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Here is part of a poem about cancer

Surprise

Cancer too is a prize

You don’t have to queue at the newsagent’s

to buy a ticket

They slip it in with the teddy bear,

the beatrix potter china setting,

the first photograph album,

unnoticed.

The final draw may be foreshadowed

in the missed stitch in the booties

grandma made

put aside, only used at your Baptism.

(“It was her last pair.  Do you think she knew?”)

Unlike the contents of your bowels

or your most recent projectile vomit,

it is not discussed in polite company.

You can read the rest of my cancer poem here.  It is a change from poems about tv shows, I suppose.

I will not be posting as much as I once did.  I am attempting to spend more time on writing fiction.  As they say in the classics, life is short, time to get my finger out and have a red hot go.  Two funerals this week, though caring for a sick person I could only get to one.  It tends to focus the mind.

“i am an albino girl poem”

Favourite internet search term of the week, which led some unfortunate browser to my haunting melodious lament, “Albino Girl”, who wasn’t even Albinanian.

Where do the years fly?  The Joe Chip Empire is crumbling.  The barbarians are at the gates, and Edgar’s wandered off – he was only supposed to be buying a packet of chips and a can of creaming soda, but I bet he’s in the record shop.  The blogs lie untended, slowly being covered by drifts of sand as the climate changes and the deserts spread (ahh, if only the desserts would spread – slowly encroaching lemon meringue pie would not be such a horror, though the fact I write of such visions may explain why my belly is not so slowly encroaching on my belt).

Australians love order.  They like to think of themselves as anarchic larrikins, but that is a complete load of bullshit.  You only have to look at the seasons.  In the northern hemisphere, they think it is still summer.  But how can it be, when here in Australia spring has been declared?  We do not let nature get in our way, hence the devastation of our environment.  Spring commences on 1 September here, we care naught for equinoxes and solstices and unofficial unlegislated astronomical stuff.  When I raise this with no doubt mightily bored compatriots at the change of each season (I can bore for Australia, it is one of my Olympic events, I won silver), they say things like “Hey my mate Joe Chip, you’re talking about natural, seasonal spring”.  WHAT OTHER KIND IS THERE?????  Idiots.

Sorry, please forgive me, I need calm in my life.  My only balm is the arts, and of course by the arts I mean poetry, and of course by poetry I mean doggerel.  Hence the only place there has been any Joe Chip action lately is in “Poetry and Paranoia.  Looking at the blog, I am a little worried about the writer.  I applaud his continuing television poetry and his murderous effort in “Dexter“.  TV poetry is the new art form for those who don’t wander lonely as a rain cloud in a spate of good weather.  However, I worry if he is slipping into premature middle age, with his comments in “Stuff” about how it is good that he is not ten years younger (for goodness sake, he’s only seven, what is he going on about?), because who knows what he might try with someone nameless that no doubt would lead to the same disaster it would have led to ten years ago; and then in the beautifully named “Ugly Fat Old Man” he writes tenderly about how he we deteriorates before his our eyes.  I knew there was something to worry about long ago, noticing how he writes in the third person about himself.

Now what is in all this for the reader?  Here is a picture I took in Penang of a wild dusky leaf monkey in the botanical gardens – sorry, no bird this time.

As you can see, I am eating leaves

Yes good on you you found a monkey after looking for hours, think you’re pretty good don’t you, wait until the macacques ambush you on the way out

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

This is my favourite, for all sorts of personal reasons. I liked it so much it has just about killed this blog for me, unfortunately as I quite liked playing around with it, but I feel I have set a standard I cannot reach. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is not the Sistine chapel, I am just talking about what I am trying to achieve in this little pool. Oh well.

Not Trevor

News of the bus misadventure in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.

Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young.  How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time.  I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”.  Then he opened his mouth:

“Children.  Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about.  Did you know that flight is impossible?”

How intrigued I was.  I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day…

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Sticky beak

 

If only the beak had been on the other side ... if only he hadn't gotten himself so blurry

My best photo of an azure kingfisher so far, I have a lot of work to do on these.  They usually fly off before I can get my camera ready, so I’ll have to be a little bit happy with this.

Your mate has been busy and has a lot of work to do, so not much in the way of commentary today.  He has solved all of the world’s food security problems here.  I am a little surprised that he has gone all tabloid on us here and provided details of his own personal Cuban crisis ( a sultry night … a chance encounter … with JFK … you join the dots, but not on your screen, the ink may not come off).  He provides well meant advice on delicate family relationships here, but one is left wondering whether he understands what understands means.  He’s even managed to pen and publish a poem about adolescent longing and sunburn here.  True art.

Your mate was in geek boy heaven this week watching Shark Harbour.  What more could one ask for from a documentary – sharks, gadgets, sharks, cameras on sharks, satellite tracking devices on sharks, shark attacks, sharks?  I got to watch people at work who are absolutely enthused about what they do.  Your mate is passionate about very little (he is a plastic doll, after all, as evidenced by his gravatar), but he so likes to see enthusiasm in others.  It was odd, I was sitting there watching it (it isn’t gruesome) and I realised that I was feeling happy.  You have to realise that in my part of the world, reports of shark sightings and shark attacks are portents of Christmas, and I suspect there was a bit of childish enthusiasm bubbling up around that, together with some excitement about “safe fear” (that will not feel so safe next time I am at the beach).  Every Christmas holidays, the newspapers would report dangers and crises – funnel web spider bite fatalities, shark attacks, “Deadly blue ringed octopus found in children’s pool”, stranger danger, and brewery strikes, so that now emergencies give me a Christmassy feel.

 

 

 

 

 

The Crimson Pimpernel

Crimson Rosella

There we go, as promised in various places, if you don’t like the words, at least there is a bird to look at.

Your mate really has no business blogging when there are so many other calls on his time, such as hiding from creditors and looking at birds, but he cannot let you down.

Looking around the Joe Chippish traps, a message has got through from Glossolalia, though it is hard to understand.  I suspect evil Trevor has been up to something.  In honour of Valentine’s Day, the Joe Chip laboratories have conducted an in depth analysis of love (scientific name: LERV), to see what its all about, Alfie.  You may be surprised at our results.  Or you may not.

Continuing with the romantic theme, you may be intrigued by the strange attraction your mate has to the Australian billionaire, Gina Rinehart, and the question he asks: does she have ninjas?

In the poetic realms, we consider the effect of the cryptid creature, the numb-bat, and those who seek its bite to remove all feeling, and why light is a bad thing.  (Who is this “we”, Joe?  I don’t know, you tell me, Joe.)

This week’s shout out goes to Osteoarch, who is a freelance osteoarchaeologist, and how cool is that?  Most interesting job description I’ve come across in a while, and she gets to wear a white coat in her pictures, which I don’t.  Check out her site.

Just finished “Embassytown” by China Mieville, the bestselling communist fantasist.  He continues with an obsession about religion.  In earlier books such as “Perdido Street Station” he wrote of demons, though they were throughgoing materialists, existing on the physical plane.  In “Kraken” he was a bit more direct, depicting a London populated by members of thousands of obscure and generally warring sects.  He has a respectful Marxist approach to religion – he does not believe a word of it, but acknowledges it as a real and continuing part of human existence.  While a complete sceptic, he does not take the dismissive approach of a Dawkins or Hitchens, no doubt in part stemming from his Marxism, in that religion cannot be reasoned away until the material conditions of humanity change and the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system are resolved and the state withers away and so on – he has his own apocalyptic agenda whether he realises it or not.  I don’t know that too many religious believers would see themselves reflected in “Kraken”, though perhaps their detractors would.  yes, they can be evil, intolerant, scheming, whatever, but they can also be loyal, devoted, selfless and self sacrificing – in other words, human.  However, religion is reduced to subscribing to an arbitrary series of postulates (unlike, say, Marxism).

Here, the theological concerns are definitely non-theistic.  In “Embassytown”, humanity is confronted with a pre-lapsarian world, with creatures who cannot lie.  This is no “Case of Conscience” James Blish world – they are not innocents – they scheme, they kill, they profit.  However, for purely Darwinian reasons, they cannot lie.  Humanity then introduces the serpent into their world.

It is all very interesting, however for all the discussion in reviews of the cleverness in its discussion of language and so on, it still felt arbitrary.  This thing happens because these creatures happen to do this when this other thing happens.  Hardly a criticism, I know, isn’t that a description of life, however I don’t know that it is justified to raise the discussion of the book as high as it has gone in some circles.  It is one of the slimmest of his books (his books are getting a lot shorter than when he started, whether that is a good thing depends upon how much you were enjoying them), but frankly I thought it could have been a lot thinner.

There are many excellent science fiction touches.  I enjoyed the Turing machine, however it left me feeling a bit stupid – its role just drops off, and I  was left thinking that I must have missed something obvious about it and its inability to adapt.  Perhaps there was a comment in there about Turing machines being a test of whether humans are conscious independent sentient beings that I missed in reading it on my daily commute.  The stuff about interstellar travel on the immer and floaking are fairly lovely for those who enjoy sf.  Philip K Dick when interviewed  said that the pleasures of reading AE van Vogt for him included that they hinted at things unseen.  There are plenty of hints in this book – interdimensional lighthouses built in the immer – leading to the irony of the narrator, existing in a world so exotic to us, being led by the human instinct to leave her humdrum existence behind and strike off into even further beyond.  Whatever we reach, there is always something further.  However, while I enjoyed these aspects, to me they were a little bit of a cheat.  When I was elbowing my way into the novel, trying to settle in and get comfortable, there was a scene of a ship returning from the immer that was insufficiently quarantined.  Suddenly, something breaks out, and reality begins to be converted into the stuff of the creature.  A monster from the true beyond, something strange, a great weird moment.  I thought this was a hint of the crisis to come, of the crux of the novel.  No, it was mostly a throw away scene.  *Sigh*

An intriguing premise, some lovely dollops of weird, but in terms of playing with words and their manifestation, I preferred the playfulness of Steven Hall’s “The Raw Shark Texts”.  Perhaps I am shallow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Your mate loves youse all!

I am the King

Its good to be the king

You may like to click on a few links and see what else your mate has been up to this week.  Your mate has felt very poetic, as well as very Erich von Danikenish.  He has carried out a thorough scientific but also poetic analysis of ancient astronauts and relationships with fathers here.  In a not unrelated vein, he has considered what car God drives and resolved all intra-religious bickering about the issue of evolution here.  It is good to get these things settled and out of the way.

Speaking of things poetical, there is even a ditty about Leonard Cohen picking is nose.

If you did not catch last weeks “Not Trevor”, you may be interested, given the almost psychic way your mate predicted the announcement this week by an Australian scientist that a solution to environmental problems in Australia’s Northern Territory may be to release wild elephants.

Your mate has given advice to a fellow about the marriage his parents have arranged for him.  Heartfelt.  Touching.  Emotional.  Check it out here.

Interested in China and martial arts?  WHY WOULDN’T I BE, MR CHIP? Exaccerly.  This week’s shout out goes to Nathaniel, who can tell you how not to get hit.

This week:  Watched Moon.  Enjoyed it very much, even though they used a forbidden idea.  Read “The Afrika Reich” by Guy Saville – the action keeps rolling, interesting but less plausible than Deighton’s SS-GB, but I get annoyed when I get to the last page and find there is a sequel coming, which is not really a sequel, but a continuation.  Reading “The Watcher” by Charles MacLean – certainly horror, and getting weirder.  Worth a read: “Things we didn’t see coming” by Steve Amsterdam.