Saturday, April 29, 2006

The I Of The Storm

"Plagiarism is the sincerest form of imitation, egotism is the sincerest form of flattery." - Myself.

I plagiarised Myself for a previous post. I didn't think it would matter. If it were up to Me, I thought, I'd be doing it all the time. Thankfully, Me didn't have any say in the matter, because it turns out I was wrong. Myself went to a lawyers this afternoon and took out court action against Me for what I did.

When I heard this out, I immediately tried to dial Me up on the phone, but Me was engaged. I later found out that he was seeing his shrink. I was going to need one myself, I muttered loudly. Please keep me out of this, said Myself, coming into the room. I never mentioned Me, I said.
It was a good thing I didn't mention Me, because just at that moment, he came into the room too. When he found out what happened, he was immediately going to take it out on Myself, but I stopped him. As for Myself, he was busy watching re-runs of Funniest Home Videos on video.

Things would have ended happily when You walked into the room. And as you know, Me and You have a deep, dark history; and as for me and You ...

I could see that my troubles were just beginning ...

No Prime Like The Present

What ... that's you? Oh, sorry. I've just been over at The Prime Pages It's the webs best resource for prime-number related information. Yes, sir, if you want to find out all about numbers that are only divisible by one and themselves, this is the website for you.

For instance, did you know that 'as of December 2003,
34*R(36400)-42000040044444004000024*10^2264*R(36400)/R(4550)-1 was the largest known palindromic prime, all of whose decimal digits are prime'?

Me too! And there's much more where that came from.

I'm composing an ode to a prime number at the moment. I'm giving it the working title, 'It had to be ninety-nine million, eight hundred and four thousand, two hundred and seventen.' Here's how it goes so far:

It had to be 99,804,217,
Wonderful 99,804,217,
It had to be 99,804,217.

It's not bad, but I think it lacks something. What do you think?

Blog Gossip!

- Delving evil Elves shelve Blair's lair while Blair is unaware.

- An anonymous Anonymous Lefty, (non-synonymous with the eponymous Anonymous Lefty, just an anonymous Anonymous Lefty), by iniquitous means, attempts to make the eponymous Anonymous Lefty's name ubiquitous.

- The Hack smacks back at attackers!

- Redsaid redeploys and is reemployed. We all applaud her cunning ploys!

- Bek has glitch with her Mitch bitch! Seems her e-male is not getting e-mail, or something. Can anyone fix the Mitch glitch?

Crime and Punishment

Growing up, my three brothers and I could never quite understand why our father was always angry. It's not as if we tried to make him mad or anything; it just sort of happened.
My father's chosen method of exacting discipline upon us was through the strap. Oh, how we dreaded that awful instrument of punishment! Oh how we quaked at the very mention of it!

Of course, our mother very rarely went so far as to punish us, but when she did, her chosen instrument was the wooden spoon. It was just as effective, perhaps because it was so rare. Our reaction, I suppose, was "Noooooo, mum! Not the wooden spoon! We were just kidding around! We didn't know you were serious."

Well, I'm going to put the question out there, to all my readers: how do you think children nowadays should be punished? Feel free to answer it in my poll:

How Should You Discipline A Child?
Go with the classics: Wooden spoon, or nothing
The strap - simple, economical, and effective.
The whip, the whip! Lashings never hurt them!
The Boot: it's the only way they'll learn.
The Child Must Be Put on a Diet - Nothing But Cabbage Soup for a Month!
Free polls from

I'm going with 'The Boot' myself. If the children complain, you can always tell them 'disparaging The Boot is a bootable offence!' But what about you?

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Excellent advice from Lewis Carroll.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE! - Four votes for the wooden spoon? People, what's wrong with the strap? I got the strap and it never did me any harm!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Putting the Hi Back in Hi-5

I wrote this today. It's for Jenny, because I'd totally love to see her perform it in one of her comedy acts and bask in her reflected glory. It's a simple moral tale about, (amongst other things) prozac and monkeys.

A Happy Song
(Or, Cons and Prozacs)

O, once upon a time,
I was crappy, crappy, crappy,
And then I took some Prozac,
And was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy,
Yes, then I took some Prozac,
And was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be.

So then I took one more,
I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy,
And I passed out on the floor,
I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be.

So then I took two more,
And I could see, see, see, see, see, see, see, see, see, see, see, see,
Things I couldn't see before,
Like maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots,

So then I took two more;
And there appeared before me,
With a fucking scary roar,
A very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very
Very angry purple dinosaur;
And "YOU!" he hollered angrily,

So then I took five more,
And was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be,
And went into a magic place
Beside a magic sea,
Where screaming yellow monkeys
Scratched their way into my face,
And I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be.

And then a yellow monkey climbed
Into my hollow head,
And I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be.
Then I started seeing red,
And I began to scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream
At the monkey in my head,
But it was all a dream,
And I woke up with the monkey in my bed, in my bed, in my bed, in my bed,
And was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy as could be;

So then I took ten more,
And the monkeys monkeys monkeys monkeys monkeys monkeys monkeys monkeys
Began to fall on me,
"Listen up, you narcs and junkies,
You alcoholic thugs,
Don't do it ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever,
Don't do drugs, don't do drugs,
Unless you see your doctor,
And he says that it's okay,
Then pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,
Pop those pills away, pop away!"

Yes, I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy,
To receive this nice advice,
I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy,
And completely paralysed.

Chronic Artism

Here's a pic of one of the sculptures outside the Victorian houses of parliament in Spring Street:

Jem writes:

I Googled for more information and learned that "artist Charles Robb said the inversion of La Trobe questioned the purpose of public monuments and their meaning in contemporary society."

So in other words, when I walk past it every day I'm supposed to think "what's the point of that stupid thing? What a waste of money."

I kind of like it. Maybe it's a little obvious, trying to turn our perceptions of art on its head by, er, turning the art on its head, but it appeals to my sense of humour. It works - partly because Melbourne is such a neat city, with the city center and many of the suburbs being neatly divided into several main blocks, with side alleys running off at right angles.

There are other sculptures like it. For instance, the side of the Potter museum:

And, my absolute favourite, outside the Victorian state library:

It's like the thing is sinking into the pavement. What can I say? It appeals to my sense of humour.
Of course, this idea can get taken too far. For instance, just imagine if Salvador Dali drew a triangle and an octagon, and those two shapes both dropped tabs of acid, fucked like crazy, and gave birth to a mutant offspring.
Well, that mutant offspring would probably look exactly like Federation Square:

The general idea is for people to sit around it and drink coffee, or something, but I don't know. It makes you feel as if you're living in Piccasso's Guernica.

So, anyone else: any sculptures or pieces of architecture you're fond of?

O What a Beautiful Mourning

This morning, Aurora, with roseate cheeks, spread across the sky; and Zephirus blew over the ocean and along the streets of this fair city, all heralding the grand and glorious entrance of Apollo, as he took slow, golden steps into the cerulean blue, and ...

But how do I know all this? I don't, actually. I'm making it up. I was inside all day today. Got on a train at 6.00 and barely had time for coffee in Port Melbourne before I went to work. Actually, I'm describing how the day might have seemed to me if I was outside instead of in. Oh, shut up. I don't want to hear about it. I needed the money, okay?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Parenting Tips from Tim

At work. Ten minutes to go. It's kind of dull, but - hey, you know what? I just came across a news item today about how if you keep your kids out of the sun for all their lives, then their skin won't develop Vitamin D, and they'll get rickets or something.

Apparently, they only need to get a couple of minutes of sunlight per week. Whatever. I didn't pay much attention to that bit, actually. The important thing is, parents, you can't let your progeny sitting about bathing in the pale glow of the television screen anymore, growing pallid and listless, like the Eloi in Well's Time Machine. No! Turn the little sprats out into the sunlight now! And don't let them run around, either: make them lie on their sides while all those healthy UV rays works their way into your children's pores. Those children must roast! For their own good!

And don't let them come back in until they're red as a betroot!

Mel Brooks, the Producer's "Mel Brooks' The Producers"

Written and directed by Mel Brooks, The Producers (1968) is a very different film from The Producers (2005), for which Mel Brooks was the writer and director. But apart from these differences, what else do these films have in common?

In an attempt to analyse their common differences and isolate their contrasting similarities, I have recently watched both films, and compiled a rudimentary table of facts:

The Producers (1968)The Producers (2005)
Basic StoryFilm about a failed Broadway producer who attempts to produce a failed Broadway show - and fails.Film about a successful failure, Max Bialystock, who fails in producing a successfull Broadway show - that was meant to fail.
Name of Broadway ShowSpringtime for HitlerSpringtime for Hitler
Character: Max BialystockLittle-known American actor Zero Mostel plays Broadway producer Max Bialystock, who bears a remarkable resemblance to little-known American actor Zero Mostel.
The character of Bialystock is underacted by Nathan Lane, who is in fact an overacted, underrated version of Zero Mostel for the 2000s.
Character: Leopold BloomGene Wilder underacts the part perfectly by not acting at all, merely reacting.
Matthew Broderick ingeniously recreates Gene Wilder's performance, thereby saving himself the trouble of acting for the rest of the film.
Quote"What is it, oh fish-faced enemy of the people? Oh, have I hurt your feelings? Good.""Stop the world! I WANT TO GET ON!"
Quote"We'll play the Cruel Abduction and Rape of Lucretia, and I'll be Lucretia." "And I'll be Rape.""Not many people know thith, but der Fuhrer was descended from a long line of Englith Queenth."
Quote"Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!""Bloom! There's more to you than there is to you!"
May possibly offend ...Jewish people, failed Broadway producers, and hippies.Jewish people, homosexuals, and just about everybody else.

Some people may say the 2005 film is better than the 1968 film, and others may say the 1968 film influenced the 2005 film (or vice versa). Others may think that both films are the same, with some large but unimportant differences. the important thing is, The Producers is a film with some serious points to make, and some not-so serious point to make. (This may also explain why the film is mostly humourous. Or will it?)

In the end, The Producers is a film that some people will like, and some people will dislike. Does anyone care to split the difference?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Father Has ESP

Barely three days after I sent my parents this postcard, what do I get in return, but this?

(Not the copy I got, but you get the idea of the content from the picture)

"Tim," reads the note on the cover, "I thought you might enjoy this wafty magazine. Dad."

Thanks, Dad. Thanks a bunch. Honestly, the old bastard is cleverer than he seems - even to himself.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Brief Update

Lingerie is an important thing, isn't it? I think black is the best. But what about you? Please offer thoughtful discussion and debate about this vital topic in comments.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Weird Six

I was getting a post together called 'If Transport Were Bodily Organs', but still haven't finished it. In the meantime, I've been memed! So, without further ado, here's six weird things about me:

1. For ever since I can remember, my parents have had an old pendulum clock sitting on the wall of their house. It has a brown face, and two copper hands, one for the minutes, and one for the seconds. It keeps good time, and I'm quite fond of it.
Once, however, when I was a kid, I had a bad experience with it. I was probably only about five years old. I was sitting around the house, bored, and tired. The day seemed to be stretching on forever and ever. For some reason, I looked up at the clock, and saw twelve hands stretching out all over the clock face. This terrified me.
I realised at some point later that this was a dream. Some dream, though!

2. Speaking of strange dreams, when I was younger, perhaps in my early twenties, I'd sometimes have strange dreams where I saw extremely complex mathematical patterns in my minds eye. It only happened very occasionally, and I've since stopped having these dreams.

3. I've tried to learn German twice, but haven't succeeded. The first was when I was at Balranald Central School and did German by correspondence. Being lazy, I couldn't keep up with it.
The second time was an abortive attempt after I left Uni and had just moved to Newcastle.
The third attempt is still to come ...

4. I grew up in a NSW town that played Australian Rules football, but we were the one family in town that didn't have a football team. I still don't have a football team, even though I live in Melbourne!

5. I like haggis.

6. My family had a fox terrier who I used to tease by saying 'Good dog!' in a growl, and 'bad dog', in a happy, congratulatory tone of voice. (My brothers and me also liked to throw her in the pond occasionally, because afterwards, she'd jump out and race at an incredibly fast speed around the yard, so I blame them for my incipient sadism.)

This is all not that weird, actually, so maybe you guys who know me might like to list six more weird things about me in comments? Go on!

PS Hate to incur the wrath of the internet Gods, but I'm not going to nominate anyone (and I'll think up an excuse for why later.) But anyone who wants can pick up on this meme and do it themselves!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Holey Cheeses!

DEAR Mum and Dad,

Praise the Holey Lard!

Yes, I have seen the light and joined the church of the LARD GOD and his only son, Cheeses!
He is the Lard of Ancient Israel and of Moulden Egypt; and he rules over all pasteurised and unpasteurised cultures, the world over!

And LO! he did plant a garden in the East, and he called it EDAM - Genesis, Ch. 2, V. 3

And Cheeses Crust did say to his disciples: "Suffer the little children to Camembert unto Brie." -
John, Ch. 11, V. 20-21.

And Stilton begat Gruyere, and Gruyere begat Ricotta, and Ricotta begat Bluevein, who WAS King of Babylon in the days of Brie the Conqueror. -
Kings, Ch. 12, V. 30

And Moses did say to the burning bush then, 'LARD! Who are you?' And the burning bush made reply: 'EDAM WHAT EDAM!' -
Deuteronomy, Ch. 7, V. 2.

The Lard is my cheddar: I shall not want -
Psalms, Ch. 9, V. 1.

In Cheeses name,
Forever and ever,


Quote of the Day

From Diogenes Lamp:

Henry Ford was an anti-Semite...

Ford paid his assembly line workers well above the current union rates, to ensure that he had the best workers obtainable. This was essential if his cars were to have a good reputation. But he would give anybody a job. It might be just throwing disused motor parts into bins, but if you did it well you had a job, even during the Depression. And did your religion make any difference? None whatsoever.

What about the sales end? Were Henry Ford's car salesmen ordered to not sell Ford cars to Jews? No, they sold cars to anybody who wanted to buy. As Adam Smith was the first to discover,
an entrepreneur cannot help but improve life, even for people whom he dislikes.

Now picture somebody with Henry Ford's anti-Semitic prejudices in a collectivist, big government state, of the kind that the left yearn for…

I'm sure you can take it from there.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lazy Long Weekend

We're into the third day of the Easter long weekend in Melbourne, and the weather's wonderful. Slight showers are followed by the sun coming out from behind the clouds. The night air is sharp and cool, and the whole city is calm. It's my kind of weather, alright. It might seem a bit odd to non-Australian readers, but if you ever experience the Australian summer - good for inducing sweats and rashes and attracting flies and mosquitoes; not good for comfort or relaxation - you might see why winter is my favourite time of year, and Melbourne is my favourite city.
We've still got a day and a half of the long weekend to go, and I plan to spend most of it reading. Suitably enough for this time of year, the two books I'm reading have a rather pious theme.

Phantastes is the first book written by George Macdonald, a Christian and mystic from Scotland who fell under the influence of the German romantics. It's a nineteenth century fantasy novel, with a free-flowing, dreamlike plot; a little like the Alice in Wonderland books, but written with a slightly more allegorical intent.
I first came across Phantastes on the seventh floor of Fisher library, an unlikely, gigantic, nine-and-a-half-storey bookshelf in the middle of Sydney University campus. I'm not sure how, exactly, I came across it; I think I'd read of Macdonald's name in connection with C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton and went exploring for other books written by him. I have to say Phantastes was well worth finding.

The other book I'm reading might seem to go a little against the spirit of this weekend:

The Devil's Dictionary is, to my knowledge, the only book Ambrose Bierce ever wrote. I could be very, very wrong about that, though.
I've always been fond of fictional lexicons, and made up dictionaries (see as an example my latest Poet's Dictionary post), although I have to confess that comic writers today have overused the idea. Bierce's work may or may not have been the first 'satirical' dictionary; so if you like, you can blame him for starting it all. If only The Devil's Dictionary wasn't so damned good!
Bierce uses what appears to be a narrow idea - a book of definitions - to ridicule all the established piueties and opinions of his time. The book is compiled, like C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, by an imaginary diabolic figure: probably Satan himself. And - again like The Screwtape Letters - it's best read with this in mind. It's full of cheery advice to the pious Christian on how best to land themselves in hell. Definitions are occasionally illustrated by short, satirical poems, mostly of Bierce's own invention.
The definitions are sharp and precise, but occasionally - very occasionally - they become fanciful. 'Chimpanzees' are defined as a 'species of pansy grown in Africa'; Abelians as a 'religious denomination' who unfortunately flourished at the same time as 'Canians, and are now extinct'. I guess Bierce's idea was to lighten the harsher satire with more fanciful passages; and it works well.

Perhaps the last word should be left with Bierce - or is it Satan?

Dictionary: A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic.

(Cross posted here.)

Sunday Morning Pastoral Postage

The Tale of Leuqsicon and Philomela

Ah! There you are, my sweet Philomela! Thou petal, thou delicate flower of womanhood, thou paragon of all that is beauteous about thy sex! I am filled with ebullience at the very sight of you!

Eh? What's that you say?

Yes, I am elated to have found you on this gracious day! The sunbeams smile gladly down on me, Philomela; the purling rill seems to chuckle with joy: for I must admit that I can no longer quell my mounting ardour for you, Philomela: indeed, my bosom swells with the most voluptuous passion whenever a thought of you brushes my neuronal cells! Yes, Philomela, I am extravagantly and utterly enraptured by you!

Ya wanna root, then?

Alas, no, Philomela! Neither nuts nor berries nor any of the other healing fruit of the ground can heal my tortured adoration for you! For - let me confess this to you, my sweet one - I long to possess you entirely; to clasp your skin to my skin; to engage in le flagrante delicto, until, in the throes of white-hot passion, our tumescent bodies shall together attain heights of ecstasy as yet only dreamt of by our philosophers!

Ya wanna root, is that it?

O my cruel but eloquent princess, you mock me in my pain! I flinch as would a babe from the barbs of outrageous fortune! Yea, even now, my eager anticipation of the sweet hours of togetherness that we could enjoy, my Philomela, turns to horror! *Sobs* The time is fast approaching, my femme fatale, when I may be forced to end my torment, to my 'quietus make with a bare bodkin!'

*Flashes tits* Well, come on, 'ave a grope then, ya pussy!

Oh! Cruel vixen! Truly, La Belle Sans la Merci hath me in thrall!

(Exeunt Leuqsicon in tears, followed by Philomela, swearing at him)


Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Evils of Communism

There are socialists all over Melbourne. Some people might have a problem with this, but not me: they provide a valuable niche industry for people who don't mind selling propaganda written by others, and an important service for people who like reading propaganda written by others.

These are some photos of an old dude who sells the Green Left Weekly in Coburg on the weekends. What he does for the rest of the week, I don't know. Maybe conspire to overthrow the Bush regime, or resurrect Che, or something.

"Instead of funding a rapacious multinational corporation that grinds its competitors into the dust, why not fund a rapacious multinational political organisation that grinds its supporters into the dust?"

"Can I interest you in a Watchtow... oh, sorry, wrong religion."

"Hey brother, let's defeat capitalism by participating in it!"

Socialism: giving the youth of today something to be apathetic about.

Friday, April 14, 2006

More Definitions From The Poet's Dictionary


The boob tube.


The nose hose.


The crotch watch.


Ocular binoculars.


Digit spigot.




The dome home.

The dome tome.


The chrome dome loam.


The hoof roof.

Poetry Corner!

On Male Lactation
Women have nipples
Because babies like tipples.
Men have them - barely -
But produce milk quite rarely.

The Anus
The standard human derriere, or anus,
Is two-faced, so it should be renamed 'Janus'.

On The Male Ovary
Human males suffer from a distinct lack of ovaries:
So much so, that one wag dubbed them 'Novaries'.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Eternal Dilemma

It's a dilemma that has been with us since the dawn of time, or the beginning of the world (whichever came first) ...

Coffee ...

Or sleep?

What do you say?

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I don't know about Spanish, but I suspect that the Italian language doesn't even exist. It's a confidence trick played by the Italians on everyone else; a way of making fools of us all. Sure, there are Italian dictionaries and lexicons, but they just wrote those in the nineteenth century to add a bit of verisimilitude to the joke, to make it that much more convincing.
God knows how they actually communicate, but I suspect it's a little bit like opera, involving lots of wild gestures, a woman who can scream at extremely high pitches, and a man dressed in black with a moustache and a gun. If I ever taught Italian to anyone, we'd just listen to Verdi operas for a few hours, then I'd give one of them a gun, and that would be it.

English is another matter entirely. English-English is a confidence trick that the English tried to pull on the rest of the world, but nobody fell for. Australian-English is a confidence trick pulled by the Australians on the Australians. And American English is a confidence trick pulled by the rest of the world on the Americans.

Separated At Birth

E-coli ...

And Broccoli!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Schnitz the Veal Deal!

Random Observation

If the fat, dumpy Lebanese grandmothers that live in my neighbourhood became any more fat and dumpy, they'd turn into hedgehogs, and roll along the footpath instead of walking.

Unmutual Incomprehension

"Sprechen sie deutsch?"

(Looks at watch) "Nine!"


"What is the most common methods by which humans create babies?"

German girl (counting out her coins): "Sechs!"


"DIE, Grethel, DIE!"

"Die ist nicht eine Weise fur zu Praposition ein Madchen!"

Yup, I'm doing a whole load of nothing.

Friday, April 07, 2006

When To Tell Your Parents About Oedipus

Tim Sterne on reading to your baby:

She's well, but not taking any interest in literature as yet. I was reading her an Isaiah Berlin essay other day, and she seemed to enjoy it, so maybe the history of ideas is more her thing. Or maybe she was just humouring me.

Here are some other books he might like to read to his baby:

David Copperfield

War and Peace (in the original Russian)

Shakespeare's Macbeth (in the original Russian translation)

The Old Testament

The New Testament

The In-Between Testament

The Postmodern Testament (the smash hit sequel to God's bestselling thriller New Testament)

GOD, by Mr S.Atan de Ville

Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems (one poem per night, printed on tissue paper, and lain ever-so-gently under their pillows. By their second birthday, they will have absorbed more poetry than some people will have in their lifetimes.)

Sophocles Oedipus Rex

Margaret Fulton's Guide to Home Cooking (Sung in a minor key, in rhyming couplets, with a penguin under each arm)

William Shakespeare's Margaret Fulton's Guide to Home Cooking (a little known work by the master playwright, translating Fulton's 20th century Australian English into 16th century English-English).

Ulysses (Through the wrong end of a gramophone, standing on a llama on a mountaintop, reciting it in German with an Irish accent, or Irish with a German accent)


Euclid's Theorems (Told to your baby through the medium of interpretative dance).

Sun Tzu's Art of War

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Backwards, thank you very much. The final volume, Zossiumus - Zzarbok is grossly neglected.)


Contrafiction in Terms

Ladies, gentlemen, and people of a more determinate gender. Today, I'd like to welcome you here tonight to what is definitely not, quite possibly, and undoubtedly one of the most exciting competitions around.

Yes, it's:


It's our inaugural awards ceremony tonight, where we'll be presenting prizes for the fourth time ever in our short but lengthy history! And the competition for the awards has been lacklustre, although fierce: our always-lazy Contradiction spotters have been working as hard as ever. And we're pleased to say that through their comprehensive efforts, we've spotted many, diverse examples of the one contradiction being used; and one wonderful example of many contradictions being used. It has, in short, been a fascinatingly dull, and boringly amusing month. All in a day's work, really!

Here is just a small sample from the lacklustre competition. If we gave you all of the contradictions spotted, let us assure you, they would amount to even less than what is listed below:

- A philosopher in Germany proclaimed "God is dead!" but later discovered that He was not dead; he was, in fact, only resting. The philosopher died shortly afterwards, and decided to write a book about his experiences called "On Death and Dying"

- In a children's hospital in Melbourne, Australia, a woman gave birth to a pair of triplets and a pickaxe that knew the words to Gilbert and Sullivan's operas backwards. However, when questioned afterwards by our spotters, she claimed to know nothing about the pickaxe.

- In Pyrmont, in Sydney, Australia, a man stood on the edge of the bridge in a herring costume, and shouted to the police, "I just want to die!" before jumping off and falling up into the sky.

- In Newcastle, Great Britain, a psychiatrist was devastated to find that, instead of marrying his mother, he had married his wife by mistake. He concluded that he had been living a a lie for the past twenty years, and promptly filed for divorce. Unfortunately, it was with his mother, and when she later found out what he did, his wife merely laughed at him and said that he was stuck with her now.

- In Ringwood, Australia, workers in "Frank's Fudge Factory: You Stack It, We Pack It!", were found to be not working at all, but indulging in acts of buggery.

We are pleased to announce that the Oxymoron of the Year prize for this month goes to neither of the above.

Thanks for coming to our little awards ceremony. Attendance figures this month reach into their zeros! Good night, remember not to slip and bang your heads on the ceiling on the way out, watch out for the extinct wolves (which are plentiful around here), and have a nice day!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Strophe Striphe

Strophe Striphe, or, Period Pain: Being a Simple Moral Tale About Grammar in Ten (10) Stanzas and Upper and Lower Case

There was a little Sentence,
A sinful little Sentence,
That finally found its way
Through sin to true repentance:

This Sentence harboured, commas,
In ungrammatic, places;
& letters scattered through it
In lower & Upper cases;

& each few words were spiked
With hyphens, slashes, quotes;
With ~ tildes!, & ampersands, & ... dots,
& footnotes on footnotes;

But this sinful Sentence had
A problem which eclipses
Such ungrammatic profusion
Of (parenthesis) ... & ... ellipsis ...

It's fatal flaw was one
That would drive you round the bend,
For - to put it simply -
This sentence did not,
..................................would not,
....................................................could not
................................................................... END .....

It lacked a simple period
To separate its text;
To isolate its final word
From the first word of the next;

This Sentence, in its sin,
Ran on & on & on,
& on & on & on & on,
& on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on ....

God came along & saw
Its verbose misery,
& all at once! - picked up his pen! -
Before! - the words! - could flee! -

He set a simple dot among
A busy brace of slashes ////
Strokes - jots #, lines, spots ... colons: commas, CaSeS,
& d.a.n.c.i.n.g. stars *** and dashes:

& all at once, they disappeared,
Into the clear blue sky:
& the Sentence was a single word,
& that word was:


An Ode to the Ampersand

O Ampersand, o Ampersand,
I'd like to sprinkle you on dampers and
Put you in picnic hampers and
Take you away in the camper van
To toast you with glasses of champers and
Other liquors of a celebratory variety,
O Ampersand.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Department of Grammatological Rectitude

To whom it may concern (and it may concern quite a lot of you),

The Department of Grammatological Rectitude (or DGR, for short) has been formed by an international team of grammatologists in order to identify examples of misplaced apostrophes, commas, mispellings, tautologies, oxymorons, and other common linguistic errors. In this way, by zealously pursuing the appropriate use of language, we hope to facilitate true communication amongst parties.

The DGR is grieved to note the following instances of linguistic error observed around Melbourne:

- 1 (one) bakery on Sydney Road, Brunswick, selling 'Crossants'.

We feel moved to tell the baker that he or she are indeed not selling 'Crossants', and that if they were selling 'Crossants', they would not be receiving many customers. It is certainly true that bakeries of this sort have been known, from time to time, to use ingredients of an insectoid nature; to date, however, all such instances on record are inadvertent.

- 1 (one) computer store advertising it's 'Opening Hour' as being from '9.00 am - 5.00 am, Monday to Friday'.

Never have we seen a more blatant flouting of the 'singular noun/plural noun' rule laid out in page three of the DGR handbook.

- 1 (one) example in Dandenong of a cafe advertising 'Cafe Late'

While this example may or may not indicate something about the standard of service at this particular venue, we must inform them that the term they are looking for is probably 'Cafe Latte'.

- 2 (two) examples in a Chinese medicine store window in Coburg:
Advertisement for a cure for 'Cronic Pains'
Advertisement promoting 'Tasty Children Herbal Medicine'.

We are grieved to state that the phrase 'Cronic Pains' gave several of our staff chronic pains. We hope that their prescription of 'tasty children' will cure this.

Several miscellaneous items must also be reported:

- Politicians should not be accused of playing "politics" when that is, indeed, the job we pay them to do;
- The "Road to the Middle East Peace Process" is not an appropriate metaphor, and can not be "derailed" before it "gets off the ground", no matter how hard it tries;
- "Learnings" (as in the phrase "Essential Learnings") is not an appropriate plural. Those who use the phrase "Learnings" have very little learning to speak of.
The following jobs do not exist (even if they are advertised)

- Administrative Manager
- Managing Administrator
- Administrative Assistant
- Managing Assistant to the Administrative Resource Assistant

Offenders are hereby ordered to properly capitalise punctuate the following sentence before writing it out a hundred times:

your young cousin yoricks yo yos of yore sold at yesnaby in yesteryear for five pieces of pennies apiece

Sincerely (and appropriately) yours,
The Department of Grammatological Rectitude
Email: timhtrain - at -

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