Dear diary.

Dear diary I know I haven’t written anything here for a while but there’s been a lot going on in what we call the ‘real world’. And I should mention Facebook because I never realised how, for many people, it is the real world.

In staying away from Facebook, I’d imagined it to be like the many other social networks I have made or joined since the beginning of the internet. I felt I could judge it by technical aspects, but the difference between a small town and New York is not in the shape of buildings. If you have enough people and you influence the mob subtly, everything changes. The machinery itself stays distant, watching and silently moving the streets around to guide the parades. I have learned much about breakfasts, worldwide.


The first distressing thing I noticed is a clock that says when people last visited. A simple thing and yet it says you just missed somebody, or they are ‘here’ and ignoring you, or that you yourself are desperately avoiding real work and were ‘here’ only a hour ago. It’s a banal evil. Twitter is much better at letting you dip in and out of the water without splashing others.

Seems the other billion users are fine with being confronted by people about whom they have old mixed feelings. I’ve not had that many relationships (I tend to the long term) so I guess it wasn’t such a feat for FB to have them all lined up in my “friends” apart from the one who died and another that it suggested I might go ahead and add to the list OUCH are you kidding me? Was I so sensitive that I found this utterly horrible, and have become so insensitive now that it doesn’t phase me to see them all there in neat order? Plus they all got fat. They think that too when looking at me.

It’s been instructive to watch Bradbury raging at the machine, trying to be as vile and angry as he could manage at the population of Pleasantville, who just smiled and waved at him as they hosed their lush social lawns. He reached maximum vomit and finally disappeared in a puff of smoke, defeated. This instruction led me to try a different kind of rebellion, a surreal mockery of their breakfasts, but that was just as useless, and so I just write whatever gibberish I feel like writing. Besides I am there to test my 360 degree videos and sell some music and that’s working.

Extruding into the real world, a message on Facebook from somebody I last met more than a decade ago. We met again, we have been meeting, and this has become that purgatory of hope and despair we all know as dating. I haven’t dated since my early 20’s and it makes me feel both young and as confused as I was back then. As there are two people involved I can’t be quite as talkative about this as my bereavement, but can I just say that I look forward to the day when I’m not driving through an endless line of emotional crash barriers.

fat crash test windshield.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

Let’s see, we’ve done death of parents, major financial problem, death of spouse, loss of job, new relationship… hmm, I see Christmas is on the list, let’s do that one for some more points.

Life Hacks for the recently widowed.

I am a widower. You got knocked down, but you get back up. Everybody finds their way again, and these are some ways I am doing it.

Set a deadline. I don’t have any strong culture or religion to work from so I just figured out a year is good round symbolic duration. For one year I am a widower. After that I am a millionaire playboy philanthropist. From Batman to Bruce Wayne. There will be a little re-birthday just for me.

I find the worst thing is having to re-live my loss to strangers – to the police, to the bank, to immigration officers, to co-workers. Which you will have to do sometimes, but you have plenty of other happier things to talk about as well. It’s not wrong to put your loss to one side for later, it’ll always be there, but you will be stronger. Every couple of months I get sent a newsletter about suicide. I’m sure it helps some people but I hate the damn thing, it goes in the bin.

Common knowledge is to re-arrange all your furniture. Like, if a tornado hit it. Like, you are exhausted by carrying things up and down stairs and so you sleep soundly. Like, you are on a mission that allows no other intrusive thought. Like, whatever life was lived here it’s been remixed by a bad DJ. And in your new environment you can get on with your new life.

Obviously you need to put something where you-know-what happened. If you choose something ridiculous you might find yourself staring forlornly at a novelty sock drawer, and snap out of it.


Don’t just get a hobby. Become theatrically obsessed with something. I want to be the tedious Man Cave guy, not the dead wife guy. Particularly as my Man Cave jokes are a re-occupation of space in my home which would otherwise be sad.

Whenever you get the bad thoughts go out and walk around. Look at the world. Wear out some shoes and wear out that misdirected energy.

Sleep is key. Sleep is repair. A strategically placed pillow allows you to sleep in the same positions you’ve known for the last 25 years without your knees knocking together. It should not have an anime picture on it that’s gross.

Despite that you’re going to age visibly. Sorry. If that worries you then lay off the grog. For me grog is not a problem but not everyone is so lucky. Careful.

Time to reread your old Roman stoic philosophers. No matter what they say, everyone you know is terrified that you’re going to weep all over them and will avoid you. Fortunately for me I did so much of that when young I’ve worn it out. You might once, but you’re in charge of the tone of your friendships, and if you practice calm and acceptance then they will too. And being chill actually helps your mood.

Caution: That person at a party that reminds you of your partner has no especial insight into your loss. That’s all in your head.

You remember your partner when you and they were young. But look in the mirror, time’s moved on. I’m pleased to say I have no great desire to shack up with a 20 year old, may you also be free of such delusion.

Ghosts: There are only the ghosts in your head. If you find it hard to go to the toilet because you might be observed by angels, you could hold a cleansing ceremony. Some people use incense. I have preferred to unleash an endless torrent of belching and other biological sonic place markers of such might that no woman alive or dead would possibly share this space.

It’s OK to talk aloud to yourself. Or a cat. I can’t have a cat right now, might get a robot one, which is just as oblivious as the real thing. It’s even OK to talk to the dead, because you’re really addressing some of the wiring in your own head that needs revision.


Media: I have a ritual of scanning and sorting photographs of the dead which I’ve done twice now. I think it’s because you look through them all and then you reach an end point where you can stop, and not have to look at them until much later.

If after a year you are healed and looking forward to new adventures then you have only done what your partner should have hoped for you. You’re a living thing not a grave marker. And at least for me, I do not believe in afterlife, nobody is watching, it’s completely up to me to make sure that life is spent well.

Phoenix Rising

People deal with bereavement in different ways. I keep sadness private and gallows humour public. So just a warning that you’re going to get a bit of that. It’s an appropriate healing method.

You also probably know that rearranging the living space helps, as it swaps memories for potential (you know, living space). And one does tend to want to remove the spot-where-it-happened.

It also matters when somebody suffering a mental illness has occupied a section of the house, which they have slowly turned into an impenetrable twilight zone. It became a protective fort, filled to overflowing with clothing, bags, shoes, and Unknown Feminine Objects. The windows blocked off and lit by candles all day. Everything glued with dust and candle wax. I have spent days on end clearing it out. The main feature was bags. Under several layers of clothing there’ll be a big duffel bag marked PRADA in which there’s a outer bag marked PRADA, inside that will be the PRADA hand bag, inside that will be a PRADA purse and then inside that the sort of treasures they list in JRPG’s – golden coins? used tissues? strange doctor’s letter?


It’s about three weeks now and I’ve reached the bare floorboards. So what to do with this space? Once upon a time it was my studio, back before I had to sell all the gear. Seeing as I’ve started to re-acquire all this music junk I am set on building

Some people take the man cave too far. No, I just want to have something that is utterly different to what was there before. Besides, everyone else at my work gets to have an artist studio. In this space I will conduct an investigation into the nexus between musical interfaces and beer, in view of the paradoxical relationship between alcohol consumption, muscle memory and inspiration. I’ll need volunteers. And a cat.


Great career advice just for YOU.


Tip 1: Make sure you get your email out of the way straight away on arrival. Categorise the contents into act now, later and pass to others.
Tip 2: Don’t look at your email for the first few hours. Follow through your own schedule and don’t get distracted by communications that deflect that schedule.

Tip 3: Plan out every hour of the day, starting at 5.30pm and working backwards.
Tip 4: Don’t plan the day by hours. Allow the larger themes of your job role to determine the proportions of your time load.

Tip 5: Take a break every half hour and switch to another task to keep a fresh mind.
Tip 6: Get yourself into the swing of the task, a mind space, in the zone, without taking breaks.

Tip 7: Visualise yourself in your next role and work at a higher level as if you are preparing to take it on.
Tip 8: Don’t try to anticipate your next role as you will always create it around you when the time comes.

Tip 9: Schedule regular public dialogue with your co-workers and take care to listen.
Tip 10: Avoid meetings unless to address specific needs

Tip 11: Don’t read those ‘life success tip’ list blogs, they are a pack of shit. All of the contradictory advice listed above comes from the same source. You don’t need to take advice from ‘idea puppy mills’.

Tip 123: They see no problem with listing contradictory advice, because the goal is not about actually achieving anything but teaching you to be an efficient component. Contradiction is actually good to keep you open to suggestion.

Tip 12: This kind of writing is an attempt to regiment your thinking so that you remain a useful cog in a system that concentrates wealth and leisure with a few people, and wastes your short life on this earth.

Tip 15: You are going to die. Time is running out. You will become sick and not be able to fulfil those aspirations that matter most to you. That’s the most important item on the schedule, so fuck email tips.

Tip Horse: The best answer to work is to change management to trust. That is, work on the basis of your humanity, not become technology.

Tip toe: And don’t be an arsehole, that’s a cheap diversionary aspiration. There is no need to act like Steve Jobs, just because it gets promoted in popular fiction as a way to exercise power. Kindness is a difficult virtue. We are all in the same tunnel.

T1#262865: But you already knew all of this.

Five reasons why I’m not an ‘artist’.

1. When I worked in advertising I was surprised to meet people who didn’t do anything. They are called ‘art directors’. People like myself that perform the actual tasks are called ‘operators’ and there is a strong class distinction which leads ‘art directors’ to cross their arms while speaking near any object that they may accidentally use*. I was employed to move text on a page for an irate person standing a few feet away from the means to do it. Apparently their pureness of thought would be sullied by contact with a mechanism.

It was shameful to then work at a university where I would speak as an ‘academic’ and have a ‘support’ staff member come in and touch the equipment I was speaking about. This partly comes from film production, where the auteur tells a camera operator what to do. The day that Alex Davies was sent in to touch the equipment for me I called bullshit on the whole idea. I touched the equipment. I will not accept this division between worker and foreman.

I can use a video camera, I have practised its handling over many hours and learned the muscle skill of it. I position the tripod, sand bag it, frame the shot. I set the shutter and the aperture. I raise lights and aim them. I replace bulbs. I write code, slowly and poorly and am even worse at soldering – but I do it. I make digital composites in Photoshop and After Effects. I build games and animate 3D objects. I replace daughter boards. I justify text on an A4 spread. I cut vinyl, print, sew.

When I taught ‘digital media’ I assured my students that they would some day not have to put up with ‘art directors’. I’ve since lost that hope. The gatekeepers have been torn down but artium magister now stands ready to keep the techniplebs under foot.

This post was prompted by something I read about field recording. Yes, I hold a microphone. I choose the appropriate kind; shot gun, crossed pairs. I set the levels on the recorder. I set edit points. I cut tape. I adjust clip amplitudes. I apply filters and set fades at the edges. Does someone have a problem with any of this? Because I don’t care. I have a problem with people who rely on ‘operators’ and ‘assistants’, who are ‘ideas people’, who ‘direct’ others, who evidence a distaste for production, who have tried to turn their ignorance into some kind of superiority. Like eating in restaurants somehow makes them a chef.

2. The first time I made an ‘artist talk’ at a significant event was a Sydney Biennale. Up on stage was a gaggle of ‘media artists’, who like me had a sculptural sound or video work currently on display. When asked to explain the work I said that if I had to use words, it had failed to do its job, and that the audience should go and see it if they needed. That was the first time I encountered a deeply angry ‘artist’ who spent the rest of the panel punishing me for sacrilege. It’s not been the last, but these days I laugh at them.

In every definition of art I’ve read it comes down to context. The ‘artist’ creates a work ‘in a studio context’, which then goes into the marketplace ‘in a gallery context’ for an audience who engage with the work ‘in an arts context’. This explains how somebody’s dirty old bed and their trash gets shown in the Tate Gallery; it’s in context. This is a fantastic sleight of hand which suggests there’s a hidden aspect to everything that is visible which evades scrutiny. A kind of dark matter holding art together.

Even if you don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, just see that an exchange between two parties takes place. There is communication. When I communicate I think it best to use the appropriate means to do so, which shouldn’t then require subtitles. I insist that the thing itself is what matters, and I deny the idea that there’s a separate rather mystical layer to the whole business – a mysticism that often gets turned into International Art English. I have great respect for writing and words. But I don’t think that they are always necessary.


3. Opening night comes and everybody does their entrances and dances like an 19th century costume ball, followed by days of empty rooms and bored gallery staff. It’s such an ineffective means of connecting with a wider audience that the sham is obvious – the audience is the least important aspect of it. It’s about the congregation, their bonds and alignments. Every career involves some politics; being ‘an artist’ is no exception and requires constant stroking of the powerful and important. All of which distracts from the work (and probably why so many artists employ operators).

Recently I was speaking about visual music at a gallery. Halfway through the talk there was a flurry of suits and the audience fluttered around in an agony of politeness. The incoming federal arts minister was making an inspection and much bowing and scraping was in order. I didn’t care, did not pause or give the suit man an inch. It was my talk, and fuck the politics.

Worse in my eyes is that real friendships are masked by the arranged ones. I’ve met some good people who are also ‘significant artists’ and so we could only communicate via approved dance steps of interviews, panels, audiences. As I get older I forget to follow protocol and do things like punch ‘significant artist’ arms – it seems to shock but I think the actual person is grateful for being reminded that human contact is still possible.

4. I’ve said it too many times: the ideal of an artistic career is inertia. Innovate for a while. Find a practice, a style, a scheme that earns attention. Repeat it endlessly, never daring to step outside your persona because the system will need to bind you to an iconic representation of yourself. Do you reproduce famous paintings as slow motion videos? Or use a skateboard as your macguffin? Better stick to that. Keep on making action painting, or ‘industrial’ tape cut up until you die – which is your prime function, sealing off the quantity of your saleable work.

Artists that constrain themselves are recognised more quickly, they are funded, they are more acceptable to publications because they are easier to digest. They are the cheddar cheese of creativity, and when I am I told that ‘all the best work is happening over here’, I know the place to look is anywhere but there. Innovation is part of a continuing vitality, and confusedly being alive is more important than being neatly dead. We should never ever pre-organise ourselves into categories that fit nicely in museums, journals and repositories. That’s like pinning yourself into a display case.

5. The quality of much ‘celebrated art’ is debatable and fails to inspire any true love or respect. Given that the audience is not required, the thing itself needs endless explanation, the auteur has no skills and innovation is abandoned as soon as it gets in the way it’s amazing that there is any good work at all. It’s made by people that don’t buy into all this bullshit. That’s what I want to be.

What will we call ourselves? The Kraftwerk guys were onto something when they called themselves ‘music workers’. But I have another idea. In advertising the term ‘creative’ is a mixed signal, it seems to be a positive, but can be a polite substitute for ‘operator’. I’ve often heard somebody say, ‘we’ll get our creatives onto that’. It means ‘all slaves to the oars’. If so, perhaps we can claim ‘creative’ or ‘operator’ back. It can be our own swearword.

* ‘Class’ seems a heavy handed term until we recall that some societies such as ancient Greece and pre WW1 England defined the upper class by their inactivity.

Last days. Again.

It’s funny isn’t it, how the busiest times seem to jam up at the death of things. It’s busy now, very busy, as we prepare another larger coffin for Severed Heads. How many coffins has this corpse escaped so far? Houdini!


Yeah, well, OK. But just once more.

Severed Heads is very weary. It shuffles along carrying another heavy load, confused by being alive and dead all at once. Reanimated for as long as some more publicity gets injected, but frankly it starved to death years ago. No one gave a flying fuck until it was buried. Now they keep digging it up.


Look I found the track with old guy’s voice in it!

Weary. Now that’s the word, more spiritual than just plain old tired.

I think this coffin is going to be the big one. There’s going to be a TV crew, outside broadcast van, the contract is 47 pages long, residual rights blah blah names and likenesses blah blah LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of this old cobble of bones. Documentation that this thing has finally carked it and “pity we didn’t go to see them when they were still around?”

Like any dying thing you keep gasping for air, it’s primal. You think that you can drag that few more minutes out of the universe, but you’re already gone. I’ve got a whole album of music I’ve been recording and some drunk midnights almost get to planning some kind of distribution. Thank God that next morning someone will write and ask if they can re-issue 1983 for the 1000th time and remind me why I just record for myself – cut out the middle man.

And frankly, the wonderful people (I really mean that) who are supporting us aren’t the current listening audience. We’re one generation away from people who go to The Opera.


If I go to the op’ra house, in the op’ra season
There’s someone sure to shout at me without the slightest reason
If I go to a concert hall to have a jolly spree
There’s someone in the party who is sure to shout at me
“Where did you get that hat? Where did you get that tile?
Isn’t it a nobby one, and just the proper style?
I should like to have one Just the same as that!”
Where’er I go, they shout “Hello! Where did you get that hat?”

So then, weary but not lazy. Let’s make a great show of it, entertain, play the old bones another round. Always have pride in your work. Do the song with the bloke in it after all it’s going to be on TV as long as that old Rock Arena horror. After that, well Stewart’s got a Tangerine Dream style band he keeps threatening to launch (and I’m mentioning to guilt him into launching) so I’ll ask if I can be Conrad Schnitzel. That sounds fun.

If you’ve got any suggestions for what his band should be called I reckon you tweet him. He’ll hate that. If you don’t tweet leave a suggestion here.

LikLik Retpela Hat

Here it is. My contribution to the Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras. Or as the mouth breathing scum that rejoice in the title ‘common people’ call it: “The Mardi Gras” with all that pervert stuff taken out. Oh they will be there – the radio has been pumping ‘I Will Survive” all week. Every straight guy within a km of Oxford Street is lisping and mincing but will be back to bashing pooftas and Muslims next week. Woo! Woo!

If I had a float, it would have Superintendent Mike Thomas on it. I don’t know what he looked like but he’d be the main attraction. I reckon. I think he was the Phantom.

Or Condoman, who as a near brother of the Phantom did all he could to save the indigenous population from AIDS. Back when we had Labor government. Don’t get me started, I can usually hold my inner Bolshie in check but the mouth breathers have been particularly bad recently.

Perhaps why Pauline Pantsdown is doing a show this weekend. Whenever I feel a bit queasy about going out and doing more shows I thank god that unlike Simon at least I don’t have to put back on the greasepaint. But it’s started to slide again and somebody has to …

INTERMISSION – Some drunk English dolly bird has fallen out of the Cricketers Arms into in my doorway babbling glottal stops on her smart phone like a parody of every UK Washed Up Raver Moved To The Colonies – “nah mate, it’s called Dub Side Of The Moon, Geddit? Drum And Bass! Wicked! Australians GO OFF this Mardi Gras mate not like back home of course what time is it there yeah got a job here cold calling gonna go to Thailand next” etc. etc.

If we are going to put people “on the boats and send them back” like the mouth breathers want can we start with this lot thanks. At least get out of my fucking doorway thank you. There, peace again.

Anyway. Simon teaches sound production at KUNST KAMP and is rightly known as one of the few locals to raise a ruckus over the evil racist shit that was going on at the time. He was rewarded with some popularity which didn’t save him from a bollocking at the same Homebake festival at which we performed in 1998. Of course the kids think something is hilarious, but even more hilarious is to beat up the person who did it. Then forget.

(sips his Victory Gin). No hope in the Proles.

This is getting maudlin. We need a joke. So the young bohemians are in need of a model again. Seems that Olde Darlinghurst is back in style, and they have discovered Madeleine Preston’s photo archive from the 1980’s. I enjoy this because I was there, but I can’t imagine why anyone else would. For example, my old drum machine:

Will the youth of today set fire to theirs so it looks chic toasted? Anyway the joke is a fashion glossy is going to be covering that extremely chic band Severed Heads and wondered if I had a bigger copy of:

Such style! Such Poise! And some minimal synth! He looks like he just realised he needs to go to the toilet and the synthesiser is too heavy to lift. The reality is it’s 1984 and I think we’re doing something for City Slab Horror. The scary thing is half the people I recognise in this photo archive are already dead.

I quite like this one:

The party is really swinging! On the floor is Bradbury and Cornaga probably arguing about something. On the bed please admire my taste in red socks and cheap trousers. Only the best from the local opportunity shop! Obviously rapt in conversation and cheap cask wine is the divine Chlorine Presley Smith who was the woman who tolerated me at the time. This is what people did before the Internet folks! Glower at each other.

(sips his Victory Gin.)

Detecting ghosts using Picasa

The family home having been put on the market all the children have taken their burden of the artefacts that filled our parents’ lives. As the parents were in competition with the British Museum to pillage the planet for statues, carvings, parts of UFOs and weapons of mass destruction, I haven’t been able to fit much share in my little house. What I have taken on is the media including photographs that go back to the late 1800’s. I have catalogued and scanned about 4,200 so far. I think there are a few thousand more to go.

Each photo is scanned and added into Picasa, where I add tags and comments that e.g. ‘the baby in this shot went on to World War One and then must have survived because he’s the fat man holding another baby sometime later’. I turned on face recognition which was annoying at the start, but soon proved useful when it recognised Uncle Something Or Other over the decades. What I didn’t expect was that Picasa is determined to find every person in the shot no matter how bleary and distant they may be. I was deleting them when I noticed that Picasa was finding ghosts.

Here’s a typical Picasa face:

Nothing weird going on here. Ancient Ellard relative with beer.

Here Picasa insists that a face is somewhat to the left of what you or I might expect. But look again.

I am aged 8 and sitting on a couch. Picasa is much more interested in whatever is looking in the window. I can’t see it but then again Google is better at searching.

Quite typically our first real ghost is holding a ghostly beer. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

It’s the Invisible Man!

It’s not easy being green. That’s probably why he looks so down.

Keep in mind that all these showed up with face detection set to high confidence / low errors. I’m going to back up the database and then do another search with lower confidence – that’s going to really flush out all these spirits!


Our move to BandCamp seems to be slowly working. We have reached our first sales benchmark and so we’ve been given free downloads. If you would like a free download of bonus tracks from the Haul Ass album, why not click here?

The Ghost of James Dibble

James Dibble has died.

If you are Australian and are not wearing black, you are not an Australian. If you are English then you should, because we’ll get upset when YOUR queen dies. Yanks – I guess the comparison is Edward Murrow, although it must be said Murrow was the greater man who took on demons and vanquished them.

Dibble is symbolic of … well of course whatever you want to him to be … but for me symbolic of the old colonial/socialist hybrid that was Australia, that ran on the well meaning corruption and crisp speaking we inherited from the United Kingdom. The elite were running the show, the workers had jobs, the indigenous people were tucked away out of sight, and broadcast was a signal that came from on high, holding it all together. The opposite of blogs like this.

Yet Dibble was one of the freaks, the stirrers. He was simultaneously the Voice of Control and out of control. He’d get in all kinds of escapades and could be found hanging out with the hippies and the punks in the right eras. That was part of the old system too. The ABC was an enlightened despot, as with the BBC, but with that tropical fever of the colonial administration.

In the 90’s Dibble got into computers and Internet. He probably was that 15 year old girl you thought you were chatting up on ICQ.

Richard Morecroft was like the ‘new doctor’, you know, when you grudgingly accept a younger reincarnated Time Lord and only realise how much you’d got used to him when he finally gets the shaft. Morecroft only lasted 20 years …

Must have been the flying fox he kept hidden under the news desk.

Now here’s a bit of weird shit. So I am reading about Dibble. Any cultured person would be, no doubt you already have. The odd thing is that a short while ago, out of the blue, I had a compulsion to read about Dibble. In times past we’d question what was meant by ‘a short while ago’ and did I really do so or is this just confabulation?

But browsers have memories too. On the 7th Dec at 9.23pm for some reason I did a search for ‘James Dibble’ and read his bio on Wikipedia. About a newsreader that last appeared in 1983 and I don’t think I had thought about him in quite a long time. Why?


  • I am psychic about long retired television news readers. No.
  • He made a final mental broadcast from his death bed for all true viewers. Like it, but no.
  • I had posted on YouTube a cut up of the new ABC news theme I did in 2002 and it reminded me about the old news intro and consequentially James Dibble. Then he dies days later.

Sadly it’s number three. Jung would be well pleased, as it reinforces his ideas on synchronicity. As would Fort. But no psychic prowess required. Damn.

Hi Tom,

I may have posted this to you before, or to one of the Twister forums. Before you write me off as another Twister Loon, please check this link (one of Dibble’s ramblings/narrations with Russell Guy).

I’m sure you have a copy – but just in case it is lost in the archives….


Lyle (Rhizomic)