Phelps Watch: Are you sitting down?

Wednesday 16 February 2005

THIS JUST IN: Peter Phelps is fat.

On the positive side, his career has soared to the dizzy heights of Sunday evening reality TV, where those greedy stupid scriptwriters can’t hog all the credit for his character development.
(Thanks to TV-watching bloggers linked above. Reception of Channel Nine under the bed is fuzzy at the best of times.)

South Australian Icons: A Rich, Noble Heritage

Wednesday 16 February 2005

Many weeks ago when I was a pretentious young nerdboy I went around telling people I was a writer. Invariably they would ask if I was working on the Great Australian Novel, and with equal predictability I would answer that I was writing the Great Adelaide Novel. Drunken ranting ensued.
For a while I kept a collection of the incidences when some person, thing or abstract concept with vaguely Australian connection was publicly referred to as an ‘ICON’. This task took up far too much time and effort, so I tried restricting it to South Australian icons. This, however, also felt like too much work, so I just googled for the phrase and found that National Trust has been awarding lucky South Australian doodads officially-recognised iconicity annually since 2001. Prepare to be enlightened as you meet some of the South Australian Heritage Icons of 2002.

Police Greys. Did you know that the South Australian police force have recruited aliens to do their dirty work? Neither did I, but it would explain a lot about Adelaide: kids mysteriously disappearing en masse, mutilated bodies popping up in the darndest places, law lecturers floating face-down in the Torrens. Then I read a bit further and found that by ‘police greys’ they mean horses. Apparently all police horses in SA are grey. I never noticed this, but then I’m not a thirteen year-old girl and so don’t notice horses much.
SA police like grey horses “for night visibility”, which is unique somehow. They don’t say if the unique part is that all the horses are grey, or that Adelaide has yet to discover the secret of artificial light.
The horses are used for “crowd control, patrols, searches & ceremonial events” (my emphasis). So if you read a news report about some kids from Adelaide getting busted outside the Big Day Out with sugarcubes in their pockets, you know that Sgt. Dobbin was on their case.

The Stump-Jump Fucking Plough. Along with the Hills Fucking Hoist and the Victa Fucking Mower, the stump-jump fucking plough is one of the only three things ever invented by Australians. Every year thousands of school children are taught about Australian ingenuity, and every time these are the only three fucking things the teacher can think of, because they are the only three fucking things he/she was taught.
Every year dozens of politicians waste precious oxygen about Australia forging ahead into the 20th (sic) century with a strong manufacturing sector and, when casting around for examples of Australian technical innovation since The War, will quickly give up and just mention the stump-jump fucking plough again.
In ever case the result is the same. Everybody walks away thinking (a) “I hate the stump-jump fucking plough” and (b) “Christ this country is doomed.”
Why is there such gratuitous hostility toward the stump-jump fucking plough? Unlike the Hills Fucking Hoist and the Victa Fucking Mower, no-one can explain what the stump-jump fucking plough does or how it works. It seems to have something to do with the plough going over the stump, somehow, instead of you having to go around it. Thus the need for steering was obviated, influencing the design and technical specifications of Holden motorcars until the mid 1980s.
The last remaining stump in pastoral Australia was dynamited in 1847.

The Ligurian Bee. I remember when I was a kid watching that episode of Batman when The Penguin unleashed a swarm of Ligurian Bees on Gotham City. Wait a second. On second thought, they were actually Lysergic Fruitflies. In which case, I have never heard of Ligurian Bees until today.
Apparently Kangaroo Island has been a Ligurian Bee Sanctuary since 1885, and remains home to “the purest strain of bee in the world” Which is nice for them, but it’s a pity they couldn’t find an indigenous species to be an icon. Of course, we could have named the short-legged emus, which were unique to Kangaroo Island, but we killed them all.
According to the website, “Ligurian bees supply a very high quality honey” which is exported all over the world, but then they would say that. I can’t imagine the local chamber of commerce would put out press releases saying “COME TO KANGAROO ISLAND, QUARANTINE FOR THE WORLD’S SHITTIEST ARYAN HONEYBEES! EMU-FREE SINCE 1897!” I can imagine, however, Batman episode where the caped crusader investigates sinister goings-on at the P.N. Guinn Honey Factory Inc. Come to think of it, I am not convinced that Kangaroo Island exists. I’ve never seen it, and it sounds like the sort of Australian place name Americans would make up for a TV show.

The Green and Gold Cookbook. The above photograph is a lie. You do not need eggs when making recipes from the Green and Gold. Or real milk. It was “conceived” (eww!) in 1923 and “although revised, it is little changed from its original edition”. This is easy to believe, and what revisions were made must have been during World War II, unless chickens and cows had yet to be domesticated eighty years ago.
If your mum has one of these she’s never cooked from it, otherwise you wouldn’t be alive to read this. Every dish begins with a hefty dollop of lard, dripping or suet. Milk is powdered; eggs are something you can only dream of owning one day when you win X-Lotto, each time you’re instructed to dissolve a dessertspoon of bicarbonated soda in water. It’s amazing these books weren’t thrown ecstatically en masse onto bonfires on V-J Day.
If you do get your hands on a copy, try to follow their recipes for cooking vegetables. Every one is identical: boil for 40 minutes, toss in hot lard. Invite your friends for tea. Make sure your larder is stocked up on copha, Cream of Tartar, junket, waterglass, borax and alum before you start, or you won’t get very far.
On the plus side, the back of the book contains useful information on how to remove bloodstains from carpets and soft furnishings, in response to housewives from Rose Park needing to know what to do in case they bayonet a Hun in their drawing room.

Stobie Poles. It’s good to see they’ve picked one heritage icon everyone can agree on: both the “Convict-free universal-suffrage Humphrey-B-Bear” camp of SA lovers and the “Child-raping bodies-in-barrels Fat-Cat” camp of SA lovers. You can’t help but notice they have photographed said poles from a long way away, so you can’t get a good look to see how ugly they are. I tried Googling for images of stobie poles but couldn’t find one that does justice to their uglitudiness. However, I do remember a newspaper years ago running a contest to find the biggest eyesore in Adelaide. The winning entry was a photo of a stobie pole which had recently had a station wagon ram into it.
It says ‘ere these engineering marvels of rusted steel and reinforced concrete were invented in 1924 “due to SA’s lack of suitable timber”. This always sounded like an urban legend to me. They can get wooden poles from Sydney to Broken Hill, but it’s only after the border that timber gets scarce?
The website tries to talk them up by pointing out ‘advantages’, such as “they’re termite proof and have a life span of around 50 years”, as if no-one’s going to remember this was the sales pitch for vinyl furniture. Or you can go them one better by arguing that in future the poles should be made from plutonium.
I actually know where this photo was taken; it’s the top end of Goodwood Road in Panorama, where it turns into Fiveash Drive. Sad.

The Checkside Punt. It’s a banana kick. I’ve never heard it called a checkside punt, and I suspect I never will.

Help a clueless Chinese student uncover Hitler’s mystery

Sunday 13 February 2005

Influenza and apathy have delayed the rant about music. Besides, it’s much easier to cut and paste stupid emails I get at work. Spelling and punctuation are unaltered.
Subject: uncover hitler’s mystery
Honorable American friends,How do you do?I am a Chinese students of Moslem people university .I have a new idea on psychology ,concerning Hitler.I hope you can pass the important points of the theories on to the experts who study domestic psychology and sociology.I think it is better to offer these ideas to the experts studying Hitler.
In Hitler there exists two ‘I’s,one is himself,which can be called the ‘ego’, the other is his fatherly image,which can be called the ‘super I’. During Hitlers childhood he was educated by his father whom he looked up to.Hitler’s father intentionally educated and guided him in his childhood and had his figure deeply rooted in Hitler’s mind and formed his ‘super I’.After growing up,Hitler used his fathers ideas to mould his political career.He treated the German people and individuals the same way his father raised him.Hitler treated his nation,public and other individuals as his father once treated him.That is to say, the nation,public and other individuals take the place of the young Hitler and become the object of the ‘super I’ of Hitler.
All the former opinions Chinese government has known.
my name jinbo
Unfortunately I don’t know any experts who study domestic psychology, but perhaps you do. Please send on this vital information, and let’s hope that established wisdom doesn’t dismiss this corageous student’s radical new concepts such as ‘ego’, and that children may somehow be influenced by their parents.
With your help, maybe we can stop Hitler before he invades China.

Filler by Proxy X: The Ten Greatest Songs To Listen To While Making Sweet Love If You’re A Premature Ejaculator

Thursday 10 February 2005

This invaluable public service provided courtesy of TMFTML. To which I would add The Smiths’ “William, It Was Really Nothing”, Black Flag’s “Fix Me”, and Yoko Ono’s “Toilet Piece/Unknown”. Please note that, like Pele in his TV ads for Viagra, I used the word “would” in the previous sentence.

Designations of Geezerhood

Thursday 10 February 2005

Unsolicited emails, recently received:
After the 24 age, our trunk tardily desists carries out a important internal secretion known as Someone Increase Internal Secretion. The decrease of it, that governs levels of other internal secretions in your trunk is at once liable for many of the largest prevalent designations of geezerhood, for example furrows, gray light hair, subsided energy, and diminished intimate role.

So spammers trust Babelfish to translate their spiel for them, it would seem. But wait, later the same day I get…

Since the 24 years, our trunk sluggishly desists carries out a weighty hormone known as Mortal Increase Hormone. The decrease of it, which governs grades of another internal secretions in our physical structure is shortly liable for all of the greatest general designations of eld, as crinkles, light hair, declined power, and weakened sexual function.

Best spam poetry ever! Magniloquent verbiage one might expect from Sergeant Fottrell after a sharp blow to the back of the head. Google lists another dozen or so variations on this theme. What happened here? My guess is an original message in English got Babelled into a dozen different languages and now spammers around the world are trying to Babel it back. Alternatively, somewhere in China is a basement full of 500 geeks each individually translating and sending each spam by hand.

Nightmares in demography

Wednesday 9 February 2005

Having gone off on that brief frolic about Sorabji the other day, and while thinking about middle-aged guys fretting in public about who listens to classical music, I remembered a recent review by David Hurwitz at Classics Today about a CD of music by Havergal Brian. Brian was a self-taught composer from a working-class background who was never fully recognised by his peers, let alone an audience, during his lifetime but has since attracted a small but (overly?) enthusiastic following. It was some of these fans Hurwitz encountered when queuing at the cash register fifteen years ago, waiting to buy the first CD release of Brian’s monumental “Gothic” Symphony:
Standing in line before me was the New York chapter of the Havergal Brian Society. There were about 10 of them, average age about 70, men with bald scalps and lanky shoulder-length white hair hanging limply in the latest Benjamin Franklin style. All wore thick glasses, and a few had conditions that I thought had been cured by the turn of the last century: goiters, a harelip or two, and various poxes and skin diseases. None had credit cards, or a majority of their teeth, but most had, to put in kindly, olfactorily obvious personal hygiene issues.

He left the shop and bought it by mail-order. If you’re interested, you can get it for about 18 bucks at JB or “you can order on line and never be seen with it in public.”

The London Review of Books personal ad of the month, February 2005

Monday 7 February 2005

Dancing on the table impresses no-one. Except my mother, but she’s in a home and not allowed to watch the news. Straight-laced guy with low aspirations thinks you’ll do. Box no. 02/09

Trailer: Who Killed Classical Music Again?

Sunday 6 February 2005

Coming up this week. BLAD dives willy-nilly into the issue exercising minds all over western civilisation: the fate of classical music. A genre which has died almost as many deaths over the last five hundred years as hip-hop has in the last five. There will be tears, recriminations, baseless pontificating, and a sigh of relief.
To tide you over, Kyle Gann plays coroner…
Nobody here had anything to do with classical music getting waxed. It was a suicide… Tried to starve itself to death. A tiny, self-imposed diet of the same German and Russian food over and over. Cholesterol in the high 600s. Didn’t want to grow. Refused to eat anything new. Kept trying to pretend the 20th century never happened. Severe personality disorder. It never established any roots here anyway — still obsessed with the old country, and acted so hoity-toity to cover up its insecurity. Suicide was the only way it could save face.

“there are more things / twixt the vermiform appendix / and nirvana than are dreamt of / in thy philosophy horatio”

Sunday 6 February 2005

Two quotes from the unbridled phantasmagoria that are my dreams:
  • “Hmmm, gonna have to buy some more socks soon.”
  • “Wow, the Cash Converters in Dandenong stays open really late!”

Fun with Farsi, Pun with Parsi

Sunday 6 February 2005

In my extensive research of that last posting I had to look up ‘Farsi’, to make sure I wasn’t confusing it with ‘Parsi‘. On the way I found the wonderful site farsijoke.com, for all the Farsi jokes your funnybone can handle. WARNING: looking at this site may break your monitor, or your brain.
I only remembered Parsi because it was the religion of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988)*, the loony British* composer of the notorious Opus Clavicembalisticum – a four-and-half hour long work for piano of ridiculous difficulty – and other works of similar dimension and complexity. Many passages of his keyboard music (for two hands) require the performer to read and play four, five or even, in one case, seven staves at a time.
In the 1930s he withdrew his music from publication, dismayed by musicians’ inability to play it accurately, and guaranteeing his obscurity, albeit with a growing cult following. He resented people making superficial inquiries about himself or his music, regarding them as intrusions on his work. He would also get very cross if you called him Leon Dudley**. On the other hand it is unlikely he would deign to meet you, given that he seldom left his castle in Dorset, with its sign on the gate:

Visitors Unwelcome.
Roman Catholic Nuns in Full Habit May Enter Without An Appointment.

* “TO THOSE WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, IF ANY, AND OTHERS WHO MIND ANYBODY’S BUSINESS BUT THEIR OWN. Dates and places of birth relating to myself given in various works of reference are invariably false.”
** “Certain lexographical canaille, one egregious and notorious specimen particularly, enraged at my complete success in defeating and frustrating their impudent impertinent and presumptuous nosings and pryings into what doesn’t concern them, and actuated, no doubt, by the mean malice of the base-born for their betters, have thought, as they would say, to take it out of me by suggesting that my name isn’t really my name.”

If you’re talking to me your cult must be in trouble

Sunday 6 February 2005

Remember the Raelians? Two years ago they were telling the world they had cloned a human baby – hell, they’d cloned thirteen of the little suckers. So, what have they been up to lately? Sweet bugger all, other than sending me one unsolicited email a month telling me that “Extraterrestrial Elohim created life on earth!” and asking me to download a free e-book. In Farsi.
They send it to my work address. My workplace gets inundated with spam but as far as I know I’m the only one who gets the Raelians. If they think an email address ending in ‘.au’ is Persian, it makes me wonder if they really, truly have the technical smarts to clone kiddies. Perhaps they expect me to rely on the dedicated team of native speakers at Translation Express.
Funnily enough, the website of Clonaid doesn’t mention anything about having successfully cloned people. They’re pretty vague about where they are and what they do, too, which makes me imagine the Clonaid laboratories to be a series of empty white rooms with a few people in lab coats wandering back and forth. Kind of like the Ponds Institute, only without all the science.
For anyone else having trouble remembering the day the world changed:
The president of a firm that doesn’t formally exist said yesterday that she still can’t prove that her “human cloning company” has cloned any humans.

Does this count as Binge or Purge? (Summer Fun Pak*)

Wednesday 2 February 2005

It’s summer, so I haven’t been going anywhere or doing anything. It’s too hot. At least I expect it’s too hot, because since new year I’ve been hiding in the dark under the bed with some 1.5 litre bottles of Kirov and a pallet of Tiny Teddy biscuits, waiting until it’s finally March. But I did find a power point for my laptop, which means I cd fritter away my downtime tinkering with the layout of the site. So in the meantime you can…
1. make your own joke about a clueless rock dude whose name is “Bassman”;
It’s partly because I’ve already mentioned Dimebag Darrell getting shot onstage, and partly because rather than write my own stuff I’d prefer to swipe it from No Rock&Roll Fun, or any website that updates daily. How on earth do they manage it? Do they all have servans? What with all the hours I have to spend staring into the bottom of bottles and testing the patience of phone sex operators I have barely enough time to brush my teeth once or twice a week, let alone write rubbish for this stupid site. Anyway, here’s the quote.
Paul Bassman, manager of Damageplan, is still puzzled about the whole thing. “How this man got onstage without encountering security is the most puzzling question,” Bassman says.
That’s right, I’m sure nobody has ever been at a gig before where people have ever got on the stage, run about, hugged the bass player, sung two lines of a song, kissed the singer, trod on the effects pedal, danced about like a pansy-boy or simply dived off the stage back into the crowd. It just never happens, does it?
2. make your own joke about this kid getting wedgied to death next day at school;
The BBC has reported that a 12 year old boy has discovered five mistakes in the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Lucian, who attends Highgate Junior School, spends several hours a week reading through the encyclopaedia’s 32 volumes.
3. amaze your friends with your ingenious plan to drive McDonalds out of business;
Just eat lots and lots of Happy Meals! Next time you rock up to CERES with a gob full of french fries you can look your feral friends in the eye and tell them you’re sticking it to The Man because Maccas loses money on every one sold. Of course if they do go out of business, where is there left where you can still score a good old brown paper bag?
… if you are on a high street and feel heart palpitations, a shortness of breath and an extreme feeling of anxiety, pop into McDonald’s, tell the waitress you are having a panic attack and a staff member will immediately issue you with a paper bag in which to breathe.
These and eight other reasons to stop worrying and love the Ron at AK13.
4. not bother reading The Age;
It’s only just February and they’ve published their third column for the year about how Melburnians are obsessed with coffee.
5. suck all the fun out of people’s inane prattle about the Oscars.
Tell them the best film award can be determined by a formula. Download the spreadsheet. Hand out printouts of the spreadsheet to your coworkers. Explain the calculations to them. Mark the important parts with a highlighter pen. Show no interest in telling them what’s actually going to win this year.
Now for no reason at all I’m going to post a picture of an angry baby and then I’m done. Enjoy.

* Does not contain actual fun.

Filler by Proxy IX: Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Brain

Monday 17 January 2005

Why didn’t anyone tell me* that Marc Almond was in a coma last year? I know, you’ll just say “Because, Ben.H, we know you don’t give a shit about Soft Cell, let alone Mr Almond’s solo career,” but that doesn’t mean I’d have laughed dismissively at the news of his terrible motorcycle accident. Thankfully, he’s getting better. Anyway, I’m only mentioning it now becuase of his miraculous parrot-assisted recovery, as reported at No Rock & Roll Fun:
The range of benefits of keeping a pet bird have expanded by one, with Marc Almond revealing that he was roused from his coma by someone playing him the CD that he usually played to his parrot. We’re not entirely sure why he made a specific compilation for his parrot, and we don’t know what was on it – Chicks on Speed, we suppose. We’re also not sure who had the idea of playing Marc the parrot’s CD – we like to think it was maybe the parrot – but it worked.
Athough he’s recovering, Almond has got a way to go – in addition to the physical injuries, he’s discovered his childhood stammer has returned, and his hair has, Leland Palmer** style, turned grey overnight.
* Yes, Australian celebrity babe ASCII art.
** Or maybe Leland Palmer.

Filler by Proxy VIII: Lost in Translation

Wednesday 12 January 2005

Are you the Pope? Are you not the Pope, but still over 1500 years old? Translation Express has your translation needs covered! Their team of experienced, qualified bilingual and multilingual native Latin speakers is waiting for your call….
If you require professional, high quality Latin to Latin translations and Latin to Latin translations or translations from other languages into Latin or from Latin into other languages, our Latin language translation services will help you achieve your global strategy.
Latin to Latin to Latin. All of Translation Express’ work is carefully proofread for errors. Latin Latin Latin. Excuse me, I think there’s a echo in here.
Judging by their use of the term ‘global strategy’, I guess their target demographic really is the Pope. Or Caesar.
Don’t ask them to do Harry Potter, it’s probably been done. Yeah, thought so.

Since you asked: yes, this site runs on self-indulgence and stale jokes

Tuesday 11 January 2005

Just in: an addition to the list of people or things I have been mistaken for, or allegedly physically resemble, in increasing order of ridiculousness. Russell Crowe is the new entry, but I wd welcome your input about whether he shd go above Ben Lee (but below Harry Potter) or below Ben Lee (but above shit). I’m pretty sure Ben Lee represents some line of truth.
In other news, I got a digital camera. It was a gift: I think the donor was trading up and wanted to get rid of his old one. It may not work at all. Otherwise I haven’t figured out how to use it, because all my shots so far look like this: