Thursday, March 30, 2006


I have tried to play a piece of video in two classes now and failed both times. In one it was a case of a silly overly technical piece of modern classroom of the future, in the other it was a vcr so simple (and old - it has etched in its trolley the name of the tech this campus used to be) that... that... well, I couldn't figure it out.

You know, they can put a man on the moon, yet I can't play a video in a classroom. Makes you think, doesn't it, where has all this technology really got us?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

nikki sudden, 49

Now I discover that Nikki Sudden is also dead. Where will it end? I fondly recall the last time I had contact with him. I wrote to him to express my condolences when Epic Soundtracks died. I suppose I have his reply somewhere, but I'll paraphrase, he wrote that it was a 'weird time' but concluded, 'Oh well, the Stones are playing next month!'

Which (as I have already said to Megan Edwards) is what we could say now too, pretty much.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

surely this is the last of the hot weather

I realise that I use this blog to whinge all the time (Mia is sick of hearing me complain; she obviously has a different view of what wives are there for to all the husbands of the last 10 000 years). In any case I'm not complaining, I'm being very positive and up. Surely this is the last of the hot weather until, I don't know, October-November? Look, I can almost tolerate hot weather in small doses, but when I say 'I', I mean my conscious spirit, and without wishing to spoil your enjoyment of my specially pleasurable personality, I have to say that one thing that happens a lot in hot weather is I develop eczema very quickly and it's ghastly. Yes, I know, it's all part and parcel of us wimpesque Anglo-Saxons who don't deserve the bounty clean Australian living gives us. Well, all I'm doing is saying what happens to me. I don't ask for it. I suppose I should take control or something.

Anyway, surely this is the last of the hot weather.

Meanwhile, I feel like I have forever been telling people 'I'm writing this study guide...' and I am, actually, writing a study guide and it seems to have been going on forever, but I now feel relatively confident that the end is in sight. I really believe (sucker that I am) that a couple of hours in the library tomorrow will see me right and I will be pretty much finished. It's been a lot like writing a book very quickly in my spare time about something much too important to treat so casually. But at least my colleagues have been around to make suggestions on drafts etc and stop me getting too harebrained in my textual assertions.

When my dear friend Naomi group emailed me to say she now had MySpace presence I thought, OK, I should get interested in this because I had only vaguely been aware. I can see why it's a fad along the lines of The Beatles and yoyos. It's a cross between toolybirds (sorry, well, really, just 'hi', Wayne) and Henry, Portrait of a Serial Friendster. You just grab people from all over the world and put them in your sack, and then ask others to come and admire what you've collected. My question is, when you see someone you've myspaced when you're travelling in the genuine community, do you acknowledge the myspacity of your connection, or do you regard it as a parrallel universe thing, or like telepathy? I am very confused about the whole thing, but at the same time, very excited that Gina Birch blithely added me to her friends. I am now apparently a friend to Gina Birch, whose music has meant a massive amount to me over the years as a member of the Raincoats and the Red Crayola in the early 80s. It's a thrill. I think Gina Birch is incredible. And she regards me as a friend.

The thing I was really interested in is was whether MySpace cut into, well, the third world. I did searches on African and Middle Eastern countries to see what was happening there. All the Myspacers in African countries, as far as I can see, were either white south africans or westerners stationed in Africa as soldiers or peace corps people. I know, what did I expect? Well, I thought maybe... I don't know... I had no preconceptions. By the way, if you look you'll get a false impression for a second because a lot of Americans say they're from African cities or nations I guess in the same corny spirit of claiming they're 100 years old or one inch high. Someone said they were from Djibouti, Djibouti and another person said they were from Nowhere, Nairobi or something like that - that kind of thing.

If I had a dollar for every comment on Myspace was just someone's name and another word like 'baby' or 'wazzup' and about fifteen exclamation marks, I'd be pretty happy. I suppose Rupert Murdoch thought that way too.

I like the combination of anonymity and friendliness in Myspace, anyway, I don't want to meet anyone, though, which the whole site seems to think is its main purpose. I like all the people I already know and don't need to like more. I suppose if I was a lonely youngster it would look like a bit of a smorgasbord however.


Last night, Ashtray Boy, G T Stringer and Flywheel played at the Vic in Brunswick. I hadn't been to the Vic since they knocked down the walls between the two front bars: I can't say I think that's a great improvement, and they've stuck up a revolting backdrop behind the stage (which is back where it originally was - on the Sydney Road side of the bar) I guess just in case Bob King or Tony Mott drop by to take shots of the secret U2 warmup gigs that'll be happening there on September 12 and 13th.

Ashtray Boy - we played OK. GTS - you could certainly say this was a group with mass appeal, and exceptional proficiency, the band do very solid r 'n' b/ska/surf instrumentals with a pleasing overlay of theremin and saxophone. In both cases, you'd have to with all objectivity asked yourself why weren't two hundred people there having a good time, which they would have, instead of twenty, who were admittedly appreciative and having a good time? (Which is the main thing). Still, the Flywheel conundrum has struck me even more than usual. For AB and GTS have good songs, etc, and you can see they deserve to be a strong minority interest if not more (I'm not damning with faint praise, but what I really want to talk about is Flywheel). If I had wandered into that bar that night having never heard Flywheel, I would have been immediately sold on these amazing catchy pop songs. They are a very strong pop band and deserve at least some kind of a fanbase outside their immediate friends. I can't understand it, but then I never could understand that kind of thing. And I never will probably.

By the way the top of the picture does not feature steam coming off the pumpin' group, but weird fishnet junk they've stuck on the ceiling. It looks quite good. Also if you look to the left you can see two chicks dancin'. And how!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

nowhere people

I was lent a copy of Henry Reynolds' Nowhere People last night and read it on the way home and on the way back to work this morning. Highly recommended. He traces the western attitude to 'half-castes' with an Australian focus of course and addresses the issue which irritated me in the Good Weekend four or five years ago when they did a profile on Reynolds and suggested he had Aboriginal ancestry of his own, as if this was the only feasible explanation for why someone would be so interested in Aboriginal history. In fact it appears there is every chance he does, via his father's mother, though there is really no proof one way or the other. I would say if there is anything about Reynolds' interest in Aboriginal history that comes from his background it's his father's own odd attitude to race. But the personal aspect only bookends an otherwise very interesting and important overview of racial attitudes in Australia.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ten minutes to lecture

I am sure no-one will walk out of this one. Actually I might, it's going to be as boring as all get-out. Mainly because it's something I know something about - Australian cinema - actually, it's something I know too much about to fit into an hour, and am too enthusiastic about to take an objective point of view about.

I noticed in this week's Big Issue that a DVD of Sunday Too Far Away had been released. Exciting. I think that the idea of owning films is ridiculous, I don't even particularly like owning books that I could get from the library, so if you have been round our house and you notice that I have about a million books, I'm telling you, they're ones I couldn't get from the library. Serioously. But I always like seeing the extras 'an' shit'. I am dead keen to get hold of the DVD of Oz. I know you'll think I'm interesting for saying I enjoy that film more and more. I was reading The New Australian Cinema the other day (which I shouldn't of as it's all about Old Australian cinema! Rip off!) and they said in there that Oz implies that homosexuals are ruining (or was that a typo for running?) the world. I missed that implication but maybe I was so excited by the end when she finally met the Wizard that the other stuff passed me by.

I don't know if I'm tired or on the verge of a nervous breakdown but my hands are shaking and I can't type or spell. (Later: by the way this was meant to not be exactly funny but just whimsical, I am not on the verge of anything good or bad).

espionage dream

Awoke around 2 am from crazy espionage-style 'no-one must have that recipe' type dream (a cake mix, not egg salad), with guns and helicopters. This led naturally into being wide awake and contemplating all the stuff I had to do. Got up to do it and ended up writing these lines instead. I wish I had never got involved in that espionage.

Talking with my mother this morning I mentioned this dream and she said I wonder what it symbolises. I said my dreams never symbolise anything; someone, somewhere yesterday said something to me about spies or spying, and I had some packet soup last night and that reminds me of cake mix.

Monday, March 20, 2006

people who leave the lecture

I am always perturbed by people who leave the lecture while I'm lecturing. Now I'm not saying it happens a lot. But when I think of the boring rubbish I've endured so as not to hurt someone's feelings who I never expect to even have to make eye contact with ever again... and who has probably already demonstrated they have no particular interest one way or another in whether there's an audience or not... and when I am firmly of the opinion that anyone who has their feelings hurt by someone leaving their lecture (I mean if it was their heartfelt testimonial of something, that'd be different, or their opera recital, but a lecture...) yet still I am perturbed by people who leave the lecture when I'm lecturing. Two done it today.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

commonwealth games

I suppose that I am in favour of diversity and I suppose I believe that people should be free to follow an individual array of pursuits, even when it happens to be almost everyone else's pursuit too. This is why I have not been railing against the Commonwealth Games so far. I have a small clutch of gripes against the event (mainly to do with stupid railway-related incidents) but I suppose if I start writing about them I will get cranky. I imagine that if I repress my irritation on this then when it is all over, which I guess will be actually quite soon, I will be able to forget the CGs ever happened. I mean as I was saying to a colleague the other day if they'd cancelled the CGs a few weeks ago and not told anyone I would have completely forgotten they were ever coming. I am pretty sure in fact that if they cancelled the CGs a few weeks ago, and never said anything about it, in a few months I would be easily convinced that they had happened and were no big deal and Australia won a lot of thingies. For someone so committed to diversity and plurality and blah, I am really disgusting in the way I take such perverse pride in how much I just don't care at all about things like Commonwealth Games. I care as much about the Commonwealth Games as I do about:

Reality television
Life on other planets, the search for
U2, the postponed tour of... actually, just U2 generally
The fashion industry
Marvel comics

There are more but I will start getting really offensive... yep, more offensive than that Marvel thing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

numbness is not really a feeling

After a day of rather full-on teaching I feel pretty much like I am floating. I am always going to be glad when Wednesday is over, for the next few months. I ran into a colleague who said, 'It's a bit like that at the start of the semester'. Help! I had kidded myself we were well into it (3rd week of 13... well, that's really about a quarter of the way through). My Friday teaching is up to the 4th week, which means in 9 days it will be half way through as it's only 10 sessions. I like those kids but really, it's all too much already. Sorry if you are used to hearing from me on a relatively regular basis. I am just flat out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ivor and harry jamming in heaven with john lennon and micky dolenz

I always liked Ivor Cutler and thought about him quite often. Now I have heard he is dead. I was listening to some of his radio plays only a few weeks ago. They were a bit gruelling but pretty enjoyable in the main. You couldn't really do something else while you were listening to them. His ordinary records were patchy but when they were good were excellent.

Also, Harry Seidler is dead. I liked him too in a funny way but thought about him less than Ivor Cutler.

Micky Dolenz isn't dead but can go to heaven, jam freely, and return to Earth any time he feels like it.


I always wondered if Werribee was an Aboriginal word meaning 'where I be'. I was stuck there too long this morning when my stupid Geelong train was late. This meant I had to take a taxi from the station rather than a bus. $21.
Taxi driver: Train is late.
Me: I know.
Taxi driver: Twenty minutes late.
Me: Yes
Taxi driver: Bus leaves at 10 past 8.
Me: That's right.
Picture shows nothing, but if the sun had come up properly it would have shown the interesting 1980s seat/protuberance structure at Werribee station. Also to the right the 1847 (it says on a plaque) station building, concreted sandstone. I wonder when the concrete was applied.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

happy anniversary to my blog

... is what I will be saying very soon. That's right, only 33 days to go until this blog is a year old. What a great year it's almost been. I'd take you through some of the highlights but I don't need to as they are all here for you to browse at your whim.
However seeing Joe Dolce on Where Are They Now has made me nostalgiac for things one is nostalgic about. Before there were blogs there were diaries. I never been very good at keeping diaries of past events except at times of great stress when for some reason I feel the need to memorialise my angst. I do however always have an appointments diary and I have kept them (future biographers take note) all the way back to 1994. Of course when I open my diary for March 12 1994 it is blank. For March 12 1995 it is just strange. It says 'Bass player - P'matta Rd. Smithy's.' These are music shops but why would I want to go to either of them? I can't play bass or anything like that. I am pretty sure that in fact I never have been in either of those establishments. I do see that only a few days prior (but I am sure unconnectedly) The Cannanes played at a club in Woollongong called Tsunami, supporting the Earthmen. My main memory of this was that the Earthmen, who were pretty popular at the time, specifically asked if they could play before The Cannanes because they said they were big fans and they wanted to relax and enjoy our show. Then after they played they left. There weren't many other people around. There were a lot of people outside the venue in the street.
On the 13 March 1995 I returned two books on the history of New Zealand to the library and I have the note to self 'Pesto'.
12 March 1996 is totally blank, as is that whole week. I was in the US touring with The Cannanes.
One thing that seems odd when going through old diaries is the number of people that I seemed to regard as close enough friends that they're coming over to do things with me, or they're having exhibitions I'm going to see, or whatever and now I can't remember for the life of me who they are, with any certainty. For instance in March 1994 someone called Barry is coming over to watch some of my It's Garry Shandling's Show videos. A few Barrys spring to mind but I didn't know I was ever close enough to any Barry to share in that way.
Anyway, that's my diaries from the early to mid-90s. Thanks for caring. If three people comment that they would prefer not to read anything more from my old diaries here, I will put them in a plastic box under the house for the silverfish OK.

Friday, March 10, 2006

thinking about pooh

I don't have particular faith in the people of the future to do anything sensible, but if this is ever going to happen, it's not going to happen in the past, is it: when is someone (other than me) going to stand up and say, what is (or in the future, 'what was') it with this Winnie-the-Pooh thing?

I grew up accepting the idea of Winnie-the-Pooh. Of course I wondered a little about the Pooh element but I managed to encompass the double standard of it without too much bother. And looking back it makes perfect sense to me that A A Milne could have put forward his MS of a bear called Pooh without anyone making too much fuss, even with the notion that it comes from a child's mind. For all I know when the WTP books were written, or in the Milne household/cohort there was no such word as 'poo' meaning faeces though there must have been that cry of 'pooo!' when something smelt awful. Surely?

But what happened in the 1920s is not even really the point. The point is that these days when silly columnists talk about dog or baby shit (you know, 'cute' shit) they often call, and spell, it pooh. So the origin is one thing, but these days many amongst us assume that Winnie-the-Pooh is actually a toy bear with a surname, or descriptor or whatever, that tells us he is a (as I would spell it, if I was going to spell it, which I ordinarily wouldn't) 'poo'. Walt Disney bought the rights many years ago and created a sanitised version of the characters, which are certainly very delightful in their original incarnation as illustrated by Ernest Shephard. But Disney did not sanitise the 'poo' bit, and even though Americans are more prone to using that cutism 'poop', I doubt that many fail to see the connection. They buy children's artefacts covered in for instance the words 'Pooh and friends'.

We all know the name of Winnie-the-Pooh, so it seems fairly natural to us even while we accept that it's unusual to call a child's toy/friend 'the Pooh'. What if he had been called Winnie the Shit, or Winnie the Crap, or Winnie the Manure? I suppose we would have accepted that, too, if it had always been the case.

I'm not trying to be funny, so don't worry if you didn't laugh. I don't even think it is funny. I suppose it just belongs in that strange doublethink category full of things that life's too short to worry about.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Overheard snippet of conversation between two middle-aged colleagues, man and woman. I call them colleagues but I don't actually know who they are, just know them by sight.

She: Do you know your students' names yet?
He: All the good looking girls! (with the suggestion of: 'of course')
She: I'm luckier than you because there are so few boys. I know all their names.

What that last bit meant I am not entirely sure but I was only walking past so didn't get his reply.

Speaking of walking past I do get frustrated. I overheard a student saying 'So she called me up and said, I'm sorry but I can't be your best friend anymore because...' and I was walking past, in a stream of human traffic, so I missed the rest of it. Damn! I so much want to know.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

please don't analyse this dream

I was an up-and-coming comedian in an outback hotel in the 1970s - white plaster walls with yellow sunlight, all the men in yakka clothes, from the outside it probably looked Russell Drysdale-ish. I wanted to make a good impression with my wry ocker humour, but I had very thin hair and had been bitten by something on my scalp very visibly from the front. I had been writing with red ink and the ink had got on my fingers and made a small repetitive mark on my scalp when I gingerly rubbed my bite. If I had been able to find a sink to wash it off, I could have and no-one would have known.

Sources of dream elements:

1. Seeing Oz the Rock and Roll Road Movie again just over a week ago the part where Dorothy goes to the fashion boutique run by the Fairy, I thought 'that looks like a pub in a Russell Drysdale painting
2. A few days ago reading Jon Stratton's Race Days he discusses the Barry McKenzie films
3. I was writing with a red pen just before I went to sleep
4. I was thinking yesterday, I'd love to go back to the Yakka seconds shop
5. Mia pointed out last night there was a white tail in the laundry.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

a barbecue, a hot day, the library, drinking water etc

Yeah so on Friday night we had this barbecue and Julian, Nicole and Ellen came round. Ellen is about to go off to Shanghai to run a bar and so we won't see her for a few years although it has to be said she moves in such rarified circles, and so do we, that we've probably seen her about twice in the last two years. Mia made a huge amount of food including this amazing orange rice dish which I have always enjoyed and always will. Luckily she made so much of it I was still eating it two days later (without a break ha ha) but I wish there was more of it. It was actually a really nice night. Nicole and Ellen have set themselves up as this kind of comedy duo with a set range of put-downs. When I say 'kind of' - I suppose I shouldn't.

I should blog immediately something happens. That was two days ago and I can't remember much of it. You lose. I wonder if that nice expensive bottle of Margarer River cab sav had anything to do with it.

The next day I was at the Baillieu most of the afternoon trying to get this study guide written for the first year subject. It's looking OK though a bit conversational. I am trying to be exceptionally fair to all sides in, for instance, the History Wars where I do have very strong feelings. This means you end up writing things like 'many people would say' or 'it can be argued' - phrases that if a student used them in an essay I'd be circling them and writing harsh criticisms like 'passive'! But what can you do. I never use the term 'politically correct' but if I did I would say political correctness these days is all about pandering to red-faced blustering right wing shits who demand their untenable, transparently ludicrous biases be given equal space. If you are one of those red-faced blusterers, I know how that sentence would look but maybe you shouldn't be reading this anyway.

On Sunday morning I reported bright and early at Jacana wetlands to do my bit for Clean Up Australia Day. Not only was there no-one there, the whole area looked suspiciously clean. They'd done it without me! Cheated of my chance to tidy locally, I instead drove to Jack Roper reserve which is on the east side of Broady where I knew some official CUAD stuff was going down. I was issued with a sack and the instruction to do the lakefront (it's a lake but really it's a retarding basin to prevent flooding further down the creek, which is probably useful since the creek runs through Fawkner Cemetery). I filled three sacks, which felt good, and exchanged brief pleasantries with some of my fellow cleanuppers, which made me feel communityish which is what I really wanted. I saw a dead rat floating on its back (luckily I had already told God I was going to leave anything organic) and I collected many, many empty corn tins. I surmise corn must be part of the yabby-catching process? Don't really know. Also, there were a lot of empty flour bags around. Can't imagine what that's about.

One of the interesting bits was fishing plastic bags out of the water. There were a lot of shopping bags but also the kinds of bags used to contain salty snacks eg Smiths, Burger Rings etc. They become very attuned to the water and tear in the water when you try to get them out.

What I can't understand is why people put lids on bottles, then leave them lying around. It's like some kind of grand self-deception or zombie-ish going through the motions. They put the lid on to show they are not the kind of uncivillised moron who would throw a lid, then a bottle on the ground. So they neatly reunite them and then throw them on the ground. So when someone wants to retrieve and crush them they have to unscrew the lid.

I don' t actually think it's very constructive to clean up other people's stuff and curse them while doing it, however. We all make a big mess. While I'm cleaning up someone's mess in the Jack Roper reserve, someone else is tolerating, enduring or cleaning up mine.

I had an interesting experience later in the day with a car called Bwana. I was in our living room, which looks out over Jacana hill, and I saw a four-wheel drive parked on the hill (which is a public reserve). This infuriated me, partly because of course I have no time for 4WDs but I'd be infuriated anyway because (see recent post re: truck) I am sick of people driving motorised vehicles in the flamin' reserve. So I harnessed Millie and Charlie and walked up the hill to look at it. It was a new white 4WD and its number plate was, bizarrely and also annoyingly, BWANA. I walked around it and even took a picture of it with my phone. A little way down the hill was a middle aged man with three children. One of the children had a kite and I had noticed the kite a few hours earlier - before I'd seen Bwana (I feel like I'm giving a police statement). Anyway, I went up to the street and walked round to the other park entrance, and as I walked along Sunset Boulevard there, Bwana suddenly sped past me en route to Johnstone St.

Back in the park, I saw the kids were still there. Questions (no, this is not a comprehension test, just the things I wondered):

Did Bwana's owner know the kids?
Did Bwana's owner get freaked out by my looking at his car which he knew shouldn't have been parked there and speed off?
Am I the kind of suburban fussbudget who sees a conspiracy or for that matter a child molestor everywhere?
Since about three people a day use the reserve, why should I get so irritated when people drive their huge white porcelain tanks into it?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

now it's hot again

For the last three days I have woken up at 5:30, and it is actually cold, but today I had to accept what my mind knew but my senses railed against, that later on it would be hot. And now it is, as only a few minutes on campus has shown me. Nevertheless this is my favourite time of the year, because I have all glorious Autumn winter ahead of me. Very much looking forward to it. What an odd character I must be to not enjoy experiencing something as much as enjoying looking forward to experiencing it, but someone will tell me that's typical Aries-Taurus cusp, or typical Gen X, or typical dickhead.