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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Taking the piss out of ...

Hello and welcome to this edition of "Taking the piss out of ...". In this installment, I'll be sending up the veterinary want ads that appear every fortnight at the end of one particular illustrious American veterinary journal.

So you upcoming new graduates, listen up! Starting to look for your first job right about now, aren't you? Well, read on and sharpen your wits a bit as you join that fretful guessing game about your new potential employer. If you sign on and things completely turn to piss in the first three months, just rest assured you won't have been the only one. There's lots of other jobs out there, so always keep that CV in good working order!

As an aside, I went three years in my first job, six years in my second and am now quite happy in my third down here in New Zealand. None of my previous employers are inspiration for this piss-take (well, the first one probably was to some degree, heh) and I was fortunate enough to not have to quit my first job before the ink on my diploma dried.

On with the satire.

One thing that strikes me about reading through all of the job listings in the back of each issue of said journal is how, unless you know somebody who has worked for the people advertising, you'd have no idea which are good opportunities and which are nightmares in waiting. To read each ad, you'd think they were all dream jobs that have yet to be discovered and snapped up.

“But that’s the point of the ad, dumbass,” you might say.

I know. And no name-calling.

But still, I am always leery of looking for jobs this way without knowing a thing about my potential employers. You become a little desperate in trying to decipher just what kind of practice this will be when you are reading their ad. More importantly, you are trying to read between the lines to learn a little bit more about your potential future boss. There are clues in the way the ad is written, you just need to sleuth them out.

You may resort to stupid mental tricks when reading the ad, trying to make it sound like a genuinely good opportunity. Let’s say for instance the head vet’s name is “Dr. Alan Woodberry”*. You’ll think to yourself: “Oh, Woodberry… now that’s a pleasant sort of name. Kind of like berries… in a forest. How can they be bad? Berries are sweet and good for you, and forests, well – who doesn’t love nature? This guy must be a really great boss! How lucky I am to have found this ad.”

And so on. The guy just might be a total wanker. How are you to know?

Let's dissect a potential ad, one that may read something like this:

”We are a busy, progressive, exclusive small animal modern practice. We are located right in the heart of this gorgeous city but the mountains and the beach are only 20 minutes away in every direction. We are a progressive practice and have all of the toys including ultrasound, endoscopy, EKG, and a tono-pen. No after-hours calls as our fine city is served by a 24-hour emergency clinic. Come join our team! We have an excellent staff and seek a highly-motivated, enthusiastic individual to help manage our rapidly-growing clientèle. Salary negotiable and commensurate with experience. Contact us at 555-4242 to speak with Dr. Alan Woodberry* or email him at worldsfinestdogdoctor@yipee.com.”

Allow me to wield my ten-foot pole and open the trapdoors lurking within this seemingly innocuous want ad:

One phrase to watch out for is: “Modern, progressive practice with all the toys!”

Translation: I’m such a tightwad I went out and bought the cheapest, crappiest ultrasound and endoscopy equipment that I could find, or possibly scavenged it from the dumpster outside the local hospital or maybe bought it from some Kazakhstani guy on eBay. I’ll fully expect you to come in and use them like a pro without any training (unless you want to take your own time off and pay out of your pocket for it). You will do these procedures on your tiny lunch break when surgeries from the morning always run over and you will spend frantic minutes flipping through the ultrasound’s hopeless manual which looks to be better written in German than English. You will absolutely not be allowed to refer any cases to the local internist because now we have the same ‘toys’ they do so of course it follows that you naturally know everything they do. You have textbooks, don’t you? You have the phone number for your professors back in vet school don’t you? Anyways, don’t call me for help because I will be fishing or golfing and just can’t be bothered. If I find out you referred a case, no matter how happy the clients are and how well the pet does, I will very publicly and loudly call you into my office during morning consults so that I may sit you down across from me and glare and fume at you until you feel like you are experiencing the Spanish Inquisition. I will make you squeal and promise to never send a case away again, you thieving little bastard, and you will go back to using all of these ‘great’ toys I’ve provided for you.

Here’s another dangerous line: “No after-hours calls!”

Translation: Well, there is an emergency clinic in the area, and they are open when we’re ‘closed’ but you are not to use them in any way, as this is money out of my pocket. Sure, I’m not on call after hours, but you certainly are. But don’t worry: it’s just three weeknights and one weekend per week. Unless I’m on vacation, which is frequently, in which case you’re on call … well, constantly. You will carry a pager at all times and the clients call this pager directly, leaving nothing but a number. So you will call them back blindly, not knowing who they are or what kind of animal or problem they have. You will meet them at the clinic at any time of day or night and not have any staff there to support you – what do you think the owner is there for! Because I’m a gracious boss, for every case you see after hours, you’ll get a five dollar credit on your account. It may not sound like much, but you’re going to get called in A LOT so trust me you’ll have a solid line of credit going. (Credit is non-transferable)

Yet another: “We seek a highly-motivated, enthusiastic person to join our team!”

Translation: You better show up with your roller skates on, because we are going to work your sorry ass like a two-dollar whore. We’ll take all that newfound enthusiasm you’ll just be brimming with when you turn up for your new job and we’ll make you squander it so fast your head will spin. There will be no end to the triple-bookings and cases that we are tired of mishandling that we will gladly foist off onto you. Just when you thought you were getting a handle on the situation, we’ll take off for a five-day weekend, leaving all of our difficult cases unresolved and our clients left in the dark, so you’ll have to pick up the pieces while we’re off on a holiday. Yes, you had better be enthusiastic, you pathetic little gnat!

And don’t forget about this: “Salary negotiable and commensurate with experience.”

Translation: I have no intention of paying you what you are truly worth. In fact, I will probably put you on a performance-based income so that you will become a giant ball of stress as you constantly fret about competing with other doctors for cases, charging enough to pad your gross income without pissing off the clients too much, and wondering if you’re going to keep pace with the hospital’s rampant growth. I’ll offer you a lowball salary to start the ‘negotiation’ process off just right, and then gloat as you writhe in your chair, coming up with ways to increase your value to the practice. Yes, before I’m done with you, you’ll be publishing the hospital newsletter, dog-sitting for the clients, giving the old practice another coat of paint, creating public speaking opportunities to promote my practice on your own time, and making cold calls by going through the yellow pages to drum up business. For all that I’ll top up your salary another thousand a year. Haha!

And thus endeth the lesson. Hope you found something useful in there, and good luck to you in your searches. One day in the distant future, when I own my own practice, I just may have to advertise in one of them there journals. If I do, I'll expect you to know how to read between the lines, and then I'll use every trick in my power to decipher just what kind of graduate you are by reading through your CV.

How to do that, you may ask? That's another post for another day, foo'!

*No Alan Woodberry's were harmed in the creation of this post. Any resemblance to an actual Alan Woodberry, alive or dead, is purely coincidental. So deal.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Boxing Day Musings

All right, it's time to break open the Donations Box here at Brooksie and spread the wealth and good cheer on this Boxing Day.


Hmm, well it seems that all that's in here is a bit of lint, some pennies that I dropped in here to get things started, and a slip of paper.

I'll just hand these pennies round, toss out the lint, and read this slip of paper, which just so happens to be from a fortune cookie:

"Always remember to pillage before you burn."

Wise words, indeed, but that's a mistake only a rookie would make. As if!

Well if I had to spend Christmas Day away from family, I really don't think it could have gone any better than it did. I was welcomed into my friend Andrew's home yesterday, a lone yank intruding upon a Kiwi family Christmas. Actually I never felt like an intruder at all, as they welcomed me to their gathering as if they had been expecting me all along.

Not only did I partake of the excellent Christmas dinner (duck, ham, carrots, stuffing, mushrooms and yams) but I also had my first sampling of pavlova, that lovely dessert created by New Zealanders in the 19th century. It is exceedingly tasty and addictive, and I don't doubt it packs the calories!

But who cares? Christmas is a time for a bit of indulgence so I checked my guilt at the door and threw in with the rest of them when it came to snacking on pavlova or lollies or plum pudding with cream. I did share a nice after-dinner walk with Andrew and Vicki as we strolled across Greytown to feed some chickens, owned by friends of theirs who were away on holiday for Christmas. So I burned off at least a good 20 or 30 calories right there.

Their friends live in a rambling farmhouse, complete with great wrap-around porch, on the edge of town. We were also there to feed their two cats, one of whom was a sweet ginger cat who seemed perfectly content to hide under the porch. He only crept out the slightest of distances to snack on his dinner before retreating hastily as we strolled by. Cows grazed and trudged about lazily in a neighboring paddock on this mostly sunny day, the heat of which was mitigated every so often by a nice cool southerly breeze.

Greytown is up and over the Rimutakas, a low mountain range separating the Hutt Valley where I live from the Wairarapa Valley, which is where Andrew and Vicki live. Often, the weather will differ quite dramatically from one side of the hill to the other. When I left Upper Hutt in the morning to drive over the hill, it was muggy and overcast with no hint of sunshine. Yet when I arrived in Featherston, the first little town you encounter after scaling the Rimutakas, I was greeted with sunshine and the lovely drive through scenic farmland, heading north towards Greytown.

Although it was completely unnecessary, Andrew and Vicki and his family had all bought presents for me. I was really touched by this gesture and was at first speechless but I made sure to thank them all profusely for their kindness. Fortunately Mom and Dad had sent me a nice gift box from a company in Auckland, so I had at least one present to open and wouldn't be left out. As it turned out, my hosts had thought of me anyways, and I really wasn't expecting this although it was much appreciated.

The gift box from Mom and Dad contained a nice bottle of tawny port, lots of chocolates including some cashews, some salmon pate which I've never had, and some tasty looking biscuits as well. Other booty included a nice picture book of Wellington from Andrew's parents, which is doubly interesting because the book contains photos from the early '70s and it's a great window back in time. The refreshing thing is that Wellington hasn't really changed all that much in the past several decades so it has maintained its unique character over time. Andrew and Vicki got me Bic Runga's latest CD, Birds, and his aunt bought me some chocolate-covered cashews.

With Andrew's two young children playing with their various new toys throughout the day, we all sat and talked about this and that. As it turns out, Andrew's dad had lived in Texas for a few years, working for Price Waterhouse, so he regaled me with lots of stories about his travels through the States and asked me all about what I thought of New Zealand. Like many Kiwis, they were curious about what I thought of their country and its customs, as well as curious about what life back in the States was like.

Their friendliness and generosity put me in mind of... well, it put me in mind of other Americans. One thing one of them said - which I happen to agree with - was that Americans were for the most part very friendly. You could strike up a conversation with any one of them and they'd treat you like old friends, though you had never met before. Andrew's dad talked about how friendly lots of his Texan co-workers were and that they insisted he be a guest at their dinner table and home on a frequent basis.

So even though I'm in a different hemisphere and in a different country, I still managed to make Christmas feel a bit like home yesterday.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Banter at the barbie

"Hallo, mate! How ya going, then?"

"Good, good. And yourself?"

"Box of birds, mate. Couldn't be better. Fancy this weather we're having then, eh?"

"Ah, it's about time it cleared up a bit. Bloody snow on the mountaintops yesterday."

"I know. Taking the wife and kids to the bach next weekend, up at Hawke's Bay. I'm bloody buggered if it's still this cold then."

"You'll have to pack a few jumpers then, won't ya mate?"

"Aye, probably. So where'd ya get this flash new barbie then?"

"Oh, this old thing? Dave - Denise's partner - got himself a new kauri pine barbie, so he gave me this one free."

"You cheeky devil! How'd you manage that then?"

"They're just really nice people is all. Needed a bit of work, too. Just a little bit of scrubbing, some new briquettes and a propane tank and it's sweet as."

"Good on ya. Saw you at the supermarket yesterday. Must've been one of the hundreds in there buying food for the weekend."

"Oh it was choc-a-block in there, wasn't it mate? Still, had to get some good meat for these kebabs."

"You did them up a trick mate, they're tasty as!"

"Cheers, mate. Ta."

Brooksie has just landed himself a new barbecue for free, from some very nice people he has met through his new job. Barbecue season is upon him now in New Zealand, and although he won't actually be firing it up in time for Christmas, he is lucky enough to be spending Christmas Day with his mate Andrew and his family in Greytown over in the Wairarapa Valley. There will undoubtedly be barbecuing going on, weather permitting, but until Brooksie gets his inherited one in proper working order, he won't be firing up any kebabs on it any time soon.

The above conversation was a purely hypothetical one, and one which may very well be taking place barbie-side sometime this summer. Confused readers are referred to the Kiwi-English dictionary for further reading and assistance with translation of this passage. Pictured with his new barbie is his Secret Santa gift (the Santa in question still remains a secret), which is a lovely barbie start-up kit. Brooksie is aware of the severe amount of paint peeling away from the top of his barbie and asks that you refrain from mockery at this time. Holiday spirit, and all that.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We'll always have Parade Cafe

I am still learning much about dating and relationships. My body of work in this area should attest to that. There is also the fact that I am thirty-six and single with a divorce behind me. Still, it's all grist for the mill, you might say. So I don't want to seem arrogant or deluded when I present the following list of "Don't"s below when it comes to the Game of Love. I have not only learned things about myself like limitations, preferences, areas that need work, and positive traits, for instance, but also about things that don't work for me when it comes to a bit of romancin'.

So what follows is a partial list of these things, presented in a sort of anonymous case study format, based upon some recent dating experiences of mine here in New Zealand.

It must also be said that I find Kiwi women to be highly alluring for several reasons. They are generally confident and straightforward and do not like to play games. Their honesty and candor are refreshing, and at risk of sounding too much like a hip gangsta wannabe, they 'keep it real' like nobody's business, yo. Their hairstyles are really bitchin' too (now I sound like a surfer wannabe) and it doesn't hurt that many of them are quite short and petite, two traits I've been a sucker for my entire life.

Yeah, so anyways. Here be the list now, me hearties:

1. Don't plan to meet me for coffee, then show up with the entire day mapped out. A first date is just that - a singular, casual event. Not some Date-a-thon endurance contest. I mean, sure I would maybe have liked to have gone on some long walks with you, followed by another coffee, followed by another long walk, capped off by dinner and drinks. But get real! That's a wee bit more pressure than should be ordinarily applied to a first-date situation, dontcha think? And I may have had plans for later on, maybe? I'm sure that there are rules for this sort of thing written down somewhere.

2. It would be best if you didn't yawn expansively and frequently during our date. Especially while I'm talking to you. Doubly so if you brought along your friend, who is cuter and more attentive to me than you are. That sort of strategy could be the sort of thing that comes back to haunt you.

3. Try to have an up-to-date photograph of yourself (yes I frequent an internet dating site. Shock. Horror.) I hate false advertising. My photos are all current, and not just headshots. I mean, I'm not in some ridiculous pair of Speedos in any of my pictures. I'm trying to attract the opposite sex, by crikey, not to repel them. But still... come on... deception right out of the gate is just so unattractive. (3)

4. Normally it isn't a bright idea to contact the other person after a first date straight away. Certainly not to any excessive degree. Like several texts throughout the day, followed up by phone calls to the house after ringing my mobile, and then sending emails. All in the same 24 hours after the first date just ended. Might just catch a whiff of desperation in there, and that ain't sexy. Trust me, I know, I've been on the other end of that before. It is sweet and all, and one simple text would be fine.

But too much communicating too quickly might just ruin something that otherwise could have been good. For an outstanding example of this particular dating faux pas, I refer you to this infamous scene from the movie Swingers.

5. Show up for the date, once it's been made. Seriously! I don't bite. Biting doesn't come until the third date.

It's not all bad, really. I'm out there dating, as opposed to hitting the pubs and drowning my sorrows, or watching the tube and drowning my sorrows, or just ... drowning my sorrows with no external accompaniment whatsoever. And so I'll keep dating and keep looking until something clicks. Pretty simple, really!

So at some point there will come a day when I post here about the date that worked, and that will end all of this whinging on my part. At the rate I am going, I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that you should pencil in the year 2012 for this to occur. Until then, sit back, read on, and live a little vicariously through some more of my dating misadventures!


(1) Date with L.
(2) Date with U.
(3) Date with M.
(4) Date with S.
(5) "Date" with D.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice"

While importing my music collection into iTunes the other day, I came across one of many early 80's compilation discs I have. Almost every one of these songs has some sort of memory attached to it, and I’m not sure how much of that is due to how wackily unique the music of the early 80's is, or how much of it is that I was still in my formative years in that decade.

As far as one song goes, however, I know why the memory sticks. It is one of the (many) awkward experiences I had as a youth that delineates just how embarrassing life as a teenager can be. The song in question is “Hold Me Now”, by the Thompson Twins, that trio from England that also sang other hits such as "Doctor! Doctor!" and "Love On Your Side".

I think I was in 7th or 8th grade, and anyways it was probably 1983 or so, and it was a weekday after school. I was home, downstairs in the den, kipping after my classes and procrastinating from doing homework. We had this old-timey tape recorder that my sister and I shared, and to this day I can never remember exactly whose recorder it was, but I believe it was actually my sister’s. It was one of those items that, although distinctly owned by one of us, had a sort of de facto common usage by both of us. As long as we were on good terms with each other and the non-owner wouldn’t be a total butthead and break the thing in question, it could be used. Usually, my sister was far more likely to share with me than the other way around.

Anyways, I did treat this tape recorder with respect at all times, so my use of it on this day was a perfectly valid and legal one. But in retrospect I wish that it wasn’t even around that day or else I wouldn’t have this tale of humility and anguish to tell.

For whatever dim-witted reason I had at the time (or there may not have actually been a reason, just dim-wittedness), I decided I wanted to hear how I sounded when I sang. You know how you always hate the sound of your own voice when you experience it? I’m talking about spoken voice here, not even singing – no, we’ll get to that horror show in a minute. But you always think your voice sounds one way and come to kind of like it, but then you hear yourself speak on tape or something and think, ‘What the hell, I sound like a complete twit!’

Okay, so maybe it's just me.

But whatever your opinion of your own voice may be, you might fancy that you aren’t half bad at singing but aren't too sure. Such was my hubris on that fateful autumn day back in 1983.

So, with headphones on (first big mistake), I pushed ‘Play’ on the stereo’s tape deck and the wonderful melodies of the Thompson Twins began to issue forth. Quickly, I pushed 'Record' on my sister’s portable tape recorder, and made sure I leaned in close to its little built-in microphone (second mistake). When the Thompson Twins began to sing, I sang right along with them, and with the headphones on I had no way of judging if I was in tune – an impossibly far-fetched notion for me even without headphones on – and had absolutely no background accompaniment of any kind. So what you got on the recording of me singing was just that – me warbling at an uncomfortably loud volume and horribly off-key, nothing but the cracking voice of a thirteen-year old.

The capper, and my third and most fatal mistake, was that I was chewing on a mouthful of chocolate during the whole thing. So in between lyrics, you could hear me breathing and chewing and snarfing chocolate as I was right on top of the microphone. What the hell was I thinking? Or, more to the point: Why wasn't I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking: that nobody on God’s green earth was ever, EVER going to find a copy of this tape and be allowed to listen to it. So I felt foolishly safe. This was just a one-off experiment, something for me to listen to by myself and use to critically evaluate my singing talents, or utter lack thereof.

Breathless with excitement, and also from scarfing chocolate and singing a whole Thompson Tunes song at the top of my voice for four minutes, I quickly rewound the recording and played it back.

I think I only made it a few bars in before I recoiled in complete terror. In a panic, I ejected the tape and snatched it out with all due haste. This thing must never see the light of day, I realized. But what happened to the tape after that is a fuzzy blur, as I know it disappeared for a few weeks before it would make a most unwelcome return to my life.

For some reason I either thought that I had thrown the tape out, or that I had hidden it so expertly that even I would never be able to find it again. Well, that worked you see, for I never did find it again; my sister did. And so did her best friend, Lisa. Lisa, the very cute girl that I had a crush on back then.

Yes, one fateful weekend, on one of the occasions when Lisa slept over, they both greeted me in the morning with impish grins and a heady state of glee that immediately had my skin crawling with dread.

I didn't know specifically what it was they were on about, I only knew that it somehow involved me and that it didn't make me look good. One of them (Lisa, I think) then produced the tape recorder from behind her back and then I knew.

Ever seen the classic Hitchcock thriller, "Vertigo"? It's a great film from the 50's that pioneered a cool new camera trick, wherein they zoomed in on the main character as the camera was simultaneously wheeled quickly away. This gave the viewer a highly disconcerting sensation, much like what the character on screen was experiencing, that being the sensation of vertigo. (If you don't know what that is, try standing up really fast from a crouching position. Or watching any episode of "Full House".)

Well, there may be a soundtrack to my life playing somewhere (at this particular moment, it could well have been the theme from "Jaws"), but if there were also cameras trained on me then for certain, at that instant, the 'vertigo' trick was in full effect.

I think my reaction consisted of an unsteady mix of outrage, shock, horror, embarrassment, and mirth. I mean come on, it is quite classic to have your little sis bust you on something so profoundly geeky like that, so a little sense of humor is a must! But I don't think mirth is what came across, probably more something like shame, despair and anger. There was no way I could ever get her back for something like that, for if she made secret tapes of herself singing she was far too clever to leave them out where I might find them. And unless Lisa really went for the type of boy with a singing voice that could make a jackhammer sound soothing, then I had just taken a huge step backward with her in the 'Cool' department.

I think out of mercy (not for me, but for potential future listeners), my sister and her friend destroyed the tape. Or they handed it back to me, so I could destroy it. I honestly don't recall what happened to the tape but I sure as hell hope it had an immediate encounter with a very large magnet.

But if you like, and are feeling particularly masochistic, I'd be happy to reproduce the moment. All I need is a bar of chocolate, some headphones, and a Thompson Twins CD. I'll do it on one condition:

No recording devices allowed in this performance!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

All About Bob

What's up. I'm Bob. I'm eighteen years old. Actually I'm seventy seven, but in your human years I'm eighteen.

I live in a flash house on King Street. I've got lots of babes that I check in on throughout my day, but only when I'm ready. Got to keep them women curious!

I never fight, because I don't have to. No other dudes come around my house anymore, because I've kicked all of their asses. I'll kick your ass if you don't pay me the proper respect. Chump.

But it's cool. I'm a laid back kinda cat. Don't want any trouble. When I see you, if I like you, I'll walk right over to you and stop. That's your signal to pet me. You can also pet me when I'm sleeping, because I'm a cat and we go for that sort of thing. But don't ever try and pick me up! I'll squirm like a two-year old tomcat and you'll never want to pick me up again.

This doesn't mean I won't try and sit on your lap, because I definitely will - especially if you're in one of my favorite seats. Also, no matter where you pop a squat in my house, if you have any kind of meat for lunch, I'll materialize out of thin air right by your side. You know you want to give me a slice of that ham.

Yeah, I been kickin' it for a long time now. Outlived most of the suckers on this block. I let these humans use my crib to help out all the other animals in my town. Gotta be cool like that, you know? Give something back to the community. So I do my part, and let these humans come and go every day as they please. They pay me the proper respects, though, cuz they got this place locked up tight at night, with security alarms and everything. They won't even let me stay in my own house at night, cuz they're afraid I'm such a badass I'll set off the alarms!

It's all right, though, my day doesn't even start until it's dark out. They think all I do is sleep all the time, but really I'm just saving my energy for the ladies later on.

Life is good.

So if you're ever in tha Hutt, be sure to stop by and pay your respects. If you don't, it's no skin offa mine, but you would have just missed out on meeting the coolest cat in NZ!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Urinal Royale

Not to ruin the title of the latest James Bond offering in such a rude manner, but the intrusion into the movie by my persistent bladder made me think more about a urinal than a casino during the latter half of this film (to which I give four urinal cakes out of five, by the way).

So is it just me, or do any of you frequently get a nearly irresistible urge to have to go to the lav during a movie?

I know it’s not some sort of ‘weak bladder’ or undiagnosed condition I may have as, with the sole exception of going to the movies, I have the bladder of a Bactrian camel. I even make it a point to hit the head just before the film starts so I am as close to “Empty” as I can biologically be.

Yet, almost without fail, about an hour into any movie, my bladder begins its predictable, unrelenting and annoying regimen of telling me it is time to take a 'nature break'. It starts out as a gentle yet persistent nudge, wherein if I shift in my seat and ignore it, I can buy myself maybe five more minutes of comfort. But after about fifteen minutes I realize I’m faced with a full-on dilemma: either go soon or I ain’t gonna make it to the end of the film. At least not without a good pair of Depends, something I refuse to even consider wearing. I'd sooner put in a Foley catheter attached to an empty liter fluid bag!

Hmm, that's an idea actually ...

Anyways, so then I begin this mental cat-and-mouse game of trying to predict when there will be a lull in the action so I can safely bolt out of my seat, fast-walk to the loo, relieve my lower urinary tract, and then sprint back in time for the next scene. Yet, in most movies, about an hour-plus in, it is already starting the steady build to the film’s climax. Long-gone are any ‘talky’ scenes or 30 second snippets of ‘filler’ such as shots of the protagonists driving around to a catchy soundtrack in the interests of padding out the film (see Roger Corman). Movies these days are frequently longer than two hours, and this does not include the miles of commercial and preview footage you are subjected to before they even start. If it seems like there is going to be an important plot point revealed soon (“Luke… I am your father…” “NOoooooOOOOOoooo!”), or if the heroine’s breasts might soon make their grand appearance (Jessica Biel, sign in please), or if somebody I particularly loathe is about to get whacked (Dennis Farina always plays a highly irksome bad guy), then I will squirm and shift in the seat until the important scene has come to pass.

Having been a movie buff for many years (i.e., my entire conscious existence), I have developed a pretty acute sense of when it might be all right to nip out for a quick piss. But every now and then I am famously wrong, as in the case of the third Jurassic Park movie. The protagonists are all crouched in the jungle, having just survived some long and grueling escape from all manner of carnivorous and lethally quick dinosaurs. The film was barely 75 minutes old at this point, so I figured it was now or never or I’d miss all the cool action at the end of the film. And I did such a good job of getting there and back again that I may have broken my all-time record for Pissing During a Movie. Yet it was all in vain. For what did I see upon my return to the theater? The blimmin’ end credits! There they all were, the surviving cast, standing on a beach, waving at a distant aircraft carrier, with nary a velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus in sight.

What the…?! Where the fuck did the beach come from - weren’t they just running through miles of deep jungle? And the United States Navy is there now? Who was the genius that used their satellite phone to call in the biggest and most bad-ass reinforcements you could ever have since the original El Mariachi showed up in "Desperado"? And what happened to all those dinosaurs that were chasing them? Were they on a smoke break? Did the movie just go over-budget and suddenly become unable to show any more CGI goodness? Did I pass out on the way back from the bathroom due to a combination of dehydration and distress and miss 30 minutes of the film? Can you say deus ex machina anyone? Say it ain't so, Sam Neill!

I couldn’t believe it. So you can see why I am a little neurotic about bladder control when it comes to movies.

I think I have a good theory as to why this happens. I think the movie theater chains want you to have to go to the bathroom during a movie.

"But shouldn’t they want you to enjoy the movie you’ve paid so much to see?", you might say.

"Bollocks," I would then say.

The theater doesn’t get but peanuts from ticket sales, as mostly all of those proceeds go directly to the movie studio. No, the theater chain makes their money from the concession stand. So follow me on this: once you’ve paid for your ticket, the studio’s fees are satisfied and now the movie chain gets a crack at you. They need you buying that expensive stuff or else they won’t be in business for very long.

What do most movie-goers usually buy when they go to the theater? Why, popcorn and soda of course, the traditional movie fare. OK, so now they sell nachos and hot dogs, but this will also help to prove my point. You see, I think they lace the popcorn with a diuretic. "What’s that?" you say? It’s a substance that makes you make lots of urine and really quickly. Popcorn, nachos, hot dogs... these are already salty foods, but not salty enough!

So this stuff makes you have to go to the bathroom… sort of now-ish. Say, an hour or so into the film. And what’s that on the way to and from the bathroom? Why, it’s the concession stand, of course! So they’re hoping you might think to yourself, as you nervously slink back and forth between theater and urinal (or stall, in the case of the ladies), “Hey, now’s my chance to buy that Butterfinger I was too embarrassed to get in front of my friends as I snagged that jumbo popcorn and Coke combo.” Or, “Man, I’m so freakin’ dehydrated right now for some reason, I need to refuel with another Pepsi!”

You see it now? It’s evil brilliance! (no i'm not paranoid) And I’ve figured them out! (not paranoid, i tell you) By making sure you will be subjected to the siren-like beckon of the soft glow of the concession stand (I'MNOTPARANOIDSOJUSTBACKOFFOKAY), with its hunger-inducing buttered popcorn aromas. Ever notice how it makes you hungry for it even if you’ve just had a 7-course meal? There are also those irresistible decadent chocolate temptations to reckon with, too, so they are potentially doubling their profits with this tactic.

Now there is just one problem with this theory, at least as far as I am concerned. You see, I don’t mind paying twelve dollars for a popcorn and soda at the movies. I know I’ve already been soaked by the movie studio for nine dollars for a ticket, but I don’t mind that either!

"Why is that, you crazy egg-sucking fiend?" you may ask?

Well, I’ll tell you. Because I like the movie-going experience. No, that is wrong: I LOVE it. And I never want it to be taken away from me. I know how much money the movie chains lose every year, which seems unthinkable given how much they charge for admission. But studios give them less and less of the cut of profits every year, because movie making is getting better but with that comes more expense. This is also why I hate movie pirates so much. No, not the crew from "Pirates of the Caribbean" fame, I love those guys. I'm talking about the punks who show up with their camcorders or whatever.

I’m all too happy to pay for it because I love the big popcorn flicks, the movies that everyone says “OH, you had to see it on the big screen to really enjoy it!” Well that is cliché but it’s spoken for a reason, and I don’t care how cool you think your flat screen home theater surround sound system is (although I do covet one of those), nothing will ever come close to the big screen experience short of building your own personal one.

So even though during my viewing of "Casino Royale" the other day when I had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom about 90 minutes in, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the movie. It really is pretty good, and the new Bond works for me. I was able to patiently ignore the ceaseless signals from my ever-filling bladder to GO NOW and enjoy the film without pause.

Although Eva Green never did show us her boobs so, as it turns out, I wouldn’t have missed much anyways.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


In one of the many river valleys in this area north of Wellington, there lies a little town called Wainuiomata (pronounced, WUH-zee-hoo-HAHA-OH-ma-TAH). Just kidding, it's actually pronounced "why-NEW-e-mah-tah", which is often shortened to just 'Wainui'. I've never actually been there; I've only driven down to it to then perform an immediate U-turn so as to come back up the hill on the way out of town.

I've snubbed Wainui so, not because I am avoiding it, rather because it has a great scenic overlook that you can access only by leaving town and cresting the hill that guards it from Wellington Harbour.

There is absolutely NO truth to the rumours that I am wanted in Wainui for a second story job. None. So don't think you'll be cashing in a reward on me or anything.

But the other day I had the time off and the good weather to finally be able to check out this particular view of Wellington, and I'm glad I did. Here are a few photos I took of the view south towards Welly, and there are a couple thrown in there from my trip later in the day to the excellent Te Papa (pronounced 'tay pa-pa') Museum downtown. Incidentally, a large exhibit featuring many artifacts from ancient Egypt just opened up there this weekend, but as it's here for five months and I didn't want to fight the weekend crowds, I've left that for another rainy day.

I was a bit dismayed at the amount of rubbish that was accumulating in the bushes to the side of the overlook. This was not only because the cretinous litterbugs had so defiantly ignored the two rubbish bins on site, but also because there seems to have been a definite lull in the past few years in the "Be a Tidy Kiwi" campaign. I've only seen one poster promoting this concept, but up until recently it's something that has been the source of great pride for many New Zealanders.

Don't get me wrong, there are still damned few cities that could rival Wellington for its cleanliness and general feeling of safety at night, but I sure would hate to see the Kiwis start the gradual ugly slide in the direction of, say, inner city Baltimore for hideousness. That kind of squalor just should never happen here.

I am a bit concerned, however, because in the local paper recently there have been editorials on the recent slacking off regarding keeping things clean and green around here. There was also that one time I went to hike around Red Rocks, and lying in the stream in all its tacky orange glory was an empty and torn case of Tui beer.

Being the good Boy Scout that I am (even though I only made it to Tenderfoot, heh), and wanting to earn a few good karma points for eventual citizenship as a Kiwi, I picked up and disposed of several bits of rubbish at both the Wainui overlook as well as at Red Rocks. I guess I did learn a thing or two from the "Keep Virginia Beautiful" campaign that began in my youth and has pervaded ever since. There are certainly times when parts of my home state look a bit straggly and unkempt, but by and large Virginia has come a very long way since the late 1970s in terms of cleanliness.

So that's it, really. I also found out I can see the actual spot on the Hutt River where Arwen turned back the Ring Wraiths in "Fellowship of the Ring" by summoning up a powerful gush of water shaped like a herd of charging horses. I see it best when I scale the 500-meter peak of Cannon Point, right in my backyard and it's quite the view. You might find it hidden amongst these snapshots I've taken here, although I clearly need better shots of it next time I hike up there.

I also have a long list of local spots where much of Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed to visit and capture on film, so all you fellow Tolkien fans stay tuned for that.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rosie Versus the Crane of Doom*

(or, The Case of the Forgotten Coveralls)

* This is quite a long post, and can be a bit graphic in parts, but I do hope you read and enjoy it!

The other night we had a vicious, spontaneous thunderstorm. As you may know, there are many dogs that can’t handle the experience of thunder. It’s not just the noise that bothers them but also the barometric pressure change that accompanies thunderstorms. Certainly, the loud noises bug them out to a large degree, but the reason your dog knows a storm is coming before you do (if you’re like me and don’t pay attention to forecasts at all) is because of this ability to sense the pressure drop. That’s why sometimes when little Laddy or Monty heads for the underside of the deck or clings to you like a shadow it means half an hour later you will hear distant peals of thunder.

Or sometimes the storm will be right on top of you before you even know it’s coming.

Well, the combination of the fireworks a month ago for Guy Fawkes and this booming thunderstorm the other night served to make a dog named Rosie bug out of her house in the worst kind of way. Incidentally, we obviously didn’t know her name until way later in the story. I am only using it now to make telling this go a bit easier.

You see, she somehow managed to squeeze her ample sixty-five pound frame (she should be only fifty pounds) up inside the inner workings of the right tread of a crane. Think of this as a tank tread, although until the other day I’d never been up close enough to see how these things are designed.

There was a sliver of a semi-circular opening on the belly of the crane, which lead up into the insides of the tread housing. In the middle of this semi-circle was a solid iron bar that bisected it, narrowing the potential entryway even further. Clearly, this is not an opening designed for frightened dogs to come and go through as they please, like some doggy door to safety. But I guess in her frenzied state, Rosie managed to squeeze her fat arse up into the tread where she figured she would be safe from the evil thunder.

Poor thing couldn’t have been more wrong. As it turns out, her family, who love her dearly, spent all night and all the next morning looking for her, calling her name, but she never responded. The crane in question is no more than 100 meters from the owners’ property, yet I guess Rosie was too panicked to try and get back out, or perhaps she couldn’t get out once she had gotten in. Kind of like getting your head trapped between metal bars in a fence or railing – it’s easy enough to squeeze through to have a look on the other side, but entirely too painful to pull back out again easily!

Not that I’ve ever done anything stupid like that, mind you.

Anyways, the crane operators, upon arriving for work that morning (the crane is being used these past few weeks to help rework and strengthen an old bridge) were suspicious a dog or some kind of animal was nearby, as their own canine companion was barking and carrying on. This dog helps them to flush out any stray cats, dogs or possums that might be hiding in the nearby bush, so as they don’t get run over or, say, get caught up in the machinery once they get to work.

In spite of running their dog around the bridge area twice, they couldn’t find anything unusual, and of course who would suspect that there was a sweet, plump, but terrified Rough Collie cross stuck up inside one of the crane’s treads?

So the crane operator got to work, fired up the crane, and began to move it forward. That’s when he heard the painful yelps.

Alarmed, the guy turned off the crane and jumped out, and now Rosie was sticking her snout out through the tiniest of square openings in the forward aspect of the tread housing. She only yelped in pain once, while the crane was in motion, but otherwise was just sitting there, patiently waiting and now hopelessly entangled in the tread’s chains.

Panicked, the crane operator called his regular vet, who for whatever inexplicable reason refused to turn out. So the operator called us, the only other vets in town, during our morning tea.

Donna took the call, explained the situation to me, and in a minute a nurse named Claire and I were off in the truck to head out to the work site at Karapoti bridge, which is just off a notoriously windy but highly scenic road called Akatarawa (pronounced ACK-uh-TEAR-uh-wuh). I hadn’t driven it yet but had heard many stories about it, and there are lots of wrecks along it due to many crazy drivers taking the blind curves too recklessly and quickly.

Along the way it occurred to me that this was going to be one of those situations that required total improvisation. The device has yet to be invented that can safely and painlessly extract oversized dogs from inside the inner workings of crane treads, so without any obvious or easy solutions I knew Claire and I would be faced with a stiff challenge once we got there.

Instead of feeling panic about that, however, I was more worried about the dog. Certainly, I expected it to be in massive shock and pain, depending on the amount of blood loss. I was quite expecting to have to euthanize her on the spot if she was truly hopelessly entangled and/or destroyed by the machinery. No sense making her suffer while we try to get her out in one piece just to then put her to sleep. Above all else, do no harm, and all that.

But I really didn’t want to have to put the dog down. Also, was there an owner? None of us knew if she had an owner or not. Wandering dogs are not that common in NZ (unlike cats) so she was unlikely to be a total stray.

After many twists and turns, we finally got to the worksite at the bridge, and saw the crane perched on the pavement on the far side. Claire grabbed the tackle box containing all of our anesthetics and syringes, and we met the crane operator at the near side of the bridge.

As he recounted what had happened earlier that morning, we made our way across several sets of rickety planks that bowed and creaked dangerously underfoot. At one point later on, while sprinting back and forth between the crane and the truck, I nearly plunged through one of the weakest planks. Claire started laughing and pointed out that it wouldn’t do us any good if I also needed surgery this morning.

I laughed along with her, although inside I was breathing a deep sigh of relief as I really did come close to cracking right through that damned plank!

I have to say this now, that at no point did this amazing dog ever cry out in pain or try to bite me or Claire or anyone else, as I expect any animal in distress and pain to do. I know animals have higher pain thresholds than most of us humans, but she is above and beyond even that.

So after seeing the size of the dog relative to the size of the opening, I knew the only way she was coming out was unconsciously – in spite of her great disposition. As stoic as she was, she would not want to cooperate with me as I tugged on her limbs and backside. I could see how torn up she was and there were parts of her I couldn’t even see so I wasn’t a big fan of pulling hard on her anyways.

So I gave her a strong jab of Domitor (thank the heavens for that stuff – a handy reversible and reliable anesthetic), but instead of ‘in the muscle’ or ‘in the skin’ it went ‘in the dog’. I wasn’t entirely sure where I had injected it, only that she had gotten a dose. But after ten minutes or so, it was clear she wasn’t asleep enough to tug on without difficulty, so it was back to the drawing board.

To get to Rosie, you had to lie flat on your back or stomach and inch your way under the crane, just like when you are working on your car. Her left front leg was sticking down through the front portion of the semi-circle, so with Claire lying on the ground right behind me, we sort of spooned together and Claire was able to grab hold of Rosie’s leg and roll off the vein while I injected some more drugs at an upwards and backwards angle. Those who have worked with me back in the States know how much I dislike the front leg vein, but for once I hit the damned thing, when it counted most!

In a couple of minutes, the poor dog finally relaxed under general anesthesia, and the Easy Part was now officially over.

We could now appreciate the full extent of her injuries. With the dog face-planted into the tread, her front legs were now hanging down on either side of the lower chain. Her tail was caught fast in the chain itself, her left hind leg was a mere bloody stump and her right leg was on the far side of the chain and the part of her backside we could see was a gory mess. As nasty as her injuries were, there was an astonishingly small amount of blood on the ground. Since her injuries were crushing and tearing, as opposed to slicing and dicing, her blood vessels had actually twisted off instead of being surgically severed. This was a major reason she wasn’t in shock when we got there.

Nonetheless, Claire and I began to puzzle over just how the hell we were going to get the dog out of the crane.

First, we tried pulling her straight down, but we couldn’t get her right side and left side through the narrow opening together. Also, with Rosie now fast asleep, she was all dead and flabby weight, and lying on my back with only one good arm to push with, it required too much effort to try and lift parts of her while pulling others simultaneously. Quickly we grew tired and it became more obvious she wasn’t coming out of there easily.

Before I came back to begin getting the uniform dirty under the crane, Claire had suggested I run back to the truck to grab myself some coveralls. This was after I had given the anesthetic but before it was fully manifested, so I had a couple of minutes to prepare. Back at the truck, I spied several pairs of coveralls in the middle seat, grabbed a pair that would fit me, and returned to the crane. The coveralls will be significant later.

Well, after a couple more bouts of struggling with our unconscious dog and trying to push her up and over that blasted middle iron bar in various directions, we were growing more frustrated and exhausted.

Rosie just lay there and snored, her nose pasted up against the iron.

One of the bridge workers suggested we just put her to sleep and be done with it. Claire and I shared a glance and admitted that this might have to be the only solution. But another worker said that, dead or alive, he didn’t want to start the crane up again with her in there or else there would be body parts everywhere!

I wasn’t ready to give up just yet, though. I noticed there was lots of room above Rosie inside the tread housing, but the crane had no way of elevating itself, like a car on a hydraulic lift, so we were stuck with the miniscule space we had underneath its iron belly. There was just no way to get good leverage to push up on Rosie and manipulate her from beneath. I had one last idea before I was going to be fresh out of them, so I asked Claire if we had any rope or calving chains, which she said we did, and then she ran back to the truck.

Through that little window in the front of the tread housing, I had Claire feed me down looped ends of rope, which I fitted around Rosie’s front paws. Once both paws were snug in the rope, I pushed them back up into the space above and had one of the crane guys grab hold and pull forward with all of his might. This served to elevate Rosie’s front end a good deal, and with Claire crawling in from the other side of the crane, she and I were able to sort of push Rosie’s body forward, getting her completely over that middle bar. Then, we were able to pull her fat behind and right hind leg down and out – a huge breakthrough, and at this point I knew we could get her out.

With much pushing and pulling, we were able to get her chest out, and now all that was up inside the crane was her front legs and her head, and she was still thankfully completely passed out. I could see her still breathing and occasionally hear her snort so I was reassured as she had received a heavy dose of total anesthesia.

I had the guy let all the tension off the ropes, and I unhooked them from around her front legs and had him remove the rope. One by one I pried her front legs free and got them below to us, and very soon after that we got her head and she was out completely.

Out of the crane at last! We saw that she did indeed have a collar with a city tag on it, so she had an owner for sure. Lying on her side, we could see that what remained of her poor little stripped tail was hopelessly stuck inside the chains, so we had no choice but to grab the sheep castrators (which look like nothing more than a vicious set of pruning shears) and snip off her tail. I did this as close to the chain as possible, and amazingly Rosie bled very little if at all the whole time we were there. When I first got there, I could see her nose through the little front window of the tread, and saw that her gum color and perfusion were both good.

With her tail snipped, Rosie was now well and truly free. In that split second where we realized we had got her, Claire and I paused for an instant. It was tempting to relish the fact that she was out of there for a moment, but then we realized that we now had to rush.

We dragged her snoozing form unceremoniously out from under the crane, each grabbed an end (I got the bloody end as I was the only one in coveralls), sprinted back to the truck, over the rickety boards and avoided the one treacherous plank.

Bless the crane guy who helped with the rope as he ran right behind us and had thoughtfully gathered up our tacklebox, my stethoscope and even my bandage and suture scissors that had fallen out of my pocket.

We got to the truck, threw open the back hatch, lifted her gently inside, thanked the guy for his help, and got into the front seat.

Before taking off, I reversed the Domitor, knowing she might start waking up but I didn’t want her under anesthesia any longer than she had to be as I was concerned about her blood pressure being too low. Even though she hadn’t seemed to lose much blood or to be in shock, I didn’t like her being as passed out as she was.

About five minutes into the trip, we heard Rosie starting to whimper and whine a bit, and I was comforted by the noise. Much like with a Cesarean section, you are glad to hear all those little puppies or kittens start yelping and whimpering once they’re out, for this means they are starting to revive from the anesthesia and are going to be all right. It is much preferable to complete silence.

Also on the way back, Claire and I had a chance to break the tension for a moment, as we had been on the go since arriving at the bridge and knew we were in for an even more hectic scene once we got Rosie back to the clinic, so we allowed ourselves to unwind for a little bit.

Claire pointed out that it was funny how I had only brought back one pair of coveralls – for myself – and neglected to get her the same luxury! I honestly had no idea at the time that she might like a pair of coveralls as well. And I was following directions – just in a literal sense, as she had told me to get a pair of coveralls. We joked about how that was so typical of us vets, thinking only of ourselves and letting the poor nurses suffer and do without. I truly felt bad about not grabbing her a pair, and to my credit I did take the bloody end of our patient for the mad dash back to the truck.

Anyways, we got back to the clinic, screeched into the carpark, and bolted into action. Donna and Sally, two other nurses on duty that day, met us at the gate and jumped into the fray. I just remember four people running off in four directions, but I got back to the truck too soon as I had a stretcher but no one to help me load Rosie onto it. Eventually, we got her inside the hospital.

Within minutes, we had IV fluids going full-bore, had pumped Rosie full of morphine and antibiotics, and were working on getting radiographs of her abdomen. The external trauma was the thing I could see: severed left hind leg, severed tail, large gaping open wound over the right side of her rump. But I didn’t know how much damage those treads may have done to her internally so we needed more info on what was going on inside. We also had a red blood cell volume running and were working on contacting the owners, as Denise the receptionist called the council to report the number on her tag.

Not long after getting Rosie set up, some of her owners appeared: the father and the eldest son. They clearly were deeply concerned about their family dog, especially the son, a huge strapping bloke who looked on the verge of tears. The middle son showed up with the mother soon after, and the mom was in tears with worry over Rosie, as she now told us was the dog’s name.

They were glad to see her alive, but were very concerned as I was when I saw her first radiograph: it appeared that her stomach was not only bloated with air, but also possibly twisted. ‘Bloat’ or ‘GDV’ (gastric dilatation-volvulus) is one of the worst things that can happen to a dog and one of the most stressful things you can see as a vet.

My heart sank as I realized that this potentially lethal, sudden complication could now do her in, even after all of our efforts to extract her from inside that crane.

So it was another brief anesthesia for Rosie as I passed a stomach tube down her throat, and with a nurse’s assistance was able to empty her stomach of lots of gas and a little bit of fluid. Sally pushed on Rosie’s stomach and the noises of a dog belching never sounded so good.

I was instantly reassured at how easy it was to pass the tube into the stomach, as in most cases of volvulus or torsion, the tube will not and cannot get through. So it was a simple bloat instead and although this isn’t as dire as torsion, it still signaled that we had to watch Rosie carefully as she wasn’t out of the woods just yet.

Anyways she never re-bloated, and later on that day Peter the surgeon finished off the amputation of her left hind leg, her tail, and did a lovely job stitching up the gaping wound over her right backside. Rosie is the sweetest dog and is getting around on three legs just fine, as if she has done this all along. The only cries she ever made were when she was recovering from anesthesia or when she noticed you outside her cage and wanted you to come over and pat her.

She went home today I believe and has to wear one of those ridiculous Elizabethan collars because she is being a bad girl and trying to chew out all of her stitches. This is understandable, of course, as the area must be quite irritating to say the least. But still, Rosie has not once howled in pain or tried to snap as we handle her, and never once did she really seem to be in shock.

I am very thankful that we could get her out of that crane, and also very glad that my only mental mistake on site was forgetting to bring Claire a pair of coveralls. Good old-fashioned rope saved the day here, and if Rosie were a cat this would certainly count as one of her nine lives well and truly spent. Another thing to be thankful for is the beautiful sunny weather we all had that day, for the very next morning it was back to full-force gales and blowing sheets of rain around here.

No amount of coveralls would have made that experience any less miserable!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brooksie's Soundtrack [Redux]

Oh. My. Freakin'. Lord!

Lyndsay, you will absolutely not believe that I followed your orders to the letter but I swear it's true! The list that follows is exactly what came up on my iTunes randomizer just now and some of the coincidences are too funny and/or too scary!

To prove my point further, the sole reason I did not post this two nights ago (like I said I would - bad Brooksie) is because I've spent many hours the past two nights just importing all of my CDs into iTunes! I didn't want to compose my life's soundtrack without the likes of Tool or Sting or - heaven forbid - early 80's music in the potential mix!

Yes I know that also makes it painfully evident that I have absolutely no life right now, but hey - don't we all need to import our entire music collections onto iTunes every once in a while? Besides, they were all weeknights at least. So nyeah.

Anyways, without any further hesitation or rambling, let's get onto it:

Opening Credits: "Every Breath You Take" - The Police. With obvious first breath of air references aside, this is just a kick-ass song (with a crappy video).

First Day At School: "Sissyneck" - Beck. Okay. This sounds bad. And it's true - on my first day of first grade, I ran all the way to the hospital where my Mom was because I was too afraid to go to class. But I sailed through kindergarten, for what that's worth!

Falling In Love: "She Found The Place" - Hal Ketchum. This is perfect, as this country balladeer has some great lyrics and a great voice. A song about how his true love found the place where he was hidin'. Definitely not about any 'place' in a 'sexual' sense. Perverts.

Fight Song: "Stinkfist" - TOOL. How cool is that! Not only did Tool randomly make it onto this list (making it bona fide Brooksie material), but it also has 'fist' in the title for the 'fight song' category. Heh.

Breaking Up: "Crystal Wrists" - Peter Murphy. Another uncanny coincidence. The vague unsettling reference to slitting wrists notwithstanding, Peter Murphy does often whinge on in his music about unrequited love. Although he does it to a very cool, catchy and deceptively upbeat tempo, a la Bob Mould.

Prom: "Microcuts" - FC Kahuna. So random it actually works! I like FC Kahuna for other electronica/techno tunes of theirs, but this one has a particularly nerdy, early 80s, robot-dancing kinda beat to it. Perfect reminder of my Senior Prom. No need to ask why.

Life: "Hurricane" - Bush. Well, doesn't this just about sum up all of our lives? Cool that Bush made the cut as well, even though it's not one of my favorite songs of theirs. The fact that they're represented at all is what matters. And the title once again fits the category, natch!

Mental Breakdown: "Swamp Song" - TOOL. Again! Yes, I know now this list is starting to seem rigged, but trust me it's not. Having Tool on here twice really validates this random sampling, and the song just so happens to be about warning someone not to get involved with someone or something harmful but inevitably they ignore the advice. So they end up in the kind of swamp that could indeed be a mental breakdown, you see.

Driving: "Hallelujah Song" - Dave Dobbyn. At first glance this may seem truly random (and it was, of course), but in fact Dave is one of NZ's premier home-grown artists. And I love driving around New Zealand. So, 'hallelujah' for Dave!

Flashback: "Golden Years" - David Bowie. I could not have picked a more perfect song out of the hundreds in my collection for this. And again, I swear I am not making these up! It's called serendipity, people.

Getting Back Together: "The Struggle Within" - Metallica. What could better capture the angst of taking a second chance on someone than a Metallica song? What, I ask you?!?

Wedding: "Scars" - Papa Roach. Oh MAN is this just the perfect song for this. You have no idea. Well... some of you do. Just... wow. This 'random' list is starting to give me the shakes.

Birth of Child: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" - ABBA (from the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack). Again - unreal, isn't it? Cuz you know how much kids like to grab everything and put it in their mouths. Hell, I still do that.

Final Battle: "Battlestar Scralachtica" - Incubus. The fact that this is the only song (and it's not even that, just some random interlude music) on Make Yourself that I don't like, yet it ends up in this category with 'Battle' in the title just makes the making of the list all the more... eerie.

Death Scene: "Don't Shed A Tear" - Paul Carrack. Yet another one-hit wonder out of the 80's but this is a pretty cool song. Again, see how it matches up? Incidentally it means for you not to shed a tear while I die. Me, I'm going to let the waterworks flow like Bill Paxton's character did in "Aliens" when faced with death.

Funeral Song: "Head Over Heels" - Tears For Fears. You just have to laugh at this point, or maybe I'm trying too hard to notice connections between the list and what song was actually played. But come on!

End Credits: "Blood, Milk and Sky" - White Zombie. The only tune on the list to completely stump me. The best part is that it's nearly a twelve minute song, so this will give them PLENTY of time to clean up the theater while the end credits to the movie of my life are playing. That's a whole lotta popcorn and soda to muck out - I must've been one popular bloke in my time! Haha.

To quote my boy, Tony Kornheiser: "That's it! That's the list!"

It was worth the wait for me, not only because I've now got all my music loaded into iTunes, but also because it just couldn't have been more fun to see it come out the way it has. Great topic there, Beechball!

Stay tuned, as I will come up with another 'soundtrack to your life' theme of my own. Lyndsay and others, I'll expect you to play along as well!

And if you need to take a few extra days to load up the jukebox, then by all means do so.