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nick b. 2007
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jeudi 28 avril 2005
 

A nice dinner last night might have been even better only if Catherine -- cat duly delivered for a sitting spell along with a remark that should the poor beast go the same way as a goldfish once entrusted to me, it wouldn't be the end of the world -- hadn't been as wearied by a mean April and a lengthy return of cloudy weather as me.
It's not true, though, that I flushed the fish down the loo. Once sure it was dead, I wrapped it in aluminium and stuck the corpse in the fridge so the Kid could decide what ceremony she wanted herself. There wasn't one, she was far less upset than me.
Catherine's comment on cat was also tongue in cheek, let's be fair.
As for the rest, it might be fun, if irresponsible, to detail an entertaining digression into sex of the kind we should have had when we were wedlocked ... sigh! but some cheerfully frank exchanges on other matters of concern to us both deepened the feeling I told you about last time round.
After a spell of frequent but to my own mind sometimes boring blogging, I'm knocking off for a while, having made a few minor changes in the last hour to previous entries.
There's so much going on in my life you've not been getting what you come here for if it's entertainment and not an excess of MGs or unwinding in public. I'm "bringing work home with me too much", the joke count's run low by the end of most Factory days.
But my "blog-therapy" days are over.
While I'm determined to keep the QR a way of life, something I want to take part in, rather than just watch and write about half the time, my system's still not over the shock it sustained when all my memories came back in the first months of the year and I began to fear I'd spend the rest of my life on speed. That's what it felt like, anyway, while the circuitry got rewired.
We all need a break from essays.
Back later, more outgoing ... and shorter!


11:55:55 PM  link   your views? []

mercredi 27 avril 2005
 

On leaving people in Togo to mayhem (updated April 28, looting and anger about an election result in the west African country that was a foregone conclusion, I felt so relieved regional correspondent Lauren plans to be back soon that my nightly "handover note" at the Factory had a cryptic "L -2" on it.
Then I felt bad about being glad the woman's holiday will soon be over and would rather she didn't have to go to Togo.

If she does, that'll be because people there haven't realised most of them perhaps really did vote for the devil they think they know, even if the books were cooked. I'll give the son the benefit of the doubt though daddy was a dictator.
Overall media coverage has been such that it raises tricky issues important to journalists and those who digest our output alike.

It's no trade secret that AFP, where bosses often say we're held by many clients to be "number one" for Africa coverage in English, has plenty of journalists there, but too few "Anglos".
This is true of our "rivals" without exception, to such an extent that the instant I realised it was wiser to stop sniping at the BBC for its mistakes and taking flak for ours, we'd do better to co-operate. So I picked up the phone ages ago. In 10 minutes we had a deal.
Such unilateral decisions may be "beyond my brief", but dammit: editing Africa in English is above all my job and my neck. In the field, reporters work together when they lack a "scoop" and real ones are rare.

Maybe that's partly why 'Harrison's Flowers' is the most borrowed of my DVDs because while this love and war story in the horror of the former Yugoslavia struck many wise-ass reviewers as unbelievable, it's essentially true -- given a few changes of names and details -- and many journalists can readily identify with it.
I hate the feeling I know other Africa "bosses" in other outfits share: that since the continent's a low priority in the minds of those who do the budgets for today's worldwide media, we end up sometimes regarding the people we have there as pieces on a board, to be shifted around to "optimise resources".
What I plan to do and the thinking behind it is going in the orchard because I've got a bad bout of the 'Media blues', where I have deeper considerations to throw into the debating arena. Thing is, it's not just me, we're all in it together. The chemistry makes for a mix that's stuff of the LP.
Change my mix when somebody has the wisdom and survival instinct to get right out of it for a while, I can't help but see butterflies, rain forests and bad weather. April has indeed been the cruellest month.
Worse, there's an almost universal refrain: "The press isn't what it was. Standards are declining." And it's true, more than the usual "Oh, for the 'good old days'," hence a deeper look at the blues... The cracks and the weariness are beginning to show, aren't they?
No more front-page stuff until the storm's over.


1:14:04 AM  link   your views? []

mardi 26 avril 2005
 

Software, whatever the media fuss, is but a means to an end, though for a while I was as interested in getting inside computers as what you can do with them.
Now that's changed -- and the "ungodily" cash-flow saga ends for good later this week -- doing great stuff with what women sing won't see me queuing up for Tiger on Friday or any time soon.
Some M$ big cheese, Jim Allchin, thinks the Mac OS X 4 operating system is "a peripheral to the iPod", a provocative remark in 'Newsweek/MSNBC,' (via 'MacMinute').
AllChin's silliness is among the Tiger -- and getting the best out of music and Macs --articles on the front page at the MacDevCenter, which offers a quick-read and more insightful look at what the new OS may mean to you and me (no really, after you) from Les Posen, who's into "clusters", pro-Tiger, unimpressed in advance, and

"a third group who are responding to Tiger. And these are those like me who see the impact Tiger will have on the general IT industry. I don't mean large enterprises locked into Microsoft's business model, nor large-scale Linux roll outs.
I mean the millions of personal computer users - individuals, small businesses, home offices, schools, research and educational institutions and the creative arts industries" (Les Posen's CyberPsych Blog).
Yes, now we're talking.

slideMy current portable miracle, named 'kalessin's air' in a nod to Ursula Le Guin, was getting the shock of its career when I took the screen-shot after a weekend completing, for now, the arduous task of getting all I want off CD and on to the Mac.
Lots of bits of Mac have "code names" of significance to me (often related to people I like).
Half the hard work was reorganising the storage space to leave room for everything else I do, plus back-ups; that over, getting the lot on to my belt was the easy bit.
iTunes now helpfully informs me that if I played everything on the iPod from start to finish without breaking for sleep and hearing only a few score songs "playlisted" twice, my brain would be wrecked by an onslaught of sound lasting 19 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes and 23 seconds. So I won't. Of course it's not all voices of women, far from it, but a huge library I tonight declare open to friends within borrowing range, just as long as you're close enough to grab.
lust As for Jennifer Cardini (pop-up Flash site), a French southerner turned Parisian with an ear for what's going on in Berlin, I'll probably return to 'Lust' one day in a proper VoW piece, since she's hard to find, but her electro-dance mixes are a relaxing accompaniment to this entry.
The Jennifer to surprise me most was Lopez, whom I've considered mainly as an actress before some of the songs on her 'Rebirth' stunned me in a new iTMS-only special of February's CD (and DVD if wanted). Some are less impressed because a renaissance it isn't, but a fan I've become, happy to slip '(Can't Believe) This is Me' into an iMix in the making.
The VoWs who especially annoy me -- J-Lo and beyond are not among them, but certainly deliver! -- are those whose lyrics are so darned good, honest and subtle about the relationships in our lives they make me wonder why I bother to write anything.
You'll be hearing about plenty of them.

Here, meantime, a music Wiki well worth the while: 'Hydrogenaudio'.
Given the co-operative spirit of wikis, open source and freely shared, which is very close to my heart, I doubt anybody will protest if I show you what this one's about by lifting its

Table of contents

1 Introduction & User Guides
2 Audio Formats
3 Container Formats
4 Audio Hardware & CD Ripping
5 Tests
6 Downloads
7 Using the wiki

So much is already there and it can only get bigger and better.
Tiger can wait!

Now my very varied music and growing DVD libraries are open, I've got to work out the best way of letting people know what's in them, online, without inciting anyone to break copyright laws I merely want to help turn upside down.
I'm glad to join all intelligent efforts to bring about an overhaul of the music "industry", which I see as a key aspect of the Quiet Revolution.
File sharing is problematic when it exploits and rips off artists, that's for sure though sometimes I do it. But iMixes are certainly in and Apple's way of doing it is simply annoying in that they prefer to make sure you can share only (iTMS) what you've bought from them.
That's not the idea.
No doubt I'll spot or think of something more suitably subversive.


2:00:27 AM  link   your views? []

jeudi 21 avril 2005
 

So Rainer's French.
First he knew of it! But he's full of surprises, our Brazilian-based baron, has found his 'inner European ('Solipsism Gradient') and tells you where to find yours.
Looks amusing -- do Brits count? What on earth shall I do if it tells me I'm still one, that would be so frightening after all these years?
Observing what you've endured of late here -- likr many other activities -- has been much easier since Rainer gave us his X-Ray tool with a really Mac-friendly batch file-type conversion built in. I mention it, again, because it's ideal for much of the multi-media stuff I do, maybe your own.
If you don't know what this means, you may not need it; if you do, you'll have to find it for yourself at Rainer's place, because he's always worth checking out.

While my quirky views of what people get up to have been light relief for me, if not you, poor bastards, during some enjoyable but tough months, I'm certain I'd hate to convert anyone! It's only the System that riles me.
I wish I was better at smouldering all the time; but I've lost it. VoWs clear my cranium out every day. So do other musicians.
All the fuss before the smoke -- there'll be more on Sunday but you won't find it here, I'm through with it -- has kept a lot of us from getting out with other people for so long now that I really look forward to my first date in ages, in a week.
It may be with Catherine, my ex-wife, but she's really as nice a woman to start getting sociable again with as any (no, love, no way! ... just glad we agree about separate roofs as well as the rest). That magic day, Lauren gets back as well, so the note says. If media hell breaks loose anywhere now, count me out. Everybody today looked as if they needed a rest...
With so much poison around, I'm delighted to see Kate's feeling "great" again when her 'Electric Venom' is good for us:

"It doesn't take a genius to see the connection between the time I spent sitting at the computer and the various physical symptoms I'd been having, not to mention that extra 20 pounds I packed on. While my brain's been busy thinking up witty things to tell you, and my fingers have been hacking away at the keys, my body has been largely unused and was pissed about it. Inactivity, plain and simple, is bad for one's health."
I'm almost envious of the extra pounds since my getting around and the stairs with stuff I need routinely remembered only when I'm at the bottom of all four flights or worse could almost be too much sometimes. But she's right: it doesn't take a genius, but it's smart to remember the obvious sometimes needs spelling out.
Moreover, heart's better than smart.
Losing your wits doesn't do much harm, on the contrary.
Kate's VenomPages blog hosting place may be just the answer to a friend's recent question -- mentioned not to raise premature hopes on either side, but remind me to tell him Kate's made the offer. I reckon they're talking the same language.

See you all when I see you, I've got to face the mail backlog, however full of venom it might be, now it's obvious it doesn't bother me when what's good for people, apart from exercise, is other decent people.

The frequently-asked question in the title, especially after some marathons here as well as at the Factory, makes me realise just how much this log has changed since the days when the local Literary Lion asked me often, "Am I in it?"
You all are or will be, along with the VoWs, and since nobody's expected to be mad enough to hang around here if they don't want to, the simple answer is that nowadays I almost always use your real names to tell the world appalling things about you unless you ask for anonymity or to wear a disguise. Most people don't.
I dunno why they like the publicity, it's so rarely complimentary, but dammit, you do! So if you want to know what I've said, try the search engine. There's no time to keep everybody informed any more, so you only get warned of a real savaging, theft, or publication of a particularly outrageous remark on your part ahead of time or because you're after me with an axe.

No smokescreens here. The worse your behaviour is, the higher my ratings. Don't shoot the messenger.
Good night.


11:49:59 PM  link   your views? []

Plus ça sonne,...: white smoke

If anybody has further comment I don't need or wish to know.
You've suffered a week free of my outrageous nonsense.
My ears only recently stopped ringing with the racket of bells, both church and Factory ones. It's hard to imagine any more reactions -- wicked or worshipful, self-serving or scared, helpful or hilarious -- to the "main news" than I've already heard.
My part in recounting the election of the man variously described as "a worthy successor" and "God's Enforcer" was to flee as fast as I could once Africa was mainly quiet on Tuesday, while much of the Factory was in uproar. I avoided finding out who'd got the job until I remembered to ask my ex-wife on the phone from the noisy but indispensable café where the fully wakeful part of a new day begins.
This seemed preferable to arriving at work as ignorant as I can be stupid.
For everyone else, even Benedictus XVI, the Wikipedia has been habitually quick, while knowing why some French kids are called Benoît has been added to my huge store of useless info.

The news for people in my personal life, Catherine included, is that the smoke Factory hands had the misfortune, I fear, to be first in seeing as "white" -- it was very noisy, hard to tell & I wasn't even there -- means that I shall soon resume being socially anti-social.
Others may wish to know that in Sierra Leone, with one people and three main faiths, the reaction "on the street" was that of those who've waited too long for the outcome of a football match. An astonishing number of Africans seem suddenly to have learned what the "Dictatorship of Relativism" means. To me, it was explained by desk chief David, who -- sort of, to be fair -- told me I was wrong in just thinking the man believes Africans shouldn't have different values from Americans, but also believes there are absolute values for all. When I wanted to know if there was a choice between all or somee, I'm pretty sure David said "no".
Well, you know my views on *diktats & anti-*diktats, let alone *orders, holy or otherwise.

Things I like about trouble

*"Trouble (in)" got recently added to this log's glossary (*). More of it started when Frog hacks wanted a reliable source for the colour of Vatican smoke and I suggested perhaps the "le Saint-Esprit", having been told that "'holy ghost" is no longer politically correct, especially in the United States, where some have it drummed out of them at a very early age.

lostwolfAll this has been so confusing I woke up to realise only when ready for a Wednesday morning bath that the power had blown overnight.
I may have deserved a cold shower, but the water was kinder. It stayed hot like my fantasies.
Once I got home, as shown, even the Mac it no longer knew what day it was, only that the new pontiff's policies may mean turning lots of clocks back, which may be why it blew the fusebox.

RatziSunBritain's despicable but readable 'The Sun' did its worst for a headline -- the most helpful nastiness a friend came up with is risky even via me -- and warns us that in 'the 1980s he described homosexuality as an 'intrinsic moral evil' and said rock music could be a 'vehicle of anti-religion'" (Sun). Well, tell me what music can't, but that's mild among the banalities and platitudes that have assaulted our eyes and ears for weeks.
When the same friend, Dave in Lagos, ended up the poor sod responsible for the almost impossible task of summing up African "reax", he soon pleaded, probably on his knees, to be sent only those that said anything different or striking.
So let's half own up and say, yes, Dave had got his head round the "dictatorship of relativism" and wondered ... how do I put it? how it's applied to the careers of priests who fuck women contrasted with those who do really foul things to kids? Hypocrisy and double-standards have scarcely been out of the news either, not at least in the filthy minds of journalists.
Perhaps this is why we're among the most hated professions in France. I don't know who's bottom of the list, but suspect it must be bankers. I'm delighted to announce that once I've gone through the last deliberately tortuous hoop for them before another bout in the Factory and am off the Banque de France blacklist again, you'll get lots more VoWs, the screenplay's back on course, and all this is even within my budget.
Banks and sharing -- or volunteering and promoting fantastic stuff because one enjoys it without thought of profit -- are contradictions in terms. In the unlikely event top-ranking or administrative Factory hands read this, Nadia and the others get my thanks for having such clear heads on their shoulders even I could understand, with their help and in language about hateful numbers that made sense, a long-term way out of years of one kind of trouble.

The art of being a public danger

Merely as helpful information: I'm no longer a risk just to close-cropped women, notably straw-headed blondes, and will consent to almost anything conceivable, adore variety and spontaneity, so long as you're as very good-looking or simply as much so as me and have a great sense of fun, little excess baggage and few hang-ups.
The woman I might still be especially in trouble with is convinced I live on a different planet; true only to the extent that my plan's to help make one a lot more people like living on in sometimes odd ways. Why wait for heaven when it can't be that hard to get rid of hell on earth if enough people put their hearts into it?
The truth is more likely she and me temporarily live in different time zones, if not millennia, and also in the briefing offered in the "Sorry, love. You've found the wrong address" section of my April 5 entry written after I found some good explanations of why men and women can have a hard time talking to each other, then routinely accuse one another of not listening.

Coming out with it costs! So I'll cough up

As if that wasn't bad enough, it was truly appalling to confess to my ESP.
All this earned me the most cherished rebuff of the year so far. It's uncharitable to quote, but far too good to leave out:

Bravo. You are the only person I have ever known who can write 4,000 words about nothing. (...)
And that's damn impressive, Nick, so do keep up your screenplay because I'm sure you're going to succeed. You have a way with being able to talk about nothing.
How's it possible to dislike anybody who sends something so wonderful? I'm not a masochist, but I certainly can't and hope that was just practice. Also the charge that I'd inflicted 4,000 words is not -- the horror of it -- all that divorced from reality. I merely lose count when trying to talk sense!

So I'll tell everyone the truth.
I do have a sixth sense, don't know where it comes from; the less I take myself seriously and inspect my own navel, the more and better it works. That's one reason you'll find weird stuff in the orchard.
The wise shrink who undid me last year told me that since I'm stuck with this faculty, I might as well confess to knowing things about people they don't me want to when it's true and runs deeper than intuition, brains or experience.
I can't help it, especially when it yells at me.
The other day a woman at the Factory made a suggestion after I said something too odd and out of the blue, since I just knew, which I felt might be of some use to her, because I then had to explain "why" as best I could.
It wasn't very well.
You see, what happens is that if I smell trouble in somebody's air and I like them, then I want to help if I truly can without making a fuss about it, but it's hard to know sometimes if this counts as interference.
For someone who tries to avoid that, I'm outstandingly good at it, since I get a kick out of forgetting myself, especially when it comes to being serious.
One thing people radiate if I'm paying the slightest attention is when they're in trouble and when they're in none at all but experiencing big changes in their lives. As happens, hence the 'I Ching', etc.
I've been able to do this since forever and no longer distort or "invent" it, as I used to when my ego got in the way, or worse, I wanted something somebody didn't want to share.

The Factory friend, J., said, "Look, if it bothers you, why don't you talk about it to somebody who knows you inside out?"
"Like whom?" I asked, truly curious.
"Maybe, for instance, your ex-wife!"
That was so sensible I will. Catherine's great as you know. It's only living with each other we don't like.
I planned to in the afternoon, but was in danger of yet more trouble. I'd been yacking a lot on the phone already sorting out the bank and African stuff which badly needs dealing with once and for all when a few overworked people have found their way through the thick fog left by the white smoke.
So I got home in a weary mood, disinclined to lay all that on Catherine, having done quite enough of the wrong kind of laying women already.

The most genuinely useful aspect, to me, of this "extra-sensory" perception that's probably pretty normal for some is that if my phone rings insistently when I don't feel like it, I know when it matters to pick it up and when it doesn't. This uncanny if not quite infallible ability works so well it keeps lots of people, especially me, out of trouble.
It's true too of the flashing light that says "You've got messages". I can rely on it as much as the wretched pigeons do on me not to beat them up when I give them their breakfast.
The birds are now so good at this some of them appear round unexpected corners to get it and the cheeky bastards don't even bother to fly away when I open the bathroom window to say: "Good morning. Stop squabbling, cos when you do the crumbs go down into Serge's back yard instead of inside you. This may annoy him nearly as much as before we moved windows and you shat on my landlord's head."

Why do I tell you this instead of watching the X-Files, giving you another naked woman or man (but you can go elsewhere for males, I'm quite enough here) to admire or going back to bed regrettably with only a book?
Because if you can do it as well, we should talk about it -- lightly, since it's no big deal -- instead of leaving it to scientists and all the charlatans. I know it only gets in the way if your ego does, that's a fact and it's not a "goddam shame".
What remains a damned shame is how little known tonight's VoW remains.

Jolie fine stuff: yes, a VoW

Jolie HollandJolie Holland is very good. Hers is another voice I really got into during the second part of her first studio album -- 'Escondida,' nearly a year "old" -- and had to start all over again.
For sure, this Texan-born, sometimes folksy, sometimes blue and New Orleans jazzy lady is serious about some of what she sings.
But people can get that wrong -- like a woman who bit me since she's just a bit behind, which is unusual and a 'Damn Shame', like one of Jolie's loveliest and best "stories" with a sting in the tail. All I need to say of the voice, if you must have a comparison, is imagine Jodie Foster being southern in superb song. Enough people say Billie Holliday to have a point.
Someone at America's Amazon thinks "'Old Fashioned Morphine' is perhaps the darkest moment on the album and speaks to the murkier facets of our souls, highlighting the things that race across our minds when despair is factored in." This would be fine if Jolie hadn't explained:

"that song is a joke. I wrote it during a waitressing shift. It was 7 o'clock in the morning and I was tired, my bones were creeky. There is this American song, it's like a gospel song that goes: 'gimme that old time religion, it's good enough for me'. It was just funny to me" (at Belgium's 'Cucamonga' (Eng. & Flemish, where I stole the pic.)
You don't need to know that too get Jolie's jokes -- there are many of them. You have to pay close attention. The same goes for the subtle ways her music works, sinuous, not half as simple as it sounds. She's worth the effort: the outcome can be sad sometimes, but always beautiful.
I went to Amazon US for a look because Jolie's very American and also a reminder, as in her lovely version of a Civil War lost-love song, how different the bits of a vast country whose mad regime's outrages can sometimes make it seem monolithic to a European really are.
She's out of time, can do old stuff in her new way, gets around and she'll last.
She's currently on tour (Jolie Holland's home-site calendar).
If she comes anywhere near you and you miss a chance to catch her live, must I say what that would be?
Even then, you get a chance, of sorts, thanks to NPR, where I found her last month.
She's a public service, just private about it.

zzz

Any oblique reference to other gorgeous, fun-loving people is fully intended: there's a lot of beauty about, along with the nicest of little "nothings". It's unfair that being mean to me works wonders, I know.
I just bare my fangs. You're lucky that's all I bare.
So women be warned and beware. White smoke will very soon mean all the ones I fancy are in trouble. Why leave out ones who've decided to be mean? If I could, I would. Indeed, for now, I do and have.
But one of the very few certainties in this extraordinary world is that nothing lasts. Not even "nothing".
D'you know, I really almost wish Ratzinger luck, being useless at praying for conservative people. I'm not sure he fully realises what he's up against.
It's best to take women as I intend to go on taking them. The ones who've got equality certainly don't need charity.
They have none if they come down hard and nasty at once. If Rat Benedict XVI believes they rock badly, he might taste some 'Peaches'.
Best taken raw and extremely explicit.
I haven't got to "brat grrrls" yet.
It's silly to take them too seriously, let alone pray for the redemption of their sinful souls, if like me, you feel more like praying they get better still when they're "grown up".
They're scarcely aspiring priests.
They swallow men whole, may well spit you out and if you're in the mood, gosh, you love it!


5:30:46 AM  link   your views? []

jeudi 14 avril 2005
 

To announce that 'The Diary of Alicia Keys' is a "must have" R&B album -- for voice, lyrics, Alicia's piano playing and a fine backing line-up -- comes behind the times. Part of the truest, non-hype comment already on the Net says:

"Alicia Keys’ artistic light is so bright it could illuminate a pitch-black room. A true musical prodigy whose multi-dimensional gifts emerged at age five, the beautiful Alicia (home site)Songs in A minor'] (AllPerson.com)
You can't catch 'em all straight away and other people's stars can be worth waiting to rejoice at yourself. Alicia's Dec 2003 album -- more soon now please! -- flew me so far out of yuckdom* today that being accosted on the street by a face I'm usually delighted to see felt like a very unwanted intrusion.

The only duff note came off-disc rom one Jake Barnes:

"In truth this fine talent is being plucked too early. At 20 she's hardly lived enough life to find herself."
Jake's almost memorably silly lines were for those fine début 'Songs' (June 2001, at Amazon UK). Without bothering to wonder just where Barnes spent his own first 19 or 20 years, he tops my ridiculous remarks of the month list for laying down the law on when self-discovery begins, while managing to include more than a dozen other artists as comparisons with Keys in a short review that tells us plenty about Jake and little about Alicia.
Sorry to single out the buffoon, who may do better elsewhere, but that's a first-rate example of exactly how not to write a music review, especially when it comes to a new VoW.

If it's surprises you like, take Alice Muson and the luck of having an iTMS, at least in France, adventurous enough to win you over to a magnificent-voiced Atlanta 'Ghost Girl' -- 'Creative Loafing' looks like her local paper as well as a nice way of passing time.
A halfway decent review of 'Passion and Control' (2000), which is unavailable, through some incomprehensible oversight, on any Amazon site I've checked out may come, I hope, once I know more about the mysterious Alice, who is at least at 'Bandlink'.
A casual first listen to gifted Georgia folk and the voice up front told me "this girl is good. Very good." But once well past 'Chemical Imbalance' and more intimate song-writing like a kind of 'Black-eyed Susan' you don't often hear about on CDs, Alice takes up a solo guitar and sits down to ask "Do you believe me when I tell you ... tell you ... tell you ... that I was wearing 'No Disguise'?"
Once she's done you go back to track one and listen all through 'Passion and Control' again ... and again.
The voice is young, rich in range, and Alice Muson knew, Jake, a whole lot of memorable, poignant and occasionally very catchy things she can't possibly have managed on her own. After all, she doesn't strike my ear as close enough to 20 in 2000 to really have got a life, at least according to Barnes.
The band are cool country folk, but listed by the iTMS as "alternative" and for once the label suits the eclectic content. If anyone passing by knows more about Alice, do tell.
Her own sites are down, though still listed on the search engines. I hope she isn't, since 'Passion and Control' -- if you can find it -- is recommended to anybody looking for a woman who deserves to be right on the up and on the map. Maybe not -- yet -- a "must have", but a songster who, as another of her titles says, is 'High Enough' to take you from out of where you are to where you'd like to be. In great company.


____________

As for the "yuckdom, forget it! I'm trying to. And feel slightly mean only at the thought there's a bank "advisor" somewhere who might have nightmares now, starring me. Consolation: his dreams can't be any worse than the earful he got from me today. That saga has got beyond a joke.


10:23:51 PM  link   your views? []

dimanche 10 avril 2005
 

Among the usual bills and ads, I got a real letter. It was postmarked -- over very nice stamps, thanks -- a day or two after I started expressing unease about the Roman Catholic Church and the long "agony" of the pope -- that's the word many French papers used.
David Tokunbo from southern Nigeria, who stumbled across one of my vexed outbursts, tells me he finds I have "contradictions about religion", apologises for saying so, then asks me to clarify my position on the log, because ... well, he's right, I do occasionally "write about deeply spiritual matters" and I guess you could call me a "religious person".
My full answer has been a snail mail one, since Tokunbo doesn't use e-mail (and points out that the comments box can be long to load if you're on a slow Net connection; I'll try to do something about that but can't make any promises, now I've checked over the Radio UserLand site. I'm glad the rest usually comes up at a decent speed now).

I certainly believe in something, Tokunbo, but am unable to put a name to it any more.
My life has been such that I see a pattern and order to it I have a hard time understanding; the older I get the harder it is to "explain" except with help from the scientific research I follow, often finding more parallels in it with eastern thought than in the "laws" of organised religions built on monotheistic faiths.
By the time the requiem mass for Pope John Paul II was broadcast round the world on Friday, I thought we'd seen all I like least in his church, including a drawn-out "martyrdom" and an unhealthy obsession with suffering and pain far removed from Christian values I respect. Nevertheless, I hope it's been clear in what I've written, if not in so many words, about the ritual and the blanket press, radio and television coverage, that the target of my wrath has been institutions, not Christians!
I see no contradiction in finding the weeks up to the pope's death a morbid, grisly time while maintaining a high regard for the clerics, whatever their faith, who strike me as "spiritual people".
capra That said, there are atheists I respect much more for their humanity, compassion and genuine concern for the well-being of others than some men of the cloth. With "Holy Scriptures", it's disturbingly and dangerously easy for people to find passages they want to support unnatural behaviour.
I was baptised, routinely, as an Anglican, but any faith I had in a personal God evaporated in my late teens. In 1975, Fritzjof Capra gave us 'The Tao of Physics' -- the Wikipedia says he was on drugs when the idea came to him! 'The Turning Point' (on line thanks to a Julia I know only by a name since I don't speak the Russian most of her site seems to be in) followed seven years later. If you're interested you'll see Capra was then well into the 'I Ching', while I'd begun studying it.
I was also reading the likes of Joseph Campbell ('The Hero with a Thousand Faces' and his three-volume study of the 'Masks of God') and Mircea Eliade's 'Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy'. Once my French could cope, one of my girlfriends helped me get into his monumental 'A History of Religious Ideas' (available translated by Willard R. Trask). The original became one of the real treasures on my bookshelves.
You'd be very bored if I detailed all I've studied since then, but the "mysticism" to be found somewhere in all the main religions linked up with the science in my head decades ago.

The upshot for me in 2005 is a thinking heart, with a plan mapped out and potentially budgeted this weekend to go on buying, listening to and writing about all the good VoW I can ... and what some of my friends have begun to fear is a complete and unrepentant obsession with sex!
So while I respect the religious convictions of Tokunbo and can understand the sense of loss and grief many feel at the death of an elderly Polish "Holy Father" in Vatican City, I'm semi-serious about the WG and other oddities in the 'long shorthand' column now on every page of this site.
As for sex, the LP's full of it because changes in the way women and men relate to each other are among the most entertaining ways of telling the stories in the screenplay.

"After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement but it is not brought about by force... The movement is natural, rising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results."
When Capra prefaced 'The Turning Point' with that passage from the 'I Ching', maybe he was talking about the Quiet Revolution.

Women have been merciful to me of late, but the big slap I've been expecting from one or another for pushing six months now may come next week. If people have no sympathy for the "devil" now awake in me, then I fear women may be so cross with me that I added the definition of "trouble (in)" to the glossary among a few other changes last night.
The Squip, for her part, has either been dancing dust out of her neuron this weekend or is recovering both from remarks on her age and the way I actually left a comment on her blog. The truth is, Cyndy, I drop in on you and many others in the blogroll more frequently that you might imagine. Now that Firefox at work battle has been won my visits will be frequent if the news stops while I'm eating my lunch.

Meantime, I've a couple of announcements. First, being stupid, I've lost some chunks of the screenplay. I do "back up, back up, back up," but was a bit careless about the LP for a couple of weeks. The disaster happened when I was both writing and hacking the Mac at around 11:00 pm last night. I gave the computer a kernel panic and it shut down without saving my work.
So this entry comes after a second night totally without sleep in three, since once I'd finshed swearing, I told myself that "it's always better second time round". This is not the view, however, of a very "explicit" VoG currently waiting along with others in my iTMS shopping basket.
I can't download her because Apple says my payment for 'Angelzoom' -- yes, but I like it and have even got one or two "riot grrls" in the basket -- can't go through. This is more annoying than the lost LP scenes. I spent part of the night doing my sums on line again to find the bank has no reason to turn the payment down. By some time after dawn, I decided the bank's IMF plan is just another way of screwing me, so I've taken alternative measures to get the bastards off my back.

Call me naïf, I don't mind, but anybody who cares has probably read enough here by now about the LP to know that while I'm not out to preach, the screenplay's partly about people for whom the "war of the sexes" is over.
Whether I believe in a god or not, I have a strong sense of the "sacred" and sex can be one of the most spiritual and exhilarating activities people can engage in with one another; the church would look better stripped, too, of centuries of oppressive dogma.
"The movement is natural, rising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy."


11:51:23 PM  link   your views? []

samedi 9 avril 2005
 

When Tony, the accident-prone old bugger, fell over once too often last month and took permanent leave, the write-up one of my favourite people got at the time promised those who loved him -- and anyone else who drops by -- a less ... customary entry.
The living memory of Odessa Street later received a nice obit in the newsletter sent to fellow National Union of Journalists members in Paris.
Branch chairman Jeff Apter occasionally, however, told us almost as much about Jeff as he did about Mr Antony Brock!
You can see why though. Apter's a tireless commie activist, who wrote of Tony the "elder statesman" and "open-minded, progressive Tory" who turned left later in life, but found "Blairism" no better, having his own interpretation of caring Christian values.
The horrors of the "Blair method", such as it is, failed to dissuade Jeff from borrowing from it also to say Tony was sometimes "my spin doctor".

"Being at the same time a conservative and a trade unionist is something often frowned upon but it did not bother Tony. Another aspect of his life that did not interfere with his trade union activity was his [Roman] Catholicism, to which he had converted after his marriage. Indeed, he said his Christianity enhanced rather than hindered his trade unionism. He was a regular churchgoer while I was - and am - an ardent atheist."
Indeed, it takes all sorts to make an NUJ branch and nobody lets faith or politics screw up friendships and working together. In France, dissent among the workers' reps leads to the creation of splinter factions or even whole new unions, to the satisfaction mainly of bosses, who can then more easily screw everyone as their foes fight it out.
This peeved Tony almost as much as the politicians whose pronouncements he sent me short and withering comments about, among other pithy observations that found their way on to this log.
While Tony was a gentleman who dressed so well that when we went out for rare pricey meal than usual, snotty-nosed waiters would smile before giving me a "what the cat brought in" sniff, he wasn't always as mannered as casual acquaintances thought.
His language was catholic but neither Latin nor pious when he had reason to protest, thus extending the Kid's vocabulary, when she came out with us, to include expletives and idioms from before her dad's day.
It was the WG who told me what really went down when Tony toddled along to mass. When I checked out the accuracy of her report with her victim, a delighted Tony rocked with laughter, saying my source was well-informed, if unusual.
"You can show it," he said, "to anybody you like".
Given a brief respite, pending the white smoke, from the kind of palaver Tony hated, today's the day, should you care to step into the orchard, to share some of the fun we had.
Remember, it's special people who get a place of their own in that grove:
'Turmoil in the Pews' (belly dancing in the church provided).


10:28:30 PM  link   your views? []

vendredi 8 avril 2005
 

I'll probably get asked "What happened?" since there are people who notice...
What happened was that I didn't want an overdose of "Factory file", at a time when I've been venting spleen about absurd events and media coverage which gets worse though almost everybody knows it -- "They do, so we must too" -- more than ever since this log first started partly as a counter-balance to all that, getting mixed in with my "deeper" personal interests.
So I took an entry, spliced it, added a new one in the middle, and here we are.
There's the film, there's the VoW scheme, there's a job I enjoy far more for the people and friendships and doing it well than the growing problems I see in mass media coverage of world events, big or small.
In daily life, I find it quite impossible to separate out work from friendship, exchange and fun and fear those who can are mad or sad. I also hate "categories", as most people know. But things also need to be in the right place at the right time.
To a dear friend who writes tonight, "I admire your motivation" but sounds down in the dumps for a while; well, I admire hers.
I do all this because I want to, with a feeling that life's caught up with me and none of the rest of it is to be wasted. There's always one more to go, one more day in the Factory this week, one more meeting, one more scene to write, one more friend to make, one more banker to mollify...
But somewhere there's got to be at least a semblance of order.
Just a semblance. This is where I still experiment. And from one of the VoWs enjoyed this week, yet to be written up, a notion: yes, reality bites. But "getting real" is getting your very own reality. We can do no less, we've no choice. It has to match the world to work, so I'm far more down to earth than I was. It has to relate to other people's, so I'm paying far more attention.

But for the moment, with a log now in two parts -- the routine and the less routine -- I just don't want to get confused! Or confuse anyone else.
There you go.


1:10:52 AM  link   your views? []

Warning! Work in progress...

NexusSarah, among others, has saved the days.
Sarah Fimm was an easy, wordless tuned-in smile with a stranger while discovering a voice (the other person was flying on her on own iPod), dreaming spaces and hand-in-hand trips to the inner places you go to find hope when the news is dominated by the dead.
She's about opening cages, freedom to move on.

"I've walked along the edge
I've seen my death
It came before my eyes and blinded by the light
I realized
Too long I've been without
The feeling of alive
Lost inside the fog

I've been
Lost inside my mind and I forgot that I am free.
I can be what I want to be."
Ouf! Turns out it was high time too. I've felt hemmed in by the headlines without realising how much the week's ways and rites of the world have been getting me down.
To wake to a new day in the same mood meant that voice has a hold on me!

Sarah Fimm knows how to harness new technology instead of letting it lock you up and decide "Oh, that's too complicated!"
Sarah Fimm's Nexus (Oct 2004; Amazon US, unavailable at the usual sidebar stores) opened my horizons so much wider within moments I knew the still tough LP scene I'm working on will sort itself out and can take a bit more of the daytime work too. Anyway, everyone's up against it.

"Sarah Fimm is a dark, chaotic mixture of rock and pop with alternative influences. Her sound is colored with smooth, melodic rock fused with thick electronic grooves. A fucked up attitude with a strawberry smile account for Sarah being slightly outside, but still able to touch a mainstream audience."
Sarah FimmSo said Collected Sounds. I'd leave out that "fucked up", certainly for this album, just say she's got strong attitudes, honest lyrics and ouch! what a range. She can handle a piano with classical flair and as well as sparingly used electronica, her own gifts to the fore.
Comparison lovers say she's a "modern" Tori Amos, blah! Why always compare? I say she's worth a log entry I hadn't planned tonight, then another night...
Sarah Fimm has a website straddled by angelic wings and a coy show of earthly paradise breasts -- no escape these days -- that tell me to stop blogging and reply to at least one of those mails, once I dare read it. Not wary of what somebody might say, but of the risks in an honest reply...
Sarah Fimm's on the soundtrack to a movie (released March 22) about "crime fighting hotties with killer bodies" (sic; Lakeshore Records).
They sound like a couple of my LP characters, only younger. Mine are probably fighting misdeeds of a more insidious and widespread kind. Those 'D.E.B.S.' of the film title sit oddly (at a glance of a run-of-the-mill poster) with the far from routine songs I've been enjoying. Sarah's unpredictable. From one album to the next, the iTMS can't figure out what "genre" to tell us she is and that's how it should be.
Sarah Fimm really cheered me up, check her out. I'm back-tracking myself to 'A Perfect Dream', 2002, and her first, 'Cocooned', 2001, where going by the iTMS excerpts, the "fucked up" maybe fitted better, because there's plenty of optimism, toughened by experience, in some of the 'Nexus' songs.
Sarah Fimm's a great find who's led me to two more. 'Collected Sounds' is "a guide to women in music", QRs included, where Amy -- hello, Amy -- runs a forum and a now blogrolled occasional corner.
The other, 'Always on the Run' is a fine way to go if you're also into good sounds, from sometimes rare names, and are looking for the lyrics to match your downloads.
Sarah's site obliges anyway

I'll try to avoid a new VoW too soon. They've a habit of turning out to look as good as they sound; it's wonderfully distracting in a week when lone wolves with hormones and hard drive to spare are wrenched between "spiritual" theatricals and the pressing insistence of the "flesh", nearer at hand, much closer to the soul.


_____________

Zach Littleman wisely suggests reconciling restricting budgets with the iTMS and kids with parents:
"Now if there was a $15 a month subscription service, my parents and most others might go ahead and subscribe when you get the iPod. They wouldn't think much of $15 a month for ALL the music we EVER wanted. After all we would be on a budget and couldn't run over.  So simple, parents would think it is perfect" (iPod Garage).
I think he's right, happily do that for mine ... and given these times of discovery, deal with the budget problem otherwise.
The best things are often so simple, but for people. A great VoW helps to set me straight even about them.


12:01:56 AM  link   your views? []

jeudi 7 avril 2005
 

'Ghouls in Rome' was the reminder title I bunged today on a mail from work to home with one of those Factory stories I send myself when they're keepers. To give non-paying clients a bit of this is "against rules", but I doubt they'll kill me:

"Vatican-pope-Germany-critic
A dissenting German voice among the tributes to Pope John Paul II
by Jean-Louis de La Vaissiere

BERLIN, April 5 (AFP) - As Catholics mourn Pope John Paul II, an anti-establishment former priest in Germany has condemned the funeral preparations as ghoulish and called for the new pope to be less authoritarian.
Eugen Drewermann is an outspoken figure who was barred from the priesthood in 1992 after infuriating the Vatican by writing a best-selling book criticising the Catholic Church.
A long-time critic of John Paul II whom he accused of overly rigid leadership, his views are no less controversial now that the pontiff is lying in state -- a scene he compares to the chaotic funeral of revolutionary Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini 16 years ago.
'We are seeing ceremonies which are worryingly similar to what we saw with the burial of Ayatollah Khomeini,' Drewermann said in an interview with AFP this week.
'This is not how we should be preaching Christianity.' [...]
He is especially outraged by the late pope's refusal to back the use of condoms which he says helped AIDS to ravage Africa.
'He said condoms were forbidden and yet 25 million people in Africa are facing AIDS.
'At the world population conference in Cairo (in 1994) the Vatican blocked a sensible and effective birth control programme, siding with the ayatollahs and the American fundamentalists.'
Under Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church turned its back on the possibility of a 'spiritual opening', Drewermann charged.
This, he said, prevented serious reflection on how to read and interpret the Bible or, for example, how to interpret the symbols of the New Testament such as the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus.
Drewermann also alleged that the Catholic Church under the leadership of the late pontiff tacitly encouraged a climate of psychological fear among its followers -- a popular theme of his books which have been translated into many languages.
'There were more than 30,000 exorcisms during his reign,' which shows 'that there is a widespread belief that Satan is within people's souls," he said. [...]"

The priestly majority sure has odd notions of good and evil sometimes.
The same Drewermann claimed a couple of years ago, when Washington decided it was time to slap Iraq, that Bush suffered from a father complex, according to Amiland, a blog with a Teutonic typeface: "A look at how Germany looks at the USA. And how Amiland looks back..."
Ami (now a Europundit) was deeply wounded:

"To be honest, I really don't know anything about this guy...," she announced in 'Psychology No One' (Feb 9, 2003). "His bio says that he was booted from the Catholic priesthood and 'studied' psychoanalysis.
The perfect man, it seems, for Spiegel Online to interview about the 'psyche' of President Bush.
The whole interview is a joke, full of leading questions, unsubstantiated statements and pure psycho-babble. The headline says it all: Why Bush Has to Start this War. It pains me to translate any of it.
Basically, Drewermann sees Bush as having a 'father complex.' You see, God and President Bush senior have melted together into some kind of force. And it is this force that is driving the current president to conduct a bigger and better war in Iraq than his father did. No, really, you can't make this stuff up.
Drewermann goes on to say that the US isn't even a democracy anymore, and that freedom of the press is only nominal."

Ami was right ... about one thing anyway. Really, you can't make this stuff up!
There's nothing like just a little historical perspective and a few decent weblinks to the "alternative" press to feel that things have got worse since Drewermann so appalled her!
Contemplating tomorrow's horrors to come and imagining the cost of the security alone -- could Nero have afforded it? -- I remembered a video I've kept of "Clinton's Last Days", which I'll bung online some time. He made it on leaving the White House, especially for journalists. Too funny just to tell, the man had a sense of humour not seen in the Oval Office since.

As for the muzzling, here's a VoW after all. For the release of Shivaree's new 'Who's Got Trouble?' album, 'Les Inrocks' (the French arts and alternative politics weekly I subscribe to) interviewed the singer.
It doesn't pain me to translate a little:

"Wild about jazz and musics in melancholy black and white, Ambrosia Parsley sings as if she's hurting a little. In fact, it's America that hurts her. 'A mood certainly found on the disc is the sadness and the anger of one half of America. More so still in New York, which isn't really America. This Administration has taken us hostage and given us a reason to be angry every day. When the Republican Convention was held in New York, the streets were empty, stores were closed, it was horrible. A musician friend got arrested, he spent three days in a cell for doing nothing but crossing the path of a demonstration on his bicycle.'
On Whose Got Trouble?, Ambrosia's bitter mood has turned into sweeter songs, democratic berceuses a Bill Clinton could have accompanied on the saxophone."
An American colleague of mine at the Factory, visiting "home" rather than reporting, ended up working in New York. She too got arrested. Not for three nights, just one, held at a bus station with other suspects. Why? She found herself caught between two rallies. So she decided to report after all.
When she's back from Vatican City, if she doesn't get arrested there as well -- or try to arrest Mugabe (BBC, which she can't, since he has a special dispensation -- she'd enjoy a splendid 'Pope Watch: What Were They Thinking?' photo page at Blogcritics. That's where Firefoxed RSS newsfeeds (now my previous entry) comes in useful at work.
How are you expected to survive otherwise?
By taking this stuff seriously?

Amid the orgiastic rites of organised religion at its most grotesque, there was one piece of decent news today.
in deeply Muslim northern Nigeria, hardline Islamic preachers who claim vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot, thus allowing polio to regain a hold across chunks of west Africa, got two fingers from the governor of, if I recall correctly, Kebbi State.
He said if families rejected polio vaccinations for their kids, the children would get them by force if necessary. I forget his name, but remember why his spokesman confirmed to the Factory that it was "Yes. Force. If necessary."
Because, he argued, it's in the Koran, where he found an appropriate quote from the Prophet to explain that should lives be endangered, it's a religious duty to protect them. By force. If necessary.
I phoned the Lagos office, to be told that the chance of such a voice being heard amid the tumult from the imams was slender. Maybe as lonely as that of Eugen Drewermann. Nevertheless, I suggested, it might be interesting "if you've time to get a good story about that and contrast it with the Vatican on AIDS."
They're thinking about it.


9:58:28 PM  link   your views? []

I'm chopping up an entry, guessing you don't want the Factory intruding into the fabulous voices any more than I do.
When I left people in southern Africa in peace to do what they did, sorry I let a big story sit longer than it should have done while a technician fixed glitches on my incoming news computer.
Or so he said; while I post stuff in the early hours after the night's other work, one day rolls into another, sleep just a shortish interlude -- later we found a glitch in part of the Factory's internal network, of no interest here, except now it's sorted, people will no longer get the very same "same old": three or four stories that went out to the world then came back, to be sent again by idiots like me.
The techie then gave me what I've wanted for months on my main console, and now they've stopped arguing and surrendered, one first full day with Firefox for Windows made me feel like a 21st century journalist. At last.
Maybe later I'll pester Jo'burg, as asked of me, about Mandela. That still holds true, since most of the media people I've talked have shifted staff on the pretext that all roads lead to Rome.
Somewhere in the Vatican mega-splurge, the BBC' asked its audience: "Are we overdoing the pope?" and was told "Yes". But still I can no longer find the link. Then Rainier III (Wikipedia) died and someone on the Factory's English desk cancelled his holiday to do this.
Who else saw Saul Bellow (Guardian Unlimited) do likewise?
So people said: "Nick, could you check whether the Mandela bios and stuff are up to date."
Then there's Fidel Castro. How old's the Dalai Lama while we're at it?
I can't blame cautious bosses caught up in the funereal maelstrom for the "what if?" feeling, but firmly call it paranoia.
And I'm superstitious about having "deathwatch files" updated.
This gives me claustrophobia.
Death's not a deadline. I know many people are celebrating their pontiff's life, I respect that, but each day it's more of an institutional nightmare I find morbid and unhealthy.

An encouraging small victory

After my success as technological "pioneer", Firefox showed me what several people's weblogs (including this one) and other sites can look how they should at work, instead of being mangled sometimes by Internet Explorer.
But what won me a decent browser was my insistence I need to read RSS newsfeeds, scarcely an outrageous demand in the 21st century. And already today, that proved extremely handy.
They may protest, but if faced with similar resistance, I suggest anybody in a simliar position urge their bosses to do the same if they've a costly computer park made of Microsoft.
It's not as if I'll throw away IE6. It's not as if I said "Please chuck out Windows and give us OS X." I suspect those who said "yes" now anticipate further such demands from people who need the Net to work ... if you promise to be a good and computer-savvy "guinea pig (at the Factory, there is a real technical objection if you're stupid, because one part of our system is incompatible with Firefox. But then you can use IE).
It took me just 10 minutes before the end of day flurry to set everything up as I wanted it, including an initial bunch of RSS newsfeeds via Sage, plus a non-distracting but useful Africa news ticker at the bottom of the browser. Today, it took me another half-hour between news stories to add other sources to the ticker and the rest of the newsfeeds I'd turn to instantly at home. And that was it.
Firefox's multiple tabs, of course, make IE a stone-age research tool.
It took so very little to "make a man happy with a new toy", after so much fuss, that I may shut up more and work harder yet with everyday indispensable bookmarks already tabbed open and needed -- I hope -- long before any deathwatch files.
This is trivial, scarcely a small blow for the revolution; it's symptomatic of the System, an absurdity and lethargy which are often nobody's "fault" in particular, just a failure to hand out harmless small freedoms of choice without putting up a fight.


12:39:26 AM  link   your views? []

mercredi 6 avril 2005
 

Raw like rare steak served in chunky cuts, deceptive, guitar alone or brash and heavy. Scratchy and spare, around 'The Party' centerpiece.
The music can be so repetitive I should hate this stuff, but Cynthia Dall gets away with it.
Sinister and engrossing, the iTMS bites from 'Sound Restores Young Men' (Sep 2002) drew me at once. With a woman-child's voice not always clear behind the wall.
Cynthia DallBefore I knock off for a while, Dall (promo pic) gets her turn. Heck, the very title's right for a mood I've had: strange and wanting strange.
Getting just the music and cover art at the iTMS price, without the extras, can be worth it, slowly to realise it's a "concept album", replayed, still half-understood.
It must be spring: what better time for a swiftly met, eyes-closed feeling of intimacy with a near stranger in the dark? Who's undressing the other? Who's thinking? It's tactile music, an exploration, familiar and weird.
At Venuszine, Noreen Sobczyk filled holes:

"Sound Restores Young Men is supposed to tell the story of a young woman struck mute after witnessing her mother's murder. I had a hard time following that story, and found it similar to trying to discern the plot of a David Lynch film. (...)
The music is earnest but simplistic. Sound Restores Young Men sounds like the first effort of a performer just finding her voice (it's actually her second album) ... I look at Cynthia Dall as a diamond in the rough, and look forward to hearing future efforts."
Mute, OK, but there's more. And Noreen wants more "dissonance ... tension". I agree, along with her Lynch feeling; but 'ananas_bracteatus' (Amazon US, comment is sparing anywhere), gets
"a wish to explode with joy and laugh at the same time. I just have this haunting fear that she is singing the most evil BS. That her lyrics worship the nazi god and that she is condemning the underappreciated practice of abortion. I don't need the christian right (or its close hippy surrogates) in my life."
I don't know about the "most evil BS" and this isn't a great album, but often pretty good, and will get a third and more hearings, from 'Be Safe with Me' through to 'Snake Blood and Vodka' ... when I'm in a Pandora's box mood.
Buy this? At an iTMS or Amazon Fr price, sure, if you want to risk a fresh soundtrack for a dangerous mood. Or wickedly jealous...
"When you talk about her, I feel as if I'd been in her myself," Dall sings in the core track, a thought spoken aloud.
It's painful, it's private, it's certainly not that white dress. Next time, I'd like to hear more of the strength sometimes apparent in Cynthia's voice, too often closed in here -- deliberately?

zzz

Reality kicks in with a "Damn, I know what I'd die for, kiss me improbably stupid!" but 'Sound Restores Young Men' is adult fantasy territory.
So I like it, a counterpoint when drained by screenplay nights and early rising, and nourished by a deep hope to be kept to myself. Yeah, even by me, though logging and life have inexorably said, "Open up! There's no shame in it any more."
I plead my right to private full fantasy nights. The finest fantasies should end up being shared, but not with everybody. They're like the secrets I'll keep but ask some of you to keep coming in.
The next VoW must wait a while. Meanwhile, just a tip. On my list, 'Before the Poison', Marianne Faithfull's latest. Venuszine last month caught her act.
I've got to finish the mail!
The previous entry, by the way, needed a rewrite, only partly for fun. When I ask people, "Are entries getting too long, please be honest?" they say "No", better "Not yet"; sometimes mutter about (fifth?) columnist.
If you disagree, say so. I'm adaptable.


12:46:22 AM  link   your views? []

mardi 5 avril 2005
 

ATTENTION - UPDATES, CLARIFIES nonsensical statements, ADDS potty quotes, DELETES garbled par garbage /
[That's called, in the trade, the "trash line", since you have to tell 'em what's new. Agency journos word it more cautiously in practice, if not intent, when required. Clients get the message. The mainstream story's going to run... and run... but my initial "sidebar" post displeased me: things I couldn't say right. And you need a break or two...]

"Hot? Bring on the girls!"

If Paul Kagame's Rwanda -- when I call him "the Ariel Sharon of east central Africa" some say "Hmm. See what you mean..." -- had failed to drop venom into the sea of praise washing in waves over the Vatican, you might almost believe the dead pope was a saint.
Saturation coverage! Second day in, the Factory risked resending its own stories, based by clients' readers on what we all reported yesterday and disguised by them as brand new reactions. One anonymous guy who monitors output said: "Not enough pope and Africa." Overhearing, I said: 'Far too much pope and everywhere else."
So the chief invited extra women to help out, Ieaving me pretending to be gobsmacked.

They're smart and fine-looking additions to the usual cast. Pia from Stockholm has done time in Paris before.
"Don't call me Debbie, but Deb's OK" -- yes, that made sense just on taking a new face in -- from Berlin was someone of almost unknown qualities to me.
Kagame's lot seized their chance to strike a discordant note in the "Hallelujah Chorus" about the wonderful things John Paul II did. They reminded the world some servants of the church were steeped to their armpits in blood in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda (the Global Policy Forum, an international consultancy panel to the UN Security Council, summed up the sordid story in 2001).
In that country, 'Hotel Rwanda' (iMDB) just got its premiere. No comment before I've seen it, except that Paul Rusesabagina, the man it's about, played by Don Cheadle in Terry George's strongly cast film wasn't there, his given reason "ill health," with the suspicion, on record, believes it unwise to go back after a recent comment that a new slaughter's going on.
Many Rwandans said they appreciated it; some wept, remembering; others found it more "real" than Raoul Peck's 'Sometimes in April', which had too much politics, too few people's personal tragedies, for them.

I mildly protested to desk chief David that editorial reinforcements are non-existent or very rare when Africa's struck by 19 simultaneous calamities, but it takes just the demise of "an old man in Rome to surround me with great women".
"It's called temptation," he replied, with the small smile we were told to expect once he'd got used to his bunch of people feeding your newspapers, radios and tellies with many of their stories.
In fact, it's called the realpolitik (Wikipedia) of the media. Big bosses the world over decide what matters to the woman and man in the street and which news is most likely to fatten their own wallets. The Factory can hardly be an exception.
If you fear more moans about the way news is packaged, forget it. Entries last month said all I'd like to see set right in a wiser, less frenzied world.
No.
I was happy with the background noise of Pia and Deborah debating which of the hotels the Factory had plotted to keep them in for a week was the most revolting. This changed fast enough, probably precisely because they are striking women. I don't recall previous guests getting such service. That, too, is the way of the world.
Deb later reminded me she chose to remain in hers; Pia moved and pinched a breakfast yoghurt, hasn't learned to chuck it over Factory keyboards to keep them going.
And somebody on a crackling line asked me, in passing, "Are you bowled over by Deborah's good looks?"
Blimey! "Am I bowled over by Deborah's good looks? Yes, I'm bowled over by Deborah's good looks."
Deborah said: "You'll make me blush," but didn't.
I swore revenge and a "What kind of question is that?" award, but won't.
If somebody ever reads this, Deborah says "Hi!"

To worsen matters on Monday, Ellie was making her weekly visit but looking far too concentrated for me to risk remarks that sprung to mind after last week's lengthy account of what's happened since I was an idiot. Remember, her role in it saw these pages get a stunning number of hits. I nearly went into hibernation again.
I even forgot the Squip's birthday. She didn't, but having hit me with "podcasting", she's trying to inflict it on everybody ('Dusting my Brain') [apology tendered: comments] at a place that keeps changing colour and design.
Now please don't tell me it's nothing but sex and more of the real dirt I dare disclose you'll be wanting henceforth.

Imagine the further trouble I'd risk seeking a classic LP scene, as recounted by Laura Burhenn -- yes, iTMS, she's indeed "explicit" but good -- in 'Cleveland Hotel No 2', on 'Wanderlust'.
I shan't quote lines to make Deborah and Pia change colour themselves, particularly since Pia's only known me for a screwed-up mess.
The woman from Berlin and its risk-taking new music scene needs only to know that if a desk chief and his System superiors sticks "temptation" in hotels and I have yet to receive two fingers, a setting straight or an unlikely surprise -- for the usual research purposes -- I'm irredeemably guilt-free.
El remains an unknown quantity. She may take this nonsense in her stride like she did worse. The LP's kept me working very hard. When I woke up early on Sunday, it was to find computer on, late supper unfinished and planned bedtime reading untouched, since the film's characters were having such an odd time in a tricky, unfinished scene they wrote me to sleep. Still were last night, before I left them and wrote this. Women!

"Sorry, love. You've found the wrong address."

Cyndy, now among the "remarkable writers" because I've liked her attitude and scribblings since last week, reminded me women sometimes have problems understanding men, but put her finger on part of the dilemma a few days ago in Proud yet Painful at 'mousemusings'.

"Men have always been good to me, my closest friends. I think I communicate more in the male realm. After reading the [following] article I know I don't fit in the woman's mold. No, I don't fit with men entirely either, but I can understand their little blogging cliques. If they get too fraternal I just don't visit. Simple. Same thing in the physical world.
Sometimes I don't understand either sex. When my old friend called looking for my childhood best friend, his old girlfriend, it was a nice phone reunion, even though I couldn't help with her location. When he subsequently found her and wanted me to call her for him, I couldn't. I just couldn't. It's been a bit intense with him pressing, me resisting, finally ending with his writing and passing along my email address to her. He wasn't fully aware of what had happened to our friendship and I couldn't understand why he didn't feel comfortable calling her himself. Men!"
For some thoughts based on experience, I'd write something "in the orchard".
For a quick answer, I'd say "cliques", "intensity," "pressing," "uncomfortable". Her own words. Cyndy found a 1990 Washington Post article by Deborah Tannen: 'Sex, Lies and Conversation: Why is it so Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?'
Here's a generalisation, but true: because often they don't. They talk past each other.
Both men and women are good at making cliques, from which I flee, especially when they consist of men: whether it's football or old school ties. They're tedious.

Cyndy says she communicates "more in the male realm". Me? Behind a womaniser mask it's fun to wear -- but just a mask, Squip! -- I get along much better with women, as a whole, because as we've known for months for sure, much of the time I think like one. My brain came that way, like being left-handed.

"But often when women tell men, 'You aren't listening,' and the men protest, 'I am,' the men are right. The impression of not listening results from misalignments in the mechanics of conversation. The misalignment begins as soon as a man and a woman take physical positions,"
says Tannen, outlining what happened when the Kid reproached me and didn't like it when I repeated every word back at her, then replied. As Tannen explains, men and women often have different languages, both in vocabulary and with their bodies, interests, and above all, expectations.

If I cared tuppence about social status and hierarchies, excessive competitiveness and power play, in or out of the Factory, I wouldn't get on half as well with women, though I'm known on ultra-rare occasions to wear a tie, whose purpose bewildered me until someone I'm reading said "It's an arrow pointing: 'Look at my dick!'"
And if Ellie hadn't taught me to concentrate on detail, very often the really small stuff, as women do, the film wouldn't be going nearly so well, full of life instead of a handful of Big Ideas made insupportably dull by cardboard characters.

"Little girls create and maintain friendships by exchanging secrets; similarly, women regard conversation as the cornerstone of friendship. So a woman expects her husband to be a new and improved version of a best friend. What is important is not the individual subjects that are discussed but the sense of closeness, of a life shared, that emerges when people tell their thoughts, feelings, and impressions."
Tannen again.
I'm in no mood for an orchard stroll, finding a funny or poetic way of giving you more screenplay plot: the detail of ways I hear growing numbers of men and women sharing languages, secrets and expectations.
Africa's all mine again in the morning. Next week's worse and the chief can't give me anyone off the desk, let alone have a Deb or Pia stay to help me out. Such is life, a life in which despite being agreeably surrounded, my occasionally "badly" behaved body part gave me no trouble. Next time it does, I won't be blogging it. I'm into secrets too, and still extremely attentive to the Best of True Sex Stories, as long as they're especially funny or absurd. I won't be rewarded for indiscretion.
A last bit of front-page "fuckinfilosofy" almost goes without saying: not one of us has a single-sex mind. Nobody. Men who contend they do, particularly the machos, are almost invariably near basket-cases of insecurity and even paranoia, though often they don't realise it. Among women, insecurity and fear can take different shapes. If it's hysteria or "tsunamis", I switch off until they've calmed down. But the worst thing is to take any of it, or themselves, very seriously and it's because Jacob knows this that the 'verseguru' got blogrolled, not because he found me first.

"I can't find the words."

Siona -- whom of course I fancy, like half the blogrolled women -- has recently been having trouble with time, but she said something I liked last month:

"I keep running out of vocabulary. I keep exceeding my capacity for emotion."
Call me articulate, but do I know that feeling, how words don't come close!
An ex-muse's private life has no place here, but the characters in the LP are better than me at finding ways to express complex cocktails of emotions, mine and those of others. I let them, just knock shape into it.
When El quits the Factory and it's been no place for any kind of fun with her except when it comes to the work, always the work, who can really make sense of how the hot passion and stung "wanting" I felt for her last year briefly fires up again, but tempered by the laid-back, forever live and let live love I feel now, working through me? It can be a sad, horny, silly, happy mix-up for an hour or two. And who can tell the emotional overload a dad with a daughter for a great friend and now a life very much her own feels with each "see you soon"? We all go through stuff like this.

So what's the VoW thing?

Women often tell it best, just as they can talk sex better than many men, take "porn" without pumping and grinding, add touch and feeling and sense, make it much more erotic. Hence my thing about stuff they sing. Take Laura Burhenn (her site). You'll not find her music at Amazon. If you're Josh Faust ('The Conjecturer' -- new address), she warmed your heart in being "very helpful vandalizing his Jeep, and wound up being a fun partner with whom to sing "I Believe in a Thing Called Love'..." (Josh last May). He added:

"Laura Burhenn is a perfect example of how independent musicians will eventually save the record industry from itself, from the downward spiral of over-marketed throwaway acts and slutty teenagers pandering to lecherous old men. She breaks all the molds of the young, beautiful, aspiring singer, and does so in a way that surpasses many established female songstresses."
Heard of Laura? Better still, listened to Laura? If so, great. If not, she'll blow you away. I hope. Happy sad and so much more. Our lives, her take on them.

Here are a few names, a handful famous, some known, others obscure:
Jennifer Terran. Autour de Lucie. Bettina Covo. Gemma Hayes. Caecilie Norby. Jolie Holland. Emma Milan. Sarah Fimm. Natalie Imbruglia. Sahara Hotnights. Keren Ann. Delta Goodrem. HEM. Coralie Clement. Dani Siciliano. Ojos de Brujo. Julia Hülsmann. Rebekka Bakken. Ellen Allien. Jessica Dye. Liz Phair. KT Tunstall. Eliane Elias. Sharon Allitt. Julia Fordham. The very young Michelle Branch, who, like the Kid, has got something special and a maturity ahead of her years, to catch up with herself if the industry doesn't, heaven forbid, Britney spear her brain.
Yes. The Kid blew it when she led her dad to unexplored shelves at Virgin and in the FNAC!
Now she gets the surprises. "PJ Harvey? Camille? Hey! Can I, can I, can I...?" She knows she may. It's an open library, on condition nobody gets ripped off, above all the artists.
Since lists are boring, that's only a bit of the bunch, all women, many first-rate lyricists, tried and tested for long enough, good album from bad, to sell their voices to me. Some are just starting out. Natalie Imbruglia (almost Official) is, of course, Australian. Sahara Hotnights (.com) are four Swedish women. They need a boost, encouragement. Even Natalie, if she's to keep it, stay herself. The habit of comparing one voice with another by "critics" is so common it's dangerously abused. OK, she may sound "a bit like..." and to say so can give clues, but no more than that.
Styles in the list range from electronic to tango, rock anthem to very cool jazz, blue poetry to new age, whatever. I've left out the many Africans, most of the stars who've grown up without losing it, which is why I admire Madonna, the dunno-what Indian fusion...

I'll be careful to avoid making the bank manager see red again, but I've got deep into the VoW project, because Ana Gracey is a long way from alone in needing all the promotion and informed, constructive "criticism" she can get, mostly of the "Since you've got it, why not risk...?" kind.
If I tell you about already well-known song-writer musicians, it'll be when I hear things others may not have said. It's fantastic fun, full of insights, and I'm discovering song after song so good it stops me being able to read in the Métro or elsewhere because somebody's telling me stories either straight or with great wit and wordplay so well that occasionally I wonder why I ever bother to write another word myself. I concentrate and absorb.
If this goes on, anything that's ever happened to anybody may be somewhere on my iPod, often in the voice of a woman, along with countless dreams and flights into other dimensions. Lapses into banal lyrics don't bother me greatly if the music's good.
This stuff has to be shared. I'll still do sci-fi reviews and the like occasionally, but the screenplay and promoting real talent without hype and bullshit now take priority over anything else but friends. If an artist ceases to be themselves, just part and "product" of the System, I lose interest.

I almost wish those who sustain my insatiable curiosity laid off sex more often (as of course they quite often do) because this may mean too more nights like last night. My sole wish on leaving the Factory was to lay somebody hot and get laid, with lots of fun and no fuss. Just really well and the longer the better.
Instead here I am, a head filled with fine set words, the right sounds. There's no sex in that tricky LP scene, but my ears took in the occasional memorably sticky line about how some woman's juices are flowing and what they'd like done about it. Straight away. Never heard the like on the radio when I was a lad. Often still don't. Censorship is stronger than we like to imagine. I reckon it'll get worse for some who tell it like it is. After all, anybody can be called a "terrorist": what a useful way for a System to wage "permanent war" on its "enemies within". And you're stuck with this drivel...
Oh well, poor sap I may be, but the sap keeps right on rising.
It's spring.


2:15:43 AM  link   your views? []

dimanche 3 avril 2005
 

Yes, "from abracadabra to zombies" sums me up.
The second state followed a Friday nuit blanche working on a suddenly inspired episode of the LP and revamping this log. By around 4:30 am I decided it would be silly to go to bed when I might occupy the hours until sunrise by doing my accounts and drawing up a budget plan for the next few months.
The little that remains of my Anglican upbringing whispers "pain before pleasure". It would be unwise to rush to the iTMS again without having ensured I've got a practicable "cultural" budget allowance that's no business of the wretched bank. Since then I've travelled round the world.
A rare attack of guilt seized me on overhauling the blogroll from top to bottom, since I've abandoned some of those "remarkable writers" for weeks, but everyone's there who should be. It's up to date, though three or four fell by the wayside.

Now the pope's definitely dead, there's a section of site about the religious and ethical issues raised by the seemingly interminable departure at Blogcritics, where they've kept me on as a contributor though I've written none in ages.
After my outburst at the "obscenity" of it, worsened by headlines about "agony" in several French weekend papers, I commend Sam Vaknin for a very thoughtful entry there about 'Euthanasia and the Right to Die', in which he gives us a brief historical perspective before tackling many of the moral and medical debates. For me, a person's right to die under many circumstances is inalienable, but Sam is good at tacking the "slippery slope" questions before observing that:

"Anti-euthanasia ethicists fear that allowing one kind of euthanasia - even under the strictest and explicit conditions - will open the floodgates. The value of life will be depreciated and made subordinate to considerations of economic efficacy and personal convenience. Murders, disguised as acts of euthanasia, will proliferate and none of us will be safe once we reach old age or become disabled.
"Years of legally sanctioned euthanasia in the Netherlands, parts of Australia, and a state or two in the United States tend to fly in the face of such fears. Doctors did not regard these shifts in public opinion and legislative climate as a blanket license to kill their charges. Family members proved to be far less bloodthirsty and avaricious than feared."
The opening A-Z came from 'A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions and Dangerous Delusions,' or succinctly Skepdic, which I fell upon deviously after checking the Fembat's new bloghome, to learn that she too has had fun with bankers.
icopulatePerhaps feelings I occasionally have about the right of bankers to live are best kept to myself. French and other consumer magazines have shown me there's no point in discharging my debit from one bank and taking it to another, since they're all thieves. It's just the con scam that varies. My new arrangement with the IMF ensures that my payments are checked instantaneously and turned down if the System disapproves. That's OK, since the notion of "iCopulation™" might have been an intriguing one, enabling me to share perhaps more than one should.
If I believed it.
"Features of [that coupling device] include:
  • Works with any second generation iPod® or later with a dock connector (will not work with the iPod Shuffle®)
  • Transfer audio tracks and files directly, faster than real time
  • Includes one 1.62 volt watch battery for up to 8 months of sustained iCopulation™
  • Support for single track and album transfer, entire playlist transfer, or transfer of all songs and files on the device
  • Unique, ribbed, Latex sleeve surrounding embedded electronics for enhanced iPod® safety and increased user comfort
  • Includes one 8oz tube of non-toxic strawberry scented iLube™"
Price: 69.69, currency unspecified.
The rest of the nonsense is to be enjoyed at 'ThinkGeek'.

Me, I've been remembering my rusty HTML, relieved that most people were slumbering while the clutter before your appalled eyes was even worse than it is now the log has seen all the changes it will in a while.
The mail, good people, I deal with later today, before having some more fun at the iTMS in search of striking VoW noises and perusing a few more places in the list on the left.

FeistThe abracadabra work here complete, I imagine you'll find me frowned on soon in the Skeptic's Dictionary on the strength of utterings in the new "long shorthand" set of "Nick-isms" and abbreviations I'll no longer be spelling out every time I refer to ongoing projects finally shown the light of day.
This list further clutters the house, I know, but will be given less prominence once those interested in the screenplay and the music are used to the shorthand.
Otherwise, however, I've completed stuff behind the scenes to try to ensure this log loads faster, unless there are glitches with things like the blogroll and Amazon servers.
The woman here is the Feist, now a fellow Parisian, who came up with the current song lines pinched for one of the easier navigation links. Mentioned before, this great artist has given many gigs of late, but hasn't yet come out with a second album since 'Let It Die' (no euthanasia at issue). When she does ... well, what I'll do must be obvious by now.


1:15:25 PM  link   your views? []

vendredi 1 avril 2005
 

Bread and circuses were nothing to this!
It's become so sickening a spectacle that Anouk, close to the top of the 'VoW', was just the total brainwash job required the instant I was out of there, leaving others to inane racket pouring out of the telly.
Somebody ticked me off for the length and distraction of my phone calls to Africa, which is fair enough when sometimes I overdo it, but understood my own earlier plea: "If we don't need that, can we please have the sound off?"
AnoukNot with Anouk, though. No iTMS? Amazon France puts her at 25 euros ... or less. What price a voice after a day of death rattle? What a relief.

"Obscene" is a word you'll see here rarely, but today's return of the "What do we say to go with the pictures?" gabblers and cameras to the Vatican and the long, long death of an old man meets two of the online Webster's definitions: "d: so excessive as to be offensive" and "c: repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles."
Spiritual? This?
I'd have pulled the plugs on papal life support weeks ago without compunction, perfectly aware of the "high moral issues" involved. A Latin American journalist said during a smoke break: "If he wants to show Christian charity, scarcely characteristic of most of his time in the job, he might at least hold off until Monday now, rather than screw up another weekend."
No, it wasn't charitable of her, but neither's the news. Others said "The sooner, the better." For all concerned. I asked one lot in Africa how they knew, as one story begun, "Roman Catholics across Africa were praying Friday for the health of Pope John Paul II..."
"Because a cardinal said so: it's in the quote." No doubt.

Compassion comes hard when this authoritarian pontiff has insisted on iron rules that have caused so much suffering, HIV-AIDs just a part of it, and any part of my heart that once thought "Just put an end to the man's own suffering" feels very hard tonight about a powerful, wealthy, historically ruthless religion when it perpetuates pain as the "will of God" for humanity.

The prolongation of life by 21st century medicine, combined with the Church's determination that its "God's will be done" turns my stomach, along with the chance that the next pope may well be an African, Cardinal Francis Arinze, portrayed at USAfricaonline.
What Nigerian Chido Nwangwu, admiring his "unique and distinctly cerebral" compatriot in 1999, then had no reason to tell us is that should white smoke go up for a black pope, this one has a hard line to walk regarding his "domestic audience".
Arinze's caught between extreme Islamic zealots in the north and rigidly right-wing Bible bashers down south, which could mean precisely that: a hardliner in Rome, which is bad news for developing countries already up against the daily hypocrisy of politicians and bankers in our own industrialised world.
"Not a good day," one journalist in Africa told me after a bout of visa problems in his office and a press briefing missed because of a crazy traffic jam.
"Not one here either," I replied. "Same story all over."

Anouk (home page)?
She's Dutch, she's got soul, she's got lyrics that tease and talk to me far more directly than your average priest, she's got a new album out, 'Hotel New York,' and she gets better with every gutsy CD.
The title track of 'Together Alone' was exactly what my neuron needed, off to a quiet and lyrical start, a feather duster for frayed nerves, before her superb band kicks in suddenly with the kind of mind-blasting noise I've come to enjoy since the Kid first led me quite a while ago to the heavy metal shelves at Virgin and brought me up to date on what's good, really good.
She'll like Anouk, who'll get more of a write-up as the 'VoW' project develops, since the woman's another of the multiform artists I won't pin a label on (others just say "rock"), and into a wide range of styles. All done well. And we're only into the 'A's.

Aino LaosAnouk is quite famous. Not so -- yet -- Aino Laos, another try before you buy at the iTMS, at least in France, now they're adventurous.
Try Amazon and at present you'll be wasting your time, but CD Baby introduces her 'Harvest Moon'.
"Mesmerising," yes, "alternative," yes, "new age," maybe. Define "grunge" for me, thanks Wikipedia, and I'll tell you Aino throws in a dose of that sometimes.
Agreeably.
It's good for the system.
The Vatican's a system gone bad, but the right stuff in the ears clears the reek up the nostrils.


11:00:45 PM  link   your views? []

"Wanted!
For roughly a month (or a rough month):
WEST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT
Multiple languages, incl. French and Filth, essential.
Regional knowledge: all the dirt.
Working hours: till you almost drop.
Diplomatic skills: useful.
Dakar-based, willingness to travel and report swiftly and accurately: indispensable.
Pay: zero (non-negotiable)."
This means her fans won't be hearing more adventures of one of my sanity's daily guardians, the husky-voiced, foul-mouthed, smartly funny Lauren for a while, since she leaves at 3:00 am on holiday. It's high time Bernie had her to himself for some weeks.
The well-deserved break for a soul always ready to go the extra mile means I've begun already to redistribute the daily workload among the Factory's Africa hands to suit where possible, since when one of the regional pros quits for a while they're not replaced.
The hardest thing to replace, even if feasible and considered cost-effective by the paymasters, is always the humour, along with an idea or two best planted out back to take seed. So I have, beginning with utter idiots in the office and a cyberspatial first of the month kiss for a fly-baby.
Fancy a bit more 'fooling around?' Join the nymphs in our orchard [eventide edit: with apologies to anybody stuck with a triple post for much of a day, as I grow used to my own new arrangements].
You get to meet Peter and Becky.
And I get to sleep on who gets the non-virtual kiss of the day. Can I make it speechless past all women till Emma?


2:00:09 AM  link   your views? []

"Idiots in the office are just as hazardous to your health as cigarettes, caffeine or greasy food, an eye-opening new study reveals. In fact, those dopes can kill you! (...)
'You can cut back on smoking or improve your diet,' Dr [Dagmar] Andersson [of Sweden's Lindbergh University Medical Center] says, 'but most people have very poor coping skills when it comes to stupidity -- they feel there's nothing they can do about it, so they just internalize their frustration until they finally explode.'
Stupid co-workers can also double or triple someone's work load, she explains."
These truths were brought to my multiple-compartment attention by Peter the Great, in a photocopy of a newspaper article.
Peter often comes up with stuff worth sharing with my most persistent kind of visitor, but he's no regular blog-reader and may thus learn with me that it's a Nov 21, 2002 story by Kate McClare, picked up ages ago by 'iWork with Fools', where sadly most people feel a need to hide their names.
Since there's one born every minute, the occasional reminder of such scientific investigations into what most of us already know is useful.
'iWorkwithFools' is open to all sufferers. This place remains reserved for the trials and tribulations of my friends and colleagues in need of an outlet for complaints and the rare exclamations of joy and ecstacy that don't fit into the System, as long as they keep the right side of the law and relate to lives as most people have them.

The fact that Sweden's Lindbergh University Medical Center doesn't exist is immaterial, since this is early April 1, when I'll later be busy making sure nobody tries to slip a fast one past my editorial eye. There's always someone ready to have a go, disobeying a diktat which wasn't of my making but AFP rules.
Soon winging her way out of Africa for a while, Lauren won't be among them and I'll cheerfully follow her pre-flight advice to stay the right side of stupid as well, when she learned that the bank tonight sent me a secret code to go with the new functioning card. Indeed, what I've done, now being serious in intent regarding both the LP and the VOW project, is to set myself a monthly budget allowance for these non-profit initiatives: cash others would put aside for vacations or their cars.

Since once this log took the loyal with me on a sometime arduous and serious journey into the understanding and healing of fragmented identity and neuro-chemical disorders, I'll still keep you abreast sometimes of how it can be for others faced with such problems and who find the courage to confront them openly.
Last November, for example, Becky, a brave young Indiana Gemini, found relief in saying "my conclusion of the day is that if you are feeling fat and stupid, maybe it's not just low self-esteem talking."
No. It isn't. Nor will I detail the "synch story" of my day about a bright French journalist explaining how her mother met her at an airport after six months' separation with the greeting: "O Lord! What have you done to yourself?" The answer lay in Beirut mezzes by the forklift truck-load followed by a New York stint and hamburger lunches.

She's dealt with it. So have I. We both got the help needed. And we've tightened our belts. But Becky's 'tidal moods' led her, to a multi-authored research report on 'Depression and Obesity: A Complex Relationship' (Psychiatric Times, Oct 2004) which isn't beyond the grasp of the lay reader.
Her dormant site has a blogroll with a more comprehensive list of good links than you'll find left in my own, while young Becky's moved on to voice the kind of anti-established ideas I've come to expect from any good QR:

"Being gay or engaging in homosexual activity is not disordered. It's simply ordered differently from the mainstream. There's nothing unnatural about gay partnership. For centuries, gays have raised children and formed communities of acceptance.
And for centuries, the church has maligned these people. And despite the 'oh we love everyone' tone of [some Roman Catholic clerical garbage], it's clear that the author actually does have a bias against gays. His sources are unacceptably out-of-date and obviously picked to support a prejudicial point that simply is no longer true.
Ugh.
I just cannot support this. It's wrong. I know it in some part of me that exists before thinking and sentience and all that goo" ('The Valkyrie of Discarded Thought').

"valkryie" is the user name of the part of this Mac of mine set aside for friends to do what they like on. And the back garden of this log is -- as now you now -- for explorations of people's parts that existed "before thinking and sentience and all that goo".
I've almost no patience left for idiots, but lots for some "fools".
So did 15th century-born theologian Erasmus, who chose to be "unhindered by country, academic ties, religious allegiance and anything else that might interfere with his freedom of intellect and literary expression" (Wikipedia).
In 1509, he decided to give Thomas More's neuron a rest and some fun with a few well-aimed blows at received ideas of his day by writing 'Praise of Folly' and then telling Sir Tom ('stupidity.com').

The problem was, if you to take a look, Erasmus began as a pre-telly Rotterdam stand-up comedian who found

"it only takes the mere sight of me to give you all a different look. For great orators must as a rule spend time preparing long speeches and even then find it difficult to succeed in banishing care and trouble from your minds, but I've done this at once and simply by my looks."
By the time he was through -- 'stupidity' uses a translation by Betty Radice -- he'd taken himself to bits and left some of his audience, admiring and bewildered by turns, and even 21st-century QRs with a piece of satire which is pompous, sometimes, but useful.

Times were that an April Fool's Day celebration might have led me to an exploration of the art of stupidity, but that site does a pretty good job of it. Worse still, there's a "psychology of stupidity", which is a potting ground among scientists who reckon they're not and are smart enough -- as in 'Protective Stupidity' by the Rev Dr Michael Ellner -- to tackle a "Big Lie" with worse whoppers of their own, as on HIV-AIDS, which become clear for what they are only if you care to stick a curious nose, like my favourite journalist friends, where it's not wanted: behind the scenes.
Because that's where you find that an edifice of Big Ideas is built on very dodgy foundations.

With a bit of help, truly common sense and a readiness to follow our intuitions -- that gut sense of the right thing to do I find is an innate survival mechanism most people I talk to about such stuff seem to have, but few dare to follow as often they should because of pressure from family, friends or alleged superiors and sets of often self-imposed rules which also become senseless on closer inspection -- you end up, like Erasmus, somewhere far more interesting.

All the science is fine, even great fun if you're into that kind of thing, but my most recommended link of the day is the work of a woman who's decided to compile a journal on 'Scrapping the Difficult Times' and much more.
"There are people who feel that the less said the better and that bad things are best forgotten. While others feel that everything needs to be out in the open to promote healing," Denny observes on a page headed with a wise epigram: "Those who judge, don't matter ... those who matter, don't judge."
Except, maybe themselves. Like me, she's simply made a choice.

Denny (home) is as pragmatically prolific as Mrs Beeton was in her day about much more than good cooking. She's also far politer than me, but often funny and reminds us that "just because something is amusing doesn't mean there isn't some truth to it".
Unless you want to wind up days full of angry stress at stupidity, both your own and other people's, the truth is worse. The people who don't like Heavy Stuff have taught me that just because something is serious doesn't mean there isn't a lot of humour to it.

Erasmus stuck a huge nose in the mirror, saw an ugly old wretch, and put paid to him in 'Praise of Folly'. I'm much better looking than Erasmus, and not stuck with a church which tries to park its rules between me and, for instance, women who share that view.
That's cool. The sap's rising. What's cooler still is that praising folly -- rather than the stupidity that kills -- is an open invitation to my favourite non-martial art.
If you can't beat the system, try to be non-violent and see no point in fighting it because that usually makes it even more stupid and mad, then you're talking (yes, you've got it): subversion.


1:37:43 AM  link   your views? []


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