Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Music Shuffle Thing AGAIN...

Do the shuffle thing with your music machine... yada yada, you know the story.

Need You Tonight: INXS (Like the taxi driver saying tonight, "You need girl?")

Dollars And Cents: Radiohead

My Heart Belongs To You: Hayley Westenra

Tolerance Levels: Hilltop Hoods

Hunter: Bjork

Mornington Crescent: Belle and Sebastian

Poison Arrow: ABC

After The Rain Has Fallen: Sting

WHAT IS 2+2?
Ulysses "With A Gentle Finger He He Felt Ever So Slowly The Hair Combed Back Above His Ears": James Joyce (audiobooks count, yeah?)

Angel Of Harlem: U2

Suffragette City: David Bowie

A Space Boy Dream: Belle And Sebastian (Again? I haven't even heard this!)

It's In Our Hands: Bjork

Nothin': Robert Plant & Alison Kraus

You Shook Me All Night Long: AC-DC

(From the flatmate on Facebook)

Current number of songs, etc... on the iPod: a measly 4,652.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Burger? Go Grill'd...

We went out for a very nice hamburger in Melbourne last week, not so much because we are especially huge-meat eaters, but because one of my son's schoolmates did the distinctive thematic art work (unsigned and unacknowledged) on the website, on the menus and on the walls. They continue the cute naivete he has always had - I even recognized his style from some of the notes and sketches my son had in the house 12 or so years ago.


It tries to be very trendy and emo (whatever that means) - and has had some mixed reviews but I certainly enjoyed my Bada Bing! Burger as it was spicy and not too meaty. I hate those huge burgers so thick that they taste like a they have been made with the bloodied sawdust from the butcher's floor...

The chips were good though some had been triple fried, or even more.


Anyway - off for a martini.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Phew! Now I Can Rest Easy...

Nearly half of Americans believe that heaven is open for all good people, no matter WHAT their religion - even entrenched godless atheists like


Addendum: Oh hang on, they said GOOD people!...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Post Xmas

With the day finally finished, the mad, hectic 'organization' of it all over, guests gone, most of the dishes done, but the dining table(s) still arrayed with sparkling green, deep-red and silver bunting, still taunting with erect candles and their gothic veniform drippings, some forgotten half-empty bowls of gravy, cranberry sauce, sugar… E@L comes in from a few minutes in the back-yard and sits for a final drink. A softie, dry ginger. Jeff Buckley's arrangement of 'Halleluiah' is playing softly in the background.

The general run of the benevolent hereditary sarcasm that had peppered the day with shouts of laughter and with raised eyebrows, winks, smiles, smirks and guffaws, had ballooned everybody's mood.

Cries of "Nice one, Gordon" and protestations of "Now look here, Ramsay," only generate a "Get the fuck out of my fucking kitchen," response to the chattering ladies. The F-Word comes to the kitchen again.

If it isn't Gordon Ramsay, it's Nigella, or sometimes a mix of the two that the self-proclaimed sous-chef (under mum) of the day is channeling. That someone approaches the crowd around the cheese and pre-dinner drinks table and states, "Now I want you to know love you all, you are my special darlings, but if anyone touches the oven temperature again, they are fucking dead, OK?"

Yes, Gordon cooks Nigella's semolina-bruised roast potatoes in lard, and this year he is determined to get it right. Even if it means swearing in front of mum!

And the jokes and laughs continue. Luckily the one non-family guest is a comedian by trade and falls easily into the taunting and cross-table conversations.

Adrenalin and coffee, beer, champagne cocktails (just Moet and Cointreau), a Brown Bros Pinot Grigio, a Mt Edelstone Shiraz, a quick hit of bronchospasm inducing back-yard cricket - yowser, over the fence E@L, 6 and out!

And so E@L was firing on all cylinders. Who knows, who remembers where he went, whom he ran down on the way…?

And so here he records a hodge -podge of snippets - no apologies for mis-hearings, mis-quotations, grammatical and artistical corrections or even outright inventions - it's all for the blog hits!


"Ignatius Loyola as a childhood hero? What, was Torquemada not an option?"


"Why are the heterosexual couples just living together and all the gays and lesbians trying to get married?"

"So, whatever happened to 'Nature Boy' across the road?"
" 'Nature Boy'?" - comedian b-f does a fairly good impersonation of The Toxic Avenger… (He'd already popped some plastic laurel leaves around his brow and set his face into a mask of divine acceptance and forgiveness for a fairly good Jesus Of The Sacred Heart… His next routine will be a Family Christmas Lunch for sure.)

"But aren’t you a pilot?"
"Haven’t you been paying attention for the last 20 years? What am I everybody?"
"Radio-ologistical, X-ray-sound, or something…?"
"But you're always talking about travelling, I thought you were a pilot."
"Yeah, so the only person in a plane is the pilot."
"Well, you could be a hostie!"

"I think there's too much sarcasm." Said seriously.
"I don’t think there's enough." Said with a straight face.


All happy Christmases are the same, and we love repeats of a good TV series, of a good movie, of a successful day, but an unhappy Christmas is very unusual round here. But they can happen, for some.

After all the personality peccadilloes have been dissected and the accusers in their turn accused and demolished - all in the good family fun of character assassination - with mixed emotions and bloated, churning stomachs, people start to head off home.

However a flatness descends after one or two words are spoken amongst the last ones standing (or sitting), not so much in accusation as in disappointment, about a certain character trait. True words, plainly spoken, in response an outrageously provocative taunt, but with no veneer of sarcasm to make them easily laugh-off-able, with a hint of bitterness and suppressed anger that just makes one wonder what happened to the pleasant ferocious sarcasm of just a few minutes ago. Ouch, E@L takes a hit - a cartoon in his Christmas present book: 'hey, kids, these are real arrows!' Revenge? Bitterness, was it?

Inter-family barbs can scratch and tear with their sarcasm, but to the thick-skinned it is all merely a series of tickles, however one special person still has the ability to injure... Not everyone heard it, no-one comments, it was part of a general multi-voice chorus, perhaps it wasn't meant to be taken so seriously after all.

But suddenly a rent in the balloon of mood has brought E@L out of his personal stratosphere… and when the air is out, it is out…


And so E@L, who obviously can give it but can't take it, lies supine, flat on a bench in the dark and waits, facing up, letting his eyes adjust to the backyard at night. The sky is clear above and the moon not yet risen. A swathe of stars cuts across the canopy. Immensely far away. So fucking BIG. How BIG is this universe? How long would it take for him to go there, to see that little speck of twittering light up close, to have proof that it is actually a mind-numbingly immense roaring furnace, a relentless energy factory that has been churning up hydrogen and spitting out helium and all the low mass atoms for billions of years. But it is just a dot from here, a dot that can only be seen when someone bothers to find a dark yard at night and to look up. An immensely powerful thing, massive, for all intents eternal. If it came closer it would fry all our lives, swallow the entire planet, crush our solar system, no disaster movie would be big-enough, yet no-one knows or cares about this star. "Now" here is 900 years ago there. It has no impact on how we live today, on how we get our roast potatoes crisp.

Yes that giant star by Orion, it is Rigel, or Aldebaran? E@L always gets them mixed. He looks away, toward the Seven Sisters, but slightly off center, to see these soft muses more clearly.

How large it all is. And of course, how small is E@L in this broiling cold emptiness of the universe. What impact is anyone making on any of this? What could it possibly matter?

E@L comes inside, pulls out a dry ginger to washes down his medications - nerve growth, pain relief, arterial relaxation, inflammation suppression, cholesterol inhibition, anti-histamine - and sits at the incompletely cleared table.

His mother wanders past on her last trip to the toilet. She gives him a hug and kiss goodnight.

"Thank you darling, you did a marvellous job today."

"Yeah, but I was too loud. Why do I always shout and carry on when I get excited? I can say the nastiest things."

"Oh, don't be silly. You were terrific, it doesn't matter. Everybody loves you."

E@L sighs. All mums say that. (Well, they should.)

It is late, he is tired. The universe doesn’t sleep - matters of stellar matter that don’t matter need to keep on doing meaningless powerful things on a cosmic scale, they have no option but to continue what they started back at the dawn of time - but E@L must ponder deep trivialities and try to sleep…


Have a fucking nice one everybody.


[Addendum - slept like a log...]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wensleydale? Yes? Good, I'll have some Wensleydale! No, I'm MR Wensleydale!

My goodness gracious me, but life is a bundle of busy-ness these solisistic type days, isn't it shoppers?

No time to blog - too busy with the catching up and eating and drinking with people schtick... (Don't ask about the golf.)

BTW - next time you're in Melbourne, don't hesitate to spend a coupla hundred bucks here - the website is terrible, but the girls in the fromagerie are great fun and Jeeeeeezes the cheeses, they are just utterly... The runny epoisses, OMFG!

Don't forget to remind them that "de gustibus non est disputandum" and they'll know E@L did send you thither...


Sunday, December 21, 2008

O minus 5hr 59 mins 5sec

Get ready for a worldwide YES! YES!! YES!!! It's Global Orgasm Day!

Mark Your Calendars
This year we’re synchronizing in the two-hour period around
the Solstice, which falls on Sunday December 21 at 12.04 p.m.
(four minutes after noon) Greenwich Mean Time. So in the U.K., Global-O time will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For those of us in Eastern Summer Tume in Australia, that'd be between 11pm and 1am. ("Wake up honey, it's time we had an orgasm!") For Singapore, 9pm till 11pm, much more reasonable!

Tell your friends to stock up on tissues and hand-cream and to find a good free porno site, it's the day that brings out the GEE! in G-spot!

Focus world orgone energy on peace, unity and underpantsing! All together now! Ooooh, YES!

(big tip to Batbitch)


What If... ?

Around the Christmas table in E@L Mother'sHQ, this question has never arisen. Lot's of thing don't arise around Chistmastime - the dead (that would be Easter), my cousins and his kids who are lying on the couch after eating way too much when a game of backyard cricket is proposed (see above re: raising of the dead), my sense of humour above the waistline - but some things DO arise. The question of what happened to the Harry Belafonte Christmas Tape for example. No amount of searching through the cupboard drawers and those spider-webbed cardboard boxes in the garage (you wonder where I got my hoarding of books thing?) can bring this cassette to light. Why? Has it been hidden? Has it been stolen?

It's one of the many mysteries of this special time of year.


The Ghost Cat is another. Mystery.

Why won't people drink my Christmas Cocktail (with freshly pureed peaches)! Mystery!

How to put more plastic cutting wire into the Wipper-Snipper. Mystery!!

Why, after I bought my mother a new outdoor setting with seating for 12 two Christmases ago and yet she has me repainting the old one (which falls apart under the threat - multiple joint failure - and must be reconstructed by DIY E@L and TBIL's WarStrength power drill)? Mystery!!! (The aching back is no mystery.)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sleeping Around

I estimate that I've stayed in 40 or so different hotels for work trips in the last 18 months. Round it up, maybe more like 50 or even slightly more, as some of the trips may have involved moving from town to town, night by night. I sort of keep track, via expense reports and work schedules but sometimes the dealer-company pays directly so I don’t have any expense, therefore no record. Anyway, point being that sleeping around has put me in a bit over two new beds each month.

Unfortunately, due to the bad feet, foot operation, foot medication, mojo falling, etc… most if not all would have been just E@L in the bed. (It's been a baaaaaad year. I'd put my golf/sex ratio as positive, and I've not played much golf at all. Guess what my New Years Resolution is going to be: a lot more sex, because I can hardly play much less golf!) Whatever.

Last year, William Gibson on his blog showed a montage of photos from one of his book tours - Spook Country I believe (not a fan of this book - the persistent product placements [a parody maybe] put me off after page not many.) The blog, it was cool though, just lots of plain photographs of the beds he slept in on his tour, arranged symmetrically in a largish matrix. He was only in each town one night, so he quickly got a significant portfolio going there. So I thought I'd try it, even though I usually stayed 4-6 nights in the same hotel each trip and would not approach the size of Gibson's montage for a quite a while.

I started in earnest in July '07 but got pretty pissed with the tedious concept eventually, as I kept forgetting to take a picture just often enough to make it all seem a bit of a fizzler. Also, as my camera doesn't do a very wide-angle shot, I could not always stand directly at the end of the bed and get the nice symmetrical shots that Gibson could. Some have my briefcase is on the bed, which was what Gibson did, and some have my suitcase, and in some the beds are unmade. Whatever.

So tonight, on holidays in Geelong, getting ready to write my annual list of 10 New Things for 2008, I pulled all of the bed shots together: not so bad really. I've got, what, 15 - 16 beds, about a third of the possible number. There's a 4x4 matrix practically done, or however Blogger pulls them up. (There may be more bed pics in my iPhone, which I didn’t bring with me, as no 3G.) Checking through the pics I have on this laptop and in my camera, in preparation for uploading, I notice that four of the hotel-beds are from the one trip to Egypt and Libya! LOL! Whatever.

Everybody's gotta have a hobby. No crime in that. Mine is sleeping around.


p.s. GingerNuts, the freaking Ghost Cat, has returned from places metaphysical to my mother's house in order to piss yet again in my old bedroom and piss me off! I nearly choked on the ammonia fumes last night as I went in order to go to bed, I swear by all that is profane, you have no idea, I kid you not, spooky mystic weird! I have moved to my sister's old room.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Job Well Done

My camera offers no solutions to this flood;
I offer images of only what floats past.
My feet are on the ground but it is mud.
The difference between loose and fast
Is obvious to some.

If I paint these mocking pictures (if I was a painter)
What more or less would you expect of me?
If a singer of political songs, must I sing them fainter?
The difference between blind and won't see
Is obvious to some.

So I write my words and string them in a poem
They take up space not on paper, but on screen
Because they no longer can find in print a home.
The difference between heard and seen
Is obvious to some.

Journalist I am not, no politician's mate.
The canary's job is to drop dead - it's a token
Of his contribution - it is more than fate.
But there are no answers when questions are left unspoken
Even that is obvious to some!


This pathetic poetical excursion was inspired by the mrbrown affair, something that still haunts the Singapore blogosphere, the way the reaction to Osip Mandelstam's poem tells us so much about Stalinist Russia. Link 1 Link 2 Link 3

Quotes from Hope Against Hope:

Was it just coincidence that none us ever broke the rules of Soviet etiquette? M. [Mandelstam] for example, didn't observe them at all. He had no self-control - he joked, shouted, hammered on closed doors, raged and fumed and never ceased to express astonishment at what was going on around us. P289

"Stalin doesn’t have to cut heads off," said M. "They fly off by themselves like dandelions." P301

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ouch, That Really Hertz! The "Benefits" Of #1 Club Gold

After surviving the blistering heat of Brisbane and the town's "interesting" streetlife on Saturday night (I only went out to get a small plate of sushi [another story] and nearly died [of embarrassment, at being an Australian]!), I went up to the Hertz counter to rent a car at the airport in chilly old Melbourne when I arrived last night. Before signing up for anything I checked the breakdown of costs. The Airport Commission's tax on renting from there would have added $240 to the total cost of rental, which was already $1200, so, what did I do? I took a $60 taxi ride to my son's place. What is this, a stupid face?

Sunny morning Monday, but still chily, I connect to to book from online; I'll take a car from downtown Melbourne, thanks, another $30 taxi ride (or $4 on the train - North Richmond station is right outside my son's flat). I choose an Aurion. The total cost for the 14 days is calculated at only $502. Woah, lucky I didn't take one at the airport, eh?

Then, when the automated form asks for my details, I realise that I haven't logged in as a #1 Club Gold customer to receive any and all those exceptional benefits and discounts that are continually on offer and make the $60USD annual membership such an essential expenditure for any smart world traveller. (end sarcasm)

Hey, let's do that. What's the worst that could happen?

THIS is the worst!

OUCH, mother of all toe-fuckers! The rental charge has jumped to $2226! J. Herman Christ, I could BUY myself a car for that! Outa nowhere, an extra $1700! Same car, same rental period! Evidence: the benefits of Hertz #1 Club Gold membership! Supremely NOT!

What the hell is going on? Three wildly different estimates for the same service.

a) I am never going to log-in again! b) I am never renting from the airport again. c) I am cancelling my Hertz membership.

It's cheaper just to book online with any old car rental company...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Shock Doctrine, Praise The Lawd!

"It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us. When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors." (emphasis mine)
- THE REV. A. R. BERNARD, pastor of New York’s largest evangelical congregation, on the economic downturn.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Coincidental Quote Of The Day

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.
- Charles Baudelaire

I kid you not, it be a conspiracy. I put up a cynical Baudelaire quote, The Quotations Page (actual daily quotes will have changed by the time you click on the link, obviously) puts up a cynical Baudelaire quote. Sometimes I feel like I am running this universe by example.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Heartwarming Thought For The Day

The unique and supreme pleasure of making love lies in the certitude of doing evil.
- Charles Baudelaire, Intimate Journals


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Natural (not)

So there we all were, playing Tonk at Indy's place. It took us several hands before we got the hang of the "going down" strategy, but it certainly seemed to be the best way to play the game.

- Your deal, said Mercer, handing me the pack.


When I was a kid at school I was lucky. Talented, smart - lucky to be brilliantly talented and smart, I mean. Counting came easy. Finger-painting was a breeze. Reading was not so much difficult as boring (until my Grade 3 teacher took me aside and introduced me to Huysman's "A Rebours" and to the marvels of the 19thC French realism; Baudelaire, Flaubert, Wilde, Dr Seuss), and my writing and English composition skills were, let's face it, exceptional. Exceptionally messy hand-writing anyway - a left-hander with the mirror of a classic right-handed grip, I dragged oceans of fresh bright blue ink across those pages of exquisite prose composition with my shirt, my fingers, my palm... I reeked of squid ink.

"the skin-diver floated through this colourful animation of glory" - from a Grade 5 piece I still recollect getting called out to read aloud. However, I was unable to explain the meaning of the word 'animation' to the class. Like cartoons, I clumsily said. I FELT the meaning, I KNEW it, but could not say it, I was too embarrassed by the attention.

Overwheeningly* proud of my left-handedness, I never compromised with that dinzy, curled, over-handed grip of some fussy molly-dookers who want to actually read what they have written (or whose mothers had berated them for ink-stained cuffs and that deeply ingrained indigo in the ball of their hands which took scrubbing with carbolic soap to eradicate). Tidy? Moi? Who gives a fuck? I dipped my pen into the open inkpot in the hole at the top of the wooden desk and smeared my way into the nun's good books with my dimpled smile and my curly white hair and my gifted compositions if not my public-speaking.

Running - I was fastest in the class, not counting the girls who had hormonal thick-thighed advantages by Yr 6.

Swimming - I was that year's Captain of the School Team which had dominated the annual splash and drown inter-school competition for unbroken stretches of time.

Cricket - as No3 batsmen (and Captain) I nearly took off the umpire/teacher's head with a straight driven 6 (still my favorite - read "only" - stroke). I opened the bowling for Grade 4 when we played against the Protestant school as well. I was taken off after only for two overs, but I opened!

Football - I was 2nd Vice-Captain of the blue team, only because the Captain, John Dangerfield, was a slightly more nimble around the packs. And he could kick. And handball. And mark. The 1st Vice-Captain took my place on the bench for the second half of the match. Still wondering about that...

Popularity - I nudged out the said JD for the Class and School Captain (boy) because he was too quiet. I was loud, cheeky and funny.

And to top it off, I was dux of the primary-school - not counting Dorothy Sheedy, who was (is still, I believe) a girl.

Yep, I was a natural. Sport, academia. You name it. Academia, sport.

But then came secondary school, where someone decided we should play cards during lunch-time...


- Your deal, said Mercer, handing me the pack.

I began to sweat.

I held the deck in my left hand and began to mix them up into groups with my right, what we card-players call shuffling, but misaligning them for some reason: this new deck was sort of sticky, or too smooth or something. I put the deck on the table, tried to cut it and do that spiffle trick where the corners of two half decks flip into each other. Four or five sections clumped together, sorta, hey, that's close enough. OK I did not reassemble the pack perfectly cleanly. It looked like I had dropped it and not bothered to align the cards to the long sides. Why did they do that? Whatever.

OK, it was THEN that I dropped it. No, sorry I only dropped half of the deck. But no damage done; after a minute or two we had all the cards back again, facing the same way this time.

Hey presto! - nothing up my sleeve except a laugh! I shuffled them again, clump, clump, just to be sure!

I dealt out the five cards to each player with a deft flick of the wrist and the cards flew straight, sorta, well, not exactly all over the place but not in the absolute direction of the person I was aiming them at either. Smugly, being able to arithmeticise my dealing so that everyone got the same (and correct) number of cards (unlike others & I was good at counting when I was young, did I mention that?), and with a minimalistic flourish (not sure if everyone saw it), I placed the rest of the pack near the centre of the table and turned over the top four, oops, one card, for the discard pile.

I looked up. Everyone was watching me with incredulous intensity.

- You are a total klutz, said Indy, slowly.

Mercer had just rolled his eyes. They seemed stuck. All white, it was weird. Lum, the fourth player (whoa actually knows the rules for Texas Hold 'Em, which we played later), was speechless.

- What? I asked.


- These are SUCH shit cards, said Mercer after a few turns.

As we picked up from the deck in the centre with each of our turns, the discard pile magically filled with cards in numerical and suit order. Amazing how my shuffling had managed to bring them all back together.

What are the chances of that happening, hey?

You wouldn't bet on it. Unless I was the dealer.


* someone actually used this word in a pizza parlor earlier that night! (cough Mercer cough), he of the four-card deal.

ToastBox Are ToFus!

The toefucking bastards at the ToastBox in Changi Terminal 3 - yes, you skinny bastard, stop looking at me type - tried their best to fuck up my Set 1 order: kaya toast, kopi and two runny eggs.

Truly this is the lowest of the low in Kopi/Kaya chains. Owned I believe by the Food Republic group, well whomever - they should know better.

- Set 1, please
- Set 1? The lady looks at me for a second. An ang moh, ordering a breakfast set!
- Set 1.
- Wan runny egg, soft bore?
- Yes, please.
- No, soft bore?
- Runny eggs, please.
- Wat u wan drink?
- Kopi.
- Kopi?
- Kopi.
- Hokay. Fort Wenny.

I pay with $50 and she gives me change from $10. She insists that I only gave her a ten. I check my wallet, maybe I did give her a ten, but I'm wary. I'm watching you, bitch! She passes me my eggs directly over the cashier section of the counter. The eggs come in a paper cup, like ice-cream, not on a plate where you can swish them around, dig the crisp, crumbly (more dehydrated than toasted) toast into the yolk…

I move down to the kopi section and see the kopi-man moistening the bottom of the paper cup with the rich dark brew. He fills it with water, stirs vigorously and then has the audacity to pass it to me.

- Kopi? I ask.
- Kopi, lite.
- No. I want kopi, normal kopi. Fill it up to here, just a splash of water. What's this piss you are giving me?

He makes another cup, condensed milk, a long pour of kopi, a splash of hot water, stir, stir, stir. I look ferociously at him. (Did I tell everyone that I'm off the Cymbalta: everything that was serenely amusing now pisses me off majorly. Thanks, thanks - no flowers please, I'm allergic to pleasant sentiment - but it's good to be back home.)

Kopi-man looks surly back at me and passes the paper cup kopi. I mumble under my breath something along the lines of "Make what the customer ordered, tofu, not what you think he might like because of his race."

I move down to pick up my limply soft, pre-prepared kaya toast. The butter has melted. Is it even butter? I pick up the paper boxlet. There is only ONE layer of toast!

What the fuck!

These tofus have to be exposed to the world for the crimes there are committing against the Supreme Singapore/Malay/Chinese Breakfast Tradition!


Monday, December 08, 2008

Rude Scrabble

No built-in spell-checker obviously with this game. We were all crying with laughter until we all passed out on the floor.

Please explain:


OK, back to the packing.



Having told perpetual ex-bloggerMercer that I was playing Texas Hold 'Em the other night (friends had bought a $10 set including betting chips in a Chinatown gift shop) he felt compelled to invite me over for a game of Tonk tonight.

I naturally assumed that this was some form of heavily ambiguous sexual merry-go-round that residents of the East Coast of Singapore hardly bother to fret about anymore, it is so rampant and they are so profligate... I wouldn't know: I live in Region 11, we can't afford sex because of the rent.

Instead, much to my relief and a little to my disappointment, it turns out that Tonk is the card game that Croaker, et al play to while away the long hours between trudging through mystical deserts and dispatching netherworld demons in Glen Cook's series of sword/sorcery war/fantasy novels about The Black Company, a bunch of mercenaries with good(ish) hearts who hardly ever kill anyone or thing that doesn't need it.

It seems a bunch of anorak wearing trainspotters with duodecimal dice at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society have such pathetic little lives that they have worked out the rules from clues in the books. (Actually it was just one clever dude called John Speno, but where's the fun in being honest?) So tonight, instead of packing my clothes and meds for Brisbane and points south, I'll be "Going Down" (now you see why I thought it was a sexual thing), or not, for the evening.

Texas Hold 'Em one night. Rude Scrabble the next. Tonk to follow.

Have I told you guys lately how my social life is gurgling around a fucking vortex of mid-life-crisis waiting-to-die philosophical trivialities?


I had this really great neologism/pun in my head the other day. World shatteringly funny. Forgotten. Needed to tell you this, why?


Verbal UnTaboo

Fuck I have a massive headache.

It really hurts to look at the screen.

Or the keyboard.

Been drunking Guinness, sake, beer, gin/tonic, sherry (!), Black Russians...

Came home with Indy and his g-f and found that Izzy was still up.

Soo-oo-oo we played Rude Scrabble - "toefuckers" is a word, right?

(NTS delete this tomorrow morning...)


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Verbal Taboo

Molly had been made an offer. She was a different girl now, changed since the days when she would not have let a heartbeat pass before saying 'Yes' to such an offer. Rumour has it she had said 'Yes' in the past.

She hesitated this time, called me. What should she do?

Previously, like many young people - hey, many people old and young would still like to be innocent (or not), cheeky and curious - she would answer quickly in the positive to any offer of excitement or challenge, anything that might provoke a bit of outrage and controversy, anything that would draw attention to herself. Then she would rationalize her decision at length, with quite sophisticated arguments, later on.

It's what we all do. We respond instantly with our limbic system (the anatomically lower, central, evolutionarily older parts of the brain) we rationalize cerebrally (with the more recently developed frontal cortex mainly) afterwards whatever the fuck we've just done. It's been proven, it's been written up.

Sure, Freudians, father never speaks to her, but as he has never spoken to anyone why should she feel special about that? I love to read psychoanalysis books and novels and case-studies, but they don’t convince me. The full talking cure doesn’t work as the words we 'choose' to describe a situation are generated so far post hoc, their tenuous links to those irrational motives are way too chaotic to be accurately derived. A meteorologist tries to isolate the guilty butterfly by analyzing a destructive hurricane.

The offer was financially attractive for a poor student, for anyone, it just required a couple of hours in a hotel. Any girl who liked to fuck would jump at it, right? Escorting. Just be an escort. Show them around. Then fuck them. If you never sleep alone, pick up guys left and right, if you like to fuck most days, what's the big deal about getting some cash for something you usually do for kicks? It's essentially the same as getting taken out for dinner and then fucking on a first date. Food and/or money. What's the big deal?

The word was 'escort'. It had a PG rating. Was family safe.

But she said it was the other words that slowed her down.

The other words for the same act, they drew her up to a certain line. That was the line between acceptable and unacceptable. Between SACRED, when everything was - to her rational mind - natural, her choice, her decision under her control (but haven’t I just argued that they are not?), and PROFANE when it was an arranged situation, when it really was a decision, not an impulse.

We had once drunkenly blathered on together over whether people should live life according to their natural impulses or to resist such initial impulses and basic urges and seek to CHOOSE by an attempt at some rational thought process what should be our actions. Surely being spontaneous was the easy way, was my argument.

She disagreed, said it was tough to thumb your nose at public condemnation for acting as you feel, as you know at a basic level was right. Doing what we are programmed to do...

But the first thing that comes to your head is not always the right thing, like revenge, and anger, like invading Iraq when Saudi Arabia is the problem. I loved to quote Katherine Hepburn in 'The African Queen' to her: "Nature, Mr Allnut, is what we were put on this planet to rise above." Our strong reasoning power is not only what separates us from the lower apes, has made us so successful, so powerful in the world.

She loved to kid me for being a old man, with an old man's thinking. Why is it all about power? It's destructive, all this power, too.

I said I like trying to be scientific about things. I know I am not, but I try to be sensible.

Being sensible doesn’t make sense to her.

Yet it does for me. It is a goal to aspire to, like truth. That why I collect all these books, to get enough evidence to make a decision about the truth.

She washed hands of that question… Truth is something we can never find.


Words. Take some of the expressions we use for sexual congress:

Intercourse. Doing it. Vaginal-penile contact. Copulation. Making babies. Naughty weekend. Horizontal tango. Making love. Bonking. Shagging. Screwing. Fucking. (I resist the temptation to get too jokey here.)

They all describe the same act. They all are representative of that same act, of people either inserting or being inserted into, flesh and flesh, juices, muscles, sweat, grunting, pleasure. Basic stuff. The stuff that maintains the population. Sex. Fucking.

Why are some words acceptable to describe or name the copulative act and yet others taboo? Why do we draw a line somewhere along that list and say 'OK', 'Not OK'? Here be PG. Here be R-rated.

Molly doesn't hesitate to call someone a cunt, a fucker. She doesn’t hesitate to say out loud in a crowded restaurant, "I was fucking this guy on the couch the other night when my flatmate walked in…" Doesn't hesitate to talk about big Western cocks and small Asian tits in her public writings.

But when we discussed the power words of her conflicted decision, she spoke quietly.

Which words? Hooker. Call-girl. Prostitute.


Let me look at something I feel is related.

Why does one of my friends insist on me taking my shoes off when I come to his apartment, even though he knows I have bad feet that require support? (He gets me some indoor slippers.) I haven't been dancing in dogshit, I haven't been sloshing through sewers. His floor gets cleaned often enough, fuck knows his maid has nothing to do most of the day. What difference does it make? It's common thing in Asia of course, a sign of 'respect', not so much in Australia except maybe on a farm, and even then...

'Outside' is one area, where certain things are acceptable, where certain shoes are worn. 'Inside' is another world, where those shoes are not acceptable. Here sacred, there profane, same shoes. Literally 'clean' or 'unclean'. Even though the shoes may be genuinely clean in the bacteriological sense, they are 'unclean' in the moral, religious sense. The conditioned response to a broken taboo is a sense of revulsion, or disgust. In many religions breaking such a taboo requires a cleansing ritual of some type.


Was it merely words that stopped Molly from agreeing to the offer? Was she happy to be an escort, but wasn't that the same as being a hooker, a prostitute-for-a-day? Did those words make her feel unclean, whereas 'escort' didn't?

What essentially was the difference? she asked.

Control, I said. Control. A prostitute may be trafficked in illegally, coerced into it through drugs or criminals. No choice.

Or poverty, she said. That's why I would be doing it, because I am fucking broke.

But, you have the option of not doing it or not. A lot of the girls in Orchard Towers have no other option, if they are to break out of their poverty, but to hook. You are just looking for a short-term bit of cash. Shit you know I'd lend you money if you really needed it. But if you decide you want to do, then you can go ahead - I've been to OT a few times, I'm not in a position to criticize or moralize.

She thought for a moment. Thanks, but I'd ask the parental unit if I was really desperate for a loan.

Then ask them.

It's not the money. I'd like it, but I want to be outrageous. I've been so boring lately. I want to do something to stimulate my life a bit.

Is it just the words then, not the act? I asked.

Yes, perhaps. It's the concept of being labeled a prostitute, hooker, escort: whatever, it's the same thing. She had decided against it, to turn the offer down.

I wanted to call 'the arranger' - the word 'pimp' upset her as well- to say I'd be happy fuck some lady for that price. Any guy would. As for her, it's her decision for her to make.


I am still uncertain about why she turned it down, I have been thinking about it for a while. I agree that the truth is something we may never find. A truth that is scientific must be dispensable, tossed out when a better truth comes along. Was it really just the words?


To the old (younger) Molly, a decision made rationally was taboo. And here, she didn’t act irrationally. Uncharacteristically, she didn’t say 'Yes' the minute the question was asked. She stopped to think about it instead. She held off and rationalized.

Maybe that rationalization by this older (still young) Molly, the cerebration she used to explain a refutation of the limbic urge in this case, was just a convenient excuse. Those unpleasant, value-laden words were what she decided after the event that had caused her failure to take up the offer.

She wasn't spontaneous, and that wasn't the Molly she thought she knew, wasn't the image she had of herself.

So, to maintain integrity, she had to evoke a verbal, public taboo to explain why she broke her more personal, inner one.

She did a Katie Hepburn. She rose above nature, but would she admit that? Maybe.

Or, as she would say, 'Whatever.'


Friday, December 05, 2008

Report From O'Hare United Business Class Lounge - WTF with WiFi?

The lady with the exceptionally puffy eyelids finally relented and allowed me a card for 24hrs free WiFi access. "It should be free, but it ain't," she said as she handed me a Red Carpet Club password scratch-card.

Because I am flying Economy Class domestic (to connect at International Business on Singapore Airlines in Newark ), not International Business on United Airlines and am not a RED CARD CLUB Gold member, only a SIA/StarAlliance Gold member, the other people in the lounge are allowed to access the WiFi, but not me. I am a second class citizen (well, you knew that) all of a sudden. It provokes one of those petulant throat-choking reactions in me. I read the instruction twenty seven times, and despite realizing my ineligibility by these bloody stupid rules, still push the issue.

Rules were meant to be broken, right ?

What could possibly be the reason for this , does it costs them so much to give everybody free to use the WiFi? Is there a bandwidth issue?

That sympathetic lady with the puffy eyelids (I am talking PATHOLOGY here) though, what a nice person. Ugly though.


Beer must also be paid for. What sort of stupid lounge is this? Why not just sit in a bar downstairs? What's the point of having the SIA/Star Alliance Gold Card? You have to pay for the WiFi, pay for the beer… Muthfucka!


A similar conundrum confused me at Heathrow once. I could use *THEIR* PCs to access the internet for free, but it would cost me money to use *MY* own laptop and the WiFi. WTF?

People just don’t have the right attitude to WiFi in my humble opinion.

Or beer.


In my only free time in Chicago, I went shopping for...

Books and CDs of course.

Grabbed some Buddy Guy that I only had on cassette (where ARE all my cassettes, BTW?), some Wes Montgomery and some Oscar Peterson at the Jazz Record Mart.

The second hand bookshop next was also good. Stuff I'd been meaning to buy at at some stage - some Banana Yashimoto, some Nelson Algren, that controversial book about Rasputin from a coupla years ago - and of course they look like I've owned them for a while...

This is important, right?


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Steak City

Anyone heard of a fillet steak on the bone? I never had. I suppose it's the short side of a t-bone. Bloody lovely piece of dead cow.

Fletchers in Chicago. Recommended before it goes under, the place was almost empty.

Not partying too hard - I blame the weather and the meds and the jet-lag and the long days on my feet at the exhibition and my old age. Today was the last day,


Certainly hope it goes down better than last night's tapas meal at Nacionale 27. We were drinking pomegranate mojitos or something all night and I ordered the BBQ pork as entree (main course). We stayed up drinking for a while, like I said, old, so off to bed round 1. Then about 4am a brute pain in my guts woke me up. Spasm and wind and ... etc...

Imagine living in Asia for 10 years and then getting food poisoning in Chicago.

Luckily it was just a once through issue, back on top already.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Report From Chicago

No problems with luggage. No problems with anything except my feet - I wore thick sock and these shoes are a bit small. Idiot, I haven't worn these shoes for ages and there must have been a reason for that, so why did I pack even them?

RSNA is a bit quiet. OK it's a LOT quiet.

And it's cold outside. Raining, not snowing. I'm too jet-laqgged to do much tonight - it's Sunday evening and happy-hour has started. Might sleep early and save myself for the next few nights.

Let's see if I can restrain myself if someone suggests hitting the bars. Willpower has always been a forte of mine... NOT!


Report From Newark Transit

I've done this flight a few time now. We come in to Newark Liberty with Manhattan Island on the left at twilight, all the tall buildings, the silhouettes, all the lights, the sunset sky, it's pretty amazing. Same tonight. Mostly.

As the plane approaches I can see across over the river to New Jersey (you know she thrills me with all her charms), over the train lines, over some large cloverleaf highway intersection, and then another highway, and we are just above the car park, almost on the runway when the plane kicks back.

Engine whine increases, a screaming almost for a second there and instantly we are climbing, an ascent sharp and unexpected, the ground that was running parallel to me angles away. I see planes at their gates just outside the window, dropping back from us now as we rise and begin to bank into a turn. Is this a joy-ride? What's going on?

Everyone is silent. We have aborted the landing, obviously. I can’t see anybody from inside these giant seats. It's like being in an office cubicle, down below the vision line, like being isolated in a pod. I wonder if everyone is calm, holding their breath. Praying, meditating. That Panadeine in my empty guts has caught fire. We rise back to the cloud line.

The captain comes on, says some only marginally reassuring words about ATC sending back up as there was still a plane on our runway. It wasn't a technical fault at least, not a wheel falling off, or a fire caused by a loose wire in the entertainment system.

(Speaking of that, while looking back from the toilet queue, I notice that the soft over-window down-lights at my pod are also not working.)

This sort of emergency, near miss, incident, whatever you call it, has never happened in the 1000 or so flights I've been on since I started my travelling life. And of course it happens an hour after I draft a blog about my plane crashing.

All together now - there's a little black spot on the sun today, synchronicity...


Report From 14,555km Out Of Singapore

Flying over Manitoba. It's 15 hours into the flight. I can’t open the shade to look out as the sun is blasting right at my window and would stream like an amazing movie effect across the other people who are trying to sleep or watch movies. The Flight-Info screen has this cool shot, one I've not seen before, demonstrating the flight path tracking over the North Pole on the edge of the globe, from Singapore right on the equator, to Newark half way up on the other side.

And then it doesn't. The screen goes blank for a few seconds, maybe 5 to 10. Then a little sign saying 'Digital Signal' comes up… Looks like the TV is losing the signal. Trust me to get a KrisWorld screen with a loose wire somewhere.

This has been happening all through my movies too -

1: Ghost Town (swearing edited out) - Sixth Sense meets Office meets Extras - theme: love conquers all.

2: Love Actually (tits and bums and swearing unedited) - just to hear Bill Nighey's classic line about drugs - theme: love conquers all.

3: In The Valley of Elah - (tits and bums and swearing unedited) - don’t start me on the American flag motif - Tommy Lee Jones doing his one-trick acting act again - themes: war is hell, these kids get fucked up in the head they ain't the men we used to be, we orn'tna be in that Eyeraq, paternal love can’t conquer squat.

4: Death Defying Acts - (no nudity, no swearing) Houdini had a mother complex and Catherine Zeta-Jones is the psychic fetish object - theme: love conquers a lot, but it can’t cure a ruptured appendix.

After watching Ricky Gervais in the first named movie do his usual whiney but lovable schtick as a misanthropic, depressed dentist, I had a crisis of conscience about complaining and so I decided to just hit a few buttons on the handle, or whack the screen lightly with my shoe-heel and eventually it would come back up...

I'm not sure if my actions actually had any effect, but hey...

NEWS FLASH -- Shorted out TV blamed for fire which engulfs SIA Airbus 340-500 as it lands in Newark. "Why didn't someone tell us the Entertainment System was faulty? We would have turned back immediately," says severely injured but still gorgeous stewardess Monica Flewinsky from her hospital bed in New Jersey. Only the crew survived. All the passengers died, she says, because their business class seats were so comfortable they didn’t want to leave the burning wreckage.


Oops, here's Stewardess Flewinsky now, to offer me another diet coke just as I am typing this, so, what the heck, I tell her about the problem with the screen. She waits for a minute or two - of course the screen behaves itself while she is watching! She offers to reset the system, but I say don't worry. She says she will tell the engineer. What a great guy I am! What a nice customer! Saved a plane (3/4) full of business travellers. The screen blanks again.


Wow, shit almighty! I nearly slept in yesterday morning and missed my midday flight to New York for the connection to Chicago! Ironically I was out with some friends till about 3 or so at Howl @ The Moon, the new pick-up joint for 50' Zombie Divorcees (i.e. single-again white females) in Singapore. Scary place for a guy used to seeing loads of darker hued, shorter, more trim-buttocked females as the predominant sexual life-form. I suppose it's good (and ironic like I said) to adjust my eyeballs for the broader arse of Western women as I'll be heading to the Chicago H@TM sometime this week most certainly, AND probably get home about the same o'clock (US Central Time) from there too.

So, yeah this Saturday morning, I woke at 9:45 (Singapore time). I hadn’t packed, was supposed to be at the airport in 25 minutes. Shit. Throw things into my medium sized hard-shelled bag (the one that Emirates lost last week). Whoops, this is not going to work: a) warmer clothes take up more space, b) I am too hung-over/still-pissed to fold my shirts properly, even FIND my shirts. So I went out to the storeroom and grabbed my old fold-up suit-bag from the top shelf, nearly falling off the ladder in the process.

Love that bag. It was a gift from the people at my old company when I left Australia to join their Hong Kong team. I used it for almost exclusively for the first few years, then went for a hard-shelled Samsonite one as I needed more space for gym and swimming gear (trying to lose weight back then too), plus The Mouse would fold all my shirts nicely, so it was no big deal. As the bag was handed to me at the farewell party in North Sydney (somewhere trendy, we never stinted in those heady days) one of the girls said, "You'll be an expert in travel accessories soon enough." Very prescient of her.

Fuck folding shirts this morning, as I said, no time. I put my grey suit in, three shirts (plus I'd wear one), my jocks, a jumper. All the other stuff was stuffed in the suit-free suitcase, meds, toiletries, extra shoes.

I called the taxi. Closed the suitcase and locked it. Then I unlocked and opened it. I searched in the drawers for my leather gloves, scarf and cap, threw them in. Locked the suitcase. Handkerchiefs, ties? Fuck. I put them in the other bag.

I slipped the briefcase over the handle of the suitcase and went to roll them into the lounge. I bent over to grab the suit-bag… and the handle broke off in my hand.

Clean snap. Plastic does NOT last forever.

The taxi is here.

There is no way to HOLD the suit-bag. It used to have a shoulder strap, where the fuck is that? There are no air-conditioners running in my house, btw. My hair has started to sweat. I found the shoulder strap in the first place I looked, thankfully, snap it on and head to the lift. I am projectile sweating by the time I get into the taxi. The stun level air-con in most taxis is not strong enough for me anymore, I didn't dry out on the ride to the airport. (This sweating is, I guess, caused by the Cymbalta. Or the humidity. Or pneumonia.)

At check-in the clerk has nowhere firm to affix the flight dockets for the suit-bag. She sticks them around the shoulder strap. It looks a little flimsy, what? Shit. I just know they are going to loose my suit-bag in transit. As I'm in business for this leg, I should have carried the suit-bag on and checked it in only at Newark.

Let's see if I am prescient, psychic, or merely whiney but loveable.

[NB: We have travelled nearly a thousand kilometers in the time it has taken to compose the first draft of this entry.]


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