Thursday, 31 May 2007

Scented Oxters

No doubt you've heard tell of my fabulous toilet paper conservation efforts? The fact that the electric heater's still in its box? Well, chalk up another victory for Hôtel Harlot on the Tablet of Thrift: this week our first Melburnean quarterly water bill arrived, and I'm proud to say that, according to Yarra Valley Water's estimates, we've been using an average of 66 litres per day, as compared to the 91 litres per day consumed by previous inhabitant, Lulu W. I, of course, am considerably smellier in the armpit department than Lulu W. ever was, but aromatic armpits are not without their uses. No need for me to elaborate, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

At the Movies, with L. Harlot

So, Pirates of the Carob-bean, Part the Third: I'm sorry indeed, very, very sorry, to have to report that it wasn't a patch on Part the First. That first encounter with Captain Jack Sparrow, all those years ago, it changed my life, it did. Up until that fateful day, I'd been studious, law-abiding and suspicious of inebriates. Two hours of Cap'n Jack later, and I lurched out of the cinema, grabbed the nearest baguette, used it to intimidate the man in the grog shop while I made off with eight gallons of rum, and then rolled them all the way down to the nearest watercourse (which happened to be the sewerage canal in Leichhardt), while I planned my inaugural act of cunning and derring-do. I feigned intoxication for days, started talking to parrots, and cultivated an off-balance piratical swagger.

Part the Second
was high on gore and gratuitous supernaturalism, but everyone knows it's hard being a middle child, so I forgave it its weird fishmen and its lack of plot resolution and the way earnest Keira Knightley and boring Orlando Bloom got in the way of Depp's swash and buckle. But Part the Third, I was sure, would bring me back to the dangerously alluring world of Part the First. I turned up at the cinema on Tuesday night as row-ho-ho as they come, ready to outwit the East India Company and then some. But no, no outwitting. The East India Company gets defeated by a corny deus ex machina (or the ghost-ship-rearing-suddenly-out-of-the-sea equivalent). We have to work through Orlando Bloom's Moral Conundrum: do you save your barnacle-encrusted dad or let it all hang out with Keira Knightley for the rest of your life? (Here I'm obliged to note that if I'd wanted ethical thought experiments I would have stayed home and read my Simone Weil.) We have to put up with the poxy romantic Bloom-and-Knightley subplot (which - maybe it was the boat thing, or the presence of iceburgs, or the music - reminded us unpleasantly of Titanic). The opening sequence - a public hanging, where one of the victims, a child, starts singing, and all the other convicts start singing too, stamping their feet in time, as the guards edge away nervously - promised heart-thrilling mutiny, a struggle against oppression, soprano alto tenor bass. And then we cut to a Singaporean sewer and that's the last we hear of revolution-by-choir.

On a happier note, we do get a close-up of Johnny Depp's nose. It has pores. And for all that she'll irritate mythologians of a Greco-Roman persuasion, the Rastafarian Calypso character is way cool. Cooler than Bloom and Knightley, anyway, who just stand around looking pretty and being serious and having the odd snog.

Monday, 28 May 2007


I'm going to see Pirates o' the Caribbean, part the third, tonight. Hope this'll finally teach me how to spell "Caribbean": one arrrr (m'hearty), two Bs. I have ancestors from the Caribbean; I've written on Wide Sargasso Sea; I like a good banana: and still I have trouble with the arrrs and the Bs.

The prospect of two and a half hours watching Johnny Depp swaggering around in mascara and dreadlocks is making it awful hard to restrain my inner poirate. I've been talking like a Zomerzet-tracker-droiver-turned-salty-old-sea-dog since the moment I woke up this morning. The oirrony of all this be that Cap'n Jack Sparrow does not himself talk in Poirate, ooarrrgh, but some kind of East London blarney. My inner poirate, howzoever it be, perzists in manifesting her zelf by zounding like the village yokel from a Thomas Hardy novel, freshly emerged from a vat o' apple zoider.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Quattrocento Ichtheology

What can part a Lexicon and her blog asunder for four days? Here's what:

Asunderer the First
Gainful employment. Dastardly business. The gainful bit's nice, though, and, y'know, short of remunerative professional otter tending, there's not much by way of employment I'd rather be doing.

Asunderer the Second
My new second-hand free telly. I spent a whole hour of my life this week watching America's Biggest Loser: The Engaged Couples Special (I'm not sure if Channel 10 actually stuck a colon in there, but given the digestive theme, it seems fitting). Two minutes in, and I was committed for the whole hour. Which engaged couple would publicly starve 'emselves to the victory of an NBC-sponsored $50, 000 wedding? Narrative drive doesn't get more subtle or compelling than that. Thank you, new second-hand free telly.

Asunderer the Third
Googlewhacking: for those not in the know (and unable to click on the link), you score yourself a googlewhack when two combined search terms (both recognised by the Google dictionary, i.e., appearing underlined in blue up in the top right hand corner of your search page) yield ONE (1), and ONE ONLY, googular hit. Not 1,630,000 hits, as in the case of "dog" and "banana". Not 0 hits, as in the case of "ichtheology" and "quattrocento". But ONE hit.

I had quite some success googlewhacking a few years ago, but evidently Google's purview has expanded somewhat since 2004, and it's jolly hard coming up with a couple of search terms that don't bring in the usual six-figure horde of results. Believe you me, I've been trying. "Bibliomaniacal" and "postcoital", "hydroponic" and "plesiosaurus", "superego" and "echidna". All rousingly well-represented lexical couplings, it seems.

Enter my cunning plan, the cunning plan that brings me straight back to the arms of my bonny blog. I can make my own googlewhacks. I just take "ichtheology" and "quattrocento", a coupling that has never before appeared on the same website; I write them down here; I publish my post. And bingo! If Isaac Newton was right, those two terms should now appear together on one - and one only - webpage.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Though the snow was crew-ell

Having tired of the Brussel's sprout diet, the Shampoo-Free-Hair Program, and the unwashed-jeans-a-thon, I am currently participating in the Seasonality Challenge. This entails ignoring the realities of meteorological change and insisting that Winter doesn't kick in until the 1st of June. Because it is not Winter, because, according to the luminaries at Seasonality Challenge HQ, it is now Autumn, and because Autumn is all about flitting around in flimsy cardigans, gathering in the acorns, and watching the apples ripen, Hôtel Harlot hasn't turned on its heater yet. No heater til Winter. No roast chestnuts either. Or bedsocks. Or rollicking garblings of "Good King Wencesles", though the snow was crew-ell.

Given that we are at the sultry zenith of subtropical Autumn for another week, Seasonality Challenge or no, I am obliged to say that it is jolly freezing. The digits have been lobbying for a pair of mittens for five days now. But it would be an affront to the autumnity of Autumn for me to capitulate. Be strong, wee fingers. Next week we'll be girt, nose to toe, in ski-suit.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

In my prime (number)

Having been well and truly outed as today's birthday gel, I have no scruples about making a public announcement: yea, verily, I be twenty-nine years exactly-like, on this 22nd May, 2007. Never before have I been so old, although the shock is minimal, thanks to my policy of self-identifying as a forty-two year old since c. 1989. I was a little worried, though, to find a document headed "Retirement Incentive Scheme" in this morning's inbox. Why not just link me to a mail-order Zimmer frame site and have done with it, eh?

Monday, 21 May 2007

I have pixel

Regular droppers-by will know that a month or two ago I parted ways with an obscenely big smellyvision, a hulking hulk who for two weeks impeded access to the Harlot kitchens and (at least, so I feared) wafted its televisual pheremones in the direction of lusty young tv burglars. Apart from its brief dalliance with this hulking hulk, Hôtel Harlot has hitherto been telly-free. Which was all more or less as I wanted it, except that it has rather hampered the Lexicon Harlot ability to add meaningfully to conversations about the latest ABC stevedoring unionist doco or what the young folk are getting up to in their bikinis at Big-Brotherville.

I was sucked into one such conversation last week, and I ruefully confessed that I didn't have a telly. I say ruefully, but there's something about the words, "Oh, I don't actually have a telly", that necessarily sounds smug: "Oh, I don't actually have a telly. While you're watching Big Brother, I'm gathered round the piano playing charades and translating Shakespeare into Sanskrit, you slave to tawdry mass culture, you."

Immediately, with smug-tolerating magnanimity, my conversationalist offers me her spare, an 18-inch Panasonic minus its aerial. I accept. I buy a set of rabbit-ears, $11 at Kmart. I have pixel. I watch the news. I learn more about AFL in seven minutes than I have learnt in the preceding 28 years. Ah, Melbourne. Bless this city, I say, where anyone can have a free telly just for sounding smug in the right quarter.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Noone can say he didn't try

"Hey lady, I'll buy you a drink? No? How about a souvlaki?"

Friday, 18 May 2007

Now with extra moult

Ah, Californians! If anyone was going to set up a we'll-turn-your-pet-hair-into-keepsake-yarn business, them's the ones for the job. Family hairlooms, indeed.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Incommunicado redivivo

Maybe it's the French philosophy; maybe it's one two many first year essays; whatever it is, I have lost the ol' communication knack bigtime. Time was when I and a coupla mates could pull off a spanking impression of functional dialogue. I'd say something. Trusty interlocutor would say something back. I'd say something else. Someone'd reply. Back and forth, hither and yon, 'twixt and 'tween, it was happening. Meaning. Across a crowded room.

Just lately, though, it's all gone to pieces. Yesterday, for instance, emerging from the gels' loo in the loo corridor at work, I spy a gent I know, going into the boys' loo. "Hello," I say. "Fantastic corridor, this one." There's no denying it's a corridor, although I suppose the "fantastic" call is open to dispute. But he doesn't reply. He looks at me as if I've just suggested we go bludgeon some penguins.

Last night on the bus, I plonk myself down next to a chap reading Gulliver's Travels. "Oh! Swift!" I say to him. "Have you read that essay where he suggests the Irish eat their babies?" He looks at me as if I've just proposed a spot of penguin bludgeoning (there's a recurring theme here). "I don't think he was serious," I add, to clear up any confusion on that front. Mr Chap buries himself in Gulliver's Travels and keeps his knees together.

This morning, I catch two squidgy green folks decimating my oregano. "Well, lookee, lookee, lookee," I say. "If it ain't two hungry caterpillars eating up my balcony. What do you think you're doing here, young persons?" No reply. As cool as cucumbers. Munch, munch, munch.

Any more of this and, inviolable as my ego is, I'm going to start thinking it's me.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Efficient use of the full stop

Tonight I read this sentence:

"We will try to determine the law which compels us (by way of example and taking into account a general remodeling of theoretical discourse which has recently been rearticulating the fields of philosophy, science, literature, etc.) to apply the name 'writing' to that which critiques, deconstructs, wrenches apart the traditional, hierarchical opposition between writing and speech, between writing and the (idealist, spiritualist, phonocentrist: first and foremost logocentric) system of all of what is customarily opposed to writing; to apply the name 'work' or 'practice' to that which disorganizes the philosophical opposition praxis/theoria and can no longer by sublated according to the process of Hegelian negativity; to apply the name 'unconscious' to that which can never have been the symmetrical negative or the potential reservoir of 'consciousness'; to apply the name 'matter' to that which lies outside all classical oppositions and which, provided one takes into account certain theoretical achievements and a certain philosophical deconstruction belonging to a not so distant time, should no longer be able to assume any reassuring form: neither that of a referent (at least if conceived as a real thing or cause, anterior and exterior to the system of general textuality), nor that of presence in any of its modes (meaning, essence, existence–whether objective or subjective; form, i.e. appearance, content, substance, etc.; sensible presence or intelligible presence), nor that of a fundamental or totalizing principle, nor even of a last instance: in short, the classical system's 'outside' can no longer take the form of the sort of extra-text which would arrest the concatenation of writing (i.e. that movement which situates every signified as a differential trace) and for which I had proposed the concept of 'transcendental signified'."


Not Cute

In the wake of recent allegations of cuteness, I am compelled to make whatever autobiographical disclosures it will take to prove the contrary. Hence the following, with apologies for more than the usual dollop of self-preoccupation.

1. I have enormous feet. Not "aw, cute puppy, feet too big for tiny body" sized feet. No. We're talking clydesdalesque, plus toes.

2. I am nearly twenty-nine years old. I accept that in the scheme of possible human ages, this is youngish, but it is, nonetheless, well removed from the cuteness zone. I have been fully grown for some years now.

3. I can say "Throw yourself to the crows" in Classical Greek. This is an extremely nasty idiom in Classical Greek speaking circles. If this were ancient Athens, I'd be cute in the sense that Scylla and Charybdis are cute.

4. I have, in my time, hosted a small selection of parasites and viruses. No need to elaborate. To the best of my knowledge, they've all cleared out.

5. Relatedly, I am considerably more interested in slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails (attached) than sugar and spice and all things nice. Not to say that I'm averse to a dusting of nutmeg on my pumpkin soup.

6. I am an aunt. Aunts: dashing, yes; rakish, yes; cute, no.

7. Grammar is my friend. Try calling someone cute while she's telling you about the articular infinitive.

8. I am more or less militant in my defence of bodily unruliness, the right to sprout, secrete, stretch and sag, or not, without shame.

9. I dig a mean hole.

10. I can put back nearly 200 grams of muesli in a single breakfast.

11. I have spare ankles, an extra one on each foot. The Bactrian camels of the ankle world. I'll post a photograph sometime, perhaps alongside my mother's Siamese toes.

12. I do not have floppy ears.

13. Or paws.

14. Or whiskers.

15. Nor do I drool endearingly in my sleep.

16. I have just checked, and my feet are 26 cm long, including toes.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Pushing the cuticles

The honours folk told me today that I'm cute. Cute! And there I was thinking myself stern and authoritative, with schoolmarm spectacles.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Faux Toes

So, I'd intended to pay tribute to my dear progenitress with never-before-seen footage of her foots. The left has the usual smattering of five toes, but two of them are conjoined up to their toe-knuckles. These rare and magnificent Siamese toes are in the very loosest sense possible a symbol for me mum (the loose sense in question being that me mum is also rare and magnificent, although otherwise not particularly toesome).

Howsoever that may be, on account of the weather (brisk, or should that be brisque?), there wasn't much opportunity to capture the maternal foot-digits on camera today (they were ensocked), so I gratuitously substitute the things that I did capture on camera, and we can but hope that me mum's toes will appear in daguerreotype at some point in the future.

Lassies and lads, I present to you Photos!, fired straight from the Canon.

These are what we in the captioning business call "leaves". They live and move and have their being in Bright. Except for the moving bit. And the living bit, actually, since these guys are more or less dead.

These, also leaves, only slightly yellower and more, like, on the ground.

Yes, leaves.

More a sort of tree, leaf, grass combination shot.

A fence. Not that any self-respecting wombat would bat an eyelid.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Bonjour, tout almond

Tomorrow I am going to the Wondilligong Nut Festival. You can make the puns yerselves.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The 'Pause.

Forget hormone replacement therapy.

N.B. This blog does not, in fact, endorse the consumption of "pure, wholesome refreshment" and advises instead responsible tippling in the hot chocolate department.

N.B.B. I am considering leading a class action, on behalf of aggrieved punctuators, against Coca-Cola Inc. for its misleading use of ellipses. Who will join in my crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade is a cola marinade, infusing clauses with false pauses.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

"What I have been doing the last few days, complete with bodily fluids", by Lexicon Harlot

1. Saying riveting things about Patrick White's autobiography to an audience of American exchange students. It may interest you to know (although it certainly didn't interest my august audience) that White constructs a direct relationship between his sexuality and his narrative method. He takes "the freedom ... conferred on me to range through every variation of the human mind, to play so many roles in so many contradictory envelopes of flesh" and implies that the shifting narrative point of view in his novels is just this same playing of different roles, reprised in ink rather than (avert your eyes, children) semen. I said semen, oh august audience! Does a single eyelid bat? No. They make 'em tough up in Amerikay.

2. Taking heart in my first year tutorials, where the dear emerging scholars (bless their cotton socks) tolerate my harangue about the importance of right and proper punctuation.
If I should die think only this of me,
There is some corner of a foreign field (Melbourne)
With greater knowledge of the apostrophe.

3. Bleeding profusely. Bring on the 'Pause, I say.

4. Trotting down to Readings bookshop for the humdinger of a launch of a humdinger of a book: Gail Jones' Sorry. I'm only forty pages in – no thanks, Patrick White – but I'm enraptured. She's Jeanette Winterson plus narrative drive. I'm waiting in some trepidation for the full weight of the political allegory to come thudding down, which it will, I'm fairly certain.

5. Buying up stocks in cauliflower. I'm not a great cauliflower enthusiast, but ten days ago it was retailing at Coles New World for $7.95 a head, and at the Thornbury Vegetable Emporium for $6.95. When I saw it going for $2.99 a head on sunday afternoon, I seized my chance. It's like my dad always told me, buy cheap, sell dear. If I'm not sitting atop a multinational cauliflower empire by the end of the month, then Bob's my monkey's uncle.

Wherein the author returns briefly from her tea break

I can't decide whether "incommunicado" is more khaki trouser or Caribbean island. Here are the basic usages, in context:

ONE, incommunicado, in+(Span.)communicado, island so called because of its equitable distribution of avocado

"So, where will you be spending the summer?" asks Fifi, ruminating on a finger nail.
"I'll be in Communicado," I reply, driving Fifi stark raving jealous with visions of pina coladas, coconuts, and ukeleles by the sea.

TWO, incommunicado, in+(Jap.)communicado, past participle of communikarate, to wear khaki trousers in combat situations. Also slang (U.S.) "to go communicado", to wear no underpants (beneath one's walky-talky).

Guerilla freedom fighter (possibly Caribbean) crawls through the jungle in camouflaged
communicado pants. Perhaps, come to think of it, he's doing a communicado crawl. Will he be able to reclaim the coconut stash? Will his ukelele give him away? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Guerillas in the Mist.

So, anyway, I've been in Communicado for the last couple of days, so much so that my valiant progenitress called the Mobile Telephone of Doom last night, boldly dialing where no parent (of mine) has dialed before. The Harlots Senior had been not a little concerned to hear via Your ABC news of a serious assault at their offsprung's workplace. (On which: it's a sad deed indeed, but it makes me glad that, though steak knives remain readily available in this here hard-boiled town, semi-automatic weaponry does not.)

Further tales of What I did During my Holiday in Communicado are on the menu. I'll be right back.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

All I am saying is give grass a chance

It has come to my attention that yesterday's ecstasies over grass generated some confusion. To clarify: by "grass", I meant, y'know, grass. This stuff:

I'm especially partial to Queensland blue couch, but also rather keen on that festucca business, and I won't say no to a good sturdy indigenous tussock.

By "grass", I did not mean marijuana, a herb, while we're on the subject, with an utterly disproportionate number of synonyms. Take coriander, one of the best darn herbs there is. How many synonyms does it have? One. Cilantro. Now take marijuana, a.k.a. hashish, hash, cannabis, grass, pot, weed, ganja, puff, blow, blah, blah, blah. Does it taste nice with haloumi and mango? No. It does not.

I've had a couple of brushes this week with the psychotropical. Yesterday, under extreme social juress, I abused a cup of Russian Caravan tea, orally. It's called Russian Caravan because it tastes of Russian caravans. Just the thing to cure a susceptible tea drunkard of prospective addiction. The day before I'd stood in the same room as a man who smelt as though he'd slept in a nest of slightly damp tobacco. I didn't allude to the pong myself, but he began to rhapsodise, unprompted, over his latest Romeo y Julieta. "Cigarettes are a habit," he said, "but cigars are a hobby." As, of course, are lawns.

By the way: snuff? Are people still sniffin'?

Friday, 4 May 2007

Alfred, Lawn Tennis on

I'll tell you what, this grass is marvellous stuff. If I were a cow, I'd be going bonkers right now.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Tender Pieces in Gravy

So, I have now dipped a tentative toe into the pond of Melburnean choralia, and I'm yet to find out whether it's full body immersion or I'm to spend my Monday evenings amusing myself. The latter wouldn't be so bad, Monday in the 'Bourne being Half Price Night at the Flicks and all.

I was a wee bit nervous. I'd had to run through the dark and gloomy copses of Carlton Gardens, chased by a horde of megalopossums. Consequently I forgot how to breathe, which made for a bad case of syllabus interruptus. There was also a bit more wobble than is quite decent in a budding chorister. "We'll be in touch", said the jovial conductor. I think this may mean "Have you considered yoga?"

The trauma of all this - the breathing, the possums, the fact (did I mention?) that I left my turquoise scarf on the tram - was enough to turn me to the demon dinner, the tin of Sanitarium Tender Pieces TM that's been sitting in my pantry for two months:

Chunks of gluten in gravy. Not just meat for vegetarians, but dogfood for vegetarians. Why?, you ask. Why, when there are perfectly tasty chickpea and pumpkin curries to be et, why would you so much as contemplate evil-looking faux meat from a tin? I do not know. It won't happen again. But while we're on the subject: vegetarian haggis, in Edinburgh, surprisingly tasty.

P.S. Bill Heffernan is a dill.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Don't move, anybody

Professor Sir James Mirrlees, from the University of Cambridge, will be delivering a seminar for the Department of Economics and Finance on A Theory of Inheritance Taxation.

And I thought Eng Lit was exciting.