Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I don't remember why, but the other day I had a little flash of recollection about the Doctor Whos of the 1970s. It was, I'm sure you'll agree, a golden age. The 70s started with John Pertwee playing The Doctor as an impatient dandy, all stern lectures and velvet smoking jackets, and ended with the great Tom Baker playing him as an avuncular eccentric, spontaneous and absent-minded. But what they had in common was that both Doctors possessed wisdom and gravitas, lightened with the occasional jellybaby.

Then, as I considered the Russell Davies-driven reboot of the franchise, I wondered, "Who are all these frenetic spotty youths carrying the title in the current episodes?" The wisdom and gravitas has been replaced with ADHD-inflected pseudo-messianic nonsense.

The most recent episodes are like some manifestation of Jim Carrey's id; all frantic limbs, booming music and dialogue that sounds like someone fired it out of a blunderbuss. I find myself longing for Tom Baker to sidle up to some deranged alien invader, pleasantly offer him a jellybaby, then escape from certain doom in a billow of tweed and scarf.

I suggest that when The Doctor next regenerates, instead of making him female, or gay, or black, or any combination thereof, as the uber-PC BBC probably feels constrained to do, turn him back into a cranky old white male. Let him provide the brains while the companions provide the muscle. Imagine how paradigm-busting it would be if, instead of yet another aimless disaffected yoof who needs The Doctor to lift them out of their dull, miserable life, we had a companion who was a tough, capable SAS soldier? Or a Dana Scully-style cynical government agent? Heck, even a successful journalist like Sarah-Jane Smith would be a step up from the semi-employed slobs who've been cluttering up the TARDIS of late.

We've had five seasons so New Doctor Who so far. Perhaps it's time to reboot the reboot?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The first thing I saw when I got home last night:

Either the neighbour's children have been re-enacting the World Cup with a little too much gusto, or my goldfish have taken up volleyball.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Me: If you've got time and you're near a supermarket tomorrow, could you get a couple of new lightbulbs for the kitchen?

The Flatmate: What's happened to the old ones?

Me: What do you mean, what happened? Your girlfriend went into the kitchen, she flicked the switch and one of them blew.

The Flatmate: She didn't mention it.

Me: Of course she didn't mention it - you were standing next to her at the time!

The Flatmate: Really?

Me: Yes!

The Flatmate: I don't notice these things. And I doubt I'll remember to get new lightbulbs. In fact I'll probably deny this conversation ever took place.

Me: Whatever. I'll leave the old bulb on the kitchen counter so you know what size and wattage it is.

The Flatmate: I still probably won't notice.

Me: How about if I add neon-coloured arrows pointing at it?

The Flatmate: That might help. But I wouldn't count on it.

Hence, later that evening...

The amazing thing is that it actually worked.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


While I was in the country last week I picked up a local newspaper. Normally I would have glanced through it, shuddered, concluded that I'd made the right decision in choosing to live in the city, and then set the thing on fire. However this time I came upon a Baby of the Year competition halfway through, and I was instantly struck by the sociological implications of the entrants' names.

The two primary trends in rural baby nomenclature, or at least in the baby nomenclature of the sort of people who enter their offspring in Baby of the Year contests, can be summed up as a) "The Celebrity Influence" and b) "Phonetics for Dummies".

The most popular name for the next generation is Jack, with four instances (five if you include Jackson). Equal on three is Madison (or its phonetic equivalents) and Charles (or its dimunitives). On two each come Matilda, Layla, Summer, Joshua, Ruby, Charlize (gaaah!) and Storm. It's worth noting that both of the Storms are girls.

Regarding the celebrity influence, we can't know how many of the Jacks were named after Jack Bauer, Jack Johnson, or, heaven help them, Jack Daniels. But it's a fair bet that the mothers of the Summers were big Sarah Connor Chronicles fans, and that the Charlizes were named after an actress whose current career highlight is playing a lesbian serial killer.

The most troubling of these is a little one named Syarra, given that the only other Syarra that the internet mentions is a porn star.

However the larger trend in baby names is the triumph of phonemes over tradition, or as I like to call it, "You can't tell ME how to spell MY baby's name!"

So overwhelming is this trend that it can be broken down into three consistent internal streams. They are:

1. Needs more 'Y's

Chayse, Madilyn, Katelyn, Jayde, Alexys, Mikayla/Makayla and, proving that there is no phonetic barrier impervious to a determined bogan, Daemyn.

2. Needs fewer 'Y's

Kodi, Rilee, Bailee, Hailee and Shelbie. I hoped for a Banshee, but was disappointed.

3. Can't be twisted to either include or disclude a 'Y', but we're gonna torture the hell out of it anyway

Hana, Kertis, Jorgia/Jorja and Isibella/Izabellah. If any woman ever names her daughter Izzahbelluh Jorjah, she will be as a queen to these people.

Somewhere in this hurricane of novelty and dyslexia* there are a few children who somehow ended up with names like James, Nathaniel, Paige or Chloe. I like to imagine that these infants had firm grandparents who put the kibosh on any plans for little Quades or Dylylahs.

*or this storm of noveltee and dislexyah, if you prefer

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I spent most of last week visiting my parents down on the south coast. Their small farm has always been beautiful, but with the early-flowering jonquils and the silvery winter light, it was looking better than ever.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Lately I've been feeling in a bit of a rut on the interior design front. Then a couple of days ago, with a sudden and frankly unprecendented burst of motivation, I decided to do something a bit more creative with my rusted out vintage pedal car.

So instead of just sitting on the floor in the living room, being an overwhelming and tetanus-filled temptation for any passing toddler, it's now a piece of wall sculpture. Hanging between two of my 1960s exploitation movie posters, it looks rather striking.

Of course if I ever move my bed back to that wall it'll have to come down. Some people may be happy to sleep under 11.4kgs of rusty steel hanging off a single small screw, but I am not one of them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The Flatmate recently bought himself a fancy new food processor.

It's a fantastic machine. It can make coleslaw in half the time it takes to make it with an old-fashioned knife. True, all the time you save, and much more, is needed to clean the thing and its four thousand attachments afterwards. But such considerations don't tend to occur to engineers.

I refuse to be judgemental about this. Not when there's free coleslaw in the offing.

The other fantastic thing about the Magimix becomes evident when you look more closely at the box.

Yes, that's right. Not one but two robots! We can get them to do our evil bidding! And make snacks!

Truly we live in a golden age... of robotic slave labour. And coleslaw.

Monday, June 07, 2010


I had a surprise when I opened my 'Weekend Australian' newspaper and glanced at the real estate insert called 'Home'.

'Home' is actually from 'The Australian''s low-brow stablemate 'The Sunday Times', but it's included in the 'Weekend Australian', presumably to earn a little extra revenue for the newspaper. It's one of those liftouts dressed up as a lifestyle magazine, but mostly devoted to advertisements for convoluted McMansions with inevitable "home theatres" and "alfresco areas". As such, it's about as sophisticated, deep and intellectually nourishing as a Chicken McNugget.

The thing that caused me to do a double-take was the photo used on the cover:

It appears to be fairly standard until you look at it closely. What does the model outer-suburban woman aspire to read when she finally has a moment to herself, and she's sitting in her bedroom on her stilleto-shaped leopard skin print chair and drinking coffee out of her blinged up cappucino cup? The latest 'Marie Claire'? 'Eat, Pray, Love'? 'The Time Traveller's Wife'?

No. Apparently it's Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion'.

I can only say two things to this:

1) What?


2) No, seriously. What?

I can only assume that as they were setting up the picture the photographer suddenly thought that the scenario needed a book, and the crew had trouble finding one.

The closest the model had to literature was the ingredient list on a diet shake sachet at the bottom of her Fendi.

The model's agent had just bought a copy of 'The Carrie Diaries', but only as an e-book on her new iPad.

A search of the art director's RAV4 only revealed the March issue of Blue magazine and a street directory that had been moldering under the passenger seat ever since he got a GPS app on his iPhone.

Eventually the photographer's intern remembered that she had a copy of 'The God Delusion' in her backpack, along with a 'Question Authority' badge, her keffiyeh, a bag of organic trail mix, a flyer for a Cat Empire gig and her prized autographed photo of Todd Sampson. Crisis averted.

Friday, June 04, 2010


My friend PM and I are both long-time fans of Lego, and as such we unfortunately encourage each other into spending far more than is sensible on these little pieces of plastic crack.

The Lego corporation, being a) evil and b) canny, has recently played to our weakness by releasing a limited edition set of minifigures, ones that are a little leftfield of their usual products (ninjas and zombies rather than the normal policemen and council workers). To add a diabolical element of uncertainty into the equation, the packaging for each minifigure is identical, meaning that you have no idea what you've bought until you buy it and open it.

So last night PM and I went to Target and bought five minifigures each, then repaired to my place for cake and discovery. It unfolded thusly:

Round 1

Me: I got an apologetic-looking Native American.

PM: I got a Ninja!

Me: Dang it!

Round 2

Me: I got a fruity Robin Hood.

PM: I got the Mexican Wrestler!

Me: Gaaaah! That's the one I wanted the most!

Round 3

Me: Crash-test dummy.

PM: Whoo! Evil clown!


Round 4

Me: Trashy cheerleader!

PM: Meh... frogman.

Me: Ha! At long bloody last!

Round 5

Me: Dammit all to hell! Now I've got a stupid frogman.

PM: Cool! I got the Robot!

Me: What!?

PM: Mwhahahaha!

Me: That's it! No cake for you!

You'll appreciate why I was so upset if you apply the 'Who Would Win In A Fight' method of determining awesomeness. Consider my minifigs. Who would win in a fight between Robin Hood and a Native American? Answer: nobody cares. Who would win in a fight between a crash test dummy and a frogman? Answer: meh.

My Haul of Mediocrity

Now consider PM's minifigs. Who would win in a fight between a robot and a ninja? Or a clown and a Mexican wrestler? Answer (in both cases): EVERYBODY! Sweet merciful crap! Don't pretend that you wouldn't pay good money to see either of those bouts!

PM's Haul of Awesome

The only thing that eventually lifted my mood was the realisation that we could put the Clown hair on the Robot and create a Robotic Richard Simmonds.


Thursday, June 03, 2010


Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I find that the eggs in my fridge pass their use by date before I get around to eating them.

To throw them straight into the bin would invite stickiness, bugs and horrible smells. So I always hard boil them first, which keeps them intact and unodiferous long enough to get them to the landfill.

A few nights ago I had to whip up a batch of muffins for an event at work the next morning, and while I was in the kitchen I cleaned the expired food out of the fridge, including a single egg, which I set simmering on one of the gas burners. I made the muffins, watched TV while they cooked, tested one for deliciousness, packed them into the fridge, turned off the oven, then noted that it was past midnight and went to bed.

I had to get up early for a delivery the next morning, and once I'd showered and dressed I had nothing to do while I waited for it to turn up, so I wandered into the kitchen to clean for a bit. When I grabbed the empty saucepan off the gas burner to clean it, I was actually surprised that there was an egg in it.

Why is there an egg in this saucepan, I wondered? Then I remembered what I'd done the previous night.

Wow, how did all of that water evaporate so quickly, I wondered, with breathtaking stupidity. Then I noticed that the gas burner was still on.

Fortunately I'd set it to a bare simmer, so that it took all night for the full pan of water to boil down to a dirty mark. It must have only just boiled dry, since there was no smell. Even so, the egg was actually burnt on one side. You don't see an egg with scorch marks every day.

I'm a danger to myself and others.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010