Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Whole Truth and Nothing But

I don't give a fig about what other people think about fitness/getting fit/weight loss, etc.  The cold hard truth is there is only ONE way to effectively 'lose weight', improve fitness, improve health, and so on.  And, ladies and gentlemen, here it is:  YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR HABITS.

Recently I was reading a fitness article in the paper going along the lines of  '...if you want to have a great ab workout here's what you have to do...', with the article continuing along the lines of x amount of situps, x amount of knee raises, and a few other isolation-type exercises.  It made me sick.  The article was accompanied by a photograph of a female sports model, clearly targeting the women's market, with (lo and behold) an advertisement for a slimming drink at the bottom (slight pun intended).  Pathetic.  Cynical.  Negative.  The tactic is this:  show the 'ideal' - unattainable for just about everyone - and then use guilt as a device for consumption/purchase of a particular product.

People, I will give it to you straight, in a way that no corporation wants you to really know about.  I'm not selling anything here, I am not making money out of this.  The only thing I want out of this is your happiness and so a much better world for us all.  No sales pitch required.  This is written in simple and precise language, so at first it may seem a little confusing, but fear not.  Re-read anything that you may have trouble with, and then repetition will clarify.

Here's the ONLY successful way to become more fit, and to become more healthy.  EXERCISE MORE.  EAT BETTER.

That's it.  Two things.  Very simple.


Whether you like it or not, the key to improved fitness (notice how I didn't say 'weight loss' - there's a reason for that, read on) is an increase in daily exercise.  You have to GET MOVING, and in a much more increased capacity to what you would normally do, and you have to GET SWEATY.  That is, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, slightly elevated surface body temperature, and so, an increase in metabolism.  It's called aerobic exercise.  And here's the killer - you have to do it for at least 40 minutes per day.  Minimum.

If you want something extra, you can go on to strength conditioning, which sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is.  As far as getting started, don't worry too much about strength.  Trainers in gyms will tell you that you need to balance aerobic activity with strength conditioning, and technically that is right, but all we are doing here is setting the wheels in motion for improved fitness and well-being, and lifting weights is secondary to simply MOVING AROUND (see 'Self Image, Weight Loss and the Lie of BMI' below).


Exercise, exercise, exercise.  That's the first thing.  Now, eat properly, dickhead.  If one person mentions the word 'diet', I will have them taken out the back and shot.  'Diet' should only ever be used in the context of describing what someone eats, not a system of eating to promote weight loss.  Eat well, every once in a while have a treat.  Eat to be healthy, not to submit to emotional wants.  Too much is written about food as a means to weight loss.  It's all bullshit.  Most of it comes from companies that have a vested interest in the weight loss industry and it's simply lies.  Below is what you have to do EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Cut out all added sugar - that is, don't add sugar to anything.  Coffee, tea, cereals, anything that you would normally chuck a teaspoon of sugar on stop doing it immediately.  Raw sugar, brown sugar, white sugar, anything.  CUT IT OUT IMMEDIATELY.  Sugar is used as a preservative, and a mask for salt flavours.  It's already added to all preserved foods (that is, food in tins).  And another little-known secret is that SUGAR IS A DRUG.  It fucks you up.  You don't want to be a drug addict, do you?  Of course not.

Cut out all added salt - that is, don't add salt to a cooked egg, mashed potatoes, anything that you would normally chuck a pinch of salt on stop doing it immediately.  Cooking salt, sea salt, salt anything.  CUT IT OUT.  Salt is used as a preservative, and a mask for sweet additives.

Eat more fresh fruit, especially in the morning.  This will help kick-start your metabolism and keep it running efficiently throughout the day.  Forget about green tea, wheatgrass, or any of that other New Age bullshit.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING kickstarts your metabolism like water and fruit. Cereals will clog your stomach and bowel and make you feel slow and heavy (read 'unmotivated') when consumed on an empty stomach.  When you wake up, drink water, eat fruit.  Rest your belly for half an hour, then eat some unprocessed cereals, and dairy.  You will notice the difference immediately.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is, you guessed it, selling you something. 

Stop eating sugar-rich foods.  You know exactly what I'm talking about - don't pretend you don't.  The shit that you think makes you feel good - ice cream, cakes, MacDonalds - actually poisons you.  Okay, every once in a while is fine, of course, but eating these things regularly fucks with your metabolism, your bowel, your heart, liver and kidneys, as well as impairs brain function.  Ever eaten a Big Mac and felt like doing a few laps of the pool?  You don't have to answer that.  I know your answer already.  Just don't put that shit in your mouth.


Stop using magazines, the cinema and other media as a template for the ideal body shape.  Firstly, ALL of the people used as the 'ideal' are either freaks, seriously ill, or professional athletes.  Aim to be nothing like these people.  Aim to be the best you can be (to borrow a line from elsewhere).  Secondly, you cannot change the natural shape of your body.  Get used to it.  But do not use it as an excuse to not do the right thing by it.  Exercise, exercise, exercise.  Every day.  (A little tip - even when you go to the gym, and you have a program written for you by some nice hyper-fit young trainer, and they write in 'rest day' between workouts, you must still exercise.  'Rest day' does not mean do nothing.  It means do something different to the regular workout.  Keep moving, in other words.)  Thirdly, exercise.  I know, it's getting boring, but it's the key.  Exercise begets exercise.  Your body starts to really like it, and it will punish you when you don't do it.  Same as with eating right.  Once you cut out the excess sugar and salt from your diet, your tastebuds are retrained to appreciate natural flavours, and your internal organs will love you for it too.  You will crave unnatural sweet and salt flavours less, and when you do indulge the occasional craving you will require less of a hit to sate it.

Absolutely NEVER rely on a graph or chart to show 'where you should be at'.  You are working to feel good.  Nothing more.  One of the side effects of feeling good through exercise and healthy eating is...  You guessed it - you look good too!  The Body Mass Index is an outdated (invented in the 1850s for chrissakes!!!) chart that takes no real-world factors into consideration whatsoever for determining an individual's ideal weight.  It cannot be used for athletes (who nearly always come up as "obese" on the scale), it cannot be used for children (who nearly always come up as "severely underweight").  It is deceptive and more often than not, hopelessly inaccurate.  Forget that shit.  Forget the concept of "weight loss" and accept the concept of "feeling good".  It is difficult, sure, because we have had a constant bombardment of images and advertising campaigns from the 1970's onwards that base their 'science' on corporate productivity and market research, not on what is best for an individual.


Exercise more.

Eat better.

Don't listen to anyone that tells you otherwise - they are selling you something.

Learn to listen to your body.  When you first start to do the right thing your inner voice is small and meek, but  continue to do the right thing and that inner voice becomes strong and encouraging.  Listen.  To.  Your.  Body.

Now stop reading this crap and go for a walk!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pick Me Apart!

One of the fascinating blogs that I have been following for a while now is Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Blog.  This wonderful site is devoted to all things related to music production, and one of the real gems that can be found here - at least on ocassion - are some deconstructed mixes of some classic tunes.  You can find here takes of Mick Jagger's vocals from the Rolling Stones' classic Brown Sugar, never-before-heard (by too many people) outtakes of Beatles sessions, vocal-only parts of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer, and a host of other wonderful, illuminating pieces.  The whole site is like an continuous online Classic Albums trip.  Check it out.

Mr Owsinski, himself an accomplished musician and producer, has inspired me to chuck up my own version of the isolated tracks song.  Here's the link to Sweet Execution, featuring isolated vocals and drums.

This tune came together very quickly, with all of the writing and recording for the 'band' done in an afternoon.  The vocals were all completed in three takes for each part (that is, three attempts at each of the parts for verse, verse double, chorus, chorus double, outro and outro double), excepting the chorus harmony which was done in one take, with the third take of each track being the final version used.  Vocals took around half and hour.

For the vocals sound I used TRacks clipping, the awesome Jack Joseph Puig vocals compression, and TRacks EQ, all recorded with a lovely Rhode SM6 microphone.  The vocals for the chorus were tweaked just a little with Da Tube distortion.  The vocals at the outro were sweetened with just a touch of CSR Hall reverb.

The drum track is a sequence of Addictive Drums samples cut up by moi.

It's possible to hear a little background noise at times, but as this is all done with a bit of DIY, fuck cleaning that shit up!!!

I hope you get something out of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Since I have had a fair amount of sedentary time to myself the last week, and have been quite frustrated by my lack of 'proper' mobility, my angst and boredom have fuelled the creative process.  Blah blah blah - I have written a new little ditty.

You can check out the latest ATTAXAS song here.  It's called Sweet Execution, and it goes something like this...

Don't be afraid of following on twitter @attaxas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Pitfalls of General Anaesthesia

Ok, so I had the operation on Friday.  Today being Tuesday, it's now four days after the procedure and I still don't feel quite right.  Swaying between restlessness and exhaustion, I have acute soreness and tightness on my left (!) side, and I'm fluctuating between states of relaxation and tension.  I feel weird, and it feels like it was the anaesthetic that did it.  It's a very strange sensation seeing the fluid being pushed down through the IV and feeling yourself fall under...  And then wake up.  UFO abductees refer to this as 'missing time', that is, having the sensation or awareness that a period of time has passed, but having no break or 'bump' in consciousness.  This is something I find a little bit scary.  But, it's a little peak into the future, a trial-run of what death will be like, perhaps.  It's that fade to nothing - except later we wake up and remember the before.

Here are a couple of little images from the day of the operation.
Not long after waking, kids going nuts in the room, and I feel very strange...

Before the clean-up and redressing.

The surgeon assisting assured me beforehand that they would be mindful of the ink!

By the way, the hospital that I stayed at, Cabrini Brighton, was awesome.  Thank you to the excellent staff.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Operation Forty Fixit

Today is the day of my surgery.  Right elbow arthroscope to remove floating masses and exploratory surgery to  remove a mass of something in my left wrist.  Something of a 40th birthday present to myself.  I am not in the least bit nervous, just very excited about having had some pesky problems resolved, and really looking forward to being able to concentrate on getting my body back on track for some serious training.  Last night was pretty rough, however, as our rotten beautiful 19 month old son was very restless, and after a couple of failed attempts to settle him in his cot my wife brought him in to bed with us at christ o'clock.  Usually works a treat, but for some reason he was like a cut snake in a sack - my back and balls must've had targets drawn on as they were l'objectif principal militaire of his petit pieds!  (Just as I am writing this the little swine has come running out of the bedroom and given me a huge hug and a gorgeous smile - I will not fall for this type of emotional blackmail!)

Behold, the back- and ball-kicker extraordinaire.

 Oh yeah, I turned 40 last week!  Had a blast too!  My mum came down from Canberra for a couple of weeks to participate in the celebrations, and also to take the time to hang out with her grandkids that she doesn't see enough - and so that my wife and I could have the chance to party together (rather than the tag-team socialising that is the norm these days).  Last Wednesday, on the day of my birthday, the family went out for a delicious feast of Korean food.  Then, on the Friday, it was grown-ups only at the pub for a session of celebratory drinking/feasting/catch-ups.  My better half looked stunning - how good is it to hang out together?  I've pretty much forgotten what it's like...  Wonderful to see so many friends that I haven't seen in a while - and I was totally surprised and flattered at the present that people pitched-in for, too!  Thanks!  (As is always the way, there were too many people that I didn't get a chance to speak to - my apologies, it was not intentional.)  Saturday, and it was a special time for my wife and I to hang out, just the two of us, booked in to one of Melbourne's best restaurants (Ginger Boy), and a night in one of Melbourne's best hotels (The Adelphi).  Lucky me!  I spent time in the company of a beautiful woman, indulged in some fine wine, fine food, and had a king-sized bed to flop in to - heaven!

And now? Back to life, back to reality...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Example of Selling Out

...And here it is - I am now on Twitter.  Last week someone suggested to me that I open an account with this social networking scourge, and my first thought was, "You've got to be kidding me!"  And browsing through some other people's twitterings I really have to wonder what all the fuss is about.  Inane, mindless and pretty damned boring.  And then I realised - I can do that!  So, dear reader, if you want to follow me on my Life's journey, partaking from time to time in my conceited and misguided philosophy, then come over to:


I can't promise that it will be good.  Well, okay, yeah, I will.  This is going to be GREAT!!!

It has been difficult finding the proper headspace for my writing lately.  I have been tinkering with my novel, Dust, only on a couple of ocassions the last few months, putting it well behind schedule.  Music has also been put on hold as I yet again wrestle with demons - once past this type of Muse-sparring I find that creativity can gush, it's just about getting through it...  So there's no point in promoting my Wordpress site, TheCleanSlate, because there just aint anything new up...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


How could I not include a Star Wars reference/piece of wisdom?

And my tribute to LRH and B-grade sci-fi...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Short Interlude...

I have found a wonderful little program on the internet that allows one to custom design church signs.  I have been having a whole lot of fun with this brilliant application!  Below are a few modest examples of my attempt at humour.

There are a couple that are a little more cryptic than the others, so comments are encouraged...


You can make your own signs here, just make sure that they aren't funnier than mine.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

We've all got our 9/11 stories.  To me, it's this generation's equivalent of a JFK moment - I remember so much of that night and morning (Australian time), waiting for news of my sister-in-law who was in New York that day, watching it all unfold on live tv like some kind of sick Dantean reality show.  Like so many other people around the globe I was, of course, filled with terror and rage about the act itself, but I was also deeply affected by what the attacks meant in terms of the potential US (and by obsequious proxy, the Australian) response.  I remember saying to my wife just after the second plane hit, "Everything is different now.  This is going to be an excuse for a lot of change to how we live."  I do not qualify as a prophet for simply stating the bleeding obvious.

One event that sticks in my mind from the day is the footage of George W. Bush at the kindergarten.  Booker Elementary School.  Before I continue, let me say this:  I am certainly no Bush apologist.  As far as presidents go, I consider him to be about as inept and loathsome as they come.  That is why I feel so angry about being made to feel so sorry for the man.  And the reason is:  Andrew Card.  At the time of the air attacks on New York and Washington he was the White House Chief of Staff, the President's number one man on all things to do with the organisation and running of day-to-day presidential operations.  That guy was the prick that came out and whispered in the C-in-C's ear that yes indeed, a second plane had hit the WTC, and that now the  South Tower was ablaze, and that it was indeed looking like a deliberate attack on the US.  And then he walked away.  That fucker just left his boss hanging, in shock, with his ass blowing in the wind.

Andrew Card.  Fuckwit.
This week I saw the documentary Remembering 9/11, an excellent account of the day's events with interviews with such people as Barbara Bush, the most evil Dick Cheney, the revolting Don Rumsfeld (who was at the Pentagon and personally assisted in helping some of the casualties after the building was hit by AA Flight 77), the most excellent Rudy Giulinani, and other military and civil personnel directly involved with the events of the day.  And there was an interview with the illustrious Mr Card.  He explained that he retreated from Mr Bush after giving him the news so that he had time to digest the information, that he could come up with a response.  In front of the news cameras of the world and a classroom full of Booker Elementary five year olds (and, I must add, a very lovely and understanding teacher).  You can see by the look in Bush's face as he nods along to the rhythm of the story the kids are being read that he is shocked beyond compare.  At the very time when his staffers should have said, "Sir, there's a situation.  You must come with us now," the president of the United States is abandoned.  In front of a room full of kids and news cameras, for chissakes!!!  It was this scene that demonstrated not just to me, but to the world, the United States had no real idea what was going on and had no idea how to react to such an immediate and lethal threat.  And Andrew Card...  Jesus, what a dickhead.  Bush should have fired him on the spot once he was taken from the classroom and into a back room for updates.  I have read some unfortunate and pathetic conspiracy reports about prior knowlege of the attacks, and I will not flatter such rubbish with recounting their poison and stupidity here - what is certain about the day is that Andrew Card fucked up big time, and it amazes me that the man was in the job (a job that he was clearly woefully inadequate for and inept at) a further five years after the attacks!  A further damning testament, perhaps, of Bush's flawed government.

Regardless of Card's inhuman stupidity, regardless of the subsequent errors made in policy and action by the Bush administration, we remember those that died for no good reason, nearly three thousand people from ninety different nations, and we must pause to honour their memory and mourn for a future that is now darker without them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Recovery, and Other Thoughts

I have just completed my week-long karate workshop, conducted by Masafumi Shiomitsu-sensei.  'Intensive' doesn't quite describe the experience, neither does 'illuminating', but it was certainly at the very least a combination of both.  To see a master - and a relatively (forgive me, Sensei!) old one at that - execute movement and technique with such elegance is a wonder and inspiration, and, considering the recent path my own martial arts studies have taken me of late it is a great way to press the metaphorical reset button and gain a good deal of renewed enthusiasm.

I take stock of my body, a kind of injury audit:

Knees - very sore after day 3, patella tendons giving me a little grief, but overall they lasted very well.  The main issue is the sharp pain I get from floating cartilage or scar tissue or whatever the hell that's making them hurt.  (This is my next restorative project once I've attended to my elbow)  It was bearable.  6/10

Elbows, esp. right elbow - well, they lasted and survived.  Half-way through day 2, during pairwork involving locking and throwing, I realised why the right elbow has been such a problem for me over the last couple of years - the orthodox attack involves striking with the right fist, therefore the 'receiver' (who in theory 'wins' in the exercise) locks and throws that side.  Ouch!  The effects of the cortisone had pretty much worn off the week before the workshop, so I didn't really get any true benefit from the injection.  By day 6, after three hour sessions every day, the right elbow was feeling pretty ordinary.  3/10

Back, esp. herniated discs at L5 & S1 -  actually went very well.  Every morning was difficult getting out of bed, and the first few steps were painful at the site, accompanied by the referred pain down the legs - but once I had warmed up and moved around a bit it was as good as it can be.  The additional movement and stretching, with some good recovery exercises like swimming and walking, made a HUGE difference.  And having the time off from work was also a massive bonus.  There was no restriction in movement for training itself, and I was very happy with the range of my technique, especially with mae geri (front kick), mawashi geri (roundhouse kick), sokuto (side kick) and gyaku zuki (reverse punch), which are each quite demanding in regards to hip movement and generating torque and energy.  6/10

Soft tissue - no injuries.  Right hamstring was tight at times, and I had the occasional twinge in my right shoulder (very high up the biceps brachii, and back of the deltoideus), but no tears or strains.  Very happy.  8/10

The author with Shiomitsu-sensei, 9th dan hanshi.
Diet - I made a conscious decision to be very aware of my diet in the weeks leading up to and during the seminar.  I have a terrific diet anyway, but I was mindful of stepping up the fruit and water intake during the day, having lots of carbohydrates, especially late morning to early afternoon, and making sure that I had only small high-protein meals at night when I came home (usually around 22.30ish).  I managed to keep the flu bugs away that had been plagueing the family for the last several weeks (I did have about a 12 hour gastro bout on day 1 of the seminar, but recovered quickly and only missed the first session), and now, three days after the workshop (and having just returned home from a massage treatment) I feel great!

This year has seen me officially cease studying under one instructor and begin training with another school.  This is a pretty big deal within the world of Japanese budo.  Generally one doesn't do this kind of thing without there being serious consequences, ie. expulsion from the school.  Budo does not allow for the chopping and changing of instructors - when one commences study, in the traditional sense, one stays with their instructor for life.  That's just how it is.  Or rather, how it used to be.  Circumstances forced my hand in my case.  I suppose in that traditional context I am a bad student. Without going into the details, I felt that it was no longer possible to continue training under my previous (chief) instructor.  My usual instructor understood and had no problem with my decision whatsoever, which I greatly appreciated.  The difficulty came in transferring to another school, where (Shiomitsu-sensei aside) the standard of training, instruction and understanding is quite different, there is a distinct lack of etiquette in the dojo, and training is geared more towards a curriculum involving tournament events than the pure study of the art.  I understand completely the reasons for this - my new dojo is a larger, more commercial operation with a genuine focus on training for kids, and kids need that constant carrot of the next tournament, the next grading.  I, however, have never been interested in such stuff.  Having said that, I greatly respect the new club, and at the Shiomitsu seminar I witnessed a genuine interest in, dedication to, and love of the art of Wado.

The other thing that I have had to deal with has been a demotion of rank.   At my previous club I was a shodan for 8 years, and just prior to my leaving I had been informed that this year would see my grading for nidan, or second level black belt.  However, I had never received a certificate of grading for my first black belt, and the grading itself is not recognized by either Wado International Karate Federation (WIKF) or the Japan Karate Federation (JKF).  When I trained (all too briefly) in Japan in 2005 I was told that my dan grade was referred to as a 'dojo-dan', as opposed to an authenticated and official grading.  I felt a bit miffed by this at the time, although now, of course, I understand exactly where the Japanese comment was coming from.  Regardless, no one can take away the training I have done.  As there is no official record of my grading at either WIKF or JKF headquarters, and having been looked at by the instructors at my new dojo, they have allowed me to begin my training as a 1st kyu, to undergo grading for shodan in Wado-Ryu Karate-Do next year.  So, I am now a brown belt.  Again.  But no matter, I would be training anyway, and at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.  I am confident in my technique, and feel that I am coming to a better understanding of the art.  More study.  More training.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Monday, July 25, 2011

I Must Be Gettin' Old

Just came back from 'my orthopaedic surgeon' with an elbow full of cortisone.  The anaesthetic has worn off and the bastard is sore as a, well, shiiiiiitt!  Ouch!

You see, I seem to be getting old(er) - 39 years of age (40 in October) and at the moment my sciatica is drving me insane, my knee feels like it could collapse at the drop of a hat, and my right elbow has a neat little swarm of fragments floating around inside the thing that up until about an hour ago were making me feel like freakin' Methusela, but now makes me almost want to chop the thing off from the throbbing-ness of it all.  And not in a good way.  The thobbing-ness, I mean.  Anyway.

Most it, I guess, has to do with the fact that I have been studying and practising karate the last 13 years and it seems to be catch me up.  But you gotta do something, right?  It keeps me off the streets.  Eh.

When I was a wee tacker I played a lot of basketball.  Like, a lot.  Always rolled my ankles, always found new and improved methods of taping them, so that I could play on through the injury.  Coz if you can't play you don't get picked in good teams and you don't keep your spot on the good team once you're there.  You know how it is.  Then after basketball I found music.  Rock and roll, or something.  That was my sport for 20 years.  Gigging, getting drunk and high, and totally thrashing the fuck out of my body.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't getting drunk and high all the time, but I was young and having fun and living and learning a little.  But generally playing it pretty safe.  Look at me, I'm raving.  ANYWAY.  I found karate.  Wado Kokusai Karate-do Renmei, to be precise.  Got it like others get religion.  And I have been plugging away ever since.  And my body is sore and tired and my sciatica is...  We've been there.

Look, the trick is to keep moving.  Regardless of your poison.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giving Up On Music

I have had a bit of a tough time of late.  I feel totally artistically bankrupt, and so a little apathetic and pathetic.  I decided to pretty much chuck music in as I am fucking tired of writing shit that no one listens to, or has any interest in listening to.  So I wrote a song about it!

(I had the house to myself yesterday as the kids and the lady wife were out for the afternoon...)

It's up on Myspace.

"It Poisons Everything".  The title is inspired by the subtitle of Christopher Hitchens' magnificent book God Is Not Great, which I am reading for the fourth time at the moment.  Instrumental only, the vocals will be attacked sometime in the next couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Macquarie Dictionary states the definition of 'plagiarism' as thus:

n.  the appropriation or imitation of another's ideas and manner of expressing them, as in art, literature, etc., to be passed off as one's own.

You know who you are.

Enough said.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Just A Matter Of Opinion.

Today, at my shit job (populated, nonetheless, by some very interesting and amusing cogs-in-the-wheel/co-workers) I was roundly criticised for being a fan of Paul Verhoeven's brilliant and hilarious film Starship Troopers.  For those that aren't in 'The Know', this film is a total freakin' classic - I mean, for chrissakes, Doogie Howser is in the movie all kitted up in Gestapo-style leather trench coat (a psi-ops specialist already!), and Dina Meyer plays the ultimate in kick-ass female action heroes.  AND it's sci-fi!  What more could anyone possibly want?  Well?  Huh?

And yes, I am a MASSIVE Star Wars fan, too.  I am more than happy to debate the political, social, religious and philosphical symbolism that drives George Lucas' saga with anyone, anytime.  Yes, there are flaws that almost ruin it all, but isn't that part of the charm?  Just as an example, I remember after Episode I:  The Phantom Menace came out an acquaintance of mine criticised Lucas for being a racist for his portrayal of the Gungans as a parody of American attitudes towards Jamaicans, the Neimoidians being a parody of American attitudes towards Asians, and the junkyard dealer Watto being a parody of American attitudes towards Jews.  Maybe he was right.  But then again, maybe he was a boring stoner 2nd year film student who could spend hours extemporizing on Jean Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, and the effect of New Wave on New Hollywood? Yeah?  And?  So?  What?  It's a parody, dickhead.  Lighten the fuck up.  It's social commentary, played in the medium of film, masked within the genre of science fiction, spiced with the subtle flavours of caricature.  Get the fuck over it.  And shut the fuck up with your pathetic undergraduate self-righteousness.  It's a MOVIE.  Why not the criticism of Ursula Le Guin's utterly brilliant The Dispossessed?  Or Margaret Atwood's sublime The Handmaiden's Tale?  Hmmm?  Yeah, thought so.

I read this book when I was 12 years old and it changed my life.  It should be compulsory reading in high school.
Dina Meyer in Starship Troopers.  Appparently Denise Richards was in the movie too.
Despite what some people may think, I do not believe that Star Wars is the greatest movie ever made.  That honour, of course, belongs to The Empire Strikes Back.
Futuristic Gestapo Doogie Howser.  I think it's wonderful that he is gay in real life.  Shit man, life is just too funny!!! 
Thematically complex.  Superbly realised.  This film is the bomb.  Oh, and Paul Verhoeven also made a couple of other little movies like Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Robocop.
I once heard this book described as 'Feminist Science Fiction'.  Bollocks.  It's fucking awesome.  Period.  As in 'The End', not as in 'menstruation'.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Death Of Osama bin Laden

I can only imagine that the journalists at the The Age are livid that they were forced to report on the covert (and effective) operations conducted by staff from The Herald Sun...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mystery, Sure

I have added another song to my ATTAXAS myspace site.  It's kind of a jazzy thing that I began as a response to the death of a friend last year.  Been sitting on it for a while, but was having an issue or two with a decent enough vocal line/melody.  I am pretty happy with the end result, and in the mix you can hear the odd bit of extra breath before a line which I have deliberately kept in - it kind of makes it sound a little more live, or real.  You can check it out here at the ATTAXAS myspace site.  Hope you like it.

A warning:  I have discovered that Myspace won't play a song in it's entirety unless you are logged on as a user, so if you do have a Myspace account, make sure you are logged in so you can hear the whole song.  (I think the first 30 seconds or so of the tune is the double bass intro!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Splendour & Squalor

Had to stop, Jason, sorry.  Half-way through and it just gets more and more depressing...

I have moved on to Helen Garner's far more uplifting and entertaining Joe Cinque's Consolation.  A joke, by the way.  As in, not uplifting at all.  Ah sheesh...

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Having finally finished Don Watson's marvellous Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, I have moved on to John Baxter's insightful and funny Stanley Kubrick:  A Biography.  The Year of the Biography is going well, though I have been tempted by some friends to get back on the crime fiction and scifi bandwagon.  So far, I stand firm...
Brilliant, if a little long, Don Watson's book is well worth the read - especially if you are a fan of the good old days when parliamentarians could string a sentence together...

There are two quotes attributed to Kubrick that I have always loved, and that have made me interested in the character of the film maker.  The first, 
 "Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all,"
is so very obvious, and in a sense, zen, that it's kind of like the old parable of the priest and the acolyte discussing the nature of reality.  The acolyte, attempting to come to grips with this, says to his teacher, "At last!  I understand!  There IS no reality!"  The priest, disgusted with his student's attempt at existentialism, slaps the young man hard in the face and says, "Then there is no pain!"  It's kind of like a "duh!" moment, which is really what (as far as I can gather, anyway) what zen is all about.  The second quote is one that characterises my own reckless and impulsive motto for living:
Brilliant, eccentric, and (unfortunately) gone.
" If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered." (Bold added.)  
That is, you better be careful when talking bullshit.  Ha ha!
These insights, and his films (obviously) make him a fascinating character, and his works The Shining and Full Metal Jacket are amongst my favourites.  As crazy as these auteurs usually are, or at least seem, they add to the wealth of human culture, and their value is incalculable.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New ATTAXAS Song on Myspace

There is a new song up on my ATTAXAS site, the final version of "In The Trees".  I have previously posted two other versions for your critical and listening pleasure - the original demo version, then the basic instrumental version, to show how the idea has developed, and my general take on song evolution.

Check out ATTAXAS

Comments and abuse are most welcome.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Having Fun & Working (All At The Same Time)

Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria.  Lovely man.
This week I have had the real pleasure of interviewing some shining lights in the metal/hard rock biz.  On Wednesday I spoke to Brock Lindow from 36 Crazy Fists, a long-time favourite band of mine.  Thursday I met with Dez Fafara from the very mighty, very scary and very heavy Devildriver.  And today I spent an all-too-short 25 minutes chatting with Claudio Sanchez from Coheed And Cambria, a band whose music I have fallen completely in love with.  These gentlemen will be the focus for my article on the Soundwave sideshows for the premier issue of

Dez Fafara from Devildriver.  Scary tatts, but heart of freakin' gold..
I have to say that Brock is indeed the ultimate Alaskan - a mountain of a man, pretty much like a gentle bear, if there was such a thing.  Dez is very LA, but utterly cool, switched-on and very relaxed.  He has a wicked sense of humour and disproves the myths that Americans are unable to 'get' irony, and are unable to poke fun at themselves (in fact all three of my 'interviewees' proved this).  Claudio is gentle and quite shy, very committed to his art, sincere, but also quick to laugh and share a joke.   His fingernails are exactly like mine.

I would suggest to check out these guys' music.  If you love it heavy and hard, Devildriver will suit.  If you like it technical and clever, with playing that will shred your ears, then 36 Crazy Fists will do it for you.  If you are partial to a bit of crazy prog, but love the classics, then Coheed And Cambria are your team.

Brock Lindow, centre.  Like a huge metal Seth Rogan.  But funny.
Stay tuned to the newsstands. comes out the end of the month.  I can only hope that my writing will be decent enough to properly show how such charming, witty and highly intelligent characters inhabit the modern heavy metal movement.

Coheed And Cambria - official homepage
Devildriver - official hompage
36 Crazy Fists - official Myspace site

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Paying Gig

Yours truly, caught in the rapture at Cherry Rock 2008.
It seems that you can fool some of the people some of the time!  I have scored myself a writing gig, working for a new music magazine called  Here's a link to the official website

I am excited as hell!  The mag looks beautiful, printed in a large format, there's lots of pretty damned amazing looking photography, and I have been hired (can I say 'headhunted'?) to help provide some hard-hitting insight and honest-to-god 'tude about the music industry.  Well they bloody well came to the right man for that job! hits the newsstands and bookstores 27th March.

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Nod, Or Not To Nod.

When my father first started teaching me how to drive, I was about 12 or 13  years of age, the car of choice was a 1964 Valiant AP5.  You may know the car.  Simple lines, Chrysler 3.6L 225 slant-6 engine, automatic with push button gears - looking back I think of this car as being a total classic.  At the time, I was both thrilled to be driving and mortified that it was in such a bomb.  My father continued his love affair with what he called the 'Marrickville Mercedes'.  Once that old Val had been run into the ground he acquired a marvelous VE, which I loved, and after that one had gone to God a terrific VF coupe, never paying more than a few hundred dollars for the old things.  They would seem to go forever, be very cheap to run, they just didn't know how to die.  Then as I came of age to own and drive myself I purchased a 1966 VC (my all-time favourite) and then later on a 1964 AP5.  All lovely, distinguished and classy cars, if a little rusted, tired and worn.  This was all in the 80's and early 90's mind you, well before the old Chrysler Valiant brand had anything like esteem or respect or even a hint of coolness.  Now, of course, it's a different story.  They, like the old Holden and Ford marques of the 1960's, are the ubercool of the inner-city set.  I see lots of hot little Fitzroy chicks (who weren't even born in the 80's, when I would be laughed at and mocked by the Torana-driving, flanny-wearing Westies in North Canberra) floating around on the soft suspension of VCs.  I see many trendy Northcote boys cruising around the inner-North in their exquisitely and faithfully restored S Series, frequenting drive-thru bottle shops and choking up Brunswick Street with their low-octane fumes.  It is more than ironic that so many of these old beauties sport Greens Party bumper stickers!  But I digress.  The point to all this is despite the brand being hijacked by these 21st Century urban trendies, despite the fact that my first auto love is now the plaything and objet d'ego of arts students, new-age wannabe Trotskyists and pro bono Collingwood solicitors, they all have one thing in common with the time when I was driving the wide avenues and endless roundabouts of my youth - as one Valiant driver passes another they wave to each other.

Valiant drivers are special.  They share a common bond.  There is a special link between each driver that no other car owner can truly understand, that other drivers may only aspire to, if you will.  The wave is a part of the Valiant driving experience.  Whether the wave is a signal of shared pleasure (or pain), or just a cursory gesture of acknowledgement, it is, as much as I can gather, unique amongst car drivers.  And so I come to the crux of this article:  The Wave, or it's equivalent amongst motorcycle riders, who also share a special and common bond - The Nod.

Motorcycle riders are a breed unto themselves.  Most people regard them as reckless at best, insane at their worst.  A friend of mine (who, incidently, was killed in a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago) always used to describe motorcyclists as 'temporary citizens' (you see the sad irony).  I like to call (most of them) 'tourists' (from the idea that they are here on this Earth just briefly, for a visit).  Now I too am a rider, a motorcycling commuter - I have already been described as a temporary citizen by a friend, despite the fact that I ride like a grandma.  Since spending a good deal of time on the road on my bike I have noticed the Valiant-analogue Wave occur amongst motorcycle riders, except of course waving whilst riding is quite dangerous and would look totally naff to boot.

So - The Nod.  Unlike the Valiant Wave, The Nod is a much more difficult thing to pin down.  Not every rider will do the Nod to another.  I have noticed that there is a Nod Hierarchy amongst riders.  For example, no self-respecting motobike rider will Nod to a scooter rider (perhaps the scooter riders Nod to each other?).  No one who rides either a sports bike or a naked will Nod to a Harley or Harley-wannabe (think Yamaha Virago or Honda Shadow) rider.  People who ride tourers don't tend to Nod much to anyone.  And the Harley riders themselves are best left alone, whether they be the professional, enthusiastically hirsute Harley folk (or of the conspicuously bald kind), or just the weekend-riding, rich-boy try-hards.

I ride a 2005 Honda CB900F Hornet, a big naked bike with a sports pedigree (see article below for a wee little peek).  As far as The Nod is concerned, I feel pretty much caught in the middle.  If I see any other rider (with the exception, of course, of a scooter commuter) passing on the other side of the road I will pretty much always give it, and I do feel slighted when it is not reciprocated.  Yesterday I passed some racing leathers-clad dude on a big Kawasaki sports bike, who was screaming up High Street Road in Glen Iris at 60 kph in second gear, gave him The Nod, and got no reaction whatsoever.  What a tosser.  There is no doubt he saw me give it.  There is no possibility he missed it.  I gave him the signal of recognition, the subtle hail of rider to rider, and the prick left me hanging!  And so I got to thinking about the unwritten Nod etiquette of riders.

Behold, the unwritten now written.

Nod Etiquette

  • For the sake of camaraderie, fraternity and kinship, all riders may Nod to each other, regardless of make, style or size of machine.
  • Scooter riders are the exception to the above.  If one receives a Nod from a scooter rider one is allowed to either give a very slight Nod in return (think neck twitch, allowing a slight dipping of the helmet), or one may simply ignore said Nod.
  • The Nod itself can be a proper full Nod, a forward dip (see above), or a side twitch (think of the movement a dog makes when it is either confused, or just been shown a card trick, or the movement ones makes when winking and making that clicking sound at the back of the mouth).
  • Hand signals, or waves, are forbidden.
  • No rider should acknowledge a rider (or group of riders) of Harley Davidson motorcycles.
  • If one is Nodded at by a rider of an HD motorcycle, one is encouraged to Nod back in a non-threatening/inoffensive manner.  Immediately afterwards maintain the eyes-front position.
  • It is optional to give The Nod to anyone riding a Harley analogue, as these riders are little more than glorified scooter riders (just get a real one!)
  • If one gives The Nod and receives no Nod in return, ride on.  Remember - hand signals and gestures are forbidden.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm A Mechanic! Sort of...

Yesterday was a great day in the life of Koops.  I did a chain adjustment and full chain clean on my CB900F - all by myself!  Now I know what you motorcycle rev-heads are all thinking - "Pah, I can do that stuff in my sleep," but this was an important event for me, having never attempted any mechanical feat on my machine (even when I installed frame sliders most of the work was done by a more experienced friend).  Hey - I gotta start somewhere, right?  So I got to use my new tool kit, got my camo coveralls on and dirty, and got stuck in!  It took about an hour (the chain clean was the most time-consuming task, using kerosene, tooth brush and rag), but I managed to reattach the one-piece chain and mud guard, the left-side pedal and gearshift thingy, and re-tighten the axle, take it on a test ride, and not get killed!  It worked!

So, to the motorcycle mechanic who took a look at my chain and said that it was "rooted", and needed to be replaced, along with the sprockets (at a cost of $470), I say "Fiddlesticks to you, dickhead."  After the adjustment, clean and lube, the chain has re-straightened (no kinks or stiffness) and the sprockets (upon detailed inspection by moi) are perfectly fine.  Having spent $220 at Bunnings (Oh!  What wonderful retail therapy that is!) for the required tools, I have saved myself $250 and spared myself the humiliation of being ripped-off by a smart-arse mechanic who saw only inexperience, but no intelligence.

Footnote:  My Bunnings adventure included the purchase of a wonderful Stanley socket wrench set ($110), a Stanley screwdriver set ($30) and a torque wrench ($80).  I wouldn't usually mention the name of the store in the blog (just as I won't mention the name of the motorcycle mechanic whose advice and expertise I will not seek again), but a trip to this wonderful hardware shop is always an exciting adventure, it really makes me feel like a kid!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Compression Tights Are Sexy

Last night at indoor football I was asked by a fellow player what the hell was I doing wearing Skins when it was so damned hot?  Well, I said, it was probably because they feel so damned sexy!  He looked at me like I had just declared my homosexuality in a locker room full of naked men, which is funny, because I was in a locker room full of naked men!  (But, I might add,  I am most definitely NOT gay - not there is anything wrong with that - sorry boys!)  The compression tights available for all sporting endeavours are sold on the premise that they reduce muscle wobble in exercise, reduce micro-bleeding in and around muscle fibres, thus lessening the likelihood of soft-tissue injury, but the main reason why I wear them is three-fold:  1.  As I am getting older I am looking for any kind of advantage in preventing soreness and injury.  2.  They look fucking sexy.  3.  They feel fucking sexy.

So there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year's Dedication

I have deliberately avoided the word "resolution" in this entry's title, lest I succumb (like those recalcitrant and sham nations the world over who do so to the decisive declarations passed by the United Nations - think Ba'athist Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Israel as a start...) to not taking it seriously at all.

The beginning of a new year is symbolic of life's cycles, significant only, of course, to those who decide it is, but allows us - at least the people that follow the Gregorian calendar - an opportunity to pause, analyse, reassess and then make provision for the coming twelve months. I choose to do so thus:

  • I refuse to allow my fucking back with it's two herniated discs to dictate to me what I can and can't do.  I will not bow to the false god Sciatica.
  • I have determined that 2011 is the Year of the Memoir.  Therefore, this year I will read no work of fiction other than that manufactured (as deliberate deception or otherwise) by auto- or biography.   I have begun with Christopher Hitchens' Hitch-22, and am now on Don Watson's Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.  There are some that I will revisit, namely Karen de Young's excellent biography of Colin Powell, Soldier:  The Life of Colin Powell, and Ghandi's The Story of My Experiments With Truth.  There are others that are on my list, like Bill Clinton's autobiography (surprising that it is simply titled My Life), Keith Richards' ghostwritten tome, Life, and, heaven help me, John Howard's intimidating and impudently titled Lazarus Rising and George W Bush's Decision Points (goddammit, he's done it again - what the fuck is a 'decision point'?).  Any other suggestions are appreciated, but I would ask you to refrain from suggesting anything like the fraudulent Pentateuch or any other such religious fabrications - and the Forum section in Penthouse magazine, as tantalizing and provocative that it may be, doesn't qualify either!
That's it.  Just the two things.  Should be easy enough, eh?  I have spared myself the more predictable "I'm going to do X amount of charity work this year" and "I'm going to swear less" and "I'm going to have more sex" and "I'm going to be a better father" and so on.  These are the kinds of  throw-away and churlish resolutions that I feel cheapen the endeavour of bettering oneself.  One should be doing that kind of thing anyway, without having to declare it - the racist, stereotypical, Judean view of the Philistines of the New Testament come to mind (pardon the religious metaphor).

So now it's January 13th, let's get on with it!