24 February 2007

Rain and other falling objects

Rathin is playing guitar,
It has 12 strings and now
The rain has come today.

The drops are a perfect vertical,
Form heaven to earth
All the way.

Everything is music: cockatoos, ravens,
The towels wetting on the line,
With a rainbow over all,

And the words I am to catch
Before they pass away.

When I arrived home from work on Friday, there was as predicated - at the least predicted - isolated showers and late thunder. After it stopped we went into the city and did postering with wall paper glue. I decided it would look cool if we got a whole pole done, and it did. Camera phone lousy at night.


I heard an interesting story here. It is about a film maker in Iraq. He was kidnapped by his fellow Iraqis and accused of making a propaganda film for the West. When he was released the US arrested him for making a documentary for Al Qaeda. How do you spell ironik? I found this site when we were discussing whether Skype was run by the CIA or not. A redundant conversation really because the CIA runs everything, just watch American Dad if you don't believe me.

I watched Face/Off. Try discussing this movie without getting confused. The great thing about is that John Travolta makes a better baddy than a goody, and Nicholas Cage is a better goody than a baddy. Ah, forget it.

There was a conference at the United Nations, and one of the talking points was, "Honestly, what do you think of the abundance in the West versus the scarcity in the rest of the world?"

The Africans said, "What is abundance?"

The Europeans said, "What is scarcity?"

The Americans said, "What is the rest of the world?"

The Italians said, "What is honestly?"

The French said, "Croissant."

22 February 2007

The best medicine

Today I rang Kevin Rudd's office.

Me: "Hello, I understand that Mr Rudd is meeting with Mr Cheney tomorrow."

Secretary: "That's correct."

Me: "I just wanted to say that if he received an invitation to go hunting, that it might be best if he politely declined."

Secretary (cracking up): "I think that is a very good idea."

Me: "Okay, thank you, bye bye."

Secretary: "Bye."

Yes, I was kind of on fire today. I'm in the midst of switching jobs and was tidying up loose ends. Here is the email I sent to 104 people in my department entitled "Farewell":

Hi everyone,

I am off to ____ to work on a project after this week. I would like to sincerely thank everyone that I have worked with in ______ for this last 5 months. It has been a very rewarding and positive introduction to the strategic environment. I always found everyone to be helpful and considerate and I really felt that our team spirit was very strong despite our divisions into business lines and so forth. I think it was Joey from Friends who once said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Let us not dwell on this sadness, but remember that sunny days do not last forever and appreciate them all the more. In fact, isolated showers and late thunder are expected for the next three days due to patchy cloud building across most of NSW along a broad trough.

Thank you again for everything,

Alf

21 February 2007

Keeping Your Nose Clean

I don't know how many of you have heard of Wikihow. It is one of those collaborative sites like Wikipedia. In reality, it is The Idiot's Guide to Being an Idiot. I found my way there somehow and I was drawn immediately to these instructions for dealing with rhinoliths. Call me puerile - I know you want to; but I'm a boy and a few of the lines in this page filled me with glee. Forget the steps: that's just all common-sense, practical advice. What really thrilled me was the tip: "It takes practice to be a pro. Don't worry. You will get there." Again, it was reassuring to read the warning: "Remain in a civil, non-babaric (sic) state. It's cool, but not that big a deal." Sound advice, and one which any young Englishmen would do well to heed before heading off for a spot of Empire building.

Forgive me for wondering, but if you actually need advice on how to deal with this situation are you going to have the wherewithal to find this page on the internet?

Anyway, next time I need a sickie I can now call in and say, "I'm sorry. I won't be in today as I have an acute attack of episodic rhinoliths." It turns out according to Wikipedia, that I would be twice a liar, as a rhinolith is not so common as I was led to believe.

On a separate matter, I was watching 24 with a few friends tonight and it was just getting craaaaazy. Someone suggested next season Jack would be torturing himself. That doesn't seem too hard to believe, having only witnessed a smattering of this show. I'd like to see a 24 where Jack sleeps in and wanders down the shops in his trackies around lunch for a pastie and the paper. We can call it 24 Lite.

19 February 2007

Achtung Ist Verbotten

So you have never actually seen The Matrix in it's entirety. You don't go to the movies. Once you saw a bit of it on TV, but you have a short attention span. You are quick to garner pop culture references from your surrounds and then urbane enough to make witticisms based on a movie you have never really seen. Thus, one day you decide you want to watch this film - seeing all the fuss has died down now. Why not download it as a torrent from the internet? Good question. 12 hours and 700MB later you might discover that the version you chose is dubbed in German.

Zems de breakz.

17 February 2007

Entertainment

I admit it. I gave up trying to finish Richard III by Shakespeare. Instead, I'm half way through Catch-22 and really enjoying it. I must have read it 15 years ago and I can remember nearly every page. It is so absurd that you know every word is true. A hysterical slap in the face. 5 stars.

It's really good to be reading books again.

I also gave up on the American version of The Office. It was just not as good as The British one. I watched Season 2 of that again here, which is also a good place to watch Black Books now it has finished on local television.

I didn't know that the wicked Extras had started again last week on the ABC but I will try to watch it next time.

Here is a clip from the next show.



Brilliant.

Buon Compleanno!

Last weekend was Nonna's 80th birthday and here are some photos. I better hurry and sort it all out and post my dad the cd I said I would, but you can't rush art or a lazy man.

First of all, this is a picture of me lurking in the darkened recesses of my grandmother's house. The picture is lurking, not me! I can barely recognise myself. My sister straight away said, "You look like an alien!" I hotly denied this before preceding to claim her essence so that I could nourish my eggs. The darling hatchlings are nearly due.


The first thing I notice when we get to the cafe for dinner is that one of our three tables has paper all over it and my secound-cosuin-aunty-in-law-once-removed has brought crayons and textas for her kids. Awesome, there is nothing I like more than drawing on the table. I love to grip multiple crayons and make exuberant sweeping motions. Soon I have covered half the table, tracing around the crockery. No-one else has sat down, the kids are sensing new energy and the adults are panicking as they begin to run amok too. Ha ha.


There was an awkward moment when my mum's cousin comes over and starts telling a six year old how good his picture is. I have to interrupt and say, "That's actually mine, but his picture is very good too." My grandmother is the one on the right (ours) with a friend of hers. The hands, the hands, always with the hands. It's an Italian thing.


Happy Birthday Nonna. As I said, "Ti amo come il mare ama il vento," which means I can't really speak Italian, but you think I can. Okay, it means, "I love you like the sea loves the wind." I don't even know what that means, but speaking Italian for me is innately poetic. At least I think it's poetic. My sister says I sound like an idiot and what I am saying never makes any sense. Trust her.

16 February 2007

The Life of Leonard Cohen

I believe the poem by Emily Dickinson which I posted earlier is a favourite of her fans and I wanted to thank John for dropping by and commenting.

Also, I had begun to ponder the nature of name and fame and this coincided with seeing I'm Your Man, a beautiful film about Leonard Cohen. Just watching it, my thoughts all turned to poetry literally. Poetry, that most remarkable solution to any problem. The film plainly shows he is revered by so many of his peers, and with good reason. He has a hypnotic personality and his elegiac songs soothe.

The thing is, most people have not even heard of him, but everyone knows that song in Shrek: Hallelujah, or it's more famous cover on the album Grace by Jeff Buckley. That album was voted number two by ABC viewers recently, with big thanks to this cover no doubt.

Is Cohen such a survivor because of his relative lack of fame for an artist of his stature; or is it just that he can't sing as many contest? I disagree with the bit about his singing - although the Buckley version of Hallelujah far exceeds the original - but I like to think it has something to do with his decision to enter a Buddhist monastery and become a Zen monk in 1996.

It is a great film, which doesn't hit the hyperbole too hard which this sort of thing can veer towards. It has cool use of filters, stills and the drawings of Cohen:




Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

from Democracy by Leonard Cohen.

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!

Emily Dickinson

You can read more about Emily but it is beyond dispute that her life was simple and anonymous.

11 February 2007

I AM WHERE I AM

I am from above,
Believe it or not.
For God's sake I am on earth.

I am from below,
Believe it or not.
For man's sake I am in Heaven.

No preference have I
For the highest Height
Or the abysmal depth.

For God's sake,
For man's sake,
I am where I am.

Sri Chinmoy
When God-Love Descends

Of poetry, I am apt to muse that writing upon it is like trying to taste cake under a microscope. A Zen tale has it that a traveller stumbled upon a monk playing the zither. He stopped to enjoy the music for it was a long and intricate piece. When the monk finished playing, the pilgrim spoke, “Ah, can you tell me the meaning of this song?” Whereupon, the monk immediately preceded to play the entire piece again.

Forgive my conceit.

I Am Where I Am
reveals a state of oneness with the entire universe; it spontaneously embodies the compassion inherent in existence. Upon the diadem of simplicity, the brightest jewel is peace.

In popular consciousness, the term God is denied its sacred status. It wears a weighty cloak of fear and suspicion. Still, only the most primitive human, powered solely by brute instinct, remains unaware that they possess a lower and a higher nature. These extremities are cast as man and God. Heaven – above and earth – below hunger for each other. The detached soul exists that these opposites may know extinction. It has no need of dichotomy and humbly knows its purpose.

Finally, we need no Name at all when our heart is a spontaneous cry for completeness - a love yearning – for what we know we truly are.

10 February 2007

A Bucolic Interlude

I have returned to Adelaide for the weekend for my Nonna’s 80th birthday. She is a bit of a warhorse. Last year they operated on her back so she could even move and there was a strong chance she would die. She made it through that and moved back into her house eventually and still lives independently - despite being knocked over and having her shoulder dislocated by a rude interloper since. She does not whinge and has not given up. She still asks frequently when I am going to get married, and could probably do with a shave, but you can’t have everything.

Last night I borrowed my parent’s Commodore and went driving in the Adelaide hills with an old friend after coffee and gelati. What else is there to do in Adelaide at 11pm? I am unlikely to get a sports car soon, so this was something I needed to get out of my system - or just indulge. He knew the roads well, so he was making with the, “Brake, brake, brake. Accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.”

On a very hard corner, I ignored his admonition to brake, leading to very hard braking and a nervous moment or three. I said, “That was my ego. I was sick of you telling me what to do, so I ignored you, sorry about that.” I’m nothing, if not honest; but we had high-speed fun and as he concluded upon our safe return: “The best car is somebody else’s.” Hi Dad!

Shockingly, my partner in crime is a motorbike rider, and he freely admitted that he was not an ambiturner. He has real difficulties turning right. For serious.

I will be go-karting in Canberra soon when I have the chance.

I admit to finding Richard III fairly onerous - which might be solved by reading a synopsis of the plot - but there are some highlights:

“Welcome destruction, blood, and massacre!
I see, as in a map, the end of all.” II.4.53

This was my standard greeting at work yesterday when people came over to ask me technical questions. Ah, that I had the wherewithal to see them slew and justly save my kingdom from the avarice of fools benighted by false ambition! Raving like this gives the impression that you are very clever or frankly weird. As Bernard says:

"That is one of those irregular verbs:
I have an independent mind,
You are an eccentric,
He is round the twist."

I’m about to start reading a fresh copy of A Confederacy of Dunces but I am considering reading Catch-22 again. I was talking to T in Thailand on Skype who asked what was happening and I said, “Nothing major…Major Major Major, you know.” He said, “I’m reading that again at the moment. I found it in a book shop over here.” I said, “That’s amazing. I’ve been thinking about that book lately…everything is connected.” He said, “Yeah, save that crap for your blog.”

I wish I could post MP3’s on this blog, but I can’t, so listen to your own music.

Someone gave me the American version of The Office and it is not that bad. It rankles watching the same scenes being performed from the UK version, but Steve Carell is pretty funny and I can see it is going to get better as it progresses.

I couldn't think of a title for this post so I decided to use the word of the day to come up with something. It worked out okay.

06 February 2007

Richard III

I am loving this play by Shakespeare. It's so organic I feel like I am inside it. His genius is somehow linked to the fact that of eight unfamiliar words, I will only one need to be look up one, and then just for curiosity's sake. It really is easy to understand if you let play in your head while you read. That might be why they call these things plays. Of course, I bought it for $8.95, as it never occurred to me to read it on line. Bargain.

I have always thought that it would be very, very clever to memorise his words and whip them out on suitable occasions.

"Foul devil, for God's sake hence, and trouble us not,
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims." I.2.50-53

This speech of Lady Anne immediately brought to mind John Howard, and further admonishes:

"Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity..." I.2.57

Well, I have no intentions of getting too political here. There is enough of that about already and I don't want to dirty my head.

Today I had all these meetings at work and I had stayed up so late the night before - reading and writing blogs - that I was sleeping with my eyes open, hallucinating and playing with things on the table that weren't even there. I distinctly recall folding origami out of nothing. At one point I snapped out of it and started typing on my laptop that wasn't even there. Luckily, no-one noticed that particular move.

In these situations what can you do? Make a joke. Everyone else is secretly as bored as you and their appreciation will wake you up. Another trick is to hold onto a pen and when you drop it you will wake your self up. Of course, if you drop your pen under the table nine times people might think you are drunk, retarded or worse. Sub-consciously, I was absorbing the paper we were reviewing because when someone asked a question at the end I knew the answer like a whiz.

Tonight I am having an early night.

Probably.

Listen to Missing My Son by Tom Waits from the Orphans box set if you get a chance. It is funny. The kooky prose on the last link is worth a read too.

One day, I will learn the art of whipping up a quick post, but I am very finicky.

05 February 2007

My little weekend

The past is like a fever: you sweat it out, or you die. Either way it takes time.

Sometimes death doesn’t sneak in through the window – it walks right in the front door.

The sun is bigger than anything you can imagine and brighter than nothing you will ever see.

About these quotes: I imagine Johnny Cash might have said the first one, the second is from a Raymond Carver novel and the last one is from a cheesy science fiction movie.

Actually, they all from the movie in my head. It's the director's commentary that came as a free bonus with my mind. I switch it off and enjoy the film whenever I can.

Last weekend I made the pilgrimage to Mecca for the first time since I moved here. For a Canberra dweller that means Bateman's Bay. The ocean. It's where the water is. You drive straight through town and keep going until you reach Broulee.



It was lovely to take a dip. This is me embracing my inner tree and working on my sun burn. When I look at this photo I remember Year 8: a new school and everyone calling me "blind." When I am totally smiling my eyes look shut. That's a good enough reason to torment someone in high school I say. I like to smile a lot. Ah, it's so good to feel young again!



I mentioned that I am totally into taking photos of people, preferably photos of strangers in foreign lands, but Broulee doesn't quite fit that description. At one point, I got quite excited running over rocks, camera in hand, looking for the right angle. It's then I remember thinking briefly about spending over $5000 dollars on a digital camera. (It was on special.) A camera that would love a war zone. It wouldn't exactly be bullet proof, but it could cope with a ricochet or two. Unfortunately, Iraq is a little bit dangerous right now, so you get rocks. Sky by Photoshop.



It's funny linking to myself and my first ever post. I no way finished the book I was reading. I also used way too many clever words superfluously. In the interest of words, I'm about to read Richard III by Shakespeare. I'll tell you about it later.

Oh, and here is a nifty breakfast: Toast some crusty Italian loaf. The wood oven one full of bubbles. Eat with Lindt Lindor dark chocolate, the dark blue block. It's the simple things...

I went down the coast with my friend Salil. He is just briefly visting from NY. On Saturday, we were both working with Aryavan in the garage. Aryavan was a carpenter, who naturally became a Baptist Preacher before converting to a karate teacher. Now he is a carpenter again. He generously travelled from Sydney to do renovation rescue on the garage. It is looking good.