a little east of reality

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

music meme

I borrowed this from Anne. It's a cool meme and a good reason to get all nostalgic, too, I discovered. Like Brian I decided that it was okay to have more than one favourite. You'll notice that there are very few songs I hated. My tastes are eclectic even now, but at the time I liked pretty much every kind of music. I also just genuinely liked that 80s era of rock/pop/punk/ska.

Anyway, for those so inclined, this is how it's done:
A.) Go to musicoutfitters.com
B.) Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year
C.) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

1. Every Breath You Take, Police
2. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
3. Flashdance... What A Feelin, Irene Cara
4. Down Under, Men At Work
5. Beat It, Michael Jackson
6. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bonnie Tyler
7. Maneater, Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. Baby Come To Me, Patti Austin and James Ingram
9. Maniac, Michael Sembello
10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Eurythmics
11. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club
12. You And I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
13. Come On Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners
14. Shame On The Moon, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
15. She Works Hard For The Money, Donna Summer
16. Never Gonna Let You Go, Sergio Mendes
17. Hungry Like The Wolf, Duran Duran
18. Let's Dance, David Bowie
19. Twilight Zone, Golden Earring
20. I Know There's Something Going On, Frida
21. Jeopardy, Greg Kihn Band
22. Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant
23. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby
24. Africa, Toto
25. Little Red Corvette, Prince
26. Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders
27. Up Where We Belong, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
28. Mr. Roboto, Styx
29. You Are, Lionel Richie
30. Der Kommissar, After The Fire
31. Puttin' On The Ritz, Taco
32. Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye
33. (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League
34. Time (Clock Of The Heart), Culture Club
35. The Safety Dance, Men Without Hats
36. Mickey, Toni Basil
37. You Can't Hurry Love, Phil Collins
38. Separate Ways, Journey
39. One On One, Daryl Hall and John Oates
40. We've Got Tonight, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
41. 1999, Prince
42. Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
43. Allentown, Billy Joel
44. Stand Back, Stevie Nicks
45. Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
46. Always Something There To Remind Me, Naked Eyes
47. Truly, Lionel Richie
48. Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
49. The Girl Is Mine, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
50. Too Shy, Kajagoogoo
51. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
52. Rock The Casbah, Clash
53. Our House, Madness
54. Overkill, Men At Work
55. Is There Something I Should Know, Duran Duran
56. Gloria, Laura Branigan
57. Affair Of The Heart, Rick Springfield
58. She's A Beauty, Tubes
59. Solitaire, Laura Branigan
60. Don't Let It End, Styx
61. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Laura Branigan
62. China Girl, David Bowie
63. Come Dancing, Kinks
64. Promises, Promises, Naked Eyes
65. The Other Guy, Little River Band
66. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, Air Supply
67. Family Man, Daryl Hall and John Oates
68. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Michael Jackson
69. I Won't Hold You Back, Toto
70. All Right, Christopher Cross
71. Straight From The Heart, Bryan Adams
72. Heart To Heart, Kenny Loggins
73. My Love, Lionel Richie
74. I'm Still Standing, Elton John
75. Hot Girls In Love, Loverboy
76. It's A Mistake, Men At Work
77. I'll Tumble 4 Ya, Culture Club
78. All This Love, Debarge
79. Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Sammy Hagar
80. Heartbreaker, Dionne Warwick
81. Faithfully, Journey
82. Steppin' Out, Joe Jackson
83. Take Me To Heart, Quarterflash
84. (She's) Sexy + 17, Stray Cats
85. Try Again, Champaign
86. Dead Giveaway, Shalamar
87. Lawyers In Love, Jackson Browne
88. What About Me, Moving Pictures
89. Human Nature, Michael Jackson
90. Photograph, Def Leppard
91. Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth
92. True, Spandau Ballet
93. Far From Over, Frank Stallone
94. I've Got A Rock 'N' Roll Heart, Eric Clapton
95. It Might Be You, Stephen Bishop
96. Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
97. You Got Lucky, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
98. Don't Cry, Asia
99. Breaking Us In Two, Joe Jackson
100. Fall In Love With Me, Earth, Wind and Fire

Monday, August 29, 2005

trust me, I'm an adult

This post from jojo had me pondering on freedom.

Basically the Chinese government has imposed a restriction on the playing of certain online games such that a player will experience serious loss of strength within a game if they play that game for more than 3 hours at one time. After 3 hours they need to take a 5-hour break before they can play again.

Jojo says:

It’s not a massive human rights violation or anything, but it’s certainly something that hits close to home for me and re-enforces my view that the Chinese have a long way to go before their citizens are free. How many of us have played games for more than 3 hours in a stretch on our day off? Read a book a whole evening because it was entralling? Watched an entire day of television when some network is showing a marathon of a show we like?
What struck me the most is the paternalistic nature of the restrictions and how this relates to freedoms respected by government in general. For personal freedom to exist (in terms of the law) three things have to be in place. The government (and by extension the people) have to:

1) trust individuals to act in their own best interest;
2) acknowledge that one person cannot decide for another what their best interests are; and
3) know when 1 & 2 should not apply.

But this maybe isn't enough. What if a person fully understands that they're doing something that isn't in their best interests, but chooses to do it anyway. Is that a case where '3' applies?

Mill would have said "no". He would have said that the only time they don't apply is when that person's actions will, if allowed, cause harm to others (harm NOT including moral outrage). The 'Harm Principle' in full states:

...the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which
concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
It's actually beautifully worded, but for those who don't want to wade through it bit by bit, he's basically saying, 'if they're only hurting themselves, it's their choice, don't force them to stop'. (If anyone is interested to read more of his essay On Liberty, it can be found here.) That doesn't mean we shouldn't give our opinion or plead with them or try to make them 'see sense' if we don't want them to hurt themselves, but we shouldn't coerce them into doing what we, or anyone else, thinks is right. 'Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.'

What he would have said though, about when we shouldn't trust a person's choice, is that for a personal choice to be valid a person needs to be:
a) free (not coerced)
b) voluntary (competent to choose) and
c) informed (having sufficient information to choose).

So the only paternalistic laws that Mill might have agreed to are ones that protect the 3 conditions (a, b &c) above. They would be laws that prevent or restrict coercion (eg incest, minimum wage laws, blackmail), involuntariness (eg laws restricting addictive drugs, confinement of the mentally ill) and ignorance (professional licensing, prescription drug laws) (This last section borrows from this site, which summed it up nicely.)

That was extremely philosophical for a Saturday. Still with me?

Back to the Chinese. If someone wants to spend four hours straight playing a video game, what is it that makes the Chinese government deny them the freedom to do so? Is it concern for their health? Worry over their loss in productivity? The idea that games can be addictive? Or does it just sound like too much fun to be legal?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

gosh darn it!

I've decided I swear too much.

Don't get me wrong. There are definitely times when my frustration level is so high that the only word that really expresses it is a sharp, heartfelt "FUUUUCK!!" This doesn't bother me so much. Three years in a non-English speaking country will do that to you. Whatever cringe factor the f-word (or any of the other words) once had for me was lost in between the fact that most of the crew I hung with swore without meaning to be truly offensive and the fact that almost nobody around us really understood that the words were offensive.

So why am I suddenly getting self-conscious? Two reasons.

One is that it sounds rough. I'm back in Australia now, where these words not only have meaning, but also the power to make people wince. This is especially true amongst the church crowd (most of whom are pretty sensitive to swearing simply because they don't do much of it) but also somewhat true at work. My take on swearing has always been that while I don't care if people swear around me, I do want to be the kind of person who considers the effect of their words on other people. I don't want to always be going for the lowest common denominator like my mother didn't teach me any better. I honestly don't give a toss if I occasionally let a few choice terms fly, but I don't want to swear so often that it's all people remember after they talk to me.

The other reason is that it's starting to become way too easy a pressure gauge release for me. I don't think I should rely on something people find offensive just to calm down or cope. It's also a problem when people think you're really angry, when you're just a little frustrated or annoyed, because of the way you've expressed it. This happened the other night at the video store. I'd brought back DVDs late, as usual, and was trying to decide if to re-borrow a couple I hadn't gotten around to watching. I was pissed off at myself for not realising they were late and suddenly just pushed the DVDs into the return slot and said, "fuck it...I'll get them some other time." The moment I swore, the girl's eyes widened and I realised she thought I was angry at her because of the late fee, etc. And of course I wasn't. But it isn't the first time I've gotten that reaction swearing to (not at) someone in the service industry. And how lame is it to walk around like a little time bomb waiting to go off? Yeah, pretty lame.

Of course the next question is how to stop swearing...

A friend suggested the ole 'swearing jar' idea (where you pay a certain amount each time you swear...good for cursing kids with limited pocket money), but as I'm paying it to myself it's a bit hard to decide what to spend the swearing jar money on without feeling like I'm rewarding myself. ^_^

Any ideas? Anyone else ever tried to curb their unruly tongue? (Ooh, that sounds almost sexual...)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

the price of um...fame?

Apologies for turning on the word verification in comments ~ I know it's just one more tedious thing to have to do to post a comment ~ but it seems the spam spiders have located my blog. I've had five anonymous 'comments that are really links to sales sites' in the last hour.

Update: At Raph's suggestion, I've installed Haloscan comments. To be honest I always thought Haloscan was just the comment system used by a different blog space provider. I didn't realise I could have Haloscan comments without shifting my blog to another address. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see if it makes any difference in terms of spam comments.

Later update: ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I didn't realise that changing to Haloscan would get rid of all my comments!!!! To anyone who commenting on an August post (especially all those kind folk who recently came visiting from Walker's site) please forgive the deletions. Haloscan did it! Luckily it didn't do so for the archives. I'd have been crushed to lose all of those as well.

Friday, August 26, 2005

there ain't nothing like a dame

This was originally part of the Sin City movie review, but it's such a tangent I thought I'd give it a little posting space of its own.

There's another theme that runs right through the movie and it centres on two kinds of men - those who hurt women and those that help them (one of each to the left). It’s not that Sin City women are defenceless as such ~ the women in Old Town are far from it! ~ but rather that the author sees them as something precious that should be protected rather than harmed, respected rather than insulted. There’s a very sweet, old-fashioned notion being played out – that women have a greater capacity for love and therefore for hurt, and so to abuse them is to crush what is best in them; their openness and compassion.

Is it crazy that I like this? Logically I know that to act like a woman needs your protection is to imply that she is weak or can’t handle her own crap. So the idea IS sexist. But there is a part of me that mourns the loss of true old-school chivalry – and with it the idea that a real man doesn’t hit women. Ever.

I think that’s actually the key.

Because the truth is that there are still men in the world who will hit a woman because she is a woman. What she says or does is not really relevant – anything can be turned into a reason. They deliberately target her as someone that should be repressed, subjugated and controlled. For men like that, hitting or humiliating women is a very direct way to teach them that they are not precious at all, and that this lack of worth in based on them being female (implying by extension that his superiority is based on being male).

So on the flip side of that coin is the realisation that a man who will not hit a woman, in any circumstance, is acknowledging that he has no right to that kind of control. Even the super-old-fashioned guys who come from the generation that really believes a wife should obey her husband; even they, if they refuse to hit a woman, are setting limits on the control they can or should have over any woman. They reinforce the idea that women are inherently special. It’s pretty hard to be offended by that, when the opposite attitude – that women are inherently worthless – is still out there alive and well in our own societies even now.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

aim careful, and look the devil in the eye

"Now that is one damn fine coat you're wearing."

Movie review:
If you took a classic Mickey Spillane novel and let it spend a few minutes in a blender with Dark City and then added just a touch of Jason, you'd just about be where I was Tuesday night - at the movies watching Sin City.

I want to say I enjoyed it, but I can't help but feel that 'enjoyed' is the wrong word. It would be kind of like saying you enjoyed watching an autopsy. It was very interesting, with mind-blowing visual content and creativity, but there was some stuff in there that was so screwed up I couldn't help but recoil a little from it. I think if it had been more real and less comic book, I would have felt more uncomfortable, but the very contrived drama of film noir/pulp added to the look and feel of the graphic novel saved it from crossing that line from 'disturbing' into 'freaking me right out'.


I'm a sucker for a hero story, so of the three main stories ~ "The Hard Goodbye"(Marv & Goldie) "The Big Fat Kill" (Dwight & 'the girls') and "That Yellow Bastard" (Hartigan & Nancy) ~ I liked Hartigan the best. Bruce Willis wasn't really old enough for the part (Hartigan is pushing 60 at the beginning of the 8-year story), but he still played it beautifully.

Having said that, my favourite thing about the movie as a whole is actually something not in the Hartigan story. Sin City is not a place for heroes. Sure, there’s a little bit of dialogue about honest cops, but Hartigan’s the only one we ever get to see in any detail. For the most part, the 'heroes' in Sin City are flawed or even ‘bad’ people who nevertheless have a streak of justice that won’t be ignored. Dwight is a murderer who’s changed his face to escape his crime. Marv has a stream of violence in his past and it’s still his way of dealing. Yet they both risk their lives to protect (or avenge) a woman’s life.

You see this all through the movie - that what we do in life doesn't wholly define what we are. In Sin City there are a myriad of people doing corrupt, illegal or warped things. Some people would say that every one of them is an evil person. But it really isn't hard to see that that's not the case. Some of them are evil to the core and other people are their playthings and stepping stones. Others are just trying to survive in a harsh world. And still others are deeply flawed but have redeeming qualities that seperate them from the truly evil. I prefer the story of a flawed hero - emotional baggage, skeletons in the closet, these things make a character's heroism much more than just the natural actions of a 'hero type'. It's part of why I enjoyed Constantine so much.

Sin City - not for the squeamish. 31/2 stars. (5 if you're a fan of the graphic novel, because it is perfectly represented and you'll likely love it.)

"Deadly little Miho. She won't let you feel a thing...unless she wants you to."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the adventures of little johnny

This week Prime Minister John Howard held a meeting with Muslim leaders in Australia to discuss how to combat terrorism and curb the spread of radical Muslim fundamentalism. Radical clerics were excluded from the meeting. Though I understand the reasoning, I'm not sure that marginalising and alienating those with more radical views is the way to handle the situation and bring about understanding or right action. If they were meeting to discuss advancing gun control, they would have invited gun owners and users, gun shop owners, etc. Pushing people out only reinforces the idea that they are part of a marginalised group that needs to fight for its rights.

The outcome of the meeting was that 'Australian values' are to be taught in Islamic schools in Australia in order to discourage radical fundmentalist thinking from spreading. I guess by Australian values they are talking about 'democracy', etc...the usual suspects. I wonder though, if this will eventuate into a scenario where Muslim teachers are expected to denounce Islamic law as second to the law of the land. While I agree that Muslims should subject themselves to the law of the land where they live, it's a different thing altogether to have to actively downgrade the laws of your religion. Handled well it could be a positive. Handled badly... Watch this space I guess.

Little Johnny Howard has also just been awarded with the Woodrow Wilson award for outstanding leadership in public life. The award will be recognised in a recorded message from the US President George W Bush, who will also deliver a message to Australians. (Good grief.) Howard said that the award 'belongs to all Australians'.

Not this Australian. I'm unhappy with the majority of his decisions (education, industrial relations, trade, etc) and very unhappy with the plans he's made since gaining control of the Senate.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

responses to dissent

MSN runs a poll each week or so asking a question regarding something topical. Today this question popped up:

Should radical clerics who do not share the nation's values be deported?

Currently the vote stands as follows:

Yes: 2966
No: 390

I can't tell you how disturbed I am by this, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there is the automatic assumption that these radical clerics are not Australian citizens. Consider...a citizen of Australia can't be deported. The question is therefore intrinsically aimed at 'those foreigners with their foreign ideas'. The truth is that it is more than possible that the clerics concerned are citizens. They may even have been born here.

Which leads me to my second point: I don't like the assumption that anyone who 'doesn't think like us' doesn't really belong here. After all, who is 'us'? Who gets to decide what it is that 'Australians' think? As long as these people contain their thoughts to non-violent speech and action, they can think whatever they like. It's their right as human beings, let alone citizens of a free nation, to belief as they choose, even if the rest of the population considers it vile and reprehensible. It is only when they break the law that they should come under condemnation.

And that is the third thing. Do we not have any trust in our law system? We have laws against things like inciting racial hatred or inciting violence. Rather than seeing the answer as putting all the 'difficult' people on a boat and deporting them somewhere else, we should act lawfully against those who radical beliefs are actually translating into acts of hatred or violence.

Deportation, even where possible, is a worst-case scenario response - not a quick fix.

follow-up from yesterday

Okay so my little crew of heathens surprised me by being very good this morning, even the one boy who is generally the least supportive. Maybe there's hope for them yet. ^_^

monday, monday

...can't trust that day.

My class sucked this morning, so uncooperative and distracted that I felt like suggesting they go find another teacher who enjoys getting up early in the morning to waste time talking to air. I ended the class about ten minutes early and left. They weren't learning anything anyway. I'd like to say that might make them think, but chances are that they didn't give a toss. When you're fifteen it's always the teacher's fault.

I thought work might be easy with MsPlum off skiing all week, but the first thing that happened was that I missed a correction in a document. Apparently the Scot woke up on the asshole side of the bed this morning and instead of merely asking me to go back and correct it, decided he needed to 'rake me over the coals' instead. An hour later his other personality was at my desk thanking me very much for the 'terrific job' I'd done on the documents (the second time around). Phi suggests this might have been his dipshit way of apologising. Hmmm.

In the afternoon I discovered that I'd arranged to send an eBay purchase to the wrong address. In trying to save myself postage, I've now cost myself not only extra postage, but also opened up an opportunity for the item to get lost along the way in all the back and forth. *sigh*

So tonight I stayed up way too late with Phi, comforting myself with good conversation. It was a good end to a bad day, but not a sensible one as I'm now going to get about 3hrs sleep. The jury's still out for now on if it was worth it. Depends how tired I am tomorrow I suppose.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Have you ever given a foot massage?

As you might be aware I've been checking out Tarantino films lately after seeing, and loving, the Kill Bill films. The latest in my line-up was Pulp Fiction.

It's a bit of a challenge at first to work out what exactly Pulp Fiction is all about. Sure, there's the hired muscle who are having one hellava day, the sexy wife too hot to touch who just wants a fun night out, the boxer who's agreed to take a fall, the robber couple who've decided to change their MO...but these are just the characters who string together a day-in-the-life type plot. They are not really what (I think) the movie was about.

For me it was all about context. And timing. But to explain what I mean I have to first acknowledge that I might not be the very last person in the world to have seen Pulp Fiction (though it seemed like I was) and say...


There were so many things that happened, in the way that they happened, only because of the context in which they happened. Marsellus was prepared to hunt Butch down wherever he fled, but a chance meeting with some very warped guys buys Butch's freedom. There's nothing that man could have done to save his own skin - not talked or bought his way out - the scene where the young guys are gunned down for double-crossing Marsellus showed us that. But then this terrible situation happens and Butch makes a choice and that choice saves his life. And he couldn't count on that being the case.

Same with Ringo and Yolanda. Any other day, they've had been toast before they knew what was happening. But they caught Jules 'in a transitional period' and so everything is different. He talks them down, he gives them money, and he sends them on their way. Nobody gets killed. And all because he had had a moment that day where he felt like God 'got involved' in his life.

But you can't predict what life brings and you can't control the context that you find yourself in. Most of what happened wasn't planned...couldn't have been planned. So Vincent panics his way through saving Mia, terrified of what Marcellus will do to him if she dies, not knowing that he will be dead within a day anyway. (Sad that so soon afterwards you realise that his death was totally unnecessary, even from Butch's perspective. ) Marvin is, ironically, shot accidentally after being the only one of the boys not executed for doublecrossing Marcellus. Ringo and Yolanda make a momentous career change in order to be safer, and nearly die for it.

Or maybe it's just a story about a few crazy people with explosive lives that intertwine one fateful day. It's not like I've never been known to over-analyse.

Favourite moments:

The whole foot massage theme was entertaining:

Vincent: I ain't saying it's right. But you're saying a foot massage don't mean nothing, and I'm saying it does. Now look, I've given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don't, but they do, and that's what's so f**king cool about them. There's a sensuous thing going on where you don't talk about it, but you know it, she knows it, f***ingMarsellus knew it, and Antwan should have f***ing known better. I mean, that's his f***ingwife, man. He can't be expected to have a sense of humor about that shit. You know what I'm saying?
Jules: That's an interesting point.

And later when Vincent actually asks Mia what she think about the fact that Antwan was thrown out of a four storey window for giving her a foot massage:

Mia: A husband being protective of his wife is one thing. A husband almost killing another man for touching his wife's feet is something else.
Vincent: But did it happen?
Mia: The only thing Antwan ever touched of mine was my hand, when he shook it...at my wedding. The truth is, nobody knows why Marsellus tossed Tony Rocky Horror out of that window except Marsellus and Tony Rocky Horror. But when you scamps get together, you're worse than a sewing circle.

The whole Vincent and Mia storyline is my favourite thing about the movie, in spite of several other great moments - from the moment Vincent starts talking about the foot massage right through to when they promise never to tell Marcellus about Mia's accidental OD. I love the milkshake, the dance contest, even the way Mia says, after snorting coke in the bathroom at the restaurant, "I said goddamn! Goddamn."

Vincent: Did you just order a five dollar shake?
Mia: Ummhh.
Vincent: That's a shake? . . . that's milk and ice cream?
Mia: Last I heard.
Vincent: That's five dollars? You don't put bourbon in it or nothin'?
Buddy Holly: No.
Vincent: Just checking.

Now I've never snorted coke, but Pulp Fiction is my impression of how that feels. I said goddamn, that's some good shit! ^_^

Saturday, August 20, 2005

~~~ cupid, draw back your bow ~~~

...and let your arrow flow, straight to my lover's heart for me...nobody but me. Cupid, please hear my cry, and let your arrow fly, straight to my lover's heart, for me.

Mystic, a friend who used to work with me, has made a rather huge romantic turnaround. She was dithering over this guy who's been in love with her for some time, not sure whether to go ahead or walk away for good. Suddenly one day recently she had an epiphany. She realised that she was being a little romantically stupid, taking for granted the very guy who had all that she really wanted. They are now on a month-long holiday together. I think her man has been wondering for a long time what the hell Cupid thought he was playing at, but now it's all working out he must be pretty happy.

It seems Phi's recent romance may be waning. The first few weeks went well, as it often does. I guess at first you are looking for what works, but as time passes what doesn't work becomes more obvious. I'm trying not to give an opinion either way. I think she's pretty interesting/nice, but that isn't always what makes two people 'click'...otherwise we'd always be falling in love with our friends. There has to be something else, something more, and that can only be defined by the two people in the relationship. I'm especially trying to leave it up to him, because apparently many of his other friends aren't. I figure he's getting enough opinions elsewhere.

In other romance news, Gangsta Girl has hooked up with one of the kids in the class I teach. He is...not at all gangsta. In fact he is such a whitebread I'm surprised they've hooked up at all, but hey 'opposites attract' and all that guff. Nice kid anyway, who will remain alive and well as long as he's good to her (sort of kidding). Of course it is a highschool romance, and they tend to be short-lived, but who knows? Certainly right now it looks like Cupid might have hit the right spot.
It'll be interesting to see how all three situations pan out.

Friday, August 19, 2005

my new japanese boarder

I have a Japanese student staying with me for 3 weeks. She arrived yesterday afternoon, tired from the flight and crying over being away from her family and boyfriend. I think she is not so much homesick as nervous at being in a new country and unsure how far her not at all fluent English is going to take her.

The hardest thing is resisting the urge to speak Japanese. I SOOOO want to, but she's here to learn English so it hardly seems fair to use the opportunity to practice my Japanese. Still, it is nice just to be able to talk about 'things Japanese' even in English. She was surprised to walk in through my front door and find that the first thing she saw was a poster of Hyde, a Japanese rock star (that's his pic to the left). Though she prefers pop singers like Ayumi Hamasaki, I think it was a nice surprise. Who knows?

So far she seems very much like other typical Japanese girls, in the 'my hobby is shopping/my cat is pretty/I am ever-so-slightly vapid' sense of 'typical'. I know that sounds negative but when you've had three years of asking 17-year-old girls what their dream for the future is, and most of the time gotten an answer along the lines of 'to own a Louis Vitton bag', you get a little impatient with the shallowness of it all. I always preferred the boys, who were generally into something - whether sport or music or whatever - something more than taking purikura and reading fashion mags anyway. I was surprised to learn that she doesn't like sushi. That's certainly atypical for a Japanese. But hey, I wasn't planning to make sushi anyway, so I guess it's a positive. Anyway, it's too early to tell what she's really like, so I'll try not to label her too quickly.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

how to screw up a promotion

This week I can't seem to get anything done at work. I feel weary every day and go home each night having achieved maybe half of the things on whatever list I compiled at the beginning of the day. Trouble is that my boss MsPlum is going skiing next week and so there really is a lot of stuff that has to get done by the end of this week.

Normally I'd chalk it up to a bad week and leave it at that, but next week I am putting in an application for a promotion that's come up recently. So just when I want to plaster the image of me being terribly efficient and genius-like all over my boss' mind, I am instead doing a half-assed job of pretty much every task I'm given.

Such is life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

bad things come in 3s

I've always heard this, and I don't know if it's actually true. Maybe it's just that once two bad things happen you sit around waiting for the third to fall from the sky. Inevitably something sufficiently bad occurs and once again the proverb is proven true.

So when my computer started overheating (complete with tiny alarm and sudden shutdown) and I took it into the computer repair place only to be told that it might cost me $300 or so to fix, I really should have gone to my car not expecting it to start. At the very least a sense of impending doom (bad things coming as they do...in threes) would have been appropriate. Of course I, having no afore-mentioned sense of doom, was shocked and dismayed to realise that turning the key was resulting in absolutely nothing happening.

Starter motor. Another $300. *sigh*

Now of course I was wise. Impending doom was written all over my face until the auto electrician (who, bear in mind, does not even sell tyres and therefore had no reason to talk me into replacing my tyres) provided my third 'bad thing' by mentioning that my front two tyres were worn to a dangerous (and illegal) level. Two tyres and a very necessary wheel alignment later, $200 more dollars had joined their friends down the drain.

Of course now I feel invincible. What can possibly go wrong? Bad things do not, after all, 'come in 4s'.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

hanging 18

Surfing mice hit the Gold Coast
(click here for the video...you have to wait until the advertisement finishes to see the mouse footage)

Move over Kelly Slater - surfing mice Harry, Chopsticks and Bunsen are hitting the waves.
Gold Coast owner and trainer Shane Wilmott said the secret to training a surfing mouse was to start young, beginning in the bath tub, before working up to low-level beach action.
"You give him the knowledge that the board's going to keep him afloat," he told the Ten Network.
Mr Wilmott said once the mice became comfortable with the water and the board, it was off to the beach - albeit only with mouse-sized waves. There are wipeouts, but sometimes the mice really shoot the curl.
Willmott said his interest in mice and an active imagination had inspired the creation of his stable of surfing mice.
He said he built the mice surfboards and was working on a mouse-sized wave runner. Willmott also provides custom-made villas for his little furry friends so they can relax after a tough day at the beach.

Mr Wilmott said not a single mouse had been lost to the surf.
But the RSPCA's Michael Beatty said he could not imagine the mice enjoying their surfing jaunts.
"As far as I know, mice don't swim for enjoyment," he said.
"I suppose, to be honest, you have to think like a mouse, and I can't imagine they would find surfing much fun."
Mr Beatty said the RSPCA would not take any action against Mr Wilmott, but he asked the Gold Coast man to rethink his behaviour.
"The RSPCA is against the use of any animal for entertainment which involves that animal doing an act that is unnatural and I would suggest surfing is not a natural activity for mice," he said.

I don't know whether mice enjoy surfing little mouse-sized waves, but I wouldn't have guessed that elephants were musical either, so maybe.

Monday, August 15, 2005

things that amaze me: part 214

Former Spice Girl singer Victoria Beckham, wife of England football captain David, confessed she has never read a book, a newspaper said Sunday.

The confession is all the more startling given that it would appear to include her own autobiography, "Learning to Fly", and that of her husband, "My Side".

"I haven't read a book in my life. I haven't got enough time. I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines," she was quoted as saying.

How can a person not read? I mean, yeah, sure, I can relate to those people saying, "I wish I got more time to read" or "lately I'm so tired that when I pick up a book I end up falling asleep". But how can someone 'not have read a book in their life'? More importantly, how do people not WANT to?

I love people who are well-read - not merely in the sense of being educated, but people who read because there's just so much out there to suck in and think about and discuss. I'm rather jealous of Tetchan, who somehow gets through at least four times as many books as I do. She always has some interesting thing to tell me that she found in a book. I often use her recommendations to decide what to read next. I love the fact that she doesn't just quote theories from a book like a socialite name-dropping to score points on someone else's celebrity. She can explain their theories but also step back to evaluate them and decide what her own opinion is.

I often wonder how many books Skywalker gets through, working at a secondhand bookshop as he does. I can't count the number of times I've bought a book that he's read and given me an opinion on, and he's obviously getting through a lot more than I bring to the counter. I think his love of books, and all that implies, is a big part of the reason I have such a crush on him. ^_^

As for Victoria Beckham...what on Earth is the woman doing with her time? I mean, we know she's not eating...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

snow, submersion and security

It snowed today!! And this was in the city too, swirling fiercely past our windows as we all stood there in amazement and delight. It almost never snows in Canberra, though we have snowfields a couple of hours away.

It was so pretty, but the wind blowing through the snow was icy and chill, so when I got home I decided to take a hot bath. Now being home alone calls for being luxurious, so I got my latest book, which happens to be Chocolat. Naturally then I needed to make myself a very decadent cup of rich hot chocolate to take in with me...just hot milk with dark chocolate melted into it - h.e.a.v.e.n.l.y! I poured it into my Christmas angel cup to match the snowy theme outside.

All sounds lovely, ne? It was. For about 45minutes. That's when I got out and discovered I had locked myself out of my own bedroom.

My bedroom door locks with a key. Somehow tonight I managed to turn the button sufficiently so that when I shut the door (to keep the heat in the room) I locked it. And where, pray tell, were my bag, keys, mobile phone and security pass? That's right...in the bedroom, behind the locked door. Now see if you can guess where my spare keys were? Remember, my security pass was in the room with my car keys. Have you got it yet? That's right...the spare keys were in my desk...at work.

I had to call Rev (who was already in bed) to ask for a lift to work and back. I also had to call the security company and arrange for a guard to meet me there so I could get to my desk to retrieve the keys. The first thing he asked for, of course, was ID...all in my bag at home, in the locked room. Luckily he was not a bastard about it and is going to simply pop by to ID me tomorrow. He now knows where my desk is, after all.

I'm just glad that I happened to have an outfit outside of my room, or I would have been meeting the security guy in my dressing gown. As it was I only had thongs to wear on my feet and it was still snowing!! It was SO EMBARRASSING!!! And I just can't wait to have a conversation with our in-house security guy tomorrow about it. *sigh*

But it did snow today. So yahhhhh!!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

much less than three

My friend Jojo has finally entered the blogging world, so I've added him on the sidebar. Of course why go all the way over to the sidebar when you can just click here? It's a newish blog and there are a mere half dozen entries so far, but I still want to recommend it, because I know what's coming and it's far beyond what's already there.

One thing I love about Jojo is that he speaks (and writes) with an authentic voice. He's into way too many things for one person to fit into each day, but somehow he manages to suck in the integral stuff in each case and come back with the intelligent commentary of a person who was there at the time. So if he writes about gaming, he sounds like someone who hangs with the Penny Arcade dudes. If he turns to tunes, he's like a Rolling Stone reporter, understanding both the intricacies of the music and also the wider connections between the artist and the rest of the musiverse. He drools just the right amount when being a fanboy, waxes ubergeek when he talks computers, and slits open a carefully considered vein when opening up and talking about more personal things. Soon he'll be off to China to live for a while and I'm looking forward to seeing it through his sharp, observant eyes.

Anyway, that's my spiel. I hope you'll take the time to check it out the blog and see what you think.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

ain't it funny, in a rich man's world?

He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it. (W. Somerset Maugham)

A friend emailed me this week, most apologetic, to ask if she could borrow some money. Her workplace had made a mistake and her pay was around $400 short. 'Oh no problem', they assured her, 'we can fix that right up...next pay'. Uh, yeah, next pay is a fortnight away. Two weeks $400 down is not an attractive picture. Trouble is, it's embarrassing to admit to your employer that you have absolutely no emergency savings. It's embarrassing enough to admit it to yourself, and I'm sure that she was less than keen to admit it to me by asking for help. Luckily we have a long history of helping each other out in various ways - whether money or rides or just a listening ear.

The point is that it really brought my attention back to my own finances. I was able to help her out this week, but that wouldn't be the case every week. Which begs questions like, 'what if my car broke down?' 'What if I had to make a trip home with no advance notice?'

I was thinking last week about my various debts and all of the things they prevent me from doing. That spare money in my salary (the part rent and household bills don't take) that goes to paying off my loan and credit card is the money I could be using to travel or save for a deposit on a house. And it suddenly struck me: that money goes somewhere...not into thin air (which is how it feels) but into the pocket of someone at the bank or credit card company. Someone else is building my house, someone else is taking my holiday, and they're using my money to do it.

It made me really angry, not least of all at myself for still being in debt. I know it's practically the universal condition in the Western world, but it isn't how I want to live. If someone is taking a holiday with my money, I want it to be ME, damn it!

If only the process weren't so slow...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

if you could be any superhero...?

Next time someone asks me that question, I know what I'm going to answer: Psylocke. Wow.

Here are her stats:

Codename: Psylocke
Real Name: Elisabeth Braddock
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 155 lbs.
Hair: Formerly blonde, now Purple.
Abilities: She is well trained in the martial art form of Ninjitsu, and can also speak fluent Japanese.
Occupations: Fashion Model, Assassin.
Powers: Telekinesis and Flight. She can also manifest the totality of her psychic abilities into a 'Psychic katana blade' which temporarily immobilizes her opponent when struck.

She's gorgeous, speaks fluent Japanese, has my two favourite superhero powers of all time and wears (at least in this pic) my favourite shade of my favourite colour. Count me in, baby!

So who would you be?

Friday, August 05, 2005

nicest compliment I received this week

In the middle of discussion on finding love (a shockingly repetitive theme in my life this month! I really must stop watching romantic movies.) I received this quite nice compliment from someone who has a lot of substance themselves, which made it even nicer:

Neo: There are so many people out there that are [can't remember the exact words but something about immaturity or superficiality]. But you have a lot of substance, chosha. I have high hopes for you.
Me: Thanks *blush* that's a nice compliment. Though I'm not sure that's how the real world works.
Neo: Well the real world can get fucked.
He also made a gorgeous comment about his wife this week:
It's been nine years and I just get up every day thinking 'oh, I could just marry you all over again.'
It's people like him that make me keep trying to find love in this jaded world. The world needs more people who understand what loving someone else really means.

And people that can juggle.


Speaking of bands from the 80s...


Debbie just hit the wall, she never had it all
One Prozac a day, husband's a CPA
Her dreams went out the door
When she turned twenty-four
Only been with one man
What happened to her plan

She was gonna be an actress
She was gonna be a star
She was gonna shake her ass
On the hood of White Snake's car
Her yellow SUV is now the enemy
Looks at her average life
And nothing has been alright

Since Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

Woohoohoo (1985)

She's seen all the classics, she knows every line
'Breakfast Club', 'Pretty in Pink'
Even 'St. Elmo's Fire'
She rocked out to Wham!
Not a big Limp Bizkit fan
Thought she'd get a hand
On a member of Duran Duran

Where's the mini-skirt made of snake skin
And who's the other guy that's singing in Van Halen
When did reality become TV
Whatever happened to sitcoms, game shows
On the radio was

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985


She hates time, make it stop
When did Motley Crue become classic rock?
And when did Ozzy become an actor?
Please make this stop, stop
Stop, and bring back

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 1985

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I fought the law...

...and the law won.

Chai and I flew to Melbourne today to join the people on the graduate program for their day course in Law. My brain is completely fried. We covered four topics: Interpretation of Statutory Law, Administrative Law, The Freedom of Information Act, and Privacy Laws. Though it was interesting (in the sense that we can take it back to work and apply a lot of it straight away) by the time the Privacy section rolled around the whole room was having trouble keeping their eyes open. Having gotten up at 4.30am in order to make the pre-dawn flight didn't help. So when it ended early at 3.30pm we caught an earlier flight rather than sticking around to enjoy the city.

Even so, it was nice to be in Melbourne after so long. On the way into our building I spotted Inferno, an awesome little treasure trove of counter-culture movies from all over the world. Martial arts, Italian horror, US sci-fi, etc, etc. At lunch time I slipped out before anyone could invite me to another hour of making polite conversation, and checked it out. Next time I go to Melbourne I'll bring more money with me. I also found a vintage clothing store down the street with a rack of original (secondhand) concert t-shirts. Nothing I wanted, but nostalgia-producing nonetheless. Ah those big hair rock bands from the 80s...*sigh*

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

now that's what I call an episode of 'survivors'

I am so very impressed that all of these people survived.

I tend to think of plane crashes as something you should just accept will probably kill you. I know people survive (even if some of those subsequently get eaten by sharks, or worse, each other) but generally speaking if you're inside a 300 tonne metal box which is falling, not flying, you are pretty much toast.

But not today!
More than 300 passengers and crew on an Air France airbus have had a miraculous escape after their flight skidded off the end of a runway in Canada and burst into flames The accident happened as long-haul A-340 jet, arriving from Paris, was making a landing during a storm at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.Passengers have said they saw lightning as the plane came down. The plane crashed into trees and bushes in a gully that separates the airport perimeter from a busy highway. All 297 passengers and 12 crew escaped before the fire took hold.

And these quotes:

"Olivier Dubos, who was sitting at the back of the plane, told CTV television the plane appeared to land "extremely fast" after a 20-minute delay caused by storm conditions at the airport.
Then there was darkness, as the plane careened out of control and crashed into a ravine.
"Just before we landed the plane was going extremely fast but we thought that was because of the rain or heavy winds or whatever," Mr Dubos said.
"Then there was no more light in the plane. It was really scary. Very, very scary."

I bet it was. So not on my list of things to do this decade. Or the next.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

ah young love

Text conversation:

Phi: My car is ready!!
Me: That's awesome! Try to get it out of the workshop before you kiss it.
Phi: Haha. I'll do my best.
Me: Well maybe just one, but no tongues. :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

funniest net quiz subject I've seen in ages!!

You are Susan Gezi.Your father was killed by a planned motor accident. He was the former Zimbabwean Minister for Youth & Gender Equality. You have $22,000,000 to share.  You want to assure me this transaction is 100% risk free.
Which Nigerian spammer are You?