My Giraffe

[ 9 Dec 03]

When my giraffe intends to sup
He lifts his lofty noggin up
And, depending how he's feeling,
Nibbles at the bedroom ceiling

I would dismiss it with a laugh
But even worse, my daft giraffe
When he feels like having afters
Starts to chew upon the rafters

He doesn't always try this feat
Every time he wants to eat
But it means I have to check
Whenever he extends his neck

He reaches out his lengthy tongue
And licks around and in among
Every cornice, vent and joist
Until the lot of them are moist

His drool has coated every single
Beam and skylight, tile and shingle
Normally, I wouldn't fret
But the entire roof is wet

I thought giraffes ate only leaves!
Not everything above the eaves
My whole damn house will fall in half
Thanks to that insane giraffe

So if you're looking for a pet
And haven't quite decided yet
Take my advice from here on after:
Greet giraffes with hollow laughter.


I Mite be Wrong

[ 1 Nov 03] It's a small victory, but—I like to think—a significant one.

A couple of months ago we had a bunch of friends over for afternoon tea—the easy-catering option that saves on washing up!—and while they were around, I enlisted them in a blind taste-test to establish once and for all whether New Zealand Vegemite tastes different to Australian Vegemite.

Back in April my parents replenished my dwindling supplies with a jar of the Oz stuff. Then Jane's brother visited from Auckland and brought us multiple jars of the Kiwi version. But when I opened one, the Kiwi jars seemed different. Not just because they were made of plastic instead of glass—nothing new there. No, the Vegemite itself was different: glossier; slipperier; stinkier. Not a huge difference; it wasn't like ten years ago, when out of a craving for yeast extract in the Vegemite-free wastelands of England I bought a jar of Sainsbury's own-brand imitation Marmite and forever regretted it. But it was different.

Or was it just me? I had to find out. Half the room didn't want to know, but Shauna, Rhiannon and Gareth all volunteered, and I handed them two pieces of Vegemite on toast each.

Shauny and Rhi, true blue Aussies both, successfully identified the Australian Vegemite. Gareth, a Scot who'd never tasted the stuff, successfully avoided falling to the floor and writhing uncontrollably.

Two significant data points, then, and one near-miss for the stomach-pump. But the statistician in me needed more; a proper test should have at least thirty samples. Yet my Kiwi supply far exceeded my Aussie supply; if I kept doing matched taste tests I would run out of the good stuff. And those tiny imported jars you can now buy in Sainsbury's for £1.50 each wouldn't go far.

Luckily, we were headed back to Oz soon. Once we were down in Tassie, it was time for a special trip to the supermarket to stock up on supplies.

I was a bit disappointed to find none of those 900 gram jars that last even the hardest sandwich-a-day man a whole year. But the 450g jars sported a snazzy 80th anniversary label, which made up in aesthetic appeal what they lacked in catering-friendly volume.

The big surprise was the range of alternatives to Vegemite.

Oh sure, there was Marmite—the original formula imitated and easily surpassed by the Vege variant. There was always a rump of Marmite eaters at school: children of British immigrants unwilling to adapt, just as their forebears had struggled to plant crops according to the southern seasons.

Then there was Promite—I'd forgotten about Promite. The lost mite, known only to a few, who would wander the playground at recess, seeking to swap their provisions for a taste of the one true mite.

I'd heard, too, of entrepreneur Dick Smith's attempts to promote Australian-owned produce over multinationals like Kraft. And here was the result: a jar of patriotic Aussie Mite.

But that wasn't all. Dick had inspired another Aussie-owned-and-made imitator, the mitier-than-thou Mighty Mite. The Aussie consumer is now faced with a choice of five mites, and the mite tester with a budget and weight-allowance blow-out.

The Five Mites

It was tempting to buy all five and perform an elaborate quintuple-blind taste test with a hundred and eighty permutations of mite; but I stuck to the original plan, and bought a single anniversary jar of Vegemite.

Back in Edinburgh, it's taken longer to find thirty mite-tasters than planned. I know only a few other Aussies here, and they've already performed their mites of passage. So I've had to plough on alone, working my way through jar after jar in the name of science.

But there's been a surprise development. The other night, as a bunch of us met up to watch a video, Gareth told us that he's actually developed a taste for Vegemite. He's already halfway through a small jar; he's past the thin-scraping stage and almost at the carve-off-a-slab stage.

And suddenly, the whole Australia versus New Zealand question seems irrelevant. The mission is surely now that of missionaries everywhere: to spread the word of Vegemite beyond antipodean shores, just as we spread Vegemite beyond the edges of the toast and onto uncolonised crackers and crumpets.

They may have brought the might of Empire to our shores, but we have made Britain part of our Empire of Mite. Beauty!


Four Animals

[10 Sep 03]

I. The Snow Leopard

The noble snow leopard
Is sadly in jeopard
'E doesn't have too long to live
He lives in Nepal
On a mountain quite tall
And o, what he gladly would give
For a cosier spot
Than the one that he's got
A place where he could be replete
Where his foes he could flail
With his extra-long tail
And swipe with his over-large feet
But before you can blink
He'll be darn-near extinct
And his family will be bereft
The cheetah and civet
Will feel quite livid
'Cos they'll be the only pards left

II. My Axolotl

I keep my axolotl
In an empty plastic bottle
With a hole cut in its side just for his nose
And when I feel I oughta
I pour in tonic water
And a dash of gin (to calm him, I suppose)
But he only seems to settle
When I play him heavy metal
That's why I always call him Axl Rose
That tiny axolotl
Can play guitar full throttle
And tap 'November Rain' out with his toes
These few perplexing facts'll
Give you some idea of Axl
But what it means, the devil only knows
Head-banging newt or not, I'll
Still keep my axolotl
He gets me seats at all the Gunners' shows

III. Tarantula!

Eight-eyed, hairy legged
Limbs like a werewolf
And fangs like Dracula!
Speed of Ben Johnson
And charm of Scott Bakula!

IV. The Trouble With Sloths

The problem with the three-toed sloth
Is how to know which one of both
The possible pronunciations of
Its name to use: sloth, or sloth?

If you use 'sloth', you'll draw the wrath
Of those who will insist on 'sloth'
While those who prefer 'sloth' are loath
To refer to the three-toed sloth

This is a quandary, sure enough
So I propose we say it 'sloth'.


[25 Aug 03] Those expanding-Europe postcards have made their way to their destinations, and Cap'n Bill of the good ship Wombat File has sent me a couple of snapshots of one of them with its new friends—which he's kindly allowed me to turn into this hypnotic animation. Do I sense an EU advertising contract in the offing? (What the hell is an 'offing', anyway? Sounds like it involves liver.)


Differential Strokes

[ 5 Aug 03] Jane's current biscuit of choice is the Choco Leibniz, a German brand that's basically a slab of dark chocolate with a thin slice of biscuit underneath. As their tagline says, it's More Chocolate Than a Biscuit.

I reckon that tagline is a missed opportunity. Clearly, it should be The Goodness of Calculus—In a Biscuit!

Then they could double up their marketing with Fig Newtons.


So Last Year

[21 Jul 03] When are businesses in the Sydney CBD going to update their postcodes? "Sydney 2000"... "Sydney 2001"... c'mon, guys, get with the programme!


[21 Jul 03] Proof of a vast international beverage-naming conspiracy: in English, coffee contains caffeine, but cocoa doesn't; yet in German, Kaffee contains Koffein, and Kakao doesn't.

I reckon they switched it in the war to confuse spies. "Soothing mug of cacao, old bean? Aha! Gotcha!"


[ 5 Jun 03]

all shoulder and beak
the albatross
sits awkwardly
in chattering crowds

folded wings
waiting for wind
to alight
and embark on
monumental flight

who leaves with him
shall soar for life


Waltzing Messiah

[ 5 Jun 03] If you're in Australia, you heard a couple of weeks ago—or in the UK, a couple of days ago—that an ABC broadcaster has produced an Aussie Bible. Which is all well and beaut, but got me wondering what would happen if the tables were turned, and them bible-readin' types got their hands on some good Aussie verse, in the form of our unofficial nashnial choon.

So wrap yer readin' gear around this.

Once a holy prophet
Camped by an oasis
Under the shade of a date palm tree
And he sang as he watched and
Turned some water into wine
"Who'll come and wander the desert with me?"

Wander the desert
Wander the desert
Who'll come and wander the desert with me
And he sang as he watched and
Turned his water into wine
Who'll come and wander the desert with me

Down came a stray sheep
To drink from the oasis
Up jumped the prophet
Converting him with glee
And he sang as he stuffed its
Head full of holiness
"You'll come and wander the desert with me"

Wander the desert [etc.]

Up came an angry mob
Led by a pharisee
Down came the Romans
"What's the name of that sheep
You've got in your heathen flock?
You'll come and wander the desert with me"

Up jumped the prophet
And sprang onto the crucifix
"You'll never catch me alive!" said he;
And his ghost may be heard
By any sheep who joins his flock
"You'll come and wander the desert with me!"

(Now that I've written it, it seems unnervingly similar to these.)


[ 1 Jun 03]

Beatrix Reloaded

Hunting for parking spots in the Lake District does strange things to a man.

I suppose I shouldn't keep away from the site forever. But that six weeks off sure was welcome, especially when half of it was spent roaming around northern Britain. I'll sling a photo or two up here eventually, but for now I'm still enjoying being detached from the virtual and attached to the real.

(There were a few new things here in May, despite outward appearances. More found stuff, mainly.)


[15 Apr 03] Which reminds me, I never did post my favourite corny joke of last year. Probably trying to cultivate an air of seriousness, or some such nonsense:

What's orange and sounds like a parrot?

[Comments. Answer. Now.]


[15 Apr 03] One happy thing about moving to another country is that the differences in vernacular open up a world of corny jokes that, even though they would sound stale to the average nine-year-old, cause your unprepared foreign brain to short-circuit. So:

What do you call a chicken wearing a shellsuit?

[Answer is in the comments.]


Heart of Glass

[15 Apr 03] A £10m public inquiry into plans for the tallest building in Europe, known as the Shard of Glass, is beginning on Tuesday.BBC News.

For centuries, Londoners have asked themselves one question: how can we prevent the sky from falling? The answer is obvious: scare it away with a bloody big spike. Early attempts using church spires were defeated by the Great Fire of 1666, and Wren's replacements were entirely too round and smooth. The 19th century, however, gave us two important developments: buildings made entirely of glass; and the gothic revival that saw the new Houses of Parliament at Westminster graced with the tower of Big Ben, or 'Ol' Pointy'.

By the late 20th century, after the sky-wrought devastation of the Blitz underlined the need for more protective spiky buildings, Londoners redoubled their efforts. The multi-pronged Millennium Dome held out hope for a new golden age of sharpness, but the effect was undermined by a failure to use jagged glass shards in its construction, and by that crap exhibit about The Body.

But now, as London enters the 21st century, Southwark Council promises a new line of defence against rogue cumulonimbi. Taller than any European or even British landmark, pointier than the Post Office Tower run through a giant steam-powered pencil sharpener, and with room for 660 individual greenhouse allotments, the Shard of Glass will provide new inspiration to London-based Egyptophiles and dagger-wielding psychopaths alike. London Bridge Tower: The Sky's Delimit.


Mars, Blog of War

[ 1 Apr 03] Let's kick some Marji butt!


Native Tongue

[16 Mar 03]

Waitin ferthat
wacker Davo
tuh showup
E's a fuckin
Wotcher waitin
 Medad sez
 Yunno, cozzy's me
Yair, bu'fuck
e's a
 Yair, buddy's only
e's still a fuckin
tool, cock
A wacker'na tool
ain't a
E ain't a pulleryet.
E ain't got nothintuh
pull, azzy?
when e asgot
somefintuh pull,
e'll be a wacker,
a puller
anna toolcock
bu' yorrafuckin


<<whatever posts for 2002

Front · 2002 · Walking West · Dr Komputor · Detail · Found · Rory Central · Textuary · Grinding Noises · Cartoon Lounge · The Stand-Up · The Twisted Bell · Pacific Politics
©2003 Rory Ewins · Est. 1999 · Powered by Movable Type speedysnail