What I did on my summer break

Tuesday 4 January 2005

I guess you had to be there.

Before resuming this timewaster properly for the new year, I have to note that I don’t remember writing that last post at all.
Oh, and don’t I feel foolish now for mocking that tsunami warning I received last month? Well, no I don’t because it missed me entirely.

Filler by Proxy VI: No such thing as coincidence

Wednesday 22 December 2004

Greg Sandow muses on the simultaneous obituaries for poet Jackson Mac Low and ex-Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. After playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for a few paragraphs he describes his admiration for Mac Low’s (and John Cage’s) work in a way I can agree with but have never explained so well:
One feeling I’ve long gotten from work like Cage’s or Mac Low’s is peace. But not just any kind of peace — not, for instance, a warm and fuzzy peace, full of love, hope, and goodwill. It’s more profound than that; the peace that comes from lack of need or striving.

And from there he looks for, and finds, the common thread which made him react to both deaths.
Both, in fact, oppose the mainstream, metal noisily, Mac Low’s more quietly. Metal rages angrily at normal life; the relationship of Mac Low’s kind of art to normal life is less direct. And yet it’s strong…. After World War II… meaning in normal life was hard to find. Hence rebellion, and also modernist art, which didn’t look for normal meaning.
More about Jackson Mac Low, including some of his poems, interviews and sound recordings.

Update: Australia’s favourite books

Sunday 12 December 2004

A few days ago I favoured you with my thoughts on the ABC’s poll on Australia’s favourite books. Now there’s a discussion over at Crikey about what the hell happened. Two choice quotes:
In the SMH we are told there were 15,000 voters and 5,000 different book titles. An average of 3 votes per book.
I’d just thought I’d let you know, although it’s probably un-provable, that members of the My Favourite Book production staff went around the ABC getting staff to fill out votes. I personally voted twice and one staff member was asked to vote 10 times for A Fortunate Life so it would make it into an appropriate placing.
Are there lots of Falun Gong devotees working at the ABC?

Swings and Roundabouts

Sunday 12 December 2004

On the one hand, Delta Goodrem is leaving Australia to live in the U.S., from where hopefully she can devote less time to perpetually saturating every Australian media outlet* while simultaneously bleating about how the media shd respect her privacy. Having now stiffed in the U.K. and exhausted the goodwill of her compatriots, she thinks she can still evade the Pepsi Curse.
On the other hand, Leo Sayer is still threatening to move to Australia next year to relaunch his music career. For those who haven’t heard this choice quote:
In Australia they still want heroes. They are looking to me to teach their kids knowledge and wisdom.

Still, better him than Delta, I guess. And you have to admit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” is pretty catchy.
* Including this one, dammit.

Spammers challenge slackers: find the angle

Wednesday 8 December 2004

Yeah, yeah, everyone gets weird spam from time to time, but lately they’ve been tending toward the incomprehensible, in word and intent. Am I too smart or too stupid to respond to whatever insane sales pitch they’re sending me?
Subject: there is a lot to be ahamed of

Alright! Don’t give me money or sex, promise me shame!
Subject: pain is killing me

Good. Carry on.
Subject: girlish ang ruttish fillies are holding back you!

Sexy come-on, or dire warning screamed by one of the characters from Zero Wing? To be fair, one of these spams provided me with the fantastic word ‘bulkhorsewoman’, which has got to be the only genre of Japanese fetish porn I have not yet become an avid collector of. But then I got this one, which takes the soft, pink, ham-in-aspic cake:

Subject: Warning huge ocean wave
THIS IS AN OFFICIAL WARNING!
qgnxv cphb hdmgxv
A huge 300 ft. high ocean wave is moving towards your continent. Your and many other cities are in a real danger. Approximate wave moving speed is 700 km/h.
hieih uqtw boylpt
Please read more about this catastrophe here:
http://www.tsunamidanger.com/
http://www.hugewave.org/

We are strongly urging you to evacuate yourself and your family as soon as possible, even though you may live far away from your city. The tsunami will reach the continent in approximately FOUR hours.
jhnyf ibvp cdupir
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

This was sent to me on Sunday, and I didn’t check my mail until at least a day after I drowned. But what the hell is it trying to sell me? What genius thought up the “only give them four hours to buy our product, less the time it takes them to receive our spam, but first tell them to go far away from where they normally access the web” marketing strategy?
The website they advertise offers nothing but helpful expert advice about how to run away from a tsunami:
If you are near the ocean and you feel a large earthquake, you should go inland or to higher ground immediately. NEVER go to the coast to watch a tsunami. A tsunami moves faster than a person can run.

Gosh, thanks for that! Remember, counter-intuitive as it may seem, never, ever, run towards a tsunami. If this seems hard to grasp, here’s a picture to help:

The site also gives soothing reassurances…
It may take hours for waves to reach coastal South Australia coast, and there is a Tsunami Warning and Alerting Plan in place to pass the warning to coastal residents as quickly as possible.

…only to cruelly crush them in the next paragraph.
If a tsunami were to be generated close to South Australia coast, waves could reach shore within a few minutes and there would not be enough time for officials to issue a warning.

Weirdly, the text seems to be lifted from an honest-to-god government website. Although it keeps referring to a threat to the South Australian coast (and helpfully includes a map of South Australia which inadvertently shows that there is no way a tsunami could inundate Adelaide) it keeps making references to British Columbia and is obviously lifted from some Canadian government information page about the importance of not being near the sea when there’s a tusnami. There are even fake official-looking icons on the page suggesting that this is all somehow official, including this one below. It’s small, but you can just make out the moose flanking the British Columbia coat of arms. Now I can’t get to sleep because my head is buzzing with the one question: why? why? why?

Survey says: Australia irrelevant to Scientologists, Randroids

Wednesday 8 December 2004

The ABC’s published the results of its poll of Australia’s favourite books. It supposedly started out as a poll on the greatest books of the 20th century like everybody else was doing a few years ago, but it took this long for the idea to work its way through ABC ‘development’. I guess they figured it didn’t matter either way because no matter how they defined it some morons out there would just keep voting over and over for the Bible.
You can guess the results: a vast mass a people voting for the only book they’ve read (a high-school chestnut like To Kill a Mockingbird, or the Bible), spotty computer geeks (so much sci-fi it’s all over your screen!) and ballot-stuffing religious zombies. No surprises so far – same as every other dodgy book poll ever run in the whole world.
The one thing unexpected is the low-rent quality of said religious zombies: usually you can expect the top two places of the poll results to be taken over by a meaningless pissing contest between the glassy-eyed acolytes of Atlas Shrugged and Dianetics. This poll was evidently too piddly for any of the larger and more oganised cults to either notice, or care to stack. The best the ABC could attract was Falun Gong, who did wonders for their credibility by ensuring that everyone now honestly believes that Zhuan Falun is the 14th most popular book in Australia; so popular in fact, that the ABC website misspells it. And even that was beaten out by the literary oeuvre of Col Stringer, an obscure and self-proclaimed mouthpiece of god from Queensland (but you’d guessed that last bit already).
To add insult to injury, Peter Phelps’ magnum opus, Sex Without Madonna, didn’t make the list. Rigged!

The miserable few who doubted my powers must now bow down before my genius

Tuesday 7 December 2004

Me, 7 December 2004:

The newspapers have already reverted to publishing blatant crap for the summer… I will now predict the summer’s top ‘news’ stories… A scientist will claim to have cloned the mountain lion in the Dandenongs, which will boost the revival of the local film industry.

The Age, 8 December 2004:

Melbourne Zoo’s public relations chief yesterday declared the silly season open as senior animal keepers were called in to analyse images of yet another mystery cat seen near the Grampians.

That’s one down.

Hokey Local News and the Two Minute Hate

Tuesday 7 December 2004

I must have slept in because the newspapers have already reverted to publishing blatant crap for the summer:
A residential island could be built in Port Phillip Bay, made of silt from the proposed dredging of the bay and the Yarra River.
In a related news story, a 500-room luxury palace could be built in my back yard, made of solid gold panned and smelted by my personal harem of nubile virgins.
Melbourne 2030 reference group member Rob Pradolin said Melbourne needed visionary projects such as this.

Thanks for your support, Rob.
The article even provides this challenging vision of the future below, with a provocative question. Mouse over the picture for the secret answer.
To save you the trouble of reading hacks scratching their balls in The Age for the next two months, I will now predict the summer’s top ‘news’ stories so you can put in more quality time falling asleep on the couch in front of the cricket on telly:
• A scientist will claim to have cloned the mountain lion in the Dandenongs, which will boost the revival of the local film industry.
• A environmentally-friendly world-class luxury hotel will be built on the CUB Brewery site, which developers predict will become an international tourist attraction.
• A (feature in the Good Weekend/column by Tony Parkinson) which explains why everyone in the world, yourself included (is obsessed with/will be grateful for) the (boundless talent and charismatic mystique/noble statesmanship) of (Casey Donovan/Donald Rumsfeld).
• An article by John Elder where he wanders the streets picking up other people’s litter. At first he has some difficulty find enough litter, but soon gets the hang of it. After a while tries to interview passersby about his litter-gathering, but finds everyone is strangely reluctant to talk to him.
• An opinion essay by a staff writer who has the epiphany that she prefers some cafes over others, but explains this phenomenon by tenuously blaming it on other people’s moral failings and interpreting it as a sign of modern society’s decline. Hang on, they’ve done that one already.

Short, disgusting confession

Sunday 5 December 2004

You know how sometimes you wake up to find you’ve left a damp patch of drool on your pillow? You know how sometimes your dreams end with something that really is happening at that moment? This morning I woke up from a dream where I was brushing my teeth.

Why I am not a painter

Sunday 5 December 2004

West Space is holding its annual A4 fundraiser show this coming week. Opens Thursday 9 December, 6-9 pm, and stays open Friday Saturday Sunday. Details here. Yes, I’ve put some artwork in it which I am pleased to think might sell by appealing to the punters’ sense of chairty, if not their aesthetics. They also have good art for sale.

My last attempt to make a painting was not entirely happy. Having promised to paint something for an exhibition due the next day, I found an old box of cheap Chinese foil tubes of oil paints. Most of them had partly or completely dried out, and split open when I tried to squeeze some paint out of them. At least I got blue and yellow, two thirds of the primary colours. Also, I found a brush, which was useful. It was sufficiently frayed at both ends to make me spend a few seconds figuring out which was designed for applying paint. When I started painting I remembered that (a) oil paint needs thinner and (b) I don’t have any thinner. It was a very thickly-textured painting, and may still be drying to this day. The next revelation was that when you need to change colours, the brush has to be rinsed out (cf. points a and b, above). A solution of Sard Wonder Soap does the job nicely, but don’t expect it to improve the consistency of your paint.

Having admitted all this, it’s good to know that I’m still an artist. I have the survey letter from Macquarie University’s Economics Department that proves it.

Whack the masonite up on the pool table and get yer tits out

Saturday 4 December 2004

You people can count yourselves lucky. For a while there I had shut down the Rob Roy Hotel without even realising it. Apparently they couldn’t make enough money out of having live bands play there. I attribute this to me not going there even once all year on the pretext of hearing some music but really ending up getting blind on $2 black sambucca shots, trying to rehang the op-shop art on the walls and then groping some poor girl while she’s trying to talk to her boyfriend. So naturally their bottom line suffered when I took my talent for making my own fun elsewhere, and I was saddened but not surprised to hear of the venue’s demise.
Of course it could all be part of the continuing fallout from Lion Nathan’s plan a few years back to pay ridiculously large sums of money for inner city pubs in a vain attempt to get people to drink Tooheys.
Walking past the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude with the pub dark and quiet was like a return to an older Fitzroy that most resisdents pretend to have known and loved. The effect was set off nicely by a large-waisted, short-legged man in track pants across the street who had straddled the fence around Atherton Gardens and was complaining loudly about the effect this posture was having on his balls.
I had high hopes that we might see a return of the ‘exotic dancers’ to the back bar of the Rob Roy, but there’s been a change of heart by the management and the bands are back just as abruptly as they left, so the gentrification process of Gertrude Street has taken a decisive step sideways. In fact, City City City are playing there tonight and I totally intend going to see them, except I’ve just realised they’re probably on right now as I type this. Besides, a friend’s just given me a Target shopping bag full of Wesley Snipes videos so I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere for a while.

People or things I have been mistaken for, or allegedly physically resemble, in increasing order of ridiculousness

Wednesday 17 November 2004

The BLAD artist interviews, no.1: Stelarc

Thursday 11 November 2004

As part of my humble contributions to Australia’s cultural conversation, I am pleased to share with you some of my exclusive interviews with leading contemporary artists in Australia over the years.
Stelarc first came to public attention as a contestant on the TV talent quest Pot of Gold in 1978, performing “Jake the Peg” with a crude home-made cybernetic leg. Since then he has become renowned around the world for his art practice exploring the obsolescence of the human body as a physical subject, largely by trying to kill himself in various innovative ways. This interview was conducted at the University of Melbourne in 1997.
BLAD: Hello.
STELARC: Hi. Nice architraves!
BLAD: Huh?
STELARC: The mouldings are really huge in this place.
BLAD: Yeah. Check out the ceiling rose in this room.
STELARC: Wow. Hate to have to dust those things.
(laughs)
BLAD: OK bye.
Stelarc’s latest project, My Big Fat Greek Virtual Head, is on display in the Chadstone Shopping Centre Galleria until 11 December.

Next, counting the paperclips

Thursday 11 November 2004

Like a teenager with an essay due who suddenly takes an interest in ironing, I have added some more links on this –> side of the screen. Also, the background colour is now a slightly off shade of white. Please enjoy these new features for your enhanced interactive web experience.

Burning with procrastination

Friday 5 November 2004

“You have a down on life – it’s no good!”
“I am an artist.”
“Yes I’ve heard that before!”
-Wyndham Lewis, Tarr