“Is there really a magazine called Homeopathy Today?” asked Violet Towne, when she saw me putting together this post. I’m afraid to say, dear Cowpokes, that the answer is yes, there is. Will they ever really feature our patron on the cover? Only time will tell. All we can say for sure is that homeopathy is so utterly bonkers that literally any nutso idea you can think of is a completely feasible candidate.

Well then, let’s not tarry. Yes, another year has vertiginously whirled past and the Cow keeps meandering along, even though blogging is apparently dead (or so I’m told) and everyone now hangs out on Facebook. Which is also dead (or so I’m told) and now everyone hangs out on Snapchat and WhatsApp and Twitter. It has to be said, that I’ve slacked off somewhat from blogging over this last year as I’ve sensed the drifting away from the form. I can’t tell whether it’s a general ennui that’s to blame, or whether I’ve become less interesting with my posts, or if it’s just the way things go. No matter – I continue to do what I’ve always done with Tetherd Cow, which is, as you know, to pen thoughts and observations as I see fit, generally for my own amusement, and sometimes serendipitously to the entertainment of others.

I’ve had a pretty good year, as it happens, with much creative satisfaction. Among other things, I completed a very successful crowdfunding campaign for my Watching Europa project, took a trip to the NSW country town of Parkes where I spoke about my artwork and participated in a wonderful kids’ imaginative adventure, and, recently, finished the commission of a new musical work for the 25th anniversary of the atmospheric music radio programme Ultima Thule (which will premiere this month).

I’m glad to say that the Cow’s readership still trickles along at around a hundred people. A good dozen read the posts regularly without commenting, and another dozen of you participate reasonably vocally in the comments. The remaining fifty percent or so tune in haphazardly, but regularly, evidently amused enough to stick around. ((A special shout-out to the NSA! Way to go dudes!)) To you all I offer my thanks – your friendship visible and invisible is a fun part of my life. I hope the coming year treats you well, and that you continue to find a few spare minutes every now and then to stop by the Cow.

But enough of all that, let’s not stand on ceremony! Believe it or not, today we’ve arrived at the 9th Annual Rasputin Poetry Contest! ((Technically the 7th I suppose, since the inaugural year and the following weren’t actually declared as such. The fact is indisputable, however, that the poems have been flying for 8 years.)) There won’t be many of you by now who don’t know what that means, but, for the record, everyone should refresh themselves with The Rules.

Let the jousting commence! (And let’s see ANYONE compose a worthwhile limerick in 140 characters! #suckonthattwitter)

[One small apology – I’m still encountering some kind of data overload on the TCA servers, which means page reloads can sometimes be slow. Please bear with any lagging. I’ve been trying to fix this problem for the best part of a year but we’re still stymied. The whole thing has something to do with the fact that the Cow has now been running for over a decade and has a whopping database. I can remedy it instantly by moving up to a VPN, but it’s a rather costly solution for something that is really only a hobby. In 2014 I’ll be looking at other possible ways to resolve it.

Also, the Comment Moderation has become somewhat Draconian of late, so if you post something and it doesn’t appear immediately, email me and I’ll whitelist you. I’ll be monitoring all through New Year’s Day, so as to allow the festivities to have some snap.]

Since robots have been in the news a bit lately, I thought this year I would get my robot to write you all a little Christmas Poem. I’m not entirely sure he understands the concept of Christmas, so much, but I think you’ll agree he captures the spirit pretty damn well.

A Merry Yuletide to you all, wherever you may be and however you may choose to spend the festive season!


If you’re so inclined, you can make your own robot-composed poem here.


Faithful Acowlytes. If you’re reading this, then the world didn’t end in 2012. Oh, I know the Mayan calendar supposedly had us all vaporizing on December the 21st, but hey, I’m prepared to give those Mayans a little headroom. By anyone’s reckoning, January 1st 2013 by the Gregorian calendar is a fair margin of error, right?

Of course, this was about the kajillionth time the world has ended recently anyway, so the Mayans had their thunder stolen somewhat by Harold Camping et al last year (and the year before that, and a couple of years before that…) and so looked a little tawdry in the End Times Predictions stakes. But enough of all that world-ending malarkey. It’s not like that’s going to be a problem any time soon is it? My it’s warm here today.

Despite the constant preoccupation with End Times scenarios, I had a pretty good 2012 all in all. I know the Cow hasn’t been as active this year, and that’s for many reasons, but is mostly to do with a fairly busy work schedule on my part. It’s not for want of subject matter that’s for sure. The world continues to be full of Cow-worthy events – so full in fact that I have about two or three dozen ideas for Cow posts in my scrapbook, if only I had the time to get around to them. These next few months we’ll be examining a machine that lets you talk to ghosts, stones that make your hifi sound better, more wacky antics from our friends the robots and another wonderful contender for stupidest and most ineffectual pest gadget on the planet. So be sure you stick around.

For now, though, let me wish you all the best things for 2013, and thank you sincerely for your friendship and repartee through 2012. The Cow continues to be one of the best fun things in my life, and without my readers, that would not be so.

But let’s not tarry any longer – I know what you’ve all tuned in for… As you can see, this year I’ve roped in Sir Christopher Lee to help with the festivities. He’s a pretty good sport having even recently participated in a heavy metal Christmas album, so I just know he’s going to rise to the occasion for today’s event. If you’re puzzled as to what’s going on here (and what goes on every year on January 1st at Tetherd Cow) you might want to familiarize yourself with The Rules, and then dive right in. I expect solid participation from the lot of you!

And I apologize to Joey – this isn’t the easy lob out of the ballpark that I hinted it might be last year. Thinking caps on my friends! Make the Bard envious!

Happy New Year!

Rasputin 2012

[Click to embiggen]

Ah, Acowlytes, Cowmrades and Cowpokes all! Welcome to the passing of another year on Tetherd Cow Ahead. It really doesn’t seem like a whole year since the last Rasputin Competition, does it? That’s because it wasn’t! Haha. I was just testing you – as you will recall, last year’s comp ran a little bit late, owing to me being snowbound (and workbound) in the good ol’ US of A (and that doesn’t seem like a whole year ago either, I have to say). But this year, the pageant is right on time. I thought I’d better make sure it was, because as you all know, the world ends in 2012 ((True, it did ‘end’ several times last year as well and we’re still all here, but this time it’s for real! How could the Mayans – a primitive and superstitious culture that tore out people’s hearts for fun – possibly be wrong?)) and that could be anytime from today onward. ((The Mayans themselves didn’t actually predict the world would end in 2012, in case you didn’t know that. To them, it was an unimaginably distant future time, and the truth is that their calendar, like all calendars, had to end sometime.))

This year, we hark back to the origins of the Competition somewhat, so I suggest that a little refresher might be in order. I recommend it to newcomers at least. In fact, I suggest that newbies and old hands alike might like to go back and peruse previous years to get some idea of the playing field. Here, and here were pretty good years I seem to remember…

The rules, as always, can be found here.

OK, well the only thing that remains now is for me to wish you all a very Happy New Year. As I’ve said on many occasions, the Cow is nothing if not the sum of its parts, and some of those important parts are indisputably all of you, my dear Acowlytes. I hope you will keep on visiting the Cow through 2012 and keep on making it the swell party it is.

Oh… I nearly forgot!

Let the Celebrity Penis Wars commence!

When it comes to poemin’ the handiest bookmark I have is Rhymezone. Imagine my puzzlement when today I went looking for some rhymes for the word ‘free’.

Cod? Huh?

(It took me several minutes to figure it out).

The blogosphere is a funny place, defined as it is by ephemeral digital bits that flit around the planet at speeds that were once inconceivable, and turn up on luminous screens as words and pictures of pretty much every imaginable sort. At this point in time there are probably somewhere in the vicinity of 200 million blogs on the web, ((It’s actually hard to get an exact figure. This number is based on a best-guess estimation from Technorati and Google. It’s probably an underestimate if all foreign-language blogging is accounted for.)) and although the boom years of blogging have probably passed, the number is still growing.

Of course, of these 200 million offerings, barely a hand full are worth attending to, as we all know. And even of these, most settle into the well-worn, usually pedestrian, reiterations of the kind of media that we’ve had for centuries: magazines, news reports, gossip, diaries and opinionated grumblings.

In my opinion, the real potential of blogging has been overlooked by all but a very special few. Joey Polanski, or ‘Sir’ Joey as he is known around these parts, is one of those special few. Or, I should say, was one of those special few, for as many of you already know, a couple of days back, Joey brought down the curtain on his blog The Joey Polanski Show. I watched the lights go out in the JPS theatre with the greatest of sadness, because over the years, the flitting digital bits that have made their way to my screen from JPS Central have formed themselves into something quite remarkable: a friend. ((And a strange and wonderful kind of friend; the person who I know in my head as ‘Joey Polanski’ is a fiction concocted by a real person. I’m sure there’s a lot of that real person in Joey Polanski’s character, but I am always aware that ‘Joey’ does not exist in any corporeal way. And yet, I still conceive of him as a friend. What a remarkable a magic trick that is!)) When I started blogging, I would never have thought something like that possible. Now Joey’s retirement is certainly not the same as if he suddenly disappeared and I never knew what happened – indeed, I even had warning that the Show was going to fold. But it does leave me with the feeling that an actual real friend has left town and that when I wander past his place all I’ll see from now on is windows with drawn shades and cobwebs forming under the eaves.

I think I do understand Joey’s reasons for closing up the show though. Sometimes a thing just runs its course, and the time becomes right to leave it be. I can’t imagine that happening at The Cow just yet, but I know I couldn’t absolutely rule out the possibility. Whatever the reasons, Sir Joey says that even though the theatre has gone dark, the old hoofer isn’t averse to a special appearance now and then and I hope that’s so.

I said before that Joey was one of a special few that, in my opinion, understood the real potential of blogging. The way I see it, anybody can write a diary, but it takes skill, and humour and prescience to understand the idea that a blog works best as a two-way street. This, indeed, is one of the reasons I think that the traditional media is having so much trouble with their presence on the net – they don’t understand the fundamental appeal of being an active part of the thing you’re reading. ((The Guardian gets it – there is an increasing involvement of readers in the Guardian site. The comments on many articles rage into enormously entertaining debates, and there are Guardian photography and writing competitions – active communities that feel like they are part of The Guardian world. Contrast that with Rupert Murdoch’s cloistered communities, dotted with doddering old fogeys who are wondering why the Letters pages are so empty all of a sudden.)) That was one of the very first things that attracted me to The JPS – even when I first started visiting YEARS ago, there was a constant amusing, sometimes hilarious, banter going on. It was like wandering into a party in full swing, and being handed a beer at the door.

The best thing was that Joey started coming to my parties too, and brought some of his infectious irreverent humour with him, and I know you’ll all agree that his shtick in the comments of some posts has often been more entertaining than the posts themselves. On more than one occasion I’ve even had to step back into the shadows and let Polanski and Atlas steal the stage entirely, and indeed, those two guys are responsible for big chunks of Cow Lore. It is without doubt a situation of the sum being greater than the parts.

Joey’s Shelf will remain permanently installed at The Cow. It’s in the basement (which I confess, is prone to flooding) but I do make sure that Sister Veronica dusts Joey’s trophies every now and then, and removes any of the crap that Atlas has dumped there. I urge you to visit The Shelf from time to time as a sort of homage to Joey. You never know what you’ll find.

Joey, thanks for all the good times over at the JPS. Thanks for the laughs and the pomes. And thanks, above all, for getting it.

So, as this sad era comes to a close, only one thing remains to be said:

Sir Joey Polanski: The Cow Salutes You!

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