Thursday, July 29, 2004

As I feared, the onset of uni has meant that I have lost the energy to come up with witty, profound posts for you every night. I suppose I had a good run this month, looking back over previous posts I am amazed I had so much to write about.

There's an interesting Flash game here with the pointed anti-Bush stance (heck, the game is called the "Anti-Bush video game"), which is interesting to me because it's a video game with a message (albeit the video game aspect ain't all that great, it's more a cloak for the message). Now, I'm not supporting or dismissing the quality of this message, but I find interesting to think that video games are now being used as a medium through which views are shared, for that used to be the realm of the printed press, television and film. It's kinda neat to think how far the net has gone, ya know? Perhaps you won't find this very remarkable at all, gentle reader, but for some reason this video game reminded me of how far it has come.

I had a nice big screenshot from Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic all ready to be display here, but I accidentally removed it, by which I mean that I took another screenshot of something else, thereby removing it (curse Windows' one-item clipboard!). Ah well, I'll have an interesting one for you soon, perhaps showing off the true power of the dark side. Not that there would be any point, of course, but it would be purely for my own entertainment.

I must apologize for the fact that this post is largely useless. I normally hate posting just for posting, but I feel oddly compelled to do so. EDIT: One more of my foibles is unearthed. I saw that this para was worded such that the word "so" appeared on a line all by itself. I realized then that I couldn't sleep if I didn't change this. Sometimes, I truly think I am an obsessive compulsive. I have an ancient memory associated with OCD actually, perhaps I'll share it with you next time.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

As I was sifting through some of my previous posts, I was reminded of a time not too long ago that when I was convinced that I was doomed, and that all my exams would end in failure. I did much better than I expected, and so I think it's important for me to confront this issue so that I can tame the neurosis. I actually think that the marks reflect virtually nothing, and that I was right in being scared, because I wasn't thinking about how well I could answer exam questions, I was thinking about how much I knew. It turns out that I didn't know a whole lot, but apparently it was good enough to help me not fail the exams. I think it's easy to consider that a victory and move on, but no, I don't think I ought to think of it as a victory. That would create the illusion in my head that I somehow deserve the good fortune, and that couldn't be farther from the truth.

I think the basic issue is that exams don't really test knowledge to as great an extent as they perhaps should, because if they did, I would be repeating this semester all over again. Kinda makes the matter of marks rather pointless, doesn't it? Well, not entirely, but it does go to show that they aren't everything, and that having them as the ultimate goal is not beneficial in the long run. Every time after an exam I say that knowledge is what's important, and that I shouldn't think that my marks are a reflection of my knowledge, but I don't believe I listen to myself very often. I fear I sometimes work solely at the goal of getting good marks, rather than gaining knowledge. Yet, at the same time, if I did really badly mark-wise, I would probably be sobbing right now saying how I've failed totally and how I need to study harder, and so on. Essentially, this is just another indication of how cluttered my mind is.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

I think God's in the details. Why? Because I think if you look close enough at anything, you are bound to be amazed at what you find. I have this tendency to experience momentary drop-outs in my connection with reality (no surprise, eh?), after which, for a few seconds, I just stand still in awe of the nature of this world. I mean, everything about this existence is fascinating. But at the same time, the very energy (for lack of a better word) that causes this fascination also causes me to frequently wonder why. I suppose the two are interlinked; I am both fascinated and repulsed at the idea that right now I am sitting in my room, punching away at these keys that make words appear on the screen. Words that are going to be read by you, my imaginary audience, who cannot prove that they really exist. It's amazing to think that man has gone from living in caves and hunting everyday for survival to this life of comfort (and superficiality, it must be said). Geez, I mean, think about it, clear your mind and think about it. That part amazes me, but for some reason, abstracting away the whole mechanism of existence (which I suppose translates to just over-simplifying it?) makes me wonder what it's all for. They say people spend their whole lives searching for meaning. I think that's possibly the most focussed goal I have ever set for myself, and the only goal that has lasted all these years - to find out just what this crazy world's all about.

And now let's tie that in with programming. I sometimes wonder about programming and whether it's what I really want to do. The passion is still there, but, me being the obsessive maniac that I am, I often think about programming and its place in the rest of the world. Can I look back at my life and be happy with what I've done? What mark have I left if I become a programmer? I suppose if one became the best-darn programmer there ever was, that's sort of leaving a mark on the world, but I am driven by a search for something more, something greater. Usually people advise that by having a family that loves and cares for you, and children to carry on the torch as it were, that's enough of a legacy. But it should come as no surprise that that doesn't satisfy me. I am unfortunately completely ego-centric, I do treat the world as though it revolves around me, and sometimes I wonder "Well, why not?". Armed with recurring thoughts of solipsism, I often think that the universe does indeed revolve around me (never totally seriously, but still, I believe this is indicative of full-blown dementia). No, I feel as though my mark ought to be directly related to me, as though I want people to chant my name for all eternity.

The fact that this is not going to happen only serves to upset me at times; not times like this, for now I am in a wonderfully mellow mood, contrary to whatever tone may be implied by my writings. Does it all have a meaning? I'd sure love to know. I only hope that I never lose the urge to find out what it all means, because for me, it's a powerful driving force, although sometimes it gets in the way of me living a proper life (whatever that is).
Once again I find myself posting as another break comes to an end, and again I find I am filled with a sense of disappointment yet also a genuine feeling of rest. No matter how many times I seem to go through it, I always feel bitterly disappointed when I realize that the holidays have ended. Every time, I reflect over the same things - how I've wasted the holiday, how it's terrible getting back into a routine, and so on. I suppose I've already said all I wanted to say on this rather depressing (for me!) matter, so let's move on.

I watched Manhattan Murder Mystery, the last in the batch of Woody Allen DVDs I happen to have, and I have to say, I simply love it. I suppose the right way to go into such a movie is not to expect much, or rather not to expect another Annie Hall sort of movie. The style is totally different, there aren't any bold, new cinematic techniques, nor any tricks with the narrative or time frame; no sir, this is, in essence, just a plain ol' murder mystery, as the title suggests. I think what elevates it above the rest and prevents it from being called light-weight is the Allen touch. Sure, it is light-hearted, but Allen's quirky brand of humour is still alive and kicking ("I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland"). I've read in passing that some find it all a bit repetitive, and that there isn't anything particularly noteworthy about the film. Well, sure, but does everything have to be ground-breaking, darn it!? Perhaps I am over-enthusiastic, considering that I don't watch too many movies these days, but I suppose that doesn't matter, considering that this isn't a review.

I think there is another reason I like the movie, based on the strange condition in my head. I always like to finish off holidays on a nice note, not with a bang or anything, but rather I like to reach this mellow, subdued state of mind, which I suppose lets me clear my mind. I suppose convincing myself that I've watched a nice movie makes me feel like I've achieved that somehow. I really don't know what I'm talking about here, because at times I feel I have no connection to my mind. Whenever I talk about things like this, where I question my true motives and intentions, I wonder why my mind can't rationalize the whole thing and figure out illusion from reality. It's hard to explain, so I think I might stop here, for fear of confusing you.

I have a few ideas for a new story, but unfortunately I don't feel like I have the time anymore. I've had a busier week than I'm accustomed to, and it's made me realize how the grass is greener on the other side, or something to that effect. I think deep down, I prefer quiet, alone time, where I can drown in my own thoughts, regardless of the fact that most of them are totally insane and disjoint. It's merely another of my foibles, I presume. But during these times, I sometimes feel like I should have a busier life, and start paying attention to whatever voice tells me that I'm wasting my life and that I should be out there, doing things (whatever they may be). But I notice that whenever I do get busy, and get less time to myself, I start feeling like I'm missing something essential. I suppose it's as though this private time is the time I use to get my thoughts together (like I said, no matter how strange they may be) and make sure my head in screwed on straight.

Actually, I don't think it's just the fact that I've had a busy week that has prevented me from writing, I think it's also the fact that the holidays are ending. I think that perhaps I want to try and squeeze out every last bit of fun I can out of them, and I don't know whether I count writing as fun. I think it is fun, but a different kind, a ego-stroking kind. Gah, sometimes I wonder why I pontificate on the smallest things, it's not like any of this matters, right?

This may well be the last post of the holidays, so I must apologize in advance for any following posts, for they are sure to contain stream of consciousness ranting and obtuse threats at uni and everything in it. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Geez, another Woody Allen reference. I suppose this now constitutes irrefutable proof in solipsism.
Yet more proof that the world revolves around me. Since I've watched two Woody Allen movies over the last couple of days*, I was reminded of a Just Shoot Me episode where Maya meets a guy who thinks he's Woody Allen. What episode, then, do you think came on TV just 30 minutes ago? This isn't the first time this has happened either. Several times I've thought of episodes of shows, only to see them the next day. I do believe the case for solipsism just got a bit stronger.

* Today I watched Manhattan, which I didn't like as much as Annie Hall, but it was good nonetheless. This one was more an exploration of relationships, marriage and love, but I felt there wasn't enough to really captivate me (the portions were too small, as it were). Unfortunately it may be one of those things that I will have to see twice; I say "unfortunately" because it will most likely be one of those things that I will only see once. Since it takes a good hour and a half, I'm the kind of person who would want to use such time to see something new, even if it isn't very good. Sigh my neurosis is sad sometimes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable." - Woody Allen, Annie Hall

Normally such quotes are followed by some silly commentary by me, but I'm far too tired to say anything meaningful now. I saw Annie Hall in its entirety today, and I was so impressed that I added it to my list of favourite movies. No, really, check my profile; there are now three movies on there! Some of it is bitingly funny, some of it reflects the way I think sometimes, and some of it is just well, unique. I think I shall watch another of his movies tomorrow, seeing as how I have precious little time left till I have to return to...uni. I shudder at the thought.

Speaking of which, my timetable is utter rot. Actually, for the first time since, well, ever, I have three days where I finish before lunch, which is great. Trouble is, you gotta pay a dear price for such luxury, my friend - my price is that I have a 9-5 day with no breaks. 8 hours of mind-numbing madness. I wonder now how I can ever get through another three months of this.

Actually, what's far more disconcerting is that after this semester, it will be the end of another year. Heh, that was quick. Gosh, I really wish I could bore y'all to sleep with my reflections on temporality and what not, but I don't have the energy right now.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I've mentioned to a few people lately that I have a disturbing memory. I don't know that that's entirely accurate, but it is true that I have a tendency to remember trivialities other people soon forget. I don't say "trivialities" with a mocking tone, no, I say it honestly, for they are things that well, really carry no weight, and are things that you wouldn't expect to have an impact on anyone's mind. I can pick out events from as little as when I was four or five years old that simply do not mean anything. They are just events, the small things which do just happen, which do not affect you at all. It's like remembering eating lunch on one ordinary day in an ordinary week/month/year. Something that just happens. I suppose we could get into the argument of whether anything has any meaning in this world, but that's a topic for another day, and another post altogether.

Having gotten my digression out of the way, let me approach the subject of this post. In a Dylan documentary I saw a while back (not a particularly brilliant one, yet not a particularly bad one), I remember one throwaway line about Dylan starting to write songs at furious pace (I'm paraphrasing, as always). I sort of feel like that now; I am possessed by the urge to write, write, write, which is great, because it's something I used to be passionate about a long time ago. It's nice to revisit it now, at a time when I feel like everything is slipping away. I suppose this passion has been rekindled when I started posting stories and poems from the past, they proved to be oddly inspiring, even though they were not good. I suppose it's because I was inspired to do better now that I'm supposed to be older and wiser.

I don't have another piece of writing for you just yet (I hear you breathe a sigh of relief..), but I do have another story from the past, although it's not one of my best. I think it was just a rough draft for the real story, but unfortunately I can't find the real one. There was another one I distinctly remember writing that was in a similar vein, but again, I can't find it. A shame, really, because it's again something that was sort of a symbol of my life two years ago. Ah, precious memories.

Once again, this is just fiction, nothing like this really happened, and I've never really thought like this. Except for one thing, but I'll tell you about that after the story. Anyway, here we go:

Her face had changed beyond recognition. I was stunned, but mustered "..You...look just the same!". I know there's nothing surprising; God forbid she should be exactly as I recalled hair in a ponytail, with a beaming smile that greeted me everytime, and of course those distinctive fingers.

"So what do you do now?", I asked, as we sat down to a cup of coffee. She had two cups and I my usual one. Day in, day out, one. You could identify me as the person sitting everyday at the same time, in the same coffee shop, drinking one cup of coffee. I (rather rudely) gazed into the cup as I mused over how monotonous it was, while she told me what she did. "Vice president...big firm...good pay". Truth be told, it sounded quite boring. Well, not boring, but, I suppose, static.

I remember a girl who used to tell me she would become a philosopher. Odd? Perhaps, but she always used to be fascinated by Plato and Socrates. She would amusedly recount their paradoxes, and stand back with satisfaction as I desperately tried to reject her arguments. I could tell that she really loved it.

"That was just a flight of fancy", she said. "I mean, come on. A philosopher? It's not like you exactly rake up enough to secure your future; I mean, you just sit around thinking about things. And then you call that work. I don't care if my notions of existence are flawed and archaic. I just want to survive in this world.

I politely nodded, glancing occasionally at her trim, officious hair and her still flawless, yet somehow stiff, fingers. And then I looked at her again. Then, I realized that she hadn't just changed physically.

She left, I suppose a bit abashed after I told her I was a philosopher. I guess all those times made me interested in it. It did seem a lot more interesting than my initial dream of working in a firm.

Hmm not too good, is it? For one, the ending seems too forced I think. The only bit that's really drawn from personal experience is the thing about becoming a philosopher. Believe it or not, I once thought rather seriously about taking up philosophy, if not as a major then at least as a side interest. Not because I felt I had any talent of course - no, my writings on pseudo-intellectual topics confirm this. No, it was because there was a point when I was truly interested in such subjects. I think I still am, but I have somehow lost the will to pursue the things I like. Maybe I'll bore you later by talking about that. But first, I simply have to find the other story, it's far too important to lose.
Catharsis through writing is definitely possible, for I am living proof of it.
I'm thrilled! I found a piece of writing from two years ago, a valuable piece of my past. A reflection on change that is again fictional, but which does draw from certain elements in my own life. Again, this is something I did in high-school, which I suppose was a time of transition for me. Without further ado, here we go:

Suddenly, I realized I was in a different world. A thousand miles in search of something long gone.

For all I know the sky could have been red. I was too busy maintaining a calm exterior while inside, I was imploding.

Malls and shops where I once saw quaint houses. People who waved at me as I walked past. "Good morning! How are you?". So many memories. I mused over this scenario as music blared inside one of the shops.

Too many years. I had the belief it was the same as it was back then. When I was little, I would tell my uncle of my problems like these. He would console me and sneak in some chocolate when my mother wasn't looking. "A child should indulge in..being a child!", he would say.

I remember his house. Long driveway with innocent looking steps masking what I at times believed was a palace. How many years ago! I would play hide and seek. I hated it, but I enjoyed the rush when working against the seeker. I only hated it because, more often than not, I was the seeker.

Such delicious food would await, but I as a child did not appreciate it. I saw food and I ate it; it was that simple. No retrospective thoughts on the significance of the house. No firm desire to remember every detail. Eat, play, sleep.

I learnt that he sold the house a year ago. It didn't affect me much at the time. I was so far away, and preoccupied with more immediate issues. But as I trudged along the road, my heart sank. The gate was barred, the house oddly empty. Of course, one can't tell these from the outside, but still...

Next to the arcade ("NEW! Super Mario 64!"), I found his apartment. I rang the bell and observed my trembling fingers.

We sat and exchanged platitudes, both aware of a huge gap in our lives. I would never know him the same again, and vice-versa. So many years, so much had happened. I questioned why it had to.."So, what do you do?" "Oh, accounting." like this.

He laughed as he told me he would offer some chocolate if he could. "Diabetic", he said. I offered my sympathies while realizing how I would never relive the experience. No consoling. No chocolate.

I bade him farewell some weeks later. I never saw him again. Such is life, I thought. I saw some children playing in the arcade, concentrating at the screen. I wondered what they would say in ten years about their childhood. Maybe lament that their rustic arcade with primitive technology is no more? Oddly amusing.

I wish I saw a ghost in the house, reminding me of old times. I saw nothing. Only darkness.

Some teens sped past in their sports car, splashing water all over me. Disoriented, I stumbled to the ground. I got up and walked into the horizon, red sky engulfing me.

I hope you don't feel inclined to think "Some things are best left in the past". I have bittersweet memories of this story - partly because of what it means to me. I don't think you'd be interested in why exactly it does, gentle reader, but there you go.

The New Age Killers

He stood there with a lit cigarette, just like I remembered. He always stood like that, both drawing and diverting attention to himself. I figured he hadn't changed a bit.

"It's been a long time", I said rather flatly. I really didn't know what else to say, and waited for him to start the conversation like he always did. It struck me that I hadn't changed too. It was as though we were both trapped in a reality that occured many years ago. A reality that I for one thought was long dead.

He looked me up and down and gave me a rare smile, for a second breaking the indifferent image he had spent his whole life creating. He didn't however say a word. Nor did he have to. It was always like that; that was the plane on which our interaction existed. It was as though there was a silent understanding between us, although I wonder what exactly that understanding was. I suppose it was just the feeling of familarity that we both recognized, a familarity that meant that we didn't need words.

In another lifetime, we would see each other everyday as I walked past the street. He always stood in the same place, at the same time. It took a while for us to acknowledge each other's presence; and like I said, he was the one who always started the conversation. Conversation may not be the right word, for maybe it strikes you that we were friends. No, we weren't friends, or at least not in the conventional sense of the word. Yet at the same time I wouldn't say we were merely acquaintances either.

Often, as I walked down the streets, I would pass by people and be filled with sadness. A sadness at the fact that I was seeing faces that I would never see again. Yet these were all people, just like me. Each of them has a life, a story, a complex collection of emotions and feelings worthy of recognition. Each of them most likely has a consciousness that seems to them to span an eternity. But I would never know about those things, for they were merely strangers to me, strangers I would only pass by once and never see again. Maybe one of them would lose someone in their family on that day; maybe one would see a baby born. I'm sure one of them would see great success, yet another would receive crushing failure. These were all things that we all experience at some point, but for me, I was but a distant observer, creating images in my mind as to what could have been. If only I could know everyone.

I think he saw that sadness in my face, that realization that I was passing by countless souls who travelled the same path as I do, without knowing it. He offered no solace with words, but it was as though his presence there was good enough. For once, I had seen something from my past not change at all. I saw it as one of the greatest rewards one can receive.

I bade him farewell as I continued my walk. I was rejuvinated, for in that moment there was hope. A hope that not all things fade away, that the sands of time had not caught me yet. Of late, it had seemed that items from my past had vanished, one by one. Slowly, but surely, everything had disappeared. Now, everything existed in memory alone - what's important is that it was probably only in my memory. Memories carry one far in this life, there is no doubt about that. Preserving the past in your mind is a gift, and can give you comfort in troubled times. But to see everything crumble away as time marched mercilessly on, that was a different matter. People tell me it was inevitable, but I don't accept that. How could it be, after all? How could everything be taken away?

I walked by the next day and he was gone. This was extremely unusual, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It had happened before, and it was likely that he would be there the next day.

But the wasn't. Nor was he there the next week. The next month. The next year. Was it a ghost of my past that I saw? If so, what did it mean? Were the fates cruelly mocking me, toying with my mind? For the first time in a long time, I did not care about these things. Time had changed me; I was no longer concerned about any of it. Fate, judgement, morality, even existence itself, none of it made any sense.

On the last day, as I walked by the street, I took out a cigarette of my own and leant against the wall in his usual spot. Sometime in the evening, I caught the attention of a lost soul who was wandering, much like I had been ten years ago. As we had a silent conversation, I felt oddly at peace.

Another piece of fiction from yours truly, and again it meanders and leads nowhere. But I suppose I'm just trying to get into the groove of things, experimenting a little with narratives and the like. I'm not sure it's a success by any means, but hopefully it's mildly interesting and entertaining.
Outside my window
Is a tree
With leaves green and grey
Someday it will be gone
And I shall fade away.

Don't ask me why, but I felt compelled to post that.
"Forgive me father, for I have sinned". I blurted it out as we were in the middle of the street, as we were in the middle of our conversation. The subject escapes me now - some triviality that concerned us at the time. Something, it must be said, that had no impact on me, and in no way influenced me to say this all of a sudden. Till this day, I am not sure what it was that I was feeling at the time; to be more precise, what it was that made me say this all of a sudden. Like a flash of lightning, it flew by my mind, and I felt compelled to blurt it out.

I have often felt that I was different. In what exact way, I was never sure, but there was something in me that told me that I was not like everyone else. When I look back on my life, I tend to agree with this sentiment, but perhaps not for the reasons one might expect. No, it was the little things like these which I look at - things that no one else seemed capable of doing. I'd hardly say that I was more in touch with myself, more in touch with the workings of my mind, but there was something that made me feel that, in some intangible way, my existence transcended traditional boundaries. That my life was on a level beyond that of the common man. Arrogant and conceited are words that come to your mind, I presume. Perhaps you are right after all? Perhaps I just imagine such things. On most days, I would agree with you. But then again, there are some days where I feel something - call it a vibe. Something that makes me feel I don't belong here. That day was one of those days.

He stopped, as I expected he would. He merely looked at me and replied, without a hint of sarcasm, "I forgive you." Looking back on that day, I often wonder what exactly I expected him to say. I wonder whether it was my twisted way of getting attention. Yet at the same time, I realize that the occurrence of the event rules out my ever making an accurate guess as to what I expected him to say. No, whatever I guessed would be tainted by what I had heard.

But that's all irrelevant, anyway; what does it matter what I expected him to say? I must apologize, I have the tendency to meander. A condition I feel adds to my charm, in some strange way.

His response had caught me off guard. Was he truly not interested in what I had done? In what caused me to say something so serious out of blue? But what was even more striking was this - was he truly willing to forgive me without knowing what I had done? Time gives me the luxury of being able to consider these items at length. Over a warm cup of tea on a cold winter afternoon, stretched out on the grass by a river, and even when curled up in bed, wistfully garnering the strength to wake up.

Yet at the time it happened, my mind had no time to dwell, to infinitely correct and recorrect its opinions. I simply stared blankly at him. It was funny, really. For all the time I would spend later, musing and reflecting on the matter, none of it paid off the moment I really needed it to.

He greeted my stare with a smile, as though he knew I was not expecting such a response. When I feel in a particularly malicious mood, my mind accuses him of purposely saying something like that simply because he knew the reaction it would elicit. Maybe his curiosity was piqued, or maybe he felt obligated, but he asked "How have you sinned?".

How is one supposed to answer such a question!? At times like those, I wished that other people could see my mind. That the failings of my power of expression would not prevent the essence of my thoughts from being passed on to another. I do not believe I am alone when I say that I experience a joy whenever I express myself succinctly. It is sometimes a battle, converting thought to expression. A lot of times, it is a battle worth waging, but sometimes, especially when you know such a battle is in vain, all one can do is wish that things were different. One has to wonder what the world would be like if we could convey every thought without the need for expression? Is the art of expression both the labour and the fruit? I do not know.

"Where do I begin?", I said. "I suppose first of all, there's the fact that I hate myself". There. I said it. There was no ambiguity about the matter; I had said it for all the world to hear. I waited, anxious for his reply. I never got one. He merely shook his head, sadly. No accusing eyes, no anger, just sadness.

To hear his own son say that such a thing was devastating for him. He had not raised me to be this way; no, he had tried his hardest to instil values in me, to give me appreciation of life and its many colours, to above all be happy. For me to say I hated myself was to say that all his time and effort was in the end a waste. That, in some way, he had failed. True, this was not the be-all and end-all; but this was indeed a mighty blow. With three simple words, it was as if I had ripped up everything both of us had ever done with regards to my life.

To him, I doubt there would have been a bigger sin. For years on end, I was so wrapped up in myself that I never once realized that what I was doing was a sin. A cardinal sin, one that rejected everything he had tried to do for me. Truly, this was far worse than saying I hated him.

We proceeded to walk slowly again, the mood now far more melancholy. I searched long and hard for words, but none came. We simply walked and walked, without direction. All the while, I waited for him to ask the one question I knew I could not answer. The simplest yet the most complicated question - "Why?". I wonder now what I was thinking at the time, saying such a thing without knowing why. Hindsight is a gift that mocks us. The present is always clear in the light of the future.

As we walked, the mists grew around us, and to break the silence, I asked him with total sincerity, as though seeking forgiveness by admitting my ignorance, "What, father, is the meaning of life?". He gazed at me, and simply asked "Why do you ask, my son?". Desperate to take his mind off my previous comment, I started meandering again. But I got so caught up in the question that I lost sight of where I wanted our conversation to head. Where is that, you ask? A fair question, but the only answer I can give you is that it is the opposite of the place it did go to.

Eventually, I got to an interesting point. "Most times, in the evening, as I eat my dinner, my mind is occupied with other matters. Trivialities that keep me from contemplating my own existence. But some nights - some nights, as I finish eating, I stare at my empty plate and wonder why. I wonder if my life is an empty plate. A plate that has potential to be full, yes, but one that is nonetheless currently empty".

The mist grew thicker, and it got harder to see. Clouds had begun to gather, as the grey skies mirrored my own grey heart. I turned slowly to see him pensively think about what had been said. In what seems now to be a lifetime, he slowly lifted his head up and looked to the skies.

"Sometimes, my son, all we can do is gaze into the stars". He spoke no more on the long walk back home.

The sky wept as we walked down roads we had travelled our whole lives.

A piece of fictional writing I came up with just now. Hope you liked it. Very little planning, so it doesn't go anywhere, but I hope it displays something likeable. I'm really spent, so I don't have a lot more to say for now.
A random joke that only two people will find funny (hint: one of them is me).

Slipping into the past says: Why did you eat him but?
Theoretical Garbage | | says: i didn't have to, you heard the saying "you are what you eat"

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Since I'm obsessed with my own jokes, here's a load of them, lifted off comments I made in another online journal. I thought I'd keep them here, in my online home, so that I may be reminded of what exams can do to a human mind. None of them are funny, but I suppose that's the point. As you can tell, this one's sort of a personal post, just for me.

  • Actually I don't particularly like the ending theme, at least not as much as the opening one. The ending theme reminds me too much of that Spinal Tap classic, "Man who falls down stairs":

    "Oh there's a man
    And he falls down stairs
    Yeah yeah yeah"

  • What is faking one's death, really? Isn't murder faking your death? I tried explaining that to the cops, but they wouldn't listen :( That's how I ended up here, in prison. On the bright side, I met Gazza here, which was cool. He was arrested for imitating emus in the zoo.

  • Speaking of messing with people's heads, I'm reminded of a quote from my favourite play, There Stands Liberty:

    Mary: Oh Henry, you've spilt the soup all over your shirt
    Henry: Oh no, it was a brand new one too!
    Mary: Now we have to try and get the stain out
    Henry: Pass the salt

  • "What is the meaning of this" is an oblique reference to a saying by Woody Allen's character in What's New Pussycat?, "Put enough kettles in a pot and you can cook them". The reference is that Allen's character in the movie is called "This".

  • Oh I get it alright. Get it like a fox! Now that one you have to get! Ok, if you didn't get that, surely you must get this - I mean it's a knock-knock joke for chrissake!

    A: Knock-knock
    B: Who's your favourite existential philosopher?
    A: Umm, Descartes?
    B: Oh, so it's more like "I think, therefore I knock on doors"

  • It depends how you look at it, really. I mean, if a man offers you a piece of cake, and it has a calculator inside it, where is the morality in not accepting it?

  • I am reminded of a line from that most famous of philosophical texts, "Wherefore my heart":

    '"Pray tell, sir, what is the meaning of life?", he asked me. I smiled wryly and said "What do you mean?". "I mean, what was man put on earth to do?". "It's quite simple," I said. "We were put here to kill other people". "Pray tell, sir, what do you base this on?", he asked in horror. "Why, on killing other people", I replied.'

  • I love it when you get prizes by default. I once won a prize for "Best Tom Cruise lookalike" back in the slums of India. The competition was a blind man with no teeth and a cow with rabies. I must admit I thought the cow was going to be stiff competition.

  • Well my advice is to figure out who the geniuses are in each of your subjects, then change your surname to match theirs so that you sit next to them in exams. Then it's copy & paste time. I haven't actually tried this, seeing as how I was arrested before I could do exams last year, but it should work.

Oh gosh, yet another jaw-dropping Trigun. I'm inspired now to do my own piece on morality. Then again, reading through this blog, I'm inspired to do a lot of things. But I rarely accomplish anything.
I think I'm ready to become a rock 'n roll star, seeing how awful I feel right now thanks to the excesses of my daring lifestyle. The day started off on a strange note when I got up unusually early. I was happy to get the extra hours in th eday, of course, but at the same time the first few hours were, well, surreal. Cup of coffee, staring at this blasted screen with some strange music in the background, I don't know, it seems like an eternity away. Is it a good or bad thing when you can't remember what the morning was like? I suppose it would normally mean that your day has been so packed with exciting things that you're focussed solely on the moment. If only 'twere true in my case; no, sadly I've had nothing of the sort, 'twas another ho-hum day in my ho-hum life. At times like these, I wonder what I'm doing with myself, and why, if I'm able to realize that I'm not going anywhere, I don't do anything about it. Tragically hilarious, that.

My allusion to a rock star at the start of this post was a result, I'm sure, of me having MSN radio for a good 10 hours or so. Music can do strange things to your mind, man. It's good in a way, because now I'm less likely to go on any obsessive marathon music-listening sessions like I normally do. Although, I have discovered some nice little numbers in my trip to this woozy mess - Supertramp's "Goodbye Stranger" (it's all in the chorus, man), The Doors' "Waiting For The Sun", James Gang's "Life's Been Good", Iggy Pop's "Passenger", and of course, The Zombies' "Time Of The Season" ("What's your name? / Who's your daddy? / Is he rich like me?"), and so on. Although I dunno if it's worth the blinding pain I'm having right now.

On the subject of music, I am a little disheartened with CDs. For me, once I buy one, if I hear it more than a couple of times in the span of a few weeks, I feel as though the magic is lost on me. I have no idea where I came up with this way of thinking. I'm a strange beast then in that my favourite albums ever are probably the ones I've listened to the least - to preserve the freshness, don't ya know? Whereas it's the rough gems that I try to listen to more than a few times to try and see the value in them. I do think that it is possible for something to lose its freshness, but I think I have taken the idea too far. It's merely another extreme. I used to listen to my entire collection every weekend a few years ago (when I was just starting out in the weird and wonderful world of rock and roll, and I had only a few hundred songs) - now there's a recipe for disaster. Chances are I blew a fuse back then, and decided that I had totally drained everything that was good about the songs by listening to them over and over and over again every single week for God knows how long. So now, I suppose to compensate, I have gone in the opposite direction, listening to an album a couple of times (maybe three on the odd occasion), and then leaving it to collect dust for a few years.

What's particularly bad is that it means I can never be satisfied. Any new addition to my collection is deemed used up in a few weeks (for the next few years or so, anyway), and therefore I always need more, more..quite sad, really. I wonder if I can get over this sometime soon?

Let me give you an example of something whose freshness I'm preserving for later years - The Moody Blues' Days Of Future Passed. In particular, I was struck with the idea of listening to the song "Tuesday Afternoon" when I become 30. Why? Inexplicable associations, that's why. Well, perhaps not all that inexplicable, actually. The whole album progresses as though the listener is aging, from the merry childhood of "Another Morning" to the deadly dying-man (? or so I've read) ballad "Nights In White Satin". But anyway, "Tuesday Afternoon" to me is associated with middle age. The mellotron (is it? I'm terrible with telling what instruments are being played) introduction in particular, there's something about it. Heavenly, for sure, and as a result it's something I want to look backon. Silly, perhaps, but still at least it's something to look forward to, right?

Friday, July 16, 2004

For the uninitiated, I've been listening to MSN Radio for the last 3/4 hours. It grows on you, ya know? Especially if you don't own thousands of CDs, and are looking for something new. I wish it were more customizable though - there are some artists that I simply don't wish to listen to ever, because they simply rub me the wrong way. If I remember, Yahoo radio let you do something like this, but now I'm so darn comfy with MSN, I ain't switching. Not right now, anyway.
The heck? It seems like both Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit and The Small Face's Tin Soldier have this bass line lifted from Love's Forever Changes. Curioser and curioser..a matter I will look into in my forthcoming review of the album.
The exam server is dead. I've been trying to connect to it for the whole day but nope, nothing. I wouldn't normally post about something like this, but it does epitomize how obsessive I can be. Right now I have a tab dedicated to it, which I keep refreshing, oh, every minute or so. OCD, here I come. I mean there ain't no pressing reason for me to check it now. Odds are tomorrow morning when everyone is asleep the server will be nice and relaxed and I can seamlessly see a string of "Fail"s and burst into tears, all within a minute or so. But the obsessive part of me cannot let go - it must check the site every minute. Darn, this is a serious problem, no matter how much I try to trivialize it!

Blogger seems to be changing. They're adding new, nifty features to this post window, for one. Although, I wish the font wasn't so large in here.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Three silly quotes for you to ponder:

"I have nothing against gays and I'd like to keep it that way" - Jimminy Glick (aka Martin Short)

"I'm sorry, I just get so choked up when I think of all the problems in the world that can be solved with booze" - Artie from Norm

C: Sir, you need professional help!
G: I prefer amateur help.
C: What's amateur help?
G: Booze and cocaine.
C: (Shakes head) Alright, stick around folks, we'll be back after this commercial.
G: I did a commercial once.
C: You did a commercial? What for?
G: Booze and cocaine.

- From Late Night With Conan O' Brien
I had another marathon blog-browsing session yesterday, trying desperately to find something new to read. I've come out largely empty-handed, but not without a deep sense of dissatisfaction and disappointment. Not at the blogs, mind you, a lot of them were rather good, but rather it's with myself. See, some of these blogs are too good. You might say they're actually much, much better than mine. Now, I've been through this before, and it was a bit crushing on my ego, but it was only a trifle. The thing is, most of these blogs beat me at my own game (by which I mean pseudo-philosophy and general musings on life, the universe and everything). And how! There are some that span back to the turn of the century and are filled with pages and pages of poems, stories and musings on many of the same things that I've written about here. The difference being, of course, that most of them are really, really good; which is even more crushing when you notice that, for example, the post about mortality and mankind's legacy on another blog is far more coherent, thought-out, and well-expressed.

I am strange creature in that I often recognize things such as jealousy from an early stage, but I make no attempt to correct them. I just sit back and go "Ah, whaddaya gonna do?" and let it run its natural course. For those of you that know me, the consequences are apparent.

Of course, the whole thing was largely inspiring, because now I have to show these people that they're dealing with me, the quintessential failure. No one's going to write a better reflection on failure than me, you hear!? After all, I is stronger than Darth Vapor.

It's interesting that all the blogs I read were written by Indians (because I followed the "Friends" links from a relative's blog). It sort of makes you wonder what they're putting in the water there that we all turn out like this, eh? By "this", I think I mean how we seem to love philosophy and art and thinking about life in general. Of course, 'twould be silly to think it's exclusive to us, so I guess I really mean that it's how we seem to love talking about philosophy, art, and so on. But one thing which struck me as odd is that the whole outlook of these desi-bloggers (gah I sound like a twat, don't I?) seems to be so unlike the image of people I had when I was there not too long ago. Perhaps I am too naive and conservative, but I don't remember swearing, dating and sexuality to be such common topics of debate. I am probably over-reacting, but I think the traditional, uber-conservative mindset that has dominated for a while is being fused with the Western mindset.

I remember when I went back two years ago, I stopped in a coffee-shop. Firstly, the whole premise of a coffee-shop seemed odd to me for some reason; as if it were directly influenced by stuff like Friends as "a place to chill" or some such inane expression. But the teens I saw in there, well, I don't want to use the word "sickening", but it's probably the one that captures what I felt. It was all quite surreal, really. For some odd reason, I felt like I was in an American TV show. It's hard to explain exactly why. I think it was just a vibe, which the rationalists among you might smirk at, but I believe in this sort of thing (when it suits my cause, naturally, otherwise it's voodoo mumbo-jumbo). I was deeply saddened, for it was as though these people thought that what they saw on TV of the western-life was something to aspire to; that the traditional Indian way had to be rejected in favour of one more in with the times. I suppose it's the little things that make one think like this. Little things like the way these kids (and they are kids, no matter how much they try to pretend they're mature and grown up) were talking, dressing, and if it makes any sense, just the way they looked. Once again it comes down to a vibe I got.

I felt as though I ought to tell them "Hey, guys, I've lived among this stuff for two years, and trust me, it ain't the paradise you think it is". Why did this affect me so much? I think I know why. For a whole two years, in the face of a new culture and a new way of life, I'd seen and heard things that were completely new to me, and they upset me a lot. 'Twas in those times of uncertainty that I thought of life in India, and wistfully recalled how innocent and simple it all was. Naturally it had its fair share of problems, but it was the very essence of life there that I admired. And why not? I am Indian. I had lived there 15 years of my life. Of course I admired it! But the thing is, I created in my head this image that people living in India were then a moral compass of sorts for me; how many times I thought "Oh, in India this would never have happened...".

Then, when I went back and saw the same things had begun to infiltrate into life there, I was disheartened to say the least.

Sometimes, I think if they really did move to the US or any other country with a similar culture, they would have a nightmare-ish time and would learn the folly of their ways. Then, the wise old sage Aditya could come and tell them all "See, I told you so". But I think I would be deluding myself. Chances are these people really would fit in, and embrace the new culture while (I presume) distancing themselves somewhat from their old one (for the two are mutually exclusive at some level, right?).

So what does it all mean? I don't honestly know. Perhaps that I am of a dying breed, that I am one of the few people (pointlessly?) resisiting a culture that seems to be taking over a lot of the world. Sad, really. I truly realize now that I don't fit in either here, in Sydney, or back in India. I'm a modern day nomad, destined to travel in search of somewhere to call home.

There's a darkness at the edge of town.
I have seen the future, and it truly is electronic (disclaimer: a large-ish movie, 56k beware!). At first I actually thought the thing was real. But once it starts getting to lines like "I is more stronger than Darth Vapor!", well, you hope and pray that it's real, but unfortunately it's a joke. Absurdly funny, yes, but still, if only 'twere real.

Please don't blame me if you get the melody stuck in your head.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Hmm I thought I'd revisit my folky-poem I posted a few days ago:

"His death was quick and easy,
They would recall and laugh
Trained all his life, but in the end
He was cut in half"

It's hard to maintain objectivity, but I think that stanza captures perfectly how I've often felt about, well, life, the universe, and everything. I suppose I'm too much a nihilist/fatalist, but there you have it. I remember the day I wrote that poem. I especially remember telling my mother, with a wry smile, "It's alright ma, I'm only a manic depressive" (yet another Dylan reference), right before I got better. Funnily enough, I had to go outside to really feel better - whereas going outside normally makes me upset in the first place. But that's a story for another day.

On the subject of It's Alright Ma, you have to love this quote:

"That he not busy being born
Is busy dying."
And now, gentle reader, here is another of my pieces of writing from long, long ago. This one I wrote one morning oh, probably four years ago, because I remembered what fun it used to be to write when I was smaller. I think it has some of the absurdist humour that I took a little too far back then, but Ode To Lost Hope it is not. For one, it includes my favourite opening line (among the works I've written, of course). Some things are lost on me though - "the proverbial square he lived in"? Sounds odd. But anyway, this is the reason I'm keeping this blog! Looking over this writing takes me back to a different time and place altogether. It's as though reality and time are inseparable; that the past is like a different life altogether. Is that what the Beatles meant in "In My Life"? I dunno, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Doesn't it always begin with the rain? It poured onto the streets, its elegant, constant motion cleansing the stagnant filth that sat unchallenged among indifference and lethargy. Yet, all of this was not noticed by James, a man too caught up in his own world, neither willing nor caring to look outside the proverbial square he lived in.

Not that I blame him - I don't think I would comment on the apparent beauty of nature if my dog had ruined my life.

See, James' dog is no ordinary dog - he is one smart canine. Too smart - in fact, one might say in some ways he was the owner. But that's irrelevant.

It all started one day in my house. He and I are moderate acquaintances, by the way. Anyway, he came over while I was watching TV, and he very excitedly said to me, "I'm going to be rich!". He obviously couldn't see that I was totally uninterested. It was like I was caught in a separate dimension whenever I sat there, lifeless to the casual observer.

But something, and I now wish it didn't, compelled me to ask "How?". That was the word he was waiting for. That simple monosyllable somehow implied that I had actual interest in what he was saying, though in truth, I couldn't care less if he was going to use his dog to help him win a gameshow.

"I'm going to use my dog to help me win a gameshow!", he said.

"Ah," I said. I guess I should've seen that coming.

Inspired by my effort to sound interested, he elaborated - "See, I've been training him myself, and both of us have been practising hard. Now he and I work like a perfect team!".

I always draw a line to my fake interest. My brain refused to make me ask him how he trained his dog. Ah well.

But I suppose James had already gained enough momentum, and he wasn't fazed by my lifeless gazing at those alternating pixels. He talked about how he was selected for the gameshow that called itself Magnum, and how the prize was $100, 000.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable person, but when a gameshow calls itself Magnum, my mind screams out in pain, as if I were shot in the head by its repulsive lack of meaning.

But that internal horror came out as a mild "Magnum?". "Yeah," James replied, "it's a new show. The host has a cat".


I can't remember when he left that day. I can't even remember what day that was. It's just stuck in my mind as "That day". As is every other day. I don't know how long this curious ailment has afflicted me. Since that day, I guess.

Coming back to the point, we met again the next day. This strikes me as odd, me meeting a moderate acquaintance who sees it fit to enter my house without notice two days in a row. Just luck I suppose.

He proceeded to invite me Magnum, as I was "so supportive" the day before. It figures.

Naturally, I said I would definitely be in Magnum, but the trick was not to be seen in Magnum. So there I was, in the studio of Magnum. Among people who were excited. Excited. Excited to be in a place where there were people who would be made to show their intelligence to some guy who has a cat. And seeing how James thought that Afghanistan was a novelty store, I wasn't expecting the other contestants to be any brighter.

Apparently, cats make you talk. Unintelligibly. The host spoke like his tongue was a speeding car racing away from the police. James was quite lucky to survive the first question about the unit of power. I'll admit, I was curious to see James' dog in action. Perhaps it was a rather childish curiosity, but nonetheless it was there.

For someone of James' intellect, the plan was brilliant - his dog would look at the answer marked "Correct" (which was in green), and bark out its number - if the answer was number two, he would bark twice.

And it worked. Flawlessly. Question after question James' dog barked, and James got it right. On the last question, James was confident. I would've been. The question came - how many corporations have gained a million dollars within a week?

James' dog barked twice.

"Two!!", James almost screamed.

"Number two, or two?", asked the host.

"Umm, I, uh..."

The timer buzzed. Game over.

The consolation prize was a colour TV. So it was a success, right?

Well, not really. See...

James is blind.

The rain poured more and more.

Yes, I seemed to be obsessed with one-liners and sudden paragraph breaks, but it was fun darn it! I surprise myself sometimes, actually. Subtle stuff like "James was quite lucky to survive the first question about the unit of power", I didn't know I was capable of stuff like that back then; far too subtle from what I remember of the young me! Perhaps I was better than I give myself credit for? Then again, considering what my life is like now, I must've screwed up pretty bad back then.

Oh, and the ending is a bit cooky, yes, and in fact I submitted this for an english task in school, and the teacher wondered whether I was making fun of blind people! Heh it takes all kinds. I don't know, it just came to me in the instant I was writing the thing - I would call it inspiration, but that's usually associated with something that's good.

Ah, speaking of inspiration, I feel inspired to start writing. About something, anything. Actually, flicking back through the pages of my life (by which I mean the pages of this blog), I remember thinking about this a while back. Heh I would never have imagined back then that I'd still be blogging today. But anyway, perhaps I should start the book (that's meant to be accompanied by ominous sounding music, by the way). I remember making a list of what the book would deal with. Life? Love? (Can't have one without the other, eh?) Death? Failure? A bit of everything? Gosh darn it I am so inspired, it's invigorating. I wish...I wish I could actually convert these feelings into something concrete. Far too often I let them diffuse away into the sands of time, but now, darn it, now I really have to pursue this with all my heart.

'Sall from me folks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

All Music Guide have updated their website, and how! I like the new look, but you need more clicks to get anywhere. However, they've got music samples now, which is fantastic, because they're not using the same old samples that MSN/Amazon/Barnes and Noble seem to use. Finally, I can track down those obscure albums and get a feel for them before buying them.

This also means that I will have to update my music catalogue program, because the underlying HTML has changed. It's good to have some motivation.
I usually prefer Conan O' Brien to Jay Leno, but there was one joke in Jay's monologue that I found particularly funny. To paraphrase: "Apparently, the Bush administration is looking at the possibility of delaying the elections in the event of a catastrophe...(pause) yeah, like John Kerry winning." Yes, a bit silly, but I actually laughed out loud at that.
I was convinced a few hours ago that I would post a scathing attack on FF7 and it's lack of XP compatibility, which I would normally deal with, but there was one particular area (the Whirlwind maze, if that means anything to you) that was darn near impossible to get through because the game was running too fast. Thankfully, I somehow managed to do it after, oh, 20 tries and 3 blue screens. I often get a PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA message, with the driver at fault being nv4_disp.dll, which is very annoying. There are rumours that the latest nVidia 61.12 drivers are actually compatible with FF7, but I guess we'll never know, considering that I won't play the game for another four years (at least). It's funny, so now I've played the game when I was 14, 16, and now 20 (19.5 to be precise, but close enough). Perhaps I should make this a regular thing? That would be silly, of course.

Ah apparently the exam results are out soon. That ought to be fun. Don't know why I mentioned that, I tend to keep such rot away from this blog, but anyway, now it's set in stone for the rest of eternity.

The Day After Tomorrow was entertaining, although I was perhaps overly concerned with how realistic it is for a full-scale catastrophe like that to happen as a result of global warming. It's funny, you hear people talk about these things all the time but you rarely pay any attention (perhaps I am being too presumptuous, perhaps you do?) except when there is a direct, pressing matter. F'rinstance, all this talk about renewable sources of energy, and how we're going to use up resources very soon used to be talked about when I was smaller, but now there seems to be this atmosphere of apathy. I remarked that as I got home today, I would immediately forget all about the problems of global warming, and go back into my little world. But is that what the majority of the world is like too? I sure hope not. I feel vaguely inspired to actually do something about the problems that are facing our planet. Gosh darn it, have I been playing too much FF7!? Perhaps I am scared of Weapon rising from the ocean and killing us all, eh?

Monday, July 12, 2004

I held the sneaking suspicion recently that Fleetwood Mac's Rumours wasn't as good as I remembered it. Near-flawless pop? Impossible. Right? Ya know, it's the darndest thing..this is so flawless it's scary (apologies to Starostin for ripping off his lines again). How did they do it!?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I'm listening to "Band On The Run" again. There's a bit in the transition section ("If I ever get out of here") in "Band On The Run" which I could swear is exactly the same as "Revolution Blues" (from Neil Young's On The Beach). Hmm.

I used to maintain that the title track was the best number on here. I still think it's gorgeous, especially the third section. But now, I think "Let Me Roll It" may be the best song here. McCartney's voice in the song just gives me the chills. Once it reaches the "Iiiii can't tellll you how I feeeel" part, watch out for the waterworks! There seems to be contradictory views on the origins of the song. Some claim McCartney specifically set out to write a "Lennon-song", in response to Lennon's brutal "The only thing you ever did was 'Yesterday'" comment. Others claim it just sort of happened. Either way, simply beautiful.
It's been hellish to try and get the images and links working together. Firefox still doesn't render the images properly, or rather it does, but when I hover over them I get a the blue background appearing at the bottom. Ugly as heck, but I presume indicative of a lack of standards compliance in my HTML. IE seems to render fine, though.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Transformer was Reed's breakthrough album, where he managed to reach commercial success by "embracing" glam-rock and coming up with what is often considered one of the best albums of the entire genre; although, whether it really is glam-rock or is just loosely based around it is debatable. Regardless, it is by far Reed's most popular and well known album, and it's easy to see (or rather hear) why. Collaborating with Bowie, Reed went on a considerably different path to some of the Velvet Underground's albums. Now, I don't know about all this glam-rock nonsense, but the melodies are mighty fine. Heck, there isn't a single really weak track on here as far I can tell.

The opener is the delicious "Vicious", which opens with the absurd "Vicious / You hit me with a flower", at which point you just know that it's something else (apparently, Andy Warhol told Reed to write a song called "Vicious" that was "Vicious, like, you hit me with a flower"). Reed's vocals are stunning. I don't often say that, but it's true. The best I can describe it is Dylan for the masses - which I suppose would be Dylan minus nicotine (though not without heroin, eh?). Dylan takes a while to get used to, but his intonations are wonderful once you get accustomed to his voice. Starostin calls Reed "the best Dylan imitator in history", and I would agree. Some people say they can't hear the similarity, but I don't see how. Sure, the voice is different, but it's the intonations, the phrasings that Reed has perfectly captured. Anyhow, "Vicious" has a nice riff with hilarious lyrics ("Vicious / Hey, why don't you swallow razor blades"). Priceless.

"Perfect Day" has such a (dare I say it?) perfect chorus. Heh not really, but I couldn't resist. What does strike you is that Reed, who was involved with such, ah, works of noise (to put it politely) as White Light/White Heat actually has strings in this song. It's odd to hear Reed singing something so mellow and beautiful; is this the same guy who wrote "Sister Ray"? You never can pin this guy down, he's always got a few surprises up his sleeve. I suppose he wasn't afraid to try anything, which is good - he didn't try to keep up a tough-guy image, he just did whatever he felt like. Then we have "Hangin' Round" - now this is pure rock 'n roll, baby! I read somewhere that Dylan was on the road somewhere when he heard a Beatles song on the radio. He stopped the car and started madly thumping the car to the beat of the song. I was tempted to do the same with this song - once the chorus hits, ooh man, it's pure gold. Yes, it's no "Day In The Life", but it's enjoyable nonetheless darn it! And isn't that what's important? The answer, of course, is no.

Of course, the most famous song off this album is "Walk on the wild side", with the subdued shuffling beat and the "Do do doo do doo doo do doo" chorus. But I don't think it's the best song on here. More on that later. The song seems innocent enough, but they mask the lyrics about transvestites and other interesting personalities whom he came across in Warhol's factory. A bit off-putting, actually, since you want to love the song, but for me it's a little hard when I hear of people who "shaved her leg and then he was a she"..anyway, "Satellite Of Love"'s ending is precious - well I like it anyway. That's Bowie doing the "Satelliiiiiiiite", by the way; yep, amazing huh? The song reminds of something else, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

On the whole, pretty darn good, I'd say. My only complaint would be that the album gets a little limp towards the end. The cabaret-flavoured "Goodnight Ladies", for one, doesn't do anything for me, but that's forgiveable, it's over quickly enough. Extremely consistent, and always entertaining - minimal filler and wonderful melodies. How can you go wrong? It's too hard to pick a favourite song. "Vicious"? "Perfect Day"? "Walk on the wild side"? "Satellite Of Love"? Heck they're all great. Even the minor numbers are nothing to be ashamed of (like, say, "Make up" - I'm telling you now, the "You're a slick little girl" line is inexplicably infectious). Amazing stuff! I haven't really dug deep into '70s rock by any means, but I think this is up there among the best of them. Although Band On The Run might have something to say about that, eh? Oh wait a second, the '70s was when Plastic Ono Band came out, so Transformer is at best #2. Hmm and of course we have Rust Never Sleeps. Ya know what, let's leave it at "this is a great album", and save the "Ohhh my album is better than your album" stuff for another day.

Update 4/10/05: Just a quick word to say I now find this is so charmingly naive. Especially the bit at the end about it being one of the best, ah...! Would it still make my top 10 for '70s albums? Possibly, though I think Eno and his collaborations are currently swimming towards the top of my list.

 Posted by Hello
Here's when I almost became a folk rock star; a piece inspired by, well, failure (more specifically, my own). Not quite as bad as my epic in 9 parts, but that's not saying much, now is it?

It was a black day,
One cruel December morn
When the mighty king fell
As a new one was born.

All his life he'd struggled,
He'd risen to the top
Never once did he think
It would someday stop.

They came in the night,
They dressed themselves in white
And with swords of purest steel
They would be his last sight.

Not all had forsaken him,
There was a knight and wife
She was still glowing when
They stuck in her a knife.

The knight took his master,
And fled from the scene
All the while believing
He was in a dream.

The king had wronged no one,
His heart was pure as gold.
Yet all things' time must come
Or so we are told.

When they found them,
The knight clenched his sword
His palms sweating, he lunged
At the white horde.

His death was quick and easy,
They would recall and laugh
Trained all his life, but in the end
He was cut in half.

The king now left standing,
Not a friend was ledft
And so with a heavy heart
His end he did accept.

They laughed and wept soon after,
And the new king they did appoint
Heart of black and face of white
But in secret, he saw no point.

For in days yet to come
He too would see
A day when his time would come
At the hands of you and me.

Somehow, when I wrote this, I had this simple folky melody in my head, and so whenever I read it, it's like a song. What's odd then is how different the words appear to be when you don't have that melody in your head - things which may seem powerful and moving due to the way you sing them can seem quite flat when thought of as just words.

Actually, what the heck, I don't quite mind it, in fact you might say I like it. Sure, it is terrible, but why should that stop me?
A few chuckles (and insights into better GUI designs, if you're a techie) can be found at The Interface Hall Of Shame. Some of the error messages are pretty funny, including one program which prompts an error dialog that insists "No error".

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Gather 'round, young ones, it's time for the masterpiece that I wrote two years ago. My epic meditation on death, life, love, and anything else I was thinking about at the time. It is without a doubt utter tripe, but like I said, it's something I ought to remember. Anyone who gets through the whole thing is dumber than me (to paraphrase Lou Reed, talking about this album).

It'll be interesting to see if I can get through the whole thing. But I have to - I simply must.

I Ode to lost hope

Hunting by the shores of time
My spirit bobbing up the water
And down it goes again
Down to the depths it returns.

Few have stepped here, it seems,
Too quiet for anyone to have stepped here.
Hear me, and perhaps
I will let you come near.

I once saw a jewel in the river
And I picked it up in a moment
Only to lose it the next
Down to the depths it returns.

I knew someone
Now, he has left me alone
Sometimes I like that he did
Not now, now more or that tone.

Shall we meet
By the shores of time?
A land I have long lived in
A land I now call mine.

Let us meet
By the shores of time
Let us meet
At the last heavenly chime.

Oh, angels of flame!
I would ask of you
Whether this one
May someday become two.

II Gazing at the valley

Never question my voice, sir,
It bears to much wrath
For you to incur.

Waves are flowing around
My head, always beating
That same sound.

Who told you that
I told him that?
Lies, lies, leave me
Be, perhaps one day
You will see
The truth in flowing colour
As the crevice below
Is the only place to go.

The green roots are abound
The valley is alive
Let us wait for the sound.

I can hear the sound
Can you feel it now?
I can feel it now.

III Dawn at a basin

Fortune is what I seek
Come, pity not the meek,
Know you are, above all,
The one true solider who stands tall.

Hail to you, champion of light,
My, such a glorious sight!
Come, let us go below
And our gifts, let us show.

IV Into the deep

Hark, close that door,
What light! My eyes
Cannot bear the sight
They are strong no more.

"Come now, no tears
Is it truly over now?"
Had I not told you
Once upon many a year?

Wipe the tears, and see
How I will fight these fears,
Best wipe those tears,
And sit by me.

Are you leaving? Pray,
Stay a while, I cannot
Tell in dream or death
What makes me say why.

Don't leave, I cannot
Close this door.
Tell me why
You are leaving.

Still, my beating heart
I cannot stop this,
Too much I have done
To stop this.

Gone like a crying angel,
Flying into the beautiful sky blue
My heart, canst advise
What am I to do?

Greetings from the depths.
Wish you were here.

V A Soldier's Funeral

How brave he once was,
Only to end like this.
I blame him not
He did not see anything
Quite like this.

I remember now
How he would tell
Of a trial so harrowing
He know not whom to tell.

If only I knew
What you thought of him,
We could have saved him.
But I blame you not,
We could have killed him.

Why shed tears?
Oh, if I knew!
Could he be saved?
Is it too late?

He knew many a thing,
He fought many a war
But he never had anything
Quite like this before.

His grave's quiet,
Shall we disturb it now?
Or leave it as it is
What is the right thing?
Ye Gods, tell me now!

You were once a friend true,
Wipe your tears now,
It would not be what he wanted.
For rumour is,
He once loved you.

VI Oasis

What, in ill thoughts again?
Need I remind you
Of what we are doing?

I know you can stop it,
I know you can block it,
Have a drink of water
And clear the mind.

VII Judgement

Angel of time,
I am not worthy
I know not your thoughts,
I am not worthy.

Soon I shall see you fly,
Into those clouds of the night,
Perhaps you wish me to join you
But I do not know.
I cannot overcome my fright.

My life has never seen
Anything quite so foreign
To my world of thought.

I know it is normal, angel of time,
I know.
But now, is it normal now?
Some would say yes,
Yes, I fear, not them.

Cursed confusion! I am
Not as able as I once was.
Are you, angel of time,
As able as you once were?

To even reveal myself
Would be a tragedy to you
Oh, angel of time,
What would you want me to do?

Wipe your tears,
We shall survive.
I know you shall
Myself? I am unsure.

VIII Revelation

Put it away!
They might reveal
A secret too tender
For you to heal.

IX The Past Spoke

The past spoke to me
When I was feeling for
What I was feeling.

I would listen to it
But now is not the past.

If only I knew
Without asking,
Without anyone knowing.

Angel of time, I beg
For forgiveness.
At any offence to you.
I beg for forgiveness
If you wished a touch sooner
I am not worthy to touch
One so beautiful.
Wipe my tears, angel of time,
Wipe my tears.

Once again, no need to tell me how it's pretentious, heavily influenced by stuff such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, how it's total rot, makes no sense, etc. etc. Trust me, I agree completely. Ode to lost hope? Oh God...!! Believe me, I know! It's easily the worst thing ever in the history of human civilization.

I'll just keep repeating "Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now" and it will all be alright..
"You need to become a better individual. I am not saying you are a crappy person, but there is always something that everybody lacks. We, the geeks, mostly lacks in conversation skill and self-image. We are not aware about this until somebody else point that out to us, or see ourselves in a video tape, or maybe when we realize that nobody wants us. Look yourself in a mirror. Do you see a loser or a winner? You must see a winner"

Nice (if typical) motivational speech directed towards geeks, but especially interesting for me. Because I don't want to see a winner in the mirror. "What?!", you splutter incredulously. No, 'tis true, I don't think I want to be a winner. Am I mad? Scared of success? There's bound to be some deep psychological problem that creates this sort of thing.

But seriously, I don't want to be a winner. The thought of it is it both unsettling and, dare I say it, revolting. I don't know, perhaps it's the full moon, but the thought of self-confidence is, well, frightening. I'm not sure whether it's because that would be a dramatic step away from my personality, but I would think not; I think the fundamental issue is that I don't like the thought of being a winner. This is possibly due to the fact that I have this fractured image of what a winner is - it's one of those strong images that is really hard to express in words. Suffice to say, it's not something I wish to pursue.

Surely actually wanting to be a failure is condemning yourself then? The thing is, is there a dichotomy? Winner and loser, failure and success? I would guess that there is someplace in between that I would like to see myself. Mediocrity is the best word for it. The thought of being nothing more than a failure is comforting at times (that's another story for another day, children), but I would like to delude myself at moments like these that I have the potential to rise above it - but I certainly have no desire to be a success. So there must be a middle ground, or else I'm going to be running in circles (which is always a possibility).

In short, I don't want to be one of those smug successful people - mediocrity is my cup of tea.

How is it I find stuff to write about these nights? Not a clue.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Talking about what I wrote a couple of years ago reminds me of something else that I had a couple of years ago (aside from motivation, ambition, and happiness) - a notebook. I must have something like five entries in it, but it's still an integral part of me. The story of how I got it is a brief one. Essentially, when I read Huxley's Those Barren Leaves and Point Counterpoint, I was struck by the thought of ideas. More specifically, a "novel of ideas", as one of the characters mentions. If memory serves, both books have characters who keep diaries where they muse on philosophical ideas, and, being the impressionable young waif that I am, I thought that I too ought to do something like this. For a period of time, I was convinced that this was going to work, that I would actually have these great ideas and put them to words, and have them written down and safe for all of time.

Unfortunately, it didn't work.

Why? I don't quite know. Perhaps I'm so out of touch with the art of writing that I simply cannot do it anymore; then again, there is the fact that I was not able to come up with any great ideas in the first place. No ideas implies no writing. Once I realized this, I thought I might include some fictional writing, the sort a budding writer might have. That failed too, unfortunately. If memory serves, I came up with one poem and one short story, neither of them making much sense at all.

The whole thing sounds like a colossal failure, and in a sense, I suppose it was. But the idea, the principle, they are really strong even till today. The mere fact that I pursued something like that is remarkable, considering how lazy I am, and how inert I am in pursuing any goals or dreams. That much is immortalized in my memory. Yet when I think about it, in a sense this blog has become that notebook; this is exactly the kind of thing I would have liked to have written there, except that for some reason it didn't work back then. Sure, the mere fact that this is an digital format makes it lose that quaint charm that the notebook has, but I think my former self would be pleased that I have found a way to express myself, albeit I don't do it as often as I would like. Still, baby steps..!

What the heck, let me get the ball rolling, here's the "story" I had in the notebook. On glancing at the date, it appears it was little over a year ago. I simply don't remember it being so recent. Charmingly enough, before the story I wrote the following:

Let me experiment a little.

And without further ado, here we go:

(Professor's study, 1969)
It was purely by chance that I came across the latter. Buried amongst a pile of obscure writings and seemingly incoherent scribbles, it was hardly the sort of thing one would notice. I wonder what life would have been like had I not seen it. But I can't, really. Whatever I imagine has been directly influenced by what has happened. The 'other' reality my mind creates is probably further away from reality than the actual non-reality. But I still wonder.

Several hours I spent that night, legs resting on the table as I glimpsed at the moon. This, this was real. This was. It existed - a moment was something born, something which lived. I sighed with satisfaction.

"What's this about your daughter being missing?"
('As a sparrow flies, the hawk follows')
"Yes, I don't know what to do anymore"
('Blood, red blood, dripping from the ceiling. I can taste it')
"Never fear, we'll find her soon"
('Wait a while. The axe will fall')
"I say, are you alright?"
"Not really, no.."
('Tears are for the weak')

"Chaos. It's everywhere. But what is it? How to define it? More importantly, how to stop it? Can we stop it?"

No idea what he's talking about. Time seems to be crawling. Tick-tock..

"Let's overthrow the government"

Didn't see that one coming.


Can't hurt.

The raids are everywhere. It's only a matter of time. But now I have a family. Surely that's enough for them?

"It's a girl".

I'm so happy.

I wonder what he's up to. Surely nothing dangerous? Curses that he should be a guest here! Jane sure knows the best time to find distant relatives.

I know, I know, it's not so much a story than a stream of consciousness ramble. I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking at the time. An interesting artifact of the past (for me anyway, you probably don't care!). The jumping between past and present, incidentally, is influenced by Eyeless In Gaza. Is Huxley the only author I've read!? No, but he's the one who's had the most impact on me.

Please, save your scorn, and pity my former-self, he was but a young lad trying to fit into this crazy world.
A couple of years ago, I had done some writing that I think sort of defined that period in time for me. A while back, I read it again, but found it visceral - looking back on the whole matter, I get incredibly embarassed and wonder just what I was thinking. At the same time, do I want to forget it? I think it may be worthwhile preserving some of it, for posterity's sake. After all, if this blog is meant to be a collection of thoughts and ideas, why limit myself to the present? It would be silly to deny the past, no matter how foolish it may seem in the light of the present. I once remarked that hindsight is a sadly ironic thing - amazingly powerful, but never there at the time you need it the most (the present).

It may be worthwhile to remember this lyric too:

"Learn from grass
Learn from water
How to transform
Into something other"

Not written by me, but still hopelessly funny (and no, this is not one of those "I have this..friend, see, and he has a problem" things). I feel sorry for the author of the lyric, because, well, I don't know. Either he feels embarassed looking at it now, or else he still remembers it fondly. Tragically funny is the best way I can describe it; is it amusing because one pities the author? Is it both? An interesting scenario, to be sure. When I say "pity the author", it's not with a condescending tone, but it's more of a situation where I can relate to the author. I think at some point we all pity ourselves (well, at any rate, I know I do). Anyone who seriously mocks someone for something like this has to be, well, utterly without soul. God I hate those people.

Anyhow, I might post the first in a series of writings from the past sometime today.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Incidentally, I installed FF7 again yesterday. Memories, sweet memories..
I think Blogger will either have to upgrade servers, or tell people to get rid of all their images! It seems like everytime I click on a recently published blog, it's one that has just been created. It's becoming too popular for it's own good. What kind of server must it run? How does it profit? I'd really like to know.

If possible, one thing I want to do by the end of the holidays is hook up a computer to a projector system and play games. Why? Well why not darn it!? I have precious little going on in my life, so why not play computer games like they were meant to be played, on a freaking huge screen?

I've somewhat changed the blog layout, but it's essentially the same as what it was before. A small step in the right direction though.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I thought I'd expand a bit on what I mean by saying the quote I posted yesterday applies to me. To be more specific, the part about it being "...a subject much bigger and more important than he will ever be". Firstly, I think it is quite a mean attack, and you can apply it to anyone who is interested in something but is not acclaimed in it. Lord knows I'm the same as Mr. Ott in that I fawn over these artists, albums, and for that matter books, and love writing and talking about them. Of course, I will never be able to reach the same level of greatness or genius as these people and things that I praise. But that's not wrong, surely?

It does make me wonder though whether it's wrong to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about a subject when all you can offer is "meaningless commentary". I'm not a critic, I know precious little about most things, so why should I bother writing about these things? Basically it boils down to ego. It makes me feel good, for one, since I like writing about what I like, but also I think it makes me feel important, as if by giving views on something important, that I become important by association. The difference, I would like to think, is that the blogging medium does not imply expertise at all, which I suppose a book might. It's true, the commentary I provide is still meaningless, regardless of medium, but surely a lot of what we do is meaningless then? I suspect the attack was aimed specifically at the fact that Ott chose to write a book about it, which I suppose is more understandable.

There still is the matter, though, of whether it is wrong to be thinking and writing about these things in the first place. Maybe it's a waste of time (and for me it invariably is), but it is an ego-boost, and does that make it wrong? If something makes you happy, and yet it has no point, is it "wrong" to do it? Unfortunately it would be hard to define what the "point" of anything is. I mean, what's the point of life? It may be better to replace "wrong" with a "something you shouldn't be devoting your life to". That would seem to make a true(er) statement - don't spend your life on something that you can't offer anything new on. But this begs the question, "Who are you to tell me what to do with my life?!". Indeed! I don't think the statement is of a command-nature, it's more of a guideline that one would do well to follow. Especially me.

I think I've gone and confused myself. I'm sure the author of the comment didn't intend something so deep, all he meant was that the book was pointless droning, and I suppose he chucked in an insult for good measure.

It's interesting to chalk up a list of fallacies I've employed: appeal to emotion, appeal to common belief, straw man... Hmm perhaps I am far too self-conscious, I cannot go a post without having a disclaimer that basically says "I know what I've written is total nonsense, so spare me".

Blogger's server seems to be taking quite a beating. I knew they would have trouble once they offered unlimited image space!
From here:

"As far as I can tell Ott is some failed musician who has made it his sad goal in life to add his absolutely meaningless commentary to a subject much bigger and more important than he will ever be".

Ouch. Yet again, I think the essence of that attack would apply to me too.
As usual, I've let three days slip by without noticing it at all. Gah, why do days have to pass so fast? There's so little time to do the things you want to (yeah, yeah, I know, you have to make time, but humour me). I saw the conclusion of Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety yesterday (unfortunately, I missed the second part). Definitely interesting, but I rarely find that I am able to be consoled by philosophy and art. Sure, it makes me feel good for a brief period, but I never seem to let it fully sink in. I might end up reading some of de Botton's other works, he definitely seems interesting in a charming, quirky way.

One of the things he mentioned that I found interesting (and amusing) was that sometimes we need death to remind us for our own mortality, which can help us sort and reoorganize our lives, figure out what our priorities are. I think I would do well to seriously contemplate this sometime soon, because I fear that my life is merely slipping away without me realizing it. I don't know, I can't even begin to imagine growing up and being an adult in this crazy world, let alone dying. I mean, I have been aware for a long time now that I am going to die. Some people don't even think about such things, and so they are sometimes shocked by the thought, but no, it has occured to me a few times in the past. But I don't think I've spent enough time critically thinking about what I want to do as a result of that. As in, what am I really doing with my life? Will I be content at death? What do I want to acheive? And so on.

Too often I have the fatalist/nihilist/pessimist/depressionist rolled-into-one attitude that makes me say something dreary like "Oh, I'm a failure, I'm not going to accomplish anything". Perhaps. But it's not right to condemn onesself to failure so early on I would think, it's not right to resign to a future based on what are really quite limited experiences. This prevents me from ever really thinking about what I want to do and who I want to be. You hear that everyone is scared about the future, but I would think I am more-so than others; at times I am literally terrified of what the future is going to hold. But should this not inspire me to have some attainable goals that I may look forward to? Some yardstick by which I can deem my life a relative success?

The program made me question my stance on money. Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy you the ability to pursue happiness, so they say. This strikes me as being the rationalist's view, balanced and pragmatic. My fields of choice (computer science and mathematics) were certainly not chosen on the basis of the money that a typical job in these fields pays, but it is interesting to ask whether one would be content with a normal salary that is enough to pay all the bills and support a family, while allowing for some minimal amount of luxury. Shouldn't that be enough? At times I think that I am very materialistic about certain things (f'rinstance, music). It saddens me, because I don't think I used to be like this - not quite as bad as I am now, at any rate. I'd like to think that I'd be happy with such an income, but there is this other side of me that says that I would not, and that I would want to spoil myself. Which one is right, I do not know.

It's interesting for me to think about these things, but the thing is some people have lived a hard life for as long as they can remember, and so to them my introspections may seem strange. Fundamentally, I suppose, the issue is whether we need to be pampered to be happy. Is it idealistic to think that there is happiness to be found without luxury, assuming you've been exposed to it for a good amount of time?

Truth be told, I don't think I will be very successful, and so I will hopefully not go below my own lowered expectations. The problem is then that I suffer from the problem of placing too much importance to what other people think and say. (I am not sure whether it just introversion?) If I am not successful, I am petrified that there will be talk of my failure, and cringe at the thought of what people will think of me. Well, to be fair, no one has a very high opinion of me now anyway, so that's a good start. But more importantly, such thoughts do not deserve much attention. The very nature of success seems to be predominantly a measure of your financial value. I don't think there's enough emphasis placed on the quality of a person as a person. In BFC, there was a lot of talk about how there is very much an atmosphere of fear prevailing in the media. I especially am scared by what I read, hear and see into thinking that these ultimately pointless standards are the ones to aim for. Yet it should not be so; we should judge people as people, not as extensions of their bank account.

Am I making excuses for myself? I've deluded myself with hopeless arguments in the past, and so I can't put it past me. I think I am guilty of oversimplification. If you oversimplify enough, you can argue that lots of people spend their leaves earning pieces of paper, and how many pieces of paper you have dictate how successful you are.

I feel like watching all the movies I've never had the time to watch properly. For starters, I feel the need to watch The Good, The Bad & The Ugly again. I think I last saw it some 6 years ago, and most of it is but a blur.

A Gentle Introduction To Symbolic Computation is just waiting to be read. As is The Plague, Zen, Crime & Punishment (again), The Brothers Karmazov (also again), and so on. I don't read half as much as used to, and I don't know why that is. It's not good, because I don't want to lose touch with the written medium. Has this infernal machine taken over my life?

I had the riff from Marquee Moon stuck in my head, but now I've gone and forgotten it.

Pardon the rambling nature of this post, I'm much too tired.