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!...

Friday, December 26, 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...]

Wednesday, December 24, 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.

Wednesday, December 17, 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


Wednesday, December 10, 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.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

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.]


Friday, November 28, 2008

Distaster. Disaster. Disaster Narrowly Averted

Bad things come in threes, people with attention deficit disorder often say before they move on...


Firstly. With Mumbai under attack, Bombay Burning, two of my friends have had to cancel business trips at the last minute. Erectile pilosity of their napes, sensations of dissociation, unreality. Freaking scary, move that attack back one week and they would have been there, right amongst it. Matt particularly; he's had his share of disasters, thank you - he's a tsunami survivor.


Secondly. My trip to Thailand in 10 days is also in doubt now as BOTH airports are shut down.


And the third great story which was about to rock Singapore to its foundation was that the VOI was at a record low for a while there at E@LGHQ. A quick scan of two nearby Cold Storage facilities failed to uncover any of the yeasty delight. Bad. Why is the amount of Vegemite in my house exponentially proportional to the number of jars on the supermarket shelves?

Luckily Iz found some at that Expat food place under Orchard Towers. Where all the tastiest purchases are made.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lost On A Winding Road

The rest of the year is penciled in except for the exact details concerning the hours around New Years Eve. I'll be in Singapore is as much as I know at this point. If you want to see me in Singapore that's about the best chance of it.

I'm off to Chicago this Saturday and I'm back Sunday week. Monday after that I've got another conference at Hua Hin in Thailand (NTS: bring golf clubs) and I'm there until Saturday 13th. That means I might get back in time for Zouk-Out, the Singapore beach party slash dance-fest slash concert on Sentosa! Should I survive that, I fly down to Melbourne Sunday 14th, evening (the upgrade certificate just came through, excellent!) and I'm there until the 28th.

Yep, four days in Singapore in December.

There was only one week in Singapore for each of October and November, two weeks in September. No wonder I have no exercise and diet routine. Anyone want to rent my apartment?


I'm in the Dubai Emirates Terminal again running down the laptop's battery typing this as I listen to Powderfinger, the dreamy rock of Dream Days At The Hotel Existence which I haven't listened to for a few months, hence the blog post title - what a great album for romantic ruminating (caught up with an ex-gf while I was in Geelong last time and was just looking over her pictures in Facebook…)

Nobody knows how it feels today
Nobody sees how our hearts break

Sometime you do see it. Nuff said.


BTW, it was much less of a hassle tonight to find an empty cubicle in the toilets in the Emirates Lounge. Tuesday night is obviously not peak hour.


Had a great deal of fun destroying my shoulder tendons today. I was back at the Vets - I obliquely mentioned it in my Facebook comments. Horsey stuff.

There is an Arabian horse stud outside Kuwait city that is just starting to pick up its breeding program again after Saddam and his Iraqi soldiers killed all the horses that were there. Two Dutch vets have been working for just on a year and are getting the place back on track. Today they wanted to see if it was possible to do 3D of the foals in utero! Just for the heck of it.

We brought a machine in and, while the groom shaved some mares' bellies for us, I tried to set the expectations to an appropriate level - nice and low. I had to scan up under the mare: it was bloody tough to keep pushing the probe into the belly to keep contact. My rotator cuff is killing me.

Suffice to say the images were pretty crap, making the effort moot. It's hard enough to get good images reliably on a gravid human let alone a gramnivorous quadruped that wants to kick me in the balls first chance she gets (did I mention the ex-gf?). The first one was too pregnant - 7 months (gestation is 11 months) and the foal was too big to fit on the screen. The second I struggled with for ages only to find out she wasn't even pregnant.

Here's me scanning the third of the Arabian show ponies, only 4 months pregnant - not sure what the horse version of the niqab is for.

And here's the closest to what I could get of the foal's face with the 3D. This may be one of the first 3D pictures of a horse in the world, by the way… certainly it is the first I've ever done.

Yep, that's the eye. The side of the face is sort of coming towards us, on a bit of an angle but the tip of the snout is off screen in the front... trust me.

Battery terribly low. I'll explain the image further when I catch you later…


Friday, November 21, 2008

High Pressure

No, not my job, which is a cakewalk (for someone with my exceptional skills, charming personality and world-beating humility) but the tin of shaving cream they give you in the Business Class personal care-kit on Emirates.

Now if I had tried to BOARD the plane in Singapore with 50ml can of pressurized soap/foam, they would have had me shot, caned and shaved at dawn. But because THEY (Emirates) brought it on and distributed it, a pressurized can in the cabin is somehow magically OK?

What gives with the double standards?


Meanwhile I am the U-FECK meeting (I kid you not) in Kuwait, which is not to be confused with many of the FUCK-YOU meeting I've been to in the past.

BTW, that's the Update in Fetal Echo Conference, Kuwait. U-FECK.

There is a definitely a place for a training school for medical sonography somewhere here in the Middle East - the obstetricians and radiologists are generally very keen to learn how to improve their diagnostic techniques. In Kuwait they appear exceptionally keen. Why not here? It wouldn't takes that much to get enough enthusiastic students to get something going for a few years.

One of the Doctors I met here during the conference trained in Ultrasound in Melbourne and he knows all my buddies and colleagues and he has nothing but heaps of praise for the quality of these Australian sonographers as both scanners and as educators.

He even knows a good buddy in Australia who does this sort of School of Ultrasound thing and is struggling to get students (Australia is just too small). A step across the Indian Ocean and he might do very well, but of course he'd need someone to help him...

Someone who knows the area. Knows the local Doctors.

Of course a change to such a career would be an enormous step up in resposibility and workload, not necessarily for a huge amount of money. It really would be a high pressure job, and I have no formal educational experience other than giving a few (dozen) lectures and assessing some students for the DMU.

Mmm. Just vaguely thinking of a possible permutation of the life-agenda... (There's an agenda?)

Got to keep the options open.

As for the novel-writing by the beach option, despite a week in Hua Hin at a conference the week after I return from Chicago, I'm obviously not going to write a best-seller any time soon.


Been reading quite a bit about Borderline Personality Disorder. I think almost everyone I have ever met has got a touch of this. Some deal with it better than others. Some deal with pressure like me, calmly and with critical (pre-frontal cortical) rationality, some go totally fucking (limbic) weird.

One of my friends, a married lady who doted on me, said she thought I was fantastic, who praised me overly and embarrassingly, etc... had a contagiously sick maid (with TB - scrofula to be exact). Her immediate inital response was to say, "I want her out of here. She was never a friend. I want her gone!"

I was a bit shocked by this and I said I was rather disappointed in her attitude, said I thought she was more "enlightened".

But the time she had received my email, she had calmed down a lot and was treating the maid with great care and respect and giving her every assistance in her recuperation.

But when she replied to my email she blasted me, told me "to get off [my] high horse" and that she didn't want to talk to me ever again. Nevertheless I replied, and I tried to explain that I was only referring to her initial comments and that I thought she had done a great job after that - but it was too late. She IGNORED THE EXISTENCE of her first comments, the ones which had disturbed me, the words which had actually 'incriminated' her - and she continued on about the great things she was doing for the maid in recent weeks.

Ever since then I have been totally confused about her strange bipolar behaviour. Her other friends just shrugged when I told them, said that was "just the way she is." She had switched from thinking I was great to thinking I was a total arsehole while she, for all intents, denied having said the things which had caused me to question her in the first place. All she could think is that I was now the enemy.

Mood and opinion switch from Love to Hate, Denial of Evidence Obvious Error (Hitler would SCREAM if someone pointed out that he contradicted something he had earlier stated, "ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?")

What do you call that?

Borderline Personality Disorder.


Another person who seem to be in total denial of the facts is Market Deregulator Supremo, Phil Gramm [no grelation]. In the recent NYT article he just shrugged off the blame for the current worldwide financial fuck-up.

In two recent interviews, Mr. Gramm described the current turmoil as “an incredible trauma,” but said he was proud of his record.

He blamed others for the crisis: Democrats who dropped barriers to borrowing in order to promote homeownership; what he once termed “predatory borrowers” who took out mortgages they could not afford; banks that took on too much risk; and large financial institutions that did not set aside enough capital to cover their bad bets.
But looser regulation played virtually no role, he argued, saying that is simply an emerging myth.

“There is this idea afloat that if you had more regulation you would have fewer mistakes,” he said. “I don’t see any evidence in our history or anybody else’s to substantiate it.” He added, “The markets have worked better than you might have thought.” (My emphasis)

No, of course you don't see any evidence because you are in the total self-defence, in the purely limbic mode of emotional denial of a Machiavallian narcissist!

Don't guess, let me tell you.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

Stalin, Hilter, Mao - BPD. Those fuckers at Enron - BPD. The idiots in the major banks - BPD. My English teacher at high school - BPD. Most of my family - BPD.

Me - did you say ME? I'm perfectly fucking NORMAL, arsehole!


(My god, the PRESSURE!)

You're all right off my Christmas Card List, muthafuckas...


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emirates Stumbles, E@L Falls

Several things about Emirates Business Class.

Their new "lie flat"(ish) seats are WAY too freaking narrow. I was on the aisle on the far side, seat J. The separation between the seats is so total you'd need a visa to get to the window seat beside me. It must be 8-10 inches thick. A great lumpy electronic control thing sticks up where your right elbow would like to rest. In fact there is nowhere to put your inner arm, all that dividing thing does is take up the space where you arm should be. The guy beside me (Window seat? Visa please!) had the same trouble. Like me, he kept fidgeting, putting his elbow first up on the electronic thing, then down across his chest. You'd think in Business Class you wouldn't have to sit with your arms crossed.

Now the Singapore Airlines Business Class seat is something else, right! It's a marvel, so wide there is nowhere to REST you arm. So you stuff an extra pillow there as a cushion. Now, THAT is no problem, but to cramp you up like you were in Economy defeats the purpose of paying for BC, doesn't it? [Addendum: just thinking further. Every guy in the Middle East is huge, right? like MAMMOTH, and yet the Emirates business class seats are so freaking small, whereas you could fit three Singaporean guys into one seat on SIA and still have room for a char kway teoh stall.]

The Emirates seat does lie pretty flat, or seems to, as the foot-rest comes up higher than the old SIA or Cathay "flat" seats, which made you slide inexorably to the floor. I slept well, but it had to be on my side. My shoulders wouldn’t fit in if I was flat on my back, no way. Things jabbed into my arms. Plus I snore when I'm on my back.

Food? No idea. Slept through it.

And why do people insist on bringing on-board their obviously over-size bags? It fucking pisses me off to watch the stewards shuffling my bag around to fit some lazy bastard's SUITCASE into the overhead lockers. Everyone is looking around for places and spaces: they came on late, of course there's nowhere left! Check 'em in, you dicks!


Several things at Dubai Airport, the new Terminal 3, exclusive to Emirates.

There are too many people flying Emirates, either that or this new terminal is too small. It was 6:30am and it was freaking packed solid. People coming at you from every which way - as bad as the Carrefour at Plaza Singapura, as Causeway Bay shopping district in HK, like Burke St (as we used to say in Melbourne). The opposite of that vast empty cavern at Changi's Terminal 3. The size is OK, it is built to human dimensions, unlike Changi which was designed for a race of giants, but it is just too crowded.

Even the Business Class Lounge was full! Chock-a-blok! You had to queue to get in. No seats. There are four sets of toilets at the extreme corners of the very large lounge. In each of the Mens are two urinals and three cubicles. All four toilets areas had queues for the cubicles. Everyone guy in the queue was complaining, they had all walked the loop and checked the other three toilets already as I had also done, but they didn't all have aching fucking feet like me.

Food looked good as I walked past the bain-maries, but after 30 minutes to get into a toilet, and there being nowhere to sit, I had no time left to sample anything. I went down and took a Starbucks Frapaccino and a muffin onto the plane with me.


Several things at Kuwait Airport.

Firstly, after I had waited 50mins in another queue to get a Visa on Arrival, the guy at the visa control said "6 D". Six Dinar. I gave him USD$40 and received KWD2 from a battered square blue tin at his side as change. Can you do the math? One Dinar is worth USD$5. He passed my passport and visa form to some other guy and motioned me to follow it along the counter. No problem yet.

"Did I give you receipt?" he asked.

Maybe because I had already started to move on to the end of the counter to watch the other guy place the 3 stamps (adhesive, like postage stamps) on my papers and then stamp them twice (with an ink-stamp) and my passport once, maybe he figured I wasn't too bright. (This idiot moved off without his receipt, hor hor! He's ripe for a little subtle baksheesh!)

He wrote out a receipt, and I picked it up as I walked away. It said: 3 Dinar. Three.

HEY! WTF! I just got ripped off $15 bucks! Fuck that, MY COMPANY just got ripped off USD$15, because I'm putting in a claim for $30!

Secondly, still fuming, I came to the Baggage area and …

No bag.


No. Freaking. Bag.

Two guys with the last of the bags from Dubai on trolleys pointed me towards the Lost Luggage counter.

"Ah, Mr Expat! Your bag, thir. Have call from Dubai. Ees still in Dubai airport, thir, no have time for the change flight, thir," said the tiny lady behind the counter in a lilting Philippino accent.

All my meds. All my pool and beach clothes! Today is the only free day I've got to sample the delights of the deep blue, unpolluted (I hope) waters of the Arabian Gulf. Conference starts tomorrow. I've never swum in this sea before - it's one of my secret list things, to swim in as many differently named oceans and seas as I can. Shit.


"The nexth flight is 4 o'clock, thir. We will send you hotel, no problem, thir."

Hell, yes there's a problem, Ascenciona or whatever your name is, I'm gonna have to sit around in these fart bloated clothes for another eight hours and blog and whinge about everything I can think of, instead of going for a swim in the fucking Arabian Gulf!

Oh, how I wish I'd brought my luggage on board with me! What a dick!


[p.s. Here in Kuwait the line across the top of the Blogger page is in Arabic, so I had to use trial and error to work out how to log-in!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not Quiting My Day Job

...despite them sending me to Kuwait for a week. OK, so it's a BusinessClass flight on Emirates, not going to complain about that! But a) the flight leaves at 2:50AM - in the freaking morning! - and b) the schedule promises a tough 9am till 8pm most days, not counting pick-up, drive time etc... And then there's all that wide-ranging Kuwati food, which may or may not involve ten of tonnes of overcooked goat and/or lamb (who cares after day 3?) without any sauce, gravy or jus. Or even Nanna's Christmas Pickles [reminder to self - sneak in some Vegemite, for the breakfast toast].

And in my spare time, I'll work on my novel.

Actually in my spare time, I think I'll lie by the hotel pool and read about how to write a novel, as I normally do.


Two days after I come back, I'm off to RSNA in Chicago again. Jazz, blues, great food and freezing cold weather. No time to work on the novel there either.

So, no, I'm not thinking of giving up my day job any time at all.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Old Man Pisses Himself, Blames Meds

The combination of Cymbalta and Tramadol, while not making me as crazy as the Effexor did with Tramadol, still have a similar strangling and numbing effect on my prostate. I have been back on the Tramadol at the insistence of my neurologist, who thinks I was mistaken about the Serotonin Syndrome. The prostate issue is a bloody nuisance. I really cannot judge the sensation of pissing. It is quite weird. And embarrassing.

I was in the loo for a "quick" slash while everyone was waiting for me at the lift to go for lunch. Dum-de dum dum… Waiting, listening for a tinkle, eventually getting one, letting it gravity feed away… Slowly, no power, pushing doesn't help. Just waiting, as it dribbles away. This is terrible! Only one more month on this drug, I swear that's all, that's enough.…

Thinking I'd finished, I gave the shrunken python a shake or two. Then once more just in case. Then I let hang to drain a bit more. Pause. Then another shake-shake. Pause. Then, confident it was all over with, I zipped up… just a fraction early it seemed. As I turned away from the urinal I caught my reflection in the large mirror - the inner part right leg of my trousers was soaked with a salami-sized stain, nearly down to my knee.


I tried to sneak back to the office but everyone caught me - "Hey, where you going?" I was half turned away, crouching over to try and hide the immense wet-spot, sneaking off like some kypho-scoliotic bell-ringer. "Trouble!" I cried back. "Catch you later…"

"Don’t worry," said the cute new girl who managed to espy my problem, "is very raining, people cannot tell."

"Ha, ha, it's raining all right. Down my leg. It's OK, you guys go…" I said.




My wet thigh.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dunkeln Und Licht

Further on the Darkness and Light motif in

Image of The White Tiger

-- the often elipsed last verse of Mac The Knife


Denn die einen sind im Dunkeln
Und die andern sind im Licht
Und man siehet die im Lichte
Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht

English translation:

There are some who are in darkness
And the others are in light
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness drop from sight

(from Mystic Bourgeoisie)


On a related note, Danny Boyle's new movie Slumdog Millionaire seems to want to put forward the rosy side of having to shit on the street along with 750 million others.


Believe Me When I tell You...

O my god, find out what Americans believe. Angels, up 6 points. Heaven, up 5 points.

Then go here for some humanity/sanity.


Queensland Police To Get Instruction In Suspect Control From Victorian Police

After a "slightly built" (only slightly? what if she had been completely built?) 16 year old girl was held down by Brisbane police and tasered on the thigh (the UPPER thigh?), sources close to E@LGHQ have posited that the Queensland Commissioner will be seeking opinions from the Victorian Police in the correct method of dealing with suspects and those whose mere presence is inimical to the carrying out of their Policical duties.

Victorian Cops have long eschewed the taser as a means of suspect control. As Constable 'Dog' Brutforz said, "Taser's are fun, but if you want to make an impression on a recalcitrant or upset child or criminal caught in the act, there's nothing like a few rounds from a semi-automatic pistol.

"Man, the re-coil from a semi-auto, it makes me semi-rigid..." on the phone to E@L about a sudden death in the family, 'Dog' over-elaborated. "Not even tasering young girls on the upper thigh does it for me anymore, fun as that can be at the Christmas party. We in the VP have a terrific history of getting the message across to organized crime, to the mentally unstable and to pretty damn near anyone walking or loitering nearby to a copper, such as your nephew was at that kindergarten school crossing, a message that such suspicious or anti-social behaviour won't be tolerated," 'Dog' continued.

"You know, in the last 20 years we have killed more people than all of the other State Police combined. Even Neddy Smiff was scared of us, mate. The Queensland force needs to talk to us. So cheer up cobber, me and lads is having a whip round for what-is-name, your nephew. Oh and would you mind telling you sister-in-law about this cock-up for me, would ya? I'm a wuss when it comes to emotional women. It's you tell her, or I shoot you, too. Cheers."


(No actual relatives were harmed in the writing of this blog.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back Online - White Tiger

The iMac has been reformatted and lots of stuff reloaded. iPhoto still crashes, but what the fuck. I'll BitTorrent Aperture at some stage.

Sort of missed today. Was it nice outside? Loading stuff, downloading movies - watched Cloverfield (good idea, Godzilla meets Before Sunset), Tropic Thunder (hilarious!) - and I finished "White Tiger", Aravand Ariga'a Booker Prize winner.

Hands up if you think this is another magic-realism Merchant-Ivory-Rushdie romance? WRONG!


Think of this shoe shop...

Then think of one of the guys under the table working to make those shoes.

I'm going to ask you to stretch your imagination - to Aravind Adiga's lengths. Imagine that one of these shoemakers has written a novel about how he extricates himself from such an impossibly exploitative situation and made it as "an entrepreneur" in Bangalore.

White Tiger is not about a shoemaker of course, I just happen to have these pics, but rather, it 'written' by a tea-maker, a clever young boy in "the Darkness" of the slum world of northern India. Balram Halwai (called Munna, "boy", until a name is needed at school) eventually eavesdrops his way of this, using information he picks up by being practically invisible to the other wealthier classes, to become the driver for a rich family. Here in "the Light" of the rich world, his sense of injustice grows until he commits a horrific crime in order "not to end up in a mound of indistinguishable bodies that will rot in the black mud of Mother Ganga." It is the only way he can see to get out - a line of poetry echoes in his mind, ironically it is the only poem he knows: ""you were looking for the key for years, but the door was always open."

The conversational tone (I say it is 'written' not narrated, because the format is that of an extended letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa!) is captivating and easy to read but the themes and the reality depicted are extremely hard-hitting (or least would be if you thought India was all shagging the sadhus at the 5-star ashram, lovely colored saris and smoking good pot in Goa).

This is about the India that flashes past the tinted window of your Mercedes limousine, it's about the India I see in the clinics and hospitals. Desperately poor people chronically trapped by corruption that runs so deep it has become the supportive skeleton of the country. All I have seen improve in 10 years that I have been going there is the quality of the rich people's cars.

" drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality..."

But it does have entrepreneurs... and democracy!

And murderers.

And great novelists.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another Techno-Death at E@L-GHQ

Yep, I've killed the iMac!

Back in town for 3 hours, with the computer 6 days out of warranty [Addendum: sorry that was tech support - warranty is still OK], E@L decided to network his laptop and desktop and the iMac.

He had just got the laptop to read the iMac's USB disk's folders - sharing the parent disk wasn't enough of course - when the whirling rainbow "WAIT" thingie came up.

And it stayed up, whirling.

And up it stayed. Still whirling, still rainbow.

So, fuck it, E@L presses the OFF button at the back of the monitor for five seconds.

Reboot: Now the mothafucka is stuck on the grey apple logo with the whirling grey flower-petal thing. It's still whirling. E@L powers off. Goes to dinner. Goes shopping for groceries*, comes home and boots up. Still whirling.

He's back onto the old PC - running flawlessly after a rest of several weeks - writing up yet another technological gadgetry failure in Chez E@L. Sigh. It is so fucking predictable.

Yes, I tried putting in the MacOS-X install disk; no luck. So much for sorting it out at home, delving into the innards (the PC still lacks one sidepanel and four screws on the other panel), elbow-deep in ribbon cables and ROM chips...

He will try the traditional Apple way of fixing computer crashes: taking it back to the dealer.

Looks like you'll catch E@L in Wheelock Place tomorrow, cadging for a refund...


* You'd think the flat-mate, a grown woman, could buy some essentials while he was away, like replacement for the chocolate she keeps thieving at least! (Yes, cracks starting to appear in this otherwise blissful relationship! Just kidding - one more session in the sauna and I'll be dropping the rent...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Attack Of The Killer Lounge Bands

Aiyah, my ears!

Made the big mistake of trying to sit and read my book in the bar-lounge of the Sheraton here in Subang Jaya (satellite town of Kuala Lumpur) this evening after dinner. They had a band... Merve and The MagicTones have nothing on this crew.

Yoodermeeahebratheen! Dasweedersowdedakasi, orbey! Orbey!

Is there some special school where they go to learn to slur like that? To pitch it all up their sinuses? To change the vowels sounds around randomly so that "A" become "O", "E" becomes "Aiyah!". To drop the last syllable of every word?

The skinny, toneless, but cute-because-she-IS-skinny girl had nearly finished some song or other before I recognised it as "Complicated" - the song, not the arrangment. Eo cal' ni' ennirsto' or wer'. I thought it was a Gaelic call to arms sung through an amplified pile of dirty laundry.

And hey, you, the muthafucka on the all-instruments-in-one "organ"! Turn the fucking volume volume down, the feedback is crystalizing the alcohol out of my brain!

I'm so outta here!


The book, by the way is The Other God - a history of dualism in ancient religions. You know, the Devil as an equal to God rather than merely a fallen angel, or as duelling twins, Demiurge and Absent God, Osiris and Seth, etc... It is a tad dry, like most non-fiction from 15 or so years ago, but still fascinating.

There is one myth that is was Jesus who got Eve pregnant and was the father of Cain! Another where God and the Devil were black ducks flying over the waters, diving into the depths to bring up sand and so create the dry land.

Amazingly deep learning is evident. I won't remember a word once I close the last page I am sure, but it is really has me for the moment.


There is no anti-Catholic like an ex-Catholic, as they say. Or was that 'smoker'?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Social Demon

Please do not go here (4th Oct Halloween Party) and scroll through a few pages expecting to see elegant photos of E@L and Izzy and a really tall dude in a hat partying at a recent SOL beer function at Velvet Underground.

Well OK see if I care if you do. Certainly not elegant anyway. Keep looking, there's another few later on. BTW, I get no money for this.

Not sponsored as it says on the right there.

This was the place where they refused to let me in because I was wearing a) 3/4 shorts and b) CLOSED TOE sandals. I had to buy $5 socks from the surly lady at the coat-check counter to cover the peekie-boo bits of my feet, and let my strides hang a little bit lower.

Aiyah, that's right, whatever, it was free beer lah!


p.s. three cheers for President Elect Obama! Anyone but McCain and Palin!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Chocolate & The GFC

Discussion on the general nature of the financial crisis in the course of a dinner in celebration of E@L's mother's birthday was diverted by the mention of The Coogee Bay Hotel incident.

E@L might have missed this, as might you, our eyes turned t'ward things of higher import but for the diligence of No1 son who mentioned it in passing as the dessert was served.

The chef apparently got pissed off at some customers and, in an inspired comment on the role of critics in society, took a dump on the plate of their ice-cream.

Discussion on this disgusting and hilariously anti-epicurian episode then devolved back into further evaluation of what had been actually been happening on Wall St.

Sooo..... There was this pile of shit on someone's dessert plate when they had ordered the Belgian chocolate.

Then there were these companies which sold genuine Belgian chocolate. They had made historically reliable fortunes, bringing solid money to discerning investors.

Smart people in these companies decided that there was a profit that could be made if they could sell the shit onto some other table before anyone tasted it. They estimated that they could make a quick profit if they could move the shit into someone else's dessert plate and then run off quickly, and that they new customer would, or could, indeed should, do the same. Sort of like a game of hot potato.

They bought the shit and repackaged it.

They thought they could make even more money in a deregulated restaurant environment. No taste checks, just sell, sell, sell. Cut and run, greed is good, profit motive, and that core philosophical dictum that guides the deep essence of true capitalism, Barnum's Dictum: There's a shit-sucker born every minute.

These smart money-makers started mixing small pieces of shit into some of the Belgian chocolate and they got away with it. No-one tasted it before they sold it on. Thanks to Alan Greenshit there were no regulations anymore, they could do what they wanted. They mixed in more amounts of shit into more types of Belgian chocolate. They sold it on again. They employed contractors to mix the chocolate and the shit and they had no way to keep track of the mix and which chocolates were clean… Soon all was various mixes of shit and chocolate. Prices and risks were stratified according to the presumed ratio of Belgian Chocolate and shit. It was a brilliant idea, fortunes were made left and right...

But you know what? Belgian chocolate mixed with even the teeniest, eensiest, weensiest little bit of shit still tastes a lot more like shit than it does chocolate...

So when someone thought they'd try a taste of that expensive Belgian chocolate...

It was... Erghhh… Caarckk!... Ptoowie! ...

The world of suckers and their shit for chocolate schemes imploded, taking both scat lovers and Belgian chocolate lovers down with it.

And we are a wiser world for this, just as we were after the Crash of '29.


Luckily, there was one man who stood alone, one man who had converted his [meagre] investments into cash (but into Aussie dollars , do'h!)… that man was...


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