Listening to Triple J Again

Friday, 29 July 2005
Yes, I am reclaiming my youth. After several years of absence, I've just started listening to Triple J again. (For overseas readers, Triple J is the national youth/alternative radio station). I don't remember why I stopped. It wasn't intentional. But gradually, about five years ago, I slowly started making my way up the radio dial to hits 'n' memories radio, to the extent that I could do perfect air guitar to "More Than A Feeling" and knew all the words to "Winds of Change" by the Scorpions.

I really hadn't realised how bad the problem was, until this year's Hottest 100 countdown, when I was vaugely familiar with...three of the songs in the Top Twenty. Compare that with, say, the years 1995-99 when I would have known the words to pretty much all of the 100 songs every year. But around mid-2000 I got lost, and stayed lost for a few years. I didn't listen to new music, read new books, watch many TV shows or any new movies...the result being now that I am hopelessly culturally out of touch. Whenever someone asks me, "Have you read/heard/seen..?" the answer is always no, because I never have.

Anyway, that moment of musical confusion on Hottest 100 day made me feel panicky, and old. It didn't bother me that, for instance, the only band in a Big Day Out line-up that I'd have heard of was The Beastie Boys (and I thought they were dead. Rock n Roll pathos sort of demands that they should be). I mean, I wasn't going to go to one anyway; if I was going to spend a fortune on a show, it would be more like Cirque du Soleil than a music festival. But when I realised I'd turned into a grumpy old woman who knew absolutely no modern music, I resolved to start listening to Triple J again. Although it took me six more months, till last Tuesday, to do so. I put the radio on as I normally do in the afternoons, and made the slide down the dial the short but treacherous journey from 102.9 to 102.1

It's unfamilliar territory. I don't know any of the songs. At first I felt rather frightened, and wanted to return to the soothing security blanket of my old station - I mean, what if they were playing Supertramp or Dragon doubles, and I missed them?!? But I perservered. Even though so much has changed. Take the DJs. Where are Helen Razer and Mikey Robbins at breakfast? Or Calamity Jane? I don't know who the hell these new people are. And (getting mad here) what happened to the J files? What is this new music? It all sounds the same, and I...

See, this is why I need to keep listening to Triple J. To guard against my own instincts to slide into a comfortable but dull and shockingly premature middle age.

Well, I'm doing that much. But one small step at a time. Excuse me, I'm off to check house prices in real estate agents' windows, buy some hanging plant baskets and organise home and contents insurance.


There is one measure in which I'm undoubtedly cool. My new ringtone on my new phone is "The Moe Connection" (Moe, Moe, Moe! Why don't you like me, nobody likes me!" from The Simpsons. Now if only someone would ring me, I'd actually get to hear it.

Weight As a Self-Esteem Issue

Wednesday, 27 July 2005
Yes, it's an oft-discussed topic, but I'd like to put a fresh slant on it. I think I'm gaining weight because, since I am so fabulous, logically there should be more of me. No, no. My weight gain is due to one reason only: massive consumption of food. 

It began a couple of months back, when I re-started work. I always gain weight when I'm working, for a few reasons: I drink less (barely at all during the week) so it gives me more of an appetite; and also I'm simply awake for more hours of the day, and you don't get so hungry when you're asleep. At the moment there's another factor; since I only work half-days, I get real bored. And I love to cook, and I have more money to buy all the ingredients I want. 

The result is, I'm currently spending several hours a day cooking elaborate dishes - which, since it's winter, tend to be heavy, comfort food meals - and eating them all myself. At first this wasn't a problem. I was so thin that I felt no guilt about eating whatever the hell I wanted. Now, though, several weeks and even more kilos down the track, it's really catching up to me. Supposedly, women put weight on their hips and thighs. Not me. I load the kilos on my stomach. And I'm sprouting a lovely potato bake-praline-cheesecake- and pastry- belly right now.

It's not like it really matters at the moment. Although the past few days have been unseasonably, disturbingly warm, normally right now we're swathed in so many clothes that everyone looks like a pregnant Eskimo. However, soon enough, the weather will warm up and I will have to strip down to...the ankle length skirts and loose t-shirts that constitute my summer wardrobe, whether I'm 45kg or 58kg.

So it's not like it really matter ever! I'd go get a Snickers, but they've all been recalled in NSW because of an extortion threat. Guess I'll settle for a Boost (they're new, but they're good). Dammit, who cares any way? I've been getting around in this body for over a quarter of a century now. It may be getting a little wobbly, and I'm nowhere near as flexible as I was, but I like it.

The Cheesecake Incident

Monday, 25 July 2005
Proudly, on Saturday, I acquired a handmixer. (I'm finally starting to accumulate all the basic household appliances - well, it's only been seven years since I left home, and one shouldn't rush these things). So I decided to fulfill a long standing ambition, and make a cheesecake...well heck, aim low, reach your goals and avoid disappointment, I say!

So with great enthusiasm I bought all the ingredients, set up all the equipment and got to work. The crumb crust was easy enough, and I happily set it in the fridge to chill whilst I prepared the filling. That was where the trouble started. Although I'd taken the stuff out of the fridge an hour before, due to the cold weather the cream cheese was still rock-hard. What to do? I don't have a microwave (though at this stage, I do hope to purchase one sometime around 2009) so I decided to try very gently softening it on the cooktop.

Let me tell you right now, you can't "soften" cream cheese this way, just make it very sticky...and still hard. Sighing, I moved the stuff to a mixing bowl (dirty dish Count #1: saucepan) and added the eggs. To make the further discovery that there was too much mixture to fit in the bowl, and I had to add the remainder to cereal bowls (dirty dish count #2: three bowls). Still largely undaunted, I put my hand mixer into the bowl, switched it on...and nothing happened. Well, nothing happened to the cheesecake mixture. The handmixer is useless and my electric toothbrush has more action. However, plenty of mixture ended up on the walls.

I gave up on the handmixer (dirty dish count #3: the handmixer, all it's attachments, and one kitchen bench and backsplash) and attempted to get the stuff into the blender. This proved very difficult. The blender has nasty blades down the bottom which have to be avoided to get things in or out. Plus the blender is next to the kettle on a different kitchen bench. By the time I'd finished sort-of blending the stuff, the dirty dish count #4 was the blender and all it's attachments, the kettle, the other kitchen bench, and now the carpet which acquired a great deal of cheesecake mix on the way (my crappy old kitchen has crappy old carpet).

By now, me vs cheesecake: it was personal. I was determined to get this damn thing cooked. Desperately, I retrieved the crust from the fridge, and attempted to pour what was left of the mixture into the shell (dirty dish count #5: more mess on the original bench, dirty dish count #6: any number of spoons I'd used to get the stuff in and out of bowls, blenders etc) before getting the pie plate into the oven, in the process slopping god-knows how much mix on the oven wall and floor (dirty dish count...oh, forget it), setting the timer, and turning to survey the kitchen.

Well all I could say about my kitchen at 1pm yesterday was how nice it is in downtown Fallujah. I'm not a great fan of mess it must be said, but this was a doozy. The only consolation was that I didn't have Xander underfoot to get in the way; terrifed by the loud and constant string of profanities I'd vocalised for the past hour, he was very sensibly hiding under my bed.

Which were only increased when I realised that I'd forgotten to add the lemon juice, so the cake would be sickly sweet.

Normally I'm a very good cook. I cook from memory not from recipes, and I've never had a cooking disaster before. So this was perplexing and eerie, like seeing Shane Warne preaching marital fidelity, or George W. Bush reading and enjoying Finnegan's Wake. With a heavy heart I began to clean the kitchen, although it took me so long and was so depressing that I considered instead setting fire to the house and throwing myself on the mercy of the court.

After all that time, effort and expense, many hours later when the cake cooled down, I was left with a bland, sugary concoction I didn't like at all. Not to mention vaguely homicidal urges. So next time...well, I really do remember why I like dining out!

Restaurant Doesn't Rule

Tuesday, 19 July 2005
So last night like the dutiful daughters we are, Kitekat and I showed up for The Father's birthday dinner.

Here we are, making the place look at least 68% more gorgeous.

He's 51 (God, what a the time my parents were my age, they'd been married several years, and I was a toddler. I can't look after anything except myself - barely and with a lot of help - and my cat. Whom, come to think of, I haven't seen for a few days). We went to the restaurant attached to the local pub, and I ordered a steak with cheese sauce. I had my heart set on a big, juicy steak. So when my meal arrived, I was shocked and dismayed to discover that it was covered in a brown sauce with mushrooms, totally contrary to my order. I eat most foods, but I HATE mushrooms. I'm never good at masking my emotions, and both the waiter, and everyone else at the table, noticed my disgust.

Waiter (sorry, food and beverage attendant) : Is everything all right?
Nico (through gritted teeth) : No, I ordered steak with CHEESE SAUCE. This is covered in mushrooms.
W: Well, I could take it back to the kitchen and scrape the mushrooms off.
N: (looks askance) I'd still be able to taste them.
W: Okay, what if we cook you another meal?
N: But everyone else will be done eating by then.
W: Well...(looks confused)

Finally Father offers to swap his garlic prawns for my steak. Don't you hate having to be an adult sometimes? I accepted in a reasonably graceful manner, when what I wanted to do was repeatedly bang my head on the table and chant "I wanted steak, I wanted steak, I wanted steak." Anyway... I ate most of the prawns (or shrimp, to American readers) but they weren't anywhere near as good as the divine Chilli Prawns I had at Scratchleys last week.

The waiter kept coming over and apologising and offering me a free dessert. I just thought, "Why not a refund?" but no dice. But I maintained my dignity and impeccable manners throughout, except when I was embarrassed to discover I'd used the wrong fork to stab said waiter in the leg (there really ought to be more on this subject covered in books on modern manners).

Have A Photo of Xander

Monday, 18 July 2005
A proper post to come soon...when I actually do my work.

In the meantime...enjoy this (not too bad for the first shot taken with a camera phone I think!). Is he the most gorgeous creature on Earth, or what?

Here Comes Trouble - The Coalition Takes Control of the Senate

Friday, 1 July 2005
Yes, today is the day that the Government takes control of the Senate. John Howard, our redoubtable Prime Minister, has promised that the government will not abuse this power. Actually, what he really said was, "I solemnly swear to the Australian people that this Government will not abuse the trust that the voters have placed...ahem, ahem...I'm sorry...MWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!"

Just out of curiosity, I headed over to the Liberal Party website to check out their "core beliefs". Here they are, with my parenthetical addenda:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.
"You, dig a hole. You, fill it up again. Or you'll both lose your meagre unemployment benefits. Angry? Well, that's not government interference you're feeling, that's initiative."

We believe in government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor's corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
Yes, who wants to pay those niggly little taxes? Better put big taxes on everyone and be done with it.

We believe in those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy - the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.

Think happy thoughts!

We believe in a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.
As long as they're Australian families. And we always uphold the rule of law - though the laws may change at any time.

We believe in equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
Come on, show that initiative - take out expensive health insurance and put your kids in private schools.

We believe that, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals - not government - are the true creators of wealth and employment.
Compete, no; prop up - yes!

We believe in preserving Australia's natural beauty and the environment for future generations.
Look at those business parks and housing developments! Beautiful. Future generations won't know any different.

We believe that our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations.
We're the ball-boys for the US World Domination team.

In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you.
And I bet the Xmas bash is a really wild affair.

Look, I don't mean to sound so bitter. Plenty of that from those who vote Liberal. Imagine how far those of us on the Left would get if we were as loud and angry as conservatives? That's our problem - we are as passionate about the things we believe in as they are about what they believe in, but we respect their right to have an opinion; they don't respect ours. Labor may or may not be dead in the water, I don't know. Maybe Mark Latham is simply subconsciously protecting himself i.e. "If I can't be a part of Labor, that's okay, they're not going anywhere anyway." (Pete Best probably said the same thing when he left the Beatles. Apparently before his recent retirement, Best was working as a career advisor in Liverpool. Good grief, imagine taking career advice from Pete Best.)
Or maybe he is mad.

Well, may notice on the Liberal website, there's a link to "What others say about John Howard". There are - count them - two responses. Imagine if there were responses from a cross section of the community, or responses from the kind of people I like to have as friends or - woo! - a response from Latham?
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