Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Word of the Week

The word of the week comes thanks to a T-shirt sighted on the day that Lindsay Lohan began her jail sentence. It bore the word ‘Linnocent’. Now seeing as that’s a new word, I feel it holds room for definition.

Linnocent – to be guilty and deserving of punishment while remaining convinced you are being wrongfully persecuted. Example: “OJ Simpson was Linnocent.”

This opens a large door out onto a world of possibilities. Celebrities as definitions.

– to steal the limelight of a stunned person with a meaningless protest. Example: “Taylor never saw the Krashye coming.”

(as in, ‘to have a Sheen’) – to have a seemingly indestructible career, no matter what one does. Example: “He had such a great Sheen, even threatening his wife with a knife didn’t stop him getting a pay rise.”

I am certainly not going to pretend to be linnocent when it comes to the creation of words myself. Neither is Sarah Palin (just another thing, on top of moose-hunting and creationism, that the former governor and I have in common). Sarah Palin’s life is so full of up’s and down’s it’s practically Shakespearean, which is why she likened herself to the bard. There’s no point refudiating that fact (there’s a twitter account called Shakespalin now, so it must be true).

Just for your reference…

– reject an idea or premise. Example: “It’s hard to refudiate that she sees Russia from her house, when she can’t help but wonder if it’s true.”

Painefull Out

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gen Y & Proud

When did people my age become society’s generational piñata? When did people stop calling each other ‘dickheads’ and start calling each other ‘Gen Y’, as if the phrase holds equal venom?

When people use the words ‘Baby Boomers’ it evokes cooing affection, as if to say “Oh, aren’t they sweet with their cardigans, and their worldly advice, and their delayed retirement.” When people refer to ‘Generation X’ they’re overcome with visions of edgy cool, as if Winona Ryder invented disinterested chain smoking and that became their inheritance (they seem to be the last group of people in the world that doesn’t have to justify their nicotine addiction).

But ‘Gen Y’ is somehow shorthand for the person at your office that you can’t stand, the girl on the train holding a blackberry and an iPhone, and the barman who recently quit uni and is still living with his parents. It’s like we’re the go-to villains for daily living – if life was a movie we would be the Nazis.

For some reason it didn’t bother me when my siblings replied to any momentary indecision on my part with, “You’re so Gen Y.” But then my parents picked up the habit. Then I heard a couple of 40-year-olds mutter it when a boy skate boarded past and got in their way. For one thing, the boy was under 10, so I think the Twin Set Posse doesn’t actually know what Gen Y is. For another thing, you know who else is not Gen Y. Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods and the former Mr Sandra Bullock. So, just to be clear, being Gen Y doesn’t actually mean you’re the devil.

Sure we’re selfish and smug and generally irritating. We may think the world owes us something while being outraged we need to give anything in return. There’s the high chance that our obsession with social media will lead to the downfall of humanity, and yes, Lindsay Lohan is among our number. But we never tried to make you wear tencel jeans, just like every generation before us we to have been dragged into a war we don’t like, and as with so many people our age we are yet to come across any proof that we are actually wrong (about anything). We haven’t had our chance to stuff up the world yet.

We didn’t invent the Yuppie, we just perfected it. We didn’t create workplace ambition, we just turned having a career into a blood-sport. We’re not indecisive, we just want one of everything. Peter Pan was created long before we refused to grow up, and of course we don’t like hard work, that’s what Google was invented to get rid of. Why make plans if we intend to be late to everything?

Yes, there are plenty of Gen Y tossers out there. But there’s also Dick Cheney, Gordon Ramsay, Tori Spelling and Justin Bieber. Each generation has a lot to answer for. Unless people start sighing “Baby Boomers” every time someone offers completely unsolicited life advice, and grumbles “Gen X-ers” the minute a woman discovers botox, I think it’s time to cool it on the use of “Gen Y” as a form of abuse.

It’s the beauty of a free, civilized society. People are perfectly capable of annoying the shit out you no matter how old they are.

Painefull Out

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Life: The Musical

If film has taught us anything (and let’s be frank, it’s taught us most things) it’s that life simply doesn’t work without a soundtrack. If Glee has added anything on to this educational bandwagon, it’s that if we could all sing (we can’t, let’s be clear, don’t delude yourself, the Idol judges were correct to reject you) then life probably would be, should be and, dare I say, could be a musical. The lot of us are all so utterly dramatic in our own heads, so prone to stage-managing our entrances, so enamored with costume changes, so keyed towards the holy glow of the boom-tish laugh line (that tells the world we are both cool and funny), that if we occasionally broke into song and dance it would just make sense.

I was reminded of our propensity to stage mental musicals just the other day. Livinia reported that as she leapt into her car to race against the clock to get her visa in time for her flight the next day her radio automatically began pumping ‘I Will Survive’, followed by ‘Eye of the Tiger’, followed by the timely ‘She’s A Maniac’ (when listed it really does seem like she accidentally got into a time machine, instead of her car). She is now in Santorini, Greece, and by god if she doesn’t have an experience worthy of Mamma Mia! then she’s just not trying.

Perhaps life would be better if we could pre-program the song book to match our days, but we seem perfectly capable of finding the Musical moments anyway. Most of my memories come with a matching theme.

I am most famed in my family for a song and dance number I choreographed aged 7 to a Bette Midler number. It was not ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, nor ‘The Rose’. No, it was the thematically troubling ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ – the tale of a woman who can’t be at a lunch appointment* because she has shot her unfaithful lover, then been hung on a willow by a lynch mob.

As I faithfully re-enacted the lyrics to my gaping family in the lounge room (Key Performance Moment #1: “From under her velvet gown, she drew a gun and shot [shot!] her lover down…”) I failed to see the problem. It was, after all, the most descriptive tune I could find (Key Performance Moment #2: “They strung her up on the willow across the way, and the moment before she died… she lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam…”). There’s probably nothing quite like watching a 7 year old pretend to hang herself while belting out a show tune. Why I did this remains unclear (though it’s now a commonly requested drunken classic at family gatherings – dead horse, beaten), but I suspect 7 year old me simply knew that life only really works when it’s a musical.

Musical moments pepper both the mundane and the significant occasions. Who knows why I insist on humming the theme tune to Charlie’s Angels whenever I am waiting for something? It’s certainly not a result of watching the TV show… because I’ve never seen it. Why would the cremation centre where we farewelled my grandfather insist on playing a cheesy instrumental version of ‘I Can’t Live (If Living Is Without You)’? If it was to cause my sisters and I to belt it out in a moment of black humour during the car trip home then it succeeded.

I know why I used to provide jazz hands to my own internal version of ‘Le Freak’ (“Ah, freak out!”) while at my old job, occasionally concerning crew members by incorporating them into a dance set to a song they couldn’t hear. I fully understand a family performance of ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas one night last Christmas holidays that led to one of my aunts nearly hurling on the beach the next morning. I don’t think anyone on my street can comprehend why I begin doing sideways slides and jazz leaps when the theme for Austin Powers starts playing on my iPod.

When I found out Dad had bowel cancer last week I began inexplicably humming the opening few bars of Bohemian Rhapsody for 2 days straight.

Music is what we do to express what we can’t. The fact that most of us really can’t sing (or dance) is the only thing that keeps us in check. I know I can’t sing because in a compulsory Drama class choir in Year 10 the self-nominated group leader had to ask me to mime because I was putting everyone else off. Then there were the 5 different musicals I tried out for – the best I did was being a dancer in Romeo & Juliet. Dancers in Romeo & Juliet? you ask… it also involved the entire cast wearing white plastic masks which we slowly removed and raised to the sky while choral music played in the final scene. Sometimes the musicals in our head are better anyway.

Painefull Out

* Side note = if I had shot my lover and been hung by an angry mob for my troubles (and my name was Miss Otis), then not being able to make it to lunch would probably be the least of my regrets.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Life of Crime

Mistakes, I’ve made a few, but then again, too few compared to Lindsay Lohan.

I am a whole year older than Lilo, so I speak from a place of worldly experience. I totally get where she’s coming from. We all make bad choices, we all get caught, and, most of the time, we all wear underwear. If I had a dime for every time some schmuck spilt a drink on me I could probably afford to go to an MTV after party as well. And I once accidentally stole a friend’s passport and left her stranded in Bangkok (true story), replace my friend with a rednut wash-out and Bangkok with Cannes and you have one very good reason to miss a parole appointment.

My life of crime began at the tender age of 7 when I stole a sachet of tomato sauce from a fish & chip shop. Then and there it was evident my prospects for a career in thievery weren’t great – I was discovered sauced-handed by my mother a mere half an hour later. She made me accompany her back to the shop the next day to personally confess and hand over the 20 cents I owed the establishment.

At boarding school I was once honoured by an invitation to join the cool kids as they smoked on the roof of the boarding house. 3 steps out into the brisk evening air (filled with the scent of rebellion and the fragrance of teen angst) I tripped, went skidding down the tiles and found myself clinging for dear life to the guttering. My feet dangled above the broken shards of a bowl which had been thrown out of a window to avoid cleaning it just that morning. My co-conspirators hauled me back up to safety and, it goes without saying, I was never invited back out on to that treacherous rooftop of trendy sin ever again.

A few years later, when wandering out of the school grounds with a fellow boarder a little before midnight we took one step out of the gate and ran smack bang into our House Mistress. Somehow we managed to convince her that I had a headache and we were looking for an aspirin.

So, with no future as a shoplifter, cat burglar or prison break specialist to look forward to, where could I turn? True I once made off with a decade’s worth of UKTV stationery (my parents are still writing shopping lists on it to this day), but I suspect no one missed it. Sure, I have a mug in my kitchen labeled ‘Nilfisk’… but I don’t know what that is, let alone how I got it. I can admit I still have a t-shirt I liberated from a someone’s washing in high school and my copy of the first Coldplay album has the name Peter written across it, but clearly those 2 items have found a better home (and who the hell is Peter? I think I have lived an entire life with a Peter… my sister’s former boyfriend Pete Repeat doesn’t count).

I was forced to give up on the notion of being a smooth criminal. The only path left to me was sarcasm. You see sarcasm isn’t the lowest form of wit, it’s the last outlet of failed criminals (hence all the pithy, smug retorts in Law & Order). Between the sarcasm and the endless glasses of wine, going all Robin Hood on the law’s arse seems like way to much of an effort.

I’m not saying wine is Lindsay’s answer… with the DUI and the rehab, that’d be like trying to cure rabies with a fresh dog bite. The answer for Lindsay is take a hint and stop tempting fate in general. Unless George Clooney is running your crew, Clive Owen’s your inside man and Robert De Niro is riding shotgun you will not stay 2 steps ahead of the law. Especially as you insist on keeping us updated with Twitter.

I would suggest Lilo try something novel, push the boundaries of our expectation and attempt to act in a few movies. I'm sure she'll find inspiration for a Mean Girls sequel at some point over the next few months.

Painefull Out

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Worthwhile Prick

I have a rather overwhelming fear of needles. It’s an anticipation thing, and a pain thing, and ultimately an ick thing. I got so worked up when I last went to get a tetanus shot the doctor had to hand me a toy she normally gave 6 year olds and ask me to press the buttons to distract me. I know I’m not made for life or death situations, for high-powered decisions, or very possibly for the experience of giving birth, because if I was I think I would have gotten over the needle thing by now.

When I was at high school a friend once asked me whether I donated blood and I laughed at the absurd concept. Even writing that feels rather selfish, and I can’t help but judge teenaged me a tiny bit.

My father has recently become intimate with the joy of blood transfusions. He doesn’t sit in a hospital for hours getting a foreign substance pumped into his veins for the fun of it – he does it so he can lead a normal life and continue to be the awesome, quietly intellectual, utterly generous dad that I know and love.

I’m that special brand of stupid that required a physical example to snap me out of my selfish streak. The fact that my dad’s health and quality of life has been assured by the assistance of random, anonymous strangers who owed him absolutely nothing had me staring into space for an hour (sorry new employers, that was on your dime).

I decided to suck it up, get over the ick and sign on to donate blood. I was so chuffed with myself I rang my father straight after booking and told him I was doing it. He said he thought that was a nice idea, especially as he’d recently had to stop after giving his own blood for years.

Everyone at the blood bank was so chilled out about what they were doing. I may have thrown them a little when I sprinted through the front door and nearly knocked someone over as I scrambled to the bathroom. In my nervousness in the lead-up that morning I had taken their advice to stay hydrated a little too seriously, so much so that as the woman slid the needle into my skin she muttered under her breath “Wow, you really are hydrated”. It should also be noted that my blood spatter/CSI/vampire/Twilight gags all fell flat on the day.

And then, after 10 minutes of staring pointedly at anything but my arm, it was done. People that say “It doesn’t hurt” are benevolent liars – it does, but not enough to justify not doing it.

As I exited the staff even whipped me up a chocolate milkshake, and I couldn’t help but wonder if in the blood-milkshake exchange, I had got the better end of the deal. And there’s the fact that I also got my father, so with the dad-milkshake double, it hardly feels like I gave them anything in return at all.

Painefull Out