Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cranky panky

Saw Sweeney Todd on the weekend.

The film contains ten scowls, four glowers, seven leers, fourteen grimaces, and numerous sneers; there's rancid fog, rivers of blood, a hellish below-ground furnace, a number of charnel scenes, and - worst of all - Broadway showtunes. The art and set design and costumes and look is fabulous, but the general tone is black. (Not entirely true: some of the characters have their grey moments, too).

The typical scene goes something like this: Sweeney Todd philosophically sings a mournful little song under a black sky while cheerlessly slitting the throat of his latest, understandably dour-faced, customer, perhaps reflecting gloomfully upon the wicked state of the world.

Apart from that, it's all a bit of a downer.

In unrelated news, my hair's getting a bit long, but I'm thinking twice about having a haircut...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday night question

Or, not a good saying

Why does the saying 'it goes without saying', and the 'it' that 'goes without saying' never actually go without saying?

Does the answer to this go without saying? Or could it actually be said that the thing that is said to 'go without saying' must actually go with some saying, so that to say 'it goes without saying' is to say something false - or, that is, to lie?

What is the answer? Can you say it without going 'it goes without saying'?

Quick, tell me! Before a roaming grammar hoodie splits my infinitive!

Monday, January 28, 2008

A discourse on a discursive matter

'Love' is a word that various poets have made various rhymes with, such as 'above', 'shove', 'gov', 'turtle dove', and 'for the purposes of protection from radiation you are legally required to wear this lead-lined glove'. These rhymes have been used with more-or-less equal frequency, though my personal favourite is the 'glove' thingy.

Poets have been endlessly talking about 'love's morn', and 'love's dawn', and 'a love that mourns', and 'lovelorn', and 'like a happy little gambolling fawn', and 'love that is like a sheep shorn', and 'love gone', and even 'jewellery is something that I love to adorn', although that last one is a bit suspect. Yes: if you are a poet, you could do worse than talk about love.

But, to get to my point. My point is this: love is something that has appeared in various contexts in various poetic traditions for centuries. Aside from my point, there are lots of other things to say about love. What good is it? What do you do when you fall in love, and is it all right if you romantically fall in love with an apple pie rather than a person? If not, why not, according to what philosophy, what are the arguments for and against, and would it be all right to do it with a sweet Lebanese pastry instead?

At the moment, I'm reading Philip Sidney's Arcadia, a comedy of love and lust written in Elizabethan times. It's full of insights into the Elizabethan conception of love - courtly love, romantic love, love of family and love of friends. I can't help but be struck as to how different it is to modern conceptions of love, or lack thereof. Let's do a little compare and contrast, shall we?

Elizabethan LoveModern Love
On falling in loveAll sorts of dramatic similes are used - 'pierced with Cupid's bow', 'struck with glistering beams from her eyen', 'Your eyes do slay me', etc.
Frequently, modern couples skip this bit, as well as anything else that is inconvenient - marriage, commitment, children, etc. (Sarah Silverman: "I want to get an abortion - but my boyfriend is having trouble getting me pregnant.") For the term 'love', substitute 'lust'.
On meeting your loverOne good way is to dress yourself up in the clothes of the opposite sex (like Pyrocles in Arcadia, or Viola in Shakespeare's 12th Night)
Pick up lines! (eg, "The voices in my head told me to come over and talk to you", "So, you're a girl, huh?")
CourtshipFrequently involving flowers, unlikely speeches to one another that come out as sonnets ("If I profane with my unworthiest hand/ This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this..." etc, Romeo and Juliet)
Courtship? Something that happens either during tennis or after the divorce.
Revealing your true desires to the one you long afterFrequently done in song, or verses written in some obscure Grecian form, such as Iambic Pentameter, Trenchant Heptameter, or Galloping Archaics.
People exchange phone numbers, in order to reveal their true feelings through an expansive poetic form called 'TXT messages'. Phone numbers can also be exchanged as an agreement not to communicate (eg, "As an empty courtesy, here's my phone number. Let's not turn this beautiful one-night stand into a horrible long-lasting relationship.")

So what's better: Elizabethan love or modern love? I have no idea, but is there any of that apple pie left? I have a sonnet that I wanted to read out to it...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cleaning products

Words that have also been used for cleaning products
Cold Power
Mister Sheen
Toilet Duck

Words that might also be used for cleaning products but have not as yet been used in that way
Mistress Veneer
Sewerage Goose

Words that probably will not be used as cleaning products at any time in the foreseeable future, although you never know
Table Mole
Toilet Badger
Mister Fester

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can I have my double entendre quadrupled, please?

When I was travelling in America, I'd piss myself laughing everytime I saw an ad for a 'Presidential Doodle' exhibition, or a bag of Cheez Doodles.

Well, you'd never have thought it, but the Americans have been bested in their own double-entendre efforts by the British. By no other institution than a church charity...
Oodles of Doodles

This year we are going for a very 'handmade' look, and as part of the design we want to illustrate the gospels with doodles from students, supporters, Relay Workers and Staff Workers so we still need your help!
People are urged to 'submit your doodle', 'choose a concept and get doodling', and asks of readers, 'Why not spend 10 minutes of one CU meeting getting everyone to have a go at a doodle?'

I got this news from the very funny Dave, who nevertheless fails to note the rather, um, important double entendre. Guess only Australians get that particular item of vernacular, then.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bon wot

Douglas Adams said in Life, the Universe, and Everything that the secret to flying was throwing yourself at the ground and missing it. Well, I've just discovered that the secret to happiness is similar. It's putting some chocolate peppermint biscuits in the fridge, then forgetting to remember them, then finding them in the fridge later and remembering that you had forgotten them. Bliss!

Are you all seated uncomfortably? Good! We won't begin!

The Bulletin closing down! A pointless, gossipy media post...

Australia’s longest-running magazine, The Bulletin, has been shut down, ending its 128-year history.

The magazine’s publisher ACP Magazines - part of the PBL Media empire part-owned by James Packer - announced this morning that the edition of The Bulletin that went on sale yesterday would be its last.

ACP chief executive Scott Lorson blamed the closure of recent circulation figures of 57,039 - about half the sales from the mid-1990s - and “the impact of the internet” on the magazine’s demise.
I got this story from LP, where there's a decent conversation going about the whole thing. It seems Australia's longest-running current affairs magazine - almost the only one, in fact - The Bulletin is closing down. It's been losing revenue for years, and the owners have decided that it's time to do away with it for good.

Sad news, obviously, but I can't help but wonder what Tim Blair might have to say about this. Blair was a freelance contributor to The Bulletin, and then assistant editor, for a period of several years. When I first started reading his blog, maybe in late 2001, he was associated with the magazine, and he only broke that association off in 2007, to take up a job as opinions editor at the Daily Telegraph. After Blair left, he made a few posts alluding to staffing and organisation troubles at The Bulletin, like this one, where he runs a snippet from a news item about the magazine, and notes that 'The place ain't happy, for lots of reasons.'

I can't help but wondering if he'd guessed, beforehand, that the magazine wasn't going to last much longer. He'd have a few interesting things to say about the whole affair, being one of the few Aussie bloggers with an insider perspective from mainstream media. His ongoing opinion column ('The Continuing Crisis') always struck me as being rather quixotic and eccentric for a staid publication like The Bulletin, running things like a Mark Latham board game. Maybe it makes a bit better sense if seen as a kind of last hurrah. (I'm being a bit speculative here.) Blair's in hospital recovering from a bowel cancer operation (get well soon, Tim!). Maybe he'll have something to offer when he gets out.

Anyway, head on over to LP, where the conversation is centring around the reasons for closure, and some interesting comparisons are being made to US and net-only publications. Or not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Big poo sham

I went to the supermarket to get shampoo today. Why is that every time I go to get shampoo to shampoo my hair, I can't just get ordinary shampoo? There's shampoo that is redolent of the rose, and shampoo that leaves my hair blushing and tinctured with a faint odour of a Bavarian forest in the morn, and shampoo that leaves my hair with the bounce of a new-born fawn, and shampoo that is like a field of hollyhock, clover, and jonquils newly bloomed. Some shampoos trumpet their chemical virtues, insisting that they contain carbolic acid (that nourishes!), and hydraulic acid (from the roots to the tips!), or diesel (encouraging new, stronger, virile and masculine hair!) Others are made from all natural ingredients: the tears of a duck, freshly wept, and rubbed across the cheeks of a blushing Navaho babe, before being gently dissolved through the new-plucked hairs of a mountain goats gonads (for instance). Then, as if to go one better, there are the shampoos that trumpet their environmental virtues. This bottle is kind to the whales, another saves rainforests, a third nourishes the soil in fringe desert communities (though it's not clear whether all this happens before, after, or during the shampoo is in your hair. Maybe it doesn't do your hair at all.) And this is not to mention at all the line of budget shampoos, the shampoos which 'get in, do the job, and get out, fast!', shampoos with names like 'Wham' and 'Slam' and 'Clam', punctuated liberally with exclamation marks and barcodes and made of essence of cardboard. (They leave a cute little barcode tattooed neatly across your hair after you have showered.)

I tell you, the collective malodour of unguents and chemicals and horse dung and commerce rising from the supermarket shelf would have been enough on their own to give me a massive stomach ache. Thankfully, I'd anticipated this and already earlier in the day from a late lunch, but it was a close one, Jeeves, a very close one.

And while we're at it, on a completely unrelated subject, what happened to the old magazine stand at Flinders Street Station? Time was a discerning traveller could collect a copy of The Spectator or the New Yorker or an interesting new science magazine from it. Nowadays, all that's gone, and all you have is a load of crap, neatly filed away under helpful meaningless titles such as Untertainment, General Disinterest, and Weakly Publications.

I ask you, what is this world coming to?

Tuesday morning objectification of puffins!

Good morning, and welcome to the final and penultimate installment in what has been an ongoing series and a one-off post, 'Tuesday morning objectification of puffins!' This morning, we have a wide array of puffins to look at as if they were objects, so let's get right into it!

Here's a puffin who doesn't object to being objectified as an object. Far from objecting to his ultimate objectification, this puffin has made aforementioned objectification his objective object. And who are we to object?

Two saucy puffins pause in a tantalising shape that looks just like some puffins, causing us all to think puffin-like thoughts! How about that?

PUFFIN 1: I say, I say, I say. What did one puffin say to another puffin?

PUFFIN 2: I say, I don't know what he said!

PUFFIN 1: I say! That's exactly what he did say!

PUFFIN 2: I say!

(Puffins somewhat unsuccessfully attempt to break out of this objectification and turn themselves into postmodern subjects)

Various puffins engaging in various puffin activities, such as sitting, making puffin noises, or singing the Kalevala.

Puffins, puffins, puffins, puffins, puffins, and some rocks!

To sum up, here is a picture of the Queen, who is not a puffin, but, more importantly, not a subject either.

THE QUEEN: (In a cantankerous queenly voice) I am not a subject.

Thank you for attending this penultimate puffin post. Go off and do other Tuesday morning things now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Existential despair

I burnt my croissant this morning.

UPDATE! - Necessity is the mother of invention. I had some toast instead. With honey, no less!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Conan the Annoyer

There's something fundamentally ambiguous about Arnie Schwarzenegger's acting. No matter what movie he's in, no matter what scene he's in, he always wears the same, slightly stunned expression on his face. Lines are delivered in a lumbering, leaden style so that it's impossible to tell what emotion or idea Arnie's trying to convey, really. The other night on Sleek Geeks, Adam Spencer and Karl Kruzelnizcki* played some footage from Junior, labelling one expression on his face 'happy', and another expression 'sad'. "Right there, you see the entire range of Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting", they declared. Actually, you couldn't even say for certain whether he was happy or sad in either of the camera shots: he just wore slightly different scowls on his face.

But whatever movie he's in, Arnie delivers - even if you're not sure what he's delivering**. His most famous role was in the Terminator films, where he played an emotionless robot - a pretty canny choice considering his acting style. But he's also, pretty successfully, made fun of himself. In Junior, this is obvious. In another film he was apparently considering playing the tooth fairy. And then there was that Danny de Vito mistake, but the less said about that the better.

Truth is, his films really start to blend in to one another after a while; they're just Arnie films. I've just been watching Conan the Destroyer, where Arnie plays a roaming sword-toting thief. Though the film might just as well have been called Conan the Barbarian (which it's sequel to) or Conan the Cimmerian or whatever, since the impression it leaves afterwards is more or less the same impression you'd get as if you'd been watching any other Conan film that has been made, or might be made, or isn't going to be made, or is made in the wet dreams of comic book geeks the world over.

So anyway, Destroyer starts off with Conan being attacked in some desert by warriors (you can tell they're bad because they're wearing spiky armour). Conan beats them off, at which point the last of the warriors lifts their helmet, announces that they are Queen Taramis (or Taranis, or Tamara, or something) and they have a job for Conan. (As job interviews go, I've seen worse.) Once they're all back at her palace, Taramis or Taranis or Tamara tells Conan that she wants him to go and steal a jewel or diamond or what-not, taking with him a virgin princess (it's very important that he's accompanied by a virgin princess, apparently). After they've stolen a jewel/diamond/what-not, they have to go somewhere else and steal a jewelled horn, at which point they come back, place this jewelled horn in the head of a statue of some God or other, and everything will be right. Or something. I didn't pay too much attention to the details here, but rest assured that the Queen will attempt to take over the world, the God turns out to be some sort of demon, the virgin princess is almost but not quite sacrificed, on a stone altar, no less***, and that Conan manages through some impressive sword play to save the day. And the world.

It's the perfect movie for Arnie the actor, in that the only thing the directors ask of him is to be present in a number of shots, and not present in a number of other shots. He does a bit of leaping around and swinging a sword around in an impressive fashion. At one point, Taramis tells him to 'think', and a troubled expression comes on his face. Elsewhere, she goes to the trouble of describing his emotions - "You are afraid!" - which is quite helpful, really, because you wouldn't be able to tell anything from the expression on his face. He also shares some entertaining dialogue with the virgin princess Jehna (or Tiena, or Jeana, or Jane, or some such):

JEHNA: Tell me if it hurts. But then, I imagine nothing hurts you.

CONAN: Only pain.

(It's worthwhile remembering that Arnie speaks like this in real life, too. He's famously remembered for his succint statement of Republican Party policy a few years ago: "I think gay marriage should be something between a man and a woman.")

But then, there are whole scenes in which dialogue is not required at all. There's a lot of hammy posing, and perfunctory sword fights, and the odd demon appearing on the scene (well, two to be precise.) For the most part, the characters confine themselves to the occasional exhortation to 'Look!'; the odd bit of fearful muttering, or magical gibbering; the occasional battle howl. The only words with more than two syllables are the exotic cognomens given to some of the characters and places. Conan is forever mooning about Valeria, or Valaria, or Balaria, or Malaria, or some such. There's a character called Bombata, or Bombala, or Blablabla, or whatever. I wouldn't know. When you do get real dialogue (one of the better examples is given above), the effect is positively Shakespearean. (And the closing words about how Conan eventually became a king and "Wore a crown upon a troubled brow" are rhetorically quite wonderful.)

And I loved every minute of Destroyer. It really is a beautiful film, a kind of bizarre fantasy about a past, pre-civilised world populated by Cimmerians and Shadazarians and just about every other variety of human. There are grand Hittite-style palaces, and lush sort-of European forests, and vast kind-of African deserts, and underworld-inhabiting cults, and a palace of mirrors, and gigantic eagles of smoke. The music (by Basil Poledouris, no less!) is some kind of bizarre pastiche-western-fantasy thingo. Oh, and then there are the guys in spiked armour. I love the spiked armour.

I wholeheartedly recommend Conan the Destroyer as the perfect film to enjoy if you don't have anything else to enjoy at the present time. (Also the perfect film for distracting you when you really should be doing something else, as I found out this morning...)

*I don't know if that's how his name is really spelled and I couldn't be bothered checking.

** Except for Junior, of course, where he delivered a baby from his body.

*** Lovingly fashioned for the occasion by Squibbles Sacrificial Altars, Tables and Associated Occult Items, LTD.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An incompleat hiftory of wonderful thingf

Anatolian languages, the
Bowler hats
Bow ties
Doberman Pinschers
Early spring
Hildegard von Bingen
Jarlsberg cheese
Lambton worms
Yawps, barbaric or otherwise

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ecological transport

Uncycle (n.)
1) Just like a bicycle, except without any wheels.

2) The next logical step down from a unicycle.

(Slightly more walking may be involved than is usual with bicycles).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bloody Johnson

It's very simple. The amount of work we do at work is dependent upon the amount of work arriving in at work for us to work on. At the moment, we're not getting much work at work, which means that we fill the time in at work by not doing much work. Or, to put it another way, we spend our time at work mostly sitting around and surfing the internet, in a productive manner, obviously. Key duties to filling this important task include: staring off into space, swivelling chairs around, lowering the self-same chairs down and raising them up, and banging hands noisily upon keyboards when people walk by.

Lately, though, I must confess that I've been taking part in completely trivial and frivolous activities. Like a beast, I've been wasting my time at work in reading books by Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding online. I've started with the collected essays of Johnson, and then, like a slob, I've turned to the ultimate degradation: the collected plays of Fielding.

It's terrible, I know. I'm almost too ashamed to admit to it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whenever you say "I don't believe in fairy bread", a fairy bread maker DIES

Well, today I am pleased to say that I was a proud attendee at "International Fairy Bread Appreciation Day". My attendance at this event was somewhat aided by the fact that it was a largely notional event with no set location, based around a particular internet site. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable occasion, full of laughter, of tears, and of reminiscences of experiences that we have all (well, me anyway) had with fairy bread.

Fairy bread has, of course, inspired many great debates, disputes, and events throughout history. Well has it been said that "man may not live by fairy bread alone." However, it has also been said, "give us this day our daily fairy bread." The preparation of fairy bread is, of course, a difficult process, involving at its simplest level (which also happens to be its most complex level) the smearing of a piece of bread with margarine or butter, following which a number of hundreds and thousands are sprinkled on this bread. One principal difficulty encountered by the many famed chefs of fairy bread over the centuries has been linguistic: namely, are there really 'hundreds and thousands' of hundreds and thousands in the bottle of hundreds and thousands to be found at the supermarket, or just a lot of them? Also problematic is the arrangement of the hundreds and thousands upon the slice of bread. Some chefs favour a stochastic method for arranging the hundreds and thousands upon the bread - ie, they just throw it on Any Old How. However, others prefer to arrange the hundreds and thousands into colourful shapes and spirals and curlicues. Some Tibetan fairy bread chefs have even been known to organise the hundreds and thousands, piece by piece, into a kind of "fairy bread mandala". Others disagree with this method.

There are many variations on the basic fairy bread theme. French fairy bread, for instance, sold in any good French boulangerie, consists of basic French rolls, covered with good French butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands (or, in the French language, 'hundreds e thousands'). In some cases, camembert or a local cheese is substituted for the butter. Italian fairy bread, on the other hand, is made on a pizza dough.

To mark the important and festive occasion that was "International Fairy Bread Appreciation Day", I consumed three slices of fairy bread. A few short notes on each slice follows.

While not an entirely successful rendition of the concept of 'fairy bread', the first slice nevertheless managed to fulfill all of the requirements adequately. The butter was covered well, and the hundreds and thousands were spread decently over the bread. There was a gap in one corner of the bread where there weren't that many hundreds and thousands, but nothing is perfect. And it has to be said that I had to restrain myself from shuddering with pleasure as I raised the slice to my lips, and enclosed them around this heavenly slice, this manna from heaven! Blessings and benedictions to the person who first invented this delicious meal!

A light and zesty slice of fairy bread shortly followed the first 'course', in which I took a decidedly minimalist approach to the concept. That is, I made the fairy bread with less butter and less hundreds and thousands (although not less bread, that would be ridiculous.) Although this resulted in the hundreds and thousands being spread somewhat sparsely, I discovered that they lingered on my palate, leaving it full of a bouquet of flavours. To paraphase that popular television show The Simpsons, "It's like there's a party in my mouth, and everyone's invited!"

I rested for a time between the creation and consumption of the second slice of fairy bread and the creation and consumption of the third slice, or 'course'. Thus it was after a period of relaxation and meditation that I returned to the duty of fairy bread cooking, full of renewed vigour and creativity. This time, I decided to return to the classics, generously slapping on the butter and creating vast mountains of hundreds and thousands: curlicues of colour! I was richly rewarded for my final outburst of artistic inspiration: for, the moment the bread touched my tongue, I swooned for happiness. O the glory and grandeur that is Rome! O the wonder of fairy bread!

- What type of bread is best used for making fairy bread? White slice, wholemeal slice, or other?

- It has been suggested by certain mathematicians and bon vivants that lately, the number of yellow hundreds and thousands available in a bottle of hundreds and thousands has been declining rapidly. What are your observations? Why might this be so?

Fairy bread. Eat it.

How to tell if your work colleague is a Care Bear

After writing that last post, I got thinking. How can you tell if your work colleague actually is a Care Bear? In this open, modern society we work with all sorts of people, animals, and things, some of which are bound to be small brightly-coloured animals with a penchant for singing happy songs and performing acts of magic. And, while there is certainly nothing wrong with working in close quarters with a Care Bear, it would be interesting to know the numbers behind it. To that end, I have devised a short survey. To wit...

Part 1 (Multiple choice)

1. in the morning, when your colleague arrives at work, they...
a) Slouch wearily towards the kitchen, muttering to themselves as they stumble into every chair in the office on their way.
b) Greet you with a wild glare of their bloodshot eyes, and sheer, 'At lunch, you will DIE!' at you.
c) Cry happily and rush around the office, kissing everybody/piece of furniture/random object in their way.
d) Skip merrily towards their desk, and lovingly greet each and every one of their clients over the phone.

2. Another colleague is becoming difficult to work with. The suspected Care Bear colleague...
a) Does not raise a fuss, as they are sleeping on their keyboard.
b) Sends them death threats over the office email system, every minute or so.
c) Is not bothered, as they are busy staring at the ceiling, screaming, "I can sing a rainbow!"
d) Cheerily gets on with their work in a productive and efficient manner.

3. You swear over the photocopier, causing your colleague to...
a) Drool on their keyboard.
b) Raise their fingers into a pistol position, poiint them at you, and click.
c) Begin eating their computer.
d) Dance around the office, singing "Everyone has feelings! Feelings are okay!" while magical animated flowers bloom and plastic birds fly around them.

4. When greeting an important client in person, your colleague...
a) Barely opens their eyes, mutters incomprehensibly, scratches their bottom, and perhaps blows their nose on the clients coat.
b) Does a Ted Bundy impersonation.
c) Tries to fly out the window, shouting, "I can fly! Really! I can fly!"
d) Cries, "My innards are made out of polystyrene! How may we help you?"

5. In work meetings, they meet all disputes by...
a) Taping their eyes open and gluing their face into an interested position.
b) Bringing out the battle axes.
c) Depends - it alternates between them weeping softly and cooing like a baby whenever they catch sight of the painting on the wall opposite.
d) Radiating happy rainbows out of their tummy until everyone at the meeting agrees to donate all their savings to a charity for third-world orphaned chimneysweep puppies.

Part 2 (What statement is your client likely to make in any given situation?)
1) You'll never get away with this... a) ... after all, you're just a lousy part-time administrative assistant, and I'm the PR manager!

b) ... you big, bad Professor Coldheart!
2) It's never too late if you... a) ... do all the accounting correctly!

b) ... care enough!
3) Thanks to you, we have just lost this client!a) You're FIRED!

b) Let's HUG!
4) If anyone requires me after hours, I can be contacted at... a) My email address, or my mobile number, which are as follows ...

b) ... Careland, Cloud Five, just over from Fluffy Bunny World!
5) Although my brains are made out of recycled styrofoam... a) I promise to be extra-specially efficient in my job!

b) I still love you!


MOSTLY A's: Your colleague is definitely not a Care Bear. They could probably do with a bit more coffee, though.

MOSTLY B's: Again, probably not a Care Bear. Your colleague is clearly within the normal range of human behaviour, and you have nothing to worry about. Apart from the death threats and the constant fear, of course.

MOSTLY C's: This one's a little ambiguous: your colleague is either very, very, very high on hallucinogenic drugs, or a very, very, very depressed Care Bear. Either way, it should make for a fun and amusing working environment!

MOSTLY D's: Definitely Care Bear territory, which is cool, unless you possess any of the qualities of A, B, or C, above.


MOSTLY A's: Not Care Bear at all. Just sadly, sickeningly dedicated to their job.

MOSTLY B's: A Care Bear. Did I hear you say it was time to start looking for a new job?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A glare bear

I've come to the conclusion that one of my co-workers is a Care Bear.

This is not a good thing. Everytime I stumble, bleary-eyed, into the office, there she is on the phone chirruping greetings to some client or other. I barely have a minute every morning to enjoy my own cantankerousness when she's not warbling over the phone to somebody who might be of some importance to some drivelling cretin in accounts. She can't be as happy as she sounds - nobody could be as happy as she sounds.

What can I do to escape this relentless cheer, this assault of niceness, this barrage of bland?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Anagrams I have encountered recently

tram/ mart
connex/ xen con
foaling/ loafing
tops/ spot
creeds/ screed

Gritty realism

Sometimes when I am walking down the street and picking my nose and a police car drives past, I feel as though they're going to finally throw me in the slammer and lock me up for good.

I also get worried if the same thing happens and I'm

- Scratching my bum
- Picking my teeth
- Wearing a shirt that isn't tucked in
- Chewing my fingernails
- Cleaning out my ear.

And yet, if a police officer did the same thing and got taken to the courts, all that would result would be a long-drawn out court case followed by a slap over the wrist, and/or a meaningless political inquiry into the inner workings of the Victorian police force.

We live in a fallen world.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Grymnal

All things grey or grimy,
All chunders great and small!
All things snotty, slimy -
The Lord God made them all!

Snails with their slimy trails -
And Tiger Cobras' tongues -
And vicious rats with whip-like tails -
And elephantine dung!

All things mean and horrible,
All mucous great and small:
All things really terrible -
The Lord God made them all!

Flies that get in your tea -
And microscopic germs -
And tiny fleas that spread disease -
And parasitic worms!

All things low and nasty,
All terrors great and small -
All floods and files disasterous -
The Lord God made them all!


Politically committed reviews of children's shows #1

Postman Pat
Well, those who want an example of the corruption of the public service under the government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown need look no further than the Postman Pat. Ostensibly an innocent character who drives around the sunny northern English town of Greendale with his black-and-white cat, Jess, Pat is in fact a corrupt bureaucrat forever take unproductive cups of tea with Mrs Goggins. (As we never see Mr Goggins, we have to assume that she is divorced, and has contributed to the shocking breakdown of the family under the eye of Prime Minister Blair.)

While Pat's friendliness with the village vicar, and his general commitment to community and the English Way of Life is to be commended, it is clear that not all is well in the British Postal Services. The Tory Party hereby calls for an inquiry into the idle, thriftless activities of Pat, the amount of public funds that go into the making of his cups of tea, and his fraternising with decadent characters such as the unmarried Goggins woman. (We also have concerns that Jess may be eating the British red squirrel, but we'll let that slide for the moment.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hapless new year

Monday was the old year, and Tuesday was the New Year - that's pretty obvious. But when does the new year become the old year? Are there transitional stages during which the new year gradually turns into the old year, or does the new year suddenly become the old year, perhaps with a loud bang or puff of smoke? Is there a day on which we can see 'Happy not-quite New Year' or 'Happy Three-Days Older than a New Year'?

Come to think of it, at what point can we say that the well-wishing of a 'Happy New Year' is no longer true or viable? If your hand dropped off in the middle of New Year's Day, it would be a little annoying, true, but not really significant of any ongoing trends. But if, on the day after, when both their hand had dropped off and a steam train had collided with their house, then that would be a real bummer; and wishing them a 'Happy New Year' would seem to be a singularly inappropriate and insensitive gesture on your part.

It's a real head-scratcher, it is.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fleas, please

Unlike any other species of flea which has been cultured successfully Spilopsyllus cumculi (Dale) is entirely dependent for its own reproduction upon its host becoming pregnant.... The ovaries of fleas kept on male or non-pregnant female rabbits remain immature whereas those on a pregnant host are mature at the time of parturition. Vitellogenesis commences at a critical point approximately 7 days pre-partum, irrespective of how long the fleas have been on the host. It is postulated that a factor required by the flea for ovarian development is only available during the final week of pregnancy, and not at all in male or non-pregnant rabbits. The factor disappears from the adult after parturition but is present in her nestlings for at least 7 days.

Pregnant rabbits have rabbit fleas
On their backs to bite 'em;
And rabbit pups have baby fleas -
And so on, ad infinitum.

(Okay. So I know Jonathan Swift's version is better, but still, do you know how hard it is to rhyme Spilopsyllus cumculi with anything?)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The diet to end all diets

Happy New Year everybody! This year, many people will be making a resolution to be eating healthier and better and more environmentally friendly foods, and I'd like to kick things off by suggesting several such foods for your consumption.

Pavlova and ice-cream: just two healthy foods to be eaten on a regular basis.

Pavlova is an excellent staple diet food that provides all your body will need in protein. It is non-fattening and many scientific studies have shown that it has an excellent effect on the development of the brain. For this reason, it should be fed to babies as soon as it is possible. If necessary, it can be turned into a mush and fed to them with their baby food.

Chocolate is another excellent food, with guaranteed slimming effects. It is a well known fact that Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Kathryn Hepburn, and many other famous beauties of stage and screen ate chocolate all the time. If you want to be like them, then a few bars of chocolate every meal is a great start.

For those environmentally-conscious sorts looking for a meal that is satisfying to eat, has minimal impact on the environment, and also is good for your health, I recommend sticky-date pudding with caramel sauce. These days, all sticky date puddings are grown on free-range pudding farms, lovingly tendered and nurtured until they reach the right size for eating. Furthermore, many studies have demonstrated that people who have half a sticky-date pudding for breakfast every morning greatly reduce their risk of coronary disease and memory loss amongst older people. Also, sticky-date pudding prevents cancer.

Ice-cream is now considered by many nutritionists to be a necessary supplement to any healthy diet. It has been shown to have many positive effects on human health. People who regularly eat ice-cream have less colds or flu and also are more likely to be more hard-working and early risers.

For those people who have tried everything else, and just can't seem to get their weight down, perhaps they could turn to pies. Pies have indeed been found to be a wonder food, not only helping people to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet but greatly aiding in their slimming. As a matter of fact, many modern movie stars, such as Nicole Kidman and Jonny Depp, eat nothing but pies.

It will, of course, be necessary to control your fluid intake as well. Thankfully, there are many drinks on the market today with proven benefits for your health and for the environment as well, including milkshakes, beer, vodka, honeyed mead, butterscotch schnapps, triple macchiato, absinthe, coke spiders, and laudanum. Drink regularly in combination with any of the suggested meals above, and soon you will be on your way to health, wealth, and beauty!

FINALLY: Why not plan your meals with a 'diet timetable', updated week by week? Here is an example



Coke spider



Triple macchiato
Sticky date pudding






Butterscotch schnapps

Honeyed mead


Coke spider


Coke spider




Triple macchiato

Butterscotch schnaps

Soon you will be laughing at all those poor fools grimacing over their prune juice and frowning over their soya cereals as you eat your way to a happier, healthier, more environmentally-friendly you!
Email: timhtrain - at -

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