Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Beginning of Modernism - The Rather Silly Version

1. Surrealism, New Realism, and Fruitsaladism

Modernism began in the evening hours of October 3, 1908, in a medium-sized garret in Paris, France. The owner had previously bought a small, closet-sized garret, but due to a recent demand for artistic garrets, he had upgraded to to a medium-sized garret in order to live his life of artistic penury and starvation in a little more comfort.
The people present in this garret were Utge Mitke, a painter from Poland; Mahra Uhle, a preminist* from Germany; Oswald de L'Empriere, a novelist who lived by the Seine (although he had not yet actually written a word); and T.S. Eliot, depressed, from America.
Up until that point, artists had been living in the past. But eventually, the past must pass into the present, and that is what it did that morning, with an audible thud.
All of the artists were standing around, wondering what to do now that the present had finally arrived. Mitke was listlessly painting a still-life of apples and oranges, Uhle was expounding to the room her radical preminist theories, L'Empriere was thinking about the novel he hadn't written, and Eliot was depressed.

Suddenly, L'Empriere strode across the room, took an apple out of the still life that Mitke was painting, and bit into it. The rest of the room was astonished, but, as Eliot later explained, it was as if the Real World had finally caught up with the artistic world.
Announcing this as the first act of surrealism, L'Empriere flung the apple onto the floor and left the garret.
The next day, L'Empriere and Mitke invented the second great artistic movement of modernism: Fruitsaladism. L'Empriere took all of the fruit out of a still life painted by Mitke, and diced them up into a delicious fruit salad, which he then fed to the crowd of onlookers. They continued in this way for one month, until the Parisian Chefs Union ran them out of town. To this day in France, putting things made out of oil and turpentine in your mouth have been a strictly culinary act.

L'Empriere and Mitke went on to perform many other great artistic acts: instead of painting an apple, Mitke and L'Empriere would allow the apple to paint them (they called this 'New Realism'**). In a final, great artistic act, L'Empriere allowed himself to be eaten by the apple. He never survived his death, and so, to this day, we don't know what to call this artistic movement.
Many people considered this great concluding performance a comment on the war. Unfortunately, it was 1938 at the time, so people weren't quite sure what war he was referring to.

* A preminist is a proto-feminist.
**This may or may not have been the inspiration for F.D. Roosevelt's political plan, which he was originally to call 'The New Dealism'

2. Eliot and Smudger

Modernism had soon become a worldwide artistic movement, with many adherents and practitioners. One highlight of this movement was the publication of T. S. Eliot's poem 'The Wasteland'. Another highlight was the publication of T. B. Smudger's poem 'The Scrapheap'. Eliot's work is too long to be quoted in part, and Smudger's masterpiece is too short to be quoted in full without leaving a lot of extra space, but part of it goes:

God, my life is crap.
Wei la la la la
Jug jug
Those are the pearls that were his eyes! *

As you can see, Smudger was a master of the metreless quatrain, as well as the quatrainless metre.

*The rest of the poem is a lot of artfully-placed blank space.

3. The Second Ever Performance Of ...

Another modernist of distinction was Elge Gonthe, a native Bulgarian who had returned to live and work in his native homeland for the first time. He was a classically-trained pianist, and one evening, he strode into a music hall where, for no reason at all, a large audience of random people had gathered. He then sat down at a piano and proceeded to play nothing for five minutes.
When somebody asked him what he was doing, Gonthe replied that this was the Second Ever Performance of John Cage's 4'23'' (a piano piece consisting of four minutes and twenty three seconds of silence).
"But that piece has not been written yet!" persisted Gonthe's zealous inquirer. "And, if it is 4'23'', then isn't this the first performance?"
Gonthe replied simply that he was not bound by conventional chronological structures.
The audience, moved by Gonthe's artistic and rhetorical brilliance, rose as one and gave him an ovation. During the following months, Gonthe presented the Second Ever Performance Of Cage's most famous musical composition to audiences all over Europe. It was a true tour de force of the avant garde.
Thirty years later, John Cage shut himself up in a studio with his cat and two strawberry meringues and spent the next week writing 4'23''. The meringues escaped unscathed, but the effort took so much out of Cage and the cat that they could not afterwards pass by a meringue shop without shivering.

4. Larry, husband of ...

One of the most interesting stories to come out of the modernist movement concerns a simple American mechanic by the name of Larry. (He didn't have a last name. Sometimes, he wasn't even sure that he had a first name. He did have a middle name, but no-one knew what that was.)
He didn't know anything about art, but one day, he was visiting the Guggenheim gallery with his fiancee, Carrie. They happened to pass by Piccaso's famous painting, Woman Crying:

In what was to prove to be a fateful act, Larry mistook the painting for his fiancee and left the gallery with his arms wrapped around it, speaking comforting words.
One month later, Larry and the painting were married in a small and simple wedding ceremony. All of the family were present, and they were all very moved by it.
Larry and the painting went on to have three children, which they named 'Pastelle', 'Charcoal'*, and 'Landscape'. It was only after thirty years of happily married life that Larry and the painting discovered their tragic mistake. Larry immediately rushed back to the Guggenheim, but he could not find his wife anywhere. However, he did see a saucy minx of a painting by Jackson Pollock, and he immediately threw it to the floor and ravished it before being removed by gallery staff.
So, although the story ended tragically, it is well to recall that Larry and an item of abstract art had lived in harmony for three decades.

*Larry had wanted to call them Chantelle and Parkle, but his wife had disagreed.

(Cross-posted here.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Laptop Nonupdate

It's still not working!

Crazy Man Without Eyes Inviting You To Come ...

Grogblogdrinkthing - it's still on this Saturday. You're all invited! Caz, Tim and Jon and James and Gem, and anyone else that cares to come along, this is a splendid opportunity to meet the fantastically beautiful and beautifully fantastic society that is the Melbourne blogset!
I'll be easy to recognise. I'll be wearing a fluoro green shirt that says, 'TERRORISTS: FUCK 'EM!'
Mail me (on timhtrain at if you want to know more and, um, are too lazy to click on the link (but, er, not lazy enough to email me)!

Come one, come all!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Great Books That Have Never Been Written

Bridget Moans Diary

The History of Tom S. Boners, a Foundling

Oliver's Pissed (From the Charles Dickens section in the Alcoholic's Anonymous library)

The Chronicles of Tania. Vol 1: The Whining Bitch in the Wardrobe

The Q'uran - a Pop-up Book and Colour-in Book for Children

The Choose Your Own Adventure Version of The Bible

Not-so Great Expectations (From the Charles Dickens section in the Socialist-realism library)

Cross-posted here.

Attention Platform 7

Attention: Platform 7.
There has been a delay
On train A13
To Smudgers Bay.
It is now expected
Next Thursday.


Attention: Platform 7.
There has been a delay on the delay.
Train A13, expected tomorrow,
Is now due in May.
So sit back, relax,
And enjoy your stay.


Attention: Platform 7.
We're certainly keen
To restore our delays to their usual time,
In ten years - or fifteen.
We'd like to personally thank you:
What a great audience you've been.


Attention: Platform 7.
There is - ha ha - no train.
It's all been - ha ha ha - a little joke
To make you wait in the rain.
We apologise for any convenience caused.
Now you can go home again.

Ah, yes: isn't public transport a wonderful thing?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

We Protest! We Protest!

I was an internet cafe on Lonsdale Street when I started hearing banging noises coming from outside. This is it, Tim, I thought, your time is up: George Bush has finally decided to bomb Australia.
Not true. It turned out to be a long line of little old Chinese grandmothers carrying banners, with a guy in the middle shouting into a megaphone, "End communism now! End communism now!" It's not every day you see an angry mob protesting communism.

The crowd wound its way along Lonsdale Street until they reached Exhibition Street. One dumpy Chinese woman shoved several papers in my hand.* They turned down that, towards the centre of the city. I walked the other way, and a block later, I came upon them walking down Little Bourke Street, through the heart of Chinatown. I was ahead of them this time, looking for some food.

I went on down Swanston Street, pursued - very slowly - by this procession. As I reached the Bourke Street/Swanston Street corner, I was accosted by a bunch of people waving copies of 'The Socialist Worker' and pamphlets on 'The Relevance of Marx'. Great, I thought; I narrowly miss getting mobbed by anti-communist only to fall into the hands of some actual communists.

Still, this presented an interesting opportunity. I decided to stand back and watch how the Marxists would react to the anti-communist protestors.
The protesters continued down through Swanston Street. The crowd stretched out for about as long as two blocks, which meant that they caused a massive tram and car pile-up. Banners bore slogans like, "End Communism, Save Humanity!". "Communism Must End!" "Free China from Communism!" "The CCP must End!" They even had a prop 'victim of communism', artificially strung up in what looked like a hanging apparatus, flanked by two Red Guards in military uniform. The catch phrases they were shouting out became stranger, too: "End the illegal human organ trade!" (So the stories are actually true!)
The guy handing out pamphlets for the Marxists turned around so that his back was to the protestors on the streets and for the next five minutes did his best to ignore them by accosting the crowds coming up Swanston Street, away from the city. A little disappointing, really.

Finally, the protesters had all turned into Bourke Street. With an angry bang, the trams slammed their doors shut and sped down Swanston Street, making up for lost time. I continued on my way, looking for lunch ...

UPDATE! - Here's some interesting advice from that known Trotskyite, Trotsky, regarding the place of women in the communist revolution ...

*It's a Melbourne tradition. If you walk through the centre of the city on a Saturday or a Sunday, you'll meet several groups of people competing to shove pieces of paper on your hand. The strangest one I ever got was an essay on how the CIA or the Scientologists or some group like that have infiltrated the psychiatric profession and are using it to warp all our minds.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Lost Post Post

A letter in the male.

A letter in chainmail.

A chainmail in the post.

A letter in a letter.

The hostess in the posters.

A fishy post.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Post Post

Pre Post.

Pole post.

Poll post.

Worst past the post.

Post host.

Post sic.

Post hic.

Setting a career goal post.

Post in translation.

Rememberance of things post.


Post Fatal Depression.

Post off, people. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night

The last man alive in the entire world sat all alone in his house. Suddenly, the doorbell rang.

"Who could that be at this late hour?" thought Terry, blinking in the morning sunlight. He made his way along the corridor to the door. Suddenly, he remembered that he didn't even have a door. Or a corridor, for that matter. Cursing, he stumbled out of the cupboard he had stumbled into only moments before.

"Edward!" called a voice from out on the street. "Edward! Edward! It's me!"
Terry stuck his head out of the window, and looked at the street three stories below.
"What the devil do you want, Arthur?" he shouted. "And my name's not Edward."
"Edward!" said the man. "I'm so glad I found you at last! I'm your long lost brother! And my name's not Arthur."
Terry peered at the fellow in the street below. "That can't be!" he called at last. "I was an only twin!"
"I died at birth!" said the man.
Terry clasped his hands to his chest. "Oh!" he cried. Could it be true? Ignoring the geometrical and spacial impossibilities, he hugged his long-lost brother to himself. "Oh, brother! It's been such a long time!"


They spoke until 11.00 am, noon, reminiscing about old times they shared together. This was made more convenient by the fact that they didn't share any. Since Terry did not like being called Edward and Gerry (for that was his name) did not like being called Arthur, they agreed to compromise and call one another Frank.
"Remember mother?" said Frank.
"Of course not!" replied Frank. "She died before conceiving us!"
They discovered that they shared a great deal in common. After being made mute by a failed paediatric operation, Gerry had taken up opera singing. Terry, meanwhile, had had an unfortunate encounter with music therapist, which left him profoundly blind. This proved to be the springboard for an international career in fine art criticism.
"But enough of the small talk," said Frank. "Nice weather today, isn't it?"
And then it happened.


Walking down the street on a bicycle came two of the most incredible, terrifying creatures that either of them had ever seen. It had eight limbs: four legs and five arms. One had green scales with a blue tint, the other hand blue fur with a green tint.
"PEOPLE OF EARTH!" said the first scaley monster, speaking in the German language, using Chinese words, and Spanish grammar, "PREPARE TO BE ANNIHILATED!"
A feeling of dread came over Terry. It was the thing that he had been dreading all his life; the once-in-a-lifetime, never to be repeated event that happened everyday at this time.
But maybe ... just maybe, this time would be different. Or would it really? No.
"Please stop!" squealed Terry in the English language using English words. "We surrender!"
The aliens lifted up their death rays in their tenth arms and fired ...


Terry and Gerry rubbed their arms and winced.
"I told you these death rays would hurt someone one of these days, Zalkmar!" whined Zilkmar, throwing his down.
"Well, what can I do?" grumbled Zalkmar, folding seven of his arms in front of his body and scratching his head with the other nine. "Put a sticker on them saying, 'CAUTION: DEATH RAYS. DO NOT TOUCH?"

Terry sighed. This is what happened every day ...

The Eyeless Labourer In The Night

Monday, March 20, 2006

Guess The Political Cliche!

Time for a game! Can you guess the Australian political cliche from the visual?

1. At ...

2. We need to get to ...

3. And ...

... to business.

4. We need to roll up our sleeves and ...

5. And both parties need to ...

... to achieve some REAL RESULTS for ALL AUSTRALIANS.

Answers tomorrow!

UPDATE! - Here are the answers:

1. At the end of the day ...

2. we need to get to the bottom of things ...

3. and get down to business ...

4. we need to roll up our sleeves and get behind the party (acceptable alternatives: "Get behind the leader", "join the conga line of suckholes") ...

5. and come together ... *

To achieve some REAL RESULTS for all Australians!

*You won't believe the amount of porn I got searching for this image!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Thought-and-a-Half For The Day

How few layers of clothing there are between a person and public shame. If only we lived in a society of nudists. But then, that would create its own problems: travelling by bicycle would have to be outlawed, and where would we put our hands if we didn't have pockets?


Behind the scenes footage from the ALP Caucus meeting!!!!

The Poet's Dictionary

The ability to tell an arsehole he is one without losing face.

The ability to tell an arsehole he isn't one by avoiding fact.

Ladies and gents
Who earn their living studying the ologies of ents.

The opposite of chic.

A group of people concerned with looking chic.

A facial cream worn by people in a clique.

A pseudo-phonic.

A sub-genre of erotic fiction.

The study of triangle ends (a branch of geomatria)

A type of grizzly bear,
But with more cheese, and with less hair.

Strophes, Apostrophes, Shouting, and Tits: Some teachers who have actually taught me something

Diogenes gets stuck into the universities and the decline of 'clear, elegant, grammatical English.' thanks to bad university management. He could have a point, but my guess is that it all starts in the schools.
If I had my way, we'd start teaching kids about Iambic Pentameter and versification, but that's not going to happen.


Miss Christy was my English teacher in year ten. She had big red hair, large glasses, a small voice, and big boobs. Our English classroom was on the second floor, and she was often late for class. When we got to class, all the boys would sit on the balcony and watch while she passed below.
Once in class, when she was trying to get us to do work, she shouted, "Don't procrastinate! Hamlet procrastinated, and look what happened to him!"
Most of the kids had no idea who Hamlet was, and none of us knew what procrastination meant. Eventually, someone stuck their hand up.
"Miss, what does procrastination mean?"
Ah, Miss Christy. Thanks to you, I will always remember your boobs the meaning of the word procrastination ...


When I was sixteen, I went to boarding school. My English teacher there was an Indian called Manoj Honda. We called him Mr Manoj.
Mr Manoj was fat, and tended to shout when he got excited, when he wanted to emphasise a point, or at random moments in his conversation. On my first day in his class, he got some people to dramatise the poem 'Weapon's Training' by Bruce Dawe. At some point, I got up and shouted the poem for him. He liked me immediately.
He was passionate about poetry, so it's a pity that he had to teach us Bruce Dawe and Robert Gray instead of William Shakespeare and Percy Bysse Shelley.
Honda, first name Manoj, taught me how to analyse poetry and write proper essays.


Merle Mitchell wasn't an English teacher at all, she was my piano teacher. She was grey haired, had glasses, and wore her hair in a bun. She was a member of a religious sect that was spread all over country NSW and Victoria. Her children all wore denim jeans or skirts and left school at the end of year 10.
She was also an excellent piano teacher, and she taught me how to play the instrument properly, perform fluently, recognise four part harmony, and identify the structure of music. I still think, if I have any writing skill at all, it's largely because of my musical training.


Barry Spurr was my best tutor and lecturer at university. He was small and balding and worked in an office lined wall to wall with books. Once when he was making small talk with a group of students before beginning the tutorial, he cast his eye wistfully over these books, and said, "It is a terrible thing to have an unread book upon the shelf ..."
Another time, we were talking about music, and he said to a student, "Have you heard of 'The Whitlams'?"
His eyes sparkled, as if to say, 'Yes. Yes, young people. I have indeed heard of this musical ensemble that you talk about. Don't think I don't know about them, because I do!" Apparently, some years before, he had had Tim Freedman in his tutorials.
Years later, I was in Newcastle Library, and happened to come across a whole series of HSC guides to English literature by him. Funny, really, because all I can remember him teaching us about was grammar. I'd send in my essays to be marked by him, and he'd take a mark off for each spelling error and misplaced apostrophe.

Interestingly enough, I can't recall anything my other lecturers taught me. Barry Spurr was the best damned lecturer I ever had.

Friday, March 17, 2006

How About That, Eh?

I had no idea, but apparently, it's St Patricks Day. This means that one year ago I arrived in Melbourne. I came to visit after doing some tough physical labour in the country with my brother. I liked Melbourne; I got work here pretty quickly, so I decided to stay.

One year ago today I was celebrating in a crowded Melbourne pub with a New Zealand guy called David. He was big and stocky and had a crew cut, and had a way of either talking too much or not talking enough. We sat and eyed one another over the table. Occasionally he'd get up and fight his way through the crowd and bring back some beer, and occasionally I'd do the same. I tried asking him a few questions, and he didn't answer them.
He was a fucking nutter.

We were both living in a flea-bitten lice-ridden junkie-infested hotel on Bourke Street. After about a week, another guy from the country - I think his name was Matt - moved out. He was a stoner, but easy enough to get along with.
A middle-aged Indian guy called Dale moved in with us. He was balding, slight, cheerful and talkative, and worked long hours at a factory near Dandenong. Apparently his family had been involved in Indian politics - I was never sure whether to believe him about this - but he was the black sheep of the family.
Every Thursday, when he got his pay slip, he would slip into the TAB offices underneath the hotel and blow all his cash on the horses.
He was a fucking nutter.

Pretty soon we moved out to another backpackers in St Kilda. Dale was talking about giving up gambling. David was talking about finding a sharehouse to live. They were both lying, but I believed them. Which I guess made me a fucking nutter, too.

There are some people you might call 'interesting'. They're not good, they're not evil, but they're a quixotic mix of the two. I guess that's how you'd describe those two guys. David could be domineering - he tended to dominate the conversation by simply talking all the time. He had all the ordinary phobias - homophobia, racial phobia - and a couple of others to boot.
He once told me a story about sharehousing in Wellington, New Zealand. When a new flatmate moved in with him, apparently he weirded her out by his habit of sitting, perfectly still in a chair, every evening when she came home. "I'd do things during the day," he said. "I cooked, I went to the shops, I worked. She just thought that I sat there all the time."
He decided to make a game out of it, and every time she came home from university, he would sit perfectly still in the chair. His eyes wouldn't even twitch. She moved out soon after ...

Dale was different: a better person in many ways. Generous, often to a fault; he was a father, and he cared about his kids; his wife, Doris, had left him, but he was still in love with her. He was shrewd, and often able to make peace between me and David. He had a puckish sense of humour. His favourite game was to trick ticket inspectors on trams. Once, he said to us, he got a ticket inspector chasing after him down the corridor of a tram until, finally, they had him cornered in the back section of the tram.
It was then that he turned around and waved his validated Zone 3 ticket in their faces ...
"My family don't want to know me," he said to me sadly once. He knew why, and I knew why. It was because of the gambling. He'd gambled away a job, and a wife and children. I don't know if he'll ever recover from it. I still wonder if I could have helped him more.
After about a month, I moved into a sharehouse in Brunswick. The last thing I remember Dale ever saying to me was, "Can I borrow twenty dollars just to last me until Thursday ...?"
I don't think I'll ever see him again.

A lot of other shit happened to me since. I got kicked out of a sharehouse, got a job, got mugged, got fired, got another job, and got another job after that. That's all been part of my first year at Melbourne.
All of which may or may not explain why I became so furious when speaking on the phone to Nick, my brother, during the Christmas holidays.
"So how long are you going to stay in Melbourne for?" he asked.
"How long are you going to stay in Sydney for?" I spluttered. "What kind of a question is that?"
"I'm just asking," he said.
Screw that. I'm not staying in Melbourne, Nick, I'm making it my own. I'm keeping it.

Happy St Patrick's Day, everybody!!!!

Today Will Be A Day Like Any Other Day

Dear Blogger,

Today was a fairly ordinary day. After eating the usual type of breakfast, from which I derived what I believe to be the average amount of enjoyment, I opened the door to my house and wandered in the common direction along the street. I was mildly unsurprised to find that the train station was in its usual position ...

The trouble with people who blog about their life is that most of the time their life isn't very interesting. And the people who do have interesting things happen aren't likely to blog about it ...

Dear Blogger,

Today my leg was chewed off by a lion. I have just managed to hop into my living room and post this before I pass out ...

Dear Blogger,

I was feeling a little unwell today so I went to see the Doctor. I told him that I thought I had the flu. He did a check up and told me I had 'ebola'. I wasn't even sure what that is, but apparently, it was pretty serious. 99 per cent of sufferers eventually became dead of the disease, a condition from which few recover ...

Dear Blogger

Today I have decided. My mission is life is clear: I am to kill George Bush!

Now, it's no use trying to talk me out of it, readers. I have already purchased the shotgun and the bullets.

I know I might get into a bit of trouble with the FBI over this, so I hope you, all my dear readers will be quiet and not tell a soul ...

Could be the reason why all the boring blogs keep winning awards ...

History Lesson Number 1: The Sandwich of Earl

According to popular legend, the sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich one day when he did not wish to leave the gambling table and directed his servants to make him a snack between two slices of bread.
This charming apocryphal tale has only one problem: it is not true.

History, in fact, tells us quite a different story: it was the Sandwich that invented the Earl.
The Sandwich in question was a Ham and Goats Cheese Sandwich on Rye Bread, and it came from a long line of Rye Bread sandwiches. It was even related on its mothers side to the famous Lamb-on-Rye-Bread Sandwich of Nottingham.
This Sandwich was a clever piece of food, and was known in all the important social circles. It was friends with Alexander Pope, Dr Johnson, and Boswell.
Every day at lunch, however, it always found itself becoming rather lonely; for, while Dr Johnson and Boswell had to go off to find themselves a meal, being a piece of food itself, the Sandwich had nothing to do.

There and then, the Sandwich resolved to make itself an Earl for a lunchtime companion. Announcing its plans to a gathered crowd of scientists, lawyers, and sandwiches, the Sandwich retired to its workshop.
Exactly one week later at lunchtime, the Sandwich emerged from its workshop and unveiled the Earl before a wondering crowd of onlookers and sandwiches.

Unfortunately, it seems that the tale here takes a tragic turn; for the Earl - being by nature a Glutton - took up the Sandwich and ate it. In his defence, it was lunchtime.
The Earl further went on to disgrace himself by eating two more Ham and Goats Cheese on Rye Bread sandwiches before winding up with a marmalade and butter on pumpernickel sandwich. It was one of the most terrible massacres of sandwich history, and is recorded in several of the history books.

It was at this point that the sandwich community conceded to themselves that maybe they had bitten off more than they could chew, or at least they would have conceded this if it was not an entirely inappropriate metaphor.
Therefore, it was not until several decades after that the Burgers of Boston rose up in revolt against their British oppressors that sandwiches across the world were liberated ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In The Halls of Higer [sic] Ed ...

Maybe it was a vain attempt to relive my university days, or maybe it was a vain attempt to relive my university days. Either way, I recently found myself with the student publications Catalyst, from RMIT and Farrago, from Melbourne University.
As everyone knows, university student publications are well known for their astounding creative capacity to use the word 'fuck' in many and varied contexts; for their amazing ability to offend groups in Australia that you'd never heard of, much less suspected had existed; and for their unerring instinct for missing deadlines.

How did Farrago and Catalyst live up to the standards of previous publications? I decided to score them on a number of criteria.

If there's one thing that student publications are known for, it's their ability to mispell words, misplace apostrophes, and generally miscommunicate.

Neither publication failed to disappoint. Page 61 of Farrago has a column on the 'blogsphere' (members of the actual blogosphere would be surprised at this) which gives a faulty blog address for popular blog (they give the address as, and mispell 'Pseudonymous kid', the name which the bitchphd blogger gives her child (their spelling is Psydenoymous Kid).
In page 50, the author of an article dealing with the Cronulla riots tries to use a swear word, but simply makes a fool of herself: 'bullocks'!
There is an even more blatant example of misediting on page 6, where an article on logging protests ends thusly:

The Central Highlands, particularly the Marysville area, is one of the last havens of the Leadbeaters possum: just 2,000 remain.elesent augiamcor ing elessis augait do dipisim in ut irillam acidunt ad min essed magna feugait laorem zzrit.


It's as if their printing press had been possessed by the spirit of Julius Caesar: either that, or they just put that in there to help with formatting, and forgot to take it out.

There are also numerous miseditings in Catalyst, including blatant misuse of the enter key on page 3, three times again on page 6, and a similar misuse of the 'justify' function on page 7. (I've noticed this happen time and time again in student publications: when you combine thin columns with text which has been spaced far apart, the results can be devastating.)
Misuse of the enter key again occurs on page 28 (the recipes page) where it's not entirely clear, on first reading, how many tablespoons of cheddar cheese we're supposed to use in the casserole recipe. (We'll get back to the recipes later, by the way.)
Catalyst scores double points for the hilarious mispelling in a title on page 19:


7 points (added points for the pile up of errors in the blogging article, and their little 'latin' moment on page 6)

7 points (added points for the pile up of errors on page 6, and the blatant mispelling in the title on page 19).

No student publication would be the same without the use of jargon which would be indistinguishable outside university.

Several academicisms appear in Farrago, including the rather attractive term 'Vice-Chancellorial', and (on page 13) the almost meaningless sentence, "Sedition used to be a relatively latent concept in Australian law."
Double points for the use of the term 'Bourgeoius construct of romantic love' on page 8. All I can say is, when it comes to architecture, I prefer bourgeoius constructs to socialist constructs anyday; but when it comes to the use of outdated communist jargon, I'm yours, baby!
Catalyst is disappointingly lucid. The term 'bourgeoius construct' doesn't appear once! However, the term 'bicylism' - appearing on page 15 - is verging on the academic.

4 points (added points for the term 'bourgeoius construct)

1 point. They must improve on this performance in future editions.

One of the main purposes of student publications is to publish whatever propaganda is submitted to them by the fanatics on campus. This propaganda can range from Young Liberal articles on the Howard Government to Communist Party of Australia articles advocating revolution.

Several examples in Farrago are worthy of note:

Page 18:
"2005 was an eventful year. We saw the biggest student demonstrations in about a decade against Howard's attacks on student unions. We saw millions of workers and students on the streets against the Liberals attempts to degrade workplace rights. Opposition to the war on Iraq remained steady, about 66% of people think we should never have gone to the war in the first place, and that troops should immediately be withdrawn.
So in 2006 we will have to work pretty hard to top the inspirational successes of 2005."

Some success. The troops remain in Iraq, and Howard's industrial relations and VSU legislation have both been passed through the senate.

Page 20:

"Heya Women! Jan and Khandis here , your 2006 Wome*ns Department Officers... The Wom*ns Department exists to celebrate women's diversity, to challenge sexist, racist, classist, heterosexist, ableist assumptions and stereotypes about women, and to have some feministy fun."

I wasn't sure at first whether this 'Wom*ns Department' missive should be classed under mispellings and miseditings or under propaganda. Either way, it's terrible writing.

Page 50.

"The Cronulla riots were racist in the extreme - they were for more oppression of the already oppressed - whilst the Lebanese riots were an outcry against oppression."

Translation: 'All violence is inexcusable except for the violence that I excuse.'

Catalyst has some fine examples as well, including VSU and You, on page 6; About your Student Union, on page 8; and RMIT Queer Department, on page 17. These articles combined only scored two points, because two of them were written by the same guy, and used many of the same phrases.
A fine example of double-speak occurs in the 'VSU and You' article, where the author writes:

Dr Nelson, you are wrong. VSU is about choice. It is not about freedom.'

Freedom is not about choice? Has this guy been studying under Stalin?

On page 18:

Planetshakers City Church states that their objective is to make music and deliver training to "empower a generation ...

It's not everyday you see Christian propaganda in a student magazine. Double points for originality.

3 points.

5 points.

In Farrago, mention is made of the WAC - the 'Women's Action Committee' - which may or may not prove that all feminists are WACkos.
Catalyst gives us the even more entertaining Student Union Committee, or the SUC. It comes complete with a SUC president, a SUC representative and even a SUC Womyn's Officer.
Does she really SUC? I guess you'll just have to go along to meetings to find out ...

1 point.

1 point.

Closing Comments:
5 points have been deducted from Farrago's final score for several readable articles, and an amusing format (parodying an official 'administrative' document).
Catalyst receive a bonus point for the recipes on page 28 ( 'Cheesy Beans on toast'? Reminds me of my own student days.) However, 7 points have been deducted from their total for amusing editorials, a well-written article about the Melbourne fashion festival, and for the hilarious 'pointers' on page 27 for students moving in to a sharehouse for the first time:

- Misconception: You can live off beer and/or two minute noodles.
- Fact: Heard of scurvy? It's a disease that you get from not eating enough food that is rich in vitamins and I've heard it can be pretty nasty. If you notice yourself/housemates loking kind of yellow, maybe it's time for some vegies.

Final Verdict
10 points

7 points

Both show dangerous moments of lucidity, however, I'm sure with a few missed deadlines, more propaganda, the addition of badly designed pages (courtesy of a resident fine arts student) and bad student poetry, these publications have the potential to be as horrible as the best of them.

(Cross posted here.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

True But Inaccurate


Computer manufactured in a Vietnamese sweatshop. Comes with a -6 month warranty. Free Virus with every computer! Produces copious amounts of black smoke when left on for more than two minutes.

Machine designed by Satan to destroy the English language by encouraging mispelling, and inconsequential discussions: eg, "Hello? Yes! Hi! How are you? I'm on the bus, so I can't talk right now ..." etc, ad nauseum, ipso facto.

Internet Wanking
Ingenious method by which you can lose money to two companies at once, by paying internet fees and credit card debts. The single most important basis of our web-based economy.


A suburb of a major city that is populated by Sikhs. (See also Subdurban, an area in Durban, South Africa)

1) City that is several years culturally, stylistically, and politically behind the times. For instance, the entire suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne is precisely 30 years behind the times. If you visit there you will find that the Whitlam dismissal is yet to happen.
Visiting a Retropolis is a cheap but effective way of visiting the past. The only problem is that once visiting you may become stuck, and have to wait several years for the present to happen again ...
2) City that is populated entirely by retrosexuals.

Inhuman Resources
Employment company for undead beings. About the only sort that exists nowadays.

A mathematical operation you would do in homework if you could be bothered.


A mathematical operation by which the person performing the operation becomes transformed into a bizarre, Poindexter-like creature unable to mix with the rest of his peers at school/university. The opposite of Indifferentiation (see above).

Spanish version of the New Yorker.

My Weekend, By Timothy H Train

There seems to be some confusion in the comments to my previous post over my purchasing of a musical instrument where a series of reeds were powered by a manually-operated bellows. I can't see what the problem is myself; it's a mundane incident hardly worth mentioning.
As a matter of fact, my whole weekend has been mundane. Nothing of significance has happened whatsoever. See for yourselves:

For instance, on Saturday, I went and purchased several of these:

There's nothing I like better than getting at their chewy insides. My favourites are the crusty ones, but some people disagree with me about that.

Afterwards, I went to a hamburger store:

It's run by a nice lady called Miss Muff. She makes the finest bread-and-fried-meat sandwiches around. She also has a second course in scuba-diving.
Unfortunately, I was a bit short of money, so I had to bring in one of these to trade in for my burger:

So there you go: my weekend. That's the truth of the matter: absolutely nothing of interest at all.

PS: Computer still not working. I've had to borrow my flatmates computer for internet access. This works out quite well, because he's not in Melbourne at the moment.
And maybe I did make some of this post up. Just a little bit.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fresh Minds To Warp

Lady Sterne has had a baby! And of course, I'm sure that Tim will deal with the child in a responsible and grown-up manner.

Just thought I'd break the computer-induced blog hiatus to impart this news to you. I'm off today to a music shop in Camberwell to buy an accordion. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Days of Whine and Rage, or Rants of a Disgruntled Consumer

Blogging might be slow over the next couple of days. I've been having major problems with my laptop, and although some of the finest bloggers have been known to post at work, I'm not eager to do that at the moment.

It started on my Sunday. I switched on my laptop and it wheezed, groaned, and finally ground to a complete halt; it wouldn't even start up. Instead, a message appeared on my screen telling me that my Windows file 'Hal.dll' was corrupt. I didn't even know what 'Hal.dll' was, and what it had done to make it corrupt (was it doing shady dealings with members of Saddam Hussein's regime? Was it leaking to the press without telling me?) But there it was: my computer refused to work.
Apparently I had to reinstall that file onto my computer. Easy enough - if I had the Windows disk. Unfortunately, the disk that I had used to install Windows on my computer was, um, no longer available. You know how these things happen.

The only option seemed to be to buy Windows again. I headed along to the Big W in Lonsdale Street and found a copy in the computer department there. Without looking too much at the packaging - or thinking why it was only going for one hundred and fifty four dollars and ninety-five cents - I bought it. That, as it turns out was a big mistake.
I took the copy of Windows home and put it into my computer. I tried several times to load it; load was something it would not do. I took out the packaging and looked through the booklets, and finally looked up in the top right-hand corner of the packet.

There was a sign in this corner that said 'Upgrade'. The sign indicated that I was to turn the packet on its side and read the instructions there. I did so:

Suitable for use with Windows Millenium, and Windows 98.

So it seemed this was an 'Upgrade' edition of Windows XP and not a full edition; and that it was only used to upgrade computers that had previous versions of Windows on them. I contacted Microsoft, and after having Celine Dion channeled through my brain for five minutes, I was put on to a Microsoft computer guy. He advised me that I probably did have the wrong version of Windows, and that the full version would probably cost around three hundred dollars.

Well, it looks like I'd made a complete goose of myself. In my defence, the package was wrapped in plastic and the 'Upgrade' sign was, I believe, partially obscured by a sticker carrying the barcode. It seemed fairly clear from the title in the middle of the package that I had bought a copy of 'Windows'. Not so.

Well, this Monday I was working late and had the morning off. I gathered up the receipt and took the package back to Big W. I gave it all back and asked for a refund. The girl behind the counter wordlessly took the packaging, went to the other side of the desk and started talking on the phone for five minutes. When she was done with this, she came back and told me that they could not give the money back.
I asked why not.
Apparently, because the packaging had already been opened, there 'is no way we can tell that you haven't used it.'
I was furious. I thought about staying there to argue, but there wasn't much use. I asked for the software back and left.

This is intolerable. I will get my computer working again; it has too much writing on it. I'm facing at least another three hundred dollars, and I've already foolishly spent half of that price on a useless product from a store which now refuses to pay me back for a useless product. I have no idea what to do. Can Woolworth's really get away with this? If you lovely readers have any suggestions, then hit me up in the comments box, please.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Romantic Tips For Sensitive Zombies

This is a romantic advice column for zombies. If you are not a zombie, then you had probably better stop reading now. If you are not a zombie, then, I do not hesitate in saying that this is probably the most inappropriate romantic guide that you will ever read in your life.

If you are a zombie, however, it is quite appropriate.

If you look like this, then keep reading.

1. Communication is essential to all zombies in a relationship. Remember, guy zombies, if you're going out with a girl zombie, always tell her how much she means to you.Here are some conversational pointers:

'When I leer into your eye-sockets, my heart swells with horror.'

'Oh, Repulsiva. You fill me with such sweet revulsion, as another would feel upon gazing at a hollowed out skull filled with maggots. Be mine!'

2. Take her out somewhere nice. Remember, just because you feel like going to the local McDonalds and eating some of the customers doesn't mean she does. Perhaps she prefers a romantic evening spent in the graveyard, savaging some of the Goths?

3. Many girl zombies like dancing, but always remember, when you are holding her, refrain from biting her limbs off. This sort of behaviour is to be confined to the bedchamber. This may seem a little old-fashioned to some of you younger zombies out there, but it is the right thing to do.

4. If her arm, leg, or head falls off while you are kissing her, be polite. Store them in a safe place before continuing.

5. If, on the other hand, she is feeling adventurous, leave them out, and you could have a great deal of fun. One of the great advantages of being a zombie is that you can put your limbs to a great deal of use before screwing them on again afterwards.

(If this column interests you, you might like to look at some of the other useful publications:

How to Succeed in Hell Without Really Frying

Which Are Better: Zombies or Hippies? A scientific examination.

Culture for the Brainless Undead: an Introduction to Conceptual Art

The Family That Slays Together Stays Together

How To Find a Career in Inhuman Resources

Things I Have Learned After Reading H. Rider Haggard

In an effort to make myself into a man, I have been prescribing myself a stern diet of literary classics, subjecting myself to such masterworks as 'Versus: Ogden Nash' and 'King Solomon's Mines', by H. Rider Haggard. Oh, you may scoff and turn your nose up at the mention of Haggard, but he's very good. I've learned a lot from him.


When First Being Told The Tale of a Long-lost Mine Created by King Solomon, It Is Desirable To Exclaim For Dramatic Effect

"What was it you heard about my brother's journey at Bamangwato?" said Sir Henry, as I paused to fill my pipe before answering Captain Good.
"I heard this," I answered, "and I have never mentioned it to a soul till to-day. I heard that he was starting for Solomon's Mines."
"Solomon's Mines!" ejaculated both my hearers at once ...

Meteorological Phenomenon Have a Way of Occuring at Convenient Moments For The Plot

As soon as they were gone, Good went to the little box in which his medicines were, unlocked it, and took out a note-book in the front of which was an almanack. "Now, look here, you fellows, isn't to-morrow the fourth of June?"
We had kept a careful note of the days, so we were able to answer that it was.
"Very good; then here we have it - '4 June, total eclipse of the sun commences at 11.15 Greenwich time, visible in these Islands - Africa, &c.' There's a sign for you. Tell them that you will darken the sun tomorrow."
The idea was a splendid one ...

King Solomon Was a Pretty Awesome Road Builder

As for the road itself, I never saw such an engineering work, though Sir Henry said that the great road over the St. Gothard in Switzerland was very like it. No difficulty had been too great for the Old World engineer who designed it. At one place we came to a great ravine three hundred feet broad and at least a hundred deep. This vast gulf was actually filled in, apparently with huge blocks of dressed stone, over which the road went ...

It Is Not Advisable to Follow Withered Old Crones Into Dark Caves

On she led us, straight to the top of the vast and silent cave, where we found another doorway, not arched as the first was, but square at the top, something like the doorways of Egyptian temples.
"Are ye prepared to enter the Place of Death?" asked Gagool, evidently with a view to making us feel uncomfortable.
"Lead on, Macduff," said Good, solemnly ...

The Assassination Methods of Elephants

With a scream of pain the brute seized the poor Zulu, hurled him to the earth, and placing his huge foot on to his body about the middle, twined his trunk round his upper part and tore him in two ...

When Encountering a Mysterious Race of People Who Speak in A Dialect Related to Modern Zulu, One Should Foment Revolution If One Does Not Like Their Leader

... "Well, I feel uncommonly inclined to be sick."
"If I had anhy doubts about helping Umbopa to rebel against that infernal blackguard," put in Good, "they are gone now. It was as much as I could do to sit still while that slaughter was going on. I tried to keep my eyes shut, but they would open just at the wrong time. I wonder where Infadoos is. Umbopa, my friend, you ought to be grateful to us; your skin came near to having an air-hole made in it."

Englishmen Are Never Immoral

"It is strange," he answered, "and had ye not been Englishmen I would not have believed it; but English 'gentlemen' tell no lies. If we live through the matter, be sure I will repay ye!"

Englishmen Hardly Ever Remove Their Monocles

He was so very neat and so very clean shaved, and he always wore an eye-glass in his right eye. It seemed to grow there, for it had no string, and he never took it out except to wipe it. At first I thought he used to sleep in it ...

Englishmen Are Not Concerned By Wealth

... I can assure you that if you had passed some twenty-eight hours with next to nothing to eat and drink in that place, you would not have cared to cumber yourself with diamonds whilst plunging down into the unknown bowels of the earth, in the wild hope of escape from an agonising death.

But They Don't Turn Their Noses Up At It Either

... If it had not, from the habits of a lifetime, become a sort of second nature with me never to leave anything worth havin behind, if there was the slightest chance of my being able to carry it away, I am sure I should not have bothered to fill my pockets.

Englishmen Do Not Swear, They:

Ejaculate (!)
Use invective
Use salty language
Good responded nobly to the tax upon his inventive faculties. Never before had I the faintest conception of the breadth and depth and height of a naval officer's objurgatory powers.

In other news relating to the African continent: South Africans are stoners!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pedant's Pleasure

As you'll probably know, during the day, I type transcripts. It's not hilarious, but it's a living.

Some of the things that have amused me at work recently:

- A news item on the tiger quoll population of an offshore Australian item. It included an interview with a person listed as 'Peter Bilby';

- Two news items featuring a woman called Daisy Gardener (she works in the fashion industry). Presumably she has sisters called 'Rose' and 'Hyacinth';

- A transcript featuring a man called 'Ings'. 'Ings?' I thought. Is it the plural of 'Ing'? Did he start off as an 'Ing' and work his way up by getting married and multiplying? I'd hate to have a name like that: it's not even a 'Thing'.

- And an email conversation about the correct spelling of 'Doughnut' ...

Donut or not Donut
Macquarie Dictionary gives the spelling 'Donut', not 'Doughnut'.

Re: Donut or not Donut
Ough Nough [sic]!!!

Donut or not Donut
Whoops! The spelling is actually 'Doughnut' in Macquarie!

Re: Donut or not Donut
I shudder to think of the day when a 'Boeuf Bouillabaisse' chain opens across Melbourne ...

It's the little jokes that keep you going. But I can't do this job forever. I figure I'll take my three-and-a-half weeks holiday mid year and when I come back I'll start looking around at some of the other jobs out there. We'll see.


In another world, I wrote:

I used to think we lived in a democracy, but we don't. We live in a bureacracy; and it's all about making resolutions about making regulations for setting plans for writing reports.

That was in an article I wrote just after attending a Newcastle City Council public meeting. They had the idea of making a 'City Cultural Precinct' in the middle of Newcastle as a way of attracting artists to the city. It was and is a crazy idea. They could never agree on the borders of this precinct, they didn't have a clear idea about which artists would be working in this precinct (and which artists wouldn't), and they had no clue what date the precinct would be ready by.
The council was always planning to move organisations into different buildings; restructure the Library; and rebuild the art gallery, but it never seemed to happen. The motto of Newcastle City Council always seemed to be: "never put off for next year what you can put off for a decade."
In the meantime, organisations closed down; buildings grew derelict; businesses shut up; and people sat in the Newcastle Community Arts Centre on Parry Street and held interminable meetings in which they discussed future meetings they were going to have.

But there was another Newcastle. Over the three-years plus that I lived there, I can remember helping Liz to set up her store on Hunter Street, sitting in at the first meeting for a new zine committee at the Octapod building on King Street, seeing a Steve Martin play at the Repertoire theatre in Lambton, arguing with dreadlocked socialists selling Green party propaganda at the zine fair in the Honeysuckle markets, drinking too much with Fiona at the Sydney Junction Hotel on Beaumont Street, chatting to Sue Leask (and her Linda Jaivin-style hair) at the Pepperina bookshop on Bolton Street just two weeks before she shut up shop for good, and reading (or rather shouting) poetry at Dean Winter's Cabaret, opposite the now-closed Pepperina bookshop.

Good times? Sure, there were those. And then there was the time I first walked into Graphic Action. They were just next to The Rock Shop at the time, on Hunter Street; and I had just moved to the area. You know how occasionally you get weird author fetishes and for months on end, you comb the bookstores looking obsessively for books by that author, and often only that author? Well, at the time, I had a Michael Moorcock fetish. I wasn't expecting to find anything in particular, but I went in nevertheless. I had a vague idea that they might have stocked Elric of Melnibone comics, so after flicking through some of the collection at the back of the store, I asked the fast-talking guy at the counter if he had any Michael Moorcock books. He went to the collection and showed me several copies of Michael Moorcock's Multiverse.

That fast talking guy was James; he was a member of a local church, and a local theatre group; his father had been a state politician or a federal politician or something like that, and he was part of a local rap band. He was great company: smart, knew what you liked, funny, full of ideas, and usually ready to talk. But the business was his, and he knew business alright; he started working at another local comic store, and then started up in Graphic Action.
There were other guys working at GA as well; Liam, always good to talk to, and easygoing Callan, who was in a band called The Pints.
Later, GA moved to the opposite side of Hunter Street, near the Salvation Army employment offices. This second location for the store differed from the first principally in that you could actually move between the shelves and not get jammed between other customers.

Truth be told, I wasn't the biggest customer of GA. I've never been very interested in comics. But key finds there include the aforementioned Multiverse comics; Joss Whedon's Fray comics; and almost all the Howard the Duck books (which still remain tantalisingly almost-but-not-quite complete).

Ah, Graphic Action. If Newcastle had more places like you then ... it would be a city with two comic bookstores.

Crossposted here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An Unuseful Phrase

"You're about as useful as a fart in a jam jar!" she exclaimed to her husband towards the end of the film Imagine Me and You.

Pretty dumb line, if you ask me. If she had really wanted to call her husband an arsehole, why didn't she just call him an arsehole? And besides, the line is inaccurate. A fart in a jam jar would be very useful.

The phrase "About as useful as a fart in a jam jar" should be banned.

UPDATE! - It was a terrible film, by the way. Take my advice and save yourself the ten dollars and one and a half hours by doing something more entertaining and edifying, like banging your head against a brick wall.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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