kidattypewriter

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An Exercise in Comparative Literature



For decades, the debate has been raging amongst literary scholars: "Which is better? James Joyce, or a train timetable?"

On the one hand, there are the scholars who argue that we live in an everchanging, metatextual world, and that we should be prepared to let in all types of literature to the canon. On the other hand, there are the classical scholars who think we should just stick with the train timetable.

So what's so good about James Joyce, anyway? Can it do something useful, like tell us when and where to catch a train?

In this essay, I propose to help settle this crucial philosophical debate once and for all by performing a comparative study.

ULYSSES vs THE BROADMEADOWS AND UPFIELD TRAIN TIMETABLE
A Study In Literary Quality

***

Let us consider the table. I have listed a number of criteria by which we may judge our two texts:



CriteriaTrain TimetableUlysses
What does it do?Helps you get from A to BHelps get you from A to L by way of Z, and making a slight detour through G and U before considering the Freudian and Jungian qualities of the letter S
What does it describe?Trains departing from and arriving at various train stationsA day in the life of various Dubliners.
Best Line"Challenges lie ahead, but we believe we have the experience, knowledge and vision to consolidate the network.""Thou has done a doughty deed! Thou art the remarkablest progenitor barring none in this chaffering allincluding farraginous chronicle. Astounding!"
Worst Line"Challenges lie ahead, but we believe we have the experience, knowledge and vision to consolidate the network.""Poor Dignam!"
Difficulty levelEasy to read, and you don't have to read all of it to get the general idea. It is a bit boring.Diufficult to read, and once you get through it all, you realise you have no idea what the fuck it was all about. It is a bit boring, even if you do read it.

Clearly, our two texts are very closely matched.

***

Let us next consider some of the pros and cons of each text ...

TimetableUlysses
Pro: Can tell you when trains arrive

Con: Trains are often late.

Pro: The letters and numbers are printed in a variety of pretty colours and shapes, making for a pleasing aesthetic experience.

Con: The literary quality is execrable.

Pro: Can be used as a bookmark, thus making it even more useful.

Con: Can be used as a bookmark in Ulysses.

Pro: Can tell you everything you need to know about the 8.27pm train from Kensington.

Con: You don't want to know. No, really, you don't.
Pro: Can't tell you when the trains arrive, but they'll be late anyway.

Con: A late train is better than no train at all.

Pro: Learned literary scholars tell us that it is quite well written.

Con: But alas, it is nothing without the pretty colours. :(

Con: Huge book. Can not be used as a bookmark, ever.

Pro: Can not be used as a bookmark in another copy of Ulysses.

Con: Cannot tell you all about the 8.27pm train from Kensington.

Pro: What if you want to catch that train?


***

In this final section, I will consider the opinions of various literary scholars, and attempt to draw a conclusion.

According to Fotheroy, Joyce was a "luminous beacon of twentieth century literature, an inspiration to all humanity. In these troubled times, we should all read some more James Joyce." But in the considered opinion of Jervinski, Fotheroy was a dirty old man who liked to invite young men to his office and fondle their lily-white bottoms. Arthurs-Ramfellough is on record as saying, "I do like to sit down with a nice cup of tea and a copy of the latest train timetable." On the other hand, we must give equal weight to the arguments of Jeeves, Blubinski, and Wuggles, who have stated that Ramfellough enjoyed writhing around naked in a bathtub of hot spam, singing all of Elton John's lesser-known hits.

In Conclusion:
I think I need a drink. Thank you for your time.

Tim Train

In next week's Exercise in Comparitive Literature, Tim asks the question: "Is it appropriate to read the Bible naked? If so, in what circumstances?"




Cross posted on Intersecting Lines.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

God Versus the Publishers

Dear Publishers,

I enclose the manuscript for a semi-autobiographical novel of my own. I've been working on it, on and off, for the past three thousand years.

God.

***

Dear Mr God,

Thank you for taking the time to send your manuscript into us. We read it through to the end, and really liked it! The comedy passages in Deuteronomy were particularly original.

Unfortunately, we do not feel that we are able to publish it in its current form. A little too much violence - it wouldn't appeal to the demographic we feel you're trying to reach. Also, it appears to be written mostly in ancient Hebrew.

The Publishers.

***

Dear P.,

Fine. I've put together a little translation, which I hope you're happy with. But the violence stays. For I, your God, am a jealous God, and I'll give you a jolly good smiting if you start censoring my text, you see if I don't. Plus, it adds to the dramatic tension. See?

G.

***

Hi God.

Well, thanks. We must admit, we didn't expect you to translate it into an obscure and unpronounceable pre-Miltonian dialect of English. It's a good thing we had a scholar on England before the time of Cromwell in our staff, otherwise it might have been a bit difficuilt to understand.

However, we've still got a few complaints.

1) The passage about Adam and Eve seems to contradict, plot-wise, with the other account of creation contained in your opening chapter.

2) We're not convinced by the character of Balaam's Ass. Sure, he's just a minor character: but could you flesh him out a bit? Why is it necessary to have a talking donkey there in the first place?

3) We'd be interested if you extended out The Song of Solomon for a few scenes. I mean let's not be prudish here: our readers like a bit of tit and cock.

4) We are a bit perplexed by your decision to make the book into a duology. Surely it could be split more evenly into a trilogy? Or even a tetraology? And frankly, the whole of the second book (tentatively titled 'New Testament' at the moment) seems just a bit overwrought.

5) Enough already with the begats! Or, if you must put them in, could you concentrate on the begatting process and less on who got begat? (See our comments re: 3, above).

6) Before we forget, the NAME. Could you have come up with anything worse? The Bible? What on earth does it MEAN?
Here are some of our suggestions:

The Jerusalem Protocol
My Struggle
God: The Book of the Film (don't worry, if your book does get published, we'll arrange the film rights soon enough)
Heaven a Good Time, Wish You Were Here

7) We feel as if your appeal could also be extended to the sci-fi market. Do you think you could put in a scene with lasers and a couple of androids?

Just one?

The Publishers.

***

Hi. Read your suggestions. Are you guys trying to ruin my book? I've poured my heart and soul into it, dammit, and you're trying to suck all the life out of it. Firstly:

1) No. The Adam and Eve bit stays. They're crucial characters for the rest of the series.

2) Oh, would you like him to do a little song and dance as well? Quit pressuring me. I think it's impressive enough that he speaks at all. I mean, does your dog speak to YOU? Of course not.

3) Fine, I've put it in with this letter. Happy now?

4) No. The duology structure is crucial. The whole second part is about my relationship with my son, see? I don't think Junior would be impressed if I started and chopping changing with that bit. And believe me, he's a guy with a lot of power.

5) You filthy minded sods, what have you been doing with my book, using it as a Playboy spank rag? I don't do porn, thanks very much. I do do *erotica*, yes, but I don't do porn.

6) Pitiful wretches. If it were possible for me to blaspheme, then that is what I would be doing right now. No. The name STAYS. Ye of little faith!

7) Alright, alright, I've been working on this short story, got Purple Women and Four headed beasts aplenty. Space opera sort of thing, called 'Revelations'. It's enclosed. Happy now?

G.

***

Mr God,

Unfortunately, if you're going to be so intractable, we don't feel we can publish your book. Anyway, the bottom's fallen out of the semiautobiographical-novel market. Why don't you try writing some chic-fic? Judging from your 'Book of Esther', you could do quite well in the romantic comedy genre.

The Publishers.

Who The Hell

Who is this weirdo that has just started posting over at Intersecting Lines? Anyway, I wouldn't have anything to do with him if I were you. But stick with me. You can trust me, dear reader.

Typing For Food

Not that I don't like my job. All I do is listen to radio all day and type and when it gets quiet, I'm able to nip down to the video archives downstairs and get a copy of a Doctor Who repeat. But eleven hours straight at the job is excessive. Argh. I think my back wants to kill someone.

Anyway, from practical experience, here are a few insights I'd like to offer:

- Some people should really learn English as a second language, because they're crap at English as a first language.

- For an android, Kevin Rudd does a surprisingly good imitation at humour. It's only when you do several Rudd press conferences that you realise he says the same thing, over and over. He doesn't quite seem to get that this whole 'communication' thing involves saying different things occasionally.

- When a politician issues a media alert, be alarmed. Be very alarmed.

- A moratorium should be imposed on the following words and phrases:

Um
Ah
Like
Sort of
You know
Whatever
Now can I just say this (Kevin Rudd, I'm looking in your direction)

- Also, there should be a strict rationing on words and phrases including, but not limited to, the following:

Maybe
Possibly
Most of
Probably
In all likelihood

If we had only one of those per sentence, we might be able to avoid tortuous sentences which wrench several of these phrases into close proximity in a desperate attempt to avoid saying anything.

- Billy the Mime would make a better radio presenter than Neil Mitchell.

That's all. For the moment.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Mild Speech To My Skin Condition

Hi there, Mild Case of Eczema! How good to see you back! Comparatively, at least. I mean, I'd rather have you round than a Mild Case of Ebola or a Mild Case of Death.

Come right in. Make yourself at home. Don't worry about me (you never have, after all.) There's a nice seat over there, why don't you get comfortable while I ... no? You'd prefer to take up residency around my fingers and toes? Mild Case of Eczema, what is it with you and intimacy? How many times have I said we're just friends?

And that following thing: quit going wherever I go! Honestly, you're worse than a bad smell. Do you think that you could detach yourself from my body just while I go to work? No?
Well, how about this then? Why don't I go over to do the washing up in the sink, and then, for no reason at all, sink my fingers into it until you hurt so much that you'll drop off by yourself?
No. Well, how about I get this axe, and I put my fingers down here, and I ... I mean, sure, there'd be blood and everything, but ... no? You don't like that idea, either?

Mild Case of Eczema, why don't you mildly take a long walk off a short pier?

Arsehole.

New Political Nomenclature

and by the way, mr tim blair, the use of the word "leftoid" is childish and stupid.

CommenterThorn at Anonymous Lefty.

In the name of fairness and goodness, I'd like to propose these following Alternative Names for "Leftoids":

Nice People!

Cuddly Caring Sharing Creatures!

Michael Moore Fan Club!

Totally Not Evil People, not Like Those Nasty Right Wing Death Beasts!

Leftobots!

Progressanoids!

Liberalleftleaningbleedingheartcommunistsocialistpilgerreadinglovebeasts!

And in the names of truth and justice and fair play, here are some alternative names for "Right Wing Death Beasts":

Puppy killers!

Scourge of all kittens!

Nasty people!

Fascist Wingnut Swine!

Warmongrels!

Bushonauts!

Totalitarianaut!

Hitlerians!

Killerconservobeings!

Those Naughty People Who Vote Differently!

That Person Who I Don't Want To Speak To At The Dinner Table!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Australia Day Post!

If you're reading this overseas, you probably haven't heard that it's Australia Day at the moment, and if you haven't, then you probably won't be too interested in hearing about the history of Australia, which is why I'm going to tell you anyway.
Actually, there's not that much to tell. Australia is basically a normal land full of ordinary people doing everyday things, like watching television, getting married, drinking tea, and fondling rhinoceroses. That might seem a little odd, but many of us are descended from English people, and to them, drinking tea is a completely ordinary, everyday thing to do in the morning before they go off to fondle their neighbourhood rhinoceros.
I guess the getting married thing is a bit weird too. In some countries like America, getting divorced is more the thing. Divorce is popular over here too, but remember that we have to get married to get divorced, otherwise it would ruin the magic of the moment.

Some facts about Australia:
1) The liberal political party are called Labor and the conservative political party are called the Liberals!
2) What the Europeans call football, we call soccer; and what we call football, the Europeans don't call anything at all. Also, what the Americans call football seems weird and a little bit scary to us!
3) Since we walk on the bottom side of the earth, we walk on our heads and have to wear weights to stop us falling off. You might think that this wearing weights thing makes us heavier and makes it easier for us to fall off, and actually, you have a
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h point. But I've never let a good point get in the way of my writing.

We use some funny words over here in Australia. For instance, we eat our breakfast with a 'spoon', we eat our lunch and dinner with a 'fork' and 'knife', and we eat off items of cutlery that we call 'bolymakapulics'. Also, we call our mother 'Mum' and our father 'Dad', and we refer to our Aunts and Uncles with names like 'Sithering' and 'Blugalug'. Some Americans are put off by the fact that in Australia we drive on the left side of the road, and not the right; but to make matters easier for them, to us, 'left' means 'right' and 'right' means 'left'. Also, what you call a lie is called 'truth' over here. This means that, if you ever come to visit Australia, and you ask for advice, then you should probably do the exact opposite of what we tell you. Seriously.
We have some interesting customs here, too. For instance, we used to have something over here called 'Daylight savings', which means that once every year we turn the clock back one hour, and then six months after that, we turned the clock forward one hour. Nobody knew why they did this, but this was tradition, and there's no way we'd go against tradition. Eventually, someone put forward the theory that by turning the clock back, we gave ourselves an extra hour in every day. Then someone else suggested that if instead of turning the clock back an hour every day, we turned the clock back a day every hour, we'd get several extra days in the one hour. This made plenty of sense to us, seeing as we were drunk at the time, so now we do that instead.

Anyway, that's enough about Australia. I hope you'll all come to visit us, or come here for a holiday - whichever comes first. G'day, mates!

Funny To Be Trying

Lots of debate, starting here, about people who try to be funny.

When it comes to humour, some people are serious about being funny, and some people are funny about being serious. Then there are the people who are serious about being serious and the people who are funny about being funny. Only thing is, the people who are serious about anything are usually funny, though they don't mean to be; and the people who are funny about everything usually have a serious problem.

Who knows? Maybe we should never try to be funny, not because we might end up being funny, but because we end up looking like people who are trying to be funny. Or, then again, maybe we should take advice from P.J. O'Rourke, who says

When you're being run over by a car, you'll be serious about it.

Or maybe, when it comes to being serious, or being funny, we should only ever be serious about being serious (but in a funny way) or funny about being funny (but in a serious way).

UPDATE! - Now that I read over that post again, it makes no sense at all. Looks like my writing has lived up to its usual low standards, then!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Inspiring Epigram For Dogs

To sniff, to spring, to bark - and not to heel.

Alfred Sheepdog Tennyson.

Dispatches From The Bureau Of Grammatological Regulation

There is a God, and he reserves an especially painful place in hell for all those who misplace apostrophes. This week, several alerts have landed on my desk from our team, informing me of flagrant underuse, abuse, or misuse of the apostrophe.

From Ontario, Canada:

"Steves not here, he's having an affair."

From Kraspenville, New Zealand:

"What about your's truly?"

Add to this several examples of the mixing up of the words 'It's' and 'Its' from various locations in Australia.

The offenders have all been identified by our informant network, and will be harshly dealt with.






Today a particularly ugly memo fell on my desk. It read:

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

If I had not known better, I would have thought that someone was laughing at me. However, I immediately recognised it as a 'Punctuation Inquiry' form from our Bolivian offices. I briefly contemplated how it might begin:

"HA: HA HA, HA HA, HA HA, HA. HA ..." (etc)

or:

"HA, HA; HA, HA; HA, HA. HA!" (etc)

or even:

"HA ... HA ... HA ... HA ... (HA HA HA HA HA) ..." (etc)

However, it was unclear from the meaning of the passage which would be more suitable. I duly filed the form away to be sent to my superiors, and went about my business.






Once a man found his way into these offices. He was screaming and gibbering and rending his hair, like a beast from out of the jungle. I sat him down, soothed him, told him to calm down, and bought him a cup of tea. Finally, I recognised him: it was Jones that I had worked with for so many years! It was then that I realised what had happened to him: some years ago, Jones had made a minor error of punctuation - using a semicolon where a colon would do, or some such offence - and, as a major of rote, had been sent in to the camps for Grammatological Correction. I had never thought to see him again.

Sometimes it is not easy, living under the constant dread of Grammatological Correction. I have to keep a close eye on my Capitals. They are especially liable to overuse.






I have a particularly interesting task today:

DIE PIGGY DIE DIE PIGGY DIE PIGGY DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE PIGGY DIE ALL PIGGIES ARE SATANIC TOOLS DIE PIGGY YOU DIE PIGGY MUST DIE PIGGY

What is the clearest way of punctuating this sentence? It was a fragment of text scrawled on a scrap of paper lying at the bottom of a bin. Thankfully, it was spotted by one of our agents in London, and bought in to our offices.

After I have pulled the sentence in to shape, it may be put to good use in the world, in a death letter, or an official government form. I am at times very proud of my work.






A warning today from someone calling herself Alfina. It turned up on my desk, on the back of a postcard (it had a picture of Venice on the front).

"It has come to our attention that you have not been paying much attention to your use of the full stop." she writes. "Heed our memo! If you do not use the full stop more judiciously, then I will put a full stop to you. Period."

I don't know who this Alfina is, but she's obviously very high up in our organisation (and believe me, it's quite big.)
I'd better be more careful from now on.






Can't sleep. Or rather, don't want to sleep. Am suffering from constant nightmares. I dream I am an ellipsis, coming at the end of a long short story (or possibly a short long story) by a famous author, possibly Borges. The story is also a single sentence. I always wake up, yelling hysterically, and crying; wondering what is to come next.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bark to Nature

An Ode to the White Dog In The Park

Dear White Dog In The Park,
You see the pigeons. I see you.
I know what you want to do:
To spring amongst them -
To set them furiously fluttering,
To cause chaotic curlicues and see the flustered feathers wheel in wild whorls -
Yes. I know this, White Dog.
Before the Man-Thing comes to take you home,
Before the Holy Minute of Meat,
There comes this moment:
You must do this, White Dog. Yes.
Leap amongst the pigeons -
Seize the moment! Do it now!
Chase the pigeons, White Dog!
Chase them, White Dog! Chase them!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Remake of the Year

Just been to see The Producers. You haven't seen The Producers? See it. Here are some of the reasons why:

"I smell the stench of someone developing a sense of self esteem!"

"I'm not sure that that's necess ..."
"Yes, it is necess! Absolutely necess!"

"There's more to you than there is to you!"
"Mr Bialystock! You've made a terrible mistake! I have no spine!"

"Or you will meet your dess!"
"Dess? I don't know what dess is. Is it anything like death?"
"YETHHHH!"

"I haffn't been so happy since zey conquered Poland!"

"We made the wrong musical, with the wrong actors, and the wrong director. Where did everything go so right?"

It's hilarious. And if that doesn't convince you, go read this bad review of same film:

I know no-one should ever really expect anything particularly classy from the mind of Mel Brooks; his is a style reserved for bad taste comedy, Saturday afternoon schlock and incredibly un-PC spoofs. But this version of The Producers takes on a new level. Its crassness comes from a different time, and sorely deserved an upgrade. It does have its moments, and Nathan Lane is absolutely brilliant as the pathetic Bialystock, but overall this was a badly made movie of a poorly adapted musical of an OK movie.

Now, with that, er, recommendation, how could you not go?

The Age Letters Page

The Age Letters page? It's the twitty trying to be witty.

UPDATE! - Oh, stop complaining. Somebody had to say it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The International Day of Not Very Much

Today is the International day of Not Very Much! You celebrate it by leaning, loitering, lying, lazing, lolling about, lollygagging, and by putting off for the day after what you had been meaning to do tomorrow.

I'll be back in a little while to give more details about it, if I could be bothered.

UPDATE! - The International Day of Not Very Much started twenty years ago (or some such period of time), when Mr Blewis got out of bed and decided that they'd rather go back to bed instead.
He spent the next ten hours of the day (which he should have been using to paint the house, clean his garage, mow the lawn, walk the dog, call his mother, or rearrange his bookshelf) by avoiding any exercise whatsoever. This was a bit difficult at first, as it took a bit of effort; the trick, he found, was not to think about it too much.

Some things you might like to do on the International Day of Not Very Much:

- Watch television in a relaxed fashion!

- Idly leaf through a book of short stories without really bothering to read it! (That's just a little too much exercise for your eyes)

- Scrutinise a rose on a rose-bush to see if you can catch it growing!

- Contemplate the various types of apathy that it is possible for a person to experience, and count how many of them you have experienced!

- Have a long and leisurely bath (but only if it's not too much trouble running it*)

- Do Nothing in Particular for lengthy periods of time, and then continue to do it!

Over time, thanks to the determined apathy of its thousands of international celebrants, the 'International Day of Not Very Much' can extend into an 'International Week of Not Very Much'.** For God's sake, don't worry about it. Once you start worrying, you might end up doing things again. And nobody wants that.

*I suggest getting a slave to run it for you.

** Sometimes, it can even turn into an 'International Year of Not Very Much' - an ideal arrangement, since by the time the year ends, the next 'International Day of Not Very Much' comes around, and can be turned into an 'International Year of Not Very Much', through very little effort.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mispelling Is Vulgar

People, help me out here. I've got a problem. How do you spell 'cocksucker'? Is it with a hyphen? Without? Is it one word, or two words?

I wouldn't want to mispell it. That would be just rude.

UPDATE! - And while we're working on this problem, let's try a couple of other ones as well.

1) 'Arsehole' or 'Asshole'? It depends what website you log on to. Being an Australian, I favour the Macquarie Dictionary spelling ('Arsehole').

Dictionary.com (an American website) also has one entry under 'Arsehole':

arsehole

n : excretory opening at the end of the alimentary canal [syn: anus, arse, asshole]

What do you think, readers? Both spellings have certain advantages.

2) Is there such a thing as a 'fucktard'? The word is not listed in Macquarie Dictionary, not even if it is hyphenated. Ditto Dictionary.com (which asks 'Did you mean "fucated"?)

If the word 'fucktard' is not listed in any dictionary, then do fucktards exist? Or are they just the figment of our collective imaginations?

3) Are there any synonyms for the term 'bitchface'? Macquarie, Dictionary, and Thesaurus give no help whatsoever. It's almost as if ... they're censoring the English language!

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE! - A conversation I had a while ago about the dichotomy between "Ass" and "Arse":

bbridges,

how do you distinguish between an ass (donkey) and an arse (backside)?
Pedantically yours, TimT

***

TimT,

I read somewhere that the difference between "arse" and "ass" is the difference between Rugby and American Football.

But I find "ass" to be a bit more vulgar and thus more american. "Arse" to American ears sounds a little formal. It seems the impact would be lost if I shouted "Kiss my Arse!" to somebody over here. And if you threatened to kick somebody's arse, you'd probably be laughed out of the bar.

***

I think that's a good point. In general, 'ass' probably suits the American accent better; Australians prefer to extend their vowels. But I also like the 'formality', so-called, of the Australian 'arse': the 'r' rounds the word off; metaphorically shaping the word in the same way as an arse gives shape to the body.

A final point: going back a few hundred years, we find the spelling 'Ers' by Chaucer:

But with his mouth, he kiste hir naked ers
Full savorly

And also:

And out his ers he putteth pryvely
Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;

Hmmm. 'Arse', 'Ass', or 'Ers'. Your thoughts?

Noncooperatives

If you're thinking of joining up with a co-operative, then don't. I was a member of a co-operative in Newcastle. We were supposed to co-operating to get a zine out every couple of months, but the one thing with co-operatives is, they can't co-operate. Instead, they concern themselves with writing minutes (which turn out to be hours), making petty arguments (which usually turn out to be about things they agree over), and grumbling about money that they don't get from politicians who probably shouldn't be having it in the first place.

As a matter of fact, the main thing about co-operatives is, they're uncooperative.

And the same goes for just about every other group: 'Organisations' are disorganised, 'Committees' are very rarely committed, and people in 'communes' can't communicate. In the world of politics, 'socialism' is, by and large, unsociable; 'communism' is invariably uncommunal, and 'Tolerant Liberalism' is usually extremely conservative.

So, if you belong to any group of any sort in this modern world, then you can pretty much take for granted that nothing is what it means. In older, simpler days, this would have meant that the world is full of liars; but hey, this is the modern world, get with the program, man!

In fact, the consistency with which this rule applies is such that it even extends to terms used within large groups of people. 'Managers' manage nothing; 'Administrators' administrate even less, and 'board meetings' may be full of bored people, but there is not a board in sight. If someone says to you they want to 'get to the bottom of things', then they don't; if someone else says they want to 'clarify matters', then they won't; and if someone else says they want to 'validate the productivity and efficiency gains made in the last quarter', then nobody knows what the fuck they mean, least of all themselves.

***

One of my favourite quotes in Pulp Fiction comes (I think) from Samuel Jackson, when he holds up a roadside diner, with the words, 'Everybody, keep calm, cooperate, and this will all be over in a minute.'
I just wonder what it would be like if Samuel Jackson tried to do this at a modern board meeting. Firstly, nobody would cooperate, and the 'minute' would probably turn into five-and-three-quarter hours (not including lunch breaks). As a matter of fact, before said people in the board meeting did anything, Samuel Jackson would probably just give up, and shoot their dumb brains out.

It's food for thought, kids. Food for thought.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Facts About Australian Flora and Fauna

Thinking of visiting Australia? Good for you! Australia is the greatest country in the world, except for most of the others, and features many fascinating sites of interest, like the Sydney Opera House and the steps leading up to the Sydney Opera House!

However, a visit to Australia is not without it's downside; you will always have to be on the lookout for our wildlife. We possess a great many venomous, poisonous, carnivorous, and otherwise ominous species, such as the Goth, the Bogan, the Yobbo, the Redneck, and the Feral. And then there's the animals ...

So, if you come to Australia, you'll have to prepare yourself. Familiarise yourself with the police stations in the area you are visiting, and arm yourself with the local weaponry, such as you may find at any store ...

KOALA BEARS

Nearly every Australian carries a pet Koala Bear with them these days. This is because, ever since colonial days, we have had a regulation in place in the Australian constitution, ensuring that we have 'a right to Bear arms.' Koala Bears, as everyone knows, make an excellent weapon ina pinch, attacking the opposition's eyes and head. In this way, crime rates in Australia have been kept to a minimum. However, Australians always have to remember to feed their bears the occasional Eucalyptus leaf, or the bears will turn on them, too.

If you are visiting Australia, or planning on it, then I recommend you do it with a Koala Bear.*

*This may be purchased at any reputable Koala Bear vendor. Eucalypt leafs sold separately.

KANGAROOS

When large gatherings are present, police are sometimes forced to resort to the Boxing Kangaroo. As you know, the kangaroo, as a beast, has been highly trained in the art of pugilism by officials in ASIO, and can keep large crowds subdued with ease.
Nowadays, police have also resorted to the Wrestling Rock Wallaby, and the Ninjitsu Numbat (a creature which has been schooled in the secret and deadly art of Ninjitsu, and which wields the nunchuckas with fearsome accuracy!)

BOX JELLYFISH

More and more Australians (particularly children) have taken to keeping Box Jellyfish as pets. This is because they make an excellent defensive weapon in any fight. A jellyfish can be taken anywhere (if you have a tank and keep it on a leash); and, on a command from the owner*, can leap on the assailant and sting them with its poisoned tentacles.

Jellyfish are indeed a versatile defensive tool: they can be balanced over doors and drop onto the heads of unwary burglars. In addition, if your child is being bullied at school, you may consider getting them a jellyfish for a pet. As a rule, they make excellent domestic pets, are gentle and playful with children, and greatly enjoy being fed treats such as jellybabies** and lozenges.

*Eg, Fluffy, ATTACK!!!
** Keep them out of the reach of real babies, otherwise they'll get confused.

DROP BEARS

Once thought to be a myth, Drop Bears are, in fact, one of the more magnificent examples of Australian Fauna. About the size of a grizzly bear, Drop Bears are a marsupial that nest in trees or unoccupied buildings, and drop on wallabies for food. They are nocturnal, and are said to be related to the bat.
In the past few years, Australian Government's have been examining ways to use the Drop Bears for the Greater Good, and have been trialling Drop Bear programs in the major cities, so far, to major success. Whenever a Drop Bear spys a felon engaging in felonious activities, it is trained to silently and stealthily fall upon the unsuspecting person, and carry them away to the nearest police station. In only one or two cases, the Drop Bear has given into hunger and eaten the criminal ...

SNAKES

Snakes make an excellent weapon, as they can be hidden away in pockets and taken out when attacked and swung in the enemies face. Some of the more popular snakes are the Red Bellied Back Snake, and the Sea Snake. Their venom is said to be so strong that they can stop a criminal in their tracks.

When taking snakes from your pocket, be sure to be wearing firm gloves. If you have no gloves, just ask your boyfriend or girlfriend to take them out for you.

BUNYIPS

The famous Bunyip roams through the country at night, alert for any signs of incipient criminality in the nation's youth. Whenever a little boy or girl say a swear word, or refuse to eat their vegetables, or inadvertently yawn when speaking to very boring and very rude adults, then they are taken away to the Bunyip's lair. Here they are reformed, and made to perform socially useful deeds, such as planting trees, writing dictionaries, or learning to play rare and neglected musical instruments, such as the Krumhorn.

RED ANTS

Patrolling the remote areas of Australia, the 'Red Ant' Brigade has rescued many lost children or travellers. After years of scientic testing, Australian biologists have taught the ants to perform many activities, including:

- Bringing lost people food and water;

- Rescuing puppies from burning cars;

- Carrying babies back to civilisation;

- And forming rudimentary messages* that can be seen by air rescue squads.

Yes, Australia's outback would be a much more dangerous place if it weren't for the intrepid deeds of derring-do by our very own 'Red Ant' Brigade!

*These messages may include small details such as directions, and information about medical and dietary needs, number of people found, etc, etc.


NEXT WEEK - AUSTRALIA'S DEADLIEST FLORA, INCLUDING PATERSON'S CURSE, THE SINGING NETTLE, THE HYACINTH (THAT ATE HYACINTH), AND THE BRISVEGAS MAN-TRAP (otherwise known as Darlenus Taylorus)!*

*Disclaimer: she's not really a man trap, guys.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Now You Know Your ABC

This account of the ABC of old is rather charming:

Incredible though it may seem, the ABC used to be unbiased. In the 1950s and 1960s Channel 2 did not have bellowing advertisements for itself between programs. Instead it had a few well-spoken women, such as Corinne Kirby and Ruth Nye, who would sit in an arm chair, with a vase of flowers nearby, and simply chat to the viewers. Other ways of filling up the five or ten minutes between shows were with songs by a pair of Scandinavian folk singers called Nina and Frederick, who were a bit like Peter, Paul and Mary - if you took out Paul. Other fillers were short, relaxing films of cats trying to open a door, or peaceful scenes of farm life.

In those days ABC television really didn't have advertisements - unlike the ABC television of today.

That's from Diogene's Lamp. I'm not sure who the fellow is that writes it, but he describes himself as having 'a mordant eye', and has a penchant for one-liners by people like Menzies and Mencken - not to mention Breton Creperies. Please consider.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Headlines for the SMS Generation

Ignore that previous post. I'm not actually that hard up that I want to go cutting random letters and items of grammar out of my vocabulary just for the hell of it. Instead, I'm going to go cutting random letters out of this next post for a very good reason. And that reason is to teach all you kids of the SMS generation about history. Isn't that nice of me?

The following SMS headlines cover all of the important historical developments of the past hundred years, and some of the less important ones as well. I think you'll agree, they have it pretty well covered ...

The Sinking Of The Titsanic:
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! DA TITANIC SINX IN2 DA C!

The Hindenberg Disaster:
AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! HINDENBERG CRASHZ, BURNZ - BBQ!!!

The Communist Revolution
MRX RITES MANIFESTO '4 U + ME' - ROTFL!!!!

The Second World War:
OMG!!! HTLR 8AX BRTN!!! 1000s R KLLD!!!

STALIN + HTLR = FUNFUNFUN ;-p LOLerz!!!

The Cold War:
USA PREZ SEZ: KOMMIEZ MAKE ME :-(

The Sacking of the Whitlam Government:
GOV GEN SAX WITLAM - LMFAO!!!

The British Royal Wedding:
CHARLZ 2 DI: 'I <3 U, B WIT ME 4VA!!'

Reagan Meets Thatcher:
RAYGUN 2 THATCHA: "I'LL NEVA 4GET U!"

The Monica Lewinski Scandal:
LOINSKI 2 CLINTON: LEEV UR H@ ON!

The Death of Princess Diana:
WTF: PRINCESS DI DIZ! :-(

Coming soon: the entire Bhagvat Gita, as retold by an ignorant yokel redneck from Oodnadatta!

Due to Budgetary Constraints, This Headline Has Bee

I'm down to twenty dollars for the rest of this week, so I've decided I'm going to make some budgetary constraints on this blog.

First up, I'm banning the use of the plural. The plural needlessly multiplies the value of the thing being referred to, and we can't have that. Plus, it usually insists on adding a letter 's' to the end of every word. That's just wasteful.

Come to think of it, I'm banning the letter 's' as well. I'm _orry guy_, but you're ju_t going to have to do without it.

Needle__ item_ of grammar, _uch a_ the colon, the _emicolon, and the parenthe_i_, will al_o be banned. If you're going to u_e the_e thing_, then I _uggest you do it el_where.

Finally I've decided that everything I written here fro now on will be in pa_t ten_e. It wa_ ju_t pointle__ to be u_ing different ten_e_ for different po_t_. Well, therell be none of that from now on.

Thank you to all of my reader_, and I hope that you _tick with thi_ blog in the future pa_t and continue to have made comment_.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ways To Amuse Yourself #5

Buy yourself the following things: one cane, one hundred typewriters, a backyard shed, a copy of Shakespeare's plays, a barrel of LSD, and a cage full of monkeys. Set the typewriters up in a shed, feed the LSD to the monkeys and then turn them loose in the shed.

Stroll amongst the monkeys with your cane and your copy of Shakespeare. Yell at them angrily if they don't produce results similar to or superior to Shakespeare's plays. Rap them occasionally with your cane.

Hopefully, in their fevered hallucinations, the monkeys will think you are the Great Baboon of the Jungles, or something. Anyway, the results should be interesting. Go on, you see if I'm wrong.

The Parable of the Three Men In The Boat

Once there were three men: a Paranoid, a Journalist, and a Cynic. They were firm friends and one day they decided to go on a fishing trip together. So, they hired a boat and took it to the nearest harbour and sailed away.
As they drew away from the shore, the Paranoid became increasingly nervous, and began to fidget and twitch. This caused the Journalist to ask him what was wrong; but he replied, nothing, and all three men continued to fish. But as they continued to sail ahead, the Paranoid became more and more nervous, until finally, the Cynic could not stand it any more, and asked his friend what was wrong.
"Oh, I am so worried!" wailed the Paranoid then.
"Why are you worried?" asked the Journalist.
"I am worried that we will sail off the Edge of the World!" he cried.
"Pish!" scoffed the Cynic. "That is a mere story!"
"What's wrong with mere stories?" huffed the Journalist with his hands on his hips.
"They are invented by men like you to scare men like him so that men like him will buy papers written by men like you!" sneered the Cynic, pointing first at the Journalist, then at the Cynic, then at the Journalist again so that he tied his arms up in a very pretty knot indeed.
"We report on stories of interest and importance. Ours is a noble profession!" said the Journalist, lifting his head high.
And with that, the three men continued to fish.

Next day, the Paranoid man had taken to leaping out of his seat at sudden moments, and looking wildly around.
"What on earth is the matter with you now?" asked the Cynic. But the Paranoid did not reply.
A little later, the Journalist sat down with the Paranoid, and spoke very gently to him, and said to him, "Tell me, my friend, what is on your mind. It's no use saying that you are carefree, and have no worries in the world, for we can see that, laugh as you will, there is something great troubling you."
At this, the Paranoid burst into tears, and nodded his head; and it was not until he bought a handkerchief out of his pocket, and dabbed at his eyes, that he was able to continue.
"It's just, I am dreadfully afraid that, as the day draws on, we draw ever nearer to the Edge of the World. And then, we will fall off! And what will happen to us after?"
"Not that story again!" snapped the Cynic.
"But my friend," continued the Journalist, patiently; "There is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that what he says could be true."
"Posh!" scoffed the Cynic. "They are stories invented by men like you too ..."
"No!" said the Journalist then, waving his hand in the air and cutting his friend off mid-sentence. "They are scientific facts, gathered together by a body of respected experts who have made it their life-work to study the World and what we should do about it!"
"He's right," sniffed the Paranoid, wiping at his nose. "And even if it isn't true, we should at least do something about it!"
"Ha!" laughed the Cynic then. "You believe that we should Do Something Now to Prevent Something that Might Not Happen!"
"A good point, my friend," said the Journalist. "Thank you for making a valued contribution to this debate."
And with that, the three men continued to fish.

By the next day, relations on the boat had become rather strained. The Paranoid, when he was not fishing, huddled in a corner of the boat, whimpering and shuddering, with his arms wrapped around his legs. The Cynic, with his face turned away from the other two, sat at the other hand, nonchalantly continuing to fish. And the Journalist walked from one to the other, taking notes for an article that he intended to write on the subject when he got back to the shore (if, indeed, he ever did).
Finally, the three men agreed amongst themselves that this situation was ridiculous; and they decided to hold a debate on the subject at noon, chaired by the Journalist.
"Thank you for coming" said the Journalist. "I appreciate the time and effort you have both put in."
The two men said nothing to this, so the Journalist pressed on.
"I think it's high time we had this discussion, for I think you'll agree, with many scientists who study this subject pressing the Government for a decision to be made on The Edge of the World, we had better settle this matter one way or the other."
Neither of the men replied to this either. The Journalist bravely continued:
"Firstly, I'd like to ask you," he said to the Paranoid, "What is your argument in regards to this matter?"
"My argument is," wailed the Paranoid, "That the Edge of the World exists, and we are going to sail over it now unless we don't!"
"And what is your position?" said the Journalist, turning to the Cynic.
"My position," replied the Cynic, calmly, "Is that the Edge of the World doesn't exist, and that, even if it does, there's nothing wrong with it and we should leave it where it is and continue to do what we are doing now."
"But we might DIE!" howled the Paranoid.
"But why," continued the Cynic, "Should we Do Something Now to Prevent Something that Might Not Happen?"
"Because," replied the Paranoid, "Anything at ALL might not happen, and we certainly have to prevent it from happening or, er, who knows what will happen!"
"Thank you for having this debate," said the Journalist then. "I think you'll both agree that we've had some fruitful discussion, and now it's time to have an audience poll on the matter."

Since there were only three men on the boat, and the Journalist could not very well vote on his own (that would be unfair), they all decided to have a vote. They took two pots out from their stores, and painted them different colours (one for either side of the debate). Then they cast a fish into the pot of the colour which represented their side of the debate. It fell upon the Journalist to count them out and, even though the Cynic suspected that he might be cheating, he let his friend do this. And, as it turned out, the votes came out in favour of the Paranoid.

"Right then," said the Journalist. "I think we're all agreed that We Should Do Something Abo..."
Just then, a terrible wail came from the Paranoid. Both men raised their eyes and saw that the Paranoid man was indicating something with his outstretched arm in the far distance. They followed his finger, and saw then what was causing the Paranoid man so much grief: the Edge of the World. Waters fell from the Edge of the World into empty space: and they were being inexorably drawn by strong currents towards this void!

The three men then rushed up and down the deck of the boat, adjusting this sail, and tying that sail, and casting the anchor, then pulling it up again, and falling over one another and leaping up again in a great flurry of activity: all to no avail. Nothing could stop them being drawn closer and closer to their doom. Then, seeing that it was all in vain, they fell to their knees, and prayed to God, beseeching him in tearful voices to hear them, and save them from Falling Off the Edge of the World. And they drew ever nearer to the chasm. Then, as their prayers had become loudest, and the rushing of the waters of the world off the edge of the world became quite deafening, a piano fell out of the sky and splintered their boat to a million pieces, and caused the men to fall to the bottom of the sea.

And nobody ever heard of them again.

THE END

Sunday, January 15, 2006

On the Male Neck Tie

(I've already published this post elsewhere but I'm putting it up here too because I can so there.)

In 1994, a week before I went away to boarding school in Sydney for year 11, Mum taught me how to put on a Neck Tie. I've been putting them on, irregularly, ever since.

Ties are pleasant to look at. They are colourful, they come in a peculiar shape, and are covered with a great variety of designs. In windy weather, they will sometimes hover in the air in front of you as you are walking before slapping you in the face. (This is uncomfortable for you, but at least it provides some amusement for onlookers.) They are, without a doubt, the strangest item in the male business suit. What do they do? You can use your pockets to put pens in, you put your coat on when it's cold, and a sturdy pair of business shoes will protect your feet from both the cold and rubbish on the ground. But ties? As clothes go, they're redundant. Their only purpose seems to be to identify the wearer as male; in that sense, they are vaguely phallic.

It's always seemed to me that there's something slightly uncivilised about men who do not know how to put on a tie. Several other boarders, for instance, would never put their tie on; they would simply loosen their tie after school and slip it off, and put it back on their necks the day afterwards. And then there are those people who buy their ties, tied, from the tie store.

What's the point? Most of the fun of a tie is in tying it up, not in wearing it. You might as well not call them 'ties' at all.

Even worse are people who will wear 'novelty ties'; ties covered with cheap Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny cartoons; or ties with crude football slogans written upon them. If what you wear says something about you, then surely, a person who regularly wears Donald Duck ties is askin to a person who wanders about the streets with the words, 'I am a loony' stamped upon his forehead.

There is little hope for the tie. It is a dying creature. People of the present day are relentlessly informal - they never use a polite word when a swear word will do: and no-one would wear a tie if they didn't have to. Especially not during the Australian summer. They constrict the breath, make it more difficult to swallow, make you itch, and make you sweat. In fact, you have to resist the urge to wipe the sweat from your brow with the tie. It's the little things like that that keep civilisation going, you know.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Eight Words Other Than 'Failure' That Rhyme With Australia

When I went to University, I had as lecturer a guy called David B. He was a published poet and novelist, and specialised in Australian literature. He also had glasses, a beard, a breathy way of speaking, and a girl told me later that she thought he was a bit of a sleaze. Anyway, I always remember one of the lecturers he gave about one of the earliest Australian poems:

O Kangaroo, O Kangaroo,
Thou spirit of Australia;
That redeems from utter failure,
From perfect desolation,
And warrants the creation
Of this fifth part of earth ...

(From The Kangaroo, by Barron Field)

His take on the poem was this: "The fact that Barron Field can't find any word but 'failure' to rhyme with Australia represents in itself a kind of failure; a failure of traditional poetic forms ..."

There always seemed to me to be something wrong with this. Firstly, what's wrong with traditional poetic forms? If they're good enough for The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner - a poem that's almost cosmic in its extent - then why can't they be good enough for Australia?
Secondly, I felt sure that there were plenty of words that rhymed with Australia. Like .... and, um, like ... actually, it was pretty hard to think of them. But it always stuck in my mind that there should be words that rhyme with Australia.
And years later, I actually did sit down, and try to find words other than 'failure' that rhymed with 'Australia'. As I suspected, there were several:

Animalia
Regalia
Italia
Shalier
Somalia
Tailier
Nailier

See? Certainly, some of these words (like Somalia) may not have existed when Barron Field wrote the poem. But that hardly matters: there would have been other words in use then that are not in use now. And the fact that some of these words are, shall we say, 'grammatically creative' hardly matters either; the whole point of a poem is that it's creative.

Rachel gives us another word to add to that list:

Sesquipadalia (Long words)
Sesquipadalian (Given to or characterised by the use of long words)

So, with that in mind, we should be able to offer a different version of Barron Field's poem:

Kangaroo, o Kangaroo,
Thou spirit of Australia
Thou complete and wondrous specimen
Of antipodean Animalia!
Of all the taily creatures
I've never seen a tailier!
Oh yes, you are most worthy
Of all our sesquipadalia:
Yes, Kangaroo, o Kangaroo,
Thou spirit of Australia!

Much better, isn't it?

UPDATE! - Add 'Norman Mailer' and 'Marsupial Mammalia' to the list, please, Mr. Blog Man! Also, I edited out the full name of the Uni lecturer.

Poetic Imagery My Arse

You know, I don't normally make political or partisan comments on this blog; I figure other people can do it better than me, and I'd rather just entertain people.

But I think I will make one now, because this concerns another self-styled humourist and cartoonist who has gone out of his way to make political statements, some of which are quite vile. I'm talking about Michael Leunig.

There has been a minor blog-debate about the merits (if any) of Leunig's cartoons since Tim Blair linked to one of those cartoons on the 10th of this month.

Here is the said Leunig cartoon. It depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - currently on the verge of death - as the killer of innocent old men in wheelchairs. For more analysis of its context, see this Tim Blair post, or this post on Legless In Perpetuum.

It's not the first time Leunig has done this sort of thing, either:

- In this cartoon, Leunig depicts a member of the US armed forces as a cannibal - drawing on an earlier cartoon depiction of Ariel Sharon in the same light.

- In this cartoon, Leunig compares the modern state of Israel with a Nazi concentration camp.

Leunig has since defended his cartoon, saying: "I, perhaps foolishly, made a cartoon about that strange situation that is a person's dying days - not to have a swipe at Sharon or Israel but to open up some more existential and, dare I say it, "Shakespearean" thoughts about the pathos and wry darkness of this powerful man's demise".
Yes, it was foolish. What is even more foolish - not to mention bizarre - is that Leunig then goes on to defend the cartoon as if it didn't matter. He appears to want it both ways - to admit to his human fallibility, but to be able to defend himself against all criticism because he's 'an artist'. This is a pathetic self-defence mechanism.

In an ABC interview, Leunig has this to say: "I'm trying to think, "How can I distil this into some little poetic moment that awakens people to other possibilities?""
Also: " And I'm there to challenge that notion of life. That I'm interested in the deeper humanity in us all."
It's worth taking a moment to note how, at crucial points, Leunig explains himself by using meaningless phrases like 'poetic moment' and 'deeper humanity'. Actually, both are insulting - the first to poets and writers, the second to all humans - because they replace precise concepts (poetic, humanity) with vague and fuzzy ideas (deeper humanity, poetic moments).
But there's an even more important point to make. And that is that this is the context in which Leunig defends his 'art': this is the context in which he wants his pictures comparing Auschwitz to Israel to be understood. Historical facts about Israel and the treatment of Jews by the Nazis apparently matter less than having a 'poetic moment' with Leunig's 'deeper humanity'.

Leunig used to be an exceptional cartoonist: original, and funny. Nowadays, all he appears to be producing is hate-filled propaganda. It's disgraceful, and The Age should fire him.

SEE ALSO:
Legless In Perpetuum
Tim Blair

PS Sorry about the political post thingy, I'll be back in a day or so with more interesting stuff.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Moment Musicale

"So how do you want me to start?"

"A duo, please. Molto largo."

"But won't the neighbours hear?"

"Let them. I'll take the basso, you take the treble clef."

"We always did it the other way around ..."

"Don't worry. You'll treble soon enough, and then I'll get the chance to mount that clef for myself."

"Like this?"

"Yes, yes ... but take it steadily. Lentissimo!"

"And pianissimo?"

"My dear, pui pianissimo - that's the way!"

"Ah."

"Yes. That's right! Oh, deary - you truly are the maestro!"

"Dolce?"

"Con Dolce, Con Molto Dolce!"

"Such a timbre!"

"And now, molto piano. That's right!"

"Con moto! Ah, such a movement!"

"Yes - now, Andante, con mobile - good, good - OOH!"

"Yes?"

"Don't stop now, maestro!"

"Now, the moderato passage."

"PUI APPASSIONAZZA!"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Don't take it at such a slow pace! I want a spring in your music! Staccato!"

"Almost - allegretto?"

"Si - I mean, yes! Molto allegretto, molto forte - that's good!"

"Ah, but I can do better."

"Ooh! Hee hee hee! Yes, very good - the student becomes the maestro!"

"Forzando!"

"SFORZANDO! With FEELING!"

"Allegro!"

"Ma non troppo, maestro, please."

"With accents ..."

"Si! Accents, and leggerio!"

"I like your leggerio!"

"Now - allegro moderato!"

"Oh - allegro VIVACE, please!"

"Ah - please - a little ritenueto!"

"Like that?"

"Oooh my, yes - you ARE doing well!"

"Such a bel canto!"

"Sforzando again, maestro!"

"Sforzando, molto a molto!"

"Fortissimo!"

"FORTE fortissimo!"

"Accelerando!"

"Now PRESTO!"

"PRESTO PRESTISSIMO!"

"PRESTO PRESTISSIMO FURIOSO!"

"SI!"

"SI!"

"BELLA!"

"DONNA!"

"SI!"

"SI!"

"SI!"

"SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!"


***


"Well ... "

"Well ..."

"How was it for you?"

"Oh, maestro ...!"

"Then, why not ..."

"Ah, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Da capo?"

"That would be fine ..."

"But ...?"

"But this time ... I think it's time for us to try ... the trio ..."

FINE

CODA
Piano lessons, anyone?
(Via L.I.P.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blue Psued Pshoes

Has anybody been watching 'Speaking in Tongues, with John Safran and Father Bob'? It's very good. They've got a segment called 'Bob's Billboard', where readers send in suggestions for titles to put up on the Billboard outside Bob's church. Here are some of my suggestions:

HEAVEN A GREAT TIME, WISH YOU WERE HERE!

SUNDAY IS FUNDAY - COME INSIDE AND PRAY!

OPEN WIDE, COME INSIDE - IT'S PRAY SCHOOL!

APPLAUD THE LORD!

PSINGING PSALMS IS PSUPER!

I'm rather proud of that last one. So proud, in fact, that I wrote a whole poem about it! It's called

PSINGING PSALMS (A PSEUDO PSONG):

Psinging psalms is psuper fun,
Psuper fun for everyone!
Come and psing and come to pstay
With Christ, who took our psins away!

UPDATE! -
Just emailed them through.

Tim's Of The Blog World

Here is a list of some Tim's of the blog world. I'll be adding to it as more turn up.

Tim Blair
Blog: http://timblair.net
Politically:
Right wing
Nicknames: tim, Tim B, little tim, Right Wing Death Beast, slime

Tim Dunlop
Blog: http://roadtosurfdom.com
Politically: Left wing
Nicknames: Tim

Tim Lambert
Blog: http://timlambert.org
Politically: Left wing
Nicknames: Tim, Lambert, Timmy.

Tim W.
Blog: http://kiss-chasey.blogspot.com
Politically: Leftish
Nicknames: Tim

Tim Sterne
Blog: http://sternezine.blogspot.com
Politically: Leftish
Nicknames: Tim

Tim Train
Blog: http://willtypeforfood.blogspot.com
Politically: DEAD CENTRE. No, really!
Nicknames: Idiot, Timmy*, Who the fuck is that guy?

See also: Tim G, commentor on Road to Surfdom
Uncreative Tim, commentor on After Grog Blog
Tim S, commentor on Anonymous Lefty

Look on the bright side: when we're all called Tim, it will be that much easier to remember one another's name.

*Pronounced South Park style.

Sometimes The Australian Media Disgusts Me

Headline by The Age: Russian Star Ready to Have a Ball



My headlines:
Maria Handles Someones Hairy Balls

Maria Pulls Bat, Strokes Balls, Scores!

So many missed opportunities - why don't they employ me?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Communist Ninja Shark Attack!

Wouldn't you like to see that headline on a newspaper? Wouldn't that be the coolest headline ever?

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about was this: last night, I happened to be talking to BourbonBird about a zine project she has planned, and conversation turned to the Sydney monorail. It was then that she said the funniest thing ....

"The only time I see it is late at night when I'm drunk and I need to look at the sky for oxygen."

Ladies and gentlemen, it's still only January, but I believe we have the Quote of the Year, right there. The competition is officially over.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Light Relief

I just thought after my putting on the crankypants in the previous post, readers might appreciate a little light relief.



Isn't life beautiful?

Crapronyms

I don't know what SBS were thinking when they named their new television show what they did, but I think they were thinking the wrong thing. The show is 'RAN: Remote Area Nurse', and it's named after an acronym. As if we didn't have enough acronyms already, with idiots LOLing and LMFAOing left, right, and centre.

I work in the transcription department of an Australian media monitoring company, and we have to deal with hundreds of the fuckers. FTA, STD, NAFTA, DFAT, DHA and DHS all get a look in fairly regularly, and there are many, many others.
By far the worst are the acronyms that have other acronyms in them. Here's one for your perusal and abuse:

AUSFTA

What is this horrid, unpronounceable thing? What can I do with an AUSFTA, I hear you cry? What kind of food does it eat?
In fact, an AUSFTA is an Australian/ US Free Trade Agreement, the US standing for United States of America.

The dreadful possibility arises that soon, we will be dealing with acronyms that have other acronyms in them that have other acronyms in them, and so on, and so on, and so on. Soon, we will have an acronym that is infinitely deep, and then where will we be?
But perhaps this is where the person who invented the acronym wanted us to be. Perhaps he or she foresaw a time, not far in the future, where every word that people said, wrote or typed were just references to other words that people said, wrote, or typed, and words had lost all actual meaning.

Acronyms can be fun. Once I wrote an editorial for a magazine in which I embedded several swear words in the text by using acronyms. Jim Treacher once had a poem to a left-wing poetry site with several, er, colourful acronyms in it. But there are too many of the bastards! We have to stop expressing ourselves through acronyms. People, do this for the sake of the english language: ring up your mother, and swear at her. Your mother may not like it, but at least she'll fucking understand it.

Over-and-fucking-out.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Edward

Gleaming in the sunshine, and screaming it's little heart out, this Post came into the world, not knowing what to expect. I named it Edward, and decided to keep it.

Edward the Post turned out to be a troublesome child. He kept on making sudden diversions into the world of politics, and swerving this way and that to make snarky comments about other bloggers; but I gradually I managed to nurse him into full life and teach him some practical lessons about the world.

The day inevitably came when I knew I had to let Edward go. He had become a fine, fully-grown Post, mature and knowledgeable in the ways of the world, and ready to find his way onto a blog.
"Perhaps, in time, Edward, my son, you will even come to be linked on other people's blogs." I said tearfully.
"Oh, father, will I?" said Edward, his eyes shining with expectation.
I grasped his hands meaningfully in mine and bid him farewell. Moments later, he walked through the door and left my house forever.

He wrote to me from time to time, telling me how he was going. One day, I received a most startling letter from him:
"Dear father," he began, "I want to thank you so much for publishing me! I have met a most wonderful Post! Her name is Cecilia, and she tells me that one day she aims to be published in a magazine! I wish to marry her!"
I wrote back to Edward then, replying that as he was a Post of His Own, he was free to do anything he liked; but that I would want to meet this Cecilia before I bestowed my blessing upon their union.
We arranged to meet two days after in a cafe on Collins Street.
"Oh, father, you'll love her!" said Edward over the phone. "She's everything a Post could ask for!"
As I sat in the cafe toying with my coffee and nervously fingering my watch, I wondered what she would be like. If truth be told, my relationship with Edward had been a little strained lately - perhaps I had asked too much of him as a Post. Perhaps, if I had bought him up with a little more discipline, he would have become a well-known and respected political Post. Maybe he could have been linked on other sites - Legless In Perpetuum, for instance. Or Metal City. Or maybe - one day - even on Tim Blair. Needing something to calm my nerves, I ordered another coffee.

There was a shout from across the streets; I looked up. It was Edward, smiling and waving. My heart leapt. He was my Post, after all; and I loved him for it. I grinned and began to wave back.
And then, in a moment, everything changed. Banging its bells, a tram rushed by, crushing Edward to the ground.
I rushed from the cafe to the streets to where my Post lay. Tears were streaming from my eyes. He was still alive!
"Edward!" I shouted. "Edward, my Boy, My Post - are you alright?"
He could hardly speak. Wordlessly, he took my hand in his and gazed up at me.
"Father, father," he said. "If only you could have m..."
He never finished what he was saying. All I could think, as I looked down at the pitiful wreck of my Little Post, was - how wonderful he could have been, if ... if ... but what use were all these questions now?
"Oh, Edward, Edward," I wept. "How sorry I am!"

And that is how Edward the Post came to an End.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cooking With Tim

As you all know, not only am I a blogger extraordinaire, but I can do lots and lots of other things as well: like cook, for instance. No, really! Recently, I had a go at this.



It's been described variously as 'Minced Purple People Eater', 'Dramatization of a meal - not actual photo.' and 'radioactive'.
The recipe, which you can find here, had some weird ingredients. '1 Cup Boiled Water, Chilled', for instance. What on earth did they mean by that? I called up Mum. She suggested in a tired, quiet voice that they probably meant water. I hung up the phone, perplexed. Just to be on the safe side, I boiled a jug of water and then put it in the fridge in the morning.
To get ready for the meal, I made three visits to the supermarket, and then one more, just for good measure. In my defence, I'd just come back from Newcastle the day before; I didn't have any food at all.
The central ingredient of the soup is beetroot. Never having bought beetroots before, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was a little afraid that the Coburg Woolworth's wouldn't stock beetroot. I had visions of myself paying exhorbitant prices for imported Arabic beetroots in a small deli on Sydney Road.
I needn't have worried. Actually, the beetroots came in bunches of four, two more than I needed for this recipe. They also came with leaves. I wasn't sure what to do with the leaves, so I called up Mum.

'You put them in a salad' she said. 'What are you doing with the beetroots?'
'Boiling them,' I said.
'Well, you'll be able to tell the beetroots are done when the leaves pull off easily.'

Having received that handy tip, I put a pot of water (of the unchilled variety) on the stove and waited until it was boiling before putting two of the beetroots in. The leaves were very long, reaching almost halfway to the ceiling, and they drooped, so that they kept on falling in the flames and catching alight, and I had to keep rearranging them. The water turned a strange purple colour. Occasionally, I'd pull at the leaves experimentally, but they didn't come off.

The recipe also called for boiled egg whites to be mashed up with scallions or chives. I didn't have either, so I substituted some garlic. When this was done - and it looked like the beetroots were almost ready to be grated - I took out a big bowl and filled it with four cups of buttermilk, and the chilled boiled water. I was surprised there was so much of it. I mixed this up with the egg yolk, and sour cream, diced cucumbers, garlic, salt, and finally, grated beetroot. It looks more pink than purple, I said to myself, but kept on mixing.

Actually, it was quite delicious. When I was done, I came back into the kitchen, took the bowl of soup, and poured the remainder into two medium-sized cooking pans, and put them in the fridge. It was gradually dawning on me that I had cooked more beetroot soup than I had bargained for. I suspected I would be eating beetroot soup for several days, perhaps forever.
I left the plates in the sink and went into the living room.

***

Two days later when I walked into the kitchen, ants were swarming all over the purple-stained plates, and the amount of soup in the fridge had not diminished considerably. After some moments thinking, I took the pans in the fridge out the back and poured them into the compost. That night, I think I had bacon and mushrooms for dinner.

Beetroot soup is alright for a change, but I suspect if I had been forced to eat any more of it, my skin would have developed an odd purple glow, and people would have thought I was a Martian ...

UPDATE! - As you can see, I also did a little blogging on the side while cooking. I'm not exactly the most attentive chef.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE! - Anyone want two betroots (unboiled)?

The Zen Theory of Comedy

Could this be the best blonde joke ever?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Expand Your Vocabulary

(Post partially inspired by a conversation with Red)

In this post, I propose to help you expand your vocabulary by giving definitions for long or unusual words. Do not worry if you know the word, but thought it had a different definition. We all make these silly little mistakes from time to time.



Antipodes (Noun)
1) A small species of sea-worm, related to nematodes. It is said that former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam bred antipodes as a child.

Antithesis (Noun)
1) A musical instrument, part zither, and part trumpet. It was popular in enlightenment times, but used most recently in several Mr Bungle songs.

Bradpitt (Noun)
1) The Bradpitt is a famous hole in the ground in America, second in size only to the Grand Canyon. "That man's about as deep as the Brad Pitt" "Yes, and about as empty." - Mark Twain.

Chiropractor (Noun)
1) A new type of Italian coffee. 2) Farm machinery

Cunnamulla (Noun)
1) An ilicit bedroom act.

Flocculent (Verb, Pers. Noun)
1) Stick. "Birds of a feather flocculent together." - Colloq. 2. Well-known Hollywood actor - Calista Flocculent.

Jenniferaniston (Noun)
1) Country south of Afghanistan.

Johannesburg (Noun)
1) Salami sandwich of which Johann Sebastian Bach was very fond. It is said that every morning, he would rise from bed, and compose a prelude. Then he would call to his wife for a sandwich. After having completed the sandwich, he would compose the fugue, and then go back to bed. In time, the sandwich acquired the name 'Johannes Burger', or 'Johannesburg.'

Liposuction (Noun)
1) New and exciting form of oral sex, pioneered in Amsterdam.

Lunatic (Noun)
1) Type of insect which lives on the moon. It feeds on animal blood, and is almost extinct. It is closely related to other insects, including the Emetic, Heretic, and Atlantic.

Mod Con (Noun, Pers. Noun)
1) Member of the Australian Greens 2) Bob Brown.

Pseudoephedrine (Pers. Noun)
1) A famous Greek poet, known to everyone as 'Ephedrine'. 'Ephedrine' was suspected of not being his real name, and so everyone took to calling him 'Pseudoephedrine'. Ephedrine thought they were probably right. He wasn't sure about it either way, but decided to go along with them, just to be safe.

Quern (Noun)
1) Gathering of homosexuals (from the French)

Quark (Onomat.)
1) Noise made by a drunken duck.

Reesewitherspoon (Noun)
1) Type of cutlery.

Stagflation (Verb)
1) Resuscitating a male reindeer.

Strophe (Noun)
1) A fight amongst sailors.

Telephony (Noun)
1) Person who lies about something on national television 2) A politician. 3) Bob Brown.

Xenophobia (Noun)
1) Fear of Warrior Princesses invading your country 2) Fear of Pauline Hanson. 3) Fear of words beginning with unusual letters.


Feel free to propose your own, alternative definitions in comments!
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 ...