Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Warrnambool: A Photo Essay

We spent a few nights in Warrnambool earlier this week. While there I took some photos.

Flesh Fence was in the process of closing down, possibly as a result of confusion as to what kind of wares it actually sold. (Hint: not flesh; not fences.)

The winner of Warrnambool's Most Anachronistic Shop Name 2001-2009.

This spectral bride was glimpsed haunting the window of the RSPCA op shop. Significantly there was no sign of a groom.

Humour plays a vital role in Warrnambool's day to day life.

This abandoned Martian tripod dominates the town. Some say it contains the decaying corpses of interstellar travelers. Others claim it is full of trousers.

Further evidence of an extraterrestrial presence.

All those surf-loving cats will have to find somewhere else to hang ten.

Not here though. Here is foul.

A great place to take the kids/cats/Steve Irwin.

I don't know what these domes are for. Probably something to do with keeping 19th C Russians at bay.

There were at least fifty billion snails on this fence. It is an image that will remain with me forever.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Some things I would probably get out of bed for at 1.45 a.m.:

- a housefire
- burglars
- a large sum of money
- a brand new Nabokov novel, hand-delivered by the resurrected and still grave-cold master himself, with the offer of having selections from it read aloud to me in Nabokov's delightful Russian-French-American accent.
- sex

One thing I would not get out of bed for at 1.45 a.m. or frankly at any other time:

- Dan Brown's new novel

Monday, 7 September 2009

Great moments in art history #1

Whistler's MILF

(1871, oil on canvas)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Melbourne Writers Festival

The Melbourne Writers Festival concluded recently and by all reports it was a resounding success. Your correspondent was lucky enough to attend several days of the festival, having purchased tickets to what he thought was the Melbourne Waiters Festival and then subsequently sought to make the best of his error.

The main event on the festival's schedule was the Fairfax/Readings/Bob Jane T-Marts Literature Series, a full day of lectures designed to poke, prod and generally dissect the fundamentals of the art. "What is Literature?" asked David Marr in his keynote address, causing a ripple of chin stroking amongst the audience. "Perhaps one could more profitably ask what isn't literature," Marr declared, ungrammatically, before suggesting that coconut husks, aluminium cladding and antacid medication "probably" count among the things that literature isn't. Jason Steger then appeared on stage, asking "Where is Literature?", or at least so we assumed until it transpired that Steger was actually asking "Where is the shitter?". Steger was escorted from the theatre and directed to the appropriate facilities. Thomas Keneally was next, pondering the age-old question, "Literature: Wha?" The afternoon session was no less spirited and insightful: Professor Raimond Gaita wondered "What the Frick Does Literature Want?", while Christos Tsiolkas concluded the series in a peremptory fashion with "Watch Out! It's Literature!", a high energy lecture that Tsiolkas' audience, particularly those seated in the first three rows, will surely never forget.

Other highlights of the festival included: the Obligatory Genre Whinge (featuring a panel-led singalong of "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I'll eat some worms"); the Best Dressed Poet competition (won by Mr J.K. Krumples of Preston who was pleased to thank his major sponsor, Dimmeys & Forges); and The Future of the Book, a round-table discussion that overcame early difficulties (specifically the lack of a round table) to deliver a powerful affirmation of the written word. (Unfortunately I can't offer a more specific account: note-taking was prohibited at this panel.)

The festival was officially closed by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who burned a ceremonial truckload of Betty and Jim maths books, thus signaling Melbourne's return to generalised illiteracy and drunken thuggery after a precious fortnight of intellectual mutual masturbation. Your correspondent, intellect thoroughly chafed, was sad to see it all end, but confident that the 2010 festival will be even better. Festival Director Steve Grimwade was coy about the treats in store, but he did offer a small clue: "We're booking strippers. Lots of strippers." Your correspondent's brain is, in apparent contravention of his anatomical arrangement, literally drooling in anticipation.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cannibal Corpse: Rejected Album Titles

Pit of the Pitiless
Addicted to Mutilation. And Pez.
Stripped, Bound, Burned, Eaten: Dinner Parties Made Easy
Plucked to Death by Penguins
Sent to Your Room by Satan
Drowning in Kittens
Forcefed Anchovies by Necrosadist Zombie Pizza Chefs
Convinced By Demons to Ignore the Bus Driver's Polite Request For Exact Change

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Down in the park

This park would be quite a nice park if somebody went over it with an enormous comb - and I must specify an enormous comb, not merely a large comb like the one used for a deliberately groan-worthy sight gag in the comedy smash Spaceballs - and combed out all the bits of broken beer bottle and syringes and used condoms and dog shit and chip packets and whatever else people have dropped like the scum that they are. I don't know about the logistics of this combing operation. I assume you'd need a helicopter and a dozen stout men, or two helicopters and two dozen not-so-stout men. Like I say, I don't know about the logistics. I just deal in ideas.

There is a lake in the park, man-made, like all the best lakes. For about two weeks every winter the lake bed is almost completely covered with water. Ducks paddle about, children race around the banks, criminals chuck incriminating evidence into the murky shallows. The lake makes people happy. Then the warmer weather arrives and the lake begins to dry up. By summer's end the water has evaporated, the ducks have left, and police divers don't even need to roll up their trouser legs to conduct a search. The lake bed is cracked, scorched the same dead-brown colour as the grass elsewhere in the park. One summer day I asked a passing old man what he thought of the state of the lake. He tried to hit me with his walking stick and screeched something about "medication". I think he was feeling sad for the ducks.