Monday, April 30, 2007

Take That, Spenserian Stanza!

This is for Charles. Hopefully this will teach him to have a go at Spenser. Reading The Fairy Queen? He never had it so good (compared to this)...


Into a forest, dark, decayed -
Called "Wood You Cannot See For Trees" -
A wild waste (no light, all shade)
Came foorth doollefull DIOGENES,
(Munching on ham and Edam cheese.)
Behind him, on these gloomy ways
Follows the Dwarf MELODRAMATESE;
Before, a light which casts its rays
And glist'ring, seem to set the woods ablaze!

And nowe the dwarf tugs at his arm,
And now, with countenance most awful
Begs that his maister flee from harm,
Warns of a fate most grim and fearefull.
(His maister bids him to be chearfull).
They draw nigh to a dreary den:
The dwarf grows more aghast and tearfull:
"FLEE!" then he crieth, "This is MURDOCH'S DEN,
And those that lie within be ne Beasts, ne Men!"

Both peer into the griesly gloom,
While the dwarf cries out in shrieking tones,
With tales of impending doom,
And many horrifying groans,
And frankly irritating moans.
But deep withinne, they scry a beast
A-scrunching on some skulls and bones -
"FLEE!" cries the dwarf. "We've time, at least -
'Tis PHATARSEPHIL sate at his charnel feast!"

But closer still they draw and see
This dreadfull beast engorge its tail
In its north mouth, and out the south
Eftsoons disgorge it, without fail;
And round about, knights clad in mail
Do rush with swords and spiked-chains,
Its leathern hide for to assayle,
But all are crushed with cries of pain! -
God help those entrapped in foule Errours traine!

Then, eyes gleaming full of murd'rous hates
Does PHATARSEPHIL escry this payre
Stand, ghast and gaping, at its gaytes:
He reares up fierse into the ayre
For then to drag them into its layre:
But lo: DIOGENES forth thrusts his LIGHT
And its beames do spred forth everywhere,
And noble rayes of GOOD and RIGHT
Do spred forthe and conquer ERROUR'S night!

And in those glist'ring lantern beams
The BEAST itself doth fade away
Mid'st many corny squawks and screams:
DIOGENES and dwarf choose not to stay,
But ride foorth into the Lanterne's day,
Questing, questing, evermore
Through the darkling woodland ways
To bring the light of Life and Law,
To find the fabled, far-off Culture War...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Five Hundred Year Old Poetry For The Moment

I'm re-reading Spenser's The Fairy Queen at the moment, and it's been too long. His spelling makes even the simplest words wonderful:

made rowme
a gentle Husher (that is, an usher!)
gently grenning
fawning wordes
kist her wearie feet
The Lyon
whot (hot)
swolne encreace

At one point, he even puts the word 'gorgeous' in a line so that you have to pronounce every syllable, 'Gor-Ge-Ous'. It has a marvellous effect.

This afternoon I came across the following description of Gluttony:

And on his head an yvie girland had,
From under which fast trickled downe the sweat,
Still as he rode he somewhat still did eat,
And in his hand did beare a bouzing can,
Of which he supt so oft, that on his seat
His dronken corse he scarse upholden can...

Bouzing can? That's not Gluttony at all -

That's Norm!

From Yesterday's Weekend Australian Magazine

Clearly, a caption writer at The Australian doesn't like Phillip Adams...

No Ilk Bar In Sight

I had the good fortune today to walk down what you might call Little Saigon - it's the end of Victoria Street in Richmond that's packed full of Vietnamese restaurants, tobacco stores, and the like.

My intentions were wholly frivolous: I wanted to get a photograph of a store somewhere on Victoria Street with the sign ILK BAR, because I thought that was funny. (I am a guy of very little brain.) I didn't ever find the ILK BAR, but I did get some good photos anyway...

(On Flinders Street before I caught the tram. It's Melbourne's Oldest Hotel no longer...)

Chinois, anyone?

The store containing more than one Simon.

Buy what used to be the seat of power here!

Ironworks furniture, the only place to go to get an Iron Lounge - very comfy!

Come in and buy a sundried florist. Cheap and affordable!

Retrospective Furniture: all its legs break the day after the guarantee expires, making you say, 'Hmm. In retrospect, I should not have bought this furniture.'

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Disparaging Reviews of Everyday Objects

The Comic Mummy writes:
It freaks me out - even comics who are revered in the industry and in the public (and in my own mind) as brilliant, are subject to a panning by any old monkey who has access to a computer.

I guess that's just another difference between a public job and a 'civilian' one, for want of a better word. If you're a fireman, a lawyer or a dishwasher at the local pub, no matter how pitifully you perform your job, even if you're the worst insert-occupation-here who has ever lived in the entire history of the universe, chances are that nobody's going to bother investing time and energy into humiliating and bagging the hell out of you for it.

A review of my pen
I don't know what I expected when I first started using this pen, but whatever it was, it consistently failed to live up to expectations anyway. Sometimes it didn't write, sometimes it did write, and sometimes it wrote, but the ink had a watery tone. Then, one day, I took it on the train and it completely died, but not before leaking all over my pocket. Not only a poor performance, but rude also!

Quite frankly, I am repulsed by this pen.

A review of my flatmate's old couch
The 'old couch' genre has become a rather cliched one of late, but it is not without pleasures of its own. Let's face it, you don't expect much out of an old couch expect to be able to sink back into it like an old couch. (The metaphor says it all, really).
So why am I disappointed by this latest rendition of couch-ness?
One reason might be that it re-uses quite a few of the bad cliches from the tried-and-true couch genre, but none of the good ones. It swallows keys. It is dusty. It's pillows are 'lumpy'. The blanket draped upon it keeps falling down. It is uncomfortable to sit on (it is sloped, so that it gives you the impression when you lie on it that it is going to swallow you.) And when you do lie down upon it, not only your feet, but your legs as well dangle over the edge.
This couch even goes out of its way to exacarbate these problems. The middle pillow has teared back to reveal foam. The foam adds to the dust problems. The dark brown colour of the couch itself feels 'dusty'.
Finally, this couch has troubles unique in the annals of couch-dom. The gigantic pillow in the middle looks impressive and couch-like, but it is inconvenient to move. And the couch has an unpleasant, just-a-bit-too-warm effect when you lie upon it.

I do not like this couch.

A review of a sock of mine
Most socks have a large hole in the top for you to stick your foot in them. Some socks have a large hole in the top and a little hole in the bottom so your toe can go out to the other side. This sock has a large hole in the top, a medium-size hole in the bottom, and a large hole in the middle to intercept your foot as it travels on its way to the medium-size hole at the bottom.

It is a bad sock.

A review of the kitchen sink
Well, although I have seen several kitchen sinks perform in the past, I have to say that the performance of this particular kitchen sink befuddles me. I am not quite sure why this sink seems inadequate, other than a generally lacklustre performance of all the elements of its sink-hood. The hole in the kitchen bench is large enough - the metal, when plugged, holds adequate water, and associated item of cutlery - and the soap suds sit in the sink in a more-or-less comfortable fashion. Perhaps it is because the performance of this sink is so lacklustre overall. Its heart is not in it. You get the feeling that this sink wishes to be elsewhere, is unsatisfied with being a mere everyday object: does it have delusions of grandeur in objectdom? Does it see itself as a jerkin on the back of the poodle belonging to the King of Denmark? Or maybe it sees itself as a door knob to an important office on an impressive floor in an influential department in a sleek, shining black building in uptown Brussels?

It is as if this kitchen sink has already left us, taking everything except the kitchen sink.

Overall: disappointing.

A review of the battery sitting on my shelf
This is an ordinary battery, but the metal on it is roughed up and corrugated, making it difficult to put into a device. While any departure from the hackneyed 'Battery' school of art is welcome, this seems like mere gimmickry on the part of this battery. Perhaps it is meant to signifiy the moral decay of modern society, or the revolt of the workers in Russia? Whatever, the metaphor fails to connect. Also, it is hard to putt this object in an electrical device. It is an ersatz battery.

This battery is immoral, decadent, and it honestly disgusts me.

A review of a fence
The most interesting thing about this fence is that it has a hole in it. It is a very deflating fence.

A review of a bathroom mirror
As Liberace is to Rachmaninoff, so is this mirror to other bathroom mirrors. If on the off chance you were to see yourself in this bathroom mirror, you should refer yourself to a plastic surgeon or a priest, depending on your religion.

Pointless Epigrams on Various Bloggers

Mostly written on the tram.

Tim Blair
Doesn't care.

Is rarely late,
But like Priam*,
I am.

*I don't actually think Priam was late for anything important in his life, but I needed to get a rhyme somehow.

Ampersand Duck
Shows courage and pluck
And noble tenacity*
In her vim and veracity.

*Not to mention an astounding capacity
For sagacity.

Dr H. (first name, Lexicon)
Is recently Mexican.
She knows where she's at, man,
Her electorate's Batman.*

*Plus she has a neat flat, man,
And don't own a cat, man.

There is a bean,
A certain bean,
Whose mad exploits of derring do are known to King & Queen;
He's jolly keen,
This bean, I mean,
Whose name, in case you hadn't guessed, is Nottlesbean!

Of the internet
Inveighs against
At The Melbourne



Tony T
Drinks tea.

The redoubtable Dr Cat
Owns this and that
And can beat out a 10,000 word review of 10 volumes of books in 10 seconds flat.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blink And You'll Miss Her...

Rumour has it there's a blog brunch with Kate at Heide this Saturday!

Post For Broadway Geeks

Coming soon (as soon as I can persuade Eddie McGuire to send me the money, that is) - a comedy that only Broadway geeks living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne could understand!


It's got LAUGHTER!
(Enter Rich Woman, Followed by Richer Guy)

Anything you can build, I can build bigger;
Anything you can build, I can build bigger than you!

No you can't!

Yes I can!

No you can't!

Yes I can!

No you can't, no you can't...

(Pulls out Permission for Development from Council) YES I CAN!
Mansions or palaces,
Gigantic brick phalluses
That give workmen calluses
And spinal paralysis -
Anything you can build, I can build bigger;
Anything you can build, I can build bigger than you!

All right, you don't have to rub it in. Arsehole.

It's got ROMANCE!
(Enter Lecherous Young Man and The Object of His Lechery beneath the light of the silvery moon)

Oh, Murgatroyd! If I could only tell how much I lov...

It's Alice, mate. The names Alice.


I love to see you standing there,
With pearls and rubies in your hair,
With diamonds, gold and silver rings,
And lots of other expensive things,
Yes, amethysts in your necklace, too -
These things, Euphemia...


Whatever -
.... make me love you!

I looooooove everything about yooooooooooou
But most especially, chicky-babe, your Dolce and Gabbana shoe!

Oh! (Faints in his arms)

But most of all, my dear,
Behind all these embellishments -
The thing I love above all else
Is your Dad's inheritance!

(Snaps eyes open) Hey, arsehole - why don't you just marry him, if you love him so much?

Hey! That's a great idea! I'm off to lobby Mr Baillieu to get gay marriage legalised! (Dumps Object Of His Lechery, AKA Alice, on the ground)

Bastard! (Let's loose with a stream of homophobic invective)

Plus: TRAGEDY! (When someone's son turns out to be gay) and HIGH DRAMA at the bi-annual Box Hill Flower Arranging Finals!

Also coming up: FAR KEW (A romance between two eastern suburbs voters marooned in a Labor electorate), JEW KEW (alternate title: "Kvetch, Boy, Kvetch"), a comedy about two rich people of Orthodox Jewish descent buy a house next to a family who 'support the Palestinian cause'. PLUS: Hit Broadway favourite THE REDUCERS, reset in Kew - about a group of modernising left-wingers who join the Kew council in a bid to reduce the electricity bill of that suburb, and end up reducing it to TOTAL DARKNESS!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Television For Extremely Inattentive People



MAN: (Bursts into the President's office at the White House)



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Answering the Big Questions, Questioning the Big Answers

I got a packet of salt and vinegar chips the other day. Not Samboys, those things seem to have disappeared. Smith's Salt and Vinegar chips. I noticed that they were described as 'crinkle cut'. What is 'crinkle cut'? I opened the packet and they turned out to be ruffled. Since when did 'ruffled' chips start to be described as 'crinkle cut'? The names surely describe very different things.

Besides, anyone who knows anything about cast iron will know that these chips aren't crinkled, and they may not even be ruffled

- they're corrugated.

Incidentally, how come no-one ever sells ruffled/corrugated fried chips anymore?

And while I'm on the subject, people also have a habit of describing chips as 'crisps'. This is almost as bad as describing the milk bar/McDonalds variety as 'Fries' or 'French Fries', though none of these terms can live down to the execrable term 'Freedom Fries'.

This sort of thing would never have happened if Chicken Cackles were still around. But at least Toobs are making a resurgence.


- Salt and vinegar chips can be ruffled, but not crinkle cut.

- It's possible that they may make ruffled chips and corrugated iron at the same factory.

- 'Chips', not 'crisps'.

- And definitely not 'French Fries' or 'Freedom Fries'.

- What the hell happened to Samboys?

- Who was the scumbag who put Chicken Cackles out of business?

- Toobs are back!

- That is all.

I hope you've all learnt something from this. Thank you for your time.

This Is All Tony Blair's Fault

Via just about every Aussie blog in existence comes this story about a guy who burst into a London restaurant and chopped his dick off in front of the diners.
HORRIFIED diners watched in shock as a maniac sliced off his manhood in a crowded pizza restaurant.

The 35-year-old Pole burst into the Zizzi eaterie in central London and grabbed a knife from the kitchen.

He then leapt on a table and dropped his trousers as customers fled screaming.

A witness said: “There was blood everywhere. Everyone ran out of the place.”

Surgeons battling to save the severed willy tried to sew it back on in the first UK op of its kind.

Quick-thinking cops recovered the organ from the restaurant floor after subduing its crazed owner with CS gas.
Well, that's just typical, isn't it? Small business owners are just trying to make a going concern of their little restaurant, and some political agitator has to ruin it by indulging in some self-amputation as a performance art. And who pays for it all? The taxpayer, that's who! I don't know about you, but it's pretty bloody obvious to me that this is just symptomatic of the decline of education in modern times.

Not that I have any objections to people chopping off their dick in private. Obviously this is a delicate personal matter and can only be settled by thoughtful personal deliberation and/or discussion with an understanding partner. Just don't expect them to come running to me for help when they make a mistake!

UPDATE! Have you ever chopped your dick off? What was it like? Would you do it again? Feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and life experiences in comments. Go on, don't be shy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Latest Ultimate Question

So there's a discussion here about what's cuter, mice, puppies, or hedgehogs, but I'm not having any of that. Everyone knows when it comes to Ultimate Cuteness, the battle is between a little-known species of Australian ant and a four-legged duck.

So, what will it be? Leptogenys?

Or Stumpy?

Who is the cutest creature in the world?
Leptogenys, the ant
Stumpy, the four-legged duck
Well, fiddle-dee, I'm just overwhelmed by all this cuteness! I can't decide!
Free polls from

List Of Smitings

(NOTE: This list is incomplete)

The Seven Plagues of Egypt

The Four Mildly Irritating Influenzas of Akkadia

The Two Really Smelly Twins of Bethsherharazad

The Striking Down Of The Palestinians By Lightning

The Static Shock Jehosaphat got when he Picked His Nose on the Sabbath

The Smiting of the Philistines With Haeommorhoids and Mice

The Nine Pesky Puppies of Jerusalem

The Really Really Itchy Fleas of Shemorgazad

The Unfortunate Incident With Onan and the Superglue

The Fifteen Tedious Bureaucrats of Dormogon

The Two Boils of Baalam

Yikes! It's mice! There's a smitin' underway!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another Poem


(n) a pain in the arse.

I will but pass them sitting by,
But I shall hate them ' til I die.


When a fly dies, does it turn into a flew?

Nothing Could Be Finer Than a Cup of Old One-Liner in the Mo-o-o-o-orning...

Sky Movies just did a poll of the top one-liners, and these two guys linked to it. Unfortunately, the list is complete bollocks.

Number 9 in the list - 'Nice beaver! Thank you, I just got it stuffed!' - is all right, but isn't much more than a schoolyard joke.Number 7 - 'Is that hair gel?' - (from Something about Mary) isn't even a one-liner. And you have to wonder how exactly number 10 could get into a 'best of all time' list: 'When I met Mary I got that old-fashioned romantic feeling where I'd do anything to bone her' .

Kenneth Williams tops the list with 'Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!', which is pretty good, but Mel Brooks got in similar one liners, for instance: 'Let's face it! You can't Torquemada anything!' I also like a few of the one-liners Brooks gives the Sherrif of Rottingham in Men in Tights. He strides through the film, crying,

'You deer to steal a king's dare!'


'Struckley has locksed again!'

This habit he has of mixing up words is fun, but when Robin Hood bursts into a feast and begins wooing Maid Marian, he has a complete breakdown:

'Gah! It is ILLEGAL to kill a PIG in the king's FOREST, Locksley. Don't you know that?'

Now I think that's pretty funny, but then, that's just me. Anyway, why are we just going for movie one-liners? Some of the best come from plays and books. Lines from 'There's Something About Mary' remind me of Aristophanes at his least amusing -

'Another! Make it donkey shit this time!'

'Another, another! From a boy with lots of lovers. He says he likes them friction treated.'

(And Aristophanes at his least amusing is still hilarious.)

Aristophanes even has the honour of composing one of the longest one-liners in history. It's just one word long, or should I say it's just one long word. (And a warning: I'll be referring to this word a lot. I plan to make it a party trick. Yes, I am the death of every party.)


Wikipedia describes it thusly:
The gynecocracy of this play attempts to treat everyone equally. They create this dish so that they can serve one food that fits everyone's needs.
Ogden Nash has an engaging ability to make his one-liners rhyme:

Hark! It's midnight, children dear!
Duck! Here comes another year!

His poem 'The Middle' is so clever, but it fits in four short lines, and deserves to be quoted in full:

When I remember bygone days,
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born.

Of course, you expect one-liners to be pithy and terse, but sometimes (like the Aristophanes quote above) the joke lies in their length. This is a neat trick that some writers have, of packing a lot of detail into their writing while keeping the structure simple. P J O'Rourke does this:

Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing. For instance, the previous sentence was written at one o'clock this afternoon. It is now a quarter to four. I have spent the past two hours and forty-five minutes sorting my neckties by width, looking up the word paisley in three dictionaries, attempting to find the town of that name on The New York Times Atlas of the World map of Scotland, sorting my reference books by width, trying to get the bookcase to stop wobbling by stuffing a matchbook cover under its corner, dialing the telephone number on the matchbook cover to see if I should take computer courses at night, looking at the computer ads in the newspaper and deciding to buy a computer because writing seems to be difficult on my old Remington, reading an interesting article on sorghum farming in Uruguay that was in the newspaper next to the computer ads, cutting that and other interesting articles out of the newspaper, sorting - by width - all the interesting articles I've cut out of newspapers, fastening them neatly together with paper clips and making a very attractive paper-clip necklace and bracelet set, which I will present to my girlfriend as soon as she comes home from the three-hour low-impact aerobic workout that I made her go to so I could have some time alone to write.

S J Perelman does it as well, although in his case it's never quite certain where his one-liners are leading you to:

I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.

Even better:

I have Bright's disease and he has mine.

And what about the classics? Jane Austen, anybody?

* How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!

* We have been exceedingly busy ever since you went away. In the first place we have had to rejoice two or three times everyday at your having such very delightful weather for the whole of your journey...

* It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

* One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

(I quoted that last one on sufferance, but it is bloody funny.)
And of course, there is always this quote by Jack Handey:

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself. Basically, it's made up of two separate words — "mank" and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

So there.

(Post written by Tim in an attempt to get some infernally stupid melodies from 42nd Street out of his mind. What are your favourite one-liners, everyone?)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What the Queen Said About Robert Menzies

"I did but pass him standing by...

But he shall love me till he dies."

What a creep! He doesn't even know me!

Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, blow me!

Fashion Charade


... and Hosen.

Feys in the flora...

... and a flora Fedora.

The King who Would Be Man...

... and Crowned Zero.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Went To the Brothel, And All I Got Was This Lousy Condom

Rachy has a great link on her blog to a Herald Sun story about venturesome State Liberals MP Bruce Atkinson. (And Jeremy links to the same story covered by The Age.)
SENIOR Victorian government MPs have praised a Liberal backbencher who visited a gay sex club and witnessed dozens of men having sex to research high-risk sexual behaviour...

Mr Atkinson, who is married with three adult children, said he paid $15 to enter and was handed a single condom at the door.

"In the context of the behaviours in that venue, I think a single condom was inadequate," he said.

"I spent maybe five or 10 minutes in the venue; some of the venue is just a passive recreation area where alcohol is served, but there were sections which were available for sexual encounters and some of those horrified me.
He can't have been that horrified. As Rachy points out, Atkinson has also published books of erotic poetry, gathered petitions at the Sexpo, and spoken at pornographer's meetings of the Eros foundations. As a matter of fact, considering Atkinson's fondness for this sort of thing, I think there could be a lucrative business in it...

SEXTASM industries would like to offer State MPs a one-off, very affordable research tour of our pleasure houses During this tour, MPs will observe but not take part in twosomes, threesomes, quartets, pile-ons, sixty-niners, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal sex, Dutch sex, and just about any other kind of sex you can think of except for those that aren't legal. MPs will be handed a condom at the door in order to be able to observe but not take part in these activities at closer quarters. Intimate rooms are available for small parties of MPs to take part in discussion of policies and other related completely legal activities. Absolute privacy is assured unless MPs would like to discuss policies or perform other related completely legal activities with larger groups of people . Bring members of the opposite party along for a fun night out! Large groups welcome - return visits encouraged!
I dunno. Do you reckon they'll buy it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Further Questions Answered

Greetings. It's John Cludge here, the Assistant Chair of the Department of Emoticon Regulation (DER). I'd just like to take this little opportunity to respond to comments in the previous post.

Karen asks,
I never put noses in emoticons. What's the department's view on that?
I'm glad you asked this question, Karen. All our standard emoticons are filmed in a studio with live actors, and as a consequence, if they didn't have a nose, they might find themselves in some difficulty. Allow me to demonstrate. Here is our live subject. Let's call him 'Clive':


As you can see, he is a normal, happy, healthy person. However, let's take his nose away and see what happens:








'Clive' immediately begins breathing through his mouth. Sometimes, deprived of their primary organ of respiration, the following happens:

_ _
x x

As you can see, 'Clive' is now dead. And he was one of our best actors!

Alexis comments:
I've seen Abe Lincoln


and I've seen Homer Simpson


but what I'd really like to see an emu emoticon (an emuticon?) and/or an Emo emoticon (although I'm not sure how you'd render the safety pin).
Well now, I'm not sure if that's a question or not, but for the record, this is what an Emo emoticon looks like:


As a matter of fact, here at the DER, we have for some time been developing a parlour game that we call 'Emoticon Charades'. In this game, one of our emoticon actors strikes a pose, and we attempt to guess what mood/characteristic that actor is trying to represent.

Let's see some examples:


This is 'Person With Amputated Arm'.


This is 'Person With Two Amputated Arms'.


This is 'The Elephant Man'.


This is 'Fat Man With Double Chin Who Has Just Eaten a Big Mac'.


This is 'Fat Man With Quadruple Chins Trying To Flirt With You'


This is 'Person In the Manic Stage of Manic Depression'. (Also 'Stevie Wonder At a Concert')


This is 'David Niven in His Later, More Depressing Years'.

I will leave it up to readers to guess what this is:


I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had. Thanks to TimT for once again allowing me to post on his blog.

A Clerihew

The Hebrew Balaam
Had a donkey, and used to mercilessly flail 'im.
But things came to a pretty pass
One day when his donkey called him an ass.

The Department of Emoticon Regulation Answers Frequently Asked Questions

Hello. I'm John Cludge, the Assistant Chair for the Department of Emoticon Regulation (DER), the administrative body responsible for the maintenance of proper standards of grammar and spelling on the internet. I'd like to take this opportunity to answer a few of your questions.


The first email comes from Janey Mathers of Hamtown, Wales.
Thank you. Thank you very much.


This next letter comes Mackles P Mackles, of Macklesville, Greater Mackletown, Ohio.
Dear DER,

What is the appropriate way to punctuate emoticons? Your biggest fan,

'Punctuate'? What's that?

HA! Just kidding! Of course, normal grammatical rules apply to emoticons, with a few important exceptions.


'-' before ':' except after ')';

Leave space between emoticons. You wouldn't want ':-)' and ')-:' to run together, or you'd get ':-))-:', which doesn't make much sense.

Avoid excessive punctuation: an extra comma after an emoticon clutters the page needlessly. '(-:' makes sense, '(-:,' may not.

Keep sharp objects and slashes (for instance, '/', '\') away from your colons. You wouldn't want them to get hurt.

Avoid using Assicons and Titicons in polite company.


Jimmy Visp of Vilmington, NSW, Australia, writes:
(Actually, just speaking for myself, Jimmy, I'm not GYZ. Not that there's anything wrong with being a GYZ who likes other GYZ. Many of my best friends are GYZ. As a matter of fact, I'd like to congratulate you for coming out of the electronic closet and admitting that you are GYZ. Good for you! I'm sure you'll find many supportive friends at your school and they will all be very GYZ (ie, happy) about it.)


Several complaints have been received this year. One comes from Arthur Oddsod of Elsternwick in Victoria.
You people really are atrocious! It really makes me nauseous every time I read the drivel your so-called 'experts' have reduced our language to. Why, to think that English, the grand language of Shakespeare, Spencer, Donne, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Tennyson and Eliot, has been reduced to the proliferation of little 'emoticons' and 'avatars' on the computer screen! The putrefying mess that is our language nowadays is truly (etc, etc, etc...)
Dear Alistair,

When we first saw your letter, we were rather :-O, and then we were very X. One of our office members was even >:-< and kept GRRRRRing and AGGGGGGHING in the corner to themselves. But after thinking about it, we decided that we were just very :-( for you. One of us even started to :'-(. We hope you can find it in your <3 to get with the times, ASAP. We're sending lots of ((((())))) and XXX your way.

In summary, we wish you lots of :-) and hope you find joys from the little things, like *** and XXX. We puffy <3 U very much!

Oh, and PS - ;-p

We received an interesting query from Joseph Clug in Griffith, Australia. Dear DER (he writes):
How many ()s and Xs can we use on the net before it becomes pornographic?
(We are informed that Arthur spends his days surfing the net looking for images of bald Asian felines).
Arthur, that's a very good letter. Protocol on these matters can be very difficult, and of course between two consenting adults, anything goes. But there are a few rules which you can go by.

One to three Xs is fine. Anything above three Xs might be construed as pornographic, so don't X someone repeatedly unless they X you back.

()s are generally considered as a friendly gesture, unless they appear in the context of a flirtatious ;-) or an X.

Sometimes you might X someone when they are :-( just to cheer them up. But limit the number of Xs, otherwise things might get out of hand.

Don't stroke another person's hyphen unless they ask you to, and certainly never do it in public.


Well, that's enough for the moment. I'd like to thank everyone for emailing in to the DER and taking time to read these answers. Happy websurfing, folks! ;-p

Monday, April 16, 2007

Free Existence With Every Second Furniture Purchase. Meaning Of Life Unavailable At This Present Time.


For a limited time only, we'll sell you this lounge set, complete with ALL the extras!

2) sets of pillows.
1) Mat for the floor.
1) Matching bloke.

With this elegantly-furnished Swedish lounge, your home will be complete, and you can come back from work every evening happy in the knowledge that some guy will be slouching in your lounge.

Comes complete with:

- Romantic 1950s-style carpet stains.
- One husband/bogan boyfriend with fashionable apprehended violence order.
- That Authentic, Lived-in Feeling

Don't worry about creating the atmosphere for your place, we create it for you! Our interior designers have gone to great trouble to create a brooding atmosphere of imminent threat, and take you back to a time when the stains were simpler and the domestic violence and suicide rates were through the roof (sometimes literally!)


MODERN FURNITURE for Masochists (and/or Indian fakirs who live in the housing commission flats at Flemington)

- Chairs that you don't want to sit down in.
- Tables it is impossible to eat from
- Walls which fail to hold the roof up.

Over-designed so that it not only meets your budget, it exceeds it!


- 1) Leaking roof, suitable for outdoors types. (We bring the outdoors indoors!)
- 1) Bonus landlord remininding you that your rent is due!

Bonus Landlord

- Choose from our library of overdue, mortgages, and writs from the taxation office.


A Scientific Experiment

In order to heal the divisive rift between Cat People (tm) and Dog People (tm), and also to create a species of overwhelming cuteness for use against terrorists, I would like to announce that I have bred together Puppies and Kittens in order to create two new species: Puttens and Kippies.

I have further attempted to cross the bird/mammal rift by crossing the Puttens and Kippies with Goslings and Ducklings, but all I've ended up with so far are a whole bunch of Guppies and one old guy called Kipling who insists on reading me poems about the Raj.

The experiment continues...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Autobiography At Second Hand

Most readers will know about my obsession with Mel Brooks, an obsession which has extended to me owning copies of both the post-1960 and post-2000 versions of The Producers, watching both of the movies several times, and even seeing the play on Broadway despite the fact that Max Bialystock was being played by Tony Danza. And shortly I plan to get a copy of his 1960s comedy album The 2000 Year Old Man. Yep, I got it bad.

It's Good To Be The King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks is the latest edition to my Brooks library, a biography of the man by some dude called James Robert Parish. What's it like? Let me just say that Mel Brooks life makes a fascinating, riveting, intriguing and eminently readable biography, and it's just a pity that this book isn't it. Parish has gone through realms of documentary material from newspapers, magazines, television interviews, films, documentaries, and biographies, and proceeds to ignore the best anecdotes, tell a series of stories that don't go anywhere, and cuts-and-pastes quotes from Brooks that don't seem to mean anything. Facts are gathered together so that Parish can squeeze every last drop of insignifance out of them.
It's good to learn about Anne Bancroft and her 30-odd year relationship with Brooks, but what point exactly is there to learning that Bancroft is fond of gardening? Or that in making his later films, Brooks often ended early so he could get back home to see the horse races? Now you do.

That whooshing sound you hear is Parish missing the point, usually with the aid of one of his trusty cliches. Did you know that Mel Brooks is 'zany'? He is also 'wacky' and 'seriously funny'. He is a 'jokester'. He has an 'extensive, multifaceted show business career' and is a 'born survivor.' He 'could 'rarely resist indulging his antic sense of humor'. He is all cliches to all people, but most of them to Robert Parish.

The book is good about Brooks' early career as a TV writer with Sid Caesar and his earlier films, with detailed stories about how Brooks struggled to get The Producers his initial version of The Producers off the ground (it started as an unpublished book, became an unperformed stage play, and ended up as a script for the screen). Mostly this is because Brooks and his friends tell a good story themselves. It was interesting to learn that Silent Movie, a conscious parody of the silent movies of previous years, was not originally Brooks' idea.
The later movies often get two or three pages each (in an almost three hundred page book). You barely start reading about them before you get to read the critics being critical about them. Their favourite criticism is that Brooks' films are 'tasteless', which is another cliche. Parish seems to tacitly approve of much of this criticism; he doesn't offer many insights into the filmmaking process. For 'A History of the World: Part 1', Brooks got Orson Welles to be the narrator. How did Brooks get Welles to agree to this? Did they know one another? What was their working relationship like? We never find out. The film is also a groundbreaking comedy, one of the first and most effective parodies of the Grand History Documentary genre.
'Robin Hood: Men in Tights', probably Brooks' best later film, also gets short shrift. I loved this film when I first saw it (admittedly, this was just several months ago). It zig-zagged from references to Cole Porter musicals to Errol Flynn-style action scenes. It starts and closes with a rap number led by Dave Chapelle and companions clad in 'Merrie England' style clothing. I laugh just thinking about the scene where Robin swims back to England through the Mediterranean seas, to the tune of 'row, row, row your boat'. What movies were being parodied here? Was Brooks a fan of Errol Flynn as a kid? Did he re-use many of the gags from his earlier Robin Hood television series 'When Things Were Rotten'? Often the jokes rely solely on the comic timing of the actors, and they pull it off brilliantly: how did Brooks settle on his cast?

But no, we don't really get any of that. All we get, instead, are funny anecdotes about Brooks clowning around in a Manhattan record store in front of a college student ("A short man appeared in the doorway above me, jacket thrown over his shoulders like a cape ... In a loud theatrical voice, he called out to the manager, asking if his records had come in.... he said: "Would you like a quick lesson? I'll show you 10 ways to smoke a cigarette - give me one... he then proceeded to act out a series of freeze frames that would have done justice to the most emotive of silent film stars.")
It's true, there are the occasional telling moments. When Mel's father, Max Kaminsky, dies, his grandparents are ever on hand "with a seemingly endless supply of herring, and, sometimes, with much-needed cash". ('So sorry to hear about your father's death. Here, have a fish!') Or, later, there is the story about how while Brooks is writing for television, he is fired by boss Max Liebman. Several times. Every day. Now there is comic potential aplenty in all of this, and it says something about the surreal, absurd, Borscht-belt humour Brooks typically uses. Typically, Parish fails to make the connection.


Unsurprisingly, most of the best anecdotes in the book are told by Brooks himself. The whole thing is kind of an autobiography at second-hand. Bugger that. I'd be interested in reading a first-hand autobiography.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cop That, Thomas Edison!

"Invention is 5 per cent inspiration and 95 per cent perspiration."

"Writing is 5 per cent inspiration, 95 per cent procrastination, and 200 per cent masturbation."

Now We Know Why This Crocodile is Smiling...

A disarming encounter with nature.

WARNING: It's a very pretty picture up the top, but it doesn't leave much up to the imagination: I'll just say that a Taiwanese vet was very happy in hospital to be reunited with an old limb...

Got the story from Steve.

Vet to Croc: I've got to hand it to you, my good fellow!

Croc to Vet: Pleased to eat meet you, my dear sir.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What To Expect When You're Expecting Satan


CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected by the devil/Prince of Evil/Beelzebub/Powers-That-Be to carry in your womb an earthly manifestation of the supernatural realms! Please take some time to read this little pamphlet to help you understand the trying times ahead.

Nauseau, morning sickness, cramps, vomiting, headaches, back-aches, hunger, tiredness, dizzyness, bleeding, hallucinations, hysteria, random thunderstorms, the occasional volcanic eruption, day dreams, nightmares, mad priests, manic depression, attacks by screaming Papists, social alienation, heightened magical powers, unexpected manifestations of Mepistopheles, Patrick Troughton, and itchiness. Don't worry! It's what every nurturer goes through! It's all part of the normal supernatural experience.

Giving your child a name like Damien, because that kid is really annoying
Being called Rosemary
Calling your child Adrian
Calling your child Regan Teresa Macneil
Patrick Troughton*

ESPECIALLY try not to avoid giving birth to any or every of the following entities:
The Antichrist
The Horsemen of the Apocalypse (how would you fit all those horses in your womb?)
Hannibal (this guy's not strictly a demonic entity, but you still don't want to give birth to him)
Patrick Troughton (not actually a demon, but you don't want to give birth to him all the same. I mean, come on! He's 87 years old and dead!)

In the years to come, no matter how eccentric your child might seem, or how many countries he or she might take over/destroy, or how many dragons or weird shit they might hang out with, cherish them and take care of them so that they will be able to grow into their full potential for evil. They will thank you for it! (Well, they probably won't thank you for it so much as blow up the world or something, but same difference).

UPDATE! - Happy Black Friday, everyone!

*This rule doesn't just apply to expectant-mothers-of-demons, it applies to people in all walks of life. Yes, even you.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

One-word haikus









The Vulgate of St Cunt


Obligatory Producers Reference


(Actually two words, but it's one name. I plead poet's licence, man.)

Political extinct animals


Allow Me To Introduce Yourself


Fathers At A Piano Recital


International phone call


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Terse and Werse

... He made the startling revelation "you use a lot of big words"... Does Spelling Impact On Sex Appeal, Brunette's Blog

Big words? Stuff big words! If you can't daze, faze, haze, or craze a friend with one flick of the tongue and a few choice words, then you should not speak at all!

God spoke less and spoke wise when he said,

"I am that I am."

The Bard's best lines were made of words a mere one phone long:

"To be, or not to be...."

"I am not what I am ..."

Bill Blake, who 'Saw the world in a grain of sand', could not mince his words, since there was not much there to mince in the first place:

"Ah! Rose! Thou art sick!"

Who needs tongue flicks when one click will do? The world is rife with small words, dwarf quirks of our tongues; to know them is to say them; to say them is to love them:



Now, I don't know what putz first said these words or what foul hooch they had just swilled, but I want some of it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Obligatory 300 Post


In the classical tragedy, heroic characters are impelled towards a climactic plot point by a personal fatal flaw. They don't have to die, but the fatal flaw just has to have lasting consequences.

There's no doubt that the Spartans are going to die in 'The 300'. They are a force of three hundred warriors given the task of fighting the huge invading Persian army, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, in the mountain pass at Thermopylae. For their whole lives, they have been trained for this moment. As the movie makes clear, their childhood is brutal. Weakly Spartan babies are left on rocks to die; children learn the arts of swordfighting; and are subject to repeated, deliberate punishment by their peers. In their teens, they are sent into the wild to fend for themselves, and return, supposedly, as hardened warriors. All this is told in a series of images, overscored with a bald narrative telling of the Spartan way of life. It's historically accurate, insofar as it goes, but the sequence is there to make a dramatic point: that Spartan life, Spartan virtue, Spartan morality is one and the same as warrior morality. The good life, to these Spartans, is little more than loyalty, courage, strength, and victory on the battlefield.
This is why 'The 300' is their tragedy; because on the battlefield, the Spartans perform magnificiently. It's just that the battle that they fight has very little point. One of the characters, (the Captain of 'The 300', in fact), tells a baffled Athenian, early on, that he is searching for 'what we Spartans call a perfect death. Maybe in that force of thousands down there I can find one warrior to give me that perfect death'. Leonidas, the King of the Spartans, and one of the leading warriors in these armed forces, can understand some of this, but he doesn't have the words or the philosophy or the time to work any of this out. He chooses to fight for Sparta because of his love of wife and country - it's not said, but made clear through a series of lingering shots of his wife and Queen, Gorgo, and the Spartan fields, rippling and golden in the sunlight. At the penultimate point during all the fighting, he strips off his armour, his shield, his helmet, lays his spear down on the ground, and drops to his knees with face to the dirt. It looks like an act of submission to the ludicrously effeminate King Xerxes 1 (the Xerxes character actually reminded me much more of the evil Egyptian God King in the Stargate movie) but it's not. He's remembering the life that he led with Gorgo; and remembering the people and life that he is fighting for, rather than the mechanics of battle.
Part of Leonides' problem is that he's not a philosopher, and he doesn't come from a land renowned for its philosophers. (Athens is sneered at, early on, as the city of philosophers and boy lovers.) But it's in the dialogue in the lead up to battle scenes and in the aftermath that he and his fellow Spartans appear at their most human, become sympathetic. His wife, Gorgo, mocks the Persian envoys shocked at her speaking: 'Spartan women speak like this because it is only Spartam women who give birth to real men.' Leonides attempts to persuade the Ephor - the city prophets - to support him in the battle. Later, when they object to his marching into battle, he tells them that he's just taking a little walk with his men, northwards. He is a cunning king, of sorts, who knows the value of the dramatic gesture (he doesn't just kill Spartan messengers, he has them hurled into a seemingly bottomless black pit). But he seems altogether too jaunty, sinister even, when he walks about a battlefield strewn with the bodies of dying Persians, eating an apple while his men move about the field killing the rest. He is inured to war and death, and hasn't yet come to realise that what he is fighting for is peace and prosperity. But behind his back, his beloved city is in danger of falling apart at the seams from treachery, greed, from idleness and indecision. The Spartan's don't know how to lead a good life, they just know how to prepare for a good death.

"I am honoured to die by your side," the Captain tells Leonidas, as they lie, conquered on the battlefield.
"I am honoured to have lived by yours," Leonidas tells his Captain.

This is his tragedy: that Leonidas only realises the value of life when he has lost it.


'The 300' has had some interesting reviews on and off the Blogosphere. Gummo notes that he'll wait until it's out on DVD. Richard Watts lambasts it for its homophobia. Jim Schiembri completely misses the point in his review where he classes it as gory popcorn entertainment in 'The Age'. Leigh Paatsch in the Hun gets ridiculously excited by the visual extravagances (he says it's a 'hand-grenade in a blood bank', or something like that). And Jason Soon gets cranky about Paul Byrnes getting cranky about the movie supposedly being fascist propaganda, or something.


Out of all the death and gore in 'The 300' there is actually one survivor, David Wenham's character. He plays Dilios, who loses an eye during the conflict, and is sent back to deliver a message to Sparta. He becomes in the end a prophetic figure, like Homer or the famous Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus, extolling the virtues of 'bold Leonidas' and 'the 300' and exhorting the Spartans to defend their country and Greece. He attempts to immortalise and ennoble the death of the 300 by rendering it in verse:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

Leonidas also tells him to deliver a message: 'Remember us'. Perhaps it's just a pathetic plea to be granted an existence after battle in the minds and hearts of Spartans, but I think there's something else there as well. 'Remember us', says Leonidas, and we think of the speeches he makes about 'Spartan liberty' and his fierce refusal to yield and his love of the Spartan land and the Spartan people. 'Remember us', he says, perhaps asking that this gesture for Grecian independence be known for all time.

Two of the simplest, saddest words in the whole film: 'Remember us'.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Unfortunately, Your Child Is Displaying All The Symptoms Of Becoming an Archaeologist

While we're on the subject of documentaries, did anyone see the BBC thingy on ABC Television last night about Boaedecia? What a load of old cow bollocks that one was! Fat, prematurely balding men stomped about in the dirt waving pieces of rock about and shouting away from the camera, "This is potentially an important potential find!" Old dudes in museums would turn the pieces of rock over, and say, "This is a very potentially interesting find indeed!" Young bespectacled blondes*, sitting in darkened laboratories with microscopes, handle rusty old pieces of metal and announce in weird, piping northern English accents, "This is certainly a very important, very potential find! Although the details about it aren't quite clear to me yet, a casual scrutiny tells that it obviously comes from the Very Late Iron Age, That Bit That Was Not Quite The Bronze Age But Just Leading Up To the Bronze Age Although It Hadn't Reached It Yet. Wow!"

Probably off camera, all these weirdos started having fights about whether the find was more Very Important or Very Potential, or whether it came from the Very-Very-Late-Bronze-Age-Indeed or just the Very-Late-But-Nothing-To-Write-Home-About-Bronze-Age.

What possesses these crazy kids to do it? Why do potentially normal people suddenly get possessed with an urge to dig great big holes in the dirt and get enthused over shabby pieces of old rock? It is one of the great mysteries of our age: instead of frollicking around in the fields, or throwing eggs at people on the street, or painting graffiti on pieces of wall, young people are turning in increasing numbers to the recondite arts of archaeology. Heaven only knows if we can reverse the trend before it is too late...

*I tell a lie. She didn't have glasses on.

Don't Move! There's a Fire-Breathing Freak-Beast From Hell Behind You!

I have a little problem with the Biblical documentaries that they've been showing on the television screen over Easter, and the problem is this: they've been spending far too much time on all that 'message' stuff, and far too little time on talking about all the hell-beasts and dragons and what-not that the Bible contains. I mean, don't get me wrong, message and meaning is good - but when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse gallop through your house and Gog and Magog are just about to rend you apart between their ravening maws, you won't be thinking that much about message, will you? No, you will not.

And hey - I'm down with all that morality stuff. I can remember not to boil a lamb in its mother's milk as much as the next man, but what am I going to do when a fire-breathing dragon swoops down on me and begins to eat maidens? Feed it cakes of pitch, fat, and hair and make it explode, that's what. And so what if that's from the Apocrypha? My point is still the same.

Thanks to the Bible we learn heaps of useful and practical advice for day to day living, like when our Ass starts talking to us, then it's probably a good thing to listen to it. Or when you see a sultry seductress pouting at you and you just happen to notice that she has seven heads and ten horns, then restrain your natural lustful desires to go to bed with her, because she's probably the Whore of Babylon. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you don't want to end up cast into a lake of fire and/or burning sulfur: that's just impractical, and chronically unsexy. In addition, if you're thinking about getting a haircut, and your hairdresser ''just happens" to be called Delilah, then think again, man! It could be severely emasculating (and potentially damaging to your eyes.) Also - and we're probably getting a little off topic here, but it's worth it - if all of a sudden the heavens open up and you see burning fires and whirlwinds and freaky stuff, like totally-out-there four-headed man-ox-lion-eagle-hybrid, then be cool, man. It's probably not an example of genetic engineering, it's just that you're going to have a couple of prophecies. Also, don't be surprised if your name is Ezekiel and you live in the 600th century BC, and if you are, can I borrow your chariot, mate? Those things are totally cool.

So, next time biblical strumpets look alluringly your way, or apocryphal hell-beasts start attacking your house with fire and sulfur, or some random president/Prime Minister asks kindly if you'd like to get a cute number starting with '6' tattooed across your forehead, or just any everyday shit like that, don't say I didn't warn you! It's all in the Bible: useful, practical rules for getting along in a supernatural universe filled with demons and angels and freak-beasts of every description, where the wrong move could see you cast into Eternal Perdition or even end up betting on the wrong man in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Races (otherwise known as the Caulfield Cup). And that's just too horrible to even contemplate.

(This community service has been brought to you after watching a documentary recommended by Tim (yes, another Tim) who might have a slightly different take on the issue of man-eating hell-monsters, but you never know.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Warning: Clowns Ahead

(I got this picture from Tim Blair, who got it from The Age, and I don't know what they were doing with it. I couldn't help myself, it had just so many possibilities in it. Feel free to suggest your own captions and stories to go with the picture in comments.)

Canberra, Saturday.
In a shocking demonstration of psychic forces, Peter Costello’s cabinet-induced hallucations of grandeur physically manifested themselves on the steps of Parliament House this morning as several Demonic Clown Entities. Soon the Clown Entities had moved on key members of cabinet, ripping their faces from their bodies. John Howard was the first to perish, closely followed by Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop. Phillip Ruddock and Costello himself were unaccountably spared, perhaps because the clowns were unable to tell whether they were humans or fellow clowns.

A spokesman for the Clown Entities, Beelzebub, or "Mr Bobo for short" was interviewed by our reporters in a press conference at noon, performing his interview entirely in mime.
"We are seeing the coming of a new age," said the spokesman. "An age of equality for Clowns of all races, nations, and creeds; an age when the Anti-Clown legislation of previous generations will be ripped up."
"You will bow before your new Clown Masters" he continued. "Or you will be destroyed." (Although there was some confusion as to his message at first - reporters mistook the word 'destroyed' for 'asteroid', for instance - they got it across in the end.)

The new Demonic Clown Entity cabinet plans to institute a comprehensive, nation-wide reform plan, including Clown Education for Everyone, funding of a cross-country Mime scheme, and free face paint and juggling lessons for all.

All who refuse to comply will get squirted in the face with water, or banged over the head with a gigantic rubber hammer by the new 'Clown' police.

Are you in favour of the Demonic Clown Entities? Respond in our exclusive reader-only poll!

Are You In Favour of The Demonic Clown Entities?
Yes! I, for one, welcome our new clown overlords!
Certainly not. I would like the clowns to descend on me in rabid hordes and rip my face off.
Unsure. Please take me instantly to the nearest clown re-education facility...
Free polls from
UPDATE! - A surprising amount of people have nominated 'Clown Re-education' as their preferred choice. Sure, it's better than having them rip your face off, but apparently what they do is squirt you in the face for twenty-two hours every day, which gets pretty annoying. Honestly, you lot perplex me at times...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thought For The Day

I think I'll get a dog and call it Fortescue. Basically so I can have an excuse to shout out things like this on a regular basis:

Fortescue! Get your nose out of that!

Fortescue! Drop that this instant!

Fortescue! What did I tell you about eating that?

Fortescue! I didn't take you to the vet for that little operation just to have you go and do that to the nearest chihuahua, did I?


This thought for the day has been brought to you by Tim. Kindly forward on your hate mail complaints to the nearest RSPCA branch, thanks.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I am currently at work trying to do as little of it as possible. This is slightly complicated by the fact that almost no work is coming in for me not to do.

What to do, what to do...

UPDATE! - Thinking about this dilemma in economic terms, I think that what I need to do is basically increase my efficiency in unproductivity. Maybe I could think about ways of maximising my laziness, for instance, extending my ability to do nothing over slightly longer periods, provided I am given an adequate pay incentive, obviously.

I think I'll just have a word to someone about this...

ANOTHER UPDATE! - Work came in. Now my ability to not do the work due to the fact that very little work has come in for me not to do is being hampered by the fact I have too much work to do. I am ashamed to say I have a horrible lack of non-work ethic. It's a dreadful, dreadful paradox.

AN UPDATE UPDATE! - Let's break these results down into a pie chart, shall we? Yes!

What the hell does that mean? Search me. Basically, I have to strive to fail to live up to the work targets that I have met the day before, or something.

Colonel Pyatnivski

I'm currently reading Michael Moorcock's book 'The Laughter at Carthage', the biography of his fictional character Colonel Pyat, a conservative Russian forced into exile from his homeland following the revolution. It follows on from an earlier book, 'Byzantium Endures', which I have not read yet. Like most of Moorcock's characters, the Colonel seems to have several names which are endlessly mutating depending on where they appear, but as far as I can glean, his full name is something like Maxim A. Pyatnivski.
From Odessa he walks to the West End
In perfectly scuffed shoes.
He smokes cigarettes; speaks English, German, and French,
And has opinions about the Jews.

Stanley, Hand Me The Axe

I stepped out from behind the ice-chest.

"Hand me the axe," I ordered sternly.

The handle of the axe poked out from the darkness and I grasped it.

The blood of the Gudgeons surged within me.

"Stay there, you banana-spined dingo. I shall return presently."

"I hope so, father. I hope so," whispered Stanley.

I crept out of the kitchen and up the hallway. Groping my way into my own room which is in the very front of the house, I peered out the window. A girl of about seventeen was in the act of pressing the bell-button. I felt my way out of the room and strode back to the kitchen.

"Stanley," I said, hurling the axe into the laundry, "you may have this."

"Have you killed him, father?" gasped Stanley, peering around the doorway.

"No, not yet. When I do kill him, I shall kill him with my naked hands. I am a Gudgeon."

I turned and strode up the hall.

"Oh--er--hullo!" said the girl, as I flung the door open...
It is time we saw a return to older, simpler forms of entertainment. Where now are the vaudeville and the cabaret shows of yesteryear? But there is one comedy genre that is especially neglected: the genre of Slapstick with an Axe. Haven't heard about it? Ah, you are missing out on a rich vein of theatrical and televisual history.

Slapstick with an Axe began on the television screens of middle America, with the rousing success of the show "The Three Stooges - With An Axe!". This was quickly followed up by "And Then There Were Two!". While popular, only one more episode of this series was made, amidst concerns by the producers about the safety of the actors. "I Love Lucy with An Axe", a spin-off Desilu production, opened with the following line: "Oh Riiiicky! Come into the kitchen! I want to .... axe you a question!" Lucy was at the time stroking a Slovakian Valaska axe. Unfortunately, "I Love Lucy With An Axe" was quickly axed by the studio axers, despite the rich dramatico-comico potential and a sudden upsurge in the militant feminist viewing demographic.
Other comedies to attempt 'Slapstick With An Axe' included "Happy Days With An Axe", "The Honeymooners With An Axe", "Abbott And Costello With Two Axes", "My Three Sons With Just As Many Axes", and "Mary Tyler Moore with Three Names And Even More Axes".

The success of the 'Slapstick With An Axe' concept was imitated early on in Hollywood hoping to make a quick buck. "The Marx Brothers Night At The Opera With Nunchucks" was a rousing box office flop, and "Bob Hope And Bing Crosby On The Rhein With Nunchucks" failed to live down to even the lowest audience expectations. However, in the later years the British had a run of comedies with the 'Nunchuck' concept, including "Carry on Up The Khyber With Nunchucks", and the short-running movie series "Doctor At Sea With Nunchucks", which lasted for at least one movie. In later years, too, we find a great many sitcoms based on similar concepts: " The Simpsons With Boomerangs In A Gigantic Bowl of Jelly", "I Love Raymond Naked In A Cardboard Box With Monkeys", "The Brady Bunch Armed With Blunt Cudgels In A Darkened Room", and "Rocky and Bullwinkle With A Forty Megaton Bomb!"

It is doubtful, however, that without the unifying 'Axe' concept that this vein in comedy will develop further.


Magazine advertisement for I Love Lucy With An Axe, a short-running spin-off from the long-running TV series. Another advertisement ran under the evocative caption, "We split, Ricky, or I split you!" Click for enlarged version.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Switched On To Switching Off

Dramatic Scenes from Sydney's Earth Hour: Documentary Photographs from a City on the BLINK!

NEWTOWN: Neville Blodgykin enthusiastically participates in Earth Hour by switching all his lights off, and celebrates by walking into a door!

MARRICKVILLE: Greens Voter Barrimore Stanlington gets turned on by all this turning off and mistakenly makes love to his cupboard instead of his partner!

MACQUARIE STREET: Labor turn their famous Light On The Hill off for an hour and debate energy policy!

DEE WHY: Peter Debnam accidentally has a thought!

WAHROONGA: Children participating in Earth Hour run rampage, and develop a complex tribal society, based on seasonal sacrifices to propitiate their God - when a game of 'Odd Man Out' goes awry...

All over town, people reconnect with simpler, happier times by experiencing the darkness for one hour...

Yes: Sydney is a city that is switched on to switching off!
Email: timhtrain - at -

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