30 December 2007

Constant Movement

On the go again. Tomorrow it's a 6am flight to Sydney. Then a train ride down the coast with my sister, which should a be a good journey. Fairly straightforward connection, someone to meet us at the other end, no task to complete on the way, just riding off to have some fun for a few days.

When we return to Sydney I've only got a few days of uninterrupted socialising, then back to the sunny South for 3 nights (it's a family thing). Then Sydney for two nights, then Amsterdam. Biz reckons you have to pay somehow for being able to cover 12,000 kms in 24 hours. Jetlag is the obvious one, but perhaps pieces of you are left scattered all over the planet. Physically and psychologically. Same with scooting all over the country. Where are my socks again?

On wednesday, when the darling man gets back, the forecast is 0 degrees and light
snow. I guess we find out then if my house plants are frozen into little blocks of ice. Maybe the canals will freeze this year. Today reached 40 degrees in Adelaide. I'm sure there's a penalty for extreme changes of temperatures too.

Happy New year everyone, hopefully I'll see youse next week.

24 December 2007

An ad

Getting all arty for the Christmas season - an actual friend of mine wrote a play. And actual actors are going to perform it. Nice work, Christian. Its call Mr Postmodernism ... Here are the details of the Short and Sweet festival, its on in Feb. Go! and support local artistes.

Recent news

Well greetings blogland, from Adelaide. City of a growing number of groovy bars. Apparently they've changed the licensing laws to make it easier to create smaller, potentially less commercially viable places than when I was a lass. Speaking of bars, this is the site of a man I met in bar in Amsterdam, a busker film-maker, who is a fan of Henry Miller. When I said "Oh Henry Miller was a misogynist" , he replied "Why do all women say that?" - which was either very quick and dryly funny - or a little dumb. I chose to assume the former.

Being int this town right up to the morning of new years' eve means I get to go to Rockabilly Riot at La Boheme - any readers want to go.? Do I have any Adelaide readers? Anyway got to go get the house ready for the rellie bash. Happy Christmas, ho ho ho.

26 November 2007

Yippedy do dah

Look, I dunno if this Rudd fella can make the kind of Australia that me and my bleeding-heart buddies would like. Basically, that Australia would be a 24-hour block-party where everyone worked a 4 day week, and then got a modest allowance to do their favourite hobby.

There would be no violence at all, and we would not go to any wars, in fact our military would be totally disarmed and sent exclusively to do clean energy and sustainable water projects in the world's poorest countries. There would be no decisions made based on people's racial background - in fact there would be so much blending and non-tribal love making that most Australians would look kind of like tall South-east Asians with big noses.

There would be no industrial farming, fertiliser or pesticide use - each regional municipality would have a "zero sum" food production regime, where they would produce enough basic produce for their own population, then trade with their neighbours on the surplus. There would of course be no deforestation, and a reversal of salinisation - people would earn handsome incomes from protecting forests, even if they didn't get any visitors at all. There would be no states and the federal government would concern itself with free education and healthcare for all.

But anyway , it's good to see a nasty and divisive man out of power, along with his nasty and divisive government. Perhaps we can hope for a temporary slowing down of the hardening of Australian character that's been happening over the last 10 years. Maybe a faint whiff of compassion will be detected in political rhetoric, that has become so totally overrun with talk of "strength" and "growth" and "stability" and "protection" and other paternalistic buzzwords.

Don't forget, dear readers, they allowed senior government ministers to bribe Saddam Hussein to take our wheat exports at the same time as declaring war against his nation. They slandered a boat-full of refugees who were sinking in our waters, who were trying to save their children from drowning by saying they "threw babies overboard" solely to get inside Australia's borders. They lied and lied about climate change, about whether most of the world's experts thought it was real, then when finally they had to say it was real, they lied about what the international agreements mean and how they really work. Right up to the election. And they forced through a special project about work place relations that influences a massive proportion of voters, without talking about it before an election, without proper study or advice even from their own bureaucracy.

Just try to think back ten years. Remember Max Gillies who dressed up like the PM and portrayed him as a hopeless drunk while he was in power? Remember it was okay to poke fun at politics, it was normal, and it wasn't edgy or subversive, or slightly dangerous (like the Chaser about to go to COURT for comedy?) Remember getting bulk billing at a normal GP - not just at a shitty over stretched clinic where the doctor spends 8 minutes on a consultation and gets confused if you don't need a prescription for something? Your consultation fee was paid for entirely by taxes that you'd already paid, or your parents had paid, remember? Oh yeah, and remember when you actually owned the national telecomms company (also through taxes), not only if you had a share portfolio? (Although mind you I'm all skype these days). And didn't ANZAC day used to be "lest we forget" rather than "lest we get so pissed we forget everything shit about our political landscape."

Phew. If you got through that here's some things people in other countries are saying.

The Guardian (UK)
Howard's defeat was finally delivered by the key defection of the group that had for so long supported him - the 'Aussie battler' - the disillusioned blue-collar voters that Howard had won over from Labor in his sweeping victory in 1996 -renamed 'Howard's battlers'.

The Times (UK)
Rudd, 50, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, a staunch republican and a fiscal conservative who had campaigned for lower taxes and strict control of public spending, became his country’s 26th prime minister after a huge 6.1% swing against the ruling Liberal-National coalition.
Is "mandarin-speaking" some kind of code for "communist sympathiser" I wonder?

The Washington Post headline is:
Bush ally defeated in Australia: Next Prime Minister promises new course on Iraq, Warming..
(but they require registration to view it)

The Seattle Times

The Bush administration lost one of its staunchest political allies Saturday, when Australians chose a Mandarin-speaking former farm boy to become their new prime minister. . . .

Australia becomes the latest country to turn out governments that contributed to the U.S. war in Iraq, joining Poland, Spain and Britain.
The Buenos Airies Herald
Rudd is expected to forge closer ties with China and other Asian nations and has said he wants a more independent voice in foreign policy, but yesterday again promised Australia would retain its close alliance with the United States.

13 November 2007

A bit more perky

Sorry for two depressing posts in one go. Must be the diminishing hours of daylight over here. Did I mention that I'm coming home over the summer? Very excited about sand-betweenn-the-toes.

Here's a picture of some Belgian chocolates to lighten things up. More Euro adventures on flickr

Remembrance Day

On Sunday (11/11/07) I was actually in a town called Brugge, or Bruges if you are French. It's in Belgium , which used to be called Flanders. Where poppies grow wild, and have become the symbol of the millions of soldiers killed in the first world war. Here's a poem. I had to do it year 12, and it was crap then, but it kind of makes more sense now.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

-Wilfred Owen

Well that's a bit shit

ASIO interrogators were "grossly improper": judge

It looks like ASIO are playing out their fantasies of being hard-talking terrorist busting crime fighters for truth and justice through illegal detention, interrogation and trying to force a man to wear a wire to get more information on the people they think might really be the baddies.
.. It is the latest in a series of high-profile blunders by those responsible for prosecuting the war against terrorism.

In a damning judgment, Justice Michael Adams said the two ASIO officers "committed the criminal offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping at common law".

Their conduct was "grossly improper", he said. Ruling all subsequent police records of interview inadmissible, Justice Adams also observed that the officers' later explanations for their behaviour were defensive and, at times, untruthful.

And this is kind of crappy too:

Man stateless after immigration department admits mistake

Tony Tran, who was living in Brisbane with his wife and son, was detained in December 1999 when immigration officials told him his visa had been cancelled years earlier.

The Department admitted a mistake and released him after five-and-a-half years, but because he and his son have no permanent resident status they still face possible deportation

27 October 2007

World travels online

My buddy John's india trip blog is up and running. His World cup blog was essential reading throughout the tournament so this one is worth a look.

25 October 2007

Dutchies win solar race

The Dutch team Nuon has won the World Solar Challenge across Australia with its car Nuna 4. From the ABC website

It has crossed the finish line on Adelaide's northern outskirts at about 5:00pm ACST, having led for most of the journey from Darwin since the race started on Sunday.

The Dutch entrant was about 45 minutes ahead of its nearest opponent at last report

Nuon. That's my energy company.* Who just let me negotiate my monthly contract payment downwards by 30 euros with a single phone call. Nuon who are running prime time adds with archive footage of floods, devastation and disaster, a rousing folk song that end on a black screen with large lettering "The climate is changing". "Sign up to our climate reductieplan" at the end. Out ahead of the Australian Feds on coming to grips with that one.

*and no, I haven't gone with green power yet. Sorry Australia, I'm just not sure if I can afford the regular tariff before I go leaping into green ones. The monthly charge here is about the same as the quarterly charge there. I ride a bike instead of taking any motorised transport, does that count?

24 October 2007

Europop frippery

I see this clip at least once a day on the local music channel TMF. It makes me happy every time.
Diet coke and pizza, please/ Diet coke I'm on my knees, screaming /Big Girl you are beautiful
You take your woman, and multiply her by four/ Now a whole lot of woman needs a whole lot more ...

It says on Mika's myspace that he was born in Lebanon and rasied in Paris and London. Go mika, you euro-dog.

20 October 2007

Verbs really say a lot

Had my first Dutch lesson this week. Three hours on a Wednesday night. On approach I wasn't sure if it was going to be "immersion" like I did for Spanish in Argentina where the teacher speaks nothing but v-e-r-y sl-o-wly in the language being taught and uses lots of drawings on the board and mimes to get to you started. This is a pretty good method for an international school where you can't assume what people's first language will be, and it worked pretty well to force me to listen and speak early on.

But I wondered if that would be torture for Dutch, with all those guttural sounds and weird hooting consonants. But no, she did the introductions and started the lessons in English. I felt like I was cheating, because apart from me the other students are from Spain, Bulgaria, Russia, China and Portugal! All with English as a second language. Amsterdam really is an international city, I guess.

So it all went ok, you can totally see the links to English - the word for verb is "werkwoord" - i.e "work-word". I pay pretty close attention to this stuff as I seem to spend half my professional life teaching English speakers to use their own verbs correctly.

But on the subject of verbs , I had a somewhat wistful moment on the way home from class. (10 pm, drizzling, cold). In Spanish some of the very the first verbs I learned were cantar, bailar and gustar - "to dance" "to sing" and "to be pleased by". Oh yeah, and desayunar "to have breakfast". We did a quick starter session on regular verbs in Dutch class too. The group was asked which ones they had heard or picked up. And what were they ? Werken, eten, drinken, slapen. "work, drink, eat, sleep." Er, what was that about language reflecting culture?

(Although pretty much the first Dutch noun I've learned both prior to and during class is fiets, bike, which is kind of cool.)

11 October 2007

Do the dishes, dammit

Oh the joy and relief! A tops lady called Deborah Cameron, who is a language professor at Oxford University no less, has written a book about why the ideas propagated in books like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'" are mostly a load of old tosh. Some of her big myth-busting concepts are that saying men's and women's brains are somehow hard-wired differently plays straight into the hands of conservatism and of fixed roles for men and women. That there is no real data to back it those ideas up anyway. That psuedo-science about communication implies that as humans we cannot change our roles and the nature of our relationships. She likens the language myths as akin to some forms of social Darwinism, too. Here's some great quotes from the Times:

The first point to make is that in the past 20 years we have become obsessed by communication,” she says. “And that’s not just in relationships; it’s in customer care, it’s in politics. All problems are seen to be communication problems.

“If, for instance, anyone disagrees with someone else, it’s seen to be because they don’t understand each other. Well, actually you could understand me and still disagree with me. Likewise, if a train is delayed or cancelled, all anyone’s interested in is whether there is an appropriate announcement. Communication has become a substitute for actual problem solving.

“Where this relates to the Mars and Venus books is that they say problems in relationships between men and women are all down to communication. The misunderstandings are not, for instance, about the fact that men and women are both vying for jobs, or power, or status, or time. That’s quite comforting to a lot of people."


There is, she thinks, something regressive, deeply conservative, in this outlook because what it seems to be saying is that we can’t change.

In the Mars and Venus world view, women stay women, chatting (probably too much) and being unable to say exactly what they mean, while men get on with their straightforward competitive existences. It’s a view, she feels, that does neither men nor women any favours.

“I realise that women are peddling this stuff as much as men,” says Cameron. “There is a cheap way for women to feel good in this myth. They are portrayed as sympathetic, good at communicating, whatever. Men, on the other hand, are autistic, inarticulate Neanderthals. If you’re a woman, that’s a way of feeling good about yourself when it’s still quite likely that the man you’re with earns more money than you. It’s a big trap for women.”


Even when there is less on the line, men can use the miscommunication ticket to their advantage. Ask any man who has failed to do the washing up after being asked, “Do you think you might have time to do the dishes?”

“Of course everyone knows what is being talked about,” says Cameron, “because in other situations men can understand and make indirect requests. But it’s sometimes convenient for one party to misunderstand. The Mars and Venus myth says this misunderstanding is an inalienable fact of male and female relationships, but it’s not. The only thing you’ve proved is that the man is a lazy arse.”

And the data (lifted entirely from the article above):

Myth 1: women talk more than men Nonsense, says Cameron. In a popular self-help book, The Female Brain, the claim is made that women say 20,000 words a day and men only 7,000. This statistic has been widely reported in newspapers and journals but has since turned out to be erroneous and based on no real research. It has since been removed from the book.

In fact a number of studies have found that men speak more than women, although others found that women speak more than men. A recent study by the University of Arizona, on a group of undergraduates, found that both sexes spoke an equal number of words a day – 16,000.

Myth 2: men and women communicate differently More hogwash, says Cameron. Linguistic studies have shown that men and women share a 99.75% overlap in the way they communicate. If there are differences in the way the sexes communicate, they are infinitesimal.

The only real markers of difference between men and women are that women smile more and spell better, and it is, says Cameron, only a “moderate difference”.

Myth 3: men’s and women’s brains are hardwired differently when it comes to language This area, says Cameron, is more difficult. Brain scans show that, when men talk, they use almost exclusively the left-hand side of their brains, whereas women also use parts of the right side. But, according to Cameron, this has had no bearing on how we communicate.

The only proven effect of this neurological difference between the sexes, comes in the case of severe head injury. If men suffer an acute injury to the brain, they are more likely to lose their speech faculties than women, because other parts of the female brain are able to take over.

Myth 4: men interrupt more than women The evidence suggests women interrupt as much as men do. Cameron argues that some men, naturally, will interrupt more than others. The dangers of grouping men together is that the differences between men and women are so slight, whereas the differences between men and other men are more interesting.

When, and how people interrupt, argues Cameron, is much more about power and social relations than the genetic make-up of the sexes.

If you dig it and want to read more chunky extracts - there are three posted at the Guardian with more ripper quotes about how the amount people talk in a social situation has a lot more to do with status than gender, for example.

3 October 2007

Spending spree

Unlike my lovely crafty friend at Machen-machen, I'm not on any kind of no-buy or make-only stretch. Mostly because I can't sew for shit, but also I try not to be too exuberantly materialistic most of the time. Okay you hard-core freegans and dead furniture collectors out there - not as restrained as you that's true - don't mind the Ikea if only I had a vehicle to get those lovely flat packs home in. But since moving over the Atlantic, I have discovered the joy of internet shopping.

Oh man, it's the shit. First, John Safran. And we do still have a few episodes to go and the extra features too. So I think that's worth the price really. And now... wait for it - the complete. series two. Doctor Who. box. set. It arrived in a brown cardboard carton. Just like the sci fi porn that it is. And its got a holographic cover. Sigh. So much entertainment in one little package. I was about to post what it costs, in the spirit of confession. But no, that's a bit embarrassing. Lets just say it was quite a lot.

27 September 2007

Bsharp at the sauna

That title sounds like some twisted Nordic kids book. Alternative post title would be "My first brush with public nudity".

Readers may or may not be aware that the regions north of say, France, have this whole cultural sauna fetish going on. As it's now getting chilly in the afternoon, and raining every five minutes, I can actually start to see why. So, dear friends I'm going to let you in on a little secret from the frozen north about all those cliches of red-faced men and large-hipped women running from sauna to the snow, and the birch branches and all. IT'S ALL TRUE.

I haven't seen any birch-whipping yet but I bet they do it after the winter solstice. So on Tuesday night, after the last evening belly dance session before Miss K, Aussie dancing diva went home, I took her up on an invite to the sauna. I'd actually heard of the one she'd chosen - it is in a former squat and known for its mosaics and veggie cafe.

As we pulled our bikes up to one of those arty-farty courtyards (you know them, fruit trees and hand-made furniture) , I felt inclined to stage whisper "This is one of those places where you go nude isn't it?" and she answers "I don't really know, but I've brought my towel." Now I've been to the Korean baths in Sydney, and was feeling fairly confident about the whole thing - yeh, I'm cool, no problem. Of course nudism is never actually that sexy - it's just a bunch of regular bumpy lumpy people walking around without their togs.

But my lord its' funny. From the moment we walked in it was a delightful montage of saggy bums, greasy dreadlocks and droopy willies galore! Of course there was only one change room, and of course the guy running the place would give us a guided tour, when we were ready and in our towels - including the screened outdoor bit with the giant cold water shower for after you've been sauna-ing for a while. Oh yeah, did I mention it was about 12 degrees and raining on Tuesday night and it's not even winter yet?

And then in that Dutchy way I'm coming to know and love, there was the middle aged gentleman who pointed out to us that we didn't actually take the towels to sit on in the steam room, but wiped the seat with the squeegee, otherwise the towels would just get soaked. They are so practical! So we of course hung the towels outside and did the right thing, in the very close proximity of 3 naked guys and another chick - all very disconcerting.

And a couple of people commented on how healthy it was for your skin, and the guy with dreds well past his nipples said I had cool tattoos (I do), but true to form this stuff just isn't erotic, and they do talk to your face, and you get the feeling any kind of chat up would be the height of rudeness. But to top it all off, was the cafe area where people gravitated to after their sauna/plunge pool/ foot soak for a nudie latte! I'm not kidding. There were really people starkers having tea and veggie treats and helping themselves to famous dutch licorice from the bar. There was even a chess game going on. Oh yeah, and on Tuesday and Wednesday it's okay to skin up a joint. But not other days. Amsterdam. Bless.

And the best bit? This is not some one-off naturist cult. These things are all over the city. Well maybe not the cafe and the grass. But the rest, for sure. Even most of the regular public pools have designated nude swim times. For anyone visiting from Oz from now on the sauna is going to be a compulsory visit.

22 September 2007

Big ups to Madman Entertainment

Alternative title - last week I actually received my John Safran vs God dvd! Yay!

I ordered this in Sydney as surprise for Mr B, hoping it would arrive before the big move. It didn't but that was ok as I had an AusPost forwarding service in place. But after 8 weeks in the Dam it still hadn't arrive, so I emailed them politely asking if perhaps I should follow up with our mighty government postal service, thinking I'd probably never see it again and Madman had my money so why would they care.

But instead they sent a very speedy reply saying that they had actually delayed sending it, because it wasn't in stock missed the end of my forwarding by about a couple of days, and that the marketing manager had just promptly dispatched a second copy to my Amsterdam address. Without me having to ask! I nearly fell off my chair at the lack of hassle and red tape. So for all your cult dvds and hard-to-find SBS TV series, I highly recommend them. Do yourself a favour.

19 September 2007

more on the 'stan

I really dig it when my women friends discuss issues in the blog environment. We are a group of brainy chicks (and that includes and anonymous non-commenters out there too I'm sure... ). However, sometimes here I would so much prefer to be having a glass of red with my homies, in their lounge room, and discussing the world's ills, with the many flaws in the way countries interact with each other. This is one of those occasions, But sadly, being on the other side of the globe kind of precludes that.. (sigh).

So just for the public record (because I know heaps of UN negotiators read my blog) and not not wanting to be combative, here's some background to the comment referring to "aid workers without guns", in the below post. I was going to put it in comments but it got too long. Disclaimer: I am no expert on the conflict in Afghanistan. I first met Mr B after he spent 10 months there in 2003 (yep, after the first troop invasion). He is very passionate and talks about it a lot to anyone who will listen, or who is captive and can't run away, and it rubs off.

Firstly there has been humanitarian aid based in that country for some 30 years, during the whole reign of the Taliban, flying under the radar to try to get emergency aid to people who needed it. Sure, you get good guys in aid and not-so-good-scary-fundamentalist-missionary-types as well. However, the basic principle of going to do education or development or medical work is the universal declaration of human rights, not national security, or political advantage. (In theory, of course. In practice there are all sorts of weird things going on with aid monies).

The Taliban had a terrible grip on the whole place, but its not as if the US or Australia was doing anything about getting rid of them just for the good of the country or the women for that matter. So for starters the whole reason they are there now is to do with security and the War on Terror, not to reclaim the autonomy of the Afghan nationals.

These days, it is just too dangerous for many of the international agencies to be there. Partly, this is because the local warlords (and Taliban, I think) associate non-affiliated groups with the US government. They have committed acts of aggression against them to make a very clear point to the public not to challenge their rule. In 2004, dearly beloved was a couple of days away from being sent back to assess the security situation, shortly after a targeted attack on the his colleagues who build hospitals and clinics. He didn't go, thankfully.

And about the poppy burning thing. Well the NY times says this year is going to be the biggest opium crop ever. "Although common farmers make comparatively little from the trade, opium is a major source of financing for the Taliban, who gain public support by protecting farmers’ fields from eradication, according to American officials. They also receive a cut of the trade from traffickers they protect." This article talks about people paying off the eradicators too - "If the government destroys our poppy, I will join the Taliban," said the farmer from Nadali" . Although that may just be a dodgy lefty propaganda rag.

The NY times also talks about needing to find alternatives, like high-paying legal crops, to actually be effective in controlling poppy cultivation. People grow to make money, not because they want to keep the Taliban in power.

About the Aus army's role - I watched a 4 corners special with one of the reporters embedded in a unit that goes into towns to do building, spending a day or so replacing a bombed school. It all actually looked really cool, and they came across really well as open honest Aussie soldiers just doing a day's work. But when you've been involved in warfare, part of the standard deal is to work on reconstruction isn't it?

But they did go in in full battle fatigues, with a tank in the lead and with soldiers in the hills all around to "secure the area". Mr B just tells me from personal anecdote that the downside for village leaders who collaborate with the army is that they can then get killed later by their rivals for collusion with enemy, which stops anyone else from bringing in services. In my opinion this is a warped and fucked up thing for the locals to be doing to themselves, and not something an Aussie soldier has much control over.

I've heard the relief agencies who know what they're doing make sure they stay separate from governments and militaries so people can accept their help, or do work for them in their own communities, without risking their lives. Also, I just wonder about how much the Aus military can spend on public relations, and get themselves on TV, and spread the word about their good works. I'd say it's a lot. So they've been very successful in communicating their aid activities, while playing down their primary role as a military force that supports the US in local security and helps them with their "war on terror".

And sure the Red Cross and MSF and Oxfam do a lot of publicity and fundraising too, but they also have to spend their funds on the ground, and they might actually build more for less in these remote areas? Also - there's water and sanitation, medicine and education to think about too. This is where my actual knowledge gets hazy and I start to rely on assumptions.... always a shaky position. I know for a fact that some readers have done higher studies in international relations so I'm a tad worried about sounding like an airy-fairy wide-eyed dunderhead on this issue.

I guess in the end the army is there, it has a situation to deal with, and I hope they're dealing with it in the most humanitarian way possible, not blowing civilians up, or killing many more animals, and trying to minimise the wider impacts to people that their presence causes. I just can't help think that Army is Army. They are trained in combat, first and foremost.

So I'll wrap it up there, and do some actual work rather than ranting off into the void. I think we are all in total agreement that Iraq is a total dogs breakfast, despite the desperate spin on it being important to keep the troops there. If you're still with me after all that, hi - thanks for reading. Comments welcome, keep em polite.

12 September 2007

bsharp in vunderland

There's a quote from Through the Looking Glass where the White Queen says "The rule is jam tomorrow, and jam yesterday, but never jam today".

I am finding the rain forecasts a little like that here. On Monday it was filthy drizzling on and off all day and the forecast was sun on Wednesday. Today it's overcast and threatening but the forecast is for sun tomorrow.

Sigh. More thrilling meterological updates coming soon.

Hey Sydney people - how's the city now that the barriers have come down? Are you watching The Chaser tonight and laughing your ass off? I've been reading the smh religiously, and couldn't help notice there was a long list of articles about barriers, planned protests, prevented protests, car towaways, traffic disruptions, bums against Bush and drizabone colour schemes that were very prominent. But you had to scroll aalll the way down to find scant information on what they were actually talking about. Seemed to be pandas mating, cheap imports from Indonesia, a chinese security pact (huh?) and a promise to do fuck all about rising greenhouse emissions. Did I miss something?

5 September 2007

Troops make another cock-up

Not content with the overarching experience of fear and violence of war, our Aussie troops in Afghanistan had to go and run over their own dog. That makes one "skylarking" death and one animal fatality on the Australian side. And what makes us think they are qualified for this 'reconstruction' effort?

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is mourning the death of an explosive detection dog that was accidentally killed by a light armoured vehicle (ASLAV) in Afghanistan.

The four-year-old blue heeler cross, named Merlin, was resting under an ASLAV serving with the reconstruction task force in Tarin Kowt when he was run over by his own troops.

4 September 2007

Notes from living the dream

1. Everything stays shut on Sunday here. I like this, it means people are keeping themselves a bit more balanced. But it does mean you've got to remember to go out and buy things like clothes airers on Saturday.

2. Homewares stores like "Blokker" and my local hardware place don't open till 1.00 pm on Monday. Now surely that's going a bit too far. Still don't have a clothes airer.

3. Tourist flats occasionally house drunk, arsehole, noisy tourists. At about 1am last night when all you Aussies would have been hard at work, possible downing a nice mug of latte, I was wide awake listening to drunken rants, arguments, and possibly songs, doors slamming that sounded like someone had dropped a bass drum down the stair well, and thumping on the glass doors, most likely from the flat below mine which is a short term rental. It was intensely annoying, and most definitely not dutch. Although if i covered my ears to create the swoosh of the ocean, then it was just about possible to pretend it was Bondi.

4. The dutch are by their genetic nature, helpful. A couple of weeks ago I bought some stamps from a heavily touristed area, and didn't realise till I got them home that some were "guilders" (the currency that went out with the Euro). Today I slapped a couple on a letter to the tax man, and then realised it might not get through. So I popped into the local newsagency to see if they thought it was enough currency. The older guy laughed and said - oh I just had to look to see if this was Eugenie or Beatrix on here. (Dutch queens) , I collect stamps you see, this could actually be worth a fews Euros, where did you get it?. But no I don't think it's enough for Australia. So I bought a new stamp, and added it next to poor old 1 guilder Queenie who was already attached, after offering the old stamp to the news agent. It can't have been worth that much as he declined. He also pointed out that I hadn't written Australia, only NSW, so would it get through? Nice.

3 September 2007

Follow-ups, corrections

Just clicked on the side bar to check out if there were any new songs on the erstwhile Tim Minchin's website.* And lo! discovered it has been linked to the personal page of Tim Min this whole time. So sorry for all those frustrated fans out there rattling round the internet keening "where is Tim? ... where is Tim?".

And Meririsa - sorry for going quiet after such a tantalising hint of eco-news. Actually it was just that I realised I had pretty much summed up my point in that one sentence. In particular the Waitrose supermarket chain has made a very mainstream campaign of promoting food and meat that is produced locally. I think it's called "British Food". The deli section had a whole series of unmissable signs promoting salmon, beef etc. Not exactly earth shattering, but it's nice to see things swinging back to a more sustainable idea of what's good to eat, etc. Also I saw a big ad for Scottish beef in the tube station featuring a strapping young man in a kilt.

It just seemed the awareness about food and the environment and also labelling about additives had taken a step forward since my last visit. All the wine we drank clearly said "contains sulphites" on the bottle - I guess lots of people round the world get that stuffy nose thing from a a nice red.

*and check in on his news blog - another one of my imaginary husbands**.
** The corral is growing with recent additions of David Tennant. I hope they get along.

26 August 2007


Hi folks, just quick one from my Auntie's luxury pad in the Midlands. (Eng-al-and) . I've been to London the past few days, done a stint in a suite with my ernest listening face on followed up by frantic typing and organising, battled the rain, the suffocating tube, the monstrous city. But I've also seen that eye-popping fluorescent green countryside that looks like it has been painted, mysterious chalked horses in the hills, a double ring of standing stones, and played a quiz show on the Ps2 that I felt oblided to lose to a 9-year old. Back to the 'dam on Tuesday, I'm enjoying the proximity of things here in the old word, and may get the train to France next week. La di da. By the way, the train from Amsterdam, to Brussles, to London, took about 5.5 hours. Flying back though - about the distance to Melbourne. Half way there with the carbon load. Oh yeh, remind me to tell you about the big push here to 'buy british' and to reject additives, etc,etc.

Altering history

First the CIA get busted, now the PM's office.

"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary." —1984, George Orwell, pg 36

10 August 2007

Cheese, boats and floats

You know, I really wish I had something insightful to share here. You move to a whole new continent and its meant to bring out deep revelations about culture, about being a "foreigner" about the underlying similarities of us all and the amusing differences.

But mostly it's beer, cheese on toast, going for walks in the afternoon, working remotely from my clients, and trying to remind Mr B to have dinner most nights. Just like home.

Oh yes, you read right, I've picked up a wee little bit of work. Actually the continuation of work from before, so that's all right. It seems as if the official emigration "to do" list is now:

- Get SoFi Nummer (like medicare/taxfile number combined I think)
- Register with Town Hall (requiring Birth Certificate, yikes, thanks Dad for filing that one!)
- Register as a "zelfstandige zonder personeel" (freelancer) with the Chamber of Commerce. Otherwise known as zzp.

As the Ginger would say "they don't mind a bit of a long word over here, do they?" Appointments booked for the first two, and seeking advice on the third. Yipeee.

So for this weekend our former housemates, the above mentioned Ginger and Jess are here. I'm surreptitiously blogging while they are looking at Van Gogh paintings. Soon we shall attempt to completely tire them out by riding in circles around Amsterdam.

Last weekend was hot, hot, hot in more ways than one. It topped about 28 degrees (sunbaking weather for sure) and there were lots of hot oiled bodies on display at the annual Gay Parade.

Here's a photo of a tiny fraction of the people that rolled out to watch it all afternoon. Note the significant audience who have rafted their boats up and were drinking and snacking on all afternoon. Click the photo to see the some of the boats tricked out for the parade. One thing that was a bit different from Mardi Gras at home, was a couple of big, well organised barges entered by companies, like ING finance, with their employees wearing matching t-shirts and doing co-ordinated routines. The TNT guys (courier and post service here) even had brown cardboard boxes in theirs. That was cool.

3 August 2007

Tooling around amsterdam

Today I went for some lap swimming in a real pool close to 50metres that was even outdoor. With NO heating! It was only 23 degrees here today. (Summer my ass) It felt really good to stretch out and swim, even though there were no lanes, it was pretty dirty and included children on floaty tubes.

At the moment, the lack of space isn't really bothering me - our apartment actually has more floor space than the pad by the beach and quite a big bathroom. For those of you who haven't shared a flat with yr ol' Aunty B, by way of explanation, the bathroom is a crucial private space/getaway/thinking zone/sulking area etc, and I come from a long tradition of bathers.

But I can understand the warnings of my Aussie friends with dutch connections who say when bad weather comes you can feel incredibly claustrophobic, and a ride in the park just doesn't help. So although today's pool was open air, I've found another one on the net - other side of the city, 50m and covered in winter. We're talking about 20 minute bike ride down the "bike freeways" as we dub them - the bike lanes tricked out in red asphalt and separated from the traffic usually with their own little curb. So that's something on the list for a winter remedy.

Funnily on the space and crowding theme, after the swim me and miss K headed straight for the sauna, a tiny room with so much steam you could hardly see, and proceeded to sit there sweating in close proximity to a pair of strangers, who had a quite Euro approach to personal space. That is, they don't give you much.

The other fun Amsterdam thing I'm looking forward to is Gay Parade on this Saturday. Like Mardi Gras but on boats. They say there's 70 or 80 boats this year. Looks like you peg out a place by the Prinsengracht (Princes canal - heh heh). There's a map of the route here. Without wanting to announce my address to the whole internet, lets just say there's a place on that line that is only a 2 minutes walk from ours. Will give a report and maybe post photos later..

1 August 2007

Life online

Alt title - The strange adventures of Betty Sharp on the internets. I just wanted to give all you readers an update that I think I finally managed to exorcise the on-line profile of Betty Sue, Peabody High, class of 73 . Now please don't think I've stolen the real Betty Sue (of the big bad city)'s moniker and started weird imaginary yankee versions of her on reunion sites.

Simply, about a full year ago I started getting email newsletters from Classmates.com to Betty Sue (who is probably a real actual flesh and blood lady from Utah) .

There was no obvious unsubscribe button , I just deleted them, hoping that she'd realise she hadn't got her confirmation and hence log in and change the damn email address. But no, I continued to get these crappy newsletters every week for a year. When I did try to unsubscribe it forced me to "register" and so then I had a user name and password, hence "Betty Sharp". At this juncture I had to rush to the mirror to check I hadn't sprouted a perm with frosted tips, or overly-plucked eyebrows, such was my identity confusion. How can this be, that I, Bee Sharp of Bondi, had a password for poor old Betty, in Nebraska or Omaha, or wherever the hell Schenley is? (that's the other school she entered to her profile in the optimistic hope of finding old buddies). Someone had even signed her guestbook this week.

Firstly, clicking "unsubscribe" just came up with an error message every time. I'm sure that kind of thing is illegal. Anyhoo, yesterday I finally manged to delete the whole profile - take THAT, Classmates dot com. Ha HA!

I do worry what the ramifications are for out Betty however. Does she feel an inexplicable emptiness or loss now that her online self is dead? Did she get a sharp pain in the liver when I pulled the plug? Are those actual classmates going to contact her in RL now that her profile just disappeared like that?

31 July 2007

the PM blogs

Hey, Johnny's back online with his diary! That is like, so totally, AWESOME. Hey can some some-one, you know, tell me when the election is called. I can't wait to SMS to the house.

26 July 2007

Moore on Terror

Oh yeh, how good is Australia looking right now? From Guardian International:

The backers of the Let's Get Ready Sydney campaign said it was a responsible promotion designed to prepare residents for unforeseen civil emergencies, including a terror attack.

Apart from the Go-Bags, which should also contain items such as a first-aid kit, spare change, energy bars and a radio, Sydney residents were asked to think about how they would contact friends and relatives during an emergency when mobile phone services were disrupted

As commented by Bizarro and Boy Bosun ". . . and make sure you have a boat ready to go too, that's the only way you'll get out of the Emerald city if the transport shuts down".

Self and others

Found this surfin' around today - from a Richard Flanagan interview in the Guardian. Flanagan has written the Unknown Terrorist and before that the luminescent Gould's Book of Fish.

There is a crisis that is not political - an epidemic of loneliness, of sadness - and we're completely unequal to dealing with it. We're obsessed these days with believing that the answer is always individual, that it lies in ourselves. This takes every form of madness from self-help manuals to step aerobics, and is always about improving yourself. But the reality is, it lies in other people and making connections with them, yet it is a world where it's ever harder to make those connections.

19 July 2007

The Big Issue

The promo team hits the jackpot!



16 July 2007

Weather or not

Its stormy today. This morning and yesterday morning there was thunder and a quiet downpour. Matty K described the thunder sounding like "boulders rolling down the train tracks", dgda,dgda,dgda,gd,gd,gd,d,d, - not like the massive ka-boom like in Sydney. Yesterday the rain cleared to allow a hot steamy sun to come through. At 5.30 pm we were sitting in the only beer garden in Amsterdam (apparently) enjoying the site of the sludgy brown canal and pasty white dutchies with their shirts off.

So this appears to be a very nanna-like post about the weather. Hm. What else can I tell you? I'm enjoying the way the Europeans make things to fit .. "just so".

The power points are recessed to the wall so the plug fits flush, my dishwasher and fridge are laminated on the outside just like the cupboards so the whole kitchen has one type of surface, the tap on the bath is marked in degrees centigrade - so you know exactly how hot that water is. (There's even a spot next to 38, ah).

From what I can see so far the Dutch like to neaten their social policies too, so that there is heaps of personal liberty - but within its proper boundaries. Smoke yourself stupid on weed of course, but you can only buy it in specially licensed shops and not on the street, please. Bonk as many prostitutes as you like, but they only work in one district, they are all licensed, paying full tax, and working strictly to rule. It's all ... just so.

12 July 2007

In the Dam

Made it everybody! Thanks for all the wonderful warm well wishes, sorry about leaving my toothbrush, Miss J (dur), and sorry and sad to leave you all, it still hasn't really sunk in yet that I'm here for more than just a few weeks. I guess it will when the ten thousand boxes arrive in a couple of months.

When I got to KL it was about 9 pm local time and I was due for about 1.5 hour wait before boarding the next plane. However , reading the boards showed that not only had my gate changed but that the flight was delayed until 7.30 the next morning! I couldn't quite believe it so I queued at the transfers desk and duly received a dinner voucher and a night's accommodation in the airport. A strange and spooky hour or so spent duty free shopping and eating a few dumplings when my body clock said it was about 1am but the airport was all bright, all the high class shops open and a lanky man was doing cigar rolling demos outside the Habanas shop.

Didn't sleep too well though as the air conditioning was set to arctic and I was just paranoid about missing the rescheduled plane. But nevertheless, more than 30 hours after setting out from Sydney I made to Schipol, and Mr B was there waiting.

So I'm in the new pad, it's lovely, there was a summer outdoor dance festival just outside the door last night! It's very much in the dead centre of the city, but I have trouble viewing amsterdam like any other city as most buildings are only 3 or 4 stories high. In the next few days the plans are to get all housey and domestic (bugger, that nice quilt cover might be 12 weeks away!) take a few photos of canals, work out some activities for the folks, and try not to think much about work.

Signing off, from the 'dam.

6 July 2007

Take me

I mean, take my freakin wardrobe. Do you know how hard it is to get rid of stuff in this town? I've had this giant wardrobe on freecycle - 52 people have looked at the photo - no-one wants to come and get it. This is for nuthin! Salvo truck can't come till Thursday, so if I put it out on leaving day it will get fucked up in the rain. Too busy with other deliveries to drop it off to big salvo centre on Saturday, Council will only take 1 cubic metre, and the bloody bower are notoriously picky. Although they are my next call. Take about disposability and affluenza. Sheesh! It's just that much more convenient to buy one at Ikea, I guess. Bsharp, signing off in deep moving frustration.

5 July 2007

3 July 2007

Phone tag

Someone left a message on my phone today that consisted of about 10 seconds of rather moody trumpet. It sounded like a guy blowing a tune in a bar in Cuba. No voice message or anything. It was quite soothing, so thanks, whoever that was.

In other news - about 6 big cartons packed only another million to go. I used the freecycle yahoo group for the first time yesterday - brilliant! Got a whole lot of keen beans who want to come to the flat to take my stuff away. Tops! Definitely lightning the load for the evil clean out on Saturday.

While I'm at it - does anyone want some things like:
an iron and table top ironing board
some teeny tiny saucepans (really for sauces!)
one of those sets of plastic office drawers for paper and such..

Let me know in comments. (you have to live in my town, dur)

26 June 2007

Hard- core?

Apparently not.

Online Dating

My rating is based on the frequency of the words "bomb" and "hell". So why didn't it pick up "motherfucker" and "bitch" and "priapic", I wonder?

16 June 2007


So I didn't win the Invade Rage competition. Darn it, some 17 year old did. Far out, what the hell does a 17-year have to offer in this department? My list was going firmly for a good, clean fun night of guest programming. Here it is.

  1. Mediate - Inxs
  2. Sex dwarf – Soft cell
  3. Pure Morning - Placebo
  4. Praise you – Fat boy slim
  5. Its oh so quiet - Bjork
  6. Safety dance - men without hats
  7. Rat Race – Specials
  8. Trio – Da da da
  9. Connection – Elastica
  10. If that’s your boyfriend – Meshell Ndegeocello
  11. Big Bottoms – Spinal Tap
  12. Smells like teen spirit – Nirvana
  13. City of Tiny Lites – Frank Zappa
  14. Steriogram – Walkie Talkie Man
  15. Thunderbirds are Coming Out – TISM
  16. Satisfaction – Benny Benassi
  17. Hotel Zorba - White Stripes
  18. No Pussy Blues – Grinderman
  19. The Ship Song – Nick Cave
  20. I was only 19 (Walk in the light green) – The Herd

14 June 2007

They're watching

I'd just like to say a cheery "hello!" to whoever has been dropping in from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade internet IP address. I can see you in web-stats, you know.

Just to clarify, when I said earlier that there was a "nice" little quote about the protesters getting harassed by the APEC strike force, I was using sarcasm. I didn't think it was nice at all. I thought it was sad, and more that a little worrying to see how our government is proud of its control over public assembly. I thought it was appalling to read about the forces taking video of the protesters, who were exercising their democratic right to disagree with public policy.

What are you doing over their reading narky blog posts on work time? I thought ASIO kept the dossier, sheesh. And if you're trawling for quotes by your Minister, well really, you should know better.

12 June 2007

Sand-level rise

This is normally a bitumen road, a good metre or more above the level of the beach. After 3 days of storms, most of the beach ended up in the carpark however. Today they had earthmoving equipment out there to put it all back.

11 June 2007

Oh Downer

I know I only have a very small readership, and I'm very fond of all five of you. So being intelligent and sensitive types, you probably already knew this, but I just wanted to point out that our Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, is a liar. Here's some prime porky pies from a recent article in the SMH.
"To reduce China's emissions by 50-60 per cent and to do that in Australia as well - wherever you do it, at least in most countries - would be absolutely crippling."

To live with the effects of climate change would be far more crippling. Wheat, wool, tourism.. you name it, its affected by more frequent storms, unpredictable rains, and heat-waves. And the rate Australia's going we'll have international sanctions against our mineral exports before too long, for being nasty small minded pricks in international negotiations.
Australia could not match a country like Germany in cutting emissions from 1990 levels because of the shutdown of former East Germany's heavy-polluting industry.

What? I thought Germany also did a lot to meet their targets through wind power and energy efficiency. And they started working on it straight after they signed in 1997. Yes, Downer 10 years ago. 10 years in which Australia signed their intention to join, got an exemption to increase emissions, and then refused to ratify.

Mr Downer said if there was going to be a global agreement on climate change, it had to be multi-faceted. "It would be an enormous mistake to think that you could persuade the whole world to accept a one-size fits all approach."

Yes, it does, and yes it would. The approach is called the Kyoto Protocol. It entered into force on 16 Feb 2005. It is an international agreement written between 1990 and 1997 with staged targets, "flexible mechanisms" (that's a legal name for a methodology devised by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Downer, it means "multi-faceted") and a thing called "cleaner development mechanisms" - which is how rich countries can reduce emissions in poor countries, and use them to meet their own targets.

Mr Downer said China and other developing nations had a duty to improve living standards.

"You can't just say they should cripple their economies and people should remain endlessly in poverty. You have to find a way where China can gradually reduce its, if you like, CO2 emissions but at the same time its economy can continue to grow.

We have found a way, you obsfucating liar, liar, liar pants on fire. Its the basic premise of Kyoto. That rich countries have had over 200 years of benefit from industrialisation and wealth from fossil fuels. SO WE GO FIRST. Get it? We work out how to do the reductions, then after a 10 year period, the "developing" nations do too. "We" being nations who are responsible for 55% of the world's emissions. At the time, China and India signed up to say "yes, our time's coming, we'll make cuts too when you have had a red hot go." They are just standing by their international agreements by saying they don't want to hurt their economies right now.

10 June 2007

BSharp's horrible no-good weekend

First, there was the insane stormy Friday. Tried to sleep through Thursday night with the rooftop door groaning and banging in gale force coastal winds because it has swollen in the rain and doesn't fit in the doorframe. Winds that beached a coal tanker in Newcastle. Battled on into town, thankfully to get a desk at the city office of large government agency that I am working for. Got drenched at lunchtime and one the way home, to meet up with MJS who had been diligently working away in the pad amidst windows rattling, water getting in the gaps and wind howling all day.

Saturday morning faced the Great Computer Crash of 2007. No internet, so server, no client files. nothing. Couldn't even get the keyboard to register key stokes on the monitor. Frantic calls to Mr Biz where it was 3am. Client who needs to submit massive report of which I am the editor, this weekend, still sending chapters, revisions etc. End up spending 3 hours in an internet cafe, doing revisions and edits alongside World of Warcraft and Myspace geeks. Car share booking extended and extended into the raining, pouring night. Decided to fill up car with petrol and return at 7.15 , as there had been no night time booking all afternoon. Walk home in howling wind.

Back home at night with coaching from Amsterdam, manage to get the server re-started and functionality of internet restored. Still no server, or client folders.

Sunday morning. Call from carshare- have to take bus to different car today, because the one booked for today has flat battery (not my fault). Find out GOT FINED FOR LAST NIGHT, as someone was waiting until 7.12pm, and operators couldn't reach Amsterdam number that is registered against our bookings. Meanwhile, chugging away on report, while intrepid sister is out and about in rank and violent weather conditions. Horrible, bad, no good weekend.

7 June 2007

Apec schmapec

Couple of things. John Quiggin has kindly posted his latest Financial Review article on his blog, talking about why it is stupid of Howard to try to put forward a Kyoto alternative to climate change at the APEC summit (Today dubbed a "Sydney Declaration", sheesh).
The idea of pursuing an ‘Australian solution’ independent of the rest of the world, is a dangerous fantasy. Unless we ratify Kyoto as soon as possible, and rejoin the international mainstream, we risk finding that the rest of world has reached an agreement without us.

Then, a nice little descriptions of how protesters were met by the "APEC security command" at the Shangri-la last night. They say:

We simply wanted to go there to make our point, but the police didn't want to let that happen - it was very intimidating behaviour," he said.

When we arrived the police presence was already overwhelming - they immediately tried to move us back, so there was no chance to have the protest.

They also shone very bright lights in everyone's eyes, presumably to take video footage.

5 June 2007

Round the world

My dear friend, Miss FiFi L'amour, just sent photos from China of her with the little girl they have gone over to adopt. Miss F and DR rockstar first officially put themselves forward to adopt three years ago. She had started on fertility treatment when she and her partner of nearly 10 years decided to ask the department of community services about adopting a baby from overseas. In this state, you apply for approval from our government first and then the overseas government. From early on you have to enter a "country" program - it's not just open to the whole world's children. In China some baby girls are abandoned who are raised in orphanages that have official adoption arrangement with Australia.

It has sounded like an extraordinary process with lots of preparation for the tough times as well as the joy of a new baby. Their little one is 15 months old, and I'm looking forward to meeting her when she gets here! And not just to expand the portfolio of critters who can call me Aunty B, honest. Miss F says, its been a long pregnancy - but at least she could keep drinking through it.

4 June 2007

Gratuitous quotes

From Pirates of the Carribean 3
She's a woman scorned, the fury the like of which hell hath no.

Close your eyes and pretend it's all a bad dream. That's how I get by.

"Up is down"? Well, that's just maddeningly unhelpful.

29 May 2007

Starry skies

Well the support from the Astronomy sector for the big move keeps on coming.. Mystic medusa says:
You're so open-minded at any rate, the whole world knows it and yet now you are ideally entertaining a new degree of flexibility re where you live or conduct business. Something is shifting, if only your fantasies or business plan.

Phew. Not fighting the planetary alignments on that one hopefully. Anyway, kats and kittens, sorry if I've been terribly vague this last week or so. The forecast says that is set to continue. I shall be flying my Southern arse down to de-laide this weekend for a fleeting goodbye to the folks. (And dump more stuff at their house, ah how they love having a 30-something teenager in the family!)

Hang in there, with only sporadic buzz. I'd love to give you all more stories of interesting things, and things that are going on outside the brain-pan of my endlessly fascinating self, but sorry, there's just too much fretting on the forward plan to post interesting critiques and articles, etc. If you're into that kind of thing, there's some stuff from back in 2004, or 2005 that you might like.

25 May 2007

Change of plans

So clearly, we didn't all go to see the pirates movie this week. Angel, I hope you got my text where I hopelessly bailed on the whole thing because I'm working regular days but with 3.5 hours commuting in them. I'm going through what miss J did a year ago - ouch now I understand the brain-fade phenomena of having all your mental capacity sucked up by the feat of travelling hundreds of kilometres each day.*

And I've even been too mashed to write up our amazing farewell to mr b - which involved city drinks, pirate costumes, an overcrowded karaoke room, and many renditions of songs that really should not be sung from table tops after mid night, from yours truly. Oh dear, that frustrated musical theatre performer inside that has been neglected since yr 11 got a full airing last week. Hope you all enjoyed.

* one week down, only 5 to go.

13 May 2007

Coming Soon

It's actually Thursday. MAY 24 in Australia.

Who's in? The lovely Miss Fifi L'amour will be in China when this is on, so we won't have her customary yelping at the opening scene, but nevertheless... The George St website is listing 6pm and 9.30 so far, but I imagine there will be more on the night, surely.

7 May 2007

Magic number

Somehow, I've managed to post 8 times a month for the last 4 months. Its not on purpose, even for my hyper-categorising brain. I wanted to break out of the pattern last month, but didn't manage to.

So on the whole moving-to-Europe front... Bizzo has started loading the place up with half-filled boxes as he leaves a lot sooner than me. Like, in 2 weeks, sooner. All my RL friends - you should have an email waiting about dates and stuff.

I am very soon going to transfer my mental to-do list into some kind of real action as I think that mad gleam in my eyes is starting to get distressing for clients. It's that gleam you get when you're thinking - "oh my god I've got to do tax/bills/get rid of furniture/shut the electricity off/update my cv/feed myself/see my Mum/throw out more stuff/get on a plane to the otherside of the world/etc." Everyone gets that don't they.. Oh not you? Oh I guess its just me then.

Anyway, last week Astrobarry said "in short, this is your best year all decade to move beyond your limited conceptions of what outer-world achievements are possible or desirable for you… " So I'm just hanging on to that.

More to come.

23 April 2007


I'd officially like to invite readers to comment whenever they feel so inclined over here. There's even a couple of ladies who can post, who are most welcome to still, although I know these things can get a bit mono-loguey. Don't feel it has to be on topic. Here's some helpful examples:

"Hey B, did you ever get to the hairdresser to have those foils?" A: no, I really need a haircut now, can anyone recommend someone who can do it for less that the price of an opera ticket?

"Aunty B, what do you think of the relationship between Jean Paul Sartre and Simone DeBeauviour?" Well it seemed little fucked up with the sexual competition, and the way they used young women almost as intermediaries, but living in hotels to avoid domestic labor divisions by gender was classy. Way classy.

"Sharpie, we've heard rumours about your beau and some overseas job, and what the hell is going on over there?"
Oh, yeah , did I not mention that? I'm moving to Amsterdam. In a couple of months. More on that later, dear reader. Brace your selves for a lengthy angsty account of the packing, preparing, moving, and living in a city that is slowing sinking into the sea. And perhaps the start of the clog blog. Ah-hahahaaha.

22 April 2007

Stormy weather

There is the most awesome storm thundering over my place at the moment. I walked into the kitchen as there was an impressive lightning flash that lit up the whole room like a horror film, and then a magnificent clap of thunder. The rain is now lashing the windows and it's just like being inside the captain's cabin on a pirate ship .. .well that's what I like to imagine anyway (erhem). And just now I put on a self-heating wild peach and cranberry and face mask which is making for a very strange mix of sensations let me tell you. Oh yeah, I've been home alone all afternoon working, how did you guess?

But really the lightning is like something else, it's making the room go white even though the lights are on. Sadly from the weather radar it looks like all the action is on the coast, and none out at our very dry drinking-water-gathering areas.

Happiness in Black Town

Another thing I'm doing at the moment is catching the train out a long way from the Sydney CBD a couple of days a week to do work in a really big office. It's okay actually. Nice long ride for a bit of editing or reading or sleeping.

Yesterday I went into a giant mega-mall, to visit the chemist. I'd just had lunch on my own at a cafe (paid too much) and was looking for shoe inserts, also really needed to cash a cheque and get back to the office to look like a good worker, and worth the expense. So I went to pay and the young woman says "Hi how are you today?" and I say in my usual distracted monotone "good thanks". And she replies "You don't look too happy". My mouth just about dropped open in surprise at this statement. I must have had my steely determined city /eastern suburbs face on, and looked kind of miserable. I wasn't I was just concentrating, honest!

Maybe you cross an invisible border between cultures on the western line where people are that much more blunt and honest, like when Argentinians say "hey there skinny" when they want to get your attention and it doesn't occur to anyone to take offense.

Reality bites

Last week I helped to organise a bit of PR for The Big Issue magazine. The promotions team in Sydney are all volunteers, and I've been going to meetings and helping out on the organisational side, (like circulating notes from meetings, etc) but I've feared I've been one of those lame volunteers who talk a lot about what we all could do - and then doesn't actually do any of the things.

So we're trying to get this program of celebrity vendors together, right, except we have a slight problem in the lack of celebrities. One team member hooked up a dinky-di Aussie actress who used to be on the telly a lot and now does plays. So in a flurry of excitement I was super happy to do a fairly standard bit of promotion, and not be about as useless as tits on a bull on the team. Basically we get the celeb to sell with the vendor for an hour at lunch and at the least gain a bit of visibility on the street for the mag, hopefully a bit of media coverage, and boosted sales for one guy that day who was having a crap week. I also spruiked for our vendor(s) for an hour at lunch wearing a terrible red t-shirt, so I'm feeling pretty righteous about that.

But what I wanted to talk about here was going into The Sydney office on a weekday to do a bit of press stuff. See , normally the meeting are at night and its just us keen-o PR types trying to salve our souls from the banality we deal in during the day (well me, anyway, not everyone on the team does spin for a living, one is in the Australian Federal Police). So during the day the office is where the vendors go to pick up their mags and have a sit down and an instant coffee and read the paper.

It was a bit of stark reminder that these dudes, are, well, . . . homeless.

I know that sounds stupid because, der, that's why I'm volunteering right. Just, I'm not proud to admit, the experience did raise a bit of middle class fear in me. One guy came in to buy one magazine and one on credit and 3 cigarettes. Another guy was scouring the accommodation pages for a cheap one-bedroom place for him and his girlfriend and was ringing up social services to get a delivery of canned food to his place, and another had a big bundle of forms to submit for emergency housing. I became pretty aware of the nice digital camera in my bag, my wallet and phone, and so on - the fear of the 'haves' of one day 'not having'.

So I got a little anxious for a few minutes, but it went away, because everyone in that office is pretty focussed on working for themselves or for the mag. It's their daily reality to get their mags and sell and they couldn't really give a shit about some prissy volunteer who's in once a month or so.

Not surprisingly, the dailies didn't pick up the story, but we may have something in the City Weekly, keep an eye out. Oh and if you haven't done so, buy The Big Issue. I'm sure you all do anyway.

16 April 2007

You tube monday

Lyrics by Michael Hutchence, Visuals by Captain Jack Sparrow. One for the ladies.

11 April 2007

Travel and transport

In Melbourne, one can glide through the city on rails. I absolutely love that you can toddle on to the number 96 tram and go from the inner north (Fitzroy, Brunswick street) that is full of funky bars, street art and woo woo clothes stores and be in St Kilda Beach about 25 minutes later, strolling along the picturesque if somewhat stinky waterfront.Yes, their inner city is set out in a grid pattern on a plain and I realise some people who have grown up with Sydney's crooked street plan set out by crooked officials and crooked landowners may find that a little dull. But the surrounds are offset at about 45 degrees to the city and it makes for a pleasing transition and keeps the visitor happy with a new view as the tram swings around in a graceful arc. Buenos Aires and Havana are also set out in a strict grid and they are buzzy exciting cities with lots of laneways and intersections were art and music breed.
Consider how over here in the Emerald City to get from Newtown (equivalent inner city suburb to Ftizroy that has street art and people who wear ropes in their hair) to the beach, you have to get on a train to central, change at the underground platform to take the spur that only goes halfway to the beach, and then get off and get a bus down the hill, usually standing up by this stage and jammed under the armpit of some 6ft swede with a surfboard, at least 1.5 hours later. Your other choice is a bus to the city, then walk about 3 blocks near Hyde Park and get a second bus that goes all the way to the beach but is pre-paid only. Anyway you do the whole trip, without multi-trip tickets or concessions you can't get away with less that about $5.40 one way. Melbourne's version is about $4.00 for a 2-hour transfer.

And don't even get me started on my trip back to the flat from Sydney airport. Deciding to try to use the state services* I ended up home after about 100 minutes, travel sick and confused after a journey that is only about 20 km direct, having passed through Mascot, Eastgardens, Maroubra, and Randwick on the only ordinary, non-shuttle bus service that goes via the airport.

* I could say this was a choice to avoid a cab, for my emissions footprint but that would be a bit rich after just burning all that airline fuel to get back**. Really it was to do with feeling a little skint after lots of shows, meals and the odd bit of shoe shopping.
**Offset, by the way, offset!

9 April 2007


Greetings from Melbourne! Just a quick post as internet cafe prices here are a little extortionate...

Me and the indomitable mjs have seen a record of 9 comedians over three nights! The first night added up to 7 because we went to the festival club and saw a showcase.

Highlights were Geraldine Quinn, Puppet Up by Jim Henson's company (basically theatre sports with puppets) and a Welsh guy called Mark Watson. Dave's show is a cracker too - really formed up into a smooth story with lots of smart laughs. I'll add links later when I'm back home.

2 April 2007

Gig review- V Festival

A few impressions from my Saturday.

V festival (i.e. Virgin festival) officially started at 1 pm but I didn't get there till 4pm. Partly due to a pretty late night the night before, and partly that doing anything in a coordinated fashion with my friends is actually impossible. But that's okay because I didn't even know the names of any of the acts playing before 5pm.

It finished at 10 (finally a festival I can actually manage, without collapsing like a crispy fried chip at the end). Just incidentally - that makes it $20 per hour for 6 hours.

It was heavily branded. Those big visual spaces covering the speakers at the side of the stage were slathered with Virgin mobile advertising. There were people carrying things that looked like those little paddles people have at art auctions with "eclipse" written on them - for spotting your mates in the crowd. I think this was brand of minty chewy thing. I think there was a generic "bar" but more obviously there was a Jagermeister tent, a Coopers tent and smirnoff cocktail bar. It was a tad depressing.

Many women dress like they are going to the disco. Strapless boob-tube dresses, footwear I can only describe as "pumps", elastic belts, the lot. Just as well it stayed not raining till ten pm or there would have been a few ruined precious little shoesies in the mud let me tell you. What ever happened to shorts and docs, is what I want to know.

The highlights for me were hearing Jarvis Cocker sing "the c_nts are still ruling the world" as his closing song, the whole of the Pixies set (oh my god Kim Deal you look like you have just come off tuck shop duty but those are some kick arse riffs), and finding out the New York dolls do a fine line in blues harmonica.

I've actually officially given up festivals, so these was like a little re-lapse, based on pure pixies love. So that might be why I felt a little detached from the whole thing - onlt caught a couple of Groove Armada tracks from the very very back. Also it was a bit of a shit, because Pet Shop Boys were on 10 minutes before pixies and at entirely the same time as 2 Many DJs who are meant to do a really fun set - so I missed both. I guess this was because they has a limit on the closing time. Also Beck did a really crap set, even though he had the best visuals, with a puppet show going on and beamed onto the big screens.

27 March 2007


Well bugger me, David Hicks has pleaded guilty to the charges of terrorism. Otherwise known as "going to fight for the other side and providing world leaders with an opportunity to look tough".

If he does make it quick smart back to Australia in time for an election, and is shoved away in an Australian jail, I wonder whether he'd be hero or villain to other inmates.

25 March 2007

famous mates

All the cool kids are apparently on MySpace. Just doing a bit of catching up on the world of musos and comedians to see that both Dave and the Bit by bat kids are going great guns. Rip it Up says of Dave's Adelaide show..
Bloustien is a 'thinking person's comedian' who, via the hilarity of his many dry observations, makes some really interesting points. The addition of a xylophone to help the audience separate fact from fiction was a fun touch and used to great effect throughout the show.

and the Bats, on their first full album on returning from a music festival in Canada, get:
"the best Cure album in the last 2 decades."

bwahahahahaha! Hi Pete! I've got yr Siouxie poster up as the feature of my home office in case you're reading. I use all that stuff you taught me about interesting writing every day now.. Good luck on the Australia tour!

Oh, and also this:
Forget the portly, in-it-for-the-money Pixies reunion. Don't bother with the new Stooges album. Instead, get thee to a store for the Bit By Bats album, where the Melbourians give us energised post-punk rythms mixed with real melodies, lashings of choppy and sometimes vicious guitars mixed with danceable basslines..
from the SMH no less. Aunty B feeling decidedly dowdy right now, the closest I've got to new music recently is some Kaiser Chiefs and Regina Spektor.

Watching: The rain out the window
Reading: Greer (a biography)
Listening to: Jolene (Dolly Parton's original version)

22 March 2007

Reasons to be cheerful

1) My team of 4 came 3rd in pub trivia on Tuesday night. Third! We were just one or two points off second which gets you $25 to spend at the bar. It's because our pop and media diva (not me) knew every the real name of every cast member of Beverly Hills 90210. And the Roberta Flack back catalogue. And there was only one cricket question.

2) Blood test results back say I've just got slightly low b12 levels. Not really scary, but haven't heard if there's a gnarly little bacteria down there.

3) Have been swimming at the beach on 4 days out of the last 6.

4) Two new direct requests for work this week. In the meantime didn't get a tender that was put in under competitive conditions, but it's nice to be asked without competitors, no?

5) Have been sharing the flat with the irrepressible Mr B since October. (thats nearly 5 whole months, some kind of record I think). His mad Aquarian stars are lining up and throwing out all kinds of interesting opportunities, so hopefully he doesn't feel quite so institutionalised these days.

6) Going to the Melbourne comedy festival over Easter with my crazy sister. We are determinedly not going to talk about work. (much)

Alternative title - Bsharp counts her blessings - one of the keys to happiness, apparently. (At least 5 required, daily).

13 March 2007

Word of the week

dyspepsia (dĭs-pěp'shə) - 1. Disturbed digestion; indigestion 2. a disorder of digestive function characterized by discomfort or heartburn or nausea

dyspeptic (dĭs-pěp'tĭk) - 1. Pertaining to, subject to, or suffering from dyspepsia; 2.Gloomy, pessimistic and irritable, n. a person subject to or suffering from dyspepsia.

This is the term the GP used yesterday to describe the symptoms I was reporting (yet again) in the last couple of weeks. She used it to differentiate the upper part of the digestive tract from the lower which is more likely to be associated with irritable bowel syndrome, which, while a very glamorous blog post topic, does not appear to be what I suffer from. And let me just inform you dear reader, that each year, this tricky bloody tract seems to knock your Aunty B just that bit harder. I am teetering on the edge of blogging all symptoms tests and treatments to try to make some sense of the whole thing and perhaps capture the medical wisdoms of mermaidgrrrl (after she's delivered a healthy baby and back to her own usual rosy state of health of course).

But for now, let me retreat into metaphor. In a freaky intercontinental convergence dyspepsia is the word chosen just a few days ago by Momus to describe his reaction to a new blog which focuses on marketing, market research and the consumer-over-all culture of the world. A term closely related to bilious, also both an emotional and physical state. Two well justified responses in a nation whose governments pays for fighter jets over climate change strategies, where we have a seemingly flexible approach to human rights and torture of citizens, where we do energy efficiency by flier drop, and where Dancing with the Stars is our top rating TV show (for example).

So in the last 24 hours or so I have enough time in a doctor's waiting room, a pathology lab and a cafe to get through two editions of Marie Clare, one of Who, one of New Weekly and one of New Woman, all in Sydney's highest income belt. Page after page of belts, A-line skirts, patent heel shoes, natural-look makeup, party-look makeup, win Cameron Diaz's outfit, win Kylie's new fragrance, win a summer wardrobe, how to survive the sales, how to avoid a yeast overload (strictly vodka with no sugar mixer apparently), where to get a bling watch, look at the pretty shiny things ladies, look! look! It was like a whirlwind of glitter and frou and razzle and dazzle not to mention the endless parade of Brit, J-lo, Lindsey, Liz, Gwen, Kylie, Nic and Paris. Boobies! Eyebrows! Bellies! Hair! Skin tone! Eyeshadow, darling eyeshadow. With sparkles. So much lip gloss you could just drown in it, become engrossed, swallow it whole, drink it down and and keep on swallowing. So maybe the cure for my ills lies not in the actual tests in these labs - blood tests, breath tests,* and wot not, its in the magazines. Read them, read them, stop analysing, stop chewing it over, stop bringing stuff up, stop with the dyspeptic disposition young lady. Not to want to labour a point or anything.

*nb - it'll be iron , various vitamin b levels, liver function, and heliobacter being sought out this time, for medi-nerds out there. Next might be a camera down the gullet. Stay tuned for more blog fun if that happens.

11 March 2007

Its just a jump to the left...

Apart from borrowing from Miss J's series of song lyric-post-titles, just wanted to point you all in the direction of an article from The Age, by Micheal Leunig called "Leftie me"..

It has come to my notice that there is an impressive number of columnists, intellectuals and commentators - mostly serious, highly educated men, who spend much time studying and much energy proclaiming my depraved leftism, carefully combing through my words and my drawings of little ducks, looking for contradictions and moral tumours with a passion and diligence that would seem beyond the call of duty.

. . . there is also evidence of some fierce, kinky desire to strip me naked and administer humiliation - and presumably, having escalated themselves to that threshold, to then disembowel me and eat a piece of my flesh by way of stealing my secret and magical left-wing pixie powers.

But leftism is not an easy or magical ride these days, for despite the fantastic drugs and wild sex, certain new problems have emerged.

Found via Null Device.

8 March 2007

Climate Criminal

Me n Mr Biz saw this while driving on the Newcastle Freeway. Its an imported HUMV or Hummer.

Sadly, taking a photo up that close probably made the dude think we were fans. I suppose we were freeway users at the time too, albeit in a borrowed Ford laser.

4 March 2007

The Kids are Alright Pt 3

I wrote this down while I was sitting on a bus going from the North Shore towards the city. It was a group of school students, sitting behind me. It was about the visit of Dick Cheney to Sydney.

"They closed the bridge just so he could have lunch with John Howard"

"Yeah, and the tunnel"

"And they changed the NSW State laws to allow the bodyguards to carry pistols"

"That's fucken disgusting."

"Yeh, cause if they shoot a citizen they're immune."

22 February 2007

Here's mud in yer eye

Last post was my 300th, since I started blogging in 2003. And to mark the occasion the New Zealand Photos are up on Flickr. (Click the photo)

Oh yeah, and in a couple of hours I'll be 31.

Video Gems

Ah., you tube...

Sex Dwarf live by Marc Almond/Soft Cell.
Apparently you have to join up or sign in to see the original clip, because its over 18! But this one is worth it for the intro and "They all love your miniature ways" What the fuck?

Interlude by Morrisey and Siouxsie. Dull video, lovely song that's a bit hard to get.

I know what boys like by The Waitresses. Great song. Terrible outfits. "I got my cat moves" Oh deary me.

This post needs speakers really.