Friday, February 27, 2009

Fridge tragic challenge

Look at these craptacular 'Fridge Magic' stickers!The Hoydens found 'em...

What can you do with something like that? I decided to write some found poetry:

Sherbert sparkle lipstick clothes!
Fluffy princess heart!
Sunshine! Music! Butterfly!
Glitter sugar FART!

And that's your challenge, too, if you choose to accept it. Use some of the words from the 'Fridge Magic' stickers above in a short poem, or even a short story. Bonus points will be awarded for the more words you can fit in, or for especially creative or unexpected uses of particular words. Go to it! Show the 'Fridge Magic' stickers the respect they deserve!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kill! Type for Food!

Just read this little snippet in The Melbourne Times today:
Walking through Trades Hall is like taking a ghost tour through Melbourne's union history.

Above the main staircase, near a mural commemorating the architects of the eight-hour day campaign, four bullet holes pepper the wall.

According to Trades Hall legend, the bullet holes are bloody reminders of a Typographical Society ballot gone horribly wrong....
NEVER mess with a typist!

UPDATE! - Oh, all right. I checked, and typists probably wouldn't be included in a typographer's union at all (typography - the art or process of printing with types - Macquarie). You can mess with me if you want...

Helplines for the helpless

It's great to be living in an advanced technological age of mobile phones and the internet. And by far the best thing about living in this advanced technological age of mobile phones and the internet have got to be the telephone helplines - lines that put you on hold for hours before sending you through to a frazzled worker in a distant land, who gives you vague and non-specific advice that may or may not relate to the problem you wanted help with in the first place.

Why hadn't we ever thought of helplines before this advanced age of mobile phones and the internet? Imagine if we had had a helpline when books were first invented. In fact, since nary a day goes by without some pundit punditising about the death of the book, now would seem an excellent time to start up a books helpline.

- Hello, Books Helpline.

- Oh, at last. I've been waiting for ages.

- Yes.

- And I still wasn't sure, in the end, whether I should have gone through to the 'general inquiries' section, or...

- We'll see what we can do sir.

- Anyway, my problem is this, right? I've bought this book...

- Okay.

- And I'm impressed! It certainly looks like up-to-date software. I'm sure you guys have put in a lot to the manufacture of it, this book...

- Uh huh.

- But there's one problem... this book...

- Yes?

- Well... how do I make it work?

- You need to make your book go, is that the problem?

- Yeah, you see, the plug, that's just it, the book doesn't even have a plug! I can't attach it to a power source because it doesn't have a plug! And I can't even find any power socket for...

- (Laughs) Oh, I think I see the problem sir. The book doesn't have a plug.

- Doesn't have a plug? What do you mean? There's got to be a power socket, at least...

- No, it doesn't have a power socket either. You see...

- Or maybe it's one of those batteries. How long does it last? Will I have to recharge it? Or just keep buying new ones?

- No sir, if you can just let me explain... a book doesn't need access to a power source, it doesn't need a battery. It'll work without any of those things.

- Really?

- Yes. You just open it up and read it.

- Oh. I see.

- You see?

- Um... (puzzled)... how do I do that?

- Hello, Books Helpline.

- At last! This bloody thing! I've been trying and trying to get this thing going right, and I can't get it working, my wife can't get it working, and my kids can't get it working either!

- What seems to be the problem, sir? Can you describe it in any more detail?

- Well it's a book, sure. It performs well enough. It's got plenty of words in it, if ever I want to read something.

- Yes.

- But the instructions that came with it, they're stuffed, I can't understand them...

- What do you want to know sir?

- 'The bookmark', it says, what is this bloody 'bookmark'? It says it comes with the 'book', but I sure as hell can't find it in the 'book'.

- Sir, I want you to try this for me. You might find the bookmark poking out of part of the device - it may be a narrow strip of paper . Check at the top, bottom, and sides of the device. Look carefully...

- I'll check. (Pause) It's not there!

- Hmm, well...

- No, I checked very carefully, and it's not there. Oh, HELL, has the stupid thing lost a component in the delivery? Because I can bloody well tell you, I've had enough trouble already, and...

- Sir, is your book a hardback or a paperback?

- Huh? What?

- I'm trying to determine what type of book yours is, a hardback or...

- A softback? I wouldn't bloody know, these foreign terms...

- No no, sir, you see, some books are called 'hardbacks', and they often come with a special strip of cloth attached to them which is used as a bookmark, and I'm just trying to ascertain...

- Well, how would I know? I've just got this thing, how could I tell...

- Well sir, there's a simple test you can apply. The cover of a hardback is thick and very difficult or to fold. The cover of a paperback is thin and relatively easy to fold. Have a check and see if the cover could be folded easily - don't fold it, you might damage the product, just test it and see how malleable it is.

- Let me see (Pause.) No. No, it doesn't fold.

- It definitely doesn't fold.

- No... (long pause).... No. It definitely doesn't fold.

- Ah. Then I believe you have a hardback there, sir.


- I'm getting to that. Sir, I want you to feel aroundd the cover for a strip of fabric - possibly made out of silk or a similar fabric. Feel carefully. Take your time...

- Wait... no ... no... doesn't seem to be there... no ... no... no... wait... wait! I've got something1 It seems to be wedged intto the book pretty tight...

- Is it definitely attached to the cover?

- Yes... yes. Definitely.

- Congratulations, sir. You have found your bookmark.

- What? This thing is...

- Yes, sir.

- Hooray!

- Will that be all sir?

- Oh, yes... no, wait. There is one other thing....

- Yes sir?

- Are you Indian?

- (Laughs) Have a nice day sir.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Occident incident

So, today S. typed...

China is west with human rights

which she later changed to:

China is worst with human rights.

I mailed back:

I'm sure it was an occident.

Sometimes, the brilliance of your one-liners just isn't appreciated.

Though I suppose it could be that everyone had too much work to do, anyway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Technicolour technispasm!

Look at this house. Just look at it. And don't forget to take the photo tour.

I keep on coming up with different euphemisms to describe it.

Big plastic game hunting - the house!

A house that makes you doubt the universe's sanity. If it exists, it's as if existence itself has had an acid-induced hallucination.

Technicolour technispasm!

If I had the money that the people had who built this house when they built this house, I'd be sure to use it responsibly. By not building this house.

Reality meets a psychopathic fantasy of Salvador Dali's brain meets the spirit of renaissance architecture, the three separate entities copulate, and produce a horror child.

Who built this house?

Why did they build this house?

Did they blow their entire fortunes on this neo-Gormenghast?

Who would buy this house?

What are the books in the library?

Did the piano ever get used?

Can you imagine what it would be like growing up in this house?

One things for sure. It doesn't just take one person to conceive a monstrosity of pretense like this. It takes a village. Check out the names of the suburb, the area, the road, and the adjoining road. (Paradise Point, on the Sovereign Islands, on Britannica Drive, just down the road from King Arthurs Court.)

We often say 'beyond words'. But this place really is beyond words.

(Via Deborah.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Be an Alfalfa man!

Any similarity to this magazine is purely fictional, not to mention intentional.

Imbruglia embroigled with roigle?

Nothing much to say about this idle news snippet speculating about a possible romantic attachment between Natalie Imbruglia and Prince Harry, just wanted to write that headline.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Be a role model for your children!

When I grow up, I want to be a
(Want to be a, want to be a)
When I grow up, I want to be a
Grumpy Dad in IKEA.

"Where are we now?" "It's on what floor?"
"We follow what?" "And what's that for?"
Bark at uniform attendants -
"Who?" "When?" "Why?" "What?" start every sentence.
When I grow up I want to be a
Grumpy Dad in IKEA.

Whine at foreign Swedish names
Growl at kiddies playing games
Sit down, don't stand - and don't shout, talk!"
When I grow up I want to be a
Grumpy Dad in IKEA.

Pace back and forth and to and fro
Like a caged and frightened bear,
"What now? Oh GOD! No, fine! You go!
I'll think I'll sit down on this chair..."
When I grow up I want to be a
Grumpy Dad in IKEA.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Monkey's flunkey

The news, slightly distilled, in poetic form

A monkey is loose! A monkey is loose!
Shock horror! Shock horror! (So shouted the news.)
The public is terrified! frantic! delirious!
Those who make opinions opine ‘This is serious...’
For - monkey see monkey do monkey take too much drugs
Then monkey turn into a murderous thug.

If you still remain easy, and calm, and subdued,
The news gets far worse:
............................ THE MONKEY IS NUDE!

(First made as a comment here.)

UPDATE! - Apparently Fox's legal team had this video pulled since part of it was faked (the story itself is authentic, but a comment by one of the guys at the end was apparently doctored.) Anyway, there's another YouTube here, though it's probably not going to be there for very long. Also, see this.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No, you don't

CASE ONE: Because of my wisdom teeth operation, I was on sick leave at the start of this week. I felt guilty about taking the Monday off, and then felt anxious about going back to work, and then spent most of the day debating whether I should call up work and take the Tuesday off on sick leave, and then after I did so felt guilty about it. I went to work on Wednesday, deciding it would be lazy not to, and also feeling, oddly, that I should be saving the sick leave up for another day (which probably wouldn't happen anyway). When I wrote up the sick leave in the computer and took the dentists certificate in to HR, I discovered the dentist had given me permission to take ONE ENTIRE WEEK off on leave. Bloody hell, I thought, and here I am wasting it at work...!

CASE TWO: This morning I bought two pens from the Moreland newsagency. Because I bought those pens, I missed the 8.20 train to work. As I sat down at the train station, I discovered that one of the pens didn't work anyway. Then I discovered that the train service had cancelled the 8.40 train to work, meaning that I'd get to work 20 minutes late. Fair enough, I said to my self, I'll just work back 20 minutes this afternoon and catch the 5.30 PM train back, instead of the 5.10 PM.

As it turned out, the 5.30 train may or may not have come, but I got to the train station, just in time, to catch the 5.10 train, running 10 minutes late. When I got off, some 10 stops later, I walked down the street, only just missing the bus back home. Bugger, I said to myself. If only my train (though it was, really, the train before my train) hadn't been so damned late (though if it had been any earlier I would have missed it completely) I wouldn't have missed that bus (though doubtless I would have ended up waiting 20 minutes for another bus, complaining profusely to myself and the world).


Conclusion: you may think this is just an innocuous chain of events that reveal no great meaning or purpose. To me, it suggests quite the otherwise: having, perhaps, learned from my example, the ENTIRE UNIVERSE is working to contradict me. The universe is a bastard!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Specubating, masterlating

Apparently The Australian are speculating about the possibility of an early Queensland election. That's no surprise. Speculating about the possibility of an early state election is like speculating about a double dissolution election is like speculating about leadership tensions in the Labor Party is like speculating about the possibility of a handover of power from John Howard to Peter Costello in the Liberal Party is like speculating about the possibility of John Howard standing down after next election is like speculating about other people's speculating.

Every newspaper does it, every television station does it, every mainstream media source does it, which is to say they speculate about the speculations of other speculators about politics. It's easy. Here's how.
There are speculations about the possibility of a (early election/double dissolution/leadership tensions/handover of power/stand down)...
The speculations are always done by someone else, usually a competing media source. That way if the speculations turn out to be wrong (as they usually are) the competing media source is to blame. If the speculations turn out to be right, you can always claim them for your own.
An inside source who is close to (Anna Bligh/John Howard/Peter Costello/anyone else) confirms that they are (vaguely contemplating the prospect/annoyed at someone), which could lead to a (public declaration/leadership spill/showdown/newsworthy occurence) within (days/weeks/months)
The unnamed inside source, of course, could be almost anyone with passing acquaintance with any of the people in question at all, and may simply be an entirely fictitious production out of the brain of the journalist writing the article. Sometimes, journalist ethics about non-disclosure of sources can be a handy way to cover up one's own lies...
(Insert several paragraphs detailing the non-events leading up to this non event)
Make frequent reference to previous articles dealing with previous speculations about previous non-events that you (or another media source) have written about. It's the perfect way to provide details without providing any detail!

I love all this speculating about speculating. It gives the newsreaders so much news to read out, provides opinion columnists with so many ready-made opinions to have about the opinions of other opinion columnists, and in general does its best to keep our media industry afloat in these perilous financial times.

And hey, sometimes the thing that we all speculate about even happens!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Unmedicated predications

Predictologists predicting the inaccuracy of predictions by other predictologists have predicted wrongly, according to some predictologists.

These predictologists further predict that the inaccurate predictions by the other predictologists will lead to increasingly inaccurate predictions about other predictologists predictions in the future.

However, the predications made by these predictologists to predict their predictions (regarding other predictologists inaccurate predictions) have been contradicted by another group of predictologists.

"The predications leading to these predictologists' predictions are predictably wrong," says Dr Proctor A. Prolyx, Chief Predictologist at the Palestinian Institute of Predictology. "There exists a predictable trend to unpredictability in the predications predicated by these predictological experts."

While it is impossible to predict whether the predictions of predictologists regarding the unpredictable predicability of the predications of other predictolologists are predictably unpredictably or unpredictably predictable, it seems that the battle regarding the predictability of predicologists predictions is not likely to go away any time soon.


Brevitudinousness is the soul of witlessness

Just reading the Wikipedia entry on Brian Aldiss, and I came across this snippet:

Around 1964 he and his long-time collaborator Harry Harrison started the first ever journal of science fiction criticism, Science Fiction Horizons, which during its brief span of two issues published articles and reviews by such authors as James Blish, and featured a discussion among Aldiss, C. S. Lewis, and Kingsley Amis in the first issues, and an interview with William S. Burroughs in the second...

Brief span? I'll say! You can't get much briefer than two issues. There's a glorious first issue, which announces its hopes and intentions introduces a whole bunch of interesting authors; and then there's the sorrowful last issue, announcing the difficult financial circumstances it's encountered, and the reasons why it's had to fold, and apologising to the reading public. This run is so brief that the first issue is also the penultimate issue.

Come to think of it, is a magazine that only runs for one issue even a magazine?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Unspeakable! Unimaginable! Unfolding! Underpants!

Man who suffers unspeakable tragedy speaks about it

Mr Oggleden Oggleby's life in Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs was just an ordinary tragedy - until the unspeakable struck! Now, Mr Oggleby has agreed to speak about the unspeakable tragedy of his life to this paper.

"It was absolutely ineffable... indescribable... absolutely, utterly, unsayable," says Mr Oggleby, who works three days a week as a telemarketer for the deaf-mute community.

The unfolding unspeakable tragedy occurred on the morning of Saturday, when Mr Oggleby attempted to call his mother: "but the phone lines were down! I couldn't speak to anyone at all! It was unspeakably horrific!"

Further details in Mr Oggleby's unspeakably unfoldingly indescribable tragedy will soon be described in detail, in book form. However, Mr Oggleby is currently speaking about his unspeakable tragedy to audiences as part of a speaking tour. When we asked him about that, he said, "I'm not speaking about that."

INSIDE THE PAPER: Unimaginable disasters that could happen to you!
We sketch out, in every detail, unimaginable disasters that you don't want to happen to you, and the unbelievable horror that you will feel when what you don't want to happen to you unimaginably happens!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The losing of wisdom

I had my wisdom teeth out today. Having your wisdom teeth out is a strange experience in which the dentist romps joyously around in your mouth with a succession of space-age metal implements that make disturbing whirring, buzzing, grinding, crunching, slicing, dicing, cracking, and pulverising noises, while murmuring "you may feel some discomfort" or "you may hear a slight cracking noise, don't worry, it's just a tooth coming loose, nothing to worry about", or, "you may feel uncomfortable, but you won't be in any pain" (dentists, as I have learned from a previous visit, have hundreds of words to describe slight gradations of sensation, from discomfort through to pure, excruciating, Vlad-the-Impaler-sanctioned torture). You, meanwhile, with your mouth numbed with anaesthetic and jammed open with a cork of wood, half of your mouth sliced open, and the other frozen, do your best to murmur responses back at the dentist: a histrionic "Mmmm!", or a spasmodic twitching of the right foot...

Oddly enough, it wasn't any of the probing or gouging or slicing or chopping (etc) that reduced me to a nervous wreck. Halfway through the operation, with the dentist happily rending tooth from bone, I realised that I really, really, REALLY wanted to pick my nose. But how could I, with all these people that I didn't really know, watching on?

Life just isn't fair.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bland of the dead

Last night I watched Cherry 2000, a film in which actors who can't act team up with scriptwriters who can't write, and do battle with one another with guns made of plastic in sets made of cardboard.

The plot, which is almost entirely superfluous, involves a guy whose robot girlfriend breaks travelling into a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a tracker who looks like Melanie Griffith (conveniently acted by Melanie Griffith) to find another robot girlfriend. In the end he settles for the tracker who looks like Melanie Griffith, but it's a close call. Those points in the plot that call for dramatic motifs and plot development are largely subsituted for by sexual innuendo and schoolboy jokes: "Travel to a bar called Glory Hole... you'll find a tracker called Johnson..."

In the end, I rather enjoyed it. The script had an undeceptive simplicity to it - you might say it was full of hidden surfaces.

(Car falls into the water)
JOHNSON: I hope you can swim.
TREADWELL: Don't you think it's a little late for that?

HE: Make some sandwiches.
SHE: No.
HE: Well I'll just go and shit in my hat.

Cherry 2000. An excellent film to watch if you're not watching any other film.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Apostrophes! And coming contractions!

On the question of whether to remove the apostrophe from written English

Should we retract the contraction?
Is it just a verbal distraction?
Or would this retraction
Become a detraction
From syntactic discourse in action?

What I'd hypothetically do in the hypothetical circumstances of the apostrophe being removed

I side with Lynne Truss's faction:
I'd never approve such redaction.
If some law were enacted,
And they were retracted,
I'd try to retract the retraction.


Whenever the question of 'affect' (to act on, produce an effect or change) and 'effect' (that which is produced by some agency or cause) is raised at work, I am absolute resolute in my uncertainty.

Today at work we also encountered the question of 'proscribed' (denounced or condemned) and 'prescribed' (appointed, ordained, enjoined) 'burns'. What, exactly, is the difference between 'prescribed burns' or 'proscribed burns'? We are of course in bushfire season, so most burning would be 'proscribed'. But then, sometimes firies like to do controlled burns of areas in order to cut fires off - 'prescribed burns'. In these circumstances, is the prescription proscribed, or the proscription prescibed? On this question, my absolute uncertainty is ambiguously definite.

And I couldn't help wondering out loud, when the inevitable question of 'affect' and 'effect' was later raised at work, whether the affective proscription of effects was to be prescribed, or if the effective prescription of affects was to be preferred.

If anybody could take a minuet or to to proscribe an explication for this difficult questing, I would be infinitively great full.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Things on my kitchen shelf recently affected by the hot days

Peanut butter
Oil partly separated from the peanut mixture.

Creamed honey
Cream separated from the honey.

My brother's jar of home-made jam
Jam expanded in the heat, and oozed from the top and out of the sides of the jar.

Too much show, too little tell

Last year I saw the movie Stardust, and I can't emphasise too much how awesome it was. The film was adapted from a book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, though the scripting was done by the movie director. How disappointing, then, after my enjoying the film of the book so much, to pick up the novel and find it was just the book of the film.

I checked on Wikipedia last night (as I was halfway through the book) and found that it was originally written as an illustrated novel. My copy doesn't have the illustrations, but is otherwise the same. The chapters are made up, not so much of words and paragraphs, as of images and jump cuts. Gaiman will set the scene up for one character, jump to another scene in which an event is taking place for another character, jump to a third place to introduce a third character, before maybe returning to one of his two previously introduced characters. Anybody's whose read a popular novelisation of a film or a television series will recognise this technique - it's interesting, although the great trouble with it is that it lacks the precise timing of film.

As for the images, Gaiman sets them up brilliantly. The trouble is that he doesn't often describe them, which you have to do in a novel - it can't just show them like a film or a comic book. He ends chapters with cliffhangers, but the cliffhangers are almost entirely visual - for instance, in one chapter ending he plonks two of his characters in the middle of the sky. But his description is almost pointless, a mere succession of words - 'looking down on the hills and trees and rivers far below them.' There's nothing there to tell us what it feels like, and he doesn't have his characters show any signs of fear. It's a great scenario for artists or actors to flesh out; but as a novelist, Gaiman has only done half the work.

All of which is to say that as a novelist Gaiman seems to suffer from a surfeit of show and not tell. You have to tell in a novel; it's all you've got. Novelists spend a lot of time explaining to, and even arguing with, the characters and the audience - that's part of the fun. It also lets them get away with lots of things that film or comic writers are not able to get away with - to both reflect on events from a distance, and to enter into the heads of their characters and let them explain and debate about their own life. In this book, at least, Gaiman doesn't do any of that.

And there's very little wit, either, which most novelists should have to some degree. The set ups are brilliantly dramatic, but the dialogue is never very interesting in itself. Even those situations where the use of word play is obvious, Gaiman avoids it. The closest he gets to it is the scene where Yvaine (a main character, originally a star (don't ask)) falls to earth and swears, which is kind of cute, but not particularly witty. You can almost see the speech bubble forming out of Yvaine's mouth as she says the words.

Is Gaiman always this bad? Is he only good as a comic-book author or scriptwriter? I'd be interested in hearing from readers who've looked through his other books.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Just Tright

As I was wandering idly down the supermarket today, somewhere in the cereal aisle, where health freaks jog up and down looking for good 'half the calories for the price of one' deal, I started wondering what a weird thing breakfast cereal was. Why do we eat it? Why did we ever start eating it? I like Corn Flakes as much as the next sucker, but what are they, really? Corn Flakes don't look like corn, they don't taste like corn, and their principle ingredient is usually milk.

Some cereals don't even seem to have any active ingredients. You'd need a degree in advanced algebra just to understand the title of Special K, much less the list of ingredients. I love them and have no idea what is in them - they could be a by-product of cigarettes for all I care. I can't even pronounce the title right (I keep on calling them Special K Mart).

And Weet-Bix. What the hell are they? Especially the 'Bix' - has anyone heard of an ingredient called 'Bix'? These things are basically cuboids flavoured with wheat to keep the health freaks happy. Dad likes to mush them up in a bowl and add milk and digest them as a kind of uniform soggy brown mush. They seem to represent a significant step in the evolution of human food from organic to the cardboard box.

All in all, I don't suppose breakfast cereals serve any real purpose other than to harden a kid's stomach up for the more important and nutritious fare that he is to experience as an adult - flavoured styrofoam rings like Cheezels, and knobby coagulations of salt like Twisties. As an active eater of all these important food groups, I actively support breakfast cereal makers in this noble endeavour.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The wit and wisdom of my Mum

On stealing things from hotels:
"Sampling the soap/shampoo etc
is very sensible and can see you through for many weeks."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How to travel internationally without leaving home

Move to the Gaza Strip, right next to the border. What with the Israelis annexing Palestinian territory, and the Palestinians attempting to reclaim it, you're almost guaranteed to be in a different country every day!

Passports not necessary. Dress sensibly, considering the weather (flak jackets, bullet-proof vests...)
Email: timhtrain - at -

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