"I will begin again, I will begin again
Oh and maybe the time is right
Oh maybe tonight"
- U2, New Year's Day
In three weeks I'll be thirty seven.
How I stopped being nineteen I'm not sure - it seems to have snuck up on me while I wasn't paying attention for five minutes. Which is unfortunate, because the intervening time is supposed to be best years of your life.
Anyway, thirty seven isn't that far from forty, and forty isn't a million miles from fifty, and fifty is just starting to be a bit old.
"Old" is when you drink to pass the afternoon pleasantly, instead of to get drunk and fall over after making an embarrassing pass at a married man in front of his wife. You eat because you're actually hungry, and carry a packet of indigestion tablets in your top pocket. And it's when you take drugs that mess with your head because they're prescribed by your doctor, instead of because they mess with your head.
It's also the time when the health of your body starts to matter, because you've only just realised you can't trade it in for another one when it falls apart - and you've noticed that it is falling apart.
So, Kapitano's New Queer resolutions:
1) Try to eat fairly sensibly. And do some exercise. This is the difference between being a Big Old Poof and a Fat Old Poof.
2) Stop prevaricating. About...well, everything. Reading, writing, music, research, calling up friends, that sort of thing.
3) ...and finish a few more things I do start.
4) Not spend every spare hour with a computer.
5) Bring down the oppressive governments of the world by organising the masses to socialist revolution and democratic self-rule, thus ending war, saving the environment, and beginning the first chapter of true human history. This one might take a bit of work.
First things first (though not necessarily in that order). New Year's Party - for getting drunk, embarrassing married men though they secretly quite like it, and falling over.
Have a good one.
A short story about expectations.
The first angels had appeared only weeks earlier.
Glowing humanoid forms, with indistinct outline and features, motionless and glowing a deep blue had materialised in twelve major population centres around the world.
Journalists interviewed witnesses, bloggers speculated, the sick begged for healing, the powerful tried to negotiate, the military tried to destroy. All to no effect.
The angels, as they'd become known, stood motionless and blurred, indestructible, unmoving and seemingly unaware.
But, over the ensuing days, the forms gradually become clearer and the faces more obviously human.
Religious leaders tried to claim the figures for themselves, and political groups did the same. Everyone wanted the visitors to confirm their particular hopes and fears, but the shining figures simply stood there, oblivious and unnoticing.
Then they started to make sounds. Their lips didn't move, but it sounded like they were trying to talk.
Mystics claimed to have predicted their arrival, and interpreted its meaning, varying from the end of the world in war to the dawn of a new age.
The angel's voices started to form recognisable words in the dominant languages of the cities where they'd arrived. Every few hours they "spoke" for several minutes, a few tantalising words, before going silent.
It had to be first contact with a higher being. Humanity was chosen, blessed, about to receive a glorious truth.
It was a call for help, or a call to action.
"...love...my friend...more beautiful...important...listen..."
It was a plea for unity, or a warning for unbelievers.
A month after the arrival, dignitaries and holders of power were clustered around each of the twelve, hoping to hear the first recognisable sentences from the figures, and hoping they could somehow turn it to their advantage.
The halos flickered in unison around the globe, a sign the angels were about to speak. There was an expectant silence, which stretched into minutes.
Then each of the twelve spoke, clearly and fully.
"This is an important message. Please listen.
Are you sad and lonely because you can't make girls fall for you? Do you feel worthless every night because you can't make them want you?
Well I've got the secret of love and I want to tell you. Yes, my friend, you.
With my help you'll soon be getting more beautiful girls than you'd ever thought possible!
With my infallible method, you'll never sleep alone! And that's a promise!
Send no money now..."
So that was christmas.
Getting drunk, eating too much, eating some more, waiting a bit, eating some more, sleeping, watching a crap christmas movie, drinking brandy, scoffing chocolates, watching the crap Dr Who christmas special, eating christmas dinner, having second helpings, having pudding, finishing off the chocolates with coffee, watching more crap christmas TV, more alcohol, sausage rolls, feeling crap...and bed.
Thank god we don't do that kind of thing more than...twenty or thirty times a year.
However, let us think of those who are alone at this time of year. Such as the bloke who txted to say he was bored and lonely, so was I free for a blowjob.
Yeah okay I was tempted. But already too full of, um, spicy sausage.
There's a "Blog Year Roundup" meme, which involves listing the first sentence from the first post of each month. So here's mine:
"Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible."
Okay, more or less back on line.
My grandmother washed her clothes in a large tub.
I have an apartment.
There's two reasons to neglect your blog.
"Teacher, you eat your beans."
Wednesday was great, Thursday was awful.
I'm not going to go blind after all.
It's been one of those weeks where nothing comes easily.
4500 words, and still no plot.
I am once again officially unemployed.
Yep, a pretty good summary of the year.
So I hereby tag everyone who reads this to do one of their own!
"Poets do not write to be understood."
"A great deal more is known than has been proved."
"I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there's no real problem."
- Richard Feynmann
There are people who need to be myths.
They spend a great deal of time and energy creating stories and ideas about themselves, all to make them admirable in the eyes of others. These are the people with a deep need to be admired, respected, deferred to, adored, even worshipped. It's a need that's never satisfied, and needs a constant supply of new disciples.
If they're smart they'll always pretend to be modest about their virtue - because modesty is seen as another virtue, and because it looks more plausible if they're seen ostentatiously refusing to blow their own trumpet, so long as it's implied they'd be justified in doing so.
Most such people fool no one. Everyone can see they're a fake, and they get treated with quiet contempt, before being brushed aside and forgotten.
But there's a few who actually are admirable, for quite genuine reasons, but need more admiration. The priest who actually is patient and kind, but needs his flock to constantly comment on how saintly he is. The scientist who's brilliant, but wants to read in the newspapers about how they're a towering figure even among geniuses. The leader who needs not just to be obeyed by to be loved, and the philosopher with three good ideas who thinks they've changed everything.
I've met maybe half a dozen such people - princes who need to be seen as emperors - and it took months for the penny to drop about the paradoxical way in which they were frauds.
I just can't help wondering how many of the world's most admired historical figures were like that. Because in my experience, they're very dangerous people.
I've got a turkey.
We don't usually bother with one at christmas but a friend inherited two but she's a vegetarian so...anyway, it's about fourteen inches across, and according to the instructions it'll take two days to defrost and six to eight hours to cook.
So I know what I'll be eating in February.
On the news today, a beauty salon has, in the spirit of the reformed Scrooge, given free haircuts and makeovers to homeless people - for one day only.
A manicured manicurist explained to the bubbly interviewer how it's important to help the homeless, and how helping them not look homeless improves their self-esteem.
A customer with filthy clothes but impeccable hair agreed, albeit through gritted teeth.
Chasing up the story, I couldn't find much, but it's probably part of this Wenceslassian effort.
But it looks like someone else had the idea first.
When I've occasionally toyed with the idea of becoming a petit-bourgeois entrepreneur, I've thought of employing only homeless people, much like Michael Moore claimed to employ only black people. Though predictably enough, there's actually tax laws against it.
Some people tell me I think about gay sex all the time. But I'm pure as the pope...compared to the pope.
The entire Judeo-Christian-Islamic world should find a new hobby.
A non-christmassy short story.
"A History of Longhaul Spaceflight Psychotechnology", by Vanz Cunningham
Preface, by Katarin Rybczinski
The first discovered problem of longterm space flight was also the last to be solved. Travellers go mad.
The press call it Space Madness, the military call it Extension Fatigue, psychologists call it Prisoner Stress or Tin Can Syndrome. There are as many names as failed cures, and as many explanations as expeditions that "Autoterminated" when the crew shut down.
Of course they didn't always just shut down. A few became delusional first, and in some sensational cases killed each other and/or themselves. But most of the time they become gradually listless and depressed, until they stopped feeding themselves and stopped responding.
Initially we thought it might be from the boredom, so we gave them endless diverting tasks, games and challenges to occupy their brains and their time. It worked for months, even years, but the artificial tasks were completed more and more perfunctorily, and eventually ignored.
Then we thought it might be from loneliness, so we put fifty gregarious types together on one ship. They formed friendships and alliances, politics and factions - even a religion - and we published joyful papers on how we'd solved the problem. Then we noticed they were shutting down too, and we still didn't understand why.
We thought we could solve the problem by using young children as astronauts. The thinking - quite plausible at the time - was that adults only can't cope with space because it's not the life they grew up with.
I was one of those who sponsored and implemented the plan, and I watched my proteges cut out their surgically implanted feeding tubes with makeshift knives and no anaesthetic. Maybe one day I'll be able to forgive myself, but I doubt it.
Cryosleep was the among the first solutions to be tried, and it appeared to work - right up to the moment the test subjects were revived. The problem seemed to be that, although almost all brain functions had been slowed right down, the autonomic functions could only be taken down so far.
The mind isn't just the prefrontal cortex - it's the whole brain, and the whole body, and indeed the whole past life of the person. By cryoslowing the travellers, we essentially fractured the "person" into several noninteracting parts, which couldn't function without each other.
Many gave up and declared space travel was impossible, saying we should concentrate on solving the earth's problems instead of wasting resources and life on exporting them to other planets. However others still thought a modified cryosleep may still be the answer.
A brain in a "hot cryo" state can be fed sensory cues from which it can construct a fantasy life, offering all the textures and varied surprises of reality.
This is not virtual reality, nor is it the same as REM sleep, and this is not hallucination. We did briefly try placing subjects in indefinitely extended REM sleep, but found continious dreaming for more than thirty six hours was impossible, though we're still not sure why. Nonstop drug induced hallucination and permanent VR were obviously not viable.
However, the sensations inducible in hot cryogenic storage have a detailed and "real" quality absent from ordinary dreaming, and the parameters of the narrative are much more tightly controlled, consistent and believable, kept that way by the computer - or "dream machine" as the media christened it.
Essentially, under the computer's constant guidance, the traveller lives a full virtual life, not limited to rearranged components of their former real life. They are given a whole city to explore, even a whole world, with a neverending stream of complex but soluble problems. There is even the appearance, but not the reality, of danger and grief, without which lives become initially pleasant but quickly stale.
We discovered this last the hard way, by immersing earthbound test subjects into their individual notions of a blissful existence. In only days they all exited the simulations in panic, unable to endure what had become the most banal of hells.
In tests of the more "gritty" scenarios, subjects responded well to spending a year in their alternate lives while their bodies were maintained mechanically - even preferring their slightly novelistic fake families and friends to their real ones.
There were however two remaining problems. One year in "altlife" was stimulating, five years was probably bearable, but the dozen or more centuries that might be needed for a complete journey to a distant planet - that was a different matter.
The first problem was that, no matter how stimulating the artificial challenges provided by the computer, eventually their very artificiality made them uninteresting. The second was that, while someone could in principle have their interest and their body maintained for two or three thousand years, by the end they will have developed a mental state indistinguishable from space madness. It seems people just can't cope with that much living.
The solution to the first problem was controversial but successful - and developed by the author of this work. If people get bored with entirely realistic but fake challenges, make them think the challenges are real. Suppress the knowledge that altlife isn't life, and subjects won't get bored - at least, not so easily.
The second solution is to have several altlifes lived in a row, each of forty to eighty years. After each, memory of it is made inaccessible (but not erased) and a new life begins. While it is theoretically possible to begin at birth each time and progress to old age, in practice the subject is best reborn as a young adult each time.
In the pages that follow, my colleague Dr Cunningham will take you through this history in much more detail than I could manage, and I suspect with much greater flair. He and I are both proud to have dedicated our (real) lives to this problem, and to have made interstellar colonisation a possibility, as well as a necessity.
Berlin C, 2243
I'm really, reaLLY pissed.
Happy christmas to everyone. Especially Donna and Simon who's got me moving their houses, especially my other comrades who turned my drunken ramblings into real politics, and thanks to P, who wouldn't let me kiss him, for all the right reasons.
Goodnight everyone, and maybe someone can explain where I got this big red bruise on my forehead.
This is a film I made in 2001.
It's a twenty three minute spoof documentary on alien abduction, ex-gay therapy cults, the paranormal, conspiracy theories and all such lovely sillyness. Including an equally silly advert break.
It features a number of friends who said and did some very dumb things on camera, for no more payment than seeing themselves do it on TV. One provided some splendidly pointless "Brass Eye" type graphics, and I learned far too much about compositing, chromakey theory and woodwork in production.
It also features me doing some peculiar voices. Perhaps thankfully, there was no time to film the segment showing me as a lascivious theoretical physicist with a speech synthesiser.
The studio/display space was a ten foot cube, painted bright blue inside and out. On opening night, I was also dressed and painted bright blue, much to the WTF-ness of certain drunk and/or stoned patrons.
You'll probably miss some of the jokes as they wizz by - don't worry. One lecturer said it was "deep", another a "headfuck". It's also the only artwork I've ever sold - two copies for a pound each.
Look out for the subtitles.
Oh yes, and I got an MA degree for making it. Which just goes to show...something.
My thanks to:
* John Snape and Davina Chippendale - for helping me build the studio.
* Tim Evans - for being Maradona Boggs
* Denny Kittay - for being Ikea Caelocanth
* Slava Guskov - for being Supertramp Logicalsong
* Joe Ho - for being Han Ton Dekon
* Victoria Webber - for being the "Shooz" girl
* Linda Pickering - for being the "Chocolat" girl
* Stephen Plummer - for being Shaynussy O'Joyce, and for the animated graphics
* My friends of Stop The War for being the P.E.A.C.E organisation.
I hope you enjoy your trip "Beyond Reality".
Today a blond girl told me her trousers had got all wet in the rain...so she'd better take them off. And could I help her please.
She rode me like a horse all around the floor, whooping and slapping me when I got tired, then she insisted on sucking my finger, cuddling and giggling.
Then her mother came home and joined in.
You guessed I was babysitting, didn't you. In the first sentence.
There was some actual sex with an adult male, you'll be pleased to hear, later on.
I'm not sure what it means when, as you're being extensively fellated, you find you've spent the last minute pondering the nature/nurture debate as regards the "skill" model of general intelligence.
Not his fault at all. I was just...mentally elsewhere.
The plan was to have a relaxing day, housesitting with C while my parents were in London for a big classical concert, watching trashy sci-fi, consuming endless cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, going soppy over the dogs, and generally feeling that life can be good.
Most of which, amazingly, did happen. But with the crucial element of C missing - thanks to his family being either CIA-like in their deniable deviousness, or CIA-like in their incredible ineptitude.
Still, we should still manage a part of christmas together.
Losing weight over christmas - not really a goer is it. With four-and-counting christmas-and-new-year meet-and-eat get-togethers coming up, my diet may just be in jeopardy.
There's one tomorrow that should ensure I have plenty to read - mine host is just finishing a novel. I'm the poof reader.
No that isn't a typo :-).
Coming soon: Post 1000!
"We appear to have lost our sex appeal, Captain."
- Tuvok, Star Trek: Voyager.
Last night I dreamed my father was a violently abusive parent, threatening to castrate me if I didn't obey him.
But instead of running away or smashing something heavy over his head, we went on a cosy family holiday where I was desperate to make him love me.
Most odd, and not like me at all. Anyone would think I'd been reading Freud and eating cheese before bed.
Then I dozed off again, and dreamed I was a new member of the starship Voyager, where Tom Paris and Harry Kim were having lots of sex.
Back to normality then. Much more me.
When I woke up, my father was trying to repaint a room in his usual, um, thorough and unhurried way. And Voyager was about to start on TV.
Spent most of the day taking apart a hi-fi system. No, not your usual GBP50 affair, the cheap cube of black plastic with flashing lights, mysterious buttons and graphic equaliser to make it look space-age.
This one cost GBP50K. Fifty thousand english pounds.
Each unit has its own stackable table, made of teak, tinted glass and chrome. It's the size of a large wardrobe on its side and each module made almost entirely of brushed metal.
It's got metre's and metres of cables so reinforced you could use them to tie down a family of rhinos. It's got sockets I've never even heard of, and speakers as tall as me.
It includes twelve separately powered pre-amps - for what conceivable purpose I've no idea - plus two astonishingly delicate turntables, and a CD player that looks like it's built to house radioactive waste.
There's no flashing lights, a total of six buttons, and the graphic equaliser is a separate unit, half the size and twice the weight of a tower PC.
And it's a big name brand: Namely Naim.
Oh yes, and it was my task to disassemble it for transport. Without an instruction manual. Got about a third of it done in five hours.
I've had a brilliant business idea.
Whenever you call up a call centre, you get put on hold for several minutes/hours/days, with either Handel's Water Music or Vivaldi's Four Seasons on infinite loop.
It's annoying, and makes you want to throttle the person who may or may not eventually take you call.
Now, there's also loads of bands out there who're so desperate to be heard they'll do pay-to-play gigs. You see where this is going?
The band provide me with their demo CD, which for a small charge I rip and insert "The next track is XXX by YYY." and "You just heard YYY playing XXX. Hear more on their myspace page."
The company with the call centre pay me a small fee for that month's song list, which gets played on shuffle to waiting customers.
Bands get exposure, customers no longer hate the company quite so much, and I retire to the Mediterranean. Where I'm waited on by Greek slave boys until my mysterious disappearance at the hands of Mossad and/or the CIA.
Almost as good a business model as this poor deluded fellow.
More Swedish synthpop: A Blue Ocean Dream
I do seem to like Swedish music.
And Swedish politics too.
Here are some search terms by which surfers found my blog recently. Illustrated - or not - with visual aids.
* Girls showing tits for money
(I do have some more appropriate images, but I thought a picture of John Wayne would be more...manly. Besides, this is a family blog. Anyone who's "family" can read it.)
* Mr Oogie Boogie
* erasing the past
* time travel
* cpgb (Communist Party of Great Britain)
(I may have over-represented their numbers here.)
* dragosea din te esperanto
* im just a poor boy duo
(Alternative caption: Malfunction! Malfunction!)
* beyond money
* bein pensant
There might have been more, but for computer problems.
"There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't."
Six months ago I invented something in a dream. Quite literally.
I was dreaming about problems with filesharing on home servers - which gives you some idea just how interesting my dreams are. And I thought...
"There has to be something easier than spending days setting up a server, breaking large files into chunks small enough to avoid timeouts, and queueing them manually. Like maybe a program which reads requests for files sent by email, then splits the files as needed, and sends them off to the requester's inbox, staggering the sends so as not to overload it. And a similar program monitoring the reciever's email, sending confirms and putting the files back together automatically as received."
I woke up, spent a day working on the details, then decided (a) it would take time and skills I don't really have to develop and (b) its use would be marginal anyway.
But maybe it wasn't such a dumb idea after all. Because someone else has already developed it. It's called Peer2Mail.
My theory of songs continues to develop. I can't seem to manage all-encompassing obsession these days, which I rather miss. There was a time - two decades ago, I admit - when I'd stay up all night and spend most of the day reading and thinking about something esoteric, for weeks at a time, not caring that everyone thought I was weird.
I still don't care they think I'm weird - in fact I rather like it. But the attention span's gone. Or the obsession. I want my obsession back.
Anyway, I was wrong about syllable stress. So long as you only sing monosyllables, it's a simple matter to fit your sung version of your spoken sentence intonation to the weak and strong beats of the music.
I think there's at least eight ways to sing "One more kiss dear" over four beats.
But once you start using polysyllables...it gets a whole lot more complicated - with three (or possibly four) levels of syllable stress which have to fit, not only with the weak-strong pattern of the semibreve, but the weaker weak-strong pattern of the minim too.
To put it another way: There's only two ways to sing "Happy Birthday Mister President" without mangling your intonation. And no one wants their intonation mangled.
This week's guilty musical pleasure: Chinese Theatre.
A Swedish female synthpop duo - so not chinese or theatrical. Somewhere between Erasure and Ladytron.
Ever-so-slightly cheesey retro electroclash (retroclash?) you can admit to liking on your blog, but not in real life.
Half my brain says I should get Twitter.
The other half says I should spend some time away from computers.
The third half says I'm not so good at maths.
Saturday was meant to be a day for travelling up to London, being political in the street, then discussing more politics in a big hall, then somehow getting home and dissecting the day's politics in a pub.
Instead, it was a day for sleeping through two alarm clocks and missing the coach.
There was a choice of evening entertainment. Either spend an hour in the cold outside receiving enthusiastic but inexpert oral sex...or two hours in a warm pub. With a different kind of oral pleasure.
Guess which I had? Yes. I must be getting old.
Working on my Song Theory - and after the latest revision, I've calculated there are eighteen different ways to phrase "I Love You", in 4/4 time.
Not counting those that have the same pattern but half (double, quarter etc.) the speed, those which differ only in note lengths but not note start position, and those which are theoretically possible but leave absurdly long gaps between words.
And I'm just talking about phrasing and rhythm - not melody. Details if/when I'm pretty sure I'm not going to change my mind the next day.
Speaking of minds, have you ever thought about how misleading the term "mental illness" is?
It's a metaphor, obviously. Measles is an illness, so mental illness is...like measles of the mind. Scrofula of the soul. A cold in the nose of the unconscious.
No, it doesn't make any sense at all, when you think about it. Whatever "Mental
But then, it's not really like a demon using you as a sock puppet either. The right metaphor doesn't seem to exist yet.
I once had an argument with a gaggle of trainee nuns...over whether a mind could be produced "within" a brain with no body attached. They insisted that there would be thoughts, even though there would be nothing to have thoughts about.
Back in the land of sanity...Mother is knitting me some shoes.
Well, slippers actually. And jackets for everyone. And hats. So I know exactly what I'm getting for christmas.
"Sitting in a classroom doesn't make you a student, any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car."
- Me, apparently
I am one step closer to becoming my hero, Dr Gregory House.
Having somehow managed to fall upstairs and gained some bruises in surprising parts of the left foot, I'm walking around with the help of a stick.
I'm just waiting for someone to ask me what happened, so I can tell them my Hallux has turned purple. But I'm using my long knobbly pole as a third leg.
Politics on Saturday. Anti-Climate Change demo in London, and a conference on "what have socialists been doing wrong for the last three decades, and what should we be doing now?".
That's not the official title, but it's what we'll be discussing.
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to invent a "Song Theory". I don't mean a theory of "How to Write Songs", I mean a theory of the purely musical aspects of songs - as opposed to imagery in lyrics, fashions of subject matter, choice of instrumental backing etc.
Put it another way. Some songs are catchy, some less so, some aren't. What, at the level of tonality and rhythm, makes the difference?
When we say a song sounds like a nursery rhyme, or has an "Irish" feel to it, or makes us think of the sixties...what are we actually talking about?
What is it in the rhythmic and tonal structure of a song by The Temptations that makes it different from a song by Duran Duran?
I'm on my third such theory - the previous two having come crashing to the ground when (a) I tried to apply them or (b) I heard something on the radio that instantly disproved them. But here's some general remarks. Skip if music theory baffles you.
* Most songs are pentatonic. Specifically, their "comfort zone" is the tonic, medial, subdominant, dominant and leading note below of the key used. If you're singing in A-Minor, your "home" notes are G, A, C, D and E. If you stray outside these notes, you'll almost certainly stay pentatonic, but in adjacent octaves.
* If your time signature revolves around 2, 4, 8 or 16, there is a pattern of "Strong-Weak-Strong-Weak" in the beats. More than that, there's the same pattern in breves, minims, crotches and quavers. If your time signature involves 3, 6, or 12 (or uses triplets) the pattern is "Strong-Very Weak-Weak". There is therefore a fractal pattern to stress.
* The immensely complex four level stress pattern of English sentence intonation is flattened into a two level system when singing.
* Time boundaries between lines, phrases and verses may be sharply defined, by phrasing boundaries are not. If each bar is divided into sixteen ticks, then for any given bar, the final two ticks of the previous bar and the first tick of the subsequent bar can be part of that bar, as well as part of their own, for purposes of phrasing.
In principle, it should be possible to write a computer program that could generate a song - minus the lyrics - that (say) Jimmy Somerville could have written...but didn't. In other words, I'm talking about codifying style.
I have a new bedside book. It's the Bagavad Gita.
A street evangelist gave it to me. Not the kind of evangelist who stands in the street and preaches at the top of his voice - the kind who approaches shoppers with a clipboard and asks them loaded questions.
We spoke for twenty minutes, but here's the short version:
Evangelist: Are you happy in your spiritual life?
Kapitano: Which religion are you selling?
Evangelist: We're not part of any religion. We follow the teachings of Prabhupada.
Kapitano: So you're Hare Krishnas.
Evangelist: Yes. We want to bring about a spiritual awakening of all mankind, one person at a time.
Kapitano: So you want to change the social, economic and political structure of the world by abstracting large numbers of individuals away from it. But how can you change human consciousness without first changing the the material conditions in which it develops?
Evangelist: Once our numbers reach a critical mass, society will change.
Kapitano: But won't societal and economic pressures prevent sufficient numbers becoming enlightened?
Evangelist: People come to enlightenment in small stages. With each stage, the society around them changes, permitting progression to the next stage. Even if a person stalls at one stage, they'll still be happier.
Kapitano: So what distinguishes Hare Krishna from Scientologists, Christians, Jevohis Witnesses and all the other groups making the same promise?
Evangelist: I should speak to other people. Enjoy the book.
I asked if there was a Krishna analysis of the recent events in Mombai, the recession or drug addiction - of course there wasn't, because HC is all about personal happiness and isn't concerned with real issues or money.
The young fellow came close to losing his cool when I admitted I had no cash with me for the purely voluntary donation.
Perhaps I should have mentioned the use of HC as a front for drug smuggling.
A day out with C. It was bitingly cold outside, so we browsed a series of warm shops and drank tea in their cafes.
Sometimes it's nice to cheer up a depressed friend - to be an ear for listening and a shoulder to cry on. But it's also much nicer to find your friend isn't depressed - in fact he's manically sparkling and full of life and wit.
And is going to spend the weekend in Paris, about which I'm not remotely jealous, oh no.
Why didn't I get into LastFM sooner? It's udderly brilliant - better than Pandora is/was. In two days I've been introduced to a hundred new bands, and loved just about all.
Now I just need to become a millionaire to hear them all above 128kbps.
What's this called?
You spend a day sorting through hundreds of data backup CDRs and DVDRs, copying the still-useful files to hard drive for later reburning, and throwing away the out-of-date and duplicated discs, in what started as an attempt to find one single file. After which, you conclude that you've (a) got hundreds of gigabytes of barely catalogued stuff, and (b) lost the one file you were looking for. But at least you you tidied up a bit
And then you notice a large cardboard box that's been sitting unnoticed, at the bottom of a stack with four others. It's been there for over a year, it's quietly slipped out of your memory since you stopped tripping over it...and it's labeled "Misc Discs". It's also very full.
Nevermind - on the plus side, I think I know what to do for my thousandth post.
I am once again officially unemployed. Or "looking for work" as the bureaucrats say. The whole process took only two hours of waiting and five minutes of box ticking.
They provided one job to apply for - administrator for a military college with no history or description...except a central office in Cardiff.
Yes, that's right. It's Torchwood.
I went to a party last night, got drunk with a nice gay boy, and went home cheesy.
Okay, it was one of those frightfully polite finger buffets and socialisation opportunities for the local community. How local? The inhabitants of one street.
It was so polite no one wanted to be seen to eat too much of the mountain of food provided. So I did the decent thing and ate it. And everyone was too polite to tell me I was being a pig.
I may be in spitting distance of forty, but I was the second youngest there. The youngest...I see you're there ahead of me. He was there with his boyfriend - and the three of us talked computers in a corner, drinking the red wine that may (or may not) have been intended as a raffle prize.
The whole thing ended at ten thirty, when the over seventies, saying it was way past their bedtime, left to sleep, unsteadily full of wine. Leaving behind half a dozen unopened packets of extremely strong buffet cheese.
And that's why all my next week's meals will feature gorgonzola.
I must develop some secrets so I can post them on PostSecret. That's the easy bit - the hard bit will be in not linking to them from here. Which would kind of miss the whole point.
Besides, I'd also have to become unhappy, as opposed to just exasperated.
This is post number 992. I should think up something a bit special for 1000.
Passing a phone box, I noticed someone had carefully graffiti'd inside:
Someone called Luke (or Louis K?) has died? And this is a friend's spontaneous eulogy? If so, I've been to a few funerals where family members said flattering things about the one in the box, but these words seemed one hell of a lot more genuine.
Unless Lou K is a soap character who's been retired, or a pop star who's gone to jail, or a "viral" advert for a game, in which case it's demeaning junk.
If my hot date tomorrow turns out to be an axe murderer, I'd prefer to be remembered in graffiti - if possible in full view of people who're offended by its presence.
My hot date was not an axe murderer.
Axe murderers don't cancel. Humph.
Met a nice young man. He's smart, cute, informed...and having experimented with gay sex once and enjoyed it...doesn't feel the need to try it again.
Met a nice young man. He's smart, cute, informed...and has a boyfriend.
My gay sometime fuckbuddy is spending the day exhausted in bed. I didn't ask what exhausted him.
My straight sometime fuckbuddy is...drunk.
I think I'm starting to see a pattern here.
Friday Update Update:
After spending the day in bed, my gay sometime fuckbuddy was no longer exhausted.
Though now he is again. Heh heh heh.
11)My two earliest memories are of my mother, teaching me to swim, and teaching me algebra.
I'm not much good at either.
12) I have a masters degree, a bachelors degree, most of a computing HND, one third of a theology degree, five A-Levels, fourteen GCSEs, miscellaneous computing qualifications...and a teacher's certificate for ESL.
Only the last has ever been useful, though getting the others was a fun excuse for learning about completely different things.
13) I'm always interested in a subject least when I'm supposed to be studying it.
At seventeen I was supposed to be studying for exams in computing - but discovered ancient Greek philosophy, which was much more interesting. At 21 I was supposed to be studying for exams in the ancient Greek world - but discovered molecular biology, which was much more interesting.
14) The greatest single failure of the British school system was in not teaching me any languages.
I got interested in linguistics after learning Esperanto after (a) spending six weeks getting nowhere learning German and (b) not-quite having an affair with an Esperantist I met through an interest in twentieth century English Literature - which I'd got through accidentally seeing a stage play on late night TV, while looking for sounds to sample for making music.
I'd sell half my life to regain that feeling of constant mindblowing discovery,
15) I always feel like either the smartest person in the room...or the dumbest.
Sometimes in the same minute.
"Pissed on a girl and she liked it
Taste of urea from dick
Pissed in her mouth just to try it
'Cos my girlfriend don't like it
That jet so long
It smells so ripe
My bladder's empty tonight
Sprayed on her face and she liked it
She liked it"
- Me, in a lapse of good taste, on YouTube.
How many meanings can you think of for "Blow Off"? I've got five:
1) "I like to blow the froth off my beer" - literal and uncomplicated. You blow, the froth goes off.
2) "I ask politely, but they just blow me off" - to dismiss. Mainly American, but may be in declining use, thanks to...
3) "Blow me off, bitch!" - the ancient art of languolipal phallostimulation.
4) "The bomb blew off at six" - not often used now.
5) "Yuk! Did you just blow off?" - to fart!
"Blow on" is easier, with two:
1) "Blow on the fire to make it brighter"
2) "Don't stop blowing - blow on" - I bet you didn't think of that one :-).
"Blow in" also has two literal meanings:
1) "I'll huff and and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in"
2) "Blow in the breathalyser, please"
"Blow out" manages four:
1) "The explosion blows out the windows"
2) "We spent all the money on one big blow out" - in general, a spending spree, but more specifically a large expensive meal.
3) "The tyre had a blow out" - so you got caught with a flat, well...how 'bout that.
4) "Suck the air in...and blow it out"
Who invented this language? Obviously not someone with a flair for simplicity.
Thank goodness we don't say things like "Let's blow this joint", "I'm just blown away", "A blow to the head" and "Chances blown"...otherwise English would be completely unspeakable.
It's been a while since I signed on as unemployed, and there's been some changes. This is the new procedure:
1) Go to the jobcentre. In my case this means first finding the old offices are empty and the whole operation has been moved to the other side of town - in a building due to be demolished in a year.
2)Ask about making a new claim at Reception, which is now called "Welcome".
3) Get given a phone number to call.
4) Call the number all day every day till you get through. Try not to go mad as the same thirty second bit of Handel's Water Music is played on infinite loop.
5) Give them your details. You won't know which details they'll want till they want them.
6) They will arrange an interview. It will be in the building where you got the phone number. It will consist mostly of them threatening you. Be calm, confident, overly polite and unflappable - it completely ruins their day.
7) Go to the meeting and get given a stack of paper to fill out.
8) Take them home to complete. Possibly the only questions which apply to you will be Name and DOB.
9) Take the forms back and hand them in.
10) Wait five days. If you haven't received any notification, telephone them.
11) Repeat 10 until you appear on the system. Or civilisation falls.
I'm at state 4. There's a possibility I'll have work before stage 5.
Mother has retired.
You're a blogger. How long would you put up with fellow bloggers you barely know demanding you teach them how to format text? And teach them again, and again, because it's "too difficult" and they're "too busy with more important things". Before blaming you when they accidentally post a page of asterisks?
Imagine you're a chef. You get a steady stream of rank amateurs through your kitchen, all wanting you to do their cooking for them, because it's all too complicated. They do this while you're trying to run the kitchen, they can't learn to cook themselves because it's "boring", and besides they've got you to do it for them.
Now imagine you're an expert in computers, and my mother. You've just spent a solid fortnight doing skilled work for which the going rate is at least GBP20 per hour - for the vague promise of a drink sometime. You've spent two weeks patiently listening to things like this:
* "It says 'Enter password'. What does it want me to do?"
* "It came with a book of instructions but I didn't understand it so I threw it away. Why? Is it important?"
* "No it's definitely Windows 96."
* "I've never used passwords, not ever, for anything. You must have put that one in - why can't you remember it?"
* "Why don't you ask the email why you can't make it connect to the web?"
* "Oh you mean those passwords. You should have said so! Why didn't you ask me? Yes, I use them for everything."
Idiots are one thing. Lazy idiots who try to make smart people do their thinking and learning for them...they're something else. And they seem to constitute 98% of humanity.
My mother, god bless her, has after too many years finally told them all to fuck off.
She's spent a happy day fixing up one of her own computers, with my occasional help.
Tonight I did half an hour of aerobics to Star Trek. Followed by an hour of being dizzy and shattered.
The realisation that (a) I'll be 37 in January, (b) my hot date on Wednesday is a lot thinner than me and (c) all my fat friends are losing weight...has prompted action.
Worries about health? They come a poor second to shallow fears of aging and rejection.
Obi Wan Kebobi once asked, "Who is more foolish - the fool or the fool who follows him?".
Three decades later, it's become "Who's the bigger idiot - the inept email scammer or their victim?". Yep, it's the dupe.
I find scams quite entertaining. Here's one I got today:
Failure to authenticate your account may result in account malfunction, slow online experience or even exposure of sensible data.
Oh no! Not my sensible data!
One vaguely interesting story on the TV news: 19 year old Justin Biggs suicided on live webcam.
The interesting thing is not that a teenager killed themselves - strangers do that every day and only their loved ones care, so it's simply hypocritical for people uninvolved to get upset over this one case.
Nor that he did it publicly - jumpers from bridges and buildings do the same thing to give their suicide-gesture some meaning. The interesting thing is the tone of the reportage and consequent net chatter.
The reporter took on the traditional sanctimonious tone, claiming that no one watching did anything to stop him, while some encouraged him, made jokes or dismissed the whole thing as a hoax.
Take a step back for a moment and think. Is it actually true that no one tried to dissuade him?
Very unlikely - the journalist is almost certainly lying to make the story more sensational. In other words, they're doing their job. It also allows the news viewers to make clucking noises about "people today" - something they love doing.
If you tuned in and saw Bigg's cast, would you suspect it was a hoax, a prank or a publicity stunt? Yes, of course you would, unless you were incredibly naive. And if some viewers decided it was a hoax, wouldn't they mock it? Some certainly would - stunts and viral marketing are so self-important they deserve mockery.
As for those who gave encouragement, some will have been mocking, some saying they supported his right to self-determination, and some will be the usual crowd who gather and shout "Jump!" whenever someone threatens to throw themselves off a skyscraper. Unpleasant maybe, but hardly a new phenomenon - and obviously irrelevant to the internet, no matter what forced link the reporter tries to suggest.
You may ask: What would I do if someone on a webcam I was watching announced they were going to kill themselves...and then seemed to do it.
I can give you an answer, because that's exactly what happened to me, several years ago.
A guy of about 18 (I forget his name if I ever knew it) typed that he was so fed up being gay and bullied that he was going to cut his wrists and bleed to death live on cam.
I thought instantly that he was just trying to get attention, but just in case I was wrong, tried to talk him out of it. No one else was watching or contributing, just me and him.
He must have spent half an hour listing his troubles - from "my parents hate me" and "I'm too stupid to finish school" to "I'll never get a boyfriend because I've got a fat arse" and "I'm ugly".
I'm not much good at pep talks, so I tried honesty - he was obviously smart, capable, and indeed cute. But he was having none of it, and went to get a large carving knife, which he waved angrily at the camera before bending double and appearing to hack at both wrists.
It was at this point I because absolutely certain that it was a sham. The cuts were shallow and horizontal across the heels of his palms, not deep and vertical as would been needed to cause life-threatening bleeding. More importantly, the blood was suspiciously red...and the tube of tomato ketchup in the background had gone missing.
However, just in case my oh-so-cynical nature was distorting my judgement, I played along, notching up my positively spun honesty.
He stopped suddenly, told me he was an acting major, explained that he just wanted to test how good his acting was, apologised for upsetting me...and logged off.
Though he did say the bit about hating his fat arse was true.
The right to show your face entails the right to hide it, the right to forgive entails the right to hold a grudge, and the right to go on living entails the right to end your life - provided you're in a fit state to make the decision.
This to me seems uncomplicated and obvious, but the constantly repeated assertion that Justin Biggs was "manic-depressive" or "disturbed" seems to cut through the principle by showing he wasn't in any fit rational state.
However, these labels obscure rather than clarify the issue. "Disturbed" can mean anything from "traumatised by longterm abuse" or "in a desperate situation" to "having a funny five minutes" or "deeply eccentric".
"Manic-depressive" has become a label thrown about for anyone who has mood swings (ie. everyone) or strong emotions (ie. anyone). If it ever meant anything, in popular usage it's now joined "Social Anxiety Disorder", "SAD", "Asperger's Syndrome" and "Multiple Personalities" on the shelf of medical sounding conditions that could apply to the entire human species.
I have absolutely no idea why this man decided to exercise his right to kill himself. But tutting over the reactions of onlookers while salaciously wallowing in the details yourself is not a helpful response. And neither is trying to increase government censorship of the internet in the guise of pretending to protect the helpless.
Thanks to the youtubes - which are like the internets but with porn movies instead of porn pictures - I now know how to do the Michael Jackson Moonwalk, the MC Hammer Running Man, and the Melbourne Shuffle.
In roughly the same way as I know how to play the piano, build a brick wall, and organise the workers of the world to socialist revolution.
Did you know Arab men airkiss?
If two male friends haven't seen each other for a few months - especially following Ramadan and Eed - they miss-kiss on the cheek three times. Left-right-left, just like Eddie and Patsie.
I like that.
It looks like it's time for me to refresh the computer and reinstall Windows again. A raft of driver updates have - as they often do - managed to bugger up the sound and display. And removing them just makes things worse.
However, thanks to (a) my special homebrewed minimal version of XP and (b) most of the software being portable (around half made that way by yours truly)...it should take half an hour.
Unless something goes wrong in which case...see you sometime tomorrow.
I'd like to ask your opinion, if I may. I've just written the song below. Can you tell me if it's (a) a touching message of hope , (b) a mawkish and silly bit of trash or (c) something else - please specify.
Be honest. Because...I honestly don't know.
Hands full, mind empty
Had no dreams since the age of twenty
You used to play, you used to sing
But the job won't leave you time for anything
No voice, sight unseen
Made no demands since the age of nineteen
You used to love, you used to run
But the child won't let you be with anyone
Time gone by won't come again for you
(Want it back, want it all back)
Youth got lost so fast you feel it's true
(You want it back, you want it all back)
One more chance that's all you really need
(Try again, do it all again)
To live, to start, to start to live and succeed
Break out, don't care how
Don't know why but it's got to be now
It's not a choice, it's not a sin
Making one big gamble and you're going all in
New name, new zipcode
Left one path and you made a new road
No one to blame, no guarantees
But the child starts to laugh, it's like it used to be
You know what I've found I like doing?
Boogieing, jiving, raving, moshing, stomping, shaking, trancing, grooving, funking, jumping...Dancing.
I'm horrifically bad at it, but I really like doing it. And no you can't have a video.
There are some TV shows I get hooked on for a while. Stargate SG1 (but not Stargate Atlantis), The Avengers (but not Danger Man), The X-Files (but not Lost), the various incarnations of Star Trek (but not Space Presinct, Dune or Supernatural)
Sometimes it lasts 4 or 5 episodes (Odyssey 5, Heroes, Millenium), sometimes one season (Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda, Buffy), and sometimes till cancellation (Star Cops, Max Headroom). Mutant X and Angel I didn't try at all.
The latest is Fringe - essentially The X-Files reborn after the second movie flopped.
There's the same combination of paranoia, gore and staggeringly bad science, the same unconsumated sexual tension between the leads, the same shadowy benefactors who can't be trusted.
But there's two differences. The X-Files features two agents nominally part of the government but in practice independant, investigating bizarre happenings that link back to that government, which proves to be the real enemy.
In Fringe, we have two agents (and their pet mad scientist) loyally obeying the government to investigate bizarre happenings, which lead to the real enemy...multinational corporations.
Part anticapitalist, part just the opposite. Paranoid about one side of the coin, trusting in the other - covered by a token suspicion.
I've only seen three episodes, so it may change, but the politics of the show seem as confused and revealing as its science. You may say the tacit political assumptions of dumb sci-fi aren't important - though you may not say that about 24 or Felix - but it tells us something about how the target audiance has changed since Fox Mulder wanted to believe in flying saucers.
Today's discovery: You can make sauces with soya milk.
Remember I said I was good with sauces? I threw together a little mushrooms-in-peppery-white-sauce-on-toast snack, only to find at the last moment the milk gone...with only strange smelling soya stuff remaining. So with tepidation I tried it.
It thickens up nicely, quickly and smoothly, but I was expecting a disaster - rather like that time I tried to use olive oil instead of butter.
But it worked pretty well. The mystery is why it wasn't a disaster.
Guess what I did tonight? Go on, bet you can't possibly guess.
Oh, you guessed.
6) I've been deeply in love just once, with a brilliant guy who was too ashamed and closeted to say yes. A year later he found the man of his dreams. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
I hooked up with two guys on the rebound. The first said he wanted a bit of fun with no strings, but what he actually wanted was a longterm monogamous relationship.
The second jumped eagerly into a relationship, then changed his mind but didn't know how to say he'd done it. We were both on the rebound, which is a particularly bad formula for happiness.
7) When you've been deeply, totally in love, I don't think you ever fall completely out of it. Unless of course it turns to hate, but I've never experienced that.
What is it about straight couples, when they split up, they seem determined to spend the next year vocally hating each other? Especially married couples.
Heterosexuals are weird. I'd never be one.
8) Sometimes the best way to find someone as a friend is to lose them as a lover. The reverse seems not to hold.
That happened with second rebound fellow - a good friend and quite wise. I keep meaning to visit him again, in his new home with his new boyfriend.
9) On two occasions, I've told someone I loved them because they said they loved me and I didn't want to disappoint them. The results were painful.
You'd think, after the first time, I'd know not to do it. Especially as the first time ended in bankruptcy, lots of shouting, and bits of flying glass.
10) I think it's very easy to live without the love of a life partner, and impossible to live without the love of close friends.
Why do people find it hard to believe I'm happy being single? Sometimes a fondness for stringless sex is not a search for true love in disguise.
Feel free to skip this post, if you're not interested in murder mysteries, or my slightly long musings on their puzzles.
There is the obligatory salacious footnote: I came up with all this walking around town for an hour after being stood up for a conjugal appointment. So there.
How many murder mystery puzzles are there? And why can't I think of one that hasn't been done hundreds of times before?
And while we're thinking about it, is there some way I can map out the puzzles in a way that'll let me explore the less-used outer reaches, or come up with one by throwing a few dice?
I reckon the basic structure of the puzzle is: Death X is disguised as Death Y by action Z. For instance:
- Murder of A is disguised as Murder of B by C switching the bodies.
- Murder of A is disguised as suicide by C placing a pistol in the hand.
- Suicide of A is disguised as death by natural causes by C faking the medical history.
Now, I think there are six basic types of death, one for each side of the (appropriately named) die. Here's descriptions and examples.
1) Murder - one person deliberately killing another, or through inaction allowing them to die.
- Shooting someone who's about to shoot you. Justifiable homicide or self defence.
- Not telling someone that a third party has poisoned their food.
- A doctor deliberately injecting so much pain medication that it stops a terminally ill patient breathing. Mercy killing.
2) Manslaughter - one person accidentally killing another.
- Punching someone in the jaw, leading to subddural heamatoma.
- Inducing a heart attack by taking someone on a fairground ride.
- A pharmacist providing the wrong pills.
3) Suicide - someone deliberately killing themselves, or letting themselves die.
- Wristcutting in a hot bath.
- A patient refusing blood transfusions on religious grounds, knowing it'll kill them.
- A prisoner on hunger strike for too long.
4) Suislaughter - someone accidentally killing themselves. I haven't been able to find a single word for this, so I invented a portmanteau for it - if you can think of a better one, please tell me.
- Making two drinks, one poisoned, to drink with the victim, then getting confused and drinking the wrong one. This is attempted murder, gone wrong.
- Overdosing on a recreational drug.
- Falling from a roof.
5) Biology - death from natural causes, inside the victim's own body.
- Death from illness
- Old age
- Heart attack
6) Nature - death from natural causes external to the victim.
- Struck by lightning
- An out of control plane crashing into your place of work.
This list is not the only alternative, nor does it cover every possibility.
Feeding alcohol to an alcoholic until it kills them could be considered murder, manslaughter through reckless negligence, or even assisted accidental suicide. Eating poisonous wild mushrooms could be Suislaughter, Nature or Biology.
The Biology and Nature categories could be merged, and you might chose to disregard the deliberate/accidental distinction. Russian roulette could justifiably be placed in four of the six categories, killing an unborn child to save the mother would technically be considered murder here, and war crimes are different again.
However, I'm not trying to create a perfect classification of death, just a working method for generating detective mystery puzzles.
In a murder mystery, the manner and/or cause of death is disguised. Some examples:
- Murder disguised as Suislaughter. The tightrope of a daredevil walker is made wet and slippery.
- Suislaughter disguised as Murder or induced Suicide. After someone dies is a housefire caused by their smoking in bed, someone else claims to have found a stack of poison pen letters that drove the victim to kill themselves.
- Biology disguised as Murder. Following a natural heart attack, the victim is injected with belladonna and the syringe "hidden" where it will be found. A convenient death is used to frame a third party for murder.
- One Murder disguised as another. C framing D for a murder committed by E, in the mistaken belief that F is the killer.
- One Suicide disguised as another. Changing a suicide note to suggest a different motive.
- Suicide disguised as Suislaughter. A husband and wife run a swingers club. She comes home to find he's hanged himself. She changes the scene to make it look like auto-erotic asphyxiation, to avoid damaging the business.
The above gives a six-by-six grid of possibilities. But there's a third factor - the act of disguising.
1) The victim, deliberately.
- Someone arranges their own suicide to implicate an enemy.
2) The victim, accidentally.
- The murderee misidentifies their masked killer, and scratches the name on a desk before dying.
3) The killer, deliberately.
- The killer, a nonsmoker, leaves behind a half smoked cigar, implicating a cigar-smoker.
4) The killer, accidentally.
- The killer fakes a suicide note. The fraud is easily detected, but his misspells several words, leading suspicion to fall on a dyslexic person.
6) A third party, accidentally.
- The group of ramblers who discover the body destroy the killer's footprints with their own.
5) A third party, deliberately.
- The ramblers destroy the footprints, but the one who suggested the route did so deliberately to protect the killer.
- False confession from a mentally disturbed resident.
- The victim's hemophilia gives a wrong time of death. This could in principle also apply to the victim accidentally obscuring the facts, if you prefer.
- A corpse has been buried on one kind of soil for thirty years. The killer digs it up a reburies it in different soil, in the garden of the person who's just accused them of the old murder. The differences in soil confuse the forensics.
Obviously in the case of Suicide and Suislaugher, the killer and the victim are the same person - unless the killer has driven the victim to suicide.
The third party isn't just innocent bystanders or someone protecting the killer - it could be the police, the forensics team, or the detective themselves.
Now, I've got these eight categories, some rather esoteric (eg. the victim conspiring to cover up the circumstances of their own murder) and some overlapping (Biology and Nature blur together where corpses are concerned). And what I really want is six categories. Just so they can be selected by rolling dice. Yeah, alright.
So here's the shoehorned version:
1) Victim accidentally.
2) Victim deliberately, or their biology.
3) Killer deliberately
4) Killer accidentally, or a natural event or fact.
5) Third party deliberately
6) Third party accidentally.
If you want inspiration for the basic structure of a murder mystery, roll a die three times, and there it is.
Of course, none of this says anything about clues, motives or processes of detection. That's for another time.
Inspired by Leah, I've decided to tell you 100 things about me. In installments, and with annotations.
So, here's part one.
1) I'm overweight, because I'm something of a glutton. I try not to be, but I don't try very hard.
I find it very easy to not start eating. But once I've started, I just want to keep on doing it.
I think it would be great if a person's whole body had tastebuds, inside and out. I could taste food as it goes down, and the enhanced sense of touch would be astonishing.
2) I'm very good at sauces and pastry, and completely useless at cooking anything else.
I like cooking curries, but my parents hate the smell.
3) I didn't get drunk till age 24. This was on vodka, provide by some obliging Polish students. The event is on videotape, including the bit where I lay on the floor yelling "sit on my face".
I prefer red wine to white, don't like beer, drink guinness when I need to drink slowly, and like spirits - which get me drunk very quickly.
4) I'm not sure I actually like tea - it's just sort of comforting to have a cup of it there. I definitely don't like liqouriche or raw tomatoes.
I've a theory that when you eat a whole bar of chocolate one piece at a time, with each piece you're trying to recapture the first, but it's never as good, so you try again till it's all gone, and then feel disapponinted.
5) I've got so used to watching TV while eating, that each feels incomplete without the other.
"UNSAFE SEXUAL PRACTICES IS BEYOND EVIL"
- Troll "Austrev" responding to me on Nightcharm
I can now reveal that my sometime employer has four hundred and nineteen cassette tapes. They took five hours to catalog and seven pages to list - not counting the twenty with absolutely nothing written on them.
I don't think I'm cut out to be a novelist. I'm a short story writer. Or maybe a flasher.
But not a slasher. And there's no way I'm het.
What? Oh stop it. You people see double meanings in everything.
Anyway, I wonder if I could try that old trick of bundling together a set of short stories with overlapping events and characters...and calling it a novel. Might work.
My dystopian detective story/surreal romance/Beckett-Gibson-Christie mashup...has foundered on the rocks of being too bloody complicated. And probably a bit pretentious.
In answer to the question, "What kind of man do you like?", answer "Geekiness is my weakiness".
The next time someone asks me about my taste in men...I shall recall only that I'd previously thought of a witty answer, but not what it was.
What's the best way to lose weight?
Let me rephrase that. Given that starvation doesn't work, liposuction is expensive, amphetamines are hard to get and emigration to Mozambique might be considered overkill...how can a man in his thirties, with a low boredom threshold and not much money, become slimmer in a way that isn't painful or crushingly dull?
Cycling's good - though there's nowhere I need to cycle to. Jogging maybe - I know a daily jogger...in the, um, biblical sense. Dancing's good, though I have at least three left feet.
I don't suppose a reduction in chocolate consumption would help? Hmm. How much is liposuction?
"He shitting! Shitting all time! Tell him stop!"
- Student mispronouncing "Cheating"
Good News: I've been in demand at work - full time all week.
Bad News: They don't actually want me there, but there's no one else available with the computer skills.
There's been an inspection coming for the last three months, so like all organised businesses everywhere, they waited till the week before the inspectors arrive to start getting things...inspectable.
In my case that means two days painting the walls to make them look less cracked, and three cataloguing four hundred or so textbooks - so the inspectors can spend five seconds flicking through the database and tick the appropriate box.
Good News: With all this work, I'm racking up the wages.
Bad News: They haven't got around to paying me for last week, nevermind this one.
Good News: There's even more paid work to be done.
Bad News: It has to be done on Sunday.
Good News: Someone wants to give me a blowjob at midnight.
Bad News: I've got a stubborn headache from a week of staring at a screen. So not feeling especially sexy.
Good News: Someone wants to give me a deep, long, wet blowjob at midnight!
Bad News: He's just cancelled.
Good news: Should be meeting C tomorrow, for a day of romantic strolls, sinful food and camp banter.
Bad News: ...actually, none.
"Why you like Obama? Him black and you white."
- Politically astute student.
Monday. I'm depressed.
Well, I'm annoyed, pissed off, irritated, preoccupied, unhappy, hopeless, listless, hurt, resentful and bored. But mostly, depressed.
Someone once said "Depression is anger without enthusiasm" - perhaps in the same way as chatter is communication without information, psychoanalysis is friendship without obligation, romance is seduction without harassment...and blogging is journalism without circulation. I reckon they were right.
Am I depressed because one single student doesn't like me? Or because the boss is a bit of knob sometimes? Because the plot of my NaNoWriMo turns out to be unfeasibly complicated and possibly doesn't make sense?
Because I'm a fat old queen approaching 40, I'm stuck in this armpit of a town that at every point in it's history "used to be a good place", and all the good things worth fighting for seem hopeless causes?
Or is it just these things are getting to me now because the weather is cold, grey and rainy?
Probably the latter.
Every subject is interesting until it's your livelihood. Or to put it another way, as someone else once said, "We can do any amount of work, so long as it's not the work we're supposed to be doing."
Tuesday. I'm covered in paint.
After being called in to substitute for a teacher who turned out not to need substituting for, I was asked to help out in school redecoration.
So I painted the stairs magnolia, and then I painted the coffee room magnolia, and then I started to paint the kitchen magnolia. Tomorrow I continue to paint the kitchen magnolia, and then, if there's time, paint the staff room magnolia.
The Saudi students were amazed - in Saudi Arabia teaching is only done by highly paid professionals, and painting only by starving Indian immigrants who get beaten up on the street.
Oh, I also answered the phones for an hour. I'm not sure who does that in Saudi, but judging from the Embassy, no one does.
"You touch me now?"
- Student, mispronouncing "teach"
I'm being sidelined at work and I find it difficult to care.
I met my replacement today - not that she's being called that. There's just somehow not enough work to employ me more than two hours a week, but enough to employ someone else for eight. She's a nice person - as were the other three who were dumped when I joined.
Actually I do care, but only about the money.
I'm feeling ill and headachy - not so ill and headachy that I can't do stuff, just so ill and headachy that I can't so it well enough to be worth doing. If you see what I mean.
And that's my excuse for not writing. Everyone needs an excuse, but no one needs a good one.
Oh, I had sex again. In a garage again.
Just thought I'd mention it, again.
Sat with mother watching Victor/Victoria. She chuckled through it, enjoying the gay jokes - and I cringed a little every time she did it.
Exactly why it should be uncomfortable that mother no longer hates my being gay, I'm not sure. But, for whatever twisted reasons, it is.
It was so much easier years ago, when she was screeching idiocies and trying to make me admit it was all a mistake. Possibly because when she argued about it I could always win.
It was okay when she pathologically avoided any TV show or magazine article or topic of conversation that hinted at the existence of gay people - because it was just like the screeching, but silent.
Now, I'm the one who avoids the shows and topics. Like I say, twisted reasons.
Still, nevermind. At least my father's still an idiot.
The President of the world's greatest power is a black man, the sky is exploding, and my youth is in ashes.
The three actually have nothing to do with each other, but nevermind.
Barack Obama won the American elections by a landslide - or if you prefer, the whackjobs, morons and hate addicts who took over the Republican party have pissed off the voters big time.
Odd how Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell weren't civil rights victories. Soon we'll see whether the "change you can believe in" is more about change or belief.
The results happened to be announced on the day the UK celebrates a past attempt to remove a hated and corrupt government by blowing it up - hence the fireworks and exploding sky outside my window.
Actually, we're supposed to celebrate the fact that the attempt failed and the plotters executed, but somehow that detail isn't what captures our imagination.
We light big bonfires to mark the anniversary - though our own hated and corrupt government has chosen to protect our safety by outlawing bonfires on public highways. Perhaps they think someone somewhere will dump a ton of twigs on a road and set fire to it, as part of a terrorist plot, I don't know.
Anyway, there's a bonfire in my parent's garden, where thousands (and thousands) of works I created in my youth are being incinerated. We used to run a graphic design company (just before the last time the economy imploded around 1992) and with their destruction my posthumous reputation as a great artist is assured - because no one will see how utterly tasteless it all was.
Speaking of tasteless, I had sex in a garage last night.
Just thought I'd mention it.
On the one hand, my "occasional" job is close to full time this week, because two of the three permanant teachers are off sick. On the other hand, the management frelled up the accounting so I haven't been paid for two weeks.
And on the two and a halfth hand, there's been no time to write my glorious novel. But on the flipside of the two and a halfth hand, I'm still stuck with the plot anyway.
6027 words and the beginnings of a plot. Unfortunately the NaNoWriMo site won't let me log on to post some of it. So, here's the passage I've just written.
Morden sprinted up the stairs to his office, pushed open the door and stopped.
There was a tall, slim woman - about sixty, with a wrinkled face and severely straight white hair - sitting in his chair, calmly reading a report, with her feet crossed on his desk.
She didn't register his entrance, her eyes continuing to flit rapidly from one line to the next. For some seconds Morden was lost for something to say, caught between astonishment and outrage. Eventually he found his voice.
"Your feet are on my desk."
"Yes, I put them there. You do realise Jacob White's girlfriend - what was her name? Claudia Mannheim - she stood to benefit from Roger White's death too. We've only got her word for it Jacob came home at all that night, and she provides him with a nice detailed alibi for the next day as well.
"It could have been her visited the White's home while Jacob was out getting drunk. They liked her more than their son, so perhaps she went there on the pretext of pleading on his behalf, perhaps took an interest in the father's chemistry experiments with toxic compounds, had him whip up some cyanide and slipped some into his coffee.
She'd have plenty of time to write the two notes, and even plant the third for the wife to find later. It's more plausible she did all that in an hour than her drunken moron of a man did it all in ten minutes."
The woman had a fruity, rich voice, like a black-and-white movie star who played sophisticated, wise and cynical man users. Morden considered before responding.
"Jake confessed at the weekend."
The woman looked up and him and smiled broadly, the lines on her face deepening. "He could be protecting her. Why don't you ask her?"
"Because we've got no evidence. Just the guesswork of a strange old woman who's feet are on my desk. Who are you?"
"Anna Gray. Sergeant Anna Gray. I'm your new sidekick."
"I already have a...sidekick. He's called George."
"I'm afraid Sergeant Locke has accepted promotion - and transfer. You did know he'd applied and been accepted, and you knew the arrangement was he'd finish his current case before moving on."
"Yes but...I expected he'd hang around for a few days to clear up the paperwork. And to say goodbye."
But he had said goodbye. 'Goodbye sir', not 'Goodnight sir'. The old woman didn't speak.
"Alright, but I wasn't consulted. I expect some say in who works under me - as a courtesy if nothing else - and I don't appreciate someone being parachuted in without even telling me. Especially someone who...who..."
"Especially someone who's a rude old bat, old enough to be your mother. Someone who's spent her entire working life in the police but never made it above Sergeant. Someone who's close to retirement, far too good at annoying her superiors, and is being farmed out to whoever will put up with her."
Morden took a long deep breath. "You're the one who said it."
"And you're the one who thought it. But we've been talking for five minutes and my feet are still on your desk. You haven't shouted at me or tried to slap me back into place. You haven't gone storming to your boss and you haven't got me thrown out of the building. I think you like me."
4500 words, and still no plot.
Who said life never imitates art?
The British economy is sinking into quicksand. I have a career that could take me anywhere in the world. Where should I go to escape and wait out recession?
Western Europe? That's like leaving the Lusitania for the Titanic. It hasn't sunk yet, but it's about to. Plus it's probably the only place where there's already too many EFL teachers.
Eastern Europe? Less Titanic, more Mary Celeste.
China? Perhaps the Electra (Amelia Erhardt's plane) is appropriate here. There are predictions that the expanding Chinese economy will bail out the Western economy - which is odd, as the expansion of the Chinese economy was largely a product of outsourcing from the West. It's like Atlas holding up the world, then trying use it as a hot air balloon.
Asia? Something similar, I think.
Africa? Um, no. Maybe it's just a coincidence the only places rich enough for decent English language schools are mostly English speaking already. Less Area 51, more Bermuda Triangle.
America? Ah, can I escape the earthquake by heading for it's epicenter? Maybe we're talking Atlantis here.
No, I just don't know.
If anyone can suggest a plot, I'd be most obliged.
In the meantime, I'll be reading the last chapter of twenty one Margery Allingham Ebooks, looking for inspiration.
"So many ways to lose your skin in it,
The number of ways to die is infinite."
- The World is a Very Scary Place, Magnetic Fields
Happy Halloween. The time of year when we like to scare ourselves with things that can't hurt us because they don't exist. So we can briefly forget about the things that really are scary and can hurt us.
You know. AIDS. Cancer. The planet becoming uninhabitable for profit. Poverty. Fascism. The words "President McCain". The words "President Palin". People who want to blow us up because our government bombed them to stop them wanting to blow us up. Even though they didn't.
How much nicer to be scared of bird flu, rap lyrics, and other people.
Have you ever wondered why the term "Wanker" is used as an insult? I mean, there's two kinds of people in the world - those who masturbate, and those who lie about it.
Everyone does it. Even your parents - unless your dad's spent a night with Kapitano, in which case...yeah, well ANYWAY.
But "Breather" isn't an insult (though "Mouthbreather" is). You'd never call someone a lousy stinker "Eater" (even when they're a "Bottom Feeder"). "Breeder" only applies to someone who thinks their heterosexuality makes them a higher being. Someone like your dad in fact.
But now I think I understand. Watch these wankers and see what you think.
NaNoWriMo is about to start.
Could you write a 50,000 word novel in a month? Or at least the first draft of one? Could you just plunge ahead and write 2000 words a day with the minimum of planning and plotting, just to prove you really do have that book in you?
I'm kind of tempted to find out. With three hours to go till midnight and "Day 1", and the barest outline of a story in my head...well, I've got three hours to decide.
That's scary too, in it's way.
Which LolCat are you? The test is here. I am:
Your result for The Which Lolcat Are You? Test...
Sad Cookie Cat
To see all possible results, checka dis.
I was teaching today. Which is to say, I was sitting in a classroom quite a lot.
First Lesson: I have eleven students on paper - and one turned up.
Second Lesson: My one student needs to go somewhere else, so I have a gloriously empty class.
Fortunately - or not - the school library (or "Resource Center") needs sorting out. So I spend a fascinating ninety minutes cataloging it. Really, really fascinating.
Third Lesson: On paper, five. In the room, one. Sitting an exam.
Fourth Lesson: He bunks off.
Elsewhere on the testing site, there are reputedly eight kinds of intelligence. And I'm:
Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...
"This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. Those who are strongest in this intelligence are typically introverts and prefer to work alone. They are usually highly self-aware and capable of understanding their own emotions, goals and motivations. They often have an affinity for thought-based pursuits such as philosophy. They learn best when allowed to concentrate on the subject by themselves. There is often a high level of perfectionism associated with this intelligence.
Careers which suit those with this intelligence include philosophers, psychologists, theologians, writers and scientists." (Wikipedia)
22% Naturalistic (Instinctive)
One of these is used by psychologists and supposedly by modern teachers. The other's a silly bit of fun. You decide which tells you more about me.
Johnny Rotten is appearing in an advert. The product is butter. The advert is nationalistic.
Let me put this another way. The man whose career is built on his absolute refusal to sell out, is a sellout. The rebel who hated family values, is letting himself be used in a family friendly campaign. The boy who got into the Sex Pistols because he was wearing an "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt, has fallen into self-mockery.
The face of danger is now safe. The pottymouth you couldn't dismiss is now trivial. The laughing harlequin is a laughingstock. The sneering spitting rebel has spat on his own rebellion.
The enfant terrible who got Bill Grundy sacked by saying "Fuck" on live TV...will probably soon be hosting a live daytime chatshow.
Most of the punks were knobs, truth be told, however much we cheered their jabs against complacency. This one turns out to be a knob of butter.