Monday, November 30, 2009

All Blacks and Aussies

The media and their fascination with fame and the flaming All Blacks. I blither on about the media a lot, but that’s only because the people who populate it are so bloody brainless. Thick, especially in the skin area. Tact-free. They need sensitivity lessons. I guess, really, that I am really wittering on about the writers. The people who bang out the stories we see on news websites… like New Zealand’s very own Some might call them journalists, but I call them clods. They have no idea about propriety. F’r instance, there was a terrible accident over the weekend in which a child, a six-year old girl, was killed. I cannot imagine how the parents must feel. Regardless of how it happened, this is an appalling story. And when I saw it on Stuff, it was headlined “All Black’s niece dies in accident.” What? WHAT?? The oafish writer, in 17 key-strokes, has taken away a child's humanity and relevance, and turned her tragic accident into a fucking rugby story. The fact that the child’s uncle is a famous sportsman has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. It’s salacious, it’s nasty, and it beggars belief that the writer wrote the headline, and that the editor passed it for publication. I know that New Zealand’s not alone in having trolls write their news. At least I hope we’re not alone in it. My heart goes out to the child’s parents, and to her extended family… which happens to have, in its number, a grieving footy player. Let’s ask ourselves this question: when was the last time you saw a headline that went “Truck-driver’s niece dies in accident,’ or “Insurance clerk’s niece dies in accident”? When? Never, that’s when. That’s because it’s simply not relevant.

Aussies. Don't get me wrong: I'm fond of our neighbours. After all, my grand-daughter'sne of them, and both my sons are naturalised Aussies, if that's not an oxy-moron. After all, there's an awful lot about the country that's either artificial,or has a fascination with things manufactured.

We do, as well, but I think we're closer to the land and the scenery... all that green stuff - than the Aussies are. They've had to congregate into cities for protection from their natural wonders. Everything there (including the seven remaining koalas), it seems, is a threat to the life of mankind. There is a species of spider over there that's harmless, but it's only found on an outlying island... and that island's drifting away from the mainland so fast that in 170 million years or so it'll be in Antarctica, and the spider will have evolved a huge fur coat. It'll be slaughtered in the million by sentient crocodilia for use as handbags. But this is taking me ever further from my point, which is this: Don the Brash came out yesterday waving a document in the air. He'd been briefed by the government to find out what it would take to drag us up/along/over/down to the same level as the Aussies, GDP-wise. I really want to ask the question: do we want to become like the Aussies, and if so, why? Is personal wealth all that important? Why not look at nations that share some similarities: Norway, or Sweden, for instance. On the Happiness Quotient that's taken every year, the so-called doleful Scandinavians are at the top of the heap. Wealthy, yes. But they're gone about accummulating and distributing their wealth in a different way. Their wealth is in their society... not in the individual. The gap between the wealthy and poor is narrow. There are extremes, of course: the very rich, the impoverished. But the Scandoes don't have the vast numbers of poor that the Aussies (and we Kiwis) have, and the relatively few rich. We've followed the British and American models... and they haven't worked for the average Joe there, either. Any society that has 95% of the wealth in the hands of just 5% of the population is unhealthy. And it leads to unhealthy envy-worship, and bad journalism. Probably obesity, as well, and too much attention being given to fashionistas and celebrity chefs. So there.

I advert to all budding writers the existence of NaNoWriMo. I'm gonna be part of it next November. Heard about it too late this year.

WORD OF THE DAY: Languid. It's just such a superb word. Sounds like it's meaning. Have a go, and roll your tongue about as you're saying it...La-a-a-ngu-i-id.

LISTENING TO: Neil Young, "Hawks and Doves".

READING: The John Birmingham book. Sacre Blue, mate! The body count started at 300,000,000.... And some Canadians and Mexicans, too.... But I also got Frank Miller's "Sin City" out today. Ooooh! What to do?

More RATS.

As for Arthur? Arthur was discovering that he wasn’t the man he’d fondly imagined himself to be.
The stories that were filtering back about the treatment of the Conchies were horrifying. The rumours of Soames Island, so easily dismissed just months previously, were now being openly discussed. Filthy cells, in darkness, with no sight of the sun or moon. Being made to cut and stitch and sew the battledress uniforms that brave young men would wear as they faced the Hun’s or Turk’s bullet and blade and bomb. The thought of it made Arthur tremble. The thought of it made normal folk grimly cheerful.
George Weatherby had been a humourless boy, and had grown into a purse-lipped man, one who believed in himself and his destiny to eventually lead this tiny country at the bottom of the world. He was 34 years of age, and every move he’d made since graduating from Cambridge University with a law degree had been carefully considered. One of two sons of Benjamin Weatherby, a local circuit court judge, George had made his ambitions plain from an early age. Since his return from England he had worked tirelessly to advance himself in the local Liberal party’s ranks, and had risen far enough that he would be considered for candidacy in the next election. The coming of the war gave him more opportunities for advancement, and his campaigning had borne great fruit. Now all he needed was a way of announcing his news, and he thought he knew how to do it to the very best effect.
Grampa Smith spat onto the horseshoe, and shoved it back into the coals, and pumped the bellows again. He grunted as he spoke. “Anyone’d think he got a quid for every mother’s son who joined up, eh son.” It wasn’t a question.
“Aye,” replied Arthur, drily. “There’s another man who’d sooner see the boys go than the men. Especially men of his station. Or ambition.”
Weatherby had drawn a small crowd about him, men and women cheering his patriotism and stirring words. He lifted the enamelled tin speaker’s horn to his mouth, and spoke: “I call on all young men now! Your nation calls on you, your King calls on you. If you’re 18 or more, heed the call and take heed, and say yes to the requests our good King, his prime minister and councillors here in our fair Dominion make: the flag’s flying over the fields of France, boys, flying in the face of a fearsome foe.” His was a good voice, warm and mellow, and he used it well. He coaxed velvet tones out, but when the phrase was right his voice cut like a razor. He looked up at the great Union Jack flying over the council buildings, and pointed to it. “For all these years the three great united crosses of the British flag have been our protection! And now,” his voice dropped to a hoarse, tear-stained whisper that nonetheless carried to every ear “and now the flag calls for us.” Cheers greeted the call. Weatherby drew a breath, and carried on, his rich baritone carrying the whisper of a sob. “The flag of Great Britain calls for our sacrifice, for a few short months of our time. And yes, it may be that Britain will call for us as individuals to lay down our lives, or the lives of our sons or brothers. But what are our lives, ladies and gentlemen, lads and lassies? Eh? What are our lives, those lives, when measured against the Empire that has given us suck since the days we were brought mewling into life? It has been the Empire, the great and glorious British Empire that has sustained us, schooled us, and taught us the great eternal truth that is this: in Britain we are great, and our greatness of heart and spirit and courage must be returned to the Empire from whence it came!”
Grampa Smith sucked on his pipe, and screwed up his broad face in distaste. “I tell you, boy, that if I hadn’t been brought up to fear the Lord and respect His teachings in all things, and if it wasn’t too late, I’d geld that bastard. There are boys out there in that crowd who are going to die one day, purely because of the vile claptrap – Christ in His mercy, is that young Tim I see, cheering?”
Arthur raised his head, and looked across the square. His uncannily perfect eyesight swiftly picked out the boy. Timothy Copthorne's bright red hair was a giveaway at any range.
Weatherby had been keeping a weather-eye on the open front of the smithy, and he’d seen the old man’s gesture. He smiled: this was his opportunity. “How about you, young Copthorne? Will you take the banner, and follows the drums to glory?”
Arthur sucked in a deep breath, and shouted “Tim! Tim, you young scamp. Come over here, lad! I need a hand with Miss Jayne’s horse!” Arthur’s voice drowned the politician’s, and Weatherby glared back across the square, and held back his smile. He could have cheered.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday Scribbles XV

Back, after a coupleof Sundays away. Blame laziness - I do.

The Erebus Disaster. Is there something wrong with me? I can't help but think the whole 30th commemoration of the Air New Zealand crash on Erebus has been an overblown parody. It was a terrible and tragic event that saw hundreds of New Zealanders die in an instant, and blah blah blah. The cause of the crash was folly, stupidity, venality, and incompetence sob weep wail. The years after the crash saw nervous little men found out and justly pilloried, sigh oh dear me. It saw fine and noble men suffer in the cause of the truth, yawn and stretch. But the last sod of earth was shovelled onto the grave of the whole miserable affair years ago, and it should have been allowed to rest.

But along came a new Air New Zealand chairman who wanted to do the right thing. He very publicly apologied to the families of the crash victims. This was a good thing: Air New Zealand had behaved badly. Thirty years ago. Three decades. A generation and more ago. He offered to send a half-dozen family members, chosen at random, to Antarctica on the anniversary of the disaster. Nice of him. It should have ended there. Excellent PR campaign, done well.

Instead, it became a ghastly media circus. Camera crews from a dozen different "news" programmes told the story, over and over. Family members were interviewed until they burst into tears.. yes folks, the money shot. It has been a dreadful imposition on the actual people involved. A prominent businessman was pilloried for trying to help another businessman organise a commemorative flight.

Yes, people died. Sad, tragic, and all that. But it was 30 years ago. I doubt very much if we'd be having this sort of carry on if the tragedy had been the result of, say, a ferry sinking. When was the last time anyone got all tearful about the Wahine disaster? The "news" organisations rush about like demented jackals because it was an aeroplane crash in a stange place. Any plane crash is automatically interesting: The headlines will bellow "Small plane crashes: two dead" and will follow up with a breathless story about a Cessna crashing in Paekakariki... while relegating the car crash that killled four to page three. Air New Zealand has behaved well. TVNZ and TV3, TRN, Radioworks, and Radio New Zealand, Fairfax and Newsmedia have all behaved like slavering offal-eaters. They've disgusted me.

Rugby. As I write this, the All Blacks are playing France. I've just heard on the news that the ABs are leading. I'd be quite happy to watch the game, but I can't: we dropped our SKY subscription. Acxtually, even with a SKY subscription I wouldn't have been able to watch it, because one has to pay extra to watch sport. So, rugby has become less relevant. It's a game that needs to be seen: I can imagine cricket from the radio commentary, but not rugger. And they wonder why the game is becoming irrelevant: they've taken it away from its audience. The TV drama "The Wire" was broadcast here in NZ at 11.00pm, and sank without a trace: everywhere else in the world it waqs hailed as the best TV drama ever, full stop. Rugby will go the same way: a great game, perfect for TV, disappearing because over three quarters of the potential audience have been disenfranchised by the money-grubbers.

Strawberries are back on the shelves, and all is good with the world. About $2 a punnet, making them cheaper than they've been in years. And they're plump, juicy, full of flavour. My favourite fruit.

LISTENING TO: The radio. Media Report - 9.00 o'clock, Sunday morning. Excellent programme. Apart from that - yesterday, I dragged out an old Doris Day (!?) CD, and it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. So i slapped on a Dean Martin CD, then a Perry Como one. Great music, full of joy. I ended the day with the Neil Young DVD, "Heart of Gold". Bliss.

READING: John Birmingham, "Without Warning". In the first six pages he had stripped the North American continent almost bare of people. He doesn't think small.

WORD OF THE DAY: Johnkey. Rhymes with donkey. Means shithead. Our prime minister isn't going to Copenhagen. Keeping (or making) New Zealand clean and green means nothing to this scabrous fool. Prediction: a one-term National government.

More RATS:

She looked deep into the younger woman’s eyes, and was only mildly surprised at what she saw there.
The pair bound Arthur’s wounds, and then went to look for the old man. They found him, snoring at the back door, with the old man’s old black cat licking at the huge blue knot on his forehead. Amy’s hand reached out, and took Jayne’s, which tightened fiercely around her fingers.
Amy said “I,” and stopped, at a loss.
Jayne replied “I know. And it’s good, Amy. It’s very, very good.”
Chapter Three.
The war in Europe and the Middle East had proceeded another four months, and the thin Radius bone in Arthur’s forearm had healed well. He bore two scars from the earthquake: a Vee-shape on his forehead, and a ragged coin of pink on his left forearm. Old Man Smith, after having had his eyesight restored, had worked his godson hard, and the arm had made an almost complete recovery. The muscle had been torn, and the scar glistened in a deep dimple: but Arthur’s strength had hardly been impaired.
The war was on everyone’s lips. The casualty lists had been a black-bordered horror in far too many copies of the Northridge Oracle, the local newspaper. Jayne Francis had devoted the left hand window of her General Store to make a memorial. She had arranged black ribbons and black bunting at the window, and every day she placed a different photograph there, for people to see, and remember. She had started with just the two pictures: the Cornwell boy, and his mate de Mille, both of whom had perished on the day of the earthquake, in far-off Turkey. Now, five months later, she could put a different photograph in the window for every day of the week, and she wept at the day’s end when she took one loved son away from public view, and replaced him with another. The seven photographs were rotated each week, even on Sunday when her store was closed. None of the boys whose photographs she displayed had been older than her when they died: the youngest, Adam Hall, had been just 19.
Conscription was now a reality, and the conversations in the smithy were heated, tempered, beaten, quenched, and thrust into the flames again. The old man was adamant that the war was evil, and nothing could budge him.
As for Arthur? Arthur was discovering that he wasn’t the man he’d fondly imagined himself to be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Numbness, be my friend.

Libraries have this thing called the "Stack". Actually, it's just "Stack". No preposition, no article, just "Stack". Stack is where old books go to be stored, and asked for by old buggers. Let's face it - who remembers Dennis Wheatley these days? That's right: old farts. Right now I feel as though I should be sent to Stack for a rest. A quiet decade of being shelved with Enid Blyton, Leslie Charteris, Gerald Durrel and his brother, John Creasey and John Cleary, perhaps checking out Mickey Spillane's dust-covers... slightly foxed, I see, Mick.
It was a hard day. As hot as a rocket's exhaust, and I had to get around a vast retirement village with 8 boxes of books... and no hand trolley. Some bastard nicked it from the back of my van.
A box of books weighs in at anything between 12 and 25 kilograms. I was humping them, one at a time, by hand, for up to 200 metres each. That's because the nearest park I could find was way the hell over there, by that tree. The closest door to my van was 73 paces. On the longer one I was staggering a bit. That was at 10 in the morning. The day of lifting and carrying didn't finish until 4.30. Yes, I had a half-hour lunch break.
So this will be a short post. I am, to be blunt, buggered.
But let's take time for a quick happy moment. I spent ten minutes yesterday with John and Jean Birkbeck. He's 84, she's 6 months younger. They're English - and they've known each other since they were two. I frankly thought I'd been hopelessly romantic writing about a couple (Henry and Mary)who'd known and loved each other since they were 7. Jean and John have had an eventful life: they lived a half-mile from an RAF fighter base in WW2, and were subsequently bombed a few times. Once, John's parent's home was half demolished by an anti-aircraft round that had failed to explode. It came down, crashing through the roof, demolishing the dunny, and then ricocheting around the parlour, where John's Mum was sitting, knitting. Apparently, she didn't drop a stitch. Jean and John: even their names are the same, allowing for the genderising. Nice people.

LISTENING TO: The Raconteurs. Just how staggeringly geniussy is Jack White?
READING: Nothing new, but I do have the new John Birmingham on order. Explosions! Science Friction! Derring Do!
WORD OF THE DAY: Discombobulated. Thankyou, John Campbell.


“Well, Arthur. You’re in a right pickle here.”
“Miz Jayne. ‘zat you?” He was mumbling. The pain in his arms was intense. He flicked his eyes either side, and he could see Jayne Francis’ denim trousers at one side of the car, and Amy Copthorne’s floral dress on the other.
“Me and Amy,” Jayne murmured.
“Thank you.”
“Don’t say another word. Amy: those blocks of wood. Stuff a couple under the wheel hub here. I’ll put a couple… no, three, under this side.”
Arthur hears a scraping, and a second voice. “Hello, Arthur. Not to worry, we’ll have you out of here in two shakes of a dead lamb’s tail.”
“Thanks, Miss Amy,” he said, and relaxed. The wheel hub hit the timbers at Amy’s side too hard, and they flew away, and the car dropped. He made a grab at the axle again, and stopped it a fraction of an inch from his throat. The crack from his arm was like a small rifle-shot.
The pain that shot through him as the bone in his left arm broke made him yell. “Christ!” The sound ricocheted through the workshop, an angry sound that made Amy scream. Jayne swore, scrambled around the car, grabbed the hub of the wheel, one foot on either side of the weight, and hoisted up. She barked “Amy, grab the man’s legs and pull him out of there. Now!”
Amy did as she was told, marvelling at her unexpected strength, at Arthur’s dead-weight. Jayne swore again as the hub slipped through her fingers, and the car crashed down. The spring leaf tore a flap of skin away from Arthur’s brow, and blood gushed. A bone poked through the skin of his forearm, and it, too, bled freely.
“Christ, I’ve killed him,” mourned Jayne, a sob thick at the back of her throat.
“No. He’s all right. Look.”
Arthur’s sweat-stained chest was bare, his black singlet having been hiked up to his armpits. There, to the left of his sternum, a sparrow was leaping and battering under his skin.
Jayne Francis crossed herself vigourously, and caught Amy’s surprised eyes. “Sorry. I spent a couple of years in a boarding school in England, being beaten by bloody nuns. Some habits are hard to break.”
“We’d better get the doctor.”
“Not a chance. Didn’t you hear the commotion from the Lee’s place? The Doctor’ll be there for sure. ”
“They’re Chinamen. Arthur’s a white man!”
Jayne’s slap set Amy back on her heels. “If I ever hear you say anything like that in my presence again, Amy Copthorne, or even hear of you saying such a thing, then you’ll not be welcome in my home ever again. Imagine the like! Your father would be disgraced, to hear you say such a thing.”
And it was true. Jayne Francis knew Amy’s father, Albert Copthorne, well: he was a regular at the weekly poker games, and, since she arrived in Northridge, had made sure that Jayne never went short of firewood. Amy was curious about the friendship, but her Mother had never made any comment, and it did seem on the surface to be innocent. Amy was aware only that Jayne and her Father shared a deep knowledge of one another, and a great friendship.
“How dare you hit me! How dare you!”
“I dare because you are my friend, Amy. And my friends do not ever say such things. Nor do your Father’s friends. Now, which is it to be, girl?”
Amy snorted, and bent to rip her skirt hem into long, flowered strips. She was blisteringly angry, purely because she knew she was in the wrong. “Let’s get this head bandaged,” Amy said. “His arm’s broke, but I don’t know enough to splint it. We’ll need to wait until the doctor’s free,” she said.
She busied herself for a moment, wrapping the wound, which immediately turned the makeshift bandage scarlet. There was a minute’s silence, which Jayne broke. “I’m sorry, Amy. I should never have lifted my hand to you.”
“No,” said Amy. She looked up, and tears were glistening at the edge of her eyes. “I don’t even know where that came from. You were right. My Da’ would be shocked to hear me say such a thing.” At moments Amy’s North England background came out in her speech, despite having been born in this new country at the bottom of the Earth.
“So be it, then,” said Jayne. “So be it.” Jayne reached out, and touched the smear of Arthur’s blood on Amy’s hand. She looked deep into the younger woman’s eyes, and was only mildly surprised at what she saw there.

Monday, November 23, 2009

'tis Spring, and we argue

It's an annual event: the shirt argument. Every year I look at my summer shirts, and then at my waist, and I despair at the fact that shirts shrink over winter. Then I tell the Lovely Redhead that I need to buy a couple of new shirts... and it's on. I want colour and strong patterns. Actually, I want Really Fat And Loud Shirts. The lovely Jen listens to me, and suggests something in a placid plaid, or perhaps a subtle check, in pastels...or something fainter. Or she'll spot a shirt that's all white, with a tiny bit of colour under the collar. And the shirt-makers agree with her. Here in desultory Kiwiland, a man's shirt ain't a man's shirt unless it's predominantly black, charcoal, or turgid taupe. If there's a primary colour, it's been mixed with grey, so it doesn't attract attention. If it really has colour, strong, vibrant colour, it's priced at $400. If I could afford $400 shirts, I would also be buying a bottle of single malt every week, and it's been a long time simce I did that. Oh, that's right: I've never done that. Why the hell have the "fashion"people decided that I should wear black,charcoal, taupe, or greyed-down dull red? I WANT BIG FAT PRIMARY COLOURS, PEOPLE, AND I WANT THEM NOW!

I, don't, understand why, they get people, to, talk like... this. There's more than one TVC on at the moment where the VO guy, or the chap facing the camera talk with some really wierd phrasing. I first noticed it when Cameron Bennet was, doing his, 60 Minutes.... stories. Then Pete thingy started on the Civil Defence TVCs... and now, it.... seems, the infection, has really started to take.... root. It pisses me off.

I'm actually in a great mood for being annoyed today. It's been hot, I slept badly last night, I met some real Effwits on the road, and I'm wearing the most colourful shirt I could find to buy that Jenny would like... sigh. It's kind of... muted stripes.

Saw "Julie and Julia" over the weekend. Merryl Streep is a godette. The movie is more fun than it should be, and is perfectly written and acted. By everyone. And it does inspire one to find a reason for a blog... Julie cooked all Julia Child's recipes in a year. Perhaps I could bonk all Hugh Hefner's Playmates in a year? Jenny might have something to say about that....

LISTENING TO: "Paint It Black", Various Artists. Whole buncha people doing Rolling Stones songs, REALLY LOUD. Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Bowie, The Mighty Lemon Drops (?), Rod Stewart, Flying Pickets... it's fun.

READING: Jeffrey Deaver. Broken Window. he writes a compulsive read. Damn, he's good.

WORD OF THE DAY: COLOUR. Gimme Some! Don't Want To Paint it Black No More!

MORE... Rats....

Arthur filled his lungs, and yelled “Grampa!”
Grampa Smith was the first casualty of the 1915 earthquake that hit Northridge. His eyesight dim now, he’d become a little confused as the earthquake started rattling and rolling, and walked – ran, really – into the edge of the door, the jamb catching him on the forehead and cutting it to the bone. He lay unconscious for four hours, and when he recovered his eyesight had been restored to its youthful vigour.
“Bugger me,” said Arthur, when the old man read a verse from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. But at the time of the earthquake, Arthur was pretty sure he was buggered.
“Grampa,” he bellowed, as the first cold trickling of fear hit his backbone. He grunted, and pushed upward. The car shifted an eighth of an inch, enough for him to scoot forward by a smidgen, giving his arms the truly vertical stand they needed. His left arm trembled slightly, and a drop of oil landed next to his left eye.
“Christ in His cups,” he muttered. “Help! Please, someone: help me! In the smithy! I’m stuck!”
The front end of a Model T Ford weighed in at a hair over a half-ton. The axle was over Arthur’s throat, and the engine was over the axle. If his arms gave way, the car would fall and crush his larynx. He would die, choking and spitting like and alley-cat.
No-one came. The village wasn’t badly damaged. A couple of chimneys had fallen, and Mrs Strange’s outdoor dunny had collapsed. Mrs Lee, the Chinaman’s wife, had been burned when the copper kettle in their laundry toppled, sending a gush of scalding water down her legs. Her screams of anguish had attracted the first people who’d recovered from the great shake.
“Help! For God’s sake, help!”
Arthur’s elbows were grinding into the packed clay of the workshop floor, and his wrists were burning. He sucked in some air, and shouted again. No-one came. Beads of sweat popped from Arthur’s brow, and trickled down. One crawled its way down his eyebrows, then into his ear. He shook his head, growled, and shouted.
Another drop of oil leaked from the engine, and splattered next to his eye, which burned. The muscles on his forearms were starting to quiver with the strain. Each tremble made his heart beat a little faster, and each beat made his arms tremble. He shouted.
His sight was greying, and he knew he was on the edge of blacking out. The blood roared in his ears, and his breath hissed. He stopped, and tried to relax. Come on, lad. You’ve done harder turns. Just last weekend you humped that deer carcase out of the hills. Five miles you walked, with a hundredweight of meat on your shoulders. For god’s sake, this is nothing.
Like hell it’s nothing. His voice was weakening now, a croak. He groaned. This was going to be such a stupid death.
“Help. Please. Someone, just come. Please.”
He couldn’t hold out much longer. The sweat was pouring from him, and the big muscles on his forearms were shrieking an alarum that he would hear in his grave.
“Well, Arthur. You’re in a right pickle here.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Genius, and the Floydness of Pink

GENIUS: They say - well, it was said by someone, and oft-repeated by others - that genius is a hair's-breadth away from madness. It occurs to me that genius may, in fact, be a form of madness - perhaps a symptom, perhaps the full monty. The true genius, the freakishly intellectually gifted, is set so far apart from the rest of us mortals as to be marching not just to the beat of a different drum, but dancing to the music of an entirley different symphonia. Da Vinci had a maniacal way of considering the impossible before breakfast, and Einstein understood the cosmos. Hawking conceived of a universe that in expanding at ever-increasing speeds, and of fuzzy black holes. (The fuzziness of black holes is important. Without it, you wouldn't have drawn your first breath. True.) But in order to conceive of the inconceivable, your intellectual and emotional kitbag must be so very different from those the rest of us carry around.

Ergo, and quod erat demonstradum - you're bonkers. Barking. Doolally.

I've had the pleasure of listening to a couple of solo albums over the past couple of days. One is Roger Waters' "Amused to Death", the other is David Gilmour's "On An Island". You'll have spottede the connection - both Pink Floyd boys. Apparently they had a falling out, and have kind of reconciled, as long as they live in different counties. But they should know they're butthole buddies. Both albums are Pink. One is Pink Floud, the other is Pink Flood - or perhaps Floyd Light. Flood Light? Sorry.

Listening to Waters' album, I kept on expecting someone to ask the immortal question "How can you expect any pudding if you don't eat your meat?". Listening to Gilmour's album, I kept on checking the horizon for a floating giant pig.

Myself. It irritates me that people are using this word instead of that good old two-letter word "me", and the ever solid one-letter word "I".

"The team was made up of Tommo, Freddo, Billo, and myself." "Roger and myself like the new Roger Waters album."

It's always used in conjunction with a proper noun: no-one, as yet, is saying "Myself likes the new Roger Waters album," but it's a matter of time. Thus endeth the dribble about my most hated modern speech-ism. I promise I shan't mention apostrophes today.

LISTENING TO: Well, you already know. Gilmour, right now. Actually, I like it, even if it is Floyd Light.

READING: "The Death and Life of Superman". They call it a graphic novel, but really it's just the collected comic books. As I've never really been fond of the big blue boy scout, an involuntary cheer left my lips as he carked it. Now, I have another 300 pages of comic book to read before he inevitably, Mithras, Christ, and that Egyptian chap with the alligator's head-like, comes back to life. If it happens on the third day I'm-a gonna scream.

WORD OF THE DAY: Grief. I was chatting with a 94-year old woman today. She's in agony: her parents ands grandparents all got telegrams from some royal knob to celebrate their 100th birthdays. She's anticipating another 6 years of pain, and boy is she tired of it. She daily grieves for her youth.

More Rats.

On the day the first ANZAC troops, volunteers all, landed at Gallipoli, Arthur was having a few problems of his own.
Grampa Smith had acquired a Model T Ford, just six months ago. Not a new one, you understand. The old man’s wallet wasn’t that thick. And not to go gallivanting around in, either, young Arthur! For one thing, the old man’s eyesight was pretty shot by this time. He couldn’t see much more than a yard or two in front of his face, and his days of reading were gone to him completely.
No, the old man had bought the vehicle because he understood it was the future. That within Arthur’s lifetime, the demand for a skilled farrier and ostler would diminish beside the need for a good motor-car mechanic.
So, he bought the Model T, and took it apart. Then, he put it back together again. Then he had Arthur take it apart, and rebuild it. Now, for the third time, Arthur was putting the damn’ thing back together.
And, because of the eathquake, he was in trouble.
He’d jacked the right hand front corner up, and removed the wheel, and then lowered the axle onto a triangular stand. Then, he’d done the same to the left hand front corner.
The car’s axle was an easy two feet off the ground, and Arthur gave it a nudge to make sure it was stable. Then, he backed himself under the car, to look at the wiring.
“I don’t know why they left this wire here, Grampa,” he grumbled to himself. Grampa had gone back to the house to boil the kettle, and make a brew. His timing was beyond awful.
Arthur muttered some more, his throat dry. A good cup of gumboot tea’d hit the spot right fine. “It’s open to all sorts of damage from rocks being tossed up by the wheels. I reckon I’ll make a plate and bolt it on to protect – what in the name of God’s that?”
That, in the name of God, was an earthquake. Arthur heard it at first. A deep, mournful grumbling, God’s bellyache, a howl from the depths of the earth.
The earth shook. Then the shed shook. Tools dropped, clattering and harrumphing, from the wall. And the car rocked on its supports.
“Damn,” said Arthur. “I knew I should have made them like a bloody pyramid.”
The left stand buckled first, folding like wet cardboard. Arthur was on his back, his hips and legs sticking out from the front of the vehicle. His right arm shot up, elbow slammed into the oil-soaked soil, and his hand caught the axle as it dropped. The ground shook again, like an old cat coughing up a fur-ball. The stand on the other side of the car crumpled, and Arthur’s left arm took the position.
The weight of the car was now bearing directly downwards on his wrists and forearms.
Arthur filled his lungs, and yelled “Grampa!”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Da Vinci's Brain

I went to the exhibition of da Vinci's machines on Saturday. Someone had come up with the bright idea of building the machines from da Vinci's notebooks (no,I'm not talking about Albert da Vinci, bricklayer, of Mangaweka. I'm talking about his Italian cousin, Len.) and displaying them.
It seems fairly certain that, like Einstein (Al Einstein, that is. Not Zac Einstein, terracotta tilemaker of Dunedin.), da Vinci had roughly the same amount of brain as the rest of us mortals.
Around 1200 grams, that is, for a man. Women have slightly less, but they use more of it.
In fact, such are the similarities between us all.. on a biological, cellular, and molecular level) that we can pretty well say that we are one and the same creatures, all of us. We are legion.
The differences between an Esquimeaux (that's what they call themselves, innit? I intuit that is is so..) and a South African Bushman are insignificant.
A DNA particle here, a DNA widget there. And there's something in those indescribably small parts that makes the difference between a da Vinci and a Chuckles Manson, an Einstein and an Eichmann.

Providing we accept that the brain is the centre of the mind (there are cogent arguments for there being different seats of reason. Man's second head, for instance.) then we have to acknowledge that minor differences make for major changes. After all, there is no black and white about the brain: it is a grey area. Sorry. I've been saving that one. Perhaps I should have kept it to myself.

But is it genealogical? Is it nature? What about nurture? Neither dV nor E were, it seems, granted spectacularly brilliant or supportive parents. They just were what they were.

Some would point to this as being a proof of a god... but if that were so, one would expect E and dV to have been aware of it: and Einstein was definitely an atheist, and it's been nicely argued that da Vinci was, as well. As well as Shakespeare, that is.

Anyway. I've read that all it takes to be a successful god-botherer is to have the ability (or gullibility?) to believe in three impossible before breakfast. Da Vinci, it seems, was capable of having three world-changing ideas before the morning candle was lit. Einstein and Shakespeare, of course, knew the mind of god, and both found it wanting - invented, as it had been, by power-hungry politicians of little human ability.

The da Vinci exhibit was startling. I went with my friends Reg and Rolls. They both came out looking as I felt: stunned. Like a trio of mullets.

The following day I went, with my love, to a memorial exhibition bought and paid for by the Belgian government: Passchendaele. The Belgians, bless 'em, remember that New Zealand lost the cream of her manhood there in the First World War. From a country of less that a million souls over 100,000 men went overseas to fight. That was 50% of our breeding stock. We lost 18,000: and there is no way we can blame sloppy Pommy generalship. The nation loved it. But we're still paying the piper, even now, nearly 100 years later. Nearly 5% of the Nation's population was either killed or wounded (more than any other nation's, bar none.). An Army battalion was taken from the line after suffering that sort of casualty rate.

The ANZACs, the Diggers, were involved in ten major battles during World War One in Turkey and the Western Front, and they died in droves. Our men, men who should have been our ancestors, stood and faced the enemy, side by side, pakeha and Maori, Aussie and Kiwi: and we died equally. I came from the memorial wanting to weep.

Belgium remembers. Thankyou, Belgium.

LISTENING TO: Instrumental Memories, various artists. A collection of instrumental numbers from the 50s and 60s. They are quite brilliant: the Mac's "Albatross" is playing right not now.

READING: Ted Dekker's "Saint". This is one of his really, really, really good ones.

WORD OF THE DAY: Centenarian. Some bastard saw fit to tie a 103-year old to her bed, with a knotted sheet. Shit. Disgust barely comes into it. A person like that deserves to be kicked for a couple of parasangs.

More RATS.

It was while pondering this enormous question that he realised his eye had slipped, and he had to start counting again.
Arthur Tomlinson was made to be an outdoors boy. There were no dangers in the great New Zealand outdoors, save perhaps the odd Captain Cooker pig in the hills, descended from some wily old porkers that had either managed to escape the edge of the butchers knife when Cook had landed a couple of hundred years ago, or had been set free by settlers just forty years ago.
So intent had the lad been on counting his lucky stars that the fire escaped his attention. The old dunny was a good fifty yards down a track, leaving the house sheltered from view by some flax and a few huge Totara and Rimu trees. When the old man found him, fast asleep, leaning against the back wall of the toilet, he’d wept.
Grampa Smith wasn’t a man who wept easily. He, too, was an uncomplicated kind of cove. What you saw was what you got.
As it was with Arthur. What you saw was a man of medium height, no more than five-nine. Well built, with wide shoulders and thick, ropey muscles on his arms and legs. He had a fine layer of fat under his skin: raised, as he was, on butter, the best pork dripping, mutton roasts, milk by the gallon, cheese by the pound, and vegetables by the barrow-full, he always had a bit stored away for those long weekends he spent in the bush.
Arthur was reasonably well educated for a man of his time. The old man had had the boy reading well before he started school at age six, and he was strict about the lad doing his homework.
“You get one chance at most things, Arthur,” he'd say. “You’ll take the education that’s on offer, and you’ll be thankful for it.”
“Righto, Grampa Smith.”
If ever there was a person for whom the adjective “practical” was invented, it was Arthur Tomlinson. He saw a task, and he sat and figured out a way of getting the job done. He was fearful of few things: letting Grampa Smith down was chief among them.
The war was omnipresent. It was what everyone thought of when they rose from their beds, and what they prayed about when they retired from the day's labours. Patriotism was rife, and women were looking hard at every able-bodied man in town, especially those who could handle a rifle. A number of men were already serving, and rumours of a new front somewhere in Turkey were being confirmed. Every evening, as the hu-hu moths fought to spend a few bright minutes in the light of Grampa's kerosene lantern, he and Arthur talked about the war, and what sort of role Arthur should or could play.
Arthur Tomlinson was no stranger to killing. He often went into the hills behind Northridge and usually returned with a gutted pig or deer carcase. He took no dog with him. He despised dogs for their slavish attitude, and he despised hunters who needed a dog to help bring down the quarry. Either the shot was there, or it wasn’t. A hunter who set a dog against a deer ruined the meat. A man who set a dog against a pig was looking to own a dead dog – and ruined meat. An animal that’s been killed while in a panic or rage will have muscles that have been marinated in adrenalin, and the meat is tainted, tough, and tastes of fear and rage. Shoot the beast when it’s unaware it’s in peril, and the meat will be fine.
So Arthur continually practiced his skills with a rifle. He shot prone, he shot standing, he shot at the kneel, and he shot sitting on his rump. Almost every shot he made would arrive on target. He slipped up every now and then, and when he did he’d note the shot in his note-book, recording everything: the wind, the humidity, what load he’d put into the cartridge when he’d put the bullet together.
Arthur Tomlinson was as complex as a knife. Handle and blade. Utilitarian. Solid. Honest. Neither good nor bad-looking: his plain face would disappear in a crowd of three. It was a broad face, with widely-spaced eyes – the gift that gave him such excellent eyesight. The more widely the lenses are separated, the better the parallax will be. His focal length was phenomenal, and everything he saw was in perfect 3-D. His hair matched his brown eyes, and his skin took a tan readily, which meant he was often mistaken, by strangers, to be a Maori.
On the day the first ANZAC troops, volunteers all, landed at Gallipoli, Arthur was having a few problems of his own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Toilet Paper, and profits

Firstly, I advert to you (to quote my personal hero, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington) a new blogger. Read his thoughts on the New Zealand radio game here:

Toilet Paper. I have a theory that our toilet paper reflects our society. When I was a lad, lo these many years ago, there were two brands of dunny paper available. One was a rolled product, the other was a leafed tissue. The rolled product, in comparison with its main competition, was soft. But that's only because the leafed and boxed tissue was, in fact, wafer thin steel. Think of wiping your tender bits with Alfoil, and you'll get the idea. Actually, no: Alfoil would be more absorbent. The actual inter-leaved bog-fodder was, I think, waxed, so as to be waterproof. The rolled paper was a blotting paper, but terribly fragile. You had to layer it seven times before you could be sure your strong leading finger didn't burst through as you laboured after that last little crusty bit. This was bum-paper fit for those who survived Nordmeyer's Black Budget, and who looked forward to the liberating adventures of the 1960s. Dig it, baby. Groovy. The only crack then was the one you sat on.

As time went by we lost that folded stuff, and went like totally rolled, man. The cosmic bliss of 1970s bum fodder swept us to new outa sight galaxies of wonderment and joy. The 1980s, with all its excesses and stirrings of environmental conscience, saw two main styles of bum paper: extra wide and fluffy for the Moet and Asti set, and recycled cardboard for the hand-knitted brown onion-skin-died sweater wearing types who drank Hawaii Blue Wine Coolers. The 1990s brought us choice. Many, many rolls, some perfumed, all soft, most suitable for the trendy bleeding hearted liberal botty.

The 2-noughties have given us the double-roll, for the price conscious. And now, After The Crash, we see something new: the budget roll that looks almost exactly the same as its luxurious predecessor. It's the same paper. It's the same length. It's the same price. But it's narrower. Our modern arsewiper has been on a diet. It's standard, practical, marketing. You don't put the price up, you shrink the product. Only problem is when one wipes a fat ass like mine, one needs to use all one's origami skills to maintain coverage. I can't use the standard three sheet wipe. I have to go to five, and cunningly fold it to make sure I nail all the little nuggets. For this I blame both Helen and Johnkey. They're both thin, with tight little puckered ass-holes that are also teflon-coated. They don't need the luxury of full-width shit-paper. I wonder how Rodney gets along? He surely has to wipe his mouth after taking a dump...

LISTENING TO: Tracey Chapman, "Telling Stories". I like. And Wayne Mason "Sense Got Out". Brilliant.

READING: Nothing new...

WORD OF THE DAY: Parasang. It's a unit of measurement, equal to 30 stade. There are around 8 stade to a mile, or 5.5 to a kilometre. You do the arithmetic. But I'd really like to have someone ask me the "How far to.." question so I could say "Oh, seven parasang, 3 stade. Or so." The stade measurement gave us the word was the length of the running track at the ancient Olympics. Just so's you know.

More Rats. Please... tell me what you think.

And so, every year, on November 5th, Jayne Francis pelted the sky with just six flaming cricket balls, and the taniwha’s slumber remained undisturbed.
The nation, however, wasn’t at rest. The war with Germany and Austria exercised everyone’s minds. The German Army, rushing pell-mell toward Paris, had apparently mis-read a coded message and been turned South-West, exposing their flank to a French counter-attack. The Parisian battalions had rushed the 40 kilometres to Marne by any means possible – including over 600 Parisian taxi-cabs laden with troops – and had commenced the business of rolling the Germans away from Paris. After a short pause to draw breath, the Germans regrouped, and started the so-called race to the sea. They collided with the British Expeditionary Force, and the first trenches were dug deep. In the ensuing battle at Ypres, 75,000 British and 135,000 Germans were to be killed or wounded in what was to be hailed as the second great victory for the Allies in the war. This battle was still being fought as Jayne Francis sent her cricket balls into the sky at Northridge, and two men discussed whether her Callithumpian celebrations were appropriate.

Chapter Two.
April 15, 1915.
Arthur Tomlinson was not a complicated man. Orphaned at just five years of age, he’d been raised by his Godfather, Gerald Smith. Smith had been Arthur’s father’s closest friend and hunting companion, and had known the lad since he wet his first nappy. He had, it must be said, been unutterably lucky to escape the house-fire that killed his parents. He had been outside at the time, parked with his bum on the sweet grass, back leaning against the back of the outdoor dunny. His face had been shining up into the sky, and he’d been trying to count the stars.
He recalls vividly that he gave up counting at 99, as he wasn’t too sure what came after that. Nine made ninety, so perhaps ten made tenty, followed by tenty-one, tenty-two? It was while pondering this enormous question that he realised his eye had slipped, and he had to start counting again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

And about time, too!

It's been a long and hard week. It's also been a very good week. Firstly, my brother and sister-in-law came and stayed for a couple of days. Explanation: Jeff's based in Seoul (yes, he's my Seoul Brother) and this was the week he turned 60 - so he came over to gather friends and famille about, and get trousered. So, they landed in Auckland, stayed with us, then motored on.

I've dribbled on about nobility in the past, and will no doubt do so again. Let it be said right now that the Jeff has strong elements of nobility about him. His heart is in the best place possible, and it's pumping well, thank you.

Cousin Mike and his lovely Jude came and stayed for a few days as well. He's Sydney / Canberra based. Despite this, he is one of the finest people I know. His lovely Judith is right there alongside him. They're fabulous people, and I count myself privileged to call them family. I count myself 'specially privileged to call them friends.

We travelled down to Napier for the celebrations. I remain smug, as I will always be younger than my brother. This means, however, that he will get his hands in a Gold Card before I do. Not a bad trade-off, though.

The party was excellent. Jeff's daughters were all there. Leah is a stunningly beautiful creature, and is also disarmingly lovely in nature. Renee is equally as gorgeous, but in a more.. earthy? way. Tamar hasn't been seen in a while, which is a shame: she has a gentleness to her that is enviable. She's had a few mental health problems, but it does seem that she's coming through - and we all rejoice at that. Her son, Israel, is a great young man: almost too much personality for one person: fiercely intelligent, and very protective of his Mum. Speaking of Mums - mine was there, fit and strong. Dad's been gone for 9 months now, and she's not feeling the strain as much. She dreamed of him last night, for the first time since he died. I don't know if that's relevant or significant, but it feels as though it should be. My sisters are wonderful, as they always are, and my brothers-in-law are superb specimens of, well, English manhood. Yes, they're both refugees from the Mother Country.

We've enjoyed a couple of political Teacup Storms lately. Skeletor, or Rodney Hide as he's known on Earth, apologised after being caught snouting at the trough a bit too deeply. He is a despicable indiviudual, and I am sure he wouldn't have bothered apologising if he hadn't seen some political gain in it. He has the sincerity of a frozen pea. Have I mentioned that I find him loathsome?

Hone Harawera, on the other hand, is simply a dick. I actually like the man, and really wish his fighting arm a lot of strength. His cause is just, his heart is purish, and he has an unerring instinct for playing into the hands of his enemies. He's apologied for the foul language, and he's one who didn't use the weaselly "if" word, as in "If I've caused offence, I apologise." He did use the "I apologise for causing offence" line, which is startlingly original. However, he hasn't apologised for ripping off the tax-payer. The trip to paris remains there. He did blow it away with his choice phraseology. After a motherfucker or two, who cares about Paris?

LISTENING TO: David Gilmour, "On An Island".

READING: Christian Cameron again: the follow-up to his last book. this one's called "Storm of Arrows', and promises mucho bloodshed.

WORD OF THE DAY: Cruelty. Those bastards at that Lion Park in Whangerei need their bollocks cut off. I cannot believe that anyone would / could / can / whatever de-claw a tiger or a lion. Barbarism.

RATS Continues

“Sounds fair. An English thing?”
“American, I believe.”
Actually, the old man was pretty well on the right path. Jayne Francis was an atheist in an age when it wasn’t at all fashionable, so she had simply announced to Father O’Leary, when he came calling, that she was a Callithumpian. Many years before, she'd read - in the Weekly News - an hysterical account of the activities of a Callithumpian township in South Dakota, and thought she liked the sound of it. And yes – regular festivals of beer-drinking and the letting off of cannons and sundry artillery pieces was de-rigueur for a Callithumpian in good standing. Hence, the mortar.
Arthur Tomlinson had been a regular guest at Jayne Francis’ Sunday teas for a number of years. She had seen something in the reserved and ill-at-ease young man that she liked when she first met him, and she went out of her way to include him in the activities of the town. Through Arthur, Jayne met young Timothy Copthorne, a tearaway lad who’d since taken to hanging about the smithy’s workshop after school. Arthur had taken the lad under his wing, just as he’d been cared for by Grampa Smith. He taught the lad the things he knew: how to shoot, how to bend and shape metal, how to walk in the bush and leave no trace of yourself behind you. He taught the lad the value of stillness, of going within and making yourself invisible.
“Remember, Tim. Movement makes you visible. An animal’s eye captures movement, and focuses on it. Same as a man’s eye: you can be in a room full of people, even with your ginger hair, and not be noticed. All it takes is to be still, and to think yourself into being unnoticeable.”
The boy thought this was bullshit, and said so. Arthur had told Tim to shut his eyes for a count of ten, and then to look for him. They had been in Ffyfe’s Gulley at the time – land that Arthur knew well – and the lad had taken the challenge.
He lost.
Within minutes he had started to panic at being out in the bush alone, and was coming close to tears. Arthur reached out, and touched the boy on the shoulder. “I moved no more than ten yards from you, Tim. If you can learn how to do this, you’ll be in charge of your environment. No man will be able to reach you.’
The boy had been stunned into silence. A few years later, he was to scream into Arthur’s collar “You said that no man could reach me Arthur! Oh, God, Arthur, help me. Help me!”
That same boy was now excitedly helping Jayne Francis load the mortar for the final shot of the evening. Swab the barrel, to extinguish any smouldering debris, keeping out of the way of the touch-hole: unburnt powder can flare and jet back through there sigth enough power to fry an eye in its socket. Push down the small package of gunpowder, wrapped in brown waxed-paper. A coil of twine goes down the barrel, then the cricket ball, then another ring of rope. Ram it all down, hard. Jam the fuse into the touch-hole, and light it. Run back for safety. Just because this gun hadn’t exploded yet didn’t mean it wasn’t going to.
Twelve seconds. Flat bang, fizz, sparkle, flame looping up, high into the heavens, then falling with an angry hiss into the river.
“Reckon the taniwha’s getting annoyed yet?”
“The old feller down at the pa says it takes more’n seven shots to get the taniwha riled up, and Miss Jayne has never shot more’n six.”
Rev. Jackson down at the Anglican church, Father O’Leary at St. Francis’, and Fred Willoughby and his missus at the Methodist chapel didn’t think much of the taniwha, but pretty well everyone else in town was half convinced it was there, at the knuckle of the river where it turned westward. The local Maori kept well clear of the area, and declared it tapu. And since the Brown boys had drowned there – with young Aaron Brown’s body never being recovered – every child in Northridge enjoyed a secret and delicious frisson of fear when going anywhere near the troubled waters at the turn.
Actually, the water roiled and tumbled at the bend in the river because of an outcropping of rock that disturbed the flow of the water, making the area dangerous for swimmers and canoeists alike. It was also not unreasonable for anyone to think that there might be a water spirit there: anything, really, that kept kids and fools away and out of danger was worth promulgating.
And so, every year, on November 5th, Jayne Francis pelted the sky with just six flaming cricket balls, and the taniwha’s slumber remained undisturbed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yeah, no...

We all do it. I do it. I've heard teenagers do it, I've heard my ancient and withered Mother do it. I've heard gays do it, straights do it, I've heard grooms and broom...pushers do it. I've heard our Prime Minister do it - a lot. I've heard Rodney "Skeletor*" Hide do it, I've heard that Miss Universe woman do it. But I haven't heard bumblebees do it. I'm not talking about breathing - oral, nasal, or anal. I'd say about the only Kiwis who don't do it are those who weren't born here, although I have heard a Chinese woman, with a strong accent, do it. Well... say it. Get a Kiwi into a situation of having to ask a direct question, and the first two words to come out of his mouth will immediately mark him as a New Zullunder. he'll say "Yeah, no..."

V1: Excuse me, Harry, but do you smoke?

V2: Yeah, no, well I used to, but gave it up, oh, June 1956.

V1: Hi, Sonha** - tell me: when did you stop beating your husband?

V2: Yeah, no, really! You do say the most awful things.

There aren't many verbal tics that we can count as our own, but that's definitely one. Right? Yeah, no, I'm not kidding....

* He does, doesn't he? Rodney Hide looks like Skeletor. Especially when he smiles.

**Sonha: a new and inventive way of spelling Shona. Or Andrew.

60 Years Old. In two days time I'll have a brother who is 60 years old. I have the brother already, but he hasn't quite crossed that threshold. It's a decidedly odd feeling. It was cool when my sister turned 60, a couple or three years ago, because her turning 60 meant that I was still in my mid-50s. But Jeff turning 60 means I am now in my late 50s.

Jo: I have thunk upon my quandary of the other day, and I know that Jo has probably wanted to visit violence upon my greying and increasingly enfeebled head. I have concluded that Jo is a concept. Mercurial, shifting, shiney, quick, vibrantly intelligent, and questing. She ain't finished, and hopefully she won't get to be a finished person for a good many years yet. Fleetingly, she appears to be a work of art - but W's of A tend to be fixed, finished, and static. Even Pollock, whose work is vibrant and mobile.... but it's a fixed thing. Mondrian? Fixed, with angles... and a limited palette. See what I mean? Meet Jo, and you will. She, however, will hopefully never know... or consider it important enough to spend any more than a Jo-second* on it.

*A Jo-second is a double Milly-second. A Milly-second is the period of time it took Paul Holmes' daughter to excavate her brain with crystal meth. A Jo-second is the amount of time it takes for Jo to make a wry observation. Guess which is more fun to watch?

LISTENING TO: Johnny Winter, "Johnny Winter". God, I do love the blues.
READING:Hmm. Don't know. I'm not really fixed on anything right now. To busy dithering about age.
WORD OF THE DAY: Shocking. As are, and will be, most of the puns about the latest Melbourne Cup winner's name.

NO RATS TODAY: I'm doing this on a different computer, and don't have access to the file.