Monday, February 28, 2005


I worked at a polling station for the Western Australian state elections on Saturday, so I've decided to Blog the Election, just like a REAL blogger. I feel so hardcore. Of course there's a slight time delay, since the polling station didn't have a phone line, much less computers, but I took notes and the information should be up on the blog just in time to be completely irrelevant.

Not that this election is much to write home (or to the Internet) about. It brings to mind a quote by verteran ABC political analysts Roy Slaven and HG Nelson: "It's a choice between proven failure and potential disaster." They were speaking about a Federal election, but both of the main candidates for this state election are so hopeless that the quote is probably more appropriate here.

In the spirit of political irrelevance and mediocrity, I will eschew the normal talk of politicians and policy, and present this special Blandwagon feature called 'Faces of Democracy'.

1. Scary Old Half-Naked Muscle Man.
SOHNMM came in wearing nothing but footy shorts, sneakers, a backpack and one of those dark brown tans that suggest that the only reason he's still walking around is because the skin cancers are fighting over who gets to do him in first.
It's democracy, people. It's the one day when the voice of every citizen must be heard, and we as a people determine the future direction of our society. It's special. Would it KILL you to mark the occasion by putting on a shirt?
It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't given in to the mysterious drive that overpowers every old man and highpanted himself. I didn't think it was even possible to highpant yourself with footy shorts. Apparently I was wrong.

2. Suspicion Lady
Suspicion Lady: Why do they use pencils in the polling both and not pens.
Me (Thinking): Because when the polling station closes, we open the boxes and change the votes to whatever we want. I think by ten o'clock tonight you will have voted for the Support NAMBLA Party.
Me (Speaking): Because pencils don't clog or dry up.
Suspicion Lady: But pencil can be rubbed out.
Me: (Thinking): Yes. Yes it can. MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Me (Speaking): The ballot boxes are sealed until the station closes, then they're only opened under the supervision of outside scrutineers. There aren't any opportunities to alter them.
Suspicion Lady: Hmph (exeunt unconvinced).
Me (Thinking): Die, Suspicion Lady! Die!
Me (Speaking): Have a nice day.

3. Crazy Old Italian Men
COIMs cause problems at every election. It's not that they don't know who to vote for - they've been Labor men their entire lives. Geoff Gallop could have promised the mandatory culling of everyone over the age of 65, and they still would have voted for him. It's transcended mere habit and become encoded in their genes.
But the simple truth is that they've spent the last fifty years spelling their names to government officials who can't understand their impenetrable accents, and today is the day when they decide that they WON'T TAKE ANOTHER MINUTE OF IT! If you ask them to write their name down on the scrap paper provided, they react as if you'd just asked them to go back to Italy and fetch their birth certificate. They simply gesticulate wildly and loudly repeat something that could be their surname, their first name, their street address or an imprecation to the patron saint of irritable old Mediterraneans.
Their wives are generally better prepared. They stomp up to the desk and wordlessly slap down a pension card, with all their details in neat, machine-printed block letters. Bless 'em.

4. ?
A middle-aged man comes to my desk and gives me a surname. I look it up, but there's only one entry for that surname and the name next to it is 'Valerie'. How do I explain this to him? I suppose Valerie could be a male first name in some parts of Eastern Europe, but the man doesn't sound Eastern European, and he certainly doesn't look Eastern European, so I have a slightly closer look and SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP YOU'RE A WOMAN!
Bloody lesbians.

5. Batman
Just before the close of polling, Batman comes in. He's a lot shorter than he looks on TV. He makes a beeline for the Jelly Babies of Democracy on my desk while a man claiming to be his father (I thought Batman's father was dead?) collects his voting papers.
I wonder how someone who's only three feet tall can drive a big car like the Batmobile. Perhaps it's smaller than it appears.

Friday, February 25, 2005


My Two Second Review of the new series of Battlestar Galactica:

Sweet merciful crap, could you people
be any more depressing?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I had a bit of spare time last night with BM and DM, fellow MiSTies and Bad Cinema aficionados, so we watched my copy of 1953's "Project Moonbase" on their home theatre system. Their projector probably cost more than this film's entire budget, but that's just one of the joys of Bad Cinema.

It's the far off, futuristic year of 1970, which bears a surprising resemblance to 1953 except for the cordless bakelite phones and the fact that gender politics seem to have gone backwards. The United States Space Force has decided to send an expedition to orbit the moon. They want to give command of the mission to Major Bill Moore, but at the last minute they cave in to political pressure to give it to Colonel Briteis, who recently won great public acclaim by being the first person to orbit the Earth.

No one is happy about this, except Colonel Briteis, who turns out to be... A WOMAN! And a woman who appears to be about fifteen and incapable of piloting a shopping cart, let alone a space ship. Here's a sample of her dialogue with the General:

General: Colonel, I'm sending Major Moore as your co-pilot.

Colonel: Bill Moore? Oh no General, you can't!

General: And why not?

Colonel: The big lug hates me, he's jealous of me.

General: Now you listen to me, 'Brighteyes'...

Colonel: "Bright-ice", if you please...

General: Shut up, BrightEYES, and listen to me! Major Moore is the best pilot we've got, better than you are!

Colonel: But, I don't understand why you...

General: PIPE DOWN! If he weighed 90 pounds instead of 180, he'd be a Colonel and a public hero and you'd still be a Captain! But you got the orbiting flight, you got the ticker tape parade and all the rest. Ever since then you've been too big for your britches. Get me? [Turns away from her]

Colonel: No, I WON'T!

General: [Turns and walks towards her, forcing her to step back as he talks] ONE: Colonels don't say, "No", to Generals! TWO: You're not a superwoman, you're a spoiled brat! THREE: Any more guff out of you and I'll turn you over my knee and spank you!

I believe there was a similar exchange between NASA chiefs and Buzz Aldrin in 1968. Or at least the spanking part.

Meanwhile, the Enemies of Freedom (presumably Commies, but they all talk and dress like American middle-managers) have managed to infiltrate the crew with one of their own people, who is instructed to destroy the mission either by crashing the rocket into the space station, or by setting off an explosion in the space station's "Bomb Room".

BM: This space station has a Bomb Room? That's just asking for trouble.

Me: That's where they keep their Ford Edsels, and their copies of 'Pearl Harbour' .

When Colonel Briteis and her crew turn up for their mission we discover that the United States Space Force has adopted unisex space uniforms based on tight T-shirts and hotpants. While this is fine for the Colonel (veeeeeery fine) it doesn't do any favours for her all-male crew, who are largely elderly and sagging. While the boys are generally shot from the waist up, we are treated to several scenes of the Colonel bending over, climbing and descending ladders, and walking down a corridor as seen from behind.

BM: Is this mission being commanded by Colonel Briteis or Kylie Minogue?

After several minutes on the disturbingly Freudian space station (the long, missile-shaped space ships are inserted pointy-end first into ports that coyly open up as they approach), the crew set off in their lunar orbiter, and it's then that the Enemy of Freedom strikes. He hits the rockets mid-flight, causing the ship to waste precious fuel and accelerate out of control. Major Moore tussles with him while Colonel Briteis writhes helplessly on her crash couch as relentless G-forces pull her T-shirt tighter and tighter.

The Major overcomes his foe, but not before almost all of their fuel has gone. The Colonel has a brief moment of hysteria, but the Major calms her down and she apologises for her girlish lapse.

Colonel: Sorry for going female on you, Major.

Me: What? You mean you weren't one before?

There's nothing for it but to LAND ON THE MOON, reckless, desperate fools that they are. They achieve a safe landing, but they're on the dark side, out of radio contact with the space station. Bill and the baddie have to lug some radio equipment out to a nearby mountain to set up a relay station. While setting up, the baddie slips on a loose space rock and tumbles off the edge of the mountain.

Me: Bill! Help! I'm being dragged down by the moon's titanic gravitational pull!

He dies, of course, and Bill is forced to take the long trek back to the ship alone, with his oxygen almost gone.

BM: Bill! Bill! Whatever you do, don't take the bad guy's oxygen tanks! It's better to leave them, half full, on the lunar surface as a warning to others!

Me: Plus they're infected with Communism! Just leave them where they are, Bill!

DM: Whew, thank goodness he heard you guys.

So now it's just the Colonel and the Major alone on the rocketship. Once they contact the space station, they're sent missiles full of essential supplies, which Bill has to go out and collect.

BM (as Bill): Hmmm, beads, patchwork quilting stuff, scrapbooking supplies... dammit, this is all for her!

Me (as Bill): Oh wait, here's my box: Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse - okay, I'm good.

There remains the ticklish issue of propriety. Space Force and the White House agree that it would be good PR if the Colonel and the Major got married. They leap at the opportunity, although whether its a result of the unresolved sexual tension or desperation brought on by dwindling oxygen supplies is unclear. A Space Force padre marries them over the viewer, then their union is blessed by the President of the United States.

Madame President (in sparkly sequined ballgown): Congratulations, Major and Mrs Moore!

Me: Gee, are we sure this is 1970? Richard Nixon is sort of funny-looking.

BM: Maybe it's J. Edgar Hoover.

Yes yes yes, we're very sad, and a pale, wannabe reflection of the Mystery Science Theater boys. We accept that. But hey, we were doing this off the cuff! They had time to work out scripts! And they had robots! We'd be a lot funnier if we had robots!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


If, like me, you find names and their role in modern society endlessly fascinating, this is the coolest site you'll see all day.

But like all good sites, it raises questions:

  • What happened in the 1980s that made Pierre spike so suddenly?
  • Who in their right mind would name their daughter William?
  • Why is nobody called Mildred or Elsie any more?
  • What the hell kind of name is Moises? Is that just a good Jewish name for boys born in Brooklyn?
  • And speaking of Brooklyn, why is no one following Posh and Beck's example for their son?

Answers, dammit! I want answers!


I mentioned on Friday night that I was attending a public lecture. The lecture was given by Don Watson, a former speechwriter for the Keating government and anti-management-speak activist. Fighting against 'weasel words' is an admirable struggle, and at the end of the lecture, a friend I was with turned to me and said, "What did you think?" I demurred, but he pressed me on it, so I told him.

"What an insufferable arsehole," I said.

The evening was going badly before he even spoke a word (weaselly or otherwise). He was introduced by Dr Fiona Stanley, noted local physician and ratbag, who prefaced her introduction with a big thank you to the Noongar people* for allowing us to meet on their land. Never mind that there weren't any Noongars in the audience. Never mind that the University has owned the site for nearly a century. Never mind that had any actual Noongars been present, they probably would have told her to piss off. But at least St Fiona thanked them and thus demonstrated her vast personal virtue, which, let's face it, is the whole point.

Then Don got up to speak. I took notes. Looking back on them now, my notes are peppered with phrases like MAKE A POINT! and TALK ABOUT THE DAMN WORDS! because Don seemed to prefer to make snippy, bitchy asides about politics and social issues than address language and linguistics.

This is not to say that he didn't make a few good points. Why does the Australian Taxation Office start letters to taxpayers with the words "Dear valued customer" when we're not dear to them, not valued by them, and not customers? What in the hell is a Chief Knowledge Officer? What are "advanced language metaphors", how do they differ to simple "metaphors", and can the consultancy firm offering to teach them to you really be trusted to know the difference? So there were occasional gleams in the dross. But these were simple, undeveloped points, and between each glimmer of relevance, there were great piles of sneering snobbery, political whining and the sort of sociological analysis rarely seen outside of student newspapers.

But worst of all, he actually committed one of the most heinous language sins himself, in his quest to prove his counter-cultural credentials. He mocked the US military for referring to some of their activities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay as "enhanced interrogation techniques". "For goodness sakes," he crowed. "Let's just call it what it is - torture!"

And yet somehow, only a few moments later, as he addressed the conditions in the Nazi death camps, he said, "Words can't describe this level of state-sponsored inhumanity." Yes they can, dipshit. It's called 'torture'. That's the problem when you describe leading a man around with panties on his head as 'torture' - what word do you then use for feeding people feet first into an industrial paper shredder? Keep insisting that small issues are 'scandals' and 'outrages', and you won't have any words to use when genuine scandals and outrages occur.

To his credit, Don wasn't as bad as the crowd. He admitted that the military are a useful and necessary part of society, which drew some disgruntled mutterings. And when it came to question time, and a chunky old woman prefaced her words with "I have three points and a question" then never go to the question, he dryly noted, "I take it that's a rhetorical question."

I could go on, but you get the gist. It was a disappointing affair overall, in which cogent ideas were poured through ideological filters until they made no sense but fitted where they were wanted, and it was presented as if the speaker was wearied to the bone by having to prove it all to imbeciles who didn't share his rarified good breeding. It was less a lecture and more an erudite hissy fit. Had I been able to maintain my Victorian mindset, I would have taken a swig of Dr Cuthbert's Revitalising Medicinal Tonic and fetched him one around the earhole with my phrenology textbook.

At least there were some good discussions to be had about it at the cafe afterwards. I wasn't the only one to feel dissatisfied.

*The Noongars are the aboriginal tribe who (probably) occupied this area before European settlement.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Leeaman believes that only friends and family are reading his (or her) blog, and asks for comments to prove otherwise.

Be a pal to Leeaman and drop him (or her) a comment. Play your cards right and you may receive a cotton mill. Apparently he (or she) has an abundance of the things.


Later tonight I am going over to Winthrop Hall to attend a public lecture.

In order to get into the attendance-of-a-public-lecture mood, I plan to hail a hansom cab and ride there in comfort. While I am waiting in line for entry, I shall mock the bluestocking'd suffragettes who are perpetually protesting on the cobbled streets, and, if I have any spare time, I shall compose an angry letter to The Times, berating Mr Disraeli for supporting the bill to limit the number of street urchins per annum to be converted into low-cost feed for livestock.

Sorry. There's nothing like the thrill of public lectures to make me get in touch with my Victorian side.


I dropped in to visit my sister last night, and while I was there I copied a couple of recipes out of her new cookbook, which according to her has mysterious, magical powers to grant untold deliciousness on ordinary ingredients. On my way home I did some grocery shopping, then made Italian Chicken Breasts (chicken slathered with pesto and parmesan and wrapped in prosciutto, then baked), followed by Tiramisu (cream and marscapone whipped together, layered with sponge biscuits soaked in Tia Maria and espresso).

Both were rather successful. The tiramisu recipe made a lot of tiramisu - I halved the ingredients but there was still enough for eight or nine serves - so I invited some Suburb Buddies over for a late night snack. Their delighted reaction to the dish was gratifying, and yet a little perturbing. It was almost as if they doubted my story, unable to process the idea that an ordinary doofus like me could make tiramisu in a suburban kitchen without the intervention of some sort of hidden celebrity chef. They kept looking at me suspiciously, as if I'd played a trick on them. I think they half-expected Delia Smith to suddenly leap out from behind the refrigerator and shout "A-ha! Fooled you!"


On a variety of levels, this story from The Times is a fine example of irony, poetic justice, stereotyping, and a whole bunch of other things I learnt in a three year English & Comparative Literature degree.

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail. What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.
"We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs," one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view."
Another said: "I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot." Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: "Sod off, Swampy."

Where did these people get the idea that commodities traders would be pushovers? Did they imagine that the Exchange would be full of fat plutocrats in top hats and monocles, like the attendees of the Monopoly Mascot Impersonators Convention, who would merely gasp "Well I never!" before waddling away? Did they expect a roomful of weedy accountants, who would flee before a crowd of hyped-up middle-class bolshies surging in powered by their own self-righteousness?

I've had a few friends who worked in the Finance industry, and through them I've learnt that it's one of the last great bastions of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. They don't care what class you are or where you went to school; if you can do the work and do it well, you're in. Given the responsibility, the risk and the hard work of trading, it tends to attract aggressive or even bullying types; people who have been knocked around by life and managed to knock back and struggle through. Men who have been nancified by years of philosophical hand-wringing at university don't tend to thrive in those environments. Finance types may wear expensive suits and drive BMWs, but underneath they're uncouth, testosterone-addled lads who leap at the chance for a bit of biffo, whether metaphorical or literal.

I could go on about how angry this sort of activism makes me, how it demonstrates total contempt for ordinary people and damages our comparatively great society, but it would just be another contentious yet boring internet rant, and my screen is flecked with enough spittle already. I would like to conclude, however, in noting what is in my opinion the funniest part of the article:

Two minutes later, three Greenpeace vans pulled up and another 30 protesters leapt out and were let in by the others.

Presumably these were solar-powered vans, lubricated with non-GMO, Fair Trade olive oil, and running on tyres made from wicker.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Am I the only person in the world who can't see or hear the name "Mark Occhilupo" without mentally adding "A Wop Bam Boom" ?

I suspect I am.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Another Saturday, another wedding. I don't know this couple as well as CW & KR but it's an honour to be invited to such a joyous occasion regardless of who's doing the inviting. Plus, free food!

Thoughts From A Wedding
- When dressing for a summer wedding, what should the modern gentleman wear?
a) a light-weight suit with an open-necked shirt, because it's a special occasion but it's also hot.
b) dark dress pants, white shirt and tie, because even though you're thirty years old you still don't own a suit.
c) a biker beard and a Holden Special Vehicles T-shirt, because you've apparently just joined us from the pit crew at Kwinana Moto-plex.

- I've never seen so many leathery old women wearing clothes twenty years too young for them in the same place at the same time. My eyes hurt.

- Aw crap. The readings are Ecclesiastes 4 v 9 - 12 and 1 Corinthians 13 v 4 - 8. Again. Come on, people, get creative! Quit using the same tired old passages! You've got an entire Bible to chose from!

- Well, maybe it'd be better to leave out the book of Judges. There may be a place for dismembered concubines at a wedding, but I haven't discovered it yet.

- What is it about girls and having butterfly tattoos on their shoulders? Is there a male equivalent? Are there any manly insects?

- A Beyonce song for the processional = minus ten points. Mendelssohn's Wedding March for the recessional = plus ten points. No Pachelbel's Bloody Canon = plus about a million points.

- (halfway through sermon) Have we always had these chairs?

- As men reach a certain age, they should be required to undergo annual hearing tests. If they pass, all well and good. If they fail, they should be given a card on which is written, in large bold letters, DO NOT WHISPER JOVIAL ASIDES TO YOUR WIFE AT PUBLIC FUNCTIONS, BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT REALLY WHISPERING, YOU DEAF OLD BASTARD.

- When a bride signs the register, does she sign her maiden name or her married name? She's made her vows and exchanged the rings, so she's married, but then again how can she sign a contract to become Mrs Groom with a name she can't hold until said contract has been witnessed? Ow ow ow my brane.

- What if the bride gets struck by lightning between the altar and the register? Is she legally Mrs Groom or still Miss Bride? Is her estate the property of the groom or her family? Where's a lawyer when you need one?

- (while standing in line to meet the happy couple) I hate this. They're surrounded by close friends and family, so they don't really want to see me. And yet they'll feel slighted if I try to sneak by. Argh. This afternoon tea had better be worth it.

- (while eating a slice of the chocolate coffee meringue cake) I'm going to start a new religion solely to worship the creator of this cake!

At the end of the day, I wish every blessing imaginable on RM & BS. And any leftover blessings can go to whoever's responsible for The Cake.

Monday, February 14, 2005


The offering for my latest Festival of Bad Cinema on Friday night was "The Man From Hong Kong". It's an Australian/Hong Kong co-production made in 1974, and one could not ask for a movie that gives a more vivid, chilling portrayal of mid-70s Australia.

If you play the skivvy* drinking game during this movie (ie see a skivvy, take a shot) you will be passed out on the floor before The Man from Hong Kong bags his first bimbo. I do like skivvies; I own two myself. But there's something to be said for not wearing a skin-tight white skivvy when you have pronounced manboobs. There's also something to be said for not wearing buttock-pinching bikini briefs under your tight white bellbottom slacks, thus generating VPL that can be seen from orbit. As for the ladies, apparently wearing a headscarf, enormous sunglasses and a trenchcoat in 1974 meant you were cool, rather than a chemotherapy patient on the run from the law.

In the mid-70s there was a golden window of opportunity for sleazy men everywhere, between the Sexual Revolution of the 60s and the "No Means No" of the 80s, wherein women were taught to say yes to casual sex, without being taught that they didn't have to. Apparently having standards, or even preferences, was a sign of bourgeois frigidity.

Interior Design
Personally I wouldn't recommend having an open fireplace in the centre of your penthouse apartment if you are going to decorate exclusively with lurid orange acrylic velour. The carpet could be burning and you wouldn't even be able to see it. It might also be unwise considering that you have a safe full of explosives next to the conversation pit.

Aerodynamics are for poofters.

Saying 'man' a lot and never washing your hair makes you an edgy denizen of the streets.

Rebecca Gilling crashes her hang glider into The Man from Hong Kong's special forces training facility, then starts giving him grief about his imperialistic war machine and the oppression of the proletariat, while making insensitive race-based remarks. Then she has sex with him.

In short, this movie made me glad I grew up in the 80s. Big-shouldered suits win out over testicle-strangling jeans any day.

*Skivvy = Turtleneck


For a while now I've had issues with the term LOL. The way some people spray it around, you'd think they spend their entire day sitting at their computers, laughing like manic hyenas at email jokes and pictures of kittens photoshopped into amusing situations. Maybe this is the case, but it seems unlikely. I can't imagine there are that many mental institutions where the patients have internet access.

There are grades of meaning with LOL. However it should be noted that, despite appearances, LOL almost never means Laugh Out Loud. So what, then, does it mean? Below are some examples gleaned from the internet, accompanied by a LOL translation, which I hope you will find helpful.

Abby sounds like a cutie. She and Tanner would have a blast together. He's my little musician and could accompany her. Though she might have to share the microphone as he loves to sing too. LOL

LOL Translation - I am smiling as I write this. If I'm the sort of person who scrapbooks, a faint sighing noise distantly related to a laugh may escape my lips.

I have recently acquired a "signed" (in silver and gold pen) Breed Cultura CD album from Ebay (where else lol)

LOL Translation - there is a slight twist to my lips as I write this, which would pass for a transitory moment of amusement on a particularly grim Methodist minister circa 1870.

Cole also phoned while leaving from York, asking me if I was on the way to Ohio and then giving me a twenty questions deal about who I was with, to which I didn't quite answer, lol.

LOL Translation - As I write this, there is a slight upward trend in my internal levity. If it shows on my face, it is fleeting and equivocal.

Are you packed yet? I hate packing, I always pack too much, this time I want to bring lots of goodies back so I need to be good with the packing lol.

LOL Translation - the LOL here actually has no meaning. It could just as easily have been placed anywhere else in the passage. It does not signify laughing out loud, smiling out loud, or feeling slightly less depressed out loud. It means precisely nothing. Eminent theoretical mathematicians are now studying it to learn more about the true nature of zero.

In the interests of contrast, head over to Spirit Fingers' blog. Until I read her I never realised how much desperately stifled workplace chortling hurts.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Earlier today I finished Steppenwolf, which a friend and I are reading for our book club. It's a very resonant novel. When I first read it, about fifteen years ago, it reminded me of me in that its hero was a lover of classical aesthetics trapped in a tidy bourgeois world. That's how I felt, getting away from an isolated, TV-saturated childhood into the poet-quoting, port-swilling, culture-filled world of university. Now, fifteen years later, it reminds me of me in that its hero breaks out of the confines of a classical aesthetic and comes to appreciate to transient beauty and joy in popular culture. That's how I feel, as I've come to realise that if you stick to public broadcasters, classical literature and tweed, you sink into curmudgeonly paralysis and end up despising everyone around you. There's room in life for both the sublime and the ridiculous.

No doubt if I read it again in 2020, it will remind me of me once more, possibly in that its hero stabs his androgynous lover to death while in the grip of a drug-induced hallucination. Or, er, something like that.


There's a comment thread at Troppo Armadillo asking for lists of the best pop/rock songs of the last twenty years. While various people struggle to determine what constitutes 'best', I find myself wondering what constitutes 'pop/rock'. How exactly do you compare songs from different genres when they serve completely different emotive purposes? How do you compare chilling to Tricky's 'Aftermath' and bouncing up and down to 28 Days' 'Say what?'

I decided that my list would be my favourite songs that embody what pop music is supposed to be; bright, broadly appealing, melodic, flawlessly crafted, light-hearted and above all fun. If The Beatles helped to define what a pop song is supposed to be, then these are the songs that carried on their legacy.

Dumb Things - Paul Kelly, 1987
Minority - Green Day, 2000
She's Electric - Oasis, 1995
Get Off - Dandy Warhols, 2002
If I Could Talk I'd Tell You - The Lemonheads, 1996
Cosmic Girl - Jamiroquai, 1997
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar, 1992
Alright - Supergrass, 1995
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet, 2003
Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) - The Offspring, 1998

There were other, more obscure songs I could have included ('Pass It On' by The Coral, 'On Days Like Yours' by Ben & Jason, or even 'Chicken Payback' by The Bees, which is either the greatest stupid pop song ever, or the stupidest great pop song ever). But part of being the best in pop is making it to a mass audience. I think we can all agree that people who try to prove their indier-than-thou cred by filling their Top Ten Best Pop Songs lists with forgotten tracks by obscure artists are wankers. They should be beaten over the head with old Rick Astley albums until they forget the words to every Jesus and Mary Chain song they know.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


In making myself another cup of mediocre coffee at work this afternoon, I wondered, "Why do I keep my espresso machine at home when I'd get so much more use out of it at work?"

The answer is the same as it always is when I ask myself that question. I keep my espresso machine at home because when I get up on a Saturday or Sunday morning, or come home after a night out, and run through all the little gestures of tamping and frothing and pouring, then sit down with a latte or macchiato or affogatto, it pleasantly burnishes my whole day. It's like yoga. I couldn't bear to lose that.

Also, if we're being honest, my workplace is a very quiet and composed environment, and my espresso machine makes noises like a duck giving birth to a submarine. I can just see what would happen:

My boss (on the phone, using soft telephone voice): I assure you, Mr Bigwig, this department maintains the highest professional standards, and we will get to work on your project with all of our customary discretion and efficiency.
Mr Bigwig: Is that a duck giving birth to a submarine in your office?

Monday, February 07, 2005


Notes from seeing the Daniel Susnjar Quartet at the Hyde Park Hotel, Monday February 7th 2005, as recorded on the back of a Dewson’s receipt I found in my wallet.

Before they even play a note, points off for indulging in my Pet Hate of Jazz – not dressing up. Time was when jazz musicians of every stripe wore suits, unless they were chanteuses, in which case they wore slinky cocktail dresses. Half of these guys are wearing T-shirts, for goodness sakes! They look like they just came in from working on the car. I’m wearing a suit, and I’m not even the one who’s getting paid for this gig!

The keyboard player does little hip thrusts as he plays… presumably to keep in the groove. This is disconcerting in a slobby, overweight, middle-aged man. He looks like a large, slightly drunk, slightly annoyed hobbit.

The bass guitarist is a guy in his early twenties, with one of those fashionable massive fringes that sweeps across his entire forehead like a tsunami of hair. It’s like his eyebrows hold some terrible secret and must be kept hidden at all costs. He demonstrates great virtuosity by playing more notes than can usually be crammed into a single solo, but I’m not impressed. Playing like that is like memorising and reciting pi to two hundred places or building scale replicas of famous landmarks out of popsicle sticks – it’s very clever, but what the hell is the point?

The drummer, who looks like a computer nerd, cuts sick at irregular intervals, generating cries of “Woo!” in the audience, presumably from other drummers and his mother.

The trumpeter is good, and has less of a tendency to vanish up his own arse. You know where you are with a trumpet. You can’t dither with one. You can’t mumble in the background with a trumpet. This is why the cavalry announces the charge with a trumpet and not a xylophone.

In summation, points for talent (present in spades) and points for passion (I can tell you care). But no points for sensuality, because you have none. You’re all about the rhythm and not at all about the melody. This is what you get for being led by your drummer.

Also you’re too loud. And my second gin and tonic tastes of aniseed. I took it back but the new one they brought me was just the same. And my chair is too slidey.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


We Christians are not terrorists. Few people harbour concerns that, while traveling on a bus, the Baptist next to them might suddenly scream, "There is no God but Jehovah!" and explode. Nor do they fear kidnappings and beheadings by Presbyterian death squads, unless they are Philip Adams, and they've just smoked some bad crack.

But neither are we entirely impotent when it comes to dealing with antagonistic powers. Indeed, some of us are busily undermining the structure of oppressive regimes, like veritable little Termites For Jesus. Witness the mad skillz of the North Korean church, as outlined in The Times.

And since this is my first attempt to link to anything, please forgive me if it totally fails.