My Last Will and Testament.

Last week I got diagnosed with high blood pressure, which wasn’t really surprising as it’s hereditary and my dad and older sister have been blessed with it too. It doesn’t really mean much, there’s not many symptoms (although my dad’s face used to go this awesome puce colour, but that could have also been due to how annoying it must have been to have three teenage daughters) and from the little I’ve read (I should probably take more of an interest, but I’m still not over making ‘I have old man disease’ jokes), there’s not many long term issues if you keep it under control.

Yesterday I picked up my meds for the first time and unfolded instructions that were as big as a to-scale map of the world that listed all the things I can’t do. I can’t breastfeed, which is obviously heartbreaking, because my next career move was humanitarian wet nurse. I can’t operate machinery. I’m not sure what they mean by machinery. Forklifts? Hairdryers? My television? If it’s the television, there’s going to be issues. My microwave? I once put foil in my microwave and when the garlic bread in the foil didn’t heat up, I put it back in for another go. It was only when it sparked that I remembered the rule about metal and microwaves. I think it is best that I stick to not operating machinery.

My favourite part was the possible side-effects. After reading it, I rang my dad to see if he’s ever experienced any of them. He was saying that he hadn’t and I was all ‘Well…let’s see, oh look! Insomnia and irritability! Well I have those two already so we can ignore them!’ and the volume of his laughter suggested to me that he finds me both irritable and irritating, so let it be said: should I pass from this world suddenly, I hereby declare that I am leaving all of my unused blood pressure medication to my older sister and not to my dad.

Them – Eating Homework

This morning I woke up and it was Friday and it was sunny and I’d had a good bit of sleep and a cute outfit to wear and an idea in my head to wear my hair in two plaits on top of my head like a milk maid and so I was obviously in a very good mood, and when I’m in a very good mood, I tend to listen to hip hop and this morning, I decided that I am currently very obsessed with a track called Eating Homework by a band called Them (later Themselves). How could anyone feel bad when listening to this?

My favourite part is the last “verse” in the last minute of the song.

Wherein I discuss breasts.

For about a week I’ve been in a really bad mood. I don’t know what brought it on, only that it’s that teenage kind of anger, where you’re in your bedroom and you know that nothing short of running away is going to change anything, but you can’t run away because you spent your last $30 on a CD (remember when CDs cost $30?!) and you’re sitting splay-legged on the floor, crying, one hand flopped listlessly beside you, the other clutching a tape that your VCR just chewed up which was a compilation of music videos you’d been painstaking recording from Rage every Friday night for the last three years.

Also, all your clothes suddenly seem ugly.

Anyway, that’s been me all week and last night my best friend called me from all the way across the other side of the country to say ‘Um, you seem angry, is everything okay?’ and we discussed stupid nonsensical anger which somehow turned into a conversation about bra shopping, which made me even angrier because bra shopping is hell.

I’m not sure how to say this without it turning into some soft erotica. My nameless best friend and I are both…generously endowed. I don’t know about her, but between the ages of 16 and 23 I was high-fiving myself every day about my chest. Now, not so much.

And so I said to her, I said ‘Bra shopping is the perfect example of how I’ve been feeling. You know when you’re in there and you’ve got all sorts of checks to do, like is anything coming out the top…’

‘Or the sides, or the bottom and there’s three mirrors looking at you from a million angles and there’s the harsh light!’ she interjected, excitedly, knowing I would understand.

I continued, ‘And because you’re stacked, you also want to know what everything’s going to look like in motion, so you do a little jog on the spot and maybe a few jumps? You know that? Yeah, well once I was in Big W trying on bras and I was irrationally pissed off and I was doing my little jog, and someone walked in on me. And then once I unfolded myself from the cringing ball I fell into on the floor and took off that bra and was standing there topless, someone else walked in on me and you know what? In both cases, it was a mother and their young daughter. I felt like hissing ‘Welcome to your future”.

That right there? That’s been my week: angry, flushed and topless in front of horrified strangers.

Books: January – April, 2011 (part three)

The Great Shark Hunt – Hunter S Thompson
Generation of Swine – Hunter S Thompson
Songs of the Doomed – Hunter S Thompson
Better Than Sex – Hunter S Thompson

These four books make up Thompson’s Gonzo Papers, which I guess could be loosely summed up as collections of his writing from several different decades, most of which is closer to the standard definition of straight journalism, more Hell’s Angels than Fear and Loathing

This was the first time I read them all back-to-back. Reading a lot of his work made me realise that for such a long career, his output was actually quite small (the Papers are fleshed out with extracts from Hell’s Angels, The Rum Diaries and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and while the ingestion of enough chemicals to kill a lesser man certainly added to some of his writing, towards the latter part of his career, I think it adversely affected both the quality and quantity of what he wrote. It says a lot that I’d still prefer to read his later work more than anything by almost any other author.

I find it hard to write about why I like his style so much. There are just sentences that pierce me.

For anyone who asks about him, I usually recommend The Great Shark Hunt. It’s a wide collection of his writing, some sports, mostly political and the perfect example of why he should never be written off as a drug nut who just happened to write Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson – Hunter S Thompson

A few years ago Penguin released small books, mostly extracts I think, like small tasting plates to condition you for certain authors and this was one of them.

All you need to know about Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson is that one night Hunter thought it would be a good idea to deliver an elk heart to Jack Nicholson’s doorstep. He also had a flare gun. And a loud recording of some screams. Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson is about what happened next. 

Bossypants – Tina Fey

I love Tina Fey because I love people who can laugh at themselves. I have no problem telling you that I keep my cereal next to my cat’s biscuits even though the boxes are the same colour and that I’ve accidentally had a breakfast of cat biscuits before. Why? Because the world is a shitty place and people do horrible things to one another all the time and I’d prefer to spend the vast majority of my life laughing with you about your weirdness or my weirdness than being horrible.

Suddenly shit got serious and this was all about my philosophy on life.

Ahem.

Bossypants is for the most part really interesting. I didn’t know much about how Fey started out and there’s a bunch of cute anecdotes about her family and friends and it confirmed for me that she’s the sassy best friend I want to have who will shut the shit down with a zing!

Probably my only beef with it is that it gets wrapped up really quickly kinda like ‘And that’s why you should never ask a woman when she’s going to have kids. Thanks, bye’. David Sedaris is the master of letting a funny story take you on a walk and then bringing it back to where it began and finising  it with a compelling aha! moment. That’s the only thing I wished for a little more of here.

And so those are the books I read in the first third of the year*!

 

* I am not David Sedaris.

 

A Story I Wish Happened to Me

Today I was thinking about chocolate frogs. Not about eating them, as they tend to be that cheap chocolate that disperses in your mouth and covers your tongue with an odd white layer of fat, but just thinking about them in general, as a concept.

That reminded me of dissecting cow hearts in high school science. We were all dissecting away, when someone said ‘Hmm. There’s something in my cow heart’. We all crowded around, the teacher pushing to the front with desperation in his eyes, obviously hoping for some sort of scientific breakthrough which would mean he could quit being a high school science teacher in a freezing Catholic school and retire to a comfy, high-backed armchair in front of a fire, in his personal library*.

We watched with breath that was baited as the girl slowly removed a large, hard object from her cow heart. More and more of it was revealed, until she gave it a quick yank, and out popped a whole chocolate frog.

I’m not saying it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s up there.

* I can confirm that his career did progress. He was later urinated on by a dead rabbit, when he hit its bladder with a scalpel while dissecting it in front of a class.  

bossPod

/bôspäd/ (say bospod)

noun 1. An iPod containing nothing but the music of American singer-songwriter Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, nicknamed “The Boss”. Normally used to entertain groups of adults on road trips in the United States of America.

Books: January – April, 2011 (part two)

The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

I liked this book, as much as you can like being inside the head of a psychopath about to self-destruct. Thompson seems to make it real so easily, a bit like Cormac McCarthy, a broad picture is somehow painted using very little excess of words or descriptions.

I made the mistake of watching the movie right after I read the book. I thought Casey Affleck was cast well, but that was about it. The power of the book lies in the fact that all the violence happens with you in Lou’s head, but in the movie you have to watch it as a bystander, forcing you to empathise with the people Lou destroys as he does it, rather than experience the cool detachment Lou feels before it builds to a frantic, white noise climax.

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

This was another suggestion from someone on Twitter.

I have historically had huge issues with Russian to English translations. For a while everything I read left the characters cold and detached; however, I loved Master. It’s a very odd tale about the sudden appearance of Satan in Moscow, along with a scary cast of his minions., including my favourites Behemoth (a giant gun-toting black cat) and Azazel who has fangs and who doesn’t love fangs?

It’s primarily a satire about bureaucracy, but it’s also a really fun romp through religious iconography and is strangely funny and quite sweet. Except if you are the poet who loses his head.

The Amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

People on Twitter have excellent taste in books, for this was yet another suggestion.

I’d heard of Chabon, but I also hadn’t read much fiction in years, so I didn’t know what to expect, both from him or the plot, which is, in a nutshell, the story of two Jewish comic book creators who take on the insidious creep of the Nazis.

There are fun nods and winks throughout if you’re a comic book fan, but regardless, the plot was very intriguing and the characters beautifully broken and torn.  

The Fran Lebowitz Reader – Fran Lebowitz

I love satirical books that have dated slightly, in a way it makes them even funnier. The Lebowitz Reader combines two of Fran’s books, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, and is basically Fran Lebowitz Guide to Maintaining Wide-Eyed Innocence While Mocking Everyone and Everything.

I’ve always loved Fran. I love her photos at parties and on best dressed lists because her facial expression is always bemused, like ‘What? I’m just about to drink this, are you done?’. After reading this, I wanted to write her a letter and ask if she wanted to be my best friend, please tick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

I highly recommend this to both my sisters, and to you, and also to my mum. I laughed aloud every time she mentioned how she doesn’t like children because they don’t smoke.

Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible + Fried: My Life as a Revolting Cock  Chris Connelly

I thought this book was going to be so interesting. Although I’m a mild Ministry fan at best, their music has a place in my life, normally twice a year after a lot of bourbon, but I thought an insight into the era preceeding the creation of the band would make for a curious read. Turns out the title doesn’t lie. Connelly’s mind is fried and he writes like that horrible drunk dude who’s somehow at every party and who tells his two interesting stories over and over and then cries because his mum wouldn’t let him get a puppy 20 years ago.  

This book was bad. I was expecting it to land somewhere in Neil Strauss territory, a bloated, hyper-egotistical, but generally amusing look at white male excess. Instead Connelly can barely string a sentence together and seems to forget that the reader wasn’t there, so the in-jokes make no sense, nor do his random references to people who suddenly appear and are never mentioned again. It should have been a sign that I needed to put it down and walk away when I got to page 12 and J. G. Thirlwell’s name was misspelled.

Basically the book seems to exist as a rather limp attempt to get under Al Jourgensen’s skin. Play nasty in private boys.

MAD

When I was a kid, I loved MAD. Oh I used to guffaw while reading it, wearing my Garfield glasses (which came with wind-up windscreen wipers), tapping my bubble pipe, slapping my knee as I cried ‘So true! So true!’ while I read The Lighter Side of…

Those were the days.

Edit: My mum also just reminded me that for years I had a Bart Simpson-shaped alarm clock that said ‘Yo dude! Time to get up and get out of bed!’

I had to end Bart’s life when he started talking in the middle of the night.