Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bette Davis Eyes

This song was already old when Kim Carnes took it and shook it in 1981. I loved it then, and like it a great deal now. Oh, how fickle I am! Actually, this may mean that my taste is all in my arse, but I don't care. When I say it was old - it had been written in 1974, and released later that year to thundering silence.

It's a fine thing to be back at work, and an even finer thing to have the energy to sit at my keyboard to write something. So, here we go:

I have found that the way to become a good bus driver (an exalted state I hope to reach one fine day) is to have Salamander Eyes. Big, googly, swivelling eyes. When cornering, I can use one to focus on the right mirror, to make sure I don't hit that bloody concrete island that some dickhead put there. With the second swivelly eye I can watch for the moron in the Audi - more on that later - who is going to do something unexpected. With the third (!) I can keep an eye on the left mirror to make sure the tail swing doesn't take out the Postbox some dickhead (possibly the same one) put too close to the kerb. And after I've done all that, I can do something about watching the road ahead because that kid's just rushed out and..

Incidentally - "He's got salamander eyes" scans with the song perfectly.

There are a few TV commercials I'd like to comment on. There's the Kinder Surprise one, where the Dad knocks on the door and asks the little girl to come outside... Then gives her chocolate and acts all... creepy... with her. I can't help but think he's been forbidden contact with the child, isn't allowed in the home, and is a peadophiliac slimeball. Otherwise, why not simply open the door? Why not simply go inside? Why not simply tell the little girl to put her hand in his pocket to find the.... Oh. Sorry.  I don't like that commercial, At all.

Then there's the one where the equally creepy guy goes to the bank vault while an oleagenous voice-over bangs on about "precious things". El Creepo then gets into a car to find a bride (it's at night-time, too. Extra creepiness) while the voice-over says something about daughters being the most precious, my dear. The Rich Creep gives the bride - his daughter - a key. I'm assuming it opens her chastity belt. The whole tone of the commercial is that the daughters of rich men belong to their fathers. Vileness, in the back of a car.

Then there's the Stuart Dawson (I think) Jeweller commercial. Three vacant chicks are sitting at a coffee table. Two ask the third how her new relationship is going... and Blank Chick # 3 shows off the jewellery her new boyfriend has bought her. Hmm. The best way to judge a man is by the jewellery he buys you...  Vile factor of 7 out of 10.

It's later. Time to write a little more about Audi drivers.

There are, I am sure, good drivers who are also Audi drivers, but I haven't seen any for a long time. Maybe there's an Audi aerosol that the vehicles spray at their drivers that turns off their brains. I'm finding that 8 times out of 10 that I see arrogance, rudeness, shitheadedness, and prickish behaviour on the roads, it's being demonstrated by an Audi driver. I bet that Creepy Father # 2 drives an Audi. Paedo Creepy Father # 1 would drive a white van...

Watching: Not much on TV right now that rings my bells.

Reading: Ian Tregillis, "Bitter Seeds". Sci Fantasy, and excellently done.

Listening to: Arcade Fire "Neon Fire". Top album.

Movies: We went to see "Brave" yesterday. Laughed like a drain. Really thoroughly enjoyed it.

Buy of the Week: Mad Butcher has big bags of licorice allsorts off cuts for $4.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Born to be mild

Steppenwolf, of course. Easy Rider, of course. The song "Born To Be Wild" has become a cliche, a laughing stock, a parody of everything it might have once stood for or said. It was, it's said, the first heavy metal song, and the lyric provides the first use of those two words used in conjunction. It's dragged out by broadcast journalists every time they have a story dealing even vaguely with motorcycles. It was the standout track on Steppenwolf's 1968 album, and used as the first big song on 1969's movie "Easy Rider". 'Nuff said.

It seems the NZ Police want us all born to be mild, if their Special Tactics Group spokesman is to be believed. When being questioned about the veracity of the Kim Dotcom search warrant and the methods used to execute it, the STG chappy said (in court) with some indignation, that Mr Dotcom was "belligerent and disdainful".

As opposed to what, Mr Gun-Totin' STG person? Mild, and polite? Fawning, and obsequious? Timid, and grovelling? Of course Dotcom was belligerent and disdainful. (Actually, he wasn't belligerent. He physically surrendered. Dotcom was belligerent and disdainful because he is a highly intelligent person - you don't get to develop and run a business turning over hundreds of millions of dollars if you're stupid - and knew what was going on. He knew the NZ Police were toadying to their FBI colleagues. He knew the guns and helicopters and total overkill was all theatre, and all gobshite.

The rationale used by the anonymous coppers in court for the guns (we saw a 10 year old photo of Mr Dotcom holding a shotgun! Shriek! Panic!) and hugely overmanned attack on his home (we needed men to neutralise his cars because we'd seen a YouTube clip of Mr Dotcom driving at 260kph on Germany's autobahn, so considered him a flight risk) is pathetic.

As for when he was physically arrested... well, what a balls up that was on the part of the Special Tactics group. They knew where the Panic Room was, because Dotcom has shown a visiting constable all of the house's features a few days prior to the raid. This co-operation on his part, of course, made the zealotry for guns and shock and awe all the more rational. But, even knowing where the Panic Room was, it took the arresting team 13 minutes to track him down. Despite the fact that the Panic Room's door was left unlocked. Then it took a lot of yelling and gun-pointing and noise to persuade a fat man to hold his hands up, to push him to the ground, to punch him (yes, I believe him on that one) and to accidentally trample his fingers (Yes, I believe the cops on this one. There was so much chaos that it's highly likely it was accidental).

The whole thing was bullshit. And the NZ Police Commissioner should be asking some very hard questions, and making the answers very public. Bet he won't, though.

ON TO ME: Diagnosis: cluster headaches. Have to carry powerful anti-cluster-headache drugs with me at all times. Might get a man-bag. And I can go back to work, once I get the letter from the doctor. woo hoo. Monday week should do it.

READING: Ken Follet, "Fall of Giants". Big, fat book. Good start.

LISTENING TO: Steppenwolf, "At Your Birthday Party". Excellent.

PRODUCT: Sounds fm. They're doing a lot of TV advertising right now. Tuned in when I was in hospital. Like listening to my own album collection. And they don't just play the "popular" tracks from albums. They play stuff I haven't heard in years.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fever, and Que Sera Sera

Yes, two topics!
First, "Fever". Made famous by Peggy Lee back in 1958. A thousand other people have covered it (Beyonce being the most recent), but no-one else has managed to get the raw sexuality of Peggy Lee's recording. Yes, "Fever" is the rooting song.

Anyway: fever. I've not blogged for a couple of weeks, because I had a fever. Huge one, too: pneumonia. Now, I learnt a couple of things from this experience.
A fever isn't just hot. The night before going to the doctor, I was experiencing bouts of deep cold, accompanied by uncontrollable shivering. This was unpleasant, so nature, in all its deviosity followed it up with heat. Lots of heat, and sweat.
So, Jenny dragged me to the doctor the next morning (Almost literally. I was terribly weak.) and while I was there I passed out. Excitement! People rushing about! Jenny getting the fright of her life (sorry, sweetheart)! Mucho vomiting, too!
Then hospital. Again. I am really getting sick of that place, weak-kneed pun intended. So, yes, it was pneumonia, and I said "but it hurts". They looked at me as though I was a moron - a look I've been getting a lot, lately. "Of course it hurts," they said. "It's pneumonia".
Well, hell. Who knew. I've been accustomed to hearing about Old Man Jones, who mercifully died of pneumonia after spending 20 years battling scrofula.
It seems that pneumonia kills many old people. They have cancer, beri-beri, malaria, whatever. The disease weakens them, they contract pneumonia, and they die. Well, we think. Ain't that a mercy. Instead of having to battle Limping Leprosy, pneumonia has peacefully carried them off. Ha! Pneumonia hurts. A lot. There's no mercy about it.

Que Sera Sera: another 1950s number, this one first made popular in the Hitchcock movie "The Man Who Knew Too Much", in 1956. Doris Day sang it in the movie, and it became a big hit. Much as I love Doris, I prefer the Connie Francis version, which came out in 1962, when I was 10.

Also, Connie was hot. Ter.

Anyway. Christchurch has a few things to celebrate, post-earthquake. The residents have been given ample opportunities to see just how much of a hollow man their Mayor is, and Gerry Brownlee has strode the area like a colossus. So much so that his bulk has actually kicked off 17 after-shocks. He hasn't said much worth listening too, though. He has merely eclipsed the sun occasionally, and harrumphed.
But the new plan for the city centre does look like it could work very well. Brilliantly, in fact.
I just have one small quibble.
CERA. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. Great acronym. Well, it would be, if we pronounced Canterbury as "Santerbury". For some reason or other everyone pronounces CERA with a soft "C". SERA. But the "C" from "Canetrbury" is hard - Kanterbury.

Immanuel Kant.

So the "C" IN CERA should be hard. KERA.

Can't wait to get back to work. Seeing the Neurologist today to get my facey thing signed off, and to see if I can get Magic Drug to stop future headaches. Wish me luck (which I, as a rationalist, don't believe in). Hearty thing's under control. Pneumonia has largely gone, just in recovery mode.

READING: "D-DAY", Stephen E Ambrose. Very, very good. "Pale Horse Coming", Stephen Hunter. One of his very best, and a replacement copy for the one I loaned out to someone who obviously thinks it's too good to return.

LISTENING TO: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Beat The Devil's Tattoo". Constantly surprising.

WATCHING: TV: "The Fades". Brilliant Brit writing, acting, directing. Great ghost / apocalypse yarn. MOVIE: Have finally seen "War Horse". Not as damp-making as I feared. Good flick, but I'm glad I didn't spend $16 on a movie ticket.

PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT: Gu chocolate Millionaire Pancakes. Holy crap. I never knew chocolate, caramel, oats, and magic could ever taste so good. These were given to us by our neighbour, recently returned from Australia, so they may not be available here. Storm the Bastille until someone imports them!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Please Read The Letter

Woo hoo! I made it into the 2000s: Please Read The Letter is on the 2009 album "Raising Sand", by Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. OK, picky people will also note that it was first released on the Bob Plant album "Walking Into Clarksdale", realeased 1998. Bah, I say. And humbug.
Three letters...

Dear Listener Editor;
The first time I saw it in your pages, the matches came out. The second time: the fuse was lit. And now I’ve seen it for a third time. Which makes it time for me to explode.
July 21-27 Issue 3767
It’s the replacement of poo (a perfectly good -if childish – euphemism for sh*t, cr*p, d*ng, m*n*r*, or the ever-popular French m*rd*. Excrement.) with pooh. Pooh, as we should all know is the name of a Bear. A very nice Bear. A Bear of Importance, Hunny, and Verse.
Christopher Robin did not go a-wandering in the Hundred Acre Wood with a poo. That would have been weird. Instead, he went with Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger, Eeyore, Wol, Roo, and various others.

To replace Poo with Pooh implies that the word Poo (or sh*t, etc) is also synonymous with Black, Polar, Grizzly, Koala, and Cuddly. I shudder at the thought of a Cuddly Poo, but a Cuddly Pooh makes me feel all gooey and caramel-ey inside.
And consider this: all Bears can poo in the woods, but only one Pooh can Bear in the woods.

Please instruct your writers and sub-editors that a poo is a poo, and cannot under any circumstance be confused with Pooh, who is a Bear.
Many thanks,

Dear JohnKey;
It must be very heart-warming for you to know that 67%  63%  58%  whoops  53%  um  48% er quite a few people are still quite fond of you. Unfortunately, your popularity seems to be dropping almost as quickly as a crack whore’s drawers on a Saturday night.

So, what to do? You’ve tried the race card: hauling out the water rights thing, so the Maori Party will get all divisive and divided, and you look like quite a reasonable sort of chap, smirking while you said that all you were quoting was the law. Oh, please, JohnKey: not even Winston Creepers would have used that one.
We know that all you’ve done, really, is follow what your monied instincts tell you to do: grab things that aren’t yours, things that someone else (like me, and my parents) paid for and built, and sell them to yourself and your buck-buddies. After all, you’re Mum and Dad Kiwis, aren’t you?

You know that so-called “ordinary” Kiwis can’t afford to buy any of the shares / share packages that will be offered when the power companies go on the market.  In New Zealand and simultaneously in Australia, where there's a million or so "ordinary" Kiwis. Mind you, I have to grant that your definition of “ordinary” might be different from mine. To you, ordinary is someone who earns more than $200,000 a year. Probably overseas. To me, ordinary means the other 98% of people. Here.They’re the strange little creatures you meet on those interminable photo-opportunities you have to smile so much at.
But the smile’s not working these days, is it? Not working for you, and not being put to work by you. Perhaps people have started seeing how shallow and shabby you and your pod-people in Cabinet are…


Dear God;
I’ve been reading a bit about Intelligent Design lately.
It’s an attractive proposition, until I look at myself. I had to start wearing spectacles at age 3, because my “Intelligently Designed” eyes weren’t up to scratch. It took a surgical team of fallible people to fix the major problems that Your Infallibility left behind. Mind you, I got lucky: I missed the Intelligently Designed Polio you gave us to play with.

And now, it seems your Design has cracked up again. The chances seem pretty good that I have something called “Cluster Headaches”. You must have built them into your Perfect Design as a way of teaching us oh, something – although if a human father did that to his kids he’d be thrown into prison for child abuse. Anyway, if you’ve forgotten about Cluster Headaches, check ‘em out on You’ll see a video of a man learning your ineffable lesson as he joyously experiences a Cluster Headache. I know exactly how he feels.

Intelligent Design, eh, God? Sorry, but you don’t even get an “E” for Effort.

Ignore ya later,

Listening to: Nina Simone, Greatest Hits. “Cotton Eyed Joe” is playing right now. Sublime.
Reading: War comics.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And When I Die

In 1969 (will I ever drag myself out of the 60s?) the jazz/rock fusion band Blood Sweat And Tears,_Sweat_%26_Tears released "And When I Die". It reached #2 on the Top 40, and was, quite possibly, the last time death was rationally mentioned on primetime media in the United States of America.

It strikes me that the Americans (and we're catching this particular disease) have a really odd attitude toward death. I am not convinced that people - particularly Americans -  actually "believe" in death. Vast numbers believe in some sort of Sky God who speaks to them personally, and who maintains some sort of home for them to go to when their material body dies, so they don't actually die. It's seems to me that there are major delusional factors involved in this belief system, but wjhat do I know?

But it goes beyond that. There's a number of movies that come out every year that shows the transubstantial belief goes beyond organised regions. The Christ, Jahweh, Mohammed, Krishna, and Buddha followers aren't mentioned in films in which an adult swaps bodies with a teenager (and vice versa, of course), and everyone enjoys learning a jolly good lesson. Or the films in which preople are miraculously saved from some tragedy, but are later harvested by a vengeful personified Death, wyho seems to enjoy coming up with quite novel and spectacular ways of doingn away with people. Now, even irrational people understand that movies ain't real. But even the suspension of disbelief allows the making and popularity of movies that easily insist on the reality of "souls", "spirits", and (more sinisterly) the personification of a being that takes your spirit from you.

Then there's the language. I've notived American movies, books, TV programmes, websites, and magazines almost never use the "D" word. People don't die, and they're not dead. They pass, or have passed.

Oh, well - that's them.

I noticed this the other, and couldn't believe it. The quote comes from the story in the link, which tells of a chap who was called in to investigate a "sacred" statue that was producing holy water. Unfortunately for the goddists, it was actually sewage water, leaking from a busted pipe. But here's the quote:

You now face possible arrest. Why?Leaders of two Catholic laity organizations have launched charges against me under Section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with "deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

Yeah - an actual law that protects the feelings of the religious. Sigh. If their god ain't powerful enough to protect their feelings, then what the dickens does that law have to do with it?

Reading: Potsdam Station, by David Downing. The last of a series about Berlin during WWII. Better than Le Carre at his best.

Watched: "Strange Exports: A Christmas Tale". A Finnish movie about the real Santa. Deliciously funny.

Listening to: Lana del Ray "Born To Die". Well, at least she didn't call it "Born to pass..."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

When I'm Sixty-Four

The Beatles didn't do many "character" songs - and it could be argued either way as to whether "Sixty-Four" is one or not. It was on the Sergeant Pepper album, released in 1966, and it made my Parietal Lobe reverberate the other day when I looked at something and reacted... well, here's the story.

When you drive a bus, you get a terrific view of all sorts of stupid, wonderful, beautiful, and breath-taking things. I see a lot of drivers do a lot of stupid things. To be fair, I see a huge number more drivers doing sensible, safe, and thoughtful things, so it evens out. I see old couples out walking their dog, strolling along hand in hand. Very cool. I see teenagers walking together, and I know from the way they walk that they both want to hold hands, but neither knows just how to go about it. At night-time, I don't see any men waiting at bus-stops, because they're all wearing black. I've learnt to slooow---riiight---dooown just before every bus-stop, just to look for the invisible men. The other night one of them held up his glowing cell-phone to alert me. I could have kissed him.

And I see a lot of tights. And I often see long, bare legs, topped by micro-skirts. And 90% of the time I think to myself: "Shit, she must be cold." Actually, when the legs are bare you can tell she's cold. The legs are blotchy with purple patches.

Now, I'm pretty sure that only 10 years ago I would have been thinking "Hurly burly what a girly!" Actually, I wouldn't have been thinking at all: it would have been a purely visceral reaction.

"Shit, she must be cold." It's with that murmur of concern that all my dreams of being a dirty old man run down the gurgler. Damn.

Reading: David Downing, "Sealing Their Fate". A history of the 22 days in 1941 that Germany and Japan lost WWII. Excellent.
Listening to: The Beatles, "Love". The re-mix that Giles Martin did for the Cirque de Soleil show of the same name. Also excellent.
Watching: "Castle". Absolutely and totally brainless. I love it, but when are they going to get it on??

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Dangling Conversation

A minor hit before for Simon & Garfunkel before the album "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme" was released in 1966, "The Dangling Conversation" tells the tale of a couple whose familiarity with each other has turned not into contempt, but rather into a rift that is so vast as to be practically invisible.
The theme of the song has nothing to do with today's blog. It's all in the title.
I was at a girls' school the other day (I shan't say which one). I was out of my magnificent chariot, making sure the School Bus signs were on display. As I walked back to the vehicle's front door from the rear, I was followed by to girls. Here's the fragment of conversation I heard:

GIRL ONE: I shaved my legs last night.
GIRL TWO: Really? Did you shave your vadge as well?
GIRL ONE: Shave my c*nt? No way...

I got on the bus and looked at them. I, of course, was invisible. I'm old, and a bus driver - guaranteed invisibility. They were 13, maybe 14, tops. On this, I merely report. I do not judge or comment. But I must add that I laughed like a drain. Oh - and I inserted the asterisk into the word because I know some of my readers find the whole word distasteful.

A couple of days later I was in Takapuna, and picking up four or five Chinese couples. They'd apparently been to a language class, and were eager to try out a few new words. They were happy, shy, and proud.
MAN ONE: Two stage tickets, PLease, for me and wife.
HIS WIFE (correcting him): MY wife!
PERSON ONE: Ah. Me and MY wife. Ha ha ha!
ME: Certainly, Sir. Well done! Welcome aboard.
MAN TWO: Good.... (asks wife question, in Chinese)
HIS WIFE: After-noon.
MAN TWO: Good after-noon. Two tickets for FoRRest HiLL, PLease. (laughs).
ME: Good afternoon, sir. Good afternoon, ma'am. And here are your tickets to Forrest Hill.

And so it goes, until the last passenger boards. She is a white lady, bottle-blonde, late 40s, perhaps early 50s. Nicely dressed.

ME: And good afternoon to you, ma'am. And where can North Star take you today?
LADY: Three stages please. And you do know, don't you, that there's no need to call them Sir or Ma'am, don't you? They're only Chinese.....

Again, I make no comment or judgement. But I do know who I'd rather have at my dinner table.

WATCHING: Bugger all. I've been doing a bunch of night shifts, starting at 2.00pm, finishing around 11.00.
READING: "Catching Fire", Suzanne Collins. The second part of the Hunger Games trilogy. Slower going than the fist one, but still...
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Ambrosia apples. I'm normally a Royal Gala kind of guy, but these are delicious.