Apr 13
From Russia With Hate
icon4 Apr 13th, 2009 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon3Comments Off

Well, perhaps I spoke too soon. I have received another comment on the same post from the same Russian Snubian fan, though this time in English. It reads:

hm. luv it..

Clicking on the link attached to the commentor’s name leads to a commercial website. I have been fooled by the oldest trick in the book. A brief, generic yet flattering comment which in fact conceals a spam link. And I thought he liked my “Monkeying Around” post. Oh, the shame! I feel just like Jane Bennett when she gets fucked over by Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice.

Almost certainly my nemesis is part of a highly sophisticated gang of Soviet spammers, known to operate under the guise of an aged care facility in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Below is a photo taken during a recent undercover operation.

The poor dears are literally chained to their computers sixteen hours a day, forced to degrade themselves in all manner of online crimes. At the back stands the mastermind behind the operation, Yuri Dubbelclikov, international cyber-terrorist, wanted in 74 countries.

Apr 11

I recently received my first comment on Snubian in a language other than English. It appears to be Russian, or perhaps Martian. My new Russian friend left a comment on my post Monkeying Around, and says:

нда… актуальная тема  ..

… which Babelfish translates as:

[nda]… the vital topic

Not sure what the “[nda]” means, but by “the vital topic” (with a smiley face) I suspect that my comrade was jokingly alluding to the importance of my observations regarding human-simian relationships.

Hooray for glasnost!

Apr 4
Happy Birthday to Me
icon4 Apr 4th, 2009 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon3Comments Off

Today is my birthday. I was born in 1970.

Also born on this day in 1970 was Michael Schwartz, aka Mix Master Mike. Here he is with the Beastie Boys in their clip for “Three MCs and One DJ”:

Not many interesting things have happened on my birthday. On 4th April 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen officially formed Microsoft. On the same day in 1994 Netscape Communications was founded. Remember Netscape? On 04/04/1979 Heath Ledger was born. Yawn. Kenny Everett died on the day I turned 25. What a downer.

Today is the International Day for Landmine Awareness, so be aware boys and girls. Stick to the path. If you hear a click, don’t lift your foot whatever you do.

Apr 3
Jesus, I Trust in You
icon4 Apr 3rd, 2009 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon3Comments Off

Last night, Rach and I (isn’t it strange how many Snubian posts begin with those words?) had a lovely evening in the company of Jaye, Archduchess of Newtown. On the train home at around 10:30 PM, somewhere between Central and Strathfield, there appeared in our carriage a young man, who sat in a double seat a few rows away from us. He was carrying a large framed picture, probably 30 cm x 50 cm, which he carefully placed on the seat opposite him. This is the picture:

At the bottom of the picture, in a sort of scroll, were written the words “JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU”.

This struck me, and most other people who witnessed it, as a little bit odd. People would walk down the aisle, pause and do a double take at the picture, sitting propped up on the train seat. A drunk dude stumbled by and sat down next to the picture. He tried, unsuccessfully, to engage the young man in conversation, presumably to figure out exactly what was going on here. After an awkward few moments he got up and staggered off to find some other passengers to torment.

For those that don’t know, the order of stations on the express Northern Line train is Central -> Strathfield -> Epping -> Hornsby. Between Epping and Hornsby a pack of Cityrail Nazis invaded the train and began demanding to see passengers’ tickets. When they got to Religious Dude he dutifully held up a ticket. The ticket inspector looked at it, started to walk away, and then leaned in to take a closer look.

“This ticket is to Strathfield”, he said.

Interpretation: You bought a ticket from Central to Strathfield – the cheapest possible ticket – while intending to travel beyond Strathfield. If I had thirty pieces of silver for each time someone tried this trick I’d be a rich man, Jesus boy.

Religious Dude ummed and aahed and managed to concoct the following explanation: He actually wanted to get off at Strathfield, but had missed his stop.

Train Nazi was having none of this.

“But we’re past Epping now. Why didn’t you get off at Epping?”

Religious Dude had that one covered too. He was concerned that if he got off at Epping he would have trouble getting a train back to Strathfield, so he figured he would stay on the train until Hornsby and get off there. This is obviously a pile of steaming shite.

A brief discussion ensued, with the result being that Religious Dude could get off at Hornsby. Without a fine. I wonder whether he would’ve got off as lightly if he didn’t happen to be carrying a framed portrait of Jesus of Nazareth. Crooked cap and skateboard, BAD; picture of Jesus, GOOD.

But I ask you this: Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not steal”?

It turns out Rach is a distant acquaintance of Religious Dude. He lives on the Central Coast, so certainly would’ve travelled some distance on his commandment-breaking ticket scam. He is also apparently a Christadelphian, a wacky Christian group who believe, among other things, that Jesus will return to earth at some point to take control and get the whole Kingdom of God thing happening.

Whatever.

Mar 18

Today marks the first anniversary of Snubian.

Yes, as difficult as it is to believe, it is a mere 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes and 9.7676 seconds since the first tentative, faltering steps were taken by a fledgling Snubian, at that time a new-born giraffe wandering the harsh, unforgiving savannah of the world wide web.

I wouldn’t be here to write these words now if it wasn’t for a certain group of people. I think you know who I’m talking about. That’s right, the critics. Special individuals who selflessly give up their own hopes of achievement so they might dedicate their careers to passing judgement on others. Here’s what just a few have had to say over the past year.

“3 ½ stars.” – Rolling Stone Magazine

“Wickedly funny.” – SMH Metro Guide (from a review of the stage adaptation starring Garry McDonald as Snubian)

“These are the true words of God.” – The Bible (Revelation 19:9)

“Certainly most ordinary [people] will despise [Snubian] – or would, if they went to see it, which is unlikely. It alternates between graphic, explicit sex scenes and murder scenes of brutal cruelty. You recoil from what’s on the screen.” - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“A delectable mille-feuille of irony.” – David Stratton

“Whatever.” – Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“The lean, sensual performer was a triumph.” – Michael Carmack, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

“I like his old stuff better than his Snu stuff.” – Bernard Zuel

“What a load of fucking bollocks.” – Gordon Ramsay

According to data obtained from ASIO under Freedom of Information laws the number of hits on Snubian has increased steadily to around 2,000 per month. A significant portion of these are from “robots”, something I find quite amazing. As for humans, it appears that many are directed to Snubian from Google image searches. For example, someone looking for pictures of Sam Neill may well end up here:

http://www.snubian.com/2008/04/24/sam-neill/

In fact, this innocuous anecdote about my having seen Sam Neill twice in public is the most popular Snubian post if judged on number of hits. Merely because I included a picture of Sam Neill.

To my regular readers (do we have enough for a mixed netball team yet?), I say thank you. I know who some of you are, but to those who choose to remain anonymous, I urge you to come out of the closet. Leave a comment on this post, let me know you care. All respondents will receive, by email, a signed portrait and complimentary mini Kit-Kat.

Mar 1

Are you able to identify the objects are in the picture below?

Recently I learnt (thanks, Paul) that the object on the right is called a shoe tree. The object on the left is a shoe, which has a shoe tree inside it.

Thinking I might like to learn more about shoe trees, I looked on Wikipedia and, sure enough, there’s an article on shoe trees. It’s fairly short, but I suppose there’s not much you can write about shoe trees other than their basic design concept and materials.

As I read about shoe trees it occurred to me that this was quite a mundane item to have its own Wikipedia article. I find it interesting that someone has bothered to sit down and peck out a paragraph or two on this fairly innocuous subject. This got me thinking about other everyday items that might have been overlooked in the effort to construct a global online repository of humankind’s knowledge.

Think of a boring household item. How about a comb? Yes, there is a comb Wikipedia article, and it actually has a good screen-and-a-half’s worth of text. I’d forgotten about the comb’s potential as a musical instrument, which takes up a large paragraph on its own.

Next I looked up shoelaces. Of course there is a lengthy article on shoelaces; the history of shoelaces, construction, types of knots, as well as a handy table giving recommended shoelace lengths depending on the number of lace holes in your shoe. I’ll have to bookmark that one.

Time to get smaller, to zoom in. What about the aglet, the small plastic bit on the end of a shoelace? Surely it won’t have its own Wikipedia article! Oh, yes, it does. Did you know that during the Great Depression aglets were made out of paper and glue? What a living hell it must’ve been.

OK, try to think even smaller now, insignificant … what is the most insignificant thing I can imagine … dust! Of course the Wikipedia article on dust is quite involved. It begins with a strict definition of what can rightfully be called “dust” (any solid particle with a diameter of less than 500 microns). It then goes into detail on the various types of dust; domestic dust, atmospheric dust, cosmic dust …

Think very, very general now … what about a stick. I can’t for the life of me think of an item that is less specific. There is an article on “stick”, it just says:

stick generally refers to a long, slender piece of wood, usually a branch from a tree without the leaves that may be refined.

Then it has a long list of other possible uses of the term “stick” that the reader may be interested in. (In Wikipedia terms this listing of different senses of a word is called “disambiguation”, a great word that I am yet to use successfully in casual conversation.)

So it seems that no matter how insignificant, mundane, useless or dull, there is a place in Wikipedia for you. Maybe it’s time for an article about Snubian.

Feb 16
Snubian Books Turns 100!
icon4 Feb 16th, 2009 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon3Comments Off

Today I finished reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, which is the 100th book to be added to the list of books I have read since November 2006. In celebration of this, I have made a Top 10 list of my favourite reads of the last two years, in no particular order.

Top 10 Favourite Books

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

Underworld by Don DeLillo

The Innocent by Ian McEwan

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

 

And now for some of the clangers …

Top 5 Least Favourite Books

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf

 

Special Mention: Weirdest Book

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – I can’t be bothered explaining the bizarre concept of this book. Let’s just say it was a chore to get through, yet enjoyable at times. I have Danielewski’s even weirder second novel, Only Revolutions, under my bedside table, having stalled at about page 30.

 

Below are some other books I have read in years past, which are among my all-time favourites. 

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe – One of my favourite books ever, just amazing. I’ve read a bunch of books by great authors over the past two years (DeLillo, McEwan, etc.) but nothing draws me back like this hilarious, beautifully written brick of a book.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi – This is the lawyer who put Charles Manson in jail, and the book covers the murders carried out by the so-called Manson Family, and then Bugliosi’s account of the trial itself. The absolute best of true crime, incredibly detailed and gripping from page one.

Cujo by Stephen King – I had to put one Stephen King novel in here, so this is one my favourites. Simple concept, perfectly executed – typical of his early novels. I have read all of his books and will continue to read them, even though his later work (since, oh, 1990) has been patchy.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – An amazing tale, well told. What else could you ask from a book? This is the story of the 1996 Everest disaster, told by journalist Jon Krakauer, who happened to be on the mountain at the time. Not without its flaws, but I’ve read it four of five times and love it each time.

One Day in September by Simon Reeve – Another non-fiction book, this time about the kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Reeve writes impartially about this quite unique event in modern history, and details the background and shocking aftermath. Again, a book I can read over and over. (Reeve was the first person to write about Osama bin Laden in The New Jackals, published well before 9/11).

The Beach by Alex Garland – Most people who have read this book seem to either love it or hate it. I love it. Shame that Garland’s output since this, his first novel, has been so infrequent.

The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa – Of all the books I have purporting to be biographies of bands or musicians this is one of the few I trust. Totally frank (no pun intended), hilariously funny, and often touching (more so since his premature death at age 52), this is Zappa’s story in his own words. Genius is not too strong a word.

Jan 25

Last night Rach and I were awoken at 2:00 AM by a loud crash from somewhere inside the house. It sounded like a box of crockery being thrown down a stairwell. Immediately the Critical Incident Response Team (me) went into action. I grabbed my night vision equipment (mobile phone with backlight) and headed out into the now eerily quiet house to investigate.

Creeping into the living room I saw in the dim light the shape of a man standing against the far wall. I did a Ninja roll to my right and came up clutching the nearest available weapon, a medium sized stuffed tiger. I was milliseconds away from launching an all-out assault when I realised the intruder was just our large Bob Dylan poster.

I dropped the tiger and turned around to face the glass sliding doors that open on to the deck. A naked man was standing out there, shining a small torch in at me. Terror hit like a bucket of icy water. Adrenaline flooded my neuroreceptor sites. Just as my brain stem was considering the options – fight or flight – I recognised the depraved prowler as simply my own reflection. Phew.

Everything in the kitchen appeared to be in order. Likewise the bathroom and other bedrooms. Teesha, our fearless attack cat lay sleeping on the floor under my desk. I moved silently towards the laundry. Whatever night demon had invaded our home must be hiding in there.

I flung myself around the laundry doorway and flicked on the light. The room was empty. There was, however, evidence as to the cause of the mysterious noise. The metal vacuum cleaner tube, which had been leaning against the wall, had fallen over, knocking to the ground an eski, which in turn flipped over the garbage bin. But how could this have happened spontaneously?

The day before had been incredibly hot, with a cooler change occurring late in the afternoon. My thoughts turned immediately to the possibility of thermal expansion of the metal vacuum cleaner tube. Had heat-related changes at the atomic level in the metal tube caused the infinitesimally small adjustment in position required to send it crashing to the floor?

I crunched the numbers as I stood there, paying attention to the angles involved, the relative friction (both static and kinetic) of the laundry wall, converting temperatures from celsius to kelvin and back again. Even taking into account my estimate of the coefficient of thermal expansion of vacuum cleaner tube metal, I concluded that no evil forces were at work here. This was simply a case of something going bump in the night.

Either that, or it was a poltergeist.

P.S. When I returned to bed Rach told me that the noise had interrupted a nice dream she was having about a marble cake.

Jan 14

I am seething with rage. Last night Rach and I went to Open Air Cinema at Mrs Macquaries Point – and had a lovely evening! Absolutely nothing unpleasant happened the whole night! Imagine my disappointment; there I was expecting the worst that Sydney has to offer, and as usual this city failed to deliver.

Our hellish night began with a late afternoon stroll through the Botanic Gardens. The pleasant atmosphere and gorgeous scenery won’t have me returning any time soon. It was a sadly agreeable way to begin a night out.

At the cinema entrance we were forced to endure absolutely no wait whatsoever before being met by some of the least unwelcoming staff you will ever have the misfortune to meet. As we entered, a young lady greeted us with a free chocolate. The nerve! I gave her a piece of my mind, let me tell you. And I took two chocolates.

Next came the moment I was waiting for, finding and reserving a seat. Surely this task would generate the levels of frustration and anger that I craved. But alas! For some inexplicable reason the seat allocation was based on the preposterous notion of first-come first-served. This shows a total lack of ineptness on the part of the organisers, something which I made clear to the young man who handed us our seat reservation stickers.

By now I was becoming calm and relaxed. Surely the food and drink service would give me cause for complaint. But no, it too was quick and painless. Where was the pushing and shoving, the muttered threats aimed at elbow-wielding queue-jumpers? I had a beer to fray my calmed nerves.

As the pre-movie ads rolled I rehearsed my repertoire of moves designed to intimidate noisy patrons, including my favourite, the “half-turn with scowl”. This Sydneyside rabble will surely display the lack of good manners necessary to incur my wrath. But again I was foiled, as it seemed the audience was deficient in every form of social impropriety. And, to my consternation, they remained this way throughout the entire film.

The only truly satisfying moment of the evening occurred as we were leaving the venue. Shuffling along in a crush of cinema-goers I was delighted when the dishevelled, older gentleman in front of me loudly broke wind. At last someone had restored my faith in the people of Sydney! As we quickened our pace to thank the phantom farter, we recognised him as a popular film and TV actor. I won’t stoop so low as to reveal his identity, but I will just say that this little tale of public flatulence is going “straight to the pool room”. Ah, the serenity.

OK, enough clues, it was Michael Caton.

Jan 12

“STEVE FROM MT. COLAH IS GAY”

These are the words I found hastily scrawled in the men’s toilet cubicle of the Mobil service station on the Pacific Highway at Killara last Saturday night.

I find it intriguing that someone would go to the trouble of specifying Steve’s home suburb and yet fail to include his surname, mobile phone number or GPS co-ordinates for the purposes of more precise identification. The other thing about this sort of graffiti is that it implies that being gay is somehow wrong. I pondered this as I stood there in the toilet cubicle, my mind wandering back to earlier in the evening when I had briefly held hands with this man:

This is Scotty the Blue Bunny. He is incredibly gay. A gayer man than Scotty the Blue Bunny you could not find.

I can see you’re confused, so let me explain.

Last Saturday night Rach and I went with our intrepid friend Emma to see La Clique at the Famous Spiegeltent in Hyde Park. La Clique is a burlesque cabaret/circus troupe, currently performing as part of the Sydney Festival.

Emma, Rach and I arrived early and sat sipping alcohol and munching over-priced noodles before heading in to the Famous Spiegeltent. We were among the last to enter, and nearly all the seats were taken – except for a handful of tables and chairs which had been placed at the rear of the stage itself. Oddly, though these seats seemed to offer prime views nobody had sat in them. Did they know something we didn’t?

One of my biggest fears when attending live theatre is the dreaded “audience participation” – the possibility that I will somehow be forced to take part in the act. And here I was sitting on the stage at a burlesque cabaret show. I took my seat on the stage and tried to ignore the feeling that several hundred pairs of eyes were focused on me.

The show began with a guy getting naked while appearing to extract a small, red scarf from progressively more private parts of his anatomy. Ending with his anus. As an encore he revealed a red balloon hidden underneath his foreskin.

Then Scotty the Blue Bunny appeared for the first time. Scotty is a sort of Master of Ceremonies for the show. He also performs his special brand of risque show tunes.

Several performers did their act on a small platform which was literally right beside me at chest level. There was a deranged Swedish magician, two crazy sisters who performed spectacular trapeze tricks while smoking and drinking beer. One had the word “FUCK” printed on the back of her tights while the other had “YEAH”. Other highlights included the rope guy, hula-hoop girl and the bath guy. You’ve probably seen the bath guy – he lies in a tub of water while suspended from straps attached to the ceiling, allowing him to do amazing acrobatic stunts like spinning around, getting people wet etc.

Anyway, right near the end of the show, Scotty the Blue Bunny came out and sat on the little stage next to me. I pretty much knew I was in for it. (Emma had already been included in several acts, as she was sitting in front, right in the line of fire.) Sure enough, as Scotty began singing – a slow, “goodnight, you’ve been great” sort of number – he reached out in my direction and said “touch me”. I did of course, how could I refuse? He said to me, “I love your hair” and we held hands while he sang. I feel it was a special moment for everyone in attendance.

Outside after the show, as we sat sipping our drinks – and as the giant Hyde Park rats closed in on the evening’s dinner scraps – Rach, Emma and I enthused about what a great show it had been. Some pals of Emma’s showed up and we shared a few laughs before Rach and I had to head home … stopping briefly at the Mobil service station on the Pacific Highway at Killara, where this whole story began. So Steve from Mt. Colah, if you’re out there, you’re fine by me, bunny suit or not.

P.S. At the Mobil I paid $9.05 for a bag of Maltesers, a bottle of water and a chocolate Cornetto for Rach. The Cornetto was all frosty and misshapen, and looked so disgusting that even I – Lord Sweet Tooth – would not take a bite.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »