Friday, November 30, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

The last installment of Beard Week - and what a week it has been - brings you bearded scribe Warren Ellis. Although there is better footage of his beard out there than the bellow clip, this is him telling an anecdote about yesterday's subject, Alan Moore, so I thought it worthy of inclusion.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Penultimate beard - for certain values of penultimate, because writer Alan Moore has a beard that defies description. Here it is for a minute-long excerpt of him talking about some of his works.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Here, in the next installment of Beard Week, is Scroobius Pip, with the latest from his collaboration with Dan Le Sac, called The Beat That My Heart Skipped, the bearded romantic...

Chestnuts; Hoary Old

Josh writes:

It seems that so tiresome are accusations of "Political Correctness" these days, that the standard response of "Political Correctness doesn't fucking exist anymore -- as a phrase, it's so overused that it's become meaningless" is becoming equally tiresome. Nevertheless.

Today's Herald contains an article about Stephen Fry's new pantomime, including a digression into how "PC" pantos are becoming (can't find a link to the article -- it's not on the Herald's site, and I'm buggered if I'm going to hunt it down on whatever news agency it originated from). So what counts as "PC" today?

Avoiding Hansel and Gretal, with it's references to child kidnapping -- I suppose you could make a case that this is the sort of prohibitionist, cotton-wool-wrapping that has been a staple of PC claims in the past.

Avoiding Aladdin because of its stereotyped Arabian villain and Snow White because of its comical portrayal of dwarves -- again, pedantic attempts to avoid offense are, I guess, typical of what gets called PC.

The abandonment of the old panto tradition of having the male (child) lead played by a girl, on the grounds that it seems a bit like lesbianism, given his/her relation to the female lead. Hang on. Avoiding spurious racism = political correctness; avoiding spurious height-ism = political correctness; pandering to homophobia = political correctness? And precisely what the common thread between any of this and the Hansel & Gretel thing is is beyond me, too.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe, "political correctness" really is just used as a stand-in for "lefty/liberal/postmodern stuff I don't like"?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Continuing with Beard Week, The Management are proud to present Liam Finn. Sure, he's not to all tastes, and that second single he's released gets pretty boring after you realise it's not going to get any faster, and don't even start me on Betchdupa... However, since going solo, Finn has been rocking a beard you could use to trap a large mammal. So here is his very catchy first single, Second Chance:

Monday, November 26, 2007

This! Is! Sparta!

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab
So, my friends JSR and Annette have started up a podcast, wonderfully called Is It Nap Time. You can listen to it here, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do so…

One thing they mention that is of grave concern to me, and indeed to the world, is that recent research suggests that only seven percent of women find beards attractive. Now, there’s no great secret as to why this is the case; it’s simply that ninety-three percent of women are wrong about what is attractive.

However, just so that there’s no confusion on this serious issue, here begins Brain Stab’s Week Of Beards. What is involved in this is Beards.

Here, to begin, is Burning Beard, by Clutch, where the lead singer, Neil Fallon, possesses a beard you could get lost in, and levitates through the holy power of rock.

Bearded rock.

That’s right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Read A Book

Apathy Jack writes:

It is good that my students show me this:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Constructive Discourse

Josh writes:

OK, look, it's good that you don't like the Electoral Finance Bill. It's good that you want to voice your opinions and protest against it. But please, for the love of God, please, stop using the word "fascist". When I hear people complaining about someone or something being "fascist" outside of the context of WWII Italy, this is all I can think of:


You do yourself no favours.

(Incidentally, it'd be nice if people stopped comparing New Zealand to Zimbabwe or Cuba or whatever, especially while protesting on the streets and conspicously not being sprayed with water cannons, beaten up, locked up, or you know, fucking machine gunned to death.)

UPDATE: One exception: I am fully in favour of the word "fascist" when combined with the word "junta", but that's just because I like the way it sounds.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Seniors have left...


“Remember, in the candle-lighting ceremony, you’re to burn all of your classmates that I don’t like.”
“Right. Should I start headfirst, or at the feet?”
“Hmm, good question. Start with the feet; burning longer is funnier. Of course, there are a lot of them, so if you run out of time, move to the heads.”
“Yes Sir!”

I don’t know these ones as well as I knew my old ones, but it’s nice that I have a few who understand me...


Chatting with a couple of my Year 12s who were back to do some study.

Year 12 “It’s not fair that the corrupt classes got the top three places in English.”
Me “What do you mean? Second and third places went to people in this class.”
Year 12 “Yeah, a corrupt class where the students are feral and don’t do enough work, like the class of the girl who came first. I mean, look at (and here she named Josh’s partner) – she’s like, the hardest working English teacher, and the students in her class always do heaps of work. It should have been someone from her class.”
Me “There’s some merit to that thought. Of course, you lot didn’t need the same approach as hers. You’re all halfway on the road to being geniuses, so you could be afforded some leeway; you didn’t need to have your heads down at every point.”
Year 12 “Hey, we’re halfway to genius!”
Me “That’s no guarantee you’ll get there, of course.”
Year 12 “But if we’ve gotten halfway already, we can get the rest of the way.”
Me “Not necessarily. Have you heard of Xeno’s paradox?”
Year 12 “No.”
Me “Get comfortable...”


It was this same couple of Year 12s who read the (to them) bizarre message in the Christmas card given to me by a departing Year 13, and said it didn’t make sense. I pointed out to them what, the more I think about it, is one of the most important lessons I have found in The Teaching:

“She makes perfect sense. She just doesn’t make the same sort of sense that everyone else makes...”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Student (to her neighbour) "Fuck you Priya!"
Me "Oi! Language!"
Student "Fudge you, Priya, you bitch!"
Me "Better."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Books You Should Be Reading Number 34 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

I was in a coma for ten days. I woke up in a darkened hospital room with a television playing somewhere nearby. Tom Cruise was talking about a priest who’d died giving last rites to a fireman at Ground Zero. Then Mariah Carey started singing that we all have a hero inside us, and I thought maybe I’d died, and this was hell. But the show went on, with more celebrities coming out to sing and tell stories, and there were calls for donations, and eventually I realised I wasn’t in hell, I was just in America.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Books You Should Be Reading Number 33 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Nightingale’s Lament by Simon R Green

“Hold everything,” I said sternly. “A disturbing thought has just occurred to me. Who’s looking after things in my expensive new Nightside office, while you’re out cavorting and carousing in dubious drinking establishments?”
“Ah,” said Cathy, grinning. “I got a really good deal on some computers from the future. They practically run the whole business on their own, these days. They can even answer the phone and talk snotty to our creditors.”
“Just how far up the line did these computers come from?” I said suspiciously. “I mean, are we talking Artificial Intelligence here? Are they going to want paying?”

Friday, November 09, 2007

Just to reiterate

Josh writes:

Why we love Warren Ellis:

Hi. I'm your host, I'm out of my brain with
exhaustion, and I'm going to be seriously
polluting your inbox for the next few days.
Think of this email as a vast ethereal Mind
Penis, spasming like a dying pig and hawking
up great steaming discoloured bucketloads of
Brain Semen into the tender womblike cavity
behind your eyes. And when it gets too much,
it will leak out of your tear ducts, and your friends
will say, how is it that you are crying Warren's
Brain Semen?

And you will just fucking throw up right there.

Apathy Jack writes:

I am become Death, shatterer of worlds.

I am the Lord of Tears; I am the howling of storms and the father of the winds; I am the Great Fear; the upraised thunderbolt whose anger makes even the gods tremble; I am the past, the present and the future; and if I stop paying attention, even for a second, the world will be plunged into darkness.

Happy Diwali, you fucks.

(Oh, and for those of you with broadband – or the patience to wait five minutes to upload a forty-second news clip – your actual Indian goddess-girl.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007


That Morthos Stare writes:

So, I can no longer, in good conscience, vote for the Labour Party. I'm not going to cross over to the Right, so that leaves out National, ACT, the Libz, New Zealand First, United Future, Gordon Copeland's Untitled Party of the Future Christian Heritage of Latter Day Saints and Vicars, Destiny and the others.

I like a lot of the Green MPs but don't like the actual party, and Jimbo is, I think, dead and simply put on display by the current Government (has he done anything recently?). The Maori Party voted against the Civil Union Bill (and as a Civil Union Minister that offends me)...


Who am I going to vote for next year?

Bloody Labour Government abandoning its principles and clinging to power. Believe me, if National get in next election I'm blaming the Labour Party.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Books You Should Be Reading Number 32 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

This Is Not A Drill by Paul Carter

The drive back was incident-free, apart from one road block where we had to stop as some rocks had fallen onto the road from an overhanging cliff. Everyone had their fingers on triggers and shifted nervously in their seats, scanning for a threat. I noticed a giant old billboard by the road. Left over from the Soviet occupation, it depicted two hands, one full of opium, the other full of money, and on the opposite side figures handing over a rocket. It was the international sign for ‘We’ll give you drugs and money for stinger missiles’.


This book is the follow up to the brilliant Don't Tell Mum I Work On The Rigs - She Thinks I'm A Piano Player In A Whorehouse, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hang 'em higher

RSJS writes:

So on this ball of rock with the gooey caramel centre we have a billion-odd (and I do mean odd) strong god-squad of Bible-brainwashed bigots all wearing wee crosses, symbolising that admirably-simple method of torturing people to death, the crucifix. Akin to the fad of baseball caps and badges bearing the slogan "I shot J.R." or those punky wee scamps the Sex Pistols wearing swastikas.

Jokes abound about the son-of-himself dude not returning until everyone packed away their torture devices and laid out oh, I don't know, myrrh and Frankenstein, or milk and bickies perhaps? And after he's killed off again one assumes unless he gets strung up on crossed sticks again (and given the gaping stigmata holes in his appendages he'd probably just slip off the nails this time, it seems highly unlikely) we'll have to replace the symbols with his new murder weapon.

Which is where "bling" comes in.

From my rigorous surveying of comedic Mr T types pulling up their pants on MTV and sporting far too many neck-danglies and grilles and rings and diamante iPods and all that crap, I noted three recurring images hanging where once laid civilised crucifixes and clocks. They are diamond-encrusted guns, spinning tyre rims, and marijuana leaves.

I think it means that Jesus has already returned and was shot in a drive-by by some drug-dealers in some Los Angeles suburb.

The fact that this didn't make the news adds weight to the argument that Jesus was black.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Books You Should Be Reading Number 31 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

The Brief History Of The Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

It was hot in the office, a terrible, parching heat that lifted the smell of ink from the mimeograph machine and filled the air with it. For a long time Luka sat at his desk fanning the fumes away from his face. Then he opened the window and pulled the vines out of the way, waiting for the breeze to come blowing through. The quiet outside was nearly transcendent. There were no cars idling at the stoplight, no children running past with balloons. There was nobody down there at all. The air tasted like granite and river grass. He took a few deep breaths and returned to his stencil.

He was working on the latest edition of the Sims Sheet. The headline read ALONE IN THE CITY, and the subheading, in a slightly smaller type, EDITOR WONDERS, IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? That was as far as he had gotten.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Jack is emo and needs to grow some coping mechanisms. Details follow after cut.


So, having spent more of 2007 at the New School than I did at Hoodrat, I’ve just about managed to get over the crushing sense of loss. It’s helped by things like the texts I received last night: one of mine told me she is writing a book for NaNoWriMo, and another asked permission to name the teacher in a story after me. So yes, now, rather than feeling an unbearable weight of sadness All The Fucking Time, it just hits me – like a god damned wave – now and again.

Like tonight. Watching the Hoodrat performance of On The Razzle. I mean, for starters: On The Razzle. I may not miss the corrupt mismanagement or the lack of resources, but I miss a philosophy (even if it was only shared by some of us) that pushes sixth formers to perform Tom Stoppard – miss it so much it feels like a phantom limb... But specifically: one of the musical interludes inserted by the Drama Teacher, a couple of students dancing. One of them, five-foot-nothing of fluid grace. In Year 10 this one was teaching all the juniors in the dance competitions Hoodrat entered. By Year 11 she was teaching everyone. Watching her perform complex twists and twirls with more ease than I feel walking down the street, and I was overwhelmed by a memory:

Last year’s Stage Challenge rehearsal. I was sent to the Staff Room toilets to check on her. I went into the women’s toilets, for what you may be pleased to know was the first time in my half-decade at the school, to see if she was alright.

She hadn’t had breakfast. She never had breakfast. This wasn’t her choice; it was a symptom of her less-than-stellar home life. At school well after nightfall, having spent hours contorting her body over and over – her system had simply rebelled.

I didn’t want her to be alone, but it wasn’t talking time either, so I sat against a wall in the dark, listening to her dry-retch.

Obviously, this was by no stretch of the imagination a good night. But it was an intense night. A real night. One of many.

I’ve been leaving school at three-thirty a lot in the last few months – and God alone knows I deserve it – but walking out of Hoodrat at half past nine, in the middle of a group of students hollering abuse at each other, mock crump-battling, loudly reminiscing about the faked fight from earlier in the week... Laughing with a pack of people I know well enough, have been through enough with, to really laugh with.

Jesus I miss that.