Monday, April 30, 2007

joke of the day

I read this quote from the Foreign Minister in The Australian this morning:

"I'm not terribly focused on whether I ever could become leader of the Liberal Party or deputy leader," he says.
"If there was a mass assassination of a whole lot of people, well, I mean, I just don't know.

And for a good hour I completely misunderstood it. I thought he was joking that a mass political assassination might open up some career moves for him. Eventually I realised he meant he faints at the sight of blood, or something.
The story reports that Downer wants to be Treasurer. Gee, terrorists must be praying for a Liberal victory. With Fudgefingers at the helm of Australia's national accounts, there should be ample opportunity to inconspicuously funnell cash to rogue states and terrorists. After all the whole world knows Downer doesn't have time to read office memos. Well, he is writing a novel, so he's a bit distracted at times, as we writers are. But never mind.
Sadly this para didn't make it into the Oz's story:
Barely containing his glee, Downer rubbed his chubby paws together. "A wonderful job! Should be jolly good fun! Oh, goody!"

Elsewhere, it takes one rat to know another...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the slippery slope

Gee, only day three or four, and phony moral outrage at News Ltd already:

BIG Brother turned big blooper last night, with contestant Bodie dropping the "c" word during the daily show.

Looks like God has answered one of John Howard's prayers ("...And please God, we need more turkey slaps so we can get this immoral postmodern rubbish off the air and everything. Um..if you're all out of turkey slaps, some foul language would do. Oh, and thanks, God. Thanks a lot.").

mad barker

Whatever gives Mr Barker this idea?

"In one sense the community is indebted to him and he is now entitled to call in the debt," he said.

I think not.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

where's Donald Trump when you need him?

Remember all that talk we heard in the 90s about things like the "triple bottom line"? I thought the point was to humanise capitalism, to force the market to behave more ethically and thoughtfully (maybe even rationally) about consequences in terms of families and the environment by conspicuously including them in the balance sheet. But now we're back to dehumanising capitalism by turning workers into commodities, and John Howard's great plan reeks of mean old 80s economic rationalism.
Over the years the PM has liked to trumpet about 'corporate philanthropy' but it has never really come to pass. On the contrary, we now have a situation where big business will only very grudgingly come to the party that John Howard is throwing for them and contribute some small change towards the election campaign. Talk about ungrateful cheapskates, after all he's done for them!
The intrinsic problem with "WorkChoices" is that people know from first-hand experience that there has always been a power differential between bosses and workers, and that Howard's reforms can only widen the gap.
Mr're fired.

losing the halo

Right, well Haloscan obviously hates me. They claim to be there, but they're not, are they? Time to give up on them, I think. I'll try Blogger comments instead, so let's see if that works.

update So, evidently I just needed to default new posts to showing comments. Who'd have thought? Sorry, Haloscan. However, apparently I've lost all old comments threads, or at least they won't show (though I think they remain on my account at Haloscan, should they ever be needed). OK, moving on then....

Monday, April 23, 2007

i ♥ Big Brother

Trust Big Brother to lift my spirits after a bit of unwanted melancholy lately. It's always such a great distraction.
Top marks to BB this season. I like the missing prizemoney. I like the trendy ultra-green house made of recycled materials, with a pedal-powered washing machine, and artworks on the walls. I like the way they encouraged preliminary gender bonding (and "bagsing" of potential mates) by grouping the males and females separately at first. I like the fact that the housemates seem to be 'older and wiser'. I like the new peep-thru features of the house, creating fishbowls within the fishbowl.
I especially like the way all the housemates are extremely Nice rather than Naughty. I know this will really annoy John Howard and Helen Coonan as they spend their evenings glued to the screen desperately hunting for signs of moral turpitude. They're completely caught out by Big Brother going highbrow (or maybe multibrow).
Here's this year's bunch:
HAYLEY, 24, lawyer, bold, high-maintenance blonde, single;
TJ, 22, barmaid, Bohemian, doesn't like "plastics", calls herself "real" and "eccentric", seems a bit timid, single;
REBECCA, 24, events manager, Mormon, conservative, non-drinker evidently eager to prove she can party as hard and act as silly as the next alcoholic, single;
KATE, 25, lawyer, voluptuous, possibly bossy, potential 'love-her-or-hate-her' character, single;
EMMA, 24, fitness instructor, "black sheep of family", claims she wants to subvert the dumb blonde archetype, single;
ALEISHA, 20, hairdresser, sweet, innocent, hippy, small-town girl next door, single;
JAMIE, 29, karaoke host, cuddly SNAG, video gamer, wants to win it "for all the nerds out there", single;
BODIE, 24, model, Rod Stewart lookalike, larrkin, cheeky, self-described ADHD "shallow attention seeker", single;
ANDREW, 28, firefighter, reserved, smart, friendly, SNAG, admits to fractured family relationships, single;
JOEL, 24, restaurant manager, Young Liberal, athletic, ladies' man, joker, athletic, possibly a little machismo, single;
THOMAS, 27, real estate agent, traditionally handsome, separated from wife and from recent girlfriend;
TRAVIS, 32, truckdriver, heart-of-gold, ordinary Aussie bloke, married with kid (and I'm tipping Travis to be an early favorite).
There are two more housemates to be voted in and I think producers intend for DEMET(Muslim bellydancer) and ZORAN(romantic stirrer, admitted liar), both late-20s or thirtysomethings, to enter the house. It seems hard to imagine viewers voting in the others, who come across as naive dags, but it may still happen. And would still make for interesting viewing, especially if, as it seems, the current group are relatively well-educated and probably fairly politically savvy.
Oh, and the two 'secret relationships'? Surely gotta involve Thomas, who was introduced as currently trying to decide between going back to his ex-wife or his recently exed-girlfriend. Do you think the wife and girlfriend might be in there? I'll pick Kate as the ex-wife and either Hayley or Emma as the girlfriend.
So, let the games begin....

update OK, I was way off the mark with Thomas, but my radar correctly picked up that Hayley was involved somehow: turns out her husband is Andrew, with ex-boyfriend Billy now also sent in, to complicate the couple's attempt to keep their marriage hidden from the other housemates. I was also wrong about new housemate Susannah; now that we've had a closer look, she appears to be the polished, classy "high society" type, not so much a dag, and clearly a big hit with the blokes. I predict a match with Thomas. The other new housemate, as predicted, is Zoran. The remaining four contestants have been inducted into the White Room, a monochrome place of supposed potential mental torture; the one who remains in the room the longest may then enter the house proper. I wonder if they'll make a reality show inside the reality show, with the real housemates watching a package of the housemates interacting in the White Room for entertainment each night?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

time out

Back soon. Hopefully with working comments (it's a bit lonely blogging without them).

Monday, April 16, 2007

knockin' the suburbs

Art critic John McDonald is no fan of Howard Arkley, and wonders why anyone else is.
In previewing the Arkley exhibition running until May 6 in Sydney, Carnivale of Suburbia, McDonald questions the validity of Arkley's popularity. He suggests it is more a factor of marketing hype rather than appreciation of any genuine talent (Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, April 7; not available online).
McDonald takes a dim view of Arkley's legacy, from the headline--"Major hype for a minor talent"--through phrases like "technicolor screaming", "pure surface" and "no pictorial intelligence". The best he can offer is that Arkley's work has "strong graphic appeal". McDonald declares, "his paintings are failed abstractions that hide behind the facade of suburban kitsch".
A major criticism involves the use of color. McDonald describes, with distaste,

"...clashing colours so bilious and aggressively ill-matched that they seem to have been chosen by playing Roulette with a colour wheel"

McDonald compares the works with those of Michael Johnson, of whom he writes, "his colours never seem arbitrary". Maybe Johnson is saying something quite different. However, by writing that Arkley's colours seem "aggressively" put together, McDonald acknowledges that the colour schemes are deliberate, even as they appear arbitrary, since aggression implies motive. McDonald is irritated that there is "no discernable logic in the selection of colours", unable to accept there might be the logic of no logic. Arkley's colours could reflect ideas about randomness, chaos, chance. Perhaps even something about the apparently meaningless, apparently arbitrary nature of reality (until meaning is constructed or imposed). I'm guessing here, of course; I'm no art critic, and I haven't actually read anything Arkley has said of his work. Paradoxically, McDonald later criticises Arkley for being "mannered" and "calculated".
A second criticism is that Arkley doesn't obey expectations about 'good taste'. McDonald mocks Arkley's postmodernity:
"In the gospel according to Arkley, there is no such thing as good taste--all decorative impulses are equally good and valued."

It's as if McDonald would've been happier if Arkley had painted prettier houses, gentrified the works, perhaps painted Mosman. McDonald seems to cringe at Arkley's view of suburbia and the very idea that it might be "celebrated". He blasts Arkley's status as "poet of the common people, finding beauty in all the kitsch". Frankly, to me there is an element of horror in the pictures as well. I think at the very least Arkley was ambivalent about suburbia.
Of Arkley's monochrome work titled "Primitive", McDonald complains:
"There is no volume, no perspective, no light and shade, just a monotonous line that resolves itself into a stream of consciousness panorama."

Isn't this kind of hitting the nail on the head? Isn't that suburbia--that sameness, that white noise, that homogenous hum? Except the hum is a scream. I mean, doesn't the mainstream, in fact, scream as loudly and garishly as punk?
"As a celebration of the suburban aesthetic, it has a double edge."

Well, yeah.
McDonald's chief objection seems to be to Arkley's claim to the "dubious title of artist-laureate of the Austrlaian suburbs". He offers up his favored alternatives, John Brack and Charles Blackman, neither of whom are exactly Arkley's contemporary peers. (I believe Brack was painting suburban scenes in the 50s, wasn't he?).
To me, there is an element of snobbery in McDonald's critique. He writes,
"Sydney viewers can make up their own minds about Arkley. Don't feel intimidated, because it's not a demanding task."

Is it just me, or is this vaguely patronising and elitist? Because Arkley strikes a chord with ordinary people, because the work is popular and accessible, it represents dumbing down?
"Some viewers will have an instant, favourable response to the bright energy in these canvases. Others--and I include myself in their ranks--will find they slip away from one's gaze like the images on a TV screen."

I find this metaphor unconvincing. Firstly, Arkley's images do not slip away so easily at all. If I say "Arkley", you will be likely to easily conjure up his paintings in your mind's eye. And secondly, images on a TV screen are not always fleeting; many televisual images (September 11 is the most obvious modern example) linger potently, long after they have been aired.
I find this to be a telling paragraph:
"At the end of this show, I felt like those Spanish explorers who crossed the ocean and discovered a new continent. 'What was it like?' people asked. 'Aca nada!' [the explorers] replied. 'There's nothing there.'"

Curious choice of metaphor. After all, the explorers were mistaken, weren't they? To be sure, it may not have been what they expected to find. But there was plenty there.

stumbling block

I assume this pun was unintentional:

Commissioner Trevor Bly said in his judgement that he was convinced "the nearby residential developments would be disadvantaged by a 3am closure [of the nightclub] because this does not facilitate the staggering of departures, as would be the case for 24-hour opening".

Yes, these extended hours should definitely facilitate staggering.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

across the road

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the following posts of mine up at Surfdom:
Rats in the rat's ranks; and
So you can go there if you like to hear me crap on about politics. Otherwise, stay here. Or come back. Or something.

Monday, April 02, 2007

sure thing

We didn't gag Hicks: PM.

Altogether now: "Yeah, right."

no comment

Comments are now fixed, or so I'm told by Haloscan. Let's just see about that...Excuse me just a little longer...

update Nup. Nothing, is there? Oh, that's right, you can't talk to me...damn. Anyway, full service will surely resume again soon. Also some new posts on their way to their various destinations (ie. here and at surfdom). Honest!