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...



Eeleen Lee said...

if you like Gene Wolfe try Cordwainer Smith

Indiana said...

My Godfather! I send a txt message to someone about 30ft away from me, it takes 8hrs to get to her.

You didn't think to walk the 3-4 steps and just talk to, in person! ~gasp~

expat@large said...

EeLeen: will keep an interested eye out. But can he be as good? The first 1/3 of 5th head is an amazing sleight of hand.

Indy: that didn't come out right. She was standing next to me when she got the SMS. Who knows where she was when I sent it.

rockstar69 said...

Shit!! You've got issues man!!

Don't worry about the typing issue. I'm forevre correcting myself thexse days.

As for 5th Head, ship it on down when you're done:-P

Lost in Melbourne said...

The HK V Singapore girl topic is messy. My view used to be that someone took HK and threw it into a bucket of Dettol, what they pulled out was Singapore, HK with less life and culture.

However of course Singapore is still partially naughty and HK is so caught up on making a fortune in real estate and the stock market that they barely have time to discover anything else.

From the outside I tend to see the Singapore female as a little too conservative and boring, too much time spend under the rule of Chairman Lee. They might be cute but all tend to look the same with the glasses and the sort of bookish style. Are they naughty at heart? I hope so but suspect not, too busy doing the done thing.
As to the HK girls they seem a little more stylish but I think your 7th issue sums it up, everyone is also following, make sure you have the current trend and you find a rich man...

I think both places need to be explored at depth to discover the great people, on the surface they can bee too much like the travel brochure and who needs a truly homogenised life? Less typical is better.
But I agree on an eye candy level HK has it over Singapore but they are not likely to give you the time of day without access to your plantinum card.

expat@large said...

Rocky: will hand carry it. I be in Melb again in late Feb.

Scott: some dogs today, round faces and puffy eyes.

The Singapore girls I know are all FAB! And they read my blog, so they are intelligent and wise as well

Skippy-san said...

Spend a year in Shopping Mall USA and all girls in Asia look freaking gorgeous! Even the average ones. I need to go on a trip ASAP!

That said-I think the thing in Singapore is the mixture of women you see. Svelte little Chinese women, Malay women with curvy bodies, the occasional western woman who actually is not fat, and more than a few Filipinas who make me weak in the knees. ( I admit it-I have a weakness for Filipinas!).

They are all good compared to one corn fed Alabama specimen. :-(

Lost in Melbourne said...

So what you are saying is that what you see on the surface in HK and Singapore is merely the veneer presented to society? That the apparently superficial need to hunt down designer labels and be a part of the crowd is essentially on the surface.

So we do indeed need to dig down and reach the substrate layers to find the great girls who actually do populated these city states (Yes China is becoming more part of HK but not really for a while yet, still a gulf between Honkie and Mainlander).
So I need to do what Australia is known for a becoming a mining expert, scrape awake the top soil and tap into a rich seem or ore (awe) body?

expat@large said...

Skip: given.

Scott: well, sharing a place with Izzy I tend not to see Singaporean girls as conservative and boring. Mostly.

And digging deep means knowing them already, and caring enough to give a fuck about what people think, what motivates them, what they love, what they hate. 99% of the time I can't get close enough to a person I am attracted to to do that, as I am rejected almost immediately because of my body. Non-fat people have no concept of what I am talking about here. I have no trouble with friends girlfriends or with happily married women as the don't see me as a giant predator stalking their curvaceous bodies.

Any way I'm not sure yet if I am mature enough to do all that delving, hell I'm only 52 years decrepit. And it seems I'm getting altzeimers without ever reaching adulthood; it's like going from ice to steam directly.

Dick Headley said...

OK I'll give Gene Wolf a shot. Your last two recommendations....Denis Johnson and Andre Dubus III write well for total downers.

expat@large said...

Dick: speculative fiction? Your schtick? I thought the only speculating you do was on how much she'd charge? (Oops a bit of transference there.)

DJ is awesome - Jesus's Son, superb stories. Downer, well yeah, he's a serious writer.

When did I recommend Dubus? I did to a girl at the pub last week too - conincidence. Well didn't you see the movie of House and Sand & Frogs starring Gandhi? Should have been a warning.

ι‘˜ζœ› said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan said...

Wha' O X@, sorry I fell asleep there, not that I was bored; my head over loaded. I panicked when you mentioned the title: " ........Fifth Head." Totally messed me up. I thought it was three, and obviously went into protection mode.
I need to go back on the drugs; my concentration is shot to fuck.

Dick Headley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dick Headley said...

Definitely a bit of transference. Or do I mean projection? Those days are long gone.

Johnson is a serious writer for sure. Burroughs is still my favorite drug addict.

Don't get me wrong about Dubus III. I just finished Garden of Last Days. Excellent writing. Maybe a little too topical for me. I find all the post-911 stuff depressing.

Paula said...

Scott - Did you use the word 'superficial'?

E@L - Blimey! A bit beyond the pale perhaps?

expat@large said...

P: I'm quoting Will Self in "My Idea Of Fun."

expat@large said...

P: plus, check the time stamp, it was 5am when I wrote that!

Dick Headley said...

Starts a bit slow but it's a good read. I think I'm suffering from Apocalypse Fatigue.

Paula said...

See - sometimes quotation marks *are* important!

expat@large said...

DH: if you're into haste, why not try some Dan Brown or Sidney Sheldon? Sheesh!

I LOVE the way Wolfe has handled the opening of 5th head. The liesurely pace is a diversion to lull you slowly into the anachronistic wierdness of Wolfe's colonialist world...

Either that or it's just slow.

Paula said...

"And digging deep means knowing them already, and caring enough to give a fuck about what people think, what motivates them, what they love, what they hate. 99% of the time... "

I liked that Phil! (and the rest you said there - women aren't merely commodities afterall..)

I'm looking at reading Noni Darwish's books: 'Cruel and Usual Punishment', and 'Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror'.

expat@large said...

Paula: well, we sort of know that about me already don't we?

I'm not sure I know the books, but I'll check them out, thanks for the tip.

Dick Headley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dick Headley said...

Somebody is wrong on the internet. My criticism of Garden isn't with the pace of the narrative. I did find some of the scenes in the strip club a little drawn out that's all. Gotta make money, poor little Franny etc.. Fine writing anyway and it helped build the tension.

expat@large said...

Something IS wrong with the internet.

Dick, I was only talking about your comment on the pace of Wolfe's 5th Head and the downer nature of Dubus and Johnson not their pace.

I'm still only bout 50 pages into GOLD. Ok so now I know it's a bit slow (maybe that's why I've paused), but there are strippers? You beaut! I'm back there!

Dick Headley said...

Sorry but I thought you were talking about haste. I like a long drawn out read sometimes.

I haven't even read Wolfe's 5th Head. Jesus Son isn't exactly a beacon of hope is it? Mind you the New Yorker published all those stories so maybe I'm missing something. Johnson is a good writer argument about that.

I thought Garden of Last Days was all about a stripper and a Saudi plane hijacker. Are we talking about the same book?

expat@large said...

Oh I thought you were talking about Wolfe, my bad.

Yep, slowly getting through Garden: I know about the stripping of course as it starts on page 1, but I haven't got to the plane hijacker bits. You've piqued my interest, I really might get going on it again. I really enjoyed House of Sand and Fog though, ripped through that.

You've got to be careful in the bookshop here as there is another writer named Andre Dubus, who is not Andre Dubus III.

Dick Headley said...

That would be his father. Also a good short story writer (according to Wiki.....I'll put him on the reading list).

expat@large said...

DH: Well hose me down and paint me stupid. I never thought of that simple answer. I just saw both their works in the bookshop and got a tad confused for a minute (lifetime). One with legs, one without. Praise the Lord for Wikipaedia.

rockstar69 said...

I'm a 'lil confused. Andre Dubus is the FATHER of Andre Dubus III.

Where the daffy duck was Dubus II????

expat@large said...

Rock: maybe a miscarriage of justice has occured here... Usually the second identically named progeny call themselves Junior (Jr), but sometimes that find that duminutive dumeaning and dubusive.

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