Sunday, December 29, 2013

Home WiFi (Advanced)

When I came home from Melbourne, my second WiFi modem was not accessing the internet. Why should it? Perhaps a tad unreasonable of me to expect this. It's only a modem wired to Cisco Starhub modem. This is the one in the lounge-room which I need to get WiFi access elsewhere in the apartment and to allow the Apple TV access to my iMac (you might need to chase up my FB or delve into the deep past here on the blog for more on this). I had tried to use it as a range-extender but that failed so I just made it into a new wired node.

This would not have been an urgent problem had not SPG and BF be staying with me in Singapore prior to our Philippines NYE holiday. As they couldn't access the internet in their room or the lounge-room so they were a tad WWWedly frustrated. The WiFi signal (which was working BTW) from my Starhub-provided Cisco piece of cable network shit doesn't make it out of my bedroom, as you should know by now.

So I did the OFF/ON thing, as they had tried. Nothing. I attached the LAN cable directly to my iMac in order to access it to check the settings but I couldn't even find the modem! (Yes I used the correct IP address.) So I did a hard reset for the lounge-room modem.

And there was success, up to a point! I had found it via the LAN cable! Therefore I was able to get into Set-up and reset the password etc. Then it rebooted, promising to work. I replugged it into the Cisco Starhub modem, as well as my iMac, and turned it OFF/ON, just to give it a helping hand with the new connection...

You guessed it: Still no WiFi. #Openswindowsinorderto ... But I sighed, slowly, and closed the windows...

Next, thinking that others with such problems might have found a solution in some forum or other (as if such equally gadget-incompatible fuckers exist, what was I thinking?) I turned WiFi off on my iMac and decided to search, via ethernet connection, online for some possible answers -- and I noticed that I had no internet access! This should have been via the LAN cable attached to the CISCO modem! That should be working! WTF?

So I turned to Cisco modem OVER to look for its IP address in order to get into the Setup for it but of course it didn't show it, so and sat it back down again in frustration.

And then I saw that my ethernet access had returned! WTF again!

So I turned on WiFi and - spooky mystic weird - the lounge-room WiFi was working again too! Triple WTF!

Merely turning over the Cisco modem seemed to have solved the issues...

The network equivalent of kicking the tyres.


I am cursed. Truly, cursed.


(I have a witness to this.)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Miley Cyrus and Domestic Vyrus (Deconstructing Mylie)

You don't have to go far in the deconstruction (Ha!) of "Wrecking Ball" to get to the core message of its message as stated quite overtly in "I am sorry I got angry when you forced sex on me."

Rape is OK.

Fair enough. In this case at least. She claims that she over-reacted and is really sorry. She started it, right? Maybe he thought, "Don't! Stop!" was actually "Don't stop!" and, later, in hospital, she didn't understand. Hey, it happens sometimes. We all get a bit miffed at something relatively minor and we let fly with a sarcastic comment that can hurt someone's feeling. It seems that this 'surprise sex' episode just tipped over the scales and she did things she didn't mean to do, viz: come in like a WB and start a war.

I mean, it's not as if rape is a serious offence, universally condemned as a rule (at least in the West), a power play of sex and violence, punishable with a range of severe penalties according to where you are in the world. Well... yes it is.

Um, most of us would consider rape to be one of the worst things that a person could inflict upon another, but not Miley. She sees it differently, at least in this case. All this guy ever did was rape her. That's all.

But does she mean "all you ever did" in the sense of "that's what you did that one time and it wasn't that bad, really. Hey I probably deserved for not getting dressed in the morning and wearing my underwear around the house all day like a lazy slut."

Or was it in the same sense as, "all you ever do sit around playing on that stupid PS3 and you never lift a hand with the domestic chores!"? That would mean that, for the bf/hubby, rape was (like it was for Arnie the killing machine in The Terminator) "all he does." One can legitimately wonder therefore, is ray-ay-ya-yape an habitual state of affairs in the Miley Cyrus household? Domestic violence a Cyrus family virus?


I haven't put the uncut video up here as, a) you've all seen it, and b) I don't want to encourage young kids to sit un-hygenically* naked on wrecking balls, and to risk getting some oral or gastro-intestinal bug from the licking of sledge-hammers. ("She really likes that hammer!" commented Ellen Degeneres, which I thought was funny, and who also criticised her for not wearing appropriate safety gear as the eponymous wrecking ball smashed through the wall behind our typically under-dressed pop star.)


Another interpretation could be that this is not a disgusting display of misogyny, exploitation, and perverted moral values with a great thumping, sing-along chorus. It is, rather a wry social comment on a contentious international political situation: the alleged rapist under the spotlight could be Julian Assange, and Mylie might represent one (or both) of the Swedish girls who have accused him of failing to wear a condom in a safety zone (hence the construction site metaphor).

Don't you walk away! Come back Julian, all is forgiven!


* chlamydia in koala bears, a real issue. One theory was that it is sprea d by the doped-up females sleeping splay-legged in the forks of tree where another (also stoned on eucalyptus leaves) koala bear has kipped.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Design and Discrimination

E@L and some of his colleagues were in a meeting all afternoon yesterday with two Head Office bigwigs (head of design, and ex-president) who were there to tell the wonders of what they had been doing all these years to justify their stay at the Fullerton Hotel while the our corporate profits tank. [No, they're not tanking, actually. Stock prices are up 15% in the last three months. You should have bought in 2008, as should have E@L. 300% recovery. Anyway, /digression.]

They only spoke Japanese, but their slides were in English. Nevertheless they read each line, or E@L gathered they did by the tracks of the laser pointer, in Japanese. Then each phrase they had spoken had to be translated for us, and the translator also used a laser pointer to go over each point on the slides carefully. Tedium. Once, the speaker and the translator got a bit lost / confused. They chattered on in Japanese while they perfected the oral translation -- for 4min and 35secs. For the ONE SLIDE - and it was already written there in English. How do I know it was 4:35? One of my colleagues who i thought was taking notes but was actually working on next week's training schedule, timed them. E@L was wondering which of us would get shot when we were the first to stop clapping after one of Stalin’s four hour speeches.


Turns out these guys weren’t all that boring, deep down. After a tea-break they got into some much more interesting freestyle speeches. AND it turns out one of them could speak English moderately well after all! (There’s 4:35 of my life I’ll never get back.)

They had graduated up to near-god status in the medical ultrasound world from their base experience designing washing machines, all those years ago [Tom Stoppard reference]. This caused a suppressed snigger up the back. Not because there is anything wrong with this company's washing machines, they’re quite good in fact, it’s just washing machines don’t have printers, and neither does our latest ultrasound model.

However the main guy said, interestingly, that he went to design school with the most famous unknown legend you’ve never heard of, Fukuda Tamio, who was the key design consultant whose famous(?) 1993 report to Samsung triggered a major turn around in their industrial philosophy, by pushing for higher emphasis on design for convenience, not just better technology. This was in their mobile phone business - back when they were battling Motorola (remember them) and not Apple.

According to legend, as recounted to E@L yesterday, Samsung Electronic’s President, Lee Kun Hee, read Fukuda-san’s report on a flight from Seoul to Frankfurt and was so charged by it that he called for a meeting of 200 executives from around the world in Frankfurt in just two days time, to discuss its implications and the turn around in thinking it demanded.

“Change everything except your wife and children,” he famously said, in a what we would now call a sexistually [new word!] discriminatory speech, to the jet-lagged execs on that landmark day.

And the rest, E@L’s acquaintances, is history.


Speaking of discrimination...


Yeah, so there had been 18 odd people of various ethnicities sitting, fascinated, in the room. A dozen approx at the boardroom table and six less important types (like E@L) up the back in chairs against the wall, passing secret notes and giggling, like at the washing machine and printer hilarity. When the slide said “circuit bore”, it was not a self-disparaging comment on the travelling roadshow lifestyle of the speakers, but a misspelling of “circuit board”. Stop laughing, ow, my jaw hurts, my belly is in cramps from this punitive tsunami of amusement and jocularity.

This morning E@L sees one of those people, a guy from the adjacent office, walk through OUR office on a short-cut to the toilet. Sigh, They do it all the time. One day, someone’ll catch E@L in mid snooze…

E@L asks his cute (but married) Chinese colleagues - who had been sitting next to him at the back wall yesterday - if she knew the name of that senior guy, the Indian man, who E@L sees all the time but could never remember his name since they were first introduced two years ago, who works in the office next door, important, finance maybe, the man sitting to Yai-Wan.

CBMCC: What Indian man?

E@L: You know, the Indian guy. The balding one with glasses. Is it Danesh?

CBMCC: There was no Indian guy there yesterday.

E@L: Of course there was. The guy next to Yai-Wan. [In this instance E@L’s memory was clear - Yai-Wan is also cute.]

CBMCC: That was Takazumi-san.

E@L : No, there was an Indian guy BETWEEN Yai-Wan and Takazumi-san.

CBMCC: There was?

E@L : … You just don't see brown people, do you? They're not real to you. It's like they’re some sort of non-people.

CBMCC: Noooo (laughing)... I didn’t see anyone, because Tim was in the way, that’s why. I really couldn’t see him.

E@L : I KNOW you couldn’t see him! That’s my point! It’s because he’s of the melatonin enriched races isn’t it? Because of the colour of his skin! He might as well not be there. Singapore will have 9million in 2125 and you won’t even see 3million of them! You Chinese are just so… so fucking… so racist!

She was pissing herself laughing at this btw (it's the way E@L tells 'em), couldn't believe she didn't see him, but it was due to where she was sitting. Yeah, right. Like there were thousands of people crowding the room.

E@L: Oh Singaporean, why li dat so racist one?

CBMCC: (hitting at E@L with her tiny fists) Nooooo! It’s not like that!


Ooooooh, yes it is.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ice Wine

E@L had left a bottle of Australian (Victorian, no, even better: Bellarine Peninsular!) white wine in the freezer overnight. Accidentally.

BWOE, it was meant for a quick chill, but he opened a bottle of red in the interim and forgot about it.

He found it this morning. The (composite) cork had protruded a bit but else-wise, fine - as in: nothing had exploded.

Now, on an empty stomach, with no idea what to have for dinner except a handful of cashews, after the wine has been thawing all day, E@L takes a sip...

Sooooo, is this mild wet-nappy* aroma predominant because the wine has been frozen, or was the freezing incidental to the fact that it was already an 8 years old Pinot Gris? Not all that fond of wet nappies, but you know, E@L has tasted worse. It is all a quest. Life is a quest - never stop. Bad wine, good wine, sometimes you just don't know until you vomit it all up on the coverlet at 3am on the couch in a stranger's house in mid-winter, your surfboard at your side.


The red wine was, on retrospect, crap as well, huck spit, he found on tasting a half-glass of the left-overs before he moved on to test the white. (No he doesn't always finish the bottle once it has been opened! Usually, but not always.) Sarth Effrican - shudder!! Who brought that rubbish to E@LGHQ?

OK, E@L is off to find something more substantial than nuts to eat. Um, he means drink.


* E@L needs to take a wine appreciation course so that he might have some less ill-refined terminology in his oenological vocabulary for such olfactory descriptions.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Beauties - Anton Chekhov

Nearly made cry, thinking of the Days of Odette.


“What are you looking at there?” I asked.

He made no answer, but only indicated with his eyes a feminine figure. It was a young girl of seventeen or eighteen, wearing a Russian dress, with her head bare and a little shawl flung carelessly on one shoulder; not a passenger, but I suppose a sister or daughter of the station-master. She was standing near the carriage window, talking to an elderly woman who was in the train. Before I had time to realize what I was seeing, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling I had once experienced in the Armenian village.

The girl was remarkably beautiful, and that was unmistakable to me and to those who were looking at her as I was.
If one is to describe her appearance feature by feature, as the practice is, the only really lovely thing was her thick wavy fair hair, which hung loose with a black ribbon tied round her head; all the other features were either irregular or very ordinary. Either from a peculiar form of coquettishness, or from short-sightedness, her eyes were screwed up, her nose had an undecided tilt, her mouth was small, her profile was feebly and insipidly drawn, her shoulders were narrow and undeveloped for her age — and yet the girl made the impression of being really beautiful, and looking at her, I was able to feel convinced that the Russian face does not need strict regularity in order to be lovely; what is more, that if instead of her turn-up nose the girl had been given a different one, correct and plastically irreproachable like the Armenian girl’s, I fancy her face would have lost all its charm from the change.

Standing at the window talking, the girl, shrugging at the evening damp, continually looking round at us, at one moment put her arms akimbo, at the next raised her hands to her head to straighten her hair, talked, laughed, while her face at one moment wore an expression of wonder, the next of horror, and I don’t remember a moment when her face and body were at rest. The whole secret and magic of her beauty lay just in these tiny, infinitely elegant movements, in her smile, in the play of her face, in her rapid glances at us, in the combination of the subtle grace of her movements with her youth, her freshness, the purity of her soul that sounded in her laugh and voice, and with the weakness we love so much in children, in birds, in fawns, and in young trees.

It was that butterfly’s beauty so in keeping with waltzing, darting about the garden, laughter and gaiety, and incongruous with serious thought, grief, and repose; and it seemed as though a gust of wind blowing over the platform, or a fall of rain, would be enough to wither the fragile body and scatter the capricious beauty like the pollen of a flower.

“So — o! . . . ” the officer muttered with a sigh when, after the second bell, we went back to our compartment.

And what that “So — o” meant I will not undertake to decide.

Perhaps he was sad, and did not want to go away from the beauty and the spring evening into the stuffy train; or perhaps he, like me, was unaccountably sorry for the beauty, for himself, and for me, and for all the passengers, who were listlessly and reluctantly sauntering back to their compartments. As we passed the station window, at which a pale, red-haired telegraphist with upstanding curls and a faded, broad-cheeked face was sitting beside his apparatus, the officer heaved a sigh and said:

“I bet that telegraphist is in love with that pretty girl. To live out in the wilds under one roof with that ethereal creature and not fall in love is beyond the power of man. And what a calamity, my friend! what an ironical fate, to be stooping, unkempt, gray, a decent fellow and not a fool, and to be in love with that pretty, stupid little girl who would never take a scrap of notice of you! Or worse still: imagine that telegraphist is in love, and at the same time married, and that his wife is as stooping, as unkempt, and as decent a person as himself.”
On the platform between our carriage and the next the guard was standing with his elbows on the railing, looking in the direction of the beautiful girl, and his battered, wrinkled, unpleasantly beefy face, exhausted by sleepless nights and the jolting of the train, wore a look of tenderness and of the deepest sadness, as though in that girl he saw happiness, his own youth, soberness, purity, wife, children; as though he were repenting and feeling in his whole being that that girl was not his, and that for him, with his premature old age, his uncouthness, and his beefy face, the ordinary happiness of a man and a passenger was as far away as heaven. . . .

Anton Chekhov: The Beauties (1888)


I heard this, listening to the Guardian podcast, with Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass) reading, and had to find it.

I spend most of yesterday afternoon looking... Never thought of the web.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cash In Hand

In the middle times of the Asian Financial Crisis, I arrived in Hong Kong for I had found my way.

It was just under a year since the Great Handing Over of Hong Kong to the bosom of the middle kingdom, and things were looking decidedly shaky in that little island in the South China Sea.

A few months after I arrived, the Hang Seng Index starting dropping suddenly. Nothing to do with me. It was under pressure from those fucking hedge funds (George Soros, etc...) who for some reason felt like taking immensely leveraged incremental profits by laying short trades in Hong Kong stocks.

The HKD would have to be unpegged from the USD in order to save the market, cried the Chicken Little hand-puppets of the hedge funds, the media.

This fight had started earlier, in 1997, but it was a poor effort in the Yen that triggered this more urgent one, which hit its peak velocity in August 1998.

And it was happening very quickly, like, REAL fast, and what if the ultra-laissez-faire government did nothing? Everyone knew was that the Yuan WAS going to be unpegged from the USD any day now, then for certain the HKD could not be saved...

So those HK financial authorities made a crucial decision to get some good old (and hypocritical - to them) intervention going. They pumped money into the market, buying blue chip stocks to stop it up quickly, huge amounts (by those days' and my bank account's standards) of money flying around, staggering at the time.

Then someone heard: Hey, the Russian Rouble is going to be the next to fall! Look out! (All these rumours that, rumour has it pinned, Soros and the hedge funds had started.) Once again, for the second time this week the Hong Kong market was on the verge again of going into a tail-spin unless - Soros rubs hands - the HKD was sure to be unpegged.[*]

So the financial authorities pumped even more money in! Would it work? It couldn't be sustained, could it? HK would go broke!

It was en edgy time, to say the obvious.


So meanwhile, my flat-mate Scott, a young risk analyst with one of the big multi-letter companies, was watching this on his computer screen at work and on CNBC's Squawk Box, and got so spooked that he transferred all his money into USD before what he was certain was going to happen, did happen - the HKD crashing...

All of his money. He emptied everything in his HKD accounts in order to not lose a single penny when this impending disaster hit.

I do mean ALL of it. He had no HK money at all. He had also emptied his wallet of whatever cash he had and bought USD notes.

Can you imagine what that implications of that would be?


Next morning:

"Hey E@L, can you lend me some money for my taxi?"

[*thinks*] No fuckin' way, banker-wanker risk-idiot. Why don't ya walk, it's free. And its not far, we're in Hong Kong, not the Aussie outback, everything is 15 minutes walk away. It's stinking hot, it's raining, humidity 1G%... walk! You sell all your money and then you bot of me because you haven't any cash for a fucking taxi! Are you a moron? Do you think I am the moron? Why the fuck would you jump out the window to get rid of your CASH? You still have buy things in Hong Kong, idiot. Even if it crashed last night, it's not like the HKD$25 in my pocket is suddenly not going to get you into town this morning. Hand, forehead, slap. Total incredulity...

"Sure Scotty. Here ya' go. Okaaaaaaaaaaay... You buyin' the beers tonight?"


(some prescient words at the end of the linked article: " hunch tells me that the battle is not over and that a next attack is very likely, unless U.S. government realizes the danger of hedge funds to the world economy and set some regulations to control them." Ha!)

* [sorry first draft of this had an ellipsis of the crucial word "not" - the HKD was never unpegged.]

Every Stroke I Paint Will Be Alive

“Nothing I did before the age of 70 was worthy of attention. At 73, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am 86, so that by 90 I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At 100, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at 130, 140, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive.”
Katsushika Hokusai

Inspiring words. But how can we ever come to grasps with our true understanding of what it means for us to be alive when hardly any of us have time free from the immense struggle of day to day survival to think beyond our next step, beyond the next school lunch for our children, the next dollar to cover health care, the price of a tank of petrol. Philosophising is great for those with the luxury to sit back and contemplate. All the platitudes about stopping to smell the roses,

Obviously this does not apply to me. My issue is too much time on my hands and too much money in them.


Little Murders

Perhaps deep down in the hidden, reptilian parts of their brains, some of the gun-nuts in America are sort of hoping that the world will keep on its slide into an even greater nightmare of school-shooting rampages, stand your ground blasts to the body, babysitters with handguns, and concealed weapons legislation relaxation, etc, because...


Because they have this little grin-fucking idea that, you know...

It would make a fucking great movie!


And then there's Edward Snowden and the Angela Merkin fiasco to consider...


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Diary Of A Drought Year

In my sister's garden shed last week my son found several nylon bags of my books. They just have been there for 10 years or so. The bags had degraded and other stuff had been tossed on top - fibreglass insulation batts (thankfully not asbestos), cushions, ceiling fittings, a lawn-mower....
Rain had obviously seeped in underneath on the filthy concrete slab and so many - very many - of the books were destroyed by mould and insects.

The pile of to be discarded mush included several first editions and some otherwise collectible editions. I asked him to just throw out whatever books were beyond repair and only keep those that had survived the trauma in an OK condition as to be able to be placed back on shelves, and those which had been only minimally damaged but seemed important or precious stuff - he knew what I meant. One of the items he found in the shed was this once black notebook (lower two pictures), and he thought it worth a look from me.



Just to make it clearer, we are cleaning out my sister's house and yard during her divorce - I am buying the place, partly to help her out and partly as an investment and partly as I have no base in Australia. As Mum's house is soon going to be sold, I can't continue to have my "c/o" mail sent there. So we had been clearing out that house as well, therefore my sister's place was doubled up with stuff - we are all hoarders too which doesn't provide my help... Long story - will save it for another series of blog posts.

So I opened the note-book (and I think from the look in my son's eye as I did so he might have already perused it) and I found five, seven pages (my hands are now dusty after putting it away and I don't want to extract it from the plastic bag again to confirm the count) of my usual left-handed scrawl. What had I been writing about? And when was this?

The year was 1983. We were four of five years into a long period of El Nino induced drought in Australia. Water usage restrictions were harsh. No watering during the day. All our lawns were dead. You couldn't use a dish-washer (not that we had one) and washing machines were frowned upon. Trees were falling apart, falling over, brittle and withered. We lost a lovely old peach tree (good Darwin the fruit had been luscious, but they only ripened on the branches over the garage roof.) Large bushfires had been ripping though the country. Nat was six at the time, and so I was 26. My wife and I were saving money to go to Europe. It was to be our final fling as a married couple, or so we thought. She was working as a Nursing Aide (the role doesn't exist anymore, nurses have to do it all the shitty stuff themselves these days) and I was working part-time doing holiday relief. I wanted to write something, some stories and god the attempts were awful - pretentious and ignorant.

I think I had bought a book about journal-keeping as I would have been skipping through Anais Nin's diaries at the time I think. What great idea. You're a writer young man. Writer's write. Rather than continue to fail to think something up, write about what you think, what's happening. Don't think of any audience, or think of yourself as the only reader. This is memory jogger, but a confession as well. Do it which ever way you want. Letters. Q&A. Whatever. Just write.


So now, more than 30 years later, rather than write anything new, I type this (relatively) juvenile drivel up instead. I haven't changed anything. These are real names: Patrick White, for example.


Journal Of My Thoughts Diary Of A Drought Year

I am unsure of who I am, if I have a genuine personality - something more than a series of characterisations to suit particular audiences. Who (I groan inwardly as I write this, it sounds so dumb) am I?

Am I that very intelligent person which Gerald and Mrs Sheriff say I am? Gerald when he wants to cut me down, Mrs S. when she tries to egg me on to write something?

Am I the stummble-tounged fool who can't make a simple comment about the weather without a grammatical faux-pas, a malapropism.

Am I the scared and lazy lover, reluctant to start sex, fearing rejection? No, not that. Fearing acceptance. Yes. Why so?


I: Sex, why do I fear you?

S: You are cautious, but it is merely that you are once-bitten.

I: Twice shy. Why can't I respond willingly when Chris is horny? Why can't I be eager without faking?

S: You can.

I: Occasionally. Rarely.

S: You don't like to hurt people.

I: Yes Chris is almost always disappointed. Don't laugh. If I try and try, she gets bored, she says "Don't touch my boobs tonight, just fuck me." What's the use, I can't please her, she's too fickle. I'd rather sleep.

S: Or masturbate.

I: "Sexual intercourse is a poor substitute for masturbation," says Quentin Crisp.

S: You quote a homosexual's philosophy, are you homosexual?

I: I... I... I don't think so. What do you think?

S: You have an eclectic eros which is perfectly natural: You are part female, part male, both in the same body, in the same mind.

I: … [?]


Who am I?

Am I the forgetful and lazy student? (Lazy twice already.)

Who Am I? A list.

Role - [neg] +[pos]

radiographer: - indifferent, helpful
writer: - untried, aspiring
husband: - inadequate, patient
father: - uncertain, learning to care
intellectual: - laughable, not much competition
music lover: - behind, eclectic
musician: - failing, flashes of skill
driver: - careless, lucky


SU 27-2-83
I am disgusted with the weather.- it refuses to give rain in any useful quantities. This morning at 5:00am I was at work, feeling dirty and sweaty due I suppose to being up at such an ungodly hour, and I said to one of the nurses: "I wish it would rain."

"You and a thousand others. What' so special about you?" she asked.

"My soul," I said, "is desiccated. not only my liver."


TU 8-3-83

Came home with a one-legged taxi-driver, his money-pouch hanging in the place where his thigh should emerge. It is raining a bit, but limply, and there is no wind. The air is like marmalade. Sweat oozes at any slight exertion.

Passport has arrived. Mine only. The others should come tomorrow, soon.

Saw Karen Burkett at work. She has just come back for a year and a bit in Europe. Worked in England, travelled a bit: Ireland, Majorca, Turkey, Jugoslavia, etc…

Last night waiting for the bus I saw Mark Bell. He is just home from sailing around the Pacific and Australia (I think).

It seems like the auguries are coming thick and fast - go to Europe, got to Asia, go go GO.

If I could just get clear of this Australia: it's just bullshit. I need money though. I would feel secure if I had $15,000 before we left.

Karen said she was burgled twice in Dublin - car broken into… bad omen?

I have been thinking of Dublin, boisterous, dirty, dear Dublin. Would like to see it - pubs, etc… Soon enough, soon enough.

Q: Why did I say Australia was bullshit?

A: I am ever wary of nationalism - this is a small planet - and it is getting a bit feverish here lately. Buttons, pins, T-shirts, bumper-stickers, are appearing everywhere - buy Australian goods to support Australia. I am wary of that too. Witness a bit in the Age a while ago where a student told that his 'work experience' consisted of replacing "Made In Korea" stickers with "Made In Australia" stickers. Hmmm. Just who are we professing to support!?

This country is not so hot for the liberal-mindind really.We couldn't get a motivated political group like the "Greens in Deutschland. We haven't got a socialist press. We can't even get good books. All the major magazines are unashamedly anti-left, pro-royalist, they campaign for the nauseous [sic] causes and the 1 ½ million housewives believe it because they can't get contradicting ideas into their homes let alone in not their skulls



After several months of slog I have finished 'The Vivisector.' [1st Edition. Common as muck in Australia. Can't confirm that it survived, but I think it was in a different place. Am hopeful.]

White demands time - commitment - both of which are in short supply. I burnt through the last 100 pages in a day and naturally my mind was reeling with the images of Duffield and particularly his paintings, so much that when I went to bed I found myself dreaming about them. When Christine came to bed I was asleep but she brought [me] about ¼ out of sleep so that I was only vaguely aware of her and my body. She lay on top of me, and I was dreaming we were in the paintings - abstract and surreal - entwined yet dismembered - mostly indigo blue - very dark and angular, with a Cuttbush [?] moonlight. My cock was hard and burrowing into her belly as I turned and she rolled across, but it was a long mast, and she a billowing canvas, painted in black against an indigo dream night and Sydney Harbour sparkling with semen. We were the two lovers in the park - the fleshy rocks - distorted, half absent or more than half - and particularly on the left was a darker patch - but a bright triangle as if light from a streetlamp in a bayside park illuminated things obliquely. I was the park, the tree, the light, the moon, the ground and still the lovers - through I can't remember if the fucked - perhaps not. This odd sensation of dreaming yet being partly aware of your body is a dislocating experience, It felt strange but nice, though I wish Duffeild's paintings were more cheerful.

Speaking of dreaming, Cindy told me a dream she has last week in in which her father (estranged is, I believe, the expression [step-father anyway]) had died and her brother had to identify the body. Next day [awake] she visits her mum who says causally, "Your father died last night. P**** (brother) had to identify the body."…….

Is there a God? I ask myself.

Superluminal communication. Happens to selected people. I told Cindy she is probably an alien awaiting fulfilment - a la Doris Lessing [her Shikasta series] - when the New Age begins. Joseph [another friend] is probably one as well, as he seems so in tune with the cosmos… must explain this one day - now I must defecate. ---


A young E@L

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Entertainment Threshold

N, the daughter of a friend, and her boyfriend (?initial), are staying at E@LGHQ over the weekend. They had flown up to Singapore from Sydney (he thinks) to attend some significant party or other that was cancelled at the last minute, but hey, and so here they are.

E@L was in the lounge room on his comfy chair - a rather maltreated Moran recliner - munching on some walnut and raisin bread toast (from Cedele, IMHO the only decent baker in Singapore) reading The Guardian on his tab (soon to be replaced by an iPad mini - which is needed to read his work email when at home or on the hoof as the VPN is only supported on a PC or on an Apple phone or tab iOS6 - to be replaced on Monday actually [today is Saturday]) when he heard some shuffling near the door behind him. N and (?initial) were preparing to head out. It was 10am, their fast had been broken with scrambled eggs on plain white toast, E@L had noted earlier (where was his?), and they had the whole day in Singapore to investigate, tour, find some fun...

"Where are you off to?" inquired the perhaps over-stepping the mark E@L. (Their lives, right? What business is it of his what they do - they are close enough to adults - N. is 19 or 20 E@L thinks. Whispy-bearded (?initial) looks about 16.)

N is stepping into her outdoor shoes, her hair is slick from a shower. (?initial) is looking sheepish as he holds the door open for her. ("Let's escape quick!" he might be thinking. "This man was screaming like a lunatic at the telly all last night!" [The Cats were in the process of giving away a handy lead - they lost in the end and will not be playing in the Grand Final next weekend - which means that E@L's long-ago booked, high-expectations, wishful-thinking, redeemed-points trip to Melbourne to watch the big Match at the MCG will have lost its savour.])

"We're going to the waterpark. You know, those really big slides and stuff. Then we'll probably find a beach somewhere there." (All of these planned activities are on that small island at the tip of Singapore, Sentosa - So Expensive Nothing To See Actually, as the taxi drivers acronym it ["Acronym" as a verb, surely that's a first! Maybe "acronymize" would be be a better word], which in fact has a lot more to do now that there is a casino/resort and associated family-centric entertainments there.)

"Have fun," says E@L and reverts to his tab.


"What's my day got in store?" asks E@L of himself.

He might walk to Great World City - 45mins to an hour in the humidity and blistering sunshine (it actually looks a bit cloudy - hope the kids find some sun on the beach) - and there settle in at the Spinelli on another comfy chair with a hazelnut-choc spin (although the banana-choc spin sounds a tad healthier - you know, like, fruit) and a toasted sandwich and, maybe, some oatmeal cookies, and definitely with a Kindle book. The Crimson Petal And The White,, most likely (He has 140 books on there to jump between without ever really settling on the one he has promised himself to finish [Infinite Jest and Volume 3 {The Guermantes Way} of In Search Of Lost Time still beckon]) as he has just completed his dead-tree version of Under The Skin, also by Michel Faber (and the film version with watsername - girl with big lips, ah yes Scarlett Johanssen - is being released soon, or maybe it already has, but anyway it is not on the torrent sites yet), a book E@L has had on his shelf for several years and has only been prompted to read it by the awareness of said impending movie, and the new mini-series based on it {i.e. The Crimson Petal and The White} is "coming soon" as well.

And that's about it for E@L today*.

A walk, lunch, a book.

And that's enough to satisfy him. Truly, it is.

Kids, enjoy yourselves risking life and limb.

Someone else who will be enjoying himself is



* Oh, there's a house-warming party tonight at some friends' new place which is just near Orchard Towers. Sigh. Here we go again.

Guess where we all end up by 2am? Half-naked hookers and three-quarter naked lady-boys and drunken brawls over drunken johns with drunken fuckin' losers from Australia (see video) and existential angst and guilt and toilets ankle deep in piss, vomit and wet toilet paper and alcohol and crowded bars and dim black-light and thumping music and your crotch grabbed at and come-hither-sucker smiles by black hookers from Colombia and white hookers from Kazahkistan and tight-skinned yellow hookers from Vietnam and where do all these men come from and some tears here and some spit there and sprained ankles from trying to pole-dance and rounds of tequilas for all the Filipina bar-girls who subsist and earn their passports back on these $45 shots and body-shots off dark-skinned flat-chested Thai girls/boys who cares by now and massive unexplainable credit-card bills and big gaps in memory and maybe an end of adventure rub-and-tug to calm things down and walk home, 25 to 35 mins, and feel like extruded, plasmatic crap for the next three days.

And on Sunday, a walk up to Spinelli around mid-afternoon for a hazelnut-choc spin and a toasted sandwich - if there are any left - and, yep, some cookies, and then dissolve in an unquietly be-dreamed nap on a comfy chair - if he can find one.

Enough for one weekend.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Daze Of Our Lives

So you live out your years, from childhood and adulthood and every minute (every indivisible moment of now) something is going on somewhere in your life, even if only in your head, some minor dramas, some issues to be solved or obstacles to be negotiated, these are occupying your attention to the exclusion of any leisurely philosophical contemplation, but it seems that, when you do really try to assess it - or someone else, like a dispassionate Alien on a earth-recon perhaps, is taking notes (calling Dr Freud) - that you don't know, don't fully acknowledge that you are alive, because you can't keep yourself aware of it all, all the context as well as all the interior life, all the time, except for some moments when, unlike that fish never realizing it is in water (you are human not piscatorial after all and have self-awareness, allegedly), when you realize that something you didn't know you had is missing. What is it? Why are you feeling so exposed, so evacuated and abandoned?

Your life is missing.

It was all around you all the time but such is the depth of immersion, the genuine profundity, that you didn't even notice. After all the effort you spent on your living acts, it seems you weren't aware that everything you were doing depended on a crucial factor: your presence. Slap. You could just as easily not be there. Your life, you continuing to be alive, is a shrug of the universe. You realize, suddenly struck by the obviousness of it, that life is the medium in which you act and move. Out of life, nothing can be done, you are completely impotent: you flap and make a fish-mouth for a little while and then you either get thrown back in or you don't...


And so there might come a time or two, short times, brief times when something happens to you or around you and then, after that, for a while, you live in the awareness of being a palpitating animated mind, a consciousness independent of everything (you could be a brain in a jar, who would know? Other jugged brains?) yet crucially dependent upon various arrangements of atoms and upon the sensations of reality they bring. These are those times and, ironically, they might seem inconsequential, annoying or frightening while you are living them, those times that are crucial in establishing the definition of who you are, where you've been on this journey, or where you may go and what you may become, given the opportunity. Some burst of drama: nearly dying maybe; or someone crucial to you being damaged; maybe even you are suddenly, unexpectedly in love.

These are the incidents and moments, epiphanies, whatever you call them, that they write books to analyze, make movies to try and reveal. Even though they may not be much fun, (or they may be, up to a point) it is only then, during this nowness of a crisis that you start to notice the air going into your lungs, to feel your weight upon the attracting earth even as it spins, to smell the filth on the Italian street, to see the wrinkled skin on the beggar Gypsy woman playing a saxophone (IKYN) on a train in Barcelona, to hear the roar of traffic on Sukhomvit Rd or of the deafening cicadas in the Darwin bush, to see the real intent behind the look in your friends' eyes, to truly acknowledge love or to understand revenge. Triggered by some brief snippet of an incident taken out of your continuous life, such as the bursting climax of a gradually building disaster (like coronary atheroma), here is something that needs a screenplay, that needs a short story or novel.

It's like the feeling you get when you finish the book and look up in the coffee shop to the kids studying or FBing on their Macbooks with tepid green tea lattes on their tables, or when the movie ends and the lights come up amongst empty sugar drink containers and hyper-salted popcorn boxes, and you are out of that world suddenly and into the real one.

Or is this the world for which you must suspend your disbelief?

And, is so, for how long does this last?


Homer has a day like this.

"“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” is about as sentimental as The Simpsons gets, but it ends on a gloriously cynical note that goes a long way toward undercutting the sentimentality; over the end credits Homer watches television on the couch with a big, uncomplicated grin that suggests he’s learned absolutely nothing from his brush with death. Others who might have gone through Homer's travails might approach life with a new urgency and sense of purpose, but Homer is intent on sleepwalking through the rest of his life as lazily as possible. We wouldn’t have it any other way."


Friday, August 30, 2013


E@L is in sunny (can say that for once without being ironical, even though it is still raging mid-winter) Melbourne for a week or so and is staying in Chinatown in an apartment-style hotel. Bedroom, kitchenette, laundry, sort of thing. Excellent. Cheap. Ish. (He has to pay himself for Laundry Service at the hotels he usually stays at. It covered by his per diem, but hey! $5 for a pair of underpants at some places!...)


Monday: already there is washing to be done, those clothes he wore on Sat and Sun down with his sister and mum, and now Monday's smalls, etc. There is a sachet of laundry powder and E@L uses it up for the load. But the controls for the washing machine are different from what he is used to (it's a sales differentiator) and E@L is a little bit lost because each of the cycles are sort of separated on the dial, in that it doesn't seem to be a single line of progression, one in which the rotary selector moves around, clickety click, as the machine goes though it cycle. It's unusual (to him). Cotton settings (a number: time or temp?) are here with a blue line between the choices. Gap. Coloureds are here, with a red line. Gap. Polyesters are here with a green line. Gap. Rinse, Drain, Spin is over here with a pink line. The coloured lines don't touch each other. Does this mean you have to manually move the selector to the rinse cycle once your selected wash cycle is complete? Shit. How to use a washing machine?

This is the stuff that E@L used to pay The Mouse to sort out. It is currently Super Maid Joyce's problem. (She fixed a broken (i.e. smashed) hinge on the washing machine door the other week. E@L was about to buy a new machine.)

He chose one of the cotton cycles - god knows what raw materials his clothes are actually constructed from - and went off to do whatever the fuck it is that E@L does in the evenings that consumes all his time but doesn't give him a chance to blog. Ninety, maybe more, minutes later, the machine is still doing its chug-chug-spin thing. It sounds exactly as it did at the start. Surely it can't still need to be washing. Maybe it's broken... E@L leaves it for another 30 minutes. Still the noise is unchanged. Nup, this is wrong. He fiddles with the On-Off switch, tries to open the door and get the clothes out, but no luck, it is hermetically sealed. He pauses it - the lights on certain buttons change, or flash. He turns the dial to the Rinse, Drain Spin quadrant and presses the Start button again. It chugs away again, but the mechanical refrain seems much the same as the mechanical chorus from before. Sigh. He heads off to grab a late night latte around the corner and let it sort itself out. When he returns, it is still going. He goes to bed. But he can't rest. He is up in 5 minutes and resets it to just the Spin part of the final cycle - it can't have anything left to drain! Back to bed.

He is on the verge of falling asleep when, suddenly, he couldn't hear anything! The silence slapped him awake. The washing machine had completed its eternal (sic) loop. Phew! He loaded the extremely exhausted clothes into the drier and left them to spin in hot air for 90mins behind the closed bathroom/laundry door, while he went to back to bed.


By Tuesday evening he had already another small load ready to go, just to keep options open in the underwear department, but the laundry powder sachet had not been replaced that day by the maid who had tidied up the room (not completely, just placed fresh towels, lined up the bed-linen, etc...). Maybe you have to ask/pay for another sachet? So on Wednesday morning E@L asks the receptionist who replies that the laundry sachets are complimentary and she will make sure that one is placed in the room that day.

Wednesday evening, E@L returns to the hotel, and surprise surprise, there is no laundry powder. It's OK he muses, he can last a bit longer, he has clean underwear after the first load and it's not like his main clothes are actually dirty, just a bit stale.

So Thursday morning, it is a different receptionist, but he asks if they could please put replacement sachet of washing powder in his room. "Yes, that's standard." "Well I asked yesterday as well and I didn't get one," mumbles E@L as he goes out the sliding glass panels...

Things are getting tight, he realises. His two business shirts haven't been rewashed - they've been worn twice already this week - and ditto his trousers. Socks are tough because he uses two pair a day as his shoes are one half-size too big (don't ask), but panic not, he has enough underwear for the rest of the week.


Thursday he returns from work a bit early, mid-afternoon. The room has not been made up. The bed-sheets awry, the bathroom floor covered in talc, his wet towels on the floor. It's just as he had left the place this morning. Maybe the cleaner has not been in yet.

But hang on...

There are THREE (3, count 'em) sachets of laundry powder on the washing machine...

E@L can't help but imagine the domestic help throwing those sachets down and storming out without doing any other cleaning up - "Here, you complaining cunt, take your fucking washing powder and shove it!"


(Turns out this was not the case - the room-buzzer went a few minutes later and a domestic was outside the door, smiling and asking if E@L needed the room made up... Maybe the receptionist had brought the sachets up himself after E@L's grumbled mumbled semi-complaint.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kara Bogaz? Hydrology and Despotism

Still haven't finished whatever book I said I started a while ago, um The Secret River, but did finish the third of David Peace's Red Riding books, 1980, one to go, and also got distracted by one from my Anything Russian days, Engineers Of The Soul, by Frank Westerham, who is an Dutch engineer/writer of some skill, about the typically tragic history of the writers and filmmakers who tried to document the construction of the great canals that Stalin was building to connect the rivers and seas and lakes of the USSR, and in particular one place no-one has heard off, Kara Bogaz, which is a huge sulfur and salt rich shallow body of water in Turkmenistan, like an giant aneurysm off the Caspian Sea and that may not even exist on some maps (it evaporated in the early 1980s when the inlet from the Caspian was blocked), but it was a book about much more than that as this is the time when political insanity tore apart the lives and families of artists, writers and, of course, engineers all through the USSR.

Just about anything that went on in Soviet Russia with Stalin's Cult of Personality is crazy, but his attitude to writers in particular was very VERY strange. (Simon Sebag Montefiore suggests in Young Stalin that maybe this was because he thought of himself as a bit of a poet. Or was in Martin Amis in Koba The Dread? Whatever.)

Stalin wanted writers to "Engineer The Human Soul" (i.e. the souls of those "Russians" who hadn't starved already or been executed yet) with uplifting stories of workers and the proletariat living heroic lives in the wonderfully successful Socialist empire, exemplifying the Ideals of Courage and Patriotism by battling subversive spies and crafty saboteurs in order to bring in that bumper crop to exceed the targets of the five year plan... or to shovel ice and mud for a thousand kilometres and dig a trench for magnificent hydrological marvels that would makes the corrupt West angry and jealous, (and not wash away with the spring thaw) and, incredibly yet understandably, writers would do this. Stalin expected his hydrologists to make rivers run uphill to realise his grand plan of interconnecting canals and he demanded that his writers convey to his people all the soon-to-be-truths about wonders of these soon-to-be-perfect achievements.

The larger the water engineering projects, the more despotic the controlling regime, according to Karl Marx.

In the end it was conform or starve or be off to the gallows or the gulag, and even if you were a staunch believer, something that you wrote years ago that Stalin or Gorky loved might suddenly, on a whim or as part of a purge, become OOB (out of bounds) and so it would be bye bye and please don't mention that many of those canals were never successfully completed, or were never even remotely successful as far as water navigation was concerned and were sad wastes of thousands of lost lives.

The Secret RiverNineteen Eighty (Red Riding, #3)Engineers of the Soul: In the Footsteps of Stalin's WritersYoung StalinKoba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


The patient has Thai mystical tattoos all over his chest back neck and arms. Cool. Painful. Ouch. Not for E@L

Our anaesthetist for this session is a very fat man. He has stretched out his green scrubs, scrubs that would be loose on E@L. With chubby, baby-fat fingers, unexpectedly, he handles the syringes and needles and connectors and ampoules with an amazing felicity - he is deliberate, accurate and precise, and his pace of action nicely measured, never rushed, never hesitant. Measured as if it were timed on a steady, beta-blocked systole. The task of lightly* anaesthetizing the patient runs with a smooth ease E@L doesn't think he has ever witnessed before. It makes E@L smile to see this.

The anaesthetist's large hands (indeed his entire body) have no wasted motions. In latex gloves that cut into his wrists, those hands move smoothly into position like they had been programmed for a carbon-based industrial machine, or as it is if he has been doing some anaesthetics-dedicated medical Tai Chi with his extremities for as long as he has lived. Every attitude of his pudgy fingers is predetermined and choreographed. And so too, the paraphernalia of his tools, their packages and protective covers fall exactly open, part perfectly as designed and then the connectors connect, the ampoule top safely* cracks off with a soft pop, the needles pierce, the fluids run out or drip in as though according to a divine plan. Gravity's persistence, the adhesion of a packet edge's glue, the resistance of a rubber stopper, the reluctance of skin to permit entry unless the needle held with the bevel at just this angle, the pendulum arc of a length of cloth-tape that is flicked with the ring-finger across the arm to land on the junction of cannula and skin and have the optimum pressure applied to make it adhere as the fore-finger follows it down in one continuous motion: all of these vagaries which would catch E@L, or any other human, at first, at any attempt, he anticipates perfectly and executes flawlessly.

And this is the images that gets E@L, that defines the experience: He holds his thick pinky aloft, like drinking a cup of tea, as he turns a syringe end into a 3-way stopcock.

He chats amiably to the patient and everyone else in the small theatre throughout this (questions for E@L: Where are you from? Wow long are you in Bangkok? etc... Bar-girl chatter) without losing concentration. He is a most unlikely perfectionist, and the nicest person.


The thin surgeon seems to know what he is doing as well, but who gives a fuck about thin people, they always consider themselves perfect, they don't need E@L to sing their praises.



E@L fucking hates him. Fucking food geek.

Heston fucking Blumenthal. Heston fucking just-do-this-and-it's-going-to-be-perfect fucking Blumenthal. Fat Duck? Fat cunt.

Heston on How To Poach The Perfect Egg: a) water at 80deg b) use an inverted plate to keep the egg from the bottom of the pan (it might poach unevenly, heaven forfend) c) freshest of eggs (preferably with chicken shit, rooster cum and matted hay still on the shell) d) break egg into a slotted spoon and allow the excess fluid to drain (it would only form those fairy-wing stuff) e) place the egg carefully onto the bottom of the upended plate, f) cook for six, or was it four, minutes, yes, it was four minutes.

Meanwhile; coffee, Vegemite on toast. Then plop on perfect poached egg - perfect breakfast.


E@L is now in Izzy and D's kitchen in Den Haag. He cricks his neck, as he has slept on the couch [it's a brilliant couch for sleeping on actually, no neck stiffness at all, that line about cricking his neck was a joke - crriiiiickk], and his coffee from the elaborate Impresso machine in hand (in a cup), ready for breakfast. It's 11am, D is already at work, Izzy and E@L about to cook - it's just the old team back together.

OK, poached eggs it is. Let's follow the recipe, why the fuck not?

Find a plate that fits into the saucepan. This plate is too big, that one maybe too small. Maybe it's the saucepan than is too big, too small. This plate, a tea-cup saucer, it'll have do. Already with the compromises. Heston NEVER compromises. Water is already 80deg, wow, they have a temperature guide on their kettle, awesome. Gas on, water in, saucer in. A bubble is trapped under the saucer and it won't sit flat. E@L goes to put a finger in to turn it up - stupid child! He catches himself in time and uses the slotted spoon instead! The water in the pan cools quickly according to the thermometer - a large nail on a long wire to a digital readout that Izzy holds. With her other hand Izzy adjusts the flame, monitoring, adjusting, monitoring, the thermometer dutifully beeps at 80. She moves around him to get the slotted spoon and E@L sees the mystical Thai tattoo on the nape of her neck. They keep tripping over each other in the small kitchen, but poaching an egg takes two people, right?


Egg one: E@L cracks the egg and already there are drops of albumin on the bench-top, already a mess in the making. The slotted spoon lets the thinnest fluids drain away, tick and the egg slides in and there is not enough water - the top of the yolk is exposed. Izzy turns the kettle on again. E@L spoons water over the top of the yolk as the albumin, slowly, ssslllooooooowwwlllyyyy whisps towards coagulation over the yolk. A bubble burps from under the saucer, Izzy adjusts the flame, the thermometer beeps, the kettle clicks off, she adds the water, E@L stops spooning.

Egg two: E@L holds the slotted spoon this time, and he tries his patented one-handed egg-crack and shell-split manoeuvre but some sort of surface tension threshold is breached and ALL the albumin slips from the shell through the slots of the spoon, leaving, plop, only a naked yolk. Mmmmm, obviously not fresh enough. Slide it in.

Egg three: crack OK this time, drain OK, slide into the water OK, but there is another bubble fart from under the saucer and, still amorphous, the egg slides like a plasmatic ghost escaping an exorcist over the ridge of the bottom of the saucer to rest on the forbidden bottom of the saucepan, at the edge. It soon starts to set in the shape of a croissant (a buttery pastry in the shape of a Muslim flag's crescent moon, I suppose you knew that), but E@L cannot coax it back up onto the saucer.

Egg four: see egg three, damn.


Ka-chunk: toast pops up, butter, Vegemite (in Den Haag! Awesome!)

Izzy's iPhone egg-timer beeps. Four minutes: first one out. Let it drain on slotted spoon. It seems very wobbly, maybe because the yolk was exposed early (like a teratogen to a fetus) and couldn't cook. Shit maybe it WAS six minutes (we are working on the memory of a TV show watched last night, maybe on dope). Second, the yolk, out. Not much to drain. Another minute and then E@L scrapes the two croissant eggs of the wall, drains them and slips them onto Izzy's plate. She has some watercress decoration.

The first egg was indeed nicely done. The white set in a nice oval and was firm but not chewy, the yolk was yellow on it's outer orb and deep orange inside, runny but not liquid, almost perfect. The yolk-only one good as far as you can expect a yolk to be, very runny too but somewhat embarrassed. E@L enjoyed them, despite the mess on his shirt from the runny yolks.

Izzy's two are overcooked and misshapen, obviously, the whites were over-firm, the yolks pale on the outside and not very runny. Maybe it should be less than four minutes if the egg rests on the saucepan's surface...


Only one of our four patients' operations went as planned, Dr Izzy. Not quite a perfect session. But there'll always be more googy-woog patients from where they came.

Izzy nudges clumsy E@L in his fat belly. Perfect in other ways.


* we are doing some day-surgery stuff, various endoscopy things

* you wanna see the scar on E@L's thumb?

Monday, July 15, 2013

In-Flight Movie Reviews - Stoker; Hannah Arendt; Thirst; Trance

13hr or so flight from Barthhhhelonya to Singapore. Watched 4 movies. Plane left at 10:30am arrived at 11pm - 5am local time... Done.

Sleep all morning. Done

Have things to do: not done.

Instead: brief in-flight movie review.


Stoker: Even if you hate Nicole Kidman, this is a very stylised creepy movie that you might find interesting. Then again you might hate Nicole Kidman too much to care. Brief cameo of Jackie Weaver - always good to see. (This is nowhere near as creepy as The Others though.)
- 3 stars

Hannah Arendt: woefully didactic script, wooden acting by all but the chain-smoking Arendt. There are authorial intrusions everywhere, mainly through the three other actors who have lines. Yes, we get the point: Eichmann was a dull bureaucrat and Jewish leaders could have done more. But how? - the crucial point which would address most of her detractors is never properly addressed. Sure, people admired Hannah the lecturer/philosopher then, whoof, they hated the journalist/philosopher to BITS! And she used to sleep with Martin Heidegger. But zay didn't undershtaaaaaaaand.
- 2 stars, mainly for the historical footage of Eichmann in the dock.

Thirst: Korean director Park keeps the humour subdued for the early part of his 2009 vampire rethink/parody, then it gets going. Fun/sexy mostly, till the drawn out end. Mum-in-law camps it up nicely, as does gorgeous and newly thirsty Tae-Ju, to counter the brooding priest/vampire Sang-Hyeon.
- 4 stars

Trance: Boyle = over-stylised crap IMHO. He's done nothing that's got to me since Shallow Grave and Trainspotting (I didn't see the Olympics). Even the gratuitous (and gratis!) sight of Rosario Dawson's depilated natal cleft failed to rouse my interest in this painting-heist, bang-on-head, lost-memory, professional-hypnotherapist*-required, flashy, superficial flick. And if you thought Inception was confusing, particularly when watching this one straight after the previous three, you'll need an implausibly competent hypnotherapist to help you to remember why you bothered.
- 3 stars, mainly because James McEvoy is not anyone's vision of a leading man yet he's still getting away with it.


* oxymoron

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ambulance Beer Barcelona

An ambulance, bi-toned siren blaring WE-are, WE-are, WE-are, turns the corner past the "cerveceria" on La Rambla where E@L is sipping a burnt-flavored Catalan beer, reading an ebook and listening to a Guantanamo-like concatenation of Aaron Neville singing about Rainy Nght in Georgia and a wheelchair-bound old gypsy playing Russian folksongs on a weather-beaten accordian. E@L sighs and lifts his beer and... feels a chill wave of mortality and melancholy wash over him like the brisk wind (which has picked up today), as he thanks whatever gods may be that the ambulance is not coming for him.

It is almost one year since he climbed that tower in San Gimignano and felt the steel spring winding tighter in his chest and soon heard another ambulance, siren on, and it was coming for him, to take him to the hospital in Siena. Every minute since then he has been anticipating another call for an ambulance, expecting every exertion, every rush of excitement or anger to be the one to trigger a new incident, and possibly an incident of greater severity. He is aware of something from a book he recently read by a woman who had breast cancer*, that there is strong pressure socially not to carry on about his fears and feel down. That might bring others down too. He has had to keep operating, psychologically functioning, keep smiling, keep positive, not remind others, by harping on his coronary hypochondria, that they are equally mortal, they, poor boys, are bound to die just as surely. We all block this, we don't think about it, we don't want to freeze in an existential panic.

But when you know that the threat is right there, beating away for the moment, but that is on the point of seizing up in a, dare we say it, in a heartbeat you can't help but feel pretrified, terrifed. Why should you have to deny your real feelings, the sadness, the depair, the anger? When E@L read a report on a recent piece of research which showed that as many a 25% coronary survivors suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it made him wonder what stern stuff the other 75% are made of...

E@L now has that awareness of a hair-trigger death with him always, as he has had with the neuropathic pain that had kept him constantly aware of his own feet for half a dozen years until the best cocktail of drugs was found. Of course E@L was/is stressed by the whole affair. It's like being hit by a car and surviving, and that afterwards, you are not just being more cautious when crossing the road, but knowing for certain that every fucking car on the road really is out to finish the job.

If you see E@L pause for a fraction of a second, if he looks towards you but doesn't quite seem to see you, and if he pulls his mouth back into a slight grimace and then slowly sighs, you should know that a flicker of something has touched him with reminder of the fragility of his existence, someone as not walked over his grave, but pointed out the hole in the ground with his name at the headstone, that something has jiggled the pin of the hand-grenade in his chest. He might then see you, and relax that grimace into a slight smile, because he is alive after all and he doesn't want to upset you with how close the opposite possibility was just a second earlier.


His plate has a small lump of ambiguous matter on it; shiny, mucinous, soft, like something retrieved from a clogged artery, but it is merely a load of Roquefort he had dropped from his pork fillet and cheese bocadillo into his cappuccino earlier and only discovered when he swallowed the last dregs. He fished it out with the coffee spoon, wondering at first if it was not an "easter-egg" from the tourist-hating barista. Meanwhile, the gypsy squeeze-box player is wheeled away by his twenty-something grandson and, a minute later is replaced by a toothy middle-aged violinst.

His iPod has shuffled him to AC/DC's Hells Bells - "you're only young but you're gonna die."

If the coincidence was even vaguely amusing he would laugh but instead, he orders another beer.


E@L was spending a similar lunch time yesterday, his first day in Barcelona, still not checked in, on La Rambla; beer, bocadilla and coffee (note to self: no more than six coffees in four hours when jetlagged) and coming to the conclusion that there was a Pretty, Young Girls In Minimal Clothing Convention on in town somewhere nearby. Many of the men sitting in the shade in the tapas bars in the center of the strip, sipping beer with E@L, were also admiring the passing parade of delegates.


* Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-sided"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Internet Nakedness

In regard to Edward Snowden's leak of information about the capabilities and the extent of the internet surveillance that is going on without our approval, let alone knowledge, I feel stripped naked.

The argument that "if you having to hide then why be worried about the NSA having the information on your internet travels and email correspondence" does not hold water. It's like a nudist telling us all to go naked because we are all the same (within a normal distribution curve) beneath our clothes.

Yes, that's true, but I don't WANT to be naked all the time.

Have you got something to hide? YES, my dignity, my personal habits and preferences, what I would have liked to think was my private life!

As far as criminal activity is concerned, terrorism or child pron, no, I having nothing (much) to hide in my online presence, but I don't WANT government agencies or, worse, businesses having access to what I do online or who I talk to on my phone, criminal or not.

My activity involves reaching out to things in the web or on the phone network far away, outside the dark solitude of my artist's garret, into a public arena, but it's private in all other ways. It's me, it's mine, fuck off: I don't want you and your marketing people looking over my shoulder. It's creepy if nothing else.

My land-line phone calls are public in a sense as well, but if you want to tap my phone, have something concrete to suspect me about, then go get a court order or a warrant or whatever it takes. Ditto, I would like to assume, for my mobile phone use and my computer actions and interactions.


But, we all know that this creeping intrusion is inexorable. But I feel its progress into our electronic selves is as pernicious as it is inevitable.

Unfortunately for those of my cast of opinion, it is only going to become more comprehensive and much more pervasive. There is so much more information than we can comprehend currently being gathered by the Telcos as well as government agencies, and when they run their mining algorithms and the private gold of your prefernential activities is extracted, you are for sale.

The essential technology to gather and to extract useful information is there, to sell the soul of you, and Telcos are making money on it already. It's up and running now in a structurally limited way, but within a few years as the bandwidth of data gathering expands, that deluge of data will be able to deliver up such a wealth (literally, for someone) of information to "interested parties" that taking advantage of it will be overwhelmingly tempting - especially as it will be in real-time!

You know how Morgan Freeman had that huge aggregated screen in Batman The Dark Night, showing how all the phones in Gotham city were being tracked with "sonar"? That is not only on the way, it's here. Well not completely 3D and transparent, but still with an extraordinary amount of detail.

This is wrong!

Yes, indeed. To an extent anyway, this is happening now, but, says E@L's secret source in the industry, the technology currently will only allow 24 hourly updates. Currently. It's true. Every 24hrs, the location of your phone has been sold to someone. In the not too distant future however Singtel / M1 / Starhub / 3 / Optus / Verizon / Telstra / etc... will be selling crucial information of astounding detail in real-time, and making enormous amounts of money (they make enormous amounts of money on SMS's already.)

Information could be as detailed as how many iPhone users are currently shopping in Plaza Singapura: within seconds all those iPhones will be beeping with spam SMS's about the latest Spotlight savings deal, about the 50% sale at Marks & Spencer, the latest 24hr-hit CGI blockbuster in the cinema upstairs; ads targeted to their owners' previous shopping history from the database that was generated when their history of on-line shopping was sold previously.


Some of you think that this will be a good thing, of course. You don't want irrelevant spam. The businesses certainly will love it. But it is much more than those targeted ads that pop up on your web browsers.

This is exposure to a degree that a few years ago was unthinkable, unless you were watching Minority Report*. Now we know the US Government agencies have been doing this all along. As have those Telco businesses.

I feel that I am being stripped electronically naked, but I'd rather keep my internet body covered, thank you. It's not that I have things to hide, it's just that I'm shy, and I would prefer if my non-nude lifestyle choice was respected.

I should have the rights, and the freedom, to be shy, to be demure, keep my fucking clothes on.


* and now your games consoles and your TVs and your phones are responding to hand gestures... Fucking amazing.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Link To Someone Else's Blog

Terrific review of a book I really love.

John Self at Asylum reviews The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz. Wish I could a review a book this well. Wish I could read and remember what the fuck was IN the fucking book.


It is difficult to sum up the force and formal perfection of the pieces here without extracting one in full. Most contain something that felt to me like a punch in the gut, perhaps because so many link back to the patient’s childhood. One woman recalls a miserable time at boarding school, and payphone calls to her parents: “I was crying hysterically, ‘Please can I come home, please can I come home?’ and being told, ‘No, you can’t come home.’”


Old Quotes

After that excellent quote from Claude Levi-Strauss in the previous post, it thought it might be interesting, relevant, amusing, heart-breaking to list the quotes I had on the side column of my old blog (the layout of which seems to have fucked up of late...)

The entire first chapter of Tristes Tropiques is an extended attack on writing memoirs and travel stories BTW. I feel really motivated now! And so should you!

We don't need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much.
Robert Walser

One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it is possible, speak a few reasonable words.

We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department is fucked. It's the biggest cock-up ever. We're all completely fucked.
Sir Richard Motteram,British Civil Servant

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
Mark Twain

To write is to attempt to know what we would write were we to write.
Marguerite Duras

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
Thomas Mann

a) Don't lie if you don't have to.
b)Assume infinite intelligence and zero prior knowledge.
Leo Szilard

...if I can be allowed a mediocre generalization, don't pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life and it'd lose even its imperfection.
Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

The truth is scandalous. But without it, nothing has any worth. An honest and naive vision of the world is already a masterpiece... As you approach the truth, your solitude will increase.
Michel Houellebecq

And if a man lived in obscurity making his friends in that obscurity, obscurity is not uninteresting.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

My only job is to be talented.
Anton Chekhov

Boredom, of course, like any mighty force, you must respect.
Saul Bellow

He often made great mistakes and arrived at false conclusions, still he had so much genius and knowledge that a great part of his work will always remain true.
Arabella Buckley, (speaking of French naturalist George-Louis LeClerc, Comte de Buffon, Intendant (Administrator) of Les Jardins des Plants, anticipator of Darwin and Lyell)

It is only kings, and the nobility, and those fortunates who dwell in the tropics, where bread grows on trees and clothing is unnecessary, who have reserved seats in this world.
Charles Dudley Warner, (from an address to the Alumni of Hamilton College, NY, 1872)

I may not agree with what you say but to your [?my, someone's] death I will defend your right to say it.

I may not agree with what you say so shut the fuck up you fucking fuck.
No-one will admit to this one, but I have my suspicions.


Tristes Topiques

I hate traveling... It is now fifteen years since I left Brazil for the last time and all during this period I have often planned to undertake the present work, but on each occasion a sort of shame and repugnance prevented me from making a start. Why, I asked myself, should I give a detailed account of so many trivial circumstances and insignificant happenings?"
Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, 1955.


Why indeed. I've done fuck all in the past fifteen years myself, except fritter away any self-allotted writing time on this and the old blog. Fuck all on anything serious. But I've been meaning to do a heap of things with all those blogged words - tie all the Bruce and the coffee and the taxi stories together. Thread a genuine novel (I DO have a plot) into the weft of these inanities. But I haven't.

And I've really cut back on blogging (I'm presuming you've noticed this). I guess, like the 250,000,000 bloggers who aren't Savmarshmama or Xiaxue, I've gone off the boil. I have my reasons. None of which will stand up to any tough (reasonably tough) scrutiny.


But here's one - it's 12:30a.m. and I have to work in the morning. Late morning. But work tomorrow does means to chat with a Doctor over the incubator of a tiny premature baby and explain why my machine will make his task... well, you get the idea. Tomorrow's work is pretty important, so I should get to sleep now. Yet here I am.

And here's where that excuse falls into a hole. I've been going to be at 2am to 3am lately anyway. I've been facebooking, wanking (sometimes combining the two), Game Of Thronesing, reading online newspapers and books (incompletely, incompetently and superficially), and did I say wanking?

The late hour is no excuse.


Perhaps it's something to do with the slight heart attack angina incident I had in Italy last year (and the dubious celebration of its anniversary - I can come off one type the rat-poisons they feed me - comes soon). Perhaps I've hit a fatalistic slump; my despond is being held captive in slough; I have lost my way in the dark forest of my middle age. I don't know what to do, and why I'd want to do it anyway.

Actually, dedicated readers will be no doubt aware of my tendency to melancholia (and alcoholia) when I pause from chronicling the outrageous and amoral misdeeds of my buddy Bruce. And I have paused. As Bruce has paused. For medical, cardiac-cripple, shit-scared of dying suddenly reasons.

But here's where the pseudo-depression excuse falls into a hole. I've been FBing like a maniac. Lots of little pithy asides, running gags, etc... that are annoying the fuck out of the remaining "friends" of mine who have not yet had enough of the fuck annoyed out of them to unfriend or ignore me.


Maybe I have nothing left to say here, at length.

I haven't been working on any novel.

I haven't been taking any notes.

I haven't even wanted to.

Perhaps I should get back into the habit of writing first.


And now - it's almost after 1am - I do feel like typing a long rant and a raving post on god knows what unimportant cerebral ejaculation - something you don't (or shouldn't) do on Facebook. Mmmm, not such a bad idea, my kind of fun perhaps.

Ah, I wonder if I might be able to get back in to blogging a bit more reliably and pull out some more inconsequential trivia to provide a bit of light relief and amusement or to provoke deep philosophical snippets for all of us, at greater length tha FB or Twitter. Mostly for me though.



Monday, May 27, 2013

The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

The Green ManThe Green Man by Kingsley Amis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know the feeling. Kingsley seems to be trying to resolve some (health) threat that has triggered fears of his impending death (26 years later) here. He has done this before, but within a ghost story, that is a different path altogether for Amis, and he pulls it off moderately well I must admit. A Stephen King best-seller it is not, and thank God Almighty for that.

Now dying is one thing, it must come to us all (and why we are not paralysed by this prospect is a mystery to Amis's character here) but the persistence of evil into the afterlife is another! All this washed down with a modest triple scotch and water.

There are many examples of the typical Amis-like crackling dry delivery, often at the most unexpected of times thereby guaranteeing a shock, in the mouth of the sex-obsessed, death-obsessed and misanthropic narrator, hotel manager Maurice Allington: a drunker but much more competent Basil Fawlty role. Amis often makes me burst out loud laughing with that wonderfully cynical line, carefully thought-out and poetically knife-pointed to a unimpeachable truth, in this book as much as any of the others I have read.

(My favorite quotation of all time is this, from Lucky Jim; "If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.")

Allington has to deal with a frisky mistress, a taken-for-granted (but still loved) newish wife, a dying to dead father, a drinking problem, hypochondria (that pain in the lower back is kidney cancer, perhaps, now that the brain cancer has cleared up), an mostly uncommunicative 13yo daughter, lost manuscripts, midnight grave robbing, an atheist parson, a shy cat, and all sorts of disconcerting spectral visitors in the woods nearby and in the hotel at night, at least one of whom has a rather nasty history...

He's trying what he thinks is his best in all aspects of life, but his unacknowledged selfishness doesn't help, and that fact he can't tell anyone about his search for the secret behind these ghosts as they'll only think it's the DT's. But his TV watching daughter seems not to disbelieve him...

Loved it.

View all my reviews


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Orwell In Burma

When I was young and had no sense
In far-off Mandalay
I lost my heart to a Burmese girl
As lovely as the day.

Her skin was gold, her hair was jet,
Her teeth were ivory;
I said, "for twenty silver pieces,
Maiden, sleep with me".

She looked at me, so pure, so sad,
The loveliest thing alive,
And in her lisping, virgin voice,
Stood out for twenty-five.

George Orwell - Ironic Poem About Prostitution (before 1936)


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