Thursday, June 26, 2008

holy shit!

Yesterday evening I got on the train at Strathmore going north and a young guy was talking to a friend on one of those hands free things so he seemed really to be talking into the air. He said 'Uh, Strathmore' and the friend said something and he said 'Oh, bullshit, what do I do?' and it was pretty clear he was going in the wrong direction. He said, 'How far to Southern Cross?' and got an answer, then said he'd talk to his friend soon. And then he just went and sat down. And I thought, do I say something to him like, 'you do realise you're going the wrong way?' and then I thought, oh well he's young maybe that was some kind of elaborate sardonic game, I'll stay out of it. But then after about five minutes he said to the woman next to him, 'Excuse me, how far is it to Southern Cross?' and she said, 'you're going the wrong way' and he got up and she and someone else said to him, 'it's about ten stations in the other direction' and we were at Oak Park by this stage and she said, 'You're going to have to get off here, and go under the platform and catch the train going back that way.'

'Holy shit', said the guy. And alighted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

things i also remember

The seventies were definitely a more innocent time.

* Presaging the invention of the video recorder, at the age of seven I made a cassette recording of my own commentary on the cartoon Road Runner. As with many of the video recordings I make from television today, I did not return to this recording later.

* Our family moved to Scott Street, Hawthorn in 1973. Years later my mother and I were driving along Power Street Hawthorn and she pointed out the house the family nearly bought in preference to Scott Street. I was overcome by the alternative path my life might have taken, convinced it would have been much better, assuming anything would have been.

* When I discovered that my Grade 2 class (1972) would be held in the same room as my Grade 1 class (1971) had been, I was very unhappy and in fact I believe I cried. I assumed we would have a different room each year. My best friends at the time were Felicity Provan and Mark Gurvitz. Felicity thought my objection to this situation very unusual. I can't remember if Mark had a reaction.

* Mark Gurvitz and I were punished very harshly once for smashing milk bottles in the playground. We were pretending to be these slapstick silent film star types from Sesame Street and doing the stupid things they did. We were only caught because some bigger kids dobbed anyway.

* Once in the early 70s I was playing (we wouldn't have called it that but I can't think of another word for it) with my brother and sister in the driveway of my grandparents' house when my grandfather came outside infuriated by the 'filthy language' I was using and told me off angrily. Since I wasn't using any 'filthy language' I was nonplussed and felt very important at having been accused of something I hadn't done, which didn't happen that often but of course it is never fair. By the same token I wouldn't have thought twice about using 'filthy language' if some had come to mind so maybe there was some justification.

* That's about all I remember actually but be fair, it was tough even dredging that up... I'm trying to be entertaining as I note that Belgians sometimes visit this blog and I want to give my all to entertaining those cultured people. What would attract Koreans?

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Which is scarier, the girl's sneer or the up-from-under camera angle on Daryl in the last 1/3 of the song? Either way, I strangely love this a lot more than I did when it came out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

things travel fast these days

You might recall the drawing I did a few months or weeks, I can't remember, ago for that Cannanes Newcastle film thing. Today I was looking around for reviews of their north american shows and found this: someone has redrawn my curly headed woman for another poster, this time a Mexican show (which is probably going to happen very soon). This poor person who was just sitting on a floor in Apollo Bay, and her aura is being tossed around the world... and she will never know.
I'm happy to be coopted like that, but as for that 'world's most indie band' tag, god...

(By the way, a hundred pesos is equivalent to about ten dollars australian.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the sixth or seventh huon album

Until about five or six years ago Mia and I, with Andrew and Ellen, played in a band called Huon. Tonight Mia and I mastered what is quite likely to be the last Huon album (the sixth or the seventh? I can't remember) for a vinyl/iTunes release. Mia had really done a lot of work on the record - she added all this extra instrumentation, etc over time so even though the tracks were recorded in 2002 or so, it would be wrong to say it was recorded then. There are a lot of great songs of Mia's particularly on there, including one called 'Falling' which I think is one of her best ever (though they are all grand of course). Also Ellen's well-known classic 'Paula' and a great tune of Andrew's known as 'Old Tree'. It was a great privilege to work with them and I think we did a lot of really good work. The vinyl will be an edition of a hundred, and the iTunes limited to four billion. Also Mia mastered her birdsong record which is another long-time-in-the-making epic which will turn a lot of heads. It will be three albums at least for Mia this year as the New Estate album will be out on July 7.

panel of judges video

john morrison

I really enjoyed reading John Morrison's The Creeping City, originally published in the late 1940s. Set in a hypothetical town in the Dandenongs (to Melbourne's east), the novel examines the pressures felt by a rural community which suddenly finds itself an object of desire by middle and upper class holiday makers - that is, it is undergoing gentrification. The process is outlined in detail suggesting that Morrison had some experience in this. Transport options play a major role, as do land prices of course and the attitude of shopkeepers, etc to the newcomers. Some residents fiercely resist the change; the children, by and large, are fiercely excited about it.

As a writer Morrison, who died last decade, is a fine example of a bridge between the old polemical style (he was a communist for much of his life apparently, and he does sometimes seem to be resisting having his characters launch into a tract) and a freer, observational one which at the same time - because he so often wrote short stories - comes close to that of the parable.

The Creeping City is of its age, I suppose, and (warning: spoiler) while the murder mentioned on the back cover blurb of the early 70s edition I was reading doesn't actually occur until about ten pages from the end, some of the relationships are too stilted and others too unproblematic (i.e., stock) it nevertheless paints a very effective portrait of a town without telephone or town power, based largely on berry farming, dependent on private 'cars' (taxis, I suppose) for transport, and yet with a view of the city lights at night. As people throughout the book are constantly observing, it's a way of life that's about to end. The surprise to me is it lasted as long as it did.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

mooroopna station monday afternoon just before 4

It was what it was

ambush mentality

Since I have started riding a bicycle to and from work on a fairly regular basis I have had a number of incidents allowing me to muse on my ancestors' contributions to my instincts.

Because I had a worse education than anyone I know, my understanding of this comes almost entirely from a book I read about ten years ago called How the Mind Works by an American called Steven Pinker; one of those pop science books by someone who is clearly groovy and who is also working a little outside their field of expertise but doing a better job of it probably for that very reason (I always teach better outside areas I am totally immersed in because apart from anything else I don't get bogged down in the detail). If I remember correctly Pinker claims in that book that the western cultural preference for a lawn with trees as a backdrop is innately satisfying to humans as evoking the daily existence of the prehistoric people of the savannah from which you and I and everyone else have evolved. The open space means we can see if anything is coming towards us to attack us; the trees mean if something does come towards us to attack us we have somewhere to run and hide. I may have got Pinker a bit wrong here but the gist is right.

If these ancient tropes are hard wired into us (don't you love those kinds of cliches; I have never heard the term 'hard wired' used any other way, is it really a process? In computers or what?) then I have another one. Numerous times, and it happened again this morning, I have had to fight the sense that I am riding into ambush. I know this sounds silly but it's a true sense. Riding on the bike path along Moonee Ponds Creek at Strathmore, for instance, one comes across a scenario of the creek to the right, and the major wall of the Tullamarine Freeway to the left. Here there is a wall of about waist height and then level ground of probably a metre across alongside the freeway wall. Here plants are growing with leaves and branches that hang off the wall toward the bike path. Most of the time at this time of year I approach these in the half-light, and my immediate response is to regard them as people standing by the pathway in a suspicious manner. The proportion is right - they look in an abstract sense to be people-sized - but the idea that people would stand at regular intervals along a fairly secluded bike path for any reason is absurd. Nevertheless I think you see what I'm saying. It's a primal impulse to be on guard against people-sized things in the distance, on your projected route, as they may actually be people.

This morning, the same thing happened again where I was only dimly aware of my intended course - I was travelling across the large park at the west of the Melbourne General Cemetery - and then somewhere in my ancient mind there was a distant alarm bell. I actually had to think about what the problem might be, and came to apreciate that it was an avenue of trees in the distance, with two people (walking away from me) in the middle of them. Allowing for perspective of the furthest trees, and comparison between the two people and those far trees, something in my head was telling me there was something that needed to be considered up ahead, potentially dangerous.

The really silly part of this is that, when for instance I'm driving and another driver does something wreckless or bizarre, I react calmly before I even think about it (most people are like this - it's a different kind of innate reaction, one that virtually bypasses the 'hmm, is that an avenue of trees or a death squad?' decision making process). So being prepared, while an advantage, is not the most commonly used advantage humans have. Also, if a group of people - unless it was those darned neanderthals maybe - wanted to ambush me, wouldn't they do it from some concealed position, rather than somewhere very conspicuous? I would have thought so, but maybe that's the trick.

That said, I do often think about that early scene in the film Children of Men where the burning car is pushed down the hill through the forest to the valley road to stop Julianne Moore getting away, or getting somewhere, I can't remember. That really pushed my buttons, which by the way, are directly connected to my hard wiring.

Monday, June 09, 2008

i can haz life of turgid monotony? And pancake?

Cu-ute! Asha has a hardline routine these days. She hides in the back part of the house most of the time, of course, and does not even necessarily emerge from wherever it is she is cowering when Mia or I show up. Presumably she meditates in the way cats do (they seemingly find it easy to completely empty their minds). She sleeps most of the daytime and then in the evening when the dogs come in, she's hiding from the dogs. However like me the morning is her best time. She particularly likes being hand fed scraps eg bits of breakfast pancake as seen here (she won't eat this stuff off the floor for some reason). She also lists as her likes: climbing the curtains, grabbing things off the walls, and being bitten on the lower back by that shit Bela.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

my playlist from 3cr tonight

The Sand Pebbles: Future proofed
Sparks: When do i get to sing 'my way'

Guy Blackman: Carlton north
The Raspberries: Tonight

The Muddy Spurs: Point nepean
The Farmers Boys: Apparently...
Kevin Godley: To fly away
Roxy Music: Same old scene

Janet Jackson: Black cat
Wings: Goodnight tonight

Spectrum: Mumbles I wonder why
Shanks and Bigfoot: Sweet like chocolate

Stereolab: Captain Easychord
New York Gong: Jungle window
Lurid Yellow Mist: Let's kill god again

Alva: Kill everyone
Laura Jean: Love is going to lead us

Saturday, June 07, 2008

in your car by the dugites

Well of course I would love this.

I note - this is *important* - that this is a hit record, like Ted Mulry's Jump in my car, where it is emphasised that the primary enjoyment about being in a car with a desirable person of the opposite sex is, in fact, that you are able to drive somewhere.
The drumming is incredible. The drummer doesn't try to mime it, how could he in that situation, but he is fucken engaging in the clip.

Friday, June 06, 2008

must be the change

Everyone but me seems to be cold today. The heating is on at work (that is not the explanation) I went out and when I came back it was extremely hot in there, I felt like it was summer, even though I had the window open etc, which I have to do (there is no option to change it). I was walking near the colleges and two girls were talking to a boy and one of them said I have to go inside, I'm freezing and she had this preposterous low cut top on, though surprisingly she wasn't hugging her cleavage to indicate coldness, but her waist which was more properly clothed (unusually in youngsters but there you are). She may have been freezing but let's face it she just wanted to get away from a boring boy. But I thought that's girls these days, they'll tell silly obvious lies like I have to go in I'm freezing because it's obviously a lie so whatever, then they'll yell out too much information about gynecology. I don't know if you've noticed that.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

hidden treasure

I wasn't tagged for this meme, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I feel like it. So there. And those previous three sentences and the Qs below and one or two answers taken from Ampersand Duck; see the link at sidebar.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Second year of PhD research. Conferences, maybe my first teaching forays. Mia and I living together for first time in Hartwell, I think, with Fiona and Guy, and perhaps later that year in Brunswick on our own. Or perhaps Brunswick happened the following year.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world

1. Olives particularly stuffed with something.

2. Booja mix or whatever they call it.

3. Tick tocks.

4. Pakoras.

5. Corn chips

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:

6. See 1-5 above

7. Rice crackers

8. Rye bread

9. Ryvitas

10. The muffins from castros, particularly sour cherry

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Buy houses and rent them cheap but fair

2. Build a model suburb

3. Squander

4. Keep the vast wealth a secret so we didn't have to move

5. Spend time in South America and Iceland and, er, Romania and Africa. And both Koreas and of course many parts of Australia.

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Journalist

2. Bookshop servist

3. Writer of computer manuals

4. Lugger

5. Christmas card designer

Three of my habits:

1. compulsively charming

2. saying 'would you like a little coffee?' (so I have been told, but actually, I have never said this)

3. coming back into the house a minute after I have left because I have forgotten something

Five places I have lived:

1. Richmond, Vic

2. Sandy Bay, Tasmania

3. Chippendale, NSW

4. Annandale, NSW

5. Bloody London

the greatest record ever made*

*on the day it was made, or perhaps even the month! But the top 40 wasn't a competition for christ's sake!

I am listening to the album this is from right now, while marking assignments. Feels good! I like Sherbet much more now than I have ever done! Because they are smart and great!

caught a glimpse

...of myself in the mirror at Gladstone Park

Monday, June 02, 2008


Our nephew Rohan and his mother Kerstin are in town for a few days. It is Rohan's birthday today (3) so we were lucky that we took him to the Aquarium yesterday as if we'd taken him today he would have cost sixteen dollars. The Aquarium is way cool, though it seems to have too many spiders and leeches - I mean it doesn't have that many, but considering it's an aquarium... you know. The sharks are the lure throughout, and these were what excited Rohan the most in prospect, in fact, a shark bit our noses that very morning in the living room. Yet the sharks were always just around the corner, and never quite there. Until we came across them. Mia thought they looked a bit gummy but Rohan and I were suitably impressed (some kind of guy thing). The stingrays were also fabulous as were the fish with human faces. I keep thinking they looked like someone but I can't quite place him. Perhaps you know him. After the aquarium we went along Southbank and saw a man on a unicycle with Yahoo Serious hair (where does hair grow on a unicycle? You're so naive) and a man pretending to be made of cement, also, an irish man who got some people to tie him up in a bag but his spiel went on for so long we had to leave.

Now it is the next day and I have been blowing up balloons for Rohan's birthday to the extent that I no longer really need to breathe. Did you know the lungfish is an ancient species with only one lung and in times of low water it can breathe air?