Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day Can Eat a Bag of Dicks or: I Didn't Enjoy the Boxing Day Sales

Firstly, I'd like to extend my warmest "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" and "HAPPY CHRIMBUS!" and "FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!" to all of you who regularly send your eyes and your clicks over to this ridiculous corner of the internet. It's really heartening to hear how many of you get a genuine kick out of the very silly things that come out of my brain, so thanks for tuning in so often throughout 2012, this year of our anticlimactic apocalypse.

You guys.

My Christmas was a most enjoyable one, as it involved hanging with my family on the coast, watching a shitty Steven Seagal movie, getting a remote controlled helicopter and Neil Young tickets, and then eating so much food I could barely breathe (I'm not even exaggerating). It was a lovely, wholesome, fun-filled and flavorsome way to spend a few days. That being said though, I'd be lying if I said I didn't breathe a sigh of relief when I finally returned to a quiet Castle Mega, made myself a cup of tea, and watched a movie. By myself. Quietly. Silently. By myself. Perhaps observing this enjoyment of one's own company sheds an in-hindsight sort of light on how I handled the True Carnage that occurred the next day. Maybe that's why I was launched into rage and frustration and puzzlement so quickly upon arriving at Chadstone.

The correct reaction upon hearing someone
is going to Chadstone on Boxing Day.

Of course, I was completely aware of what I was getting myself into, so I probably completely deserved all of the pain inflicted on me. In fact, this wasn't the first time I'd braved Chadstone on Boxing Day. You read that correctly. Chadstone on Boxing Day. Last year I braved the carnage clusterfuck, and had a time that was equal parts confounding and rage-inducing. This year my attendance was due to two things:

First of all, my parents gave me a hefty Chadstone voucher along with my Neil Young tickets, claiming that I'm "too damn hard to buy for". Well shit, I wanted to get something good. Having gone to the sales last year, I was very aware of the rubbish-y stock that's left over after the screeching flailing of the first feeding frenzy. I suppose with that I can identify a hefty dose of FEAR OF MISSING OUT having bored its talons into my brain and while that's kind of disappointing, fuck it. I need new shoes.

SECONDLY, and far more stupidly, a morbid curiosity was growing inside me. I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew how angry I'd gotten last year, how I'd stumbled out of the shopping centre with a hatred for my fellow man at an all-time high. I'd seen the snatching and the crowds and the madness and the crazed MUST GET BARGAINS ON SHIT I DON'T NEED, and all I could think of was will it be as bad this year? I wanted to know. I needed to know. And I knew at the very least, I'd get some sort of blog post out of it.

So here you are. Boxing Day 2012. Again, I found a very kind family member to give me a lift to the carnage. And again, I think their generosity was motivated by morbid curiosity than actual goodwill towards their ill-fated daughter but you know, I'll take any free lift that I can get.

Even at 9am, it was packed. Packed. Knowing we'd never get to an actual entrance, I barrel-rolled out of the car and walked the rest of the way. I heard a "GOOD LUCK!" fade into the distance as my ride sped away. I took a deep breath, girded my loins, walked inside, and burst into laughter.

At the "intersection" of Tiffany, Burberry, Gucci and bunch of similarly shiny stores full of reflective surfaces, security guards and confounding prices, the lines snaked around and around and around. People were lining up around corners, past escalators, to go inside. Why? WHY? WHY? 

Of course, this was first thing in the morning. As the day wore on, the crowds grew and became more and more obnoxious, until it was necessary to do the "Music Festival Shuffle" through the crowd to get from SUPER BARGAIN point A to B. But of course, as the day wore on my sense of humour deteriorated and thus, so too did any thought to take photos. See all the space in the photos? The space for walking? GONE.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I stood around and chuckled to myself for a while, and played "SPOT WHITEY" in the Gucci line (there were four), before heading towards Myer. I'm not entirely sure what came over me, considering the true bloodshed and brutality that I faced there me last year, but that's where I went. Maybe it was momentary bravery brought on by having a laugh, maybe it was because I was listening to The Four Tops, or maybe it's because I was super curious. Or maybe I was just overcome by momentary insanity, because I made a bee-line for the "INTIMATE APPAREL" section, a place akin to Mount Doom to me, in that it's fraught with peril and is fucking terrifying.

Yes, the time had come to brave the battlefield of bra-shopping, an activity that I find to be equal parts intimidating, confusing and demoralising. As a result, I always put it off. I sure as shit wasn't going to go to Bras n Things, because I find that to be a Truly Terrifying Place. The sales assistants swoop down upon you, it looks like a Barbie exploded everywhere, and in between all of the confusion and terror I can barely even remember what damn size I am. So I guess that left Myer. Already, there were bras all over the floor, hangars were strewn everywhere, and the line for the fitting room was something awful. It was obnoxiously crowded. Every few seconds I found myself saying "Excuuuuuuuuse me", as I literally squeezed myself between women and racks (HEH HEH) of bras. People were plonking themselves in the most inconvenient possible places, not bothering to get out of the way, shoving past each other. It's kind of as if with the dawn of Boxing Day so to comes an unspoken rule that "YOU CAN BE A DICK TODAY, BECAUSE IT'S BOXING DAY. IT'S A FREE-FOR-ALL, MOTHERFUCKERS".

I'll say this much: the next person who sees me sans shirt had better know the Saving Private Ryan-esque scene that was endured to purchase those boob-holders. I don't mean to say that there was blood and guts and khaki green everywhere, I just mean to say that it was AWFUL and it was KIND OF TRAUMATISING, and certainly after putting my headphones back on and attempting to navigate my way out of Myer (PRO-TIP: Don't go via the Cosmetics Department), I stood outside with a fair dosage of the ol' Thousand Mile Stare. Add the madness of Boxing Day to the already confusing experience that it is, and you've got yourself cause for some shopping PTSD, yo.

Returning to the massacre of Chaddy's "streets" was like attempting to get from one point to another at a music festival. I take that back. I don't get angry at music festivals. It was like walking down Swanston Street, but about ten times worse. I find that walking from one end of Swanston Street to the other is about 90% likely to make my blood boil. Too many people, not enough space, not enough people with destinations in mind. The people that walk way too slow, the groups that walk way too slow while also walking four abreast, the small children shrieking and getting in the way, the people that stop mid-walk in the middle of the path to confer about something, or take a photo, or just generally be in the way. Call me an impatient asshole, but this is what riles me up. And this time, there were trolleys involved.

I went to look at the foodcourt. It was awful. I walked down to JB Hi-Fi. The line snaked around past the bowling alley. I went down to the other foodcourt, and a disbelieving, "Oh, SHIT!" escaped my lips. I shoved my way through the crowd and into a shoe store. It was so crowded, one literally could not move without actually shoving past people. Shoes were strewn everywhere. Boyfriends stood in the corner, looking vaguely scared and clutching an array of brightly coloured bags. I left almost immediately, for fear that I'd launch into a flying rage at any moment. .

My next location was Fat, which mercifully wasn't full of yelling ladies snatching and shoving. I asked a guy working there how his day had been, and his hand immediately went to his face. "Oh god ... it's been insane. Insane. I cannot wait. Until. This is over."

I am so glad I don't work in retail anymore.

It took my ride 45 minutes to get from a carpark entrance to a centre entrance. I jumped into the car and we drove home and watched in disbelief as we whizzed past car after car after car after car banked up along Dandenong Road.

"What the actual fuck?"

The entire time I was shoving and shuffling and stumbling may way around Chadstone (I did a few laps, just to compare crowds and become ever more bemused/angry), I found myself wondering: WHY? For the love of all that is holy, why the hell BOTHER? I know that's hypocritical for me to say, because obviously I went, and obviously I used my voucher to pick up some actual savings on things I needed/wanted, but STILL. I went in the knowledge that it'd be awful, knowing it was a stupid thing to do, knowing I'd hate it, and knowing that a great deal of things wouldn't actually be on sale. I deserved all the internal pain and the barely contained rage that I had to deal with. The truly unpleasant specimens, the obnoxious children, the bitchy women, the sheer volume of duddery and jackassery and assholery.

I went in knowing that, and then spent the entire time being with one thought overwhelming all others: that this Boxing Day shopping frenzy is one of the most stupid, pointless exercises I could possibly imagine. The haggard looking shop girls, the overflowing food courts, the ruthless snatching of stock and the at times mediocre savings and the clothes strewn all over the floor. Everything I saw could only be described as a waste of time and money and effort of the highest degree of unpleasantness.

But you know, I did buy new shoes. So it can't have been all bad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Onesie Menagerie and a Toothless Grin: Meredith 2012 PART TWO

So many of my Meredith memories are preeetty much like this.

I'm aware of the fact that at this stage, it's been a little while since Meredith. I was actually debating whether or not I'd finish writing this post, seeing as it's so far after the fact, and so far after part one. However, I was at a Christmas dinner a few nights ago and someone asked me what I'd been up to of late. I mentioned I'd gone to Meredith.

"Meredith? I've never heard of it. Is it a festival?" They asked.

I gasped, and flapped my hands around a little bit, and took a deep breath and began to talk very excitedly about the weekend and how much of an amazing scene it was and the myriad ways in which I loved it. So I figured, if I've still got that much energy and excitement when I talk about Meredith 2012, then I might as well jot some of it down on the internet for ... posterity, perhaps? At the very least, I feel like it'd be a shame to write a long-winded post about the Friday night, then to omit all talk of the Truly Amazing Things That Occurred on the Saturday.

Of course, Saturday didn't really start in earnest until afternoon rolled around and the sun began to go down along with the temperature. That can be in part attributed to the insane heat and the sun bearing down on us all like some smartass jerk ("JUST YOU TRY AND AVOID ME!"), and partly because I woke up feeling like pure, undiluted rubbish. This - for those of you playing at home - comes with a word of warning for all kidlets and and for those of you who plan on drinking a beer any time in the future, ever.

Do not, under any circumstances, buy Rivet. It's Aldi beer, with a price tag that equates to $1 per can. With a name that refers to metallic construction tools rather than tasty beverages, I guess one has to expect the worst. Cheap yes, convenient yes, yes it suited my budget. But oh lord, did ever taste like shit. Or rather, it didn't taste like shit. It was devoid of taste. And it then left me with a hangover I in no way deserved. Saturday night was FAR bigger and FAR rowdier and FAR more filled with activities conducive to feeling like rubbish in the morn, but I woke up feeling right as rain (and in a monster suit). Post-Friday night, I felt like some sort of dark goblin of nausea had made a home in my stomach and was hosting some sort of circle pit of doom in there.

As a result, I spent most of Saturday attempting to find shade, attempting to nap, and attempting not to mostly look glum. I paused that bizzo briefly to rock out to Royal Headache with Dane, but that was about the most noteworthy thing that happened before a nap back at the campsite. For the record Royal Headache were flippin' great, even if Ferg did later declare them to be "FUCKING SHIT". Personally, they were exactly the kind of don't-give-a-shit rocking midday wake-up set that I needed.

In any case, the moral of the story is thus: DON'T DRINK ALDI BEER.

I fuck up so you don't have to.

So like I said, we pick up the story in the early hours of Saturday evening, post-nap and post-baby wipe of face and arms to get rid of a few layers of dirt and post-get-into-monster-suit efforts (believe me, it was an effort to get out of that beach chair after that nap).

Neil whipped out a little tube thing of zinc and we set about putting lines on our faces, preparing for for the battle (see: party) ahead. The animal suits again were on and buttoned up with hoods and travelers at the ready. Meanwhile, Ferg had disappeared into his Taj Mahal of a tent. Saturday evening heralded the arrival of "Aunty Ferg", whom I'd heard so much about in giggled snippets, yet remained a tight-lipped secret. In fact, when I tried to peek into the tent to sneak a look-see, Dane suddenly leapt into flight and jumped in front of me. "NO. NOT YET. WAIT."

It was worth the wait, I'll say that much. Aunty Ferg emerged, towering and hairy, all blonde wig and rainbow socks and the most hideous purple dress you could possibly imagine. Rounding out that most excellent (sexcellent) image was Ferg's wasted, chuckling grin complete with missing a front tooth. I'm pretty sure my approval was voiced via an insane shriek of delight. 

With everyone in onesie, dresses, sequins and animal-print, we trouped back over to the amphitheatre. Where Friday night had been a party vibe, the electricity in the air on Saturday made it look like a mid-week catch up for a cup of tea in comparison. With beers in bags, we made our way towards the crowd and the music. Trundling monster-style past the campsites and the groups of costumed, hatted, onesie'd and wasted pals, and hearing the music of Saskwatch growing ever closer, I looked up at the sky and had the first of many moments that night in which I suddenly thought to myself, "HOLY SHIT. THIS IS SO AWESOME. I AM HAVING SUCH A FUCKING GOOD TIME." A grin plastered on my face, I took a swig of beer and felt rather goddamn pleased. Of course, that may have just been my distance from sobriety talking. 

The animal posse joined Aunty Ferg at the sunshine wave of party. I could attempt to describe what the vibe was as Saskwatch played and everybody danced and the sun was beginning to go down, but I honestly wouldn't be doing the scene any justice in the slightest. I scrawled down in my notebook the next day "SASKWATCH. DANCING. MOST GLORIOUS MOMENT, BLOG." if that's any sort of indicator of where I was at and where the evening was at. I do remember telling myself to take a mental picture of the sun going down and the lights going up and the image of everyone dancing. Again however, that may have just been my distance from sobriety talking.

Ferg was garnering some superb reactions as he danced his way around, with a flower behind his ear and red lipstick peeking from within his beard. Generally the reaction of the average punter was one that read "THE FUCK" followed by stunned followed by "OH, COOL!". The three-fold progression was something you'd have to have seen in order to grasp how truly hilarious it was. But believe me, it was amazing.

Speaking of amazing (SEGUE! SEGUE!), the sea of people had to be at least 50% clothed in costume/outrageous outfit/onesie. Combined with the loving, inclusive, incredibly friendly vibe of the amphitheater in general, it felt like any moment not spent dancing was spent being asked "what're you?" and then asking, "DUDE, what are you?". Animals, a convoy of bananas, sequins and colours abounded. Almost everyone was huggable. Further down the hill Dane and I spied a girl in a skin-tight purple jumpsuit. She'd stuck plastic bugs and birds and flowers all over her body. It was the kind of afternoon that, upon seeing in someone in a costume worthy of congratulations, you'd sprint over and congratulate them. So we did. Frog and monster boogied on over, but were stopped before we had a chance to speak by the girl in purple and her two very normal looking male friends doing a sort of crab dance around their esky and bags.

"WOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOP" they wooped, as they scuttled around with their hands as pincers. We did the same. "WOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOPWOOP". A few other people joined in, to the delight of the girl.


We returned to the posse to be greeted by Neil grinning underneath the bobbing tufts of fur on his guinea pig hood's face. "Double-dropped!" Ferg roared at me, demanding to know where I'd been during Big Jay McNeely. "I don't know, around? Sorry!" "I LOOKED FOR YOU WHY WEREN'T YOU AT BIG JAY MCNEELY." His super-rad lady was brandishing a thing (What're they called anyway? Tubes? Implements? Sticks?) of red lipstick, seizing every face in sight and making a sea of bright red mouths.

Out of nowhere appeared a bearded guy dressed in a biblical looking get-up, holding a long stick in one hand and a can of something in the other. "MY CHILDREN!" He bellowed. "COME ABOARD MY ARK! I CAN PROTECT YOU, CHILDREN!" 

Behind him danced about thirty people in animal onesies. It was a veritable summertime musical ark, being led by some sort of wasted Noah, holding a hand on a stick which was in turn holding a few glowsticks. We danced over. There were owls, a wolf, a whale, a bat, penguins, bears and giraffes and even a raccoon wearing a tie. Business raccoon. Making astute business decisions in between rummaging through bins with his opposable thumbs. My GOD.


It's at this stage that things become a little blurry, that memories appear to become fragmented and severely out of chronological order. They also literally get blurry, with the vague recollection that at some point I thought the lights of the stage were on a deckchair, and with the Sunday-morning information that I was constantly trying to play-fight Ferg's pal Shamus. Regurgitator were on next, and I believe they were rad. Neil, Dane and I spent a long while scampering after Ferg as he marched/boogied through the crowd, equal parts dancing and yelling indecipherable things at people. To be in the wake of his destruction was equal parts something I'll not soon forget, and also barely remember. A guy in a frog hat was floored by being completely out-frogged by Dane. Neil's cloud of a guinea pig tail was garnering many a squeal. Three guys dressed as bananas. I began scampering off again. Primal Scream were on. It was time to dance again. "Do you think Bobbie Gillespie's wasted?" "I think he's in a perpetual state of wasted."

Like I said, memories disjointed and blurry at this point. We went to the bar. I scampered off, distracted by an attractive male wearing a beanie covered in bears. Back to the bar, suddenly struck by the terrible affliction where one can see lips moving and hear sounds coming out but cannot understand a godforsaken word. "I CAN SEE YOUR MOUTH MOVING BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE SAYING." "Whosprivileged?" "Huh?" "Whosprivileged?" "What?" "Who's privileged?" Oh god. Was this a riddle?
Ferg leaned forward conspiratorially. "All of us."

My brain.
In the vehicle convoy line leading to the gates on Friday morning, I'd attempted to sock Ferg in the stomach. "NO. No fighting. Reb, I will NOT FIGHT YOU THIS WEEKEND" he'd said. That was obviously a fib, because there was a definite stacks on that occurred there on the grass of the Pink Flamingo. That was somewhere in between my visiting the guys on the couch for the umpteenth time (it's as if I was constantly just realising anew that they were there) then wandering down to Turbonegro with them, and again running after Ferg with Dane and Neil watching him roar at people. Literally, roaring at people. Were Turbonegro good? Maybe? Were they before or after Primal Scream? I'm not sure. My camera had run out of juice (film) at this point, so there's no real knowing what went on and in what order and at what point I my scampering morphed into stumbling.

I woke up with the vague sense that I must have been pretty annoying at some point to someone, but that's just because I'm used to that being the case at some point, sometimes. Was it actually the case? We'll never know. I do know that slowly our animal posse dwindled, and Ferg lumbered off into the night in a disgusting ruffled shirt, and before too long Dane, Neil and I were sitting on the grass attempting not to fall asleep. Conversation stumbled along, meandering in no real direction. We'd missed the "Onesie Party" that was due to occur at the "Big Tree" at "about like, 11:30ish". As the sun had gone down and the crowd hurtled ever further from anything resembling sober, the party time zone vibe so too had morphed, as had the musical stylings on-stage. We dozed on the grass, and I let forth with the occasional nugget of non-sensical word-vomit that resulted in instant embarrassment when it left my mouth.

I wandered off again, I lost my beanie, the guys went to bed, I wandered around a bit more, then I collapsed into my tent, with the dull disappointment in myself for tapping out so early (3am?) being overshadowed by the relief that comes with lying down and going beginning the process of passing out.

Sunday morning - without any Rivet within me - was cold and windy and felt pretty victorious. Victorious, and hungry, and in need of sleep. The campsite again looked like it was feeling the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse action comedy shoot-out. People all around wandered around toward the toilet-block, some coupling the tracksuit-pant look with the last-night's-costume look, to superb effect. Upon pausing to reflect on the superb sights one sees in the morning - Mystery men crawling out of tents! Knowing smirks! Some dude passed out under a car! Friends buying their weight in sausages and coffee while wearing a sleeping bag! - it's at this point that we can hit the fast-forward button. Fast forward through the clean-up, slowing down to enjoy the communal morning debrief of the previous night's antics. Ferris wheel make-out sessions! Cougar exploits! Getting too wasted to remember to hit on anyone! Dancing so vigorously you end up with cuts on your arms! Mixed-up confusion and wasn't the music so damn good!

Then we can hit fast-forward again, through the pack-up and the dismantling of feats of tarp engineering and K-Mart bought tents, and slow down briefly to observe the Meredith Gift. So dusty! So naked! SO many jiggling and jangling bits! Then of course, we can fast-forward to the car ride home, and the long journey back to the real world.

I compared notes with a pal who'd also been in attendance at the Supernatural Amphitheater on how we felt upon returning. Dazed? Lost? Confused? Really, really dirty and pretty sunburnt? All of the above? And that's why at Christmas when my uncle asked me how "that music festival was" my answer was riddled with wild gesticulations and a non-indoor voice. I can honestly say I haven't had a weekend like that in a long, long time. I haven't laughed like that, with such rad pals, to the point of not being able to breathe in ages.

On Sunday evening Mike had some friends from NZ over, and we all went out for dinner and a drink. I pottered around in a daze, a shell of my former self, barely able to communicate.

"Sorry guys, you've caught me when I'm not at my peak." I tried to explain. "I won't soon forget this weekend. But if I don't get some sleep soon, I think I'm going to die."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tales from Behind the Counter #1

This might make me an unlikeable scrooge, but I feel like every Christmas I don't spend spent mostly enraged and hating on most other humans is an occasion nothing short of a miracle. After many, many years spent working in retail and hospitality, I can safely say that my faith in humanity has been eroded something terrible. No time of the year highlights this as surely as the holidays.

Last year however(and the year before, from memory), was a joy. I was working a job where I earned actual money, and one in which the office actually closed for a couple of weeks over the Chrimbus break. I was able to actually spend time with my family, I didn't have to think about KPIs, I didn't have to set up for a Boxing Day sale in place of eating tasty food, I didn't have to make up some excuse about not being able to work on New Years Day or Boxing Day. Most of all however, I didn't have to interact with the special kind of douche bag/terrible specimen/murder-worthy people that inhabit shopping centres, cafes and carparks during December.

This year is a little different. I'm currently working a bunch of odd jobs, which range from highly enjoyable to mediocre at best. I'm also job-hunting.

Please, employ me.

But you know, a girl's gotta eat right? So I'm back working at a cafe a few days a week. Just get a casual job, they said. It'll be easy money, they said. And I believed them. I'd forgotten about the screaming children, the mess, the demanding obnoxious duds, the insane requests, the fact that you're beyond exhausted after it all the shit subsides. I'd forgotten what it's like to have your soul slowly, slowly and surely crushed to the cynical, angry point of no return.

Somehow, I'd forgotten how very, very much and how very, very often I dislike people.

Anyway, ranting and raving to a friend of mine after a particularly busy shift, I was reminded of the myriad stories I have about being sent to the very edge of sanity by my fellow humans during the holiday season.

I know this isn't hospitality, but I think you might enjoy it. Certainly, I wish I could crack the absolute shits at every smartass jerk who I ever came across:

I can't tell you how satisfying that was. I spent the rest of the shift strutting around like some sort of victorious gladiator. I was just about daring people to ask me a stupid question, or to dare challenge my authority. And, for those of you playing at home, I didn't even get into any sort of trouble for my little outburst. The guy slunk away with his tail between his legs, with his shitty, shitty purchase.

If you've never yelled at an idiotic customer, I highly recommend you try it sometime.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Onesie Menagerie and a Toothless Grin: Meredith 2012 PART 1

As Dane and I drove - or, as he drove and as I twitched violently in and out of snooze - back into Melbourne last Sunday, I felt strangely dazed. Lost, even. All these people, going about their day as if nothing at all out of the ordinary had occurred, as we returned from the most Marvelous Expedition in the country. It almost felt wrong that the world should continue as it once had, considering the two and a half days of hysterical laughter, sweltering heat, night-time adventures and glorious music that had just taken place. It felt wrong, but that may have just been my hangover talking.

The Meredith Adventure (2012 Edition) began at 5am on Friday morning. Truth be told I'd planned to start at 4:30am but as I'm wont to do, I heard my alarm and just kept on sleeping. So, I awoke again to the strains of my phone telling me Ferg was "Leaving now!" and fell out of bed cursing our bearded convoy leader for being so goddamned eager to get a good camping spot. Surely a 5:30 departure time was excessive.


We (myself, Ferg, Dane, Neil and about twenty thousand tents) rolled into the town of Meredith at 8:30am to find it packed to the brim. The main road teemed with convoys of automobiles piled high with couches, tents and slabs. This was obviously the first wave of festival-goers; the campsite-acquirers. Everyone was laughing, wearing festival-gear and stocking up on last minute bags of ice, booze and snacks. I'd only had a couple of hours' sleep, and Ferg had kept me awake and alive for the journey so far by keeping me in a state of consistently cackling laughter, but it was upon arriving in Meredith that I actually began to feel properly excited about the weekend ahead. It was also clear that hitting the road as early as we did was not excessive in the slightest. Ferg, so tall and wise, had played this whole wake-up-early thing well. Stopping only to ease our bladders and partake in an early-morning beer though, we still encountered a single-file line of cars leading up to the gate that lasted at least two and a half hours.

The winding snake of cars and utes and buses and vans slowly slithered its way toward the party zone, with groups of pals piling out of vehicles after every brief few metres of ground covered. Dane, Neil, Ferg and I killed some waiting time by playing BOP IT!  and beginning the weekend's booze consumption. All around us, people had the same idea; some already in costume, most already brandishing a beer, you could almost feel the excitement drifting over the paddocks and through the trees along with the music blasting from cars. The entire weekend was ahead of us, the party times were still to come, the possibilities were pretty much endless.

"Is it too early to drop??"

The Tent Erection Team finally got through the gate, and finally trundled through the dust to the Blue Gums in order to begin construction of The Most Epic Tent Town Ever. That description's probably a little over-the-top, but certainly there were a fair few (quite impressive) tents. Incidentally, mine was the smallest and most wimpiest looking and least ventilated tent of our posse. For those of you playing at home, spending $20 at K-Mart for a tent equates to the exact opposite of camping luxury. Having said that though, when the gale-force winds hit on Saturday afternoon my tough and cheap little bulldog of a tent stood its ground, so I must have done something right.

At any rate, Camp Ass Cobra soon took shape. The guys even managed to construct a true feat of engineering, a double-tarp shade structure hoisted up using caribeenas, multiple epic ropes looped around trees, and Dane's two weeks of experience being a boy scout. Apparently, two weeks was all it took for Dane to become a true wielder of "mad knots".

The rest of the afternoon was whiled away napping, hanging, beering, and heralding the trickling arrival of the rest of Camp Ass Cobra's inhabitants, all of whom proved to be superb company. Friday trundled along as slowly as you'd expect in temperatures as unpleasantly high as those that beat down on us but sure enough, as the sun became ever so slightly less violent the prospect of party times and good vibes became clearer and closer on the horizon.

It's at this point that the whole chronology thing begins to get a bit hazy. I couldn't tell you when we decided to make the first real trek to the stage, arms laden with eskies and travelers. I'm not entirely sure when I put my monster suit on in readiness for the night ahead, in the same way that I know at some point Dane, Neil and Claire were suddenly all dressed as animals as well. Really though, who cares about what the hell order any of these events occurred in when the fact that they occurred at all is such a marvel to behold? Surely what happened when doesn't matter when you're sitting on a couch halfway up the hill drinking beer and listening to glorious music.

When I sing the praises of Meredith (which is often), one of the things I name immediately is the "vibe" of the place, the people and the entire event. While so much of so many other music festivals are spent attempting to avoid douche bags and dickheads, glaring at obnoxious children, and narrowly avoiding altercations with shirtless invisible-suitcase-carrying leftovers from Stereosonic, at Meredith I never feel like one runs the risk of having to deal with any of that. Perhaps I was just hanging out with the right people, or perhaps we were just partaking in the right sorts of activities, but I'm constantly floored at how friendly everyone is at Meredith. Standing or dancing or drinking on the hill, everyone just wants to be pals, to hang out and to have a chat and a beer. It's also the scene I'd vote Most Likely Place to Run Into Just About Everyone You Know.

To my delight, I found at the top of the hill two couches inhabited by a bunch of guys I've known for years through Mitts. Gazing over the amphitheater like kings Jackson, Luke, Sam and co. had acquired themselves the most glorious of vantage points, and with them had brought the comfiest of perches. Luke was giving free and enthusiastic headstand lessons to whoever wanted them, and Sam's limbs were covered in texta. "LOOK AT MY TATTOOS. I HAVE HEARTS AROUND MY NIPS."

Back to the animals, back to the couch, back in time to see Grimes (I would turn for Grimes, just quietly). The sun was going down, and she was wearing crazy face paint, and there was a bubble machine involved when Jess took my hand and led us through the crowd to the front, and soon enough we were all ready for the zone as party animals, all with beers for the road. We wandered around, sampled some music, hit Eric's bar, had a boogie, exchanged shouts of awesome-acknowledgement from other animal onesied up posses. We paused for corn, chicken and for Dane to attempt to dilute the near-undrinkable glass of sangria he'd been given as a reward for being a swell guy at the bar.

I've gotta say, when it comes to festival-posses, I'd be hard-pressed to find one as turbo rad as Neil, Claire (rabbit), Dane and Jess (human). Dane, most rad of amphibious creatures who shares my off-kilter and dark sense of humour, and Neil, most bad-ass guinea pig so adept at getting a good time started (if he were a pokemon, his special attack would be Get On It). And Ferg of course, but he proved to be Feature Attraction the next night.

I also learned something over the weekend: I tend to scamper off in search of adventures while at intensely enjoyable festivals. Maybe it's because every one of my senses was being over-stimulated and I wanted to see all of the pretty colours and say hi to everyone I knew and hear every damn band, but I definitely felt the need to wander off constantly. So Friday I flitted between groups of friends, always returning to the animal posse (favourites), always making pals during the journeys in between.

"HEY, DINOSAUR!" yelled a guy in a tiger suit.

Eventually I ran back to the fence and beckoned the animals "JUMP THE FENCE, DANE! JUMP!" to join me on the hill with the guys on the couches. The seats were full, with eskies and cans littering the feet of the guys. Jackson stood by the tree, grinning and doing a slight jig, his arms and hands waving by his sides.

"Where's dickhead, Reb?" He demanded.
"Huh? Who?"
"Mitch. Where's MITCHELL??"
"Um. Perth?"
"Tell him he's a dick! Because he's NOT HERE."

Were the Sunnyboys playing? They may have been. A sea of people in the amphitheater throbbed along with the music. Neil looked every bit the badass guinea pig, beard and moves off-set by the squeal-inducingly cute cloud of a tail on his costume's backside. Claire was halfway between adorable and terrifying, all fluffy white bunny with evil, red, gleaming eyes. Dane was bright green.

Then it was time for Tame Impala.

My highlight of Parklife 2012 had been Tame Impala, without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, some of my Best Times and Best Boogies of 2012 all bizarrely and amazingly feature a Tame Impala soundtrack. So, along with Grimes - who was pretty good - the West Australian group were just about the only band I needed to see on Friday night. They didn't disappoint, and again Dane brought the skillz required to be a superb partner in rocking out.

Arms flailing and legs kicking, we jumped around and rocked out among the trees. You know, I used to hate dancing. Maybe I was dancing with the wrong people? Maybe I was dancing to shitty music? In any case, with a grin plastered on my mug, my green companion and I Rocked Out and Got It Done while Tame Impala melted our faces off with their tunes. I'm fairly sure we made complete spectacles of ourselves (we were a fair ways away from any big crowd or mosh), arms linked and spinning around in circles, but gosh-darn-fucking-damn was it ever a good time. I challenge you not to dance to this:

Anyway, at the set's end (APPLAUSE! YELLING! SCREECHING APPROVAL!) Dane declared he'd head back to Camp Ass Cobra to join forces with Neil again. I opted to have a few beers with the guys on the couch, and told him I'd meet him at the campsite momentarily. Famous last words. I should have known, right? It's always when you say, "I'll meet you at the big tree in five minutes" or "I'll just see you at the campsite in like, ten" that something goes horribly wrong. And of course, it's only when you're at a festival and you think to yourself, "Fuck, I'll never run into those guys again!" that you end up seeing those guys at every turn. 

And so it came to pass that I fucking for the life of me could not find Camp Ass Cobra. It must have been a sight to behold, a girl in a monster suit stumbling around in the dark looking up at the treetops in order to find a goldfish kite (our camp marker). I did loops and loops of what I thought was our camp road, cursing how dark it was and how un-sober I was. To the strange soundtrack of Syrian DJ Omar Soleyman I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be staying awake all night and that I'd hunt for camp when the sun reappeared. 

And of course, it was once I resigned myself to that and returned to drinking with the guys on the couch that I ended up walking back with Sam and finding the campsite almost immediately. Such was my relief to find Camp Ass Cobra, and to see Dane and Neil milling about that I screeched with happiness. 

In turn, the guys obviously thought I was freaking the fuck out. 
"Reb. Cool your jets. Are you okay?"

Words cannot describe the relief I felt.

The rest of the night was spent wandering around as a furry posse of three, and taking a ride on the ferris wheel, which actually turned out to be more exciting than initially anticipated. We went around a bunch of times, admiring an admittedly pretty epic and beautiful view, and even got to see some carnies crack the absolute shits at some people in another carriage. 

For those of you playing at home, a onesie is a truly amazing investment. Not only are they
epic, but they're also super warm and just about the most comfortable thing you could ever hope to wear.

Here's what's great about Friday night at Meredith? As everyone wanders back to their campsites at 4am, as you fall asleep in your monster onesie, you realise as you drift to sleep that THERE'S AN ENTIRELY NEW DAY TOMORROW in which all adventuring and partying and getting it done can be achieved AGAIN, but BETTER. It's like a surprise Christmas. Yeah, that was cool. In that case, HOW BOUT WE HAVE A BIGGER TIME TOMORROW? Amazing. 

In any case, expect Part 2 tomorrow. Featuring bearded men in dresses, a dancing ark of animal onesies, and hallucinations. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part Two is so bad it goes past good and back to bad again.

I'm not even kidding.

Look, I know I'm supposed to be writing a long-winded post about Meredith. I definitely still am. Definitely.

HOWEVER, tonight I was ripped away from my laptop in order to partake in a strange tradition Alice and I have going: to head to a screening of the latest Twilight movie in order to laugh our asses off, choking with barely contained guffaws while pretending to vomit into our popcorn.

You may of course, remember my little rant about the last installment of the Twilight Saga ... Breaking Dawn: Part 1. 

Look, I enjoyed Breaking Dawn: Part 1. That is to say, I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoy watching any insanely bad movie. We laughed at the inane dialogue! We gasped with terror at the atrocious performances! We cringed at the awkward attempts at "sexy" from anyone involved! We vomited at just about everything that happened!

Part 1 was truly a joy to watch, simply because it was filled with characters and plot points and performances so far beyond comprehension, there was nothing else to do in the face of it but to laugh. Of course, afterward came the bewilderment and shock that millions of young girls around the world take The Twilight Saga to be the Best of the Best as far as romance goes, but that's an entirely different story.

To re-cap, Part 1 contained the following:

  • Vampire/Human sex
  • Teen wolf inter-gang politics
  • Half-human half-vampire spawn communicating with its folks from the womb
  • Said baby being EATEN OUT OF THE WOMB by its VAMPIRE FATHER
  • A teen wolf falling in love with newborn baby

Amazing, right? Yes. It is. It's ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. Can you imagine if David Cronenberg or John Waters were to direct that? Food for thought, no?

Lamentably, tragically, goddamn annoyingly Breaking Dawn Part 1's one saving grace - the fact that it's FUCKING ABSURD and therefore HILARIOUS - is the very thing that's missing from Part 2.

This means that I spent the last couple of hours or so being repulsed, bored, puzzled and occasionally slightly amused (at all the wrong moments, of course). The rest of the time, I tried to block out all sounds of Kristen Stewart's mumbly monotonous delivery in order to gaze at Lee Pace.

He does look like the slightly goth frontman of a
band of magicians, but you know... slim pickings.

To give you some context, Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off. Revelatory. Renesmee (snigger snigger snigger) has just been born, and Bella has just been turned into a vampire. Bella wakes up and she's suddenly super hot and super strong and has super red eyes. The fact that she's so strong is basically the only place from which Breaking Dawn Part 2 attempts to glean some light moments of humour so you know, look out. Bella learns to hunt, she learns to be around humans, she meets her kid, and she finds out her furry be-muscled pal Jacob has "imprinted" on her newborn daughter. Lo and behold, it looks like our heroes might finally get some peace and quiet in their new little cottage of domestic bliss.

Bella and Edward even get to have some full-blown, no-holds barred vampire sex! Funnily enough though, full blown no-holds-barred vampire sex proves to be just as awkward and boring and un-sexy as Bella and Edward's human/vampire sex, so frankly I can't tell what all of the fuss is about. Luckily for us though, someone spots their rapidly growing half-vampire spawn and dobs the Cullens in to the vampire big bosses and so ensues the build up to a potential vampire showdown for the ages.

Of course, the build-up to a potential vampire showdown for the ages is basically an excuse to bring in some cool-lookin' vampire types from around the world. Call it the chance to put attractive faces to one-dimensional minor characters so obsessive fans can write horny teen fan-fiction to their hearts' content. Because really, that's gotta at least be part of what it is. All the promo shots floating around the internet, the token bits of dialogue, the cool powers, the fact that they're all actuall completely useless as characters ... In between gazing at Lee Pace, that's what was running through my head during most of the "GET TO KNOW THE OTHER VAMPIRES" section of the damn film. WHO WILL GET THE MOST FAN FICTION? I'm almost slightly curious. Almost.

In any case, a bunch of the Cullens' vampire pals trek over from all corners of the earth to help their brethren out. There are a pair of Brazilian Amazon vampires, who you can spot because they're not wearing much and they're tall, fit ladies. They grab a trio from India, who you'll spot because they're darker and are wearing scarves. There's another trio from Ireland and, even though they don't say anything, you can tell they are Irish because they're all have red hair. Yes, that's how layered, complex and interesting each of Stephanie Meyers' characters are. You can tell the vampires are Irish because they have red hair.

At this point in the film, I was thoroughly bored. Each moment of heart-wrenching emotional weight left me feeling nothing. Each pronouncement from one vampire to another that they'd always love them, forever forever forever, I yawned and wished Lee Pace would grace the screen again soon. Alice too, leant over at one point to say much the same to me.
"I don't think I have enough emotion for this film..." she murmured.
No, I thought, the problem is that we don't have enough shit tolerance for this film.

With solemn looks and intense pacing and vows to always love each other in place of crazy-ass supernatural antics, there's really nothing to distract from the fact that The Twilight Saga is basically filled with incredibly unlikeable characters being incredibly selfish, and is filled with actors barely acting, uncomfortably staggering through truly insipid dialogue. I say this with no hint of hyperbole: there are next to no redeeming qualities to be found in this film. 

My biggest moment of excitement (again, I'm not even kidding) actually came when out of nowhere WENDELL PIERCE of The Wire appeared as an inconsequential character that's on-screen for all of about a minute. When he appeared, I began to laugh and clap my hands with geniuinely surprised glee. That, my friends, was the highlight of Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part 2. I half expected him to throw a beer can at Bella's head.

Bunk's in Twilight? Shiiieeeeeeet. 
What should have been the highlight was the inevitable showdown between the Cullens and the Volturi. That should have been the incredible climax to the entire goddamned saga, or at the very least a somewhat entertaining distraction from the dreary bore-fest that had been the preceding hour and a half. To the film's credit, it does actually manage to muster a few moments of badassery and surprises. For instance (I don't give a shit about spoilers), a number of major players get killed off quite quickly during the snow-field battle that ensues, and in pretty grizzly and graphic fashion to boot. I remember suddenly snapping my attention back to the screen (I could see my phone lighting up and was tempted to check it) and mentally congratulating Twilight for pulling a rabbit out of its undead hat right at the eleventh hour. Cojones! Badassery! Heads being ripped from bodies! I almost felt something there! Well done!

Almost immediately after I thought my prayers might be answered though, we cut back to THE PRESENT, to see Michael Sheen (who spends the entire film attempting to be as over-the-top as possible) looking confused at the vision he'd just had.

That's right.
It was all a dream.
The entire battle did not occur.

The only good bit in the movie didn't actually happen.


I'm not even kidding. The entire showdown was a vision, given to one vampire to another. In the end it all seems like a bit too much trouble to have an epic showdown, so everyone parts ways and lives happily ever after.



When that happened, I actually began to laugh properly for the first time during the film. The theatre was silent, and I couldn't help myself from laughing at how truly and utterly stupid this film was proving to be. Yeah, cool. You can do the, "KIDDING! WE WOULDN'T KILL YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTERS! EVERYONE'S FINE!!" right when it looked like this wasn't going to be the Worst Thing I've Ever Watched.

To make matters worse, Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 rambles on past the point - ALICE HAD A VISION OF RENESMEE STANDING BY SOME CRASHING WAVES WITH WOLF BOY - where any other film would have began to roll some end credits in order for Bella to give Edward a telepathic flashback montage of THEIR ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP. 

"Is this actually happening?" asked Alice, wide-eyed and disgusted.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuucking hell."

When that enjoyable recap of all four preceding films finished, and the film proper finally dragged itself over the sappy, vapid finish line, we found to our horror that it was still almost another ten minutes before we were able to leave. For it's at this point that Breaking Dawn Part 2 launches into a truly, truly awful sequence in which every minor character we've encountered throughout ALL FIVE MOVIES is shown. Even the ones that weren't even in Breaking Dawn. It seemed to last for years. Long, agonising years. Obviously, this is a film for fans. But believe me when I say this: I have never, ever seen something as equal parts ludicrous and vomit-inducing as the last twenty minutes of Breaking Dawn. Never. And I've seen some pretty shitty films in my time.

Finally, the credits rolled in earnest and the ordeal was over. The saga had ended, the curtain drawn on perhaps the most puzzling franchise that's ever managed to make millions of dollars and turn millions of girls into vampire-worshipping zombies with skewed views on romance.

Again, it was one of the worst things I've ever seen. And I admit, this is probably not one of the best things I've ever written but I just had to get all of the confusion and disgust and pure, undiluted terror out of my system before it all faded. I suppose written vomit is all that Breaking Dawn Part 2 really deserves now that I think about it, so frankly I don't feel like I'm going to lose any sleep about it. I just hope that the memory of what I just saw fades into the background of my mind quickly, because I sure as shit don't want to ever think about Bella, Edward, and their pals ever, ever again. Fans take this shit very, very seriously indeed, but if you're not a teenage girl who swoons at the very thought of a vampire then you won't be able to take it seriously in the slightest.

So shit, it goes past good and back to shit again. That's exactly how shit it is.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Hello friends. I'm back from Meredith, complete with lizard lips, sunburn, a lost beanie (RIP), and a slew of the most wonderful memories imaginable. At the moment I'm writing a bit of a gushing post about the three days spent dancing and laughing in a monster onesie, but it's slow going given the fact that I'm still beyond exhausted.

Having said that though, I haven't had a complete write-off of a Monday.

I've made a Facebook page for this ol' blog. I figure in this time of uncertain employment, I might as well try to be as constructive as I can. Usually that equates to watching way too much Downton Abbey and an obscene amount of Community, but as it turns out I do occasionally muster the energy to do something useful with myself.

Job-hunting? Ain't no one got time to job hunt. 
You can head over to the page in question, 'Like' it, and keep yourself informed and up to date with my posts and other writing and shitty drawings and other amusing rubbish like that. I've also been a bit more Twitter-tastic of late.

Go, go, go! Follow, like, share, etc. If you'd like.

Monday, December 3, 2012


That's right. Birds are hilarious. 

I think that birds are hilarious to the point that I've almost swerved my car off the damn road while looking and laughing at a bird. Such was the force of my laughter. In fact, I'd hazard to say that birds are what distract me most when I'm driving around. Apart from dogs. Birds are a close second. Birds are what distract me second most when I'm driving around. Not attractive, snake-hipped men, not the pretty girls in summer dresses, not shiny cars or beautiful vistas. 


I'm not distracted by birds while they're flying, mind you. What's so special about a flying birds? Nothing. That's what birds do; they fly. It'd be like saying, "Oh boy! Look at that toaster toasting!" or "Look at how that leaf blower blows leaves!" or being amazed at Charlie Sheen as he goes about a drug-fueled rampage. 

Basically, I think there's an entirely under-appreciated and oft-ignored world of delight to be had watching birds as they go about their business on the ground. In watching majestic and super cool winged animals journey from A to B using their lesser limbs.

Have you ever watched a bird walk? It's amazing. It's adorable. It's like watching the most awkward, nerdy and ill-equipped-for-life person you know wear a pair of trousers about four sizes too small, hoisting them up as far as they'll go, and then being told to march into battle.

Birds are incredibly clumsy, uncomfortable and awkward when they walk, and it pleases me no end. So graceful in flight, yet such dorky, waddling nerds on land. Even eagles, such majestic and powerful beings when in the air, are truly, truly endearingly gawky when they walk. Maybe it's precisely because birds are so impressive in the sky that I find them so endearing and comical when on the ground. In any case, I think I'd like to hit a dance floor with an eagle; we'd be a match made in heaven.

Seriously, look closely at the next bird you see walking. You won't be disappointed.

Finding that short clip just sent me into a Youtube vortex of birds walking that lasted about an hour. An HOUR. Of watching puffins, crows and penguins waddle around, and watching a toucan fall into a sink. 

Please don't show me any more photos of the baby.

Please. Stop. Just, please stop.

There are only so many times I'm able to muster up the false enthusiasm and high-high pitched cries of "Oh, how cute!" that one is obviously obliged to make when a photo of a small human wearing a bee suit or eating something or taking a shit is thrust into your eyeline.

There are only so many variations on the theme of "OH, that is ADORABLE!" I can make.

There are only so many times I'm able to pretend I'm the slightest bit interested before I'm likely to spontaneously combust, or climb to the top of a bell tower, or just tell you outright, "THAT BABY LOOKS LIKE A KNEE."

Let me be clear: I don't hate your baby. Nor do I have anything against your choice to create another human being. In fact, chances are that I was (and probably am) quite excited for you. It's exciting stuff! A tiny baby popped out of your or your cousin's or sister's or sister-in-law's or your special lady's lady's lady parts! Circle of life, sunrise sunset, so on and so forth. Please note however, that the further removed I am from the baby's circle of existence, the further away I can feel my excitement becoming and thus the further away my interest in seeming excited is.

If I'm being honest, I probably was genuinely excited even during those first few photo sharing moments. If it's your baby, I was definitely excited. That's super great. My exclamations of "that is the cutest thing I have ever seen!!!" were, while a little over the top, mostly sincere. Let's put it about 90%. The actual cutest thing I have ever seen is probably more along the lines of puppies playing, but point is I would hypothetically actually be super excited for you.

Put it this way: If you bombard me with photos of the baby every single time I see you, obviously my interest is going to wane. Do I show you a new photo of my dog every time I see you? No. No, I don't. And my dog's actually cute, unlike the alien-like being with the overly large head that's on your phone. That might be a little harsh, but come on - am I the only one who finds the vast majority of babies incredibly un-cute?

Obviously I know this opinion will most likely be an unpopular one, but I'm on a roll here so I'm just going to barrel on.

I do find some babies cute. My friend has a particularly cute baby. So I bought them an awesome book about a bear, and actually uploaded a picture of said cute baby onto Facebook because it was making a ridiculous face.

If you show me variations of the same thing about ten million times every single time we cross paths however, my reactions are going to turn from "AWW!" to "Mm-hmm". Apart from being occasionally awkwardly un-cute, babies are mostly pretty useless. There's only so much they can do. They sleep, they cry, they eat, sometimes they cry or eat while sitting. Sometimes they poo or throw up. Maybe my knowledge of babies is limited, but I guess that's partly because when I was a kid I avoided my little cousins like the plague and now all the photos I see of babies from friends are of babies sleeping or crying or eating or sitting or throwing up.

Again, there's only so much of that I can take.

Their faces always kind of look the same: confused, or constipated, or asleep. Or all of the above. Cute yes (unless you or your kin just have a weird looking knee-baby), but not after a thousand pictures. At the very least, learn to edit your photos. Make it a Best Of album, not an anthology. For the love of all that is holy, please edit. And while we're at it, your baby does not need a Facebook profile. Nor does it need to post "status updates" from within the womb.

"Can't wait to meet Mummy and Daddy!"


Just, no.

On the other hand, if you just got a new puppy I will look at every single one of the photos you've ever taken of it and I will squeal uncontrollably the entire time. I want to see all of your puppy photos. Scratch that, I want to see all of your dog photos. All of them. I will look at all of them. I'll sit with you and listen to all of the adorable stories of your adorable dog doing adorable things. I'll ask many questions about your adorable dog and I'll then clap my hands with glee when you tell me the answers.

I believe at this point I've exhausted all of my reserves of anger and irritation on the subject, so I'll sign off. IRL, I'll continue to attempt to keep the excited reactions happening for as long as I can.