Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Setting Hollywood to rights

Wandering through the main street of Bright yesterday, I came upon a poster which made me sit up (or would have done so, if I had not already been standing up, making sitting up rather difficult). A movie poster, which informed me that Ashton Kutcher starred in JOBS, a movie of the life and times of Apple company founder Steve Jobs.

This fact, of an actor (presumably alive) playing the role of a company founder (recently dead) would not have caused me quite so much wonderment but for the fact that a whole lot of actors seem to be doing similar things lately. The lives of the famous have become so cheap that shortly after they are dead - sometimes before they are dead - though not, the producers of these films must hope, while they are dying - it is almost inevitable that an actor will manifest in a film about their life playing the part of, well, them. Naomi Watts plays Princess Diana in Diana, Helen Mirren plays the Queen in The Queen, Michael Sheen plays David Frost and Frank Langella plays Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness, and there we have a whole host of famous actors playing famous non-actors in famous films about famous existences that in many cases are continuing to exist. 

It is not so much the unethicality of this, the fact that moviemakers are now in the habit of co-opting the lives and the histories of others for mere entertainment purposes often while the lives and histories are still occurring - though there's that too - that gets me so much as the sheer absurdity. Can it be long before there is a film starring famous actor A playing famous person B, including a part in which famous person B meets famous actor A (played by famous actor C) to discuss a film in which famous actor A will be playing the role of famous person B? Is there any escape from this inevitable endless spiral of self-reference? I notice this actually almost happens in a film coming out just recently, in which Emma Watson plays P L Travers meeting Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney in a film produced by Walt Disney studios about the making of a former film produced by Walt Disney studios starring Julie Andrews playing a character written by P L Travers called Mary Poppins (and if you're not following me, I'm not either). The film, mystifyingly, is called Saving Mr Banks, though it is clearly about famous people meeting other famous people being played by more famous people while making a famous film about the making of another famous film by a famous film studio based on a previous famous book, and Mr Banks is definitely not a famous person, film, studio, or book, otherwise we'd have heard of him by now. Apart from in the title of this film now, I mean, although I suppose that would make it a famous....

(Excuse me while I rub my temples for a second...)

Anyway, take home message is this: I am Somewhat Disturbed by This Relatively Minor Development That Is Possible of No Consequence Whatsoever In Our Culture And Demand That It Be Stopped Immediately. Thank you for your time.

Monday, December 30, 2013

I am holding a bag of poo

I am holding a bag of poo. I am holding a bag of poo, and it seems I have always been holding this bag of poo. It is a clear plastic bag, one of those ones you get from the supermarket to put your fruit in. It is not holding fruit anymore, nor is it likely to again. Let us pause to examine this bag, containing poo, in a spirit of scientific curiosity and scholarly analysis; let us hold it up twisting and turning in the light so we may learn more about what it contains within. The object it contains within, as we already know, is poo: it is a good example of its kind, rather more green than brown, and more of a sloppy, chaotic sort than a coherent oblong which maintains its shape; parts of the poo have clung to the sides of the bag, and I am naturally careful not to touch those sides of the bag: rather, I grasp it fastidiously around the knot at the top.

I am holding a bag of poo, and I am walking down the hill with this bag. One does not normally find a person wandering through town with a bag of poo: where did I get this bag of poo from?  I got it at the top of the hill, from the Baron. The Baron herself got this bag of poo from Wilbur, the beagle, who had shortly before deposited the poo thoughtfully on a spot of ground, surrounded by leaves and dirt, before perfunctorily kicking a bit of dirt up around it with his legs.

I have often thought that there is a perfect poetry to the way dogs perform this office, and that the human habit of picking up these poos in bags and wandering off into town to dispose of them is an entirely inconvenient and ill-thought through custom. Let us consider the alternative: a dog deposits his or her manure on a piece of soil and wanders off. Soon, the natural forces of the sun and the wind have worked upon this rich excreta and its powerful and pungent aromas have dissipated into the environment: it is now dry and ready to dissolve into the earth. Next, the rain goes to work upon it: soon it is dispersed; in a matter of weeks, we will not even know that the poo has been there at all. In the meantime, the rich nutrients have seeped down into the soil, providing food, nourishment, and life for a future generation of plants. On the whole, it seems far better than wandering about town holding a bag of poo. A bag in which the poo can easily be seen. A bag which is becoming increasingly inconvenient as time progresses.

Poo causes a number of difficulties in ordinary social interactions, I find. That is, if the poo is in a bag and you are holding it, as I am. One cannot simply carry on gregariously interacting with one's neighbours and companions as if it were an ordinary day, for neither they nor you (by which I mean me) will be able to ignore the fact that you (I) are holding a bag of poo. I find that I am walking around behind cars to avoid these moments of social meeting and greeting, I am become one with the shadows; I quickly skit across to the other side of the street when I see another person approaching with a smile on their face. I am afraid I may seem quite rude.

 But then again, perhaps I am taking entirely the wrong approach. Perhaps I ought to display my social virtue (though I find little virtue in it) and ostentatiously wave the bag of poo around as I speak to others. It's all right: the bag is neatly tied up, the poo is naturally inclined to stick to the sides anyway, and nothing will leak out. Probably. We are, after all, obliged to pick up a dog's poo (as much as we may object), and I ought to let other people know that I have indeed obliged. Perhaps I should approach people on the other side of the street, in their yards, young and old, crying "HELLO! I AM HOLDING A BAG OF POO!" Perhaps I should offer to shake their hand, after switching the bag of poo to the other hand. Perhaps I should disarm them by saying: "It's all right. You can shake my hand. You know exactly where it's been".

It causes so many social difficulties, holding a bag of poo. It's hard to know what to do.

Though putting it in a bin at some point usually helps.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Another exciting episode in this ongoing Christmas drama!

The Sorrows of Santa


Swept up on a sleigh ride beyond her control, young beautiful heiress Josephine de Lilipoos finds herself forced to deal with reindeer, pirates.... and the passions of a devilishly handsome but mysteriously aloof jolly fat man in a red suit.

Josephine swept a tormented hand through her lustrous flaxen locks as she peered anxiously through her ravishing blue eyes at her enigmatic captor at the other end of the bejewelled sleigh. His twinkling yet secretive eyes gazed off broodingly into the far horizon as the wind whipped through the glistening beard that bounced on his bountiful chest. What mysteries lurked behind those two glistening eyes and the fat and red yet somehow regal nose that graced his masculine profile? Why had he swept her up with so little warning on this desperate sleigh ride through the skies? Who was the sinister Krampus that he insisted was about to capture her and sought the famous treasure of the ancient Lilipoos family? All lies, she was sure – and yet, she had enjoyed a level of freedom on this sleigh ride that she had rarely experienced before in her privileged upbringing by her aloof yet beautiful Aunt Mariette de Lilipoos von Marzipain.

She was sure that this Mr Claus, as he had insisted she call her, was holding something back from her – and so the eyes she cast upon him were suspicious, as he turned, booming “Ho ho ho” in that coldly indifferent voice, with his tensed muscles of rippling fat shuddering with passion beneath his fashionable red fur suit.

“Krampus is approaching”, he cried curtly, “We are about to be boarded.” And then again, that cynical laugh cut short his words, and with another “Ho, ho, ho”, he grasped a cutlass from his seemingly bottomless sack and turned to face the vessel which now approached his reindeer-drawn sleigh with defiance. Josephine did not bother asking what he meant; it would not do any good, she knew. She instead flicked a restless flaxen lock from her bright blue eyes and turned herself to face the oncoming ship. Nearer and nearer the oncoming vessel came, borne black and foreboding in front of an oncoming storm cloud. Soon a wild wind was whipping through Claus’s ice-white beard and Josephine’s desperate flaxen locks, and, as a sudden thunderclap illumined the darkening skies, she could see that the vessel was borne by bats. And then she looked up to see Krampus himself – his mouth contorted with some fierce passion, a sabre in his own hands – and, standing beside her, she saw, with a gasp of recognition – her own Aunt Mariette!

She could keep silent no longer, but rushed impetuously forward to stand beside Santa, barely able to check herself from toppling over onto the reindeer bearing the sleigh. “Aunt Mariette, Aunt Mariette!” she cried. “Mr Claus – he has captured me! You have found me at last! Save me! SAVE ME!”

Claus whirled on her then, sweeping her up into his muscular arms. For a moment he said nothing, evidently gathering his thoughts as his angry eyes twinkled upon her, but then he put her from him: “you fool!” he cried. “You should have kept back! You cannot let them know you are here! You have put yourself in grave danger!”

But Josephine could not be stopped from shouting, and in an instant, the sinister black vessel was upon them and Krampus, laughing – his own, unrestrained “Hewgh! Hewgh! Hewgh!” compared to Claus’s calculated “Ho!” – was engaged in a deadly battle of swords with Santa himself! Suddenly, Santa’s men – the strange little elves – were upon Krampus, attempting to subdue him – but with a sudden fierce cut of his sabre, he threw them off as one, his eyes blazing with sadistic glee. And then he had subdued her captor: “Move another inch and you lose your life, Claus!” snarled Krampus, at the same time sweeping Josephine up in his other bony arm and leaping back to his own vessel.

In moments Santa was back to the bow of his sleigh: “I will find you, Krampus!” he cried. “I will find you and save her – if it is the last thing I do! HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!” And in that final, defiant laugh, Josephine thought at last she had caught a glimpse of the depths of passion that lay within that trim red jacket and the broad chest of this inscrutable man who had taken her halfway around the world....

“Take her below the hold!” cried Krampus, turning the wheel of the vessel in his gnarled grasp. “We must lose him in the storm!”

That's all for now, kids! Tune in next Christmas for even less!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Looking forward to your presents?

For Christmas I got you some mouldy old socks,
And a tweed jacket smelling of tar;
A flea-bitten hat in what's left of a box,
A mangy old cat that looks half like the pox,
A worn leather suitcase that is filled up with rocks,
And a card that says, "you're a star". 

They came from the leprous old man on the hill.
He thought them exceptionally fine - 
He loved and he cherished them each day until
He caught a disease and fell horribly ill
He knew that you'd care so he wrote out a will - 
Except for the card. That was mine. 

This Christmas I got you some love and devotion
With the dirt and the dust of the years - 
A vague reassurance, a cosy old notion,
A pleasant if somewhat uncertain emotion,
A comfort curled up in a jar of hand lotion
And a teacup brimful of tears. 

They came from the verminous man on the hill: 
He'd been saving them up, you see. 
He didn't need much but he kept them still,
Somedays he'd take some with his afternoon pill,
He thought that you'd like them so gave you them all - 
And the card, of course, was from me.

A poem from my soon-to-be-forthcoming and maybe even forthcomingly soon-to-be Christmas edition of Badger's Dozen (so late this year that it will be out a day or so after Christmas Day). You're welcome.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sing along, kids! It's time for carols with the politically-correct pedants!

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
(And technically we really didn't need to sing that three times as the message would have been conveyed if we sung it only once.)

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is quiet (although of course if the night is 'silent', as specified in the first line and indeed the title of this piece, it goes without saying that it will also be 'quiet')
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
(It is an open question just what the writer of this carol means by 'round yon virgin', whether there is something that is 'round' the 'virgin' that happens to be 'yon', or whether it is the virgin herself that happens to be 'round', which would be possible if she had actually happened to deliver a child, according to the story, although it is highly doubtful whether that story is accurate because a 'virgin' does not normally have a child at all, does she, and anyway, virginity is really a hackneyed social constructed designed to perpetuate the power of the patriarchy.)

Hark the herald angels sing
(One wonders whether the carol writer was really thinking this one through. Are the herald angels the ones singing 'hark', or are we merely meant to 'hark' ourselves to the fact that the herald angels are apparently singing? It is enough to wish for clarification by means of quotation marks, although they would be difficult to sing, but perhaps some rudimentary marks of punctuation could be conveyed to the audience by means of deft hand gestures?)
Glory to the newborn king
(This is more clear, although in this democratic and republican day and age one has to question the viability of the concept of 'king', I mean, really)

Away in a manger (although inevitably the question arises, away from what? Or did the singers mean 'a way' in a manger, implying that somebody somehow something or someone was having 'a way' in a manger, although it is still hopelessly unclear just what this way is)
No crib for a bed (another redundancy: this is perfectly clear from the first line)
The little Lord (bah, another outdated aristocratic reference) Jesus
Lay down his sweet head (did someone lick it?)
The stars in the night sky (typically where stars are to be seen)
Looked down where he lay (ridiculous! Stars do not have eyes!)
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay (yet another redundancy!)

That's all for now kids! Tune in next time for another tedious over-literal analysis of your favourite songs!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We wish you terrifying horrifying bad existential angst a Merry Christmas....

At around about this end of the year, it's traditional in Australia for people to take a break from their work, descend on their relatives in the countryside for peace and quiet, then have other relatives descend on them looking for the same peace and quiet, possibly followed by still more relatives, and a dog, and two cats, and six chickens, or is that eight chickens, which results in a not particularly peaceful and rather unquiet situation indeed. Then everyone says merry Christmas, awkwardly gives one another presents, descends back on the spot they originally descended from (which sounds physically, if not metaphorically, impossible), frantically looking to have a break from the break they just had. Usually this period of concentrated energy at the end of the year is swiftly followed by a period of existential angst in the beginning of the new year, where the people who have taken time off work find they still have some time off left to deal with all the time off they had been taking, causing them to drift aimlessly around the town, suburb, or city wondering what to do with themselves.

This year, of course, it's not so much that I'm taking a break from work as work is taking a break from me. No, not unemployment (again), just the usual sources of my transcripts are closing down so they can wander off into the countryside themselves in their own frantic flurry of children and animals and relatives and boxes of chocolate with the price stickers peeled off. But one must not shirk one's duties, even if it does not actually say in any books that those are one's duties, because as we all know, those duties are the most important duties of all, and so we'll be heading off tomorrow.

(As an aside, why is it, do you suppose, that people always take a break in the countryside? And why is it in the countryside that they always try and get away from things? Quite aside from all the frantic energy that taking a break ends up involving, it's physically impossible to get away from things in the countryside: the countryside is full of things, almost as many, and possibly more things, than in the city, so that if you would want to get away from things altogether, then you would not be doing any getting away from things in the countryside at all).

I don't imagine I'll be completely offline, but on the other hand I wouldn't count on me being online either. So, in the meantime, here is a handy checklist of the pertinent points that I expecting to be encountering at some point in my country sojourn:

- Children
- Trees
- Cows
- Beer
- Grass
- The odd river or two
- Icecream
- Pudding
- Sky
- Terrifying moments when I'm not sure what the right thing to say or do is and saying the wrong thing will almost inevitably end up in an horrific form of death or worse but which I will usually end by saying 'thank you for the lovely present'.
- More pudding.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The four stages of the 19th century performance poet

Komninos has a poem called 'The four stages of the performance poet'. The word 'fuck' features frequently. It occurred to me last night that I might write a 19th century performance poet version of this. Like all 19th century performance poems, of course, it rhymes, and it also has a teapot in it, which I think gives it some extra gritty realism:

The four stages of the 19th century performance poet

1) Bother you lot! 

2) Bother me not!

3) Bother them, what?

4) Bother it, it's time for elevenses chaps, I'll put some leaves in the teapot! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On dog facebook

On dog facebook, there is a lick button instead of a like button.

You join packs, not groups.

If you wish you can leave thoughtful wees on dog facebook posts.  It's amazing what web coding lets you do these days.

Profile pictures are mostly of bottoms. No-one thinks this is particularly strange or offensive.

Of course, cats are the moderators.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Television versus book versus parent versus Tim

While staying with my parents, I have had an opportunity to catch up with the art of reading while the television is on right in front of you. The art of reading while the television is on right in front of you is an interesting one, really, an art simple, yet complex, like learning how to pat your stomach while riding your bike: once you know how to do it, you don't. It is easy enough to read while the television is on right in front of you back at home in Lalor, because we never have the television on and thanks to the internet we never read either (we prefer to have information intravenously injected through the wireless internet, as this is the most efficient option available). The parents, though, are happily devoted to the quaint custom of watching the television. Remember that time, years ago, when television was supposed to be a dreadful new technology that would cause the collapse of society as we know it and cause the third world war too? No, I don't either.

So, reading while the television is on right in front of you is difficult at the best of times, because while you are reading, say, some essay about the importance of education, you will find that the words, The importance of education to the moral well being of society somehow get mixed up so that you might as well be reading, society of being well moral the, backwards for all the sense it is making to you. You struggle to keep your eyes off the screen, where somebody incredibly photogenic is saying something astonisingly witty for the benefit of several other profoundly witty people, but somehow all you can focus on in your book is a few random words, moral fibre, practice of, the, which fall meaninglessly upon your inner ear and you find yourself instead gazing, transfixed, at the television screen. You scratch your mouth absent-mindedly and you find it is actually forty-five minutes later and you have been drooling. In the minds of that great (ha!) modern genius, Rove McManus, What the?

Then your parents change the channel to SBS to watch a show in which incredibly photogenic people do not speak English at all, but some other language from a country in a sort of northerly direction on the other side of the world. This, you would think, is fortuitous: now it will be quite easy to read your dull essay about The importance of education in modern society in peace, and you open the book to do just that, but of course simple things never are that simple, are they? And all of a sudden you find, instead of being able to read a word of your essay, you are actually focusing on the non-English words that you cannot understand but which sound something like German spoken by Swedish people in Dutch accents for a Danish audience who have been living in Copenhagen all their lives, and you start to try to make meaning out of those words. Meanwhile, you have been trying at the same time to read the book in your hands, but the word sares tartingtom ergetogetherinod dandr ando mways andtheenglishyouoncethoughtyouknewsowellsee msto mak e veryl itt lesen seindee d.

You clap your book shut with a decisive gesture. No, it seems you will not get any reading done while the television is on right in front of you at all. Instead, you open up your computer to engage in a spot of blogging.

"What are you doing?" your mother asks curiously....

Things ranked in numerical order of importance

Things ranked in numerical order of importance, with number one being the most important

Toast spreads

1. Honey.
2. Marmalade.
3. Cherry jam.
4. Blackberry jam.
5. Strawberry jam.
6. Vegemite. 

Marmalade and honey are effectively interchangeable, as the fruity piquancy of marmalade is rather special; however, there are few things that can top the rich, liquid gold taste of honey. 

Alcoholic beverages

1. Beer.
2. Wine.


1. Couches.
2. Tables.
3. Seats.

Couches are wonderfully all-purpose, since they can effectively act as seats, tables, and beds, often all at once.

Caffeinated beverages

1. Coffee.
2. Tea.
3. Kaluah.


1. Faith.
2. Hope.
3. Love. 

Of course, from St Paul.

Football teams

1. The Richmond Tigers.
2. The rest.


1. Chocolate.

Augustine age writers

1. Dr Samuel Johnson.
2. Christopher Smart.
3. John Swift.
4. Alexander Pope.


1. 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111.112
2. 2. 

The parts of a book

1. The middle
2. The start.
3. The end.

An observation concerning breakfast

I am in Raymond Terrace with my parents and brother for a few days, and yesterday morning I noticed something very strange about the way my brother eats his Nutri Grain. First he douses the cereal liberally in milk, then before commencing to eat, he pats each individual Nutri Grain with the back of a spoon so it goes under and gets a good dousing. This reminded me somewhat of the way I used to sip the little bits of milk that collected in the individual hollows of the Nutri Grain.

Mind you, Dad has his own special way of eating Weet Bix (his regular cereal). He crumbles it all up and then pours milk over it, which seems rather strange to me as part of the fun of eating Weet Bix (I haven't eaten Weet Bix for a long time admittedly but I remember this as part of the fun) was dousing the individual Bix (is 'Bix' its own plural?) in milk and then enjoying the contrast between the soggy outside and crunchy innards. Of course, Dad, also has a very methodical way of eating sausages and pies: he cuts them up into individual portions before putting sauce on them and proceeding to eat them.

Strange? Don't be ridiculous! It's everyone else that is strange!

I have my own way of eating cereal: many of the cereals that I regularly buy (Sultana Bran, Weeties, etc) will somehow clump in the bowl so that if you pour milk so it comes right to the surface of the cereal, there will be a lot of milk left over after you have finished eating breakfast. Noticing this, I devised a method of pouring only so much milk so that is very little residue left in the bowl and yet all the flakes will be wet. It is fun drinking the left-over milk, flavoured by the cereal, but not so much fun as to want to be wasteful for that reason.

This has been my very noteworthy observation concerning breakfast.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


Was flicking through my notebook when I found this.

"And now for a long quote from a much shorter work of mine that I wrote tomorrow".

I think that sums it up nicely.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What do we want? More Russian structuralism! When do we want it? Now!

Lawyers. Doctors. Politicians. Have you ever noticed, these people are hogging all the news? And the occasional atomic physicist and potato farmer, but mostly the first three, because yes, if you break the law you go to jail, if you get sick it's probably a doctor who will stop you from dying, and it's going to be a politician who is in charge of the multinational missile defence strategy that could end in us all horribly dying if he makes the wrong decision. But I mean, seriously, we've heard all this stuff before.

You know what I want to see more of on the news? Literature academics with an expertise in structuralist narrative theory! Epistemological philosophers with a groundbreaking interpretation of Kant! Piccolo players specialising in obscure 12-tone works by Schoenberg and Boulez! The exclamation marks are coming after their names because these are all exciting people with exciting things to say but most of all because the lawyers, doctors, politicians and other boring experts in boring expert fields are taking up all the air time and it's just not FAIR.

Think about it: "There are reports of a shattering new historiographical analysis of Vladimir Propp's structural theories about fairytale narrative, and to find out more about this we'll cross live to...." There would be riots in the street if this news got out! There would be broken windows and angry men burning cars and calling on the government to do something about it somehow, or at least they would if anybody knew what "a historiographical analysis of Vladimir Propp's structural theories" actually meant, that is, apart from the academic about to be interviewed. And what about poor old piccolo players with a love for mid-20th century atonal works? When do they get their riots? Where are the tabloid stories breaking the latest news about epistemological analysis into the works of Immanuel Kant, the top-level international talks held to resolve the ensuing philosophical crisis, the simmering tensions threatening to break out into an all out philosophical disagreement, the continuing negotiations between conflicting parties while the world watches biting its nails and there are interviews with Kantians, neo-Kantians, post-Kantians, and all manner of philosophical cogitators, ponderers, meditators, and what not.

I really think the news media is missing out on the big story here. I'll bet there's a riot any day now to sort this all out....

Adventures in dream poetry

Had a dream last night that I was watching a long-haired performance poet of the male American variety give a recitation. For one of his pieces, he held up two mirrors and a book in between them, and said "This is a love song between two mirrors and a book". I have no idea what he said next but we all found it wildly hilarious.

I was curious to see what this poem would actually be like, so I wrote it. (Or rewrote it)?

Don't think I quite managed to recapture the hilarity of the moment (hey, I suppose you had to be there). It is still achingly pretentious, however.

Love song between two mirrors and a book

I love you
It seems for years I have been gazing into your face gazing into the face of me as I gaze into you
Through the endless ramifications of existence, there is only me in you and you in me and us in them
We are the world, or there is no world, or we have consumed the world
Do I reflect your lines or do you line my reflections
Is there start is there end or is there time without end
If existence is but thought what is time to such as we, who is I, the ultimate solipsism
And so here we are, for there can be no other place, and no other when,
And we have eternity to contemplate these subtle imbrications on the fabric of reality
What is reality
Why is a hot cross bun
How long until a string quartet
Wherein lies the inherent courage of a crème brulee
And for forever we will, as forever we have, dance across the receding landscape of our images, sweet torment of eternity,
Unfold your pages for me, dear book,
Hold me in your recursive imagery, shimmering, dear mirror,
I shall be your moon. I shall be your earth. I shall be your stars. I shall be your quasar. We shall be the galaxy.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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