Classic Carrs

Friday, July 29, 2005 | 12:29 am

Jimmy Carr, an English comedian who you may have seen on Comeday Central hosting "Distraction", comes across on stage like a Rhodes scholar crossed with a butler. His routine has a very wordplay feel, chock full of quick one liners and rapid-fire puns. On stage, he never breaks into a smile, and is not a warm character, but more a classic straight man without the physical comedy. Here's a few favourites of mine from his half hour of standup on CC:

[Jimmy Carr]

I met a girl at a party whose name was Pitanka. I said "That's an unusual name, you don't hear that very often." And she said 'I do'.

Ladies, if you have a burning sensation when you pee, it is one of three things: One: a urinary tract infection. Two: a bushfire. Or three: someone is talking about your vagina.

My wife asked me "Are you having sex behind my back?" I said "Who did you think it was?"

I live near a remedial school, and there is a sign by the road that says "Slow Children." That can't be good for their self-esteem.

And my absolute favourite: "If we are all Gods children, then what's so special about Jesus?

Hello Mrs. Premise. Hello Mrs. Conclusion!

Thursday, July 28, 2005 | 9:36 pm

This week I had the following conversation with a gentleman I was trying to introduce myself to at my new place of employment.

Me: "You must be Nick."
Gent: "Rick."
Me: "Rick?"
Gent: "Nick."
Me: "Nick?"
Gent: "Rick?"
Me: "Wha....?"

Besides sounding like a conversation from an episode of Monty Python, he was not taking the piss. He thought my name was Rick, an honest mistake since a gent named Rick started in a position similar to mine this week also. Quite the way to introduce yourself to a senior manager.

A Lesson In Piss

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | 3:52 pm

The new job has begun, if a little quietly due to this week being a training week. Impressions are both good and bad, when compared to the last company I worked for, but in all respects, it is a run like a real company. More on that later.

The unexpected bonus I have found this week though is that all my Australian stories are valid again, as are all the hackneyed observations about American dichotomies that my previous workmates would groan their way through.

So in today's discussion of how many different meanings the word piss(ed) has to an Aussie, I came up with the following rapid summary:

I am pissed that after getting pissed I had to piss while it was pissing down.

Each use of the word above means something different. See how many you can determine (no points will be awardede to Antipodeans or Poms).

Stomach Tester

Saturday, July 23, 2005 | 3:06 pm

Need to remember what you had for breakfast? For the stout of heart & stomach, click here to see what happens when I get my toe stomped on by soccer boots, and then catch it on a box.

Commercials Worth Hating

Friday, July 22, 2005 | 3:07 pm

Anyone who has fed more than 3 alcoholic beverages into me is all too aware of my love-hate relationship with television. I firmly believe TV plays a major part in the inexorable mind and body rot affecting our youth, ably assisted by the fact that the average family contains 0.3 stay-at-home parents, even when they are lucky enough to have both a mum and a dad. And still, I watch it, even if I try to be frugal, and swear to myself that my (yet to be born) kids will not feel that the TV is their preferred babysitter. Yet to be proven.

Indeed I hold a secret desire that the next Supreme Court Justice will get stoned off his arse one day before court (medicinal, of course), and pass a law against insanely stupid people who regurgitate TV quotes like it is their own opinion, and then when you try to argue the illogicity of their point, they resort to a collection of insults and put-downs that they also learned from TV (neither of which actually constitutes arguing) in order to protect themselves from the horrible reality of their own ignorance.

But I digress. My true dismay lies in that Americans in the 80s were either too rich, or too asleep at the wheel to notice that free-to-air television got quietly overtaken by service providers who convinced them that you should have to pay four times to watch television. Pay for cable, pay to rent the equipment box, pay to get any halfway decent channels added to the cable, and still many channels have commercials! Oh.... and if you want to watch any movie released this decade, or see a Manchester United game, that'll be on pay-per-view(1). It is only a matter of time before they work out how to sell us pay per pay per view.

This bitterness stems mostly from lack of experience—I never had to pay for television in Australia. Not that cable channels don't exist there. But only 20 million people means their market share is usually too small to throw their weight around too much, attracting mostly sports junkies, and you don't end up with hundreds of niche channels struggling to find 24 hours of programming with a miserable budget. Mind you, this could have all changed since I left the country in 1999.

So with this mouthful of bile already poisoning my opinion of commercial television, I present to you 5 commercials that annoy the crap out of me.

  • Any commercial from Cox Cable. Now, you may think this is because of all the reasons I presented in my obviously-needs-therapy intro? But no. I hate every Cox cable commercial for one identical reason. The decibels. These cretins have managed to ratchet up the volume on each of their own commercials by about 15-25%. Really obnoxious. There has to be some broadcasting standard that says this is illegal.

  • Any commercial by a company that has actors telling you how much money they have made by working from home. These 'businesses' universally have web site address with a two digit number followed by a word like "fortune", "cash", or "freedom". In particular is this one guy who appears in about 3 of these low budget commercials, including one for hearing aids. It is so good though to see that a man with a hearing impediment can make $25,000 this month alone.

  • The Fox Soccer Channel station promo featuring Paris Hilton. My god, as if us world-sport lovers didn't have to jump through enough hoops in order to watch a sport that is not NFL, NBA, Nascar, and does not have the letter X in it's name. Now we have to watch some vapid bimbette who's only claim to fame is she was born rich, tell us the name of the channel we are watching? She doesn't even have the good grace to just be quietly rich, nor the brains to realize that we know she earned none of it. Instead, that bastion of IQ lowering TV, E!-Television made her into some kind of minor-celebrity (well, that and her penchant for recording uninspiring sex acts) and now teenage girls want to be like her. Being a karmically inclined individual, I wish harm on very few people, but there would be no tears shed over this keypad if she met her demise on the end of an exploding cell-phone. Perhaps obscenely rich people should not be permitted to breed. God, I'm gonna get hits from search engines just for putitng her name in here, aren't I...

  • Commercials from pharmecuetical companies telling me that this list of non-specific symptoms probably means I should get wonder-drug X. That's what doctors are trained tell me, not marketing knobs! Take the money out of ad-sales and devote it to fixing health insurance instead, so average people could actually afford whatever life-saving drug you're peddling, instead of tax dollars being used to re-imburse recreational erection drugs.
  • Technical colleges telling you how you should take their course to become a game designer, cause how cool would that be! These ads usually show some very cool 3D animation that is very obviously not on the computer in front of the people pretending to be watching it. Programming ain't a stupid man's game, so it bugs the hell outta me to see these ads targeted at dumb kids. This is a side-effect of the channels I like to watch, and I still like to watch a lot of G4. Once the far superior TechTV, this station is now well on its way to being the E! channel for computer gamers (regurgitated shows featuring nothing but top 10 lists, and fawning interviews with game manufacturers that always end with the phrase "Be sure to check out...."). But there is still just enough good shows (the superbly personality-driven X-Play, and occasional good episodes of Icon and AOTS) to justify regular visits. But of course this means I must regularly endure this interminable piece of monkey poop:

    Two dorks sitting in front of a TV playing games. "Look out" says one, "here comes the boss". A woman walks in and asks them if they are done playing yet, because she has more games that need XXX (what XXX is varies, usually a poorly dubbed word like "tested" or "designed" depending on which minor variant of their course they are pushing this week.) One of the dorks responds with "We are almost finished level 3, and you need to tighten up the graphics on that level a bit." She responds with a heartfelt thank you and wanders out, obviously appeased.
    Huh? What bloody company would accept that as sufficient feedback from a paid employee?
    It gets worse when dork 1 turns to dork 2 and makes some comment about how he can't believe they are getting paid for this (don't worry, neither can I), and dork 2 spits out (while trying to maintain his concentration on the gaming) "yeah, and my mum said I would never get anywhere with these games!" Geez, your mum probably just wanted you outta her home before you turned 35.

    There is a place in hell reserved for everyone associated with that piece of malarkey. And in that hell, you are forced to play the same bug-ridden, badly designed unfinished computer game for eternity.

  • (Yeah yeah, I know it's number 6, it just came to me) Any ad for Comedy Central's "Secret Stash", especially when they use the word "uncut." As twenty minutes with Van Wilder demonstrated on a particularly slow Saturday night last weekend, adding a few swear words and still pixelating out all the boobies does not satisfy my definition of "uncut". It's 1:30AM on a Saturday night for christ's sake! Who are you afraid is going to be corrupted at this time of day by a pair of nippples?

Don't get me wrong, there is some excellent television around. It's just that it's so hard to find it between the need-fast-returns, ratings-are-god, bandwagon reality shows and by-the-book sitcoms. Before I have a frothing at the mouth conniption fit, I better take an old-man pill, a small lie down, and be thankful that we get Battlestar Galactica tonight.

(1) To me this is like buying a washing machine - a spanky new one with all the mod-cons. You get it hooked up, and you have to pay for the water. Fair enough. But you also have to rent the taps that connect it to the water. Bugger. By the way, if you want to use any wash cycle other than whites, you need to pay an extra monthly fee. Will it wash your precious new wool garments? Of course, at $6 per item.

11:30am Stream Of Consciousness

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 | 11:20 am

In my last week of relaxation before I start work again, the following thoughts temporarily activated dormant synapses this morning as I wandered down to the local Provisions store for milk, trying to soak up the final days...

  • It's bloody hot. Not so bad today, but the east coast has been saturated with 90-110F (32-43C) temps for weeks. Punctuated by an excellent lightning show most nights, and a small downpour that cools nothing, and adds 20 percent to the existing 93% humidity, resulting in total humidity levels only Squarepants could understand.
  • With the first point in mind, I love the sound of cicadas now permating the neighbourhood.
  • With the first point in mind, I hate the fact that my building has two broken elevators out of two. The move from floor 3 to floor 6 brought many benefits, like a great view and the chance to live with a great woman. But tomorrow, when I bring her and her airport luggage home, it's gonna suck.
  • I will miss the crew from The Old Company, even though I will be working with three of them, and be near enough to a few others, it won't be the same again. I'll definitely miss the Man of Cheese. Here's one of the last photos.
  • Damned if I could remember what Yerka Mig looked like, but Japanese SWCCG cards are still cool.
  • Streaming internet radio through iTunes straight to your lounge room stereo is awesome. Currently, I am munching on the "Groove Salald" ambient channel. Mmmmm.  [ Mannequin ]
  • I forgot to tell my wife about The Mannequin. Curses. Those at Moes who said I should leave myself a message were right.
  • Soccer is a fickle mistress. Five days after the goal of my life, I crunched my penalty against the keeper's feet, (in fact, our team failed to convert a single one after a 4-4 draw) and we got dumped out of the OTSL tournament. Frankly, it was too bloody hot anyhow.
  • The Ashes cricket series starts tomorrow. Here's hoping Australia win at Lords within 4 days, as I won't have regular internet access from within my training course next Monday. Even Fox Soccer Channel gave me 5 minutes of Ashes coverage last night, but if they keep pronouncing "McGrath" as if the "th" isn't silent, I'll go spare.

  • The Line For Beaurocracy Starts Here

    It seems that my decision to work and marry here is good for about 9 years worth of government paperwork.

    I am currently in immigration hell, having to manage a work VISA transfer process (old company to new), as well as a marriage based green card at the same time. Outside of the thousands of dollars this costs in government fees, and my financial sponsorship to ensure that an underprivileged team of immigration lawyers will ski Aspen this winter, this also introduces me to all new forms of beaurocratic excess..

    Here's the latest episode. Once the green card was filed, I received back a bunch of paperwork requesting that I must call to make an appointment for "biometrics and fingerprinting". Exactly what biometrics is I am yet to discover, but I hope it isn't anything like dianetics, or I may end up as crazy as Tom Cruise.

    So I make the 1-800 call. I get 20 minutes of an 8-second hold music loop, and a sore ear from cradling a cell phone (even with speaker on, random fades have me constantly panicking, thinking that I am missing my answer-window). Finally I get the operator. I provide six or seven pieces of detail to identify myself and my case, finalized with my zip-code. Then he politely informs me: "I'm sorry, we have no appointments left."

    "Oh" I reply, somewhat perplexed. "So the appointment would have been for today?" I ask, thinking that I rang too late to be fit in.

    "No" the patient operator-person tells me, "it would be in 5 or 6 weeks."

    Now I am quite confused. If they are booking 5-6 weeks ahead, how is it that they ran out of appointments? Did they reach the end of the millenia and have to reset? After much explanation, it seems that they only book a certain number of appointments each day (for each zip?). So I am advised to ring back at 8am the next day to try again.

    This systems confounds me. When they are the ones sending out letters requesting you make an appointment, why do they feel the need to try and limit the number of appointments they can make each day? How does this unnatural throttle help? All I can postulate is they get so many cancellations that they thought it better to not make too many commitments each day, keeping things only a few months out.

    Anyhow, I rang back today at 8am. Actually, since there is about 4 minutes of announcements and menus, I got clever rang back at 7:59AM with the intention of coming out of the queue about the time the operators start handling calls but have had a few sips of their morning coffee. Too clever for my own good it seems. I get through only to hear that I should call back between 8am and 6pm to speak to an operator. It is 8:04AM. Seems my call is routed based on the time it is first answered by the call center. Bugger.

    I call again immediately. 30 minutes of hold music later, 6 or 7 questions from the operator, and a palpable sense of relief that the ordeal is nearly over, is all cast aside when the operator says "It seems I cannot make an appointment for you". It is 8:32AM - this must be harder than getting Live 8 tickets! "My appointment system seems to have crashed." Lovely.

    In the end, the appointment system managed to come back again long enough to get a date for September. Whoopee.

    Luckily, she-whom-I-wisely-married is worth every minute. I just wish I could spend those minutes with her, and not Random Government Functionary Level 0.

    Meanwhile, Back In The Real World

    Friday, July 15, 2005 | 12:59 pm

    I carelessly interrupted my decreed dormancy by sending my resume to a company that a few mates had migrated to, and who are in a growth spurt. Well, this week they offered me the position. A position that pays about 25% more than the last company (who, let's face it, were not exactly paying anyone's worth, let alone keeping up with inflation), are web-technology focussed, and deal with 'lifestyle' industries like RV and boating.

    Great news! So why does it feel like "just a job" this time?

    Perhaps because my last move was a getaway from corporate-cubicle life for "fun and travel".

    Don't get me wrong, The Big D was a stupid place to work for a lot of the early years (cheers marketing) and the later years (cheers snr management). But you could deal with this because it was a fun industry, there were some choice mates, the SWCCG players and volunteers were a blast (most of the time!), and by the end, there where enough smart people working at the company to bitch to without being ostracized for being 'negative'. By then, the silliness of many things they were doing was "out of the closet".

    Two other intangibles about my ex-employer will be sorely missed. Things we got so used to, that not having them will be like missing a leg. The lunch-time soccer (new employer has lots of space to play, but no showers nearby...), and the bliss of walking to and from work. Courtesy of the Google satellite, here's how small it all was for a while there.

    Sigh. Growing up is hard to do.

    Ball Games

    Thursday, July 14, 2005 | 4:17 pm

    It's all bloody sport today, and antipodean sports at that. My apologies to the dis-inclined, with some notes for the interested Americans!

    In relation to last week's post, the NSW Blues won the third and deciding game of the Rugby League(1) State of Origin. Amazingly, the game was psychologically decided in the first 5 minutes. Queensland came out of the gate like rampaging bulls, and for nearly 30 tackles (imagine 30 downs within 10 yards of the end-zone), NSW repelled absolutely every thing they attempted, and then broke away to score first. The mental defeat was solidified at that moment, and while Qld heads drooped, NSW seemed strengthened by their successful defense, and by halftime had leapt out to an unchaseable lead. How closely fought are these competitions? After 25 years, the head-to-head now favours NSW with 37 wins to 36.

    Australia came back to win the 3-match one-day cricket series against the old foe, England. This is not the important part though, as it was kind of a nothing series. The important part is that the Aussies (pronounced "Ozzies"!) had some important players find some key form against an English side that is showing much more resilience and bite than they have for a decade. Just in time for the upcoming 5-test(2) Ashes Series. This looks like it's gonna be a competitive series.
    Tuesday night I managed to score perhaps the best goal of my soccer 'career'. High pass to me standing about 22 yards out, almost centre. Took the ball on my chest, and as it came down, hit it right-footed before it touched the ground. Felt great, and it was like slow-mo as I stood, transfixed, watching it sail high, bend in an exaggerated arc, and curl into the top right corner. I should have probably tendered my retirement from the game right then.

    (1) Rugby League (as opposed to Rugby Union, the game played in many US colleges) is rugby with "downs" (called tackles). Your team has 6 tackles (downs) to score (paradoxically called "a try"), after which the ball is turned over to your opponents. Unlike American Football, passes must go backwards (laterals), and kicking and multiple-passes are larger features of the tactical game during open play. Also, there are no time-outs between plays, and no offensive or defensive teams. The speed of play is determined by how quickly the offensive team can "play the ball", with the defensive side required to back off by 10-yards or risk a penalty.

    (2) A Test Match is the traditional form of cricket. The version where one match can take 5 days. And can still end in a draw. And yes, that does happen quite a bit.

    1am Stream of Consciousness

    Thursday, July 07, 2005 | 1:59 am

    Spending an hour cruising the blogs of mates brought forward the following random musings, that may or may not be related to anything I read, but are sitting close enough to the top of my mind that they must be expelled by a brain-movement...
    • My excuse to go to Paris in 2012 is now an excuse to go to London. Since my wife and I already have a few excuses for London, I kind of had my heart set on Paris but congrats to the Poms on a great victory! But before I get too carried away, boy did you get mauled by the All-Blacks (men who have a scary dance, but not as scary as this advice).
    • My "Hersheys" branded magic-shell (that chocolate syrup that goes hard on ice-cream) is 10 seconds less efficient than Cheddars. I presume that the key chemical(s) added are to keep it liquid at RTP, rather than something to make it go solid when cold?
    • There's not enough boobs on late night American television.
    • Job interviews are still stressfull, but much less so than the last 'cold' one I did, about 13 years ago. But I think today showed that I'm pretty good at them. Now I'm wrestling with the thought that perhaps the interview me is more impressive than the real me? Time will tell on both counts.
    • Interviewing for a real company reminded my how miserable it must be for those precious few still stuck at my previous company (which is currently on life-support but with questionable health insurance). My heart goes out to (and only to) my friends there.
    • No matter how hard I search, there is apparently no website justifying that my Tostitos, cheese, muffins, grapes, chocolate biscuits and ice-cream constituted a healthy nights eating.
    • Having to think about something as basic as health insurance as part of your employment package just doesn't seem right in a first-world country.
    • Americans: To stop the heated discussions, please read this. Yes, I know an Englishman is kind of complicit here, but still, would following a world standard or two really kill you?
    • My eternally-travelling wife didn't "call-in" from her current port-of-call for about 36 hours, and I got panicky enough to check with the hotel that she had checked in ok. I must still be hopelessly in love.
    • Avoiding sporting-scores while waiting for the TV replay is a pain in the arse. This (coming) morning, 2am, is the deciding game 3 of the most ferociously competed Rugby League Series in the world—The State Of Origin. A yearly three-game Rugby League series between New South Wales (Blues) and Queensland (Maroons). Can't give you any links for fear of catching the score (played yesterday, Australian time).
    • I hate banks. But they deserve a full rant later.
    Time for the Rugby. No calls please!

    This is your Astrologer. Please step away from the Comet.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | 10:36 am

    Are those inconsiderate boffins at NASA aware of the damage they are doing to poor souls like this woman?

    In other news, Russian woman needs good kick in the head, scientists lining up to oblige.

    That was the long weekend, that was.

    American Independence Day has come and gone, and it was a most enjoyable long weekend—even for those of us for which all weekends are long!

    For one thing, my gorgeous wife and I had 4 whole days together where socializing and couch-time expertly mingled for more time together than we've had since Pensacola. Friday night began the weekend gently, respecting the schedule ahead of us with a few drinks at Wonder Bar, including getting to catch up with the long-lost Eric & Lisa.

    Saturday we picked up Aussie-mate Kieran and headed to Lynnhaven to catch War Of The Worlds with Mike and Renee. Definitely a movie worth seeing on the big screen, with some of the most intense suspense/action I have seen onscreen in a while. Indeed, two of our viewing party apparently had nightmares that night. The ending is somewhat rapid, and unfortunately tinged with too many spoonfulls of "trite." We finished the night with the three of us back at our place for some great conversation over wine and vodka ice-teas. And no topic was taboo—exceeding even my normal standards of no-subtlety. [Tom dips]
    Tom fishes for the surprise

    Anna's front seat view.

    Sunday morn we relaxed, in preparation for the afternoon at Mike and Renee's traditional 4th of July bash. Every year Mike promises it will be a smaller party than last time, and every year it gets bigger. This year they went for the catering option to avoid the cooking lark, so food was at its regular high-standard (especially the desserts in which I massively over-indulged), but Renee had much more time to get drunk. Personally, I made it into an international drinking event, celebrating with sangria and Corona, and chatting to the very varied selection of mixed-American heritages represented: Indians (the New Delhi type), a German recently ex-Sydney, and everyone's favourite asian in red who was in rare form!. Had a blast.

    Monday, we joined a selection of the ever-expanding ex-Decipher-crew at Sandbridge Beach for a few hours of rays and one wave (how the Atlantic shelf spoils the fun for body-surfers!), before whipping back to Tom and Kathy's for hamburgers, and Joe's very-own Radiocative Velveeta Surprise (now with an extra spoon!). The highlight event of the day (besides Anna in a swim suit of course) was mu-mu Kathy taking the cats for a walk. Mews just wanted to explore, in whatever direction Kathy wasn't going, while Tosca spent his her time telling everyone at the BBQ how much he she didn't like them. Priceless.

    Once home Monday night, in relaxation mode and slouching on the couch after our sun-soaked exertions, we received a most unexpected bonus—the best view of fireworks I've probably ever had. The launching barge was located in the bay directly outside the window we look through from the couch. Awesome.

    Seems that for once, the fireworks on our couch were literal rather than figurative. ;)

    Baby Talk

    Friday, July 01, 2005 | 6:18 pm

    It seems, that to be a television show that I watch regularly, you either have to be John Stewart, just about any soccer game (women's European Cup, World Youth Championship, Confederation Cup, or any Premiere League game not featuring Fulham), or be on between 10pm and 2am on weeknights.

    Currently, and I realize I may be late to the fold here, I find the absolute best belly laughs are coming from The Family Guy on [adult swim]. Classic. And the best lines seem to almost universally belong to the matricidal world-domination bent Stewie.

    Last night I caught the episode where Meg gets a makeover at the mall. Brian (the dog) is paying Stewie for performing a dare (running nude through the mall exclaiming "Help. I just escaped from Kevin Spacey's basement!"). Stewie is standing there butt naked counting his money... [ naked Stewie]

    Brian(looking down): "Cold in here huh?"
    Stewie: "Nope. Just very very small."

    Laugh? Almost pissed myself.

    Here's a couple more of my Stewie Griffin favourites, taken from here :

      Stewie: Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but you're a total bitch.

      After Peter crashes unceremoniously through the window of a foster-parents house that Stewie does not want to be at:
      Stewie: "Thank god, it's the lesser of two evils."

      Lois: "What's going on down here?"
      Stewie: "Oh, we're playing house."
      Lois: "That boy's all tied up."
      Stewie: "Roman Polanski's house."

      The recently blinded Peter teeters past, and Stewie kicks a piece of furniture in front of him causing a nasty fall
      Stewie: "Ha ha ha, oh my God! I almost didn't do it, I almost didn't do it! I thought, is this in bad taste? But you know what, I went for it. I went for it and I'm so glad I did! Ooooh, worth it, totally worth it."

      Stewie (reading the Bible): "My my, what a thumping good read, lions eating Christians, people nailing each other to two by fours. I'll say, you won't find that in Winnie the Pooh.

      Stewie: "By all means, turn me into a child star. Perhaps I can move to Californ-i-ay and wrangle me a three-way with the Olsen twins."

      Stewie: "Can I count to three? For God's sake, I'm already shooting at a fifth grade level."

    Bloody brilliant.