Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas* wrap

* I'm not sure if it's possible (or advisable?) to begin a post with an asterisk but look! It's where we find ourselves. I do hope you'll forgive me.

I've called on the asterisk in a half-arsed attempt to excuse away my laziness.

You see, I'm more (as in entirely) an atheistic type so wishing everyone a 'merry Christmas' is a bit non-sensical. But as we have just returned from a week interstate and I'm feeling, well, lazy the prospect of writing a few nuanced, sensitively worded paragraphs outlining a few nuanced and sensitive thoughts on the significance of multi- and non-denominational end-of-year celebrations is entirely beyond me.

Let us, in the absence of such commentary, agree to agree that there is something very lovely about getting to the end of the year, about eating wildly excessive amounts of food, and about watching the cricket (just joking Ramon. I haven't actually watched any cricket!).

So in the true lazy-montage-spirit of all B-grade films from the 1980s, here's a bunch of photos from my end of year/wildly excessive food/non-cricket celebrations.

There were martinis with lychee (singular) and blueberries (no way!).

There were a-happenings at the beach (where does the water end and the sky begin, and etc.).

There were ridiculously happy children at water parks.

And Christmas carols, performed ped-style.

There was a long discussion about which was the worst sheet music to admit to owning from childhood (our vote was tied; your thoughts?).

And another long discussion about 'couth' and 'uncouth', for which the Penguin dictionary was absolutely no help whatsoever (at least there were prawns).

There were neighbourhood Christmas lights by people with really, really too much time.

And of course, wanky hipstamatic photos taken willy nilly by lasses who really do know better.

There were badly framed Christmas trees, with surprise elbows!

And curious tins of biscuits at the local supermarket... even more curiously labelled sections.

But best of all, there were lots and lots of happy, blurry photos (aww shit).

Now tell me about your break while I quietly vomit about the sentimentality of my own.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Completely self-indulgent photos from my trip to Melbourne (because I can, that's why)

So I went to Melbourne on the weekend, and while I love my family dearly and couldn't live without them I would also be ok staying in Melbourne for ever and ever and never leaving. Ahem.

Anyway, I had such a lovely time. It was so good that I took a whole bunch of wanky hipstamatic photos and I would dearly love to share them with you. Will you indulge me a moment or two?

If you do not have a moment for such indulgences I thank you for joining me to this point and I wish you well for the rest of your day.

If you do have a moment, hurray. Let us revel in the awesomeness that is Melbourne together.

So, photo the first:

I think there's something in this for all of us. Yeah that's right, Melbourne's Environmental Management Team totally sucks. I took this photo around 8:30am Saturday morning; what kind of city leaves this sort of poetic detritus from the previous night's revelry lying around until that time of the morning? Sheesh.

This might be too small to see? The sign says, 'Captains of Industry: Gentleman's Outfitters and Cafe,' which I liked very much.

This shit is about coffee and ukuleles. Oooohhhh yeahhhhhh.

Gills Diner and The Commercial Bakery do the best of everything ever. You should go there.

Check out those cheeky tomatoes on the middle shelf. Poking their tongues out. I say.

Next suit I buy (following the next offer of employment I receive) I'm buying these cuff links for sure (unless I get a job at The Commercial Bakery, in which case I'm gonna get me some cheeky tomato cuff links).

So I went to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the Mad Square exhibition. Firstly, I still can't figure out how it can be the 'national' gallery of Victoria, and secondly, which is sexier: the hairy arm-pitted woman in the banner or the man-in-the-checkered-shirt's arse?

This is the other side of the gallery entrance. As you can see I accidentally bumped the filter on hipstamatic so we somehow landed in Copenhagen in 1957. Who knew time travel was possible with a $1.99 app?

These teeny weeny chairs were on display in the gallery shop. I have a thing for tiny chairs; I only wish there was time to go into it now but fortunately not. This is a shit photo and I couldn't get it to work but the tiny chairs were magnificent.

This was lunch at the gallery. I'm embarrassed to say I wolfed it down (and I may have sculled the wine too). It was the tiny chairs what did it to me.

This is the nicest piece of street art I've seen anywhere ever.

The framing on this kills me but what's not to love about a sign for an ocular prosthetist? Nothing, that's what. (And wouldn't you love to meet Mr Russell?)

And so we come to one of the trip's golden highlights: beer, lemons and chips with Ramon, Melba and Mr E from The Site Formally Known As. You three characters bloody rock. I was very pleased to meet you.

Then surprise jazz gig! With crepes and sangria! Who knew crepes and sangria went together? Well they don't, so no-one I guess, but the jazz was good.

Post-jazz it was Salman Rushdie and tempranillo at the Punch Lane Wine Bar. Fark. By the end of the night we three were totally best friends.

At closing time Salman and I stumbled along Bourke Street past our favourite bookshop in Melbourne, The Paperback Bookshop, where we bought the seventh edition of the Sleepers Almanac because we both love and support new Australian writing. Go Sleepers. Go Salman.

Sunday morning brought this, before anything else.

After a decent amount of time, Sunday morning also brought this: a chappy playing a 'hang' (Dave this is for you).

Then I met some darling friends for lunch and we planned a book we hope Littlefox Press at Alice & Co. will publish for us. I love Littlefox Press almost as much as I love tempranillo and Salman Rushdie.

There was more of the trip after that but I have clearly reached my wanky hipstamatic photo quota so will stop here. The end.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Late-night ramblings about Fourth Generation German-American writers (now deceased)

I've just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five for the first time (well, second; books that good deserve immediate second readings). Vonnegut's prose is the best I can remember reading for at least a decade.

I thought, after 354 pages, that I loved Vonnegut completely then I came across the following and fell in love with the dear man all over again and then some:

In the mid 1950s, Vonnegut worked very briefly for Sports Illustrated magazine, where he was assigned to write a piece on a racehorse that had jumped a fence and attempted to run away. After staring at a blank piece of paper on his typewriter all morning, he typed, "The horse jumped over the fucking fence," and left.

Mr Vonnegut, you're alright by me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Motor Ace is still the shiz

So I used to love Motor Ace. You remember Motor Ace? With their angsty pop-rock they were the perfect band for the melancholic early-twenty-something. I remember going to a gig (ok several gigs) at the Metro in Sydney where I clutched my BFF's [sero] hand and we screamed the lyrics of 'Budge' as Patrick Roberston, in all his diminutive loveliness, sang them just for us (we were so sure).

Anyhoo, so a recent wave of the nostalgias has inspired me to dig out Five Star Laundry, and sitting here listening to it and wondering what the shit happened to Motor Ace, I came across this on Wikipedia:

The individual members remain on amicable terms. Robertson now professionally scores for film and television, while Ong still occasionally performs around Melbourne with his Joni Lightning project. Costin continues to work in the music industry. Matt Balfe is currently a freelance lion tamer.

Matt Balfe is currently a freelance lion tamer? This is not so much what I expected as not what I expected? Can anyone verify this?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Survey this

A long time ago (January?) I started a series of posts called 'Things I Don't Understand (But Wish I Did)' on another blog. It was meant to be an occasional series, and I must confess I have taken such liberties with it that I have not added to it since its inception in January (although there have been things, multitudes actually, and daily, that I have not understood).

So in an effort to address this terrible neglect I decided this morning to post the very next thing that mystified me, so here it is:

Not the easiest thing to read, is it? Sorry. I'll see if I can fix it.

Ok so apparently I can't fix it. Sorry about that (Alex help!).

Anyhoo, it's a survey that arrived today, one of those 'Tell us what it's like to live where you live, chump!' surveys. Now I love filling in a good survey, in fact I love filling in forms of all types (formgasmic), so imagine my delight when this giant 10-pager arrived.

I rattled through the pages, ticking boxes, strongly agreeing and mildly disagreeing everywhere. Then I got to the last two questions, above:

Question 42: How satisfied are you with the way democracy works in Australia?


Question 43: What is your favourite retail shop in your local area?

What the fuck? Seriously? Your thoughts on the effectiveness of Australia's political system, and oh, while we've got you, where do you buy your Tampax?

I'm guessing this is a State government effort.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yeah I mean you, shitty business

So here's the thing with Facebook: If you're a business and you have a Facebook page and you post things on it and people respond, unless those responses are unforgivably lewd (and you're not, ahem, a publisher of adult 'books'), THEN YOU SHOULDN'T DELETE THEM BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE A CENSORIOUS DICK of a business.

Just saying.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Polaroids of *Ahem* Hot Guys Reading

Shameless, Kettle, shameless.

See more (more!) here, via Readings (thank you ever so much, Readings).

Oh go on then, here's another one:

Thank you Mr Dean and your Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, now I can get back to work.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Your coffee or your love?

There's a cafe up the road from our place where they're very serious about coffee. (Very. Serious.) If the term 'coffee shop' didn't sound so cutesy I'd call it a coffee shop because that's pretty much all they do: sell coffee, in its wet and hot, wet and cold, ground and unground forms. Sure they sell a few macaroons and the odd chocolate croissant but I suspect these items are more counter accessories than a major source of revenue.

So this cafe sells very good coffee which is, inherently, a very good thing.

By extension then, given the God-like status caffeine enjoys in my life, I consider the staff to be (inherently) very good people, and I would certainly have their babies and/or tweak their nipple rings if any were to ask.

(Please ask.)

But despite the centrality of these barista Gods to many of our lives, I worry they may not be altogether very happy people? In the year I've been frequenting this 'coffee shop' I have never seen any of these baristas crack a smile or share a familiar 'hello' with their devotees, nor (heavens!) engage in a spot of banter.

In fact, I was so desperate for an actual interaction with them last week that I mistook a barista chappy asking me how he could help me with how I *was* (existentially, I assumed). It was only when he looked away (embarrassed for both of us) that I realised he wasn't in the least concerned with how I was, just what form of coffee artistry was required of him. Ahem.

So my question is, can you be an expert coffee-maker and show your clientele the odd human kindness (a smile here, a 'see you next time' there), or does one preclude the other?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teach me what?

I have an exam today so I've been doing some practise questions.

I just came across this one:

True or False: Living in poverty affects a child's school achievement rather than their emotional or behavioural states.

My answer: False
Correct answer: True

I thought, in answering the question, no, living in poverty does not just affect a child's school achievement, rather than their emotional or behavioural states. I think living in poverty would affect all those areas; doesn't it?

Apparently not, according to my textbook.

There's a message there for policy-makers: Fix the poverty problem and you'll instantaneously fix the literacy and numeracy issues in Australia too. Sure we'll still have all our emotional and behavioural issues but 40 years in a mundane processing job should beat them out of us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dumb Word of the Day


A bibliography of web addresses.

Amazing. I mean, seriously, wow.

If the person who came up with that had spent a few extra minutes sleeping in that day and thus had a few less minutes spare to ponder the cumbersomeness of 'web bibliography' (and to create the equally cumbersome 'webliography') the world would be a better place.

Don't you think?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How many feathers can a vego bear?

I bought my son a new doona today, a feather one. It's lovely, very fluffy, just the kind of doona to keep a small child (or anyone who fits into a single bed) warm during the reclining hours.

But... [and I can't say this too loudly because I fear the answer: Should a vegetarian actually buy a feather doona?].

I'm assuming (on reflection, after the thrill of my trip to the local Westfield has subsided) that the 85% duck feathers and 15% duck down that make up my son's doona filling were collected pond-side by enthusiastic bird-watchers who did not rip said feathers and down from dear birdies' sides but picked them up, delicately, one by one, as they fell to the ground during sun-bathed morning wing stretches, right?


On the other hand, how many baby acrylics died to make his previous acrylic-stuffed quilt? Gah!

What a shame we can only metaphorically bask in the warmth of our parents' love; that would have solved my son-warming doona dilemma.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Signs that 35 may be closer to 40 than 30

1. Watching Deadwood and saying to your partner, "I mean, really, do they need to say 'c*cksucker' quite so much?"

2. Realising that people who were born in 1993 are now eligible to vote. Sero?

3. Automatically picking up the locally produced, gluten and antibiotic-free, certified free range eggs with no added hormones at the supermarket.

4. Deciding amongst your pals whose house to hold the regular poker game at based on who has the most and/or youngest kids.

5. Enjoying a track called 'Blue-winged Kookaburras' on an album called Kakadu: A Celebration of the Wetlands.

6. Eating exactly eight almonds a day because your nutritionist told you to.

What. The. Fuck.

Then again, a darling twenty-something pal of mine who is a fully sick rock band drummer has just started knitting granny squares so hey, maybe 20 is the new 40.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How's about those southern states?

I've just returned from a couple of days in Melbourne and am happy to report that Melbourne is a way much betterer city than Sydney. Here's why:

1. In Sydney I see at least four people a day picking their noses in their cars. Far as I know car windows are still transparent, people.

In contrast, I didn't see a single person picking his or her nose in Melbourne (not even at the conference I was at; not a one).

2. In Sydney I get caught in traffic jams all the time; in Melbourne, not once (sure I didn't have a car in Melbourne, and sure I walked most places, but I didn't hear anyone complaining about traffic jams on the 112 to Gertrude Street last night).

[2.1. In Melbourne they have a street called Gertrude Street. Awes.]

3. In Sydney people are still wearing short-shorts even though summer is well over. In Melbourne they spit on short-shorts.

4. In Sydney they have signs like this on escalators in Westfields:

In Melbourne they don't have Crocs (I'm not even sure they have Westfields?).

The only things Melbourne doesn't have are: Mr Kettle, my son, my dear friends, my lovely family, Campos Coffee, my PO Box, my favourite bookstore in Newtown, my awesome babysitting-swapping neighbours, our swimming teacher, our long established gainful employment, and my dear, irreplaceable pal Meredith. All I need to do is convince them all to move south; shouldn't be too hard, eh?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bloody vouchers

When I woke up this morning I had a wad of pre-paid movie vouchers that I need to use by Thursday.

No worries, right? Right. So off I went to some megaplex or other to see The Adjustment Bureau. I found it a very enjoyable film, but that's not entirely surprising considering I'm quite partial to anything bureau-related. And who doesn't love a love story? And also, Emily Blunt is well hot.

So The Adjustment Bureau was a good pick and my wad of vouchers has reduced to six. All good. So now I only have six vouchers to use before Thursday.

Should be easy, yes?

Should it shit.

The problem is that now I've seen The Adjustment Bureau, what else is there to see? I've run some calculations and am sorry to report that at least 87% of the movies out at the moment are shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Which bodes poorly for my wad of vouchers.

So please, will you help? Will you look into your good and generous hearts and advise me how to get rid of my vouchers? Here's what's on at the moment:

Rango: Johnny, Johnny, Johnny; what have you done?

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (3D): This boy makes me want to vomit into my handkerchief.

127 Hours: An uplifting tale about a chappy hacking off his arm with a teaspoon (if I understand correctly).

Gnomeo and Juliet: Animated? At least visually, if nothing else. Shakespeare's play with a happy ending, and gnomes.

Conviction: Hilary Swank's character's brother goes to jail for something or other. She does something or other to get him out.

No Strings Attached: Natalie Portman pretends to find Ashton Kutcher attractive. I forget how it ends.

Fast and Furious 5: Five? They've made five of these abominations?

So shit, I don't know. What do you think?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why We Should All Perpetually Babysit

I'm a bit of a fan of babysitting; it's one of my favourite things to do of an evening. It's like you're Santa Claus: you get to hang out in other people's living rooms; you can leave without folding the washing or loading the dishwasher; and there's always a snack and something to drink left on the kitchen bench.

But the benefits of babysitting extend far beyond the sherry and carrot sticks. Babysitting gives you access to miles and miles of other people's book shelves. I would never have read The Science of Superheroes, or the less cheery but equally fascinating Mountaincraft and Leadership if I hadn't been a serial babysitter in some pals' houses. (Not to mention The Complete Kama Sutra - heavens! Life would have been the poorer for that.)

So I'd like to make a suggestion: I propose that we all establish households, have children, get guinea pigs, etc., then promptly head out our front doors and move into the house immediately to the left of our own. That way we'll have that 'Just here for the evening and ooh! Isn't the telly so much more interesting over here' feeling all the time.

Now if you'll excuse me my charges for the night are fast asleep, there's dark chocolate dipping sauce on the kitchen bench just waiting for me, and that couch in the loungeroom looks so much more comfortable than my own. Sweet gig or what.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's Too. Bloody. Hot.

Today is day seven of a bit of a heat wave here in Sydney. It's a record or something; most days in a row over 30 degrees since sometime or other. Fascinating really, or more accurately, not.

All I know is that standing absolutely still in your kitchen at six o'clock in the morning in a bikini you bought years ago (inside swimmers = always bad) and sweating means it's going to be a bad day, record-breaking or not.

So here's a few suggestions for what the hot weather can go do with itself:

  1. Chill the fuck out (sorry, best to get the bad puns out of the way early, don't you think?).

  2. Um.

Ok so that's all I've got, which is slightly disappointing but not all that surprising given how bloody hot it is.

So let's do another list. How about: Annoying Things The Heat Has Made Me Do:

  1. Stick to the couch.

  2. Wonder anew whether there is a god, and if so, whether he or she is completely sadistic, because how else would you explain the beginning of my annual beer-free period coinciding with the onset of a heat wave?

  3. Wish I lived in Hobart, with a very reasonable (albeit boring) maximum today of 21 degrees.

On the plus side, this heat wave has led me to uncover one piece of meteorological hilarity. The SMH weather page has a current conditions section which very usefully lists the temperature right now (40.8 degrees), but then perhaps less usefully continues by listing the 'Feels like' temperature, which apparently at the moment is 42.4 degrees.

Actually it feels more like 43 degrees but whatever. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go stand in front of the fan in my vintage swimmers and sweat a bit more.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The National

We're back from our South Coast sojourn, which was very lovely and everything, but fark, any chance someone could look into the whole South Coast telecommunications thing? Eight days is a looong time to impotently press buttons on your phone with nothing but a 'No Service' message staring blankly back at you.

By day six I was actually enjoying watching the wrens in the beach-side garden; imagine, wrens.

Anyway, we're back and I can now happily post some photos from The National gig I was very lucky to go to before we left last week.

Thanks to my dear friend Dave (who gallantly offered his ticket), I found myself on Saturday night gorging on a pre-gig dinner of nachos and excitedly spilling my beer at a pub a block away from the Enmore Theatre where The National (preceded by The Middle East) were taking the stage.

Mystifyingly (from this 11-day distance in time) I took photos of the band playing several of their songs, as though the photos could transmit images and sound. Nonsensical, yes, but surely I'm not alone in doing this?

Anyway, here they are during their opening number, 'Runaway':

And again during 'Bloodbuzz Ohio':

And once again, magnificently, during 'Afraid of Everyone':

Sure you can't really see anything in these photos and they could, for all we can tell, be shots of Roxette playing live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre circa 1988 (a concert I did, for shame, attend); but if you can take my word for it (given the absence of any submittable evidence), it was a very, very good show, and the music was very, very good indeed.

The only regrettable part of the evening was the presence of this woman, sitting several rows in front of me, who I came to think of rather spitefully as 'That Bloody Annoying Woman with the Radically Out-Dated Bowl-Shaped Perm Who Appears to be Suffering From Some Kind of Finger-Based Tourette Syndrome That May Or May Not In Fact Be Her Attempt at Gettin' Jiggy With The Music':

Seriously, she would have waggled that finger about at least 900 times during the concert.

Here she is again, many, many hours later, still at it:

The only thing worse than the perm-headed finger waggling woman was this guy:

But at least he wasn't waggling his big head about.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Can you marry a band?*

I think I'm in love with The National, is all. They're playing Sydney tonight and tomorrow. How's this re: Matt Berninger, the lead singer:

The National's lead singer, Matt Berninger, is a baritone of the tallest order, a lurching, lanky charmer who awkwardly bumbles through live sets, yet somehow simultaneously exudes a cool, nonchalant attitude about the whole thing. Shambolic, metaphorically wart-ridden, and uncomfortably vulnerable, he's more interested in exposing weakness than projecting strength—more apt to stagger among us than tower above us.

[From here]

I would buy a ticket off a scalper just to see what "metaphorically wart-ridden" looks like. Wouldn't you?


* Ramon, non-flibberty-gibberty hard-hitting political analysis about something to follow shortly.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello there, you're a very attractive blog reader and I'd like to buy you a drink

Bad blog pick-up line? Sorry about that. You see I'm all flushed with my short-lived summer fling over at Rita and Margriet and I'm so awfully glad to be back and you look so marvellously erudite sitting there at your computer and I just couldn't help myself.

Anyway, a very happy new year to you and yours. What have you been up to? We've been all over; well, if you consider Canberra and Sydney all over. We've eaten way too much, put some considerable work into reducing our collective familial sleep deficit, and most excitingly ordered a mini-tramp (which was delivered this morning - my God what have I done).

I even, even, cleaned up some of my paperwork which has been lying all around the house for the last ten million years.

AND I've listed 53 books for sale on eBay. As soon as I figure what to do with the other 400 surplus books currently occupying the buffet, dining table, lounge chair and living room floor Mr Kettle may stop frowning and start smiling again (but that could be some time off; sorry Mr Kettle).

Anyway, enough about me. What have you been doing? Reading? Penning ballads? Dusting your 2010 trophies? Trying out your new scientific calculators? Sitting on chairs? Buying puzzle mats? Tell me, do.