Tuesday, August 30, 2005


As I was riding my scooter home from work last night, a car slowly overtook me in the next lane. As it did so, I noticed that one of the passengers was carefully filming me with his camera phone.

I can only imagine two trains of thought that would lead a person to do such a thing:

a) "Hey, look at that man in the smart pinstriped suit on the retro-styled motor scooter! It looks like a little piece of the Italian Riviera in our own fair city! He must be Roberto Benigni, or Marcello Mastroianni, or perhaps George Clooney practicing for a remake of 'Roman Holiday'! Let me capture this moment for posterity!"


Whatever. At least they didn't try to run me off the road so that they could sell the footage to 'Australia's Funniest Home Videos'.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I seem to have fallen off the Blandwagon over the last few days. Please forgive me. It can be attributed to three things:

1) An old illness has flared up. Nothing life or even lifestyle threatening, but uncomfortable.

2) The lingering memory of 'Wedding Crashers' haunts me still.

3) Someone* came to Get On The Blandwagon by googling 'Rose Porteous Naked'. I think Shakespeare put it best when he wrote, 'O brave new worlde, that hath such sicke nutjobbes in it.'**

* I suspect Willie.

** From 'The Tempest of the Shrew', Act 5, Scene 1. Enter Shrew with Chorus of Long-Suffering Poodles...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The film review that follows is delivered in full, spittle-flecked Rant Mode. If you wish to avoid the sight of an Australian in high dudgeon, or SPOILERS about ‘Wedding Crashers’, go here.

On Friday night I was cajoled by a friend into seeing 'Wedding Crashers' at the local multiplex. You know, up until that point I'd never realised just how far or how precipitously our civilisation had sunk. I'd sort of absorbed the fact that the post-feminist attitudes to and of women were going backwards, and that the semiotics of modern fashion and relationships had all the depth of a dew droplet. But I hadn't had it shoved quite so rudely into my face before.

Sitting there in the theatre, waiting for the film to start, I should have been warned by the calibre of the latecomers. There were two types:

1) Brainless, screeching fifteen-year-old skanks in pink ugg-boots and denim minis brandishing mobile phones.

2) Their boyfriends, with gel-saturated hair and an air of dull-witted belligerence, putting up with them in order to get laid.

Appropriately enough, the film was preceded by the video clip for Jessica Simpson's version of 'These Boots Were Made For Walkin'', from the soundtrack to the Dukes of Hazard movie. It's difficult describe the clip without using the words 'sweet', 'merciful' or 'crap'. Suffice to say, imagine that you are in the garage of a particularly sleazy motor mechanic, waiting for him to finish fixing your car, and suddenly all the pin-ups and centre-folds on the garage wall come to life, pop off their pages, and start bootscootin'. That's pretty much the look they were going for.

I don't think Mrs Lachy actually gave anyone a lapdance during the proceedings, but I could be wrong, given that I spent a lot of my time looking at my watch. It was embarrassing, and about as sexy as being bailed up by an aggressive hooker while walking down the street.

And it was all downhill from there. 'Wedding Crashers' was crude: morally, intellectually, narratively and spiritually. It was the filmic equivalent of dissecting a frog in science class by slamming it with your fist. At its core, it was a cynical but simple story of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, and boy must rescue her from the clutches of a cad, with a whole lot of high-concept froth spun around it to hook the audience.

But they were all vile, with the possible exception of The Girl. In order to make Owen Wilson's character at all sympathetic, his rival for the affections of the lovely Claire had to be rendered as the most grotesque caricature of cardboard villainy and duplicity since Billy Zane twirled his metaphorical moustache in 'Titanic'. Poor Claire. She didn't so much win a hero as win a reprieve from the matrimonial Anti-Christ.

To be fair, some of Vince Vaughn's lines were cleverly unpredictable, and there was a pleasant blend of colours in some of the costumes. But that's it. The rest of it was as delightful and uplifting as prison rape.

The most depressing thing of all is that this viciously ugly film has made over eight million dollars in just two weeks at the Australian box office. Therefore, we can expect ‘Wedding Crashers II: Crash Harder’ sometime in 2007. Heaven help us all.


Warning: This post contains SPOILERS about 'The Island'. All-singing, all-dancing, technicoloured spoilers. If you wish to keep the details of the plot a mystery, so that you can better enjoy the light, subtle intricacies of Michael Bay's narrative style, then wake up and smell the coffee, dude stop reading now.

Ten Things I Learned About The Year 2050 By Watching 'The Island'

1) Apparently in the next five years a horrible disease will wipe out all automotive designers, and anyone who decides to become an automotive designer, meaning that the cars of 2050 will look exactly the same as next year's Volvos and Cadillacs.

2) Urban Minimalism is going to be with us for a long while yet. Sigh.

3) By 2050, the Los Angeles public transport system will have a six car skytrain passing by any given point in the city roughly every 3.2 seconds.

4) In the future, product placement will be out of control.

5) By 2050, the treatment of cirrhotic hepatitis will require the growth, maintenance and sacrifice of a $5,000,000 clone. Apparently the technology to grow a new liver from a small donor piece (without harming the donor), commonly employed in 2005, will be lost over the next 45 years.

6) The fad for giving children silly, made-up names like Jayden or Shawneena will only get worse, with the result that in 2050 there will only be one Tom Lincoln in the whole of Los Angeles, and one Sarah Jordan in the whole of the United States.

7) By 2050, the status of supermodels will have dropped so far that any idiot can walk into a phone booth, say a model's name, and immediately be connected to her home phone number and talk to her child.

8) Despite the fact that we're all riding in cool hovertrains, steel train wheels will still exist, and need to be transported around on the backs of semi-trailers.

9) By 2050, almost everyone will need glasses.

10) Scarlett Johanson looks pretty good in a tight white jumpsuit. That's not particularly futuristic, but it's worth mentioning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


On Saturday afternoon AB called me on the phone and asked if he could come over straight away. When I asked him what the problem was, he said he wanted to tell me in person rather than over the phone. It was going to eat into my Sim City 4 playing time, but I agreed to let him come. I'm kinda magnanimous like that.

With anyone else, I might have been worried about such an urgent and mysterious call. But AB lives his life in a near perpetual state of existential crisis, and tends to extrapolate minor problems to their farthest logical consequences and then gently panic about them. I figured that it was some family issue over which he needed advice and/or consolation.

As it turns out, though, it was nothing of the sort. After he'd arrived, I asked, "So what's the problem then?" He took a deep breath and said, "I've been reading your blog."

"Ah," I said.

This blog exists, in part, to see how long it would take before someone I knew in the real world stumbled across it. I haven't told anyone about it, except for JC about a week ago, when he asked me about blogging in such a way that I couldn't avoid mentioning mine without lying. However JC doesn't have the URL and as far as I know hasn't found it yet.

Mind you, "as far as I know" isn't far. It turned out that AB has been reading for months, and not only that, he has shared the URL with a couple of mutual friends, all without telling me. I'm not the sort of person to vent dramatically about my friends and acquaintances on the internet, so I wasn't worried that he or others had been reading. I was however a little irritated that I hadn't been told. There have been a couple of times when I've been tempted to lambast people I know, just because their peculiar brand of idiocy would make for entertaining reading. Apparently it's a good thing I didn't.

So I asked him what he thought of it.

"It sounds just like you," he replied, with a certain air of guardedness. "only you're more cutting than you are in real life."

"You're referring to entries like the Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Dinner, aren't you," I said. "When I chastised people for not taking enough effort with their contributions."

"Well no, not really, " he said. "I was thinking more about the way you described..." and he went on to mention the entry in which I'd mocked a pretentious mutual acquaintance in no uncertain terms.

"Aw crap," I said.

You see, Mutual Acquaintance is a brittle person who would fly apart like a firework if he read this, and the way gossip gets around my extended social circle he will indeed read this sooner rather than later.

So, dang it, now I've had to re-read all nine months of my blog and see if there is anything that could make my social circumstances uncomfortable. I only discovered one really bad thing (the Mutual Acquaintance bit), which I've since deleted. There are two or three other entries which would probably be offensive to the subjects if they read them, but then again, I don't think I said anything that I wouldn't have said, albeit more discreetly, to their faces. A balance must be struck between honesty and self-censorship.

And if I really want to vent, I always have my diary.*

*Explanatory note for youngsters: a diary is like a blog, only without the Internet. Strange, I know, but true.

Friday, August 19, 2005


It may not be immediately apparent to the casual observer, but band names run in cycles of fashion. These days, any self-respecting band has a name consisting of a definite article and a noun (The Coral, The Vines, The Greenskeepers, The Strokes, The Hives and The Bees, who are presumably related somehow). Ten to fifteen years ago, it was just the noun (Blur, Oasis, Nirvana).

But twenty to twenty five years ago? For reasons only half-expressed in the murky collective id (or because of delirium brought on by inhaling too many hairspray fumes) the really happening band names were as florid and pretentious as the era's candy-coloured renovations of Victorian buildings.

Spandau Ballet

Spandau was one of the Nazi concentration camps. The Ballet part is thought to be slang used by the Nazi guards to describe the writhing of prisoners as they inhaled Zyklon-B in the gas chambers. So, on the one hand, we have the victims of the Nazi regime brutally and horrifically murdered in their millions. On the other, a bunch of ponced-up New Romantics with big hair. Frankly, it's a wonder they weren't dragged off stage by Holocaust survivors and beaten to death.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

"Listen up, Fitzsimmons! Tell the string section to crest that hill in attack formation, with the woodwind providing air support. I want bassoonists here, here and here. And if we can't get the timpani in place by moonrise, then heaven help us all!"

The Human League

What's the subtext here? Were they 'The Human League' because they are so different and androgynous and transgressive that we might not otherwise notice their species? Did they imagine that we might mistake them for fey, otherworldly beings, or perhaps just dugongs who had mastered 4/4 time?


Pretty big opinion you have of yourself there, Midge. Why not just call yourself Stupendo-Voice and be done with it.

Depeche Mode

Economy Mode gives you good fuel efficiency. Sports Mode gives you good acceleration. Depeche Mode gives you leather pants, lip gloss and big pastel blouses.

Electric Light Orchestra

How ironic, how wonderfully droll, to name one's electronic-based band after a hundred year old icon of technology! See how quaint the lightbulb looks next to our cutting-edge green phosphor screens, video-cassettes and Pong!

No wonder all the cool indie kids listened to The Smiths.

Disclaimer: I have Best Of CDs for both Ultravox and ELO. I was never a cool indie kid.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Three things you need to know about yesterday:

1) I took the day off work in order to run some errands. I even had a name for it. I called it Errand Day, and it was going to be a fountain of productivity.

2) First thing on Errand Day morning, the starter motor on the Golf died. So I had to cut out any errand that couldn't be run either on foot or on the scooter.

3) It rained, heavily, all day.

Downsides of Errand Day:

- At least $400 for a new starter motor

- Rain stings like heck when you're driving into it wearing a faceless motorcycle helmet on a scooter at 60kph

- The pattern was run errand, come home, change out of soaked clothes, and repeat. I went through more costume changes than the average Kylie Minogue concert. By the end of the day I had a bedroom full of wet clothes, I was wearing musty shapeless gear from the back of the wardrobe, I had mismatched socks and I was freebagging*. Not pretty. Not nice.

Upside of Errand Day:

- I bought a cow hide rug. Not a Murray Grey (I already have one of those) and not a Belted Galloway. I think it's a Hereford. Although it could be a Ruby Devon.

*freebagging - (vb) local variant of Going Commando.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Laziest Girl and I have been having an email discussion of the relative merits of cattle breeds. I support the mighty Murray Grey, which comes in a fetching variety of upmarket colours sure to compliment the decor of any farm.

murray grey2

Murray Greys employ a subtle, understated palette of tones in coffee and chocolate, not in garish shades suitable only for Big Brother houses (which is good, as cows can't really be demolished and rebuilt at the end of each year). The Murray Grey is a Classic Cow, not beholden to the vagaries of fad and fashion, in the same idiom of eternal style as an Eames chair or a Porsche Boxster.

murray grey1

However Laziest Girl is a fan of the Belted Galloway, and I must admit it is a diverting beast. Who couldn't help but love the Greater Adorable Panda-Cow!

belted galloway

But I stand by my Murray Greys, and Laziest Girl and I will have to agree to disagree. Anyone willing to plead the case for the Angus, the Poll Hereford or the (lofty snigger) Friesian can do so in comments.

Monday, August 15, 2005


I had an unexpected Festival of Bad Cinema on Saturday night. JC brought over a copy of what he referred to as “the original War of the Worlds”. Excellent, thought I, momentarily channelling Monty Burns. The 1950s version of The War of the Worlds is a cinema classic. The special effects were revolutionary for their day, and the odd, religious ending alone is worth the effort of watching it.

I had forgotten, however, that despite his many qualities JC is not very knowledgeable about the classics of the cinema. When we actually sat down to it, the root menu of the DVD seemed far too slick to be the 1950s version. I checked it again. Perhaps the most telling sign that this was not in fact “the original War of the Worlds” was the listing of C. Thomas Howell and Jake Busey as "stars" on the cover.

As it turned out, this was a version of the War of the Worlds made earlier this year, presumably for cable television. It vanished without a trace upon release, but JC has a rare and uncanny ability to select and acquire films of unparalleled awfulness, so if anyone could have found it, he could. He excused himself by claiming that it was a gift from his cousins, but all that proves is that his skill is genetic.

C. Thomas Howell “stars” as an astronomer with an improbably young and beautiful wife and small son who looks like a midget surgically altered to resemble Frodo Baggins. As the Martians begin invading Earth, C. and his family are separated, and he must begin the classic movie quest to meet up with them again.

For a while he staggers through hillbilly country with a soldier named Kerry, who speaks like a stoned California surfer despite looking like Norman Bates. Then, after they’re separated, he staggers through hillbilly country with a priest named Victor, who is clumsily explained as an expatriate Australian because the actor can’t do American accents. He comes across as a typical, well-grounded Australian man, which is sort of a shame as he’s supposed to be barking mad. Oh well. In due course his face melts off.

For a movie about alien killing machines wiping humans off the face of the Earth in a variety of imaginative ways (ripping off every science fiction film from Alien to Mars Attacks! in the process) it’s a long, plodding, tedious narrative. So many scenes of people in small rooms or empty landscapes talking about nothing! It’s like a Stoppard play filmed by Andy Warhol… and if that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, well, you probably need to take a night class in 20th Century Theatre Studies or something.

Jake Busey eventually makes his appearance, in a tiny role that he probably knocked off in an afternoon. Peter Greene, who also “stars”, features in a touching scene with C. playing a man who’s received a full-body amputation just under armpit level. For a man with no lungs, he has plenty to say in his INCREDIBLY LENGTHY death scene. None of it is comprehensible, but it gives C. something to overact to.

But if you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose the person responsible for the very worst part of this film, I’d have to give the award to the sound editor. And here’s why:

C.: We must escape the aliens. I have to find my family.

Victor: You know, all this alien invasion stuff is raising some difficult theological issues.

Me: What the hell are they saying? (turns volume up)

Victor: Oh no! The aliens have found us!


Me: Gaaahhh! (turns volume down)

C.: I don’t think it saw us.

Victor: Yes. Let us whisper incoherently to each other some more.


C. does eventually meet up with his jailbait wife and Elijah Wood’s evil twin on the steps of what is supposed to be the Lincoln Memorial. You know, it’s funny, but the last time I was in Washington DC the Lincoln Memorial was on a flat piece of land in front of a large body of water. In this film, the aliens have blown up Washington so severely that all the water is gone, and the explosions have apparently created densely vegetated hills in the background. It’s almost as if Washington has been transformed into an abandoned industrial site somewhere outside Los Angeles. Weird.


Even though it meant getting up at 6am on a Saturday, I leapt at the chance to drive out to York over the weekend. I've been in the city for too long. I was beginning to fall into that comfortable illusion that everything important in the world lies within a ten kilometre radius of a large metropolitan centre. This sort of thinking can only lead to all kinds of delusion and foolishness, such as paying $800 for a pair of shoes, criticising the bakery for not stocking the right variety of ciabatta, and voting for the Greens.

We had a barbecued breakfast of bacon and eggs, cooked on an old iron plate over an erratic fire, and went tooling about in a forty year old Land Rover across the paddocks of my friend's family property. In between I went off by myself for a while, just tramping through the bush reconnecting with the Australian environment. The background was dominated by the distant emerald green of the young wheatfields and the heavy grey of the sky, but all around me were the ochres, silver-greys and olive greens of the bush, punctuated by the YELLOW and BLUE of wildflowers, so vivid that a flower the size of a coin could be seen from the opposite side of a gully.

Donkey Orchid

The Donkey Orchid, so named because, from certain angles, it looks sort of like an elephant. On a pogo stick.


Lechenaultia Lieschenaultia Letchenaultia Small Blue Flowers. Named after the famed French botanist Jean Baptiste Small Blue Flower de la Tour.

er, I forget

Prickly Moses. Well you try spending your infant years in a waterproof basket and see how easy you are to get along with.

carniverous plants

They look like delicate little snowdrops, but they are in fact carniverous. Never trust a plant that eats flies by choice.

I also saw a Western Red Kangaroo. "Hi, roo," I said. It gave me a wearied look as if to say, "Bloody tourists", before languidly hopping away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Last night I watched the last of my new MST3K DVDs; 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians'. It was a horrible cheap 1964 children's movie, made with the money the director found under the sofa cushions, and featuring what was probably the cast of some local amateur theatre company. Even a solid layer of MST3K riffs barely made it tolerable.

Am I the only person who finds Santa kind of annoying? And I'm not just talking about his lack of road skills. All the chuckling and wobbling like a bowlful of jelly - nobody laughs that much unless they're covering something up. I suppose if I was part of a joyless molestation of Christmas tradition like this movie, I'd laugh to hide the hurt inside too.


And who smokes in a children's movie? Why not just snort cocaine off the body of a dead hooker while you're at it, Santa!

This picture also depicts the main villain of the piece; Voldar's fake moustache. It's from the 'Saddam Hussein Meets Cheap Carpet Sample' collection, and it gives the unfortunate impression that Voldar has just come from shooting "Naughty Martian Coeds VII" next door.


No wonder he wants to kill the despicable Billy and Betty Foster. He's seen a better life. Sure, he'll suffer the low self-esteem, social stigma and innumerable diseases of a porn star, but at least it's better than working with child actors and jolly old elves while wearing plumbing supplies on your head.

Also the money's better, the sets and scripts aren't any worse, and 'wocka chicka wow wow' beats 'Hooray for Santy Claus' any day.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Earlier today I was listening to my iPod on shuffle while doing some rote paper-sorting in the conference room at work. 'More Than Fine' by Switchfoot was thrown up. I glanced up from my papers, out the window at the treetops and the bright sunshine, and I suddenly found myself filled a familiar but half-forgotten feeling. It's hard to describe, but the feeling is inextricably linked in my mind with driving through the mountains around Yosemite in California. It's a feeling of warm sunlight, a light breeze, the broad, workaday grandeur of nature, possibilities, privilege, tranquility, solitude and an understanding that life is expansive. It's a diffuse knowledge, as opposed to the tight, focused knowledge of how to assemble packages of documents or navigate through my iPod's menus.

The switch between the two was a little disorienting. Perhaps I need another holiday.

Friday, August 05, 2005



Boss: The people we were expecting at morning tea now aren't coming till Monday, so we'll have to eat all the cake ourselves. When they come on Monday, can I put you in charge of showing them the student records system?


Me: What? Sorry, but all I heard there was "The people we were expecting at morning tea now aren't coming till Monday, so we'll have to eat all the cake ourselves, blah blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Australian readers may be interested to know that there is an expanded version of this post in today's copy of The Australian (unfortunately not in the online version).

I don't get any money for it, and they edited out the somewhat disparaging remarks about Indonesian teenagers, but at least I get a moment in the sun. Plus cake to celebrate!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Bauer Arno
Commercial Loan Office
Halifax Bank
25 Olrig Street
KW14 7HQ Glassgow
United Kingdom


I am Mr BAUER ARNO, Commercial Loan Officer at Halifax Bank in the Glassgow United Kingdom. I am sorry for using this medium to contact you as it is highly unsecure but I have no choice as it is the only medium I can use in establishing contact with you that is quick as this matter is in dire need of urgent attention. I would want you to assist in a business venture involving 2,450,000.00 (Two Million,Four hundred and Fifty Thousand British Pounds) but have to be sure that you are willing to indulge in this transaction.

Please kindly get back to me if you are interested so I can furnish you with more details. I can be reached on this email address bauerarno@37.com or telephone on +44-70-0597-6870 or Fax- +44-70-0597-6910 .

I await your immediate response,


Bauer Arno


Do not attempt to reach me on my office email or office numbers as it is highly insecure and is being monitored.

Dear faux-Nigerian Email Scammer,

Yes, I know the truth. I have seen through your tissue of lies, despite the fact that it was covered with the mucus of your duplicity and the phlegm of your greed.

What gave the game away? Well, I may not be a keen scholar of celtic linguistics, but I'm fairly sure that the Scottish people do not refer to their second largest city as "The Glassgow".

Also, it only has one 's'. The Glaswegian accent may be indecipherable to all but the most hardened Scot, but I'm pretty certain that it has few if any repercussions on their ability to spell. I may be wrong, but I'm prepared to offer them the benefit of the doubt.

There's also the matter of the bank itself. Oddly enough there really is a bank at 25 Olrig Street in Thurso... but it's the Bank of Scotland, not Halifax.

Now frankly, I find all this a bit offensive. What sort of society do we live in when a phisher can't even be bothered to do his homework? It smacks of laziness and a shoddy lack of attention to detail! Shame on you, sir, shame on you.

Yours, not even slightly respectfully,


P.S. Your grammar is appalling, too, but that could easily be the result of a British state school education.


Besides the Cupboard of Regret, I got a couple of other things at the auction on Saturday. McLernon's has a large yard in which they keep their scrap - mostly broken office furniture and worthless shop fittings destined for the tip - and it's littered with broken glass, fragments of perspex, lost bolts and other industrial litter. While I was walking across it on Saturday afternoon, getting some fresh air and stretching my legs, I kicked a little tablet of wood. It broke in half as it skittered across the bitumen, and that caused me to take a second look at it.

It had the number 15 carved into it. The numerals were old-fashioned, complete with serifs, and had been inked. When I turned it over I found a carved picture of what might have been a cactus.

It was sort of interesting, and apparently worthless, so I put it in my pocket. Later that afternoon, as I was traversing the same yard, I found another one. This had the number 46 carved into it, and on the back was a picture of a shell and a spiral.

Each tablet is rectangular, about a centimeter thick, and as long as my thumb. Each one has a little rectangular hole at one end, suggesting that they're tags for something. But for what? Unfortunately I didn't really have a close look at them until Sunday, so it wasn't until then that my curiosity was piqued.



Anyone have any ideas on what they might be?

Monday, August 01, 2005


Yobbo, a local representative of PETA*, files this report from Tokyo on the barbaric consumption of whale meat in Japanese restaurants.

*(People for the Eating of Tasty Animals)