Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Xmas FRIGHTS of Lobethal

First time ever visiting the Lights of Lobethal. We arrived early and experienced ample parking, traffic-free roads and HORROR.

Mele dropped into an Opp Shop - Hosana's (which should have been a clue). Up on a shelf among the golliwogs and handmade shoe trees were a couple of paper mache cow heads.
'Check out the cow heads,' says Mele.
'Wow,' says Charlie and I, thinking about getting an ice cream on this summer evening in the Adelaide Hills.
'Oh yes, they're from the church play,' says the shop lady, popping up from behind a rack of flowery frocks.
'Huh,' says I, smilling and picturing a couple of the more homely kids wearing them and being quietly lead up the back of the barn to look on while the Baby Cheesus is set upon by three nine-year-olds in fake beards. 

What followed was so bizarre that I regret that it will not be strictly verbatim, but I promise the gist remains.

'Yes!' beams shop lady, clearly encouraged by this toddler-toting young father and his dress-wearing wife (a fine blend of modern and traditional roles). 'It was the story of Ezra and Ezekiel in which the one true lord commanded of them to perform a blood sacrifice!'
'Oh my goodness!' I am clearly gasping at this point. 
'The story goes that the lord god bade them to take their sons of slaughter them upon the altar of divinity and they took their only children to spill their blood in the name of the most divine lord.' [It must be noted that she has not even modified her tone from the one which told us about a church play. I am scrambling for the exit at this point, trying not to knock over tumblers and tea services while covering Charlie's ears.] 'And so Ezra took the cows as well and spilled their blood for the blood sacrifice, and that's where the cows heads are from because their heads were cut off for the blood sacrifice in worship of the one true saviour Jesus Christ our lord!'
So chatty.
So scary.

In my mind, I will probably remember her as being slowly enveloped in dark smoke, bathed in a seething crimson glow as her voice deepened and echoed across eons, reverberating with the ever-writhing flesh of a billion souls consumed like so many cups of Lipton's. But she was a very normal-looking woman. The quintessential opp-shop lady, right down to the cream-coloured cardy. And that's what made it all the more terrifying.
I wanted to ask her to stop repeating the phrases 'blood-sacrifice' and 'slaughter' to my son, but I preferred (as usual) a swift exit to confrontation. 

'Don't worry, Charlie,' I said, as we trotted off towards the non-brimstone engulfed soft-serve van. 'She's just talking about people in a play.'


Monday, December 3, 2012

View from the back

I'm a proud father, so obviously I think everything my son does is great. I even let him have a go on the camera so he can take a billion pictures of the same food label. But every now and then, he comes up with something that I really admire. Maybe the good feelings are purely paternal, but who cares. I genuinely like unusual portraits that suggest things, rather than show them. He's already teaching me.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Date night in the twilight

I don't hate all of my photos. I'm warming to this one.

I'm thinking of having a stamp made

It's that magical time of year where all the assignments are marked and the grades entered into The System. People's lives advance a little closer to their next goal.
It's a spiritual occasion where people discover that those marks sometimes don't add up. They don't come out as originally planned.
The solution?
To those people I would like to say this: 

"Education is a ladder, not an escalator."

You can quote me on that. Because I said it first.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We went Xmas shopping on Friday night. No, not for ourselves, even though it was Date Night. We wanted to get a cool present for our increasingly intelligent and increasingly (as it turns out) spoiled son. This year was the year of Lego. I have completely engaged Vicarious Dad Mode and allowed Mele to buy him all sorts of complicated sets for presents (notice how I implicate her in my deeds?). Xmas this year will be the kind of Lego-soaked Xmas thousands of children can only dream of. We have gone overboard. Not to say that more Lego wouldn't be welcome under the Franzy Xmas tree. I will have an awesome collection to play with every day Charlie will get a kick out of it once Daddy has finished building it for him.

So, Mele and I took a step into the future and bought Charlie ... a dancing robot. No kidding. These things actually exist and you can hold conversations with them, they tell you jokes, dance to music, go to sleep when you tell them to and all in this trilling, autotuned little voice. The future has arrived. Our Hoverboards haven't, but our robot friends certainly have.

Speaking of toys, has anyone actually been to a department store lately? The toy department in Myer, almost exactly a month out from Xmas was like the set of some dystopian, Eastern European horror movie. 
The lighting was the first thing we noticed as we crept from the lifts. Up on the fifth floor, it seems like the caretakers don't like to hang around long enough to replace the blown track lights meant to illuminate the Thomas the Tank Engine box sets and glandular plush toys. Almost like they're ... afraid to be anywhere that vulnerable for too long.

The shelves were stocked with strange little toys in among the regular, branded items. Plastic ponies with helmets and racing car bags share space with Dora and the Octonauts. Lego was stacked on one of the few remaining well-lit shelves, but curiously most of the real estate was given over to the highly collectible, completely fun-free architecture series.
Wow! Frank Lloyd Wright! No, this is heaps better than that Star Wars stuff!

It's as though the whole place was curated by the nutter from Se7en. I kept expecting to discover an aisle with jars of other people's toenails and photos of myself sleeping behind the Disney merchandise.

The dancing robot, 2012's Toy of the Year, impossible to get online, begged for across the globe, was piled in a bargain bin right up against the precipice that looks down into the Myer Centre abyss. I did glance over my shoulder when we finally discovered them. The clicketty scrabble of intelligent, clawed feet would not have been out of place up in that lonely, eyrie. Oddly enough, it was the cheapest we'd seen the thing. Click Frenzy be damned, no online outlet or Chinese PO Box Business could match Myer Centre's Grotto of Loneliness for price!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not to say others won't be welcome ...

Darling, I'm sorry.
Let's never fight again.
I said some ... honest things. But, as my Daddy used to say: honesty about the rice ignores the glory of the curry. (Well, I'm sure he would have said that, if he'd thought of it).
I picked up my PEN for the second day in a row, inspired by grass. And I had fun.

It took eight shots to get the one I like. Plus a few of my co-workers wondering why I was shooting the verge, but who cares. Let us rekindle, PEN, my friend. Let us photograph the mundane and make it beautiful. Let us find the beautiful and make it transcend.

Here is the grass:

And I didn't even use the filter. Much.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's time for honesty

This is an open letter to my friend, Looki. Looki and I got the same camera at about the same time - the gorgeous Olympus PEN. Looki immediately went out and purchased digital photography magazines, signed up to blogs and fora and began shooting away. She has her own blog on which she just posts photos which document her increasing artistic prowess. In fact, she has two blogs, one dedicated just to tree photography!
I rely upon my semester of Year Eleven photography where I learned about f-stops and shutter speeds. 

Dear Looki,

Stop having fun, wherever you are – I need a heart-to-heart.

I have the sneaking suspicion that since I got the PEN, all my photos are turning out shit and I should never have gotten rid of the fixed-lens Panasonic. 
No, not quite true. 
The photos I take which I like, I like more than the best ones I used to take with the Panasonic. But, by and large, most of the happy-snaps I blast off are at least one sizzling flashbulb less (on the 1-to-5 sizzling flashbulb scale of photo quality I just made up) than the ones I used to do with the Panasonic.
The reasons for this lack in overall quality are basically:

1. Laziness – I’m not used to getting up and moving and finding the best spot. The 18x optical zoom on the Panasonic got me used to slouching in a chair and taking really nice distance shots with something it called “Telephoto Macro”. Yes, I thought that was an oxymoron too.

2. Lack of practice - The only time I'm practicing taking photos is when I'm, well, taking photos. Sounds silly, but instead of carrying my beautiful camera everywhere and keeping an eye out for good shots and practicing getting the lighting right, I just stow it until I go to a thing where I want to take good photos and then spend approximately half the time being at the event and the other half squinting into the screen, fiddling with settings and getting yelled at for taking too many photos of everything.

3. Lack of seriousness - The PEN rewards dedication and commitment. It's almost like it's got a built-in pedometer. But instead of counting steps, it just counts the amount of time you spend actually working on taking better photos. My favourite collection of photos were the ones I took when we went to Clare recently and I took big bunches of time roaming around, just getting it right.

4. Lack of light - I sound like I'm kidding, but this is one for the tech-heads. I was pondering the difference between the old Panasonic and the new PEN and wondering why the hell shots I used to take in restaurants and at parties were great on the old one and grainy on the new one. I Wikipedia'ed. The Panasonic had f2.8 and the kit lens on the PEN is f3.5. So where I'm pointing my fancy new camera at the same things and letting 'er rip in Auto mode, like I used to with the Panasonic, the PEN is freaking out and upping the ISO and dropping the shutter speed to compensate.

So, speaking of compensation, I am obviously setting out on the foolish path trodden by many an amateur photographer: I am going to buy my way out. This is probably sitting at around Step 12 of photographer Mike Johnston's 25-step photography course (brilliant and funny article - read! Laugh! Relevant!). So, there is still the bucks in PayPal from the sale of my Panasonic, which I always said I'd put back towards photography, rather than blowing it on Lego. But if I do go ahead and invest in a good low-light lens like the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 or the much newer (and considerably more expensive) Olympus 17mm f1.7, I give these undertakings: 

1. I will not be lazy. I will get off my arse and move around to take better photos. 
2. I will practice. I sense a lot of garden shots taken in the evenings. But that's working full-time for you.
3. I will be serious. Balls. Fart. Bum. Not that serious, but I will start carrying it around more. And posting regular photos. I will even try to turn off the Instagram filter occasionally.

Looki, I am extremely jealous of have been inspired by your photography (and your kickarse Nikkor). Tell me I'm not spending my way out! Absolve me of my greed and sloth! Did you go through this same soul-searching? Or did you just pony up for the new lens and start shooting?


ps. Should I get a Telephoto as well? And a tripod? And a bag?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

East Taste

The Challenge Is Back.

After a brief (10 month) hiatus, we are back, pounding The Gouge (a nick-name for Gouger Street I haven't discussed with Mel yet). And THIS TIME, it's serious.

It is serious for a couple of reasons:
1. The rules have changed.
2. Things are serious.
3. We're on the South Side.

The South Side of The Gouge, isn't like the North. The first thing you notice is that it attracts a certain type of person. More specifically: a wealthier type of person. Which brings us to Rule Change No. 1: No more ordering the most popular thing on the menu. 
We simply can't afford it. A quick perusal of the South Side menus has turned up a few places where a main can easily be $45. Each. 
While on the North Side, we could happily order the popular ribs, or the must-have chicken, and still not spend more than $30 between us. On the South Side, we are just one specialty-suggestion away from blowing our food budget for the month. In fact, selecting "The Gouge" as a new nickname was probably very well judged.
Nothing makes reality kick in like having no money.

I'm stealing bikes now! How are you going to pay for your meal?

Rule Change No. 2: No more ordering the weirdest thing on the menu. Paying $15 for a disgusting photo got real old. Paying $45 for the same joke is not happening. 

On with The First Contender:


In short: we have discovered a new Ying Chow. East Taste is everything Ying Chow used to be: loud, friendly, delicious food, fast service. When the waiter scolded us, shouting "Chop chop!", she wasn't telling us to pay our bill and GTFO, she was admonishing us to move our plates out of the way to make room for more food

We kicked the night off with class. A few drinks, a little driving.

Eyes on the road, Franzy ...
When we rocked up (one never simply 'arrives' in The Gouge), there was a last-minute request to add three extra people. At Ying Chow, this would have gotten us thrown out. Or at least told to wait for another 40 minutes. At East Taste, they performed a curious arithmetic that I believe looks something like this:

More customers = More $$$ = Good

And lo and behold, they squeezed more people in and immediately brought them drinks. They are business geniuses.
And brought out simultaneously. How did they think of that. 
 The food was excellent in all sorts of delicious ways that will be outlined below:

Shallot pancakes: Excellent. This shot was taken 7 seconds after the plate hit the table.

Flaming Kangaroo doused in fire: excellent. BBC (lower left corner) - like an old friend who never lets you down. Except for that one time at Ying Chow: excellent.

Hot eggplant thing in a bowl: despite the lack of meat, excellent.

Thanks everyone for your patience over the hiatus. We have been finishing PhDs and some other stuff. Normal programming will resume as of now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking

Every year, our hockey club has an annual ball. A star-studded, black-tie happening. It caps off the year and formally acknowledges the efforts of those largely unsung heroes of amateur sports. It's like the Brownlows, with a dash of style, the Oscars with actual meaning. I've even hosted a few, taking up the ebony mic for the greater good of reading out names and practicing my beatboxing.

Apart from the bottomless beer jugs, the highlight of the night is always the team write-ups which appear on every table as an almanac of the year's play. Every team submits a little entry to the club's history, giving narrative to the great Australian sporting story played out every weekend. 

For some strange reason, our team always picks me to do ours. I barely barely understand the rules of the game. Let alone who does what. My mental instruction booklet on hockey is just a flash card with the words RUN! and HIT! written on opposite sides.

With that in mind, here was my round up for the Cows hockey season of 2012:

Some might say that it’s height of arrogance to get Grand Final winning shirts made up before the great match has even been played. Some might warn against the gob-smacking hubris necessary for having those shirts emblazoned with Grand Final-winning nick names like “Dream Crusher” and “Skull Fucker”. Those same nay-saying individuals would also be of the opinion that getting a “Cows Grand Final Winners 2012” tramp-stamp at the Four Roses before the season had even started was foolish, infantile, ill-judged, big-headed and just plain stupid. 

Those people have never met our coach, one Alex “Fairy” Kay-Oswald aka “Moose Jaw” aka “Stringbean Sally”. 

This was a man who, at the first training, looked his charges in the eye and declared, not “I want to win a premiership”, but “WE ARE GOING TO WIN A PREMIERSHIP”. Then he showed us this infected-looking tat on the small of his back and assured us that the Japanese characters translated into “Wagyu Kamikaze Rising Sun Karate”. This means (obviously) “Cows Grand Final Winners 2012”. 

And win we did. 

The End. 
More details? 
First, imagine PSY joined Survivor and did a cross-over mash-up of “Gangnam Style” and “Eye of the Tiger”. That’s pretty much our theme song. We trained as though our honour was at steak (intentional spelling). No one ever complained. No one ever missed a game. No one ever missed a goal. While other teams were out there talking tactics and practising their little training drills, Alex’s Cows were doing push-ups. No-handed. (Yes, that means we can all do them with our genitals.) We did sit ups when we needed to sleep. Our diet consisted of nothing but the crushed up hockey sticks of the teams we regularly obliterated on the field. Think about that, next time you’re sipping your little protein shakes and nibbling on your little energy bars. Cows eat their vanquished foes. 

Our finals campaign was nothing short of a master class in showmanship, skill, dexterity, low-altitude aerobatic stunt flying and how to really rub your victory in the sooky faces of your opposition. In the end, it was only fitting that the medal winning goal was scored in Golden Goal extra time, on the back-stick, with the sun in Hammo’s eyes and about nineteen Brave Brown Bears ready to pounce. The ball struck the back of the net with the finality of a guillotine coming to rest on the block. But, you know, with more fireworks and that. 

The Cows did indeed win the 2012 Grand Final, and all future grand finals ad infinitum amen, such was the magnitude of our triumph. But it was not without the bittersweet tang of an ending Autumnal romance (Ash, Bailey, that reminds me, did you get those shots like the doctor said?), for this is to be Supercoach Fairy’s final year with the Cows. He is going away on Secret Business in Canberra, which he thinks we think is at some flashy, big-deal government job, but we all know that it’s to live out his dream of becoming a porn auteur; writing, directing and starring in his own line of independent adult movies. He’s got the tat. Just keep an eye out for “Fairy’s Frolics” Volumes 1 to 9 coming soon to your local outlet (which, incidentally, is the tag line). 

In short, he’s an inspiration to us all and will be missed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend round up

Sore shoulder. Persisted for some days. Went to physio. It's from leaning on one elbow for too long while devouring Cloud Atlas. You know your fightin' days are over when you get taken down by a reading injury. 
Fleshing out a repeat lecture on young adult fiction. Decided to look up some details for Catcher in the Rye. Found out that it's never been made into a movie. Had the same emotional response I did when I found out that Bil Watterson never licensed Calvin and Hobbes. It's 2-stage response that goes like this:
  1. It's wonderful that there are still some artists in the world who just want to create. Who believe in the purity of their vision, who don't want their work diluted until it's nothing more than a homeopathic representation of what they set out to achieve. 
  2. Following a brief trip to Wikipedia. Hmph. Well, it's pretty damn easy to insist on artistic integrity when you sell 45 and 65 million books respectively.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Except without the blue Camaro

Long-time readers might remember when I got excited and started posting about an old school-mate of mine who grew-up to become one of the state's most wanted criminals. Anthony John Smith, or Tony as I knew him, found fame when he ran away from the cops and hid in the sewers for three days, evading capture.
Just kidding.
He ran away from the cops and evaded capture by staying at an extremely expensive hotel in the city centre. For a month.

You can read the story in 6 parts, starting here.

The reason I'm posting again is because the comments section of the final chapter in the story has become a bit like the holiday house you forgot to lock. People got in. Interesting people. People who leave comments like:

"... the gaol workshops ... [are] a breach of the geneva convention, the poor conditions and low pay that the government capitalises on and exploits these disadvantaged people. the things they produce are then sold at an enormous profit by companies such as west coast cooler and freedom furniture."

"Brett Mcfarlane is evil to the core and needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth. I would gladly flick the switch on any electric chair.
.....and how am I qualified to make this statement ??
It was my throat he slit many years ago in Adelaide and burried me alive in the adelaide hills."

My personal favourite, arriving a few days ago was this one!
"if you hadn't had given him drugs and fucked him off he wouldnt have tryed to kill you fucking tranny."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There are dozens of people's faces with puzzled expressions

I recently bought a new lens for my fancy camera. It's the first time I've ever pretended be anything other than someone who knows which way to point a camera and what button takes a picture. Given my gloriously amateur status, I went for the cheapest plasticest lens out there: the Holga. It is literally sold as a "toy" lens. This is so I could pretend to be all grown up, swapping lens and making artistic decisions, but definitely be able to point the finger when it all went blurry.

But when it all boils down and light hits retina, it's an attachment which makes photos taken with my expensive Olympus PEN look like those taken with the first camera I ever picked up. Same era. Same tinted warmth people exactly my age get from photos of themselves as children.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

I still haven't taken it off

Here's what I did this weekend.

Yes, I am deliberately flexing for the camera.
And that's between shopping, picking up Charlie, editing a thesis and making offerings to the Gods of Hard Rubbish. I should be on a bloody Centrum ad.

It also turns out that if you're last in line to pick up the medal, you have to make the speech.

I'd like to fank me teammates. Youse are fukkin tops blokes, hay?

The more astute, long-term readers will notice that about two years ago, when I had identical news, I was wearing the black shirt belonging to Saturday's vanquished side. No, I haven't switched clubs. The slightly sad part about the game was that we had two teams in the same division who were (almost) equally as good and ended up in the final together. I've stood on that other side. It sucks. Every clap for your conquering foes (pictured above) hurts.
But, hey, whatever. You've got to know defeat to appreciate victory or some shit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Today, I am a man

Long time readers will be aware that I am a secret car person. I am largely alone in this quiet hobby. Working in and around academia for most of my life has taught me that the people I interact with regularly neither know nor care to know about cars.
No one is interested in my opinion on the new FT-86.
No one is excited to hear about the depreciation of recent model A4s.
No one wants to hear about my endless search for the perfect Parisienne in order that I may be talked out of it.

However, two days ago, I had the occasion to share my intellectual hobby. Even if briefly. I was at a crash repairers and he was showing me around his workshop and an old Holden he was restoring. His first car, a labour of love from the ground up. He whipped the cloth off the engine and I was able to correctly identify these:

I even made the proper 'whaawww' noise.

Monday, September 10, 2012

It was a wild and stormy night

Looki has started getting into trees, and I think she's hit on the next big thing.
They are certainly intreeguing.

This is what happened in our front yard two weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A dog's tale in two parts

Part 1

I stuffed up dinner on Saturday night. That's how this story starts.
We went out for takeaway and on the way home, just around the corner from our house, I thought I saw something on the road. It looked like a cat, but a last minute swerve revealed a scared little black dog cowering in the street.
I went back and picked him up. He was friendly, but a bit freaked out. I considered doing a bit of a door-knock, but a man in a hoodie knocking on doors after dark asking about a lost dog isn't going to have too much success. Locating owners, that is. Locating good joints to knock over, well, that's another blog.

So we took him home for the night. He sniffed around, had a wee outside after Charlie showed him how. Charlie was allowed to give him a name and he chose 'Dolphin Seal Man', which was shortened to 'Dolph'. Dolph happily curled up next to us and fell asleep. Not a whimper was heard all night. He got up with me in the morning and noodled around until, sadly, it was time to go daylight door knocking.

I didn't have to go far. I sort of knew which house it would be anyway. You've probably seen ones like it: overgrown yard, scabby cats and broken toys everywhere, kids sitting in the gutters and every couple of weeks it's surrounded by cops. I knocked on that door and a young woman answered.
'I found your dog.'
I set him down, expecting him to walk inside. He jumped up on me. 'Go on,' I say. 'In you go.'
'He likes you!' The woman doesn't try to pick him up.
I try again to encourage him inside. He noodles off into the garden and out the front gate, which doesn't shut.
When I finally get him back, the woman has gone back inside and shut the door. I knock a lot louder.
'Do you want your dog back?'
'Do you wanna keep him ha ha?'
'Do you?'
'I don't own him. I don't live here. I'm just lookin' after the place until the owner gets back. I've gotta take a shower and get ready for work.'
'When's the owner getting back?'
'This arvo?'
'Right, I'll bring him back then.'

At midday, I knock on the door again. No answer. I pull a (full) rubbish bin up against the gate and put the dog inside. Then I leave.

He liked our back yard.

Part 2

Three hours later, Mel bursts into my study.
'I miss Dolph.'
We both do. We've always considered a dog, but it's always been fraught with noise, mess, grass, absence. With Dolph, it just seemed right. He's small, quiet, house-trained, and in need.
But I can't just take someone's dog. I've got to go and ask.
Yesterday, I combed my hair, shined my shoes, picked a bunch of fresh daisies and went a'calling in a horse and carriage.
Just kidding, I took off my fancy-arse work shirt and walked around the corner.

A different young woman was sitting on the fence, smoking a stub and talking with another woman who appeared to have chunks shaved out of her hair and was pushing a shopping trolley half-full of junk.
'How are you going? Do you live here?'
'What? What's going on? What do you want?'
'I brought your little black dog back on the weekend.'
'Yeah, we want that dog back.'
'... Yeah, I brought him back. The woman I spoke to asked if I wanted to keep it, and I was wondering if you still wanted to give it away.'
'Nah, that dog's gone. That's our dog.'
'I'd buy it off you.'
'Give us sum munney ffruit.'
'I don't have any money on me. So, you don't have the dog?'
'Give us money for a root.'
I hung my head and went home.

We liked him too.

Maybe we'll see him on the street again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fwoooaarr ... who routed?

It's not childish if you're a big stinky bum bum.

Other potential captions included:
"Pull my ethernet cable!"
"Wireless? I wish I was Noseless!"
and the distant runner-up:
"Hey buddy! Your modem stinks!"

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What? This old thing?

'Excuse me! Excuse me!' called the woman, tapping Mele on the shoulder as we returned from the museum. 'Where did you get your coat?'
Mele told her.
'It's wonderful!' cried the lady. 'I love it!'

That lady had good taste.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I should have thrown in some fly trombones

I know we all enjoyed my attempts to hang onto the fickel caretaker audience at work But I have literally been working in the dark and carrying my own boxes since then because I was suffering from the well-documented 'Difficult 3rd Album' version of email.

I may have gone overboard on the solution:

To: Caretakers at work
From: franzy 

*please play this youtube video while reading this email*

I got to work this morning
It was real foggy on tha hill
I went into [redacted] Level 1
And I started workin’, ‘til
I noticed something dark
Real dark in room 113
The fluoro tube above the sink
Wasn’t shinin’ no light on me

Wasn’t shinin’ no light
No suh, not shinin’ no light

I’m askin’ please come fix it
It’s not real urgent, but it’s quick to do
But until then I guess I’ll have
The broken fluoro blues

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Then there's this guy

He said he was talking it home for dinner.
I believe him.
I believe everything the Rain God says.

Then there's my insatiable bloodlust, but that's not really unusual

Allow me to me sum up the last 24 hours in such a way that anyone who's into using the full moon as a catch all explanation for weirdness can instantly climb aboard:

Last night, at about 9:45pm, my studious studying was interrupted by an extremely loud alarm. It wasn't a car, it wasn't a house, but it was coming from somewhere. So, I did what any suburbanite does when they hear an unusual warning signal: I ignored it.
Until the pre-recorded voice began chanting "Emergency. Evacuate immediately. Emergency. Evacuate immediately." and so on. My first guess was 'exploding petrol stadium', but the confused lady at Sturt Police Station told me that it was probably Hindmarch Stadium and there was nothing to worry about, dear.

Cut to: this morning. Everything is going well. I've even got mostly matching socks. We execute the logistical ballet of dropping Charlie and my car off to their various care centres with Olympic finesse. Mel and I are on the work run when wwwwooooOOOOOAAAAAHHHH!!! BRRRAAAKEESSSSS!!! The car in front pulls up very short in the queue and Mel is quick on the anchors, saving our arses by mere feet. We start to congratulate one-another on such a-BAM.
We get rear-ended.
The lady behind us wasn't so spritely on the middle pedal and it's another morning bingle.
We are really shaken this time.
But before we even get a chance to get out of the car, my phone rings.
It's Mel's old school chum, inviting me to appear on a reality TV show as her 'close male friend'.
'Sure thing,' I say, even though I disapprove of reality TV. 'I've just been hit by a car, I've got to go.'
It's only as I'm typing this that I'm beginning to understand what I actually signed up for.

Coming this summer on 10, I suppose...

Also, we were in the local media, not once but twice this week. I might even reconsider going outside in future, just to avoid this sort of thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Although search history does become fuzzy

I know this isn't a Tumblr, but this is literally how my brain works.


The more of my life I spend on or around computers, the more my brain organisation resembles one. Working in a straight, dry admin job means that in order to maintain some sense of artistic life, I have to compartmentalise or I'd end up trying to actually catalogue my photos or writing over-creative emails at work.

Go to the above cartoon and take in the genius of French comic artist Boulet. He rubs shoulders with the likes of Bill Watterson and Frank Cho, in the sense that he is both a highly skilled artist, as well as being possessed of a wicked sense of humour and a daunting imagination. Do yourself a favour. Don't spend five minutes checking your email. Just go and read some Boulet.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Update: Since the comments are getting a little unexpected, please view this gif:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012


My favourite photo of 2012 is this one:

In case you can't quite see it, I will transcribe a few choice quotes. The first and most important is:

"I have no hesitation in passing this thesis at a doctoral level, with no required corrections."

And to sweeten this already delicious cake:

"I have to say that of the 15 or so HDR theses I have examined in the past five years, this would be among the top two or three in terms of both the technical standard of the creative writing, and also the cohesiveness and thoroughness of the critical arguments presented in the exegesis."

I could go on and on and on, but needless to say it was all like this. 

Mele is a bright, shining beacon of intelligence, resilience, hard-work, dedication and all-round fortitude. And this thesis proves it.

Well done and congratulations, my wonderful darling. You did it!


Getting clicky

I vaguely worry that my favourite photo on a recent trip to Melbourne was taken about an hour out of Adelaide on an unscheduled wee-break.

Actually, the above sentence is not quite accurate. My favourite photo taken on a recent trip to Melbourne wasn't even taken by me, but the admirably committed, talented Looki. I repost it here, without permission, but with a link. Go and see her photos. They is lovely.

Here is my attempt at the same sort of thing:

Similar emotion, lousy composition. I couldn't even post the one of Charlie cuddling into Dan's neck because it was blurry and boring. You might post it on Facebook. Maybe

I'm fairly certain that I take more photos than Looki, but she practices more, if that makes sense. Me, I'm still in the half-way house between the hard-living life of the happy-snapper, recording every event, finger held firmly on the shutter, and the serious amateur, who, to borrow a nice phrase from pro-photog Joe McNally, stops taking photos and starts making them. Whereas Looki actually goes out with the express purpose of taking photos, takes the photos and comes back and actually edits them. Not Photoshop, but just sorting out the good and cutting the crap. Then she bravely posts them online!
Me, I store everything. I can barely bring myself to delete any shot, ever. Hence the 140Gb or so of digital memories. Partly, it's laziness. Partly it's a nostalgic bent; every image tells me a story about the day I took it. And a small, but significant reason I don't delete photos is because I constantly imagine some Blowup-type scenario (or CSI, if you must) where my casual photography will help solve a murder.

That said, I do like some of the photos I 'made' in Melbourne. I aspire to be like Looki and post more photos, and that will start now:

I realise that I have regressed to the old art filter setting, but I think it brings out the red in the carriage.

I might have mentioned it before, but I'm a massive fan of the blurry photo. Not the fancy bokeh Looki engages in, but just straight up blurry photos. I think they can tell their own kind of story. This is my portrait of Looki the photographer, courtesy of complimentary water for the table.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That awful moment when ...

... you're reviewing a book, and you get to the bit where normally, you would just declare the whole thing tedious and toss it to one side. But, because you're reviewing it for cash and publication, you must continue to grate your eyeballs upon each and every tedious page. You must resist the urge to accidentally drop it in the fire. You must reach the final sentence and only then will you be able to state, with utmost authority, that this is a book will waste hours of precious lives that could be better spent picking the gunge from the corner of toenails.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Target goes for the sexist prick dollar

This is the command on Mel's new socks from Target.


This range was for sale alongside the new Target cooking line 'Woman Back In Kitchen' and the outdoors/picnic collection 'Woman Make Me Sandwich'.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I know I said I wouldn't

But I can't stop using the in-camera filters. 
Damn them and their Instagram, cultural-cringe, pay-for-meaning goodness. Really, it's as though we as a generation can't actually take a photo of anything that has any heart or meaning unless it looks like something our parents would have snapped.   

Baby-boom-culture-war arguments aside, it's partly because the photos we all take now are capable of revealing so, so much. 12 is the megapixel-of-thumb in 2012. Anything less and you're Facebooking from your Samsung Galaxy. Anything more and you really should have sold at least a couple of shots to Frankie. Or Nat Geo.

So now we all tread the path of the filter d'fabulos
Picture of grass? 
Stick it on cross-process and suddenly you're skipping through Halycon Fields flashing your all access pass to a time when everything that happened mattered and everything that mattered happened. Meaning rolled like bushfire across the land, scorching everything with its indelible, etherial touch. The fire is gone, but the seeds they opened will always have the flames of Polaroid and Kodachrome to thank and remember for every particle of light they capture.

Beach shot where no one's actually looking at the camera? I used 'Dramatic Tone' and suddenly everything is significant. It's no longer just a lazy blast from the hip, half an eye on the screen. It's a savage ballet of contrasts, pulling the eternal beach through the starkness of the modern world. 
You could blow this picture up to the size of a door and it's resonance wouldn't be lost.

Remove these generation-aping filters though, and you've just got an over-exposed picture of a child not looking at the camera.

At least I'm giving it a shot.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free-form emails

I used to just be able to call our work caretakers to come and move furniture, transport boxes, arrange rooms and do all the manual labour that I'm quite capable of, but don't want to because it's manual labour and someone else can do it.
Then they stopped us from just ringing them up, because apparently it got a little confusing. We had to start sending them emails.
This is my first one:

Dear Caretakers, 

Could you please deliver 2 boxes of handbooks from the [redacted] front office to SSS Rm 340 (the faculty office). 

Kind regards, 

Ps. This email just isn’t the same …

Then I decided that it was time to get creative: 

Hello Supermen and Superwomen of Campus Services, 

There is a flickering fluoro tube in the [redacted]. Could someone replace it with their super strength and x-ray light-replacing vision, please? 

Kind regards, 

I settled into that routine for a while, leaving out the fancy stuff, but attempting to woo them with flattering names:

Hello Campus Heroes, 
Dear Kings and Queens of Flinders Hill, 
Dear Mighty Flinders Rangers, 
Dear Takers of Care, 
O Mighty Knights of North Ridge, 

And so on.

However, on a slightly slow day, I think I finally tipped over into playful insanity:

Hail, ye Shamans of Mount Flinders! 

Verily, I have some large boxes full of bags, some signs and a printer which require spiriting away from the store room in the [redacted]. (Our guild down here is now called [redacted] for ye further information.) All items for removal have been marked ‘Move to Room 107’. 
Although the filing cabinets have been marked for removal, yay, do not move them or great spirits shall be released! Plus they need to emptied and their contents archived. 

May the Demons of Hrothgar smite thine enemies, 

After that, suddenly cheerful, muscular men in blue overalls pushing sack-trucks were popping up and telling me how much they enjoyed my emails. I had been under the impression that the email went to one person, who would call the relevant muscular man with a trolley and tell him what to do. 
They go to everyone involved in any kind of 'service' activity. Everyone.
I've got an audience now. The pressure's on. What next?

O yay o yay 
This morn’ cracked a rainy day 
With 16 boxes to carry away 
Full o’ books for North 1, without delay, 
On this finest, wettest, windiest firstling of May 

Where the boxes are located, 
In Chamber 110 they are situated, 
And shan’t be saturated, 
The students shall be placated 
By their books o’erflooding with fresh knowledge and the promise of a drier day. 

'How's the old English study coming along?' asks a muscular man in blue. 'I got a real kick out of that last one.'
It's a truism I just made up that most writers figure out, but never really master, that the more you fiddle with the font of what you're writing, the less you have to write. So I go:

Starship North Ridge - COME IN, Starship North Ridge! This is Galactic Hopper [redacted], Planet [redacted], Quadrant Level 1, requesting transfer of valuable academic cargo from Holding Bay Room 110 via Caretaker Hyperdrive to the distant reaches of North 1. There are 11 boxes of handbooks and all have received appropriate quarantine clearance. If North 1 is still occupied by the armies of Space Students, then they can be left in orbit in the foyer, same as yesterday. 

Then, it happens. I need something urgently and I don't have time to come up with anything amusing. I can feel the collective disappointment before it even begins.

Recycling is full. 
Level one needs a new bin. 
Life begins anew. 

And, just as quietly as the poem left the screen. So too did the bin in question. The feedback was minimal. I'm actually disappointed that I went with a whimper. 
In my last email, I resolved to rectify this and salvage whatever reputation I might still have left as 'that weirdo who send the weird emails'

And they’re off and racing! 
Printing is delivering 7 boxes of books past Room 110 before 3pm, The Caretakers of Camelot are coming up the inside to pick up the lead, dragging The Dodgy Handtruck in second place, Boxes of Books are looking for a swift finish as they come around the bend, North One is in sight, but The Caretakers of Camelot are looking strong, Foundation Studies students are milling about in the background, but a late run is all but impossible, as they close into the finish it’s Caretakers, North One, Boxes of Books neck and neck there’s nothing in it, Boxes of Books pushes, Caretakers stretches and its Caretakers! Caretakers has taken the Boxes of Books over North One and Dodgy Handtruck comes limping in followed by Foundation Studies Students and that rabbit thing they use for the doggies on Tuesday nights ….

Somehow, those campus heroes interpreted that and did whatever it was.
They're a top bunch over there. But I try to move a lot of my own books these days.

Nb. While everyone mostly knows where I work, I redacted the most identifying information, even if just to make the stalkers work a bit harder.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not a book in sight

Bonus fun tip  to try at your home or someone else's: Get a whole heap of dry tree stumps and a log splitter (a log splitter is an axe with a thicker wedge). Put one of the tree stumps on top of the other and hit it dead centre with the splitter. Pretend to be Thor and shout 'I am your KING' as the entire thing miraculously falls in half. Repeat until all tree stumps are gone. Bring split tree stumps inside and burn for family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

One of those things where they just don't care ...

... as long as the dollars keep coming.

Seriously? We have no other revenue streams? Oh well. Run it. We did all we could.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Now and then

I don't really sort my photos. I just take them, download them and keep them. I've got a big hard drive, so what?
Each blurry, ill-thought-out shot makes a little mind picture of what the day was like. I've now got around 150Gb of photos and videos. All of which I find a little bit precious. Especially when they stretch back to before I was born.

Here is me today. I am studying my PhD.

Here is me twelve years ago. I am dancing to music.

 Here is me seventeen years ago. I am learnding.

Here is me twenty-eight years ago. I am SAVING THE WORLD.

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32