Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A couple of observacions

OK, so I´m still suffering a bit of jetlag, but that happens when you venture halfway round the globe. Spent last night in Santiago de Chile, the capital of that slender nation, and now your correspondant is hunkered down in an internet joint somewhere in Buenos Aires, trying to get a handle on these weirdarse keyboards. So cut it with any nonsense about dud keystrokes and dogy spellings. I´ve got this far, but that´s because I´ve already knocked out a swift one to the olds, and am getting familar with the strange shift key and the ñ. Kinda like in Turkey, when the i key wasnñ the i key and I had terrible trouble just logging on to my hotmail account. Those were the days.
¿So, what has impressed me so far?
Chilean food is the pits. As far as I could tell, the national dish id the sandwich, or a variation thereof. Or many variations thereof, stuffed full of strange looking hams and vegies. Mind you, I was only there for 18 hours. And all I could get my hands on was the ol´reliable cheese and tomato number. They did have some nasty looking hotdogs smothered in mayo (the guidebook aptly described it as a blanket of mayo), and it seems to be what one scoffs with a cerveza, but I´m waiting till I return there in a coupla weeks to sink my pearly whites into one of those. Or more.
Fast food joints must outnumber restaurants in Santiago by about 6 to 1. And most of them sell these hotdogs. Or atleast are named things like "Doggis". Otherwise you´re next best bet is ice cream, which they seem to dig over there.
Santiago wasnñt what I expected of the richest and most westernised nation on this here continent. Way more dirty and traffic-clogged and low-rise that I´d expected. And that magical view of the Andes wasn´t visible through the smog. Though I did get an awesome view of the mountains as we flew over them this morning.
And while Í´m on flights, the Auckland-Santiago leg was hell for a fairly big bloke like myself, wedged there in economy, with, as always, the person who immediately puts their seat ALL THE WAY BACK as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off. Ho`pe your trip sucks dogs balls bitch.
But all was redeemed when checking in this morning the requisite two hours before departure, when a lovely Chileña sidled up to us asking what time we were departing, only to suggest the next flight was available, leaving us with just a half-hour wait at the airport AND bulkhead seats. The clanging of the spheres or just my own hapless charm? I´ll go for the latter.
BA on the other hand is an amazing looking town. Just like Paris or Barçelona, only warmer and with madder drivers. And yes, it is true what they say: this city seriously sports the best looking men and women on the planet. Itñs a constant battle not to phwoar and turn your head as they amble past...
talking on their mobile phones as though they are two-way radios. They hold them to their mouth to speak and then to their ear to hear. As opposed to holding them in the one place to get both things happening at once, they talk into it with not even the slightest pretence at listening to the other person.
Beef. Bring it on. I´ve always been a red meat man, and this place is meant to slice and char the world´s best. So look out parrillas, here I come.
Now it´s time to sample the local ale.
¡Hasta luego amigos!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

First the heavy news:
Today it was confirmed that a little cancerian skander will be joining the world in 2006.

And on a lighter note:
The work Xmas do is tonight, and I have a rather fetching seersucker safari suit to impress the crowd with.
Then I leave for South America on Monday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bucking the trend

I have attended a bucks do on almost every Saturday night so far this December. Bucks parties are strange beasts, the sort of thing you look forward to with equal parts trepidation and and fervour. There's the prospect of copious amounts of piss, of naked, dancing bogans, of being stuck with the bride's best friend's fiancé who works in behind a service counter at a university, of barely seen old mates, of illicit drugs, of casinos, of obscure family rituals. My main motivating factor is, frankly, the booze. Then again, as many would suggest, it is perhaps, my only motivating factor. Ever. My love of the demon is well-documented, and it is my understanding that, yes, he loves me back.

Nonetheless, bucks parties are strange events. All that testosterone in one place, all these fathers and husbands and boyfriends and lovers all sitting round the same table/standing around the same bar. And it always begins with the small talk:
"Ah, Chook, it's been ages mate, what's news?"
"Well, I've got three kids and work's kicking goals"
"What it is you do again? Last time we saw each other it must have been, oh, seven years ago mate, and you were still working in that pub/agency/factory/building near the train station."
"Well, I'm still there mate. Loving it, been working my way up. I'm running the place now. Here, have a business card."
"Ah, so the concrete business is doing okay these days?"
"Well, Katie and I have just bought a place in Pakanham, huge land, and, yeah things are looking good. What's your story mate? Do you ever catch up with Macca these days?"
"Hello Mr Spack!"
"Hello Skander! I haven't seen you for years, not since that time we had to drop you home after you'd had too much to drink at that party all those years ago"
"Yeah, well, older and wiser, you know what they say"
"I hope so. And what are you doing with yourself these days? Something creative/high-powered/to do with cars, I'm sure"
"No, I'm doing well, everythings going just fine. I'm off ot South America for five weeks in Jan, so I'm really looking forward to that"
"Oh that sounds wonderful. I've always wanted to go to South America. Tell me are you going to Capetown? I hear it's lovely."
"Oh, silly me. Now, tell me, how are your parents? Judy and I would love to catch up with them someday."
or worst of all
"G'day Ando! Man, it's been ages. How's things?"
"Oh, they're alright. Chrissie is letting me see young Oscar again these days, so I guess things are looking up"
"Oh, that's good news. I didn't know you guys had been having trouble?"
"Um, yeah, she started seeing this other guy a couple of years ago, and you know, neither of us thought they were serious. Just after Ollie turned two, she felt she wanted a fling, and so, whatever. We had an arrangement. And then one day, I just come home from work and all her stuff, and all of little Oliver's stuff is gone. She'd even put a restraining order on me! Can you believe it?"
"Man, it was tough times. But I'm doing ok now. Doc tells me I'm almost ready go off the prozac soon."
"Oh, and do you find they've helped?"
"Well, as I said, it was tough times. But since I've been allowed to go back home, I have really been finding that I'm on the improve. I spose the drugs help. Yeah, and Mum still drops round and cleans the place up n stuff. Cooks me dinner."
"Oh really, how is your mum?"
"Oh good. Now, do you know where the bathroom is mate? Cool. I'll be back in 5."
And so it goes.

But the oddly defining part of the last two bucks affairs I went to were that the first buck organised his own stripper, and the second one was a play-by-play copy of the best man's bucks party held 3 months prior. To the minute.

And that's kinda wierd. Well both of them are. You don't bloody well organise the stripper at your own bucks party. If you have one at all, and I'm not averse to the bucks party that does not have strippers—in fact, I'm rather partial to them. But like, greeting and looking after the stripper, like, "I'll be sitting here, so you come in from over there..." is all a bit strange. I mean, it's supposed to be degrading and somewhat embarassing, not all familiar and like "Hi Joanne, welcome" And the groomsmen are meant to pay from a hat passed round (preferably before the event), surely? Not the groom chasing her after her routine with a wad of cash...

The second one, on the other hand, just seemed completely and absolutely unoriginal, and by that, was rather uncomplimentary to the buck. I kinda believe that bucks parties are tailored to the buck, to the sorta things he's into, be it paintball or horse-racing or strippers or fuck-off expensive wine. But to just regurgitate what this bloke did for you a couple of months earlier is a cop out. It was a frame-by-frame remake: first go-karting; then lunch in Port Melbourne; then a room at the casino; with a pair of topless waiteresses; everything.

Which is not to say I did not enjoy myself at either of these events. Indeed, I am sure I was not making any sense whatsoever when I finally disappeared out of the casino from the later party. Sure, because I couldn't stand up straight either. And because I was having trouble seeing anything in the singular. As I said, I love that demon alcohol. And he loves me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Best Neighbours News EVER!

Patrick Harvey is pulling up stumps in February, and taking his character, the shite and balding Connor off our screens. Have you ever heard anything more exciting?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Is this woman the devil incarnate?

Condi yesterday refused to either confirm or deny the existence of the CIA's supposed network of secret torture prisons, or Black Sites, across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Let me paraphrase: I'm not saying they exist, and I'm not saying there don't exist, but, were they to exists, they would be a very important instrument in the War On Terror®.

Now, aside from the fact that she seems to have been taking lessons from our very own Dear Leader, there is only one problem with her refusal to state categorically whether the US has broken international law by setting up these clandestine gaols. Our Man in Bangkok (or alternatively, My Favourite Mogul) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vehemently denied reports that a Voice of America relay station in Udon Thani was operated as a Black Site by the CIA, before he had it hastily closed down after a reports surfaced in the Washington Post.

Still, Condi's line seems to be the standard one: I'm not saying yes, and I'm not saying no, so at no time in the future can anyone accuse me of lying. But it does sound to me like she's already making a play for the Republican candidate for the 2008 Presidency (and who better to take on that lesbian beeyatch Hillary Clinton?)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My thoughts precisely

As enunicated by Dr Scott Burchill.

See, the Left can be coherent.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Welcome back Jess

Where on earth do you find this stuff?

Skin a bunny-rabbit

Dorset Deep Dish Rabbit Pie

Half a kilo of rabbit fillets, seasoned flour, fresh sage or thyme and streaky bacon; breadcrumbs, rind of one lemon, one egg, pepper, salt and one cup of milk

Preheat oven to 160°. Dredge rabbit fillets in seasoned flour an pack tighly in a deep pie dish, no more than two layers deep. Snip bacon pieces over the rabbit and scatter with freshly-picked herb leaves.
Pour in milk to just about cover the rabbit. Mix Breadcrumbs, lemon rind and egg, season, and press firmly over the meat to form a crust. Bake for 1½ hours.


With thanks to Artbyelaine, The Collingwood Children's Farm Farmers' Market and The Bible.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I want to ride my bicycle...

A few months ago, right, well, half a year ago, I was happily riding my bike to and fro the workplace. It's only about 20 minutes or so, a coupla hills, a park, some tramlines and I'm there. It takes about the same amount of time as driving—unfortunately for my route, PT just doesn't cut it, and couldn't unless someone were to drill a whopping great tunnel under the Exhibtion Building. It's kinda sad, because I love me my PT, ever since that rockin' LGB train-set I had as a little skander. I have been a slut for infrastructure ever since. [Note to self: locate old train-set.][Note to LGB: Why the fuck do you need a massive flash intro with techno soundtrack for a manufacturer of model trains?] But, taking a tram (yes, non-Melbournites, a tram!) would take me about 40 minutes and entail at least 2 changes. Shite.
So, earlier in the year, I was cycling. Doesn't that word sound genteel? All boater hats and picnics. I didn't have a pushie of my own, and my olds had just moved house, and unearthed a really nice bike, a Giant mountainbike, that my mother had given my father a few years earlier in the hope he might do exercise with other parts of his body besides his elbow. No luck there.
So this bike is in very good nick (hardly used, one gentleman onwner) and about the right size for me. Bingo. I drop round to my olds to pick it up before the removalists do and find my brother has taken it and attached a kids chair to the back. No biggie, he's got a bike of his own, a road bike which he rides around Port Phillip Bay no less, a bike that reportedly set him back $8k no less. I'll get this one soon.
Eventually, after a shitload of hassling and finally turning up at his place and pretty much demanding this (let's get with the program here) MTB, I wrestle it back from him, to a soundtrack of his wife harping on, in another room but well within earshot, about how I should buy one of my own as they only cost about 400 bucks. At this point it is important to note that I had my father's blessing in this; something like "Your brother already has his own bike, yes, you can use mine, just go and bloody get it off him. It's not his, it's mine"
So there I am for a good coupla months, little flashing lights and all, pedalling off to work and back. Until the horrific incident that required a podiatrist (shout out to the lovely Anne-Marie if you're reading this), ergo no cycling for a while. It's coming up to the coldest months n shit weather n I'd worked out how to get a lift to work.
At some stage during injury time, the brother rings up to borrow this bike—his being way too flash and expensive to want to put a kiddie seat on.
"Sure" I tell him, and dutifully let him borrow the bicycle one Sunday morning. Monday arvo he asks if he can return it. "Sure" I say, "You know where the key is". Like you do.
It's there when I get home. I don't pay much attention to it. It's cold n wet n I want to get inside to the warmth and the red wine and pallet full of DVDs I have to watch for work.
About a week later, as I wander past, I notice that the bike has suddenly sprouted a pannier. Odd, why would my brother want a pannier when what he wants it for is a kiddie seat? So I look closer. The colours look the same, silver and blue. Yep, it's a giant. Something's odd. The grips are all old and worn; there's suddenly a bell; the clips for the lights are all in the wrong spots. He's returned the wrong bike.
I shrug my shoulders, and mention it to the olds the next time I see them:
"Frére has returned the wrong bike"
"What do you mean the wrong bike?"
"It's a different bike. It looks really similar, but it's not the same bike"
My mind drifted back to the time I first collected this bike from him, and thought, oh well, they must have gone and bought another bike for me so they could keep the other one. Crafty. Not too worried at this stage as it's still wintry and I sure as hell aint riding for another coupla weeks at least.
And then he rings up: "Hi Skander, can I borrow the bike again, I want to take jeune nephew for a ride."
"Sure" I say, "But it's not the same bike."
"It's the new one you returned, not Dad's one"
"What do you mean?"
"It's the bike you returned to my place, not Dad's one that you borrowed."
"But I returned Dad's one"
"Oh no you didn't"
And so it progressed, as any conversation between brothers does. Some of you will know more about that than others, I'm sure. And so he's swearing black and blue that he returned the correct bike, and that therefore, the bike at my place, I dunno, just morphed into a similar looking but very different bicycle. Or, his logic runs, someone has broken into my house, taken one bike out of the two that are standing there next to my front door, leaving the other one, and then come back and replaced the bike they have stolen with a similar looking one, still leaving the old green Raleigh that doesn't get used, and locked the gate again on the way out.
This, strangely enough doesn't make sense to me. But I argue and get no where. And eventually it results in one of those huge family arguments where everyone has something to say and an opinion to contribute and no-one gets anywhere and everyone is talking over one another. You know the drill.
Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago. I reckon I'll give this imposter bike a go—I haven't got anything else now have I? So off I trundle, and my lord, this bike is shit. The gears don't work, the deraillieur won't even look at pulling the chain in the way I want it to, the handlebars are loose (and of course I haven't packed the allen keys) and I realise that it's a woman's MTB and about 4 sizes too small so I can pedal like hell and hardly get anywhere. True.
So, it's a dud. It's no use to me, and probably only needs a good hour or two with the mechanic and I might be able to get some money for it. But it means I have to go out and get an new bike for myself. And where oh where do I begin?
He still swears he left the correct bike at my place. I'm lucky I mentioned it to the olds as early as I did or my story would have no credibility. No credibility? Like supposing someone broke into a house, stole a bike and replaced it with a replica has credibility. Ha!

Friday, November 18, 2005

odds n ends

I cried at Neighbours last night.
Ned Zelic: dude, what's doing? I don't reckon you could'nt've had your knees any further apart. Shave around your goatee and straighten up and I shall accept your slavic testosterone seeping through my screen with much more readily.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

La Salle d'Attente

A quick shoutout to John Fowles who died on the weekend. This man was responsible for one of my earliest journeys into literature, with the engrossing entrapment that is The Magus. Just the thing for a boy of 19: sunkissed, mysterious, and ever-so slightly erotic.

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's all about the sunnies

Thank god that's all over. But golly it was fun while it lasted.

The statistics:
  • 216 stubbies of Melbourne Bitter
  • 48 bottles of San Pellegrino
  • 30 regular bottles of Trilogy
  • 6 Magnums of Trilogy
  • 1 bottle of Pimms No 1 Cup
  • 3 bottles of lemonade
  • 2 bottles of dry ginger ale
  • 4 bottles os Schweppes 'lemon lime & bitters'
  • mint, cucumber and ornage to garnish
  • 20 bags of ice
  • 2 grams of cocaine
  • 162 baby chicken, coriander and almond sandwiches
  • 36 mini prawn and butter lettuce baguettes with a lime mayo
  • 60 sticky BBQ pork rice paper rolls with hoi sin & peach dipping sauce
  • 60 middle-eastern spiced lamb meatballs with red capsicum dipping sauce
  • 60 mini felafel with hummus, tahini & yoghurt sauce wrapped in flatbread
  • 3 Mediterranean moulles
  • 2 sides of smokin' Tom Cooper's smoked salmon, smoked the day before
  • 1 fillet of beef
  • 1 bag of chips
  • 1 market umbrella
  • 1 tressle table
  • 2 table cloths
  • 50 champagne flutes
  • 2 red tin buckets
  • 1 red tin jug
  • 100 plastic cups
  • 4 eskies
  • 1 bunch of yellow roses
  • 2 packets of serviettes
  • 4 platters
  • 2 car spaces
  • 38 satisfied punters
  • 32 degrees celsius
  • 10 horse races
  • 1 historic event

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I heart this T-shirt design

and have for quite some time. From those crazy cats at Tshirt Hell.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

And more Neighours...


Leaps and bounds ahead of Tuesdays, in my books. This is what soaps are about—trauma, and the way this affects the relationships between people. This is what Ramsay Street doesn't do well. It is something the British soaps are very good at, getting everyone together for the bubbles of emnity to rise to the surface and create divisions between characters. A la Max and Karl, previously pretty good mates, at each other's throats. I hope they keep this sort of tension going.

And Neighbours was blessed the day they wrote and cast Janelle Timmins: "I've always said that man was a cockroach. He'd survive anything". PURE GOLD.

The only negative aspect to the episode is that Connor survived.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Holy See

And so we have seen the last of everyone's favourite JAP, the ersatz Serbo-Australian Serenna Bishop. Yes, after the tumultuous time she has spent in Erinsborough—snapping up the storyline Delta ditched featuring the oddly attractive internet soft-porn-meister, Chris Cousens; heavy-petting her heavy-breathing half-brother; A whole bunch of excuses for her to wear a bikini (whihc we don't mind at all); and well, not really much else. For one thing, at least poor Lara won't have to lock lips with Australia's leading example of premature balding, Connor O'Something Oirish. Perhaps that is the reason why she decided to 'jump ship'.

And so we've seen the end of wanton hussy Ljiljana Bishop and her sap of a huband, dorky Dave—Dave, who's not done much except lose all his cash in his opening weeks, and have one great scene where he finally had a go at his wife for shagging Paul Robinson. Where were all the holier-than-thous when poor Dave got cuckolded, Susan and Lyn? As for Ljil, well, pfft.

What shits me about this aeroplane tragedy, what really shits me, is that off all the characters who have been killed, they are all from the same family, and at least two of them had potential. Why the fuck wasn't Stuart Parker on that plane? Why the fuck did Connor have to survive? He can't even read, he's balding, he's hard to understand, and he's ugly. If I'd had three characters to axe, it would have been Chooka, Connor and Ljiljana, no questions asked. All three of them are superfluous wastes of space in my opinion.

But back on topic: Harold has to be the unluckiest guy in the world. Everyone around him dies. And not just dies, but dies spectacularly. I understand the arguments the Neighbours producers have put around that they wanted some drama, some grief, and a few less characters, but to strip Harold of three of the only four people in the world who are releated to him is altogther too cruel. Why not share the grief around? We could all have done without Dylan, and the Timminses could outmourn any family, I'm sure. Or Bobby Hoyland, even, if we wanna extend the circle. Hell, there's an army out there with its sights firmly set on Lyn Scully—a character with so much potential as the new busybody in my books, and yet gets thrown so little. Surely the Hoylands are due a tragedy? Perhaps it could have been Summer? make that Boyd, he's more of a sap. Wouldn't a whole street in ourning be better than the chance to alter Harold's personality YET AGAIN, this time so he can attempt to murder Paul Robinson?

I dunno. The logic behind the murder of these three characters is beyond me. I saw so much potential in spoilt brat Serena and have held out hope of a hottie Serb family from WA leaving the vineyard to join aunt Ljil, whether she's there or not. And now, no. Although I can still hope to see crazy-eye Sventanka Ristic again, can't I? Can't I?

Monday, October 24, 2005


Once again the Premiers are barking up the wrong tree. It's not some vague Howardian "shoot to kill" clause—a right most Australian police forces already have—that is the most disturbing part of this so-called "anti-terror" legislation. It's the restrictions on freedom of speech implied in the sedition clauses. The sort of clause that that could have someone who may support the Palestinian struggle against the brutal, illegal occupation of their lands by a foreign military force, 'detained' without charge for up to a year.

Now that's scary

And while I'm at it, good on John Stanhope for being the only Labor leader with any spine.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Blatantly Stolen Content

I came by this work for a Brazilian artist called Icasro Doria. It rocks. And there's more. But never enough. I love this sort of shit. It's the type of stuff that led to me having a big stack of COLORS magazines a few years back. Man they were good. My sister still denies nicking them, but she has a history of poking her nose into places and not owning up to it. That's what sisters are for, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Two things that have got my goat this morning:
  • emails that begin "This actually works!!!": FUCK OFF.
  • and people who do not refill the kettle and turn it back on, when they have used the last of the hot water. ARSEHOLE.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Heart and Seoul

A cautionary tale from the land of video games and fucked-up violence, from our man in Seoul, The Bee:

This is not a tale for everyone so if you don't enjoy blood and violence better to stop here. This is a story that i recently witnessed all too closely that sheds light on a darker side of korea.but hey,we're not perfect either.Not too long ago i was casually sampling a few sherberts at the local candy shop (aka a bar). sundown.nearing the end of the tastings a few disgruntled korean customers, one 30 something man and two similary aged and average looking women started a minor raucus when they steadfastly challenged the owner, a near eldery woman, that they were overcharged on the bill. the owner promptly double checked and reiterated that the bill was correct.stalemate.story should have ended there but this trio refused to back down or go away.they held their ground and voices began to roar. one of the girls was particularly vocal,noticeably inspired with dutch courage.the guy was equally stubborn but more controlled in his speech and of far fewer words.standoff.within minutes, any remaining chance of peace morphed into a ugly hardcore verbal wrestling match, without the script.the "ugly" korean woman was particularly abusive in her verbal attack on the older lady in a way which makes shane warne look like a perfect gentleman.while i don't understand the language i can read vocal volume, spitting and pointing - kinda like a john mcenroe outburst without the tennis racquet. lowdown.enter the young cook, a slight and slightly hunchbacked korean, nobly left the kitchen to bolster the home team.the 2 boys went outside.showdown.the next thing i saw was the cook stumbling back inside with a hole in his head the size of a golf ball and a trail of blood flowing from his temple at a worrying pace.a sickening sight,ostensibly the product of a glass bottle.takedown.the elderly lady voluntarily hit in the ground in an almost half faint/half statement and hysterically flapped her armed and legs about like a upturned beetle. tough to watch but she still had a element of control about her drama, and in fact i saw this same move on a tv drama several weeks later.laydown.looking at the growing pool of blood and the tears of the elderly lady set off my compadre, a 55 year a jolly,fat,white haired white bearded canadian red neck, appropriately named Santa Dave.Santa Dave had seen enough and quite liked this place.he shot a volley at the guy if he wants a war he's got one. nexts he fires at the witch "shut up." she snaps back with "i don't speak english" to which santa d gives her a free spelling lesson "B-I-T-C-H".putdown.Then he turns his attention to her male companion."look at this" gesturing at the ugliness of the scene."what's it all for?" he charged. "She overcharged me!" came back the original male antagonist."how much?"The most illuminating words spoken all night was the korean warrior's reply:"10 bucks." shakedown.Santa was in a festive mood and returned with "U f'n kiddn me - i'll give u 20 to f off right now!". "principle" came the korean backdown.Upon his offer to buy the group out from the premises being swatted down Dave promptly issued the staunch korean with one word "outside".meltdown.the most surprisingly thing was the korean dude held his ground.didn't move.despite possibly nearly killing someone, an ambulance on the way,the police probably likewise, and now he's been challenged by a man mountain of a guy who belies his 55 years.he hesistantly but not uncooly rebounds with, "this will be your grave" and made a series of phone calls with the air of a call for reinforcements. Santaty prevails on santa d and he calls the cops. calm down.ambulance arrives for the cook, a husband for our lady manager to relieve her after an enduring night and the police for the terrible trio.downtown.end of chapter but i think there's some sort of message about principle and korean culture in there.

Friday, October 07, 2005

You can't take it with you!

In lieu of the myriad draft posts I have not finished, I give you my greatest success of the week:


389,000,000 odd! All 12 mansion rooms! 3 extra balls! Tour the Mansion! 3 Replays and 6 free credits! Such success! The barman commented! And he works there! Highest Score! Grand Champion!


All I need now is to conquer the king of Pinball: The Twilight Zone.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A vegetative state

One of my favourite little graffiti conversations is etched above the urinals at the Union Club. It warms my heart every time I read it:
"How many peas does it take to change a lightbulb?"
"None, they don't have any arms."


Not really, it's just the way they're made

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Trouble with Auntie

I'm not quite sure what the ABC is up to lately. It's the Saturday and Sunday night line-ups which have me puzzled. The old Sunday night in with Auntie is a long established tradtion in my household—well, it was when I was a kid, and it is now that I am a conservative old man. An old man who shakes his head in wonder that what on earth Mark Latham thinks he's achieving with all this bile; and the same goes for Robert Doyle and his spectacular policy launch last week; and for those New Zealandish voters; and, and I'll stop now.

The way I see it is grey-haired types stay home with a certain amount of regularity on a Saturday night. Agreed? Whereas, plenty o' people of all ages stay home on a Sunday night, what with work eating into our Mondays.

So the ABC gives us Midsomer Murders of a Saturday night. Fine. My grandmother will happily sit down with a stable-table and a boiled egg to sigh about how wonderful the old days were and reminisce about the verdant joys of a village life she's only ever dreamed of, where there was nothing untoward about two ladies co-habiting, the vicar rode a bicycle and red lipstick was considered garish (and red shoes too, for that matter). Nothing new there.

And on Sunday night, my parents, who are only just starting to grey, get all het up over New Tricks, about a quartet of grumpy old has-beens (both as actors and characters) including a feisty, muttony Alison Braithwaite, solving cases. The attraction here is that the characters in this TV show are slightly older than my olds, so they can sit there with their Sunday night boiled egg and guffaw at the old klutzes, thinking "thank christ we're not that old yet!" Nothing new there—onscreen, or off.

Recently, this has been followed by Canterbury Tales. My mother doesn't even get Canterbury Tales. "It's, like, Chaucer, mum. Surely you read this when you were at school. It was published around then." But no, it's the washing up and an early night for them after New Tricks.

The common denominator of this is that the audiences for both programs enjoy a boiled egg while they watch. They are old people. And these shows are on different fucking nights. Who on earth in the programming department deep in the bowels of Ultimo (it can't have been anything but some vogue-ish Sydney decision) decided that it would be fun to stretch the gerry programs over two nights, and follow them—each of them—with shows that younger people can relate to? Nay, can sit in front of with a pizza and still go "cool", or "phwoar!" or even just "what's this then?"at?

So, why doesn't Auntie program New Tricks to follow Midsomer Murders—that way, the boiled-eggers of this world could have a jolly good night in with a few chuckles and "I don't mind if I do have a little whisky before bed, it is Saturday night after all". While those of us with less, let me say, quintogenarian tastes, could stretch out on the couch with a nice little reefer, a vegetarian with hot salami and a cleanskin red, in front of Hustle, followed by Canterbury Tales. That way we get 2 hours of quality entertainment, each of us, on our respective nights. And never the twain shall meet.

OK, so all of this is because I was actually in on Saturday night, and caught Hustle again. And it rekindled my weak-at-the-knees crush on Jaime Murray:


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Out of Colac by way of Erinsborough

How awesome are Janelle and Janae Timmins, then?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why I Love British Newspapers #13


The Sun was thankful for a guerns to the stylish nuptials of Jordan and Our Peter Andre .

Friday, September 02, 2005

I want to be a part of BA, Buenos Aires' big apple

I'm going to be spending 5 days in Buenos Aires at the end of the year. At which of these hotels do you think I should stay?Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Kamikaze taxi

Saturday night, eh? Ended up hitting this Japanese restaurant that I've been a-hankering for for quite a while. Well, since I read a review about a year ago, and then discovered the place the old-fashioned way—that is, by walking past it—last week. It's all stick-ey, like yakitori-yum, with heaps of different varieties, so that the squid yaki came out wrapped round in a big circle, looking like some awesome white lollypop. Yum. And there were nasu dengaku ones and oh, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. And then delicious thick white fish sashimi, and other mouth-watering pieces of tenderness. All preceded by lychee martinis and washed down with Tsing Tao. Not bad for an evening which began with a "what's up?" phone call at 7:45pm.

So the locals ended up grabbing a cab home together from outside the Metro. While we're waiting, and this dude starts talking to us. He was looking for a cab too, and talking about all sorts of shit, kinda making three-quarter sense, about how he's an engineer and is spouting off all this stuff about the energy consumption of public transport. OK, seems like a nice-enough bloke. Then he decided to that he'd hail our taxi for us, which he cocked up, and so decided we should share his ride. Him to Fitzroy, us to NM. Hmm. Brunswick street wasn't too far out of our way, and he said he'd pay. He was pretty insistent, but seemed like an alright bloke, he didn't smell, wasn't cross-eyed, so we said alright. Well, he was in the front seat, so it was hard to toss him out.

And so he's crapping on about working in the mines up in far WA, how he was two months on, two weeks off, and he did it for six years and had a girlfriend the whole time, and then he quit to spend more time with her and it broke up after three weeks. So we're thinking this guy's a bit weird, and he keep saying he wants to go to Easey Street Fitzroy, but Easey's in Collingwood. Meh. I couldn't work out if he was pissed or loved-up or what, but he kept kinda forgetting shit.

Anyway, we get to Brunswick street, and he goes "Oh shit, I'm not going to Easey Street Fitzroy, I'm going to Smith Street Richmond." "WTF?" "Sorry guys, I'll pay the whole way, I've got $20 for the fare, it's ok, we'll just keep going". Um, no we won't. So we're like "Um, driver, can you stop here please", and again with spirit, louder and sterner. And louder and sterner again, until finally Mr Taxi driver stops and we jump out and bid our fucked-up friend farewell, much to his continuing protestations.

Lesson of the week: don't share cabs with strangers.

Why I love British Newspapers

It's headlines like this one in today's Guardian:

Last gasp: French kick the Gauloise habit
Gauloises no longer to be made in France. Le pays, as the French do not say, is going to les chiens.

Gauloises, incidentally, are my favoured coffin-nail, en France.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What do these two people have in common?

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The Question of Zion

If you've got a spare 15 minutes today, I highly, highly recommend reading the transcript of the interview Tony Jones conducted last night withProfessor Jacqueline Rose. Better still, watch it.

Jacqueline Rose is a British academic who works, as she said, on the borders of literature, politics and psychoanalysis. She is also a jewess. She has written a book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in particular the use of rhetoric in support of the Zionist cause, that is, the expansion of Israel as a 'holy' Jewish nation. I have never been able to understand the ferocity of the hatred the Israeli right has towards the dispossessed arabs upon whose soil they live. I do not deny Israel it's right to existence. However, I am appalled by the military invasion and military occupation of the West Bank (and until just a few days ago Gaza). I am appalled by the subjugation and denial of human rights to people of the these areas. I am appalled by the policy of 'targetted assassinations'. I am appalled at the double-standard that inherently lies beneath these actions—that is, it is justifiable for us appropriate your land, because you were hostile towards us; to assassinate your leaders, because they oppose us; and to do all of this because the German Nazi party and the Third Reich treated us in similarly appalling ways. Somehow, because our people were the main victims of the Holocaust, because the property and livelihoods of (some of) our ancestors were visciously torn from them, we can do this to a current generation of people who were in no way related to the fascist concentration camps of Middle Europe, and upon whom we were foisted without their consultation.

To me, this is akin to me savagely beating and robbing a passerby, because my own great-grandmother had been murdered in another city in another part of the world many years before, and I felt I had the right to protect myself incase this person, child even, had a sinister glint in their eye. This is not respecting one's neighbour, it is not doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is not fair, nor decent, nor justifiable. Neither is suicide bombing, mind you.

Read or watch the interview. Professor Rose is a much more eloquent exponent of my point of view.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

El Presidente

The week I decide to be a Venezuelan Leftist Fanboy is the very week the US Religious Right decides to out itself as the gun-toting fascist bullyboy that its always been. I expect a few harsh words will have been thrown down the phone from the oval office this week, along the lines of that Alanis Morrissette star-vehicle You can't do that on Television. For those of you who don't know what the fuck I'm on about, a quick primer on my hero for the week, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías:
  • he's the president of Venezuela
  • he's popular
  • he's a lefty
  • he's an ex-paratrooper
  • a colonel, no less
  • he's established free medicine
  • and increased literacy,
  • he's a good friend of Fidel's (and a friend of Fidel's...)
  • his is the fifth biggest oil producing nation in the world
  • and it has the world's tallest waterfall
The US has already tried to unseat him twice, once covertly—by backing a coup in 2002—and once overtly—by funding a recall referendum they lost last year. All the while prattling on about representative democracy. And they have still manged to cock it up both times. And now, Mr Robertson, they can't much assassinate him because we'll all know who was to blame. HA! What's that about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face?

Somebody mention Salvador Allende?



postscript: This is the article to read about Venezuela

Friday, August 12, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Festival Finale

And so, a triumphant end to my Festival:

The Wayward Cloud
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A woman returns from Paris to Taipei, with a suitcase, in the midst of a drought. The drought is so bad that people are encouraged to substitute watermelon for water. She can't open her suitcase. Upstairs, her love-interest is taking a lead role in a bunch of home made porn films. Yeah. And it's punctuated with high camp musical interludes.
An explicit Taiwanese lovestory, eh? This is one strange, strange film. It is easily the most aural film I have ever seen. With fuck-all dialogue—you never hear the lead male speak at all, and probably only get a good 40 words from the female lead (there's more dialogue between the Japanese pornographers than there is between the leads)—the emphasis is put on those everyday sounds: her constant footsteps up and down the hallway of her apartment block; the shooshing of plastic bags; a jackhammer; the gooey, crunchy sounds of chewing; of choking and swallowing; of slurpy, slappy sex; of heaving breathing, sighing and grunting; of pouring water, dripping water. So while we watch as our heroine goes about her everyday tasks, her suitor is upstairs shagging his co-star senseless, literally. Watermelons used as sex-toys, as food, as drink, as birth surrogates. And there are bodily fluids to match the sounds, there's saliva and tears and cum aplenty. And an ending that I am at a loss to explain. Just plain disturbing. Explicit and disturbing.

Le Pont des Arts
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And within 15 minutes I was back in the cinema. For a pair of parallel love stories, of sorts. He on the poster is a disillusioned student with an all-too-serious serious girlfriend. She is a classical singer with an amazing voice, an arsehole conductor and a misunderstanding, well-meaning boyf. She is at the end of her tether. She can't handle it anymore. He hears her recordings and pulls his head from the oven. They fall in love. Ish, because she's dead.
Film-making by numbers this one. French film-making by numbers. The entire film was shot direct-to-camera, all speech by all characters spoken to camera, all very nouvelle vague. Our lead fills the role of Jean-Pierre Léaud, the self-substitute used by both Godard and Truffaut, very well—to the point that he looks like him. All very left-bank and outre and gauloises-smoking. And so while holding up the arts as lofty and sacred, it took the piss out of the arts, the arts being run, in this case, by a shady trio of ridiculous, aging, sugar-daddy queens sharing their aspiring art-boy 'stewards'. There was more direct-to-camera business. There was a bunch manifesto-like Godardian philosphy. There was musing and repression and very little expression. There was some humour, there was a lot of very beautiful music. I liked it. In a wanky French trying-too-hard kinda way. And it didn't end with a woman with a cock in her mouth and tears streaming down her face.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"We would have made more progress against terrorism if we had brought peace to Palestine rather than war to Iraq."

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A man who had the strength of character to stand aside from his cabinet position in Tony Blair's government as a protest against the ilegal invasion of a sovereign nation, to voice his dissent publicly when so many kept their own counsel. Vale Robin Cook.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

More Festival

Round two.

Ding ding

A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

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Back to Uchida Tomu, and this time a samurai flick. A road movie even, as a samurai lord and his two retainers make their way to Tokyo to deliver a teacup. Yep, a teacup. That you only see once. Briefly. This so-called cinematic masterpiece focusses on the experience of the samurai's lancer, played by the self-same actor who emotionally portrayed the birthmarked hero in Yoshiwara: The Pleasure Quarter. We also get to watch the enthralling escapades of a bunch of people we initially met on a ferry: amongst them a travelling player and her young child—a daughter who offers one of the most enthralling interpretations of the renowned 'slave dance', accompanied by koto; a reticent old peasant farmer selling his beautiful yet innocent daughter to a slave-trader, a nasty and deceitful thief and a comedy blind priest. Brilliant!
Well, kinda. A black and white genre pic. You could almost call it a buddy movie. A samurai film without violence (wha...?) but peppered with Ben-Stiller-type eeeww jokes. It was packed full of messages: all people are equal; violence is vanity; alcohol is evil. It sure moved at a clip compared to all the flicks I'd seen previously, and the sidekick kid stole the show.

Housewarming (Traveaux)

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A French comedy in the tradition of Les Fugitifs and The Dinner Game, this one concerning a beautiful, lefty, dancing lawyer, a handful of illegal imigrants and the nightmare that is renovation. Yes, a high-kicking, dancing lawyer.
It's amazing the difference in crowd at these Festy screenings. For Saraband it was all grey-haired, serious types; for the Japanese ones it's nerdy-looking fan-boys and fan-girls; for the French comedy, it was all women in coats, mittens optional. And oh, it's fun. A light-weight laugh if ever there was one—and well worth it. I was a little peeved that ony the French was subtitled—and there was a fair bit of Spanish being spoken by said Columbianos. And [spoiler] the place looked better before the renovations than it after them.

Princess Raccoon

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Legend has it that if an human and a tanuki fall in love, all hell will break loose.
Now,a modern film... but a Japanese comic opera? From esteemed director Sejun Suzuki—certainly the most arty of art films I've seen recently. It's very much a stage-y film, very much an opera: most of the action takes place on a set with a rousing chorus, complete with the comic characters you would expect from an Italian opera. Starring Zhang Zi Yi, you can't really go wrong—I mean there's one of the hottest women in the world up there, even if she is heading towards over-exposure. Yet, still, it ran for too long; it was slow, slow, slow.

The Mad Fox

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The third in my Uchida Tomu homage, this film was strikingly similar to the aforementioned Princess Raccoon. To the point where I'm pretty damn sure that it was the inspiration for Suzuki's enthralling 'lyrical tale'. This one is about a man falling in love with a fox—the other of Japan's two mythical, mystical shape-changing animals. The fox, however, is wicked, while the raccoon is jolly. Whatever. This 1962 technicolour number, considered Uchida Tomu's best by someone, somewhere, starts with a simple court-intrigue plot, the murder of the royal astronomer and the jockeying for succession of our hero and the Lady MacBeth-esque widow's favoured replacement. Which all ends in disaster about halfway through the film with the burning of the sets. And instead we switch to this weird-arse fox love story. Trippy weird. Too weird. Complete with rotating stages, animation, paper butterflies and fire-lighter blocks on wires, and a doll wrapped as a baby. Oh, and no sign of my friend the samurai lancer/pock-marked rural silk mogul.

So the upshot of all this Uchida Tomu business is that, frankly, the fellow rightly pales into insignificance behind legendary names like Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi. Watch Tokyo Story. You won't need to see another film ever again.

And so a rating for these four?
  1. Traveaux
  2. A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji
  3. Princess Raccoon
  4. The Mad Fox

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Invasion of Iraq makes Australia a terrorism target

Can anyone seriously believe they are still trying to deny this?

Friday, July 29, 2005

20 years of Erinsborough

The documentary Annalise made? The so-called cameos? Meh. Fat Phil is still fat. And my, Terrence Donovan is looking old. They should have brought Ruth back with Phil instead. This poor imitation of a cast-member returning has been best summed up by Line of Contempt and Ausculture. So much anticipation, so little reward.

But last night: Joe Mangle, GOLD.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Festival

Every year at this wet and chilly time, Melburnians huddle under awnings across the city, black-coated and cigarette-smoking, rubbing their eyes from the overstimulation of the visual orgy in which they have been participating. Ah, all the arty inner-city lefties climb down off their reality-TV-hating highhorses to salivate over the latest soporific gem from such esteemed names as Abbas Kiarostami, Constantine Costa-Gavras or Jia Zhang-Ke.

And so, 100 words or thereabouts on the films I have seen so far:


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A film by Ingmar Bergman. My first Bergman—about time for someone who works in the game. Taking up 30 years on from his famous SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, the 60-ish ex-wife visits her now geriatric husband at his country home and becomes embroiled in a nasty little interation between ex-hubby and his recently-widowed son (who is the same age as his step-mother), and the hotness nordic granddaughter. In ten dialogues, each featuring only two of the characters, a nasty little set of family relationships plays out.
Man, heavy shit. In that heavy sombre Scandinavian way, replete with the hints of incest and outright hatred. The focus is squarely on the acting, and it's blowaway. Extended facial close-ups leave them nothing but the actors' expressions to tell the story through their looks and facial tics. The film is structured dramatically and feels theatrical, two players on a fairly bare stage. But what I dug was the intensity of the performances.

Yoshiwara, the Pleasure Quarter

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A genre piece from a 'recently re-discovered' Japanese director, active in the 1950s and 60s. A horribly-disfigured orphan has made-good but can't snare a wife because of his hideousness. He is taken to the pleasure quarter in Edo (Tokyo), where the geisha also shun him, and so the whoremaster sends their latest endentured slave, a common street-whore dressed up, to attend him. Having no hope and no reservations, she acts tenderly towards him, winnng his love. With dollar signs in her eyes, she promises herself to him as his wife, on the proviso he can make her reach the highest level a geisha can, a grand courtesan. And so we watch as our country squire squanders his wealth and reputation on this scheming temptress, the whoremaster swindles him and his friends and backers desert him.
A melodrama indeed. Glorious in technicolour, it brings to mind films like Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind, all lurid and flambuoyant and overwrought with emotion. Except in a demure, restrained Japanese kinda way, with kimonos, palanquin chairs and funny dances involving fans. And, truth be told, it was a touch on the slow side. It is very much a film of its time, the late 1950s, and as a curiosity/retrospective piece it was pretty solid. Not an undiscovered gem, but a curio of its time.

Kissed by Winter

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An uplifting Norwegian film about a woman's grief over the death of her son, all tied up in the mysterious death of an Iranian lad. Just what you'd expect from the Skandinavians—lots of snow, silence, and longing looks. And grief. Or the suspension of it rather. She moves away from her husband to the country to plunge headlong into work and avoid thinking about the death of her kid. Whose poresnce weighs heavy on this film.
This one kinda felt a bit like a telemovie, and particularly dislikeable was the actor who plays the love interest in this snow-covered rural hamlet. Well put together and well-structured, it was somehow light fare, even though its subject was grief. It didn't feel particulalry deep, as opposed Saraband, and it certainly wasn't folly, like Yoshiwara. I spose this was because the whole film concerned the mother's repression of her grief, and continuing to avoid it by focussing on the death of the refugee kid and the investigation into that. The best part was her calling her old answering machine to hear her son's message, over and over again.

Hawaii Oslo

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I like films like this. I like stories told in this way (David Mitchell, my lord and master) interwoven plots, intersecting here and there, but not necessarily parallel or even echoing each other. Like some sort of ensemble piece for storylines. Five storylines in fact, each happening on a blisteringly hot day (what, about 29 degrees or something) in Oslo.
The cast were all young and pretty, as only Scandinavians can be—but that was kinda strange, hardly an old codger in sight. And this one was moderately-paced, indeed the fastest paced of the films I have seen so far. It rolled along really nicely, tying the tales together, frustrating you when you needed frustrating, rewarding you when it was required. It's one of those films by hip young things, bit of edgy camerawork here, bit of montage there, and some really great shots littered throughout. Particularly the closing shot of a bird's-eye view of Oslo at dawn.

So if I had to rank them, it'd be
  1. Saraband—because I'm still thinking about it now
  2. Hawaii Oslo—because it was the most audience-friendly
  3. Yoshiwara the Pleasure Quarter —for its colour and its nature as a period-piece
  4. Kissed by Winter—an undeserving last. Because it was still better than most films I've seen this year: Star Wars anyone?
What is it with me and Norwegain films this year? Must be the roots.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Language I hate #2

When I was young, I was always asked to make a choice between alternatives. Women, I learnt, sometimes found it difficult to make up their minds. When I was nearing the end of my schooling, I was told I had to MAKE a decision about my future, MAKE a decision about which courses I wanted to apply for, and if I didn't, certain decisions about my future would be MADE for me.

When the fuck did it become TAKE a decision?

I don't know when this happenend, but I'm sure it had something to do with March 2, 1996, a partially-deaf man and a room full of spin-doctors trying to create an impression of "I don't want to do this but...", of responsibility-by-dint-of-duty-alone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Weekends, eh?

The highlights of the last three weekends, depicted pictorially:

The Grand National:
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I am allergic to horses. Badly, badly, grim-reaperly allegric to horses. When I was about the age of 6 or 7, my parents went on their first holiday since being saddled with a handful of grubby, snotty-nosed little angels. We were sent away to my grandparents farm for a couple of weeks, a good 5 hours from Melbourne. This place was, and still is heaven. Even if it was burnt out almost three years ago, and then blanketed in 3 inches of snow last week. It is the place of all my childhood memories. It is the place I grew up. I don't have memories of my early years in Melbourne aside from a vague memory of red jelly in glass teacups, a flotilla of cousins and the Edna Walling garden of my other grandparents. But of butchers' paper and that big box of derwents, the aga stove and poddy lambs, that old white dodge ute, the weeping birch, the smell of lanoline and sheep sheds and woolly jumpers, ah me, I'm getting sentimental.

So the olds were away and my grandmother decided to show my brother and me the joy of horses. She put us on the last horse she ever broke in—a beautiful docile grey called MaryLegs (or was it MerryLegs?)—and led us up the driveway to the cattleramp and back, proud as punch, I'm sure. Then I started to sneeze. And sneeze again. And again. And rub my eyes. And wheeze. And go all red and puffy. And my nose ran. And my eyes ran. And I sneezed again. And breath came harder and harder. And she watched in horror, two hours drive from anything better then a six-room country hospital, fearing the worst.

Aghast with panic, she hauled me off and into the house and frantaclly ran a bath, the only solution she could think of. And so I was dunked repeatedly and vigourously, as only the rural can, to rid me of the nasty little mites that had caused the allergic reaction. Soaking, coughing, wheezing, I must have made quite a sight. After a hour or so sitting in this now tepid bath, I slowly began to return to something of my normal form. Cleansed.

To this day she still whinces in pain at the thought of that day: "I really thought I was going to have to explain to your parents that I'd killed you" she says.

I can't even feed a horse without having to vigourously scrub my hands thereafter, lest I go all allergicky again.

I love horse-racing. Luckily for me, it doesn't involve me actually touching any of the animal myself. I can even stand down-wind of one and, well, not exactly breathe the country air in deeply, but, well, I just stand down-wind of a horse. As a regular race-goer, I had never before been to a hurdles race. Never. Not once. They are not common events at most racetracks, hurdles or steeplechases, although there are certain carnivals that specialise in that sort of thing. The point being, I was desirous of attending some form of horse/jumping/ractrack event this year, a decision I made after the Autumn Carnival.

And then lo! An invitation lobbed into my mailbox, "The chairman and committee of the VRC invite skander and guest to join them at for lunch on Grand National Day, in the committee room at Flemington. Blah blah. Please ensure you arrive before 12:20 as the chairman will begin his welcome address at this time. Please also ensure your guest conforms to VRC dress standards." Or a close apporoximation of the above. What the invitation declined to make glaringly obvious was that at this luncheon was, in fact, 100%, you-beaut, fair dinkum laid on. Yep. Not a shilling would I have to shell (aside any wagers I cared to lay, of course).

We missed the speech, of course. But the buffet was something to write home about. Red fish, white fish, chicken, lamb cutlets (remember them?), fillet steak, roast beef, and salads galore. Start with a champers, red with the red meat, beer for the arvo and a quick spirit or too before heading off. Meanwhile there was a dessert buffet, with all manner o' tartes, sweetmeats (as opposed to sweetbreads) and cremes brulées, leter follwed by afternoon tea, with a whole new selection of savoury and sweet delights. A fine day was had by all, half of whom had grey hair, but the other half of us ran the gamut up from 30ish. I even knew three people there, which surprised me.

But the highlight of course was the sport. The day boasted only one jumping event, which was the Grand National pictured. And I had absolutely no luck. But that's not the pupose of a winter's day at Flemington.

The Coast:
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The beach on a cold windy day. What more do I need to say? It rocks. That's Phillip Island in the distance, the place all you tourists trek to for a glimpse of our fairy penguins. A once in a lifetime experience. As in, if you've done it once, there's no reason to ever do it again.

Nike Savvas at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art:
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Any Melbournian who hasn't stopped for 15 minutes at the ACCA in Sturt Street, South Melbourne: do so. Before the end of this weekend. The ACCA is that fuck-off new rust coloured building next to the Malthouse theatre. If you're driving past, or on a Number 1 tram, stop in and check this baby out. And awesome little room of whimsical digitalness which will leave you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Well worth it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Mulatto King

Care of The Independent
Prince Albert II was formally enthroned yesterday as the new ruler of the speck of gold dust on the French Mediterranean coast: His Serene Highness , Prince of Monaco, Duc de Valentinois, Duc de Mazarin, Comte de Farette, Sire de Matignon et de Marchais etc etc.

A week earlier, Albert, 47, the only son of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, formally recognised 22-month-old Alexandre Coste, the child of Nicole Coste, a former air hostess from Togo, as his son. In an interview with French television on Monday night, he said: "I know that there are other people out there who are in more or less the same situation ... "

What? Of mothering bastards to the Monegasque throne? To the Grimaldi fortune? Or to [cue lightning and thunderclap] the Curse?


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Foot of Clay

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A local anæsthetic and a lot of poking around with the sort of instruments one would see in David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers, and I am finally free of the irritant ingrown toenail I forged falling down the stairs last year. Hurrah! Not more periodic limping around (except for the next few days, that is)! No more visits to the podiatrist (except for the redressings, that is)!

I tend to have trouble with my feet. Most of the last round of injuries were all caused by that one late-night stair-slipping incident, where I rammed my big toe fairly and squarely, with a good 84 kilos behind it, straight into a brick wall at 3:00 in the morning sometime last September. Aside from the initial limping, and the spunky regional doctor telling me it was no use x-raying my foot as the treatment is the same for a broken toe as for a slightly injured toe, the pain disappeared quite quickly—a week or two. Since then it has resurfaced every few months in raging soreness, irritation, infection and disablement.

A few years before that, stumbling home with the flatties, like you do, we spotted a drain-grate that had been removed from the gutter due to roadworks. We all thought that looked like the world's best-ever found-object barbeque grill, and between the four of us, we hoiked the mother-fucker up and carried it a good 25 yards before the whole 7okg of cast-iron slipped from its surround and landed fair and square on the bridge of my foot. My favourite pair of motor bike boots and half a dozen stitches later, I have a lovely blueish knotted scar on the upper of my left foot, should anyone need to identify me after an earthquake or tsunami.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cool Britannia?

Oh well, it was a matter of time really. That tube system, as wonderful and exciting and intricate and efficient as it is to one who is could be classified as a public transport anorak, it was a sitting duck.

I was in London on Septmeber the 11th, 2001. Unemployed, I had just wandered up the road to buy some tickets from the local movie theatre (Moulin Rouge, actually) when the moby buzzed with instructions to put the telly on. Not telling me why, just put it on. That not being possible I aimlessly wandered the Clapham High Street, and have particular memories of being outside the Sainsbury's when I finally found out what was going on. An aeroplane had flown into the World Trade Center. A second hadn't yet. My informant had the radio on, and was listening, agape, to the unfiltered, uncensored news.

I made my way by tube to Tottenham Court Road, I can't remember why. I had some work to do, to get some work. Everyone was thinking "London is next". Indeed, they did evacuate the city. And there I was, standing in Tottenham Court Road as it started to rain. In the shop-windows in front of me were TVs, hundreds of TVs big n small, flatscreen and bedside, all playing the same scene, of that black woman running away from the site, covered in dust.

Strange how you just randomly bump into people in foreign cuntries. There was Kooky Vegetarian Ange reflected in the same window, peering at the same sights as me. "Haven't seen you for a fair while—still in London I see", "No, not since we randomly bumped into one another in that fish'n'chip shop in Herne Hill last year", "How's things?","Good. Feel like a drink?", "Sure, these are my mates..." and so it goes. Conversation over a handful of pints turned mostly on the "Chickens Coming Home to Roost" theory, the 'with a history of foreign policy like theirs they have to expect some retribution at some stage' theory that a day or two later became something whispered in dark corners between like-minded people.

As did the radio news of the flight being shot down over Pennsylvania (to be replaced with a story about "let's roll" valiance), and of more 'planes coming from North Africa and Korea (WTF?).

But that was it. City workers got half a day off, and everything pretty much stayed the same, Tancredi. There was the hysterical talk of "the Tube, the Tube", but there's always been that.

And so it was. And so it shall be.

And what timing! And, in my opinion, spectacularly low success rate. They did a much better job in Madrid, if it was them. I'd thought, if someone attacked the tube, the deaths would be in the hundreds, if not thousands, and the casualties ten times that. That warren of tunnels underneath the old dart was more resilient than I thought.

Nonetheless, a death is a death is a death.

Don't mention the war, eh Tony?

Anyway, to keep the mood light and airy, have a listen to this little instrumental number, and we can all move off to that happy place where ethnic stereotypes were ripe for plunder, the French are all saucy, the Swedes serious, and there are hilarious misunderstandings that follow the mistaking of the Chinaman for a Japanese!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


This is creepy. Fascinatingly so.
Much more so than the Toady and Connor bikini shop storyline of the same name.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Tony Jones, I covet thy job

So, last night, I'm watching Lateline, as is my want.

Big Kim and his rabble are having a go over our lack of troops in Afghanistan. They were withdrawn sometime ago, it seems. Now, this, in the same week as Mark Latham is spraying his spleen all across the nation, reminding every columnist in the country of his "Troops out by Christmas" call. There is hardly a columnist around who hasn't labelled that call daft, usually because they think that, despite the majority of this country opposing an unprovoked invasion of a distant, sovereign nation, the Australian public believe that once we're doing something, we want to stay "until the job is done" whatever that means, weasel-man. Basically it means not admitting your mistakes, as far as I am concerned. The line ran that the Australian public is too 'nuanced' (fuck off) to go for a simple line like "Troops out by Christmas"—you know, give us some respec' here—but not 'nuanced' (fuck off) enough to be able to untangle Johnny's lies, and instead kinda shrug and say, well, we're there now, Georgie-Boy needs us, so we'd better stay, because he will give us special yankee treats (read: scraps from the G8 table, like dodgy trade liberalisation pacts).

Anyway, on one side we've got Latho's "Troops out by Christmas" and on the other side we have Beaze's "More troops for Afghanistan", which, as Dolly Downer said last night, doesn't make any sense. No matter how much they try to deny it, it's a fuck up of a foreign policy, whatever their policy actually is. And I don't blame the Ol' Ruddmeister for it.

So here's the line that I think is 'nuanced' (fuck off) enough to make sense to any old bastard in the street, without dazzling them with conditional Howardisms, or offending Big Brother: Australia will support and contribute to operations conducted under the UN umbrella, no matter who is the commander—US, Australia, France, Russia, whoever. But will not contribute toor support private "coalition" missions à la GWB's latest fancies. Now that's not too hard to understand is it?

Tony Jones, I covet thy job.

As a post script: on AM this morning, I hear that some ex-servicemen have fingered the new Iranian President, one Mahdi Ahmadinejad, as a ringleader in the 1979 US embassy siege in Tehran. It has all begun again.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thursday early arvo

I am at a complete loss today. So, a stolen meme:

Listening to: Club 8, Strangely Beautiful
Wearing: Carhartt daks, Kronstadt top, Merrell shoes, M&S socks, n a pair of Rio underwear my mother gave me the morning I took these photos. Aint mums grand?
Fragrance: L'eau par Kenzo pour homme (I had to look for a visual cue. Bad metrosexual.)
Nails: N/A
Drinking: Moccona: snow white, two dwarves, from the tea room.
Eating: "ham, brie, seeded mustard and leaf pide" from the café round the corner.
Dreaming: of not crunching these sales stats anymore (moi? sales stats? never!) , and of January 2006.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Not that he deserves any more column inches...

"Before I was a Scientologist, I never agreed with psychiatry," Cruise said. "And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in psychology. ... And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science." Tom Cruise, care of Reuters.
Studying psychiatry will help you understand psychology? Just like studying astrology will help you understand astronomy. Go somewhere and die please.

Which is what the American version of The Office has done. There is a god!

Oh, and while I'm on the teev: as soon as I saw the magnanimous reprieve Kate gave Christie on BB05, I was sure we'd be seeing the back end of Glenn. As sure as the day is long. Until I read about what Dean and Logan have done, that is. Ugh.

But slightly more upbeat(ish), Four Corners on the Nelson reforms last night was a very interesting program. Much more so than the tripe on 7. The systematic gutting of our proud publicly-funded traditions in this country by the Howard Government turns my stomach as much as the above article did.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mamma Mia!

Gotta love the Italians. If only we in this country were less apathetic, we might do something like this.

Er hat ein mund bei ein katzen assloch

An old schoolmate of mine texted me at about 1am on Sunday:
«Ins Österreich heute.»
Yep, he used the umlaut—we did three years of German together. Him having mentioned going to Vienna for the weekend for a date (a date!), I replied:
«Sehr gut. Wie geht es mit dein konduktor?»
«Jetzt sehe ich Rage auf der tele.»
Excuse any faulty German syntax. I have hardly used it since 1989. The conversation continued...
«I will be in a box next to the orchestra pit»
«Lucky you! Enjoy!»
After which I resumed devoting my full attention to Tori Amos and her Rage selections. Which I must praise. Seminal video clips like Aha's "Take on me", Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" (remember that?) and the Bjõrk/Spike Jonze take on Singing in the Rain for "It's oh so quiet" that I hadn't seen for years. And that was just a brief selection which she chose because she liked the clips themselves.
«Is attempting to bust up a loveless 7 yr relationship morally wrong?»
«Not if he's worth it. Not unless less you're doing it just for sport. Hang on, haven't you two been together before?»
«Are you serious about him?»
«I would like to be—he lives in Berlin»
«Where does he stand on you?»
«Not sure—the sex seems to work»
«Go for it. Blow his mind. Do your darndest. And on that note I'n going to put my sleepy antipodian head to bed. I wish you all the best on your mission.»
It wasn't until about 3:46am this morning that I received the next message.
«Oh Vienna! Went well!»
I don't know where that puts the loveless seven year relationship, but it sounds like my old mate had a good time, and the plan is on track. He does seem to like doomed trans-continental relationships, but he also likes Berlin, and German-speakers. Funny for a jewish boy, no?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. Yo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I have fallen in love twice this week.

I have read this comment of Ruth's over at Jess's Lefty Tim to Win campaign repeatedly, everyday this week. And I still chuckle, still, even now. I heart it:

I’m certainly not delving into the Behind BB live feed archives to find the exact wording, but one night the boys were teasing [Lefty Tim] about being a geek, and he said, “I’d never get called a geek in the outside world. I was smoking cones before any of you had even tasted beer.” To which one of the Logans smarmed, “Smoking dope doesn’t make you cool.” Lefty Tim replied, “Yes it does”.

It’s funny because it’s true.

And because those Logans are both fucksticks. Who don't or can't open their mouths properly when they speak. Just like Kane from Home and Away.

But Ruth's live-feed observation has been replaced in my fickle heart (already! Ah me!), by Jess' chronicling of the Bogart and Bacall love story for the ages, Romance: 21st Century Stylee. Not a more beautiful and honest tale has been told since Lang and Rose:

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My heart beats as one with Ausculture. It was this post what did it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Conversations with Taxi Drivers #467

Our brief exchange went something like this:
"Holy Shit!"
On Saturday night I opened the door to get out of a taxi. And it was promptly taken off by a passing tram.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Grammar Nazi

I hear these two all the bloody time:

"There are incidences of this sort of anti-social behaviour occurring all the time." It's incidents not incidences.
"I'm obligated to do visit my parent in the nursing home." No the fuck you're not, you're obliged to do it, and it is an obligation to visit them, but you are not obligated to do it. Or anything else for that matter.

I think I'm fighting a losing war on the second one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New Neighbour

Back posted from Spy2, The Sunday Age, June 19, 2005.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

When you've finished the Da Vinci Code...

I got hit up for a recommendation of something to read today. Initially blank, as I'm spending waaay too much time pinging between an epic RPG and a children's book at the mo', it got me thinking. At my last workplace, the beer-sodden Friday night conversation would often turn to books once the backstabbing and breaches of confidence had been exhausted. My new one is all about AV: it's what's on TV, what's on DVD, what on at the cinema. It's also younger. And there's less drinking (and less beeyotching too). What does this say about the youth of today?

So Dawei, a handful of books, fiction being my bag:
I have to draw a line somewhere. So consider it drawn.

Scratch that. If you like Could Atlas, check out If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. Postmodernity in type. I'm feeling weak at the knees jus' thinking about it.

And finally The Periodic Table by Primo Levi. Existential chemistry from a man who threw himself down a set of stairs.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Cardinal Puff has his first drink for the evening

After a heated conversation I had last night, what are everyone's ideas of an acceptible level of alcohol consumption?

I had always thought that a glass or two of wine each day was acceptible, so let's say that's equal to a couple of beers, or a shared bottle of wine over dinner. And then let's throw in one, maybe even two, proper nights on the piss a week, not falling over drunk but a good solid Friday night session sorta thing, a few laughs and the like, maybe a mild hangover, and a dry day. I was told that this was the position of an alcoholic. My response was, predictably, that according to most of those sort of labels, everyone I know is an alcoholic because the common definition is some sort of prudish Seppo self-help-book definition of consumption of more than two glasses of elderberry-wine three times a week is 'alocohol addiction'.

What do fellow residents of the blog-o-sphere think?

And while we're at it, where do you stand on the regularlity of recreation drug use? Or a healthy level of exercise?

Monday, June 06, 2005


I get excited by things like this.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Old Glory

I am ashamed. This is not the Australia I grew up in, not the open, tolerant, enthusiastic, outward-looking, well-liked Australia, Paul Keating's Australia. This is Pauline Hanson's Australia, John Howard's Australia, bigotted, jingoistic, mean-spirited and small-minded. Yes, John, I blame YOU. Personally.

Last Saturday, The SMH's Alan Ramsey wrote about the various ways we are all dealing with the changes that have been wrought over the past 10 years, in the name of fashioning "John Howard's Australia":
[Social Researcher Hugh] Mackay thinks he sees "three emerging responses" to ... John Howard's Australia.

"First, there is increasing talk about the need to 'restore balance', to 'get my life under control', to 'live the way I want to live'. This quiet revolution will be led by women, who are increasingly reaching levels of authority and influence in business and the professions and, looking around them, are concluding that 'this is no way to live'.

"The second trend is less attractive.

"It is heard in the growing voice of those who are not saying, 'I want to get my life under control', but 'I want to get your life under control'. This is the voice of regulation.

"These are the religious, social and cultural fundamentalists - the people who want to see tougher sentencing, more censorship, more laws to control everything that moves. That is their answer to the instability and uncertainty of contemporary life - 'if only we had more rules and regulations' to restore our sense of security.

"The third signpost comes from the rising generation of Australians, who are showing us how to make sense of life in an uncertain world. Having never known anything but an accelerating rate of change and an unpredictable future, they have developed three strategies for coping: keep your options open, as a way of incorporating 'realistic uncertainty'; a spiritual framework is leading them to explore post-material values; and they have become our most tribal generation, having realised the most precious resource for coping with an uncertain world is each other."

Mackay concluded: "It is hard to be confident, but the emerging culture may be the best news we've had for a long time. Good for individuals who need the security of the herd, good for nuclear families who will not be under the same pressure to satisfy the herd instinct, good for communities as people move out to find new and creative ways of connecting."

Mr Howard, recognise yourself in the second of these categories? You should. You have nutured them and given them succour—and now we as a nation are reaping as you have sowed.

Give me the honest and honourable Australia of Malcolm Fraser, of Bill Dean, of Gareth Evans any day. The Australia of sunburnt faces and eyes squinting into the sun, of "she'll be right, mate" and "go for your life", of dust and heat and salt on my skin, of the click-click-click of sprinklers, the bang of wire-doors and the 6 pips marking the hour followed by the ABC news theme , of vernadahs and lemon trees and bowls of roses; of dim-sims and souvlakis, of red curry duck and mozzarella di buffala and roast lamb with home-made mint sauce; of beer and wine and gins and tonic; and the smells of lanolin and eucalyptus and sausage fat and freshly cut grass; of people who are interested in difference, who want to see the world, be a part of the world, and accept the world as it is, as different and intriguing and instructive, not mould it into a palimpsest of a picket fence and separationist tea party, some veneer of civility covering a dark, prejudiced, jealous heart. Bah!