Friday, 30 January 2009

The funniest thing you will ever read

Ran into some blokes in the lobby downstairs. They're upgrading the heating system.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ugh.

This weather is untenable


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Amazing scientific discovery

You read it here first, scholars: the answer to an enigma that has perplexed physicists for centuries: how do fans work? To Galileo and Newton, the operation of the fan presented a mystery less soluble than indifferent calculus and the laws of Jupiter and the heliothingy view of the thingy. Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schödinger maintained an embarrassed silence on a subject they couldn't begin to fathom.

"Ah, the fan question," Albert Einstein famously remarked. "If I could answer that, they'd call me one of the finest minds of the twentieth century."

Now, at the dawn of a new age, an age that shall henceforth be known as almost-February 2009, I, I have answered the question, "how do fans work?"

It goes like this, see: When your sweat evaporates, it cools you down. This is because of atoms. But once you've cooled down, the air around you is sodden with your evaporated sweat, and it won't absorb any more of your sweat, so you stop being cooled down through evaporation, and you get hot again. A fan, see, it shoves the sodden air away from you. It does this by exerting a force. (Note, technical physics term. Force.) And it pushes new dry air into proximity with your skin. This is called the Theory of Special Relativity. And now your sweat can evaporate again and cool you down, through the action of atoms. And that, ladeez and gennulmen, is how fans work. It also explains why it's harder to cool down when it's very humid, even if you have a fan, because ALL the air is sodden, but this is a point I'm going to save up for my second book.

UPDATE! I've figured out how clothes work!

UPDATE THE SECOND! My armpit hairs are at peak curliness!

UPDATE THE THIRD! If it doesn't cool down soon, I'm going to do my lolly. Not that that's a threat or anything.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Why did I ever move to this infernal hellpit?

For your information: I am not leaving my office until the temperature drops below 40º C. I have enough overripe apricots to last me til morning, and if last night is anything to go by, Harlot Heights has turned into a 49 square metre slow-bake oven.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Wherein Lexicon Harlot links to Other Blog

Personally, I love John Pilger, and I believe every tale of murderous capitalist self-interest he sends my way, but ha! Double ha!

Preston Day

As Australians today put aside their differences and celebrate two hundred and twenty-one years of attempted genocide, alcoholism, and lambchops for tea, it brings me great pleasure to offer up a little tribute to the Australian suburb I now call home: Preston.

Preston perches at the northern edge of pre-war Melbourne, and looks down (altitudinally) on the low-lying climes of Thornbury and Northcote. Besides such varied attractions as the Preston Markets, the Preston tram depot, the People's Republic of Northland Shopping Centre, the gutted shell of the South Preston post office formerly known as the South Preston post office, the Darebin Creek bicycle path, and the Preston Hotel, Est. 1923, or so, Preston also boasts:

Thriving businesses! Including the retailer of Melbourne's CHEAPEST electric recliner/lift chairs. Other suburbs also sell electric recliner/lift chairs, but theirs are not as cheap.

Art Exhibitions! Including this photographic display of Man With Wristwatch But No Shirt, erected for the public edificiation in someone's front yard. Note also: still-life with telephone directories.

Mid-century architecture! Observe, especially, porthole, Ionic pillars, curved-glass windows, stepping stones, immaculate lawn, appealingly contoured chimney, two-tone brickwork, green-painted guttering, original terracotta roofing, and fanned entrance steps. If I lived in this house, I would add dahlias and gladioli.

Disused factories and warehouses! This one is only a rezoning permission away from turning into a boutique appartment block with own electric recliner chairs.

Next week: Laundromats of Preston.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Overheard at the St Kilda Readings

"Wait a minute, mum. I just want to read about the public transport network of Barcelona. [Pause.] Can we buy this?"

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Cat on the Hat

One sunny sweltry summer's day
Leonard Cat came round to play.
She tapped her toenails on the door.
No answer, so she took her paw
And walloped on the window pane.
"Meow," she said. "Meow," again.
I let her in. She came inside,
And instantly my desk she spied.
She sat down on my Max Nordau,
Emitted a precise meow,
Said "Let me walk on your computer.
This way your essay will be cuter."
"Okay, okay, but don't delete it.
Leonard! Not the caps lock! Beat it!"
I tried to coax her down. Her purr
Deterred me from my task. Her fur
Was getting in my keyboard, oh
Her rear end rested on Rousseau.
Concerned for paper and for print,
I fired at her my final hint:
"See this room? It's yours to roam –
The couch, the chairs, my whole damned home –
Just leave my papers to themselves
And stay away from all my shelves."
She stretched, she stared, she downright grunted,
She jumped down from my desk, affronted,
And sashayed over to the table
While I replugged my broadband cable.
I tried to focus on my thesis,
Disarrayed by her kinesis.*
I tried to get a sentence down,
A noun, a verb, another noun,
But where was Leon? Where was she at?
Leonard was sitting on my hat.

The End, though, y'know, I could go on, about the cup of tea I made, and how I checked my email, and how she's still sitting on my hat. It's all happening round here, let me tell you.

* It's at this point that I surrender all hope for the future of rhyming couplets.


will not make you brainier.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Loud Cat

About a month ago, Comrade Guadalupe and I were minding our own business in the backblocks of Northcote when THE MOST ENORMOUS CAT I HAVE EVER SEEN ran up to us and emitted a roar so stentorian I actually jumped. It wouldn't have been polite to quiz him about his parentage, but I've been considering the logistics of fog-horn/tiger dalliances ever since.

"HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!" said Loud Cat, before lying down in the middle of the road, rolling onto his back, and shouting, "PAT!"

Having spent far far far too long with our bottoms wedged into the upholstery of the public transpotato yesterday, Comrade Guadalupe and I decided to return to the backblocks of Northcote, limber up our glutei maximi, and keep our ears peeled for the lawnmowerish purr of Loud Cat at his ease.

No Loud Cat.

Was it a sign? Did the absence of Loud Cat betoken the folly of shambling around suburbia when I should have been writing my conference paper?

I figured it out today, as summer blew into Melbourne like an infernal portable hair-dryer with bonus Vesuvianismus. Loud Cat, sensible chap that he is, has got himself a berth as official basso profundo in a Norway-based opera company, and he is right this minute rehearsing for Don Giovanni in Oslo. Very wise, Loud Cat.

It has been revoltingly hot today. Guinea-pig-deadeningly hot. The only people who like this kind of weather are ants. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because they can dismantle all the dead guinea pigs and take bits back to their nests.

I would like to make two special honorary mentions. Firstly, well done, electric fan. Your air-churning has been above and beyond the call of duty. Secondly, thank you, rotation of the earth. I cannot overstate my enthusiasm for the whole sunset-night-temperature-reduction thingy.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Carbon dioxide has feelings too

Mine august employer has spent the summer decommissioning native trees from around campus and replacing them with pine chip mulch. How is this in line with the new Environmentally Sustainable University policy? Well, der, everyone knows trees use up water.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

And sow it came to pass

I was taking my blighted knee* for a recuperative lollop this evening, when I happened upon a municipal tablet, which tablet proclaimed that I stood on the site of Preston's first factory. A button works, perhaps? A toothpaste tubery? A dark Satanic treadmill mill? Alas, no. My feet were planted on the sullied earth of an erstwhile bacon manufactery, est. 1862. For a moment there I thought I could hear the little grunts and squeals of piggy-wig ghosts, speaking in mid-Victorian Melbourne dialect, and then I realised it was the 86 tram struggling along Plenty Road.

I thought I knew Preston. I'd read the bit in Loaded where Christos Tsiolkas explains that Preston is where you go if you want to have sex with Turkish men in toilets. There's a perfect amenities block not a minute's walk from my front door.

But noone mentioned that I'd be haunted by the avenging spirits of the porcine and the wronged.

* No longer so blighted. I am pained to admit that the surly doctor was in the right when she shrugged off my queries about amputation and told me to sod off and rest it for a week.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Water, now with added putridity!

My sister recently noticed a brand of bottled water touting itself as "Organic Water". It brought back fond memories of the great Sydney cryptosporidium saga of '98.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Lesson for the Day

Everything tastes better with cinnamon.

Avenaceous hæcceity, anyone?

Back in my misspent youf, I did done a speed-reading course. This speed-reading course was in fact a speed "reading" course, where "reading" meant training one's eyes like a pair of leggy greyhounds upon a slab of steak that hurtled around the inner rim of the Wentworth Park dog track while blokes in brown suits jumped up and down on their tippy-toe toes waving betting slips in their sweaty-hand hands, and the greyhounds would get to the bottom of the page with their tongues hanging out and their bellies ravening and it turned out that the steak was now on the next page and the greyhounds didn't got nuffing to show for it. Which isn't my idea of reading. Handsome though greyhounds are. Disinclined to catch the hurtling steak though I generally am.

I did learn one good thing from the speed-"reading" course, though: if you want a new word to stick, you should try to use it three times in twenty-hour hours. Over the decades, this practice has led me to commit the odd conversational peculiarity. To wit: "Gosh, mum, this is a xenomorphic potato!"; "Wilbur, if you keep weeing on that grass, you'll completely dephlogisticate it"; "Anyone for a spot of runcation before dinner?" This is why I am Australia's most sought-after dining companion.

This week's fancy new word is avenaceous, "pertaining to oats", which swung into my orbit thanks to Tuesday's A Word A Day email. Sadly, my house-guest du jour declined porridge this morning, so I was deprived of an opportunity to discuss the avenaceousness of our breakfast. Likewise, no one has solicited my opinion on Dr Samuel Johnson's avenaceous remarks:

And this week's loathsomest word, a pile of syllables that should have been put on the boat and sent straight back to the mediaeval scholastic cesspool whence it sprung, is hæcceity, meaning "thisness". "Thisness" is a perfectly lovely word for a concept I rarely feel the need to discuss. "Hæcceity", on the other hand, a word that recurs with disheartening frequency in the thesis I am reading, sounds like the noise you make after drinking a pilchard milkshake.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Ow is the new Om

Is this the new hypochondria? I've torn the medial collateral ligament on my left knee (so says Dr Surliness Incarnate That'll Be $55), and, you will be rightly appalled to hear, I'm mildly chuffed. This is my first ever sporting injury - we're assuming here that tripping down the stairs at the gym constitutes "sport" - and I'm planning to wring from it every drop of athletic street cred that can be wrung from a sore knee by a bespectacled nerdypants inept in the ways of the gymnasium stairwell. Expect casual exposures of my beige support bandage, exaggerated winces, a steely grimace as I haul my withered limb onto streetcar 86.

To my abject horror, Dr Surliness Incarnate didn't prescribe a month of novel-reading and mangoes, but suggested I go back to the gymkhana and pedal my way to health and happiness. Bah.

In other medical news, I appear to be post-wart.

Monday, 5 January 2009

It's been a long time between thinks

I have been an unconscionably absent blogger, and I herewith apologise for leaving you all (yes, you, Mum) in quivering anticipation. My brain hath on vacation been, and it was only today, upon my body's joyful reunification with the workplace, that I remembered how to type.

And a good thing, too, because: I was reduced to indecorous cackles this evening at the gym, many thanks to that paragon of current affairs reporterie, Today Tonight. Its special feature on the Australian illiteracy pandemic (Boy interviewed in shopping mall can't spell "receive"! Quick! Someone fetch a box of chalk and a slipper!) was accompanied by the text, "Arithmatic Reading Writing".


"Arithmatic", more commonly known by the orthographers amongst us as "arithmetic". Joyous ironies like that don't come my way too often; though on the joyous irony front, there was stiff competition from the "Hurry, everybody, panic! Studies show that we're more anxious than ever!" story, and from Today Tonight's Expert on the psychobiology of "cradle snatching", which Expert observed, "I don't mean to be sexist, but men are more visual and more fickle than women". No, that's not sexist, and women are naturally better at frosting cupcakes. Today Tonight really is the go-to show for masochistic ironiphiles such as m'self.

Seeing I've already outed myself as an antisocial pedant, cast thine een over this headline: "Finally, Australia get a break". Australia has apparently become a plural noun, possibly of Australium. If anyone still needed convincing that the Piddly Morning Herald ain't half the broadsheet it used to be, look no further. Mutter, mutter, grumble, snort.

Where did I leave my Zimmer frame?

In other news entirely: puppy!