Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Song of the Week: Bright Lit Blue Skies

That's how you drive a Sandman, people!

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
is the name of the band. But it's really just Ariel Pink (probably not his real name). He's one of those lo-fi guys I can't help but applaud. He sounds like he's just stepped out of 1978, which is great because so did the yellow Torana SLR-5000 (1978 model) and the Holden Sandman (1978 model). Oh how I loved the Sandman. Those glittering beach scenes featuring large breasted women in bikinis and long-haired surfers riding impossible curls and at night donning Crystal Cylinders windcheaters while stoking the driftwood fire on the darkened beach.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I thought this was supposed to be fun?

Elizabeth wondered if she'd perchance gone overboard on the strings of pearls.

I really did. I had no idea it would be this stressful. And it's still a year away!

All of the bridal magazines and websites I have read have said there's really not much to do in the first 6 months, except book the venue (which we did back in December before we were even engaged), and start researching the sorts of things you want. I thought I was being ridiculously organised by even sending out emails to my preferred suppliers this early.

Turns out, I am not freakily organised. Every single supplier came back saying they already had other enquiries for that date, or in the case of our photo booth supplier, that they only had one booth left (which was fine, since I only wanted one). I had to madly start making bookings yesterday just to secure my top-tier suppliers. So far, I've booked the videographer, hair and makeup artists, photo booth and cake maker, and am about to book the photographer. I'd love to book the transport, but I can't seem to find anywhere in Brisbane that has more than one classic Rolls or Jaguar. I don't particularly want mismatched cars.

I've just finished hemorrhaging money from the kitchen renovation/house decorating. I thought I'd be able to rest for a bit. Apparently not. The money hemorrhaging has begun again. *sigh* I'm also starting to think I have woefully underestimated the budget I would need. The reception, videographer and photographer are pretty much taking up the whole budget, and I still have the dress, cake and honeymoon to think of, let alone all of the other little costs! I think I'm going to have to raise it by $15k. And that includes doing the flowers and invitations myself, as well as not having much in the way of decorations at the reception (the venue is pretty enough, and I don't see the point of having cut flowers everywhere).

Do any of the ladies here have any tips on how to make this all go more smoothly? I am totally freaking out right now, wondering what else I need to do this month, before the suppliers I want are totally booked up for my date.

Friday, September 24, 2010

PSF (A Painting and Poetry Fusion in a Red Wine Jus)

Hey Leo, can you smell something burning?

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Physicists who rock!

Sorry about that Niels.

It’s been a quiet week here at Spin Towers, so I’ve been looking over some old TSFKA posts.

In the one about Christian Doppler*, I noticed that I promised a post about Niels Bohr – a promise I never delivered, for which I apologise.

So here goes.


Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962) was a Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics.

Hope that clears things up.

Also – can we please stop talking about the Commonwealth Games? The only reason why we care about the Commonwealth Games is that we can beat other sporting super-powers** in a contest nobody else in the world gives a flying fuck about.

Also also - there will be no PSF tomorrow as I will be on holidays.

Feel free to talk about me when I'm gone.

*You must remember that one. That was when Alex came out as a chick.

** Like Scotland.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There. Are you happy now, Puss?

A complete fucking shambles all around

I've been working my way through Peter H. Wilson's 851 page history of the Thirty Year's War, Europe's Tragedy.

Although I'm only up to page 255 and the war hasn't even started yet, I think I'm confident in saying that it probably won't end well.

The other lesson we can all take away is; religious nutcases + heavy weaponry + great power rivalry = start panicking now.

It also involved something called "the Diet of Worms".

For reals.*

*Oh, stop snickering down the back.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Song of the Week

I love this guy. Quite an earnest young lad, sure, but he belts out a terrific ditty and for a Swede he sings pretty good English. He calls himself The Tallest Man on Earth. I'm pretty sure he isn't, although he remains seated throughout this clip so it's a little hard to be sure.

As far as I know Robert Wadlow still holds this record. I remember Wadlow from the torn blue 1976 copy of The Guinness Book of World Records I used to pore over as a kid. It included a pictorial representation of Wadlow standing next to a series of others (from memory it included the shortest woman ever recorded (who was referred to as a midget), an 'average' man (who I'm proud to say at 5'9" was, and still is, shorter than me) and a 'pygmy' (one of English's finest words as it contains no vowel - along with rhythm)).

A Pygmy (note the trademark breast-size variance and inappropriately sized G-string)

I might roll out a song a week - my own title urges me to - or I might not. This one is a live version but it's pretty faithful to the album version. The whole album is good so buy it if you wanna. I love the line "I plan to be forgotten when I'm gone".

Warning: Shoddy camera work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Culture! On a stick!

"The handkerchief industry?! Don't get me started on the handkerchief industry!"

Towards the end of his Orwell: The authorised biography Michael Shelden talks about Orwell’s final days before his death from tuberculosis in January 1950.

He discusses some of Orwell’s last notebooks, in particular where the author remarks – calmly – on his fatal illness. Sheldon says

He was always analysing, always standing to one side and observing, trying to make some sense of this life. Perhaps, before the end, there was time for one last analysis, one brief thought about the final adventure. Whatever it was, it does not matter that it was lost. The voice remains. I can hear it. It begins, ‘Curiously enough…’

That’s some fine writing. What I particularly like is that the author, just once, towards the end of the book, comes out from behind the curtain (so to speak) to talk to us directly.

It was once said of Orwell that “he couldn’t blow his nose without moralising about working conditions in the handkerchief industry”.

The book itself is an absolute cracker of a read about a man who could be, shall we say, a trifle prickly.

Oh and it's also Yom Kippur.

I trust you're all out there, atoning.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Bali Report

Could you point me in the direction of the postcard rack?

The Missus, the kid and I returned to Melbourne on Saturday from a week in Bali. We had a lovely time thanks. While there, I pondered the place, its inhabitants and visitors.

Bali has a bit of a reputation as an Aussie bogan destination (rounding out the top 3 with Phuket and the Gold Coast). This is partly true. There are many Aussie bogans there. Many. Barreling through all cultural convention sporting Bintang singlets, board shorts and braided hair. Fortunately, the vast majority are confined to either Kuta or Kerobokan prison. And it's easy to avoid them.

Like in all countries, the best thing to do to avoid the tourists traps and the bogans is to actually turn down a side street once in a while. Or travel to some village or town that isn't listed in the glossy pamphlets or the Lonely Planet. Or hire a bike and pedal through regions seemingly unexplored by western tourists. This is greatly rewarded in Bali as there is an abundance of brilliant things to see: isolated beaches, fascinating Hindu temples, food markets, fishermen, farmers, mountains, volcanoes, rice terraces, jungles and monkeys. And people just going about their business.

This man wasn't in Lonely Planet but we found him anyway

Now I'm not suggesting that we didn't live it up to some extent, or that I'm one of those hardcore travellers who sleeps in some rat infested shack on a lonely beach smoking joints and only eats food cooked by a wizened old Balinese man who speaks no English other than 'Mister' and makes a mean nasi campur. In fact we stayed in some lovely hotels with pools, restaurants and laundry service. After all, we had a 5 year old boy with us whose ideal holiday consisted of playing with his action figures in the shallow end.

A monkey considering a dive with a 5.5 degree of difficulty

There are some annoyances. Mainly the hassle factor.



"Tomorrow maybe?"


"Good price."

"The price doesn't matter if I don't actually want one."

"Best price."

"Again, irrelevant."

"Where are you going?"

"I wouldn't consider that your business."


"We just did this."

And then there's the laborious haggling.

"One hundred and fifty thousand rupiah sir."

"How about 70 thousand?"

"No sir. I cannot make money at that price. 100,000."

"80,000." (Going through the motions.)

"Oh sir, my last price is 90,000."



Why can't they just put a price on it?

The locals react to poor haggling skills

Interestingly, during the return flight, on September 11, I managed to watch a documentary on the September 11 terrorist attacks on the in-flight channel. This included various shots of planes smashing into buildings. Fortunately my son was busy breaking records on Angry Birds.

You put your left foot in...the pot

Some important issues raised by The Boy while I was shaving

"Can I have some shaving cream?"

"Why do they call it 'shaving'?"

"Where do the whiskers go when you shave them?"

"Why don’t you grow a beard?"

"Did you have a beard before you were married to mum?"

"What would happen if you went to jail for 100 years?"

"What would happen if you went to jail for a thousand years?"

"Is a thousand years a long time?"

"Can I have some shaving cream?"

This was among some stream-of-consciousness musing along the lines of what would happen if the cat developed super-powers*

*The conclusion reached was that this would probably be a bad thing for all concerned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A very special "awwwwwwwwww" PSF

"Sod that, where's my feckin' breakfast?!"

Cat! who hast passed thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroyed? How many tit-bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and prick
Those velvet ears - but prithee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me, and up-raise
Thy gentle mew, and tell me all thy frays
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists -
For all thy wheezy asthma, and for all
Thy tail's tip is nicked off, and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft as when the lists
In youth thou enteredst on glass-bottled wall.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What a long, strange trip it's been.

"Suffer in yer jocks, Tone."
So. It ends.

Some thoughts – for the last time – on what it all means, if anything.

First thing, there’s no reason why the current arrangement in the Federal Parliament can’t work and work well. Hung parliaments have lasted substantial terms and delivered good results elsewhere in Australia (including Jules’ home state of Victoria) and if anybody can make it work, it’s the Wonder from Wales.

Second, the suggestion already running in sections of the media that “the arrangement is already under pressure” is complete and utter crap. The independents have made it quite clear that they will only vote for confidence and supply motions; everything else will have to be negotiated on the floor of the House. This will, of course, mean disagreements from time to time – as it should be.

Third, the Liberals will never accept this.


In their cold, reptilian, brains they are convinced of the utter rightness of their cause and if they can force election after election until the electorate gets it Right – then so be it.

Fourth, ignore all the guff about “legitimacy” or “number of votes”. The long standing convention in this is that the party that can form a majority on the floor of the lower house has the right to form government. That’s it, the end, finish.

And lastly, I have no idea how this will all pan out; it could fall over in three months, it could last three years. Anybody who says they can predict what will happen is a fool and a dick-biscuit.

And the Red Flag is flying once more over Karl Kautsky House.

Thank you.


I know this post is already getting ridiculously unwieldy, but this is too good to ignore

And in particular this passage;

A large proportion of the Coalition vote base believes there is one and only one acceptable outcome in politics – theirs. And it is this zealotry that will explode.

The temptation for the Opposition to continue to exploit this belligerence, as they so successfully did in the lead up to the campaign and in the campaign itself, will be overwhelming. When all that stands between the Opposition and a new election – a new chance at *power* - is one scandal, one stuff up, one member of parliament changing – the attraction of flicking the switch to rhetorical overdrive for effect, and righteous indignation to incite their masses, will simply be too great. No distortion will be too large, no lie too audacious, no accusation too brazen.

And they will be ably assisted and their supporters commercially exploited, by the leadership and opinion section of The Australian – not to mention the curmudgeonly Lesser Scribes infesting the sewer end of the News Ltd tabloids and that growing group of feeble minded cowards at the ABC whom appear to have lost any capacity for intellectual autonomy when it comes to independently assessing the dynamics of Australian politics.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Non political PSF shock!

"I'm very impressed by the National Broadband Network"

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More tales from Chelm!

Fabulous Chelm!!

The Chief Rabbi of Chelm was sitting in his bath when an angel of the Lord appeared before him and spake unto him saying;

“Samuel, Samuel, the lamentations of your people have reached the ears of the Lord your God and he wants to know – what’s with all the lamentations already?”

And Samuel said;

“Lord, my people are sore vexed as we do not have reliable high-speed access to the Internet.”

And the angel said;

“Ok, I’ll get to work on it.”

And Samuel said;

“Make sure it’s optic-fibre, none of that copper wire rubbish.”

“Right, right, no copper wire,” said the angel, writing it down.


One day the noted pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski was walking through the market square of Chelm, when he was approached by a peasant with a chicken on his head.

“Maestro,” said the peasant “how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

“I find the A or C lines on the subway should do it”, said Paderewski “and do you know you have a chicken on your head?”

“A chicken!?” said the peasant “yerrrrrrrrgh, get it off, GET IT OFF!!”


The current member for Chelm in the Commonwealth Parliament is Warren Truss.