Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bier ist hier

"You know, Tim", the Baron said to me the other day, "You might have made enough beer for now".

The funny thing is, around that time I'd just started feeling rather lonely after having bottled some of the brews that had been in my study for the past few months. You can get into personal relationships with your brews, indeed at some point you'll start to wonder if the brews aren't looking over your shoulder as you type, or if they're feeling a bit standoffish today because they haven't been blooping as rapidly as they were yesterday, or if they haven't been shouting at you all the morning because they want to go out into the fields and play cricket. Don't tell me other brewers don't feel the same way.

I have to admit "too much" isn't what I habitually think about my brews. I'm too busy thinking about "what will I make next" or "when will I make some more" or "we don't have enough of that one left". Taking a shower a day or so after the Baron mentioned the (supposedly) immoderate amount of beer, I puzzled over this as I looked over the bottles of dark juniper porter and wondered whether I should refrigerate the rest. Clambering over a few bottles of herbal altbier, I absent-mindedly clanged the shower door into the bottles of Scottish light with floral tagetes aroma as I retrieved the towel from where it had been hanging over the beetroot beer bottles and continued to ponder this idea. Could there possibly be too much beer in the house? Is "too much beer" even a sentence that makes any sense?

 No wonder the Baron is a Doctor of Professorism, or some such, at university, because that suggestion of hers was a real poser. The more I thought about it, the less it made sense. I thought about it as I scrubbed my teeth that night, narrowly avoiding stubbing my toe on the box of rosemary porter. I thought about it as I dodged around the spruce beer balancing on top of the box of mead that I'd bottled a few days prior (which box I'd squeezed in between the door, and the bottles of wheat beer and peppercorn ale, about ten bottles apiece). It is true that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find space in the house for the bottles of beer, but I can't really build a bigger house now, can I? (Or can I? I haven't thought much about that possibility yet....)

I suppose thinking about whether I have too much beer is a little like the 'how long is a piece of string' question. We can never know, really; it may indeed be one of those fundamental universal conundrums, like the square root of two, or how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Anyway; this summer I expect there'll be a few combustions amongst the bottles anyway, as the yeast becomes more agitated in the summer heat, so that'll help to keep the numbers down. And, in that case, I'd better redouble my efforts to keep household supplies high).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Something something GIRAFFE

There is a meme that's been going around facebook for a few years: a picture of a goat with the caption 'share this goat for no reason'. It just illustrates the depravity and perversity of the facebook generation. Goats need no reason. Goats are their own reason. Why even bother suggesting that you should share a goat for no reason in order to come up with a reason to share the goat? Just share the bloody goat. We all need more goats in our lives: there ought to be no explanation or reason or non-reason reason given. I have seen a reason, and it is goat.

Now all of a sudden a new meme is circulating about; people are being told to answer a riddle and if they get the riddle wrong, they are told, they are to change their profile picture to that of a giraffe. As if they need an excuse to post a giraffe. As if the giraffe cares anything about excuses. The giraffe is the honey badger of the animal kingdom (he is even more honey badger than the honey badger): he just doesn't give a shit.

The proliferation of giraffe pictures is a fine thing, a noble thing, a sign of the advancement of civilisation and the progress of the humanities and science. But there need be no excuse for the giraffe; rather, we should all make it our own responsibility to independently muse on the wonder and majesty of giraffes by sharing a giraffe picture of our own free will. That is the glory of liberty: being able to post a picture of a giraffe whenever you like.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Today's post brought to you by Tim's increasingly desperate attempts to avoid doing the tax

When Mum used to order me to clean my room (or, worse, do it for me) I used to strenuously object. Amongst other things, cleaning has a terrible way of preventing you finding things, I would argue. That's the point of mess: you know where everything is. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight now, I have to admit that, no - sometimes mess really doesn't make it easier to find things (unless those things are on top). 

Today's subject, however, is not mess. It is filing. It would be misleading to state that I do not have a filing system. I'm not quite sure how this erroneous impression took hold, but although I work at home and you might expect me to be lax regarding filing and the ordering of crucial documentation, you would be wrong. I don't just have one filing system, I have twenty.

The papers are first ordered by Dewey decimal system, and then four of the most common alphabetical orders (reverse, forward, upside-down and inside out) are applied. At this point, the papers are subjected to a meticulous audit from my accounting staff (I work alone, so that would be me) before being handed over to my secretarial department (me again) and selected out for artisanal purposes (I like to do origami with some sheets of paper and write horizontal villanelles or aleotoric shopping lists on them). After this, it is merely a matter of throwing them around the desk for a short period lasting a couple of months to a year until they resemble the Mandelbrot set as seen by a person on LSD, and then I enter the final stage of filing, which is roughly in the accordance to the Code of Hammurabai, although with some alterations according to the Mongolian, Latvian, and Cimmerian style guides. A quick sprinkling of dust, bread crumbs, various sugary substances, a Cheezel and a Burger Ring scattered here and there, and you have my concise, simple, and easy-to-understand filing system. You're welcome.

So anyway, filing. Bears a superficial resemblance to messiness and complete lack of order, but of course is anything but. It's possible I might switch to a new twenty systems of filing in the following financial year, although I'm not sure - my filing is in a state of continuous alteration and improvement anyway. I like to think it's more organic that way. Still wouldn't make it easier to find things, of course. But you can't have everything.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The most boring poetry genre in the world

Infotainment poetry about tax. Could this be the most boring genre in the world? Maybe I should hire myself out as a court poet to Gina Rinehart?

Should mining have higher taxation
That is indexed in line with inflation? 
Would it be an inhibition
To jobs, competition,
Or would it help build up our nation? 
The answer it comes as we tot up the sums - 
Fiddle dee diddle dee dum.

How should the tax then be designed? 
With government programs in mind? 
Is spending our purpose? 
Should we save for a surplus,
Can the tax once begun be refined? 
We'll figure it out on our fingers and thumbs - 
Fiddle dee diddle dee dum. 

There should, of course, be compensation
How much? (Needs clarification). 
We'll do a few audits
To show how we'll afford it
Then draw up all due legislation. 
Like pigeons they'll flock as we spread out the crumbs - 
Fiddle dee diddle dee dum. 

But if free flow of money is right,
Perhaps tax, if at all, should be slight? 
A business, productive
Will prove quite seductive
For those who'd onsell bentonite. 
We furrow our brows with 'ahs' and with 'ums' - 
Fiddle dee diddle dee dum. 

If little taxation is best,
We'll sit back and hope they'll invest;
The money will flow,
Our nation will grow
With our thanks to the mines in the West. 
So we go with the flow with a 'ho' and a 'hum' - 
Fiddle dee diddle dee dum. 

Things I still have no idea about after writing this poem about tax: 'indexing to inflation', 'bentonite', 'tax'.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A disappointing poem

(Disreputable rapscallions might point out that all poems are 'disappointing'. Well, maybe. But this is just a sub-genre of poetry I'm experimenting with, on the basis that, if poetry is about making an audience feel an emotion, well I might as well start off trying to disappoint people. Because I usually find it's pretty hard to go wrong in that respect.)

Dawn. First light.
Soft, gentle beams.
Into the room
The future gleams.
A chance to put
The past behind
To put the last day
Out of mind
To wake from sleep
Afreshed, anew,
Except if like me you have insomnia in which case everything feels like shit really and why would sleep get rid of any of my problems anyway plus fuck you.

If you'd like to be disappointed further, why not pop along to the House of Bricks Gallery in Collingwood this Wednesday, where I'll be one of the poetry features?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I was in the middle of Mel's excellent book the other day when I came across a passage about the manifold significance of the male suit. 
The Man in Black.... personifies American paranoia over the misuse of government power. His authoritative yet anonymous black suit, white shirt, narrow black tie and sunglasses attract no attention.... .... In the Matrix films, the Man in Black is Agent Smith, the computer-generated guardian of a virtual world designed to subdue humanity.... In the film The Adjustment Bureau (2011) he belongs to a celestial bureaucracy policing pre-ordained destinies...
Reading this, I soon realised that for most of my working life, I have been in offices where hardly anybody wears a suit*. In my old job in North Melbourne one chap decided to wear a tie to work just because it was so unusual and keep doing so until someone commented on it. In some offices people haven't been wearing ties for a long, long time; indeed, it seems to me the suspicion with which a wage slave might have formerly regarded a man in a crisply-cut suit and tie could be transferring to another sort altogether: the managerial sorts who wear smart-casual in a strangely affected manner. (I'm not sure what they're affecting. That's why it's so strange). I was reminded, indeed, of the following passage in, of all places, a television review:
.... Normally, when it’s a competition between fusty, sclerotic Old Europe and go-ahead, can-do America I’m with the US all the way. Not on this occasion, however. I particularly warmed to a character so ludicrously Gallic and Grande Ecole I’m surprised they didn’t film him with a napkin over his head devouring an ortolan. His name was Jean-Noël Jeanneney, former director of the French National Library. 

Jeanneney was not impressed when the young men from Google approached him. He could tell they were not habituated to wearing ties, he said, and had clearly only put one on because such, they believed, was the European way. Worse, they made the fatal mistake of attempting to curry favour with a gift: they had brought him one of those thermos mugs that keeps your hot drinks warm on train journeys. He had resolved then and there to have nothing to do with Google and its infernal project....
 Perhaps, in his current incarnation at least, the Man in Black has had his day. Soon the only people to wear ties when knocking on your door will be harmless obsessives like Mormons. However, it occurs to me now that if two young men dressed neatly in smart-casual come knocking at your door on the weekend, you should probably run and hide: only door-to-door atheists could be so tasteless...

*People talk about 'the suitless office'. Can it be long before they start talking about 'the pantless office'?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Get sloshed with Jane Austen!

People who make it their business to poke into the private correspondence and novels of long dead (or sometimes, if they're lucky, very much alive) writers all agree: Jane Austen liked beer. Jane Austen liked spruce beer in particular, which is a type of beer you make from boiling the tips from a spruce tree in water or beer wort or some type of wine must, and then adding yeast. (Just like any other beer or wine, basically, but with added spruce.) "It is you, however, in this instance, that have the little children, and I that have the great cask, for we are brewing spruce beer again" writes Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. Note the "again". So she brewed it all the time. And "the great cask". Not sure how much a cask is, but I'm sure it's lots. Geeze, Austen must have gargled the stuff down every minute of the day. And plus some character gives some other character a recipe for spruce beer in some book or other that she wrote, which is clearly extraordinary evidence in favour of my general argument that Jane Austen was an absolute alco who played fast and loose with the juice of the spruce.

Sounds like fun. So I decided to make some spruce beer myself; I used a variation of the recipe given on the Jane Austen Centre website. That recipe was itself taken from the British Army (and a very similar recipe is given by others, for instance, Benjamin Franklin). The Baron and I harvested fresh spruce tips from my mother-in-law's tree in Bright, and fresh molasses, er, jars from the shelves of a nearby IGA, and I modified the recipe down for 1 gallon (between 4 and 5 litres) rather than 5 gallons.

550 ml Molasses
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1 tablespoon Northern Brewer hops
1 teaspoon Goldings hops
About 60/70 grams spruce tips
Ale yeast, about 1 tsp

1. Bring about 8 litres of water to a boil, add the NB hops (preferably in a hop bag), the spruce tips, and the grated ginger root. (It will boil down over the hour to the 4ish litres or so you want)
2. Add  the Goldings hops at the end of the boil. Stir in the molasses. Bring down the temperature of the water to 20 degrees (I do this by immersing it in a tub of cold water, preferably in a sink with a leaky plug so the water runs out as it warms up) (Alternatively you could just leave it to cool overnight).
3. Make a yeast starter - put the yeast in a clean jar with some lukewarm fresh water (I use tank water so as not to worry the yeast with additives in tap water). When the beer wort temperature is 20 degrees to 16 degrees celsius, add the yeast to the bottom of a fermenter and pour the wort in on top of it.
4. Put in a 20 degree room and leave to ferment for a week or so.

So that was that, but not to be outdone, I also made a second batch of spruce beer, this time a proper ale, made from barley and wheat. Lightly hopped, with some added bitterness from the spruce. Again, similar proportions - I made about 4 litres of spruce beer:

500 grams ale malt
100 grams amber malt
400 grams wheat malt
spruce tips
1/3 tablespoon Hallertau hops
1 tsp wheat beer yeast

1. Chuck the grains in a blender and crack them all open, and then mash them in a little bit of water at 68 degrees celsius for an hour and a half to get the sweet malt out. When done, drain the wort from the grains and wash them with 77 degree water until you have about 8/9 litres of wort.
2. Bring the wort to a boil. Add the spruce and the Hallertau hops. Again it'll boil down a bit over the hour. If I was doing this again today I'd probably add another hit of hops right at the end to get a bit of that nice hoppy aroma. A teaspoon of Saaz, maybe, though I'm open to suggestions as to other good witbier hops.
3. Bring the wort to a temp at or below 20 degree celsius (as above), make a yeast starter (as above), and pour the yeast into the bottom of your fermenter before pouring the wort in after it. Pop a bubbelator on the top and let them get to know one another.
4. Leave in a 20 degree room for a week or so!

The results? I bottled the molasses spruce beer the other day and did a taste test then and pulled a face. I called the Baron over and gave her a taste, and she pulled exactly the same face I did. I wrote in my beer diary: 'Ewgh'. Which word, if you pronounce properly, will make you pull exactly the same face that the Baron and I did. What the hell, Jane Austen? What. The. Hell. This spruce beer. It tastes DISGUSTING. Pretty much like you'd expect molasses - with the sweetness taken out - to taste. So we put those bottles aside to, er, mature for a while. We could quite possibly leave them to mature for a very long time indeed....

Today, however, I bottled the spruce witbier and did another taste test there. Better: much better. The spruce added a funny kind of sour fruitiness to the beer (spruce tips are high in vitamin C), and seemed to balance out the hops quite well. And the taste of fermented malt, I have to admit, is so much better than the taste of fermented molasses. So, you know, maybe Austen didn't use molasses at all - or if she did she used a better quality molasses - or something. But still. I find it hard to get over the shock of molasses spruce beer.....

I conclude this scholarly analysis of the significance of spruce beer in the art and literature of Jane Austen by offering a picture of the author herself.

Who would have guessed she'd be such a dipsomaniac, eh?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The great outdoors

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
And wilderness were wealth enow.

- Omar Khayyam

A jug of wine,
A chardonnay on ice,
A loaf of bread,
A freshly-baked artisan sourdough from the finest providore, plus pre-prepared filet mignon, a vegetarian option, brie, camembert, some new fermented sauerkraut, fresh cultured butter, a variety of dips, an icecream maker, a pricey but portable barbecue, a fridge, a generator, a tent for four with suitable insulation, bedding, a small radio and portable television, DVDs to keep the kids entertained, fishing rods, a frozen trout for when you get sick of fishing, pink fluffy slippers, and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness

- Omar Khayyam, ever-so-slightly updated.

The Sting from the Black Lagoon

Some people like to collect stamps, some prefer the gathering of signatures; many like to amass volumes of football cards, pressed flowers, shelves of their favourite authors, or posters of their favourite band. Personally, I collect bee stings. Stings on the hand, stings on the foot, stings on the ankle, stings on just about every bit of the anatomy you can possibly imagine. Want a sting? I've got stings aplenty. I file them in alphabetical order in a match box and show them to visitors and neighbours every morning.

Seems every day I go outside I collect another bee sting. Not all bee stings are the same, I've discovered; many will only hurt momentarily (though leave a lingering itchiness on your skin). One or two will throb for days on end and make you question the very meaning of existence. And some, well, some will turn you into a terrifying Mr Hyde who will terrify small children and old ladies and cause everyone else to smile awkwardly and anxiously when meeting you and for the rest of the time you are in their company, look like they're trying not to keep looking at you but looking at you anyway because you are just so fascinatingly horrible. You know the ones.

Bee stings! Oh yeah. I've had them!

1) Ankle bee stings. These ones hardly hurt at all. When we were working on the hive the other week, two snuck in between a wrinkle in my socks and my pants, and got me. While the effort was appreciated, unfortunately these failed to sting much at all. 5/10.

2) Wrist bee sting. In this one, the bees displayed impressive tenacity, waiting at some obscure point on my bee suit until I'd come inside and started to remove it, at which point they stung. This sting, too, failed to impress, and was quickly forgotten about. 5/10.

3) Beard stings. For weeks after working on a hive, the bees will be alert to any human working outside, and will deploy their most effective psychological tactic - flying in very rapid circles around a person's face and making them move very quickly on. This will continue essentially until the person has run back inside. Sometimes, of course, the person doesn't go inside fast enough, and the bees will just fling themselves at your face and get lost in your beard, and for another minute furiously buzz in a terrifying fashion near your ear. I've had, I think, three stings in this way? While psychologically incredibly effective - the anticipation, like in Hamlet, can be incredibly drawn out - the stings don't hurt much at all. (Side note, though: this is why beekeepers should grow a beard if they can) 7/10.

4) Sting on the tip of my finger I got once when trying to brush a bee out of my beard. This one hurt like buggery. The blood rushed to the tip of my finger and had nowhere else to go, making my finger throb for days on end. I could hardly even type anything out on the computer. Combining the psychological anticipation of the beard sting with a final surprise, this sting in the tail really has a sting in the tale. HAHAHA! Oh yeah, not funny at all. But still: this was a really impressive trick by the bees, and I haven't forgotten about it ever since. 8/10.

5) Sting on the nose. To do this, the bee actually flew INTO MY NOSE, which is horrible. Just imagine how squicked out you get when flies fling themselves by accident into your nose or your mouth; well, combine that squickiness with the realisation that the small insect in your olfactory organ may actually be going to sting you IN THE MIDDLE OF ONE OF YOUR BREATHING CANALS. But actually, the bee just put its head in my nose so they could sting me on the outside and it didn't hurt at all so while this sting combined fear and disgust with incredible effectiveness, I didn't mind it at all in the end. 7/10.

6) Sting on the forehead. When I was out in the garden near the hive one sunny afternoon just watching them go in and out. This one didn't seem to matter at all, at first; a dull throb in the forehead which quickly seemed to dissipate. However, after dinner, my face was feeling a little hot and I went to wash it and noticed my eyes were looking very strange. By the time I went to bed the skin around my eyes had bulged noticeably; in the morning there was so much bulging around, over and under my eyes that I could hardly open them at all. For the whole of the day after my eyes had narrowed to two little slits that I peered out of while lurching, zombie like, from place to place. Children burst into tears at my horripilating visage. Adults fleed from my gruesome presence. This was the sting that really delivered! 10/10

UPDATE! - Photo taken by the Baron after I got stung on the forehead.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chopper comes a cropper

'ear 'ear!
Ears 'ere!
'ere's is ears
Wot e 'ad ere!
'e 'ad 'is ears ere 'ere,
Now 'eres 'is ears 'ere,
'ere! 'ere!
'is ears are ere!
'ear 'ear!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The art of conversation in a car

Ours is a progressive age, and there's nothing we love to do more in our progressive age than to progress towards thing in cars. The car is swift, shiny, sleek, full of whizz-bang items of gadgetry for making the car go whizz-bang into things, and able to go round and round and round the country for hours on end in search of gay little cafes and jolly tourist traps and picturesque beauty spots, which spots and traps and cafes the drivers and passengers of the cars like to stop at for half an hour or so for rest or refreshment or postcards before driving off again into the countryside for hours and hours and hours. Horses, which we used to travel around on, being possessed of high intelligence and acumen, and otherwise being noble and conservative creatures, would generally object to such acts of circumlocution or rhodomontade, and so had to be disposed of in this progressive age, which is one reason why we find ourselves in the unfortunate place we do. Though not for very long because the progressive car generally progresses very fast away from whatever place we find ourselves in almost before we are in it.

And since we are in a swift shiny sleek whizz-bang progressive age and find ourselves in a swift shiny sleek whizz-bang progressive car, what is it like to be in a car? It is hot. It is humid. It is so cramped that you end up putting your arm into someone else's leg space and your leg into someone else's head space. Someone is crying. And someone sitting behind the wheel is very, very angry and quite possibly shaking their first at someone in another progressive car progressing in another direction against a red light. But the car has disadvantages, too: you cannot ride on the back of a car, shouting valiantly, waving a claymore* in the air, while the car gallops down into an army of Redcoats which you are about to do battle with. No, while we are in the car, it seems we will all have to learn to get along, and put to use the arts of etiquette and conversation and wit. However it seems we have left most of those arts behind, along with the horse, in that more staid and conservative age before the car. This is unfortunate.

Ideally, for a car conversation, you will need one of all the following people:

1) Someone to get into a political argument with.
2) Someone to attempt to start a game of Eye Spy in an attempt to distract from the increasingly tense and heated argument.
3) Someone to get bored with the game of Eye Spy and attempt to start up a joke competition.
4) Someone to shout and say Eye Spy started first and why do you always have to ruin everything and that's not fair.
5) Someone to tell everyone else to keep quiet because someone else is trying to sleep.
6) Someone else trying to sleep over the noise of someone else telling everyone to keep quiet.
7) Someone to urgently try to keep the peace between everyone, who are all arguing over the top of one another now.
8) Someone to ask "are we there yet" every one kilometre on a thousand kilometre journey.
9) Someone to loudly announce "I'm bored" everytime someone else attempts to start up a conversation.
10) Someone to querulously whine "but I want to go to the toooooooooooilet" one minute after the car has whizzed past the last toilet for three hundred and forty three kilometres.
11) Someone to quietly weep in the corner.
12) Someone to suddenly get incredibly hungry in the other corner.
13) Someone to apologetically vomit all everyone else.
14) Someone to shamelessly steal and retell the jokes that someone else has told an hour ago.
15) Someone to go rummaging for food to keep everyone else distracted, except maybe the person who has just vomited.
16) Someone to suddenly query three quarters of the way through the trip just where we are all going.** 

Of course, the typical car has only six to eight seats, so several people will have to take responsibility for multiple roles. (And bear in mind this list is very limited).

Often in the car you end up having to amuse yourself. When I was a kid I tried numerous tactics. After being told a number of times by parents to 'shut up', I would loudly announce to my brother, 'Hey Lachlan, let's have a shutting up competition'. 'Okay!' he'd say, fully expecting my reply: 'I lose!' Fun the first thousand times you try it, not so amusing after that. At other times, I'd take part in games of Eye Spy which I would (cleverly, I thought) undermine by providing obtuse answers when it was my turn to play: 'B' for 'Blueness'. 'E' for 'Existence'. 'I' for 'Ineffable Feelings of Ennui and Angst on Suddenly Discovering the Pointlessness of the Car Journey'. No-one else seemed to really appreciate my Eye Spy interventions, but really: how many times can you go with 'T' for 'Tree', 'G' for 'Grass', 'C' for 'Cow' and 'R' for 'Road' before the game suddenly becomes utterly tedious and meaningless?

Speaking of tedious and meaningless, let us turn now to the writings of Dr Samuel Johnson. No - no, I don't mean he was tedious and meaningless, just that he wrote entertainingly about that very subject quite frequently. 'I took a short journey into the country in a stage coach', he writes:

On the day of our departure, in the twilight of the morning, I ascended the vehicle, with three men and two women my fellow travellers. It was easy to observe the affected elevation of mien with which every one entered, and the supercilious civility with which they paid their compliments to each other. When the first ceremony was dispatched, we sat silent for a long time, all employed in collecting importance into our faces, and endeavouring to strike reverence and submission into our companions. 

It is hard to imagine this happening on a modern car trip, and not even on a modern train or bus trip (though that is in some ways similar to the experience of travelling in a stage coach with strangers). But what follows is all too familiar:
It is always observable that silence propagates itself, and that the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find any thing to say..... At last a corpulent gentleman, who had equipped himself for this expedition with a scarlet surtout, and a large hat with a broad lace, drew out his watch, looked on it in silence, and then held it dangling at his finger. This was, I suppose, understood by all the company as an invitation to ask the time of day; bu no body appeared to heed his overture: and his desire to be talking so far overcame his resentment, that he let us know of his own accord it was past five, and that in two hours we should be at breakfast.

The whole essay is surpassingly excellent and worth the time to read in whole. However, like passenger number 14 in the car trip, stealing the jokes of another, I have set out on this article telling my own story, and ended up telling Dr Johnson's story instead, and so here the journey will end.

*I should admit that I am not at all certain what a claymore is, but I feel quite strongly that it is something that ought to be flourished savagely in the air. 

** Hopefully person number 16 is not the driver.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Now then, now, then

Now and then one hears from people who want to live in the now. This is all very perplexing, not simply because it seems odd that these people should want to be living in "the now" rather than in "the present", but also because, now and then, one wonders why they want to live in the now rather than in the then, or now and then in the now-then, or even now and then in the soon. 

Often, one is tempted to further speculations: if it is possible to live in the now, what about living in the soon-to-be-now, or the just-after-now? Can one perhaps contrive to live in the day after the now, or two and three quarter seconds before the now, or even on the now or above the now or through the now? Is it perhaps getting a bit too crowded, now, there in the now, with all these people wanting to live in the now and none of them wanting to live before the now or after the now? What's so good about the now anyway, whatever it is and whenever that whatever it is, is (or was)?

Indeed so many people have been living for so long in the now that I wonder if they're not getting sick of the now right about, ahem, now. After living in the now, then, and the now, now, why don't they give it a switch and try living in the then, now, and the soon, then?

And every now and then one might be tempted to quote that famous poem:

Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming round, 
Turn around.

Such deep words. Such deep, mysterious words that speak to the very core of our being.

Ponderous reflections

While in Bright we took a drive up to Mount Beauty, a place whose name caused me to reflect ponderously on the inevitable gap between signified and signifier. I'm not sure whether the locals gave the place this name because they wanted it to become that way, or because they thought it already was that way, or simply because they thought other people would be attracted by the title. But, for the record, this is Mount Beauty, the town: a strip of shops, a scatter of houses, and a sizeable body of water named "Regulation Pondage", surrounded by a few trees, some of which are now stumps, and another of which is mostly Mistletoe. "You could write a blog post about it", I got told. Yes, I could indeed.

In a way, driving to Mount Beauty is a little like making lemon delicious pudding. It may be nice. It may be pleasant. It may have lemons. It may have the minimum amount of concrete and asphalt and brick to make civic engineers happy (we're talking about Mount Beauty, now, not the pudding). But will it taste any better if you put cream on top of it (back to talking about the pudding). But will the lemon delicious pudding actually be "delicious"? What if, in your anxiety to live up to the rigorous standards implied in the very name, you actually fluff the making of the pudding, and a more accurate name for the cooking results turns out to be "lemon not-so-delicious pudding"? Or "lemon slightly-retchworthy pudding?"

Same deal, really, as when I made what was, apparently, "the best cheese", allegedly, "in the world", so called. We cut it up when we were on holidays in Bright. It tasted nice. It tasted pleasant. It didn't particularly taste of lemons or concrete or asphalt or brick, but there you go. But "best"? "In the world"? Really? And was I wracked with anxiety on making the cheese in case it turned out badly? (No, I think I was quite chipper, really).

And as for Bright! Well, what can I say? Sometimes it wasn't so Bright at all. Sometimes it was even positively umber-looking. I was shocked! Appalled! And even pleased.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Gluttony meets guilt meets a tasty tasty Taco

There's nothing like guilt, dread, fear, shame, pain, paranoia, avarice, ambition, lust, gluttony and stupidity to really get humans excited, which is why we've become the successful and fun-loving species we are today. A quick trip down the shops will confirm this for you, for there you see the greedy selling the pointless to the gullible for marked-up prices, sometimes with extra chocolate.

In Bright (which I actually happen to be in at the moment, though shhhh, don't tell anybody) you will find the dentists stationed right next to the lolly shop, a strategy so obvious that I need not belabour the fact by pointing it out apart from right here, which I suppose really is belabouring okay I'll stop now. Similarly, in our own suburb of Lalor, the local restaurant (the only local restaurant), the resonantly-named Taco Bill, is placed right next to a gym, an arrangement of commerce and convenience so remarkable that I wouldn't be surprised if the respective managers didn't congratulate one another every night at close of business: gluttony complements guilt, just as chili sauce complements a tasty, tasty Taco.

Down where my parents live, in Raymond Terrace, the commercial store owners seem to be a tad more confused about the mutually beneficial operations of the respective vices. Not only does the town have two McDonald's (which seems a little overambitious, apart from anything else), they have two generous and sizeable shopping centres, stationed right across from one another, and consisting of much the same sort of business. (Basically, they've both got a Woolies in them and that's about it). It's avarice competing with avarice, and I'm really not quite sure how it's all going to end. And I suppose you could say the same thing about this blog post, except I suppose we all know where that is going to
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