Snail Misbehavin’
6 October, 2011

Brave Florida resident, Alice, aged 11, confronts an invading Giant African Snail.

Flee, Floridans! Fire up your mobility scooters and wheely-walkers and flee at your own pace… the Giant African Snails are coming!

Just kidding – they look more like this:

My favourite bit is when the snail gave Mrs Hernandez  a migraine and she had to have a lie down. Really, Mrs Hernandez – after one 13cm snail? I’d love to confront her with a paddock-full of slime mould or a nasty outbreak of feral armpit fungus and see what happens – spontaneous combustion is my working hypothesis.

But it’s not just snails invading Florida. They also have terrible problems with Gambian pouched rats, pink hibiscus mealybugs and Burmese pythons. I know it’s wrong, but that news just makes me want to crate up several thousand cane toads and ship them over to add a bit of hop to the mix.

Still, serious biosecurity issues demand a reasoned response. Stop panicking, Florida. I’ve got several solutions to your “crisis” and so far I’ve only had one cup of coffee:

  1. Slimearama  Start a snail-based takeaway franchise. Sauté in garlic and red wine,  and serve in their own shells. Tastier, healthier and better for the environment than McDeath.
  2. Snail racing  Florida is America’s retirement capital, and seniors appreciate a gentle tempo. Paint numbers on the side of their shells, raise State revenue by taking bets on the… erm, sliders, close off a few main roads and let them rip. Hell, you could start a whole snail racing carnival. Fascinator sales would skyrocket.
  3. Exploit the Food Chain  Feed the pink hibiscus mealybugs and giant African snails to the Gambian pouched rats. The plumped-up pouchies may then be offered to the Burmese pythons. Sated and bloated, the pythons should make easy targets. Skin the pythons and make orthopaedic shoes, or colostomy bag covers.

Florida, no need to thank me – just send me a pair of python slingbacks, size 8.


Valley of the Shadowy Pee
16 September, 2011

Steampunk Urinal: somebody is taking the piss

It seems that Brisbane’s favourite nightclub and random glassing by inebriated strangers precinct has a wee problem:

People are going out, going hard and then… well, just going wherever they feel like it. A Mr Mergard said the problem was so bad that “There is a toilet in which people urinate outside and people inside get urinated on.” Don’t worry too much about that one, Mr Mergard –  I think it’s in The Beat, and the patrons actually like it that way.

Other instances of public tinkling are non-consensual, however, and it’s a bigger problem than you might think. Up to 30 people a day are being fined under a Police public nuisance blitz. 30 a day? Makes you wonder how many caught-short scoff-laws are whizzing undetected.

Not to worry, though, I’ve come up with some workable solutions:

The Garden Bed 

Just pop bunches of these little beauties, in a circular formation, at regular intervals down the Brunswick street mall.  No need to weed!
Heritage Pissing
These are a personal favourite. Shame that ‘Monastery’ is now closed, but there are still a number of operational and converted churches in the Valley that would be enhanced by an open-air installation of gargoyle pissoirs. I’d also like to see several rows of them against the flats they built on the old Cathedral site, in memory of the Vatican pinching all the money raised for building on that block.
Go-Go Glowsticks
An idea derived by this charming invention for those caught short on the golf course. Just increase the volume and, erm, calibre of the average glowstick, include a screw-on lid, and voila! Rave on, hipsters.

Derp and the Boxing Kangaroo
27 July, 2011

I love the Courier Mail – better known, to a whimsical friend, as the Curious Snail. There’s often sniggers to be had. Sure, most of the laughs come from misuse of the beleaguered apostrophe, abuse of grammar or complete clause failure than from any attempted comedic content. Still, a chuckle’s a chuckle, in these troubled times.

However, in commenting on poor literature you might think they’d be extra careful to get things spot on. And you’d be wrong. Behold, the link to the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

“Think you’re writing is bad?” (as derped on the pre-dawn home page of the e-edition, 27/07/2011 – one can only hope they will have fixed it up by the time the normal world wakes up.)

Luckily, the derp link leads to some absolute gems. Like the first prize winner, a woman from Oshkosh, whose opening sentence reads, “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.” What a shame she didn’t take the opportunity to work the name of her home-town in somewhere.

Meanwhile, another link leads us to the tragic tale of Eddie, a red kangaroo who nearly killed a 94 year old woman in Charleville. She was hanging out her washing… has anyone else noticed, old ladies who are attacked and nearly killed are always hanging out their washing just prior to the assault. Bugger set-top boxes – if the Federal Government gave every woman over 80 a tumble dryer they’d slash assault rates to next to nothing and free up hospital beds, too.

Anyway, just like most delinquents, turns out poor Eddie comes from a broken home and has been misunderstood. Hand-raised by wildlife carers, he was released into the wild only to break a hip. Unfit to fend for himself, he’s been living in captivity. The man “minding” Eddie – the evocatively named Darryl “Dobbo” Dobbin – claims he’s gentle and tame. Dobbo also reckoned he has no idea who left the gate open, allowing Eddie to escape.

Two things spring to mind. Firstly, for a disability support pensioner Eddie is fit enough to rip strips off an innocent laundry lady. Secondly, is it just me or does this story sound eerily familiar? I’m pretty sure the mother of that kid who tried to steal a bike, winding up bashed by the bike’s lawful owner for his trouble made identical comments about her son. Down to the doubt about whose fault it was that he was out at night, breaking into people’s houses to steal their bikes (allegedly).

Still, the Courier Mail could misspell their own masthead and I’d be back for more. They’re much more fun when they get it wrong than when they allegedly get it right.

Croc Up
9 May, 2011

Woo-wow: chomps hell out of the traditional flowers and champagne if you want to score with women

It has come to my attention that certain, other than lady-like, members of The Lounge feel not only marginalised but also terrified by our free and frank discussions. Shame. Here’s one for the boys, then; or, as I call them, in a spirit of equality and compassion, the chromosomally-challenged:

A would-be Don Juan in Chicago, Illinois… birthplace of the Blues Brothers and death-bed of the American car industry… has been charged with possession of a dangerous animal by unfeeling Cook County sheriff’s investigators who seized his four-foot alligator.

Poor 43-year-old Dewayne Yarbrough kept his pet… name unknown, let’s call him Snappy… in a small tank in his kitchen, feeding it only 10 live mice a month in an effort to restrict its size. I hate to keep calling Snappy “it”, but my extensive research has failed to reveal its gender. I like to think he is a male gator, although the phrase “hung like a gator” has not entered the common idiom for good reason, I fear.

So, the score is Cupid love, rock-hearted Animal Control Officers fifteen and the Animal Welfare League plans to pass Snappy to the Chicago Herpetological Society.

What I’d really love to know is – who dogged (should that be crocked?) Dewayne to the cops: an underwhelmed young miss who freaked out at a failed reptilian seduction… or a jealous love rival, perhaps endowed only with a Children’s Python with which to woo the laideez?

Hop Stopped
6 March, 2011

On yet another of my forays to the hardware shop – yes, I believe the long-suffering blokes at our local Mitre 10 are sick to death of me; rumour has it they’re clubbing together to buy me a Bunnings gift-card – I was thrilled to discover a can of HopStop.

HopStop is a humane toad-killer in aerosol form, invented by some clever scientists in Canberra:

Despite my deep and abiding hatred of toads, I don’t quite have the bloodlust – or the swing – to club them to death. We’ve tried the freezer method, but I’m uncomfortable turning my kitchen into death row. Having read about the HopStop release I was eager to give it a burl.

The next day the boys tore around the side of the house, whooping with delight. They’d found a pair of toads in the bucket under the tap.

“They were mating.” Magic Man said, a little wistful for the soon-to-be-blighted next generation of toadlets.

“Fabulous.” I replied “With one spray we can effectively eradicate hundreds!”

Over-turning the bucket, we watched the big male hop away at the first sign of trouble. I shook the can and passed it to Magic Man, who’d volunteered as Chief Executioner. He sprayed the toad – a small to medium sized female – for the few seconds recommended on the can. There was no olfactory evidence of the refreshing lemon scent the manufacturers promised – but nor did we reel back choking up our lung linings as you tend to with bathroom cleaner.

The toad took a few hops, then stopped. Could it really be as simple as that? Not quite. Using scientific methods – a few pokes with the end of his home-made bamboo spear – Magic Man determined that our victim was still extant.

A second, five to six second spray did the trick.The toad writhed away, making paddling motions with it’s back legs.

“Poor thing, it thinks it’s swimming in the dirt.” said Elf Boy

Satisfied that our prey was suffering terminal neurological compromise, we turned out attentions elsewhere. The next day I came back with a plastic bag to act as undertaker, lobbing it in the bin.

Verdict: Win for HopStop, but not quite the quick, painless death advertised. I’d recommend an eight to ten second spray for the average adult. Toad, that is – but I’m sure there’s a market for ex-husband spray, scientists, if you’re reading this. HopStop is easier and much less gory than clubbing toads to death. Unlike the freezer method, you don’t have to handle them while they’re live and squirming – or  risk forgetting about them, mistaking them for a couple of chops and defrosting at a later date.

Reasonable value at 19.95 a can and it’s always good to support Australian scientists. A few caveats, though: HopStop will kill bees, plants and native frogs,  so don’t go carpet bombing the backyard.

Land of the Sinking Sun
6 January, 2010

Japanese whalers are said to have sunk one of the protest fleet. A “stealth boat” tender. Obviously, I wasn’t in the Antarctic, and don’t know for sure. But how can scuttling boats be regarded as part of a scientific mission? How many people have to die, as well as cetaceans, before the slaughter stops?

Act. Now.