Is Jeff Lynne your favourite Travelling Wilbury? Don't you just wish you would hear Chris Rea's 'Let's Dance' just once an actual dance floor? Do you wish that James Taylor was your real Dad? Meet FEMBOTanist!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New Intelligent Falling Theory

The Onion

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

TOPEKA, KS-Evangelical physicists are now asserting that objects fall because a higher power is pushing them down.

Meet Beefcake.

Beefcake is my friend Nikki's cat.

Beefcake likes cuddles, wearing jumpers and chasing patterns on blankets around Turnpike Lane.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fun with jetlag!

Compare and contrast the flattering versus unflattering filters on Photobooth.




...Not slimming.




For Wes.

Hotter than hot chicken on a hot day in Nashville.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Trying to fit in with all of the smiling, happy Londoners.

Customary librarian sequence.

Nectar of the Gods.

Taking one for Matt Simpson.

Taking one for the team.

Tequila suicides! (snort the salt, drink the shot, lemon in the eye)

Thursday, July 26, 2007


It was a split second decision over three months ago to book return flights to Nashville from Chicago. This decision was made even easier by the fact that Morrissey was playing in Alabama on the weekend in question, and I would be able to visit Dave’s sister Jess in Cookeville and Wes in Nashville. I knew it would be fun just to visit Jess and Wes, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy my time in Tennessee. If someone told me I would be weeping at Nashville airport when I boarded the plane back to Chicago, I would have been as shocked as a red-blooded female at a Morrissey concert after his third shirt removal for the evening (but perhaps slightly less aroused).

Arriving in Nashville, I was greeted by Wes at the airport, who I recognized instantly despite having never met. This disappointed me a little, as I was looking forward to a bit of suspicious eye narrowing when trying to recognize each other. Wes made me instantly feel welcome and proceeded to give me the drive by tour of every fast food outlet in town, just as I had requested. Before I knew it, I was being whisked to Sonic for dinner, where I supped upon not but the finest cheeseburger, and imbibed not but the most exquisite Route 44 sized cherry lime soda. The beauty of Sonic is that you can just pull up your car and order through a microphone, and the staff brings the food to you. The only energy you burn before eating is the single joule required to power your hand into your wallet and pay for your food.


Second Dinner.

After our classy dinner, Wes, his wife Megan and I hit some of the local bars. It was here that I was introduced to drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, the VB of the southern states. Wes and I had the bright idea that by taking Chaser pills (supposed hangover preventing vitamins from Walgreens) we were immune to things like extra shots and nightcap margaritas in the backyard at 3AM.

Turns out that the chasers do nothing!

The following morning we both felt a little worse for wear, so we decided to head to the Waffle House for a greasy breakfast. Upon hitting the interstate, we were immediately trapped in traffic that soon came to a complete standstill. The reason? Dubya was in town, and apparently this was more important than our need for waffles this instant. It was at this moment that I realized freedom isn’t free. Osama Bin Laden would have been overjoyed at the site of us trapped on the exit waiting for Bush to pass us by. If Wes Robinson cannot eat waffles at the exact time of his choosing, then the terrorists have already won.

Waffle house is one of those places that hasn’t changed in any way since sometime in the early eighties, and should be protected like an old growth rainforest. There is always a waitress on her break at the end of the counter, and she is always, always, smoking. Our waitress was fantastic. For those of you who worked at the cinema with me, think Pat from the candy bar. Everything from her coral eye shadow to her amazing southern accent was brilliant. She was 150 years old if she was a day, and she still had the patience to fetch me a paper Wafflehouse hat on request. When she found out I was from Australia, she walked over the jukebox and used her own quarter (or did she just punch it, Fonzie style?) to play me the official Wafflehouse theme song.

Wes insisted on dining in style.

Unfortunately, even a greasy waffle with a side of cheese-covered hash browns wasn’t enough to fix our little red wagons of nausea.

So once again, I spent the following day sampling the best restrooms to vomit in that the interstate had to offer. At least this time I had a fellow passenger to join me on the porcelain express. We had a three-hour drive to Alabama for Morrissey, and despite vomiting blue Gatorade for most of the day, we made it to Birmingham intact and were able to enjoy the show. Morrissey was fabulous, and so was his support act Christeen Young. The three of us decided to stay over in Birmingham and were upgraded to the honeymoon suite, so made the most of it by eating a wide variety of potato chips in bed later that evening.

Hello, Breakfast.

The next day, Wes drove me to Cookeville to stay with Jess and her husband Holly. I’ve heard so much about Cookeville as Dave lived there for three years before we met. It really is a lovely town, and I was soon taken on the driving tour, including the rotating cowboy, pink elephant and Dave’s old house (Taco Bell). Jess was the perfect host, taking me to all of the cultural highlights I requested, like the Walmart gun section and the Dairy Queen. The highlight of Cookeville has seeing Holly’s band Fatmandrool play at the Hawg Barn. Again, just like Waffle House, there wasn’t a single visual clue at the Hawg Barn to tell me that it wasn’t 1982. I did hear someone say the word ‘ipod’ early in the night, but otherwise, we were in some kind of glorious time machine. The Pabst Blue Ribbon was icy cold and $1.75 a bottle. The band was great too, and should totally tour Australia, setting red ‘long John’ wearing trends as they go.

Trying to capture the background scene.


Anyway, now I’m back I Chicago, and will be flying out to London in a couple of hours. London – where I have just been informed Pabst Blue Ribbon is no longer available.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Please a check my...... medical a bracelet.

The conference is now over, and was overall a pretty good experience for me. It was fun – a little slow to start with but I really enjoyed the poster session and met some other paeleobotanists who were lovely. The third day fossil talks were all Cenozoic, and I felt a sense of kinship not unlike what attending your first Star Trek convention must feel like. It felt good to be amongst ones own.

So on Wednesday morning after finishing up and pulling our posters down, we made our way back to our hostel to pack up and prepare to move on. Stuart was flying onto London the next day, and Lizzie and I needed to pick up our hire car early in the morning and Drive to Carbondale in southern Illinois.

At Around 7pm, we decided that we were hungry and should have ‘one last quick drink’ at Hamilton’s, the bar around the corner from the hostel. We counted on a bowl of cheese fries and a pint before resuming the tri-missionary position and falling asleep at around 9.30pm. What we didn’t count on was running into every single person we had met at both our hostel and the Dawghaus café where we had coffee every morning.

The following sequence says more than words could ever say.


We all ended up at The Anvil, a great bar where we met many wonderful new people who were more than willing to provide us with all of the colours to drink. After many hours of Kath and Kim impersonations (VERY popular around these parts), we said our final goodbyes to our new friends and returned to our lodgings. I drank what I considered an adequate amount of water before hitting the hay.

Suffice to say, water levels were deemed not to be adequate on awakening. Apparently one good spew isn’t enough to cleanse ones body of the previous evenings poisons these days. In fact, if you eat Buffalo wings with hot sauce and spend a night out on the town, whatever enzymes driving the digestion reaction forward must somehow be inhibited. Instead of describing exactly what happened in the bathroom to me many, many times that day, I will instead attempt a chemical equation for the reaction that didn’t take place.


Buffalo wings + Hot sauce + Protease = firm stool + water


Buffalo wings + Hot sauce + 17 DRINKS = (Buffalo wings + Hot sauce)²

Two hours passed in the foyer of the hostel like two minutes. We thought we were going to die, but after a particularly good vomit I was able to convince Lizzie that I was okay to get to our rental company. After bidding Stuart farewell (who on the way to O’Hare had to vomit out of a taxi door) we got a cab into the city to get the car. After lingering at garbage can for a little to long, I rushed into Hertz and was able to extract the staff toilet key from the woman before loosing every last drop of moisture from my body. We were given the keys to our Subaru liberty, and hit the road as a pair of dried out husks. Despite the fact that Lizzie couldn’t move her neck and I couldn’t talk, she drove and I navigated our way along the mean streets of Chicago and onto the Dan Ryan expressway. Luckily, we were on the mend soon enough and ended up having a great drive after the Tylenol, MacDonald’s and coffee kicked in. Witnessed cornfield after cornfield, and generally marveled at the towns we passed through. I will never scoff at Caroline Springs ever again after seeing street after street of the same fucking house devoid of all personality (actually, yes I will – Caroline Springs can still suck my balls).

We were almost back to 100% when we hit Carbondale where our luxurious motel room was like arriving home after a 24-hour flight. Our host in Carbondale was fantastic, and we were taken out for a delicious Midwestern BBQ dinner, where we both subtly drank 14 cokes each to regain our strength.

The next morning we were shown around the local university and taken to see the sights around town. It’s a really gorgeous area, so green and lush. To a couple of botanists from Australia, the ‘bush’ in the USA just looks so strange – like it’s some kind of cultivated garden instead of a perfectly planned collection of species that have never evolved and have always been there thanks to the Divine Creator.

Anyways, around lunchtime I was unfortunate enough to develop a migraine headache. I haven’t had one for years, so it was probably something to do with the Native American burial ground were traipsing all over. I took some pills and decided to fight through it, but I was green around the gills by the time we were passing the Taco bell. So for the eleventy-hundredth time in 24 hours, I vomited in a public restroom. After that, our very kind host took me to his very kind sisters house who let me crash out on her couch for a few hours. Talk about hospitality – I introduced myself by saying “Hi, I’m Emma, and I’m going to vomit in your toilet now…”

Two hours later and I was feeling much better, so after an icecream at the Dairy Queen, Lizzie and I could drive on to St Louis, or as we like to call it ‘the Tullamarine of Southern Illinois’. After getting quite lost and stopping for directions, we were fairly pooped and were tempted to eat at Denny’s next to our motel. That was until we found directions to the nearest ‘Outback Steakhouse’…

If anyone out there is after the least Australian experience (cliché or otherwise) on planet earth, please visit the Outback Steakhouse. We are completely convinced that not a single employee has ever met or even heard the voice of an Australian. We were after a bit of a laugh at the tacky décor, silly menu items and if we were lucky, a poor impersonation of Crocodile Dundee. What we got was service provided as if it was a recorded message – no matter how many times we told them that we were Australian or tried to engage them in small talk the waiters had no idea what we were talking about. They didn’t even know what I meant when I showed them my ‘coalition of the willing and PROUD!!!” tattoo. Or my George Bush shaped birthmark. There wasn’t even a ‘Kangaroos next 10km’ sign on the wall. Just the odd Tina Arena song on the stereo. For shame.

After a hollow experience like that, we were on the road early and ready for more cornfields. How can the world need so much corn? It’s incredible. Here are some corny highlights.

Even Cowgirls get the blues... on the wrong side of the road.

"Delicious corn. Haven't had that in a while."

The Bloomin' onion. Traditional Aussie tucker mate.

"I love you Thelma. I love you Louise..."

Heading to Nashville on Wednesday for more superfun with super friends. I’m having the best time, and I want you to know that you are all dead to me now.




Monday, July 09, 2007

This must be just like living in paradise.

After a ‘Die Hard’ length day in transit across the Specific Ocean, I arrived in Chicago on Monday night a little crunchy around the gills but otherwise fine. It was a pretty good flight as far as twenty four hours moving between airports and airplanes go. On the way to LA I had a great seat at the rear of the plane that was so close to the toilet that I barely had to move in order to evacuate, allowing me to drink approximately 3000 liters of water. I shared a row with a mum, dad, three year old and a one year old but was hardly bothered by the continual tantrums and weeping. I was too busy watching movies and episodes of Extras that are still of pants pooing quality the fourth time around. I also managed to catch a John Farnham concert from the early nineties, which naturally I found to be TOTALLY FUCKEN GROUSE MATE. I’m sure I was the only person in the world at that moment to be hurtling at 900 km per hour 31,000 feet above the earth’s surface and being barely able to contain full body tapping as I watched The Voice pumping out his touching rendition of ‘Take the Pressure Down’.

At the end of the flight as we were preparing to exit the plane, I turned to the parents next to me and commented that even though I hadn’t slept a wink, “The flight had gone pretty fast, hadn’t it?” Their dead eyes and crumpled, child-weary faces said it all – easy words indeed from a single 25 year old whose main responsibility for the flight revolved around maintaining lip moisture with lip gloss.

After clearing customs at LA and heading to the American Airlines terminal for my Chicago flight, the fatigue really began to kick in. Despite my efforts to erect a personal bubble exclusion zone with ear plugs and an eye mask, I was soon tapped on the shoulder by the elderly American woman beside me. Upon hearing the dreaded “would you like a chocolate coated peppermint?” I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping at all on that leg of my journey and so began to silently weep tears of rich arterial blood. However, being kept awake with sentences that started with the likes of “I’m a Republican – not that it matters, but…” for two hours allowed me to take in some of the Road Runner-esque scenery passing us by as we crossed the dessert. That baby Jebus sure knew how to create himself a dessert all those 5000 years ago. Really, Australian desserts should be at least 23% more pointy and at least 45% more plateau-licious.

Stepping of the train platform in Chicago thirty hours after my alarm went off in Melbourne, I was greeted by Stuart and Lizzie who were able to photograph the sheer relief on my face as I stepped through the doors.

Sorry to the Melbournians suffering through winter, but I must say that the weather in Chicago is truly spectacular. It’s 25-30 degrees with blue skies and those white fluffy clouds you just don’t see in Melbourne that much anymore (I think they might have water in them). Lake Michigan is Alpine cigarette commercial aquamarine when we sit and watch it every morning from the vantage of our café. The gardens and lawns are lush and green, and most streets are brightly colored with flowers.

We have spent the last few days relaxing and visiting the different neighborhoods. One of the most satisfying activities is walking into the Walgreen’s drugstore and seeing just how many seconds it takes me to develop Bell’s palsy with excitement. The cheap and oh so deliciously unfamiliar candy. The less than half-price beauty products, and Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah, the off-the-shelf pain killers. This must be just like living in PARADISE. I actually teared up in isle three this afternoon when I was able to purchase cocoa butter, two mascaras, a bronzer, a soap box, deep heat, sleeping pills (with a “TRY ME I’M $2!!” label), pain killers, a notepad and two chocolate bars for a measly $33 US dollars. You couldn’t buy that much with $100 at Priceline in Melbourne. Unfortunately, Stu and Lizze won’t let me take a box of sleeping pills followed by a box of AWAKE! Just to see what happens. Amy Lewis, if you want to save heaps on anal bleaching and moustache removal, just ask and I’ll be able to hook you up with some ma$$ive a$$ $aving$.

And please – don’t even get me started on the supermarkets. We keep making late night reconnaissance trips to photograph hilarious bakery items such as 7UP cake and Elvis Presley flavored banana and peanut butter Reeces Peeces.


Aside from the dizzying highs associated with the actual act of consuming and dreaming of future products I may like to purchase, Chicago is a truly awesome city just to walk around in. I love jumping on the train and getting off wherever looks interesting. The beauty of the above ground train is that you can usually spot an interesting street thirty seconds before the train stops. Just listening to the conversations of local residents is almost entertainment enough. Chicagonites (I just made up a word, didn’t I?) are incredibly polite and friendly people, which sits very well with my ‘no retreat – no surrender’ manners policy. Dining around town has been fun and is always an eye opener in the USA wherever you go. The food is always hilarious and surprisingly good considering that many of the meals I have enjoyed have been listed on menus alongside such treats as ‘Biscuits and Gravy with Pork Chop’ as seen on a breakfast menu yesterday.

The conference is in two days and seems more and more like going to school in the middle of a holiday, but I’m sure it will be a good experience and very inspirational for us all. Now where did I put my glasses with the eyes painted on…