Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In which Duck has a few drinks and gets warm & fuzzy

I must be having one of those in-synch moments with Kate, because I, too, have been spending a bit of my time (mostly whilst pedalling fast down Canberra's superb bike paths) thinking about blogging and my motivations for writing online.

I'm a surface social person, inwardly quite shy, and I've always found most humans quite impenetrable. I ride/walk/mosey through life seeing people as mobile mysteries which will never be solved or understood. However, I'm constantly curious about what motivates them. As an army brat, I never had long-term friendships, and never had the chance to know people over years of interaction. I'm very good at having long, deep, meaningful interactions with total strangers at a bus stop, or an art opening, or at the supermarket, but also very good at running away when there's the chance of making a close friend. Interaction! Responsibility! Intimacy! Scary! Thank goodness for people like Best Beloved and Zoe who just kept coming around until I couldn't do without them.

However, and I'll stick with a oceanic theme here (since I've helped organise a pirate-themed face-to-face meet-up with whichever Canberra bloggers can be arsed turning up – very scary!), blogging has allowed me to wander through a crowd of people and not see a crowd of closed-up oyster shells, but a crowd of potential pearl containers. Who knows what those closed-up faces, not meeting eye-contact, contain? They might not be looking around engagingly, but they could be composing their next post as they wander to work!

When I blog, I interact with other humans without physicality, and that appeals to me a lot. I find people so interesting, and blogging never fails to surprise me. I write to people I would probably never get the chance to talk to, even if we were in the same room. I know you are a heady mix of academics, executives, nerds, geeks, right-wing extremists, etc etc etc. Who cares? We're in hyperspace. We're all equal. I love it. And when I do meet people, it's a blast. I've never been so happy about meeting people before. You probably know more about me than my partner does! (because he doesn't read my blog.) And there's no harm in that (as long as you keep some of this crap to yourselves :) ).

A newly outed lurker on my blog, Whitebait, writes in his 'About' section:

this blog might die on its ass without warning. but you know the best thing about it: like a significant number of other blogs it is a gift. Maybe one of those gifts you will want to hide in the back of the closet until the relative who gave it to you makes that unexpected visit, but nevertheless a gift. You don't have to pay for it and there will be no advertisements. Whitebait hopes there is something in here that sparks a moment of interest or pleasure.

I don't care how long I blog for. What I've got out of it will stay with me for the rest of my life. It's a hoot. When it stops being a hoot, I'll stop doing it.

OK, now to go to bed to sleep off the bottle of wine I've drunk tonight at dinner while Zoe babysat. You're all beautiful. Zigactly. I don't think I'll regret this in the morning, but you never can tell…

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Duck Needs... home time

GAH! Soooooooo frigging bored! I hate Tuesdays! Lots to do, and none of it needs a brain at this particular workplace. Much more important work to do at home, and unable to get to it.

Decided to follow the yellow brick road from Quirkie to Fluffy to me and play with Google a bit. You type "(your name) needs" into Google and post the first 10 results.

You can tell I'm bored when I make myself do a meme. But this was fun. Since I've proved (somewhere on For Battle) that no-one else but me has my real name, I just typed "Duck needs". Look what I got, in no particular order. I couldn't decide what to cull (sorry), so there's 15.

1. duck needs some friends to hang out with
2. What this duck needs is an interior designer.
3. If a duck needs to go somewhere fast, it flies.
4. Duck needs to be properly prepared to be palatable.
5. duck needs bronze work
6. duck needs help – from all the animals.
7. DUCK needs good people, with strong hands to help us run many of our events.
8. duck needs a name
9. Every little duck needs to have fun and have a friend
10. The DUCK needs you. He can't do it alone.
11. The duck needs to be in your hand so you can match the bill and feet to the
12. The duck needs to be as crispy as possible.
13. A duck needs no lessons in duckmanship.
14. "Duck Needs Being Ducked"
15. Remember the duck needs to continue to continue peddling [sic] otherwise it will sink.

I think that last one is my favorite. I wonder if it's a South African duck?

Don't cry, little blossom! It's your birthday!

Happy Birthday Lucy Tartan!

Here's a balloon, just for you.

Postscript: Since it's another Boring Tuesday (a meme in itself), here's also a link to a fun read about iconic landmarks in Canberra. It ties in with the SSB sculpture meme.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Random Acts of Kindness are the Bomb

Scene: Monday morning, carpark outside ANU School of Art. Ampersand Duck is very tired and grumpy, having partied hard one half of the weekend and worked very hard and late the rest. As she walks up to the ticket machine, she can see that the machine has just been emptied by Parking Man, who is carrying a sack of coins to his truck. He places the sack in the car while someone else buys a ticket and returns to the machine just as AD reaches it. He stands back.

AD: G'day. Do you want to finish what you were doing before I use the machine?

PM: Nah... (AD fumbles for her coins in a hungover/tired/inept manner) ... not unless you want a free ticket (said in a very laconic manner, almost sarcastic).

AD (mustering her last shred of jocularity): Of course I want a free ticket, wouldn't everyone? Heh. (makes to put coin in slot)

PM: Ok then, put your money back. (PM opens the machine, presses button, gives AD a full-day ticket, smiles, then gets on with what he was doing.)

AD (not faking new burst of energy and goodwill): Good for you! Have a great day!

PM: Yeah, you too, have a good one.

AD walks back to her car with a renewed interest in the day, which lasts until the mid-morning sugar-starved energy-low when she thinks 'Well, that's $7 I can put towards the $68 parking fine the bastards gave me last fortnight'.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We made it this far

It's my wedding anniversary today.

Yesterday we had a party, not just to celebrate this fact, but to give our friends the party we promised them in lieu of a wedding. Anyone who has lurked here since I started blogging knows that we had a very very small, quiet wedding, and that I had a very horrid failed pregnancy at the time, the complicated aftermath of which dragged on for a boring number of weeks. So we didn't have a party last year. We had it last night.

The loudest, noisiest, most interfering guest was Mother Nature. Best Beloved said, around Thursday, that he feared it would rain on the weekend. Yesterday until 4 the weather looked like it could do anything, so we optimistically set up the back yard with bright-coloured tarps (good for shade and shelter), lanterns and chairs.

At 4.30 a HUGE freak storm hit the city. Hail, lightning, heavy rain... The street outside flooded up to cover the footpath and one friend stood on my verandah watching the water rise up the tyres of her ute -- all her final post-grad wood assessment pieces were in the back! All we could do was pour more champagne and watch. (I like to think they came out of it ok. She's a sensible girl who had wrapped them in tarps.)

The kids went out and stood knee-deep on the road. Cars came around the corner, hit the water, and either ploughed through (if they were 4-wheel drives) or beat a hasty retreat (if they were sane). Eventually the water went down the drains, with a fantastic suction whirlpool that kept everyone amused for ages.

Our tiny house filled with adults and kids. I was worried that we'd run out of space, and deeply impressed that they'd braved the weather to get to us.

Later on the weather cleared enough for the back yard to be used, the BBQ fired up for the Indian nibblies (it was a Bollywood theme, of course) and the world's soggiest game of Boule. The heavy silver balls span through the air and landed on the grass with a wet THUNK. As I'd imagine cannonballs would land on a muddy field. We were trying to make them land on the marker, which was one of Bumblebee's action figures (with his full permission and participation). It was a hoot.

Anyway, after 8 hours of champagne, bollywood music and curried nibbles, I feel like crap today. I tried to keep today free to recover and maybe see a soothing movie, but a number of emergencies have arisen involved a scholarly edition layout in the middle of a press run, so I have to work. This post is basically a desperate attempt to get the grey matter into gear before tackling the problems of missing footnotes and musical notation.

I may be back with more, or I may just spend tonight with my head under a pillow moaning...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hoist the Jolly Roger...

...for there is a Canberra Blogging Pirates Meet planned to celebrate the encroaching holiday season. Teej, Crazybrave and I are brewing up a stormy and most cunning plan.

This one is family-friendly, but that doesn't mean can't come if you don't have children. Just bring lots of beer and be prepared to be nice to other people's children, is all we ask. Or you'll walk the plank.

Marauders from other Stamping Grounds are more than welcome... which is why we're posting so early. Gives you time to plan for the winds and stash some vittles.

Date: Saturday 10 December
Time: 12.30ish onwards
Place: The Castle Playground, Commonwealth Park, Canberra.

How to tell who we are: up for suggestions!

I guess wet weather plans and more deets will evolve closer to time.

Pass the word! Polish up yer boots! Arrr...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why doing a charity cookbook is fun...

...because you get to see things like this.

Go Cooking Ninja!

buzz ... squeak ... [loudspeaker turns on]

hem hem.

To all those who have asked over the last few weeks, and to anyone else interested:

The ANU School of Art Graduate Exhibition 2005 will open on Friday the 2nd of December at 6pm.

Do go. It's a fun night, with mostly cheap funky art. Boring link here.

Unfortunately I'll be in Bathurst, but that's another story.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Try Chicken Wings

Spent nearly all the weekend typesetting a fundraising cookbook for Bumblebee's primary school. It's amazing what you can learn about your school community from their recipe submissions. Teacher A is allergic to wheat; Teacher B can't spell to save his life. Parent C is a recipe hog, submitting over ten recipes, and Student D really, really likes blueberries. We have some nice Nepalese recipes, Pakistani recipes and some from the Maldives. A few vegetarian numbers, but not many.

One parent submitted this:


1 Kilogram Thai chicken wings

1. Pre heat oven to 190 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a deep baking pan,
3. Place chicken wings in pan.
4. Cook for about 1 hour, turning once
5. Serve with salad and plenty of napkins

I shit you not. All that is missing is 'from the Woolworths Deli Counter'. I take full responsibility for pulling the recipe, seeing as how another parent gave us a recipe for marinated chicken wings that actually bothered to include the marinade ingredients. Sheesh!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bollywood treats

As well as testing the theory that my comments total doesn't show for a post until I put another post in front of it, I just want to say that we popped in to our favorite Indian supply shop today and bought all sorts of fun things, including a DVD of Salaam Namaste, the first totally Australian Bollywood movie, and the soundtracks to Main Hoon Na and Paheli! (The latter is a lovely website.) Hooray!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Freaky fun

Best Beloved warned me before we left last night that whilst the Jim Rose Circus was fun, it wasn't a pinch on the now-defunct Happy Sideshow, which I managed to catch at Woodford a couple of years ago. [Woops, got the HS link wrong for most of today. Fixed now.]

It was all good fun, of course. We had pizza and beer beforehand at my place, looked at BB's extensive collection of books and ephemera on freaks through the ages, and then toddled down the Canberra Theatre. (I was in complete fluff mode -- BB and I decided to ride our bikes, then just as I was walking out the door I remembered that my bike was at the bike shop! Argh. End of a LONG week. Luckily our babysitter had brought his bike and was about my size, so he rescued the day.)

The crowd was obviously not the type that would attend the ballet. Lots of black clothes, blonde hair, piercings, lots of men with shaved heads and facial hair, including Zoe's partner. BB said it looked like the crowd that attended the Chopper Reed Tour. One thing I did notice was the relative busyness of the alcohol bar

compared with the boredom of the man serving coffee and cake:
I guess he does well on ballet nights.

We weren't allowed to take photos duing the show. I'm sure I could have snuck some, but I was too busy laughing. Jim Rose is a cracker, and the backbone of the show. His patter is unceasing, and keeps you in stitches. With him was Bebe the circus queen, who does a bit of angle-grinding over her pubic region and sitting in a vaccuum-sealed bag holding her breath for a reasonably long time (I held my breath comfortably for the same time as she did it, which spoiled it a bit for me). Also Mr Lifto! Who can still do some pretty awesome things, but is definitely getting past his prime. He can lift great weights with his ears and nipples, but his old trick of lifting with his penis is over, with his poor old pecker in a serious splint and looking quite painful.

Amber Pie the porn queen was pretty good, having a tug-of-war with Mr Lifto between his penis and her vagina, but as mentioned above, he's having a bit of trouble with his bits, so it wasn't a very serious stouch. She apparently threw the blue condom, but O and I think it was an audience plant who 'caught' it -- he looked quite comfortable, and extremely creepy and sleazy. I suspect he was their road manager. I snuck this photo:
Did he get up in anyone else's show?

The best acts of the night were Rupert [Rufus? damn my memory] and Big Mak. R was the sort of guy who can swallow objects, regurgitate, stick his penis in a racoon trap, and blalance a working lawnmower on his chin while the audience throws heads of lettuce at it to see them get chopped up. he was excellent.

Big Mak was Jim Rose's answer to other shows taking his idea of people contorting through tennis racquets (something Captain Frodo of the Happy Sideshow, now in Circus Oz, excels at). Big Mak is the world's fattest contortionist. He passed his body through a hula hoop, not from top to bottom, but from front to back. Halfway through he stopped, with Jim announcing that we were watching 'a quarter of a ton of camel-toe'. Heh.

Best Beloved had a great time. They explained how to insert a spoon fully into your nose, in a complete reversal of the 'don't do this at home kids' philosophy. He's got plans to try it today, and keep practising until he can gross out the nephews and nieces at Christmas. He also had his photo taken with Big Mak after the show:
BB is a very shy man, so I've preserved his dignity somewhat with a brown paper bag (which he always mentally wishes he has in photos).

I came out understanding why BB thought The Happy Sideshow was a better gig. They were inspired by the JRC, but they made it into a tighter, funkier, sexier show. The JRC, last night, just stood on a stage with no frills and mucked around. Jim Rose pulls it together with his wit and sass. The Happy Sideshow used to have loud, pulsing music, excellent costumes and larger props; everything JRC has, but more so, and with superb showmanship and teamwork. It's a damn shame they broke up, and Australia is the poorer for it -- but maybe it is better that they shone for a number of years then moved on, because the Jim Rose Circus, which has been performing since the early 1990s, is starting to look a little tired and frayed.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Only 6 hours to go.

Watch out Canberra! Tonight Zoe and I get pissed and attend, with our resident moisties, the Jim Rose Circus at the Canberra Theatre. Choice!

I was just on the phone to said lass -- she rang to see if I'd picked up my tickets yet -- and halfway through the conversation there was a loud noise and she screamed at me


I was rather startled for a moment and wondering if she knew something I didn't, when she apologised and explained that there was a rather idiotic Harley rider poser cruising past breaking everyone's eardrums. I totally understood, because I usually yell Oh god, I want your babies at such types.

We're sitting centre, 4 rows back. Zoe and consort are side, 2 rows back. She wants the blue condom. So do I. The boys aren't allowed to have it, they have to pass it to us.

Stay tuned.


Always have confidence
in yourself.
YOU have no reason
to, but
people buy that shit

Billy's tells your fortune!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A reading from the Gospel of George

What he realized, and more clearly as time went on, was that money-worship has been elevated into a religion. Perhaps it is the only real religion -- the only really felt religion -- that is left to us. Money is what God used to be. Good and evil have no meaning any longer except failure and success. Hence the profoundly significant phrase, to make good. The decalogue has been reduced to two commandments. One for the employers -- the elect, the money-priesthood as it were -- 'Thou shalt make money'; the other for the employed -- the slaves and the underlings -- 'Thou shalt not lose thy job.'

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistras Flying (UK: Penguin, 1984 (1936))

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Before I describe the GAH! in question, I'll just fill you in -- I've had a week of different batches of visiting relatives -- from both sides of the family. None of them have stayed in the house, thank fuck, but it's involved a lot of cooking and cleaning.

Low points were going on antibiotics for infected lungs so that I couldn't drink myself jolly and having an extra guest who ended up being a CRASHING bore, dominating every speck of conversation (and I couldn't drink so I had to stay polite).

High points were seeing the relatives, and whipping up a smashing bread & butter pudding for the second dinner from the stale French baguette left over from the first dinner. I used Seville orange marmalade on the crusty slices, and the bitterness worked beautifully.

The picture above is another Bumblebee photo, but it so sums up my day today. I think I've been so tired from family-wrangling that today I just blew a fuse. I just couldn't get my head around anything, and consequently everything went wrong.

Please indulge me for a minute (!) while I have a bit of a bitch about my working life. My boss is driving me CRAZY. I call her Scarlett to her face, so I'm happy to use it here, because she is just like Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind. She is a very good business woman, but she sees everything as a Big Picture. The small details are something she'll 'think about tomorrow'. I happen to have a talent for fleshing out grand plans, for achieving the little details, so for a while we've made a good team. GAH

But today all her tomorrows arrived -- and me caught out with half a brain! Suddenly we have less than two weeks to iron out the little wrinkles of a large travelling exhibition. Stuff I've been querying but getting no answers about is suddenly pressing (gosh, lots of iron imagery here), and she's getting stressed. People I've been fending off on the phone like a cranky door-bitch are finally catching up with her. If I wasn't so tired and cranky, I'd be quite enjoying the sight of her getting stressed. But her stress is, ipso facto, my stress. There's only the two of us.

GAH! I keep telling BB that the only way I'll ever extract myself from her psychic vampire clutches is by moving cities. He used to tell me not to overreact. He doesn't anymore.

Then again, maybe this is just a big PMT rant and when I think about it tomorrow I'll be able to cope. GAH!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In which Duckie basks in the glow of Having Been There, even if it was only Canberra

Or, How the Sun Came out at Just the Right Moment, and the Rain held off Just Enough

I went to the IR Meet at the Canberra Racecourse, and what did I see?

-- lots of people, even for Canberra
-- no spare seats, people overflowing the stadium
-- workers with banners
-- babes in arms
-- someone in full academic regalia
-- people dressed up
-- people dressed down
-- young people looking about themselves incredulously, marvelling at being at such an event
-- red balloons, at least 99, which people would pop periodically to add to the cheers
-- grey clouds, but at the very last cry of 'A Battle We Will Win!', the sun burst forth in all its glory
-- lots and lots of crawling traffic (all of us with bicycles smugly zoomed past). Thumbs up to everyone who organised it and those who came, thumbs down to choosing a venue which bottlenecks even on a day with no event and no roadworks
-- a room full of people wanting to make a difference, but not sure how, including me.

After the first few speakers, including Kate Lundy and Jon Stanhope (with a microphone malfunction which made his words disappear at every crucial point), we crossed over to satellite coverage of the Melbourne rally. Boy, it looked amazing. But cold. But amazing. Lots of guest speakers. Cheers and Jeers rom the audience at the appropriate moments. Big cheer for the Catholic Archbishop, even though he had the personality of a boy's school headmaster. Obviously lots of catholic workers in the crowd. Huge cheer for Bob Brown. Sudden eerie silence for Kim Beazley, which warmed up to applause once he'd made his point. A very interesting people-watching morning for me.

Lump-in-throat award goes to two finalists, the James Hardy asbestos victim, and the woman whose husband died in a workplace accident, and who came on stage with the kiddies. All emotional strings pulled. Resolve strengthened. More must be done. I'm an apathetic bird who needs to get with it. I put my name on petitions, mailing lists, donated money.

Then rode back to work in the increasing rain, feeling positive.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hairy Polarity and the Obvious Over-reaction

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a reference in someone's blog to a Christian satire of Harry Potter. Since my Best Beloved collects Chick Tracts and other loony comic paraphenalia (a by-product of a religious upbringing rich with eccentric congregation members), I thought he would like a copy of this choice morsel, entitled Hairy Polarity and the Sinister Sorcery Satire.

The comic is published by a certain Tim Todd, a revivalist minister in the US, who runs a mission called Truth for Youth. I ordered a comic (they cost next to nothing, and are even cheaper in bulk, of course), and it arrived quick smart, along with a glossy brochure advertising how effective Minister T-odd has been in his crusade. Nice printing, I thought, until I actually handled the brochure, which has a prickly, sticky feel to it, like it had been hair-sprayed. But not as much as Tim Todd! Whose title on the inside back cover of the comic is 'Publisher/Evangelist', with a drawing of himself. Not a hair out of place. Lots of teeth. Just like his photo on the brochure.

I quite enjoy Harry Potter satires -- didn't mind the Barry Trotter books, and there were various odd Chinese wannabes on the net a few years go at HP peak freak time. But this comic is just plain vindictive and utterly unimaginative. Check out the first seven pages. Ari (it has a bit of a manga feel to the drawing, and in fact was produced in Japan for TT) has a best friend called Minnie who his parents disapprove of because she distracts him from his "Christian' friends. Ari (we later find out his last name is 'Potiphar') and Minnie have a love of Hairy Polarity books in common. One day they wander into a bookstore and discover the original HP manuscripts, written by the author, Dr Bela Verbosi. Just picking up the books starts a spell sequence that whisks them into dark magic central, full of pentacles, witches and devil worshippers. Hogwarts is called the Pigzits University of Scintillating Sorcery, Dumbledore is Professor Doltus Dumbitdown, and there is the incisively witty Lord Vulgarmouth who apparently tried to 'whack' Hairy when he was a baby.

The whole 'story' (I'd balk at using the word 'plot') is desperately trying to convince people that Harry Potter and his friends are satanic. When spells are cast, the words are things like 'HURTEM HOAXUS', and 'KNOCKUS YUSOXOFF'. Eventually you get to the point where Ari & Min find the author, a balding elderly man under the spell of the 'real' Lord Vulgarmouth, a demon called THUUKUS, DUKE OF DEMONS. Oh, quake in your boots. Ari discovers his saviour in Jesus; Minnie thinks her newly-acquired white magic can save her skin, but she is really in a coma until she calls out to Jesus and is saved too...

And just when you think it is all over, the back cover gives a written diatribe against Harry Potter, about how it represents a Godless universe. It lists 20 examples of appalling evil. I'll give you some:

#1 = sacrificing animals [fairy nuff]
#2 = emphasizing power regardless of good or evil [uh huh]
#9 = projecting or traveling [sic] without transportation [hmm]
#12 = divining by crystal gazing [bugger]
#13 = Telling lies, stealing, breaking rules and cheated advocated in Wizard ethics by copying another student's homework (oooo)
#14 = approving of astrology [ahhh]
#17 = taking mood-altering drugs used by real witches and shamans [:)]

and this is my favorite:
#20 = Believing death to be just the "next great adventure."

I thought Christianity did believe in something following death? A better thought than 'the great full-stop' (not my cup of tea, any of it, but that's another story).

There is absolutely no mention of the better qualities of HP -- friendship, loyalty, team spirit, kindness, family togetherness, sportmanship. It's all mouth-frothing, bitter, unconvincing stuff, and I'd like to meet any teenager who would take this pap seriously. Mind you, it's probably bedtime reading for the Olsen Twins.

BTW, BB loved this addition to his collection. he has two big boxes of like stuff. He especially likes the idea of being on Minister T-odd's mailing list. I guess we'll be buying one of the Yoof Bibles next, just to see what's really goin' dahn in the US of A (and, according to Minister TT, all over the world...)

Postscript: My Olsen Twins link came from a blog called Bent Corner. Just found it on Google, but it's going straight onto the blogroll. Try this, and this. And, go on, treat yourself to this. I never thought I'd type this, but LOL.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Paw-n names

Bordello_cats, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Mr Padge and Mr Pooter greeted us back from the movies today with such come-hither looks that we started joking about giving them porn names. We'd just been to see Inside Deep Throat, and they were obviously aching for something yummy.

We decided on Kitty Longstocking for Pooter, who is the 'girl' of the two, and Magnum O-Puss for Padge, a very masculine cat. I couldn't resist illustrating this (please forgive the dodgy photoshop; I just couldn't spend a lot of time on it!).

I quite enjoyed Inside Deep Throat. It's quirky, funky (great soundtrack) and jam-packed full of eccentrics and interesting politics. I came out of the cinema feeling extremely sorry for Linda Lovelace, and not for the first time in my life. I've seen the movie, read the biography, and followed the press stories. It seems like everyone profited from her but her -- including the feminists. Even when she tried to get some normal employment, no-one would keep her on once they found out who she was. As her sister said, when she died (in a carcrash in 2002) she didn't have a cent to her name.

We saw the movie at a morning session today, and were the only people in the cinema, which was great because we could openly make comments through the film. And any film which features a pussy cat is a film worth going to, even if the name of the poor creature is Adolf Hitler.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Through a child's eyes

Bloody Canberra, humid one day, freezing the next. Now we're all going to get colds on top of the hayfever. Mind you, I'm more comfortable with the coolness.

Just found a batch of photos taken by Bumblebee a while ago when I was playing with the Art School laptop and was trying to distract him.

No, I'm Batman!

The weird thing is, this kid really does look like Bumblebee in his Batperson suit...

"Holy Remote, Batman, what the hell is in that pile of videos?!!"

And now for Dr Who... those of you who are fans may even be able to date these photos by the next few images!
The Baddie

The even baddier Baddies

Portrait of robot with Mum

Self portrait with spot.

There are many, many more of this sort of thing in this batch, but these are my favorite! I noticed recently that he's starting to get the hang of the focus control, so the photos are getting better, but the subject matter is all pretty similar... tv, toys, pets and himself. Classic child.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Remember to breathe

Sweet Peas, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

These are for Zoe, who's probably not feeling her best today after a spot of ear surgery.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dizzy with champagne walls

I work at a beautiful art school. It isn't just a plug-ugly high-rise building in the middle of a city; it's an ex-high school with heritage design that has been respected. There are green trees and green grass, and pleasant open spaces. Instead of 'departments', we have 'workshops', which I think are meant to follow a more medieval ideal of community a-la William Morris with a touch of Bauhaus.

I love this time of year because it is assessment time. I didn't enjoy it much when I was a student, but I enjoy it now that I'm removed from the process. In the Printmedia & Drawing Workshop, of which my studio is a part, the students have to pack up their crowded and carefully individualised cubby spaces and clear out the large light-filled rooms to allow the assessment process to begin. All furniture is moved into one room, the other rooms are painted to freshen up the walls of random scribbles, charcoal/paint smears and blu-tack marks, and one student at a time per room is timetabled to set up their works to be judged. In the spaces between assessments it is wonderful to feel the rooms breathing. I like to walk through and watch the sunlight on the clean empty champagne-coloured walls (not white, darling, too harsh) and slide on the (barely surviving) parquetry.

When assessments are over, there will be a huge school-wide exhibition of the graduating students, using every available inch of wall and floor space. Then all gets packed up, and the building can breathe again for a few months -- until the new academic year when the students carve up the spaces, erect hideaways and communal areas with partitions and furniture, and strive desperately to make the rooms theirs, sprainting their individuality in murky corners.

Until November, when it all gets wiped clean again.

Sigh. It's Tuesday.

Oh, Madonna, Madonna! You used to mean a lot to me, in my teenage years and early womanhood. I'm sorry that you've joined the Wacko Jacko school of weirdness. I wish you'd grow old disgracefully rather than embarrassingly.

Mind you, maybe you never can be too piratey.

Monday, November 07, 2005


On the (late) evening of Melbourne Cup Day, BB and I had just turned out the light when we heard an argument on the street outside. We live on the corner of a suburban street which then leads to a main Canberra thoroughfare, and quite often people pull up outside at the verge to have mobile phone conversations. This time, it was a drunken stoush involving a man, a woman and a taxi driver. It was out of sight around the corner, but we could hear quite clearly.

BB has a disturbing habit when drunk people disturb us at night by walking past yelling shite at each other -- he speaks in tongues very loudly out of our darkened window, and freaks them out. I think it's a skill that comes with growing up in a religious family where your only teenage rebellion is delving further into fundamentalism (he's agnostic now). I was waiting for him to do this, but realised that he was enjoying the argument too much, probably memorising the best lines for future fun. He's also a good mimic. He decided to listen, not join in.

I, however, have no memory for dialogue (those damned grey cells), but I do recall the taxi driver yelling, in sheer frustration, 'Look, I've been dealing with fucking people like you all day, will you get back into the fucking taxi!'. Lor, it had to have been raging for ages for a taxi driver to get involved and not just sit back with the meter running. Either that, or he'd just had one too many drunks.

I've been a Canberra taxi driver, I know those days. I once picked up a man from the Kingston pub; he'd been at his office Christmas party, and was placed gently in the cab by his staff. He was probably quite high up in the hierarchy, as you could see that the rest of the staff were keen to get rid of him (respectfully) so they could get back inside and really start the party. He was completely smashed, and terribly embarrassed about it. At one point I had to stop the cab so that he could get out and vomit. 'I'm terribly shorry,' he kept saying. 'Pleaz... hmm zzz hmm... don't tell anyone.' Anyone I know? or anyone he knew? He gave me a huge tip to stay mum, even though I have no idea who he was or what particular Government department he worked for. He was one of the better drunks. Most try to paw you as well, if you're a 'lady-driver'.

Anyhoo, the day after Melbourne Cup day, we found $20 on the driveway. Didn't think anymore about it. Then yesterday we found another $20, and a pair of women's shoes. Nice shoes, black, strappy and beady, with little spiky heels. And what do you know, in my size! I've got huge hoofers, and it's hard enough to find my size in a shoe shop, let alone abandoned in my garden! We figure they had five days to come back and look for them, so finders-keepers.

$40 and a valuable addition to my wardrobe -- better than betting on a horse.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The sky is always the sky

Had a brief tiff with Best Beloved this morning, so to cool off I went to see a movie about a REAl tiff: Gallipoli, directed by Tolga Ornek. You know how it is, it's always good to know there's someone worse off than you.

Seriously though, this movie is worth seeing. It's a tad too long, and can be a bit overwhelming with details, but it's a thorough and poignant look at a situation that really shouldn't have happened. The campaign is explored from both the Allied side and the Turkish side, and special effects are used to make the situation feel real. I enjoyed the way old photographs were manipulated to give them depth; we'd start with one small detail and then the camera would pull back out and the foreground details would shift in front of the background in such a way as to make it all feel 3D.

I've never been able to watch or think about the Gallipoli campaign without getting upset. This is partly because it was obviously a frustrating series of mistakes -- something not just seen in comfy historical retrospect, but felt quite clearly by the soldiers involved. But my blood boils when I think of how much of the fault lies with the politicians and generals in power at the time. They were given clear intelligence beforehand that it would be a long, difficult and fruitless tactic to invade the Dardenelles. They chose not take this advice seriously, and paid for it in thousands of young lives. Does this ring any bells? They thought that they could send in a small show of Imperial power (the British and French naval fleet) and the Turks would be so impressed and awed that they would surrender their country en masse. They thought they could land the troops in a challenging terrain and have them in and out in a month or so. Sound familiar?

I can't understand how a group of classically-educated men like the British War Council of WWI could imagine that the Dardenelles would be an easy conquest. For millenia Istanbul/Constantinople has been acknowledged as a strategic strongpoint. Classical -- and modern -- history has many tales of battles that raged around this area. Look at Troy! It may have fallen, but it took a long time to do so, and it was such a huge power in the area because it had geographical advantages. The sheer fact that the Turks were fighting on their homeground seemed not to matter much to the Council. They just assumed that these people were barbarians and would yield to an obviously superior civilization. More fool them. I just wish it was their lives they'd gambled with.

The link I've provided for the film is the Director's Statement. He talks about not wanting to focus on the blunders of the politicians, instead focussing on the ordinary and remarkable tales of the men involved. I saw him on tv recently, and he said that he thought that this was one of the most honourable battles of the 20th century. There were no atrocities, no ill-will, but two sides of men who did what they were told, both with clear-cut ideals. The Commonwealth allies wanted to fight for England, the Turks wanted to defend their homeland. There were times when both sides talked, gained respect for each other, then went back to fighting the next day.

I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed about 3/4 of the way through the film. I had to stop looking at the bodies and the faces of the generals, and found myself focussing on the sky. Ornek uses the sky a lot, showing the moon, sunrises, sunsets, lots of fluffy white clouds against blue. I kept thinking "the sky is always the sky... the sky is always the sky". It feels like a quote, but I can't quite place it. Anyone else know?

I'd like to say here to finish up that I despise the way John Howard has milked the bravery of the men who fought for their ideal of 'Australia'. I'd like to think that a movie like this would make politicians squirm in their seats, but I'm more realistic than that. I know they'd just see it as fodder for their horrid nationalistic agenda. After all, they haven't learned from mistakes like Gallipoli, they're too bent on making their own mistakes in Iraq and other such areas.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Southpark Ducky

Southpark Ducky, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

More fun cruising the universe.
Couldn't resist making myself into a South Park character. (all thanks to Boudist)
Try it!

Looks like this is going to be a dress-up type of weekend. Stay tuned.

Later: Dressing-up Fun stage 2, which allows you to compare South Park AD with Nana AD. Eek!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Let there be light

I'm having a good day, as opposed to yesterday when I had a crap day. Actually, the high spot in yesterday was meeting Mummy Crit for the first time, at the Castle in Commonwealth Park and nattering while our kids romped. Hooray! But the parking fine I got earlier in the day and the effing humid heat sucked. If I wanted hot steamy days I'd live in Cairns, bejeezuz.

But today! Today I checked out how well my blank books are selling at Pepe's Paperie in Civic (very well), taught Bumblebee's class how to make pop-out books (excellent, chaotic Friday arvo fun) and had all the lights in my house replaced with sleek 12-volt halogen spots. Then I came home and found the new Woodford Folk Festival Programme in the mailbox, with glossy write-ups of my visual arts workshops. Exciting but terrifying.

I'm particularly pleased about the lights. It was a move forced by the nearly-40-year-old fittings breaking in quick succession -- well, every time I changed a lightbulb. I've been dressing in dim lamp-light for weeks now, and it's been really annoying. I get dressed, thinking I know my clothes really well, but then I walk out the door and find myself running back inside to change out of something the wrong colour, wrong shape, wrong occasion (ie 'pilly', stained tops I save for printing when I need something cleaner). I wear black a lot because (a) it covers all evil, (b) it's easy, no clashes and (c) don't all artists wear black it hides printing ink. But when lots of pieces of your clothig are black, and you don't have good dressing light, you need to pull EVERYthing out of your wardrobe to find the bit you want. Ay carumba. Well, today the nightmare ends. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pride and Piracy

It's been an entertaining day, but only on-line. Laura posted her excellent critique of the P&P movie, Pirates of Pemberley which has sparked all sorts of conversations. I thought I'd add another element to the fun: a visual one. Here then, are my P&P vignettes, whipped up with a dash of photoshoppery. All credit for the original images goes to the wonderful pirate image archive.









Oh la!

The usual Tuesday boredom

I'll stop looking at silly quizzes soon, I promise. Hell, it's better than watching horses.

You are Mary Bennet. Reclusive, ugly, and an
insufferable know-it-all. Nobody wants to hear
you recite book passages, play the piano, or,
especially, sing. Please just go away.

Which Pride and Prejudice Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

PS. Atrocious spelling by this quizmaster too. I was going to say 'why can they spell "Bennet" right but get "redeeming" wrong', until I noticed that they randomly mix "Bennet" and "Bennett". Sigh.