Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking a stand for the words that stand for something else

A: "There's a hole in your soul if you give in to LOL
And ROFL is just piffle-poffle,
As well as WTF and TTFN
Not to mention BATBYGOBSTOPL."

B: "But what about OMG? GSOH?
Is IMHO a no-no as well?
Does your heart sound no oompah for lovely GBRMPA?
Does your love for EBITDA not swell?"

A: "We must defeat DFAT for once and for all,
From VB as from VD we must flee -
I am peeved by the TV we must leave it forever
And shut down the ABC."

B: "But EG! IE! And please note NB!
And FYI, DIY, see?
What's MYOB is yours, and MYEFO is too -
M and M's, CC's - etc.
My argument's done - QED."

(This is just a little I tossed together over the holidays playing with the way we pronounce acronyms. Not up to much...)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Embarrassmental disorder

The other day, I was at an amusing dinner party with my friends A, B and C.
A said: "I caught an elephant in my pyjamas the other day. How it got in there I don't know."
B said: "I often shoot lions with my glasses. My glasses have lasers in them, you see."
C said: "I went mountaneering with my book yesterday. It is a very big book."
I said: "I eat underpants frequently."
I had mistaken their witty exchange of dangling modifiers for a series of true confessions, and had attempted to join in! What an embarrassing mistake!

The following day, we were all walking in the park and another sparkling conversation followed.
A said: "My new French clock loses time frequently, thanks to chocolate."
B said: "I hear that Mars is coming closer to the Earth in its orbit, but then again, I blow my nose frequently."
C said: "My mother is quite fond of cake, so I have taken up juggling."
I said: "I shot JFK. No, really."

I had done it again - not realising that they were merely exchanging delightful non-sequiturs!

How embarrassing!

TimT's book, 101 Awkward Social Gaffes and what you should do to avoid them will be out just in time to miss the Christmas and New Year rush in all bad book stores.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Communitarian communing, communitarianistically

Here in Bright, the Baron and I have been communing with Nature. Nature is a lovely lady who lives round here with mud on her feet and branches in her hair and birds building nests under her arms and rivers running this way and that across her chest and men with pedometers on their wrists and lycra around their glutes hurtling through her at a breakneck pace. Nature, being Nature, seems to accept it all with her customary aplomb. "Hello, Nature," I say. "Hello Tim! Hello Baron!" cries Nature, and rain clouds burst over her, and rainbows shoot hither and thither from her eyes, and everybody ducks for cover. Oh, and plus she drinks camomile tea and eats burdock root ice cream every evening.

The other thing that people seem to be doing with Nature is sticking things on her. They put a sign up here, describing an interesting thing about the local environment, and pointing your way to another sign over there, which describes another interesting thing about the local environment, and probably points your way to a third sign somewhere else, and so on. Not to mention busying themselves putting fences up all over Nature, and handrails, so you can clamber all your way around her, cutting stone stairs all over her, popping a little cafe here, a visitors bureau there, and an attractive green seat just about everywhere else. No matter how far you walk with Nature, you always seem to be discovering little men and women doing little things on her, and oh-so-willing to sell you things or shove glossy little pamphlets in your hands telling you about attractive things to find in attractive places conveniently located nearby, or the importance of sustainability in rural and regional areas, or where the best place is to go for a swim, or other helpful (in other words, bloody irritating) advice. I can't imagine how much worse it would be if all those irritating little men and women were sticking signs or fences or helping other people to clamber up or over me or, for heaven's sake, hurling their sweaty bodies through me with all their might. Nature, though, doesn't seem to mind. She just waves her 10 billion year old hand carelessly and goes on her merry way.

That's the thing with Nature, though. She's everywhere, or at least it seems she's everywhere. Going back down the main street of Bright, I found her there, too, where I saw that people had taken carbon compounds out of the tip of one of her fingernails and had turned them into tables, on which they served little slabs of Nature from her other hand, and had turned some very interesting creatures that had been roaming up and down her back, along with some rather fertile plants that had been growing exactly where you think they'd been growing, to customers. To complete the scene, I suppose, it would have been handy to have one of the plants in the kitchen suddenly evolve (in that way Nature has, of suddenly evolving into other things) into a boogeyman and lumber over to the customers to gulp them into its ravening maw. But no, Nature didn't oblige.

... And, when I got home, Nature was there, too, when I sat down on the couch. "Afternoon, Tim!" she announced brightly. And I looked around, and there she was - Nature - being all protonic and neutronic and atomic and stuff, with a couple off billion neutrinos and sub-atomic particles and electromagnetic radiation and Higgs Bosons being thrown into the mix.

You want to try communing with Nature? You can't get away from her!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Two people, one day: a Christmas couplet

1. Today is mince pies, presents, puddings too.
2. Today is walkies, wee-wees, rolls in poo.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas dirge

Oh gosh, who would have thought, what do you know, this one (pausing dramatically, while someone rolls the drum, and someone else draws the curtains and someone else pops outside to get a quick cigarette and everyone else taps their fingers impatiently) - this one is from Badger's Dozen too!

A Christmas Dirge
My CD will not play!
My CD will not play!
I’ve tried and tried all day
And I suppose that I could try another one but then again the CD rack is much too far away -
Jingle all the way.

My pencil will not go!
My pencil will not go!
And when it does it’s slow!
And also plus I’m pretty sure I will not get another as a present but of course you never know.
Ho ho ho ho ho.

I have lost my chocolate bar!
I have lost my chocolate bar!
I weep and wail and wah
Perhaps but I could buy another at the store that’s half a block away but then again that half a block is half a block too far -
Fa la la la la la la la la.

My brother drank my beer!
My brother drank my beer!
I left it sitting here
I just left it for one minute when I came back it was gone and his whole face had a leer -
And a happy new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nopinion column

Christmas ‘tis the season merry gentlemen good will to all star of wonder fa la la et cetera.

Right, now we’ve got that out of the way let’s get down to business, because the newspapers and the magazines and the periodicals and the circulars and the shows and everyone else certainly have. Did you know that Christmas is actually a pagan festival and Santa Claus actually doesn’t exist and St Nicholas probably didn’t either and he’s actually based on the Germanic God of War and what’s so Christian about the whole thing anyway and by the way how does Santa get around the world so quickly with all these presents anyway what’s with that? These undoubted facts, and other opinions like them, will be filling up all the publications at the moment. And also, did Jesus Christ ever really exist and if so he definitely almost certainly probably wasn’t the son of God and he certainly definitely almost probably wasn’t born on Christmas Day and he might not even have been born on 0 AD either so take that Christians?

It certainly is a merry and happy time of the year for newspaper columnists all over the world, isn’t it? What with the ostentatious disproving of this, and the self-satisfied deconstruction of that, it seems more or less the tradition amongst this lot to dispense with other traditions, the longer-held the better. You might think, of course, that people have always adapted traditions for their own ends, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but another tradition held by opinion columnists the world over says that that other tradition that you hold makes you an idiot.

But anyway, let’s not worry about that because did you know Christmas was actually meant to be a winter event and it was actually based on the Roman event of Saturnalia and actually it was a seasonable celebration of the winter solstice but what would Jesus say and by the way have you seen what comes out on TV at Christmas isn’t it boring oh heavens the pain why are they doing this to us? And you shouldn’t forget that isn’t Christmas shopping awful why are we spending so much money anyway isn’t this all about Mammon really it just proves how horrible capitalism really is and the Christmas office party is horrible and you won’t go and here is a list of 11 and a half tips of things to avoid at the party that you won’t go to probably involving the guy from IT and the photocopier that’s one thousand words thank you good day now please to pay.

News is the thing that distinguishes a newspaper from a toilet paper. And most of the time it’s fair to say they actually do have news to run with. The trouble is that, over Christmas, the news, or the people that are involved in the news, or the people that the news happens to, tend to pack up and go home, and all the newspapers are left with is a lot of space, and a need to fill that space.

But it’s not all bad, because did you know that in America they’ve started using the festive greeting happy holidays and isn’t that taking all the meaning out of Christmas but why should we celebrate Christmas in the first place and did you hear about the store that banned the nativity I am horrified and actually I think there’s nothing wrong with it I am so disgusted I think I might go and pass a pair of fully grown reindeers antlers and by the way did you know that Santa Claus is actually a Buddhist Ninja wearing a pair of magical underpants which he got from Atlantis and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was actually a communist spy that’s the significance behind the red nose bet you didn’t know that either did you no you didn’t?

I could go on and I suppose the newspapers will but in the meantime, good readers, Merry New Year, Happy Christmas, live long and prosper, and may the force be with youse all.

"Something something something something something something bah humbug!" - illustration from Dickens

Monday, December 19, 2011

Most-purpose thought

"It is important to maintain a regular flow."

This thought, it seems to me, could apply to just about everything in life, be it philosophy, writing, music, the weather, or matters relating to a persons urinary tract. Especially matters relating to a person's urinary tract, but all that other stuff, too.

I suppose it's not an all-purpose thought. But it's definitely a most-purpose thought.

Asking important questions

Why are so many people driving puce cars? And why does every puce car in Melbourne seem to be of the same model as every other puce car in Melbourne?

Or are they all the same puce cars?

Am I being shadowed by a spy in a puce car?

And doesn't this really raise troubling concerns about the taste in colours and preference in cars of the spy concerned? If they think it is appropriate to drive in a car that is coloured puce, what other crimes might they be capable of?

These are all important questions that I am asking myself this Monday evening.

Boldly Badgering on

It's been a bit quiet here on the blog front in the last month. I suppose you could blame lots of things (me, for instance.) My parents and brother visiting (or maybe it was just me). The need to buy presents (actually, no, I pretty much let the Baron handle that one, so you might be able to blame me for two things on that front).

Personally, though, I prefer to blame this blackguard.

Him. Badger. That's the one. He has been hogging the computer*, enveloping the whole house in clouds of smoke from his pipe, while touch typing articles with his paw for our latest issue of Badger's Dozen. It may not be the world's best zine, but it certainly is the world's most-spiffing-smashing-and-really-quite-very-capital-one. (Badger agrees).

And - you know what? - I reckon you just might want a copy. Yes, you there with the face (or snout, or pseudopodae, or whatever it is your species specialises in). It has, amongst other things, the exciting conclusion to Nottlesby's tale of terror on the high seas, and an amazing 13th century Latin map of the Ergonomic Office!

Go on, chaps! At three dollars it's the cheapest most-spiffing-smashing-and-really-quite-very-capital publication around! Hit us up at timhtrain - at - That's my email, and also my paypal address. Badger will mail it out pronto!

*Bet you never thought a Badger could be a hog, did you?

Present mild, past tense

Last night, after presenting my brother with his, well, present, (a box set of early Dr Whos), he announced that he had already got this particular boxed set, and presented his present back to us.

This morning, after toddling down to the JB Hi Fi, he presently found a, well, what do you know, another present, a boxed set, which he presented to us. I presented this present to the people behind the counter, and presently was able to present this present back to my brother. Which he is presumably presently about to enjoy (after he gets back off the flight to Newcastle with my parents, I mean).

I've heard Christmas is supposed to be about the giving, not the taking, but, you know, having a fancy, shiny new DVD box set sitting on my table, I can't see anything wrong with it - at the present.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You Jason? You Jason? You want some Christmas cheer, very cheap?

The Parental Unit is in town, and today it was off to the city centre with them to avoid the Myer Christmas Window Event in Bourke Street. It seemed a pretty easy task at first; all along Flinders Street and up Swanston Street we managed to avoid it, and for about an hour after that, while we performed various tasks in the vicinity of Russell Street (dodging the chap who unsuccessfully tried to sell us 'very cheap' Christmas cheer on the corner of Russell and Bourke). We successfully avoided viewing the Christmas Window Event during lunch at the Shanghai Dumpling House, and continued this avoidance for another three hours at Melbourne Central shopping centre. It all came to a horrendous end, however, with everyone converging on Bourke Street, mid-afternoon, right in front of a certain window wherein could be found hideous plastic figurines, leering manically at the children outside, both figurines and children gurning at one another in a manner quite terrifying to behold, while a hollow voice boomed repeatedly from somewhere, 'You'd better watch out... you'd better not cry... HE KNOWS WHEN YOU'VE BEEN SLEEPING... HE KNOWS WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE... HE KNOWS IF YOU'VE BEEN BAD OR GOODSOBEGOODFORGOODNESSSAKE!'

We fled as soon as we could.

Such were the Christmas decorations in the city: in Lalor the Christmas decorations were of an entirely different order, consisting of:
- One (1) Garage lined with flashing lights in our street;
- Three (3) giant inflatable Santas in a backyard, tastefully several blocks away from ours;
And that's about it really. It is an entirely different place out here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Things in point form

Chicken point - Daisy got clucky. She laid an egg and sat on it and sat on it and sat on it some more. We stole the egg from under her and gave her a golf ball. She rolled the golf ball under herself and sat on it. Griselda laid an egg. Daisy rolled it under herself and sat on it. We took Griselda's egg and gave Daisy a wooden egg. She rolled that under her, too, and kept on sitting on it. What's the fun in a clucky chicken? Now instead of walking everywhere and pooing everywhere, all she does is sit still and make cranky noises at us.

Bridesmaid point - Today we saw Bridesmaids lining up to get icecream. It was impressive. I was impressed. There is something fundamentally right about bridesmaids eating icecream. It is written into the order of the universe, it is just, it is the way, it is ordained. I observed as much to the Baron as we walked on and she pointed out that the Bridesmaids may just have been waiting while the grooms got icecream. I sincerely hope this is not the case; what is the point of a universe in which bridesmaids do not eat icecream sometimes? (Though personally, I think bridesmaids should eat icecream all the time.)

End point - .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Delightful dunny deities

Voltaire, in a passage of his Philosophical Dictionary devoted to changing conceptions of deity, alludes to a number of real or alleged Roman deities of a less exalted status:

La déesse des tétons, dea Rumilia ; la déesse de l’action du mariage, dea Pertunda ; le dieu de la chaise percée, deus Stercutius ; le dieu Pet, deus Crepitus, ne sont pas assurément bien vénérables. . . Il est sûr que deus Crepitus, le dieu Pet, ne donnait pas la même idée que deus divum et hominum sator, la source des dieux et des hommes.
"The goddess of breasts,
dea Rumilia; the goddess of the marital act, dea Pertunda; the god of the toilet, deus Stercutius; the god Fart, deus Crepitus, were surely not quite objects of reverence. . . It is certain that deus Crepitus, the god Fart, did not give the same sort of idea as deus divum et hominum sator, the creator of gods and men."
— "Polytheism", entry in the
Philosophical Dictionary of Voltaire.
Send thy thunder,
Great Pertunda,
In rolling waves about the land:
It shall defy
Great Zeus on high
Who doth with thunderbolts enforce his dread command.

At thy grumble
All are humble,
To thee both Prince and Pauper squat;
The strong are weak,
The brave are meek,
All duly sacrifice unto thy hallowed pot.

Mighty closet
Of deposit,
We pray thou holdst our piss fart shite
Snot spit and chunder,
Great Pertunda –
Accept these offerings we tend to thee tonight.

Dedicated to - who else? - that chap Diogenes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Having disposed of my paper towels and my thoughts in the toilet where I found them

The sign in the toilets read, "please dispose of your paper thoughtfully."

Thoughtfully, I thought. But what am I supposed to be thinking of? What if in the very act of being thoughtful, and maybe even of thinking about being thoughtful, I would distract myself from the other important task of disposing paper towels that I had just used to wipe my hands? Are there other toilets around Melbourne that ask you to dispose of your paper brusquely, judiciously, hastily, grumpily, ponderously, sleepily, thankfully, jauntily, merrily, gloomily, or expeditiously? As I stooped over the bin and placed the paper towel in, I thought of myself wiping my hands and furrowing my brow in concentration, and formulating great philosophical theorems while doing so. (Though in fact I was merely thinking about being thoughtful). Or did they just want me to have some idle passing notion, a cheap used ponderance that anybody could have? Just exactly how thoughtful did they want me to be?

And so, having disposed of my paper towels and my thoughts in the toilet where I found them, I wandered off into the world to let the rest of the day have its way with me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Talking literally, laterally

This is an intelligent poem: it regularly tops all the exams, and often appears on chat shows with other sonnets and ballads, talking about highly complex subjects that you do not understand.

This is a lively sentence: it ran from St Kilda to the city this morning, and plans on going to the gym this afternoon.

This is a full stop: it doesn't want to go on.

This is gluten, free: it escaped from the gluten prison last night and is hiding out with its other gluten buddies planning another bank heist.

This meal is vegan friendly: it says 'hi' to vegans when they walk by, and gets into chats with them about movies.

This is a full stop: it just wants to end it all.

This is a one-track mind: council plans on putting in the second track next February.

This is an erotic chapter: but maybe it should start by asking you out.

This is a full stop: it ate too much muffin before lunch.

This is a late train: it's late. Almost midnight.

This is an early train: it's late too.

This is conscious chocolate: it is alert and aware of its existence in this world, and is fully cognisant of the fact that you are about to put it in your mouth, thus ending its brief life.

This is a full stop: this is a full stop.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The old sock theory of television presenting

David Attenborough is a figure of such beaming benevolence that I believe he could talk at a funeral and leave everyone feeling happy and serene. Indeed, that is what he has been doing for most of his working life - providing a sunny and cheerful voiceover to documentaries wherein owls swoop down on mice, wolves hunt down bunnies, and lions commit various reprehensible acts on various smaller species of wildlife. Just imagine that familiar Attenborough voice, commenting, "A lion disembowelling a leopard." I can hear it as cheerful, matter of fact, perky, or instructional - but I just can't imagine Attenborough actually sounding horrified.

Maybe it's because I've grown up with Attenborough, somewhere, in the background, that he seems so nice and cosy, like a pair of old socks. (Okay, maybe less wooly, and with better elocution skills, and slightly more malarial than your usual pair of old socks.) But you have to wonder whether Attenborough's not also partially responsible for the dolphin-whalesong-flowers-and-loveliness generation.

Aside from funerals and charnel scenes of nature being red in tooth and claw, Attenborough can also narrate the most frightful bollocks and still seem all lovely and cosy. I heard him commit the following line on air just the other day:

Until such time, the question of whether it is too late to save the ocean will hang in the balance.
My first thought on this - well, my first thought was "aw, it's David Attenborough, he's like a lovely pair of old socks!" - but my second thought was, "huh? How can a question hang in the balance?" The line was from a scripted documentary - but I'm still not really sure what it means.

It's disturbing to think this lovely old fellow could have been going about all his life reciting lines like this, and making people feel all warm and lovely about the most absurd nonsense.

On the other hand, who else could narrate nature documentaries like him? Terry Wogan? I suppose Kenneth Branagh, who's played a number of Shakespearean tragic heros, and Frankenstein's monster, could really add that touch of gore and terror to nature documentaries. But really, the very thought is unthinkable. Nature documentaries without David Attenbourough? That's like imagining the Bishop of Canterbury without his beard. Or a cosy pair of old socks without, er, the old socks.

Hey look, there he is again! Awwwwwwwwwwwww.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Roof pants

If you just happened to catch the Epping line into Melbourne's north, and you just happened to get off at Lalor, and you just happened to come to our house, and you just happened to look up, you might just happen to see a pair of pants on the roof.

And if you just happened to see that pair of pants on the roof, and just happened to ask, 'why is there a pair of pants on the roof', well, then, I would not be in the least bit surprised.

Why are there a pair of pants on the roof? Well maybe we thought the roof was naked and it needed a pair of pants. Maybe its legs were getting cold. Of course you might go on to wonder whose pair of pants those are originally, but they're mine actually. And you might continue to speculate, if the roof is wearing my pair of pants, then what am I doing? But we're not talking about me, and besides, I think this chimney suits me very well indeed. Hey, maybe I thought Santa could do with an extra pair of pants, and since he's going to land his reindeer on the roof that's where he's going to get the extra pair of pants from. Pants, on the roof. Could there be anything in the world that requires less explanation? I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. And also, why don't you stop asking these questions and go and put a pair of pants on your roof, hmm? Hmm? Don't you do anything like this, like keep a haystack on your teapot, or a telephone in you pelmet or a Gutenberg bible in your orange peels?

AndactuallytherewasaholeinthetilesontheroofandourcatHarrietgotintotheroofandstayedtherealldayandwedecidedtoblockitupbecausewedidnt wanthergoingintherebecauseitmightbedangeroussoIputmypantsintheholeinthetilesontherooftTheEnd.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Chocolate! Everyone loves chocolate!

By clicking on a link found in a search on a wikipedia page that I'd opened for some reason or other for some person or other, I landed upon this rather interesting entry:

Wazoo (candy)
Wazoo (often known as the Wazoo bar) is a candy bar manufactured by Topps incorporated.... The name "Wazoo" was under debate because of the Australian slang word of anus. But the title was considered appropriate since it would only be sold in the U.S.

Well, since Frank Zappa released an album called 'The Grand Wazoo' I had rather assumed that the slang term was American in origin, but whatever.

It made me think of that other chocolate bar. What was it called... pofflewoffle... pollywofter... that's right...

Polly Waffle
Polly Waffle was a 50 gram Australian chocolate bar that was manufactured in Australia by Nestlé. It was a waffle wafer tube filled with marshmallow and coated in compound chocolate.

Now a quick search of Urban Dictionary will tell you that this is not the only use for this elegant, multi-faceted term.

Chocolate! Isn't it amazing what comparisons it brings to mind? I can think of a few other brands with similarly evocative terms that, with a little tweaking, could refer to something quite different...

Violet Grumble

Snickers spatters thighs!

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Department of redefinitions

Retail therapy - a form of veterinary surgery in which the tails of animals are sewn back on, after them having fallen off, with disastrous effects on the animals' health.

Polyunsaturated poetry

Great afternoon at the Dan yesterday listening to a poetry group calling themselves 'Poly Poetry' - which is to say, 'poetry of many possibilities'.

As for myself, I practice 'Polly Poetry'. Named after Polly the proverbial parrot: it's a weak imitation of the type of poetry that has been written at other times, by other poets, who are better, smarter, and older than me.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

News on the booze and the screws

I was watching ABC News 24 the other day. (Well, I don't watch the television, as I told you, but let's just say it happened to be on and I happened to be near it when it happened to be on.) They were talking to federal Labor pollie Richard Marles, who's from around Geelong. Marles was banging on about the usual stuff the pollies do in the usual manner they do - not typically an incitement for listening - outside of the ALP National conference, one of those love-fests were all the Labor pollies get together and bang their collective heads together as an exercise in policy development, or something.

Anyway, Marles started talking about the importance of getting people into work. And all of a sudden, there were people in high-visibility work vests on the telly, doing things which looked very much like work. Then Marles went on to talk about the importance of an economic surplus, and how it was really important to have a strong economy. Lo and behold, images on the television appeared of a board in the stockmarkets, and people in the stockmarkets going back and forth doing important things which looked like they had something to do with money. (Then again they might have just been talking about their lunch, or just hanging out at a stockmarket party, or something, who knows.) Soon enough the subject turned to gay marriage, and - surprise - all this footage of men kissing men, and women joining hands with other women appeared on the television, almost as if they were getting married just as Marles spoke about them. After that the conversation turned to that favourite subject, 'global economic turmoil' (whatever that is - sounds to me like a kind of washing machine). What do you know, quick as a flash the ABC pointy heads displayed images of a big building with a gigantic Euro sign out the front of it, and then cut to another image of a big building with European-looking people walking outside of it (you could tell they were European-looking people because they looked just like other people).

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but it struck me as being all a bit strange. Doesn't the ABC like the idea of a politician standing in a room and talking about stuff? Do they feel the need to embellish every topic with standard stock images that they could have been running in news stories for decades? How much more literal could they have been? If Marles started talking about politicians 'sifting through the issues', would the ABC have run the image of flour running through a colander? If they could have found an image to illustrate the concept of 'conscience' they would certainly have gone with it, because the 'conscience vote' issue came up again and again.

Admittedly I'm biased. But really I think the ABC could have settled with this image of the whole conference:

Someone's got a screw loose? Or are we all going to be screwed? Either way it sums up affairs nicely.

Pounces and ounds

My head has been swimming lately with ounces and pounds and grams and baking powder and soda and hops and pounces and ounds. I have been confounded by questions about how many volumetric US kilograms are in a measured imperial thimbleful of beaten eggs, confuddled with abstruse questions such as how many dessert spoons are equal to a half of a third of four times of seven eighth of a pinch of a volumetric tonne of active years, and positively befounded with the problem of what to do with a bunch of egg whites once you have used the yolks if no-one wants meringues and you are sick of pavlova.

I have, in short, been cooking and brewing, planning further brewing and cooking, and preparing for the further excesses of Christmas. Or at any rate I have been doing a great deal of thinking about it and planning for it, which is almost as much trouble, and possibly even more angst-ridden. (What if it doesn't work? What if it explodes? What if nobody wants it? What if I'm leaving it too late?) It's that last one that's really starting to get me...

The other day, in preparation for the gourmet excesses that were to come, I went forth into the city on the grand and important task of collecting vegetarian suet. Vegetarian suet doesn't exist, of course - suet is a fat they collect from around the hearts of animals - so as you can imagine my investigation was made somewhat difficult. Eventually I found a store in the centre of town which stocked something called 'suet', and vegan to boot, which is to say it was probably made out of plastic. coincidentally, almost everything else in that store seemed to be made out of plastic as well, including the plastic wrapping on the buns, the plastic chocolates, and the life-save plastic monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, sitting in a homely manner in the chair on the opposite side of the store, kindly surveying my purchase of said plastic suet.

Will it work? Will the pudding explode? Who knows, but I'm certainly looking forward to giving it a red hot go tomorrow, with extra lashings of anxiety and brandy to boot.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Hobbitat - that place wot a hobbit lives in. (Not, as was previously speculated by certain now-discredited theorists, a mere hole in the ground.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Motivation slogans for an electronic age

Every morning, look your status update in the face, and click LIKE!

You are worth more than one 140 character tweet! You are worth more than two 140 character tweets! You are the whole twitter account!

Embrace the power of the positive facebook comment! Be the change you are!

There should be a website with a button saying just how awesome you are! I would share that button!

There is no other server-based identity like you!

Use the technology for you! They call it iPod, not myPod!

Take the 'um' out of 'forum'! You are the comment you want to be!

Don't just be a cyberspace - be a cyberplanet! A cybercosmos! A CYBERMULTIVERSE!

You are the enter key. You are the enter key. YOU ARE THE ENTER KEY!

Make every day a 100 smiley day!

Be of the net, be with the net, be for the net - BE INTERNET!

Tim 'Guru' Train's book The Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven Billion Pixels of Serenity will be released soon in no good bookshops.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baked bean Monday

It's Monday, which means it must be time to eat my ritual Monday baked bean. No, not plural. Just one. We have about 20 baked bean cans in the cupboard, and I figure if I eat just one every Monday, by the time I'm 85, I'll have got through... one can.

That's okay, I'm sure I can take it.

Not sure about 'half a broad bean Tuesday', though, coming up tomorrow, in which I have gravely undertaken to eat half a broad bean in my bold effort to keep back the billions of broad beans we have around the house at the moment. Or 'rice grain' Thursday, where I polish and boil a single grain of rice before dividing it into equal 9ths, to be taken each hour for the rest of the day (I mean, by the time I reach the 7th rice grain I'm pretty full.)

On the other hand, bugger it. I'm eating the rest of the ice cream.

Scientists stunned at discovery of South Morang

MELBOURNE, MONDAY - with the completion of the Epping Rail line extension, scientists have been stunned at the discovery that South Morang actually exists.

"We just thought it was a myth! The stories were always contradictory, and seemed to derive from old folk traditions", says Edith Blithers, Doctor of Professorships at Melbourne University.

Rail technicians had intended to keep the rail line extension going indefinitely, but had to make a rapid change of plans when the train lines hit South Morang. "It just, like, sprang up out of nowhere!" says Blithers.

The outlying suburb with the name which sounds like something you make out of sugar and egg whites, had long been the subject of local Melbourne folk stories, often involving bunyips, and yowies, and people who vote for the Coalition.

This is not the first time inner-city boffins, who mostly spend their time quaffing lattes in cafes, have been surprised in this way. In 2007, scientists were shocked to discover that, far from being a mystical vale whence medieval kings and knights were taken by beauteous faerie maidens, Avalon was actually a place full of concrete where they landed planes. And in 2010, after surveying the results of the latest particle accelerator experiment, quantum physicists had to revise their calculations regarding the probable existence of the Melbourne suburb of Pakenham, from 'barely possible' to 'likely'.

Now, thanks to this latest great discovery, people from North Melbourne to Northcote will have to revise their description of South Morang from 'place that doesn't exist' to 'place which probably does exist but I may never visit'.

UPDATE! - National Party wins second term in Mordor New Zealand, surprising many Australians who had previously thought that Sauron John Key didn't allow elections.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Sometimes at work while I'm typing I like to close my eyes for a little bit, just to see what it's like. Sometimes at work, too, while I'm typing and I have my eyes closed, I like to rest my head on something comfy, like the back of a chair, or a desk, or a large concrete brick. Sometimes at work I can't remember what happens sometimes at work next because I wake up four hours later, and find that I have typed a column which I never read from Lasker's Chess Magazine, 1923, with full analysis of a game which I have never played over, and that I have a bag of Swiss cheese tied around my ears.

But let's not go into those details now, because sometimes at work I actually have ideas, very useful and productive ideas, such as the following:

- If I ever had a boy I could call him Noam and I would put him in the back garden all the time and then he would be a garden Noam.

- Tomorrow, I might buy a can of tuna, and put it on top of the piano, and it can be a piano tuna.

And then, at this point, I start to get distracted from my distraction, and think to myself about all the piano accordions around the world, and why don't people invent violin accordions or mandolin accordions, and then start thinking about violins and mandolins with gigantic squeezeboxes attached to them. (It could happen, you know.) So there's no need to go any further into that, is there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The reason I am not a mainstream television producer

Here's an interesting video of Paul Henry

in which he demonstrates that, given a year to reflect over matters, and a sympathetic audience, and a good chance beforehand to decide what his answers are going to be, you can still come out looking like a bit of a putz. We're getting him here on Australian breakfast television, but let's be honest, it's not for his scathing analysis of breaking news. We're getting him because he's a guy who once said some little offensive things on New Zealand television and caused a big media shit storm in the process. Channel Ten are obviously hoping to replicate his success, but you can't exactly shout that out in the promos: 'COMING UP! THAT PRESENTER WHO IS JUST A TEENSY BIT RACIST!'

Actually, I rather think we should get him over here too, on the grounds that he clearly has a juvenile sense of humour, and I do too. Also I happen to like big media shit storms - just a little bit.

This is probably the reason I'm not a mainstream television producer. (That, and the fact that I don't really know, or care, about the identity of the daughter of the brother of the father of the aunty of the guy who plays B1 in Bananas in Pyjamas. I can't think of any other reason, none at all.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Train of thought

You've heard of a person making a name for themselves, but sometimes the name makes a person for itself as well. There are cases where a name seems bizarrely appropriate for a person who you associate with a particular profession. (And I'm not really talking about Aptronyms, such as Alan Ball, Lloy Ball and Michael Ball, all either footballers or volleyballers).

No, I'm thinking about public figures with public names, like politicians; I'm thinking of names like Hawke and Menzies that seem to be descriptive of whole character traits, names as good or better than you'd get in novels. In some cases, it's true, the names seem to have more character than the politicians. (Not always - Bob Brown, for better or worse, has much more character than his name). But really: how good would a novelist have to be to come up with names like Gillard and Abbott for their two main roles, that of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader? Or have a side player like Katter running around? 'Gillard' is eerily reminiscent of the French device for capital punishment; 'Abbott' shows how the Opposition leader just can't get away from the ecclesiastical references even if he wants to; and 'Katter' bespeaks both a certain wildness, and a certain pliability about the man.

There used to be a chap in politics in New South Wales called Richard Face. I can find bugger all about him, but, as was pointed out to me years ago, what a name 'Face' is for politics. Just think of all the headlines he could have inspired: 'Losing Face'. 'Who is behind Face'? 'New Face for a New Cabinet', and so on. On the face of it, Mr Face didn't seem to have been such a bad fellow after all.

Then there's the triumvirate of independents and a Green who are keeping the ALP in power - Oakeshott, Windsor, and Bandt. 'Bandt' is the easiest to interpret; it slips easily into a narrative about the Greens, happy to ban anything and everything they disagree with. 'Oakeshott' is a better name, I think - if anything, that name is cunningly deceptive: you think of terms like 'shot his bolt', or 'that oak is shot', making you think of somebody who is basically useless, or of a person who makes a rapid appearance and then runs away. Maybe those ideas will turn out to be true, but if anything, he's a guy that can be very long-winded, almost pointlessly so (here's the evidence, which of course you shouldn't bother watching.) Kerryn once observed of Oakeshott's 'decision' speech that it was a moment all Australians would remember, like the Dismissal. I agree with that actually - I remember exactly where I was when Oakeshott was making his speech. I was at lunch, and when I came back he still hadn't finished.

'Windsor', too, is an excellent name; it is positively saturated in hauteur and patrimony. That seems to describe the man fairly well, though it doesn't quite explain why he's in politics. About the only impression I've got of Tony Windsor is of a man who lies in a fairly opportunistic manner, and usually gets away with it; if that is the case, maybe you the first syllable of 'Windsor' is descriptive: a man who is full of wind, who is windy, who is a windbag... but I know very little about Windsor, apart from the fact that he will probably be retiring very soon, and who is probably very rich as well.

The Opposition has some beauties as well, at least metaphorically. Much was made, years ago, of the pun 'Abbott and Costello', when there was a court case involving then Treasurer Peter Costello, and Tony Abbott. The Coalition has not only an Abbott, but two Bishops - Julie Bishop, and the alliteratively splendid Bronwyn Bishop. And you can't ignore Malcolm Turnbull - certainly Turnbull himself doesn't, for I think it was from him that the quip 'Turnbull in a china shop' first came from. You also automatically think of terms like 'Turncoat', 'Bullish', 'Bullshit', even 'Burnt Tool' - there's a lot of character in that name alone.

This might all seem about as significant to the running of politics as reading the tea leaves, and it is. On the other hand, maybe there really is something in a name - something to live up to, or something to live down to, or something to get away from.

Of course, this is coming from someone who was a teenager when a certain Neal Blewett was almost constantly in the news. Every time I heard his name, I would comment, 'Aw, Neal blew it again!' So feel free to attach that amount of significance to all the comments above.

This Train of thought is over.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

There ought to be more of it

The Baron is currently reading something about mole deterrence.

Whatever is, I plan to do the absolute opposite.

I mean, who DOESN'T want moles in their lives? MOLES!

UPDATE! - Just beginning day two of the official Lalor mole anti-eradication program, and still no sign of any moles. Damn.

FIG 1: A mole.

Whatever it is, I don't like it #5774: the cake edition

I happened across a rather odd - phenomenon? event? manifestation? device? - in the kitchen yesterday. Let me see, I'll try and describe it:

- It was in a box.
- It was constructed mostly of a kind of orange material.
- The orange material was painted all over in a dark-brown covering.
- Smaller orange semi-circles were scattered around the top.
- It appeared to be lubricated.

It was, in fact, a cake.

Have cakes always been like this? It may be just me, but it seems to me cakes are getting more and more ridiculous these days, what with all the additions and toppings and additional toppings and toppings in addition to the additional toppings and the glazes and the light varieties and the dark varieties and the fudges and the muds and the what-nots.

Shouldn't cakes just be a bit of crumbly stuff baked in the oven for a while at high temperatures, maybe concluded with a bit of sugary stuff spread over the top? Why all this needless complication in the art of cakery these days, anyway? It's all very confusing. It makes me wonder if I've no idea what cakes are about, after all. It makes me look at the phenomenon/event/manifestation/device/cake, and think 'what does it do?' instead of just picking it up and eating it.

Whatever it is, I don't like it and I think it should stop.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Backwardly forwardish movingly static

For no reason at all, here’s a weird piece of jargon that I heard today:

progress thinking
I’m still not sure what it is, but you know, I’ve been doing a little progress thinking of my own. And the gist of my progress thinking is this: we’ve been doing far too much progress thinking and progress talking lately, and there’s been far too little progress action. So how on earth do we hope to make progress progress?

It’s true, of course, that the situation could arise, after our progress thinking leads to progress action and progress progress, where we wish to actually progress regress to a time before progress thinking occurred. And then what will we do? We will have to achieve some real progress progress in the area of progress regress, or otherwise we will be in a state of progress stasis on our desired progress regress targets, and nobody wants that.

I’ll start work on this progress regress progress now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some wort for the road?

Lately, I've been brewing some beer at home, ably assisted by

The Complete Guide to Beer and Brewing, a natty little guide by Laurie Strachan.

Brewing beer, as it turns out, is a simple process. To brew beer, all you need is a tun. The tun is what you perform the mash in. The mash, as everyone knows, is how you produce the malt and the dextrins. After you have performed the mash and produced the malt and the dextrins, you just have to sparge the grains. This is another obvious bit, as everyone who already has a lauter tun will know what sparging is. By the end of this process you'll obviously have a fine wort, which you work with to precipitate out the trub. What the trub is will be immediately, not to mention right away, clear to absolutely everyone and anyone, so I won't go into that. Anyway, you precipitate the trub out of the wort while gradually adding the hops, after which you use a counter-flow chiller (I certainly don't need to go into that), so you are able to get your wort to the temperature at which you are able to put it into the fermenter and pitch in the yeast. At this point the hydrometer comes in and... well, no need to go any further into this process, which is so simple, obvious, and clear that it has been used for many centuries by brewers the world over. More or less.

Contrast this simple, obvious and clear traditional process with the sophisticated, complex ritual we have to go through in order to get beer in a pub: you go up to the bar, you say the beer you want, and you pay them money. I don't have the space or the knowledge to explain in detail the minutiae of each of these steps, but really, it makes you wonder why we ever left the simple old ways behind.

Just by the by, on the working with yeast bit, do you know how frightening that stuff is? It's... it's... well, as they say in the old black and white movies at the top of the tower in the middle of the howling storm after a thunderbolt has struck, causing the nameless thing on the bench to rise up and reach it's horrific arms out - it's alive. If you chuck it in some water, and turn your back for a few seconds, all of a sudden it will have fizzed up. If you add the water and yeast to some flour, and go away for an hour or two, it will have risen and be well on its way to doubling in size. If you add it to a barrel with some wort and hops at a specific temperature, and go off to work, by the time you've come back the whole concoction will be fermenting away and producing alcohol and carbon dioxide and doing your household accounts while studying the finer points of the Greek lexicon on the side. If you like you can harvest yeast off the top of a fermented barrel of beer, but every time you use it to make a new bunch of beer, the Complete Guide advises, it will have mutated. Oddly, for a Complete Guide, the details about how the yeast will have mutated, and what it will have mutated to, are rather incomplete. Given that you have to store this mysteriously mutated yeast somewhere, in a sealed and sterilised jar, in a fridge environment, you would be forgiven for feeling a little edgy and nervous while having it around the house (just as you might feel edgy and nervous at having an axe murderer around the house).

Beer brewing is simple, fun, rewarding, and, if you do it in the right way (by which I mean the wrong way) will leave you with bottles exploding every half hour, and scattering glass all over your laundry. And of course you don't want to be wrong, right? Wrong.

I've certainly been enjoying the whole brewing process, although I admit that up to now I've skipped the bits involving the tun, the lauter tun, and the counter-flow chiller, as I don't have any of those, or the bits involving the mash, and the sparging, as I've never done them before, or some of the other bits as I get a little scared by them. Actually, I'm mostly doing it out of cans, which give you a wort and hops that have been pre-mixed for you, but I certainly mean to work my way up to doing all those other things, more or less, sooner or later, if you know what I mean. (Strachan's certainly not intimidated by the tuns and chillers and spargers and what not. He has this way of referring to all these steps in the process with the verbal equivalent of a casual wave of the hand in statements such as 'I do mine in a...' or 'I use this...' or 'I plug up the sparger with a...') I suppose to some this might mean that I've taken up every part of brewing except brewing.

So. Beer brewing. It's simple, obvious, fun, it leads to exploding bottles, the yeast does your accounts and can learn to conjugate in Greek, and I might even try it someday. And what have you been doing lately?

Monday, November 14, 2011


There is somewhere a plot of astro-turf
That is forever England.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zen Buddhism for apathetic people

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to see it or hear it, who cares?


What is the sound of one hand not clapping?


Nirvana - the blissful state attained upon cessation of all being.

Death - usually a slightly quicker way to achieve cessation of all being than Nirvana.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The gourmet’s gourmet: a summary of two recent meals I have eaten.

Vegan fish and chips – Okay, so it was just chips. In a bag. From the chip machine. And I’m not even sure whether the chips were made out of vegetables, they could have just been made out of plastic with salt on them. But still – yum!

Quiche Tim – it’s true I followed the recipe for Quiche Lorraine. But who the hell is Lorraine, anyway? And I didn’t follow the recipe very well. So Quiche Tim it is.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sometimes say sometimes again

Paul Keating's just released a book. I haven't read this book, but I know it has a title - I have read the title, at least. It's called

After Words

Not bad, as titles go I suppose - the book is supposed to be a collection of Keating's post-Prime Ministerial speeches. But it raises that age old problem (well, at least as age old as this post) - what happens if he ever wants to release a sequel? Is it going to be called 'After After Words'? Or 'An After Words' After Word' or 'A Word After After Words'? (And also: is it going to have an After After After Foreword and an After After Afterword?)

You see this problem happening over and over again with authors and book titles. Well I can only think of one example, that of Douglas Adams and his 'increasingly ridiculous' Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. So I suppose that hasn't quite reached an over yet. But still. Books. Words. Titles. It's important to think about this stuff, isn't it?

UPDATE! - Of course, another horrible possibility rears its head: what if Keating chose to call this hypothetical sequel: After Words: Electric Boogaloo?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I'm so conflicted

I would like to state right now that I have a conflict of interest with every politician everywhere.

Specifically, my conflict of interest is that I find it hard to find anything interesting about them at all. It's very conflicting.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Greetings, inhabitants of Futuropolis

For GetUp's time capsule featuring our messages to the future (linked by Tim), I have opted for a humble poem, called, well


As the preacher greets the sinner,
As the doctor greets the suture,
We the people of the past
Greet the people of the future

With a short and modest message
In words simple and sincere,
But their meaning and their moral
Is absolutely clear:

We saved the world! Don’t blow it!
We saved the world! Take care!
So don’t sell it cheap on e-bay,
We don’t have another spare.

We saved the world! Start cheering!
Although, of course, it’s true
While we saved it for the future
We just weren’t expecting *you*.

We saved it from igniting,
Or some other gruesome fate
Caused by a changing climate –
What have *you* done of late?

With a legislative program
Of higher taxes, meant
To cut the world’s emissions
By an nth of one per cent,

We saved it. Thanks to us,
And a simple ETS,
Though the globe might still be warming,
It’s now warming one bit less.

So don’t flirt with Terminators
(They’re easy to avoid),
So don’t steer earth in the path
Of a Killer Asteroid,

So don’t die from a pandemic
From the Xenopsylla flea
So don’t waste it watching porno
On your digital TV –

We saved the world! Be grateful!
But don’t move down on the bus,
For we have just remembered
That you is also us.

And when we reach the future
(Whenever that is planned)
We would like to meet us warmly,
We will shake us by the hand,

We saved the world! How jolly!
We saved the world! Huzzah!
Now if you’ll just excuse us
We’ll be with me at the bar.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How to answer back to a chicken

Now I know that animal sounds are merely a series of instinctual responses which they are in the habit of making thanks to millions of years of evolution, but on the other hand, OUR CAT JUST SPOKE TO OUR CHICKENS.

Here's how it happened: Bea the cat was passing one way by Griselda the chicken when Griselda thoughtfully said, 'cluck'. Bea turned her head, and replied instantly: 'meow'. And then continued on in just the direction she was going.

I don't know about you, but that strikes me as a particularly convincing argument on Bea's part.

This series of instinctual responses of the sort belonging to a member of the primate species has been brought to you courtesy of my keyboard, the internet, and a morning off work.

What is your whichword?

Who is Zooey Deschanel? What is Ryan Gosling? I just realised, with a sudden jolt, that I have no idea what the hell any of you people are talking about.

But then again, I realise that with a sudden jolt every day about this time. And last time I admitted to it, everybody laughed at me.

UPDATE! - Actual conversation actually had with the Baron:

ME: Who is Ryan Gosling anyway?

BARON: He's an actor.

ME: Who has he played?


ME: Er, what sort?

BARON: Young men.

This all leads me back to my original question: who or what is Ryan Gosling, anyway?

Sunday, October 30, 2011


The Queen has been pootling everywhere about Australia in the last couple of days, wearing hats, waving hands, and generally being present in the moment in that quietly satisfied way she seems to have. As she's gone here and there she's been giving journalists plenty of opportunity to get fussed about politicians causing perceived breaches of protocol by either doing or not doing some very small but important or unimportant thing in the royal presence of her royal person, although of course the journalists are neither sure what the breach nor what the protocol is; she's caught a royal tram for a couple of blocks, making me wonder if she used a royal Metcard or a royal Myki*; and she's attended CHOGM, whatever and wherever that is.

By an odd coincidence, just as the Queen has been pootling all over Australia in the past week, so have our cats, Harriet and Bea, been pootling all over our backyard, jumping over fences, popping their head in the door to make sure it's still open (and that it's still letting in the cold air) and trotting off to jump over other fences, and generally being present in the moment in that quietly satisfied way they seem to have. Do you see where I'm going here? It seems to me that the position of the Queen and my two cats could very easily be reversed, and such a solution, once it has suggested itself to us, cannot easily be denied, as it would provide a good deal of variety and excitement for all concerned.

To that end, I have drawn up this revised itinerary for the Royal Persons and also for the Queen... I mean my cats.

- Toddling up and down and round the backyard, occasionally crouching down in a corner and opening the royal mouth to see if any pigeons will accidentally fly in.
- getting the royal bangers and mash from the royal bowl on the floor.
- more generally backyard exercises, popping in and out of the house, maybe climbing onto the roof once or twice via the water tank.
- climbing all over my keyboard while I am typing, and creating the neologism 'ZASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSss!' by accidentally tripping over some of the keys.
- rest of the day - sitting in a box and quietly meditating upon future royal duties.

- Receiving the general applause and acclaim of crowds.
- Catching the Feline Tram up St Kilda Road, chasing one another up and down the tram and hiding behind the seats until it's time to get off.
- Opening the new Royal Children's Hospital, mostly by chasing the ribbon around the room for 20 frenzied minutes and then curling up on one of the new chairs and sleeping.
- Catching the plane to CHOGM, sniffing under the seats of all the participants and playing with everyone's shoelaces.

Of course there will be a great deal there to get used to but in time I'm sure the cats will come to understand their new duties and perform them with alacrity. In the end this being a royal thing seems to boil down to posing for appropriate photo opportunities, and I know our cats do that VERY well. So it shouldn't be too hard for them. What do you think?

The Queen. She may rule over entire nations, but is she up to the rigorous standards of box sitting and biscuit eating that our cats have set?

UPDATE! - Bea is in my lap - again. Not only is this not on the itinerary, but I can't very well do anything on my own itinerary either. Bung goes that plan.

Then again I suppose if the Queen were sitting in my lap in the way Bea is that would be a rather sizable breach of protocol. (I'd better check with an authority on that one, though, just to make sure.)

*That's not the only thing I wondered about the royal tram. Other questions that arose before my mind when told about this mode of conveyance: what if they accidentally caught the wrong tram and ended up in Box Hill? Did the ticket inspectors get on? Were there the customary Melbourne Drunks On The Tram, and did they stick to protocol by offering the royal persons a swig from whatever it was they were carrying with them, etc etc etc.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Flabulous fashion

Just read in the paper last night that they’re having a strict dress code at the Melbourne Cup this year, and anyone wearing short skirts, jump suits, or other designer clothes that infringe the Cup dress code won’t be allowed in.

It’s all right though! So long as you wear a plastic feather in your hair, have stratospherically-high heels, have a bottle of champagne superglued to your right hand, and a polyester tie flecked with polymesmeric body fluids, you’ll fit right in. (Designer polymesmeric vomit available on request).

And remember everyone! The Melbourne Cup is the fashion event of the year – so start working on your graceful inebriated lurching on and off (and around and into and on top of) public transport now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A case of hit and rennet

The Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011 has found that cheese is the most stolen food item in the world, based on a survey of 1,187 retailers in 43 countries. - Caz

Who filched the fetta
Creamed the cream cheese from the shelf,
Who's on the lam with Edam,
Added parma to their pelf?

Who wangled all the Singles,
Put their finger in the Swiss,
Took a motza Mozzarella
Ere we knew what was amiss?

Who touched the Dutch,
Took the camemberts and bries,
Lock, stock and bocconcini
Without so much as please?

There's a lack amongst the lactose
Now the Gorgonzola's gone,
Some rotter took Ricotta
And the Philly's all forlorn -

Who took the cheese?
What could have caused this crime?
Can we put it down to culture,
Or was it just - enzyme?

UPDATE! - How good are the photos on the Global Retail Theft Barometer page, by the way? Well-groomed ladies, the same sort you'd normally see advertising the virtues of some product in a shopping catalogue, looking furtive and slipping stolen items into their bags.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Solemn Sunday soliloquy

If someone were to ask me today, 'Tim, what's on your mind?' I would unhesitatingly reply, 'buttons'. Do you know how many buttons there are in the world today? Lots. There is a plethora of buttons, a preponderance of knobs, a multiplicity of widgets and bits and switches and keys and what-nots which you can press in order to send countless electronic signals flying all over the place at light speed, telling this to open, that to close, the other thing to light up, rotate, turn, twist, spin, or do something else altogether.

Is there at some point a limit that we are going to reach, a set quota of buttons beyond which the human race cannot go, a moment of 'peak button' after which we will run out of new buttons to create? You'd think so, wouldn't you, but then again, no. For even as we speak, I've no doubt new buttons for new purposes are being created, buttons created in response to the ever-growing need for buttons, pleasing round metallic things to be pressed by fingers which long to press pleasing round metallic things. They've even started putting virtual buttons on computers, virtual buttons which you have to press other buttons on your keyboard in order to get to, before moving a symbolic finger over the top of them, in order to have the pleasure of pressing the real button which in turn operates the symbolic finger which causes the virtual button to be pressed, virtually. If you ever explained this to someone from 50 years ago, they would think you were mad; they would wonder why anyone should do such a thing. But we do this sort of thing these days with alarming regularity.

Buttons! What is the point of them? Things have got to the point these days where you will press a button even if you don't expect it to do anything; sometimes you will just press a button for fun: sometimes you will do it and not even know why you are doing it. I was on the train the other day and a wriggling young lad of no more than two years old gave the big, friendly red button on the carriage a hearty press; in due course, a kindly old gentleman rang through to find out what perfidy was being perpetrated and I had to explain to him what had happened. And yet I do not blame the child; while I am standing at a street corner I will press the traffic light button repeatedly in order to make it go green faster. At a train station I can barely refrain from pressing the green button in order to hear a friendly voice inform me just when, exactly, the train is coming - indeed, I notice a good deal of my fellow passengers press that button anyway, even though the train timetable is right next to them, even if they have just been looking at it. And, as anyone who reads any books or looks at any television knows, big red buttons - especially big red buttons which have signs next to them saying DO NOT PRESS THIS BIG RED BUTTON - are there to be pressed.

There is something Freudian about all of this; buttons were invented for a reason, sure, but this has to be different from the reason for which, er, we invented buttons. What are these shiny steel protuberances, these painted pustules, these plump proliferating steel implements really, but symbols; what on earth could that bright, shiny red button be to the extended finger of the child, reaching closer, ever closer, but a voluptuous object of sensual longing, beckoning to the finger to press it, just press it, to keep on pressing it, until...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you buttons.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Lalor

Beatrice the cat is in my lap. Can't go anywhere. Can't do anything. Help.

I made the mixture for some Chelsea Buns about two hours ago and it should be just about ready to roll out, add sultanas, and put in the oven right about now. But it's four metres away and the cat is in my lap.

About two minutes ago I felt a bit itchy but I couldn't scratch the bit that was itchy. The cat is in my lap.

If a door to door chocolate cake came and offered me a bite, I'd really like to take it up on that opportunity. But I won't and I can't. The door is two metres behind me. And the cat is in my lap.

I am starting to really need to go to the toilet. But the cat is in my lap.


UPDATE! - Now the cat is sitting on the Baron's lap and the laptop is sitting on my lap. FREEDOM.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charitable announcement

My brother Lachlan will be cycling from Echuca to Mildura on November 5/6 next month and is looking for sponsors. It's part of a cash-raising effort for the Anglicare program Peaceful Warriors, which he also volunteers for, a group that provides role models for boys from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds. I'm not sure what exactly the costs are going to but the program has a few paid workers, and have to fund regular activities and ongoing running costs. They've set a high target, of $60,000, but they've already raised over $5000 in donations.

For a while there I was trying to get them to rustle up donations with the catchy title, 'PAY UP OR THE LITTLE BUMS GET IT!' For some reason no-one seemed to be interested in that idea. Oh well.

You can support by going here and making a donation. If you like, maybe liven up proceedings by calling yourself Voldemort, or Gaknor, Stealer of Souls while making a donation. That should cause a few head scratchings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dihydrogen monoxide, on the rocks

I have a secret, and of course I can't tell you this secret because then it won't be one, apart from the fact that my secret is I secretly admire smokers. It could be the cool sophistication, the suave manner they have while knowingly doing something that all the right people see as something that is really rather wrong. If it annoys Nicola Roxon, it can't be all that bad. It could also be the fact that they have cigarette breaks during work. How good is that? I just get a lunch break, but they get a break every half hour or so.

I'd take up smoking myself, but I might get in trouble, so I won't. No, it seems I will have to admire smokers from afar - just as one admires extremely glamorous movie stars committing reprehensible acts of gratuitous violence to one another on the big screen, or rather eloquent professors of linguistics committing a stream of offensive expletives live to air on the radio, or particularly naughty children making melodious farting sounds in front of the teacher, or other examples of people doing really rather wrong things in front of exactly the right people.

But why should smokers have all the fun as well as the lung disease? I want my cigarette breaks as well. So from now on at work I might start taking regular 'oxygen breaks' - right while I'm in the middle of doing some extremely important and vital task that can't just be dropped, of course, just to add to the piquancy of the occasion. I'll go outside, and stride up and down on the footpath with my hands behind my back, surveying the scene with a contemplative gaze, and if any manager or head or boss (there's a lot of them where I work, I can never quite work out which is who or who is what) asks just what the hell I'm doing, I'll tell them.

And smoking jackets: what ever happened to them? No matter; from now on I think I'll adopt a billowing, velveteen jacket for my oxygen breaks. A plush oxygen jacket is just the thing needed to lend an air of louche sophistication to an activity that might otherwise be seen as, say, Tim not working. It would make the whole thing that much more eventful, adding just a touch of moment to the - well, the moment. And then there are smoking rooms and smoking cars and smoking parties... the list goes on and on. I suppose we have the equivalent of a lot of those already, and a lot of these simple pleasures have been taken from smokers by the government, so maybe I don't need all of those things.

Then again, if I keep up with this oxygen kick, where will it lead me? It mightn't be long before I sashay into bars and rasp out at the barman, 'Dihydrogen monoxide, mate - on the rocks'. Or buying magazines in greasy out-of-town petrol stations and ogling lovely pictures of gardens taken by friendly old grannies with names like Mavis or Doris (the grannies have the names, I mean, not the gardens). And - dare I mention the word - 'weed'? Yes, I'll probably start pulling up the weeds in my back garden in a short while.

After I take up oxygen, my life could quickly become an out of control spiral into endless hedonistic and decadent pleasures. Who knows? I can't wait to see.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Proposed additional working groups and working additional proposals

I noticed that the Occupy Sydney team have put together a modest list of 11 proposed working groups and eight different committees. Just what the exact difference between working groups and committees is is unclear to me, but this one is my particular favourite:
Social Networking working group
Hopefully, the Social Networking working group will begin working at Networking straight away, so they can get the Social Networking working for all other networking working groups. It would indeed be a pity if networking between all the networking working groups was not working due to the fact that the networking of the Networking working group was also not working (possibly due to them not working). It would indeed be a real bummer.

Aside from the 11 proposed working groups and the eight different committees, I see that, quite delightfully, they also have six additional proposed working groups (propositionally proposed working groups?) I have no idea what the difference is between a proposed working group and these propositionally proposed working groups, either, but there you go.

Anyway, what's your favourite working group? I'm quite fond of the Comfort Committee, but maybe you have a different one. LET ME KNOW ON THIS VITAL MATTER IN COMMENTS.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to pose for a philosopher

Wear your clothes paradoxically and give them something to think about.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Oh my goodness! I just realised that two days ago it was 11:11 11/10/11!* Time to write a poem in commemoration of it.

Let's fondly remember the moment that was a few moments before the one that we're currently in,
Let's gladly look back to our former backlooking to time before time and sit back with a satisfied grin,
Yes those times were the days and those days were the times and I thought at the time that I'm glad to be living within it,
Though now I look back upon all those days I find that I'm glad that they didn't last over a... minute.

Still that was the time to be young or at least a bit younger than those who were probably older than me -
A time so much better or at least a bit later than the previous times like, say, Sunday at quarter to three.

- In Memory, 11:11 11/10/11

*Not strictly true. I realised two days ago that two days ago it was such a time. Though it wasn't two days ago then. Er... carry on then.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An explanation of some trends in modern poetry

Beat - an urban poet of the US in the '60s and '70s.

Minim - a disappointed beat poet in the '80s.

Crotchet - what happens to a beat poet in the '90s when they become old and cranky.

Semi-quaver - An imitation beat poet of 2000-2010 who subsists mainly on a diet of lettuce leafs, world music, and tears.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hairy incidents

This morning I was munching down my coffee and chewing on my toast - no, wait, I was drinking down my toast and sipping on my coffee - no, I was doing both of the above and all three of the latter... ANYWAY: I was sitting with my coffee and toast on the couch clicking away on the internet. The toast, I should mention, had marmalade on it.

As I munched and sipped and clicked, I started noticing something out of the left-hand corner of my left eye. I moved my eye this way, and it disappeared. I moved my eye the other way, it seemed to come back. It was rather bright, and I concluded maybe a bit of marmalade had slipped into my moustache.

Now although I love Roald Dahl's books I have no particular wish to be like Mr Twit, who would catch food in his beard and days, weeks, and sometimes months later pluck it out again and munch thoughtfully upon it to see if it had got any tastier. So as you can imagine I immediately reached up to try to pluck out this bit of marmalade. Nothing doing; it didn't seem to be in my moustache at all. It was, in fact, somewhere else in my field of vision entirely. I thought maybe it might be a bit of marmalade on the plate and continued clicking and sipping and munching.

Trouble is, it wasn't on the plate, and it wouldn't go out of my field of vision. I moved my head this way and that and contorted my eye upwards and downwards in an attempt to get a better view of it. At the same time I started to worry at my beard with both of my hands (I suppose I looked a little strange) insistently. Finally, I produced the object in question: a small fluoro green one-third of a price tag off the back of a book: it had been dangling for - who knows how long, really? - off an obscure quadrant of my beard. I have no idea how that got there.


Lalor, I suppose, must previously have been populated by fairies, for the washing line hanging out the back of our house from the north-facing wall is over a head-length lower than me. Every time I go to hang out the washing, I have to poke my head up through the middle of the line, which neatly bisects my head from my body - I feel rather like I'm sticking my head into a horizontal guillotine. Considering a washing line should really be a comfortable distance above your head in order to allow you to lift and lower your arms without too much effort, and in order to minimise the risk of pegs and clothes getting in your face, I can only conclude that the quaint sylvan race who previously inhabited this suburb must have been very titchy indeed.

Well just earlier today I was hanging out the washing, which basically means I was sticking my head in and out of this horizontal guillotine repeatedly. I did most of the shirts and the pants, and then had got to the socks and underpants. As I was hanging these out, I heard a neat snip from behind, and as I lowered my head and went back to the basket, I felt a small but insistent tugging at the nape of my neck.

I grasped around there for a bit with my hands and found that a plastic clothes peg had neatly detached itself from the washing line (all by itself) and was now hanging happily from the hairs at the nape of my neck.

It was yet another hairy incident.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


"There is no frigate like a book."
That's Dickinson -- ya dig it?
Although some books -- I must admit --
Just make me shout -- 'ah -- frig it.'

UPDATE! - Now with extra dash, a la Dickinson.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Of tweed and tears

I thought I'd have a go at creating romance novel covers for well-known works of literature. And also some... less well known.

Jane Eyre

Pride and Prejudice

Badger's Dozen

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


The best chunder I ever saw was a bright pink one, splattered neatly onto one of the steps of the Flinders Street railway station, underneath the clocks. Of course I have no way of knowing if that was an actual chunder, and not just a Jackson Pollock inspired abstract expression of bodily fluids, tinctured with the best paint colourings and raspberry cordial available, but then that's what makes living in Melbourne so cool and edgy and sophisticated, isn't it?

My mind drifted back to that when I saw this article in the Herald Sun this morning:
CITY streets are on the nose: tests reveal many of them smell as bad as a farmyard.

The shocking findings have prompted a disgusted Melborune[sic] Lord Mayor Robert Doyle to demand urinating revellers clean up their act.

International-standard tests conducted exclusively for the Herald Sun Public Defender have found urine, garbage and even the smell of sewage is turning streets and laneways rancid.

The results come barely a month after Melbourne was named the world's most liveable city.
They were talking about this on radio this morning, too, and someone suggested that they use CCTV to put a 'name and shame' file of offenders on the web.

CCTV, you say?

More like Wee Wee TV.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all night.

UPDATE! - If such a CCTV policy were put into place in NZ, of course, it would be Kiwiweeweetv, or possibly Iwiweeweetv.

I know what I mean but do I understand?

I clicked on the YouTube to show me the invisibility cloak, but I couldn't see it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Adjective Anderson

The happy news that Angry Anderson is joining the National Party left me wondering earlier today about the many possible speech openers he could use involving his name. It is not often that you find such a useful political adjective, ready to go, in a politician's first name.

Hello, I'm angry, and my name is also Angry!

Hello, I'm Angry! Twice!

It's good to be with you, I'm Angry, and I'm happy today to announce...

I'm Angry, and I'm absolutely andersoned to be with you...

Actually, now that I think about it I have no idea who Angry Anderson is. My response when told about him, as is my response when told about other celebrities who absolutely everyone and anyone knows, is: 'who'? But I'll tell you this: I may have no idea who he is, but I know what he is:


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Word things

Today I am going to read this at the Dan in a pathetically cryptic attempt to annoy the hordes of Collingwood supporters who will be too drunk and shouty to hear a syllabub of it anyway. I call it a word poem, in that it is like a sound poem, a found poem, an alphabet poem, or a nice poem, except that it is made out of words.


Cankers rankle mouldy manky
Ruthless toothless old and cranky
Gunk and skanky lice and flies -
Cats eat Pies.

McGuire liar pants on fire
Groin conjoin the highest buyer
Hanky panky chunky thighs -
Also, Cats eat Pies.

Tinkle winkle little pinky
Rabies babies farting stinky
Dingle mingle single sighs
Plus, Cats eat Pies.

Colostrum nostrum boozy bash
Casino funny money cash
Soiling sweated shifty eyes
Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats eat Pies.

UPDATE! - Enough said!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Similar but different

Desiccated - what happened to the apple core I left on the bookshelf for several months.

Defecated - what the apple core looked like.

Dedicated - what some authors do with their books for friends.

Defeated - hopefully what will happen to Collingwood on Saturday, if the Cats get everything together.

AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO: "Geelong defecated Collingwood at the AFL Grand Final..."

There comes a point

There comes a point, every night, when you're lying on the couch perhaps reading a book or watching the telly or surfing the internet, when you realise that you're tired and might quite like to go to bed.

There comes a point, every night, when you realise that going to bed will involve -
Getting up,
Switching the lights off,
Making the bed,
Moving the cat off your part of the bed,
Brushing your teeth,
Going into the kitchen, switching the lights on again, and getting yourself some water,
Switching the lights off again,
Putting the water on the shelf next to the bed,
Moving the cat off your part of the bed again,
Going into the bathroom, filling up some water for the cats,
Going into the lounge room, switching the lights on again, again, and fetching your phone and your book,
Switching the lights off again, again,
Moving the cat off your part of the bed again, again,
Actually going to bed.

There comes a point, every night, when you realise you are far too tired to go to bed, and so instead you decide to stay up surfing the internet, perhaps for hours.

There also comes a point, later in the night, when you have actually gone to bed that you realise the whole process of going to bed would make an interesting blog post, but for some reason you are too tired to immediately get up, pull your clothes on, go into the other room, turn the lights on again, again, again, plug the computer back in, log on....

Thursday, September 29, 2011


A chance mention earlier today lead me to this video, which apparently everyone knows about. Then again, I am not everyone. You can refresh your own memory if you like - that's all right, take your time.

It features a reprehensible pair of snivelling babes, the younger who appears to delight in masticating the finger of the elder, who in turn attempts to elicit our attention by playing for sympathy. Just why, however, he allowed the offended digit to proceed into the slavering jaws of his sibling is not explained.

Naturally, when I saw this video earlier today I had no memory of it. There is nothing quite like the internet to make you feel as if you had extremely early onset dementia for failing to remember any number of very inconsequential videos about rather unimportant characters in particularly non-exciting situations. Whether they be panda bears with a cold, kittens cuddling one another, or people who you do not know dancing to music you do not know at a wedding you don't particularly care about, YouTube has thrown up an endless parade of uneventful events which, at various points, everyone (though everyone is not me, and probably not you either) has become enthused about.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Poetry news

Hello, and welcome to another episode of poetry news.

The anti-nude dudes stewed as they viewed the nudists on Castro as they chewed on their food. "These nudists are rude, crude, and really quite lewd", was the firm attitude of the anti-nude dudes.

But the nudists on Castro said the anti-nude dudes were actually prudes. "You can't be a pseudo-nude!" insisted one dude (who was nude).

The anti-nude dudes could not preclude the option of legal action. "It could be pursued", mused an anti-nude dude as drank his brewed drink and he munched on his food.

Which was stewed.

That concludes another episode of poetry news.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Music-playing devices - for and against

When it comes to playing music, basically you have a choice between many fine and highly-sophisticated music-playing devices, and dancing naked around your bedroom making hooting noises. So which will it be then?

Record Player - FOR: It's very retro. AGAINST: So retro that it's hard to buy a good record-player nowadays. Some records can get scratched.

CD Player - FOR: Good, clean sound. AGAINST: Except when one of the CDs gets scratched, and 'one of the CDs' increasingly seems to mean 'all of the CDs'.

iPod - FOR: Dunno, but everyone seems to like it. AGAINST: Though it's good for listening quietly to something in the train, who wants to sit at home with those things stuck in your ears?

Piano player - FOR: Doesn't have any problem with scratches. AGAINST: Piano can go out of tune though. And the piano player will occasionally need to be fed. And the piano player will occasionally stop mid-tune and scratch their bum. And they will have to spend an interminable amount of time practicing scales and what-not if they're to be any good.

Symphony orchestra - FOR: Nice, full sound. AGAINST: They may not all fit in your bedroom cupboard when you want to put them away.

Ancient Grecian bagpipe player - FOR:... it's very retro. AGAINST: According to this, er, respected source it will involve them, er, blowing into some inflatable dog's bollocks, um...

In conclusion, start dancing naked around your bedroom and making hooting noises now. It's the only ethical thing to do.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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