Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sports I could get into

Mountain sitting
Fruit bowling
Cardboard boxing
Indoor track and field
Synchronised snoring.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Against the hill

A hill is a difficult and annoying thing to climb: this is what I was meditating as I climbed a very tall, very steep hill yesterday afternoon. Perhaps, if I had been younger, I would have found the climbing of the hill slightly less difficult and annoying, but it still would have been exceedingly difficult and annoying thing to do. I do not, as a rule, like hills.

Some might say that the hill should never have been invented. I don't know about that. I treat hills as a fact of nature, and the facts of nature are often difficult and annoying. I have been lucky, myself, to grow up in an exceedingly flat country that presents no surprises, hill wise. Balranald was on the Hay Plains, an accurate name in more ways than one, but at least it never possessed any of those frustratingly uneven and lumpy bits of ground that necessitate the sweaty climbing up one side and undignified hurtling down the other.

Some might maintain, in defence of the hill, that the adventure in climbing to the top is rewarded by the view attained once reaching the top. However, it must be pointed out that that view would be so much easier and more readily seen if the hill was not there in the first place: it obstructs rather than makes available a view. The invention of that man made hill, the skyscraper, at least represents a slight improvement on the natural contours of the geographic hill, thrown up as some kind of geological razzamatazz, the fancy of some preposterous and mad god. Thanks to those handy little glassy holes in skyscrapers, you are able to see into, if not right through, them: they've got that one up on their natural hilly counterparts.

Why do we have hills at all, though? Life would certainly be better without the hill: imagine the calming flat contours of the world without the hill: just a single, level plain stretching in all directions, with nothing impeding the view, and nothing presenting anything more than ordinary effort to the casual or serious traveller. Ideally, the view would be grey. It is, really, the perfect egalitarian dream. It's not particularly happy, but at least it would require less effort. Some might argue that hills are picturesque, and could improve the view a little bit. I suppose that is true; hills are so picturesque that they would make excellent pictures. They could be hung up, here and there, to improve the landscape without, you know, actually needing to be climbed.

I climbed the hill yesterday. I climbed the hill again today. I shall probably climb the hill again tomorrow. And, as I climbed the hill, I could not help but thinking of the point of hills, and why such frustrating things should exist that we need to climb down them only to climb up them all over again once the exercise is done.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

La la la la la la la la fa

Reverse Christmas Carol

Happy year new! Christmas merry!
I hope Claus Santa's gifts were nice,
And all your days are pleasant very,

With Cake Christmas and jam cherry,
Nog-egg, Roll Swiss (one more slice).
Happy year new! Christmas merry!

Glass your charges with some sherry,
Toast the year old once, thrice, twice -
May all your days be pleasant very!

Be heart warm of, extra shary,
Give cheese Brie to all the mice -
Happy year new! Christmas merry!

May your year next be extra cheery,
A pie-fruit-spice with extra spice,
And all your days be pleasant very;

May your run cup over nearly:
Too much goodness will suffice -
For a happy year new! Christmas merry!
May all your days be pleasant very!

What a horribly sentimental maybe-probably-almost-but-not-quite-definitely-last-post-of-the-year. Have a great Christmas everyone.

Penultimate post, in which a purchase is proposed

I'm toddling off for Christmas this afternoon, but I shouldn't go without mentioning that I've got a new zine out. It has poems by me, the Baron, and Michael Reynolds, as well as assorted other musings and artworks. Like to get a copy? You can buy it, online, at Etsy. Also, there are five four copies at Sticky Comics in the centre of Melbourne, though they close on Christmas Eve, right up to the new year, apparently.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why men can't read maps, or drive, or do anything, really

The other day I was driving to Coldstream. This is how I did it: I sat in the left-hand seat while the Baron turned the engine on, maneuvered the wheel, pressed the various pedals that sent the car into a non-static state, flicked various switches on and off, steered around, over, under, or through various obstacles, and drove. I suppose you could say that that technically meant that the Baron was driving, and you'd technically be right. Anyway, I'm surprised at how simple driving was, and I'm looking forward to driving again in the near future.

The reason we were going to Coldstream was this: to give my brother his birthday presents - a cooking pot, a Larry David DVD, and some chocolate beer. We had the DVD so my brother would have something to cook in the cookpot, and we got the beer so that he'd have something to drink with it. We're logical like that. (I can't quite account for the beer being chocolate, that was pretty out there.)

I should mention that I had, in my lap, a small book. Another advantage of driving, of course, is that you get to read on the way. Unless you have to steer, that is. It's unfortunate that the book was a street directory, but that's life. Until I took up driving, you know, I used to think that streets were simple straight objects that took you to where you wanted to go. I used to think that you'd just aim the car, and keep on driving until something got in the way, and then you'd stop, and you'd be there. That's generally how it worked when I walked, anyway, and I almost never got lost - or at least, I never lost myself, which was the main thing, although sometimes the world around me got a bit confused.

Anyway, according to this street directory, the streets were anything but straight with us. They'd pootle along, in their streetly fashion, and then all of a sudden change their names. They'd loop around and back like tangled pieces of string for no particular reason. I'm one of those people who has to actually turn the street directory on its side to get the orientation right, so on some of these streets I was having to turn it upside down, turn my own head sideways, then meditate until I had achieved a Zen-like state of bliss, and then attempt to read the map. Pretty soon I had started doing advanced tai chi positions in the car, and I still wasn't sure whether I got it exactly right.

For instance, we'd come to roundabouts in the middle of the street, and I'd look in the map and they wouldn't be there. Some of the streets in the street directory would be orange, but I'd look for the orange streets in the actual street, and they'd remain their usual colour of asphalt grey. I mean, this was outrageous - how could we tell which were the orange streets if the people who built the streets didn't read the instructions on the street directory properly? At other times, it seemed clear that the people who wrote the street directory clearly didn't take in mind the people on the street. For instance, just at the intersection of X___ Street, and V_____ Street, a kid ran across the road, and it didn't say anything about that on the street directory. And another thing: it wasn't very far at all from Thornbury to Coldstream on the map, just a few pages or so, but when we drove it was almost as if we drove for kilometres and kilometres, and still didn't get there. Amazing!

But what ho, this driving lark is quite fun really. We'll be driving all over the countryside in a couple of days, and here's how I imagine it will go: we'll open up the windows of the car, and I will toss my hair in the winnowing wind while clutching a cigarette in my cool and poised fingers, as we speed far far away from civilisation. While the Baron drives. I can't see anything wrong with this plan.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The reasoning for the seasoning

Problem: we seem to spend so much time rushing around doing things for Christmas that we don't have any time left over to do all those things that we want to do, ie, waste time.

Proposal: We simply take Christmas, the day that we do all the rushing around before; and swap it around with Boxing Day, a day which we don't do any rushing in preparation for, whatsoever. That way, we have an extra day to spend time on before Christmas, wasting time, and therefore we have got all the wasting time out of the way by Christmas time.

Difficulty with proposal: we'd probably end up rushing around on Boxing Day anyway, and spend all that time that we should have been wasting our time buying the presents, etc, that we should have bought beforehand. Maybe we could solve this by having an extra day for doing nothing after Christmas anyway. 'Triangulation Day', perhaps?

Further difficulty: I'm not quite sure what would happen to Christmas Eve. Presumably it would go just before Boxing Day, but then we'd have to call it Christmas Eve Eve, which could become confusing.

Although my idea has its difficulties, I suggest we send it off to the governmental department in charge of Christmas right away, so we can get this up and running before next year - perhaps regulated by an appropriate civil servants agency.

The department of redefinition


Old Meaning

peccadillo: a petty sin or offence; a trifling fault. [Spanish pecadillo, diminutive of pecado, from Latin peccātum a sin]

New Meaning
peccadillo: fondness for kissing armadillos [Sample sentence: "Don't worry if you saw Martin smooching that armoured jungle beast. He has his little peccadillos."]

Santa's spreadsheet

Santa also has pie charts on the naughty and nice ratings of girls and boys, a print out of macros and formulas he needs to record changes in details about particular gift recipients, and regular meetings with his little helpers which help him maintain and update his extensive databases and timetable planners for his yearly journey.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Factual, if not actual

Copenhagen, eh? That sounds like a lot of fun. Let's see how events have ended up over there, why don't we?

Summary of events at the Copenhagen Summit.

Day One: Copenhagen is buzzing! Delegates begin to arrive. Emissions for the planes are offset by various schemes involving stock markets, private investment schemes, forestry subsidies, and moonshine. African leaders stage a walk out, but then realise that other world leaders haven't yet arrived, and take the rest of the day off. Day Two: Delegates eagerly begin to set out plans for future tensions and disagreements which they will use to break down further talks on the matter. Day Three: African leaders stage a walk out, to the applause and mutual satisfaction of all the delegates. Protesters stand outside in the Copenhagen cold singing their favourite Christmas carols, 'We are all guilty! Guilty! Guilty! The world's going to die!' Day Four: African Leaders stage a dramatic walk-in, causing uproar at the talks. Matters are resolved only when it is discovered that they walk in only to be able to stage a walk out again. Meanwhile, outside, protesters, having got their lungs ready, progress to singing polyphonic Bach chorales and seven-part fugues. Day Five: A protester holds up a protest banner that is actually witty, pithy, and pointed, but it is in an obscure Ural-Altaic dialect only spoken by him and his grandfather. He promptly dies of embarrassment. Phelim McAleer dresses up in a polar bear suit to make a point, but nobody can hear the point he is making because the polar bear suit gets in the way. In the conference, rousing applause greets a keynote speech by the delegate from Albania, until the other delegates discover that the Albanian delegate was just saying, in heavily accented German, "Please. I need to get to the toilet. Can you tell me where it is?" Day Six: A polar bear gets dressed up in a Phelim McAleer suit, and hands out pamphlets in a bid to alert people of the plight of endangered fat middle-aged political documentary makers, and how they could be affected by the climate crisis. Uproar at the conference as delegates discover that the carbon offsets for their plane flights could themselves have caused extra carbon emissions, and they agonise over how to offset their offsets, and, for that matter, offset their offsets offsets. Day Seven: Somewhere in the world, a little child cries. The Delegate for Tanzania, Mr M'wub M'wub, immediately claims that we must do something about climate change. Then he realises that he has just staged a walk out and thus nobody has heard a word that he has said. Day Eight: Top-level negotiations commence over where the world is to put in place an ETS, a CPRS, GHG reduction scheme, action by NGOs, or a combination of all the above, called ETSCPRSGHGRSNGO, which shortens to E. Al Gore arrives dressed as an emo and is immediately mobbed by protesters wanting to murder him. He reads out some poetry to them and immediately wins them over to his cause. Day Nine: Kevin Rudd arrives at the conference! For a change, all the other delegates join the African leaders and walk out. Out in the cold, protesters are in the middle of Gustav Mahler's epic Das Lied Von Erde, but start having disputes over an E flat. Day Ten: The polar bear and Phelim McAleer gang up and start eating the protesters. The carnage is horrible. They scream and writhe on the ground in the pain. Delegates in the Copenhagen conference look on the dreadful scene, shake one another's hands, and say they must meet again sometime. Then they pop down the street to get a nice cup of tea before catching their flights home. The end.

Thought for the day

Half-arsed poem

I'd rather half a bum than none.
I think I'll always fear
The prospect of no bum at all,
A rear-end with no rear.

Though if I had a half-arsed arse
My life would be quite crappy,
For cheek to cheek and bowel to bowel
Is what makes man most happy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Various made-up synonyms for 'lying around on the couch for ages not doing anything'



Hoisting my sails in the pillowing wind.

Planting a field of couch potatoes.

Extreme sitting.

Going to the gym, in my mind.

Like it or slump it.

Being couchettish.


Going out in a laze of glory.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Really literally actually secretive symbolic cipher

FACT: Dan Brown loves facts so much that he begins all his books with the word ‘fact’, followed by a series of assertions, that could, in fact, be facts. His favourite adverbs are ‘really’, ‘literally’, and ‘actually’, which he uses with liberal abandon in his books.

But anyway, the opening sentence to The Da Vinci Code really is a doozy. Check it out:

Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the Grand Gallerie of the Louvre Museum, clutching at his chest.

That, I submit to the reader, is pure genius: something horrible happening to a very famous, though fictional, person. Fame is just like reality, only better. And of course, when something bad happens to a famous person, it’s a something that is even worse than the something that would happen to an ordinary person. Brown simultaneously appeals to the sensibilities of the readers of Who magazine and the purchasers of true crime novels, with a nod in the direction of Sister Wendy fans as well.

Dan Brown doesn’t so much take the truth for granted as he takes it to be a liar. His next favourite words, alongside ‘really’, ‘literally’ and ‘actually’ are ‘secret’, ‘symbol’, ‘code’, ‘cipher’; and his codes and ciphers, once revealed, nearly always lead to other codes and ciphers. A symbol is no good unless it symbolises another symbol, which is itself a code for another code, which is also a secret. The secrets themselves, once you get to them, are not very good, but the investigation that uncover the secrets is of some interest. The last secret in Brown's books are always the most disappointing.

Once you become familiar with Brown’s favourite terms, it becomes quite easy to devise a few standard Brown sentences for yourself: ‘The symbol for the code was literally embedded in the cipher, and the symbol…’ This is perhaps an exaggeration, but not much.

You can have a good game with the sentences in Brown’s novels, finding mistakes and grammatical errors and ambiguous descriptions and repeated terms and clichés and unrealistic descriptions, but you don’t have to. It provides literary critics with an entertaining exercise and an opportunity for them to demonstrate why they have been given the job they have. I can think of two examples off hand: in The Lost Symbol, Langdon and his friend Katherine Solomon narrowly escape from the CIA in a subway train that ‘whisked them to their destination’. In Da Vinci Code, Langdon and Sophie Neveu await for a box in a French bank which is both ‘mysterious’ and ‘whose contents were unknown’. But who cares? The plot is what is important.

I suppose I shouldn't admit to enjoying Dan Brown. I don't think I've ever read a favourable review of his books. Funnily enough, though, when I read Brown I find myself, again and again, encountering ideas and plot points that I've encountered in books by authors that are taken much more seriously. In The Lost Symbol Brown goes on about telepathy and the development of mental powers: look in the pages of a few Brian Aldiss books and you can find the same. Brown's plots, with their elaborate three-act structures, echo those of Michael Moorcock. He's nowhere as thoughtful or as well crafted as those two writers, but still, he's a lot of fun.

Predictions of perdition

I was listening to radio the other day, and some paper shuffler from some paper shuffling agency was taking a break from his paper shuffling in order to bang on about how great his state was. "Oh, this is fantastic," he said, "We've cut the predicted road toll right down from last year's predicted road toll!"

It's just such a tragedy when predicted people die as the result of a predicted road toll, after all. If only we had a reliable way of cutting back on the predictions in order to save all those predicted lives lost!

If you thought that this quaint concern about the predicted loss of lives was limited to just one person, you'd be quickly proved wrong. Look on the internet at all the horrible terrible disastrous definite disasters that global warming is predicted to maybe possibly in some potential future lead to. And the UK Met office has been making similar predictions.

Of course, if all these predictions were so devastatingly tragic as some people have been making them out to be, you might think the people making them were wilfully committing genocide. Instead of, you know, drawing attention to their pet cause or attempting to fill out column spaces in the local Dullsville Times.

Making paranoid prognostications about the future is a pretty pointless exercise, but in the future, it's predicted that this tragic prediction count will only increase.

Such a pity that all these predicted predictions won't come to pass because the entire human race will be wiped out at three pm tomorrow by a gigantic cyber toad from the other side of the galaxy who decides to eat our planet for his dinner, according to a prediction made by me, Tim Train, today. Predictable, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lame superheros

Inaudible Man
Donning his amazing cloak of inaudibility, Inaudible Man enters the lift amongst the evil supervillains, and lets fly with the most amazing series of farts that you have ever not heard in your life!

Non-existent Man
When mild-mannered Clinton Kurt puts on his Anti-ontogenical ring, he gains amazing powers of non-existence that allows him to enter into the very ranks of an army of psychopathic genocidal maniacs with demonic powers, and combat them with complete and utter nothingness.

Superfluous Man
He, also, can leap tall buildings in a single bound! He can outrace speeding trains - as well! In addition, he is faster than a flying bullet! And plus, he just saved the entire galaxy from being blown to smithereens by a zillion Ultraatomic bombs with his amazing powers, not to mention also, in addition, and as well! He is...

WILD CHEERING MOB PILES ONTO THE BLOG, SHOUTING: Look! Superman has just saved Paris Hilton's puppy from getting a paper cut! HOORAY FOR SUPERMAN!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Woof! Woof!

Doggerell! Posted at Pacos!

Climate emails leakin', leakin',
Dodgy graphs have got a tweakin',
MSM is really freakin'
At this situation.
People everywhere start seekin'
An investigation.

Believer is at war with skeptic,
Monbiot is apoplectic
His fits verge on the epileptic -
What a scandal!
This global warming email epic's
Too hot to handle.

Believers start to fume and fret,
They say some things that they regret,
They twitch and twiddle, shiver, sweat -
How disobedient!
But we can turn to rhymin' yet
When Truth gets Inconvenient.

All-purpose Christmas carol

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
And a Happy New Year!
'Tis the season to be jolly -
And a Happy New Year!

Glory to our new born King,
Joyful and triumphant,
Peace on earth and mercy mild -
And a Happy New Year!

Don we now our gay apparel -
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day -
Troll the ancient yuletide carol -
On Christmas Day in the morning.
(And a Happy New Year!)

All is calm! All is quiet!
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Three French hens, two turtle doves -
And a Happy New Year!

I sang this to the Baron recently, and she commented that it was 'like being stuck in an elevator'. Strangely enough I took it as a compliment.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Absolutely right about everything, but otherwise open to disagreements

CANBERRA, MONDAY - After months of debate, Federal Parliament has finally cemented into place legislation that has been agitated for over the course of several years by some guy with a blog called Matt.

The EML (Everything Matt Likes) bill was passed by both sides of Parliament with only one dissenting vote from the Liberals and none from Labor and the Greens. Although some amendments were originally proposed by the National Party under the name of STSDAWMA (Stuff That Simon Doesn't Agree With Matt About) clause, they were eventually struck down by the Coalition whip.

Simon, as was revealed over the course of the months-long debate, was a guy who regularly commented on Matt's blog and got into arguments with Matt and other commenters over various points. However, after scrutiny by the media, his disagreements with the policy positions held by Matt and other commenters were found to be too unworkable, principally because Matt didn't agree with them.

Schemes for the Everything Matt Likes bill have been outlined over the course of several years on Matt's blog,

Although the EML bill is still to go before the Senate, it is expected that it will be passed before long and become part of Australian law before next election.

"Finally, we can rest easy, knowing that Australia is going down the right path - the path agitated for by years by some obscure commenter on the internet with a blog," said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in a press conference yesterday.

"I have had conversations with Matt, and I have found him a fair and reasonable person to work with," said Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in reply to media questions, "especially when every single detail of every single policy passed in federal parliament is something that he agrees with."

The Everything Matt Likes bill, experts predict, will have important impacts upon Australian life. There are four major tranches to the Matt-based legislation:

- The JWATFROA (Just What Are Those Feminists Really On About) scheme;

- The LOGWBWRUSCWAP (Let's Outlaw Global Warming Before We're Really Up Shit Creek Without A Paddle) plan, basically enabling parliament to pass legislation outlawing global warming whenever they feel like it;

- The ANRFEIWSNIMBY (A Nuclear Reactor For Every Idiot Who Says Not In My Backyard) rule;

- And the LMAFLANSBMICIAS (Let's Make AFL A National Sport By Making It Compulsory In All Schools) plan.

Although quibbling over the details, almost all the experts interviewed for this article agree that, once the EML legislation is set into place, the world will become a utopian paradise. Australians concerned about how a utopian paradise may affect their way of life are urged to call up the hotline number, 1319 87, and speak to an expert in the Matt-inspired legislation.

However, one prominent expert disagreeing with Matt is Simon, who has decided, now that the Everything Matt Likes legislation has been set in place, to set up his own blog,

Matt is reportedly pleased about these developments, and is now wondering "what to do next" with his blog.

Controversy corner

A recent post on the Overland blog asks the reader: 'Art and sexism: is it acceptable?' Good question. I'd like to pose a related one in this thread today at Controversy Corner: should sexism be banned because it leads to art?

On the one hand, we must admit that there are many non-artistic sexists in society today, innocently practicing their sexism without ever producing art, great or otherwise. However, the fact remains that there is a small minority of sexists who produce great art, which goes on to pollute our galleries, clog up our bookshops, and fills up our airwaves which could be better used for other things. Should we continue to tolerate a system of sexism that can be misused to produce great art?

There is of course a compromise solution: the innocent practices of sexists everywhere should be strictly regulated so that their sexism would have less danger of turning into great art. For instance, we could introduce a sexism license, administered by an appropriate government department. (At a pinch, we could probably get the entire National Party of Australia to become the relevant 'Department for Sexism', or 'Department for the Subjugation of Women', or whatever).

The counter argument must nevertheless be proposed: there are some artists who will continue to practice their art in spite of these discouragements, psychopathically creating new works to confuse and irritate the ordinary citizen. Can we ever do to much to stop these detestable villains, these invidious craftspeople? Perhaps sexism should simply be banned outright to stop them. But then, sexists everywhere would protest at these infringements of their liberties.

What is more important: the freedom to practice sexism, or the eradication of art from our society for once and for all?

That was Controversy Corner for another week!

Next week: we pose the question, 'Does racism lead to origami!' Tune in to Controversy Corner for another erudite discussion!

The Hey Hey Blackface segment: could this seemingly innocuous incident have lead to dangerous outbreaks of origami?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Position for the position of...

I was thinking about doing a blog post inspired by this blog post by Maria about hating job interviews. But then a week passed and I forgot. But then another week passed and I remembered - so here we are!

Job interviews. Man, I've been to them. I've been to interviews where the employer just spent the entire half hour rambling on about whatever took his fancy, and didn't bother asking anything vaguely job related. I've been to some interviews where the employer just gathered all the interviewees together in a huge board room and tried to interview everyone of us, all at once. Other interviews were just preliminary interviews to see if you would make the grade for further interviews down the track. Some employers, I found, liked to give you little general knowledge tests, while others just asked you along to an exam that lasted for two hours or so. I even did interviews at several temping agencies around Newcastle where they got you to perform pointless psychological tests on the computer before ushering you out the door and promising to call you the moment a job came up. (Strangely enough, they never did.)

It eventually got to the point where I could have seriously considered listing in my resume

- Significant experience in preparing for and attending job interviews; answering pointless questions; filling out meaningless general knowledge quizzes; participating in baffling psychological tests; and generally sitting in waiting rooms for medium to large amounts of time while the interviewer prepares to see me.

I suppose I could have seriously considered going back to uni or TAFE and getting some more practical experience and trade qualification, but hey, I'm never one to do something practical about a problem when I can whinge about it.

Anyway, in all that time, there was one sort of interview that I haven't attended. Here's how I imagine it would go.

SCENE: A cavernous boardroom. MARIA is sitting at a large polished oak desk slowly eating creamy, golden puftaloons. She contemplates each puftaloon before lowering them into her mouth, munching contentedly on them, and licking the cream off each finger. Eventually, she puts her head up, wipes her hands on a tissue, and calls out across the room...


(There enters into the room a SHY YOUNG BUSINESSMAN, JONES, carrying a briefcase which has been polished up to look incredibly important. JONES has to walk all the way across the room to get to his seat at the table).

MARIA: Ah, good to see you, Mr.... (reads from a sheet of paper) Jones. Puftaloon? (Pushing the box towards him).

JONES: (Looking slightly confused.) Oh, uh, er, no, thanks.

MARIA: Now congratulations Jones. You're among our top ten applicants.

JONES: Ha ha, thanks.

MARIA: Now let me put it to you straight away, Jones. This is an important position you're
applying for. You're now interviewing for the job of the person who will be interviewing me for the job. Do you think you have what it takes to be my interviewer?

JONES: Oh yes, Ms...

MARIA: Maria, please.

JONES: ... Maria. I have extensive experience interviewing other people for a job.

MARIA: How much?

JONES: I interview on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays.

MARIA: That's a lot of interviewing.

JONES: And sometimes on Sundays. Extensive interviewing, as my resume...

MARIA: Do you do anything besides interviewing?

JONES: What... (looks confused)

MARIA: Does your job entail anything other than interviewing?

JONES: Oh, administration, filing...

MARIA: Hmmm. (Frowns). How many people have you interviewed?

JONES: (Looks embarassed).

MARIA: Jones, it's going to be a tough job interviewing me. I want to be sure you have what it takes. Can you fire a couple of application criteria at me?

JONES: Oh... sure! Maria - are you a people person?

MARIA: Ha! Cliche. A good start! (Makes make on form).

JONES: Do you work well on your own?

MARIA: Well how on earth would I answer that? It's in complete contradiction to your previous description - brilliant! (Makes another mark on form).

JONES: (Nervously) Do you have good communication skills? Are you outgoing?

MARIA: Yeeeeeeerrrrs. Not bad, but I'm not really intimidated by these. (Makes more marks on form).

JONES: (Quaking with fright, very quickly). Are you able to use Word, macros, Excel, formulas, and do you have industry experience with Quark, HTML, and Illustrator?

MARIA: Goood.

JONES: (Finishing off, utterly ruined). But most of all, are you warm, efficient, bubble, down to earth, competitive, friendly, with a co-operative and go-get-em attitude? Are you born-to-win and born-to-grin or born-for-fun and born-to-rule?

MARIA: Excellent! (Ticks form). How could anyone possibly be expected to answer such fatuous criteria? Jones, one last question. Why do you want to be my interviewer?

JONES: Because, I... I... I... (flustered, fumbling around for an answer)... um, I look forward to the challenge?

MARIA: Hmmm. Interesting. Anything you want to ask me?

JONES: Oh, nothing much, just...

MARIA: (Cocks eye). Mmm?

JONES: When will I know if I've got the job of interviewing you?

MARIA: We'll call you, Mr Jones. Well, thanks for taking the trouble to come all this way. (Walks around the table and shakes Jones' hand.) Have another puftaloon. And help yourself to some coffee on the way out.

JONES makes his way to the door. MARIA waits 30 seconds before taking the puftaloon box back to her side, sitting down, and picking another puftaloon up, turning it this way and that so she can admire its golden glow in the light of the sun beaming in through the window, and then slowly lowering it into her mouth...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How to lose friends and unimpress people!

Never use a short word that makes sense when a long word that doesn't make sense is available. Instead of 'probably', say 'probabilistically'. Instead of 'problem', say 'problematically'. Instead of 'impress' say 'impressionistically'. Avoid 'making up' when 'reconcile' or 'reconciliation' is available. Never say sorry or 'apologise' when an 'apologia' is available. And don't stop at pretentious English words, take words out of context from the works of difficult-to-understand French philosophers: don't say 'differ' or 'difference', say 'differance'!

Example: "Well, we'll just have to agree that we have a differance over this problematic, and probabilistically we'll never reconciliate our differances. However, your argumentations are very impressionistic, and I offer an apologia up in advancement."

I recently used 'apologia' in an email, but unfortunately I didn't follow up the opportunity and use any of those other words. Bollockifications!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An appreciation

A character is the representation of a person in a narrative or dramatic work of art (such as a novel, play, or film). Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr (χαρακτήρ) through its Latin transcription character, the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration... the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person." Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practised by actors or writers, has been called characterisation. - Wiki
Well, there are some who say that we identify with characters by sympathising with the situations that they find themselves in. There are others who say that characters can represent people we want to be like, or people we don't want to be like. Many maintain that fictional characters resemble people in the real world.

But I don't know about all of that when you consider the character of Krang, (from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Universe) a large pink pulsating brain with eyes and tentacles, sitting, manipulating a control board, in a hollow chamber in the chest of what appears to be a mindless human slave. I have never known any pinkly pulsating tentacled brains personally, and I don't think I know anybody who does; I do not particularly sympathise with the plight of pinkly pulsating tentacled brains; and I don't particularly want to be a pinkly pulsating tentacled brain. It seems to me that the theory of character can only take you so far, and doesn't quite manage to encompass creatures like Krang.

I've been thinking about Krang for a while. I don't know why. Possibly he has a natural charisma. Anyway, what actual function did Krang serve in the TMNT cartoon show? As far as I can remember, he didn't actually do anything. Krang just kind of harrangued Shredder to go after the turtles, and that was it. In Turtles Forever - by far the best Turtle movie - his principle function seems to be to stand around and looked scared every time Shredder does something evil. Sure, Krang is evil too, but he's evil in a placid and domesticated way, and you get the sense that he really doesn't care much about taking over the world. He just kind of blobbles around, pulsating pinkly, and occasionally squalling at Shredder to do something for him.

Oh Krang. It's been so long since you left our television screens. Why don't you ever call?

Is it wrong to be talking this way to a pinkly pulsating tentacled brain who is, by the way, evil?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Excremental success!

Top of the New York Times bestseller list!

Secrets of the Gordon Ramsay Swearing Code

"Fucking cunty bollock shit turd steaming pile of wee." These are just some of the famous swear words from the famous swearing mouth of professional sweary and part-time cook, Gordon Ramsay. Now you might want to just take them at face value, mightn't you?

Well according to a professed Professor* at an alleged university, there's more to the ever-eloquent Ramsay's words than just swearing.

"We just applied a simple formula to the swear words," says Professor Gribble McGrubble, "And found that Ramsay had encoded secret, non-swearing messages in his swear words."

McGrubbles goes on to explain: "The secretive secrets included within the amazingly offensive and puerile swear words uttered by Gordon Ramsay include such astounding revelations as, 'I am fond of grey cats', 'I'll just pop the kettle on so we can all have some tea', 'I would like to wear a hat today, but I am uncertain as to whether I should put on my red one or my green one', 'perhaps I should take my umbrella, it looks a little cloudy out', and 'Civilisation will end in 2059 due to the five-day Guatemalan war'."

But that's not all! You can apply the secrets of Gordon Ramsay's swearing to your own professional and love life, as analysis of passages of unredeemable filth by Gordon Ramsay turns up such unlikely messages as, 'Now is the time to indulge in new relationships', 'the stock market will fall five points in two days from now', and 'a rabid ox will devour your testicles this afternoon, so put your relationship and work plans on hold'.

And who could afford not to take heed of such advice as, 'wear the blue coat, it suits you', 'the package should arrive in the post tomorrow, at seven pm', and 'in the year of the serpent blue fire will rain down on the sunlit lands and a strong emperor will emerge after a famine of eight moons', such as can be found in the fantastically offensive string of four letter words proceeding from Gordon Ramsay's mouth? No-one, that's who!

Secrets of the Gordon Ramsay Swearing Code! Are you thinking of buying it? Are you fucking nuts?!?? Available in all bad bookstores!

*Professed Professors are the most professional Professors of them all.

Apply the timeless wisdom of Gordon Ramsay's disgusting swearing to your life for instant SUCCESS!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Man, the Liberals under Malcolm Turnbull seem to be having so many leadership fights these days that by the time I've got to the end of this sentence Tony Abbott will be leading the party. Obviously, the Liberals must unite under the leadership of Kevin Andrews if they are to have any hope of having Joe Hockey fight Kevin Rudd in the next election. Turnbull's return to the leadership following the failed Hockey experiment may have seemed unlikely at the time, but it is vital that the Liberals put this pointless bickering aside if their leader Peter Dutton, and his deputy, Sophie Mirabella, want to start landing some punches and convincing the electorate that the Mirabella-for-PM push has real force. Why the party eventually settled up Wilson Tuckey as their eventual head we'll never know, but it really is important for all Australians that the Opposition Leader Peter Costello and his shadow cabinet begin to do their job and applying critical scrutiny to the policies of the government, and give the Louise Markus leadership the strength to get the job done.

And if, in years time, we should all look back and observe that all these leadership fights were started over a dispute about the CPRS legislation, a useless scheme which will do nothing about global warming, which may not be happening anyway, then we would be be absolutely right. And where has that ever got anybody?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The cat diet, based on my observations of Harriet and Beatrice, with approximate times of consumption

4.30 AM - My toes.

7.30 AM - One another's heads.

10.00 AM - Canned native animal. Preferably the one that the other cat is eating.

1.00 PM - The front page of my latest New Yorker magazine. [NOTE: Only if it's a good cover though.]

8.30 PM - My dinner.

10.30 PM - A toy hamster, taken out to the water bowl, dipped in, and then taken into the bedroom and dumped on the bed for nocturnal snacks.

11.30 PM - My toes.

That's about it I think. As you can see, it contains all five major cat food groups, ie, meaty stuff, stuff the other cat is eating, stuff the other person is eating, stuff the other person is reading, and the other person and/or the other cat.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


(For Mitzi).

Some like their knickers pink,
Some like their knickers frilly;
Some like them extra extra slinky,
Even though it's chilly.

Some like their knickers frilly,
With small embroidered flowers,
And even though it's chilly,
They'll wear them out all hours,

With small embroidered flowers
(Depending on their tastes).
They'll wear them out all hours
In quite revealing lace.

Depending on their tastes,
Some men wear women's bras,
In quite revealing lace,
While driving in their cars.

Some men wear women's bras,
Others just wear stockings
While driving in their cars -
It's really not that shocking

That some men just wear stockings.
You'll come round to it slowly,
It's really not that shocking:
The Mormons think them holy -

You'll come round to it slowly.
Some like them extra extra slinky
(The Mormons think them holy).
Some like their knickers pink.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hallowed hyphens, Batman!

Someone once told me that when you use a phrase so that it becomes an adjective, or descriptor, for the word that follows after it, then you have to join the words of that phrase up with hyphens. So ‘half-hearted hack’, ‘two-way street’, ‘wide-armed generosity’, and so on.

But I ran into an interesting (well, interesting to me, at least) problem today – what happens when the phrase that is used as a descriptor is itself rather large? Is it obligatory to join all the words in the phrase together with hyphens? ‘The-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side attitude’? A ‘you-have-to-get-up-pretty-early-in-the-morning-in-order-to-beat-this-little-black-duck mindset’? Just how long could such descriptors become?

'She had an a-jug-of-bread-a-loaf-of-wine-and-thou-

Also, what if the phrase that became a descriptor to the following word itself contained words that were hyphenated? Do you have to double hyphenate it?

'She had an I’ll-get-you-if-it’s-the-last-thing-I-do-you-two-timing-bastard look on her face.'

Then again, I guess not, because the pre-existent hyphen in 'two-timing' signifies that the words have already been joined together, brought into a relationship, and function as one unit. Also, it would look pretty bloody silly. And you wouldn't want to be too two-timing on two-timing, now, would you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just when I thought I couldn't find a Freudian slip my size

I know of nobody who sticks up for his state more than Mike Rann.
I refer your attention to the above comment by Kevin Rudd on South Australian Premier Mike Rann, following allegations that Rann may have had an affair with a friend. Dr Cat found it. You've all read it? Good.

Now, it's important to bare, I mean, bear in mind that it's a good thing to have a Premier like Mike Rann stick up, I mean, stand up, oops, I mean, be firm, that is, it's good to find a hard man like Rann, that is, it's hard to find a good man like Rann, er, it's difficult to find a good man like Rann who will remain rigid, that is, um, remain there for the people of South Australia. It doesn't matter whether the polls go down on him, er, I mean, whether he goes down on the poles, whoops, whether his pole goes down, ha ha ha, what the polls do, what's important is that Rann has people there rooting for him, er no, Rann is there, rooting for people, um, rooting with people, no, wait, what's important is that Rann gets support through this trying ordeal.

Questions will inevitably be raised about the saucy stories, silly me, the source of the stories, and whether they were the result of opposition members getting in bed with television sources, oh ha ha ha, I mean, whether they were the result of one being seduced by... oh, what I mean is, people might question the source.

Nevertheless, this whole story must be stripped bare, er, must be obscene and served, that is, must be seen and observed by many independent sources, and it is only once we have got to the bottom, that is, once we have underclothed, no, underpanted, no, understood everything that we will be able to come to a final verdict. So we must all be sensuous, um, sensual, no, I mean, sensible, and tit down and stry, er, sit down and try to listen. Only then will we know if the story is utter bollocks, no, I mean utter pants, er, ha ha ha, that is, utter rubbish. After all, we must not burn our bras, that is, burn our bridges, or the public will be absolutely buggered, NO!, I mean, rooted, NONONO!, I mean, stuffed.

At any rate, one thing is absolutely and utterly clear: Rann is screwed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coming sooner. Or later.

WARNING: the following preview should not be seen by small children, the elderly, and adults. Everyone else can see it, though.

2012, as brought to you by acclaimed movie director Roland Emmerich, and the Melbourne Public Transport System

(SCENE: Inner city Melbourne, Bourke Street in the process of being flooded by a titanic wall of sea water. As it rushes past Myer, a smartly-dressed metrosexual emerges out of the building, and is immediately swept away in the swirling waters. He screams!)

(A PANICKED AND HYSTERICAL MOB rushes up towards Russell Street.)

PANICKED AND HYSTERICAL MOB: OMG! WTF! Shriek! Yawp! Help! Eeeeeeeeee! (etc).

SCARED MAN: If only there weren't so many restrictions on traffic on inner-city Melbourne Streets, we could just break open these cars and drive out of town!

HORROR-STRUCK WOMAN: We've only got one choice! We've got to catch the tram!

(To appropriate music - Thus Spake Zarathustra, or The Ride of the Valkyries, or possibly both, at the same time - the 86 Tram lumbers up the hill.)

PANICKED AND HYSTERICAL MOB: Eeeee! Awk! Wait for me! Yargh!

(Everyone rushes onto the tram)

SCARED MAN: But... it's only going as far as Clifton Hill! We're going to have to do a changeover!



(SCENE: The tram is lumbering around the Gertrude Street/Smith Street corner, with a herd of slavering dinosaurs nipping at its wheels. All of a sudden, it grinds to a halt).

SCARED MAN: What... what the hell's going on?

HORROR-STRUCK WOMAN: That old woman with a shopping cart full of bricks has to get someone to help her shopping cart on the tram!

SCARED MAN: But... there's no time! We'll all be eaten!

HORROR-STRUCK WOMAN: (As a tyrannosaurus pops its head in through the window and nibbles on her hat)

PANICKED AND HYSTERICAL MOB: Arrrrrrrgh! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeelp! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!


Other scenes include: The bit where they have to wait even though a huge gaping hole in the ground is about to open up underneath the tram because the people in the tram behind have to change over because of a brake defect, the bit where the tram driver waits in Northcote for two minutes in order to stay on the timetable, and the suspensful bit where the ticket inspectors get on and not everyone has their ticket in order!

The tram! Coming sooner, or later, to a city street near you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twite verse

Brevity is the soul of twit, or, etymological reflections on the advent of Twitter

It can happen in a moment,
It can happen overnight,
You can lie awake in bed
While your mind is in full flight,
You can sit and scratch your head
While you think of posts to write,
And as you think you wonder
If they're 'tweets' or 'twits' or twite.
Yes you have the Twitter itch,
The Twitter Twitter Twitch.

Perhaps you've wondered if the
Plural form of 'twitterer'
Is 'twitterers' or 'twats'.
Are twats just online nitterers?
If author-types can write
And publish stuff called 'literature',
Then what's to stop your site
From being 'twitterature?
Yes you have the Twitter itch,
The Twitter Twitter Twitch.

Have you littered lots of letters,
Have you 'atwitterated'?
Do you ever tweet-repeat
To say you've 'retwitterated'?
If you read a saucy tweet,
Do you get quite 'twittilated'?
Have you never tweet-deleted?
Are your tweets 'obtwitterated'?
Then you have the Twitter itch,
The Twitter Twitter Twitch.

And: if you find some sparkles
In the bathroom by the litter
Do you hesitate a moment
Before you twitter on the glitter by the little kitty litter near the shitter?
And I wonder if you wonder
If it is a glitter-litter-shitter-twitter,
A litter-glitter-shitter-tweet,
Or a glitter-double-shitter-twitter?
For you have the Twitter itch,
The Twitter Twitter Twitch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mixed metaphors of the obvious

Having an ache in the part of your body between your shoulders and head is a pain in the neck.

You just went to the blood bank? Your blood's worth bottling.

Cold banana smoothies are cool bananas!

So what are these diced pieces of animal innards, then, chopped liver?

If you're up a stream full of ordure in a boat which is lacking a means of transport while you are constructing a specific part of the halter for a creature of the family Anatidae, with a number of chefs in your boat cooking soup, then you're in a bloody shit load of trouble.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Da-da-da-da-da da da da!

Every time Leonard and Harriet look at one another, I hear the music from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Then a tumbleweed blows across the screen, and I know we're really in trouble - because where the hell did that tumbleweed come from, not to mention the screen?

Also, the other day I saw two magpies fighting one another, and all of a sudden this music started up in the background...

Monday, November 16, 2009


Why is it that now, years after I first saw the films, and even more years after they first went to air, that I find myself met with a sudden urge to write about how horribly, awfully, terribly bad the Matrix Trilogy really was?

The films were bad, after all. But perhaps it is only now that we can really appreciate their badness - for they have a badness that reaches across the years, that only seems to deepen and be enriched by the interval of time, a badness that has an immediacy and a force now that is even greater than when they were first released. Of course it is easy to feel apathetic about a film that has not been released yet - at the start of the last century, the entire world felt apathetic about greats of the cinema such as Citizen Kane, and The 39 Steps. But it is only truly, wretchedly bad films that are able to inspire ever greater bouts of apathy following their release: such are the Matrix films.

Many of the smaller filmic elements were uniquely bad, of course, possessing their own special quality of indefinable crapness, alternately disappointing or boring or sickening you according to their own particular metric. The murky, pond-scum green wash in which the entire trilogy seemed to have been shot, for instance - who thought that up? Is this really what they use for mood lighting these days? Or the presence of Keanu Reeves, who somehow spends most of the time being upstaged by Carrie-Anne Moss's boots.

But what really elevates these films beyond the individual badness of their elements - connects all these individual badnesses, if you like - is the plot. It begins as something merely unoriginal (guy finds out that the entire life he's been living is a hallucination), but rapidly becomes completely implausible (humans are used by robots as an energy source - WTF? - to power the Matrix - WTFF? - which is used, principally, it seems, to keep humans in check so they can continue to provide power to the Matrix, in a neverending chain of circular unreasonableness), before becoming utterly ludicrous (for no particular reason at all Neo, the guy who discovers his entire life has been a hallucination in the first film, gains messianic powers and is packed off to defeat the robots).

What horrible, horrible films they were. Naturally, they made an absolute motza at the cinemas. None of which, thank God, was contributed by myself.

There are some things which remain unchanged by time, things which "age shall not weary nor the years condemn." Cheese will always get mould on it. Socks will always grow extra holes. Trains will always continue to run late, no matter how many upgrades a train station gets. And the Matrix will only continue to be bad, no matter how many times we revisit the films over the years. These truths are eternal, and should fill us with a great, warm wave of reassurance and gratitude.

Eat your greens

Ways to encourage people to eat their vegetables: a dietary table
VegetableOrthodox method of persuasionTim's method of persuasion
Carrots"The carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange colour from β-carotene, which is metabolised into vitamin A in humans... Carrots are also rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. Lack of Vitamin A can cause poor vision... Ethnomedically, the roots are used to treat digestive problems, intestinal parasites, and tonsillitis or constipation." Just look at their nobbly little limbs and arms and legs! It's like eating a freakin' goblin baby! Hey, bet you it screams when you cook it, too. DIE, HORRIFYING GOBLIN SPAWN OF THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH, DIE!
Beetroots"Beetroots are rich in the nutrient betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.... Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems."Eat your beetroots or you skin won't turn purple, kids! What have you got against purple skin, anyway? Are you RACIST, or something?
Potatoes"The potato contains vitamins and minerals that have been identified as vital to human nutrition."I personally hunted and killed this savage beast of the vegetable kingdom, and held it down and throttled the last beath out of its throat with my own bare hands. Don't mention it.

"Couscous is made from wheat... [with] "12.2 grams of dietary fiber, and 3.6 mg of iron (20% of the daily requirement)."

So freaking awesome. It's like eating dirt, man. It's dirt you can eat!
Spinach"Spinach is considered to be a rich source of iron.... Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants..."Eat this pestilential vegetable! Devour it! Do not cease until the last corpse of spinach has ceased to pollute our plates with its filth, and we can once more be free from the menace it has cast upon the world!

Under Ringwood, by Dylan Hommus

Well yesterday, I caught a tram that stopped before it should have, hopped into another tram that was far more crowded than a tram should be, hopped off at a station where a train did not arrive that should have arrived, caught another train to Flinders Street (late), jumped on another train after that that stopped at Blackburn instead of Ringwood, caught a bus replacement to Ringwood, got on the train at Ringwood, and arrived at my destination - Fern Tree Gully exactly one hour later than I should have.

My intention was actually not to have an afternoon riding around on the trains. (Not my immediate intention, anyway. I'll tell you about that plan some other time.) I was actually trying to get to a poetry afternoon in the Hut Gallery, on Underwood Road. The only thing to do, once I'd got off at Fern Tree Gully station, was to find the gallery on Underwood Road. And you'd think that would be easy, wouldn't you? I turned for advice to the passenger behind me. Here's how the conversation went:

TIM: Excuse me... do you know where Underwood Road is?

PASSENGER: Isser? (Points to her left) Er, usser? (Points to her right.) Erm pratty shur.

So that's how that conversation went. I followed her first direction, and that turned out to be exactly the wrong one; so I hopped into the bakery and had another incomprehensible discussion with the baker, whose accent was so incredibly heavy that she even heard my questions differently. Allow me to demonstrate:

TIM: Oh hi, excuse me, do you know where Underwood Road is?

TIM, AS HEARD BY BAKER: Hi, excuse me, do you know where Alpine Road is?

To this, the baker immediately responded.

BAKER: Oh yes, sure, we're on it!

And, in my naivety, I translated this as:

BAKER: Oh yes, sure, we're on it!

Maybe I should have bought a bun or something? Anyway, the chap in the Foodworks across the road proved a bit more knowledgeable, and so five minutes later I actually found myself inside the art gallery, barging in at the start, the middle, or the end of some fellow's interminable ramble about working in the countryside. (It's always impossible to tell with interminable rambles. Especially mine. I can't even tell with them.)

It turned out to be a lot of bush poetry, with a good dash of humour thrown in, as well as some tea and jam and scones. Right ho, then! Highlight for me was an old chap called Chris (or possibly some other name entirely) got up, put on incredibly thick glasses, and then held a folder right up to his face, and proceeded to read out his poem in a rather high, Irish-accented voice. The poem had excellent, unpredictable, and often quite creative rhymes, which were unfortunately preceded by lines of somewhat lesser quality. (Stuff like: 'But we our language did refine/When we were around the gender feminine.' I could see that joke coming from a mile away but I didn't quite work out the rhyme - how could you with sentences as screwy as that?) Chris was actually in the middle of reading out a long list of poeticised acronyms, in alphabetical order, when his wife interrupted proceedings by ringing up. Three times. Which cracked everyone up. Other highlights, definitely Holly's poems - for instance, she had a backwards poem full of phrases like 'saw see', and 'pole icy', and so on.

Getting home was pretty much the same as getting to Fern Tree Gully, but in reverse order. I spoke a bit more with Chris on the station, and mentioned my plans for getting there in the morning next time and having lunch: 'Oh, there's not much in Fern Tree Gully', he said. 'If you want to have lunch, and have time, you should go to - Upper Fern Tree Gully. There's much more shops up there.' After having left Fern Tree Gully at six/six thirty, I struggled in through the door at home at ten o'clock.

My goodness me. Is that the time? Where did it all go?

Friday, November 13, 2009

More musica than you

I’ve only just managed to see In Search of Beethoven...It’s definitely for the fans. By which I mean, Beethoven enthusiasts will get immense pleasure from it I thought it might be only for the fans, but Margaret Pomerantz gave it four and half stars, and anyone who thinks the Third Symphony is called Heroica probably isn’t an aficionado (David didn’t even flinch at this: score one for me, Nicholas).
Ah, the Heroica Symphony! Of course, it's nothing compared to Beethoven's later masterpieces, such as the Coral Symphony, the Pasteurised Symphony (my personal favourite), and the Theme from A Clockwork Orange symphony. And of course, Beethoven was a master at chamberpot music as well, with pieces like the Moonlighting Sonata, the Pathetic Sonata (which belies it's name - it is quite glorious), and the Passionfruit Sonata. And who can forget Beethoven's groundbreaking last quartets - each last quartet seemingly more final than the one before it?

It really is a great pity that we do not have more musical literacy classes, for there are children today who would not even recognise the name for Bach's Das Wohltempiert Clavicle, or Handel's Messier. They would not even be able to tell the difference between Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or his later Le Sacre du Printemps! Composers that would have been well known to previous generations, such as Verde, Tagliatelle, Edward Greg, or even Vaughan-Sullivan and Gilbert and Williams may be completely alien to the youth of today.

Our glorious musical heritage is in danger of being almost completely forgotten. Who now has listened to Schubert's Unstarted Symphony, or Pachelbel's wonderful Air on a Canon in an F String, or Benjamin Britten's Brahm's Lullaby? Not to mention the groundbreaking influence that composers such as Wagner and Bartok had on predecessors such as Mozart and Scarlatti.

Really, the way things are, it's almost as if, to some people, Beethoven's glorious 10th Symphony didn't even exist. I'm off to listen to it now.

Pleased to meet your acquaintanceship

Short Poem to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to the person who sent the email to me.

Dear acquaintance of the acquaintance of an acquaintance of the acquaintance of some acquaintance of an acquaintance of an acquaintance of the acquaintance of some acquaintance of the acquaintance of my acquaintance,
I'm so glad to be writing to you.
And thanks to the relation of your relation of some relation of your relation of the relation of a relation of their relation of some relation of a relation to my relation,
I'm quite sure this note will get through.

I note that the notes of the notes of a note of some notes of note of the notes of your notes that you have been noting to me
Have been getting quite frequent these days,
And it's clear that your friends and their friends and their friends, and their friends' friends and friends' friends, and their circle of friends' friends
Have something important to say.

So as I dispatch this dispatch with dispatch to another dispatcher who will dispatch this dispatch to other dispatchers who will finally dispatch this dispatch with dispatch to yourself,
Inviting your good self to tea,
And inviting your invitees to invite their invitees, and their invitees' invitees and invite other invitees,
Whoever the hell they may be,

I look happily forward to their looking happily forward to others looking happily forward to still others looking happily forward to them looking happily forward to others looking happily forward to you looking happily forward, too,
To meeting me on the night.
And if you're concerned by a concerning concern of concern that may concern others who may be concerned by such concerning concerns,
Then that concern will be slight;

For there's just a jot of a tittle of a small little bit of an almost quite negligible probabilistically uncertain statistically unlikely but possible chance,
That while we are eating our tea,
I may have just invited to my table that night
Nobody other than me.

Thus, I sign off sincerely,
If not very clearly,
Yours ever, dearly,


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pest control

Train station owners! (Who does own train stations, by the way?) You've scared all the juvenile delinquents away with classical music. But what's to keep your station from being overrun by senile delinquents?

Just buy our recording of The Sound of Happy Children Laughing and play it at times of peak old-person use. The Sound of Happy Children Laughing is a proven deterrent for senile delinquents, inspiring feelings of fear and loathing and horror in their wicked, wrinkled old souls. Yes, with The Sound of Happy Children Laughing, your station need never see another senile delinquent again!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Poem about slurping, and other subjects

At first life was a primal soup
That sucked and slopped and slurped;
Then out of this gobsmacking gloop
There crawled a fish that burped.

A billion species rose and fell
In some amount of time;
They glopped and bubbled up and back
Into the primal slime.

One half of these were vegetables –
They erped out oxygen.
The other half were animals –
They belched out CO2 again.

Though muddy, Mother Nature has
A balance to her parts:
The moral to this story is
You’re breathing in tree farts.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sleeping cats are better than movies

"Oh look, now she's changed her position a bit!"

- Dialogue from The Complete Life of Tim, an improvised script currently being written for a movie to be produced in a few decades.

What else is a meta for?

After having read poetry around the traps for a bit, I still find myself getting attacks of the grumps whenever I hear the title 'performance poet'. It's not that it's an inaccurate summation of what I do when I get up on stage to read, it's just that it seems too specific. Mozart has had his music performed thousands of times, but that doesn't make him a performance musician, does it?

Still, it struck me the other day that maybe I was interpreting these titles in entirely the wrong way. Maybe they something far more obvious:

Emerging Writer
When you are an emerging writer, people keep you in a box during events until its time for you to perform, and they say, 'And now, it's time for our emerging writer', and you emerge from the box, and everyone will applaud.

Concrete Poet
A poet who either writes poems about concrete, or who pours his/her concrete in such a way that poems are formed.

Column Writer
Some kid who scrawls their names on a large Grecian column, standing about in that way that large Grecian columns do.

Underground Writer
Person who lives in a tunnel and writes about it for no real reason at all, apart from the fact that they like it, okay? When they need food, it gets taken to them by the Undertaker, of course. Sometimes, also, they have a pet dog who drools a lot called Underpants.

Bush poet
A person who cuts poems into their topiary for some arcane reason. Another version of the bush poet actually lives in a topiary bush and occasionally throws out some old poem they've written.

Still not sure what 'performance poet' really means (maybe the Tap Dancing Poet knows the answer). But hey - if we can't take literature literally, then where can we take it?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Political machinations

Turning to political news, Kevin Rudd has admitted to running the Australian economy during the holidays out of his backshed with an old diesel engine strung together with a combination of elastic bands, twine, blocks from a dismantled Lego castle, and parts out of the back of his television.

"Although it belched and produced a lot of smoke," laughs Rudd, "We were able to get the Australian economy running in a couple of days with this device, and pretty soon employment was on the rise."

But that's not all. The gadget-mad Prime Minister recently took plans to the Australian South East Asia Forum (ASEAN) for a new inter-regional body running on goose fat, made mostly from recycled car and bicycle parts and the letters 'A', 'N' and the '&' from an old Remington typewriter. "We demonstrated by having Stephen Smith get in and pedal", says Rudd, his eyes twinkling with amusement as he reminisces. "We had difficulty convincing some of the ASEAN ministers at first, but we've agreed to schedule further talks over the matter. I'm confident we can convince them at a later date as to this plan."

So enthusiastic has the ever-inventive PM been about his gimcrack devices that, sources tell us, Therese Rudd has forced him to move several half-built devices into his cupboard at Parliament House. These include a scheme to patch up the global banking system with sellotape, an apparatus consisting of two and a half table legs and the bottom of an old fan used to deliver better health services to elderly Australians, and a little battery-run doohickey that makes a 'blurping' sound whenever a Coalition politician is concocting a political scheme in the next room.

But some challenges are even beyond our whacky widget-making leader, as Rudd admits to us in the interview. "Once I was at the cafe at parliament house and noticed that their coffee machine was out of order," says Rudd. "Straight away I leapt into action and fused together three matchsticks, coiled a heating element of aluminium wire around them, hooked it into a car battery that I happened to have on myself, and rigged up a series of gears, pullies, and levers with a few handkerchiefs, to service the coffee needs of myself and staff." Unfortunately, the device didn't work - and the PM and his friends ended up - using a plunger in his office!

"I'm still laughing about it now!" laughs Rudd.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Pointless political statement of the day

Kate Jones, Queensland Minister for Climate Change:
"As climate change increases, we know that we'll get more extreme weather events."

1) Climate change doesn't 'increase'. The effects of climate change might increase or decrease, but not climate change itself. I'm not sure whether this statement is tautological or illogical.

2) Queensland would get more extreme weather events in the future anyway. There's no necessary link as suggested here.

3) 'Extreme weather events' is a hopelessly vague term, encompassing any slightly unusual weather occurrence, and there is no way of definitively linking any single weather occurrence to climate change.

4) None of this is 'known'.

One sentence, fourteen words, four errors! I wonder if that's a record?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The fierce ding-a-ling of the Mayoral bicycle bell

London mayor Boris Johnson has rescued a woman who was being attacked by an armed group of young girls, chasing them down the road on his bicycle.

Franny Armstrong called for help as she was surrounded and pushed by the girls, one of whom had an iron bar, in Camden, north London, on Monday night.

The mayor, who was cycling past, stopped and chased the girls down the street, calling them: "Oiks".

Ms Armstrong said: "He was my knight on a shining bicycle."

Ms Armstrong directed the film Age of Stupid and is the founder of the 10:10 campaign, which aims to cut carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.
One fine day Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson was cycling down the road when all of a sudden he saw a set of bimonthly approval ratings for the Mayoralty in danger of falling.

By coincidence, just at that moment Famous Film Director Franny Armstrong happened to be standing around, being menaced by the inevitable result of the economic disparities in the modern urbanised society. Several of them, in fact.

"Save me!" shrieked Franny.

"What do you think you are doing?" cried Boris, grabbing a bar and swinging it wildly at the opinion polls. "This is just not cricket!" He chased the opinion polls down on his bicycle, snarling with rage.

"Oh Boris! You saved me!" cried Franny, rushing up to him and clasping her hands in a manner that was grateful but completely independent of hegemonic patriarchal values that dominate our society. "If it hadn't been for you, who knows what those inevitable result of the economic disparities in the modern urbanised society would have done?"

"What are you talking about?" frowned Boris.

"Didn't you see them? Those three inevitable result of the economic disparities in the modern urbanised society?"said Franny.

"Oh my God!" cried Boris. "I could have been killed! Help me! Help me Franny!"

And Boris Johnson immediately cycled off to his council chambers, where he swished and swirled his gavel at the opinion polls in peace and solitude, thinking to himself how horrible things could have been.

They call it the omelette plant

India regulator approves first GM vegetable
NEW DELHI — Indian regulators approved on Wednesday the introduction of genetically modified aubergines, potentially making them the first transgenic vegetable to be grown on local farms, a top official told AFP.

The 'omelette plant', which was lain by a duck-billed bottlebrush, is expected to be released commercially soon. It will be sold in the savouries section of the supermarket, alongside other genetically modified products, such as blue-vein-cheese whale sushi, and black dog forest cake pudding. Scientists who were working on the omelette plant are now focusing on their next project, producing a range of cat-faced tortoises to be sold in pet shops alongside tortoishell cats.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I drunk therefore I um

Where would we all be without drunk people?
We'd all be completely undrunk.
The world without drunks would be horrible.
The planet would utterly stunk.

A drunk person is just like a philosopher
Except they are somewhat more drunk.
A philosopher thinks more than a drunk person
But a drunk person is better - he thunks.

So lets all be thunkful for drunk people.
Let's all drink a nice glass of plunk.
Let's thunk of the troubles drunks go to
And let's buy one more glass of drunk.

Might read this out at my set at the Dan O'Connell on the weekend. I think I will. Come one, come all!

Monday, November 02, 2009


You've just learned about a major race taking place in your city. Three dwarfs wearing blackface and high heels will be competing in a round the track race. One dwarf is a neo-Nazi and will be wearing the Q'uran as a paper hat on his head; the second is an fundamentalist Christian and is wearing a skirt made out pages of the Torah; the third dwarf is an Al Qaeda terrorist and will tear pages from the Bible as he races. The three dwarfs will be competing to win, as first prize, a Creole Cream biscuit. Afterwards they will perform a harmonic choral rendition of Al Jolson's 'Mammy' for the eager crowds.

Will you bet on the neo-Nazi Q'uran wearing dwarf, the fundy Christian Torah wearing dwarf, or the Al Qaeda Bible-tearing dwarf?

You've got to be in it to win it!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

What Katy Didn't Do Next

So what did you do this weekend? Now there's a damned loaded question if ever I've heard one. I'll tell you what I did: I thought of things that I was going to do, and then went and thought of more things that I was going to do, and then went and thought of a whole bunch of other things that I was going to do, and then forgot the first bunch of things that I was going to do while being distracted by thinking of another bunch of things that I was going to do, and forgetting another bunch of things that I was going to do.

I present, as a case in point, a list. I wrote it on Friday. It's a list of things that I was going to, but so far haven't, written about. I like to write lists of things that I'm going to write about. Not only does it give you a completely pointless sense of accomplishment about things that you haven't done, but you can also neglect to read about them later (another useful way of forgetting about things).

Life 3.0 - a Users Guide

News article from a Wishy Washy person

Abecedarian Poem about typing

Facebook enemies list

There were several other items in that list. And all completely incomplete, I might note. I did get around to writing a rough draft of one of these items, but that might be all I ever do write of it.

It's most distracting to think, don't you think? I've been having thoughts for practically all my life, and I can tell you that as soon as you've thought of one thing, another thing comes along and you're suddenly thinking about that, and it's impossible to hold those two things in your head at once. I don't know how philosophers manage to think so determinedly about one subject over the course of an entire book. How do they stop themselves from being distracted? Maybe they spend most of their time not thinking, and that time they spend not thinking provides them with the lack of distraction they need to write their book.

As for myself, I spend half my day trying to remember the ideas that I had hours ago, and being frustrated because I can't remember them, while in my frustration, other ideas suddenly occur to me, as if they had been lurking in my head, waiting for just this moment to irritate me. Thinking about one thing while all this is going on, well, it's like climbing up a mountainside, while an avalanche is thundering down upon you, and a hurricane is whirling about you, and a vulture is sitting on your head trying to peck out your eyes, and a plane is shooting at you, and you are wearing only your underpants; and you are not only the person climbing up the mountainside, you're the avalanche thundering down as well as the hurricane, the vulture, the aeroplane, the person in the plane, and the underpants.

So please! Tell me what you were going to do this weekend but didn't do this weekend because you thought of other things you were going to do this weekend and caused you to forget those other things you were going to do on the weekend before spending half a day trying to remember what those other things you forgot were (and presumably still are) after you have forgotten them.

Loss loss!

THE leadership of Premier Nathan Rees in NSW will come under renewed pressure after a Newspoll that shows Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell has opened up a clear lead as preferred premier.
Barry O'Farrell overhauls Nathan Rees, The Weekend Australian

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has been polled the Australian Premier least likely to succeed at the polls, in an exclusive poll of pollsters polled by other pollsters.

Rees gained a clear lead in this poll, which indicated a clear loss in the polls, over his rivals in the other states, Anna Bligh, and David Bartlett. When asked about his victory in the lack-of-victory stakes, Rees has stated that "Oh, I'm not interested in what the polls on the polls say."

In other exclusive polls on polls news, Newspoll has polled the Roy Morgan poll as the poll most likely to succeed at being the poll least likely to succeed at being the poll most likely to succeed at winning the annual cricket match. However, Gallup poll has disputed these results, instead offering their own interpretation of the pollsters data, saying that Newspoll is the poll least likely to succeed at being the poll least likely to succeed at being the poll least likely to succeed in the monthly pollsters skolling competition. Meanwhile, Gallup poll has just released results revealing it is the poll most likely to release results which are similar to the results from other Gallup polls, making it a clear winner in the polls that are most like themselves stakes.

We will return to these important matters later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Objection by an object

Guest post by a square

Sir Leicester P.Q. Square is a platonic object, no matter how you choose to define 'platonic'. He recently gained second place in Life magazine's reader poll 'The Two-Dimensional Rectangular Object I Admire and Would Most Like To Be Like.'

JeffS said...
I recall one senior executive who made a really bizarre statement.

We were in the midst of a "reorganization" (it mostly smoke and mirrors), when a friend of mine noticed that every single organization chart being presented at a meeting had circles and ovals, instead of the typical rectangles.

When asked about this minor change, the senior executive answered, "Circles are friendlier than squares."

Speaking as a square of longstanding squaritude, I must object to this completely unfair characterisation! You will hardly find a more kindly and outgoing polygon than the common square.

We squares are preceded by our reputation:
- You could not imagine anywhere more friendly or communal than a town square, could you?
- You eat four square meals a day.
- We are fair and square.
- Everything is square between us.
- And, most importantly, it's hip to be a square.

In contrast, circles have a far more disreputable character:

- They are always wheeling and dealing.
- Life is a wheel of fortune.
- Vultures circle on their prey - they most certainly do not square on their prey
- And lest all this does not convince you, I should not neglect to mention the vicious circle.

I therefore trust that this will serve to rectify the blot on the character of amiable squares of all shapes (so long as those shapes are square) and sizes.

Ruefully, but as ever, amicably,
Sir Leicester P. Q. Square.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Good old-fashioned misery

... But while not having enough nutritious food is a big health risk for
those in poorer countries, obesity and being overweight pose yet bigger risks in
richer nations -- leading to a situation in which obesity and being overweight
causes more deaths worldwide than being underweight..."As health improves, gains
can multiply," it said. "Reducing the burden of disease in the poor may raise
income levels, which in turn will further help to reduce health inequalities."

The report warned that although some major health risk factors, such as
smoking, obesity and being overweight, were usually associated with high-income
countries, more than three-quarters of the total global burden of diseases they
cause now occurs in poor and developing countries...

Sex, alcohol, fat among world's big killers
It's just terrible how people all over the world are dying from pleasurable things like food, drink, sex, and cigarettes! We need to return to the good old horrible old days, when people died from awful miserable stuff like war, famine, pestilence, and plague.


I am desperate to avoid death from sex, alcohol, cigarettes, food, or pleasure. This is my preferred form of death.
Being decapitated by Ninjas
Being garotted by pirates
Being run off a very high cliff by zombies
Being eaten by gigantic killer flies from outer space
Contracting a rare form of Bubonic Plague that results in my head exploding at an inopportune moment
Having the Westminster Cathedral collapse on me after having saved Britain from attack by Cathars
Falling into a giant abysm that has opened in the earth and being burnt to death by the molten lava as it wells up from the earth's core
Having my eyes zapped out by a Hebrew spirit while opening up the Ark of the Covenant
Being turned into a pillar of salt
Being possessed by an evil demon from an ancient epoch and being consumed with flame when I attempt to enter a church
Free polls from

Five votes so far. It's almost like you people have a death wish, or something...

Three of you want to die by being turned into a pillar of salt. Good for you! Stand in saline solidarity with Mrs Lot!

Nobody wants to die by being eaten by gigantic killer flies. Just what have you lot got against gigantic killer flies and their urge to eat you? You'll take your gigantic killer fly and you'll like it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I think therefore I ambiguous

We just shifted all our stuff at work from one end of the office to the other, for some intensely obscure reason related to either ergonomics, quantum physics, trigonometry, or feng shui. It was essentially a simple idea that happened in a complicated manner (or possibly a complicated idea that unfolded in a simple way), involving official looking cabinets containing official looking documents being wheeled about like Daleks; books, papers, rosters, and paperclips being taken down and put back up; and a whole lot of things taken out of the backs of a whole lot of stuff and unplugged from a tangle of whatsits. I don't particular know what the things are, what the stuff they were in was, and which whatsits they were plugged into, but in the end we got everything together again and in working order, sort of.

More and more, I get the feeling that the entirety of life is like this. A whole lot of things taken out of the backs of a whole lot of stuff and unplugged from a tangle of whatsits, I mean. The metaphor is utterly ambiguous, but so is life. Life is full of things and stuff and whatsits with names and purposes that I have either forgotten, not understood, not been able to pronounce, or never been told. People crowd onto public transport twiddling with widgets and fiddling with gadgets that send smidgens of bits to other widgets and gadgets. What are they? What do they do? Should I feel threatened by them?

Consider this: many Germanic people regularly attended political meetings that were called 'Thing'. Thing! Doesn't this name express perfectly the utterly vague point of political gatherings, where deliberations are deliberated and decisions are decided upon in a way which may or may not make a complete lack of difference whatsoever to anybody and everybody involved? Why did the Anglo-Saxons ever stop speaking this way? Political meetings nowadays are more likely to involve elaborate metaphors about climbing the highways of opportunity in order to reach the participating communal enterprises of stakeholding equalities. Perhaps when you get down to it we all just have a widget plugged into the wrong whatsit, and if we untangle the network of thingumyjigs, we can get this political thing working again. I'll let Kevin Rudd know.

Despite - or perhaps because - of the fact that I have no idea what all this technology stuff does anymore, complex linguistic questions are involved. Why, aside from the obvious reason, does the name 'blog' seem to so perfectly express what I am doing now - and is it coincidental that it rhymes with an extremely familiar bodily function? When one uses Twitter, is one a 'twitterer', or a 'twat'? Can you be said to 'twitter' on Twitter, or do you twaddle on it instead? How on earth could you describe Facebook to the person who was you, three years ago? And can you facebook on twitter and twitter on facebook? For that matter, is it even possible to describe your job these days? I recently had occasion to ask the question 'what is an educational designer' of someone, and was told 'a person who designs education.' And my job title and description is pretty much the same. If you can't even describe what work you do properly, is it real work?

Things, whatsits, stuff, widgets, gadgets, twaddle. That pretty much sums up the universe, really. I suppose I should get back to work - that is, supposing there is actual work to get back to.

Jolly good, then!
Email: timhtrain - at -

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