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Red-rumped parrot on a gate, and other Christmas visitors

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work – Christmas 2010, rural NSW

I had to have my dog put down before Christmas.  There is no art in that, nothing but bathos.  Orwell may have made something out of shooting an imaginary elephant, but there is no poetry or great message in the death of my cute little dog.  I stayed with him as the vet went about her work, because loyalty, a dog of a virtue which excuses cover ups and mass murders, is amongst the virtues I admire most, and having made the decision that he was to die, it is not in me to simply walk away and leave the dog alone to the process.  (In the waiting room, while I held him up so he wouldn’t enage in battle with animals ten times his size, he pissed blood down my shirt, his incontinence and internal bleeding a reassurance that i was doing the right thing.)  He  wagged his tail, happy at the attention, trusting me, and blubbering though I was, I hope I did not betray that trust.  Afterwards, I reflected on my sentimentality regarding animals, and how useless I would be on a farm, unless I had some reconditioning, and my brain went into over analytical overdrive: did I do the right thing? how dare you feel like that about an animal? how dare you do what you did? do I feel enough?  do I feel too little?  And I was left with the knowledge, I don’t want to go through that again any time soon.

Then I awoke to the news of the murder of 20 little children and others.  I cannot even begin to try to get into the imaginative head space of being able to watch those children die, let alone carry out that deed.  Empathy completely fails me, though  I am a broken person, filled with my own darkness.  I can think about the pain a person may have, the anger, and draw a path that may lead to such a deed, but I cannot colour that picture in, cannot give it substance.  I do not dare to put myself in the position of any of the parents who lost a child.  For most adults who have had their fair battering from life, that is too easy an imaginative leap to make.

There is no causality between these events, they are just the order in which I experienced them.  There is no other real connection either, they are an infinite degree of both kind and magnitude apart.  We lurch from day to day, getting by as best we can, hoping for small joys, experiencing our small sorrows, and hear news from a distance of great horror.  We hope that if nothing else, some small meaning can be taken from disaster if it leads to us changing our ways.  This happened in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, but gun ownership is less entrenched in our culture.  It seems that this most recent tragedy will lead to no great change.

I am reading and very much enjoying “Unapologetic” by Francis Spufford.  He is brutal on the failure of most of theodicy to reconcile a belief in/the existence of a good and powerful God with suffering.  It is not my purpose to go into that here, but it contains one of my favourite recent quotes.  He talks of the horrors of the world, referring to Darwin’s description of a caterpillar being devoured by larvae, and more about disease and death in general, before touching on pantheism:  “To anyone inclined to think  in a happy wafty muddly way, that nature is God, nature replies: have a cup of pus, Mystic Boy.”

Here are some pictures of some recent visitors, just the usual suspects, nobody special:

Pied Currawong

always on the make…

Pied currawongs have been hanging around. I tried to feed one by hand, but we were both a bit jumpy and I threw the bread and he took it and fled.

King Parrots

always wanting a feed

A juvenile King Parrot has been making a nuisance of itself, wearing its parents out as it constantly demands a feed.  They are a beautiful bird.

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosellas are not uncommon but they are a bit flighty.  This one was comfortable in my backyard, as he was a bit hidden amongst the branches.


Morning kookaburra

Morning kookaburra

Caught this kookaburra in the morning light…

one of nature's gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

one of nature’s gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

My old friend the butcher bird, still taking thrown food on the wing …



Nothing escapes me

Nothing escapes me




















And the sulphur crested, or white, cockatoo, noisy and destructive but a true favourite of mine…

look to the left

look to the left

look to the right

look to the right














The Joe Chip Empire is in decline, there are too many other calls on my time.  Over at the Joe Chip Laboratories, we have been spitting out Tall Poppy seeds as part of our investigation of the alleged Australian disease known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome.  It is an interesting condition, a disease diagnosed by those who have been subject to scrutiny, not by those doing the analysis … at the 6th Proletarian Anarcho Lottery Syndicate, the writer proves the revolution is nigh.  Finally advice for the lovelorn, and a bunch of other stupid stuff, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?

As the fireworks begin to see off 2012, I hope there is something on these pages to justify the moments you spent looking at them.  if not, I sincerely apologise.

Until next year, I remain your faithful servant, your mate, my mate Joe Chip

this will help me into understanding more about this subject.

Indeed.  Thank you Spanish Spamster.

check out my sexual dimporphism

when a daddy koel ….

sitting around

… and a mummy koel…

coupling koels

… love each other very much, they make an egg and leave it in another bird’s nest to hatch and kill their babies, while they fly around keeping the humans awake at night …

Cuckoos getting cosy.

Your mate is concerned about world hunger.  Over at You Are What You Eat, he has provided two suggestions on how Hollywood could help wipe it out.  Angelina, its all over to you.  You have the ink, you can do it.

Your mate is concerned about the youth of today.  That is why over at WWJCD, he has provided twenty tips for healthy living, to help young people make wise choices and get out of difficult situations (“if somebody is about to stab you, try to make your body go all hard”).

Oh, and there is also this.  Something very, very important.  Please check it out.  Thanks to Bucket Man, affectionately referred to as Bucket Head.


Cuckoo Land

Greetings to you all on this National Day of Not Working For Australia.  The sun is shining, and like everyone else in Australia who is not out shooting wild pigs (4 different pig hunting magazines the last time I was at the newsagents) or at the beach (its still too cold, fools) I’m sitting around in my pyjamas.  Four weeks annual paid holidays, four weeks annual paid sick leave, 37 1/2 hour working week, low inflation, low unemployment, 3 months long service leave after ten years, paid parental leave, thats the answer to give the next time anyone in Australia ever asks “what has the union ever done for me”.  Next hobby horse.

I’m living in cuckoo land, and its not even an election year.  I’ve just wasted an hour of my life looking for a picture I took years ago of two koels mating, to post here.  (I will tag my photographs, I will tag my photographs, I will tag…)

But before I start, I did find a photograph of two galahs adapted to a very urban environment …

its still wood, isn't it?


Last year a much more serious birdwatcher than me pointed out the trilling of a fan tailed cuckoo.  There has been one nearby over the last month or so, as the various cuckoo migratory paths have opened up again with warmer weather.  For me, spring has arrived when the koel starts calling at all hours of day and night, and the other evening, I smiled instantly despite the depredations of the working day, when I heard the lonesome lover calling for a friend (anyone?  anyone?), and recognised the return of an old friend, who will now look for a nest of a wattlebird or something similar sized, to do her work for her.

Some raucous shrieking yesterday alerted me to a channel billed cuckoo, a huge big beaked dinosaur of a bird.  I’ve heard quite a few, but seldom seen them.  They are named after their bill for a good reason.  Every time I’ve been aware of one, noisy miners have come and chased them away.  Here is another bad picture of mine, of one I managed to get a bit close to.

Channel billed cuckoo

Big loud bugger

Your mate has been getting all righteous and prophetic over at the 6th Proletarian Anarcho-Lottery Syndicate, just letting the rich know what is coming their way (please).  At Poetry and Paranoia, he has a prayer (which may seem flippant or sarcastic, but it is not, it is sincere and deliberate and not mocking); a reflection on the death of Reverend Mr Moonie; and a poem about cancer and winning the lottery.

The Bulldogs lost the ARL grand final.  Football does not bring out the best in me.  I try to stay away from sports, but some things are ingrained from childhood.  My greatest failing is my loyalty, it persists and endures beyond all reason, in all aspects of my life.  I would like to apologise to my television.  I said words that I normally shy from.  My television deserves better than that, and it should not have to put up with it.  I hope it can find it within its digital heart to forgive me.  Until next time.

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Oh Bulldogs, how many times have you broken my heart?

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors …

Indeed it is, especially the X Factor.  The Joe Chip Empire stands in the audition queue jostling with the teeny boppers, unable to get sufficient attention, at least sufficient to please the writer, who is an insatiable sod (or should that be sot?)  hey everyone, look at me, here’s a picture of a flower with a bird on top!

Eastern spinebill on bottlebrush


That worked really well.

Checking the google summaries, search terms that brought you kind people to “Poetry and Paranoia”  recently include:

  • do albinos originate from albania
  • bathysphere poem
  • Michael C Hall poem
  • poems about self obsession

That last one certainly nailed it, that is the main theme here!

So what is happening?  Not much to report from the Joe Chip clearance house.  The writer has been in the Betty Ford clinic, hanging out with the wives of former presidents (the one’s not solving any middle east crises at the moment), reminiscing about the old days with Elizabeth Taylor (not reminiscing with her of course, necromancy is banned in the grounds, but you’d never know it to look at … never mind), and seeking to overcome his “Gangnam Style” addiction (Psy says dress classy, dance cheesy, I manage to be cheesy at both).  There are three recent revolutionary pieces over at the 6th proletarian whatever (and yes there really is an Edgar, and yes, he is really lazy), including some gumph about rugby league football, trying to tempt Edgar into his classic Marxist sports rant, and a lazy piece of rubbish simply linking to a mainstream newspaper column asserting the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, is a communist sleeper.

In the latest hard hitting poetry, I stick it to the man by asking whether some women have legs made of rubber.

*Sigh*  What is the point?

The following picture of Gina Rinehart is by Simon Lech, I failed to properly attribute it over there, and only Edgar can edit, so this is my correction:

All you have to lose is your chains of pearls …

Strange internet search terms …

Jessica Accardi,the possessor of a fine ability to convey with subtlety and nuance her thoughts and feelings about literature and art and other things, and who sends my heart aflutter with her love of rhubarb, beats me hands down – I had thought “hindu cryptozoology” was a strange search term to lead to my blog, but she wins with … I’m not sure I can say it.  See the comments on my post “This title is kinda vanilla” below.  I’m interested to hear what interesting google entries may have led strangers along your garden path.

No other postings this week, but here is a picture I took a few years ago of a southern boobook balancing on a palm frond.  We have had one visiting in the night recently, but no photographs I’m afraid.  This owl was wild, but residing in a State forest is perhaps used to people getting a bit close, and was not disturbed at all:

I love the scrunched eyes

Speaking of nocturnal visitors, we had a very welcome intruder the other night.  Sneaking into my front yard in pyjamas to confront a prowler, I saw a huddled shape in the driveway.  A moment later it bounded away, and in the street lights I saw it clearly: a swamp wallaby!  (While a zoologist may condemn this description, a wallaby is basically a sawn off kangaroo.)  People may think that kangaroos bound down city streets here, but they do not.  This was very unusual for me, I’ve rarely seen a wild kangaroo, as a city slicker.  A couple of nights later, he was back.  They are dark and timid and I do not hold out hopes of much of a photograph if he returns, but I’ll see what I can do.  Very exciting, its the little things that keep us going after all!

Around the traps with your mate, Joe Chip

Feeding rainbow lorikeets

Your mate extends the international socialist hand of friendship to multi-coloured comrades escaping the rain

As your mate says, don’t feed wild birds.

Most inspiring comment:  “Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been misguided by such sumptuous evocations of impossibly marxy laddies – it really is that good.”  Thank you!

Most blush inducing comment:  “I cast my eye around the mymatejoechip empire, and it occurs to me that I may, just may, be very slightly in love with him. it. you. choose a pronoun, I’m not picky.”


Like all Australians, your mate aspires to come second if not third in everything in life, and therefore he won’t give quite the attention to this post, in case it causes it to come first.  Close enough was good enough for the early settlers, and who am I to argue with people whose arms were ten times the size of my thighs?

Your mate has been very busy in charitable activities, as pictured above, feeding the starving masses, and was repaid by being pooped on, and expected no more.  On the bird front, we have had another owl visitor, a southern boobook, easily identified by its call, but no picture as it was only barely glimpsed at 5am the other day.  In another charitable activity, he was forced to watch Carnage and has vowed to seek revenge on Jody Foster’s character, or at least Jody Foster, who was as annoying as someone who narrates their blog in the third person.

Over at “You are what you eat“, things have been quiet.  I had a draft blog about taste testing bullets in preparation, but as we all know there was another massacre, and your mate left it at a few lines which no one will read.  I am a very imperfect person living in an imperfect country.  We have many failings, and this is what causes me not to just make smart arse comments about other countries, whether they be Syria or New Zeelund*.  However, you know how people laugh at North Korea and the devotion to whichever Great Leader is in power at any given time?  You know how we cannot understand how people can be like that?  For the very very little that my opinion is worth, that’s the reaction I have to the American gun fetish that simply accepts that every now and then a couple of dozen people are massacred, on top of the daily slaughter.  (Feel free to point out the failings of Austria, I will no doubt agree with your analysis.)

The revolution has not yet come to completion, due to the failure of my comrade Edgar Edgarberger to buy the lottery tickets that will ultimately fund the uprising.  I have given some tips on books to read to pass the time until the socialist utopia is established (I understand from reading other posts that “Obama-care” has rendered the US a communist state, so that is a positive move).  I have no editing power over at that site, and neglected to include Adam Roberts in my list of contemporary writers who keep referencing revolutionary themes.  “Yellow Blue Tibia” is a demented novel in a post Chernobyl setting which somehow posits a connection between Soviet science fiction and an alien invasion which both has and has not occurred.  “New Model Army” has private armies being established through social media, composed almost of weekend soldiers who regularly defeat the standing armies of nation states and then melt back to their homes and day jobs.  The recent “By Light Alone” has a world where hunger has been removed by genetically engineering the body so that we photosynthesise through our hair.  Yes, you guessed it, it made everything worse, and the masses are on the rise, at least if its a sunny day.  (Please comment on the site and ask Edgar where the hell he is.  I am not clever enough to know whether it is ironic that he is unable to blog because of work commitments.)

Your mate is nothing if not a bad artist.  At Poetry and Paranoia, he has blogged “Loving the Alien” in memory of Ray Bradbury;  commented on “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (and I must insert an errata here – I thought I had to apologise to the JWs for accusations of laziness because they don’t bother me anymore, as I discovered a Watch Tower on my desk – I later found that someone else thought it would be amusing to deliver it for them, so I withdraw my apologies they are lazy, and Jehovah will not be happy with them (nor with me, no doubt)); posted the lyrics of the soon to be number one hit, “Albino Girl“; and drew tears with “The Polygamist’s Lament“, noting that three is the loneliest number, its one too many to rhumba.

And if you missed my post below, and are interested in noir, crime, thrillers, that sort of thing, you may be interested in purchasing “SAD JINGO” by fellow blogger Ron Dionne, one of our fellow bloggers, because it is good and it is cheap.

Thank you for any attention you paid to my rant.  As a reward, here is a picture of a grey butcherbird.  It is a caroling bird, and I am awoken by its beautiful song most mornings.  It gets its name from its predatory behaviour and its habit of storing the carcasses of small birds in the forks of branches, either for later consumption or as some sort of hobby.  It would not deign to eat from my hand, but they will zoom through the air and pluck from gravity’s grasp any bread or meat tidbits I throw them.  Nice.

Grey Butcher Bird

I’ll start with the bread …

* I liked the Kiwi commentator who announced that the Australian Olympic team had changed its colours to green and silver (previously green and gold).  And Australians who have been annoyed by the Commo Bank ads during the Games broadcasts will like the internet comment “so the ‘T’ was right after all!” – I’d attribute if I knew where it came from, but I love it!

Most excellent echidna, most spiny anteater

Don't get too close

Don't get too close ...

Another not so good photograph, but I record my encounter this evening with a nocturnal ambler 5 minutes walk from my home.   (My photographs are not as good as Mike’s, but I still wanted to brag about this meeting.)  It was an overcast afternoon, a light drizzle here.  I heard some movement in the bush and froze, hoping something interesting was about (and always cautious its not something that finds me, or more likely my wallet, interesting).  I thought there was a possibility it was a goanna.  I stayed still long enough and this fellow came along.  I was very happy to see this short beaked echidna, out and about a little early.  They are an ancient life form – the echidna and the platypus are the only extant monotremes, ie egg laying mammals, so they go back to early days of mammal evolution.

Thank you to those who comment in various places on my pieces.  A yell out this week to Thirsty Murphy, who put me onto Die Antwoord, and who has had me googling local kung fu schools to find a replacement for karate which has taken too much out of my knees and ankles.  In a similar vein, I am looking forward to the upcoming publication of “How Not to Get Hit” by Nathaniel Cooke in three months.

So: what has been happening around the Joe Chip Empire?  Here we go:

While there are some Trevor pieces in preparation, the fermentation is not complete.  A couple of alleged poems have been reblogged here recently, but you may wish to check them out in their natural environment over here.  (Of course if you prefer real poetry by a real poet, you would look here.) As well as a poem about the tragedy that is the story of Casper the tamed, hobbled, crushed so-called “friendly” ghost, the Marxian consequences of this disturbing story are considered here.  A warning to men who wish to stray because their wives do not understand them is here (speak more clearly, and perhaps brush your teeth occasionally).  Most importantly, fellow scientists, I have been wondering why we do not eat rocks, and acknowledging that I cannot eat eyes.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but nothing has inspired me to actually say anything, so I won’t.  I’ve picked up a copy of “Basic Black”, tales of fear by Terry Dowling, and on the strength of a story I blogged about a little while back, I am very much looking forward to reading it.  I am at 75 000 words on the second draft of my own novel.  I say that out loud because it may make me have to do more work on it.

And as a reward for putting up with some not so good photographs, here are some pictures of a regular visitor to my home.  I feed them sometimes though I know I shouldn’t.  I have loved cockatoos since I was a young child, but it is not good to encourage them, they are very destructive.

very clever beggar

White cockatoo

very clever beggar

nice and fluffy

Old Tawny

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny frogmouth - nocturnal visitor

Often mistaken for an owl, being of similar size and nocturnal habits, this is a Tawny Frogmouth.  I’ve come across them a few times.  This one was across the road from my old house, which was a nice surprise on returning home one winter evening a few years ago.

Those who place their faith in the competition of ideas and the holy grail of peer reviewed science should read “Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic” by Pamela Weintraub.  Self interest, self aggrandisement and self promotion are as rife in medical science as any other field of human endeavour, and just as often at the expense of truth and the well being of others.  I live in a country that does not even recognise lyme disease as existing within its borders, so that sufferers are seen as malingerers and liars.  This is an issue very close to my heart, and this book was more terrifying than any of the horror stories I read, but still, a very important books to read.  70 million stars out of ten.

Something strange is happening in Glossolalia – three reports in three weeks!  This week, read how childhood used to be – riding bikes, hiking, swimming unsupervised, building tree houses, wandering zombie haunted caverns – back in the days before children were cossetted and wrapped in cotton wool by helicopter parents.  Back in the good old days before Trevor ruined everything.  (Wander down an abandoned mine in my world and you are not going to meet the Wizard of Alderley or grumpy but kindly dwarves.)

Speaking of mines, were you aware that industrial rocks cannot fall from the sky and hit Albania?  Its a scientific impossibility, proven in poem.  And speaking of rocks and science, over at the Joe Chip Laboratory (somewhere around the corner from the Ponds Institute for the Morally Disabled), we have been taste testing rocks.  All in the name of science, and all for you, dear and gentle reader.

And on that note, farewell for now, and to paraphrase Jeff French, Readers, I love you all…

Yours faithfully,

Your mate,

My mate Joe Chip

The Power

Powerful Owl

Powerful Owl

This is not a great photograph, in fact it is not even a good photograph.  The light, the bush, my camera and my skill levels were all against me.  However I have not come across owls in the wild very often, and wanted to share my encounter with a Powerful Owl.  It is the largest owl in Australia, and in my state is listed as “vulnerable”.  This photograph was taken in Sydney Botanical Garden.  They mate at this time of year and can be heard calling particularly in March and April.  I have been fortunate to hear at least one over the last few weeks at home, but not spotted it yet.  I will try to keep to half decent photographs in future, but this one was more about the excitement of finally seeing one of these beautiful animals in the wild.  Check out those talons.

Joe Chip is at home amongst the dead this week.  I appreciate the interest of those who subscribe to and visit this site.  If I could ever encourage you to click on any of the links to have a look at my other work, could I encourage you to have a look at “Not Trevor” this week please?  It is not an easy site to publicise, and it is strangely personal.  Many thanks to those who have a look.

Attempts at humour and poetry appear here and here.

If anyone comes across Edgar Edgarberger, please tell him to get in touch.

Little Corellas … of Death!!!

Privet. Must. DIE.

Little Corella gorging on privet berries

Little corella

Snap away, I don't care

Well, there’s a title for you.  They are a threat to berries.

Not an uncommon bird around here any more, they appear seasonally, following the food.  This particular privet is now gone, the tree is a weed, a real pest and nuisance.  They are widespread and have altered the ecological balance, so that former large predators, such as currawongs, that were migratory, no longer have to leave for the winter, so smaller birds are under attack all year round.  Wrens and robins have now disappeared from many places.

Your mate has slowed down his posting.  He has decided to come clean.  For years he has been working on a horror novel.  (It may be crap, it maybe at least as rubbish as all the others he moans about, but it will be his, whether it is ever published or not.  All he can promise is a monster, and that many people die.)  Along the lines of Julia Cameron’s “morning pages”, the various blogs have been a good stimulus.  Now (dropping into the first person) I need to spend more time on the actual story, as the most recent draft is more than two thirds along, so there should be less done online.

Please feel free to click on some of the links below and check out your mate’s other posts, it makes him feel good for a little while …

For the first time in a long time, there is new entry over at “Not Trevor“, in fact, it is the Genesis of the Daleks, or not quite, it is the first time Trevor notices the existence of your not-quite-a-hero, whose name happens to also be Joe Chip.  Please have a look, it was a long time coming.

Your mate has been rhapsodising poetically about his lunchtime adventures when briefly free from the cubicle of death.  First about the young Mormon missionaries keener to evangelise to pretty young Asian girls than to your mate, and then about a strange day when everyone he passed seemed to have a scar.

You may be surprised that woolly little lamb scrotums (scrota?) do not taste like chicken, but that is our function at the Joe Chip Laboratories, to expose these and other truths.  And your mate provides assistance to a wandering fool thinking that there are loopholes to life, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?

This weeks yell out goes to Mike585 who wanders about marshes at night encountering badgers and foxes and toads, and records it wonderfully in words and photographs.  The patience this man has!  This is a really cool blog.

Reading: The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake; Necroville by Ian McDonald.  I like McDonald a lot, really enjoyed Cyberabad Days, The Dervish House, and Brasyl.  I am finding this a little hard to get into, but I suspect the fault is mine, the clutter in the writing is deliberate but at the moment I need some clarity and simplicity.

I finished The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein.  Bits were good, but overall not for me.  Its on a couple of lists of all time best vampire books and many people write about it favourably.  I did not find the terror creeping, because I did not care very much about the characters.  I am not a professional reviewer and as I have said before, I am not very articulate about these things, but I did not get what I wanted from this.  This does not make it a bad book, just not a great fit for me.  However, it did have me thinking about the nature of the vampire, and our ties to time and familiar settings.  Another book on one of those lists was “Fangland” by John Marks, and that did not do much for me either.  The failure is no doubt with me and my laziness and requirement for genre expectations to be fulfilled.  If I enter a leisurely stage of life again (like the times when I could meander through Tolstoy and Dostoevsky), I will lift my game, I promise.  I would like to be like the cool kid who never likes the second album of any band, and who is ahead of the game and finds the most wonderful obscure tidbits, but my favourite vampire books of recent years have both been massive best sellers: “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist and “The Passage” by Justin Cronin.  I look forward to the upcoming re-release of Kim Newman’s “The Bloody Red Baron”.