Sunday, 30 August 2009

My Life Is Average Too

extra chips is always ok

The pinnacle of Invercargilly fantasticness is surely the Albatross fish & chip shop.

Since my tactical withdrawal from the communal areas of Chateau Weasel, I have taken to creating meals in the safety of my room.

This means I am limited to banquets that can be rustled up using a toaster or kettle, or eaten straight from the packet.

It can also sometimes mean takeaways. This, obviously, is not the healthy option and I do not condone or encourage visiting fish & chip shops five out of seven nights each week simply because you can't face the thought of tuna and couscous.

But I just happened to visit the Albatross yesterday, arriving a whisker from closing time. I greeted the nice Chinese lady behind the counter (I have started to think of her as 'Mum') and placed my order: "The usual, thanks."

She smiled sweetly and went to fetch my sausage, chips and corn on the cob, returning a few minutes later with a large white bundle and a worried expression.

"I am very sorry," she said, "But because we are closing, we cleared out the crinkly chips and put them in with your order. Will that be ok?"

"Crinkly chips?" I repeated, confused by this unexpected turn of events.

"Just to finish them," she said. "You still have your normal chips, it just means extra chips. Crinkly chips. I hope you don't mind. Will it be ok?"

Will extra chips be ok?

I think so.

This delightful tale puts me in mind of an awe-inspiring website that (along with this equally awe-inspiring website) the delectable Ms D alerted me to, bless her procrastinating heart. Ms D, it should be known, owns a book called Stuff on my Cat, which I want a copy of very, very badly.

School has been insane these last few weeks which is why I haven't been posting much. If you're missing me, I try and do one post a day over here, my new conceptual blog which is exactly like this blog but with fewer words and bigger pictures.

I'm hungry.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

From The Newsroom

no comment

This week, one trainee journalist thought Lockerbie was in Liberia.

One trainee journalist didn't know who George Orwell was.

One trainee journalist was surprised and delighted to learn that blue and yellow, when blended, makes green.

Do not fear, people of the world - the future of the media is in safe hands.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Trumped

check out that acting

One of my Fabulous Classmates says to me "Who are you stalking for the research assessment?"

I say "Mr Blah Blah. He does a lot of good works for the community. He graduated from University of Otago and worked as a chartered accountant. I found all these family photos of him on his daughter's Facebook page!"

Fabulous Classmate says "I'm doing Mr So And So, one of the local councillors. I managed to find out he's a Star Trek fan and there's a picture of him on Google in a Star Trek costume and his last purchase on Trade Me was a model of the Starship Enterprise."

I will begin my project again with someone less dull.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Busy

i spy with my little eye

Keeping myself busy takes my mind off the fact I am 11,929 miles away from Flatmate.

Keeping myself busy prevents me from dwelling on the small problem of Invercargill.

The busy took the form of this today:

'National Diploma in Journalism Unit Standard 23106 - RESEARCH DOSSIER. Assessment: Develop and collate a dossier of researched information on a newsworthy person.'

I chose a guy I've already interviewed a couple of times. I chose him for no other reason than he's a nice guy and he's got his finger in a lot of local business and community pies.

I now know where he lives, who he's married to, the names of his kids, where they go to school.

I know where he used to work and what he does in his spare time. I know what religion he is, and where he went to university.

Thanks to the combined miracles of teenage daughters and Facebook, I have seen the inside of his house, the faces of his immediate and extended family, what beer he drinks and where he went on holiday.

Frankly, I feel really creeped out.


Friday, 21 August 2009

Too Two Tutu

thanks for reading, you totally rock

It's this blog's second birthday!

Read the very first post here, if you dare.

It's not very exciting, but a week later Flatmate (the Bridgwater Kid's younger brother) and I got rip-roaringly drunk and had sexytime and began the utterly bizarre but tender relationship that endures to this day, even though I am in Invercargill and he is in Cardiff.

BK is doing fine up in Auckland, by the way, and he would love for me to come up to see him at Christmas.

We shall see.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Suck My Kiss

a simple 'thank you' would suffice

Monday.

News writing.

Three o'clock deadline.

Mercy me, this is HARD. The hardest thing I've ever done. Even when it's just re-jigging a straightforward press release, there are still people to phone, questions to ask (hopefully intelligent ones), the tutor to convince that yes this is actually news.

And then there's the story to write. Does it have a kick-arse intro? Is the structure of the story logical and appropriate? Are all questions raised answered? Is every scrap of information attributed to a source? Is it accurate, impartial, fair, balanced? Is it topical, relevant, timely? Is the language succinct? Has it delved into the wider implications of the issue under discussion?

Has the house style been followed? No '%', please, and not even a 'percent' - it's got to be 'per cent' or else. Are the tenses correct? Any stray punctuation? Bad spelling, of course, is the cardinal sin. Is it between 250 and 350 words long and does it flow, does it flow perfectly?

I hand in a story. It is the first story I've written since my work experience experience. I have gone for the easiest subject matter I could find - a local photographic competition has extended its closing date from August to October. Hold the front page! I hate myself for being a wimp but it was all I could manage. I talked to the competition promoter and one of the judges. I had to force myself to pick up the phone both times. My dislike of newsgathering has transmuted to dread.

Tutor Smartypants hands the story back within five minutes. It is completely free of his Red Pen of Doom.

"Congratulations!" he says. "That was the first story I've had this year that didn't need any editing. Well done."

I'm stunned. I breathe again, and wonder why I am making this so hard for myself.

Tuesday.

News writing.

Noon deadline, tomorrow. A new takeaway joint is opening in town, the paper wants an interview with the owner, and some photos. Somehow it is not as terrifying talking to people face to face as it is over the phone, although I still feel just as much of a dick.

The guy is like me, taciturn, awkward, hating being under the spotlight. Neither of us can do breezy chit chat. I take very poor notes to my very poor questions. I go back to school. I sit down to write the story. I do not have much to go on. The story squeezes out, word by painful word. It is hard to make all these disparate bits of information go together. It must be seamless. It must flow.

At 8pm I give up and go home. I've done the best I can but even so the story's not great and I am exhausted. First thing Wednesday, I show Tutor Smartypants the first draft. I am very worried about it because unlike the other story it's for publication. Am I on the right track? I have no idea.

"Great stuff," he says.

I hand in the final draft.

He hands it back within five minutes. He has not changed a word of it, not one single word. Furthermore he has written on the marking sheet "Excellent. See, you can do this. It's light, bright, with good subangles explored throughout. Avoided advertorial, which is hard to do. Thanks."

He's thanking me?

I'm speechless. I blow him a kiss to express my gratitude.

He goes all blokey and gruff and embarrassed and disappears hastily into his office.

This is very amusing, and it almost makes up for all the anguish and self-doubt I go through to write these throwaway 300 word pieces of fluff.

Almost.


Monday, 17 August 2009

A Post In Which Weasel Is Deranged By Lack Of Sleep

terry has lived in the bottom of my bag since the early 1990s

I make no apology for the fact I am at the forefront of trends, leading bands of bleary-eyed acolytes surefootedly through the minefield that is cutting edge nouveau.

Therefore I proudly present to you the pair of ideas that came to me last night about 3am when I couldn't get to sleep.

Firstly, this. Irritated that my MP3 player is missing loads of songs I like because I can't afford to buy them in any format or even borrow CDs from the library to illegally record from, and I am too scared to steal tunes off the interweb in case Metallica come round my house and beat me up, I had the inspired idea of recording things off YouTube just like I used to record Radio One's Top 40 countdown on Sunday nights when I was 15.

In those days, it was a shonky old tape deck. In these modernist, cutting edge times it is an Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder.

I bought this piece of cutting edge equipment at the start of the journalism diploma and I am sure it will be incredibly useful should I ever have to interview someone in real life. But seeing as I have spent the best part of my academic year carefully avoiding this eventuality, it has been languishing at the bottom of my bag among the chewing gum wrappers, plastic tapirs and tissue scraps.

Today however was its day in the sun. I pressed its cutting edge microphone against the laptop's tinny speaker et voilĂ , quality recordings of all those mighty anthems we know and love (such as Beat My Guest by Adam and the Ants) are now on my MP3 along with a background orchestra of rustling pyjamas, a ticking clock, an overheating laptop, and a housemate belching and flushing the toilet.

The second idea was to start a new blog.

Yesterday I was delighted to see a tui in the tree outside my window. If BK had been handy for a game of 'Highlight Lowlight' it would've definitely been the highlight*. This made me start thinking I would like to do a daily blog which addressed only the essence of the day and not all the waffle.

I would call the blog 'One Thing' and each post would finish the sentence 'Today was all about...', so, for example, yesterday's post would have been a picture of a tui, with the title 'Tuis', even though everybody knows there is no 's' in the Maori language, and maybe I would've mentioned I saw one preening in the tree outside my window just to make things perfectly clear to those readers who weren't as cutting edge as me.

Simple, I thought, yet effective. Radical and minimalist in this age of information overload. Cutting edge, certainly. And very nouveau. Kind of like summing up in no more than 140 characters what you are doing.

What?

Oh.








*When we were a couple BK and I used to play a game called 'Highlight Lowlight'. At the end of the day we'd get into bed and BK would sing a little jingle that was a mixture of Pearl & Dean and Countdown and then we'd take it in turns to say briefly what the worst thing, then the best thing, had been about the day, thus ensuring every day ended on a positive note. Ah, good times.

PS: And if you're wondering why I don't just download tunes onto my phone, it's because my phone looks like this:




And I can't download songs straight onto my MP3 player because my MP3 player is so even more cutting edge I can't find a picture of it on google.

I think I'll go to sleep now before I have any more good ideas.



Thursday, 13 August 2009

I Hate Clothes

she never had this trouble

A couple of weeks ago, while desperately seeking new ways in which to procrastinate, I decided to count all my clothes.

This was inspired by watching an episode of Gok's Fashion Fix in which a woman from Sussex was found to have fifty three white T-shirts.

I should mention I have absolutely no interest in clothes or fashion. My criteria for clothing is simple: it must keep me warm (I hate being cold), never need ironing (life's too short to iron), be comfortable (I hate discomfort), be from the charity shop (I am very poor), look vaguely all right (ie not look like what a total ponce or a fat slag or an old lady might wear), not have lairy patterns (ugh) and not display visible advertising (down with capitalist imperialists!).

I also dream of a future where I can roam the earth with all my worldly goods stuffed into a small bag slung over my shoulder; a bit like Dick Whittington but sexier, and with a nicer cat.

So with these anti-wardrobe sentiments in mind, here are the Weaselstats:

CLOTHING
Coats: 2
Jackets/fleeces: 4
Work Jackets: 2
Dresses: 6
Skirts:
- smart: 4
- scruffy: 3
Jeans: 3
Trousers: 5
¾ trousers/long shorts: 2
Shorts: 2
T-shirts: 21
Long-sleeved tops: 6
Jumpers: 9
Sweatshirts: 2
Jogging pants: 2
'Girly' tops: 5
Vest tops: 14
Boob tubes: 1
Cardigans/wrappy things: 7
Polyprop bodywarmers: 1

FOOTWEAR
Boots: 5
Shoes: 4
Trainers: 1
'Girly' shoes: 3
Flip flops: 1

SUNDRY
Dressing gown: 1
Socks: 7
Knickers:
- daily: 20
- 'special': 6
Bras:
- daily: 5
- 'special': 2
Tights: 5
Stockings: 1
Pyjamas: ½
Hats: 6
Scarves: 5½
Gloves:
- full: 2
- fingerless: 2
Bags: 6

SWIMWEAR
Swimsuits: 1
Bikinis: 1½
Boardshorts: 1

From the above, the following were in the 'discard' pile:
Coats: 1
Dresses: 3
Jumpers: 1
'Girly' tops: 2
T-shirts: 1
Jackets: 1
Hats: 1
Trousers: 1

And these were (and will be for all eternity) in the 'to mend' pile:
Trousers: 1
Bags: 2

Furthermore:
- I live and die in jeans.
- ten of the T-shirts I never wear. I mean never ever ever.
- ditto six pairs of footwear.
- girly clothes and I don't get on at all.
- if it's summer, it's flip flops.
- if it's winter, it's just that one pair of flat, fleece-lined boots.
- I hate handbags and always stuff everything into either pockets or a nice sensible backpack.
- if I was within striking distance of Flatmate there would be a hell of a lot more stockings.

Since conducting the scientific analysis of my wardrobe I am ashamed to admit to the acquisition of two more zippy cardigans/sweat-tops, one T-shirt, and another pair of girly shoes I won't wear (but they were a nice colour).

I am too scared to add all those things up to get a grand total.

But I am pretty sure it all amounts to Too Much Stuff.

Please don't tell Gok.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sinner

"approach love and cooking with reckless abandon"

It transpires I have been upsetting Christians with my IMPURE THOUGHTS.

Not only does Satan tempt me (and others) with FOUL AND UNNATURAL DESIRES whenever Tutor Smartypants wears those really great trousers, but he also LEADS ME INTO TEMPTATION whenever I see a certain music student at school.

This music student has been blessed with a very beautiful face. He looks like a cross between Paul McGann and Flatmate and it is a joy to feast my eyes on his exquisite bone structure and wild blond curls. Some days when I stare at him open-mouthed I might actually release a little drool, but no matter. He is about twenty years my junior and has an equally stunning girlfriend.

“But I’m only looking,” I explain.

“No!” says the Christian, my most favourite of Fabulous Classmates. “It’s… it’s…”

Her face screws up in disgust.

“I can understand why you’d look at something like a bull or a sheep or a tree or a sunset and go ‘hey, that’s a really beautiful bull or sheep or tree or sunset’,” she says. “You know, appreciate it for its perfect form. But to look at another human being like that and go…”

As she is struggling to find words to express her disgust, I offer a helpful “Phwhoar?”

“Yes!” she cries. “It’s that – it’s that ‘phwhoar’…”

She shudders with revulsion.

“It’s like… LUST,” she says.

“It IS lust,” I say.

There is a pause as we consider this.

"So you shouldn't even look at other people, even if they're really really beautiful?" I ask.

"Not LIKE THAT," she says. "It is very disrespectful."

I am doomed to burn in hell.


Me Like





Saturday, 8 August 2009

IQ

my class is 'special'

Friday afternoon, and the sub-editor man from the local rag is giving us our weekly lesson on newspaper design and layout.

I glance around the classroom.

Two people are doing crosswords.

One is tapping away on a laptop.

One is drilling a hole through the lid of his coke bottle with pens. The pens keep springing out of his fingers, and the floor around his feet is littered with them. He is unusually active today; usually in class he either doodles, or sleeps.

(NB: this classmate is the one I am most likely to punch in the face before the year is out).

Two are conducting a conversation independently of the lesson, whispering about horses, or shoes, or something. It is a small classroom with only ten people in it and I wonder if they think they are invisible or the rest of us are deaf or don't mind that that they do this. They do it a lot. They do it all the time. It is annoying and the tutors must be appalled by their rudeness. I would be. I am.

Only three of us look like we're actively paying attention to the little man (who keeps a line of biros in various colours tucked neatly into the breast pocket of his shirt) as he drones on about headlines and font sizes and white space.

The lesson is dull, and we know he intends to keep us here til 4pm. On a Friday! He is explaining the minutiae of his craft with a keenness bordering on zealotry, and it is hard not to fidget. But seeing as he's giving up his Friday afternoons to share with us his passion for page layout, surely the polite thing to do is to sit still and at least look like you're listening. Feigning interest is a necessary journalistic skill after all.

I do a quick sum in my head: just three out of nine of us are making an effort to behave like adults, therefore our class has an idiocy quotient of 67%.

The little man shows us a page from a rival newspaper which is crammed full of stuff written by the mayor and the local MP. He sneers at the crowded page, and says he would've pruned the words to make room for prettier headlines.

The idiocy quotient leaps to 70%.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Flushed

kev f has already found one here

I reckon songs get into your head for a reason.

Unless the song is Poker Face by Lady Gaga, which gets there by sorcery or witchcraft or other foul and unnatural means.

The song I've had in my brain for over a week is Coldplay's Trouble.

But only the bit that goes 'here am I in my little bubble'. Hmmm.

On Sunday night, after my weekend of shame - I read for approximately twenty seven hours, and slept for thirteen - I felt completely detached from reality, not even slightly worried by the fact our tutors expect us to write fourteen news stories of our own making this term, on top of all the classwork.

This had panicked me greatly the week before but now I was awash on a sea of warm fuzzies, smiling benignly at fate, knowing that whatever happened, everything would be all right, which was a bit of a bargain seeing as no drugs were involved in achieving this altered state.

Last week had been like this:

Monday. Fourteen stories! Too awful to contemplate. Could start working on one but it's more fun to sit around with Fabulous Classmates gassing about how difficult it will be to write fourteen stories.

Tuesday. Fourteen stories. Could start working on one but feel huge imperative to sit around moaning to Fabulous Classmates about how much I hate journalism because it is too pressurised.

Wednesday. Fourteen stories. Could start working on one but the person I need to talk to has probably gone home for the day and there's no point leaving messages because nobody ever gets back to you because everybody hates journalists because journalism is intrinsically dishonest because all they want to do is sell papers and where's the integrity in that? I will not be a slave to capitalism. Instead I will sit and chat to Fabulous Classmates about how annoying some people are.

Thursday. Fourteen stories. Could start working on one but it is much nicer to help Fabulous Classmates with theirs. I think I would be a better sub-editor than reporter because I am good at tidying up other people's copy and I nearly did a graphic design course once. Reporting is very difficult and I will probably never be any good at it. I will somehow probably manage to produce my fourteen stories at some unspecified point later in the term using a method that has not yet become clear to me. My inability to take the bull by the horns is entirely the fault of my parents as I have their wastrel, procrastinating DNA coursing through my genes. I am destined to be a sad sap loser and must accept my fate. Fancy a coffee?

Friday. Fourteen stories. Does not compute. La la la la lah. Oh look - shiny!

But on Monday my first waking thought was 'the only way out is through'.

"Blimey. Where did that come from?" I said to Downstairs Monkey. He gave a little simian shrug and went back to sleep.

So I skipped into school and demanded my tutor give me a Wednesday deadline* and I think, I think, I have succeeded in pulling my head out of my arse and the first of the first fourteen stories is done.

It was one I started during my work experience experience but owing to the fact I am a 'Sensitive Artistic Type' and 'Not A Journalist'** I never got it finished.

It's about how medicine traces in the water supply affect marine life and even if I say so myself, I am pretty excited about it.

The provisional title is Fish With Tits.

The Weasel's back.




* kinda
** that is, I am a piker

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Blogger Made Me Do It

"It is never too late to be what you might have been"

I did a bit of a weird stalky thing over the weekend.

I am writing this post to apologise to the subject of my weird stalkiness who will be no doubt rubbing her eyes in disbelief at her stats counter.

A new reader dropped by recently, and I thought her blog looked interesting. 'I'll have a look at it properly, when I get time,' I told Downstairs Monkey, who is the only person I talk to outside of school these days.

On Friday evening I picked up the book Tracks, by Robyn Davidson. It proved such a gripping read I didn't put it down until 3am.

When I woke on Saturday morning, I picked it straight back up and finished it off. It was that good. Really. You should read it immediately.

Anyway, this put me in a readingy frame of mind.

So I switched on the laptop, which now has tinternet again - hurrah! - and caught up with a few blogs I've neglected of late. Then, and it must've still been quite early in the day, I clicked onto the interesting-looking blog I'd told Downstairs Monkey about.

What time did I get off it? Erm, check that stat counter, it must've been around 6am Sunday. Sorry dude. Stalky. Stalky stalky stalky. I felt weird and embarrassed being on it for so long, but still couldn't tear myself away. Not only was the subject matter well-written, truthful and absorbing but there were cats, booze, poetry, weather, mad relatives and so many brilliant links to play with, after I'd finished reading absolutely everything I felt like I'd been on holiday.

I read the whole blog, right back to the first entry in 2005, because I just... recognised what was being said. Every word of it; every up, every down - I'd been there too in my life. I won't link to it to save the author's embarrassment and to the author I will say this: feel free to block me if you're now a bit creeped out.

But - well, wow.



[UPDATE: ok, seeing as she's fessed up in the comments, it was Pomgirl]