Thursday, March 31, 2005

I've Been to Europe

by Dan Daman, world traveller

I don't know if I've told you this, but I've been to Europe. Yep, early last year I climbed on board a Malaysian Airlines 747 and some twenty-two hours later I disembarked at Charles De Gaulle airport. That's in France, you know. I'd always felt drawn to France. Even though I didn't speak French, or know any French people, or really have any idea about the place, I'd always felt, well, French, in some fundamental way. Perhaps it was all those Asterix books I read as a kid. Anyway, arriving in Paris was like coming home. Except I didn't know who anybody was, or understand what they were saying. But apart from that, it was just like home.

Paris was great. If you haven't been to Paris you haven't lived. In fact, if it looks like you'll never get to Paris, it's probably best to just kill yourself. Paris truly is the most beautiful city in the world. Even the homeless drunks have a certain jenny say kwa. The whole city is so sophisticated and wonderful, and I felt honoured to be able to mingle with the Parisians, who are just ordinary people, only without all those cumbersome Anglo-American principles. Parisians are a misunderstood people. People think they're rude, but actually they're above politeness.

I didn't want to simply breeze through like a tourist, so I booked for three nights in a cosy little hotel near the Seine. I spent some time seeing the sights, but really, gawping at the Eiffel Tower is something of a cliche. Instead, I wandered the streets, letting my feet take me where they would, soaking up the life of the city. I dined on local fare (my favourite dish: a peculiar crescent-shaped treat called a crossaunt), visited dozens of art galleries, and relaxed by the river. I bought a French dictionary and several novels and found the language came easily to me. My favourite was Madame Bovary by Flaubert, which tells the story of a young woman who is turned into a cow by an evil magician.

I even found time for romance. Her name was Giselle, and she was a waitress at the cafe where I took breakfast every morning. We got to talking, and she agreed to meet me after work. We walked along the Seine, arm in arm, discussing the latest developments in continental philosophy, such as the Gouda Principle, whereby truth can be described as a piece of cheese. Then we went back to her place and made sweet love. Giselle later confessed that she was actually an American student named Heather, but since she had been living in Paris for some months we both agreed that she was essentially French, and that was the important thing.

Soon - too soon! - it was time for me to leave. Although Giselle/Heather put on a brave face, I could tell she was on the verge of tears, if not suicide. As I boarded my train at Gare de Lyon (literally "Where the lions change trains"), I felt a pang of sadness. Paris had come to feel like a second home, and now I was leaving it behind. Still, all Europe was in front of me, beckoning like a flourescent sign to a moth. I blew a kiss to the weeping Giselle, and took my seat. Au revoir, I said as the train sped out of the city, wondering what adventures lay ahead.

Three weeks later I returned home, thoroughly Europeanized. My friends were amazed at my accent - a curious mixture of French, German, and Italian, without a trace of vulgar Australian. Since then, of course, I have largely slipped back into my old ways, but still I feel Europe pumping through my veins. Each day I wake with a feeling of unassailable superiority, for I have been to Europe - and you haven't. Loser.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

DIY Orgasms

by Kent Fidget, sex educator

Yo kids! What's the haps? I've been "surfing" the net lately, and I've noticed that there's a bit of confusion out there about a crazy thing called "masturbation". Big word, huh? Well, I was a kid once - not so long ago! - and I remember what it was like, hearing words like "masturbation" in the schoolyard and not knowing what they meant, trying to look "cool" and saying, "Yeah, how about that masturbation?" while all the time wanting to vomit for fear of having my ignorance exposed. What's worse, if you don't know what "masturbation" means, you probably don't know what "masturbation" is - and that is something you definitely don't want to remain ignorant about. So I've prepared this "wicked" little guide to "masturbation". I hope you get something out of it. By the way, don't be put off by the "DIY" of the title. There are woodworking skills involved, but of a rather different sort to what you'll see on Backyard Blitz!

What is "masturbation"?

The Oxford Dictionary of Funny Words defines "masturbation" as follows:

n.
1. The stimulation of the genitals by any means other than sexual intercourse.
2. Heaps of fun!

Who can "masturbate"?

Just about anybody can have a go. All you need is some genitals (preferably your own to begin with, but later you might like to try it out on your friends - just make sure you ask their permission first!) and something to stimulate them with!

How do I "masturbate"?

Girls: The first thing to do is find your clitoris. If you don't know where your clitoris is, you might want to track down an animated film called The Adventures of the Little Man in the Boat, which will answer all your questions in a frank and entertaining manner. Once you've found your clitoris, it's time to give it some attention. Pretend its grandmother has just died and you are consoling it. Rub its shoulders in a circular motion, chock it under the chin, tickle it to "cheer it up". This should produce feelings of pleasure, hopefully leading to multiple orgasms.

Boys: Grab your penis. Pull. Repeat.

Does "masturbation" hurt?

Only if you want it to, kids. Hey, when I was a youngster (not so long ago!) I used to "masturbate" my dinger until the cows came home - and then I'd "masturbate" some more! Sometimes it got a little bit sore, but I'd just get out some soothing cream, slather it on and...well, start "masturbating" again!

If I "masturbate", will I go blind?

No! This is a silly wive's tale intended to discourage young dudes and dudettes like you from exploring your bodies. "Masturbation" is actually a fully sick thing to do, and completely harmless! I'm "masturbating" right now, and my vision is in no way impeded - although it does make typing rather difficult!

So I can "masturbate" - what next?

"Masturbation" is a life-long friend. As long as you can stimulate your own genitals, you will never be bored! And when you start applying your technique to other people's genitals, the fun multiplies accordingly!

Now you know what "masturbation" is, you might like to learn more about the wonderful world of sex. My new book, 101 Things To Do With a Stiffy & Other Tips For Teens is available now! It includes all the info you'll need to become a totally orgasmic person! In the meantime, happy wankin', dudes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Funeral Oration

by Mike Taser, embittered journalist

I have been asked to speak today, apparently for no other reason than because I worked with Kevin McFister for some twenty years. I have accepted the invitation not because I wish to reflect on Kevin's good points - I shall leave that to those who can actually discern some - but because I have a number of things to get off my chest. If this seems indulgent, I make no apologies. I like to think Kevin would have appreciated honesty from his eulogists. If not, well, he should have spoken up while he had the chance.

Contra the glowing obituaries that have appeared in the past week, Kevin McFister has long been acknowledged as the most consistently unfunny newspaper cartoonist in the country. There were more jokes about his cartoons than there were in them. Satire, parody, incisive commentary - these, and most other fundamental cartooning concepts, were foreign to this little man who, running his grimy fingers through his equally grimy beard, stalked the paper's offices sketching madly in his notebooks. Granted, his artwork was functional. He was no draughtsman, no Ingres of the felt-tip pen, but neither was he completely lacking in compositional skill. However, his cartoons were so devoid of substance that they were an insult to newspaper cartoonists the world over.

A Kevin said nothing, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing. It just sat there, stuck to the page like a swatted fly. Things happened in a Kevin that were irrelevant to the topic at hand, or nothing happened, or there was no topic, or too much was happening, and there were too many topics. A Kevin never failed to be inappropriate, irrelevant, or downright stupid, unless it was being baffling, obscure, or irritatingly obvious.

The most inane examples came on the frequent occasions when Kevin himself stepped into the frame, portraying himself as a good-humoured dwarf seated on a rock, often holding a bouquet of pansies, with a scrawled monologue filling the empty space around him. I'm sure I'm not the only person present who, at some stage or another, clipped one of these cartoons from the newspaper, stuck it to the fridge door, then set it on fire. These cartoons were Kevin's address to the nation, and usually contained plenty of big words and grand ideas that made little sense to anyone, and proved only that Kevin was as over-educated and under-medicated as most of his colleagues suspected him of being.

Oh yes, Kevin was despised by those of us who had the misfortune to share our working lives with him. Many who have professed admiration for the little bastard since his death were among Kevin's most vociferous critics. Why this talentless blob of spare parts had been employed in the first place, and how he managed to stave off being fired for so long, was the subject of much office innuendo, most of it involving crude allusions to the relative heights of the diminutive cartoonist and the bean-pole deputy editor - Mr Howser, seated today in the front row, comforting the widow McFister with conspicuous enthusiasm - who cleared his work for publication.

Kevin's final cartoon was as individual and asinine as the hundreds preceding it, and is as fitting an end to Kevin's life and career as could be desired. It shows a baby in a pram being pushed down the street by a large gorilla whose tail - yes, a tail on a gorilla; this is the least of the cartoon's problems - is curled tightly around a medieval mace. Underneath this startling vision Kevin has scribbled the words "Happy Anniv. Queen Victoria". What does it mean? Nobody will ever know. Let us take care not to invest it with great significance simply because its creator is dead. A waste of paper is a waste of paper. A Kevin, to me as to many others, is just that, in death as in life.

No doubt he's in heaven right now, annoying the angels with his whimsical take on whatever the hell there is up there to be whimsical about. While my heart goes out to his family, I cannot help rejoicing in Kevin's passing. Rest in peace, Kevin McFister, and fear not - you will barely be missed.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Robots

a selection from Ovid's Metamorphoses (tr: Dick Splick, PhD)

Of bodies changed to other forms I tell; of dollars transformed into tickets to shitty films; of normally sane people become beasts when confronted with sights beyond mortal reckoning, namely, yet another stupid computer animated movie with lots of celebrity voices and "knowing" references.

There is a vale in Melbourne called Doncaster, where many years ago the adherents of the cult of Hollywood built a great temple, now grown old and faded and with strange sticky spots on its carpet, but still a place where the screen god is worshipped, albeit mostly on tight-arse-Tuesday. To this place the legendary warrior Tim wandered, leading his daughter, to make offerings to the Hollywood god, whose new film Robots had come out just in time for the Easter weekend.

Inside the temple, Hollywood's priests attended Tim, and he gave them mountains of gold coin in exchance for tickets and a "combo" deal, comprising drink, popcorn, and piece of molded plastic vaguely resembling one of the characters from the film. In this last his daughter delighted for approximately three quarters of a second. They then entered the inner sanctum, where the assembled worshippers were anxiously querying their offspring about the status of their bladders.

The curtain rose, and Tim was brought face to face with Robots. He shrieked and tried desperately to escape, but Hollywood held him firmly to the ancient upholstery. Tim watched with horror as his daughter was transformed into a slavish adherent of the god, first laughing heartily at the film's highly predictable conceit, before lapsing into a kind of trance as the slick computer generated images gouged the mind from behind her young eyes.

Other worshippers began to change form. Some had their arms and legs turned to hooves, their faces extended: they became horses, whinnying at the slightest provocation of the cacky script. Some became pigs, snorting into their extra large Cokes at the hammy antics of the voice "talent". Tim too was transformed, from man to enraged beast, his prayers to Jove becoming anguished howls as they passed from his animal jaws.

Hollywood, hearing this dissent, manifested himself in the dregs of Tim's soft drink. Even the howls of animals are important to this god, hence his reliance on test audiences. "You disgrace my temple with your criticism," said Hollywood. "I curse you to remain ever thus, an animal burdened with accompanying your daughter to my cynical delights, at least for a few more years, until she learns to despise you and prefer the company of creepy adolescent males, whereupon you shall be discarded like the worthless bag of bones you are."

And so Tim was condemned, and to this day can be found, a man still but also a beast, seated in the temple of Hollywood at Doncaster, shivering in anticipation of the god's next move.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Exclusive: A List of Songs!

Le Driver has served up his Greatest Hits list, which "works just like an iPod 15 Last Played list except rather than sneakily listing your 15 absolute favourite songs instead, here, you are supposed to do just that." In a lame attempt to appear up with the latest blogging trends, here's my hastily-compiled favourite songs list - although I couldn't stop at 15:

Pyramid Song - Radiohead
Dogs - Pink Floyd
Hat and Beard - Eric Dolphy
Footsteps - Miles Davis
Trem Two - Mission of Burma
Christmas Steps - Mogwai
Effigy - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Gut Feeling - Devo
Sand River - Beth Gibbons & Rustin' Man
Andres - L7
Carry Stress In The Jaw - Mr. Bungle
Night - Ocean Machine
Maggot Brain - Funkadelic
Teen-Age Riot - Sonic Youth
Oh My Fucking God - Strapping Young Lad
Third Eye - Tool
Ponderosa - Tricky
Dropout - Urge Overkill
Question of Degree - Wire
Utopia - Goldfrapp

Make-Up Sex Not As Much Fun As Preceding Argument

Melbourne couple Melissa and Mark Stevens last night reaffirmed their love with a session of post-argument coitus that Stevens analysts have described as "disappointing".

Don Ross, neighbour and long-time follower of the Stevens' domestic imbroglios, told Sterne that, given the couple had argued heatedly for several hours, the make-up sex was something of a let down.

"Don't get me wrong," said Mr Ross, "I loved the fight. It was a right old barney. I guess I just had my hopes up about the sex."

Mr Ross reported that the couple, whose marriage has been a roller-coaster ride of lust, bitterness and intrigue, argued from "about eight to ten-thirty", when they became contrite and teary.

"This is where it usually gets good," said Mr Ross, who spent the evening with his ear pressed to the wall separating the Stevens' flat from his own. "One night they started doing it right there. I could literally hear the clothes hitting the carpet."

Last night, however, things were rather subdued.

"They were definitely doing something. I could hear the occasional moan, the odd grunt, but none of the screaming, howling, arse-slapping passion they usually serve up. Frankly, I think they were both a little tired and off their game."

Mr Ross said that he was looking forward to the couple's next post-argument relations.

"I should have my hidden cameras set up by then."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bill Bailey: Part Troll

I always feel a bit sorry for the people lumbered with writing comedy reviews for the papers. There are only so many ways to say "He/she was/wasn't funny" before it starts getting repetitive. In an attempt to compensate for this, the journalist will often simply give a run down of the routine, giving away as many punchlines as possible, so desperate are they to fill out their review. It's all very sad, and makes me glad I never realised my misguided childhood dream of becoming a journalist. Being a lion taming stuntman bounty hunter has been so much more fulfilling.

Anyway, Bill Bailey is performing his show Part Troll as part of the Comedy Festival. I saw it last night, and yes, it was funny. There's no theme, no unifying thread running through the show, just Bailey pacing the stage, rambling on about religion, music, whatever. He comes across as a slightly befuddled hippy, but he is obviously a pretty switched on kind of slightly befuddled hippy. Bailey is also a brilliant musician, and his songs are perhaps the highlight of the show.

So there you have it. He was funny. For some reason he's only doing four shows, so you only have tonight, tomorrow night, and Saturday night to catch him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bands That Time Forgot: Nirvana

by guest blogger Rory Blinks, rock scientist

Who? You're probably familiar with Nirvana's big 1991 hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", but don't worry if the band's name doesn't jump out at you - Nirvana were never ones to plaster their name all over posters and t-shirts.

Huh? Nirvana emerged from Seattle, Washington at the turn of the decade, and were quickly snapped up by David Geffen's Rich Homo Records. Their major label debut, Nevermind, was a minor critical success. Rolling Stone called it "not as good as a Bob Dylan reissue, but still ok, I guess" while Uncut included it in their Top 100 Albums Still Worth Listening To Despite Not Being In Any Way Associated With Cream or Zeppelin. Unfortunately, this praise failed to translate into sales, and Nevermind slunk around the lower reaches of the album charts for a few weeks before disappearing.

Wha? The single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", however, topped the charts for three days running, briefly catapulting the band to stardom. In the following month, Nirvana headlined several high-profile gigs in the UK and US, including the East Wench Rotary Club's annual garden party, and the popular Salt Lake City Mormon Rock Eisteddfod Shake Down.

Ger? Unfortunately, fame is a fickle mistress, and Nirvana's descent into obscurity was swift. Singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain's marriage to the crack-addicted heavy metal singer Juliana Hatfield caused a minor stir in the tabloids, but declining record sales told the real story. In 1993, Rich Homo dropped the band, precipitating a suicide attempt by drummer Dave Grohl, who attempted to suffocate himself with his own feed bag. It was one of rock's darkest hours.

Zah? 1993 saw the band release their final studio album, In Cenatus, which snuck briefly into the top 500, but was quickly displaced by Michael Bolton's War of the Worlds concept album. Bassist Krist Novoselic, arguably Nirvana's creative core, left the band in February. Thus depleted, Nirvana's fate was sealed, and in April the band split, citing lack of interest.

Kok? Since 1994, the former members of Nirvana have kept a low profile. Dave Grohl was jailed in 1996 for trampling three people at an ATM in Los Angeles. Krist Novoselic lives in the Washington backwoods, where he composes poetry and bomb threats. Kurt Cobain's marriage ended in 2001, since when he has written a number of film soundtracks. His latest score can be heard on the forthcoming Disney blockbuster, Invisible Land Whales.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Letter of Complaint

Dear Madam,

I have been a regular caller at Hello Mister for several years and thus far have found little cause for complaint. Your decor is pleasing (I commend you on the ceiling mirrors - tres délicieux!), your prices reasonable, and your ladies, well, they are among the finest medium-budget collections in Australia. In short, many are the pleasurable half-hours I have spent patronising your establishment, and I have always made it my business to recommend you most heartily to my friends.

Last Tuesday, however, I dropped in for some mid-afternoon relief and was shocked to discover that the Hello Mister I love has been transformed almost beyond recognition. For a start, the discreet side entrance is no more, replaced by a distinctly indiscreet front entrance, complete with a garish red neon heart pierced by a flashing purple arrow, promising (as the duty manager explained it) if not love, then at least a reasonably affordable analogue of same.

Once past this tacky bit of signage, further changes were in evidence. The decor has been modernised. Gone are the plush sofas, the grand piano, the cosily smokey bar area. In their place stand pool tables, "ergonomic" chairs, and a bar so overladen with flourescent drinks that one daren't approach without first applying sunscreen. Once upon a time ( that wistful age - last week!) the ground floor of Hello Mister was a place where a gentleman might repair for a pick-me-up before adjourning upstairs for a stint in the sack. Now it plays host to an amorphous cadre of tracksuited bogans, who tap their pool cues on the floor, sink their tinnies and generally behave in a manner once recognised as boorish but now apparently accepted as the height of social grace. What the ladies must make of these beasts, I can only speculate.

Ah yes - the ladies! Hello Mister's ceaseless parade of lovely limber lasses has always played merry hell with both one's passions and one's wallet; this, let us confess, is the reason, considerations of decor and atmosphere aside, for your establishment's immense popularity. I have travelled widely and spent freely, but rarely have I encountered a stable of willing fillies of the standard offered by Hello Mister. Educated, intelligent, and devilishly good value for money, your ladies have always tickled my fancy, often several times in a single session.

Needless to say, Tuesday brought disappointments in this area, also. Style is out; crassness is in. Whereas of old the ladies perched pertly in the downstairs lounge, indulging in conversation and warmly receptive of approach, the "new" Hello Mister resembles nothing so much as a market stall, with the freshly-sluttified ladies pouting and posing at the bar, their synthetic mammaries practically bursting from their "dresses" in a most unbecoming manner. This new batch seems rougher than one has come to expect. One is bidden forth with a wink and a salacious comment, informed of the house rules, and ushered upstairs to the remodelled rooms, where further crimes against the colour spectrum have been committed in the name of "style".

I was lucky enough to find one of the old guard, a lady named Angel whose efficiency and dedication I have enjoyed many times before. However, I soon discovered that she is no longer Angel, she is now Tiffany. "A client complained," she informed me. "So many of our clients are religious. It doesn't pay to blaspheme." I was aghast at such weak-livered pandering to political correctness. Is this a house of ill repute, I asked "Tiffany", or is it not? She thought that perhaps it is not, anymore, and I was so put out that my pleasure in the next half-hour's activities was distressingly dulled.

I am writing directly to you, Madam, as I am certain you cannot be aware of these changes. I notice your management staff are relative newcomers, and are apparently reforming zealots of a particularly populist stripe. I trust you will investigate the matter personally, and restore Hello Mister to its former glory. For surely, in such an establishment, the customer must come first?

Yours sincerely,

John Twittington-Smythe

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bright Spark

Overheard in a second-hand book shop:

Customer: Excuse me, have you got Orwell's 1984?

Shop assistant: Er, is it fiction?

C: Yes.

SA: Orwell?

C: Yes.

SA: Is that A-U-W-E-L-L?

C: No, it's O-R-W-E-L-L.

SA: Oh. Sorry. I'm new here. I'll have a look for you.

New where? Planet Earth? Not wanting to be unduly snobby, but...seriously?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Subway, Eat Blech

by guest blogger, Jared from Subway

Hi, I'm Jared from Subway. You know, I used to be real fat, so fat that children would run away from me, fearing I was going to eat them - and they were right. I had a big problem, and I was sitting on it. One day at my local swimming pool, I was splashing around, demonstrating the law of displacement, when I decided that enough was enough. It was time to get fit, or else spend the rest of my life as a big fat loser.

But what was the use of standing up to my obesity if it meant sitting straight back down and fanning myself with a magazine? I needed an easy way to break through the fat-barrier; and that's when the nice people at Subway turned up and offered to buy me a sandwich.

Now, I was never one for Subway. To be honest, I always thought the food smelled like vomit. Say what you like about McDonalds, I used to say, but at least it doesn't stink like regurgitated offal. But the Subway people talked me round. Subway is just like a durian, they told me. Sure it smells like chuck, but the taste, well, that's a whole other story!

So I tried a few sandwiches, just to humour them, and yeah, after about twenty chicken teriyaki subs I got used to the vomit smell and began to enjoy myself. These things are pretty good, I said, and they've got how much less fat than a Big Mac?

I signed with Subway later that day, and went straight onto a special diet. It was subs, morning, noon and night. Pretty soon I was traveling around the country, giving motivational talks to overweight young people. You don't want to be fat, do you? I would ask them. Go on, name me some fat people who have actually done something.

They'd start throwing the names of famous tubbies at me: Hermann Goering, Santa Claus, John Candy, Andre the Giant. Bah! I'd say. Bunch of losers! Get on the Subway diet, kids, and join the winners club. Alexander the Great? Skinny. Julius Caesar? Skinny. Franklin D. Roosevelt? Damned if he wasn't skinny!

Nowadays I'm still sucking down the subs like I'm getting them for nothing (which I am). I prowl the streets, sleek and slender, like an albino panther with glasses. Even got me a girlfriend, Mindy, who likes her daily foot long, if you know what I mean. And it's all thanks to Subway sandwiches. So kids, if your tushie's got a wide-load sign hanging off it, get yourself down to your local Subway store - there's one replacing an independent take-away outlet near you soon. And tell 'em Jared sent you.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Channel 31 Joins Fight For Footy Rights

Melbourne community station Channel 31 has announced it will bid against Nine and the Seven/Ten consortium to secure broadcast rights to the 2007-11 AFL seasons.

Channel 31, home of such favourites as Horse Rush, Romanian Mozaic, and Nurse TV, is confident it can be competitive in the bidding war, despite not actually having any money to offer.

"It's all about heart," spokesman Mike Broom told Sterne. "Our passion for cheap, niche-market TV is obvious, and will stand us in good stead. And, once our second camera is repaired, we will have the technology to put together a really professional package."

Mr Broom said he was confident of success, despite critics drawing attention to the station's limited broadcasting range.

"Look, if you wiggle your aerial around a bit, maybe invest in some kind of industrial strength antenna, there's no reason why you can't get almost watchable reception in several Melbourne suburbs."

A spokesman for Nine told Sterne that his network wasn't particularly concerned by Channel 31's entry into the fray.

"We will crush them like grapes," he said, before foaming at the mouth. "Then...then we will crush all of you!"

Love Day: The Aftermath

Love Day is over, and it's time to bask in the warm afterglow. Or is it? Despite the best efforts of Jess, Lefty and Ms Cynic (amongst others), there didn't appear to be any great flurry of dumpling-rubbing at any of the blogs I visited. Thanks, however, to the four people who commented on the previous post in the 24 hours after I wrote it. That's got to be a record for Sterne. Also, a special hello to Ms Cynic who apparently wet her pants at this post, "and not in the good way". I'd love to know what that means.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Holding Hands Across the Blogosphere

Jess has proclaimed today Bloggington Love Day, urging bloggers (and blog readers) to reach out and touch one another, possibly on the backside in a footy-player-esque "Nice goal, mate," manner. It's not a bad idea, as appreciation (any feedback, really) helps keep the blogging juices flowing from that special blogging juice vesicle, and most bloggers just don't receive enough of it. That includes me, by the way. Feel free to take that last sentence as a hint.

Monday, March 14, 2005

An idea for a novel

Three men of disparate background and temperament - a serial drink driver who runs over pregnant teenagers for fun; an albino Nazi war criminal turned private detective; and a man who spends his days at his local library ripping out the penultimate page of every book in the place, except for Moby Dick, which he is eating - must club together to defeat an invasion of fork-tongued turnip men from the planet Zhoog. Will explore issues of cultural imperialism, the impermanence of truth, and the ettiquette of serving vegetable dishes in zero gravity.

Format: Short, but will nonetheless provide value for money by virtue of its impenetrability.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Speed of Lie

The "Lie-nstein Factor" and the ABC's culture of bias,
by guest blogger Andy Chappedsack


A message for those still labouring under the impression that the ABC's left-wing bias is restricted to a handful of unrepresentative loose cannons and therefore not worth bothering about: it's time to face reality. The ABC is a festering pool of subversive scum, and its bias is evident on almost every level, including - no, especially - light entertainment.

Take The Einstein Factor. "Your" ABC screens this noxious half-hour of semi-dried soilings every Sunday night in order to please a militant intellectual elite of minutiae-obsessed Trotskyites, whose idea of fun is a couple of rounds of snobbish trivia interspersed with sniggering pokes at Australia's democratically elected government. Light entertainment? Not with an agenda this heavy.

Hosted by "comedian" Peter Berner - an incendiary regular on a number of "your" ABC's majority-bashing stink-fests - The Einstein Factor seems to imply that knowledge is, in fact, something worth celebrating! Each week, three layabout show-offs pit their knowledge of arcane subjects against a panel of "intellectuals" in a bid to...well, what exactly? Not win money or consumer goods - this show is far too fashionably anti-materialist to offer anything so vulgar as prizes? No, The Einstein Factor celebrates that left-wing furphy, the intrinsic value of knowledge.

Yes, when the honest taxpayer settles down to an evening in front of "his" ABC on a Sunday evening, looking to relax before the start of the working week, he is expected to cheer at a trio of braying middle-aged undergraduates demonstrating their mastery of useless knowledge while a B-grade comedian trades decency-mocking banter with a further trio of state-succoured elites with the Australian taxpayer's signature on their tailor's receipts and the downfall of Western civilisation on their minds. To the honest taxpayer, whose hard-won knowledge helps him earn a living and therefore contribute to civil society, and who voted for the party "his" ABC is determined to scorn, The Einstein Factor must feel like a slap, if not a bag of freshly-brewed camel excrement, to the face!

Just look at the panel of "brains" who each week vie with Berner for the leftier-than-thou plaudits of the apparently doped-up studio audience. Theatre types, fringe comedians, politically-safe academics. Such worthy brains! What fun! The left-wing slant is so blatant as to make me feel a condescending old fool for even pointing it out. Why do we get Barry Jones and not Michael Kroger? Why Red Symons and not Stan Zemanek? Why "author and poet" Dr Anita Heiss ("a member of the Wiradjuri nation" according to the show's web site - but not, you will note, of the Australian nation!) and not Bryce Coutrney? Ah yes, because not only does the left have a monopoly on political truth, but also on humour and intelligence! How silly of me - a mere wage slave with a house in the 'burbs! - to forget the left's history of classic cacks! Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and now Peter Berner - the laughs just keep on coming!

The Einstein Factor is typical of "your" ABC's approach to light entertainment. A format usually associated with the commercial networks (in this case the quiz show) is given a veneer of trendy left-wing "credibility", fitted out with a politically-acceptable (to the left) host, then unleashed to do its dirty business under the guise of "satire" or "entertainment". Just what is funny or entertaining about a cadre of seditious refugees from the loony left putting forth an anti-capitalist, anti-US, anti-Australian agenda under the cover of a light-hearted Sunday night quiz show is beyond me. But then, I - and the majority of my fellow taxpayers - am not the target demographic of The Einstein Factor, or indeed any of "your" ABC's stable of treasonous treats.

Light entertainment? The only thing light about The Einstein Factor is its claim to existence.

Continuing Sterne's tradition of hard-hitting right-wing commentary, next week we examine "your" ABC's Gardening Australia - harmless backyard advice, or a tool of left-wing eco-terrorist propaganda?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Drunk

Writing about drunkenness is notoriously difficult. Perhaps the sexual act is the only other subject to so confront the writer with its incommunicability. With drunkenness in fiction, you tend to get certain adjectives ("fuzzy", "unsteady", "woozy") and speech slips into a kind of Dickensian dialect of slurred vowels and dropped consonants. As in real life, the inebriated are often keen on talking politics:
Boyle: The counthry'll have to steady itself...it's goin...to hell...Where'r all...the chairs...gone to....steady itself, Joxer...Chairs'll...have to...steady themselves...No matther...what any one may...say...Irelan' sober...is Irelan'...free.

- Sean O'Casey (Juno and the Paycock)
This is really nothing more than an impression of drunken behavior. Drunks are everywhere in prose - from Hemingway to Bukowski to Patrick Hamilton - but being a drunk is different to simply being drunk, and it doesn't assist one's ability to describe inebriation. Drunks are joyless, miserable. They've drunk all the fun out of being pissed.

"Always be drunk" advises Baudelaire:
In order not to feel
Time's horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
Well, who would want time's horrid fardel bruising their shoulders? Not me, and certainly not Charles. But what are we to get drunk on? "On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever." (Presumably James Boag Premium falls under "whatever".) This is excellent advice, picking up on one of the truths of intoxication, that time becomes condensed to its present moment, the past slips away, and the future is non-existent. It is a fleeting taste of immortality, just as the resulting hangover is a little death, and as powerful a refutation of Cartesian dualism as any in philosophy or science - for if the mind is a distinct substance, why does it hurt so much?

D.H. Lawrence gives us "Drunk" which tells us nothing, Pablo Neruda serves up "Drunk as Drunk", which would be good to whisper drunkenly in the ear of a drunken lover ("Drunk as drunk on turpentine/From your open kisses"), but offers little insight into the drunken mind.

Finally we turn to Hugh MacDiarmid's "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle". It begins:
I amma fou sae muckle as tired deid dune
It's gey and hard wark coupin gless for gless
Wi Cruvie and Gilsanquar and the like,
And I'm no juist as bauld as aince I wes.
There's little chance Hugh's feeling time's fardel bruising his shoulder. While there is no doubt some deep meaning behind this mess of whiskey-soaked Scots dialect, the poem works best as a kind of virtual reality machine: just reading it aloud makes you feel as though you're off your tits. MacDiarmid's must be the poetry Baudelaire wants us to get drunk on. "I ken it tae - the truth's in wine!" writes MacDiarmid. I'm with him. Wearth me...hath and coath? I'm...goin' to...the pubth.

Hock and soda water: a postscript

Was rather drunk last night, and so find myself in the grip of a modest hangover, which may help explain why the preceding article has no point, and was simply an excuse to type the words "drunken literature" into Google. Or it may not. I shall now lie down with my fingers held lightly to my temples and ruminate on my regrets.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A High Wind in Jamaica

by Richard Hughes (1929), an attempt at a book review

Hughes describes a world of simultaneous decay and regeneration. The West Indies, the novel's initial setting, is dotted with the ruins of the prosperous slave era. It is fecund with smothering vegetation. Its people live dilapidated lives and cling to outmoded (or merely incongruent) social conventions. However: "It was a kind of paradise for English children to come to, whatever it might be for their parents."

The Bas-Thornton children thrive in this wild wonderland. They retain "the traditional mental mechanism of Europe", yet their very behaviour rejects it. They are as alien to their parents as they are to England itself, although their parents remain unaware of either fact. For the children, nature in all its violence is embraceable, a fact of life. A hurricane puts fear into their parents' hearts, however, and the children are bundled onto a ship, bound for England, where they will "at least be safe from dangers of that sort".

Not long into the voyage, the ship is attacked by a peculiarly pacifistic band of pirates, who take the children on board their ship. The pirates are innocents, little boys trapped in the bodies of grown men. They share with the children the same small-picture outlook, and a similar propensity for unpredictable flashes of savagery; they differ in that their adult bodies have greater appetites, and their adult minds possess the burden of self-doubt.

The bulk of the novel is taken up with the onboard adventures of pirates and children. Perhaps adventures is the wrong word. It is more a succession of loosely inter-related events, told in an angular, ironic manner. Hughes' children are amoral, reacting rather than reflecting, which leads to the death of one, and the implication in a murder of another. Lord of the Flies taps a similar vein, but A High Wind in Jamaica offers the more effective portrayal of the potential for brutality inherent in childhood innocence. It is also one of the few works written for adults that successfully evokes memories of the inconsistent, narrow mental state of childhood.

Hughes offers no cosy assessment of child or adult, yet is unflinching in his acceptance of their capacity for good and evil. There seems, however, to be a deep distrust of civilisation. The jungle or ocean is a moral lacuna; savagery is prevented from prevailing only by the innate decency of its wild inhabitants. In Victorian England more calculating intelligences are at work, which ultimately prove fatal for the pirates. The children, blank slates that they are, are simply absorbed into the morass of civilisation, and their corruption, Hughes seems to be noting with dismay, is now assured.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Exhibitionism

Charles Griffin - recipient of the 2003 Steve Vizard grant for the marginally talented - has his detractors, but this young Melbourne artist has ignored the nay-sayers and gone straight for the jugular with his new exhibition, White People Are Racist & Other Suburban Truths.

Griffin, who is one-sixteenth talented, states in the programme notes that his intention is to "subvert the mores of white, middle-class Australia, and the racist, masculinist, imperialist ideology at the dark heart of this country." Griffin is well-placed to do so, having completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Applied Retrospective Indignation (Art History). "My goal," he writes, "is to peel away the veneer of suburban respectability to reveal the festering pustules of hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the Great Australian Dream."

Reading these words, this reviewer felt a tingle of joyful anticipation. At last - somebody willing to stand up and expose the nightmare behind the daydream of Australian suburbia! It is not often one comes across a concept so revolutionary as to take one's breath away, like an asthma attack in a wind tunnel. Yet it was in such a state - wheezing and hacking with glee - that I made my way into the exhibition space.

Griffin can be difficult; his conceptual pieces often require seconds of thought to decode. The first piece one encounters in the present exhibition, AmeriKKKa - a United States flag, lightly singed around the edges, and spray-painted with the words "No Wor" (sic) - reflects the deep reading Griffin engages in while formulating his ideas. Nearby, a bust of Prime Minister John Howard sculpted from the artist's own excrement and titled Shithead, with undigested corn kernels, is a beautifully understated piece that would not look out of place in the hallowed galleries of the Louvre.

The icons of traditional Australian art are challenged in the Heidelberg Exhumed series, Griffin exposing the reality behind the romanticised images of the 1890s. The Pioneer of Hate, one of the standout works of the show, savagely mimics McCubbin's famous triptych. Where McCubbin told a sentimental tale of hard work, spousal devotion, and beneficial progress, Griffin offers a more clear-eyed take, with his images of environmental holocaust at the hands of the pioneering axe, the rape of native animals, and the drunken bands of Sydney intelligentsia who once roamed the outback, composing doggerel and beating women with their gold-topped walking sticks. Fucking the Rams is in a similar vein; Roberts' celebrated work is revealed as pastoral propaganda, pushing the agenda of the landed elite to the exclusion of the emotional interests of their ovine slaves.

Yet while Griffin proves an incisive and witty commentator on history and power politics, it is his critique of middle class Australia that truly engages. In Griffin's reading, white, Anglo-Saxon culture is exclusive, inhibitive, and inherently xenophobic and misogynistic. It is also agonisingly philistine, as Griffin opines in the painting They won't understand this, in which a "typical" Australian family sits at the dinner table, eating fast food from paper bags, the television prattling away in front of them, while in a dingy corner resides a broken, cobwebbed pile of art and literature. The same message is implicit in the self-portrait, Artist, Cubed, where Griffin depicts himself squashed into a tiny box, outside of which lie pen and ink, brush and paint, lyre and melody. Griffin finds himself in artistic purgatory - and it's name is suburbia.

Of course, similar ideas have been put forth by other Australian artists, notably John Brack and Jeffrey Smart. Griffin, however, rejects the Eliotesque existentialism of these painters in favour of a blunt, aggressive approach. "A people asleep require a gunshot, not an argument, to wake them," writes the critic Jean-Paul Longueur in a recent essay. "Griffin provides that gunshot. He rejects intellectualism, consistency of thought, logic, decency, tradition, and even half-decent painting in order to guy his countrymen from their slumber. If we are to combat the prevalent right-wing ideology of our times, it is necessary to throw out the books and pull on the jackboots. Griffin's work may well end up on a flag, someday."

Such revolutionary concerns aside, however, Griffin's work has much to offer the average art lover. As a lesson in where one is wrong, and, in Griffin's well-chosen words, how "fucked up" one's "pathetic existence" is, White People Are Racist is hard to beat. One emerges from the exhibition feeling as though one's soul has been scrubbed with a jagged pumice stone, its guilt-ridden innards exposed for all to see. This reviewer never knew just how much of a bigot he was until Griffin showed him the light. The title piece, in particular, with its multi-media imagery of white savagery juxtaposed with black spirituality is particularly affecting. Few previous artists have bothered with such issues; it has taken Griffin to show us where we have gone wrong. That is, Griffin shows us the inherent and hopeless ghastliness of being a white Australian.

He also shows us a way out. Blow Your Brains Out, Australia, a huge piece covering some eight square metres, is a photo-collage of computer manipulated images of suicide victims, arranged so as to make an Australian flag when viewed from afar. Ten minutes spent looking at this powerful work was enough to make this reviewer if not suicidal, then potentially so. It is remarkable that in the present climate of conservative repression, one artist should find it in himself to go against the grain, to challenge the prevailing orthodoxes, to reveal the truth behind the facade of modern life. White People Are Racist & Other Suburban Truths will leave you depressed, anxious, ashamed, deflated, and quite possibly reaching for the sleeping pills and a bottle of bourbon. It is, in short, what good Australian art is all about.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

High School Memories

Health Studies was a kind of catch-all, semester-length lecture on the perils of doing whatever it was we, as fifteen year olds, were thinking of doing. In this class we discussed “teen issues”, that is, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, self-esteem, suicide, and other such cheerful topics. The subject was probably at least partly instituted to indemnify the school against future litigation, should one or all of us end up pregnant, pot-smoking depressives, which in fact one or all of us did.

Health Studies was no doubt intended as a “frank and open” discussion of these concerns, yet this was precluded by two things: 1) the general reluctance of teens to be frank and open about anything, let alone their intimate thoughts and deeds; and 2) the presence as convenor of the forum of one Mrs Cudrow*, a teacher possessed of such disdain for her charges that her every syllable to us was accompanied by an evil glare, and not a small amount of frothy spittle.

Aside from cigarettes and alcohol, Cudrow’s abiding obsession was underage sex, particularly that resulting in pregnancy, genital warts, herpes, hepatitis, AIDS, or any combination of the above. She was dogged in her condemnation of those who went too far too soon, and refused to concede that sex could ever simply result in a good time had by all.

Probably the most infamous sex-related element of the Health Studies curriculum was the “condom lesson”. Each of us were handed two condoms, while Cudrow unwrapped one and held it up for all to see.

“This,” she announced with relish, as we cringed and bit out nails, trying not to look at the rubbery snake-skin dangling from our teacher’s fingers, “is a condom!”

She then proceeded to roll the device over her middle and pointer fingers, before fixing us with a contemptuous look, saying:

“This is how you put on a condom. You roll it gently down the shaft of the penis, all the way to the base. Then, when the boy spoofs or sprogs or comes or whatever you call it in your filthy schoolyard lingo, the semen is trapped in the reservoir at the top, preventing it from entering the vaginal canal.”

At this point, shaking with terror and desperately avoiding one another’s eyes, we were forced at Cudrow-point to follow her lead, opening our condoms and rolling them onto our fingers. This done, Cudrow did a circuit of the room, examining our technique, and offering handy hints on how to do it properly, to ensure none of the “sprog” managed to find its way into the “vaginal canal”. It is a scene burned into my memory, and one I fully expect to recount down the track to a therapist, or possibly magistrate. The net result was a low-level anxiety about condoms that, when the time came to actually use one for the first time, caused an already awkward procedure to become thoroughly nerve-racking.

Of course, the main problem with Health Studies, apart from the hectoring personality of our teacher, was its irrelevance. We already knew all the sex stuff, if not through experience, then through schoolyard rumour, innuendo, and the occasional dog-eared copy of Penthouse. As for drugs and alcohol, well, as mentioned above many, if not most, of my class went on to experiment with these substances, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, possibly in an attempt to erase the memory of Health Studies class.

These days, things are different. I expect that most kids are qualified gynaecologists by age twelve, having been brought up on a steady diet of Video Hits and Big Brother. But I bet Health Studies, or some variation on the theme, remains part of high school curriculum. I only hope it is in the hands of less malevalent educators than Mrs Cudrow. The old hag.

*Not her real name. But it's pretty close.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Random Acts of Randomness

Everybody is doing it. They're also posting lists of the last batch of tunes to be served up at random by mp3 players or media programs. Not wanting to be left behind, I now present the last ten songs that have been piped out of my steam-powered portable gramophone:

1. Officer, Put Out an A.P.B. on my Heart - Diana Ross

2. Two Hands on My Organ - Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

3. Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us (Big Booty Remix) - DJ Bejesus

4. Bach's Fugue In E-Minor - Good Charlotte

5. Bitches pt. 9 - 50 Cent

6. Fuck Off! (Response to Anthony Calea's 'The Prayer') - God

7. At War With Satan - Michael Buble & Venom

8. Love Theme from Alien vs. Predator - Elton John

9. Just An Old Fashioned Narcissist - Chris Gaines (feat. Garth Brooks)

10. Thought You Were My Baby (But You Were Just a Braxton Hicks) - Nina Simone

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

by guest reviewer Hunter S. Thompson

We were waiting for the film to start when the double espressos we'd had began to kick in and all hell broke loose. My attorney and I crossed our legs and bucked and squirmed but eventually we were forced to make a trip to the gents', where we sprayed our yellow streams against the aluminum urinals and laughed at the dream people pissing next to us.

My attorney wanted to go score some extra strong Fisherman's Friends, but I held firm. We're professionals, I told him, here to review The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou for Sterne. The editor had given us $200, most of which we had already spent on various substances. In my backpack I had a quart of red cordial, two packets of hayfever pills, seventeen pellets of Juicy Fruit, a ventolin inhaler, a quart of slightly off milk, some menthol cigarettes, a packet of matches, and two nine volt batteries. I could sense there were narcs in the cinema, but I felt safe with my attorney close by, ready to swing his gorilla fists into action at the slightest provocation. All the same, I tensed when the house lights went down, praying to God or whoever not to let me come down with a Burger Rings flashback, there in the crowded darkness.

The film started badly and went downhill from there. After the first mirthless exchange of stilted dialogue, my attorney lunged across me to grab at the backpack. He retrieved the ventolin inhaler, took two puffs, looked at the screen where Bill Murray and Owen Wilson were engaged in something inane, and took a couple more. I scarfed down three Juicy Fruit, a dash of red cordial and put a cigarette out on my chest, but it didn't help. The film was still there, grating away at my frayed nerve endings like a Nixon speech.

Through the drugs, I could see where the film was coming from. A kind of sweet-natured parody of the Jacques Cousteau school of adventurer-oceanographer, complete with stagey underwater sequences, and a ragtag crew of misfits. But twenty minutes in, I was pressing the nine volt battery to my tongue, trying to suck some alkaline joy from the bastard, as the shitty half-jokes washed over me like a sea of putrid hillbilly vomit. Around me people were laughing their empty laughs, trying to convince themselves they were having a good time, that their dollars hadn't been wasted on a lame fucking dog of a film.

By the halfway point, my attorney and I were fairly ruined. The milk and cigarettes were all gone, and my attorney was getting through the Juicy Fruit like they were going for nothing. I stuck two matches up my nose, swallowed some hayfever pills and told him I was leaving. The big bastard crashed through some old ladies who were chuckling into their purses over some crack Bill Murray - a goddamn living treasure, but wasted here - had just made. I thought my attorney was going to throw up, or get naked or something, so I grabbed his arm and pulled him through the heavy double doors. Red-eyed and half-dead we emerged into the night, gasping for air unsullied by the horror of The Life Aquatic.

"Jesus fuck a fucking sunbeam," said my attorney, "what a piece of shit! Let's go get ourselves those Fisherman's Friends!"

I nodded, downed the last of the red cordial, and ran off down the stairs, a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Penguin Great Ideas

by guest blogger, Mr G.B. Toss, Serious Intellectual

Browsing in my local independent book emporium over the weekend, I happened upon a new range of books from Penguin, going under the series title Great Ideas. Oh yes, I thought, and what "great ideas" have been squeezed between the covers of these slim volumes in order to satiate the pathetic yearnings of the culture-starved bourgeoisie? What grotesque abridgments and distortions have been committed to make these "great ideas" palatable to the busy suburbanite, so eager to impress his equally busy friends with a quotation from the classics before they settle down to an evening of salacious rubbish on the idiot box? What crimes against intellectual decency have been perpetrated so that the Camberwell matron and her coterie of gossiping secret drinkers can intersperse their coffee time discussions of Hollywood film stars with pithy observations from the ancients gleaned from some commercial bastardisation linking the deep thought of our intellectual ancestors to some evanescent cultural fad?

Well, upon flipping through a number of said volumes, my gravest fears were confirmed. The Penguin Great Ideas series is, in the words of Tariq Ali, "parochial and philistine". It panders to the most reprehensible species of intellect, that of the half-educated, Friends of the ABC-joining, Labor Party-voting, Radio National-listening middle-class boor. The kind of person who believes a little knowledge to be not a dangerous thing, but rather the very mark of sophistication. The kind of person who gets about town in his or her four-wheel-drive with one of Mozart's more popular symphonies playing on the car stereo while half a dozen children named Tarquin scream their selfish desires from the back seat in imitation of Mummy and Daddy who simply must get to the market before closing time otherwise how will they be able to cook that delightful Ragout a la Dijon they saw on Nigella Lawson's programme last night?

Not that the Great Ideas series doesn't contain some admirable works. However, the booklet format necessitates truncating many of the originals almost beyond recognition, or of compressing a large body of thought into an absurdly small "package", thus giving "readers" (as the creatures who would purchase these books no doubt like to be called) the feeling of having acquired knowledge without having made too much of an effort.

Oh yes, it is easy enough to read the Great Ideas volumes dedicated to Marx, Montaigne, Gibbon, Nietzsche or Freud. Should be good for at least half an hour of distraction, in between watching the commercial news broadcast and fretting over interest rates. Nothing like a quick fix of thought, that quaint concept one used to hear so much about at school, or at least at the schools I myself attended. Then it's back to Middle Australia, back to pop music and Neighbours and posting inanities to your "blog".

How much more difficult to tackle the real thing, to work one's way through Marx, et al, to feel one's worldview expand with the infusion of thought? How much more satisfying to be able to expound at length upon Marx's debt to Hegel, Ruskin's theories of architecture, or the conversion of St. Augustine? Satisfying not only for oneself, but for one's friends and dinner companions. And all it takes is the will to sit down and read, not in the sense of skimming through pamphlets while waiting for the train, but real, concentrated reading, of the kind done back in the old days, when ignorance was rightly punished with a spell in the stocks.

The Great Ideas list is also strikingly narrow, full of dead whites, buried to their necks in the Western tradition. Why not include some of the classics of Chinese or Indian literature, the great works of Islam, and so forth? Where are the works from the blind, Asian Paralympian school of philosophy, so influential in recent years? Why is the highly respected Ulaanbaatar Group of Papist, llama-herding historians without representation? Penguin seems only to desire to reinforce the strict demarcation of cultures that has led the world to its present perilous situation.

While my stance may strike some as elitist, I am merely defending the realm of intellect from the pseudo-thinkers whose insidious influence seems ever greater. From Bertrand Russell to Alain de Botton, there have always been those who have erroneously believed that popularising philosophy and the humanities is "a good thing". As somebody who has spent the majority of his life with his nose buried in the works of Civilisation, who has worked his metaphorical fingers to the metaphorical bone in pursuit of Knowledge, I cannot agree with this position. Leave the proles and their middle-class masters to their ignorance. Let them feast upon the meager stew of pop culture. In short, leave the real thing to the true intellectuals.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Poor Man Not Missing Out On Bullshit Cultural Ephemera

Poverty-stricken Melbourne man Donny Paul is happy to report that despite not having enough money for food and accommodation, he still manages to keep up with all the latest middle-class fads.

"Take blogging," he told Sterne. "You might think my lack of a computer would prevent me from participating in the digital publishing revolution, but you'd be wrong. I've been blogging for ages."

Mr Paul's method of "offline blogging" sees him regale strangers in the street with narcissistic anecdotes about his day-to-day life, top ten lists, and sarcastic pop-culture commentary.

"I get several hits a day," Mr Paul said. "Often on the nose."

Mr Paul, who spends most nights shivering in doorways, also enjoys listening to the iPod he has constructed for himself from discarded Discmans. He has even come up with a way to replicate the latest model from Apple, the iPod Shuffle.

"I just close my eyes when I'm shoplifting CDs from HMV."

Mr Paul told Sterne that, if he lives through the winter, he would like to join the automobile set with his own 4WD.

"I'm working on building a Land Cruiser out of a shopping trolley and some discarded asbestos roofing," he said. "Just 'cause I'm forced to dress in rags and eat refuse out of bins doesn't mean I can't have it all."