Thursday, May 31, 2007
AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.
THE ANDERSEN MODEL
You have two cows. You shred them.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Drowning in you
You are the water - cold yet inviting;
The impenetrable surface,
The sparkling reflections,
The flowing to the sea...
You are all these.
You are the stones in my pockets,
The ache in my lungs,
The dimming of my sight,
The bright circle of the world receding.
You are the stillness,
The calming silence,
The brief euphoria before the End.
You are the End.
Monday, May 28, 2007
And there, in a nutshell, is China's "economic miracle".
Now, that sounds like China.
However, (as you probably already know) the 'China' one is actually this:
A CHINESE CORPORATION
Then again, this sounds like China - on occasions!
You have two giraffes. The government requires you to give them harmonica lessons.
Stephen Dorff (as terrorist-filmmaker 'Cecil B. DeMented' in John Waters' film of that name)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
But at least I can enjoy this wonderfully silly scene, where young Dr Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) first introduces his creation (Peter Boyle) to the public.
I think I actually cried with laughter the first time I saw this, as a kid.
one of the terrible things is
being in bed
night after night
with a woman you no longer
want to screw.
they get old, they don't look very good
any more - they even tend to
so, in bed, you turn sometimes,
your foot touches hers -
god, awful! -
and the night is out there
beyond the curtains
sealing you together
and in the morning you go to the
bathroom, pass in the hall, talk,
say odd things: eggs fry, motors
but sitting across
you have 2 strangers
jamming toast into mouths
burning the sullen head and gut with
in 10 million places in America
it is the same -
stale lives propped against each
and no place to
you get in the car
and you drive to work
and there are more strangers there, most of them
wives and husbands of somebody
else, and besides the guillotine of work, they
flirt and joke and pinch, sometimes tend to
work off a quick screw somewhere -
they can't do it at home -
the drive back home
waiting for Christmas or Labor Day or
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
Saturday, May 26, 2007
You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour.
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
Any other favourites you'd like to add?
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Listen. It was like this.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Four jobs I've had:
Four places I've lived:
2. Sydney (only for a month, but it counts)
3. Toronto (best hot dogs in the world!)
Four favourite foods:
1. pistachio ice cream
2. mango kulfi
3. baked beans on toast (English childhood 'comfort food')
4. crusty bread (surely an essential in anyone's list?)
Supplement - four favourite foods in China:
1. nang bao rou
2. jiaozi (or baozi)
3. rou jia mo
4. hu pi jian jiao
1. Dark Star
2. Harold & Maude
3. The Hairdresser's Husband
4. Being John Malkovich
Four TV shows I enjoy:
(Hmmm, I just don't watch TV any more. When visiting friends in the States last summer the answers would have been South Park, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Vh1's Top 20 Countdown; but now..... only the dire local channel CCTV-9..... sad, sad, sad....)
2. Culture Express
Four places I've travelled (avoiding the obvious):
4. North Korea
Four places I'd like to visit:
1. Cuba (preferably while Fidel is still around, although – more realistically – this looks like being another 'collect the set of embalmed former dictators' visit [not many people can claim to have ticked Kim-Il Sung!])
3. South America, and especially Brazil (although Buenos Aires also appeals, for the tango...), and especially a town in the Matto Grosso called Araçatuba (my mother's birthplace)
4. Petra ("the rose-red city, half as old as time")
Four websites I go to daily (almost hourly!):
1. Yahoo Mail
3. Wikipedia (mostly via proxy)
4. Google (and, when I'm feeling fancy, GoogleScholar)
My mobile phone has returned, Lazarus-like, from the dead.
"How can you tell when your wife's dead?"
"The sex is about the same - but the dirty dishes start stacking up."
I thought of this today because....well....
"How can you tell when your life's in a rut?"
"The despair is about the same - but the blog posts start stacking up."
You call it being prolific; I call it being incontinent. Must..... cut..... down......
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.
"Why me, God, why ME?" wails an unjustly put-upon Job.
Thunder rolls like laughter around the heavens, and far, far off we fancy we can hear The Invisible Sky Father guffawing to himself, "Because thou art an easy target!"
The race I took part in a year ago this week is even tougher: after 35km you hit The Wall – the Great Wall of China! The Great Wall Marathon is run each May in beautiful countryside to the north of Tianjin, and incorporates a section actually running along the Huangyaguan Great Wall. It's only a very short section, barely 2km, but it is very, very hilly, and includes thousands of steps. And you have to do it twice, once near the start of the race, and then again - in the opposite direction - just before the end: a cruel and unusual punishment indeed, and clear evidence of a sadistic bent in the race organisers. This is probably the most difficult regular-distance Marathon in the world.
In fact, the Wall section is not the worst of it. That's so steep that you really have to walk for most of it, rather than trying to run; and if you've done lots of stair-climbing in your training, it's actually not too bad. However, most of the rest of the course is hilly too. Extremely hilly. I had been misled about this by friends who'd run the event in previous years. They had all, I'm quite sure, assured me that apart from drainingly steep climb up the ridge to the beginning of the Wall section right at the start, it was all pretty much on the flat. Whether they said this out of mischief, malice, or mere forgetfulness, I cannot say. But that was dangerous MISINFORMATION (How I came to rue not having taken the time to read the course description the night before! It was rather too dauntingly detailed, ran to a number of pages - and I was just too darned tired to be bothered with it.). This course hardly has any flat stretches on it. And the first half of it is predominantly uphill. Even the best runners usually take a good hour or so longer to complete this monster than they would an ordinary marathon.
Monday, May 21, 2007
"Do you think Mr Green can clone a monkey?"
"I expect so. Let's go and ask him!"
"One of the secrets of a happy dining experience is a short menu."
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Pick of the Archive: Favourite Posts, Sept. - Dec. '06
1) A New Year poem - 31st December
A complaint about the generally poor quality of poetry themed on the turning of the year, and the humble offering of a poem of my own - one of my 'freaky fables' series.
2) My first Christmas in ***??*** (Where in the world am I? ) - 30th December
A little bit of nostalgia for my early days in China.
3) The Question to The Ultimate Answer - 21st December
A homage to the late Douglas Adams, and my solution to the great conundrum of his 'Hitch-Hikers' Guide To The Galaxy' series.
4) Touch the monolith - 15th December
My multi-million dollar website idea!
5) A favourite 'beachcombing' - 12th December
A nutshell tribute to one of my favourite humourists, J. B. Morton; and one of the most famous examples of his work - 'The Dancing Cabman'.
6) Logorrhoea - 10th December
Strange word, strange poem - but a good summary, I think, of the creative urge.
7) A footballer anecdote (or three, or four) - 9th December
Some well-known funny stories about the great game retold.
8) That time of the week again - 1st December
Not many of my haiku will make it into these lists - but this one is particularly dear to my heart: probably one of the most romantic I have ever written.
9) The Simile Game - 30th November
Two-for-the-price-of-one: some silly, cynical wordplay and one of my best (I think) short poems.
10) Pulling the ripcord - 14th November
11) 'Morbid' thoughts? - 14th November
A frivolous little poem on the subject of poetry; but one of my most revealing?
12) They can smell the fear.... - 10th November
In which I confess my unmanly terror of bicycles.
13) On the beach - 6th November
A poem I wrote to woo the Great Love Of My Life. It worked..... for a while.
14) My first review - 25th October
Unexpected praise for the blog is the cue for some autobiographical aphorisms.
15) Sporadic advance of relevance - 24th October
My favourite ever piece of mangled English, and the story behind it. A possible sub-title for the blog itself??
16) A Dark Fable - 23rd October
One of my very favourite poems (of my own, that is); inspired, of course, by you-know-who.
17) Name-dropping - 10th October
I met a famous poet once: this is the anecdote.
18) Possible epitaphs - 10th October
What would you like on your tombstone? More jesting wordplay.
19) The people I fall for.... - 8th October
The story of my love life!
20) More shadows..... - 2nd October
Very short, very silly - but I like it.
21) Lone Mosquito Blues - 30th September
Can you believe I was still being persecuted by mosquitoes this late in the year?!
22) A Haiku with a back-story - 29th September
One of my first haiku, one of my best - and written in tribute to my greatest friend.
23) What job do I do? - 28th September
The story of my (non-)working life!!
24) Shadows and Froog - 25th September
A celebration of a favourite poetry anthology and a favourite poet; and the first and best of my own 'freaky fables' poems.
25) Fragment - 22nd September
A (still!) unfinished piece of poetry, but a promising one.
26) Christopher Robin goes down on Alice.... - 16th September
A naughty joke, and a very silly anecdote - but a good illustration of my frivolous, subversive personality.
27) I-Spy - 10th September
More on my employment prospects; and a 'true story' from my University days.
28) In dispraise of blogging - 8th September
A key early post on why I do not consider myself a 'blogger'!
Now, all I have to do is work out how to insert this in the sidebar......
Courtesies of good-morning and good-evening
From rustic lips fail as the town encroaches:
Soon nothing passes but the cold quick stare
Of eyes that see ghosts, yet too many to fear.
Here I too walk, silent myself, in wonder
At a town not mine though plainly coextensive
With mine, even in days coincident:
In mine I dwell, in theirs like them I haunt.
And the green country, should I turn again there?
My bumpkin neighbours loom even ghostlier:
Like trees they murmur or like blackbirds sing
Courtesies of good-morning or good-evening.
Robert Graves (1895-1985)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
In addition to suddenly stopping dead for no very good reason - in the middle of a dense crowd of moving people - many Chinese also seem to think nothing of dropping instantly into a crouch or a squat or a kneel, so as to become pretty much invisible to those coming up behind them.
Monday, May 14, 2007
As I explained in my reply (over on the Barstool, here), I have certain technical problems about that at present - as well as a general reticence about "showing my work".
Danny DeVito (as Lawrence "Larry the Liquidator" Garfield in Other People's Money)
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Well, I did find this photograph of her on the Internet a while ago. I don't think she can object to my posting it here, since she remains veiled by my teasing nickname for her - and there is, I think, absolutely no chance at all that any of my blog's tiny readership could recognise or trace her from this.
I did eventually succumb to an upsurge of moral qualm about having posted her picture here... a few years later, when it became apparent that websearch tools were starting to become rather adept at 'recognising' photos. This, I thought, might make it possible to identify her by doing a comparison search on the photo I'd used here. And I didn't want to run that risk.
Having her picture here was perhaps too taunting and torturing for me as well: more than a dozen years on, I'm still completely daffy about the damn woman.
The Ruin of the Florentine Glovemakers
("She had a favourite pair of gloves, you see...")
All the glovemakers in Florence, all those craftsmen
Of fine calfskin, and their fathers and their grandfathers
Since the ancient trade began, have never seen hands
Like yours. Now they shut their shops,
And urge their sons to other skills, because they know
That Perfection, once encountered, ends the dream,
Destroys the motive; that lesser hands cannot
Deserve their labour or inspire their art.
And so it is with me. I have so admired
The elegance of your hand
That I will never wish to hold another.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
And over the past year they've also started adding a lot of self-shot video content, archived on the sister site Danwei TV. The latest clip shows the rather lovely musician Wu Fei talking about her instrument, the guzheng. A favourite from the archives is this film of American folkie Abigail Washburn (who does a mini tour out here each November) and her band jamming with musicians from the Mongolian folk group Hanggai on a hutong rooftop. And then there's the Sexy Beijing series, in which the irrepressible Anna Sophie Loewenberg (who does indeed manage to be strangely sexy - despite sporting the scary hair and horn-rimmed specs of a Gary Larson matron) hits the streets to conduct frivolous vox pop interviews (she's probably aiming for the sly satire of Louis Theroux, but mostly comes across more like a young Esther Rantzen - but still, pretty funny most of the time).
Anyway, do please go and check out Liu Qi's article (translated into English, of course): it's a very good read.
Friday, May 11, 2007
There are the laws. And there are the laws that are - or can be - enforced.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
"Hide the drugs, hide the butt plugs,
Cover up the pentagram with the rugs..."