin a silk purse out of a sow's ear but there's still good stuff to be had here. It just requires some rifling through the rubble of having one team everone hates and one team no one cares about in the grand final. I am happy to do that rifling. Here's what I've found.

1. Shaun Johnson vs Daly Cherry-Evans.

Everyone is getting plenty of froth and lather up over the fact that the game could well come down to a battle between these two rookie halfbacks, and that earlier this year Johnson was playing in the NSW cup - having now only played 15 first grade matches - while a year ago Cherry-Evans was playing in the QLD cup. Everyone is also excited over Johnson's razzle-dazzle. He shows-and-goes! He steps! He jinks! He's Stacey Jones, Andrew Johns, and Benji Marshall! Especially Benji Marshall! He does seem to have some of the mercurial Marshall magic. I know, I YouTubed him. He also has a lovely baby face - it's Ferris Bueller-esque. Also get this; he has never played against Manly before. There's something sweetly thrilling about all this. However. If your tastes don't run to baby faced Kiwi boys it will still be worth tuning in purely to see the head on Cherry-Evans. It's pin-esque. Yes, he is a pin head of the highest order. All pin heads are great - Novak Jokovich is especially awesome - but Cherry-Evans is particularly amusing because his pin head sits atop a disproportionately thick and muscular neck. It's remarkable really. In addition to this, he is a very sweetly spoken and well-mannered young man, which is nice. Lastly, he's a pretty okay player too. I mean, he makes everyone he plays against his bitch, so if that's more to your taste you should definitely watch.

2. Manly vs David Gallop.

This is actually deeply unpleasant, this business. Distasteful. The fact that two years of animosity between the NRL boss and Brett Stewart threatens to boil over on Sunday - and by 'boil over' I obviously mean that Stewart may well lose his barely-held-together shit during the official presentation and go postal on Gallop - is a disgrace and YES I DO FEEL LIKE ALAN JONES WHEN I USE THE WORD DISGRACE WHILE WORKING MYSELF INTO A TOWERING RAGE. God. This is why I try to avoid talking about this fued - it inflames my righteous ire to talkback radio-like proportions. Anyways. The possibility that this might actually happen on Sunday is not too far removed from the realm of reality due to the increasingly undeniable fact that Brett Stewart himself is now so far removed from the realm of reality. God help the guy. Nobody else can.

3 Manu Vatuvei.

He made his gold teeth by melting down his grandmother's gold rings, he rocks a rat's tail like in a way that only one other man in the NRL can and he employs a ghetto-fabulous finger-waggle as his try-celebration of choice - what's not to love? Nothing! There is nothing not to love about Manu! He's Manu, muhfuggers!

4. Des Hasler vs Ivan Cleary.

This is night to day, sweet to sour, Betty to Veronica type stuff. While Des Hasler turns into a raving, head-set abusing piece of meat while encased in the coach's box, Ivan Cleary sits sphinx-like in stony, poker faced silence. Both are equally unnerving. The difference here is that outside the high-pressure confines of the coach's box Cleary is as humourless and hollow-eyed as Dessie is gruff and flinty and endearing. I love a man of few words but I just cannot abide Ivan Cleary. He is reptilian and glacial and when he does speak it sounds like he swallowed a computer manual at some key point in his development. Des Hasler, on the other hand, gives charmingly off-kilter interviews, rips doors off their hinges when his team plays badly and has that ever so slightly threatening air that those of us with an unreconstructed wish to be thrown over a man's shoulder find appealing. Plus, he has that fabulous, incredible mane of hair. He's basically the Paddle-Pop Lion. So, hands down, he's already won. Worth watching to see his hysterics in the box, though. 

5. Mnaly vs Everybody Else.

Rugby league is a tribal game. Less so nowadays, but still, it's why we love it. Manly make out like they understand and embrace this fundamental fact but I'm not entirely convinced they do. You know that old thing of there being two teams to support; your own, and whoever happens to be playing Manly? The Manly club and Manly fans over on the insular peninsula have always claimed to pride themselves on being that team that everybody hates but the slightest suggestion that it might actually be true sets their insecurities aflame to such an extent that we have this untidy saga of resentment and hostility slowly unfolding over two seasons and showing no signs of abating. Stewart, you deadeyed dumbshit, you were suspended for four matches - TWO YEARS AGO - for getting trollyed at your season launch. Let it go, for chrissakes. Write it on a piece of paper, if you can manage that, tie it to a balloon, release the balloon into the sky and LET IT THE FUCK GO. Enough already! It just really grinds my gears, y'know?

Obviously, then, I can't possibly go for Manly on Sunday. Football blinds me to my principles but even I have limits.

Okay. There's my five reasons, picked from the rubble, to watch the game on Sunday.
Do with them what you will coz come Monday you're on your own again.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Todd Carney vs The Whole Horse-Meat World

"Terry, you keep fucking up. You can't drink when you are medicated, you know that. It would also be nice if you showed some remorse for those you brutalise. Including your mother."
- extract from a Bukowski letter, July 2, 1992*.

Toddy, honey, we need to talk. It's about the hat. That....flat cap....thing. It's not working for me. It's not working for you, either. I just saw some photos of you wearing it last week and I required a cold compress on my head for 45 minutes afterwards. Never mind the nocturnal pursuits that lure you into the streets, to my mind it is this diabolical cap that is your greatest fuck-up thus far. Here is a piece of sartorial advice that I urge all men to heed: unless you are in a Guy Richie film, or are Guy Richie himself, you should not be wearing a flat cap.

Moving on. That expression: "a loose cannon"? I believe Todd Carney is the literal, human embodiment of this term right now. Without a club to play for next season he has minimal earthly significance, no responsibilities and no one to tell him to pull his fool head in. Of course, the records show that Toddy hasn't done so well with the pesky 'responsibility' part of being in a team in the past. This is a problem, I suppose. Haywire brilliance is all well and good but team sports require a near total suppression of rebellious natures and acts. The NRL is no place for a lone wolf, and the world in general is a terribly cruel place for the chronically maladjusted. More specifically; Sydney's Eastern suburbs? Sweet Jesus, bitch is up against the blade - and for those of us up against the blade there's no winning - it's just a grim and trembling onward shove.

Richocheting around Sydney like a rogue, renegade cannon is a bad look, then. This much is clear. What club is going to hear about him getting into a fight in Double Bay on Wednesday or kicking the crap out of an apartment complex's garbage bins after a session in the Cross on Sunday and think "Fuck yeh, train wrecks are GO - we want someone who is singularly committed to blazing a drunken and destructive path - SIGN THAT SHIT UP." No. Not even teams with train wreck boards themselves ('sup Parra! Hola Dogs!) will want a piece of this particular brand of carnage. It's seen as unseemly, unfortunately. Wrong era, rah rah rah... Toddy, I'm trapped in the 21st Century too you know. The walls surround us both. We just gotta hold. Hold, hold, hold.

See what I've done here - insinuated myself squarely into Toddy's psychic strain? Like, it's Toddy and me holding steady versus the whole shifting tilting hostile horse-meat world??  Well, what the hell. Don't we spend our whole lives trying to recruit others to our version of reality? Existential angst shared is existential angst halved, or some such shit. Right? Right, Toddy?..... Toddy? I think I lost him at the hat. Did I ever even have him? So many questions, no easy answers...

*Now. Turning back to Buk. Later in his letter to Terry he says 
"I shouldn't lecture you. I don't particularly believe in morals but I do believe in kindness. It's a good thing."
This is a lovely and gentle thing to say, considering that in the following letter in the volume he writes to someone else
"Just wrote a friend at the violent ward of a Texas mental hospital. His latest is that he pulled the hair off of a blonde girl. But he writes asking if it is proper to use a comma after a parentheses. Says Norman Mailer does. I told him that it all depens upon the construction of the sentence. I hope that calms him somewhat."

Thursday, 22 September 2011

This Must Be The Place

I see dead people. Most of them are still alive.

The supermarkets were brightly lit, and the music that was piped in freaked us out.

It's been a long time since the old days
Back in the time when our personalities had not yet crystallised.

Back where you belong.

<this aint no holiday>

This blog is the couch I stretch on
This blog is my fifty minute hour.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Muscular Menace...Luke Lewis

A hot and savage wind roared through my house yesterday and dislodged three Todd Carney pictures I had hanging in the kitchen. I found two on the floor and one in my cats' water dish. Coincidence? Or something more suggestive, perhaps -  the terrible truth that perhaps Toddy lacks moral substance and fortitude? I mean, I have pictures of several others - Dugan, and Joel Monaghan, and Braith Anasta with his brain about to leak out of his face - and they didn't blow down at the slightest hint of a change in the weather, did they*?

*Upon closer inspection and a degree of overnight reflection, that was well out of order. Forgive me my vague air of futility, Toddy, and go forth on your journey toward a higher realm. It's can get tiring, this business of supporting you. Lonely. too. *Reassembles public face*...  Don't mind me and my psychic strain.

So. Moving right along, Luke Lewis, that big blonde behemoth, said the other day that he would welcome Toddy "with open arms". So would I, Luke, so would I.

I can't be sure but I assume he was talking about the possibility of Toddy going to the Panthers. Sweet baby Jesus. Wouldn't that be something. I don't think I much like the idea. I can't imagine Gus Gould would either, thankfully. No, Penrith is no place for the likes of Toddy. It's a fucking no-man's land out there; a veritable wasteland - even by my not-exactly-lofty standards. One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist but, honestly, Penrith is no place for a ressurection. It's a place for Everlast athletic gear and corned beef sandwiches and enormous leagues clubs that warrant their own postcodes. The best thing for Toddy to do now is to get aboard the Cronulla train and ride it hard, all stops to redemption. YES. DO THAT.

Still, what a lovely sentiment from Luke Lewis. Further proof that men who bite their beer bottles open are far more capable of warm hearted sentiment than your garden-variety quiche eating nancy.

Luke Lewis has that disconcerting blend of menace and charm about him. It's indefinable, which makes it all the more arresting. Alls I can say is that he carries a perpetual aura of faintly muscular menace. I think it's hotter than a Saigon summer, but you're welcome to draw your own conclusions.

Also, I think I once described him on here as the type of man who would spend his downtime sprawled on patio furniture with one nut hanging out of his shorts. Or did I just think that? I can't be sure; such is the blurring of the lines. Anyway as it happens he has a very well dressed and stylish wife. She was my pick for best dressed at the Dally M's. That's right, Jodi Gordon, not you - you heard. Inexpicably, there is no photo of her from this year. Last year, yes. Close enough.

He looked both sun scorched and sweetly absurd in his suit - show me a footballer who doesn't - but she was lovely and languid and cool as a cold drink in a tall glass on a hot day. Despite this, I still stand by my earlier assertion in regards to her husband, and the vivid image I conjured up for myself - oddly pleasing to my mind's nasty eye.

Wait, what? I intended this to be a retrospective look at Toddy's time at the Roosters, what is this westerly direction I have veered in and why do I kind of like it out here? L'Obscuritee! Christ. Ima stay here among the weed strewn backblocks until I sufficiently pull myself together enough to return for that Roosters retrospective, although to what end one can now only shudder to imagine.........

Small Crosses.

1. I'm working Modays to Fridays. This is so incredibly civilised I can scarcely believe it. Still, I can't see myself ever turning into one of those people who await Friday nights with tragic, terrible fanaticism, but if you don't get out much Friday nights are pretty null and void no matter what schedule you keep. 

I leave home at the same time sharp every morning. Not because I have a rigid start-time - I don't - but because I am happiest when running a tight ship. I negotiate the kangaroo and koala-strewn road encased in my metallic womb and most mornings I pass two other men, similarly encased in their metallic wombs, both heading in the opposite direction. The way I imagine it, all three of us are on keel, up on our own small crosses, running to our own small schedules. We wave to each other, by way of lazily lifting a partially stiffened index finger some way off our steering wheels. I just love this. Two and a half cups of coffee and this small ritual of the road five mornings a week go a long way toward steadying my psyche. And I appreciate the gentle reminder that although I am at the centre of my world, it is not the only world.

2. My boss has taken it upon himself to screen potential men for me. He doesn't know it yet but he has no idea what he's got himself into. Terminal tiredness and decay will creep into his eyes over the course of the next month or two, forcing him to abandon the cause. In the interim, though, I am enjoying his particular and peculiar brand of insights. He is a hatchet faced 55 year old Collingwood fanatic, so on paper, at least, he is highly qualified. Even so, it won't last. As it stands he's already working overtime to keep those he deems undesirable at bay.

I mentioned that I make a relatively relaxed girlfriend (I lied) but that my car is extremely needy and high maintenance so maybe a mechanically minded man would be best. Him: "Oh yeah?"  Me: "Yeah. Bear it in mind."

This has been going on for the last week or two. Today was notable for two reasons. The first was that I got caught in a violent downpour and had to take off my pants and drive home in my drawers, and the second was this exchange, between me and my boss:

-"That new guy hasn't been over here sniffing round has he?"
-"Who? I haven't seen anyone"
-"Good. He keeps saying 'who's that nice blonde girl' and asking to go next to you and I said 'YOU STAY AWAY FROM HER!'"
-"I haven't seen him"
-"Keep it that way. You'll wish you hadn't"

Afterwards it occured to me, (not for the first time), that I really do prefer my interactions with people to be fleeting and brief. The fact that the exchange of raised index fingers between myself and several strangers, both encased in metal chambers and both heading in opposite physical directions nourishes me and helps me hold against the tide attests to this.

Glazed eyes, the shame of unlived lives and the lying dullness tend not to show through windscreens when you're driving at speed.

Keep the pedal to the metal.
Drive on, straight on. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Lockyer Breaks His Face, Nightingale Breaks His Shorts, I Break Down

When you don't believe in anything much it can be tough to find yourself a moving spectacle to indulge in. Emotional kicks? You learn to seize them wherever you can, and you learn to forget the source. Sometimes you cheapen yourself doing it. You learn not to care.

Darren Lockyer running out of the tunnel for the last time ever at Suncorp stadium to be greeted by 50,000 rabid Queenslanders dead-set losing their motherfucking MINDS? Yep, that'll do it.

Football! The direct emotional payoff! People pay good money for emotional explosions of this calibre!

So Locky fanned the flames of my emotional fires - made me cry, in other words. So, this was to be the first sign of trouble. I recognise this now.

As for Locky; well, you know that guy Jesus? And how he's rumoured to be returning any day now? Well that stadium full of people were going apeshit on a level that not even Jesus' much-talked-about return would garner. My mind is still subject to haunting, anueristic flashes of dozens of strobe-like images from the third Origin game and I expect they will stay with me for a good while yet - pain's funny like that - so I was unprepared for having my stuffing spilt all over the place and raked over by one Queenslander, let alone by 50,000 of the bastards going fucking bananas. The entire stadium was one big, heaving human seizure, such was their rapture. Obviously, since I enjoy the sight of of free and unadulterated public outpourings of football-based emotion, I found it to be a highly enjoyable and altogether satisfying spectacle. So much so that I joined in, as it were. From my couch. At 6:30 in the morning. And what a fine morning it was.

As the game wore on I grew terribly tense. This was curious. I have no emotional attachment to either team - unless you count actually disliking them both as emotional attachment, and I suppose there's a strong case for that - but in any case I was verging on the kind of mounting hysteria that causes good people to do bad things -  set fire to their bedrooms, for instance, or hurl a car battery through their neighbour's window - that kind of thing. Curious.

In terms of the actual game, three things happened.

The first was that Jason Nightingale lost his shorts. Like, had the elastic ripped clean out of them. When he recovered from the tackle he realised this soon enough - by which I mean he tried to gather them up only for them to fall straight down. It was very vaudeville; moreso even when he stepped out of them and discarded them - just tossed them over the sideline and stood there free and easy in his navy jocks. It was fabulous. The crowd certainly thought so, because they went fucking ballistic for it. If it had been Ben Hornby in those nasty-ass flesh coloured Spanx; or anyone else who considers modesty and/or the possibility of chaff to be of greater concern that we the public's amusement and/or perviness it wouldn't have been nearly as notable. As it was the whole incident was highly notable. The channel Nine camera crew obviously concured because we were treated to several lingering replays while a trainer scurried over with a fresh pair of fully-elasticised shorts. The whole incident was as refreshing as an autumnal walk in the countryside and left me considering compiling an index - a dossier if you will - of players who still wear jocks.

The second thing that happened was that towards the end of the game, when it was getting very intense and fierce, Justin Hodges ran in and put a tackle on Josh Morris as he lay inert and twitching on the grass with a broken ankle, surrounded by a posse of concerned Dragons who had gathered to bear witness to his pain. Morris had folded like a lawn chair, in other words. Nevermind. Hodges cares not for small matters of injury and decency. Which is nice.

The third thing was that Locky done did got his face all broked up about fifteen minutes out from the end and PAYED ON - INTO GOLDEN POINT NO LESS - AND BOOTED THE FIELD GOAL THAT WON THE BRONCOS THE GAME. Astonishing. I believe that it was a potent demonstration of those things they call guts and courage, although I can't be sure since terminal overuse of such terms has rendered them kind of null and void.

I've never received a flying knee to the face, but this one time I stubbed my toe and found the pain to be so great that I promptly passed out, which was foolish of me because if it was relief that my body was seeking it was unlikely to be found by striking the back of my head against a floor paved with river-rocks. In light of my inherent wimpiness I find the fact that Locky came to, waved away the trainers gathered over him with no small amount of irritation, clambered to his feet and kept playing - pausing periodically to push his loosely flapping and rapidly swelling jaw back up in the general direction of THE REST OF HIS FACE to be all the more astonishing.

More so afterwards; when I find out that he was whisked away to have three titanium plates put into his face, which by all accounts currently mirrors the appearance of a smashed crab. And even more so when I read that he has already pooh-poohed the medical advice warning him of the possibility of losing his eyesight by taking the field on Friday by declaring quote "I WILL PLAY" unquote.

That sound you hear right now, like an opera overture? That's Locky's performance gaining mythical proportions and going straight down into NRL folklore.  And that swelling in your throat? That's that direct emotional payoff I was talking about earlier - not bad, huh?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Canberra - Feel the Burn.

A chemical fire in Canberra is sending a toxic plume of black smoke over the city.
There is no city better suited to a Toxic Airborne Event. There is also no city better suited to a good razing.
Burn. Burn like the eyes of a vengeful god.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Wild Colonial Carney: SADDLE UP

Football, god love it, is a morality tale without the morality.

Just as the unnerving thought that Todd Carney may not be playing rugby league AT ALL next year was beginning to take hold there came the news this morning that the Cronulla Sharks are circling him. This is fantastic. The news excited me so much that I can't remember how I got to work. I assume I drove, but such was my elation that I have no recollection whatsoever. Goddamn you Toddy, see the hold you have over me? I told you, it's over. Release me from your kung fu grip!

Nobody is better (or worse, depending on how you choose to view it) suited to the Shire than Toddy. If he can't be in Canberra, shit, why not Cronulla? My entire family - ON BOTH SIDES - come from the Shire - most notably my renegade mother and her "Rules are for fools" father. He dropped dead of a heart attack upon exiting the water after smashing out a vigourous set of laps in one of Cronulla's sea baths right there on the beach, how's that for living and breathing the Shire?

I was having a hard time believing the line that the NRL were not fighting like dogs over the carcass of Carney's career. As it turns out, they are. Just, y'know, behind closed doors, which is where everything worthwhile and important takes place (except for Toddy's drinking and the machinations of Manly's board, apparently).

Anyway. Cronulla. This is a great fit for Toddy, great fit. Say what you will about them, those Eastern suburbs really do require a certain proclivity for pretension. This is a fundamental truth that even Greg Inglis recognised, and he's a knob from way back - he drove Choc Mundine's hummer home to Kempsey for Christmas last year for chrissakes! Even so, G.I. grasped this truth and moved away from Bondi as soon as he could - and if this was a strategic move to almost make me like him all I can say is well played G.I., well played. For extra points, get this: He moved into some kind of estate filled with cretinous people who know nothing of league and quickly became the neighbourhood go-to man for carrying out all minor household repairs for the weak, the elderly, the inept and the lazy. Way to expose and destabilise my increasingly irrational dislike for you G.I...prick.

Now. Paul Gallan as mentor, let's talk about that. He's lovely, isn't he? Hasn't he come into his own beautifully? Other than that small matter of stomping on someone's head a few months ago, which we will put down to him still being tired and emotional in the Origin aftermath and never speak of again, he has been a model of stolid, bovine obedience this season. Putting his meaty paw in the air (coz you just know that's how it went down at Sharks HQ) and offering to mentor Toddy just ices the cake in terms of his inherent awesomeness. Wait, is that last sentence too wimpy? I think so. Gal doesn't ice the cake; he puts his fist through the cake, he takes his clothes off and he shits on the cake, BITCH. Better?

It is for this reason (directly above) that I think Toddy will flourish under Gal's leadership. If anyone is going to be able to reign in the Wild Colonial Boy Carney while still allowing him to retain the semi-wild glint in his eye it's Gal. And there's something strangely affecting about Gal offering to shine a light into Toddy's dimmer parts. Gal gives me an inexplicably serene, tranquil feeling. I imagine he'd smell like fabric softener. In short, this is a man Toddy needs in his life.

Also, Toddy; pale blue, black and white will be way better against your complexion. You was way too ruddy for that red and navy, even when you weren't on the sauce. 

Saddle up, Toddy. Get 'em.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

My Mother: Who's He? I like Him. Me: Lil Wayne.

My mother looked at ToddBlog and told me that she likes the look of Lil Wayne. This struck me as absurd for a minute because her taste in men runs more toward the Jeremy Irons end of the spectrum but then I remembered that my mum is the original rebel. She is, like, a fucking rebel in the truest and purest sense of the word. There's no posing, no posturing, and no Ramones t-shirts. Just an instinctive intolerance for rules and enough nerve to act upon her intolerance. Daily. Every.Fucking.Day. Rules? She cares not for rules.

She inherited it from her father. I never met him. One of his favourite expressions was "rules are for fools - wisemen follow guidelines", and he used to employ this phrase when people would pull him up for breaking rules - overtaking slow drivers on the shoulders of roads, for example. Apparently he used to do that a lot.

During the war he cut off a man's leg underwater. The man was trapped in the sea, his leg was stuck. There was a doctor but he couldn't swim so it fell on him to amputate it. The doctor gave him some rudimentary instructions and he had to dive down under the water and hack off the leg. He freed the man but he died anyway. After all the wars he became a barrister. He used his wig case to carry fruit to and from court. Pears were his favourite.

Anyway, with this in my mother's genes is it any wonder that photo of Lil Wayne leaving prison wearing a huge grin and sucking on a cigar struck her as pretty awesome? No, no it is not.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Ayn Rand & Bain Maries

Bain-maries. I love them for what they are and I love them for what they house. I also love the word and try to insinuate it into my conversations and writing whenever I can. Same goes for lazy Susans, although they are more of a challenge. I don't eat Chinese because it's all pork and duck or other things that had parents so my life is strangely devoid of anecdotes involving me spinning a lazy Susan too fast and strewing dumplings about at the Sporties. So if you hear me recounting one you'll know that I'm lying like a rug. Or like Ricky Nixon whenever he opens his ugly mouth.

However. Yesterday I stopped in at this strange truckstop to get gas. It was a bonanza of retro. A girl came rushing over to PUMP MY GAS FOR ME - IMAGINE!! So unprepared was I for this that I eyed her approach with outright suspicion. (But I'm not paranoid. Who said I was paranoid?)

When I went inside to pay - because the girl had wandered off to flirt with a boy in a Skyline who looked like Jesse Pinkman circa season 1 of Breaking Bad - I was asked how much I had. "What, like in litres?" I asked, brow furrowed like a field. No, not in litres. Turned out I was expected to come in with the exact amount I owed on the tip of my tongue. I know. I thought this practice went out with the Whitlam government. Anyway, it gave me the opportunity, while trotting out to check the pump, to notice a bain-marie squatting in the corner. I don't know how I missed it, since it weilded a sweaty, salty and altogether holy command over the room.

It's hard to believe but I know a lot of people who don't actually like bain-maries or bain-marie food. Weird. On the other hand I have a friend who sees bain-marie foodstuffs as one of God's singular greatest gifts to man. "Mmmmmmm...deep fried treats..." is pretty much his catch phrase, and when he says it a glazed, reverential look comes into his eye. Also, he drools.

So I saw the Bain-marie, stopped short, and said "give me two of those potato scallops there Flo" because a) she looked like a Flo and b) because we had struck up something of a rapport due to what she perceived to be my inherent idiocy what with not knowing the correct payment proceedure and all. I also told her to add plenty of salt, which is my standard request, and that was where it all went awry and deviated dramatically from the script, because she gestured to the top of the Bain-marie and said "help yourself". HELP YOURSELF!!! What the shit, Flo?!!

Empires have fallen for less.

You get so used to being all coddled and swaddled and treated like a fucking incompetent and untrustworthy pin-number possessing piece of meat that experiences like this are just jarring.

I've just finished reading The Fountainhead, too, so the whole 'help yourself' notion resonated in my Ayn Rand- filled head like one of those Oriental gongs ringing out really, really loudly in the pre-dawn air of a still and sleeping valley.

So I mean, honestly, what the shit? Today helping yourself to salt, tomorrow the implementation of individualism and the triumph of Howard Roarks the world over?

The Fountainhead looks at the chronic, unconfessed fear in which we all live and is basically a rollicking, 700 page manifesto outlining just how repulsive Ayn Rand finds the concept of servility of the spirit. Fair play, too, at least theoretically. Definitely fair play in the practice of allowing me to administer my own salt and such. The abolition of the entire welfare system and every other economic and social safety net in existence? Not so much. In any case this was not my concern yesterday.

Ten years ago I found a broken up paperback copy of The Fountainhead lying in three pieces around the communal campsite (I believe the correct word for it in this instance is 'slum', but you say tomato etc etc) I was living in on the outskirts of a North Queensland town. I had no job and there was a hammock strung between two tamarind trees and once I found The Fountainhead my unemployment, the hammock and the book collided and synergised and I spent four or five days installed in said hammock stoned beyond all comprehension and just fucking gripped by this audacious book. My friends would start trickling home from their jobs around two each day and they would nod and say things like "still at it, eh?" as they eased themselves into the ripped out car seats that were sprawled around the place like gutted hogs and I would grunt and hang my foot out of the hammock to nudge the bowl across the ground toward them without missing a beat of the book. I was a bum yes, although in my defense its also a really, really good book, okay?!!

I have a notebook, the one I was using to record the absurdities of that particular time and place - of which there were an abundance - and for years afterwards, leafing through it, I would be struck by this one sentence above all the others - "I came here to say that I do not recognise anyone's right to one minute of my life". I would marvel at the way that it summed up my entire, until then unarticulated ethos, and would wonder where it came from and how something could so perfectly capture such a slippery and elusive concept.

Ten years later I'm reading the final pages of The Fountainhead under a thatched roof on an Indonesian island and Howard Roark is at his trial telling the court that he is a man who does not exist for others and there's that sentence, there it is in black and white and there it is in my veins and sinew and cells singing at me from within and without: from the page and from my being; the realisation of something that was out-of-reach intangible but ever present and it's a reunion and a resurrection and the closest thing I have had to a holy or spiritual experience and it is better than my whole life because it is my whole life.

All of this went through my head like a great silver streak of light as I looked at the self-serve salt and sauce in that service station, and culminated in me half-filling the paper bag containing my unidentifiable battered items with salt, because I could. It's not exactly freedom but I'm no Howard Roark so it may be the closest I get to it.