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197 responses to “Saturday Salon (Halloween edition)”

  1. Tosca

    I’ll be frist today just because no one else has taken up the opportunity and dawn is not too far away now. Also, my days as a night owl are numbered and so I will have fewer opportunities in the future. My doctor is trying to train me up to re-align my sleep pattern with the other denizens of NSW, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. I have been on London times for years and years despite never having lived there and while I like being a night owl it is impracticable when the vast majority of people and services are active while I sleep.

    I’ve always thought that the nice morning sunshine is wasted on the early hours but I’ll have to change my perspective on that.

    It’s 3.44am so Good night!

  2. j_p_z

    BOOOOO!!, Kim!!

    and BOOOOO!!! as well to all youse solid, upright cultural nationalists …but who can still dig a bit of Celtic Yankee fun on the Eve of the Feast of All Hallows?!

    Once in high school I went to a Halloween party dressed as Dr. Strangelove — with a wheelchair and the whole nine yards (itself a yank expression I guess.)
    Probably the peak of my commitment, though a few others were funny.

    Enjoy, all those who can bring themselves to stoop to the merriment!

    BOOOOO!!

  3. Casey

    “Lazarus Rising”. Oh FFS, he sounds like a zombie who went on to lead the zombie nation. Come to think of it….Anyway Lazarus needed some help rising didn’t he? , Lazarus would have stayed well and truly dead had not Peacock removed his pompadourish perfumed self (ref. PJK) from the chamber when he did.

    I have heard that Howard was months away from resigning himself when Peacock left? I wonder if that be true and if so, what an alternate australia led by the Peacock may have turned out like?

  4. Katz

    From Wiki:

    The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street “guising”

    So trick or treating is a Yankee homage to Canadian popular culture?

    That’s scary.

  5. tigtog

    @Casey, perhaps not a zombie.

    I was listening to Richard Glover last night he had Jonathon Green on, and Greeny had discovered an amusing coinkydink – that there is an existing SF novel which has the same title as Howard’s autobiography. Here is the wikipedia plot summary of Lazarus Rising (StarFist Saga #9), by David Sherman & Dan Cragg (Del Rey, 2003):

    This novel continues the situation on the planet Kingdom from the previous novel, Kingdom’s Fury. Dominic DeTomas, formerly head of the secret police of Kingdom, is now dictator and has put together a new fascist government that strongly resembles that of Nazi Germany. DeTomas’s policies engendered resentment among certain parts of the populace, and this festers into an uprising. While the mild-mannered inhabitants of Kingdom might not expect to succeed against an implacably violent police state, the uprising is advised and led by an amnesiac Confederation Marine who had been captured by the alien Skinks and later released when the Skinks were driven off Kingdom.

    Hm.

  6. joe2

    Mark Scott’s ABC reign to continue for another five years.
    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/scotts-abc-reign-to-continue-20101029-176ih.html

    That should sink the ship unless Conroy has the gutse to sack him.

  7. joe2

    Here’s a turn up! Apparently Howard lied to parliament about his part in the waterfront dispute.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/howard-hid-first-waterfront-meeting-20101029-177ip.html

    Actually, when you come to think about it, did he ever tell the truth?

  8. rumrebellious

    I might have knocked Annabel’s writing before, but right now I’m feeling inspired.

  9. Ken Lovell

    I know a lot of Australians feel a weird urge to ape the yanks in all sorts of pop culture things but the efforts to import Halloween have always struck me as especially artificial. This year the local Woolies is even selling giant pumpkins FFS. I can remember a time when the day would have gone by completely unremarked by anyone.

    I know Americans who are genuinely puzzled that other countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving … maybe we can import that too. Another Christmas in November, what’s for retailers not to like?

  10. dylan agh

    best thing about Thanksgiving Ken, is that it keeps Xmas stuff out of the shops. Seeing Xmas stuff and Giant Pumpkins in the shops together is a bit of a head twister. that said we bought one of the pumpkins and the Hbomb and i will carve it tonight. Sweet Juniper has put a lot of trouble into costumes.

  11. Paul Burns

    Can you buy already carved pumpkins? (Though I suppose if I put one on top of my front fence with a candle in it, the kids down the road would knock it off,)Several years ago, at my former address I had kids trurn up for trick or treat, first time it had ever happened to me. (before that I’d only read about it in Donald Duck comics.) So, just before the next Jallowe’en, I bought some lollies to give to any kids who turned up that night. None did. So after that year, I didn’t bother.
    Bought a DVD of Brotherhood of the Wolf to watch tomorrow night,(I think its about werewolves.) Also bought Jaws. But since I’m in the middle of watching the BBC series of Poldark I probably won’t get around watching either tomorrow. Or I could try watching The Night of the Hunter again. It scared me so much I couldn’t finish watching it last time I tried.. The only other two movies that have had that effect on me are Poltergeist and Cujo. Though I did eventually get round to watching Cujo through to the end, when it was broken up by commercials on TV. (Sometimes I have an over-active imagination.
    And has anybody ever wondered why such an overtly pagan celebration is so enthusiastically celebrated in such a purportedly Christian country like USA?

  12. J

    Why’d you call it “Halloween edition”? I don’t know any Australians who celebrate that American tradition.

  13. tssk

    PLenty of scares at the end of the week.

    First up, Abbott is talking about introducing a flat tax.

    And then the great pumpkin himself Sir Murdoch is coming to Oz to talk to the newest underling Gillard.

    Happy Halloween!

  14. Salient Green

    If this stupid imported tradition is going to continue and at $21 each in our local Woolworths, then some enterprising Australian farmer could make a motza out of these pumpkins.

    They ought to grow well somewhere in northern Australia in time for Halloween. Gaad! what a dumb idea transporting food half way around the world to be carved up for a lantern. Even a Chinese made plastic one would be more sustainable. At least it could be used again and again.

  15. Fran Barlow

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to make “pumpkins” out of recycled paper or agricultural residue? Why waste food?

  16. Salient Green

    That’s a bloody good idea Fran! A nice little cottage industry for someone making sustainable Jack-o-lanterns. When they start to look a bit tattered just put them on the garden for mulch.

  17. Ken Lovell

    I just smiled to myself imagining the xenophobe heads exploding if retailers made a big deal out of Ramadan instead of Halloween … it would be ZOMG TEH SHARIA IT’S EVERYWHERE THEY ARE STEALING OUR CULTURE … when in fact there are a lot more people in Australia to whom it would be a meaningful celebration than there are people for whom Halloween is a tradition.

  18. paul walter

    Tomorrow, some of us from Adelaide’s western suburbs will celebrate Halloween with a “Druids March” from the new tram terminus opposite the Governor Hindmarsh hotel at Bowden, about 1130 am, to parliament house to protest the St Clair Parks project; a shonky effort if ever there was one.
    Apparently others, from places like Mt Barker and Norwood, who have their own problems with Rann Labor’s neutering of local council oversight, in favor of developer interests will also feed in from these various other parts of town.
    Like us, they are fed up with misappropriations of commons under the *Haruspices* of this state neoliberal government, with commercial in confidence and all the rest of the paraphenalia of theft andother funny business that goes with modern state politics.
    We understand some folk who might actually be druids, are coming. But there is plenty of room for all comers sceptical of the eroding of democracy and community in Adelaide to join with fellow concerned thinking people in opposing the trashing of our amenities and heritage by Philistines and crooks.

  19. Katz

    Why aren’t burqas sold as scare costumes?

    Too scary?

  20. mediatracker

    @5 tigtog
    @18 Paul Walter

    An example of cause and effect?

  21. joe2

    Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” is getting very close.

    http://www.loops.net/go/news/12488520/rally_to_restore_sanity_and_or_fear_app_now_available/

  22. Peter Kemp

    Why aren’t burqas sold as scare costumes?

    Because Blackwater contractors would run out of ammo in 2 minutes.

    Next question. 🙂

  23. Mercurius

    Yesterday was World Teachers’ Day!

    Oops, missed it…too busy dealing with the kid who’d been belted in town by a random baseball-bat-wielding nutter, and the other kid who broke down because he misses his dad one year on from the DOCS removal, and the other one whose dad dropped dead of a heart attack, and the one who we found out was getting fed at home every other day, and the one who was drinking beer on their verandah 15 minutes after the school bell went, and the six external interruptions to my lesson in the first 15 minutes…

    …so, anyway, that was Friday…

    …please excuse me if your calls for “performance pay” are met with a bucket of baked beans being poured over your head.

  24. sg

    It’s big news here in Japan, because a) it’s an excuse for a party and b) it’s cute. Also they sometimes refer to their own week-long festival of the dead as a kind of halloween and they like importing festivals. We have chains of sparkly ghosts hanging from our window, and a witch’s cat hanging from the door handle where once Totoro reigned. You can buy a wide range of very cute pumpkin-related merchandise, and tonight I’m going as Alastair Crowley to a halloween party in nearby Oita. All my students went off to a party yesterday.

    Halloween is fun. Get over it, ya bunch of curmudgeons.

  25. Patrickb

    I see reports that the tsunami warning system isn’t working properly and apparently some of the damage is due to vandalism. I blame bogans.

  26. Katz

    How about Blackwater Hitmen costumes, then?

  27. tigtog

    Halloween is fun. Get over it, ya bunch of curmudgeons.

    Yep. People like to party, so they’ll grasp any opportunity. I like the fact that people still concentrate on the spooky and macabre costumes here – going by what I see on US blogs it’s actually quite rare for folks to dress up that way any more over there – kids tend to go for superheroes/toy characters, while grownups go for goofy celebrity or politically satirical costumes or for women anything that’s “sexy” or “cute”.

    Were I to be invited to a Halloween party, I would probably go as Nanny Ogg, about whom there is nothing cute (I do, indeed, have a pair of suitably serviceable boots). And yes, of course I would sing the Wizard’s Staff song.

  28. Peter Kemp

    How about Blackwater Hitmen costumes, then?

    Only slightly more scary: Talibs/Al Q also run out of ammo in 2 minutes but do their version of Tchaikowski’s 1812 Overture with IEDs.

    Much more scary- Talib acronym: tool for the propagation of the little f***ers: IUED

  29. dylan agh

    “I would probably go as Nanny Ogg, about whom there is nothing cute (I do, indeed, have a pair of suitably serviceable boots). And yes, of course I would sing the Wizard’s Staff song.”
    Oooohhh a wizards staff has a . . . . . 🙂
    time to carve the pumpkin.

  30. The Worst of Perth

    Can Halloween whingers be the most predictable and pathetic of all people? I believe they live for this time of the year to be able moan about “American Culture”. There seems to be some kind of inadequacy behind this, where being able to complain about Halloween is a mask for some inner personality deficit or cultural cringe remnant. The kids love it. Absolutely love it.

  31. Ken Lovell

    No @ 30, IMHO the most boring and predictable of all people are those who insist on writing wonderfully puerile psychoanalytical profiles of total strangers on the basis of a single blog comment :D.

    I did enjoy the ‘cultural cringe remnant’ bit though … its intended meaning defies all attempts at rational comprehension.

  32. Katz

    No, WOP is right, trick’n’treatin’ is the best thing eva to come out of Canada.

  33. paul walter

    Pumpkins.
    Interesting how the conversation has moved from Wicca and Druids- rather British, I’d think, to the American appropriation of yet another old traditional facet,
    or conscription of one, into the service of consumerism.
    Gradgrindian neoliberalism rules.
    Hence the march.
    Does nothing go beyond an obsession with the bottom line?
    I know some will be eager to quote the earlier Marx; too true.
    But everything good or bad, useful or useless, falls to the wayside, sacrificed on the altar of “Creative Destruction”.
    What people don’t realise is that the term is based on an implied agreement within. For “destructive”, we are offered an exchange involving “creative”, but when creative contradicts the bottomline, all that’s left is more destruction,for no dividend.
    In the case of St Clair pks and Cheltenham racecourse, adjacent, “creative” could have meant the rehab of the Actil site, with multistory housing within spitting distance of both the transport hub and St Clair park itself.
    But the additional ingredient is in the landswap. There is likely a shonk somewhere in it, as has occurred in NSW where many of these ideas originate. The only “creativity” comes in the machinations of lawyers and bean counters in fobbing off costs and liability onto the community.

  34. Rob

    “Or I could try watching The Night of the Hunter again. It scared me so much I couldn’t finish watching it last time I tried..”

    Thanks, Paul Burns. That’s my viewing for tomorrow night. Candidate for the best film ever made.

  35. Pavlov's Cat

    As Paul W implies, at least Halloween has its roots in a Celtic festival and Australia is awash with Celts, whereas Thanksgiving … well, you know. The scariest thing about Americans asking why Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t even the cultural-imperialism aspect: it’s that if they can ask that question at all, it means they haven’t got a clue what Thanksgiving is about. Contentless cultural imperialism!

  36. Pavlov's Cat

    In case it may be of use to others, here is my door-answering line for after-dark trick or treaters (usually mobs of slightly scary teenagers), viz if they’re old enough to be wandering the streets after dark then they’re too old to be begging for chocolate from strangers.

  37. terangeree

    Dr Cat @ 34.

    Of course, we could celebrate Thanksgiving with our gratitude that the Puritans didn’t go any further than North America back in 16-something-something.

    Come to think of it, that’s a good reason for all of the world that is not in North America to celebrate Thanksgiving. (insert appropriate smiley emoticon here, if you wish)

  38. paul walter

    35, that’s so W C Fields.
    36, Oh yes they did, eventually. Ask the indigenes.
    But we are due for our rude awakening.
    Like the indigenes from two hundred years ago up until now, our “dreamtime” is ending. Will “Sunday morning after Saturday night” be as unforseen and unpleasant for us as it has been for Australias indigenes? Or more especially for our descendents?
    “Cut down the trees,
    put ’em a tree-museum.
    Then charge the people
    a dollar and a half,
    just see ’em”

  39. j_p_z

    I like Katz’s interpretation of Halloween as yanks imitating canucks. Heh heh. We are well and truly hosed then, eh?

    PC has a good point: Halloween is Celtic before it’s American, so I’d expect to see it embraced in Oz on those grounds, rather than from cultural imperialismus.

    w/r/t to Thanksgiving, I think a lot of American perception has shifted from a historical and particular national holiday, to a generalized semi-religious day of overall thanksgiving. Also the family re-union aspect is more important than the historical elements. And of course, the historical narrative is fraught with difficulties, which probably helps put it further in the backgroundthe more it’s examined.

    Which is a long way of saying, the present state of affairs isn’t so much “content-free” as it is a case of morphing and conceptual drift, as cultures are prone to do.

  40. Andrew E

    Was mildly disturbed that nobody picked up on Dougie Cameron’s comments this week that the Federal Caucus is full of:
    a) union officials; and
    b) zombies; but somehow not
    c) both of the above.

  41. GregM

    The scariest thing about Americans asking why Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t even the cultural-imperialism aspect: it’s that if they can ask that question at all, it means they haven’t got a clue what Thanksgiving is about. Contentless cultural imperialism!

    Well we could institute our own Thanksgiving Day for 27 January, re-enacting the party that was had when the female convicts on the First Fleet were disembarked.

    According to accounts from the time a good time was had by all.

    It would be fun to invite a few Americans along to join in the festivities. It would broaden their cultural perspective no end.

  42. j_p_z

    As Charles Shulz famously pointed out, if you’re going to be decorating with pumpkins, then the most important thing is for the pumpkins to be sincere.

    How exactly one goes about judging the sincerity of a pumpkin, he did not say.

  43. Eric Sykes

    paul burns @ 11…enjoy!!!

    brotherhood of the wolf, absolute cracker of an action movie and french to boot…also based on a true story, my best friends sister lives down the road (in france) from where it all happened…

  44. Katz

    When I lived in the States, I used to love Thanksgiving. The places I lived latish November was an excellent season for eating.

    We enjoyed several gatherings of foreigners of different kinds and Americans who either couldn’t afford to join kith and kin, or who couldn’t stomach that prospect.

    Interestingly, US popular culture since the caesura represented by the 1960s represents Thanksgiving as an opportunity for tearing the scabs off old family wounds.

    Foreigners, on the other hand, simply drank too much, ate too much and subsided into semi-supine postures gazing at serial games of televised American football.

    Geez, why would an American WANT to go home.The family arguments spoil the football.

  45. Ken Lovell

    I confess I don’t understand trick or treat. I asked some kids who knocked on the door once to explain it but they just looked confused and went away kicking at the ground.

    Can someone enlighten me in a few sentences? Serious request.

  46. Fine

    Well it’s Derby day for me, which isn’t an American import. I don’t know anyone who celebrates it here any way, so why it’s heading an OP in an Australian blog is beyond me. OTOH, this weekend in Melbourne is full of Derby and Cup parties. Mind you, people are dressing prettily scarily for those as well.

    Melbourne is far too wet for any kid to be out trick or treating tonight anyway.

  47. Pavlov's Cat

    Ken L, my understanding from many years of reading American comics, novels and comic novels (and JPZ will know better but he may have gone to bed by now; I don’t know where in the US he lives) is that if you didn’t give them a treat then they tricked you, the trick being to toilet-paper your house or paint your windows shut or put dogshit in your letterbox or some such. Trick or treat as I understand it is essentially demanding chocolate with menaces.

    These days, of course, the parents of any American child who did such a thing would be hauled off to court before you could say ‘vexatious litigant’.

  48. Casey

    Oh FFS somebody help me. My cat keeps on staring at me for food. It goes for hours and hours. Her eyes look all woebegone and then she wraps her body round her empty plate. Then it’s horrible. She does the silent Meow. Have you ever seen that? I can’t take the pressure. She’s supposed to be on a diet. Its freaking killing me.

  49. GregM

    Melbourne is far too wet for any kid to be out trick or treating tonight anyway.

    And isn’t that something to celebrate?

    Melbourne water storages stand at 49.9% full and the weekend’s rains will help them pip the 50% mark. In the north of the state the dams are even better filled, the Hume at nearly 100%, Dartmouth just a tad below 50% and Eildon at 63% and rising.

  50. GregM

    Oh FFS somebody help me. My cat keeps on staring at me for food.

    What you must do is divert her by providing her with companionship. Buy her a little friend that she can play with and that will soon take her mind off her hunger pangs.

    A fluffy little white mouse would be ideal.

  51. Pavlov's Cat

    Sorry, Fine — I too love horses to bits, and I think I understand the romance of racing, but all I can think of these days whenever anyone mentions Cup Week is ‘You’ve got carrot in your fascinator!’

  52. Eric Sykes

    well if we are gonna import rituals then why not guy fawkes night? it’s a a far far better thing, he has the right idea, the kiddies love it….and so on & on.

  53. Fine

    Dr. Pav, if that’s all they have in their fascinator, they’re doing well.

    I used to love Guy Fawkes Night. Our neighbour had a dog called Scottie who used to steal the lit penny bungers and run around with them in his mouth until they exploded.

    And yes GregM, the rain is something to celebrate. I hope it makes it to the Coorong.

  54. Ememy Combatant

    “Mr Murdoch, who usually has politicians visit him, went to Canberra for a meeting in Ms Gillard’s Parliament House office.” smh

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COAvbDK2S5s

  55. Casey

    Our neighbour had a dog called Scottie who used to steal the lit penny bungers and run around with them in his mouth until they exploded.

    I am not buying her a live mouse Greg.

    Good lord, was Scottie alright after the bungers went off?

    I mean our bungers were the big guns of fire crackers.

  56. Ken Lovell

    Gillard’s mob keeps funding more and more chaplains in schools. Devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to such a blatantly ideological cause is almost enough to make me a libertarian. Almost.

    How do the chaplains reconcile their divine mission with Halloween’s surge in popularity? Especially when it’s alleged that ‘fears that too many newly and under-trained chaplains are being press-ganged into action without adequate qualifications or experience to deal with troubled teenagers have been swept aside in the subsidy scramble.’

    Well I’m sure god will show them the way.

  57. Mercurius

    @44 Ken –

    Here’s your explanation

    I have a bag of Freddos at the ready for this evening. Although, my wife suggested we give out toothbrushes. I have also considered trying out my best Yiddish accent and tempting the kids with gefilte fish.

  58. Fine

    Casey, Scottie was fine. He was a complete eccentric of a dog who also use to go and barrack for the local VFL team all by himself. The blokes on the gate used to let him in for free. He developed a bad heart in his old age and the vet wouldn’t let him do any exciting stuff anymore. But he was a good dog.

  59. Pavlov's Cat

    I have a bag of Freddos at the ready for this evening.

    Merc, surely it’s tomorrow night? Isn’t Halloween October 31? And yet my local shopping strip this afternoon seemed full of small witches, aliens, skeletons and so on, and now it’s you and your Freddos.

    Confused Pav is confused.

    (I considered Freddos but went in the end for mini Mars Bars; their parents will hate me.)

  60. Ken Lovell

    Hmmmm thanks Mercurius, that’s very informative.

    BTW what are the Halloween traditions? Can I dress up to scare the kids, e.g. with a Wilson Tuckey mask?

    The internet is so educational.

  61. Nick

    Casey, maybe give her just a small handful of bikkies. 5-10 tops, and then some more a couple of hours later.

  62. Nick

    GregM is probably not too far off though. She might be a bit old(?), but if you can get her to exercise more…if she’s indoors a lot but still likes to climb, you could pick up a cheap self-standing carpeted office divider (preferably a funky light-blue/green or black one – not grey) from somewhere. Echo and Eno, my twin sisters of 6-7 months spend half the day running up and down them 🙂

    (Enjoyed your last comment the other week on The Piano btw. Still haven’t had a chance to watch it again!)

  63. Eric Sykes

    Ken @ 55 the The National Schools Chaplaincy Program is a scandal of monumental proportions and the fact that the Ruddster and then Gillard have extended it (Labor keeps giving it more money) is just unforgivable in my books.

    And in QLD its far worse of course, as it usually is…with a far right wing fundamentalist group actually contracted by government to oversee recruitment. I know one chaplain who talks to Jesus while he helps her with the washing up of a evening. He asks her to “bring the little children to him”. Another is a Jehovah’s Witness, who of course, refuses to deal with certain children as they may be “unclean”. Seriously.

  64. Katz

    How about membership application forms for the Young Liberals?

    Kids in fright-mask dress-ups demanding freebies might find a spiritual home in the Young Libs.

    Alternatively, kids offended by the gesture may spend the rest of their lives voting against the Liberals.

    It’s a win/win/win situation.

  65. GregM

    I am not buying her a live mouse Greg.

    A dead one won’t provide her with much companionship.

    If that’s not a goer you could ask around and see if any of your friends have a pet greyhound, retired from the racing industry, which you could borrow for a while as a houseguest. This would provide excellent companionship and exercise for both your mog and the dog as they scurry around bonding and would certainly shorten the time she has to be on her diet while your houseguest might have the chance to relive past glories of the racetrack.

  66. Katz

    A laser pen. If the cat doesn’t chase that teasing red dot wherever it goes, the cat is already dead.

  67. j_p_z

    Since Ken and others asked, a couple of stray thoughts on the phenomenon of trick or treat…

    By way of indirection, the thing is somewhat explained by a few (non-Halloween) lines from two great poets, Frost and cummings.

    From Frost’s lovely poem “The Fear” from his must-read first book, “North of Boston”…

    “What are you doing round this house at night?”
    “Nothing.” A pause: there seemed no more to say.
    And then the voice again: “You seem afraid.
    I saw by the way you whipped up the horse.
    I’ll just come forward in the lantern light
    And let you see.”
    “Yes, do.–Joel, go back!”
    She stood her ground against the noisy steps
    That came on, but her body rocked a little.
    “You see,” the voice said.
    “Oh.” She looked and looked.
    “You don’t see–I’ve a child here by the hand.”
    “What’s a child doing at this time of night—-?”
    “Out walking. Every child should have the memory
    Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk.
    What, son?”

    and of course, the great line from cummings:

    “sun moon stars rain”

    I don’t much approve of teenagers doing trick-or-treat (and also I don’t see it as much any more either). It’s really a thing meant for children under the age of say 10 or 12. For them it’s an exercise in imagination, neighborliness, and socialization — dealing with people in your community who maybe are slightly familiar but you don’t really know.

    Like lots of things, it’s morphed a bit. At bottom trick-or-treat is a neighborhood thing, or even a block thing, but because of the way that American cities sprawl, it’s drifted somewhat in nature.

    There’s a bit of a ritual involved for a grownup, if you’re participating. (And I’m leaving out the annoying teenagers.) A bunch of small children in costume ring your doorbell (there’s often a parent hovering in the background nearby.) They say “Trick or treat!” and you pretend to be surprised and/or scared by them. Then you admire their individual costumes (“Who are you? A witch? Ohhh, you’re a very scary witch!”) while you dole out the sweets. (The whole “trick” element has mostly sort of faded away, at least in the areas I know, but is replicated by snarky teens in a lot of places by what’s known as Mischief Night, which is sort of separate from trick or treat.)

    When I was a kid it was considered OK to have a store-bought costume (like Spiderman or Frankenstein or something) if you were really young, like under age 8. But after that it was expected that you would make your own costume, and the more clever and original the better. I can recall a lot of very witty and skillful ones. And also lots of banal ones.

    During the run-up to this year’s Halloween I got into a discussion with two of my little nieces: “What are you going to be for Halloween?”

    “A vampire!”
    “A goblin princess!”
    “Hmm, that’s interesting. Who do you think would win in a duel, a vampire or a goblin princess?”

    A long erudite debate ensued. And that’s really sort of the point.

  68. pablo

    [email protected] and [email protected] The announcement of 1000 new chaplains…yes 1000….by Gillard during the election campaign had me aghast. But to think it might have survived the election blah blah. I hope this is one where the beseiged Keneally, with an ethics option ready to go, will seize the opportunity and tell Gillard it ‘aint going to happen in NSW. Catholicism (neo version) versus opportunistic atheism…ahhhyou know what I mean.

  69. Steve at the Pub

    I can see we’re going to have to pay some attention to this exotic foreign custom.

    Just now a midget sized trio comprising of:
    a Devil (red bodysuit, horns, forked tail & pitchfork)
    a Witch (black hat, long cape, long hooked nose with wart)
    a Grim Reaper (skull face, scythe, long black cape)

    …knocked at my door & used the phrase “Trick or Treat”

    My only brush with this custom being in Donald Duck comics, where I just skimm over it with furrowed brow, I was at quite a loss, & after feigning fear at having “ghosts & witches & nasties” lurking around my house after dark, asked just what exactly was this?

    The witch & devil (who sounded most un-witchy and very like little girls) explained that “.. it is where you have to give us lots of lollies & things like that”

    I was nonplussed. There is not a lolly in the house, nor anything else remotely appealing to kiddy tastebuds, I had to send them away empty handed. (Surreptitiously gave the outside a once-over after they went, looking for garden hoses unplugged, or water taps turned on, or something.)

    Had I known the drill some lollies would have been ready.

    It looks like a tonne of fun!

    They were well togged out too, poor mites, felt like a curmudgeon to disappoint them.

  70. rf

    Thanks for the description of trick or treat jpz – that’s pretty much how it works out here on the streets of sunny Broome. We get together with another couple of families and a couple of parents accompany the kids on the rounds while the others put together a dinner for all. All very social and community spirited. Most folk are happy enough to play along as you describe and if they don’t want to that’s fine.
    Once the kids hit highschool age that’ll be the end of it for them.

    Mind you back in my day (in Scotland), it was a guising we went and you were expected to perform – sing a song, do a magic trick or something. Kids today have it easy etc etc

    It does grate that halloween brings out the usual wowserish complaints and grumbles that we are the 51st state of teh US and that it’s just rank consumerism.

  71. extragiblets

    Hey Ken, that was a brilliant comment back at number 17. You are sooo right!
    I just found this site. It is very good. I found it by typing “I hate Andrew Bolt” into Google.
    I was pissed off because I normally avoid his nonsense but our sad excuse of a newspaper here in Adelaide has started putting his diatribes in once a week. Funnily enough one of his more common bleating whinges is that the Australian media is controlled and dominated by the dreaded “Left”.
    (I always think of KAOS in Get Smart when he says “The Left” as if it is a registered organisation).
    Anyway, I am intrigued at how this dastardly plan has come into being, considering that most of the papers and electronic outlets are owned by the likes of Murdoch and Packer who I kind of sense are not Lefties.
    Now, Blotty is allowed to carry on like a dribbling drunk in a front bar and no articles are published which counter or criticise his articles. However the media is controlled by the Leftists you understand?
    I became so angry at one of his moronic articles that I stupidly decided to write on his blog. I hate adding to his blog score but again I stupidly thought it was worth wasting my time writing a very measured response with no invective or slurs which effectively revealed the flaws in his logic.
    Imagine my surprise when I went back to see that it had not been published. How can someone who is so critical, intolerant and down right nasty at times be so thin skinned that they can’t bear to acknowledge a contrary opinion as valid?
    Anyway, I found myself here and will be interested to visit in the future.

  72. rf

    SATP – don’t feel too bad – the little buggers are out a day early 🙂

  73. joe2

    Ken Lovell there is a High Court challenge in the making against the Chaplaincy Program. Methinks it is a good cause to chip in a few bucks for since it is private claim with a lot of expense.

    http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/10/28/Dad-fights-state-school-chaplaincy-program/

  74. Ken Lovell

    Thank you j_p_z … it was the ‘trick’ bit that always puzzled me and you’ve cleared that up nicely.

    I can understand that it would all be great fun if it was a cultural tradition, but somewhat artificial when you have to explain to most of those involved what’s going on (young kids excepted of course – they will love anything that involves dressing up and lollies).

    At least I can feel superior to commenters whose sole source of information was Disney comics. True that was my beginning, but it has been supplemented by copious quantities of ‘The Simpsons’ and American horror movies featuring ski masks.

  75. Nana Levu

    When I was young the Halloween season was sombre and religious with a focus on All Souls Day – November 2 when we went to Mass and remembered the dead. http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallowee.htm

    A few days later, November 5, was Guy Fawkes day was a celebration. All the farmers from the surrounding farms (in Whitelaw Track between Koonwarra and Leongatha South in Gippsland) Victoria, gathered wood for a huge bonfire at the junction of several farms at the end of our driveway. It was a night for kids, crackers, pranks, and frightening the cows and dogs.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night

    Since talk of sex, religion or politics were taboo where I came from, the contradiction between the Catholic Days of the Dead and the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes day celebration was never raised to consciousness.

    Halloween today seems to me to be commercialised nonsense in a slow selling season.

  76. Ken Lovell

    Nana Levu my partner in Manila will be going to the cemetery tomorrow with the rest of the family to light candles for the departed. There’ll be lots of stories, eating, drinking, music and dancing all night. No tears as far as I can work out; it’s a fiesta for the dead not a requiem mass. I guess the event was introduced by the Spanish centuries ago but it’s become a uniquely Filipino tradition now.

    I’m a bit old now to stay up all night drinking beer and besides it’s not my culture, so I give it a miss. But it’s clearly a big deal to all the locals, and possibly more meaningful than dressing up the kids like American superheroes and sending them out to beg for lollies.

  77. terangeree

    Paul Walter @ 37:

    Oh no, they didn’t, eventually.

    I might be wrong (I often am), but I’m fairly certain that the First Fleet and the rest of the ships of New Holland’s and Van Dieman’s Land’s convict era were not filled with free people in search of a place where they could freely practice their particularly restrictive version of Protestant Christianity.

  78. paul walter

    You forget the small issue of the people actually in charge, good English proddies well pleased at having Irish Catholic convict navvies to do the hard yakka free of charge, building their churches and homesteads for them, with no more than a dose of the cat as a reward for their efforts.

  79. j_p_z

    Ken #74 — yes, the Days of the Dead as celebrated in the Hispanosphere do seem like a very humane, even profound, approach to the feast days. All Saints and All Souls are very holy days in the Church calendar, and the Spanish world’s approach to them has much to be said for it.

    Halloween is just silly secular revelry — nothing wrong with such stuff, but it is rather slight.

  80. Fiona Reynolds

    GregM @66, thank you for starting my day with giggles over your excellent suggestion to Casey.

    Now – to both Fine and GregM – the blissful Melbourne rain. Such lovely, soaking rain. So soporific. Fine, I hope you didn’t get too wet at the races yesterday – and that there was no carrot in your fascinator (thank you, PC – another lovely giggle).

  81. Fiona Reynolds

    … er, GregM was @66 when I last looked (scratches head in bewilderment).

  82. Casey

    Behold Fiona, how things can change and shift when a witch is giggled at. Learn and see the power of the Casey on All Hallows Eve, Fiona, and beware of chicks with sticks. I’ve collapsed whole threads you know.

  83. dylan agh

    Ken L, “At least I can feel superior to commenters whose sole source of information was Disney comics. True that was my beginning, but it has been supplemented by copious quantities of ‘The Simpsons’ and American horror movies featuring ski masks.”

    Current Kids fav is Yo Gabba Gabba, it has regular Halloween shows, or maybe the same one i’ve seen a few times. Today, ABC 2 are having Spooky Sunday on their Giggle an Hoot show.

    My first incling of the post Disney Halloween was Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg. It was a long time ago but i think that his halloween was a bit spoilt by his hunt for the hacker.

  84. dylan agh
  85. dylan agh

    nope amazon to the rescue? the cuckoo’s egg

  86. dylan agh

    i am perplexed and a little embarrassed.

  87. Helen

    Halloween is just silly secular revelry — nothing wrong with such stuff, but it is rather slight.

    Not even in the ballpark for slight – next Tuesday the whole of Victoria (Australia, not Canada) has a public holiday for a horse race.

    http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/melbournecup/

  88. Casey

    i am perplexed and a little embarrassed.

    Well of course you are, mortal. You don’t know me. But you’ll get used to me.

    I love Halloween. I’m going as my cousin Serena, cause she’s the naughty one. Greg! btw, what is your blood type? I’m hoping you are an O or an A, otherwise Ima have one bad hangover tomorrow.

  89. joe2

    Slight exaggeration there [email protected] Some regional areas in Victoria have a public holiday on their own specialised nag race day and not Melbourne Cup Day.

  90. dylan agh

    Casey ” I’m going as my cousin Serena, cause she’s the naughty one. ” Not Perdita?

  91. joe2

    Stop looking at me through that mirror, Casey. It’s giving me the creeps.

  92. Pavlov's Cat

    has a public holiday for a horse race.

    I dunno, Helen, it’s-a not so bad — one of the most sophisticated cultures in the world would say That’s not a horse race, THIS is a horse race.

  93. GregM

    On the other hand, joe2, a good part of the rest of the nation takes most of the afternoon off with Cup Day parties even though it’s not a public holiday for them.

  94. dylan agh

    Paul Walter “I know some will be eager to quote the earlier Marx; too true.
    But everything good or bad, useful or useless, falls to the wayside, sacrificed on the altar of “Creative Destruction”.”

    GrregM “On the other hand, joe2, a good part of the rest of the nation takes most of the afternoon off with Cup Day parties even though it’s not a public holiday for them.”

    Or as Marx might say “and the last capitalist will proffer the consumerist celebration that we will turn into yet another long weekend that will bring the wheels of industry to a grinding halt.”

  95. GregM

    Or as Marx might say “and the last capitalist will proffer the consumerist celebration that we will turn into yet another long weekend that will bring the wheels of industry to a grinding halt.”

    Miserable bastard wasn’t he, the bushy-bearded one?

  96. Casey

    Which Perdita? The one in Gail Jones’s Sorry? Who are you? My supervisor or something? Well, Of course I have to go work on that now and I will see you all later, specially you Greg, specially you.

  97. Ken Lovell

    Extracts from an opinion piece in yesterday’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’:

    One senior figure from the Labor Right believes that while some of what the Left is calling for in policy change will never be adopted, it helps Labor to have the debate publicly …

    One of Abbott’s seasoned frontbenchers says he cannot remember when a government did not enjoy some poll bounce after an election, no matter how slim the victory.

    Question: why can’t these sources be identified? They haven’t said anything that would embarrass their parties; they haven’t disclosed confidential information; they haven’t broken any express or implied conditions of their appointments. Coorey (the author) doesn’t even use one of the usual uninformative excuses like ‘because of the sensitivity of the issue’. He just prints anonymous gossip, presumably because the politicians concerned preferred not to have anything on the record for their own private reasons.

    Once upon a time journalists were forgiven for protecting their sources if there were compelling reasons to do so, but it was only acceptable in extraordinary circumstances. Newspapers of record like the ‘New York Times’ even have written codes of conduct setting out the circumstances in which it is condoned (the ‘Herald’ might have one too for all I know). Yet it’s clear that for journalists these days, not naming sources has become the default option. One gets the feeling sometimes, as in the op-ed here, that writers don’t name sources because they simply couldn’t be bothered. They are insignificant props in the important business, which is the journalist telling us what s/he thinks.

    The potential for creative editing and downright fabrication is self-evident, and signals one of the main causes of the MSM’s loss of credibility.

  98. GregM

    — one of the most sophisticated cultures in the world would say That’s not a horse race, THIS is a horse race.

    Sophisticated? They keep re-electing Silvio Berlusconi as their prime minister. Crassness personified and on steroids.

  99. Nana Levu

    I went to a full version of that Robert Frost poem “The Fear” partialy quoted at #66. The full version is at http://www.bartleby.com/118/14.html

    It is not just good that “Every child should have the memory Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk.”
    It is good that householders frightened by noises outside their lonely houses, face their fears and see an innocent cause.

  100. Paul Burns

    Casey, its a cat.

    The scariest thing about our founding convict orgy is it didn’t happen. Its based on a misreading of the primary sources (Arthur Bowes Smyth and Watkin Tench) by Manning Clark in his Short History of Australia, which, after its popularisation by Robert Hughes in The Fatal Shore, Clark decided he had got wrong. Still, it would be a better Australia Day.

    Re, Trick or Treat. I thought Trick was giving something nasty to all the kids,like a dead mouse or something.

  101. dylan agh

    “Which Perdita?” the one from Lancre, who often hangs with Nanny Ogg, mentioned above.
    “Who are you? My supervisor or something?” Just some mortal procrastinating. two loads of washing hung up, dishwasher emptied and filled, kids and partner fed and sent to swimming lessons and the museum, one sentence of lecture summary written.

  102. Casey

    Ah yes Berlusconi, I recall that John Howard fell in love with him, don’t you? Funny thing, he kept on getting elected too. Howard. Indeed they were both very popular in their respective countries, but if we are going to talk sophistication have you seen the Italian fucker’s suits? Compare them to the tracksuits our dickhead PM wore around the world, then let’s talk sophistication. And that’s just the outfits. Let’s not talk about the rest.

    But blood now, well that’s it’s blood, everywhere you go. Italian blood, Australian blood, I don’t mind a little miscegenation, puts a pep in my step.

  103. dylan agh

    “Miserable bastard wasn’t he, the bushy-bearded one?”

    i dunno, my main internal image of him is him Pi**ing on with with his mate Fred. allowing soviet propaganda to define your image of something, and all the pics of him they made are very sour faced, is as dangerous as trick or treating in yr Gramsci costume at Silvio B’s house

  104. Paul Burns

    Casey,
    If the cat’s odd behaviour doesn’t stop, take it to a vet, preferably one skilled in animal psychology. Have to admit I’m puzzled, but undoubtedly there are other cats that have behaved in this way, and the vet will know what to do, and if there is any likelihood of a physical cause, (it might have eaten something that is giving it discomfort, like a bird bone or have a particularly large fur ball etc, etc.,) or whether its the usual kind of cat craziness. These things in animals are a bit of an emotional wrench for those of us they consider their subordinates, so for your own peace of mind as well as the cat its probably wise to do something about it asap.

  105. Pavlov's Cat

    GregM, I said it was a sophisticated culture, not necessarily a sophisticated electorate. There’s also quite a big difference between ‘sophisticated’ and ‘not corrupt’ — in fact some might say that a degree of corruption is implicit in the idea of sophistication.

    Besides, as Casey implies, if our degree of sophistication is to be judged by whom we elect, then there go the French, the Germans, the English and pretty much everybody else in the known world.

  106. Pavlov's Cat

    And yes, I know you said ‘crass’, I was wandering across to my own main objection to Berlusconi. I guess it depends on what you mean by crass.

  107. Casey

    Paul, the cat has been behaving this way for one year now. She’s about a year and four months old. She likes her food. The vet says that while she has a most luxurious coat, and is in excellent health, she is too fat and I have to put her on a diet. At first I thought the Vet was jealous or something, not wanting to admit that Gigi’s curves were very hawt. However, I have been told that it’s my fault if she gets fatter and the vet is starting to look at me like I’m one of those mothers on A Current Affair or Today Tonight with those 38 kilo 9 month olds that get Maccas for breakfast. So I’m screwed. If she doesn’t lose weight the Vet will report me to Cat Docs and if I don’t give her food Gigi will probably eat my leg while I am asleep. She bit my nose this morning to let me know she was hungry. It’s a war. She’s winning.

  108. Fiona Reynolds

    Crassness personified and on steroids.

    Steroids, Greg M? I thought it was viagra.

  109. terangeree

    What about the beagles?

  110. Casey

    Paul, let me show you how my cat behaves every morning when she wants to eat:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ffwDYo00Q&feature=channel

    okay, she hasn’t learnt to use a bat yet, but the rest is seriously what goes on every single morning.

  111. David Irving (no relation)

    Seriously, Casey, how fat is she really?

    I ask because I have an extremely well-nourished cat – a fairly recent blow-in who’s still making up for having lived rough for a bit. (It wouldn’t matter if I put her on a diet, btw, she’d just catch more mice or ingratiate herself with some neighbours.)

  112. GregM

    I guess it depends on what you mean by crass.

    One could go with the dictionary definition:

    “without refinement, delicacy, or sensitivity; gross; obtuse; stupid”

    But Berlusconi is the rolled gold standard for crassness, so I mean Silvio Berlusconi:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvio_Berlusconi#Jokes.2C_gestures_and_blunders

  113. Casey

    Well its funny you say that David. Apparently she is meant to weigh 4.5 kg and she weighs 5.4 kg and she is a small cat. She’s a former feral, found in a colony of cats at 4 months of age. I reckon this has something to do with her wanting to eat whenever she can. The vet tells me it’s unhealthy for her, I reckon she looks alright if a bit chubby. But I’m in trouble with the vet and am feeling a bit guilty. Do you reckon it’s okay if she is 1 kg overweight?

  114. Casey

    So, all of Italy is crass because of Berlusconi? Is that your stupid point this week?

  115. joe2

    That weight is fine, Casey. Just get the vet to prescribe Statins get the cat to cut back on the booze and give up smoking. It’s far too young to be smoking anyways..

  116. Casey

    hehehehehehehe very funny.

  117. FDB

    “Do you reckon it’s okay if she is 1 kg overweight?”

    That depends on how nice she is. A foul-tempered, standoffish cat is a horrible fatty, a friendly, sweet, playful cat is just a little cuddly.

  118. Casey

    That’s what I reckon FDB.

    Just the other night when she ate a LILY and I had to take her to the emergency vet cause lilies are poisonous and one square centremetre of lily leaf cost me $750,000, I was trying to explain just that.

  119. FDB

    Holy shit! Um.. yeah, I’m not big on imposing diets on kitties, but if she’s eating poison there could be a case.

  120. GregM

    They keep re-electing him, Casey.

    That’s the mystery of it.

    Unless it’s a vast Italian in-joke and they’re only doing it for their personal and collective amusement while they quietly take bets among themselves about what new outrage or solecism he’ll get up to. Now that would be sophisticated.

    PS. Sorry for your cat. Being 20 percent overweight is serious trouble for a cat, particularly at such a young age. You might ask your vet if she has an endocrine problem. Also if it’s a single cat look to its activity levels. If you can consider getting another cat so it has a playmate with whom it can share some recreation and compete for food.

  121. joe2

    And $750,000 is a lot. I think that is how much it will cost
    everyone,with government NBN, to put dark fibre in our homes!!!!

  122. Salient Green

    Calling me a halloween carmudgeon is rather abusive I think.
    A grinch perhaps.
    Or perhaps not even grinch. Here is an account of how much money Americans squander on halloween each year.
    http://holykaw.alltop.com/candynomics-the-economics-of-halloween-candy

  123. Brett

    Latest Berlusconi news — crass or not?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/31/3052975.htm

    On the one hand he’s intervened to get a 17 year old immigrant released from jail. On the other she’s a regular at his, erm, parties. I’m going for crass.

  124. Diogenes

    Berlusconi went beyond crassness a long time ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acVqHjMQFq4&feature=related

  125. David Irving (no relation)

    Diogenes, if that film is genuine, it should’ve got him locked up for sexual assault.

  126. Brett

    Apparently it’s not genuine but is from a film called Bye Bye Berlusconi.

  127. Casey

    Yes, the point made was not “Is Berlusconi crass?”. The point made was “Is Italy/Italian culture./the Italian electorate crass because he has yet again been elected?”

    Now take it away.

    And you may consider in your answer how this guy is the third richest man in Italy and owns most of the media etc etc and how he has introduced laws which allow him to avoid prosecution etc etc etc.

  128. Brett

    An open thread, where at your weekend leisure, you can discuss anything you like.

  129. Casey

    Well, by all means, you are correct – but I am just pointing what Greg’s point actually was.

  130. Diogenes

    Casey @ 124, I suppose you are referring to GregM’s statement at @96 which, as Italians would say: non vale un fico

  131. Casey

    Yeah, I reckon you’d be molto correcto, about that Diogenes. Credo che forse e un po insensato. Still his hemoglobin is worth fighting for I say.

  132. Angharad

    Was mildly disturbed that nobody picked up on Dougie Cameron’s comments this week that the Federal Caucus is full of:
    a) union officials; and
    b) zombies; but somehow not
    c) both of the above.

    Well I did notice this letter in the SMH on Saturday from someone who clearly doesn’t have much time for the Senator.

    Freedom, if it suits
    Doug Cameron wants diversity of opinion within the Labor Party and the Left faction to be able to speak its mind publicly (“Left turns up heat on battling PM”, October 25). Cameron must have forgotten how he ran the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union – with an iron fist. Not only were employees of the union forbidden to speak out, even internal dissent could be met with marching orders. Cameron wants freedom of speech only when he isn’t the boss.

    Anastasia Polites Belmore

    Casey – the vet told us that our cat had “over-maximised her frame” which I thought was a novel way of telling us she was too fat. But she was way less than 1 kg overweight. We put her on a diet and it’s been constant wingeing for about 2 years. Tedious. But she looks better and is presumably inside her frame bearing capacity now 🙂

  133. Fine

    “Do you reckon it’s okay if she is 1 kg overweight?”

    That sounds like a lot of extra weight for a little cat to be carrying. Maybe 20% of her bodyweight? She might thank you in the long term if you put her on a diet. Cruel to be kind and all that.

  134. Pavlov's Cat

    non vale un fico

    Quite.

  135. Casey

    Yep okay. Points all taken. Thanks for the cat advice everyone.

  136. paul walter

    PC’s comment, as to a sophisticated culture not necessarily having a sophisticated electorate, was for this writer born out with the trip to town today, for the combined protests of Mt Barker and Inner western subs people, as regards unrelated open slather “development” in our corner of the new world order.
    With numbers as to the protest, I’d say quality rather than quantity- folk just don’t “get” what goes on with “development”, particular of the new and virulent type embraced by Labor, post AUSFTA.
    Disillusioning, but we figured earlier it was going to be an uphill battle.
    I think the saddest part of all for me was standing next another former labor supporter, a woman from Mt Barker who’d actually worked high up the ALP at one stage. We felt so, utterly, ashamed of current Labor and of ever having been apart of it…

  137. GregM

    non vale un fico, eh?

    Well consider me accuratamente sbattuto con una foglia lattuga.

  138. Fiona Reynolds

    An assortment of devils, witches, and one tiny fairy – all under 12, and all very damp – were at our front door five minutes ago. Alas, nothing in the pantry was even remotely appropriate! They were most good-humoured about it (and also had a parent waiting unobtrusively at the gate).

    One would have thought that one was safe on a wet Melbourne evening…

    In previous years, parents of prospective Hallowe’eners used to word up the neighbourhood, so that we would be at least partly prepared. Indeed, about a decade ago him in the study (who bears a frightening resemblance to Lurch) dressed up in his academic gown and answered the door with a basso profundo “You rang?”, with the strains of the Dorian Toccata providing a suitably eerie background (our house is believed to be haunted by many of the local children).

    Went down a treat.

  139. Fiona Reynolds

    Moreover, if the milk doesn’t agree with the baby, boil it.

  140. Curi-Oz

    Considering that Halloween is a ‘beginning of winter’ feast, I still have problems with it – especially as Australia will be getting all silly over a horse race as a ‘beginning of summer’ celebration a few days later.

    Besides, we have our own Day of the Dead at the other end of the year in ANZAC Day, which makes a heck of a lot more sense in more ways that just seasonal to this little (naturalised) Aussie.

  141. Paulus

    What an awful thing to do to the baby, Fiona! 😛

  142. Paulus

    Has anyone here tried Zumba? You see signs for it everywhere in Adelaide now.

    If so, is it any good? Also, do guys turn up to the classes, or is it mainly/entirely a thing for women? (I’m not being sexist here, I’d just feel a bit self-conscious as the only guy in the room.)

  143. Andrew Reynolds

    Fiona,
    Boiling a baby just because it does not agree with milk seems a little excessive.
    🙂

  144. Andrew Reynolds

    Paulus – that’s what I get for not refreshing my browser 🙁

  145. Katz

    Berlusconi’s popularity in Italy is a result of his skill in transferring the characters and tropes of commedia dell’arte into the theatre of electoral politics.

    Everyone must wear a mask, even those political actors who don’t wish to wear a mask. The latter wear the mask of the actor who refuses to wear a mask. Politics evolves into performance.

    Berlusconi insists on being Scaramouche. Only by being more outrageous than Berlusconi’s Scaramouche can an opponent oust Berlusconi from that role. Such a tactic would be self destructive. The audience would not tolerate it.

    Thus, Berlusconi’s opponents must play the role of il Dottore or Pantalone — life’s losers.

    It takes a rare kind of performative skill and a deep insight into popular culture to achieve this theatrical trick.

    Cynical? Possibly. Crass? Probably not.

  146. paul walter

    #143,
    Agree. Surely a gentle baste, for tenderness?
    Don’t forget the Bouquet Garni ( I do love these weegend “domestic tips” threads! ).

  147. Casey

    (I’m not being sexist here, I’d just feel a bit self-conscious as the only guy in the room.)

    Ima tell you this secret cause I like you. If you show up to a place where only women are doing their thing and you wanna try to do their thing, they are gonna love you for it. You will get 30 new girlfriends in an instant. And if you zumba bad they are all gonna wanna help you. They are gonna go home to their partners and talk about the bloke who tries. You cannot go wrong Paulus. And if you feel self conscious they are gonna wanna help you through that.

    Of course, if there a some South American men called Eduardo, Tito and Leonardo with swivel hips and copper skin in that room with you and the 30 women, then that immediately nulls and voids everything in the first paragraph of this comment.

  148. Helen

    @139,141,143: I’m expecting an Andrew Bolt article on “LP Leftards advocate baby-boiling!!” in 3,2,1…

  149. joe2

    I think these zumba classes should come with a health warning. Swinging your pelvis around like this, Paulus, could well put your back out for weeks.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0q6qtThF4

  150. Pavlov's Cat

    Paulus, I read your comment and was about to write pretty much exactly what Casey said, but then she said it.

    What Casey said.

  151. Pavlov's Cat

    Also, what Katz said at #145 is an excellent example of what I mean by a sophisticated culture.

  152. FDB

    Anyone in or around Sydney who likes African percussion instruments and is at least ambivalent about their being imbued with pure evil – checkitout.

  153. Paul Burns

    Casey, loved the cartoon. Will e-mail to all my cat-loving friends. (Who forgive me for being a dog person.)
    Re Italy – have always had the impression that post-war Italian politics has always been a bit – well, anarchic – and the country keeps on going regardless of the antics of whoever they elect. This, of course, is no defence of Berlesconi’s tastelessness or his ultra right wing politics. As for Howard and Berlesconi – rgardless of Howard’s mouthings about the ‘Australianess’ of being confronted face to face with David Hicks – birds of a feather, etc.

  154. Paul Burns

    I thought this was interesting, though the socialist in me recoils at its possible elitist implications (in the true sense of the word, not the Howardian one).
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/grand-designs-20101031-178v6.html

  155. Mindy

    @ Casey

    Make your cat work for her food! http://www.ehow.com/how_2294840_make-cats-foraging-toy.html

    At least that might keep her busy and stop her looking at you with those big sad eyes all the time.

  156. paul walter

    Casey, dont fret.
    Come the Apocalypse, you’ll have a ready made source of protein available.
    Particularly good when curried, am told.

  157. adrian

    True Paul, but it just tastes like chicken. Not an issue CTA I guess.

  158. joe2
  159. paul walter

    Oh dear, Joe2.
    I was in mid laugh when I remembered my cat, who died last month.
    Maybe just, quite, not yet up to cat jokes (good link tho).
    Meh.
    Stomach, grimace: y’know.
    What’s that stuff outside..sunshine..switches pc off, goes for walk.. .

  160. adrian

    They should have used the flour first, plus a little beaten egg and most important of all a non see-through lid.

  161. Pavlov's Cat

    I, for one, will welcome our feline overlords and overladies when the time comes, as it inevitably will. And I will direct them to this thread so they know who to take out first.

  162. paul walter

    “Cats do not have owners- they have staff”.

  163. bmitw

    So true, PW @ 162.

    But when my boss gets uppity I have some ways of ensuring that the balance of power is restored.

    And Casey – there are, in case your vet has not mentioned them, special formulations which are less energy dense so you get the volume without the kilojoules. No point wasting your one advantage over her. Exercise is best encouraged by bringing the gear into the house and forbidding her to use it! 🙂

  164. David Irving (no relation)

    That may not work, bmitw. One of my cats (Mr Snuggles) is elderly, with kidney problems, and I’ve been advised not to let him eat red meat. Whenever I try to feed him just the kidney-balanced dry food, he looks at me as though I’ve tried to poison him, then mugs Bruce for her kangaroo meat.

  165. Paul Burns

    Noticed Ch. Ten News that one of the Democrat slogans for the US Congressional elewctions is – “Moving America Forward.”
    Is this serendipity or what?

  166. joe2

    “And I will direct them to this thread so they know who to take out first.”

    http://www.xomba.com/files/images/lolcat-funny-picture-moderator1.preview.jpg

  167. Liam

    Since I’m in a youtube-clip-dumping-mood, and in keeping with the theme of the thread, here’s one of the more disturbing ones I’ve seen after a night out slumped in front of rage.

  168. dylan agh

    You tube, things that scare the irrational, ok

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKoQgODwveE

  169. Paulus

    Casey,

    Your points are well made, but on reflection, rather than zumba-zumba perhaps I will try bunga-bunga, a popular new aerobic dance style that also features a high ratio of women to men. It was originated by a gentleman who has been already been mentioned on this thread.

    *runs away*

    Ruby, a 177cm-tall Moroccan, has testified that one of these parties included “bunga-bunga” – a form of [um, dance]. The party supposedly featured a naked Mr Berlusconi and 20 female guests, also naked.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/orgy-scandal-puts-silvio-berlusconi-at-risk/story-e6frg6so-1225945831934

  170. paul walter

    “Bruce”?

  171. joe2

    “It was originated by a gentleman who has been already been mentioned on this thread.”

    Correction: Paulus and Rupert is just jealous.

    “Silvio told me that he’d copied that formula from Muammar Gaddafi (the Libyan leader). It’s a ritual of his African harem,” Ruby said.

  172. David Irving (no relation)

    Naming her Bruce was a vain attempt to persuade my son (who brought her inside with cries of ‘Can we keep her?’ ‘Only if I can call her Bruce.’) do more than a half-arsed job of finding her real owners. It backfired.

    Still, she’s a very philosophical cat …

  173. murph the surf.

    Interest rate rises.
    Any comments ? The CBA extra grab seems crude but will probably be effective despite protests.
    How well are we in control of the strength in the economy here?

  174. joe2

    I like the Reserve Bank style. Whatever the experts predict they do the opposite. That has to be good. Spin out the morons.

  175. Paul Burns

    murph,
    Just plain unmitigated greed on the bank’s part. The others will, of course, do the same. And the justification is, as with the tele-bundling exposed on $ Corners the other night will be ‘It’s business.” (Just like the retailers pushing for a GST on goods bought on line. News to borrowers and retailers – its a free-market capitalist economy. You voted for it. Live with it!

  176. Paul Burns

    It’s too early for me to go on line. In a shocking mood. Had a minor disaster. All my notes for Boston January 1776 have disappeared. Turned the house upside down last night looking for them. In a fit of absent-mindedness put them somewhere otherb than their normal place, – a not unfrequent occurence as I do sort of go about with my head in the clouds – So, I have to redo them all. About a week’s work, no more I hope. Started last night and worked through till about 2 am. Maybe with a bit of luck Home Care might find them today, but I doubt it. Have looked everywhere, moved the bed, crawled under tables and desks, searched drawers, looked on top of bookshelves, in the washing machine etc, etc. Very mysterious. Tarot cards no help. or maybe its just too early in the morning for my mind to function properly.

  177. Helen

    Oh, Paul, I’m so sorry.
    This puts my whinge in perspective. My computer is an ancient Mac hand me down with an ancient Mac OS. I upgraded Opera, which failed, and now I have no working Opera. Safari is totally buggy (and I”m not going to upgrade it after what happened with Opera.) Firefox has already told me that it’s not going to play Youtubes for me and besides my OS is too old to upgrade, so nyah.
    I suppose I still could try… Microsoft Exploder?!?… Yes, extreme desperation 🙂
    So no Twitter or Youtube for the foreseeable future. I just hope WordPress keeps working for me. I wish I could afford my own laptop but there is always a higher priority in our household budget.

  178. Paul Burns

    No worries, Helen. My head is adjusting to the delay. Still all the relevant passages in books, print-outs, photocopies of microfilms etc have been clearly marked and dated, so it won’t take anywhere near as long as the initial research. And my spirits have been lifted a)because the home-care woman is here and is tidying up and working round me and se might find the missing cards, you never know; and b) I just got in the mail Charles Patrick Neimeyer’s America goes to War. A Social History of the Continental Army, one of the last of the books I need to start writing the chapters on the siege of Boston. The rest should come in the next week or so.
    Re your poor ancient Mac. Life without Twitter I can handle, but life without You Tube is unthinkable. Do hope you can still blog. Its moments like these one wonders what would happen if the electricity grid collapsed forever. Hope you can get a computer with all the bells and whistles in the near future. Cheers.

  179. Fine

    Paul, my strategy when I can’t find something is to resolutely not look for them. Worked that way for me the other day with favourite necklace, found poking out from under the washing maachine. Hope you find them, though. It must be upsetting.

  180. Helen

    It will appear when you’re hunting for Something Else. The Something Else will in turn not appear until you’re searching for the next thing… This is a Scientific Fact which I’ve tested extensively.

  181. Helen

    …Oh, having had a poke around, I can twitter in Firefox, but not Youtube. Can’t YOutube in anything. Microsoft Exploder beckons!
    Chrome won’t even download. “Sorry, what was that operating system again? Hahahahahaha!”

  182. David Irving (no relation)

    Paul, I’ve often found that loudly accusing someone else of having deliberately stolen or hidden whatever you’re looking for works a treat!

    Of course, it’s not so useful if you live by yourself …

  183. David Irving (no relation)

    Helen, friends don’t let friends install Internet Exploder.

    Don’t do it. You’ll regret it for the rest of your computer’s life.

  184. Paul Burns

    Ditto on Internet Explorer.
    Catch up sems to being going quicker than I thought it would. After all, I’m only looking up stuff for Boston in January 1776. Gone through 3 primary source books already.

  185. Katz

    Helen, try Camino, which is small and self-contained and made for the Mac.

    I’m sure that the old versions of Camino are archived somewhere.

  186. Casey

    There’s this Saint, who the hell is he, the patron saint of lost things. St Anthony is it? Try him. If you find your stuff, call the vatican and let them know so they can make St Anthony a Saint. We only have one saint here and no martyrs. No eyes gauged from sockets or breasts ripped off. What kind of country is this anyway? Where’s the blood?

    Pfft.

  187. Casey

    I’m not really sure where all that came from. I like my Catholic past. Except that when I was little my mother told me I was going to become a nun and she used to tell me those stories as an added incentive. Catherine Wheels, stake burnings, arms ripped off. You know stuff little girls love. Let me say, it didn’t work very well. Anyway, I axed her, how do you become a nun? She said “You get the calling”, I said “How does that happen” She said “A golden light shines on you and God tells you to become a nun”. Anyway needless to say, i didn’t go out in the sun until I was 25.

  188. Paul Burns

    Ah, St. Anthony. I haven’t thought about him in years. His monkish tonsure used to fascinate me. I mixed him up with Friar Tuck – Robin Hood being more appealing to small boys than saints.Though I did rather like the ones that died gruesome deaths. Jeesus! The things they did to our minds. Except that St. Anthony is lean, not fat. And if I remember rightly, carries a bunch of pink flowers.
    St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes, would be more appropriate, but after the way he let down Tony Abbott, I’ve sort of lost faith in him. Still, he’s a good saint for a socialist.

  189. Pavlov's Cat

    St Anthony has not yet found my old watch, the one that I lost nearly a year ago when it was only six months old, and has never yet come to light. I can only assume that, as someone once said of God, ‘He always answers your prayers, but sometimes he says No.’

  190. Pavlov's Cat

    Casey, have you thought about standup, if the academic thing doesn’t work out?

  191. Casey

    You reckon Pav? Most initial encounters I have with people on this blog inevitably end up with them thinking I’m something out of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. Only a few of you actually get me. No, I think I’d draw elite crowds of three and no more. But thank you for getting me. Remember: Sydney – coffee – anytime.

  192. Liam

    have you thought about standup, if the academic thing doesn’t work out

    Alternatively: university administration/management, a happy amalgam of the two.

  193. Brett

    Alternatively: university administration/management, a happy amalgam of the two.

    There are some things you just shouldn’t joke about, Liam.

  194. Fiona Reynolds

    Helen, google “”Fiona Reynolds” university” and email me – I may be able to help.

  195. Paul Norton

    What Brett said.

  196. David Irving (no relation)

    From my brief excursion around uni admin (working as a gopher for an academic whilst finishing off the longest batchelor’s degree in history – I’m sure 28 years from start to finish would be a record – but I digress), I don’t think Liam was joking.

  197. Liam

    Brett, there’s no cheap one-liner like a cheap one-liner that references world-class networked research and learning frameworks.