May 31

When I was a kid I loved Spam. My ideal lunch was Spam and pickle toasted sandwiches. Sadly, in these modern times, the word “spam” refers to something far more sinister (and far less tasty): unsolicited email.

Most days I get about a hundred or so emails, only a few of which I actually want. Lately I have been getting a lot of spam relating to fake watches, which makes me wonder if we are seeing a shift away from the popular penis enlargement spam genre.

In the interest of science I went through my unsolicited emails and sorted them into categories. I intended to go through one week’s worth, but got tired of it and stopped at 200. The results are shown in the colourful bar chart below (y-axis is % of total, n = 200):

It’s clear that penis-related spam (Viagra, penis enlargement etc.) is still way out front, followed by the recent fake watch phenomenon which is fast catching up. I still get lots of spam about pharmaceutical products and various other scams (password phishing etc). “Legitimate spam” refers to mailouts by Amazon, Borders and the like, which I really should opt out of as I always delete them instantly.

Imagine for a moment that I am the average internet user. I am male. (I can’t recall ever seeing an email that suggested I get my vagina enlarged, shrunk, or reconstructed in any way.) The most important thing to me is to “supersize my schlong”. I want a pill that will give me “incredible gains in length and thickness”. Once my sex life is in order, I really would like to know what the time is, preferably by consulting my replica Rolex or Breitling timepiece. I want to quit smoking and lose weight for summer. I want to gamble and buy cheap software. A career means little to me, although I am happy to get the edge on my rivals via the purchase of a fake diploma.

Maybe it’s time for me to address my spam problem, before it gets seriously out of hand. Apparently Bill Gates gets about four million emails per year, mostly spam. Jef Poskanzer, owner of the domain, claims to receive over a million spam emails per day!

Hmm, it’s almost lunchtime. Wonder if there’s any Spam in the fridge…

May 30

Dear friends, I have a shocking secret to reveal.

For some years now, I have been living with the medical condition hyperbilirubinemia, commonly known as Gilbert’s Syndrome (GS). Now, before you rush to the phone to bid me a teary farewell, never fear, my condition is not terminal. In fact, let me assure you, it is almost entirely benign.

GS is an inherited disorder that results in elevated levels of the pigment bilirubin in the liver. Under conditions of stress, fatigue or anxiety I may turn yellow. So don’t become alarmed should this happen in your presence.

When I was younger I noticed the whites of my eyes often had a yellow tinge. This was in my early twenties, when I was busy with work and study. My yellow eyes were noticed during a BHP employee medical, and a battery of tests were undertaken. The doctor broke the devastating news to me, I had Gilbert’s Syndrome.

Luckily for me, there is a wide support network of GS sufferers on the internet. One website I found is called “Survivors of Gilbert’s Syndrome”. To use the word “survivors” seems a tad emotive, considering the condition is in no way life-threatening. However, this website did provide me with one gem of information: among potential symptoms it includes “chocolate craving”. So now I have a medical reason to indulge my love for the bewitching products of the cocoa bean.

Take one twice a day after meals

So, friends, treat me gently. Remember, I’m medically unstable and your unkindness may inflame my latent hyperbilirubinemia. And should I turn yellow, give me chocolate immediately.

May 29

Recently I happened to drive past the computer store where I bought my first IBM-compatible computer, way back in 1991. I was surprised that the store was still there after nearly 20 years in the tumultuous home computer hardware business. Then I began to get all misty-eyed about my first real computer.

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May 23
Top Dog
icon4 May 23rd, 2008 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon3No Comments »

While doing some “research” on the internet recently, I came across the perfect gift for that special someone in your life.

I am talking about Prisoner – Cell Block H: The Complete Collection. Allegedly the largest DVD boxed set in the known universe, this monstrous 179-disc beast comes in what looks like a reinforced steel suitcase, contains all 692 episodes and retails for a mere $1,599.

Assuming each episode runs 50 minutes, this gives a total of 34,600 minutes, or 576 hours. If your job was to sit and watch Prisoner eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take more than three months to get through it all. And that’s not including the special features!

Grab your copy now!

Vinegar Tits enjoys the sweet taste of TaB

May 22

It is with great disappointment that I inform you, my loyal readers, of a recent attempt to compromise the editorial independence of this fine publication. I won’t mention the culprit’s name – you know who you are. But let me make it clear, no amount of intimidation could ever persuade me to include a discussion of Kingswood Country in the Weekly Retro Classics series.

For starters, take a look at the ridiculous opening titles from 1981:

Furthermore, the writing in Kingswood Country was abysmally bad. The writers apparently dug up some old Love Thy Neighbour scripts and replaced “sambo” with “wog”. The show was a televisual abomination, the pointless and predictable storylines ripe with racist and sexist humour. This was a programme clearly intended for the most mindless and easily pleased members of the viewing public. The fact that I myself watched it religiously as an eleven-year-old only confirms this. (Secretly, I wanted to be Craig, the Bullpitts’ medical student son, whose raison d’etre is simply to bonk a succession of ever more buxom babes.)

However, script quality aside, I must pay tribute to the marvellous Ted Bullpitt, a towering character who ranks alongside other legendary cinematic creations such as Ben-Hur, Spartacus and Jesus Christ. That Ross Higgins was passed over for Oscar nominations time and again is criminal. Higgins possessed an Olivier-like ability to captivate an audience, often simply by wandering around his loungeroom with a longneck in one hand and a pewter beer mug in the other.

Not unexpectedly, a lot of people tuned out of Kingswood Country when Ted traded in his beloved Kingswood for the more upmarket Commodore. When Ted’s wife Thelma left on an extended cruise, never to return, it was a death knell for the series. Maturing viewers such as myself began switching over to more intellectually stimulating shows such as Cop Shop and A Country Practice.

Incredibly, a spin-off titled Bullpitt! ran in the late ’90s, with Ted – the only character from the original series – now in a nursing home. Who the fuck watched this?! I hear a one-off special is planned for 2010, consisting of a single 90 minute shot of Ted’s gravestone. Ratings should be through the roof.

Anyway, I’m off to wash Neville the Concrete Aboriginal.

[Jaye, leave yer money on the fridge - Ed.]

May 19

As I was browsing the society pages in the Sun-Herald “S” lift-out (the “S” stands for “Shite”) I noticed a photo with the following caption:

“Peaches Geldof with musician Patrick Wolfe at an after-party”

Here is the photo:

Apart from the fact that the pissed young couple in the photo look 11 years old, and as though they had recently been exhumed, what caught my eye was the use of the phrase “after-party”. And also that it doesn’t say what the after-party was actually after. Apparently the after-party is now an entity unto itself.

This led me to ponder the concept of the after-party. For instance, is it possible to have an after-party without doing anything special beforehand? Or must it absolutely be after some other event? How big must an event be to warrant an after-party? And who decides?

The next time we have friends for dinner I am going to insist on it being referred to as an after-party. It is, by definition, after whatever you did before the party. Hey, Bill, what did you do before you came here? I went grocery shopping. OK, for Bill this is his grocery shopping after-party.

Flipping back through several pages of weekend social events – and endless snaps of vapid starlets and their prosimian* partners – it seems nearly everyone was at an after-party for something or other. Not a plain old regular party to be had in Sydney last weekend apparently.

So why refer to it as an after-party? Why not just say “Peaches Geldof with musician Patrick Wolfe at a party”? I’ll tell you. Because any old prat can go to a party. But to get into an after-party you have to be “somebody” enough to get invited to whatever happened before the party. (Or in this case be the semi-legitimate sprog brat of someone who was once “somebody”.)

What sort of name is Peaches anyway? Why not use the singular Peach, makes more sense than the plural – there is only one of her after all. Although if you had twin girls, perhaps they could be referred to collectively under the single name Peaches. Like Bananas in Pyjamas. Peach 1 and Peach 2.

Anyway, gotta dash. I’m off to host my own Monday night yoga after-party. Highlights will be eating scrambled eggs while watching Hell’s Kitchen season 4. See you there.

* prosimian: primitive primates having large ears and eyes and characterized by nocturnal habits

May 17

Last night Rach and I went with Emma to see The Painted Veil at Roseville Cinema. We were the youngest people there by a margin of approximately forty years.

Old people (a.k.a. “senior citizens”) are forever going on about youngsters ruining their night at the movies. I’ve read many letters to the editor on this topic; tales of young people using their mobile phones during the movie, throwing things at the screen, making noise, running around, and so on. Well, let me tell you, old people know how to fuck up one’s cinema experience as well as anybody.

Even before I went inside, it began. I was waiting patiently in the “candy bar” queue, about three from the front, when a demented old biddy breezed by on the inside clutching her thrippence-ha’penny, heading for the counter. She demanded immediate attention, wondering aloud why she could no longer purchase aniseed balls for tuppence a hundredweight, as she did the last time she went to the movies in 1936.

The theatre itself was quite full. We were an island of youth floating in a sea of senility. As the pre-movie ads rolled, I ate my choc-top with a growing sense of unease. More old people were filing into the theatre, surrounding us on all sides. Their wheezy murmurings were starting to get under my skin.

As the lights dimmed the volume of elderly chit-chat didn’t drop. The movie was rolling, the story was beginning, and these old farts were still crapping on about the prunes they had eaten that morning, or Mabel’s hysterectomy, or whatever.

I couldn’t concentrate on the film that I had paid good money to see. I did the turn-around and scowled at the lady across the aisle, hoping to scare her into silence. I could see Rach was annoyed too, and I was on the verge of a general shush when the noise finally began to subside.

During the film the elderly misbehaviour continued. One guy in the audience would guffaw at the most inappropriate moments. When Edward Norton said to his wife, in all seriousness, “Sit down, or I shall strangle you”, this guy laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

The old bat behind us specialised in the running commentary. Perhaps her husband was deaf and blind, I don’t know. When Naomi Watts suddenly threw up – clearly from morning sickness – she leaned to her husband and whispered “She’s pregnant”. When Edward Norton was on the verge of death from cholera, his face grey and gaunt, struggling to say a few last words to his wife, she insightfully commented, “He’s dying”. Gee, thanks for the explanation.

Were old people always this annoying? Not in my day.

May 14

There are rats in our roof. They are up there in a training camp for the Beijing Olympics, hoping to secure their spot in the rat-athlon squad. Rat-athlon is a multi-day event comprising five disciplines: clawing, scampering, biting, wrestling and gnawing.

I saw their coach the other day; an older, portly rat in a brown tracksuit. He was sitting outside my window, checking if the weather was good enough for a spot of outdoor cross-training.

Come August 8th I will be sitting in front of the television, waiting for our rats to pass in the opening ceremony. I know our nation’s ranking in rat-athlon is low, and I don’t harbour hopes of a medal, but the Olympics are not just about winning.

May 13

She takes me to where the bird lies, naked and squeaking on the dirt. I, being the man, take the bird in hand; the humane solution. No grip, the throw is weak. The bird hits the wall without force and falls limply to the concrete. We run away laughing, ashamed.

(50 words)

May 7

When I was a kid I loved Iron Maiden. I first heard them when I was twelve, during Christmas holidays at Forster in 1982. I was hanging out at a friend’s caravan, and he put on a cassette of The Number of the Beast album. When I heard “Run To The Hills” I felt something move deep inside of me.

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