Tuesday, 11 December 2007

my mind feels like glass, ready to be smashed

Smog (Bill Callahan) - It's Rough

When you're down on your luck
Aand you just can't cope
When the times are bleak
And the friends are few
Don't turn to me
'Cause I'm no hope
Don't turn to me
'Cause I don't know what to do

Maybe you should have a drink
I don't know why you ever stopped anyway

Oh, it's rough
Baby, to live
Oh, it's hard
Baby, to survive
Everyday lately
My mind feels like glass
Ready to be smashed
Ready to be smashed

Oh well, my best friend
Took a bullet through his eye
First he had a patch
Now he's got a glass eye
One hard, glass eye
He says sometimes he wishes
Both his eyes were glass

Well, it's rough
Baby, to live
And it's hard
Baby, to survive
Everyday lately
My mind feels like glass
Ready to be smashed
I'm ready to be smashed

At times I lock myself up
In my room
Don't come over
While I listen to a record
I stare at the cover
Don't come over
Don't come over
'Cause I'm no hope to you
I'm no hope to you

I wonder if Kevin Rudd remembers...

It's the lazy summer of 1996 and I am keeping the couch company at the end of my first year of uni. The front door is open and Sonic Youth's "Kissability" from their classic album Daydream Nation is blaring on my stereo:

[Kim]
Look into my eyes, don't you trust me
yr so good you could go far
I'll put you in a movie, don't you want to
you could be a star
you could go far
you've got twistability
you fly hard, don't you wanna
you've got kissability
you could be a star, it ain't hard

yr driving me crazy, I feel so sick
yr driving me crazy, give us a kiss

look into my eyes, don't you trust me
yr so soft, you make me hard
I'll put you on a movie, don't you wanna
you could be a star, you could go far
you've got kissability
you sigh hard, don't you wanna
you've got twistability
you could be a star, it ain't hard

yr driving me crazy, you smell so sick
I feel so tired, you made me sick
yr driving me crazy, if I feel so sick
yr driving me crazy, if I feel so sick

Look into my eyes, don't you dis' me
You're so good, you could go far
I'll put you in a movie, don't you wanna
You could be a star, you could go far
You've got twistability
You fly hard, don't you wanna
You've got kissability
You could be a star, it ain't hard

You're driving me crazy, I feel so sick
You're driving me crazy, give us a kiss

I'm an 18yo guy screaming this out at the top of my lungs, when Kevin Rudd appears at the door, door-knocking as part of his campaign to win the federal seat of Griffith - his entry into federal Australian politics.

Kevin comes a-knocking just as I'm screaming out: "you've got - kissability!". It's one of the more embarrassing moments in my life, although there are many to choose from.

Prime Minister - do you remember me? You've got kissability! Oh and by the way, DON'T FUCK IT UP!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Australia's new Minister for Climate Change

Is Malaysian-born lesbian, Senator Penny Wong. Even fridae.com has picked up the story: http://www.fridae.com/newsfeatures/article.php?articleid=2108&viewarticle=1

Best wishes, Penny, and let me dance around like an idiot a few more times to celebrate the end of Howard!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

red seas under red skies

About a year ago I was given The Lies of Locke Lamora as a gift, and told that it was the first in a series of seven fantasy books, but that it was "fantasy with a bit of a twist". I was a bit dubious, as I don't really read as much fantasy or sci-fi as I did when I was younger. But it really was a lot of fun - a fantasy tale with a group of con artists as the "heroes", adventurous with many twists and turns, and clever characters.

So I was pretty happy when I finally got around to Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second novel by Scott Lynch in the sequence. It didn't disappoint, I enjoyed this from start to finish and got through it very quickly. The hasty tying up of loose ends in the final chapters did let things down a little bit and I also think the tensions between Locke and Jean were visited a few times too many, but this really is nit-picking.

I read a review of The Lies of Locke Lamora that criticised Lynch's characterization of Locke and questioned decisions made the the characters. But I think one of the strong underlying features of these books is that the characters are flawed.

Anyway, if you're after a fantasy series with a real edge that will keep you turning the pages, I'd recommend these very highly.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Humiliating, crushing defeat...

I'm overjoyed this morning to have reached the end of the Howard Years in Australian politics. The time of huge cuts to higher education, children-overboard, Iraq, AWB, Work Choices, lack of action on climate change and a general meanness of spirit that has made it harder to be an Aussie.

I've been waiting for this since 1998 and GOD DAMN IT I'm so fucking happy now.

Let's just hope that Rudd and his team are up to the task, and can keep the masses onside without making too many compromises.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The Plague, by Albert Camus

The Stranger, the The Fall and now - The Plague. This particular part of my journey through Camus' works has been proclaimed as his most successful and accessible novel. From the liner notes and introduction, it seemed it would be impossible not to treat this "fable" as an "allegory of France's suffering under the Nazi occupation".

In fact, it's not that hard at all to read this outside of the context in which it was penned. Whether you give thought to metaphor or not, this is still a story of the human condition. A story of the ignorance and denial which can allow tragedy to take hold, the varied reactions to said tragedy and the solidarity that people find in the struggle against it.

I feel that you could learn a great deal about people, their motivations and behavior, if you studied a book like this carefully enough. I'm not going to claim that I've done that. Something that struck me quite deeply toward the end was Camus' description of happiness returning at full speed after such a long exile:

"Rambert realised that everything would be given back to him in a single moment and that joy is a searing emotion that cannot be savoured."

I've never lived through anything like The Plague that besets the town of Oran, but this description of happiness struck me as a great truth.

Anyway, enough ranting.. It's time for me to read something fun and light-hearted.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Spook Country, by William Gibson

The master of cyberpunk and modern lexicon, the man who coined the term cyberspace, has left me wanting more. Again.

Spook Country manages to skillfully combine a number of diverse elements such as indie rock and celebrity, locative art, LA, NY, espionage in post-9/11 USA and the viral marketing company Blue Ant (which also featured in Pattern Recognition). It's a tale of the world that is hidden beneath the surface of the everday, something that is symbolised very well by the locative art installations - art that can be viewed at various locations using GPS and a VR headset. Only somebody with a headset and a wi-fi connection would know they are walking past River Phoenix's dead body outside the Viper Room in LA.

When Pattern Recognition was released, Neil Gaiman appeared on the book's accolades stating that "Gibson casts a master extrapolator's eye on our present, and shows it to us as if for the first time". This is the real beauty of both that book and this new one. The 2006 that Gibson is showing us in Spook Country is real - a world of IPod's, GPS, viral marketing, etc.

While the plot itself is not earth-shattering, it's such a super-cool and interesting tale that you can't help but turn the pages quickly as the threads of each character's story converge. I felt myself wishing I could somehow be a part of this world beneath the surface of everyday mundanity, and when the book ended I really felt that it was all over too soon.

I think I'm going to go back and read Pattern Recognition again!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

The value of Trade Unions

While finally reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser I was reminded of the Australian Liberal Party's current anti-union scare-mongering campaign and WorkChoices legislation. I hope that workers in Australia never have stories to tell like the following one. And note- this is just one story of hundreds.

A full reproduction of the original article that made it into the book can be found here. Have a read and let me know if you still think that deregulation, de-unionisation and tax breaks for rich people and companies are worth voting for.

There's alot more I could say, but not being an expert in the fields of either workplace relations or politics, I'd rather not make a fool of myself. All I can say is that even though I'm not in a low-paid unskilled occupation, I'm thankful to work in a country that has decent Workers Compensation schemes in all states, Unions that give individual employees some collective bargaining power, and a fair minimum wage.

Don't let them take it away; don't let them Americanise us.

Monday, 22 October 2007

testing for a tingling

I haven't posted in awhile, and I don't have an awful lot to say, but I wanted to share this paragraph from Take A Girl Like You, by Kingsley Amis, which I'm finally finishing after a bit of a reading-drought while being too busy with work:

"When we were boys," his host ventured, "we were always fooling about with electric torches. We used to have a way of testing to see whether there was any guts left in a battery. What we did was to lay our tongues on the little brass strip things at the business end. If there was any juice remaining, then we used to get a tingling feeling in our tongues. A little, faint tingling that showed there was still some life in the thing. We could have tried it on a bulb, I suppose, but that would have been too easy. We liked to know in advance what the effect was going to be when we put the battery in a torch and pressed the button. Well, now. When I put my arm round Nancy's waist and give her a little kiss on the ear, or something like that, I'm testing for a tingling, that's all. Seeing if there's juice left."
Patrick wanted to applaud the skill and foresight that, evoking some major feat of literary symbolism, had after about an hour and a quarter brought together comparison and thing compared. "I see", he said.
"There never is, of course, but I can't seem to break the habit. I remember with the batteries, we'd try the old ones time after time. Even when we were quite sure they were as dead as a doornail. I suppose we thought they might somehow have recovered in the meantime. Hope springing eternal, that's what it is. When nothing else does."

Monday, 10 September 2007

La Vie En Rose

In my recent tradition of seeing films while they're in their last days, I once again had the pleasure of some great company to go and see La Vie En Rose (or La Môme) at Dendy Portside Wharf. I'd wanted to see it for a long time, although the less-than-favourable review I'd see on At The Movies combined with my lack of any prior interest in Edith Piaf had me prepared to be underwhelemed.

Well, I was overwhelmed, and crying like a baby. Thankfully it wasn't just me. It was a small, intimate cinema, and we were both overly emotional on the day .. but I take solace in the fact that most people watching this on the big screen would have had tears. Margaret and David from At The Movies were both critical of the disjointed chronological sequence of the film, but I think without this it would have been dry and emotionless. Watching Edith Piaf at her most frail and sick, watching her inject morphine following Marcel Cerdan's plane crash, all interspersed with images of the younger Piaf and of some brilliant performances - it all added to the emotional effect.

I did feel that some details were glossed over without enough attention. Her early fall from grace following the murder of Louis Leplée and mafia links was brushed over so quickly that I barely understood what was happening; the events of World War II were MIA; and there is more. You do feel that you haven't had the deepest insight into the person, but this was not such a big deal because in the end, the power of Marion Cotillard's performance sweeps you away.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

a quote from High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby

I've always liked this one:

"It seems to me that if you place music (and books, probably, and films, and plays, and anything that makes you feel) at the centre of yr being, then you can't afford to sort out yr love life, or start to think of it as the finished product.

You've got to pick at it, keep it alive and in turmoil, you've got to pick at it and unravel it until it all comes apart and yr compelled to start all over again."

Is it time for me to start all over again, having picked and picked until nothing was left? Or shall I just remain alone with my music, books and films for company?

Monday, 27 August 2007

please forgive me, but i need to post this

The Pelican
by Dixon Lanire Merrith

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I'm damned if I can see how the helican!

black snake moan

yesterday i went to see black snake moan, and in the very best of company! it's so nice when somebody suggests something out of the blue, something you had wanted to do yourself but had nobody to do it with. so so nice. so very very nice! thankfully we made it this week, since it's only showing one session a day, and only at Dendy Portside Wharf.

it was hard to have proper expectations of this movie - i hadn't read any detailed reviews or a plot synopsis like the IMDB or Wikipedia ones, because they spoil things too much; and any short reviews i had seen were basically just "Samuel L Jackson is a god-fearing ex-blues player who's been cheated on by his wife, and cross paths with Rae, half-naked and beaten". it was probably good to go along without expectations, because i was actually blown away by how good this movie was.

first things first - any movie where Samuel L Jackson gets to say motherfucker a few times is gonna be good. woops, that might include Snakes On A Plane. but i never saw that. but more seriously, i'm a big fan of his and this is one of his best performances yet. watching him sing the blues with electric guitar in a thunderstorm - it just cuts straight to yr soul. Lazarus, his character, is strangely conflicted between his god-fearing principles and family values, spurning the use of "cuss" words in his house - and the guy who used to sing blues songs in bars. he's lost that part of his life, and in fact his wife complains at the start of the movie about "needing to live", something which she can't do in his house.

i hope it's not too revealing if i say i actually identify with the character Rae to some extent (hey i like it a bit rough sometimes!). she's the town slut, i suppose you could say, but in love with Ronnie (Justin Timberlake). Ronnie has left her for the army, but suffers from anxiety attacks that only Rae can help him with. i've decided that no matter how old JT gets, his voice will always sound like a 12yo boy, but that suits the character in this case - except when he's trying to be tough and wield a gun. that was a bit ridiculous, but it is subsequently ridiculed by Lazarus, so that's all good ;)

without giving too much away, Rae gets beaten up and is found by Lazarus, who takes her in and looks after her for a few days through her drug-induced stupor and her bizarre fits of sexual abandon. he then takes it upon himself to try and "save" her, chaining her up to the house. it all sounds very kinky, but is really played out quite well. it's at this point that you struggle to understand Lazarus and his motives, and a character that you wanted to like becomes a bit less likeable. but i always enjoy this kind of realism in a movie, and understanding these characters and their motives is what underpins the whole journey.

a special mention from this shameful Law and Order fan for the appearance by S. Epatha Merkerson. this film has a stunning cast, an interesting story and complex characters. i wasn't bored for one second.

all i can say is thankusomuchsoveryverymuch to the one who accompanied me.

Friday, 24 August 2007

I finally succumbed .. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

It's been a dull rainy old week here, so what better time to finally turn to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy - The Road. I've considered reading this for awhile and had high expectations, considering the number of rave reviews it has had, and the discussion I saw on The First Tuesday Book Club.

To begin with I was leaning towards disappointment. I was distracted and bogged down in technical issues of style - "why does none of his dialogue use quotations marks?", "why doesn't he use apostrophes for contractions like dont/cant, etc?". However once you are into the flow of the narrative, it seems natural and even fitting for the plot. With only two characters, you don't need to structure your dialogue so neatly, and it adds to the poetry of the whole thing.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic version of America, we are unsure of what has happened - a natural disaster, or man-made? - we simply follow the journey of a man and his child through the barren, cold and dangerous landscape. There are few people to speak of, and those they meet are either hopeless souls or marauding groups who have turned to cannabilism.

Despite what others have said, I didn't find the book particularly disturbing and I certainly didn't cry, which means I have a heart of stone apparently. I guess to me it was all so inevitable. In fact, the ending stopped well short of what I considered to be the inevitable conclusion, which is why I suppose the book has been called ultimately redemptive.

Anyway I don't really have much more to say. It is a brilliant book and well worth reading. Just don't buy the paperback edition like mine which is literally covered front,back,inside with raving quote after quote from reviewers -- it will set your expectation level too high, and it's a bit much really. Let the book speak for itself.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde

Today I finished the next Next book. Or is that now the current Next book? Or since I finished it .. the previous Next book? Gah. *frowns*

Anyway, since my Sister and her then-partner-now-husband introduced me to Jasper Fforde in the guise of a gift a few years ago, I've enjoyed all of the Next series and also (to an oh-so-slightly lesser extent), the Nursery Crimes. Anybody who loves books, reading, and a bit of fun will enjoy these books and First Among Sequels hit the spot just right. The book takes a number of different turns, such that you aren't quite sure which plot line is supposed to be the primary one, but who cares, it's a great rip-roaring adventure.

Anybody who knows about the Thursday Next books doesn't need me to sit here and outline any of the plot, and anybody who doesn't would be better off starting with The Eyre Affair, so that logic gets me safely out of having to say anymore right now. w00t!
For some reason, I had assumed that this would be the final final final Next, although the ending casts more than a little doubt on that. The Handy Hint (c) for today? Never assume anything.

happy sunday,
monuments.

Friday, 17 August 2007

City of Violence @ BIFF

Well here I am on a lonesome Friday night listening to YOU-KNOW-THE-FUCK-WHO and realising that I never wrote about my second (and final) BIFF session for 2007. That's quite pitiful really, but 2 is better than none. My bestest buddy and her fiance were supposed to be joining me, but that didn't eventuate and I got a terrible seat, so things weren't off to the best start. On top of that, although I was expecting a bit of fun korean martial arts action, I was very tired, out past my pathetically early bedtime and didn't really want to be there.

But it was a bit of fun korean martial arts action.

If you want a real review I'm sure you can find one Out There in the luminous aether, I don't even pretend to be good at such things, and it's not like I'm an expert in the genre.

What else has happened this week? Work work work, sister's wedding, boss trying to sneak in a new collective agreement with all kinds of changes that smell of take-take-take without any give .. the usual stuff I suppose.


...and we rode towards the dawn; with our black hoods down and our headphones on...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Mukhsin - Yasmin Ahmad @ BIFF

Well! I've not written much at all this week, and that is How Things Should Be, I suppose. Things have been a mixture of busy and frustrating at work, and the past week has brought some sad news. I attended the funeral of a colleague on Thursday, 'nuff said.

Meanwhile, the BIFF has been going on, and I've been awfully slack this year! Last year I considered myself "restrained", seeing only 7 films. In the past I've done the whole 11-movies-in-10-days thing, but this year... I don't know, I suppose it's been bad timing - I'm only seeing two.

But on to today, when I had the pleasure of going to see Mukhsin, directed by Yasmin Ahmad. This was in the "Malaysian New Wave" category of the festival. I had previously seen Sepet at my bestest buddy "Merlin"'s house, and today we both went to Mukhsin together. There weren't all that many people in the cinema, which was strange for a 12pm Saturday BIFF session, but there you go. This was a first-love story - the story of Orked and Mukhsin. A very simple, sweet tale. So very nice. The film contains a tie-in to Sepet, hinting at a happy ending for the inter-racial couple. I admit that I only suspected this tie-in and wasn't truly sure until "Merlin" confirmed it later (my bad memory).

Being a "first love" story - and between a 12 and 10 year old - it is very pure, and in fact neither character even mentions how they feel. But the audience can truly feel the characters shining through. Not just Mukhsin and Orked, but Orked's family and other supporting characters as well.

I don't know if a dumb aussie boy can truly appreciate Yasmin Ahmad's films - the glimpses into Malay life, the way she "pokes fun" at her own people and introduces inter-racial (particularly chinese/malay) tensions. But regardless of my dumb-aussieness, I've enjoyed both Sepet and Mukhsin very much.

goodnight folk,
monuments.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Ode to the 470 - for bindleys

I fucken love the 470. I fucken miss catching the 470. I fucken love the 470. No other bus route could turn a 7km journey into a 40 minute adventure. Back in the day, on the days when I didn't cycle for one reason or another, this bus would always do the job. I always scored a seat - it's not the most popular route going, although it still does fill up as it winds its way as slowly as possible towards the city. The 470 used to take me doorstep to doorstep. I fucken love the 470. You know, only on the 470 could I start listening to the Ape Got Fire mini-LP by Front End Loader and actually get to finish it just as I reached my destination. I fucken love the 470. Every time I listen to that album now, I think fondly of the 470.

Bindleys. Embrace it. I fucken love the 470 and so should you.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Monday, 30 July 2007

an insight; a plea; an explanation.

Having found my own particular hole in the wall, I realised with a sharp pang that the end was near. I crawled into the fissure and held my breath . . . but nothing happened. nothing happened. nothing happened.

"Please", I whispered desperately, with a strangely cold memory nudging the words into existence, "it's warm here. TOO WARM. And I know my time--"

I felt something.

Did I feel something?

OH FUCK! I FEEL IT! -- FUCK

No. Please. I didn't know this. Do you think if I knew this that I woul-ARRGGHHHH!

breathing. sobbing.

so cold, now. i can feel that. i can surely feel that. so cold.

but nothing else.

love,
monuments.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

"i made a highly complicated, demanding, almost experimentalist visit to the bathroom"

The title of this post is a quote from Martin Amis' "Money", but here is the passage that I really wanted to share:

"You understand, during the past few days (and I am especially displeased with this thought and wish now that I had never given it headroom), I'm finding myself more and more reluctant to face up to the fact that all women's mouths have at some point played hostess to a man's . . . They all have. Every last one. Even the old dears, the sainted grannies, even the twisted relics who lurk like pub parrots in the corner of the lounge - they've all done it, God damn it. They've all done it, or they will soon . . . I mean, in ten years, twenty, they'll all have done it by then, every woman alive. Sisters, mothers, grans: ladies, what are you doing? What have you done?
I'm not shocked, just disappointed. My tone is not angry. My tone is concerned, tender, grieving. Imagine, please, my fat beady face, my trustful frown. I wince and shrug. I lay it all before you. Quite a number of you girls have done that thing to me. Thanks. I thoroughly enjoyed it - I was grateful, touched. Thanks again. No, really. But what are you doing? Oh, what have you done?
On the other hand, look what the human mouth has to put up with. I'm trying to see it from your point of view. Unimaginable, Third World food-mountains are churned and swirled through that delicate processor - pampas of cattle, fathoms of living sea, horizons of spud and greens, as well as conveyor belts of Wallys and Blastburgers, vats of flavouring and colouring, plus fags, straws, thermometers, dentist's drills, doctor's shears, drugs, tongues, fingers, feeding tubes. Is this any way to treat the mouth, the poor mouth, the human mouth? And so perhaps, after all this, the constant cartoon of pigments, textures and impacts, a man's dick doesn't look that bad.
Ah what the hell. Pretty soon, most of the guys will have done it too, and we'll all be in the same boat, along with you girls. I suppose I might even get round to it myself one of these days - I wouldn't put it past me, what with these perverse thoughts, these crashers, dossing in my head. With their milk cartons on the windowsill and their damp double-mattresses on the floor, they grow in confidence every day. They were nervous at first, it's true, but no one has tried very hard to evict them and they're used to the uncertainty, they're used to living rough. There is historical necessity involved. There is hysterical necessity. In time, all men's mouths will have given headroom to men's dicks too. We'll do it one day, though we of all people really ought to know better. And what a wonderful joke that will be."

Hahahahhahaahahahhaa.

Love it.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Pre-holiday Murakami and Holiday Amis

The weekend before leaving for Melbourne, I sat myself on the couch and read After Dark by Haruki Murakami. In the past I've enjoyed The Elephant Vanishes and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, so I was looking forward to it. It's a very short novel, but this was great because it meant one afternoon with a scotch or three was enough to immerse myself AND finish it, which is a rare thing for me these days (am I getting slow? old? is life just too busy? are distractions like TV and the internet shortening my attention span? - anyway, I digress). I thoroughly recommend After Dark, I truly felt it, and the 7-hour timeline was refreshing.

And then, there was more Martin Amis - this time, Money. I started this on the plane to Melbourne and continued reading in Bali. I didn't read so much over the holiday though, so it took me quite awhile to get through. It is a bit of a disjointed read, comprised of so many short scenes that it's easy to keep putting the book down rather than continuing to plow through. Quite the opposite of After Dark.

John Self, the central character of the book pleads that he's after our sympathy. Well, he's got mine. Idealistically, we should probably despise him, but he's just too adorable in all of his piggery. And I'm sure we all identify with it on at least some shameful level. This book is brilliant. I realise I'm coming to it two decades too late, and I have found critical comments on the web saying that the book has lost some power over time, and that it's hard to read this without referencing other 80s books focusing on materialism such as American Psycho. I disagree though. The 80s might be behind us, but I don't think materialism is, and I certainly still think this is a book worth reading. For me, the sweetest moment in this book was having Martin Amis himself consoling John Self with a roll of toilet paper after they watched the royal wedding, and saying "Keep a grip on it. Don't worry. Everything's going to turn out okay in the end".

So what Next for me? It's time for some light reading. Today I accidentally realised that the next Thursday Next novel has been released, so I promptly made the purchase.

until next time,
monuments.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

the last 9 days

Tomorrow I return back to The Grind after nine days away which can basically be summed up as some time in melb, a trip to Bali, some more time in melb to see Blonde Redhead (oarsome! (sic)). I'm a bit tired for writing at the moment, so I guess that last sentence is the only update for now.

gahhhhh workkkkk tomorrowwwwwwwww......................

Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Rachel Papers

Yes, more Amis for me, this time from Martin. This has been one of those slow-for-no-reason reads that tend to happen when motivation is sliding and Other Things (mainly sleep, recovering from flu and coughing up your lungs) take priority. Despite that, I did enjoy it alot and I've only just realised with the help of Wikipedia that there is a film version.

OK so the thing is, the main character of this book is like a straight version of me, in too many ways. Except he's smarter and more well-written-and-read. He's described in the blurb as a "precociously intelligent and highly sexed teenager", which leads to quite an eye opening read; but it's not these aspects that I want to focus on.

Since I'm keenly aware that you - my Zero Readers Out There - are waiting with bated breath .. here is the point. Well not here, but next paragraph:

The end of the book, after Charles' infatuation with Rachel and eventual conquest, focuses on his realisation that he doesn't want to be with her. For one thing, the sex life is too mundane, he wants it much dirtier. In the last few pages when Charles approaches his Father about his marriage and misttress, he has "no moral energy left" and fully understands that marriage (and any long-term relationship) is a compromise. This also ties in well with his Brother-In-Law Norman's reluctance to let Jenny have his baby - not because he doesn't want children (let her adopt!) but because he doesn't want to screw her once she's had a child - "like waving a flag in space".

I've been in the same situation as Charles a number of times, and not as a teenager. Did Charles learn from this young experience and change? Or is it a pattern that he will repeat, as I have? If not, does that make me immature? And my real question is this - if I identify so well with these shallow male characters - the teen who thinks he's in love and then needs to escape fast once he's succeeded in his conquest; the twenty-something who is happy with his wife but sleeps around and doesn't want her to be a Mother for his own selfish sexual reasons; the father who has a mistress but won't leave his wife because "it's all too complicated and expensive" - am I a bad person? Are most guys like this? Is it exclusively a male trait? And how do I fit into that as a gay male? What say you!?

Friday, 6 July 2007

i hope this all works out for you (or "yes-i'm-still-listening-to-deloris")

POSTPONEMENT PLAN

...in which the rot seizes and is sized; onwards and under...

I hope this all works out for you
but I'm only sayin it
cause I know you need it too
are you a ghost trying to stow
inside the people that you know
or just blow through
come on up to the city when you can
watch the neon banks of light
beat back the night time
I used to think that the glow
was something new and beautiful
now I don't know

I feel bad if I don�t get in on time
even after these years
still don't know why
Is it because each day the sun
builds another row of fields
I know I'm dying

hiding from your friends
all the things that make you love them
waking up again
yeah I got dreams but I forget them

so all this
are you trying to breathe it in
you got light on your face
spit down your chin
still have to hold up and walk
around the skeleton you scored
til it's woken

(til it's broken til it's hopeful, you should)

so come round call your friends
and well open up the car
if you remember where it is
and when it�s aiming where to go
we can look down at the road
then we'll both know

hiding from your friends
all the things that make you love them
waking up again
yeah I got dreams but I forget them

hiding from your friends
all the reasons why you want them
pretty darling says
yeah I got dreams but I forget them
so let's never sleep again

http://www.deloris.com.au/words.html

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Meet Stormy (grey is the new brown)


OK so this isn't an actual picture of my new car, but I'm too lazy to take a real one.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Propagandhi: Stick The Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch

My father told me, "Son, it's futile to resist
You can topple ideology but not the armies, they enlist."
I questioned the intentions of the boy scouts chanting war
"Well that's the sound of freedom, son" he said, free to say no more

"But wait a minute dad, did you actually say freedom?
Well, if you're dumb enough to vote,
You're fucking dumb enough to believe him.
Cos if this country is so goddamn free,
Then I can burn your fucking flag wherever I damn well please...
And I can stick it up your fucking ass!"

I carried their anthem, convinces it was mine
Rhymeless, unreasoned conjecture kept me in line
Then I stood back and wondered what the fuck had they done to me
Made accomplice to all that I'd promised I would never fucking be -- Never be

You carry their anthem convinces that it's yours
Invitation to honor -- Invitation to war
Bette Midler now assumes sainthood
Romanticize murder for morale
Tie a yellow ribbon round the oak tree my friend
And "Gee Wally, that's swell!"
Fuck the troops to hell!
Fuck the troops to hell!

pump that oil into my mainline, i'm ready to pollute baby~

well i got my licence, and tomorow the new car arrives. i'm excited to join the cult of oil before it all runs dry and we revert back to horse and carriage. or bicycle. or blow each other up. i've held off for so long, and it really hasn't been that hard - cycle or catch public transport to work, don't live too far from civilization, have fresh groceries delivered to make things a little easier.

but, dammit, sign me up, i'm ready to pollute.

the things i have missed the most are day trips out of town, going to certain places that just aren't well serviced by public transport, etc. but they are all luxuries and it does piss me off that everybody thinks it's their RIGHT to drive from a young age, have their own car... and then they complain when traffic is bad because everybody else is doing the same thing, sitting alone in their single occupant vehicle getting angry and impatient. blaming the government, or trucks, or cyclists, or buses, or anything but themselves for not being able to find some alternative.

okay so that's enough with the soapbox. many people have legitimate reasons for needing to drive. it was easy for me because I have no children, work in the CBD which is well serviced by public transport, am fit enough to cycle to work, etc, etc. But I do stand by the notion that people should think of driving as more of a luxury than a right. Perhaps even higher petrol prices will help in that respect.

*shuts up*

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Flashback #1: RRRUBIS!

[Dramatised, both for effect and because the exact details are a drunken blur].

The scene: MF and pinto sitting at the bar - the Exchange hotel, on the tail end of a long weeknight of drinking. MF is in a "couchman" period between jobs and Pinto was happy to join in after work, but tried to run away in sheer drunken terror before they even got to the Exchange. But he was dragged in for "just one more"...
Pinto: [pointing curiously] What's in that red bottle? It says Rubis! I bet it would be nice with lemonade.
MF: OK let's have Rubis.
Pinto: [to bartender, a young guy] Two Rubis with lemonade please.
Bartender: Two what?? [Pinto points]. Oh! Why would you wanna drink that shit? It's got hardly any alcohol in it and it's for chicks.
MF and Pinto, in unison: TWO RUBIS PLEASE!

The drinks are poured and served.

Pinto: Smells like strawberries!
MF: TASTES like strawberries!
Pinto: This is an oarsome [sic] drink. Very girly, but oarsome.
MF: RRRRUBIS!

A few Rubii later, MF and Pinto are sitting there, randomly saying "RRRUBIS!" to the bartender and other punters at the bar. Swaying on their stools. A male customer approaches the bar, next to Pinto.

Pinto: You should order a Rubis.
Customer: A what? That stuff?
Pinto: Yeah.. here, have a try. It's Rubis!
Customer: That's a gay drink.
Customer: [to bartender] Two vodka and limes please.

MF and Pinto note the hypocrisy and begin a fit of uncontrollable laughter. They stumble out of the bar and make their way to various transport options. It's not really that late (the drinking started at 4.30pm). They scream out "RRRUBISSSS!" to random people they pass on the street. They find it so very funny, but nobody seems to share the joke.


Rubis!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Fall, by Albert Camus

Quite awhile ago now, just before he was heading to Mongolia, Bindleys recommended The Stranger to me, thinking it would appeal to my sense of the absurd. And rightly so - it did. So I was in Folio Books the other day looking for something new and decided to try out The Fall. Interestingly, by the way, that Wikipedia article mentions that the oarsome (sic) band got their name from this book.

To be honest I wasn't overly impressed. It's a very short one, at around 90 pages, but the monologue style started to drag on me pretty early. I'm not really sure why - I think it might be more to do with my mood at the time than anything to do with the book. Ordinarily I'd have thought that I would enjoy it.

What I did enjoy was Jean-Baptiste Clamence's views on sexual relations. Here are some choice quotes:

"So true is this that even when some of them provided me with only a small degree of pleasure, I still tried to resume our relations from time to time, helped no doubt by that peculiar desire which is stimulated by absence, followed by a suddenly rediscovered intimacy; but also to make sure that the bond between us was up to me alone to revive. ... Once they would not be anyone else's, I could bring myself to break with them -- something that, otherwise, it was almost always impossible for me to do."

"You should note that, as soon as I had recovered this affection, it would weigh on me. Then, in my moments of irritation, I would tell myself that the ideal solution would have been the death of the person concerned. Death would, on the one hand, have consolidated our bond once and for all, while on the other removing its constraints. But one cannot desire the death of everyone or wish, at the extreme, to depopulate the planet in order by enjoy a freedom that would be unimaginable otherwise. That would be incompatible with my sensibility and my love of mankind."

"I could not live unless all creatures throughout the world, or the greatest possible number, were turned towards me, eternally vacant, deprived of independent life, ready to respond to my call at any moment, in short, condemned to sterility until the day when I might deign to shine my light upon them. In short, for me to live happily, all the creatures whom I chose had not to live at all. They were only to receive life, from time to time, at my good pleasure."


Anyhoo, even though I didn't enjoy it a great deal, I'd still recommend it. It's such a short read that there's really no reason not to give it a try..!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

audio book (!) - Martian Time-Slip, by Philip K Dick

Since the MF left town, I bought an IPod Nano to use while cycling. Some people go on and on debating whether listening to music while cycling is safe or not, but I've decided that for me it is fine. In fact, having headphones in my ears cuts out some of the wind noise, and I don't have the music very loud - I'm still "situationally aware". Now that I've defended myself for no real reason, let's get to the point. A few weeks ago I came across an audio book, and thought it might be a nice idea to listen to that instead of music for a change.

I've only read one Philip K Dick book before - VALIS. And I couldn't stand it. But Martian Time-Slip was written 17 years earlier and I enjoyed it very much. I'm not going to go into much detail here, you can read the wikipedia article if you're interested (but avoid the spoiler section if you want to).

One section of the story is told out of sequence, and three different times from different points of view. It makes me wonder who (and when) was the first author to use this technique? I wish I knew more. About .. stuff. Haha..

love,
monuments.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

spoon

Me to colleague: *waves teaspoon around menacingly* I'm going to scoop yr brain out through your nose with this here spoon!
Colleague to me: *walking away* Okay. Well. In that case, I'm going this way now to make my lunch.


Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis

I pretty much stayed home all weekend, unless you count cycling a quick 35km each day (and I don't count that). But this gave me a chance to finish Lucky Jim, which I'd started on Monday straight after finishing The Old Devils the night before.

I've been reading so much lately! As far as Kingsley Amis goes, I've now read Stanley and The Women, The Old Devils and Lucky Jim. And this has been the best yet.

This is a comic novel written in 1954, the year my Dad was born, but it is still relevant and funny in 2007. I identified with Jim Dixon on a number of levels and it left me wishing I had the courage of such deliberate self-sabotage that brings him out of the job he hates. Although the glimpses into the world of academia are specific to this post-war period in Britain, they still ring true based on my brush with professors during my Honours year and subsequent rejection of pursuing a PhD.

I also identified very much with his inability to "escape" the relationship with Margaret, despite obviously not being in love. It rings very true with the 3-year relationship I had, trying to end it many times but never quite reaching escape velocity.

It's a very easy read, much easier than The Old Devils, and it had me laughing out loud on the couch ("a rare thing indeed", he says morosely).

highly recommended,
love,
monuments.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

(unhealthy?) musical obsession

I've been listening to the same CD almost every night while I sleep. For about 3 months now.

Whenever people ask me "what kind of music do you like?", I struggle against the impossibility of answering. All I can think is that it just has to have that special something, it has to move me or interest me or entertain me somehow. See http://last.fm/user/jazir/.

The CD in question here is "Ten Lives" by Melbourne band Deloris. I'd not really heard of them before this album, and it's not really the style of music that would drag me in this heavily. But somehow it has. This album is just pure brilliance. I mean it, I just can't stop listening. It really has become unhealthy, and I'm not sure what to do. Well it has tapered down a bit in the last few weeks, and I'm sure the obsession will become a dull roar very soon, but this album has become a member of an elite club:
  • Sentimental Education - Free Kitten. Back when I was a studious student, I listened to the title track (Sentimental Education, duh!) of this album over and over every day for a full week. The track in question is instrumental, long-ish and reasonably repetitive, although it changes subtly as it takes it's course. And in fact it changed subtly (but entirely) in my head after the week was over. But I will always love it.
  • Wild Love - Smog. A reasonably dark period of my life was punctuated with this. Waking up at 2 or 3am hearing Bill Callahan singing "Prince Alone In The Studio"........"it's 2am, and all the girls are gone"......"it's 3am, and prince hasn't eaten in 18 hours"....."it's 4am and he finally gets that guitar track right". I'm not sure how or why I put myself through it to be honest, but this album is superb and I can't say I regret it.
I'm a pretty light sleeper, in general. I absolutely cannot sleep in, and I wake up at the drop of a hat. So many people have told me to stop listening to music while I sleep, and I have cut back a bit lately, but I can't stop altogether.

Does anybody else do it??? Do you find that you wake up at the same point in the album over and over again????

Did I refer to myself as "Grown-Up" in the last post????? Maybe when I stop this habit I'll have finally achieved full maturity. Let's hope that never happens.

first post, frist p0st, fr0sty piss

Well, here we are. As a general rule, blogs are a bit of a wank, and I told myself for so very long that I would never have one. And here we are.

To begin the wankfest, I really just want to start with this.

Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Now, we all know the guy was on Opium, which in a way makes me very jealous. Nothing inspires me to have dreams like this anymore, not now that I'm all Grown-Up. That is so sad. I'm not hugely into poetry as a rule, but there's always been something about this one that just grabs me. I've been in love with it ever since the first time I heard it read aloud - in grade 10 English class. That also, is so sad. But true. And at least I can admit to it (anonymously. on the internet. hu hu.).

I hope somebody out there enjoys it too.

love,
monuments.