Friday, September 29, 2006

It's not the size of your majority...

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
Many of you may have heard the filthily true and disgustingly verifiable rumours about the twisted night of perverted debauchery involving bloggers Mr Stupid and Hewligan. Some of you may even have heard the slanderously untrue rumours that I myself was in some way involved. This is, of course, a lie: I was only in that fetish club because I took a wrong turn on my way to deliver Bibles to orphans; I was only wearing a rubber gimp suit because I was heading off to a fancy dress party later; and I was only perfoming depraved sexual indignities on Mr Stupid and Hewligan because I had been assured there were no cameras in the room.

There were, though.

Now, the very misleading photographs, which could give people entirely the wrong idea about who I am and exactly where I like putting celery, have fallen into the hands of a particularly unscrupulous bastard by the name of Johnny the Red.

So it is with a mixture of fear, horror and shame that I announce my new position as one of three campaign managers for Mr The Red's Presidential candidacy in the 2008 American elections.

And remember our slogan "A vote for Johnny is a vote for Jack's grandmother not seeing pictures of him wearing a ball gag and being whipped by Hewligan"

Monday, September 25, 2006


Josh writes:

Ah, Monday -- time to read Heather Havrilesky's always amusing "I Like to Watch" column at She doesn't get to use the word "cocksucker" so much, now that Deadwood's almost over, but her column is a great way to keep up with what's new and what's good on TV in the US, with a pleasing amount of wry commentary. What's she got for us today?

Self-importance may be the defining characteristic of the American professional -- which explains why so many American professionals are so deeply, abidingly irritating. Don't play dumb, you know just who I'm talking about: those arrogant people who talk about their jobs in tones that suggest they're curing cancer.

Now, if they were actually curing cancer, that would be one thing. In fact, doctors, high-ranking political figures, community leaders, teachers, cops and pretty much anyone who is, at least in theory, aiming to help the populace and serve the common good gets a free pass to employ as much of a self-important tone as needed in order to pound home their point. Also, most firemen, by dint of being enormous, fit human beings with square jaws and booming voices who rush into burning buildings to save feeble weaklings like myself (at least in my dreams) also have a free pass, as do Bill Clinton, Spike Lee and Bono.

But most people are not curing cancer or rushing into burning buildings and pulling people out with their enormous hands. Most people are doing jobs that don't matter at all, or creating stuff that no one reads or watches or buys, or even if people do read or watch or buy it, they don't enjoy it that much, it doesn't inform them or make them laugh, or they shouldn't have wasted their money. The stuff most people are writing or making or selling should be much, much better than it is.

I need a hug.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

Long term. Pleased it's over. There's some insufferably long seige metapor that I can't be bothered developing which would sum up the last several months, but I've already broken my self-imposed for-god's-sake-at-least-try-to-make-it-interesting rule enough times this year.

Long, long term.

Back in 2002 - a couple of blogs ago - I wrote something about children. I can't do a direct link, so I'll just copy it down here:


Never wanted kids.

Actually, that’s not strictly true; When I was one myself, I always just assumed I would have some, because, hell, that’s what grown-ups did. However, after I started to give some thought to it, it started looking like a pretty poor option almost immediately.

A few of the reasons, in no particular order:

The time commitment is horrifying. I mean, we’re talking at least 18 years. And that’s if they’re in a mood to fuck off after high school. My parents didn’t get rid of me until just shy of my twenty-second birthday, and they had to sell the house and move to Australia to make it happen. And hell, just because your kids aren’t in the next room, they’re still your problem. I’m twenty five years old, I’m a teacher, I am one of the most grown up people I know. But if I run out of money these holidays, guess where I’m running to… Which brings me to;

Good lord have you seen how much money dependants hoover up? I mean, fuck, I can just about afford rent, food and the odd cd. I can’t afford summer clothes for myself. The idea of having to support another human being who needed food, clothes and cigarettes... It’s the difference between being able to afford what you want, or what your kids want. For someone quite as selfish as me(mememe) that’s not the hardest choice in the world.

When kids are little, they just kind of crap all over the show and make noise. Then they turn into teenagers. Now, speaking as an industry insider, teenagers are surly little bastards who spend waaay to much of their free time drinking and having dangerous sex just to piss off the people who spend all of their time and money supporting them. If I wanted a prick with an attitude problem to spend my money, use my things, take up my time, and then give me strife about it, I’d still be living with my first flatmate. The fact that I’m not should be taken as a signpost.

I am basically a good person – my parents did a decent job on me and my brother. But you know, I really can’t remember how. I don’t have the confidence that I could raise any child of mine to be a good person. How could I guarantee that my child wouldn’t become part of the problem? Short answer; I couldn’t. What if my kid became a surly bullying fuckup because I dropped the ball somewhere along the way. And that’s only their personality – What if they were born with messed up wiring, or they got sick, or even died? How would I cope? (Fairly badly, is the answer that anyone who knows me well would come up with I think.)

Every time I have thought about having children, I have come up with more and more reasons to not have any. The idea that anyone might actually want these little parasites actually became quite confusing to me.

Anyhoo, we had a school outing to the water park today. I planted myself on a chair with a book, and growled at any students who asked me why I wasn’t swimming.

As I was reading, I heard a series of short, high-pitched shrieks. They echoed in quick succession from one of the hydro slide tubes.

Well before the source came flying out, I knew who it was; One of my Year 9s. I recently wrote on her report that she is infectiously enthusiastic. She follows me around the classroom getting me to help her with the work. She is in running competition to clean my whiteboard. She constantly sings top twenty songs during class. Drives her classmates nuts, but I find it so endearing that I don’t stop her, even when I’m yelling at the rest of the class to quieten down. Even the bad songs are cute.

Looking up, and seeing this girl coming off the slide, with such a look of happiness on her face, laughing and smiling, I just wanted to adopt her. Really, that was the first thought in my head.

Then, for the first time in my life, I realised what parents feel. I realised that all of the effort, the trials, the pain, they are voided by the happiness in the eyes of your child. Everything I’ve ranted on about above, it’s all valid. But seeing the happiness on your child’s face makes it all worthwhile. All of it.

Maybe I want kids one day.


The kid from the water slide is in Year 13 now - only a couple of months away from leaving school. She's never stopped being special. At the beginning of this year when we weren't sure if she was coming back from the Islands, we kept a couple of prestigious student leadership positions open - turning away others who applied - on the off chance of her return. When she arrived a few weeks into term one, she walked into places she had earned.

I taught her again in Year 10, the year after I wrote the above piece, but lost her the next. I kept an eye - family issues and numerous related trips out of the country meant that she fell behind and had to repeat a year of English. In a department with a staff turnover quite so cartoonishly high as mine, I simply checked in from time to time to make sure that she was still going well, that the many relievers and incompetent cases standing at the front of the class weren't having too adverse an effect on her education.

A few days back, she auditioned for the most prestigious drama school in the country. The drama teacher told me that I had to ask her about the audition - there was something I should probably hear, but the kid herself should tell me. I tracked her down, and asked, hoping for news that the panel had said something encouraging. She told me what had happened: During a scene where she had to act betrayed, the panel told her to picture her favorite teacher - someone she could never imagine working against her, and try to twist the image to see what it would feel like if he or she betrayed her.

Apparently it was almost impossible to imagine me betraying her, but it made the scene very emotional.

Long term. But I think that one will get me through for a while...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

one life, all I need...

Apathy Jack writes:

Me "Alright, how are you going? How's English? How's everything?"
Student 1 "Everything's going great."
Student 2 "She's smoking too much P."
Student 1 "I didn't!"
Me "See, sometimes I wish I wasn't an English teacher."
Student 1 "Why?"
Me "Because then I might not have noticed that when she said you'd been smoking P, you didn't say 'I don't', you said 'I didn't', which firmly implies that the opportunity has arisen recently."
Student 1 "Shit."
Me "And there's a fair chance the 'I didn't' was a lie, right?"
Student 1 "Shit."
Student 2 "Ha ha. Busted."
Student 1 "Yeah, by you! Thanks a lot."
Student 2 "It's not my fault Mister's smart enough to tell when I'm not joking."
Student 1 "Anyway, seriously Mister, I don't smoke P. Y'know, a lot."
Me "That's alright, so long as you don't do it a lot. Of course, you are going to need to sit through my amphetamine psychosis lecture, but we'll do that later..."

Unexpected Papal Bull

That Morthos Stare writes:

It's no secret that you're incompetent at your job. We all are. It doesn't matter how 'competence' is defined; you, like everyone else, are, have and always be, incompetent in what you do.

That is the little secret that keeps society afloat.

I'm not going to float any ideas of relative competence; everyone at some stage is more competent than someone else at a particular task. Relative competence is just an excuse for your lack of competence. So, at some stage you did better than someone else. Big hooey. What exactly does that mean? Are you always better? No. Have you been 'better on average?' I wouldn't say 'Yes' unless you have some quasi-magical survey to prove it. The answer, therefore, is 'No.' Let's not even broach the idea that you might be, in the future, better. An incompetent like you... No chance.

Worry not, though. I'm incompetent. Highly paid, well-esteemed and very powerful. And incompetent. There's not a moment that passes that I don't think 'I could be doing this better, faster, harder and with more verve.' Admittedly my ratio of mistakes-to-moments-of-genius is ridiculously weighted towards the genius side. When they come to write my history you can be sure that all the adjectives will be friendly, glowing and fabulous.

But I'm still incompetent. I shudder to say it, but I'm not perfect, and imperfection entails incompetence. I make mistakes. I wore a green tie with a teal suit once and, as an undergrad, admittedly, I wore those Swedish boating shoes that will never be fashionable.

Which is why I really do regret that we have to let you all go. As one incompetent to another I sympathise. As your pontifical overlord, however, I have a responsibility to the committee.

By which I mean to myself, since the committee has no sway over me, seeing that they, like you, are incompetent bastardos.

Be Seeing You.

Know what isn't fun?

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

This, this isn't fun

What also is not fun is having being a lab technician, at least sometimes...



Faeces for culture of enteric pathogens: 2
Faeces Ova/cysts Parasites: 2

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's half biology and half corrective surgery gone wrong...

Apathy Jack writes:

I've been in a bit of a funk recently. Work isn't great. The reasons for this are many and varied - and uniformly uninteresting to the casual reader, so nothing is to be gained by blathering on about specifics. The result, though, is that my optimism has taken a beating. And teaching at Hoodrat, optimism is the only really effective weapon. A near-mindless assumption that everything will probably turn out for the best has seen me through thefts, fights, fires, corrupt students, even more corrupt colleagues, and the fact that I am, at best, an only semi-competant English teacher.

But it's getting harder.

So one of my little Lost Ones comes to visit me today. A precocious kid, she came into our special needs unit because she had missed most of intermediate. She was intelligent, quick-witted and funny, which I see a lot, but she could translate it onto paper. That doesn't happen enough in my classes. I'm sure that a lot of English teachers have the mandate to inspire their students with a love of literature and/or expose them to the great works. My job most of the time, sadly, is to bootstrap an unwilling pack of near-illiterates into having a reading age roughly commensurate with their chronological age.

So, as these things go, she left. Her family moved, and decided (not unreasonably) that my school didn't justify an hour's commute in the morning.

She came back this morning. She hasn't been home since friday, and hasn't been to her new school in even longer. Always a smart kid, she knows exactly how many days she has to miss before Ministry regulations dictate she is taken off the roll.

She came to me for English work.

She's planning on wagging from her new school until she is removed from it; she still hasn't called her family to let them know she's okay, but she doesn't want to fall behind in English. When she left, I made an offhand comment that if her new English teacher was crap, she should come back and see me, and I'd sort her out. So she did.

I put some fifth form work in front of her - two years ahead of her age group, and three or four years ahead of where her education effectively halted in the face of her family problems. She flies through it no problem.

I give her some more, and she spends the next couple of hours sitting in front of my desk with a look of concentration on her face, working through it.

My optimism comes from strange, stunted places these days, but I take it where I can find it, and certain things still amaze me...


Josh writes:

Oh, and:


Pedantry Update

Josh writes:

OK, for everyone who's currently overusing the phrase "methinks she doth protest too much" in relation to Helen Clark at the moment:

The quote is "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." (Hamlet, Act III, scene 2 or thereabouts)

And in the context of Hamlet, it doesn't really mean what people use it to mean these days anyway.

On a related subject, is there anyone in Parliament who doesn't look like a prick at the moment? It's only a matter of days before the backbenchers actually start flinging faeces at each other across the debating chamber, I don't doubt.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Up To Me Then Is It?

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Guess what I got over the weekend. That's right, one of these

He looks like this...

...and this...

...end this...

...and even this!...

He's called "Louie", he's very friendly, playful, and noisy when no-one's paying him any attention in the morning while they get ready for work.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the dreadful morning of September 12th (or September 11th as it was then in New York), I think this is still the best thing that sticks the middle finger up at the terrists is this or for a shorter version with cool speedometer graphic there's this one

Let's face it, when it's bad or just inept, which is unortunately pretty much everything the current administration has done, it is pretty bad. But when it gets it's act together even with thirty year old technology like the shuttle it's fucking brilliant.

Now with Links!

Josh writes:

How remiss of me -- posting a string of barely coherent non-sequiturs without slapping a bunch of random links on the end. We'll fix that:

Let's start with David Wong's piece on why 9/11 conspiracy theorists are liars or retarded or both. Morthos could probably provide sage comment; all I'll say is: "both".

As a companion piece to that, if anyone asks you why there wasn't more wreckage of the hijacked planes found, maybe you could direct them to this frankly mind-blowing slow motion video, in which a jet plane is flown into a reinforced concrete wall and literally turns to dust on impact.

On a different note entirely, this site would be a lot easier to view if you didn't just know that geeks were masturbating to it at that very moment.


Josh writes:

Tears of Joy

I'll just get right to the point: DOA is the best movie ever made in the history of movies. Hell, DOA is the best movie ever made in the history of time. Scantily-clad women, cool fight scenes, scantily-clad women in cool fight scenes -- what more is there in life? At no point does this film offer any pretence of subtlety, sophistication or depth; the plot serving as no more than an excuse for the women to become scantily clad and make with the punching and high kicking (those kicks... so high...)

It's a film that is what it is and it's proud, damn it. Go and see it -- it'll make you glad to be alive and a man. You're not a man? Then why the fuck did you read past the first paragraph? Back to our copy of Pride and Prejudice on DVD. I mean your -- your copy.

Ah... Mr. Darcy...

Tears of a Clown

Evangelists want fossil exhibits kept out of sight

'It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith,' said Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is leading the hide-the-bones campaign. 'When children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes.'

The obvious rebuttal being that, if all it takes is the mere existence of thse fossils to "kill your faith", there can't be much to to kill, can there? In a follow up story, Bishop Adoyo campaigns against the museum's display of the Solar System, on the grounds that it could lead Christians to believe that the Earth orbits the Sun...

Tears of Meat

I recently ate one of the new Cheddar Bacon Melt burgers from Wendy's, an experience that could be likened to lying under a car with your mouth open during an oil change, on the set of a bad porn film. I have never before in my life eaten a hamburger and wished it contained more salad.

The comparison with porn is especially apt -- what we have is an experience that would normally be pleasurable, being twisted into a cartoonishly exaggerated and stylized parody of the real thing, to the extent that any real possibility of satisfaction has been drained from it. Don't. Just don't.

Tears of Darcy

Ah... Mr. Darcy...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Morthos! Morthos!

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

I just heard a clip on the BBC about conspiracy theories that might interest you, it was just a quick ten minute or so clip about 9/11 theories, that can be listened to here. According to their schedule it doesn't look like it'll be payed again today so the interweb is your only hope. It's the second story in, after one on Israel.


Vince Geddes

Friday, September 08, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

Normally when I come across an intelligent student who I feel like breaking, I just lend them Cruddy. Not with the new one though. With her I skipped over the beginner course in mental-scarification and went straight to The Corrections.

I figured I'd follow it up with the Manhatten Project of literary pretension: House of Leaves. Realising that I don't actually own it, I spent a few weekends scouring every bookshop I could think of, to no avail.

Acting on a tip from my friend Lily Petals, I tried the Hard To Find Bookshop, where I was disdainfully informed that they didn't have a copy - what they had was a long waiting list, because every hipster wanted one. They recommended I order through Borders.

Going to Borders, the helpful bookdrone looked on their system, and discovered that no country in their network has any available to import. She recommended I try the Hard To Find Bookshop.

On the one hand, I'm appalled at how hard it is to be a pretentious bibliowanker these days, but on the other hand, I think I'd be faintly disappointed if a book as harrowing as this one just presented itself to me on the first look - going through hell to track it down is kind of a good House of Leaves meta-experience...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

Finally, the ridiculously talented Fern Petrie has had her web presence launched.

Go here and bask in the art, you unworthy heathen bastards.

(I've been swearing more lately. I'm sure that's a sign of something. Probably you all being bastards or something...)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

That Morthos Stare writes: