VISIBLE DETAILS OF THE SCENE
When I reached the supermarket, an electrical pole stood burning near the parking lot. Firemen shot water at it while one of them gabbed with a policeman. I asked a security guard, whom I found watching, what had happened and he just reported the visible details of the scene.
“That electrical pole has caught fire,” he said, “Firemen have started spraying water on to it. A policeman stands next to them.” Continue reading
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
Crescendo to an error
A certain private parking area near my brother‘s apartment includes fold-up pedestals that the spaces’ owners can upraise to defend them from other motorists. Each pedestal folds up into the middle of its parking space, where you lock it into place with a key. The distance between pedestals in adjacent spaces then becomes just one pedestal diameter less than the width of the space. Now instead of just blocking your space, the interloping vehicle blocks two spaces.
CASK WINE UNDER FIRE AS GOVERNMENT PONDERS TAX HIKE
Hawthorne, Mike (The Sydney Morning Herald, April 2015)
I swing into the bottle shop with just enough fuel left to reach the petrol station on the corner. They’ve invited me to dinner twenty kilometres away in Southbank. By emptying my change jar, I’ve collected together seven dollars and fifty cents to divide between petrol and the bottle of wine I’ve said I’ll bring. Every cent I save on the wine improves the car‘s odds of getting there.
I locate a five-dollar bottle of rosé and then start foraging for something even cheaper to undercut it. Continue reading
NEW CYCLIST HANDBOOK
Hewitt, Ben (editor; Rodale Books, November 2005, ISBN 9781594863004)
Winter found me cycling down a service road on the Princes Highway, in the calm of the middle of the night, when two men leapt out of their car and chased after me on foot.
“Oi!” yelled one, “Oi! Stop you bastard!” Continue reading
THE SONG OF ROLAND
Sayers, Dorothy L. (translator; Penguin, reprint December 1957, ISBN 978014044075)
On the phone, she‘d told me that she’d driven the car on to a raised section of the concrete, where she’d had to leave it. It took the security guard and me half an hour to find it. I’d enlisted his help at the parking garage near the haematology building. I thought of him as the squire. Without his help, I’d never have found it.
“Cooey!” he yelled out. Continue reading
White, Peter R. (Routledge, October 2008, ISBN 9780415445306)
When I started secondary school in the eighties Victorian schoolboys and schoolgirls could apply for a concession card that let them buy cheaper tickets on buses, trams and trains. To apply, you filled out a form with your details and glued a photograph of yourself over a rectangle they provided on the form. The railway clerk separated the section with your photograph along an official perforated line, stamped it, laminated it and gave it back to you as your concession card.
When I applied for mine, I glued the photograph on sideways (leaving a lot of space on either side of my head so it filled the rectangle). The railway clerk would have to decide if he faced a smart aleck schoolboy on a lark or an earnest imbecile who’d glued his picture on sideways through mental incapacity. Continue reading
A SCANNER DARKLY
Dick, Philip K. (Doubleday, 1977, ISBN 0385016131)
My grandfather bought the Volkswagen in 1968. He imported it direct from Germany and shifted the steering column over to the right-hand side.
A year later man set foot on the moon. Continue reading
POLICING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: AN ENVIRONMENTAL AND PROCEDURAL EVALUATION OF BUS STOPS
Kooi, Brandon R. (LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2007, series: “Criminal Justice: Recent Scholarship”, ISBN 9781593321468)
One day, some transport minister may decide to give up his car for a year so he can experience the reality of relying on public transport. Unless he and all his mistresses live on a train line, he will sit in a lot of bus stops. Some of these, like the ones in Clayton, will follow the old-fashioned, comfortable design of an ass-width plank with either a straight backrest or one arched to match the human spine. Some others, like the unenclosed seats in Mt. Waverley, leave out the backrest, which does no harm. But if the minister rides out to Oakleigh, his backside will discover special pain benches that replace the backrest with a thick horizontal pole at scapula height.
The benches themselves arch downwards to stop you from trying to perch at the front edge away from the pole. They measure twenty-eight centimetres deep, but the pole overhangs them by twelve centimetres. Continue reading
THE HIGH COST OF FREE PARKING
Shoup, Donald (APA Planners Press; Updated edition, June 21, 2011, ISBN 9781932364965)
When I pulled up outside Avi’s, a man ran out of his apartment to watch me park. He wore a singlet tucked into a pair of yellow slacks. He had his hands up. While I reversed in, he hurled anxious glances back and forth between the front and back of my car.
This makes it harder to park. Continue reading
CRAFTING WITH CAT HAIR: CUTE HANDICRAFTS TO MAKE WITH YOUR CAT
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
(MPAA, 4 May 2006)
I have it on good authority that the MPAA intend this commercial to discourage movie piracy, rather than, as it appears, to encourage car theft.
One marvels that such advertisements make it past their first test screening, let alone into the forefront of a multimillion-dollar crusade against copyright infringement. The average viewer must jump ship at the first premise: Continue reading