Tuesday, December 28, 2004


I spent part of last Thursday in my office taking photographs of the teddy bear I bought my two-month old nephew for Christmas. I thought it would be cute to tell him (when he's old enough to understand, but still be gullible enough to believe me) that I met the bear when he was working in my office. I guess the story will go that one day I was chatting with the bear, and he said he was sick of working on osteoclast regeneration research, and I told him that I knew a little boy who would love a teddy bear, and one thing lead to another and that’s how he ended up with my nephew.

To back up this story, we took some photos of the bear hard at work, sending emails, answering the phone, using the photocopier, having a meeting, working in the lab with a microscope and a centrifuge, and so on. A few points to note:

1) There's something irresistible about a large teddy bear seated at a desk, hunched over a keyboard, staring intently at a computer screen.

2) Commercial photocopiers were never designed to be used by people 2 feet tall, be they teddy bears, dwarves or possessed ventriloquist dummies.

3) Judging by the photos, he appears to be a lot more diligent than me. It's a good thing he left or he might have edged me out of my job. The little bastard.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Is walking around the house this morning, singing along to "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" with the Vienna Boy's Choir, but adding French Hen noises ("le cluck, le cluck") and substituting 'Farting Birds' (with attendant sound effects) for 'Calling Birds'.

Oh, and bellowing "FIVE! GOLD! RINGS!" off-key at the appropriate moments. It's traditional.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


The secret to a successful Christmas is to throw money at it until it goes away.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I met up with a bunch of guys down at Cottesloe Beach last night to have a sort of Buck's Night with CW. Of course it was a Lame Christian Buck's Night, which means that fun was neither allowed nor desired. We all sat around with our single, small glasses of beer, stroking our long grey beards, smoothing our robes and quoting scripture. Or something to that effect. The most fun I had was trading MST3K lines with a fellow MiSTie.

I used the video function on my camera to interview CW about his upcoming nuptuals. Here is a transcript:

Me: Okay CW, tell us what you expect to get out of marriage.

CW: Ah, companionship. Um, adventure. I think the girl I’m marrying is as wacky as I am, and, ah, she has three qualities that I like. One is guilelessness. Two is, she has become a beer drinker – she loves beer! (Holds up beer glass to show what beer looks like) And she drinks from a stubbie! And, uh,

Me: Sorry, we’ve run out of memory card.

CW: Cool. Nice to talk to you, Canon Powershot A75 (salutes camera with beer).

I never did find out what the third point was. I shall have to ask him. I'm the MC for the reception, so I suppose I could put him on the spot then. (Adopts Mr Burns voice) Exxxcellent (De-adopts Mr Burns voice and wishes he knew enough HTML so he could do this properly)

Other young married men were there, and they passed on the wisdom of their experience with all the smug portentousness of men who have inserted themselves into the correct suburban slot in life and fear no meaningful contradiction. Responsibility blah blah commitment blah blah big changes blah blah. I tried to lighten the mood where I could:

Married Man: One thing I realised as we left the reception was that I was now totally responsible for this other person. There would be no one else to turn to. It's a very sobering thought.
Me: But on the plus side, you'd never need to buy another Christmas or birthday present for anyone, anywhere, ever again for the rest of your life!
Married Man: What?
Me: Because you know, your wife will do it. Wives do the gifts.
Married Man: ...
Me: I believe it's in the manual.
Married Man: Hmm.
Me: Never mind. Can I get another beer here?
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be married. Then someone explains it, and whatever urge I had goes away.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Delayed Gratification is getting into your car and finding it infested with midgies, then gritting your teeth and enduring their silent, infernal orbits of the cabin, and their dogged determination to fly everywhere except out the windows, until you get to the grocery store, buy a can of insect spray, and SPRAY THE LITTLE BASTARDS BACK TO THE BLACK PIT OF HELL FROM WHENCE THEY CAME!

It's very cathartic. I'd recommend it to everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Last weekend I succumbed to temptation and did something that all civilised, right-thinking men instinctively recoil from doing.

I bought a polyester suit.

I should say that it is a suit made from 'microfibre', which is to other polyesters what iPod is to other mp3 players. But that isn't really an excuse. I could also add that it's the only suit I could find that matched my favourite shirt and fitted properly. I've been looking for months, and the next closest possibility in pure wool was $600 and the colour of elderly guacamole. It hangs better than a suit costing twice as much, and it's very slimming, so much so that people keep asking me if I've lost more weight. But still, that's a plea bargain, not an alibi.

The central fact is that I'm wearing an outfit made from chocolate-coloured plastic (with a fine tan pinstripe). It doesn't breathe, it's a little shiny, my elbows slide off surfaces if I lean on them, and the creases ironed into the legs are so sharp that I have blood from my severed arteries pooling in my shoes.

This is what I get for venturing into Man-to-Man, a franchise clothing store frequented by apprentice plumbers and teenaged office boys*. I should have been warned by the fact that the saleschick** asked me, "So what's the occasion?" when I told her I wanted a suit, as if the bulk of her clientele never realised the need for a suit unless suddenly confronted by a wedding or a job interview. She even offered to hurry the alterations in order to meet any deadlines I had. I had to keep telling her, "No, it's just another suit to wear to the office. I own several. There's no rush."

So I'm a traitor to my class. Or perhaps more accurately, a traitor to my pretensions of class. I can go home tonight and change into wool or linen or even, at a pinch, a wool-viscose blend, but the polyester suit will be there, like a back-alley whore at a wholesome family Christmas dinner.

I feel so cheap and dirty.

*and winner of the 2004 Most Homoerotic, Counter-Productive Business Name Conceivable Award.
**she was decidedly a saleschick rather than a saleswoman. Saleswomen don't dress like Shakira.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


This afternoon on the bus I sat behind a scruffy old man. He had a page boy haircut, a cheap polyester shirt and bare feet. As the bus was pulling away, he crossed his legs to rest his foot on the top of the seat in front of him, and in so doing, he revealed the NASTIEST FEET IN THE UNIVERSE. Forget cloven hooves; Satan has feet like this. The toenails were yellow and twisted, and the skin was gnarled and flaking. And I mean flaking. As his foot brushed the backrest of the seat in front of him, it released a cascade, a veritable fountain of dead dry disgusting skin flakes. The bus was like the inside of a well-shaken snow globe.

Also he smelled bad. I knew it, and he knew it. He demonstrated this by enthusiastically huffing on his pits every so often. You could almost see him thinking, “Hey, something smells bad. Wait, is it me? (Hufffffffffffff) Yep, it is me. Thought so. All is right with the world.”

Now you might say, “Oh, very nice, mocking a poor old homeless man who doesn’t have the benefits of blah blah yadda yadda.” Well, perhaps, but he also had a late model, high-end Nokia camera phone, which he fiddled with between bouts of furious head scratching and dead skin avalanches. I say more professional podiatric care (and possibly the intervention of some sort of exorcist) and less superfluous gadgetry, old man!


The television networks of Australia apparently believe that only shift-workers, witches and pumpkins watch science fiction. This is the only logical explanation for the fact that all science fictiony programs are broadcast at or around midnight. To be a local science fiction fan is to be the possessor of a sturdy video recorder, many blank tapes, the presence of mind to hit 'record' before going to bed, and the inability to reformat one's mind to subsist entirely on the primetime diet of reality television and CSI franchises.

I had limited space on my sole remaining cassette, so I had to stay up to hit record just as 'Firefly' was starting. While I was waiting, I watched 'Voyager'. It was an episode from towards the end of the show's life, when you could just start to detect the writers' ambivalence towards the whole Star Trek universe. They twisted it to bring out the sexy excitement, getting more space battles and chances for heroism going, but the dead hand of Gene Roddenberry still lay draped over it, weighing it down with worthy humanist pontification.

Last night's plot was basically this; one of Earth's late 21st century probes is intercepted by aliens, who used the technology databases to build antimatter weapons and obliterate themselves. They figure that this was Earth's intention all along, and the few remaining survivors take it out on the crew of Voyager.

The aliens say, "You sent out this technology as a so-called gift, knowing full well that we'd use it to destroy our civilisation," and this argument is met with mournful gazes and gently shaken heads by the humans. Some even go so far as to forgive the cold-blooded murder of a lieutenant, because, you know, they can sort of see where the aliens are coming from.

At no point does anyone say, "Hey, our ancestors sent out that probe in good faith. Nobody forced you to use the information it contained to eradicate yourselves. You're sentient beings, not labradors! Take some responsibility for your own damn actions!" Even when humanity is more or less entirely innocent of wrongdoing, they still have to fret and endlessly analyse their behaviour.

It's been said that each Star Trek reflects the age in which its written. The original was gung-ho and imperial, Next Generation was full of 1980s touchy-feeling new age self-improvement, and Enterprise reflects a low-key hostility between us (representing the US) and the rest of the universe. Voyager reflects the peculiarly Western turn-of-the-century idea that anything we give to others is their right, and all complaints they have against us, no matter how inane or, indeed, insane should be treated with respect and introspection. Unless we attain moral perfection, which by its very definition is impossible, everything is Our Fault and Our Responsibility.

This is further bourne out in the vast sea of legal dramas, especially those produced in the US. It's not enough for a person to commit a crime, be found guilty following an examination of the evidence, and sentenced. All concerned have to perform semantic and logical gymnastics to see if there is even the slightest hint that someone else, or better yet 'society', might share a fraction of the blame. It invariably does, and then there are tortured frowns, wrung hands, and expressions of moral equivalence all round. There's nothing like really smug nihilism to turn my stomach. No wonder I find Star Trek almost unwatchable these days.

In that vein, time for a Geekout!

10 Reasons Why 'FireFly''s Malcolm Reynolds Is Better Than 'Voyager''s Katherine Janeway

1. Reynolds kills bad people without hesitation. Janeway strikes dramatic poses.
2. Reynolds has snappy one-liners written by Joss Weedon. Janeway has leaden exposition and ham.
3. Reynolds' love interest is Inara. Janeway's is Chakotay.
4. Inara versus Chakotay, people! It deserves at least two places! Even straight women would think Inara was the better deal, if only for the conversation!
5. Reynolds has a strong moral sense and an inner compulsion to follow it. Janeway has the idiotic Prime Directive, and an inherited culture of weaseling out of it.
6. Reynolds' ship has a preacher-man. Janeway's has... er... Neelix.
7. Reynolds champions the rights of ordinary people. Janeway champions the rights of irritating holographic computer programs.
8. Reynolds threatens people like he means it. Janeway just whines and gets bitchy.
9. That Inara/Chakotay thing again! I mean, come on!
10. Reynolds is a cool character. Janeway just puts it into my head to write geeky "10 Reasons Why X Is Better Than A Star Trek Franchise" lists.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


People say that they remember where they were the day JFK was shot, or the day they found out Kurt Cobain was dead. I remember where I was when Garry Trudeau's sense of humour kicked the bucket. I was sitting in my coffee nook at work, leafing through the newspaper. When I came across the Doonesbury strip, I remember noting that it had ratcheted up its angry, hectoring tone and I thought, "Crikey, he really has given up on producing a 'comic', hasn't he." He'd descended from Social Satire to Personal Grudge in an alarmingly short time.

It wouldn't be the first time that a left-leaning comedian's brain broke following a triumph of the forces of the right. In Melbourne, the brilliant and unpredictable Rod Quantock became a pale, irrelevant shadow of his former self following the ascension of the Kennett government in 1992. Kennett's eventual loss to Bracks was not enough to restore him, and he remains a marginal, spittle-flecked figure who can maintain the illusion of comedy only for a few minutes at a time.

Then there's Michael Leunig of course, whose brain didn't so much break as drain away, to be replaced by fey whimsy and sparkles. Whether it's a result of the Kennett government or a fiendish conspiracy by Titania, Queen of the Fairies remains unclear.

And I'll always treasure the fact that I was witness to the downfall of Austen Tayshus. Having become a household name via a low-brow skit involving Australian-themed puns, he launched himself into something called 'Highway Corroboree' on ABC TV's 'The Big Gig' in 1988. It was a frustrated tirade against the oppression of the Aboriginal people, and in its entire length it managed to raise exactly two laughs. Laughs, might I add, that came from a hip inner-city audience straining on their leashes, like pit bulls discovering a rogue toddler in their yard, to prove their PC credentials and laugh at anything even remotely resembling humour. Getting them to laugh at a comedy sketch espousing Aboriginal rights would be about as hard as getting a congregation of Presbyterians to say "Amen" at the end of a prayer. And still, only two laughs. Well, not counting the many I've had at that memory in the years since. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. There I go again.

I was reminded of all this today, just as Trudeau seemed to be sticking electrodes in the neck of his sense of humour and hooking it up to a lightning conductor. Not entirely successfully - these reanimation attempts never are - but at least he's giving it a go. The character of BD, who lost a leg fighting the Bush Halliburton Nazi Oil Jihad in Iraq, may be being contorted in order to whine about the current administration, but at least he's cracking a few jokes while he's at it.

Then in the last panel I noticed something bizarre, as BD removed his shirt in preparation for bed. Apparently he didn't just lose his leg in Iraq; he lost his nipples too! Damn you, Bush! Sending out our fine young* men to have their nipples erased like chaste maidens in an ecclesiastical Renaissance fresco!

Apparently the brave voice of dissent doesn't extend to giving male characters aureoles. I mean, that would just be wrong.

* I don't know how old BD is supposed to be. He's been drawn for thirty six years, which would make him well overdue for his Seniors card. But time moves differently in the cartooniverse.

Monday, December 13, 2004


I've been playing Half Life on my computer. Yes, we've travelled back in time to 1998, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Half Life was at the cutting edge of game design. I'm poor and my computer is weak, and it's taken six years for the price to drop to $20, dammit. So sue me.

For anyone who's been Amish or something for the last six years, the scenario of Half Life is as follows. You are Dr Gordon Freeman, a scientist working in an underground research base which, as underground research bases are wont to do, opens up a portal to another dimension and gets swamped by marauding aliens. It's an old story - funny how these portals never flood your research installation with bunnies, fawns and shy, elderly librarians.

In any case, you were the only one wearing a cybernetic envirohazard suit when the accident occured, so you're the only one who stands a chance against the monsters. You can expect a little help from a few scientists and security guards who've survived, but their attitudes leave something to be desired. Despite seeing their colleagues being turned into sashimi or, worse yet, parasite-infested zombies, the scientists tend to babble about wanting to get alien blood samples back to their labs. The security guards just crow about their mediocre kills and make sub-Arnie puns about the bloody gore gurgling around their ankles. Frankly, it's tempting to blow them away and take their ammunition.

Being a sensitive soul, I feel sorry for those fellow scientists who have been turned into the aforementioned parasite-infested zombies. There are these aliens who look like animated Thanksgiving turkeys who've got ideas above their station. They latch onto someone's head and before you can say "George Romero" they're staggering around the corridors on their new human legs making a nuisance of themselves. These scientists were so nice and friendly when I showed up for work in the introduction. I feel for them. I wonder if they're still alive somewhere under their new Insane Turkey Heads, no doubt thinking, "I wonder if I can wrest control of my body back long enough to steer it to the lab and stick this thing in the MRI scanner?"


This morning I had arranged for a tradesman to come and fix the broken roller-shutters outside the study and The Flatmate's bedroom. He was supposed to come between 7.30 and 8.00, and by 8.30 he still hadn't showed. I'd been half-expecting it. You can't just have a problem, call a tradesman, arrange a mutually satisfactory time and have him come out and fix the problem. That is not a recognised step in the Great Tradesman Dance.

Usually the Dance goes something like this: You call the tradesman, you get his voicemail, you leave a message for him to call back. Days pass. He calls back, gets your answering machine, and leaves a message asking you to call him back. Repeat. When you eventually reach him, arrange a time and place somewhere in the dim, distant future. The day comes, and passes, without him appearing. Ring to find out what happened, get his voicemail, and leave a message. Repeat from the beginning. The Dance ends when lightening strikes your house and burns it to the ground. Then, as you're there sifting through the smouldering wreckage for your few surviving possessions, he turns up and says, "So, you the bloke who wanted some roller-shutters repaired?"

Perhaps this particular tradesman was new to the game, or maybe his dance card was already full. In any case he turned up just after 8.30am, when I was standing in my bedroom clad only in a damp business shirt, underpants, and one sock. I had to hurriedly throw on my bathrobe to get to the gate before he gave up and left. I think the single long black sock gave my ensemble its particular resonance.

Of course when I got back inside, I found that my damp business shirt had sucked red piling off my bathrobe like a squid sucking rivets off a submarine hull. And of course it wouldn't come off. I changed shirts and found the rest of my suit, then amused myself with a little light housework as he made banging noises at the windows and managed to get lost down the side of the house. After an hour and a half and $150, I had roller-shutters that go up and down again. Yee-har.


Following the Cavalcade of Little Kids Singing Like Flayed Piglets (sorry, can't help myself), I went to TK's party over in Shenton Park. It was a relaxed, casual, sit-around-a-glowing-brazier-getting-smoked-like-a-Norwegian-salmon affair.

The high point was the revelation that TK suffers from SSA (Sleep Social Administration) Syndrome. He gets out of bed in the early hours of the morning, fast asleep, and calls people to arrange his social calendar. We were given a voicemail message, recorded at 1.30am, as proof. TK sounds a bit slurred, but otherwise perfectly coherent.

The other party guests laughed, but I was impressed by TK's innovative take on multi-tasking. Why waste eight hours a night doing nothing but sleeping when you could concurrently organise yourself for the busy Christmas party season? I say take it further - imagine the looks on your flatmates' faces when they wake in the morning and find the gas bill paid, the dishwasher unpacked, the Hills Hoist restrung and an angry letter decrying the lack of public housing for the underprivileged sent off to your local Member of Parliament on their behalf! It'd be a time-saving boon!

Sometimes I wonder why no one seems to appreciate my genius and insight.


On Saturday night my church held their so-called 'Carol Service'. I maintain that you need to sing more than five carols to make it a carol service. Christmas service, fine. Carol service, no. And since I was MCing this little affair, I could call it whatever I darn well liked. I HAD THE POWER! MWHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So I called it our Christmas service. I thought of calling it the Cavalcade of Little Kids Singing Like Flayed Piglets, but the truth tends to hurt, and it is the season for kindness and generosity after all.

I had my comeuppance over supper:

Me: You know, I haven't eaten a single vegetable all day.
JC: You told me you had a slice of mango at breakfast.
Me: Duh, mango is a fruit. I said vegetables.
(Picks up spring roll and bites into it. Looks down and sees carrots inside)
JC: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.


Friday, December 10, 2004


I attended a little Christmas function yesterday evening, in the hopes of getting a) free booze, b) free food and c) a chance to discuss the preparations for the 2005 teaching program with some of the academics.

Unfortunately the booze was being supplied by the Head of School, and he was running about an hour late. After three quarters of an hour I was getting desperate, so when the 6th Year Coordinator mentioned that he had a bottle of wine in his office, I bid him fetch it with all speed.

It turned out to be a '93 Cabernet Shiraz that had been sitting in the corner when he moved into the office in 1995, and hadn't been shifted since. It hadn't been stored on its side, and the climate control in the office isn't the best, so there were no surprises in its roughness. But it was drinkable.

Or at least it was to my palate. While I was pouring the contents of my glass down my booze hole, one of the vascular surgeons was swirling it in his glass, sniffing at it with a slightly worried frown then, after sipping it, giving it the same unimpressed stare he gives to the suturing efforts of particularly incompetent 4th Years.


Is driving to work feeling the early summer sun ever so slightly burning the back of your neck, listening to Mambo Caliente through the car stereo, with the roof and the windows down, sliding past lush reticulated gardens and knowing it is Friday.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Heat (redux)

The window is now open. It's still too hot. One of the reasons why I'm happy to come to work every day, rather than grimly resigned to it, is the climate controlled buildings. Take that away, and the whole package starts to look a lot less attractive.

Occasionally a lick of breeze will slide through my office, caressing me as if it were a femme fatale and I were a government minister, or a high-ranking KGB agent (or both!). Otherwise, it's just a dull haze of heat from wall to wall, the atmospheric equivalent of burnt orange shagpile carpeting.

JC and I went out for coffee last night, and got turned away from the Merchant because it was, shock horror, 8.50pm. And on a school night, too. Honestly, who's running these cafes? Fat Cat*? Are they entirely staffed by eight year olds who need to be in bed by 9pm?

So we went to McDonalds McCafe instead, which is open 24 hours a day and ironically enough far more likely to be entirely staffed by eight year olds. On the way I had a bit of an epiphany. There are 1.3 million people in this city, hundreds of thousands of whom live within a ten kilometre radius of my house. How is it that of these hundreds of thousands, there are apparently not enough to keep one decent cafe open past nine o'clock on a weeknight? I mean you'd need less than one in a thousand to visit each night to make a profit. The McCafe was certainly doing a roaring trade at 10pm, and it's a crudhole.

Or, to put it another way, how can it be that I have to travel into the very centre of the city if I want to get a damn cup of coffee at nine o'clock on a Wednesday?In fact, where can you get a mid-evening cup of coffee in this city? There's the King Street Cafe in Perth city, Oriel out in Subiaco, Cafe Bo in Leederville, maybe one or two places in Mt Lawley, perhaps a couple more on the Strip in Fremantle. Then there are the McDonalds, and I think the petrol station across the street has a coffee machine. Bravo, Perth, you somnambulate closeted waste of coastal plain.

*television station mascot who reminds kids when to go to bed, ie at 7.30pm


Somehow the engineering staff at the Hospital have managed to blow up one of the chilling tanks that works the air conditioning system. They have another one, so they can produce some air conditioning, but not enough for the entire hospital complex. Not surprisingly, their priority is the wards, because sick people have enough grossness to contend with without adding pools of stale sweat. Other buildings, like mine, have simply had their air conditioning shut off.

While they're hitting the broken chilling tank with hammers to see if that helps, they've taken a couple of innovative steps to help those of us who aren't patients. The first is to switch the air conditioning back on in the evening, when the ambient temperature is cooler and the wards need less air conditioning to maintain the standard 22 degrees. They leave it running all night, so the building is nicely chilled by the time we all turn up in the morning. However, after a couple of hours of summer sunshine outside, and the heat thrown out by dozens of people and their computers inside, the temperature drifts up and up. By late afternoon it's positively infernal.

Their other measure is to reassure us that if the outside temperature goes down during the day, they'll be able to switch the air conditioning back on. So in other words when the heatwave ends, then we can have air conditioning.

Why yes, that was a scornful tone in my voice. What gave it away?

At least there's no Christmas Party of the Damned going on outside my window today. That means that if I need to open it to let in some fresh air, I won't be forced to go on a killing spree. Huzzah!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I met CW for coffee after work last night, and I ended up joining him at the West Australian Society of Editors end of year dinner at C Blue in Cottesloe. As he had earlier predicted, my presence lowered the average age by a good ten years, but they were a lively bunch of oldsters and the time seemed to fly by.

I wish I were still there now. That's largely because the Hospital staff are having a Christmas party in the park outside my window, and I've been getting bad 80s versions of mediocre Christmas songs blasting in for the last couple of hours. I've just announced my intention to go postal to the rest of the staff, so if they don't get out of the way or start cowering under their desks, they only have themselves to blame.

I wonder what the Christmas version of going postal is? Going festive? That sounds like you're a middle aged American woman stapling holly onto everything in the house that doesn't move. Going yuleal? Too many vowels, not enough hard phonemes. Blitzenkreig? That has possibilities.

Bloody hell, now they're playing Christmas hip-hop! And did they really just sing a line containing the word 'muthafukka' in a Christmas song?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


This is my first blog post. I've always said that the blogosphere doesn't need another punter banging away about trivialities, but today it just suddenly seems to be the right thing to do. I am a creature of whim.

Also my blog will have the following rewards:

1. It can be an impromptu testing of the Six Degrees of Separation. Since I don't intend to use my name, or the names of my friends, co-workers or sundry hangers-on, or tell anyone I know that I've started blogging, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for all this to get back to me, and, undoubtedly, bite me on the arse.

2. I can help to offset all those blogs written by little Asian girls who hurl pink sparkles, pictures of twee cartoon characters, midi-files, dialogue boxes, animated gifs and SMS-speak at your screen if you be unfortunate enough to encounter them.

3. I can post naked pictures of myself, along with a wish list, and when people buy me things I can agree to put my clothes back on.

So enjoy your ride on the blandwagon, and remember what we always say; if you can't be good, be bland!