5017

Picture this: It’s the year 5017. Your coffin is dug up from the mausoleum you built specifically for the purpose of sheltering your earthly remains.
Museum of Old and New Art, HobartIt’s carted to another planet and put on display in a post-modern museum/aquarium where octopus perform tricks with hula hoops, not because they’re forced to, but because they’re really into it – by that time I imagine whatever the dominant species is, they’ve figured out how to communicate with octopi – the point is, how would you feel about your coffin with your remains being on display?

I think it’d be pretty awesome as long as the octopus tricks were tasteful and not, you know, lewd.

 

Do not tell people about your Prize Award

We are pleased to inform you of the release of the
SPANISH SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION PROGRAM
Your email address drew the lucky numbers 01-5-11-12-21-34
that consequently won the lottery in the 3rd category.

The business I am introducing you to is palpably based on sheer trust
and with a sense of purpose for all modalities
has been mapped out because it falls within my area of Jurisdiction
and it is 100% Hitch free.

I HAVE A LEGAL AND CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL FOR YOU.
I am willing to send you a free rug simulation.
I know this may sound so strange for you and also extremely risky for me
to offer such proposal to a total stranger via email

but unfortunately this happens to be my last resort to get it done.
Right now I am the most happiest woman on earth.
Every camper should have this laser strong enough to light a fire.
It’s a UltraBeam Tactical Laser..!

-All the words on this page are an ad-
I will be waiting to read from you.
Thank You and Be Blessed.
To your success!

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Janet Hessian, Network Online Coordinator.

Spoons

The problem with spoon theory
is that I never know how many spoons I’ll have

any given day.

If I knew I had ten spoons,
I could use them accordingly.
But today I might have seven spoons

and tomorrow only three, with no idea why.
As though someone sneaks into my cutlery drawer
at night to steal my spoons,

but then other times replaces some
just to fuck with me.
Let’s be honest –

there was never enough spoons,
even before I had to think of my energy
as a finite supply of kitchen utensils.

My opinions on dog names will eventually result in divorce

Unless they’re the children of celebrities, human babies are generally stuck with boring people names. But dogs can be called any sort of amazing name at all. It’s insultingly uncreative to give a dog a human name. Like a french bulldog I met, who was named, of all things, Gerald. Gerald could have been named Clams or Seven or Sir Snotsalot or anything other than Gerald.

My husband disagrees. I told him my dream was to have a sausage dog named Saucy. ‘It works on so many levels!’

‘What levels?’ he said.

What levels? Obviously the sauce/sausage connection. Also the fact that saucy sounds like ‘saussie’, an Australianised shortening of sausage. And then imagine if the dog had a saucy attitude. Just imagine.

 

How to be Australian according to your passport

Your passport contains the distilled essence of Australia. Study its images carefully during the interminable minutes in line at Immigration. Each image is a puzzle piece. Fit them together, and you will know what it is to be Australian.

Australian passport
Australian passport images, in order of appearance

  • Parliament, featuring the largest free-standing stainless steel structure in the southern hemisphere
  • A kookaburra who really wants you to know about travel insurance
  • A Tasmanian devil suffering lockjaw
  • Surf lifesaving chicks about to launch floaty things into the water
  • A camel caravan
  • A thorny devil
  • A depressed wombat
  • A water tank, windmill-thing and what might be a station house
  • People sitting on car bonnets observing a horserace
  • An even more depressed platypus
  • A man being cruel to a herd of cattle
  • An open-mouthed saltie
  • Cricket
  • A smarmy koala
  • A noble dingo who definitely hasn’t eaten any babies this week
  • Two scuba divers checking out coral
  • Beachgoers
  • A page translated into French, Australia’s unofficial second language
  • A pointy-nosed chipmunk?
  • A highway leading to distant hills, with trees
  • A love-struck emu
  • An RV hitched to a ute, maybe Uluru in the background?
  • A bearded dragon who’s ready to party
  • A kangaroo whose grandfather was a horse
  • Two ladies in togs holding a rope in knee-deep water staring down a big wave
  • A lone surfer
  • A patriotic eagle, the eternal symbol of Australian freedom
  • Just a regular echidna
  • A rural town hotel that definitely has a pub
  • A semi-truck (the designers must have been getting desperate at this point)
  • A sulphur-crested cockatoo who just came out of the dryer
  • Maybe a bilby?
  • Girls playing rugby in skirts because females play sport too
  • Another lizard-type thing – wait, is that a goanna?
  • Sailboats on a harbour
  • A man in an overcoat and fedora staring off towards some power lines or possibly a fence with a definite serial killer vibe
  • Also a lot of plants. Give me a break, I’m not a botanist.

 

A poetry review poem

Review poem of Billy Collins Aimless Love

I’ll confess I don’t read much poetry.
I’m far more likely to recommend Australian non-fiction
or the latest John Sandford thriller, like Buried Prey.

But then I saw Billy Collins on a talk show,
reading from Aimless Love,
and fell for his great playfulness and depth.

Still, it took me two years to buy the book—
so much lost time! What a waste.

Collins reflects the world I know back to me,
its solemnity and humour, the inescapable crush of history,
framing it with remarkable precision:

‘But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.’

I can’t help taking the book to bed,
to sleep with under my pillow
or snuggled against my chest, like a stuffed bear.

And now I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life
asking strangers, ‘But have you read Billy Collins?’
and stuffing handwritten copies of his poems in their pockets.

 

First published by NSW Writers’ Centre

A tranquilizer dart salesman solves the gun crisis

Let’s not kid ourselves. People love guns, they love ’em. They’re not going to give up their guns for anything. They’d rather shoot you.

The real problem isn’t guns — it’s bullets. Guns don’t kill people. Bullets kill people. If we want to really address the gun crisis, the solution is simple. We ban bullets.

Now you might be saying, ‘Gus, if we ban bullets, people won’t have anything to shoot’. Well, that’s the kind of limited thinking that led to our current bullet-centric society. Guns could shoot all kinds of things, but in my experience there’s nothing finer to screw into the barrel than a high quality tranquilizer dart filled with a mild sedative.

That’s right, tranquilizer darts! Can’t you just picture it? It’s late, and you’re alone in a dark alley because it is your God-given right to take a shortcut home. Suddenly a criminal leaps from the shadows. He’s brandishing a gun – but so are you! You fire simultaneously, each getting struck by a Tranq Em Good™ tranquilizer dart. Within seconds, smooth relaxing sedative is flooding through your bloodstream. You and your would-be mugger both collapse in the alley. Several hours later, you wake up feeling refreshed. You have a laugh, compliment each other on your fine choice of darts, then realise someone has made off with both your wallets while you lay unconscious.

That’s the kind of society I want to live in, and I bet you do too.

Will tranquilizer darts solve all our problems? No. You take a tranq dart to the eye, that eyeball won’t grow back. And depending on how many darts a person is hit with and what the average dilution of sedative is in each — you get the picture. But there will be far fewer gun-related deaths and a lot more naps.

You’re thinking, ‘Won’t the low-risks stakes of tranquilizer darts encourage people to shoot each other more, not less? Won’t we have teachers shooting school kids just to get some peace and quiet, and moms shooting children, also to get some peace and quiet, and employees shooting their bosses on a daily basis?’ Probably, yes. What’s your point?

A side benefit is that tranquilizer dart sales are set to go through the roof – and not just darts and sedative! It will be difficult to retrofit most of today’s guns to shoot tranq darts, so we expect to sell dart guns by the crateful. The time to invest is now. And in contrast to bland old metal bullets, darts offer huge potential for personalization. If you wake up on your lawn to find a dart with a neon pink tail feather covered in glitter sticking out of your thigh, you’ll know your six-year-old neighbour Gloria has really improved her aim.

As part owner of Tranq Em Good™, I personally stand to gain huge financial benefits in the post-bullet world. But I’m not only doing this to become wildly rich. I’m doing this because I believe that in this great nation, we can have our guns and shoot them too.

Blind dating with books: the game

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I recently hosted Blind Dating with Books as part of Noted Festival’s LitHop, where a Lonely Reader from the audience played to find the book of his or her dreams.

Some of the books the Lonely Reader met included the fine, well-known titles listed here. Can you guess the identity of these books? They may be fiction or non-fiction, for adults or kids. Answers below. No cheating!

Book 1
Setting: New Zealand
Themes: good vs evil, heroism, climbing volcanoes, love of jewellery, friendship, long journeys, getting out of your comfort zone, The Great Outdoors
Plot notes: Supernatural big brother, communing with trees, etc

Book 2
Setting
: The Middle East, or a vaguely desert-like place
Themes: Salvation, good vs. evil, begetting, killing your child, the patriarchy
Plot notes: Probably the most famous beginning, major flooding, getting swallowed by a whale, giant vs. slingshot, murder via DIY woodworking

Book 3
Setting
: modern Europe
Themes: ancient conspiracies, bad grammar, murder, “symbology”
Plot notes: murder in a museum, cryptic clues, famous artworks, historical and scientific inaccuracies

Book 4
Setting
: Nazi Germany
Themes: Survival, friendship, how great books are, hatred/racism, death
Plot notes: hiding from Nazis, book burnings, orphanhood, getting whipped (but not in a sexy way)

Book 5
Setting: A fruit bowl?
Themes: counting, transformation
Plot notes: chocolate cake, ice-cream cone, pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake, a lot of various fruits

Book 6
Setting
: Old timey England
Themes: love, romance, marriage, social inequality
Plot notes: boarding school, secret spouse, dead parents, typhus and other old-timey diseases, horse-riding accidents, a proposal from your cousin, arson

Book 7
Setting
: Northern Europe, present day
Themes: murder, justice, challenging stereotypes
Plot notes: computer hacking, open marriage, lucrative ghost-writing, Nazi relatives, amateur tattoo artistry, patricide

Book 8
Setting
: A private island
Themes: murder, mystery, survival, justice
Plot notes: cyanide poisoning, message in a bottle, confession, life imitates poetry, a marble clock shaped like a bear

Book 9
Setting
: Old timey England
Themes: love, romance, marriage, family
Plot notes: snobbery, balls, fever, never-ending marriage proposals, horse riding, the worst brother-in-law

Book 10
Setting
: Melbourne
Themes: love, romance, acceptance, reducing inefficiency
Plot notes: very specific menus, ‘affirmative’, cocktails, trip to New York, project work, bicycles, science!

Book 11
Setting
: small-town America
Themes: childhood trauma and its echoes in adulthood, ugliness lurking behind small-town quaintness, overcoming evil
Plot notes: stuttering, oversized spiders, Dracula, Hansel & Gretel, a werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster, blood oath, a random turtle

Book 12
Setting
: Modern day US
Themes: power/control, life choices
Plot notes: “I don’t do the girlfriend thing”, drunk calls, private helicopter, “written consent”/nondisclosure agreement, “hard limits”, a lot of crying

Book 13
Setting
: The universe
Themes: Science! Learning! Amusing anecdotes! Terror!
Plot notes: How did the universe start? What are supernovae? Big Bang Theory, the size, shape, weight and orbit of the Earth, theory of relativity and quantum physics, the fabric of spacetime, potential deadly meteor strike, Yellowstone supervolcano, global warming; possibly recurring ice ages

Book 14
Setting
: London
Themes: love and romance, self-improvement (?), weight loss
Plot notes: Having a crush on your boss, how confusing men are, a time-share scam, awkward dates, culinary disasters

Answers
1. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
2. The Bible – God et al.
3. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
4. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
6. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsen
8. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
10. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
11. It – Stephen King
12. 50 Shades of Grey – EL James
13. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
14. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding