Shoot the ref
LMFAO! Well, football can be a cruel game, and it was cruel to poor Australia
knocked out with five seconds to play. Ineptly unable to turn a one-man advantage into a goal, they learned a harsh lesson: do not lie down in the box within diving distance of an Italian.
Australia outmatched Italy
in midfield, even before Materazzi's comedy dismissal (yet again the stars of the World Cup are the refs), but Italy are very hard to break down, and you're going to need players with more guile than Bresciano, Culina and crew could master. Australia lack a player with vision and creativity in midfield, as well as mobility up front. It's hard to see where it will come from: it's not as though Australia is harbouring players any better than Sterjovski, although even Aloisi would have put himself about a bit more.
Fabio Grosso showed more nous than the entire Australian team, presented with a prone Lucas Neill -- Australia's player of the tournament -- who he could quite frankly have walked round, and that was that. Just as well, the fuckers would have been unbearable had they scraped a win. Now I don't have to worry about them and can concentrate on which heartbreak England will inflict on me. The wise money is on penalties against Portugal, but I have a sneaky feeling that we might yet get to lose to spotkicks against the Krauts in Berlin.
We were on the beach, kissing in the sand.
I put my hand in her jeans and she said, no, it's not right.
Hey, I said. It feels right to me.
Jeezus fuck, she said, for a writer, you don't half speak in cliches.
And she was right. I'm unadorned. I do not think quickly enough for any other kind of speaking.
The other day, we were walking in the streets near my home. No reason, not going anywhere in particular.
She said, I think about you when we're not together.
Do you, I said. Do you have a picture or do you just think?
What's that? she said. I suppose I have a picture.
I am hoping it's a good picture, I said. Because I'd hate to be remembered with a bad picture that doesn't do me justice.
She smiled. What if it was a bad picture that did do you justice?
And she was right. I'm unadorned. I've turned heads but sometimes more what the fuck than what a man.
We were dancing in the late, cool night.
I love this song, she said.
I remembered, I said. That is why I put it on.
Shut up, she said. You do not have to know everything all the time. You can just let it go.
The song was moving her and it was moving me. I could feel we feel we are two becoming one. I did not want to break the spell but the music ended. I could not find anything else that moved her the same way, although I had many songs I thought might.
You know, she said. Long nights when it is raining outside and I cannot sleep, I sing that song to myself and think about you.
But I did not think she did. I was thinking that she was saying it because it would move me just as much as the song had.
And she was right. I am unadorned. I am easy to break down into pieces and put back together.
We were parting but no one was saying goodbye. Goodbye means see you again and when you don't know whether, there is no thing to say.
The sun in her hair made it shine copper. She had dyed it that way.
We are all artifice. Some pretend less, some more, but none of us can avoid change. We are all sometimes remade.
We were blowing kisses, laughing, pretending we could understand each other when we mouthed nothings, sweet as dew, burned away by a sun of truth.
I turned away so that she could not see the tear in my eye.
Or so that I could not see did she have one in hers.
It is an hour before dawn. I can hear the sound of the surf, I swear I can. But I am in the city, twenty kilometres from the sea.
But I carry it with me, wrapped up tight, a little globe full of glittering snow, a bird hopping on the stretch of golden sand, the waves rolling in, never ending, never pausing, the spray in my hair. I carry it with me, your kiss, your touch, the warmth of your smile. Twenty kilometres from the sea and we are dreaming of being together, lying in the sand, my hand in your jeans, it feels right to me. It is a long way to walk, an hour before dawn, a long way to walk until I am there, the spray in my hair, my hand in your hand, it feels right to me.DR.
He's the shaker baby
But above all those things, I am loving Life without Buildings, The leanover
. Don't try to understand it. I don't think it has a message.
Choosing to lie
When someone lies once, if it is a big enough lie, you cannot know whether anything they say is true. You profess that you trust them; you swear you do.
But you do not.
You start to question everything that they have told you. You wonder whether they even are the person they claim to be. You are afraid to ask any more questions because you know that the answers are pointless. An answer you cannot trust is worth nothing at all. You may as well keep the question to yourself. When you have wanted to know someone, really know them, this is a terrible thing.
It is worse when others know them, however little others know them, and they say things that cannot be true about them.
But how can anything not be true? If you no longer trust them, anything about them can be true. Others' judgements of them can become superior to yours. Things you have said, the "no, that's not them"s, become lies you have told.
I know it is impossible sometimes to be honest. I have lied many, many times. It's easy, sometimes, to convince yourself you have reason. But if you lie, and it is a big enough lie, you cannot be trusted, and if you cannot be trusted, you cannot truly be loved.
And I cannot imagine anything worse.
It can be as hard to be a liar. But I feel I must. I do not know how else to resolve my life in a way that I can bear.
I cannot stand living here. Of course, that's over dramatic. I can stand it and could stand it in perpetuity. My life is good wherever I live it. I make enough money to be comfortable, although being a freelance is stressful, particularly when you are establishing yourself with new clients.
But I cannot stand it. I can't stand not being able to buy the food I like. I can't stand not being able to go to the pub (don't tell me what they have here are pubs: I will laugh in your face). I can't stand being among people who do not like conversation and prefer talking at you than with you. (On Big Brother last night, I noted that a contestant had nominated another because "she always shares her life philosophy on everything". I wish I could find just one person who did! One person who even had a "life philosophy" on anything, and did not believe expressing an opinion was too risky for company.) I can't stand not being willing to try to make this my home.
I can't stand myself here. That's the problem. Everyone else is going alone fine. It's me who won't bend.
But these people do not make good bread.
But I cannot leave. I have three chains that I cannot break. But I cannot make their lives poor by being a desperate man. I do not know what to do other than to start lying, to them, to myself. I have to convince myself that this is a life I can live with. What can you choose when your choices are all bad? You have to choose to lie.
I feel a fool for caring about a mirage, for believing a lie. I wouldn't normally care. I'm more or less untrollable because I do not invest anything into interwebnet exchanges and as a consequence don't care whether I'm lied to. When your correspondent simply doesn't care what you say, it doesn't matter whether you tell the truth. A good troll will simply run with whatever you present. They will choose what's true from what they're given.
But if I think about it, think about it carefully, I realise that all of life is just the same. You are not presented with truths that you can build a life from, but a patchwork of bullshit and masquerade in which the truth is just a small part, and because you cannot tell it from the background of fakery, it is mostly no more important than anything else. And what does that matter? Not a thing. Life just is what it is, whatever it is founded in. I could never know anyway, the truth about this particular liar. I have no means to find it out. There is no need to feel a fool about it. I can take or leave them by simply lying to myself. What can you choose when your choices are all bad?
Rocking the Pod
So I'm loving these on my iPod...Klute, Song seller
Klute rocks. Or rather, he doesn't. He makes dark dnb and techno. The two releases I have of Klute's are a CD of each. Song seller is dnb but his techno is just as good. The tune centres on a big sample: a snatch of mideastern woman singer (stop sniggering, boy at the back, that word doesn't have quite the same resonance in UK English). The bass is heavy. When I'm doing the groceries at Coles emporium at Garden City, I enjoy knowing that the assorted chavs who shoulder past me in the aisles wouldn't like it if they heard it. They'd very much not like it. That's okay though. I very much not like them. That reminds me of the few days I spent in Khajuraho in India. I met a Korean guy who was having trouble with the natives: Indians in general are shocking to other Asians, particularly those from the East. So he went to have chai at the house of some guy he had befriended, and the guy came on to him. "I very not like homo," the Korean guy told me. He probably just didn't understand the situation, I said to him. The Korean guy furrowed his brow and said, more loudly: "I very NOT LIKE homo."Calexico, The crooked road and the briar
I'm not a big fan of "story" songs, and particularly not of murder ballads, mostly because they suck (with a few obvious exceptions -- Country death song coming immediately to mind). But this is a beautifully made vignette. The story could not be simpler, but it captures an insight that, were it put into straightforward words, would seem banal. The beautiful phrasing of the singer makes it specially poignant.Magic Dirt, Dirty jeans
As anyone who is subjected to Triple J knows, Australian music mostly sucks. Nearly entirely, actually. But there are high points, and this is one of them. It's a high point even for Magic Dirt, who are usually to be found banging out straight-ahead rock. Their magic ingredient is singer Adalita, who has a voice that is full of smirk. That's a good thing, in case you were wondering. Dirty jeans is a witty three minutes, with a great tune, and you cannot help singing along to it. Which perturbs the chavs in Coles, who have never had a song in their heart in their whole miserable existence.New Order, Guilt is a useless emotion
New Order roxxorz. That's nonnegotiable on this blog. Even though their last album suxxored. Well, by their standards, it did. Guilt is the best song by far on it. It's insanely toetapping, singalong stuff, with a tune reminiscent of the best of Underworld's last outing. Look, sometimes music is all about finding the diamonds in the rough: the best song on a crap album can be better than the best on a good one. Not often though. Usually, dross lies with dross.The Lilac Time, I went to the dance
There was a time I would have given "adult pop" a wide berth. I preferred passion to intelligence. Mostly, I still do. But I've developed a taste for literate songwriters, sufficiently so that I now enjoy Aimee Mann, who I would have laughed off the stereo ten years ago, and worship Grant McLennan, the late better half of the genius Go-Betweens, and Stephen Duffy, the driving force behind the Lilac Time (and, curiously, writer of Robbie Williams' latest). Duffy specialises in great melodies and witty, insightful lyrics. If you don't like this one, you're not a grownup. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean you are missing out. With luck, you'll get over it sooner rather than later.Mogwai, Friend of the night
Just fucking brilliant. Mogwai don't always hit the heights and most of Mr. Beast is thin, but Friend of the night repays the time spent on it every single play. It's a monster tune and there aren't many waltzes you can say that about. It's too short though, but I'd be saying that if it were 30 minutes long.Explosions in the Sky, With tired eyes, tired minds, tired souls, we slept
At first glance, this seems a million miles from Klute. But look deeper and it strikes you that these are two approaches to redefining popular music. Klute takes dance music and stretches it very thin, while Explosions take rock and make it thunderous. With tired... takes a simple riff and, erm, explodes it into a shuddering, enormous car crash. This is the epitome of quiet-loud-quiet post-rock. It leaves me feeling inexpressibly moved. Mind you, so does curry.The Cure, One hundred years
Okay, okay, I admit it. I love goff. I loved the Cure until they went all pop and Robert Smith decided singing was superior to whining. In his case, it isn't.
Too late to sack the coach, so...
is an excellent analysis of England, how they should play and how they could go wrong. It's almost exactly why England will not win the World Cup under Svennis.
How could a manager be clueless enough to even consider playing Rooney on his own up front? That's demented. His big strength is running at defences from deep. If opposing coaches could choose your tactics for you, they'd have Rooney lead the line, so that his brilliant bullocking style is nullified.
And England's problem has long been that we field too many players who want to make the killer pass, and too few who want to play carefully and solidly and make good opportunities. Contrast us with Argentina
, who played solid, attacking football, using their options smartly, not panicking against a spirited Mexico
(who played a great deal better than England have at any point in this tournament. What a great match that was! Two teams refusing to play defensively, both striving to make and take chances. Argentina could
play a game in which Riquelme sits back in front of the back four and looks to hit his pacy front two with the long ball. It would probably work sufficiently often to be a good approach. But Argentina refuse to play like that. They have far too much talent and ability across the pitch to settle for a functional system. England do too. We really do, although Sven left half the talent back in the UK, and won't field some of the rest (why pay no serious consideration to starting the brilliant Aaron Lennon and why rely on strikers with poor fitness records' staying fit for the whole tournament?). But Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and Rooney are seriously good players, and at least a dozen other Englishmen are of decent quality -- no, that does not include Owen Hargreaves. We are a match for anyone, or should be. But we laboured against Sweden
, who we should have outclassed. As did Germany
, who put in as good a display of midfield power and positioning as you're going to see. The creation and use of space was first class. Ballack looked scarily good, and if he'd packed his shooting boots (and Isaksson had not had a very good evening), Sweden would have been on the end of a drubbing. England never looked like taking them apart the way Germany did. Germany do not have the talent of an England or Argentina: only Ballack and Schweinsteiger are genuinely classy players. But they have started playing ruthless, hard football. They are not going to be an easy prospect.
Ecuador should be. They played attractive football in their group games, but they could not match Germany physically, nor in football terms. England should easily outclass them, and then they have a great chance of progressing by beating the winner of Portugal/Holland, neither a particularly scary prospect, although obviously good enough to beat anyone on their day. But the fear has to be that a halfarsed tactical plan is good enough to beat Ecuador but is seriously exposed against a better side. I hope it isn't. Even though I despise Svennis, and do not rate him at all as a manager, I hope he brings success. But I'm not harbouring any illusions: Argentina and Germany have both been a league above us, and Brazil will improve as the tournament goes on. Holland negotiated a difficult group and Portugal played well enough in theirs. We are going to need to improve a great deal to beat any of those teams.
any good or are Brazil
poor? I think probably a bit of both. Australia looked solid and workmanlike, although unspectacular, while Brazil looked lightweight in midfield and largely uninterested up front. It would be easy to become overexcited about Australia's chances (and by gum, the locals have been) but they clearly aren't a million miles off the pace. The truth is, international football no longer divides cosily into the rich and the paupers, and it's getting harder for the better sides to beat the less good. Australia lack the quality to go all the way in this tournament, but they should be good enough to draw with Croatia and their hardworking style will put them in with a chance against any side not willing to put their shoulders to the wheel. I'm thankful that England cannot draw them in the next round, because unwilling would very much describe them. England/Trinidad and Tobago
was embarrassing to watch. We really don't look very good. Still, we can go on to better things now we've qualified for the next round and Rooney is likely to be fully fit for it. We have an easy draw, except for possibly having to knock out the hosts!Argentina
, contrariwise, do. What a treat their game against Serbia and Montenegro
was. Serbia are no one's idea of mugs but they were made to look it. Riquelme shone in midfield. You never see the guy run but he's all over the place, prompting, organising, displaying his wonderful vision and making things happen. And, as though to demonstrate the depth of talent they have at their disposal, Argentina's three subs all scored. Tevez, a strong and exciting runner, would walk into most national sides, and Messi is a superstar about to shine. I hope he is unleashed against Holland, because he is a quite astonishing talent. Saviola was again excellent, as were Rodriguez, Crespo, Cambiasso and Mascherano. The midfield was just brilliant. I am a huge fan of the Argentine style: attacking, thoughtful football, played at fast pace with excellent technique. When it works -- as it did against Serbia -- it is the best football you are going to see. I hope Argentina can avoid imploding and keep up this standard.
I saw some of Italy/USA
, most of the second half, and I was impressed with the USA's spirit. Arena has made them into a solid unit, which plays far above its grade. This hasn't been a great tournament for them but they certainly aren't disgracing themselves (no one can stop Czecho when they're in the mood and they were in the mood when they ripped the USA apart) and they have hopes still. Italy are the usual curious mix of immense talent and lethargy. They are far too defensive, which serves them well against the better sides but leaves them short of ideas against sides they might feel they should easily beat. They are likely to play Australia in the next round. I wouldn't bet my last euro on their winning that one.
Fussball ueber alles
So I fell asleep at half time in Japan/Croatia
and can't even remember whether anyone had scored. Late-night football sucks. I fixed up the video (I'm embarrassed to report that it was a matter of one lead, although the picture is not all that, so maybe something else needed to be fixed up too) but Naughtyman is going through a plug/unplug phase and that meant it was unplugged last night and I was too wasted to work out what needed replugging.
I watch the games intermittently, sometimes awake, sometimes sleeping, which gives me a fractured impression of them, and watch the replay in the afternoon if it isn't the 11pm game. Or try to. For some reason, "fuck off, I'm watching the football" isn't part of my children's vocabulary, although about fifty words for sweet things are.
I also fixed the laptop. It was a mouse problem. Not the pointing device; the squeaking thing. A mouse had eaten the wire, exposing the copper threads. I have to deal with the mice, but none of the alternative means much appeals.
I cannot kill them. Mrs Z's cousin, babysitting for us the other night, told with relish how cheap plastic mousetraps she had bought more effectively finished off mice than either the more expensive wood and metal-spring ones or bait, which the mice had refused with thanks, preferring the other things to eat in her cupboard. We have a humane trap, but you need half a dozen at least, and one was all that Bunnings had in stock. In any case, when you hear a trapped mouse at midnight, you have a dilemma. Walk it down to the woods or leave it in there all night, scared, scrabbling at the plastic trying to get out.
Okay, there is a third way. Let it out and pretend you never caught it.
Luckily, the cousin already thinks I'm a bit odd. She was babysitting because we went out to dinner, to Ahmet's in Bulimba, a Turkish place. The food was actually a lot better than any I actually ate in Turkey, mostly because "vegetarian" doesn't mean anything to a Turk, so a veggie guvec in Turkey means a lamb guvec with the lamb fished out.
We ordered a (heavily marked up) bottle of Cab Sav that magically transformed into Shiraz on its way to the table. I didn't complain or send it back. I am English. We can't do that. We just drink it and whine about it on our blogs or to anyone who will listen. Anyway, it wasn't bad. The food was okay, although it was a lot blander than I would have liked. Australians are afraid of spice. Even Thai food -- reliably fiery back home -- is mild here. Still, I prefer spice to fire.
I tentatively introduced the question of going back to England. Usually, when I mention it, I say something like "there is nothing in this world I want more than to go back home" or "if I contemplate living here for the rest of my days, I feel like slitting my throat", but I went for subtle.
Didn't work. Mrs Zen insists she wants to go back to England at some point but doesn't want to think about it now. You have to think about these things, I say, they don't just happen. We'd need at least twenty grand to do it.
Thirty grand, she said. Well no, I said, because I'm working on making my work portable to there, and you can get a job. Yes, I'll be working by then, she said. She didn't sound convinced.
And the subject lay there, dead as a mouse in a trap. I am sure there would be a way for us to make a life together but I am not sure how it will be possible to get there. I do not feel gloomy about it today. That comes and goes. Today I just feel numb, empty. It's a terrible thing, if you stop to think about it, to feel that that is the best you can have. But I don't stop to think. I just switch on the football, light up a joint and sink into the haze.
I read "Scheduled outage" and it says scheduled outrage to me. I am thinking, yeah, it's almost as though someone timetables nightmarish computer fuckups just to make sure I don't start enjoying a quiet life.
So I have Foxtel, and I have a video recorder. But how does a person make them come together? I have a diagram but the profusion of names of leads and possible linkages is frightening. I'd love to tape the football but I can't even begin to hook up the video. I have a horrible feeling that it's just a matter of plugging one into the other, but the fear that I will have to tune something to something else, eating up an hour of my life, prevents me from doing it.
And I have a nice laptop, which no mouse known to man will work with. And now the power lead is gone. It's plugged in but it's convinced it's working from the battery. You fucker! I am yelling at it. You are plugged into the fucking wall.
Yes, I know the laptop does not understand spoken (or screamed) English. But I do not know the computer for it.
I really should have two PCs, one in reserve. Because the day will surely come when, frustrated by yet another screen freeze or inexplicable crash, I will pitch the computer out of the window with a merry Now restart you cunt!
And yet, you wouldn't live without them, would you? They're like women. Can't understand them, can't figure out the manual but they're indispensable. (At least, that's what we have to tell them, given that most of us are faced by the physical impossibility of sucking our own cocks. Hang on, that's not right. I've never found the PC yet that would suck my cock. Just one more reason to hate the fucking pieces of junk.)
No free lunch
Time ain't nothin'
When you're young at heart
And your soul still burns
I've seen rainy days
Sunshine that never fades
All through the night.
Man, you have to love a life that has things that brilliant in it. I just bought Green on Red's No free lunch. I used to have it on vinyl but I haven't heard it for more than 15 years. It is as fresh and wonderful today as it was when it was released. Maybe that's because music has stagnated and become backward-looking, but maybe it's just because alt.country tends to be timeless.
It's a great American invention, an aching, powerful rock that was born from the collision of folk, the blues and the electric guitar. Most of the American bands I like -- Yo La Tengo, the Replacements, GonR, Mazzy Star, Labradford, the Shins -- could more or less be described as alt.country. I think this is more a consequence of American rock's sharing roots and influences than their actually being kindred in any way.
It sounds like open roads to me, dusty forgotten highways, stormclouds and showers on hot afternoons. America for me is a huge land of spaces, a place a man could ride a horse in. We dream that in America we can find all our heart desires. The bands I love chronicle the breaking of that dream and how we find love and life in the wreckage. It makes for resonant, moody music that strikes a bell deep in me.
Me, I gotta keep on movin'
I don't think much about what I'm losin'
On the road to Berlin
So the circus starts and England are too dull to be the clowns. I stayed up to watching England/Paraguay
but I was at a birthday party, drunk, and had been up at five the previous morning. England were, I'm sad to say, not able to keep me awake. I fell asleep in the first half, woke up and went home at half time, and fell asleep again about three minutes into the second half. Because SBS have the rights and they are not repeating every match, and I don't know how to fix up my video (I could work it out but I have cultivated an inability to work technical things that prevents Mrs Zen from employing me as a handyman about the place), I didn't get to see the match. What I did see was the usual: England play 442 and their football is excruciating to watch. What more can you say? We clearly have the quality to get out of our group, and we should be able to beat whoever we face in the first knockout round. We'll be eliminated by the first half-decent side we play.
So my World Cup began with Ecuador/Poland
. It was encouraging to see teams play open, attractive football, or try to. I had been worried that with the success of Greece a couple of years ago, half the teams would play ultradefensively, stifling anything resembling creativity. But both teams here tried manfully. Poland might wish they had played a little more tightly, because Ecuador, allowed to play football, constructed a couple of nice goals. Poland had a couple of useful players: Szymkowski (? can't be bothered finding out what his name actually was) in particular showed excellent vision and a good passing range. I wouldn't entirely write them off.Germany/Costa Rica
was also a lively match. Germany showed willing, but they'll be concerned at how poorly their defence played against Wanchope, who is very much a second-grade striker but had the pace and nous to get in behind them several times. Mertesacker, in particular, does not look good enough or fast enough at this level. Germany were good value for their win though. Their workmanlike football is always going to make them chances against weak sides, and they've never had any problems making chances pay.Argentina/Cote d'Ivoire
was a cracker, as expected. Argentina left Messi on the bench, but Riquelme was brilliant. His pass for the second goal was something very special. He wanders in and out of games, which makes him frustrating to watch but also difficult for his opponents to keep track of. Saviola, disappointing ever since he came to Europe, showed signs that he has finally woken up and realised he has enormous talent. He had a fantastic match, lively and perceptive. Cote d'Ivoire were always likely to rue the draw that has put them in with two of the tournament's stronger sides, but they were not overawed. For a lot of the match it was end-to-end stuff. Argentina, despite fielding a hatful of defensive midfielders, do not keep it tight. They had faith in their ability to attack and create goals, which was merited of course, but left a lot of space for Cote d'Ivoire's creative and skilful midfield. Zokora looked particularly good. He will surely move from St Etienne to one of the bigger clubs after this tournament. His willingness to run into good positions is rare in a midfielder whose game is basically to sit back and run the midfield. Comparisons with Vieira could be in order, although Zokora is not as imposing. Cote d'Ivoire don't look a bad side at all, although they have their problems at the back, Kolo Toure notwithstanding, and did make plenty of chances. I wouldn't count them out because neither Serbia nor Holland
looked any good to me. I can see the Ivoiriens getting behind Holland's slowish defence, and Serbia, although solid, lack threat. I didn't strictly speaking remain awake throughout the match, which is further proof that marijuana and dull football combine to make an excellent sedative.
So my machine froze and killed my post about Zadie Smith's winning the Orange Prize. Ah well, let's just say you could drown her in a vat of piss and I would consider it getting off lightly, and you'll get the flavour.
One thing I will note is that in the extract given in the Guardian, Smith is noted as writing that someone has "long black fingernails like a New Jersey housewife".
Now I don't know New Jersey, and my acquaintance with housewives is fairly limited, but I'm pretty sure that not all that many of the latter in that state actually resemble flat, dark pieces of horn.
Smartarsed literary types who want to argue the toss about whether Smith was correct to write that are cordially invited to fuck off. I'm not in the mood.
Still, it's not all bad. I'm listening to Jimmy Little's version of (Are you) The one that I've been waiting for? Nick Cave should beg Jimmy to sing all his songs. It's the only way his turgid shit has any hope of moving us.
I know you don't know who Jimmy Little is. Australian icons don't generally translate. Often a star is huge here and unheard of elsewhere; or becomes huge elsewhere whereas they were not so massive here. I'd simply never have heard of Jimmy Barnes if I hadn't moved into an "Aussie-Kiwi" shared house 15 years ago (and I would never have met Mrs Zen, who moved into the same house some time later, whereupon I pulled her and we've, erm, never looked back), yet every Aussie knows who he is (a poor man's Rod Stewart is close enough).
Much of Aussie "culture" is untranslatable. That old chestnut about being divided by a common language most definitely applies. The difference boils down to something very simple: Australians are incapable of being funny. I'm not kidding. A sketch show here is a good substitute for purgatory. (Fans of Hollywood may have noted that Eric Bana, beefy star of several blockbusters, cut his teeth in Full Frontal, a seminal Australian sketch show, which has the distinction of absolutely never making me laugh, and I've watched it at least a dozen times. He was a terrible comic actor, which probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Troy.) People masquerade as "comedians" who have no ability whatsoever to be funny. We even import people who were so unfunny back home that they could not get a gig. Anyone who finds Jimeoin amusing is seriously fucked up. If he bought you a beer, you'd have to leave two-thirds on the bar, and he'd have to eat your dust, which he could consider fair payment for his "humour".
The worst of it is that Aussies do not understand the English sense of humour. Which is a pity, because I'm fucking funny, and I'm wasted on these clowns. The cornerstone of English humour is self-deprecation, but Aussies are martyrs to amour-propre and simply cannot understand what's funny about taking the piss out of yourself. It's scarcely worth brushing off your sarcastic quips either. All forms of irony are wasted on them. These are people who think shouting and pratfalls are the heights of the comic art. That and viciously unpleasant jibes about others' misfortunes.
The music sucks too. Yeah, there are some high points: the Go-Betweens' brilliant adult pop, Regurgitator's cartoon hardcore, the Avalanches' cutup disco, the Dirty Three's spaced-out ambience, but most Aussie music is horribly uninspired and leaden pub rock. You can only be thankful that Powderfinger, a band so pompous they could lecture in it at the University of Being Up Your Own Arse, have never sold much outside Australia. (Brisbane particularly has a lot to answer for: we were also responsible for Savage Garden and the Veronicas and countless turgid rock acts.) Lack of time prevents me from savaging the many shithouse acts that are played endlessly on the radio here, but let's put it like this: a nation that worships Midnight Oil and INXS fucking is all that bad, no two ways about it.
Don't get me started on the "literature". A smart six-year-old can scrawl better. Okay, there's Carey and Winton, although the former has disappeared up his ring and the latter can veer between sprightly mood pieces and leadfooted overwriting, and Keneally, although unreadable, is a serious writer; the rest, though, to a man, woman and child, are cock.
Art I cannot even begin to discuss. So far as I can see, there isn't any, except for the Aboriginal stuff, which is extremely compelling and imaginative. How those guys can be Australians is a mystery to me.
I blog whatever I am thinking about. Which is why I have gone quiet. I have been numb for some months now, and I rarely bother thinking about anything. Everything slides and I am iced in.
I could blog about how I was banned from Wikitruth
. But it's just a regular dull story about how bullies are cowards. Wikitruth are bullies, writing shit about people they don't like, but they are cowards, running scared from bigger bullies
. Why even bother with these boys? They're not even interesting, and their target is the Wikipedia, which I noted a long time ago
is full of shit, and it hasn't improved any in the interim. I am defiant of bullies, and that is why I was banned from Wikitruth. I cannot allow a bully to hurt others and have nothing to say about it. It's worth being an outsider if that is the price of making a stand. I've always been willing to be on the outer if that is where you have to stand to tell the truth. (Yes, I know that there can be many truths. But should that prevent you from telling yours?)
I could blog about S, and how unhappy I am that she has dumped me, but frankly, I'm not all that unhappy. She only wanted to talk to me about the Wikipedia, and my engagement with it is too slight for that to be an interesting topic of conversation. Our whole thing went sour some time ago. She wanted my world to orbit her, and that was cool when she was giving something back, but the demand without the payoff is just wearing. I feel an immense sadness because I rarely meet -- in the meat or online -- someone that I connect with so strongly. Of course, she has issues -- who doesn't? -- and the problem became
that she was only the issues and would neither give an inch on any of them nor lighten up and be about something else.
I could blog about P but I wouldn't know what to say. I do not know what she is -- my friend, my lover, my sister -- but I want her in my life. She is the person I feel most sorry is not "real". I sometimes wonder whether I want to rescue her or whether I want her to rescue me. But that is stupid. She would just be a good friend to have around, whatever else she might be to me.
I could blog about how long this afternoon is, how tiring and unrewarding it has been and will be. I have been editing reports on funds, but I must finish soon. I have to pick up the kids from their minder, a friend of Mrs Z's who takes them one day a week to give Mrs Z a break. I must also pick up Zenella from school. I am not looking forward to it. Sometimes I just want to be on my own, and anyway, I have so much work I can hardly spare the time.
I could blog about Mrs Z but all I can think about is whether I owe her or she owes me. I don't know whether that even makes sense but it is what I think about when I think about her.
I could blog about A, and how I wish I could help her resolve her life's problems. But all I can offer is advice I can't take myself and platitudes that I don't quite believe.
I could blog about poker, the terrible headache I have, my wasted life, candied almonds in Stroget, the moss on the rocks on the road to the ferry for the Westman Islands, how I miss good coffee, cheese and bread, none of which Australians have the least idea how to make, but it all just makes me unhappy, and I must put on my best face, go out into the world and that's it.
"More than words"
Zenella looks lost at the door of the disco. No one she knows is in sight. I am standing by the door watching her as she looks around for friends. Her hair is still wet from swimming, hanging down in the braids Mrs Zen put it into that morning.
She finds E, her best friend, and immediately becomes animated.
I am overwhelmed by my feeling of love for her. I love her more than I have ever loved a woman; more than I would ever have imagined was possible. How do words, humble tools that they are, rise to describing it?
They cannot. Love is not expressed in words but in the fond look of a father who sees the joy in his child's meeting a friend, in the warmth that her smile brings, in the gentle touch of his big hand on her small forehead when she has a fever.
Sometimes, on a cold morning, when Mrs Zen is already up with the twins, Zenella comes into my bed, looking for warmth. I feel her cold feet in the back of my legs and I know this is what love is: to be the safest place my child will ever know and for those few minutes, feel there is no better thing.