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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

An extremely humble post

Speaking of At Home with Julia, I didn't watch that either. (I don't watch TV, remember?) But I did happen to read a blog post linking to another blog post linking to a news article written by a person who had watched at least a tiny portion of the show, a bit where apparently Julia and Tim had done naughty things underneath the Australian flag. This was apparently a very shocking thing.

Well I don't know what all the fuss is about. I'm sure all Prime Ministers and Attorney-Generals and Premiers and Chiefs of the Defence Force do the same thing. When I am Australian of the year, I might... well, when I am Australian of the year I might do lots of things...

O when I am Australian of the year
I'll rub my trophy bright for hours and hours,
Grow sprays of bottlebrush and wattle-flowers
In jars made out of cans of Fosters Beer.

O when I am Australian of the year
I'll hang a golden sausage on the wall,
And diamante lambchops in the hall,
And polished Chiko Rolls - there - there - and here.

O when I am Australian of the year
Then Liberal and Labor will strike a truce,
And everyone will call their babies Bruce
And Aussies over all the world will cheer.

For when I am Australian of the year
I'll laminate my lamingtons all day
And serve them on a lacquered redgum tray
Until my point is absolutely clear -

And when I am Australian of the year
I'll have the corpse of Bradman waxed - and buffed -
And with the best of Aussie opals stuffed
And every morning, shed a humble tear -

And when night gathers in, and sleep draws near,
In velvet billows of red, white, and blue,
I'll dream of potoroos. That's what I'll do
O, when I am Australian of the year,
O when I am Australian of the year.

Gradually solving the world's problems

Those of you who saw The Gruen Transfer the other night - and I obviously didn't, which is why I'm writing about it now - will have noticed the ad for Superbet, in which a chap walks into a Tab or somewhere like that and concludes that he doesn't want to sit down next to the smelly older working class men, and decides to go and waste his money online instead. This was targeted, the expert in the loud t-shirt explained, at young men who want to waste their money but don't like smelly old men. A logical premise, then, reasonably argued, with perfectly ethical goals in mind, like all advertisements.

But anyway, it struck me then, and strikes me now, that this provides people who are looking into the problem of online gambling addiction with a perfect method of deterrence. Concerned about young people losing all their money gambling online? Solution: send out an army of smelly old men into their flats, their homes, their university colleges, and their bedrooms to counsel them at length about their problems. If by some miracle enough smelly old men cannot be found, an army of, say, young women who have rubbed themselves all over with footballer's socks and painted their face with grease from the underside of their cars could substitute. But I'm sure you could get plenty of smelly old men to participate - just give them a year's supply of VB, or something like that.

On second thoughts, maybe not: we wouldn't want to encourage the rise of counselling in this society. Already, counsellors have reached endemic levels in many parts of this country, and we cannot do enough to battle this scourge which is striking at the very heart of Australian life.

Forget I said anything, then.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Umming, ahhh, errrr, oooh, title!

Doing an interview on 3RRR this afternoon, around 1.20, about the latest Badger's Dozen. I probably should be preparing right about now. I probably should have started preparing a couple of hours ago. I didn't, though, and I'm still not.

You could say it will make the whole interview more engaging, spontaneous, and lively. Or you could say I'll be umming and ahhhing and errring and ooohing and hmmming my way through the most excruciating 5 minutes of radio you've ever heard in your life. With a bit of luck, it'll be both. Excitement!

Here's the link for the show's website.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I like balloons

While googling for information about the town of Canowindra, I came upon this rather impressive website, which makes manages to make a lot out of a very little town:

Exhibit A: the title

Meaning not that their population is ballooning. Nope. There’s just a lot of hot air balloons in their neck of the woods.

Exhibit B: the About page
... which somehow manages to begin the history of Canowindra ‘Thousands of years ago’. It’s because they found some old fish fossils there or something.

Thousands of years ago a large number of fish were stranded on dryland after the water level suddenly fell. The fish, many of them unique, were preserved for posterity in layers of rock only to be discovered in the 1900s and then
catapulted into fame when their true value was realised.
They then employ this seamless segue:

In between the land has seen many changes, particularly in the past 150 years with the development of a township not far from where the fishwere left high and dry.
Exhibit C: page devoted to balloons.

“The flight lasts an hour but the memories last a lifetime”
Exhibit D: page devoted to The Age of Fishes

“A chance discovery by a roadworker in 1956 has led, many years later, to one of the worlds great fossil discoveries in central west New South Wales, Australia.”
We’re not saying it’s the greatest, mind. Just that it’s great.

The combination of humility and bluster is, in fact, rather sweet. It reminds me of other great tourist drawcards in the Australian countryside – the Holbrook submarine, (now marooned in the middle of the driest continent on earth), or the awe-inspiring Albury-Wodonga sculpture, simply titled,

World’s largest air guitar.

We are not suggesting that the goodly township of Canowindra is as grouse as this grouse here. Actually, we pretty much are.

Position vacant

Compostal Delivery Person - in this job, your responsibilities will be going round on a motorbike to every house in your town, delivering compost from other parts of the world to your small part of the world.

You will deliver sludge from Mudgee, splatter from Wangaratta, bogs from Wagga, doos from the dunnies of Dunedoo, goo from Wooloomooloo, and mulch from various gulches.

Most houses will have a compost box at the front, but if not, you can just leave it on the front door.

Continuing the paranoid theme

He was growing slowly more and more convinced that the rectangular paper object he held in his hands, full of letters and pictures, was sending messages to him. With growing horror and apprehension he considered what dread import could be held within, what mysterious magical otherworldly message could the book in his hands be attempting to convey? Those letters, right there -



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Conspiracy most fowl

I can't shake the feeling that the chooks are all clucking about me behind my back.

UPDATE! - The potatoes, too. Only they're not clucking. They're... making whatever sound it is that potatoes make when they're behind your back.

Reviews of second-hand books: A Creepy Company

After having just spent a period of days, which somehow seemed to turn into a period of weeks, which more or less metamorphosed into a duration of two months, reading Tobias Smollett's novel The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, I was somewhat pleased to rediscover what it was like to polish off a rapid succession of books in a rapid succession of days.

Actually, it got to the point, at several stages of the Expedition, where the very prospect of reading more Smollett was enough to fling me into other publications. It was in this way that I had done with the better part of a book of collected essays by William Butler Yeats; several epistles by several apostles; a novel-length narrative poem by James Hogg; and a copy of the Melbourne University student rag, Farrago. In a similar spirit, I suppose, I have just finished Robert Sheckley's The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton, Joan Aiken's A Creepy Company, and am only now starting Cordwainer Smith's The Planet Buyer. It's amazing how easy it is to read things that are not The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, and I just hope everybody tries it some time.

But anyway, before I continue in my impulsive headlong rush into reading books that are not The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, I just want to take you back to that second last author, and that second last title: Joan Aiken, A Creepy Company. What a great writer Aiken is: she gets off on the right foot right away, by not being Tobias Smollett, and not writing books about people called Clinker, and also by delivering this sentence:
If you run hot water over the top of the whistling kettle, it lets out a howl, did you know that?
There's hardly a story in the collection that follows that falls flat; many of the stories are fiendishly good. For instance, in My Disability (the third story) Aiken writes an extremely anxiety-inducing tale about malevolent Norse trolls merely by taking the idea of malevolent Norse trolls seriously.

Part of the great charm about all of this collection, of course, is that Aiken was writing in a style that was already at least a decade obsolete - the collection was published in 1993, and deals with the sort of subjects that might come up in BBC serials some 20 years prior to that. The characters do a lot of pensive staring into fireplaces, talking about the war years, going on long boat expeditions, delivering mail by bicycle, and so on. Maybe it's this obsolescence that will help it last: you can tell Aiken's been spending the best part of her life working towards it.

I wouldn't want you to get me wrong, but. Aiken's best books are her novels and short-stories for children, full of poetic and lyrical ideas. This collection of Aiken's is merely fabulous - some of her other writing is even better.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Decree from on high

Today, all comments on this blog will be in strictly alphabetical order. Everything else, even more so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Suggested activity

Wait until it's your birthday, then post an incredibly controversial and contentious argument on your blog, facebook, twitter, and any other social networking site you may have.

People come to you full of good will to wish you many happy returns - and STAY FOR THE FIGHT!

Monday, September 12, 2011

International zine awareness day

Oh, look! I've got a new zine out! Hey, wow, I'm giving it a launch!

You all should totally come and buy it. But not before you buy it and come.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

An article on the article

What word, more than any other, appears with laborious regularity, with monotonous determinacy in every tract by every major author in the English language? What word pops up time and time again, with the bumptious certitude of a cliche, the complacent comfort of a worn-out homily, mindlessly repeated by droning nitwits and drivelling politicians, the world over? What word has become so obvious and so necessary that it no longer seems obvious even while it is staring you right in the face, a word that has already appeared five times in this very passage? What word other than the definite article, the word used to 'denote person(s) or thing(s) already mentioned, under discussion, implied, or familiar', as the 'first part of a noun phrase', what other word could I be talking about than the 'the'?

It is depressing once you come to realise that even the greatest of poets have paid homage to this small syllabub in the very first words of their most famous works. Shelley, in Mont Blanc:

The everlasting universe of things*
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves...
Gray, in his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:

The curfew tolls the knell of passing day...
Hemans, in Casabianca:

The boy stood on the burning deck
When all but he had fled...
Meanwhile, I just scrutinised a list of famous first lines from novels, and aside from coming up with another batch of examples beginning with the definite article - 'The Miss Lonelyhearts of New York', 'The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new', 'The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel' - but I also came up with this very famous example from Charles Dickens, which, while it does not start with the definite article, could be seen as little more than a way of filling up the inconvenient blanks that occur between definite articles with meaningful words:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
It is an odd, unprepossessing word, the definite article; a most unmusical, functional gobbet of speech: a short, three letter word beginning with two consonants and followed up by not much else. Ever since the English started speaking English, poets must have been uncertain over whether it was to be pronounced with a long 'e' - making it possible to pronounce it in an exaggerated, tuneful, or dramatic fashion, though why would you want to - or a short 'e', thus making it... not very much at all really, other than a useful device for tripping between the other words.

On the whole, one can think of much better words with which to open epic, sprawling novels; great, tumultuous dramas - the Shakespearean 'O', for instance, giving me one of my favourite examples:

O, for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The very brightest heavens of invention...
the epic 'Of':

Of arms and the man I sing...

Of man's first disobedience and the fruit...
The Kiplingesque 'If' renders not only a famous first word, and a famous first line, but a famous name, and indeed a famous ongoing motive for a justly famous poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise...
And yet I would not have it any other way: it is important to let the definite article have its dues. I was talking to Bill the other day - and if you had ever talked to Bill, you would know who Bill was - who noted how exceedingly difficult it was to research the titles of books, publications, and journals, as some sources would have the journal beginning with the definite article (as in 'The Age', 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 'The Herald Sun') - whilst others would be equally adamant that they are to go without (as in 'Age', 'Sydney Morning Herald', 'Herald Sun').

Why must we put editors to so much trouble? We must we harass them with so many bothersome words? I propose a simple solution: from now on, let us omit all other words from the titles of books, publications, and journals, and replace them with a blank space to be filled in by the editor. From now on, they shall all be titled:

The - - - - - - ...

*Rather odd first line, when you think about it. It starts with 'the', and ends with 'things'.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Exciting new Kindle additions

Just check out these exciting additions which enhance your electronic book reading experience!

- Smell of old books button! No longer do you have to stand around in second hand bookstores run by crusty old men with cornflakes falling out of their beards to enjoy the unique sensual smell of old books. Just press this button, and our special 'smell of old book' enzyme will drift into your nostrils, providing you with that deep, rich, satisfying experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

- Book-worm knob. Comes with several settings: 'book worm', 'weevil', up to 'cockroaches'. The insects will fall out of a hole in the Kindle, replicating the satisfying experience you have upon opening up a mouldering old tome in an ancient dusty library and find a plenitude of creatures with more legs per entity than you thought possible. And because this is the Kindle, you can enjoy the insects in as many channels as there are books saved on your device. Also, speaking of mould...

- Now the Kindle comes in several Mouldy Old skins and encrustations, as good, if not better, than any you'd find on any secondhand book. And if it doesn't trigger several allergic reactions in the user, and possible have them on life support in an hour or two, then please - return to the Kindle company immediately. We wouldn't want to let our standards drop.

Train, meet Train, Train, meet train.

This morning I caught the train in to the city, (like I always do), and got on one of the platform 4/5 trains at Flinders Street Station, (like I always do). The train today was a Burnley Train, (which was bad), as I discovered after I got on, as the Burnley Train tends to go to Burnley, which is in an entirely different direction and on a completely different line than those ones which go through North Melbourne. North Melbourne being the station where I eventually get off.

But whatever, I said to myself, as the train set off on its merry way, I've got half an hour (which I did). So I looked out of the window at the sights, and I saw the sights, and the main thing that I saw about the sights was that they were there, and I enjoyed them. I got off at Richmond Station, and got on another train to take me to Southern Cross Station. This train, as it turned out, was completely packed out with people, so instead of looking at the sights as I travelled back to Southern Cross Station, I turned out to be looking at the people. The people were ugly. But that was okay, as they mostly got off at Parliament Station, the first one in the city loop, and for the rest of the trip I had a completely unimpeded and handsome view of the tunnel. I am pleased to report that it was mostly dark, colourless, and otherwise utterly non-descript, and unlike most sightseeing expeditions, had no annoying people trees, landscapes, or scenery blocking it from my admiring gaze.

I got off at Southern Cross Station, got on to another train at Southern Cross Station, which took me in to North Melbourne Station, where I got off, went and got a coffee at the roller door, and went to work. So there.

This afternoon, however, was a different story. I went to North Melbourne Station, and not only was it crowded, but a chap was marching up and down the platforms with a microphone in his hands shouting in an increasingly agitated tone of voice, 'FLINDERS STREET TRAIN ARRIVING NOW AT PLATFORM 3! FLINDERS STREET TRAIN NOW ARRIVING AT PLATFORM 3! SYDENHAM TRAIN ARRIVING 1 MINUTE AT PLATFORM 5! FLINDERS STREET TRAIN ARRIVING 2 MINUTES AT PLATFORMS 1 AND 6! SYDENHAM TRAIN ARRIVING 1 MINUTE AT PLATFORM 5!' I don't know who that guy is, but he's really good at marching up and down strips of concrete and shouting out things in an increasingly agitated tone of voice. He must really like his job.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Better hair than bare

It’s no go the Marxist mo, it’s no go the Trotsky
Leon was axed in Mexico and he is all kaputski
Stalin grew a bristler but his fingers stained vermillion
Now half the world are baby-faced, the other have Brazilians.

Witches cut off Aslan’s mane, Samson had Delilah,
Klim got his whole body waxed and wasn’t he a smiler
Thorpey’s stubble was a trouble but who cares said the media?
Now rumours the Thorpedo’s gay have a bit on Wikipedia.

It’s no go the Moses beard, it’s no go the Merv Hughes
Now you just need a Kojak conker and you’re in the Who’s Who.

Darwin had a lengthy line, an absolute floor scraper,
George Bernard Shaw looked venerable, and cut a merry caper,
Now Peter Garrett’s shorn his head and couldn’t win a tussel
With a little teensy bit of bearded clam or mussel.

Now mutton chops is a type of food and goatee is a fetta
Which Giselle Bundchen doesn’t want cos she’s signed up to PETA
Now handlebars are just for bikes and Whiskas just for cats,
And beards are just for weird old poets in velvet cloaks and hats.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The decay of civilisation and other dangers of abstract minimalist graffiti art

Every time you walk past a plainly painted house in the street, how can you be sure it actually is plainly painted and is not covered in graffiti in the style of Mondrian? And it might just be possible to think that the plain grey rendered building across the road from you actually is a plain grey rendered building across the road - but then again, it could be covered in minimalist graffiti tags with a post-Bauhaus aesthetic.

Those abstract graffiti artists are everywhere - and you just don't know when they'll strike next.

Abstract minimalist graffiti art at its worst. Don't let your house become like this.

An extremely nourishing enriching touching inspiring something journey

'Journey'. The word is used so much these days that not only does it apply to everyone doing everything everywhere, but it also applies to everyone else.

Why not trip, expedition, voyage, holiday, tour, hike, flight, elopement, mission, adventure, I wonder? Just about any of these words imply more danger, or more enjoyment, or a more obvious goals, or, at the very least, more personal agency than 'journey', after all. But no - what is really required is a journey, a soul-enriching, heart-touching journey, a spiritual and inspiring journey, a journey for everyone, a journey for Peter, Paul, Mary, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Jack, Jill, and chaps called David who leave their wife and children and go and train and fight with the Taliban and end up in Guantanamo and then write a book about the aforementioned life-touching soul-caressing heart-felt spiritual and inspiring journey that it was though they don't mention the first parts much.

In a journey, at least in the sense the term is used these days, you have about as much agency as a slab of concrete. Things happen to you, maybe; you sure as hell don't make things happen. Who says 'I'm going on a journey to the shops to get some milk'? Who says 'I have sent my finger forth on a journey to probe the left handed cavity of my proboscis?' Does the term 'journey' actually mean anything anymore? Am I embarked on a journey right now as I lounge around in this armchair?

And a very life-touching soul-nourishing heart-felt spiritual and inspiring lounging it is too.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Controversial! Political! Polemical! Post!

Some things most trusty than a Labor Cabinet:

- A sturdy oak cabinet
- A modest unassuming cabernet.
- A soft but sweet camembert.
- A tall uniformed carabinieri
- A gay cabriolet.

Not a politician.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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