Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

But why must I remove my comfortable socks?

Life was never meant to be perfect. But why should it be necessary to remove your warm jumper, your cosy jeans, and your comfortable socks in order to get into the warm, cosy, and comfortable bath? Surely a way could be organised so that one's comfortable socks could stay on and stay comfortable while one is in the bath? Those people who specialise in such areas of study (whatever they are) should get onto it.

I stole all the music lyrics

And you can't have them back:

mmm hmm
shabbady shabbady shabbady
tickle me fickle me
oh yeah.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blurst from the past

A blurst from the past. About 15 years ago, to be precise (precisely ambiguous, that is), when I was still a callow stripling in year 11 in high school.

At the time we were studying Bruce Dawe's poem 'Weapons Training', a piece in which a manic military nutter with an authoritarian streak harrangues his troops prior to sending them into battle.

The teacher, a rather fiery and passionate Indian chap, was attempting, unsuccessfully, to get his students, one of them being me, to read out the poem in its entirety. A few bored attempts were made at the first lines, quickly broken off with the usual comments of 'this is so stupid, Sir', and other, less appealing, epithets.

So I volunteered myself to read the piece. Disgusted at my fellow students inane readings, and wanting to give the piece a good go myself, I really let loose and threw myself into the psychotic role with demonic intensity, growling, shouting, barking, snarling, and snapping at the students and teacher gathered in front of me. Several foam-flecked minutes later, I was wiping the spittle from my face, the students were snickering en masse, and the teacher was wiping the tears from his eyes.

It's only recently, when I've started performing poetry around the traps, that I've realised how astonishingly prescient that moment was. I suppose I was bound to get into either poetry - either that, or enrol into the manic military nutter academy and work my way up through the ranks until I got to harrangue troops in a psychotic and/or demonic manner. Are the two things so different, really?

Going down thinging

Just learned last night that four pieces I sent in got rejected from Going Down Swinging. That's okay, apparently they had seven thousand submissions - which means that less than 0.1 per cent of authors submitting would ever have got in anyway! (Authors only being allowed to submit four pieces). No wonder editors usually apply a strict editorial policy of nepotism. No wonder I have a zine. It makes things so much simpler.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Things I have learnt: a continuing list

Licking the plate is fun, but can be problematic. Especially if you have a beard.

The cat might be winding its way around your legs because it likes you. It might also be doing that because it hopes to trip you up, causing a fatal and irreversible accident which results in you breaking several bones in your body and/or dying. How do you know which it is? Well -

1) Is it happening at the top of a flight of stairs?
a) Yes.
b) No.

2) Is it happening after you have done something the cat dislikes? (Taking them to the vet, etc)
a) Yes.
b) No.

3) Is your cat a psychopath?
a) Yes.
b) No.

- this quiz will probably not help you.

Music for displeasure

Everyone wants to be happy, and sometimes the best way to be happy is to read, watch, look at, listen to, or experience sad, sobering, horrible, sombre, depressing, and otherwise troublesome art. Unhappy art can make us very happy indeed. Why this should be is probably one of those profound philosophical problems, and I won't even attempt to answer it today. Instead, I'll just talk about some music that has been depressing me lately, and, hopefully, will depress you too. You're welcome.

Music for a while, Alfred Deller
This CD consists of music written by Henry Purcell, long dead, sung by Alfred Deller, who specialised in music written by long dead people. Deller himself died in 1979, which rounded things off nicely. The basic set up of the CD is this - a maudlin Alfred Deller, singing to a lugubrious harpsichord, with a funereal cello creaking away as well. Deller's pace varies from that of a sprightly turtle to a sombre death rattle, with his tone meanwhile swaying from a sorrowful sighing to a more manly melancholic moaning. Deller is never so vulgar as to allow an emotion such as simple cheerfulness into his interpretations; even well-loved lyrics such as
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die...
are treated with the same gloomy seriousness that a puritan might regard marriage. This is excellent old grouch music, perfect for pepping yourself down after the worst day of your life, or just generally maintaining a mood of desolation and grief, or sometimes just because.

Music composed by: a dead person
Lyrics: various dead people
Performed by: people dead, or soon to be dead
Subjects: death, and other stuff.
Genre: a dead one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Beatrice bold

Here's a sestina, a ridiculously difficult sort of poem to both write and make sense in. The only other sestina I've successfully written, quite deliberately, lacked all sense and meaning whatsoever, so the fact that there's even a glimmering of meaning in these lines that follow I consider to be quite worthy of remark. (This is a true story, by the way, though some details have been omitted.)

One time in Melbourne the Baron and me
Had a flat and two cats called Harriet and Bea
And we all lived together in Location C
Until one day we moved to a suburb called G
With a frontyard, a backyard, a bush and a tree
And "Oh!" said the Baron, "we'll be happy and free!"

But Bea said to the Baron, "we are trapped! Set us free!"
And she miaowed and she miaowed at the Baron and me,
"For this isn't my flat and that tree's not my tree
And where have you taken us? How can it be?
We must flee we must flee from this suburb called G
For our home is not here - oh why don't you SEE?"

And she pined and she longed for her old flat in C
And the moment the door opened - BOOM! - she sprang free!
And she ran harum-scarum from the suburb called G
From her sister Harriet, the Baron and me
And we called and we hollered we shouted for Bea,
In frontyard in backyard by bush and by tree.

She was not in our bush she was not under our tree
We searched and we searched but we just couldn't see
We drove to spot A we searched suburb B
And could she o would she now she was free
Flee from her sister, the Baron, and me
And flee back to spot C from her new home in G?

The rain fell like tears on the suburb called G,
We had almost despaired when THE NEIGHBOUR'S FIG TREE
That was next to the home owned by the Baron and me
Started shaking and shivering and what did we see
In the leaves but the face of a cat who'd run free,
A wet and cold renegade - WHY YES! IT'S BEA!

Now our home's a cosy nice place in which to be
The cosiest nicest home in all suburb G
Two cats and two humans all happy and free
With a plum and two pear and an orange tree -
And Bea never more pined for the flat in spot C
But stayed put with Harriet, the Baron and me.

The Baron and me and Harriet and Bea
Would love you to see our new home in G
With 21 trees - and two cats roaming free.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The meaning of cleaning

The night before the morning after, which is to say last night and this morning, I had been chatting with L. on Facebook about the general cleanliness of the house. "Don't panic!" she said. "Is there a path?" It was obviously a rather misguided question: for one thing, brooms are able to make excellent paths. For another, I was going to do all the cleaning up the morning after the night before.

Of course, the cats ably assisted with the clean up by a) depositing several poos in the study, and b) leaving a defunct pigeon in the middle of the loungeroom floor. I dealt with the poos by scraping them up, as they appeared, over the course of several days, wrinkling my nose, and holding the bag out before me as I walked to the bin outside. The pigeon was dealt with, similarly, by me stumbling out of bed bleary-eyed and woozy, exclaiming loudly on seeing it lying on the loungeroom floor, putting it in a bag and taking it to some random location outside and then forgetting all about it. I then retired back to the bed to consider matters more thoroughly, with my eyes shut.

Amidst all this hustle and bustle I do vaguely recall one or two other things about the cleaning up. I filled the sink full of hot water and chucked all the dishes in. (Can't remember what happened to them after that though). Various papers and pens and other things were taken up from arbitrary locations and placed away in other arbitrary locations, or sometimes squirreled away for safe keeping under certain arbitrary objects that I had previously been arbitrarily sleeping in.

Harriet contributed to the proceedings by leaping all over the couch and leering off into space like a maniac.

Oh, and, at some arbitrary point I stopped, locked everything up, and wandered off to the catch the bus to the airport where I would meet the Baron.

After my half-hearted effort at cleaning up, there are one or two conclusions I can draw:

1) The more you clean things up, the more you notice smaller things that also need cleaning up, which lead to even smaller things that you might perhaps clean up if you have the patience to.

2) In order to keep up with the cleaning up, you have to effectively do it all the time. In fact you have to do the cleaning up more than all of the time, which is difficult, and somewhat inconvenient.

Oh, and also I would make this observation: what a lot of dust there is in the world. It makes you wonder what the point of all that dust is, doesn't it? Just floating around the house, slowly forming in great grey drifts and gusts, until eventually every person's home fills up with titanic dust dunes, and becomes like the Sahara. Except more grey. And with more mites. It should be due to happen any day now...

Representative cat on couch, not, however, leering like a maniac. (Photo via the Baron)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ways to make the world a better place

So let me get this straight -

pirates - arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

zombies - urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

cats – purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

cars – whrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

dogs – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

eskimos – brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

philosophers – errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Since the only thing separating all these things seems to a couple of letters, why not omit them entirely? Then they can share the one word between them. Also, it would effectively turn all eskimos into ninjas, which would make the world a much safer place. (Then again zombies would become pirates and pirates zombies, which mightn’t be so safe, but you can’t have everything.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rules for being a cat #334

Found water is better than bowl water. Stolen water is better than found water. Forbidden water is best of all, as a matter of fact it is absolutely compulsory.

Therefore drink from the toilet bowl as soon as you have the opportunity. Good kitty.

Would you like your desk with skim, double-shot, or fish eggs?

This morning, I spilled coffee along my desk at work. You might think this would cause some annoyance to my other colleague who shares that desk with me at night. But then again, the coffee spilled was a latte from a place which had been listed as one of the top 100 cafes in Melbourne. So who knows?

This same colleague recently threw out a Very Useful sheet of mine with handy Maori terms on it that I had been keeping at the same desk. True, this sheet looked old and scrappy, but it was Very Useful nonetheless, and it also had numerous coffee stains upon it. Then again, the coffee stains were probably from instant kitchen coffee, so maybe that's why it got thrown out? Hmmm.

Tomorrow morning, I might go and pour Russian black caviar onto the keyboard as an experiment. We'll see how that turns out.

A small victory

Although I had my pants on for work already, I took them off again, went back to bed, and waited until the heater had warmed up my tracksuit pants. Which I just put on.

It was a small but satisfying victory.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Planking makes you go blind, you know

The parental unit will be coming down to Melbourne at the end of the week. I fully expect them to ask me if I know anything about The Planking. Years ago, when I was at uni, I remember them asking me if I listened to The Silverchair. I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose.

If I ever have kids I'm going to do exactly the same thing to them. I'll read up on all the bands and latest internet fads, and find ways of mispronouncing their names. Possibly while carrying a walking stick and poking my progeny with them. Ooh my, it'll be fun. I think I'll go and poke something with a walking stick now just to get into practice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Puzzling Australian locations






Which Whyalong


Errs Rock





Saturday, May 14, 2011


Has anyone been reading the Australian Spectator? I still pick up a copy occasionally; the one I got yesterday was a mixture of Very Bad, the Rather Good, and the Extremely Strange.

The Very Bad: John Heard's review of the latest Australian Quarterly by David Malouf. The guy writes like he's been reading all of the best Catholic theologians, and taking their worst lines. It's good to hear from John again - he used to write the blog Dreadnought, but I stopped reading it and then apparently he stopped writing it - but he just doesn't seem to write well for the magazine format.

The Rather Good: notes by Peter Coleman* and Mark Latham. Coleman has been writing for years for Quadrant, where I admit I've found his writing a little dry, but always graceful. In his notes for the Spectator his writing is still dry - dryly witty, that is. They also have the interest of coming from a person with years of experience and knowledge amongst the Australian literati and political set. Latham's column, meanwhile, needs no explanation - as Labor leader Latham displayed a complete lack of morals and good taste, which of course are excellent journalistic qualifications. His column is extremely nasty, and extremely funny.

The Extremely Strange: Cory Bernadi's** Diary. (This is the diary column that is written by a different person for each edition of the Spectator - apparently the best person they could find this week is a policy hack from the Senate.) Even stranger - the article on Don Brash, branding him as 'Thatcher's Kiwi heir', inspiring the cover art for this issue, featuring, I kid you not, Thatcher in iron-plated armour and Union Jack swimming costume, lashing a rabid Don Brash onwards. WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR A COVER? I feel a little ill...

Look, a lot of the pleasure I got out of The Spectator when I bought it regularly was because of its gossipy, insider quality - you had the daughter of the son of someone who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1890 telling amusing and racy stories about things happening in the House of Commons bathroom, for instance. The Australian literati, and the Australian political classes, just can't muster up as much excitement, yet, perhaps because of the relative sizes of Australia and Britain. (The UK has a similar population size though it has much less space in which to spread that population.) Maybe the Australian Spectator still doesn't know what it wants to be - an imitation British magazine for Aussie Tories, or a supplement to the British magazine, or a combination of both, or something completely different?

*That link is to a previous column by Coleman, the current one doesn't seem to be online.

** Links to a boring political website for a boring politician.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What not to do in your garden

I'm quite enjoying doing this gardening blog thing. It's so much easier than, you know, gardening. The rain is helping, too: it rains down in a rainy fashion, making it comfy and warm for me inside, and doing all the watering of the gardening that I'd have to otherwise do, and all I have to do is, well, let's see,

encourage the chickens to eat the broadbeans

get the cats to dig up the spinach

herd the slugs over towards the silverbeet

And we're all sweet. Wait, what - I don't have to do any of those things either? EVEN BETTER.

Here's my latest post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

But enough about me, let's talk about my memoirs

Random stuff happening to me in the next month

- I'll be at a zine luncheon at Soul Food cafe on Saturday, 28 May, so if you're in town, pop in and say hi.

- I'm doing some guest blogging on the Baron's Yates gardening blog while she's in Canada. So far, my helpful updates have included information on plants that eat people, and, well, not much else really.

- Will be performing at the HRAFF slam next week. I wish I could tell you what HRAFF stands for but it's gone right out of my head. Something about human rights? And the word festival is in there as well. Anyway. Come along!

- Oh, and hey, out of the blue I got invited to be part of a Continuum convention panel on zines. Ha! As if I know what I'm talking about. Zine-making, like blogging, to me is pretty much make up the rules as you go along. And then forget all about them a moment later.

But enough about me! This blog is all about you! What's happening to you lately? Don't worry, you can share in the comments.... I promise I won't look at them, I'll just read them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Very cultured sentence

When the CD playing the music that I was listening to suddenly stopped working, Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde suddenly turned into Tim's Das Lied Von Der Merde.

Animals that begin with Q

Little quadrate pebblesnail
Grovelling for diatoms
On the pebbly-water bed
Through your whole life long
Where are the fans and followers
The facebook devotees
Have you no poems or paintings,
No statues and no songs?

What's up with Watts up?

According to Watts Up, this YouTube is the best done animal humour ever. As if. Charlie, the Wonder Dog is by far the best animal humour ever.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Quote this

People talk about how it's important to read a quote in its original context. But what if I just want the quote and not the context? What if the context is crap? What if I can give it a better context? What if the quote works better without the context anyway?

Who wants context anyway? What's so good about context that people always want to hear it? Context is boring. Just give me quotes, all the way, man.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Didn't know until this afternoon that The Australian had a little poetry thing calling for poems about Abbottabad, ending today. Oh well.

A nun in a habit in Abbottabad,
A habit of rabbit in Abbottabad,
Met up with the abbott who ran off with her habit -
The abbott was bad in Abbottabad.

She ran after the abbott who had stole her habit
To grab it, to nab it, her habit of rabbit,
She tackled the abbott, he shouted 'dagnabbit!'
- The abbott was sad in Abbottabad.

He started to jab it in Abbottabad
To stab at the habit in Abbottabad
'If I can't hab the habit, then no-one shall habit!'
Cried the abbott quite mad in Abbottabad.

So if you're in a habit in Abbottabad,
A habit of rabbit in Abbottabad,
And you meet the abbott, even if it's the sabbat,
Then RUN!, for the abbott's a cad in Abbottabad.

Picky picky

On my Friday lunch break, I picked up Judith Brett's Quarterly essay on John Howard and the Australian Liberal Party, and had it finished later that night. As political pieces go, it wasn't too shabby, but my goodness me it could have done with an edit.
The main game for Keating when he was treasurer was economic.
Who would have guessed?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A language described

French, where so many letters are not pronounced, that the last letters are silent, the first letters are mute, and the middle letters are usually left right out. So basically, the language has no words in it whatsoever.

Probably no surprise from the nation that brought you impressionistic art (Monet), impressionistic music (Debussy), and impressionistic dogs (the poodle).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Yesterday it was off with the cats to the place with the nice lady who smiled and stuck metal things in their behinds when they were not looking.

You wouldn't think she'd enjoy it all that much, sticking metal things in the behinds of cats when they're not looking. But apparently she stays there at that place all day and does it. You'd think, indeed, that the nice lady who smiled would rather set some appointments with cats just to roam around the place and eat a few treats. Then she'd be the nice lady who played games and gave treats and smiled and stuck metal things up the cats behinds. No, apparently not.

The cats reacted to this whole experience quite diplomatically, growling and slashing their claws about quite furiously, in the manner of cats who had just had metal things stuck up their behinds, which, as you'll recall, they were.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it. What's it all about?

Anyway, since then they have been recovering from the whole traumatic experience by curling up in a ball and sleeping. They were barely even interested in outside time.

Here is a picture of Bea in happier times on the weekend, celebrating the victory of the Richmond Tigers by posing dramatically in front of some goals.

Conspiracy bonanza

So after the announcement of Bin Laden's death yesterday, I notice there have been a couple of conspiracy theories popping up about whether it was him at all.

Sounds to me like the perfect opportunity to take several conspiracy theories (birtherism, trutherism, and this new Bin Laden deatherism) and join them all together:

Man who does not exist killed by illegitimate President for event which he did not cause...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Post apocalyptic love songs

If you were the last man on earth
And I were the second-last girl
And we were trapped in a room while the robo-drones swooped overhead
And I was slightly deranged
And you were very psychotic
And our union was deemed necessary by the ruling android powers for the safety and stability of the human race on an ongoing basis
And those android powers had guns that were
And much more likely to cause damage on a physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and every other basis whatsoever
Than our own,
Sorry mister,
Still wouldn't do it.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
And, thanks to the unpredictable mutations resulting from the horrendous amounts of gamma radiation left behind as a result of the last millennia of intergalactic war,
So are you.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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