29 September 2008

Feel inclined to blow my mind, Get hung up feed the ducks with a bun, They all come out to groove about, Be nice have fun in the sun...

I've decided I'm not a big fan of symmetry. Symmetry is a purely human conceit; it doesn't exist in nature. I'm of the mind that if aliens were to start abducting us and replacing us with eeevil cloned copies, then they'd cut the typical manufacturing corners and just make one half of a human mold and flip it, filing down the seam where the two halves joined. It must be way expensive to make eeevil human clone drones so natch they're gonna try and save some alien bucks. But this is why we need to be extra vigilant of our loved ones and colleagues. Look closely at everyone around you and make special efforts to be as asymmetrical as possible. Join the movement, brothers and sisters! Celebrate your inconsistencies and free us from this intergalactic space scourge from beyond the stars and beyond!

I had the most wonderful weekend with the lovely Salette. The weather was ridiculously (suspiciously) good; more sun in two days than in the whole of the summer just gone, or so it feels. On Friday we went to see John Pilger present his 2003 film on the war in Afghanistan, which replenished my reserves of righteous indignation against all old rich white guys in US politics...gggrrr! On Saturday we slept in and went to Broadway Market in the afternoon. That night we went to a wicked Decadence party at Dr Phil's Lurve Surgery to celebrate his 10th anniversary in London and the official granting of his 'Dr' title. It was a costume party, the twin themes being Decadence (for the clever people), and Doctors and Nurses (for the conceptually retarded). I wore my brand new Paul Smith pajamas and leather slippers (cos there's nothing more decadent than wearing your jammies ALL day) and Salette wore a pretty party dress (phwoar!) and made this necklace out of playing cards with pictures of famous dancers on them (a deck-o-dance...get it? HAH! Smart and beautiful...siiiiigh). She looked incredible! It was the first time anyone had met her and she totally dazzled the room. All the guys were coming up and high-fiving me and going "Doode!" and all the girls were like, "Oh my god, she's GORgeous! What's she doing with you?" But I didn't even notice any of them, it was like there was no one else at the party, all I saw was her. Someone took a really lovely photo of us so if you're a Facebook junkie check out the two tagged photos of me to prove that she's not imaginary...

We're spending every weekend together now, and meeting up twice a week and phoning every other night. It's getting harder and harder to be apart from her, but when we're together it just keeps getting better and better. She's like Cupid's defibrillator, shocking my sere heart back to life and now it's swelling and racing and soaring and if I'm not careful it'll burst and cover everyone in gooey love-sick heart jizz. CLEAR! I can't even remember what I used to do when I didn't know her...I can't even remember my own name half the time.

The Paris/Brussels trip is all booked and I'm SO excited. Ordinarily the prospect of spending an entire week with someone would give me ulcers, but for some strange reason I'm looking forward to it. A whole week, eeeppp! We're going on the train and because of my last-minute inclusion I wasn't able to book seats next to Salette. But fear not, this gives me an opportunity to take our relationship to the next level by wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses and following her every move from behind a strategically-placed newspaper. Pretty much like I've been doing since we met. Either that or I could just swap with whomever is actually sitting next to her. But that just seems like the easy way out...

In the interests of cross-cultural exchange (no, it's not a euphemism for sex, you sad pervies), I'm taking her to see Aussie singer-songwriter-kookster Gotye this week at Bush Hall. I finally managed to snag tickets to Dylan Moran in November, which promises to be brilliant, although I suspect they're crap seats.

I feel very lucky to be at this point in my life, having what I have, feeling what I feel. At the risk of sounding maudlin, it seems like I've emerged from a wilderness of sorts in which I was lost for a number of years. But don't worry about a slide into complacency...I'll always remember what I went through to get here. King Solomon once had a jeweller make him a ring with an inscription that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. It said: "This too shall pass." I find that a bit of a downer so I prefer this kick-arse one from Dr Seuss: "I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind...Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see...Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

17 September 2008

I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise...I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes...

I need a favour from one of youse. I'm trying to track down a copy of a CD from 1998, a tribute album by a bunch of Aussie artists called "To Hal and Bacharach". It's almost impossible to find these days, specially over here, but if any of you can track down a new or second hand copy I'd be muchas grateful. Help a brother out...

I've got a new job! Woop, woop (dat's da sound of da Police). It's at a specialist usability firm, smallish but with good growth throughout their short lifespan, and a really good vibe. I'd seen some of their work previously and was heaps impressed and they completely won me over with their friendliness, honesty and genuine give-a-crap-about-people-ness. I went for a couple of interviews and my affection for and confidence in them just grew and grew. They offered me the job and I took a couple of days to think about it but my mind was pretty much already made up. But then the CEO rang me to tell me how taken with me they were and how great everyone thought I was and they were really excited by the idea of me maybe coming to work for them, and that just sealed the deal. It really put things into perspective and provided the perfect contrast between a company which genuinely cares about its people and its work and its clients, and a company which measures your worth in terms of how much money they can wring out of you before you cark it. How many CEOs take the time to call you personally and kiss your arse? I feel happy and hopeful and excited about the move, which is a good sign particularly in this atmosphere of Credit Crunch doom and gloom, where 5,000 people can lose their jobs in a single morning. I feel good about the decision I've made for better or worse, and feel this could be the change I needed. My last day with the Company is 10 October and I have a week off before I start the new gig. I might even manage to squeeze in a lightning visit to Oz in between. Stay posted.

Then again, the change in mood (thanks, Kids in the Kitchen!) could be attributed to another unexpected source...

Salette and I spent the most wonderful weekend together...literally the entire weekend. We met for brekkie on Saturday and didn't part company until I went home at midnight Sunday. Normally I start to get a bit antsy if I spend 7 or 8 hours with other people and need some quiet time in my isolation tank. But when I'm with her, time ceases to have any meaning and suddenly two days have passed and I feel like it's gone way too fast.

After breakfast she took me to an incredible audio performance piece at the Royal Opera House. It was set up downstairs in a darkened performance hall. It consisted of dozens of tripods of varying heights upon which were mounted aluminium bars with speakers lashed to the ends connected to a simple circuit board. The speakers were of many different sizes and had a red LED mounted on the top. The artists were two guys in dark wool suits who entered the space and activated one of the towers so that it emitted a single continuous electronic tone. They adjusted the tone with a small screwdriver until it reached a certain pitch, which, while harmonious, became quite discordant and unpleasant after a while. They then went about activating all of the other towers one by one, adjusting the pitch of each to correspond to the height of the tripod: shorter ones had deep pitch, average ones mid-range, and tall ones high pitch. As more and more tones were activated, the sound slowly started to build into a complex cacophony, not quite noise but not quite music, and something quite remarkable happened: even though they were all effectively emitting the same continuous tone, the combination of different pitches and your physical location to the towers meant that the sound seemed to be changing, lilting upward and downward through the register, oscillating and flowing, like it was comprised of many different voices all singing the same song but frozen in a moment of time.

The towers were hooked up to a control boxes in groups of three and, once all were activated, the boxes were turned on which made the arms rotate at different speeds which took the experience to a whole new level. The middle of the floor was roped off so you could get close to the piece and move around it which meant it sounded completely different depending on where you were standing. It's hard to describe what it was like - I thought it was like an alien mating call, Salette thought it was the muzak they play in Heaven's waiting room - but there was a real physical presence to the sound. It had depth and shape and texture and you had the sensation of being enveloped by it as the lower tones set off a pleasing fremitus in your chest and the higher tones danced about your ears. Then suddenly the lights went out and we were submerged in an ocean of darkness and sound and all you could see were dozens of red LEDs spinning and dancing among this incredible sound...like twin souls chasing each other through an infinity of frozen music.

After 40 minutes or so they started shutting down, first the rotation, and then the sound, one tower at a time. To my surprise, I felt a tinge of sadness as each one went silent; it was as if having created something beautiful, they were now destroying it...like killing a panda. As they inexorably made their way through each tower there remained only one, the first one, and I found myself dreading the return to silence. In my head I was begging them to leave it on just a little longer. But finally it too went silent and we stood for a few minutes in this dim dark space which, although full of people and equipment, suddenly felt stark and empty. It was truly an amazing experience and my description can't do it justice, but it is something I will never forget.

That night we went bowling at All Star Lanes, just to bring some white trash balance to the day's high-brow arty-farty activities. I won by 3 points (129 to 126) but as Salette used to be in a bowling league many years ago I can't help feeling a certain amount of graciousness was in play. On Sunday the weather was absolutely gorgeous and sunny and Salette chose to forgo her ticket to a 9-hour long Robert LaPage play (which she'd been dying to see for ages) to spend the day with me. Aaawww! We had brunch at Smiths of Smithfield and made fun of the French waiter cos he didn't know shit about waffles even though he pretended to (as if the French know ANYTHING about cooking...oy!) Then we headed over to Hampstead Heath to walk off the delicious brunchy goodness. The weather was suspiciously good for Autumn, and it was so lovely to just wander about and get lost amongst the hills and the trees and the ponds, talking and holding hands and making out and goofing off. Suffice it to say, I'm falling for this girl in a big way. I never thought I could feel this way about anyone ever again...partly because I didn't think I'd ever find anyone so amazing, partly because I never believed someone so amazing would be interested in me, but mainly because I thought I was incapable of feeling anything any more. I'm like a teenager with a crush...it's cheesy and pathetic and brilliant! Each time we're together she just gets more and more amazing, and I'm so caught up in how good she makes me feel that I forget to wait for the other shoe to drop. When I'm with her, time and the world simply disappear and there's just her and how she makes me feel and the way she looks at me that makes my stomach go all funny.

I'm in trouble, here...

8 September 2008

Gin in teacups, And leaves on the lawn...Violence at bus stops, And the pale thin girl with eyes forlorn...

Ok, it seems my banana analogy was a little too thinly-veiled for some of you slack-jawed double-Y chromies to interpret. The thing I was talking about losing and then getting back again was love. The delicious banana I found is called Salette and she's not really a banana...she's a pretty bloody super girly. Got it? Do I need to draw you a picture?

Our Lady of Salette is originally from San Francisco (yes, another American...but I've kinda got a taste for them now) who's been living over here for 10 years. She's amazing: cute, pretty, smart, tall, blonde, quirky, captivating, and a bitching pasher. She's got a bit of that Elaine Benice thing going on which totally melts my butter. Also, she's older than me but don't make the mistake of calling her a Cougar...it's not a compliment, apparently. She works for an arts council who fund art projects and promote and support all forms of contemporary art. She's wikkid passionate about her work and knows heaps of cutting edge arty farties. The other night we did a tour of some East End (which is the new West End) galleries on Vyner Street which all held an open night so it was quite a mixed bag. The ratio between the cost of the booze and the calibre of the art is inversely proportionate: the richest galleries gave it away free but the art was garbage (in some cases literally). Most of it was pretty lame post-modern stuff but at one gallery there was this kiwi dude who painted awesome character portraits on old fridge doors and car bonnets and oil cans. I really loved his stuff, it typified that lowbrow asthetic that totally rocks my boat. Pity the cheapest piece was £1800; I don't know art, but I know what I can't afford. All these galleries are right on my doorstep, scattered throughout the lanes and alleys off Mare Street in between these amazing grotty bars and cafes and performance spaces, and I had no idea they were there. A whole new world is opening up to me and I'm really loving the East End, all thanks to this willowy blonde amazon who came out of nowhere and spiked my heart's drink with her Rohypnol of lurve. Get this: last Friday night she took me to see Batman at the IMAX...can you spell 'Dream Girl'?

On the weekend we met at the Hackney flower market which I've never been to (my deflowering, as it were) and is only open on Sundays. It's kind of like going to the fruit markets except there's twice as many spruikers and they're all screaming at you to "check out me gladies...best gladies in London...ON-ly a fi-VER!" (for some reason everything costs a fiver). Thankfully it was overcast so there weren't as many people as there normally would be. We wandered about there for a while, soaking up the atmos and making fun of the locals, before succumbing to our growling stomachs and venturing over to this cafe/bar called Bistrotheque for brunch (the same place we went to for the hideous cabaret night on our third date...brunch was date number eight). The place comes pretty highly recommended and I have to admit it more than lived up to the hype. They blitzed the eggs benedict litmus test (eggs runny in the middle, ham lightly grilled, home-made hollandaise, sprinkling of chives) and may even have toppled The Yellow House for the brunch crown. They have a grand piano which this hip young dude plays lovely classical arrangements of contemporary songs, adding a really classy edge to the gustation. Half of the fun is trying to guess what you're hearing first, and then recoiling in shame when you realise it's "If Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart. Salette mentioned she really likes "Love Will Tear Us Apart" so when she went to the loo I asked the guy if he would play it when she came out, and he totally did...the timing was perfect! But then she wouldn't believe me when I told her I requested it. Jerk! Who said romance wasn't dead?

We spent the rest of the day wandering around Brick Lane (which is fast-becoming my favourite part of London) and Victoria Park walking off our breakfast, talking, holding hands, letting the time get away from us and watching the world slip by. Before I knew it, it was 6pm and I had less than an hour to get to Victoria for Dr Phil's surprise PhD dinner. Even though he'd finished his thesis, he's not officially a doctor until the examiner signs off on it. So today was the sign off day and on Sunday night Clara arranged for a bunch of us to meet at a Thai restaurant and surprise him. I only just made it as I had spent 20 minutes walking around the block trying to find the place only to realise that I'd been standing right in front of it about 4 times. But everything worked out fine in the end. I had a cocktail called Lava Under the Sea and ordered the red bbq duck curry and it came served in half a pineapple which was even more awesome than it sounds.

I've got a huge couple of months coming up culture wise: The Unholy Alliance (Slayer, Trivium and Mastodon), Regurgitator, Motorhead, Russian Circles, Dylan Moran. I'm really torn about seeing Slipknot cos they're kinda gay but Machine Head is supporting so METAL DILEMMA! And now I have a pretty bloody super girly to take along...although I'm not sure she's a Slayer kind of gal. Might have to be hanging on like a solo for that one.

I had a job interview with a specialist usability firm the other day, which went well. They've asked me back for a follow up on Tuesday. I'm not sure they can afford me but it feels good to be disloyal to the Company. Bunch of heartless soulless feckers. It's not ALL about the money, you know.

3 September 2008

You might laugh you might frown...Walkin' round London town...Sun is in the sky oh why oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

B'jour, mon amis!

I've decided that "b'jour" is French for "g'day" so feel free to start using it, but make sure to cite your source correctly.

Much to my delight, this past weekend saw the opening of the Cans Festival Part 2. Staged in the same disused railway tunnel as the previous festival, this time around instead of stencil artists the focus was on more traditional graffiti art. And as per last time, the calibre of the art was astounding. There's some supremely talented people running around out there, and when they're not smoking blunts and stabbing up yoofs they're creating some truly impressive art.

Got my performance review which was disappointing but hardly surprising. The culture of this place is such that you're only measured on your most recent project and then ranked against your peers on a bell curve type dealio like in school. Therefore, as in school, the highest performers are pulled down and the lowest performers are pulled up and everyone else is averaged out into a vast smear of mediocrity. So despite working my arse off to try and impress everyone and set myself up for promotion next year, I'm ranked right in the middle of the grey wasteland known as "consistent with", which means that even if I pull off an absolute blinder of a year (highly unlikely given my level of motivation) it's still almost impossible to make the grade for promotion. It's typical of the dog-eat-cat nature of this business and this organisation and one of the main reasons why I've decided to get out. I sent some feelers out last week and I've got an interview with a specialist usability consultancy later today, so fingers crossed. The woman I'm speaking to graduated from Canberra Uni and worked in the public service...two degrees of separation strikes again! I'm hoping that by getting back into a small team environment and focusing solely on the work that I love doing my soul and my faith in mankind will be replenished.

Add another double entendre town name to the list, as Dr Phil and I went biking this past weekend in Titley. I got my first puncture coming down a wicked steep downhill run over chalk stones and log steps, which was a kind of right of passage I suppose. All I know is I haven't had to fix a tyre since I was about 12 and doing it in the middle of the forest is a lot more frustrating than you think. I was a bit disappointed with the layout of the ride as there was far too much road riding to start with and it ended on a huge mutha fuka of a hill climb. Plus, Dr Phil has been hitting the donuts a bit too heavily lately so his fitness was way down and we were forced to stop off at a pub halfway through so he could visit the ladies toilets to change his tampon and have a cry. We were there so long that the guy who follows behind and takes down the route markers caught up to us and it was a Hansel and Gretel-esque race for the finish from that point on. Instead of energy bars they gave us these free sachets of tropical flavoured protein gel which I've not tried before but I hear are pretty good for a quick energy boost. Unfortunately, they had the precise texture and sensation of swallowing a gobful of some Hawaiian guy's cum...or so I imagine. Ladies, back me up! So after we'd snowballed that stuff back and forth for a while we continued on our way and eventually overtook a whole gaggle of stragglers, which I'm sure did wonders for Dr Phil's flagging sweaty gasping sense of self-esteem.

Ok, it's time for a grandpa moment: young people take a lot for granted, they think everything's infinite and that life can only ever improve. But as you get older you realise that time is precious because nothing lasts forever and anything you have can be lost. Take bananas, for example. Bananas are finite. I've eaten a lot of bananas in my time but I'm pushing 40 and, as a conservative estimate, I reckon I've only got a good 9000 or so bananas left in me. That kind of puts things in perspective, and makes it all the more annoying when I get a bad banana. Young people, they get a bad banana they just throw it away and reach for another one. But I don't have that luxury. I have to make every banana count, savour it, make it last, wring every last molecule of potassium-drenched goodness out of that sucker. And if there's the occasional brown mushy bit, well that's all part of the banana experience so I'm just gonna enjoy that as well. It's a cliche, I know, that you can't fully appreciate something until you've lost it, but I would go further and say that you can't fully appreciate something until you've lost it and then got it back again...

I've found a lovely delicious banana...her name is Salette.