Bruce sucks up his ice-blended coffee on Orchard Rd, runs the mouthful of sweet crystals around for a taste, swallows. The Coffee Bean and Tea-Leaf. Not his favorite coffee shop, but OK, it passes, and it's convenient for an hour or two of quiet contemplation before things start, before he finds some dinner, before he kick on across the road to the 4FoW. A Spinelli (San Francisco’s best) Spin would suit him better, the ice is finer, the coffee less bitter, but outlets seem few and far between these days. He makes a mental note to Google their locations.
The table has a nice vantage of the footpath. Young Singaporean girls in their ultra-short jean, inside pockets visible, their white singlets and push-up bras, chatting with friends, briskly gesticulating, walking fast. And those ambling ones, generic Asians, maybe even in a cheong-sam, a tight skirt, nothing ostentatious, and a tight top, an LV handbag and a lean hungry look. And so slim, narrow waist, trim buttocks (as they say, there's a Latin term for this), thin thighs.
Bruce loves this town. Old man, single, financially secure so long as his job lasts. Lecher. Typical nomad, it's his new word for 'expat'. Is it merely because they are slimmer that he finds these girls so attractive? Discuss.
It is after work on Wednesday and evening is hanging around like these hookers, it's half-light, it's a half-real world. He feels sticky and warm, man we’re in the tropics, and so welcomes how the ice-coffee cools the inside of his body, at least as far it can get down into his throat. Every now and then when he has cold drinks like this his oesophagus goes into a spasm, as it does now. The drink is too cold. He pauses from drinking, it's sitting - just - there. And he waits, sighs. A central chest pain. Another heart attack? He can’t belch, his stomach is unavailable. Then the mucosa warms the ice, melts, his body heat, and the constriction eases, the ice-coffee slips past. GORD. Is there no health problem he doesn’t have?
Birds, the feathered ones, in the many plane trees (not fruit tree, there is no orchard here anymore), have begun their evening chirping, and slowly, as it builds up to a 76 trombones effect without him noticing, their combined song has become a roar. It covers the bursts of traffic that flow according to the traffic light’s rhythms. Maybe not throat-singing Ferraris and Maseratis, let them scream, let them roar. White noise. He has one of his several thousand unread books in his hand and he is not reading it carefully.
A person is beside him. Her presence sudden, blue sparks, ozone, she's here to hunt him down, that's all she does.
He looks up at her and sees the thin ridge of angular cheeks, smile showing small teeth constrained in expensive wire, bright green eyes and a line of mascara going up at the outer edge to emphasis her exotic face, as if she needed that. She is one of those women who had been walking in front of him, parading past several times, up and back in the previous half-hour.
She had at last caught his eye, his Nordic blue, hers emerald green, held his gaze past that special time, into the who's going to be the first to break zone, and then smiled at him, the killer. However he had been lost in reverie, not in his book, but somewhere else, even further away than Cloud Atlas. Some place where a tightness in the chest from ice-choke didn't mean impending death, myocardial infarction, spilled coffee and an unpaid bill. He had hardly been aware that he had been making eye contact, and every working girl looks at him like that anyway, like he was target demographic. He was now looking away, into a nowhere, but she didn’t notice that he was more than day-dreaming, he was willing himself to stay alive. She only saw a man. With a wallet and a sex-drive. Or perhaps she saw more. Probably not.
"I can join you?" she asks. Slim, in a dark green, eye-matching, body-hugging top, white skirt, tight.
”I'm sorry?" The background bird chirping, he didn't hear. "Of course, of course,” he says, ever the gentleman. He shuffles his chair back and nudges the table so that she can slip past the pole onto the chair opposite him. It doesn't have to slipped far, there is not much to her body.
And soon the banalities are out of the way. The special massage price, so cheap, how come?
"Tomorrow, I go back Hanoi. Need have some money." The implication is that she hasn't been making much. Good English, pleasant GFE personality, nicely faked sincerity. He is surprised, genuinely.
"Why do you not have so much money? Such a pretty lady!"
"It very quiet, too many girls. And I spend my money on my plane ticket, need always to be work. Work, work. Go to home and come back only three month after. And," she tapped at her mouth, "my teeth is expensive."
"You should marry someone here. A dentist maybe."
"Yes, yes," she urges. He seems to have pressed a button. "I need husband for come here. Get visa for many entry."
"Well you would need that, I guess. So many entries," smiles Bruce.
"If can get marriage with local man, can get visa. Ten thousand dollars."
"What is ten thousand dollar?"
"For husband. We pay ten thousand dollars for Singapore man get marry."
"You pay the man ten thousand dollars if he marries you?" Bruce immediately thinks of E@L as a likely candidate for an arrangement such as this.
"Yes, he get money. And girl get visa."
Bruce drums the table with his empty coffee container. This too, is hard to swallow. He texts E@L.
The evening is advancing quickly enough, no hurry. E@L was otherwise engaged anyway. She knew of a Thai place, we wonder where, for dinner. She ate slowly, noodles, picking sprouts form her braces. She is not in a rush now. Her flight is early in the next morning, one customer tonight - Bruce - and that's enough. And they stand to move away, collect their stuff, her LV, his man-bag with iPad, and walk across the road to the Hilton where he is staying as usual.
"You have condom?" she asks before they get too far from a 7/11.
"Me? Why? Don't you have a condom, surely you can claim it on your tax!"
She smiles, gets the joke. "We cannot carry condom. Working girl on the streets cannot carry a condom. Police. You know this, I am sure."
"No, not at all. Really? Why not?"
"Police can make arrest against you if you have a condom. For being prostitute. It illegal for girl to work on streets, so we don't carry condom."
Bruce shrugs, impressed. He's never thought of that - why would he? - and it makes sense. There are so many of these details in the world, where the devil lies in wait. Have a condom, must be a prostitute. No condom, must be a charity worker seeking donations.
"You don't have condom?" she asks again.
"Yes, yes, I have several in my room. The hotel supplies them," he lies.
Within two weeks of this mythical incident not having taken place, the immigration department cracked down on these marriage scams - she wasn't joking about the $10k. And then, later, local newspapers talked of the aggressive tactic of streetwalkers on Orchard Rd.)
"... Pointing to the increasing number of sham marriages - from four to five cases a year in the past five years to 12 cases this year - Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran said this is a "significant rise" and is "probably symptomatic of a larger trend".
"So we want to introduce new laws to send a strong deterrent message to individuals who contemplate entering MOCs (marriages of convenience) for the purpose of obtaining an immigration facility such as Permanent Residency, long-term passes and visas," he told the House.
But, while there is a "desire for vigorous enforcement" in clear cases of marriages of convenience, he cautioned against unfairly penalising genuine marriages. Several Members of Parliament were concerned over how gratification could be proven.
..." [My emphasis]
Streetwalkers getting more blatant at Orchard Road.The NewPaper
"Foreign women touting sex services are no longer just operating around Orchard Towers.
They are now covering areas as far as Far East Shopping Mall.
The minute they spot a potential customer, usually a male tourist, they would approach them with offers of 'massage'. Said one expat: "It’s like running a gauntlet. If you make the mistake of looking at them, they’ll be all over you in seconds."
Anywhere up to eight years ago, walk anywhere from the Marriott to corner of Tanglin Rd, and E@L would be given the look, sometimes a question. Then it went quiet for a few years, or perhaps he didn't walk there as often as a resident, but yeah, as this hypothetical and nowhere near 100% true story suggests, it might be "on the rise" again in the areas not immediately adjacent to the 4FoW.
(E@L knows the birds aren't in the plane trees, but the other ones. Larches? Elms? Jesus, E@L knows fuck all about treeology. And those trees are down further anyway, by Paragon.)
My reading vision has dropped so quickly. You have no idea. In the past two weeks I have noticed a terrible degeneration of my short distance focussing that I have to wear reading glasses ALL the time. ALL the time when I am reading, anyway.
I blame the minuscule font on my Samsung Tab 7.7. It is ridiculous. It is a known issue and quite a few forum discussions. There are a few font-size programs, but they only work for some apps. It's mainly the crappy Facebook app. It doesn't allow the two-finger stretch zooming.
Paperback novel pioneers Penguin™ books, currently owned by Pearson PLC, have filed a lawsuit against publication competitors Virago™ Press on charges of copyright infringement.
Background: Where Did Penguin Waddle From?.
Penguin Books™ commenced publishing in 1938, using what they claim are "novel" techniques to augment the consumer's reading experience. At that time these reading techniques were described by the former Bodley Head™ managing editor, charismatic publishing entrepreneur John Allen, as "revolutionary, unique and [ahem] novel."
Allen had recommended against publication. As a result Blyton abandoned her plans to publish with Bodley Head™, whom she later described as "stuffy, politically correct twats who wouldn't know a Gollie™ from a Stinkly™." She took her stilted and formulaic writing to Sampson Low and made a fucking fortune for them and herself over the years. Allen was soon given his marching orders thanks to his absent business acumen in this case.
Allen conceived of the idea of getting someone else to think of the something that became the Paperback in 1937. The result was a lightweight, rectangular, compliant reading device that would fit into the pocket of a consumer during periods of various activities which were not compatible with reading.
Allen took all the kudos and street cred for the development of the Paperback and was universally acknowledged as a Genius™ in his press releases. Tragically, his design and development team disappeared mysteriously in a boating accident in Allen's backyard swimming pool.
Immediately upon appropriating the credit for the Paperback, he commissioned Mr Constance Garnet to make a new translation of every school-age children's nemesis (the novel Anna Karenina: see above). Allen's lawyer (another name in the development of Allen's career that is lost to history thanks to chlorinated water) pioneered the prototype of all writers' contracts now in use universally. These have the special clauses which allow translators and authors like Garnett to be tied down and waterboarded. Publishers such as Allen can then be ceded sole ownership of the Exclusive Rights Management, the ERM™ of the work, in this case a translation, and all profits after publication. Garnett would get a pittance, if anything at all, should he live or remain sane. He drowned penniless in mysterious circumstances in Allen's backyard swimming pool after translating several thousand more unreadable novels under contractual obligations to Pengiun Books™.
The Penguin™ suit alleges that Virago™, by moving from the Women's Press™ niche in which they still profess to be their metier, into more general publishing in the Paperback form, had infringed its patents when they imitated what Penguin claim are the essence and implementation of their designs.
The logos of the two publishing giants currently in dispute.
Virago™ have copied the "trade form" of Penguin™, the essential look and feel of the Penguin™ reading experience, they claim. In particular, Penguin™ point to Virago's™ decision to produce a book with a soft paper cover of the size of the side pocket of a jacket, such as a gentleman in the 1930's might be wearing at a train station in, say, Vladisvostok.
Comparison of the form factor of an example of the Virago™ product (left) and that of a Penguin™ Paperback (right). Note that the Virago™ book is written by philosopher and essayist W.G Sebald, a man. The Penguin™ book has been penned by female historian Ruth Harris.
Penguin™ say that their "distinctive" rectangular shape has been implemented into the Virago product, as have the sharp, 90o corners of the Paperback. Penguin™ insist that now Virago™ are publishing Paperbacks written by men it could make it difficult for readers to differentiate between the two publishers. Penguin's™ income could be harmed as a result of diminshed sales if readers inadvertantly choose the Virago product.
Penguin™ had previously overlooked design infringements by Virago™ on the grounds of sympathy with the suffragette movement, notably by Allen's wife, [the ridiculously named] Lettice Lucy Orr. [I mean, salad. For pity's sake - Lettice Orr what? Cabbage?]
Penguin™ point to particular features of the Virago™ product that directly infringe on the patents held by Penguin™. They cite the fingertip control over the method of manipulation or turning™ of individual pages, or even groups of pages, as readers follow the writer's words, sentences and paragraphs sequentially from one side of a page to its verso, specifically turning™ it to the left to follow text. They point out the continuance of the writing to the next leaf, the one on the right side of the open book.
Turning™ pages and the use of a Bookmark™ [provided to E@L by the kind people at The Excelsior hotel in Hong Kong]
This latter innovation allows the reader, often using a third-party device - which may have been provided by a book-seller or a progressive and expensive hotel chain - to define the point at which she or he has reached before closing the book in order to get on with life. The reader can continue his or her reading pursuits at a later time using the Bookmark™ to determine the correct page. After using the Bookmark™ in this manner, they might then either exit the toilet area with the Paperback in their jacket pocket or leave the volume on the wash-basin edge for further perusal in the future, a typical time being when the contents of his or her bowel move into an exposition of digestion with conflict of bacteria and the peristaltic moving action in the intestines leading inexorably to an expulsory climax, then a falling action and eventual denouement, with either a satisfactory or an unsatisfactroy ending, a.k.a. closure, and often leaving the possibility of a sequel.
In his The Pocket Billionaire, the unauthorised biography of the late Allen, ghost writer Woody Allen [no relation] reported the allegedly innovative and style-making founder of Penguin™ as saying he will go "V2™" on rival publishers. "They won't know what screaming had come across the sky and hit them." Allen laughed hysterically, according to Allen.
He single out the ladies of Virago™ for special treatment because of what he considered their "traitorous behaviour" in publishing non-female authors. "I'll beat Virago™ like a red-haired step-daughter," he is quoted as screaming in a board meeting. "This is our technology and male authors are OUR meteor, metier, whatthefuckever, and we will screw those bitches over and over until they agree to desist in the publication of products which are very similar to our own in my fucking opinion!"
Interestingly, Virago™ have launched a counter-suit against Penguin™ for publishing works by female authors, a defence that is sure to raise the hackles of Penguin™'s lawyers.
Virago™ maintain that if such a lawsuit as Penguin™'s were to succeed it could severley restrict competition and staunch further innovation in the Paperback development, outcomes that could damage the industry in unforesable ways.
They also claim that the page-turning technology was in existance long before Allen and Penguin™ had reintroduced it, and have at least two pieces of evidence to support that claim.
Virago™ also point to a long forgotten presentation of a similar case in the International Court Of Taking Forever To Come To A Fucking Conclusion in Den Hague. They found in the TeslaNet™ Encylowiki™ records of a publishing dispute dating from the early 17th century. At that time Robert Barker, The King's Printer and member of The Church Of England™, publishers of the King James Bible (not the Vulgate which is copyright to one hermit, a certain St Jerome), sued the independant Musselman publishers Al-Jazeera™ for copyright infringement with their production of a printed version of the the Tartar holy book, The Q'uran. That case was dismissed by the ICOTFTCTAFC on what Barker called "a technicality", as the Ottoman Empire™'s printed publication was designed to be read from right to left, the oposite of Barker's left to right technology.
The judge of the case, Pope™ Richard Dawkins, said this type of dispute was harmful to young children and animals. He instructed the participants and their followers to accept the blatant (to him at least) fact, or theory™, that there is no* such thing as god [he used a small 'g'], or at least any deity that could be shown scientifically to be manifest in this world.
Therefore, he had said, these or any other gods of whatever denomination might as well not exist anyway, if they/he/she/it was unable or unwilling do anything useful such as alleviate suffering and disease. All this "sectarian publishing and violence shit..." would "...just go away - poof - if people woke up to reason and smelled this bloody strong Turkish coffee. Stop writing this amazingly impossible bullshit in the first place, then you won't have to publish it, and I won't have to get involved in sorting out the mess," he said in his summation, the records show.
In his turn, a spokeman for Penguin™ said Virago's claim was "both ludicrous and dubious" because entries in EnycloWiki™ can be edited by the members public for a small fee. He explained that a search of the records of transactions of PayPal™ could arranged. PayPal™ is the Telsanet™'s only online bank after the financial giant sued "every fucker" they could find, even the company which pioneered online payment, Adult Video Network™. The spokesman said the this might demonstrate the complicity of Virago in a potential fraud with intenttion to deceive.
Paypal™ however have pointed out that their records are "secure and confidential" and that it would take "a considerable amount of cash and lots of blow jobs" for them to hand over their customers' private records.
But a newcomer to the publishing world could win out here, no matter what the result of the contoversial Penguin™/Virago™ suit. Online book supplier Amazon™ are on the verge of launching a product that circumvents all the issues raised by both Penguin™ and Virago™. The Kindle™ is an electronic book reader which uses a remote image of words in the author's mind. These can be transmitted wirelessly (TeleGnosis, pat pending) through the ether to the retina, where the encoded concept of the story is captured. This can then be directly received in the appropriate cortex of the brain and the plot and characters extracted and the plot followed and enjoyed (presumably), even when the consumer is engaged in other activities, such a lubricious sex. Amazon™'s scientists warn that certain spastics and stroked out old folks with particular forms of brain jellification might not be able to use their device properly. Otherwise Amazon™ expect excellent reception™ of their product by the early up-takers, in particular trendy Starbucks™ light soy-latte drinking wankers and hipsters™.
Amazon™ dismiss/ignore the claims by recently justified inventor of both the TelsaNet™ itself and its method of transmission, the Radio™.
Nikola Tesla, as himself, in the recent biopic What Does This Button Do?"
"Amazon™," he said in an interview for Cosmopolitan™, "are like that cock-sucker Marconi. Thieving my credit bastards. A bunch of arrogant shupaks who can popusis mi kurac krasni! Those fucking Limey Book Depository™ bastards used to be cheaper and world-wide ship for free, until pricks at Amazon™ bought DHL™ and jebem ce zivo i mrtvo overnight. Don't even start on me the shit-eater Thomas I-Invented-This Edison. Biggest fucking fake since John Allen."
Your intrepid reporter and signatory to the Creative Commons Licence™,
"Samsung and Apple have been at war through the courts since April 2011, when Apple filed a suit in the US alleging that a number of Samsung smartphones and tablets used some of its patented technologies – such as the "rubber band" effect when scrolling a long list of items – and mimicked its "trade dress", the general cosmetic appearance of its iPhone and iPad, in a way that could confuse potential customers."
You have no idea how many times I typed Viagra instead of Virago in writing this self-indulgent drivel. I chose Virago's The Rings Of Saturn for no reason beyond the fact that it is the only paperback from a relatively major publisher that I have with me.
* would you believe in this? I had left the word 'no' out of this sentence for the last two days.