Archive | Musings

Bufo Marinus and the Craft Savvy Seamstress: Episode One

The box, and a costume fitting for Alexander Pearce.


One hot summer’s afternoon, I opened the door to find a box. I knew it was coming. Several weeks earlier, I had ordered 30 stuffed cane toads from a taxidermist in Queensland. Now here they were. I took the box into the back garden and sliced open the top. With all the excitement and apprehension with which one would approach a mysterious trap door, I flung open the flaps… and there it was; A mass of brown leather limbs. Bloated Bellies. Dark warty spots and countless beady eyes.

I was afraid to touch them – just the site of them was enough to make me recoil, repulsed and afraid. They were hideous. I closed the flaps again.

I carried the box to my room and lay it next to the bevy of pest biology and history reference books I had borrowed from the library. I lifted the corner of the box flap and tentatively plucked out a toad, very gently flinging him to a safe distance with all the concern and apprehension that you would have handling a burning hot osteoporotic, haemophiliac, leper kitten. I put him to my periphery and got to work sewing an outfit for him. He was to be Alexander Pearce, the cannibal convict who ate eight of his fellow escapees, one by one, as they roamed the Tasmanian bush. For his jacket, I ripped shreds off some pants I had worn as I traversed several thousand kilometres of European “wilderness” on foot. I didn’t eat anyone on that journey, but it was one hell of an adventure, so it seemed like a fitting second life for these sentimental rags. When I had finished sewing his jacket, I moulded an axe head and a collection of bones out of plasticine. These would be his weapon and his victims’ remains. After they had dried in the oven I began painting them.

After several hours of sewing rags and sculpting bones, something strange happened. I realised I had lost sight of the toad, and now I needed him to do a costume fitting. Until now, my concerns had been purely practical (will the jacket fit, etc). Now, I was worried for the actual toad. There was panic in my eyes as I scanned the room, my hurried hands patting and grasping in the hope of finding what my eyes were failing to see. Despite there being another 29 in the box, the idea of losing this one toad scared me.  Somewhere between laughing at myself for losing the toad, being upset that the hideous thing had disappeared and feeling spooked that it might have come to life, I grabbed at a pile of fabric lying on the floor and felt a wriggly wad inside. I peeled off the surrounding fabric and found him in one piece. I was overcome with relief, and feelings that can only be described as “maternal”. While I had panicked, he was unfazed; patiently waiting where I’d left him, despite the sea of fabric that had threatened to swallow him for good. This made him all the more endearing.

I was now blind to his warts, his curly toes and his beady eyes. And I wasn’t bothered by the fact that he was an escaped convict and a shameless cannibal. In fact, one could say that after I had so carefully moulded an axe head for him, I was an accomplice. “Awww. Alexander Pearce… there you are”, I said as I took him into my hands. Later that night my house mate and I watched back to back episodes of Dexter, and I contemplated all the ways I could craft the perfect handle for Alexander Pearce’s little axe.

Posted in Musings

A stitch in time…

A collage of memories, relived as I sat on my bedroom floor cutting and glueing posters from bygone gigs. Last summer has been cross stitched into my mind, and if you look closely between the stitches in the guns and the lettering, you might catch a glimpse of a Gracetown sunset, or the rickety roller coaster at Luna Park. In the dressing table mirror below,  you will find the winter preceding. Pedalling through dew and drizzle to the school on the hill, the vaguely audible sound of the Galaga tune and spaceship fire over the din of hibernating souls in cosy pubs, and the night we danced by the dressing table in the tiny bar and cinema and saw the song come to life. Beneath it all, fading to grey and discernible only in occasional pockets, lies the winter before. The first winter in a new city, and the first gig, in a living room bar on Hoddle street. Cut and pasted with all that is unspoken, and tied with a red bow, which in itself holds a compendium of memories, including the time it was knitted in the hands of a criminal and waved off the back of a fire truck.

Posted in Musings

How are giraffes not dead yet?

They are beautiful creatures, and I do not wish them dead, but how is it that they have awkwardly, endearingly, and not so discreetly stumbled their way through natural selection?

I know they have a good vantage point for eating the leaves that the other animals can’t reach, and they can kick things, and “neck” things, and butt them with their little horns, but the African Savannah is no playpen.

Surely they are too distracted up there, chewing on leaves with their heads in the clouds, to notice (before it’s too late) the pride of lions feasting on their ankles? And wouldn’t such big hearts be a hindrance? Ten kilograms of blessing, manifesting in burden… running from your troubles with such a heavy heart is no easy feat.

They are like that sweet, goofy, gangly kid at school, who somehow awkwardly, endearingly and not so discreetly manages to stumble their way through to the last round of that “Chinese Wall” tag game without even cheating. The other kids are left dumbfounded, baffled as to how those bumbling limbs could have passed them by, untagged.

Perhaps a big heart, gangly limbs and a kind disposition is not a death sentence after all… I can’t explain, and I won’t complain. Go forth in peace, gangly kids and giraffes…

Posted in Musings

We Heart Melbourne Bike Share

We love Melbourne Bike Share. Our once cumbersome headgear has gone from burden to blessing. Foot loose and fancy free, we jump on bikes anytime, anywhere. We fear not other vehicles, or police. We are living the dream, Australia.

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CBD Wars Episode VI: Return of the Bicycle

“As a pedestrian, I am merely a Cyborg. Thanks to MBS, I am a Bicyborg. People say that nothing beats parenthood, well I’m sorry Luke, but this is bloody awesome” (Darth Vader)

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“Can we fix it? Ummm, not sure, but can I dig it? YES I CAN! Moving to Australia with the whole gang was good. The financial crisis made it even better. And now, thanks to MBS, I can ride around Melbourne and keep up with Scoop and Dizzy. It is fun AND convenient, working together to get the job done”

Bob (the Builder)
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“Multitasking has always been my thing. Now I can do all the things I usually do, AND ride a bicycle, should the urge strike after a casual afternoon Sangria in Melbourne. The hands free mic that is built into my helmet allows me to serenade the public en route, while yelling at trucks between verses when they forget to indicate” (Bob Log III)


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“As you are probably aware, I am an avid cyclist. I love MBS, it is so convenient. Whether it is just a trip to the corner store for some milk, or a dramatic escape after finding myself in a spot of bother with the possums in Carlton Gardens, MBS is there for me. People used to call me ‘angry helmet cat’…  now they just call me ‘helmet cat'” (Helmet Cat)

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“I haven’t been this happy since before all my limbs were hacked off.  The spontaneity of being able to just jump on a bike when all the trams are full makes me feel alive. I love the sound of the wind whistling through my hollows as I fly down Little Collins street. If I only had a heart, it would give a little flutter”

(Tin Man)

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“When I heard about MBS I thought, ‘Isn’t that lovely?, I do so enjoy the lack of rational planning required for spontaneous human powered transport throughout Melbourne’…so where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom! This makes me very angry, very angry indeed.” (Marvin the Martian)


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28/07/2010

Posted in Musings

Getting deadly on your treadly…

First Graze

Getting deadly on your treadly…

Have you and your humble treadly found any good locations where one can flirt with death or near fatal injury? A steep hill, frequented by trucks, above a rocky escarpment? A blind corner, leading the wrong way down a one way street? Don’t hog all the excitement, share the thrill by putting your destination on the map (just don’t die in the process).

*** To update the map: click on the link, press “edit”, click on blue balloon icon, mark destination, and leave a description

(You can also email your photos and/or deadly treadly addresses here)

View Larger Map

1) Corner of Little Collins and Swanston (Melbourne)
Little Collins = skinny and steep. Very fun. If you don’t get hit by a cab on your way down, you can always come close to hitting a tram or a horse and cart on Swanston.

2) Intersection of Punt rd and Swan st (Melbourne)
Not for the faint hearted. This one isn’t any fun, but crossing it on your treadly offers all the promise of death or near fatal injury.

3) Pedestrian Bridge (Melbourne Cricket Ground)
You have to pedal hard on your way up the bridge. If you lose momentum, you might find yourself at a standstill and losing balance despite pedaling with all your might. It is worth it on the way down, you can build up some serious speed. On days when there are games, you might hit pedestrians. When the MCG is empty, you can just enjoy the feeling of screaming down the bridge and past the stadium at speeds faster than you can safely manage and pretend like you are winning a major sporting event.

4) Hill coming down High st, Northcote (Melbourne)
If you don’t put on the breaks it is terrifying and stunningly beautiful (especially at night – city lights). A worthy backdrop for a near death encounter.

5) Devil’s Elbow (Claremont, Perth)
It is called that for a reason. The views however, are to die for.

6) Outside the MCG (from Juliet, Melbourne)
Be wary ye of minority race/creed/sexuality.
Week 1 upon arriving to Melbourne, cycling past here just in time for a footy match to be let out and was pedestrian-hooned by a middle-age, tracksuit-wearing hooligans shouting “Chiney on a bike!” (i’m asian) which made me nearly crash into parked car from was laughing so hard.

7) Best BMX pit ever (Kalgoorlie)
If you can get past security, you’ve literally struck gold with this BMX superpit. There is the added risk of being hit by trucks the size of houses, but they don’t move very fast.

Posted in Musings

Mug Shots

If all goes to plan:
A transcript…

Andrew: Hey Claire, I’ve got some time this afternoon if you want me to take some craft-savvy-criminal inspired photos for the new album?
Claire: Sounds great
Andrew: Do you have anything in mind?
Claire: I could get my hands on some knitting gear, and we could head down to the the little Police station, tucked in behind the old town hall…
Andrew: I could get some photos of you crouched down, knitting behind some shrubs, peering suspiciously at a parked police car. You could come to the frustrating realisation that you have forgotten how to knit. It has, after all, been nearly 20 years since you half knitted a scarf with your grandma.
Claire: Then a vagabond could walk past. He could confess to being a convicted criminal, who still remembers how to knit after being taught by his “dear mother” decades ago. He could put down his beer bottle, take the knitting sticks from my hands, and repeatedly stab us with them begin to knit a scarf.
Andrew: As he knits, he could reminisce about the 25 years he spent behind bars.
Claire: We could also discuss his prison tattoos; their artistic credibility (or lack thereof), and their social significance in relation to their context.
Andrew: He could postulate that one ultimately regrets not the tattoos born from fear, stupidity, or aggressive desire, but the ones born from love. A grim reaper consuming a limb is bearable. Tiny etchings of the names of loved ones on the underside of the arm, well… every glance is torture.
Claire: As the afternoon light fades, we could bid farewell to our craft savvy criminal friend
Andrew: He could give a menacing look, warn us against using his photograph in public (with the added threat to “sue us for every f&*king penny we have”), and then thank us for what was otherwise a lovely afternoon.
Claire: Then we could thank our lucky stars that both of us are broke, and quietly hope that he doesn’t have the internet.
Andrew: We could wander up the hill, considering our next move. We would still need photos that we could use without the fear of inciting death threats.
Claire: Then we could smell smoke
Andrew: As we wander towards the source, we could be over taken by 5 fire trucks and seven police cars, sirens screaming and brakes screeching.
Claire: They could rope off the streets, and tend to the fire (a restaurant kitchen), which of course would cause no injuries or sentimental damage.
Andrew: They could leave the emergency vehicles unaccompanied, lights flashing the whole time.
Claire: As night falls, we could take brazenly opportunistic photographs, hanging off fire-trucks and knitting on the bonnets of cop cars. When the novelty wears off, we could call it a night, and go and drink cider with friends.

Of course you could never plan something like that…

13/05/2010

Posted in Musings