Orange: the only juice for which manufacturers can claim, “No no, we meant the COLOUR.” Bemused by people who can afford a computer and broadband but email me because they’ve run out of prepay minutes on their phone. If Beck and Palin had announced their 2012 Presidential candidacy on 9/11, then the terrorists would have won. Also, the Mayans. On the cover of Handwriting Analysis for Dummies, the title is set in Comic Sans. What is the author trying to hide? An online review of Decline and Fall describes Evelyn Waugh as “not my favorite post-modern author.” God bless user-created content. Imagined UC Library suggestion box: “Could the ‘Library is being munted by an earthquake’ announcements be in English and Māori, please.” My friend’s new kitchen has so much cupboard space it could inconspicuously house a small nocturnal child. It’s all fun and games until the pale-skinned sunbather realises the swan thinks he is a lady swan. Even if a student has an amusing name, I really shouldn’t make up nursery rhymes about them. Force de frappe. Does anyone have a wussier name for its nuclear arsenal than France? Scary as a wet slap. Why are those folks most clueless about the internet—even self-described technophobes—the ones convinced they can make money off it? Ignorance is seen as a barrier to getting rich from medicine, property investment, or racehorse breeding. But the Web’s fair game, it seems. My mum, looking for an easy-to-remember phone number, was chuffed to find that one ending in “666” was strangely not taken. Now every time I call her I shall think, “Hail Satan, Mum.” @adzebill
Phrase I did not expect to read in a Dashiell Hammett crime story: ‘“I knew a fellow once in Onehunga,” he drawled…’ (Nightmare Town, 1924) Amazingly, nostalgic about paying $14 to see a DVD projected onto a screen the size of a bath towel in a 15-seat cinema. Much like watching at home, except you can’t pause for toilet breaks, and there are three complete strangers on your couch. Great Zoological Discoveries 27: Cows sound just like people saying “moo”. Or, sometimes, trying to muffle screams of agony. Amazing new tool for de-cluttering computer desktop: put everything in a folder called “Desktop [Sort]”, never to be heard from again. I used to be disgusted by people who ate raw cookie dough, but now I find there are folks who eat raw frozen pizza. Thanks, Internet. Why should del.icio.us be the only one having fun with country codes? Quick, nicega.ms is free. Also goldarn.it, gottabe.in, iyamwhati.am, fakesteve.jobs, and (very proud of this) jorgeluisb.org.es Kazakhstan is apparently still hung up on Borat. Just let it go, Kazakhstan. Let it go. Everything made much more sense when I realized Tom Waits is a werewolf. If you see a car with Hawai’i plates in the mainland US and steal it, there’ll be a pot of gold in the trunk and you’ll get a wish. I think we’re all in agreement that the biggest letdown with Inception was the lack of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt dance sequence. Call me stuffy, but I refuse to buy my kazoos from someone who believes in Atlantis. Dear Mr Obama: why not come and be President of New Zealand? I guarantee less than 18% of us think you’re Muslim. Apparently I appeared in a friend’s dream and yelled, “You can’t stomp on Incas: they’re part of history!” I’d heard of Robert Evans’ success, downfall, comeback, book, audiobook, and movie, but a cartoon show too? That, my friends, is a career. The fastest starfish is the Sunflower Star, Pycnopodia helianthoides, which can reach 75 cm/minute, or 0.045 km/hr. Starfish racing would be like greyhound racing, but more restful. And with a terrified fleeing abalone. @adzebill
One simple method for improving the quality of student essays: don’t let them pick their own topic.
The problem with goat cheese is that sometimes it tastes rather like it originated in the nether regions of a goat.
That Kim Cattrall is such a classy dame: I wish she were MY mum.
Olduvai, Amboseli / Turkana, Tsavo, Gombe / Olorgesailie, Tanganyika / Serengeti, Aberdares: the biologist’s African litany.
The Chch Press today twice bylined food writer Paula Wolfer. Next week: guest articles by Jamie Olive and Nigel Slate.
It’s exam time. The university seems as deserted as if there’d been a Zombie Apocalypse. But if the Uni were infested with zombies, how would you tell? Answer: zombies can’t ride skateboards.
‘The command “
UC is sacking librarians, but I pass a full crew of guys with leafblowers every morning. I guess you need nice lawns for the brochures. At Duke, the wanna-be frat boys carried around pledge bats. Here, the corresponding dork object is the skateboard; but what’s the frat? BOI? As late as 1974, a popular history of NZ claimed Māori, like Anglo-Saxons, were descended from Aryan Caucasians. I’m not sure if even Te Rangi Hīroa could have convincingly argued “We’re Aryan Caucasians!” to the Third Reich if WWII had gone badly… The problem with a Facebook page for your newborn baby is they won’t have the tech skills to admin it until they’re about 3 or 4. MORE work… Richard Dawkins’ wife is the great-granddaughter of the world’s first motor-vehicle-accident victim (Lalla and Mary Ward respectively). Reeves, 1898: Average NZer loathes “Mongolians, Negroes, and Aborigines…but he likes the Maori, and is sorry that they are dying out.’ “Clear enough the aunt let a stranger’s praise change her life.” E. Annie Proulx, on the power of teachers. In the Green Room at the Aotea Centre discussing Rousseau with my learnèd panel-mates before we’re miked up. La di dah. Implausible country songs: “I’ve Got Tears in My Ears All From Lyin’ There and Cryin’ ’Cause I’ll Never Have an iPad and I’m Sad (iPad Sad)” and the follow-up hit “If I Could Unskew Your Heart (with a Log Transformation)”. Just bought a used iPod, and found upon connecting to iTunes its name is “Bdawgs ipod” [sic]. Ecch. Cannot wait to wipe it. Pop quiz: Elucidate the five (5) errors perpetrated by the phrase “Bdawgs ipod”. (5 marks, 140 characters). Answers: 1) no apostrophe, 2) l.c. “p” in iPod, 3) redundancy: of course it’s an iPod, 4) dawg, and 5) calling oneself Bdawg. @adzebill
1886, Rotorua: a ‘brief ordinary dance’, or one ‘complete with indecencies, which they said the gentlemen usually preferred, for £3/10’. Forgotten co-discoverer of the structure of DNA? No, not her; kiwi Maurice Wilkins. Shared the Nobel with Watson & Crick, not being dead. “Don’t get arrested!” “No way, bro!” Five minutes later he’s haring drunkenly down Manners St with someone’s purse. (She got it back.) Cock-throwing: tying a rooster atop a post & throwing coksteles (special weighted sticks) at it. Thomas More boasted of his skill at this. Yes, that would be St Thomas More who was expert at knocking chickens off a post. Also torturing heretics. Odd we care more about chickens. Must be careful not to call tearful students “weepers” when they’re within earshot, composing themselves in the LSC toilet. Meander: decorative border, a single line shaped into a repeated motif. Found in Greek art & also on the iconic NY coffee cup, the Anthora. Lectures are a sanity-preserving collective delusion, in which professors can pretend they’re teaching and students that they’re learning. Only had Windows on my Macbook for 20 minutes before it started acting like a dickhead. Windows “scrambled the clock”. Result: Mac password failed at login. Locked out of my computer, helpdesk bemused, frantic hunt for Mac Guy. “Oh, they all do that,” said Mac Guy. “Just unplug the ethernet cable and plug it in again.” Wanted to slap him. Sigur Rós’s Með Suð I Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust is very nice, especially Góðan Daginn. Ooo, lookee me, I’m all Icelandic, call me Björk. @adzebill
Nearly every bus or train company logo has an arrow on it. But in Sydney they kick the arrows up a notch with some sweet motion blur. A long bus trip through central South Island is lovely, except when driver plays ghastly Disney ice hockey movie (Mighty Chiefs 3, ★☆☆☆☆) Oh, curse you, Wikipedia; here I am, at midnight, reading about the feud between Eminem and the Insane Clown Posse. With footnotes. People keep mistaking me for the Grammar Police. At best I’m a washed-up private eye. Usually just a stool pigeon. Favourite words from Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union: tohubohu, shpilkes, patzer, shaydl, freylekh. Bringing a ukulele to a jam session is like bringing a knife to a gunfight where everyone’s firing their guns REAL LOUD WOO HOO YEAH. Misheard “brick-throwing” contest at Stroud Country Show as “pig-throwing”. Like hammer throw? Ridgebacks more aerodynamic? Weight classes? Although I love Björk and Sigur Rós, I don’t think we’ll be naming our band Eyjafjallajökull. Headline: “Teens’ amazing escape from airborne car”. Nope, actually just “briefly-airborne”. A pity—I’d have bought that paper. One happy side effect of not having a TV or radio is that I’ve yet to hear a Kiwi journo trying to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. EY-af-yat-ly-a-kut, or EY-ef-ed-lay-uke, or AYE-ya-fyah-dla-yow-kudl. Depending on which native Icelandic speaker you ask. Eyjafjallajökull is, sort-of: “Eh? a Fiat, la yoghurt”, said reallyreallyfast. There, sorted. Last volcano-pronunciation tweet, promise. Just been served a vile meal at Etrusco, Dunedin. Avoid. They said their bread was fresh from Brumby’s; I wouldn’t feed my dog bread from Brumby’s. Tempted to actually get a dog, just to be able to truthfully make this claim. Karl May’s Wild West stories (enjoyed by Hitler and Einstein) were later filmed in Yugoslavia with German-speaking cowboys & indians. @adzebill
Musil: Our only idée fixe should be the determination to avoid one. Pi Day is March 14th, 3/14, and Super Pi Day will be in five years, 3/14/15. It only works in the USA, because we’d have to say 31/4/15, and there aren’t 31 days in April. So did you miss American Pi Day? It seems wrong that the rest of the world had to wait until July to celebrate lame-o Approximate Pi Day (22/7). IT is a tool, not a subject. I’ll be the IT Guy if my colleagues agree to be Books Man, Biro Lady, and Dr Notepad. To date old NZ cookbooks, look for cakes named after the Governor General. (True!) Today, who could tell you the GG’s name? Race? Sex? Will anyone bake / an Anand Cake? 2/3 of ICT pros at recent uni showcase couldn’t use Powerpoint properly. Ditto most prize-winning educators at a recent teaching workshop. Using Powerpoint “improperly” = silly animation, endless bullet lists, incomprehensible diagrams, pointless clip art… Also: tell not show, slides crammed with text, and even clicking “next” button on the control palette rather than using the keyboard. Guns don’t kill people; bullet points kill people. (Or make them wish they were dead. Same thing.) Proposal: encouraging presenters to sign a PowerPoint Abstinence Pledge, for which they get a Purity Ring (orange, with a bullet). Have started writing a book on how to format one’s dissertation. Hoping it will be picked up by a major Hollywood studio. Why take the ferry to Quail Island? Two words: leper graves. Leper. Graves. Is there anything more likely to inspire a wee lad? Lazy student writing: opening with a dictionary definition. Lazy professor writing: opening with Google search-result numbers. The closest I get to playing sport is zapping flies with an electrified tennis racquet, Most games are 40-15, with a strong fly backhand. The manuka at Wanaka bloom mainly around Hanukkah. On a single stroll down a Paris boulevard in 1840, Liszt ran into Heine, Balzac, Chopin, and Berlioz (from Michael Dirda’s Book by Book). When Koestler stopped believing in Communism, he compensated by believing in everything else. @adzebill
Now know a Ms Coxhead and a Ms Loverich. Feel like I’ve wandered into a Restoration comedy. No powdered bosoms though. Did you remember both eggs and ham being green? It’s true. The protagonist has his epiphany after one egg; I’d be more afraid of green ham. Māori attributed most of Aotearoa’s topography to 1) lust, 2) accident, or 3) vandalism. So basically a landscape created by teenagers. Forget bungee jumping or running with the bulls, thrillseekers; try giving a two-hour practical demonstration of software you’ve never used. Because my office is next to the toilets, I dread one day being able to identify my colleagues by the sound they make when peeing. Wolf Hall really puts the boot into Thomas More, as if Mantel wanted to cancel out A Man for All Seasons. The city I’m currently in is named after one of the plot points of Wolf Hall, set 500 years ago and on the other side of the world. Anne Boleyn > Henry VIII > Wars of the Roses > Parhelion > Green flash > Criticality accident > Edge of Darkness. Thanks, Wikipedia. Camus slept with Koestler’s wife, and in return she bought him a cool trench coat. “OMG, it’s just like Bogart’s!” “You betcha, Al.” Camus slept with Mamaine Koestler, Sartre would’ve but couldn’t / Koestler slept with Simone de Beauvoir, Camus could’ve but wouldn’t. Bright Star surely contained as many frocks as Sex in the City. Should have been called No Sex in the Country. SPOILER: Keats carks it. Overheard: “The MATURE students were asking question after question for the WHOLE of the lecture!” [Shi, how we spose LEARN’ything?] I should probably not mention to people that I import my pencils from America. There’s no positive spin to put on that, is there? Saying homeopathy = 1 drop in the Pacific is true, but you sound like a wacko. People back away. Try “less than 1 drop in a swimming pool.” Jonathan Livingstone Seagull sounds much more butch in Greek (Ho Glaros Ionathan) and Catalan (Joan Salvador Gavina). The Thai version is fairly lame though: Chonathan Lifwingsatan Nangnuan. And now I’m having flashbacks to the dire 1973 Neil Diamond soundtrack album. A fave of my folks at the time. “Teacher, Poet, Activist.” Words that chill the soul. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is a fabulous procrastination-breaker. Just ignore the cruddy H&J, and skim the bits about angels. Our acting boss during the restructuring wasn’t sure what his job title should be. I suggested Plus Ça Change Manager. @adzebill
Wasn’t Trowenna Sea supposed to be recalled? They must have missed Whitcoulls in Westfield. $40.99. Someone tell Witi so he can buy them. Oh, I see: Witi only bought the copies not yet shipped to every bookstore in New Zealand. Penguin’s not recalling them, for some reason. Bookstores can send them back for a refund, but seem to prefer selling them for a hefty profit. So, all parties behaving honourably then. Grandycaps (n): The inadvertent SHOUTING of the well-meaning grandparent new to e-mail. “Chill out, Sis: it’s just grandycaps.” Wikipedia articles in Māori: 6522. Yiddish 7191, Burmese 2944, Tongan 1492, Samoan 397, Klingon 169, Esperanto 124,640. Fijian? Just 58. Curiously, while most of that group are growing fast (30–120% in the last year), Māori has stagnated: it’s up only 2%. Spare me from meetings where people “touch base”, “report back”, and decide not to discuss papers everyone’s been emailed but nobody’s read. “The button on our web page doesn’t work. Why didn’t you just copy and paste it from the Word document I sent you? It works in Word.” LaTeX fanboys claim it’s hot stuff at typesetting. So why do all LaTeX documents look like instruction manuals from 1923? LaTeX looks like: Das Kapital, 1960 Albanian edition · Bilingual guidebook translated from Chinese · A History of Timaru (1936). LaTeX is for people who wish writing were more like programming. And haven’t tried Word since 1997. And type two spaces after full stops. When there’s a mattress lashed to your car roof with clothesline, people stare with an expression I choose to interpret as admiration. 53% of Republicans think Sarah Palin more qualified to be Prez than Obama. 73% would ban gay schoolteachers. 31% would ban contraception. Trying to negotiate a classroom booking with two admins named (and I’m not making this up) Ms Register and Mr Allott. A 1926 edition of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders with a few uncut pages; sitting unread on the UC shelves, waiting for me, for 83 years. Trivia: Roosevelt was good friends with Seth Bullock (cf. Deadwood); Bullock even joined the Rough Riders, but never got to go to Cuba. If academics taught their classes as badly as they deliver conference papers, they’d lose their jobs. No, the problem is they wouldn’t. The second-oldest surviving email I have on my computer is a quadruple-forwarded Dave Barry column about an exploding whale. Ah, 1994. Chocolate features so prominently in It’s Complicated, they should have just come clean and called it Chocolate: It’s Complicated. Although menopause romcoms scarcely need the audience boost a chocified title might supply. Sports movies, on the other hand… Oh my: chocolate turns every movie into a date movie. Just try it. · Chocolate Invictus · Chocolate Saw · Inglourious Choclate Basterds · Hostel du Chocolat · 300 Chocolates · Dark Chocolate City · The Seven Chocolate Samurai @adzebill
Adorno claimed the world is evil, because we could be living in Paradise but instead it’s just California. Out of all the Great Assassinations of Our Time (Time-Life, 1976–78), why is Vol. 5 (Walter Reuther) always the one in used-book stores? Imagine when everyone in the world finally spells résumé with two acutes. Overhead, without any fuss, the stars will be going out. Ulysses S. Grant once rehearsed the part of Desdemona, but luckily an actual woman arrived. What US President today would admit to that? I presume Ulysses (who wrote a very readable presidential autobiography, incidentally, all by himself) had not yet grown a beard. Grant later defeated Johnson, President because Lincoln was shot by the brother of the best friend of that Othello director’s son. Coincidence? Nobody who watches TV every night has permission to say “some people have too much time on their hands.” In UC Library suggestion box: “Could the ‘Library will be closing in 15 minutes’ announcements be in English and Māori, please.” What, if anything, is Paris Hilton? According to the Press, she’s a “celebrity lifestyle identity”. So now you know. Weierstrass’s elliptic function [ ℘ ] is my favourite Unicode. Though the reference mark [ ※ ] is nice. And…a snowman in a fez. ☃ Colleagues found a website mockup JPEG. Nothing happened when they clicked on buttons, so thought computer had frozen. CtrlAltDel. Repeat. When Harold Macmillan visited India in 1958, Nehru asked, “I wonder if the Romans ever went back to visit Britain?” Becoming a Justice of the Peace in NZ is like sitting your driver’s license theory test, but you have to have over 300 Facebook friends. Just took 140 homeopathic anti-insomnia pills for the TV cameras. If I stop tweeting you’ll know why. @adzebill
SO everything on Pandora is hexapod except for humanoids with DNA just like ours. Presumably seeded by ancient astronauts or unsubtle God. THUS Pandora proves God exists, or we’re exhibits in an alien’s zoo, or Neanderthals had spaceships. Why wasn’t THAT the plot? “Unobtanium”? My nephew is 12 weeks old, but his Facebook page says he was born in 1978. Still, it’s better than being used as your mum’s profile photo. The Aughts were a good decade for novelty New Year’s glasses. Though novelty-glasses manufacturers can eke out one more year with balancing punctuation. Happy 2010! Or should that be Happy 2010? I suspect that ABBA never actually used an a·b·b·a rhyme scheme in their songs, but I’m too frightened to find out. Wittgenstein’s brother was a one-armed concert pianist, and his sister helped Freud escape the Nazis. Also, he went to school with Hitler. Yay Rowan Atkinson re: the Danish cartoons: “The right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended.” Horrible French toast at Dixon St Deli, now just a café; “Deli” thus a vestigial organ, like an appendix. Which might be tastier. Now they’re playing the entire “Queen’s Greatest Hits’ CD. Flash! Aaa-aah! Queen: less breakfasty than you would think. The Deli must not like me mooching unsecured wireless (thx, “Studio”) for Twitter kvetching: Ben Harper medley. No, Queen. Rock Me —> out. Helping hold the banner at a Republican protest is an excellent way to get a good view of Prince William. He so dreamy. Also balding. Unfortunately by the time I got my camera out I only managed a photo of the Royal Bald Spot. “What about our leaky homes?” shouts megaphone man. Yes, Prince William. It’s your fault. Royals: fix our leaky homes! What do you call a “fusion of yoga and pilates” anyway? Yolates or piloga? They supply yoga mats. I hope they also supply spray-on deyogarisor. For that piloga odour. Man, I’m on fire today. @adzebill
The platypus lays eggs and produces milk, so is the only animal that can make its own custard. Is the apostrophe in Hallowe’en a wankapostrophe or a jackostrophe? Or a jackasstrophe? A jerkostrophe? Too many choices. Help. Chagrined to realise that Methven bathroom fittings are not, and never have been, made in Methven (pop 1326). No reason to visit now. Practising “The Ballad of Toshihiko Fukui (Former Governor of the Bank of Japan)” on my ukulele, from Haywood’s fab NZ Reserve Bank Annual 2010. Hint: when starting a discussion on “Digital Information: Order or Anarchy?”, using a £44.95 hardcover book is not a good look. “CVs” are archaic. They should be 140 chars: Name, email, website, www-thing-I-did, ditto, ditto. Database that. Why a “peer-reviewed” Wikipedia is doomed: en.citizendium.org/wiki/Bach_flower_therapy in the, ahem, Biology section. Très scholarly. Citizendium has 12,836 articles (a whole 121 of which are “expert approved”). Wikipedia has 3,128,945. So it’s anyone’s game, I guess. Hmm. M2 magazine plugs $15,000 watch. There are cheaper ways to say “I am a douchebag,” but few so portably efficient. Bonus: it tells the time. Highlander canned caramel is “not suitable as a complete milk food for infants.” Laredo, TX (pop. 230,000) will soon be the largest city in the US without a bookstore. Of any kind. Which towns in NZ will lose theirs? Dylan Thomas in a 1950s recording of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” sounds completely un-Welsh; he’s as RP as an RSC Lear. @adzebill