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The Archive of Blackframes.com.au posts

Old posts from the original Blackframes site

Making Contact

Lach Ryan

Contact

"Just poke yourself in the eye." This is essentially what my optometrist advised me to do whilst 'fitting’ my new contact lenses. Contact lenses are an optical push-up bra. Convincing both the wearer and admirer that visually there is more going on than there actually is. Recently I took up an offer from my optical dispensary to improve my eye-cleavage. After running through how to expertly poke myself in the eye and being assured that I was 'a natural' , I gathered my sample pack and headed home to try out my new mutant-vision powers.

But I could not.

It seems looking at myself in the mirror, I was unable to stick them to me. The lense would not contact with my iris. Poke after painful poke, the clear plastic bowl of enlightenment would not adhere. Try as I may, I couldn't enhance my visual capabilities due ironically to my hand-eye coordination.

Now for those readers who have not had the pleasure to lock eyes with me, let me explain something. I have been blessed with a set of eyelashes that are the love children of a mascara model and a camel. Had I not been born a man (this is a literal statement and painful fact for my mother), I would have made my living travelling the globe fluttering my eyelids for cosmetic companies. That, or providing the services of a human fan via my eyelids to a rich Arabian sheik.

Two weeks on and several attempts later, it seems my lush lashes just won't allow for the finger of revolution to deliver on its visionary promise. This provided many minutes of entertainment for my family, who would gather with popcorn and chairs to watch the sideshow freak now known as the Persistent Poker of Pain.

Maybe it is my body trying to rebel against what has become my iconic look. Perhaps the black frames that have adorned my face for the last 5 years have become like an exoskeletal-appendage. There is a power in the frames of darkness. They take over the wearer, imposing a worldview that is theirs alone. Ever since the Optical Revolution of the early 70's that saw the rise of the contact lenses, black frames and contacts have been at war. The random blindings and fatal infections may have subsided, but the tensions remain. I will remain a visual Switzerland on this conflict. My heart lies with black frames, but contact lenses seem to have a vision for the future. If only we could see eye to eye.

 

The No C's Diet

Lach Ryan

Shot of a funny  woman housewife dressed in retro style.

I am good at very few things. Eating is one of them. Inspired by b-grade TV show 'Man vs Food' I have started entering eating competitions...granted these are with myself, but the competitive digestive juices still flow. However, I cannot stay on this gluttonous path. I have up-sized my efforts to get the balance right when it comes to eating and have developed the framework of a diet that will ensure a slim silhouette and many appearances of TV Shows that air before noon. Large Ladies and jolly, fat Gentlemen I would like to introduce you to my revolutionary NO C's Diet. Once in a generation a diet comes along that defines that era along with its music, fashion and politics. Who can forget such dietary classic as the Atkins? or The South Beach, The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, CSIRO, Liver Cleansing, A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore and the Estonian Egg famine? Essentially the NO C's is a simple system of what not to eat. It concentrates on the obvious and not-so obvious.Here's an overview...

Week 1 -6 Simply eat whatever you like, but run twice as much as you normally do. Easy huh? Never run. Get off your ass and move those legs. Marathon runner in training? Well bud those 84kms aren't going to get completed arguing with a blog post via computer screen.

Week 7-12 By now you should have noticed general well-being improvements, possible drastic weight loss, a sense of renewed confidence and purpose and an appreciation for open spaces. Great! Buckle up because now we go to the next level.Your eating plan starts here and requires you to cut out all of the following-

Cigarettes- it looks unbelievably cool to smoke, but good looks don't count for much when you're dead, unless you believe in Model Heaven. Cakes- Blow the candles out on any goods from the flour fueled family such as muffins, friands, biscuits, pancakes, waffles or flan. Chips - Remember girls 'a packet a day keeps progress away'... and the potential of you ever needing to by a notebook titled 'Notes for my Wedding' Carbohydrate sides- no potatoes, pasta, cous cous, polenta, rice, packet or artisan breads. Don't even consider a plate that has come into contact with these sides, less they talk with the rest of the meal and influence them with starchy ideas. Cans and Casks- alcohol is gone. Maybe so is your confidence and social life, but you needed to know this sooner or later. Coffee- the withdraws will be more prolonged than the US getting out of Afghanistan, but just think that at the end of the day, you alone will rule your nervous system and not some tribal Pakistani warlord (the coffee bean in this analogy). Cereal- forget starting the day with this. Try fruit, skipping it altogether or just eating a picture of your favorite food you cut from the supermarket catalogue.

Week 13 -16 For the final 4 weeks we tackle some often overlooked factors, to get you the results many chase but very few capture.

Cats- a hard one for many, but to loose the fat you've got to loose the feline out of your diet. If you find it too hard, at least try to change to low fat Kittens or even possums who are higher in protein. Catalogues- the staple of any weight loss diet is eating pictures of foods cut from supermarket catalogues (see cereals). In order to shed yourself past the edge of never-before, put down the scissors and go for something else less intangible. Cabbage- Who doesn't love a whole cabbage from the local Cabbage shop after a few drinks on a Friday night? Sorry these are off the menu along with the alcohol. Chocolate- strange as it may seem, but recent research shows that chocolate consumption may be heavily linked to many forms of obesity, fat gain, diabetes and general ill health. Whilst the so-called Doctors have yet to prove any of this, anecdotal evidence suggest backing off on the bars may offer some people some weight loss benefits. Sounds just crazy enough to work!

 Following this diet over the course of 16 weeks along with a Government approved calisthenics program will see you experiencing weight loss gains like a jockey in Spring Carnival. Keep those before-and-after shots coming...

How to MC a Wedding

Lach Ryan

MC

A few weeks back I was at a wedding. The first one I have attended where I was not the MC or wearing inappropriate shoes or any underpants. I had some time to sit back sniff the cheese and chew the wine, taking notes and reflecting on how you hammer the MC role at a wedding. Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for all you first time players.

DO

Learn the names & faces of parents and the bridal party- I made the mistake at one wedding of talking to the Uncle as the Father of the Bride. In my defense  he looked very similar to his brother and I also caught him pashing the Mother of the Bride behind the ice fountain on a few occasions.

Eat- these gigs don't pay. Get your time investment back with food. You'll be busy during the peak service times so slip the function coordinator a $20 and this will ensure you get a sampler platter coming at you like a tipsy, lonely bridesmaid at home-time.

Prepare- I don't care what classes you took during your Arts degree or how many episodes of Drew Carey's 'Who are those white guys beside the black guy Anyway?' you cant impro this. As one who has taken a few dips in the pool of improv, it is a dark art that cannot be mastered. Prepare a few thoughtful words, and if you can make them funny. If you can't do funny, aim for controversial  Either way make them memorable.

Fill gaps- Most weddings are brilliant fun, if they are yours. For everyone else its an excuse to put on a suit/dress and juggle drinks and small serves of food. This is where the MC needs to bring information and frivolity. Tell them where the toilet is, tell the about yourself, tell them about love. Tell them this is the best night of their lives and if it was all to end right here and now...well remind them you have a gun.

DON’T

Reference the Buck's party/Hen’s night- what happens on these things is between you, the other attendees, the fabric and the stain removal guy. Despite what insights on your friend's beloved may have surfaced, you need to shelve them like a good wine only to be bought out 20-30 years later at the birthday of one of their children.

Talk about Ex’s- save that for the divorce BBQ or Spouse's wake. Something like "Hey Emmy.P now works the registers at Coles and guess what? She's single!" would then be appropriate.

Offer an opinion on the wedding ceremony- Unless you are legally empowered to do a better job, make like a TV fisherman and Let. It. Go. Yes we all know there are other verses in the Bible than Corinthians 13, but Bogans don't!  You think there aren't other great wedding dance songs out there beside 'November Rain' ? Sure there are. Bogans don't care.   To them love is patient. Love is kind. Love is best expressed  whilst dry-humping your new wife through a Slash guitar solo in front of 73 family and friends.

Play an instrument/wear a Kilt - Despite the calls from the bridal party avoid this request. Putting sentiments to music is cheap and tacky, and best left to musicians. Doing it in a man-dress is worse. Nobody wants to see the by-product of your six drum lessons, and nobody especially wants to see your kit and sticks.

Follow the above and the rewards of MCing a wedding will be yours. More Moet bottles and thank-you cards than you have ever known.

Dads of Summer

Lach Ryan

DadnSon

The holiday section of summer is closing for another year, and so I shake the sand off the towel of my existence and prepare to settle into the year routine proper. I can’t help but feel this summer was one of the better ones- full of quintessential defining Dad moments, like I was living a poignant 80’s sitcom. As a Dad of summer, things that you remember once loving come back via your kids and wink at you lovingly again. Like viewing fireworks freshly through the half-closed eyes of a toddler you are forcing to stay up. Seeing Police arrest drunken teens, and the ensuring drama it provides. Ice cream as meal replacement. Getting sand in your pants, ensuring exfoliated skin that only nature can provide (because a beautician wouldn't go there).  Enjoying local tourism attractions that would have been impressive only to Eastern Europeans and the under 12’s.

For me, fatherhood kicks me in the shins every time I pack the car for a trip. Nothing makes me feel more like a Dad, or should I clarify my own Dad, than when I’m playing virtual Tetris with a pram, a portacot and a Porter’s monthly portion of luggage. Squeezing bags into crevices whilst muttering like a madman’s mother, all under the duress of some self imposed take-off time. The impending threat of overrunning this scheduled leave time ensures a nice sweat is broken into. The baffling thing about this sweating is that it will happen in any weather, face-melting heat or lip-freezing cold, I’ll be lightly covered in a deodorant defying dew of discomfort. Many of times this scenario played out as we visited family in the rurals and got away to the coast. Each time I felt my ability with packing the car improved, so did my scope as a father. I even managed to undertake the last two attempts without grouching at my wife.

Time spent in hot cars is as Australian as time spent in London. Both have vastly different effects on your complexion. Summer was filled with such trips, up and down highways as the heat chased us from destination to destination. The reign of the iThing means that jillions of songs are available at the scroll of a finger. But when you’re a Dad, the rules state that much like a commercial radio station, only a few CD’s can be in rotation at a time. For us it was The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘Handwritten’. I’m happy my son likes straight up rock, and more than a few montage moments were had screaming together to ‘45’ whilst A-man head banged like an advanced baby bogan.

We hosted our son’s 2nd Birthday party. Blowing balloons and supervising party games is another Dad duty. My own Dad was there in his new found role of Pop. He was a bit flustered, having had to pack up the car earlier that day for the trip down. Here we were, holding the piñata as two 2 year- olds spent a good 30 minutes trying to dint it with a miniature cricket bat. The cricket bat wasn't that effective in cracking through, but was a vast improvement on last year’s device. Why we thought Grandma’s walking stick was the best thing for barely standing 1 year-olds to attack a paper mâché Cookie Monster, is pure proof you don’t know much about kids for first couple of years. Dad knows this so passed on some great advice. ‘Don’t stand directly behind the piñata when the kids swing... not if you’re thinking of having more of them anyway.’

Fixing things is imperative for true manliness and a favoured Dad pastime. The wisdom goes something like this “Women break it, Men fix it.” Just ignore the female majority working in mental health treating majority male patients, or the hunk of teen hearts smashed by Armageddon-era Ben Affleck. This fix-it imperative only increases when children enter the picture. I found myself this summer along with my little apprentice- man nailing nails, assembling tables and beds, starting motors, tightening bolts and digging a hole. There is something rewarding about learning how to make better that which currently is not, avoiding having to pay a professional for it. I may push this ideal as far as I can but early on I suspect things like dental work and optometry may need to be left to the professionals. I’ll just do the stuff around the house.

One thing that did get the better of me was the DVD/Recorder.  Stuck in an elctro-loop, the thing kept turning itself off, after I turned it on. It was at this point I realised I was approaching the peak of Dadness. In past cultures, children were reared to protect and provide for their parents and elders when they became weak, vulnerable and old. In modern society it seems we simply breed a new generation to understand and interpret the latest technology for us. As A-man came over with his toy spanner and said ‘I do, I do’ and started banging on the top of the player...I realised in about a years’ time he’ll be able to sort this. Until then I guess I’m stuck watching TV, which isn't so bad...Armageddon is on.

BBQ’s were also had, the Zoo visited, fish ‘n’ chips enjoyed, waves surfed, dogs patted, bikes rode balls kicked (sorry Pop) and dreams dreamed.That last bit is assumed. I can’t get into my kids sub-conscious yet, especially when he’s asleep. The Perceptorator V20 only claims to work when they are awake...at least that’s what I think it says. The instructions are all in Russian.

A Silent Night

Lach Ryan

Queen_BF

There is alot of noise around Christmas time. Each year the Queen does a Christmas message. This year is will be in holographic 3D in an attempt to get more people to care. Obama and the Pope each put one out too. One is in done via shadow puppets and the other is parody song of the year's hits. TV networks put out Christmas Specials that sometimes are, and sometimes aren't. There are sales to be had, causes to be supported, dogs to be adopted, Santa photos to be taken, hampers to be won, campaigns to listen too, feasts to be prepared and venison to be slaughtered

Its all too much. Add to this the constant flow of people trying to catch up with you before the 25th December like the world is going to end. This year,most people actually thought the world would end on the 21st December! It didn't. I suspect there will be an increase in Gift Voucher giving this year as people scramble to hide the fact they didn't bother shopping for pressies as they had backed in the Mayan calendar and were too busy dancing butt-naked among beehives in Byron Bay.

The noise of Christmas is almost too much. You don't need to do half the stuff they say, eat as much as I do or even spend all that you don't have. I do think you need to make time to find some quiet and reflect on what all this craziness is about. Not just Christmas, but the year past. Even the years ahead. Why the noise? What could you hear if there was silence? What the flip is tinsel about?!

It seems there will never be silence, thanks to Christmas carols. Don't get me wrong, I like a nice carol occasionally. A good carol is like a dog, it's best kept outdoors and away from young children and the elderly. However I cannot stand the increasing rate of televised events with pop-tartlets, reality TV fading-stars, network profile 'talent' and game show hosts warbling songs of praise through their whitened, atheistic teeth. These songs are intended for people who believe Christmas has more to do with the Big Guy in the Sky, than the Big Red Guy who ate too much pie. They really need to just shut up.

When I was a teenager, I remember on Christmas eve Mum would mop the floors before going to bed. I would kind of stay up, just hanging around enjoying the anticipation of the next day. Occasionally the peace would be disturbed by Paul smashing cans next door, but mostly it was a quiet night. A Stille Nacht as the Germans call it. No crap TV movies with John Candy racing home to see his family and avoid a heart attack. No domestics. No drunk Uncles. No Xmas Eve nightclub benders. Just silence.

Each Christmas Eve I try to remember these nights. The Silent night. A holy night. When Christ the Saviour was born.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

The Hero Next Door

Lach Ryan

FS

Children’s TV is visual cough syrup. At first it starts out practical, just something to ease the congestion of child minding. Then you find yourself late one Wednesday afternoon sprawled out on the couch, looking down the bottle of addiction.  It sucks you in. The bright colours, the syrupy story lines  You become quickly addicted to the 10min episodic bursts of entertainment. When did a 30 year old man care what a bunch of talking trains get up to each day? When he became a Dad- that’s when! My child is addicted to Fireman Sam. All other children’s TV is judged by this benchmark. A show is either BS or AS (before Sam or After Sam). Many, many shows are BS. Take for example the multitude of poorly animated shows featuring either talking Pigs or Sheep. Aren't any other animals suitable for anthropomorphizing and adventures? What about Gibbons, Salamanders and the humble Yak?

‘Yerty Yak all Dressed in Black’ would be an ace show. It would follow the goings-on of a young, misunderstood Goth Yak trying to fit his square frame into a rounded Yak world. However I would never get to watch that show, as it doesn't have fire or a man named Sam.

Archer is obsessed. Any free minute he has, he will try to watch this show. We have a cache of them recorded to the hard drive of the PVR, but he also has mastered the iPad and catch-up TV solely for the purpose of getting his ‘Reoar Reoar’ (his sound for sirens and also shorthand for the show) hit. Now before you tune out (like many viewers did for the shortly run Russian animation of Grigori Gibbon) expecting a person with kids brag blog, I have some theories and concerns with this show that I can no longer remain quiet about.

‘Fireman Sam’ is set in Pontypandy, Wales. This is a small village with the most varying topography in the world. Imagine a place with snow-capped mountains that meet a deep harbour. It is like New Zealand of the northern hemisphere, without the Hobbits and grating accents. But below this idyllic surface lurks some darker monsters. Take for example the town itself. It is small. A population of no more than 40 people, 4 of which work for the Fire brigade. When 10% of the town is employed by the fire service, sinister needs creeps in.

This level of employment needs to be justified; fires need to be put out. There must be a constant source of fires. Where there are fires, there is smoke. Where there is smoke, there is most likely a closet pyromaniac. Now I am not sure which of the four main fire fighting characters is the Pontypandy Pyro, but if I had to guess I would say Station Officer Steele. He’s the stiff upper-lipped, silver haired leader fox of the team.  Don’t tell me though the thought of early retirement doesn’t occasionally reduce him to some secret, pantsless, burny-burny just to keep things rolling.

Sam himself is an enigma. A workaholic, the man seems to never go home (does he even have one?) and is quite the eligible bachelor. Single by choice or just married to the job, he tends to make the local ladies swoon. Especially sister-in-law Bronwyn. Bronwyn is married to Sam’s less capable brother and local fisherman Charlie. The fact the creators look down on the dippy Fisherman, is a clear indication that this show is homage to the English class structure. Bronwyn is always coming onto to Sam with puns and double entendres’ about trucks and hoses that would make the most open minded stay-at-home Mum blush. Sam is oblivious. This makes me wonder if his internal fires burn only for other Firemen.

Another of this progressive show’s characters is Dilys Price and her son Norman. A single Mum and mischievous son. Norman is a natural disaster of a child and would be second only to Charlie Sheen at the peak of Two and a Half Men’s popularity, in regards to importance of a character in a series.  He is the central cause of 90% of the fire or emergency situations in the show. The 10% he is not involved in, the audience is still led to believe he is to blame. The show could easily be called Fireman Sam and the Redhead Menace Child. The real question that the writers leave floating in the corner of the room is- who is Norman’s father? I like to think that the fact that both he and Fireman Sam are redheads has little to do with their strong Welsh roots, but speaks more loudly of their shared DNA.

Fireman Sam as Norman’s father would make complete sense from a narrative perspective. It talks to the tradition of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, but the opposite dynamic. It is probably this complex subtext of what appears to be a simple children’s show that saw it nominated for a BAFTA.

Norman’s mother Dilys is quite active on the dating scene. Her long time suitor on the show is the town’s bumbling bus driver Trevor, ambiguously dark skinned for bonus broadcast-diversity points. That doesn’t stop her fluttering her eyes at other men that punctuate the show. She is a sucker for a man in uniform. Take the token international characters that speak strongly of the markets this show has high appeal in. Canadian mountaineer Moose Roberts and Australian rescue helicopter pilot Tom Thomas. Tom is often called into action when the fire-fighters have to do anything that doesn’t involve a ladder or a hose. He is adapt at looking hunky in a 1980’s Queensland way and is also handy on the BBQ- what did I say before about BAFTA’s? Moose Roberts basically hangs out on Mountains and talks in a difficult accent about the weather. He has a permanent five o’clock shadow, but I couldn’t say the same thing about his role on the show.

Fireman Sam has proved itself as a viable entertainment option since 1986. This is one heck of a long running show as far as Children’s TV goes. It is the unanswered questions between the lines of the shows scripts that will continue to hook easily engaged parents far into the future. If you want to be up with what the cool kids (literally) are into, this is it.

Seoul Gangnam Style

Lach Ryan

psy

The most famous place on the planet at the moment is probably Gangnam. It is an area in Seoul's south that is both affluent and plastic. Home to Asia's best plastic surgeons and the type of people that would use them, along with the cars they would drive. I was told that plastic surgery is a popular gift to graduating students from their proud parents. Makes the waterfront lunch in Geelong, Mum and Dad bought me look tame. Young Korean's would rather get thier boobs, noses and eyelids (most popular apparently) than enjoy a steak with the folks. It is also a place of commerce, with many businesses and conventions taking place there. It is for that reason I was in Seoul, Korea. It feels as though the work component of the trip has overtook the travel side. I didn't really get to sit down and enjoy the three course cultural meal of Seoul as I had planned. It was more like I 'sat at the bar and had drink, promising myself I must come back properly'. I was fortunate enough to be shown around by some locals so did get enough of a peek.

Business in Korea is a consuming and homo-erotic affair. Koreans work all the time! It seems the notion of holidays, like vegetarianism, is foreign to them. It is also common to see pairs of chummy business fellow's walking arm draped over each other discussing mergers and acquisitions. If not wearing a business suit, most Koreans seem to favor Jeans and runners. This is ultimately the birthplace of this controversial look. Gangnam style seems to translate to Levi's and Nike's, making Jerry Seinfeld a sartorial icon before his time.

Beef is a popular dish in Korea. So popular I don't actually know if any other food is served. That is an exaggeration. They have various pickled vegetables and greens, but they all seem to serve as a vessel for beef. In my 4 days there, I had beef twice a day. There is now so much iron in my blood that I am negotiating with China for the mining rights to it. The food is amazing though! Most nights it was BBQ, but I managed a burger or two from Kraze Burgers...off their all beef menu. The most popular burger is known as the 'Cow Stack'. It is a beef pattie served with cheese, pickles, mayo wedged between two outer beef patties.

It was hard but I took in some historic sites when I could. I took a couple of early morning walks in the crisp air to a temple and also King's park. It was coming out of Autumn, and the trees looked like they were on visual fire...but not in a Moses or Black Saturday way. The temple was an interesting experience. It was very busy with locals praying ,but still managed to be serene despite being in the center of a city. However, I am always suspicious of a church or holy place that has its own ATM on premises. Again, I saw another bunch of offerings to shrines, carrying on the Asian tradition. These God's seemed like they were running a restaurant, as everybody kept bringing them rice.

Korea is easy enough to get around with only English and working legs. Most signs and shops are also in English. Such businesses as 'Beer Bang' and 'Skin Food'. I hope the latter is not what it sounds like. There are enough cosmetic places around as it is. I did see a delightful little bistro that offered up an array of dog. Out front was a simple handmade sign showing your choice of doberman, poodle, maltese or bisou with complimentary kimchi. Kimchi is the other Psy of Korea, it is everywhere and made mostly of cabbage.

Seoul as a city is huge. It is sprawling like I'd imagine LA, has the stature of New York but reminds me mostly of Vancouver. It is extremely clean and well presented much like it's people. However I didnt get a sense of much substance. The saying goes  "South Korea has Seoul" . I also hear North Korea has a military dictatorship and that sounds much more interesting to visit.

 

Hong Kong; I hardly knew thee.

Lach Ryan

Hong Kong Stopover

36 Hours in Hong Kong. Sounds rather like a Paul Kelly song where he’d drawl on about some bloke wandering Asia looking to cleanse the anguish of losing his Blue Heeler. That has Australia-Day-in-London-pub-sing-a-long all over it, but more accurately it is the first-stop itinerary of my latest travels. For those of you who just joined us, I occasionally travel for work in my day job in the para-coffee industry. Hong Kong was named after a giant ape. Her brother was also very famous and had a movie made about him. It is basically an Island or two that holds approximately 7 million people, although 40 million tourists pass through it every year making it the number 1 visited destination in the world. You could say that Hong Kong is the turnstile of the globe. I probably wouldn’t though, especially at social functions where you are trying to impress folks. They’ll most likely think you’re a bit of a muppet.

I arrived late in the afternoon and learnt far too much about the metro system and far too little about the quality of the taxi service. I spent another frustrating few hours trying to connect to in-room broadband with some fishing wire posing as cable that the hotel provided. It didn’t work. I complained and room service bought me a shiny new white cable that looked like it was from Steve Job’s private collection. Then I trekked onto the streets to muster up some chow. I came across nothing that tickled, took nor striked my fancy. In a daze of frustrated confusion I settled upon a Thai restaurant. When the green curry that I ordered was all ‘green’ (it was glowing enough to run a small car) and too little ‘curry’, I decided I’d cut my losses. I staggered back to the hotel, but came across a massage studio.” That would do the trick” I thought. “Pay some middle aged Chinese woman to rub your aching, knotted muscles at 9.30pm on Tuesday. You are in Asia afterall.” So I went up to the place and was ushered firstly into small room, before being reassigned to one befitting my giant stature. Note to self: you are not built for Asia. Public transport doesn’t want you, clothing stores and footwear outlets don’t want you and hotel bathrooms certainly don’t want you either. Anyway, I donned some grandpa pyjama outfit while this lady smoothed out the kinks of the day for only $27 AUD.

The next morning I was up for a business meeting. I know this because I put on a jacket and a business face. It face fell off somewhere in the elevator on the way down from my room. The day was great stuff. Edmond my guide took me to a dozen cafes around Hong Kong, where I consumed at least six espressos. Later that afternoon I couldn’t work out why my phone was vibrating constantly in my pocket, until I realised it was my leg taking the full hit of the caffeine.

Before getting the ferry across to Kowloon, we stopped at the Apple store. I need free WiFi, but I also couldn’t get over the queues. I asked one guy what they were queuing for. My Cantonese is that great but I think he said he was just there because everyone else was doing it. The ferry goes across Victoria Harbour and only costs about $2.50HKD which is cheap considering the view. Miss Kowloon doesn’t always ride the ferry I am told, but if she isn’t commuting that day you can always admire the other view of the cityscape. Public transport is actually pretty fun in Hong Kong. Their double decker trams are super cool. Near the tram stops are these spiritual elders with incense and shrines who will give prayers and offerings to break the curse of your bad luck. I don’t quite get what they do or which God they are dealing with, but judging by the offerings they all had he must really like oranges. Perhaps he has a bad cold or is just vitamin C deficient.

We concluded the day with a dumpling smorgasbord. They were mostly those magic ones with soup inside. Afterwards I went late night shopping at big department store. They had their annual ‘Thankful Day’ sale on. Thankful Day is an annual holiday where everyone gets together to remember and celebrate the power of 10-30% OFF.

Tomorrow I fly out of Hong Kong. Not by myself. I will be using the services of an airplane. I can’t quite do that yet. Next stop is Korea…they didn’t actually specify whether it was North or South. The North is the one with beaches right?

 

 

An open letter to Barack Obama, President of the World

Lach Ryan

Obama President of the World

Dear Mr President Obama Congratulations on being President of the World for the 2nd time in a row. Bad luck however on not making Top 10 in Men's Health "Best Dude's with grey/or flecked grey hair". It was a tough year. There was Clooney as usual, but I saw Richard Gere was back in the list, that dude from Grey's Anatomy and even Clinton got a run. I know how badly you wanted it.

Anyway I thought I would write you a letter as I noticed in a picture on the internet that your White House has a letterbox. I also like the idea that some US Government Agency employee will probably have to scan this post to determine if I am a threat to National Security. I guess as President of the World, you would get lots of letters. Do you know Fred Savage? You must get to meet heaps of cool people!

I also like how you have your own real life set of Lego. You have a full plane, a helicopter, a special Police squad, dragon slayers and even your own farm. If I was you, I would be always swapping the pants of the people that worked for me because that's the best bit about Lego. In one scene a Policeman can be rescuing a cow from a dragon, then the next minute relaxing in a helicopter wearing red slacks.

I notice you always seem to wear suits. Once or twice I saw you wearing a chino pant and some hand gestures, but mostly it is suits. Do you go to Hong Kong and get them specially made? My friend Mick does. He's as big as a basketballer, so they don't make clothes for him in normal land. I think it’s funny that such a big man gets clothes made by such little men.

You like basketball huh? I guess you probably gave up an NBA career to pursue politics. I heard that the Harlem Globetrotters were running your social media campaign and also formed much of your fiscal policy. Do you use lots of basketball terminology in the Oval Office? Like ‘Hey Team, let’s take a time out on this Iran thing’ or ‘That’s a tech foul Hilary! A tech foul’ or ‘Boomshakalaka’ or ‘Rebook Pumps’? I bet you do. You’re the coolest President since Charlie Sheen’s Dad.

I like that you are a family man. Your wife Michelle is doing OK for a lady who’s an ‘Outback Summer’ (definitely over 40). You don't see much of your Mum, Oprah, on TV anymore though. Your Kids look like fun- do they have their own whale like in that movie ‘Free Willy’? If I was President of the World, I would give my kids a whale. My parents never let me have one, mostly because we lived inland but also because we already had two cars and some bikes in the carport.

Your full name is a bit weird! Barack Hussein Obama II; does that mean you are the second version? Are you the slimmer upgrade with bug fixes? What happened to the first Barack? Is he in a draw somewhere? I read that people used to call you Barry. My Dad’s uncle was called Barry. He used to own a swimming pool and spear fish kickboards after hours, whilst drinking cask wine in his underpants.

I also read that you are a Christian. Me too! Does God talk to you sometimes? Once in church I heard God telling me to become a physiotherapist. It was really quiet but clear. It turned out it was just my Mum prayer-bombing me. Do you ever prayer-bomb people? It’s when they are praying and you say stuff in a way that makes them think its God. Dick Cheney used to do it to your friend Mr Bush all the time.

Well good luck in running the world for the next four years. I think that if Aliens or Arnold Schwarzenegger are really true then you should tell everyone. I also think that you maybe you need to take a look at your homeland’s roads. When I was there, I saw lots of road crews fixing potholes. All over the same roads were other fixed potholes. Perhaps rather than just always fixing potholes, they could stop, rip the road up and lay it all down again. But I’m sure you have got more important things to consider than a new approach to roadwork. Let's just HOPE Fred Savage gets onto it or something.

Yours Truly,

Lach

 

Working Out How to Work Out

Lach Ryan

Gym Junkie

Eat less, move more. That seems to be the way to look good. If you need to be stronger do some push-ups, sit-ups and squats. That sounds like hard work doesn't it! Wouldn't it be easier if we could just outsource this effort?Someone to take away our insecurities and guilt? Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Gym. I have recently concluded that Gym's are much like belly buttons and we don't really need them. Both claim to assist your appearance and both will happily debit your account monthly, regardless if you've used them. Here's a tip- never give your bank details to your navel! The idea of working out at a gym can be confusing and scary. It doesn't need to be. Allow me to explain.

I say 'idea' because that is what it is for many people. They happily pay a monthly fee to a place they never visit, just like that year I bought a season pass to Werribee Zoo. I went once, but never again after I felt too anxious around the Giraffes. I still can't understand how their necks can support that weight without snapping.

Your average Gym is divided into three categories- the Ubers, the Machinists and the Sweatsuits. Most of us are Sweatsuits. Average people donning ridiculous combinations of  tight sports fibre garments with old promotional tee shirts, dirty runners and mismatched socks. In this uniform we sweat ourselves into contentment.We have 'exercised'! This process shelves any lingering guilt we may have about our lifestyle and dietary habits, and is our bit to upholding first world mortality rates.

The Ubers are those males who clog the gym floor space, bumping into each other like cattle being herded through a gate. They tend to have gelled their hair just for this outing, and develop close friendships with other Ubers. Often they will coordinate their schedules for example Tuesday session may be back and arms, Wednesday veins and chest and Thursday fingers and neck. You will notice a distinct lack of any focus on lower body, this is because an Uber does not deem leg muscles necessary. Often they will be disproportional small, due to neglected use much like a wheelchair inhabitant.

The Machinists are usually Women, gay or overweight Men.  Dress-code for this crowd is  pure Lycra  This is unfortunately true for the overweight men who resemble a front load washer full of hams, as they plod upon the treadmill. Don't try to get into a conversation with these types about the idiocy of running on a machine at cost in a gym, when the outdoor version is free and superior. They will rebut with well honed speeches about how they "like it better" or "can watch Deal or No Deal  on TV whilst doing it". These are the cash-cows of any Gym, always there, hence while they can clearly exploit the 20 min per machine maximum.

But it is not just the inhabitants of a Gym that can be intimidating. The environment and the elements that make it up can be just as strange. There are the mirrors everywhere that allow the boys-who-can-shave to admire a new vein as they try and curl more iron than Albania exports. There are the paper towel and spray disinfectant for members to discreetly wipe away the sweat version of a body outline left behind after a stretch session on the mats. There is enough sweat based DNA in your average gym that scientists could take a swab from a Swiss ball and genetically engineer the ideal physical embodiment of a human. The may want to head elsewhere to perfect personality and intellect, unless knowledge of protein shakes is a desirable trait.

There are those cards for predetermined programs, set out by some over enthusiastic trainer named Damon. Two weeks in and you are just happy to roll a few hand weights over ,while listening to a band featuring Dave Grohl (how many bands he has actually been in?!) fantasizing your own private sports movie montage. Those cards lay used around the edges of gym, discarded like losing betting ticket after the races. It once promised so much, but delivered so little.

Then there are the communal Gym showers.Nothing builds community than seeing the guy from the fruitshop's cucumber and mandarins after a post-spin class shower. You know the showers have been well disinfected, because even though you bring your own body soap from home you still come out smelling like a freshly cleaned hospital. The smell of the Gym itself has a strong whiff of ambition, mixed with a strange balance of confidence and despair and just a touch of perviness. The musk of money wasted. You go to a gym long enough and surely you'll end up smelling this way.

 

A Celebration of Cheese

Lach Ryan

Wheres the cheese

Some call it the coagulated lactate of the Gods. Asian cultures accuse Westerners of reeking of it. In Holland it is considered currency. Ever since Pier Tellermoncrete discovered the substance whilst hording a selection of Donkey milk in a soggy cloth under his bed in 634AD, people have been asking "Where's the Cheese?" Whatever way you look at it, Cheese is a big part of our everyday lives. Without Cheese we probably would never have gone to the moon, discovered penicillin or defeated the Nazi's. Look at any supermarket in the world, and certainly you'll find whole refrigerated rows dedicated to the stuff. Pizza cheese, sliced cheese, cubed cheese, fancy cheese, party cheese, cheese in sticks, cheese in tubes, space cheese, celebrity cheese, French cheese, Italian cheese, Dutch cheese, Tasmanian cheese and cheese from bags.

Cheese really is wonderful!

So why would someone not want to eat it? Yes, as shocking as it sounds there are people within the developed world who freely choose not to eat Cheese. Sure, there are far flung corners of the world that still haven't heard about the joys of shaving with Cheese or using it as an insect repellent  but to know all this  and still choose not to indulge? Questions must be asked! Lactose intolerant they call themselves. Well, they have certainly got the last part right. If we are to listen to English author Gilbert K. Chesterton they must all be poets!

He once quipped  "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." Poets may be silent, but true artists like The Mighty Boosh choose to elevate Cheese to its rightful place through their work. One need only look to seminal 'Cheese Song' from the Mod Wolves episode, to see beautiful rhyming verse celebrating the golden goo;

Cheese is a kind of meat, A tasty yellow beef. I milk it from my "teet", But I try to be descreat! Ohhhh CHEESE! Ohhhh CHEESE!

According to Wikipedia, Cheese is traditionally valued for it's portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. This makes it much like most American 80-somethings on those motorised carts in Florida. Unlike them, Cheese doesn't do too well in the sun but looks great in a two-piece swimsuit. It is said Cheese can be intimidating and that is understandable. Firstly the names like Cottage Cheese are misleading. Fact is it isn't made of cottages, but actually the milk from tents. Then there is the pairing with wine. However, Cheese can be enjoyed with many other liquids such as mythical waters, bears urine and some lighter versions of oils such as  extra virgin and engine.

Despite its high status today, Cheese-making hasn't always been so popular. Only 15 years ago, before the likes of Irish Cheese whizz Ricky St Martin revolutionized the scene, Cheese-making was deemed nerdy and dangerous. It was mostly practiced in garages and cardboard box shacks by gents who look nothing like today's chiseled  LA, cheese-sticks. These geeks gave the practice a bad name, overdosing on their own goods and having such terrible dreams (or Cheese-mares) that separate wings were developed in local psychiatric institutions to deal with the fall out. Nowadays, the whole practice has been polished to present something much cleaner. Which means we can go back for another slice, guilt free.

So, both Peter and I want to know....Where's the Cheese?

 

 

Halls Gap is for (Ice Cream) Lovers...and Kangaroos

Lach Ryan

Halls Gap MAP

Tradition, like an old person, is a dying thing. But just like an old person, that thing can be really great and involve ice cream. This week I passed on a large tradition from my childhood. I packed up Wifey and the Kid and headed for Halls Gap on our first holiday as a proper family unit. It scares me just  how much I now become my own father whenever packing the car. It's a stress, sport, calling and chore all rolled into one muttering bubble. We had 4 nights booked in at a holiday house in the village of Halls Gap, the central community of the Grampians region in southern Australia. Halls Gap is a small town of probably less than 500 full-time residents, not counting the Kangaroos. If Kangaroos were to be included in the official population then the town would instantly become the 4th largest regional metropolis in Australia. The town's Mayor is a Kangaroo along with one of its Police officers, and they can also be found enrolled at the local School. I have been coming to this spectacular place (amazingly picturesque in any weather) since I was a young kid. It has always been my favorite place and full of many great memories and past adventures. It was for that reason that I was quite keen to get my own little man up there and indoctrinated to its charms.

We arrived to above average weather and settled into our accommodation, only to open the living room blinds to a wrinkle of Pensioners (is that the collective noun?) doing Tai Chi. At least most of them had pants on. We then strolled into town past a couple of hundred Kangaroos, consuming more grass than a Queens of the Stone Age tour. It was here I introduced A-man to the first and most important tradition- the Ice Creamery. For years, this has been a place weary bushwalkers would stop and reward themselves for a days active output, instantly undoing that work. As a Kid, the 'Coolas Special' was the Nike of ice creams and I would Just Do It, anytime, anyday I could. Despite this particular day being only an hour off dinner, we needed to indulge. The 'Special' involves whipped cream and nuts atop of 2 generous scoops of you choice of ice cream, served in a homemade waffle cone drizzled in hot fudge. It is like a Sigur Ros song on your taste-buds.

On the way back, we also introduce the Kid to the Kangaroos. I had been talking them up for a month prior to the trip so he was well briefed on the pocketed marsupials. He loved them so much he wanted to hug them, and despite them being very tame, what probably would have eventuated would have been a kickboxing match that would make child fighters in Thailand look soft. These Kangaroos can be killer. When I was little, I was hand feeding them white bread (which is obviously a naturally occurring food easily in the wild), when one lashed out at me with sharp left hook nearly taking my eye. Not again. Their type may now be good enough for our Police force, but are still not going to be trusted with my kids. On the way home we passed the police station and Sgt. Hops was in the front yard. My wife remarked that he didn't look like a Policeman, just a normal Kangaroo. I pointed out he was most likely undercover at the time.

One of the charms of Halls Gap is that open fires are very much accepted. Nearly every backyard has a firepit, the place constantly is perfumed with campfire smoke and firewood seems to just grow on trees. A person could literally walk down the main street on fire, and no-one would flinch such is the acceptance of the naked flame. Except from Holiday House owners...

There we were, enjoying a cheeky late afternoon roarer, when we get a call from the rental company telling us "You can't have a fire. It needs to go out." How did they know? Did they have surveillance on the place? The Bush Telegraph had recently upgraded to the Bush Optic Fibre Wireless Network, and they were tipped off by fellow rental owner nearby. We then retreated inside to the mock gas log fire with our real middle class whiteousness.

A long Australian tradition is to make large, fibreglass replicas of local icons or representative inanimate objects to attract tourists.The Giant Koala is on the outskirts of town near the Highway.  The Koala is one of the better ones, if only for its lame appearance. How can you not love a 30ft sculptured Koala with painted white twigs for ear fur?!

We tried to walk everyday on a different trek. Most of these ended at waterfalls. At one we met an overly friendly Kookaburra, with a penchant for bananas and not making the noise I have been telling my child all of his kind make. We also indulged in the great tourist tradition of driving to a Lookout. Once there, we got out of our car and enjoyed some good old fashion finger pointing. The views themselves were brilliant. From that context, it made me realise how small scale my world, perspective and issues are. I imagine this impression would only be amplified for jockeys, midgets and men named Terry.

If you ever pass through, the local service station sells a local Beekeeper's Honey (his Bees, not 'his' honey...that would be weird) and it is phenomenal! As kids, we always bought a tub for the family every time we were in town. I took the little man and we stocked up, finding out that the same guy still supplies. That's the thing about Halls Gap. Nothing really changes. Maybe a bush fire or flood will force a change here. Sometime Government funded projects will introduce a new building there. But I reckon 80% of the shops are still run by the same people from 25years ago.

Tradition. It just doesn't die. Either do these Halls Gap types (Must be all the honey and ice cream). My love for the place wont ever die either.

 

Melbourne I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down.

Lach Ryan

Skyline_of_Sydney_

Dear Melbourne Something happened this week that I need you to know about.

I want you to know upfront that I've been feeling this way for a little while now. Things haven't been great between us lately. I'm seriously concerned about lifestyle costs, then you go and flare it all up with that whole "most livable city" stuff again!

I need a break.

A work thing came up and I had to get out of town. I didn't tell you too much about it  because I knew you'd overreact. But now I need too.

Last Wednesday I spent the night with Sydney.

I'm as surprised as you. The first few times we met I couldn't stand her. But this time something was different and we just kind of clicked. For starters she was more open and available, like she has an Airport Rail link! I know you keep talking about getting one, but I dont know how much longer I can wait?!

You should have seen the weather. I was a better man because of it. Sun! Remember that? In the early days things were more exciting and you used to show me sun all the time. Lately the best you can manage is a quick peak in between showers. Sydney is just so hot, and I have to confess...it warms my blood.

The other thing is the water. You know how I have a thing for civilizations built on substantial bodies of water. I can tell you that body of water is far more substantial than your murky bays. Her twin attractions were  glimmering and practically inviting me to visit them! How can you compete with that? Two world class icons in the Bridge and Opera House and all you can manage is the MCG. You know, not everyone cares about sport!

Her people are chirpy. She has friends from all over the world visiting. They pronounce her name right. Do you know how annoying it is to hang out with your uber hip friends, always looking for that next thing that is so uncool, it may actually be cool?  Anyway who are you to talk. You've been getting too close to fringe towns all over Regional Victoria. What about the Mornington Peninsula? You two are so close, you are almost together!

Look, I don't think this thing with Sydney is real. But what it showed me is that you are not the only place in the country with great lifestyle options. Sure she's out of my league, and two times more expensive! Running away to her won't solve anything. I know that. But I also know you and I need a break. I would hope things between us could change and go back to how they were in the early days. But I'm not sure. I mean look at us...I'm still basically sleeping on your couch!

I do love you. I don't want this to end. But that's not my choice...

As Beyonce once sang "If you like it, then you should have been more affordable for young families".

Yours always,

LR

 

The new New Zealand?

Lach Ryan

kiwi bird fruit

Australia is a popular choice for immigration. People have been coming here, welcomed or not, for thousands of years. Much is said of the so-called boat people. Much to my dissapointment, they aren't actually shaped like boats. If they were Boat-like in structure, then I feel both the Government and general public would be more open to them contributing to contemporary Australian culture or our Navy. But as they are normal human shaped, then Aussies arent keen on the 9,000+ of them sneaking onto our land each year. The 53,000+ New Zealanders though? Apparently that's OK. Well not in my immigration book, Bro. It feels like decent, hard working Aussies can no longer get jobs as Barista's, Arts Administrators or Outdoor Educators because of bloody Kiwi refugees.Why would someone need to be a refugee from a lush green land, perpetually covered in clouds and sheep? It sounds idyllic, like living in a kid's picture book. Apparently there is no work or culture there...or anything like the Gold Coast (See: the best thing on Australian TV- The GC) So Kiwis are forced to take advantage of a free trade agreement between our 2 countries. We get Crowded House's music and Russel Crowe, and they get to stay on this country's couch as long as they want.Well I say long enough! It's time to fold up the futon of friendship and send them back to where they came from!

I have many friends and colleagues who are Kiwi's (which on reflection is probably denying some deserved Aussies from those roles) but we cannot play favorites. If we don't round them up like the sheep they are, sooner or later there will be no national differentiation. Already, there are moves to acknowledge Melbourne as the West Island, and a certain part of Brunswick is now known as Little Auckland where you can buy bootleg Shihad CD's at any hour of the day.

The only solution is we finally absorb NZ as the 7th state it really is, before all 4.4 Million of Rugby loving, knitted pullover, jandal wearing  trans-Tasman terrors whale ride their way to Canberra and total social domination. Then we'll be wide open to the Penguins...

Faster, Higher, Stronger, Wronger

Lach Ryan

Nude Olympic

The Olympics are over and that means I can go back to being uninterested in some other form of current affairs. I didn't really viewed too much of the 2012 London experience. It wasn't Channel 9's fault, unlike other things in my life such as repeated Saturday evening exposures to "Australia's Funniest Home Videos" and a disliking of the name 'Karl'. I just didn't engage with 'The Games'. Australia has performed so badly, that our athletes are set to receive a welcome back home that'll make Vietnam veterans think they were given the red carpet. I have no doubt that in 10 years time, scores of bikie gangs will start to emerge, headed by the most bitter and bad ass Australia Institute of Sport alumni this land has ever seen.

Still, I remain unimpressed.What has struck me this time watching the games, and I know a few others have also observed similar, is how loose some of the definitions of 'Sport' are in the Olympic format. Australia's golden moments have been few. In fact there were two great moments- Stephanie Rice in her bathers and the performance of our Sailing team. The fact that we were participating in an event like Sailing, has tipped off a much needed debate. What is Sailing (and other 'Sports' like it) doing in the Olympics?

My basic argument is thus: if you can do said activity for fun, transport or hobby then it is not an Olympic Sport! Below is the shortlist for excluded 'Sports'.

  • Sailing- guys in Boat shoes are not elite athletes, just badly dressed. As interesting as watching an old guy gutting fish.
  • Equestrian- why stop at horses? People ride other things. Where are the camels?The elephants? Off with its head!
  • Cycling- The road and velodrome can stay, because I cannot argue against the force that is Lycra. But Mountain Bikes and BMX? Surely they are in there just so the teenage gymnasts have teenage boys to pash at the closing ceremony? Won't stop Kobe Bryant though.
  • Handball- Naming a game after a logical resting place for its featured equipment, does not make the game Olympic standard. I am pretty sure this isn't played outside of Estonia, much like the music of Russel Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunt.
  • Trampoline- surely this isn't serious? The only logical step from here then is to introduce the 20m Slippery Slide and Totem Tennis. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on this one as it is ripe for Aussie domination judging by the backyards of Australian suburbs.
  • Walking- I do this every day. Most of us do. When I heard that it was an Olympics sport when I was a kid, I thought "Why didn't someone tell me I can be a professional athlete doing this?! Training would be so easy!" Then I saw grown men travel 20-50km looking like they need to badly find a toilet.

Special mentions go to Tennis and Soccer. You have your own things. You don't need the Olympics. Leave. Make space for two events I would like to formally see all the nations compete in- Opening and Closing Ceremony's. The only way I can justify keeping the above mentioned sports is if we go back to the original spirit of the Olympics. The way the ancients intended it-Faster, Higher, Stronger...Nude. But we can still ditch Walking, that's just poo.

 

Batman and Jesus at the Movies

Lach Ryan

Batman Stencil

The thing I like about Batman is he, similar to Jesus, is the extra-ordinary in Human form. Most Superheroes rely on a back-story that is filled with tales of outerspace origin, or freak accidents giving them special abilities. Batman is just a perfected Human using his abilities and gifts for a greater way. As a kid, many hours after school were spent watching the cartoon series the current films are based off, and more hours spent on a Sunday learning the superhero stories of Jesus and his merry men. My observation? Batman gets the chicks, Jesus had the tricks. 'The Dark Knight Rises' is the final piece of the Christopher Nolan trilogy and a modern pop-cultural masterpiece. It is one of those rare films, like Lord of the Rings or Police Academy, where the third film is better than the original two before it. I couldn't help but see a few biblical thematic undertones.

In the apocalyptic Gotham setting we have themes of sacrifice, resurrection, hope and occupation. There is also the battle of good vs evil and the contrast of darkness and light.The film takes place in an environment that is almost End Times for the city of Gotham. Batman is 8 years gone, after his reputation died a sacrificial death for the greater good of the City. The true believers are now awaiting his second coming, hoping he'll deliver them justice and be their Savior from total destruction. True to form, the Dark Knight rises to overcome the controlling forces and free the people from their oppression... but not before a good ol' street fight.

The massive street fight scene looks like what would happen if the Macy's Street parade was choreographed by the maker of 'Braveheart'. Interestingly in this film, Batman does alot of his work in the daylight, which is strange for a Bat. He is helped out by a Cat-burgling woman, (who really deserves a moniker...maybe Stealing Lady?) who is both a help and a hindrance in his efforts. Also along for the ride is Commissioner Gordon who spends most of the film scowling, probably because his Bat Signal got smashed and doesn't work anymore. Just use a torch and some paper, Gordy!

Bane, who is probably one of the best and complex villains ever created, is a creature of the dark, coming up from the ground like a devil out of Hell. The physical stature of the guy, combined with his idealogical masterplan and Transformer voice-mask make for one memorable baddie. The shoes of Heath Ledger's Joker were big ones to fill; due to the intense portrayal of that character and also because the detail wardrobe went to, providing Ledger with actual Clown shoes. Bane delievers on all this. Batman, in continuing his Christlike role, comes from the heavens courtesy of a new Batjet. Obviously Bruce Wayne wasn't getting his value out of the carbon tax, so decided to up his footprint by introducing a jet as his primary mode of transport. I suppose sustainable Batman-on-a-bike wouldn't really work. This film does though.

There has been alot of extra stuff going on around this film, in light of the shootings in Colorado, but I think it is important to remember why people go to the cinema. It's not a place to be feared. It is a place for escapism, where a few pure hours of entertainment can be enjoyed taking in films like 'The Dark Knight Rises'.

It's a place to stretch our minds, to stuff ourselves with overpriced stale, salty corn, to pash with our teenage crush or just cop a casual feel, to laugh and cry and think. Today I went into this film with great expectations and I wasn't dissapointed. I left entertained with a handful of theological musings...but not once did I feel unsafe, and that's just the way it should be.

Fully Sick

Lach Ryan

nurse

The last few weeks have seen pestilence and disease strike my house, hosting more viruses than a teenage boy's laptop. It was almost biblical in scale... if God outsourced his work offshore and cut budgets to the Department of Plagues, Disasters and Lost Things.

All three of Team Ryan (we have warm up tracksuits!) has been hit with at least 2 different forms of virus. I started battling Man-Flu for 10 days before finally succumbing to its charms. I had  returned to work for 1 day, when that very night I was regurgitating like a mother bird feeding its adopted bucket-child.Wifey also has been quite ill, joining me in the early hours of Saturday morning for a romantic session of synchronized upchuck. The wedding vows do tell you '...in sickness and in health'. I reckon though, you won't know the depth of your love until you've gazed upon your beloved whilst tasting that nights dinner for the second time.

As in all good zombie virus/killer plague movies, there is always a host. We have isolated it down to the cute ball of contagion that is our 18mnth old. A-man has been alphabetically working his way through the Big Book of Viruses this last 3 months, being courteous enough to every now and then share them with Mum and Dad. One particular bad fortnight started with an ear infection morphing into conjunctivitis followed by a gastro so violent, even sea sickness tablets would feel queezy. So a few sleepless nights, a couple of changes of clothes and a trip to the hospital has seen us well and truly over being sick. Even as I type tonight, I have a nagging head cold and Wifey is nursing an unsettled stomach.

Beside the obvious benefits of being sick ,the legitimate days off work and easily dropped spare kilos; being sick sux. It makes you realize how much you take your health, and that of those around you, for granted. Luckily we live in a country where government funded Healthcare allows us to book a doctors appointment for the following few days, and we only have to wait 3 hour past our scheduled time to see some bulk-billing, near-death,semi-retired quack refuse to prescribe us medication! I fear this winter is getting the better of most of us. The doctor says the flu season has been quite bad, and many people cant quite shake whatever this is.

Perhaps this post will go down as anecdotal evidence of the first signs of outbreak of the new mega-virus, attributed to babies. No, make that babies-in-daycare! Is there any other type of baby these days anyway? Aren't we are all just outsourcing the upbringing of our children so we can afford to pay for that house they live in 5 nights a week and 2 full days on the weekend?! These daycare centers specialize in two things; supervising of children whilst parents uphold the economy and creating biological viral weapons that would make Sadam look like a pastry chef. These Daycare epicenters will be where this Baby-Flu eminates from, before merging with their Father's Man-Flu and creating the deadly Man-Child Flu strain. Symptoms of the disease will be patchy facial hair, disproportionately large fingers and a desire to dress only in singlets.

If it crosses over to animals...God help us!

The 10 Differences between 20 and 30

Lach Ryan

2 men

This year I turned 30, saying farewell to my Twenty's. Many of my contemporaries are freaking out about their impending transition to Three & Zero. Instead of planning parties, they are booking tickets out of the country in the belief that reality doesn't cross datelines.  So I thought it best if I reflected on what I know now at the end of that wonder decade, that I didn't at the start...hopefully it may save someone a shock in a few years!

  1.  Accommodation: you still want your own place, but your motivations are different. Back then it was because your housemates (Grandparents) were not down with your flow, so you needed to roll. Now you’re all about getting some of your own sweet mortgage action, instead of supporting your landlords. Wouldn't be nice to live in a place where you could either choose to fix the hole in the wall or just punch one in? Depending on how the mood struck you? This would be fine if you owned, but those uptight, negative gearing Baby Boomer land-overlords won’t have either!
  2. Dreams: back then it was about ‘When and if’, now sadly it’s just about ‘If’. People tell you time is on your side when you are young, what they fail to tell you is Reality is sitting on your other side, waiting to introduces itself. This happens at about 30 just as you realise that time was on your side when you were younger. So try things, fail, try again and fail some more. Just know that by the time you are about three and zero, you’ll be wanting to have some idea of what you are doing. If you haven’t already succeeded, it won’t be about when you do, as much as "if I do".
  3. Indulgence: Chocolate, Alcohol and Sleep deprivation sounds like the diet of 23year old Account Exec or Willy Wonka running interrogations in Afghanistan. These were the spoils of youth, able to be indulged on any given night only to spring forward like a young gazelle to greet the new morning. If you try that on at 30, you’ll end up the next morning moaning like a bloated camel wanting to be put down by your Sheikh.
  4. Food: It could be just me, but recently food has become boring. No tastes really excite me. I suspect that is because I have been eating my way through life for too long. It would seem 30 is a great time to try an eating disorder for the first time or take up cannibalism (which in its own way, is a different kind of eating disorder).
  5. Employment: See also #2. A younger version of me saw employment as a temporary state, that would one day be shrugged permanently and deliberately. The older version of me now understands that work is permanent, like tattoo eyebrows and an affection for Ska music. You are more than likely going to have to do it until you die, or thereabouts. The trick is find something you actually don’t mind doing too much.
  6. Style: I remember shopping for a killer new t shirt whenever a new social/formal occasion arrived. Once you are pushing 30, you need the sophistication of a button up shirt. The button up is a garment that looks like it has had a university education and has seen the world, the only problem is you always need to iron it. It also require you to upgrade all other items of clothing around it, to the point that by the time you are 43years old you find yourself wearing full corduroy(including underwear) and becoming camouflaged against a variety of upholstery surfaces. 30 is the time to question that earring and those skinny jeans. Also if you don't have a tattoo by now- keep it that way.
  7. Health: Fitness becomes more of a priority once you leave the magic of Twentyville.  Somewhere that 6 pack lost a few cans and is now looking like a 3 1/2 pack. A focus on keeping it under control will stop you entering the Fat Elvis period,crooning to your former-self  nightly at the Regrets Casino..
  8. Relationships: You should always be open to meeting new people, just realise that by this stage of life most of them are a bit crap. In their 20's they would have seemed aspirational, independant and energetic. With the exception of those that did move forward, they are now more likely to be resentful, lonely and depressed. Chances are you will be too, so you'll have lots in common making it easier to connect.
  9. Money: The good news is that you should have much more money in your 30's than you did when you were 20. You've gone to uni, worked for a few years now and even saved. The bad news is there is more to spend it on. Loans, Investments, Insurance, Children/Dogs/illegitimate Children, Weddings, Divorces, Apple Products, Button Up Shirts and tickets to Band Reunion tours (that happens too). If this is a problem for you, you can always go play in Australia's financial sandpit- the mining industry, where people are paid six figure salary's to park real-life Transformers.
  10. Elders: I think once you pass the age of 28, your realise everyone seems to stay about that age for the rest of their life. Their face and body may decay to the extent its offensive visually, but mentally they'll be partying like their 19+9. So even though you may think 30 is the end of it all, take heart (yours is still working fine) at least you are not 40. You still have another ten years to turn it all around, kick those goals and be ready to embrace the years when lycra suddenly has more uses than just exercise.

I've NEVER seen Star Wars

Lach Ryan

Star Wars

I've never seen Star Wars. That statement tends to shock people more than such sentences as;  "I've only killed deliberately once" or " For Passover, I'm making pork!" But it is true. I have never watched the film Star Wars in its entirety. I've seen snippets, but that's not the whole thing is it? Like just because once in Year 9 I saw Kelly Donaldson's boob pop out at the pool; I never would claim I saw her nude.

Currently I am undertaking a course in Screenwriting, and this film seems to the basis for 87.34% of examples and references. When I pointed out to my insightful lecturer, Mr Tim Ferguson, that I hadn't seen the film, he assumed I was joking. It wasn't until my insistently truthful hand stayed raised in response to his question, that he started to realize the impact of my gesture. The man was obviously passionate about the virtues of the movie, and the look of hurt and disbelief reminded me of the face of the semi-trailer truck driver I sent down our town's only one-way road, when I was 12.

Unlike that truck driver, Ferguson quickly maneuvered around my social roadblock and began evangelizing on the wonderful adventures of 2 gay robots, a kid in a karate uniform with a giant laser pointer, Space Indiana Jones and a creature that looks like Yao Ming if he were Teenwolf.  Darth Vader was is in there too. I recognised his voice from countless lame Stand Up bits I have seen over the years. I also recognised for the same reason, that little green Mr Miyagi charachter Yoga.

I understand this epic trilogy (that spawned a trilogy, that spawned countless toys, that spawned countless nerds that failed to spawn anything because they couldn't find a mate) has its appeal. The story of intergalactic civil war, inter-family dynamics and space lasers could be enticing for some, just not me.

I suspect is has dated somewhat from its original 1977 release. These were the days when budgets didn't extend to professionally trained extras, so right from the start I was never intimidated by the ramshackle Stormtroopers in painted white gumboots. The aesthetic of the film just doesn't speak to any sense of nostalgia for me. Instead it represents a stereotype I have not much interest in. You know that saying "The biggest problem with Christianity is Christians" well the same can be said of Star Wars fans. These people act as if no film has been made since, similar to the way your friend's Dad talks about the Beatles/Stones in relation to music. The fact they are so evangelical is frankly scary and off-putting.

These religious parralels are not  exaggerated. In the 2006 Australian Census, 55,000 people claimed Jedi as their primary religion. I always thought Scientology was the religion of nerds, with all the talk of numbers and spaceships, but I was wrong. I think that if you are going to make a set of beliefs of on a piece of popular cinema, at least base it on something good. Back to the Futurists?

Jedism, like all major religons, will need to engage the youth with its major text if it is to survive. I was not the only person in the class to have not seen Star Wars. Tellingly, two chicks (one 15 and another 20-something) had both not seen it. They like me, must have been too busy doing life...or watching Point Break.  Have you seen that?!

 

Knowing your Writes with Blackframes

Lach Ryan

LAXY
Have your heard the one about the ex-Stand Up Comedian who now just Blogs?
Ooohhh you have?
That's awkward. Can I interest you in a timeshare in a Cow then?
Hello and Welcome to Blackframes.com.au.
It's been said of Comedians that those who can; do, and those that can't end up with successful career in the Media. Sometimes some of them just prefer to write instead. That's me. I have been doing this for just on 3 years now and have collated a selection of my favorite pieces to give you an idea of what this blog tends to be about...
  1. Two things I do often;write and eat. I've been known to get a tad intense on a few products my local Coles stock. Eat my words.
  2. I realised recently that our physical make-up, more often our weaknesses, define us. I decided to celebrate them with three Ode's here, here and here.
  3. Travel is a luxury few can afford...so I go on the company dollar, real close to home and sometimes just in my mind.
  4. Recentley I learnt how to replicate myself. This gives me the cool title of 'Dad' and a licence to tuck my socks into my pants (which I havent exercised yet).
  5. Much of life doesn't make sense...so why should I? I like the stupid, surrealnonsensical and silly.

For now,

Lach

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