Friday, April 29, 2005

Dealing With Infinite Nature

"How am I not myself?" --Brad Stand, I Huckabees

Second time seeing I Heart Huckabees, second coincidence since last time that's happened just hours before at Chermside shopping centre involving paths crossed with old uni friends. What does it all mean?

Sitting, waiting on one of their comfortable couches, midpoint in the surrounding flow of human traffic, finding familiar objects in the patterns on the floor and watching the faces of the people passing by, I happen upon one recognisable; a girl I'd only spoken to a few times at uni named Jess. I hesitate whether to say hi as she walks on by without noticing. Just a few minutes later, there's a tap on my shoulder. A quick hello from a different classroom acquaintance, who would otherwise have slipped by unnoticed.

Upon second viewing, I think I enjoyed the movie a whole lot more, just letting it flow by, without having to rethink the issues or worry about what was coming next, which direction it was going to take. First interpretations remain, interacting and influencing each subsequent viewing. Also enjoyed listening to Jude Law's attempt at an american accent again.

As the years pass by, we often seem to box ourselves in to a specific life and way of thinking. As a child, the walls of the box stretch out close to infinity, but are quickly pulled closer and closer, shaped by experience. I Heart Huckabees to me, is about coping with existence without bounds once the false finite nature of the box is regognised by realising that everything's connected and by asking how you are not yourself.

Coincidence survives twice as well in the brain as incidence does.

Tops and mops

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Guppy Tales

Was going to go down to the creek to catch some, but the guppies you find in Kedron Brook don't have the nice pretty tails like they do in the pet store. A shot of the old fish tank in one of my collection of recordings was all it took to refill my interest in keeping a small aquarium.

With partial success in breeding goldfish, I thought the live breeding guppy might be an interesting challenge. Running in from the rain to the pet store after work, I picked out a few that I liked. For now they're stuck in my tiny fighter fish tank, until I can get a replacement lid for my larger tank. Some, I've found, have a tendency to attempt an irrational leap into the unknown.

When I was a kid, we had a really old tank in the back yard in which we kept some guppies from the creek. They seemed to breed just fine, but after I while, I remember it became a little overcrowded in there and we had to let some of them go back into the creek.

Watched some of the special features from the I Heart Huckabees dvd both before and after work today. Hollywood seems so far away, out through the looking glass. I looked to my tank, trying to feel that hypnotic calmness you're supposed to get while watching fish swim, though as they gazed out through their glass walls, I couldn't help but ponder the parallels.

The little guppy tank

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

All Natural Mind Implants

That tiny bump on the back of my neck; I tried to checked it again after The Manchurian Candidate spurred memories of a past X-Files induced, momentary mock-paranoia, that it could possibly be some kind of high-tech, government mind control implant, strategically placed just out of view from my gaze in the mirror. Probably only a small mole or something - or perhaps that's just what they want me to think.

One dollar Tuesday at the video store had us hiring an inordinate amount of dvds tonight. Just looking through my Firefox history now, I've managed to pinpoint the genesis of my decision to rent The Manchurian Candidate. An article on the front page of Wikipedia made reference to a conspiracy theory, leading me to do a search for the page on The Catcher in the Rye, a book my mind obviously identifies with conspiracies for various reasons. It seems from that site, I came across a link to The Manchurian Candidate book and a memory purposely implanted in my mind by the film companies, the memory of the film's trailer, sparked a desire to see the movie.

It's a good thing I only spent a dollar on it though, as it certainly wasn't amongst the top conspiracy themed movies I've seen. I found out afterwards that it was actually a remake of an old sixties movie that's supposed to be quite a bit better. Why are remakes so rarely as good as the original? I really should stop being so lazy though and actually read the book.

It seems the good old corporations aren't doing too badly in the mind control department anyway, even without all the flashy computer chip implants, metaphors in the film for real life media control. Every little thing you see becomes implanted in your mind as a natural function of the brain. The seeds are sown, ideas are cultivated, though in the end, it's our choice which species will survive due to our mind's own natural selection.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Ninety Years Young

While relaxing along the banks of the Mary River, about three hours north of Brisbane, I noticed a small, speckled preying mantis crawling upon my shoe and watched him as he jumped from one foot to the other. Back up in the small town of Maryborough, after quite some time away, for my great grandmother's ninetieth birthday celebration, five generations gathered for lunch at the local cricket grounds.

When I was younger, Maryborough was almost like a second home to me, going up every school holidays to visit all the relatives. Fond memories return while walking along the riverbank, of days spent fishing for perch with cousins and of various other adventures around town. I especially enjoyed visiting my great grandparents also, mainly because they would always give me lots of ice-cream and other treats.

Incidentally, after asking my Nan about a Mary Poppins billboard I saw on the drive up, I found out that Maryborough was the birthplace of P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins novels.

Nine decades of life shifts things into a new perspective, stories from long before I was ever thought of, I struggle to place within my mind's makeshift timeline, while for them, the experience is living history. I admire her for her nature, her energy and smile, and wonder what person I will be, should I ever arrive at that age.

Not far from the Mary River, about three hours from where I am now, there may still be a small, speckled praying mantis, seeking life's little adventures and stealthily hunting for food amongst the grass.

Our friend by the river

Friday, April 22, 2005

Collisions & the Weight of the Soul

"They say that we all lose twenty-one grams at the exact moment of our death, everyone. And how much fits into twenty-one grams?" --Paul Rivers, 21 Grams

Sitting at the lights in casual wait for that green arrow, about to turn off the main road towards the shopping centre, a sudden jolt startles me for a second before I realise that the woman in the four wheel drive behind me had apparently just collided with my rear bumper. The light flicks to green, no time to think as I accelerate around the corner, not really knowing what to do, not knowing how much damage had been done.

I imagined that she would follow me off the busy road into the parking lot, at least so we could exchange details, but instead she just continued driving, leaving me cursing myself for not catching the licence plate number. I expected the worst, though perhaps the impact felt a lot stronger than it really was, because when I finally found a park and hopped out to check around back, there was no apparent damage at all, not even a dent in the plastic bumper bar. It seems I was lucky this time.

Just finished watching 21 Grams, wanting to see again how Naomi Watts played against Sean Penn and perhaps discover what I found lacking in The Interpreter, which Naomi, I heard, was originally cast in. An infinitely more tragic car accident to my petty experience is the central event of this film, from which all the other stories seem to sprawl out into scattered time. Watts plays her character Cristina with such perfect emotion it's astounding.

While travelling along life's roads and highways, certain collisions are bound to happen. But it is these, often unfortunate events that make up the map we've travelled, the various turnoffs along the way to our destination. Perhaps it's this that fits into the twenty-one grams we lose when we eventually die (let's just say the information is accurate), the experiences, the moments collected, returning to the world, like a flock of birds taking flight into the twilight.

When I returned to the car park after shopping tonight, there was a tiny swallow, perched on the end of my car antenna, resting there for a minute before flying off to catch some of the insects, attracted by the illunination of the parking lot lights.

Naomi Watts

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Differing Interpretations

Tuesdays, over every other day, has firmly established itself as a refuge for the budget conscious movie goer. I can remember the days, long ago it seems now, when the Stafford cinema had just opened, riding bicycles down the road from our old high school just about every Tuesday, pocket money well spent.

I used to have a collection of movie ticket stubs that I kept in my wallet until it began to overflow and then I was forced to keep them stacked together with a rubber band at home. Sometimes I would sit and count how many there were, making an estimate of just how much I'd spent on filling my brain with moving pictures, and although always somewhat amazed at the total cost - even while on a kid’s budget - what is gained is always more than compensation.

Upon arrival at the cinemas last night, I bumped into Hilary, a lady from work walking in with one of her friends and we discussed how we all were and introductions were made and this and that and they told us that they were going to see The Interpreter because they'd heard it was good. It's interesting, but just from that offhand recommendation, it made me want to go see it just a little more - perhaps tipping the scales in the end. Why is it that we place such importance on what others think of a movie, knowing full well the variation that exists between individual tastes?

Nothing about the film struck me as overly spectacular and I felt there lacked a certain chemistry between Sean and Nicole that made them seem far too distant. The strange thing is, today at work, Hilary asked me what I thought of the film. Just from the tone of her voice you could tell that she really liked it, so I simply answered 'good', without really thinking. I'm glad she enjoyed it though.

The interpretations of what we see are really interpretations of ourselves. What would we be without those Tuesday trips?

Interpret this

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ardent Dreams, Braided by Time

dream: n. 1. a series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. 2. a condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.

I was going to post last night, seriously I was, but I couldn't recall any recent dreams that I'd had - I was also somewhat sleepy - so I thought I'd give it another night, one more chance for my unconscious mind to play. It didn't help however; it seems my dreams of late have begun to fade as the waking state slowly gains the upper hand.

Watched the third episode from season four of Ed Sunday evening, entitled The Dream and again last night while waiting for inspiration to arrive. Ed attempts to realise his boyhood ambition of owning a champion racehorse and Carol gets into a spot of trouble just for encouraging Warren Cheswick to follow his dreams.

At times it can appear that the ardent aspirations of youth have been lost to stark reality. Like a dream, they become distant and unreal, lurking in the background, tucked away in one of the downstairs cupboards of the mind for safe keeping while the world drifts by. Daring to dream, letting those aspirations take hold can be daunting. The easy road however, I've found, does not lead to dreamland.

Carol Vessey

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Hey Lyla

I thought to myself that voice sounded familiar while listening to Triple J on the way home the other day. I wondered if it was actually something new from Oasis or just Liam off doing a song with another group like he has been lately.

Either way, I turned it up and enjoyed the ride back - a welcome change to some of the stuff they've been playing lately - finding out afterwards that it was in fact the new single from Oasis, Lyla out of the upcoming album Don't Believe the Truth.

Words and music by Liam Gallagher on this one, apparently giving Noel a break for a song or two on the new CD. A conglomerate of rock 'n' roll influence and a punchy beat. Killer tune.

The world around us makes me feel so small

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Modern Haggle

I'm not normally one to try to talk a store sales person into lowering a price. In fact I don't think I've ever done it before, but tonight I figured I may as well give it a try. What did I have to lose, right?

I've been wanting to purchase a decent microphone for a while now and the fact that I'd been asked to film a few seminars for work and also to record an interview at the University of Queensland regarding the proposed abolition of compulsory student unions, it finally gave me the excuse to go out and splurge a little.

At Videopro I found one that was perfect, after disregarding the first one I saw, which was just a tad over my budget and so I waited patiently at the display case looking around for a while. Usually it takes them only a few seconds after you walk into the shop before beginning to hassle you, asking if you need any help and commenting on every little thing you look at, even after you've told them you're happy just browsing. For some reason it always seems that whenever I actually want to buy something, that they can't keep far enough away.

Eventually I went up to the counter and asked one of the guys if he could show me the Sony stereo microphone in the window. I'd already determined in my mind that I was going to buy it regardless, but I didn't want to appear too eager, taking my time to look over the contents of the box, reading the specifications on the back - half of which I have no idea about - before casually as I could, asking if he could do anything about the price if I paid in cash.

We went over to the computer and after a few short keystrokes, he offered it to me for twenty dollars off the marked price. It sounded reasonable enough, so I gladly took it – what more could I have done really? I have a slight sneaking suspicion though, that they may just be keeping their prices high there, just so they can give out deals without losing profits; makes them look like they're nice people. An extra twenty in my pocket though, I'm happy.

Dual soundwave to electrical impulse converter

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Capacitor Recapacitation

The other week, a lady from work shared the sad and unfortunate story of her faulty computer and the events surrounding its attempted repair - she is currently still waiting. Experiencing some problems with it randomly freezing up on her, she took it to her local computer shop. They concluded that some of its capacitors were faulty, bloated and leaking, and of course told her she needed to replace the whole motherboard. Somehow, mysteriously in the process, they came across a few more problems to add to the bill and in the end, managed, among other things, to completely erase her hard drive. Needless to say she is not too happy with them.

The freezing computer is a common annoyance for just about any computer user. When it started to happen quite frequently to a few of the computer at work, after eliminating any Windows defects as the cause and testing various hardware components, I figured it must be something to do with the motherboard. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a kind of brown corrosion leaking from the tops of the large capacitors on all three motherboards.

I googled around a bit and found a little story about a flawed stolen capacitor formula that was causing some problems in computers made a few years ago, expanding, leaking and even exploding. Jim said it would probably be an easy task of just replacing the eight troublesome capacitors, so we ordered them in and got to work today in fixing the boards.

Here are the steps we took, a little unsure if it would work, but surely worth a try:

1. Take the motherboard out of the case and put it on the desk.

2. Identify the offending capacitors and using a gas powered soldering iron on the soldered joins, remove the old capacitor from the board.

3. Remove any remaining solder if it is plugging the holes for the new capacitor, or use something sharp to push a hole through the solder.

4. Insert the new capacitor in place, bend back the wires on the other side of the board, solder to the board and trim wires.

5. Repeat for all incapacitated capacitors, return motherboard to case, then just hope everything went according to plan.

We only did one board today and I was a bit sceptical as to whether it would work. When we fired it up for the first time and all that was heard was one long beep and then three short ones and nothing else, I assumed the worst. While Jim was away trying to find out what the computer meant by that particular series of tones, I tried it once again, pushing the graphics card into place a little better and after that, to my surprise, the system seemed good as new.

The lady from work says she's going to bring her computer with her, the next time something goes wrong, assuming she ever gets it back from her computer store.

Incapacitated motherboard capacitors

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Genealogy of the Blog

The thoughts of the day, scrawled out in text on the screen, groupings of characters, words, concepts, ideas, and narrative combine, producing what in the end - like a lost star in the night sky - is a mere speck amongst the multitude. Yet though so like so many others, at the same time there are none quite exact in similarity. Variation it seems, just as it exists in biology between individual species of plants and animals, is apparent all around if you look hard enough. It is this variation that enables evolution and progress to thrive.

The blog is an organism, fighting for survival in a harsh environment fraught with many perils. It is a relatively new species and like so many if its inorganic cousins, its current existence is dependent on various members of the human race, who are cunningly persuaded into performing various actions so that it may continue to be.

The experiences of the day, which would otherwise remain revolving in the mind, are somehow coaxed out. The requisite work days floating past, dreaming of the future; the little ideas that seem to pop out of nowhere, which you hope may one day actualise, though probably will just end up like the rest of them, neatly tucked away in the corner.

Thinkings from pages read at lunch and the night before, Darwin's The Origin of Species, Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals and at least five other books that I've started to read and then put down or returned to the library, like tonight, to test drive some more. The idle chatter of the evening news and social propaganda of commercial current affairs in the background. The all new moments from New School, the first episode from season four of Ed. The words of other blogs around the world set down by others.

All influence to the present state of things, from fingers to keys to the screen to the blog.

Nietzsche blogging, old school

Monday, April 11, 2005

But Oh, That Magic Feeling

"Out of college money spent, see no future pay no rent. All the money's gone, nowhere to go." --Lennon/McCartney, Abbey Road

It's a strange feeling when you realise that the lyrics to a song are actually not what you had previously assumed and perhaps - more embarrassingly - even sung along to. The song, as it existed in your mind is suddenly changed forever as the validity of its former meaning is stripped away. In the Abbey Road track, You Never Give Me Your Money, I always thought it was 'But oh that magic feeling, oh where'd it go?'. It appears I was wrong, though the sentiment seemed fitting.

Friday night, out 'till morning, yet somehow flat, a shadow of former times. Saturday to the movies at Southbank, parking a pain, a cramped and crowded theatre, obliged to see Sahara with the others - distant memories of a time when a trip to the cinema was an almost magical experience. The weekend closes, an early episode of Ed rekindles the urge to go bowling, unshared by all but a few. Searching, forever seeking, though content with discontent, but oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go.

The lyrics of life going round and round inside your head, and though the future may prove them different, what more can we do but to keep on singing regardless?

Beatles in the garden

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mouse in the House

Tired from my efforts of the night before setting up SuSE Linux, I awoke this morning and was readying myself to go out, when I heard a rustling from the plastic bag of chips, popcorn and various other snacks on the kitchen floor. Through the semitransparent plastic, I saw the dark shape of a tiny mouse, which I had first seen from the corner of my eye, late one night, scampering across the floor about a month ago.

I had once almost caught him one night, in the box next to the fridge. Turning on the kitchen light, I saw him, sitting there startled, and looking up at me while I just stopped and stared right back for a second or two, wondering what he might be thinking. As soon as I advanced however, he must have regained his wits, jumping right up out of the box and bolting behind the fridge.

There was no escape for him this morning however. I grabbed the plastic bag, sealing him inside and went to look for something I could put him in. He was very fast and I knew that if I opened the bag just a little that he would quickly attempt an escape, so I got a plastic container along with a little box and headed to the bath tub. Opening it just the slightest bit, he darted from the bag to freedom, though luckily the bath tub walls were much too smooth a surface for his clawed feet to grasp and eventually he found a dark hiding spot within the box I'd placed in there.

I'll most likely let him go outside tomorrow, but just wanted to keep the cute little scamp for a bit. He's currently busy eating a bit of popcorn I put in his container earlier.

The mouse

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Red Caps and Speedos

"In twelve years, the baby will be eleven and a half." --Jane, The Life Aquatic

Probably a film I'll have to see again to explore its deeper subtleties, to dive into the depths of its... ok, ok enough of that. I had my doubts about this movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, not knowing really what to make of it at first. Its quirky style and dry humour seemed to catch me a little off guard, though after recognising the intentionality behind its skewed reality, the film became progressively more enjoyable and I was able to appreciate its silliness. By the time the movie’s end credits were rolling, there was that certain feeling where I'm not quite clear exactly why, but I just know I liked it.

It's the little details, the small idiosyncrasies that make the film, red caps and speedos, the absurd animated sea creatures, the appalling treatment of the interns, and the fact that everyone gets a Glock. No one could have played Zissou like Bill Murray and I was impressed with Cate Blanchett's performance as well and although not a huge Owen Wilson fan, I felt a kind of strange empathy for his character and the emotions of his situation.

When I was a kid, around eleven and a half, I used to love watching those nature documentaries they're always showing on the ABC and I remember always having aspirations to one day make one of my own while exploring the vast unknown somewhere. As a child your future is almost infinite, though it slowly fades with age as possibility gives way to reality. There's still time yet.

"Do you think it remembers me?"

Monday, April 04, 2005

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

The 1971 Coca-Cola slogan on the surface seems to show a simple desire to spread some good in the world through a little generosity. The image of six and a half billion bottles of Coke opening simultaneously comes to mind, a Coca-Cola executive's dream. Over the years, this dark fizzy liquid has pervaded society, evolved and adapted to a multitude of variable social climates, and learned how to expertly exploit human emotion for its own advantage using a rich tapestry of enticing images.

Eleven-thousand-and-eighty shares of Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd stock at $8.48 per share, roughly ten-thousand Australian dollars, was the market order I put through tonight in my first foray into the online trading world - if only it were real money. I had just about forgotten I'd joined up for the ASX Sharemarket Game, after I'd given up on the hopelessly designed interface about a month ago, when today I received an email saying it's not too late to start buying shares with my make-believe fifty grand.

Coca-Cola seemed to be performing as good as any, plus it's oh so deliciously refreshing! I'll be eagerly watching the market in the weeks to come. You never know, perhaps soon I'll have enough to buy the whole world an imaginary Coke.

Refreshingly delicious

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Collaterally Thinking

collateral: adj. Situated or running side by side; parallel. Coinciding in tendency or effect; concomitant or accompanying.

While watching Collateral last night, the question of what exactly the title had to do with the picture came up, though only now after looking up the proper definition, can I see the connection. The action of the film takes place over a relatively short period of time and within that short time, the assorted lives of the film's characters come together, influencing each other in ways large and small, intertwined in their parallel existences.

The depth of this film surprised me somewhat when I first saw it at the cinema, both in character complexity and in the underlying themes and ideas presented, a welcome departure from many typical mind-numbing action flicks. I hired the dvd the other day, watched it by myself Friday, then with others last night and am currently listening along to the director's commentary while it plays in the background on my computer.

When you think about it, we're all living in collateral here on this large sphere of rock, billions of lives striving forward through time in this big cosmic coincidence. "Get with it. Millions of galaxies of hundreds of millions of stars, in a speck on one, in a blink, that's us lost in space ... the cop, you, me ... who notices?"

Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it

Friday, April 01, 2005

I Wanna Be a Producer

That familiar music is playing as the credits roll on the final Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, Opening Night, where Larry finally goes on stage as Max Bialystock in the Broadway musical The Producers after spending the whole season in preparation. It's my favourite episode of them all in fact, though I can't wait to see what he comes up with in season five. I didn't really know much about The Producers other than that it was a very popular stage play written by Mel Brooks, but after watching Larry David and David Schwimmer in the few acts they did during the show, I really wanted to go and see it, though a trip to New York at the time seemed a little unfeasible.

Last year I heard that it was coming to Australia, playing in Melbourne and a friend of mine, Jerry went to see it while he was down there for a friend's birthday or something, but I figured it was only a matter of time before it came up to Brisbane. Eventually it did and a group of us bought tickets for last night's show.

I remember a little "Curb" type incident happened in the process getting the tickets. Jerry had given the money for his two tickets to me and I was going to go over and give his money along with my money to Meg so that she could buy the tickets. Now I didn't count the money Jerry gave me, but I put it in a separate section of my wallet and when the time came for me to hand over his money, there was twenty dollars short. I only had enough to cover me, so Meg said she would get the rest from Jerry later. On the way home Jerry called me and I had to convince him that I hadn't just made off with his twenty dollars - quite an awkward situation.

I really enjoyed the show last night, very funny and original, though I think it would have been better to see it with the original actors, instead of having Australians putting on phoney American accents, but it was good nonetheless. The actor playing Bialystock, I thought could have done a better job though. I overheard an old couple during intermission calling him a "bastard" for overdoing it. I mentioned to Jerry that they should have persuaded Larry David to come down and take on the part, but I have a suspicion that he wouldn't do it in a million years. Bert Newton won the most applause at the end of the night, however I suspect it was only due to his notoriety from Good Morning Australia. Overall it was an excellent night, though by the end of it I was quite exhausted and collapsed into bed afterwards without posting.

Leo and Max, back on their tracks