Saturday, September 30, 2006

AFL Grand Final

It's AFL Grand Final time here in Melbourne (as well as in the rest of Australia), and the excitement is very exciting! The customary crappy nontertainment has been had, and they've dragged out several former AFL stars and driven them around the oval. Then came the team songs!

First up, West Coast Eagles:
We're the Eagles,
the West Coast Eagles
Wow again!
And we're here to show you why
This line strikes an odd note of existential angst; normally, an eagle wouldn't be worrying about proving 'why' it was an eagle.
We're the big birds,
Technically speaking, there are bigger birds.
kings of the big game
This is a bit of a non sequitur; just because they are 'big birds' doesn't mean that they're suited to the 'big game'.
We're the Eagles, we're flying high
A bit of needless repetition here, but I think we get the message.

Then came the Swans' club song:
Cheer, Cheer the Red and the White
Honour the name by day and by night
That's a little much, don't you think?
Lift that noble banner high
Shake down the thunder from the sky
You might want to keep the banner down if there's a storm, it might attract lightning.
Whether the odds be great or small
Swans will go in and win over all
This is a bit of an exaggeration, but we'll see if they pull it off.
While her loyal sons are marching
Onwards to victory
Where's the rhyme? But I think we get the message.

Well, have a good game, people, and I hope your enjoyment is very enjoyable! And most of all, GOOD LUCK to both of the teams - I'm sure one of them is going to need it!

UPDATE! - I must say, I'm really loving all these Grand Final ads! Why, just half an hour ago they had an epic, five-minute ad for dog food! What's YOUR favourite Grand Final ad? Why?

ANOTHER UPDATE! - One presenter is tipping the Swans to win, another presenter is tipping the West Coast Eagles to win, and another is tipping a draw! I pick ... none of the above. Is there another option, Eddie?

UPDATE ON ANOTHER UPDATE! - And isn't it a top performance being put in by the grass at the oval? Excellent work, grass!

I'm going to get a drink!


(Please apply this update to whichever side is appropriate at the current time, whatever that is)

POLL UPDATE! - But enough about what I think. How do YOU rate the performance of the grass in this Grand Final?

How Do You Rate the Performance of the Grass?
Free polls from
YET ANOTHER UPDATE! - With the Eagles leading the Swans by 25 points at half-time, I'm tipping this game as a clear win for the Swans.

UPDATE OF IMPORTANCE! - We're now moving into the fourth third of the first half of the third quarter, which is a very important part of the game.

QUESTION! - Who's got the ball? I was just watching a video of cats acting in a Shakespeare play on YouTube.

ROUND UP! - And with the conclusion of the game, victory has gone to the winners, who achieved triumph by the decisive margin of one point (too be fair though, it was a BIG point!) But in football, there are no losers, only teams who win more decisively than the opposition. Or something.

Excellent performances all around, but I have to say that the best individual player of the game was The West Coast Eagles!

Whew! Wasn't that fun?

I'll Give You Tattoos!

Everyone seems to be blogging about tattoos, so I thought I'd do a post about tattoos too. I like them. You don't have to get a modern map of the world pasted across your arse; some can be quite elegant.

And some of them, um, .... aren't.

It's all a personal choice, really.
Some are mystifying; why would you get a Chinese aphorism burnt into your body if you can't read Chinese? For all you know, the artist could have written "I am a huge fuckwit" across your most intimate parts.

Me, I think I'll wait until they invent animated tattoos before I get one of my own. Maybe have a Charles Dickens novel scrolling up my arm ...

Or a face on my back with eyes that follow you around the room ...

The possibilities are endless!

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Brief Post About Figures of Speech

1. People can be 'sane' or 'insane', but where are they in when they're 'insane', and is it possible to be 'outsane'?

2. "It's possible to be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but can you ever be, just, like 'whelmed'?" - Ten Things I Hate About You

3. You know how some bloggers end their posts 'That is all?' Well, I'm waiting for them to do a post like this:

'You know how some bloggers use the phrase 'That is all'? The phrase 'That is all' really shits me. And that is all I'm ever going to say about the phrase 'That is all'.

That is all.

4. In concluding this brief post about figures of speech, I offer you the Speech of a Figure:

- "Numbers, members of the arithmetical series, and fellow figures, thank you all for joining me today. I trust you are all discrete and integral, and that you're enjoying the night so far. And now, I'd like to turn the floor over to a good square number - he's got a wonderful speech for you I understand - he's the number 4! Thank you!"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Murdering With a Grin

God, I hate them. You know who they are - I KNOW you know who they are. The people who lurk in office corners, in shady kitchens or by the bathroom, and smile and wave as you go past. Perhaps they'll innocently offer a greeting. 'Hello, Tim.' Or simperingly ask you, 'How are you, Tim?' How can you answer back? Your easiest solution is often to mutter something in pidgin-French and shuffle quickly into the bathroom before they say something else.

They are the true bastards of modern life. They are the People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name. In fact, just in the past week, from these People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name, I have received:

- Five greetings from the People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name.

- Four hand waves with evil intent from the People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name.

- Innumerable malicious looks, thinly disguised as cheery grins from the People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name.

But why? Why do People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name do this to you? Why, to put it bluntly, do the People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name, act as if You Knew Their Name And You Are In Fact Very Good Friends With Them? Is it simply an assertion of their superiority over you? I suspect not: I suspect that People Who Know Your Name And Know You Don't Know Their Name are simply expressing their natural, misanthropic tendencies (everyone has them, after all) by going out of their way to piss off as many people in the office as possible: they are murdering with a grin.

And if you're in a misanthropic mood (and you probably are), you might like to try it yourself. Go up to a random person in the street, grin nefariously and wave with malicious intent, and leave them there - wondering who the bloody hell you are.

Pissing people off is one of the simplest pleasures a misanthrope has. And let's face it; people probably deserve it.

Egg-Nogging and Blogging: A Matter of Grave Concern

"I sniggered into my chick pea curry" writes one reader of this website. "... you've nearly given me keyboard accidents with coffee coming up my nose with laughter" says Tim Blair commenter. And another: "I nearly snorted coffee out of my nose."

I can't tell you how many of times this sort of thing has happened to me. I have been innocently enjoying my morning coffee while clicking through my favourite blogs, when a small joke has been enough to bring me on the verge of applying a boiling-hot caffeine colonic to my nasal passages: snirtle, indeed!
Worse has happened to other blog readers. Just listen to these horror stories:
"On the morning it happened," writes Betty Sue of Little Woppingtonarang, Northern Territory, "I got up and did what I normally do. I was fixed myself a lemonade with one hand and began preparing some sherbert with the usual mix of tartaric and citric acid and bicarbonate of soda and icing sugar. Occasionally, I reached over to my desktop computer and clicked through to links on your [blog name suppressed for security reasons] web log. I was so engrossed by one post that I absent-mindedly poured the bicarbonate of soda into the lemonade and shook the result up before trying to feed this to my children. If the glass of hadn't exploded before it reached my child's lips, I don't know what would have happened! Blogging is dangerous!"
Or consider the case of 'Joe', a circus clown who happened at the time to be perfecting a circus act when he very narrowly avoided disaster during training:
"The act involved me juggling a simple combination of ... four pavlovas and three bananas ... while having a bowl of Aeroplane jelly balancing on my head. At the same time, for the entertainment of the audience, I planned to be walking on the tightrope with my right foot and surfing the web on my laptop computer (although obviously not on my laptop) with my left foot. It was meant to be a cutting artistic commentary on modern civilisation. However, on this particular occasion, I had strung up the tightrope between two skyscrapers in my neighbourhood. I ... clicked through to my [blog name suppressed for security reasons] and happened to see an ADORABLE picture of a labrador hugging a kitten! I couldn't help myself; I broke up laughing - it was HYSTERICAL. I managed to end up with only a few broken ribs and the bowl of jelly over my head, but when I slipped on the banana skin, I had to be very careful not to land on my laptop. I mean, it could have been IRREPARABLY DAMAGED! Blogging during training should not be allowed!"
Yet another reader was just getting ready to whip some brandied cream for some jam tarts while following a recipe from a favourite cookery book and at the same time reading her favourite news website.
"However, I became so distracted by the [website name suppressed for security reasons] that I ended up whipping the cookery book and placing it in the fridge, and taking the tarts and putting them back on the shelves. I mean, a commenter on that website left a link that was just HILARIOUS! It was only much later that I discovered my mistake, and had to start all over again! How silly of me!"
Nor is this all. Other readers write in with terrifying stories involving the making of apple strudel, the creation of noodles, the preparation of a quiche, or even the seemingly innocuous combination of people sipping egg-nog while clicking through their favourite links.

Please, readers: take heed of the advice given to me once when I confessed to my culinary habits on a favourite website.
"Tim, serves you right for masticating in front of the computer. It's a filthy habit."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Quite, Unquite

Optional Voting Is Compulsory

One of my Vibewire blog friends has just put a hilarious entry in for the Google Idol competition with her sister. Go ye hither, watch, vote, and vote high!

For Your Awfully Wedded Life

A good friend of mine is getting married in Sydney at the end of next month, so I'll be flying up for the weekend. What's up, Sydnesiders? I hear you've got this opera house thingy going on, right?

Caption, my Caption

Competition here.

Acton Action

A Menage a Plus.

Real Hippies Use Commas, Dude

Q: What do you do when you see a space man?
A: Park in it, dude!

Monday, September 25, 2006

One Sunday Morning, There Was a Beatnik In My Awning ...


Dear Folk Music,

Well, damn, I've offended you already. Folk Music, why do you have to be so freaking touchy?

It's this new crowd you're hanging out with, I can tell; all layabouts and lollygaggers who drift in and out of Readings and never buy anything. I don't think these effete little fuckers even eat, just, you know, ingest rose petals in a sensitive manner and inhale the droppings of Albanian butterflies for drinks. How the heck did you start hanging out with this whey-faced bunch of wankers, anyway, Folk Music?

Oh, don't look so bloody hurt. Remember the old days? Yeah, I'll bet you do. Let me take you back, Folk Music ... back to when it all began ...


Ah, the 19th century: time of vast social change, of democratic ferment, time of an revolution and evolution, of a surging economy and industrial progress, of national and international unrest! It was then that we discovered you: remember that? You were a sturdy fellow then, Folk Music, a likely musical genre if ever there was one, known to every lusty swain and rosy-lipped maiden in the countryside! Muscular peasants sang your praises while planting juicy turnips in their fertile land, and fat-breasted washerwomen carolled your name all over the land as they flapped out lily-white blankets by a babbling brook! Pearlly-eyed first mothers rocked their red-cheeked babes as they crooned your lullabies, and one old Welsh fellow called Smith whistled for you as he cheerfully slung his shovel over his shoulder and went to dig a hole in the garden for his master! Those were happy, optimistic, forward looking days, were they not, Folk Music? Oh, don't look that way!


Then you started going all weird, Folk Music. You started to hang out with wild-eyed men in tweed jackets who liked to carry around newfangled machines around with them in meadows. I don't know what the hell these weirdos were on, but I heard rumours that one of them was into revolution. Another was into spanking. They waved their arms about a lot when they talked and raved on and on about how they 'discovered' you and how you were the 'true voice of the people'.
What the hell were you thinking, Folk Music? At the time I thought it was just because they flattered you. Whatever, I said to myself - Folk Music will be back to its old ways soon enough.
But pretty soon, you started appearing in all the latest symphony orchestras and phonographs and bald-pated beglassed professors bustled around in buildings in Budapest and Rome and Berlin and talked wheezily about. I just couldn't understand you any more. So you and I decided to go our separate ways.


Next time I saw you, Folk Music, was sometime in the 60s or 70s. Oh, you'd given up all those fire-eyed socialists and wheezy old professors you told me. And none too soon, I thought to myself. I hated to admit it, Folk Music, but it was good to see you again after all of these years. Pretty soon, after a few quenching glasses of ale, we got to talking about the good times - and we did have some good times together, after all, didn't we, Folk Music?
And then - I saw them. Those - things. Those people that you had started to hang around with now. They were a disreputable bunch if ever I saw them: Flower Children, Beatniks, Bohemians - just Low-Down-NO-GOODNIKS! And the way they treated you, Folk Music! The idea they had was to dress you up in a brightly coloured costume with a little dwarf hat, give you a weird instrument, like a crumhorn or a bagpipe (maybe with some pot in it), and get you up on stage to perform. They loved it! And I hated it. And at some point, one of them even got you to start singing in Celtic - as if it was some kind of circus trick - and the crowd went wild! You were being used, Folk Music - can't you see that now? Made to perform like a caged animal! I left that place in tears, then: what had happened to my old friend?


I need hardly tell you what a mistake it was, in the late 70s or early 80s, it was to take it up with those country music singers. You can see it now, I'm sure. Oh, they warbled on with their fiddles and dobros and steel guitars about how we should 'treat one another right' and 'home values' and the like, but when they got down to it, they were just a bunch of yokels who liked to get drunk on cheap Budweiser and to bong one another on the head with banjos.

A good thing you left them, Folk Music. Shows you still had some of that common sense about you.


What the hell happened to you, Folk Music? You used to like lying around in fields all day and humming to yourself; now you're always singing about politics and the revolution and betrayal, man. (I blame that bastard Billy Bragg, and Bob-Fucking-Dylan, you've never been the same since you hung out with them.) You used to be about stories and ballads and rhymes; now you're always whingeing about touching emotional issues and evanescent sensations and dewdrops on the tips of pink snapdragons in a field full of clover and sunbeams. Fucking hell!

You've changed, man!


Brush yourself up, Folk Music. Get out of that kaftan. Get away from all those dozy hippies-turned-yuppies, and yuppies-turned-hippy. And get that fucking flower out of your hair!

Yours regretfully,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Breaking News: Laughing Man Laughs

Tom Byrnes, of Brisbane, hasn't stopped laughing for four years!

'I just can't stop laughing!' laughed Tom Byrnes.
'And when I try to stop laughing, the effects are so laughable that I laugh some more,' says Byrnes, laughingly. 'It's quite painful, really.'
Byrnes started laughing when someone told him a joke that was so unfunny that he 'just had to start laughing.'
'It went something like this,' chuckles Byrnes, 'What kind of printer does a pig use? I don't know, what kind of printer does a pig use. An oinkjet! I mean, it's TERRIBLE!' he roars.
'It starts off in the morning with a giggle,' giggles Byrnes. 'Then it gradually turns into a chuckle, and then a chortle, and then a few hours of snorting until, by lunch, it breaks into a full-blown guffaw. I continue guffawing for a few guffaws - sorry, a few hours - until I'm all guffawed out; by which time, it turns into more of an exhausted cackle.'
'I get very little sleep,' he sniggers, 'because of the constant jitter of tittering that clatters from my mouth at night. It's really quite exhausting,' titters Byrnes.

Byrnes condition has had a serious impact on his life.
'First I lost my job,' laughs Byrnes. 'I was laughing so much that my workmates thought I was laughing at them. Then they thought I was laughing at the customers.'
'Pretty serious stuff, really,' he sniggers, 'Considering I worked in the social services. So eventually,' he continues, snickeringly, 'The boss called me into the office and said, "You're fired."'
'That was a real blow to me,' he laughs.
'Then my wife and children left me,' laughs Byrnes. 'They didn't find my laughing laughable at all.' He continues.
'Now I laugh all alone. If I didn't laugh, I'd cry,' laughs Byrnes hysterically.

Eventually, doctors had to come to the house of the laughing Mr Byrnes, and take him, still laughing, to the hospital.
They managed to put Mr Byrnes asleep several times, but as soon as he woke up, he started laughing again.
'They were very trying times, in the hospital,' laughs Byrnes. 'I managed to get some sleep, but then all of a sudden, I'd teehee so loudly that I'd wake myself up.'
'It was terrible,' he laughs. 'I laughed so much that all the other patients started laughing. Whenever a doctor would come into the room, they'd be so scared by all the other laughing patients, that they couldn't work.' Byrnes goes on, laughing.

Before long, Byrnes laughed his way out of hospital and had to go home.

'It hurts so much,' laughs Byrnes 'I don't think I can go on much longer.'
'I find it hard to breathe sometimes,' he hoots.
'It's torture. Pure torture!' he convulses. 'Please kill me now!'
'I just wish someone would send me to the 'LAUGHTERLIFE'' he laughs. 'Ha! That joke was so funny, that I almost forgot to laugh!'

However, Dr Mogle Unkleberry, of the Dusseldorf Institute for Research Into Psychological Responses To Comedy, says about laughter, 'Laughter is a physiological response to a small shock or surprise, stimulated by an enzyme in the brain.'

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Style in the While of S J Perelman

Hack To The Future
(Being A Piece Written In The Style of S J Perelman)


As is my wont, the other morning I unfolded my copy of The Melbourne Age, a paper which I never buy but always read, as was the style at the time that the style at the time was considered stylish. Turning to the third page, my undiscerning eye immediately undiscerned the following sepulchral lines:

"Our Prime Minister, John Howard, is taking the country back to the 1950s."

I looked up briefly in what was supposed to be a glance of horror, but instead, I found myself gazing out the window. Outside, the world was quietly slipping out of the present day, and spinning, like a fanatic whirligig, forward into the previous years that had made up 2005, 2004, and 2003. There was a dull sonic boom as it slipped past the end of the preceding millenium. So it was true! Frantic now, with the 1980s and 70s whipping past me like fantastic phantoms of futurity, (or whatever it was that Shelley was on about), I immediately flipped to the following page of The Age, and found the columnist bemoaning in moribund tones,

"John Howard has taken this country back to the 1950s."

A mortuary hush and funereal gloom descended over the world as it locked into its position, some 50 years prior to the present date. Colour, light, and life were steadily ebbing away from the world; the noirish black-and-white tones of the '50s held the entirety of existence in its fatal grip. Beeping like a wabe (I have no idea what wabes are, but evidently they beep), I flicked to page 7 and immediately began weeping like a baby. Another of the regular hierophants for The Age informed us, despairingly, in the leaden tones of truth, that

"John Howard has turned Australia into 1950s America."

I did not doubt the factual accuracy of The Age anymore - that is, any more than I would doubt the actual vacuity of The Herald Sun. (But that, of course, is another story (to be told on page 32 of The Age.)) I immediately besuited myself in a hat and rushed outside, forgetting for the time being to besuit myself in anything else.


To the east, the spectre of Communism lurked ominously; to the west, the shadow of Mcarthyism irked luminously. Then Mrs Mcarthy told Mr Mcarthy to turn the lights off and come to bed, and the spectre of communism stomped off to get some tea.
Somewhere, in the obscure cinemas of the north, came the sound of Greta Garboing and Humphrey doing his Bogart. A producer preached the Marilyn Monroe doctrine to hushed audiences, and in the wastes of San Francisco, a lone, loincloth-clad hierophant brandished his Brando. I hurried onwards, looking around me, gathering my bearings. My unerring instinct to become lost immediately told me that I was in New York. New York, New York, such a wonderful place - and I didn't even have to shell out for plane tickets!
A gleam came to my eye as I formed a plan: since I had arrived, thanks to the wiles of Australia's current Prime Minister, in the glory that was 1950's New York, what better thing to do than to pay a visit to S J Perelman, famed theatrical scribe for The New Yorker, then at the height of his powers, at the apex of his fame, at the cusp of his crux? It was an excellent suggestion, even if I did say so myself. I turned a few alleys, and eventually came to Perelman's house, a modest cabin on a little known state-line held between the state of New York and the state California. There sat Perelman, singing a Broadway tune softly to himself, caressing a delicate comic feuilleton about a little known journal, the 'Vacuum Cleaners of Pennsylvania Quarterly', out of his typewriter . "Sidney, old friend," I sang out, in the cheerful tones of recognition I reserve only for old friends who I have never met or heard of before or avouched enemies, "How goes it with you?"
Turning to me then, he roared out, "Ah, Groucho - is that you? It has been so long since we met so very little time ago!"
He left me to nut that one out, and turning back to his typewriter, he stroked out a short volume of songs for an Opera Buffa he was planning to appear in Broadway, or simply to appear in (whichever came first).
"But Sidney!" I cried. "Don't you remember me? I've read all of your odes, and even more of your plays!"
"It ain't me you're looking for, sweetie," he sang out with carefree abandon, "I think you'll find that Ingmar has the ham rolls, and Laurence has the martinis!"
Our friendship firmly cemented now, Perelman flicked off a final few tomes of travel memoirs to various unlikely locations from his typewriter, and scattering the volumes with a careless swoop of his hand, he turned and invited me to repair to a absinthe-and-asbestos bar in the east of the city. "Me, Jimmy Thurber, and Melvin Brooks, see, we've got a little soiree arranged," he cried, "And you seem like just the man of discernement to make up the quartet. They say that duo is company and trio is a crowd; well, boyo, with a few violins and a cello, our quartet could conquer the world!"
I agreed to this suggestion forthwith, and thus we two sauntered forth into the streets of Manhattan, which happen to have located themselves very conveniently for such sauntering (I shall never forget that one dreadful time in Morocco when this was not the case.)


Many minutes and even more hours passed, wafted on zephyrs of song and absinthe. Recitations were recited, and Thurber regaled us with worldly wisdom he had gleaned from his beagles. I shall never forget the moment when Perelman turned to me, eyes shining, grasped my hands and clasped his own hands together, and cried, "My boy - you are a true artist! You will go far!"
"You really think so?" I queried.
"Yes - as far as the bar. It's your turn to buy the drinks," he said. "And don't forget to lay on the asbestos - my drink has to have that zest, that zip, that zounds!"
"Zertainly," I replied, and staggered from my bar stool to the floor, located, quite conveniently, right next to my face. At one point, I seem to recall (or at least the absinthe seems to recall, the memories for me are a little more hazy) Perelman, Thurber and I paused for a photographer: Perelman struck a pose, Thurber stuck a posey of prose in his pockets, and I struck a nearby rose (that no-good flowernik had been leering at me all night).
But why dwell on the details? Nine absinthes later, I glanced at my watch (which has ceased to work since an unfortunate incident involving a camel in Shanghai in the 1980s), and deduced that it was time to leave. Bidding my farewells, I quit the bar, leaving Thurber and Perelman still at it; minutes later, I was back in my house. And not a moment too late, as it seemed our PM, John Howard, had already begun to take us back to the present day, and I had to scrabble to catch up.


The following morning I again took up a copy of The Melbourne Age, which happened to be so inconveniently close at hand, hoping to be taken on another vacation, this time, perhaps, to be swilling gin with Chesterton in late-19th century Essex, or sharing a tipple or ten of ale with the Ettrick Shepherd in Scotland, or similar. Unfortunately, my eye immediately fell upon these lines:

"John Howard is turning this country into a slag heap."

Ten hours later, I had swum up to the point of the slag heap; indeed, it took me several days to get the last of the slag out of my fingernails. That's the last time I'll ever trust a politician or a journalist - next time, I'm sticking with the more conventional forms of fiction, like the Oxford English Dictionary or similar; much safer.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thoughts on Fossils From One Who May Someday Be a Fossil

"But Max, you can't kill the actors - they're human beings!"
"They are? Have you ever eaten with one??!" - The Producers

Caz links to a story about scientists finding the 3 million year fossil of a 1-year-old baby, or a 1-year old fossil that's been dead for 3 million years - it's kind of confusing working out which is which.


I'm a little ambivalent about this story - it's nice that the kid is getting some recognition, but it would have been nice for the kid to grow up and enjoy the finest fruits of neolithic pre-civilisation, whatever they were.

Being a man, of course, I have something of a natural sympathy for the state of pre-civilisation; but it's pretty hard to know for sure what life was really like back then if you just watch the BBC documentaries about the time. All they seem to do is have a couple of actors in hairy suits, walking about a grassy plain*. There's probably a shot or two of them confronting a sabre-tooth tiger, then of them gathering nuts and berries, then there'll be a camera shot of a timeless sunset, then the show will end. (Timeless sunsets are excellent for filling in the extra couple of minutes at the end of the show) ...

The thing is, between one timeless sunset and the next, there must have been plenty of moments when these pre-civilised ape-men ended up not doing very much. They probably had more than enough time to evolve and discover those little irritating, niggling sensations and complexes that all humans hold in common - anger, obsession, and above all, an overwhelming sense of boredom. It's possible that it was boredom, more than anything else, that drove them from pre-civilisation to civilisation. (Though you can't really show this in a BBC documentary - it's just not possible.) After all, there's nothing better for staving off a sense of boredom than a nice civilised activity - like war, for instance. Or surfing the internet. Or analysing three million year old fossils. Or surfing the internet reading stories about scientists analysing three million year old fossils. Or ...

So it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg paradox really. If you're a neolithic human race, and you want to enjoy the fruits of cultivation, then first you're going to have to start cultivating fruit - or something.

Anyway, here's to my neolithic answers who got me where I am today. It's only a couple of thousands of kilometres away from where they started off in Africa, but still ...

*You always see actors apeing apes, but you hardly ever see apes acting like actors - which probably proves that apes have more sense.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Congratulations, It's An Appendix

A relative of one of the girls at work gave birth to an appendix today, and had a baby girl out as well. Or did I get that the long way around? She gave birth to a baby and had an appendix out. Whatever. But why should we discriminate between the two? I can see a beautiful future for this family, what with a growing baby girl and a healthy appendix to take care of ...

2007 - Appendix gets its first teeth, and says it's first word. Mumma! Mumma!

2008 - Appendix learns to walk, and starts to string words together.

2012 - Appendix goes to school and soon distinguishes itself as a fast learner.

2018 - Appendix attends a 'Little Olympics' and wins first prize on the hurdles.

In the eventuality that I ever father progeny of my own, I think I'll arrange to have a tonsilectomy when my wife delivers. That way, not only will I be near to her in the hospital, but I can also deliver a healthy pair of baby tonsils to cherish and take care of and love.

But remember, folks - an appendix or a pair of tonsils are for life. Not just for Christmas.

Quote of the Day

As invariably happens after one passes forty, the paper sagged open to the obituary page; I skimmed it quickly to make sure I wasn't listed, and then, having winnowed the theatrical, movie, and book gossip, began reading the paper as every enlightened coward does nowadays, back to front.
- S J Perelman, "Swindle Sheet with Bluebood Engrailed, Arrant Fibs Rampant"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Law for the Lawless

Guest post by Captain Blackheart

Buckle your swashes my scalliwag crew,
For I've TEN PIRATE COMMANDMENTS to impart unto you;
For though we be lawless, we must all do the same
To not blacken your Cap'n Blackheart's black name;
For though you may play at things most piratical,
Yes must learn these TEN PIRATE COMMANDMENTS - in language emphatic-al.


1. Rob from the rich, for they deserve it.

2. Rob from the poor even more than the rich, for as pirate-folk, we must be unfair to all.

3. The plank is your law! Obey the plank! Never question the plank!

4. All those who question the plank must WALK THE PLANK!

5. All those who question the walking of the plank by those who question the plank must WALK THE PLANK!

6. All those who question the walking of the plank by those who question the walking of the plank by those who question the plank must WALK THE PLANK!

7. All those who plank the questioning of walks by those who walk the planking of questions by ... errrgh, what was the question again? Ye scurvy dogs, ye get the idea!

8. DESTROY all who come in your way (but be nice about it).

9. Never forgo your duties to loot and plunder! I suggest starting your bloodthirsty rampage at a local school and working your way up (the kiddies will be only too happy to join in).

10. Be polite - for though ye be EVIL AND ROTTEN TO THE CORE, that doesn't mean you have to be nasty.

11. Arrrrgh! Being pirates, we are not bound by the law of numbers! All those who question the amount of piratical commandments here must WALK THE PLANK! (See 3, 4, and 5 above)

*There may be some of ye who have been learnin' in schools
May object to my stretching of grammatical rules;
Well, I say this to ye - the lawless DO NOT OBEY LAWS!
So be off with ye - afore I PLUNDER YOUR SHORES!

Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Physics Won By Andy's Mum

We have a winner

The world's most prestigious scientific prize, the Nobel Prize for Physical and Chemical Research, has this year been won by Andy's Mum.
The prize was granted to Andy's Mum for her groundbreaking research paper on the gases Neon, Helium, and Argon, 'They're Not Inert, They're Just Lazy', and the follow up paper 'Nobel Gases? Ha! They haven't even done their homework!' Both papers were published in Nature magazine.

Andy's Mum.

About Andy's Mum

Working out of a small laboratory at the back of her house for years, Andy's Mum achieved dramatic results in the areas of quantum physics, classification of the elements, properties of lanthanides and actinides, and chemical valencies. She applied her patented techniques of 'Brush', 'broom', 'wooden spoon' and 'rolling pin' to the elements, with dramatic results!
Over the years, she has released a number of landmark papers, including 'Those Actinides Are Just BULLIES!', 'Argon needs a good clip around the ear!' and 'Titanium is a Good Little Element On It's Own, Really!'.

Amid growing international attention, A ndy's Mum created a new compound out of the elements Einsteinum and Plutonium, explaining afterwards that 'she thought they looked so NICE together!' She also developed a practicable form of nuclear fission by threatening several atoms with a wooden spoon.
Explaining her methodology later, she said, 'You have to be cruel to be kind', before going on to elaborate her complex theories about chemical valencies and the half-life of various isotopes.


In her speech, Andy's Mum said she was 'honoured to accept the Nobel prize'.
Afterwards she whipped up all of the audience a nice meal of hot chocolate (infused with plutonium) and banana-flavoured yellowcake.

On The Home Front

Andy's Dad had this to say about the achievements of his wife: "We're so proud of her. Now, are you going to stay for a cup of tea, and if so, would you please take your shoes off while you're in the house?"
Andy is reportedly 'happy' that his Mum has won the Nobel prize.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In This Workplace, We Obey The Law of Gravity

At work practicing my foot-dangling and head-lolling. *

Just noticed a coffee-stain on the ceiling.

WTF??? Did someone spill coffee in the wrong direction?

(*See our post on office ergonomics)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another Cosmopolitan Experience in This Multicultural City

Here you go, folks.
GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM: I needed to piss.

TIM: Oh.

GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM: I needed to piss so I went and pissed on the platform and the man asked me what I was doing.

TIM: Right.

GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM: I needed to piss.

TIM: Okay then.

GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM: So I went over there.

TIM: Fair enough.

GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM: The man told me there was a toilet up there but I couldn't because if had a piss up there it would have all burst out (making an eloquent gesture with her hands) so I pissed on the platform.

TIM: Very sensible of you. (Edging away)

GIRL ON TRAIN PLATFORM NOW SEVERAL METRES AWAY: If you want to piss you can piss over there too.
Right then. She was nice enough to share that story with me.

So now, I am sharing it with you.

A Defence of Doctor Who

Catherine Deveny writes an entertaining occasional column for The Age, mostly about television. This weekend, her column on Doctor Who contained some rather alarming misconceptions about the Sci-Fi genre as a whole -
When I watch shows involving spaceships and aliens I spend the entire time asking, "Where is Vecton Sector Five?""What does that blue crystal do?" "Is that alien now the woman that he just ate?".
etc, etc, etc. Anyway, I thought that as a matter of urgency, I'd have to try to clear some of her misconceptions up. What follows is the text of an email I have just sent in to The Age regarding her column. Let's see, here's how it goes ...


G'day Catherine,

Right, I think it's time I cleared up some of your misconceptions and queries about SF. I can't claim to be a huge nerd, just a regular fan of the SF genre (though I'm definitely not so desperate as to watch Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica).
Okay, to get to some of your queries - I'm going to quote from your article:

1) "I kept asking, "Where is Vecton Sector Five?"

This one's easy. Vecton Sector Five is right down the road from Vecton Sector Four. Do they teach you to count at The Age? Just kidding ...*

2) "What does that blue crystal do?"

The blue crystal does WEIRD SHIT (tm). As a matter of fact, you could say that WEIRD SHIT (tm) is pretty much the function of all blue crystals; it doesn't really matter what *specific* category of blue crystal it is; in all cases, it will do WEIRD SHIT (tm).
If you wonder why blue crystals do WEIRD SHIT (tm), then I would refer you to any Advanced Science Fiction text re: dramatic tension. WEIRD SHIT (tm) adds to the dramatic tension, you see. It's a well-known science-fictional fact.

3. "Is that alien now the woman that he just ate?"


4. "... Monkey (I'll give a million bucks to anyone who can explain that show to me.)"

Monkey is a show about a Monkey and a Pig and a Buddhist Priest and some other dude who I forget now who go for a long walk. They meet lots of people and have lots of adventures. The End.
Not much more to explain about the show, really. Incidentally, I read the Monkey book once, and it's highly recommended (the book, that is, not necessarily the version of it that I read). Helps give you an idea of the Chinese/Buddhist folk-tale context.

5. "What's his [the Doctors] real name?"

Doctor Who's real name is not known because he is a Man of Mystery. I refer you to my comments re: Dramatic tension and WEIRD SHIT (tm) in 2) (above).
And I'll thank you to not be so speciest: the Doctor, as we know, is not even human - he comes from Gallifrey - and for all we know, one of the longstanding practices of Gallifreyans may be not to name their young. It may seem strange and a little bit goofy to us humanoids, but who are we to cast our terran-based prejudices on the rest of the universe? Has multiculturalism TAUGHT YOU NOTHING? Excuse me.

6. "Why is his [the Doctor's] scarf so long"?

It is a phallic symbol of his masculine prowess.

7. "How come when the doctor changes he never turns out to be a short mean hairy Asian woman with calipers?"

See 6) above, re: masculine prowess. Anyway, it's the Doctor's personal choice. If he wants to indulge in a bit of transgender regeneration, that's up to him. It would be appallingly insensitive of us to cast our expectations upon him like that.

That's about all for now - I hope this has helped to clear up any misconceptions you may have had. Also - and just to show you how much of a nerd I really am - I think I'll blog this (

Good day to you,
Tim Train, Coburg, Australia.

PS Stop writing for The Age - all they ever seem to do is churn out socialist claptrap. Go for the Herald Sun, they're much more amusing.

*Reading over my email now, I think this joke was a little nasty, but Deveny seems like she has a good sense of humour. The things nerds do with words in the heat of the moment ...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

La Femme, La Gun, La Petit Kitten

How things have changed: some 50 years ago, this item, (quoted in an essay by S J Perelman) appeared in 'Glamour' magazine as a set of suggestions by which a young lady could brighten up her apartment during winter.

1. Invest in eight small white pots of ivy to range on your window-sills. 2. Paint a gaily fringed rug on a wooden floor. 3. Rent an original picture from a painting rental library (Between $2 and $35 will let you live with a masterpiece for two months.) 4. Put a bowl of glittering goldfish on your coffee-table. 5. Partition a room with fish-net running on a ceiling track. 6. Get a kitten. 7. Cover your loose cushions with polka-dot cotton - perhaps white dots on black, black dots on white - variously sized and spaced. 8. Get a mobile to grace your room with motion - or better, make one yourself. 9. Slip cover your couch in dark denim - navy, brown, or charcoal, maybe - depending on your colour scheme. 10. If your living-room walls are plain - on a Sunday, wallpaper just one wall. 11. Give houseroom to a tree in a big wooden tub. 12. Paste golden notary seals in an all-over design on your white window shades. 13. Wallpaper the insides of your cabinets and drawers with a flower print. 14. Have a favourite drawing photostated up as big as they'll make it; then hang it on your wall. 15. Forget polishing for ever and spray all your metal surfaces with a new plastic preservative. 16. Buy a new shower curtain - and make it SILLY. 17. Make a new table-cloth out of irresistible cotton yard goods. 18. Draw outline pictures of your kitchen utensils on the wall right where each should hang. 19. Dye your mother's white damask table-cloths in brilliant shades. If they're huge, cut the surplus up into squares and hem them for napkins. 20. Put silk fringe along the bottoms of window shades. 21. Get yards of fake leopard skin to throw over your studio couch. 22. Make a cork bulletin board. 23. Cover your lampshades in wallpaper to match your papered walls. 24. Find some cutlery boxes of keep your jewellery lucid in the drawers. 25. Invest in flowered china or glass door-knobs.

For the modern girl, it seems, guns are more the thing:

" Hi, I'm Joan Collins, and when I rob the occasional drug store, I use Lady's Weapons by Antonio Reillo".

It has always been said that if women ran the world, there would be no violence or war. Well, there may be violence, but it would be much prettier if these hot little weapons were used. From Leopard print guns to heart lined hand grenades, this retro line from Antonio Riello makes shooting someone a classy affair. As part of an exhibition staged in 1988, Reillo created these weapons and named them after key women in his life . From Svetlana to Nathalie, these pieces are created from the heart. Watch for Paris Hilton to be sporting one of these elite accessories should she sink low enough to hold up the local Beverly Hills 7-11. We don't think it'll be much longer.

Some of Antonio Reillo's guns:

I wouldn't be surprised if the discerning modern gangstress would blanch at the thought of combining those pink guns with the fake-leopard print. But interestingly, there is some possibility of combing old ways and new ways here. For instance, the gun-owning gangstress could wallpaper the axe in floral print - or line the edges of her guns with silk - or slip cover her holster's in dark denim - or draw outlines of her weapons on the kitchen wall right next to where each should hang - or given her kitten a heart-lined hand grenade to play with - or take the pink gun and use the bowl of glittering goldfish for ...

(Hat tip to - who else? - Caz)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Duck

They don't make men like that duck any more.

Apropros of Nothing ...

A Song for Vegetarians

O give me a home
Where the wild tofus roam
And the quiche and the soya beans play;
Amongst the gathering herds
Of young mung bean curds
And where porridge is raining all day.

Where grizzly camemberts
Lurk in dark frigidaires
And the Llaska soup howls from the pan;
With the alfalfa hordes,
And the psychopath gourds -
Ah fuck it, I'll have bacon instead.

The Platonic Couch Meets Reality Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source couch [kouch or, for 6, 14, kooch] Pronunciation Key

1. a piece of furniture for seating from two to four people, typically in the form of a bench with a back, sometimes having an armrest at one or each end, and partly or wholly upholstered and often fitted with springs, tailored cushions, skirts, etc.; sofa.
2. a similar article of furniture, with a headrest at one end, on which some patients of psychiatrists or psychoanalysts lie while undergoing treatment.
3. a bed or other place of rest; a lounge; any place used for repose.
4. the lair of a wild beast.

The Platonic Couch

Long enough so that a person at full stretch may fit upon it, not so long that there are centimetres between their feet and the edge of the couch.

Is not coloured white.

Is constructed parallel to the ground, so that a person neither slides off nor slides in to the couch while enjoying it.

Is whole in and of itself.

Has pillows.

Never attracts crumbs or dust and therefore never has to be cleaned.

Is charitable: never eats coins.

The Real Couch

Short enough so that a person will have their feet dangle over the edge.

Is often white.

Contains dangerous angles that threaten to unceremoniously dump the person into odd corners of the room - or even swallow them whole.

Often combines with ungainly 'fold out beds' that may suddenly and viciously attack those enjoying its spaciousness by either snapping out or collapsing in on itself, like a black hole.

Does not have pillows; or, if it does, they are pillows of the crocheted and embroidered kind that can not be lain on.

Attracts so many crumbs that it becomes more like a biological enclave of dust mites than a couch.

Exacts a toll: eats coins.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lost in Thailand ...

M. was visiting the Jetstar site at work the other week, looking at prices for trips to Thailand. Conversation went something like this:

TIM: Thailand, eh? I'd like to go to Thailand too.

M: Really? Thinking of taking a trip?

TIM: No, I need to buy some bow ties.

M: Um ...

TIM: I figure I can get some of those at Tie-Land.

M: Jeeze, Tim, you're ...

TIM: Incorrigible? Yes, incorrigible is the word I like to use about me too. Yes, I am incorrigible. Thanks!

I wasn't lying about the tie bit though. I did want to get some bow ties. Partly out of a notion that bow ties are something that it would be good to own. And partly because I'll be going to a wedding in a month or two, so I'm going to have to do my best to look incorrigible. Also, I've always wanted to be an eccentric economist, and I need a few bow ties to pull that off. Indeed, for a person who is so demonstrably unstylish and unknowledgeable about matters fashion-wise, I have a strange and enduring obsession with bow ties and neck ties.

So off I went on my quest for neck wear. Incredibly hard things to find, too. I looked up and down Melbourne's CBD for a 'gentleman's outfitters', on the advice of my mother. There was nary a tie in sight, much less a bow tie. T-shirts seem to be more the thing these days, and coats and the like for the businessman sort. I even visited the Melbourne Hatters beneath Flinders Street station, but although I learned that I'd have to get my brother's head measured just above the ears if I wanted to buy him a top-hat for Christmas, I couldn't find a bow tie.

I finally found a tie store in one of the arcades of Collins Street (there was a specialist sock store up the other end). It was sitting in the corner, easy not to notice when you went in the arcade. I actually did a full circuit before I spotted it. For a place specialising in men's garments, it was rather ... multicoloured. Grey's more the thing, I always thought. Anyway, got two bow ties there, one a simple black, the other a greyish tone with regular cross-hatch decoration on it. (I really wanted an eccentric-looking one with spots on it.)

When I got these at the counter, I spotted a couple of pink neck-ties on sale.

TIM: Do blokes really buy those things?

STORE LADY: Oh yes, they're very popular.

TIM: Hmmm ... goes with the pink shirts, I guess.

STORE LADY: I stay away from those guys, myself.

Pink ties? There's no accounting for taste. Bow ties, on the other hand, are eminently stylish. Well worth my Saturday explorations. Now, if I can just figure out how to tie the damn things ...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fair and Balanced

In the interests of a fair and balanced discussion, I bring you two noted political commentators from different sides of the political spectrum ...

I hope you've all learnt something.

What I'm Reading

Got some good books on the go at the moment.

The Innocence of Father Brown

This one's by Chesterton. It's brilliantly written, almost every line is a one-liner, as you can tell from the quote below. Chesterton was a bit like the romantics, except where the romantics set gigantic emotional dramas in a rural landscape, Chesterton liked to do the same thing in the town or the city. Maybe it's the fusion of romantic writing, busy city scenery, and perceptive one-liners that makes the writing so attractive:
The street they threaded was so narrow and shut in by shadows that when they came out unexpectedly into the void common and vast sky they were startled to find the evening still so light and clear. A perfect dome of peacock-green sank into gold amid the blackening trees and the dark violet distances. The glowing green tint was just deep enough to pick out in points of crystal one or two stars. All that was left of the daylight lay in a golden glitter across the edge of Hampstead and that popular hollow which is called the Vale of Health. The holiday-makers who roam the region had not wholly dispersed: a few couples sat shapelessly on the benches; and here and there a distant girl still shrieked in one of the swings. The glory of heaven deepened and darkened around the sublime vulgarity of man; and standing on the slope and looking across the valley, Valentin beheld the thing which he sought.
The writing drops off in the later chapters - that's one of Chesterton's failings; he just doesn't have the staying power of other writers.

Creme de la Phlegm

This is a collection of well-written bad reviews from the pages of Australian publications over the last 50 years. It's already scored some reviews, and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed. I was expecting unrelenting critical bile, but the tone of many of the reviews is quite moderate. Anyway, it's great to see an anthology of articles and columns from newspapers and magazines for once - you can find some of Australia's best literary moments in there, like, for instance, A. D. Hope's hilarious take down of Patrick White. Margaret Olley, who as far as I know does nice pictures of fruit, gets a great review written about her: "The drawings by Margaret Olley at the Macquarie Gallerys in Sydney are not distinguished by great subtlety of mind or execution." And I love the review of a rock'n'roll concert from Nation:
Many people became aware of the Rock through a tune called "Rock Around the Clock", a bowdlerised version of an old song describing the details of a sexual encounter in chronological sequence. Bill Halley and his Comets, whose rendition of this tune was used as background music to the film Blackboard Jungle, did not hold their popularity for long. Paradoxically, this was probably due to their competent musicianship, though they tried to disguise it by playing their instruments in unorthodox fashions. The pianist scorned a stool, the bass-player preferred to straddle his instrument, and the saxophonist, though far from lethargic, lay on his back and pointed his horn at the ceiling.
All quite true, but his conclusion - 'the whole art is to keep an essentially repetitive and monotonous noise from becoming boring. It's doubtful how long they can keep it up' - seems, from the perspective of forty-something years, a bit dubious.
Also reading The Vivisector and Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs, but I've only just started the one, and in the second, the one-liners are all ten lines long. So I'm done for now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Important News!

Breakthrough Research!
The phrase 'Put a sock in it, you fruit', can be easily mispronounced as 'Put a suit in it, you frock!' according to researchers at the Quantum Institute for Mispronounciation (or QIM).
'Not only that,' said Professor A. Peter Enus, announcing the results of several months of scientific study into the phrase yesterday, 'But there is also strong evidence to support the hypothesis that the phrase 'Put a sock in it, you fruit', can be further mispronounced as 'Put a root in it, you fox', 'Suck a rock in it, you fits', and even 'Fuck a sock in it, you prude.'

However, questions have been raised about the quality of Professor Enus's research by Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik at the University of Higher Scatology of Virginia.
'It's not very well known,' says Sir Nisenkwik, 'But my learned colleague Professor A. Peter Enus's name can be mispronounced as 'E. Peter Anus', 'E. Anus Peter', 'Pee', Anus Eater', or even 'A Penus Eater.' I'm sure you will agree with me that this casts the gravest doubts on the validity of research or otherwise on offer by QIM.

Not Fair
Upon being made aware of these claims, Professor Enus protested that this attack was 'Just not fair.'
'I mean, Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik should know that it's impossible for me to make fun of the name 'Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik'. So for Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik to make fun of my name like that, well, Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik just isn't being sporting. I mean, what am I going to call Sir Fukkmibum Nisenkwik, really? 'Sir Suckmythumb Nice and Quick?' The quality of mispronounciation in such an insult is really quite appalling!'

The QIM have also released some preliminary papers detailing research into the phrases "Dreich my stocks", "Muck the freak", "Fuzzy ducks and ducky fuzz,"and "You pratty Kent!"

(More in Opinion on p. 73)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some Of The Lesser Known Sequels To Mein Kampf

Sadly, Hitler was never able to repeat his early literary success, and eventually had to go into the world domination business to survive.

He failed.


Mein Kampf (The children's version, with brightly-coloured fold-out pictures!)

Mein Kampfing Experience in Der Bavarian Blackforest!

Smile, Hitler! (A Fascist Book of Funnies)

Mein Krampf - that I Got While Sieg Heiling Too Many Times! (A Fuhrer's Guide to Repetitive Strain Disorder)

Der Fast Und Der Fuhrer-ious (Fun und Games on der Autobahn)

They Don't Call Me Adolf HAT-ler for Nussink!

When You're Sieg Heiling, Der Whole World Sieg Heils With You: Songs (Including, Heil and Der World Heils With You, Don't Fraun, Eva Braun, and I Love The Sound of Reichstag In The Morning)

Heinrich DIMmler, Josef BURBLES, and Albert BOERING: anecdotes from my time in office.

Mein (INCREDIBLY!!!) Kampf Friends in Dusseldorf!

The Fuhrer on Durer

The Ubermensch on Judi Dench

Obey The Lieder: More Songs (Including Deutschland, Deutschland, BOOBIE Aller!)

Oswald was a Measly Moseley Who Didn't Choose His Muesli Wisely (and other fascist tongue-twisters)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Important Announcement!

As of 5.42 pm, this blog has had 52920 visitors!

Now, 52920 might just seem like any random number to you. And you'd be right! There's nothing amazing about the number 52920 at all, apart from the fact that 52920 comes right after 52919 and 5 numbers before 52925. In fact, 52920 is so unremarkable that the only real claim to fame by 52920 is that 52920 when divided by 10 gives the number 5292!

Oh, we all stop to think about the round figures - 6000 or 1,000,000. We wipe tears from our eyes at the thought of numbers like 400 or 7000 or 200,000. But who will think of the 52920s? Or, for that matter, the 452s, the 4767347s, the 5439636s?

After all, it's 52920 and the numbers like it that keep our numerical system going!

Visitor 52920, I salute you!

What Does Google Know About Shakespeare?

A Conceptual Interview

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. - William Shakespeare, via Google

The facts are as follows: Shakespeare is a great English writer who has a lot to say about everything. He does not, however, have anything to say about Google. Google is a 21st-century, state-of-the-art search engine with everything to say about something. For that matter, it has a lot to say about other things, too. It certainly has something to say about Shakespeare. To find out what that something is, I've invited Google onto my blog for an interview.

TIM: Google, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

GOOGLE: Not a problem, Tim.

TIM: Google, what do you know about Shakespeare?

GOOGLE: That's an interesting question. Have you visited Explore Shakespeare with Google? The google blog also has a post about Shakespeare ... But what happens when you miss a dose of Shakespeare? And let Google direct you to the Amazing Web site of Shakespeare's Sonnets. By the way, let Google be the first to tell you that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare! Shakespeare was in fact Christopher Marlowe who was Francis Bacon, who was Edw...

TIM: Google! I can't understand what you're saying!

GOOGLE: I apologise. Google can't understand what Google's saying either, since Google is just a mechanical device devised by a group of mathematicians in order to be able to ...

TIM: Google, you seem to know a lot of facts about Shakespeare. How many of these facts are true?

GOOGLE: I'm glad you asked that. Did you know Google has about 74,700,000 pages on Shakespeare? Of these, the most popular is the website Also, there are about 21,600,000 pages under the title 'William Shakespeare', and 19 pages about 'Nicholas Shakespeare. ' Furthermore ...

TIM: Google! Stop! I'm beginning to doubt that you actually do *know* anything about Shakespeare at all!

GOOGLE: What is this 'doubt' you speak of?

TIM: Google, let's go to another subject. Google, what can you tell me about Google?

GOOGLE: Well ... (takes deep breath)

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Political Dilemma

(From here, and here.)
Outraged scientists stormed out of a government-sponsored climate change conference dinner in Canberra last night, after the strippers booked as entertainment left them all hot and bothered.

One attendee said many of those who walked out of the dinner at Old Parliament House were women.

"I honestly could not believe my eyes when a woman covered in balloons started prancing around as delirious male scientists popped them with a pin," the person, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an email to


However, shadow environment minister Anthony Albanese has since called for a government investigation.

"This is appalling and completely inappropriate and the Australian government should immediately investigate how on earth this occurred," Mr Albanese said this afternoon.


It has to be said that the question of strippers at government-sponsored conferences is a delicate one. On the one hand, there are those who feel that it is never appropriate. On the other hand, there are a number of people who feel that we can't have enough of it. Indeed, it is a political dilemma that may not be solved in our lifetimes.

I, personally, favour the voices of moderation and constraint: I feel that we can find a balance between, on the one hand, those who don't want to see any boobs at all, and those who would be happy if it was "all boob". Obviously, there must always be time at a government-funded conference to cover such topics of climate change; but I feel that there may also be some time set aside for gratuitous nudity.

However, it is only through continued dialogue and discussion, and just the occasional arse-and-tit show, that we can work towards such a time.

Should we see more of this woman at government-funded conferences, and if so, how much more?

UPDATE! - Take the poll!

How Much Tit is Appropriate at a Government Funded Conference?
None at all.
Some tit.
Equal amounts of tit and non tit.
All tit.
Free polls from

The Meme Scheme

Amperssand Duck has this meme on her blog, so I'll just lift it onto mine:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Doing this at work, and I have six books around me - all street directories, all quite useless for this task. Fortunately, I bought in 'The Innocence of Father Brown' to read on my break! The results:
'And now I come to think of it,' he cried, 'why in the name of madness shouldn't he be all right? What is it gets hold of a man on these cursed cold mountains? I think it's the black, brainless repetition; all these forests, and over all an ancient horror of unconsciousness. It's like the dream of an atheist.'

So there!

UPDATE! - For the record, here's a brief selection from p. 123 of the Queensland State Directory (Cities and Towns).
Joins Map 2
Worthington St
Kellet St
Amelia St
Hill Cr
Glenlyon Rd
South Gladstone
College of TAFE

Exciting, hmmn?

I Feel Like Radioactive Chicken Tonight

You know, some people like to listen to talkback radio for a pastime; I tend to come across it as part of my work. Not only talkback radio; also television shows and similar. Just the other day, we'd come across a Today Tonight item about chicken that glowed green. It was awesome; I didn't catch much of it, but I can just imagine how it would have went. They would have started off with quick soundbites of each of the people being interviewed, with creepy electronic music playing underneath, then cut to the reporter telling us how it all started, in the deep, accusing voice that tabloid reporters have ... you know the drill. I love that emotionally manipulative tabloid crap; if I'd seen it on the telly, I would have been having nightmares afterwards of being mobbed by radioactive chickens.

But mostly it's talkback radio we get to listen to. As a result, I've been building up quite a repertoire of radio announcers. And I feel that I can make an announcement about these announcers that will surprise no-one: commercial radio is the best. It's true, the ABC does do a good job, and the ABC presenters somehow manage to cover a ton of issues, but they're ridiculously boring. Give me a tabloid presenter any day.


Here in Melbourne, what have we got? Neil Mitchell. He's been presenting on 3AW mornings for ages. Neil Mitchell is crap; for a 'hard man', he tries way too hard to get his 'hard-man' image across, and he tends to mumble. Maybe the whiskers act like mufflers to his mouth, or have grown into his brain, or something.
Jon Faine does the morning show on the ABC. Faine is smart and intelligent and pisses me off. His voice is disturbingly high, he tends to talk over, lecture, or talk back to his talkback callers. He's also a smart arse who tries too hard to sound smart and intelligent. On the other hand, the backchat between Faine and Red Symons (another morning presenter) is worth listening to just to hear Faine get slapped down by Symons. And the other ABC presenter of note, Lindy Burns, is just ridiculous. A few weeks ago, she was getting all excited over this news story of a whole Victorian town being put on a diet. "Ooh, I love this story, it's just wonderful!" she enthused.

The best presenters are in Sydney. He might be the most racist and corrupt arsehole on radio, but Alan Jones also runs an entertaining radio show; he's right across the issues, eloquent, and able to deliver punchy opinion pieces on the spot. And I love hearing him shouting at Sydney local politicians, who really should know better than to go into politics. The thing about Jonesy is, it's rather disturbing how he can switch between manic neo-nazi mode and oh-so-moderate views. Ask him about water management: it's scary how much he knows about such a boring subject. And just the other week, I was listening to a segment where he agreed with a state Green politician. A whole interview of 'Oh yes, you're a dirty, tree-hugging hippy, and you're absolutely right!' I felt Alan Jones just didn't deliver on that particular occasion.

Mike Carlton and John Laws, both popular talkback jocks, are dicks. They're in love with the sound of their own voices. If they could pool their treacly tones into a bowl and lap it up for dinner, they would - they're just that egotistical.
But the best Sydney talkback presenter is Ray Hadley. This guy is awesome, he's got a really ocker personality and I don't really care if it is fake, it's a great act and makes for great radio. He also has a tasteless sense of humour, which, really, is the only sense of humour you should have.


The other thing about talkback radio is, they seem to have a thing for shows being presented by two dithering old guys. I can't understand why anyone would listen to this shit, it's usually just two old farts rambling on at one another for ten minutes, then bang, there goes the ad break or the music, or something. I mean, you could spend a more productive ten minutes being taught philosophy by your cat. Anything's better than listening to Stevenson and Burns, or Davies and Dick (where Davies is a dick and so is Dick), or even Carlton and Fitzsimons, or ... the list goes on.


After one-year-and-a-bit of hearing talkback radio as part of my job, I think I can safely say that I have learnt nothing, have been convinced of nothing, and have changed my mind on ... nothing. On the one hand, one of the strongest arguments for the privatising of the ABC is that smarmy bastard Jon Faine. But on the other hand, one of the strongest arguments against privatising the ABC would probably also be that smarmy bastard Jon Faine. Because then he might have to get another job and irritate a whole different set of people. Such is life.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jolly Penguin Jape

If you ever go to the bar and meet a penguin there, be careful. They're great company, and they can drink you under the table, but they tell the strangest jokes.

Vengeance of the Scaly Ones

Snakes on a Plane is a film about a plane with snakes on it. There was a little suspense at first, due to the lack of snakes and planes, but then the plane appeared, and the snakes came on shortly afterwards. Personally, I thought it was a little misleading to have the plane appear before the snakes when the snakes came before the plane in the title, but I guess in order to have some snakes, you have to have a plane to put them in.

As a film, Snakes on a Plane covers a diversity of subjects - all two of them - and deals with a variety of themes. There's lust (that bit where the snake comes across the couple in the toilet), violence (those bits where the snakes attack people), comedy (that bit when the snake attaches itself to another person's bit), romance (though that doesn't involve snakes, that is, unless you count ...) and death (those bits where people get bit). Dramatic tension is maintained over the film like when, for instance, the people move to another part of the plane and the snakes follow them but, like, they can't because they put a barrier up.

I have to say that, as far as films involving planes or snakes go, I quite enjoyed Snakes on a Plane, principally because it had both snakes and planes in it. However, I have just one minor quibble: the film should probably be titled 'Snakes in a Plane' rather than Snakes on a Plane, as in this film the snakes were in the plane much more than they were on it, and if the plane had snakes on it, then technically speaking, it wouldn't be much of a film as they'd all fall off.


- Not only are there snakes in a plane in the film, but there are also animals IN snakes in the plane, adding to the creative complexity and textual richness of the film!

- At a few points, there are also snakes IN people in the plane.

- Some headlines that could be used to describe scenes in this film: THE TWO-EYED TROUSER SNAKE, BOOTY AND THE BEAST, RAMPANT REPTILIAN ROGUES, VICIOUS VIPER GOES HYPER.

- No films were hurt in the snaking of this plane, although several snakes were filmed in the hurting of the plane.

- Apparently, the producers were originally going to make a film called Plakes on a Snane, but they couldn't find a snane, and the plakes were all on holiday, so bang goes that idea.

- I'm done!
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