Sunday, May 23, 2010

Days 10-13, Yarrawonga, Myrtleford, West Wyalong and Hillston: Death Couldn't Hold Them!!

Welcome back, avid readers.*

Whether or not I have any right to be, I'm exhausted after this last week of touring. I tell ya, talking into a microphone for 20 minutes a night in front of appreciative country crowds is hard work. I mean, not only am I talking, but I'm standing up! On my feet! Under lights! On a stage!

So, what did these last four days hold? For one, a lot of grilled fish and salad meals at RSLs, which for you non-Australian readers are Retired Servicemen's Leagues, the heart and soul of every small town in Australia. Imagine multicolored carpet (usually in shades of purple, speckled with electric blue), Christmas lights pulled up to form a sort of light tent over the room, poker machines, beer, and battered foodstuffs, and you won't be far off.

The other thing that featured heavily in the past few days was long, country drives. The landscape looks like this:

Or this:

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest that the small towns of Yarrawonga, Myrtleford, West Wyalong and Hillston don't each have their own unique history and flavor. They do. The landscape of Myrtleford, for example, is dominated by this decimated hill:

But, at the same time, made whimsical by sights such as this:

Yarrawonga (which we only dropped into for the show) was very hospitable, providing us not only with wine and chocolates afterwards** but with this backstage rider as well:

West Wyalong, deep in The Shire of Bland***, has a lovely sense of humor about itself, as evidenced by this bag:

And Hillston. Well, Hillston (pop. 1,030) has a gigantic cotton gin.

That's right, I've been to a cotton gin. Jealous? And not only have I been to a cotton gin, but I've been there with the MAYOR of Hillston. I wish now, for the blog's sake, I had either learned his last name or snapped a picture. You'll have to just trust me. Hillston was so excited to have us comedians in town that we went on a 3-hour tour of the place, alongside Mayor Peter. Mayor Peter then took us to Watson's Farm, run by the very rugged and handsome Tim Watson, supplier of all the watermelons in all the Coles in all of Victoria. He's just your average multi-millionaire farmer guy.**** Here's his beetroot field:

And if you think that's a boring picture, please bear in mind that I'm giving you the highlights here. Like the comedy crew posing on the farm:

And this book, that I picked up in a shop in Rutherglen.

The Total Woman, (c) 1967, written by Marabel Morgan as pictured here:

Here's an excerpt from page 95.

"I have heard women complain, 'My husband isn't satisfied with just me. He wants lots of women. What can I do?' You can be lots of different women to him. Costumes provide variety without him ever leaving home. I believe that every man needs excitement and high adventure at home. Never let him know what to expect when he opens the front door; make it like opening a surprise package. You may be a smoldering sexpot, or an all-American fresh beauty. Be a pixie or a pirate-- a cowgirl or a show girl. Keep him off guard."

Okay, pretty radical advice from a self-professed evangelical Christian in 1967, right? I'll ignore for the moment the underlying tone of desperation ("Oh, God, what do I need to do to keep my man?!?") and the fact that Marabel seems to think it's reasonable to keep a man off guard by greeting him at the door dressed as a pirate. ("Arrrrgh!" [Cue Heart Attack.]) I can get down with the spontaneous playfulness she's talking about. Here's what else she has to say:

"You may not want a costume party every night, but you can work toward it. Keep a step ahead of your husband."

Okay, Marabel, I'm with you. Well, minus the working toward a costume party every night thing. That seems excessive.

"Keep him guessing. If you have older children, naturally use discretion when they are around."

Yes, of course. That's a good point, Marabel.

"You may not wish to parade around in nylon net at half-past five with your fifteen-year-old son all eyes."

Oh goodness, no. So right you are, Marabel.

"But the children will love your costumes."

Pardon me?

"It makes like exciting. Can't you just imagine Junior on the sandlot telling his friends, 'I've got to go now, guys. Got to see Mom's outfit for tonight.'"

No. No. No, I can't imagine that. I don't want to imagine that. Why are you making me imagine that, Marabel? Please don't write any more about...

"One son came home from college while his mother was taking the course. He told her, 'Mom, you look so cute lately. I hope I can find a woman like you for a wife.'"

Ahh, my eyes are burning! I've read too much! Make it stop, Marabel, make it stop!

So, apparently, Marabel has no sense of boundaries. If you're interested in what else makes a Total Woman, keep in mind that "A Total Woman caters to her man's special quirks, whether it be in salads, sex or sports," and "It's only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him."

Hear that, ladies? Just worship your husband and surrender your life to him, and you, too, can be a Total Woman(tm)! A Total Woman who is constantly creeping out your children.

Finally, I'll leave you with the best Church sign I have ever seen.

And if THAT doesn't make you want to worship Jesus, I don't know what will.

Thus I conclude my Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road Show blog. Until next year!*****

*I'm posting this way later than I actually wrote it, in case you're confused.

**Who's bringing home regional wine to the girlfriend's mom and chocolates to the grandma? Who will look extremely thoughtful and generous while actually putting in very little effort? This kid!

***Actual shire name.

****Farmer Tim and his riches, however, do not hold a candle to Hillston's Potato Mogul. This guy supplies ALL THE POTATOES in Woolworth's FOR THE WHOLE OF AUSTRALIA from his 180,000 acre farm. He is kind of old, and kind of fat, and married to a gorgeous former Playboy Bunny. The lesson here: Potatoes = Poontang

*****I mean for this specific type of blog update. Come back soon for...I don't know what yet, but something. Definitely something.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day Nine, Rutherglen: A Nice Port

The day started with a drive from Melbourne to Rutherglen*, which looked a lot like this:

We stopped for lunch in historic Glenrowan, where Ned Kelly was captured. Let me explain the Ned Kelly legend for you non-Australians. Ned Kelly is an Australian folk hero who put a garbage pail on his head and took out some cops.

The story is slightly more complicated than that, but not much. Look into it sometime, if only for the colorful language employed in its telling. I found out, for example, that Kelly was "black-balled" by a Constable. That means that the Constable grabbed and squeezed Ned Kelly's testicles in an effort to subdue him. If this sort of detail has made it into the history books, you can imagine what other strangely homoerotic confrontations may have been left out. You'll also discover that Kelly racked up many charges in his criminal days, my favorite of which is "feloniously receiving a horse." ("Sir, how did you come to receive this horse?" "Um...feloniously?" "You're under arrest!")

Basically, Ned Kelly is a great example of how bad-ass Australia is. It's a country of convicts with a bona fide cop-killer hero! Gansta rappers are complete babies by comparison. Yeah, Ice-T, I'm looking at you. You're named after a beverage, for Christ's sake, a beverage made from leaves.

Soon after lunch, we arrived in Rutherglen. Now, look. I don't want to use this blog to brag about how awesome my life is. I won't tell you that we're staying in a boutique hotel on a winery, with in-room spas, or that my room happens to be decorated in a colorful Moroccan style. I won't tell you that the town of Rutherglen is freaking adorable, especially when bathed in late afternoon sunlight, or that it's filled with 100-year-old architecture housing quaint little cafes and bookshops and people who love wine. Instead, I'll show you this sign on the way into town:

And this poster, pinned up in the "green room" of the RSL where we performed:

As far as I can tell, it's some kind of advertisement for mental health in the elderly. Let's be realistic here, though. Could anyone fault the ol' guy for a spot of confusion upon realizing that he and his female companion had morphed into the exact same human being? ("I don't have dementia, god damn it! That's me over there! That woman in the red turtleneck is ME!")

I would also like to point out that Rutherglen is a town of about 2,500 and we performed in a sold-out theatre of 350. That's 14% of the entire town, if you're awesome at math, which I am. And those 14% were, on average, gray-haired and surprisingly game. ("Tell it to my balls!" I shouted, while indicating my groin area, and oh, how they laughed and laughed, wiping tears from under their bifocaled spectacles.)

After the show, and after much moral indecision, I decided to jump in the spa. Yeah, I know it took a long time to fill up, and I know Australia is a country under water restrictions. But I eventually justified my decision as fodder for decadent tales for the grandkids, after most of earth's fresh water has been depleted.

"I used to just SIT in it, kids! I wasn't even dirty! I would just fill up a big tub, plunk down into it, and let the bubbles tickle my skin! What's that, Xenic? No, I didn't drink it, or use it to wash off the nuclear dust. I just sat in it, alone, like a queen! Ah, those were the days. Now, pass me that eyedropper. Grandma needs her government-regulated, daily water dose. Mmm, almost moist."

*While writing about the town in text messages, I found it easiest to input the town's name in blocks, as "rut her glen," and then eliminate the spaces. Now, despite the fact that really nothing in this town is raunchy in the slightest, I can't help but think of it in that way.

Day Eight, Melbourne: None of Your Beeswax

Look, this was my day off and frankly, I don't feel an obligation to make it public. I will say that this 18 hour stop in Melbourne was one of the best 18 hours of my life, for various undisclosed reasons. I mean, we're close, Blog, but not that close. If you're feeling left out, you're more than welcome to imagine* those 18 hours, if you must.

*Your imagined scenarios, however, will not be nearly as sexy as my 18 hours turned out to be. Did you upgrade me to the Penthouse Suite in your imagination? Did you imagine said Penthouse Suite only accessible through a secret elevator on the 20th floor? Did you then have me enjoying the Penthouse Suite by watching Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side? Yeah, didn't think so.

Day Seven, Townsville: Suicide Stairs

Overheard on Castle Hill in Townsville:

Middle-aged Lady: [Apprehensively.] Are these the bugger stairs?

Mean Middle-aged Lady: This is the beginning of the bugger stairs. The suicide stairs are over there. [Cackles.]

Yes, friends, Day 7 had me slappin' on some socks for the first time in a week, pretending my everyday shoes were hiking shoes (Well, any of my shoes could transform into hiking shoes in a pinch.) and tackling Townsville's Castle Hill. Here's what it looks like from afar:

Pretty imposing, huh? And this, more or less, is what it looks like from the top:

So there you have it. If you'd like to save yourself the steep 30 minute climb, sweaty brow, and niggling worries about your ever-declining level of physical fitness ("I mean, come on, Body, we used to RUN, gosh darn it! Don't you remember those days? See that 8-year-old with a dog? They just flew past you! Step it up!"), consider yourself to have done it. All you're missing is athletic people fully decked out in nylon shorts complimenting you on your comedy while you wheeze your way up the hill, red-faced and dripping with sweat. Oh, and the fear that if you don't get into shape, you'll be in a sip-and-puff operated wheelchair by age 52. Oh, and maybe the shameful experience of breaking into sentimental tears in front of "Got to Dance" back at the hotel while eating takeaway Indian food. Other than that, if you've seen these pictures, you've climbed Castle Hill. Congratulations!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day Six, Townsville: "Interesting? Fuck off!"

First off, the main thing you need to know about Townsville is that there ain't much happening in Townsville. Word on the street is that the best things to do are check out us, or some dude named Luke Pickler, who seems both saddened and mystified by the fact that he has two heads.

The other thing going down in the Towns (as I affectionately refer to it) is some incredibly bad cafe art. I snapped these pics for you, mustering all my acting strength as I pretended to admire them.

"That's not so bad," you may be saying to yourself. "Why do you have to be so judgmental? Clearly, the artist has developed his or her own personal style. Rustic, yes, but who says women's arms need to be of natural length or that their proportionally enormous breasts should inhabit the same spacial plane or flop in a manner that respects the known laws of physics? Who says women need to have noses, for that matter? It's a painting, DeAnne! A representation! So what if the subject holds a wine glass directly under one of her nipples so that it appears as if the monstrous nipple is draining liquid into the glass? That's an artist's prerogative! Why shouldn't there be a somewhat detailed and realistic-looking cat standing to the left of a bird so crudely smudged onto the canvas that the background ocean is visible through his body? It's art, man! And if the evil-looking cat has more facial expression than the woman, all the better! It's probably some kind of statement! As if there's some painting rule book that claims that a representation of Castle Hill should not loom large and distractingly in the background, dotted with indistinguishable white blocks and what appears to be a cave-style drawing of a freakishly gigantic person ascending the hill! You're not the Judge of Art, DeAnne Smith! Why don't you stick to what you know? Yeah, go back to your occasionally insightful and quite often surprisingly dirty jokes, you joke-teller! That right there is a good painting and I like it! I like its colors and its abnormal and irregular shadowing pattern, so you know what? Go screw yourself!"

Okay. Geez. No need to get aggressive. Fair enough. But would you feel the same way about that painting if I showed you this one?

It's basically another crack at the first one, but with a different color scheme, more prominently placed breasts, and a smaller and more deformed cat. And what if I showed you another in the series?

Mmm hmm. I rest my case.

What else does the Ville of Towns hold? Violently fun Mexican-themed restaurants with menus designed for drunks with ADD? Check!

Young white men taking part in impromptu strangling sessions? Check!

How about middle-aged men sitting on benches near Woolworths in full daylight who hold their dicks in their hands and pee directly onto the sidewalk, missing your foot by mere centimeters? Check, check and check!

While I was tempted to snap a photo of that last one for you, I thought better of it. Instead, what I did was have a very honest (if somewhat subdued) reaction while staring this gentleman dead in the face.

"Interesting," I said.

"What? Interesting?!" he spat back.

Reflecting upon my initial response, I decided that yes, this was indeed a situation of interest. With that in mind, I replied, "Yup."

To which he, still urinating into the foot path, responded, "FUCK OFF!"

And that, my friends, is a day in the life of Townsville.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day Five, Townsville: Haikus

Greetings from historic Townsville. Actually, I have no idea if Townsville is historic or not but somehow "lovely" Townsville doesn't quite cut it. Don't get me wrong. Townsville's not a bad place. It's, um, definitely It has houses and water and bridges and palm trees. It also seems to have an extraordinary amount of closed and/or under-construction shops. It's kind of tricky for me to put my finger on the pulse of Townsville, but I'm starting to suspect that the non-pulse IS the pulse.

At this exact moment, I am in an internet cafe with 7 other people while Bruce Springsteen plays on the radio. Despite walking around Townsville for about 40 minutes, and stopping to eat in a cafe, this is the greatest number of people I've seen assembled in one place all day. Townsville. "You can't start a fire without a spark..."

Here are some Townsville-inspired haikus for your blog-readin' enjoyment.

The hotel is sweet.
Glass wall in the bathroom means
T.V. from the loo.

Benny's Hot Wok is
not a bad restaurant but
the logo's racist.

(See? Jesus.)

Honest Answer
At the gig, heckling.
Me: "I don't want to engage.
Now back to my stuff."

Smart Casual's Ben
taught me a strumming pattern.
Damn, I love the uke.

Fundamental Beliefs Shaken While Watching a Panel Show
Jennifer Lopez,
despite everything I thought,
is not an air head.

Movie Channel
About to watch Doubt.
Catholic pedophilia.
Really? That happens?!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day Four, Cairns: Sweet Reef

Let's start with the massage. As I type this, I've got four hot eucalyptus patches burning holes into my shoulders and lower back, working their secret, ancient magic. It feels good, I think. I just hope I don't lose too much skin tomorrow morning when these puppies come off.

After performing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Civic Centre, post-gig night massage (at Cairns's famous Night Markets) was a level of rock star* luxury I couldn't pass up. As was purchasing the burning eucalyptus patches. When my day started, I never could have anticipated that it would end with a young South Korean man digging his elbows into my buttocks, but I suppose life is full of surprises.

I enjoy massage, I think. To be honest, I can never just fully relax and get into it, as at least 35% of my attention is reserved for observing and commenting on the experience. During a massage, my inner monologue goes a little something like: "Oh, okay. This is how it starts. Right. That's a lot harder than I thought he would-- oh, that tickles. I didn't know I was ticklish there. How can it kind of hurt and tickle at the same time? Is that good? Is that helping or making it worse? And now...okay...that was a crack. He's cracking my back now. Right. Okay. And now, he's moving further down. Interesting. Are those his elbows? Is he using his elbows? That feels like elbows. Those are definitely elbows. Jesus, how far in is he gonna go with-- oh, okay. Just to there. Yeah, I guess that's fine. Massage. This is a massage. I am getting a massage right now."

The other thing that happens when I get a massage is, I fall a little bit in love. I'm sure it's just the intimate nature of human touch triggering certain pleasure centers in my brain. At least, that's what I'd like to think and not just that I am overly emotional and perhaps starved for affection. When this young man massaged my hands, part of me was thinking, "That feels very nice. I love this. Well, I guess I have a boyfriend now. I hope we're always together, just like this, and our relationship never ends. I love him. He's my boyfriend."

I have to say, that massage was sweet reef. Sweet reef, if you don't already know**, is the cool new way to say that something is fantastic. Let's say you don't go to the falafel place I went to for dinner tonight, where the guy is mean and has no front teeth and threatens not to serve you if you don't want the wrap and only want the falafel on a plate and then, only after your male comedian friends step up and get involved, he finally relents and serves you falafel on a plate but puts so many raw onions on the plate (a truly ridiculous heap of raw onions) that you're certain this is his subtle way of continuing to be an asshole about the fact that you don't want a wrap as if your inability to digest wheat products is somehow a personal affront to him and his entire falafel business, and instead of doing what I did, you go somewhere else and have a delicious falafel. You might say of that delicious falafel, "Dude, that falafel was sweet reef." Meaning, of course, that it was one delicious falafel, and that its falafelness was as falafelly as it could possibly get. Sweet reef.

I came up with this little slice of slang (which I do truly hope will catch on, and spread) while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef today. Now, THAT was sweet reef. I feel like I don't have the brain power at the moment to try to assemble the most precisely evocative words with the proper amount of poetry to communicate what a truly unique, beautiful, and awesome experience it was. Instead, I'll chuck some words at you and let you fill in the gaps: amazing, trippy, slightly terrifying, parrot fish, finding Nemo, colorful, sticky intestines, floating, mild panic, wave-slapped, spit, sunblock, giant clam.

I do feel changed by the experience, but that might just be because MY FOREHEAD IS DENTED FROM WHERE THE SNORKELING MASK WAS. Still. Like, visibly and tangibly dented. It's been nearly twelve hours since I've taken off the snorkel mask, and yet my forehead is not only dented, but sports a horizontal red line. Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef was a great experience, but I'm less and less sure it was worth permanent facial damage.

Or maybe it was. It's not everyday one is on a boat before 8 a.m., being enthusiastically yelled at by abnormally cheerful young folk, while they shove used and moist apparel in one's face. "Good mornin'! How you goin' today! You ready to get out there and see the reef!" I replied as I thought we were meant to (and really, as the energy of the situation warranted) with a big ol' "WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I was the only one who attempted to match the skippers' joie de vivre, though. The other 30 or so people on the boat just eyed me sleepy-eyed and suspiciously.

As did this gentleman, as I tried (and I suspect failed) to covertly take his picture.

He's not one of the young, chipper chaps and gals in board shorts and polo shirts, but he's still representative in his own way of the type of people this sort of business attracts. This was the guy trying to rent us underwater cameras for the day. Note the blond dreads. Note the beaded bracelets. Note the weathered skin and general resignation trying to pass as relaxation that maybe life didn't turn out quite like he thought it was going to. Dude, whatever. I'm gonna slap on some sunglasses and just be with the fish, man. Be with the freakin' fish.

You might think, it being fa' no'th Queensland and all, that we'd be given a quick lesson about or at least a placard indicating all the dangerous creatures we might encounter while floating alone in the depths of the ocean, and the various injuries those dangerous creatures could inflict. Nope. What we got was this form to sign.

I'm not sure if it's legible, but I'm pointing out two little words on the form there. Those two little words are "WRONGFUL DEATH." As in, I will not hold Cairns Diving Centre (CDC pty ltd) responsible for any of the following blah blah blah blah blah....including WRONGFUL DEATH. Hmm. I'll just go ahead, jump to a few conclusions, and assume that this expedition could get a smidge dangerous. Thanks for the heads up, CDC.

The lecture we did get was about swimming. "Captain Klaus," a prematurely wrinkled man of about 45, took us snorkelers up to the deck, and asked those of us that could swim to raise our hands. "Hmm, I see," he said, surveying us while he paced back and forth. "You can swim." And that's when his voice changed. "You know what? THAT'S THE BIGGEST LIE I'LL HEAR ALL DAY!" He snorted. "You can swim. Where can you swim, in a pool?" he asked derisively. "Well, this isn't a god damn pool! This is the ocean! The ocean! The ocean doesn't care if you can do some pansy-ass doggie paddle in a pool. That won't cut it in the ocean. You better change your attitude RIGHT NOW! I'm looking at all of you, and all I see are liabilities. I consider you all liabilities. You can swim? Please."

Captain Klaus was quite a change from the chipper kids, but I appreciated the contempt in which he seemed to hold us, his paying customers. He then went on to ask us each where we were from, seemingly interested in small talk, but only reeling us in for further humiliation.

"Where are you from?" he asked me.
"Oh, the U.S.," I said.
"And where in the U.S?"
"New York."
"New York..." he paused, and for a moment I thought he was going to say something like, "Oh, I spent some time there," or "That's a nice place." Instead he barked, "That's pretty far from the ocean!" I am not exaggerating when I tell you he had the same exchange with each of us, individually. "Where are you from? Where in England? Manchester? That's pretty far from the ocean!"

And fair enough. The ocean was pretty choppy today, and we were getting tossed around like cliched sexist jokes at a taping of Two and a Half Men. Which is to say, a fair bit. I did have one small moment of panic (fine, among quite a few small moments of panic) when I was headed back to the boat for lunch, having been the last one left out on the seas. After drifting quite far away, lost in my own wondrous underwater world, I started swimming toward the boat and realized a little too late that I might not have left myself enough mental and physical strength to battle the waves. I briefly considered calling for a life ring, but decided no, I'm not that weak. If I have to, I will just sink and die right here near the Great Barrier Reef. It's been a good day, and I've seen some amazing sights, and if I can't make it back to the boat, well, I'm at one with Nature now. I get it. Natural selection. Take me if you have to, Nature. You win this round.

Obviously, I did find the inner strength to flipper my way back to the boat. The question now is, do I have the inner strength to keep writing about today? And, you know, I don't think I do. I'm massaged and patched-up and forehead-dented and happy and exhausted. So I'll leave you here. May your tomorrow be sweet reef.

*If "rock star" luxury means it costs $15 and happens in what's really a glorifed strip mall.

**i.e., if you're not one of the 3 other people that went snorkeling with me today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cairns, Day Three: How Come I Don't Have a Boat?

Okay, Blog-readers. I'm not gonna lie to you. I'm pretty much phonin' this installment in, as I've gotta be up early for snorkeling tomorrow. That's right. Snorkeling! At the Great Barrier Reef! With sea turtles! And dugongs! And starfish! And a sick realization that unless humans can hurry up and get it together, pollution and overfishing are going to ruin all the natural beauty we have left!

Before I head off to dream of clear blue ocean water and a 6-billion-strong, human hand-holding chain set to a backdrop of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love"*, I will quickly fill you in on today. Today was great.

Cairns, you've shown me what you've got, and you've got a lot.** You've got this weird shade structure in the middle of the Central Business District.

You've got this Indian restaurant pleading desperately for business.


Oh, Music City Cairns, est. 1974, at 55 Sheridan St., Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia - (07) 4051 6826. You are my dream, Music City Cairns, est. 1974, at 55 Sheridan St., Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia - (07) 4051 6826. It was very difficult not to purchase multiple new ukes in you, Music City Cairns, est. 1974, at 55 Sheridan St., Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia - (07) 4051 6826. I only wish more people knew about you, Music City Cairns, est. 1974, at 55 Sheridan St., Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia - (07) 4051 6826.

And then the day just gets better. I head on to lunch at Spoons (46 Aplin St., Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia (07) 4031 1110) and chow down on what to my seagan (a mostly vegan who eats fish), gluten-free, generally sensitive little guts is sheer heaven. This homemade sandwich, stuffed full of goodness:

Yes, I took a picture of my sandwich. Yes, I was dining alone in a cafe. Yes, the people at the table looked at me strangely. Yes, I felt foolish. But what those people don't know is that I am FAMOUS ON THE INTERNET and that MILLIONS OF PEOPLE have since viewed this sandwich, and that those MILLIONS OF PEOPLE have felt-- through the sandwich-viewing experience-- both closer to me, and closer to the common joys that bind us all together as humans on this wonderful and delicate planet. Cue Peter Cetera:

Tonight it's very clear,
As we're both lying here,
There are so many things I waaaaaanna say.
I will always love you,
I will never leave you alooooooooooooone....

What else made today so great? Lunch on lunch, that's what. I went from the cafe directly home to a Comedy BBQ. (It's like a regular BBQ, but with more comedians and, subsequently, more thrown foodstuffs.) This is what I ate:

What's that you spy on my plate there? What's this sensitive little gluten-free seagan eating for second lunch? Could it be a piece of 'roo? A bit o' the ol' 'roo? A little 'roo niblet? It is indeed! I ATE KANGAROO MEAT TODAY! If I had more time, I might reflect on the physical, mental and emotional impact of tasting red meat for the first time in over 15 years, or the complex thought process I used to justify my decision (it has a lot to do with kangaroo being sustainably farmed) but instead, I will simply say: it was pretty delicious. Granted, I ate about a quarter of the little piece you see on my plate, and threw the rest at Sam Simmons, who caught it in his mouth on the first try. A real champ, that Sam.

Next, it was on to the Esplanade, Cairns's waterfront walkway. On the way, I passed this classic, Cairns-style bearded tree:

And this sign:

Because it just wouldn't be a day in fa' no'th Queensland without an imminent attack warning. I like how they've set up the pictures so that the croc looks like it's chasing the swimmer, whose mortal extinction is represented by the red line through his body. I also like that they've given the croc just enough detail to have a truly menancing-looking evil eye. Achtung.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this shot:

And this thought: Why don't I have a boat? Sure, my life is relatively charmed, what with getting to live my personal dream and all, but seriously, where is my boat? I deserve a boat. People have boats. I'm a person. I want a boat. So, it's settled. I'm getting a boat, and on that boat, I'm gonna play one of my many new ukes and eat roo and save the environment from human destruction, all the while listening to Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love." Yeah. That's exactly what I'm going to do. Cairns, thanks for giving me something to strive for.

*Glory of Love video clip.

**This is a slight exaggeration. If ever you are in Cairns, expect to see lots of tourists, lots of tourist-related things (hostels, falafel joints, marijuana t-shirts), and an unusual number of bats.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day Two, Cairns: Moderate Stinger Risk

Let me dive right into it. I know you're all wondering what became of Pab "Poontang is the shit" lo.

(Wow. This is where I paused for about 2 minutes, thinking that that sentence could be a really cool start to a novel. (And this is where I paused for about 45 seconds, thinking how much I don't enjoy when the same word repeats itself in a sentence, even when that word makes sense, as in the above "that that" example. (And this is where I paused for about 25 seconds, wondering if my penchant for parenthetical thoughts ever gets annoying. (And this is where I paused for about 12 seconds, deciding that it doesn't.))))

So, Pablo. Sam did indeed bring him on stage, where he was allowed to utter four words only. I'm sure you can imagine what those words were. The folks seated in the Cairns Civic Centre paying upwards of $30 a ticket didn't find the exchange quite as hilarious as we did the night before, but Pablo did indeed have his moment to shine.

Today, a bunch of us piled in the ride and headed off to Palm Cove, a swank little beach town about 25 minutes from downtown Cairns. It was on the way to Palm Cove, when I found myself worrying about whether or not I had enough sunscreen and/or whether or not there would be sufficient shade and/or whether or not I could refill my water bottle and/or whether or not I would want an extra towel so that I'd have one to dry off on and one to lay on the beach with, that I had to admit to myself that I am not, by nature, a laid-back, beach-going type of person. No one has ever accused me of being "easy-going." I've never been leaning back, smoking a joint, listening to The Steve Miller Band and going, "Yeah. I relate to that shit." I don't even own a pair of sunglasses. When it's sunny, what I do is, I take off my regular glasses, and then I squint and occasionally complain.

I'd love to be the gal that just slaps on a tank top and flip-flops down to the shore, body board balancing atop tan and muscular shoulder. But that is not who I am. I only wear tank tops indoors, flip-flops hurt my sensitive widdle toes, I've never body boarded and my shoulders are pale and pokey, like anemic triangles or Kristen Stewart's ears. Years ago, I would have felt like admitting all this was limiting. Today, I feel like it's liberating.

So, here we go: I like the beach, but I am not good at it. I do not enjoy being hot. I do not enjoy getting sunburn. I do not enjoy the feeling of sand in my orifices. What I do enjoy is reading in the shade, and that's what I do at the beach. I could put an ocean sounds CD on in a library and have pretty much the same day.

Palm Cove, though, is lovely. In fact, as this sign attests, it's the cleanest beach in Australia:

Or was, seven years ago in 2003. Here's another sign, graphically detailing the dangers of beach-going in Australia:

"Marine stingers may be present in these waters." "Crocodiles may be present in these waters." Just so you know, beach-goers. See this silhouette of a many-tentacled jellyfish and this silhouette of a sharp-toothed, squinty-eyed crocodile? Well, your imminent death MAY be present in these waters. Severe maiming MAY be in your near future. You can't say you weren't warned.

Oh, and just in case you aren't quite clear on what's happening, here's today's stinger risk:

Moderate. Not negligible, but not outrageous. You know, moderate. Average. Today's stinger risk is moderate. It's adequate. It's fair. There is a fair chance you will get stung by a marine creature. Today. In these waters. It is a risk, moderately.

I'd never heard the term "stinger risk" before, and I like it. I'd like to chop the apostrophe s off that sign, so it would read like a rock club marquee. Today: STINGER RISK. "Stinger Risk? No way! The way they play the nematocysts is so wicked, man."

Oh, and speaking of Wicked, check out this Wicked Camper Van I spotted today:

Inspect Her Gadget! Get it? It's like Inspector Gadget, but kinda sexist. I wonder what other nostalgic cartoon characters they tried to turn into perverts before settling on that one. Flasher Gordon? Scoob her doo? Monchichis? (Obviously, the Monchichis do not need to be altered to sound dirty, combining as they do the sound of both "munch" and "chichis.")

While at the beach, I also saw the whitest two people I have ever seen anywhere.

Of course, I had to pretend to be capturing the picturesque surrounds in order to snap that photo for you. Here I am, claiming mild outrage at Inspect Her Gadget while meanwhile, I'm clickety-clacking away at girls in bikinis on the beach. Well, just another day in the life of bloggin' for DeAnne Smith.

And I'll leave you with a photo of this little guy, who we met on the way to Palm Cove. This is exactly who I want to be if I'm ever reincarnated: the happiest dog in the world.

Goodnight, eyes in space. More tomorrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day One, Cairns: "Poontang is the Shit"

Greetings from tropical fa' no'th Queensland!

I've decided, internet friends, that this year while on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road Show, I will blog daily. "Daily?!" you say. "But we are so used to your sporadic and haphazard tri-monthly blogging schedule. A daily blog will blow our tiny minds!" Well, then, unzip your skulls and lean back in sweet anticipation, readers, because your tiny minds are about to be blown.*

In an effort to be unburdened and carefree, I didn't take my camera into the Cairns CBD (a well-intentioned mistake I will not make twice, much like shaking hands with homeless people), so in lieu** of Cairns photos, here is a grainy picture of me, solemnly swearing to blog daily.

Daily, I say!

So, Cairns. We got in around 5, not that I would totally know, since I seem to have lost my watch this morning. I have some hope that I've absent-mindedly stashed it away or that it's fallen into a bag somewhere, as its disappearance defies logic. Check this out: last night, I was inside my home with my watch on. This morning, my watch was nowhere to be found. I'm afraid I can neither quickly nor succinctly explain to you how disturbing I find this. But I will try my darnedest, which is what this daily blog is all about. I've done a lot of soul-searching in the hours since the lost watch incident, and I think these equations most accurately convey my feelings:

my watch = small attempt at appearing fashionable + sense of control + accomplishment

(I have wrists small enough to warrant unsolicited comments from strangers, so finding a time piece that does not make them and therefore my entire self look ridiculous is no small feat.)

lost watch = reversion to former stark and unadorned nerdiness + chaos x general sadness at growing realization of own mortality

I will say, however, that watching Invictus on the plane helped put the lost watch into perspective. At the end of the day, it is just a lost watch, not, say, 27 years of wrongful imprisonment.

Back to Cairns. First, we ventured into the Night Markets. If you find yourself in Cairns between 4:30 and 11 p.m., and you have a hankering for any of the following:

-novelty t-shirts
-macadamia "sensations"
-opal jewelry
-fried, MSG-laden seafood dishes of indiscriminate origin
-$15 massage
-anything made from kangaroo scrotum

then the Night Markets are for you!

My favorite*** stand in the Night Markets is the "Healthy Gourmet Grill," which proudly serves large tubs of chips (that's french fries to you North Americans), various meats in sauces, battered mystery chunks, corn, and peas. When I asked the girl working if there was any MSG in the food, she replied, "Emesgee? No, sorry. We don't have emesgee." A quick check with the man behind the counter confirmed that there was MSG in everything, including the vegetables. The vegetables! Mmm mmm. Because you know what goes great with corn? Heart palpitations and swollen extremities!

Then, after a quick stop back at the hotel-- actually, no. I'm going to have to take a minute to tell you about the infestation in my room. My room (308, if you wanna stop by with some Raid) is overrun with the smallest ants in existence. Tiny, tiny, tiny ants that are at this very moment crawling in and out of my bag of Goji berries.**** Teeny, eensy weensy ants that I accidentally ingested while eating a handful of Goji berries earlier. Miniscule, nearly microscopic ants that I then ingested out of spite once I realized they were also on the gluten-free coconut raspberry cupcake I brought all the way from Sydney. You may have ruined my Goji berries, impossibly infinitesimal ants, but you will not ruin my cupcake! And guess what? I don't regret one delicious bite. If ever again I am faced with a choice between not eating a cupcake or eating ants, my decision is crystal clear. I almost enjoyed the extra protein. I almost wish I had to make that choice every day. Hear that, you little jerks? Bring it on!

And as long as I'm admitting unsavory character traits, here's something: I watched ten minutes of an episode of iCarly in my room today. Sample dialogue:

Carly's Plucky Blond Friend: Oh my god, he's so hot I wanna bake cookies on him.
Carly: I would eat those cookies.
Canned Laughter: [Canned Laughs.]

But Cairns! We're in Cairns! Okay, so after a quick stop back at the ol' ant pit, we headed back out into the sultry, tropical night.

A member of the tour (who shall remain nameless. We'll call him "Weed") sauntered up to a group of youth (G.O.Y.) and in the fastest street deal I have ever witnessed, scored a certain substance (that shall remain nameless. We'll call it "Dan"). Now, normally I would not consider this transaction particularly blog-worthy, if it weren't for what happened next.

We continued on, and after crossing some sketchy railroad tracks and hacking our way through the bushy median in the road, we made it to our destination, The Green Ant. (Jesus, they're everywhere!) And who was seated there, in the middle of a birthday toast and subsequent slurred rendition of the Happy Birthday song? The G.O.Y! How the G.O.Y. managed to beat us there without us noticing them along the way is as mysterious to me as my lost watch.

[moment of silence]

One of the G.O.Y., Pablo, was celebrating his nineteenth birthday, and insisted on proving this to us by flashing his driver's license.***** He was visibly shocked and upset to learn that our group was "in our 30s." I believe his response was: "WHOA!" So notable was this fact to young Pablo, that it became our introduction. "This is my friend Mike," he said to us, when his friend joined the table. And to Mike, he said, "These guys are 30." No names, just a general ballpark age. We smiled and waved.

Pablo then proceeded to hit us with the inside scoop on Cairns. We should go to a place called The Wool Shed. We should go to a place called Velvet. We should go on a Thursday, especially if we want to get some poontang. Then, Pablo leaned in and conspiratorially whispered, "Poontang is the shit."

Poontang is the shit.

And with that bit of wisdom from a newly-turned-19-year-old, I will leave you for tonight.

Feel free to tingle with anticipation about tomorrow night's installment, in which we will follow up with Pab "Poontang is the shit" lo. See, at some point during the evening, Sam Simmons invited Pablo to get up on stage with him tomorrow, and while some might consider this a half-hearted joking gesture, I think it's going to happen. We'll find out.

Oh, and also, Cairns has gigantic bats.

*This is/was an attempt at a dirty joke, i.e., having your mind "blown." Get it? I'm not sure I do.

**I went through every possible combination of the last three letters of that word before finally settling on the correct one.

***Sometimes I pretend things are my favorite when they are, in fact, highly disappointing to me. It's just a little game I play with myself, and the reason I keep watching Woody Allen movies.

****You can understand that anyone who travels with their own bag of Goji berries would be crushed (crushed!) to learn that a place called Healthy Gourmet Grill is, in fact, none of those things.

*****If anyone out there is interested in counterfeiting, you might want to start with Queensland licenses. They look really easy to fake. Just saying.