kidattypewriter

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

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