Some work for the C.L.A.W. program I am designing.
[image link removed coz this post is ancient and the file is gone]

In other news I went to Melbourne to surprise David Blumenstein for his birthday! We arrived on Friday night after driving for only like 8 1/2 hours, and when we got to his Auntie Net’s, his Auntie seemed to be falling asleep which made me anxious because Simon mentioned that she suggested we have takeaway for dinner and I’d been looking forward to it the whole trip so I was hoping she wouldn’t nick off to bed coz I love takeaway. But she eventually mentioned dinner, and I piped up and started running about getting my coat on as Simon took ages to get his shite together and stood about chit-chatting and getting distracted by dumb things like showing her the two spicy sauces he bought from Dog on the Tuckerbox, and examining the bloody light fixture by standing on a really flimsy chair while i held it steady… I really wanted a hamburger and chips but Simon was dilly-dallying and I kept thinking about how I was witnessing behind the scenes of why he’s always late. So eventually I got out the front door and he lagged behind, talking to Auntie Net. We got a massive swag of takeaway – Simon only beating me by 6 steamed dim sims and his Auntie having healthy grilled fish but then ruining it with a scallop (which she had never heard called a ‘scallop’, only ‘potato cake’ which is interesting isn’t it? Answer: No).

Simon had been determined to try his best to get an early night so that tomorrow he could seize the day. But we seemed to be on a mediocre TV marathon, starting with Smallville which was awful, and followed by Supernatural which might have been OK except that I didn’t give a toss, I was too busy eating chips, scallops, a pineapple fritter, a hamburger and a creaming soda. I stuffed my face with most of the chips, but the two spicy sauces, despite being all gourmet and home made were nowhere near as nice as tomato sauce would have been but I didn’t want to be all particular and ask for some, even though eating proper takeaway is like a rare treat, and it is a waste if it isn’t perfect. Plus you look like a poof if you have two fancy sauces but you insist on another kind. We must have looked like arseholes when she offered us coke, but we refused it when it turned out to be Coke Zero. Simon’s Aunt and Uncle are fairly wealthy so they always have cool stuff to eat like special, classy and expensive creaming soda which is basically just creaming soda. I mean how good can it be, its fizzy drink with fake flavouring. I went to bed during Supernatural, believing Simon would fail in his mission to get an early night, as there was more half-arsed TV in store, so I was pre-emptively annoyed.

To my surprise he was up before me in the morning, having a ciggy on the cold porch despite the fact that Scream had come on and he’d watched the whole thing. Our plan for the day was to see Simon’s cousins Luke and Joel, then our old chum Irene, then finally drop in on David’s party. First thing was we got to his cousin Lukes, who lives in an amazing proper city house with his gal, Sarah. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne have these depressing but cool inner-city hovels. I’d rather go to prison than live in one but they’re awesome to look around. Their ceilings are high and it’s like the builders just made them up as they went along, just with all weirdly placed rooms and stairs. So as usual when I am in an unfamiliar house I just ignore the host and look at everything on every shelf. I then noticed he had a ladder out the back, leading to the roof. I totally wanted to get up there and take 3D photos so that is pretty much the first thing me and Simon did when we got there. Luke and his girlfriend Sarah must think that’s all we care about.

Luke has an interesting CD collection in that it’s massive, and I don’t recognise a single band. Not only that but I couldn’t even guess as to what the genres are. I might assume they are all some really underground, mail-order-only electronica but why aren’t there any more mainstream artists? A CD collection can give a person a slight air of mysique, and make you wonder “What are they into?”. It’s especially enhanced if they live in inner-city Melbourne. My own collection is the least mystiquey of all – just loads of Queen and power metal. So you’d think “probably fat nerd” and you’d be right. I can’t wait to see Dragonforce in October.

Anyway, we stepped out onto the street and I wondered if anyone sitting at the cafes nearby envied us for just living in a house right on a cool street like that. Then I wondered if people in Melbourne are fucken crazy for even wanting to live on a fucked narrow ashphalt street with no fucken trees.

We spent ages trying to get the car to start and they even popped the hood to examine it. I just sat in the car hoping I didn’t have to get up and that they’d figure it out. Sarah did, and we drove about two blocks and parked near the exhibition centre – an impressive but fucked looking grey building with stupid coloured shapes and blocks and wedgey bits poking out of it. The kids playground seemed to be designed by the idiot who designed the exhibition centre, only less colourful and interesting. I hate when adults fuck with children’s worlds with theories that they’ve learned. The statue of Reverend at the library was hilarious because his posture is so dignified, but there was bird shit on his forehead and chest, and someone had put two little sticks on his head. The five of us went to have dumplings at some dumpling place in a dingy alley which stunk of vinegar and played golden oldies, only not by the original artists. I joked how the place was like some secret hideout in the movies where there’d be a clinical, hi-tech science lab behind a dumpster or something. Melbourne has a lot of ‘secrets’ in crap alleys. The dumplings were served in large bowls full of liquid, so when you eventually got them out, they’d just plop out of the skin, or when you bit them water would spurt out the sides.

After that, we moseyed to the Yarra river, talking about how there was kangaroo shit in it and I had a wonderful argument with Simon about whether the ferris wheel we could see in the distance was actually moving or whether it was an optical illusion. Simon pointed out that it was actually moving but not when i was looking at it and Joel laughed at the sheer banality of the whole conversation. There was one of those shouty buskers just across the footbridge – one of the ones who ham it up for the audience and do juggling and insist on audience participation. I stupidly paused to watch him and then got sort of hooked through guilt and politeness, rather than any actual interest in whatever trick he was eventually going to perform after he built up to it and told shit jokes for ages. He was a fairly unlikeable man, who kept saying ‘shit’ like it was OK to do in front of kids and he kept whining about how the audience were so unenthusiastic and asleep. The reason for that is because we have video games and the internet and DVDs and some angry ponytailed man with no charisma taking ten years to maybe lay on a bed of nails or juggle flaming batons is boring no matter how you look at it. The crowd grew and sure enough, we were stuck there. Nobody had the heart to just wander off even though all his jokes had an edge of derision and anger to them. In the whole half hour or so he did a shit trick with padlocks and a chain, made a balloon animal, juggled some batons on fire for a bit (all the while, swearing a bit and sarcastically reminding people to gasp and applaud because we weren’t doing that of our own volition) and carefully laid on some nails. For some reason Simon, Joel and I had all individually wandered off at different points in the show, hoping the other four would follow but when we saw they weren’t, we’d return to the crowd. Luke and Sarah seemed to want to watch the whole show. Simon explained to me how the padlock and chain trick worked, and that he knew that trick from bloody year eight.

Eventually we got to the Eureka tower, the observation floor of which was called Skydeck. I am sure I have heard that name before in other towers around the world. It cost $16 just to go up there. I didn’t realise why but this particular tower really gave me vertigo and made my hands sweat. I couldn’t go right to the edge to look out the window. Later I realised why – the windows were one-piece widows which spanned the floor to the ceiling. Usually there is a horizontal strip, or a bannister or bar at waist level. The lack of that makes standing near the edge of the floor a lot more frightening! So I would reccomend the Eureka tower if going up tall towers is your bag. Joel probably didn’t agree, and he left. There was a gift shop up there, and when you got to the bottom they directed you through the gift shop to get out. Simon observed the scam with derision but then he stopped to try and find a magnet.

Later we replaced Luke and Sarah with Irene, and went to her house. She had Glenn Smith art on her fridge because her housemate was in a band and he drew for them. I forget his name, but her housemate had digital recordings of all the farts he’d done every day for ages saved on his phone. He stood there with it stuck out, as he eagerly played us fart after fart, which had the lot of us in hysterics for like ten minutes. Irene was making a Kimba the White Lion costume for a party which she thought was rubbish but actually it was quite good. We ate chips and drunk beer but I felt sick and slightly panicky, but I have recently learned that my panic attacks, and rare bouts of unexplainable fear are actually linked with just needing to do a poo but not realising it. So i did one and was fine. I then created stupid songs on Irene’s phone which was very amusing and fun.

We said goodbye and had a quick look in Polyester books then walked for years to get to a tram stop to tram it to the party. Trams are the best! You hardly ever have to validate your ticket so you can travel around for free until an inspector approaches you. David’s party was at the Pony Bar. Everyone I had mentioned this to had smirked and told me how it was the bar everyone ‘ended up at’ when all other bars were shut, and they were hammered. They described it as ‘sticky’ and they were right, it was like walking on upside down bandaids. I was amused, as David doesn’t drink a lot so I assumed he was naive about bars, and probably had never been there. But David’s reaction when we appeared was exactly what we were hoping for – he was a bit drunk and he was happily surprised. I talked mostly with Jo Waite who is very fun to talk to, as she giggles very easily, usually rocking forward like a mental when she does it, so i just spent most of the night trying to make her laugh. Showing off, basically. Pat Grant arrived too, and we yakked about magazines and the working life of a freelance cartoonist. I observed that he looked like Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings, only if the aspect ratio is wrong and he is a bit stretched vertically. Simon seemed to be chatting up a storm too which was cool coz he loves chatting with new people coz he never fucken goes out in Canberra. I met David’s girlfriend for the first time and she ruled, and Simon was also impressed by the stock and breeding of this fine woman. When I saw them kissing I had to look away though in case it was gross. I’d never seen David kiss before, and I am worried it might be like seeing his arse or something. Just as a side note, Simon often exposes himself to David when the mood takes him, oh and to me as well. Fuck – I just remembered he did it when we got back to Canberra.

Simon and me walked many blocks back to his car in the rain. We went home and had three bits of toast. I farted.

The next day when we left, Auntie Net gave Simon a jar of goats cheese, telling him that it goes great in a salad if you mix it through and drizzle a little of the oil over it. Simon denied her by explaining that no, when he eats the cheese he often leaves most of the oil. She persisted, saying how nice the oil tasted because it was full of herbs and spices, and is lovely if you just drizzle it over the salad. He countered this by saying that he scoops the herbs out with a spoon anyway. He’s the only guy I know who will argue with someone when they make a meal suggestion.

The drive home was a bit boring coz it rained the whole way and the CD player was broken. Simon was pleased at the rainfall because he is concerned about that subject and often comments on the drought and the water levels of various dams. He often says when it’s raining, “We need this”. We ate again at the food court at Gundagai that I hate. I didn’t even want KFC but all they have is Subway and another place, so i went there and asked for one bit of chicken, two buns and potato and gravy. They gave me two bits of chicken, two buns, two potato and gravies and fucken chips and charged me $10.50. Simon’s Subway was a triumph however, being packed with jalapenos and salami. As we left he exclaimed, “Ben? That was the best Subway I’ve ever had.” A small glimmer of light in the ever darkening grey.