Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things I did on my holidays, by Timothy H Train

Things I did on my holidays, by Timothy Huw Train - #122: Inflated a TARDIS.

This is a pretty simple thing to do, provided you have one of two things: a) a bike pump b) a very big set of lungs. Dad and I opted for the bike pump. The only worry we had about blowing up this TARDIS was that when we blew it up it might, well, blow up. (Of course, we hadn't thought about how to deal with a scalliwag nephew/grandson who thought it a wonderful lark to pull the plug on this TARDIS. Repeatedly.)

Incidentally, on meeting said nephew, I was shocked - SHOCKED! - to find that he didn't know what a TARDIS was. He hasn't even watched one episode of Doctor Who! Nick, what the hell's going on?

Important political post!

Time for an Important Political Post, folks. You knew it was coming.

As the crisis in the middle east continues to worsen, it is absolutely vital that President-Elect Obama act decisively, and immediately make a vague and non-commital statement about the situation. Once this vague and non-commital statement has been made, it must be swiftly and surely backed up by a series of ambigous and unclear messages by other world leaders, capable of multiple interpretations by the conflicting parties.

It is only through such a unified and misleading response that the conflicting parties will be reconciled in a state of mutual confusion, and that their levels of violence will be changed from unacceptably high to merely highly unacceptable.

Quite right, ladies and gentlemen. Quite right.

Idle Novocastrian notes

Newcastle, the city that may or may not exist
Newcastle is a collection of suburbs making up a slightly bigger suburb. Some of the suburbs are highly subjective - they exist more in the mind than in reality. Alongside the Pacific Highway running into and out of Newcastle is a suburb called 'Hexham'. Just about the only distinguishing features making up the suburb of Hexham is, 1) a McDonalds, and 2) a train station. That's it. I'd Imagine the train station picks up all its business from the McDonalds, and vice versa.

Being driven back from Williamstown Airport to my parents place, we noticed amidst the trees and shrubs, a sign saying that we had entered another suburb, 'Campvale'. Where were the houses? Was this an actual suburb? A place that was going to be a suburb in another five years? A place that was once a suburb? It sure confused the hell out of me.

Another case in point is Newcastle city centre. Most city centres, of course, are places where almost nobody lives but lots of people go to sell and buy things. Newcastle city centre goes one better than this, since almost all of the shops are unoccupied. You don't live there, you don't buy there, and you don't sell there either: it's a work of art! (Also, it's not quite a city centre, either - it's on the waterfront, at the edge of town). Maybe things have worked out like this because Newcastle council believe in helping the disadvantaged - and it's much easier to help the disadvantaged in your city when there's lots of them. Think of the opportunities!

This is probably why some years ago I left Newcastle for the tram-based entertainments of Melbourne. Nevertheless, I still fly back there quite a bit to see the parents and enjoy events like TINA, and so on.

Words my father has attempted to use at scrabble
"That's Dad's scrabble style" I remarked to my parents yesterday over the scrabble boards. "He plays very obscure, hard-to-remember words that earn him almost no points at all." In fact, he played at least one low-scoring, obscure word every game. I started making a list. Here it is:

Roob (according to Dad it's an old carnie cry, whenever there's trouble at the circus tent or something like that - 'Roob, roob, hey roob!')

We let him get away with most of these. Not all, though.

Things the dog tried to eat during my six-day visit
Two tennis balls
Two cockroach baits
The bright yellow napkin I'd been using as a bookmark
The pink frisbee
My smelly black socks
Dad's smelly black socks
My brother's smelly white socks
Something I didn't see in the park (possibly a pinecone?)
An old shirt of mine

Oh yeah, she also tried to herd my nephew, nipped at my feet, and hunted several smaller mostly feathered animals. On Christmas, I took her for a walk in the park, and she hunted, in quick succession, 1) a magpie, 2) a family of ducks 3) an abandoned beer bottle sitting on the ground.

I think she's fantastic!

Trains, mobile. Also, Train's Mobile
Pottering off to Lake Macquarie yesterday with father, mother, and brother, so Dad could get a bit of target practice shooting arrows we noticed really weird stuff going down with my mobile phone. You see, it latches on to the closest reception tower in the area and tells me where I am - or at least it tries to. Going through some of Newcastle's lesser-populated suburbs, it came up with some rather imaginative suggestions as to where we were located. Driving onto the Pacific Highway down to Hexham, it thought we were at the university. When we reached Fennel Bay, it said we were in Fassifern. When we got to Fassifern, it said we were in Toronto. When we reached Toronto, it said that we were in Toronto, but considering its track record at that stage, I think it was just a one-off accident. At a few points while we were driving back from Toronto, it said we were in the mysterious suburb of 'Emergency Signal Only'. That's a funny name for a suburb... And true, it did say we were in Heatherbrae when we drove through Heatherbrae, but by the time we got into Raymond Terrace, it said we were still in Heatherbrae.

Oh, and later in the day, at Williamstown airport, which you would have thought was at Williamstown, it said we were at Salt Ash. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Unsolicited dog photographs

I'm just back from Newcastle where I had an absolutely smashing Christmas. I'll say a bit more about that tomorrow, but in the meantime, enjoy these pictures of my parents' dog, Shelty, a rather naughty border collie pup. As you will see, she likes eating things. She likes eating things a lot.

Tomorrow, I will publish a list of things she tried to eat during my six day visit. It will not be a short list.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Naughty Santa

Just what the hell is Santa smoking here? And doesn't he look just a little bit too freaking happy - positively blissful, in fact? Doesn't he know how dangerous smoking is? Why, he could be locked up by the anti-smoking league for daring to smoke in front of children! But then again, maybe it's not tobacco he's smoking. He still looks a bit too fat, though - far too obese to act as a father figure to children the world over. Santa Claus, the health freaks will be on to you, all right!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Words which I use incorrectly

An incomplete list...

Means: of or pertaining to evening.
I use it to mean: slow. 'Oh, that tram's going past in a crepuscular way.'

Means: Of or relating to an uncle, like an uncle.
I use it to mean: Friendly.

Means: Working or acting merely for gain.
I use it to mean: Indiscriminate.

Means: afternoon.
I use it to mean: midday, afternoon, evening, or night.

Means: branch of medical science relating to the functions and diseases peculiar to women, especially those relating to the reproductive organs.
I use it to mean: anything relating to the body.

In general I find that long obscure words are incredibly useful, since most people don't trouble to throw them into a conversation and therefore most people aren't sure what they mean anyway. So when you do throw them into a conversation, their meaning largely depends on their function in the sentence you are saying, and the context.

Not sure how I started using 'afternoon' indiscriminately, though. (Or should I say, not sure how I started being so mercenary with my use of the word 'afternoon'?)

Should I be doing this? No. Will I keep on doing this? Hell, yes.

Ancient people you can relate to

Hattians! The name of an ancient people inhabiting the lands of Hatti in parts of Anatolia. Noted for their wearing of hats whenever possible. And other, less important, but possibly more factual stuff.

Tongue twister

A wobbly wallaby wobbled to Willoughby.

The Christmas that ate Christmas

I had hoped to put up another non-Christmas post before I flew off to Newcastle. But Christmas is so omnipresent at this time of year that it's almost impossible not to talk about something related to it. Like the hideous science-fictional blob that keeps appearing in films that may or may not be named 'The Blob', Christmas has turned into a vast, formless, all-devouring entity that, er, devours all. It's even slipped into the simplest conversations with the random Man/Woman/Non-Gender-Specific Person On The Street, who you should know better than to have conversations with anyway.

- Funny weather for this time of year!
- Yes, I think it'll cool down for Christmas, though.
- It's so busy in Melbourne at Christmas.
- Yes, Christmas is a busy time of the Christmas.
- Are you trying to tell me something, Christmas-head?
- Shove it up your Christmas!
- Hey, Christmas you!

You get the idea. I'm having these conversations all the time.

I was noodling around on Facebook, getting into a debate with Benito about how much of Christmas was pagan and how much was Christian, and bumped into a Christian who didn't celebrate Christmas. (Oliver Cromwell would be proud, I thought.) He was so magnanimous and so compassionate that he appeared to feel responsibility, as a Christian, for all the sins of the crusaders, the inquisition, and various other sins committed in the name of Christianity. That's quite a stock of personal sinning he built up there - I wondered if he was planning to apologise for every individual offence that happened, and on behalf of all his other Christians? (Kevin Rudd would be proud, too. Or maybe ashamed. Or maybe proud of being ashamed. Or ashamed of being proud. Or... etc.)*

Christmas, hey? It's so... Christmassy. Have a very merrily Christmassy Christmas, everyone!

*In case you're reading, hey JM. I'm sure there's more to your views than that, but you sure did sound odd when you said 'as a Christian I do not celebrate Christmas' in Benito's Saturnalia forum post. Me, I'm just a sucker for Christmas pudding and fruit mince pies.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting into the spirits, getting into the seasoning

Not only are we coming up to Christmas, but it's almost the 25th of December! And you just know it's that time of the year again when everyone on the streets, in the newspapers, and in the blogs start talking about that time of the year again, and start doing and saying those type of things again that only happen at that time of the year (whatever time it may be).

In order to get into the spirit of the season, it seems it might first be appropriate to get into the spirit of getting into the spirit of the season. I therefore offer for your perusal and edification the following Officially Official Will Type For Food Christmas Checklist.

- Left-winger complaining about Christmas decorations being offensive to non-Christians - CHECK

- Right-wing paper complaining about left-winger complaining about Christmas decorations being offensive to non-Christians - CHECK

- Left-wing blogger complaining about right-wing papers who complain about left-winger complaining about Christmas decorations being offensive to non-Christians - CHECK

- Mainstream media article about the pagan origins of a 'supposedly' 'Christian' 'festival' - CHECK

- Parodies of the carol The 12 Days of Christmas - CHECK - that aren't as good as the original self-parodying parody that the song is - CHECK

- Evangelical Christians eager to remind us about the 'true meaning of Christmas' and Jesus - CHECK

- Agonising over what atheists should do at Christmas - CHECK

- Various bizarre commercial attempts to use Christmas to their own advantage - CHECK

Hooray! Can't you feel the spirit of Christmas yet?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The difference between 'think' and 'tell'

SCENARIO: I am sitting at Coburg train station next to a middle-aged businesswoman reading a book. I am eating a fruit mince pie, with a takeaway cappucino by my side.

TIM: (Thinking) Gosh, I like fruit mince pies. They're really tasty.

Tim lifts the cappucino to his lips, and squeezes the cup a little too much, causing froth to spill out and run down his trouser legs.

TIM: (Speaking aloud) Nothing like a bit of lactate down the leg.

The businesswoman beside Tim laughs uncomfortably.

TIM: (Reminiscing, aloud) Takes me back to my school days.

Following this incident, I reflected to myself that this was an excellent illustration of the difference between 'think' and 'tell', and particularly instructive about those occasions when one confuses what should be 'thought' with what should be 'told'.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Out of Zeit, out of Geist

This year, I didn't see some of the must-see films, and as for some of the avoid-at-all-cost films, I didn't avoid them, at some cost. I began to read some books that were unputtdownable, then put them down; and I took up some books that were untakeupabble. With some books, I found that once I started, I could stop. With others, I stopped them even before I started them.

Guess the zeit will have to continue zeiting the old geist without my help, then.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aspirational junk food

There are some people who would happily sit in their local fruit energy drink store while they wait for their protein-enhanced organically-boosted oxidiser-charged proton-nullified magnetised-depolyethylinised cup of banana smoothie to be delivered, reading a sheet of laminated paper full of advertisements for gyms that are slightly-too-expensive-for-them-to-afford, and watch as the barista merrily sculpts the tiny grass growing out of a tub on their table top with a pair of nail scissors. I am not one of those people.

Don't get me wrong. I like caffeine as much as the next addict. But bloody hell! Have you seen the amount of fruit drinks they have in cafe fridges? Such a diversity of choice is there that every time I walk into a cafe and gaze upon the panoply on offer, I am overwhelmed by one thought, and one thought alone: 'I like Milo'!

The principle concern of drink manufacturers these days seems to be making their drinks seem accessible, attractive, and available - to wankers. So great is this wanker demographic, that each drink has a label, title, and list of ingredients so arranged as to attract the eyes of these wankers. They probably have textbooks on appealing to the Inner Wanking Powers inherent in every customer. Branding is all important, for wankers. Some names and descriptions of drinks follow, accompanied by a short translation:

This name is so annoying, that if I carry it around I will seem like a witty wanker to other witty wankers who want to seem like witty wankers!

I'm the drink for people who don't want other people to think they drink bottled water and aren't afraid to not admit it!

ORGANIC! _______ [Please insert the terms: 'Lemonade', 'Raspberry', 'Lime' after that title depending on whether it looks yellow, red, green, or mud-coloured]
Organic soft drink - just like normal soft drink, only shit!

I look like ordinary orange juice, apple juice, etc, but I'm tagged a 'smoothie'. I also have weird oxidants and other stuff in me. This seems foolish because I am bought by fools. Why not be another fool and buy me?

Aspirational junk food: it's junk food for people who want to look healthy and happy and virtuous, but don't want to put any actual effort into it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This is not a review

A few days ago I went to a poetry gig in Brunswick, and a little while later I left. Between those two unremarkable events I ran into Geoff Lemon selling copies of his book Sunblind, so I got one for myself.

Flicking through the poems, I found they were written in free verse, which I dislike; and that they were about things like driving and nature, which I'm mostly indifferent to. I summarily concluded that I didn't like the style and I didn't like the ideas, but I did like the poems. This seemed to mean that I disliked everything about the poetry except the poetry. This would never do...

Rereading the book closely, I found a few poems which flabbergasted me. Geoff had an occasional gift for writing free verse that had the easy grace and music of a traditional rhymed poem or structured lyric. (There's only one obvious lyric form in Sunblind, a ghazal.) I was really goggling at the two poems Foxes, and Working in Wood. Like sestinas or villanelles, they seemed to use repeated words to terminate line endings, but unlike sestinas or villanelles, those repeated words didn't seem to be arranged in any specific form. I actually made plenty of marks on my book beside these two poems and stared at them for a good half hour trying to work out if, despite appearances, Geoff was using a specific form.

All very disturbing for me, to come across a modern performance poet who actually seems aware of established poetic forms, and capable enough not to write in them while still producing good poetry. I hadn't thought such a person existed.

I'm not going to go writing free verse or anything, though. I like a good rhyme too much. And I do still wonder why the one exception in Sunblind to Geoff's preference for free verse is a ghazal. (Nowadays, almost the only verse form that most people know of and are able to write in is a Japanese haiku.) Are verse forms only acceptable when they're exotic?

Still, I ended up liking Sunblind after all. Such was my perplexity at this little volume of poems, though, that I still don't think I'm able to write a review of it. And this isn't that review.

You can get a copy of Sunblind by contacting Geoff or maybe Picaro Press.

UPDATE! - Just got feedback (mmmm, feeeeeeeed) from Geoff informing me that Working in Wood is a pantoum. There goes any cred I had with the poetic forms...

All I want for Christmas is my teeth ripped out of my face

Reader, I must confess. I have been a swine, a cad, an utter reprobate, a moral worm, a beast. Up until now, I would have been the sort of person to blithely go on life's way, nary uttering a word in sympathy or compassion for my poor, suffering fellow mortals. Now, not so! I have turned from my paths of wickedness from whence I have straid, never to stray no more.

Up until two days ago, had a person at my workplace happened to become hurt, my response would have been like so:

WORKMATE: OUCH! I stubbed my foot.

TIM: Isn't that a nice cloud!

Now, however, I know better. Who am I to mock a fellow mortal in their pain and suffering? Sympathy, like a healing balm, must be applied liberally. In future, this will be my response.

WORKMATE: OUCH! I stubbed my foot!

TIM: OH MY GOD! WHO'S YOUR NEXT OF KIN? I'll hire the funeral hearse, & co., & co...

And what has caused me to reform? Well, as Dr Johnson once said, "If a man knows he is to be hanged on the morrow, it focuses his mind wonderfully." And so it is with sickness: reader, I ail, I fail, I am poorly. I may not last for much longer. I am, there is no doubt, on the cusp of death. Or, to put it more specifically, my mouth hurts. Or, not to put too fine a point on it, I have a toothache. I think I know what the problem is, too. My wisdom teeth, those villains in the dental world, which, years ago, my dentist told me would have to be removed at some point in my future life - or else!

I am now in my thirty-first year of age, hale and hearty, and with my wisdom teeth still unremoved. Oh, how I wish it had been different! I can see all too clearly what is going to happen. My corrupt teeth will drop, one by one out of my mouth; and then, the corruption and decay will spread to the rest of my mouth will drop off too. Without a mouth, I will be unable to feed. A mouthless zombie, I will wander the world for a few days, before falling, and becoming a dead, decaying corpse in the gutter. A vision of horror? Nay, dear reader: it is merely a sober and sanguine consideration of the circumstances that lie before me. Perhaps readers of the dental profession out there will spot one or two inaccurate details. However, I feel certain that it is, in essence, true.

Anyone know a good dentist?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nasal gazing

A Shakespearean sonnet to the blob of booger that was plucked from my proboscis

I celebrate my snot, and sing my snot
That is from out my nose so timely ripped;
I make a joyful noise unto my snot
And then, I roll into a ball, and flick.
To see the world within a grain of snot!
It is a throne of kings, a paradise!
Hath earth a thing to show more fair than snot?
Is this snot worth my nasal sacrifice?
Is this a booger that I see before me?
Doth mucous from my nose forth greenly drip?
Then out, damn snot! And take thy hanky with thee -
Take out thy snot rag, hand, and let it rip!
But blow, thou nasal winds, and bleach, and blot -
For all is snot, the snot, and nothing but the snot.

AFTERWORD: I actually wrote three of these, but this was the best one. I might do them as a performance piece sometime, which is how I first thought of them - because the best place to pick your nose is on stage, where EVERYONE CAN FREAKING WELL SEE YOU. Obviously.

Ehrm. This being by way of explanation, and all that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Everyone talks to themselves, don't they?

Leaping out of the front door of the office at the conclusion of work today - as is my wont - a sentence fell into my head, and I just had to say it:

I am the spazmo monkey!

As soon as I said that, it occured to me that all I had to do was add another sentence to that to create a felicitious combination of words and sounds. So I did:

And I dance like a junkie!

I'm a poet, man.

Disclaimer: I am neither a junkie, nor a monkey, nor am I in the least bit spazmo.

Well, okay. Maybe I'm a little spazmo.

Better the Minogue than the Maxogue

Apparently Kylie, the Australian woman most famous for being ordinary, is releasing a perfume: "Sexy Darling", the headline says, is a "seductive new fragrance from Kylie Minogue".

Seductive? How can something with the name of 'Sexy darling' exactly be described as seductive? That's like calling a punch in the face a subtle argument. If 'sexy darling' is seductive, then what other mysterious meanings are there in this lexicon?

Nice tits = subtle flirtation technique

Let's shag = being coy

You have a face like an old boot = affectionate teasing

Let's sing hymns at church together some time = expression of utmost contempt

Sex = pleasant entertainment to be had when encountering slight acquaintances

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Comments with no post...

It's very common to find blog posts with no comments. But how about finding comments with no blog post? That is not quite such an everyday experience.

Now, I have fulfilled this vital need in the blog community. Look right above!

Monday, December 08, 2008


We interrupt this randomly scheduled collection of stochastical unlikelihoods to bring you pictures of oxen!

UPDATE! - Oxtra! Oxtra!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

How to philander, one pat at a time

This morning I went down the street to pat the neighbour's dog. I did it again this afternoon. As a matter of fact, I have to confess I've been patting the neighbour's dog a lot. I did it yesterday, too, and two days before that. The dog, which is a big brown young labrador, is eminently pattable. All you have to do is call him over, and he'll romp up to your hand and readily agree to a pat.

This is a problem. Do my neighbours know that someone in the neighbourhood is patting their dog? In fact, the more that I think about it, the more that this furtive patting seems somehow ilicit - as if I've been sneaking in behind the neighbours pat, and pleasuring their dog while they're looking the other way.

Maybe I shouldn't worry. After all, it's not as if a dog is likely to confess to its owners, "By the way, I'm being patted by someone else." But is it right? Damn it, is it morally correct to be involved in an secretive pat-and-be-patted relationship with an avuncular but, let's admit it, somewhat untrustworthy party of the dogular species? (The brown dog tried to eat my jumper this afternoon. It's almost as if he was more interested in food than relationships of the patterine kind.) And are these pats being taken by the eminently pattable brown dog instead of being directed at some other dog to whom these pats should rightly belong? (I've asked the brown dog, and my pats, but they won't tell.) Or then again, is this brown dog, in the act of patting, making up for a patless pattern on the part of its owners, who should by all rights be patting it?

These are hard questions, and I don't think I'm able to answer them.

I think I'll pop out and give the dog another pat while I think about it. Can I deliver a pat to him on behalf of any bloggers out there?

The tap dancing won me over

This afternoon I've been vegging out watching the Fred Astaire movie Shall We Dance, and all I've got to say is this: today's movies of yesterday are nothing when it comes to yesterday's movies of yesterday. Shall We Dance, you see, is a classic movie that was made before there were any other classic movies to imitate. It's got plenty of iconic film moments and bizarre experiments with sound and visual that later became standard techniques. And when it wants to imitate the classics, it turns to other artforms altogether. As a film it does a great impression of a stage musical, touring ballet, set of gramophone songs, a vaudeville act, a theatrical comedy, and a light comic novel.

Same goes for the principal actors: as an actor, Ginger Rogers does a great impression of a singer, and Fred the actor is really great as a dancer. At the beginning of the movie, Fred does a good imitation of an American with a bad imitation of a Russian doing a passable imitation of a French accent. (No, that's all right, Fred didn't get it either.) And at the end, Ginger reciprocates by imitating a mannequin imitating a French woman imitating a Russian man. (I think).

As anyone with a passing acquaintance of the Fred and Ginger juggernaut would know, as they made more and more films, the plots became entirely superfluous, an excuse to match the pair up, usually romantically. I can almost write the Hollywood promotion lines for their Hollywood characters now, so I will.

He was the great Petrov, a star of the stage, but with a carefree heart! She was a beautiful and famous popular dancer and jazz singer, desired by all - but there was only one man who could win her heart! Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!

But the plot, though entirely contrived, is still enjoyable and it has an interesting moral. The newspapers are conned into spreading a story about marriage between Astaire and Rogers. They spend most of the rest of the movie contriving against the papers, and against one another. In the meantime, their managers either contrive against them, against one another, and against the newspaper stories. It makes for some great situational-comedy jokes, an enjoyable confused plot, and a rather creepy set piece at the end, where Fred dances around the stage with a whole bunch of female dancers wearing Ginger Rogers masks, singing 'Who's got the last laugh now?' It's not a very good conclusion (others, such as Wodehouse, were much better at this sort of thing) but it's a very interesting comment on the fickleness of appearances, both in public and private.

The jokes are excellent, and original:

- At one point, for no reason at all (which is a very good reason indeed), Fred starts doing an enthusiastic tap dance to a record player. This is a particularly fusty and useless record player, which keeps on getting stuck in a groove, or finally getting slower and slower (Fred's dance cleverly imitates the music).

- Fred's manager bursts into his room after having read the latest stories about his star, and rouses him, crying, "You're having a baby!" After being informed of the details, Fred declares angrily, "And you're the father!"

- Fred and Ginger discuss how to thwart the papers, with increasing frustration, until Fred declares, "We're the only two people in New York who don't think we're married." "Think?" replies Ginger. "I know we're not." Fred answers, to some consternation, "I'm beginning to have my doubts."

And this is not to mention a weird method of courting involving people marching back and forth in a kind of semi-dance with their dogs, an imaginative set-piece dance with roller skates, and a frustrated citizen turning up at the offices of a random US police station: "I'm in jail for battery, and I want you to get me out. I'm at the Susquehannah Street Jail . . . Susquehannah! Susquehannah - S-U-S-Q-U-Q! Q! You know, the thing you play billiards with . . . Billiards! B-I-L-L-..." The policeman replies: "What is this, a spelling bee?"

All in all, I can think of few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching an Astaire and Rogers movie on the telly. Maybe I'll go on doing just that, then, eh? Pip pip!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Very absent voters

The last-minute rush to vote had one man confused in a Richmond barber shop on Saturday afternoon. As the barber clipped away, the voter suddenly announced that he needed to get to a polling booth to avoid a fine. Asked where he was enrolled, he said: "The City of Melbourne, but that's easy - I'll just walk up the hill to the polling booth here and vote absentee." Told that it was too late because the City of Melbourne's postal voting had closed the night before, the man said: "No, I've voted absentee before, and I'll do it again today."... The Melbourne Times
Well, I have to say, it's about time someone came up with the concept of time-absent voting. How many times have voters been unable to attend historically important elections for reasons ranging from a minor case of the cold, to a slight case of non-existence? Too many, that's what! For far too long, elections have been far too long ago for us to participate in!

My patriotic fellow citizens, of whatever nation you happen to be patriotical citizens of, have you ever said to yourself 'I CAN'T let my vote go to waste. The 6th century BC election for the leadership of Athens is far too important for me NOT to vote in, and damn the slight historical, continental, political, and legislative barriers. Where can I sign up?' I know I have. And, after all, the 2133 AD election of the Armenian Presidency is a VERY important election, and we simply have to vote in it. It is urgent that we make our choice now about whatever urgent choice people will have to make then! It is absolutely vital: the future of something depends on it!

NOW is the time to cast an absentee vote for whatever time that vote should have been cast! Fellow Absent-minded voters, sign up to the Will Type For Food Very-Absentee-Vote Scheme now, and cast your ballot in as many elections as you want to!

Become a time-absent voter. Join yesterday! That's what democracy is all about!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cat of destruction!

My very esteemed colleague Alexis the Baron this morning posted a picture on her blog of a neighbourhood cat of our acquaintance, Leonard.

She argues that Leonard is here contemplating various acts of virtue, charity, and kindliness to those less fortunate than herself.

But! Never trust a photograph you find on the net! After digging around, I have uncovered a horrible story. It turns out that the above picture of Leonard is a fake. Clever photoshop trickery has been worked on this picture in order to wipe out the eeeeeeevil thought bubble that is forming just above his head.

Finally, I located an undoctored version of the picture. Note the thought bubble:

I am very much afraid to tell the Baron that she is living in close proximity to a feline who harbours psychopathic feelings towards toilet rolls.

In case the Baron is not convinced by this, I would like to further note the entry under Leonard in the Macquarie Dictionary. Read the third definition very carefully...

The Macquarie Dictionary

// (say 'lenuhd)
noun 1. Elmore John, born 1925, US writer of westerns and crime fiction.
2. Ray Charles (`Sugar Ray'), born 1956, US boxer; a world welterweight champion.
3. Feline, born 2006, cat; noted for harbouring psychopathic feelings towards toilet rolls.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Utter flapdoodle!

AAP had a story on my email page today that seemed to be about a certain type of bird being lost at sea. Hmm, I thought, scanning the headline idly - not that creature from the family Sulidae and the genus Sula? And not to forget the monotypic Papasula? I should think, being seabirds, that they are never more at home than when at sea*.

But as it turned out, they meant an entirely different type of boob.

On completely unrelated matters, who isn't fond of families of passerine birds, such as chickadees, not excluding a number of attractive woodland species (some of which tend to join mixed-species feeding flocks when it isn't breeding season)? I know I am. Here's a particularly splendid example of a Great Tit, and I certainly don't mind saying so.

And for the record: this is an absolutely smashing pair of boobs.

*Conversely, you could also say they're never more at sea than when at home.**

**That's for shore!

Creative uses of modern environmental concepts!

Presenting: The Amazing Cholesterol Offset Scheme!

Let's face it, in this modernised word, overconsumption is a big problem - so why not pay us to offset your personal overconsumption of resources onto others?

Here's how our Amazing Cholesterol Offset Scheme works:

1) You eat a nice, juicy, cholesterol-filled chocolate bar:

Fig 1: Chocolate bar

2) Make a note of this in your cholesterol offset form.

3) We offset your overconsumption of the world's cholesterol resources to this kid, and just feed him plenty of cabbage soup instead.

Fig 2: Some kid who's not allowed to eat chocolate.

4) Sit back and watch in satisfaction as the cholesterol consumption figures of other people the world over go down!

Together, we can make a real difference to the cholesterol consumption figures of other people while stuffing our fat faces full of chocolate! Sign up now!

Monday, December 01, 2008

His finest hour

It's not everyday you can say that you get to send emails of cybermen around the office as part of your professional duties, but today, that is what I did.

Okay. It wasn't exactly my finest hour. More my finest second, if anything. But still...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's like poetry, sort of

I just got a text message from my mother telling me about a television show that is going to be on ABC in a couple of weeks time.

I think this illustrates the dangers of science and technology. I'm almost sure the inventors of the mobile phone text message system never thought that this sort of thing would happen when they were putting it together...


I just signed up for Christmas on Facebook yesterday, and discovered that well over three hundred thousand people were not going to be attending this year.

What the hell? Or, to rephrase that: what the hell? How can you not attend Christmas - an event that is so all-encompassing that the only requirement for you to be in attendance at that date is to be in existence at that date? Do these non-attendees simply plan to be attending the date of the twenty-sixth of December on the date regularly scheduled for the date of the twenty-fifth of December?

Aside from anything else I'm frankly baffled. How do you simply put aside a day like that? Is it an extreme case of daylight savings, or a more pragmatic case in which the non-attendees simply choose to stop thinking, breathing, or physically manifesting their corporeal presence in any way, shape, or form on this day?

Scrooges! Scrooges, I say!

Friday, November 28, 2008

What you don't see, you can't see hurt you

Now, I'm not always the sort of person to do several things at once - I'd usually much rather not do several things at once, and continue not doing them all for some time. But as you probably know, I'm in the habit of reading while walking. I have been ever since I went to school as a kid, walking there from our house several blocks away.

In fact, I've been reading while walking for so long now, that I start getting dizzy and dislocated whenever I walk and don't read. Here's how it happens: I'm walking along to the kitchen at work, and suddenly get confused by the fact that the cord before my feet is actually a cord before my feet, and trip over it. Or I'll be going down to the shops, and I'll start thinking that the post in front of my face is blocking my vision so I can't see the post in front of my face (behind the post in front of my face), with the result that I run into the post in front of my face before I can move out of its way. If I had been reading a book, you see, I would be able to move the book out of the way just before I saw the post in front of my face or the cord before my feet, and step out of their way.

As I've mentioned before, reading while walking over the road is especially fun, or at least it is when the cars stop for you. Which in my case happens quite frequently. Conversely, when you don't have a book and cross the road, it's freaking terrifying! All those huge scary metal beasts, rushing along the road! Who'd want to watch an unfolding horror film like that? Much better to be reading a pleasant poem or a whimsical essay while that terrifying drama unfolds on the roads before you, I find.

What you don't see, you can't see hurt you - that's my motto.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nymphomaniac vows to abstain from Christianity before sex

A confirmed nymphomaniac living in a small community outside of Melbourne has vowed to abstain from Christianity before sex.
"The temptation is great," admits Mr. E.N.*, in an exclusive interview with this paper. "But I've made a firm commitment with myself. NO to religion before I come to grips with more serious matters, like sex. It's far too important to play around with."

Mr. E.N. has been delivering pornography door to door and preaching his doctrine of "Sensuality First" in an effort to convert people in his town. He has also been offering subscriptions to Playboy and performing dramatic readings from the magazine in the Town Square for interested audiences. He says that the responses have been 'mostly positive'.

However, Mr E.N. has met with opposition from several other organisations in town. One such organisation is 'Christians against Sex Education for Married People', whose spokesman**, Ms M.R., said in a statement to this paper yesterday, "It's unrealistic to ask people to abstain from Christianity. They have to learn to experiment amongst themselves until they find a belief that suits them. We believe this will allow them to return to sex at a later and more mature period in their lives."

A second organisation, 'Married People against Christianity for Other Married People who Practise Sex Before Marriage,' is more supportive of Mr E.N.'s aims. "It is inappropriate for Christianity to be taught in schools," claims Mr. N.F. "Especially when young people could be getting up to more appropriate activities such as marrying, or having sex."

However, Mr E.N. believes that his "Sensuality First" doctrine will catch on. "Christianity is not a compulsion, it's a choice," he says. "I just want to make sure that people are fully aware of the importance of sex before they start playing around with religion."

Mr E.N. will be debating his arguments*** on local television tomorrow night, against Ms. J.H., a spokesperson for the community-interest group 'Somewhat Confused Christians Against Marriage Before Sex.' He expects a large audience.

*Disclosure: some initials have been changed in order to protect the identity of the initial initials.

**Disclosure: some gender identities have been changed in order to protect the identified genders of several gender identities.

***Not to mention arguing his debates.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Astound your friends with astounding things!

Eminent Men of Letters and some of their eminent letters...

B, B, A, N, S, D, X

- John Donne

O, O, A, X, O, E, F

- William Shakespeare

F, N, T, H, A, S, E

- Rabbie Burns

Z, I, R, C, A, E, R

- Christopher Smart

F, F, D, G, E, B, A

- Ted Hughes


See you later, procrastinator

The Queensland Government says construction of the Traveston Crossing dam near Gympie in the state's south-east will be delayed by several years due to environmental concerns. - ABC News
Just hours after announcing delays to their crucial Traveston Dam project, the Queensland Government are announcing delays to their delays, which makes them "the most developmentally delayed state in the nation", according to Premier Anna Bligh.

Bligh also flagged further crucial delays to developmental delays to be announced in the weeks to come. The details of the delays are to be announced - shortly.

"This move to delay our delays makes Queensland the most efficient state in delaying things in the country, and we look forward to making more decisive delays in the weeks leading up to the election," concluded Bligh.

"The Queensland Government has a great vision for this state, which we look forward to putting off for another three years," announced Geoff Wilson, the Minister for Mines and Energy, this morning. He defended the Government against accusations of lateness by saying, "Look. We wouldn't have a great future to look forward to if all the good things happened now, would it? You've got to put all the good things in life off for later. That's why they're so good!"

However, Wilson refused to enter into speculations as to whether the Queensland Government was finalising plans to put off the upcoming state election until next state election. "We'll answer those questions," Wilson said, "later."

The Queensland Opposition has acknowledged the latest round of delays to previous delays, but its response to the media has been delayed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Into the mouth of death he strode

Some months ago I had the luck to come off the street onto the Moreland Train Station platform while it was filled with children and their associated adult life forms. It was mid-week, and at about nine in the morning; I was on my regular morning commute to work. Well, they were running and cheering and shouting everywhere as children are wont to do, while I huddled down one end of the platform along with all of the other regular commuters. The most common cry was "train! Train!". Also "is the train coming yet?" And "where is the train?" These children certainly were startling conversationalists - about trains.

Eventually, a voice came out over the intercom... announcing that the train was running five minutes late. The children, none too depressed by this announcement, let out a hearty avuncular roar of approval: "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!", or sounds to that effect.

It was then that I and the rest of the regular commuters decided that children and trains should not be trusted.

Thus it was with some trepidation, dear reader, that yesterday I found myself advancing into the Northland cinemas, for the second week in a row, to buy a ticket to the movie 'Thomas the tank engine and friends: the great discovery'. On the previous week, I had arrived at the cinemas some ten minutes before the movie was due to start and had discovered all the seats in the film sold out, and adult life forms banked up from one corner of the cinema right into the Pancake Parlour, with children tugging at their sleeves and asking anxiously when they were going to see the train.

I say that I advanced there with trepidation: well, terror might be a more adequate description. As luck would have it I arrived just as the ticket booth was opening and managed to get myself one of the first tickets. On walking into the cinemas some minutes later, I discovered it overflowing with children, running all over the place. It was if a movie version of Lord of the Flies had suddenly, and startlingly, manifested itself in real life.

I took a seat somewhere in aisle five and attempted to relax. I say attempted: some child in aisle four was turning and wriggling around as if he could hardly bear to sit any longer. An aisle one adult was flapping disturbing pieces of linen in the air. Another aisle five child was querying their parent about Thomas, and there were sounds of childish distress coming from aisle seven. Possibly tom toms as well, but I think I blocked that out.

Meanwhile, the cinema, in an attempt to calm us all down, was piping generic movie music in, but even this did nothing to quell my rising horror. For one thing, they appeared to be playing an L J Hooker ads instead of music. "Nobody does it better... nobody does it half as good as you!", etc. This was followed, even more disturbingly, by James Bond music. (I had noted previously, and with some disapproval, that this edition of Thomas was narrated by previous Bond star Pierce Brosnan, and not Ringo: they have a Bond movie out at the moment that I have no interest in seeing). Was this some kind of way of subliminally encouraging the children to be supervillains? When the lights went out, I began to feel some anxiety on the part of my mortal soul....

The film itself was just about what you would expect. Forty-five minutes long, with narration, as I have just noted, by Pierce Brosnan, presumably on the assumption that he is universally identified as an Englishman, like Ringo. Never mind the fact that his accent is probably put on: Brosnan is from Ireland, not England. Brosnan also has a disturbingly high voice: I don't know why nobody has noticed it before, but this former 007 is sometimes in danger of squealing.

That charming dramatic creation, The Fat Controller, has been largely retired, and replaced by a Blair Labour Party stooge Thin Controller. The amount of destruction and disaster that Thomas encounters is almost apocalyptic: not only does Thomas go off the tracks - twice, I think - but he also inadvertently causes the collapse of a bridge, a water tower, and falls into a subterranean lake in a disused mine shaft. (It's not long, you suspect, before the British government launches an inquiry into the wasteful practices and questionable health and safety regulations on the Island of Sodor, where Thomas and the rest of the engines are located.)

Aside from Occupational Health and Safety difficulties, Thomas may also need a psychologist. It's rare for a steam rain to have a psychiatric condition, but Thomas becomes startlingly envious and avaricious when introduced to Stanley, a gleaming white engine with a silver smoke stack.

All in all, not a terrible way to spend an hour or so. Yesterday evening I also went to see Excalibur at the Astor, a much more adult affair with knights donging one another all over with maces and all manner of implicit Freudian themes being made, explicitly. But I think the day belonged to Thomas.

You should see it too. Go on. You'll be chuffed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

One liner, in three lines

It's better to think that you know what to say before you know that you say what you think, rather than to know to say what you think after you say what you think that you know.

I think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comment on the culture of comment

By far the most irritating feature of that supremely irritating website, Facebook, is the ability it gives others to comment (irritatingly) on EVERYTHING that you do. No, EVERYTHING. It wouldn't be so bad if people could just comment on your photos or your notes, it also lets them comment on your attending events, updating your status, becoming fans of something, joining a group, or even your becoming friends with someone, and also (but not limited to) anything and everything else. Who wants you to have an opinion on everything that your friends do? Facebook, that's who.

Did Austen have to put up with this kind of constant opinining? Did Shakespeare? (An occasional rotten potato is more hazardous, but also more moderate and intelligent, than the kind of twitter that you occasionally get on Facebook.) Seriously. Imagine if the great works of literature were thrown open to this kind of commenting....

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

- 'It is a'?

Could there be a more hackneyed opening to a story? Srsly?

- Agreed, lolz.

What the hell are you talking about, Austen? 'Truth' is such an outdated concept.

And what the hell is this talk about marriage while we're at it? Enough with the valourisation of outdated patriarchal structures!

etc, etc...

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

- 'Households' - hey, that isn't bloody likely under the current fiscal/sub-prime mortgage crisis.

- And I don't know why you're using that hackneyed and trite Iambic Pentameter.

- And what's all this 'Fair Verona', while you're about it? Man, have you see what Berlusconi and Prodi have done to the place?

- Bet the idiot's never seen Verona.

- This 'Shakespeare' is REALLY in need of an editor.

- Or a therapist, man. You should see his King Lear. I don't know how the hell he ever got published...

etc, etc...

Man, it's getting so you can't breathe before someone makes a comment on it - as if everyone has to have an opinion about what happens before it happens.

Maybe I should put in a comments box in this post, just for those commenters who are too incontinent not to comment mid-post...

Dramatisation. May not actually work.

Commenters! Comment on my Comment on the culture of comment! Go on, I won't bite!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Timpedia: a universal collection of information about everything Tim knows.

Plunger, coffee
Tim likes his coffee to be made in a plunger.

The era of the pot
Prior to drinking coffee coming from his plunger, Tim drank coffee out of pots. In Newcastle, he got given a pot by his mother. This pot had a propensity for growing mould in the bottom that was annoying to Tim.

Later, in Coburg (See also: Coburg era), Tim drank coffee out of his flatmate's pot. On one occasion, he left the coffee in the pot on the stove for two hours and came back to discover the bottom of the pot was burnt. He avoided his flatmate for several days after this incident, but thankfully, the flatmate never seemed to have noticed. He continued drinking coffee out of this pot for several months after this incident, but it left a bad taste in his mouth.

The great switch to plungers
On moving to Thornbury, Tim procured a plunger. He greatly enjoyed the taste of the coffee that came out of the plunger. Sometimes, he liked to have the plunger coffee with some gingerbread. Other meals Tim likes to have with his coffee now include: croissants, toast with vegemite and toaste with jam or honey, biscuits, and cake. (See also: food that Tim is partial too).

Tim's first plunger broke one morning after having boiling water poured into it, causing the glass (which had frosted overnight in the cold air) to crack. Tim's second plunger lasted until last night, when he accidentally brushed it into the sink and it cracked, thwarting him in his plans to have gingerbread and butter with hot coffee in the morning.

Tim is currently drinking instant coffee at work, but not enjoying it that much.

See also: plunger, significance in Tim's poetry; plungers, how cool Tim thinks they are; other things with coffee in them that Tim also likes.

That's a funny dunny

Having recently signed up to attend a German-themed poetry slam, I've spent the last couple of days wondering idly whether I'd be able to come up with a German-themed poem for said German-themed poetry slam.

"I know", I said to myself. "I'll write an updated version of Beowulf. About plumbing!"

Said poem turned out to be very fun to write, and very long (it takes some 10 minutes in the performance, and at last count was 1,234 words exactly), and in fact, very unsuitable for performance at said slam . Some quotes:

The cistern crack'd from side to side
"The curse has come upon me!" cried
Wendell of Werribee...

Great gobbets of gunk
Fly free from the worm...

He breathes in green bile,
A bubbling brew....

So yeah. That's how I've been spending the last couple of days. How about you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Post about armpits

Astute readers of this occasional journal will have noticed a distinct lack of posts about armpits lately. As a matter of fact, you won't really catch me thinking about armpits, much; or even thinking about thinking about armpits much around here. It's not a topic that concerns me, particularly.

If pressed on the subject of my own armpits, I would hitherto have made expressions ranging from mild unconcern to utter indifference. I suppose I have nice armpits. They could be positively Rubenesque, paragons of the armpit world, as far as I know; I don't as a rule make a habit of scrutinising my armpits, or vainly disporting them before others on the tram. If they have their beauties, well, I am - or was - content to let those armpits be.

Well, that is, until yesterday. Idly leafing through a copy of The Melbourne Times, the rag that is dumped outside my place once every week, I came across an ad for a beauty clinic that promised to its future customers cosmetically enhanced faces, cosmetically enhanced chests, cosmetically enhanced breasts. It may even have promised to cosmetically enhance bits that had previously been cosmetically enhanced (for an additional financial enhancement). And it promised to cosmetically enhance my armpits, as well.

Apathy for my armpitular regions was gone in an instant: why, if these experts in cosmetic enhancement, in their wisdom and experience, ajudged my armpits (and who else could they be speaking to?) worthy of further cosmetic enhancement, I had to agree with them. Nothing in this world is perfect, and the armpits of this world can only share in that imperfection. And who knows what unique imperfections my own armpits might display; what lumps and knots and unsymmetrical curves might be contained within?

Compared to the beauteous Olympian armpits that have been enhanced by the cosmetical enhancements of this company, my own armpits must be demonically hideous things - along with the armpits of the rest of the unenlightened masses out there, labouring in darkness and ignorance and apathy.

I still don't think I'll get my armpits enhanced though. I'm quite happy enough with them as they are, even with their imperfections. I am, however, considering sending a lustrous lock, cropped from the fertile groves of my nether-arm, into this cosmetic enhancement company, as a token of gratitude.

It's the least I can do. (Aside from nothing, of course).

Here ends my Post about armpits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pat squared

Does Mrs Postman Pat pat Pat, or does she just pet Pat? And what about Pat's pet? Does the pet get a pet, or does the cat get a pat?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unannounced spot check

Apparently the Rudd Government are planning to make use of unannounced spot checks. I'm just getting into the spirit of things.

Yep, all these spots seem to be in working order.

UPDATE! - I think these spots could do with some fixing though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Amazing diet foods of tomorrow!


With only half the fat, half the calories, half the sugar, half the chemicals, and half the toxins of the conventional Whole Banana, the Half-Banana is a revolution in diet foods! And although, regrettably, the amazing Half-Banana has only half as much banana as the Whole Banana, the whole Half-Banana is a whole lot more half-filling than the Whole Banana!

- More healthy than other "health foods"

- Puts only half-as-much banana related "chemicals" into your hips and thighs!

- Will fit in half as much space as the bulky and inefficient Whole Banana!

Whoops, sorry mum

I was playing around in the kitchen with an old space-time continuum, some super-dense collections of hydrogen, and some fundamental laws of astrophysics I found lying around - and I accidentally did this.

Anyone got a mop?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

To the Surgeons, to make much of Time


Not Rofes, Pofies, Hyacinths or Lilies;
Not Dandylion, Clover, Daffydowndilly;
Neither Stockinges, Girdles, Veils, nor Wimples:
What really gets my JULIA is Pimples.
To lance, to fqueeze, to poppe, to bringe forthe PUS:
To make them ouze, weepe, groane, & gush forthe jus.
With gentyl tonge, biddes me lie on my chest
(I cannot but obey her fweete beheaft)
And thanne with eager fingers doth fhe prye,
And I with mournefulle voice do tearfulle crye.
And yet, by heav'n, I think my love as fine
As any pimple fhe doth fqueeze of mine!


Cometh the hour, cometh the man,
Cometh his face with boyles & spottes.
Cometh forth JULIA, daintie & purely, her
Hands out before her to kneadeth thofe knottes;
Squeezing & workinge, her tafk never fhirking:
Away goeth the man, withe his face all ablotch.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man,
Prancking his lockes, & preening his ruffes.
Poppeth out JULIA - moft beautifully - her
Hands draw forth duft, grey haires and dandruffe -
Midges & mites, fmall mammals that byttes,
Earwigs, tickes, lice, & other fuch ftuffe.

- Erick Herrick, eftranged* coufin of Robert Herrick

* VERY efstranged.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Drinking orange juice makes you intelligent

Talking idly about books at book club the other night (shocking, I know!) I suddenly realised that the rules for naming fiction books were really quite simple.

1) Take a poetically evocative noun. Anything will do. 'Fire', 'blood', 'stone', 'night', 'heart', 'Guns', 'Sword', 'Knife', 'Ice', 'Dawn', 'Death', 'Life', 'Jewel', 'Roses', and so on.

2) Take another one. Go on, don't be shy.

3) Combine the two nouns together in some vaguely meaningful way.

Results (and none of these, as far as I'm aware, are real titles, apart from the first one):

Fire in the blood
Roses of the dawn
Stone death
Sword of ice

And so on. You can be as creative as you want in putting the two nouns together, it doesn't really matter if you make up a new word. ('Nightwatch' or 'Dreamscape', for instance - two words used for Stephen King books). And the actual meaning of the title doesn't really matter - it's point is to give vague significance to what follows in the book, and to sound profound without actually being that way.

Generally speaking, one of the words that is used should be closely related to a verb or adjective, but this is certainly not true in all, or even a majority, of cases. Some examples: 'Riders in the Chariot', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Bloody Chamber'. It's a good way of combining a fact with a descriptive or active idea while not diverting too far from the purpose of the title, to imply what's coming and to entice the reader.

Then again, you really have to wonder where some writers get their titles from. A book of short stories by Brian Aldiss on my bookshelf is entitled 'A Tupolev Too Far'. Riiiiiiight....

(The significance of the title to this very post? Only because Maria of Orange Juice Snobbery suggested that I write about book titles in a recent post. She clearly knows my own mind better than I do. Drinking orange juice DOES make you more intelligent, ladies and gentlemen...!)

Deadly feathers

When Peter [Cook] left school, national service was still compulsory, but he was excused because of an allergy to feathers. - Judy Cook, 'Loving Peter: My life with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.'

Terrible things, feathers. Every soldier has to prepare himself for the possibility that, in the dead of night, the enemy will launch an unprovoked attack by feather on them. And if that soldier should happen to have an allergy - well, I wouldn't want to answer for the results.

Yes, death by plumage is one of the most avoidable causes of soldier fatality in the world today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we can't

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain. - ABC News
Barack Obama, the man voted most popular presidential candidate of the USA by people across the world not able to vote for him has become president.

The election of Obama as president by people able to vote for him has been greeted with excitement and elation by people not able to vote for him. They look forward to the days and years ahead in which the man they didn't vote for makes his mark on the presidency they weren't able to vote for in of the country they were not members of.

The election of Barack Obama, the man we didn't vote for, is only slightly tarnished by the fact that Obama was only one of many potential candidates for the presidency of the USA that the people of the world were unable to vote for. Other candidates included Republican John McCain (who for many people across the world was their second favourite candidate for the presidency that they were unable to vote for) and Robert Mugabe (who most people, including Americans, were cheerfully unable to vote for, and was by far the most popular candidate for people not wanting to vote for him.)

Now, however, the debate will really begin: will the actual presidency of Barack Obama, the man that we were unable to vote for, be better or worse than the possible presidency of all the other people that we were unable to vote for? What if the president that the people of the world were unable to vote for and didn't want to vote for turns out to be better than the president that the people of the world were unable to vote for and did want to vote for? We can expect to see this debate unfold in the weeks and months to come.

During his long campaign for the presidency, Obama has repeatedly reached out to many people who have been unable to vote for him with inspiring campaign slogans like "Change you can't believe in!", "Yes, we can't!" and "No vote for change!"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yay! and Neigh!

Being the first Tuesday of November, it's time for the Melbourne Cup! I was just remarking on this to a work colleague the other day, only to be interrupted by them talking about something else for the rest of the day.

In Australia, the Melbourne Cup is the most famous race in the world, but it's only a national holiday here in the state of Victoria. However, it's fitting that the Cup should take place in the city of Melbourne - that city being the national capital in Victoria. It should be noted, nevertheless, that in other Australian states - Sydney, for instance - Canberra is considered the national capital. This should in no way diminish the excitement the Cup causes amongst those likely to be excited by the Cup.

As Caz observes, being a horse race, the winner of the Cup is typically a horse; and, as Kathy notes, it is usually the horse which crosses the line first. But in gambling, nothing is certain, especially certainties, and so every year a good deal of excitement is generated around Australia as the race is televised through radio and newspapers and other televisual mediums.

There are many different names for this event around Australia. Here is a thorough, but by no means comprehensive, list (or, to put it another way, a comprehensive, but thoroughly undetailed, catalogue) of names:

- The Cup
- The Melbourne Cup
- The Race
- The Horse Race
- The horse thing

Of course, before concluding this brief peroration on the cup, the question must be asked: why do Australians like racing horses around an oval? The answer to this is complete and difficult, but it probably has something to do with them wanting to see who wins. And that is as good enough a reason as any that I'm going to give you tonight.

Slightly disturbing

Slightly disturbing: the blue vein cheese that's been sitting in my fridge for the past couple of weeks is looking much bluer than usual.

Maybe it's just getting riper?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's all about meme!

Via just about everyone comes a book meme!

What was the last book you bought?
That would be Peacock Pie, by Walter de la Mare; Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, by C S Lewis. (That last is an online purchase, so it's not coming for a few days).

Name a book you have read more than once
Lots: Lucky Jim, Pride and Prejudice, The Final Programme, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and others.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life?
No. I'm pretty sceptical about the ability of books to 'change' your life anyway, even more so than Tim - I tend to forget the details of what I read pretty quickly so that a day or two after I read a persuasive book, I'm unable to recall the arguments that persuaded me in the first place! I think generally the change happens the other way around - a person's outlook on life, or way of behaving, gradually changes as they get older, and a book, if it is persuasive enough, will help a person to articulate, describe, or understand these personal changes.

That being said, Pavlov's Cat lists several such books that have changed the way she saw life, and has good reasons for each of them.

How do you choose a book? eg by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?
By obsession. My current obsessions are C S Lewis, and previous ones have included S J Perelman and Brian Aldiss.

Sometimes the cover helps as well.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Both. Which is to say neither. Why should I choose between the two? I like it when fictional characters argue with me as if they were presenting an essay they'd written, and I like it when non-fiction writers use fictional methods. Both types of writing have virtues; I love the flights of creative imagination in fiction; and in non-fiction, an original insight or a clever line of reasoning falls on my ear and my mind like a melody 'sweetly sung in tune.' Why distinguish between the two?

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Sometimes one of the things that makes writing beautiful is a gripping plot. That being said, if you just throw a couple of jokes in from time to time you've pretty much got me hooked.

Most loved/memorable character
No idea. Jack Gudgeon in Here's Luck is pretty entertaining.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
News from Nowhere, by William Morris; Peacock Pie, by Walter de la Mare; Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes; and a copy of Andromeda Spaceways.

I'm touched that you even think that I have a nightstand. It's more of a stack, really...

What was the last book that you read?
That Hideous Strength, by C S Lewis. Fabulous satire about a made-up bureaucratic/fascist organisation called NICE in the England of the 1950s. Things don't really get cracking until Merlin rises up out of his swampy grave and shows the bureaucrats what-for!

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Sure, and sometimes I start reading a book halfway in, too. You can do that sort of stuff with poetry and short stories. It's more difficult (though not impossible) with novels and long essays.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Ice-cream the world!

According to this analogy, a vote for Barack Obama is like voting for the kid in the class room elections who promises everyone ice-cream. Oh, man, I wish - I'd totally cast my vote for the ice-cream party....


Ice-cream doesn't come from Washington. Ice-cream comes to Washington.

Ice-cream will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the ice-cream that we seek.

I was drawn to the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social ice-cream.

I will never forget that the only reason I'm standing here today is because somebody, somewhere stood up for me when it was risky. Stood up when it was hard. Stood up when it wasn't popular. And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to ice-cream the world.

A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for ice-cream!


Poem written on seeing a peculiar car drive past my workplace this afternoon

That car is pink!
It makes you think.
UPDATE! - New Zealand version
Thut car us punk!
Ut makes you thunk.

Zimbalkavietnovietunionisation , the economic theory

CANBERRA, Thursday - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended himself against charges that he has failed to completely Zimbabwifie the Australian economy yet.

"Zimbabwefication of the Australian economy is a hard task, and it takes prudent fiscal management and conservative economic policy to completely Zimbabwifie our accounts," said Mr Rudd.
Mr Rudd went on to outline his plans for the complete Zimbabwification of the economy. "First we have to Balkanise it," said Mr Rudd. "We hope to make significant gains in making significant losses soon."
In a snap meeting of ministers yesterday, Mr Rudd outlined his plan to make Australia the first first-world country to achieve third-word economic conditions.
However, the Opposition Leader, Mr Turnbull, has criticised Mr Rudd's approach, arguing that he may not even be able to achieve significant Balkanisation of the Australian economy.
"In order to achieve Balkanisation, Mr Rudd should be taking steps to make Australia into a new Vietnam. But we are far from confident that he's even done that."
Mr Rudd argued to journalists yesterday that his approach to Balkanisation was not to make Australia into the 'new Vietnam', but instead, he was aiming to turn the country into the 'old Soviet Union'.
"We'll get there," said Mr Rudd. "We're the little country that couldn't. But I'm confident that with a little carbon tax - in addition to conservative economic management - we'll achieve our goals!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review of a cereal program, in two parts

Sultana Bran is an exciting cereal program in two parts. The first part, the Sultana, is most exciting, while the Bran provides an adequate, though in some ways unsatisfying conclusion.

As far as morning cereals go, Sultana Bran provides more than adequate entertainment, but it is still a little way behind those other exciting morning cereals, Rice Bubbles, which concludes with some very exciting, um, Bubbles, or the mysterious Special K. (To this day, critics have not been able to work out what the 'K' is, or why it's 'Special', but that mystery just makes it even more exciting.)

(Can we continue making bad jokes about food? Yes we can!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Important points to consider

In order to be sympathetic or empathetic you have to start off being pathetic.

If you want to be compassionate, you have to begin by being passionate.

It's probably better to be tautological than oxymoronic. Being logical is better than being moronic.

I really don't know which is better, a colonic or a semi-colonic. But it's probably best to avoid both of them.

But as for choosing between Labor and Liberal? That depends on your feelings. Would you rather start off being Abor or Iberal? No, I don't know either.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Inclusive and happy song for colour-blind people

Grey and greyer and very dark grey
Light grey and white-grey and grey!
I can sing a rainbow!
Sing a rainbow!
Sing a rainbow too!

Listen with your eyes!
Listen with your eyes!
And sing every shade of grey you see!
Then you can sing a rainbow!
Sing a rainbow!
Sing a rainbow with me!

(To be sung in a monochrome monotone)

Culture jamming

Sometimes, if I have a tub of natural unflavoured yoghurt, and I want to make it sweet, I put some dark cherry jam in it and mix it all up.

What sort of culture jamming have you got up to lately?

Somebody send for the Zeppelin man!

I got my brother a birthday-present DVD of 20 Buck Rogers' short films from the 1930s on the weekend, and had a chance to watch some of them last night. They're pretty good, one of the best birthday presents I've never got, in fact. I have an uncanny knack of selecting fabulous birthday presents for myself and then giving them to other members of my family - good policy when I'm living in the same house with them, not so good when I'm living a thousand kilometres away.

So apparently Buck Rogers is a zeppelin pilot who crashes his vessel and is sent into suspended animation at the last moment - his buddy, helpfully named Buddy, turns on the magical suspended animation gas, and there you go. Five centuries later, they are dragged out of their zeppelin by dudes in weird suits with lasers, and made prisoners. Buck is unphased by this, apart from a brief commentary on the costumes: "What sort of uniforms are you wearing?"

They then noodle along in a rocket into a mountain that apparently doubles up as a garage door, and are taken into a hidden city helpfully named The Hidden City. They get shown this footage of an evil dictator, thoughtfully named Killer Kane, putting Amnesia Helmets on the people of the world (every evil dictator needs an Amnesia Helmet to turn the populace into robotic slaves, don't you know). For some reason, Buck's knowledge as a zeppelin pilot turns out to be just the qualification he needs to pilot a rocket ship, and... well, that's just the start of many adventures.

In Episode Two, they find themselves caught on the surface of Saturn, being hunted by Kane's men, and they are captured by an army of Zogs and taken into the caves below. This episode also has the dodgiest cliffhanger ever:

HIDDEN CITY GUY 1: That's one of Kane's ships! But how could he have found the Hidden City?

HIDDEN CITY GUY 2: He must have caught Buck and got the location out of him.

HIDDEN CITY GUY 1: Send to them on our secret radio frequency, quick!

(CUT TO: Onboard the rocket ship)

BUCK: It's a pity our radio isn't working!

WILMA: That's okay, I know the way to the Hidden City...

Episode 3, Buck and Buddy go undercover in Killer Kane's city to kidnap the Prince of Saturn who has come to sign a peace treaty with Kane and his men (they tell him 'Kane is a peaceful and just ruler' and he falls for it, you see.) After they get hold of the kid, they show him video footage of Kane's Amnesia Helmets, and he's dead against the peace treaty. Diplomacy, it's tough all right!

That's about all I saw last night. Pretty good I reckon. Here's just a few indisputable facts I learned from watching Buck Rogers last night:

- Piloting a zeppelin looks really good on your resume in the 25th century

- Radio reception is astonishingly good on Saturn. You can breathe there pretty well, as well.

- Amnesia Helmets - every responsible parent needs one!

- Lasers can do just about anything. Shoot Zogs, open doors that are jammed, bugger up the enemies radio reception, power underground space rail lines once the electricity has been cut off...

Now I'll just have to arrange for myself to go down for Christmas so I can see the rest...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our new marketing scheme is nuts, not to mention cashews

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) on Friday launches a responsible children's marketing initiative, under which manufacturers will vow not to advertise products to children unless they promote a healthy diet and lifestyle. - The Age
Suggested ad slogans for the AFGC's 'responsible children's marketing initative'

Only cool kids eat spinach bars!
Only cool kids eat spinach bars!
Only cool kids eat spinach bars -
They make you big and strong!

Join with us! Eat VIRTUE CHIPS! It's chips for kids who don't want to be fat!

(Accompanied by hypnotic spinning and flashing televisual mandalas, a la Vertigo )
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!
Eaaaaaaaaaaaaat Broccoli!

Freddo Frogs! Now with 100 per cent less chocolate, 60 per cent more cauliflower, and 110 per cent more goodness!

Beans, beans, the musical fruit!
The more you eat, the better you spell!

Beans, beans, the musical fruit!
The more you eat, the nicer to one another you are!

Join with us! Eat VIRTUE CHIPS! For kids who want to be part of the group!

Please eat your carrot, kids! Don't make us pay you!

Subversive plus permissive equals submissive!

Subversively non-subversive!
A cutting edge international comedian conformed to bourgeois expectations by subverting them yesterday in his one man show!

The comedian, who refuses to be named except by his first and last titles, is just one of many exciting international comedians and artists to be in Melbourne in the coming weeks, all of who promise to subvert bourgeois expectations in unexpectedly expected ways. It's all part of the MELBOURNE SCRINGE FESTIVAL! (Disclosure: this paper has nothing to do with the Melbourne Scringe Festival, apart from being a major sponsor.)

Excitedly anticipating excited anticipation!
And this year's Melbourne Scringe Festival has been greeted with excited anticipation by those people who normally excitedly anticipate such events!

MARIE, 42, works at an inner-city bookshop, selling books written by middle-aged inner-city dwelling people to other middle-aged inner-city dwelling people about the narrow, inward-looking bourgeious world view shared by middle-aged inner-city dwelling people. "I love the Melbourne Scringe Festival," says Marie. "I really look forward to having my narrow, inward-looking bourgeois world-view shattered this year, just as happens to me every year."

ROD, 45, owns and runs a busy cafe on Lygon Street, Carlton, but feels guilty about it. He says of the coming Scringe Festival: "Finally, my conservative world-view will be confronted and subverted. I feel comforted by this."

COLLETTE, 33, runs a clinic in St Kilda for recovering bogans. "It's about time I was taken out of my staid old life and introduced into the vibrant, cosmopolitan world of modern art," she says. "Thank you, Melbourne Scringe."

Events that may or may not happen!
Just some of the acts at this year's Scringe:

REN TODGE is an internationally respected artist, from one side of Fitzroy to the other! He specialises in subtly exaggerated stereotypes of bogans he grew up with. "It's not racist," he cries, "because I am a bogan!"Ren Todge's cutting-edge conformist comedy is sure to make a hit on the Melbourne stage again at this festival!

DANNY MUDDLE's comedy is like no other. Muddle's startlingly original act consists of performing left-wing stereotypes of right-wing politicians before a left-wing audience; by mocking people of different races, subversively. As one reviewer says, in reviewing his show, "If it wasn't subversive, it would be offensive!"

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