Category Archives: Life & Times Of

A Post In The Key of Boxing Day

Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for the food baby, whose cries were growing steadily in intensity and pitch as the night wore on, sending shivers of guilt through anyone who heard them as they reflected on the various animals they had consumed the previous day and the extra helping of Grandma’s trifle that had seemed like an excellent idea at the time but over the course of 24 hours had twisted itself into something that tasted only of regret…

Christmas came…and are you feeling satisfied? Maybe you should call the number on that billboard that promises LONGER LASTING XMAS. Apparently it’s in a nasal delivery spray (because everyone knows that a man who uses a nasal spray during foreplay is going to have the best sex of his life).

These days the build-up to Christmas is always a drawn out affair that seems to take months (if you start counting the days from the first appearance of Christmas items in the supermarket in mid-May), only for the day in question to disappear faster than those last few slices of pork on your plate. Christmas has performance anxiety. It’s a 15-year-old boy who’s just got a girlfriend and who has been holding out for a glimpse of some boobies, only to get ‘over-excited’ at the final second and end the whole party waaaay to early.

However fleeting it is, the feeling of Christmas is the plot of the film The Purge. It’s 24 hours where diets and calorie counting are thrown out the window and everyone turns into Biggest Loser contestants on a binge and is suddenly excellent at cricket. And while this seems like Grinch-esque cynicism, I promise that it’s wrapped in tinsel and secretly believing in Santa Claus, because I love Christmas. It’s a great holiday and despite the usual grumps whining about traffic and petrol prices and commercialism , it’s a time of happiness (real or feigned) and family (real or feigned). But as with all great parties and binges there must come a ‘day-after’ and with Christmas it’s a one-two punch hangover special.

Boxing Day (besides being named after all the leftover cardboard and/or pugilism) is the warped incest baby of Christmas (because it’s not Christmas until someone mentions incest, right??). It takes many of the key aspects of Christmas and turns them on their head, and not in a hilarious sitcom way. No. Not like that at all.

4 Ways Boxing Day Will Break Your Heart And Your Christmas Spirit.

1. Eating without Consequence
Boxing Day arrives with a sad look in the mirror as the memories of wolfing down a third helping of potatoes and lamb rattle to the surface and your reflection gives you a look that says: I wasn’t even sure we could consume that much pudding. What was acceptable yesterday suddenly makes you ill today. And the justifications of ‘but everyone else was eating just as much’ do little to assuage your guilt and instead make you sound like a Nazi on trial for war crimes. This state of roast regret results in your previous New Year’s resolution of “Be happy and finish that one-act play you’re writing” become replaced with “Eat only spinach and quinoa”. Which is nowhere near as fun and involves eating a food that’s spelt like someone with no limbs fell onto a typewriter.
(Note: This is also compounded by the almost zombie-like consumption of any candies/chocolates that you were gifted yesterday until your fingers scrape bare cardboard and you think, “What’s that sound?” Sadness. That is the sound of sadness.)

2. Being Social with People
Even the craziest of cat ladies enjoys the company of actual people on Christmas Day. Swapping gifts with far-flung relatives and checking out your distant cousin’s hot foreign girlfriend. It’s all part of the fun of the day. However as the sun rises on Boxing Day morning and you decide to participate in some casual shopping or even just a coffee out in public, every single feeling of goodwill towards your fellow man is suddenly and violently replaced with a bubbling hatred that is threatening to spill out and bathe the streets in blood. Especially that woman with the pram ahead of you who has ignored the sign that says no prams and is now stuck on the escalator causing a backlog of sweaty, angry people trying to get their hands on discount perfume. It also becomes evident as you silently plot the death of everyone around you that no-one received spatial awareness for Christmas…

3. Buying Things
Some people argue that Christmas has gotten too commercialised (albeit they do this from their newly received iPhones) and yes there is an element of capitalism that has attached itself to Christmas’ green and red husk. But everyone loves it. Buying the perfect present, getting the perfect present or just getting stuff in general. It’s fun and it means I don’t have to buy any underwear for at least another year. And yet once again Boxing Day takes this m and turns it a commercialised juggernaut were the hero of the story is $anta Clau$$$ and his ‘Make It Rain-deer’. I talked briefly above about the insanity that sweeps the streets during Boxing Day sales, but it’s so absurd that it deserves its own category. The fact that some people do Boxing Day sales instead of an actual Christmas Day is also just disturbing… Basically if you’re buying a TV before the sun comes up there’s something wrong with you. The other thing about this is the idea of ‘saving money’ with these ‘great deals’. Some people queue up for hours outside a store that sells $1000 plus crystals. Why? Because there’s a discount, Duh! Great! So you only have to mortgage half the house in order to buy that giant glittering swan riding a unicorn… Although I did take advantage of them mad mad sales, because who can resist a giant red sticker saying: SALE!?

4. Being “Good” At Cricket
A proud tradition of the Australian Christmas is the annual game of backyard/beach/riverside/bush cricket. A game where the rules are simple: If you hit grandma you’re never playing again. Now I’m not very good at basically most things involving moving at a speed, catching and throwing, good use of hand-eye co-ordination and generally exerting myself BUT for one glorious day it doesn’t really matter how good you are, if you make an excellent catch that gets your uncle out…you may as well be Superman. It’s a wonderful thing. And then what happens on Boxing Day? The actual cricket. And you’re suddenly reminded of how terrible you are at hitting a ball and running back and forth. Although funnily enough the key rule is still the same: If you hit grandma you’re never playing again.

But soon Boxing Day will be over and then it will be New Year’s Eve and then 2014…and oh my god how did that happen? How did the year slip past unnoticed like that? I’m going to investigate. Here…have some leftover lamb, I know you want to.

Merry Boxing Day
Treed.

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A Brief History Of My Automotive Exploits.

My current car is my third. My first was a hand-me-down relic of the automotive industry that had spent so long in a stationary position that it had accrued a small ecosystem in the form of lichen, spiders and moths. It was the vehicular equivalent of a sloth that slowly becomes home to algae. It was a beautiful behemoth of a thing that rattled and groaned and struggled up inclinations over 10 degrees. However affection and crossed fingers did not create the necessary combustive process to keep it going and eventually I had to trade up and across and I downsized to a cube.A half-car, essentially it stopped at about the point where most cars back seats started.

It too was a faithful fuelled companion and had the added of bonus in that it didn’t smell like the set of Mad Max every time I turned the ignition over. Unfortunately my second car didn’t last very long. In fact a family of improperly spawned and maintained sea-monkeys outlived my little half-car. My new automotive relationship lasted a week before I attempted to inhabit the exact same space at the exact time as another car coming the other way. Apparently you can’t do that. So my half-car became a two-thirds-car. From the front seat backwards the car was pristine. However the third with all of the important car related bits in it was spread out across a stretch of intersection near a railway line.

Which completes the journey to my latest four-wheeled accomplice. It’s original master lived across the road and took pity on the wreck of Car no.2 that sat on my family’s front lawn for a lot longer than it should have. Perhaps it was a deliberate manipulation of emotions, a strategic placement of a busted dream so that it was in full view of the neighbours and therefore would cause them to come to my aid. I’m not that clever. I drove my car into another car remember? (Strangely enough, I still have that dudes number in my phone…because that’s a great number to drunk dial: “Heeeeyyyy! I ruined your brother’s car and your girlfriend hates my guts…”)

Anyways. This is basically a complicated way of saying that I am currently writing this on the metal block pretending to be a balcony that juts out from my apartment, and in doing so I have an excellent view of the world below…and the people trying desperately to find a park within it. The reason I brought up my own experiences with cars is because I wanted to talk about my parking anxiety. It’s the sort of shortness-of-breath-clammy-palms-shaking-knees-oh-god-oh-god mania that overcomes even the best of us in certain situations. For some people it’s when they have to order a particularly complicated sandwich at a cafe. For others it’s the moment of fear just before you commit to greeting someone with a hug, a kiss on the cheek or a combination of the two without knowing if they are prepared for such a greeting.

Parking anxiety is compounded by the pressure of other vehicles sitting right on your tail, your passengers giving you disparaging looks and the fact that if you go just a little too far to the right you will leave a big dirty smear down the length of an Audi whose front bumper costs more than you’re whole car. However my parking anxiety transcends beyond just my own parking frustrations and extends out to feeling that sense of unease and sweatiness when watching total strangers park.

Like right now.

I realised I was holding my breath as I watched a green Commodore slowly revolve precariously close to its neighbour, it’s driver stuttering backwards and forwards as they tried to navigate the tight turn from the road to the safety of the white outline. However in the same instant as being gripped by vicarious panic, I also felt a strange sensation pass over me. From this vantage point I realised that there was quite a bit of space. An abundance of space between what the driver saw as the edge and what actually constituted the edge. And as I expanded my gaze across the other parking spaces I saw that many of the other drivers had misjudged the space they were allowed and had hugged one line or the other.

It was a profound moment for me. A sense of freedom and peace. I no longer felt my sphincter tighten at the thought of nudging my car into the gap. It was like turning on the light and realising that the ominous shadow in the corner that bore an uncanny resemblance to Slender Man was really just a lamp with a jacket thrown across it. It was kind of like being cured.

I say kind of because while from my lofty height above the cars and the commuters rushing around everything looks fine, as soon as you hit ground level the miles of free asphalt suddenly transforms into a cat’s arse in a vice. The horrible feeling came back and I knew that if I was in my car trying to flick my car into that space, my bird’s-eye view would count for jack, instead it would be replaced with the flat expanse of terror presented from below. It’s like turning the light back off again and realising that you don’t own a jacket…or a lamp.

Panic is all in the perspective.

Anyway this whole thing was really just an excuse to sit in the sun, I had planned on writing a short story about a fat man…but that will have to come with the next ray of sunshine predicted for later in the week (what am I made of motivation and creativity???)

Good luck with your driving.
Treed.

This post is in loving memory of my green Toyota Lexcen: You served me well old girl.
And my white Mazda: You were taken from us much too early…
RIP Guys.

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Dear Andrew (An Open Letter To The Guy Who Used The Cubicle Before Me)

Dear Andrew,

I’m not entirely sure that if that is your name. In fact I don’t know your real name because we never exchanged details such as names, birth dates or favourite Sherlock Holmes mystery…so I have given you one.

First of all I would like to compliment the shirt you were wearing today. I really liked it and felt that it did a lot for you. In fact I can see all sorts of lovely people coming up to and engaging you in conversation based on your choice in shirt. The colour was slimming and really highlighted your eyes. So good work on the shirt choice there buddy.

Unfortunately your aim is not as a good as your wardrobe.

Now I understand that it’s a serious time of year right now at our mutual place of study. Things are building towards a grand academic climax and that brings with it all sorts of anxieties and strange behaviours. And maybe as a result of this change in mood you’ve been pulling some serious study shifts. Shifts that include the consumption of large cartons of Russian coffee, the kind of coffee that causes the drinker to suffer an effect very similar to a Religious seizure, and maybe a little bit of meth.

Just a little.

Maybe that’s what’s going in your life Andrew. And maybe it’s causing you to suffer a little bit, but whatever the reason I seriously think you need to be careful what you’re ingesting as it seems to have turned your penis into a Wacky Weasel garden hose attachment.

You know the sort I mean. It behaves like every other garden hose, only it has an attachment that causes jets of water to spurt every which way while the hose wiggles crazily out of control.

I can only imagine that this is what happened when you decided to take a pee in the cubicle before me, as there is no other logical explanation for what happened in there. It was almost as if you were deliberately aiming for everywhere else but the toilet bowl, but I feel like I know you well enough, Andrew, to know that you wouldn’t do something like that. Which is why I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here.

Now I can understand why you opted for a cubicle over the urinal today. There was an influx of students travelling between classes and I can see the logic behind your thought process, but perhaps the meth and coffee has also melted your brain a little bit too. As that is the only way I can understand why you chose to urinate with the seat down, especially considering the (assumed) unpredictable nature of your genital’s movements.

I understand that there is a sense of pride instilled in men who believe themselves capable of peeing with the seat down and thus displaying their superior aiming prowess, but let me just say to everyone and not just you, dearest Andrew, THAT IS NOT A THING.

I’m sorry, pride be damned. Whatever Freudian theory you have for doing it, it’s stupid and pointless and the only thing you’re proving to anyone is that your ability to piss on a seat is first class. Just shelve your insecurities for a half a second and lift the lid up.

So I do hope that wasn’t the motivating factor for your scattershot approach, Andrew, because that would definitely sully my view of you as a general all-round nice guy who just made some bad life choices…

Basically what I am trying to say, Andrew ol’ pal, is that in future it would be in your best interests to perhaps lift that seat up to give you a much larger surface area to cover (especially if you’re going to continue consuming that study boosting cocktail of coffee and amphetamines). It’s nothing personal, just a little advice. That’s all.

No hard feelings of course.

However if I happen to catch you out again and find myself standing in front of a toilet seat dripping with piss as you swan out of the restroom in your stupid shirt, I may have to take some drastic action in the form of buying a second-hand catheter on eBay and coming after you in your sleep to ensure that you never have the trouble of worrying about your aim again.

All my best and good luck with your study.

Sincerely, Tom.

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Tom’s Adventures In Fitness.

Exercise. It’s one of those things that I avoid with the sort of relish and dedication usually seen in recovering alcoholics when they walk past the pub. To give you an idea of how anti-exercise I am, the sneakers I currently own are from 2006. I bought them when I was fourteen for a school camp. And despite this fact, they look about six-months old. This is not due to some magical anti-ageing footwear spray. This is simply from being preserved and protected in a fine layer of dust.

If there is a way (or even if there isn’t) to get out of participating in the act of deliberately exerting myself then I will I find it. Unlike that other E-word, excuses come to me naturally. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but they do. I can make excuses for just about anything. I will apologise and make excuses for food that I haven’t prepared if it wasn’t very good. I give inanimate objects the benefit of the doubt and try to justify their inactions. My excuses cover a wide range of topics, but they come to the fore when it comes to why I don’t exercise.

“I don’t have enough money to afford the various forms of personal fitness afforded to me, a young twentysomething in the city.” is a personal favourite, as is “I just ate and don’t quite feel up to it.” The list is long and varied. Which is why it came as such a startlingly surprise that I recently found myself inside a gym. A building designed with the sole purpose of exercise in mind. There is no other way around it. It is a building of a singular function. The only other architectural marvel that comes close in terms of a narrow-mindedness surrounding it’s purpose is a prison. An apt coincidence if you ask me.

My arrival in this hall of pain and muscle-mass was (weirdly) deliberate. I was not abducted by a mob of personal trainers, tied-up and tossed into a bag. Nor was I lured by the promising smell of baked goods emanating from the gyms glass doors, only to find myself locked inside once I crossed the threshold, duped by a boutique candle. Really it’s my girlfriend’s fault, but before you protest and say that sexual and emotional blackmail does not a ‘deliberate’ choice make – allow me to expand.

While it is true that my first foray into fitness machines and grunting behemoths came as direct result of my girlfriend signing up and using her ‘free-trial pass’ on me, what happened next was not her fault. She is blameless in this. What happened next was entirely of my own doing. After completing an hour of what I had originally thought would be hell but turned out to be a treadmilling purgatory, I was given the option of leaving. Of never coming back. I’d made it clear to the lady at the desk that I wasn’t interested, and she made it clear that that was totally okay. She didn’t even try to coerce me into anything. In fact…I ASKED HER ABOUT MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS.

Maybe there was some crazy reverse psychology marketing plot at work. Maybe I’m an idiot. Maybe my belief that I wasn’t being coerced was in fact me being coerced. There are a few maybes floating around, but the cold-hard truth is: I joined a gym. I joined a gym about a month ago and I’m still going. That’s right. I am still (deliberately) walking down to the gym, handing over my little card, going in and exercising. And while I’m not about to break any records for muscle mass gained or metres ran, it’s a big step-up from my pervious forms of exercise (walking from kitchen to the lounge room [which in small apartment is about half a step] and sitting up from lying down after tactical naps). Not only that but I persisted with my attendance even after my body was destroyed by a ‘free personal training session’ (which I have now learnt roughly translates to: a free test of your body’s ability to stand up under torture if you were ever kidnapped by extremists for six days). Yeah. I’m scared too.

So what have I learned from my initial adventures in fitness? A bit. I now feel guilty when I ate an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s (this guilt is usually soothed by another tub of Ben & Jerry’s and the cycle repeats until I’m crying into a pool of melted ice cream). I don’t resent stairs as much (we aren’t friends but we can no co-exist, kind of like China and America). I’ve also found that it’s an excellent way to clear my head from all the clutter that I pick up throughout the day. And some of those machines aren’t really contraptions designed by the guy from Saw. In fact some of them are okay. However there are some other observations. Some…interesting discoveries about the specimens who hang out at the GYM. An entire sub-genre of humanity that hang-out amongst the bikes and weights and sweat. Here are some my favourites (and least favourites):

  1. Proteinero Maximus: Those guys who seem to flake a fine layer of protein powder onto everything they touch. The guys whose penises are so small they have to absorb extreme amounts of various supplements in order to justify their own existence. These guys walk around showing off the biceps on their biceps and generally act like whatever brain cells they had, fell out during some serious upper body work-out. They stare you down when you’re starting to navigate equipment (because urinating on it as a sign of ownership is just slightly unacceptable) and they make noises that would make a nun blush. They also shit. A lot. Loudly. Causing that particular part of the changeroom to smell like someone let off a small localised atom bomb made of asses. Mostly harmless though. If you ignore them they’re low self-esteem will cause them to go flex near something with boobs in the hope of making them forget about their tiny, tiny willies.
  2. Texty Texty Tit: You see them. They kind of look like you (the uninitiated) and they don’t seem to have a clue about how the machines work. What they are really good at though is using the machines as reclining furniture on which they can relax and text so and so about this and that or update their Facebook profile to let everyone know “They’re @ the gym #workout #gymlyf #lololol smileyfacesmileyfacerocketshipcat!!!”. Now again, while I am not a hardcore gym enthusiast I do understand this isn’t how one should use a leg-press machine. And frankly while I am also slow and still finding my feet (and abs) I actually use the machines for their intended purpose. These iPhone addicted morons will be lucky if they do half of a stomach crunch or lat pull (look at me pulling out the lingo). Harmless in the way that pigeons are harmless but everywhere and just generally in the way.
  3. The Biggest Loser Candidates: Not to sound like a dick or anything, but for someone like me the biggest thing that was keeping me out of the gym was people like the people outlined in point 1. I didn’t want to drown in testosterone. And while there is occasionally a risk of that (timing your arrival to avoid peak-periods does the trick) for the most part it’s pretty chilled. And the best part is that there are a lot people who are in worse shape than me. These guys are making a go of it. Big dudes or dudettes who want to lose weight and get healthy and all that but who’s life stories didn’t have anything poignant enough for reality TV. They sweat profusely and can’t run as fast as regular people so they make you feel better about yourself. Does this make you/me a terrible person? Probably. But does it mean I feel a wee bit better about myself ? Fuck yes. Does it also mean that the slight pang of guilt makes me go a little bit quicker? Oh yeah. So it all balances out in the end.
  4. That Old Guy Putting You To Shame: Not to be confused with the above, this dude is in his late 80s and looks deceptively like a stiff breeze would send him into the next room. And initially you see him and are buoyed with confidence that once again there is someone worse than you at this (in the early days of gym participation this sort of thin gets you through). And then the fucker starts cranking out sit-ups and push-ups and chin-ups and running like death is after him (which is probably the case) and you just watch in awe as grandpa is not only better than you, he’s better than everyone else in the room. A word for the wise: DON’T TRY TO KEEP UP WITH HIM. You will die. The Grim Reaper, who was already puffed from chasing the old bastard, will pause to catch his breath, see you panting and choking and pat you on the back as if to say: I know right.

So that’s all I have time for today. I’m off to go and exercise (or should that be exorcise?) the days demons away. Before you start panicking though, don’t worry I’m not going to turn into a protein guzzling, low-cut singlet wearing, douchebag. I’m still the same idiot I was before. I still have the same runners. Just slightly better lung capacity when going up stairs.

Treed.

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An Emerging Pattern.

I’ve always found the expression ‘a creature of habit’ an odd phrase.  Mostly because it conjures images of strange animals dressed like nuns wandering around performing daily routines over and over. And when people say it to me I automatically go that place and think: “No. There’s no way I look like a pig-rat with rosary beads straightening furniture.” But let’s be honest, I am a behemoth of habit. My habits are steadfast and immovable. Like a powerful, metaphorical pillar of truth and justice, my habits and routines are hard to shake loose and stand strong whatever the weather. However unlike said metaphorical pillars of truth and justice my habits are really a metaphor for cyclic patterns of laziness and stubbornness.

You may have noticed this in the form of my lack of blogular activity since I announced to the Internet that I was journeying off to create a new blog with cool short stories and I was never coming back because this was the THING I was going to do forever. Well now I’m back, sheepish and apologetic that once again I have used my break from Uni to avoid all forms of regular posting. There is a pattern emerging (couldn’t you tell from the title?). As soon as I get some breathing room from studying the posts dry up like so many good similes/analogies. And then there’s the small matter of vowing to do something with increased regularity and then that too evaporates.

BUT.

But all is not lost. No, from the ruins of procrastination come a sexy, sexy phoenix of productivity and ingenuity.  I have decided that the pieces that I was going to post elsewhere can instead be housed here. I still have a few unpublished scribblings in a notebook that didn’t quite get onto the blog before I got bored, missed my regular posting deadline and then for the sake of saving face couldn’t ever go back (like when you call someone the wrong name by accident and then never speak to them again to save yourself from the absolutely crippling awkwardness that you know will come the next time you speak). So essentially what that means is that there is going to be some remodelling up in this bitch. Some slight shifting of this wall and an addition of a new kitchen and laundry. Maybe even a water feature. Probably not though. It will probably just be Christmas lights wrapped around a sink.

What are these lovely new additions? Well I’m not totally sure yet, I do know that I will make some adjustments to the categorical nature of these posts to include the runoff from The Urban Sprawl (the blog I mentioned earlier that has now stalled and will relocate over to here in the form of sub-sections, but that you can still suss out over via the link above if you wish). But keep watching the skis. I mean skies.

Other than that I have been keeping busy by freaking out about my last semester of Uni starting last week, grudgingly agreeing to accompany my girlfriend to the gym (you will hear more about this in a future post, promise) and contributing to a film/tv/book/music blog run by a friend. You can check that out RIGHT HERE. Which brings me to the topic of discussion today:

When You’re Writing Something About A Film and Your Girlfriend Repeatedly Borrows Your Laptop and Adds Her Own Pieces of Reflective Commentary to the Piece.

Rolls right off the tongue.

So like I said I’m writing these film analyses for a mate for his blog (there’s another guy on literature and another on music and said mate is in charge of the televisual aspect), and like the title suggests I was getting some outside, unsolicited help from a very persistent red-head. Her interjections were not your run of the mill “I am a loser” hacks. Oh no. There was a thought process going on, an intent to almost continue on the train of thought I was halfway through writing…which is why I felt it necessary to share them with you. The piece was about Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects (2013) and this is how it went down.

In this first one I wrote from ‘You’ to ‘facetious but’ and then Michaela’s contribution is the rest.

“You may think that the whole pill analogy was a little bit facetious but really, when you think about it, elephants are a bit facetious so I make a valid point. What’s really awkward is when people actually take them seriously. All this Elephant Conservation bullshit pisses me off. That’s not what the elephants want! They’re just being a flippant and having a good old time, and occasionally they may do something a little bit mischievous, like pretend they’re becoming extinct and the whole fucking world takes it the wrong way and decides not to poach them anymore. It’s just ridiculous. Do you think Dumbo really cared that he had big ears? Well allow me to let you in on a little secret: he didn’t. He thought it was funny and the best part was, he fooled all you fuckers into feeling sorry for over something that started as a bit of lighthearted fun. As for his bitch of a mother, I guess that was a little bit sad, but everything has to die eventually right? In conclusion if you still think my pill analogy was a little ‘tongue in cheek’, let me leave you with three words to mull over: Boat. Fucking. People.”

So she manages to turn the discussion into whether or not elephants actually need protecting or are instead just having a bit of a laugh and even gets to chuck in some topical stuff on boat people. Right. Next came this. My words end at ‘forgiven’.

“Considering the film focuses on the pharmaceutical you could easily be forgiven for seeing the parallels between it and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (2001). We could assume (although never explicitly shown in the film) that Satine was taking some sort of drug during her suffering TB, or for those who aren’t quite up with the medical lingo, TUBERCULOSIS. Was she addicted to these drugs? I think so. Was the addiction ever highlighted? Of course not. What kind of musical movie would it be if you found out your leading lady was addicted to a drug that made her alarmingly okay with sitting on a swing 100 metres above the ground, dressed as a flamingo and with no safety harness. The film would then become a crazy mix between a Cirque du Soleil show with voice-overs done by David Attenborough.”

A unique take on Nicole Kidman’s performance and one that was probably unnoticed by pretty much every other person who ever watched the movie. Although she does a very good job at combining two completely unrelated films. Also a lack of profanity this time. But rest assured it came back for the third and final of Michaela’s hijacker analyses. I stop writing at ‘sees’.

Side Effects sees inside what most of us, as humans, never will. Interestingly we as people tend to believe that we are the superior race, but what most of us choose to ignore is the presence of a creature that, up until this movie, has hidden in our shadows, biding it’s time until we least expect it. It’s meant to be ‘Man’s Best Friend’ but really it’s man’s worst fucking enemy. It’s a silent killer that pledges it’s loyalty to those who are FUCKING BLIND and need help doing everyday shit and the kills them when they are trying to read Braille: The Labrador. Yes, it may look dopey but the lab is far from it. A killer in your own backyard, your aged care home…and no-one has suspected it, until Side Effects.”

This is perhaps my favourite, simply because this has to be made into a B-Grade Horror film by someone somewhere. Forget Sharknadoit’s Labrademon. Starring that adorable dog from Napoleon all grown up and vicious as all get out. Besides that though what have I learnt from this? There is a very real chance that my girlfriend is a lot funnier than I am. And now I don’t know what to do.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed today’s offering and thanks to my special ‘contributor’ Michaela Powell. Keep an eye out for more posts and changes soon.

TREED AWAAAAAY!

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A Very Brief Message In The Form Of Shameless Self-Promotion.

So.

This is just a quick thing to let you know that I’ve started a little writing project over at another blog.

The project is called The Urban Sprawl and is a series of stories and myths about the city of Melbourne.

It would be much appreciated if you went and checked it out. You know to make me feel loved by faceless strangers on the Internet. It is the best form of nourishment.

Here’s the link: The Urban Sprawl.

I will continue to post other ramblings and growlings here with the same infuriating irregularity as before, but I will be putting a little bit of attention into this new project (because I’m a bad person and I get sucked into the shiny new thing way too easily, blame it on television…it ruined me) so don’t press the panic buttons if I’m not hanging around here for a while.

xoxo GossipTreed.

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This Is A Story All About How I Stole The Opening Lyrics From A Famous TV Show And Made Them Into A Bad Title.

So after much speculation and debate I have come to the conclusion that Autumn is my favorite season. It is a season like no other. It’s mixture of mildly warm days and bitterly cold ones is a perfect combination for writing and adventuring. You can seize the carpe out of some diem when the sun comes out and the air is crisp (more on that later) without sweltering away in  a matter of moments (you can also wear beanies which are my favourite form of headwear, running a close second to Carmen Miranda fruit hats) and then when the cool air suddenly turns more aggressive and invasive you can hole up somewhere and get to the writing or snuggling or coffee drinking. Also coats, without the constant drizzle of winter.

Yep I’m an Autumn man. People crap on about how great Summer is and how it’s the be all and end all of the seasonal calendar. But to me Summer is kind of like that friend you don’t see very often who occasionally shows up for a few weeks and you’re really excited to catch up with them, and it’s great when you do because you’ve forgotten how zany they are and you have an excellent time but then it slowly starts to get a bit grating after the seventeenth vodka and Red Bull and you realise that sometimes they can be a bit of the dick and you remember why you didn’t really like them in the first place.

Autumn on the other-hand is a combination of hopping into bed with your special someone (or cardboard cut-out with their head attached, am I right guys?) after a long day of Uni/work/species enslavement as you cuddle up to watch the latest Game of Thrones and finding money in a pair of pants that you haven’t worn in ages. Autumn is that friend who you don’t see much but who doesn’t mind and who you feel like it hasn’t been six months since you last spoke, and you don’t mind that they shed leaves everywhere as they walk around because the leaves are so pretty…wait what?

Anyway this is a long-winded way of me saying I done some more writing. Like my last attempt at Flashing My Fiction, this too stems from a challenge from Mr. Chuck Wendig (you can suss out the challenge here). This time the task was to somehow incorporate psychic powers into the story, and there was a list of twenty powers to choose from (seriously just click on the link, he explains it way better than I am right now). My randomly assigned psychic power was Faith Healing…it’s a little over the word-count because I am bad at editing. Yes I am just full of excuses. Excuses and Milo cereal.

Atticus Saint: The Anti-Faith Healer.

The house leans hard to the right. There are two mohawked women, standing on either side of the crowd slowly ambling into the backyard, searching people for contraband. A sign looms over their heads with red slashes through cameras of all kinds.
This is strictly an eyes-only event.
However that isn’t the only thing not allowed through the gate.
There are also several red lines through what appears to be a crucifix and another through the Star of David. I notice that one of the girls has a small basket overflowing with various religious necklaces and pendants.
I reach up to touch vacant space around my neck. The collar’s not there of course. I’m not that stupid but as I’m waved through the gate, I can feel the lack of it burning into my skin. It feels wrong.
I mutter a little prayer of apology.

The crowd is dense and a lot of the people here today move around on crutches or are in wheelchairs. There’s one woman dragging an oxygen tank behind her. All of them are here to see him.
Gradually the flow of people moving into the backyard stops and the mohawks begin ushering people to a take a seat under a marquee. I have to admit, for all the anti-religious sentiment the whole set-up feels a lot like a travelling Gospel show.
I shuffle onto a row of seats and find myself sitting between a girl with a crooked legs and a blind man.
The girl smiles at me.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Oh…oh I’m just here to…”
I wave my hands at the rickety stage. She nods.
“Just watchin’ huh? Lotsa people here are just watchin’.”
I go to ask her what’s wrong with her when a hush falls over the crowd and a handsome young man walks out onto the stage. He grips the microphone and casts an eye over the crowd. He looks different up close. But then I get a glimpse of a group of people waiting backstage and realize I am mistaken.
He does indeed look different. The man waiting in the wings is a lot sicker than I imagined.
“So…ladies and gentlemen, Atticus can only do one showing today. We are sorry, all of us. Especially Atticus, but it takes its toll… Somethin’ I’m sure you all understand.”
There’s a general hum of agreement from the audience and the young man lets the apologetic grimace slip from his face to be replaced by a broad grin.
“But enough of that, please put your hands together for the man himself. The man you came all this way to see: Mr. Atticus Saint! The Anti-Faith Healer!”
There’s rapturous applause and I can’t help but feel excited.

He shuffles slowly across the stage, visibly aided by two people. He’s leaning hard on a cane, mirroring the house.
It’s hard to remind myself that he’s only 26.
He looks sick.
No.
Terminal.
His hair is thinning and his eyes are sunk right into his head. Whatever youthful energy he did have, it’s been sapped out of him. His knuckles flare white over the top of the cane. He’s putting a lot of effort into remaining upright, but despite his outward appearance, you can feel something bubbling underneath.
He gives an appreciative smile and waves his free hand over the crowd. The hubbub dies down immediately. Anticipation replaces adulation.

Atticus Saint is different to the other healers I’ve gone to watch. Different from the others I’ve read about. Beyond the obvious anti-religious sentiment he preaches, he doesn’t mess around. No preamble beyond a simple thank-you for coming and being so understanding bit. Just straight down to it.
I guess you can get to it quicker when you don’t have to thank God for fourteen minutes before the show starts.
He extends a finger at the woman I saw earlier. The one with the oxygen tank.
What happens next is also very low-key. There are no theatrics. He asks her for her name, it’s Jennifer, and where she’s from, she’s a local actually.
“What’s wrong with you Jennifer, why are you here?”
Her reply comes between gulps of air, “Emphysema.”
Atticus nods solemnly at this and then asks her to remove the mask. She hands it over and I watch as he reaches out and takes hold of her face, delicately at first and then squeezing down hard, Jennifer cries out suddenly and her body contorts a little.
Atticus’s grip on the cane slackens and he is sent reeling away from the woman. Two handlers are right by his side, propping him up. He’s panting hard but he doesn’t leave the stage, despite the insistence from the MC.
His words come out with an emphysematic wheeze, “Jennifer…Jennifer? How do you feel?”
But it’s obvious from her face. She’s breathing. She bursts into tears. The crowd bursts into thunderous cheers. The girl beside me lets out a whoop.

Atticus’ face is a mixture of pain and relief. Jennifer throws her hands up to the sky and lets out a joyful yell. “Praise Jesus! I’m cured!”
She realizes what she’s done as soon as the words are out of her mouth. The crowd does too. The cheers dribble out. An angry buzz fills the yard. Jennifer clamps her hand over her mouth, terror filling her eyes.
Atticus’ face twitches into a hard mask. He looks at the ground. Speaks at the floorboards.
“No Jennifer. That’s not how it works…”
The yard is quiet. No one makes a sound. Jennifer goes to apologise. She trips over the syllables.
Atticus explodes.
“NO! That’s not how this works!”
He pushes himself from the grip of the handlers and wheezes over to Jennifer.
“This isn’t a miracle Jennifer. This isn’t an act of God. I am a man. I am just a man.”
Jennifer hasn’t moved from her spot on the stage.
He shakes his head, anger swirling across his face.
“You know what happens now Jennifer. If you want Jesus to save you, then I can’t.”

Jennifer is still whimpering when he grabs her. He crushes her face under his boney fingers and you can see her starting to struggle. To panic. And the crowd is silent, but Jennifer is howling.
And something is happening.
As the woman’s body twitches and contorts in pain, Atticus’ body twitches and contorts too…but it’s different. You can see it clearly. He’s getting healthier. The sunken eyes are swelling in their sockets. His hair is growing and the pallid wash that covers his skin is starting the glow. Jennifer’s body on the other hand is crumbling.
Everything that was wrong with Atticus is now wrong with her.
When it’s done he lets her go, she drops to the stage, shaking and coughing up black blood. She’s barely alive.
Atticus is the picture of health. Fit and handsome. Wiry muscle visible beneath the open shirt. Alive but his eyes are cold and angry.
He looks out over the crowd.
“I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here. This isn’t God’s doing. This isn’t some holy power. This is just a man.”
And with that he strides off stage.

The girl beside me is as white as a sheet, she grabs my hand. The blind man finally makes a sound.
“No…there’s no God here.”
And I agree with him.
There’s just a man.
He can take all your ills away from you…
And he can give them all back…

FIN.

Ahh because there’s not a more pretentious way to end something than that. Have an excellent Autumn.
Treed.

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Filed under Creative Catharsis, Life & Times Of