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Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's all in the deliverance

(When this blog began, it was a miracle of modern snarkness and nothing but... But today with all the funny stuff taking place over at Snarkeology (er, sometimes), whale sushi has become slightly more of a traditional blog -- you know, where I moan about stuff and you empathise.)

I did stand-up again last night at The Venue in Erindale which is down Wanniassa way (way way down in the deep south, like Western Sydney only colder, more spacious and fringed with some lovely hills).

Six comics plus 'The King of Comedy' as MC. We each got $50 for ten minutes work (which was only three hours from turning up to actually gettting paid, not including preparation time). The crowd began small but wound up an OK size, perhaps 20 not including comedians.

The Venue as a venue was pretty good if you could screen out the mullets and flannies wandering through on their way to the knock-out pool comp. The Venue is apparently keen to keep it going and is even talking about sponsorship from Coopers, god love em...

My set (a combination of a couple of previous sets) went pretty well frankly. Got lots of plaudits from fellow comics and several audience members. It was funny watching some of the others -- one went absolutely brilliantly and had the room in the palm of hand while a couple had poor showings, letting themselves down with indifferent delivery. Casualness, faux-sloppiness can be funny but if taken too far it just looks like a failure to prepare...

Wrote a short bit for the night about the remoteness of Wanniassa (seriously its a 25 minute frickin drive down there -- I know that sounds short by Sydney standards but its a long way on nearly empty 110km/h roads) which went well. Was afraid I might get tarred and feathered but not the case.

Next gig is Wedneday, 5 September at the Greenroom at the University of Canberra. Apparently they're selling tickets to it....!

You can also see the other comedians (but not me) at the Soul Bar in Woden from about 7 next Wednesday.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stand-down comedy

As I mentioned when last we spoke, I did stand-up comedy at the Front Cafe and Gallery in Lyneham last wednesday (every 2nd Wednesday of the month!). Unlike last time. when the room was packed, we had just eleven people. I blame the Gregorian calendar.

Still, did my thing. Didn't go quite as well as last time. Never more than eleven laughs simultaneously. Haw haw. But even so, not quite as well as last time. Tried to do it without cards or prompts. Got stuck twice...

But here's the news: the dude who books this stuff is now organising 4 venues every month. The Front every 2nd wednesday. Next week (3rd Wednesday!): the Venue in Erindale/Waniassa and then the Green Room at the University of Canberra (1st Wednesday?) and also the Soul Bar in Woden (unidentified Wednesday).

Astonishingly the gig in Erindale is paid. $50 for ten minutes work. I'v gone from being a newbie to one of the comedy gang in about 2 gigs...

Anyway, come along one night and say hello.

Also, laugh.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More stand-up!

Doing stand-up comedy again at the Front Cafe and Gallery in Lyneham, this Wednesday 8 August from 8pm.

Also, doing city 2 surf on the weekend. Anyone driving back from Sydney on Sunday?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lesser known 'walks into bar' jokes

[Cross-posted at Snarkeology]

[Jokes have been sorted into categories to aid enjoyment. Punch-lines have been italicized to aid the obtuse]

Animal misogyny humour
A man walks into a bar with a Shetland pony and orders a beer. The barman says: ‘we don’t serve ponies in here.’

The man says: ‘That’s no pony. That’s my wife.’ The pony whinnies and then the man says: ‘Shut up bitch, I’ll get you a fucking bloody mary when I’ve finished my beer.’

Department of Finance humour
A Treasury official walks into a bar and orders a round of drinks for his friends.

Professional regulation humour
Three brain surgeons walk into a bar and one of them orders drinks saying:
‘Three beers, my good man, and make it snappy – my colleagues and I are operating in twenty minutes.’

And the bar man replies: ‘Being a barman is only a part-time job. My full-time job is as chair of the Medical Professional Standards Review Board. And I’ll being bringing you up on charges of Consumption of Alcohol while on Duty. I must also say that your rude and demeaning attitude to perceived inferiors will not help you as you defend your case before a sitting of the full review board in August.

Inappropriate disability humour
A blindman walks into a bar and orders a beer. He says to the barman: ‘lot of weather we’ve been having.’

And the barman replies: ‘That’s not weather. The other patrons are pouring their drinks on you as well as spitting and urinating on you.

European Union humour
An Englishman, Irishman and a Frenchman walk into a bar and order three beers.

The barman says: ‘well, it’s just gone closing time but I suppose there’s no harm in getting your order’

To which the Irishman replies: ‘well actually we’re officers of the Directorate of Economic and Corporate Affairs, Consumer Division, Liquor Licensing Branch, Investigations Inspectorate, Beer & Allied Beverages Unit. That simple decision to serve three drinks is probably going to cost your entire livelihood.’

And the barman replies: ‘Actually your ad hoc judgment in this affair seems clearly inconsistent with clause 17 of European Directive 31 of 2005 (‘Transitional Arrangements for Certain Types of Business Establishments’). Also, this is Latvia and you have no jurisdiction here until 2009.’

South African humour, circa 1968
A black man walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bar man says: ‘we don’t serve kaffirs in here. Get out.’

The black man replies: ‘Your attitude seems somewhat unreasonable. I have only walked into this public bar seeking momentary refreshment. I will drink up and leave presently.’

‘It’s not unreasonable. This is South Africa circa 1968. Didn’t you read the title to this joke? Stupid kaffir!

Soviet humour circa 1921
A Bolshevik walks into a menshevik bar and orders a beer. The barman says: ‘We don’t serve Bolsheviks.’

And the Bolshevik replies: ‘Oh but shortly you will. At the recent Party Conference, our faction seized control of the Politburo. All of Russia now belongs to us. The other Republics will follow swiftly. Also, your wife and children and currently being transported to a reeducation camp in Novosibirsk.’

Sexual non-sequitur humour

A man walks into a lesbian bar, stands next to two lesbians kissing passionately and orders a drink: ‘I’ll have what she’s having and also two small bowls of pork scratchings.’

Professional non-sequitur meta-humour
Three agronomists walk into a bar and order a beer. The first agronomist places a large mound of cow manure on the bar. The second puts a large pile of sheep manure next to it. The third follows this up with what appears to be human faeces but is actually artfully sculpted alpaca manure.

The barman stares at the three agronomists silently for 30 seconds before he says: ‘there had better be an unholy punchline to this joke to justify putting all this shit on my bar.’

The first agronomist says: ‘punchline?’
The second says: ‘joke?’
The third says: ‘bar?’

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stand-up for your love rights

Did Stand-up tonight at the Front cafe and gallery in Lyneham as part of a regular monthly gig they have with about 7 or 8 comics on the Bill including an MC who came up from Melbourne (oooh Melbourne, edgy)

I gotta say I loved it. I think I did pretty well, got some good laughs, some good ad-libs. I felt very comfortable.

This was my third time doing stand-up. I also did Raw Comedy in 2004 and 2006 when I really didn't feel like I performed to my expectations -- just came away disappointed. But this, this was great.

But the August gig is booked out -- I probably won't get on the bill so may have to wait until September...

Monday, July 09, 2007

City meet surf, knees meet your doom

Yes, I've just signed up for the City2Surf fun run. Any other local [local to the run, I'll have to travel to be a local for this] bloggers feel like coming for a run? We could carry a giant banner that says: "Super blog friends make the best friends!!!"

Huh.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

[Cross-posted at Snarkeology.]

[I was walking down the street, whistling and minding my own business, when I saw a car hit a tree and burst into flames. Heroically and without a thought for my own safety, I pulled the driver from the burning wreck which was just seconds away from exploding. She turned out to be J.K. Rowling and in return for my selfless deed she handed me a page from her new book, the final Potter installment, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows. I present it here for your interest.]


In an earlier scene of the uh, movie which hasn't been made yet, Hermione and Harry discuss quidditch tactics when Ron notices a mysterious ghostly sandwich for the first time. Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Mama Cass Elliot looks on, disgusted at their lack of respect for the new Minister for Magic, Mal Brough (not pictured).

Before Harry could react Voldemort raised his wand and another jet of green light streaked at him, knocking him to the cold flagstones of the crypt.

"You are a fool to defy me, Harry, like your parents were, like Dumbledore was." A dark smirk spread across the Dark Lord's ashen features like a slick of oil. "Only your fate will not be destruction, your fate will be to rule the world at my right hand."

"No!" Harry screamed and dove across the floor towards his wand but Voldemort moved quickly, too quickly.

"Paralytica!" He said and Harry felt something cold brush against his heart. He fell to the stone again, harder this time where he remained, staring upwards, seeing and hearing all. In a twirl of his cloak, Voldemort transformed hismelf into the image of Ron, grinning fiercely in a sickening parody of Harry's friend's true smile.

And then Harry heard a noise which almost stopped his heart. Hermione. He suddenly heard her voice and her careful footsteps. No! Harry screamed within his silent rigid body. No! Get away! That's not Ron! But it was no use, he was unable to make even the smallest sound.

"Oh, Ron," she said. "Ron! I was so afraid that you'd be hurt! And where is Harry?" 'Ron' gestured down at Harry's supine form.

"It's OK, he's just sleeping. Old Voldy must have hit him with some pretty powerful stuff before he went down. Pooped poor Harry out and now he needs a rest. He'll be fine. Here, have something to eat. I bet you haven't eaten since breakfast. You're no good to Harry starving to death, are you? Eat this." Ron/Voldemort produced a strangely glowing sandwich from under his coat which Harry immediately recognised as the fearsome throat-blocking Deathly Hallows sub. No! He screamed silently inside again. No!

'Well I am a little peckish,' Hermione said, tearing delicately at the sandwich with her small incisors. And then it began. The terrible choking which Harry had observed in Hogsmeade. The choking from which there was no return."

Amazing stuff, huh? Bad luck about Hermione, eh? Still, Harry gets Voldemort in the end.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Woe is freakin' me (out)

I just found this old post of Killer-rabbit's (took a while to get around to my customary ego-surfing).

(Yes, this is another 'why don't people like me?' post. And yes I've been doing a few of these of late. And yes, this is a large part of the reason for the birth of Snarkeology. But this is a different kind of whiny post. This is a whiny post looking for answers.)

I used to post a when crustaceans attack and then took an 18-month hiatus and came back with this site. Periodically, people tell me (as KR did above): 'dude you are teh shit, teh funy and probably teh spunky hotness too for all I can see. I want to have your little comedy babies.' This is nice -- don't get me wrong, this is not what I'm whining about.

It's the fact that despite that surely though I'm on the 48th percentile of quality bloggers in a world of 7 billion bloggers (everybody on Earth has at least one, some have two) I can't seem to pull much in the way of readership. My all time high is 43 hits in a day (and the bottom is about 5). Some other bloggers bend down to scratch themselves and come back to find more hits than that...

Also -- not so many comments but I suspect these two things are linked in some unknowable fashion.

It is with pointless life-characterising envy that I see other newer bloggers zoom past me in the readership department. Wuhuh?

So what am I doing wrong? What am I not doing at all?

Comments, er, welcome. Please don't feel the need to just say 'dude you are teh lite of teh world, please don't ever bring the darkness for it will be a world of teh pain for teh me' because as nice as that is (and it is nice!) I just want to avoid making the mistakes of the past (which Germany wasn't able to do so why should I be any different?)

Are the any particular technical tricks that work a treat? Someone I should be sleeping with? (Because I tried that with my wife and it doesn't bring me any hits I can tell you).

And I promise promise promise this will be the last such whiny post until the next one.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Snarkeology is up

The new group blog Snarkeology is up!

And oh my God is it punk rock! (In a very minimal, early, garage band kind of way where everyone is 15 and the guitarist hasn't turned up yet because he has soccer practice).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

'During this brief lull in combat'.... or: Group Blog Update

During this brief lull in combat, I am able to hastility type this post from my position underneath my desk, while my Heckler & Koch MP-40, still warm from its recent exercise, rests upon my knee.

Diary entry from 28 June 2007:

"Things are going well. Too well, I thought warily, as another round of small arms fire began, interrupted only by the chilling crump-crump-crump of penetrative avocado grenades (don't ask) hitting the exterior of the small medieval castle on the Dalmation Coast where my forces have sought respite. The floor is littered with the corpses of spotted dogs and I must say I like it that way. It seems festive somehow and celebratory without insulting the memory of those who have already paid the highest price for the righteous cause of the establishment of the world's 12 millionth group blog (but perhaps the best yet)."

Looking back on those words now, how foolish they seem, how stinking with the unworthy innoncence of an earlier time. I am almost ashamed to read them. War is indeed hell and blogging is war-like hell. I wish I could smell something other than the burst pustules on the end of my typing fingers. How they mock me!

* * *

Just kidding! Everything is going swell. It's a big-fat love-fest; everyone is sitting around on velour cushions, peeling grapes and french-kissing each others' schnauzers.

Group blog, fresh with fresh new name should freshen the intertubes shortly and what a breath of fresh air it will be! Team members or occasional contributors still welcome. Must provide own prosethetic knee-joint.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ideas for names of the new group blog

Your comments are welcome unless I disagree with them and then they become a problem.

‘Funny’ ‘rhymes’
Chimp on the Barbie
Open Heart Perjury
Bait and Twitch (or Berate and Twitch)
Scrote Couture
Ringing in the Brain
Babies with Rabies
Venereal Unease

Maybe too long for a name, maybe a tag?
Satellite images of fat men crying while eating
Too many dwarves, not enough donkeys (is the reason why 27% of all orgies fail)
Are you there, God? It’s me, Satan.
Us 1, Taste 0.
Not as good as a kick in the teeth
light & tangy post-industrial effluent

Other Stuff I quite like and not just because I thought of it
Crushed Trachea Quarterly
Cream Pus
The hills have knees
The Karma trading scheme
Unisex disabled parenting room
Aardvark Slurry
Foamy Residue
Sticky & Slippery
Who would Jesus do?

Things people not me have suggested and I am now putting up here in some vague and offensively hollow gesture towards democracy
Hello, Dali
Susan Shocks
Globulous Infesticules
Your karma ran over my dogma (18000 hits on google – just sayin’)
Acronyms are A-OK
Bubonic Plagiarism

Names I've thought of that my wife likes
(ouch!)

Friday, June 22, 2007

State of the blog report

Well, planning for the new group blog is going swimmingly. Lots of hugging and positivity -- no decisions whatsoever.

The upshot is: the beast seems to have legs (which all good beasts need). Me, jo-blogs, tim von sterne and tim, er, tim will be the principal dudes with occasional throw-ins from the like of pub-man or mick or the mysterious beermonkey.

Original blogs (including this one) will seemingly remain with material to be cross-posted on the new site. Or something.

But first we need a name -- something, funny, punchy, rude, erudite, wacky, kitsch, cutting edge and sexy. Suggestions welcome. Also welcome are suggestions as to good existing names that we might subtly feed upon like angry dwarven parasites.

Any others takers? I'm looking at you, Petstarr,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ending it all…it’s all too hard to go on

[Update: can all the exciting people who want to be part of a brighter, gentler tomorrow please email me on whale-sushi [at] wizardof.id.au ?]

Gosh, what a dramatic title! Almost sounds as if I’m going to top myself. Which I’m not.

Except maybe in blog terms. I’m going through one of those down phases about blogging. Actually the down phases are a little too frequent to be called phases. I’m all trough and no plateau.

Here’s why: as even casual readers know, I’m a highly talented, lazy and immensely self-regarding twat who craves the constant applause of anyone who will look. (Partly I’m lazy, partly I’m working on the great inner north Canberran novel (which I think has already been written by Francesca Rendle-Short)). But here’s the vicious circle: when I don’t get the applause, I don’t blog. When I don’t blog, I don’t get the applause.

So posting declines in frequency, making whale sushi one of these semi-dead blogs that people stop visting because it smells of decay and hospital grade domestos. For God’s sake, people, all I ever wanted was fame, riches and to have to peel the chicks off with a spatula…

You know what I think the answer is? A group blog. (Radical, yes!) A blog for a small group of funny but insecure bloggers to write stuff occasionally but the hellish curse of having to produce frequent quality content would not fall upon one set of pasty white underdeveloped shoulders alone.

So – any takers?

Remember, if whale sushi falls, then where will tens of misdirected google searchers go every week?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The questions that need asking

Just suppose you had a stroke and collapsed alone on your living room floor. And just suppose as you lay paralysed from the neck down that you were able to sustain yourself by tonguing moisture from your wooden floorboards thanks to a leaking ceiling. And also suppose your cat, lets call him Haskell Moxley for argument's sake, is also trapped inside with you and is relying on that same dripping ceiling.

How many days would need to pass before Haskell began, tentatively, experimentally at first, to nibble at your bare calves?

Some cats I swear it would only be a matter of hours.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The contents page of your character

I had a dream but now I can’t remember it

Martin Luther King famously had a dream but then he had to tell every about it. Don’t you hate those people.

It’s all: ‘I had a dream. Daryl Somers was trying to sell me a women’s prison in Lithgow while William Shakespeare was eating Kentucky Fried Chicken.’ Yadda yadda, oh my fascinating subconscious. It’s go-and-refill-your-drink time at parties.

I find King’s speech somewhat depressing.

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’

The content of my character? Do you even know what the content of my character is? It’s weak, small-minded and petty. Cheap and vicious. I certainly don’t want that to be the criterion for how people treat me. The colour of my skin, the amount of money in my wallet (sometimes) – these are all much simpler as far as I’m concerned.

And King’s speech must have been rough on those four little children. They probably wanted to coast through life on the coat tails of a revered (black-skinned) father. But oh no, no nepotism for them – it’s content of the character time. Thanks Dad, thanks for nothing.

Also who knew that Dr King anticipated Baywatch?

‘Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!’

You see what I’m saying? Small-minded. Petty.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Let slip the dogs of negligence….

I was just about to cross the last main road before home the other night (Limestone Ave for Canberrans and those who would love them) when I saw this guy on the other side with two small dogs – Jack Russell terriers, I think. I stopped to wait for the considerable volume of traffic only to see the two little dogs bolt across the road towards me.

‘Oh God those dogs nearly got hit,’ I thought, what an idiot. What an idiot I was, assuming that they would make it across. Assuming that bad things just don’t suddenly happen within a metre of me.

One dog crossed but the slower one… Bam! Yeeeelp! It was knocked by the bumper bar of a 4-wheel drive that hadn’t slowed down at all. It rolled into the gutter and lay there, twisted, unmoving, staring up at me with huge eyes. The other dog now barked excitedly while the owner simply watched from the other side; because the traffic had not let up he was unable to cross. He seemed curiously calm, waiting patiently for the break in traffic.

He was eventually able to cross and walked right past the hit dog to the second dog and put the leish he was carrying on it. I looked down at the struck dog and saw that it was alive and that it had now got up, still in the road, and was walking in a very awkward fashion. I assumed several of its bones were broken. I was worried it might be hit again so I stepped onto the road and picked it up, holding it carefully under the rib cage. Amazingly there was no blood and the dog did not seem to be in pain. I put it down next the other dog and their owner. He was still very calm, talking to the dogs as if they were fetching slippers.

I’ve felt this before, rarely. When you’re in what ought to be an emergency or extreme situation, and yet everything is banal, ordinary, unremarkable. I felt like I ought to be angry and yet the moment was so dull.

‘Mate, try using a leish next time,’ I said, in my best manful chiding tone and crossed the road, looking back at the injured dog which watched me as the man put its leish on too. He had mumbled something, shrugged, in response to my mild telling off.

And then I was around the corner and they were out of sight.

I recounted this sorry to some friends over dinner. One, a female colleague, laughed out loud that I had been so 'insensitive' to a man who ‘was probably suffering from shock at the injury to his pet’. But I didn’t see it that way. I just saw a thoughtless man whose stupidity and negligence had allowed an innocent animal to be injured, possibly seriously, or even killed. I owed him no consideration.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Glass half-full...of human suffering!



Last week I went to the opening of the new Canberra Glassworks Centre. Described as: ‘Built and funded by the ACT Government, Canberra Glassworks is Australia's only cultural centre that is wholly dedicated to contemporary glass art.’

It was built in the old power plant which has mouldered by Lake Burley-Griffin for 40 years since its decommissioning in 1957. As well as an impressive series of workshops, it also has a gallery for glass works. In particular, I was attracted to a small piece of glass art which turned out to be a magic looking glass into the future, limited alas to what is in store for the glassworks centre (otherwise I would have been off to the bookies).

I quickly jotted down the following chronology as it appeared to me through a glass darkly.

26 May 2007: Canberra Glassworks opens to the public.

31 May 2007: First courses in glass art offered to the public.

20 June 2007: Second furnace installed in the hotshop to cope with unexpected demand.

18 July 2007: Two more furnaces added and courses now run 24 hours.

31 August 2007: 68% of all Canberrans and fully 7% of all Australians have now taken one or more courses at Canberra Glassworks. These numbers increase at the rate of 2000 per week. A tent city springs up in the Kingston area to accommodate would-be glass art apprenctices.

30 October 2007: Treasurer Peter Costello proudly announces that the Australian economy grew by 4% in the last quarter, purely on the strength of the so-called ‘glass bubble’. 72% of all Australians now make their living by designing, making, selling or disposing of glass-art or by administrating one of Australia’s 786 Canberra glassworks franchises.

25 December 2007: 102% of all Christmas presents exchanged in 2007 have at least one glass component. Tickle-me see-through Elmo is particularly popular as is the new invisible glass iPod. (Economists are unable to explain how it is possible that the number of glass presents apparently exceeds the total number of all presents. Professor Charles Barreau shrugs during an on-camera interview: ‘I made my reputation as a hardheaded supply-side econometrician but, let’s face it, it’s in no one’s interest to speak ill of glass.’

15 January 2008: ‘Glass’ is now universally capitalized when written. As in ‘the business of Australia is Glass’ or ‘if you’re not for Glass, you’re against Glass’ or ‘Glass does as Glass sees fit’.

31 March 2008: the dark side of Glass becomes apparent as thousands of itinerant glassblowers sleep rough on the streets and try to harass passers-by (typically more successful glassworkers and arts administrators) into buying their tchotchkes : ‘Please mate, anything, give me anything, just buy one o’ me cold-worked, handcrafted baby giraffe tumblers.’ This aspect to the Glass bubble is desperately suppressed by frightened Governments in Canberra and State capitals.

15 May 2008: construction begins on the new Glass bridge to Tasmania using excess glass trinkets. The remaining few independent voices complain of rampant Glass welfare and an all-powerful Glass lobby. Lobbyists for the farmers, big business and Israel complain that the Government ‘doesn’t even bother to return their phone-calls anymore.’

31 May 2008: Feminists speak up about the paucity of nationally recognized female glass artists, complaining about a ‘new Glass ceiling’.

27 June 2008: 89% of all arable land is now covered by Glass.

26 August 2008: work begins on an ambitious project to build a giant Glass computer which will decide once and for all whose work is good and whose is shit.

17 October 2008: DeepGlass comes online and assumes responsibility for all Glass-related Government functions (which is estimated to be 109% of such functions by the Australian Buerau of Glass Statistics).

27 November 2008: DeepGlass goes global and takes over the earth, consigning a miserable humanity to a thousand years of applying for local community development arts grants in triplicate.


So I decided we needed a glass cyborg from the future to return to our present and destroy Canberra Glassworks before it dooms us all. Expect fire-works in a month or two so get your shopping done soon...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Crush your rivals while you change the printer toner!

Hi, welcome to Relax your Way to Success in the Office! I’m Dr Jonathon Straub, author, psychologist and father. You might recognize me from such self-help mediation aides as Break Bread with Buddha: Relaxation for Today’s Bakery and Waste Away and Win: Make Anorexia Work for You!

In a moment I’ll begin and you’ll hear three chimes. But first, remember, if you can stay calm and keep the right attitude, you can go from the mailroom to the boardroom in an afternoon! There’s literally nothing to stop you!

[Brief pause]

[Ding! Ding! Ding!]

For this meditation, if it is possible, sit on a firm cushion which raises the buttocks off the floor so that your body makes a stable base with your head held erect and so that your upper half rises up in a straight line. However please use a chair if this is a strain.

Gently allow your eyes to close and bring your attention to your breath. Just observe your breathing. Allow your body to be still and calm. Allow yourself to be whole and complete in this moment.

And as you sit, picture the most beautiful mountain that you know or have seen or can imagine. Hold this picture in your mind’s eye as you breathe in and out.

Picture the quiet dignity of this mountain rising into the clouds. Imagine the pure white snow that elegantly caps its highest reaches. Now gently, like a sweeping bird, close in on that snow. Feel its coolness. Appreciate its brightness as it reflects the sun perfectly.

Now notice a small pattern of red drops on that snow. Follow those drops across the beautiful snow until you come to a burnished golden throne. Now notice who is sitting in that throne. A King. A King with huge bronzed rippling muscles, with long black hair and a chiseled jaw. He is wearing a leather loin-cloth and a leather breast-plate which can barely contain his awesome frame. He is holding a huge double-headed axe which stands almost as high as the throne and which is the source of the drops of blood you have noticed on the snow. Take a moment, as you gently breathe in and out, to fully comprehend this King in all his awesome terrifying but dignified wholeness.

Now look at his feet. Lying there is a slave girl, shivering slightly in her fur bikini. Her pale mounds of white flesh are wrapped around his giant leather boots. She is gazing up at him, adoring, with large blue eyes. Her golden hair spills around the toes of his boots like melted snow.

Now, become that slave-girl in your mind’s eye. Hold her beautiful image then merge with her to become her in your deepest essence. Imagine her quivering shape as your own.
Now imagine that your boss at work has come to you. Imagine that he or she is this terrible King and you are his slave-girl. Stare up at him with adoring eyes and mentally, spiritually wind yourself at his feet like a compliant snake.

Now imagine he or she has brought you a business proposal, a new project, some software to be customized in-house, whatever you are working on at the moment, whatever is in your minds eye. Read this project plan, read every word of it.

Now, carefully, in your mind’s eye, take every flaw in the plan, every unsustainable idea, every piece of inadequate research or wishful thinking or incomplete financial guess-work and roll them into a ball along with the bloody snow that surrounds you and your King. Scrunch this pink snowball up tightly, scrunch up every valid misgiving you have about this project and hurl it off the mountain into an abyss far below. Now smile at your boss and adore him.

Take this otherwise modest project plan, now free of error, and imagine that is actually a brilliantly conceived plan to conquer the barbarian continent of Entha’Gor and subdue its warlike inhabitants. Hold this plan up so that the sun shines through from above and the snow reflects onto it brightly from below.

In your mind’s eye, say to your boss: ‘I am your loyal slave-girl. You are my awesome King. I lie supine at your feet – in awe of your terrible powers and of the peerless brilliance of your project plan. You will crush Entha’Gor like a bug and I will remain at your feet always.’

Now picture other slave-girls at his feet. Onto their faces, place the faces of your co-workers. If for some reason Entha’Gor remains free and your armies suffer a terrible and humiliating defeat, know absolutely that it is their fault.

You are now ready to succeed in the modern workplace.

Take a few moments to come back to awareness of the room around you. Take as long as you need.

[Ding! Ding! Ding!]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Europe, she is doomed!

Took the 'new' Saab (it's 10 years old) to Kidsafe to get a second anchor point for a kiddie seat fitted... Turns out they can't because, to lapse momentarily into advanced mechanic speak, there's only one ankle-biter seat attachment doo-hickey, right in the centre of the back seat.

Huh.

Curse you Europe and your falling birthrates and its corollary evil of inconsiderate automotive engineering! Curse you and the semi-dried uterus you rode in on!

Still, nice cheese. (But who will eat it?)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Skippy: poet, diplomat, explorer

Continuing my occasional series of posts about ordinary ancient television -- I was watching a couple of episodes of Skippy the other day.

Two things stood out for me.

(1) It was the episode where Buddy or Tommy or Sharky-boy or whatever his name is (the older one, can't remember, don't care) was irritated he had to spend several weeks shepherding around a marine biologist looking at some aspect of coastal biota. But then he discovered that the deadly dull professorial biologist was actually a fox (as they used to say on Diff'rent Strokes) -- a nubile platinum blonde cutie with conical breasts (as was the style in those days).

Anyway when sea-cutie steps off her boat and into the scene, the most amazing music plays. It's all wokka wokka bow wow wokka wokka bow wow. Nothing but wah wah guitar and sleazy sliding trombone.

For Christ's sake, she was a marine biologist, not fishing for five dollar bills in her g-string (which reminds me, where the hell did I leave my wallet...?).

(2) So like the boy Sonny or Shitty or whatever (I know its Sonny -- I'm pretending not to care to remain cool and aloof) scares Skippy by holding up a lobster. Skippy backs into the boat's ignition which sends the boat shooting off causing Sonny to fall and hit his head, knocking him out in the boat. The boat continues to careen out of control in a fairly narrow estuary without a driver (the sea-cutie and Chocky are scuba-diving below).

So like they need to stop this boat fast before it hits the rocks. They've only got an hour or so. But how to get onto the boat as it zooms at 20 000 knots over the sea? Well sea cutie flies over in the helicopter, allowing Stimpy to jump out and land just behind the boat, but dammnit, he can't quite get onto the boat! Somebody needs to let the net down. But who? There's only a kangaroo and an unconscious 12-year old!

Luckily this is no ordinary kanga. It's Skippy, who went to Geelong Grammar and then a small liberal arts college on the east coast where he studied fine arts and law.

Sea-cutie leans out of the chopper and bellows out of a megaphone: 'lower the net, Skippy, lower the net.' She says this a couple of times before the roo wises up.

Oh, lower the net. Gotcha! So a pair of dessicated roo paws enter the shot without, er, the rest of the kangaroo (that's right, they're kanga stunt paws) and they untie the piece of string holding the net up. The net is lowered, Belchie climbs aboard, and the boat and boy are saved moments before hitting the rocks.

Yay!

Can you believe they made 91 episodes of this? Every parody of Skippy you've ever seen (defuse the bomb, Skippy, defuse the bomb! Cut the red wire, the red wire!) is actually topped by the original.

Rewrite the Internet applicaton layer, Skippy!

Once more with feeling

Went out to dinner on Saturday night with Hazel Blackberry of A Bex and a Lie Down fame, as well as her gal pals (I’ve always wanted to say that) Sarah Ulmer (not really the cyclist), Jessie Mo, her twin Hydro Flo (I just made that up – people who were at the table may well laugh. You, eh, not so much), Zagreb Zoe (just made that up – it sucks but I got nothin’) and boy-toy TeeLaw.

It was fun, especially when Hydro Flo injected her own brand of fun by introducing us to various word games. Which I still can’t get out of my mind. Christ, I’m a nerd.

Anyway I promised to blog the evening. Consider it blogged.

Yes, there’s a reason why I don’t normally do, you know, stuff that happens.

Eventually Hazel will blog the evening and it will be funny.

Whereas this is all contractual obligations and yadda yadda and just going through the motions.

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Angry Pedestrian

Motorists beware! I have a pointy-tipped umbrella and I'm not afraid to use it.

A little internal bleeding is a small price to pay for scratching in a ridge in your duco that could have stopped the tanks at Stalingrad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Liberte! Fraternite! Won't Put it Away!

My son the four year old has snuggled up to his latest linguistic trope. Bellowing 'no!' is no longer enough in the negativity, denial and refusal stakes. It's simply too weak-kneed and smacks of appeasement.

'Never' is the mot du jour.

As in:

'Will you please put your shoes on?'

'Never!'

'Can you please play outside with that?'

'Never, never, never!'

He puts me in mind of a pint-sized 18th Century revolutionary. Such righteous panache! Give me liberty or give me another chocolate-sprinkled babycino! Or both!

It's cute.

And it beats him calling me a 'stupid f---.'

Where the fuck did he learn that?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Ghost and Mrs Rapist

You know what I was thinking today? (He said, as a worthless and transparent way of opening a blog post.)

I was thinking about Mrs Muir. Those of you of a certain vintage might remember her as one of the main characters from 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir.' G&MM was one of those TV shows that everyone at the time seemed to watch because it was on at that pre-adulthood, pre- or during dinner peak viewing time of 5:30 - 6:00 or 6:00 - 6:30. Over the years, the ABC had Dr Who, Sweet and Sour, the Goodies and Monkey while Channel 10 had the likes of MASH and the G&MM.

Made from 1968-1970 (and repeated well into the 80's -- did you know the original Flintstones series was 56-60?), the story went:

Lovely young widow Carolyn Muir, her two young children, and the maid discover that the New England seaside house they've moved into is haunted by the former owner -- an old salt named Captain Daniel Gregg. Gregg at first resists this intrusion, but he develops a ghostly love for his uninvited guest.


Anyway, the exact bit which popped into my head today (and does so every couple of years or so), was the episode where Mrs Muir decides she wants to be a writer. So she writes something and leaves it out, allowing the the ghost to 'spice it up' and mail it off under her name. (It's never clear how a non-corporeal ghost is able to interact with physical objects like a typewriter -- that's right, I'm one of those wankers.)

So various people read 'her' story and then are shocked and tittilated [for such an important word, it's damn hard to spell] by it -- in place of her (we imagine) sedate feminine tale is a rollicking pot-boiler. Mrs Muir gets lots of winks and nods and comments to the effect that people had no idea she was capable of such stuff. What this is all about of course is sex, though in emmy-award winning US TV from 1969, it can never be acknowledged. (But I'm sure that if Cpt Gregg could poke the keys of a type-writer he could...)

We only really see one little excerpt of the bodice-ripping prose generated by the captain and I only recall one word, the most scandalous: 'ravished' -- which is both suggestive and old-fashioned. Of course, 'ravish' means the following:

1.to fill with strong emotion, esp. joy.
2.to seize and carry off by force.
3.to carry off (a woman) by force.
4.to rape (a woman).


I'm pretty sure definition 1 wasn't being used and 2-4 all add up to the thing.

So the licentious text in question attributed to a 'lovely young widow' was both coy enough to be used on a 1960's US family sitcom but also able to allude to non-consensual sexual assault... I just thought that was, you know, interesting.

I'm also working on world hunger.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nothing perks you up like your daily mug of weasel shit joe

A colleague at work -- a co-member of a low-grade coffee and prostitution syndicate -- promised to bring in some Vietnamese coffee next week. It would be good stuff, she said, but not "premium" because the very best Vietnamese coffee is filtered through those parts of a weasel where the sun rarely shines. I chuckled. Good joke, nameless-and-faceless-fellow-office-automaton.

But she wasn't joking, because it's true. According to Professor McWiki, Chair of I-shit-you-not Studies at Couldn't-be-arsed University:

"Vietnam has a similar type of coffee [to coffee made using Asian civet cats], called weasel coffee which also comes from the droppings of weasels after they eat the coffee cherries. In actuality the "weasel" is just the local version of the Asian Palm Civet. Some sources erroneously claim that the beans are regurgitated instead of defecated. A synthetic process intended to simulate the weasel's digestive system is used to meet demand."

"The animals gorge on the ripe berries, and excrete partially-digested beans in their feces, which are then harvested for sale."

It's apparently the most expensive coffee in the world. In the unlikely event its available at your supermarket, look out for its famous logo: a red-faced weasel reading a newspaper...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Teach them well for they are the future of blogging

I drooped my four-year old son off at school today and watched as he started a drawing. He was watching the smart Asian girl across the table as she traced around her hands to make two purple hand shapes on the paper.

My son had a go but declined to actually include the fingers in his effort -- it looked like a mitten or a boxing glove (or more like a mitten or boxing glove than a hand at any rate). So he started putting little circles in the mitten.

'This is an alien and these are his eyes.' He said. Then he drew another vague shape sticking out from the mitten.

'The alien is spitting out a chicken which is wearing a chef's hat.'

[Wipes tear from eye.] I could not be more proud.

An alien spitting out a chicken wearing a chef's hat.

Now why didn't George Lucas think of that?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Criticism of Iraq World Cup Format Mounts

Media monitors have reported that television viewers are increasingly switching off the ‘World Cup of Iraq’, disappointed with the ‘seemingly endless’ nature of the format of the competition.

This has been echoed by a number of prominent critics who are asserting that the governing body responsible for the Iraq contest should simply ‘get on with it’ and ‘establish a clear winner’.

‘In my view, the format needs to be reconsidered,’ said Les Murray, Head of Sport for SBS, ‘initially in the opening rounds of the competition, viewers thrilled to the shock and awe of well-played if one-sided contests. But then the round robin stage kept going and going. Was it necessary for all these sides to play each other again and again? I mean, my God, even the deadly dull Cricket World Cup was able to find a winner after just 14 months featuring 12,086 games!’

‘Fan expectations are simply being frustrated all over the shop,’ said Peter FitzSimmons, a sport commentator for the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘They’ve been promised a quick and exciting comp many times only to be let down. Many of these have come from the widely fancied US team – first you had Rumsfeld the US Captain suggesting that their team would be back victorious in short order when he said of the World Cup: “It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” And then you had their Manager Bush in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner when just one team – the overrated Ba’ath squad managed by Hussein– had actually been eliminated.’

With mounting injuries on all sides, there is increasing support for a change in format to a sudden death knock-out phase.

‘Let’s get a move on,’ said Channel Seven’s Bruce McAvaney, ‘I for one look forward to the day when there’s just one team left standing. And frankly I just can’t see Australia taking gold this time around.’

Sunday, April 22, 2007

True confessions of a porn store writer-in-residence (Part I)

[Kids: off overseas again tomorrow for the week. Posting will be sporadic and shitty. Say hi!]

Steve J from Finance & Payroll says I can’t claim my reimbursables until I send in a completion report (clause 17 apparently). Anyway, here it is – my account of my time at the Happy Beaver.
My name is Matthew Parrott. I’m a pretty well known science fiction writer (in local SF circles). I’m pretty well a regular at DownUnderCon in Brisbane every year (except for 2005 when me and Frank and Mike got frozen out when everybody took sides over the Darth Maul origin dispute) and I was once a reserve panelist at MegaEarthCon in Pittsburgh in 2001. My best known works are Adventures of Shevek Hurj on the Time Glacier and Garazor! Shevek Hurj at the Face of Pain. You used to be able to get them through Amazon but they’ve been out of print for a little while now. You can still pick up the odd second hand copy. (They sold quite well in the Rocky Mountain states and there was a great Italian translation (so I’m told).)

But Face of Pain really burnt me out. It was a very personal book and I was going through a lot of emotional pain. My girlfriend of six weeks left me (I was thinking she was going to move in with me) and I lost my iPod on the train to Sydney. I also twisted my ankle rather badly. So when Shevek was being tortured by the An-Harbel commander in the Chamber of Tears on Planet Zaith and he cries out: ‘Oh Earth Alliance why hast thou forsaken me!’ and tears form on his cheeks ‘like cherubic asteroids’, I was really writing straight from the heart and channeling my own inner torment. After that book was finished, I was unable to write (although I had a neato idea for a confrontation between Shevek and his half-twin brother, the evil Angarak, I just couldn’t draw water from the primeval fires of creativity no matter how hard I yanked…).

So I was looking around for some kind of inspiration to fire up the ole mental ion drives and I saw the ad in the Eastern Suburbs Community Messenger for opportunities under your Community Arts Outreach program (or Community! Arts! Outreach! as you insist on calling it; clause 3 I’m told). Anyway I applied under the ‘exciting opportunties for serendipitous cross-cultural pollination.’ I spoke to one of your admin guys, Mark, on the phone (he normally works in Parks & Gardens apparently but Culture, Recreation & Special Needs specially needed him more).

Me: Hi, I’d like to apply for one of those cultural outreach thingies.

Mark: OK, what do you do?

Me: Huh?

Mark: What’s your thing? What do you, you know, have to do with the arts?

Me: The arts? Oh, right, yeah, I’m a science fiction writer.

Mark: And what else are you interested in?

Me: [Long pause]. Porn.

And that was really the start of it. I just couldn’t think of anything else to say. It was either that or TV and if I said TV, he’d ask me what on TV and I’d say Star Trek and Star Wars and Star Gate and we’d be back at square one.

Mark took down my details and promised to call me back. Later that week he called and said the Cultural Affairs Manager was looking at my expression of interest sympathetically. She said that “my concept was promising in its potential transgressiveness and its absurd lack of deference for traditional genre boundaries.” Also they were quite light on for applications this year. I was in!

Next time: boldly going where plenty of men have been before me! Getting into the Happy Beaver…

Thursday, April 19, 2007

O Death, where is thy zing?

[Anders Coakley, Convenor:] Hi and welcome to Growing and Flowering: Accepting Undeath, the support group for people who don’t feel comfortable in the recognized closed categories of [makes exaggerated inverted commas hand gestures] “life” and “death”. It’s a group for people who are having a tough time charting the difficult third way in the face of open hostility from so-called [inverted commas gesture] “polite society”. The nattering nabobs and chattering masses refer to such people, you people, as “zombies” without any consideration for your feelings, without any consideration for what you might be going through as you straddle life and death

Before we go on, just a word about labels. While many of us grew up believing that “sticks and stones may break your bones but names cannot hurt you”, today we’re somewhat wiser. We all know of the damage that can be done to our heart, our psyche, our sense of identity from a carelessly applied label or name. So it’s important we get this right. “Zombie” is a terribly derogatory term, an awesomely hurtful schoolyard taunt. “Walking dead” is not much better – it implies you’re not sophisticated enough to master vehicular transport. “Living dead” and “undead” define us in those terms, denying us our own status – like calling different races “black whites” or “non-blacks”. Some members of our community prefer the, to my ears, slightly clunky “mortality challenged”. I prefer “people of no colour” and I think we should work to see that language accepted widely.

Now. Who’d like to kick off?

[Large pallid man with a bload-soaked shirt and bulging eye-balls raises his hand]

OK, Gary, thank you, I know how difficult it can be to be the first. Please. Share.

[Gary Smith:] Um, thanks, thanks Anders. This my third time here, first time speaking. Um, my name’s Gary and I’ve been a zom…a, a person without colour for about 28 days now.

[All:] Welcome Gary!

[Gary Smith:] Thanks. I’m finding it really hard, I’m finding [bursts into pink tears and is comforted by other members nearby] …I can’t cope. I’m getting a lot of rejection from people that I used to think loved me and respected me. My wife, my kids, so-called, friends, neighbours – they won’t have a bar of me.

[Anders:] And how is this treatment manifesting itself?

[Gary:] Er, they’re shouting things at me, barring the door, running away screaming whenever I come near. I tried to pick up my daughter the other day and my wife grabbed her and screamed at me “get away you goddamned zombie fuck”. That, that really hurt.

[Anders, shaking his head:] People can be so cruel. What did you say to her?

[Gary:] I can’t remember. I was too upset. Something like: “brains, brains, need brains.” And then my brother, Tim, hit me with a baseball bat. It hurt, it really hurt, because the pain went way beyond the flesh, way down to my soul. And all the while he was screaming to a police officer: ‘take the head shot! Shoot him in the head.’ [Gasps from other members of the group]. I couldn’t believe that my own brother could be so intolerant. Sure I don’t have the hygiene standards I used to. I’m a bit pongy, especially the smell of raw meat on my breath. And sure I don’t conform to Western standards of beauty – I’m not a "metro-sexual". And sure I get cravings that can be difficult to accommodate. But I’m still a human being, goddamnit. Kind of. [The sound of quiet weeping is heard on the opposite side of the circle.]

[Tim Smith, lurches awkwardly to his feet, cradling one ruined arm in the other. Bite marks surround a large hole in his temple.] Gary, Gary, I’m so sorry. I had no idea that behind that lumbering, drooling undead “monster” [makes inverted commas gesture] that were was a thinking breathing feeling human being. Kind of. Can you ever find it in yourself to forgive me? I feel like I’ve come such a long way since yesterday before dawn when you broke through the back fence. And I feel that our journey through life as brothers has taken a new and important turn.

[Gary hugs Tim fiercely, pausing momentarily to sniff at the dried blood and viscera on his neck:] Oh Tim, you know I can, you know I can forgive you. And I have a little confession to make. You know when you were 12 and somebody tore all your posters off your wall and put them in the pool and I swore it wasn’t me? It was! [They hug and sob together]. Also, I ate your girlfriend. Twice, if you know what I’m saying.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut: now orbiting Tralfamdore in perptuity

As a member of the failed writer class, I felt it was a good idea to note the passing of Kurt Vonnegut today.

Sad, sad.

Well, kind of. The dude was 84, had already given up writing (I beleive Timequake, which I have not read, was his last) and was not known to me personally.

But the moment is worth noting: few writers figure more prominently in the pantheon of my starry firmament of writerlyness. His deceptively simple, quietly humourous novels are very inspiring to me (and not as easy to imitate as they appear! so it goes.).

Just borrowed Cat's Cradle on the weekend. Will give the old man a silent atheist prayer when I crack it open...

*Yes, I know. I know. It's self-pity month here at Whale Sushi...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You know who I feel sorry for?

Me. Also:

All the poor people of the globe without espresso machines or woolen carpets.

Also: the unfortunate drug-dealer who, when faced with a hard-core trafficker, his murderous bodyguards and his suit-case full of cash, slapped down Schappelle Corby’s boogie board...

* * *

Anyone with a blog knows the peculiarly loathsome cum-stains who surf up courtesy of Google (and Christ knows I sincerely regret ever using the word ‘goat’ in a post.)

But some of these buggers are truly mystifying.

This is my favourite Whale-Sushi-bound google search: “Mangos creatures using spells”.

Now, as you know, I’m a very intelligent and witty guy with a brain the size of a huge brain-sized walnut but really, I’m buggered if I can work that out.

Mangos creatures using spells. I hope you got what you came for. Go with God, my son.

* * *

I don’t want to blow my own drum or bang my own horn. (No blowing or banging please, we’re Canberrans). But who else in the world has parents who ring up and say: ‘you know we’re flying to Paris tomorrow?’

No, I didn’t. Fuckers.

* * *

The other day I was pondering a joke I’ve never really understood. The first time I encountered it was in reading the Adelaide Uni student newspaper many years ago.
There was a joke about a raffle…

First prize: dinner with the Vice-Chancellor.
Second prize: two dinners with the Vice-Chancellor! (yuk-yuk)

Now, I get that the V-C is not a popular guy and dinner with him is not all that appealing. But really, it makes no sense and not in a good way.

Or am I just being a pretentious, pedantic, humourless turd?

Huh. You know who I feel sorry for?

(Damn, that was a chatty post. I’m a regular chatty Kathy. With a penis.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Whale Sushi Personals (vol 1)

A special service to our readers...

#1
Buff Hasidic Jew seeks reform-minded shiksa hottie for robust and energetic inter-faith dialogue.

#2
Slightly aggressive alien with own carapace seeks buxom human females for walks on the beach, fire-side chats and out-of-the-box sexual contact. Will consider miscegenation if you are The One. Be gentle with me. Have been burnt before.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Words that are true to themselves

Double-barrelled

Exec Sum

Abbrev.


(Can you believe this PoS is my 50th Whale Sushi post? Yes, the train of genius continues to rumble through the landscape of faeces-flecked mediocrity. Or something. Or vice-versa.)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Breaking News!

Oh my god! Outside my window there are flashing lights in the sky! Coming to Eath – I don’t know what they are. A hideous screaming sound! Something’s coming – I don’t know what. Oh god they’re landing – my wife is urging me to flee but I must get this message out, must warn everyone. They, they, I can see them, descending from their landing craft, great bulbous shaped things. Repulsive, wobbling, slimy, making sounds like distressed walruses. They’re coming across the lawn to the house! They’re breaking in! Smashing through the walls with terrible ease. Tentacles, tentacles, a jiggling mass of tentacles. They’re coming for me! One long mottled green tentacle is worming across the floor towards me! It’s coming! There’s nowhere to hide. And now it’s creeping up my leg and heading for my anus and hgwqdo ad[ krosdgk dngd

* * *

April Fool! Earth hasn’t really been invaded by aliens! Ha ha, made ya look ya dirty chook. Boo sucks to those who rushed to the window to scope out the night sky or gingerly rubbed their rear ends in anticipation of extra-terrestrial back-door conquest…

(And sincere apologies also to anyone who took their own life or fled with their families and a few choice belongings to a remote rural hide-away to begin a new life of subsistence and armed vigilance. Sometimes I don’t know my own (prose) strength and I really should be more careful.)

Biggest. Highest. Fastest. Grossest. Lesser known world records (vol 1)

The largest white-head in recorded history belonged to Keith Aaron Clark of Solihull in the West Midlands in the United Kingdom. The pimple, located just off the centre of his right cheek was so large that little children would toboggan down it, in the process scaring small birds and animals who were foraging upon it. In secondary school, the zit was forced to occupy another desk and was ultimately required to register with the school in its own right (and almost surpassed Clark’s own exam results).

On medical advice, the pimple was burst. Two burly firemen ran from opposites of a football field and shoulder-charged the white-head. The resulting rupture contaminated the field for a period of three year before hazardous materials experts deemed that it was again safe to tread upon the surface without special protection.

Today, Clark is a dentist living in Tottenham in London. He hides from the limelight caused by his earlier fame but sometimes visits the scale model of his zit on display at Madame Tussaud’s.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Things certainly were different before all these new-fangled changes

black boy

We can all remember a more innocent time, driving through the country-side and spying a copse of 'black boys' -- how they cheered our hearts as we imagined them to be a clutch of aboriginal youths, waving at us merrily from some delightful patch of dirt.

Of course, it was not so long ago that the bureaucrats, wowsers and pointyheads got together and deemed that it was unacceptable to call this happy plant a 'black boy' -- for reasons that remain beyond me to to this day. But this band of black-hearted killjoys did not stop with this humble plant in their bid to cast a dark pall upon the human spirit by way of sucking the poetry from our noble language. Alas not!

Therefore, more in sadness than anything else, I present two further kingly representatives of the plant kingdom whose true names were torn from the bosom of our English tongue:

jewbush

The money-grasping, hook-nosed Jew bush

Alas this shrub, first named by Joseph Banks in 1785 in respectful homage to his wife's Hebraic physician, no longer wears this name. Today it goes by the rather more soulless sobriquet of the 'Eastern Sunrise Tree.' Hardly rolls off the tongue, does it? Chalk up another victory to the spineless technocrats in Canberra.

lebbush

The get-your-tahini-and-dirt-encrusted-toes-off-of-our-golden beaches, you monobrow-sporting, bath-and-bacon-dodging lebbo thug bush

Another piece of our history seemingly gone forever, this plant is now called the 'Levantine Banksia'. These new words, which taste to me of urban decay and corrupt centralised government, stiffen and rot in my very mouth. And this is progress?

I weep sometimes as I look back on this earlier less suspicious time when we knew where we stood as a nation, did not have to lock our doors at night and knew that words could be relied on with the solidity of housing bricks. Today, negotiating the shifting sands of our 'politically correct' but poetically stagnant 'culture' surely means giving up another tiny piece of our soul that we will never get back...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Recently overheard in a federal government office

"The question will make people ask: why are you asking the question?"*

"...not until the last clown has been drowned in his custard bath or run over with his tiny car, will this nation know greatness. We must take back our country from the pierrots, punchinellos and funny men who spread across it like a smear of rancid greasepaint. I propose nothing less than a Banal Solution, a grinding of the amusing by the forces of blandness and beigeness. Let the 26th of March forever more be known as the Night of the Long Shoes! Let a thousand frowns curl across this mighty land!'**

"I'll see your Lithgow and Toowoomba and raise you Hobart and Adelaide."***



* true
** eh, not so much
*** but it has the ring of truth, no?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mob picks over process issues around hard-worked compromise: pix!

mob

It was with some sadness that I read this front-page from the PNG Post Courier last week. Whatever happened to those nice mobs from the olden days that hankered for nothing more than a handful of fairy floss and a few kind words?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Three Billy Goats Gruff with self-destructive mutual interdependency issues

Note: Posting will be even more half-arsed and sporadic than usual for the next week as I'll be overseas. Please leave lots of funny and warm comments in the interim to validate me as a human being. See if we can't break double figures, huh?


…. ‘Oh, no! Don't take me. Wait a little till the big Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger.’

‘Very well! Be off with you,’ said the troll.

But just then up came the big Billy Goat Gruff.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! went the bridge, for the billy goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.

‘Who's that tramping over my bridge?’ roared the troll.

‘It's I! The big Billy Goat Gruff ,’ said the billy goat, who had an ugly hoarse voice of his own.

‘Now I 'm coming to gobble you up,’


And with that the ‘big’ Billy Goat Gruff’s façade of strength crumbled and he burst into a terrible sobbing.

‘Oh God, don’t eat me. Why are you eating me? Why didn’t you eat my goddamned younger brothers? They told you to wait for me, didn’t they? They said, “don’t eat me, oh no, I’m all trim and gym hardened and buff – wait for lardy mclard-arse Gruff, didn’t they”?’ Said the goat, now shrieking hysterically. Twin trails of snot ran from quivering nostrils parallel to the streaks of hot tears on his cheeks.

‘Well, I’m not big, I’m not fat and if I am, just a little, well, it isn’t my fault. I’m big-boned. It’s freaking genetic. I got my deadbeat Dad’s fatty fat fat chromosomes and they got Mum’s silky lithe chromosomes. And I’ve been paying the price ever since! Those punk arse bitches! How dare they tell you to wait for the porky one! I bet they said I was half-goat and half-pig right? They told you I was adopted and my real Mum was that slutty Meggy McBacon down the road, didn’t they?’

The troll stood there, idly scratching his forehead and regarding the goat coolly.

‘Um, yeah, something like that. One of them said I should actually let you over the bridge so I can see you from behind and check out how your arse wobbles.’ He said, looking over his shoulder at the two younger goats, now making obscene gestures at him from the safety of a nearby hill-side.

The goat sobbed again, holding its chubby face with its hooves.

‘You don’t know what it was like growing up as the fat responsible one. The one who always had to keep a watch on the time, and follow the rules. And clean up after the other two. They were always, like, getting into the fly nanny goats, while I was picking the dags off Dad’s bum. I was always left behind because I’m not as quick as they were. The only reason they were first across the bridge was because I can’t run as fast as them. I try to get to the gym, try to pound the treadmill, but I just don’t have time. If I was a freakin’ part-time student you can freakin bet I’d have time to get in shape but I have to work late at the office. And you know I just grab hamburgers and shit cos I don’t have time to make a salad. And when I get home I’m so tired all I want to do is eat ice cream and watch CSI.’ The goat said, whispering hoarsely.

The troll stared at the larger goat with a mixture of pity and disgust.

‘Look, I hear ya buddy. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m still gonna eatya. But how about I chase down your brothers and eat them too?’ Said the troll.

The goat blinked back his tears.

‘You could do that?’ He said. ‘Really? I thought you had to stay under the bridge?’

‘You have no idea how handy it is that everybody believes that.’

‘Uh, could you eat the little one first?’ The goat said, now recovering his demeanour somewhat.

‘Eh,’ the troll replied, with a small shrug. ‘Makes no difference to me.’

Monday, March 05, 2007

Unexaggerated tale of woe and redemption

Edgar K. Harman considered his life’s work complete the day after his 43rd birthday. It was the day his favourite tattooist, Marty ‘Shank Man’ Longhi, inked the final panel of Harman’s enormous tattoo which stretched from his face down to his shins. The tattoo, which he had begun 22 years earlier, now featured -- Every. Single. Page -- of the very first issue of the world’s greatest comic: Unexaggerated Tales of the Purple Wasp, first published by Jack Sikorsky and Myron Staples in New Jersey in 1952.

Issue #1 featured the very first encounter with the Grey Honey-Eater, the Purple Wasp’s nemesis and the object of his secret doomed affection. It had the first look at his cliff-top hide-away, the Royal Hive in the Sky, and showed his bookish alter-ego, Jerry Lancaster, nervously going for an interview as a file clerk with the Police Department – a position he would later use to great effect from Issue #6 onwards to glean intelligence on numerous hard-nosed crims.

Various hard-core members of purplewaspreturns.com – the world’s preeminent Purple Wasp fansite and webportal – would swear that Harman, if not actually a god, had become more than merely human, as they liked to say. He was the coolest person ever with the exception of the deeply troubled Purple Wasp himself.

But tragedy struck, as it so often does, quickly and quietly in the night. A short post to unexaggerated.blogspot.com – an otherwise no-account fan blog published out of Sheffield in the UK – suggested that there was an even earlier issue, soon dubbed Issue #1a by the fanoscenti.

Only 12 issues of #1a were ever printed and 3 of these were immediately destroyed due to ink problems. 4 others were given to unappreciative family members and promptly lost. 2 were later destroyed in a house fire in 1965. Only 3 remained, treasured forever by Sikorsky’s widow, Jean, in her attic, and only discovered at her death.

Within 3 weeks they were on ebay and within 12, scanned copies were on the web itself. 1a was a revelation, the biggest thing to hit the Purple Wasp world, the biggest thing that could hit the Purple Wasp world. Issue #1a explained how the Purple Wasp got his mysterious powers (and that scar on his back). It introduced the Red Arachnid who, teaming up with the Honey-Eater, finally managed to kill him in Issue #146. It also explained his slightly icky psycho-sexual relationship with his side-kick and younger half-brother, Michael (the Green Firefly).

Overnight, Harman became a freak and an outcast, a laughing-stock and a cautionary tale whose infamy spread quickly across the Internet. But after a brief bout of depression, he bounced back, starting TheRealNumberOne.com and attracting a small but loyal following. He made it his life’s work to attack what came to be known as the One-A Fallacy. By the time his 45th birthday had rolled around, Harman had again found that inner peace that only comes from a life well-lived.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

God hates Gary, smites Canberra with bitchin’ storm



A ‘supercell’ thunderstorm which hit Canberra, Australia last night with devastating results was caused by a small boy, Gary Thomerson, The storm which led to almost 200 call-outs by the State Emergency Service and numerous police road closures was the worst of its kind for 12 years.

Gary, 6, ate a small piece of cake belong to his half-sister, Melissa, 8, which she had been saving in the fridge after her attendance at a North Canberra birthday party. The slice was cut from a cake that had been made into the shape of a green tree frog – a favourite animal of birthday girl Sharon, 9. While the layer of icing was green, the interior of the cake was banana chocolate.

When confronted about the cake, Gary repeatedly denied being responsible for its disappearance. When Melissa asked him to ‘swear to God’ that he hadn’t taken the cake, he said: ‘I swear to God I didn’t take your freakin’ cake.’ A witness has now come forward to suggest that Gary’s fingers were crossed at the time this statement was made but it is the view of Father Luke Domenico of the St Stephen Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand that this is unlikely to ‘cut any ice with the Almighty.’

Exactly seven hours after Gary’s oath, the storm, including hailstones the size of chocolate freckles, struck Canberra with terrible ferocity. Gary is alleged at this point to have hid under his bed whimpering ‘like a little bitch’ in the words of his older brother Stephen, 13.

God later killed Gary’s hamster, Harry Potter, 14 months, and cancelled both his soccer game next Saturday morning and his much anticipated trip to Movieworld on the Gold Coast.

‘Did I learn anything from this?’ Gary asked this journalist, rhetorically one suspects. ‘You bet I did. You bet I did.’ He said. He then added ‘God is a big fat poohead.’

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Forget everything you thought you knew about hair governance

Maiden speech, Roger Plimson-Clark MP, new Member for Crackalacka, SA.

Mr Speaker, it is with a trembling sense of occasion that I rise to first address this august chamber but any pleasure thereof must be second to the awesome responsibility which sits upon my shoulders like a giant desert-dwelling carrion bird.

Mr Speaker, there is a danger which stalks our land. A danger responsible for more grief and more tears than almost any I care to name and yet, due to the vile back-room machinations of entrenched interest groups, this danger has rarely if ever glared out from the front pages of our daily newspapers, let alone been properly debated in this mighty hall of our democracy.

Let me pose a thought experiment for you, Mr Speaker. Imagine yourself as a father – and indeed this is not difficult for you because I know you are a very good father – imagine you are pacing anxiously outside the theatre waiting for your youngest and dearest to be operated upon when a nurse introduces you to the “surgeon”. This is Kevin – she says – 10 minutes ago he was laying bricks and now we’re slapping a scalpel in his hand and allowing him to practice medicine. Well, such a thing is unthinkable.

And yet this very scenario, in a slightly different field of human endeavour, is played out every day in the towns, cities and villages of our nation.

It may surprise and shock you, Mr Speaker – as it did me – to learn that any Tom, Dick or Harriet may, without any formal training, any relevant experience, any Government licensing system, call themselves a hairdresser and begin cutting the hair of ordinary decent Australians, including I must emphasise, children.

Let me just give you a moment to let that sink in, Mr Speaker. No training, no experience, no licence, and they may then proceed to lawfully separate people from their hair in back-alley salons in some of the seedier quarters of our cities.

I was first alerted to this by a constituent, a delightful lass with her whole future ahead of her. This young lady attended a beauty spa that I will not name in order to receive a “colour, cut and style” so as to increase her chances at an up-coming job interview as well as to impress a gentleman friend that very night. I will not go into details except to say that this constituent could not relate this tale to me without her voice catching with emotion. Suffice to say, she did not get the job, is no longer seeing her man-friend and has resigned herself to wearing a variety of hats for the next two months.

Horrible as her story is, my own personal research endeavours have revealed that this tale of woe is all too common. I myself have received haircuts that were advertised as a “quick trim” but which left me psychologically scarred with my self-esteem in tatters.

Mr Speaker, the time for action is now. We cannot wait for a Royal Commission or similar fact finding body to establish what we already know.

Accordingly, I announce my intention to introduce a Private Member’s Bill at the earliest opportunity. This legislation, which I urge all members to support regardless of which side of the aisle they find themselves on, will insert new provisions into the Criminal Code making it an offence to set up as a hairdresser or an allied profession without a four-year university degree. Similarly, the sale of hairdressing implements such as scissors, clippers and water squirters will be subject to a strict code of conduct with a requirement that retailers report suspect transactions to a new body, the Australian Hair and Beauty Standards Commission.

Furthermore, new avenues of complaint for disgruntled customers will be created. If you show a hair-dresser (or ‘thatch butcher’ as I call them) a picture of Johnny Depp or Jennifer Anniston, you have every right to walk out of that salon looking like Mr Depp or Ms Annistion.

I see that my time is almost at an end, Mr Speaker. I am quite sure that this is not the last time I will speak on this important subject. I urge all other members to educate themselves about this looming threat and to support my forthcoming Bill. We must not allow these tress-fiends to cut-and-run. For the sake of the young growing follicles of this great country, we must act before it is too late.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lesser known FIGHT CLUB rules

(9) No, really, you don’t talk about FIGHT CLUB

(10) If you don’t possesses a vague, burning, masculine self-loathing combined with a deep sense of alienation and an almost comical love of consumer products then TAKE IT OUTSIDE, BUDDY.

(11) You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB even if you’re using some kind of sophisticated code that most people couldn’t understand in a million years. Don’t even ALLUDE to FIGHT CLUB in passing.

(12) No shrieking like a girl – unless you are a girl.

(13) No girls.

(14) You DO NOT build websites about FIGHT CLUB no matter how many hits you think you’ll get.

(15) No shirts, no shoes, no jockey briefs. Please.

(16) You do not blog about FIGHT CLUB.

(17) Homosexuality is to remain latent at all times in FIGHT CLUB no matter how hot his or your pecs look as they sweatily reflect the flickering torchlight.

(18) You do NOT blog about FIGHT CLUB but web chat might be OK. Depends.

(19) It’s not my first time, so I’m just going to lean against this brick wall and smoke gauloises, OK?

(20) You DO NOT blog about FIGHT CLUB unless it’s on the official MSNBC FIGHT CLUB group blog and you have sufficient ‘mayhem’ points and a moderator (who must have at least 1000 mayhem points) approves your posts until you hit 250 mayhem points. (You can also vlog about FIGHT CLUB on youtube when you get to 500).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Learning English is fun!

I've just started training to tutor refugees in English. It has been impressed upon us how difficult this can be and we've been encouraged to introduce English to them in a context they can readily understand...

So I made this:

prison words copy

Jeez, political, huh? I may as well have just come out and said John Howard is a jerk...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2006 in Review: Best Killer Bee Movies

From killerbeemoviereviews.com:


"Comin' to get ya, my pretty biatches…"

Killer bee fans!

Well 2006 was a fantastic year as we all anticipated! After a slow, let’s face it, decade, Hollywood finally came to the party and gave us the best year since the magical year of 1978.

In no particular order:

Deadly, Honey?
A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by an industrial explosion, is heading from South America to Texas. Chuck Rangell (William Baldwin), an unemployed fruiterer from Houston, is seeking a reconciliation with his wife after their marriage broke up due to his obsession with finding with the world’s most succulent tomato. They get back together after a small boy shows him the value of human relationships. Then the bees kill everybody. An instant classic! Check out the scene where killer bees sting Rangell’s eyes…

Hive! Hive! Hive!
A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by a gas explosion, is heading from South America to Texas. Chip Unger (Daniel Baldwin), a down-on-his-luck petroleum geologist from Austin, is trying to regain the love of his estranged daughter while looking for the legendary El Greco oil well. He finds it, they reunite! Then the bees kill everybody. Only so-so, I’m afraid, but catch the scene where a killer bee emerges from Unger’s urethra…


Death Wears Black and Yellow Stripes

A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by an explosion in a desiccated coconut factory, is heading from South America to Texas. Sammy Wallis (Michelle Baldwin), a depressed factory worker from Waco, leads a brave effort to unionise the down-trodden Latina garment workers who she initially despised because of their fondness for enchiladas, in the face of incredible management harassment. The factory is unionized, the cafeteria serves enchiladas and hotdogs and Wallis is promoted to CEO. Then the bees kill everybody. Watchable, particularly for those of you like me with an interest in workplace relations, but most notable for the scene where the bees shave Wallis’ scalp before entering her brain through the eye sockets.


To Bee Or Not To Bee
A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by a loud block party, is heading from South America to Texas. Solomon Herschel (Moshe Baldwin), is a drunken Shakespearean actor and rabbi who lost his faith when a bar mitzvah he was presiding over was attacked by large fish. He regains his trust in YHWH after a small girl shows him the value of somewhat arbitrary and capricious middle-Eastern deities who will tolerate no other gods before Him. Then the bees kill everybody. Fantastic! Especially the slow-moving montage where Herschel is pollinated in the anus while a troupe of Polish ballerinas is stung to death on a bus.

So I Married A Killer Bee
A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by a malfunctioning clock radio, is heading from South America to Texas. Jenny McCain (Apple Baldwin-Paltrow) is an unhappy four-year old struggling with the pressures of a multi-racial inner urban kindergarten. After breaking up a knife fight and mastering finger painting, she puts on the best puppet show K-12 education has ever seen. Then the bees kill everybody. Not to be missed but if you’re easily bored, fast forward to the 86th minute when a queen bee, dressed as Mary Queen of Scots, lifts little McCain up by her coccyx before slamming her back to earth. Touchdown!

Stop!...Or You’ll Harsh My Buzz!
A swarm of killer bees, disturbed by a farting Mexican, is heading from South America to Texas. Xxxl Y’rrt (Ezekiel Kvango Baldwin-Presley), a miserable alien trapped on earth for some reason which is never entirely explained, is picked up by a bus-load of hippies who think it’s 1969! After a bad acid trip, Y’rrt tears out their spinal columns and uses them to make a scale model of the HMS Bounty. Hilarity ensues! A rare genre-bender which bodes well for the future of killer bee films. Don’t forget the scene where Y’rrt goes up against several worker drones in a marathon dancing competition – he finally beats them by artificially synthesizing their queen’s chemical signature and beating them to death with their own mandibles. Then everybody kills him. If you’re even half-way serious about killer bee films, you’ll rush out right now and buy it on DVD, VHS and mini-disc.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Haute cuisine fightin' words

  • I resent your remarks about my paw-paw and arugula pesto!
  • The reduction method used by your sous-chef to produce this veal consommé is patently inferior and allows inferences to be drawn about the overall management of this kitchen.
  • Call this cotoletta alla milanese? Call it by its true name -- weiner schnitzel!
  • Your reliance upon garlic is telling.
  • Your fusion of Asian and Southern European flavours was ultimately unsuccessful and undeserving of even the epithet ‘interesting’.
  • Were you trained in England?
  • You sauté like a faggot.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hard-boiled crime fiction similes that might have been used by a trainspotting-enthused crime fiction novelist

Hillier grabbed her and kissed her, long and hard, like the press of carriage wheels on a cold iron track. Then, as the night fell, they coupled furiously – fierce, clanging and smoothly efficient.

He screamed as the bullet struck his thigh, a loud roar like the sudden release of steam from a disused shunt neck clack valve.

She had legs that didn’t quit like pistons on 279-T.

A shot rang out, a sharp crack like the sound of wrench being dropped down the anterior funnel of Pullman Firebird locomotive.

He drove his fist into McNab’s solar-plexus which was soft and yielding, like the velour cushion on the top bunk of a first class sleeping car on the Canadian-Pacific.

She walked in as if she owned the joint, like a nineteenth century rail baron paying a surprise inspection visit to a little-used southern Illinois freight-yard.

‘You’re finished, McTeague, washed-up, like the NER Uniflow Locomotive No 825 of 1913 when the NER Uniflow Locomotive No 2212 of 1919 came along.’

Bonus extra: a hard-boiled crime fiction simile that might be used by a female crime fiction novelist who is married to a trainspotting-enthused crime fiction novelist:

She trained his gun on him, taking careful pleasure in the sudden reversal of roles. "You're like a train,' she observed acidly, "a big fat dumb stinky stupid train, full of fat dumb idiots with serious hygiene and inter-personal communication issues." As she tightened her slender finger around the ring-like trigger guard, how she laughed, oh how she laughed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

2006 in Review: Cordials of the Year



Cheeky, almost slutty, in its insouciant wantonness…


2006 was another good year for cordials with those from the New World again showing they can take the battle to the Old World and win. Sugar was once more the dominant motif but with a rising tide of metabisulphites which augurs well for this growing industry.

My top 5 for the year are:

Cottees ‘Blackfellowes Creek’ Raspberry Cordial
I almost overlooked this winsome drop which wears its polysaccharides with a lop-sided grin and a dash of larrikin charm. Almost too subtle for its own good but, given space and and a clear palate, this pleasant little cordial will amuse and surprise you like a wet kiss behind the bike sheds from an over-friendly student teacher.

Golden Circle ‘Uluru Dawn’ Paw Paw and Desert Pea Cordial
Not one for the traditionalists, perhaps, but this little ‘trier that could’ is a cordial that will well reward return visits. It’s come in for a little criticism, deserving perhaps, that the ‘desert pea’ content is merely additive 409 (Arabinogalactan or Larch gum) dressed up with a wicked streak of one of the randier silicates: but a world-class cordial maker should not be afraid to use a little licence when the end product is as satisfying as this.

Remember not to ‘climb’ it out of respect! Encircle it, carefully, respectfully, and savour its dry sweet taste rising above the food additive landscape like a fat kid on a penny farthing.

Sunnyboy Apple-Peach ‘Intercourse’ Cordial
There are those who find the name vulgar but I find it merely fitting. The reconstituted powdered apple and peach juices making up 17% of this awesome syrup really do rut like Yukon stags across the pine-strewn earth of your taste buds, spraying fruity semen and musk in equal measure. The viscosity has to be seen to be believed. Undiluted, this liquid will cling to the side of the glass like an autistic boy hanging on to his mother at the dentist. Immortal, magic, erotic!

Homebrand ‘Valley of the Auburn Foals’ Lime Cordial
There are those who turn their noses up at this marque but, for mine, they’re missing out on one of the best value cordials on the market. Certainly there’s nothing particularly interesting about the initial flavour as it roars loudly across your palate like a Lebanese family in a metallic orange Ford Falcon but the ‘fructose’ after-taste must be experienced to be believed. It’s like being belted across the back of the head with a frozen lemon-vegemite brick while masturbating into a cup of horse-radish sauce. It’s simply that good. And did I mention the value for money?

Berri ‘International Date Line’ Tropical Fruit Cup
My pick of picks for 2006. Simply a magnificent cordial without equal. It’s got it all: acetates, benzoates, pectins and nitrites all dancing furiously for your attention behind a regular police line-up of rough-as-you-like it freeze-dried fruit juices. It’s angry, it’s daring, it’s political. It votes politely with its gluconates while simultaneously smashing down the parliamentary doors of your pre-conceptions to brutally usurp the liberal democracy of your placid taste buds. Amnesty International doesn’t know how to handle this sweet-talking fire-brand!

But rarest of all, it bears the subtle but unmistakable mark of its glorious maker like an HIV-infected sharp in a wind-tossed hay-stack. Swill this onto your upper palate for long enough and you can definitely taste the ennui-stinking skin-soup of a 42-year old Maltese factory-hand at the end of a life-wasting 12-hour shift in Box Hill. Marvelous, absolutely marvelous. The closest thing a cordial will ever come to being a time-zone.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gelthar the Annihilator’s Guide to Effective Human Resources Management

Gelthar (‘the Annihilator’) was a Danish Viking Chieftain prominent around the middle of the ninth century AD. He is known principally for two things: the merciless siege of Finnbrook in Northern England, in which the departing defenders were put to the sword after they had already been guaranteed safe passage; and his Guide to Effective Human Resources Management which was translated from Old Danish in 1962 by Professor Arne Sorenstrom of the Trondheim Technical University.

The following are some of the better known excerpts from his Guide

On an under-performing warrior
A warrior who does not slay his requisite number of foes or whose rape or pillage is below the required level can be a serious problem for the whole Viking band. In more traditional times, the man would simply have been beheaded or tossed overboard. Today this is regarded as unsatisfactory as it is both insensitive to underlying structural difficulties which may be causing the underperformance and it may have further deleterious effects on tribe morale.

It is therefore important to learn the reasons for the warrior’s lack of capacity: it may be trouble with his wife or a relative, it may be the curse of a witch or a troll, it may be a lack of confidence in his own abilities. Once discovered, a problem can be dealt with. This will probably involve a great deal of torture.

And if a warrior’s problem is genuinely laziness or a poor attitude of some kind, his ritual execution can be a peculiarly bonding experience for the whole ship.

On Equality of Opportunity
It is important that gender be no barrier to equivalent treatment. Women should be slaughtered as readily as their male kin-folk. Similarly, men should be considered when Vikings are embarking upon the ‘raping phase’ of an expedition. Put simply, this is what civilized people mean when they talk about ‘modernity’.

Work-Life Balance
In older times, a Viking band could be away for up to year during which time they would no contact with their families and their home communities – little or no thought was given to non-warrior aspects of a Viking’s life. Today, we are more advanced. We recognize that we must make space for other elements of life: love, family, community, happiness, fulfillment. After all, we pillage to live, not live to pillage.

And by allowing for a proper work-life balance, we make for a more well-rounded Viking warrior who is more resilient to physical and psychological knocks and who is better emotionally equipped to form potentially life-saving bonds with his comrades.

So, after much consideration, we have settled upon the following three strategies for looking after ‘the whole Viking’: (1) allow prostitutes to be included roster; (2) encourage the taking and repatriation of slaves – nothing generates a sense of ship-board domesticity faster than the integration of slaves into ship life and their consequent adorable grumbling; and (3) a father-son Viking mentoring program – why leave all of your family behind when you can take one or more sons with you? There is no greater pleasure than being there for your boy’s first massacre or seeing the glint in his eye as he fires a monastery after grabbing a golden communion chalice from a smashed altar (and it may well bring a tear to your eye as it does mine, now. There is no shame in admitting such feelings!)

(Ed – thankfully, in Australia in 2007, we have come a long way since those barbaric times and our humane treatment of our workplace continues to advance with each passing year!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Technicolour Yarn

For me, throwing up is normally a polite gentlemanly affair. My brain hears a quiet knock at the door. My stomach.

‘Sir,’ my stomach says, twisting its tradesman’s cap nervously between its coarse metaphorical hands, ‘sir, I’m very sorry about this. But I think I’m going to have to, er, discharge my contents upstairs.’ My brain and my stomach are silent for a moment as they consider this together. ‘Of course, it will be at a time that is convenient for you.’

‘Of course,’ my brain says, ‘how about in twenty minutes?’

‘Very good, sir.’ My stomach says and it goes away until the appointed time.

‘Ready, sir?’

‘Ready.’ And a certain camaraderie springs up between them as the vomit leaves in a more or less orderly fashion. Even so it is a stinging experience for all concerned. There is a pained look in my stomach’s eyes and he looks away. My brain grips his left shoulder manfully and gives him a gentle squeeze.

‘There is no shame in this. It is part of the natural cycle. It is part of the way of life. You could no more prevent such discharges than the salmon be prevented from swimming upstream.’

My stomach nods and tries out a little grim smile. My brain and my stomach part and my brain does not know that my stomach risks a tiny backward glances just before he exits. If only we didn’t have to meet. Like this. If only it could be. Different.

But last night. Hoo wee.

There is an angry knock on the door as my stomach’s brash irresponsible nephew demands entry.

‘Open up. I gotta let one fly.’

‘What? What is the meaning of this?’ My brain has been roused from a pleasant dream and is still rubbing his eyes. He opens the door and my younger stomach bursts through.

‘Fuck, old man, get outta the way. Gotta take a wiz.’

‘What? Where’s the stomach I normally deal with?’ My brain is angrily wrapping a silk dressing gown around his flannel pyjamas. And then he is bowled over in the orange rush, unable to get out of the way in time.

‘Heh, sorry old-timer, better luck next time.’ Says the stomach as he exits, giving my brain the finger. And my brain is unable to feel any kinship with this young stomach. Who is this foul creature? he thinks, mopping ineffectually at his soaking nightclothes…

Who indeed?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just sayin', y'know?

21st century Australia -- where a dead garden is a badge of honour...

Damn you, shifting goal posts of middle-class respectability!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Love poems by teenage amateur geologists

Why
Why, Ignatius, why?
Your heart has frozen over like a stone
Leaving me here to sob and moan
I thought our love was igneous
When in fact its more like inorganic chemical sediment

Love
Oxides are red
And silicates blue
Ocean trenches are deep
And so is my love for you!

Unrequited
I weather your indifference like
An ancient aqueous pegmatite
I remain coolly stoic
Like something from the Cenozoic
But beneath my outer-most mantle
My heart-shaped core is unable to handle
It

Megan
My girlfriend is like a huge metamorphic rock
Vast and sun-baked
Providing shade for the lizards and
The arthropods but still
Shapely

You
You crashed into Geology Club
Like a Mesozoic meteorite
Killing the dinosaurs of dullness
And bringing
The diorites of delight