Sunday, May 30, 2010


"If a motel is a hotel for cars," I said, "A hotel for boats is a flowtel."

Well, what do you think of that? Not bad, I thought. Not bad - for an off-the-cuff remark late on a Friday night while one is out with one's parents and one has maybe drunk one or two pots of rather nice beer and is feeling rather expansive.

The trouble is, I thought this joke was so uniquely original and wonderful that I repeated it to the Baron the day afterwards while we were both on a long train trip. And then spent the rest of the hour with her turning up new versions of the same pun. A partial list is provided below.

A hotel for turtles is a slowtel
A hotel for assumed identities is a fauxtel
A hotel for boyfriends is a beautel
A hotel for emergencies is an 000tel
A hotel frequented by the Three Stooges is a Larrycurlymotel
A hotel for display is a showtel
A luminescent hotel is a glotel
A hotel for ski trips is a snowtel
A hotel for conferences regarding the significance of 19th-century American fantasy literature is a Poetel
A hotel with a particularly rancorous odour is an eaughtel
A hotel where they hold elections is a votel
A hotel for Santa Claus's is a hohohotel
A hotel for epistemologists is a knowtel
A hotel for Napoleon's girlfriend is a Jotel
A hotel for cloven-hoofed ruminants is a goatel...

Anyway. You can see where this is all going, and where it has been - nowhere particularly interesting. However, it's worth noting that a hotel for women of ill-repute is a hotel, and a hotel for people with moustaches is a motel. Also - and this has just occurred to me now - a hotel full of tinea sufferers is a toehel.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grumble grumble

I am a little disappointed in the efficiency and dedication to the task of this particular cold that I have at the moment. Although it has left me with a suitably sore throat in the mornings, and a persistent cough throughout the day, it's worth ethic leaves something to be desired: namely, it hasn't been nearly bad enough to give me an excuse to take leave off work.

Also: it seems to have reserved its worst excesses largely for the Friday and Saturday, the first two days of my five-day holiday.

As a matter of fact, if I were to return a report on my cold's performance in the manner of an employer rating their employee, I would have to impress upon it that it's punctuality and productivity so far have been decidedly lacking. It has frequently not shown up during work hours, and it has not performed as expected during those times when it has shown up. CAN DO BETTER, cold.

After weeks of encouraging other miserable, red-nosed, husky-throated cold sufferers to share, it is more than a little disappointing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On sausages

Sausages! Could there be anything more perfect, more pinkly pleasing than a fresh sausage, waiting to be sizzled? Rationally, the mind says no: but sausages appeal to the passions, to the heart, and to the soul. If sausages were designed for the intellect, they would be rectangular, their colour would be grey, and they would taste like cardboard. Away with such nonsense! For, as we all know, sausages are long, and ovular, and pink, or brown and juicy when fried.

Besides, many great people have uttered words in praise of the sausage. Otto von Bismarck, for instance, said that there are two things a man should never see: the making of laws, and the making of sausages. However, he was clearly a madman. There are numerous other tributes to the sublimity of the sausage throughout history, but I cannot remember them at the moment, as I do not know what they are.

Tonight was a sausage night. I sallied forth, with two of my brothers and two of my parents*, with sausages on my mind. I did not, at the time, know that I had sausages on my mind. They were sitting there, waiting to be drawn out by circumstance. That circumstance happened to be a friendly sausage vendor sitting by the bar by the river in the city, vending his, well, sausages. And so it came to pass that we bought the sausages from this sausage vendor, and we ate the sausages that were so vended.

I should note in passing the vegetarian objection to sausage eating. The objection goes, I believe, that it is wrong to eat sausages. This is fine, so far as it goes. The reasoning goes that, sometimes, instead of eating sausages, people should let the sausages eat them. This, too, is fine, but how do we know that eating vegetables is any better? For all we know, the carrots that vegetarians eat - I presume they all eat carrots, it's the closest thing to sausages you can get - could be entirely made out of meat. I mean, have you ever asked the waiter if the carrot you are served is vegetarian? Even if they have told you that it is so, how can you trust them? They could just be in the pay of the meat industry.

Therefore, a person eats sausages; for, as is well known, there is a sausage-shaped hole in man's stomach that only sausages, or some other ovular, possibly carrot-flavoured and textured, foodstuff that is nevertheless somewhat less satisfying than a sausage-based ovular foodstuff, can fill.

I sallied forth tonight with two sausages on my mind. One ended up, sizzling, in a loaf of bread, with onions, in my hand, and I ate it. The other sausage sat, long and pink, in my mind until I came back home. It was this blog post. And now, you have a pink sausage sitting in your mind too. Now perhaps you should go forth and cook it.

*Just to make things symmetrical. Otherwise I would have invited three of my parents out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Now, you know, I don't comment much on political matters on this blog. But this is an issue that is just so important: it affects all of us. Or perhaps only some of us. Whatever...

Oh, Bea!

Vote for Beatrice in the Whiskas competition!

If you could take a little time out of your busy schedules today to place a vote for our cat, Beatrice, in this competition, we'd be much obliged:

A vote for the Beatrice Party will benefit you in many ways:

- Beatrice has pledged to increase quotas of cuteness in everyday life.

- Beatrice is a cat of the people (and I bet you've never heard any other politician described as a 'person of the cats', have you? Exactly.) She understands and sympathises with the struggles of everyday working life.

- Beatrice has spots. And very nice ones, too. If she wins the majority of your votes, she will bring these spots to as many citizens as possible.

- Something about working families.

- A vote for Beatrice means a laptop for every child!

Well we're not too sure about that last one. But one final point:

- Beatrice is a genuine, honest cat. With Beatrice, you always know what you're going to get.

Please don't be distracted by the opposition, who have resorted to cheap gimmicks like putting their cats in ties. Let's get back to the real issues - ie, cats in boxes. Or possibly household cleaning implements.

Authorised by Timothy Train of the Beatrice For Higher Office Coalition, Melbourne.

Suggested dictionary additions

forgetting behind of the times: planning to do something but secretly resolving to put it off, and then forgetting ones plans; forgetting to remember to not do whatever it is that you had been planning to do. (See also: blanxiety)

blanxiety: Forgetting a plan you should never have planned in the first place.

nth de plume: Internet phenomena – getting into conversations with yourself while under the illusion that you are speaking to another, or several other, people. (Also: reiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiteration.)

snarcolepsy: Causing an embarrassing misunderstanding by lapsing into non-sarcasm during a sarcastic conversation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breaking news, belatedly

I went to the zine fair. As a record of the occasion, I would like to present this series of instantaneous-albeit-seven-hours-after-the-event-tweets-that-just-happen-to-be-on-blogger.

- I am at the zine fair.

- I have made vegan-friendly biscuits. Every time a vegan walks past, they say, "Why hello! How's your day going?"*

- These zines are selling like lukewarmcakes!

- Everybody likes socks. Nobody likes badgers.

- Just said to a person 'Have a good day' but that turned into 'Have a nice day' mid sentence, so it came out as 'Have a gnice day'.

- Gnus often have gnice days.

- Absurdly embarrassed by the fact that everyone else has press names identifying their tables, but I've just got my name. Accordingly I have taken my name out of its plastic sleeve and turned it upside down. That'll show 'em.

- Meat eaters keep on scoffing the vegan biscuits, not so interested in buying the zines. They are truly evil.

- Would anyone like to buy a zine?

- Just realised reason people keep on buying my sock zine is because 'socks' sounds like 'sex'. It's either that or the fetching black and white and grey cover design, combined with the imaginative Times New Roman font.

- I am at the zine fair.

Aren't you glad you waited for this?

*As opposed to the gingerbread, which is made entirely out of meat.

The man who mistook himself for a croissant

"Are you selling that croissant?"

"No. I'm very attached to it."

People generally are very attached to their food, I thought, as I overheard this conversation. If not at first, then afterwards. It's all to do with digestion, or something. Gradually, the food attaches itself to your skin, until you're not sure where the skin starts, or the croissant ends. Eventually - if you keep on eating croissants, at least - you reach a point at which you start looking like a whole series of croissants, from end to end. You could probably pass yourself off as a bunch of croissants if you were in a bakery of something. You could throw in a bunch of fruit and start looking like a fruit salad, or maybe a funny hat that people wear at the races, but the principle is the same. This is why you see people walking around looking like the deli section of the supermarket - it happens all the time.

It's a pretty funny way to lead your life I suppose, walking around looking like a saucy chicken and mayonaisse sandwich, or a sugary crusty little donut. You could even get the occasional gourmand looking to put you in their personal toaster oven. Still, that doesn't mean you should get fussed over it.

One way of getting around all these difficulties would probably be by eating a car. Gradually, the cars would fuse to your flesh and you would become a combination car-man, an awesome Auto-Zilla. But you would be pretty hungry. Cars aren't actually that nutritious, after all.

Bet you hadn't thought of that when you started eating cars, had you?

The fantasy alphabet....

... starts with Z. Z is at the beginning of all the most interestingly exotic, or just exotic, names:

Zaphod Beeblebrox III

Even more exotic is X. If you want to make a name evoke far-off, mysterious lands, and magical rites, and quaint forgotten lore, you should start it with an X.


Other important letters in the fantasy alphabet include V (Lord Vader, Vadhagh), J, Q, and K, but who could suspect little old M? And yet M is very important. It begins the word... MURDER!


S with its obvious sibilance could hardly be passed over:


Considering all those names come from Tolkien, you begin to suspect the querulous old linguist had something against sibilance.

And of course these letters don't have to appear at the beginning of names to work: sometimes their mere presence is enough to evoke the requisite emotions and ideas. Consider the Z in Tarzan or Godzilla, or the saucy little X dangling right at the end of Zaphod Beeblebrox III.

There are also a lot of units larger than a single letter that are important in fantasy names; some of the better authors could be said to think in syllables rather than letters. Some of Mervyn Peake's names are excellent:

Titus Groan

C S Lewis, on the other hand, seems to have preferred to give many of his names a musical twist, ending many with what I suppose is a Latin ending:


Many fantasy names are just normal names with an extra syllable tagged on, or a spelling changed. It is perhaps meant to point to the fact that fantasy novels are set in other lands and times where people speak a different language, though it's somewhat undercut by the fact that the novel will invariably be told entirely in English anyway:

Hari Seldon
Bilbo Baggins
Frodo Baggins

Mostly Tolkien seems to have given up on the idea of making fancy names, if we can take names like 'Sam' or 'Tom Bombadil' as examples, though I do like 'Belladonna Took'. It's pretty out there. It's not really made up, but it seems to yank together two seemingly disparate terms, just like Douglas Adams was fond of doing with 'Ford Prefect', say - or who could forget his 'Eccentrica Gallumbitis, the Triple Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six?'

Once I tossed up the idea of writing a fantasy novel composed entirely of ordinary names: Jack, Jillian, Sam - or even better, where all the characters have only got one name between them - John Smith, ferocious dragon, eater of maidens; John Smith, glamorous enchantress, who entrapped the famed Mage, John Smith, in a nightmare; John Smith, cheeky bard, who roams the lands telling of the deeds of John, John, John, John, the famous four Smiths (one of whom happened to be a blacksmith)...

So why don't you all go and make up a name now, y'hear?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

State of deliciousness!

I just sent this email to Mum:
Apparently, Victorians call Vanilla Slice 'Snot Block'. I learned this just this afternoon while unveiling at work a Vanilla Slice that I had earlier bought up the street, causing everyone at work to chorus, 'Ah, Snot Block'. As you will be visiting in a few weeks, I thought I might pass this invaluable information on to you.

Perhaps we could all go to a cafe and order Snot Block together.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Non-sequiturs speak louder than words

Harriet just used my tracksuit pants as a scratching post, while I was in them. In response, I put on a CD of Lutoslawski and Bartok and turned on the most atonal track I could find.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Didactic poem about underwear

Wear a bra.
You will go far.

UPDATE! - Some damn fine poems in comments. A pair of gold knickers to the lot of you.

Sunday morning thoughts about sitting

Is there anything a cat will not sit on? Here is a list of things that cats are partial to sit on, if they are looking for somewhere to sit: a mat, a bag that you may be preparing to take to work, a magazine that you may be wanting to read, another cat's head, and, if you are in a suitably stationary position, you. And yet, if you waited until the cats were in a suitably stationary position and sat on them, they would not be happy.

It really makes you think about the relative value of sitting on things, and being sat on by things, respectively.

Friday, May 14, 2010


You'll have heard by now of Kevin Rudd. He's the guy with the biggest nation-building biggest renewable-energy planning biggest school modernisation programming biggest reform-since-Medicaring biggest social-housing expanding biggest global-economic-crisis wrestling biggest investment-in-cancering biggest Defence-project-undertaking biggest solar-generating-plant-building biggest telescope-building Government in Australia. The only other thing he and the rest of the Government could do to achieve the biggest bigliness in the big area of bigliness would be to be the biggest bigamists in Australia, too. And, you know, maybe they're working on that.

Still, all this big-hearted bigliness opens up a clear line of attack for the Opposition. They could promise to undertake the most medium-sized nation-building program in Australia! Begin the most moderate school modernisation program in the country! They could strive to achieve any number of neither-particularly-large-nor-particularly-small achievements in health, defence, education, and perform a certain-but-not-too-large-amount-of-activity in the general areas of middleness! In short, they could present themselves as an alternative Government with the biggest amount of middling plans for this country, and for the world.

After all, John Howard always said that political parties should underpromise and overdeliver. They could go one better: overunderpromise, and underoverdeliver.

It would certainly give Rudd something to worry, in a sort-of way, about.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wine, oats, sugar, cofffee, icing, coffee, chocolate, coffee, HELLO NURSE!

Last night I drank a bottle of wine. We were at a housewarming, see, and that wine wasn't going to drink itself. I had a large styrofoam cup and it took about four refills and three quarters of an hour.

The morning after the night before, I had a large bowl of porridge with brown sugar and milk, three cups of coffee, and (when I got to work) one sultana bun with margarine and icing and coconut frosting, and one large mocha. Later, I took my plunger into the kitchen at work and in a short time I had two more cups of coffee, large, and black.

All this consumption - by no means excessive on my part - was for an ulterior purpose, you see. I had elected to have a work health check at 1 PM this afternoon, and I didn't want to disappoint the people doing the checking. It's absolutely excessive to prepare yourself for a work health check by eating and drinking exactly as you would any other day, only more so. Otherwise the work health check isn't going to be accurate, is it? Plus, you want to give them more chance to find something wrong with you. Otherwise their day isn't as entertaining.

A little disappointingly, I didn't get told that I had leprosy or that my appendix was about to explode or anything like that during the health check. Although I did walk away with a bunch of confusing numbers and a shiny booklet.

Things I didn't say, for some reason, to the health check nurse:

"So, do you, like, tell every 10th patient they have tuberculosis, just for fun?"
"Do you and the other people doing this have a bingo card for the health problems you turn up every day? Do you sit around after work going, 'obesity, heart disease, BINGO!"
"Is it all right to eat lots of steak, because it's made from cows, which are made from grass, which is made from vegetables, which is what I'm supposed to be eating?"
"And what if the fruit I eat is made from meat? What if it's like a chicken banana?"

Fleurs du Artie

"Randall Stephens is a poet owing more to Rambo than to Rimbaud."

Well that's an idea for a poem, I thought. Or maybe ten. Thanks Randall!


Smoke twines around, about the bar
I peer at bodies through the haze
And seem to dream -
of paratroopers
Storming villages with guns
And military operations
In quaint, remote and foreign lands.

The water comes. I order coffee:
Long and black. The music plays,
Fantastic filigrees of sound -
I fall into a swoon again:

I pull the pin on yet another
Hand-grenade, and hurl it in the blaze.
A soldier screams - in pain or rage -
I shoot some automatic rounds
Into the point that made the sounds.
And, like a doctor's distant cough,
Someone fires a bazooka off.

And so I dream, and so I seem
To spy these visions through the steam.
Oh! Sweet fancies of the evening air!
I sigh and fall back on my chair!

Oh do you remember
The first you dismembered?
I do.
And the horrifying memories of that traumatic incident haunt me to this very day.

Sweet nymph of the waters,
Clearly-running waters
Daughter of the waters
Smiling on the shore,
Pure and demure nymph,
I yearn for you to say
Where you keep your hi-tech
Military weapon store.
Your rockets and your launchers,
Your landmines and grenades,
Your automatic weaponry,
And of course hand-guns,
Machetes swords and sabres,
Dynamite and bombs,
By the clearly flowing waters
Of the river as it runs?
Goddess of the rivers,
Ever running, ever laughing,
Lying like a dream
Upon its sandy bank,
I burn for you! I pine!
Say quick where we can arm
Before we all get blasted
By that fucking armoured tank!

Illumination 1
Such interplay of light and shade!
Paratroopers on a raid.

Illumination 2
A delicate secluded glade -
Then someone throws a hand-grenade.

Flowers are evil!
In the cafe
Music playing
And I hear
Fine blue petals,
Perfumed petals
Fall upon my ear.

Nectarine mist,
Purple odours,
Fragrant rain,
A bird sings
And I shudder
As in pain.
Don't worry,
It's just
A recurrence of post traumatic stress disorder yet again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My very meta metabolism

Stomach, that was a really good idea of you to get a hamburger for lunch. Mouth really enjoyed it and Tongue thought it was pretty good too. But how long before Brain and Eyes notice that we're all sitting right next to a lolly machine, and tell Stomach, Mouth, Tongue, and the rest of them about it? It probably wouldn't be long before Fingers go looking for money, Mouth begins salivating in anticipation, and Legs facilitates the whole sordid process by carrying the whole all of us over to the machine. You didn't plan for that, did you?

It's getting pretty bad, Stomach. Fingers and Hands are already waving about in the air gravitating towards Tim's pocket. And while Fingers and Hands are doing that, you've got to wonder - who's typing this blog post? Brain's going out of his, well, brain fretting about that.

Whine critics

Wine drinkers: spend most of their time drinking lots of wine.

Wine critics: spend some of their time drinking a very little wine, and then spend a lot of time inventing bizarre phrases to describe the little wine that they have drunk. These phrases could include 'sparkling Beaujolais', and 'hearty and invigorating Burgundian finish', which very few of us understand.

Clearly, of the aforementioned, wine drinkers have far more on-the-ground experience and practical knowledge of the area of concern. It is true, wine critics are able to use phrases like 'sparkling Beaujolais' and 'hearty and invigorating Burgundian finish' which the typical wine drinker would not be able to understand when sober or even pronounce when drunk, but that is hardly an excuse, is it?

How and why things should be this way is one of the great mysteries of the universe, and perhaps you'd like to formulate your own theories (philosophical, mathematical, or theoretical-physical) as to this important matter. However, maybe it is time to give wine drinkers, who are in the act of drinking their wine, a go at writing wine criticism, (while they are drinking their wine, naturally.) True, the results may be just as incomprehensible, and wine drinkers will probably spend less time talking about 'sparkling Beaujolais' and more time discussing wildly varying subjects in a series of bizarre, unrelated non-sequiturs, like their mothers favourite football team - but isn't it time they were given a go?


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Awesome reviews by awesome people

So yesterday I got given a copy of Ethel the Aardvark, the zine for the Melbourne Science Fiction Club, and I started leafing through it. Pretty soon, I happened across this - a review of Avatar - which I will now quote from:
Avatar is Fantasy - quarriers don't trample civil rights

In my professional life, I'm the editor of Quarry magazine, the official monthly journal of the Institute of Quarrying Australia. Quarry is read by 3,000 subscribers across Australia and overseas. What follows is my editorial from the March issue of Quarry, in which I commented on parallels drawn by activists between the Na'vi of James Cameron's Avatar and other disenfranchised indigenous groups around the world... My headline was - parallels aside, Avatar still a fantasy.
For that opening sentence alone, that is possibly the most awesome review ever written.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rather infrequently updated page of pleasantries

Being fired for twittering twitty tweets seems a little harsh. How can you do otherwise? Here is a list of words that sound like 'twitter':


Some words are downright rude, several are sounds made by naughty schoolboys, some are speech defects, and the rest sound like pointless gossip.

That being said, I suppose it would be possible to run a nice little polite page on twitter. So that's what I've done.

Expect it to be a rather infrequently updated page of pleasantries.

UPDATE! - I actually don't have any heart for this twitter thing. I'm going to shut down that page after a few days, I think.

UPDATE AGAIN! - Well that's all very embarassing. My twittering didn't last for long.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

British general election dinner party

A British general election dinner party guest list

MR SMALLING - Will talk about how he voted Tory because he wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MRS SMALLING - Will talk about how she voted Tory because she wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MR CHADWALLA - Will talk about how he voted Tory because he wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MR SMURCHILL - Will talk about how he voted Tory because he wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MS GLADRAG - Will talk about how she voted Tory because she wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MS DE EAUGH - Will talk about how she voted Tory because she wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MR NUGGS - Will talk about how he voted Tory because he wants to be the naughty one and attract everyone's attention.

MS FERRIER - Voted LibDem. Wants to be seen as the nice one.

MR TWINGE - Has voted Tory all his life. Doesn't want to talk about politics at all because everyone sees him as the evil one. Will try and distract the conversation by talking about puppies.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Never prejudge prejudice

Went to see a film this morning with the Baron: Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. I had the review all written out even before I went to see the film - I always seem to be writing reviews in my head about things that I see, before I see them. It's more convenient that way. Here's how the review began:
Intense! Harrowing! Thought-provoking! Grimly realistic! Profound! Dull!
The trouble with the review, fine though it was, is this: I actually saw the film, and the film that I actually saw was quite good, actually. Reality has quite a rude way of refuting your expectations like that. That's why it's so much more convenient to write reviews of a thing before seeing it, and why all sorts of critics so often use the simple expedient of lying about something instead of telling the truth. It allows their reviews to be so much more entertaining. Also, it often helps them cover up if they haven't actually experienced the thing they were supposed to experience.

All this reminds me, once when writing an essay at university about romantic music, I happened upon a neat quote in Hector Berlioz's Memoirs that I used to illustrate some fatuous point I was making about composers deliberately attempting to be popular. Berlioz was saying something like 'let all works that are not approved by the masses be burnt!' Years later, I actually got around to reading Berlioz's Memoirs: and discovered that he was making exactly the opposite point to that which I had quoted him as making.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so bothered by this. After all, as Sydney Smith once said: "I never read a book before reviewing it. It prejudices a man so." Likewise, one should never watch a film, go to an art gallery, read a poem, or do anything, really, before offering one's decisive critical judgment on it. Spend your time eating a cake instead. Future generations will thank you for it.

The relationship between insignificance and unsignifier

There's a shop called TOFWD that I always pass when I make my way to Sticky to do a spot of photocopying, or maybe buy a zine or two. It's called The Organic Food and Wine Deli or something like that, I don't know. Anyway, whenever I pass it I automatically think 'TOFU With Disabilities'. Which is a pretty odd thing to think about, because what sort of disability could tofu - a shapeless, tasteless, limbless, brainless clod of white substance - possibly have? Maybe I haven't been paying attention? The mind boggles.

Anyway, this meaningless post about a meaningless sign that does not mean what I think it means, means nothing. I just wanted to make a note of it here. Sorry for wasting your time, you can go back now to climbing that mountain or writing that post-post-postmodernist masterpiece, or whatever it was you were doing.

TOFU-RELATED UPDATE! - Tofu's a pretty strange thing when you think about it. Somewhere in the world there's got to be a vast tofu factory that contains endless styrofoam crates containing humongous blocks of tofu, stacked one on top of the other, right up to the ceiling, flobbling around in that flobbery way that tofu has. Yet how could people tell where the tofu ends and the styrofoam crates begin? When you think about it, this is probably not a thing you should think about.
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