Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aussie August: Australian Football

Continuing with Aussie August with guest blogger, poet Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke. Leave a comment to be placed in a drawing for a chance to win FREE stuff!

First played in Melbourne in the 1850s, and long known as “Aussie Rules” or “footy”, it used to be in the DNA of every boy growing up in the traditional football states: Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. The heathens in New South Wales, epitomised by that Gomorrah Sydney, played rugby league as their winter sport, and were despised by all Victorian kids, and adults too. We were the true believers.

Let us begin with the formation of the Victorian Football League, or VFL, in 1896. The winner of the League each year won the Premiership flag, yes, it was a real flag, and still to this day is, known as “the flag”, by winning the final play-off game of the finals series. That game is known as the Grand Final.

But the aspect of footy I wish to highlight, and in this day and age it’s politically incorrect to do so, is its brutality. Truly, American readers, the NFL is for wimps. Our gladiators don’t bother themselves with padding, or helmets, they just go for it until the blood begins to flow.

Yes, as all footy fans know, over the years there have been many breathtakingly skilful, graceful players. Such as the St Kilda 1966 Premiership captain Darrel Baldock, or “The Doc”, who bemused opposition teams with his blind turns (an especially graceful manoeuvre, a sort of pirouette, sadly not seen much in the modern game).

But it is the enforcers, the tough guys who were in the team to bash the opposition to bits, who made Aussie rules what it is. Notable among them were the Carlton Football Club legend Bob Chitty, whose mother was so afraid of him even as a baby she put barbed wire around his cot.

Chitty played in “The Bloodbath”, the notorious 1945 Grand Final played in the rain-lashed mud between Carlton and South Melbourne in front of 62,986 fans baying for blood.

The next passage of this post is not for the squeamish.

Here is the official charge sheet for the game:
Ten players were reported for a total of sixteen offences:
• Ted Whitfield (South Melbourne): Charged with using abusive language to goal umpire Whyte, attempting to strike field umpire Frank Spokes, kicking the ball away after a free kick was given against him, and attempting to conceal his guernsey so the goal umpire could not report him. Suspended for 21 matches.

• Jack “Basher” Williams (South Melbourne): Charged with using abusive language to Carlton's Rod McLean and goal umpire Whyte, and adopting a fighting attitude to goal umpire Whyte. Suspended for 12 matches.

• Bob Chitty (Carlton): Charged with elbowing Billy Williams (South Melbourne). Suspended for 8 matches.

• Don Grossman (South Melbourne): Charged with striking Jim Mooring (Carlton). Suspended for 8 matches.

• Ron Savage (Carlton): Charged with striking Don Grossman (South Melbourne) in retaliation for Grossman having king-hit teammate Mooring. Suspended for 8 matches.

• “Gentleman” Jim Cleary (South Melbourne): Charged with striking Ken Hands (Carlton) after a mark, and attempting to strike Bob Chitty. Found not guilty on attempted striking charge; still suspended for 8 matches.

• Fred Fitzgibbon (Carlton): Charged with one count of melee involvement; despite serving a four-match suspension from the preliminary final for having king-hit Collingwood forward Len Hustler, he ran onto the field during a final quarter brawl and fought with Ted Whitfield before being ejected from the arena. Suspended for an additional four matches.

• Herbie Matthews (South Melbourne): Charged with throwing the ball away after a mark was given against him. Severely reprimanded.

• Ken Hands (Carlton): Charged with charging Ron Clegg (South Melbourne). Found not guilty.

• Keith Smith (South Melbourne): Charged with striking Jim Mooring (Carlton). Found not guilty.

Carlton won the game, incidentally.

OK, so you’re thinking that’s ancient history, and the game can no longer be like that. Cut to the epic 1989 Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong, considered by many aficionados as the greatest Grand Final of the modern era.
Here’s an excerpt from the match report:

Geelong made their intentions clear right from the start when Mark Yeates ran through Hawthorn's champion centre half-forward and enforcer Dermott Brereton. As Geelong coach Malcolm Blight later admitted, this had been a premeditated strategy to protect star midfielder Paul Couch and negate Brereton, who constantly used his aggression to unsettle the opposition.

Yeates was chosen to carry out the deed, partly as payback for when Brereton had flattened him in the classic Round 6 clash earlier in the season. Amidst the chaos in the middle of the ground, the Cats rushed the ball forward to Gary Ablett, who kicked the first of his nine goals for the afternoon.

Yeates’s hit left Brereton with broken ribs and a bruised kidney, which caused him internal bleeding. Hawthorn physiotherapist Barry Gavin recalled the scene years later:

“The thing that really struck me was how bad he was when I got there. He'd lost all the color in his face and was vomiting. He'd dragged himself back on his feet by this stage. But he was doubled over, dry-retching and his color was grey... There was no way he could stay out there. I remember looking up at [Hawthorn coach Allan Jeans] in the box and starting to try to get him off. Dermott said, ‘No, no. Just get me down to the pocket’. Terry Gay (Hawthorn's team doctor) came out. He was more worried than me. He recognized the gravity of it.”

Despite the insistence of the club doctors and trainers, Brereton refused to leave the field and instead was helped to the forward pocket. Hawthorn eventually narrowly won the game. They finished with just thirteen fit players out of twenty-two.

I’ll spare you the match charge sheet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene update from North Carolina

We interrupt Aussie August to bring you….Hurricane Irene

Looks like the last few posts will continue into an Aussie September. I wanted to give folks in other parts of the world some updates on what’s going on weather-wise around here (you know who you are, you way cool European and Aussie dudes!)

Long story short: looks like the storm is tracking farther inland than suspected, so lots of Eastern NC cities are in the crosshairs. Without giving away too much of my location, let’s say I’m near Raleigh, the state capital (which is a bit right to the center of the state).

Here’s one of the better hurricane tracking maps I’ve seen:

And, while the folks on the coast have already evacuated, and the folks in Florida and the Gulf states are the ones who are old veterans at this, Carolina folks are also all-too familiar with it. Thankfully, I’m far enough inland that I *usually* don’t get some of the damage the coast does, though stranger things have happened---like Fran who bulldozed straight through Raleigh and Floyd that brought devastating flooding. (both of those were category 2). My area does not have required evacuation (and in fact, is a shelter point for many of those from the coast, because we’re only 2 – 3 hours from the beaches.)

If you haven’t been to the barrier islands/ Outer Banks of North Carolina, they are little more than a narrow strip of sandbars (we’re amazed every year they don’t erode into the sea), which are amazingly beautiful in summer, but not much help during hurricanes. Ocracoke, one of the remote islands you may have heard about them evacuating, is very small---population 800 and the only way to the island is by ferry. The population booms in the summer with tourists (it’s frequently listed in “Dr. Beach’s” top ten) and the natives have a distinct brogue that sounds closer to an Irish or Scottish accent. These ferries on or off the island (depending upon which one you take) are basically 45 minutes each way for the shorter routes. 2 hours if you want to get to the mainland and not another barrier island.

Oh, and here’s a little list that was interesting.---list of the most hurricane-prone states from NOAA

I’ll try to update and post and provide amateur video if y’all are interested.

I’m going to prepare for the power to go out and take in all my back yard furniture.

Prayers for safety appreciated---esp. for those folks who were hit so hard in the Dominican Republic and other cities.

Aussie August: Michael's Top Ten Aussie Albums of All Time

Aussie August continues with guest posts from Australian poet, Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke. Check out his blog here. (And then please come back :))

My Top Ten Aussie Albums of All Time

Everyone loves a list, so I’m getting in on the act and counting down my top ten Aussie albums of all time. To American readers, forget Men At Work, no-one here Down Under really took them seriously then, and we certainly don’t now, and absolutely forget Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman’s ne’er-do-well husband. This is Aussie music as I lived it, growing up, and the music still sounds as good today as it did all those years ago...

10. “Live in a Mud Hut ... Somewhere in Europe” (1985) by The Saints.

In the mid to late 1980s, I used to hang out with a motley collection of hippies and bohemians in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney. I can remember deep discussions about literature and life (that is, who was scoring with the opposite sex, and who wasn’t), and this raw, loud live album was the soundtrack to many of those nights that didn’t end till the chirrups of the dawn birds. The Saints were Australia’s first punk band, in the early 1970s, even before The Sex Pistols broke England, and they rocked, big-time.

9. “Living in the 70’s” (1974) by Skyhooks.

The most popular album of its time, it spent sixteen weeks at #1 on the album charts, even though six of its tracks were banned by commercial radio. In those days, Aussie youth were either Skyhooks fans or Sherbet fans. I was cool. I was a Skyhooks fan. Sherbet fans were mostly girls, or, if they were boys, had bigger pimples than I had.

8. “Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance” (1988) by TISM.

TISM (which stands for This Is Serious Mum) were cool because their identities were hidden by masks, or brown paper bags over their heads, and also because they were St Kilda Football Club supporters, even to the extent of penning songs about the players. This album has such classic songs as “I’m Interested in Apathy”, and “The Ballad of John Bonham’s Coke Roadie”.

7. “Daddy Who? Daddy Cool” (1971) by Daddy Cool.

About three quarters of the bands on this list are from Melbourne, and recorded on Mushroom Records. This, Daddy Cool’s debut album, reached #1, and every self respecting high school student in 1971 knew the words to what has become an enduring Aussie anthem, “Eagle Rock”, off by heart. Daddy Cool are long defunct, but their then lead singer, Ross Wilson, still tours the clubs, living off past glories, and this was pretty glorious.

6. “Out of the Blue” (1973) by MacKenzie Theory.

I reckon about as many people bought this album as there were in the studio where it was recorded. That is, not many. Progressive, jazz influenced, instrumentals that, when heard either toking a joint, or, like me, eating a plate of mushrooms covered in a thick condensed milk sauce, sound like the best music in the galaxy, as evidenced by the incredible track “Extraterrestrial Boogie”.

5. “The Pleasure of Your Company” (1983) by Models.

Imagine Joy Division meets Duran Duran, Aussie style. A dark, brooding, yet still catchy album, with tracks like “God Bless America” and “I Hear Motion” (which includes the memorable lyric ‘When it is Christmas for everyone else / I feel like I’ve missed an appointment’) leaving you sort of bopping, sort of contemplating the nihilistic existential absurdity of it all. I saw Models touring this album at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1984, and they blew me away, I even wrote a poem about the gig. Needless to say, the lead singer James Freud later killed himself.

4. “Toward the Blues” (1971) by Chain.

This album goes toward the blues, then goes way, way beyond. All those British blues bands of the early 1960s, when Eric Clapton was still in nappies, are nothing compared to this tour de force. I’ve seen Chain several times over the years, they still tour, cranking out the old hits, and rocking old bluesmen, unlike old hippies, get better and better with age. Matt Taylor is the best harmonica player I’ve ever heard.

3. “Aztecs Live! At Sunbury” (1972) by Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs.

Sunbury was the Aussie Woodstock. Love and peace and sharing and music in a muddy field. And we Aussies knew what we liked. Queen, of “Bohemian Rhapsody” fame, were booed off the stage – the band everyone wanted to see was Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, and this, originally a double vinyl release, is Aussie pub rock like you’ve never heard it before or since. The album includes the song “Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy)”, which reached #3 on the singles charts, and remains my theme song to this day.

2. “Stillpoint” (1973) by Madder Lake.

I saw Madder Lake at the Mushroom Evolution concert at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne in 1982. By that time, the lead singer, Mick Fettes, had accumulated a paunch, but boy, could he still cut it. Among my faves on the album is an incredible anthem “12lb Toothbrush”, which always leaves me thinking what an incredible hallucinogenic trip they must have been on when they wrote it. An abridged version reached #35 on the singles charts. The album, Madder Lake’s debut effort, reached #13 on the album charts.

1. “Big Red Rock” (1974) by Ayres Rock.

Ayres Rock, another progressive, jazz-influenced outfit like MacKenzie Theory, only released two albums. “Big Red Rock” was their debut effort, and by their second release they had lost their mojo. But this album is an utter, stone dead classic, there’s not a dud track on it. Unlike Mackenzie Theory, there were some vocals, and the single, “Lady Montego”, was my favourite song at the time. Another song had a politically incorrect racist joke in a fake accent about the Greek gynaecologist, Dr Hopontopofus. The success of this album enabled them to embark on a US tour, but they never made it. They made #1 of my little list, though...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Soaps, and Other TV: An Aussie Comes Clean

I have a confession to make. In fact I have two. This post is all about coming clean. As Saint Thomas Aquinas probably said, “coming clean is like buying a pair of new sandals: you wish you had done it long ago, as trekking to the well is a sure recipe for dirty feet.”

Confession number one. I have never seen a single episode of “McLeod’s Daughters”. OK, so any cred I might have had, even vicarious, Saint Thomas Aquinas cred, is now evaporated.
Or so you might immediately think.
But hasty conclusions are like custard tarts: it’s not the filling that makes them, or the pastry casing, it crucially depends on the ambience of the first bite. All by way of saying, that when it comes to “McLeod’s Daughters”, I have mega-cred.

I am a good friend of Jack McLeod’s girlfriend!

Now, as I’m sure you must understand, I must talk in vague generalities, to some great degree, as they don’t want the media pack descending on their doormat, but I can reveal that Jack likes fishing, though he tends not to catch very much, even when he gets up at 4:30 in the morning and drags his girlfriend “Janice” (discretion is essential) with him on the boat.

“Janice” and Jack have a puppy, who turned one year old a couple of weeks ago, and they held a puppy birthday party. The puppy, who I’ll name “Nestor”, (I must keep his breed a secret, in case he might be recognised on walks in public), is already a veteran chewer of anything and everything, and hole digger. “Janice”’s sister’s designer shoes are no longer, post “Nestor”, what they once were. No need for any doggie DNA to be taken, there is only one suspect.
My lips, for the sake of my friendship with “Janice” must remain sealed, and not divulge any more goss. But may Our Good Lord strike me down and microwave my boxer shorts until they burn to a cinder, what you have just read is the truth.

But enough quotation marks around names. Back to True Confessions. There is one TV show that, if I miss it for a single weekday, I curl up in the foetal position, and, inconsolable, won’t even visualise a chocolate bar to cheer me up.

I’m referring to ABC News Breakfast (and that’s Australian Broadcasting Corporation), which has as one of its news presenters the woman who, had Shakespeare not been much chop, he would have penned sonnets with lines like “O sweet sadness of my soul, my heart longs” and “O, as I yearn, thou art as unattainable as the morning dew” and so on and so on to serenade her with.

Virginia Trioli
Yes, Virginia Trioli is the perfect woman. She’s smart, she’s witty, she has a smile to die for, and, importantly, she never nags, or presents other than an immaculate persona.

What more could a man ask for? Her phone number perhaps? But we poets are wise. Let dearest Virginia stay two-dimensional for me. Let her be perpetually unattainable, for it is in the act of attaining that one is lost.

Actually, I snuck that last, wise-sounding bit, in from Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was wise. He would have made a good TV Australian football pundit...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aussie August: Leave a comment for a chance to win---PLUS -- introducing BUSH TUCKER MAN!!!!!!!!

Sorry for this short sidebar, but after I (Dawn) saw Nevyn’s comment after Michael (our guest blogger) wrote about Australian Bush Tucker (see previous post), I just had to add this footnote.

 Nevyn commented that Michael forgot to mention Bush Tucker Man. I could not imagine who or what was Bush Tucker Man, but he sounded like a cross between Crocodile Dundee and MacGyver. That was it. I had to drop everything and go to You Tube.

I love Bush Tucker Man. And his hat. And shorts.

Only an Aussie could pull that look off and look brilliant doing it.

But before we go bush tucking with more of Aussie August…… (Michael, can “bush tucker” be used as a verb? I’m not sure who massacres the language worse--- Aussies or Yanks ---but regardless, I’m sure our British cousins “across the pond” are rolling their eyes). ……here’s a recap of your CHANCE TO WIN--- plus Michael has “sweetened the pot” as we say….

Okay, you can't really click to look
inside. Sorry. My bad.

Leave a comment and I’ll place your name in a drawing to win a FREE paperback copy of “Souls Raised from the Dead” by my mentor and former creative writing professor, Doris Betts. Doris is an amazing teacher and (as we say around here) “as nice as the day is long” (which, come to think about it, is only a compliment in the summer). She’s a bleepin’ genius.

Michael, has, in turn, offered a generous prize as well--- an item featuring the Writers In Townsville society logo on it (which is a way cool logo, btw). I think Michael set a price limit on the item of $40 Australian dollars (which is around $45 US at the moment—though I’m sure the US dollar is rapidly continuing to plummet and this figure will change by the hour).

Here’s the link where you can peruse the items:,

So here’s what I do---I put everybody’s name in a hat and draw two out. How do you know I’m doing it honestly? Because I’m going to video it and post it. I will ship the book to you anywhere in the world.

And while there is no requirement to follow my blog or Michael’s in return (though he has a very cool blog and some great insights into the writing life) it would be really, really, cool if you’d do that. Well, if you aren’t already.

I can’t speak for Michael, but as for myself, I’m insecure, and need validation.

To recap: Michael is an award-winning Australian poet who lives in Queensland. He has had several books of poetry published (the links and information are on his blog). Following are some links to his blog and one of his publications:

Michael’s blog “An Elusive Symmetry”

Michael’s book of poetry- "Ultramundane Shadows"

I think you can read the book of poetry FREE by going to that link. It's some great poetry.

If you’ve missed the previous posts, scroll on down and take a quick look----it’s a good chance to get up to speed on your Oz culture. These posts have been wonderful. Check out Michael’s next post on Sunday (21) , which mentions the best TV show I’ve not been watching. And for commenter Jack Colton, yes, Michael does have a very good upcoming blog on snakes.

And without further delay, for all my fellow Americans who have never heard of him, I introduce BUSH TUCKER MAN!!! (who, for some reason, I think looks a lot like Sam Neill)

And more, so we can all hear that gorgeous accent! He tells us how to find fresh water.  And Bush Tucker Man---you are rockin' those shorts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Aussie August: The Australian version of grits? Bush Tuckers.

Our guest blogger this August is Australian poet Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke. His poetry publications include: Ultramundane Shadows (2008), Three Hundred and Sixty-four Paper Boats (2007), Deep Wings (2004),S-h-h-hidelplonk (2002).  Read some poems from Ultramundane Shadows by clicking here. (And then come back. Please. )

Aussie Bush Tucker

The Hungarians have goulash, the French have escargot, the American South has grits, and the Aussies, not to be outdone, have bush tucker. Well, to be exact, the Australian Indigenous peoples have it, and it’s becoming a cross-over cuisine into the mainstream of Aussie society.

The distinguishing feature of bush tucker is that, almost without exception, it tastes so foul that it borders on the inedible. A notable exception is kangaroo steak – stop reading now if you’re squeamish. The cute iconic marsupial, which is on the Australian official coat of arms, is considered a feral pest, well, some of its species are, and is mercilessly hunted down by ocker – Americans please read “redneck” – beer swilling professional hunters, who swear all the time and listen to diabolically awful country music.

An instance of this hunting so outraged Sir Paul McCartney (he obviously keeps his ear to the ground in Liverpool) he couldn’t let it be, and wrote a letter of protest. What he doesn’t know, it seems, is that kangaroo is a fine, lean meat, reminiscent of venison, and is now a sought after gourmet delicacy, with a fine, gourmet delicacy price tag. Previously, until someone actually tried eating it, kangaroo meat was used as pet food.

But kangaroo meat aside, the motley collection of foul tasting berries, leaves, grubs and grasses the Indigenous peoples try to get the unsuspecting whiteys to eat is a bit of a joke.

Aussies have plenty of cooking shows on TV. A popular one is “Poh’s Kitchen”, Poh being a petit twenty-something Asian woman who previously had been a finalist on the top rating series Masterchef. A recent episode was filmed in Darwin, in Australia’s tropical north, and I swear the Indigenous elder she had showing her local bush tucker had been plucked straight from the local McDonald’s.

Talk about a con. This grey-haired Indigenous guy was, among other things, a real sleaze, he was all over Poh like a dose of dengue fever, putting his arm around her and looking down her blouse. He made a point of laughingly saying “I’m married Poh,” as if she would be interested in him in a blue fit.

Anyway, they are driving down a dusty road, when the old guy says “pull over here.” They get out of the beat-up old pick-up, and he points to a tree by the side of the road. “Poh, enjoy nature’s kitchen, try some of our mingy-dingy berries.” Naive little Poh picks a handful of these small red berries, and puts a couple in her mouth.

The face she made was priceless.

“They have an, err, astringent, acidic quality,” she somehow spat out, somehow keeping the berries in her mouth. The old Indigenous guy, smiling broadly, ate not one berry.

Any post on bush tucker would not be complete without a mention of the witchetty grub. Apparently they are an Indigenous delicacy. Always out for every last vote he can possibly claim, recently the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, went to the remote outback, put a live one in his mouth, and swallowed.

Another priceless face, which made the national news on all the free-to-air TV channels.

It’s easy to work out the score for this post:

Indigenous 2, Sophisticated Westerners in the Public Gaze 0...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Aussie August: Is your man a budgie smuggler?

Aussie August with guest blogger, Australian poet, Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke. Read more about him on his blog here...

Budgie Smugglers

Although kept as pets all over the world, wild budgerigars, or budgies, are native to Australia. Some species are very rare, and prized by unscrupulous types who will pay big bucks to have them smuggled out of the country. Typically, they are smuggled out on planes, in suitcases, often in cloth bags, where, often, they will squirm, and struggle to see the light of day.

And so it is that the male, err, equipment, struggles to see the light of day in skimpy male swim briefs, that used to be widely known Down Under as “Speedos” (after the company who made them), but which are now known by all Aussies as “budgie smugglers”.

Australia has more beaches than any other country in the world, including the iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney. It’s so iconic that even Paris Hilton recently strode the sands, entourage a step and a half behind her.

Sun, sand, and surf, that’s the traditional Australian way. Sadly, politicians exposing themselves also seems to be the Australian way. The former Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Peter Debnam, tried to lift his sagging popularity by donning a pair of budgie smugglers, and taking a dip in the Sydney surf.

The only thing that really took a dip was his popularity. The then Deputy Premier John Watkins accused him of offending common decency. Debnam lost the 2007 state election.

They breed them tougher in Victoria. It’s colder. But, without surmising on the effect the cold had on the Leader of the state Opposition Ted Baillieu’s, err, equipment, he too donned a pair and entered the cold, choppy sea to announce a coastal policy. The main newspaper was flooded with letters and e-mails about what the paper described as “a wardrobe malfunction”. Needless to say, Baillieu lost the 2007 Victorian state election.

Cut to 2009. Sydney’s Queenscliff beach. Local boy, and Leader of the Opposition on the Australian Federal political scene, Tony Abbott, again showing that a Leader of the Opposition can, well, show.

Perhaps it’s because Julia Gillard, the first Australian female Prime Minister, doesn’t have chest hair, who knows, but at the moment her governing Australian Labor Party’s poll numbers are 27 per cent, the lowest since polls were invented, and Tony Abbott, at 61 per cent, looks like he will win the next Federal election by a huge landslide.

Just goes to show. If you persist in flaunting it – and all the above mentioned budgie smuggled politicians are from the conservative, American readers please read Republican, side of politics – you not only end up “getting the chicks”, you end up “getting the guys”, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aussie August: The TRUTH About Koalas....

Continuing with Aussie August and guest blogger, Australian poet Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

The Koala

Koalas are cute, cuddly, bears – an endangered species. Well, one out of four ain’t bad, I suppose. Maybe koala stuffed toys, the sort that are sold to tourists and almost always made in China.

Yes, koalas are endangered, destruction of habitat and all that, but they’re not bears, they’re marsupials, and up close and personal they are, as the Americans like to say, “ornery critters”. When they’re not asleep that is.

Or stoned.

Yes, koalas like to get their forty, fifty, one hundred winks in, but, when they’re not asleep, it’s the look in their eyes that gives them away. Imagine Jerry Garcia circa 1967.
Koalas only eat a certain types of eucalyptus leaves. And they can basically get by just like that, almost all of the time they don’t drink. They pee though. Back to that in a moment. But first, it is a little known fact that certain eucalyptus leaves can, when eaten, have an effect similar to that obtained when dropping acid.
Man, those koalas, they get it, man. There are recorded instances of koalas being so stoned they have fallen out of their trees, hence the expression “off your tree.”
But cute? Cuddly? Ask the former Australian Government Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism John Brown. He notoriously described them as “flea-ridden, piddling, stinking, scratching, rotten little things.”

Here’s why. Like any politician the world over, he wanted a photo opportunity. One that would promote Australia as a tourist destination, (and, of course, not least, get his smiling face all over the media). Where better place to go than a koala sanctuary, and cuddle a koala?
Dear John. He got his face all over the media, all right. A koala handler gave him a koala to cuddle, as he had insisted upon, but this particular koala was, evidently, on a bad trip.
Instead of docilely allowing itself to be cuddled, the koala, doubtless with strains of Jefferson Airplane in its ears, squirmed, and scratched, and bit, and unleashed a stream of foul smelling pee all over Minister Brown’s expensive suit.

John Brown was a bad apple anyway. He left the Government in disgrace, after revelations that he and his then wife public relations consultant Jan Murray had celebrated a victory – what sort is anyone’s guess – one night by having sex on his desk in his office at Parliament House. They might have got away with it, but, as Murray later told the TV program “60 Minutes” she “left her knickers in the ashtray.”
But Australian politics is another, sordid, unholy story. Let us leave this post back with the koalas, mulling on the fact that, yes, it is near-impossible for dry cleaning fluid to get rid of the smell of koala pee...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Aussie August: Introducing Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Our guest blogger for this month is Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke, Australian poet, philosopher and all-around cool guy, he will be posting with wit and wisdom about writing and about Australia, so therefore we are presenting Aussie August. (Has a cool ring to do, don't you think?) Please comment and feel free to ask questions.

 Every time you make a comment, you are entered into a drawing to win a FREE paperback copy of "Souls Raised from the Dead" by my mentor, Doris Betts.

All content on guest blog post  is copyright by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke.

Five Faves, Five Least Faves
Dawn rocks. Dawn is smart, funny, and, yes, I’m a man so I’m saying it, very attractive with it. I’m twisting her arm to do a Dawnster glamour 2012 calendar, which will have twelve head and shoulders pics, akin to her Facebook banner pics, of the most delicious, quirky smile this side of the seventh moon of Jupiter.
No, I don’t owe Dawn money. As the Roman philosopher Gnaeus Claudius Severus is supposed to have said on a chariot leaving the Colosseum, “flattery, if idle, will not only bring down the wrath of every god worth their salt, it’s no good for bunions, either.”
Let me immediately say that Dawn has one major, tragic, character flaw. Her generosity is as unseemly as a petticoat “blowin’ in the wind,” as evidenced by her turning over her blog to this Aussie poet whose main claim to fame is he shares his birthday with Rupert Murdoch.
So, apart from being deeply ashamed at being born, I sheepishly acknowledge that for some reason beyond my ken, all I can bring today to Dawn’s wonderful blog is two poems, and an offer I’m hoping might, just might, be enough to pique the interest of a reader or two.
No, I don’t sell Amway. I’ll get to the offer after the two poems. The snooty, purist poets out there would look down their formidable noses, and intone to the effect that “the poem speaks for itself,” and “any commentary on my part would be a sign of Weakness of Mind. And I don’t have Weakness of Mind, I’m a Poet.”
Well, snooty I’m not, which doesn’t necessarily excuse my insecurity at foisting the poems on you without saying anything. They are, as a duo, meant to show that I have a Sensitive, Poetic side; and a side that, well, possibly belongs locked up in one of Charlotte Brontë’s attics.
OK, enough of this. Here we go...
On the waves of Clouds & Dreams
for Debra Wright

Enter with gratitude the great heart, it is the earth,

we have time before we die. Feel the electricity

of harmonious things, harbour consecrated dreams.

Embrace your form—the grasses take the wind,

each heart can practise escape. On the edges,

where want wishes to become conclusive, seek,

amplify your wholeness. Balance within your eyes, and

if this teaching seems clouded, remember clouds

can be walked through—acceptance is

a theory irreducible.

A thorn appears. Go back to the good tree,

where last is twenty times equal

to all the compass first dies for,

and gently put it back. Love will all.


Teacher, why do you ignore me? I am enmeshed

in my humanness. I do not teach. Let the

abrasive, nervous ones build wooden boats. They

are known to me. I do not teach. Unattainable,

thoughts. Doubt, and the wooden heraldry

society offers will consume you. Roses

are my judge – my watching instant. Water

every victim, watch, ultimately, a perfume

withstands the hail. I do not teach. The

wheels flavour earth.

In the river, a baby. Bring her. And

when her poetry begins to flow, shape

the wind by absence, take several things.

I must leave for my body. Please ask.


After an Arabic Proverb
for Lori Hurst

I’m an oblong theorist, without the corners.

Brilliant God kindly wrenched me from the stars; in love;

with the shape of the universe, and some of its peoples.

Sounds rush into my ears—this perpetual birth high,

asinine, vaguely north African. Take a fig and kill it.

The tree will flourish again.

Sunlight is more beatific here, so I am told.

All the advice culminates in a glorious sunset.

Thank God for night.

Starlight is just enough to change the world.

Fulfilled, I make paper, I make computers,

I become a fuehrer of my mind, then,

before I let go and savour bliss,

I annex another woman’s body. I am, again, asinine in my loss.


Stupid in my loss,

no hill can take me close enough to the stars.

An Arabic proverb, apocryphally attributed to

poet Amru ibnu ma'adyakrubi iz-zubaidi,

about figs likens each fruit to a star—an Arab shop owner

smelled her bloomers, and I bought a posy, bound in fig leaves,

to give to a whore who, to date, would much rather

spend her time with a telescope. My member was turgid, but bilious for her,

so we discussed the Arab philosophers,

far superior to the Greeks, she said. When I left,

she spat on one of the fig leaves, and told me to press it against

my cheek, to remind me of her. Outside, I threw it in the gutter.

A Townsville park dweller told me this: “stars, figs, spit on them all—

take a wheelbarrow, fill it with soil, and just keep pushing”.

...Yes, I’m in therapy. But I do have a blog:, and I also have the offer I alluded to earlier.
I am currently writing, when I can muster the wherewithal – which, yes, is happening more regularly than reappearances of Halley’s comet, but no, sadly, is happening less often than the real, truly conscientious, writers, who hardy have time to eat and shower between verbs – a book of poems.

lightbulb moment somewhere else), and its premise is that one hundred people will give me their lists of their five favourite, and five least favourite, words, and from those ten words I will fashion a poem of some ilk or other.

One hundred people, one hundred poems. I’m an Aussie, I don’t understand baseball, but to butcher the concept of one of your stats, I’m currently batting way below 0.5000. I need about seventy more people (and, possibly, more time than it takes Jupiter to orbit the sun) to complete the project.
What’s in it for you? Fame? Fortune? I’ll leave those to the stars of Amway conventions. No, I am but a humble poet, with but humble words to weave. There’s nothing in it for you but a place, ultimately, in a book. (And, yes, I’ll let the inner-egomaniac out of his closet, and say that, all going according to plan, I’ll be bleeping off some poor university student big-time in five hundred years.)
OK folks, I’ll leave you with a summary. Why did dear Dawn volunteer blog space to me? It has to do with a boiled egg, a purple cape, and Rupert Murdoch lending me his cast-off underwear.

Ask her. In the meantime, my e-mail address is Michael(dot)fitzgeraldclarke(at)gmail(dot)com if you have ten words to spare...

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke