The Fall of Arthur

THE FALL OF ARTHURfallarth
J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien
HarperCollins, May 2013

Guinevere will always remain the Yoko Ono of Arthurian romance. For men of a certain bent, she summons to mind the new wife or girlfriend of their old friend, who now threatens to intrude upon the Round Table of their male camaraderie. What if she doesn’t just stay at home and darn his socks? What if she wants us to see her as a person, not just our friend’s possession? Already, she’s changed him. Remember the good old days when he slapped you on the back and denounced all women as whores?

Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur continues the ungenerous tradition of presenting Guinevere as a figure of treacherousness, not just discord. On those occasions where she rises from the role of disputed possession, she becomes a manipulative temptress towing men to their deaths. From her first entrance, we hear of her remorselessness, Continue reading

Domain Tunnel

DOMAIN TUNNEL
mrblo

When the Domain Tunnel opened in 2000, the state government set a temporary sixty kilometre an hour speed limit. Their caution seems prudent. Who knows how much the construction firm might’ve abridged basic safety to cut costs. But the explanation they proffered insulted all of us. They explained that Victorian motorists needed time to get used to driving through a tunnel. As if they thought that, finding no sky above our heads, we might flip out and slam on the brakes in traffic.

For weeks, they had run an advertising campaign instructing us just to drive like normal in the tunnel. Don’t get out of your car or try to turn around. Continue reading

Grendel’s Mum

BEOWULFbeo

J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien

Mariner Books, August 2015

 

A thousand years on, the sharpness of Beowulf‘s images still strikes us. Longships cruise amid icy spray. A king stares with fear amid the riches of his hall. Then comes the fiend Grendel stalking across the moors. Tolkien’s translation weds to these visions the rhythm and grandeur of language that rumbles even as it exults, which rolls like the swells of the sea. Continue reading

Hive pieces

HIVEhivelayout

Yianni, John (Gen42 Games, 2001)

This shows a set of pieces with cartoon artwork for the board game Hive. To turn them into a real set, I recommend sticking them to hexagonal bathroom tiles. Each set should contain three ants, three grasshoppers, one queen bee, two beetles and two spiders (making twenty two pieces in total). Continue reading

Upside Down Miss Jane

MR. SQUIGGLE AND FRIENDSsquig

Dir. Virginia Lumsden Perf. Norman Hetherington. Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1959-1999. Television.

Down near the bottom of my resume, it reads:

“November 1979: Contributing television graphic artist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)” Continue reading

The Scandinavian Wit

KILLING HOPEkill

Blum, William (Common Courage Press, updated edition October 2008, ISBN 978-1567512526)

In 2009, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” [1]

Many thought the prize undeserved – on the grounds that Obama appeared too much the enemy of peace. Had he won it, they asked, for prosecuting a war in Afghanistan? Or instead for his proposal to expand the United States military? Or for his plan to send “at least” two additional American combat brigades to Afghanistan? Continue reading

Flat Inspection

CRAFTING WITH CAT HAIR: CUTE HANDICRAFTS TO MAKE WITH YOUR CATcathair

Kaori Tsutaya (Translated by Amy Hirschman, Quirk Books, 2011, ISBN 9781594745256)

Bendy crept upon the moth. He moved his limbs one at a time, between clock ticks, splitting each step into tiny motions. He had to keep calm; if he yielded to the temptation to dash, the bell would jingle on his flea collar and scare the moth away. Three more inches and he could pounce.

“Bzzzzzzzzzzt!” Continue reading

Disquieting either way

DISQUIETING EITHER WAY
mrblo

A man I met, who works as a butcher, told me that he had just had sex in the meat cooler at his work with a woman from the deli. It disquiets the mind either way. Either it proves true or it doesn’t. If it does, then he belongs to a class of men for whom hanging cattle carcasses and mountainous slabs of raw meat do not constitute a sexual turn off. If it doesn’t, then he belongs to a class of men for whom claiming to have had sex in a meat cooler constitutes braggadocio.

Goats

THE BACKYARD GOAT: AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO KEEPING AND ENJOYING PET GOATS, FROM
FEEDING AND HOUSING TO MAKING YOUR OWN CHEESEgoatbook

Weaver, Sue (Storey Publishing, LLC, 2011, ISBN 978-1603427906)

Years ago, in the intolerable heat of late December, I found myself stuck in the checkout queue at Coles. Somebody had told the man in front of me that if he drove in from Rosebud, Coles would sell him a whole goat. The preposterousness of the incident gave the employees some much needed respite from the toil of the Christmas season, so in spite of the rush, four of them ministered to him. It made tough going for the caprinophage. However plausible his accusations, four employees stood on hand to deny them.

“But I confirmed it,” he said. Continue reading

El Shaddai

BOOK OF EXODUSHoly Bible

Chapter 21 (Holy Bible, ISBN for example 9780060649234)

Without any warning, my neighbour put three poodles in his yard. He went from none to three in a single black afternoon. After that he paid them little attention. As far as you could tell, they never left the yard. From morning until night they bombarded the neighbourhood with shrill barrages of barking that tore your concentration in two. They’d cease just long enough to let you collect your thoughts back together before shattering them again with the next barrage.

When home, their owner would bawl at them to shut up from behind his screen door. On other evenings, enraged neighbours assumed the role. It seemed like just a matter of time before some neighbour rationalised euthanizing them with poisoned meatballs. Continue reading

Reply to Johnstone’s “50 Proverbs”

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. You’ll have him out of your hair until he comes by tomorrow for his next fish.

Teaching him to fish will feel like teaching a walrus to roller-skate. As soon as you break out the fishing rod he’ll look at you like you come from the seventeenth century – like you tried to tell him he could knap his own spearheads with a hammerstone and pair of reindeer antlers. He hasn’t got time to screw about with bait and fishing rods and sinkers. He just wants a fish.

Even if you get him to try it, he’ll just pretend to pay attention and spend most of the time fantasising about the woman in apartment twelve.

Give the man a fish.

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      THE STERKARM HANDSHAKE Susan Price (Scholastic, 1998) ISBN: 0590543016 The Sterkarm Handshake is yet another book I read in high school and always intended to buy, but never got around to it until quite recently.  I remembered the novel as unusual and not popular, though at the time it felt … Continue reading