Monday, January 31, 2011

Three reviews

Bed of Roses
The interesting thing about this new ABC television show is you can subtract all the specific details from the description, such as names, plot details, scenery, costumes, and everything else, and still you end up with a reasonable description of the show. I only came in watching this show halfway, but this description still shapes up reasonably well:

1) Dramatic scene, emotional conflict.
2) Startling emotional resolution
3) Whacky scene, involving lovable characters
4) Heartfelt guitar music
5) More emotional conflict.
6) More whackiness.
7) Plot driving towards resolution.
8) Emotional revelation involving Characters Talking About Their Problems And Learning A Little About One Another And Most Especially Themselves.
9) Whackily whacky joke underscoring the main plot point that drives plot towards resolution.
10) Emotional resolution + whacky scene involving lovable characters
11) Emotional resolution + lovable characters + heartfelt guitar music
12) Concluding whacky joke further underscoring the resolution of plot that has just been resolved in the previous scene!
13) Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

The Proprietor of Inappropriate Lemonade Stands
I got this zine at Sticky. It's hilarious, and simple: so simple that I find if I attempt a description at all, I ruin the joke. So my review for this is pretty much like the review for Bed of Roses, except even more general and non-specific in nature.

1) I couldn't read some of the words on page 2, but still got the joke, so that was all right.
2) There is a funny joke peripheral to the main joke on page 12
3) Not sure I get the context on page 18
4) Page 19 sort of passed me by as well, but it was still nice
5) There might have been a line or two out of place as well, I'm not sure, but on the whole, what a great zine.

Cool baths on hot days
I am into cool baths on hot days. I am so into cool baths on hot days that I got into one yesterday. I am not so into them as to still being in the cool bath that I got into on the previous hot day, being yesterday, and indeed if I were to get into that cool bath now, it would be like getting into a bloody freezing bath on a soon-to-be hot day, which would not be quite the same thing, but my general point still holds. Cool baths on hot days, like hot baths on cool days, or green leaves on red strawberries, go pretty well with one another, I find. In a world full of inappropriate things, like Australian heatwaves, they are entirely appropriate. You should get into cool baths on hot days too.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

When the internet goes bung, call the washing machine man

Sometimes when I turn the tap on and someone else is on the phone in the other room, I think, 'oh, hang on. Will this interrupt the supply to the telephone?', for some reason acting on the supposition that telephones run on water.

Then again, the other day, when the washing machine stuffed up, I called the repair man. And then, when I was speaking to him, the phone stuffed up too. Perhaps I'm on to something after all...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Congratulations! It's a David Koch!

Apparently hospitals have been banning fathers from filming the birth of their child. And apparently David Koch from Sunrise says 'you just shouldn't have cameras down there'. This just shows why you should never start a sentence with 'apparently David Koch from Sunrise says...'

But it does seem to me to be a rather strange activity for a father to get involved in, going around filming the birth of his children. Because after he's made sure he's got the zoom right, and the focus just so, and the position of the camera correct, and is reasonable certain that he's got it stable, and has moved to get out of the way of this doctor, and has adjusted the knobs so that he still gets a reasonable picture because of the lights, and has moved to get out of the way of that doctor, and has pressed this and twirled that and fiddled with whathaveyou, and ducked around the nurse, and adjusted still more things, what's he going to do? More ducking and weaving and adjusting and twirling and twiddling, presumably - so that by the time his child is born he will have a definite, specific and imperishable memory of the event. He'll be able to say to his child, years after, 'yes, I was there when you were born - it was the most magical moment of my life!' And I suppose he was there - in a sense. He can pretty much skip the bit where he tells his child about it, though - he'll probably have to, and anyway, it will be much easier to simply direct them to youtube, or a DVD, or something like that.

When I consider the case of Dads filming their partners in labour, I conceive a high and wistful longing for the old days when they would sit on a comfortable chair in a waiting room chewing their fingers and performing unconscious origami on their hats. They seem to me to be just as present as a dad with a camera on their shoulders: they've certainly entered into the spirit of the occasion more. Maybe it's just me, but I feel that filming dramatic events like births or deaths or the rather eventful in-betweens doesn't really add anything to the savour of life: who wants details? It's always the hardest to remember the high points and low points in our life in detail. Electricity bills, bank loans, and tax forms are full of details, but you wouldn't want to get excited about them. In fact, the only exciting events we can talk about in lots of detail are usually ones that we were never at in the first place. I can remember quite a few details about the Second World War, for instance: how about you?

Contra fathers who film their children being born, and contra the age we live in in general, and contra Parishiltonpamelaandersonsharonosbourneshanewarne and the rest of the living-perpetually-on-camera generation, life is not a performance, birth is not merely a drama for the camera, love is not a theatrical show for the internet. The Trojans did not wait for nine years and then get killed by the Greeks just so Homer could finish his damn poem, and Christ did not learn his lines from a crappy script written by Mel Gibson 2000 years later. Events do not wait around to get recorded before eventuating, and life, in spite of appearances, is not about appearances.

Though maybe, in the mind of a certain minor Australian celebrity of the early 21st century, some 50 years ago, a new mother was congratulated with the words, 'Congratulations, Mr Koch! You've just given birth to a bespectacled, balding, slightly tubby television personality with an expertise in accounting who will present a top-rating Channel Seven current affairs and commentary program! You must be so proud!' You just never know.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The travails of the furry fraternity

It's hard being a cat. When the humans are in and you are in you just want to be let out. When the humans go out and keep you in you just want to go out. When the humans let you out and then go out, you just want to be let in. And when the humans stay in and you are out, they spend all the time getting you back in again. I mean, really, not only do the humans change their mind all the time, but they keep on putting you in just the place you don't want to end up.

All in all, when you consider things, it makes you wish you weren't a cat. Oh, wait - you aren't.

Hadn't you better stop eating that mouse then?

Tiddleywinks death match

If you took the Top Ten composers of all time, and matched them against the Top Ten chess players of all time, who would be the better team in a death match of Tiddleywinks? An important question, but I don't think you'll see The Guardian have a go at answering that any time soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another existential insect

Whatsetty grub - an insect that raises profoundly deep and meaningful questions about space, time, the universe, God, death, the beginning of everything, the end of everything else, and just what on earth this little grub is, exactly, and how on earth it got into your garden.

(Add it to the list.)

The sayings of snails

It's so crowded here, it's like the lettuce leaf on a Friday!

What are you, a midge or a mollusc?

As smooth as my spawn's egg-sac!

It's either mud or it's dud.

A slime in grime saves time.

The sewer is where the heart is.

The early bird catches the worm - and YOU!

Beware of cats, hens, and French mens.

A slurp in a burp saves urp.

His, hers, or hermaphrodites?

Is that a pseudo-pseudopodae?

All's well in the shell.

Better ooze than osmose!

You've got to eat hard to stay behind.

A slug in snail's clothing.

A gloop in a glop or a glop in a gloop?

If you were any faster, you'd be a turtle!

Last one in's a pickled sea cucumber!

Bob's your uncle, and your auntie.

I am what the cat dragged in.

When the shoe falls, danger calls!

At the end of every rainbow lies a cabbage.

Turning under a new leaf.

The mildew's always mouldier on the other side.

You're the man-woman of my dreams!

It's not easy to be oozy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

McCracken Wakes!

McCracken is a wild, wiry haired, crazy bearded poet who can be found almost everyday on Brunswick Street offering to declaim his poems to passers-by. Apparently he hands out ads for the Rose Street markets or something like that. When he does get an opportunity to read a poem to someone, he shouts at them instead. It's just his way of reading. Anyway, after you've been going to poetry readings for a while, like I have, you'll probably hear about how McCracken was one of the first poetry reading MCs from someone or other (maybe even from McCracken himself). You can see footage of him here - don't mistake him for the other bearded weirdo who happens to go by my name - on one of the latest programs of Red Lobster.

He gave some rather enjoyable readings at the Dan last week. Sometime between now and then I decided to write this (with obvious help from Tennyson, and after another suggestion by poet JM). I don't know... I kind of think it captures something about him....

Below the thunders of the city street,
In some abysmal crevice of the bar,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
McCracken sleepeth: far off, sounds of car
Make music to his snores: around him swell
Shadows of poets, painters, drongos, drunks,
Old musos, madmen, socialists and punks,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell.
Some soothe his sleep with rhyming lullabies
Upon the stage, while some rehearse free verse:
There hath he lain for ages and will lie,
Battening upon Doritos in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep,
And rising, men and angels both shall curse:

MCCRACKEN WAKES! MORE BEER! shall be his cry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

He's a Barbie man in a Barbie world

Ken, Ken, confused amongst men,
Though made without parts he still has a heart
As a he he's not quite more hermaphrodite,
Sometimes a man and sometimes a tran,
Dressed in more dresses than you ever could guess,
Is being made of plastic so fantastic at all?
More doll than role model, still, that's all right
An idol? An icon? Androgynite.

Following his successes

Following his successes as a Golden Globe host, Ricky Gervais plans to move on to bigger and better things, and will next year host the inaugural Quambatook film festival.

Reports are he plans to 'mercilessly satirise' the vanities and pretensions of the people who make up the Quambatook film industry, with jokes focusing on material such as the time one guy came home from work a little drunk, and the habit a guy (the same guy, actually) has of picking his ear in public.

Pieces and bits

The small boy deep inside of me is positively fascinated by all the goings on, diggings up, driving round about, and excavations happening outside the nearby train station. On going there this morning, I noticed a whole load of dirt from who-knows-where lying around on what had previously been the carpark, a steam shovel acting like the mechanical equivalent of a broom and making high-pitched scraping noises on the concrete while it scraped this dust up, and another truck just driving up and down with a gigantic yellow... thing on it, which yellow thing would later doubtless be used for certain very definite and mysterious purposes. God knows what they're doing, but it looks to me very much like they're digging holes in one part of the ground, and dumping the dirt on other parts. I love it. Maybe if the council paid them enough money they'd stay there and do it forever.


Now that the Christmas/New Year holidays have wound up, and I have got back to work, I find that I am able to start writing and thinking creatively again. It's the same every year. There is nothing so stimulating and inspiring, I find, as having a paid job to do which you can be distracted from. Don't tell anybody I work with, though - especially if any of you readers out there actually are people I work with.


Soothing sounds of the morning:



... pad-pad-pad-pad-pad-pad-jingle-pad-pad-pad-jingle-pad-pad-pad-pad...

and Harriet the cat, having deposited another purloined apple upon the floor by the bed, softly toddles out the door again in search of further wholesome activities.


Some spoonerist doggerel I wrote on the weekend...

Gullard is dill
Pudd is a roo
John Key is a Hunt
And Tarack is boo.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A poem about me

(Dedicated humbly to me)

I was talking behind my back
To the stranger who stood in the glass
Which is almost but not quite as hard as
Kicking yourself in the arse.

'You're not half of the man that I am,'
I said, 'Though you go by my name.'
He nodded and grinned ruefully
And said, 'But you're just the same.'

I stood watching him in the mirror
As I talked to him over my back
A perilous, complex manoeuvre,
But easy once you have the knack.

'You're not quite as tall as your height,'
He said, 'And I'm smarter than you.'
With both eyes I looked in his left one,
And simply said, 'me too.'

I finished with mutual compliments,
He smiled and said, 'touche'.
Having each fought ourselves to a draw,
We agreed we'd both won on the day.

I was talking behind my back
To the stranger I happen to be -
What a beautiful bastard he is,
That frustrating lovely me.

Friday, January 14, 2011


"Physicists! Why do they get to have all the fun? With their whizz-bang particle accelerators that spend all their time whizzing particles around and banging them into others? Why can't philosophers have a bit of fun? Why doesn't someone ever think of the philosophers, hmm?

I know - why can't philosophers have a... a... a... concept accelerator, which deploys all the tools of modern technology and whizz-bang stuff to, you know, whizz concepts and thoughts and notions and ideas and whims and smoosh them all into one another to form a gigantic ball of conceptual smooshiness, whereupon they would EXPLODE and, you know, do whatever ideas do then.

You might argue that this is exactly what the grey mushy matter in our heads known as a 'brain' does, but no! I want a concept accelerator that is as big as a particle accelerator! I want a titanic grey mushy organic thing that spans continents, and accelerates the largest thoughts in the world around at the speed of light! THAT would be cool. The physicists wouldn't look so smug then."

This is what I said to the roomful of philosophers standing around at the party with all their thoughts and their latest developments in epistomological conceptualisms and their -ishs and their -itions and their -isms and whatever. Whereupon the roomful of philosophers stared blankly at me for a few awkward seconds before going back to talking about what they were talking about before, and I turned my attention to the plateful of uneaten chips.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inverted band names

Woollen Dirigible

The Static Mineral Objects

The Non-Gender-Specific Automatics

The Arachnids

The Patriarchs of Non-Creativity


Wooden Floozy

The Intact Vegetables

Gray Frederick

The Concrete Aboveground


The Land Ladies

Resurrecting Pollyanna

Lukewarm Spanner

The Me

(Thank you, The Celibate Rifles)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Three sort-of reviews

I've been meaning to do a review of some friends' works on this blog for a while, but it's hard to separate their works from their personality. So I ended up doing a couple of biographical-reviews. Here they are anyway...

Bruce Gillespie
Bruce seems to know almost everyone, have read almost everything written by almost everyone, and self-publishes several zines with contributions written by almost all of these people. BRG is more personal, Steam Engine Time and SF Commentary are pure, unadultered SF fanzine. (There may be more - I still have no idea in what order they come out, if any, and if Bruce told me I'd probably forget anyway).

Bruce's opinions and interests are vocal, passionate, many and varied, and invariably entertaining. As might be expected, he is full of information and stories about the Melbourne SF community in the early days, and how fanzines used to be produced. (Prior to the proliferation of printing and photocopying software, zines were produced on tools such as the mimeograph machine.) I remember recently hearing an anecdote about a book falling into Bruce's hands from amongst his copious bookshelves, and him reading the title and saying in a wondering voice, "I haven't read this!" I can well believe it. You can find copies of his fanzines at Highly recommended.

Bill Wright
Every second month, Bill co-publishes, with Dick Jenssen (Dittmar), Interstellar Ramjet Scoop. It is a joy to behold, sporting a fantastic design on the cover by Dittmar, accompanied by notes in the zine about the cover (which may mention anything from string theory to dinosaurs to alternative dimensions in time and space - my favourite Dittmar cover is one from last year showing a dinosaur coughing up a furball, or the dinosaurian equivalent of a furball). Topics covered in IRS range from the geeky to the cheeky; in a recent issue Dittmar discussed 'dinosaur computers' - the early 1950s computers which were housed in gigantic warehouses, one of which Dittmar worked on. There is a regular section on clerihews, as well as the usual fannish letters.

At the bottom of every cover of IRS is a small photograph of Bill with lightbeams emerging from around his head, which for whatever reason makes me think of 1950s Scientology artwork. Bill, who I assume grew up reading copies of Astounding Science Fiction and Galaxy from around that time, is undoubtedly aware of this pictoral reference and is wonderful company. His eyes light up when he discusses tax laws or accounting procedures, a subject which will forever be beyond me, but is also not averse to simple punning. IRS reflects these interests, and - like Bruce's zines, can be found archived on that weird and wonderful site,

At some point in the 1970s or '80s - I've no idea when exactly - Komninos gave up a career in the sciences to take to the road and write and read poetry. Bad for science, maybe, but definitely good for poetry. Ever since he's been leading the life of a poet, with occasional non-poetry related activities on the side, occasionally taking to the road to read his poems. He's probably read in more pubs than most people have ever drunk in. Some of his books include Komninos, and the various Komninos Manifestos, and reading through some of them now I just can't help thinking of the politics of the 1980s and 90s - stuff like

it's great to be mates with a koori
to know a gay man or two.
to have five lesbians for dinner,
and to cook them a vegetable stew.

Komninos is still going strong, you can hear him read his stuff at Melbourne venues like the Dan or the Brunswick Hotel - the gravelly tones of his voice are unforgettable. His voice is so gravelly that when you hear him read his laneway poem

i am the laneway that no-one walks down unless they have good reason
i am the laneway that no-one ever find themselves in by mistake

you instantly believe him. Shoot him an email and get a few of his books, they're worth it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Existential insects

Mights - Mites so small that they may not exist at all. Include sand mights, wigwam mights, beard mights, staple mights, and night mights.

May Bee - A stinging insect that could possibly have been a bee (eg "Ow!" "What? Did you get stung by something?" "May Bee...") A special type of Might.
[See also: Would Bee, Should Bee, To Bee or the Not Too Bee]

Its - Like nits, only they really have no point whatsoever.

Gnots - Like gnats, only gnot.

Flowns - A species of flies that exist always in the past tense. They make a point of buzzing around in your ear just a fraction of a fraction of a second before you actually exist to do anything about it, just to irritate you.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


1) Go to the airport and wave around one of those placards with people's names on it. Because you do not know anybody getting off the plane, simply replace their name with the word 'You'. If you do not like whoever that 'You' happens to be, 'Them'. Look very busy and important.

NOTE: Similar results can be obtained at train station, taxi cab rank, etc, but for full effect, it is best to do it at the airport.

He wrote an elegy

He wrote an elegy that ended up as a eulogy, was mistaken for an allegory, was taken to court as an allegation, and finally gave him an allergy.

Later he gave up elegies and instead took up oology.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

You can't believe anyone these days

I watched a pot and it boiled.

Back to worrying and wailing

Hello! I've been away for a while, but I'm back now and ready to get into a blog stoush, or make a small spelling mistake so other people can make a big thing about it, or grumble as if a relatively unimportant political event is the worst thing in the world, or get sworn at by trolls, or fulminate furiously about something a celebrity said that I don't agree with. Yes, Christmas and New Year celebrations, and the designated season of happiness that goes with them, is officially over, and we can all get back to what we like best - being miserable. Here were the official events of the year, as can be seen on any standardised calendar:

JANUARY - Worrying and wailing

FEBRUARY - Dreariments and dolefulness

MARCH - Sombreness and solemnity

APRIL - Gloominess and grimness

MAY - Horror and hellishness

JUNE - Awkwardness and anxiety

JULY - Nervousness and nagging

AUGUST - Darkness and despair

SEPTEMBER - Terror and torment

OCTOBER - Maudlin melancholy

NOVEMBER - Lugubrious lamentations


Well we can all breathe a big sigh of relief now that's over. On reflection, my proudest moment of the general Christmas celebrations was playing a Scrabble game with several younger rellies in which we all managed to get a swear word on the board. Excellent.

So, how have you all been? Read any depressing newspaper stories lately?

UPDATE! - I know what we can have a fight about! Remember a couple of years ago when Patrick McCauley published an Australia Day poem in The Australian and there was a bit of a stoush on the blogs about it? Well I heard McCauley read it out yesterday in the Edinburgh Gardens - and rather enjoyed it. Horrifying! Go on, start abusing me.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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