Wednesday, August 30, 2006


My fellow blogger Phaedrus has declared a fondness for an album by a certain heavy metal band, and apparently, no one is more surprised than him. He came to laugh, but ended up humming along.

For myself, I just can't get past the band's name. I can only imagine what the conversation was like prior to its adoption.

Cue wavy lines and the sound of someone strumming a harp...

Band Member 1: Okay guys, we've got the lineup and we're doing our first gig soon. The big question remains; what are we going to call ourselves?

Band Member 2: We need something that says "screaming guitars" and "extreme speed metal". Something that says we have a pentagram and we're not afraid to use it.

Band Member 3: 'Decapitation'!

BM1: Well, it's good, but it's a bit close to 'The Decapitated'. You know, those guys from Poland?

BM2: What about 'Necromicron'?

BM1: I like it. Definitely in the Possibility pile. What else?

BM3: 'Satan's Stink'.

BM1: Well... it's okay. We might have trouble getting Wal-Mart to carry our albums though. We've got to think ahead.

BM3: 'Massacre'!

BM1: No, Randy over in Portland is already using it.

BM3: Okay then, 'The Massacrers'.

BM1: Er...

BM3: 'Total Massacre'!

BM1: Better. Much better.

BM2: 'Neverending Torment'?

BM1: Hmmm... might backfire if we get a bad review. You know, "No band is more appropriately named than 'Neverending Torment'."

BM2: Okay, what about 'Bloodmark'?

BM1: Yes! I like it. I like it a lot. What about you, Dennis? You got any ideas?

Dennis: I think we should call ourselves 'Dragonforce'.


BM1: Er... what?

Dennis: 'Dragonforce'.

BM2: Dude, that sounds like a bad Japanese cartoon from the early 80s.

BM3: Yeah. Like we all have eyes the size of saucers and battle each other with pogs or transformers or something.

Dennis: But...

BM1: Sorry, man, but no way. It's the sort of thing a 12 year old would write on his pencil case.

BM2: If we're going to go down that path, why not just call ourselves 'The Pink Unicorns' and give up on ever getting laid again, ever.

Dennis: Well screw you guys! Just remember whose Dad gave us the money for the amps! It's Dragonforce, or I'm taking the van and going home!


BM1: Dragonforce it is, then.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Once I have this chair, all I'll need is an atomic bomb, a fluffy white cat, and a chance to say, "Ah, Mr Bond; welcome to my underground lair... and your doom!"

I should also practice my evil laugh.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Long-term readers will know that when it comes to eating out, my experiences tend to be less than stellar. They look at the clues, such as when I prayed for a restaurant to be smited from the earth, or when I contemplated strangling a chef, and conclude one of two things. Either I am living in a gastronomic hellhole, or I am a whiny snob who wouldn't be satisfied if Tetsuya Wakuda himself dropped by every morning with homemade muffins.

Truth be told, it's a little bit of both, although of course I tend to lean towards the former. Even so, occasionally I manage to get out to a decent restaurant, and for one night at least I am not confronted with a meal that makes me contemplate bloody vengeance. Quite the reverse, in fact.

On Friday night I joined The Flatmate and my friend AB at Jackson's, an eatery widely regarded as one of the best in the city. You can tell as soon as you enter. There are no hard noisy floors, no cheap chairs, no wobbling tables. Instead, there's a layer of comforting smugness that descends upon you. You can tell, immediately, that no one is going to try to cut costs by filling you up with cheap pasta. They're not even going to make you eat expensive pasta. You are here to taste remarkable things, not be glutted into dozy complacency.

We began with assorted breads, all exquisite in their own right, and a bowl of olives. We were then served a complementary appetiser - a salted wafer twisted into a cone, stuffed with smoked salmon and topped with a little ball of green pea and mint icecream. Some of you may be saying "Erk!" at the thought of savoury icecream cones, and if so, SHAME ON YOU! They were incredible; audacious yet perfectly balanced.

My main course was chestnut stuffed rabbit baked in prosciutto, served on a bed of beetroot risotto and garnished with lightly steamed asparagus. The rabbit was delicious. The asparagus was perfect. The risotto transcended perfection and went on to something higher. Indeed, I am thinking of getting a sample and sending it to The Vatican so that experienced theologians can study it for further proof of the existence of God.

The restaurant recommended a glass of Talijancich Graciano to compliment the rabbit, so I ordered one. It did indeed compliment the rabbit. It complimented the very nature of existence itself. It was as smooth and soft as old velvet, and with each sip it seemed to deliberately wait for a second before delivering an astonishing bouquet of flowers, fruits and vanilla.

For dessert, I continued with the chestnut theme and ordered crispy chestnut dumplings with warm chocolate sauce & bitter orange ice cream. The so-called dumplings were more like deep-fried ravioli (but still very good), while the bitter orange ice cream made sure that none of the sweeter parts of the dessert became overpowering.

The really interesting thing about this exquisite meal is that it all came to around $70 each. That might seem like a lot, if the restaurants you usually patronise have a drive-thru. But for three courses (the bread, olives and appetisers were basically a course unto themselves) with two glasses of wine, $70 is less than double what you'd pay at some wretched franchised carbo-hole. And it was more than twice as good. Frankly, it was more than three times, or four times as good. For $70 each, I think they were robbed.

Of course, the downside of all this is that the next time I go out, and find myself sitting in front of some gastronomic dreck at the aforementioned franchised carbo-hole, it's going to break my heart. If you happen to be there and notice me weeping, please just pretend that you don't. I'll try to be quiet.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


In watching the MST3K version of 'The Magic Sword', one is forced to ask the question that one asks of all MST3K films: does the content bear even the remotest resemblance to the title? Does 'The Magic Sword', in fact, have anything to do with magic swords?

The answer is, well, yes, there is a magic sword in it, but to be honest, it's not exactly central to the plot. There's a whole bunch of other titles that would have been just as relevant.

The Mother Who Couldn't Let Go

George is the blandly good-looking foster son of Sybil, an elderly sorceress. When George discovers that his secret love, the Princess Helene, has been kidnapped, he vows to set off and save her. But Sybil has abandonment issues, and refuses to let him leave. Eventually he has to lock her in the cellar just to get out of the house. I think somebody needs a copy of "When Parents Love Too Much" for Mother's Day.

The United Nations of Knighthood

George is assisted by a battalion of knights whom he found in the basement, and who seem curiously sanguine about the fact that George's uncle turned them all into stone centuries earlier. There's a French knight, a Scottish knight, a Spanish knight, an Italian knight, an Irish knight and a German knight, all struggling with their accents like strung-out junkies trying to get the child-proof cap off a bottle of pills.

Down the Gurgler: The True Story of the Career of Basil Rathbone

In 1936 he was Tybalt in 'Romeo & Juliet'. From 1939 to 1953 he was the definitive Sherlock Holmes. But by 1962 he was reduced to playing the camp villain Lodac, stalking around cheap sets and striking dramatic poses, dressed like a cross between Gloria Swanson and Mandrake the Magician.

The Adventures of Princess Severebreasts

I mean, crikey! They look about as soft and yielding as a couple of bullet-shaped anvils!


Sir Branton is George's rival in the quest to rescue Princess Helene, and, since he's rich, aristocratic and speaks with a plummy accent, he turns out to be evil, and in league with Lodac. If he'd been poor, common and in the habit of dropping his aitches, no doubt he'd have demonstrated such a pure heart and an inner nobility as to make St Francis of Assisi look like Tucker Max.

Hooray for Focus Groups!

In the end, Lodac double-crosses Sir Branton and turns him into a wall hanging, George kills the two-headed dragon, Sybil transmogrifies herself into a panther and kills Lodac, George and Helene get married, and all the dead knights are brought back to life via Sybil's use of Lodac's magic ring, just in time for the wedding! Then they all lived happily ever after... at least until the Director's Cut came out.

Then Helene was eaten by the dragon, Lodac killed Sybil, and George ended his days as a dunken male prostitute dying of syphillis in a gutter. It was more in keeping with the director's uncompromising artistic vision.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


They told me that no good could come from mixing banana Nesquik with espresso.

Once the dizzy spells and uncontrollable giggling pass, I will gladly debate them on the subject.


I don't really have much money at the moment, but over the weekend I was in a powerful spendy mood. I could have gone out and bought something stupid. Instead I bought an incomplete 1950s anodised aluminium novelty lamp.

Picture 002

It's a lighthouse! It has a cast iron base that looks like rocks, with teeny little paths and steps carved into the rocks, so that an ant-sized lighthouse keeper can walk from his tiny boat up to the minute front door.

Picture 004

There are even tiny bollards with miniscule, delicate chains, so that he doesn't fall off the paths and plummet an entire inch to his doom!

Picture 003

The lighthouse itself is silver anodised aluminium, with green anodised aluminium windows and a little green anodised aluminium walkway (with more chains and bollards) at the top encircling the lamp.

Picture 007

Of course, once we get above the lamp, we reach the 'incomplete' bit. The shade is missing. Fortunately I had a green anodised aluminium lampshade from the same era in the back of my cupboard (as you all do, I'm sure). It clips neatly over the lamp and then tilts to obscure the light. Although that prevents it from dazzling passers by, I have to face the fact that it may also result in more numerous shipwrecks in my living room.

Yesterday I got on the web and managed to track down some pictures of what it's supposed to look like.


Now I could one of three things:

1) Try to track down a replacement shade, in the same colour, on eBay.

2) Recreate the shade out of similar bits and pieces. The grill and mesh are fairly standard and could be bought and shaped at a metalworkers, and I might be able to find an anodised aluminium saucepan lid of roughly the same shape, colour and size at the charity store.

3) Keep the lamp as a hybrid, a unique thing I've cobbled together from the detritus of the past.

I think we all know which option I'm favouring.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Another day, another example of the law being an ass:

THE families of terror victims have described the decision by an appeals court to release "Jihad" Jack Thomas - the first man jailed under the Howard Government's new terrorism laws - as a farce.

A Melbourne court's decision yesterday to quash the conviction of the Muslim convert - who met Osama bin Laden and other al-Qa'ida operatives just months before the September 11 attacks - was embarrassing for the Government and the Australian Federal Police and distressing for families of terror victims.

Although Mr Thomas could face fresh terror charges arising out of an ABC interview conducted in his Melbourne home during the trial and aired after the conviction, Peter Iliffe, the father of a Bali bombing victim, said the decision to free him showed how "disconnected the judiciary was from reality"

But as usual, I only post about it here because it contains an unintentional piece of hilarity:

The judgment, which found his interview with federal police inadmissable, was received with gasps in a packed courtroom. Mr Thomas, who trained with fellow Australian David Hicks in an al-Qa'ida camp in Afghanistan before being caught in an al-Qa'ida guesthouse in Pakistan run by September 11 planner Rami bin al-Shiha, bowed his head in the dock and wept.

"Hallelujah, hallelujah," he said outside court, beaming and hugging his daughter

"Hallelujah", Jack? I think someone needs a little less terrorism training and a little more etymology.

Friday, August 18, 2006


It could happen to anyone... well, anyone from that bastion of stout moral fibre known as the British aristocracy:

An heir to one of the country's most famous aristocratic titles faces jail after he stole a cheque for more than £100,000.

Andrew Curzon, 19, opened a neighbour's letter that had been delivered to his home by mistake. But instead of handing it back, the Old Etonian attempted to deposit £117,533 into his own account.

In a crude forgery attempt, he wrote his name on top of the genuine recipient's and tried to pass it off as his own.

But Natwest staff alerted police and Curzon, whose ambition is to be a barrister, was arrested when he returned to the branch to see if the funds had cleared.

He has pleaded guilty to forgery and using a false instrument at Wimbledon magistrates court in South West London.

But undoubtedly, the best line of the article was this:

In his defence, he argued that he suffered from the medical condition dysphraxia - which made him unable "to engage in logical thinking, particularly when under stress".

Just the attribute I look for in a lawyer.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


It cost $187 to repair my scooter after Monday's little incident, partly because while it was there I had the mechanics fix a couple of other little niggling problems. This was an unexpected expense in a financially tight month, but the results have been worth it.

- The brake pads have been replaced. The scooter used to slow with a juddering gait, and screech and squeal like a toddler being denied its 400th viewing of 'Madagascar'. Now it glides smoothly to a halt with an almost eerie silence.

- The headlight has been fixed. Now I can ride at night.

- The indicator switch has been repaired, so that the indicators actually flash instead of just glowing. It means that other drivers actually see them now. It also means that I'm less likely to leave them on, and putter down the highway signaling a nonexistent turn like a bewildered pensioner.

- And as an unexpected bonus, the missing lens on the right indicator has been replaced, which doesn't really affect anything, but makes the scooter look less like an old banger. I didn't ask them to do it, but I'm not going to complain now that it's done.

Bringing all this into perspective, however, is the fact that The Flatmate picked up his brand new car yesterday. It's a sparkling white Hyundai Getz, absolutely clean and absolutely unblemished, without a trace of dust on the dash, or fingerprints on the glass, or dullness on the chrome or scuffs on the rubber. Parked in the garage, it makes the scooter and the Golf look like a couple of dowdy Midwestern housewives watching a glamorous actress swan down the red carpet outside the Academy Awards.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I'm feeling sore and sorry for myself at the moment, as I had an important scooter milestone this morning.

I fell off for the first time.

Coming down Monash Avenue toward my office, I braked to slow down at the back of a queue at the roundabout, and my brakes, for reasons known only to themselves, locked up. They do that occasionally, and usually it's no biggie. However this time it was on an oily patch of road, and the scooter started to slide out from under me. I stretched out my leg to stabilise myself, but a combination of the oily road and the slick soles of my business shoes caused my foot to slide out ever worse than the scooter. Still moving at a reasonable pace, I lost balance and toppled over, banging down onto the bitumen with the scooter close behind.

Fortunately, the nice lady coming up behind me in a Toyota didn't run me over. I lay there on the road for a few seconds while my senses rebooted, and once I realised that there were no immediate injuries I staggered to my feet and hauled the scooter upright. It was still running; a good sign. I dragged it to the side of the road and gestured to the car behind me that everything was okay, motioning for her to go around me. Then I wheeled the scooter off the road and into a driveway to assess the damage.

Surprisingly there was almost none - it's tougher than it looks.The wing mirror was twisted but not broken. There was a large scrape on the decorative chrome plate on the muffler, and a smaller scrape on the bottom of the front mudguard, but mechanically it was ticking over as normal. I climbed back on, straightened the mirror to see the traffic behind me, and pulled back out to complete the 100 metres or so to reach my office.

Once I'd parked, I had more opportunity to check for damage to myself, and I came to realise the value of all the protective clothing I wear when I'm riding. My old army coat had protected my business suit when I'd crashed shoulder-first onto the road. My helmet protected my head as it banged down a split second later. Without the helmet, it would have been my ear scraping along the bitumen. One of my leather gloves had a large scrape across the palm where I'd subconsciously stretched out my hand to break my fall. If I hadn't had the glove on, the scrape would have been in my flesh rather than the leather.

So, I'm more or less unharmed, although the fall jarred every joint in my body, especially in my wrist, my neck and my shoulder.

But more inportantly, my favourite grey wool suit with the fine blue pinstripe is undamaged, and my iPod is fine... I think my body cushioned it against the impact. Whew.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Ah, the early 1990s. A rash of fantasy-based TV shows filled the broadcast schedules. Xena chucked her magic frisbee at evil, Hercules threatened to crush fair maidens between his pecs, and Beastmaster showed us all what it would look like if a stick worked out. It seemed there were no historical inaccuracies, no blending of disparate myths, no low-budget production values so outrageous that they couldn't be overlooked. In this heady atmosphere, the producers of 'Quest of the Delta Knights' obviously thought, "Why not us too?"

Why not indeed. 'Quest of the Delta Knights' bears all the hallmarks of a pilot for a TV series, but no TV series was ever made. What happened? What went wrong? Sadly, the answers were all there in the movie.

1. The Androgynous Hero

The rules of fantasy have a certain amount of flexibility, but your hero must be at least a little bit... heroic. An effete 12 year old with a gender-unspecific name ("T") who could reasonably be compared to Holly Hobby just doesn't cut it. Frankly, if it came down to a fight to the death between T and, say, Miss Elizabeth Bennett from 'Pride & Prejudice', I'd be backing Jane Austen's girl all the way.

2. The Complete Absence of Sexual Tension

The feisty Princess Athena (oh please) and the irreverent Leonardo Da Vinci (double oh please) were supposed to provide the romantic interest. They didn't. The lack of sexual tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

3. The Secret Society

Apparently the Delta Knights are a secret society pledged to... well, you know, stuff. Truth, Justice and the Renaissance Way, presumably. Leonardo da Vinci was one of them, which leads me to suggest that perhaps the producers should be suing Dan Brown for plagiarism.

Mind you, I'm all in favour of anybody suing Dan Brown for anything, so I may not be the most objective commentator.

4. Having David Warner Play Two Completely Unrelated Characters

How much David Warner does this movie deserve? MORE THAN ONE CHARACTER CAN PROVIDE!

5. Having Richard Kind Play Anybody At All

In a performance hammier than a pig on a spit, the best friend from 'Mad About You' / office klutz from 'Spin City' plays an evil magician. Imagine Queen Latifah playing Abraham Lincoln, and you're still nowhere near the levels of unconvincingness we're reading here.

6. The Logical Progression of the Plot

T: (reading an inscription in an attempt to nut out which direction is north on an ancient map) “The arrow must show where the Father did glow.”

Baydool: This map has been waiting for you. Maybe it’s your father. Now when did he glow? With pride at your birth. You point the arrow to the place of your birth, and that will orient the map.

Blandwagon: What the hell?

7. Sex Appeal

Xena had Lucy Lawless in a short skirt and a fulsome metal breastplate. Hercules had Kevin Sorbo flexing his impressive biceps in all directions. Quest of the Delta Knights had a prepubescent boy, a frigid princess, and a man in what appeared to be a harlequin outfit and a supersized beret. You do the math.

8. Action

Was the climax of the film a battle with a fearsome CGI dragon? Or a spectacularly choreographed fight between our hero and his villainous nemesis? No! It was a scene in which two guys pushed over a rock. A rather unconvincing polystyrene rock. Huzzah!

So, in conclusion, may this be a lesson to all you aspiring film makers out there; don't make a movie about a young hermaphrodite, a princess forced into a life of prostitution and Leonardo da Vinci as members of a secret society searching for the lost treasure of Archimedes.

No excuses. Just don’t.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


On Thursday I collected my new painting from the art auctioneers. I had to borrow a friend's Subaru Forester to do it, and even with all the seats folded down, and the driver's seat pushed so far farward that I was pinned to the steering wheel, it only just fit.

The receptionist was one of those bubbly older women who express amazement and delight at every single thing that ever happens. As she was generating my receipt, she gasped in astonishment at the price I'd paid.

Her: You got this piece for how much?

Me: Well, the other bids were pretty half-hearted. I was only person who really seemed to like it.

Her: This is an absolute steal! Do you know his work?

Me: No. From what the auctioneer said I understand he's just begining to come into his own.

Her: Absolutely! You should see how much they're charging for his work in galleries!

Me: (having heard this line a few times before) Okay.

Her: No, I mean it! Google him and you'll see!

So I drove home with my chin resting on the top of the steering wheel, got the painting out of the car, and managed to get it into the house without damaging either it or my other belongings. Then I took down the picture that was in the place where I wanted it to go, put in a new, heavy-duty hanger, and hefted it up onto the wall. Then it was just a matter of moving the paintings on either side to balance it... and moving the nearby furniture out of the way, and moving distant furniture to accomodate the relocated nearby furniture, shuffling dislocated paintings throughout the house, taking all the CDs out of the bookcase so I could shift it two inches to the right...

Eventually it all came together, and I found myself in a position I haven't been in for a while; lying on the couch, just looking at it and enjoying the play of colour and texture. It's striking yet very calm. I felt whatever you'd call the opposite of buyer's remorse.

Lindsay Pow (fuzzy)

Later that evening I was checking my email, and on a whim I decided to google the artist and see what the galleries are indeed charging. I typed in the name, clicked on the first link that came up, and...


Apparently if I'd spent ten times more money, I could have gone to an art gallery and purchased a painting half the size of the one in my living room.

Monday, August 07, 2006


As has been my habit of late, I scootered down to Food For Me on Saturday morning, there to spend an hour or two reading the newspaper and high-end magazines over coffee and croissants. I arrived a little earlier than usual, and thus happened to witness the owners of the porn shop next door opening their establishment.

To get an accurate picture of these proprietors, imagine two centrefold models, one of each gender. Now take away the beauty, glamour, fitness, youth, attitude and attention to personal grooming. They were both middle-aged, morbidly obese, and dressed entirely in shapeless fleece garments. They were about as sexy as Betty Friedan with the flu. And gout.

Frankly, if that's where pornography takes you, please sign me up for some Bible study and pictures of young women wearing more clothes than an arctic explorer.

Later in the morning I was browsing in a junk shop. I mentioned to the owner that I was looking for an old leather couch, and he gestured with ironic faux-pride at the single largest thing in the store. It was an enormous L-shaped sectional sofa covered in tufted polyester tigerskin-print fabric, so overstuffed that it bulged like the Michelin Man after a six hour session at a yum cha restaurant.

Owner: What do you think of this?

Me: I think it makes me question the existence of a merciful God.

Owner: Oh come on, this is a great couch! Just think of what you could do with it!

Me: Such as?

Owner: Well, er... you could use it in a porn film!

Me: I don't make a lot of porn. Not enough to justify buying a $1,400 couch, anyway.

Owner: Or if you owned a brothel...

Me: Nope.

Owner: Or you could just give your parents a really big scare!

Me: I have far less expensive ways to scare my parents than buying a second-hand Harvey Norman fake tigerskin couch.

Instead, I just bought a groovy 1960s plate for $5. As I left the owner called out to me.

Owner: Are you sure you won't reconsider the couch?

Me: I'm sure. But if I see Anna Nicole Smith, I'll send her your way.

Owner: Thanks!

Friday, August 04, 2006


In the ongoing conflict between what James Lileks described as an "Islamic social welfare organization reluctantly pressed into combat" (ie Hezbollah) and "bloodthirsty religious lunatics who relish the indiscriminate killing of civilians" (ie the Israeli army), it may be difficult for the objective outsider to know whom to support.

We here at Get on the Blandwagon! have prepared this handy visual guide for the bewildered man, to aid him in his assessment of this complicated and multi-faceted issue.

Hezbollah (with rifle)

Hezbollah (with rifle)

The Israeli Army (with rifle)

The Israeli Army (with rifle)

Hezbollah (in a pensive mood)

Hezbollah (in a pensive mood)

The Israeli Army (in a pensive mood)

The Israeli Army (in a pensive mood)

Hezbollah (grouped)

Hezbollah (riverdancing, I think)

The Israeli Army (grouped)

The Israeli Army (not riverdancing... but who cares?)

We hope these images have been useful.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I went to another art auction last night, despite telling myself that I shouldn't. What can I say? In the words of Bernard Black, "whores will have their trinkets".

A good artist must have two things; something to say and the skills by which to say it. That may sound easy, but it's difficult to acheive. The former without the latter results in ignominious failure, unless you hold the right opinions for the art crowd, in which case it just means exhibitions full of awful, politically correct dross. The latter without the former results in soulless paintings of sunsets over beaches and scenes of bucolic idyll, which sell very well but tend to leave the artist feeling like he's standing in the centre of a vast, echoing emptiness.

Ninety-nine percent of the work on offer last night could be classed, with varying levels of fairness, as 'pedestrian'. There was nothing very haunting, or eerie, or particularly edgy. If one wanted to be negative about it, there was a lot of radical pictures from the 50s and 60s that now look tired and dull, some hippie 70s dreck, bad colour combinations from the 80s, and a little corporate blandeur from the 90s.

There was only a handful that I liked, and I bought one of them:

lindsay pow

I know I keep saying this with the artworks I buy, but the painting has a lot of 'presence' that doesn't really come across in the photo. For a start it's constructed on a grand scale, being taller than I am. The colours are rich and glossy, and smeared onto the canvas with boldness and confidence. It's all blues, greens and whites; intimate, gentle colours, yet telling a story of a vast world, light-filled and living.

But undoubtedly, the star of the auction was this unassuming little picture, shown here almost lifesized, and valued between $150 and $180. It was well done and rather sweet, and if no one else wanted it, I thought I might put in a $100 offer. It would look nice in a quiet corner of my study.


It went for $3,250. Sometimes even the experts have no idea.