Will Type For Food



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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A world of wonder and enchantment and adventure and end of year financial statements

This whole idea of books as escapism strikes me as being entirely conventional. What if you were an unimportant and a boring person who managed a box factory who read a Company Accountancy book to escape into a world of wonder and enchantment and adventure and end of year financial statements? They just don't get a look in, do they?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Completely sincere feminist love poem #2

O strong-willed and independent womyn
Whose blood pulse is the pulse of the seasons,
Whose mind is the mind of Gaia,
Who runs with the wolves of the night while the ancients chant hymns by the tribal fire,
Natural, nurturing,
Peaceful, fructiferous,
Yet at the same time fierce and liberated with opinions about equal pay and underwear,
Does the sun say to the moon, "Let us dance"?
Does the seed say to the earth, "Let us sing"?
Does the inevitable hegemonising nature of perception irrevocably alter the supposedly natural social contexts in the space-time dimension?
I guess what I am saying is,
Would you go out with me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drinking months of the year

The committed alcoholic will of course already have his days full, but the rest of us may need a little encouragement. To that end, I have drawn up this helpful list of drinking months:

Jagermeister January
VBuary
Schwarz March
Grape April
Mead May
June-and-Tonic
Dry White July
Amber August
Siptember
Hocktober
Merlotvember
Brandycember

I have even devised an extra month to accommodate any accompanying headaches:

Allhungovertober

You're welcome.

Prepare to have your consciousness lifted, kids! It's the social issues karate show!

GET READY

(A demure older woman dressed for work enters a busy inner-city office where all the team are gathered around for a meeting)

OLDER WOMAN: Hello!

BOSS: As I was saying...

OOH YOU'LL BE SCARED

BOSS: So, any suggestions anyone?

OLDER WOMAN: Yes, actually...

BOSS: Good. So, now, moving on....

IT'S OLDER WOMAN NINJA

OLDER WOMAN: How about...

POW!

OLDER WOMAN: Here's an idea!

ZAP! 

OLDER WOMAN: We might like to discuss...

HOW DOES SHE AVOID BEING SEEN BY HER ENEMIES? 

OLDER WOMAN: Or what about...

ANOTHER BRILLIANT VICTORY FOR OLDER WOMAN NINJA

OLDER WOMAN: Oh, that's all right.

APPROXIMATELY 70 PER CENT OF EVIL SUPERVILLAINS ARE FOILED BY OLDER WOMAN NINJAS. 

STAY TUNED, BECAUSE LATER IN THE PROGRAM....

SOOKY LALA: Ooh you're being racist against homophobes by not screening this footage!

POLITICAL BIAS NINJA! THE LEAST INTERESTING NINJA OF THEM ALL!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A completely sincere feminist love poem #1

You're just a boi
I'm just a grrrrrrrrrrl
This is just a big pink box of chocolates with a picture of a puppy on it wrapped in a spotty ribbon with a love-heart-shaped card pasted on to it with with glitter-coated golden stars
Now I must hrrrrrrrrrl.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

GET WARMTH AND COMFORT WITH TIM

Passing by a heating store last night in the cold winter night I noticed they mostly seemed to specialise in those silly videos of log fire stoves rather than actual log fire stoves. You know the ones; cheap restaurants occasionally have them, a five or six second image of severally cheerfully blazing stumps of wood, looping back on itself, often levitating incongruously over the top of the room (rather than on the floor, as a good log fire ought to do).

I mean, is that all? If they're selling videos of log fires, what about a video of a generic cat and a generic dog settling down together in a homely and happy manner in front of this blazing log fire? If any old sensation approximating the actual sensation of sitting down in front of a blazing log fire would do, how about a little cabinet charged with dispensing the pleasant odour of wood fire around the room? Maybe even (the luxury service) a specially-employed butler who blows this smell out through a little pipe? And for those not satisfied with just this, perhaps a video of a log fire would not suffice - maybe a video of a house fire, or a modest burning-down of a public monument, would be thought more warming and pleasant (let's call it the Pyromaniac's Package).

Though, I must admit, last night my thoughts went in a more modest direction: a slip of paper with the warming and comforting words 'WARMTH AND COMFORT' warmly and comfortingly printed on it, providing the reader with the same sense of warmth and comfort they would get when sitting in front of an actual log fire, only slightly less.

It is rather cold tonight. I think I might print them out for myself. WARMTH AND COMFORT. Ahhhhhh, that's better.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A winter poem

The blanket heaves and billows
With self-fomented storms.
The smell gets in the pillows,
But at least it warms.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dissimiles

As sharp as a button.
As flat as a tack.
As clean as a baby's bottom.
As light as a featherweight boxer.
As clever as a sausage.
As happy as Barry.
As quick as clockwork.
As old as a whip.
As regular as a Mallee bull.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Putting the pre into sumptuous

We've covered, or should I say, eaten a lot of subjects here at WillTypeForFood over the years. Are Arnott's Nice biscuits really, as they claim to be, nice? What tastes better: the holes in cinnamon donuts, or the holes in Swiss cheese? And what foods really constitute a 'well rounded diet'?

Now the time has come for us to discuss another topic: just how 'delicious' is lemon delicious pudding really? Could it be that the name 'delicious' is actually misleading, and the pudding is merely quite tasty?

Over the years, I have cooked many lemon 'so-called delicious' puddings. They were, indeed, highly enjoyable. The presence of 'lemon' in the recipe was undeniable; no-one could belie the actuality of their puddingness. But were they truly 'delicious'? Just what is 'delicious', anyway? Who can say, in this subjective world in which all personal judgments as to flavour and taste ought to be highly qualified by the acknowledgment that they come from a person whose observations may be affected by an innumerable variety of environmental causes, what 'delicious' really means*?

It may, indeed, be time for the people who make up the rules about the naming of food stuffs (whoever they may be) to consider a name change:

Lemon all right I guess pudding
Lemon quite pleasing pudding
Lemon tasty if that's your thing pudding
Lemon not entirely inoffensive to an educated palate pudding
Lemon thing that also happens to be a pudding pudding
This blob wot I cooked here
Lemon suspicious pudding
Lemon possibly delicious pudding (or, 'lemon possibly')
Pudding (or, 'this pudding', or, 'this damn pudding').

I'll write to the authors of the dictionary and inform them of my decision shortly.

*That sentence came out almost all at once, and I still have no idea what it means. I'm quite proud of it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

On cup nursing, beard stroking, and other important moments in civilisation

An essential moment in the ritual of service in any cafe, bar, club, or pub is that moment after which the patron has finished their drink and falls to nursing their glass or cup. If they have just consumed a beer, they will lovingly, if absent-mindedly, shift the glass from one part of the table to another. They will angle it to their mouth to consume the last, golden drops. Or they will grasp at it possessively in the midst of a conversation when the figure of a patron looms, ready to whisk the glass away. If they have just had a tea or coffee or hot chocolate, they may run their spoon around the rim, catching the last evanescent, delicious drops of froth. They will clasp the cup to their chest, folding themselves in its warm embrace. This moment, of cup embracing, of glass nursing, is stimulative of all manner of deep philosophical thinkings and artistic inspirations, and is crucial to the survival of civilisation in this changing modern world, and any wretched bar or cafe that ignore the deep significance and importance of the ritual being undertaken by the nurser is not worth the patronage.

Similarly, an essential moment in the ritual of reading any book, magazine, zine, or blog post is that moment after which the reader has finished reading and sits back, stroking their beard, and thoughtfully pronouncing, "Hmm". This moment, too, is stimulative of all manner of deep philosophical thinking and artistic inspiration, and is crucial to the survival of civilisation in the changing modern world, etc, etc, etc. Of course, not all blog readers will have a beard on their own faces, but it will merely suffice for them to find someone else with a beard, which they can then stroke and thoughtfully pronounce "Hmm" at leisure. It is well known that, if they do go to the trouble of stroking someone else's beard, they will have good luck for ten years.

I'll let you all do that now at your leisure.

Wherein I implore our cat to come inside

Of all the futile things in the world, the very definition of futility would seem to be provided by a cat, sitting outside the open back door on a cold winter's night, clearly wanting to be inside, but waiting for the owner, sitting on the other side of the open back door, to proffer her a treat. The owner is cold. The cat is cold. The cat is hungry. The cat biscuits are sitting in a bowl just behind the owner. And yet nobody moves.

Can life get any more futile than this?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Somewhat-badly-timed Sunday essay

For today's edition of the somewhat-badly-timed Sunday essay, I would like to present the thoughts of Sir Winston Anticleugh Carruthers on the difference between men and women. 

The difference between men and women

The more I think about the difference between men and women, the more I realise the truth in the old adage: a man needs a horse like a woman needs a fish on a bicycle. Just what men are doing with horses and women with bicycling fish is quite beside the point, whatever that point may be. Men and women are as different as two peas in a pod, and it is our differences that really make us the same, as differences frequently do.

Men! Women! What are they really? I knew a woman once, but that didn't last. However, in the brief time that we met, I remarked to her that men are about as useful to bulls as a kangaroo loose with a six pack, and she acknowledged the truth of my observation. Alas, the brief time of our attachment soon drew to a close, and she went back to training her fish to ride on a bicycle.

It all goes to show, it's a long way to Rome that bodes no good in a month of Sundays.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I just wrote a thing

I just wrote a thing and here it is you are most welcome there you go. 

Interbreeding amongst the early homonyms

Long ago, on the primal grammatical plain, where verbs nouned and syntax garbled adjectives verbish, roamed the original homonyms. Who were the primal homonyms really? We cannot know; we only can guess from fossils, remains, philological specimens.

We know their largest predator: the thesaurus. This fierce, gigantic, omnivorous beast liked to munch on homonyms for breakfast, seasoned with synonyms for a delicious, moreish, tasty, toothsome, delightful, nice treat. We know that, late at night, the homonyms would pass their time by singing homophonies to one another, or maybe, sometimes, argue philosophy with their local homologician. And sometimes - they bred.

Speculation about breeding amongst homonyms has often been muted, prompting criticism of homophobia in many quarters. However, homotextuality was rife in the prehistoric world, and once two or more homonyms homogenised, their offspring could go on to achieve great things.

It seems clear, now, that scholars who have criticised these acts were merely indulging in ad homonym attacks.

Just how did interbreeding between the homonyms occur? Various popular etymologies have been published by eminences such as Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint, but these can safely be discredited. Scientists have attempted to simulate interbreeding amongst homonyms in laboratory conditions by rubbing two dictionaries together, but the results have been inconclusive. Scientists have speculated that perhaps the success or otherwise of homonym interbreeding relies on dictionary size; other scientists have objected that it is not the size of the dictionary that counts, it is how you use it.

The basics of homonym interbreeding are as follows: after a short courtship dance through some intervening sentences, the homonyms join together. A fricative is applied. The labials extend, and various syllables expand and contract responsively. The colons blush red, and the vowels open. There is a short sharp series of plosives, following which homogeneity occurs.

However, beyond this, it is all mere speculation, and so now it is time to place a full stop.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Health party!

The Baron is off in an alternative dimension for a few days, so in the meantime I've been throwing myself a bit of a Health Party, to throw some much needed Health back into my life. All those lentils have been really bad for my vibes, man.

Here's what a Health Party consists of:

1) Butter. Butter is incredibly important for your health, because it appeared on the cover of Time magazine - just like Stalin, who, as we all know, is also incredibly important for your health. Acceptable substitute: cream.

2) Biscuits. Biscuits are super vital for your health, because they contain sugar, and as we all know, sugar helps restore your body's crucial..... sugar.... levels. So far I've made two lots of biscuits - oatcakes yesterday, and Anzac's today. So I'm double healthy!

3) Booze. I'm still working on why booze is healthy for you but I'm sure it is.

(Oh all right, all right, I was hungry just then and wanted dessert so I tipped a bunch of Anzac biscuits into a bowl, poured some cream over the top, and then sloshed some sherry over the top of that, and this is my paltry justification. Happy now, pedants?)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mythopathetic

King Midas of Old's poo turned to gold
Before it had dropped down
And all preferred the royal turd
To their own humdrum brown.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Flounces and flounds

I may have mentioned before the mysterious nature of the 'snicker', the 'snirtle', and the 'smirk' - has anyone actually heard anyone else snicker or snirtle? Or seen someone properly smirk? All excellent descriptive words that have been put to fine use in literature, but do they have any separate existence in reality?

Another word like these is 'flounce'. It starts with 'f' and rhymes with 'pounce' - or 'bounce'. In novels, people occasionally 'flounce off' (another mystery - if people can 'flounce off', can they 'flounce on', too?) But I realised last night that I had no idea what a flounce looked like. I turned the matter over with the Baron and said I wasn't quite sure really how to flounce. The Baron did an imitation flounce for me, cocking her snook in the air and marching off, and it really did look like something that might be described as a 'flounce'. But how could I be sure, really, if this was the only flounce I had ever seen in real life? The Baron admitted she could not remember anyone ever flouncing off from her. She denied flouncing off herself.

I tried a flounce myself at the tram station. It was so unconvincing that I even failed to convince myself. Perhaps I had to get the attitude right, really be in the heat of the moment, as it were.

The etymology of 'flounce ' confounds me as well. Is it a portmanteau word - a combination of 'flail' and 'bounce', for instance, or 'floppy' and 'pounce'? Or maybe it is a type of measurement for a human activity: a 'flustered ounce', with the next measurement up being a 'flippant pound'. 'Flounces' and 'flounds', anyone?

'Snickers' and 'smirks' and 'flounces' and 'confounds' and 'confused' are all fine words for Spoonerising, by the by. 'Snounces' and 'consmirkled', for instance. Or 'confluskers' and 'smirouncickles' and 'flirks'. Whether these have any separate existence in actual, er, actuality can be left to the metaphysicians to sort out.

Have you, dear reader, seen the glorious flounce manifested in nature, as God intended it to be? What does it look like?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

List of important things on sheets of paper Beatrice the cat has teared chunks out of to get our attention

I was going to write a list of important things on sheets of paper Beatrice the cat has teared chunks out of to get our attention, but then I realised your important thing on a sheet of paper is probably one of the things Beatrice the cat has teared chunks out of to get our attention, so now I'm not. Yes. You know the important thing I'm talking about. 

Minutes and meetings

For some reason I wrote a poem about meetings.

Poem I wrote for some reason about meetings

Meetings and minutes, minuted meetings,
I've been to many more than bear repeating,
Quorums and motions, agendas, agendas,
As long as your arm an as high as September.

Minutes and meetings, meetings being minuted
Could stretch to the heavens high, meetings unlimited
Of quibbles and tittles and hyphens and jots
Of indented spaces, of dashes and dots.

Meetings in meetings in meetings and more
Clubs, working groups, and committees galore,
There's President (Vice) and Honourable (Right)
And Sub-Deputy-Branch-Chair for Wednesday Night.

Minute of meeting: committees at war
Over a clause of a clause in a sub-point of law,
Load hyphens with colons and hide behind brackets
While dot points roll through in vain hopes to crack it.

Minutely minuted minutes of meetings,
Repeating.... repeating... repeating... repeating...
A vortex, a black hole that goes on forever.
I... don't... think... that... this... meeting... will... ever...

END

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Smogging

As an addendum to the previous blog post about the joys of cold and wet and grey, I offer the following poem, in which romantic poet William Turdsworth, personified for some reason as a cloud of smog, goes somewhere, sees something, and comes to the grand conclusion of I'm not sure. 

I wandered lonely as a smog

I wandered lonely as a smog
That floats on high o’er city streets
And came across a rancid bog
Behind a wall of grey concrete,
A dirty cankered swamp of spew,
Of toxic waste and foetid muck;
And bubbles from the putrid brew
Burst with a stench as rank as fuck.

But through the sickly slough of cess
Moss-matted ferals waded out
And – “Save our Bog!” “Say YES to MESS!”
The crowd would somehow vomit-shout.
“It’s dirty, but it’s all we’ve got!”
One hacked (and coughed a gob of drool);
Another wheezed midst gales of snot
“Once all this land was palsied pool.”

And oft, when in pensive mood I lie,
I call to mind that sewer pit,
And thinking of that swamp, I sigh -
“But geeze that fucking bog was shit!”

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Things I like to have on toast and the order in which I like to have them

Normally when I am drinking my morning coffee I like to have something sweet with it, toast with jam perhaps, or toast with honey. But sometimes I like to change things around and have a little toast with Vegemite as well, with the bitterness of the Vegemite complementing the bitterness of the coffee brilliantly.

There is no real point to this observation, though it is pleasant to talk about pleasant things, which is the point to my lack of point, at any rate.

On that point, the general order in which I have things on toast is highly important, I find. Whether to have toast with jam before or after toast with honey is one thing: I used to quite like to conclude affairs with toast with jam, since I consider jam to have a more satisfying complexity than honey: there's fruity sourness and bitterness in there as well as a rich sweetness. On the other hand, I've really begun to appreciate honey a lot more since keeping bees; its golden smoothness seeming to be emblematic of good fortune and luxury. No other condiment melds so well with melted butter, sinking right down into the pores of the toast. But then again, the plum jam we have at the moment is pretty ace.

I still like to have golden syrup on toast sometimes, but whether I have it before or after another slice of toast, it is often slightly disappointing: not quite enough sweetness to stand out against the saltiness in the bread. (Occasionally I even try treacle on toast; treacle really is pretty fantastic, rich and black and viscous, like the Thing from Outer Space. On your toast. And edible. It tastes pretty strange, though in a nice way.) Golden syrup, though, is fantastic on crumpets. It's best for store bought crumpets, although it's good on home made crumpets as well, although I find the very best thing for home made crumpets is honey.

Of course, all these condiments have to go with butter; there's no question about that. A little butter, spread on the fresh toast, straight from the toaster, and then left for a minute or two to melt and sink down into the toast and leave a glistening surface on which the condiment can be spread. The question of butter is another delicious subject which I will enter into sometime at tedious length, if you'd like, or even if you wouldn't like. Though of course there is always honey and cream. (Have you tried honey and cream? It's fantastic.)

Having continued to make my lack of a point for several pointless paragraphs, I have now got to the point where I will stop.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A disquisition concerning rain, clouds, and grey things

For some reason, about this time of year, on train stations around Melbourne we start seeing ads for holidays in Brisbane. I say "for some reason" though of course I know the reason why: people don't like the cold and wind and rain and wet. People are perverse that way. I was standing on Reservoir Station just the other day glowering at one such advertisement showing people wearing customary "happy" grimaces on their faces, and not much else, in the ocean somewhere, with some smug slogan about "That's why we say/Give me Brisbane any day" hovering over the top. The strange thing was, it was a beautiful day; cool rain caressed my skin and the train platform glistened in the wet. There was a refreshing and crisp breeze coming from somewhere. Curlicues of clouds hung in the sky, mounting one on the other: you never quite realise how many lovely shades of grey there are until you see a bunch of clouds ornamenting the sky. The sight of these clouds louring over old early 20th century terraces and shop fronts was particularly attractive.

A guy called Lantern once said to me: "How could you not like Debussy? His favourite animals were cats. His favourite musical interval was the tritone. And his favourite colour was grey." That struck me as being a Great Truth at the time, and it's why I feel certain that Debussy would have loved winter, clouds, and the rain and wet, also. A sky is always interesting with a few clouds floating about in it. A city is interesting with a few clouds floating around in it as well: smog will do, but fog is even better. It adds just that little touch of adventure and mystery to your everyday life, making you feel like you might end up somewhere wholly unexpected (sometimes, you even do). Perhaps that's one reason why people started the industrial revolution: all those smokestacks and chimneys produce wonderful clouds.

Take a walk along a Melbourne street in the middle of winter or on a cold autumn day and you will discover another reason why these cold seasons are so nice: the whiff of wood smoke. We so rarely have an excuse to set a log fire roaring in Australia, and wood smoke has such a pleasant smell. There is a reason people use it to flavour their foods. Rain, also (though it is more pleasant being inside a house while it is raining) causes beautiful smells to rise in the air: the cool, earthy whiff just before rain comes; the satisfying smell of wet soil that has just drunk its fill; and the pungent fragrance of plant resins, eucalyptus and lemon verbena, that have come to the surface of the leaf or tree bark in the rain.

It all makes me wonder if there oughtn't to be an advertising campaign for winter, the rain and wet, and the colour grey. Something like a picture of an atmospheric, mossy building shrouded in some nice fog, with attractive people doing nice dances around it, and a slogan hovering over it:
That's why we say
Give me rain and the colour grey. 

Then again, I suppose that would attract entirely the wrong crowd of people.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shrouded in fog and dust and smoke and mystery and shit

My brothers and I were walking down the street in Raymond Terrace. Euan wanted us all to see Godzilla. Lachlan, rather poetically, wanted to see a sunset. I wanted to lie down on the couch at Mum and Dad's house and scoff chocolates. "How about if you just go and see Godzilla on your own?" Lachlan suggested to Euan. "We can go down to the river and you can see it and report back to us" I helpfully put in. Naturally, we all ended up seeing Godzilla. Euan is good at winning debates like that, mostly by refusing to enter into them in the first place.

I don't really need to describe the plot of Godzilla to you because you'll pretty much know in advance anyway: gigantic prehistoric monster is awoken from his slumber by radiation, wreaks havoc on a city, the end. What's striking about this latest Hollywood adaptation is how bad they are at sticking to even this simple rule: there's a ridiculous 20-30 minutes of backstory before we even get a decent sight of a monster. Then for most of the rest of the film you don't even get a chance to have a decent gawp at the beasts (there are several), because they're shrouded in fog and dust and smoke and mystery and shit, even though there's no mystery really, because when you walk into a Godzilla film, how can you not know that you're in for a few hours of a gigantic monster trashing a city?

But anyway, the bit where Godzilla wins the battle by breathing fire down another monster's mouth was kind of good. But on the whole, it was a bit of a disappointing monster flick. Definitely not as good as a sunset in all its beautiful transience, or lying on a couch scoffing chocolates in all their beautiful transience. I think I prefer Blue Oyster Cult's version:
 

 PS I just realised this blog post might contain spoilers. Spoiler! Gigantic monster trashes a city the end!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Living down to expectorations

I'm in Newcastle again (what? why?) at my parents and have had the chance to read over once again that fine work, B J Ratcliffe's and Sir Holward Elphinstone's English-Swahili Phrase Book. You might be wondering why my parents come to be in possession of an English-Swahili Phrase Book, but the answer is simple: I bought it at a school fair once as a joke present at a school fete for Mum.

Part of the fun of reading any such phrase book, of course, is to find ridiculously specific phrases like the Monty Python classic, "My hovercraft is full of eels", and there are a few like that in here: "I want also two cucumbers for afternoon tea", "I want you to bring four sheeps' tongues". But the really odd thing about this phrase book is just what phrases it assumes will be useful; almost all are orders of one sort or another. Look at the beginning to Chapter III, The House:

I want a good house-boy
One who knows house-work
One who has good manners
Have you a registration certificate? 

Soon the bearer of the phrasebook is ordering his house-boy:

Do not leave the house without permission
Come and ask if you want to go out

I especially like the opening question in the last chapter, Chapter VIII, Sickness:

What is the matter with you? 

An exceedingly useful phrase that, not to mention

Do not expectorate about here

There's something in that for all of us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I think these things so you don't have to

If the proverbial brain surgeon met the mythical rocket science at a party, what if they swapped jobs for a while so that the brain surgeon did brain surgery on a rocket while the rocket scientist practised rocket science on somebody's brain? Hadn't thought of that, had you? (If you had thought of that, shoosh!)

Memories! I remember what it was like to have those!

Got a new memory stick because I can't remember where I left my old memory stick.

Subsequently spent hours searching around my house for my new memory stick because  I can't remember where I left my new memory stick either.

I need a memory stick for my memory of where I put my memory sticks. Or maybe just a memory.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sneezy does it

Sneezing is great, isn't it? Admittedly when you've just put a bee suit on and have opened up the beehive and angry bees are flying everywhere and you have a knife and a hive tool ready to take out frames, then might not be the best time to get something caught in your nose to start you sneezing, though that in itself might be preferable to being a brain surgeon in the middle of their craft caught with a sudden dose of sneezes. (Though has that ever happened? What do brain surgeons do in these circumstances?)

Even so, sneezing is awesome! A small volcano explosion in your own head. I like to give myself over entirely to the sneeze, to luxuriate in it, to be teased by the tingling anticipation before sneezing as loudly as I possibly can, throwing my head into it. The Baron sneezed just then and I have to admit I was a little jealous. I especially like it when a whole row of sneezes happen, one after another. Anytime to sneeze is a good time, but one especially good time might be in an important workplace meeting, just when the head of the company is getting up and waving his or her arms around and pointing at an important graph that no-one, including themselves, understands; if possible, you should sneeze on these occasions, a small volley of nasal eruptions to entirely block out their pointless speech.

It occurred to me the other day that sneezing is so wonderful that there should be a small daily apparatus devoted to them. We should have sneezing jackets, and sneezing rooms, and most especially sneezing chairs - a voluminous brocaded armchair, with antimacassar. Of course, it would be called a Sneezy Chair.

But I suppose no-one likes other people having that amount of pleasure. The last time they did stuff like that, with smoking, folks got incredibly jealous, and tried to ban it. It just goes to show what sort of a rotten, wicked world we live in.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Definitely not

MISTAKES

(How did this blog post come about, I hear you cry?  I'll tell you. It's because of the brutally efficient IT system we have here at home:

TIM: Hey, how do I get the strike through to operate in Word?

BARON: I know how to do it on mine, but not on yours, your version of Word is all.... weird. 

TIM: Ooh, idea! You could do it in your Word and send it through to me!

BARON: Why don't I just do it in my email? I can do it in my email too! 

TIM: Yes! I'll watch! 

BARON: Hang on.... hang on, I've got an even better idea. Why don't you do it on blogger and just cut and paste? 

TIM: (Crestfallen) Yes you are absolutely right. Thanks. 

Got a problem? Just call us. We'll help.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A poem about Gaia

Gaia, Earth Mother
 (Bountiful, radiant,
  Burgeoning, beautiful)
   Walks to the shops.
Behind her spring daisies,
 Birds singing and bunnies,
  Rainbows and kittens,
   And non-GM crops.
Her phone rings. Oh bugger.
 Her old 90s boyfriend,
  Captain Planet, the arsehole.
   That does it, she thinks, I'm calling the cops.

As Mother-of-all,
 Gaia's feeling her age,
  A zillion year's old,
   Not counting today.
And Nature, her kid?
 Hardly bothers to call
  Smokes far too much pot,
   And is probably gay.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

If you haven't pressed apple cider in your underpants you haven't lived

We made cider. Windfall apples, picked from all over Bright and Wandiligong when we visited during Easter, combined with Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies from our own trees, formed the base. We came back to our house with boxes of the stuff, which we poured out onto the lounge room floor, making them go every which way and get under the table and under cats' and chickens' and visitors' feet while they mellowed (read: a good quarter of them went mouldy and the other three quarters went from looking rather dubious to looking exceedingly dubious over the course of a week or so). This mellowing is an extremely important part of the process, as all good cider makers will tell you. Otherwise, there won't be any opportunity for one person to say, "when are you going to make cider?" and the other person to say, "I can't make cider yet, the apples are mellowing!" and the first person to say "if they were any more mellow they'd be rotten" and the other person to say "don't be ridiculous!", and so on.

To make cider, you're going to need a mill to load the apples into and crush them into chunks, and a press to squash the juice out of those chunks, and a partner to whinge at every time something gets stuck and won't press or squash any further. Well, no, you don't really need all those things, but it really is incredibly therapeutic to have someone to moan at when things look like they're going wrong. Last year we didn't have a mill and we ended up just breaking up the apples into a pulp in the blender before squeezing the juice out of them in the press, which is just about as much fun and lasts even longer than breaking up the apples into a pulp in the blender before squeezing the juice out of them in the press sounds. 

So, in full on industrial mode this year, we piled all the apples into our freshly bought mill. I ended up with a gigantic pot full of apple chunks, which I took scoops out of and loaded into the press. While I was in the middle of crushing one bunch of apple chunks, Pamela the Chook happened to wander through the house, as she likes to do from time to time. As soon as she saw the pot full of apple chunks, she made an incredibly excited cluck, as if to say: "I can't believe my luck!" She was in the middle of ogling the pot up when I and a tasty looking pot of yoghurt intervened.

Crushing all those apples is hot work. I took my jumper off and rolled up my sleeves and then rolled down my sleeves again and took off my shirt and wiped a calloused hand over my shining brow as the relentless sun beat down on the fields full of toil-weary peasants and saw, far off, in the hills, a vision of Julie Andrews singing and dancing and then knew I was hallucinating again. But, you know, it is pretty hard work. And if you haven't pressed apple cider in your underpants you haven't lived (though, on the plus side, you may not need to get a new pair of underpants after all). 

At the end of all that - the collecting boxes of apples, the milling, the crushing, the collecting of the juice - I ended up with.... about four litres of juice.

FOUR LITRES!

Yeah, but when we taste our scrumpy when it's finished fermenting and been bottled and aged it will be worth it. In another ten months or so....

Friday, May 02, 2014

Education time! Tannins - what even are they?

For today's exercise in raising consciousness, attaining a higher state of being, and becoming one with the universal all, I thought I'd find out a little bit about tannins, a frequent ingredient in wine, cider, and sometimes beer . It's about time really because I've often advised others starting out in cider or meads "you'll need to get tannins in that" or "tannins will provide some balance". Without ever really knowing 100 per cent what the damn things are.

So, I took myself off to that fount of all wisdom and knowledge and benevolence, Wikipedia. It has this to say:

A tannin ... is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.

The term tannin (from tanna, an Old High German word for oak or fir tree, as in Tannenbaum) refers to the use of wood tannins from oak in tanning animal hides into leather; hence the words "tan" and "tanning" for the treatment of leather. However, the term "tannin" by extension is widely applied to any large polyphenolic compound containing sufficient hydroxyls and other suitable groups (such as carboxyls) to form strong complexes with various macromolecules.*

Righto! So that clears that up then! Now that I know that, I just need to find out what "polyphenolic compounds", "proteins", "amino acids", "hydroxyls", "carboxyls" and "strong complexes with various macromolecules" are. Actually, I didn't have time to look all that up, but I did look up what seemed to me to be the most important terms: "polyphenolic"...

Polyphenols.... a structural class of... organic chemicals.... of large multiples of phenol structural units.

Well wank you very much, Dikypedia. So a phenol is....

Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an aromatic organic compound with the molecular formula C6H5OH.

A carboxyl.... well, we get redirected here:

A carboxylic acid /ˌkɑrbɒkˈsɪlɪk/ is an organic compound that contains a carboxyl group (CO2H).

A hydroxyl:
A hydroxyl is a chemical functional group containing an oxygen atom connected by a covalent bond to a hydrogen atom, a pairing that can be simply understood as a substructure of the water molecule.

Er.... and I'm not even drunk.

And as for "strong complexes with various macromolecules", I'm not even going to go there, as I'm a happily married man.

So there you go folks. That's what tannins are. So know that I know what they are, I still don't know what they are.

*Fun party trick: try reciting all of that while drunk. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Away with the fairies

"So, to summarise," I typed on the piece of work software I use to keep in touch with other people who work at the place I work while actually staying at home, to another worker, "When my status is 'away', I'm not actually 'away'. Unless I actually am 'away'."

Which would have been all very funny and witty if, by the time I actually started typing that, my fellow worker had not quietly 'gone offline'.

It's enough to make me want to set by status to 'away'.

Great steaming pile

A great, glorious, steaming pile of elephant shit sits in our driveway. This great, glorious, steaming pile of elephant shit has been sitting in our driveway for several days, ever since the friendly man in the truck with the pink shovel arrived last week and asked where I would like him to put it. I told him to arrange it neatly on the front driveway, though this was a joke, because really, who wants a great, glorious, steaming pile of elephant shit to be arranged neatly? It's not neatness we're after when we order a great, glorious, steaming pile of elephant shit: it's mess, wonderful mess, chaos, disorder, slopping in every direction and stinking up our front driveway.

Mess may look somewhat incongruous, sitting in a glorious, steaming pile on the front driveway of a suburban house - what, with its placid concrete, its bland right angles, its regulated nature strip - but what could be better suited for such a location than mess? Plants have no such compunctions; they thrive on, live in mess, they soak up the steaming and the stink and the shit, they writhe around in it, ardent voluptuaries of great, glorious steaming piles of shit. They love it.

Animals, no less: within hours of said mountain of dung awesomely manifesting itself on our front driveway, both of our cats had surmounted its disgusting peaks and luxuriously rolled in it, or, alternatively, supplemented this fecund, fertile foment of crapulosity with their own humble leavenings.

Neighbours, however, may need some education before they fully appreciate the significance of this great, glorious, steaming pile of elephant shit.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Zonkey poem

A zonkey, a rare cross between a zebra and a donkey, has been born at a zoo in northern Mexico. - The Telegraph, Zonkey born in a zoo in Mexico

When a zebra has some hanky panky with a funky donkey
Then, birds and bees, and A plus B and - HEY PRESTO! - zonkey!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blue clothing and smiles

A lady came round to our house to talk about investment, which is to say after her first two words, 'Well, the....', I had no idea what she was talking about. Occasionally Bea the cat walked in and out of the house and I began to wish she'd bring in a mouse or a sparrow to liven up proceedings. I looked in a glazed fashion at the succession of stock photographs flickering by on her laptop, mostly of couples wearing blue clothing and smiles. I became fascinated in these, couldn't notice anything else, started to wonder if the Baron and I should be posing like this.

At one point she talked about a 'growth matrix', and my ears really perked up. Could we have that great mythical beast, a growth profit matrix, in our own house? Eventually another one came on the screen and I almost felt like cheering. Another page in her computer seemed to simply consist of a circular red band with a word in the middle. She pressed a button and another red band appeared inside the first one, and a different word replaced the original one. I began to feel like she was giving us an ad for Target by mistake.

Why is it that these talks invariably make me look in all directions but the one I am supposed to be looking at and start obsessing about the furniture, about how pretty the mountains look on the graph, about the obscure choreography of models in stock photographs? I suppose this is a failing in me, this inability to fully appreciate portfolios, or to use phrases like 'going forward', 'fully across', 'grasping the opportunity'.

Finally the lady came to her grand conclusion, which of course I hardly noticed because I wasn't even sure what she was grandly concluding. She turned her computer off. She put it in her bag. She got ready to go. "Ooh, ooh, ooh," I cried. "Do we get a booklet?" Everyone gives you booklets. The Mormons even give you booklets; I felt sure she would have one as well. She gave us a comfortable, reassuring booklet with blue cardboard covers, rather like the comfortable, reassuring booklet with blue cardboard covers I got from the old place of employ when they made us all redundant. Ah, that's nice. We thanked the lady for her time and apologised that we couldn't do business with her and offered her dinner, which she refused, and sent her on her way.

I'm pretty sure I practiced my stock photograph posing in my sleep though.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The education of Pamela

Advocates of gradual political change would do well to study the glorious reign of Bella the Fox Terrier over the Train family affections in the later years of the 20th century. "Right", said Mum. "We have a dog, but she's not allowed inside. Dogs are outside creatures". A few months later, the rules seemed to have changed. "Okay," said Mum. "She's allowed in the laundry but not anywhere else in the house, her fur will get all over the place". Winter arrived a while after, and it's a well known fact that in winter, it is compulsory for dogs to lie in front of fireplaces and/or heaters. "Fine", said Mum. "She's allowed inside, but not into the bedrooms". Suffice to say that in short order, Bella had not only found her way into the bedrooms and onto the bed but also in the bed, which was naturally right and proper and soon became the established way of things.

As it turns out, the Baron and I have been enjoying a similar education with Pamela the chicken. Of course, chickens are outside creatures; naturally we shouldn't let them too near our food; and so on and so forth. Which is why I am currently sitting on the bed typing this with Pamela the chicken a few short metres away in the laundry, her head tucked up in her feathers, safe from everything except perhaps the occasional house fox (and the less said of house foxes the better).

Naturally when we set off to Bright we took Pamela with us, and while the other chickens enjoyed the best of the Baron's ancestral lands below, Pamela mostly hung out upstairs with the Baron and my mother-in-law and myself, watching football, playing scrabble* and eating roast lamb (which she pronounces exceedingly good). She has gone to sleep on the occasional shoulder, perched on arms and laps and even the occasional foot. And, while occasionally venturing outside to take a turn about the gardens herself, she mostly stayed indoors, so that once, as I held the door open, both cat and chicken leisurely wandered inside after me, making me feel rather like Saint Francis**.

Pamela is soon to conclude her sojourn with the Baron and myself and lead a life of active retirement at the place of K, a few kilometres away from us in Heidleberg. I'm sure K has got all sorts of jolly adventures for Pamela, including regular meals of roast lamb, cheese curds, and the occasional nap on the shoulders. She's a chicken of very refined tastes, after all.

*Here's a tip for playing scrabble with chickens: don't. They cheat by trying to eat the tiles. 

** The similarity doesn't go very far, considering my own proclivity for roast lamb.
Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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