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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!


it was a strange journey … a “Not Trevor” incident…

My grandfather sits in the ruin of his house.  It is always night when I am here.  The sky is my skull, a low dome seen from the inside.  His jaw is strong and held hard, grinding the fossils of his teeth.  (Even if he still smoked, he could not.  His pipe stem could not be forced between those lips.  It would be snapped by those teeth.  The end of it would stay in that mouth a hundred years, preserved.)

Wind sweeps the ash.  I do not feel the cold.  I stare at the strength of that head.  I remember bending and kissing that head, like a child’s, as it laid on a pillow.  The man I never kissed, who always shook hands.  The skull beneath the skin.

That he came back to sit here, among the ruins.  He does not decay, instead the house does.  Each time I come, it has deteriorated further, taking his place in the grave.  The elements do not bother him.  If the wind wears him, if water drips him away, leaching away the minerals of him a drop at a time, perhaps it is for the best.  Perhaps it is what he desires.  As he weathers, mountains are ground down, oceans rise, seas fall.  Forests grow and are consumed.  The constellations shift, all sped up for him.  He is the Time Traveller, he is Rod Taylor in his chair, encased in stone, then freed again.  In my visits, I am a shadow.  I am the flickering ghost.  It is I who am death, I am mortality.  We are worn down around him.

Read the rest …

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!