Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pro Tip #1: These are things you shouldn't attempt to ingest.


Candle wax.
It was a particularly large uni night - it reached McConaughey status, for those of you playing at home - when it happened. We were sitting at a table at the Toff, next to the D-Floor. My drink was sitting next to a candle on said table. Probably amidst my making some sort of grand statement backed up with nothing more than alcohol-fuelled "smarts", I raised the wrong glass to my lips and drank the wax from the candle. Okay. So. Even if much of the night is a laughter-filled blur, this memory is crystal-clear in my memory. I could feel the wax my mouth, burning then setting. It started to go down my throat. I screeched in horror, and jumped up with my hands clawing at the inside of my mouth. I must have looked like I was possessed. I sprinted away towards the bathroom, gagging and choking and wretching. I pushed past the line for the loos, spitting out wax. It was one of the most unpleasant things I have ever done. I was coughing and my hands were digging at the sides of my mouth, wax was on the floor. Look, it probably wasn't that bad/terrifying, but in my memory it was pretty much the most traumatic thing you can imagine. At one point I remember thinking to myself, "IS THIS HOW IT ENDS? CHOKING TO DEATH ON CANDLE WAX?"

"She died as she lived, constantly failing at things"

When I returned to my pals, I learned that almost as soon as I'd abruptly left in a swirl of red dress and red face and gag reflex, Immy had almost been involved in a dance-floor brawl. This potential brawl was then averted by our male uni compadres, who suddenly as one became some sort of Power Rangers-esque squad of badassery. Me? I was nowhere to be seen. I was busy trying to extricate bits of candle from my esophagus.

A spoonful of cinnamon.

The cinnamon challenge never, ever ends well.

Your body weight in banana lollies.
I did this when I was a kid and now can't even look at the little pale yellow fuckers without wanting to chum. While eating, OCCASIONALLY CONSIDER PAUSING.

What you think is chocolate on your floor but is really just a clump of dirt.
I think this one's self-explanatory.

Not awesome. A clump of dirt.

Salpicon de pollo. 

When travelling, one is constantly reminded to "Steer clear of mayonnaise! And chicken!". One is also urged to always gravely consider the cleanliness of any street-side food vendor one may be thinking of hitting up for a snack. Salpicon de pollo is can best be described as a kind of salad-y type deal with a whole lot of chicken, lathered in mayonnaise. Obviously that's what I chose to eat on my second day in Cusco. And obviously I was too excited about food or too excited about my lunch companion's Top Five Films to notice I was dancing with salmonella risk. The result?
Seriously, I was asking for it. I was pretty much waving my arms around yelling, "PICK ME! PICK ME!".
Needless to say, the results were far from pretty. You haven't seen shame and agony until you've seen me sitting on the toilet while throwing up into the shower. I threw up everything I ate for a week before dragging myself to a hospital. I threw up everything, all the time for a week. Keep in mind this happened on my second day in Cusco, my first day of Spanish classes. I barely got to know my host family because I was too busy trying to sleep away the nausea, in between sporadic sprints to the bathroom. Also, please keep in mind the fact that you can't flush toilet paper down the toilet in South America. It was truly a comedy of errors. At one point I decided I was getting better, and so went out for a drink with Colin (he who was there at the Great Poison Salpicon de Pollo) and Remi. Half a beer and a excruciating walk home later, I was in the throes of a battle in chunderland.
The next day I almost passed out walking up the hill to school, fell into the classroom and managed to get out (in Spanish),
Halfway to the hospital, I lost my directions to the hospital. When I finally got there, I declared my food-poisoning to be "muy horrible". They countered with, "Yes, because you have salmonella". They wanted me to stay overnight, but refused because I didn't want to be away from my friends (read: I'm a big ol' chicken). So they gave me about a thousand different types of medication and sent me on my nauseous, slightly delirious way. I was alcohol-free, delicious food-free, and dosed up for another week and a half.
Steer clear of mayonnaise and chicken.

Rookie mistake.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Words I Hate.

Some words and phrases just make my blood boil. They just do. Some words - or Australian colloquialisms to be more precise - used to puzzle the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid, having grown up in a house where English was not language numero uno. For instance, the first few times I heard "togs" or "arvo" or "goon" (seriously, what kind of a dumb-ass word is that?) I was like, "bitch please, you ain't speaking Ingles".

That was then, and this is now, however. The confusion and amusement of that batch of words has faded. What's taken their place is the following list of words that I despise, and which make me feel anger and repulsion upon hearing them used. Not because I don't understand them, but because I think they are the very height of dumb.

Maybe that's a little strong, but you understand what I'm trying to say.

Drinkies - No. Drinkies? That trying-to-make-something-sound-super-cute thing? No. You are NOT going to have "drinkies" with your super BFFs. When you say that the mental image in my head is of champagne in a pink hummer and shrill, shrieking laughter from a row of faces that someone's pasted rage face derp images onto. I'm sorry!! I'm honestly very sorry. But it's true. If you send me a message suggesting we "Go out for drinkies tonight!" then you can rest assured I will be thinking twice about any activity that night, involving drinkies or otherwise.

"Much of a muchness" - What does that even mean? If what you're trying to say is "not much of a difference" then SAY that. PLEASE Over the years I've mostly stopped judging people harshly on incorrect grammar or use of words (she said as she wrote this blog post...), but that doesn't mean that "much of a muchness" won't send my blood to boiling point and my palm to my face. To me, this phrase makes no sense whatsoever and should be sent to the special fiery pits of hell reserved for people who miss the bowl and hit the seat while urinating, and the oevre of Nicholas Sparks.

Cuddles - Okay, fine. You got me. This one's probably more a result of my having become super super jaded over the years, because I'm sure I used to happily talk about cuddles all the time. I was talking to Mitts earlier in the week and struggled to continue with my anecdote at one point because of my aversion to using the word "cuddles" and I couldn't for the life of my think of an alternative. Mitts then began to strongly defend the merits of the word "cuddles", so maybe I'm alone in thinking that it's kind of gross. Not the act of cuddles. The word. Which is weird, because "snuggle" is fine to me. Whatever. Shut up, okay?

Missus - If you ever, ever refer to me as your "missus" I swear to all that is holy I will teach Elvis to sick balls. Being called "babe" is worthy of a withering glare, but "the missus" is something else entirely.

Drop - I don't mean this in a "you're dropped!" sense. What I'm referring to is, "THEIR ALBUM'S GONNA DROP NEXT MONTH". Or "the first single dropped from her new album!". Since when has drop/dropped/dropping (hahaha....dropping...) been A Thing? I am genuinely curious. In my opinion, it sounds super silly and the day I use it in a sentence in a straight-faced way is a dark day indeed.

Bond Girl

That many girls take Halloween - and indeed, any "fancy dress" themed party - as an excuse to dress up as sluttily as possible is well-documented. I mean no offence, I ain't accusing all y'all attractive ladeez who might like to show off your respective mothers gave you all as being sluts. Not at all! If I had boobs, maybe I'd be more inclined to whip 'em out and refer to them as "the girls" than roll my eyes when Halloween comes around. You have to admit - there is an overload of "Slutty/Sexy" versions of various characters/people/things when the party's of the themed variety. Sexy vampire, slutty nun, sexy Minnie Mouse, sexy tyrannosaurus, sexy pineapple. The lack of ass-covering garments ain't no thang, it's a dress-up fiesta!

I, on the other hand, have never been known for my ability to be in the least bit sexy. No, no, it's okay. It's something I've grown to embrace. Short skirts and fish-net tights nowhere in sight (ever, as I don't want to induce the world's collective gag reflex), I'm much more likely to don a bear suit around the end of October. Or likelier still, a pair of trousers. Yes, that's the running theme throughout most of the photos you'll find of me at fancy-dress shindigs. That I've dressed up as a man.

Before you go imagining me as some svelte, slightly angular androgynous beauty, think again. I dress up in suits and similar garb not because I make it look particularly good, or because it's fashionable. Come on, I could never be described as androgynous, or skinny enough to look amazing dressed like that. My ass is much, much too South American. No, I constantly end up dressing up as dudes because the characters I want to dress up as are male. Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Bob Dylan circa Rolling Thunder Revue, Joe Strummer. Of course, you could probably delve into my psyche and shrink yourself up some conclusions about deep-seated desire for masculinity or other things of a similar ilk. I won't deny that I've been asked by family members on various occasions for a confirmation from the horse's mouth on where my sexual orientation lies (I like the dudes, not the laydeez). Be that as it may, from where I sit the reason is simple: I am a nerd.

Which leads me to the time a friend of mine sent out the word that she was holding a James Bond! themed birthday. Sitcom writers, grab a pen. The girls I knew were going all very quickly decided that going as a "Bond Girl" was the only sensible course of action. I don't know about you though, but to me "costume party" is synonymous with "think of something damn clever to go as". Thus, Bond Girl was never going to cut the mustard with my (at times wanky) sensibilities. Up until that point, I'd been lucky enough to have for the most part attended costume parties held by and filled with people who take a theme and seize it with both hands before running with it, running a goddamn marathon. Put it this way: if your costume couldn't be described as "pretty creative" at the very least, you were a dud.

So. What to go as. Some hard pondering lay in the road ahead. Maybe I could go as Jaws? Or a Bond villain's cat? Maybe I could go as a cat and a friend could be the villain! Or maybe I could go as A GIANT GUN.

No. No good. Then, like a pistol whip to the snout, it came to me. Ian Fleming. I WOULD GO AS IAN FLEMING. Mental high five. Inspired! Audacious! Intellectual! I would be hailed as all these things.

Or so I thought.

I borrowed a suit from a friend. I wore a kick-ass hat and tucked my hair underneath it. I took my copy of Dr. No to brandish around. I put on a bow-tie, and hit the road with a legitimately dapper looking Brian. We arrived at the party.

At once, my heart sank. I also began to laugh.

It seemed as if my voracious costume and prop acquiring efforts had been in vain, all for loser naught. It seemed as if James Bond! meant not so much "Character from the James Bond universe" but "Stylish and sexy evening-wear, a la James Bond". It seemed as if I'd again made an ass of myself in front of many people I was about to meet. Oh, right. Dang.


The ladies in gorgeous dresses and heels. The guys in suits. Nary a one-eyed with cat or silver-toothed villain in sight! Goddamn. Now, I'm not usually one to cower away when I'm the only one not in heels, or when I look a little out of place. But walking in without a hint of make-up, dressed as a DUDE, I kind of wanted to hide. If I'd gone as an obscure character or dressed in a costume nobody got, that would have been different. I've gone to a movie themed party and had to explain what felt like hundreds of times that I was "Annie Hall, from the movie Annie Hall". This time though, I was the only one who'd gone as a character, the only one at a shindig filled with very good looking people I mostly had never met. I made a bee-line for the bar, and cursed Brian for so easily fitting into the theme by wearing a suit. Me, I was obviously the birthday girl's token butch lesbian friend, underdressed and overdressed at the same time.

Sweet, sweet relief was mercifully quick however. Another friend of ours - who shares a love for dressing up equal to mine - had gone to much, much more effort than I. She had made a dress out of cut-outs of James Bond movie posters. She was a walking Bond movie. She looked amazing though,  and to her credit obviously gave not a SINGLE FUCK about being the only one (apart from me) in costume. Seeing her not giving a single fuck made my spirits soar and renewed my injured confidence.

The rest of the party went off without a hitch. Smooth sailing, until we decided to head out afterwards. Rookie mistake. Or rather, it was a rookie mistake given the place we went. Silk Road.

My first trip to that particular establishment was enough to make sure it would also be my last. For those who haven't been to Silk Road, I will direct you to their photos so that you may form a mental picture/rushed opinion of the place. Now, I'm sure one is able to have a rockin' night there - it just ain't the place I would want to do it under most circumstances. I don't know what possessed me to go with the crew there, but I went. Standing in the line (seriously, who lines up anymore?) with all the scantily clad ladies and guys in identical striped shirt/pointy shoe combos, I tried my best not to give a single fuck. I mostly succeeded. The girl at the door looked me up and down and I gave the best "I'd offer to fight about it, but I'm not inclined to give any fucks at the moment" look I could muster. I had to laugh upon getting the all-clear to enter.

We made our way to the bar, maneuvering our way through the tans. The music was pumping. Do we hit the dance floor? Do I grind up against some hot female? Do I take off my shirt and bow tie? Nope. The bar. As I edged my way toward the front, a large mass shoved into my side. Some guy attempting to get through the crowd, it seemed. He must have realised that he'd bumped into me, and slapped me on the back in friendly apology.
The "hey, buddy!" tone of the clap on my back and his tone made me whirl around. I beamed at him.
"No problem, pal."
He saw my face (and the fact that I have boobs) and his expression immediately changed.
"Oh! Uh. Sorry! About that." He paused, then bolted. He looked as if his brain had exploded from confusion overload.


That was my cue to leave.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Oh lord, oh lord, oh my word. 
I'm in love. 
This guy. 

Son of Steve Earle, named for Townes Van Zandt. Looks a bit like Hank Williams with more tattoos. Sort of. My, oh my. Justin Townes Earle.

I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I've had his tunes playing on repeat at work. Over and over and over again. Especially this one, one song that punches me right in the chest, "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now". The album of the same name was the feature record on the PBS breakfast show a couple weeks ago. It was during my morning slog through the traffic that my ears first sighed at the sound of his voice. What a stroke of luck then, that he was playing just as I disgustedly switched over from Triple J at the sound of The Hilltop Hoods. Thank you PBS, that's all I can say, thank you PBS and thank you JJJ. Indeed, I've found myself switching from Triple J to PBS with increasing frequency of late. Call it a a growing aversion to Australian hip hop and other similar brands of mediocrity. Similarly, the radio at work now very rarely sits on the JJJ dial. Unfortunate for the Js I guess, but they should have thought about that before they began to morph into some commercialised monstrosity. But I digress. My apologies. My disillusionment with Triple J is not the point of this post. 

The point of this post is to share exactly how amazing Justin Townes Earle is. Amazing talented, amazing and heart-breaking. And damn fine to look at too, in my opinion. If you ask me (and I know you do), this is what modern country should be. The right amount of twang, the right amount of badassery, of misery, of romance. Oh, boy. And. AND. Get this. What's completely torturous is that he's playing in St Kilda, tonight. TONIGHT. I could potentially make it there if I leave now. I COULD MAKE IT.

Unfortunately, I'm a little low as far as dosh is concerned. Parking fines, replacement Doc Martens (RIP), tickets to various things (before I realised how amazing JTE is). It all contributes to a poor Reb, and a sad one at that. So I'll just sit here and spend my time on Youtube. I'll make the clips full-screen and pretend I'm listening to them live.

Do yourself a favour and watch these: 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'Khe Sanh' Killed the Party

Is "Khe Sanh" an Australian classic? An institution? Surely one could argue that the band behind the song, Cold Chisel, is an Australian institution. At the very mention of that name, it's as if I can smell the eucalyptus and meat pie wafting through the breeze. I know that Cold Chisel is an Australian institution because my very Australian uncle loves Cold Chisel, and he's about the most Australian person I know. Growing up he'd tell us about hunting pigs and shootin' things and goin' down the pub and generally doing a lot of leaning on things while swigging a pint. He likes the Screaming Jets as much as he likes Cold Chisel. That's how I know the Screaming Jets to be A Very Australian Band. I'd like to have seen the Screaming Jets at the Espy in the years before I was a thought in the brains and loins of my parents. I think that would have been a very Australian thing to do.

This story though, is set many thousands of kilometers away from St Kilda, in Buenos Aires. It was in Buenos Aires that I was struck by these thoughts concerning how Australian a song "Khe Sanh" truly is. I was compelled if you will, to ponder the nature of "Khe Sanh" and its place in our national psyche. Brandishing a bottle of Argentinian red wine and yelling my declaration of love for my home city, it was then that I decided that the Cold Chisel karaoke go-to was The Most Australian Song That I Know. So you know, it was obviously a very profound moment.

A dance floor in its early stages, a night that by Australian standards would probably have been about to wind down or head out the door, but by a Porteño measuring stick was only just beginning. Outside on the streets of Avenida 9 de Julio it was cold and rainy and enough to warrant wearing one's most obnoxious beanie en route, but it was warm warm warm in the Lime House and I had a kick-ass posse to spend the night with, and I'd just done my laundry for the first time for about three weeks. So obviously I was on my A-Game.

The dance floor - if we're being specific, it was the space between the bar and the couch - was not a full-fledged area of rocking out as yet. It was a mere suggestion of something waiting to happen; not yet guaranteed, but nothing the right amount of musical coaxing and stars aligning and able/willing bodies couldn't achieve. It was a campfire ready to ignite, sparks ready to be fanned into action. It was just too damn bad for all involved that I had just met another Australian.

That night will go down in infamy as The Night I Met Jesse. Those who know me well will have heard all the the warm descriptions and laughed anecdotes of and about our various adventures in Santiago. Jesse would come to remind me of all the best bits of home, served as a sign that I was somewhat ready to return (albeit grudgingly). Where once was intense wincing and vague nausea, all of a sudden were smiles and fond Melbourne memories. What you might not know however, was that before these warm and fuzzy familiar feelings was our meeting at the Lime House in Buenos Aires. His Australian accent cutting through the crowd (as the grating twang of Aussie slang inevitably does) I very quickly honed in on Jesse. I even interrupted my Grade-A move-making on my Star Wars-loving American architecture student romantic interest target, Codename DM - Dorky Mike. That's what happens when you haven't spoken to an Australian in two months.

He worked at The Carlton Club, he went to high school a mere suburb away from where I did, he lived a stone's throw from Mitch's place. Our interests were remarkably similar. Our paths MUST have crossed any number of times, but we'd never met. And here we were - sharing a bottle of Argentinian wine from the store below our creaky hostel. I hadn't spoken to an Australian in a long time - let alone an Melbournian who frequented all the places where I would more often than not spend my weekends. My brain was exploding into a million little bits. Jesse even looked like he'd just been teleported from Australia; clad in thongs (flip-flops), a t-shirt that betrayed time not yet spent on the dusty road, and without the mandatory South American-traveller-llama-sweater. We were in Buenos Aires during winter, and he didn't have a jumper. In true Australian fashion, he'd just spent time in South-East Asia. The laughter flowed as readily as the drinks and all of a sudden, I felt a pang for home in Melbourne.

Home? Until then, I hadn't been thinking about 'home' in the Melbourne sense of the word with fondness, with any longing. By that stage, my home was my backpack. Home was a crowded bus, a smelly dorm. Home was Cusco, for a while at least. Cusco was filled with the warm memories and the endless soundtrack of summer tunes that one would associate with home. Leaving Cusco was heart-wrenching. So heart-wrenching that I ended up returning about three times. Home was the feeling of complete contentment and happiness felt when floating in an Amazonian lake, thousands of miles away from Melbourne.

Hell, home was beginning to morph into Buenos Aires. Bitch please, you'd best not take me for some gringo-ass backpacker (lol); I got me a Subte map that I don't even have to use anymore I'm so damn Porteño. You want to find a cinema? Bro, I'll show you FIVE. Hueon, I got a breakfast place, and a favourite local radio station blasting out of my muy, muy barato Argentino phone "¿TIENES UNO UN POCITO MAS BARATO?" - as I emerge from the subway, grinning underneath my ridiculous beanie. Of course, it became clear exactly how gringo my ass truly was/is when my wallet was stolen a mere four days later. Oh, the woes. That's besides the point however, pray forgive my digressions.

Talking to Jesse about the places we'd frequent on the weekend, where we spent our days and nights and bits in between, I was filled with a sudden love for Australia never even felt during typical days of national pride. More so than any ANZAC Day or Australia Day, or any other day of Southern Crosses and boxing kangaroos, I suddenly felt VERY VERY AUSTRALIAN. And it was at that moment that I was distracted from excitedly describing the myriad reasons why I suddenly missed Melbourne to my Canadian and English friends by the D-Floor Happenings.

It appeared as if "DJing" duties were all of a sudden being shared by the Lime House inhabitants. The theme: YOUR COUNTRY. It seemed as if others at our hostel were in a similar state of mind to my own, because that theme was seized upon by all those around us with gusto. The posse of boozy Brazillians put on some amazing boogie-inducing dance tune. So did some Dutch guys. Ditto a couple of Brits. The D-Floor's future looked bright.


It was to be so. This was happening. We were going to hit the room with an aural punch in the face so Australian, all ears involved would be spewing VB. THE LIME HOUSE WAS GOING TO GET SOME AUSTRALIA ALL UP IN ITS GRILL. But what would we play? John Farnham? Kylie Minogue? Get the party started with some goddamn Presets? No. NO. NO. I raced over to the bar and shoved everyone aside. "IT'S OUR TURN" I declared.

Badababdababadababadbabdabdbba ... the opening strains of piano were met with puzzled faces. I remember grinning at Jesse, fist ready to be thrown into the air in the way that one must always throw ones fist into the air when singing the opening lines to "Khe Sanh".

(you'll please note that I did not know the actual first line until I Googled it about ten minutes ago)

By then the dancing and two-stepping had faltered with the lack of a thumping bass line (I HAD THE VIETNAM COLD TURKEY) and the embryonic campfire dance floor that had looked so promising, so full of possibility (FROM THE OCEAN TO THE SILVER CITY) looked as if someone had poured water all over it.


Jose-behind-the-bar watched us do our best Jimmy Barnes, looking more than a little confused. Here were these two Australians playing an obscure and almost unintelligible rock song, singing along loudly with fists a-pumping, effectively clearing and killing the dance floor; morphing it into a puzzled audience.

Someone changed the song before it was halfway through.

I felt like racing around the room and explaining, "No, no, no! You don't understand! This is COLD CHISEL, they're an Australian INSTITUTION. Jimmy Barnes man, he's a NATIONAL TREASURE! This song, it's about as Australian as you can get without being pure, undiluted Vegemite! This is as Australian as you can get without being the cast of Neighbours!" ... but alas, that was not going to be. Instead, the another house tune began and "Khe Sanh" was forgotten as abruptly as it had barged into the room, uninvited and unwelcome. Of course, that was to be expected. As if one could expect the song to play in its entirety without someone thinking, "what the fuck is this?"

It's okay though. No, no, I don't need your pat on my shoulder, I'm not sad. Thanks though. Mate, we did give the room a good ol' Australian-ing in the face, right in the grill. We gave the night a good ol' dose of loud yellin' Australian pub-rock. I made a new friend, one I'd meet again in Chile. I decided that I did in fact miss Melbourne a little. And while were at it, I could proudly notch up YET ONE MORE DANCE FLOOR I'D SUCCESSFULLY RUINED.

Let it never be said that I'm not a multi-tasker.