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, 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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Excerpts From: Timmins Not Timid, The World’s Most Exciting Blog

About me: Hi! My name’s Matt Timmins – I’m a 28 year old office worker. I have a wonderful fiancĂ© – Jennifer – and two Labrador pups called Spanky and Hobo. I live in a charming little house in Canberra which Jen and I rent – but which one day we hope to buy. If the market ever cools down! Oh and I have the world’s most exciting blog. Enjoy!

10 January 2007: had another run in with Big Nose today (you know who I mean). He really is the biggest dickhead on the floor. (And I’m sure he’s using my milk! Too cheap to buy his own) Had to keep my nose (ha!) to the grind-stone all morning.

Finally got away at lunch time. Phew! Went to the doctors about that persistent pain I told you about. Turns out it’s cancer. Again! Testicular this time. Oh man, can you believe it? I only just got over the skin cancer (read about my harrowing yet uplifting dance with death in my October posts).

Got back from lunch and Big Nose and Shit Breath were making all kinds of dumb jokes about balls. Is it possible they could know?

* * *
Oh I forgot. I asked the doctor (Dr Yes, a large very cheerful man with a moon-like face) what could have caused this latest cancer. He didn’t know but it seems likely (to me) that my midnight raid on the control room of the nuclear reactor to prevent it falling into the hands of Black CLAW terrorists might have had something to do with it. The reactor core burst and the corridors flooded with coolant (I should know because I drowned two terrorists in the stuff during mortal hand to hand combat. Also, tore my pants – yes, dear reader, the pants I bought for Grandma’s 80th birthday – bummer – cost me $27 to get them repaired. If you know of a good value repair shop, please drop me a line). Dr Yes was nodding his head (ha!) but his colleague Dr Stogie (who is always smoking a cigar when you see him outside – what’s up with that?) shook his head and said nothing. I can’t stand how he makes me feel so small. He really has a lot to learn in the bedside manner department. Also he’s always cracking onto the nurses which is kind of yucky at his age (61 I think maybe 65 tops).

I was kinda in the dumps going home on the bus. And my multi-trip ticket ran out and I had to pay full fare. It’s so embarrassing when your ticket has run out and the machine beeps at you and the whole bus looks on. The bus driver was one of those grumpy fat guys who act like they’re doing you such a favour by just picking you up.

Then – just before I got home and noticed that some of the neighbourhood kids had knocked down our letterbox again – I was attacked by ninjas. One of their throwing stars just missed my head (note to self: get a hair cut, ha!) and stuck in the wall where the paint is peeling really badly. Gotta get the landlord to repaint because it’s getting beyond a joke.

I disarmed them and pulled their masks off. Turns out they were Black CLAW zombie ninjas. Probably after the jade scorpion which I bought from that peculiar antiques dealer last week – inside the sting are microfilm plans for the X-19 fusion propellant which was, if you recall from my August posts, the subject of an organized crime bidding war.

I was amazed to find that one of the zombie ninjas was my ex-girlfriend Sue. Despite everything it was kind of good to see her again. But all she had to say was ‘brains brains brains’ while drooling and trying to claw my face off. Nothing ever changes, I thought sadly. One of the main reasons we broke up was because she didn’t respect my intelligence.

When I finally got home (making sure the jade scorpion was safe next to the jeweled scarab and the cubic zirconium fruitfly in my secret ‘special stuff’ pouch) I gave Jen a big hug. Because I was a bit depressed she cooked me a really nice meal and then we had a cuddle with the dogs while we watched Simpsons reruns. Bart cracks me up every time! It just serves to remind you what’s really important in life.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

From the 'Aren't I clever?' drawer of the Nick Cetacean Memorial Ignored Genius Filing Cabinet

From page 106 of Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979):

The proliferation of mass graphomania among politicians, cab drivers, women on the delivery table, mistresses, murderers, criminals, prostitutes, police chiefs, doctors, and patients proves to me that every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself and that all mankind has every right to rush out into the streets with a cry of 'We are all writers!'

The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late.

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.

Boy, that Kundera certainly had the Internet pegged early on, didn't he? < / chuckle of self-satisfied mirth at perspicacity of own breath-taking insight>

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Years Resolutions 2007

This year I will:

  • Discover a continent
  • Acquire, and then cure myself of, a learning disability. One of the sexy ones.
  • Take up smoking
  • Breed a race of genetically-modified supermen moulded in my terrible image and then have them take over the United Nations one committee at a time. Their capacity to initiate procedural motions will leave all powerless before their awesome bureaucratic prowess. Also, I’ll give them guns.
  • Float the peso (on melted garlic butter)
  • Write a best-selling novel about an old man who loses his dentures under some sofa cushions and, in searching for them, finds two 20c pieces, some old toast and the love of a Portuguese circus-performer with no armpits.
  • Cross-pollinate with a sun flower. A hot one, naturally.
  • Walk everywhere (except when I’m tired, in a hurry, disinclined or when it’s simply impractical or otherwise inconvenient)
  • Adopt a llama (to be named ‘Pascal Cetacean’), shave it all over, train it to walk on two feet and then enrol it in primary school.
  • Develop and market-test my own brand of crabapple-flavoured potato crisps.
  • Return Samoa to the Germans.
  • Evaporate

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Names still available to cool up-and-coming bands (as far as I know)

Young people are often coming up to me in bars and saying ‘stop looking at me while you rub your crotch, old man.’ But I sometimes imagine they’re asking me for advice about cool band names. Here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Unsuitable Governance Arrangements
  • Deviated Septum
  • Margaret Carlson-Pitt: Scientist, Raconteur, Mother
  • The Cunts
  • Dirty Hostile Children
  • Cross-Jurisdictional Multi-Agency Taskforce for the Investigation of da Funk
  • The Ruptured Fauns
  • Unisex Disabled Parenting Room
  • Beatle
  • The U2s

After all, I made Chocolate Starfish what they are today.

And Jet. Sorry about that.