29 June, 2005

heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to cairns we go...

Well here I am, adorned with big black coat and explorer socks, purple scarf wrapped cozily round my neck, little heater buzzing quietly at my feet. Yes, lovers and dreamers, mindlessmunkey has returned to his freezing, foggy Southern homeland.

Aye, 'twas a dark and stormy morn on which we embarked. Well, not really. But 'twas dark. Anyway, patermunkey, Ms Cait and myself got on a plane last Saturday morning, and by about midday we were in Cairns ~ which was sunny, hot and humid. Our place of residence was Palm Cove, about 20 minutes out of Cairns along the Northern Beaches... a nice little place, predominantly a resort town, spread along a lovely, unspoilt beach.

The first few days were largely spent exploring the surroundings, lazing by the pool, lying in the sun... and of course drinking LOTS of bourbon. Our resort was a self-contained apartment affair, surrounded by a beautifully lush garden complete with barbecue and pool. On Tuesday evening, defenses lowered by booze and slothfulness, the Curse Of MindlessMunkey's Fucking Crappy Left Ankle struck once again. Walking along a simple footpath, my foot suddenly rolled and crumbled beneath me, and I tumbled to the ground, trying to be a brave munkey and wait out those shocking first few seconds of intense pain where you just want to vomit and cry and go to sleep. But it passed, I hobbled back to the resort, packed my crippled foot with ice and drank even more bourbon as an anaesthetic.

The next morning, injury and all, the munkey family went horseriding! *equitorial munkey* Hurrah! I was placed upon an EXTREMELY lazy horse by the name of Noddy. Now, I don't want to alarm PETA , but I could swear Noddy was stoned out of his horsey mind. He moved very slowly, was extremely reluctant to trot or walk down steep hills, and was utterly compelled to munch on anything even vaguely edible that we happened to pass. I know I'm only a beginner, but I would have preferred a beastie with a bit more oomph. Ah well, it was still a lovely ride from the lowlands up into the rainforest, to a lookout over the coast, and then back down among the tangled trees.

On Thursday we caught the historic train through beautiful scenery up to a place called Kuranda ~ a former mining town which has since become a Mecca for tourists sporting bird sanctuaries, butterfly houses and sprawling markets. However the best thing about Kuranda is the ways of getting there and getting back. After going up on the wonderful old train - truly an engineering masterpiece of its time - we came back by the spectacular Sky-rail: essentially a huge, enclosed chair-lift which soars and rattles high above the rainforest canopy.

Bundling into our hire car, our last full day in the Land of Queens (alas, such a misnomer) was spent exploring the Daintree. This is a truly beautiful area, where the rich forest tumbles down to the very brink of the ocean shore. So we drove up to Cape Tribulation and Mossman River, and wandered among the mangroves and high, broad-leaved trees, as the heavens opened and gently made the rainforest true to its name.

That night, after a spectacular seafood meal with the family, I kicked on and joined the locals for a couple of gallons of bourbon and (for the first time in my life!) a spot of karaoke. Yes, dear readers, my spirited rendition The Beatles' "Back In The USSR" left the Covesters cheering. Alas, I was showed up by the smarmy grin and American-Idol pizazz of Mike, the 18-y-o singing waiter form Palm Springs California. Cheesiness prevailed as he performed a string of well-rehearsed old-school karaoke classics, and became the star of the night. Ah well, I was happy with my debut achievement nonetheless.

So I stumbled back to our apartment, drunk and cheery. The next morning patermunkey and I were both hungover (he - perfectly understandably - having been obliged to finish the red wine we had remaining on our final night), but managed to get to the airport early (in time for munkey to buy the CUTEST little monkey toy you've EVER seen!) and onto the plane for the long trip home.

It was a great week, and a lovely chance to warm the bones, but i must say it's nice to be back... back in the arms of my beloved boy, back snuggled in my favourite warm clothes and back in my own comfy bed.

Thanks pop and cat for a fantasic week!



20 June, 2005

sunshine, lollipops and...

Hello there!
Just a very quick entry to say "hullo" from sunny Palm Cove! Now, to make you all jealous back there in chilly, rainy Melbourne: it is about 29 degrees every day, the resort where i'm staying has a beautiful pool surrounded by tropical gardens, and the beach is right across the road (about 20 metres away).
Anyway, luvies, the sunshine and water calls. I shall fill you in on all the details of my tropical adventure, upon my return.
Love to all.



16 June, 2005

everybody's free ... free as a bird

Goodness, what a lot can happen in a week. Michael Jackson is free. Douglas Wood is free. Mick Gatto is free. I am going to jump out of a plane. Sorry, what was that? Hang on, backtrack...

Ryan and munkey's time as pseudo married couple continues most pleasantly. We drive each other around, cook each other meals, bid each other adieu at the beginning of every work day (when Mr Rye is conscious enough) and greet each other every evening (when Mr munkey is conscious enough). It's relaxed, lovely and comfortable, almost to the point of being strange. Shouldn't living with someone you've only known two months be harder than this? Shouldn't we be bickering over every little difference of opinion, and scratching each others' eyes out? Well I for one (and I imagine Ryan for two) am very glad it's working so well *still-touching-wood munkey*. All this wood-touching seems to be working out quite nicely, i might just keep it up (and no that's not meant as a dirty euphemism, but it could be if you really want it to). At any rate, I'm in love and it feels like I've known Ryan for years. What we've found together isn't too good to be true - it's exactly good enough to not be a lie.

Plans were afoot on Friday night. I'm discovering that, with Mr Ryan, plans are often vaguely mused about for a long time, then suddenly thrown into action at the very last minute. This was the case with Munkey And Ryan's Long Wet Trip To Wollangara (cue curtains unfurling and trumpets fanfaring). When I had already been drinking for a good couple of hours, it was finally decided, after long confusion and communication-difficulty between Rye and his Lighthouse friends, that the two of us would be driving to Wollangara Camp - which is between Licola and Heyfield - to participate in part of their annual woodchop weekend. So, after getting to sleep post 2am, a very tired and hungover munkey dragged himself out of bed at 5 and we drove to Narre Warren to meet Rye's friends - who were all still asleep. Eventually we got Ms Nat out of bed, and meandered our way to Traralgon, via a quick tour of Morwell, where Mr Ryan spent many of his most formative years.

It took another several hours to meet up with the other group of travellers (as we didn't know how to get to the camp) and drive the rest of the way there, ultimately taking over 6 hours to do what should have been a 3.5 hour drive. The camp's homestead is a good 1.5km walk from the road, so we unloaded our things and began the trek... and of course it started pouring. When we were thouroughly drenched to the bone, and when the food-box Rye and myself were carrying for his friends had completely turned to soggy pulp in our hands, we arrived at the flying fox. Yes, the only way into the site is on a 4-seat platform which swings across the river. Needless to say, by the time we arrived, we were a bunch of drowned rats.

However it was all worth it. The Wollangara Camp, constructed several years ago by disadvantaged teens, is a beautiful collection of rustic wooden structures, tucked in a peaceful, secluded valley. After drying and warming a little, the rain subsided in time for us to don boots and coats, and partake of a good session of Hacking Up Wood With Axes! It was hot, tiring work, and also extremely theraputic to feel the thud and slight jarr of pain through your hands and arms, and then feel the fibres of the timber crackle and splinter. Fun fun fun. *constructive-destruction-better-than-therapy munkey* After trudging back to the house and enjoying a big communal lunch, Ryan and I bade farewell to the Lighthouse Crew before they hoisted us back across the river, and our exhausted duo headed home.

But, even after the several-hour homeward journey, the day didn't end there. After slapping some consciousness back into ourselves with nice warm showers, it was off to the House Of Hanover for dinner. There we met our hostesses with the mostesses Mistress Corredina & Ms Lili, as well as fellow guests Snazzles, Moodles, Em, Jez and the hilarious Ms Leah. Then we partook of hearty winter soup, before playing my much-fun Scene-It movie trivia game and Trivial Pursuit long into the night. Needless to say, by the time Rye and I tumbled into bed, we were very sleepy munkeys, and we didn't see the light of day until well after midday on Sunday.

Finally summoning the energy to be vertical, Mr Ryan and I headed out to The Hills of Endeavour for dinner with patermunkey and Ms Cait, after a brief meeting at Ms Sheila's to see baby Jett again, and meet baby Max for the first time. Now, this was also the first time munkey had ever brought a boi to a family occasion. I wasn't sure if there would be controversy, but dammit my cousins and their various partners have always been made welcome at family events, so I felt Ryan should be no exception. My 90 year-old Grandma has no need of a lesson in sexuality-acceptance, so to her Mr Ryan was simply introduced as "my friend Ryan" but everyone else knew the score without needing to be told... and my fam came through for me, seeming to accept the two of us there together without question. Dinner back at my old home was a relaxed affair, with patermunkey providing a lovely roast pork dinner, and of course Ms Cait and I preparing our famous chocolate pudding for dessert. We hijacked their TV and watched Ms Michelle get evicted form the BB house, before heading home.

On Monday we gave Oli a much needed clean inside and out, and did a huge buy-up at Coles, before meeting Mr Ryan's Lighthouse friends for dinner. Afterwards, Ms Nat came home with us to booze-up and watch Desperate Housewives, basically leading to an extravaganza of alcohol and fun. *absinthe-on-a-work-night munkey* After our very well thought-out question failed to make it onto Michelle's Big Brother webchat, Ryan was pissed off (and rightly so. bastards), so indulged in one of his favourite making-himself-feel-better actrivities: searching for airfares on the web. Lo and behold, we stumbled upon some extremely cheap flights to New Zealand... in fact, too cheap to pass up. New Zealand is somewhere we have both frequently said we'd love to visit someday, and these airfares were only on sale until midnight. It was 11.42. Out came munkey's shiny new Virgin credit card. We are going to New Zealand!!!

I think this proves it, lovers and dreamers, mindlessmunkey is finally stretching tentatively beyond his hermetically-sealed comfort-zone and tenderly tiptoeing along the never-before-explored path to ...(wait for it)... SPONTANEITY. And, I hope y'all are sitting down, because to add to this out-of-character descent into madness, I have also decided that I WILL GO SKYDIVING! Yes, it maybe that Ryan's passion for crazy danger-sports has rubbed off, or perhaps i was seduced by a glossy
website advertising the most splendiferous tandem skydive in the world, but I have decided to confront my terror and join my beloved as he straps himself to a man who is strapped to a parachute, hurtling towards the ground at 200 kilometres per hour. The dive takes place over the beautiful Wanaka Lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It will be spectacular. We will be just like Frodo and Sam in the gentle claws of the Eagles, soaring alongside the Misty Mountains and over the waters of the Mirrormere to the safe rolling hills of Gondor. Well, that's what I'm telling myself.

So basically, two weeks in November can't come soon enough... actually I'm happy that it's 4 months away, because we'll need that long to save up! But in the meantime, other adventures are on the cards. By this time on Saturday I will be in (hopefully) sunny Palm Cove in Northern Queensland. So think of me while you're slaving away at the daily grind... coz I certainly won't be thinking of y'all while i'm lazing on the beach with a book. HA HA! *smug munkey*


One of these pictures shows the experience of soaring through the air in Wanaka Lake, courtesy of a parachute. The other shows a similar experience, courtesy of the Great Eagles of Middle Earth. Can you tell the difference?


09 June, 2005

munkey's-eye view: "BOY MEETS BOY" ~ DAVID LEVITHAN


"There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best."

David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy is not your average young-adult novel. It's also not your average gay-issues novel. It's a light, likeable teen romance set in a dream-world, which just maybe is a hopeful vision of a not too distant future. This is a world in which society has evolved a few bold steps along the path towards a sexuality-utopia - where sexual preference and gender identity have ceased to even be labels of identification, let alone ammunition for judgement or vilification.

Paul is gay. He's been gay since kindergarten, since before he had any notion of sexuality or difference. Paul inhabits a fictional middle-American town where gay and lesbian teens walk alongside geeks and jocks: just additional accepted sets within the tapestry of highschool culture. At this school, the jock quarterback is also the homecoming-queen: a six-foot drag queen in eight inch stilettos, named Infinite Darlene. At this school, sexuality just isn't an issue.

This environment lands the book more in the territory of optimism than realism, raising issues concerning the responsibilities of gay teen fiction. The ambition of such books is surely to not only give gay teen readers a point of identification and recognition, but also to hopefully attract heterosexual readers, with a view to education and acceptance. Traditionally, such books have often focussed on hardship stories about the difficulties of "coming out" and being accepted. Explorations of these narratives are all well and good; these are issues confronting countless gay teens every day. However there is also scope for other stories within the framework. And more positive and enjoyable tales such as this one will surely attract a wider readership - gay and straight - which can only be a positive thing.

That said, Boy Meets Boy is by no means angst-free - Paul and his friends are teenagers, after all. The novel accurately and warmly explores territory we have all encountered: the awkward, confusing, exciting, anxious steps we take towards true love. And despite the novel's simple expression, light touch and irreverent wit, the story is unexpectedly engrossing and even moving. It is impossible not to be charmed by protagonist Paul, or empathise with his gooeyness toward the object of his affections, quirky dreamboat Noah. Like any good romance creator, Levithan keeps us hanging on every exchange, fretting with every uncertainty and melting with every kiss.

The book doesn't make the mistake of trying to shock or impress with 'gritty' graphic explicitness. The author creates teenage characters without ever having them swear, smoke, drink or take drugs, yet they never seem like sanitised cardboard cut-outs. As at all high-schools, those activities inevitably take place, but they are not part of this story, so we don't hear about them and we don't miss them. Meanwhile, the word sex is barely, if ever, mentioned. In this pleasant universe, tender touches of the hand, disarming smiles and warm kisses are sufficient to get the blood racing, and express the depth of feeling between the two boys. This is particularly pleasing to see as - without having to make a pointed issue of it - the novel makes it clear that homosexual realtionships are a matter of love, not just sex (as so many simplistic homophobic viewpoints would have us believe).

Importantly, despite its sunny optimistic world-view, the book does not completely ignore issues of homophobia and acceptance. These are touched upon via a sub-plot involving Paul's friend Tony - a gay teen from a neighboring town, struggling to be himself in a strict Christian household. Again, Levithan's strength is in his subtlety. Tony's is a gentle rebellion; when he finally decides to make his stand, it is determined but respectful. He defies his family, but does not deny them. The result is much more affecting, both on Tony's conservative parents and on the reader, than any explosive conflict could have been.

In short, Boy Meets Boy is a delightful read. The characters, story and humour win the reader's heart effortlessly, while the incredibly positive atmosphere of Levithan's created universe is defiantly fantastical, but never absurd. The charcaters and their emotions are so real, rich and warm that it is possible to believe - indeed hope - that first loves really can navigate the inevitable obstacles and last forever... and that such an accepting world as this could - and someday will - exist.

4 (out of 5)



08 June, 2005

like absinthe through the shotglass, these are the days of my life

Why, hello there.

Goodness gracious me, it has been an awfully long time since I gave y'all an update on my little life *slack munkey*.

Right off the bat, let me dish out a huge (and hugely belated) congratulations to Cousin Jodi and her partner Mr Mick on the birth of their son Max. The munkey-clan gains another member, and our long-planned domination of the Universe edges a step closer to fruition...

Now, let's cast our minds back to Friday 20th of May, when somethiung else came to fruition: one of my birthday presents from patermunkey! ...going to see Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds live in concert. The band were excellent, energetic and atmospheric. Unfortunately the Festival Hall needs to be rightly renamed Festy Hole, and munkey has no doubt the concert would have been even better if they had played somewhere with better visuals and acoustics; The Palais and The Forum spring to mind.

The following day, after having lunch and an extended chat session avec Ms Snazzles and Mr Ryan among the extraordinarily flirty staff of Sass on Bridge Road, Ms Cait came over to my house for the evening. Patermunkey was away with a workmate watching the F.A. Cup, so it was just munkey, Rye, Snaz and Cait all left to fend for ourselves. *babysitters-club munkeys* We gorged on Red Rooster and played Break The Safe and Harry Potter Uno (with my devilish sister taking particular delight when either Ryan or I was attacked with a Draw 4 card). We then moved onto another of my birthday presents: the highly addictive PC game The Sims. As the night wore on, only Ms Cait and I remained, so we snuggled into our beds - she on the sofa-bed - and slept late the next morning ~ rising just in time to cook some eggs for breakfast before patermunkey came to take Cait home.

During the following week, Mr Ryan and his multitudinous housemates were required to move completely out of their big lovely house, while it is getting renovated. So I helped in what small ways I could, as everything was packed into boxes, and Rye's essentials moved into my little flat for the month. I was able to spend much more time with some of Ryan's housies, especially the insane and lovely Ms Nat with her probing curiosity and highly-addictive laughter. On Saturday 28th I caught up for lunch and chinwag with Mr Adrian which was nice. Considering we work within metres of each other, we really don't see each other often enough. We dined at Wild Oscars, munkey delving into all day breakfast, as usual. *predictable munkey*

By Saturday afternoon, Ryan was all ready to make his Odyssey across Richmond. So we loaded up Oli and moved my exhausted boy into Munkey Towers, where I left him schloofing on the couch, while I rushed off to meet Snazzles, Moodles, Ms Lili et al for the movies, for which I was running frightfully late. After seeing Star Wars (see review, below) we trundled along Victoria St and had a lovely Vietnamese meal at Thy Thy, before I bade my friends adieu and headed home.

Well, Mr Ryan Mac and mindlessmunkey moving in together - even temporarily - may seem a big step... but so-far it's all been quite domestically blissful. *touching-wood munkey* Ryan began his new job in collections at The National, so we're much like a married couple, bidding farewell of a morning... trundling separately off to work... having dinner, drinking wine and watching tv in the evening. I began coming down with a cold during the week, but was determined not to let it take hold. So, I came home from work early, took the next day off, and guzzled Vitamin C tablets like there was no tomorrow.

By Thursday afternoon, I was feeling a bit better, and as Ryan wasn't working till 5, we decided we would go out and finally get him his Learners. A veritable comedy of errors ensued as we meandered back and forth between Camberwell, Richmond and the City, finally collecting all the different bits of ID required for Ryan to get a bit of plastic with his face on it. Finally, with half an hour before Ryan was due at work, he had the card, Oli had L-plates up, and Rye had my keys in his hot little hand! It could be said that driving from Camberwell to King St in peak hour traffic is a rather ambitious first drive for a Learner. But Ryan is a fairly experienced and very enthusiastic driver, and he did very well under pressure.

So, needless to say, Mr Ryan has been driving under munkey's supervision EVERYwhere since. We have driven to Malvern, picked up Ms Nat (who stayed overnight on Friday), visited Ms Nat at work, gone to Queen Vic Markets (via the Western Ring Road!), Clayton, Kensington, Springvale, Kew, Flemington you name it. Ryan and Oli seem to be getting along very well so far. *still-touching-wood munkey*

On Saturday night, after an expensive trip to Chadstone (which included the purchase of 250mL of until-recently-illegal real Czeck absinthe) Rye and myself mosied to the house of Mr Chris Mac. There we indulged in lots of wine, Thai food, and plenty of chat from the superficial to the monumental. Then our bubbly trio trundled off to The Peel. Another gay bar to tick off my list, huzzah! The Peel is fairly laid back and not too posey... it could really be any other alternative, loud musicy bar, if it wasn't for the occasional 6 foot drag-queen, and of course upstairs - which is decked out with gay porn movie lounges and black-painted sex rooms (unoccupied when we were exploring the place, thankfully). Now that may sound quite shocking... but either I'm becoming used to the excesses of the gay scene, or I was very very drunk (or quite possibly both) because it really didn't freak me out. *desensitised munkey* However, needless to say, we spent most of our evening downstairs away from the debauchery. After dancing to much trashy music and drinking much hard liquor, we said adieu to Christopher and left. Rye and I had a rather strange, and very drunken, conversation about sexual-politics and homophobia with our friendly, jolly cab driver, before finding ourselves wasted and happy back at home at last.

And I guess that, lovers and dreamers, brings us apporximately up to speed. Apologies again for the long absense; I shall endeavour to broadcast a little more frequently in the future.
Now, do me (and yourself) a favour: think of someone you love and go give them a big cuddle as soon as possible. There now. Didn't that make you feel nice?

medicine orange, medicine green