JANUARY 2007, E.V.

(Making better Aussie scrabble players since 2000 e.v.)

Although I’m still hoping to be able to make it to the wing-ding (the Big Day Out, I reckon it’s called in Australia and Kiwiland – you know, the festivals past the black stump with heaps of people cracking coldies and brushing away blowies), it’s looking less and less likely that it’s actually going to happen. Bummer, too, as I was looking forward to posting daily updates about the Tool shows, commenting on the set lists, lighting, projections, and stage design (that already people are waffling and yabbering about, wondering if it’s going to be same guest list for every show again). The problem with me reporting from the BDO isn’t the expensive airfare – no wucking furries there, mate, not with the Toolband gold AMEX, ay? The problem is whether or not my new clobber will be ready in time. By new clobber, I’m talking about my protective Aussie suit – the one being custom manufactured by the same company in Dover, Delaware (ILC DOVER) that makes the protective space suits that modern astronauts wear. Of course, we’re talking about Australia here, not the moon, Mars, or outer space. Even so, if the suits designed and produced by ILC are good enough for NASA and zero-G, they should be fairly effective in Australia (with regards to life-sustaining capabilities), so long as they’re upgraded and modified for the dangerous environment Down Under (a real challenge to the manufacturer, as Helenca-coated neoprene won’t cut it, nor would your run-of-the-mill outer layer Ortho-Fabric blend of Gortex, Kevlar, Teflon and Nomex).

Some of these upgrades and design modifications that I’ve ‘given’ to the team of engineers at ILC DOVER are still classified, but others I can share with readers of this site (including Tool Army members, even though they’ll probably spead it all over the freakin’ internet, giving the technology to Canadian tourists). The suit itself, which is called the Australian Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AEMU), shares many features with the support system that the crew of the Space Shuttle use. However, there are certain differences in design that are being specially tailored from all the ILC variants produced over the years (again, specifically designed to protect against the many hazards of Australia).

Before listing these, I should perhaps explain that by “Extravehicular Mobility Unit”, I’m talking about a protective garment that can be worn outside of the band’s tour coach and most hotel rooms in the larger cities. I can assure you that this isn’t your ordinary wettie, bathers, or trackie dacks! This is the ridgie didge, mate! With all its high-tech thingummy-jigs and such, the custom designed suit is exy ($$$) to say the least (that should be obvious, or “dog’s balls,” as they say in Australia), but if a Paralysis Tick should happen to fall out of a tree whilst on a bush bash, I’ll be damn glad that I shelled out the extra bickies. Suffice it to say, with the AEMU, Bob’s your uncle!

So, now here’s the list of modifications of this particular Safe & Cool System (for additional information, please consult the Encyclopedia Astronautica): Along with the composite materials approved by NASA for both protection and fabric mobility – the various layers of Nylon tricot, Spandex, Dacron, Teflon and Aluminized Mylar, my suit incorporates a special 3D-textile with a polyurethane-coated nylon pressure bladder. Also integrated into the Liquid Cooling & Ventilation Undergarment (LCVG) with its semi-permeable membranes and plastic tubing apparatus are both hydrophilic and hydrophobic fibers more advanced than most thermal comfort fabrics on the market today (right now Canadian tourists are probably as confused as a pickpocket at a nudist camp, but they’ll just have to figure out the correct order of the multiple layers for themselves if they’re going to poach it).

In addition to certain insulating properties designed to safeguard against heat strokes (which the Aussies call “taking a nap”), the Australian protective suit assembly offers the perfect defense against the bloody mozzies responsible for the Australian salute one always sees. Slightly smaller than the pesky mosquitoes Down Under are the mongrel paddock bombs (cars) driven by blokes who’ve had one too many middies (beer) at the local billabong and are determined to crash the corroboree (aboriginal festival dance) or nearest BDO. Space age polymers built into the suit help lessen the potential damage caused by concert goers hooning around in roo bar-equipped vee dubs, utes, and shaggin’ wagons a-flutter with unpaid canaries (unroadworthy tickets).

The Vegemite and “Red Ned” stain-proof material of the suit is capable of dealing with other normal biological issues as well. For instance, there are flexible ‘armor’mesh and lycra underdacks to protect my wedding tackle (male genitalia) from all the salties, dingos and woofers, as well as primeval fungus and bacteria that also allow me to go to the loo (i.e. siphon the python) after finishing off a slab of VB (Note: I’m bring my own Victoria Bitters from the states so I don’t have to only drink those large tinnies of Fosters!). The Lower Torso Assembly (LTA) also contains special ventilation ducting in case one needs to “shoot a fairy” after too many chook sangas, yabbies, or those ubiquitous meat pies. So go ahead and chuck another shrimp… er, prawn on the barbie! Besides this, there is a patented waste-management device in the event that, God forbid, I should be summoned to the Thunder Box (dunny) to give birth to a politician (use your imagination). But most important of all, the stretchable fabric will accommodate me should I crack a fat whilst snogging a nuddy shelia with her map of tassie at the knock house (with that thing of hers looking like a bulldog eating mayonnaise). Bonzer, mate! Just don’t tell the cheese & kisses (missus) about this dodgy caper. Needless to say, there is an insuit mini silver esky secured by Velcro that holds four stubbies – four Darwin stubbies, that is! And they fit like a honeymoon cock.

Did I mention that the flame retardant suit with all its insulating properties in a hot inhospitable climate is both functional and fashionable, designed like a colorful Tool tee, only capable of morphing into the artwork featured on other shirts produced by the band – many long discontinued, and, hence, collectible. Try finding that for less at “Hot Topic.”

One of the most technically-advanced features of the AEMU is its helmet, a kind of super-Akubra, if you will, made of an impact resistant polycarbonate material that shields its user, not from the micrometeoroids in outer space that NASA is concerned about, but in case any bright spark piffs a yonnie at a wanker in a biffo, or at a dive-bombing blowie outside the bloody bottl’o (not that micrometeoroids haven’t been known to knock a huntsman or twelve off the wall of a weatherboard). Speccy as this is, the visor also contains a special coating for optical clarity and spunky UVR protection. Think of this as a good pair of sunnies that both offers protection against harmful ultraviolet radiation and allows one to have a gander at the lovely white pointers on a Sydney beach, all the while keeping an eye out for any blue-ringed octopus taking up residence in your thongs. And easy access makes for a quick Dad and Dave (shave) of any bum fluff, as well as an early morning purge (the proverbial Technicolor yawn) after a night of spag bol washed down with excessive amounts of red plonk.

As should be evident (“dog’s balls”) from this article, a communication assembly or voice-translating device (what paper Aussies call a “Dictoroboter”) is crucial to any foreigners visiting the land Down Under. No worries, the AEMU comes equipped with just such a thingo. The communicator is especially valuable for translating certain Aussie lingo such as “dog’s eye” for “meat pie” or “dog and bone” for “telephone” (yep, the bush telegraph is a thing of the past). With the translating device, the term “Pass the dead horse” tells me that someone requires tomato sauce (Ketchup on earth, which, itself, in Aussie bafflegab becomes “daggy pup”) for their “dog’s eye.” As another example, say you were at dinner in a regular country like Iceland, you might say to the waiter, “Baby seal – no veggies.” In Australia, this would be “Maybe squeal – no hedgies.” Aussie slang becomes child’s play with the translator. Now I know that the Aussie word for condoms, “frangers” is “dingers.” Too right! A “kooka” is easily interpreted as a “kookaburra”. Great galloping goannas, this device is absolutely speccy!

Even though all the features of the suit have a specific purpose, the main reason I ordered it was as a kind of protective mantlet against all the venomous critters in Australia - number one among them being the female Toowoomba Funnel-web. Yeah, I know that it sounds like something out of “Star Wars”, but I assure you that light sabers (“That’s not a knife. This is a knife!”) are no match for this monster with its plethora of peptides. Never mind killer cockatoos and poisonous dolphins! Say you’ve knocked back a few schooners of XXXX and you ‘re out having a slash… or it’s smoko time in the bush… a rollie, or make it a tailor made if you’ve the brass razoo (probably scarce as rocking horse shit in the bush, as we say in Texas).

Next thing you know that Funnel-web having a squiz at you says “g’day” before leaping through the air and sinking its massive fangs into your scungy face. Yeah, the little fucker packs quite a wallop. Cute and cuddly it ain’t. You take a real shellacking and now your heart’s about to go bung. Blow me down! Hooroo!.. You’re dead (what the Aussies call “very tired”), pulling up stumps and moving even farther to the back of beyond. But that’s not the only spider that makes feathers fly in these parts. There’s the Red Back, a Black Widow on steroids that likes to terrorize people sitting in out houses (of the hotels, I presume). If it bites you in the knackers, you’d better have an iron dinger on your… by jingo!

Enter the biomedical instrumentation subsystem (BIS) of the protective garment. That ought to take care of any robustoxin. Now, go buy some more piss. The evening is young; it’s still dark as three feet up a cow’s arsehole. C’mon, off like a bride’s nightie. Only not over by those sightseeing helicopters hanging in gargantuan webs.

Besides the various potentially dangerous spiders with the grudge they evidently have against humans, there are also lots of snakes causing a ruckus in Oz. Taipan, Death adder, Copperhead and Waltzing Matilda to name a few. Crikey, and that’s before brekky cornflakes. The really nasty ones don’t come out ‘till 5 AM, when the sun’s nice and hot. At that time they’re looking to give someone a good tongue-lashing or kick them in their jarmies’ arse. I don’t know what you do for crust, but I think every bastard and his dog could use an Australian Extravehicular Mobility Unit, even if it’s the less durable knock-off. And if I weren’t as busy as a one-armed Taxi driver with crabs, I’d tell you exactly why. With electric tadpoles in puddles, there’s even a place for the aqua-AEMU, and that’s anywhere Down Under where there’s water (suburban lavvy included). If a certain croc hunter, fair dinkum that he most certainly was, had been wearing this instead of a clapped out bather then he might not have ended up being a stingray’s shish kabob. No, he’d probably just have had a pleasant swim with the toxic Box-jellyfish like the other shark biscuits before eating dinner at the Outback Steak House with your Prime Minister, Dundee. That wasn’t mentioned in the eulogy, now was it Jimmy? (Sure to get a flood of emails about this.)

Not afraid of spiders, blue-bottles and snakes? Then what about the bunyip of the billabong? Boss Cocky they call it. Mythical, my arse! That’s what they said about the Barnacle Goose. Sounds diniki di to me…

So there it is - the modular Life Support System that you can’t get at “Hot Topic.” Some of you might think this little chinwag is just the ramblings of a raw prawn. But without the AEMU, this arachnophobe isn’t coming to your little slice of paradise. Not with just a tee-shirt, Tool beanie, and packets of Carl’s Jr, ketchup (prezzies, anyone?) he isn’t. Even if only a few people have died at the hands of the female Funnel-web, there’s a certain Columbian beetle named Mel for short that golden frogs eat, and I’m willing to bet a stack of zacks that its uglier, more aggro and venomous cousin is crawling around somewhere in the orb-woven Australian bush.

Tomorrow at a sparrow’s fart (dawn), I’ll call to see if the suit’s going to be ready for the wing-ding. If it’s not, I’m gonna be angry as a meat axe, because Australia is one place I’d really love to visit and experience its unique wonders. I just don’t want to go to my grave from the bite of a tick the size of a bee’s dick that even Tool’s security can’t take down.

However, if the AEMU doesn’t get here in time, and I don’t make it Down Under for the BDO, I’m not going to do something stupid to make up for missing Oz like watching a Kylie Minogue or Men At Work video at the closest Outback Steak House while guzzling an oil can of Fosters. I’ll probably just go to the local McDonald’s (Mackey’s) and order a quarter pounder and fries with tomato sauce… OOROO!

(Note to be read very fast: all Australian stereotypes courtesy of the Australian Board of Tourism, the Dreaming, and a little book written and printed Down Under that was given to me by some good Aussie friends of mine.)



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