Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sorrows of Young Liberal

Dear Jacqueline,

There has been much speculation about the relationship reforms I proposed last week, that is to say, the fact that I asked you out. Much of this comes from persons with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo - specifically Ken, who practically dribbles with lust every time you walk into the room, and who once described me as a "pompous wanker". Then there are those whose negative stance is influenced less by rational analysis than ideological prejudice. Scott, that daft Stalinist, falls into this category. In short, you are being given misleading advice by your so-called "friends", so I have decided to present you with the facts in the hope that you will come around.

MYTH: I'm only after sex.

FACT: I am not only after sex. In fact, if you examine the figures, you will see that sex constitutes only forty-nine percent of my expectations. Due consideration is also given to such key facets of our (potential) relationship as: holding hands in public, curling up in front of McLeod's Daughters, and talking about our feelings. Sex is a factor, but let me assure you that I am an advocate of mutual obligation in the bedroom. Put it this way: you serve up the pie, I'll eat it. You can't ask fairer than that.

MYTH: I am a sexist pig.

FACT: This is nothing but a vicious calumny put about by those who seek to discredit me. I have five sisters, three aunts, one mother and at least half a grandmother (her condition varies depending on the humidity), and I can honestly say I have never once subjugated them to my chauvinist will, not even accidentally. Yes, I do think that a woman's role, in addition to some light vacuuming, is to raise children, and if this marks me out as sexist then I suppose I am sexist. But I don't think I am, and neither do any of my mates down at the gentleman's club.

MYTH: I am a crypto-fascist imperialist.

FACT: Ideological hatred rears its ugly head. Scott (that cretinous collectivist) deployed the f-word in response to certain of my views put forth at a barbecue last year, and ever since I've had to put up with people who should know better calling out "Zeig Heil!" as I wander around campus. This is absurd. I merely suggested that we would be better off invading the entire Middle East and putting all insurgents to the sword - or the most efficient modern equivalent - before installing obedient puppet regimes. If that's crypto-fascist imperialism, I'll eat my new Patriotic Aryan Youth League of Australia hat!

MYTH: I am a dud root.

FACT: This chestnut is courtesy of Mandy who has been preoccupied with defaming my sexual prowess ever since I shagged her senseless during O-week and refused to buy her dinner afterwards. She claims I couldn't get it up and, as a result, was about as much fun as, I quote, "fucking a plate of lukewarm cannelloni". Clearly this is a lie, as my athleticism between the sheets has been well documented by such libidinous luminaries as Catherine, Jess, Claudia, and either May-Na or Wing-Nu - I'm not sure which one I shagged, all those Asian chicks look the same to me. The data supplied by these sources - which roughly breaks down to ninety percent moaning, five percent panting, three percent calling-my-name-in-ecstacy, and two percent squirting of vaginal fluids - indicates that, should you consent to my penis entering your vagina and/or other orifices (this last to be negotiated on an orifice-by-orifice basis), a good time is all but guaranteed.

I trust this letter has put to rest any reservations you might have entertained about my proposal. To conclude, let me say that I envision a lengthy, mutually-satisfying relationship between us, as long as you give up those silly gender studies classes. You don't need them: we can easily study gender in the back seat of my Cortina, and you won't even need to take notes. I sincerely hope this letter has convinced you of my rectitude and suitability. I remain, always and forever,

Jason P. Crisp
President, Young Liberal Pig Shooting Social Club (Victoria)


This month's repost was originally spawned on September 13, 2005. I have a feeling it was sparked by a Federal Government ad campaign addressing various "myths" about Workchoices or something. Oh, and because I wanted to use that line about the pie.

It's been a *long* school holidays...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cheap, nasty, provincial

Did you somehow miss that "50 greatest arts videos on Youtube" thing when it ran in The Observer a month ago and was linked to by almost every blog in the universe? Well, nevermind, because today's Age wasted devoted two-and-a-half pages to printing it.* You know, for the benefit of the five people who own a computer with an internet connection, and who would be interested in a list of the 50 greatest arts videos on Youtube, and yet who somehow managed to miss seeing it the first time around.

*They also put it on the A2 cover, which would be idiotic at the best of times but especially when the International Festival of Brass is on. Why not put some brass on the cover? What have they got against brass? Have they never stopped to consider what brass has done for them?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Work It

Employed again. Obviously this is good from a need-to-eat perspective, and don't get me wrong I'd rather have the job than not, but the fact is it's another retail job and that does take the edge off my post-"You're hired!" euphoria. I suppose if nothing else it will provide an incentive to continue looking for something better.

I've been considering abandoning Sterne and setting up shop elsewhere, a la Pavlov's Cat. Long-term blogs generate a lot of psychic baggage and I wonder if I'd feel refreshed by a change of scenery. Also, I changed to a more accurate site stats provider a couple of weeks ago and have subsequently discovered that at least 70% of the roughly 90-120 daily visitors to Sterne are looking for this picture of Richie Valens, God knows for what reason. Another 20% are searching for things too disgusting to name in this family timeslot, while the remaining 10% consists of regular readers and a dedicated group of enthusiasts who apparently spend their free time googling "West African Fighting Rabbits" (Sterne being the number one, and probably only, considering I invented them, authority on these creatures). It's hard to explain why but I find these stats unsettling - more psychic baggage. If I shift I promise that you, and the Richie Valens/rabbit fanciers, will be the first to know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to cure writer's block

Jump around the room singing along to "Lust for Life". Usually works for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

All I can say is

if you think David Foster Wallace committed suicide - in a particularly grisly manner no less, although I'm struggling to think of a non-grisly manner - because he was stressed about writing a book(!), or because James Wood criticised his prose(!!), or because John McCain had somehow "let him down" by not being as decent as DFW had portrayed him in "Up, Simba"(!!!), or because he needed more Christ and less thinkin' in his life(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), or any of the thousand other simplistic "reasons" I've seen people offer on comment threads in the past 24 hrs, then you clearly haven't got a fucking clue about depression or, I'd wager, much else. Then there are the seen-it-all types who shrug their weary shoulders and say, "It's sad, of course, but I'm not surprised - he was obviously troubled." Well, who isn't troubled? Then we get an excerpt from the fiction, like it explains anything and everything. There's only one work of DFW's that might go some way to explaining why he's dead, and it - if it exists - is presumably in his wife's possession, and I doubt she's taking much comfort from it at present. I suppose it's natural - and acceptable - to ask the big post-suicide question: "Why?". It doesn't follow that people who didn't know the guy are entitled to try to answer it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man Booger

There is a "flavour", writes John Sutherland, to this year's Booker shortlist. Dead bird? Manure? (Not the latter - too fertile.) No, it's accessibility: "None (or at least, not too much) of that boring "literary" crap." So, mostly just crap crap then.

I like the look of Sea of Poppies (Stevenson-esque nautical yarns are all right by me) but the rest of the list is awful. I realise I used a fragment of The Lost Dog to make a point (yes, there was one, somewhere) about some irritating trends in contemporary literary fiction, but overall I was impressed with de Kretser's novel. (I've been dying to say that in public, because it's true and I felt bad about featuring de Kretser's work so prominently in my critique. If I could go back in time I would rewrite that post using an example from a different book; also I would remove the misleading and loaded word "unrealistically" from the first par. Because of course that's what I would do if I had a time machine, go back and edit blog posts.) That it didn't make the cut is testament to the (not entirely unexpected) conservatism of the judges and the (again hardly revelatory) bullshitness of the award itself. Also: no Netherland! Not that I liked the thing, but I'd bet on it to win in an informal sweep. Now I have no chance of winning back my four dollars.


Catherine Deveny's column on fatherhood is spot on. Men need to be encouraged to be good parents, but they don't need to be coddled. I speak from experience: without going into specifics, at the age of twenty - a very immature twenty - I had to learn quickly how to look after a child, and although I had (and still have) supportive parents of my own, I soon became reasonably self-reliant and proficient in the arts of parenting. I don't know if I had any views on gender roles in parenting, but if I did they were swiftly overturned by the immediate reality of having a child to look after. I copped my share of condescending remarks ("Babysitting today?"), misguided praise ("So good to see a man brave enough to take his daughter out alone!"), and nasty looks (unfortunately to some people man + child = kidnapping) but I always felt it was axiomatic that you look after your kids, whatever your gender.

It is bizarre to me 1) that women let their men get away with acting like Ward Cleaver, and 2) that men want to act that way in the first place. It's a bit like cooking - my dad (who is, I hasten to add, otherwise an enlightened, generous and active participant in family life) rarely cooks anything more complicated than a slice of toast. I, on the other hand, cook most of my family's meals and tend to think that my dad has missed out on one of the great pleasures of life. The hands-off, Ward Cleaver-types miss out on even more. I can't imagine not being capable of taking my daughters out for the day on my own, or spending the weekend at home with my youngest while my partner is away with friends, or a thousand other day-to-day activities. I would feel incompetent, diminished. I still cop the occasional evil eye or condescending compliment when out pushing the pram, but frankly I don't give a shit. I'm not a novelty act and I'm certainly not doing anything exceptional. I'm just pushing my kid around in her pram, trying to keep her safe and happy, maybe singing her a song. If I had two X chromosomes most people wouldn't even notice.


Speaking of dads, last week my local library honoured Father's Day with a display entitled "Dads in Fiction". Nice gesture, except most of the dads in most of the fiction were from the arsehole end of the fatherhood spectrum. Moran from Amongst Women and Frank's father from The Wasp Factory certainly count as "dads in fiction", but they are somewhat less than the Father's Day ideal.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I am trying to cut down my intake of alcohol, chocolate and Sopranos episodes before I turn into an overweight lush who uses the word "douchebag" as a term of endearment. Regular employment continues to elude me, maybe my resume smells? I'm still trying to figure out what (if anything) to do with Twitter - all the "hilarious" one-liners I come up with are over 140 characters and as for general observations about the world in which we live, well, I haven't had a decent one of those in years. There is a paperback copy of Anna Karenina (Oprah-approved Pevear/Volokhonsky translation) next to my bed, a bookmark lodged between pages 346 and 347, marking the exact point at which I got fed up with Levin banging on about farming techniques. Last Saturday I read And Then There Were None, which for some reason we read in Year 7 English, and which precipitated in me a minor Christie obsession. I was amazed at how well I remembered the book, right down to Christie's extensive use of zoomorphic simile, eg. "wolfish" Philip Lombard, "reptilian" Justice Wargrave, etc. Watched half of Spartacus t'other night; still not convinced of Kubrick's "genius" but did enjoy this line from a review by Anne Grayson, quoted in Halliwell's: "Everything is depicted with a lack of imagination that is truly Marxian." There is a lot of truth in this post about the despair (sometimes) engendered by blogging and other user-generated media, eg. "What makes you feel less bored soon makes you into an addict. What makes you feel less vulnerable can easily turn you into a dick. And the things that are meant to make you feel more connected today often turn out to be insubstantial time sinks — empty, programmatic encouragements to groom and refine your personality while sitting alone at a screen." The Go-Betweens doco on Saturday night was a rare watchable example of the form: actually informative, unpretentious, celebratory but not uncritically so, and with a minimum of ex-hippies turning recording studio knobs with nicotine-stained hands. That'll do for now, despair setting in.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Stuff White Supremacists Like

White power.

Carrot stick fasces.

Puppies, especially white ones.