Saturday, November 14, 2009


Eminem's song 3am deals with the darker side of life. At his very hours I am also dealing some of the more troubling aspects of my personality.

Over the previous three weeks, as I become more adept at freelance work and the inclination to wear a suit and tie in an office job slowly but unquestionably dissipates, my body clock is adopting a new, rigorous and unsocial rhythm, allowing me to think most lucidly and work more productively at hours which are simply, well, wrong.

I hesitate to say this without a medical opinion, but I feel insomnia is becoming a new partner in my life. Since I've always been an early-to-bed, early-to-rise-and-consume-lot-of-caffeine kinda guy, the frustration I feel at remaining alert at deeply nocturnal hours is real, disturbing, and hopefully not demonstrable of new life-long habits.

My need to be awake during the same hours the sun's rays hit my side of the planet has been a constant, unmoving feature of my life until now. Apart from a brief stint as thesis-writing student way back before Twitter and non-carbonated energy soft drinks, sleep has always come to me at the same time at the late night news. In fact, it's because of Channel 9 programming that my mother was able to establish my sleep routines as an adolescent.

Where most youth railed against their parents at the thought of getting under the bedsheets when the sun was still on day shift, Australian television programs, and more likely, the personalities fronting them, induce so much rage within me that the safest outcome was to remove me from the living room, out of harm's way and far from the mental pollution emanating from the screen. A Current Affair is like Stilnox, though perhaps a poor analogy as I became exhausted after first shouting insults at the screen.

Eminem likens, or imagines himself a serial killer in his 3am track. I often imagine myself a serial killer when watching Australian television, whether at 3am or not. It's just that is actually is that time at the moment, I'm not watching television, but I still want to main a TV presenter.

Life's funny like that. I can't sleep, not a televsion in sight, and yet I still want to kill a TV presenter. Insomnia is not going to be a benficial addition to my lifestyle.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guidos: Men who like to groom and preen.

You Tube is both a rich source of information and provider of humour.

Today, after half an hour of diversion surfing, I stumbled across this. The creature in the video is known as a guido, latterly applied to ridiculous, muscle-bound, steroid-munching people with a penchant for tight-fitting clothing and a culture based around the fierce application of artificial tanning solution, hair gel and hair removal cream. Apparently the species predominates in New Jersey, USA.

I've just come back from the beach. I love living at the beach, provided I don't spend too much time there at the weekend. Bad thoughts ensue.

You see, my neighbourhood increasingly attracts an Australian incarnation of the American guido, yet the phenomenon stills lacks a name. If a decade ago this look was found almost exclusively within the confines of the Australian-Lebanese community, today the obsession with deformed musculature, eyebrow tweezers and latent homosexuality is reaching epidemic levels and possesses little in common with it's Middle East heritage, as can now be witnessed after spreading successfully though citizens of Anglo-Celtic and Mediterranean origin. There is a growing number of eyewitness report that suggest we'll soon see this trend emerging in males Australians with East-Asian heritage. The Indian community remains immune to further mutations of this phenomenon since guido-ism appears deeply ingrained in middle class Indian society for a number of decades. Just look at any male Bollywood star.

I have to ask. What is it that makes a heterosexual make devote so much of his time to the pursuit of vanity? Why is it that males have bought into the formerly and specifically female domain of wanton self-adulation? Since the trend of spending hours in front of the mirror with pomades, unguents and ointments has previously been the realm of the stupider of the female species, why is it that males are happily risking the jeers and chiding of people like myself, wallowing in a pool of cleansing mudpacks and exfoliating dermabrasions?

My beach is being ruined by these people; walking themselves, their colossal biceps and stretched-Lycra white singlets up and down the promenade, taking up the space that should rightly be reserved for normal people.

And what is it with these tattoos? I have a theory that, in celebration of his ten and twelfth birthday, every one of the species receives respectively, a hair trimmer set permanently at number one, and a gift voucher redeemable for a hideous ink stain based loosely on 70s wallpaper designs? What is with all those swirls?

Frankly, I'm too old for this. I want the families, the dogs and the elderly people in budgie smugglers back. It's time to reclaim the sand and surf, and ask these people gently to get back into their modified cars and drive out West.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Madness sets in.

The picture to your left has nothing to do with this blog entry. Nevertheless, if you remove the inane smile, replacing it with the expression of a man filled with a special, growing and increasing hatred of celebrities, then you'll form a better image of who I really am.

Nothing special happened today. However, I did spent twelve hours in front of a computer and drink eight cups of percolated coffee.

Since I made the decision to abandon the business world, throw in the suit and tie and lead the adventure-filled life of a footloose, full-time, freelance sub-editor, I've noticed two distinct phenomena develop.

First, due to the increased amounts of proofreading, reading, editing, writing and periods of time spent staring at on-line and hard-copy text, my blog posts have become more numerous, the writing more voluminous, the spelling and grammar more prone to error. My cafeine intake has soared.

The greater the time devoted to reading, writing and other assorted verbs that describe dealing with masses of text, it is with less care and precision that I apply the same collection of verbs to my own work. This may be the opportune moment to score a syndicated blog with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Aside from the appearance of inaccuracies in my own writing, the second phenomena I've become acutely aware of is money. I have never had less of it in my life, and quite frankly, I've never slept better. If no money lessens my stress levels, then I hope my landlady is excited about this as I am. She often appears anguished.

On another note, I've thought more about my Death to Celebrities game/variety show. It's coming along well and I think I've just about completed the pitch. Australia alone will be able to supply an almost bottomless pit of talentless garbage for the entire first season. I'm planning on a thematic approach for individual episodes. Something along the lines of 'Episode 1: Pointless, unintelligent over made-up slags on commercial TV','Episode 2: Female celebrities whose voice makes me want to remove their larynx', 'Episode 3: People who either are or remind me of Bert Newton and Daryl Somers', and so forth. I have a funny feeling this is a program that might yet be syndicated across the globe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens, Blue Mountains

Today the lovely Simone and I drove some way from her town of Lawson in the Blue Mountains to visit the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens. The site is about 1000m above sea level and was established in 1972 to house cooler climate species that would struggle to survive the the warmer climes of the Royal Botanic Gardens situated just east of the city's central business district.

Mount Tomah is just off the Darling Causeway, that leads from the Great Western Highway and we from each side of the road, between the ever-present eucalyptus, we could peer into magnificent ravines, down sheer cliff faces, perhaps viewing areas of the world where human feet have never yet stood.

Though we spent upwards of three hours among the various themed gardens, we still didn't have enough time to amble about the adjoining Lady Nancy Fairfax Gardens, supposedly one of the most easily accessible rain forest walks in the Blue Mountains. That'll be for next time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A time to rant

Cheers for that beer...

Yeah, well, anyway, I'm sick of this left wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the first world. All this made-up nonsense about climate change. Nothing. The only rising temperature around here is my own after listening to that glib and smug self-righteous claptrap from the media-mafia that is the ABC. A bunch of namby-pamby eastern-suburb dwellers that wouldn't know a day's hard work if they came across it. I've just about had it up to here with those chardonnay-swilling Gucci sunglass-wearing pack of losers in their Muslim-loving neighbourhoods. Christ, woman. Get me another beer.

Anyway, like I'm saying, the whole country's going down the toilet, and it's not just the towel-heads dragging us down proverbial S-bend. These heathen types with their elephant-headed Gods and cooking that stinks to high heaven. You know, my mate Jacko, he's got a bunch of them living next door, slaughtering sheep all hours of the day and night and rolling about on rugs fifteen times a day, bobbing their heads up and down and wailing some unfathomable drivel. Not only that, there's thirty of them to a single room, sleeping in their own filth, coming and going and all hours and then complaining to the government every time they don't get exactly what they want. Well, I ask you, where's the justice? Max tripped over an uncovered drain hole in the middle of the street last year and the way home from the pub. And d'ya think he got a cent in compo? Nothing. These bloody so-called international students come pouring in through our borders, filling up our schools and universities and keeping our own out, and then whingeing about everything; so much so that Rudd, the gutless pollie that he is, goes begging to India's number one towel-head to be forgiveness.

Still, like the wife says, without them we'd still be on meat and three veg five nights a week. I'm quite ok with them running the odd curry diner, but I'm not happy having a doctor who acts like he knows more about the side-effects of binge-drinking than I do - especially when Ekim, well, that's what he says he's called - has never touched a drop in his life. What kind of man is that, I ask myself?

So, like I was saying, Maz tripped up and injured himself and then smacked his Chinko wife about about a bit when he got home. The ungrateful visa-thief that she is packed her bags and knicked off at the next opportunity. and now Max's in front of some judge who wants him to pay compo to her, plus go on some anger management course for the next three months. no doubt a course sin by some do-gooder homo who's got nothing better to do than sit in a room full of blokes and stare. So, no, I'm not happy about current immigration levels. But what can you do. I don't even bother voting anymore 'cos my candidates got a Greek name and you know what that means. I'm over politics, makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. When my folks arrived in in '45 I can tell you they understood what it meant to do hard work and they knew how to assimilate and learn the language. Not that they needed to 'cos of course English had been imported earlier which was just luck, I suppose. They would've learnt Swahili if they'd needed to - it's not the point of my argument anyway.

Mate. Yeah, I'd love anouther schooner. This country has well and truly gone to the dogs. Me own son Nick's hanging about with mates called Ahmet and Bilal and his girl's called Malika. Why the hell can't he just find a nice type called Narelle or Rachelle or Sharon or something who knows how to cook a lamb roast and whose parents drive around in a Ford Falcon?

Monday, November 09, 2009

I consumed too much coffee today. I feel kinda... anxious

As I often do when the world gets me down and I need to stay inside for fear of taking an axe to humanity, I browsed through some of my photos and came across this little number taken in Uchisar, a natural rock citadel and the highest point in the Cappadocia valley.

However, I'm come to the conclusion that I am defintely lacking in dress sense. I don't care for fashion, and would in fact support the Taliban is they collectively rid the world of Karl Lagerfeld and everyone within his two-degrees of separation sphere - can you just imagine a world without vacuous fashion publications and the stupid people who buy them? - though my problem here is that I simply don't even know how to dress myself.

Red hat, maroon shirt, green shorts and orange trainers. This outfit probably attracts a fine in Milan.

I loved Cappadocia.

On another note, I've thought up a new reality show in which the celebrity contestants are actually not eliminated from the program until they are killed. The public will help eliminate and kill the celebrities. I'm just working through the finer details of the project but am planning to send the pitch off to the larger channels soon. I'm thinking Unspeakable Celebrity Torture (a working title) will fill the timeslot after Rove, which I imagine will soon be removed from our screen as people grow to understand that he's just not funny, even if he does constantly chuckle at his own jokes.

Lots of coffee today. Might lay off it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cihangir, Istanbul

“But you only just bought milk yesterday.”

“Yeah, I’m eating a lot of cereal at the moment.”

My neighbour Perihan Hanim was disconcerted. “That’s why you’re so thin. And single. You need to eat a proper Turkish breakfast.”

Now, I shouldn’t read much into my daily neighbourly chatter with the apartment block doyen, who tutted and smiled wryly in equal measure as I wedged open the building’s security door. George, the apartment building’s dominant male feline, lounged languidly on Perihan’s kitchen window ledge, eyeing me with suspicion. No doubt he’d later climb the balconies and terrorise my cats into forgoing a portion of the sustenance I’d dished out for them.

“Eat more sucuk. You’re too thin.” I promised Perihan that I’d increase my mid-morning intake of sausage and even include boiled egg, hopefully easing her concern about my inadequate dietary habits and too-svelte frame.

As I reached the second floor common deck I realised I’d forgotten to call in my cats from the neighbouring mosque garden. Awoken from their afternoon slumber among the graves in the small cemetery, Shish and Kebap sneaked furtively through the gate and made their way from the grounds of Cihangir mosque, distancing themselves from George’s filthy temper and violent claws.

The Cihangir mosque have given its name to one of Istanbul’s most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, possessing a hazy boundary incorporating all or parts of the Purtelaş Hasan Efendi, Kurtuluş, Gümüşssuyu and Çukurcuma neighbourhoods. The existing building was constructed in the mid-19th century after the original structure went up in flames. Three centuries previously, the area was a forested hunting ground belonging to the Ottoman royalty during the time of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Suleiman, attributed magnificent in the West, he was known to Turks as Suleiman the Lawmaker. Capturing vast swathes of land that increased both the length and breadth of the Ottoman boundaries, the Sultan was responsible for the empire’s golden age, enacting fiscal legislation and instituting social and educational reform. The skyline of minarets and domes visible from Cihangir mosque’s garden is due to Suleiman; a patron of culture and the arts, it was he who gave the architect Sinan a blank slate on which to create the most wondrous of Ottoman edifices.

Twenty-first century women’s’ magazine writers would have loved Suleiman, or more specifically, the sultan’s wife Hurrem Sultan, since by all accounts she was quite taken to spreading malicious, unfounded gossip and thrived on intrigue, stratagem, plots and the peddling of influence, rather similar to the sluttish whores who today riddle the women’s publication industry the world over.

So Suleiman married a girl from the school of hard knocks, some pointless Ruthenian tart who had managed to get herself into the harem and succeeded in capturing the lingering glances of the Ottoman monarch. Like Beckham after him, Suleiman failed to realise his paramour was a nothing more than a talentless wench who looked good in clothes, and he married her. Roxelana, as this devious, treacherous slapper is known to history, became the envy of the social A-set and possibly set the standard for unintelligent women the world over for centuries to come, ensuring that six hundred years later that we live in a society that celebrates back-stabbing and self-pimping on a scale not seen since the mythical times of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Roxelana was not wife numero uno. However, she did give birth to three of the sultan’s four male progeny who managed to survive well into adulthood. This of course fuelled her desire to underwrite her bloodline’s future by placing one of her offspring on the throne. Since succession in the Ottoman Empire was by anyone’s reckoning a tale of bloodlust and stupidity that allows us to see Jackie Collin’s novels in the tradition of Zola, Roxelana had her work cut out.

A wannabe sultan needed to ensure his other brothers died quickly, silently, and in the most barbaric way possible. Daughters of a sultan had no need to fret, since it would be centuries before women counted as anything more than chattels. Any male within a sniff of the royal seat risked garrotte or death by strangulation.

Mustafa was being primed as inheritor to the Empire, and was (unluckily for him) the only son not of Roxelana’s blood. Her lads, Selim, Beyazid and Jihangir, were somewhere in line, living life with the incrementally increasing fear that, sooner or later, Mustafa would send in the eunuchs for a fatal demonstration of knot-tying.

History is replete with tales of deceit and treachery, not unlike conversations in the marquee on race cup day. Roxelana swept into action. Mustafa was not to become sutlan. Centuries-old dirt informs us that she conspired with the Pasha to work her evil, leaving the Sultan festering over a story that Mustafa was looking to become sovereign of the imperial house a little earlier than Suleiman would have liked.

In accordance with tradition, and like so many people so close and yet so far from absolute power, Mustafa managed to get himself strangled by the aforesaid eunuchs at some point in time, clearing the way for a son of Roxelana to become sultan. She must have breathed a massive sigh of well-deserved relief.

It is said that Jihangir died of grief over the loss of his half-brother, though being in absolute fear of your life probably didn’t do much for his blood pressure and sleep patterns. When Jihangir passed away two months aftr Mustafa's murder, Roxelana probably knew she was in some way directly responsible for her own son’s death too. But just like the senior editors of women’s magazines, the Sultan's worse half also felt she was in no way accountable for the grief and destruction she wreaked upon others. That’s life in the public sphere. Build a bridge. Get over it. Move on. Whatever.

Entirely unsure what Suleiman felt, losing two sons in the times it takes to publish eight editions of New Idea is undoubtedly tragic, so like all good patriarchs possessing the will, the means and the ability to get whatever he wanted under pain of death. he commissioned an edifice. Sinan, the architect whose Armenian heritage seems lost today on the Republic, designed a wooden mosque to sit on a hill slope in the hunting grounds, affording a view over the Bosphorus that takes in from the Prince’s Islands to Seraglio Point.

Today the forest and wooden mosque have been replaced with Istanbul’s love of concrete. Jihangir mosque, no longer among trees, became Cihangir under Ataturk’s language reforms and namesake of the neighbourhood. Cihangir is the heart of Istanbul, and my cats love it.

Me too. Though naturally, all these centuries after Roxelana, I’m still wary of women who appear to know too much. My inner voice tells me that Perihan is acquainted with my comings and goings at every hour of the day and night. It’s not just my milk purchases that capture her attention. Since those who ignore history are bound to repeat it, I tread carefully with my neighbour. You just never know what a Turkish woman might be planning. So I buy her chocolate often, to stay in favour.