Cousin Norman had a real fine time last year

Wednesday 21 September 2005

So long folks, I’m off to Spain for a week or so. While I’m gone I promise to investigate the whole Juliette Lewis fiasco. In the meantime, enjoy a few new pictures intended to illustrate a longish, serious article about my visit to St-Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, which I haven’t gotten around to finishing yet. See you next weekend. Squeezes!

We’ll always have Jeremy Bentham to kick around

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Apart from the lovely and talented Julie Dawn Kemp, the tireless champion of filler on this website is the Great Utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham. Despite his many achievements, his greatest legacy remains in supplying cheap gags with middlebrow pretensions to erudition to unimaginative pseuds like me.
Now that a new semester has begun, I paid a return visit to his modest abode to convince myself that Wikipedia is wrong and he is in fact on permanent display, and not just wheeled out for special occasions when conferences are held. Because the real journalists have fled the internets I felt I had to step in and put the hard questions to the Big Stiff:
Me: Hello? Coo-ee!
Bentham: Stop tapping on my glass! I’m not a bloody goldfish.
Me: Sorry. I guess you have people coming up and bothering you all the time.
Bentham: (sighs) No.
Me: So, were you affected by the bombs going off down the street back in July?
Bentham: That was a bomb? They told me someone upstairs had dropped a particularly heavy difference engine.
Me: I guess they didn’t want you to panic and…
Bentham: Lose my head. Very fucking funny. First time I’ve heard that gag – today. Security! Evict this jackanape and wheel me over to the Natural History wing!
Me: Doesn’t look like anyone’s coming. I thought you Victorians were more well-spoken than that, you know, “Good DAY Sir!!”
Bentham: I’m not a Victorian! I’m a William…ian… Whatever.
Me: What sort of positive example do you think you have set to the youth of today by sitting in a rosewood portaloo for the last 170 years?
Bentham: I’d like to think I’ve played my small part in keeping the “Great” in Great Britain.
Me: Did you know they’ve named a pub after you around the corner?
Bentham: Yes. I’d love to visit it someday – I could murder a pint.
Me: A common complaint among the enbalmed. You don’t get about much, do you? When was the last time you travelled?
Bentham: Last year. A new cleaning woman started and she wanted to vacuum under me. They haven’t even oiled my casters for years. The squeaking nearly drove me potty.
Me: You know, putting yourself on public display all these years, your invention of the panopticon, do you regard yourself as the inspiration for Big Brother? It’s a TV show where…
Bentham: I’ve seen Big Brother. A repulsive display by depraved lowlife.
Me: I guessed you wouldn’t be impressed.
Bentham: I was over the moon when Makosi got the arse. Girlfriend had no business being horrible to Kemal like that.
Me: Well, I think we’ve trawled all the most obvious jokes now, and I feel a bit dirty having looked up a Big Brother forum to put in that tidbit of gossip, so I’ll finish now and thank you for your time.
Bentham: You still here? Security! etc.

Be afraid: Linda Perry is also involved somehow

Wednesday 21 September 2005

I know you look to me as an authority figure but I need your help on this one, particularly from those of you outside the UK. Is the inexplicable resurgence of media interest over here in Juliette Lewis a peculiarly British phenomenon, or some global conspiracy engineered by the Scientologists? She’s been popping up everywhere as some kind of rock chick, which is apparently what she wanted to do all along and so deliberately starred in unwatchable shite like The Other Sister so all those movie executives would finally stop pestering her with wheelbarrows full of drugsmoney.
So is this a PR snow job going on everywhere, or have we suddenly become Germany to her Hasselhoff?
It really is a pity they don’t have genuine A-list celebrities manning the tables outside Scientology centres at least once in a while, so we can see how well-adjusted you can become after paying $100,000 to learn that you have thousands of body thetans trapped inside you who were tricked into watching a 3-D movie by an alien galactic ruler named Xenu.

Take a FREE personality test and learn about the science of mental health (Reg. Trade Mark)! My results are not typical and may vary.
Also, ads for Narconon have suddenly appeared at tube stations lately. Coincidence?

New Gherkin!

Monday 19 September 2005

Pity she never did any self-portraits

Sunday 18 September 2005

Overheard at the Tate Modern bookshop:
“Oh, so that’s what Frida Kahlo looks like!”

Of course, the window has been vandalised, but that should go without saying

Sunday 18 September 2005

On the District Line train at Blackfriars Underground station. These have been up since long before the bombings in July, so don’t get any particular ideas about overreaction, although it does seem a slightly excessive response.

So remember, if you plan on slashing the seats on the London Underground, you can expect the Metropolitan Police to send Jean Reno in a helicopter down the tunnel after you.
Significantly, these signs only appear on the oldest Underground lines, the ones with the bigger , shallower tunnels; so this does not appear to be an idle threat.
History buffs will note the iPod Nano poster on the platform. I’ve been meaning to take a photo of this sign for months but haven’t had the chance until now.

A Public Service

Friday 16 September 2005

Switching hemispheres mid-year has left me throughly disorientated and indifferent as to which season it’s supposed to be where, but I figure summer must be over at last because UbuWeb is back online. For months they’ve had a single page announcing they’d be back after summer, but we all know what that usually means on the interweb.
UbuWeb has a bunch of poetry, essays, arty-type stuff online but the real exciting part is the boatload of free MP3s available to download: hours of brilliant and inexcusably overlooked music.
From the ridiculous
The 365 Days Project. Astonishingly bizarre recordings from garage sales around the world. Sometimes too hip for it’s own good, but when the first half of March can offer such treasures as musical polymath and self-confessed failed wunderkind Nicholas Slonimsky (then aged 96) singing “Children Cry For Castoria”, Van Morrison fulfilling contractual obligations to dead record company owners, Anthony Hopkins most genuinely terrifying performance, Orson Welles facetiously offering blowjobs, and Melbourne’s own Man Who Plays Music On his Fingers, you can hate the sinners and love the sins.
To the sublime
Tapes from the Morton Feldman Archive at SUNY-Buffalo. Dubbed from the archive’s open reel tapes onto cassette, then onto someone’s laptop, and compressed into MP3s, so you can guess the quality of these 1970s recordings aren’t the best. Also, some of the performances sound a bit wonky, but Feldman wrote some of the most beautiful and enduring music of the last 50 years, and some of these pieces have never been released on CD. (Note to Mallrat: if you like Gavin Bryars, Feldman’s the guy he stole all his ideas from.)
When I looked in yesterday, UbuWeb had expanded its collection of experimental films, but today they’ve been taken down after a spate of legal threats from various people – “all lawyers and business people, not the artists themselves.” So you may have to wait a while before really testing your bandwidth out on downloading Samuel Beckett’s Film.

Those easily offended by extreme nerdiness are advised not to read this post

Friday 16 September 2005

Two observations on British culture so trivial they hardly bear mentioning, but have been bugging me for months:
1) Someone once pointed out to me that it was a uniquely indicative trait of the Australian character that they don’t bother removing the dealer’s sticker from the back window of their cars. This is not true. I am not sure if the Australians inherited this behaviour from the British, or if it is a universal phenomenon. My future travels of the globe will be consumed with peering at the back windows of parked Volkswagens.
2) If you’re anything like me, and I’m sure you are (carbon-based lifeform, devastatingly attractive, wooden leg, martyr to strong drink), you will watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit exclusively for the surly man doing the voiceover at the beginning of each episode who is never heard from again for the remaining hour; specifically, for his superlative pronunciation of the word ‘heinous’.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you are probably British. For reasons that are beyond me, the UK episodes have a completely different credit sequence that omits Surly Man altogether. This is a grave error. No matter how special these victims are, I now find it hard to work up that much sympathy for them. Whenever SVU (or, as a friend of mine habitually calls it, Rape of the Week) comes on now, I sit there thinking “I don’t know, this crime just doesn’t seem… well, heinous enough for Ice-T to get all that exercised over it.” I need to check eBay for videos, explicitly marked “contains strong violence, sexual references, and the word ‘heinous’.”

And definitely no “Sometime in New York City”, either

Thursday 15 September 2005

“Instant Karma” permitted on Saturdays before 11pm.

Alternatively, I can wait for school to start again

Monday 12 September 2005

Dear Crack Dealers,
Please start selling drugs in my street. The kids playing outside are shitting me.
Crystal meth also considered.

Getting amongst it real soon now

Saturday 10 September 2005

I’m still suffering technical issues, albeit of a self-inflicted variety this time. So in the meantime you can amuse yourselves with the photos slowly getting posted to Flickr (over on the links section): there’s some nice relaxing ones of people kite-surfing at the seaside, if you look around a bit.
Apart from that, I think I might get me some religion. I went past the Celestial Church of Christ, Hackney, last Sunday afternoon and found lots of black people dressed in white robes running about on the pavement throwing blocks of styrofoam at each other. That’s the kind of fast-and-loose interpretation of the bible I can get down with. I may even go in for ordination if there’s a bouncy castle involved.

“It must be very difficult coming to London from Australia, having grown up so far away from the cultural centre of tradition.”

Saturday 10 September 2005

Not dead yet, but working on it

Monday 5 September 2005

People have traditionally characterised Britain as a slow, backward, inefficient country but I’ll have you know that it’s leapfrogged into the 21st century. British Telstra or whatever they’re called took a mere three weeks to activate ADSL on the bunker’s phone line, a response time that is staggeringly fast by OECD standards but even more amazing when you consider that I live several miles from the GPO!
Even more astonishing is their boast today that it will be only a matter of days before I receive the final bill for the discontinued phone service in the bunker I moved out of a month ago. Apparently it would have taken even less time to calculate the amount owing but someone kept opening the door on the computer, allowing the small, prehistoric bird working the treadmill inside to break the fourth wall and say “Wak! It’s a living.”
I don’t know if BT have been privatised or not so I don’t know which rant about bad service to pull out, so I’ll compromise and say that they’re owned by the Queen. And, as the movies have taught us, bad giant evil bad corporate behemoths are always run by just one evil person who personally carries out all the really evillest schemes. In other words, to make sure my phone line stays in working order I’ll end up having to punch it out with the Queen, until she plummets to her death from the top of the Jewel Tower, with her yelling and firing her gun straight up in the air all the way down. In slow motion.
This means I’ll have to also kill a lot of Beefeaters along the way, finishing with the really evil tough Beefeater: the one who looks all pissed off when he’s getting photographed with tourists because he thinks it’s beneath him and his job really is to stop the ballistas and arbalasts being stolen by Al’Qai al-qaed the Germans.
Just backing up a couple of paragraphs: why was all the machinery in The Flintstones powered by birds on treadmills? Given that they spent all their time trapped in confined spaces and pedalling things, wouldn’t lizards be more suitable? I’ve read some history and I know that birds were cumbersome and expensive back in those days! Perhaps The Flintstones were British. Sorry, are British.
Still, at least renovations of the bunker are progressing well.

No-one reads this blog

Thursday 11 August 2005

And I’m not reading anyone elses’ right now. I’ve got bigger problems, having been evicted from my bunker. About a year ago I thought I had me a nice, stable life in Melbourne and was happily settled in a large, crumbling house in the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Brunswick end of North Fitzroy. Thanks to perfidious landlords and some bad business decisions I am about to move for the fourth time in the past 12 months, one of those times being a midnight dash to the other end of the earth.
At least I’ve found me a new bunker, which is considerably bigger and cheaper than my present abode.
It may, however, be a while until I have regular internet access. I move Friday. Postings to resume soonish.

“I’m quite surprised that things written in personal blogs might not be so true after all.”

Wednesday 10 August 2005

Please forgive me for ignoring an unsolicited email sent to my blog’s email account some time ago, from people claiming they were taking a survey about bloggers. You can understand my suspicion that they were not serious. What’s more, they were from Singapore, where I thought surfing websites was a capital offence.
The survey purported to address the burning issue of “blogging and ethics“. I expected their idea of ethics might boil down to “Don’t say anything that might offend Lee Kwan Yu,” but it’s slightly more expansive than that. Their idea of blogs seems limited to the diary or the news digest, and they don’t seem to realise that they have become the self-storage units of the internet, where you can dump any old crap.
They also didn’t seem to notice their own Blogger log-in page which has been encouraging people for the last few months to post novels on their blogs. I don’t know how that would square with their ethical principle of truthfulness (see the comment left by one survey reader in the above title*.)
Who knows what they would make of blogs like this, this, or this. Their heads might explode, if the government-approved proxy filters let them see it.
Naturally enough, they conclude by wanting to establish a code of ethics for blogging, because what’s the point of living in Singapore if you can’t regulate something?
Bloggers currently do not see a strong need for a blogging code of ethics.

No surprises there: most people in the real world, particularly those who have had to access services through some type of computer interface, have grave doubts as to whether it is necessary or desirable to have any further aspects of their lives organised by the type of computer nerds who can sustain an argument for several months over whether or not a certain Star Trek novelisation is canonical. This goes double when said nerds have been brought up in a country where it is mandatory to have your TV switched to MSNBC at all times.

* Everything on this blog is 100% true.