Saturday, May 30, 2009

Forgetfullness Day

Unmemorial service held for politicians

Politicians across the country have today attended unmemorial services commemorating opinions and positions held today, and obscuring opinions and positions held yesterday.

The gathered politicians heard readings from religious leaders, and murmured the collective refrain 'Lest We Remember' at a series of dawn services.

"This event will remind us not to be reminded of things we don't want to be reminded of, not that we remembered to remember them in the first place," said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in a characteristically pithy statement of leadership intent.

For his part, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said: "It is important that we move on from yesterday's position and accept today's position so that we will be in a position to move on from today's position when the time comes," says Turnbull.

The leaders plan to put up a series of unmemorials around the country in order to commemorate their changeable positions of the day, and obscure their changeable positions of the past. "It will help us to forget our firm, unwavering commitments of yesterday, and make another round of firm, unwavering commitments today, as the need arises," says Mr Rudd.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hard to believe

If the next musical step down from a flute is a lute, what's the one after that? A ute?

Doesn't sound very musical if you ask me.

UPDATE! - Also, come to think of it:

Violincello > Violin > Viol, which is pretty vile, if you ask me.
Cornet > Corn

Not sure about Saxophones, Vibraphones, and Telephones, though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Contradictorily contradistinction

So apparently Clare Werbeloff ain't P J O'Rourke. Well, I could have told you that. It's not just that Clare Werbeloff is first and foremost, well, Clare Werbeloff, it's also that just about every person in the media has, from time to time, been referred to as an 'imitation P J O'Rourke' or a 'wannabee P J O'Rourke' or 'no P J O'Rourke'. Actually, just look at any person in the street, and I can pretty much guarantee you that they won't be P J O'Rourke either. Just about every person, anywhere in the world, is not P J O'Rourke; the world is practically teeming with non-P J O'Rourke's; we have a substantial overpopulation of non P J O'Rourke's where I live. It should be written on their driving licenses: not P J O'Rourke. Maybe it is.

Even P J O'Rourke may not be P J O'Rourke. The man could be suffering from a non-identity crisis, for all I know. I don't know how he manages it, but the alternative - actually being P J O'Rourke - is just too impossible to imagine, a contradictory contradiction in contradistinction to itself. Does he buckle under the strain from not being himself, one wonders? Or does he simply keep on keeping on with the business of not being the person who his name says he is, quietly writing away under the name of P J O'Rourke, who he isn't? It's a mystery that perhaps we'll never know the answer to.

He's good, but he ain't no P J O'Rourke.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cultural corner

Is it possible for a person to be a 'wog' and a 'bogan' at the same time? Clearly it is. The combination wog-bogan - or Wogan, in the colloquial - can be found in increasing numbers in our suburbs.

A typical wogan.

This distinctive cultural type can be identified by their habits of driving at high speed down suburban streets, hanging out at the train station while smoking pot, and commenting in an acerbic manner on the latest Eurovision final on television.

Interestingly, the wogan skips the process of birth, and simply exists in larger and larger amounts, in a state of late middle-agedness for decades, possibly centuries.

While the reproductive cycle of the wogan is still little known, it is postulated that their spread in recent years is due to a kind of process of mitosis. However, more anthropological and sociological research should be done into the culture of the wogan before this can be known for certain.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Perfectly hellish weather!" Ralph said.

So anyway, I finished off that Charles Williams book I was reading today (The Greater Trumps). It did flag a bit at the end, but that is typical of the Williams' style - the real pay off in his books doesn't come in the resolution of a plot, but in the utterly insane chaos that precedes it.

Charles Williams, as you may or may not know, was a member of the Inklings, the C S Lewis literary circle that included, well, Lewis, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers. Williams shared plenty of Lewis and Tolkien's ideas, and added some of his own bizarre enthusiasms. He was also a member of the Golden Dawn, with the result that a lot of his writing, even at its most Christian, had more than a little of the influence of the occult.

Williams wrote with vigour and imagination in popular literary styles about spiritual and mystical ideas. Many of the ideas he was articulating probably hadn't been attempted in a popular fictional style before; some probably hadn't even been thought of before Williams. Others he may have picked up from the obscure, even obscurantist, theology of his colleagues in the Golden Dawn. The result is that Williams usually goes a little crazy, throwing several different styles into each of his books, and usually based the plot around a kind of supernatural occurence, or, even more typically, an object with mystical powers. In War in Heaven, we get a lot of stuff about the Holy Grail; in Many Dimensions, a sort of magical dice that was owned by King Solomon. Pastiche, followed by mysticism. At his most distinctive, Williams managed somehow to sound like the more lurid horror thrillers or dark fantasies of the 1970s - in the 1940s. This is not an insult; I think there is something quite special and riveting about his style, and his ideas - Williams attempted to popularise difficult ideas.

The Greater Trumps has Williams writing at his best. It's part English country comedy, part ghost story, about a family who take a holiday in the English countryside during Christmas. They have with them some old tarot cards who one of their number - Henry, the fiancee of Nancy, whose house they are going to - has expressed interest in seeing. Henry subsequently uses the cards to call up a storm in an attempt to murder one of the others, Mr Coningsby, and loses the tarots - with the results that the storm never stops. And then - things get more and more insane.

Like every good English ghost story, it is absolutely and utterly essential that there be an old chap who bursts in on strange scenes and exclaims, 'Just what the devil is this?' That function is fulfilled in this book by Mr Coningsby, :

he tried to defy the human race with a plaintive antagonism - even the elder sons of the younger sons of peers might (he seemed to suggest) outrage his decencies by treading too closely on his heels.

There are a pair of young lovers - Nancy and Henry; there is an older maid, Sibyl, who is given over to odd notions about spirits and the like; and there are wicked older characters who plan to thwart the younger ones and steal their cards off them (Henry's relatives Aaron and Joanna).

The idea of a whole family at the centre of a vast, supernatural storm which has got out of control really appeals as the central metaphor of this sort of novel. It allows all the action to become wonderfully focused, and Williams' typically melodramatic style takes on a new kind of vivid intensity in this context. Besides which, the book can be ridiculously funny; the dialogue is full of corny sentences like:

Names had for him a horrid attraction, largely owing to his own, which was Lothair.

Is she still as mad as ever? Is she still crying out on the names of the old dead gods?

"Perfectly hellish weather!" Ralph said.

There's a lot more that's worth saying about this book, including the way it neatly subverts the pop-fiction stereotype about the man of action (actions by characters in this book may have consequences for other people, and frequently have consequences for themselves, but they have absolutely no control over the unfolding of the plot - the novel falls on the side of fate, and not free will); the interesting way Williams uses his characters stream of consciousness, and so on. But that's enough for now. If you can find this book (and I only did by accident, on the second top shelf of an obscure poetry bookshop hidden away on the second floor in a building off Swanston Street) then it's well worth reading.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tedium unmedium

When I started uni, I had a bad habit, originally acquired at English classes in high school, of watching films and reading a deep and meaningful significance into every film that I saw. 'Oh look,' my film-watching mind would say. 'She's making salad. Clearly, her use of the knife is symbolic of an internalised savagery, and the greenness of the salad compares with the greenness of the walls, thus creating a strong internalised dynamic of powerful greenness, which in turn becomes associated with her act of barbarous barbarity! What a powerful and significant scene.' Though, in fact, the scene was probably, in actuality, an unremarkable scene about a person making salad, and nothing more.

What I really loved were huge, Peter Greenaway-style spectacles, where a whole bunch of ugly and obtuse images and ideas were farted onto the big screen, and I could just pick and choose some specific stupidities according to my whims. Give me a scene of a bloodied woman making a salad with a meat axe in a grim, war-laden landscape, while fighting off Morlocks, and I would be happy. (Yes, it's true, though I was a pretentious dolt, I think I subconsciously longed for the innocent simplicities of dark fantasy.) But actually, I could find meaning and significance in anything (see discussion, above, about salad). By the time I finished uni, I think I'd pretty much realised my own stupidity, and was able to laugh at myself - I remember jokingly challenging my mate Aaron, when we went to 'The Phantom Menace', to see who could find the most Jungian references - but things had gotten pretty bad there for a while.

I mention this now because a few weeks ago, I saw an unremarkable film that was a little too boring, a little too amateur, and too long by far to really amount to much. And everyone else is raving about it: I wonder if they haven't, unconsciously, got into the habit of making a lot of significance from nothing, like I had at uni.

The film is Samson and Delilah. My local home-delivered Melbourne Times magazine said it was a must-see film. David Stratton gave it five stars, saying something like it was the most important Australian film ever. His colleague Margaret Pomeranz said it was one of the most wonderful films this country has ever produced. At New Matilda they were more level-headed, saying it had 'a rare authenticity' and signalled 'a powerful new voice'. Though maybe that was just an excuse for going off on one of their political rants. The film went to Cannes, though considering the state of the Australian film industry on most years, that's hardly a ringing endorsement. I remember the Oz even gave it several feature articles on its release - if they didn't think it was a great film, they were certainly doing a good impression of faking it.

Wonderful? Important? The film is deadly dull, a story about two kids who live in a town settlement a couple of hundred k's outside of Alice Springs. One of the kids has a bad habit of sniffing petrol. They get bored and move to Alice Springs. Nothing good happens to them in Alice Springs. They come back. The end. And that, in a nutshell, is it. There's nothing more too it, certainly no substantial character development. The film isn't a love story, as some have described it - the only real sign of courtship between the two lead roles is the scene where the boy Samson shoves his mattress over Delilah's fence, and she shoves it back. By the end of the film Samson is too zonked out on petrol to show any real emotion.

The main achievement of the film is length. Somehow, it's managed to fit the simple - even obvious - storyline into one and three quarter hours. It does this, mostly, by having long camera shots of Samson sniffing out of an old petrol can, and, well, long shots of Samson sniffing out of an old petrol can. To see this sort of thing once is horrifying, to see it twice is confronting. Three times, it seems pointless. The film makes a basic mistake: it tries to bore people in order to get them to feel what the boredom of the characters is like. I'm not sure to what extent this was the intention of the director Warwick Thornton, who seems like a smart guy; but that is what happens. Why do so many films do this? You wouldn't kill an audience to make a point about murder, and you wouldn't cut off their legs to make a point about amputation. So why is it all right to deliberately and repeatedly bore an audience to make a point about boredom?

I am wondering now if the entire critical community has gone nuts. Or maybe I so stuffed up my critical faculties at university by finding meaning and significance where there weren't any that I am now missing what other people find obvious.

Apologies for the rant; I'm reading a Charles Williams book at the moment that I quite like, and I might do a more appreciative review of that later tonight.

UPDATE! - It won the Camera d'Or. It feels kind of good to disagree with the entire world. Thanks Steve.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fog you!

Fog! From one corner of the city to the other.

Also, a yellow cat rubbed its back upon the windowpanes this morning, and I think I just saw a megalosaurus wandering down Bell Street.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ruling from the editorial desk

Everyone commenting on the internet now should be known as Clair, because then they would be Eclairs.

(No, I don't edit the internet, but it's high time someone does.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An open letter to tomorrow's me

Hey me,

Yeah you! You know who I'm talking about, and what's worse, I know who you're talking about, too!

Just what the hell do you think you're doing, kid? Gawking at the net when you should be working, huh? You're a freaking disappointment to me, your self of yesterday. Think of me as your better conscience, your teacher, the father of the self of tomorrow, whatever - just look at yourself, sonny. Some kind of slavering, drooling, witless idiot, who's noodling around on the net when they should be paying attention to their livelihood. Who do you think you are? Who do you think I am, for that matter? I'm not going to lend you my hands of today just because your hands of tomorrow can't be bothered to do their work! Who do you think we are, kid? Do we really have so little respect for our mutual selves that we let ourselves get away with that kind of sloppiness? I've got a good mind to reach out through the monitor and the time vortex of today (which to the me of tomorrow is the you of yesterday) and slap you around a bit.

Pull yourself together, kid! And get a freaking haircut, too! If you're not careful, one day, you might find yourself turning into... well... me. As a matter of fact - I THINK YOU ALREADY HAVE!

Your loving friend,
Today's me

PS Don't look so shocked, buster. We knew we had it coming from him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Like, influence

I always try to write like the writers that I like.

But I don't always like my writing like the writing of the writers that I like.

The writers that I like may like some writers that I don't like.

So though I like the writing of the writers that I like, I may not like their likings.

Also, the writers that I like may not like what they write like.

Like I don't always like what I write like - although I like the writers that I like to write like.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Countdown! Z, Y, X...

Right, time to get things in ship shape order around here. From now on, all numbers are to be arranged in alphabetical order. Also, the alphabet is to be arranged in numerical order. It's the only way to get things working, I tell you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An important issue

Campaign for a Safe Interjecting Room

Dear Mr Hockey and Mr Albanese,

I hope you will agree, people talking over other people who are talking is one of the biggest problems in the world today. It is a direct cause of miscommunication, anger, and confusion, and it has adverse effects in many workplaces. Yes, the chronic addiction to interrupting, overtalking, and ignoring what the other person has to say that many of our public figures suffer from is a blight upon our society, and we must do everything we can to tackle it.

That is why, Mr Hockey and Mr Albanese, I am writing to you to suggest a truly original and progressive method of tackling this horrible addiction to interrupting and overtalking. I would like the Federal Government to immediately fund a series of Safe Interjecting Rooms for our major towns and cities, so the chronic interrupters have somewhere to go to indulge in their practice without harming other citizens.

Here's how I think it would work:
- The person wishing to Interject books themselves a room at a certain time.

- They arrive in the room, which is occupied by a Certified Interjection Supervisor.

- The Certified Interjection Supervisor will then attempt to engage the Interjector in polite conversation, and the Interjector will proceed to talk over them.

I can see these Safe Interjecting Rooms as being frequented by many of our major politicians and parliamentary members, who have a demonstrable addiction to interrupting and overtalking, as any viewer of Question Time will be able to ascertain.

Joe, Tony - think about it! Our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, would finally have a place he could go to and say 'Now just let me say this', or 'Just on that point' or 'Can I just say this' to his heart's content! He wouldn't even have to wait for the Interjection Supervisor to start talking! Wilson Tuckey would finally have a supervised, safe room in which he could waffle a series of sort-of-meaningful points in someone's direction and not care at all whether they were listening or not! And politicians, such as yourselves, who occasionally appear on radio for the privilege of talking over one another in front of a listening audience could even have a special room set aside for yourselves where you could happily ignore and interrupt one another for as long and as loudly as you want. I think it makes sense, anyway.

There will, of course, be naysayers and disgruntled business owners in the community who will object to the presence of Interjecting rooms in their neighbourhood. They may argue that the Interjecting rooms, and the interrupters and overtalkers who frequent them, will lower the tone of the neighbourhood, and that they may begin talking over innocent business owners or people walking on the street. They may further argue that this will lead to a subsequent rise in crime and other not-very-nice things in their neighbourhood. I don't see it this way myself: I believe, if the rules of the Safe Interjecting Room are simple and clear, there is no reason why the overtalkers and the interrupters who frequent the Interjecting Room will carry their practice outside. Rather, they will be able to work on ways of cutting back on their habit of overtalking, and finally become productive members of society once again. We can at least try it.

After all - as years of government treatment of drug addicts, alcoholics, and cigarette smokers will show, we cannot just let people who have such addictions alone. We must subject them to a series of condescending programs which may or may not have some slight success in treating the addictions of a few of the addicts, which programs may or may not be retracted or curbed by other governments at a later date if they see fit, and in accordance with the electoral sympathies of a number of influential lobby groups. It's the way of democracy, guys! With luck and good judgement, we can have as much success in treating the problem of addiction to chronic overtalking and interrupting as we have with all the other drugs in our society!

Tim Train
The Coalition for a Safe Interjecting Room
Thornbury, Victoria

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Three news stories at once

Why write a series of news stories about events as they unfold when you can just write several at once? That's right, there's no reason why not.

Death toll rises, falls, stays exactly the same

J____, Monday - key power brokers have finally signed a peace agreement to a war that has not started yet, bringing an end to, and perpetuating this seemingly endless conflict. As the situation spirals further out of control, tensions continue to mount between the two countries which have at last agreed to set their differences aside and work to a better future. US President Barack Obama has praised both leaders for their handling of the yet to be unfolding tragedy, while calls for restraint and a return to peace have come from the UN and NATO. Sadly, it looks like no hope is in sight for this yet-to-be-wartorn corner of the world, which now everyone must work to rebuild if it is to forget the current catastrophe as the death toll rises, falls, and stays exactly the same.

Inquiry to be held into shamefully heroic handling of the impending crisis

B____ - inquests into the deaths of several B_'s in the current floods will be held today as several emergency workers prepare for the coming storms. Several emergency workers, who are bravely working to rescue citizens from the ongoing and coming onslaught will take the stand today and testify. Families of the four dead B_'s will be looking for answers and battening down the hatches from the emergency workers as the situation becomes worse, and the full extent of the damage is not yet revealed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dimericks: dull, dismal, dreary, depressing, or Dadaist limericks

I quite like the limerick form, though it does have certain limitations that are fun to play around with. Hence the following five poems, which I wrote yesterday and today more or less to keep my hand in and my writing brain ticking over. Despite the fact that they're basically just experiments with form, I kind of like them.

Just by way of explanation, Dimerick #1 was written as a kind of way of cobbling together a limerick entirely out of 'first lines', and fragments thereof, and #3 as an example of that joke where the poem/story ends before the plot is resolved. There's no explanation for #2, but I wrote it anyway.

There once was an old man in a tree.
A small dog once had a large flea.
I saw a brown cat,
There was a round hat,
My alphabet starts with a D.

There once was a dog in a hat,
Or was it a hat in a dog?
A dog in a hat
Or a hat in a dog,
Or a hat in a dog in a hat?

There once was a lady called Jill
Who got into a quarrel with Bill.
A challenge was sought;
They met and they fought
With swords drawn at sunrise, until...

Life wasn't too easy for Dean.
He was low. He was sick. He was green.
But at midday a grin
Spread from cheek to chin -
(A side effect of strychnine.)

Bob's bills are unpaid. He got laid
Off from work, and his land agent made
The rent double in size.
Bob's lonely and cries
In the corner. Bob's bills are unpaid.

What a thrilling life mine must be

I keep on getting messages like this on my computer.

Now, instead of waiting for your computer to make this mistake for you, you can just log on to this blog and let it make the mistake instead! The only problem is that when you go on to the internet you might think that your computer is accidentally making the mistake, causing you to refresh, refresh, refresh, and enter a swirling vortex of terror and endless refreshes. Apart from that, though, everything should be fine.

UPDATE! - Just realised this is Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day, Mothers! Enjoy your Page Load Error!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cosmetic surgery on plastic people goes wrong

'I thought I was just going to get some minor cosmetic surgery done on my face,' says Legoman JT, who refuses to have his full artificial identity revealed to the public. 'But how wrong I was!'

JT had originally opted for some minor plastic surgery to be done to his plastic face, hoping for a 'few small touch ups. Instead, when I saw myself after the surgery, I was horrified at the results!'

See the grotesque results for yourself (warning: graphic imagery follows)


After: JT may be still smiling on the outside, but he's not smiling on the inside anymore.

And that's not all. Many shocking cases have been discovered of cosmetic surgery on plastic people going horribly wrong, with dozens of examples of surgical neglect and carelessness being handed to the courts each month.

To any real artificial readers who may be considering artificial touch-up surgery to be done to them, this journal urges them strongly to reconsider.

'I just wish I had changed my mind!' groans JT. 'I look like exactly the same artificial person as before. I mean, couldn't they have at least tried to make me look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or something?'

Thursday, May 07, 2009

One from the archives

Now occasionally august magazines like the New Yorker and The Spectator will dig up material from several decades or centuries ago and republish it on their website. This is a pretty neat idea, so I think I'll do it too. Yes, despite the fact that this blog is only four and a bit years old, I present to you this advice page from the WillTypeForFood archives dated to 23 August, 1921. It was a guest post written by my then colleague, Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard. I hope you like it.
Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard's eminently sensible and admirably eminent travel advice for young ladies and gentlemen

Dear Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard,

Recently, while attending a ceremony held by Kong Mopuno of Rhodesia, I found myself surrounded on all four sides by stampeding elephants. What do you advise I do in future to avoid such a difficulty?

Sir Smurpalud

Dear Sir Smurpalud,

Your difficulty is easily avoided by not walking into a herd of stampeding elephants in the first place. Really, one cannot be too firm on this point. If you happen to see a herd of stampeding elephants, turn around and walk in the other direction. Make your feelings known on this matter from the outset. And most certainly, do not fraternise with other gentlemen, even if they happen to be royalty, if they are in the habit of holding ceremonies in the middle of herds of wild stampeding elephants. It is remarkably uncivil and impolitic of them.

FIG 1: A stampeding elephant: best avoided at all costs. Note the naked & fearsome savage bestride the elephant.

FIG 2: A photograph of elephants in a somewhat more placid mood.

Dear Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard,

One finds it increasingly difficult to travel nowadays in the manner to which one is accustomed - especially if one has never had much money in the first place. On my recent voyage to the continent, I was forced to mail myself to Marseilles in a bag not overly large. What do you advise that I do about this?

Ernesto Quillam

Dear EQ,

There are several methods for a gentleman to find the wherewhithal to travel in a comfortable manner. One is through criminal means and the others are through more respectable & conventional methods.

One such method is to be born rich. This is a relatively simple matter. In order to be born rich, you will need either a) a rich mother; b) a rich father; c) an even richer other parent, or d) a combination of the above. Find yourself some rich parents (perhaps through a well-drafted Advertisement in a quarterly journal or newspaper of some Influence), and arrange to be born to them some days after.

A third method is to stumble upon a great treasure, such as Alan Quartermain did in King Solomon's Mines. This way to riches can only be achieved after a great difficulty, personal hardship, and feats of personal endurance. It is therefore a relatively easy matter. I attach a picture showing how the finding of a treasure is to be done

FIG 3: The finding of a great treasure. If you have no pyjamas or turbans to wear for the occasion, consult with your local haberdasher.

Dear Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard,

My youngest son is voyaging by steamship to Cathay and The Furthest Ind. I am concerned: what if he is to abducted by Tatars upon the way? What can I do to allay my fears?

Yours, Q.D., or, 'A Concerned Mother'.

My Dear Lady,

Goodness Gracious! Yes, yours is very concerning news indeed. Tatars are a realistic threat on all sea voyages.

FIG 4: Tatars, a realistic theat on all sea voyages.

I cannot advise the not running into Tatars too highly. Other threats your son might expect include Berbers, Cathars, Mongols, Pirates, The Jerry, the Turkomen, and the Fearsome Hun.

FIG 5: The Fearsome Hun. Note the Grotesque & Abominable Facial Features.

I expect your son will run into them at a rate of one or two a week. O, I am afeard for his life! This means certain death! Is there not anything you can do to dissuade him from this Fateful and Perilous Journey?

& co. & co.,
Lord Grosvenor Mountbatten Goliard-Goliard.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance: please don't let it ruin our thriving multicultural society.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Words that haven't quite made it into the dictionary yet

filibluster (v, n) 1) To deliberately make a prolonged speech before an official body by making a statement consisting entirely of 'ums' and 'aws' and 'err... ha has' with the purpose of delaying or using up the entire alloted time 2) The speech that is thus made.

unch (n) 1) Unit of measurement. Not quite an inch. 2) A non-inch.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Anxiety encountered on being greeted by a person who you do not recognise: a poem

They’re the ones that you meet in the bus or the train or the tram or the park or the street
You don’t know that they know you but they do and they say your name and casually greet
And before you remember the name you’ve forgotten, or even to just say hello,
Or to greet them in kind with a casual greeting, they vanish, they absent, they go;
And you stand staring after wherever it is that whoever it was just went to and try
To think of their name, and you think that you think that it starts with a letter like I –
Or maybe a letter between Q W and B, or maybe a C,
But then maybe it sounds like ‘Abecedarian’, or maybe you just call them ‘Zee’;
But you can’t place a name to the face, or a face to the name, or in your case
You can’t even and either place a name to the name or a face to the face
Or the one to the one or the other the other, or the one to the other;
Or you don’t recognise them, but you think that you know their mother.

And anyway, who are these people who think that they know you, and greet you and just disappear?
Do they greet you by name as some sick kind of game just to play on your paranoid fears?
Do they call random names until someone looks up and they know that they have scored a hit,
As they notch up their scores in a little red book, having scared someone out of their wits?
Do they hover in crowds like KGB spies, just waiting to single you out,
As they thrive on your misery, terror, anxiety, horror, neurosis, and doubt?
Is it fair for them, really, to blithely pronounce (without your permission) your title?
I mean some kind of licence, or written consent, would definitely seem to be vital.
Because saying a name implies a relation that somehow you cannot recall,
Struck up in a bar that you cannot remember because maybe it’s not there at all:
Some distant location, some strange conversation, sometime, somewhere, on some other occasion –
Is this really a real relation, or just an odd kind of hallucination?
And if people you definitely don’t know can know you, perhaps they don’t really exist -
Or maybe you cannot recall when you met them because at the time you were pissed.

(And names? What’s a name? Should we have names at all? They should make naming people a crime –
Because people who don’t really know other people call them by their names all the time.
The world without names would be peaceful and happy and full of anonymous bliss,
And it’s only when parents give babies their names that babies start going amiss.)

And if they know your name then what else do they know? Your fetish for pink underwear?
Your fears about scones? Your feelings for dogs? Your thoughts about red pubic hair?
And just what do they know that you don’t know they know, or what don’t they know about you?
And just who do (whoever they are) think they are really? Who do they think they are? Who?

Conversational snippet

Yesterday, I took Mum and my brother to Williamstown, a touristy suburb on the bay that has a normally fairly busy shopping strip. Being a Monday, everyone had decided to stay inside and consequently many of the stores were closed. Still, we got some icecream and went down to the park, where the following conversation occured:

ME: Well Mum, here's the bustling suburb of Williamstown.

MUM: Where's the bustling? We haven't got to that bit yet.

ME: (Looking down the street, which is empty of anyone except the occasional shopkeeper standing outside waiting for a customer to arrive) Well... there's a bus. So there you go. It has to be bustling.

Incidentally, on her visit Mum noted an oddity about Melbourne suburbs - they're the same as other suburbs elsewhere, but they often come with an added 's'. William(s)town, Broadmeadow(s)...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Random wintery observation

Crumpet, it's the thinking man's crumpet, you know.

Random comment after reading a snippet in The Australian

Those dastardly Indians, not content with stealing all those horrible, horrible telemarketing jobs off Australians, are now conspiring to produce cheaper books at competitive market prices for us!
As publishers and authors line up against the bookselling chains to fight the removal of restrictions on importing overseas editions of bestsellers, it's worth remembering that it's not just American and British editions that retailers would have access to: it's Indian editions. That's why the US and Britain both have import restrictions...
Because we have no problem with a phone call from a British or UK or Australian telemarketer, now, do we? It's only when it comes from an Indian that it becomes one. Same deal with the books. What a load of old bollocks.
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