I need a slide rule to calculate just how many kinds of psyched I am about this, given the circumstances.

Tuesday 26 September 2006

He’s on your computer. Again.

Have you decided to be a genius yet?

Tuesday 27 June 2006

Get the Hope-Tipping angle!
Reactionary critic, 1956: “Jackson Pollock’s paintings are the crude, formless scrawlings of a drunken lout.”
Progressive critic, 1956: “Pollock is a master of the classically conceived composition and quattrocento line.”
Reactionary critic, 2006: “Today’s artists sorely lack the skill and rigor of Jackson Pollock.”
Progressive critic, 2006: “Jackson Pollock’s paintings are the crude, formless scrawlings of a drunken lout.”
To appear especially insightful, use the above dismissive judgement of Pollock when comparing him unfavourably to a 23 year old, female video artist.

Related: Old art, new art, both are piss easy to get a handle on.

Germaine Greer: I learned everything I need to know about criticism from Stephen Potter.

Monday 26 June 2006

What is more important is that the Mona Lisa is a dull, slimy picture, with more mystery than merit.

What makes this sentence truly brilliant is that it appears in the middle of a passage about the identity of Rembrandt’s portrait sitters, in an article of thundering obviousness otherwise irrelevant to Leonardo. Greer is a worthy disciple of the Lifemanship school of criticism:

The critic must always be on top of, or better than, the person criticized. The subject may be a man of genius, yet he must get on top. How? the layman asks. By the old process – of going one better. Hope-Tipping of Buttermere had never really read a book since his schooldays, much less formed an original judgement. But he specialized in his own variations on the formula.
H.-T. first made a name for himself in 1930 by saying that ‘the one thing that was lacking, of course, from D.H. Lawrence’s novels, was the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life.’
‘The deep superficiality of Catullus’ is Hope-Tipping’s, too. Never, by any shadow of a chance, was there a hint of a cliché in the judgement of Hope-Tipping.
Of course, Greer is famously incapable of maintaining a coherent line of thought over two consecutive sentences, so she somewhat spoils the above gem by attempting to follow it up with a tired gambit:

Raphael’s portrait of Baldassare Castiglione would put it in the shade, if only the smug boneless face of the Mona Lisa had not been reproduced unimaginable squillions of times in every known medium.

Foolishly, I was going to point out that this begs the question of why, then, this crummy painting was reproduced so often, until I realised how she had cleverly disguised the bigger question going begging: has she actually seen the Mona Lisa? In fact, how many people alive today have managed to get one good look at that painting?

Guardian scoop: Picasso shot Archduke Ferdinand

Tuesday 2 May 2006

I know the lefty press loves a good conspiracy theory but this is a bit of a stretch, even for them:

Who knows what the avant garde would have created if there had been no assassination in Sarajevo and no first world war? Or did the very extremism of cubist art somehow bring about the ensuing chaos?

That’s right Jonathan, World War I was fought over cubism. Actually, judging from his recent articles, it’s surprising he didn’t blame the Americans, for once.
Apart from weird digressions like this, I agree with most of what Jones says about the Tate Modern rehanging of its collection. It’s halfway done now, and I was going to wait until it was all open to the public before writing about it, but given that The Guardian is blabbing about what’s on the fifth floor I may as well say how it looks… soon. I’m too busy right now.
Funnily enough, Picasso was questioned in Paris in relation to the Archduke’s assassination. He told them Braque did it.

Liveblogging the BBC radio coverage of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

Wednesday 15 March 2006

  • Melbourne is so up for this.
  • It’s very famous, I haven’t seen it.
  • This is the precursor to what is going to happen next.
  • It’s a tremdous opportunity to soak up the experience.
  • They are what they are.
  • Melburnians will come to watch any event.
Then, the broadcast suddenly stopped after half an hour and they switched to a phone-in about hosepipe bans.

Fun fact: the Australian national anthem was written by a Scotsman, who was paid 100 pounds by the government. I didn’t know that.

UPDATE: Intersecting Lines gives a first-hand account of the festivities – more details, more accurate.

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

Sunday 8 January 2006


First, thanks to everyone who has written in with prayers and messages of support following my inexplicable vodka crisis. I have taken the scientific approach by attempting to replicate the phenomenon: the offending item has been thawed and drunk, replaced by two bottles of vodka. The frozen bottle was a gift from a friend, so I’ve bought one of my preferred brand, plus one of the same brand as a control.
I have been passing the new year in the genteel and civilised company of the English (see photo), and enjoying the cold weather (yes, it has snowed once on the bunker). Unfortunately, I got too smug about not having to see the annual front-page photo all the Australian papers run at this time of year showing people on the beach because, hey! Stop the Presses! a hot day in summer! Then I found out all the British papers run exactly the same photo at exactly the same time because their readers apparently can’t get their minds around the fact that it’s not winter on the other side of the world.
Right now, I’m off to share the magic of lager.

Be careful what you wish for

Wednesday 4 January 2006

After 37 years of joyous mayhem, Welfare State International, the company I co-founded and of which I am artistic director, is creating its last gig….
All our intentions of 1968 – access, disability awareness, multigenerational and multicultural participation – are established; now, though, they come before the art…. Overintensive risk management, child protection, alarm systems, licensing, family-friendly badges and employment laws invade with a suffocating culture of smug inertia.
Of course, he’s a theatre person so we shouldn’t expect too much self-awareness, but can he really not see the resemblance of the utopian world he worked toward, to the stifling world he inhabits now?

More importantly, you have to give a shit.

Thursday 22 December 2005

Some people seem to think that special intelligence is required to do cryptic crosswords. This is sad, because it creates a barrier between them and one of life’s few remaining harmless pleasures. To enjoy reading a chess column, you need to have a chess mind. With bridge, you have to be good enough at mental arithmetic to be able to count up to 13 four times simultaneously (once for each suit)… But with cryptic crosswords all you need is the sort of amateur detective’s mind that does not take things at face value.
Actually, all you need is a good memory for all the stupid, arbitrary rules that have no cultural significance for anyone under 120 years old and which make the puzzles so hateful:
Also, “actor” may equal “tree” (because of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who died in 1917)…

Amateur detective, my arse. I much prefer the motherfucking magic of cramagrams.

Filler by Proxy XXV: Who to turn to when you’ve run out of Mitfords

Thursday 17 November 2005

If anything’s better reading than the London Review of Books’ personals column, it’s the Telegraph’s obituaries. Lady Sibell Rowley has died, aged 98. Being England, the death notices tend to get clogged with a lot of ancestral ruins such as these, perhaps out of a sense of heritage more than of aristocratic fealty.
In this case, however, the passing of poor old Lady Rowley is treated as an occasion to trot out gossip about her family. She was a daughter of the 7th Earl Beauchamp, KG, “and thus a member of the family that inspired Evelyn Waugh to write his celebrated Roman Catholic novel Brideshead Revisited.”
It’s good enough that the Telegraph feels obliged to employ the epithet ‘Roman Catholic’ as an advisory to its less stout-hearted subscription base, but things get better still:

…the youngest daughter, Dorothy (Coote), endured an unfortunate late-life marriage to Robert Heber Percy, known as “Mad Boy”, the eccentric squire of Faringdon and former boyfriend of Lord Berners.

Actually, the whole article should be imagined as it would be read by Vivian Stanshall:
The daughters, aware of their father’s nocturnal prowlings, would sometimes advise their boyfriends to lock their bedroom doors. Lord Beauchamp once complained at breakfast: “He’s very nice that friend of yours, but he’s damned uncivil!” Unfortunately, the problems proved more serious, concerning incidents with footmen, and as a result of a campaign instigated by his brother-in-law, Bendor, Duke of Westminster, Lord Beauchamp was forced into exile in Europe. The Duke tried to explain the circumstances to his sister, Lady Beauchamp, who failed to grasp the essentials. “Bendor says that Beauchamp is a bugler,” she announced.

“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.

Happy Hiroshima Day!

Saturday 6 August 2005

It’s a cause for celebration among some people. Newspaper columnists, for example, know it as a day of rest, where they can just reprint the same article they trot out about it every year. And of course some of those pundits will have their annual crack at suggesting we should all be happy that we nuked Japan blah blah blah.
Without getting bogged down into the details of the debate, let’s just say that if people still want to argue the toss 60 years down the track, it’s probably not a Good Thing.

Thank god the train was late, or it would have been too close to fascist Italy for comfort

Sunday 31 July 2005

Someone called Roshan Doug gets to write in The Guardian about “what a train journey to Birmingham can tell us about Britain in the midst of terror”. Basically, it tells us that Britain doesn’t like Roshan Doug very much. Everyone avoids him for the entire journey.
Doug reckons it’s because he’s Asian (and a young man, and travelling alone, and carrying a bloody great rucksack). You may find this shocking, until you get to the end and find out that he’s also a poet in residence at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, so he’s probably the type of person you go out of your way to avoid sitting near on a train regardless of the circumstances. Particularly because he’s a poet whose contact is a Hotmail address called ‘erospoetica’.
The article ends with this profound insight:
As I looked back I saw armed officers with sniffer dogs and railway guards questioning mainly young Asian men about the validity of their journey and their identification. And I know it might seem naive to say this, but I couldn’t help likening that scene with something from Nazi Germany.
Other things that can be likened with something from Nazi Germany:
  • The customs desk in an airport international terminal.
  • Freeway construction.
  • Police evacuating your building when someone leaves a bag outside.
  • Bert Newton in The Producers.
  • Volkswagens.
  • Basil Fawlty goosestepping while holding a finger under his nose.
  • The decline of modern cabaret.
  • The nice Iranian lady next door whose first name gets transliterated as ‘Nazi’ by the gas company when they send her a bill.

Great moments in sub-editing

Friday 25 February 2005


Kylie Mole is all grown up and working at The Age. Can’t help but notice the publicist’s disturbing definition of the term “doing well.” Perhaps she’s rehearsing for the old “died in hospital, said to be in a satisfactory condition” gag.

Firing off neurons that have lain dormant in your brain since October

Wednesday 23 February 2005

I haven’t felt the need to add to the justified sneering at the contrived and cynical abortion “debate” that just happened to spontaneously pop up at the end of the silly season. But now that whatever point was to be made has been lost in a welter of jokes about discovering your dad is really the Mad Monk, one burning question has been left unresolved.
What the hell happened to Family First?
These were the guys we were told had Changed Australia Forever by every political columnist staring down a deadline and three more years of status quo. Isn’t this type of issue supposed to be their bread and butter? So many hacks were telling us a few months ago how influential FF is going to be, and now not one of them can be bothered hunting down one of the happyclappers for a soundbite. According to their website they haven’t said boo since December. Did the entire party take their Christmas vacation in Aceh? Or is it possible that their good luck last time at the polls was just a teensy bit overstated?

Excuse me, is this the queue to kick the corpse of rock and roll one more time?

Tuesday 22 February 2005

It must be dead because an ageing manchild complains that even air guitar isn’t as cool as it once was, even in that stanky pen of rockpigdom, Hawthorn:
One conclusion was inescapable: the imaginary guitar is in grave danger of vanishing into thin air. As I see it, it’s part of a long and insidious plot to take rock’s power out of the hands of the common man and woman and towards the whims of corporatised music fashion. My own story is perhaps typical…
Next week: a scorching exposé of how they’ve changed the formula of Fanta. It’s so sickly sweet these days, what they hell were they thinking?