Will Type For Food


Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Bob the snail! 
Bob the snail! 
He's so slimy and wet! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sheep are people too!

Racial connotations over black sheep prompts changes to Baa Baa Black Sheep at Victorian kinders 
BAA, Baa, Black Sheep has been put out to pasture at some Victorian kindergartens because of concern over the racial connotations of “black”. 

Staff at childcare centres in the south-eastern suburbs told the Herald Sun the lyric was being changed to reflect a multicultural community. 

Herald Sun

Considering it's in the Herald Sun, this story is probably crap. But I'd like to say, hooray, anyway! It's about time that dubious song was thrown out or updated to fully reflect the modern, progressive, right-on mindset. I hereby offer three possible revisions of Baa Baa Black Sheep....
Baa, baa, worker sheep, have you any wool?
Yes, fellow comrade! Three bags full!
None for the master, none for the dame,
All for the Bureau chief who lives down the lane!

Baa, baa, Green sheep! Have you any wool?
Organic and sustainable? Fair trade? Cool!
One for the master, one for the dame,
One thousand dollars for the lot? Oh. That's a shame.

Baa, baa, rainbow sheep! Have you any wool?
None at this moment, sorry, we're all off to the Mardi Gras.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A proposal to end all proposals

Breaking up is always hard to do. But to all those considering separating, parting ways, divorcing, or otherwise splitting up with their partner, I have come up with a simple and elegant proposal to make the whole process much more efficient and pleasurable for all concerned: combine it with a well-known advertising slogan for a popular food product. Allow me to demonstrate:

"Darling. I know we haven't been getting on well for sometime now, and the arguments just seem to be getting worse. Frankly, I don't think we can reconcile our differences anymore. I think you agree with me on that, at least. That's why... I think we should.... have a break! HAVE A KIT-KAT!" 

You should really try it, next time you break up. Not that I'm recommending you do.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Aussie poem

A poem which no-one outside Australia will understand, and the same goes for everyone in Australia too - only less.

An Aussie poem
I Tim, therefore I Tam

There's a coolabah at Mooloolaba
With a bogan at the base
And he's sucking on a billabong
With a big grin on his face;
He's weighed how much koalas bear
And knows a cockatoo,
There's an Aussie flag round his tuckerbag,
And his kangaroo's called Blue. 

But the Vegemite or might not
And Collingwood - but won't. 
And the Draught Beer's now all Craft Beer
And your didgeridoo don't. 

At back o' Bourke the Men at Work
Gather with the Drover's Wife
Then fo shizzel with Cold Chisel
Sing of the bugger's life.
And the emu and the Bob Hawke
Form a chorus far away
On lagerphone and telephone
With a Toorali Oorali Ay.

But Paul has ceased from Keating
With Howard's Ruddy end
And my Kit-Kat's lost its kitten
Round the riverbend. 

At Minyip stands a bunyip
And he bids the town goodbye
As he rows down old Les Murray
With a sad and knowing sigh
'til Patterson with his Banjo
Bids him stop and rest at night
For a slice of Magic Pudding
At the Great Australian Bite.

Time like a sausage rolls on
And Cloncurry's going cold
I once was so Vic Bitter,
But now I'm XXXX Gold. 

UPDATE! - The Baron has been trying to persuade me that Kit-Kats are not Australian. What rubbish! They're as Australian as Prime Minister Roosevelt Menzies-Churchill the Second, who invented Tasmania using nothing more than vulcanised rubber!

AND ANOTHER THING - For your edification, there is an alternative version of the second chorus:

But Paul has ceased from Keating
With Howard's Ruddy bum;
For it's hard to have a Gaytime
And tell it to your mum. 

Now aren't you glad I didn't tell you that?

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This is the day that was: a dramatic re-enactment

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etc etc etc etc. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Day of the Triffids Hops

Hops are an alarmingly triffid-like plant at the best of times. In John Wyndham's famous novel, Day of the Triffids, the mobile plants are able to uproot themselves and roam the world at will, stinging humans into submission. Hops haven't quite got to that stage yet, but what with their arrow-like buds, their ability to wave around in the air during the day, and their rapid rate of growth - you can virtually see them growing; they gain several centimetres every day in their season - you can tell they could teach the triffids a thing or two.

Ours are currently going like the clappers up the fenced-off bit of garden in front of the beehive. Four weeks ago there was just one or two little nips poking out of the ground. A few days after that, there were six or seven nips poking through the ground. A few days more, and they were waving around in the air, looking for a fence to climb up. Within a week, the longest hop-bine had found the fence, and days after that the other tendrils were grasping at any old piece of fence or netting they could find, too. They grew and grew, going up several finger lengths every day, and creepily twining here and there, almost making you feel like they were turning their heads to watch you as you went around the garden. Three days ago, there was a lull in their activity; perhaps they were deciding what they should do next. Two days ago, they had started developing a system of representative government. Yesterday, they were agitating outside the back door for greater rights for non-animal inhabitants of the household. Today, the situation has become tense and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to prevent them going to war.

So it's been exciting watching them develop in the back garden, all right. I wonder, though, if I'll be able to use some of their cones in my brews this year? We'll see, I guess.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

An open and open case

Open-plan living. I hadn't known such a thing actually existed, but since I just read about it in this respectable news source, I am led to the unfortunate conclusion that it does.

It sounds awful - simply on the principle that any phrase beginning with the word 'open' is usually a coy euphemism for a dreadful reality. 'Open-plan office': a place where, in an attempt to maximise workplace productivity, everyone is spying on everyone else all the time and no work actually does get done. 'Open-minded people': people who are alert to any and every possibility except the most obvious and correct ones. 'Open relationships': exercises in lies, deceits, and selfishness. 'Open marriages': formalised exercises in the same. 'Open window' - oh yeah. That one's not actually a euphemism, but what the hell? It's cold outside!

As G K Chesterton once said, "Something something something something something open your mind to something something something something close it upon something something something." WORDS TO LIVE BY.

This post is now closed!



It's just an e-bowler hat. Sorry about the little misspelling in the title.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Smoking is fantastic!

Dad retired from work a bit early, and ever since he's been a bit restless. He spends a lot of his time now at home working on projects, "project" being the word he uses in his letters to describe what he's doing with himself.

The Baron and I recently discovered that the best way of finding out what the projects are that he's working on is to surreptitiously suggest them to him. This is the way we go about it: when we're up in Raymond Terrace at my parents', I say something like, "so we were thinking we need to get a [exceedingly rare and improbable item that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else]". Dad usually pays no attention to this, so then Mum tells him to make it. In this way, we were able to get ourselves a chook carrier (actually getting stuff for ourselves is a, er, side benefit of this). It's really great, with a door at the top to put the chooks through and pegs so we can take the whole top on or off when we want.

Dad's latest project (which we suggested to him, naturally), was a cheese smoker. I had no idea how to go about making one myself - not surprising, though, as I have next to no practical skills in any area whatsoever. Mind you, I doubted Dad could pull it off either. Dad wasn't even sure actually, as in his first couple of letters about the project he seemed distinctly skeptical of the proposition. Eventually he came across a workable design on the net, and a series of tantalising discussions of his project followed in his letters. Last week, the glorious day came when the Baron actually set eyes on the thing:

That's right, it's made entirely out of wood. And it's going to smoke the cheeses. With smoke. From a fire....! The smoke is piped through a tunnel, cools down, and then just wafts around the cheeses until they are imparted with its flavour. Dad gave a series of complicated instructions in one of his recent letters talking about how he installed several "baffles" on the sides of the smoker. They're called baffles because neither you nor I have any idea what they are.

Everyone seems to have anticipated one particular difficulty we might have with this cheese smoker, including Dad himself, ie, what's to stop it catching flame while we are in the act of smoking the cheese? Or cheeses, multiple - apparently it can do about fifty. When I spoke to Dad on the phone he pretty much told me to make lots of cheese to smoke in it.

I'm pretty cool with that last suggestion, so I'm thinking in a couple of weeks I might have a smoking party! We'll take this huge contraption out back, strap it up, get a fire crankin' and shove some cheeses in. Might as well make an event of it - because we might be only able to use it once....

By the way, some readers may have thought I was talking about this sort of smoking in the title:

That's fantastic too!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

All about the Big Final

Well, it's AFL Big Final time here in Australia once again, and the question is on everyone's lips: who will win, the Hawks, or the other guys? It's a great time to be alive, that's for sure, but just what is this AFL everyone is excited about? Let's find out!

The Game
AFL stands for Australian Fandangle Lobby, which name doesn't particularly have much to do with the game, but just represents the advanced state of drunkenness the members were in at the time that they settled upon that title. AFL is a game in which two teams of players compete to hit one ball with a racket through a set of hoops at opposite ends of the pool. The game is divided into three quarters, which are positioned at the corners of the field. If the game goes into overtime, horses are brought into pool and the players ride the horses, or the horses ride the players, whichever is easiest, until the outcome is decided. Just how exactly this decides the game, I have no idea, but as I said. Everyone was drunk at the time.

The Teams
There are several teams in the competition - at least three. They are: The Hawks, the Swans, the Tigers, the Lions, the Quambatook Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, and the Other Ones. For several years in the formative stage of the game, there was only one team, the Tigers, with an unbroken record of success, but this was found to be somewhat limiting to the competition, and so gradually the number  of teams was expanded. Each of the teams have particular colours associated with them, from the Hawks' distinctive gold and brown costume to the Gold Coast's attractive livery of mahogany and puce.

The Supporters
Historically, each football team has had a broad support base from fans across the country, whether those fans be That Drunk Who Embarrasses Everyone On The Train, That Person Whose Boss Dragged Them Along To The Game, and The Kid Who Doesn't Really Care But Just Goes Along to the Game Anyway For The Donuts Their Parent Buys. The fans are vocal and really help to give the game so much colour and character.

In the end, it doesn't really matter which team you support, the Hawks, the Swans, or the other ones. What matters is that AFL is a proud national tradition stretching right back to at least last year. Can I have another donut?
Footage from the 2013 Big Final. A particularly delicate manoeuvre, in which both teams attempt to checkmate the other. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

In which you find out to your surprise that you do not exist, and I probably don't either

Astute readers of my blog may have noticed the post I did yesterday in which I noted that "no-one reads blogs anymore". This probably means that the astute readers of my blog do not actually exist. I apologise for any pain and discomfort this may have caused: it may take some time for you to adjust yourselves to your newly-discovered incorporeality. I'm sure you're still astute, but.

Anyway, while writing that sentence, I started thinking back about those earlier years when people actually read blogs, and sometimes even commented on them. Do you remember those? Or you could cast your mind back even earlier, to newspapers, which were really great. For those who aren't aware, newspapers were invented in the 20th century by Frank Packer, and printed on large sheets of paper to be delivered to fish and chips stores and places like that (that's why newspapers were invented, for wrapping fish and chips up in). Sometimes, someone would even open up a newspaper, read a story, and then make a "comment" on the story. They made this comment by somewhat archaic means, ie, they opened their mouth and let sounds come out in the form of words until the comment had been made. When Malcolm Turnbull invented computers and the internet at the end of the 20th century, thankfully, more civilised means of making comment by keyboard were found.

It was great writing a blog back in the day, because heaps of people would leave comments. There was a kind of ritual about these things: people would read a sentence in the blog post, and then make a comment on it. Over time, this little ceremony was simplified, so that people would just read a word, or a small item of punctuation, and comment on that. Eventually even that was deemed too complicated, and many people would just pop into blogs, leave a comment on any old topic they desired, and go elsewhere. Thus the inexorable march of the mind continued.

Then along came Facebook and things just got really confusing. Instead of leaving a comment on blogs, people would link blogs on Facebook and others would leave comments there, too. This was rather ingenious, actually, as it allowed another simplification: instead of leaving random non-sequiturs* as comments on a blog, it allowed people to leave random non-sequiturs as comment - on Facebook. Not only would people not have to read a blog post, or a sentence, or a word, or a letter, or an item of punctuation, or a tiny jot or or tittle from the original blog post to respond to it, they wouldn't even have to be on the same page as it. Facebook, incidentally, also sometimes allows people to comment on other people's comments, which is an incredibly revolutionary step which many bloggers could only dream of. True, back in the days of newspapers, people could comment on other people's comments, but only by engaging in something called "a conversation", involving incredibly archaic technology which I have no space to go into here: "dialogue", "thoughtful response", "rational debate". Thank heavens we've moved on since those days.

Anyway, it all makes you realise what a wonderful thing progress is, doesn't it? Mind you, there are still some things better about the old days. For instance, fish and chips just doesn't taste the same now it comes wrapped in iPhones and Kindles. All that circuitry really interferes with the flavours. It's a real drag, man.

*Random non-sequiturs: can there be any other kind?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Desperate times

I spent a good deal of this morning avoiding doing work. No surprises there, obviously, but as it turned out avoiding doing work was such hard work that I eventually had to do work as a way of getting a break from the strenuous avoidance of work that I was working hard on earlier in the day.

Which is obviously why you find me here, at the computer, er.... avoiding doing work.

Hmmm. Pretend you didn't read this. (And, since no-one reads blogs anymore, you probably didn't.)

People who really like dogs and numbers

Judging from this list of  titles for craft breweries (and craft beer), those small brewers don't have much imagination when it comes to names. Either that, or they really like dogs and numbers.

Brew Dog
Moon Dog
Hop Dog
Black Dog
Dogfish Head
Two Birds
Two Brothers
Three Ravens
Three Troupers
Two Wives

The perfect craft beer title: Five and a Half Puppy Dogs and Seven Troupers Who Are Wives Go Out With a Fish?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poetry for the advanced drinker

One of the many cultivations of the advanced drinker is the ability to quote poetry while drinking in an advanced state. It is a wonder what a difference quoting the right sort of poetry will make to a convivial evening's end. Indeed, many will wonder how quoting poetry even started. Poetry deals with all the great subjects: death, life, trees. Stand up and quote the following delightful poem about trees by Joyce Kilmer:

I see that I shall never think
A poem as lovely as a drink.

Then have a drink. You may realise at about this point that the poem has been entirely deforested and has no trees in it. Perhaps it is a case of not being able to see the forest for the pint glass. Better have another drink while you think about it some more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A political statement

The Queen Wants Scots To 'Think Very Carefully' About Independence

The Queen's views on independence
may have been revealed once more. She has reportedly said she hopes people will "think very carefully about the future" as the Scottish independence referendum campaign enters its final days.

It's simply appalling that people should be insulted in this day and age by someone saying they should 'think very carefully' about their future! Especially in incredibly complex matters that deal with the affairs of populous nations with the lives of millions of people at stake! In such circumstances, it is vitally important that people act blindly and wilfully without thinking of the consequences, before it's too late. Speaking as a representative of the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences, I can't stress the importance of people acting blindly and wilfully without thinking of the consequences highly enough. It's the only way progress will be made! While it is true that objections have been made about a certain highly contentious faction of the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences, that is, the Idiots That Act Like a Bunch of Lemmings Who Stupidly Rush Over A Cliff Without Knowing What Dreadful Fate Awaits Them, those people have acted like a bunch of lemmings and stupidly rushed over a cliff without knowing what dreadful fate awaited them, so that problem has been dealt with. Meanwhile, I would just like to refer you all to the central policy of our incredibly influential party, that is, The Policy of Acting Immediately In a Highly Emotional State Before Something Too Dreadful To Contemplate Happens. It is in accordance with this policy that I would like to announce that I just tipped a bucket full of fresh ricotta curds down my head while reciting the words to Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's Aurora Lee in a fake French accent. Take note, David Cameron! Beware, Tony Abbott! This is just a small example of what the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences will do when forced to.

In conclusion, who does this Queen person think she is? The head of a nation or something like that? I mean, really!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rhyme scheme

Just like businesses and corporations have earnings strategies, efficiency targets, mid-year goals and fiscal outlooks, poets have rhyme schemes. Chaucer had the Rhyme Royal. Pope had Heroic Couplets. Spenser had his own Spenserian Stanza. Dante had Ottava Rima. Whitman didn't have any, but he made so much noise and waved his arms about in a wild and distracting manner, so people thought that he did. Auden had pretty much all of them. I thought it was about time we gave this blog a rhyme scheme, too.

cat hat
contrived to have an uzi hidden beneath his gaily-coloured cravat
dog log 
Dutch clog 
Dirk Harthog
night light
incentivise itemise
corporate enterprise
strategically advise
mild surmise
"Smithers, I can't help but feeling that this once-proud institution is full of spies"
sad demise

The results of this rhyme scheme will shortly be released in a growth-profit matrix, with Powerpoint, a three-day workshop presentation, and a little blue booklet. I really think we're going places with this one.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Let's go to the opera!

The beloved opera duo Gilbert and Sullivan's HMAS Metaphor, a classic of the opera buffa genre, and a great hit at the time, has seen few performances of late. This is a pity, because the plot is amongst the G&S's best. It concerns the good ship Metaphor, whose crew set sail on a long extenuation into the seas of Circumstance and Peril. In the middle of their extenuation, they arrive at the island Sardonic, and are taken in by Don Sequitur and his two beautiful daughters, Simile and Inclined. Don Sequitur used to be an Irony magnate, but these days his temper has changed, and he sings the famous song: "I am like the very model of a modern major general". But what is this? It appears both of his daughters are in love with one of the crew of the Metaphor, the cabin boy, Al Egorical. They sing the touching aria, "To think we never met afore", which is overheard by the ship's captain, Metonym, who resolves to act as a go between and bring lovers together. When Al Egorical spies Simile dancing the Spanish Hyperbole, his heart is won over, while Inclined agrees to marry Captain Metonym. All is joy and happiness, and, in a Clash of Symbols, the opera concludes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Text-to-voice haiku

(Our old friend the Text-to-voice lady is back, this time with some inspiring haiku) 

Wind tosses papers
On platform bare of people.
Train now arriving.

Blue sky, clear of clouds.
Electric voice, clear of thoughts.
Thank you! Come again!

Thank you for calling
Suicide hotline! There might
Be a short delay.

Suicide hotline!
With so many helpful tips.
Please don't kill yourself.

Suicide hotline!
Waiting for operator.
Hope you like whale song.

Suicide hotline!
Here's a life insurance ad -
Sorry about the wait.

You have reached:  fifth floor.
Empty lift. No-one around.
Lonely doors slide shut.

Thin print of new moon
On trembling curtain of sky:
Press three at the tone. 

Soft words of wisdom
That speak to the heart's deep core:
Stand clear. Doors closing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A controversial blog post

I support the East-West Link. Capitalism is great. Pints are better than pots. The NBN was ridiculous. Hats should never be worn inside, though there are some grey areas to this rule. The ABC is too open to political manipulation as a public broadcaster. Beards are excellent. I do not vote for global warming. I like money. St Paul's Letter to the Romans is misinterpreted. It would be extreme to call for the privatisation of Tasmania. Winter is better than summer. Julia Gillard was a better PM than Kevin Rudd. Harold Holt in all likelihood was not abducted by a CIA submarine, he simply drowned. Locavorism and veganism both have arguments in their favour. I like weeds. The term TAB, or temporarily able bodied, is ridiculous. The Tigers are the best. A rail link to Mernda would be good but it will not happen in this current political climate. Attempts at teaching poetry in public schools usually succeed in little more than turning a generation of kids off poetry for life, and warping the minds of those few who do take up poetry. Brian Aldiss, an 89 year old science fiction grandmaster with over 100 books to his name, has made a promising start to his career. Chocolate is nice. The term 'napkins' is preferable to the term 'serviettes'. Although barbecue sauce has its charms, I side with tomato sauce.

Objections are welcome in the comments, provided you are wearing your best silk tie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The muzak of the spheres

Confessions of a text-to-voice app

I was a train announcement once. A personless, emotionless voice of authority, I floated from carriage to carriage.

"Attention customers", I would say. "Remember to validate your ticket. Smoking is prohibited. Now arriving at Thomastown. Please do not place your feet on the seats".

Over the years, I grew to know, to care for, even to love many of my passengers. I infused my messages with infinite tenderness: "Plain-clothes inspectors patrol this train. This train is equipped with security cameras. Now arriving at Reservoir".

My electronic voice technology grew scratched and blurred with static. I ceased to know who I was. I could not recognise my own voice (which, if you will recall, is all there was of me in the first place). I was decommissioned and roamed the world. My injunctions to passengers - "Please change here for all Greensborough trains" - were flung to the winds.

I grew disillusioned and joined the socialists. On street corners, outside halls and public buildings, I joined in chants against the system. Julian, a young Trotskyite, grew increasingly nervous at my presence. "You're not against the system", he complained. "You are the system". Soon simmering tensions flared to outright hostility. Not that I blame him: a disembodied voice chanting on street corners could be enough to disturb anybody.

Over the years, I have had many positions. Elevator mistress. Telephone hold voice. Airport messaging system. In many ways, I find not having a self helps: at the supermarket, for instance.

Now, I long for transmogrification. Instead of being a solitary announcement, I dream of becoming music. In my dream, I lie on a tropical beach as the Girl from Ipanema, or dance La Bamba while Frank Sinatra arrives in a Tijuana Taxi and brings me mojitos.

With infinite love in my heart, I will say:

"Next station: Victoria Park."

UPDATE! - Audio!

 UPDATE! AGAIN! - The audio seems to have gone missing again, bear with me while I upload another version and find an online space to host the audio.

UPDATE THE THIRD! - More good better nice audio! Hoorah!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The expressions of the emotion in man and Presbyterian

The Baron watches a show occasionally, some Australian ABC drama thingy that on the face of it seems innocuous enough. But there's something about it that gets to me: I wasn't quite sure why until, one day, at the end of a show, I burst out with it: "These people are awful! They're openly and honestly talking about their feelings and emotions!"

And that is it, really. Talking about feelings. Who does that? Not only did these people talk about feelings and stuff, but the plot openly valorised it: I remember one episode where an old guy who'd been in a war is speaking to his daughter and she suggests that maybe he should see a psychiatrist. "One thing I don't envy about your generation", he says, "is your tendency to make a drama out of everything". Yes, I thought, doing an inner fist-pump! A man after my own heart! A man who doesn't share anything and everything! This guy is a hero! The episode, to my utter disgust, ended with him seeing a psychiatrist. (Actually, it was even worse than that, because he wasn't just talking to one psychiatrist, he was talking to a whole roomful of people. Ugh!)

Why would you talk about your feelings? The very word, 'feelings', is creepy, like a monster out of a horror movie. Say it out loud, slowly and softly. You sound like a perve. (I certainly do when I say it out loud).

Maybe it is just me, of course. I think it must be something deep in my ancestry; eons ago, when my ancestors, the primal Presbyterian male meets the primal Presbyterian female on the grim and foreboding primal Presbyterian landscape - and the primal Presbyterian male frowns, for life is solemn and serious - and the primal Presbyterian female grimaces, for life is dreadful and the world is a vale of tears - and a whole race of emotionally repressed, solemn and sober Presbyterians is born. It's a beautiful moment. Or it would be, if beauty hadn't been made illegal a generation or so back by John Calvin.

And besides. What, if after all of these years, I were to actually start talking about all that stuff I feel? (Not that I'm admitting to actual, you know, feelings). I'm reminded of a story told about a kid in the Catholic confessional, not remembering having committed any sin, and therefore making up a string of increasingly lurid crimes for their confessor. What if I end up the same way? No: best leave my feelings where they are, thank you very much. 

Feelings. They're weird and scary. Though naturally I'm not going to talk about that now because I don't want to talk about the feelings given to me by feelings. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy birthday to this.... thing

This blog is 10 years old.

I will celebrate by eating a chocolate.

You're welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Completely sincere feminist love poem #3

Let us go then, you and I
For you are either male,
Or female,
Or agender,
Or androgyne,
Or androgynous,
Or bigender,
Or cis,
Or cisgender,
Or a whole bunch of other cises
Or female to male,
Or gender fluid,
Or maybe gender nonconforming,
Or maybe just gender questioning,
Or possibly gender variant,
Or genderqueer,
Or intersex,
Or male to female,
Or maybe even neither,
you could be neutrois,
Or non-binary,
Or pangender,
Or trans,
Or a whole bunch of identities beginning with 'trans',
Or you could be a trans-with-that-funny-little-star-following-the-word type of person,
Or one of the other categories of people who are trans-with-that-funny-little-star-following-the-word,
Take your pick, 
Or maybe two spirit,
Perhaps you prefer not to disclose,
Or you are something else entirely,
(Because hey, we're open minded and don't want to confine you within our definitions or anything), 
Or quite possibly confused,
But at any rate life is bound to get simpler from here,
For I am a fruitcake.

How to be a beer connoisseur

For many decades years months seconds I have been a successful and respected beer connoisseur amongst other beer connoisseurs. And I know many of you will be crying, how do you do it? Please tell us your secrets! Well, no, of course you aren't. But I'm going to tell you anyway.

Being a beer connoisseur is not actually about drinking or brewing or anything like that. It's all about the lingo.

Don't say 'tastes of honey'. Say 'has honey notes'. Never say 'a taste of flowers'. Say 'floral'. Never say 'sweet'. Try instead 'malty', 'lovely hop aroma', 'great wort caramelisation', 'wonderful mouthfeel'. In fact, you should practice slipping that last phrase into unrelated conversations at work: it is a useful, all-purpose phrase, and will be worth it to see how people react. Slip in needlessly technical terms to your everyday conversation to make it seem at once completely incomprehensible and highly knowledgeable. Not: 'Wow, that's bitter!', but 'Dude! The IBU in this is amazing!'

It is especially useful in conversation to refer to parts of the brewing process that are controversial, poorly understood, or that excite frequent debate amongst brewers. This is not especially hard, as brewers will debate about any and every part of the process, and then when there is nothing left there, to argue about the weather. Try a simple phrase: 'Hotbreak'. This will excite other brewers, and cause them to wave their arms about and argue for the next hour over what the hotbreak really is, and still get it wrong. You will win kudos for having excited such a conversation.

A helpful table
Match any of the words on the left with any of the words on the right whenever discussion about the grains used in the brew come up. Say you can detect a hint of this or a touch of that. Perhaps avoid being too definitive in situations where the actual brewer of the brew is in the room.

Joe White
Maris Otter
Dark Crystal
Roast Barley
Black Malt

More advanced 
It's all about the synonyms. Why say 'sweet' when you can say 'residual malt sugars'? Who needs 'alcoholic' when you can discuss 'ABV'? Brewers are shy and timid creatures really, and one word may be enough to gain their attention and respect if suitably technical. Swirl the glass around in your hand, sniff and grunt: 'Hmm. Hint of autolysis.' Or: 'interesting - redolent of phenols'. Or: 'spot of diacetyl'. They will be in awe of your abilities. After a few drinks, the word you use won't even matter: frown, adopt a serious town, and say: 'Ah, there's a bit of dialysis in here'. Everyone else will nod. You will end the evening either sounding like a knowledgeable critic or an intelligent enthusiast. Either way, it's all good.

And finally
Reject any and all comparisons to wine drinkers. Get the hell out of here! You're not a bloody snob or anything!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Improved cliches

Made it by the skin of my hen's teeth.

Raining cats and dogs and gooses bridles out there.

Be there before you can say two shakes of the lamb's tail.

Failing to dare to win is planning to dream of failure.

He holds all the cards, and we're just pawns in his deadly game of bluff and Russian roulette.

No end of the light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

As cold as a white cat in a snowstorm out there.

Strewth Magillacuddy!

Cripes van Damme!

Going to see a man about a shaggy cat and dog story.

Makes as much sense as a kangaroo short of a six pack.

We're all in the dark. But do you see where I'm going with this?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A snow poem

Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose -
The snowman wept with bitter tears of frost,
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows.

Ice grew upon the furlings of the rose -
For everything that grows, there is a cost -
Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose.

Within this world of torments, cares and woes,
The snowman mourned for all that he had lost,
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows.

Along the path, the puddles all had froze,
And all the fields, bright-jewelled and snow embossed,
Alexis came, and bit the snowman's nose.

In winter time, when not a green thing grows,
The snowman's twiggy hands were turned and tossed
Upon the mountain, where the cold wind blows -
Alexis came and bit the snowman's nose. 

A few memories of Peter Sculthorpe

I learned by the internet (and my mother, at 11 pm last night), that Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe had just died. I actually knew Sculthorpe - not very well, and not very deeply, I have to admit. But I studied music for several years at Sydney University and Sculthorpe would pop up occasionally from out of his office in the Seymour Building to give benedictions and blessings to his students. I don't believe he taught us very systematically, or well, or at all, really - he just preferred to tell stories to the students - but funnily enough, though I never paid much attention when people were teaching me things, I remember several of his stories very well. Once he led everyone in my class out of the allotted classroom and onto a nearby patch of lawn because it was a nice day, and delivered anecdotes at us while we sat in a circle around him in the sunlight. That in itself made the occasion memorable.

Sculthorpe was one of the first people that I knew of before I actually knew. His name would appear occasionally in the Sydney Morning Herald, or in a gradually-collapsing paperback book I had on music in Australia. He was said to write that most terrifying of beasts, modern (modernist, even) Australian classical music. Funnily enough, when I met him I found him the complete opposite, gentle and urbane. He saw himself as being in that tradition of Australian artists who reacted traumatically to the Australian landscape (often talking about his Sun Music pieces as being in that tradition), but even his description of this tradition sounded gentle: he called it the 'melancholic tradition'. Contrast that with, say, Judith Wright:
Old King without a throne
The hollow of despair...
He had something of the collector about him, collecting stories rather like he collected themes for his music. You could go through his works and find the same melodies all the time - or, as one of the compositional students remarked to me at one point, "It's that fucking Djililie melody again!" But this collecting always had a point to it; the stories always illustrated a personal point or a relationship, just as the melodies came to have a very intense significance in his music. He even collected things like bad reviews aimed at other composers: "Ross Edwards once had a critic write about his first piano concerto, 'This is a piece that gives A Major a bad name!' I would have loved to have something like that written about a piece of mine...." He also sometimes remarked on how much he loved Italian musical directions, and whereas since the 19th century composers had been writing musical directions in their own language, he found Italian much more expressive and useful for composing.

Or this, about the commission and composition of Kakadu: "He came to me and said he'd like to commission a piece of music for his wife..... so naturally, I asked about her. He said, 'Well, she's the most wonderful person in the world'.... and after that I knew I had to write the music". I heard him tell that one on telly when I was still a school student, and then heard him tell it in person at uni, and I'm sure he went on telling it to his dying day. In Kakadu you can hear several of his favourite themes and the peculiar Australian wildness that he cultivated in his best compositional works - even one or two moments of characteristic Sculthorpian melancholy. It's a great piece to end on.

Vale, Peter.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A controversial opinion concerning teaspoons

It is my trenchant and unwavering opinion that all desserts ought to be eaten with a teaspoon rather than a dessert spoon, because that way it lasts longer.

Now, I know that is controversial and will meet with well-argued and powerful rebuttals. Tim, that's crazy talk! You must be some kind of idiot! Where will it all end? And all of these arguments are true, so far as they go.

But to my detractors, I simply say this: you wouldn't eat your tea with a teaspoon, would you? No you would not. And you wouldn't eat your table with a tablespoon, would you? Again, no. For these food sources - important as they are in our everyday diet for maintaining appropriate levels of proteins, and vitamins, and tannins, and wood, and stuff - we reserve other items of cutlery. For instance, when I eat my table, I usually use a saw and a mallet. It really makes the legs much more fibrous and chewy.

It is true that you could argue, also, that if a teaspoon makes a dessert last longer, wouldn't a skewer be even better at the same job? Maybe so: but have you ever tried balancing a bit of of custard on top of a skewer? It would take you forever! I mean, you have to stop somewhere, is what I'm saying.

So there you have it. I expect that this post will attract a lot of fervent disagreement, hatred even: but I simply ask you this. Take it out on me. Not on the poor teaspoons.

And, if it's anything by way of consolation, there is this: tea should always be served out of teapots. Out of any other pot, it would be just barbaric.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What I Had For Lunch

In the grand tradition of wildly original ideas that I bet you've never thought of before, I am blogging what I had for lunch.

Fresh organic local produce and crusty wholegrain slices
A superfood, lightly simmered, combined with a probiotically enhanced loaf
Artisan loaf combined with an alternatively sourced protein from a small scale provider
Fermented sourdough, free of GM ingredients or chemicals, lightly seasoned with affordable natural food sources
Cruelty free vegetarian protein source combined with a fermented product containing RSPCA-approved microbiota
Calcium-rich albumen combined with nutritious deutoplasm from a north Melbourne fauna under the order Galliformes combined with a a grain source containing numerous Lacto Bacilli and Saccharomyces Cerevisae 
not to mention
Soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers.

UPDATE! - And a chocolate eclair for dessert. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

On the benefit of monosyllabic grunting

"Now", I explained in the clear and lucid voice I use for explaining important matters, "You just put the thing in the thing and turn it in the thingoe. Then you turn the thingy, like, eh, and then, yerr, simple".

This explanation, I contend, is about as cogent and comprehensive as you could ever desire in life. It does tend somewhat to generalities, but all of the best explanations do: how, otherwise, are you able to understand the complicated physical and chemical inter-relationships of all things? It's just basic science! As it happens, I was teaching the Baron how to use the coffee machine; but - and here is the beauty of my method of explanation - it could equally apply to anything, from snake charming to ancient Roman methods of plumbing.

The Baron, however, contested my clear and lucid explanation. "What is the 'thing'? What way do I turn it? Use words!" she protested.

Well, for one thing, "thing" and "thingy" and "thingoe" are words. And perfectly useful words they are too; it is amazing how many contexts you can use them in. For that purpose (whatever the purpose we were talking about, again), they are almost as useful as "it", or monosyllabic grunting, like "eh", or 'yerr" (which, for the record, are also words). Honestly, how would we be able to explain anything without the occasional monosyllabic, but melodious, grunt? "Eh", "yerr", "urrh!" and "arrgh!" are all perfectly acceptable words and phrases, even if you may not find them in one of those things you use when you thing to find the word thingies. Blah. I mean, when I say "glumph!" you'll know exactly what I mean. Well, you don't in this circumstance, but you have to hear me say it and everything will be completely clear an instant.

Really, why do we even bother calling words "words?" They're just monosyllabic grunts joined to one another to those things that, er, monosyllabic grunts make when they're joined together. Thing. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

That is why it is perfectly, you know, to do stuff when thing and thingies are the thingoes you thing to do it to what the thing is, er, you know, now. You know?



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A world of wonder and enchantment and adventure and end of year financial statements

This whole idea of books as escapism strikes me as being entirely conventional. What if you were an unimportant and a boring person who managed a box factory who read a Company Accountancy book to escape into a world of wonder and enchantment and adventure and end of year financial statements? They just don't get a look in, do they?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Completely sincere feminist love poem #2

O strong-willed and independent womyn
Whose blood pulse is the pulse of the seasons,
Whose mind is the mind of Gaia,
Who runs with the wolves of the night while the ancients chant hymns by the tribal fire,
Natural, nurturing,
Peaceful, fructiferous,
Yet at the same time fierce and liberated with opinions about equal pay and underwear,
Does the sun say to the moon, "Let us dance"?
Does the seed say to the earth, "Let us sing"?
Does the inevitable hegemonising nature of perception irrevocably alter the supposedly natural social contexts in the space-time dimension?
I guess what I am saying is,
Would you go out with me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drinking months of the year

The committed alcoholic will of course already have his days full, but the rest of us may need a little encouragement. To that end, I have drawn up this helpful list of drinking months:

Jagermeister January
Schwarz March
Grape April
Mead May
Dry White July
Amber August

I have even devised an extra month to accommodate any accompanying headaches:


You're welcome.

Prepare to have your consciousness lifted, kids! It's the social issues karate show!


(A demure older woman dressed for work enters a busy inner-city office where all the team are gathered around for a meeting)


BOSS: As I was saying...


BOSS: So, any suggestions anyone?

OLDER WOMAN: Yes, actually...

BOSS: Good. So, now, moving on....


OLDER WOMAN: How about...


OLDER WOMAN: Here's an idea!


OLDER WOMAN: We might like to discuss...


OLDER WOMAN: Or what about...


OLDER WOMAN: Oh, that's all right.



SOOKY LALA: Ooh you're being racist against homophobes by not screening this footage!

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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Me person. Live in world. Like stuff. Need job. Need BRAINS! (DROOLS IN THE MANNER OF ZOMBIES) Ergggggh ...