Monday, July 26, 2010

Just Kids

More about Just Kids

Managed to convince the guy at New Edition in Freemantle to unhitch his held copy of Patti Smith's autobiographical story of her relationship with Ropert Mapplethorpe. He rang the person who'd ordered it and he didn't want it anymore (is there something I don't know?) so here it is in my hand.

Now what? Read it I guess. Getting the book was easy compared to this part...

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe


She used to be with Sam... Sam... the actor, playright, bloody hell... Sam Shepherd. I hope there's something in this about their story too...


(I suppose most of you have already read this... Spike for certain.)


Remote Rap

Is it only back here in Australia that you have to do an elaborate overhead hip-hop rapper's manouevre with your arm to get a TV remote controller to work? Struggling with the concept of this. Why can't you just point it at your TV and the beast simply performs the function that you are attempting to infra-red at it without all the risk to your supraspinatus?

Or maybe it was through fighting to get their remote controllers to DO anything that the bellwethers of this style of musical performance were able firstly to discover and then to develop their admirable techniques?


p.s. imagine that there is a TV remote controller in this dude's hand. Or better yet imagine that I had Photoshop on this laptop so that I could PUT one there, pixel-wise.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kafka Quote Of The Week

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ... A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

Laugh a minute there, Franz.

(Image from David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb's illustrated biography,


In completely unrelated news:

Unseen Franz Kafka Writings Inch a Bit Closer To the Light


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Head In The Clouds

More about Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell must be the smartest guy on this or any other planet - his books are amazing. Cloud Atlas. Fragments of :- a Melvillian historical curiosity, an Isherwood-like epistolary piece, a Ludlum-ite crime-thriller, a numinous Sci-Fi philosophical story on cloning and what is means to be human, a Gene Wolfian future/past fantasy-world... and then all that again in reverse order!

I read the dreamlike Number9 Dream quite a few years ago and was astounded then by the near seamless mix of fantasy and reality and so I had bought *this* book eagerly, just after its Booker nomination. But for some reason (daunted?) I never got around to reading it. Then there was a terrific piece on Mitchell in the NYT/IHT magazine last month which I dare you to read and not rabidly hunger for anything he has written, from laundry lists on up! So I bought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and then I remembered that I hadn't read Atlas yet...


SO I was sitting in the chill outside Amalfi's pizza restaurant in Adelaide nursing a Coonawarra Cab Sav...

After initially admiring the cleavage (on display thanks to her wider and lower cut than necessary black uniform - black is the new black here in wintry Adelaide) on the waitress who had taken my table reservation at 7pm - "come back about 8;30" - I was a bit cheesed. Not her fault that's pizzas are great on a cold night I guess. In order to kill some time I wandered down Rundle St, wondered where all the people were, where all the pubs were. Australia just shuts down at sunset. Finally found a quiet ale-house after the mall had had petered out, one with a delicious leather chesterfield or three, all free. There I nursed a metabolic syndrome friendly Pure Blonde and went back into my book - Cloud Atlas.

In good time to make it back, I left that comfy spot and retraced my steps to Frome St. 8;30 - still nothing free. Takes a while to eat a pizza here. I ordered a glass of Cab Sav to warm my bones and perched my self at a small table on the footpath outside. There, stung on my freshly hair-trimmed neck by the chill winder wind until, smart me, I turned up my Drizabone jacket's collar. I took a sip of the wine that the obviously gay waiter (hey, this is Adelaide and hey, he's a waiter) had brought out, and I read another great chunk and forgot about the cold, forgot about everything.

I had nearly finished the glass of wine when another waitress came out, a younger girl, no cleavage on display as her top was much more practical for this weather. She said, "You can come in and thaw out now. We have a table for you." I laughed politely - it was a good line, even if she had used it before.

I rejected Gay Waiter's suggestion - pineapple(!?) - and ordered a spinach, chili and salami (?!) pizza. When it came it was way too much in every way - certainly size, but also with density of ingredients which I am no longer familiar with. Such monsters are apparently popular in this neck of the woods if full tables are anything to go by.

As I ran out of steam with a third of the pizza to go and half of my third wine left, I put in my new Shure head-phones, listened to Powderfinger again, called for a latte and buried my head back in the book. I love reading in... in fact I *prefer* reading in a crowded place, noise and confusion all around - I enjoy ignoring people. Their movement and clattering create a white noise around me that fills any silence and stymies any desire to step out of the world of the book. I can concentrate so much better when there are distractions.

Too soon, coffee done, wine empty, empty tables being wiped, chairs tidied up and it was 10. I called for the bill. Cleavage came over and placed the folder next to me, then she dashed off to look in the mirror in case her nipples had popped back in.

I put $50 in the folder and kept reading.

There was a presence at my shoulder. Someone was talking to me. I un-plugged one of the triple coned ear-raper plugs. "Do you like that book?" It was Thaw-out girl. She was quite young, early 20's perhaps, with clear, post-teenage, pre-Raphaelite skin on a small face perched on a tall body. Her eyes were the brightest blue and her unpretentious smile told me that her interest in the book was real.

"It's amazing," I flubbered. "He's the most brilliant guy ever."

"Yes, I loved it too," she said. "I got the new one but haven't finished it."

I nodded. She was gorgeous (or maybe her enthusiasm for Mitchell made her seem more so). How to keep her near me? Straw, grasp. "What else do you like to read?"

She mentioned Peter Carey ("but not the Kelly book"), Tim Winton ("he's Australian, too"). She picked up the bill folder.

"Did you study literature at school?" I pressed on, despite the Winton-is-an-Aussie clunker. (Well, du'h!)

She nodded. "I did two years at Uni, but now I'm working here because [here she shrugged her narrow shoulders, her black fabric top riding up just a bit more, apologetic for the coming cliche] I want to go overseas."

I nodded. She opened the bill folder and looked at the money.

"That's nice," she said as she held the note up to the lights and looked at it more carefully, "but we don't take Singapore money here." She handed it back and asked, " Are those monkeys?"

... Do'h!

Pay attention


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For A Buddy

If an apology from you meant anything I'd accept it now with grace
But you and I both know its just a ploy for you to save some face
If you've had any self-respect you would turn yourself in for your crime

Every time you tell yourself its alright
Every time you go to sleep at night
Every time you tell yourself its alright
It just becomes a bigger lie
I hope that you can stand yourself tonight

(Compleat Lyrics here)


I know from medium/mild bitter experience that not all relationships last forever. But to see them splutter out in such acrimony makes me fume...

And when one of two people you like deserves a million times better than what he been slapped in the face with (a second time, not counting the accident of birth), and the other turns out to be something more like a rapid and vicious harpy than the sweet thing of the wittiest, driest humour you thought you knew... Aaaahrrrghhh!!!

Best to burn it out in loud music...


Speaking of loud music, while other petrol-heads are watching the last gasp of the oil-driven, noise-junkies, internal-combustion, mutual-orgasm culture of some VERY loud machines going round and round, guess who'll be at eco-friendly and recently refurbished town of Darwin to watch one of the final concerts of the above band?

And maybe he'll do some barramundi fishing in the tidal estuaries. Hey, rock music and fishing - maybe Creepy over @ The Church of Lost Souls would enjoy this trip!

And who is it says E@L that has never fished before? [photo to come of E@L with a tiny leatherjacket (one of three/four) he caught in the river at Ulladulla (this name is not a joke) back in... oh, maybe 1984.]


Tokyo travelogue to come.

The Dance For Safety's Sake

I am so sick of those toefucker spam comment blogbots that continue to dance through Captcha's defenses that I'm turning on comment moderation.

Sorry, but it's for your my own good. Even though it might slow things down on this blog (as if that's possible) it's da only way to be sure...


Big Yellow Taxi

I used to recognize my way around this town not by the buildings but by the intermittent absence of buildings: by parks, canals, rivers and vacant blocks - particularly those enhanced with magnificent rain trees festooned merrily with vines and bright leafy parasites. And over recent years an incomprehensible number of new buildings have risen rapidly into these havens, these crevices between the established crop of skyscrapers and shopping-malls.

From these architectural absences, what were the reference points of nature in the unnatural city, the untrod expanses of green grasses and the soft spider webs which nobody sees and all those ancient trees, they are disappearing, they've already gone. It is as if they had been swallowed by the tunnels for new subways or pounded deep into foundations. And these new constructions - stylishly ugly, uniquely indistinguishable, fashionably transient - are now ubiquitous and therefore nowhere are they special. Shiny bright and flashy, neon and LCD, all the same because of their disparity. If everything becomes unique, unique becomes bland and cliché.

I get lost much more easily now that there are fewer anchor points of calming, reassuring non-buildings remaining. The only way left to be truly unique in this town is to not be here.

Rain trees by Newton Station. These are gone.

Delicate webs in the grass. This is gone.

Construction Site. All the trees beyond the fence are gone now as well, sacrificed for the second stage of the Circle Line subway.


Singapore's tree museum.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


Hope I get some free time to write up some of the cool experiences (nothing much untoward) in Tokyo. Either before I forget or before I die of them. Ho ho.

If this post reads like a twitter, I'm sorry dudes. I'm back in Singapore for 24hrs, laundry is in the machine and off to see Inception now.

Due to a miscalculation (Sat -> Sun = 8 days! Who woulda thunk?) I ran out of blood-pressure tablets last night, so chances are that I will heart have a heart attack or stroke out during this one. Luckily I have a time-bomb on my 'pewter that will wipe out all my porn should I not type in a code-word every 37 years.

Shit, gotta go.


Addendum: Inception was AWESOME - loved it. The best movie I've seen all day! Mind you, on the plane I'd only watched (for some masochistic reason) Zombieland, and the first three minutes of both the 1981 version and the 2010 version of The Crap Of The Titans. So...

No, seriously, it's terrific. As my buddy said, Christopher Nolan doesn't treat the audience like we're all children or idiots.

OK, and so to bed. To sleep, perchance to dream... of spinning tops.


Friday, July 16, 2010


Must say I love this town. Then again, maybe it's the people I'm hanging with. Even if they are all from work, they're from all over the world and that's great for stories and crapping on.

That's right - a fresh audience for my tales of mis-adventure and buffoonery...

Meeting is keeping me fracking busy, so hence no posts for a while.

Ja mata! (Be careful how you pronounce that! The first 'a' should be long.)


Friday, July 09, 2010

Why Advertising For Bad Products Still Works

The supposedly innocent BBC interviewer asked the interviewee why companies who advertised at the World Cup were prepared to pay so much money for this sponsorship.

He said, “Companies crave such unique chance for mass exposure in order to associate their product with this immensely popular sport to the world-wide audience. However this means you must have a good product to sell. If you have a bad product people won’t buy it.”


I thought about this for a second. Why didn’t the interviewer ask the next question that to me seems obvious?

How do people know it a bad product UNTIL they buy it? From bitter experience I know that it is only once I purchase a product that I find out that the advertising and hype were bullshit and the product is a clunker.

What the interviewee really means, and perhaps he may not know he means this because his beliefs in the capitalist mentality cloud his objectivity, is that if you have a bad product, people won’t buy it AGAIN. But even with that qualification, for one-off sales to the susceptible segments of a world-wide audience, immense profits are there to be reaped.


Your faithful economics adviser


Thursday, July 08, 2010

No Flat-Nosed Dwarf Eunuchs In *MY* Temple, Saith The Lord

[Not sure if I've already blogged this tale, but never-mind, here it is (again.) And I swear on Joyce's Ulysses it is completely true.]


E@L and a buddy were at a conference in Canberra, heart of party-land Australia (well, the porn industry anyway). We were sharing a room due to cost restraints implicit in the Kennett Government's attempt to balance our hospital's budget - along with the rest of the State of Victoria. Victoria was allegedly on the verge of bankruptcy thanks to exposure to an escalating pension debt (but only if everyone in the state retired tomorrow.) We had been "Jeffed", as they used to say.

Anyway, it was a free evening and we were about to head out to one of the companies' parties (free pizza and a certain amount of grog) at some hotel bar or other. We charged ourselves up with a swig or two of Glaywa liqueur (why we had this is beyond me) and in a fit of brilliance, I said we needed a theme for the night. In my mild-mannered Antichrist persona, I decided that a Biblical quotation would be perfect for this. I grabbed the Gideons Bible from the drawer of the desk. Always good for a laugh, the Gideons.

I trusted (still do) in the power of the Lord to guide my hand in finding a suitable text. I randomly opened a page and, looking away towards Heaven (a Nor' Nor' Easterly direction, about 8 miles from Canberra), pointed my finger (a random finger) at the thus anointed text. Then I read out the passage below, in a voice strong with conviction, from the Lord's chosen book, Leviticus 21.


[18] For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
[19] Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
[20] Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
[21] No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.
[22] He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
[23] Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
[24] And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.

Slight pause, as you might imagine. (Talk about access for the disabled!)

I threw the holy book on the bed and cried out with an exultant shout, "LET'S ROCK"!


(This post prompted by comments on Alvin's FB concerning those who cherry-pick their beliefs, stimulated n turn by this FB page.)


Friday, July 02, 2010

E@L At The End Of His Tethering Tethered Tether

A Russian guy emailed me a while ago asking for H.G. Wells' last book which I had mentioned a while ago in this blog. He says he couldn't get a copy of "Mind At The End Of Its Tether" in Russia (in English). While I mentioned in that old post about scanning the short book at work, I was unable to do that as I could not borrow the book. I am not a member of the public library here.

When I pointed this out to him, he asked me to go to the Singapore Library (he almost insisted), take secret photos of the book and email them to him. Certain amount of admirable bravura there, right? I was rather miffed that he, a person I didn't know, would impose so much and expect me to infringe copyright laws so blatantly to make a complete stranger happy and there being nothing in it for me particularly when there is a high danger of me being caught... and caned.

Maybe he thought I was the risk taking type. No way. I have very few Dopamine receptors and these are easily saturated. Yes, my thrill-seeking needs are satisfied with such simple things as making dinner, or taking onboard the stress and anxiety of leaving the flat in the morning - I am quite agitated and fearful about the articles necessary for my employment or entertainment (often my headphones) that I have inevitably left behind on the dining room table, or on the bench beside the toilet bowl. I am strange like that.

But I was mystified as to why Mr Russia would go to such lengths as to email me (like it's hard to find me) to obtain a copy of Wells' weird and almost unreadable diatribe.

Maybe Mr Russia liked "War Of The Worlds" and thought this might be similar? So, rather accept this mission, I sent him a link to Amazon. D'uh.


Tethering. Tethered. Tether.

Pronunciation: \ˈte-thər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English tethir, teder, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse tjōthr tether; akin to Old High German zeotar pole of a wagon
Date: 14th century
1 : something (as a rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so that it can range only within a set radius
2 : the limit of one's strength or resources "at the end of my tether"


Shortly after Sony released their mirroless NEX-3 and NEX-5, they released the first firmware upgrade today. Got my Sony NEX-5 two days ago (review and pics later), and I can say this update came at the best time. So what’s new with this firmware? Sony added 3D sweep panorama (but only viewable on their own Sony Bravia TV, gee!). Hong Kong Tech Phooey

This is a recent example of electronic tethering. HKPhooey is roped and chained to another Sony product (which he may not even have) if he is to fully utilize his new Sony product.

[Aside: Both products, being manufactured Sony, are carefully (and expensively) designed to fail a short time after their warranties have expired. A small but crucial projection of plastic will petrify after a certain time of exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun and will snap away. A switch will fail after a certain unavoidable build up of dust interposes itself between the contacts, etc... There are thousands of way to make an expensive device such as a camera functionally collapse after a certain time. Beyond that, new designs and new technologies and new marketing campaigns and the pressure for middle class conspicuous consumption (or status anxiety) can make the purchaser regret his earlier decision and feel inescapably forced into grabbing the latest supposedly 'better' model.]

An article that once would be described as an asset has, through its impermanence, become a consumable.

Henri Carter-Bresson used the same Leica camera with a single 50mm lens for many years.

HKPhooey buys a new camera every 20mins it seems. I'm not so bad: after 12 years in the electronic discount world of Asia I have only bought three cameras, seven or eight phones [two, maybe three of them were lost] and one video camera. OK maybe seven MP3 players as well. (Though I am tempted by a similar Four-Thirds model to the Sony, Panasonic's LumixGF1)


Apple iStore, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and their dependence upon iTunes... These are the most famous, profitable and obvious examples of product tethering. They show how successful is the semi-universally acknowledged truth of the immense corporate importance on products being branded or tethered. And they reveal how the limitations thereby imposed on the products pass with blind acceptance to a large section of the consuming (i.e Western) public.

It boils down to the acceptance of enforced restriction of product requirements by consumers augmenting the profits of corporations. You have to buy from us, no question.

The supposed foundation of capitalism, Competition, is removed from the equation. The greatest complaint against unrestrained capitalism comes to life - the creation of Monopolies - and everyone in the $299.99 purchasing demographic capitulates to its inevitability, embraces it, even praises it. But there is a price to pay. There is now a hold over millions of consumers and this has become centralized, in this case with iTunes. If iTunes goes down, all of the associated products will eventually fail as well, because there is no (legal) third party, no fourth party, no way out of the Apple loop.

This is the future of the internet and potentially of other appliances and commodities in general.

IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted — but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet — its “generativity,” or innovative character — is at risk. Jonathon Zittrain, The Future of The Internet

When the big corporations, such as Apple, want us acquiescent and silent, what can we do except...


I foresee that day when Reebok shoes will not 'work' if you are wearing Nike socks.

When Fisher and Pykel refrigerators only accept New Zealand products.

When Westinghouse washing machines only accept Omo powder.

How fucking annoying the future will be...


"The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past, only far more expensive. John Sladek

"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." George Orwell

"When did the future switch from being a promise to a threat? Chuck Palahniuk


I'm tethered at the end of my tethering tether.


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