Monday, October 30, 2006

truly great joke I made

We were driving in Bendigo and I didn't have my (Mia's) camera.

Stephen: Why don't you have your camera? Did you run out of memory?
Me: Yes, so I forgot to bring it.

There was actual canned laughter!

(Actually, what I said was 'No, I forgot... er I mean "Yes, so I forgot to bring it" but who needs realism).

Funny, it doesn't seem that funny now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

public records office

Spent the afternoon in the public records office. This is genuinely one of the greatest places to go. Like an op shop you rarely find what you're looking for but you may well find something better. In this case I was a little disappointed; I waded through quite a bit of mid-1980s administrative bumf from Sandringham Council and really didn't get much out of it. That said it's amazing what survives merely by dint of it being in a council archive. I read a bit of municipal archives correspondence from the late 1950s, all these job applications from teenage girls who want to be the person selling the tickets at the pool. Imagine if you were some 19 year old in Spotswood in 1956 writing a job application out on lined paper with a fountain pen all badly spelt and mundane, and some mystical thing appeared in front of you and said, 'You know someone's going to be looking at that page in a huge building in North Melbourne in 50 years', what would you say? Best answer wins the final Ulker Cikolatali Gofret bar out of our fridge, unless we eat it first.

Like the SLV the genies are everywhere or at least I assume that's what they are, loudly dominating the proceedings, I had to leave a table I was sitting at because of these oldies reading loudly from some old register, and most annoyingly there was one name - something like Hamilton or Renton or something ending in 'on', and they both kept pronouncing the 'on' part very prominently, as though it had some significance, 'not Hamilten, not Hamiltin, oh no, it's HamiltON' was the inference (in a Kenneth Williams 'not an asp' voice I reckon). Like people who say condOM although there's no other word like that. Is there? We don't say LondON or randOM... anyway. I do love the PROV. They have so much stuff. And if in this case everyone else's stuff looked a little more interesting than mine well, I'm happy for them.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

dappled sunlight nonsense

Never mind your problems, what about the hassles I face trying to read things off my laptop screen while the train is passing through trees and sunlight. I suppose there was a time when people enjoyed this type of thing but let me tell you I have important work to do, work I had a whole week to do and which I now have an hour and a half to get finished, and damn it, I am not going to put up with all this dappled sunlight nonsense.

And for my next meaningless gripe:

I had a particularly nauseating lecturer as an undergraduate who used to rub his/her hands together in faux Dr. Frankenstein style and promise us ‘coffeeee!’ This was the days when an addiction to coffeee was a slightly edgy, terribly cosmopolitan thing to have, a bit like addiction to sex was in the early 70s. I was way up for it then (later clarification: I mean addiction to coffee in the 90s, not addiction to sex in the 70s... OK?) But as long-term readers of this catalogue of complaints and self-flagellation will know, I do occasionally wrestle with this demon.

In consultation with Dr. Clarkey (a user who was once a beacon of hope since she did not drink any coffeee until she was about 45 but not with Dr. Schoen whose general attitude is, one should always do whatever one wishes to do – imagine how society would crumble if we were all like that)(mind you she is not much of a coffee drinker) I have negotiated a significant reduction in my intake and it seems to be working, although of course I drink tea like it was air, and as I am now a nose breather you can imagine how stimulating that is.

The above was written yesterday morning and I admit I succumbed a little to a ‘reverse macchiato’ from Castro’s, the acknowledged gnarliest coffee dump on campus, yesterday and then in the evening before we went to see Children of Men, had a little Turkish coffee at Anatolian, which is the closest thing Broady Plaza has to a restaurant this side of La Porchetta’s (I don’t mean geographically though in fact, it is geographically this side).

We enjoyed CoM a lot. It was really well designed and had a neat story and a bit of good dialogue. I thought the stormtrooper symbolism was a little weak since the Britain of twenty years’ hence as depicted in the film was all about nationality (and nationalism), not race, which for some reason seems – not exactly less sinister, but not quite comparable in a satirical/metaphorical way.

I like it when things are unexplained in films, yet still seem quite plausible. The infertility thing is totally unexplained, as is the fertility thing. The last half hour when the camera (i.e. what we are seeing) gets blood on it is kind of bizarre, because we’ve never been given that documentary sense before, but I guess it works. I sort of half imagine that they got fake blood on the camera lens but couldn’t afford to reshoot, but who knows. It doesn’t detract.

I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to be thoroughly gruelled.

We saw it at Broady Hoyts, with about eight male teens two rows behind us. They were pretty well-behaved throughout the actual film (I think one of them made a loud joke once in an admittedly slightly unconvincing-manipulative-explanatory scene) but as Mia pointed out the time we really heard from them was during the trailers when the second Jackass film was being promoted. Phew! After their excited revelry in the face of that 45-second piece of… stuff… I’m surprised they didn’t want to curl up and go to sleep for a while, or at least have a bowl of nutri-grain.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

funny pleb

One of the things that any ongoing user of the State Library of Victoria's research facilities (as opposed, I'm guessing, to the people that go there to take heroin or sit at a table with their schoolfriends) has to get used to is the way that they become de facto staff members. We should all strike for the right to get a little kickback every time we show someone how to use the photocopy card machine or where the domed reading room is, and so on. But yesterday took the cake (and now I think about it perhaps this is where I got on the 'I'm an elitist freak' jag of below) for making a library user feel like a zoo animal.

I was using a microfilm reader to look at the Broadmeadows Observer from 1991 and a young guy about 20 came by and burst out with 'wow - you can just call up anything from the past in there!' I am prone to the worst interpretation of anything I don't understand so I checked myself and said 'what do you mean?' and he said 'You can just look at anything on that!' - he obviously thought it was some kind of history computer. I said, well, no, you have to get microfilms out of there - and I indicated the rows of drawers containing microfilm. And he said, 'Oh so you've got a bit of paper in there?' (he obviously hadn't registered the word 'microfilm' or considered it jargon). I showed him the actual reel of film. He regarded the cabinets and walked away saying 'This place is incredible!'

I know, I know, I should lighten up. Maybe I didn't smoke enough pot in '96.

it's all so nasty

I wonder what it would really be like if Labor won the next election. I seem to recall the Hawkeating government was a little frustrating at times but overall I see it all with a rosy glow. For the first few years of Howard it was almost invigorating, he was so wrong. Now he's been in power for so long there is no particular angsty glee to be had from his wrong, wrong, wrongness. His face still reminds me of the toothless one of those two grumpy old men who provided commentary on The Muppet Show, and his voice - particularly his accent - sounds like a colossal put-on to me. I am sure as soon as he leaves office, if he doesn't do it feet-first which seems increasingly likely, he will revert to talking plummy like he used to. It is quite extraordinary to me that this man who has ruled the country for a quarter of my life seems (am I imagining this?) diametrically opposed to me on almost everything. It reminds me a bit of a young man I was sat next to at a conference dinner in New Zealand; absolutely everything that interested him, or that he believed in (a lot of stuff about immigration etc, and he worked in an abbatoir) was so much the exact opposite of what I know to be right, I started to get paranoid - obviously I've smoked too much pot (in 1996, which was about the last time I smoked pot, and I stopped because it made me paranoid - my present state being proof of this). I started to think, 'this guy's a plant'. With Howard it's much worse, as I have to accept that a significant proportion of the people I see in the street actually voted for him. It's an indictment on me, I suppose, that I simply cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would do such a bizarre thing; I would put it on par with... um... all those other things I'll never understand, like people who abseil or people who practice witchcraft, except in most cases those things don't impact on others negatively. Maybe I'd put people who voted for Howard on a level with people who practice witchcraft and human sacrifice.

Obviously this is why me and politics don't go together. My views are extremist and naive, and I cannot really see room for compromise. I suppose part of this comes from the fact that I see incredibly basic flaws in the way human civillisation is organised, things that will surely never change, I am thinking particularly of the meat industry, or meat eating per se, but I am sure there are many other aspects. (Having said that I don't particularly condemn most of my friends for being carnivores any more than I would condemn them for abseiling. But that's part of it - I see no benefit to irritating people who won't change their ways because I want them to, and for that matter I allow for a 1% possibility that I may be wrong, a 1% that, though small, tugs at my elbow anytime I make the mistake of trying to analyse these things). I have numerous other quirky opinions about what would make the world a better place, and these are all distinguished only by the fact that they will never happen not only my lifetime, but anyone's, ever. This might be just how people come to be in their 40s. I suppose I felt roughly the same way twenty years ago but then I did not feel entirely enfranchised or empowered by dint of my age and inexperience. Now I just realise I am massively out of step with, let's say 90% of the population of earth. That still leaves an extraordinarily huge 10%, but actually the figure is probably under 1%, so I don't know why I generously gave myself ten.

On balance, I have no real idea what most or many people around the world are likely to think. And come to think of it I suppose my ignorance of other cultures and my belief in the value of local culture in part because whatever it is, it's local, puts me on a level of empathy with John Howard. That makes me feel a lot better.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

mouth breathing

I read the first sixty or so pages of a book on asthma management written by a man who had been big in a big pharmaceutical company and then went all natural. And he recommended for one thing that asthmatics should not breathe through their mouths but through their noses like normal people as the nose is a filter. There was a bothersome sentence, repeated a few times in this how to breathe chapter, saying something along the lines of 'if your nose is blocked, turn to the chapter about unblocking your nose now!' Anyway I had never thought of myself as a mouth breather, though typically for my snob approach I could readily identify plenty of others who are (and who I have quietly condemned for being so). So today I have been consciously breathing through my nose only and I have to admit it's true: I am - well, I was - a mouth breather. I actually find it quite irritating to close my mouth when breathing but now I have invented this new obsession I also find it irritating to open it when breathing. So you can imagine how I feel.

Meanwhile, drifting from topic above, not a bad weekend at the end of a fairly shitty week, I lost my mobile again (am fostering conspiracy theory) anyway at the end of Friday we went to Heide 1 to see Kim Donaldson's 'Between the Lines' exhibition and then I went home and ate a can of spicy lentil soup, not from the can, then went to the Evelyn to see World's End Press, Aleks and the Ramps, they were all I saw, Talk Show Boy and Seconds also played but I was there too late. Good night really. James and Miranda had a baby (not at the venue, but earlier in the day) and Toby and Suse are getting married... in a couple of years. Then yesterday in the day it was the first New Estate rehearsal for many weeks with all members in good spirits and working on excellent new songs. In the evening Mia and I went to Catherine McCarthy's party. Today I made pancakes and had Ashtray Boy rehearsal. Rupert has chicken pox. Tonight I stir fried many greens.

Friday, October 13, 2006

garry shandling and monty python and I

I must say I do think It's Garry Shandling's Show was the funniest show of the 80s, perhaps even beyond that.

One of those weird things that happens three or four times in anyone's lifetime, but I wish it would happen to me in things of greater consequence, but still: I remember walking home from work when I lived with Amanda in Egan Street thinking how I'd heard about this very funny program called It's Garry Shandling's Show and how it was a show about someone who lived in a show, etc, and I thought 'I wish they'd screen that here'. Then I looked in the tv guide and it was actually starting that night, at about 11pm on Channel 9. Serious!

I have quite a few Garry Shandling tapes, probably of about 7 or 8 episodes. I am amazed to find that there were four seasons - that's a lot of IGSS - and I have only seen bits and pieces, really. According to the Jump the Shark site, though, I seem to have seen many of the best ones - like the Fugitive episode, and the time travel/amnesia episode, and the Name the Schumaker baby contest (and the one where Pete thinks he's not the father of the baby and Garry flies to Chicago to quiz Jackie's old boyfriend and he knocks on the door and the boyfriend doesn't remember any Jackie Schumaker and Garry says 'Oh, what was her maiden name - that's it, Jackie Schunaker, and the guy says, 'Oh, sure I know Jackie Schunaker!' I mean seriously that is quality). (And the Jeff Goldblum one where they get locked in the freezer, I am laughing about that one now).

A few days ago, inspired by a Mojo feature on Monty Python, I was thinking about how I was a very early, young convert to MP - I remember Dad let me stay up to watch it when it was first being shown on the ABC (or, at least, when we were living in Kew, which was pre-1973). Can that be a genuine memory? He thought I would like, and he was right, the Terry Gilliam animations and at first that was all I really wanted to see. By the time we were living in the UK in the mid-70s, I was full on into it and the last series - without John Cleese and coincidentally not as good - was on. By this time no-one in the family but me was interested, I would stay up and watch it by myself. Anyway of course like many MP fans I bought the records and then there was this weird thing of learning sections of dialogue and reciting it with friends ('Your majesty is like a big jam donut with cream on top... your majesty is like a stream of bat's piss'. I'm sure none of us knew who the hell Shaw and Wilde were, or really 'got' the idea them standing around insulting Prince Edward, though I suppose we got some of it by context). Why the hell would anyone do anything so lame as recite bits of this show? I guess it marked you out as part of an esoteric clique back then.

To my shame I recall anyone who got the slightest word wrong was chastised.

I was way grown out of the whole schtick and was able to talk to girls and stuff by the early 80s when I was at a party and I heard a bunch of boys one or two years younger than me doing that same thing - reciting bits of Monty Python sketches - and then one of them said with glee, 'Hey we should write this stuff down!' That was when I knew I had wasted too much of my life already.

I suppose the humour of Monty Python was primarily that kind of humour of inappropriate interjections, social embarrassment, people talking one way and saying something else, etc. There was also a lot of stuff on the shows and records that would have made absolutely no sense to anyone after about 1972 - references to various British journalists, broadcasters (Joan Bakewell) and politicians like Reginald Maudling. (I must admit I smiled when I just recalled the cannibalism-in-the-lifeboat sketch where someone cries 'We're done for! We're done for!' and someone else says 'Shutup, Maudling.' I guess the name 'Maudling' is funny in itself).

Anyway, the reason this ties in to a program I now believe to be about 700 times better than Monty Python, the abovementioned IGSS, is that concepts, phrases and so on will pop into my head all the time from IGSS. I think this is broader than remembering dialogue (no, I didn't try to learn dialogue from IGSS) but it might go back to the same basic principle. A lot of the time things people say trigger songs in my mind, too. (As an example writing that sentence has put the fairly mundane Elvis Costello song 'Little Triggers' into my head - sorry, but it has!!!)

One thing that comes to mind as an example is from the Fugitive episode of IGSS, where Jackie and Garry are running from the cops (it turns out to be a toy helicopter - heh) and they see the teenage Grant Schumaker under a lamplight, smoking a cigarette like Bogart.

Jackie: Look Garry it's little Grant smoking! Aren't you going to say something?
Garry: I don't know... 'He looks really cool' -?

Perhaps it's a sign of a syndrome. Every time someone says, or I read the words, or words approximating, 'Aren't you going to say something?' my mind goes to that joke. Which probably doesn't come out too well in the above but it still makes me laugh.

Garry Shandling's film about being an alien from outer space was so appalling, I wanted to die when I saw it. But everything else he's done has been incredible, and I think he is possibly my favourite comedian ever - though I have to get over the general sexism, etc of some of the material (because I'm so po-faced and right on).

After IGSS he went on to do the second greatest comedy show ever, The Larry Sanders Show, a totally different proposition - totally - but every bit as good in so many different ways. The first season of this show is available on DVD and Annabel was nice enough to get it for me as a present a few years ago, and it's magnificent. It's a different kind of 'show within a show', but whereas IGSS was absolutely surreal, TLSS was very believable. I love them both. Only the first season of Larry Sanders is available on DVD and none of IGSS is available on anything, even YouTube has nothing. Even YouTube!!!

When I was in NY in '96 with the Cannanes we went to Aileen McNally's mother's restaurant (or was this '91? maybe - I think it was the same visit we saw Epic Soundtracks outside the Knitting Factory and Aileen tried to talk to him about Julian Clary who he didn't like) we ate at the table in the window and I got to sit in a chair that Garry Shandling had sat in. Look, it actually was a thrill, he is a hero to me on the level of Robert Crumb and Mayo Thompson... all these American men twenty years my senior, what's it all about?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


The bus driver was fuming about some 'stupid woman' who had wagged her finger at him, I think she must have been another driver at a crossroads. But a woman passenger just told him in her best Kath voice, 'Just think of something humorous, and you'll be right'. What a philosophy.

Speaking of 'she must have been', I seriously heard a student here on campus yesterday say emphatically 'should of!' I didn't realise people said this in real life.

hot day

It's going to be a hottish day today they say I intend to get to work relatively early and then cower there most of the day though I do have to get out to the state library at some point for more hijinx. Actually to trawl through issues of a Doncaster newspaper from the 1950s. I am looking for material on Park Orchards in the 50s and 60s. You got any? The question 'where's/what's Park Orchards?' doesn't count as 'material', thanks anyway.

The Sopranos wasn't on last night. How freakin' lame is that. But there you go. You remember Pete Shelley once sang about 'Nostalgia for an age yet to come'? Well, that was ridiculous, but I think that's what anyone who tries to watch any series other than Rove Live on television is fostering. We just know that in a few years television as we know it is no longer going to happen, anything close to a minority interest is going to be shuffled off to the side, so if we can watch a bit of a quality television series on a weekly basis like our ancestors used to, we should try. (Actually that's probably just me and Mia. No-one else we know is trying. I keep talking to my mother about the current series of The Sopranos and she says 'No! No! I'm only up to series three!' she gets it from the video place in Rathdowne St where they keep a record of where she's up to!)

Meanwhile on a really dependable series, Neighbours, things are spiralling out of control. I am utterly uptight about the Sky baby Carmella's cousin crazy shit, and I think the whole Sky's baby business is complete bollocks from beginning to end (surprise surprise but there, I said it). Sky has gone from being the most interesting Ramsay St character, with her manga and her discovery of 'new' music etc (I loved it when she tried to interest Boyd in ESG) to the most pedestrian. She's not even pedestrian now - she's lying down all the time and Karl's interference is even more ludicrous than usual.

Mad Max is moderately interesting, though I am reminded of the episode of It's Garry Shandling's Show where Garry is so uptight about the network boss Mr. Stravely coming round for dinner that he keeps imagining his girlfriend is verbally abusing him ('Stravely... that's a stupid name, isn't it?'). Warning: when you hear someone speaking as if they're talking through a megaphone from inside a shoebox, they're probably not really saying it. And all the time the Robinsons keep berating Max for running Cam over, there's never once any acknowledgement of extenuating circumstances i.e. he was the identical twin of an evil person who Max believed had just escaped from a secure location. Anyway whatever.

By the way re: the IGSS link above I notice that the author of that piece incorrectly claims Randy Newman sang the theme song. She's thinking of Cop Rock. But who isn't.

Back to Neighbours for a second, Katya - Ned I do not care.

Rachel - Stingray I think they should stay together.

Toady appears to have vamoosed with no fanfare. I assume he will return. Or a spinoff?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

temple of wisdom

The State Library was a drag yesterday with the following things happening:

A precocious young girl telling a librarian all about the school project she did on Burke and Wills while librarian is trying to thread microfilm onto a reel. The mother chips in with what the other kids did for their school project etc. The girl kept saying 'I know all about it, because I already did it'. The librarian's response was the weirdest thing though as she would only say 'that's OK...' to everything, like they were telling her they'd spilt milk in the kitchen.

Two private schoolboys at the microfilm reader next to me reading the New York Times for September 11 2001. One of them said to the other 'Did you know that Croatia's just invaded some country?' I won't say what school they went to but it has a purple uniform. (Clue to readers in the future: he was almost certainly talking about North Korea doing a nuclear test).

The photocopy recharge machine was not issuing receipts. No-one seems to know how to get it to do so 'because' as one staff member explained to me, 'it's private' (as in: it's a privately run operation).

Man chucks a berko at librarian in the Heritage Collections Reading Room because she says the extension cord for his laptop can't stretch across a walkway. 'It's just a farce, and you're a farce' he says. She adopts the pose of a patient monk, hands in prayer in front of her neck, and says 'Well I'm sorry you think safety is a farce but... I don't.'

100 years of electric trams

OMG, acting on a hot tip from one in the know, Annabel and I hastened to the 100 years of electric trams gala on the waterfront on Sunday. Harry the Wombat - the tram brass band - the tram from Malcolm - some genuine gunzels - it was incredible. I have quite honestly never had such a great time. See pics.

Friday, October 06, 2006

So are those steals from The Simpsons in the Family Guy meant to be IRONIC?

I mean, like, last night when Stewie is talking to pipe-smoking stockbrokers and he blows bubbles out of his pipe; or more comprehensively, the Lois/Marge is way too good for Peter/Homer thing. God, I don't really care, but god, it's annoying not to know exactly where they're coming from at The Family Guy. I suppose they're coming from the 'christ we're on a good wicket' school of television.

I am listening to loud Midnight Oil this morning, in preparation of course for this evening's prac-tease with the classic Cannanes line-up together again for the first time in 23 years as individual members strive to induction in the Indie Rock Hall of Fame in Otter St. It will be great to play music with Ole Man Gav Butler again.

I know many of you will remember my classic 'hell freezes over' quote back in the day but what can I say, Joe Walsh must of slipped something in my mickey. We were playing with the Party Boys at the time, the Ole Man Swanee line up. I met most of my best friends on that tour, at the Lady Bay as it happens. I lost them there too - swings and roundabouts. Every time I pop into that branch of Fishtails or is it Fishtales or Fishscales, down by the beach where the fumes make you sick, I think about those days, and wonder what Joe's doing. Then usually he comes back with some fish he found, or an action man with no head.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

and furthermore...

Last night I dreamt Mia was a long-running cast member of Neighbours. We were watching it and saw a scene where her character was knocked out with chloroform by the actor Simon May, playing a baddie. He administered it via one of those little puffer-brushes photographers use. I turned to her and said 'you must get hassled a lot in the street'. Like, she'd been in the show for years and we'd never discussed it, and it never occurred to me to bring it up before.

I found this picture on the internet, and didn't know what else to do with it. It's a private swim fun park in Rockhampton currently selling for $3 million.

i really like wrigley's sugarfree extra drops watermelon flavour

I have to say they taste quite a bit like bananas, which we haven't seen much of round this way lately. I feel like William Brown during the war. I mean I feel like he must have felt.

My desk here at work is covered in papers, papers, papers as well as some very scuzzy looking post it note pads and a cd in a repulsive paper sleeve that screams 'i have been in the bottom of a backpack for weeks now! weeks!' (yes, it's a lower-case scream - one of those). I also have some sampler cds what I was given by Michael at Readings. There is the putumayo groove sampler, a Trifekta release called Quiet Riot: Songs you need to listen to, a Spunk records sampler called Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste, and a Shock/Remote control release called strangely enough Beggar's Banquet. Additionally, a papermate red pen, a fluoro pen, a unipin fine line, a photocopy of an article called 'Case Study: Development in the snowy', three plastic sleeves, a spiral bound notebook, a history of Prahran, my diary, a small purple stapler with which I staple any small purples that come through, a telephone, a 'foldback clip' (are these what we used to call bulldog clips and if so, why?), a copy of yesterday's Australian, and some earphones. An embarrassment of riches, really.

So you see, it's possible to blog even when you have .01 of nothing to say.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

walked home from tram

It's about an hour's walk home from the tram. It must be very good for one. I ran and it took ten minutes. I took these pictures of the railway bridge with my phone en route.

Monday, October 02, 2006

things to do with gladstone park shopping centre

I was up at Gladdy a few hours ago and it was freakin' going off. If that means 'closing up for the night'. I bought some ginger, garlic, capsicum and coriander, also, some vintage margaret river cheese, and some tomatoes. Vine-ripened naturellement.

Why wuz I up at Gladdy? Well, like a billion other Melbournians, I was unable to travel home by train tonight, cuz there was a power outage of some sort on the lines, so I rang my mother and asked if I could, sorry, cud borrow her car to get home. She said I cud. And on the way home I bought the abovementioned at Gladstone Park Shopping Centre.

I also fitted in time to have a ride (it wuz a bit hot so I took my shirt off), and also took the opportunity to laugh at the punning possibilities of a 'reel' hose, ho ho. In a very whimsical mood tonight no doubt cuz I woke up at 3:30 this morning and did not go back to sleep.

I saw Vera di Campli as I wuz leaving work she wuz eating an apple.