Sunday, April 29, 2007


Over the weekend I did an audit of my liquor cabinet, as I’ve been noticing a decline in the variety of cocktails I am able to make with the booze I have on hand. The more popular liqueurs, like Cointreau, have slowly been used up, leaving the less popular liqueurs, like Black Sambuca*, clustered on the shelves, like the most socially maladjusted guests at a party who end up in a quiet corner talking about their favourite World of Warcraft moves.

Once I identified what I had, I went through my Big Book of Cocktails to identify the most common liqueurs I was missing. I made a list, and, since the local Liquor Land was having a sale, I popped up there to see what I could find.

I ended up with eight bottles, 75% of which were embarrassing. All the other men in the store were buying bottles of red wine or bourbon or crates of beer… and I was tripping around the store with Midori in one hand and blue curacao in the other. I got the feeling that maybe I was in the wrong part of town for cocktail ingredients:

Me: Excuse me, do you have any Campari?

Salesman: Campari? What’s that?

Me: You’ve never heard of Campari?

Salesman: No. Have you looked on the shelves? (goes over to the liqueur section and stares at a shelf of scotches).

Me: It’s bitter, it’s Italian, and it’s a liqueur.

Salesman: Uh huh. (moves along to the clear spirits).

Me: And it’s red.

Saleman: I see (moves along to the coffee liqueurs).

Me: Uh… never mind.

Even with half of the things I bought being on sale, the total for eight bottles (vodka, whisky, blue curacao, triple sec, cherry brandy liqueur, coconut rum, Midori and Cointreau) was $180, which is about quadruple what I’d normally spend at the bottleshop. But at least I knew that I finally had a liquor cabinet capable of generating any cocktail I could desire.

So when I got home I opened up my Big Book of Cocktails to make myself a drink, and I discovered that I still didn’t have any Frangelico… or ouzo… or advocaat… or banana liqueur…


Eventually, after looking through twenty pages or so, I discovered something I could make:


30ml gin
15ml dry vermouth
15ml melon liqueur
7ml blue curacao

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a glass, then pour the blue curacao down the side so that it forms a separate layer. The drink is nothing short of gorgeous: a subtle shade of green with a smear of bright blue across the bottom of the glass where the curacao has settled. It doesn’t taste too bad either.

So now my liquor cabinet looks something like this:

Light Rum
Dark Rum
Coconut Rum
Triple Sec
Black Sambuca
White Sambuca
Tia Maria
Red Vermouth
White Vermouth
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Crème de Menthe
Almond Cordial
Lime Cordial
Angostura Bitters
Cherry Brandy Liqueur
Blue Curacao

You may think that this makes me an alcoholic. I say show me an alcoholic with 26 bottles of booze that he hasn’t drunk in his liquor cabinet.

*An aniseed-flavoured liqueur so overwhelming that you only need a few drops to flavour a drink. Of course I have two bottles.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Roger Corman’s existence is a mixed blessing on the human race. On the downside, he made some of the cheapest, stupidest, most ridiculous movies ever committed to film. On the upside, however, he made some of the cheapest, stupidest, most ridiculous movies ever committed to film. Mystery Science Theater 3000 could never have existed without him.

In addition, few men can boast that they invented an entire subgenre of film, especially one which has provided countless men with innumerable hours of shameful, pervy enjoyment. I speak, of course, of the Women in Prison movies.

Naturally films about women in prison had existed long before Roger Corman popped his reprehensible little head up. But none of them had properly appreciated the potential for exploitation that this niche genre could provide. They foolishly expended precious celluloid on character development and reasonable narrative coherence, whereas Roger said to himself, “Hmmm… they’re women, and they’re in prison. There are no men and they have a lot of free time on their hands. Where can we go with this?”

The best thing about his ground-breaking 1971 production ‘The Big Doll House’ is that it could include all the classic Women in Prison clichés without self-consciousness, because they weren’t clichés yet. There was no need to be embarrassed about it because this was all fresh, new, and so delightfully low.

Do we have a sadistic lesbian prison warden? Check. Do we have a sadistic lesbian prison governor? Check. Do we have a tough lesbian inmate with a heart of gold? Check… and she was played by Pam Grier, thus covering blaxploitation and sexploitation in a single character - there’s Roger’s famous budget-consciousness for you.

Do we have a soft core shower scene? Check. Does one woman ask another “Could you soap my back, please?” in a husky voice? Check. Do we have everybody, from the guards to the inmates to people who just happen to be wandering past the prison wearing light, flimsy minidresses? Check. Do we have every single female character sporting long, lustrous hair, as if this prison were home to an international gang of Pantene thieves? Check.

But Roger was all about pushing the envelope, and he also managed to include something that no one else could have worked into a Women in Prison movie: a hot girl-on-girl mud wrestling scene. The naïve reader may be demanding, “What? How? How do you have mud wrestling in a prison? Where would the mud even come from?” Such a reader simply underestimates both the magnitude of Roger Corman’s genius and the lengths to which the average man will suspend disbelief in order to witness Pam Grier and Roberta Collins fighting in mud while not wearing bras.


Roger Corman, we salute you. This more than makes up for 1959’s ‘Attack of the Giant Leeches’.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Yesterday was the Anzac Day public holiday, a time for Australians to remember those in the military who have sacrificied themselves for their country. And most of us did that, the same way we commemorate all public holidays: through home renovation! I'm sure the ghosts of all our fallen soldiers are proud to know that on their memorial day, the majority of their decendents spend the daylight hours putting up new pergolas or painting their spare rooms.

For myself, I picked up some old railway sleepers that a friend of a friend was throwing out, and used them to tidy up the narrow strip of earth just outside my garden wall.

front wall before

Before: a messy wasteland and the Shame of the Neighbourhood.

front wall after

After: neat, tidy and as anal-retentive as any OCD sufferer could wish.

The Car Formerly Known As My Parents' WRX came in very handy for this project. My parents told me not to damage it, but they didn't say anything about not using it to transport six two-metre-long jarrah railway sleepers across three suburbs. The weight pushed the rear suspension so far down that the tyres were almost touching the wheel arches, but since nothing actually broke, it doesn't count. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


"Hello? Carpal Tunnel Hotline? I'm trapped in something of a vicious circle..."


Yesterday my parents traded in their '99 Subaru WRX for an '06 Subaru Liberty GT turbo. Since the Liberty is having a few optional extras installed and won't be ready for a week, they've kept the WRX as a sort of loaner. Or rather I've kept it, since they flew out for a holiday in Sydney last night.

As I dropped them off at the airport, my father said to me, "Have fun driving the WRX, and don't worry about cleaning it or refuelling it before giving it back, because it'll be going straight to the car yard. But whatever you do, just don't damage it, since it's not technically ours anymore."

No problemo, I said.

However it seems I was wrong. There is a problemo. Ever since they sold the car, every other motorist on the road has been trying to destroy it!

This morning on the freeway, a ditz in a Hyundai, who'd driven across the length of the Narrows Bridge straddling two lanes for no apparent reason, suddenly decided that she wanted to use the Mounts Bay Road exit. So she indicated left and waited for someone to let her across. Unfortunately, she did this at the exact point where the offramp and the freeway parted company, so "waiting" meant "stopping". On the freeway. During rush hour.

To make matters worse, the car ahead of me was a student on P plates, so of course he panicked and slammed on his brakes, thinking that she was about to bolt into his path like an brainless, excitable dog. I had to brake so hard that everything loose in the cabin flew up and pummelled the dashboard. I missed him by mere inches.

Then, of course, the Hyundai driver paused some more. You could almost see the thought bubbles; "Oh, are you letting me in? Are you sure? It's not too much trouble? Oh, alright then. Now, wait, I've forgotten... which pedal makes the car go forward?"

Eventually she made her move, and her own little traffic jam slowly dispersed. I spent the rest of my journey to my office wondering if those Islamic countries that don't allow women to drive might be onto something.

But that's not fair - bad driving knows no gender, as I discovered in the office car park. I pulled in behind a late model Volkswagen and drove behind him for a hundred metres or so, until we reached a dead end in the carpark with no empty bays. He threw his car into reverse and started to back up. I put the WRX into reverse, but as I started to ease off the clutch I realised that he wasn't carefully creeping back - he was coming backwards at speed. The dipwad hadn't checked his rear mirror before reversing.

He'll see me any second now, I thought, as I started to reverse. But he was still coming backwards, and he was gaining on me. Just before I was forced to back into a line of parked cars, I blasted my horn, and he finally noticed that, well, what do you know, there are other people driving their cars in this car park today!

Happily, as we both backed out, I discovered the last empty space in the car park and pulled into it. Take that, sucker! Frankly, I think that this little piece of karmic sweetener was the only reason I didn't go postal and chase after him to hurl a brick through his expensive German windshield.

Now, of course, I'm worried about what will happen on the way home tonight. A confused pensioner in a Toyota Crown driving the wrong way around a roundabout? A removalists' truck disgorging someone's living room furniture into my path? Or just another BRAIN-DEAD TROLL TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT WHO THEY'LL VOTE FOR ON 'BIG BROTHER' TO CONCENTRATE ON THE INTRICACIES OF NOT DRIVING A TON OF METAL INTO OTHER MOVING OBJECTS!

Only time will tell.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Rejoice, warriors and wenches! For The Eye of Argon, the undisputed worst piece of fantasy fanfiction ever, is now available to read in its wretched entirety on the internet. Read it or kiss the fleeting stead of death!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I’ve been feeling down lately. It’s not unexpected – my disposition tends to swing like a monkey hanging from a tram strap on a particularly hilly route – but it’s always unwelcome. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve just been coming home from work, stuffing my face with whatever food comes to hand, then vegetating in front of the TV till bedtime.

However, a few things happened today that have momentarily brightened my mood.

1. I bought six new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 over the internet, and, thanks to the Australian dollar being at a 13 year high against the American dollar, they cost me 5% less than they would have last week.

2. For the first time in a while I got on my exercise bike this evening and cycled for half an hour (and around 13km), listening to random songs on my Shuffle as I did so. It felt good. When I got off I felt so refreshed that I did a little grooving dance around my bedroom to Regurgitator’s ‘Feels Alright’. I dance like a marionette that got stuck halfway into the transformation into a Real Boy, so the fact that I did it anyway is a clear sign of how good I felt.

3. I drove up to the supermarket tonight to get my weekly groceries. I parked, opened my door, put my foot out and stepped on a piece of scrap paper that looked momentarily like a $50 bill. Then it continued to look like a $50 bill, since that’s what it was. I picked it up and looked around, but there was nobody in the vicinity. It must have belonged to whoever parked their car in the space before me.

I feel really bad for whoever lost it… but in the words of Grandpa Simpson, frankly, I can see an up side! It more than pays for my new MST3Ks, with enough left over for a coffee of skin-shivering, bone-rattling, cancer-causing dimensions at Exomod.


There is something deeply wrong with the United Kingdom, and I suspect that it is only tattered remnants of that famous British stubbornness that has prevented them from slipping into Third World chaos. But even that can't keep them going too much longer. Their blend of self-righteousness, civilisational ennui and politically correct bondage is slowly strangling them.

Exhibit A: The British police, who seem to function under the illusion that unless a criminal wants to go to one of their cells, the police really can't force him. Apparently they are so exquisitely sensitive and saturated in moral equivalence that it doesn't occur to them to do something as judgemental and presumptuous as arresting chavs.

Exhibit B: The Royal Navy, which gives the impression that rum, sodomy and the lash would be a step up for most of its members. At least these things might toughen them up a bit, so that they showed just a skerrick of resistance to being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's buttmonkeys.

Exhibit C: The staff at the BBC, who have all the objective investigational skill of Teletubbies. Their coverage of the massacre at Virginia Tech has gone something like this:

"Thirty two people were killed at Virginia Tech today by a lone gunman. While this tragedy has shocked the nation, it is unlikely to result in any changes to their lax gun laws, since Americans are nasty, hateful brutes who wouldn't know civilised behaviour if it crawled up their arses and died."

Call me naive, but I think that a mere twelve hours after the actual massacre was perhaps a little early to be making pronouncements about the nature of America's long-term reaction to it... especially since at that stage they hadn't identified the shooter, or all the victims, or even connected the two crime scenes. The whole tragedy was played as an excuse to editorialise, rather than a event to be reported.

Exhibit D: Jade Goodey, who makes Anna Nicole Smith look like Grace Kelly.



Early suicide bombers got rather bored as they waited for someone to hurry up and invent Semtex.

Friday, April 13, 2007


If I were this baby, I'd be happy too.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


A few days ago I held a little Festival of Bad Cinema and watched the 1973 horror "classic" 'Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural'.

Or as I prefer to call it, 'Lemora: A Journey into No-Budget Filmmaking'. Or possibly 'Lemora: A Triumph of Ambition Over Ability'.

Lila Lee, our heroine, is a pretty thirteen year old blonde on the cusp of young womanhood. Her father recently murdered his wife and her lover then went on the lam, leaving her in the care of the local minister. She has no idea what's happened to him, until she receives a mysterious letter from someone called Lemora, telling her that he's gravely ill and wants to see her.

lila lee

She's young and innocent, which explains how she's suckered by such an obvious ruse. So once night falls, she's out the window and off to seek out her father.

We're not told where Lila Lee lives, but I suspect that it might be inside Colin Farrell's head. There's a brothel, a bar and not much else, and nobody does anything but fight and leer. Lila Lee manages to avoid getting into any fights, ignores the near perpetual leering, and gets on a bus bound for the village in which her father is staying.

The bus grinds off into the night... or at least, that's what we're told. In fact, once we've had some establishing shots of the bus on a dark country road, the rest of the scenes are filmed on a stationary bus on a blacked-out sound stage, with the actors pretending that they're out on the open road. To add to the illusion of movement, the director has stage hands lying on the floor, holding large branches and occasionally swishing them past the windows. Unfortunately, since they're just as stationary as the bus, the branches swoop in shallow arcs past one or two windows, rather than down the length of the vehicle. Thus instead of seeing two people on a journey into terror, we can't help but have the impression that we're seeing two idiots arguing on a parked bus while half-wits wave branches at the windows.

Frankly, it doesn't help the mood.

Eventually the bus breaks down, the driver gets out to check the engine, and is dragged off by mutant vampire werewolf zombie dudes. Well, these things happen. Lila Lee takes the handbrake off and manages to coast down towards the village for a bit, but then crashes into the first tree that isn't being waved about by a stage hand.

When she regains consciousness, she's in an outbuilding on the grounds of a grand house. Here she is badgered by a demented old servant woman, taunted by feral children, and tantalised by glimpses through the window of a regal silhouette on the porch of the house.

Escaping from the clutches of a demented old servant woman is about as easy as you'd expect (ie very), and soon Lila Lee is hiding under the floorboards of the house, listening to another woman discussing something with a man she recognises as her father. Throwing caution to the wind, she rushes inside to find him. It is then that she first encounters... Lemora.


You know, usually, when one wants to portray a seductive lady vampire, one gets one's casting agent to compile a list of actresses with charisma and exotic good looks, then one auditions them, picks the best, and uses make-up and costuming to complete her transformation into a sexy Queen of the Undead. But that is not the Lemora way. The Lemora way is to just get Lesley Gilb, who looks like Henry Silva in a wig, to play the part. Apparently getting all the characters to assert that Lemora is beautiful is more effective than just hiring an attractive actress. Who knew?

It turns out that Lemora has been fanging up a storm, trying to create a veritable vampire army to do whatever it is that she wants done (possibly yard work - it's a big property). However lately her victims have been turning into mutant vampire werewolf zombie dudes rather than vampires, and they're starting to threaten her little empire. She needs an innocent virgin like Lila Lee to boost her power. I couldn't work out exactly how, but it's one of those movies that prefers you refrain from such analysis and just take their word for it.

Meanwhile the minister who was caring for Lila Lee has come looking for her. He arrives at the village only to find the entire population lying dead in the streets. He immediately leaps back into his car and hightails it to the nearest town, where he alerts the police, the government, the National Guard, the Center for Disease Control, and...

Oh, wait, no. Sorry, that's just what a sane person would have done. The reverend prefers to wander around the corpse-strewn streets hollering Lila Lee's name, thus attracting the attention of any unpleasant things that happen to be lurking in the shadows. Obviously the man hasn't played enough Doom III.

Somehow he doesn't get eaten by either a vampire or a mutant vampire werewolf zombie dude, instead being captured by Lemora's minions, rendered unconscious, and placed in a barn. When he wakes up, he finds Lila Lee lying next to him. She smothers him with kisses, and, after briefly resisting, he returns her passion, since he's been repressing his feelings for her for some time. Sadly, his ardour lasts only lasts for a moment, before Lila Lee opens her mouth and bears down on him with bits of folded sticky tape over her incisors.

Wait... what? Those folded bits of sticky tape were supposed to be fangs? So she was a vampire? Ah, suddenly the ending of this film makes a lot more sense. Here I was thinking that she'd just chewed her way out of sticky tape bindings or something.

Criticising Lemora to the extent that it deserves would seriously deplete the world's reserves of sarcasm and snark. However, there is a considerable amount of actual praise for it on the internet. Ooh, the camera angles, they gush. Ooh, the framing techniques are so Bava-ian! Ooh, the transgressive lesbian subtexts came in a good fifteen years before Anne Rice ruined both vampirism and lesbianism for everyone! Ooh, we swoon at its experimental brilliance!

Well to HELL with camera angles and lesbianism, I say! It's not a "stunning masterpiece" of independent horror if it doesn't make any sense! Or scare the audience! I've eaten toast that was scarier than 'Lemora'! And edited better! GAAAHHH!

Oh well. Still, to be fair, there were some good things about 'Lemora'. John Agar wasn't in it. That alone means a lot.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


flying man (detail)

Robert Whitson

Purchased in a framing shop in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, January 1994.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Friday, April 06, 2007


bromiliad flower 1

bromiliad flower 2

Each flower head is about as big as my fist, if you were wondering about scale.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Am I overthinking the oddness of this?

While looking up the correct spelling of 'merengue' for my Fun Facts About Kim Jong Il post, I came across the blog of Marin Guy in California. He proved to be a talented and expressive writer, not to mention far cooler than me, and once I'd read a few posts and burned off a few kilos of jealousy, I wondered if any of his links were worth reading too. I clicked on the first one; Internal Monoblog. Looking through her links, I noticed Pink Lemonade Diva. I recognised the name, but I couldn't remember from where, so I clicked on it. In her blogroll I found Digital Retrograde, which is written by my Minnesotan blogbuddy Eric.

So, from the randomly encountered Marin Guy to Internal Monoblog to Pink Lemonade Diva to Digital Retrograde to Get on the Blandwagon! - I think that constitutes four degrees of separation. Out of the millions of blogs in the world, what are the chances of my randomly surfing onto one with links that would lead me back to myself in four easy steps?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I spent last night uploading part of my CD collection onto my computer, and making an iTunes playlist called "Overwrought Classics". So far it contains the William Tell Overture, the 1812 Overture, Ravel's La Valse, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Danse Macabre, the Dies Irae from Mozart's Requiem and, of course, O Fortuna.

I have two versions of O Fortuna on CD, and unfortunately neither of them is overwrought enough. O Fortuna needs to be performed with a hint of hysteria, as if the chorus members have suddenly noticed cracks appearing in the concert hall ceiling and they've realised that there's a chance of it collapsing on them. And the finale needs to be especially chaotic, exploding out like a Big Bang of voice, strings and percussion. My two versions are far too calm and mannered.

Suggestions for additions to "Overwrought Classics" will be gratefully received in comments. Ideally the music should incorporate explosions.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Fun Facts About Kim Jong Il!

kim and the hitchhiker

Kim Jong Il Fun Fact #23 - Kim Jong Il only gives rides to hitchhikers who match his upholstery!

Kim and the elbows

Kim Jong Il Fun Fact #47A & B - Kim Jong Il has increased productivity by forty-two percent by banning all elbows! He also plans to destroy the world with giant barbed penis launchers!

kim and his heart

Kim Jong Il Fun Fact #82 - Unlike ordinary mortals, Kim Jong Il's heart has a merengue beat!

kim and the boy scouts

Kim Jong Il Fun Fact #106 - In his youth Kim Jong Il led the only Boy Scout troop ever to develop nuclear capabilities!

kim and team america

Kim Jong Il Fun Fact #209 - Kim Jong Il was the only character in 'Team America' to play himself!


My weekend, as expressed in problems and solutions:

Problem: Some of the plants in my garden are struggling, since they’re not getting enough water.

Solution: Install more sprinkler heads in the reticulation system.

Problem: Different plants are struggling, since there are so many sprinkler heads that the water pressure isn’t strong enough to make them work properly.

Solution: Close off sprinkler heads in the reticulation system.

Problem: My heads hurts after I repeatedly banged it against the wall in frustration.

Solution: Concrete over the yard.