The Brown Rock

I always hated the Bionic Cools. My kids loved them, of course, but I always thought they were really stupid. Especially the movies. Oh my gosh, those movies were abysmal. The animation was enough to make a grown man’s eyes bleed. The story was so weak and the characters were bland. It was all just an elaborate marketing campaign for the toys, which children would obviously fall for. I’m sad to say that my own kids were no exception. They didn’t want to collect Beanie Children, no. It was all Bionic Cools in our house.

So that’s why it kind of sucks that I’ve been turned into one of those terrible plastic toys. And of course I’m the one with the power to control rocks or something. What a lame character. He was always my least favourite.

I don’t really know what happened. One moment I was thinking about how I’d like to get kitchen renovation sometime, to increase the value of my home. Then, as I was walking across the room, I tripped on something stuck in the ground. When I composed myself and had a look at it, I saw a strange brown stone. I touched it and underwent this weird transformation. My flesh melted away and my bones turned to plastic.

What a terrible day.

And it’s not like I knew I had the power to control rocks or anything, so I accidentally destroyed my kitchen with it. Everywhere I walk, the foundations of my house spring up and crack. I may have to find a kitchen design business within Melbourne to help me fix it up. And by fixing it up, I mean building a new kitchen because this one is destroyed beyond repair, surely.

Why couldn’t I have been turned into a Lay Go character instead? Those are way better than Bionic Cools. But no, it seems I’m stuck like this. What a day.

– Rocky Reggie

Obtaining Glass

I’ve always wondered what the process is for making glass. I assume it’s nothing like in the video game Craft a Mine, where you take a bucket of sand to the tallest volcano in the land, sacrifice thirty-two goats and fight a dragon-bull. Once the dragon-bull is defeated, you may present your bucket of sand to the Volcano Goddess, who rubs it with her magical hands, drinks the sand and turns the bucket into glass in thanks. I know, it’s really weird.

I think the process in the video game Terra Area makes a lot more sense. If you want to obtain commercial glazing for your town, you have to venture out to the dungeon and slay the giant skeleton boss who has four arms and shoots lasers from his eyes. Once he’s dealt with, you have to travel deep underground and obtain an item known as the strange keystone, which holds the spirit of an ancient spectre. You bring that back to town and trade it for a glazier summoner. Once you use that, the local glazier will move into your town and you can buy glass from them.

I said that it made more sense, not that it was logical.

All these video games with glass have made me wonder what the process is like in the real world. If I wanted to make some glass balustrades for the Melbourne area, what would I do? Is it as simple as talking to a tradesman and having them install one? That seems a bit too easy. And where do they get the glass from? Do they get trucks to pick it up at the beach, then drive to a factory with all these furnaces where they turn it into glass? How do they purify it so the glass isn’t all grainy like the sand? And then how do they shape it? There isn’t much about it that makes sense to me, but then again, it’s not like I’ve done any research. Maybe one day I’ll go to a glass factory and find out what they do.

– Janet

Auto King’s Man

I was shaking as I entered the Auto King’s lair, knowing things couldn’t go well for me. I hated being the messenger, especially when I had to deliver bad news. 

The Auto King was lifted high in the air, currently being worked on by a team of professional mechanics. It seemed like they were giving him a full suspension service. The slick black car looked down at me and frowned. 

“What is it, Nathaniel?” he asked.

I tried to slow my breathing and stop the trembling but had no luck. My voice shook as I spoke. “My lord, I’m afraid to inform you that Operation Sneaky Fighters has failed. Somebody found out about it and single-handedly destroyed the base. Rufus was found there. He is dead, my lord.”

The Auto King was contemplative for a moment. “Is our plan to take control of all Ringwood automotive services still intact?”

“It is,” I said. “Do you want to go forward? It’s a dangerous plan without the sneaky fighters there to help manage it.”

The plan involved taking control of all the auto shops so that every sentient car would be exposed to our campaign for autocracy. With all the sentient cars thinking about it, either consciously or subconsciously, they’d be more likely to join our resistance and our fight against the Church of the Tinted Flock. 

“Do it,” said the Auto King. “I don’t want there to be any vehicle inspections within Ringwood or its surrounding suburbs without our influence. It is crucial that this part of the plan works, with or without the sneaky fighters there to help. Do not fail me again, Nathaniel.”

I bowed low and retreated out of the room, my hands still shaking. When the Auto King got mad, he kind of reminded me of Dark Invader, the villain from the Space Battles movies. But at his core, the Auto King was a good guy. He had to be, right? Because I definitely wasn’t one of the bad guys or serving one of them. Autocracy was what the world needed, not democracy with humans. We were the good guys. Right?

Great Auto Conspiracy

I was going to get to the bottom of this conspiracy, even if it was the end of me. I didn’t care if I lived to tell people the truth. I just wanted to know what was actually going on. What did space flight engineers have to do with car repair? Why had I been mysteriously sent a note saying to find a mechanic in space? 

My latest lead brought me to a mechanic workshop in Brighton, where everything seemed perfectly normal. I entered the reception with a shortsword on my hip and an automatic crossbow in each hand. The receptionist almost leapt out of her seat, so shocked to see me. After a moment she recomposed herself.

“Is this a Brighton auto electrical shop that offers services in space?” I asked.

The woman wiped her brow and seemed relieved. “You’re here for the tryouts, then? Want to be one of the Auto King’s space crew? You were supposed to bring your own lab equipment, but I suppose what you have there will do for now. Head on in.”

So the Auto King was behind this, huh? He was building an army of science bandits for some nefarious purpose. That explained why this whole operation was in Tasmania, and why they needed car workshops involved. If the Auto King needed tyre replacement around Brighton, he could come straight here. And if they needed transportation through the Bass Strunnel for their crew of lab staff, it only made sense to enlist some workshops.

The receptionist pointed me through the back door, and I headed there without thinking it through further. I’d already come this far. No turning back now. Somehow, I had to destroy the Auto King’s army. And it seemed I was doing so from the inside.

I hoped it wouldn’t take too long. My wife was going to have dinner ready in twenty minutes, so I had to dismantle this operation quickly and head home. This definitely wasn’t how I expected my day to pan out, I’ll admit.

Challenge Accepted

I’m so glad that Bandit is feeling better. We had to continue with our work while he recovered in the hyperbaric chamber, cleaning all the sewers of Melbourne so that we could stop Evil Space Wizard from destroying the entire city. Today we received a letter in the mail from said evil wizard from space. He’s challenged us to a final battle back where this whole thing started: the suburb of Sweden, where Australia’s Next Top Office was filmed. If we defeat Evil Space Wizard, he won’t be able to hurt anyone like that good looking rogue, Bandit, anymore. If he wins, though, this city is doomed.

It will be strange to go back to Sweden. By now, we should have been finishing our best efforts at office interior design. Melbourne residents would be watching the show on Not Flicks, wondering who was going to win. It would have been amazing. Archerak would have kept cheating through his magic. Jack Zebraman would have brought charisma to the cast. Bandit and the non-evil Space Wizard would have continued to make an awesome team. We would have made some awesome offices. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Maybe once this is all over, we’ll get together to design some commercial office fitouts around Melbourne for fun. We could even work together. I’m sure that would be really cool.

Space Wizard has a plan to stop his evil clone, which is good news since he’s super powerful. We need Bandit back, though. He’s essential to our plan, with his glass smashing abilities. Hopefully, he’s feeling up to it. He doesn’t need to heal in the hyperbaric chamber anymore, but I’m not sure he’s ready for such a big showdown. It’s not like we have much of a choice, though. This is the fate of Melbourne we’re talking about. I’m sure he’ll be fine. If he can achieve some of the best office designs I’ve ever seen, he can help us save the city.

– Ms Frankie

Cyber Mechanics Go

Now that we’ve officially made it to the fabled realm known as ‘the future’, I have one question. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with hoverboards – from time to time, I do wonder what’s holding those up, but I wouldn’t bother putting forward questions about it. No, what I want to know is this: in the present day and age, are auto service centres an essential service? Or are they a luxury?

Now, before you answer, consider that there are people who don’t hold the same opinion as you. How do I know this? I’ve spoken to people on both sides of the fence, and many of them feel quite strongly about it. At first, it seemed self-evident to me that this type of service is indeed essential, and I was quite vocal about that, only to be argued down by a cyclist friend who insisted that anything to do with motor vehicles is a luxury. That then seemed like the obvious position.

But then an indignant neighbour, who’s an ambulance driver, countered that point with the smart-sounding quip that ‘necessity is determined moment by moment’. Now I don’t know what to believe. Maybe it is all relative. For example, in Toorak, car service is less necessary than it is in Alice Springs. At the end of the day, it probably still counts as a luxury even in the desert, but I guess that’s arguable depending on what you need to get done.

Why am I so hung up on this, you ask? Well, it all started after I had a lengthy chat with a particularly gruff mechanic near Glen Iris a couple of months back. He seemed to be deep into some conspiracy theories about global pandemics, and was adamant that business as we know it would irrevocably change sometime this year. As a result, he was pretty grim about his job prospects, which is how I got talking to him in the first place – as a barber, this is the sort of stuff people bring up with you.

Anyway, this guy has another appointment coming up this week, and I feel I need know where I stand on this issue by then.

Fruit for Hair

Alright, so one of my experiments might have gone a little bit wrong, unleashing hordes of dude-bro clones into the world. However, they are all really nice, and very friendly, and they can be reset remotely which I have done. But that’s still not enough for these people.

They said it was a “blight on humanity” and I “shouldn’t be playing with lives” and now I’m locked in here researching hair treatments. How common. Well, they’ll see. They’ll ALL see. With my mastery of biology, I’ll discover the best hair treatments in all of Melbourne, nay, all the world. My hair will be so soft, so silky smooth, that I can make people do whatever I want because they’ll want their hair to feel this good. Haha!

Anyway. Hairdressers using Aveda is quite a popular trend at the moment, so that works as a basis. People love fruit, and they love the word ‘extract’ when it comes to slathering things onto themselves, so we’re going to need fruit extract. Essence of pineapple might not actually do anything for you, in terms of hair growth or nourishment, but it does mix quite well with most hair products and it’ll make you smell quite lovely. This reminds me of a conversation I had with Chad Prime right after her was reset and gained an interest in hair products. He swore up and down that acai extract was the best thing for stimulating healthy hair growth and reviving damaged and split ends, and I had to explain to him that you can’t actually repair damaged hair, acai isn’t even as good for weight loss as people think, let alone restoring hair, and he’s actually not a real person. He was quite crestfallen at the thought of it: acai, not the superfood that everyone promises? Preposterous!

The reset went as planned, though. They’re being left alone for now, no doubt finding hair salons for appointments in Melbourne and all around, swapping clothes shopping tips and auditioning for amateur theatre productions, while I’m stuck in here, seeing if I can improve hair products by adding durian fruit.

And no, you definitely can’t. Durian is straight-up nasty, man.

-Professor T

Procrastination Woes

It’s time to put the recycling out. I know this for sure because it’s currently spilling all over the floor, so really, it was time to put the recycling out several days ago. What is wrong with me, seriously? I’d actually taken my unemployment pretty well up until now. It was going to be an opportunity to get stuff done around the house, shift into a different career, maybe go on a trip if I was frugal enough.

But instead, I’m mired in the swamp of procrastination. Guess I just need the routine of getting up every morning and going to the office…or wherever. Good to know for life. Though I did manage to catch a documentary yesterday that gave me pause. It started off talking about commercial LED lighting, so I left it on because I was trying to sleep and it sounded dull enough to get me there. But then it turned out to be interesting, funnily enough- the scientific principles of LED lighting are actually pretty cool once you take away all the surface stuff- and then it sort of blended into a documentary about automation in both business and home.

So here’s me wishing I had a robotic butler to take out the recycling, but then they let people test a special automated home for sixty days and they turned out just terrible. Everything was done for them: cooking, cleaning, washing…they never even had to turn on the lights. They had special LED lights that adjusted to location and brightness, with no manual setting. At the end of the sixty days, the people inside were bored stiff and just desperately wanted to wash a dish, or iron a shirt.

Kinda sucks because I’ve forgotten everything I learned about industrial LED lighting solutions, so maybe I can catch the documentary again. Still, maybe I should be grateful that I have to take out the recycling and turn the lights on and off myself. Keeps us all sane, apparently. Thanks, lighting!


Undercover Knitting

So far, so good; no one at the knitting club suspects that I’m actually under 65. I just love knitting so much that I lied on my application form. Feels terrible, but hey, I just want to say that I’m the victim here. Essentially, everyone is silently saying that I look older than I am. Thanks for THAT everyone. And an age limit for these kinds of things is just silly anyway.

I almost blew it the other day by displaying a certain level of mastery over technology. You see, they were all complaining about the lack of proper central ducted heating. Canberra community centres can be rather tight with their budgets and they don’t always stretch to heating. The heating just wasn’t good enough for their ailing selves, and they need an extra warm setting. I pointed out that they now make heating units with a number of settings, as well as some that have smart technology that detects exactly the right temperature level to maintain. Everyone looked at me like I’d just grown a third head, and I had to back out by saying that I’d heard about it on AM radio. That seemed to allay some of the suspicions, but they’ll be watching me closely from now on, their keen eyes observing over their knitting needles.

I don’t even know that much about technology! I only knew about central heating because we had it installed last month. I agree with the general sentiment; the traditional heating units just don’t really cut it sometimes. We asked the nice man in the shop, and he said that heating repair companies in Canberra were currently very busy with upgrading units to smarter technology. It’s a revolution, he said.

Next time, I’ll just say I read it in the Trumpeting Moon. I don’t know for sure, but I THINK that might be a newspaper that elderly people read. It definitely has a tech section, so…I need to familiarise myself.


Haircuts Are Relaxing

I wish I could get my hair cut every single week. As in, I wish I had magical Rapunzel hair that made that feasible. It would get cut, and then grow back in a day or two…is that Rapunzel? I’m not good with remembering things. I thought it was Rapunzel who rappelled down a tower using her hair and then saved the Mad Hatter’s dinner party. I’m gonna say I’m about 80% sure on that one.

Hair appointments are just relaxing, in a way that nothing else is. I have all of my hair salon appointments in South Melbourne mapped out, going to different places so they don’t think that I’m weird, even though that’s the truth.

My running theory is that I don’t really control much in my life, and I’m SUPER bad at relaxing. I’m full of nervous energy, and I don’t even like to just sit and watch Neat-Flicks when I’m at home. I’ll watch Neat-Flicks, to be sure, but I won’t do it in a relaxed way. I’ll carry my laptop around and watch while I’m washing the dishes, doing the laundry…anything on my feet. Sometimes I just put my laptop on the chair and stand up, do some jogging on the spot, stretches…so long as I’m not sitting down, I’m golden. Well, not golden. It’s really bad that I can’t relax.

Then I get my hair done, and suddenly, I have no choice. Can’t dance around in the chair, because they’ll cut my hair wrong. Can’t stand up, because that’s silly. I HAVE to sit there, still, and I HAVE to listen to the calming snip-snip sounds, and make pleasant conversation that has nothing to do with my normal, stressful life.

It’s really nice, is what I’m getting at. Need to make another appointment, actually. Looking for recommendations for a really great hairdresser near David Jones, so…hit me up! I’m on the lookout for new hot-spots. Maybe I can get my eyebrows done, or just a styling session, or a colouring. Anything to keep me still for a few minutes.