Tuesday, December 31, 2013

phd thesis notes doodles # 4

These doodles are not in the notebook per se but on the back of a piece of paper which was tucked in there; specifically, a one-page program for a 4-day seminar called The Legacy of the Griffins: America, Australia, India which was held in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning in October 1998 (about eight years before I came to work there). I was surprised to see that this seminar was (1) so long ago: I talked about this on the radio last week (specifically, the tour of Eaglemont) and I said it was ten years ago; it was actually fifteen and (2) four days duration - I remembered it as a day. Anyone who has ever considered amalgamating Gumby, Huckleberry Hound and a vampire: I've already done it OK.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

phd thesis notes doodles #2

Such vibrant and kinetic figures. When I see the 'Singles' doodle I assume I was thinking about starting another fanzine.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

phd thesis notes doodles #1

At the age of 31 in 1996 I began my PhD thesis. It was a time of extraordinary activity and possibilities (many of which were realised in one way or another). A few weeks ago I found some early notes for the PhD - possibly not the first notebook which I think had a spine explosion during use (it was a 'yellow pad') but maybe the second. The notes themselves, mainly in pen or pencil (I guess laptops cost a billion dollars in 1996, anyway, I didn't have one) were actually quite interesting but what  I want to share with you is the doodles on the various dividers in the notebook.

I can't really understand why I was doodling in there, because obviously (?) most of the time I was taking notes, but I was being very prolific with the drawings. Go figure. I'll put some up over the next few days OK.

100 reviews # 8 - Nothin' to Lose, the Making of Kiss 1972-1975 by Ken Sharp with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons

‘We were caught up in this idea where everybody you knew in school was getting up in the morning and working nine to five, getting married, and having kids, and here we were living on the road, just being rock-and-roll gypsies.’ Gene Simmons, Nothin' to Lose (p. 250)

I don’t care about Kiss. Did I ever care about them? I quite like some of their 70s hits, and I liked them when they did disco. Probably my favourite Kiss record is either ‘I Love it Loud’ or ‘Kiss Army’ by Norman Gunston.

Yet, when I had the chance to borrow the new Kiss memoir Nothin' to Lose from the Moreland Library (Coburg branch) I grabbed it, and found it fairly unputdownable. I have noted the tendency in many of my coworkers to recreate with literature unconnected to their day job (the orking of cows), usually thrillers or detective fiction. Well, I have to say, I did interrupt Nothin' to Lose to consume the latest Garry Disher (Bitter Wash Road, highly recommended). I also took time out from it to read Mark Opitz’s Sophisto-Punk (which was interesting, though less compelling).

What is perhaps most impressive about Nothin' to Lose is the incredible cast of interviewees that Ken Sharp (presumably - Stanley and Simmons don't really seem to be much more than key informants) has assembled. Fans, industry insiders, members of other bands some now obscure and others infinitely successful and famous still, photographers, Kiss family members. Even a few people now firmly dead (not sure how that was managed, and I cheatingly looked up some Amazon customer reviews to see the critique made that some of the credited quotes are from other sources with no actual dates applied). (I also noted with interest that the most popular and respected of the Amazon customer reviews was by someone who mused about whether he'd actually bother reading the book or not given the 'sliver' he had viewed). 

The interviewees are not only varied and many but they also present variety in their views: not everyone is overwhelmingly positive about Kiss, then or now. Since I have no general view one way or the other (I'm listening to Kiss Alive on youtube as I type this now, and I have to say, I can't see them ever being faves, but of course I am nearly 50 and I've heard a billion things like this before, including I suppose a lot of things that were influenced by Kiss or at least made with knowledge of their work) I'm glad that there's light and shade here. Nonetheless, there is a lot of content clearly designed for the seasoned Kissophile to respond to (in a 'wow, that is so Peter Criss' kind of way). I guess I was really keen on seeing their context; so Kiss emerged around the same time as the New York Dolls and I guess they were generally seen as a poor second runner to that group. Once again, I've never really heard too much NYD (I'm listening to their first album now) and it's better than Kiss but you can sort of see a lot of similarities, particularly the formulaic music (or was the formula only developed since?). 

There are a lot of interesting bits and pieces throughout. One bit is the discussion of characters developed on the road: Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, for instance, worked with Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley to create a figure called 'The Bag': 'I'd wear a paper laundry bag over my head that I drew a face on, and I wore it over a particularly gross costume which was just sweatpants with my arms tucked in the legs coming out the knees'. Peter Criss created a frenchman called 'Monsieur Louie' (p. 303). Other pieces are the degree to which Kiss' manager Bill Aucoin was keeping ahead of creditors in the band's early days, funding tours on his Amex card (is that actually possible? Did Amex cards not have a limit provided you paid it off at the end of every month?). Another is the recruitment and reaction of new fans. Another is - surprise surprise - the terrible attitude to women. 

In sum, the book is a pretty triumphalist overview of Kiss' rise to stardom. It does put across a version of the early 70s in the US (the New York '72 period comes out particularly well). It doesn't say why Gene Klein decided to change his last name to Simmons, which you'd have to admit, is an odd thing to do given the fame of the actress Jean Simmons. It also doesn't entirely explain why, given that Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are plainly pretty down on Ace and Peter, these last two (who haven't been constants in the group at all) were happy to be involved in the book. 

There are also a lot of photographs, which don't impress me much but might interest some people. It's not their fault but Kiss were pretty ugly guys when they weren't wearing makeup, but then again, they look pretty ridiculous with makeup too. I don't know if you ever noticed that. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

dogs like to walk

The last week has seen many trips to the park with Barry and Ferdinand, almost always a 3/4 hour walk around the wetlands. There is, at a guesstimate, equal measures fun and fraughtness, which is apparently not a word. The fraught part generally comes courtesy of Ferdinand who decides to for instance chase a bicycle or a running person or (worst case this week) run on to a cricket ground.

As summer comes on for real one is once again impressed by how quickly the Moonee Ponds Creek can dry up, and the vegetation surrounding it changes speedily too, of course. This week there are at least two frog species making themselves very audible and literally tonnes of birds too (as well as two hares, seen carousing recently - I put Barry on the lead as I just wasn't up for half an hour of him running panicked through the undergrowth following the trail of something so five minutes ago).

Sunday, December 08, 2013

more demolition

I suppose it's premature to bemoan the loss of this 'kind of house' from the current 1, 000, 000 in Melbourne to what will soon be 999, 999 after this one in Pascoe Vale Road Glenroy goes to rubble, still, I can't help but think it sad. Particularly like the garage.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

dog walk glenroy

 Schminck new bridge railings over Moonee Ponds Creek near the Western Ring Road, very nice.
 Ferdie on road
 Barry and Ferdie tied up outside Silver Sage, Glenroy
 Barry (front) Ferdie (rear) - Barry panted after this walk for almost an hour.

intrepid explorer

Asha, the cat who few visitors to this house have even seen, and who has lived almost entirely within four rooms, this morning decided for no clear reason to venture outside. Evidence:

 Note the tail, what does this mean in cat language?

Then of course someone sneezed in Doncaster and she ran back inside. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

missing charlie


I do miss Charlie, she was a hilarious individual, with a huge amount of opinions none of them as far as I could see based in reality. She had this kind of vibrant grumpiness that only those with conviction could muster. It was such a shame she died so young. This was the day that she and Barry disappeared for a second and came back with ridiculously muddy feet and strong feelings of personal satisfaction. 18 January 2012. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

blood test

I am writing this from the waiting room at Dorevitch pathology where I sit with six others, five of them older than me, all of them sure here for something much more serious than what I don’t have (two weeks ago, I had a blood test for the usual cholesterol thing, and it showed a high level of potassium, which my doctor thought probably suggested that when they were taking my blood it percolated a little above the tourniquet, which apparently heightens the potassium presence; he’s got me to have a second test just in case). The waiting room is a nothing shopfront with a monster tv in it which is broadcasting Sunrise. There’s Kochy, with two people in cow costumes behind him. I see James Reyne is going to be on the Morning Show this morning. Sunrise is showing a ‘time-lapse’ video of a model being zhouzhed for a photoshoot, which I saw on facebook yesterday, and which they apparently now feel is a news item. (‘Former Aussie Vogue editor dishes dirt’).

This morning on RRR’s Breakfasters I heard an inspired ten (?) minute discussion about the advisability of people having two mouths. The underlying premise was that as people have two eyes and two nostrils, they should also have two mouths, for symmetry but also because we have so many functions associated with the mouth (in fact, I can think of at least three core functions, and a lot of secondaries). I guess the elephant in the room is that really, all we are is a mouth, or at least, that’s how we started. Sometimes I think maybe all I am is a mouth.

I see that the notion that WA may have to have an entire new senate election because 1300 ballot papers are missing only makes a tickertape along the bottom of the screen on Sunrise, but the news that Kyle and Jackie O are leaving whatever the radio station they are at, is a News Flash. Why on earth is that even worth my commenting on, I know that’s how this world works.

Things are going extremely slowly here at Dorevitch Pathology this morning and I have a feeling that while three people (at least, plus a friend of one of the of the people waiting) have been added, no-one’s gone through the system yet, after about ten minutes. It’s because they’re fermenting all that potassium in people’s arms. (There is a general muttering in the waiting room about the man who’s running the show here today, ‘he’s slow, he’s slow’).

I haven’t eaten since last night of course which is a hassle – and yesterday of course all I had was my usual 14 bananas, so… I am thinking I may go and eat at the Silver Sage, still my favourite Glenroy cafĂ© (sorry Dairy Queen, I do owe you a visit again).

Now we are on the Morning Show. Phone Hacking Scandal – 6 year affair between Brooks and deputy revealed (R Brooks/ A Coulson). Back in the waiting room, two people, a man and a woman, are complaining about the younger generation. Now they’re complaining about Clive Palmer (who’s on tv right now), his weight and the likelihood of him having a heart attack in parliament (laughter). On tv they keep calling him ‘Clive’. ‘It’s the rich against us actually,’ says the woman in the waiting room, who I would put at about Lou Reed’s age. Then some bikies come up on the tv. ‘They’re bad, they’re bad’ she says. I don’t think these two people know each other. She is anglo-Australian, he is I think of Italian background.

One elderly gentleman leaving told us all things were going slow today because the vampires are very hungry. General laughter… number 5 is going through. I am number 7, so very excited (don’t entirely understand though because I am sure there were quite a few more between me and satisfaction).

Now James Reyne is on, it’s Flashback Friday. He’s fairly well preserved. Apparently he’s put out 13 solo albums.

I almost miss my turn because my number is called out so quietly and they are very keen to move to the next number but I get in. The nurse (Tina) apologises a few times. She is very cautious about how to proceed. She asks if I am nervous about having my blood taken and I obviously shrug too hard as she apologises and says she just has to ask. She makes me read my name and date of birth off the tube after and the blood looks all crystallized in the tube, which is weird, but I don’t look too hard. 

(4/11 update: the second test showed my potassium level was normal. Or alternatively, the second test was flawed and the first one is still valid. What is potassium anyway?) 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

get it together

Yesterday, a 3:30 am wake up, and TOTALLY awake. This morning, a 4 am wake up and once again TOTALLY awake. This morning just before waking, I dreamt I was about to go on a tv show and be interviewed by Richard Wilkins and I was incredibly pleased with myself as I had a pristine black E Street windcheater to wear. I knew straight away that everyone on the show, and anyone who saw the show, would think I was extremely clever and important to own such a thing, and unbelievably witty to wear it in that context (what the context was, I can't really recall).

It has been a very intense few days at work with masters students giving thesis presentations. Without wishing to come across as... anything, although I could describe the two days (50 or so presentations, I think) as 'gruelling' to sit through, that is probably a misuse of that word and essentially the experience was once again a reminder that, while one might periodically be a little jaded about teaching/interaction with students (because of course most of the interactions are when something goes wrong), the experience can also often be marvellous and a lot of 'our' students are incredibly smart and interesting people. I won't tell them that though and don't you dare. They'll just want extra credit or something.

It was raining very heavily this morning when I went out to see the dogs. That seems to have stopped now and there are so many birds it's like a fake bird noise convention out there, with enthusiasts outdoing themselves to interrupt each other's bird noises. Still dark though.

Here are the dogs, not this morning in the dark though, but on Sunday afternoon. Ferdy looks a bit like a young Una Stubbs.

Friday, October 04, 2013

blood test

Art. Glenroy art.

This morning I had a blood test in Glenroy I got there just after 8 (SO FURIOUS when I discovered the place actually opened at 7, I was just twiddling my thumbs at home when I could have been dealing with this earlier) but Glenroy is such a grouse place I was very pleased to go and eat breakfast at one of my favourite cafes Silver Sage (under new management? Well, I didn't recognise any of the employees, but the fare was identical to previous years, luckily).

From my table I could see the post office. 

I learnt that comic books were no longer just for kids. Good to know. 

The one bummer on my brief Glenroy sojourn was the absolute FFS induced by the following shop which thankfully was not open: not since tomacco has anyone had an idea so beyond belief:

It's not even funny. It made me more determined in fact that 2014 should be my year of hunting down all smokers with a seltzer bottle.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

eat all day

I know there was something else I had to do besides eat twice as much food every day, but I just can't remember what it was.

In other news: absolutely everything the Abbott government is doing is grotesque, and it is like the Howard years in 3D and smellovision. And this is only the first few weeks.

When I rode my bike home down Lorraine Crescent today I saw a white thing on the road which I assumed was a plastic bag or (not that I have ever seen such a thing in our street) a nappy on the road. In fact it was Butterball, happily sitting square in the middle of the road. I chased him off but I fear that if he makes a habit of that kind of thing he might not retain his good looks for a long time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


If I remember correctly one of the early threads in this blog was about my attempt to give up coffee. I still have failed to do that (or rather, I have succeeded at it a number of times - way to be positive). I no doubt have banged on about a number of attempts to be healthier too. I am now embarking on my newest attempt, which is also my last. If this doesn't work, then fuck it.

So, I have a trainer at the Broadmeadows Fitness Centre, Karen, who is a delight, and who is advising me all about agave syrup and quinoa, etc, and who is going to get me on the cardio machines any day now (I have to get an OK from 'my' doctor that it is alright for me, with my cholesterol madness and asthma, to do these things). Any day now means, when she gets back from Fiji. But she also told me to eat six meals a day (not conventionally sized meals I assume, though she actually didn't specify) and told me how she made yoghurt out of coconut milk which I have to tell you, sounds amazing and I want to do the same. She also told me that next time I took the dogs out I should walk and jog in a proportion of 2 mins to 1.

So this morning I tried it. I failed. Did I mention I am spectacularly unfit? I have some stamina, I suppose, to the extent that I can set out to walk to Keilor or somewhere else 5 or 10 km away and I will get there; I won't sit on a wall after two blocks and light up a fag. But I wasn't even sure what jogging was (still aren't) and while I did try, I certainly quickly found that it made my gorge rise and my heartbeat quickened, very unpleasant experiences, especially the first.

I thought it would be interesting for Barry and Ferdy if I drew away from them with speed and it was, eventually. At first they didn't notice (or did but didn't care). Then they figured it was a lark to chase me. Then Ferdy figured it was a lark to chase a bicycle passing in the other direction, which is a worrying development. But ultimately it was all fine. It was all fine. And it will be finer.  I'll keep telling myself that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I lost my voice on Saturday, & have had a sore throat every evening and morning (until the sun came up) which has been fairly unpleasant, today the pain was most unpleasant (and why am I saying 'was'? Still is) and seemed to be spreading to my left ear, so I went to a new doctor in Airport West (it was on the way home) and he laughed and said there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

So that's quite a story.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Me and Jemima on Saturday. It was her 1st birthday. I don't know why I feel this is fine to post here but not on my facebook page. I may take it down. The bottle was empty. I don't know who the other two are sharing the step. Jemima is my niece (1 of 8 neicephews).

Friday, September 06, 2013

2:54 am and a little after

I woke up at 1 am from a bad dream in which Australia's conservative coalition parties were in power. I imagine this will not be the last time this happens. I went outside and Ferdinand was sitting on the step, looking a bit dazed. Barry was out in the garden somewhere, but soon came back to the back door and we had some interaction. From my personal point of view, contact with friendly domestic animals takes the edge off almost any angst you can imagine, and I don't care if it's shallow (it might be) or deep (who knows?) it is just really... nice.

That said, I haven't been able to sleep since, and I'm not sure if I'm hot, or cold.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

hater's going to hate

I stopped hating John Howard the day he lost office. It just went. I also stopped hating Jeff Kennett pretty much once he lost power, though I still think it's an incredible irony that such an abusive person could head a depression organisation (at least, one that wasn't promoting depression). When he made that weird pitch a few years ago suggesting that he would come back to lead the Liberals again, I did start to gear up to hate him a little, so I guess there's residual fear and loathing.

I have hated Tony Abbott a long, long time. But I think I have really not yet begun, and I will know the true depth of my hate in about a week. My one consolation is that a lot more people will be hating Tony Abbott before long. A substantial number of people who vote for him on the weekend will probably hate him all the more for having given him that power.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

first slug of the year

I know you want to see a picture but just imagine a small black blot. The first slug of the year was on the side of one of the dog's bowls (I'd say 'dogs' bowls' but the bowls are interchangeable and indeed I believe were originally Millie's and Silver's bowls, or at very least Millie's and Charlie's). It would have stretched across a 10c piece, size wise. I put it on the dog food fork but it fell off onto the newspaper where the cats are fed so I ripped the piece of paper off and put it back in the garden. The second slug of the year was very big - maybe the size of my little finger. I stepped on it in the morning when I went to pick up the dog's bowls. I didn't kill it, so I guess either I'm very light or I just didn't put my weight on it much. It moved on.

I just hope they were not the same slug, because then things look grim for this evening.

so it goes

Dear Diary
It had recently been my mother Jane’s and my sister Tamsin’s birthdays so Mia and I held an early dinner for both of them, Tamsin’s daughters Olivia and Alice and my brother Michael and his children Laurie and Florence. Their mother Nicola was also invited of course but is sick with the flu. Mia did all the cooking, a very appropriate quiche (replete with notbacon), tabouli and an excellent chocolate chip cake. Most of us drank fruit juice with soda water in it, very suave.

Tamsin brought some presents to welcome Ferdinand of which a plastic bone with a rope through it was a particular favourite. Barry is still enough of a puppy, or at least puppy-curious (he never really had a puppydom of his own, with cruel Nurse Charlie as his guardian) to get a kick out of these kinds of things.

On Saturday night I made a quick trip to Westmeadows to get some videos. Just before I backed out of the driveway a maroon (I think) car from the 80s (damn those 80s) sped through Lorraine Cres towards Johnstone St (that’s no description; both ends go towards Johnstone St. How about, ‘going west’?). I was behind it at the corner of Lorraine/Johnson when it turned right into Johnstone, which has a nature strip in the middle of it and so you can’t turn right – you have to go left and do a u-turn. It drove on the footpath, up the hill causing three or more people on the footpath to jump out of the way – good reflexes. It then went onto the road (still traveling in the wrong direction, of course) and then across the nature strip and onto the right side of the road.

It was one of those things that I could barely process. I did note that on the other side of the road, placed where you would have had to pass it if you were doing the u-turn, was a tow truck with a flashing blue light. I suppose that (I only just remembered this and put two and two together) the maroon driver saw the light, thought it was a booze bus, and decided to make a quick getaway. Way to draw attention to yourself massively if it was a booze bus, of course. But that was probably it, what do you think.

The videos I got – well, I can only say I must have been in shock. I got two things that were actually made for tv movies. Cinema Verite, mainly because I’m pretty sure that anything with Tim Robbins in it is quality but also for the James Gandolfini and some other cast, also, Jack Irish with Guy Pearce which I really wanted to see partly because of any Melbournisms but also because I wanted to see how Guy Pearce, international star of the screen, handled this ABC-TV drama.

After those, we watched a big mess of documentary that the moment as I type, I can remember absolutely nothing about. Oh that’s right, the overlong examination of Ozzy Osbourne by his son Jack. It was too long, also, there was too much music in it, and unfortunately, the music was by Ozzy Osbourne. The scenes of him walking around his childhood home were funny; he just goes from room to room saying fookin’ eck, or words to that effect. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

as i write

...Ferdinand and Barry are up to their morning hijinx. Barry likes to play the persecuted one, as Ferdinand routinely jumps on him, bites his legs and chases him. Barry will not obviously initiate such play, though he puts himself in the line of fire as often as he can, as long as there's the excitement in the air. At a certain point, when Ferdinand goes to sleep (there may be one or two false starts), Barry will also curl up.

These pictures are of them yesterday, when I was in the vegetable garden putting the lid back on the compost bin. I am in hindsight slightly disturbed by what might be happening in the middle picture since it seems to involve the pulling back of a lot of face skin, like kids do to see what they'd look like with plastick surgery.* Ferdinand definitely needs to grow into his body, mainly his snout which is too short for his ears, not generally speaking an issue except practically: he gets his ears wet when he drinks water.

* I have a bug in my computer which means that when I spell this properly a program creates a link to sites advertising particular services. Misspelling it is my luddite way of subverting this. I assume it doesn't happen to everyone but just on my computer? If misspelling doesn't work, I don't know what will.