Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poor, poor students. Wait what?

As a student, I was quite interested in this article in the Courier Mail.

I've heard this story a few times before. In fact, I do recall a story on A Current Affair (my favourite news program) a few years back about a girl who had to support herself by being a part-time clown at children's birthday parties while studying. It got to the point where she had to miss classes for work. That's pretty terrible, isn't it? Working to go to uni, but not actually going to uni.

The kid in this story lives off the Student Allowance and had to eat bread and rice for eight months. How horrible! (but at least he was getting a lot of fibre in his diet).
At first I was quite sympathetic to the plights of these poor, poor students, but then I thought, "Wait, I'm a poor, poor student, and I'm pretty sure I had a stir fry for dinner last night and polished it off with a block of chocolate."

Before I moved out of home, I was scared that juggling enough work to pay for rent and food as well as pass a journalism degree would not work. But it did. Last semester, I worked, was able to pay rent, phone bills, taekwondo fees, petrol, groceries and the odd drinking adventure. I also passed my subjects and was quite pleased with my marks. My rent isn't exactly cheap either.
There's a student in the article who had a 16 hour per week job and ended up having to skip classes. This somehow evokes little sympathy on my part, as I work over 20 hours a week and can easily still attend my classes.

At first I thought, "Maybe it's because I'm doing a bludgy-arse journalism degree while majoring in creative writing." But then I thought of my good friend Jasmine, who is a nursing student. She lives out of home, has a car, works two part-time jobs and mainly gets 6s and 7s for her subjects.

I'd love to know why some of these students have to live off student allowance and can't even get one shift for a part-time job a week, or how some of these students work so much and can't study. I'm not the smartest kid in town, but surely if I and other people can do it, there's no reason why a journalism student should be living off bread and rice. Time and money management go a long way. And it's really not as hard as some students make it out to be.

I know some students pay their own tuition fees and so I think, well, that is pretty sad that they're not earning enough to live. If that is the case of the students in this article, I am judging quite harshly. But if they are Commonwealth-supported, like me and many other students are, then my views still stand.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Full Moon OR How I earnt $10 of Hatred

I’m posting in my blog at 4am to tell all of you out there in blog-land about my worst shift at work ever.
As interesting as my workplace is, I don’t like posting about it too much. I’m sure everybody’s sick to death of reading about work rants in blogs as it is anyway. Anyway, I usually have a good time at work. Some day, I plan on writing a book about my misadventures, the history and culture that goes on at the pub I work at because it truly is fascinating. But that won’t be until I have well and truly stopped working there and when I figure out how to publish the most interesting bits without getting sued or arrested.

Anyway. The worst shift at work ever. I figure that posting about this and cracking a few jokes would be much better catharsis than bursting into tears and wailing “I JUST HAD THE WORST NIGHT EVER” to Dan (who is asleep).

My manager, Nathan, mentioned that it was the full moon and people had been a bit weird lately. He wasn’t wrong. The night started off consistently busy – enough to be constantly serving, but not so insanely busy that my head would explode. However, I always take this as a sign that it will just get busier and I’ll end up being completely exhausted quickly.

I was right. It got progressively more insane as the glasses piled up and I bounced back and forth between the bar, the bottleshop and the gambling facilities. Damn understaffed-ness.

At around nine or so, we got a group of drunk men. Fantastic. After they downed some shots of Drambuie – which is a very disappointing way to drink a liquor that should be savoured – they proceeded to piss me off by stealing a beer. I had began to pour the drink then realised the keg needed to be changed. When I came back, Drunk Dude #1 was holding it and saying that he had no idea where it went.
I like to think that I have a lot of patience. But who needs patience when you have a security guard?
“Can I have rum and coke?” asked Drunk Dude #2.
“Hell no, I’m kicking you out,” I said, as I brought the security guard over to them.
“I hope you feel proud,” slurred Drunk Dude #3 self-righteously.
“I hope you do too!” I replied as he was manhandled out the door.

A co-worker of mine, who wasn’t on shift that night, brought her ex-boyfriend and his friend over for a drink. Said co-worker of mine is lovely. Her ex-boyfriend, however, needs to die a slow and painful death.
He whistled to get my attention. After I jokingly told him that he’d mistaken me for a puppy, he said, “Puppies don’t respond when you whistle. But dogs do.” His friend high-fived him. I fantasised about punching them both in the face. I don’t even care if my co-worker reads this. Actually, I hope she does. Dude, he’s a douche and has a bad moustache. Stop hanging around with him. And by “stop hanging around with him”, I mean disembowel him.

Yep, my patience was not only gone, but it had hopped on a spaceship headed straight towards the sun, never to return again.

“Can I have a Jack Daniels and Coke?” asked Burly Dude.
“Sure,” said I, and poured it.
A millilitre of Jack Daniels splashed out of the glass as I poured it. “Look, you spilt it!” said Burly Dude. “Could you give me a bit more?”
“Um, no,” I said. “But you can pay me $6 for that.”
When he did this the third time, as though sincerely believing that I would give this extremely rude man more liquor, my response was different: “Shut the fuck up and pay for your goddamn drink.”

The co-worker who was rostered on with me tonight was complaining about a fellow who was very rudely yelling “GIVE ME SHOTS” at her while she was hurriedly serving other people. To relieve her, I went over to give this man his shots. “Hey babe!” he screeched after I handed him his change. “You gave me the wrong change.”
“Oh, sorry,” I said, giving him the right money. “By the way, if you call me babe again, I will break your spine.

It was 1am and everybody was pissed. “Be careful about intoxication,” warned my manager.
A group of rowdy men wandered up to the bar and took about 10 minutes to slur that they wanted a beer. “You’re all cut off!” I said diplomatically.
I actually said the professional thing, which was, “Because you’ve had too much to drink. But you can have a glass of water.”
“Oh! Okay,” said one.
Apparently, one of the men in the group was quite offended and decided to accost me as I was stacking up chairs at the end of the night.
“I’m talking to you!” he snapped at me suddenly.
“I said hello.”
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
The irony of this is that out of all the people I swore at tonight, I didn’t actually swear at him.
“I didn’t hear you. God!”
Hell, this dude was beyond wasted, and having fun with wasted people is hilarious. “My mighty heart is breaking!” I cried, swooning dramatically.
“YEAH… WELL… IT BETTER BE!” He dug into his pocket and retrieved the ten dollar note. “HERE, HAVE THE TEN DOLLARS, BUT YOU HAVE A FUCKING ATTITUDE-“
“Woohoo!” I grabbed the note from his hand and skipped over to the bar, leaving the security guard to deal with him.

I’m not sure what to do with the ten dollars. It is the ten dollar note of pure hatred. I feel like whatever I buy with it will bring me bad luck, or that I only have to buy something diabolically evil with it. All I know is that some drunk guy yelled at me, then gave me money. Amazing.

Before you think either, “Wow, she sure KICKED SOME ASS!” or “What a self-righteous bitch!”, I must say that I’m not proud of how I responded to those people tonight. I have a short temper that really should have no place in the hospitality industry and really need to deal with things like that more calmly and in a more mature fashion (ie. Not provoking drunk people).

And it’s not always that bad at work. In fact, I mainly enjoy going to work because I’ve become friendly with the regulars, most people are generally sociable and fun after a few drinks, and I usually get to see cool bands. It's usually a fun place full of love, dancing and giggling over beer.
But tonight was different. It was the worst it had ever been.
And it was all because of the full moon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I shat bricks.

Like the many nerds on this planet, I find Japanese pop culture to be completely fascinating. The weirder, the better. My recent fascination is with Japanese horror or surrealism, most of which are home-grown projects I have found on the internet.

There's something very unsettling about Japanese horror that sets it apart from Western horror. For one thing, a lot of popular Japanese horror like The Ring for example, take place in a comfort zone for most people - in front of the TV at home. I find the idea that a creepy girl can crawl out of my TV when I watched an unmarked video far more scary than a bunch of stupid teenagers getting lost in the country and spending the night in haunted house. It's much more subtle with only a faint hint of creative gore. Fear is mainly based on imagery. As opposed to most Western horror where the threat is "That big scary monster is going to eat me!", the threat in Japanese horror seems to be "What is that, it shouldn't be there AND IT'S LOOKING AT ME."

Speaking of looking, I've noticed that deformed eyes seem to be staple imagery for Japanese horror, possibly playing on the fear of being watched. Paranoia, claustrophobia, death, myth and the supernatural are played on without ever coming across as blatant.

See Sadako's giant eye at the end? SHE'S WATCHING YOU. Oh, and if you watched that, you'd going to die next week. Sorry.

Another thing I like about Japanese horror is that it fully embraces modern technology. As mentioned before, The Ring features a television. More recently I have found works that use the internet as a portal for the paranormal. I'm sure there's a name for this genre and I'd love to find out what it is.

Hmm... it's really hard to explain what it is I like about Japanese horror. I'm not expert on the subject really. So without further convoluted explanations, I present to you my findings of superb Japanese horror.

WARNING: This video seriously frightened me when I first watched it, so be careful.

"User: 666"

On first watching, this appears to be a screencapture of a glitch on By typing in the link to a user called "666" and refreshing the page over and over, the Youtube site eventually turns red and takes on the appearance of rotting flesh. Eventually, a single Youtube account appears with several surreal, bizarre video clips on it. The user suddenly realises that they cannot stop watching the video or turn off their computer.

Spoiler Alert!!:
This is obviously not real - it is the creation of an artist at this site. She used a clever combination of photoshop and an animation program.

I think this video works well because people tend to hate when their computer does unpredictable things. Combined with the supernatural element of, er, Satan, this video is enough to make any geek tremble in their boots. Like, not only is my computer going to crash, but i'm going to DIE as well. Great! The comfort zone thing I mentioned before comes into play again. Most people tend to muck around on Youtube as a relaxing thing. It would be the last place you'd expect to have the pants scared off you.

"Don't think. Feel and you'll be tanasinn."
This is a website made up of gibberish and Shift_JIS (the Japanese version of ASCII code) images. Some of these images are fairly innocent, such as cartoon characters, animals and children. Some are more sinister, like aforementioned cartoon characters being mutilated, and featureless faces with beady, staring eyes. I can't remember which page it was on, but I do remember seeing an image of a girl hanging from a noose. This page really sums up the tanasinn experience - you can view the images with the sound of a distorted voice speaking with strange electronic noises.

Apparently it started as a project on the imageboard 2ch. There's an imageboard on the tanasinn site where people post strange photos. According to Wikipedia, tanasinn is not clearly explained, but it seems to be an effort to display surrealism and provoke a sense of fear and anxiousness.

Yume Nikki
This is a game that was created using the program RPGmaker by Kikiyama. You play as a young, mentally disturbed little girl named Madotsuki and you can explore her dreams. The landscapes her dreams take place in are vast and almost endless, full of bizarre creatures and imagery. Most of the game is just very strange, but there are some parts which I found to be quite disturbing.

Disturbing bit #1: UBOA

The beginning of this video is mainly of a fellow making Madotsuki walk in and out of a room. Apparently you have to do this many times to see Uboa. So skip to about 6:45 ARGH WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FACE THING. Keep watching - he ends up in another extremely creepy place where there are huge black, smiling ghosts with five arms vomiting blood everywhere. Eek.

Disturbing bit #2: Freaky red thing

Skip to about 1:15. Phallic monsters with eyes are watching you! Then she sees a dead body (Jesus, what a messed-up child) and suddenly OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT. Again, this really plays on the whole "something is watching you" thing (well, it does have three eyes) and the fact that it shouldn't be there. Actually, there are a lot of "that shouldn't be there" moments in this game. What on earth happened to this girl to make her mind conjure up so much frightening stuff in her dreams? Little girls don't usually think about things like dead bodies and monsters gushing blood everywhere.

Or perhaps we should ask, where did the maker of this game conjure up this bizarre imagery?

You can download the game here(needs WinRAR to open). Alternatively, you can watch the most important moments on LoudMan01's Youtube channel.

That's all I have for now. I apologise if you're slightly disturbed now. To cheer you up, here's a picture of Sadako from The Ring, bursting out from an Eeepc.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

so, i know your sister through my primary school friend's brother's girlfriend

In my favourite book, "He Died with a Felafel in his Hand", John Birmingham said:

"The thing about Brisbane is that everyone knows you or knows about you. In small world theory, there's only six points of separation between any two individuals, but you can trim down the numbers in Brisbane. Everyone's stories intersect, crossing over and through each other like sticky strands of destiny and DNA."

As it's becoming easier and easier to find people on social networking sites like myspace and facebook, I'm starting to see how scarily accurate this quote is. The instances of 6 degrees of separation - or in this instance, two or three - are becoming ridiculously frequent.

For example, let's look at Dan, my boyfriend, as a case study. I met Dan fairly randomly - not through friends. He used to work with a fellow called Jay. Jay's best friend is Amy, a girl I've known since grade 9. Another person Dan has worked with, Sandra, knows my good friend Rob. One of Dan's friends is good mates with a fellow that I partied with back in high school.

How? Why?

And wait til you see the local music scene. It's completely incestuous. Let's look at my friend, Ash, who reviews metal bands for various publications. A few of the people who drink at the pub I work at are in local metal bands that Ash has reviewed. One band, Dead Letter Opener, is playing a gig with a band called Screaming Dawn, who I helped make a film documentary about for uni. Ash is friends with a fellow from a band called Phalanx, which plays with a band called Into the Ocean. My friend Callum, who lives in Toowoomba, is friends with a few members of the band.

I find that all metalheads know each other. The Brisbane metal scene is pretty small, I guess. If you haven't met someone at Phoenix, then you've seen them at the Step Inn. That's about it really.

In person? It's hard to walk into the city or uni without bumping into someone you know, or someone who you drunkenly talked to at the pub from a few years ago, or the sister of the girl you went to school with. And they show up in weird places too. A friend of mine from way back that I hadn't seen for years suddenly turned up on TV for diving in the Commonwealth Games. He's off to the Olympics soon. Gosh.

I don't know if this extended family thing is a good thing or a bad thing. It's nice that Brisbane is sort of a community where everybody knows each other. It could be a bad thing if everybody knows that you slept with that girl's ex-boyfriend or was mean to the friend of a friend or something. I'm waiting for the day when all my fuck-ups suddenly become public and I will be forced to skip town. I think that's why heaps of Brisbane people move to Melbourne.

According to facebook, Dan's ex-workmate Churv is friends with the older sister of a boy I dated four years ago. Total and utter coincedence. I told said ex-boyfriend about this bizarre connection, to which he simply replied, "That's Brisbane for you."

Oh oh it gets better!
Today I was at work and talking to some friends of Chris (my manager). Upon finding out that we went to private schools, we realised we knew the same people. BUT IT GETS EVEN BETTER. One of the fellows I talked to turned out to be, erm, the friend with benefits of a girl I used to be friends with. I'd even talked to him randomly on the phone once when he was on the piss!

Wow. Just wow.

Past posts