Thursday, October 30, 2008
Yesterday we opened our three-pocketed goody bag of fun with birthdays so today we move on to US presidential election things. Ooh ooh be still my beating fun-stick.
How convenient that the US election is only a few days after Halloween. It means our pumpkins, neatly carved out with Obama's or McCain's faces (as above; or, bizarrely, elephants and donkeys with stars and stripes?*) will still be in good form for our election parties, glowly warmly on our front porches, illuminating the gentle and magnanimous or cold and capitalistic hearts within.**
But to demonstrate how balanced and fair I'm being on this election, I'd like to list, in a totally unbiased fashion, some points about Obama and Palin (sure she's running for Vice Pres but what the hey) to help inform the debate:
Obama loves kittens, his family, walks on the beach, social decency, world peace, saving whales, defending the under-dog, equal opportunity, fluffy toys.
Palin loves shooting kittens.
So as my unbiased analysis suggests, Obama is on the winning side, but this is of little practical use since I'm not an American and thus not allowed to vote in their elections. I'll just look on from the side-lines as I carve out Australian-centric images into my antipodean pumpkins.
* Does anyone know what the sticky is with elephants and donkeys? I always thought the eagle was the big cheese in the US, but perhaps the elephant and donkey are on the coat of arms? Does America have a coat of arms? How much less could I know about the States? How many questions could I ask in this one asterix, eh?
** Sound the Extreme Prejudice Alarm!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A birthday, a US presidential election and a big ol' horse race. Taken separately, these things are always fun: birthdays are fun; Sarah Palin has made the presidential election very funny; and how much fun can you have with four legs?
So what happy happenstance has brought these three fun things together? That's right! They share the same day on our rusty old Gregorian calendar.
On November 4 this happy triumvirate will explode in a shower of coloured popcorn, confetti and horse poo, in no particular order.
In honour of this once-in-a-lifetime alignment, I am dedicating the next week to the magnificence and sometimes nonsense of birthdays, elections and horsies, culminating in a, well, in a post on all three on the day itself ("wow," I hear you say, "now that's something to look forward to").
So let's get started.
When President Kennedy turned 45 he had a whole bunch of people over to Madison Square Gardens for a bit of a barbie. Marilyn Monroe was wandering by and thought she'd join in; it'd been ages since she'd had a snag and a tinny. Getting into the spirit of things she threw on an old diamante-studded evening gown she had in the back of the Torana and sang a round of 'Happy Birthday' to the President, very wittily inserting "Mr President" where we usually say the person's name! Imagine.
All well and good, you may say, but then Monroe continued with a snippet from the golden oldie tune 'Thanks for the Memory' (you know, Bob Hope... Frank Sinatra... Rod Stewart), for which she had written new lyrics:
- Thanks, Mr. President
- For all the things you've done
- The battles that you've won
- The way you deal with U.S. Steel
- And our problems by the ton
- We thank you so much.
This, my friends, is lyric-genius. Let us all put down our pencils in lyric-awe. Happy birthday, Mr President, indeed.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Over the weeks and months (years?) of the financial crisis I've been watching with great delight the daily line-up of brokers and other financial deviants who have been paraded before us in the newspapers and online.
Sometimes known financial schmuckheads, mostly anonymous broker underlings, but always with despairing--and shocked--faces, at finding themselves in front of kilometres of electonric boards filled with red, red numbers. These images have greeted us every unimaginative news day.
Find the latest gazillion of these images here.
It's always been hard to find images for the business and finance news: they mostly range from the banal dollar-sign-on-a-bag-of-money to the more connotative salt-and-pepper-haired-retirees-wearing-loafers-and-jumpers-tied-around-their-shoulders-grinning-denturishly-as-they-sail-around-on-their-big-fancy-yachts images (which is also file footage for incontinence ads).
Because it would be completely naff and totally unimaginative of the world's press to resort to a thousand versions of the one image to represent the financial crisis, I've decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest other reasons why all these financial-type people have been snapped with their heads in their hands.
1. All work causes allergic reactions (thus the eye rubbing, etc), it's just that all the world's photographers happened to be in the foyers of all the world's major stock markets' headquarters because Warrren Buffett said something about something.
2. They can't believe the botox didn't work. Just HOW are they going to iron out those wrinkles?
3. People who work in the finance industry are actually very sensitive people who care deeply about those they're screwing, I mean their clients. They cry through empathy at the drop of a hat (or a Hang Seng).
4. They've all, simultaneously and collectively, got something in their eye.
5. They're trying to stifle a yawn because they've just opened the paper to the ten billionth image of a broker with their head in their hands. "Oh look, here's one with me rubbing my eyes, and another with me with my hand on my forehead, and another with me..."
I like the Ben Bernanke picture the best: I think he's crying because he doesn't want to play anymore.
* Thanks to The Post Family for the link.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I reckon I'd be a great boy scout or girl guide. As it was, I never graduated from the lowest ranks having left the enclave following a tense 'discussion' between my Dad and the leader of the group about a cement mushroom...
Anyhoo, so now I'm in my summer years, I find when I leave the house I'm quite literally prepared for anything.
Doesn't everyone carry around spare tea bags? An even number of panadols (so I always have the correct dosage of two)? An entire Bodleian Library of shopping lists? Random keys from forgotten doors? A range of non-perishable foodstuffs (with bag-fluff attached)? Enough chargers to form a make-shift clothesline (perhaps to drape your shirt over while you sew on the replacement button you've been carrying around for longer than you've known how to tie a shoe, using the little sewing kit you stole from a Best Western in 1984)?
Mercy, last time I looked I even found a badge, never worn, that I bought for a conference in 2005. Says the badge: "Ars longa, vita brevis" which I'm pretty sure translates to "life is too short to carry around a badge for three years".
On reflection, it's not about being prepared (afterall, if I'm away from home and a situation arises I can simply exchange money for goods and services, right?) but about being a borderline nutbar hoarder, and frankly, that's a whole lot easier to explain than a cement mushroom.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The 'Maris Pacifici' is believed to be the first Pacific-dedicated map to be printed anywhere ever.
How awesome are old maps? Very, according to this page and the 9,270,647 people who have clicked on it.
There's so much to love about this map:
1. It was drawn by a chappy called Abraham Ortelius (I'm a big fan of 'O' names, especially 'Ormerod'. 'Ortelius' comes a close second);
2. It was drawn in 1589 (I couldn't even hold a pencil then);
3. It contains the word 'qvod' (high up in the 'blurst' poetry family tree); and
4. According to the map, giant ships (about half the size of a small continent) used to inhabit the waters around South American. I wonder when they died out?
Wouldn't you like to travel the Pacific Ocean with Ortelius and his giant ships? GPS is for chumps.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Travelling companion said "hunna funna wunna munna".
Said I: "What? I couldn't hear you. It is loud in here, isn't it? Maybe you can't hear me? I said: "I'm-really-enjoying-[tv show x]-and-I-thought-you-were-too". Aren't you? I thought you were really enjoying [tv show x]. Can you hear me, yeah? You know, [tv show x]? You mustn't be able to hear me. Oh. [Tv show x]?"
So it turns out there's no reason in this world why you should discuss the Gilmore Girls in public. I know; I was as surprised as you are.
So for all those non-Gilmore-believers out there, here's a few reasons why you, too, should watch:
1. We're all newly unemployed thanks to the global recession thingy so we've got plenty of time. After Gilmore Girls I'm moving on to Twin Peaks; join me.
2. It's actually a sophisticated analogy for systems of government and should be taught in highschool along with Animal Farm. So Lorelai is like Napoleon, who, um, is like Stalin, right? (Or is it John Howard? I forget.)
3. It gives lip-readers a real chance to shine.
4. It gives us an insight into small-town American life which makes me feel very, very good about not living there (although, this lesson could be learnt equally well from Sarah Palin).
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Ever googled your own name? Found a namesake out there living a fabulous alternate life (heiress, hemp grower, hand model) you'd consider attempting the old switcheroo with?
So I googled my name and it appears there are thousands of dangerous kettles out there: kettles that spill and boil over and steam up the kitchen without turning off, kettles that cause accidents and injuries and drive their describers to use CAPITAL LETTERS to emphasise just how very DANGEROUS they are.
To my great delight I have found that kettles and many other white goods are greatly feared, which gives the phrase 'homeland security' a whole new twist.
While Western governments across the globe are spending gazillions protecting our right to consume and be insensitive loud-mouths, the real danger lurks at home, quietly sitting in our laundries and bathrooms and on our kitchen benches, toasting our bread, frothing our milk, and espressing our espressos...
...just waiting to connect with our metal knives! To grab hold of our little ouch-prone fingers! And worst of all, waiting to BREAK DOWN, leaving us without coffee / clean underwear / Farrah Fawcett hair (which is, indeed, DANGEROUS).
Oh the perils.
Monday, October 20, 2008
What's that buzzing, I hear you ask? That's right! A spelling bee. Hovering around us, just waiting to be THUMPED WITH A WHOPPIN' GREAT THONG AND FLATTENED FLAT. YEAH.
My apologies; spelling bees get me all worked up. I have spent hours with this baby. Great tv shows, books, friends, bottles of wine, have come and gone over the course of an evening and by 1am it's just me and the spelling bee, fighting it out, speller versus bee, one on one, ooooh yeah.
The two things that keep me clicking 'next word' are: the fact that they score you in percentages so once you get just one word wrong you have to keep getting them right until 99.99% is rounded up to 100%; and secondly it sounds like the good folk at the Free Dictionary signed up Jeff Goldblum to do the recordings, and how cool is Jeff Goldblum (correction: how cool does that make Jeff Goldblum).
What can I say? We are lucky, lucky people.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
No - appearances can be deceiving, can't they? They are in fact the Zaporzhye Cossacks writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan, as brought to us by the brush of Ilya Repin.
This busy painting graces the cover of a copy of Tolstoy's The Cossacks that I bought from a trendite little second-hand book store a few years ago.
Just as we might have been initially confused as to what the peeps in the painting are doing, the bookseller was confused as to what I was doing buying Tolstoy. Said he: "You don't look like the kind of person who reads Tolstoy".
So I've always wondered: what does a Tolstoy reader look like? Bearded? Grey-haired? Frowny? Devious? Noble? Disillusioned? Questing of moral stability? Impatient with intellectual dishonesty? Aloof from the Russian intelligentsia?
Must one not smile when purchasing Tolstoy? Must one give a short treatise on non-violent anarchy and mutter about what the aristocrats can learn from the peasants as one hands over one's $4?
Sheesh, I just wanna'd ta read ma book.
Next time I buy Tolstoy I'm wearing a snorkle and Dame Edna glasses. What the heck darn will the poor chappy make of that?
Friday, October 17, 2008
The answer to the question that's been burning a hole through your frontal lobe all day is no, there is no ocean-based floating object that can't be commodified and sold on the web.
Remember the good ol' message in a bottle? You know, that Sting sang so wistfully about as he sat (counting his piles of money) on his deserted (multi-million dollar) island (resort), staring out to sea (over his piles of money), thinking about loneliness (and that he should really invite Richard Branson over from his island for Sunday arvo drinks).
Ah yes, the missive of the lonely, the isolated and the prankster can now be purchased online from the Oceangram store. For the low price of US$19.95 (plus postage and handling) you can buy the 'Original Message in a Bottle', with its personalised scroll, cocktail umbrella and tiny handful of sand (authentic, yes?).
If a friend or loved one happens to be graduating, the Oceangram store has that covered too: just select the 'Graduation Message in a Bottle'. If you'd like to tell someone you're thinking about them, choose the 'I'm Thinking About You Message in a Bottle'.
My favourite of all is the 'Merry Christmas in a Christmas Bauble Message in a Bottle'. All. Bases. Covered.
There's so much wrong with this concept.
Firstly, messages in bottles NEED WATER, not postage and handling.
Secondly, no-one has ever sent a message in a bottle saying "Hi - stuck on island - desperate for food, water - dying slow death - by the way, congrats on your graduation".
Thirdly, the 'Merry Christmas in a Christmas Bauble Message in a Bottle' is a Christmas BAUBLE, not a bottle, so CANNOT STRICTLY BE.
On the other hand, who's got time to go to the beach and ferret around looking for skank-arse bottles half submerged in the sand? Ah commodification, you've come to the rescue again.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Animated inanimate objects are on my list of top 5 favourite things (pretty close to the top, too).
Look at these little tables, leaping and frollicking like table-gazelles, foot-loose and vase-free, with the fair sun glinting off their polished tops, little legs stretching through the morning air, tripping happily to... the ground?
Hmm, they appear to be lemming tables, but let us leave them forever mid-flight, beautiful and unaging like the fair youth on that Grecian urn.
Oh little tables:
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Since everything looks green, green, green across the markets today, I can only assume the world hasn't ended and the sky hasn't fallen so we live to Kettle another day.
As this bright, happy day stretches before us I thought we might turn our Henny Penny heads to something bright and happy.
Spam - hurrah!
Spam is one of my favourite things. I don't mean the boring Angelina-Jolie-video-this and pharmaeuticals-that spam. I have, of late, been fortunate enough to receive spam from whom I can only imagine must be altruistic, learned (if slightly confused) novelists.
Apart from the odd virus, most of the spam I receive just contains snippets of what I like to think might be novels, odd sentences here and there, about store managers assaulted with potatoes, etc.
This conjures up images a la The Simpsons of Burns taking Homer on a tour of his mansion and opening a door to a room with a thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters (wearing poker visors and smoking cigars). Says Burns: "Soon, they'll have written the greatest novel known to mankind. (reads one of the typewriters) "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times"?! You stupid monkey!"
Ah, gold episode, but back to the spam, I think I might be getting the 'blurst', so to speak.
My spammer-monkey-novelists theory was confirmed when I learned that about 80% of all spam is sent by less than 200 spammers. So all we have to do is find the room with the 200 spammer-monkey-novelists and get them to tell us what order the emails should go in, then we can find out what happened to the store manager to warrant those potatoes.
Failing that, I'd like to meet the spammer-monkey-poet who came up with 'retropliog' for word verification. Very good blurst indeed.
Monday, October 13, 2008
One of these things is not like the others. Can you pick which one doesn't belong?
- Why do farts smell so bad? So deaf people can enjoy them too.
- Why was the leper caught speeding? Because he couldn't take his foot off the accelerator.
- Who is to blame for the subprime crisis? Illegal immigrants and Hispanics "greedy" enough to seek subprime loans, Latinos and gays, and congressmen who were "pushing for more minority lending" without disclosing that "loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster".
Sadly number three represents the combined efforts of Michelle Malkin of The National Review and her take on "greedy" illegal immigrants and Hispanics, Mark Krikorian of the same publication who brought us the novel opinion that Washington Mutual's demise was caused by its propensity for employing, you guessed it, Latinos and gays, and Fox News's Neil Cavuto who knew those minorities and other risky folk were darn right risky because they're minorities, and thus risky, and thus minorities...
It's funny, I thought you defaulted on a loan when the repayments were set at a level beyond your capacity to meet them, not because you were born in another country or liked having sex with people with the same pink bits.
My mistake, this whole subprime crisis thing is a conspiracy against the good, rich, straight, white folk. Gotcha.
* For an interesting article on the possible social political effects of the financial crisis check out:
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Watching the global financial system slide into bankruptcy has, frankly, given me the irrits. What the crap were they thinking?
So it all started with some bright sparks who thought it would be a good idea to lend money to people who had more chance of winning lotto (modest odds of one in 55 mill) than making the repayments. Remember that acronym that was being thrown around at the start of this whole mess, NINJA? Stands for No Income, No Job (and) No Assets. Heck darn, sounds to me like a pretty reasonable set of borrowing criteria. And you know what's even worse? The phrase was coined by HCL Finance AS A NAME FOR ONE OF THEIR PRODUCTS.
Anyhoo, since we're all going to spend the next five years watching a lot of tv (as part of the growing unemployed) and selling our organs to fund the increasing cost of living, I thought I'd share this list of helpful tips for cash-strapped times:
1. If you're a wine drinker, switch from bottled to cask wine. If you already drink cask wine, have a good hard look at your self then get that cask flowing again.
2. Don't throw anything out, you never know when you'll need it (or it'll be fashionable) again. As one survivor of the Great Depression said: "I don't ever want to throw anything away. My old coats, dresses and pant suits hang in the closet". Happily, pant suits are in again this year.
3. Cross your legs until you get to work; get your employer to pay for the toilet paper.
4. Don't have too many children. Most families during the Great Depression seemed to have had at least nine kids, which is obviously too many and they suffered proportionately for it. If you have kids already, consider selling them. If you don't, consider having some in order to sell.
5. Encourage all your friends to become Jehova's witnesses; save on birthday presents.
6. Steal things off the visually impaired.
As you can see, the slope from monetary bankruptcy to moral bankruptcy has a steep gradient. For something lighter, tomorrow let's do 'Capitalism to Communism: Is There a Better Way?'
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Seriously, playing jazz flute is like going nuts blowing a feather around an empty room. An empty room, people.
But back to my dreadful realisation: so I thought I was the only one who, for millenia, had despaired at the breathy, trilly, wince-inducing silliness of the jazz flute but today I discovered that the magnificent Ron Burgundy has stomped around in this fluty bog already. Check this out:
Once Will Ferrell has gotten his hands onto something it can never be considered seriously again: think picking up ladeez at a funeral, rubbing your testicles on your step-brother's drum-kit, and getting off watching grown men act like dragons, acts which, prior to Mr Ferrell's treatment, were perfectly mainstream and acceptable.
Bah unique snowflake, I'll stand with Ron Burgundy any day.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This is absolutely the coolest thing I've ever seen. This, dear readers, is the Telemegaphone (a beautiful name for a beautiful instrument).
Yep, it's a mega telephone which stands on the top of Bergskletten mountain in Dalsfjord, Norway. If you dial +47 90 369389 whatever you say will be broadcast across the fjord and valley to the town of Dale below.
It simultaneously appeals to my socialist spirit AND desire to take over the world. Also it's got something to do with fjords, and how cool are fjords? (In a similar vein to fjords, maelstroms are very cool too - those whacky Nords.)
So the very existence of the Telemegaphone and the tantalising fact that WE HAVE THE PHONE NUMBER immediately begs the question, what would you say when it answered?
But don't fret if you get a busy signal when you call: it’s because the line is closed for the deer hunting season, just try again later.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
My five-syllable world fell apart when I happened to mention to someone something about a model looking "totally emancipated, I mean, like she hadn't eaten for years"...
Ok so I meant 'emaciated'. So I'd completely overlooked an 'n' and a 'p' and several thousand years of oppression, a couple of fairly major civil rights movements and a pretty significant ride on a bus in 1955.
So in light of this dark moment in my kiddy past I sometimes have little word panic attacks and just as I hit 'send' on an email think "crap, does 'moniker' actually mean 'nickname' or have I just made that up? Is a 'moniker' actually a type of Dutch letter-opener, in which case, totally inappropriate? OH MY GOD I'VE DONE IT AGAIN WHY WON'T SOMEONE STOP ME?"
I've got some issues with how I pronounce 'chameleon' too but that's for another day.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The question cereal for dinner: yes or no, raises some very stimulating questions.*
It raises fundamental moral questions: "Would you, could you, eat cereal for dinner?"
It's a vehicle for reliving long-passed childhoods: "Your comment brings back fond memories of those rare occasions when my Mom would surprise us with "breakfast for dinner". It would usually consist of pancakes and an omelet. My sister and I would giggle with delight over this strange concept!"
It exposes a degree of militant categorisation I didn't know existed in food: "Cereal is no doubt a breakfast food, as are eggs, waffles and pancakes. Sandwiches are for lunch, unless they are so spiffed up that they are barely recognisable as sandwiches, and their names alone are as big as a dinner plate, like grilled chicken with pancetta and basil mayonnaise on a kaiser roll. Hot dogs are lunch food too."
The cereal-for-dinner question can show our wistful side: "Oddly enough, we don't eat cereal for dinner ever, though I wouldn't mind it sometimes."
And help you bring out your inner rebel: "I eat whatever whenever. Pizza for breakfast, yogurt for dinner. I couldn't care less."**
You'll find other fascinating musings on cereal-for-dinner here:
It was great to find out what you can do with cereal on a pan grill.***
* Not really.
** Wow, go crazy man.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Several questions immediately spring to mind: pirates exist? I mean, seriously, outside 'Peter Pan'? Pirates (since they appear to exist) hang out in gangs of 50? What's the correct collective noun for a group of pirates? Band, gaggle, pride, sleuth? Why so many pirates? And can you really fit 33 tanks into a cargo ship? Wow, that's roomy.
In attempting to answer these questions, dear reader, I've realised that I've stumbled spout first into what is actually a rather serious situation, involving (in no order, and completely without my understanding of who or what does or has these things) a collapsed state, the Horn of Africa and ransoms.
So leaving the analysis of modern piratics to more learned kettles, let's move on to something more banal (but possibly not less controversial): cereal for dinner: a travesty of a meal or a vital part of any Friday night?
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I'm sorry to report that the whale isn't listed in the credits, but delighted to find that A.L. Bert Lloyd is listed as the "Lead shantyman (and shanty adviser)". I'm surprised, in hindsight, that my career counsellor at college didn't mention this to me. I played the tin whistle as a child, surely that qualifies me?
On another note, I didn't realise there was a character called Starbuck in the novel (I had a completely unfounded and unthought-out aversion to American Lit in high school so never actually read 'Moby Dick' - how embarassment) so now I'm wondering, is that who the hyper-mega-global pretend-coffee franchise is named after?
Ha! Check this out, from the Starbucks website:
The first Starbucks opens. The name comes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, a classic American novel about the 19th century whaling industry. The seafaring name seems appropriate for a store that imports the world’s finest coffees to the cold, thirsty people of Seattle.
Deary, deary me. I think cold, thirsty people in Seattle or anywhere would be better served drinking their own urine.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Ah, the opening line of this blog and it sounds like it's come straight from 'Monsters Inc'. I'm sure there are numerous Wiki articles on famous first lines, maybe I should do a search.
Wouldn't you know; you can find lists of anything on the interwebs. Some famous first lines from cinematic masterpieces to get us warmed up. Anyone know where they're from? Ten points and a whole lot of public glory for getting them all right:
“Yes, this is Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. It's about five o'clock in the morning. That's the Homicide Squad - complete with detectives and newspapermen. A murder has been reported from one of those great big houses in the ten thousand block. You'll read about it in the late editions, I'm sure...”
“Call me Ishmael.”
“Please, sir, I want some more.”
“Meine Damen und Herren... Madames et Messieurs... Ladies and Gentlemen. Where are your troubles now? Forgotten? I told you so. We have no troubles here! Here, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful. Auf wiedersehen! A bientot.”
Caught up in these panavisionary moments, remembering the sound of jaffas rolling down the aisles and how much fun you used to have guffawing at your friends pashing off in the seats in front of you, I bet you've forgotten any troubles you had, so come back tomorrow, we have no troubles here at the Kettle.