Sunday, February 28, 2010

People = Shit -- Richard Cheese



Can't get a real video of this... but even so, what a pisser!


Nothing personal.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I was whingeing on FB about how booking this Melbourne hotel on the interfukt was a mistake, as the booking company had charged me the full week up front and not merely taken a deposit. This meant that if I checked out early I would lose that night's money. Well work is paying but it's the principle, right? Next time, I'll let our travel agent do it.

Tomorrow (Sunday) I have a mid-morning flight to Auckland for some work cleaning out the last habitats of the Tooki-Tooki bird, to get them off the endangered list and onto the extinct list where they belong. Today (Saturday) was a birthday brunch for my sister down in Geelong, an hour's drive south-west from Melbourne.

Smart me thinks well, if I stay the night in Melbourne in order to catch my flight, I won't be able to drink much, and as we are all either good or lapsed Catholics down in the Western District that is not the preferred option. Instead, I'll check out of this lovely historic place in buzzing Chinatown, forfeiting the charge for the night, have a few champagnes at lunch and maybe afterwards and stay at my mother's or sister's place (depending upon where I fall down drunk asleep), then wake up earlier than originally planned and head to the airport clearheaded.

Plan A. Right?

E@L packs his bags. E@L takes his bags to the lobby. E@L gets his parking validated. E@L checks out. E@L goes to the car-park in Lonsdale street. E@L exits the car-park and drives to Geelong.

OK, borzengurs, what did E@L forget? Answer, below.


No, you work it out yourselves, E@L feels too stupid to admit it outright.

At my mum's place, I found the hotel's number with the robot on directory assistance ("Can you be more... specific?") and asked the hotel if they could hold my room after all. They were happy to let me come back up and use the room, as it had already been paid for.

Suffice to say I couldn't drink (much) at the brunch today... and am now too tired to go out in Melbourne on a Saturday night (for fear of getting bashed up, essentially).



Friday, February 26, 2010

Better Than Expected

Thanks Sav(cupcake) for directing me to TheAlcelogue...


As Well As Can Be Expected

It was as if I had exhausted my way of writing. I became acutely self-conscious and started to question what I had done, what I was going to do next. I glanced at a page at random, and all at once it seemed naive, self-obsessed, trite and uninteresting. I noticed the sentences were largely unpunctuated, that my spelling was erratic, that I used the same words over and over, and even the judgements and observations, on which I had so prided myself, seemed obvious and irrelevant.

Everything about my hasty typescript was unsatisfactory, and I was stricken by a sense of despair and inadequacy.

Christopher Priest, The Affirmation, 1981.

I am going to quote this every time someone (like Dick) asks me how my novel-writing is going.

As well as can be expected given that:

I once thought that the emphatic nature of words ensured truth. If I could find the right words, then with the proper will I could by assertion write all that was true. I have since learned that words are only as valid as the mind that chooses them, so that of essence all prose is a form of deception. To choose too carefully is to become pedantic, closing the imagination to wider visions, yet to err the other way is to invite anarchy into one's mind.

Priest, op cit.


So what happens when *I* try to write?

I type away on what I think is going to be part of something longer, maybe not a novel as such but some form of discontinuous narrative (easier to envisage finishing) with the plot of a novel but the arrangment of a blog or something, only not, and things are going happily for a while... then I read it back, and it's godawful crap. Strained, over-serious, uncertain, puerile, pretentious. Nothing like the voice of E@L in this blog. Ha ha.

But then doubts arise from a different side of the penny. Is this the voice I really want for a longer piece of writing, the work on which to stick my avatar in perpetuity, or at least until someone buys a copy? Can the E@L persona work as the voice for a longer narrative, and could I sustain the E@L persona that long anyway? (How hard can that be? Everyone tells me when they meet me that I am EXACTLY as I sound in this blog!)

Is there a viagra for writers?


My reading is doing exceptionally well though. After finishing three (admittedly brief) books on the Phuket holiday (Trevis's "Queen's Gambit", Ana Kavan's "Julia and the Bazooka", Ryu Murakami's "Almost Transparent Blue"), and I polished off Dubus(III)'s "Garden of Last Days" last night. This latter book should have ended about 100 pages earlier than it did, when the enormous tension inherent in the main plot-line was resolved, but I doggedly read on, for what purpose, I am unsure.

Today, theres plenty of Christopher Priest (The Prestige, etc...) to be found in the 2nd hand stores here in Melbourne: he's the man of the moment, as you can surmise from the above quotation.. I have "The Affirmation", "The Seperation", and an omnibus of "The Inverted World" and "Fugue For A Darkening Island"... Excellent, I love that unreliable narrator stuff.


Oh, did I not mention that I am in Melbourne, cough working cough for a few days?

There has been a great deal trouble for Indians in Australia and in particular Melbourne recently. Serious stuff; knifings, bashings... One of my Singaporean friends who is of Indian heritage was treated fairly rudely in a Melbourne restaurant, she told me, when we caught up here yesterday (haven't seen her for ages in Singers - we meet in Melbourne, WTF?)

However, maybe things are on the mend...


Auckland next week. Look out Kiwis!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bump Dick In Bang Kok

Bumped into Internet wünderkind Dick Headley, of all people, here in BKK - he stills seems quite a nice (and clever) guy despite the enourmous drop in his blog's popularity compared to E@L's! They say that Internet stalkers people are often complete wankers, but E@L has had only met nice people so far through this blog. (He has to say that, because chance are they are all reading this post (at least one would hope so!)) One wonders if the people he has meet think the same thing?

E@L thought it was Michael Caine wandering down Sukhomvit at first, a mistake often made according to the rumours, spread predominatly by Dick himself. OK not rumours: when last E@L and Dick met in Vancouver, oh so many years ago, they were disrupted by two girls eager for his autograph! Sir Michael Caine that is, not that relative nobody Dick Headley!

No idea what we talked about this time other than E@L's dramatically resurgent libido. Seriously, no girl within 4.5 inches is safe! Dick and E@L walked on from up near Nana down to Soi Cowboy where he was due to meet some old friends from his time here. Old BKK hands, aware of where to go and what to expect. Thanks to their experienced observations, E@L was able to see very early on that the bars in Soi Cowboy are much more flesh friendly than Nana, which has become rather prudish in the last few years. One of the guys was quite the history expert too, with some dramatic revelations about the true chain of events in the early years of the Thailand monarchy. For example, don't believe in the sophistication of that 'King and I' guy Rama 4 - when one of his 59 wives fell in love with some courtier, legend has it that both the offenders were beheaded. Charming; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.


E@L ventured to ask Dick what his buddy Chuck Woww was up to, but he pretended not to know. We guess Chuck's literary aspirations have gone the way of E@L's. At least he does have several hundred copies of a REAL book sitting in one of those friends' places, while E@L merely has some scribbled plot diagrams in a notebook Mercer Machine gave him for his 50th.

Various girlie bars in Soi Cowboy were assessed and often found wanting. It was nothing to do with the prettiness of the girls as people were talking the whole time not watching those naked gorgeous girls gyrating on stage, but because happy hour had ended at one bar and not the others. After several stops, where E@L was frustrated with the typical "buy me drink" - "I go dancing" routine, the party eventually evaporated (sort of) at Thermae Coffee Shop, where E@L noted that there 80-100 girls lined up along the sides of the bar and no coffee was being drunk in any discernible quantities. Well, at least those other guys (including Dick) went home; E@L wandered down for another hamburger at Nana, and found somewhere suitable for a nightcap on a sidewalk bar just outside his hotel... where he managed to win 7 against 4 in Connect4! Not up to Dr Dan's standards but good enough.


BTW grab Standard Deviations, if you can.


Friday, February 19, 2010

More Robyn

First check this out...

Bop away for a while, then go watch Oscar Fischinger's 1935 Komposition in Blau.


As No1 son suggests, watch the Fischinger visuals with the Robyn soundtrack! Cool.

Not that I mind watching Robyn...


We Specialize In Everything

Sign in Pattaya.


Hang on. Wasn't Omar Khayyam from Persia (part of what is now Iran)? Can we see the Middle Eastern food menu please!


Or perhaps they meant khay-*yam*, as in tom *yam* goong.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Bell Tolls

People in the mass are unprepossessing, particularly in hot weather. In summer they go about almost naked, great fat women displaying their mountainous buttocks and dangling breasts without the slightest restraint. The men, fiddling about with their crotches, are just as unappetizing; bandy, knock-kneed; their limbs shrivelled flabby appendages, or else muscle-bound monstrosities; chests grubby white or else matted with sweat-sodden curls; smally fungus sprouting in every axilla. Anna Kavan, The Garden, in 'Julia and the Bazooka', 1970 (posthumous)

Substitute 'grubby white' with 'deeply sun-leathered' and you know that Kavan is right on the money with the unattractively obese tourists (such as E@L) on the fast-track to skin-cancer on Kata Beach in Phuket. Little kids are running around in small togs or even naked in the scorching noon sun. If that happened on Bondi (Sydney), the parents would be arrested, their backs flayed with 40 strokes of the the cat-o-nine-tails, and their kids farmed out to foster homes. As the darker Thai girls from Isaan smear themselves with skin bleach and, with both hands rubbing up and down and around on their faces, apply baby-powder to their dark skin (which ironically, the white EjacIndustry tourists prefer), the Europeans roast themselves to a charred brown unattractive leather on their beach-chairs.

Is it the hole in the ozone layer or what that causes Australians get so much skin cancer? Or the stupidity of the Europeans when they ignore the risks?


Books finished: Julia and The Bazooka, Tevis's The Queen's Gambit, and Ryu Murakami's strange first novel Almost Transparent Blue.


E@L is chatting (as you do) with one of the prettiest bar-girls he could find as it quietens down again after Chinese New Year, she tells him that the Italians and the Swedish are the predominant Europeans at this time of year. She fiddles with her brief, school-girl tartan skirt. "Now coming low season," she says wistfully and cuddles between E@L's legs. Welsh and Australians maybe in the minority, but they're doing their damnedest to maintain the ladies' cash flow as E@L, blood diverted sharply from his brain by that cuddle, climbs on a chair to ring the bell, thereby shouting all the Italians (no Swedes) and the girls at the bar a round of shots.

"I go dancing," she says after sucking down her flaming B52 and climbs onto the bar-top to commence an entertaining gyration with her 'sister'. It's laughs all round, except that a muscular monstrosity, a young Italian man whose arms and and neck are festooned with elaborate tattoos, is eying E@L and his girl from across the bar in a way that causes E@L's stomach to tighten into a knot. The guy is licking the top of his beer bottle and then pumping it in and out of his mouth as he stares E@L in the eye. Fuck. He wants to blow E@L? More likely he recognizes that E@L is with the best girl at the bar and he is going to come over, beat E@L to a pulp and drag the prize girl away by the hair (after paying the 300Bht barfine)? E@L grimaces in what might be construed as either a smile or moderate gastric discomfort.

Nothing happens at first; the guy at continues to eye E@L's girl until another bar-girl starts to dance with him and he is distracted and happy, happy enough to ring the bell again. Still the tension is palpable, as he dances over towards E@L's part of the bar, parks himself on a chair by the adjacent bar as if exhausted, necks his beer, then leans over to make some drowned-out comment to the 'sisters' as they step down from the bar-top. They laugh and touch the guy's shoulders, one on each side. He has a roaring enthusiastic laugh. E@L feels his face flush, his gut tighten again and wonders what the hell is going on. Ah, but suddenly it is 1 o'clock and E@L quickly barfines her before anyone else has a chance - she has been with E@L for the last two hours accepting lady drinks, so it is unlikely that mamasan would permit her to go with anyone else anyway. And why would she want that 6'4" impressively athletic, energetic and amusing young Italian when she could go with E@L?

Next night the guy is at the same bar again, but this time E@L has a strategy. He defuses the situation early by asking the guy where he is from (Milano) and what his name is (Phil!)... After that fortunate coincidence, everything is cool again. E@L's girl cuddles up and the bell-ringing cycle starts once more...


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Phuket Woody Erection

What? It's wood, she's erecting it...


Observing the number of new hillside apartments facing each other around the island one can't help but wonder what the pre-sale copy might say...

Great chunk of hillside cut away and forest cleared for apartment giving view of great chunk of hillside cut away and forest cleared for apartment giving view of great chunk of hillside cut away and forest cleared for apartment giving view of great chunk of hillside cut away and forest cleared for apartment giving view of great chunk of hillside cut away and forest cleared for apartment giving view of what's left of the hillside and forest.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For Dan Whose Musical, And Hence Life, Experience Is Apparently Somewhat Limited...

Nothing personal (as in it's Robyn who'll perform said deed and not ...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fixed? Not!

The pin came out of the band of his watch when he caught it on the edge of a cupboard (don't ask). Brilliant engineer E@L "fixed" it.



Palindromatic Of Our Times

Viral video. Clever.


Beach Books

I spend more time deciding which books to bring on each holiday than I did studying for my Year 12 examinations. My teachers will confirm that I am not joking.

For Kata beach in Phuket, starting tomorrow, let's be realistic. There's no point in bringing more than three from this short list of six seven eight nine, some of which you might be shocked to see that I haven't read slash finished:

More about The Garden of Last DaysMore about Tree of SmokeMore about OblivionMore about The Queen's GambitMore about Inherent ViceMore about Trouble on Triton
I won't decide till the last minute, probably throw all of them in my backpack anyway, rush out to the taxi, forgetting my passport, or my sunglasses, or my keys, or my golf clubs, or my viagra/cialis. No, not that last one, already packed.


Mmm. Just noticed that they're all American authors. Need some others voices in there as well.

More about Super-CannesMore about AmuletMore about The Boat



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What My Flat-mate Is Doing In Her Room All Day

And I don't mean the wanking part. Or maybe I do. Or it may be transference. [Do'h, I mean 'projection'. Again.]



The hassles I had in Hong Kong with the service to my iPhone last week were, I thought, due to battling Telcos sending out blocking messages. I couldn't get 3G at all and frequently No Service either! Arse.

Then when I landed in Singapore, the same problems seemed to have come along, perhaps in the seat pocket in front of me. No Service all the way home in the taxi and obviously then, no 3G for me to get my urgent Facebook updates through.

I had placed the iPhone in Airplane Mode when I got on, not turned it off completely, as I wanted to watch some porn listen to some music of my own choosing during the flight.

What to do? Thinks. Has this ever happened before? MMm. Yes. Solution. Turn iPhone completely off. Wait. Turn iPhone on...

iPhone Fixed. No doubt if I had thought of this manoeuvre in Hong Kong, it would been fixed there as well. So much for conspiracy theories involving Li Ka Shing and his cronies.


Whopping headache this morning after DanE's send off to Sydney. E@L thinks he banged knuckles farewell about 2am in the dreaded FHM bar in OT, all of us having been swarmed over by the fire-ant Filipanas - and we were all stung pretty badly.

A nice hot cup of Kopi, with Kaya butter toast (order not mixed up!), seems to have cleared most of it - brain fixed.


But if last night's assault wasn't bad enough, DanO and E@L are off on an Action-Adventure in Phuket for Chinese New Year. We are staying clear (mostly) of the incredibly annoying hawkers and rip-off tuk-tuk drivers in Patong, but hiding down south by the quiet beach of Kata.

Laying books over our faces in the morning sun as we sleep off the night before no doubt. Also sitting in crowded speedboats for hours on end to get to the crystal waters of the Similans or Ko Phi-Phi, as we blister up on erythema-doses of ultraviolet and nibble on small pineapple jam biscuits. Golf too, though nothing is yet booked at Loch Palm - Blue Canyon just seems a rip-off to me. Girlie bars Quiet conversations with the inhabitants of the area...

E@L can see it all... because he's done it about 100 times already - holiday fixed.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trimming The Feeds

I don't know if this is a good idea or not but for the moment I'm going to link this blog to my Facebook page. Each post will go in as a Note.

I realize certain people will be annoyed, but in order not to swamp Facebook, I've decided to limit the RSS feeds to the abbreviated version. This means if you want to view the whole post, either in your RSS feeder or in Facebook you'll need to follow the link. This will either boost my blog hit rate or decimate it (drop it by a tenth).

Both of these changes are experimental and may be rescinded at any time at the discretion of the capricious warlords who run E@L-GHQ.

The Management.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Do Not Turn Aside

Coming off the walkway across Hennessy, as I had exited Wanchai MTR Station on the wrong side of the road, the scraping wail of one of those Chinese fiddles assaulted my ears. The crowds parted as I elbowed my way to the stairs and I saw the young busker. A round-faced, red-cheeked girl in a red cheongsam was kneeling with her back towards the concrete wall above the entrance to the stairway. She ran her bow back and forth across the strings to create that tuneless screech as she stared forward, focused on some invisible middle distance, as if the crowd wasn't there..

I have never seen such a sad face. Forlorn, abandoned, lonely, miserable.

How long had she been sitting there? What cruel parent had made her busk like this, obviously against her will? Or was she an illegal immigrant, 'good daughter' from Mainland China, perhaps supporting a desperately poor family? Why is life so harsh? Why did she have to make such a horrible racket?


Speaking of crowds parting, I'd forgotten how the MTR rush-hour commuters here are even more rude and obstructive than the Singaporean MRT crowds. I was alighting at Causeway Bay (the most crowded square mile on the planet - it's amazing) and had placed myself at the left half of the doors, (sing Mao car goon chair moon - Please stand clear of the the doors) almost at the pillar, as I began to move out.

A man on the platform was trying to squeeze himself onto the train and hoped to come in between myself and the edge of the left (his right) door. In order for him to accomplish this ambitous task, I would have had to move or turn aside - but of course a) I couldn't because of the pressure of the people also alighting on my right and b) I didn't want to. Lose face to this rude prick? No way.

Even though there are now wardens at some of the stations bearing red lightsabres (I kid you not), the log-jam of off-ers and on-ers remains unabated. The culture of inconsideration continues. Well, you want to be inconsiderate? *I* can teach you the hazards of such inconsideration. Don't thank me now.

So I just kept moving forward, relentlessly, one might say if one was of a dramatic bent. He was was actually a step into the carriage when I got to him. I did not turn aside, nor did I slow down. I kept looking straight ahead and I kept moving straight ahead.

I caught about 3/4 of his body and took him about two paces with me, all the way off the train and back onto the platform.

Score 1: E@L.


Gotta go, pack bags, take a dump, get on plane, finish (DH: fast-paced, not) 'Self's Punishment' - one of Bernhard Schlink's early detective novels (Schlink wrote The Reader, you know the movie with lots of Kate Winslett's tits.)

More HK vignettes, if I remember them, later.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Sometimes

I'm going to be very careful here as I have had a few wines tonight in Wooloomooloo, Wanchai. Several things need to be discussed however.

Firstly, my typing has become progressively worse and worse of late. Hardly a word goes by without me having to correct it. That is IF I even type the word in the first place. Reading back on some of my comments here and on Facebook, I swear the missing words are almost more innumerable [than] the ones I have typed (incorrectly - and I know I waffle on).

I tempted to let a post g thorughon absolute first draft, just youe to see what I mean.

I blame the drugs but then again, who doesn't, right?


Second issue is the phone service here in Hong Kong. Straight away I am feeling the pinch from HK's stressful 3G issues. If I am in a building owned by Li Ka Shing (he also, significantly, owns the huge local Telco PCCW), I can't get 3G. The other Telcos send out blocking signals to ensure that international 3G doesn't work in them, or so I am told - confirmed by a ex-worker for a Telco. WTF? As if this HK issue should become my problem! Fix it, you small-minded mega-billionaire pricks! Of course we know that HK is actually run just by a few of these property and Telco magnate type-guys anyway, and what the public says counts for nothing. THAT makes me feel like I was back home in Singapore.

SMSs. My Godfather! I send a txt message to someone about 30ft away from me, it takes 8hrs to get to her. WTF? This has been going on for ages. In Singapore we are used to SMSs being as instantaneous as Skype, ICQ or whatever. Send, reply, reply back. When I came up to Honkers for the 7s a few years ago I was planning to stay with my old flat-mate. I sent her a txt to Melbourne using my Singapore based phone (she was on holidays in Oz) to say that I was at her building's front door and needed the door-code; she got the txt next day. I only managed to enter because someone was coming out. (She had left the key in the fire-extinguisher cupboard.) Even when she was in HK next day, messages would take hours to reach her.

Maybe it is a Singapore - HK dispute thing, but again, why should I have to suffer for their squabbles?


Third issue is that Hong Kong girls are looking very attractive to me. Familiarity breeds contempt and absence makes the fart go Honda, as we all know from primary school.

Maybe there are more of the narrower, mainland (Shanghainese) faces to be seen here nowadays, but the ratio of babes to bombs is much higher than I remember. Worry. Have I been wrong all these years, thinking Singaporean women are cuter?


And then I was caught looking down at one of the females Dr's cleavage yesterday at lunch. Well, I am only human, right? I was trying SSOOOOOOoooo freaking hard to keep eye-contact, but there was this mammary cleft in my peripheral vison and for one sub-conscious micro-second my limbic system took over and I glanced down to make sure here bra wasn't getting bleached by the lights, and boom, she sort of caught me. At least I think she did for, as with Lyndal the other week, she subtley brought her sweater up a bit higher.


Fourth issue.

There IS no fourth issues.


Fifth issue, I was listening to Nick Cave as I was sitting there the Dr's office, waiting, waiting, as is my role.. The man is brilliant. Heavy rotation. Familarity breeds amazement.

(Yes, that is Chrissy Hine from The Pretenders sitting at her guitar, just listening.)

What a stunningly great opening line, who else but Nick would have used this:

"I don't believe in an interventionist God...
Into my arms, oh lord, into my arms..."

This one a buddy in Singapore sang at the Prince Of Wales one night - I had to go home and learn the (simple) [chord] progression. Fantastic again.

We talk it about all night long
We define our moral ground
But when I crawl into your arms
Everything, it comes tumbling down...

Your face has grown sad now
Because you know the time is nigh
When I must remove your wings
And you, you must try to fly...

Who else but Nick?


Sixth thing: Gene Wolfe. Speaking of stunningly good. Never heard of him, right? Brilliant. "Wolf is so good he leave me speechless." Urusula LeGuin Pretty big praise from the writer of the superlative "Left Hand Of Darkness"...

The book I have been reading in the Drs' waiting room this week (while listening to Nick Cave) has been "The Fifth Head Of Cerberus". Swear to god it's briliant. Maybe I'm stupid and am easily impressed. OK, I AM stupid, but ne'rtheless, this is an absolutely terrific triptych of connected novellas. Think Charles Dickens writing the script for Avatar by way of Bruce Chatwins's "Songlines" (actually the psuedo-anthropological studies of TGH Strehlow on which it was based, as Chatwin didn't write his book until 15 years post Wolfe) and you're nearly there. The blurb doesn't go halfway to conveying the power of this book.

"Far from Earth two sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle each other. It is said that a race of shapeshifting aliens once lived here, only to become extinct when human colonists arrived. But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness.

In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales: a scientist's son gradual discovery of the bizarre secret of his heritage; a young man's mythic dreamquest for his darker half; the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist's seemingly-arbitrary imprisonment. Gradually, a mesmerising pattern emerges."

I say: Woo hoo! So good!

More about The Fifth Head Of Cerberus

Recommended, did I not make that point clear? In the first novella, you'd swear it was David Copperfield rewritten.


Seventh issue (so many?): it's still winter here in HK, technically, but Monday was a lovely day, about 26 degrees. I went out in just shirt-sleeves, no problem. Everyone else was in jackets and fleecy coats and that corrugated snow-skiing stuff from the 70's. WTF? You people must be sweltering! Ah, showing off your winter collection still...


Eight issue: get to bed...


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