E@L has had enormous problems with the incompetence and insanity of taxi-drivers: To quote Mark Twain in his recently released unexpurgated diary, "All over the world there seems to be a prejudice against the cab driver." And he (E@L not Twain) has taken and given some shit to kopi vendors. You may have noted these themes over the years. So many years. Taxis. Toast. Tired.
OK, listen, E@L hasn't read Twain's Diary, or even purchased it in 3D (i.e. a real book) or electronically, he merely saw it in a bookshop and randomly opened it and the first thing he read, sorry he lies, the second things he read was that quote. IKYN. Had to laugh. Wouldn't read about it. Well, yes we know you are reading about it at the moment, but E@L mean that rhetorically. So he typed/Swyped(tm) it into his PDA (why don't we call them that anymore?) / smart-phone for your considered delectation.
For those who are now puzzling, the first thing E@L read was something about how foolhardy we humans are to believe that we are nice creatures or that we don't lie to ourselves about a host of crucial things. We are pricks of the highest order, he maintains. And there are lots of other bitter, old-man, depressing shit, wonderfully written of course, which the photo E@L took of in order to transcribe it here didn't turn out, and when you're in a bookstore you really shouldn't take photos of the pages in a book and then retake them if they don't turn out, as his didn't, because you don't want to be kicked out, right? You don't want to be recognized next time you try to go in, and get blocked by the security guard and told you are not welcome in their store, or just watched suspiciously as you browse (spooky eyes over shoulder feeling), or have to hand in your camera-phone just in case, sort of thing. So you, faithful readers, you don't get the transcript of the philosophical bit that E@L felt like copying out for you (or himself) here today/tonight.
You. The awake/observant/returning ones, you know. E@L has had enormous difficulty with staff in certain kopi shops. Exhibit A, Exhibit B, etc… Follow the internal links, you lazy bastards.
You know, kopi, Malaysian archipelago stuff, the sock coffee, strained through a pair of clean (one hopes! - ho ho, made that joke up) stockings, sometimes ostentatiously poured from jug to jug over arm-stretched distances with an accuracy that doesn't really impress because you know they've been doing it for years. Or is that the tea? Teh tarik, pulled tea. Fuck.
Meanwhile back in reality-land, kopi is a deadly thick, spoon dissolving, GORD-inducing, grit-your-teeth, morning pick-me-up-and-throw-me-upwards-through-the-roof-like-I-was-Ironman caffeine boost, sweetened with both condensed milk and evaporated milk (when done properly) to a point where it nearly isn't black any more, a drink that E@L loves. Craves like heron. His favorite birds.
Think of it as very runny Vegemite, with caffeine. Not the taste of Vegemite, OK, nothing salty or necessarily horrible, although some people can't abide kopi and purchase multi-million machines to hiss out a bitter thimble full of, what, they call that coffee, in seeking to appease some status anxiety fad that, essentially, George Clooney and other Hollow-wood LA ostentatious pricks are responsible for, just as some people, such as Amanda Palmer might not like Vegemite and prefer to place stuff like "jelly" and peanut butter on their toast, but a taste like concentrated... coffee No, no, no, we refer to Vegemite in the sense of love it or hate it, not as a drink. And for once, it is not cancer on the toast we are in discussion about today. It's just that they're both black.
Now we are on about kopi and eating toast with kaya jam and butter. And a specially prepared toast it is.
The toast has to be um, not really toasted, but slowly desiccated. E@L may have blogged about this before, he remembers vaguely (everything he remembers is vague these days) reminding readers of the first short story in Beckett's "More Prick Than Kicks," something about a lobster and Dante. (Let me know if you need more information. Or a link.) The toasting process is completely different from traditional bread toasting methods (i.e. E@L's). The toast-cooking auntie (usually, but sometimes a pasty-faced student male) places two thickish slices of brown bread on the low heat griller, waits, turns them over on the low heat griller, not once but twice. Take your time. This is an art-form. Only slightly browned, with the lines from the heating element faintly outlined.
The kopi is already in the cup, on the table, but the toast will be a while.
It is toast-dried to a crunchiness that when sliced horizontally, i.e. though the middle of the toast, through the thinnest dimension, they slice it horizontally with toast flat on the bench, they lean on it with a slight pressure to hold it still and with a long flat, round ended knife split it in two, quite clever really, that it is so crisp you would think it is almost ready to fall apart. Almost, but not quite. Because there is a hint of softness yet in the middle. A simmering warmth. A large dollop of sweet Kaya jam (basically sugar held together with some green colored coconut and egg(!)) picked up on the bread knife is spread across the inside of the halved slice with a single sweep that creates a uniform thickness. Three pats of frozen butter, with one positioned centrally so that when the slices are placed together ready to be cut transversely the knife goes through the middle of the butter in order to reveal its full cream (it's often Western Star butter, E@L notes, from the district of Victoria, Australia, not Hong Kong, where he was born - you can run but you can't fucking hide) yellow richness. Both of the pieces of toast are sliced at the same time - one crust snipped off first at some places - and placed on a rectangular plate that they carry out to your table and take away your brown block with a number on it, but leave the used plates and cups from the previous person or persons at the table.
By the time you have the toast in front of you, the kopi is almost gone. You can't get up to order another cup, as when you get back the toast on the table will be cold. You want the toast to still have some calorific memory of its toasting, the butter just starting to melt. Warm still, the crunchy toast brittle snapping between your teeth, the kaya sweet and the butter both warm and melting, yet cold and firm in the middle as well, oh my god. To solve this issue, you order an upsize cup, 30c extra and nearly double the amount. There'll still be plenty left - fuck it's hot, you've got to let it cool down - when the toast arrives.
Or you could get it all to take away if you still worked in the office upstairs, but you don't, you are stuck in fucking Tampines, but do not place the brown paper bag inside a plastic bag as the toast will sweat and become sad and soggy.
So anyway, E@L was in Harbourfront Center today to open a bank account for Super Maid Joyce (who is now signed under his name) and set up a gyro to pay her levy, and he visited his old local, the BF Wang's on level 1. It has been nearly six months since the Great Tampines Disruption. Even so, the lad behind the cash register, the same lad who took his order when he was in Singapore, when he was at the office and when he had missed breakfast, each morning looked at E@L with a smile and said, "Welcome back, sir!" and called, "Kopi upsize, kaya butter toast," and clicked it all into the register before E@L could smile back and offer him a $5 note, something different from the fistfuls of coins he used to fob off on them in an effort to return the three thousand dollars in 5c pieces blocking the doorway to his spare room to general circulation. (If E@L came home with fewer coins than he went out with, he'd punch the air! These small victories, as someone said recently. Was it Obama?)
The skinny girl is still there, the one with the hair that falls over her face. She has got a new style, bobbed, but it still falls over her face because she leans over each milk-prepared cup as she pours in the kopi and a splash of hot water, and she stirs with such an earnest ferocity, such professional velocity, that she has developed a kyphosis. She's a shoo-in for a Gold Medal in the Kopi Stirring at the KL Olympics, coming soon, watch this space. She's there at Wang's for life, and happy with the prospect. Doubt that her health plan will cover the spinal surgery she'll required later in life (cervical spondylosis, you can almost watch it evolve in real time). E@L always wanted to tell her to straighten up - good posture, my young lady, good posture!
She doesn't look up at E@L. He didn't get to catch her eye, but she recognizes him all right. He could tell by the way she ignores him. She still hates E@L from the time he asked for a small(!) cup, and not an upsize and she looked at him because she had already poured the upsize, which is Not What He Ordered, but he was in one of his weird moods (before he had his foot pain more or less sorted with thousands of dollars of drugs, perhaps) and he was pissed that she got the order wrong and then he insisted on a small cup, so she had to pour the large one into a small cup and throw the rest out, and, seriously, why the fuck didn't he just take the fucking upsize one, what a fucking dickhead he can be, Christ he hates himself sometimes, which makes two. Twain was right, we are all shitful people. Sometimes.
But the register guy recognized him. And he smiled. And that nice man brightened E@L's day.
Might have posted the following text (at the end of this waffle) before, but I am in the process of transferring some OneNote files into Evernote so that I can have them at home (on the Xoom, on the Galaxy, on the MacAir), and some are quite interesting and new to me. It's called EOSS.
Early Onset Stupidity Syndrome, had it since I was a kid. The ability to remember trivial shit, unless it is required for a quiz night, and work/medical related stuff, but forget a person's name 1.5secs after being introduced. To forget what I had written, what I had thought, what my opinions are.
Saw a tall guy on the street yesterday with severe varicose veins. Instantly I thought - Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome. Wonder if he has some port-wine body-marks somewhere.
Why do I know this, but not the capital of Uganda? That was one of the question the brains-trust should have answered correctly last night. One of the guys has a PhD. In fluid dynamics, so not much help with African capitals in that speciality, although he was correct in putting down Algeria as the African nation that comes first in the alphabet.
The 'al' in alphabet, and the 'al' in Algeria are both of Arabian origin, right? No, only the later, Right? FIIK.
BTW, in KTS, the veins become varicose in because there are fewer valves in the superficial femoral veins than is usual, often only one. (I know this from a lecture a friend, the first sonographer in Australia with a PhD I believe. His thesis concerned venous incompetence of the leg - varicose veins.) Once this valve gives way, and it does eventually, even as a kid, because it is holding up a much larger volume of blood than it would if the column were shared amongst several valves, and then the distal veins distend.
Here is the bit of text I found...
I procrastinate. Like the purist marshmallow that I apparently am, I dither. I look for excuses and for distractions. Like Amazon.com
A package arrived today from Ye* Olde** Blightey. Thought I'd lash myself about the head with some of the British experimentalists of the 60's. Christine Brooke-Rose, B.S. Johnson, Ann Quin. Stuff you probably won't see on the rotating racks at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Why? Because. Books make a virtual me.
They are cushions. To rest my head upon, to muffle the gun-shot, to torture myself with, a la the Spanish Inquisition***
* the Y is "thorn", a printer's mark for the "th" sound.
** the "e" is silent. Hence the entire expression is pronounced the same as if it were written The Old Blightey. [Know this from some book by Anthony Burgess, probably one of the Enderby novels.]
*** Cardinals were not involved so much in the Spanish Inquisition. In fact other than the (usually Dominican ) Inquisitor himself, everyone else involved was a member of the laity. [Biggles was not a common name in Spain, at the time, either.]
Unless it is funny. I didn't check to see if this was a piss-take or not. [Did check. No, it's not.]
No, I am not prepared to pay $2.95 per month for the occasional giggle.
I have a strict budget for recurring Internet entrapment payments and the $39.95 per month I've been paying since 2003 for the AsianSexWeb.xxx (now long defunct), the $29.95 per month for BigBoobedHotties.xxx (essential viewing for the home-sick Asian expat), and the $19.95 per month for DeepTonsils.xxx, swallow (as it were) that.
"Once I did wipe me with a gentlewoman's velvet mask, and found it to be good; for the softness of the silk was very voluptuous and pleasant to my fundament. Another time with one of their hoods, and in like manner that was comfortable; at another time with a lady's neckerchief, and after that some ear-pieces made of crimson satin; but there was such a number of golden spangles in them that they fetched away all the skin off my tail with a vengeance. This hurt I cured by wiping myself with a page's cap, garnished with a feather after the Swiss fashion. Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it daubed my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they grievously exulcerated my perineum. Of this I recovered the next morning thereafter, by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most excellent perfume of Arabia.[He continues in this vein for several pages.] But to conclude, I say and maintain that of all arse-wisps, bum-fodders, tail-napkins, bung-hole-cleansers and wipe-breeches, there is none in this world comparable to the neck of a goose, that is well downed, if you hold her head betwixt your legs: and believe me therein upon mine honour; for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful pleasure, both in regard of the softness of the said down, and of the temperate heat of the goose; which is easily communicated to the bumgut and the rest of the intestines, insofar as to come even to the regions of the heart and brains. And think not that the felicity of the heroes and demigods, in the Elysian fields, consisteth either in their Ambrosia or Nectar, but in this, that they wipe their tails with the necks of geese."
One of the classics. Some of us smart-arse 14 years olds used to read the Britannica Great Books version in the school library and, appropriately, almost shit ourselves. Mrs Wilson was not amused.
I'd wager that the McHarry's Bar at Tampines Grande (hint: next to the Hitachi office) is the only one in Singapore with a toilet of the hands-free, bidet style. Brand name Toto - we are not in Kansas anymore.
Is E@L the only person to come down with this particular malady? I thought it would be a pandemic across the smart-phone, pad/tab set and now with OS X Lion, spreading even worse.
My finger tips are killing me!
About two months ago I developed some sort of desquamating rash that took lots of layers of skin off the tips of the fingers of both hands. I am not talking TEN syndrome here, and not Stevens-Johnson Syndrome thankfully, but just this peeling and flaking. It lasted two weeks, maybe a little more.
I went to my dermatologist (yes, I have a dermatologist) and she pleaded with me to stop harassing her receptionist to give me an instant appointment and to stop panicking about the above mentioned syndromes and to keep the skin well moisturized as it is just contact dermatitis, some slight irritation maybe from soap or from washing powder. (I had done some hand-washing of clothes with this German soap liquid soap in Croatia, also in Australia the weeks before my visit to the Doc, perhaps it was that toxic gunk?) Maybe some steroid ointment would help, she suggested. Yes of course I have some at home. What sort of question is that?
So no more doing dishes for E@L. ("You're soaking in it, Madge!" - old TV ad. No? Yes?)
The flaking certainly cleared quickly enough with some simple, cheap (like I don't have 35 bottles of hotel-filched moisturizing cream in my cupboard) treatment as the Doc suggested and there are some pleasing side-effects when you have your hands covered in moisturizing cream for most of the day and night... which we won't go into here as the kids are watching...
However one patch of skin took a bit longer to heal than the rest and that was the medial aspect of the terminal phalanx of the second digit, on the palmar aspect of my left hand. Yep, the tip of my pointy finger, just a little off to the side (towards the flip finger). There was, like, this little divot, or rather a patch of flatness where all else was convex. This is the exact point where I make contact with all my touch sensitive devices (the electronic ones).
BTW - E@L is a molly-dooker, a south-paw - Da Vinci, Obama, E@L...
And while it was still red, inflamed, painful, I was not quite feverish, and there was no swelling - it was a flatspot! - but there was also, obviously, else why write this post, loss of function! (Dolor, rubor, calor, tumor, functio laesa Look 'em up.)
I had this sense of ... exposure, of vulnerability, of minuscule peri-phalangeal nakedness. It seemed like my inner finger was open to the ever-present dangers of our toxic environment...
But that wound too, in time, healed.
Now it just hurts. The sensitivity remains. The little tender little spot on my finger, this clitoral attacker turned victim, is still hurting. Ow. Like a toefucker!
Using the Samsung smartphone is a pain, but not for the reasons you iPhone lemmings would taunt me with, because of the fingers! Lately I find myself touch-typing my texts (like a primitive iPhone user*, what a step backwards for man) instead of using Swype (look it up) and even using my flip (bird, big, third) finger to do all the important action things on the screen, like stretching back and directing the rubber bands for those perturbed avia, for example And making that switch has resulted in my big finger becoming sensitized as well. I now have two tender fingertips, and am having trouble getting all three stars on Level 4.
The MacBook Air is just the same. In fact it is worse on the Air's touchpad. Should I sue? All those multi-touch gestures on these devices, that sliding from side to side and stretching the fingers apart and circling around (does sound like clitoral stimulation, doesn't it?) are taking their toll.
Using the Xoom tab also finds the tenderness, of course but I am not using that much anymore, except to play Words With Friends as it doesn't have 3G... Sigh.
I'm not sure which of these devices is the greater culprit. It's just 'ow' all the time.
Big fool E@L upgraded his Macs to OS X Lion last weekend.
As there is not much to this upgrade other than fucking up the scrolling direction (if you have scroll wheel in your mouse as I do) and being able to stretch windows from any side or corner (copyright infringement, surely), he bought a "magic" touch pad for the desktop iMac. Because of the tippy-tippy pointy-pointy issues on the left hand, E@L set it up in the right side of the keyboard and... you guessed...
Now the finger tips on the right hand are sore. Result, i am using the mouse and trying to get used to the "intuitive" scroll direction. Result: THREE (3, count ;em) sensitized fingertips.
I was thinking at first, like when I started thinking about this on the weekend, that it might be the new laptop we have a work - a Lenovo Thinkpad with the little red button in the middle... Can we please stop talking about (clitoriseses? clitoratae?) clitorides. (IKYN)
That IBM/Lenovo think, what do they call it, TrackPoint, has small stipples - no not nipples - on the tip and they may have been... no, the skin peeling had started before this creature (not a bad computer actually) was delivered last month.
Ah, OK, enough whingeing. I'll just scroll down, oops up, no, down, to Publish this post now. Ow.
OK, it's midnight, time for the moisturizer therapy and - hey, stop running to the bathroom E@L! Your lotions and creams will still be there...
*primitive iPhone user - you might find that phrase rather ambiguous. I don't.
You're living for nothing now,
I hope you're keeping some kind of record.
Famous Blue Raincoat: Leonard Cohen
E@L has had several great out loud laughs in the last few days. Not least was induced by this photo he found on Joanne's I Have Seen The Whole Of The Internet blog-like funny thing aggregator. You know, the type of blog that gets hits. He can't put the photo up here or he'd just keep giggling and not finish the post...
And the other bunch of guffaws, many of them embarrassingly public, were from reading Steve Hely's winner of the award for the least subtle book title of the year,
How I Became A Famous Novelist.
Hely is a writer for 30 Rock (love it), Family Man (not seen it) and The Office (US Version, not seen much of it, but it's funny), and you can certainly see the type of idiosyncrasies of many of the characters in these shows in the characters in this book. That is a GOOD thing, because, well, E@L laughs out loud at the idiosyncratic characters in 30 Rock. So he is the target demographic here.
Plus, natch, he had been planning on being a famous novelist himself one day. Soon. -ish.
The book rams a hot satirical skewer up the arse of the publishing industry (possibly, well, for all E@L knows about it, Hely could be completely making it up) and not to mention the banality-loving mouth-open-when-they-read public (E@L has sinus issues) that keeps the industry tearing down trees and polluting the rivers and oceans with run-off from the pulp mills for fun, profit and entertainment. Dumb readers. Out there. In general. Not you. Not me.
It's a hoot. If you do nothing else, grab a copy in the airport bookstore (they still have them?) and turn to the charts on pages 42 and 44, at the end of Chapter 2. Hely has written a facetious NYT best-seller list; it is an hilarious send-up. Guffaw 1.
In Chapter 3 he lists his guy's - Pete Tarshaw - 16 Rules Of Writing a Bestseller. E@L is not going to run through them all here as that would be, like, a spoiler. More like copyright infringement. OK, except for these two.
Rule 9: At dull points include descriptions of delicious meals. Guffaw 2.
Rule 16: Include plant names. Guffaw 3.
True story. At one point in time, E@L was preparing to consider getting ready to start making notes for his N-word [not *that* n-word] yet again, and thought, fuck, in all these books you read the people must be, like, fucking botanists! He thought, fuck I've gotta flesh out (as it were) the strip-joint and b-j stories with something else, like, um, nature walks. There's nature in Hong Kong, right? There are mountains, hey, must be nature somewhere nearby.
He remembers getting bugged by all these red-bodied dragonflies buzzing over his pool, or swarming halfway along Bowen Rd path and wanted to, you know, make it seem like he knew about dragonflies the way Nabokov knows butterflies, for the N-word. So he went looking up names of the many types of dragonfly in Hong Kong.
He kids you not.
Phew, enough of that shit now. "He saw a lot of dragonflies. They were near trees and some flowers. On the mountain. "
Pete's goal is to get famous quickly so he can turn up at his ex-girlfriend's wedding the next year and show them all that he is not a loser. E@L is not going to tell you how well that plan turns out. Comedy, right? So he spends several months banging on his typewriter, and hey presto - famous. Or infamous, whatever, no such thing as bad publicity...
Two points of order, Australians (the groom-to-be in an Aussie) do no called rugby "rugger". They call it rugby. Neither, when cheering do they shout "hurrah!" (wtf? - is this Goodbye Mr Fuck And Chips?), but "hooray!" (or "Oi Oi Oi").
Other than those minor points, the book is an epic of hilarious literary slapstick. OK it gets a bit hokey at the very end, (Rule 6: Evoke confusing sadness at the end), but then, you know, endings... and beginnings.
Pete Tarshaw was not a blocked writer though. He already has a way with words, he churns out brilliant faux applications for foreigners who desire the prestige of America's ivied universities. So sit and write? Can.
The movie Limitless, another case in point.
Eddy is a self-proclaimed writer who has been not writing a book for 9 years. Not one word. Sit and write? Cannot.
Now, a few chemicals and he pops a great book out in four letters-falling-from-the-ceiling days.
E@L wishes. It takes him four days to finish a paragraph, a sentence, sometimes just a word.
The best modern book on this theme, well the best E@L has read and can remember, is John Colapinto's (4.5 stars on Amazon)
About The Author.
In this one, Cal is supposed to be a writer, but expends all his energy on stories he tells of his sexual shenanigans over dinner parties, and in the end, never puts words on paper. His quiet cycle-riding flatmate Stewart has been taking it all in... When Stewart dies in a crash, Cal finds a manuscript in his flatmate's room, a brilliantly written novel that contains all the tales that Cal has been telling, the ones that he was supposed to writing in his novel.
E@L read this one in Hong Kong. E@L told his buddies how much he liked the novel, but their response was unexpected, though it should have been expected. They wanted E@L to keep telling them those stories of his outrageous action-adventures in the underbelly of the expat elite (in the what?!), and they would write it down as a novel and sell it as their own.
E@L of course did not believe them, just as Cal did not even know that Stewart was capable of writing, but it did stimulate him to start a blog. He thought it best to get some of the stories down, as a copyright sort of thing.
But he would save the best of these stories, the one's he thought were the funniest and that meant most self-deprecating in most cases, for the N-word.
And you know, E@L is getting old. Sure he looks great and jovial, sprightly, adventurous (he wore no underpants when he walked up to the shop last night - he forgot to put them on) and still young at heart. [Heart? let's not talk about cardiac disease in the family, OK?]
Realistically, unless some medication comes his way, the N-word will not eventuate. If only for the fact that he has too many good buddies now and too much of a social life.
Well is he is feeling old. And he is feeling that every second word he types is misspelled, that all the 'i' before 'e' stuff that he used to be so pedantic about is gone, and that ellipses in his all sentences. Sorry, that *there are* ellipses in all his sentences. He feels that his hands are too slow for his brain, or his brain too slow for the keyboard, or that the letters on the keyboard are jumping around in order to confuse him.
So he is sitting and writing them down now, all the inappropriate stories he has only ever told over dinners in mixed company, all the best ones.
The Taiwanese sumo wrestler story, the Cheshire Cat story, the getting rolled by a hooker with metal staples in her tits story, the first-time rim story, the two Mongolian girl's story, the nearly got a b-j in a bar that doesn't find that stuff amusing story, some Bangkok stories (the "oh, don't tell me you're a man" story, for example), some Singapore stories. He used to say that in his first two years in Hong kong he had already tallied up more *interesting* stories than he had in his previous forty years. Well, he's been in Asia for more than 13 years now...
He is writing them down before he forgets them, before he has to dig out a thesaurus to look for a word that means 'thesaurus' and before he has to Google everything, everyfuckingthing.
People tell him he is not so funny any more. Maybe he has lost his sense of humour. The rest of his senses can't be far behind.
p.s. E@L's friend Mike McClung, aka Mercer Machine, has been head down and arse up recently too - writing that means, working hard ai it. He has a heap of fantasy stories coming out all over the place. Check his blog for details.
( Hang on! Doesn't a heap have to be all in one place, sort of, you know, by definition?)
My favorite version of Raincoat, Tori Amos from the Tower of Song tribute album. Apologies for the corny video.