Monday, September 28, 2009

Fiendishly complex

I've been following the discussion on this thread at The Punch, about university student media, and I couldn't help noticing how conversation turned to the complexities of web publication. Students are having difficulty getting their print publications online - which is odd, because the difficulties they have aren't all that difficult. 


STEP ONE: Get an account with Blogger or Wordpress. 

Aaaaaand that's about it, really. I wonder which step the students are having trouble with? 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Team songs for writing

Team songs for writing - designed in order to attract the support of the vital drunk yobbo demographic in service of the Australian literary community

Give me a P! (P!) Give me an O! (O!) Give me an E! (E!) Give me a T! (T!) Give me a R! (R!) Give me a Y! (Y!) What have we got? 
(POETRY, YAY!!!!!) 

Well there she was a writin' in her book
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)
Usin' commas hyphens quotation marks full-stops
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)
Upper case! (Upper case!) 
Lower case! (Lower case!)
Upper case lower case punctuation is so fine!
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)

She used a bracket she used parenthesis
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)
She underlined for extra emphasis
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)
Em dash! (Em dash!) 
En dash! (En dash!) 
Em dash en dash punctuation is so fine!
(Singin' semi-colons apostrophes and dots)


Give me an A! (A!) Give me a R! (R!) Give me an I! (I!) Give me a S! (S!) Give me a T! (T!) Give me an O! (O!) Give me a P! (P!) Give me a H! (H!) Give me an A! (A!) Give me an N! (N!) Give me an E! (E!) Give me an S! (S!) What have we got? 


Thomas! Thomas! He's our Mann! If he can't do it, Immanuel Kant!


Editors! (Clap clap clap!) Editors! (Clap clap clap!) Editors! etc... 


Give me an S! (S!) What have we got? 


O-weyoweyoweyo-oh! Haiku! Haiku! etc... 


Give me an exclamation mark! (!) What have we got? 


Up there Kenneally! 
In there and write! 
So 'em your letters! 
Show 'em what's right! 
Up there Kenneally! 
You're outta sight!
Li'l Aussie Battler,
Show 'em how to fight!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

How to make the universe explode

Godwin's Law states that in the course of an internet argument, there will come a point at which someone will make a reference to the Nazis. Blair's Law states that the worlds various idiocies are gradually combining to make one gigantic, useless force. By judicious application of these two scientific principles, you can make the universe explode - in your own home!

1. Get involved in an internet argument about the Nazis. 

2. Insist, against all comers, that Hitler is 'like Hitler', and that all the historical parallels and precedents back up your argument that the Nazis bear important similarities to the Nazis. Call anyone who disagrees with you racists. 

3. The universe will rapidly converge in a naked singularity centred upon Rachel Maddow, and will explode. Easy! 

So kids, now that you know how to make the universe explode in your own home - don't try this at home. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Please rectify immediately

Music cliches I dislike
Folk music that fades in with wafty synthesiser chords.

Fake and exaggerated accents by wistful pop-rock singers.

Sad piano music used whenever a tabloid reporter does a story about a kid dying of cancer.

Dramatic romantic symphonies that conclude by playing the same two chords 100 times.

Performance poetry cliches which, also, I dislike
Readings where every line ends with an upwards intonation.

Poets waving their hands around like conjurors when reading.

Deliberately dreamy voices.

Readings where the poet lingers slowly over every. single. word. In spite of the fact that the poem would definitely be better if read in a normal conversational tone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sickeningly sweet

No-one writes poems about cuddles,
Though cuddles are awfully nice: 
This lack of the cuddle befuddles. 
No-one writes poems about cuddles.
A cuddle is instantly double:
A cuddle made once is made twice. 
But no-one writes poems about cuddles,
Though cuddles are awfully nice. 

And cuddles have wonderful powers: 
Some people steer clear of mud puddles,
Preferring a field of flowers. 
But cuddles have wonderful powers - 
You could cuddle a puddle for hours. 
Find mud and get into a huddle,
For cuddles have wonderful powers:
Some people steer clear of mud puddles. 

Life's full of the most awful troubles
It's painful, it's sad, and it's rough. 
We could all do with a bit of a cuddle -
Life's full of the most awful troubles,
We get into some horrible muddles
About manners and morals and stuff -
Life's full of the most awful troubles: 
It's painful, it's sad, and it's rough. 

No-one writes poems about cuddles,
Though cuddles are awfully nice: 
This lack of the cuddle befuddles. 
No-one writes poems about cuddles.
A cuddle is instantly double:
A cuddle made once is made twice. 
But no-one writes poems about cuddles,
Though cuddles are awfully nice. 

The aphoristic brevity of paternal pronouncements

My father is quite a one for statements of the obvious. He never lets a completely unremarkable fact go unremarked if he can help it. Stomping into the room at 10.07 in the morning, he will glance at the clock, and say, 'Hmm. It's seven past ten.' A minute later, he will look at the clock, and announce, 'Ah. It's eight past ten.' This routine will go on for several minutes, until he will punctuate proceedings with a yawn, followed by a short commentary: 'I yawned'. He can while away an entire hour in this fashion. 

This fact really is true, but it's also worse than true: it's annoying. Which I suppose is the whole point of family. 

Anyway, I shouldn't really have been surprised, as Dad, Mum, my brother and I were walking up High Street after having seen the film Up at the Westgarth, to hear his reply to our question: 'how did you find it?'

'Well', said Dad, 'it was an animated film.' 

An animated film! And I had just been thinking that the film was hilarious, fantastic, whimsical, wonderful, moving, dream-like, innovative, playful with adventure and comedic conventions, subversive, and so on. But my impressions, and those of other critics and fans who had seen the film, would have been merely arguable; Dad's impressions, on the other hand, were undeniable. 

Perhaps critics and professors and appreciators of art have gone about this whole film/art/literature/music appreciation thing entirely the wrong way. Think about all the words they've expended on aesthetics when they could have been reviewing things, Dad-style: 

This is a small rectangular object, consisting of approximately 200 individual sheets of rectangular paper laid together, with black symbols placed on both sides. 

THE TEMPEST, William Shakespeare
A group of about 10 people stand up for an hour and make noises. Another group of people, usually larger than the first group, but sometimes smaller, sit down and watch and listen to the first group of people. This goes on for about an hour, then the rest is silence. 

THE SISTINE CHAPEL CEILING, Michelangelo Buanorotti
A stone roof which could have been made easier and cheaper out of wood, put up principally to keep the rain from falling inside. Includes a light paint job*. 

Hmm. It's 20 past eight. I think that clock needs fixing, by the way, it looks a little crooked. 

The one that comes just before his sixth symphony. It's a little noisy.** 

*I'm tempted to include an imagined review of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Paris Hilton - 'I think it would look nicer in pink'. But I won't. 

** I'm not sure whether it's true, but isn't there a story about a King criticising a Mozart opera as having 'too many notes'? 

Monday, September 21, 2009


Not that I have anything to do with it, but there is a type of nice knitting literature - let's call it 'kniterature' - out there that features on its cover manly men with nice cosy jumpers on. Or dear little children sitting about with nice cosy jumpers on. Or lovely little puppies flopping about with a skein of wool out of which the dear little jumpers to be put on the dear little children will be made. Or gay little kittens romping in and out of a basket full of colourful balls of wool. I couldn't imagine why, but apparently this sort of imagery gladdens the heart of knitters everywhere. One of these days, maybe, a cunning publisher will publish a picture of manly men in cosy jumpers, and dear little children in nice cosy jumpers, and lovely little puppies flopping around with skeins of wool, and gay little kittens romping around in boxes of wool balls, and everyone laughing, and the hearts of knitters the world over will simply die with love and content. 

Of course, appearances can be deceptive. For all the knitters know, the kittens could be thinking about pursuing small native animals prior to capturing them and torturing them; the puppies, about ripping the entrails out of the stomach of a dead enemy; the children, about how to build an atomic weapon to take over the world; and the men, about what's on the telly tonight. Which would rather go against the enforced jocularity of the whole scene. 

But all that should just go to show, you can't judge a cover by its book. Or maybe, judge not lest ye yourself wear a cosy jumper on the cover of a knitting magazine and are judged. Or possibly, a kiss without an egg is like a moustache without salt. Who can tell? 

Cosy jumpers. Don't mess with them. 

Mansfield Snark

Some people might say that Australia have a habit of celebrating its criminals and ignoring the rest, but those people have obviously never seen the gentlemen's public toilets in Mansfield, Victoria. They're proudly dedicated to the three troopers who were shot in the pursuit of the bushranger, Ned Kelly. After dying in the service of law and order, who wouldn't want to be commemorated by having a little plaque stuck up on a public toilet? Think about that next time you urinate. 

Right next to the public toilets is a roundabout, and right in the middle of the roundabout is what can only be described as a 'monument', dedicated to more ill-fated troopers who went after some other  bushranger. The monument is in fact a Grecian column. With what looks like flowers, and curtains, and scrolls on the side. And what appears to be a tea pot on the top. ('That's an urn, Timothy', said Mum when I ventured the tea pot theory out loud.) Such works of public art raise profound questions (quite aside from 'what the hell does it mean?'): is this supposed to be realism? I was conjuring up visions of a period of history when ancient Greeks would draw back curtains before the wondering eyes of their fellow citizens to unveil tea pots, balanced precariously atop a Grecian column. 

Well, Mum and I walked around the monument in a bemused fashion a couple of times, and then went back to the car. "The least they could do is have a monument in European style, with an important little man on a horse flourishing a sword or something in the air," I said. 

And that is the last thing that I have to say for the moment about the pleasant little town of Mansfield, Victoria.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I was amused recently to see that after US President Obama made a kind-of offensive comment about a boring pop nonentity, it was American ABC news management that ended up apologising. Why? Well, apparently, they had published a comment that had been meant to be: 'off-the-record'. 

It all makes you wonder, though. Is it off-the-record to put on-the-record that an off-the-record comment was off-the-record? Isn't it just possible that the Presidential persona who made the off-the-record comment, and who wanted the off-the-record comment to remain off-the-record, meant it to go on-the-record in the first place? And just why should the media care if his Presidential feelings were hurt anyway? 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Once you have reached the end, go on

I was hearing the other day about how Twitter meant the end of blogging, which made me think about how blogging was supposed to mean the end of newspapers, which segued into thoughts about how television was supposed to be the end of newspapers. That's a lot of ends, I thought. I have an end as well - it's sitting on this seat while I type this post. 

But this post is far from ended, because quite aside from television causing the end of newspapers, movies were apparently causing the end of novels and theatre, and videos were supposedly causing the end of movies, and DVDs were also causing the end of videos, and how could I not mention YouTube, which is currently ending DVDs, at least until something comes along and ends that ending. We'd been quite worried about videos causing the end of movies and movies causing an end to novels for a while - there were a whole bunch of important critical articles penned by important critics lamenting the untimely death of these cultural institutions. Unfortunately, all those articles written about the tragic demise of invaluable cultural institutions have themselves tragically demised, because we've all moved onto another tragical demise by now. 

Speaking of ends - and we were, after all - in the past century we've also welcomed in the end of history, the end of philosophy, the war to end all wars (that one happened twice), the end of art, the end of religion (this has happened numerous times), the death of God, the end of the world, the end of the Ozone layer, the end of human life as we know it, the end of the nation state, the end of globalisation, the end of money, the end of poverty, the end of riches, the end of want, the end of need, the end of democracy, the end of tyranny, and, of course, not so much the end of the end as the end of the beginning. Everything is, basically, the cause of the end of everything else, which is why everything else keeps on existing as it always existed. Just because something is ended doesn't mean it has to stop (as any good artist would be able to tell you.) 

Life is full of sadness and sorrow and pain and death, and the things of this world are transient and temporary. Everything is going to end tomorrow, but of course tomorrow is another day. I suppose it must be heroic and enobling to consider yourself the last real reader of a newspaper or the last watcher of a movie or the last authentic reader of novels. Is it any wonder, then, that all these precious cultural artefacts keep on dying around us? We like things ending so much that we keep on ending them, over and over again, in our imaginations. The end? It's more like...

The Beginning

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My arts policy

Over the years, I have been to performances of various types in pubs, in art galleries, in libraries, in theatres, in town halls, in cafes, in clubs, in the street, in Federation Square, and even, once, in a garage. Pubs are undoubtedly the best. 

What is there not to like in a pub? They are fundamentally pleasing places. You can eat there, drink there, and talk there. A pub is pleasing to inhabit, and pleasing to look at: pass through almost any Australian town and you can immediately pick out the elegant 19th century facade of the public house. 

And of course, pubs are full of drink, and therefore, large numbers of drunk people. And this is why I like seeing performers - be they bands, or singers, or poets, or just miscellaneous - in pubs. The drunk people make all the difference. 

Consider the situation from the eyes of a performer: 

- Drunk people are honest. Not simply by natural alcoholic inclination, but also because they are not likely to have come to the pub to listen to you. They have invested all their effort and their money in their drink: you are extra. They do not necessarily feel any need to appreciate your art, your performance, and if they like it anyway, you know you're doing something right. 

- Drunk people are generally rude and shouty. Actually, in some places being rude and shouty is compulsory. I suppose to some performers this might be considered a disadvantage, but it's not really: most of the time, audience members are only expected to be supportive and appreciative. If they know they are allowed to swear at you and throw things at you, then they will, oddly, be more open and appreciative if you do something right. Imagine this sort of thing happening at the art gallery. You see what I mean. 

- Drunk people are, well, drunk. And being drunk is confusing. When it comes to the arts, this is a good thing. Consider the critic at the theatrical performance, pondering the postmodern ramifications of the oeuvre through the generic ramifications of the semiosis* of the existential angst of the subconscious narratology of the rhyme scheme: that's so confusing that only a critic could know what that means. Well, being drunk is even more confusing than that (as a simple test, just read that last sentence out to a drunk. They'll have no idea what it means! See?)

It follows, then, that the principal supporter of Australian culture over the past 200 years has been the pub and the drunk people who inhabit it. It is true, art galleries and schools and town halls and theatres have their place, but we must not let our attention be drawn from the fact that it is principally due to the pub. 

Why, then, do the government and philanthropic agencies not do more to support and encourage the insobriety and alcoholism that have been the great source of creativity in this nation? Drunkenness ought to be taught in schools. It would be easier to learn than maths, and less strenuous than PE. In fact, there ought to be whole philanthropic institutions set up to encourage drunk people and thereby stimulate the arts and creativity in Australia. I envisage, in some situations, this could lead to enhanced economic and administrative efficiency: for instance, the files and protocols of many a public institution probably look as if they have been designed by a drunk person. Why not actually get the drunk person who can do just that?

It would be so easy, after we have come so far, for our children to forget the drinking ways of their fathers and mothers, and slip into sobriety and puritanical teetotalism. If culture is to survive in this country, this must not be allowed to happen. 

Australians! Get behind this great drinking effort, for the sake of art! The only thing we have to lose is our sobriety! (And, possibly, our licences. And our cash. And, in certain medical circumstances, our vision). Anyway - you know what I mean!

*I know neither the correct spelling nor the correct meaning of this word. Everything else about it is right. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Congratulations! It's a bouncing 32 year old!

I'm 32 years old, and it's my birthday today. It eventually had to happen, I suppose. I couldn't stay in the womb for ever. Please send consolation cards through to my mother, who, in spite of the fact that she lives some thousand kilometres away from me, has somehow managed to pull the whole birthing experience off today. 

Also born today at 32 years of age: Gem and Maria. Happy birthday fellow birthdayites! Tell you what - I have the cake, and you have the birthday. How does that sound? 

Monday, September 14, 2009


Horoscopes for Mindless Microscopic Amorphous Watery Gelatinous Amoebaic Blobs
(The most specifically and generally accurate horoscope in the world!)

The future is dim, grey, and murky. Each day will pass much like the other one.

The future is dim, grey and murky. You will encounter a meaningless meeting or parting with another formless, colourless blob. Good one!

Those born under the sign of Gemini, the twins, often find themselves at times of significant emotional or intellectual dischord, which they must overcome to move forward into a new and brighter future. Not you, though. You don't have an intelligence or emotions to be dischordant in the first place. The future is dim, grey and murky.

The days ahead will be watery and unclear, beyond which lie gloomy and shadowy events of a colourless nature, in a grimy and musty backdrop. Events in general will be dim, grey and murky.

You will meet, part with, or not stand in any particular relation to, another formless colourless blob who you may or may not have been at some point in your dim, grey and murky past.

The future is dim, grey, and murky, and since you do not have a mind, it will leave you in two lack-of-minds about how to proceed with your next month. With luck, more dim, grey murkiness will lie ahead.

You will have an encounter with a few random strands of DNA and RNA that are far too complex for your puny mindlessness to comprehend. The future is dim, grey and murky. Wallow in it.

You have tail feathers, like paddling around and quacking a lot, you eat flies and small insects, and the future is watery, but not particularly grey and murky. You are not actually a mindless microscopic amorphous watery gelatinous amoebic blob at all, you are a duck. Get your own publication, schmuck.

The future is dim, grey, murky, and rather acidic. You have just been swallowed by a toad with particularly fierce gastric juices, and you will not live to see another day. Goodbye.

Look! Over there! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a particularly detailed reproduction of the Mandelbrot Set? No, it's just another blob that would in some ways look to some people like some of those things if they were able to see things from your eyes. Not you, though, since you don't have eyes or a mind. The future is dim, grey and murky.

The future is particularly blobby. Your prospects are on the up.

Guess which adjectives feature heavily in your future? That's right. Dim. Grey. Murky. Continue luxuriating in the general slushy gloopy gloppiness of it all, because that's all you're going to get.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The internet votes Labor

When I logged on to Joe Hockey's Twitter account the other day, the internet instantaneously shut down and refused to let me read it. 

Clearly, this means that the internet votes Labor. 

Spoonerising by the light of the silvery moonerising

Pity William Spooner - accidental inventor of the spoonerism, who had the misfortune to not only accidentally mix up phrases and sentences, but entire concepts. Look at this quote from Wikipedia:

It is said that Canon Spooner not only mixed up words, but entire concepts upon occasion. Reportedly, he once spilled salt at a dinner and absent-mindedly poured some wine on it, a reversal of the usual procedure.... According to sources, he once remarked of a widow that "her husband was eaten by missionaries."

I think I've been getting a bit that way myself, actually. More and more, I've found myself accidentally spoonerising reality. Just on Tuesday, when approaching the door to my flat, I reached to my pocket and took out my travel ticket, apparently expecting to be able to validate it and thus get into my flat that way. On Wednesday, I had a dustpan and brush in one hand, and bread in the other, and I opened up the freezer door and put the dustpan and brush in. On Thursday, I lost my mobile phone; I couldn't find it by searching around at home, so I hit upon the scheme of calling it up to see if I could hear it ring: and I reached into my pocket and drew out my watch, which obviously I was then going to use for calling up my mobile phone. 

I suppose all this mixing up of things just serves to make my life interesting, but how far do you think I'm going to take it? Instead of putting the milk in the fridge, will I try and put the fridge in the milk? Will I accidentally shove my head in my shoes and my feet in my hat prior to going out? Even more alarming: what if, after accidentally spoonerising reality for a couple of months, reality gets cranky and starts spoonerising me back? It would be unfortunate if, instead of going to open a door, the door opened me, instead. And if the ground decided to walk on me, for once, instead of the other way around, the results would be positively calamitous. 

Still, if that sort of thing ever happens, I'll just pick the fridge out of the milk, and, hearing a ringing from the freezer, will open it up, take the dustpan and brush out, and answer it. It'll most likely be reality, panicked by all this accidental spoonerising, attempting to call up their nearest helpline. 

I'll be ready for that day when it comes. I'm off now to put some butter and jam on my mobile phone. If I can find it. Yummy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A collection of puns looking for a reason

Rye comments
Wheat bread is nice, but rye bread is nicer.

Crisp dialogue
"I like barbecue flavour."

"Me too. But what do you think about salt and vinegar?"

"A little too strong, I'm afraid."

Chipping in
Fried potatoes, anyone?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The effect of the effect on the greenhouse effect effect

Well I've just read the news that climate change is changing. Oh, thanks fellas, that's just great. Now instead of just having to deal with climate change, we're going to have to deal with climate change change. And if the effects of climate change are going to be unpredictable, then who can tell what the effects of climate change change will be?

Of course, there will inevitably be deniers of climate change change, who will try and tell us that the science of the change in climate change is not yet settled. They will insist on scepticism about climate change change on the basis of their previous scepticism about climate change. They will argue that we are not yet able to make accurate predictions about climate change, much less climate change change, and that indeed climate change may not be happening, so that climate change change may not in fact exist: we are certainly going to have to make them sceptical about their scepticism about climate change before tackling their scepticism about climate change change.

There will be others, too, who will insist that a change in climate change may in fact lead to a more favourable climate change for us all, and that if this change in the change is indeed happening, it should be welcomed.

A third group will obviously argue that we need to stop climate change before stopping the climate change change, and that if we are not able to stop the change, then we will have no hope in stopping the change in the change.

Clearly, we must not let ourselves be distracted by these denialists of climate change change, and we must work to turn back the changes in climate change before it's too late for whatever change in the change it might be too late for.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The sum of its somes

Know-it-some: the sort of person who doesn't know very much, and keeps on telling it to you anyway. 

Half-round good guy: A guy who's really impressive at some things but not so crash hot at others. 

Umnipotence: A minor, not particularly powerful deity. 

Tell-some: A person who knows a lot of fruity gossip, but only tells you the uninteresting bits. 

Hmmniscience: A rather uncertain deity. 

Part-seeing: An all-seeing entity which has gone partially blind. 

Bit-consuming passion: A hobby that makes you a little bit emotional for a not-so-long period of time. 

Unfinity: A neverending amount of amounts that, when they are all mounted up, don't amount to much. 

The Ending Story: A book that you are kind of interested in, which nevertheless ends after a moderate period of time. 

Pythagoras's Other Theorem: Some of the square of the hypothetical hypoteneuse of some right-angled triangles is equal to some of the sum of a bit of a part of a portion of the squares of the other two sides. 

UPDATE! - Not to mention Partialitarians, just like Totalitarians, except they're only brutal unforgiving dictators some of the time. 

Resignation vacant

White House environmental adviser Van Jones resigned late Saturday after a
simmering controversy over his past statements and activism erupted into calls
for his ouster from Republican leaders on Friday.

- The Washington Post, White House Adviser Van Jones Resigns Amid
Controversy Over Past Activism
To: Barack Obama, President of the United States of America,
That White Important Big House,

Dear sir/madame,

It is with great regret that today I must officially offer my formal resignation for the job of Environmental Adviser with the Council on Environmental Quality for the job which I will be officially applying for tomorrow.

I have taken this dramatic step of resigning from the position before applying for the position for many reasons, personal as well as public. Most important among these, I believe that I cannot continue to serve the people of America in the position which I would like to offer my services for tomorrow given the fallout that will inevitably occur should I be appointed to the job that I will officially apply for tomorrow.

Also, I believe that resigning in this manner will speed up the appointment and dismissal of future advisers to the Administration no end. Think how efficient it will make matters for the Democratic Party!

I hope you will look kindly on this application for resignation. I have attached the qualifications that make me a likely candidate for resignation in a 'resignation resume'. Please take some time among yourselves to scrutinise this resume in detail. However, I would just like to present, in bullet form, some of my most important qualifications for this outstanding position in resignation:

- I am a fruit loop.

- I have prior experience in many unsuitable positions with unsavoury political parties which I look forward to revealing to the public in as embarrassing a manner as possible.

- I am devoted to this great nation of ours, and look forward to resigning from a great many more positions in the future.

It is with great regret that I find that I am unable to serve the people of America in the position that I look forward to applying for tomorrow.

Yours sincerely,
Tim Train

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Why I shouldn't be allowed out of the house at night

"So are you from Melbourne originally?"

"No, I'm from Hong Kong." 

"Oh. Hmmm. Do you prefer Hong or Kong more?"

This poem just writes itself, dyslexically

This verse is the last of my four-verse poem.
I've put it in here at the start.
As fourth verse it might seem somewhat out of place,
But what would you know, man? It's art. 

This verse is the first of my four-verse poem.
I've put it here, in second place.
I'm sorry. The first place was all used up,
But really, it's just a disgrace. 

This verse is the third of my four-verse poem.
It was meant to be here all along. 
But thinking of how the other two went,
Perhaps it is triply wrong. 

This verse is the fifth of my four-verse poem.
I didn't have room for the rest. 
I had to get rid of the second, of course,
But perhaps it is all for the best. 

Where's a good vaticide when you need one?

Poetry just gets me more and more confused these days. They have a habit, for instance, of writing poems without rhymes, which just makes me confused. What's a poem without rhymes? Isn't it just a collection of sentences? I think I'd prefer a rhyme without poems. 

Also, there's this thing about called free verse. I can't exactly explain it except by analogy: free verse is like free love, except without the orgasms or the nudity. And as for free love, as everyone knows, it is a progressive and important social development, which is why most people keep on getting married. Free verse is another progressive and important social development, and consequently, this explains why many people keep on reading poems with rhymes and verses that scan. 

All that is by the by: but, just last night, I noticed another, singularly malicious tendency of poets. 

Poets have a habit of reproducing. 

Now, in most cases this itself is commendable, although if you are a poet who believes in free love as well as free verse, you might have difficulties with this. (The whole point of free love is not to have babies: you wouldn't want to stretch the free love too far, you see.)

However: many poets have a habit of reproducing and then writing poems about the progeny whom are their reproduction. 

This, too, is in itself fine, and has led to many superb examples of the poetic art: Peter Skrzynecki* has done it. Yeats has done it. And Komninos has done it, too. 

Nevertheless: after the writing of these poems, the poets have a habit of publishing them, circulating them, and reading them to audiences decades after the birth of their child. 

Like all philosophers asking the hard questions, like Job challenging his God, like the toddler asking his father why he cannot probe his proboscis with his pinkie on the tram, I find myself trembling with anguish as I ask the inevitable question: why? why? in God's name, why? Isn't this just the verbal equivalent of taking nudie snaps of your children as babies, and then dispatching them to that child's first date? Or circulating them round to guests at the wedding? 

In this day and age, ought there not to be letters written into the paper, people calling up radio stations, having hard discussions with their local members, and laws made in the parliament about this legitimate case of child abuse? One hesitates to use the term**, but isn't this the most obvious case for a hue and cry that you have ever heard? 

Poets! Think of the children! Before it's too late!

*To pronounce his name, just put a bucketful of coleslaw into your mouth, and gargle. To spell his name, take a swig of vodka, throw a bunch of scrabble letters at the board, and panic. 

**One also hesitates to use the term 'one hesitates to use the term', but there are times at which one must use the term 'one hesitates to use the term', unhesitatingly. 

Friday, September 04, 2009

Short poem on an important subject

NA'PPINESS. n.s. [nappy] The quality of having a nap. 
- A Dictionary of the English language, Samuel Johnson
Leads to happiness.*

*And crappiness 
Is often, but not always, alleviated by nappiness. 

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ready, willing and label

Is there any limit to the number of products with a spurious connection to Australia Australian labels to make the Australian consumer proud? There's Made in Australia, Australian Made, and Product of Australia, for starters, and aren't they wonderful. I, for one, relish the opportunity to buy an expensive, shoddily-made product which may or may not have been made in Australia in order to keep Australian manufacturers in their jobs. After all, if Australians didn't do the job, the Chinese would, and nobody wants that*. And apparently they're planning to introduce another label: Grown in Australia. Because, strangely enough, products that are 'Made in Australia' might not actually be grown in Australia, and things that are Grown in Australia might not really be a product of Australia. 

I'd like to suggest a new label of my own: 

For too long, the wonderful contributions of the Australian labelling industry to foods, drinks, and other goods bought and sold in Australia have gone unappreciated. Who but the steadfast and courageous labellers of Australia would be able to take a chunk of cheese wrapped in a plastic packet, placed in a box, covered over with more plastic, and then - put a label on top of that? No-one, that's who. Furthermore, this label delivers a clear and unambiguous message to consumers and customers all over this wide, brown land: this product has had a little coloured thing stuck on it by your brave, Australian labellers. Isn't it time we got behind their efforts? Why, in the next year alone, we could increase the number of labels our store products currently have from three, to five, to ten, to twenty! Come on, Australians! We can do it - starting with this!

I think it covers things nicely, don't you? 

*Please don't challenge that. It would be unpatriotic.**
**Possibly sexist, too. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wheely big problem

At work, I have a seat that affords a wonderful view of West Melbourne. I could physically see the clouds roll over as winter started, and admire the way they changed colour as the moods of the ever-fickle Melbourne weather lightened or darkened. I've gotten at least one poem out of the view. I spend so much time looking out that window that I wouldn't be surprised if I got distracted one day, and began absent-mindedly typing up weather details into what is supposed to be an official, business-like office email.

Another sight of interest outside the window is the changing landscape of the Melbourne Docklands, and in particular their ill-fated wheel of fortune. Over the past year or so, we've all marvelled as the wheel has slowly been erected, spokes gradually built out, and the circumference built up around the spokes. Then we watched as pods appeared, one by one, on the wheel. Sometimes, during the afternoon shift, as the sky grew darker, you'd be able to notice lights on the individual pods, winking at you. Yes, there is nothing quite like a bloody big wheel to inspire awe and wonder in the eyes of onlookers.

There was, though, one little problem with this big wheel.

It didn't go.

Why, exactly, important businessmen, and workers, and crane drivers, and architects, and engineers, or whoever else is involved in the making of big wheels, would make a big wheel in the inner western suburbs of a major Australian city simply for the joy of it, I do not know. Ferris wheels are, after all, typically designed to wheel around. Ferris wheels are supposed to go. Perhaps the workers who were involved in this big wheel asked themselves the same question. So, in recent months, they've started taking the whole thing apart again: lights have been deactivated, pods have been taken off the metallic circumference, and finally, the metallic circumference has been partially deconstructed so that the bloody big wheel now has a bloody great hole in its side.

Perhaps they think it will help the wheel actually work. Though, of course, it still doesn't go.

For all I know, it may never go: it may just sit there, for years, and centuries, a bloody great wheel with a bloody great hole in its side: Melbourne's motionless ferris wheel. It could become a great accidental tourist attraction, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. At any rate, there has been something glorious about the whole process, being able to see this slow but steadily unfolding idiocy, the beautiful majesty of this gigantic failure.

It is as if a God of this great, throbbing city has spoken to us, and his fearsome and wondrous words were these:

"Whoops. My mistake. Sorry about that! Won't happen again."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Due to overwhelming critical acclaim, Friday will now be held on a Thursday

Well, a few weeks ago, I competed in the first of a series of Overload Slams and was fortunate enough to win a place in the finals. I was second on the night: and I credit my success to the poodles.

It's a complicated thing, though. The final is itself a heat for another final to be had on the weekend, so you could say that the final that I'm in is the penultimate final to another final. Then again, the final final happens on the night of September 12, and I'm not sure what the winner of that gets. I had heard somewhere - but I forget where - that you would get entrance to the Bristol poetry slam, which would mean that the final final of September might merely be the final penultimate, following on from the penultimate final, and leading up to the finalisation of the final final final. Which could be a very good, or maybe just a very very thing.

Even more confusingly, according to one page on Overload, the final (the final penultimate, I mean, not the final final final) is on:

11 September, 9pm for a 9.30 start

But according to another page, it's on:

Thursday 10th September, 9:30-11:30pm

Hmmm. Holding a Friday penultimate final on the day before Friday is very penultimate indeed. Anyone want to come to the Friday final on Thursday, or the Thursday final on the Friday? And what on earth is going on here?

Perhaps you have no idea what I'm talking about. Neither do I.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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