I met this guy called Vinnie, who was everything you’d expect a Vinnie to be. His hair stood on end, as if he was hung upside down, even when he was right-side up. He had puppy-dog exuberance, a ‘mad hatter’ grin and a face which said, welcome to my party. He was a breath of crazy, slapstick fresh air. A minuet in the center of Golden Century.
Now, Vinnie’s no ordinary man. Turns out, he’s the Aussie-Korean equivalent to Dr Doolittle. Though I don’t suppose a raven ever beat the shit out of Dr D on the golf course, or that he played x-box with a prepubescent possum. I can’t be sure. I do suppose that if Dr Doolittle and Dr Kevorkian combined their PhDs to produce a love child, Vinnie might be the result. Whichever way you stink that skunk, my man Vinnie had so many tales to tell, I can’t help but recount them.
What set Vinnie on the path of usurping the animal kingdom was this – his parents bought a farm. A shitload of land, with no clue what to do with it (no disrespect to Mama and Papa Vinnie). And whilst Vin was an instant favourite with me, I’m not sure the animals see it that way. If your pares ever tell you that your dog, Smackers ‘went to live on a farm’ (aka bit the big bone in the sky), you’d just better hope that it aint Vinnie’s.
The Great Goats-by
So Mama and Papa bought a farm. Now what?
“Why don’t we get some goats?” suggested Mama Vin. After all, what harm can come from owning a couple o’billies? Ever the good kid, pause for wucs, Vinnie sets out to buy some goats. Two bleats later, he’s at an auction. Now I reckon, at $150 bucks a pop, goats run pretty cheap these days. Certainly less than a Saturday night out on the shizzle. But no, Vinnie aint too happy at dropping 900 greenbacks. And when you put it like that, who can argue?
But drop it he does, and takes his half-dozen back to the farm. He drives the goats out to their new home – the back paddock, which affords a lovely view of a nature reserve beyond. In reality, it’s more like a billy motel which rents by the hour. Fenced off but for a small opening of a metre across, it’s as watertight as Watergate. Mainly because, Vin leaves the door open. Yep. Quicker than the promise of Milli Vanilli’s career, it’s all over my friend.
Cue race commentator in nasal yawp, “… and they’re out of the gate, racing neck to neck, it’s going to be a close one, Billy the Kid takes the lead, followed closely by Billy Zane, Hill Billy and The Legend of Billie Jean, hold on to your tickets folks, it’s anybody’s goat… here comes the photo finish, and…. there’s the flash!”
Who took the gold is anybody’s guess but, one thing for sure, those goats were never to be seen again.
Window. Opportunity. Took it.
Elementary, my dear ferret
Family Vinnie were disappointed at the loss of the goats but, given they really never had time to grow attached, they got over it. However, the farm soon becomes home to a horde of unwanted rabbits. With more rabbit warrens than Michael Jackson had noses (too soon?), an intervention is called for. One of Vinnie’s mates tells him that ferrets could be the answer. I believe the conversation went something like this:
Vin Man: “We have too many rabbits.”
Matey With an Idea: “I hear ferrets eat rabbits.”
Vin Man: “Oh, yeah?”
So Vinnie goes out and buys a ferret. Why not, right? Ferrets eat rabbits. What’s your problem, man?
Let’s not complicate matters with the facts. Get a ferret, stick it down a warren (not to be confused with a Warren), job done. Vinnie and Matey buy the ferret and take it back to the farm. They pick a bunny berth, park themselves at the entrance, take the ferret and… drumroll, release it into the hole.
They watch. They wait.
The farm lay quiet, no sound but the wind rustling in the trees and the clouds meandering by… and two chumps sitting in a paddock, staring at a hare lair, waiting for their special guest to ‘go ferret’. Five minutes pass. Their eyes are trained on the hole, intent not to miss any action. Ten minutes. Some fidgeting occurs. Twenty minutes. It’s not looking like a spectator sport, folks. Thirty minutes pass… Vinnie and Matey look at each other.
Matey: “I don’t think he’s coming back”.
Uh, no. He aint coming back and, if you’re still hoping for a Disney ending, neither are the goats. Whaddayaknow – ferrets need to be trained to catch rabbits.
But Mama and Papa Vin give new meaning to the word, stoic – they press on and soon enough, decide they want some chickens. And, if the usual chicken doesn’t butter your bread, you can get yourself a Chinese silky chicken (to be said in a sleazy voice). I don’t know what makes these puff pieces so revered in Asian culture, but consider them the Pope of the fowls. Mama Vin has her heart set and goes to great lengths to set up a chicken pen.
Vinnie sets out to auction, this time stalking (what I prefer to call) muppet chickens. Like old theatre performers with their silk well-pressed, they come out in Acts, milking the crowd for all it’s worth. Enter Statler and Waldorf stage left, Vinnie sets his bid and a few minutes later, he’s the proud owner of a pair of muppets. Mah na mah na. He’s yet to set his quota however, so he takes them backstage (aka his car) for safe keeping. Back to the auction he trots and after further bidding, Vinnie sets his cap at a wonderful pair, Bert and Ernie. He returns to the car.
“Statler and Waldorf, who were best known for their caustic critiques of stand-up comic, Fozzie Bear, died earlier today in a tragic car accident. They were only 11 months old. The pair are survived by fellow fowls, Bert and Ernie who said upon learning the news, “bock bock bock”!
Yep. As dead as Lindsay Lohan’s career, my friend. The day was hot and the auction long. The chicks pitifully perished in the oven that was Vin Man’s car. When he returned home to his mother with four chickens in tow, I can only imagine her asking, “why’d you buy the dead ones?”
FBI versus CIA
Time passes and in Vinnie’s words, “my mother populated the chicken pen”. No more muppets, not after The Fowl Tragedy of ’99. This time it’s plain Ole regular chickens. I think we all agree – it’s for the best.
What could possibly happen next? The answer is of course, snakes. Like FBI agents donned in dark pencil-ties and sunglasses, they begin to infiltrate the pen. “Liberty is on the move, I have the chicken in sight. I repeat, I have the chicken in sight. Heading to the kill zone, no need for back up”. You guessed it. Chicken Cacciatore makes the menu every night that week. But, Vinnie hears that geese… they scare away snakes.
Geese scare snakes. Let’s get some geese. What’s your problem, man?
Vinnie goes out and buys some geese. It’s a Christmas miracle! The snakes have gone, the geese are still in the pen, along with a partridge in a pear tree. Wow, let’s all sit back and take a breath.
Cue Panto music, “But, wait!”
Where the FBI may fail, the CIA sure as hell won’t. Their jurisdiction extends much further, after all. Enter a posse of foxes attired in hombergs and trenches(“Go, go, go, go!”) and it’s goodbye geese. Don’t mess with the CIA, they mean business. The geese suffer the Tarantino conclusion of having their heads ripped ‘clean off’ – to be said like Dirty Harry.
If Siberia was a Huskie
Mother’s Day. Despite his kill rate, he’s a good kid and Vinnie wants to do something nice for his mum. He decides to get her a dog to keep her company. Sounds so normal, doesn’t it? A five-year-old can look after a dog, right? But Vin doesn’t get Mama just any hound… he buys her a beautiful, pedigree Siberian Huskie. As a guard dog. For the farm.
Listen, I’m not going to kill the dog, okay? But Mama Vin might be heading for some tears, I won’t lie. Our Vinnie brings the huskie home and Mama puts it in the yard (it’s a guard dog, after all) but… who’s guarding the dog? Within hours, the dog is stolen. Sucked into the bestial Bermuda Triangle.
Turns out that puppy was more immediately valuable than the farm.
Ode to Vinnie’s Farm
‘There was an old woman who swallowed a cow, I don’t know how she swallowed a cow! She swallowed the cow to catch the goat, to catch the dog, to catch the cat, to catch the bird, to catch the spider, that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly’. I’m betting she was a manic-depressive.
I know we’re all a little sorry to wave goodbye to the farm, we’ve been through so much together (insert violins here). But not to worry, our Dr Doolittle will always talk to the animals… whether they like it or not.
‘Can you speak in rhinoceros?’
‘Of courserous! Can’t you?’
Next up on Vin’s itinerary is to rent a caravan in the bush. To me, this is a little like an alcoholic hanging out in a bar for the pretzels. But wisdom or no, Vin and Matey are now in the bush, in a caravan, playing x-box. Because that’s why you pack a bag, get in the car, drive an hour of the city and park your ass in a band-aid home. To commune with nature? To play x-box, dude. And,
… in walks this possum.
We know Vinnie too well to doubt the truth of this. Possum Emo saunters in, perches himself on his hind legs, takes some proffered bread, and proceeds to watch Vin and Matey play x-box whilst eating it’s sandwich. What the? That possum was a teenage dude.
Kangaroo come in?
Vinnie considered the caravan trip such a success, that he determines to rent a cabin in the bush. Upsize the abode, upsize the amount of animals which cram themselves into it, right? After all, no animal was injured, maimed or killed in the making of that chapter. Not that I saw the possum walk out of that caravan alive, but I like to think of it wearing eyeliner and rebelling against it’s parents somewhere, out there.
So Vin and Matey are in the cabin with the back door is open… and,
… in walks this kangaroo.
That is to say, Buckin’ Broncho tries to enter the Doolittle abode but I guess Vin has been training since the goat incident. He’s quicker off his feet this time and gets to the door just in time; closing it… on the kangaroo’s head.
So the kangaroo’s body (aka Broncho) is outside the house, but it’s head (aka Buckin’) is inside the house – stuck in the sliding glass door. I can re-late… having had just such a moment with an older brother in my young years. And yes, I was the kangaroo.
Vinnie : “I took a picture of it, and it looks like something out of a Hitchcock movie”.
Field of Attack
I’d like to assume Skippy made it out alive. Let’s work off that premise, shall we? And so, following the near decapitation of one of Australia’s most beloved icons, Vinnie decides to go golfing.
Now I’ve been to the golf course, man. I know animals live on the periphery; but I’ve never actually seen them whilst there. Sure, a bird in a tree. Whatever. It’s not like we interact. I don’t have a squirrel on my shoulder, or a horse for my caddy. But I aint Dr D, and I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
Cue Vinnie on the golf course – his checkered soft-cap set at a jaunty angle, golfing knickers cascading over his profusely plaid socks. And let’s not forget Matey, his right-hand sham. Now in Vinnie’s words,
… “if you play golf well, you play in a straight line. I don’t play golf well. So my ball always ends up on the side, in the bush… where the animals are”.
Of course it does, Vinnie.
The green lay quiet, no sound but the wind rustling in the trees and the clouds meandering by… and two chumps with golf sticks, staring at hole in the ground with a flag in salute. Sound proverbial? Is it a plane, is it superman? No, it’s a bird. The Ivan Drago (aka Dolph Lundgren) of the magpie range – ‘I must break you’. For reasons known only to Drago, it swoops down from the trees and goes after Vinnie like it’s avenging it’s father’s death (and with Vinnie’s record, who knows)? Drago is the Terminator. Vinnie is Sarah Connor. And it’s game on.
Now if Hitchcock had been on a smaller budget and had say, one bird… perhaps Tippi wouldn’t have been topped. With Vinnie on set however, it would’ve been a different story. Drago is a flapping, screeching, vengeful tour de force – helicoptering above Vinnie as he cowers behind his golf bag preying for a miracle. Not only that, he’s drawing a crowd. The whole golf course has come to watch. I picture them taking bets, passing money in the background.
“Give me $20 bucks on the bird”.
Drago lands on the ground (I like to think with the sound King Kong would make after stepping off the Empire State). Boom! And the thunder ripple follows suit. Vinnie decides to make a run for it but he doesn’t stand a chance. The bird keeps coming, this time running after Vin and whooping wildly.
Vinnie: “The disrespect – to come after me on foot!”
He gets a golf club out and, as if he’s fencing Drago in a duel to the death, he begins to prod the bird. This time I picture him dressed as a Musketeer, with a pencil moustache and a cry of “One for all!”; but in reality he’s just a chump on a golf course, jousting with a magpie.
“I wanted to hit it, but everyone was watching. It would’ve been like hitting a three-year-old”.
I reckon that’s the least of your problems, Vin. The crowd is getting restless, the golf club is ineffectual, this bird is throwing down. And Vinnie … well, the pattern of his cap becomes one with his socks as he assumes the foetal position. Two old men come up and yell at Vinnie, “stop harassing the bird!”