Wednesday, November 30, 2005


In an interesting departure from our usual fare, last night we watched one of the original community television versions of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The movie was 'Phase IV', a film about yet another war between man and ant. It was made in 1974, and thus inevitably results in everyone being dead or enslaved by the end of the film. Honestly, it's amazing that we made it to the 80s with such remorseless nihilism on every cinema screen. No wonder Star Wars did so well in 1977 - it was the only film that decade to have most of the cast still free and breathing by the closing credits.

The movie featured a lot of very long, unnarrated scenes of ants scurrying about on their anty business, and the print JC downloaded from the Digital Archive Project was badly pixilated and blurry, so half the time we felt like we were watching a collabrative project made by Ed Wood and Andy Warhol.

Also, being made in 1974, it was rather loose with the concept of plot. Apparently an alignment of the planets, which has been used to explain everything from World War III to the success of Steve Guttenberg, has this time caused ants to forgo their interspecies conflicts and unite to form a better, antier world. Woe to any humans, such as scientists Lesko and Hobbs, who get in their way.

Lesko and Hobbs have a fighting chance, however, because along with increased intelligence, the ants have also developed a taste for methods of killing so baroque that they would shame a James Bond villain. Rather than just swarming into the scientists' geodesic dome en masse and eating them, the ants build a circle of mica-based mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the dome, raising the temperature within to uncomfortable but not fatal levels! The fiends! Faced with such villainy, the scientists use sound waves to damage the mirrors, rather than just, say, running outside in sturdy boots and kicking them over.

In due course Lesko (who is young and American and therefore good) and Hobbs (who is old and British and therefore bad) are joined by Kendra, a young woman whose main role seems to be as a human display stand for some long, lustrous hippie hair and a pair of frayed bellbottoms. In the end she and Lesko are the only characters to survive, and there is an implication that they will be forced to endure many hours of joyless, passionless sex according to the inscrutable will of their new ant masters.

Pehaps Lesko for one welcomes his new insect overlords. We don't know. We don't see his face in the final scene, but his slumped posture suggests that he's tired already.

The KTMA MST3Ks look like rather bad fan versions of the later episodes, largely because of the inexperienced actors, total lack of budget, and the fact that Mike Nelson had not yet joined the writing team. Crow looks like a bug-eyed proto version of himself, but Servo is just weird; he has the wrong colour, the wrong voice, the wrong height, the wrong movements and the wrong attitude. He's not so much the 'well-read chick magnet' as the 'barely-animate fire hydrant'. And Gypsy just looks ghoulish.

ktma versions of crow, joel and servo

Still, there were some nice lines, even if they were not as rapid fire as they would later become. A favourite from Crow:

"That ant looks kinda thin. Must be a carpenter ant."

Ba boom tish.


Newsflash! Poverty causes good parenting!

THE new Harry Potter movie opens this week and millions of Australian children will be excited to go.

Others, such as six-year-old Ben-John Holmes, and his eight-year-old brother, Daniel, who are really big fans of the boy wizard, will have to sit at home because their mum can't afford a ticket.

The new Harry Potter movie is rated M. If poverty forces single mums* to refrain from taking their 6 year olds to M rated movies, then I say hooray for poverty!

*'Single mums' are different to single mothers or mothers who are single. The proper pronunciation is to adopt a broad, nasal, Kath 'n' Kim Australian accent, with a rising intonation at the end of each clause, as in, "Oim a single mum? an' these are me kids, Jaydyn an' Shakeera?"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


On Saturday morning JC and I went to Milkd in North Perth. You may remember that I mentioned it in this entry, revelling in the most pretentious promotional blurb ever to be committed to paper.

A coffee, a window in time to call your own.

A memorable coffee describes itself beyond the cup in hand; rather, we measure a coffee by its experience, its ceremony, the delectable character of its ritual.

No other act can define the day so artfully, or draw it to an end in such casual repose.

Milkd believes in the consecration of the coffee ambience, and understands it takes more than the bean to set the scene.

A Milkd Barista upholds the spirit of this moment, priding in the articulation of your coffee, your service, the perfection of your moment in time – no matter how you take it.

Rediscover coffee culture, have coffee with Milkd.

After the build-up from the flyer, I was expecting a large, airy establishment with lots of wide, glossy surfaces, and so much swank that my commoner arse would be repelled from the furniture like magnetic levitation. I was expecting waiters who regard you with lofty, resigned ennui, as if you’re just another barrier between them and the Dandy Warhols clip they’re supposed to be in. I was expecting to see people sprawled out, reading Camus novels, talking quietly with attractive Significant Others, or just luxuriating in the perfection of their moment in time.

However what we got was a tiny shopfront barely wider than a hallway, and so cluttered with chairs, tables and customers that there wasn’t really much space for a person to read the newspaper or work on a laptop, let alone sit in casual repose and quietly enjoy the consecration of the coffee ambience.

We got some menus from the front counter, which featured a lot of double spaced, sans serif fonts and long, complicated descriptions of things which ordinary folk refer to as “jam on toast” or “eggs on toast”. We ordered our coffees (and some long-winded fruit bread) from what appeared to be the owner - a loud, aggressively informal woman wearing too much make-up - and eventually managed to get a table, by donning our pith helmets, hiring a native guide, and strenuously elbowing our way through throngs of lesbians, who for some reason seemed to be all over the place.

I’ve got to be honest – I don’t get along with most lesbians. I try to live and let live, but they just always seem to be angry with me, or at the very least miffed. Coming into their presence bearing a y chromosome is apparently like committing some sort of hate crime, the equivalent of going to a Bar Mitzvah wearing a swastika. And these ones were no exception. There were a couple of occasions in which they had to speak to me, to ask me to move my bag or if I was using an empty chair, and I could sense them gritting their teeth and fighting down their disdain as they did so. “Must… come… into… contact… with… male. Must… fight… anger… against… his… complicity… in… global… patriarchy. And… his… lack… of… oestrogen…”

And they were noisy, boisterous lesbians, who seemed to spend very little time wallowing in the delectable character of the coffee ritual and a lot of time shrieking like camped-up drag queens and kissing each other on the cheeks, when not ‘accidentally’ elbowing JC in the head. I suppose this is what one gets when visiting a café jammed between the gay ghettos of Leederville and Mt Lawley, but there were gay men there too, and they seemed to be able to keep their window in time to call one’s own to themselves. I say get your act together, girls, and fight the phallocentric orthodoxy with a bit of decorum!

As for the coffee, which, after all, was supposed to be the point, it was actually a little less robust than I usually like. But that probably just demonstrates my lack of refinement. I’ve been drinking incorrectly articulated coffee for so long, I don’t appreciate the proper stuff when I taste it.

Friday, November 25, 2005


One sees disturbing things in the hospital corridors. Patients with missing limbs. Disfiguring skin conditions. Kitsch-encrusted teddy bears in the gift shop. And, worst of all, old people attire, like that sported by a bloke I saw in the newsagency this afternoon.

Pinkish short-sleeved cotton shirt: fair enough. Dark cotton shorts: reasonable. West Coast Eagles footy socks with shiny black leather dress shoes: sweet merciful crap.

How does this happen? How does a man reach his 50s and not learn that this is about as acceptable as opening a halfway house for paedophiles next to a kindergarten? I mean, I guess there must be people who don't realise that this is more wrong than putting barbecue sauce on sashimi, but they generally don't have access to shiny black leather dress shoes. They tend to buy their footwear at the supermarket.

I just can't figure it out. Under what circumstances did this man leave the house so shod? He was too young for dementia, and too old for hipster forays into anti-fashion. I'm struggling to come up with possible scenarios.

1) Maybe his wife was in the hospital and he was so overcome with grief and stress that he couldn't find socks that matched his shirt or shoes that matched his socks.

2) Maybe he was abused as a child by rampaging fashionistas, and this is his sick way of fighting back.

3) Maybe he has multiple personalities - a businessman, a labourer, some sort of bourgeois Target shopper - and this morning they just all wanted to have their say.

4) Maybe all of his matching shoe and sock combinations were stolen by scurrilous Lithuanian sneaker smugglers and sock merchants.

5) Maybe he was visiting Ben Cousins (down in Otolaryngology being treated for cocaine-induced nasal leakage) and he wanted to be encouraging, but these socks were the only Eagles-themed clothing he had. Wait, that still wouldn't explain the shoes. Dang.

6) The universe hates me and wants to cause me pain.

Additional theories would be welcomed in comments.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I sometimes wonder why I like my scooter so much. It's running like a dream after having its seized piston repaired, but now the battery is dying, and the speedometer cable has snapped... again. Neither of these problems stops me from riding it - the kickstart works a treat, and it's not like I need to watch in case I break the speed limit - but they're sort of annoying.

Part of me wants to trade up to a classier machine. I forgot to put my helmet on yesterday, and I noticed that the motor sounded like an enraged wasp trapped in an aluminium Coke can. Once I put the helmet on, covering my ears in a thick layer of foam padding, the engine note dropped about fourteen octaves to the sound I usually hear - that of a contented lawnmower.

And it didn't help that as I was riding home, I hit a speedhump a little too hard and one of the indicators fell off. It clipped right back on (once I found it again), but still, it's not something you'd expect would happen with one of these.

I'm also starting to get a little peeved by the prevailing attitude at the motorbike repair place. I stopped by last Saturday, and was told to return on Wednesday when they had more time. I duly went there after work on Wednesday, and a flunky diagnosed the snapped speedometer cable. I was told to come back next Wednesday, since they'd have to order a new one in. All of these statements were delivered in an airy tone that insinuated that they couldn't be expected to treat me like a proper customer until I grew a biker beard, a beer gut, and a 500cc Kawasaki.

I appreciate that the scooter isn't a real motorbike. I do realise that it's an idiot-proof plastic toy cleverly styled to look like a much more expensive (and better built) Italian classic. I also concede that I am incapable of doing the manly thing and repairing it myself via some ancestral memory of basic mechanical engineering. But I don't think that's any reason to treat me dismissively. Your hearts may be in the Ducatis and Harley Davidsons in the showroom, my friends, but don't pretend that these laughable little motorscooters aren't selling like hotcakes and generating a significant portion of your income. Begrudging your prosperity because it comes from less than exalted sources is very tacky.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Down at the coffee shop this morning, I saw a woman. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I witnessed a woman, since women like this are an event; once seen, never forgotten.

Her hair, once brown at some point two or three inches into the past, was bleached blonde with all the naked savagery modern chemistry can muster. It was either damp or heavily saturated in gel, probably to keep it from splintering like a collection of cheap matchsticks.

She wore a sheer pink blouse which, through some miracle of tailoring, simultaneously managed to float like gossamer, and yet clung to each of the luxuriant rolls of fat that were stacked like terraces down the sides of her body.

Distressed hipster jeans, in all senses of the word, were paired with cork-heeled platforms to complete the look. And to bring this ensemble to vivid life, she was screeching to her recalcitrant child, who was loitering somewhere further down the corridor and thus impeding his mother's progress to the hot chip counter.

Throughout the ages artists have used their talent to capture the essence of women in a way that their models could not do themselves. This woman, however, had managed to take her own essence and bring it up to the surface and beyond, broadcasting it out to the world at large, with a raw semiotic power that even the greatest artist could never muster.

I was so overcome by her unswerving dedication to self-expression that I had to avert my gaze and flee, lest I become overwhelmed by the urge to break into unseemly but well-deserved applause.


If you're a fan of Halflife 2 (or even if like me you've only played Halflife 1), then frankly, it's time to get concerned.

Any web comic that blends beautifully rendered graphics, humanity's imminent extinction, gamer in-jokes and Ferris Bueller references is worth following.


I've finally found the time, inclination and html to put a links list on my sidebar. From there you can travel to the farthest corners of the internet... or at least the farthest corners of blogspot. All are recommended.

For a lark, see if you can find:

- the one who got me into Halfday.

- the one who's slowly working his way through the professions of the Village People (police officer, soldier, construction worker... any day now I expect him to announce his acceptance into the Iroquoi nation).

- the one who decided that he couldn't say everything he wanted to say in eight blogs, so he got himself a ninth.

- the one whose turn-ons include world domination, impregnable fortresses and getting caught in the rain, and turn-offs include James Bond, non-alcoholic drinks and clog-dancing elves.

and last, but by no means least:

- the one who wishes to be henceforth known as 'Slick Rick'.

Monday, November 21, 2005


The Church Coffee Queue, Sunday 20 November 2005

Thanks for a great sermon on fasting, pastor.

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Although to be honest I was a little surprised when you urged the congregation to resist the lure of the Golden Triangle.

Ha ha ha. Yes, I was hoping you wouldn't notice that. I meant the Golden Arches. Sorry.

No no, it needed to be said. I believe that taking an occasional break from heroin can be very good for your spiritual life. I plan to try it next week.

That's the spirit!

Friday, November 18, 2005


Join me on the red carpet for The First Annual MySpace Stupid Haircut Awards!

I'm placing my money on Otanno.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I went out to Sparrow Indonesian Restaurant in Northbridge last night. It's famous in certain circles for a variety of reasons:

1) It's pious. We Christians are an insular lot. Show us a restaurant with blockmounted pictures from the "Bible verses superimposed on sunsets and forest glades" school on the wall, and we'll flock like Trekkies to a Shatner book signing.

2) It's comfy. It's one of those establishments where the owner, a jocular little man of indeterminate age, can put his fingers in his mouth, emit a piercing whistle to silence the restaurant, then announce that it's some excruciatingly embarassed teenaged girl's birthday and lead the entire crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday.

3) It's ugly. Light fixtures missing half their bulbs, installed around 1982. Plastic pot plants that are about as realistic as 'Desperate Housewives'. Steel-framed chairs with apple-green vinyl upholstery. Chipped white laminated tables. Shopping centre art. I asked my neighbour, a commercial interior designer, what he thought. But by that point I think he'd lost the power of speech.

4) It's cheap. So, so cheap. I looked at the menu and the prices warmed my cold, miserly heart. I had rice cakes with vegetables in a satay sauce, marinated minute steak and beef and potato balls. I ate until the weight of my swollen stomach pressing against my lungs made breathing difficult. Everyone else did the same. The total cost, including drinks, for nine hungry people was $100.

5) It's delicious. Enough said.


Ah, 1958's black & white classic 'Night Of The Blood Beast'. Or as I like to call it, 'The Film That Even Roger Corman Had Better Things To Do Than Make'.

The Characters

Johnny - NASA pilot who dies, then comes back to life as broody as a mother hen. It could have something to do with the giant pulsating shrimp gestating in his chest cavity.

NBB - Johnny

Synchronised Shrimp Throbbing in the 1958 Olympics.

Julie - Johnny's fiance, who doesn't seem overly perturbed either by his death or his resurrection.

Donna - NASA photographer and brain donor for Jessica Simpson.

NBB - Julie and Donna

C'mon Julie, do the Mashed Potato!

Steve - Man of action, trapped in a film without any.

Dave - Spare Steve, in case the lack of action gets too much for one man to handle.

Dr Wyman - Requisite professorial type, who gets his face eaten off.

NBB - Dr Wyman

I'm sorry, your fiance is dead. So, you seeing anyone?

Beast - Alien with a parrot-shaped papier mache head that looks like it was stolen from a tropical-themed gay pride parade float.

NBB - Beast

Polly wanna cracker... NOW!

The Plot

Beast kills people, people kill Beast, cycle of violence goes on. May be seen as an allegory for Israeli and Palestinian struggles for self-determination and coexistance. But isn't.

The Set

Apparently budget cutbacks have reduced NASA to operating out of a remote, half-derelict building, with a truck on loan from The Beverley Hillbillies.

The Special Effects

About on a par with 'Voyage To The Moon'. Which would have been great, if 'Voyage To The Moon' hadn't been made in 1902.

The Outcome

Pain, suffering and humiliation. But on the plus side, only an hour in length. And it did give John Baer the resume-padding he needed to score a role in 1967's 'Bikini Paradise'. Hubba hubba.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


In a marathon effort last night, I cleaned my bedroom. Normally it's not so much a bedroom as a storm-tossed ocean of abandoned clothes and papers, so cleaning it required several hours, three loads of washing, and my remarkable impression of Moses parting the Red Sea.

The result was so, well, unique that I thought I'd better capture the scene for posterity. I also decided to begin an occasional series called The World of Blandwagon. Or more accurately, The Grainy, Slightly Out-of-Focus World of Blandwagon. Installment I: The Blandwagian Bedroom.


And people wonder why I never get lucky.

I'm sorry, but I like skulls. They're cool. The charcoal drawing on the wall is based on a lamb skull on display in the living room.

Let us focus on some of the less orthopaedic elements of the decor.


The big one is an expensive designer toy, the sort of thing purchased by cool kids who went to art school and drive Citroens and know how to DJ. His little friends are Digimons that I got cheap at the supermarket.


I call the man in the blue shirt Beatnik Hipster Dad. He's the Father doll from an Ikea set, and he's got that groovy little hipster goatee, the retro black-framed glasses, gently spiked hair and white designer sneakers. You just know that he's an architect, and listens to vintage Bessie Smith jazz records. And of course he speaks perfect idiomatic English with a cool Swedish accent.

His mount is a pit bull-shaped radio. The spaceman came from the supermarket. I get a lot of crap from the supermarket.


Apparently the phone line running into my house can't support this phone if the three other ones are all plugged in. So for the moment it's simply for show, waiting either for Telstra to improve the line, or for me to move to a more telecommunicationally robust house.

Sometimes I dial it anyway, just to get the tactile flashback to my childhood.


And then, to get rid of anyone who isn't put off by the skulls - Johnny Cash on the bedroom door. How much do I love this picture.


From a flyer for a new North Perth café:

A coffee, a window in time to call your own.

A memorable coffee describes itself beyond the cup in hand; rather, we measure a coffee by its experience, its ceremony, the delectable character of its ritual.

No other act can define the day so artfully, or draw it to an end in such casual repose.

Milkd believes in the consecration of the coffee ambience, and understands it takes more than the bean to set the scene.

A Milkd Barista upholds the spirit of this moment, priding in the articulation of your coffee, your service, the perfection of your moment in time – no matter how you take it.

Rediscover coffee culture, have coffee with Milkd.

One day soon I will walk into Milkd and ask the staff about the consecration of the coffee ambience, then send my cappuccino back claiming insufficient articulation, and suggest they check the steam nozzle.

I predict I will be rewarded with either a) expressions of utter, untrammelled confusion, or b) rolled eyes and mutters of, “Oh great, another wanker who’s read the flyer.”

Monday, November 14, 2005


Hurrah! My city is holding the Perth Writers Festival in February 2006!

Words cannot express my esteem for Writers Festivals. It's a festival of writing! Hundreds of people, sitting at rows of desks, quietly beavering away at novels, poems and essays! All the fun and smell of a high school exam, without the distracting element of youth! Brilliant! I can't wait!

Update: Upon further investigation, I have discovered that a Writers Festival is not a festival of writing, apparently. It is a festival of talking, in much the same way that a Music Festival involves sitting around talking about music, and a Harvest Festival consists of lengthy panel discussions about pumpkins. Sorry for the confusion.

Update Update: Additional research has revealed that Music Festivals are in fact about people playing music, and Harvest Festivals are about people growing food. I really don't understand why Writers Festivals aren't about writing. Perhaps it's a marketing thing - Writers Festival sounds a lot more highbrow than Whining Ratbags Who Bitch Incessantly About How Everyone Is Less Enlightened Than They Are, & Also George W Bush Is The Anti-Christ Festival. That would explain it.


In the course of a busy weekend, it was unavoidable that I was going to have to do some cleaning. The living room rug was getting crunchy again, and I had a bit of a Catholic moment when I thought I saw the face of the Madonna in the grime on the tiles behind the hotplates.

I don't like vacuuming. It's noisy and there's no way, short of hefting all the furniture back and forth, to get the all the dust, dead spiders and bits of lost danish from those tricky little niches around table legs and lamp bases. But when I do vacuum, I go at it with all the manly gusto I can muster. It's a good thing I do, because that ingrained dirt needs some work to shift. I was ripping the vacuum cleaner back and forth on the rug, causing it to ripple and shiver like a newly washed dog, and throwing up little clouds of loose dust. After a few moments of that, the area around the rug looked like a miniature snowstorm had passed through the room at ankle level.

But I got there in the end. Apparently parts of the rug are actually white, not beige. Who knew?

In a moment of madness, I decided to clean the top of the rangehood as well. I like to think that I'm a pretty healthful cook, so I'm at a loss to explain exactly how that much grease and general disgusting oily goo accumulated up there. Perhaps The Flatmate has been deep frying whole dugongs while I'm out. I tried Spray 'n' Wipe, which did absolutely nothing, and then Jif, which did almost absolutely nothing. Then I found some Instant Sugar Soap in the cupboard. I don't know how it got there, but then that's nothing new. My mother often leaves strange cleaning fluids in my cupboards, like a hygienist version of a missionary leaving Gideon's Bibles in hotel rooms.

I read the label, which pronounced it suitable for rangehoods. I sprayed it on, left it on for a few seconds, then wiped it off with a paper towel. The effect was remarkable. The grease and dust came away like magic. As did the printed labels on the light and fan switches, and the Westinghouse logo on the lower left corner.

It seems a shame that the next owner of my house will have to use trial and error to learn which switch does what on my rangehood, and its manufacturer will be a mystery for all time. Still, it could be worse - at least I don't have the deluxe model with the 'Self-Destruct' or 'Vote For The Greens' buttons.


Friday night saw MST3K-a-go-go in my living room, with 'Warrior of the Lost World' and 'Teenagers from Outer Space'.

'Warrior of the Lost World' was made in 1985, and featured the guy from the TV show 'Paperchase' and the bald chick from 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture'. It was made in Italy (trying to pass for somewhere in California, with all the success of Michael Jackson trying to insist that his deathly pallor is a medical condition) and had the sort of amorphous plotting that made Ed Wood his fortune.

The Paperchase guy had apparently been told to be like Marlon Brando in 'The Wild Ones' for this role, which he took to mean wear a leather jacket, grow some stubble, ride a motorcycle and mumble incoherently. The motorcycle was a high-tech talking machine named 'Einstein', I guess because it was supposed to have the same IQ as Albert Einstein, which seems about right, given that in 1985 Albert had been dead for thirty years. It had the sort of delightful voice and engaging user interface that made everyone cheer when it got crushed by a monstertruck.

The bald chick from Star Trek gave the impression that she knew she had squandered her big break, and was regarding this film as her penance. Perhaps she thought she could do the filmic equivalent of saying three Hail Marys and then get offered a role by Lasse Hallstrom. Or maybe she just thought, "I'm doing a film with Donald Pleasance. From here things can only get better." Either way, it was a grim business.

To truly appreciate the awfulness of this film, one need only compare it to 'Teenagers From Outer Space'. The latter was low-budget 1950s matinee-fodder, and even so it had better costumes, a more coherent plot, nicer sets and a hero who could enuciate. Plus a giant killer space lobster! I had a soft spot for this film even before the MST3K boys riffed it up.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I've been following the reports of "unrest" in France, as I'm sure everyone has. However my interest at this point is more sociological than political.

It seems that, like the mania for donating to charity following the Asian Tsunami, the riots in France are a fad. It's the latest cool x-treme sport, like a more destructive, less physically taxing version of parkour. That's why the violence has spread beyond Paris into the provincial cities, and from there out into neighbouring countries. I suspect it's not a disaffected Muslim thing any more; it's now a race to follow the Cool Kids, to grab a piece of that elusive urban ghetto-chic. If we don't see arson attacks across Europe by the end of the week, I'll be very surprised. These fads do travel quickly.

Either that, or it's all a conspiracy by French used car dealers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I had to drop off some papers at our central city office early this morning. The building is eight stories tall and has parking for maybe 15 cars, with no spaces for deliveries or visitors. I whipped into the space nearest the doors and ran the papers up to our office. I was back down again in less than three minutes.

Nevertheless, there was a car lurking behind mine when I returned. As I unlocked my door, the lumpy 50-something woman in the other car said, in a tone containing equal parts smug moral superiority, thinly-veiled hostility, over-dramatic suffering and common-or-garden impatience, "Hello; that's MY space."

My reply was one of the following:

1) And I love what you've done with it. Who's your decorator?

2) It looks just like you! You must be very proud.

3) According to Buddhist concept of wu ji, all ownership is an illusion. So bite me.

4) Crikey! Who'd you have to sleep with to get one of these spaces? Wait... don't answer that.

5) Go to hell, you revolting old slag.

6) OK.

Guess which one I used? Sheesh. If I was any worse at thinking on my feet, I'd be unable to walk in a straight line.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Thanks to an administrative cock-up at Telstra, and the generosity of my friend JB, I now have a mobile phone.

The story runs as follows:

Telstra offered JB a free phone if he joined their plan.

JB accepted.

Telstra changed their mind and said he wasn't going to get a free phone.

JB yelled at them.

Telstra offered him a cash-back instead, which he could spend, if he so desired, on a new phone.

JB, wise man that he is, waited until he had the money.

Telstra gave him the money.

JB bought a new phone.

Someone at Telstra who wasn't speaking to someone else at Telstra sent him a new phone.

So JB gave the phone to me, since I don't have one. I've resisted getting one for the simple reason that I don't really need one. I have landline phones at home and work, and I like to think that I'm well-organised enough that I can actually arrange to meet you at a certain place at a certain time without having to play a telecommunications version of Marco Polo, thusly;

Where are you?

I'm on the mezzanine. Where are you?

I'm in the foyer.

Okay, I'll come and meet you. I've reached the escalator.

The one near the car park?

No, the one under the skylight.

I can see it, but I can't see you.

I've just stepped off it. I'm in front of the fountain.

What fountain?

And so on and so forth. Sometimes I think that if Alexander Graham Bell had known that one day the chief use for the descendants of his invention would be for people to call each other and explain that they were on a bus, he might have concentrated on inventing the Playstation instead.

However, I take this free phone as a sign that it's time to stop being a curmudgeonly luddite. I've always been mindful that I shouldn't allow 'lack of need' to evolve into 'refuse to adopt'. Mobile phone technology has reached a stage wherein most people have to change gears to deal with the fact that a person doesn't have one, rather than change gears to deal with a person who does. When everyone expects you to have a mobile, it's probably time to get one. There's a difference between ignoring a socio-technological development and actively avoiding it.

So I have my little Motorola C131. It's tiny. It weighs so little that at first I thought it was missing its battery. The keys have a cheap feel about them, and its ring tones are either offensively hokey versions of great symphonies or shrill chirps that could crack window glass. There's no camera, no facilties for downloading ring tones or wallpapers, no Bluetooth, no i-mode, no colour screen, no polyphonics, no games worthy of the name, no bits that slide out or flip open... in short, probably the perfect first mobile phone.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


My Golf and my scooter are now back with me, both working delightfully thanks to nothing more than me throwing almost fourteen hundred dollars at their respective problems.

I collected the Golf on Thursday evening. I walked in at the same time as a man wearing a purple business shirt and a matching tie, with the sort of discreet hair gelling that suggests someone who began in sales and found that it worked for him very, very nicely... the sort of very, very nicely that lands one in the red Ferrari I'd noticed the previous day.

To their credit, the chipper Swiss-German mechanics didn't shun me and fall over each other to attend to him. But there was a slight, almost imperceptible difference in attitude. He was driving a car that most mechanics would like to get down on their knees and lick. I was driving an eleven year old Golf. He was a member of the Brotherhood of the Fine Automobile. I am a member of the Society for Small Mass-Produced Volkswagens. You can't blame the mechanics - they're only human.

I picked up the scooter the following evening. I'd phoned earlier that afternoon, asking if it was ready, and the mechanic had given me a bright, "Yes, it's ready for you now!" as if he'd come running out of the garage to answer the phone, having just tightened the last bolt.

I'd been tempted to shout, "Liar! It's been sitting there fixed for the last three days! I saw it from the window of the BUS I was forced to take! You were supposed to call me when it was ready!" But I didn't. Good thing too, as I exhausted all his goodwill when I picked it up, and innocently asked if there was a warranty on the repairs.

The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees. Birds singing in the trees outside fell silent. Then I learnt a few things:

1) He'd been repairing motorcycles for sixteen years.

2) He'd given me a good deal on the repairs to my scooter.

3) He could give me a written warranty IF I REALLY WANTED IT.

None of this information was delivered in a raised voice, but there was a certain tone, a certain posture, certain lack of eye contact, that suggested I had cast aspersions on the very core of his identity.

My inner vituperator wanted to shout, "Oh come on, it's a fair question! I'm parting with my hard-earned cash here! So the scooter's working again; what do you want, flowers and a muffin basket?" Fortunately a wise inner voice (or more likely just mental inertia) counselled against it.


gekko tattoo

I call this 'Temporary Gecko with Disappointing Magazine (Nov '05 Issue)'.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Last night JC and AB came over to watch the MST3K version of 1959's Attack of the Giant Leeches. Given that title and the name 'Roger Corman', you can pretty much work out for yourselves what it entailed. Yep, you guessed it; extras in ornamented garbage bags menacing dimwitted actors for eighty minutes. Still, plenty of laughs for a trio of 21st century kitsch-addicts with too much time on their hands.

Afficianados of this form of cinema (known in the industry as 'crap') will probably have noticed that there were only three basic title forms for this genre in the 1950s and 60s:

1) Noun of the Adjective Noun

2) Noun of the Noun Noun

3) Noun from Adjective Noun

Number 1 covers Revenge of the Astro Zombies, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Night of the Living Dead, Attack of the 50ft Woman, and so on. Each part of the title was important. The producers suspected that no one would want to see Toothbrushes of the Living Dead, Attack of the Magnanimous Leeches, or Revenge of the Astro Squirrels.

As it turns out, I for one would pay good money to see Revenge of the Astro Squirrels, but then I probably represent a baised focus sample.

Number 2 covers Track of the Moon Beast, Night of the Blood Monster, and too many more to mention. It's worth noting that in a Noun of the Noun Noun title, the actual order of the nouns is largely irrelevant. Night of the Blood Monster was not going to attract an appreciably larger audience than Blood of the Night Monster, Monster of the Blood Night or Night of the Monster Blood. The nouns themselves, however, are important. Go into the cinema and swap Track of the Moon Beast with Adventures of the Cupcake Elves or Land of the Rainbow Puppies and you'd be likely to have a riot on your hands.

Number 3 covers Creature from the Black Lagoon, Terror from Green Hell, Teenagers from Outer Space and Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The first noun is always something scary and evil (Beasts, Terrors, Teenagers, Donatella Versace, etc). The third noun provides a distant, dangerous location (a lagoon, Hell, space, an Ikea store on a Saturday morning, etc). The second noun is the most subtle, as it adds that extra frisson of fear. It's not just any lagoon; it's the BLACK lagoon! The teenagers aren't just from space; they're from OUTER space! Donatella Versace isn't just at an Ikea store; she's at YOUR Ikea store! RIGHT NOW! AND SHE'S BROUGHT A FRIEND!

;oaib mjipjbftbhip dlf

Sorry, I momentarily passed out with fear onto the keyboard. Some things are just too terrifying to contemplate.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Australia’s most famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, has been won for an unprecedented third time in a row by six year old mare Makybe Diva.

It is interesting to contrast this historic win with a small protest that occurred at the same time, in Melbourne’s Federation Square. The severed head of a horse was used as the centrepiece of a demonstration against horse racing by activists Respect For Horses. Of course exactly how respect is demonstrated by parading about with a bodypart from some anonymous nag isn’t immediately apparent, but no doubt it made sense to them.

What they fail to understand, however, is that people don’t get far in the racing industry without a love and respect for horses. Horse racing is really one gigantic lovefest for a certain species of large, sensitive, temperamental mammal. No one who witnessed the reaction of Makybe Diva’s jockey, Glen Boss, recorded after his (and her) win could honestly believe that he did not respect and even adore his horse.

The sad truth, for well-intentioned animal liberationists at least, is that jockeys, trainers and strappers love horses. They just have a more practical way of showing it.


I wrote a long post yesterday on how much I hate Hillsong music, largely inspired by having to sing this awful piece of whiny, droning earnestness in church on Sunday morning. It's ugly and sub-literate and doesn't so much flow as worry around the same note, like a suicidal moth pinging against a porch light. Far from making me feel worshipful, it made me feel like strangling someone.

In yesterday's long post, I tried to explain exactly why I hated it, but when push comes to shove, I just don't know enough about the mechanics of music to offer an informed opinion. I know it's dreadful; I just don't know why it's dreadful. So the post has been consigned to the recycle bin of cyberhistory.

But I still hate Hillsong. To think that Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest composers of the last thousand years, wrote hundreds of pious cantatas that have thrilled people for centuries, and yet we chose to sing tuneless dreck written by second-rate hacks in Sydney.

It need scarcely be said that if Bach were alive today, I doubt he would be writing for Hillsong Music. I think he would in fact be writing against them, such would be his mortification. We would have Bach's Backwards Mass for Satan in G Minor, written simply to distance himself from them.

So in conclusion; Hillsong - not my favourite artistes.