Damn it all, is he going to post anything substantial this year?

Friday 16 January 2009

Yeah, but it’ll be a bit spotty over the next week or two. In the meantime, here’s Dormobile Number Seventeen, a fine left-hand drive specimen spotted on the same block and Numbers Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Twelve.

“you can’t be a dickhead here, not for a moment!”

Wednesday 7 January 2009

… died at the age of 47, apparently worn down by the excesses of alcohol and other substances, in particular, his favourite codeine-based cough syrup.

Flowers By Irene

Thursday 4 December 2008

Ok, this is what, the fourth? Kombi that’s been parked across the street from my house in the past month. At least this one is a more cheerful colour.

Guy Fawkes’ Month

Monday 27 October 2008

Out my window I can hear that it’s the time of year when fireworks start going off around the neighbourhood again.

Shouldn’t they all be fleeing south for the winter?

Sunday 26 October 2008

Dear Blog, I have an unclaimed council wheelie bin which has been standing on the pavement outside my front gate for four weeks, without being stolen, thrown into the street, tipped over, kicked around, or commandeered by kids for use in an impromptu chariot race. Is this a record? And why doesn’t anybody want the thing?
On the other hand, the Dormobile of Doom has vanished from outside my house, only to replaced by two more. The damned things are multiplying. On the bright side, these specimens have a more benign appearance.

Unlucky Thirteen

Monday 29 September 2008

This’ll learn me for talking too much about death. The Brockley Dormobiles are still growing in numbers, and yesterday afternoon I awoke to find my house had been visited by this dilapidated Kombi Van of Doom.
Needless to say, I went back to bed and waited until the hand-sprayed harbinger had clattered away.

Kwik Komputer Klinik

Thursday 24 July 2008

Do you use a wireless mouse? Have you found lately that your mouse is inaccurate, erratic, sluggish and unresponsive? Try these three simple steps to troubleshoot the problem.

  1. Check that the mouse batteries are fully charged.
  2. Make sure you are using a clean mousepad or other work surface for your mouse.
  3. Move the wall of empty beer cans away from the edge of your mousepad to another corner of your desk.

April in London

Sunday 6 April 2008

I woke up early this afternoon and saw this out the window:

After a whole winter of not-quite-snowing we finally get some frozen action. It’s a revealing part of their psyche that the British like to call April “British summer”, but only when it snows.
By the late afternoon the local kids were climbing up onto the garage roof to harvest the remaining snow, to build up a stockpile of snowballs to deploy on unsuspecting passersby in the street below.

Oh, the name and subject indices are updated to the end of March, too.

“You’ve been in the house too long,” she said.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

More about the view out my toilet window.

Monday 13 August 2007

The Millennium Dome has started lighting up at night again. Until 11pm or so it glows portentously over Greenwich, as if about to disgorge Michael Rennie in an alfoil suit. In fact, it’s just hosting Prince’s series of 3,121 concerts or however many it is.
The sight of its ring of lights from across the ridge is uncannily reminiscent of being back in Brunswick, overlooking the Moonee Valley Trots.

It’s not filler it’s a trailer. Fine have it your way.

Sunday 22 April 2007

Hello. I have spent the better part of the last week helping my girlfriend decide on what kind of a small rug she should put in the hallway. In my spare moments I have thrown together a barely-coherent review of Satyagraha, and an unpleasant rant after going to see The Sound Source night at the ICA. There was also the Radius concert at Wigmore Hall on the weekend, which I should say something intelligent about.
These will all be posted very soon when I’ve made them into something readable, I’m sure. I was going to post another picture of the mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reading inter-office emails but I’ve had someone commenting that this blog is obsessed with death, so instead here’s another photo taken from my toilet. This is the glamorous night-time view over the Isle of Dogs towards Canary Wharf, and is as un-blurry as I can manage for now.

Not Wanted on Voyage: Further Perils of Categorisation

Tuesday 10 April 2007

After reading about Elizabeth Jolley’s death, I went to my shelves to take another look through some of her books, and couldn’t find them. The organisation of my books had been hasty and haphazard since unpacking them last year, when they finally arrived in my London flat a little over a year after I left Melbourne. Besides the confusion on the bookshelves, an unknown number of books remained squirrelled away in a tower of unexplored boxes stacked in the hallway.
A month ago on Sarsaparilla, Sophie wrote about the complications of trying to organise her bookshelves for the first time after moving house. I was unable to comment at the time, as I was preoccupied with moving house myself, but was very interested to read what others had to say about bringing some order to their bookpiles, to see what I could learn. However, none of the solutions that worked for other people offered a viable alternative to the method I have adopted in the last few years. What’s more, Sophie’s question about whether she was ghettoising the Australian books in her library went largely unanswered.
I used to prefer straight alphabetisation by author, without further categorisation, to avoid the problem of overlapping and conflicting categories that so many others have mentioned. This, however, led to two problems which I found sufficiently annoying to cause me to abandon the system altogether. Both of these problems were consequences of the logical rigidity demanded by this system.
Firstly, the alphabet would dictate that books be placed on shelves too small to fit them, forcing them to be shelved perpendicularly or out of sequence on a more generously sized shelf. This is a particular problem for people with bookshelves of a fixed height, such as those older bookcases designed for a collection of Penguins and the Everyman Library, ill equipped to accommodate the influx of remaindered titles from American publishers. The problem is especially vexing when an outsize book is orphaned from companion volumes by the same author (see fig. 1).

Figure 1: Published titles by the same author can vary widely in size, as demonstrated here by Charles Olson’s Maximus and Causal Mythology. The Kit Kat is included for scale.
The second problem is that alphabetical order disregards the location of the most frequently consulted books where they are most readily accessible, being as likely to happen as not (see fig. 2). Woe betide the Walter Abish scholar of short stature with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a love of alphabetisation; likewise lament the plus-sized Louis Zukofsky buff with a need for order.

Figure 2: Predicted location of the most frequently consulted books in a collection (Stephen Potter, Ezra Pound) sorted alphabetically by author in a six-shelf bookcase one metre wide, or multiples thereof.
In the end, I abandoned any pretense of an objective, consistent system and grouped books together by the regularity with which I consult them. Or would like to think I consult them, at any rate. Basically, the position of a book on my shelves is a rough measure of the esteem in which I currently hold it.
Because my interests focus upon modernists and postmodernists, the middle shelves are given over to books by or about Ezra Pound – sheer numbers make this the default point of origin. Everything else radiates out from this central plank: Wyndham Lewis on a shelf immediately above or below, through Pound’s contemporaries and heirs to Charles Olson, and from there on to the postmodernists. John Cage, William Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, Kathy Acker form a loose alliance of convenience on the upper and lower shelves.
Stray individuals are slotted in to fit available space, grouped by subjective affinities. Laurence Sterne, Sei Sh┼Źnagon, Velimir Khlebnikov and Konrad Bayer all share favourable placement thanks to their exploration of the nature of writing. Banished to the least accessible heights and depths are the occasional Dickens and Rushdie, ancient Romans, renaissance Italians, and a surprisingly large number (more than two!) of French existentialists and surrealists.
For what it’s worth, the Australians were always mixed in with everybody else as though they had every right to belong there. This was partly to uphold the noble idea of a global village, but more honestly to hide my suspicion that the Australian section would look embarrassingly small by comparison. In turn, this would have goaded me into buying a number of books by Australian authors I could never bring myself to read.
So, after all the boxes were finally unpacked, on which shelf did I end up putting those Elizabeth Jolley novels? Nowhere, as it turned out. Jolley wasn’t there. Or rather, she had been relegated to the books left in storage in Melbourne. This may have been an accident or oversight, but seeing as all my most important books are over here, and that I hadn’t missed her until now, it looks like I made a conscious decision to leave her books behind.
Jolley is by no means alone. Now that I rack my brains to think what else is missing, I realise my library lacks some of the less helpful books about Pound, still more French existentialists, plenty of remaindered Viragos (don’t we all have those hidden somewhere?), and Australians. Peter Carey and Andrew McGahan didn’t make the cut, for instance. Patrick White did, but this seems to be more out of guilt than enthusiasm.
As a pack rat by nature, I probably knew in the back of my mind as I was marking the boxes that I would regret the decision sooner or later, but why did I make these particular choices at the time? My guess is that I had created a virtual shelf in my head, one further remove from the epicentre of Pound, Stein, Joyce et al, whose books were deemed excessive to travel and were placed in a storage crate. The distance to that last shelf is a little too great, and now I regret my mistake of banishing at least Miss Peabody’s Inheritance to the Big Shelf Down Under.
(Crossposted at Sarsaparilla.)

Now in Lewisham unchained and living

Friday 23 March 2007

I’m finally back online, nicely settled in the new house. The new place has several amenities the old one lacked (trees, birds, grass, stars at night), but then there are some things the old place had which this house doesn’t offer (drug deals, street fighting, car wrecks, karaoke from the pub across the street at night).
A quick snapshot from the toilet of each residence should give an idea on how my lifestyle has improved. Before:


Just to the right of this picture you can also see the Millennium Dome, but no matter.
Sadly, I suspect I’ll no longer be able to see all sorts of exciting things out my window anymore, like shootings, fistfights, and grisly death. On the other hand, the neighbours’ back yards may turn out to be more exciting than I imagine.
After two weeks it’s hard to get back into the habit of updating this site again, so expect to see some rather out-of-date posts for the next few days.

Your primitive earth minds cannot possibly comprehend our scientific superiority

Tuesday 16 January 2007

For a while there it looked like my computer had had the dick: the thing was struggling with any task more extensive than editing a text file, gasping and panting and frantically scrabbling for disk space. At the very least, a new hard drive might have eked another year of life out the poor old heap.
Also, my camera kept shutting off at random intervals, and the problem had been gradually getting worse.
When confronted by tragedy, the mean and cheap-arse side of my personality takes over. So, I told myself the computer was probably just overheating and that pulling the laptop apart and fiddling with the fan attached to the CPU would solve all my problems.
To undertake the operation I prepared extensively, by reading through the first search result on Google and digging out an old precision screwdriver from a $2 shop that had previously been used as a nail punch. Inside the fan, the heat sink was covered with a fuzzy mat of lint, which I pulled out. My laptop now works perfectly.
Also, I found that the hinge of the lens cover on my camera had a small piece of lint wedged in it, which I pulled out. My camera now works perfectly.
I can repair any piece of modern consumer technology! As long as it involves lint. Which it probably will.
This is what I get for living in a yurt.

The Girlfriend is Learning Italian

Saturday 4 November 2006