I’ve done all the dumb things…

31 03 2013

We tend to reminisce at times about the folly of youth. Well, I do, at least, to try to draw some distance between extreme lapses in wisdom. In reality, I think I may be pretty much as foolish as I was then but slightly more circumspect with broadcasting the dumb that I do. Until now.

If there are young people reading this post, then I have many, many pieces of wisdom to dole out to you like smarty filled eggs on this day of our Christ’s resurrection. One is that you should never, under any circumstances, accept a dare to drink a full glass of Trix (or any other brand) dishwashing liquid. If my friend James is reading this post, he will, most likely, not be able to finish it without rolling on the floor laughing. My cross to bear and James, I hope you enjoy your Serotonin hit!


You see it is all Yolni’s fault. He was the (very) younger brother of the bride-to-be at the time where I was to be James’ best man and Yolni, James and I were in the kitchen of a church, helping to prepare the platters of food for the wedding the next day. Yolni was a wide-eyed youngster enthralled to be hanging out with “real men”, all of 19 years of age and hanging off our every word. It was then that I noticed what appeared to be a glass of green cordial on the window sill and held it, considering drinking it, before I realised that it was actually a glass of dishwashing liquid. Yolni saw me and wondered what I was doing, so I told him it looked like cordial and that I had almost drunk it. Then, came the most potent of temptations to young male ego, the dare. Yolni dared me to drink it. All of it. Of course, being the young man wise beyond my years, I categorically refused this dare. Instead, I ventured for that more socially acceptable of challenges, the bet. I will drink this dishwashing liquid, I declared, if you give me one can of cold Coke. Now THAT is a FAR better idea, don’t you think, readers??

So the liquid went down as quickly as green cordial might. That was, without a doubt the most pleasant part of the whole, sorry experience. The moment I drank that viscous liquid, my entire mouth filled with the vilest, most uncomfortable of tastes, whilst I had the twin realisations that a) I had won this silly bet b) Yolni was gob-smacked with awe and disbelief, c) James was already convulsing (as he was wont to do) with laughter and d) I wanted , more than ever in my life to have a REALLY good vomit.

Alas, Many minutes spent trying to drive the porcelain bus with my fingers down my throat trying to heave (not having eating disorders of any kind, this was all very new to me) but couldn’t. When I came back to the kitchen, James was still convulsing and Yolni was dutifully standing there with a can of softdrink. Not Coke, mind you, but Fanta. Which is kind of like telling your Baptist mother that you nearly married a Christian, when you present your new Mormon wife. I hated Fanta, nevertheless, I needed something to get the wretched taste out of my mouth, so I then did the second stupidest thing that night, I sculled the Fanta.

Now, any half-decent Chemistry student would now know the likelihood of what happened next, when millions of bubbles of CO2 obtained steroid-like amplification to their surface tension, courtesy of Trix, so now, I was more ready than I had been in my life to heave the lot up. I just made it to the toilet and was genuinely horrified to see the torrent of bubbles streaming from my mouth, some actually landing in the toilet bowl. For several minutes, it seemed, my alimentary canal was turned inside out as I had the intestinal equivalent of washing my mouth out with soap (without the commensurate release of swearing one’s head off). All over the floor, the toilet bowl and, curiously, streaming out of my nose were bubbles. When the boys saw me again, I had bubbles apparently coming out of every available orifice. For the next three days everything (even the six pack of cinnamon donuts I consumed the next day) tasted like Trix dishwashing liquid.

It was only when I returned to Uni and recounted this story that my friends politely advised me that I could very well have had lever failure and been seriously ill, if not dead after doing something so stupid. I didn’t enjoy the proceeds of my bet and have never seen Yolni again, though I suspect that if he even remembers this event, any fleeting admiration has long been replaced with incredulity or, more likely, scorn. So, was it worth it all? A resounding no. Have I been that stupid again? Sadly, too many times and not always with humour in hindsight.

Peter was, by most accounts in the New Testament, an impetuous idiot. He left his fishing to follow Jesus, which was, in hindsight, the wisest thing he had done. People marvel at the miracle where Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples fishing to cast their nets on the other side of the boat one day (John 21:6) and they break the fishing drought that day with a haul that they could scarcely pull in. Jesus was, no doubt, the wisest man who ever lived but I wonder whether John, the author (and most likely there in the boat at the time) was too embarrassed to mention the orientation of the boat. Was it parallel to the shore? Were they previously casting onto a dry beach? It would certainly explain the poor catch all night?

Peter also famously proclaimed that he would never deny Jesus and, had Jews been accustomed to wearing hats, would have been having his with milk for breakfast at his very next meal. Indeed, even the night that Jesus was betrayed, Peter hacked off the ear of the high priest’s servant when Jesus was handed over. Yes, his EAR! Good one Peter. That’ll learn them religious types.

cut off ear

Nevertheless, Jesus does a miracle whilst being arrested, endures a grisly death, a profound resurrection and manages to come back for some fish (and presumably, chips) with Peter, reinstating him as the founder of his church before ascending into heaven. Peter overcomes his cowardice, some of his impetuousness and most of his prejudice to see many thousands of people become the very first followers of Christ, without whom, the church would have long since perished.

The message? Jesus is for losers.

As it turns out, we are ALL losers, if we look carefully enough. All of us have our moments of epic failure, many of which separate us from this same loving God, with the same patience needed to reattach a high priest’s servant’s ear. The wisest thing we ever do is respond when he comes to reinstate us as his followers  when he gives us that chance.

Steve Taylor, poet, prophet, erstwhile songwriter and solo artist, pens these thoughts rather poignantly:Jesus is for Losers

If I was driven
Driven ahead by some noble ideal
Who took the wheel?

If I was given
Given a glimpse of some glorious road
When was it sold?

So caught up in the chase
I keep forgetting my place

Just as I am
I am stiff-necked and proud
Jesus is for losers
Why do I still play to the crowd?

Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees

If I was groping
Groping around for some ladder to fame
I am ashamed

If I was hoping
Hoping respect would make a sturdy footstool
I am a fool

Bone-weary every climb
Blindsided every time

Just as I am
I am needy and dry
Jesus is for losers
The self-made need not apply

Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

And if you’re certain
Certain your life is some cosmic mistake
Why do you shake?

And if you’re certain
Certain that faith is some know-nothing mask
Why do you still ask?

They don’t grade here on the curve
We both know what we deserve

Just as you are
Just a wretch like me
Jesus is for losers
Grace from the blood of a tree

Just as we are
At a total loss
Jesus is for losers
Broken at the foot of the cross

Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees

Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

Happy Easter, Losers! 🙂



Where are they now? Chile !

22 03 2013

It’s been a while since this blog has considered those forgotten nations that really deserve more of our attention. I’m pretty tired about hearing about how the US spends money like a drunken, innumerate sailor with poorly stitched pockets or how heinous the tabloid press is with our privacy. I have a sneaking suspicion that most people’s lives are pretty darn boring. Otherwise, why would we need such rampant escapism in our spare time? All they would see at our place is some guy writing meaningless drivel into a computer.. oh, that’s me…

Now we really ought to hear about Chile more often but we just don’t! Our regular readers will expect, very soon, the obligatory quiz, oh, here it is (how’s THAT for timing, huh?!):

Which of the following is REALLY the Chilean Flag?




One of the most interesting things about Chile is that it is the longest, thinnest, country in the world. Yep. If Chile was a supermodel it would be draped in the finest Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace instead of stripey Alpaca ponchos. It is remarkably svelte! Now this actually causes some safety issues as well, you could imagine the problem if you lived up on the Andes somewhere in Chile with a long driveway and a dubiously maintained handbrake. It would come as a shock to see your car down the driveway and sitting awkwardly in the Pacific Ocean below. Your Alpaca would not be impressed to be the second most important mode of transport either…

Of course, Chile is known for lots of things. Football? Not so much, really. Food? Meh. It’s really hard to go past a decent Mexican taco or quesadilla. Chileans do manage a peculiar dish or, more correctly, way of cooking called a Milcao du Curanto which involves digging a big hole, sticking a fire in it and chucking in heaps of mashed and ground potatoes, sausages, seafood, old boots and the odd weird uncle that you tend to get at family gatherings. I have some extremely unreliable evidence that long before the Spanish Conquistadors introduced funny hats and severed limbs to the Incas, a boatload of Maoris on holiday had a nice hangi on the beach.

So the legend goes, some particularly hungry Incas crept out of the hills after the Maoris left, drunk, singing and telling Hawaiian jokes to each other. They found only a warm mound of sand, under which the Maoris had sensibly thrown their rubbish, after the Hangi. In it, of course, were the usual sausages, too burnt for even a hungry Australian to eat, Prawn heads (George Colombaris was not present to explain how to extract Crustacean Oil) and the ubiquitous amounts of potato salad (that apparently every culture on Earth appears to make too much of at barbeques!). Well, suffice to say, the Chileans loved it. Previous to that their best dish was a cake purportedly make out of dirt, taro and Alpaca droppings. To the virgin palate, this is, remarkably, what Milcao du Curanto tastes like.

Chile has beautiful beaches, cool, spectacular mountains, truckloads of culture, ruins, classy hotels and places where you can buy souvenir wooden alpacas (or real ones, given a big enough bag and indiscriminate customs officers in your country of origin). So why don’t we hear more about it? Ah, readers, this is the part of the show where we do the fabulous country makeover.

It would be remiss of us to go any further without discussing the merits (or otherwise) of the nation’s motto which translates as “By reason or by force”, which sounds curiously like parenting advice to one with petulant toddlers. It’s just too gubernatorial. You really need to show that you have a laid back vibe when your whole country is really one bloody long beach. Don’t go getting heavy man. What are you forcing us to do? I’m not touching that Milcao crap with a barge pole buddy!!!

How about a far vibier (it’s not a word but seriously should be, man) motto? Hey, since writing articles for Belgium, Portugal and that other country, their column inches in some publications has gone up measurably, according to a vague statistic I manufactured especially for this article. A truly great motto would be: “Life’s a beach, and then you fry!”. Which not only sounds about as laid back as you can get but also explains the inordinately high rates of skin cancer and eighteen year old girls that look like unwrapped Egyptian Mummies.

Here at File 13, we generally recommend a flag makeover and Chile is no exception. The correct flag in the quiz was this:

Yawn. Sorry, this flag always has this effect on me. It honestly looks like the scraps on the cutting room floor when they designed the US flag. One star, half a white stripe and then a red one. Really? errrgh. It’s an embarrassment, man. My proposition is to kill two important birds with one important stone (actually just an ordinary stone would do, it’s only a metaphor for those into animal rights wanting to kill me with, in that case, a particularly hypocritical stone). Let’s do a flag that looks funky AND shows people how to pronounce your country!! Here are some options, mainly because I am honest enough to admit I don’t know the correct way to pronounce it:

Flag 1:

What a great flag, right?!! Chilli:Chile.. how cool (or hot) is that? Even the bloody country looks like a chilli (albeit, long, dried out Chilli but let’s not split Alpaca hairs, right?). Now, if I am not correct with the pronounciation, then this might be a more suitable flag:

How COOL is THAT, for a flag (can you believe our country makeover service is FREE here at File 13!!!!). It screams, “CHILL, EH?”.. with an Eric Estrada-like chilled out dude on a retro chair. I wish it was our Australian flag, man. I’m saying man a lot in this article. It sounds a little sexist. It might well be. If I could find a chilled out woman, I might say woman, but I haven’t met one yet. Of course, from a female point of view, ‘chilled’ from a male point of view could really just be ‘lazy’ from a female point of view.. as in “get off your chilled out arse and put those 16 day old underpants in the wash, YOURSELF!”. I reckon this guy has been SO chilled for SO long that his underwear may be attached to the chair… this could be a problem.

There we have it. New flag, new motto, thrill rides down to the sea in cars with faulty handbrakes and Alpaca rides.. what’s not to love? Well, we might have to recommend fasting whilst visiting, otherwise we really need to develop a new national food. Chilli-icy poles anyone?

When Metaphors (and a motherlode of similes) go bad..

8 03 2013

Well a colleague got me laughing with some apparently ‘true’ bad metaphors used in English and literature exams. However, I thought, with only 5 months to go before QCS prep, 8 months to HSCs/VCEs and a matter of weeks before dreaded mock exams begin in the UK, I thought I’d lend a hand to the metaphorically challenged (read that again, then think about it :).

  • The sun lurched over the horizon, like a beer filled spew at the Rugby Sevens.
  • Her hair was a damp blanket that your kid forgot was under the bushes in the back garden next to the swings but then remembered at dinner time but wasn’t allowed to go outside and bring inside because it was dark by then.
  • He scraped himself off the ground like the fresh turd of a neighbour’s dog on the lawn.
  • He spoke confidently and charmingly in precisely the same way that a typical Labrador is able to recite poetry in Esperanto.
  • She swung her head, loosening the curls of her hair like the can-o-matic is supposed to do with the lid of an ordinary can.
  • Eric’s mouth was agape like a poorly fitted Stratco tiltadoor in a stronger than usual Innisfail gale.
  • Her breasts were like twin deer, feeding by the water: hairy, pointy and with ears.
  • The politician addressed the crowd the way that a loving father might console his children, long after the dementia had set in.
  • It turned out that Abigail’s husband was useless, like a pony tail growing out the back of an otherwise bald man’s head.
  • Brian finally capitulated to the irate moviegoer, moving his melon of a head sideways, falling tragically over the balcony.
  • The moon was a ghostly galleon, tossed upon mouldy peas.
  • Eloise managed to pick the lock with ease, like a perfectly formed booger plucked from a nostril full of WD40.
  • George knew the bet would be a sure thing, like finding your wife in bed with the pool guy the day you come home early after lunch, fresh from celebrating your new promotion.
  • Trevor’s body was a classical Greek sculpture, if the sculptor in question had been cursed with cerebral palsy and had an obsession with dugongs.
  • He was as tall as a piece of 4″ x 2″, 8 foot long, which has been trimmed back to 5 foot 11″, more or less.
  • Landy was a swarthy man, with skin like a perfectly formed custard in the fridge from 1945, discovered in a dead man’s flat in 1995.
  • His ears were like two crinkly protrusions of cartiliage covered in skin, pretty much like anyone else’s ears.
  • The doctor lowered his head, peered over his glasses and frowned like an old man trying to remember whether he had crapped today or whether it was indeed yesterday.
  • Senior Detective Forde pulled his beige collar up over his neck, tapped the puddle of his hat brim and headed into the rain which was like the entire occupants of Wembley stadium at the end of an FA cup final after having drunk enough alcohol to fuel the annual demand for fossil fuels from all vehicle types in the USA simultaneously pissing on his head whilst a freak tidal wave was coming down.
  • The prince was a slimy green frog. No, really, he was.
  • Gerald had an intriguing face, like a beautiful piece of mahogany fashioned into a deeply crevassed and painstakingly chiselled form which had been accidentally sanded smooth to resemble Charlie Brown by another clumsy artisan looking mysteriously like Mr Bean.
  • Madeleine stood there, resolute but defiant, the sides of her mouth quivering like a dead body does with maggots underneath after 24-48 hours in normal humidity (apparently).
  • His blog was like a stream of consciousness during a period of extreme drought.

Well, that is enough for now..

Feel free to add other usable similes and metaphors that may be of tremendous benefit to the next generation of leaders writing examinable pieces this year!