Thursday, December 28, 2006


The baby preparations have turned into a bit of a Spring-clean. I decided to include Ruby's room in the vacuuming, dusting, etc, and realised just how neglected it has been. She's not really allowed me in there since she was 13 - that's nearly 4 years ago. But today she was strangely keen on domesticity, and my company, so we cleaned it together, chatting about our various takes on Christmas & all sorts of other things. She's extremely observant and much more sensitive, intelligent & less-selfish than I was at 16.

So, now the hallway is crowded with bags of stuff for the op-shop. Blackened blobs of blu-tack have been scraped up off the floorboards, skirting boards have been wiped down, bookshelves tidied, mirrors windexed. Old stuffed toys have been rediscovered and a long-lost pink thong (the rubber sort for the foot) reunited with its mate.

I've made up a portacot, borrowed from a friend, for little Griff. I've had this sheet, embroidered with Dick Bruna characters, since Ruby was a baby, folded in the bottom drawer (I washed it today as it smelt a bit musty). The pure wool blanket was crocheted by my very clever mother. Richard kept checking the Qantas website today, and finally told me an hour ago that the flight's final boarding calls were being made at Heathrow.

Tomorrow: mow lawn, wipe out kitchen cupboards, get Ruby to clean bottom of rat cage, vacuum lounge, tidy my bedroom, pick the ladies and the lad up from the airport, pour red wine & begin the party! There's a thunderstorm over Marrickville right now; and so to bed.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I'm in Melbourne, visiting family and friends over Christmas. It is very hot and dry. The city is overhung with smoke - vast tracts of bush are on fire. Most of the news coverage about the fires is about property, property, property. But I wonder about the critters getting roasted - there must be thousands of them. Wombats in their burrows. Koalas in their treetops. This morning, eyes sore from not enough sleep (it's SO hot!), I lay on my parents' couch and asked my brother, who was sitting at the table reading The Age, "What's happening in the world". Here's what he told me:

A Japanese guy went into hibernation. He got caught on a cold mountaintop, all his organs shut down... he stayed like that for 27 days... but then he thawed out.

That copper who killed the Aboriginal man isn't going to be charged with murder. He broke the man's ribs and pulverised his liver so that it stopped working, but there's not enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Two teenaged girls killed their friend and put her in a wheelie bin.

Happy holidays.
Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I know the blog's new colour scheme is horrible, but humour me for a while won't you? It is Christmas after all. Consider it my bit of online tinsel.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bloggo Troppo Nomino

Over at Club Troppo they're calling for nominations for the blogosphere's best essay-style posts of 2006, to be republished on Online Opinion. The posts have to be between 500 & 1800 words. I've nominated three of my favourites: Ampersand Duck's Gathering Strength, Laura's My Day! Starring Cat! + Many Foods! from Sorrow at Sills Bend and Crazy Brave's Austrayan Values: a sense of bollocks.

And I've self-nominated some of my stuff from Sarsaparilla:
Viva La Muff; Dancing Shoes and Caesar Salad.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


When I received this as part of an invitation to a gallery opening:

tXt:> tranSmission
To what extent have technologies become part of us? Or, inversely, have we become part of our technologies? Where do we end and they begin? How would most of us feel without the simple technology of clothing for instance -- exposed, cold, incomplete perhaps? How many of us now feel exposed, cold and incomplete without more sophisticated technologies such as the internet and mobile phones?

I knew I had to go. Not only was the gallery itself in Marrickville, but the quote above is like something right out of one of my lectures - most of what I teach is to do with technology/culture/human relations. And lo! I recognised one of the artists, Matt, as a former student. I taught him a couple of years ago at UTS in the subject Virtual Communities. Matt is one of those passionate & creative students you always remember. I recall his class presentation featured a huge old mobile phone and a little portable musical keyboard... he hasn't changed his focus much. The exhibition was full of phones, TVs and the sounds of original, eerie but somehow comforting compositions. The works were by him and his sister Greer. The blurbs about them say:

Greer Rochford is a photographic artist who experiments with a variety of mediums, pushing the boundaries of traditional photography. She deals with ideas such as surveillance, technoscience and alienation.

Her kid brother, Matt, explodes myths and storms social barricades. He is continually searching for the point where he ends and the rest of the world begins.

Matt lives in Dulwich Hill - I've seen him at rallies & riding his bike along Enmore Rd. He is quite a tiny person with a huge smile. He looks a bit other-worldly, even more so when seen next to his strikingly similar elfin sister. I reckon these two are artists to watch.

DON'T LOOK Experimental New Media Gallery 419 New Canterbury Rd (Near Marrickville Rd), Dulwich Hill.

The Art of the Insult

Richard and I went to the Dendy Newtown last night to see the Borat movie. I was SO in need of a good laugh, it was wonderful. There was a woman in the row behind us braying like a donkey for much of the time, but I enjoyed that too. The movie is just so incredibly politically incorrect... potentially insulting to just about everyone. There was only one scene that worried me. At a Southern dinner party Borat declares that the women sitting either side of him (a heavily made-up redhead & a glamorous blonde) would be very popular in his home country. He then adds that the other woman at the table, a quiet person with short grey hair, would be popular not so much. There was a longish silence. For me, this was the one place in the movie where he went too far. Perhaps that's the key to this sort of very confronting comedy - always taking it too far for someone. George Saunders has written a brilliant "memo" in The New Yorker - I recommend it as an antidote to the movie if you're planning to see it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dero Dog in with Poets

I've just received in the post a copy of Famous Reporter #34. Ralph Wessman, one of the editors of this Tasmanian literary magazine, emailed me a while back to ask if he could reprint Dero Dog in it. They've done a nice job of printing and arranging the photos. If you didn't keep on reading my posts on him you may not know that Dero Dog was eventually euthanised by the RSPCA.

I've been away, spending a few days at Mollymook with my dear friend Zoe, post the annual cultural studies association conference which this year was in Canberra. I'd convened a panel on Container Technologies, one of the areas of cultural/technological analysis that I'm interested in (and working on an edited collection about). My paper, about handbags, femininity and globalisation, was well-received and a lot of fun to write & present. I like that at many of my conference presentations members of the audience laugh... it is more flattering than you might think!

The sea at Mollymook was clear & not too cold. In the evenings - I tell a lie, usually from about 12.20pm onwards - the gin flowed, there were many girly chats & I started to read Clare Clarke's excellent The Great Stink, highly recommended by my mother who certainly knows a good book. I haven't finished it yet, but am very much hoping that the mongrel champion rat-killer dog Lady will be reunited with her beloved human Tom by the end. Their imminent parting is beautifully written, as finely calibrated as any tragic romance:

"There was a dark hole inside his chest that had already started to open. He knew it would make him dizzy when he stood up. So he stayed where he was, his knees ablaze with cramp, his arms wrapped around the dog. His hundred-guinea girl. The tears dropped on to the black velvet of her broken ear and quivered there, bright as diamonds."

I didn't take Sailor on the trip but we were accompanied by Zoe's very personable companion Toby, a rather distinguished-looking and intelligent miniature black poodle.

I returned home last night, after a week away in total, and noticed that Sailor seems to have lost some more of her wrinkles. This is what happens to pugs as they age - their face-folds reduce - the opposite of humans.

I liked this stanza of John Bird's "The Fence Rider, 1950 Australia", in Famous Reporter:

"southern cross -
sharing the universe
with dog"

My world is more like

"middle age -
sharing the old couch
with pug"