June 26, 2003

music for tough lads

Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Blackie Lawless from the musical group W.A.S.P.

Are you young, male and white? Are you fiscally challenged and musically inclined? Your range of musical choices are almost limitless. In today's blog entry, I offer you the musicians of choice for the up-and-coming welfare recipient. In an entirely coincidental twist of fate, they exactly mirror my own musical tastes, past and present.

WASP is either an acronym for 'White Anglo-Saxon Protestant' or 'We Are Satan's People.' It could also stand for 'Wispy Ankle Soot Plank' or 'Wanton Ant Sandy Pulpit', but I could find no evidence that this is the case. As you can see from the picture of Blackie, the musical stylings of WASP fall under the catergory of 'Hair Metal'. I used to listen to WASP when I was around nine years old. I shared a room with my brother, and we would listen the album Blind In Texas. There was a particular track, 'The Widowmaker' that would scare my older brother witless if listened to in the dark. This is the essence of good, tough, music: it should be able to scare children.
Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden.
Bruce is totally not gay.

Iron Maiden.
Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, is in no way, and never was, really, really gay. For similar reasons to WASP, Iron Maiden kick arse (or ass. Sometimes both.). Their cover art is always awesome, and they sang about cool shit like shooting birds and being lost somewhere in time. You can endlessly analyse the lyrics of Iron Maiden and impress your academic friends with the depth of awareness about literature possessed by the Iron Maiden crew. My favourite album is Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which features my favourite track, 'Only the Good Die Young.' Too true, Bruce, too true.

If you want to impress others with your knowledge of Iron Maiden, point out that all of their albums kick arse, except for Killers, which was gay, which Bruce Dickinson isn't.

That concludes today's lesson. In the weeks to come, I'll inform you of more music choices.

June 25, 2003

hate the player, not the game

Ever since I started this blog,
This is the image of Soundwave I'm cutting the stencil from.
my internal narrative has alternated between the tone of a lifestyle guide and a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I was walking up Lonsdale St in the city and found myself narrating the events around me in the third person, a bit like this:
"Lumpen had his feet on the tram tracks as he walked over Elizabeth Street and felt the ground tremble under the wake of the number five tram to Melbourne University. He was hours late for Work for the Dole, but his mind was on the stencil of Soundwave from 'The Transformers' he had started to cut last night.

Last night he dreamt that he had taken a shotgun into a courtroom and tried to blow up the Hungry Jacks up Bourke Street with a bazooka. Toward the end of his dream, he climbed a statue and waited to be caught be the police. There he talked to an old friend and she said she was doing well. The dream left him wondering how Bridget really was."

You get the picture. Actually, that passage was disturbingly accurate. In that spirit, tomorrow I'll present a guide to music for lumpens, covering gangster rappers (aka 'gangsta rappas') and heavy metal (aka 'bouffant rock', aka 'cock rock', aka 'hair metal').

June 20, 2003

daddy drinks because you cry too much (more cats and more seizures)

Substance abuse is the cornerstone of life on welfare. I can't say I've ever been particularly good at taking drugs. For me, the ingestion of chemicals that make you feel funny is more of a hobby than a career. I never liked cigarettes, so I was never able to take the crucial step from tobacco to marijuana, and beyond. That isn't to say I've never been stoned, but I can't say I liked pot when I took it. I was a big fan of LSD before a bout of magic mushrooms set up a pavlovian response to hallucinating.

One of the things that turned me off a career as a drug-taking hero amongst my peers was a guy named Carl. Carl lived with his four year old daughter Hayley in the flat above my friend Wez. Wez was a medium level drug dealer, with a high overturn in small amounts of dope, and the occassional run with ecstacy and acid.

Evil the Cat from the coputer game 'Earthworm Jim'
When I took acid I saw a metallic version of 'Evil the Cat' from the game Earthworm Jim hanging from a tv antenna.

Apparently Hayley's mother was a heroin addict, so the care of Hayley was left to Carl. Now Carl would often come downstairs, with the skinny Hayley in tow, and get stoned with Wez and a bunch of other teenagers, despite being about ten years our senior. I'd smoke occassionally, but preferred just to hang out with the stoners and talk shit. I'd sometimes drink alcohol when the others smoked dope, come to think of it.

Hayley would make games of playing with the stoners, and I think she genuinely liked seventeen year olds who could play with Barbie for at least a couple of hours before they got bored or sober. I would often play with her because she was a funny little kid and, despite her circumstances, she was extremely well behaved.

One of her favourite games was tricking new stoners in Wez's place to go and buy her McDonalds. Me and Wez's girlfriend once took her to my mum's place so she could have a proper meal. I wonder what my mum thought when I turned up with the Kylie with her hard, lumpen glamour and this pale skinned child from a drug den for the Sunday roast. To her credit, she didn't say anything, although I do remember thinking she might've employed her caustic comments to humiliate me in front of Kylie as punishment.

I can't say that seeing this pathetic, malnourished urchin was what turned me off taking drugs full-time, though. Watching the poor thing wear pyjamas for four days certainly didn't add to the mystique. No, it was seeing Carl take perscription drugs then have a fit in the middle of Wez's kitchen that did it. I distinctly remember thinking as I watched, horrified at Carl's contortions and shaking, there's something inherently uncool about drug induced seizures.

Don't let this story turn you off. Minus seizures and overdoses, drugs are fucking great.

June 19, 2003

people with mental powers shouldn't have to work

Today I was two whole hours late for Work for the Dole and no-one noticed. I slept in until 9a.m. and didn't leave the house until 10:30a.m. A strange thing happened when I went to catch the train into the city.

I was walking up the ramp after I bought some spearmint chewing-gum, and I saw this mother slightly struggling with a pram and a toddler walking by her side. As they were in a hurry, the kid tripped herself up and started crying. I was about two meters behind them. I gave the mum a sympathetic look, because now she'd have to comfort the child when the train was only a minute away.

A cat with a frightened look on it's face
Am I invested with psychic powers?

Anyway, you know when you see something like that, and you start to extrapolate stories in your head? I do, in any case. I started thinking about what it'd be like to have an involuntary ability to affect the sense of balance of those around you. Like having a mutant power that affects the inner-ear or something.

As I was constructing various stories around the potentials of inner-ear shinnanigans, I was staring vaguely into the distance (down the platform) at this asian guy. He had a ponytail and a pretty cool jacket (I was thinking that at the same time as having fantasies about balance). Then the guy just fell straight to the ground and audibly smacked his head on the bitumen. He stayed there with his eyes closed, dangerously close to the edge, with the train just seconds away. It looked like he had fainted or had a fit.

His girlfriend rushed over and he opened his eyes. A group of commuters close by stood around, some asked if he was okay. He nodded and said he was, and his girlfriend rubbed his back comfortingly. The fainter and his girlfriend had this calm, slightly embarassed attitude, like it had all happened before. The train pulled up and they got on the carriage. I got on the next carriage up, thought how weird that was, then started reading Noam Chomsky's Fateful Triangle.

June 18, 2003

students vs the unemployed

Woman in safety glasses holding some test tubes wearing a labcoat
I have downloaded several gifs and extracted their magic into these test tubes.
The other day I had to write some feedback for websites these university students cobbled together. As I had nothing better to do, I wrote a disturbing mixture of on-the-fence critique and white hot flames. I mostly wrote it to entertain my friend Simon, so unsuprisingly, it never made it into the brains of these compubox webnetters.

Is this what the dole has reduced me to? A bitter individual? These are just the highlights. Enjoy.

Site feedback.
Team 16
Using the font ‘Algerian’ and the general layout was fun, and I mean “fun” in the same vein as mounting a severed penis to your computer monitor and having it randomly spray acid into your eyes.
Having a menu up the top and a menu down the side was confusing. Why not put them all in the same menu? Having the whole page scroll instead of having the main body in a frame (hope I’ve got the lingo right) was a mistake. I liked the side menu bar, but the site was much more complicated than it needed to be.

Team 25
The page looked like it had been infected by meningococcal at some stage, but unfortunately doesn’t have an inspiring story of survival to tell, only twisted stumps where its limbs should be.
Is it the background that resembles an ironed scrotum? Maybe it’s the buttons that resemble strategically placed anal lacerations. Either way, this site doesn’t fit in with my inner-city lifestyle.

A guy in a labcoat with complex machinery
Ha ha! Do not flame me, becoz I am an internet hacker! I have given you a VIRUS!!! Are you afraid? OMGLMFAO A/S/L?
I am the Matrix! Ha ha!

Team 34
Having never actually stepped into CSE21ICC, I will hazard a guess and say that certain sites were held up as exemplary. I’m guessing the La Trobe Uni website was on of these examples. I can see what Team 34 were trying to do, especially if that attempt involved cultivating a hatred for the sense of sight.

Work? It's much more fun to compute.
At La Trobe University, we are capable of the internet.
With no consistency in the design, e.g. the pictures used to illustrate the links, it was frustrating to look at. Just a text link would be preferable to the pictures, but there was really no need for them in the first place, as the menu down the side already performed that function. The whole exercise in deciphering the page was pointless.

Team 60
The thing about this page is its subtlety. In fact, it is so subtle that at least four seconds passed before I realised that my skull was being smashed by the visual equivalent of a gang of children affected by Attention Deficit Disorder wielding ballpein hammers.
Further investigation revealed no differentiation between headings and sub headings, leading to article headlines such as “Women Poor Shooting sinks Lady Vandal in Loss” and “Education Help Your Children To Write Well”.
I laughed when I saw the cute animated gif of a puppy running across the screen. I’m sorry if my language is confusing, as I’m from Ballarat; when I used the word “laugh”, I meant “want to randomly kick defenceless men in the penis until they vomit.”
Obviously these coders used the secret tags, only taught to supreme masters of the interweb.

get off your arse, fatty.

A fat laughing buddha statue
Mr Mason laughing it up with his high life on the dole.

Dean Mason, a father of three, was shown on Today Tonight, staring wild-eyed down the barrel of the camera, proclaiming his hatred for the government and pride at being on the dole. In a follow-up story, Mr Mason was put to work, not only earning himself the honour of turning a profit for his boss, but his spirit was also broken in the most entertaining manner, complete with references to his weight and scenes of Mr Mason struggling with heavy loads.

June 11, 2003

: :Alert!: :

I got a letter yesterday from Centrelink (the government welfare agency) stating that my dole had been cut off because I "did not attend a Preparing for Work [sic] interview" on June 4.

What a bunch of fuckers. It's hardly suprising, at least to anyone who's ever actually been on
A young heathen is rescued by time-travelling
homosexuals from the year 1976 in Jack Chick's The Exorcists
unemployement welfare, that these random letters appear. That letter was the first I'd ever heard of the interview, but you'd be wrong to think that the system was at fault.

This kind of randomness is factored in. The constant state of insecurity is used to force people to compete with each other for jobs that don't usually exist. It amazes me that people don't seem to realise that the unemployed are punished arbitrarily, though not without reason. So the system is working perfectly, just not to my advantage.

You know, I'm bored most of the time at Work for the Dole, and I can tell that post after post of "Help me, I'm frustrated" doesn't make for good reading. I hereby promise that, instead of telling you how bored I am, I will make fun of others, preferrably people I don't know and will never meet.

Surfing the interweb while "giving back to the community", I had a look at Jack Chick's website. I have written about him (well, derided him) elsewhere, but it's good for a laugh and worth checking out.

June 05, 2003

the story so far

My name is Lumpen, and I'm in my mid twenties.
This will be the longest post, since I have to bring you up to speed.
I've been on the dole (unemployment welfare) for 9 months.
I got a letter from the government
Sloth from 'The Goonies'
Apparently this guy is one of the seven deadly sins, and I'm not supposed to be like him.
the other day. It informed me that I was now "eligable" for Work for the Dole. This is a compulsory program designed to humiliate the unemployed on the pretext of "giving back to the community" by "[becoming] more competitive in the labour market".

Next I was sent to a day long session at a christian charity that I was assigned and who run the Work for the Dole program (Work for the Dole is outsourced to private enterprises, mostly dominated by the business wing of christian sects). Let's call them 'The Matey Mission'. The day was divided into two sections; Induction and Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S).

The Induction was predictably lame. We sat through a video produced by the Matey Mission that compared unemployent with mental illness, and all the benefits derived from business partnerships between religion and the state.

Next was the compulsory OH&S certificate. Excruciating repetition (writing sentences from a whiteboard into a book) was broken by a training video that featured computer animations of various forms of industrial death and injury. I embarassed myself by being the only one that laughed.

Highlights included the two blokes who decided to be really enthusiastic about the whole thing. There's always a person or two like that. When [Kylie], our supervisor and 'teacher' asked if eye injuries or bone fractures should be reported, one of the keen blokes nearly jumped out of his seat when he shouted "You must, must, MUST!"

When Kylie left to retrieve an overhead or worksheet, the other enthusiast, who looked like a dehydrated fraggle, would loudly discuss with the other keen one, how sexy she was. When the fraggle actually made some comment to her about her looks (she was quite nice looking), she said to him "Fraggle, don't be so racist." I think she meant 'sexist', but you can never be sure.
Not actually a dehydrated fraggle, but a kid with a terminal illness. Don't you feel like shit for laughing?
Not only can he smell if you're on heat, but if you follow him at lunchtime, he'll take you to his pot of gold!

Another highlight was the refusal of some in the group to sign 'publicity forms', giving the Matey Mission permission to use our name and images to promote themselves and the Work for the Dole scheme.

So I was put into a Work for the Dole program called 'Web Design'. Now, this was okay by me, as I was planning to do a course like that anyway. As it happened, the Matey Mission are running that program in the same building as the Induction and other stuff. I turned up for the first day yesterday.

I was greeted by [Ronald], one of the supervisors, who saw a badge on my backback that read 'No Gods, No Masters, Anarchy'. He stared at it for a while, looked me in the eye and said "God bless you." I think he thought I was going to start yelling at him. When I asked Ronaldwhat the structure of the course was, he told me there was no course structure. They had tried that before, he said, and participants had objected to being told what to do, some people had political reasons. When he said "political reasons" he looked straight at me (another guy was asking him questions too) and did this kind of Black Panthers fist salute in the way people usually do air quotes. It was weird.

Now, on one hand, this is great, for obvious reasons. However, I actually wanted to learn how to be a master of the various technologies of the online interweb. Ronald showed me the locker full of 'Idiot Guides', and said go nuts.

So for fifteen hours a week for six months, I'll be in an office with a bunch of other unemployed people. Join me as I reveal my adventures in following the line of least resistance and report the various goings on.

June 04, 2003

"If I don't turn up to my own blog, will I be breached?"