Thursday, May 29, 2008

i've just been picking up dog shit in the back yard by torchlight

I saw Samuel Johnson so upful on Monday night after the bad stuff that's gone down in his life over the last few years, and he was saying, when I die and my life passes before my eyes, being a part of this short filmmaking project will take a considerable chunk of it. For me it will be the little things like picking up dog shit. I think Gandhi did that too, didn't he? While he was talking to Kruschev. It's great to do such humbling things because it reminds you how simply brilliant you are. I use the hand in a bag method, what'll I do when there are no more plastic bags?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

stamp it out

For some reason I can't put titles in my posts if I post at work* (I've decided to stamp out that ugly word 'blog' - at least in this region - what an ugly word, who thought of it?).
Just a general update on my lively mind, made more lively by the enormous amount of bicycle riding I've been doing lately. I am way into it. I hope it's not just another fad. Timing my journey so I can listen to PM in its entirety helps. Fortunately however much PM I miss on RN, I can pick up on 774 between 6 and 7. So it's all good. Eurovision was yet another debacle as the foul russian anthem that was not a patch on Greece and Armenia (two other strong contenders) or for that matter France or Bosnia and Herzegovina which weren't really strong contenders to the end but were very great (Bos/Herz's entry reminded me of one of my favourite films, Starstruck). If you didn't see it, here is Sebastian Tellier from France: This is most definitely the first time I have seen someone on Eurovision and thought 'I would like to hear more of that person's records'; though I did also like Turkey a lot and I think maybe Turkish rock and I have a lot in common. I hate comparing musicians to musicians, but these guys reminded me quite a bit of Magazine. Well the Eurovision excitement never palls. I wish you could get old contests though, I'd like to see the 1971 Eurovision or whatever. Or the 1990 one or, you know, olden days. Anyway now I am thinking of Starstruck. Here is a fabulous bit from Starstruck, all squashed up but the choreography AND the framing/camera work on this is sublime. And that reminds me, 'Starstruck' by The Kinks is just a fantastic song and not a million miles removed in some respects from the French entry in Eurovision you saw and heard above. By the way I mentioned Chris Smith a short time ago, but not the Chris Smith, but then I saw the Chris Smith on Saturday night, he seemed well, it was odd to have seen him on the evening of a day when in the afternoon I had been talking with Simon Grounds about Taralgon, and saying to Simon do you know Chris Smith he's from Rosedale, and we talked about Rosedale. Simon didn't know Chris but had seen him play guitar in a performance situation. The Saturday night was St Helens/ Love of Diagrams at the Tote. Well done everyone. On Sunday Mia and I did not answer the question: what is sumac?

*By the way I don't often post at work whatever you may have heard but I have been spending so much time there lately...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

some things I remember

In the early 90s a woman I worked with told me that the man downstairs from her was having a sexual relationship with a soap star (who she named but I won't). This story was in part about how she could hear everything that was being said in the immediate vicinity of her home. So the soap star was at the house and the man told him about a friend who had no teeth, and the soap star said, 'Christ, how does the poor cunt eat?' We had a laugh about this story when she told it and she said the line many times over the next few days in imitation of the soap star's hoarse, coarse voice.

********

For a few years I went out with a woman who was prone to chucking berkos at the drop of a hat. Once we were driving to Newcastle and I found that a cassette I had got off the front of a music magazine - you know, Select or Vox or something - was in the glovebox divested of its shrink wrap. I had no interest in the tape in question and would not have expected anyone else to have any interest in it, as it was just the usual major record company puff material that you would have expected on that kind of artefact; I would probably have never taken the shrinkwrap off it, myself. So I asked her if she had removed the plastic. She went ballistic at the accusation and the rant lasted well over an hour (while she continued to drive) - the worst I recall though I could probably think of others if I had to. I think this might have been the time she had to pull the car over to vomit, she was so angry at this accusation. A few weeks later she told me she had thought I had left the tape there for her as a present, and so she had taken the shrink wrap off. And I'm not kidding.

********

Once I was walking along Lennox St, Newtown with a small amount of shopping including some Coco Pops. Two itinerants, man and woman, came up and insisted I give them some money, but I refused. The woman tried to grab my Coco Pops but could not wrest them from me. They moved on and I heard her say to him, 'I almost got his Coco Pops'.

********

The song 'Reminiscing' by Little River Band (LRB) has been played on the radio over four million times. Not all the group wanted to record it at the time but later came to see it was actually a successful hit song.

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The Swedish Chef from the Muppets was in LRB, not many people realise this because in LRB he didn't wear his hat.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

just felt like saying hi

Hi, I'm doing some laundry. It may or may not rain tomorrow but the bureau says it won't. We are having pastizzis and a weird salad for dinner. Today I missed the last train to get me to the city before 7 but it was OK because the validator wasn't working. Also I found an almost full up free coffee card and I got to Pascoe Vale Station tonight just as it started raining very heavily, then got off at my station just as it stopped. There were some downsides to the day but they were just worky things you don't need to know of. See ya later!

Friday, May 16, 2008

gurus

I am so glad that, whilst listening to Steve Cannane this morning on RN, he did not once refer to Chris Smith as 'our science guru' as Fran Kelly has been so wont to do. The ABC has a thing about gurus (regular RN listeners will note that they have a green one). SC just called him a 'science correspondent'. I suppose in CS's case the guru tag was a flash way of avoiding saying he was a science journalist. Anyway, I find that regarding CS as a science correspondent makes his various stories of mouse experiments far more bearable than if I were to regard him as a guru. And that's all from me with 'Friday morning comment'.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

four coincidences

#1. This morning I read an article by a writer/historian I will refer to as AT, about a specific pre-WWI suburban settlement. In the afternoon I emailed a regional academic I will refer to as MF to ask her details on a historical figure, AL, I have been asked to write a biographical snippet on. She told me that AL's father was one JL, a forester who died in the early 20th century. The book about JL was entirely unconnected to the article I read in the morning, yet it was written by the same AT.

#2. This afternoon I opened a 1930s pulp novel written by another historical figure, CS, who I have similarly been asked to write a biographical snippet on, but who has otherwise no connection to AL. In the list of other books by the same publisher is a book written by someone with exactly the same very uncommon (woman's) name as MF.

#3. In Readings this afternoon I saw a record by the Sand Pebbles. I thought 'I wonder what the Sand Pebbles are doing'. When I got home they'd sent me their record.

#4 How often does one get such an extraordinary batch of coincidences together in the one day? Coincidence!

Monday, May 12, 2008

just a minute

I have been a fan of Just a Minute since the 70s, and I have recently been enjoying two varieties of the same show, one on BBC radio 4, which is the current show (presently off air but I'm sure it'll be back soon) and the other is what I suppose is a 1980s version though nobody says how old it is, which Radio National play at 5:30 on a Monday morning. This is so secret, it's not even in the Green Guide (I think it's just listed as 'comedy', which in the case of Just a Minute is true enough, but in the case of some of the other shows in this timeslot throughout the week such as the execrable My Word and the bizarrely appalling My Music, would be better described as theatre of the absurd). There is something to be said for both versions, but since I was just listening to the 5:30 am one a short time ago, I will briefly talk on that.

JAM began in the late 1960s with a host ('chairman', they say) Nicholas Parsons and four panelists: Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams. I feel I can speak freely about all of these people because the latter three are dead and the first is still completely alive and my freely expressed opinion of him is that he is brilliant - after all, he wrote Grimble and Grimble at Christmas, didn't he. Derek Nimmo I always found a bit of a bore; here he's the kind of Frank Muir of the panel, i.e. satan. Peter Jones I have a soft spot for - good comic actor - though in JAM he is more like the everyman, never really cuts it, makes us feel better though. Kenneth Williams is an extraordinary genius.

If you don't know the show I will tell you (and not ask you 'what on earth have you done with your life up till now?'). The notion is that you speak on a given subject (I have heard this so many times I have probably committed it to memory) without repetition, deviation or hesitation for one minute. If you do so you get a point, though of course most people can't. If someone else challenges you on one of the above factors, and is successful, they get a point and they take over for the remainder of the minute. Of course like most of these things (News Quiz on Radio 4 is a contemporary example) the game format is hardly relevant to anything, it gives it an edge and an ostensible purpose but the real competition is the show-off aspect of it.

I have already dismissed two of the original panellists. Kenneth Williams was recently the subject of a two-part documentary on Radio 4 discussing his last days - it is the 20th anniversary of his death probably or possibly by suicide, this year - and much was made in that, quite accurately, of the way JAM allowed him to make much of his great general knowledge. A few weeks ago on the RN repeat of JAM he gave a minute's soliloquy on Giotto which was simply magnificent, particularly for being apparently entirely off the cuff. He was also exceedingly erudite, but at the same time, did a lot of his JAM delivery in a bizarre series of elongated and strangulated sentences that make it often quite impossible to understand what he is saying. He freely admits on the show (sorry to cut back and forth in tense) that this is a deliberate ploy to maximise his chances of winning, though of course it is also often very funny. Clement Freud, who was apparently a well-known TV chef of all things and then a Liberal politician, is a lot more whimsical - showing a sharp wit particularly in constructing absurd scenarios based around a pun (he came a cropper in this morning's show when the topic was 'Getting out of a Maze' and he started on a monologue about corn and was pulled up on it because 'a maize' is incorrect English) or making humorous plays on other people's previous statements. Like Williams, he is also a joy to listen to and probably would be even if you didn't understand English, maybe not for as long as if you did understand English.

The shows of the early 80s, which is as I said what I assume we are being played on RN at the moment, are not quite timeless. There are some veiled references to Williams' sexuality (not, of course, from him) and some other generally old fashioned explorations of anxiety over ladies' underpants et al which still is the stock-in-trade of British comedy I suppose but at least they cover it up a bit better now (oo er). I noticed in this morning's repeat that Parsons was still referring to the usual team, but I don't think I've heard one in months that featured the four originals, usually three of them plus a guest which has generally been a woman, to whom they often defer and patronise in various ways. In this morning's case it was Victoria Wood who really did quite well.

If you only ever heard the Kenneth Williams/Clement Freud JAMs you would wonder how they could keep the show going without them. Freud is still fairly regular in the program today, and he must be in his 80s surely, but in fact the format is sufficiently strong that it is entirely sustainable. Such a simple premise, and might I say, not only is it a funny thing to listen to, it does make you appreciate much about spoken English that you might otherwise not consider, not that it's educational or anything, except inasmuch as the repeats show us that Kenneth Williams was one of the great minds of the 20th century, not in an all-round sense because I don't see him as a marvellous creator and innovator, except as an interpreter of other people's work, but also in the sense that he had an exceptional capacity to respond and reflect, and that's not to be sneezed at.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

goodnight mr kenzie

Kenzie is staying for a few days which of course Charlie loves particularly because she can be a complete drama queen about it. Here she is staring him down in her inimitable style. He takes it on the chin.

(Note Millie on the right, asleep and generally not giving a loose root)

So Kenzie and Charlie's eyes are kind of locked, and Charlie will occasionally whine conversationally, though frankly he's not an innocent and will provoke situations with Charlie particularly in cases of getting pats from the humans, which normally wouldn't be top of Charlie's priorities but suddenly becomes very important.

Friday, May 09, 2008

gordon

Surely (I hope so) this week spells the peak of Gordon Ramsay's extraordinary overexposure in Australia. A few weeks ago I would not have been able to put his face to a name. This week he is seemingly on television all the time, in one of two ridiculous television programs, a british one and an american one, that both always run to the same script. Oh and apparently there is also a game. If there is more to tv at present than Gordon Ramsay and CSI I can't seem to find it (well, admittedly Mia did tape an episode of Young Ramsay (no relation) for me so that was something - why can't all tv shows have Syd Heylen and Briony Behets on them). Yesterday I was having my morning coffee and a girl said to her boyfriend across the table, 'Gordon Ramsay thinks his kids swear too much'. Last night I got out the Green Guide and Gordon Ramsay was on the front, swearing too much. I went to Glenroy Noodles and they were playing a video of an old Gordon Ramsay show in the shop. I am being swamped by this idiot. I told Mia and she said oh just blog it but I knew that wouldn't do any fucking good.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the waste land

Twice at Broady plaza Coles (the second time last Sunday) I have refused a plastic bag which was already nicely hand-padded out on the rack for me to use, only to see it ripped from its holder and thrown in the bin: If you won't have it, no-one can! I know morale is low at Coles so I have not made a fuss.

This morning in Parkville I saw a council worker who had parked his vehicle in the street but left it running, so, emitting needless exhaust, so he could run a leaf-blower over the pavement - it was drying the dew more than it was blowing any leaves, and as I went by he directed it towards a gutter drain where there was a bit of detritus collected and succeeded in dislodging a bit, but didn't really try hard at all. It was all pretty pathetic.

Now I take a bike/train combination to work I enjoy being self-righteous about this kind of stuff, one more bit of s-r I can dabble in.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

where young people (age 2) are at

Two jokes from today:

Around 11 am, April is playing (i.e. throwing on the ground) some fridge magnets. She has an 'A'.
April's mother: What starts with A, April?
April: (joyfully): D!!!

Around 5 pm, Laurie is looking through some stuff in a bowl in our living room and finds a stamp.
Laurie: What's this?
Laurie's father: That's a stamp.
Laurie (throwing it down dismissively) Tea bag.

dirty on the shovel


This is happening in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in a few weeks. The observant will notice the central figure in this poster is based on the woman in the Stems' audience from Sunday. I couldn't see her face at the time so I imagined what it would be like. I originally rendered pretty much the whole picture as a drawing, with the crazy awful people up the front by the stage, but it didn't come out that good so I just isolated one of the people at the stage and forgot to put in the stage. And added a beetle. Well, you know, I don't have many ideas these days.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

loved this


From today's Achewood. I don't know if there's such a thing as a 'friend's arrest' but perhaps there should be, for your real friends anyway. The rest of this strip was great too particularly the masculine resolution at the end, but I can't help thinking there's going to be something new at the Achewood shop before long.

raining

It is raining. I have an apple and three bananas. It is payday tomorrow. I have been at work since 7:30 this morning. I read Christopher Koch's The Memory Room during the week. I think I will have a cup of tea.