Yearly Archives: 2000

Blonding 2001

I may not get time to do this otherwise.

Exit Millennium 2000. Entre Millennium 2001.

Purple is the prime ingredient of blonde. Let’s get some purple into 2001.

It’s 1:21am.

In 2001, I will remember not to put aside and forget matters; and that all activites have a cleanup phase. I will practice asceticism, meditation, and random acts of kindess. I will go for walks with friends; and look out for presents for them. I will take time to look after my health and time to write.

In 2001 I will read a book about Tasmania: Death of a River Guide, by Richard Flanagan. I will read biographies of Thomas Jefferson, Mohandas Gandhi, Pierre Trudeau, Paul Keating, and Bill Clinton; and a book on democracy by John Ralston Saul. I will read The Tempest, and short stories by Jorge Luis Borges.

I will keep a record of the books I read.

And
With that strong visual sense, the Narrator of Fight Club could have been David Fincher. With that literary flair, he could of been Chuck Palahniuk. He could have been so much more than a master of fratboys in teenage games.

I grew up with the Goodies, the Goons, Python, DAAS, etc. Cutup art school anarchy. British art school. This self-aware, self-deprecating, yet strong, forthright, intelligent, rude, fast, DIY… stuff. And most of all that mature sense of self-humour. (This schtick can be found mostly, declawed, in children’s cartoons today.)

And
The Sixth Sense is a superhero film.

My mind keeps going back to Cinema 1999. 2000 was, for me, a poor year in films. I can remember so few. In 2001, I will keep a record the films I watch.

From Clayton
Only the last things wait to be packed. Tomorrow I move. New internet connections await discovery.

It feels like Christmas Eve

It is 1 am, so it is Saturday, and I haven’t gone to sleep yet. I think it’s Friday. This is one of those millennial issues that happen whenever you stay up too late.

Today was long, the light stayed on forever. The season is flip-flopping over — suddenly the equinox is yesterday, or today, which is becoming yesterday, should be yesterday. I’m up at 1 am at the end of the year and I’m rambling.

Yesterday was bright hot. Being summer in Melbourne, today was wet and overcast. Unusually, Adelaidean blackouts are rolling across the city. Not “brownouts” — won’t admit such a word.

It’s strange.

And it feels like Christmas Eve.

So Merry Christmas.

Last year was Happy Christmas. And this is the Merry New Year. So, now, Merry Christmas, and here comes the Happy New Year.

The year before last there was no Christmas. There was a non-religous peace holiday. Or something. Not those words exactly. But a passive agressive teenage anti-ness. I’m not a Christian and I’m not a Capitalist and sometimes this doesn’t feel like my holiday.

This year I am getting presents for some people.

I want to give.

This year I am thinking about the presents. I am not asking people what they want. This is a hard exercise. My friends are monied and able to buy what they want; I have no desire to fill their houses with trinkets; nor do I produce goods or offer services I may give them. The presents will rarely be earthshakers in this environment, but they can be sufficient tokens of my love and thanks. I get there in the end.

I want to give.

When I was young and received presents, they were all wrapped, and there was excitement in the semi-secrecy of the wrappings, exhilaration in the unwrapping. Now, to me as an adult, there is none of that. The wrapping is perfunctory, however elaborate. I no longer engage with the present as I once did. I see in the eyes of others that they no longer do either.

So this year I am subverting capitalism.

No wrappings.

I take out the present, unwrapped, before they join me, or while they are watching. I inspect it. Flip through it or pull it out of its box or whatever as appropriate. The receiver (unbeknownst to them) looks on. They’re desirous or curious. You hand the item to them. They inspect it. You talk about it a little. Get into it. You say, “it’s yours.”

Surprise! Merry Christmas!

Try it. It’s good.

peel ay y (the already said)

Each in his own way discovered that sustained attentiveness, rather than fixing or securing the world, led to perceptual disintegration and loss of presence, and each used this discovery as the basis for a reinvention of representational practices.
(Jonathan Crary)


There is a word that is sometimes hung up at the end of a tram line: the word ‘Stop.’ Written on a metal label by the side of the line, it means that a tram will stop here presently. It is an example of pure information … Compare it with another public notice which is sometimes exhibited in the dark cities of England: ‘Beware of pickpockets, male and female.’ Here again there is information. A pickpocket may come along presently, just like a tram, and we take our measures accordingly. But there is something else besides …. We have been reminded of several disquieting truths — the general insecurity of life, human frailty, the violence of the poor, and the fatuous trustfulness of the rich, who always expect to be popular without having done anything to deserve it. … By taking the form of a warning it has made us afraid. … Besides conveying information it has created an atmosphere, and to that extent it is literature. (EM Forster)

we’re in record

Unrelated
Sometimes the world seems so quiet. No signal. Just white noise. An in utero ocean. Sometimes the news just seems like repeats.

Unrelated
Hours...flashing dot...tens of minutes...single minutes...

Unrelated
So, at the start of this year I found a collection of great quotes, about a dozen, in some technical documentation at work. I was disconnected from the internet, so I spent my inbetweentimes reading doco.

And reading the quotes.

Eventually I determined to seek all of them out. I wrote them down. I intended to email them to myself. Ferret them away in a text file, or on a website like this. They were loci of wisdom.

I was dazzled.

I blinked. And deleted the words.

Unrelated
These unrelated days. We try to find our way. I try to find my way. I am trying to find a way. I am trying to come to terms with the way I am and the way I want to be. I am groping in a world of noise.

Mices, horse

Xmas Tree

Know you what it is to be a child. It is to turn pumpkins into coaches and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness and nothing into everything. (Francis Thompson)

Job
My first ever job in IT was for DEET/CES (now DEETYA and Centrelink). Well, actually, I was employed by a care group on behalf of a DEET/CES employee.

The employee had taken the wrong kind of dive off a pier into Murray River shallows and ended up a paraplegic, also with reduced upper mobility. A large part of her job had been taking forms from DEET applicants and entering the details into a computer system.

My job became the creation of a Microsoft Word template that mimic’d the form, with specially identified fields for data. Off-the-shelf software could be used to drive a scanner, read a paper form, and distribute data from the form onto the template. I then munged some macros that would subsequently take the data and enter it into the mighty DEET/CES computer system.

Now, here I am, BSc, IT Consultant, etc, in my current project, making a computer interface that mimics a superannuation form.

I’m not sure what to make of this.

Themes
From Shyness:

I try to have one resolution a year. Last year’s was to watch more movies, which I did, though it took time. This year’s resolution is to climb back on a horse that I’ve not looked after for quite some time. This year I will…

Be A Writer.

From Pah[1]:

Why am I writing this? Because I want to be a writer.

From Pah[2]:

I am, I believe, a writer.

Now here is this last, phantom year of the Twentieth Century, almost over. (I have written about a hundred pages for this weblog.)

Shyamalan (2)

This is the second two of a two part review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, in two parts. Make sure to read part one first.

U
A few years ago, it was impossible to make a successful film starring a Batman, Superman, or Spiderman. Now we suddenly wake up with The Matrix, Mystery Men, X-Men… and U. Notably, I think, three of these films are wholly devoted origin stories, uninterested in trying to cram in the facts while telling a seperate story; the X-Men weren’t so fortunate in their outing.

In Shayalman we finally have someone with a solid understanding both of comics and how they have often been rendered to the world — often how it has been rendered on screen.

U is a love letter to superhero comics. This is signalled with the opening card of statistics, but comes in full force with the introduction of Samuel L Jackson’s character — owner of a speciality superhero comics gallery — when he all but quotes Scott McCloud’s seminal Understanding Comics.

So, to make a jaded world love the superhero too.

Hollywood dictates that we must have an origin. Shayalman shows us not just how this superhero ticks, but how superheroes tick. There are two ways to go about this. One is confident and just does its stuff. The other keeps saying “this isn’t a movie” and “this is what a real person would do”. Shayalman takes the former path, sometimes pointing out the mechanics, sometimes not — but never stooping to handwaving external to comic logic.

(I pity the director of Batman: Year One.)

The role of the hero in the world is symbol. He or she is not god, they may not watch every sparrow fall. Like Bruce Willis’s security guard character, they work best by putting in an appearance in the world, deterring people from doing wrong. When they do step into action, it is ambivalently: the superhero action of this film references Scream more than the spandex ballet of previous years.

After the fumble of Sixth Sense, Shayalman redeems his horror credibility. Now with aplomb he takes the narrative strength from Wes Craven’s Final Nightmare and improves on it. U is a catalogue of real world horrors. The theme of this film is finding one’s place, making sense, amongst the horrors.

U2: pointers
It is interesting to contrast U with The Matrix, the film furthest from what we traditionally expect of superheroes at the cinema.

Race is an issue. (But leave that for now.)

Of especial note is class.

TM is a contemporary geek fantasy, stylish, yet emotionally flat, libertarian and egalitarian.

In U we have Security Man vs Maitenance Man. But ultimately it is not the fellow worker who is the biggest threat.

In U, the hero must finish by handing the villain over to the police, then the lunatic asylum.

In TM, the hero can tear down the world, a la Fight Club.

U3: pointer
Nary a mention of the police.

Shyamalan (I)

This is a review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, in two parts. The first part gets Shyamalan’s previous film, The Sixth Sense, out of the way.

The Sixth Sense
This is one of the crop of films that Episode I gave us. Against the arguments raging around American Beauty, this is the film that validates auteur theory. Everyone likes this film.

I don’t like this film.

I don’t hate this film, unless I’m backed into a corner by one of its lovers.

SS is a quiet film, told with a unity of vision that is often lacking in Hollywood. Shyamalan demonstrates his remarkable skill with script, camera, and people. This is why I went to see U.

But SS is a genre failure. It is situated in the genre of horror short story. It’s best vehicle for realisation would have been a Twilight Zone episode. The movie simply runs too long on a premise that can’t make the distance. Had it been a TZ ep I wouldn’t have been given the time to work out the twist ending well in advance.

People rave about that ending, say they will need to see the film again, but I’ve yet to see the result of such a rewatching. I think it would be instructive, as the film came across as artificial once I was in on the game. Nothing is added with the secret. It is a simple parlour trick.

In this trick, the greatest misdirection comes from the worthiness of the film. See Bruce Willis choose the film for its script and transcend the action genre; yet this is something he has done on numerous earlier occasions. See the stunning performance of Haley Joel Osment, especially in contrast to young Anakin; yet Haley’s performance is wooden, with little range — the stunning comes from his performance being embedded in the biggest misdirection of all.

Before Magnolia, this is the film that begged you to cry. The emotional intensity is the viewer’s emotional intensity, as simple triggers are fired. The Angst. The Shmaltz.

Unbreakable
U got good reviews. In fact, it’s reviews were fairly similar to SS’s. Breathless. Hollow — they couldn’t tell too much, they said knowingly, without giving away the twists.

One of the greatest sins of our contemporary culture — given to us by The Crying Game, entrenched by Babylon 5, confirmed by SS — is the sin of the SPOILER.

I don’t like the isolation and privilege that this sin creates. I want to talk about stuff. I want to be able to watch a film more than once.

U got good reviews. But they all carried the qualifier: not as good as SS. Not as shocking a sting. Not as much emotional intensity.

So, the above.

Treaty

Mark Leibler:

I hope instead for an Australia that is at peace with its history because Australians have a deep enough understanding of the experiences of everyone who triumphed and everyone who suffered in the making of that history.

One nation … because we conquered them.

 

 

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • mortality rates are at least two and a half times those of the total population;
  • life expectancy is some 15 to 17 years less than for the whole population;
  • infant and prenatal mortality rates are approximately three time the national rates;
  • death rates associated with diseases of the circulatory system are two and a half times higher than for the total Australian population;
  • admissions to hospitals are up to three times more frequent than for other Australians, and the incidence of chronic disability is much greater;
  • at least 10 per cent suffer from diabetes; and the incidence of eye disease, especially in hot, dry areas, is much higher than for other Australians;
  • the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment was 18 times that of non-Aboriginals.

Objects in the mirror are more precious than they appear

Mitsu Hadeishi:

Susan said today that she wished there were more ways for people to move from room to room than doorways and stairways. I asked her what she would like instead. She said that she wished that houses would be like those tent cities that we all made as children out of blankets and furniture. She’s always dreamt of houses which you could move around in like that, with all sorts of twisty crazy secret passageways and openings, which would give you that experience.

Big Numbers

Two days ago, I went on a walk.

There might have been up to 300,000 people. Or 200,000. Or even 100,000. It doesn’t matter.

I could have structured the preceeding paragraph as a series of rhetorical questions. Or asked the questions in earnest. But it doesn’t matter. The numbers don’t matter.

Simply, it was a walk. Some have called it a parade or a march. But it was definitely a walk. And it was a perfect day for walking. Lots of people turned out.

Every now and then I would look back, or bob my head up and look forward, out of the shopping mall of people surrounding me. Mostly I would walk upstream steadily, only slightly faster than the average of the coherent stream I was part of.

I evesdropped on those around me. They talked of this and that. Particles of politics, mainly. Which is to be expected. We were walking because we there was one thing that we all agreed on. Which was: the Aboriginal (and Torres Strait Islander) peoples of Australia should be treated better.

In what way they should be treated better, and how, I am certain, no one agreed upon. When I say I’m certain, I mean that. Like I said, I evesdropped. Push two of those particles together and you’d have poison, or a loud explosion.

Some people called it a parade and brought socialist banners and megaphones and cried for little revolutions. Some cried for Palestine. Some people called it a march and asked for the good old days.

People had their say, people even argued, but they did not fight. People smiled and walked.

It was beautiful.

The media refrained from taking part, like I tried to explain in the second paragraph.

At the end of the walk I signed some petitions. Most were bland but nice. Some were controversial. I hope the one against mandatory sentencing contributes to said laws being removed. I hope the one asking for a treaty stirs fruitful discussion.

In 1967, a referendum was held, seeking to bring the Aboriginals (and Torres Strait Islanders) under our Rule of Law. This would remove some discrimination against them and offer some protections. The referendum was passed in the affirmative with 90.77% of the vote. It was an unprecedented agreement and remains unsurpassed.

Such things, the referendum and the walk, are, not always, I think, as I expect, about politics. Sometimes, they are about civics.

test

It’s the first day of the last month of The Year 2000. Almost over. The third of summer, that is its ending, begins. Time for some spring cleaning.

“One down…”

A four year story is ending. Our house. From 1997 to these last days. Like dot coms it’s been kind of fading for a while now. We’re all — or at least four out of five — moving on to other stories. The first said her real goodbye today, though of course she’ll still be around for a long while. Cath has moved out with Gaz. At the end of this month I’ll be moving out with Ainsley.

Not all the players have been here for four years. Two early players, a hero and a villain, have moved on, one disappeared and one almost. And the larger guest cast has grown but barely lost any numbers.

This story has strong roots in 1995, and it’s faintest sprout can be found in 1989.

It has been — it is — a good and rare story.

Time to clean it all away. Drinking and drugs and downloads. Goodbye to the bottle collection, lone sweating aesthete sentinel over so many conversations.

This is our world. We go into it and we shall see one another again.

Today’s's apostrophe

Future, i
There are those crunchy moments from futures lost, enlivening dull moments.

This isn’t irony. This is … whatever you have when you pick up some Japanese packaging left on a train seat, because of the colors and the alien text and icons. Billy Gibson would approve.

There’s Ananova, the newsreader facsimile, who, haltingly, in encoded tones, betrays the vision behind her and the technology used to realise her.

Canadian startup antarcti.ca. Building visual maps of cyberspace, superimposed on the continent of Antarctica, contextually technologically advanced and graphically rendered editions of Yahoo, which at their lowest level, gotten at with a gamer’s crosshairs, fold via ActiveX and JScript origami into a 3D realisation from a decade past.

Then new brand M>Train at the station, with piped music from a test tube, interspersed with the Big Brother stylings of pre-recorded loudspeaker announcements endorsing conformist behaviour while we all snap through the automated barriers.

And, of course, always, Robo Toilets.

Future, ii
These days we’ve identified with the future with a startling regularity. No more waiting for Millenniums. Science Fiction and increasingly excited sects and gurus have given us many millenniums. Why wait a thousand years?

I missed 1984 and all the other, lesser known, glorious dates. I was too young. When I read of them now I just sort of smile or ignore the part of my brain that reads ideas as prediction.

But now I have a teenagerhood full of futures to enjoy. This year, The Year 2000. 2001. 2005. 2006. 2010. 2015. 2019. 2020. 2061. I’m sure there’s more that’ve slipped my mind. Today I realised that when I’m fifty it will be the year 2027. Now that sounds like the future to me.

Future, iii
The future is here today, in this era more than any other. All time has collapsed.

Leaving me…

With the smell of beer and sex, the smell of yeast at South Yarra station… the smell of summer, sunscreen on my lover… the smell of childhood fitness, the chlorine strong in the air as I get into an elevator with a person…

I never used to have a sense of smell. It’s something I acquired when I grew up. Yet here are all these associated memories.

Recently I’ve been getting flashes that we really are living in the future. All this stuff, this is future stuff. And this is what it’s like.

I don’t know what this means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS

the new Yugoslavian president who agreed and ratified to respect human rights … He expressed Yugoslavia’s desire to be part of Europe again – after so many years of isolation. The press doesn’t talk much about this event