in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Monday, June 25, 2007

Putting the fun back in fundamentalist (despite his injury…)

It was one of those stories you e-mail to everybody. The one about Mr Blair. No, not the soon-to-be-ex British PM, the other Blair, the one from Brisbane. The masturbator. But not just any old masturbator – this isn’t your typical Brisbane wiggin technician. This guy was a real artist. An extremist. A person who’s really willing to go the whole hog, and hang the consequences. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, you obviously didn’t read the article, so here’s a very basic re-cap.
Mr Blair arrived at his (female) friend’s house, smoked off a few rocks, then felt the rise of the horn (as many a meth freak has). Not one to be put off, he apparently informed Kylie (the ‘friend’) that he was just going to have a shower. Cut to thirty minutes later, and the guy’s still pounding his parson – first in the shower, then rolling around on the bed, then back to the shower again. All over the house, as out of control as unmanned garden hose. According to the article, she asked, then begged, then pleaded for him to stop, telling him she had to bathe her kid. But he just kept right on going, hammer and tongs. The details are a little hazy at this point, but apparently Kylie then threatened him. And when that didn’t work? Well, she stabbed him in the shoulder with a kitchen knife. Twice. And what did he do? He put on a pair of shorts, went out to the garage… and kept on wanking, which he was still doing half an hour later, when the cops arrived.

"Despite his injury,” the prosecutor said, “it seems Mr Blair continued to masturbate while in the garage."

Of course, ‘in reality’ this sorry little tale says more about the terrible effects of ice on human relationships than anything else, but…I couldn’t help but feeling, well, admiration for Mr Blair. I mean, it really puts the fun back in fundamentalist, don’t you think? Like James Brown, Stanley Kubrick or Moby Dick’s Ahab, there’s something wonderful about a true extremist, somebody who ‘really means it’. A person who’s really willing to go the whole nine yards, no matter what reality says or what the consequences might be. I’m not saying you should go around to your mate’s house and beat off on their rugs or in their rumpus room, but just think. Think of everything in your life that’s flying at half mast – the limp things, the lame things you do. Reflect on them all, then give yourself a tenth of the gift Mr Blair gave himself, amply. We’ve all got a little bit of the fundamentalist inside us somewhere. Unleash your inner extremist – on your guitar, on your drum machine, on your wok. Let him loose on your floppy, flabby bits. It needn’t be hard, it can be fun. Have a good stab at it, go on… indulge yourself. You know you want to.

© Peter Chambers 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cindy’s tipping point (pumpkin hour)

Fairy tales are deadly serious things, and not just ‘cos the brothers were Grimm. There’s messages inside, if you’ve got the bottle to uncork them. Take Cinderella for example. You know the classic readings – she’s oppressed, her two-step sisters are ‘wickid’, she had ‘lil feet. The lessons? People who wear glass slippers shouldn’t mount thrones? A little bit of magic wand goes a long, long way? Princes hold their balls late at night? Okay, these are all legit, but the sticking point for me was always the tipping point for Cinderella – Pumpkin Hour.

Pumpkin Hour isn’t just about when the Fairy Godmother’s ‘magic dust’ starts to wear off, although that’s a sign that it’s time to be scootin’ before boots get pointy and curl, where the ‘streets have no shame’ and the girls grow big warts, scaly dicks and sharp teeth. You gots to know, there’s an appropriate time to get the hell out of there. A friend of mine calls it ‘chasing the dawn’ – for him, getting to bed while the daylight is still deniable means the difference between a neat night out and an outbreak of the very, very, very, wrong indeed. I have it on good authority that ‘Pumpkin Hour’ at Revolver of a weekend is 11am – but that might say more about those shunned nuns and their habits than any sensible depravity. Club der Visionaire in Berlin gets pumping at around 4pm ‘the next day’ (whenever that was when it’s all the whole weekend is all the same baggy monster). Blech. Another friend of mine famously seems to go too early – everyone comments on it.

‘Where’s X?’
‘He just left.’
‘Already?’ Chorus the fools.
‘Yup - he said to say bye.’

Cut to 4pm the next day, just as the horrid flashes of memory begin to assault your mind, slowly crawling out of the fading fug of last night. ‘Where did I leave my…? Not my … oh (horrid flash)… dear god, not that? Dear God…(opens wallet, sighs)… and the beer monkey stole my money again, on top of everything.’

You shower, but the dirt won’t come off. Poverty, shame, regret… then you remember X. His two o’clock glass of water. The way he wound everything down, before everybody wound up getting wounded. The polite good-byes, the discreet slipping away into a 3am taxi… this is a man who truly understands the tipping point that is Pumpkin Hour. How to get away before there’s any mention of glass slippers or the joining of those words, those sordid words... ‘pump kin’. Look at yourself in the Sunday mirror, and see the Jack-a-Lantern that you made yourself when you did just that (you did, you actually did), and remember Cinders. Remember the tipping point, just before it all got sour and spillt (and that ain’t milk, even though there’s no use crying over it). Before the cost you count becomes the sad measure of everything that could have been otherwise. Heed the tipping point and learn your very own Pumpkin Hour, or live (and live with) the folly.

© Peter Chambers 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Golden Age of Wi-Fi (Listen like Thieves in the Night of the Long Files)

Once upon a time, whole families would gather around the wireless, rapt in radio plays and hanging on every word – Goon Show in dumb show: awestruck, pipestoked and slippered silence.
Not long after that, recorded music became affordable. By the seventies it was possible to listen to an entire symphony of your choice without having to tune in at an appointed time, without even getting up off your poof more than three times to change sides. These days we can call upon any of those ‘good ol' days’ at will, complete with snap, crackle and pop captured as perfectly as flies in amber.We can download a record collection that would have taken an entire family a decade to amass, and we can do it in a matter of hours and listen to any parts of it in any order, at any time, in any place. A revolution by any other name, surely. But what are we losing?

Apple calls their proprietary compression system ‘Apple Lossless.’ It’s the ultimate promise of something for nothing (or nothing from something). Even mp3 sounds pretty good now, good enough to allay the fears of the majority of music lovers and even fool some DJs – so what if you lose those frequencies, they’re inaudible, right? Maybe they are. But what we have lost, what is more significant, is an entire way of listening. Is it such a bad thing?

I’ve just spent the past week at my dear lady’s house, minding all four walls from robbers and silence while the mamas and papas get all B&B in the rurals of Taswegia. Brother younger meanwhile was most definitely home, and I’ve been watching him listen. Ryland, the son of an accomplished musician (and no bastard trumpeter in his own right) has almost never heard the end of any of his tracks in his downloaded music collection. In the midst of waiting for something to happen – a meal, a phone call, a knock at the door – he skips. Not with a rope, but with a minute of each track, enough to get the intro, the hook, the chorus, then onto the next one. I tried to tell him that the best bit at the end of Van Halen’s Jump was where Eddie has a spack attack near the end of the nine minute skat solo. I was justly disbelieved. But the point stands – the days of sitting down and listening to a complete piece of recorded music from start to finish or even (shock, horror) a whole album by an ensemble artist are over, rover.

It’s a sign of the times – bye bye bitdepth, hello bandwidth. Like all our communications, we’ve forgeone quality for quantity, bit by bit. More and more communication that says less and less.

‘Are you there? What? I’m on the train... You’re breaking up... I can’t hear you... I’m losing you...’

How perfect that our mobiles can now play AV files. We’re all Jazzy Jeff Mills and the Fresh Prince of Dexter Flex now. No sooner were the theoretical implications of sampladelic flava savoured than they’ve been downloaded and incorporated in to the collected habits of millions of listeners. Hell, I do it too. In an audible sense, mp3 is about cutting out the stuff you don’t need. But the way it allows you to control music is the same in another sense – you piff the riff that leaves you cold, you skip the dud track, you delete the version with the guest rap that doesn’t tickle your fancy. Same goes for friends, family and love, so I’ve heard. You live and listen like that asshole testing their ring-tones on the choo-choo train.

And believe it or not, that makes you a DJ.

© Peter Chambers 2006

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It’s shit, don’cha reckon? Talking shit (and saying shit all)

Australians, so the stereotype goes, don’t beat around the bush (unshaved or otherwise). We call a splade a splade. We call a yobbo a mate. And we call an arselicking liar a ‘Prime Minister’. The point is, I guess, that we’re supposed to be a nation of ‘straight talkers’ who ‘tell it like it is’, who ‘cut the crap’. Wrong. We don’t cut the crap. We dribble it. Like warm honey off a nozzle. Out of our slack-jawed, open mouths. Travellers, you might get Bali belly in Kuta or Montezuma’s revenge in Guadalupe, but if you really wanted to cope a face full of verbal diarrhea, where the bloody hell were you?

People who suffer from this all-too-common disease love the sound of their own (loud) voice. The world is their thunder box. They’re ‘expressing who they really are’, which actually means they’re just exteriorising their internal (interminable) monologue – inflicting their inane, trite thoughts and observations on, well, whoever’s there at 3am on the couch at the club. And boy do they talk. It’s amazing how much they talk. How much they talk, and how little they say. Not only that, but there’s all these weird inversions – they won’t bother to remember your name (and they don’t really care if you know theirs) but they’ll happily tell you about the contents of their love lives, their underpants, and even their lower intestine. At length. In detail. Ad nauseum – and without listening to your comments on their contents. Because (like any conversation-as-bowel-function) it’s an ‘out’ function. ‘Taking a load off’ yourself also means ‘dumping a load’ in someone’s lap. Sufferers couldn’t really give a rats what you say – they don’t want to listen, they don’t even want to have a conversation, they just want to talk… and talk… and talk… so they feel better – about themselves, their precious feelings, their stupid lives. Oh, and you’re supposed to feel sorry for them too, ‘cos they feel sorry for themselves. Or whatever. In other cultures, low self-esteem makes people shy and shame-filled, but here, self-loathing and boredom all-too-often results in loud, frantic boofheads (male and female) who structure their whole social lives around getting wasted enough so that they can flip the dump switch… ah, a hard-earned thirst deserves a big, long dump. From tap beer to free-flowing faeces, us Aussies have got the whole range of human experience plumbed, tapped, and refreshingly served up as a blithering, blabbering binge-and-purge fest. Australia, your name is ‘Hargh….bllerrrrrrrrchhhckhhhh… ckh……………….ckh… blrkhch.’ Try saying this as you imagine an alien ‘hatching’ and you’ll get the idea.

In large sections of the ‘youth community’ (the whole rave moment, for example) verbal diahorrea is what passes as bonding, and is the perverse basis of friendship. It’s one that says: ‘you know about my dirt, intimately, I let you have all of it last night…. (Therefore, let’s be friends.)’ Getting dirt on each other becomes the basis for life-long chumminess (so chumpy you could carve it), except for a wee problem. Basically, because everybody dumps when they’re smashed, nobody can remember the deets (Hmm. I remember a warm feeling, and something… on me… no, that can’t be right, I wouldn’t do… oh no!) And ‘stiff shit’ if tomorrow (when those drugs have worn off) (s)he goes back to the same old uncommunicative turd (s)he was, a person who’s still constantly shit-talking, but who’s now uncomfortable blurting out any of their feelings (the corn chunks in the whole horrid flow that in hindsight were the only highlight) and so now just talks about, I dunno, stuff, and shit. Yeah… nahh….

You’ve probably seen those ads on the telly recently, you know, the ones with the big worms, urging us to ‘Declare or beware!’ ‘cos ‘Quarantine Matters’? Declare your worms, boys and girls, or the beagles will have you! Well, if Customs are intent on seizing your coke at the airport, then I want to urge Quarantine to do unto verbal diahorrea as they do unto worms. ‘Cos which one is causing more damage really? I’ve seen people without verbal diahorrea on coke. I’ve known people with worms. It just makes them a bit annoying, but very happy. And skinnier. But here? Let’s face it, if there’s a ‘plague’ affecting the wellbeing of this country, it’s not caused by the drugs (they’re just the catalyst), it’s caused by the shit talkers – and they’ve got a disease that, above all, not only the sick suffer from.

© Peter Chambers 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

You do not have a Yoda complex! (You will take me to Jabba now!)

George Lucas’ crypto-racism may have finally been laid bare in ‘episode one’ with the inexcusable Jar-Jar Binks, but the helmet-haired hack had been at it for some time. It’s well known that the whole ‘Jedi’ thing was a half-arsed reading of Japanese samurai ‘jidai’ (period-piece) dramas, and Yoda? Basically, Lucas and Henson just got together and painted their imagination of a ‘Master’ green, and accentuated the ears. Work it did. Successful it was. Rich are they now. Hrrrn?

But along with the Karate Kid’s ‘Mr Miyagi’, the image of Yoda the ‘wizened and small, yet wise and powerful’ master with ‘eerie powers’ has had a nasty effect on a whole generation of nerdlingers convinced of their psychically-enhanced martial arts abilities. One guy at my school suddenly started wearing a trenchcoat and a wrist brace. There were even rumours about that he could cast fireballs (hence the wrist brace, I suppose). I kept pestering him to do one for me, but he said he ‘wasn’t allowed’ to show me. By whom?! The scariest thing of all was that he was obviously deeply sincere.

There are other examples. Take this classic monologue from the Office’s Gareth:

"You know the phrase ‘softly softly catchy monkey’? …I could catch a monkey – if I was starving I could. I’d make poison darts out of the poison off deadly frogs. One milligram of that poison can kill a monkey. Or a man. Prick yourself, you’ll be dead within a day. Or longer. Different frogs, different times."

Gareth’s whole imagination is a little different – it’s all about ‘survival of the fittest’: SAS manuals, assassination fantasies and so forth. The Yoda complex is unlike this, due to its strong ‘spiritualist’ undercurrent. People with a Yoda complex are often convinced that they can ‘see’ ‘feel’ or ‘do’ things that you and I can’t. Like the Jedi mind trick. Or casting fireballs. And don't be fooled by their small stature, you see? Fireballs, I tell you. You've been warned.

I blame Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of the Japanese martial art Aikido (you know, the ones who wear skirts and flip each other). Ueshiba was a crackpot, involved in a religious cult that considers the inventor of Esperanto (invented as a ‘universal language’) a God. After beating up a guy with a wooden sword one day as a young adult (without harming him, of course) Ueshiba confessed that he felt the following:

“Suddenly, the ground began shaking. A golden vapour wafted up from the ground and enveloped me. I was transformed into a golden image, and my body felt as light as a feather. All at once I understood the meaning of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces, loves, and protects all things.”Yeah right…

But no wonder – as a kid, he’d watched his father get the living crap kicked out of him. This was a guy who was deeply traumatised about his feelings of helplessness and insignificance. Steven Seagal is an aikido follower, which is interesting, because by all accounts he’s a nasty bully who enjoys hurting people on set. Or he did, until (Judo master) Gene LeBell put him in a choke hold on the set of ‘Under Siege’ (the one where Erica Eleniak comes out of the cake). Apparently Seagal ‘bet’ leBell couldn’t put him in a choke hold, as Seagal would be able to use his ‘ki’ (force) to prevent it having any effect. Well, leBell did, and Seagal went down like a big sack of jowls… falling unconscious and soiling himself in the process, apparently. Seagal claimed later that his ‘ki’ wasn’t flowing that day. I’ll bet.

Seagal is proof that you don’t have to be literally ‘small’ to have a Yoda complex, but it is something that affects people (mostly guys, but not always) who are worried about being small and helpless, and who feel the need to overcompensate as a result. Violent computer games, HSVs, Hummers, bodybuilding, the ability to cast fireballs – these are all ways for people who fear impotence to feel omnipotent. It's the small man's fantasy of bigness. You can see this happen every time you’re standing outside a nightclub; being stood over while you’re having your ticket checked on public transport by some fuck-knuckle (who thinks he’s in the Matrix ‘cos he’s wearing a trench-coat and Oakleys); or being ‘dressed down’ by your (Warcraft-and-anime-porn-addicted) ‘team leader’ at the call centre. What should one do when confronted by someone with a Yoda complex? My advice? Play up to it. Make like Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi, and ‘fall for Skywalker’s trick’:

Skywalker: “You will take me to Jabba now!”
Fortuna: “Aku takyu du Jabba, now.’”

Or if that gets tired… go the leBell.

© Peter Chambers 2007

The Author

[almost nothing] about me

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.