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.