Thursday, 31 March 2005


My work-in-progress (and I use the latter two words with a license that goes far beyond poetic) paper is a steaming morass of excrement, a vapid vapour of boiled bile, a foul, festering, phantom of fetor, a tepid, shadowy imitation of a poor attempt.*

Suffice to say, it's not going as swimmingly as I'd like, and what I have actually done fills me with neither satisfaction nor confidence, either for its acceptance or for the progress of my studies.

* Earlier drafts included "redolent mess" and "debaucherous disgrace". I needed a thesaurus for fetor (fecundity, for all its alliterative appeal, rightly rang falsely). By way of reparation, I'll try to use it tomorrow to confuse a frenchman.

six feet way, way above

It freaks me out just how good Six Feet Under is. I've watched 6 episodes now from season 3, I think all of which I had seen before, and every one of them has left me impressed. Watching them back to back like this is so much better, too, because you can really see the analogies being drawn between the stories, and the character arcs are so much clearer. Reminds me of the Sopranos discs that I should never have sold. Oh, and I said it over and over again years ago, but I so love the fade to white.

footy, and vagrant teeth

One more thing on the Lions-Saints game. Aaron Hamill and Chris Scott, probably two of the hardest 10 players in the comp, were belting each other all night long, both during and between play. It was a great contest, much more significant than their combined 18 touches, but one or other or both were going to be at the tribunal on Monday, it was sure. Turns out it was Hamill, who did, after all, knock out a couple of Scott's teeth. Oh, wait, no. Apparently they fell out all on their own. My eyes, how green.

(Also from the match, Charman got 2 weeks for a late challenge on Riewoldt, which is a fair cop)

Wednesday, 30 March 2005


For my long weekend, I mostly watched football. Specifically, I bought a season pass from Telstra for access to game replays for matches from this season, the last two seasons, and a bunch of games back to 1995. For $60, that's a lotta games.

Anyway, I wound up watching the first 5 games of the round. Brisbane vs St Kilda was the pick of them, although the coverage was the worst. I've defended Eddie McGuire in the past, but his commentary was shocking. Overtly biased against Brisbane, obviously pimping Channel 9 for the upcoming TV deal bid war, the worst of all was his ridiculous claim that Chris Scott injured shoulder, based on some implication from their "expert" doctor, but in the face of pretty bloody clear evidence that it was either the Charman bump or, more likely, the attempted diving mark, that had done it. This is big news this week and, though I'm certainly biased being a Brisbane supporter, my view is that it might not be sportsmanlike, but there's no basis for the outbreak of outrage. Riewoldt took the decision to rejoin play (yes, going back and standing your mark is rejoining play), and the bumping was by no means beyond what would be expected for the side's best player in a close and important match.

As for the game itself, it's still impressive to see how Brisbane continually finds these nobodies, in this case the Selwood, Corrie, Joel McDonald and Adcock types, that run, deliver well by hand, and are constantly hard at the footy. Starting with 21 AFL games between them, they were good for 45 possessions, 9 marks and 15 tackles against St Kilda, without doubt one of the top 3 sides in the competition. Selwood's tap-on to Pike before being smashed was the sort of thing you expect from a veteran, not a first-gamer. The depth of hard, creative running players is just obscene with Voss, Lappin, and Power through the middle, Johnson from the back, Akermanis and McGrath up front, and then others like the young kids and the Scotts where needed. And that's after losing Hart and McRae, and with Black and Hadley out. Just obscene.

Of the other matches, Freo vs Port was good, Carlton vs Roos and Dees vs Dons were OK, and Swans vs Hawthorn was bloody awful. Hawthorn stood out like a sore thumb in terms of quality amongst the 10 teams I saw. No hand skills, poor disposal, no real targets up forward or answers down back. Maybe I've still gotta check out Adelaide, Richmond and other pretenders, but I'd happily back the Hawks for the spoon on their Sunday showing.

Friday, 18 March 2005


I ordered my PC last Saturday night, as I mentioned. Anyway, they shipped it separately, one package of bits with Chronopost and the box with La Poste. The latter came past my place on Wednesday, and I stayed home to collect it, but the former arrived Tuesday, when I was at work, so I couldn't go get it. As such, I had to head over to their pickup office to get it.

Now, their web site showed an address and a map for this office, out at St Jacques de la Lande, so I hiked out there Wednesday arvo. This is black stump territory, really sparse, really depressing, really not where i wanted to go or be. This was exaggerated by the fact that a half hour of wandering confirmed that their office was categorically not where they had drawn it on the map. A quick check of the map that night and a subsequent trip back Thursday morning confirmed that neither was it at the address they had given, a kilometre or two away. Thursday evening Franck drove me out, and we eventually tracked down both the building and, eventually, a way to get to it. But they forgotta the package. Couldn't find it. Anyway, a fourth trip soon sorted that out, this morning, all very quick and painless. As far as fourth attempts go.

Anyway, I have all the bits of a machine now except a QWERTY keyboard. Every shop selling keyboards in Rennes is lined with boxes emblazoned with pictures of QWERTY keyboards, but in a strange, false advertising type twist, they all contain AZERTY keyboards, a bizarrely irrational french design in which you have to hold down shift to get the numbers, and even hold down alt for other characters like "@". Anyway, no keyboard yet.

Monday, 14 March 2005

Saturday afternoon purchases

Behold the image of my purchasing power from Saturday afternoon! Wine, cheese, butter, bread and the duck's guts!


I was asking for it, I really was.

I heard from all sorts of people last year that Joss Whedon's series Firefly was really cool, and the fact that it got cut was a real mystery to anyone who had seen it. I'm a sucker for good series television (see Sopranos, The), so I grabbed a copy. Sure enough, its really good, with the analogies and the moral ambiguity and with developed characters and good and more importantly appropriate (yes, Farscape, I'm talking to you) SFX, and with the western influences, and... I digress. Its good, one might say shiny even, and the grassf*&kers cut it. What is it about science fiction series on televion? This thing gets cut without even finishing its first season, but Nobody Loves Raymond goes 10.

I already knew, before I even watched it. I just needed to vent. Thank you for your patience. Normal operations will resume shortly. Just after I get back to episode 10.

Sunday, 13 March 2005


Did I mention that my ADSL got hooked up? No, perhaps I didn't. I might have been distracted. Anyway, it started working just before the Murten trip, and I've been pounding it ever since. Skype from here to Australia works well, although I had a bad line this morning trying to call Lee. Surprisingly, my laptop has been struggling to keep up with me. I guess I'm pretty demanding.

salon gastronomique

Franck and I headed out to Les Tablées du Rheu yesterday. We went last year with Clementine and Marc, and it was pretty awesome, lots and lots of wines to try, as well as cheese, bread, seafood, butter, conserves, etc etc etc. At least two of the stalls last year prompted me to add things to my meal rotation, most notably good butter, which remains my favourite thing about french food, I think.

I went with 60 euros, and managed to spend it all. I bought two bordeaux (a "real" bordeau and a lalande de pomerol, also from bordeau), a nice riesling from alsace (i tried an obscenely fruity one, but settled on the medaille d'or instead), a sav blanc from bergerac, a block of artisanal butter from st malo, a monster loaf of bread (dense, incredible crust, lasts a week!), a really nice strong camembert from the cheese guy who sold me on livarot last year, and 3 different tins of ducks' guts (paté, rillettes, and terrine).

In the evening, drunk on consumerism (and probably, for that matter, on wine - those little tastings add up), I ordered a computer from an online place in Lyon. I'd been umming and aahing and configuring it since perhaps Tuesday, and finally got around to convincing myself to buy it. It's interesting. My normal strategy for shops is to talk to the salesman until I can convince myself, discussing its technical points. This doesn't work for online stores, obviously, but I did manage the surrogate, of reading hardware reviews and comparisons on the web for a long time. Having done that, I probably would have gone for a Trigem Kloss box, but they're impossible to find, so I "settled" for a Shuttle box instead.

Friday, 11 March 2005

fastnachts mulligan

Since my last post, I have made little or no progress on my paper for later this month. Its been a great week or so.

I pushed off to Switzerland on Friday morning for another fastnachts weekend. On Friday evening Chris and I went around to Fanny's flat for dinner with a couple of her friends, one Swiss-French and the other German, and her flatmate. It went off like a can of whipped cream, due largely to the going off of a can of whipped cream.

On Saturday evening we caught a train over to Murten, accompanied by Stefan and a trainload of crazy Swiss youth with smoke bombs. The fastnachts was smaller than Bern, but seemed to me more youth-oriented. We drank a lot, mainly beer but also absinthe, which was very good, and talked to a number of women, firstly some Swisslies from down near Italy, and later the Scott girls, whom I recognised much to Chris' surprise. There was a big tent full of school-age types drinking furiously in close quarters, but it wasn't overly pleasant, although we did chat to a German girl outside who believed I was French but didn't believe Chris was German. Very amusing. We wound things up in a bar overlooking the lake, where we ran into Nora's cousin again, before taking the 6:17am train home. I only got a couple of hours sleep before catching a 10:30am train to Basel for my trek home, so was a bit run-down by the time I arrived.

Just thinking about it now, the number of things in common with the last trip is scary. A meal with Fanny and her friends, almost identical conversations with the Scott girls, Nora's cousin and her boy, and finishing up in a bar in the early morning. Inside the bar was different, though. Last time I seem to remember being more or less occupied in conversation, but this time I went into fairly long spells of looking out through the snow over the lake and wondering exactly how I had come to be in a Swiss bar at 4am, and how far away it was, by so many metrics, from home.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Well, gee, Chucks

Of all the people to help the republic's resurfacing as a political issue, who would have thought it would be this guy?

pretty good weekend

Jacques and Sophie invited me out for dinner/movie Friday night, as is the habit. We went to an Italian place they had tried before. There was veal on the menu, and visions of veal parmigiana at the Underground Restaurant in Innisfail blinded me to the inevitable arrival of a piece of meat reminiscent of a foetal bovine than an infant. A similar blindness occluded my vision with regards choice of film, and as such I quickly found myself watching "Meet The Fockers", dubbed in French. To be honest, it didn't lose much in translation; the rat-dog is still blue. A couple of hours of my life that I won't get back, but it could have been worse. I giggled occasionally.

On Saturday, I finally got back to the library. James has been tormenting me too long now, and I felt the need for a quick diagnosis as to whether I had lost my reading form, or whether Ulysses was just dragging me down. It turned out to be quite definitely the latter. I grabbed "Catcher in the Rye" (I'd been looking for ages, but hadn't found it until Liz tipped me off that it was hiding in a black cover entirely devoid of indication as to title, author or subject), and finished on Sunday, despite a conscious effort to pace myself. Cryptonomicon, a tome of somewhat more significant girth, is taunting me from my bookshelf, but I'm trying to hold off for my train trip to Switzerland this Friday. I instead tapped the Salinger-instilled momentum to knock off another 40 pages or so of Ulysses.

On Saturday night I was met with the very unusual conundrum of two possibilities for social outlet. Benoit was playing free jazz at the FAI, a concert I have been waiting a long time to hear, and there was a match of basketball on, not unlike the one I'd watched the week before, nor the one I will watch in another fortnight. Naturally, I chose the latter, and wasn't disappointed. Although it dragged through the middle under the weight of travelling violations and innumerable free throws, by the end it heated up. Despite some dubious substitutions by Rennes' coach (I suspect motivated by fear over the future loss of a star centre), Rennes almost snatched it on the back of 2 enormous 3s and a tough putback by said star centre late in the final stanza, before the other mob forced overtime with a basket to their Russian import. Rennes crushed them in overtime, to the joy of what had bothered to make up just under half of the less-than-capacity crowd. Chatted afterwards.

Sunday, forecast for rain, was a blue-skied picture of a winter day, so I stayed inside just about as long as I could, feigning sleep then feigning intellectualism by reading my Salinger in my yuppy turtleneck jumper and drinking espresso coffee and listening to some rubbish jazz-type music. Finally, I broke back through to my geek underpinnings and went and watched a manga film, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (there's a mouthful), in the afternoon. On the way there, it was bitterly cold, so it was almost required that I stopped along the way to get a gallette saucisse from the guy who stands on the corner just over the bridge, hereandafter to be known as "Gallette-Saucisse guy". Tasty. The film, too.

Brevity is for the weak. Editing is for nancy-boy journalists.