Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Online Code

Here's a little secret you may not have decoded, largely because you probably aren't in regular contact with me online.

If I refer to you as 'mr'/'mister' without including your name afterwards, it usually means that:

a) I've slept with you
b) I want to sleep with you
c) I used to have a crush on you and call you that out of habit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Message anxiety

I'm starting to think there's something wrong with me. I get anxious whenever I don't get replies to emails, facebook messages and SMS messages. Which, in reality, is understandable, because people aren't always online/next to their phones, or even if they are, they probably have other things to attend to, right?

I think part of it might be the fact that I'm almost continuously connected to the internet and all its attendant messaging media, from the moment I wake up (before I put on my make-up) I tweet a little prayer for you...

Unfortunately, with my job, there's not really an easy option to disentangle myself from this web of communication. Well, perhaps there is, but I don't have the self-discipline to shut off my channels of connectivity. But perhaps I should try harder. It's certainly not a healthy thing to be spending half of your day semi-preoccupied with the fact that people haven't responded to your messages.

I need to learn to be more asynchronous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reprise

So over three months have passed since I wrote anything in this blog. I'm not counting the photo-posts from my Thai holiday, as excellent as they were, I'm sure you all agree. Part of me wonders why it's been so long - it's not like being busy has ever stopped me from writing a little post here and there - and part of me wonders if I feel the need to maintain a personal blog anymore.

Thoughts?

I think one major contributor to my inactivity on this blog would have to be my new-found preoccupation with my other (food)blog. I write there at least a few times a week. This is a little worrying, because it indicates I eat out far too often.

The other contributing factor would have to be twitter. When I first started tweeting, I thought of it as a cross between a facebook status update (I was on facebook before I hit twiter) and instant messaging. While it still serves both these functions, I finally understand why people were early on labelling it 'micro-blogging'. There is the potential there to quickly and easily post a short, sharp missive, link in tow, and move on with your life. I tweeted it, I'm over it, I've moved on. But does that instant acknowledgement-through-broadcast actually stop me from engaging with the things and concepts about which I'm posting? I think it might. And that worries me.

Ultimately, this is yet another one of those posts where I (or insert other blogger here) pledges to write more often, I guess. Why does the blogosphere seem so easy to categorise? I blame the tags.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New decade, new life.

Well, it's been over a month since I last posted, and what a month and a half it's been!

Blogger tells me my previous post was on December 16th, which was two days before I fell in love. For reals. No wonder I've not been posting, huh? It's a little bleak, but sometimes I feel like I blog the things I don't have someone next to me to tell. Well, that's probably not wholly why I blog, but there's an element to it. All that ludicrousness about getting out there and living life, instead of sitting in front of a computer and writing about it.

I've just lost 80% of my audience there, haven't I? Because we all know mostly bloggers read blogs. Sorry bloggers, I'm not generalising, it's just how I feel myself sometimes.

Anyway, here are the highlights of the end of my last decade, and the beginning of this new one:

Love
While I'm not sure I can claim it was love at first sight, it was pretty damn close. I'm forever grateful that my sloth-like nature led me to taking a 'mental health day' that day. The stars aligned, and kismet saw fit to introduce us to one another. Kismet and our iPhones. That's 21st century love for you. We shared coffee, sorbet and beer. We spent two hours together, and he hasn't left my mind since.

Reunion
A gaggle of my closest friends who had moved away over the past few years all descended upon Melbourne leading into New Year's Eve. Ironically, half of those who still live in Melbourne decided to go elsewhere for the holidays.

There were a heady few days of drinking, karaoke (of course), and generally getting reacquainted. It was interesting to note that many of us had new partners, and great to see how each one of us had grown as individuals in the past few months, or in most cases, years. There were a few dramas, but when people who naturally grow apart (a function of being apart) try to pull themselves together again, I think that's often the case.

Jetsetting
So I went to Fiji. For a day. And sat by the pool at the Sheraton and ate wagyu burgers. OK, well I only had one wagyu burger. It was an amazing time nonetheless. And it perpetuated my rather unhealthy habit of maintaining my tan this summer.

Nerdness
I completed a Red Hat Linux sys admin course that work sent me on, and managed to pass the exam (somehow). It was a hell of a week - my uncle had just passed away, and I attended a funeral for the first time in my life; Melbourne had a stupid heat wave (the hottest night on record) so like most of the city, I was massively sleep-deprived; and as a result, I re-introduced coffee into my diet for the first time in months.
Bold

Geriatric Infirmity
The result of that stressful week, combined with the subsequent weekend of non-stop boozing, evidently was a super-weak immune system. Because I came down with a case of shingles. Shingles! WTF!? For those of you who don't know, shingles is a recurrence of the chicken pox virus, which remains dormant in your body after you have it the first time. It comes back in a localised way, along one nerve ganglion, and happens when your immune system is really weak. Usually when you're over 50. Though a lot of people whom I've talked to about it seem to have stories about friends or family members who have had it in their 20s, so I don't feel QUITE so bad.

Laneway
I went to a music festival for the first time in two years (after having sworn them off since the double whammy of disappointment that was Good Vibrations and Big Day Out in 2008).

I must say I had a great day. Good weather (poor choice in outfit - skinny jeans on a hot day are a bad idea), good friends, good event management (short waiting time for toilets, even shorter waiting times for drinks) and good crowd. The vibe was relaxed, happy, and generally
benevolent.

I saw Sarah Blasko for the first time, who was delightfully quirky, in her black and white polka dot dress. Her voice translates live pretty much perfectly compared to her studio albums, which is quite a feat. I totally have a girl-crush on her now. And she made me wish I had a floppy fringe. Which none of the hipster kids have ever managed to do.

The other highlight of the festival for me was the luminous Florence and the Machine. I had heard of her reputation for high energy performances, but I was still stunned with just how much more emotion, energy, joy and sensuality (often all at once) she was able to put into her music live. I also loved that, having only had one album, every song they played I knew the words to ('Lungs' was my favourite album for 2009). I do wish, however, that she'd put some pants on.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rumble

So I ride past the Melbourne Museum each day to and from work, and often on weekends, if I'm heading to Carlton, or Brunswick. Most evenings there will be a few, or sometimes a gang, of guys with fixie bikes, riding around and practising tricks, much like there used to be skater boys doing the same. There's a predominantly Japanese group, who I've also seen riding around Smith St, generally just being cruisy and looking far too hip for their own good.

Then on weekends, things change. Often there are a big bunch of girls on rollerskates. I'm not sure if they're practising for a roller derby, or if rollerskating is just back in vogue, much like fixed speed bikes. Some of the girls have helmets and padding, but others just have the skates. They seem to dress largely in black - team colours, or just Melbourne fashion staple? Again, these girls look much too hip for their own good.

Last weekend, both groups were out in front of the Museum. While it's a pretty big space, I'd like to think their group egos would dictate that it's not big enough for the both of them. I want to see a turf war.

Rumble, nihongo fixie boys and deathmatch roller derby girls, RUMBLE!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chow Mein?

** NB: This has been cross-posted from my food blog. **

Now, being a second generation Asian migrant, who spent his childhood in the kitchen of his family's Chinese restaurant in rural Victoria, I will admit to a certain level of insider knowledge, and accompanying this knowledge, a difference of experience which has quite plainly left me somewhat ignorant. Ignorant of what some Australians understand by 'chow mein', that is.

As a child, it always amused me when customers would come in asking for "chow mayne", as the Chinese pronunciation is much closer to "chao miin". The literal translation of Chow Mien is (stir)fried noodles. Which is why when I read Phil Lees' post about Chow Mein I was a little confused. Rice? In a Chow Mien dish? Really?

Perhaps as the only Chinese kid in town, when I went over to a friend's house for dinner, her/his parents would be wary of cooking 'Chinese' food, but I never encountered such an abomination as a rice-based dish being labelled 'Chow Mien'.

While Phil's description of American or Chinese Chow Mien seem fairly accurate to me, I would question his assertion that Chow Mien isn't a dish found in Chinese restaurants any longer. In fact, I think it's still very much a staple dish in many Chinese restaurant menus, at least of the suburban variety, along with the ubiquitous Holy Trinity of 'bastardised Chinese food' - Lemon Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Beef and Black Bean Sauce. Even in many of the Hong Kong style Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, you will still find Chow Mien (possibly not named so explicitly) on the menu.

As for Chow Mein's close cousin Chop Suey, I think the absence of that from many Chinese restaurant menus in Australia is due to the fact that the term 'chop suey' (properly pronounced 'tchaap soo' - literally bits and pieces, referring to the combination of chopped vegetables) was never really that popular in Australia, and Chinese restaurants quickly realised it was more accessible to just name the dish something along the lines of "Chicken with Selected Vegetables", or "Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry".

From a linguistic point of view, it's interesting to note the persistence of the Romanised 'Chow Mein" and "Chop Suey" in the US, compared with the preference for more explanatory translations here in Australia. For me, it raises questions about how language is negotiated; how do factors such as the origins, literacy and influence of the migrants, along with the point in time and cultural formation when the waves of migration occurred, influence terms which we use to label food?

If this other version of 'Chow Mein', with the rice and the chicken noodle soup, really does still exist in this day an age, I'd like to try it, if only out of curiosity. The idea of a "mix of mirepoix and cheap cabbage, mince and packet food" makes me a little nauseous, to be frank.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eating for the homeless

Next week marks the start of a season of eating - yes, there's the Christmas parties, it's generally Summer - long days and balmy evenings make for pleasant al fresco dining - and most of my friends seem to have birthdays around this time of year.

So what better time (leading up to the 'season of giving') to help out a worthwhile charity, while having a good time out with your friends! Sounds smart, right? StreetSmart. StreetSmart is an organisation which is aimed at helping the homeless, funding different charity programs through their fundraising activities. Their 'restaurant event' enlists restaurants to act as donation points, where you can add a nominal amount to the bill as a donation to StreetSmart. Feed yourself well, then help feed someone else, too! Or something along those lines, anyway.



This year, StreetSmart has enlisted 242 restuarants (so far) this year, 68 of which are in Melbourne, including places like Cumulus Inc., Gingerboy and Longrain. So if you're trying to decide where to go for a good night out, check the site first! I'm planning on skipping dessert, and donating the cost - given the fact I'm training to lose an inch or two at the waist for Summer, it's win-win!

Oh, and if you're a blogger, or on facebook (and if you're not on facebook, I wonder why you're a reader of this blog) then let others know about this great intiative, too!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stuff white people like?

A friend sent me a link to this blog which takes a localised view on the 'Stuff white people like' thing that started in 2007, and has since spawned books, (other blogs) and now lecture series!?

This thing is stupid, largely because it's too localised to work. While Melbourne has quite an ethnically mixed population, cultural stratification tends to happen more along the lines of income, education, age, and locality as opposed to race. These things are all somewhat linked, but I'm not going into that at length here - because that would imply I know a lot about the subject, and I don't. Anyway, this localised Melbourne list should just be called 'stuff inner urban gen x/y-ers' like. Race is so not an issue with this. I'm not white, and I agree with just about everything on this list, except:

- Confest - yuck.
- The Dirty 3 gig - I went to the far superior Dirty 3 gig at Big Day Out 1998.
- Lentil as Anything - well, I'd like it if the people I'd been with weren't the "oh, let's pay $20 for dahl" variety. They're FUCKING LEGUMES. Who pays more than $10-15 for lentils, really?
- Bonsoy - I drink soy, but I want it to be the most power-packed, super-engineered future-soy possible.
- Mulled wine - well, OK, I don't mind mulled wine, but the reference to chai was enough to get my hackles up. See Confest.
- Fire twirling - I've done it, I got over it. Eau de kerosene is so 2001.
- Tibetan prayer flags - my mum's a Buddhist. I'm not. I'm also not a spiritual poseur. And never went to Tibet. Or Nepal. 'Nuff said.
- Shanghai Dumpling House - the toilet water incident. Never EVER again. Section 8 is also out by association - they share a wall. Tangent: can I also once again re-iterate my loathing of St Jerome's?

But then, maybe I am white. 6 months of being denied tropical sunshine will do that to an Asian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sprung

Despite the grumblings of many Melburnians about it still being cold, and the politically incorrect whinging about the rain, it's definitely Spring here. How do I know? Those of my friends who suffer from hayfever and related allergies have started moaning about it and popping the little antihistamine pills, and spraying steroids up their nostrils.

Both my mother and my sister suffer from hayfever, but my father and I have never suffered the annoying symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes. Classic "allergic rhinitis". However, this year that might have come to an end.

I had a cold a few weeks ago, and ordinarily, I bounce back from that quite quickly. This time, not so much. I've had a cough I just can't shake, I's started sneezing more, and just this week, one of my eyes has become rather itchy, but with no sign of redness or puffiness to suggest some sort of infection. Could I finally have succumbed to my mother's genes? Or am I just being a hypochondriac? With a penchant for pharmaceticals which preclude me from operating heavy machinery?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In the margins

I am a twit(terer). I'm not an early adopter, by any means, but since my reluctant entrance into the world of 140 character burst stream-of-consciousness blogging, I've found that rarely a few waking hours go by (unless I'm actually WORKING!? - and despite that, sometimes) that I don't seem to feel the urge to comment on something.

One interesting feature that twitter has is known as 'hashtagging', where you place a hash (#) in front of ostensibly a topic keyword, which is then optimised for people to search on the twitter site (or through its feeds). I find it more fun to use this hashtagging to internally comment on my own tweet, however. This often means my hashtags are largely nonsensical, and often snarky (eg. #wellmaybecanklesareinthisseason).

I'm also a little worried that this is a manifestation of a fragmented psyche, but it's amusing enough to let that slide for now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The wind of change



... is one of my favourite karaoke songs. Any bridge which has the word 'balalaika' in it has to be given props.

But enough about that. I'm just writing a short post because I've been offered a job, which is full time (and therefore, I think, somewhat superior to my current two-casual-jobs arrangement).

Ordinarily, I would be quite excite, and indeed, part of me is. However, the fact that the job I'll be moving to is ostensibly the same job I had - albeit in a different faculty - almost three years ago - somewhat dulls the shine. Am I moving backwards? Or, slightly better, but not much, just stagnating? I'm a little unsure, but I hink that perhaps I can make something more out of the job this time around. I hope so, anyhow. Worst case scenario is that the job will be a pocket of stability for a little while, which isn't all bad in these times, so everybody keeps saying.

Perhaps my apprehension doesn't so much spring from fear of change - I think these days I actually embrace change (I should be a motivational speaker) - but rather from a little regret about what I will leave behind. I have really quite enjoyed woking at both of my current workplaces. The people are kind and friendly, and the work has been challenging, yet rewarding.

I keep coming back to the notion of 'gen-y' and 'gen-x'; specifically in relation to the supposed 'gen-y' ethic of selfishness and prioritising career aspirations over loyalty to employers and dedication to one's job. I have often wondered which camp I belong to, as I'm sort of on the cusp, in terms of age. This is borne out, I guess, in the conflicted feelings I have about changing jobs now. I don' want to leave what I have behind, and I don't want to let the peopl I work with down, but at the same time, I think this option for a stable job is a wise career move right now.

So I guess I'm just gonna follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park. Because change, after all, change is a good thing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Linguistics - Shakira style.

I'm thinking about starting a Masters in Linguisitcs next year, so things which are related to barriers in communication and language problems, I find interesting. Case in point, Shakira:


Whenever, wherever

Most of you are probably familiar with,

"Lucky that my lips not only mumble
They spill kisses like a fountain
Lucky that my breasts are small and humble
So you don't confuse them with mountains"

For those of you who don't know, Shakira is Colombian, and English is therefore not her first language.

In her new song She Wolf, we get such lyrical gems as,

"A domesticated girl that's all you ask of me,
Darling it is no joke, this is lycanthropy."

and

"I’ve been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday, and Friday to Friday.
Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it.
I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.
So I’m gonna go somewhere cozy to get me a lover, and tell you all about it."

It makes me wonder if, perhaps, she's actually writing these lyrics herself (she is one of the song's co-writers) and there's something lost in translation, or if someone's just playing a bit of a cruel joke on her.

In any case, the REAL reason behind this post is that I want you all to witness the mind-boggling wrong-ness of this film clip:


They won't let me embed it

The jumpsuit! The flesh-toned leotard! The glittery tunnel which looks like some sort of over-sized artery or intestine (or other bodily canal?)! Wait, what is she doing with those shoulders? MAKE HER STOP!!

I'm not sure which version I prefer; the original, or this one.

For a she wolf, Shakira's certainly not very hairy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

MIff 2009 - the rest

So there were two more movies left in my decathlon.

Dead Snow
A Norwegian movies about Nazi zombies. There's little more that needs to be said. If you're someone who enjoys a concept as ridiculous as this, then you're going to like this movie. It's played pretty much exactly the way it should be - for laughs, with scarcely believable gore, and great comic timing, and visceral sight gags. The nods to movies such as Braindead along the way are a good indication that the makers know and are a part of their intended audience. Rollicking good fun, without any good taste in sight.

Morphia
I was a little unsure what to make of this movie. It was the last one on my list, and on a Friday night after a couple of drinks, I wasn't sure I was wanting to sit through a Russian film about a morphine addict in the late 1910s. It sounded dreary, and likely to put me to sleep. I grabbed a seat near an aisle, should I need to make an early exit.

The movie, based on actual memoirs of a Russian doctor in a remote country town (Mikhail Bulgakov), traces his addiction to morphine rather laconically. Through a series of anecdotal episodes - cutely titled like a period silent film - we see his addiction grow, but this plot almost seems to be merely the thread which links the stories together. We are made privy to the doctor's inexperience in his work, and various scenes which paint the backdrop of the impending Russian revolution, when he deals with the local aristocracy.

This movie doesn't make a huge impression. It tells a story, and seems not to invite judgement; which for a topic such as addiction, is actually refreshing. There are humourous moments, and also some gruesome ones - the amputation scene is pretty confronting - but all in all, the movie just seems to roll along. Don't go expecting some profound intellectual Russian arthouse exposition about the nature of humanity, but expect to be entertained for a couple of hours.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

MIFF 2009 - part 3

... so after the fact, I know.

Mother
From the director of The Host, this Korean murder mystery follows a devoted mother as she investigates death of a local girl whom her son, who is a little 'slow', is accused of murdering.

There are many movies which alternate between tragic and comedic from scene to scene. Somehow, Mother manages to combine humour and poignancy into singular moments, which verge on bizarre, but are utterly believable. Brilliantly staged and acted, you can't help but become engaged with the mother's almost frenzied search for the truth. Hard to say much more without giving anything away, so I'll just say this was my favourite movie of the festival for the year.

Eden Log
The blurb said 'post-apocalyptic' and it was a French production. Immediately, I thought of movies such as Avalon, Tetsuo, and the Matrix. And in a sense, I was right. In that it was as monochromatically boring as Avalon, as incomprehensile as Tetsuo, and as much of a let down as the latter two Matrix films.

Basically, the film follows a man who pulls himself out of a primordial mud, and from there he works his way through some sort of abandoned industrial plant, heading up to the surface of the planet. The concept underlying this film is rather contrived - yet another Hero with a Thousand Faces archetypal myth, so derivative you can pretty much sum it up by saying, "Resident Evil meet the Matrix", and I can't help but wonder if it would have been more engaging in French - because the scripting in English was appalling.

It seems every year I choose a dog of a movie at MIFF, and Eden Log was the dog of 2009. Avoid at all costs.

Breathless
This was on my shortlist originally this year, but scheduling meant I took it out at the last cut. Then, quite foruitously, I had to cancel one of my sessions, and a friend highly recommended Breathless after seeing an earlier screening. I'm glad I missed Sauna, which in hindsight was probably going to be another ill-advised choice, to see this fine film instead.

Written up as a gritty Korean gangster movie, I was expecting brash punks in black suits, with guns and fast cars. The write-up should have said petty thugs, however, not gangsters. But don't let that stop you from seeing this movie. It's brilliant, as long as you don't mind the violence.

Sang-hoon is a petty thug for hire, mostly collecting debts for loan sharks, but also breaking up the occasional student protest. He's anti-social and has a strange relationship with his family. He
accidentally spits on a teenage girl, Yeon-hee, walking in the street one day. After an altercation, the two strike up a strange friendship, which isn't so strange once you see what their lives consist of otherwise.

The characters in this film may seem a little cliche, but are still excellently rended, and well acted. Their circumstances are depressing, but they themselves are charming. It sounds like something of a Ken Loach film, I know, but it's much more engaging, I promise. As the tale unravels, it's clear that Ik-Jun Yang (director, writer, and lead actor) has created a movie which deals with male violence, as it exists both in public Korean society, and more domestically within the family home. Various cycles of violence are drawn, some more deeply etched than others, but each revealing its own consequences.

Not for the faint-hearted, but definitely worth seeing - don't let the fact it's over two hours long put you off. It doesn't feel slow in the least.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

MIFF 2009 - Part 2

The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker follows a small team of bomb defusers through the last month of their tour of duty in Iraq. As a character study of the soldiers, it's pretty interesting, contrasting the lead specialist, who appears rather reckless, but actually has something more which makes him tick, with his team mates, who seem to just want to ge the job done and get back home to the US.

This film left me a little dazed. I liked it, but I'm a little unsure about why. The film doesn't really lay down an argument about war. It's not glorifying it, nor is it denouncing it. Instead, it takes a more personal point of view, highlighting the alienation and disconnect from the everyday, that most soldiers thrust into such a situaion would inevitably feel.

I would recommend the film, but don't go into it expecting anything particularly Hollywood. Apart from the stunning opening sequences.

Hansel and Gretel
A Korean take on the fairy tale, protagonist Eun-soo finds himself lost in a forest after a car accident, on his way to visit his sick mother. He passes out, and wakes to find an angelic little girl with a lantern, who leads him back to her house, deep in the middle of the forest. He meets her picture-perfect family, but it soon becomes evident that something's not quite right there. Eun-Soo tries repeatedly to leave the forest and get back to the road, but always ends up back at the house, and slowly (a little too slowly?) secrets are revealed.

Like a lot of Korean films which float between fantasy and horror, Hansel and Gretel oozes style. The art direction and set design is consummate, right down to the disturbing and eerie rabbit-motifed artwork throughout the house. For this alone, the film is worht seeing. Equally, the acting is great, especially the performances of the three children, who are unsettlingly precocious. Where the film gets let down is in the pacing. What starts off with great promise, gets bogged down in overlong flashbacks, and a drawn out climax and denouement. Some more judicious editing would have made this film really great, but as it is, it's still one of the stand out films I've seen this year in the festival.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MIFF 2009 : Part 1

One of the redeeming things about being in Melbourne during winter - I say redeeming ecause I'm not one of those strange people who like cold weather, short days, etc. - is the annual Melbourne International Film Festival. Having missed it last year, I was looking forward to it even more this year, and I again bought the mini-pass, meaning I'll be watching 10 films in the festival in a matter of about 14 days. Some short reviews of the films I've seen so far...

Thirst
A Korean vampire film, directed by Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). A priest is inexplicably infected with vampire blood, after volunteering to be a subject for experiments for a vaccine trials. He dies, rises again, and returns to Korea with something of a religious cult following. As he discovers his thirst for blood, he leaves the monastery and becomes entangled in a tryst with a down-trodden married woman.

As in his other films, Park creates a strangely quiet other world, which resembles our own, but has an eerie feeling of being a stage. Thirst felt a little overworked, being part schlocky, humourous vampire flick, and part morality tale. Not your average vampire film, and worth seeing if you're a fan of his other work.


Martyrs

Described as French 'torture-porn', I was a little apprehensive to see this film. I'm not squeamish, but I'm not a huge fan of pointless inflction of pain. Lucie, a girl who inexplicably escapes from an abusive childhood, is both physically and mentally scarred from her experience. She finds some comfort in her friendship with Anna when she's placed in an orphanage, though she is still plagued by nightmarish visions. Cut to fifteen years later, when Lucie tracks down her childhood tormentors, and exacts her revenge. Then the real action ensues.

The problem I had with this film was not exactly the inability to suspend disbelief, but it something close to that. While the explanations that unfold as the film progresses weren't preposterous, I found them a little flimsy. And it seems to me that the film had to have been created around the original premise, which for me seemed a rather weak excuse for the extreme violence which would likely be the prime motivator for much of the film's audience to go and see it.

That being said, the acting was was great, and the cinematography and editing superb. Thrilling, a little chilling, if you can forgive the denouement.

Humpday
Two college friends Ben and Andrew are reunited in something of an indie take on a bromance. Ben is now married and planning to have children, and Andrew has spent his years since college travelling the world.
Over the course of a drunken and drug-buffered night, the two talk themselves into making an 'art film' to enter into the local alternative paper's 'Humpfest' amateur porn competition. Leading up to the big event, the two engage in what are often painfully frustrating conversations trying to be 'more open-minded' than one another, while Ben also deals with breaking the news to his wife Anna.

While there wasn't any particular thing wrong with the film, it ultimately didn't work for me, because neither of the two male leads were particularly likeable or engaging. The conversations they shared trying to explore the notions of their masculinity ended up making them both look like a couple of douches who like to think they're self-aware and in touch with their sexuality. I don't know, was that the point? Much like Sideways, there will be people out there who will ejnoy this. I wasn't one of them. Parts of the movie were funny, but mostly I just found it rather dull.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

boysfornoise

So apparently I'm a podcaster now.

Evol Kween and I have been toying around with the idea of making a podcast, because we both listen to podcasts regularly, and damnit, we've got something to say! Well, not really, but we like to talk about stuff, and figured we should have a go at it, seeing as we're both tech/media nerds.

So go have a listen - http://boysfornoise.com/

Feedback welcome!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Badass

I've been riding around town on a vespa for the past month. It's an '06 LX125 (read new but retro-styled poseur scooter with a pissy little engine), it's silver, and I've named it Paolo.

When I first got back from Viet Nam, I was convinced that riding a two-wheeler in Australia wasn't for me. The traffic moves a lot quicker here, and the relative number of cars means drivers aren't used to keeping an eye out for motorcycles. And then there's the accident statistics, and that TAC ad which everyone mentioned to me when I tole them of my decision to get a bike, but which I haven't actually seen for myself.

Anyway, until yesterday, I'd been riding around in my duffel coat. Fine for ducking around the corner to the supermarket, but bone-chillingly cold when you're riding at 70km/h. Wind chill's a bitch. Common consensus was I need to get a leather jacket. And though the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on yet another jacket scared me a little, yesterday I finally went down to the moto shops on Elizabeth st in the city, and took the plunge.

Now the main problem (in my mind, anyway) with motorcycle leather jackets, is they're all pretty ugly. But after you try one on, and realise how much 'armour' is embedded in there, you can understand why. It's a lot like that crazy padding the American football players wear. There are hard shoulder, lebow, even back pads; all designed to save your skin etc. if you do have an accident.

Only thing is, when I put my new leather jacket on, it's kind of hard to move. Oh well, at least I can no longer feel the wind. I'm resisting the calls of the safety-conscious to get leather pants.... for now.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Teenage renaissance

Ok, so this blog post is sort of about Taylor Swift.

I know she's another insidious popteen songstress, with the blonde locks and the airbrushed flawless skin. I (refuse to believe but) know she's probably autotuned to within an inch of being Britney.

Witness exhibit A: Love Story

But damnit, I can't stop listening to her sticky-molasses saccharin-toothache of an album.

In part, I think it's just because I've always had a weakness for well-produced pop music. The propsect of running into the track at karaoke in the next few months also excites me - so listening is in fact just practice?

I think there's something a little deeper going on here, though. I was having a slightly drunken conversation with a musician friend of mine about her (he was the one who clued me in on the autotune) and he said he understood while I liked her - he knows me pretty well - and also he could see why she's so popular right now. It was a couple of weeks later that I found out she'd been at number one on the Australian charts for a few weeks. Basically, he said that globally, the market is ready for Swift's style - simple, catchy melodies, uncomplicated (almost naive) lyrics about teenage love, innocent optimism.

Witness exhibit B: You belong with me - note the tried and true ugly-duckling-makeover-gets-the-guy plotline in this one.

Which makes sense, with the constant bombarding of gloomy economic news, and the imminent threat of pandemics, unrelenting news of injustice and wars. Some bubble-headed escapism in the form of a pop tune isn't such a bad thing.

And here's where I get self-indulgent. Things haven't been totally peachy since I came back from my tour of duty in 'Nam. Plagued with annoying (but thankfully not serious) health problems, and struggling to find my feet again with professionally as well as socially, added to some - let's face it - woeful dating adventures, I don't feel so much like I've been treading water, as struggling to keep my head above water.

I can see myself emotionally cocooning. Not unlike what you do when you're a teenager, can't figure out what's going on, and are waiting to grow into who you're 'meant to be'. Who would have thought you can go through that stupid identity-searching teen angst more than once? In any case, the reason I think I'm guiltily enjoying this simple-minded pop music is because I'm waiting for the time when I can stop being a chrysalis again.

I wonder what colours my new wings will be?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tremors

I went to Tokyo about four years ago, to visit my sister who was living there at the time. The night I arrived, there was a 5.1 quake at around 3am local time. I slept through it, apparently. I only found out about it the next day when she and her friends were chatting about it.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a 4.7 about 90kms out of Melbourne. People were all abuzz about it the next few days, because we don't really get a lot of earthquakes in Melbourne. I seem to have missed it, because I was nursing my fourth cocktail in a bar in the city at the time.

A couple of days ago, we had another one, same epicentre, outside of Melbourne, it was a 4.6 this time, apparently. I was at work, and I felt it. It was like a big truck was driving past, only I was on the 5th floor, so I doubt I would feel a big truck driving past, I'd only hear it.

Anyway, having finally experienced an earthquake (and remembered), I was left a little unimpressed. Things didn't fall of the shelves. Windows didn't shatter. Plaster didn't start falling from the ceiling. Something in me was left feeling a little cheated. I did, however, have a vague feeling of nausea for about half an hour afterwards, so I guess that's something.

When I was in Tokyo, I was musing over why my sister was living there. She didn't appear to love her life over there, she wasn't tied into a contract, and her reason for moving there in the first place (to be with her boyfriend) had somewhat evaporated, as he was now back in Australia.

At the time, I had just re-read Idoru by William Gibson, in which he describes a (fictional?) fashion trend in Japan where people were dressing up in bandages etc., in some subconscious way to deal with the psychic trauma of having lived through a recent massive earthquake. The notion that phenomena like earthquakes and other natural disasters manifest themselves in the cultural consciousness is one that fascinates me. I mean there are the obvious responses in the community, like the Sound Relief concerts recently held, but in what way do these massive natural events actually affect us?

My theory at the time for my sister's choice to stay in Japan was a tenuous one, but it goes like this: earthquakes are exciting, interesting, and potentially massively destructive events. Events which simultaneously put the minutiae of everyday life into perspective, and remind us of the possibility of random, instantaneous death. Could this reminder be a stimulus? Something which makes life seem that little more vibrant, keeps our senses a little bit keener, triggering our animal impulses and keeping us in readiness to take decisive action. A thrill to some, and stressful to others.

Yet we find huge masses of people voluntarily living in these danger zones. Take the millions living on the San Andreas fault line in California, for example. Surely it's not some sort of twisted death wish? Yet there does seem to be something attractive about living 'on the edge'.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Homecoming

Bushfires and lost jobs
Coming back to troubled times
But I bring the rain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Melancholalia

Years ago, when I was with some friends at the pier in Hobart, buying freshly shucked oysters straight off the boat from a fisherman, I came across a woman who was a little bizarre. She was on her own, and seemingly speaking to no-one in particular. Only she wasn't having a conversation in her head - or maybe she was - but instead she kept repeating the same phrase over and over again. "Wouldn't have a clue... wouldn't have a clue... wouldn't have a clue..."

It seemed she perhaps had some mental problem, but in any case, this was my first and only encounter with someone who appeared to suffer from echolalia, often associated with autism or Tourette syndrome. People with this condition involuntarily repeat snippets of something they've heard someone else say.

It's been about two and a half months since my relationship with D ended. While in many respects, I've come to peace with this, and for the most part I'm ready and eager to move on with my life, I often find my mind wandering back involuntarily to my relationship. I well up with regret, resentment, and melancholy, and what I know to be futile and irrational feelings of inadequacy. Then after a while, I brush them off, think of happier things, and surround myself with friends and find an equilibrium again.

Part of me wonders if this melancholalia might be a sign that I still haven't resolved my emotions, and dealt with the breakup properly; that in maintaining my composure and control, I've somehow emotionally wounded myself. Or perhaps not wounded, but rather poisoned. The poison seems to well up, and then when things might otherwise become toxic, the overflow valve is released...

melancholalia.