Expat@Large

Fire From The Sun – Why I Dislike Prometheus

Posted in movies, pseudo-science, rants, reviews, Ridley Scott, science by expatatlarge on June 24, 2012

A god and hero, stealing fire from the sun [like the sun would even miss it] was only one of his accomplishments. The creation of man out of clay [sound familiar?] was another pretty big one. He MADE mankind. No-one seems to remember that part of the Bible. What? It’s not in the Bible? Go figure. Quick question: if he had stolen fire and not created mankind, what then?

A trickster, like Loki in The Avengers but, unlike Loki, a lover of mankind [well he made us, all makers love their creations, right?], patron god of scientific inquiry – what’s this sun thing made of? – and advancement, antecedent of Dr Frankenstein (“Prometheus Unbound”), he was condemned by Zeus, who obviously wanted us to freeze, and eat carpaccio and sashimi forever, to have a quickly regenerating liver that was pecked out every day by crows. Bound and struggling, trying unceasingly to escape from the limitations of his captivity (a metaphor) but never giving up, and no doubt in desperate need of a blowjob (not a metaphor).

Prometheus was an awesome dude.

The movie? Not so much.

Please make sure you get the correct reference here: it’s the origin of mankind part, not the fire-theivery that underpins this movie.

But let me give you my opinion of the movie straight up. Ridley Scott, maker of such flops such as A Good Year and, um, others, has over-produced Prometheus into an overflowing chariot of horse-shit. This ridiculously expensive, overdue, over CGI’d, over-thought-out waste of time has no redeeming features. Whatsoever. Ah, yes, like John Carter, is does serve as an example of what not to do. Over this, over that, and I was very relieved when it was over.

Listen to me: Anyone over 12 who liked Prometheus is an idiot. [Harsh, E@L, harsh. But fair.]

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I don’t have the movie in front of me to correct the errors which might creep into this post, as the torrents are currently in Handicam versions, but several egregiously execrable scenes and irrational concepts have burned themselves into my psyche the way X-raying my first corpse or losing my virginity (the first time) did. (Equally nauseating and frightening experiences. They were not on the same day nor in the same place fortunately for the corpse.)

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Ron Cobb, who designed the interiors of the Nostromo ship for Alien, has as interesting opinion.

I resent films that are so shallow they rely entirely on their visual effects, and of course science fiction films are notorious for this.
–Ron Cobb on his designs for Alien.[my emphasis]

This is part of the reason why Prometheus fails for me, why I resent it. In Alien the visuals were awesome, gritty and real, and somehow tacit. In Prometheus, they have tried to do this in the ship scenes but the outside scenes of giant CGI visuals are completely distracting and unnecessarily overwhelming. Oh, look giant human-headed pyramid that no-one seems to cares about, ho hum, WGAF, it’s merely CGI.

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Woeful science in a science-fiction story grates on me. Scientists who behave illogically and without a Skerritt (sorry) skerrick of scientific objectivity and respect for scientific method drive me batty.

My disbelief has this thing about being suspended, particularly when bad science is combined with 2D characters in 3D movies doing silly and just wrong things, things a sensible or real person wouldn’t ever do. In Alien, the characters moved cautiously, everything was weighed, considered, discussed. In Prometheus, people act randomly, independently and irresponsibly.

No1 Son, who has a similar if not quite as rabid as opinion as his dear old dad on this, pointed out how the scientists in good old The Andromeda Strain (which he had first seen only a few weeks earlier) acted like perfectly normal scientists. They didn’t run around screaming, they were methodical, careful and observant. If science had advanced to the degree that is required for background inventions, etc… in Prometheus to work, then future scientists would have to be as just as careful, methodical and cool-headed. Unfortunately these were not the type that clambered aboard The Prometheus.

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Here are the 26 Things That Bugged Me Most. Don’t worry, there are others.

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a) “Don’t come in to the ship!” yells the completely unnecessary [as a character, apart from the sweaty push-ups at the start – I’d do her at this point] Charlize Theron. And then SHE OPENS THE FUCKING HATCH in order to threaten them with one of left-over prop flame-throwers from the original Alien! WTF? “Hey, don’t come in through this large and impervious door which I have now opened in order to tell you not to come in through it.” Just leave the fucking hatch closed you blonde idiot. Seriously. Who wrote this shit?

b) The prop flame throwers in Alien were wired together in desperation. Dallas and Ripley hope that the unlikely possibility they might work against the invisible beast might lift morale a bit. That and a holiday in Phuket. In Prometheus: “Hey, pass me the standard issue flame-thrower.”

c) What’s with Elizabeth wearing noting but a surgical gauze bikini. Gauze? Gauze? I mean, seriously, GAUZE? Has she grazed her nipples from running in a marathon without band-aids over them? Apart from being a corny stunt, why bother? We know from TGWTDT that Noomi Rapace has no tits whatsoever, so who gives a rats about her thorax adherent nipples [nipples WTF, male v female, worthy of a blog post]?

d) Geologist? Complete and utter fuckwit. More on this later.

e) How much did they pay Dr Manhattan to play the giant, unfriendly precursor human?

f) Surly red-headed guy with raptor haircut. A complete arsehole from word go. Don’t they do psychological assessments before these long flights? The guy should be in a nuthouse, or a prison, not in a confined spaceship with people he obviously detests. The surly crew in Alien [Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphett Koto, whom this character is meant to parallel, no doubt] were troublesome to a degree and certainly disrespectful, but psychopaths?, no.

g) That spaceship is covered in awkwardly jutting spars and omnidirectional antenna like every movie space-ship since Alien. It’s a future-gothic thing I guess. What’s wrong with the sleek lines of The Enterprise, which was an magically simple, and the iconic design of Discovery One, whose construction made sense: living quarters at front, storage quarters middle, nuclear reactor as far away as possible. Inverse square law. The Prom is just a big brother of the CGI helicopters from Avatar, but is the ride comfortable?

h) Ignorance, and/or the ignoring, of the basic laws of physics abounds. Why are the spaceship’s engines running all the time? [A common Sci-Fi movie error.] No friction in space, people. Momentum, one blast at the start will do it unless you are accelerating or decelerating, in which latter case the rocket thrust should be directed FORWARD [in the movie, it’s not]. Did no-one on the set study Newton’s first law? BTW did anyone check the gravity of this 1000 light year away planet (see next criticism) before we left, to check it we could get anywhere near its surface without getting crushed on landing or if we can generate enough thrust to get to escape velocity?

i) Two years asleep? Some have said that this would put them only halfway to Alpha Centauri, but that it true of you are referring to two earth years, that is, for the people back on earth. Assuming the Prometheus could approach the speed of light, to say 90% [its mass would more than double!], and overlooking the year or two of acceleration and then deceleration it would take to get up to that speed and then slow down without intolerable G-forces ripping everyone apart, one year on earth would equal slightly less than one day for the actors astronauts. Therefore, in their relativistic perception, Alpha Centauri is only 4 days away. Two years asleep at that speed? That would mean that back on earth it is now close to 1000 years later.

I shouldn’t be too critical here. 2001, Alien, Aliens and Alien3, and others no doubt, all suffer from this flaw. It’s a shrug now, right? It has become a cinematic cliche to put long-haul astronauts into the freezer. Shut the fuck up E@L.

If you want accurate relativity physics in Sci-Fi space-travel, read Forever War by Joe Haldeman. A big sigh coming up. Ridley Scott, sigh [there it is], has the film rights to this book and it is slated for release in 2013. Please don’t fuck it up, Sir Rid.

j) I hate inappropriate adrenalin manipulation in intrinsically unexciting situations. Everywhere, but most ridiculously, when the Lunar Rover vehicles and their adherent tricycles, as seen from a soaring overhead CGI shot, seem to RACE to the big-headed pyramid to the thumping stress-inducing half-diminished sevenths and the walking tritones [duh duh DUH duh…duh duh DUH duh…duh duh DUH duh…] of a Hitchcokian horror fillum. Why? They are not being chased by anything, they are not off on an urgent mission to save humanity before the self-destruct sequence is finished or Harvey Dent blows up. They just charge out full-tilt for no reason. What is the fucking RUSH? This aeons old pyramid is not going anywhere in the next few minutes. And shouldn’t you be looking out for everyone’s safety and confirming that these convenient “roads” are safe to travel on at any pace? And if they are, who’s been maintaining them over the millenia?

k) Why are the spacesuits more advanced than those in Alien? Lightweight and clear bubble-helmets? Luckily they knew that the planet would be relatively pleasant. Oh, look we can take out helmets off inside the cave so the audience doesn’t have keep up with whether the condensation inside the mask has been wiped off recently or not. Or has the “problem” of condensation itself been solved by this time and yet forgotten by the time Alien comes around.

l) Ditto the stasis (suspended animation) pods, much sleeker. I am never a fan of suspended animation though. Do you need it? See above re: time compression. And yes, well, show me a cure for frost-bite first and I might suspend my disbelief for this. [BTW I have looked very hard the for the first cut of the equivalent scene in Alien, where they were all naked. Or was that an apocryphal story meant to tease old pervs like me…]

m) OK. Listen This is the one that completely kills me. Inside the cavern/spaceship under the giant yet ignored head, the geologist guy is hanging with red-head anti-sidekick (what does he do again?), and says in effect: “Oh look, a cute little alien eye thing on a stalk [cue: War Of The Worlds] has emerged from the black oily slime [cue: The X-Files], which itself oozed from metal canisters in suspiciously good condition considering their 30,000 years of existence in an oxygen rich environment, and this goo’s sudden obsidian oleaginous icky appearance was most sinisterly triggered by our mere presence. Isn’t it cute? Maybe it is friendly and speaks English.”

This geologist, consummate idiot, against all laws of scientific inquiry and common sense, [I shake my head], then smiles like a moron and leans forward into the standard Leap Into My Mouth You Snake-like Creature position. Wrong! SO fucking wrong. ‘Run Away’ is the correct scientific response in this situation. Like the others RUN!

n) What is it with the fucking alien crappy hologram things running through the tunnels? Seriously, what? Seriously, why? BTW there is zero dramatic tension is this entire cavern sequence.

o) What’s with fucking holograms altogether? They didn’t need them in Alien.

p) Girls, girls. Listen. When a large hoop-shaped spaceship is rolling on its edge towards you, run… to… the… side…

q) Hey, fellow pilot, let’s commit suicide cheerfully for reasons we don’t fully comprehend because we were in the frackin’ main cabin the whole time. I for one wouldn’t do this.

r) Why is Michael Fassbinder so much more handsome than either Ian Holm or Lance Hendriksen [who isn’t?]? Who later decided ugly androids integrate better than cute ones?

s) If Fassbender only needs his head to function, why does he need the rest of his body in the first place?

t) Where did the medical team appear from? Didn’t Theron yell out, “Get a medical team down here!” at one point? Where did they go afterwards? And why would she not know their names? “Get Dr Frankenstein down here now, and make sure Cloris Leachman comes too.”

u) Jesus, what happened to Guy Pearce? Did he fall face first into a bucket of half-set play goo?

v) Why the fuck would the do-it-yourself home-surgery machine have a set of delivery forceps as its default tool? Stunned by the inanity of this.

x) It’s not just me: according to NYT’s A. O. Scott – “But the virtuosity on display makes the weakness of the story — the screenplay is by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof — all the more frustrating. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but “Prometheus” kind of spoils itself with twists and reversals that pull the movie away from its lofty, mind-blowing potential… There are no revelations, only what are called, in the cynical jargon of commercial storytelling, “reveals,” bits of momentarily surprising information bereft of meaning or resonance.”

y) Why? Ridley, why? Alien was fine. Leave it alone! Get back to Forever War!

z) The giant Navigator’s mask isn’t a hood or respirator. The dude snores like fuck: it’s a CPAP mask

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Speaking of illogical crazy SciFi movies, 5th Element was sooooo wrong, but it had the enormous advantage of taking itself 0% seriously.

It all boils down to this – Prometheus is neither Blade Runner nor Alien.

There are no moments of “It has acid for blood!” dread, no completely unexpected chest-burster scared shitless moments, no touching, awe-inspiring “Starships on fire over the belt of Orion,” moments…

It’s just… Not. Good. Enough.

E@L

The Shadow And The Shadow

Posted in acrobatic twin lesbian orgy, books, magic, movies by expatatlarge on March 18, 2012

It is almost 1 pm. The sun is shining as bright as is astronomically possible. It is a cloudless day. The pale blue water of the swimming pool looks refreshing, cool, inviting, as clear as chlorine and the reflected sky can turn it. Every now and then I leave the shade of the umbrella over the table where I write this. (The text uploads to the Evernote servers automatically, my unmatched prose duplicated into the – impossible 10-years ago, surely – computing cloud, already transported to whatever computers are running at home or at work. Magic really.) I stand at the pool’s edge and prepare to disturb the near perfect stillness. The pumps are bubbling small ripples, their tiny coruscations are mirrored through refractions of sunlight to dance on the bottom.

I throw no shadow. Turning my head up so my that vision is vertical, I confirm that the sun is directly overhead. It is the equinox tomorrow. We are ready for the second half of the year, identical but reversed. Six months with the sun casting shadows to the south, six months casting them north.

I dive in with a large splash and my breath stops for a second. It is cool alright. It is refreshing. I surface and gasp a lung full of air. Calmly I swim to the edge and rest my arms on the tiles, lay my head on my elbows and let my body float. It is a fast pool, the water level breaches the edge and trickles past the first row into the slotted drainage tiles that circle the pool, like another perimeter. After my dive they have some heavy work to do.

I am not up to doing laps today. I just want to cool down. I want to get some sun.

I am prepared to allow my body to be bombarded with radiation, happy to have my melanin suck in a barrage of UV. I want a better suntan, not cancer, so there is another layer of absorptive agent, some low-wattage water-resistant sunscreen that takes away most of the UV-B and UV-C, and it shines off my skin, at least those parts I could reach.

As well as punching the keys here, I have been re-reading The Prestige and am still confounded by Christopher Preist’s amazing legerdemain. Can Borden (grand-pere – Christian Bale in the movie – and/or grand-fils) bi-locate or does he have an identical twin? Which is The Prestige? Artifice or sorcery?

The movie was on cable the other night and was better than I remember it. Good in fact. (Christopher Nolan, what do you expect?) But it answers the question clearly, which i found disappointing. The novel, as I remember, leaves it tantalizingly ambiguous. Both answers seem correct. This is Priest, his specialty is split and duplicated realities. (And The Affirmation is also about twins.) But I read the novel a while before the film was made and want to brush up on The Pledge, The Pact and The Prestige. (I think is that what they are called. Memory 0, Making It Up 1.) I want to see if I was right about the movie being wrong. If you’ve been reading here, you know these things are my peeve at the moment.

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As an aside, both my testicles are being crushed by a combination of the twisted polyester trunks that contain them and the hard cushion-less seat. I think I shall get back into the pool when I finish writing these words and sort them out…

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Sunday. And I am out of my bedroom before noon. Unheard of.

I didn’t wake to the church bells at 10am, nor to the couple in the flat above going at it – regular as the bells – for their weekly bout of horizontal folk-dancing. But I am awake nevertheless near eleven. There is a sound outside my door. The flat-mate and his girlfriend. I doff the CPAP, turn down the humidifier and off the air-con. (n.b.: Singlish is creeping into my vocab. Lah.) With these domestic ambient-sound generators quiet, I can hear outside my room more clearly. Not that I am eavesdropping, I getting up for my shower and I can hear, that’s all.

The girlfriend says something in her high voice, the slightly echoing accent of a Chinese mainlander who has learned her English at a village school and refined it with American boyfriends in Shanghai and now Singapore. Unmistakable. (We’ve spoken about it around the dinner table before: she is quite aware of its uniqueness and finds our discussions amusing.) I hear the click of her heels as she puts on her shoes, then a clunk as the door closes and I hear my flatmate’s footsteps – he has come back in alone. The door to his room closes.

When I come out from my shower to make breakfast, his door is still closed. I crush up some Weet-bix for fibre, lay on a hefty sprinkle of blueberries for their antioxidants, scoop two spoons of unsweetened yoghurt against the looming immanent diabetes and to feed the bowel parasites, and finally a generous trickle of honey because, as mentioned, the yoghurt is unsweetened. I top the bowl with low-fat milk and mush it all together. I see that it is a lovely day. I decide that, in a minute, I will lie by the pool.

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In the water it is majestically pleasant as I rest half-in half-out and contemplate life. Employment. Leisure. Vast wealth and political influence. I have about three of these. I am alive, have a well-paying job and am lost in relaxing reverie in a beautiful swimming pool on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon in the tropics. On the equator, on the split between north and side, two halves of a global orange. I am not don’t-care-what-I-spend wealthy but 5%, you know what I mean. I am smiling, almost laughing at how good I have it. Health? Not so much, admittedly. Enough of that. Denial.

Urine. Back-up. Urgent. I needed to pee. I am too old to let it go here like a child, so I climb out, take a brief de-chlorinating pool-side shower – the pole which holds the shower rose has no shadow either – dry my legs and trunks to minimize dripping (and the possibility of slipping) on the ‘marble’ floor of the flat and head to the lobby door.

A fat man with thin legs walks towards me. My heart drops a beat, but metaphorically only. The two of us pause. It is my reflection in the glass walls of the condominium’s gym. I always surprise myself with this body. I hardly ever recognize it as my own. This unreal reality is not me, for inside is my perception of me and looking out my eyes, these eyes that I can touch (as does the reflection, mimicking me, parodying me) is a strong lad, nineteen, fit from several years of surfing who boasts a large-breasted girl-friend and locks of long springy blonde hair. The ethereal creature in fornt of me now is a lonely, sad old man, albeit with job, alive, good money and otherwise relaxed.

I am in the process of making a new myself in this gym. I have lost nearly 10kgs. I’ll never bring that young man back to existence, I know. I am merely trying to reassemble myself as a person who might live longer than the guy on my side of the reflection, as a person who might outlast the current dangerously unfit version of me.

There are a pair of lady’s shoes on the stand at the door when I re-enter the apartment. I am struck by this. Where they there when I left to go, ahem, swimming 45 minutes before? I seem to recollect they were, they might have been, but who can trust my memory? They certainly look like the flatmate’s girlfriend’s shoes. Slight heel, thin straps and sparkly girlish adornments to support her lithe acrobat’s body. She must have left them there. Gone off in flip-flops? Unlikely. She only ever came in one pair of shoes, I am sure. I had never seen her in anything but heels like these. One pair at a time. Either she had brought another pair, a twin set, or someone else had left earlier. Who was it? Someone with her voice? Impossible.

I reason that she might have come back while I was at the pool, (submerged or resting, swimming, absorbed my writing or lost in my reading) but the path by the pool was her only access. I hadn’t seen her. I’d seen others: the fortunate and rare maids with a day off, heading to Lucky Plaza or to Golden Mile; hookers doing the walk of shame; mum and dad leading the triplets off to their ballet lesson, the identical girls cute as buttons in tutus and white tights – they all wave; but not her.

No, she could not have come back this way. Then, I reason again, less convincingly this time, that she might still be there and it was someone else who had left. But it was her voice at the door earlier, I could swear it on a dozen copies of The Origin Of The Species.

I go into the en-suite of my room, and take a brief, dribbling, unsatisfying piss. My trunks are already wet, so what. Prostate, sigh.

When I come out of my room the flatmate and his girlfriend, whom you will understand I am surprised to see, are at the kitchen door. They smile and say good morning. The flatmate’s smile is exceptionally broad. The girlfriend’s is more tentative. Is she embarrassed about something?

I say good morning, hesitating for almost a moment too long, and come back out to the pool all confused.

And I have a slight shadow now.

How could she still have been in the room (as the evidence now says she was) and yet outside it as well, leaving the apartment? Was this a trick? Maybe she could bi-locate like Borden in the novel? Ha! Did she have a twin, a sister also trained in the family circus troupe in China since a toddler? Able to fold herself to fit into an impossibly small tube, able to bend backwards way over to touch her feet on the floor in front of her smiling face with her arse resting on the back of her head?

I think of the flatmate’s exaggerated smile, a cat and cream smile, and I curse him. That must be it! The perfect threesome!

I dive firmly into the pool making an enormous splash, and underwater I scream into a stream of bubbles all of my envy and frustration.

(OK it was raining the day I took the photo, this is not today. Though of course it rained today as well.)

E@L

[Hey flatmate. You know the girlfriend I made up for this story is not the girlfriend lying on the couch with you now, right? Or her twin. Not either of them. Don’t hit me!]

Twist In The Naked Arse

Posted in movies by expatatlarge on February 22, 2012

OK, OK, so I wasn’t the only person to note that the short story by Japanese writer and Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, The House Of The Sleeping Beauties, was the basis for Sleeping Bewdy. That’s the alleged fillum and story association/rip-off-thing I was going apeshit over in an earlier post.

So, I finished reading the story today. Very touching, very making of the person introspective particularly if you are an ageing gent of diminishing sexual prowess staying in a hotel not much more than 100m from Nana Plaza.

And so, moving on from the blinding self-pity of your circumlocuter, there is at least one reason why the short story is better than the movie…

Kawabata tell it from the viewpoint of an 67 year old man, Old Eguchi, (Kawabata was around 50 when he wrote it). Eguchi sleeps next to several young knocked-out beauties at night in something of a brothel (maybe they have other rooms upstairs) over a period of several months. When in the room with them, Eguchi seems always on the verge of either strangling these girls, who toss and turn and talk in their sleep (might as well be snoring – get a CPAP!) or taking an overdose himself of whatever it is they are having.

The fillum however, is told from the perspective of one girl, Lucy/Sara (Emily Browning). She is narcotised overnight for the anonymous pleasure of several impotent old farts (are YOU talking to ME?). She is completely immobile when asleep, except for a corny scene where, already drugged, she hobbles (poorly acted, patently false) across the room to place a secret camera on a shelf before her oldfartfriend arrives.

The short story’s final twist – won’t spoil it – is good. Let me tell you now, you don’t receive the same sense of surprise when you see the movie’s corresponding ending scene, primarily because of this inversion of POV, man to woman, old to young, sleeper to watcher. In fact there is no surprise at all in the movie: that person was doomed from dinner time.

Perhaps that predictability, counter to the essential strength given by the short story’s final irony, is what makes it ultimately an unsatisfying movie. The unexpected doesn’t happen. Well, you can say that what is unexpected in the short story is fairly expected in the movie.

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House of Sleeping Beauties is a moderately (85 pages) long short story, a touching meditation on old age and death, sex and youth and with the traditional twist in the tail. (And we won’t go into the blazing misogyny of both the story and the film at this time.)

“He was much taken with the thought of sleeping a deathlike sleep next to a girl put into a sleep like death.

“…It was a house frequented by old men who could no longer use women as women: but Eguchi, on his third visit, knew that to sleep with such a girl was a fleeting consolation, the pursuit of a vanished happiness in being alive. And where there among them old men who secretly asked to sleep forever beside a girl who had been put to sleep? There seemed to be a sadness in a young girl’s body that called up in an old man a longing for death.

“She had been stripped of all defences, for the sake of her aged guest, of the sad old man. She was naked and she would not awaken. Eguchi felt a wave of pity for her. A thought came to him: the aged have death, the young have love, and death comes once, and love comes over and over again. It was a thought for which he was unprepared, but it calmed him – not that he had been especially overwrought.

“… ‘The death of an old man is an ugly thing. I suppose you might think of it as a rebirth in heaven – but I am sure he went the other way.'”

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The movie, in contrast, shows a lot of Emily Browning’s naked arse.

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Put it this was, the short story ends with a punch, the movie is more of a sucker.

I’ll shut up now and get back to working on the novel. Sorry, E@L will.

E@L, me, E@L, whomever

Sleeping Bewdy

Posted in books, Japanese Literature, movies, stuff I should shutup about, waffle by expatatlarge on February 18, 2012

[Do’h! See comments.]

Seduced, mesmerised, captivated, as were we all indubitably, by the gentle pace and the soft visual caresses of that recent Orstrayen fillum, Sleeping Beauty (NOT the Disney pic), E@L allows himself to drift away and lose himself in the obscure world of sex, beauty and death that lies way above our tedious day-to-day existence, into that floating world of timeless daydreaming and soft-core porn.


Sleeping Beauty from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.

Anyone seen it? No? Figured as much. Philistines.

Art? Well it would have made to the select cellar of a hundred million or so unwatched arty-farty fillums, down there with Melancholia and Tree Of Life, but it was not shot in black and white.

So not quite art, perhaps. Not at all in B&W.

But then again, it is a… pale film. There is a lot of paleness to it. Not quite a whiter shade, but it is, you know, pale. Which is not to say it is an insipid or wishy-washy movie. F’kn weird, yes.

You see (no pun intended), Emily Browning – from Sucker Punch and Lemony Snicket – is in a state of near or complete undressedness for large sections for some parts of it, and she has the palest, purest, almost translucent skin. She must have come to HK or Thailand to get some of those skin bleaching treatments which are advertised ubiquitously there/here. Many of the rooms in the flick are white, light grey, cream… such as the cold, clinical white (cliché alert!) of the research-lab where she goes to swallow a gastric tube, yuck, to have her stomach acidity read (by guy looking at a syringe it seems – where the fuck is the proper analyser?). And, um, there are other bits that are white-ish as well. Need to re-watch. Again, wasn’t looking specifically for the colour scheme, was looking for breast and butts and lithe female forms.

Yep, a lot of paleness and a lot of flesh. Surely if that don’t approach a goddam work of art, I don’t know what does. Really, I do not know.

Recently I tried to convince Bruce that it was soft-porn (aka Art), so I re-watched it with him, and no, there’s not nearly so much nudity as I thought. He told me there was bugger all nakedness in fact, and that it was a fucking weird flick and he was going to hit me several times quite hard for making him watch it when he could have gone out for a rub and tug…

Grant you that.

Plot: girl gets put into a deep sleep so that impotent old men can look at her naked in bed.

Not much to go on, you say.

Grant you that, too.

However you have to admit Browning does a terrific job of staying “asleep” (spoiler: she is just acting really, at least I hope she is) in this, like, gross-out scene where veteran Oz actor Chris Haywood does some fancy eye- and nostril-licking. Shudder. And then the big guy has a heart-attack (I think) and drops her off the bed and onto the floor… Ouch! Hope the carpet was soft. If only there was an Academy Award for not reacting!

But, getting serious again, it is the gentle pacing of the editing and/or direction (not as slow as the slow bits in Drive – Antonioni remakes Fast and Furious, guffaw) that is reminiscent of something that I can’t quite place. Of course there is movement amongst all this stillness, call it action, but it is so quiet and understated that it can become a dream, a sleep-walking state… Not just Emily asleep, but the way all the people in the White House move so languorously: they are never in a hurry; and how they talk softly, in what you might call measured tones if you were fond of clichés. That stirring of the tea, with a whisk, Japanese style.1

It reminds me I think, of the way the more typical modern Japanese literature works. I have read something, somewhere, maybe from Soseki, Tanazaki or H. Murakami that has these qualities. Seriously, I *did* think this movie might have some Japanese origin… The old silence speaks volumes thing, the relaxation that creates tension (maybe it doesn’t that 100% successfully here, it is not a completely satisfying film), the speed at which you stay still, the perfect emotional control in a crisis.

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Now, sigh, I don’t have the movie on my hard-disk because that would constitute piracy (I didn’t back it up onto this HDD here with me in BKK) to check the credits so I can only look up IMDB or the website.

But I wanted to know what they say is the true source of this storyline, other than Grimm’s Fairy Tales? There seems to be nothing there on the internet – the script is attributed to Julia Leigh, the director. There’s no mention of it being adapted from any other source…

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SSSOOOooooooo… I was in Kinokinuya in Paragon shopping centre in BKK today (oh fuck, yesterday) in search of a remaindered copy (because I was not aware of a full price copy in Singapore, and he had mentioned it the other day on his blog, and here I am in Bangkok…) of Tim from Cultural Snow‘s book on the so-called Noughties – so-called because they ARE so called – and of course, having found one eventually: they hid that lost copy pretty damn well, right there under my nose, I continued on browsing.

Beleive it or not, Kinokinuya have a damn fine selection Japanese literature in English, 40% or so of which are written not by Haruki Murakami (this guy has Nobel Prize written all over him, surely, at least if sales are anything to go by. ). One author who is not H. Murakumi is Yasunari Kawabata. A damn great writer whom my friend who did Japanese literature in Tokyo has never heard of, even though, speaking of which, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1968.

Many great little books by Kawabata, some terrific longer ones too (allegedly, I’ve only finished the short ones), and I disappointed not to be able to locate (in Geelong, well d’uh) a copy of Kawabata’s semi-fictional novel, The Master Of Go. This I intended to present to No1 son during the Saturnalia period of gift-giving, to match with the Go set I did manage to find. (Hint: this is significant.2)

Anyways, here in BKK, I did find a book of Kawabata’s short stories, House Of The Sleeping Beauties. It is a Kawabata I haven’t read, wasn’t even aware of. The Izu Dancer (the book that made him famous and loved), The Master of Go, Beauty and Sadness, and Snow Country I have read, some a few times, and this is a small book too, so I purchased it of course. (That, Tim’s 0s, and a history of Bosnia [don’t ask], but where the fuck am I going to find space to put them?)

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~~~~~~~~~~~

The book was wrapped in plastic still, so E@L had no idea if there was any correspondence between these stories and the movie with a similar title. He had only a vague feeling of suspicion, of quiet anticipation, until he unwrapped it. It was one of those editions you only see from Japan: a paperback, with a dust-jacket! He turned it over to admire it. Mainly shiny black, with a gold Klimt image on the left side of the front – The Hydra. Admirable. He looked at the colour of the inner, true, cover. It was bright red, surprising, a hidden dangerous colour, concealed like the harsh sudden contrast of a woman’s innermost secret parts, revealed. Kodansha Intl. The title story was originally published, in Japanese, in 1961. This English edition dated from 2004.

He was sitting on a broad chair of Chinese design in a the private room of a gentleman’s parlour in the distinguished suburb of Nana, when he read the first sentence. His paramour de jour, a fragrant blossom of a thing whose name, Khun Ying, rang like a tiny bell to his ears, was bent over, filling the large bath and splashing soapy water onto the rubber mattress on the floor, rendering its friction minimal, surfactants releasing the mineral-hidden slipperiness of water. Her left hand was plashing in the bath, stirring up pillows of luxurious foam.

He almost laughed, almost out loud!

He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the inn warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything of that sort.

“Oh ho! Oh Ho!, It is the same story, it is!” he laughed, out loud.

She turned her heart-shaped face towards him. She was naked of course, facing away from him at first. He paused his reading to admire her more attentively as she eased the shining parts of her soft female machine into a semi-profile. He could see the smooth hillock’s outline where her thigh merged with her hip; he could follow the reptilian arc of her spine from its lower dimples to a small inverted triangle of fine hair at the nape of her slender neck where she had tied up the black tresses to keep them from getting too wet and pinned them secure with a white butterfly clip; he could, and did, admire the outline at the soft fall of her small, perfect breast.

“Wah?”

“It is the movie,” he said. “It is exactly the same!” 3

“Why you say, moowee, wha moowee?”

The light was glistening on her wet skin where water beaded and fell in haphazard rivulets down the dark contours of her body, like condensation on a chilled beer glass. She stood up, placed her hand on her hip and looked at him, challengingly. Still, she stayed still. He felt quite heady under the power of her undaunted gaze. Against this female energy, this independence and will, he tried to assimilate the timeless beauty of her perfect form with the prejudices against her ancient profession. She was beautiful, perfect, classic, and she defied him to say otherwise. She defied him to judge, to say it made a difference, as if anything he could say or think would ever make a difference.

But still he was entranced by the gentleness of her body as she stood there, immobile. The delicate curve of her elbow, her arm smooth and dark as polished ebony (she was from down south), her hip jutting out to hold it, her knee slightly bent in just such a way; these features gave her entire stance the coquettish form of a famous statue, one he once knew but could not quite place…

He had seen her before, in her pure form: somewhere, she was a work of art.

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So I read a bit more of this story. I doesn’t take long to see what is happening here, another couple of paragraphs.

Plot: a girl gets put into a deep sleep so that impotent old men can look at her naked in bed!

This is it – absolutely 100% it. The plot for Sleeping Beauty comes from this Japanese story by Yasanuri Kawabata…

BING!

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1. I seem to recall (ther’s a lot vagueness in this post) that there is a fairly detailed description of the tea-ceremony in The Master Of Go  (this will make sense eventually, continue reading the post.), or maybe it is in another of Kawabata’s books. Green tea powder is whisked to a froth in the Japanese tea-ceremony, as Rachael Blake does with the sleeping draught she mixes for Emily Browning.

BING!

2. Browning’s character is a poor university student who is doing this sleep thing as an easy way for her to make good money. One of the lectures she walks out on in order to get to another of her on-call sleeping jobs is a lecture on a particular game of Go! “Why would the Master, after spending all this time thinking, make such a bad move?” or words to that effect. I seem to recollect this sort of conundrum being close to a section of that other Kawabata book, The Master of Go where an old master loses to a dashing young challenger (we’ve all been there).

BING!

Ancient Japanese Go-Go girls…

3. Almost. In the movie, Emily Browning as the candidate for the Sleeping Beauty job, is told that she will not, under any circumstances, be “penetrated”.

BING!

There are other points of correspondence too. The first old man holding, lifting and letting drop Browning’s arm – the description of a similar incident in the story is quite mesmerizing and it almost perfectly realized, word for word as it were, in the movie. And then there is… not sure, but there must be more. I’d better read more of the story before I can say.

BING!

Anyway, it’s a given.

Again, BING!

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Obviously all this was no mystery to Julia Leigh: she put that Go lecture in there for a reason. I am just wondering if she duly and correctly attributed the story to Kawabata in the credits. I’ll have to wait 4hrs until this new torrent downloads, I mean until I get back to Singapore to view my legit DVD.

So there you have it: E@L the literary detective solves the mystery yet again. (There was a mystery?) The movie Sleeping Beauty is, cunningly and in an attempt to divert suspicion, based on a Japanese story called House of The Sleeping Beauties. Who woulda thunk?

E@L

(I know none of you give a fuck about any of this, but it’s made my pathetic, wasted-life of a day, such as it was.)

(Also, this post was originally meant to constitute “a full critical analysis” of The Noughties, to be placed “http://culturalsnow.blogspot.com/2012/02/and-your-point-is.html“>here (i.e.: Tim’s blog) first thing in the morning. With footnotes.” Oops. Got distracted, again.)

Siri v HAL

Posted in anything but apple, movies by expatatlarge on October 23, 2011

Many of you are aware that in the Samsung v Apple tablet battle, Samsung pulled out all stops and reminded us that it had developed the concept of the tablet style device we now know as the Motorola Xoom Samsung 10.1 iPad, (allegedly) in their previously un-mentioned collaboration with Stanley Kubrick for the award winning (Award for the Slowest Plot Development in a Adapted iDapted Screenplay) movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey:

And a bit more clear demonstration at the very start of this clip (cannot embed).

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But did you know that Apple claim the natural voice controls of Siri also were developed, but by them, for that movie?

Open the pod-bay doors please HAL. Hello HAL, do you read me?

Of course a cynic like E@L would expect the interface to be slightly touchy (as it were), just as HAL was…

– I’m sorry Dave, I am afraid I can’t find Futile Counter-Productive Copyright Battles in my dictionary.

E@L

Jetsetter

Posted in blood pressure, Christopher Nolan, movies, porn, running late by expatatlarge on July 18, 2010

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

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

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

Shit, gotta go.

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

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

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

E@L

What? Led, you hear?

Posted in blog stats, feet, movies by expatatlarge on July 19, 2009

Was playing Beethoven’s Ninth actually.

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Creepy just has a viewing of some the searches that brought people to his site. Obviously many of them are in the Jacuzzi as we speak…

This is a time-honored Blog ritual. For weeks now bloggers have been wondering just what twisted logic Google searches engines use to throw their rantings up whenever something weird or sick gets entered into the little square box. I use SiteMeter. It’s free. ‘Nough said.

In my case, over the weekend, people (countries in brackets) who have been searching for :

1. (?) expat at large
2. (Singapore) don’t be a singaporean
3. (blogsearch Australia) Momentary Madness. (Looks like they decided to come here instead!)
4. (USA) fuck chinese I movie
5. (USA) dr. godot
6. (UK) Thai bar girls get fukt movies
7. (Indonesia) expat@large blogspot
8. (UK) Chinese women I fucked
9. (UK) make bookshelves from railway sleepers
10. (?) you turn me right round
11. (?) expat at large
12. (Australia) expat at large
13. (Australia) pharmacist expat
14. (UK) hawker food centers in the center of Melbourne

have ended up at this very blog. Not at this very post, obviously, but the, you know, whole blog itself sorta thing.

Looks like the Brits are keen on having sex on a recycled bookshelf with Thai and Chinese girls in hawker centers. And it looks like they and the umpires are going to win the Second Test at Lords as well.

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Did want to talk about my health issues, but my chest is too tight [cough, cough] (not Swine flu) and my feet are too swollen, so I put my feet up and watched Lantana instead.

Won every award in Australia but sunk without a trace in the States. Anthony LaPaglia ditches his fake US accent. Barbara Hershey looks as lost as her character, and I don’t think that was intentional.

Best line: “This is not an affair, it’s a one-night stand that happened twice.”

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Bedtime, sorry have to work tomorrow. No, I was not in Jakarta last week, (fucking Jemaah bastards), but I will be back in Bangkok (should I buy a flat?) on Wednesday! Think I’ll skip the JW Marriott there, as well as in Hong Kong which, if the weather clears, I’ll be visiting the week after.

E@L

My Mind Taken By Aliens

Posted in movies by expatatlarge on June 21, 2009

I couldn’t help but think, while Liam Neeson was casually dispatching yet another “bad” guy in Taken, the guy in the lift, of the multiple ironies involved. Here’s another security guard just doing his job and soon enough he’s unnecessarily dead in yet another gruesome film-o-genic way. Hang on, isn’t this exactly the part-time job Neeson’s character was doing twenty minutes ago? Obviously the camaraderie for the fellow toilers in the field he evinced in the opening BBQ sequence doesn’t extend to foreign workers. Bang bang, shoot ’em up , karate chop, but America is not a big one on unionized labor is it?

And by shooting him in each shoulder, then in the legs, I couldn’t help but wonder: isn’t this six-packing such an Irish thing to do?

Body-count and car chases. That’s this movie. Total mindless crap – cut AWAY from the fracking chase is what I was thinking… (and it was the only time I needed to think while watching it. Higher brain function not required on the voyage.)

Oh, gentle reader, I know you. You will all love it, no doubt. It’s ENTERTAINING you will say. Sometimes one needs entertainment. Well fuck off. It is NOT entertaining to me. I prefer the highly cerebral movies like Dead Man, something by Jodorowsky, or maybe Predator and of course Aliens.

Actually, Taken’s strength (yes, I did enjoy the bright lights and loud noises for a while – I’m only human, just as susceptible as the rest of you morons) and its weakness is that it is just another of those completely bullshit stereotyped action flicks which I love making fun of that actually have a sinister underpinning that no-one else seems to get the first time they watch it…

This is yet another movie whose ultimate but unstated aim is to reinforce American xenophobic paranoia by continually showing how foreigners, particularly Arabs of course, are evil, corrupt and heartless. And the one-man Irish-American bulletproof army goes in – because it’s HIS DAUGHTER we’re talking about – with a morality down as shallow as the “revenge = justice” level, packed with enough inane stupidity that any rational person would tear their brain out through their nose with a hooked knitting needle rather than think about the possibility of this being possible. What happened to the girl he rescued from the brothel? Where did he get an IV pack and “fluid” for infusion? In short it’s the type of movie which does well at the box-office because it reinforces family values, like murder, and fortunately statistical evidence has proven that 98.5% of the movie watching public are fucking idiots.

Why is it a hit? Because it is fast food cinema, efficient at surging the Dopamine; exciting, high-octane, reptilian-brain food.

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But hang on, what’s with Liam’s face? Has he been splurging on Preparation-H eye cream or — SCOOP! — is it that Liam Neeson has had the bags under his eyes done?

OMG HE’S HAD AESTHETIC SURGERY DONE! In the early scenes, I just couldn’t look him in the robot-like face. What a wanker. Yes, yes, it’s a major shame that his beautiful wife died, etc,…

But why the fuck do actors get this sort of vanity work done?* Do they think we’re not going to notice? Do they think we are stupid? (Check stats quoted above.) Famous people should NOT LISTEN to their minders, to their publicity agents, to their stylists and mentors and advisers. There is not exception to this rule: men who have facial plastic surgery for aesthetic reasons deserve to have their skin peel off after a day or two in the sun – or whatever was the premise of the intensely chaotic Darkman, Sam Raimi’s Neeson vehicle from nearly 20 years ago (also on the SQ film program).

End interlude

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Taken. Phomn Penh-like curtain brothels on a construction site in Paris. Reality? I’ll bet all the naïve little American girls are just queuing up to go to Paris after this one. Not.

Surely, thinks, the American French amity levels are going to be at an all time high after this movie as well. When you consider the terrible hit their friendship took after France told the USA (and Britain and Australia) not to be fucking idiots and sex up the “intelligence” data on a pretence to gain some tiny molehill of legitimacy for the incredibly stupid idea of invading Iraq back in 2003. Well, it turned out, ‘someone’ was mort wrong on that one, eh?

Well, what’s a few “Je vous ai dit ainsi“s between friends?

And the biggest irony of all – Taken was written by Frenchman Luc Besson.

E@L

“I told you so” – French translation by Babelfish.

The Curious Case of Making a Movie As Boring As Benjamin Button.

Posted in movies by expatatlarge on June 13, 2009

zzzzzzzzzz, ssiewwww, mi mi mi mi mi

zzzzzzzzzz, ssiewwww, mi mi mi mi mi

zzzzzzzzzz, ssiewwww, mi mi mi mi mi

zzzzzzzzzz, ssiewwww, mi mi mi mi mi

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I aged about 200 years in only the first 4 hrs of this exercise in indulgence movie.

E@L

Black Dog

Posted in dentists, despair, diet, movies, Mr Grumpy, news, rants, teeth by expatatlarge on February 11, 2009

As I left the supermarket tonight after doing my post-sashimi-dinner shopping, I felt a wave of immense sadness come over me. For no obvious reason, I felt like shit, like crying, like getting pissed on martinis all by myself. I got into a taxi without any delay and helped the driver navigate the tortuous route to my place, all of 500m away as the crow flies. I kept wondering why I would suddenly feel this hollow blackness throughout my gut. It still has not passed. My comments on other blogs tonight reflect the bitterness of my mood.

Was it merely bad sashimi? (Good name for a band?) Or that that plate of so-so sashimi was all that I had eaten all day (since breakfast, I mean)?

Was it something of the ‘black dog’ that afflicted that wonderful peacemaker Winston Churchill, something of the ‘black veil’ of Rick Moody [sic], something of the ‘visible darkness’ of William Styron? No, I am not the depressive type. I don’t think. Probably why I am not as creative/productive as I should be – too busy having fun, mostly.

Was it the thought of all those people killed in the Victorian bushfires?

Was it that there was no-one in when I had come home earlier this evening? The house echoed a stillness. I hate being alone too long, the silence bugs me, that sense of rejection it implies, but I also crave the gratifying solitude I gain when I am rejecting someone who is sitting right near me. Go figure.

Was it that the Pub Quiz I was so looking forward to was cancelled as everyone is out of town except two of us. We need 5 to make the team and I only found out at the last minute – hence, no I didn’t call you, and hence the sashimi and green tea dinner rather than fish’n’chips and multiple Kilkennys.

Was it because I didn’t bring my iPod on the walk to the supermarket and had to listen to my own maudlin thoughts as I rambled up the street, rather than the wailing blues guitar of Buddy Guy (as I am now – a great version of Lay Lady Lay)?

Was it that one of my good buddies has to have surgery soon for a serious prostate condition and he is younger than me.

Was it that I am a just morose bastard? Sometimes this is true.

Was it that I am fat and horrible and ugly and a total bastard? That couldn’t be it – hell, I revel in being such an anti-social anti-fashionable anti-stereotype… type.

Was it that there is a fucking Harry’s bar everywhere you turn these days! I met the Harry’s guy somewhere at a wine-tasting once. You can have too many Harry’s Bars, trust me. Just like you can have too any franchises in general, too many Credit Default Swaps (overvalued cows), too many fatally flawed acquisitions, too many bad debts in your portfolio, too much hubris and bravado and pay too big bonuses to idiotically greedy CEOs

Was it that there is an immense world depression around the corner and that no-one looks anywhere near like knowing what to do to prevent it?

Was it that I will no doubt lose big time on my purchase of a unit in Noosa? At least in the short term.

Was it that I laid out my revised book plot to Izzy (the flat-mate, remember her?) last night then went to bed and slept without writing any of it down. And the essence of the plot twist comes from a memory – I just realized that I had been a genuine bastard to someone once, and hardly even thought about it at the time. Probably ruined their life. No, it wasn’t you.

Was it that I won’t be going to Tokyo for the training in April after all, and miss some great food (the training will be crap and tremendously ad hoc as usual). (However No1 Son and GF will coming up to Singapore for a few days in April! I feel better already thinking about that! Except I have nowhere for them to sleep yet.)

Was it that I spent 3 hours this afternoon with my mouth stretched open while someone constructed some serious new infrastructre in there, the way Ivor Kants put together a maze of scaffolding inside Judy Morris’s tiny bathroom in Peter Weir’s 1979 gem The Plumber. I tried to wash out the noise with some iPodded Beethoven but it didn’t work. The drill and the violin kept harmonizing in my sinuses… The partial cap that kept falling out over the last month or so was broken and had to be reconstructed – I had to sell some CDS to the tune of $1260 for the privelege.

Was it that the anaesthetics are wearing off and I am merely ill with my tooth’s slow fading memory of the pain it felt but couldn’t tell me about at the time.

Was it that I buy and buy all these fucking books without the possibility of ever reading them. Am I a fucking idiot? Currently a fan of pretty much anything published by New York Review of Books. Most of their mid 20th century lost European classics turned up on my desk yesterday, courtesy of Amazon. Fuck the current zeitgeist, take me back to Paris or Berlin with all the other expats, exiles and émigrés.

Was it that The Boss has just sent out an email reminding everyone (um, that’d be me) that office hours are 8:45 to 5:30 and asked everyone (um, that’d still be me) to honour them. The current Boss is about be upgraded with a new model, actually an older, more establishment guy and we are all quaking in our lazy boots. Turn up on time? What next, paperwork?

Or was it that the world truly is meaningless and shite and so are we all in despair if we have half a brain to recognize this, and that my blog is just a scrap of electronic toilet paper floating out to cyber-sea…

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Actually I feel much better after typing all this. I feel like some emo teenage girl who has had a big heart-to-heart on Facebook with her closest 5,644 friends.

Who said catharsis sucks?

Ah, time for that martini.

And how was YOUR day?

E@L