Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sterne finishes here. What's that? you say. Is it March already? Obviously it's not (you clod) - I've cunningly preempted the post-festive season doldrums by bringing next year's retirement forward to this year. See: cunning.

The Ghost of Blogging Past is off sick today so you're spared the traditional maudlin nostalgia. Suffice to say that Sterne started off as a laugh, developed into something arguably more interesting, if wildly uneven, but hasn't been up to scratch for some time now. Time to move on, and this time I mean it. (*Tears cloud his eyes as he pets the faithful hound one last time before raising his shotgun...*)

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Man Celebrates Not Celebrating Christmas

Christmas always comes early for Melbourne man Robert West, even though he doesn't actually celebrate the holiday.

"This is my favourite time of year," West told Sterne. "I get to show off how world-weary and cynical I am, all the while scoring points against soft targets like organised religion and mass consumerism. It's like, well, it's like all my Christmases come at once!"

West's pontificating doesn't stop at religion and shopping. The holiday season he vehemently opposes also affords West the opportunity to speak out on a range of subsidiary topics.

"I love going to Christmas lunch at my parents' place. I don't eat anything, or exchange any gifts - my constant haughty derision is gift enough. Last year I made my cousin cry by explaining in minute detail the battery-farming and slaughtering process that had resulted in the turkey she was eating. And then I sabotaged the bon-bons by replacing all the jokes with selections from Mao's Little Red Book. It was totally subversive, although for some reason everybody still laughed. But they won't be laughing after the revolution! Then there won't be any bon-bons for anybody!"

West said that while his anti-Christmas stance began as an undergraduate pose - "You know, making a point of writing 'xmas', vandalising nativity scenes, knifing shopping centre Santas, that sort of thing" - it has since become a true reflection of his character and beliefs.

"I really am this nauseatingly smug all year round," he said. "Christmas just gives me the chance to show it off."

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This Xmas rerun was originally posted on Dec 21, 2005.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An anticlimactic tale

I went into the kitchen this morning to put the kettle on. While I was there I looked out the kitchen window and noted that everything was normal: birds were singing, trees were producing sap/leaves, the clothesline was turning clockwise in a gentle, almost wistful, manner. Most importantly, none of the houses within my purview appeared to be on fire. I left the kettle to do its thing and went back to whatever it was I was doing. (Staring blankly at the loungeroom wall, if I recall correctly.)

I returned to the kitchen a few minutes later and made a cup of coffee. Glancing out the kitchen window I couldn't help noticing that there was an enormous column of thick brown smoke billowing from a house around the corner. "Shit!" says I, and various thoughts scurried through my (thus-far-uncaffienated) mind, eg. Shit! That house is on fire! Surely somebody else has noticed! I mean, shit! The house is on fire! Should I call 000? What if somebody else has already done that! But what if everybody else in the neighbourhood has a job and I'm the only pathetic person home at this hour to notice the fire and therefore the only person who can call 000? Or, what if I'm the only person at home except for the people in the house which is on fire? What then? What if they die? Should I call 000 or should I run around the corner and make certain that the house is on fire (although it clearly is), and if so whether there is anybody inside, whom I will then presumably have to rescue and maybe I'll have to appear on the news for having effected said rescue in which case I will really regret having put on this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt when I got up this morning, but anyway it's the right thing to do, I'm not a hero, I'm just doing what any Aussie would do...

While my brain was faffing around my body had taken control and I was off, dashing down the street and around the corner where I was confronted by an incredible amount of smoke. I had expected at least a few other people to be milling around in the street, mobiles to their ears, but it was deserted. The smoke continued to billow from the rear of the house, although I couldn't see any flames. I decided to get a closer look, so I ran down the driveway, through the side gate, and moved hesitantly into the backyard. The smoke was so thick that I expected the back half of the house to be engulfed in flame and I quickly calculated my course of action: first, call the fire brigade; second, try to find out if anybody is inside and if so attempt to rescue them; third, go home and change into that nice lilac shirt I bought for my brother's wedding, just in case the camera crews turn up.

Obviously I didn't actually want the house to be on fire, but I have to say I was a little disappointed when I got into the backyard proper and saw that the house was undamaged. Then I realised that there was a man standing in the centre of the yard with a garden hose in his hand and a cigarette dangling from his lip. At his feet was a heap of semi-wet leaves that he had evidently set on fire for some reason and was now trying to extinguish.

"Ya right?" he said, flicking cigarette ash into the leaf-pile, which was of course the source of all the smoke.

"Yeah," I said. "I live around the corner. I thought your house was on fire!"

"Nah. Just the leaves. I'm burnin' them."

He seemed disinclined to continue with this witty banter, so I slunk off home, muttering to myself. By the time I got back my coffee was cold so I called the local council and dobbed in the leaf man for burning off. I hope they put him away for life.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Santa-skeptic child "still fundamentally credulous"

Local eight-year-old Marc Coleman's misgivings about the nature of his parents' relationship to Santa Claus have this year developed into full-blown skepticism.

"Marc began expressing doubts this time last year," Marc's mother, Judy Coleman, told Sterne. "It was just little things, things only a mother would notice, like when he drew a picture at school of Santa Claus with the words 'MOTHERFUCKING LIE!!!' scrawled underneath in red texta. That was the first clue that our little guy was growing out of the Santa stage."

The situation has worsened in recent weeks with the irrepressible lad now openly questioning his parents' honesty.

"I asked Marc what he would like Santa to bring him for Christmas. He looked at me and said, 'I don't know, what would you like to bring me for Christmas, Santa - oops, I mean, Mum.' I really don't know where he picked up that sarcastic tone. Bill [Marc's father] and I tend to be more spiteful and cruel than sarcastic."

Fortunately, Marc is "still fundamentally credulous" and prepared to swallow just about anything else his parents tell him.

"Bill and I had a fight the other night and afterwards Marc asked me if his Dad and I still loved one another. I looked deep into his innocent blue eyes and told him yes, we love one another very much and always will. Sucker bought it without flinching. Who's the know-it-all cynic now?"

Bill Coleman agrees with his wife's assessment.

"Yes, the Santa thing's become untenable but Marc still trusts us implicitly. He still believes in the Tooth Fairy, he still believes his dog has gone to live on a farm, and he still believes he can do whatever he wants with his life if he just puts his mind to it. We can probably string him along with that last one for at least another decade. Best of all, Marc still believes in his good old Dad. Just the other day I promised I'd play cricket with him after work. Of course I forgot and went to the pub instead, but when I got home there was Marc sitting on the front porch in the dark with his cricket bat waiting for me. Brought tears to my eyes it did - this kid really will believe almost anything!"

Writers, please stop using:

quotidian

oneiric

cleaves (I used this once, but then I got help.)

limn

You don't have to be despondent to work here but it helps

I had a phone interview this afternoon that was distinguished by the interviewer's strenuous efforts to convince me that the job she was interviewing me for isn't worth having.

"Now, the job is desk-bound and repetitive. The same task will be performed again and again for hours on end with only minor variations. How does that sound to you?"

"Um. Ok."

"The salary is $[unimpressive number]. That includes super loading. The before-tax salary is $[even less impressive number]. Employees also receive [paltry subsidiary benefits]. How does that sound to you?"

"Uh. Fine..."

"We're located [a long way from anywhere]. Public transport is limited. Do you have a car?"

"No."

"Then you'll struggle to get here. Even with a car it can be a struggle. [Laughs nervously]"

And on it went. I'm certain she must have finished the interview and started drafting her resignation.