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...

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

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


Exec Sum


(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.)