Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm a big fan of hard rubbish. I love a good nosey at a pile of discarded gear out on the nature strip, remnants of days gone by.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." they say, sexistly. Well I agree to a degree. I can't honestly say I have treasured an item from hard rubbish, but certainly there have been many objects that I've procured, nay rescued, from a nature strip that have been very useful: a perfectly fine fisherman's stool, a large outdoor umbrella, various pieces of wicker furniture, a professional-style portable massage table, a houseful of high quality wooden blinds, a split system air conditioner… all these items have been well-used, and that was after I picked them up from the side of the road.

I don't know if there is a written law in relation to hard rubbish (the only unwritten law I know is "First come, first served."), but I'm pretty sure it doesn't include "All crap left on the side of the street instantly becomes the property of the local council.", which is what the Shire of Yarra Ranges tried to assert a couple of months back, when it charged a guy for taking a vacuum cleaner from a pile of hard rubbish.

In the end, the council was told to essentially "stop being a cock" and they backed down.

Hard rubbish is very seasonal, and like fashion, goes through trends. 2009 the look was TVs, big, small, plastic and wooden, but definitely three distinct dimensions. With the influx of flatscreens, all the fatscreens were getting the heave-ho.

In 2010, the look was soft, bulky and rectangular. Mattresses were high on the turfing agenda, looking like predatorial giant ice-cream sandwiches.

In 2011, I've noticed the "in thing" to be out are BBQs. On some blocks, you'd swear they'd only just finished hosting a sausage sizzle on every corner.

That's not to say there aren't hangers on after each season. Like any wannabe hipster sitch, there's always those people who are only just climbing on the bandwagon two season too late, when any real hipster knows that they haven't been throwing out bandwagons since 2004.

So while you'll see plenty of BBQs hanging out on the nature strip, like 15 year olds waiting for a lift to a cool party they'll never get invited to, you'll also see quite a few fatscreens, giant ice-cream sandwiches and some of the saddest furniture ever to escape your grandmother's good room.

The fun part for you is that you can make it a game. Fortunately, if you can't be bothered, I've done all the hard work for you.

Simply print out the attached Hard Rubbish Bingo PDF, and you and your friends/fellow combatants can enjoy the thrill of racing past piles of castaways and bleating that you saw rolled up carpet like it's the cure for cancer.

It's fun for you, and three of your bored carmates (or walkmates, if you're that 15 year old who decided that you can't be bothered waiting for that lift, because he's never coming!!! and you're just gonna walk to that party, or at least hang out in front of the party house and drink Wipe Out, sitting on a broken wicker chair, while a mattress sizes you up).

Hunt on, and may the most eagle-eyed cheapskate win!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I managed to scar my child on the weekend.

In the hope of playing a new movie, rather than the thousandth repeat of Aladdin, Little Mermaid or Cinderella, I chose a different movie from our back catalogue, Over the Hedge.

While a wholly enjoyable romp through the backyards of suburbia in the company of small animals, it totally failed to maintain the interest of Little Miss Three. Mummy and Daddy ended up watching more of the movie than she did.

So when the credits finally rolled on that film, to the tune of another Ben Folds' ditty, I started thinking about what I could use to stave off the Disney classics collective for a few more hours.

What would be an enjoyable movie that would entrance the littlies for an hour or two, some flight of fancy, bright moving colours and a few bouts of singing and dancing?

How about 1971's classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"? Sure! You've got singing, dancing, candy, bright colours, chocolate, oompha loompas and crazy kids. What's not to like?

As it turns out… lots.

For a start, I ended up fast-forwarding through the whole section from the end of the Candyman song to the entering into the factory.

While I'm at it: the Candyman. Not only does the image of a grown man with a dopy grin, carefreely sprinkling small children with handfuls of lollies, appear a little creepy these days, it's just not good business sense. Here is his main target customer base and what is he doing? Doling out sweets like water, without any concern about payment and recouping of monies. It's just not a sound basis for the business whose main source of income is the purchase of sweets, usually by impressionable small children. Also, as I previously mentioned, creepy.

Thankfully, fast-forwarding gets us past the scene of Slugworth's giant face taking up the whole screen in moments. Which is great, because that face could freak me out, let alone a three year old.

So we get to the factory and everyone is signing contract and being surly, and Gene Wilder is being weird and otherworldly, then they climb into a cupboard and come out into the factory floor, where everything should turn around in terms of "Fun Factor", because who doesn't love a happy song about dreams and imagination and wishes, in a room that is completely edible?

OK, I almost had her back on that one. Until the "little boy fell in the water and went up the tube and got stuck in the pipe and couldn't get out and then went up the pipe and where did he go?"

Then I remembered that I had the same response when I first saw the movie as a kid. And I was just as perturbed.

Little Miss Three wouldn't let it go. She wanted to know where he went, and when the other characters moved off, she wanted to know if they were going to go and find him. Despite me assuring her that "He'll be fine, I'm sure they'll find him at the end.", she wouldn't let it go.

Fortunately our discussion about the location of Augustus Gloop kept her focus away from the manic boat ride, with Wonka reciting poetry with increasingly fevered glee.

Is that a chicken getting its head chopped off in the background?

So we get to the Invention Room, full of crazy contraptions and puffs of smoke and wonky bonky noises, and I think that maybe we're getting back on track...

…until the girl blows up like a ball and goes all blue and they roll her away to find the other boy who went up the pipe, don't they Daddy?

At this point it was decided that this was a Daddy movie, not a Little Miss Three movie, and she went off with Mummy to do... anything else.

But not before telling me that she would never watch That Daddy Movie ever again, as well as telling everyone to not watch That Daddy Movie, and That Daddy Movie should be thrown away.

Two hours later, she was still complaining about the fate of the boy that went up the pipe.

I foresee a long period of time before she comes back to any Wonka-related material.

In retrospect, I should have picked a different classic children's movie to entertain Little Miss Three.

Maybe next time, I'll go for The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Impersonation Time

And now it's time for my impersonation of the 80's band A Flock of Seagulls.