Friday, December 26, 2008

Bountiful bon bon booty

Exciting times are these! Check out my bon bon haulage. As you can see, these were no skankarse bon bons: these were refined bon bons, from a reputable store with cardboard inserts for structural integrity. The hats, though pointy and slightly thirteenth century, were sparkly gold, and I can't be certain but I think they were scented?

And how about those prizes! All some kind of light-weight, space age, NASA developed metal/silver coated plastic. All fitting prizes and sizes... for Tinkerbell and her Oompaloompah consort sailing around on their teeny weeny sea-worthy plastic ship from my December 22nd bon bon.

When Tinks and her crew arrive we're gonna spend some quality time locking and unlocking the teeny lock, cutting weeny crescents in leftover Christmas paper with the teeny nail clippers, and opening weeny bottles of beer then drinking them from thimbles.

What a way to spend a year; only 364 days to go, peeps.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry thing bits!

A Christmas together with the Muppets... John Denver was a lucky bastard.

Many things are different on Christmas day: the shoppies are closed, the courier-van-race-track street I live on is quiet, and all sorts of foodstuffs are admitted into our houses that wouldn't ordinarily meet food safety standards (like the choko that's coloured brown then pressed into Santa shapes and passed off as chocolate for advent calendars).

But there are many fabulous, non-Christmas-related things that are the same today as they were yesterday and that will be the same again tomorrow: my soft-brained love of the Gilmore Girls, my small son's slightly uneven, parent-inflicted hair cut (sorry matey), and my dream for world peace and all things Obama-related (including merchandise).

So I hope you're enjoying both what's different about today and what's the same.

Peace out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why Christmas lights are just wrongness

Sorry to so badly and baldly cheat today (busy brain-hurty work day ahead), but in lieu of actual stuff-stuff I thought I'd bring you a quick example (from the SMH) of Why Christmas Makes Ordinarily Good People Go Bad:

"A Melbourne couple have told police they had so many children with them, it took them 14 hours to realise their five-year-old son had been left at a Christmas lights display late at night.

The boy, Alexander, was discovered wandering alone at 11.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday night in a street in Vermont South after his family had gone to look at the lights.

However, it took his parents until lunchtime on Monday to realise he was missing and contact police."


"Each parent thought the other had Alexander in their car for the trip home."


"They've got home and all piled out and the kids have gone straight to bed and they didn't realise anything was amiss until lunchtime today," The Age quoted Sgt Williams as saying."

"[The boy] told police his name was Alexander, but could not tell them his surname or where he lived."

Poor little tiger. He should at least learn his surname so he can fill out those child divorce papers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Schlocking filler

On a recent expedition to a shopping mall I found what is possibly the naffest Christmas present ever.

This object, brimming with naffness, is a game, and while I'm ordinarily a big fan of games there are some games that by their very nature indicate a level of softness in the brainal region of anyone who plays them. This is one of those soft-serve-brain games.

If only this little game had some of the smarts of Monopoly or even the straight-laced sass of noughts and crosses, but no, this little puppy was sniffing Clag with Connect Four when they were handing out game cred.

So what is this disappointing middle-child of the game world? That's right, folks, it's a delightful and oh-just-so-cute Christmas Conversation Starter game!

I figure the only way to win this game is to try and find a conversation stopper to each of the conversation starters. Shall we have a crack?

1. What's your favourite Christmas tradition? Shooting reindeer, and kittens.

2. Who would you most like to kiss under the mistletoe? L. Ron Hubbard.

3. I'd never laughed as much at Christmas as when... the dog got drunk and wouldn't stop sniffing everyone's groins.

4. My guilty pleasure at Christmas is... getting the dog drunk.

There's also a Love Conversation Starter! I can't wait for Valentine's Day: "If I saw you walking down the street I'd think..."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Deck the halls... with gilded bon bons

You always know that Christmas day is getting really close when you crack your first bon bon for the season.

Bon bons are like the big guns of the whole Christmas shin-dig thingo, and their appearance at table-based festivities means the serious Christmas shenanigans are about to begin.

By law, bon bons cannot be cracked before December 18; pulling out a box of bon bons for a Christmas party on December 2 would be like Napoleon sending in his archers before war has been declared. It's just not right.

In fact, you can tell how close we are to Christmas day by the frequency of bon bon pullage and the quality of said bon bons.

Yesterday (the 19th) I pulled a bon bon that was modestly sized with an inch-high plastic ship (not sea worthy) for a prize. It was pretty much just a toilet roll with some newspaper wrapped around it with some gold stuff stuck on. And the joke? It was a joke entirely suitable to a December 19 bon bon: what clothing does a house wear? Address! Awwww haw haw haw.

The December 19 bon bon is one that comes in a pack of 30 that's been stored on the lower shelves at the $2 shop. It's the little flag bearer that rides out before the army: pretty innocuous in itself but signalling big things to come.

The December 22 bon bons are a slightly different story. It's getting more serious by December 22 because The Day is nearly here, but while December 22 gatherings are Significant, they're not the Big Christmas Cheese itself.

So the December 22 bon bon cracks delightfully and appropriately with the friendliest tug from your neighbour, the little plastic ship is almost sea worthy (with room for Tinkerbell or a very small Oompaloompah), and the word-play of the joke is a tiny step above that of the December 19 joke: what shakes and sits at the bottom of the ocean? A nervous wreck!

The December 22 bon bon is the foot soldier of the bon bon world: hard-working and fearless but not the glittering leader.

The bon bons that come out on Christmas day are often worthy of immediate pre-posthumous memorialisation. They are gigantic, threaded with gold leaf and most often studded with diamonds. They are worth more than the average black market kidney and are delivered by guards in armoured vans just moments before the bon bonage begins.

When you crack one of these babies open it's like Kerry Packer has left the front door to his house wide open and his safes unlocked. The paper hat is so well constructed you could wear it to the cricket, and the prize wouldn't look out of place on a chain around your neck. And the joke? Why did Phil fall off his bike? Because he was a goldfish!

Ok, so no matter what the date or the price, the jokes don't get any better, and hurrah for that!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Once Upon a Time

Dear Learned Judges,

Please find below our entry for The World's Greatest Online Collective Story competition. We humbly submit it is a fine story and trust you will enjoy it.

Yours most humbly, the undersigned:

Leo Tolstoy, Italo Calvino, man bag, Anon, Cormac McCarthy, Kettle
a.k.a The Kettle Collective Story Collective

** A huge thanks to everyone who contributed!

It's Time

[Leo Tolstoy] All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. Everything had gone wrong in [Kettle] John Howard's household.

[Italo Calvino] Only three months ago one of his sons, Baron Bruno had refused to eat some very palatable snailmeal porridge and then he'd gone to live on the roof, which was COLORBOND® Pale Eucalypt®. He'd yelled, "I'll never come down again!" and so far he'd been true to his word.

[man bag] This was troubling to Baron Howard, who was pretty sure Bastardo Bush wasn't having roof-related issues with his daughters, and knew for a fact (thanks to the webcam he'd hooked up in the White House, when he was, you know, a somebody) that Bush's kidsters happily ate their snailmeal porridge every morning at ground level.

Baron Howard sighed and cursed the day he put the COLOURBOND in. "It's just so damn attractive, is that COLOURBOND® Pale Eucalypt®. If only it was skankarse I wouldn't have lost my son to it. Oh well," he yabbered to Janette, who sat at the kitchen table doing a sudoku, "at least I still have my dignity."

When he left the room Janette had a good old snort to herself, picked up the phone and rang [Anonymous] Blanche D'Apulget. "Oh Blanche," sighed Janette, "I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm just not used to having him around the house. He's sent Bruno up the roof and is sending me round the twist. What does one do with an ousted Prime Minister?"

"Ah," said Blanche, "I know just the thing."

[Cormac McCarthy] "Just cos the rodeo's over, it don't mean yer Johnny can never ride again honey. When you fall off a horse you gotta get right back on again right quick. Now whut you've gotta do is get yer husband Johnny there a game called 'Commander in Chief'. That way he can go pretendin' he's the president of america and boy howdy that's gotta be better than bein' prime minister of whutever yer country's name is. Yer Johnny will feel like he's back in the saddle in no tahm and purtnear all man agin. Now yer've gotta be firm with the boy Bruno, you gotta get yer gun and shoot 'im down cos it's the only way he'll learn whut's good for him. And whun yer done makin' him feel all man Janey darlin' yer should cook him a pumpkin pie. Yeeha!"

[Kettle] With this excellent advice Janette sallied forth to the shops to buy 'Commander in Chief' for her newly-about-the-house man. She was delighted to find an Australian version, gloriously entitled 'Prime Minister: the Big Cheese Down Under'. Rushing home she had just enough time to get the game loaded on the PC before 'The Bold and the Beautiful' started.

Meanwhile, Baron Howard was beavering away in the study, sorting through boxes of papers from his time in office. He lifted boxes here and sorted files there and at last he came to a large box resting precipitously on the edge of a shelf high up in his book case. He nudged it forward, first the right side, then the left, then he nudged again and pulled and lifted and grunted and heaved and what ho! Down came the box in one crashing mess on top of the Baron's head!

Papers and letters fluttered everywhere; a report entitled 'Project Bobbing Apples: The Children Overboard Affair' settled on his right hand while another called 'How to Close a Peak Indigenous Body in 10 Easy Steps' came to a stop on his left thigh. The lid of the box spun on its corner then settled on the Baron's head; 'My Greatest Triumphs,' it read in big, black letters.

Night came and the Baron lay under his papers, out cold on his study floor. He didn't hear the leaves rustle outside his study window; he didn't see the window being raised; and he didn't know someone was climbing into the room with him.

The intruder crept quietly up to Baron Howard, and, settling by his head gently lifted the lid from his face and waved a glossy brochure to and fro over the greying pate. It was Baron Bruno waving the latest COLORBOND® catelogue!

Baron Howard began to stir so Baron Bruno quickly crept back over to the window and hoisted himself up onto the roof and out of sight.

When Baron Howard awoke, he rubbed his foggy head and pulled himself out from under his papers. He stumbled out to the living room and found Janette snoring gently on the couch. He caught sight of 'Prime Minister: The Big Cheese Down Under' set up on the computer and sat down to play.

The night wore on and Baron Howard kept playing. He set up committees and wrote terms of reference and reviewed a few sets of regulations.

Then something extraordinary happened: he opened talks with not-for-profit organisations and called a summit on the environment. He started to feel good! He gave extra funding to AIDS research and released the refugees at Woomera and opened a koala sanctuary in Bankstown. He was on a roll, he liked doing good things, he wanted to do more! He signed the Kyoto Protocol and apologised to the Stolen Generation and started being taken seriously by leaders around the world!

With every good decision the Baron changed a little, a new set of glasses here, a lightening of his hair there, until by the time the sun rose he was no longer the bushy eye-browed sap he'd once been. He was a lean, keen, Kevin machine!

When the clock struck seven Janette yawned and stretched and looked over at the Baron, who sat beaming at the computer, loving his new and improved self. "My my," said Janette when she saw that the Baron had become a Kevinator, "I always was partial to the other side... and blondes."

So they had a happy snog and the Baron promised never to do evil things again. Their son looked on from the skylight, grinning from ear to ear. "COLORBOND® - what a force for good," he marvelled, and started to make his way down from the roof, on a ladder that leant a little to the left, to rejoin the family.

The End.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just call me 'Sadie'... or not

I had occasion to clean yesterday, and it was less fun than I anticipated. As I shifted piles, dusted, sorted crap, re-shifted the same piles, got tired, then bored, then wished I'd never started, I started thinking about the things I'd rather be doing. The top five were:

1. Not cleaning.
2. Sifting through the 'Work Wanted' column looking for someone to clean up my crap for me.
3. Having my tonsils removed.
4. Eating raw eggs (with or without tonsils).
5. Creating a new library classification system (actually, that could be quite fun).

My day of cleaning also led to the following realisations:

1. Paper is a life-form and multiplies when left alone in warm places out of light.
2. There are no prizes for being the messiest person in the house.
3. The underside of the couch harbours many wonderous things.
4. Moving piles from one room to another doesn't fix the problem.

On the plus side, my day of cleaning led to the following delightful finds:

1. A mountain of bull dog clips.
2. Um, actually that's it on the plus side, just lots of bull dog clips, but that's cool, they're great bull dog clips.

On another note, the second Kettle Collective Story is simmering along beautifully here! So far John Howard's son, Baron Bruno, has climbed onto the COLORBOND® Pale Eucalypt® roof and won't come down following a sticky episode with some snailmeal porridge; Janette is despairing about having John about the house all day so has called Blanche D'Apulget for some advice about dealing with deposed leaders of small to medium Pacific nations; Blanche has suggested Janette do something with computer games and pumpkin pie to fix the situation.

So don't leave us hanging! Won't someone bring this story home! Of course, fame, fortune, public adoration etc guaranteed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Would you like fries with that?

Pic from here.

There are few things more entertaining than the pseudo-science that gets trotted out every spring. Why spring? Because that's when the magical get-ready-for-summer diet stories start to appear.

We've seen them all, year after glorious year on A Current Affair: the Hallelujah diet (follow the Bible's diet principles); the wrong-hand diet (eat with your wrong hand! Your body will be so confused it simply won't know how to eat so won't!); and my personal favourite, the Atkins diet where, let me get this right, you just eat pork crackling?

It's not until a few summers have passed that the side effects of many of these diets hit the news: the Hallelujah diet will see you frequently tossed to the lions; the wrong-hand diet will teach you to be ambidextrous so you'll be twice as efficient at eating; and the Atkins diet will lead to certain and early death.

This year the focus is on carb-free diets. A new study has shown that a diet without carbs makes you dumber. As the SMH reports, "Popular low-carbohydrate diets may slim the waistline but they can also shrink the brain," and that's not something many of us can afford.

So in the interests of public safety I thought I'd put together a list of people who are obviously on a low carb diet and have clearly experienced significant brain-shrinkage and thus need help:

1. Any of the winners of the Darwin Award
2. Helen Demidenko
3. The safety officer at Chernobyl
4. Schapelle Corby
5. Any of the writers on the Home and Away team

If you ever meet any of these people, send them to the nearest trattoria, stat! Or else just throw them to the lions with the Hallelujah crowd.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All I want for Christmas

Sometimes reading the headlines looking for something that is just crying out to be teased is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Ordinarily I hate boganesque, cliched similes, and 'shooting fish in a barrel' would have to be up there with such pearlers as 'like sands through the hour-glass' and 'like a bat out of hell' (which, frankly, has always baffled and slightly frightened me?), but here we are with front pages heavily populated with headline-fish gazing up at me blankly just waiting to be pinioned with my fish-pinioning stick. Oh happy days!

We've got stuff about Baz's Australia and how the tax-payers are footing the bill, we've got the Queen cutting back what with the whole economic crisis thingy (don't you know she insists that the Buckingham Palace lights are turned off when rooms are vacated and left-overs from banquets are reused; how about donating your palace to a women's refuge and your catering budget to, I don't know, a developing country, you crazy lady), and we've got something about twat-heads with trillion-watt Santas on their roofs (my least fave Christmas light is a stop sign that says 'Santa, Stop Here!' Amazing! So clever! Otherwise Santa would have flown right by!).

Anyhoo, so we've got a plethora of nob-heads to poke fun at, but I'm going to leave them all where they are and instead take the happy-happy-joy-joy path straight to Obama. That's right! It's been too long, hasn't it, since we last visited Obama. And now we find him in a computer game.

For all those back-seat presidents out there, now we can all have a crack at being the big cheese. The game is called 'Commander in Chief' and is set to be released in the States on January 20, Obama's inauguration day.

Says Louis-Marie Rocques, the lead designer on the game: "You can put your own political theories into action and see the domestic and international domino effect."

Now I can stop rabbiting on about benevolent dictatorships and philosopher kings and finally take over the world!

My only disappointment is that the game's not out until January 20th; wouldn't it make for a fun New Years Eve?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Movin' right along

It's been a week of endings: some chosen, some not, some good, some less so.

But with the week behind us let's get started on something new! It seems like a fitting time to pen another Kettle Collective Story; I do hope you'll join me.

And looky! Tolstoy's pitching in with the first line (good one, Leo):

"All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. Everything had gone wrong in [Kettle] John Howard's household...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Really Great Writer

I was really sad to learn this morning that Dorothy Porter, poet, died yesterday.

I can't do her work any justice by talking about it; it's best if she speaks for herself:

Here's an excerpt from her latest verse novel, El Dorado.

Here's Porter's bibliography on wiki.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Woz up?

Thanks for the pic,! Free = cool.

I know this is potentially the World's Most Boring Topic and you may hear a faint 'neigh! neigh!' as I flog this almost dead horse, but text speak really shits me.

Not so much for the purity of the language thang but because it takes me too bloody long to read it.

My marker of an unsuccessful text communication is when I have to lean over to the person sitting next to me on the train and say "I'm so awfully sorry to bother you, but I've just received this very silly message from a very lovely but silly friend and I can't understand a bleedin' word of it. Would you be ever so kind as to tell me what 'ttyl' means?"

Usually said neighbour and the chappy sitting behind us are stumped too. The kid across the aisle suggests 'time to yell loudly' and I throw in 'ten tonne yellow legs' but that doesn't seem to make much sense at all. Half an hour (and several new friends) later we're still no closer to knowing what the heck darn it all means.

So a new study has shown it takes almost a trillion years to read a message in text-speak out loud while it takes only 14 seconds to read a message in 'conventional English'. Frankly I'd rather be creating a new universe or counting blades of grass etc in that trillion years than getting to the nutty core of 'ttyl'.

On the plus side, taking half an hour to read a text may lead to delightful flights of fancy: as Words, Wine, Coffee, Art suggested a few posts ago, 'lol' could easily be 'little old lady'. Throw in a haunted castle, accountant and a set of coloured pencils and we've got a Great Australian Novel. Noice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What ho land ahoy!

I'm loving for free photos. Cheers you share-y internetty people you.

My recent foray into the world of trainspotting has led me to all sorts of fascinating potential hobbies, and has made me wish I'd perhaps done a little more research into the options available before launching myself into the world as a non-practising trainspotter.

The good folk at very neatly classify hobbies into such useful categories as 'Observation and Spotting', 'Historical Re-enactments' and 'Robots'. I can think of no other area of life in which these categories would rub shoulders, can you?

If your penchant is for observation and spotting, why confine yourself to something as mainstream as trainspotting? How about a spot of 'birding' (very usefully translated by for non-spotters out there as 'bird watching')? Or bus spotting? Or cloud watching? Or geyser gazing? Or, gawd love this glorious, choice-filled world we live in: satellite watching.

So my research has led me to gongoozling. And what would a gongoozler spot, dear hobby-heads? Why canals of course. Life on canals. Sure the lack of canals in Australia may mean I'm more of an armchair gongoozler, but what a concept.

So how might a gongoozler fill an afternoon? Why with a close inspection of the operation of locks and alternative devices such as inclined planes, water slopes, and boat lifts with types like the Anderton boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel and the Strepy-Thieu boat lift. Oh mercy, that Strepy-Thieu is a real doozy of a boat lift.

Once you've worn yourself out with all the gongoozling, you can head home and look for the best priced canal photos on eBay, then re-arrange your collection of canal cards, then send a few canal-related emails at your pals in the Canal Card Collectors Circle (affiliated to the Inland Waterways Association).

Then a whole evening on ooh look! The Panama Canal: The Story of How a Jungle Was Conquered and the World Made Smaller, I've been looking for that. Yes yes, let's get one-day shipping.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Put it in your diaries!

Photo by Julie Milberger from this site... which is completely unrelated to this post, and which I haven't read, but which has a cool pic, so cheers, Julie.

I'm very excited to learn that Australia is about to get it's own 24-hour tv station dedicated to politics. I know! I know! I can barely contain my beating fun-stick either!

In a move of striking originality, our station is to be called 'A-SPAN,' which bears a striking similarity to the US's 'C-SPAN,' but with an 'a' out the front instead of a 'c'.

This is about as original as our 'New South Wales'. Seriously, could we be any more descriptive and any less original? So it was like Wales, but in the south and new. Aren't we clever clogs for coming up with that?

So A-SPAN will broadcast speeches an' stuff from a whole bunch of nerdy nation-running type people.

And it will be hilarious, too, if the launch by the nerdy nation-running type person Prime Minister Rudd is anything to go by. Apparently Mr Rudd said Australian question time might pose some challenges for US audiences.

He reportedly mused that Americans would require subtitles for insults such as "scumbag" and "sleazebag" which could be translated into "not a desirable person" and "an even less desirable person".

Ah mercy, the comedy channel had better watch out!

A-SPAN will be available on pay tv from January 20; be there and you'll most definitely be square.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Railfans Anonymous

Cheers to The Beast for the photo.

Have you ever had the realisation that you're half-arsedly obsessed with something but didn't really know it until you look back over the pattern of your life and there it is, over and over again, staring you in the face like a wall-mounted trout?

Having had occasion to visit a few train stations lately, I recently found myself calmly and reasonably (or more accurately: blurting excitedly) to all and sunder: "You-know-I-would-be-quite-happy-doing-this-all-day-get-myself-a-nice-little-clipboard-mark-the-trains-off-the-timetable-quite-satisfying-really-you-know-ticking-things-off-I'm-surprised-there-aren't-more-people-here-where-are-all-the-people?-don't-they-know-there-are-trains-they-could-be-watching-are-they-really-having-coffee/doing-the-laundry/asleep-when-there's-all-this-to-be-enjoying?"

So it appears I'm some kind of newly outed, non-practising nut-bar trainspotter. Who would have known?

I had fairly inauspicious beginnings in terms of trainspotting. My uncle was a rail enthusiast and spent his Sunday afternoons building a large and complicated model train system in his garage. I'm afraid I used to make fun of the poor chappy and throw silly jibes at him that included the words 'grown adult,' 'Thomas the Tank Engine' and 'toot toot!' just loud enough for him to hear over his 3:42 express.

Until my epiphany I would have (and did) make fun of all things rail-related. Until my epiphany I would have (and did) think the Wiki people were having a bit of a guffaw in the 'Railfan' article when they captioned a photo of two people watching a train go by with "Railfans practising their hobby at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin," and another of a hillside of camera-holding people above an empty train track with "Railfan photographers awaiting a special train in Belgium".

But now, post-epiphany, I can only hope someone is there to capture the moment when I see my first Westbound intermodal with blue leader.

I've also got this thing about the postal system, but that's for another confessional.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jingle balls... up

Now that the inanity of my previous post has receded from my immediate memory (good lawd what was that about?) let's get back to more interesting things: a biffo at a Christmas funpark in London. Hurrah!

So a whole bunch of silly sods paid £30 for entry into what has been charmingly re-named a "Winter Blunderland".

Apparently the funpark was little more than a "glorified car boot sale" with a Nativity scene painted on a billboard, a broken ice-skating rink and huskies tied up outside their kennels in a muddy field. Sounds simply crap-o-riffic to me.

It also sounds like another mighty fine way to part fools from their money. To my list of ways to make money post-economic downturn (including selling moss-scented candles and stealing things off the blind) I can now add Christmas Dream Destroying and Bubble Bursting.

Not to mention Professional Funpark Troublemaker... because that's who the park is blaming for the rucus (yep, seriously).

So there were four-hour waits to see Santa (who then refused to let kids sit on his knee), followed by the punching of said Santa by one angry Dad, then a four-hour wait to pick up a present, followed by the slapping of an elf by one angry Mum. I can't wait for Jerry Springer's erudite analysis of the situation.

Apparently one child had to be comforted after finding a Santa smoking a cigarette outside his grotto. Lucky the kid didn't see the Santa shooting up behind the dumpster.

Don't you love the festive season?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Weird Science

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

This little theory, that a name has no intrinsic connection to the thing it represents (so sweetly articulated by Ms Capulet via the Bardic Big Cheese) is periodically taken out of the cupboard for quiet contemplation but not often held up to rigorous scientific analysis.*

Indeed, in theory a rose would smell as sweet if it were called a 'skanky-arsed-cesspit,' it's just that no-one would get close enough to check it out.

So let's have a peek into the skanky-arsed-cesspit of the Rose/Name/Smelling as Sweetly theory and see if we can't apply some rigorous scientific principles to it.**

Step one in our analysis must be to determine a suitable experimental subject. By happy happenstance I came upon the Chilliwack Progress the other day, a delightful daily out of British Columbia. With its distinctive name and heavily hyperlinked home-page I'm hoping it will prove a fruitful subject for our investigation.

Let us begin, then, by identifying the features of said news site's name. Frankly it's got something of the Homer Simpson about it, don't you think? What with the inclusion of chillies (season eight, episode nine: 'Springfield Chili Cook-Off') and wacking (add an 'h' and you've got season four, episode 20: 'Whacking Day').

So we've got a name connotative of a heavy-set yellow cartoon man who, at a class reunion, won trophies for "most weight gained, most hair lost, most improved odour and person who had travelled the least distance to be there". Excellent.

Let us move on to step two of our rigorous scientific analysis: examining the subject's distinctive features, in this case the Chilliwack Progress's content. For this we need look no further than this list of headlines from the front page (unedited, unfiltered and unsorted), thus:

  • Three more Bigfoot sightings reported
  • NEW!! Collision claims one life
  • Nearly nude teens disrupt high school football game
  • Slain Trail man identified
  • WEB FIRST: Victim in homicide identified
  • Victim was seeking positive changes
  • Thousands more from B.C. cities
  • [Hang in there, we're almost at the end]
  • Abby Police capture four teens and stolen car
  • Plant shuts down production
  • Cyclist in stable condition after Highway 97 collision
  • [Only two more, thank chroist]
  • NEW!! Highway may be open to traffic at noon
  • NEW!! Highway 97 re-opened

I kid you not: CAPITALS and !!! and 'web first' claims all part of the original headlines.

So we need to ask if this content has any intrinsic-type connection with a yellow cartoon man who at a school reunion won awards for most weight gained yadda yadda.

Bigfoot, nearly nude teenagers, Homer Simpson, Chilliwack Progress... I don't know where the name ends and the object begins.

We have thereby debunked the Rose/Name/Smelling as Sweetly theory.

Wow, science is really easy.

* Could this sentence be any longer?
* Scientific principles not actually applied, rigorous or otherwise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read all about it. Or don't.

My time-wastage through the globe's dailies continues unabated with my eye-rolling at cheese-ball headlines keeping apace, so today I thought I'd bring these two glorious past-times together. "Oh happy day!" I hear you cry. Oh happy day indeed.

So let us not waste precious time-wastage minutes ruminating on the whys and wherefores of headline construction and story placement; let us let the little gems speak for themselves:

1. The New York Times brings us "Obama's choice for U.N. is advocate of strong action against mass killing": um, not so much funny-funny as scary-funny? Against mass killing: good start.

2. The brings us "London Scottish Bank goes into administration" followed swiftly by "Government must rethink bank bail-out". Note to self if were UK Prime Minister: think about rethinks before major balls-ups with major banks.

3. Also on the Tele site: "Warm glow from Coldplay": a contrast worthy of a fifth grader. Imagine! 'Warm' for 'cold'!

4. Ooh ooh from the Tele again: "Christmas tree boss denounces 'toilet brush' artificial versions". Headline aside... there's a British Christmas Tree Growers Association? Cool.

5. The Chilliwack Progress could bring us anything and it would be charming and delightful.

6. But The Sydney Morning Herald takes today's award for pulling this family of punny badness together: "Project gum way: Toothsome Heidi Klum shocks TV host" and yep, you knew it was coming, the caption under the photo reads: "Dental as anything... Heidi Klum shows her extracted teeth on American television".

Wrongness, grossness, and more wrongness. As Jay Leno said: "Any fantasy I had is pretty much over now" ... about Heidi Klum and the world's sub-editors.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"An egg a day keeps the axe away" - mercy!

Man I'm so cheating today, busy weekend yadda yadda, so hurrah for the hard-working Simon Webster of the SMH for this chicken-based weekend hilarity.

Headline: 'Emo chooks cry fowl'.

Expectation: high; met.

I promise not to be so paltry, no wait, poultry, tomorrow (snort snort, guffaw guffaw).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When I grow up

After many wasted years at university and a HECS debt that matches the deficit of a small country, I think I've finally hit on the career that will make my life worthwhile and meaningful: sudoku champion.

Sure I've never done a sudoku before and the little puzzle above leaves me slightly cross-eyed, but there's an 11 year old chappy (Lucas Yeo) who's just completed a puzzle in 1 minute and 38 seconds and made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest sudoku. Surely if a pre-teen can bang a few numbers into a grid and break a record I could have a crack too?

So I thought I'd run through some of the features of a sudoku champion to see how I match up. Do I too have the potential for great record-breaking-grid-filling?

1. According to his school principal, Lucas "comes across as quite disorganised in some ways... His desk's always all over the place. He doesn't come across as an organised person." On this Lucas and I are like identical twins, completely indistinguishable.

2. According to Lucas's principal again, his talent "came out of the blue". Similarly my talent at sudoku would be completely out of the blue, having previously shown no talent for numbers, grids, patterns, problem solving or logical thinking. We're clones, this Lucas and I.

3. Apparently it took Lucas 10 days to complete his first puzzle. I reckon (actually, I desperately hope) I could finish one in 10 days, and if I have absolutely no other commitments I might just succeed. Again, like Danny DeVito and Arnie, who could tell Lucas and I apart?

4. Apparently Lucas can hold the 81 spaces of a sudoku puzzle in his head at once...

Ok, so this is all starting to sound a bit hard. Maybe I'm better suited to hamster sudoku...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why I hate headlines

Here's a beautiful example of why newspapers (excepting Icelandic ones) leave me thoroughly disappointed and wandering around all day singing the Star Wars theme with the lyrics "lame lame lame laaaame lame / lame lame lame laaaaaaaame lame," and etc.

Headline on homepage: "Copyright police are patrolling cinemas with night vision devices."

Expectations: high; there are copyright police? Do they have a uniform? Do they carry truncheons with red pens attached?

Headline at the top of article: "Cinema 'cops' deploy night vision devices."

Expectations: lowering; lameness of story rising due to use of single quote marks around 'cops'.

Caption under photo of probably quite sweet cinema chappy who we now pretty much hate enough to throw javelins at because he's dobbing on the kids who are just try'na have fun: "A cinema employee demonstrates a night vision scope used to spot illegal video taping."

Expectations: abyssal; lameness confirmed.

I'm mostly disappointed that I'm like some kind of goldfish-brained reader who gets excited about headlines anew every day, having sweetly forgotten the steep gradient I've just witnessed a story go tumbling down not 15 seconds before.

Oh well.

Ooh look! "Navy sunk my trawler, not pirates"...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What ho, what news?

I've recently discovered Icelandic newspapers and from them I've deduced that life is far more interesting in Iceland than anywhere else.*

While my local newspaper is blabbing on today about recessions, sleeping tablets and Gordon Ramsay (surprisingly, not in the same article), the Reykjavik Grapevine is leading today with the Viking giant show, the glacial boogey-worm the Lagarfljótsormurinn (try saying that fast after a visit to the Egill Skallagrímsson Brewery), and a list of top fives for November including top five important changes necessary in Icelandic society and the top five concerts attended by Petur Eggertsson (don't know who he is but how cool a name is 'Petur'?).

While my newspaper is banging on about teen drinkers and petrol prices, the Reykjavik Grapevine is spreading the good word about taking a Northern Lights tour and how the world can be changed through Icelandic fiction.

And while my paper has no ad more exciting than the Nissan end-of-year car sale, the Grapevine contains the work of beauty pictured above. Sure it might be an ad for incontinence undies but how prettily does "verour svaoilfor a Graenlandi naesta sumarfri" roll off the tongue?

If you're still unmoved by the erudition and magnificence of the Icelandic dailies check out what Miss Finland is reported in the IceNews as doing while suspended from a rope. If you can find a story as interesting in your local paper I'll eat my hattur.

* Factoid not based on actual research.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Musical Confessional

It's possible that I'm the last person to discover this, but did you know that no-one likes musicals?

Apparently most people would prefer to spend the rest of their days doing public speaking engagements (or heck, their taxes and / or dying) than go to a musical.

In fact, I recently scored free tickets to see the multi-award winning, highly acclaimed smash hit Billy Elliot and my aggrieved viewing companions felt we'd paid too much.

"That's a bit harsh," I thought, as the bell rang to mark the end of intermission. "Silly buggers, just wait 'til they see the second half, I can't WAIT for them to see how it all comes together."

It took me ten minutes to realise THEY WEREN'T COMING BACK.

Anyhoo, so I accept there are problems with musicals, including naffness, general offence to intelligence, and the bringing forward of the onset of dementia. But it's possible (I have to believe it is) that there's someone else out there who could spend a heart-stopping 120 minutes watching grown adults leap around in cat costumes, so for the sake of the two of us, here are some bad-arse musicals that might just win you non-believers over:




Hmm, after staring at my blinking cursor for a good half and hour I've realised there is nothing good about musicals. I wonder if it's too late to get a refund for my ticket to Jerry Springer: The Opera?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I knew you were going to say that

Illustration by Spashlight; Photograph by Angela Jimenez for The New York Times

My search for a new wealth creation plan post-financial-bun-fight continues and I think that I may have just hit upon the winner.

The financial benefits of my earlier suggestions (including commandeering an oil-laden tanker, and encouraging our friends and loved ones to become Jehovah's Witnesses in order to save on birthday presents) pale in comparison to today's sterling example of entrepreneurship: become a psychic and give financial advice!

The New York Times interviewed one poor dear chappy (a Mr Taccetta, stock trader) who is reported as saying “when conditions are this volatile, consulting a psychic can be as good a strategy as any other.”

Mercy! On this logic standing half way across a bridge wearing plimsolls and facing north-east while throwing bundles of dollar bills to the evening wind is a good strategy.

I've been so black hat about the financial crisis, harping on about despairing brokers and suggesting we spend our freshly minted unemployment watching re-runs of Twin Peaks and stealing things off the visually impaired (sound the moral bankruptcy alarm!).

But now I'm switching to my yellow hat because fabulous new growth areas, with 'practitioners' eager and willing to help part fools from their money, are starting to appear.

These are happy business days for psychics, astrologers, people who channel spirits and those who read palms. Due to high demand, some psychics have been able to charge up to $1,000 an hour for 'insights'. Give me a thousand bucks and I'll give you an insight, any insight you like.

The NYT reports a psychic in LA is charging $70 for moss-scented candles, available on her website. I'm not entirely clear what a moss-scented candle would do, but if I felt like standing on that bridge wearing plimsolls flinging money etc I'd be happy to let you know how it goes.

I see great things for these industries. See, I have the gift.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Man with globe and suitcase does stuff with books

So I'm thoroughly enjoying my new dictionary. I laughed through 'H', cried through 'J' and I can't wait to see what you make of the cliff-hanger at the end of 'P' (do you think Pythagoras's victory will be a Pyrrhic one?).

I'm now deeply immersed in 'S': oh sepulchre, sequacious, seraglio, serendipity, Serengeti National Park... like a gentle stream tripping delightfully down the page, one sparkling word giving way to the next... Seuss, Dr, seven deadly sins, 7-Eleven...

"And what ho!" I hear you cry, "can it get any better than this?" Indeed it can, dear friends, because this dictionary bears the name 'Bill Bryson' on the cover. That's right, it's Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors.

Forget writing the Great Australian/American/Danish Novel or discovering the cure for blah blah disease-that-affects-baby-seals blah, write yourself a dictionary and you'll be assured long and loud public adoration.

History provides us with a raft of examples: Samuel Johnson and his Dictionary of the English Language (you know, that old chestnut), and my personal favourite, Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas which very neatly defines 'absinthe' as "extra-violent poison: one glass and you're dead. Newspapermen drink it as they write their copy. Has killed more soldiers than the Bedouin."

Who can but feel safe when such wordy celebrities put quill to parchment, fingers to keyboard, tongue in cheek?

Who can but understand my disquiet, then, on reading the following on the dust-jacket of Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors:

"Originally published as The Penguin Dictionary for Writers and Editors, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors has now been completely revised and updated for the twenty-first century BY BILL BRYSON HIMSELF."

Well crap I hadn't even considered the possibility that Bill Bryson DIDN'T have anything to do with this book, you know, the one that's been published with his name on the front cover, until I read that he really WAS involved. Way to kill the illusion, dust-jacket-blurb-writer.

Nevermind, let's get back to 'S' and see if the Shar Pei make it to the Shea Stadium with the help of the Sherpas... Do you think they'll stay shtum? Sterling stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't mention *bama

Deary me I do so want to say something about *BAMA! It's killing me this whole write-about-something-else-anything-else thing. With a headline screaming at me today like 'Greer lets loose on Michelle *bama's 'butcher's apron'' it's hardly human to expect a kettle to hold to what is clearly now a ridiculous and un-holdable promise to not mention *bama.

So... let's say a friend of mine wants to say something about *bama... this friend's name being 'Schmangerous Schmettle'... he or she may comment how hilarious it is that Germaine Greer has referred to Michelle *bama's dress as a "geometrical hemorrhage".

A geometrical hemorrhage! Such poetry actually makes the diss even more acute.

According to Greer in her column in the Guardian the dress was "a poster in the most disturbing colours known to man, the colours of chaos. Coral snakes and venomous spiders signal their destructive potential by the display of similarly violent contrasts".

Either Germaine Greer is super-brainy and should really be the new leader of the free world (sorry *bama), or else she's a chapter short of The Divine Comedy.

Frankly I don't know, but am happy to side with the blogger who is reported to have complained that she could hardly listen to president-elect Barack *bama's speech "for fear of that dress".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More piratical un-funniness

As a conscientious objector to hype, I can't write about the new Nicole Kidman / Hugh Jackman mega-flick 'Australia' (although it is just CRYING OUT for a significant crap-stirring) so instead I'm happily revisiting one of my favourite foot-in-mouth topics: pirates.

You may remember my previous assessment of piratical activities around the globe which quickly descended from a shivery-me-timbers silly fest into a sad realisation that pirating is an awfully serious problem. But in the style of a kettle with amnesia and my foot unceremoniously shoved in my mouth here I am again, stomping around in issues I have no understanding of but which really do sound like 'Happy Gilmore' meets 'The Perfect Storm'.

So the Somali pirates have struck again off the coast of Kenya! This time their bounty is a Saudi supertanker, the size of a US aircraft carrier. Knowing nothing about ships I can't tell you if a US aircraft carrier is the same size as, say, a Danish aircraft carrier, but if the spatial ratio for aircraft carriers is the same as the ratio between the US dollar and the Danish krone we're looking at a ratio of 1 US aircraft carrier to 5.8027865 Danish aircraft carriers, so the Danish ship is 5.8 times the size of the US ship but worth the same?

As I said, I'm no expert on ships so let's move on. The Somali pirates have commandeered a Saudi supertanker full of oil and are demanding a ransom for it. This is a rather sad story, involving hostages and disenfranchised Somalians, but I'm happy to report two positive outcomes from this sorry situation.

Firstly, the pirates have drawn high and glorious praise from the US Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: he said the pirates were "very good at what they do...Tactically, they are very good." Everyone likes positive feedback so I do hope the pirates have the opportunity to read the Admiral's comments.

And secondly I think this just might be my new wealth creation strategy! Just gotta find me a supertanker laden with oil... or 5.8 Danish aircraft carriers.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I was very happy to receive a great new dictionary for my birthday (thanks e) and have just tonight started reading it.

The narrative seems a little disconnected (we have jumped from 'imbroglio' to 'imminent' when I would have thought it would make more sense if it was an 'imminent imbroglio', unless of course it's 'Imbroglio? Imminent!'), but I'm sure it all comes together when Messieurs Zeingli and Zworykin eat the zwiebacks at the end. I've heard it's a real 'zut alors!' ending.

Anyhoo, while it's entirely possible you've already fallen off your chair with intense boredom and / or sudden onset sleep I choose instead to cajole myself into believing you're intensely interested in transitive verbs and that this post is, indeed, making your day.

I've been deeply enamoured with the rules of possession for many years (be still my beating apostrophe-stick), but tonight I have discovered a new love: plurals. Look at these little rosebuds of loveliness:

1. You're a dodgy-arsed police chief and you've only got one agent provocateur currently infiltrating a heavily tattooed, drug-dealing hit squad. You need more: send in several agents provocateurs.

2. You're having high tea with a poet laureate and another several walk in so you're having high tea with poets laureate (or, equally, poet laureates).

3. One mountain goat trots along next to you on your morning highland stroll and you've got one ibex with you. The rest of the herd joins you and you're surrounded by ibexes.

4. Found a lonely 'g' behind the couch? Throw it into 'larynx' for a whole bunch of 'larynges'.

If you're still with me, thank you. Tomorrow as a special treat: words without vowels! Ooh goody, let's get started: 'cwmtwrch'...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

As a young Generation X-er through the '90s I revelled in my X-er status: I sneered at baby boomers, read Easton Ellis with my eyes closed, and wanted to be Winona Ryder (more the whole Reality Bites thing than the cry-for-help kleptomania).

Then with the arrival of Generation Y, we Gen X-ers moved from being the precocious generational youngest child to the confused and displaced middle child. We started having to shout to be heard above the roar of our older siblings' Winnebagos and our younger siblings' Vespas. Today we don't seem to be talented in any way, except at whingeing, bemoaning and being ignored.

That's right my angsty Gen X friends, we have become Jan Brady.

There's nothing that gets a poetically inclined demographer waxing more lyrically than when describing the difference between generation X and Y. Gen Y have variously (and gloriously) been described as confident, idealistic, optimistic, highly entrepreneurial, hard-working, socially and environmentally responsible, blah blah economic prosperity blah. It's all happiness and light and infinite possibilities for Gen Y.

For Gen X, it's all 'oh woe is me, don't hog the razor blades'. As Gen X-ers we should be happier: we're tech-savvy, educated and ethnically diverse, but that just means we can start blogs, quote philosophers and whinge to people across the globe (I think we all know what Kant said about Gen Y, haw haw).

So Gen Y rules the world and Gen X is going to hell in a hybrid car.

But sitting here brooding at my Gen X computer I've come across a happy-happy-joy-joy quote I wanted to share with you. Said the demographer Bernard Salt, quoted in a recent SMH article:

"In some respects the looming recession in 2009 will abruptly end the long Indian summer of generation Y's youth... I've spoken to a lot to baby boomers and generation X about generation Y and there's definitely the feeling that what these young people need is a JOLLY GOOD RECESSION to shake them up."

Hurrah! A jolly good recession. Bring. It. On.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Game on

In an effort to break the All Time Posts On One Topic record* I'm going to bang on about Obama again today.

Yeah sure I'm looking forward to a new direction in the political and social arenas in the States blah blah blah, but what I'm really looking forward to is playing the Obama game!

Help Obama squash Sarah Palin and her rack of clothes, leap over little RNC piggies, and shoulder-barge a couple of lobbyists, all as you make your way through levels like 'I can see Russia from my house!'.

Ah mercy, I think the makers of this game should get their own country to run.

* Record not officially recognised by anyone anywhere.

A big Obamarama thanks to metromix via The Post Family for this Obamarama fun.

I promise no more Obama for a while...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


It might not look like a joy-joy-happy-happy news day (the market's dropped a gazillion points, another foot has washed up off Canada, and the NSW State Government continues to bury us under, well, mystifying political crapola) but I hope you join me in celebrating this photo.

Oh happy day! Oh miraculous online media outlet! It's a brand new despairing broker shot! I've not seen this chappy before, and can I say, broker chappy, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Perhaps we will see you tomorrow again. We've met many of your colleagues several times each: sometimes they're standing in front of the big boards of red numbers, sometimes they're rubbing their eyes (or fixing a contact lens, as one dear reader suggested), and sometimes, like you, they're checking their temples for a pulse.

Here's to a week of negative returns so we can get to know you a little better. Welcome aboard!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Put to better use

Photo: University of Michigan Mechanica

Every now and then a new kind of technology comes along that makes me think we are just the shit. Our brains must be so big it amazes me we can stand upright. In the animal kingdom, you'd want to be us, right? Because there's nothing, nothing we can't do with our opposable thumbs and our massive frontal lobes.

So the good folk at the University of Michigan have corralled their gargantuan brains and come up with these nano images of Obama; oh yes you knew it was coming: Nanobamas.

Not being a scientist I can't make much sense of the technology, so let me just give you some key words and leave you to make of it what you will: 150 million, carbon nanotubes, tens of thousands of times smaller, something about a human hair, something else about garden variety micro dots, microscopes, and lots of teeny tiny 3D Obamas.

Nano thingies are actually pretty cool. They're being used for important things like developing new ways of diagnosing and treating disease, building new types of batteries and creating faster computers.

Obama thingies are also pretty cool. They're developing new ways of running an economy, building new types of empathy and creating faster Republican back-pedalling.

So we're all feeling generally good about nanotechnology and Obama. Says the head of the research team at the U of Mich who created the nanobamas: "I feel demonstrations like this have great value in communicating science and technology to broader audiences."

Says I: I don't care for demonstrations, use your nanotechnology to build me some new vital organs! Find a cure for AIDS! Do something about cancer! Use nanobots to build wells for starving children!

I think technology should be used for good instead of, well, demonstrations. Just imagine what a nano-econo-bot could have done with the US.

Monday, November 10, 2008

No way man, I so called it first

I do so love a good Zeitgeist-calling. You know, some people like to name planets, others like to get in first with hurricanes, and some funny people like to call Zeitgeists.

I think identifying something as the current 'Zeitgeist' is, well, frankly as silly as having to actually say a book is 'seminal' (as in: "This book I wrote on post-industrial Marxist feminism is the seminal text on the topic"... HAVING TO POINT IT OUT MEANS IT ISN'T SO, PEOPLES).

And - argh! - when you call a Zeigeist you run the very real risk of getting it wrong and looking like a total wally. Identifying the spirit of the age means identifying the spirit of the age, not the spirit of the I-love-my-footy-where's-my-pie-throw-it-in-the-ute-mate-geez-that-Kochie's-a-stiff-but-he's-ok cliched wallyism (unless that is the current age? Hmm, this may need revision).

Anyhoo, what's brought on this Zeigeist-calling-bashing is an article in the SMH that has bafflingly suggested that the show that has captured our hearts and is currently warming our cockels, nay that reflects us (dear god, dear readers) is ... Packed to the Rafters.

Says the article: "Once in a while - every four years seems to be the average - a production team manages to catch the Zeitgeist. In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty, someone generates a concept that sums up the times we live in, and out comes a movie or TV show that doesn't just entertain us, it reflects us. Australians watch in their millions because THEY RECOGNISE WHAT THEY ARE, OR WHAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE."

[Please note, I have added capitals where I consider it appropriate to YELL things, you know, IRONICALLY].

So many questions fly out of this. I'm puzzled as to how these chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty are identified (does the temperature actually drop? Is it a matter of carrying around a thermometre and a pen and paper?). Does the production team need to be together / awake / skantily clad to notice said chilly uncertainty?

And how long, really, do these periods of uncertainty last? I mean, if it's hours the production team has a better chance of catching it than if it's only minutes. If it's minutes what if it happens when someone's out to lunch, or in the bathroom, or in the lift, and by the time they get back to work the Zeitgeist has been called and there's nothing to do except hand out the mail and do some stapling?

But my biggest question is why, why, why would two million people watch this show, thereby leading to a Zeitgeist-calling, thereby leading to my disquiet about the state of the Australian psyche, thereby leading to 18 million people booking flights to anywhere-the-heck-outta-here (imminent, I'm sure)?

I'm considering moving to America, what with their whole progressive agenda thingy happening at the moment. On the other hand, they gave us Friends, which led to the calling of the last Zeitgeist...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nut job

Got a long week ahead of you? Spare a thought for this little woodchopper... he must be going nuts! Haw haw.

Quite a nice little ensemble for walnut chopping, although are they loafers?

Geriatric footwear aside, let's get this week off to a swinging start. Go little chopping man!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Made a Story!

Very often in this life we find that the mixing of separate and disparate elements leads to unfortunate and unsavoury results: George W. Bush and the leadership of the world's largest economy, Will Ferrell and testicles, and vegemite and milk.

At other times, we are lucky enough to stumble upon a combination that brings peace, love and joy to all humankind: Jean-Luc Piccard and the Enterprise, Mo2(TiPB)4 (TiPB = 2,4,6-triisopropyl benzoate) and 3′,4′-dihexyl-2,2′-:5′,2″-terthiophene-5,5″-dicarboxylic acid; and the mixing of chocolate and milk.

It is into this latter group that four separate and disparate elements, thrown together by chance and online whimsy, came together to create what could potentially be, and I think I am in no way over-selling this, the Great Australian Novel. Sure, we need another 99,383 polished words but I think we all agree the oyster has been seeded.

That's right, over the last 24 hours we have witnessed the miracle birth of one of the world's greatest (only?) online, anonymous, choose-your-own-adventure-esque story-telling collectives.

A big thank you to Anon, Stephen King and ET for contributing to the first ever Kettle Collective Story. I see big things for us: fame, fortune and not a small amount of tall poppy syndrome-itis from other collective writing collectives. I bet they're kicking themselves in their collective arse for not getting on board with our winning effort.*

In case you were busy yesterday negotiating with your agent over the film rights for your latest novel, I have included our story below for your immediate and awe-inspired perusal:

[Kettle] It was a dark and stormy night. Mabel had been watching tv and fallen asleep on the couch when she was awoken by a knock, knock, knocking at the door. [Anon] When she answered the door she found it was the mailman, who pulled out of his bag [Stephen King] a severed head!

"Wait a minute," said Mabel, "something's not right here. If you're a postman why are you making deliveries at night?"

"It's a new service," said the postman. "Mail delivered... to your front door... at night."

"Oh well then," said Mabel, "why don't you come in. You must be tired from lugging that head around."

So they sat down in the loungeroom and had a cup of tea. Then the postman said [ET] "thank you for the cup of tea," passed Mabel the clip-board and a pen and asked her to sign for the head and was on his way, back out into the night, for his next delivery.

The End.

While in some alternate universe it's possible some of you, dear readers, are muttering quietly to yourselves "thank chroist for the two sweetest words in the world of poorly written drivel: 'The End,'" but given the quality of the piece we're unlikely to hear such disgruntings.

I wait in eager anticipation for the next Kettle Collective Story; don't you?

* Please note, we have not, as yet, won anything.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You're the Star of the Story!

One of the kinder descriptors of writer's block I've heard is 'skant output'.

I've always thought 'skant' should really only be used in relation to bikinis (in the same way that 'augers' can only really be accompanied by 'well'), but here's 'skant' spinning around above a blank piece of paper like a pea on a string, where it really shouldn't be.

There are many possible causes of writer's block, including: procrastination, low intelligence and muteness. Also, in no particular order: lack of resources such as time, money and skill; limitations such as poverty, literacy and education; and major disruptive events such as war and natural disasters.

If you could choose the cause of your malady I'd be putting my hand up for procrastination and low intelligence over war and natural disasters, but that's just me.

It's at times of skant output that my vague communism-is-theoretically-perfect leanings come to the fore, so let us come together, comrades, and use our giant collective brainium to write a short story.

Let's begin:

It was a dark and stormy night. Mabel had been watching tv and had fallen asleep on the couch when she was woken by a knock, knock, knocking at the door...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change has come to America

What a day.

I could start with some lame-arse quip about me being late with this post, you know, today is the fifth and the whole point of the week of the triangle of happiness was that an election, a birthday and a ready-set-go at the horsie track came together on the fourth.

You could say in one sense I'm late, but if I was in, say, Alaska, it would be 11.30pm on the fourth, so technically it's all still good, thanks entirely to the kindness of the international date line and the fact our planet revolves around the sun, etc.

Or if we wanted to start with the horsie point of the triangle I could ask, dear readers, exactly why Bart Cummings's hursuit eye-shades have been referred to as "magical twirling eyebrows".

Or I could ask why jockeys always sound like shrinky dinky bogans when they're interviewed: "Geez, he's the master, Bart Cummings."

To move around to the birthday point of the triangle I could ask if I look any different today from yesterday, when I was a lot younger, much sweeter and definitely more naive.

Or, moving on to the election, I could (it being late and me being tired) just type out some Dad-style* US presidential jokes (A redneck calls up the White House and tells the receptionist: "I’d like to become the next President of the United States.” The receptionist: "What are you, an idiot?" Redneck: "Why, is it required?" Guffaw guffaw).

But I think we all know today (well, the fourth) was about Obama and the fact that we potentially, hopefully, have a very different world ahead of us. Sure it's early days but it's gotta be better than yesterday (well, the third).

All in all, not too shabby a day really. Not too shabby at all.

* Dad, please note this is a generic term for naff, groan-worthy jokes and in no way reflects the quality of your own jokes, which are excellent.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How much is that horsie in the window?

One of my favourite things to do (along with publicly adoring animated inanimate objects) is to shake my head in wonder at the myriad ingenius ways of turning everything into a buck-making exercise.

Yeah sure Marx was 'ere 1848 but I doubt he had as much fun as we will tomorrow when we get to play spot-the-commodity at the Melbourne Cup!

There are lots of fun games you can play with the Melbourne Cup, my faves including 'guess how many "race that stops a nation" in the jellybean jar' and 'watch the twitty tv personalities demonstrating why they have autocue and don't speak, shouldn't speak' (note Sandy Sully who, circa 2001, described a group of drag queens at the Cup as "not so beautiful").

But the most fun can be had thinking about all the possible likes, needs, wants, dislikes, dreams, frustrations, delights, obstacles, wishes and/or hopes you could possibly have regarding, say, horse racing then trying to find a product that matches each like, need, want, dislike, dream, frustration, delight, obstacle, wish and/or hope over the course of the day.

To get you started:

Total dimwit when it comes to betting? Enrol in the TAB Betting Academy - free, but they're just fattening the calf.

Want to know how to pick the winner? Buy a copy of 'How to Pick The Winner of the 2008 Emirates Melbourne Cup,' $9.95.

Hungry during race day? Have a few wafers at any of the 12 restaurants at the track. Upwards of $100.

Bit hot on race day? Just wander into any one of the marquees with REVERSE CYCLE AIRCONDITIONING (wrong, wrong, wrong, people). $31,000 for the marquee.

* Please note, car parking is included in the price of the the marquee so nothing more to pay here.

Forget your clothes on the day? Buy a t-shirt, trilby (or gumby cap, above), cuff links, tie, pashmina and money clip. Total outfit: $295 (plus $35 for the race day pen to sign your credit card). (Oddly no pants for sale?)

Ooh! And don't forget your Melbourne Cup pin at $5, or pin with diamante for $10. Noice.

And this is all after entry to Flemmington, starting at $60 per pers.

All hail the mighty commodity! And this is why I will never be rich, my friends: it would never occur to me to put up a marquee and charge people $31k to sit in it. Priceless.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Power to the people (or not)

Our triangular week of birthday/election/horsie fun continues with a second passing of the election post. This means we're nearly at the big day itself ("thank chroist," I hear you say, "then can we please get back to non-thematic drivel?").

Indeed we can, but for today it's US election funtime!

Like a kid in a candy store I almost don't know where to start: maybe with a list of quotes we can all nod knowingly about ("Oh, it's so true"): says Carroll Doherty from the Pew Research Centre: "Bush has the lowest ever approval rating ... worse than Nixon's worst". Wow, that's pretty bad.

Or maybe gather together some of the nicknames that the candidates have picked up over the months of the campaign: No Drama Obama; NObama (if you're on the other side); Sarah Failin; McCain: McCan't, McSame, McBush ... McFailin.

Or maybe a quick one-person game of twenty questions: am I the biggest thing in Alaska since the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Did my approach to financial management include putting the state jet on eBay? Do I live in a town full of pick-up trucks with bumper stickers like 'Pro-life is Pro-women'? AM I SARAH PALIN? Yes!

But there really isn't anything more democratic than letting the people speak for themselves.

So let's give the good people of the fifty-one states a quick warm-up question in readiness for Tuesday, just to get them thinking about the whole government-by-the-people thingy. A nice, easy question, like what is the difference between Republican and Democrat?

And thus the people speak:

Andyzro said: "democrat is when the government is taking decisions on a democrat(clever) way and people also have an opinion to chose ... where a republican , dont think they are allowed to speak... and the government controls everything ,(im a bit confused with republican and comunism ???)" [sic, sic, sicketty sic].

toadaly said: "Democrats favor a larger role for the Federal government, whereas Republicans favor a larger role for the Federal government." Um...

And my favourite:

lucky_j_2003: "It does me no good to try and explain it to you. If you have to ask this question you are one of two types of a person: 1. you are too young to know or understand with reasonable certainty the difference; 2. you are too dense to understand or too ignorant to listen."

Ah mercy! Steady on, lucky_j_2003! At least some people in the fifty-one states are engaged enough to look the whole Democrat/Republican thingy up on the interwebs. Now we just have to hope none of them vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A horse by any other name

As I was bloggishly AWOL yesterday I missed a day of my week dedicated to the triangle of happiness formed when a birthday, a presidential election and a horse race reach out and hold hands.

So to make up for it, I'm bringing hands and hoofs together today for some equine-leaning, birthday-related analysis. Giddy-up.

On our day of birth (or hopefully not too long after) we all receive a name from some parental-type persons that determines how much we're bullied at school, what our starting salary will be, and whether we'll have hursuit toes.

Some names are sensible names, like Peter, Paul and Mary, others may lead us to be mistaken for teen swimwear brands, like Heavenly Harani Tiger Lily, while some are just down-right confusing, like Celery.

Similarly, horses must negotiate the minefield of names that their non-species-aligned owners lead them blinkered into.

There are sensible horse names, like Flame or Flicker, names that sound like painful and itchy equine medical conditions like Bucephalus, and others, yep, that are down-right confusing, like Shergar's Missing Foot.

So today's funtime activity is to pick which of the following names were given to human and which to equine ankle-biters:

1. Bebba
2. Vecta
3. Ordric
4. Navigator
5. Narqwell

How did you go? If you said all were kids' names you're 100% correct. That's right, some mean buggers out there looked into the sweet, perfect face of their sweet, perfect baby and said in hushed tones to each other, "s/he looks like a Narqwell".

Frankly I'd rather be called Seabiscuit.