Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The eleventy billioneth post about that speech.

I wasn't going to write about this, I really wasn't.

But a couple of things changed my mind.

Firstly, the reaction of just about everybody in the Canberra Press Gallery to the rest of the world driving around to their place to point at them and laugh has been instructive. Instead of conceding that, you know, several thousand people might have a point, the Gallery has been all "But you don't understand, it's all about The Cooooontext, it's all about the Government defending that horrid Peter Slipper."

Which sort of works.

Until you think about it for 30 seconds.

Or read the actual speech.

The PM had made it perfectly clear that Slipper's texts were unacceptable and offensive. She also made it quite clear that it was important to follow the correct process while the matters were before the courts.

And even if - and I do mean if - it was all a cynical stunt by the Government to shore up their numbers, then why did two of the independents and Adam Bandt vote against the Opposition's motion? It's no skin off their noses if Slipper moves to the cross-benches.

Or perhaps they could see that Ms Gillard had a point about due process.

The always perceptive Mr Denmore has a good take on the Gallery's reaction here, but my quick summary would be this.

If the reaction from experienced journalists to any criticism from their readers is to either try to bully them into submission or claim they can't possible understand what is happening before their eyes, then why read them?

If  any schlub with too much time on their hands and an Internet connection can pull together an interpretation of what is happening in Canberra that is just as valid as the Gallery, then why listen to the Gallery?

In short, why care what the Gallery says about anything?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I believe in getting them young.

Conversation around the family dinner table recently.

The Boy: "The oldest women in the world is 150. Just think of all the things she's seen and done."

Me: "You know Boy, a lot of people think living a good life isn't just about the number of years you've lived but the good things you've done and how you've helped your friends and community.



"And never voting Liberal."

The Misses (wearily): "Ramon, give a break for five minutes."


Just the other day.

The Boy: "Dad, how do you defeat The Boss?"

Me: "Well, joining a union is always a good start."

The Boy: "Daaaaad, I was talking about my video game!!"

Me: "Oh.


I think I need psychiatric* help.

* I mean more psychiatric help.


Friday, September 14, 2012

PSF from the year 755 with some fun weekend activities

looking at a waterfall

napping under water reeds

tea sipping under willows


Oh good, I don’t have to be
police commissioner at Hexi!

it would have been backbreaking
supervising all those beatings

I’m an old man, I can’t
rush around, bustle, and strut

but the job they’ve given me now
at Palace Guard headquarters

won’t take too much time
it will pay for my wine

and allow me to go on
writing these crazy poems

so no more thoughts about retirement
back in the hills of home

I turn my back on that
and set my face to the wind.

(Du Fu translated by David Young)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome, Norsename

Oh, this post is such an ill-fit given what's below, but Puss, I'm glad to hear you're okay and I apologise if this post seems, I dunno, inappropriate, but, anyway, I did want to let you guys know Andromeda had our baby girl on Sunday (8 pound 4, epidural, Norse name). I'm a Dad. Jesus. Mother fucking jesus. You know, I was waiting for this magical moment wherein the instant my daughter was born I would feel like some sort of new man. It didn't really happen, and I don't think it will. I still feel like me and I'm just as I always was, but now I have a daughter and some extra responsibilities. I also have extra love for Andromeda - bordering on worship for what she went through on my behalf. But what did change in an instant was this: Propensity for violence. From the moment Norsename was born I had this instinctual, primal desire to TORTURE AND KILL anybody that threatened her safety. I don't even know why I thought of it. Perhaps because she looked so helpless there, covered in placental discharge or whatever that gunk was, but there she was, laden with half my genetic code, and I realised then and there that I would without even a micro-second of second guessing, murder in her name and/or take a bullet for her. But of course, the certainty of violence is not what takes up my day. It's all nappies and washing and nursing and remembering the time of my life that lasted 43 years in which I had a decent sleep. And staring a lot at the little baby in wonder and awe. Life's alright once you get used to it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"How are you?" as social etiquette is grossly irritating

I swear, if one more person asks me how I am, I think I'm going to have to gouge out my ear drums with a spoon. One of those cocktail ones with the long handles (might be a bit difficult, otherwise).

I hate "how are you?" as mere social etiquette. No one actually wants to know. And if you're not "fine" or "brilliant" or some other positive (the only socially acceptable answer), being asked it is just plain irritating. You don't want to answer positively, because it feels like a lie. Being asked how you are and answering in the positive just sort of rubs it in that you're not ok. But you know the person asking really doesn't care how you feel. But as a fellow human being, they should care, shouldn't they? Or perhaps we should all just stop asking "how are you?" if we really don't care to know the answer.

What's worse is when you've suffered a tragedy, and everyone who knows about it still asks "how are you?". What sort of response can you give? "Well, actually, I'm really shitty, and thanks for reminding me." People who know what has happened still don't want to hear the truth. That you're barely holding on to your sanity, and you just want to be left alone. They don't want to hear, "Of course I'm not ok! Why would you even ask?" They just want you to say you're fine, so they can heave a sigh of relief that you're not going to burden them with your issues.

My mother took her own life a couple of weeks ago. It was a selfish and stupid act, and one I doubt I will ever forgive her for. She had always had psychological issues, but my sister and I never tried to get her to seek help, because our stepfather seemed to handle her. He didn't seem to have an issue with how she was, so why try to fix what someone else doesn't consider broken? What we didn't know was that he wasn't handling her, and hadn't been for the last 3-5 years. She rejoined the workforce at that time, and her symptoms got a lot worse. I think the pressure of having to deal with deadlines and interact with a bunch of other people was obviously taking its toll on her mental state. Our stepfather hates confrontation though, so he'd just walk away and was obviously hoping her issues would magically fix themselves.

Mum's mental instability manifested itself in a few ways. She would often hear other people's stories and then tell them as if they were her own. She was convinced these things had happened to her, and you couldn't get her to admit otherwise. She would see individual events, and then link them together in her mind to form complex stories where she was often the target (in other words, she was paranoid and thought everyone was working against her). She was incredibly loud and had to be the centre of attention. She would force her way into a conversation and somehow make it all about her. You could also never convince her she was wrong about something. She was always right, even if you had empirical evidence. If confronted with something that meant she would have been wrong, she would flip it in her mind so that she was still right. For example (a minor one), she and I had a long running argument about which of two houses we used to live in had a trap door in my room. She would always say it was the green one, and I would always say it was the brown one. It was definitely the brown one. One day, she "slipped up" and said it was the brown one and that she'd found a photograph to prove it. I pounced and said I knew it, and that I knew I had been right all along! She flipped it around and started saying that I had been the one saying it was the green house, and that she'd always known it was the brown house. It was infuriating, but you could never convince her she was wrong, so you always just had to walk away.

It got too hard for our stepfather, but rather than give her a chance to change her behaviour and get help, he decided to be a coward and started sleeping with another woman.

Mum found out and took it very hard.  She said she couldn't live without him.  She didn't want to leave their home.  She didn't want to start her life over again.  She was only 52.  There were plenty of opportunities available for her.  I tried to convince her that pinning her entire self-worth on another person was a stupid thing to do, that she had so much to live for, that she could use this as an excuse to do the things she'd always wanted to do (finish her studies to become an accountant, go travelling, etc).  When I realised she was deadly serious about wanting to take her own life, I consulted with my sister and we had her involuntarily admitted to hospital.

Unfortunately, when she got there, she knew exactly what to say so that she'd get released.  She told them she was just a bit shocked, and also drunk.  She parroted back to them everything I had been saying to her - that she wanted to finish her studies, and go travelling, and watch me graduate from my third degree, and see my sister's new house, etc.  They didn't believe that she was a real danger to herself, despite what I told them, and despite the fact she had attempted suicide in the past (when she left our father, she swallowed a bunch of pills.  My then-9-year-old sister found her before it was too late).  They let her leave without even speaking to a proper psychiatrist.

She waited a week and then took a Friday off work.  She smashed up the house with a sledge hammer and did various other damage.  Then she took her life by way of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I found out via text message.  My stepfather found her when he got home from work.  I don't know why he texted me.  The language of it was quite harsh.  He had texted me on the way home to say he hadn't heard from her.  I had texted her to see if she would answer me.  When she didn't, I didn't think it was strange, because she was annoyed at me that I was telling her she shouldn't try to work it out with our stepfather.  I was convinced it wouldn't be a happy relationship, because she would always suspect he was up to something if he was 2 minutes late, or got a call from someone.  It wouldn't have been good for her to live in that environment.  I told her the best thing to do would be to leave, and start a new life.  Maybe they could rekindle the romance later on, when she had come to trust him again.  Our stepfather was saying similar things to her, and she therefore assumed that he and I were working together.  For what purpose, I don't know.  She was obviously convinced that we were conspiring against her.  So I wasn't that worried when she didn't answer me.

Then I get another text message from my stepfather.  "Just got here.  In car dead.  Ringing police."  What kind of a person tells someone their mother has died via text message?  I know he was in shock and probably didn't realise what he was doing, but still.  I still can't get that text message out of my head.  It haunts me, even when I'm awake.  So fucking brutal.  I can't even begin to describe to you what happened after that.  Obviously I had to drive the 1.5 hours (which was 2.5 hours by the time my friend, who drives like a freaking blind grandmother, got us out there) to the house.  When I got there, the police were still there, and they hadn't even taken her body out of the car.  She was still in the car, with all of the paraphernalia still attached to it.  I don't think I will ever get that image out of my mind.

My family are a bunch of weak people.  And they all abuse alcohol as a self-medicating process.  I can't abide that.  If you have issues, fine, but fucking deal with them, instead of trying to drink them away.  That shit is not going to solve anything.  No one wanted to do anything.  No one wanted to get their act together and plan a funeral.  My husband managed to rally everyone together to organise things.  We managed to pick a funeral director.  We had the meeting in a neutral place with no alcohol, and I could tell everyone was annoyed.  They had obviously wanted to come to my house so they could all drink while they were avoiding doing anything.  I was determined not to let that happen.  I wanted the meeting over and done with as soon as possible.  I wanted the funeral over and done with, so I could try to move on.

When we met with the funeral director, everyone else flat out refused to do a eulogy.  They wouldn't even agree to write anything for someone else to read.  "It's too hard" they all said.  Of course it fucking is!  But what's the alternative?  No one writes anything and we just send her off with some generic statement?  Wonderful.  Of course, they all knew that I would end up doing it.  They all knew that if they just sat back and did nothing, I would take charge and get things done.  I fucking hate my family for that.  They should not have left it up to the youngest daughter to write her own mother's eulogy.  Especially when it was that daughter who was trying her best to prevent this whole event from occurring, and no one would fucking believe her.  Not even my stepfather.  He just thought mum was trying to get attention.  He didn't think she'd do it.  I knew she would.  And I knew how she would.  I wanted to tell him to take all the car keys away, but I knew he wouldn't, because he didn't believe mum would go through with it.  But I knew she was mentally unstable, and I knew she was determined to do it.  If for no other reason than for revenge.  She wanted to make sure my stepfather never forgot what he did, and would always think it was his fault.

I don't blame my stepfather for what my mother did.  I believe she had many, many opportunities to stop what she was doing and seek help.  I do believe there is a correlation between what she did and the fact that he was too cowardly to actually speak to her and tell her that their marriage was pretty much over unless she sought help.  I do believe there is a correlation between him fucking another woman, and what my mother did.  But I don't believe there is fault.

While I was writing the eulogy, I was going through emails my mother and I had sent each other.  I realised what an awful daughter I had been.  I knew she was mentally unstable, and her behaviour drove me mad.  I literally could not stand to be around her for more than 2 hours.  Even at the end of 2 hours, I would have a headache from her shouting into my ears, even if I was standing right next to her, and would be wanting to tear my hair out from how frustrating it was to hear all of her lies, and not call her on any of them. I did my best to avoid her.  I moved far away.  I rarely called.  I rarely emailed.  I often said hurtful things, because let's face it, who of us thinks of our parents as actual people?  Of course they will be hurt by things their children say.  I never considered that.  I never considered her feelings at all.  I only ever thought of my own, and how frustrating she was.

She had a really tough childhood, and I think all she ever wanted to do was be successful, and show people that she was more than they thought she was.  She put far too much emphasis on what other people thought of her.  She had no self-esteem, no self-worth.  She cared too much about what I thought of her.  And I don't think I ever told her how proud of her I was for the things she had accomplished.  I think all she knew of what I thought of her was how frustrating it was to be around her.  How much I avoided being around her.  How much I never wanted to be like her.  I have some of her traits.  I can be loud (although I've never been as bad as her).  I have very strong opinions, and I stand up for them (although I can be convinced I'm wrong where I am, or that there is another point of view).  The difference is, I'm self-aware.  I know my own weaknesses.  I think my mother was in denial about hers.  She never sought help for her issues.  I don't think she considered herself mentally unstable.  I think the women in our family (there are only women, so it's impossible to make a comparison) are all mentally unstable.  I think it's hereditary.  I've asked my husband to make sure I get the appropriate help whenever I need it.  I don't want to end up like her.

I used to see a psychiatrist regularly (for Asperger's).  I'm now going to have to go back to try to deal with all of this shit.  The fact that I might have been able to stop her if I'd just tried hard enough.  The fact that my sister and I should have gotten her psychiatric help many, many years ago.  The fact that I was never a good daughter to her, and was entirely too selfish, and only thought of my own feelings.  That fucking text message.

I think it's going to take me a long time to get over this.  I'm so fucking angry at her for doing it.  She did it on her grandson's birthday, for fuck's sake!  She wrote messages all over the house, and smashed it up before she did it.  Her motive was revenge.  I know she was mentally unstable, but who the fuck thinks to themselves, "Ha!  I know what will really fuck him up!  I'll kill myself, and then he'll be sorry!"  What kind of a person can just shut out all the voices in their head telling them to live, and the voices of their children telling them to live, just so they can get revenge on another person?  I don't understand.  I don't think I'll ever understand.  It's just such a fucked up thing to do.  You're not supposed to do this to people you supposedly love.  And I think that's the bit that gets me the most.  If I'd been a better daughter, maybe she would have loved me enough to stick around.  I can't help but think my own behaviour contributed to what she did.

So, no.  I'm not ok.  I'm not fine.  I'm not doing great, thank you.  And if I have to hear one more person ask me, "how are you?", I think I'm going to scream.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oooo, democracy!

Possibly not the Melbourne by-election.

In light of all the democracy-ness breaking out all over the shop, I thought I might write a post about Saturday's by-election in the state seat of Melbourne.

And in keeping with the democracy theme, I'm giving you the chance to vote on this.

Is it
A. Ooo, yes Ramon; your deranged rants are the highlight of my day.

B. Good Lord, no! I'd rather fry my genitals in butter!

C. There was a by-election on Saturday?

Over to you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Women in corsets does not the Weimar Republic make.

Berlin in the 1920s. Not Melbourne in 2012.

Look, I don’t want to sound churlish about this and I’m sure the people behind this disturbing phenomenon are well intentioned and everything, but there seems to be an outbreak of cabaret shows in Melbourne at the moment*.

If I want to see women in their undies doing bad bump-and-grind-numbers, I can pop down to my local – the beer’s cheaper and you don’t have to put up with people telling you how “transgressive” it all is.

But if you’re contemplating a night out in Melbourne, I’d have a very careful look at the advertising material.

If it includes the phrases;
  • Transgressive,
  • Burlesque,
  • Kurt Weill,
  • Weimar Republic,
  • Bertolt Brecht or
  • Pre-war Berlin
then I’d spend your hard-earned on something a bit more interesting.

Watching paint dry, I’m told, is a more than viable alternative.

* Rather similar to the great acapella plague of the early 1990s. Fair dinkum, you couldn’t move in inner-city Melbourne at the time without some damn acapella group launching themselves at you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tomorrow's headlines today!

Gillard to Abbott "Shut yer fat gob, yer pencil-dicked buffoon"

Julian Assange something, something.

Syria - OMFG!

Exclusive poll: 98 per cent of people don't give a fat fuck about opinion polls.

Finance: The rich get richer, the poor get the picture, the bombs never hit you when you're down so low.

Sport: God hates Richmond fans, wants them to suffer.

Sorry I haven't written anything recently, bad depressive episode. You really don't want to know*.

* You really, really don't want to know.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is this man The One?

If anybody can do it, Shaun can.

Inevitably, when people of a certain background talk about the current dire state of Australian television, the cry goes up.

"Where is the Australian Jon Stewart? Where is our version of The Daily Show?"

Well my friends, I watched the first episode of Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell last Friday and I'm here to say; if it's not quite at The Daily Show level, then it's getting pretty damn close.

True, some of the sketches just didn't work but it's all worth it to see Micallef, one of Australia's funniest, cleverest, most acerbic comedians in full flight.

The first episode also contained one of the funniest zingers about Kerry O'Brien EVAH!

Watch it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another "value for money" PSF

My parties were never this posh.

Quite for no reason
I'm here for the Season
And high as a kite,
Living in error
With Maud at Cap Ferrat
Which couldn't be right.
Everyone's here and frightfully gay,
Nobody cares what people say,
Though the Riviera
Seems really much queerer
Than Rome at its height,
Yesterday night —

I've been to a marvellous party
With Nounou and Nada and Nell,
It was in the fresh air
And we went as we were
And we stayed as we were
Which was Hell.
Poor Grace started singing at midnight
And didn't stop singing till four;
We knew the excitement was bound to begin
When Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin
And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence.
Dear Cecil arrived wearing armour,
Some shells and a black feather boa,
Poor Millicent wore a surrealist comb
Made of bits of mosaic from St. Peter's in Rome,
But the weight was so great that she had to go home,
I couldn't have liked it more!

People's behaviour
Away from Belgravia
Would make you aghast,
So much variety
Watching Society
Scampering past,
If you have any mind at all
Gibbon's divine Decline and Fall
Seems pretty flimsy,
No more than a whimsy,
By way of contrast
On Saturday last —

I've been to a marvellous party,
We didn't start dinner till ten
And young Bobbie Carr
Did a stunt at the bar
With a lot of extraordinary men;
Dear Baba arrived with a turtle
Which shattered us all to the core,
The Grand Duke was dancing a foxtrot with me
When suddenly Cyril screamed Fiddledidee
And ripped off his trousers and jumped in the sea,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
Elise made an entrance with May,
You'd never have guessed
From her fisherman's vest
That her bust had been whittled away.
Poor Lulu got fried on Chianti
And talked about esprit de corps.
Maurice made a couple of passes at Gus
And Freddie, who hates any kind of a fuss,
Did half the Big Apple and twisted his truss,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
We played the most wonderful game,
Maureen disappeared
And came back in a beard
And we all had to guess at her name!
We talked about growing old gracefully
And Elsie who's seventy-four
Said, 'A, it's a question of being sincere,
And B, if you're supple you've nothing to fear.'
Then she swung upside down from a glass chandelier,
I couldn't have like it more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

A long (and classic) PSF

WOT'S in a name?" she sez… An' then she sighs,
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes.
"A rose," she sez, "be any other name
Would smell the same.
Oh, w'erefore art you Romeo, young sir?
Chuck yer ole pot, an' change yer moniker!"

Doreen an' me, we bin to see a show—
The swell two-dollar touch. Bong tong, yeh know.
A chair apiece wiv velvit on the seat;
A slap-up treat.
The drarmer's writ be Shakespeare, years ago,
About a barmy goat called Romeo.

"Lady, be yonder moon I swear!" sez 'e.
An' then 'e climbs up on the balkiney;
An' there they smooge a treat, wiv pretty words
Like two love-birds.
I nudge Doreen. She whispers, "Ain't it grand!"
'Er eyes is shinin', an' I squeeze 'er 'and.
"Wot's in a name?" she sez. 'Struth, I dunno.
Billo is just as good as Romeo.
She may be Juli-er or Juli-et—
'E loves 'er yet.
If she's the tart 'e wants, then she's 'is queen,
Names never count… But ar, I like "Doreen!"

A sweeter, dearer sound I never 'eard;
Ther's music 'angs around that little word,
Doreen!… But wot wus this I starts to say
About the play?
I'm off me beat. But when a bloke's in love
'Is thorts turns 'er way, like a 'omin' dove.

This Romeo 'e's lurkin' wiv a crew—
A dead tough crowd o' crooks called Montague.
'Is cliner's push—wot's nicknamed Capulet—
They 'as 'em set.
Fair narks they are, jist like them back-street clicks,
Ixcep' they fights wiv skewers 'stid o' bricks.

Wot's in a name? Wot's in a string o' words?
They scraps in ole Verona wiv the'r swords,
An' never give a bloke a stray dog's chance,
An' that's Romance.
But when they deals it out wiv bricks an' boots
In Little Lons., they're low, degraded broots.
Wot's jist plain stoush wiv us, right 'ere to-day,
Is "valler" if yer fur enough away.
Some time, some writer bloke will do the trick
Wiv Ginger Mick,
Uv Spadger's Lane. 'E'll be a Romeo,
When 'e's bin dead five 'undred years or so.

Fair Juli-et, she gives 'er boy the tip.
Sez she: "Don't sling that crowd o' mine no lip;
An' if yeh run agin a Capulet,
Jist do a get,"
'E swears 'e's done wiv lash; 'e'll chuck it clean.
(Same as I done when I first met Doreen.)

They smooge some more at that. Ar, strike me blue!
It gimme Joes to sit an' watch them two!
'E'd break away an' start to say good-bye,
An' then she'd sigh
"Ow, Ro-me-o!" an' git a strangle-holt,
An' 'ang around 'im like she feared 'e'd bolt.

Nex' day 'e words a gorspil cove about
A secrit weddin'; an' they plan it out.
'E spouts a piece about 'ow 'e's bewitched:
Then they git 'itched…
Now, 'ere's the place where I fair git the pip!
She's 'is for keeps, an' yet 'e lets 'er slip!
Ar! but 'e makes me sick! A fair gazob!
'E's jist the glarssy on the soulful sob,
'E'll sigh and spruik, an' 'owl a love-sick vow—
(The silly cow!)
But when 'e's got 'er, spliced an' on the straight,
'E crools the pitch, an' tries to kid its Fate.

Aw! Fate me foot! Instid of slopin' soon
As 'e was wed, orf on 'is 'oneymoon,
'Im an' 'is cobber, called Mick Curio,
They 'ave to go
An' mix it wiv that push o' Capulets.
They look fer trouble; an' it's wot they gets.

A tug named Tyball (cousin to the skirt)
Sprags 'em an' makes a start to sling off dirt.
Nex' minnit there's a reel ole ding-dong go—
'Arf round or so.
Mick Curio, 'e gits it in the neck,
"Ar rats!" 'e sez, an' passes in 'is check.

Quite natchril, Romeo gits wet as 'ell.
"It's me or you!" 'e 'owls, an' wiv a yell,
Plunks Tyball through the gizzard wiv 'is sword,
'Ow I ongcored!
"Put in the boot!" I sez. "Put in the boot"
"'Ush!" sez Doreen… "Shame!" sez some silly coot.
Then Romeo, 'e dunno wot to do.
The cops gits busy, like they allwiz do,
An' nose eround until 'e gits blue funk
An' does a bunk.
They wants 'is tart to wed some other guy.
"Ah, strike!" she sez. "I wish that I could die!"

Now, this 'ere gorspil bloke's a fair shrewd 'ead.
Sez 'e "I'll dope yeh, so they'll think yer dead."
(I tips 'e was a cunnin' sort, wot knoo
A thing or two).
She takes 'is knock-out drops, up in 'er room:
They think she's snuffed, an' plant 'er in 'er tomb.

Then things gits mixed a treat an' starts to whirl.
'Ere's Romeo comes back an' finds 'is girl
Tucked in 'er little coffing, cold an' stiff,
An' in a jiff,
'E swallers lysol, throws a fancy fit,
'Ead over turkey, an' 'is soul 'as flit.

Then Juli-et wakes up an' sees 'im there,
Turns on the water-works an' tears 'er 'air,
"Dear love," she sez, "I cannot live alone!"
An' wif a moan,
She grabs 'is pockit knife, an' ends 'er cares…
"Peanuts or lollies!" sez a boy upstairs.

I still think

She grabs 'is pockit knife, an' ends 'er cares…
"Peanuts or lollies!" sez a boy upstairs.

is one of the best endings to a work of poetry around.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh, for the love of Benji!

The world's sexiest, one-eyed, animated woman!

As I understand it, the media seems to be furious with Julia Gillard for doing something they had earlier urged her to do.

No, that doesn't make sense to me either.

The hatred and bile coming from the New Limited media I can understand but at at a loss to understand why the Age had no less than three (three!) idiotic opinion pieces on this in the paper today.

The general thrust of the Age seems to be "OMG, OMG, OMG, this could bring the Government down!!"

Mmm, let's see.

The Age has in the past said "this could bring the Government down" on the previous instances;
  • Kevin Rudd,
  • The Queensland flood subsidy,
  • The National Broadband Network,
  • Craig Thompson,
  • Kevin Rudd (again)
  • Craig Thompson (again)
  • Peter Slipper (again and again and again)
Yet, oddly enough, the Government hasn't fallen.

What to make of this, I wonder.


A very sage account of the whole thing here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A "there seems to be a theme developing" PSF.

When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
This I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.

I have changed my name so often,
I've lost my wife and children
But I have many friends,
And some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,
Kept us hidden in the garret,
Then the soldiers came;
She died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning
I'm the only one this evening
But I must go on;
The frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
Through the graves the wind is blowing,
Freedom soon will come;
Then we'll come from the shadows.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Raymond Aubrac is dead.

Raymond Aubrac and his wife Lucie, heroes of the French Résistance. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

Raymond Aubrac, one of the last resisters to the Fascist regime in 1940s France, has died - aged 97.

French journalist Agnes Poirier has written a moving tribute to Mr Aubrac here and I urge you to read it in its entirety but I'd like to highlight this section.

"What is most admirable with Aubrac, whose wife died in 2007, is the fact that he fought all his life against injustice. He and Lucie were always present at protests, speaking out, tirelessly visiting schools, writing columns in newspapers, battling and arguing, with as much passion as reason."

Being of a morbid disposition, I sometimes wonder what I would do if I were confronted with the same monstrous evil Mr Aubrac fought with so much courage. Would I resist? Would I keep my head down and hope to survive? Could I place my family in peril by resisting?

It's thanks to the actions of Mr Aubrac and his comrades that we don't have to face such terrible choices.

For the time being.

To conclude with Mme Poirier

"I have grown up with all of them but what will the next generation feel about this period of our history when the last résistant has passed away? The familiarity and proximity will have gone. It is our role to be Aubrac's living memory and to keep his fight alive."

Also, the film  Lucie Aubrac, about his escape from the Gestapo with the help of his wife Lucie is an absolute cracker.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oh Aardman, you've done it again!

Fuck, this film was funny.

As the father of an eight year old, I've seen a lot of kids' movies* so it was interesting of late to come across two interesting examples of the genre**; one shit-hot and the other just shit.

The less said about Dr Seuss' The Lorax, the better; a soulless exercise in marketing and merchandise.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits, on the other hand, had a wildness of imagination that all the best kids' films have. It was though the makers thought "yeah, bugger it, let's whack that in" to every crazy idea that came up.

Charles Darwin as a girl-obsessed, cowardly schlub? "Why not!"

A chase scene where a bath-tub full of pirates pursue Darwin and his monkey butler down a flight of stairs, after Darwin stole the last dodo? "Makes sense to me!"

Jane Austen throwing a beer stein at the Elephant Man? "Absolutely!"

And after The Pirates! Band of Misfits, I watched a film I recorded earlier about Nazi zombies.

What a top night!

* And I mean a loooooooooot of kids' films.

** Ooooh, high-brow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yeah, why no shearers?

One of the benefits of having a depressive illness* is that you tend to spend a lot of time alone in your own mind.

During a recent 4 AM ramble through my sub-conscious I was struck like a bolt from the blue** by this revelation; none of The Boy's schoolwork involves shearers.

When I was his age, my school work was chock-a-block with shearers. Shearers' songs, shearers' strikes, shearers' stories. Why the Victorian education system was so fascinated by shearers in the late 1960s, I have no idea. Maybe it was somebody's idea to dress up Australian history so it wasn't so bloody dull, but to this day I continue to have a good working knowledge of the Australian shearing industry in the late nineteenth century.

True, this knowledge has never been called upon, but still it's early days.

* Try it coupled with chronic insomnia. It's ace!

** Or even like a bolt from Beyond Blue.***

*** I crack myself up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A cautionary PSF.

"Beats fecking soup"

Augustus was a chubby lad;
Fat ruddy cheeks Augustus had:
And everybody saw with joy
The plump and hearty, healthy boy.
He ate and drank as he was told,
And never let his soup get cold.
But one day, one cold winter's day,
He screamed out "Take the soup away!
O take the nasty soup away!
I won't have any soup today."

Next day, now look, the picture shows
How lank and lean Augustus grows!
Yet, though he feels so weak and ill,
The naughty fellow cries out still
"Not any soup for me, I say:
O take the nasty soup away!
I won't have any soup today."

The third day comes: Oh what a sin!
To make himself so pale and thin.
Yet, when the soup is put on table,
He screams, as loud as he is able,
"Not any soup for me, I say:
O take the nasty soup away!
I WON'T have any soup today."

Look at him, now the fourth day's come!
He scarcely weighs a sugar-plum;
He's like a little bit of thread,
And, on the fifth day, he was—dead!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A "Frank should have had a cat" PSF.

"You drank all that Bourbon?"

Frank settled down out in the Valley
And he hung his wild years in a nail that he drove through his wife's forehead
He sold used office furniture out there on San Fernando Road
And assumed a $30,000 loan at 15 1/4 %
And put down payment on a little two bedroom place
His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
Made good bloody marys, kept her mouth shut most of the time
Had a little Chihuahua named Carlos
That had some kind of skin disease and was totally blind
They had a thoroughly modern kitchen, self-cleaning oven (the whole bit)
Frank drove a little sedan, they were so happy

One night Frank was on his way home from work
He stopped at the liquor store
Picked up a couple Mickey's Big Mouths
Drank 'em in the car on his way to the Shell station
He got a gallon of gas in a can
Drove home, doused everything in the house, torched it
Parked across the street laughing and watching it burn
All Halloween orange and chimney red
Then Frank put on a top forty station
Got on the Hollywood Freeway
Headed north

Never could stand that dog

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Saint Piran's Day! Huzzah!

For those not in the know, today is Saint Piran's Day - the national day of Cornwall.

The BBC site about Saint Piran notes

In Ireland he was said to have performed many miracles but the Kings of the country were not impressed.
Not impressed?

How can you not be impressed by a Saint?

Performing "many miracles"?

Tough audience.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I got nothin'. Nothin'!

"Wake me up when the leadership spill is over."

Because I’m a lazy, lazy man, I can’t be arsed doing a PSF today.

I thought instead I'd share the lyrics from songs have stayed in my memory, for one reason or another.

What this says for my mental state, I shudder to think.

There will be a small prize for anyone who can correctly identify what songs these lyrics are taken from*.

1.         Where was I, I forgot the point that I was making.

2.         Shana-nana, ooh my my, she’s on drugs.

3.         Goddamn, Europeans!

4.         I got girl trouble. Up the ass!

5.         Welcome to the cheap seats.

6.         In these shoes? I don’t think so!

7.         Your laughing eyes, your crazy smile, every time I look in his face.

8.         I got no distance left to run.

9.         I was visiting a sick friend. I was a doctor then.

10.       Never could stand that dog.

*I don’t know what the prize will be.

Possibly a beer.

Or a lemon.

Or a beer made from lemons.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stop! Enough already!

"Just shut the fuck up!"

I was going to write something about the ever-present nonsense coming from the Canberra Press Gallery about Labor's "leadership crisis" but then I realised that if I listened to one more second of this crap, I'd go


And I didn't want to do that.

Have a look at Mr Denmore's excellent take on it here.

Also, he's much funnier.


So, the challenge is on.

My money (for what it's worth - which isn't much) is for a convincing Gillard victory.

But either way, for the sake of the Party, for the sake of the country and for the sake of my sanity, I hope it's pretty clear-cut.

Go the bloodnut!

Friday, February 17, 2012

"But deep, real deep"

"Mmmm, profound"

No equation
to explain the division of the senses
No sound to reflect
the radiance of time
In the beginningest dream
Halls of disorder
Where we are swept to encircle dawn
Strapped in a low car
Racing thru silence
Trumpeting bliss
You could kiss the world

Standing outside the courthouse
in the rain
Seemed like a lost soul
from the chapel of dreams
With a handful of images
Faces of children
Phases of the moon
One little thing you get wrong
changes the dimensions
Streets, swept memory
Diffused and lost
Like a prayer in the sun

Sometimes you can't tell
whether you're waking up
or going to sleep
Unnumbered streets
All the games cannot be yours
All the sights, the treasures of the eye
Does the divided soul remain the same?
No equation to explain
Destiny's hand
Moved, by love
Drawn by the whispering shadows
Into the mathematics
of our desire

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shaggin' Wagon

...and so he turned to his mate and said, "Now we can all get some sleep."

But I digress.

So, back in November, my girlfriend Andromeda was invited to go camping for three nights by a friend of hers who I'll call Fat-Slapper. Mean, spiteful woman. Anyhoo, Andromeda said yes to the camping thing, even though it happened to be on her birthday weekend. I was a little annoyed because I wanted to take her out to a nice restuarant for her birthday (which I did, three days early) and also because I wasn't invited to the camping because Fat-Slapper doesn't like me and I don't like her. But on the eve of her birthday, Andromeda rang me from the camp-site and said, "I spoke to Fat-Slapper, and you can come tonight to our camp site, but with the following rules: You can only stay for one night, you can't stay in our tent - you have to stay in your car, and you and I can't have sex..."

I agreed to those rules, even though they were ludicrous, but in the end, I wanted to spend Andromeda's birthday with her, and she wanted me there. So I got to the campsite, and Fat-Slapper gave me evils for kissing Andromeda hello, and the whole night was awkward. So I got drunk. So did Andromeda.

At 2am, I went to bed in the back of my Subaru station wagon where I had shoved a mattress.

At 2.15am there was a knock at my window. It was Andromeda, looking for a birthday shag, and because I'm a gentleman, I obliged, but the things is, because I wasn't expecting sex that night (because of Fat-Slapper's rules), I wasn't armed with protection.

Back of the station wagon, metres from the beach, drunk, no condoms... you know how it goes.

Meet Perseus Jnr:

Due in August. As Lou Reed said in his song, 'Beginning Of A Great Adventure', "...It's the beginning of a great adventure."

Monday, February 6, 2012

travel special: some of europe

This was Den Haag on New Year's Eve. I think it was Russian champagne. Anyway, cheerski, comrades

This was taken in Jukkasjärvi . I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed saying, "Oh, I was just in the Arctic Circle a few weeks ago"

I loved Sweden, not least because the A tile was worth 4 points

I had five weeks of huskies, reindeer, moose (plural), gondolas, daleks, bells, rockets, Mickey Mouse waffles and it was (way, way) better than Dog Rock

Bad things that happened: we lost LittleSquib in Stockholm Airport, BigSquib left her bag in the Mona Lisa room and almost had the Louvre evacuated, a seagull pooped on me at Tuileries Garden (I plan to return and track it down Moby-Dick style), I slept on the tray table on the way home and now I have back problems

I'm a little bit sad to be home because, let's face it, this is Perth

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pokies 'n' stuff

"Damn you Andrew Wilkie"

There's been much comment in the mainstream media about the Commonwealth Government's revised plans for pokie reform - most of it shit.

Sure, there's been endless tripe about what it means politically but I'm not aware of any journo having a good, hard look about the proposed trial itself; will it work, is it a good idea, what are the policy implications.

You know, the stuff journalists should be doing.

Being of an inquiring mind, I've managed to find this post by Tom Cummings who has done what just about every single journalist in Australia has failed to do; produce a coherent, well written analysis about what the proposed trial may mean.

I urge you to read it.

But the question rises again; why is this sort of heavy lifting being left to bloggers? Or more to the point, why is political journalism in this country so deeply shallow?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Hate Everything and Everyone

It has been five days since my last cigarette.

I'm doing it cold-turkey, no nicotine-replacement shit at all, and without even any 'winding-down' process beforehand. I gleefully smoked twixt 20 and 30 cigarettes a day for 23 years, then, last Sunday morning, I smoked two cigarettes with my morning coffee and that was it.

The physical side-effects of quitting are:

* Dizziness.

That is all. I was waiting for sweats, trembles, DTs, viruses due to drop in immune system and so on, but nope, all I get is a bit dizzy when the cravings are at their worst.

Now here's a list of the mental side effects:

* Anger
* Sadness
* Impatience
* Melancholia
* Boredom
* Confusion
* Disorientation
* Loss of short-term memory
* Loss of libido
* Loss of concentration
* Self loathing

The last one is almost the worst. I hate myself for starting smoking. I also hate myself for quitting. Nobody told me to quit, so why am I quitting? It's fucked. But I want to live longer, so I have to quit. But what's the point in living longer if I'm this sad? Oh, I know, I'll be less sad as time goes by, but I'll certainly be more boring, and bored. Smoking is cool, I don't care what anyone says. It's cool, and now I'm not cool.

I've not read one good piece of advice from Vic Health, or Quit, because they refuse to say smoking is cool. And I think it is cool. And because they say it isn't cool, I have no interest in what they have to say. They can't help me. But I reckon I'm going to make it - in my own way. I have three little helping thoughts that are getting me through this, and they are:

1 - Andromeda (who now lives with me) slept a few times in another room, and when I asked why, she said, "You were wheezing..." That is so not sexy, and I am prepared to lose coolness in return for sexy.

2 - I am only ever quitting the next cigarette. Dad actually gave me that little advice - it's how he quit. I get a craving, I want a cigarette, it consumes me, but I tell myself, "No, I won';t have this cigarette right now...". Magically, the intense craving passes after a few minutes, then I just repeat the same thing twenty minutes later when the next craving comes.

But, even with those two motivations, I was still thinking that I was going to fail and start smoking again, until I came up with the third and most genius motivation...

3 - I'm going to take up smoking again when I'm 65 years old.

Believe me, just thinking about that glorious day (in the year 2035) is giving me the strength to quit for now.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I still can't think of a snappy title for this one!

The woman in the background is clearly thinking "nice bum".

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

"Try not the Pass!" the old man said;
"Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!"
And loud that clarion voice replied,

"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

"Beware the pine tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,

Or in my version.

Maiden: "Fancy a fuck, then?

Youth: "Gosh, thanks for asking but I have to freeze to death for no apparent reason."

Maiden: "Suit yourself. I really prefer chicks anyway."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Well done, that woman!


Honestly, would it kill some people to say "well done" to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon?

Through quiet negotiation, diplomacy and generally not being a dick, Ms Roxon has managed to get the Japanese authorities to agree to release the three dickheads whale freedom-fighters who jumped on that Japanese boat earlier this week.

Ms Roxon has proven herself to be one of the best performers in the Gillard Government - again.

I think large parts of the media and commentariat were gearing up for another extended rant about how the Gillard Government "can't get anything right". It must irk them beyond belief when the Gillard Government, in fact, gets it right.

And while I'm in ranting mode, the Shonan Maru No. 2* was not inside Australian territorial waters at the time of the boarding. It was in our economic zone, which is not the same thing at all.

* Which reminds me. Whatever happened to the Shonan Maru No. 1?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A "value for money" PSF

"Fuck this shit"

I stood on the bridge at midnight,
  As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the city,
  Behind the dark church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection
  In the waters under me,
Like a golden goblet falling
  And sinking into the sea.

And far in the hazy distance
  Of that lovely night in June,
The blaze of the flaming furnace
  Gleamed redder than the moon.

Among the long, black rafters
  The wavering shadows lay,
And the current that came from the ocean
  Seemed to lift and bear them away;

As, sweeping and eddying through them,
Rose the belated tide,
And, streaming into the moonlight,
  The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing
  Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thoughts came o'er me
  That filled my eyes with tears.

How often, oh, how often,
  In the days that had gone by,
I had stood on that bridge at midnight
  And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, oh, how often,
  I had wished that the ebbing tide
Would bear me away on its bosom
  O'er the ocean wild and wide!

For my heart was hot and restless,
  And my life was full of care,
And the burden laid upon me
  Seemed greater than I could bear.

But now it has fallen from me,
  It is buried in the sea;
And only the sorrow of others
  Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river
  On its bridge with wooden piers,
Like the odor of brine from the ocean
  Comes the thought of other years.

And I think how many thousands
  Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
  Have crossed the bridge since then.

I see the long procession
  Still passing to and fro,
The young heart hot and restless,
  And the old subdued and slow!

And forever and forever,
  As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,
  As long as life has woes;

The moon and its broken reflection
  And its shadows shall appear,
As the symbol of love in heaven,
  And its wavering image here.