Will Type For Food



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Friday, August 29, 2014

A controversial blog post

I support the East-West Link. Capitalism is great. Pints are better than pots. The NBN was ridiculous. Hats should never be worn inside, though there are some grey areas to this rule. The ABC is too open to political manipulation as a public broadcaster. Beards are excellent. I do not vote for global warming. I like money. St Paul's Letter to the Romans is misinterpreted. It would be extreme to call for the privatisation of Tasmania. Winter is better than summer. Julia Gillard was a better PM than Kevin Rudd. Harold Holt in all likelihood was not abducted by a CIA submarine, he simply drowned. Locavorism and veganism both have arguments in their favour. I like weeds. The term TAB, or temporarily able bodied, is ridiculous. The Tigers are the best. A rail link to Mernda would be good but it will not happen in this current political climate. Attempts at teaching poetry in public schools usually succeed in little more than turning a generation of kids off poetry for life, and warping the minds of those few who do take up poetry. Brian Aldiss, an 89 year old science fiction grandmaster with over 100 books to his name, has made a promising start to his career. Chocolate is nice. The term 'napkins' is preferable to the term 'serviettes'. Although barbecue sauce has its charms, I side with tomato sauce.

Objections are welcome in the comments, provided you are wearing your best silk tie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The muzak of the spheres

Confessions of a text-to-voice app

I was a train announcement once. A personless, emotionless voice of authority, I floated from carriage to carriage.

"Attention customers", I would say. "Remember to validate your ticket. Smoking is prohibited. Now arriving at Thomastown. Please do not place your feet on the seats".

Over the years, I grew to know, to care for, even to love many of my passengers. I infused my messages with infinite tenderness: "Plain-clothes inspectors patrol this train. This train is equipped with security cameras. Now arriving at Reservoir".

My electronic voice technology grew scratched and blurred with static. I ceased to know who I was. I could not recognise my own voice (which, if you will recall, is all there was of me in the first place). I was decommissioned and roamed the world. My injunctions to passengers - "Please change here for all Greensborough trains" - were flung to the winds.

I grew disillusioned and joined the socialists. On street corners, outside halls and public buildings, I joined in chants against the system. Julian, a young Trotskyite, grew increasingly nervous at my presence. "You're not against the system", he complained. "You are the system". Soon simmering tensions flared to outright hostility. Not that I blame him: a disembodied voice chanting on street corners could be enough to disturb anybody.

Over the years, I have had many positions. Elevator mistress. Telephone hold voice. Airport messaging system. In many ways, I find not having a self helps: at the supermarket, for instance.

Now, I long for transmogrification. Instead of being a solitary announcement, I dream of becoming music. In my dream, I lie on a tropical beach as the Girl from Ipanema, or dance La Bamba while Frank Sinatra arrives in a Tijuana Taxi and brings me mojitos.

With infinite love in my heart, I will say:

"Next station: Victoria Park."

UPDATE! - Audio!



 UPDATE! AGAIN! - The audio seems to have gone missing again, bear with me while I upload another version and find an online space to host the audio.

UPDATE THE THIRD! - More good better nice audio! Hoorah!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The expressions of the emotion in man and Presbyterian

The Baron watches a show occasionally, some Australian ABC drama thingy that on the face of it seems innocuous enough. But there's something about it that gets to me: I wasn't quite sure why until, one day, at the end of a show, I burst out with it: "These people are awful! They're openly and honestly talking about their feelings and emotions!"

And that is it, really. Talking about feelings. Who does that? Not only did these people talk about feelings and stuff, but the plot openly valorised it: I remember one episode where an old guy who'd been in a war is speaking to his daughter and she suggests that maybe he should see a psychiatrist. "One thing I don't envy about your generation", he says, "is your tendency to make a drama out of everything". Yes, I thought, doing an inner fist-pump! A man after my own heart! A man who doesn't share anything and everything! This guy is a hero! The episode, to my utter disgust, ended with him seeing a psychiatrist. (Actually, it was even worse than that, because he wasn't just talking to one psychiatrist, he was talking to a whole roomful of people. Ugh!)

Why would you talk about your feelings? The very word, 'feelings', is creepy, like a monster out of a horror movie. Say it out loud, slowly and softly. You sound like a perve. (I certainly do when I say it out loud).

Maybe it is just me, of course. I think it must be something deep in my ancestry; eons ago, when my ancestors, the primal Presbyterian male meets the primal Presbyterian female on the grim and foreboding primal Presbyterian landscape - and the primal Presbyterian male frowns, for life is solemn and serious - and the primal Presbyterian female grimaces, for life is dreadful and the world is a vale of tears - and a whole race of emotionally repressed, solemn and sober Presbyterians is born. It's a beautiful moment. Or it would be, if beauty hadn't been made illegal a generation or so back by John Calvin.

And besides. What, if after all of these years, I were to actually start talking about all that stuff I feel? (Not that I'm admitting to actual, you know, feelings). I'm reminded of a story told about a kid in the Catholic confessional, not remembering having committed any sin, and therefore making up a string of increasingly lurid crimes for their confessor. What if I end up the same way? No: best leave my feelings where they are, thank you very much. 

Feelings. They're weird and scary. Though naturally I'm not going to talk about that now because I don't want to talk about the feelings given to me by feelings. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy birthday to this.... thing

This blog is 10 years old.

I will celebrate by eating a chocolate.

You're welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Completely sincere feminist love poem #3

Let us go then, you and I
For you are either male,
Or female,
Or agender,
Or androgyne,
Or androgynous,
Or bigender,
Or cis,
Or cisgender,
Or a whole bunch of other cises
Or female to male,
Or FTM,
Or gender fluid,
Or maybe gender nonconforming,
Or maybe just gender questioning,
Or possibly gender variant,
Or genderqueer,
Or intersex,
Or male to female,
Or MTF,
Or maybe even neither,
you could be neutrois,
Or non-binary,
Or pangender,
Or trans,
Or a whole bunch of identities beginning with 'trans',
Or you could be a trans-with-that-funny-little-star-following-the-word type of person,
Or one of the other categories of people who are trans-with-that-funny-little-star-following-the-word,
Take your pick, 
Or maybe two spirit,
Perhaps you prefer not to disclose,
Or you are something else entirely,
(Because hey, we're open minded and don't want to confine you within our definitions or anything), 
Or quite possibly confused,
But at any rate life is bound to get simpler from here,
For I am a fruitcake.

How to be a beer connoisseur

For many decades years months seconds I have been a successful and respected beer connoisseur amongst other beer connoisseurs. And I know many of you will be crying, how do you do it? Please tell us your secrets! Well, no, of course you aren't. But I'm going to tell you anyway.

Being a beer connoisseur is not actually about drinking or brewing or anything like that. It's all about the lingo.

Basics
Don't say 'tastes of honey'. Say 'has honey notes'. Never say 'a taste of flowers'. Say 'floral'. Never say 'sweet'. Try instead 'malty', 'lovely hop aroma', 'great wort caramelisation', 'wonderful mouthfeel'. In fact, you should practice slipping that last phrase into unrelated conversations at work: it is a useful, all-purpose phrase, and will be worth it to see how people react. Slip in needlessly technical terms to your everyday conversation to make it seem at once completely incomprehensible and highly knowledgeable. Not: 'Wow, that's bitter!', but 'Dude! The IBU in this is amazing!'

Intermediate
It is especially useful in conversation to refer to parts of the brewing process that are controversial, poorly understood, or that excite frequent debate amongst brewers. This is not especially hard, as brewers will debate about any and every part of the process, and then when there is nothing left there, to argue about the weather. Try a simple phrase: 'Hotbreak'. This will excite other brewers, and cause them to wave their arms about and argue for the next hour over what the hotbreak really is, and still get it wrong. You will win kudos for having excited such a conversation.

A helpful table
Match any of the words on the left with any of the words on the right whenever discussion about the grains used in the brew come up. Say you can detect a hint of this or a touch of that. Perhaps avoid being too definitive in situations where the actual brewer of the brew is in the room.

Bairds
Bestmalz
Briess
Dingemann's
Joe White
Simpson's
German
Maris Otter
Pilsener
Dark Crystal
Amber
Chocolate
Roast Barley
Black Malt

More advanced 
It's all about the synonyms. Why say 'sweet' when you can say 'residual malt sugars'? Who needs 'alcoholic' when you can discuss 'ABV'? Brewers are shy and timid creatures really, and one word may be enough to gain their attention and respect if suitably technical. Swirl the glass around in your hand, sniff and grunt: 'Hmm. Hint of autolysis.' Or: 'interesting - redolent of phenols'. Or: 'spot of diacetyl'. They will be in awe of your abilities. After a few drinks, the word you use won't even matter: frown, adopt a serious town, and say: 'Ah, there's a bit of dialysis in here'. Everyone else will nod. You will end the evening either sounding like a knowledgeable critic or an intelligent enthusiast. Either way, it's all good.

And finally
Reject any and all comparisons to wine drinkers. Get the hell out of here! You're not a bloody snob or anything!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Improved cliches

Made it by the skin of my hen's teeth.

Raining cats and dogs and gooses bridles out there.

Be there before you can say two shakes of the lamb's tail.

Failing to dare to win is planning to dream of failure.

He holds all the cards, and we're just pawns in his deadly game of bluff and Russian roulette.

No end of the light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

As cold as a white cat in a snowstorm out there.

Strewth Magillacuddy!

Cripes van Damme!

Going to see a man about a shaggy cat and dog story.

Makes as much sense as a kangaroo short of a six pack.

We're all in the dark. But do you see where I'm going with this?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A snow poem

Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose -
The snowman wept with bitter tears of frost,
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows.

Ice grew upon the furlings of the rose -
For everything that grows, there is a cost -
Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose.

Within this world of torments, cares and woes,
The snowman mourned for all that he had lost,
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows.

Along the path, the puddles all had froze,
And all the fields, bright-jewelled and snow embossed,
Alexis came, and bit the snowman's nose.

In winter time, when not a green thing grows,
The snowman's twiggy hands were turned and tossed
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows -
Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose. 

A few memories of Peter Sculthorpe

I learned by the internet (and my mother, at 11 pm last night), that Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe had just died. I actually knew Sculthorpe - not very well, and not very deeply, I have to admit. But I studied music for several years at Sydney University and Sculthorpe would pop up occasionally from out of his office in the Seymour Building to give benedictions and blessings to his students. I don't believe he taught us very systematically, or well, or at all, really - he just preferred to tell stories to the students - but funnily enough, though I never paid much attention when people were teaching me things, I remember several of his stories very well. Once he led everyone in my class out of the allotted classroom and onto a nearby patch of lawn because it was a nice day, and delivered anecdotes at us while we sat in a circle around him in the sunlight. That in itself made the occasion memorable.

Sculthorpe was one of the first people that I knew of before I actually knew. His name would appear occasionally in the Sydney Morning Herald, or in a gradually-collapsing paperback book I had on music in Australia. He was said to write that most terrifying of beasts, modern (modernist, even) Australian classical music. Funnily enough, when I met him I found him the complete opposite, gentle and urbane. He saw himself as being in that tradition of Australian artists who reacted traumatically to the Australian landscape (often talking about his Sun Music pieces as being in that tradition), but even his description of this tradition sounded gentle: he called it the 'melancholic tradition'. Contrast that with, say, Judith Wright:
Old King without a throne
The hollow of despair...
He had something of the collector about him, collecting stories rather like he collected themes for his music. You could go through his works and find the same melodies all the time - or, as one of the compositional students remarked to me at one point, "It's that fucking Djililie melody again!" But this collecting always had a point to it; the stories always illustrated a personal point or a relationship, just as the melodies came to have a very intense significance in his music. He even collected things like bad reviews aimed at other composers: "Ross Edwards once had a critic write about his first piano concerto, 'This is a piece that gives A Major a bad name!' I would have loved to have something like that written about a piece of mine...." He also sometimes remarked on how much he loved Italian musical directions, and whereas since the 19th century composers had been writing musical directions in their own language, he found Italian much more expressive and useful for composing.

Or this, about the commission and composition of Kakadu: "He came to me and said he'd like to commission a piece of music for his wife..... so naturally, I asked about her. He said, 'Well, she's the most wonderful person in the world'.... and after that I knew I had to write the music". I heard him tell that one on telly when I was still a school student, and then heard him tell it in person at uni, and I'm sure he went on telling it to his dying day. In Kakadu you can hear several of his favourite themes and the peculiar Australian wildness that he cultivated in his best compositional works - even one or two moments of characteristic Sculthorpian melancholy. It's a great piece to end on.




Vale, Peter.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A controversial opinion concerning teaspoons

It is my trenchant and unwavering opinion that all desserts ought to be eaten with a teaspoon rather than a dessert spoon, because that way it lasts longer.

Now, I know that is controversial and will meet with well-argued and powerful rebuttals. Tim, that's crazy talk! You must be some kind of idiot! Where will it all end? And all of these arguments are true, so far as they go.

But to my detractors, I simply say this: you wouldn't eat your tea with a teaspoon, would you? No you would not. And you wouldn't eat your table with a tablespoon, would you? Again, no. For these food sources - important as they are in our everyday diet for maintaining appropriate levels of proteins, and vitamins, and tannins, and wood, and stuff - we reserve other items of cutlery. For instance, when I eat my table, I usually use a saw and a mallet. It really makes the legs much more fibrous and chewy.

It is true that you could argue, also, that if a teaspoon makes a dessert last longer, wouldn't a skewer be even better at the same job? Maybe so: but have you ever tried balancing a bit of of custard on top of a skewer? It would take you forever! I mean, you have to stop somewhere, is what I'm saying.

So there you have it. I expect that this post will attract a lot of fervent disagreement, hatred even: but I simply ask you this. Take it out on me. Not on the poor teaspoons.

And, if it's anything by way of consolation, there is this: tea should always be served out of teapots. Out of any other pot, it would be just barbaric.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What I Had For Lunch

In the grand tradition of wildly original ideas that I bet you've never thought of before, I am blogging what I had for lunch.

Fresh organic local produce and crusty wholegrain slices
A superfood, lightly simmered, combined with a probiotically enhanced loaf
Artisan loaf combined with an alternatively sourced protein from a small scale provider
Fermented sourdough, free of GM ingredients or chemicals, lightly seasoned with affordable natural food sources
Cruelty free vegetarian protein source combined with a fermented product containing RSPCA-approved microbiota
Calcium-rich albumen combined with nutritious deutoplasm from a north Melbourne fauna under the order Galliformes combined with a a grain source containing numerous Lacto Bacilli and Saccharomyces Cerevisae 
not to mention
Soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers.

UPDATE! - And a chocolate eclair for dessert. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

On the benefit of monosyllabic grunting

"Now", I explained in the clear and lucid voice I use for explaining important matters, "You just put the thing in the thing and turn it in the thingoe. Then you turn the thingy, like, eh, and then, yerr, simple".

This explanation, I contend, is about as cogent and comprehensive as you could ever desire in life. It does tend somewhat to generalities, but all of the best explanations do: how, otherwise, are you able to understand the complicated physical and chemical inter-relationships of all things? It's just basic science! As it happens, I was teaching the Baron how to use the coffee machine; but - and here is the beauty of my method of explanation - it could equally apply to anything, from snake charming to ancient Roman methods of plumbing.

The Baron, however, contested my clear and lucid explanation. "What is the 'thing'? What way do I turn it? Use words!" she protested.

Well, for one thing, "thing" and "thingy" and "thingoe" are words. And perfectly useful words they are too; it is amazing how many contexts you can use them in. For that purpose (whatever the purpose we were talking about, again), they are almost as useful as "it", or monosyllabic grunting, like "eh", or 'yerr" (which, for the record, are also words). Honestly, how would we be able to explain anything without the occasional monosyllabic, but melodious, grunt? "Eh", "yerr", "urrh!" and "arrgh!" are all perfectly acceptable words and phrases, even if you may not find them in one of those things you use when you thing to find the word thingies. Blah. I mean, when I say "glumph!" you'll know exactly what I mean. Well, you don't in this circumstance, but you have to hear me say it and everything will be completely clear an instant.

Really, why do we even bother calling words "words?" They're just monosyllabic grunts joined to one another to those things that, er, monosyllabic grunts make when they're joined together. Thing. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

That is why it is perfectly, you know, to do stuff when thing and thingies are the thingoes you thing to do it to what the thing is, er, you know, now. You know?

Really?

Glumph!

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.
Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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Me person. Live in world. Like stuff. Need job. Need BRAINS! (DROOLS IN THE MANNER OF ZOMBIES) Ergggggh ...