martedì, dicembre 28, 2010

Talking Australian Part 1

So having arrived in the professional middle class, I've got a Blackberry, and it's really great. I had no choice of which sort of clever phone to buy, as work dictated it, and what we do is so very very secret that we needed all the secretude inherent in Canada's finest export since the Diva Cup.

But I am enjoying it, and that in ways that really disgust me as an anarcho-syndicalist. Enjoying flying the flag a bit, although I'm sure it was made somewhere in Asia, and enjoying the entire mobile internet experience, and enjoying having a keypad, and most WTF??? branding isn't supposed to work on me of all, really enjoying it not being an iPhone, so that everybody knows I'm a grown-up, and not a spoiled teenager whose helicopter parents got them one for Christmas.

Anyways while it's the greatest thing since sliced bread etc. the thing that I like most about it is Word Mole, a game where you find words in a jumble of letters, which is the greatest thing since Viz magazine to enjoy while you're in the crapper. (Please ask to borrow my phone.) And initially the worst thing about Word Mole, but now one of the more useful things, is it has a Grade 5 vocabulary, and rejects me when I try to spell words like 'byzantine' or 'odoriferous'. And that is useful because I live in Australia, and when I say words like 'byzantine' or 'odoriferous', people's eyes get this look of sort of panicked blankness and the thread of the conversation grows dangerously taut.


I'm not saying Australians are ignorant; at least I'm not saying that at the moment. I have vague memories of the same thing happening in England and I know in Canada I lapse into Canadian. When I caught myself calling menstrual cramps 'the crampy things you get every month' to a girl here because I suspected she wouldn't recognize the word 'menstrual', it was only awkward because I don't know the jargon here yet; in Canada I probably wouldn't have said 'menstrual' either, I'd have said 'the curse', as unembracing of our mighty feminine powers as that word is.

But the thing is when you live in an expatriate community, as in Belgium, either everyone has English as a second language so they just learn new words, or they're educated, multi-lingual Anglos who also know lots of words. By that token I'm really not sure it's Australia I'm linguistically adjusting to now, so much as being sedentary.

Anyways, the F-word is lapsing into Australian, of course, as would be predicted. Yesterday I heard him say 'yiz', in the sense of 'youse guys', ex. "it'd be great if yiz (Can.: youse guys)'d come for a visit". Jesus. In revenge, I taught his three year old cousin to say 'tomato' the right, Canadian way.

venerdì, dicembre 24, 2010

"It's not the Second Coming"

You know I complain, I could complain professionally, but I also enjoy a healthy capacity for schadenfreude (sp?), there-but-for-the-grace-of-Jeebus-go-I-ism, and sympathy for the Mistress La Spliffe and F-word in a parallel universe who opted to spend an extra school semester in Belgium before attempting to fly out to this incredibly-fucking-white-but-at-least-it-fucking-works Winterless Wonderland here below.

Poor George Gegechkori, you've got a way with words. I hope you got to Atlanta, buddy, though Jeebus knows why you'd want to.

Merry Christmas to everyone, especially you poor fucks stuck in European aeroports; though I laugh in relief that I am not you I feel your pain. I was one of you last year on our way to Madrid, which should really just rub salt in the wound, since the stupid fucking cunts administering the aeroports should have figured out at this point that Winter Sometimes Involves Inclement Weather and Christmas Is In Winter. Sometimes "dherrrrrr" is just not strong enough a mocking sound.

giovedì, dicembre 23, 2010


Noun, for a group of people so fucking white that they make Canadian mangiacakes look like the United Fucking Nations. The F-word warned me before we came here, warned me repeatedly, to expect this massive fucking cultural ignorance, this wall of fucking fishbelly incomprehension of anything even vaguely non-white, and when I say non-white I mean WHITE, that milky fucking blankness of the Anglo-Saxon skin that you get glimpses of here when people's shorts ride up and you get glimpses beyond the tanline . . .

(Speaking of which, you may have noticed in the commission of your daily business that Australians have a certain look, ergo est a funny little aspect around the eyes that is particularly and peculiarily Australian, which is odd in a mixed population that hasn't been around long enough to inbreed to the point of sharing that sort of quirk. Russell Crowe has it, Guy Pearce has it, that weirdo mongoloid Mel Gibson has it. It's from squinting. Lamarckian, not Darwinian, to bullshit a bit. Mystery solved.)

Anyways the F-word warned me and the F-word warned me right, and I'd thought I was prepared, but I fucking wasn't. This is the whitest fucking place on the planet. No, correction. Right now we're in Shepparton, a fruit-picking town in Victoria, which is pretty fucking white but which is leavened with some Sikh farmers and restaurants, and a bunch of African and Iraqi refugees, and even enough Orientals to broaden the cuisine a bit. L---, where we live, is the whitest fucking place on Earth. The fucking whitest fucking place.

We went to see a fucking funk band that didn't have a fucking bassist, that's how fucking peaches'n'cream that fucking place is. It's so fucking white that the nice lady whose house we were staying in returned some of our post to sender, because our last names, which are just about the most guinea-ish last names that can exist without actively and magically smelling of garlic, looked African to her. I have never. EVER. Felt exotic before. I do now. HOLY SHIT. Because I am white.

martedì, dicembre 14, 2010

Terra Promessa

While the F-word and I were in Calabria, of course everybody was interested in talking about Australia. Differently than you might imagine considering many of the people we were speaking to had never set foot beyond the confines of that most insular of non-island provinces. After all, they're a bunch of people who're used to seeing their families go somewhere, ANYWHERE else . . . Canada, Argentina, Germany, Ethiopia and Eritrea back in those dear dead fascisti days . . . Oceania is old hat to them as a destination concept, indeed apparently Adelaide is full of people with my last name, but not my 'sopranome', which is a topic for another time.

Anyways, only one of my cousins made much of the distances involved, concluding her speech with a rather bleak 'voi cercate la terra promessa et non la troverete', a sentiment I decided to ignore, on the basis of it coming from a woman who decided it was okay to marry her first cousin since she's now beyond child-bearing age (seeing him swing between calling his mother-in-law 'zia' and 'mamma' is something that will stay with me for years, despite my goldfish memory).

But she was right, we were looking for the promised land in Australia, and we haven't found it, indeed instead what I've found is the following:

1) There is no promised land

2) I have a personal sense of style.

To elaborate on 1). This country is fucking beautiful and the people are nice, even if they can't shut up about how much they hate Muslims, and I love it here already.

BUT. Outstripping Canada, indeed second to none in my experience, Australia is a land of funny money and a citizenry thrown to the privatization sharks as incredibly corrupt and incompetent state governments cash in. Services are EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IN NORTHERN EUROPE and inflationary rates are huge because there are no price controls on anything and monopolies are rife.

And the federal authorities are too chickenshit to do what they can to stop it because that would mean jacking up the interest rates so high property prices would fall, and everybody's investments, either in their super-annuation funds or in actual holdings, are in real estate.

The country has become a slave of its own bloated prosperity and if I wasn't being paid an absurd amount of money for my contract here I would insist we turn tail and leave; this isn't a place to scrape by. It has everything Europe doesn't - space, courtesy, natural beauty, pleasing weather (though what with La Nina it's now in the flood part of its flood/drought cycle - god, this is a stupid place for the sort of intensive agriculture they get so knicker-twisted about maintaining - but that's a post for another time) - but also semi-responsible government and attempts, however byzantine and annoying, to protect the common citizen.

Socialism as a concept here has been absolutely stymied over the last 25 years by a labour movement who decided to shut up the potential pinkoes by throwing huge amounts of money at them. It worked. It's really interesting.

To elaborate on 2). I remember when I was on a girly holiday in Dubrovnik, I could relax in an extra-relaxing way because the German tourists lowered the bar so absolutely in terms of personal appearance on the beach. Australia is like being on a beach with German tourists, EVERYWHERE. If you had told me two months ago that I had a personal sense of style and certain standards for how I dressed, I'd probably think you were just trying to get into my pants, or shared my philosophy about always wearing natural fibres so as to forestall the possibility of candida infections. Now I'd have to agree with you without reservation though.

The gamut of female fashion in most of rural Australia only has three points - uncomfortable professional (7%), whore (43%), and slob (50%). I'm fitting nicely into the slob category but this place does make me feel like I pull of 'slob' with a certain panache. For example, my mumus have waist ties.

Yes. Mumus. That's right. I live in the land of fuckin' mumus. That almost makes up for the corruption and pseudo-capitalism gone mad.

giovedì, novembre 25, 2010

Merci, ma petite belle

Years ago, a young Miss La Spliffe did the present-day Mistress La Spliffe a huge favour when she saw the F-word on a bus, listened to his Australian twang pleasantly modified by the need to communicate with non-native speakers of English, and decided that she was going to have that. I find I am able to look back on the past me's and be quite judgemental in a negative way about their actions, or, as taught by my Jungian therapist, to comfort them over their various injuries, but it's not nearly often enough that I look back on my past me's and thank them for what they've done.

Maybe I fear that's tempting fate - maybe it's the death-worshipping, fatalist Catholic in me that makes it so easy to condemn or pity my past selves, but makes it usually just outside the realm of possibility that I'd be grateful to one of my past selves for the awesome thing that they did that's made my life so much more awesome. Or maybe - rather more likely - when I look back at the mistakes I made in the past, or humiliations I suffered, I don't want to own them, and so fall back on the Jungian idea that that was another self who went through them, and when I look back on the awesome things I did in the past, it feels like ME - the ever-present, ever-conscious I - who did them and is willing to take full responsibility for them! Any non-abstract thought is some sort of cop-out, I often think.

Anyhoo. Whatever is the case, 20-year-old Miss La Spliffe has done freshly 32-year-old Mistress La Spliffe a massive fucking favour in her choice of the man she had to have. I've been very aware of that for some time in terms of romance and companionship and all that. Now I'm aware of that in terms of the fact that the demands of Miss La Spliffe's voracious poon has led Mistress La Spliffe to Australia via the medium of the lovely Australian man, where a bunch of people who were strangers to me less than three weeks ago gave me a lovely birthday and where everybody has just been so goddamn sweet and so unannoying.

domenica, novembre 21, 2010

Mistress La Sploof

Apparently I'm a success with the in-laws, as the F-word had anticipated, by merit of not being a meth addict or a pregnant teenager. Well, good. But of course it's the difficult moments that stand out, or rather just one of them, which funnily enough came during a fit of me looking for something nice to say. That will learn me, as they say.

So now that concern has been replaced by another: I am fucking out of shape. Travelling this past month - the combination of periods of enforced inactivity, sudden bursts of activity, and mammoth binges of Italian and Asian cuisine - has conspired with my final two months in Brussels - enforced physical inactivity as I dealt with a shitload of work and organizational matters - to turn me into a fucking winded maggot who can't take a relaxed 20 minute bike ride over level ground without feeling like a fifty year old. Luckily so far that's not taking the form of becoming a fatty, because I can't imagine how lousy it would be to be a fatty in a lovely stinking hot place like Australia (even though I believe millions live it every day). But it's still no good.

The thing is we're becoming acquainted with what is unreasonably expensive here, and one of those things is gyms. If you live somewhere without a YMCA in it and you're middle class, you're looking at $1000 a year, and I'll be fucked if I pay that. At the same time I'm determined not to follow my id and set myself up with a Wii for $500, because I'm working at home, and if I'm working out at home too I'm going to turn into a shut-in. So it looks like I'm going to have to buy a lovely new kayak and join some sort of kayaking club.

Poor fucking me.

mercoledì, novembre 17, 2010

Conspicuous consumption

So for a variety of excellent reasons we're not letting on to people here about how much I'm making at my job. When the F-word pointed out the non-disclosure would be necessary I admit shrugging a little, because who goes around talking about how much they make anyways? Besides pricks, and while I'm a prick in many ways, that isn't one of the ways. But I've realized that's going to be harder than I thought.

Case in point: I am going to buy this fucking gorgeous sewing machine today. The Bernina Bernette 82e, the nicest mechanical machine I can afford, worth around $400, which is (in my head at least, because not having the brain for math I like to pretend 1 euro = 1 A$, which also stops me from spending too much money) four times as much as I spent on my last sewing machine, which I sold on my way out of Europe for half of what I paid for it.

Fine, right? I'm all excited and happy about it, and quite proud of myself for overcoming my extreme hesitancy to spend any money on myself. I accepted a good fifteen minutes of consumerist pep talk from the F-word - normally even tighter than myself - about how I could afford four of these things if I wanted, how I needed a machine anyways and would have to buy a nice-ish one sooner or later, how I'd proven to myself I was going to use it by using the shit out of that Singer until things went apeshit when M disappeared, how I deserved to reward myself after all the shit I've been through over the last 14 months - and when the F-word starts saying shit like that I believe him because he never says shit like that.

Here's the problem. When I went into the sewing shop yesterday, it was on a tip from someone in the F-word's family about how there was a big sale on Janomes and how I could pick up a basic machine for $100. I couldn't, actually, none in stock, but there was a big sale on Janomes, and I could have picked up a machine for less than half of what I'm going to pay for this one today. Now, we reckon this member of the F-word's family gave us this tip on the basis that she reckons I don't have a lot of money. So when we tell her that I just spent four times what she was expecting me to spend on the new machine, what is she going to think?

I've never had in-laws before, you know, certainly never Italian ones. Less than two weeks in, and I'm already concerned about what she is going to think. For heaven's sake. With the extended family, I think I'll just build an image of myself - since we'll be living in another state, it shouldn't be hard to maintain - as a naive and recreational shopper who has no idea how to handle money. Probably less trouble than the alternative.

lunedì, novembre 15, 2010

Week two in Australia and so far I have to say I love it, though I'm relieved we won't be settling in the town where we are at present. Too many of the wrong kind of farmers. Today we bought a car, my first car ever, a 1996 Hyundai station wagon that we have re-christened the Shitneedle - and it was painless. Registered for Medicare, got a bank account, tax file number, all painless. Belgium is already starting to seem dreamllike and impossible; yesterday we got a passel of bitchy mail from a bunch of institutional morons there, and it was like the final scene of Carrie, except that I don't give a shit. Fuck 'em. May the cunts rot.

The birds here are mind-blowing and sometimes - since the spring weather is temperate, and many of the trees are European, and culturally the place is like England and Canada made a baby together - the birds are the only thing reminding me that I'm on the other side of the planet from where I've generally been. It's a shocking case of convergent evolution that kookaburras and I came to be on completely different continental landmasses but that I still sound like them when I climax.

So I'm happy but I have to admit to the occasional wave of absolutely crushing homesickness. That isn't something that ever happened to me in Europe, or at least not since I was 19 or 20 or so. And I think it has more behind it than simply the vastness of the distance seperating me from my family, which is what I'm really homesick for (although when I was talking to Luke Duke the other day and he told me that Toronto was getting the first little knife-like gusts of snow blowing through the air I did get a knifey sort of pang). After all, neither Europe nor Australia is exactly walking distance back home, and now that I've joined the overpaid classes the tickets back are not prohibitive in either case. I think what's more at issue is that my brain is understanding that I'm going to stay in this place - something it never had to consider in Belgium - and that this place is already so much like home, but it doesn't have my family in it.

Oh well. When the waves come I accept them, and remember that it would be a thousand times worse to have a family I wouldn't miss.

lunedì, novembre 08, 2010

The Unquiet American

I'm in Australia and I must say it is quite a headfuck. I'd never understood before what the F-word had tried to explain about how far away you feel from everything. But after spending a week in Singapore, the most exotic place I've ever been and probably in the running for the most exotic place in the world based on how fucking cosmopolitan it is, and then getting off a plane eight hours later in a place that looks like Canada with more money and less cold - well, my head is fucked. The fact that I know more about this continent geologically, environmentally and historically than anywhere I've actually lived probably is making the headfuck more extreme. I'm pretty happy though, or I would if the headcold I'd fought off over the time in Singapore through a religious diet of various kinds of fucking spicy food hadn't kicked in with a vengeance. Oh well.

Anyways, nobody here can tell I'm not American, so I've decided to deal with my head being fucked and my fundamental Canadian anti-Americanism by giving random Australians stories about retarded Americans to take home to their families. For example, this afternoon we went to a bakery and I got a drink, and asked if they happened to have straws. They did, and then I made a big fuss about how Australia has straws, and everybody laughed, except the F-word, who turned bright red. Maybe I should save my idiocy for the moments he's not actually around.

martedì, novembre 02, 2010

Palms and clean sidewalks

Singapore is like a hospital for those of us overexposed to winter and people who let their dogs shit on the pavement. I know, I know, oppression, caning, but Heaven is an authoritarian regime too, you know.

Kisses to all - normal service will resume after we hop across to the Antipodes.

mercoledì, ottobre 13, 2010


This morning, completely unexpectedly, our issue with Belgacom was resolved, in a grown-up manner, that actually saw them act like a company instead of a demon spawn and saw us come out ahead a little bit. I sat and stared at the letter for a good three minutes, realizing this Belgian utilities mess was now behind me forever and all I'd had to do was write one angry letter, and suddenly all the excitement involved in an imminent two-week Italian vacation followed by emigration to Australia has hit me like a tonne of bricks. I may puke with happiness. Even the prospect of the etat de lieux de sortie tonight, while not filling me with glee, suddenly doesn't seem overwhelming anymore.

Wow. The imposed depression has lifted. That was all of a sudden-like.

martedì, ottobre 12, 2010

Mistress La Spliffe gets teary

Over the weekend that came out, rather uncharacteristically if I do say so myself, by tearing a strip out of the F-word's ass over the phone. It turns out leaving your girlfriend for a month while she does the heavy lifting and organizing of a move to the opposite fucking side of the planet really pisses her off. What surprises me about it the most is how long it took me to freak out; I'd already given him a quiet, calm, measured piece of my mind about what a motherfucker he was soon after his departure, but the shit really hit the fan on Sunday, less than a week before I'm free, and at that point I only had about six more things to do, versus roughly 50 fucking million.

Now I'm down to 1.5 or two things. I'd say 1.5, because the possible 0.5 is with Belgacom and I've got documentation on my side, which these beastly pedants care about, so I'm just going to ignore it. The full thing is a bit of a bastard, that's the etat de lieux de sortie with my landlord, who has a real talent for making me want to beat his fucking brains in with a crowbar, or even my own as long as it means I don't have to listen to his querolous motherfuckingness anymore. Usually, in fact, I delegate responsibility for him to the F-word, but while that motherfucker's off on his fucking Roman Spirit Quest I'm left to it myself.

Anyways, all of this would be easier to take if the apartment wasn't already empty, which means I'm sleeping on a camp bed in an echoing Art Nouveau cavern, a spotless one at that because we had the cleaners in yesterday (a lovely experience which convinced me that we're going to get some domestic help in Australia, because I will never ever like cleaning shit but it's nice when shit is clean. Also this way we can split the bills on the cleaner and then not resent each other for not doing housework - just take the hit financially) and now I'm afraid to touch anything for fear of making it dirty again and having to clean it up with my now rudimentary store of possessions.

And, of course, France's unions are ruining my careful, long-cherished plan to go to Italy via the Paris-Rome night train by starting an open-ended strike today. No idea when it will wrap up, they're overdue for a great big multi-week extravaganza in historical terms, so as insurance I bought a refundable plane ticket; I'm determined by hook or by crook to get the fuck outtta here this week. But do I ever fucking hate flying and a life in Australia will involve a fuckload of it; I just wanted this final experience of comfortable international train travel, the fuckers.

sabato, ottobre 09, 2010

The joys of the childless bourgeoise

Few objects make me 'get' objectophilia but my new shoes get me pretty close. My emotions toward them stop just short of sexual but there's no doubt that their kind and caring embrace of my feet makes me feel warm and fuzzy. They are fucking beautiful and feel as though they were made for me by fucking German fairies in a good mood. Meindl Como. Lovely and wide to accommodate my big fat fucking flipper feet.

I'm so glad that they're Meindls mostly because that means they should last forever and I'll never have to throw them away*. My last shoes really broke my heart. They were Keen PTC laces. I wore them every day I couldn't wear sandals and didn't have to look pretty for a year, because they were comfortable as hell and could take five or six hours walking without my feet getting sore. And then by the end of the summer the soles had practically worn away and the leather uppers were falling to bits despite mending over the year. Beautiful design, especially for people with fat fucking feet like mine, but absolute peices of shit. Like Ava Gardner in The Killers.

So anyways as I was paying for them I realize I buy really expensive shoes. I don't know how they compare to the retarded pretty designer shoes television tells me women fetishize because when I buy 'pretty' they tend to be artisanal clogs or Clarks factory seconds (oh please, let me be an extra on Sex and the City III: The HRT Diaries), but there is no doubt they cost a fuck of a lot of money. And there's also no doubt that despite being as tight as a healthy asshole I don't really hesitate to drop the money on shoes.

Or mattresses for that matter. Which is on my mind, because yesterday I sold our bed to a nice American girl. As she drove away with it I reflected nostalgically on all the fantastic fucking that had been done on it, and also on the F-word, who's even tighter than a virgin's asshole (you can thank Das Boot for that bit of tastefulness), telling me once that I'd been right to insist on us buying the most expensive mattress in Ikea with the most basic frame (men, never hesitate to tell your women when they're right; it softens their hearts and creates cherished memories). The thing is dropping tonnes of money on mattresses and shoes feels like a good thing to drop it on, like an investment in not having to have back surgery in twenty years.

Which got me to thinking about something else he'd said: that once I move to Australia, because of the contract I got, I'm going to be fucking loaded in a way that will change my life. An idea I poo-pooed of course because it'll be contract work, it could end any time, I'll be saving for dear life, I disdain lifestyle inflation, I already feel like I haven't been denying myself anything, etc, etc. But he pointed out it wasn't so much that as that I can buy the things I reckon I need - super fucking awesome shoes and really nice mattresses among them - without worrying about debt and things like that. That I'd be able to fly Lexie over to Australia without worrying where the money is going to come from if she doesn't work out at Sugarplum's. The big life-changing, he felt, would be in me losing a certain class of worries.

I like that.

*Because they're the men's model of course, Meindl's women's models are CRAP that fall apart if you breathe on them, I know from experience. I always get men's shoes/sandals now for any purpose that doesn't involve looking pretty because a) I'm fucking butch and b) they actually last more than a season.

venerdì, ottobre 08, 2010

Beautiful degeneracy

I've been reckoning I'm done with Europe, but I just booked us a B&B for the night before we fly to Singapore and it has a balcony looking over the Vatican (albeit distantly because we're cheap). Despite me feeling the Vatican is a monument to hypocritical, degenerate and enduring cupidity, that still gives me a little frisson. What better way to say goodbye to Europe than to take our breakfasts staring at the Vatican before flying off and spending a week gorging ourselves on lovely, lovely Asian food in a tropical climate? I guess dropping a tab would make it better, actually. But I freak out in aeroplanes as it is.

In a week I depart Brussels, and I think that's what I'm really looking forward to, more than departing Europe. The F-word tells me that my time here will become very distant and dreamlike very quickly, and that Romans are quite lovely people, much nicer than the people in Florence, where we bonded more than a decade ago over tales of tourist-gouging cuntitude. Well. I'm starting to get stoked over it all. Also he tells me it's still sandals-and-t-shirt weather down there. Fucking A+.

And despite me being sick of how fucking crowded the whole continent is we do have plans to come back. I want to learn German which means some months in Berlin, and we both want to learn Spanish which means some months in Spain - for some reason I'm not too curious to go to South America, besides Brazil, and even that I could take or leave. And it won't even be too long from now since it's something we want to do before the potential kiddies are school age; my guess is that getting canned at work will be our cue for a mammoth trip.

giovedì, ottobre 07, 2010

Anger ligament snapped

Oh boy oh boy. The clock's a'tickin' on this fucking place. Been idlly planning our trip up the Pacific coast of Australia and I'm starting to get totally stoked. Fuckin' animals and botanical gardens and beaches the whole way. Fucking A+.

The upshot is that this morning when I was doing my qi gong and on the fifth movement of the cycle - I forget what it's called but it's the 'angry' move, a sort of haka on ketamine, when you're intended to focus your anger - I realized for the first time in literally years, I'm totally short on anger. No joke. I've been fucked around like crazy since getting back here by institutional types, as has been normal and infuriating, but I don't fucking care; in fact I've laughed in three people's faces after they've presented me with one logical monstrosity or another.

The thing is it doesn't matter anymore - I've got my tickets, my cat's safe, I'm willing to walk away from my apartment deposit, I'm leaving a fake address, I am so outties - and these poor trogs are stuck in this mildewy puddle of a failed state for the rest of their naturals. Schadenfreude and anger are simply not compatible. The sad part is I think they know it. I've got more passionate, hurt responses out of people from laughing in their faces these past few days than I ever did from becoming visibly angry and spitting out insulting truths. Oh well. As long as no one stabs me, I'll be good.

Oh yeah, except one of the institutional types to fuck me around and who I started laughing at was at the post office, so I'm not getting my mail forwarded, so definitely don't send anything to me here. Ever. Again. Fucking A+.

martedì, ottobre 05, 2010

Like the guy in the thing there

Back in Brussels and exhausted, sick, but recharged. Spent the afternoon trying and failing to do administrative things and the silly Kafkaesque impossibility of it all is just funny now. Since Lexie is safe and on the road to happy at Sugarplum's and our stuff is being shipped and I'm 10 days from my departure, I'm starting to feel footloose. Nothing left here I couldn't walk away from in 30 seconds, as the guy says in that movie.

Sort of crappy to come back to the empty apartment though. I used to pride myself on my self-sufficiency, but take away my man and my cat and suddenly the place that's been my home for three and a half years feels like a temporary kennel when I come back to it from a sojourn at an old friend's house and Luke Duke's basement. Love is quite a thing; love is home. I don't think I'd ever quite realized that before. And there's no love for me left in Brussels, so it is very strange to be back, especially coming from Toronto, which is so full of people I love, and despite years of seperation is off the chart, relative to Brussels, in terms of what feels like home.

Anyways, I'm not self-sufficient. And I see how I could be, and it looks like shit. I have a new respect for cat ladies; they've really made quite a psychologically healthy choice by having all those animals to love, relative to your typical modern Western shut-in.

giovedì, settembre 30, 2010

Mrs. Slocum weeps

Sorry. No heart for the food stuff today. I'm going to spend this evening stroking my pussy, and for once I don't mean . . . oh for fuck's sake.

I guess in one way I'm feeling better about Lexie. The vet, who feels really bad about what happened, and I had a good talk about it when he came round to trim her fingernails and fill out her forms; if she's happy at Sugarplum's, and I'm sure she will be, that's excellent, and if she's not happy at Sugarplum's and comes to Australia after all, at least we'll be settled down by then, and in all honesty there's no way to look at the situation without having to admit dropping her off in Canada tomorrow is the best thing for her.

But I'm so fucking sad. It's like being dumped by a guy you really love because he has to fly back to Mars or else he'll slowly choke on Earth's oxygen-rich atmosphere, and neither of you are into the long distance thing. She's been my constant companion of years and years; my comfort when things were shitty and my darling when things were lovely; my dainty little southern belle, despite being so fucking fat; my familiar, my outlet for all the excess tenderness I used to waste tending to my own useless mental complexes.

She's moving in with Sugarplum tomorrow, close to where Neil Young grew up for awhile, in the Kawarthas. As soon as I realized that I started getting "Helpless" stuck in my head and it's got progressively sadder with every repeat. Thank god it's the Nick Cave version, or else I'd be cripplingly sad over a cat while a tomcat croons in my head.

(The F-word and I were just talking about Neil Young, in relation to where Lexie is going to be living and in relation to "Helpless" being stuck in my head, and he asked if I liked Neil Young, and I think I actually burst into laughter at the idea of liking Neil Young. Coming home from a long day at work, wondering what to listen to, and deciding - "yep, I'm going to listen to some nice Neil Young" - it's less ridiculous but no less hilarious than the idea of doing the same with Bob Dylan. But actually I really do like Neil Young, and have ever since I saw him in concert, and I would really love to see him in concert again, but the idea of sitting around listening to one of his records still makes me laugh out loud.)

Anyways, this is how I'm feeling. Now excuse me while I go cruising for some pussy:

mercoledì, settembre 29, 2010

Crack jojoba

Best insult I've heard all week: 24-carat pissant. Delivered and, as far as I know, created years ago by former Australian prime minister Paul Keating when he explained to a journalist who'd moved from public to commercial news broadcasting his opinion of the transition. Courtesy of the Paul Keating Insults Archive:

"You had an important place in Australian society on the ABC and you gave it up to be a pop star...with a big cheque...and now you're on to this sort of stuff. That shows what a 24 carat pissant you are, Richard, that's for sure."

Anyways, onto today's oil, and a non-edible one for a change, though continuing on yesterday's mention of the cosmetic application of sesame oil: jojoba. Actually you can eat jojoba oil without getting sick, as long as your definition of sick doesn't include anal leakage, a side effect it shares with the notorious olestra. That's pretty funny. And apparently it's pronounced "hohoba". That's pretty funny too.

What isn't funny is how fucking good this shit is for your skin. I'm not a conventional beauty; in fact I'm not any sort of beauty; and going by all the sick shit I'd like to do to my institutional enemies, I'm not even an inner beauty. That's fine with me. Beautiful girls have to put up with a world of shit; in fact, someday when I have more time on my hands, I'd like to write a heroic cycle about the trials and tribulations of a beautiful woman, and her eventual triumphant emergence into the Valhalla of invisible menopause.

What I do have, though, is lovely skin, and the way it covers my imperfect body goes some way to making that body pleasing. So I like to take care of it, and of course keep it as nice and tick-free as possible. Which is a touch of a challenge, what with sun (not that there's been much here), artificial heating (MUCH bigger problem here), marijuana smoke, and a recent development over the last few years . . . breakouts of eczema on my elbows when I get stressed. Eeeurgh.

So. I mentioned awhile ago that I've started making moisturizers at home, mostly for the sake of the F-word's fussy skin. I whipped up a coconut butter-jojoba-tea tree oil solution for him to take to Italy and left the jojoba oil on the counter in my abstraction (liquid at room temperature, solid in the fridge). Also in my abstraction, I'd forgotten to mix myself a new batch of moisturizer, so when I got out of the shower the next day I just grabbed the jojoba oil and used that.

The results were SUPERB. I've been using it since - every other day or so - and it's been working so well that I'm having an even harder time than I usually would during a month of enforced separation from the F-word not touching myself constantly. And elbows still lovely and unblemished despite crippling stress. And I do mean crippling, I'm one fuckwit away from a nervous breakdown. And yet my skin looks so fucking good.

Apparently that's because jojoba oil acts like sebum, the goo your skin excretes and that gives you pimples, so by smearing it on you it's as though you're fooling your skin into thinking you're actually a teenager exuding all sorts of goo. Or something. I don't know. I'm going to slow down on using it now, since my skin profile is more dry, and it's most recommended for oily types; the conventional wisdom is that it fools your skin into thinking its producing enough sebum, so the sebum production slows down and your acne goes away. Whereas my skin doesn't produce enough goo to give me more than the occasional pimple, and I don't really want to throw the balance off.

That all sounds like bullocks, doesn't it? That's the trouble with home moisturizers; I'm not a chemist and I don't know anything about anything, and I'm not sure the people publishing the recipes do either, so I have to be sparing with everything in case something is actually horribly bad for me. But the jojoba oil is addictive. It just makes you look so good. So look it up and try it if you dare; I haven't found any contraindications, and am probably just suffering some Catholic guilt over becoming so attractive to myself.

And for the macho among you, fear not, as it doesn't smell like anything; or it shouldn't anyways; certainly nothing girly. But if you like being smelly, you can add a few drops of sandalwood oil or some such and have a certain class of woman falling all over you. Personally I prefer my men to smell like something edible; once more, however, I'm aware I'm not the voice of the majority, more fool the majority.

lunedì, settembre 27, 2010

Open sesame season

I'm lucky in my life partner in a lot of ways, but definitely one of the ones I feel smuggest about is that we can have a panicked conversation about how we're going to have to get a lady-goat or something for its milk so we can keep having some sort of raw cheese in Australia, where it's fucking illegal, and that any time we get a serious jones on for really stinky, artisanal raw cheese there we'll just a really fucking slap-up Asian dinner and count our fucking blessings. I took the F-word out his last night here for an attempt at a slap-up sushi dinner and it was fucking R-U-P-T rough. I'd never known before that tuna had gristle. That's fucking Latin Europe, man. Not enough Orientals.

Anyways, that segues me into two topics:

1. Last night I bought four kinds of cheese, in a wild bid to stuff so much into my tummy before leaving for Australia that I don't miss it as much as I know I will anyways. Most of them were hard so theoretically we'll be able to keep getting them in Australia, but I know from practice in Canada it just doesn't work that way - it'll be shitty knock-offs, the dregs of production, because the manufacturers will understand it's being exported to a country that's used to its food dead. Anyways: parmigiano reggiano, pecorino primo salata (a squeaky, soft sheep cheese, almost but not quite bland, comforting, and studded with peppercorns), Castelmagno (which I'd never had before and was a real success - imagine a parmigiano reggiano but with its soul still imprisoned in it, and only emerging with a holler of triumph as you take a bite), and then feta - but the feta was stuffed into pickled spicy green peppers. Holy shit. There aren't very many edible things that are better than pickled spicy green peppers stuffed with feta. It's a very pleasing combination. I think we can make that, after moving, though.

2. Today's oil (tying back into the slap-up Asian dinners we'll have when we miss the cheese too much): sesame. Sesame oil, and sesame seeds too, are important to me as a nut allergy sufferer. Sesame seeds, toasted, or sesame oil as a dressing, or tahini, or halva, that fucking priceless, delectable and horribly addictive ambrosia, can almost fool my tastebuds into thinking they're finally getting some peanuts or something, so there's an element of naughtiness to eating them - it just feels so deliciously wrong, like getting head from someone who's still doing their undergrad but who has figured out how to do it. So there's the naughtiness as well as an element of deliciousness. For delicious all these things are are.

Not only that. Sesame oil is a super-useful hair thing. It's been years since I demanded my hair suffer chemical abuse but back when I was rehabilitating it, sesame oil was the trick. Your scalp loves it. If you bias toward dryness, like I do, it's a rare and lovely pleasure to get a deep, langorous scalp massage with sesame oil; and then one quick wash later, or extended comb with a rough wooden comb to pick up excess goo, your hair looks ace for a week.

It's also reputed to be a cure for baldness. That, I couldn't say. My deductive instincts tell me that if it was I'd be priced out of the market by panicking men, and there wouldn't be any bald people. But it's hard to say. The thing is, once you've had a sesame oil scalp massage, you smell quite distinctly of sesame. To me it's rather nice to smell like a Japanese seaweed salad but I'm aware I may not be the voice of the majority on this one, more fool the majority.

domenica, settembre 26, 2010

Slick – Pumpkin seed oil

I love vegetable oils more than animal fat, and I love animal fat a lot. Butter is indispensable for some soups and sauces if you live in a wintry environment, and when it comes to fries – sorry, Hindus - cow lard is the fucking acest. But otherwise, vegetable fats are so adorable and various and smashingly awesome. So to focus on the positive this week, I’m going to write about all the vegetable fat that I love. Especially since I've realized that there's a range of things I've started consuming here that I don't remember in Canada (possibly from want of looking) and I'm worried I won't be able to get in Australia.

I’m the sort of person who feels stress in a) her brains and b)her tummy. At times like this, especially after the whole turning-bright-yellow following the massive self-abuse leading up to my thesis defense years ago, I pay careful attention to what my tummy is asking for, food-wise.

And lately it’s been asking for pumpkin seed oil by the shot-glass. God bless the fucking Germans for introducing me to it. Have already gone on about the glories of pumpkin flesh, and could go on about the delights of pepitas as well; pine nuts are off my radar at the moment until they get cleared by an allergist, so pumpkin seeds have been making their way into our pasta and salads and pizza and everywhere else – lovely little fuckers. (Really very, very versatile, but bear in mind they burn pretty fast, so if you top any oven-cooked thing with them pop them on or in close to the end).

But pumpkin seed oil; that’s a lovely fatty nectar of the gods. I drizzle it onto crumpets in the morning instead of butter now. And salad. Decorating soups. Vanilla ice cream and granola. Actually just about every other dish where I don’t have to cook it. Fuck, is it good. It has this sort of clean richness to it. It’s heavy, it’s almost like you can taste its colours, and its colours are one of the strangest things you can see in a food, because it looks like a straightforward green, but when the light shines through it, it turns wine-red. But while it’s almost as though you can taste the bizarreness, it doesn’t leave any clingy traces, like most oils; just a nice sort of mouth environment of “mmm, I just ate a bunch of pumpkin seed oil”.

Well, as you can read, adjectives are failing me. This shit is good, let’s put it like that. Also – and this is just second-hand anecdotal as, to my knowledge, I've never fucked a vegan man - its absurd amounts of zinc, which us normals tend to mostly get through seafood or other animal flesh/product, help vegan men fuck more enthusiastically and frequently.

In fact it has so many touted health benefits that I'm paranoid that when I return to the New World the only place I'm going to find it is in horrid little new age 'pharmacies' that smell like mothballs, with the oil sealed into a animal-free soft-wall easy-swallow capsules designed to prevent you from actually tasting it when you consume it. Like this. Fucking travesty. More on that when I get to the flax oil, but for fuck's sake; the medicalization of society in general is a hideous enough prospect, leaving the medicalization of fucking food to one side. Pumpkin seed oil is a fucking delicious gift of the gods. Any company that suggests you consume it without feeling it is a bastard who's out to screw you out of one of life's unique, even transcending pleasures (I really like it, okay?). It's fucking evil.

sabato, settembre 25, 2010

I'll be your knight in shining armour, riding to your relocative rescue

I wonder if other women's fantasies tend to be wrapped up in someone coming (heh) and taking them away from all this. In fact, I wonder if some women fantasize about men coming (heh) and taking them away from all this, or otherwise solving their problems, as the fantastical moneyshot, rather than sexual congress. The question is on my mind because I am fantasizing about being taken away from all this like crazy right now.

Charles Bronson chucking me over the saddle and riding away from this fucking apartment over the steppes. Lord Peter Wimsey sending in Bunter to take care of business while we go get fed and sloshed at Brussels' finest restaurants and then steal policemen's hats. Magnum PI evacuating the building charmingly while Nick Cave sets it on fire; watching the glow of all my burdnesome possessions and contracts conflagrating in the rear-view mirror while we drive off squeezed into the Ferrari. This one stinking hot South Asian CEO I deal with buying Belgium and making me the queen so that I can formally instruct everybody to get fucked. Jake Gyllenhaal showing up at my door and cleaning up this fucking pigsty, barking angrily in American-accented French down the phone at all the institutional pains in my ass while I smoke a joint on the sofa and just watch. Holy fuck, that would be so awesome.

I mean, I can hardly express how fucking hot these fantasies are for me at the moment, and yet how asexual they are (though obviously it's not the stick-shift I'm sitting on when we're all squeezed into the Ferrari. I'm not made of stone).

In fact, in form if not in specifics, I'm fantasizing about men the way the television, from memory, does. Not as irresistably competent sex-gods, but as fixers. And that begs the question: is this how a lot women actually fantasize? I know I don't usually lead a frightfully stressful life; I don't have to worry about money, I don't usually even have to worry about cooking and cleaning - but right now with the move and with the F-word having fucked off to Rome I am fucking stressed in a way that I suspect most adult women, especially those juggling children and work and incompetent partners, are pretty much all the time.

And it doesn't take fucking Jung to work out that may be why the idea of the Prince of Persia bursting into my apartment, embracing me passionately, and then grabbing a mop instead of my titties, etc, is really awesome. And maybe that's why television hero-men have so few boners and so much general competence. It's a strange thought, and I don't know whether it's frightening or not. I think I would have thought it was frightening before I started having these fantasies myself, because they're - well, I'm not sure why, actually. It's not as though many sexual fantasies are any less unrealistic and potentially damaging in terms of expectations for most Real Life men than knight-in-shining-armour fantasies; in fact I suspect a decent quantity of men would prefer to fail or be replaced as fixers than as congressional partners. I guess it's frightening because I really don't like the idea of television getting me, because I'm a snob.

Anyways, I'm getting enormous comfort out of these fantasies at the moment, so that's something; and I'm reaching a point today - even if I'm procrastinating with a big old weekend blog - where there will not be anything else to be done by the end of the day until other people (not knights in shining armor, sadly; none of those on these fucking rainy Belgian horizons) start playing their roles. And I guess the lesson in all this is that men should make sure women are less stressed so that women have more time to think about sex, and that way we'll all get laid more, and in more creative and exciting ways.

giovedì, settembre 23, 2010

The Red Dragon's got no more patience

Oh dear. Being temporary and imposed is still really not stopping the present situation from becoming stiflingly oppressive. I don't remember the last time I was this miserable and bleak in this awful sort of unremitting way. And since I'm cruising the Dragon* that's translating into a general unfocused fury.

Hopefully things will start looking up after I go through the fucking Cavalry of giving away Lexie - oh holy fuck, what an awful thought. Thank god it's to Sugarplum. I can't imagine how I'd be doing if I was poor, and couldn't afford to bring her back to Canada - having to put her into a shelter or something - fuck. Or if Sugarplum couldn't take her, and I had to give her away to someone who wouldn't be able to give her a better living situation than I could, so I'd have to feel guilty on top of just fucking bereft.

Anyways. The clouds lifted briefly the other night, actually. I was walking home from a pleasant smokeratif - naughty of me to get so hooled in company when I should have been working on the apartment but we all have our break-points - walking back to more packing and cleaning and organizing, but nicely snaked and ready to be in a tired-but-brave kind of mood instead of the standard fucking misery.

The weather’s been clearer than usual lately. It was the sunset – kind of early, it’s getting dark here already, and that bugs me what with the SAD - but then it was okay, because I glanced up and there was a sunset going down on Rue Americaine, where Horta’s house is, glancing warmly off the shiny Art Nouveau bricks. A plane flew above me into the blushing sky, leaving a white streak across the shining violet. I relaxed. I took a big gulp of air.

And swallowed the vilest lungful of pure unadultered garbage breath my body’d ever been subject to. I have no idea where it came from but it was like stepping in dogshit for your circulatory system. I’m serious, I’m not just being a Canadian used to rarified mountain air blowing in over the trembling pines.

So yeah, I pretty much hate this place. I’ve never been so ready to split from somewhere, including Paris, and I was out of Paris the second I finished my final exam. But I didn’t hate Paris so much as some of the people in it. Here – I hate it. I hate pretty much everything about it because even the nice things come served in a turd. And if I didn't hate it on its own fucking merits I'd hate it because it's the inhuman shithole peopled by cunts who're forcing me to give away my cat. All the twee fuckery is not simply Latin and picturesque; it's fucking unlivable, like Spain drained of all the charm, kindness and beauty.

And my arsehole neighbours still have their fucking abandoned swimming pool up and my flat is still fucking full of mosquitoes, and it's autumn, for fuck's sake.

*Not to mention, gagging over the irony of how my efforts to save the world, and my laundry, by using DivaCups are going rather poorly as I'm on my FOURTH now. The F-word accidentally threw out the first, and two more were in my luggage as what got stolen on my way to Canada - more on that some other day when I have less fury to vent about other things.

martedì, settembre 21, 2010

She runs for the shelter of Mistress La Spliffe's little helper

I’ve been dealing with my situation by getting high a lot more than usual, and it’s had the predictable effect of helping me deal with my situation. It could be worse; I don’t mean to whine or complain when I say the present situation is like suffering depression, except that it isn’t depression. It’s just what amounts to an imposed physical and mental mire that’s got all the symptoms of a depression.

My body is either working on the apartment or working on work or trying to sleep 24/7; just like the lethargy. My brain is not capable of dismissing constant thoughts tied up in the quadruplet subjects of giving away my cat, cleaning up my apartment, closing down shop in Belgium (from the paperwork POV alone that’s a full time job) and sorting out work; just like the in old way it’d been incapable of dismissing the drab dark blue thoughts.

(My situation, BTW, is that I allowed the F-word to dismiss his duties and swan off to Rome for a month while I shut this Brussels shit down. Honestly, he deserves and needs it – Rome, I mean - more on that another day. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, though. Especially now, because his company, help, and amatory skills would have let me pole-vault over all of the mammoth hassles involved in packing up and fucking off so well – well, so well that I wouldn’t be suffering an imposed depression. It turns out getting laid all the time is really great for your brain and then suddenly knowing you're not getting laid for a month is fucking terrible. Who knew?)

Anyways, it’s not so bad, it really could be worse, but the situation is having the very interesting effect of giving me a tourists’ eye view of depression. I’ll tell you, it’s prettier from here . . . Especially since it’s beginning to dawn on me that I’m fucking moving to Australia. Holy shit. Also it’s reminding me why I used to be high pretty much all the time. It really served a purpose. There is no way this shit shouldn’t be available on prescription.

I've suspected for years, I guess, from first-hand experience and from other people's accounts, that reefer does tend to spin out a depression past its sell-by date; I still suspect that. All the same, when you're actually in a depression, well, there you are - smack in the middle, as far as you know. Like being stranded in the middle of a desert made out of molasses. And things like hope, anticipation, and that sort of general effervescent feeling of 'isn't it all rather grand' go off the radar. So at least getting really high adds a certain degree of shits and giggles to the situation, as well as the possibility to remove yourself from it one or two degrees and look it over, albeit imparedly and circularly, with a touch of objectivity.

domenica, settembre 19, 2010

Book on plane

Just one from this past trip, actually, which is a bit of a shame. But what can I do? It's getting to be standard practice on aeroplanes now to have the monitors and a choice of a kabillion movies, and American films are really good at distracting me from my conviction the aeroplane is about the fall out of the sky. So before I get to the one book, a quick rundown of the movies; there were more than this but I can't remember them:

Robin Hood. It was silly but Russell Crowe is still a peice of mecha-ass, even if his head is shaped like a cabbage. And Cate Blanchett can make almost anything believable. Okay - maybe not the beach battle scene at the end. Actually there's no way I can pretend this was a good movie, but it didn't offend my easily offended sensibilities so that must be worth something.

Prince of Persia. I ended up being more emotionally committed to this movie than I would have believed possible because I started watching it on the plane from Vancouver, and then we landed sooner than I'd expected, so I didn't see the last half-hour until flying back to London, and it drove me crazy all week. Even sillier than Robin Hood but Jake Gyllenhaal is even more of a peice of mecha-ass than Russell Crowe.

Green Zone. So extremely silly and Matt Damon such a non-peice of mecha-ass that I gave up after half an hour. Who the fuck enjoys movies like that?

Anyways, Green Zone being so extremely bad more or less released me from the monitor and drove me back to the one book I got around to reading on planes, which was Patrick White's Voss. My literary friends tell me it's the Great Australian Novel. Hmm. It was pretty great, actually, I really enjoyed it, but it was as laboured as a fucking Italian wedding cake. And that isn't all bad, of course, and for me as a reader it worked very well when he was talking about the environment and people's relationship with it - and since that's what the bulk of the book is about, the book works quite well.


Heavy moons hung above Jildra at that season. There was a golden moon, of placid, swollen belly. There were the ugly, bronze, male moons, threateningly lopsided. One night of wind and dust, there was a pale moonstone, or, as rags of cloud polished its face, delicate glass instrument, on which the needle barely fluttered, indicating the direction that some starry destiny must take. The dreams of the men were influenced by the various moons, with the result that they were burying their faces in the pregnant moon-women, or shaking their bronze fists at any threat to their virility.

That's nice, right? I like it anyways. But when the style was applied to Voss's relationships with everybody else, or Laura Trevelyan's, and certainly their relationship with each other (which was so miserable, antagonistic, and unappealing a romance I wonder if I would have guessed White was gay without three or four people telling me before I started reading) it got too thick and deliberate. It's hard to drive a plot with poetry, I suppose. But White did well enough as far as I'm concerned, because I really liked the book in the end, even though bits of it came close to making me laugh out loud.

Also there was something somehow ballsy about the labouredness. I have a hard time imagining the shitty male writers who get the most press these days having that sort of commitment to conjuring up mental and environmental states in such painful detail - a commitment to their subject to the exclusion of even sounding like you're making sense. Yeah, that's ballsy. Assholes these days are too busy writing veiled movie treatments or expounding their own retarded views on the state of Modern England or whatever. For Jeebus's sake, just get a blog.

giovedì, settembre 16, 2010

The Shoddyssey Part V

Things I will miss about Belgium:

1. Raw goat milk for morning lattes

That's fucking it. This stupid fucking country. Every time I look at the Art Nouveau and the lovely view from my window and start getting tinges of thinking perhaps I'll be nostalgic one day, memories or whole new examples of functionarial retardation overwhelm me. Of course it's worst at the moment since moving is always a pain in the ass and the modalities of moving out of Belgium are overwhelmingly technocratic.

The other day I realized I was in dispute with four different government institutions, and of course it is "I", that lucky bastard the F-word being as insulated as possible due to his lack of French and the functionaries' lack of English - nonetheless he's got enough of it that he's tearing his hair out too, and he's been really emotionally hit by the way we've been forced to give Lexie away - he has lived with her, after all, for four years now; just a little bit less time than I have, and she is a fucking charmer of a cat.

Anyways, I'd say I was in dispute with the four institutions, but I think they - if the 'disputes' are on their radar at all - would call it business as usual. It is hard to see how any dealings with them at all could avoid feeling like a 'dispute' to a person like me, who's been raised in a society where civil servants perceive their jobs as a series of problems to be solved, and who is now operating in a society where functionaries - they are far too unhelpful to be called 'civil servants' - perceive their jobs as a series of procedures to be enacted.

Reading Voltaire's Bastards again as I go through all this and it's like John Ralston Saul is cheering me on in a commiserating sort of way. I read it for the first time when I was 19 or so and liked it well enough, but I only had the vaguest idea of what he was on about. Now I'm being slapped in the face with so many concurrent examples of stupid fucking cunts who have, as a society, foresworn memory and common sense in favour of 'rational' process that it's really hitting home. And it's the memory thing that is most remarkable. It's as though little fairies appear every night at the bedside of Belgian functionaries and take a shit on their brain.

The other night, as we said bye to some friends we're not likely to see again before departing, one asked what it was like to move from Canada or Australia to Francophone Europe, and obviously there are a few things to discuss in that respect, but the most striking is the difference in brains and notions of intelligence. In terms of quantities of facts we have in our heads, New World Anglos are fucking ignoramuses; our knowledge of international history and geography, maths and the sciences usually fails to come up to scratch with even a stupid Franco-european. And I'm sure our general ignorance would shock to the point of offending almost any Franco-european exposed to it.

But due to the paucity of synthetic and practical training Franco-europeans get - I know one aristocrat here who'd gone to top-crust schools all his life, studied art every year of his education, could comment on every painting in the Louvre, and who had never been taught to draw in perspective; you know, Grade 3 shit - they tend to come off as absolute helpless, incompetent idiots to us as soon as they're presented with a problem. And the thing is, life is a fucking series of problems. That's not even 'sad but true', it's just true, and I'd venture to say it isn't even a problem that life is a series of problems.

Anyways, in a bid to problem-solve myself, I'm trying something new. For my remaining weeks in Belgium, I'm going to try to deal with my problems the way I imagine a Belgian would, which feels like thinking about everything stupidly. Case in point: our neighbours' mosquito-breeding pool. Since I wasn't sure what house it belongs too, I just wrote to our commune (city hall) to tell them about the problem. But rather splendidly, the boundary between my commune and my neighbours' commune runs between our gardens, so I got an email back from the commune - full of exclamation points no less - about how they'd like to help but couldn't because it wasn't in their jurisdiction. More for a joke than anything, I wrote back explaining I wasn't capable of getting in touch with the commune that my neighbours live in because I live in a different commune, so would they please forward my concerns to their counterparts? And you know what - it worked.

mercoledì, settembre 15, 2010

Beyond the Thanksgiving pie

Pumpkin is a beautiful and generous thing, and makes a sauce with a versatility approaching tomato sauce. If I said that in front of my family, whose pumpkin techniques are limited quite strictly to casseroles or frittelle, I don't know whether they'd laugh or smack me one, but I do feel it's true. While tomato sauce can give you degrees of what I consider a feminine sharpness, acidity, and clarity, running the gamut from invigorating to heartburn, pumpkin sauce gives you a gamut I imagine as masculine, from strongly comforting and fortifying to stolid.

I suppose if God held a gun to my head and told me to choose, I'd choose tomato; pasta in tomato sauce is my eternal comfort food, and I don't think the world has ever come up with anything lacking animal flesh in it that's quite as good as gazpacho. But I'd miss the pumpkin fiercely, and part of that is because the truth is a tomato sauce or gazpacho can be ruined, while a pumpkin sauce can be poor in relation to other pumpkin sauces but it will seldom be a disaster - unless you simply don't like it.

Here's the process, it's basically the same as the process for pumpkin soup, and applies to most varieties of pumpkin I've came across.

1. Fry your base (onions, garlic, the white part of leeks, celery, maybe some seedy herbs, like cumin or coriander seeds, or peppercorns, or whatever your taste runs to). Pumpkin takes kindly to a base fried in butter if you're not averse to heavier flavours.

2a. Once the base is sizzling enthusiastically add chunks of peeled, diced pumpkin and fry them for awhile (do yourself a favour and bake the pumpkin for ten minutes ahead of time, and then the skin lifts off quite easily with a normal veggie peeler.)

2b.You also have the option of splitting the pumpkin down the middle, roasting it at high heat face-down in an oiled tray, and then scooping out the cooked flesh after about half an hour. I like doing that because I think it makes it rather sweeter, but it depends on your tastes; it also tends to make it heavier.

3. Once the chunks have fried for awhile, or immediately if you have used roasted pumpkin flesh, add water or something else wet, translucent and inoffensive, just enough to cover. Anything from a rich meat broth through a veg broth back to water. Once again it's a question of your tastes.

4a. If you have used raw pumpkin chunks, cover and boil at medium heat until the chunks are tender, and puree - then you're fundamentally done.

4b. If you have used roasted pumpkin, you can puree immediately, but I suggest leaving it on low heat for ten minutes or so to make sure it's all melded, if that makes sense.

And there you go. More liquid gets you a pumpkin soup, less gets you a highly goopy sauce that is very nice for pizzas, especially paired with stinky cheese. Whether soup or sauce, this base also takes very kindly to the addition of curry paste to taste. It is also lovely with roasted red pepper pureed into it towards the end of the cooking; you can stick one or two in to roast at the same time as the pumpkin halves, if you go the roasting route. Green herbs should go in at the end, after removing it from the heat.

It also takes well to the addition of cheese, but to avoid clumps and ugliness mix in the cheese in the form of a bechamel-based cheese sauce.

As a soup, it works well either on its own or with the addition of other features, like (pre-cooked!) chick peas, or chunks of potato, shrimp, or white fish cooked directly in it. During this last shitty winter, I made a big batch of it every other week, in alternation with tomato sauce, and then froze it in jars that were just big enough to serve as a base for a quick but hearty and delicious soup for two in the evenings, so long as one or the other of us remembered to take out a jar to defrost in the mornings.

Finally it can be enriched either with cream out of cows or goats, or with milk out of coconuts. In either case it should be added after the soup or sauce has been pureed and taken off the heat, or, if you freeze it in batches, after it has been defrosted and re-heated.

martedì, settembre 14, 2010

Good morning to me

The F-word made me breakfast this morning, before work. Considering he makes the vast majority of dinners I stick down my face I could understand that it would seem strange to be so touched, touched to the point of schmoopiness, over that, but I am. Part of that is that I've always been the breakfast top. As a morning person, I do all the work mostly because I can, as I'm typically clear of head by 8, once the espresso hits my tummy.

But after a turbulent red-eye back to London, pleasantly but blearily wandering around Kew Gardens for a few hours, missing my family and talking with colleagues in Singapore about colleagues in the States, and then the last Eurostar back to Brussels where my attempts to nod off where stymied by three fat Flemish chicks who DID NOT SHUT UP the whole fucking trip - seriously, if they weren't talking they were singing beastly Dutch pop music, and the pain of that language (besides its expectorant hectoring quality) is that I can understand just enough of it to understand they were talking about reality television - ARRGH! - followed by the realization I'm in this stinking mold-hole of a country for another month - well, coming home to the F-word was splendid and the fact that he, a non-morning person, spontaneously made me the lazy brekkers bottom this morning melts my heart.

The other thing that touches me about it is that it was awesome, and since he realized he's not the only person in the world who does this awesome thing, I can share the awesomeness with you: eggs poached in tomato sauce. They are fucking delicious. Part of that is that we get farm-fresh eggs and make our own awesome tomato sauce, but the concept is bigger than we are. So easy. And so fucking delicious. Obviously it doesn't need to be a tomato sauce, I've done it with pumpkin sauce and various cheese sauces, and it's lovely - especially the cheese sauces - but the marriage of the egg with a tomato sauce is a very harmonious, gendered, romantic one; or in more prosaic terms, the contrast of the thick, neutral egg flavour with the inevitable acidity of the tomato sauce is just right.

Anyways, try it, unless you're dating a fucknard, vegan, someone with an egg allergy or someone without a crotch it will get you morning sex.

martedì, settembre 07, 2010

Transience and being a dumbass

Canada continues well. Which is just as well, since Belgium continues to torture me from afar. Still . . . tempus fugit, and while that's usually tragic if you focus on it too hard, it means that my time associated with Belgium is dwindlingly finite. I have arranged for Lexie to join Sugarplum here, which is breaking my heart, but better for Lexie, and means one more trip here - that's four more days away from Belgium, four more days here, and those with my family and with Sugarplum and Melbine and their kiddoes . . . a real collection of blessings.

Speaking of focusing on the transient nature of time too hard, I think the minor brain problems I've been having since the major brain problems stopped a few years ago have been coming from not being able to accept the goodness of the present for itself, combined with not being to accept pain and annoyance as transient states. I've come to that conclusion before, I know; that I have a problem accepting happiness because I know it's transient, and getting overwhelmed with annoyances because I can't understand they're transient. I'm a fucking dumbass.

And speaking of transience, I've discovered an unexpected benefit to years of recreational brain damage. It turns out that my memory doesn't retain Dorothy Sayers plots. I've been reading Have His Carcasse again and every sentence is a revelation. That is awesome. I'd been so worried about running out of Dorothy Sayers books. Thank you, cannabis.

Well. Enjoying the outdoors here with Jemima the fucking awesome kayak, being present with the fam, planning a last great big trip for the F-word and I to Italy and, for my selfish wee self, planning one last swansong in terms of European "nature": a day at Kew Gardens, probably next Monday. And then . . . a whole new nature. Can you believe it? A whole new continent that's been floating off far away from the other continents for geological ages so it's full of weird animals and birds and trees. Holy shit.

giovedì, settembre 02, 2010

Canada, fuck yeah

Vancouver is the fucking awesomest. Valhalla, Canadian style. Definitely if the F-word ever dumps me, I'm moving here the next week. Just wrapping up a lovely visit with Elvis and his lady and sad to be leaving, though happy to be leaving through Vancouver's aeroport, which is also the fucking awesomest. They have a fucking jellyfish tank in the lounge area, how fantastic is that?

Anyways, I've loved this city ever since I first saw it but loving it in another way now; loving its ugliness, to be honest with you. Loving the simplicity and the boxiness of the houses and buildings - so strange! I used to hate that sort of refusal of gratuitous architectural prettiness in the New World, and its favoring of cheapness and function - because it's part of a living landscape. Things are still alive here, like in the other Canadian cities too, and I love that. I love it for what it is; I'm not claiming any sort of nationalistic environmentalist fanciness relative to poor, dead, shagged-out Europe; we're just emptier as a country and our cities really started taking off only after people understood people need parks, trees and gardens.

I cover a lot of Asian industry at work, environmentally destructive sorts, and lately it has really been striking me how justified the Asians are in getting pissed off with European environmental groups that complain about their activities. Europe got where it got (ergo est, no famines and functioning social services) by exploiting their continent to the point where it's become a complete environmental catastrophe, as close to a dead zone as a non-desert gets, for hundreds of years. And now it just looks like Europeans want to change the rules - and that without even giving up their economically ridiculous farming subsidies in favour of letting a decent quantity of land go fallow and making biodiversity some sort of policy priority.

Yeah, I'm done with Europe. In the meantime, rolling around in all the Canadiana like a pig in shit. God, we have the cutest accents in the world, I totally forget when I'm away.

giovedì, agosto 26, 2010


Things are looking quite bad for the cat, my public tears don't seem to have the power they once did, and my last-ditch hope in the matter is that the Belgian ministry will accept the Australian ministry's permission to not be fucking noobs in the case. In a nutshell, my vet can complete the lacking formallity in an afternoon, but in that case the ministry still won't accept his prior rabies vaccinations and blood tests - we'd have to start again and that means Lexie spending an unacceptably long time in quarantine. In which case she's much better off moving in with Sugarplum.

Well, she is in any case. I think that is adding an extra dimension of pain to the situation, but is also a mighty reassurance: she would have been much better off there in the first place, but I just wanted her to stay with me so much, and maybe this is all me being unacceptably greedy. Well, of course it is.

And my landlord has started being bullying. I can deal with bullies well in English, particularly the sexist sort, like him, who try to bully women and then are all nicey-nicey with men; those type tend to buckle like poorly made bridges in an earthquake when you demonstrate a touch of spine and shouting. But in French I find them crippling. So the F-word is mostly taking over landlord-us relations. I just can't bear it anymore.

And work. And all that. Fuck. If I wasn't going on vacation tonight, I'd be fucking shit myself with the sort of generalized stress.

mercoledì, agosto 25, 2010

The Shoddyssey part IV

I am in a state, my dears, a fucking state, I tell you, and feeling so sorry for myself I reckon I must be about to hop on the Red Dragon's back, which is fucking perfect, since I'll be taking a ten hour flight to Vancouver on Saturday. And what is doing it is something very fucking simple: uncertainty. Uncertainty at work (I know I'm getting a contract for Australia, but at the moment, have no fucking idea what kind of contract it'll be, and judging from the goings-on there I won't for awhile, and it's doing my head in) and uncertainty over the cat.

There has already been a vast amount of hand-wringing over her, of course, as I've written about before, but yesterday it looked as though finally at least the present stage of things was getting sorted out - I had one more peice of documentation to get, from a government ministry, to be able to apply for her 'visa'. I even had an appointment to go in and pick it up. And then I got a call. It turns out her vet here isn't actually a vet. Apparently the problem is that he didn't bother picking up his diploma from the ministry when he got his qualification 15 years ago, so now the ministry won't issue the paper, because he's not on their rolls as a vet. He is trying to sort things out, obviously, and hopefully the professional inconveniences will light a fire under his fucking retard half-ass (and yes, I'm angry; who the hell doesn't pick up their diploma, for fuck's sake?). But this could basically deep-six the whole fucking thing.

I hate Belgium. I hate it so fucking much. I wish it would fucking die. This fucking shittery of a country should get shoved up France's ass and die like a fucking de-limbed hamster. And this miserable crap-puddle could be the thing that costs me my fucking cat.

To ice the fucking ragecake my fucktard, shitwit Belgian neighbours built a pool in June, swam in it twice, abandoned it (it's now a lovely shade of bright green), and let it turn into a fucking mosquito farm so our apartment is fucking infested with the fuckers. Last night we put up a mosquito net and managed to get our first good sleep in two fucking weeks. Of course I've written to the commune to complain. At this rate the sons of bitches will get on the case in December, when the fucker's frozen over, and then send me a bill for wasting their time, because of course by then there'll be no fucking mosquitos left.

Oh fucking give me patience, lord Jeebus. Or arm me with fucking thunderbolts. Either way.

giovedì, agosto 19, 2010

The sound of gratitude chuffing up

I wish there was some way for me to personally thank the Arcade Fire for remaining awesome in a universe governed by entropy and in a society so tolerant of shitty pop music. The Suburbs is so sweet and pretty whilst avoiding treacle, and as an exploration of middle-class vide it has no parallel I can think of. And as an exploration of a deeply annoying thing, it's not annoying, which is a trick you rarely see in any art form, and to see it in pop music. . . well, fuck me. That is beautiful.

And it looks like Régine Chassagne remembered how to sing, too. For me her voice had always been the worst thing about the band but now I'm into it. On "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" she sounds like a gloriously cranked up Deborah Harry, or the song sounds like a cranked-up version of "Heart of Glass", that actually fucking means something - if crank makes things way better. From memory, it does, but I may have been partial. Anyways, listen for yourself:

domenica, agosto 15, 2010

High social standards

Conscious now of doing a lot of things here for the last, or maybe the last, or the second last time, etc. More than half the time that's a cause for joy. But going to Amsterdam and having no idea when I'll go again, if ever (I've promised myself a few days exploring the Hague before we go and I have some ephemeral plans for spending a month kayaking the Netherlands' industrial waterways someday but who knows what the future will bring) actually really hurt.

Not least because the last time I went was the time I first discovered their lovely botanical gardens. Really small, the size of a postage stamp! Much smaller, I think, than the gardens they've abandoned here in Brussels for the Plantentuin in Meise. And yet they have so much good stuff there. It was a lovely combination of the uncanny Dutch genius for organizing space over time to the best effect, and of lots of butterflies and plants and things. And naturally me being high. Butterflies and lovely plants and being very high is a hell of a combination, I don't care how macho you are.

Speaking of being very high, all the marijuana is not even very high up on the list of things I'll miss about the Netherlands. However, it is sort of symptomatic of what I'll miss most about the Netherlands - a microcosm, if you will, or an ecological marker; in the same way that really awesome sex isn't the most important thing in a relationship, but it is a sign that you're doing something right, and not having any is probably fatal. And it's a marker, or a microcosm, of what seems to me like a sort of well-organized moral honesty that is really appealing.

Let me explain: last time I was in Amsterdam, I was with a bunch of visiting Canadians, one of whom remarked that the front curtains of people's houses were always open. So I told her something that could just be bullshit but which several Dutch people have told me: you always leave your curtains open so people can see that you're not doing anything wrong. And her response - natural from a Canadian perspective - was, well, what if you want to do something wrong?

But the thing about the Netherlands is, what is doing something wrong in a country that tolerates so much? When your most unpleasant, virulent right-wing, xenophobic intolerance is based on a conviction that the problem with foreigners is that they're not tolerant enough - when even the politicians who make it into the international press looking like white supremacist fascist zealots are still about twenty degrees more socially liberal than anything on the market in the Anglophone world - when you have not only legalized but commodified soft drugs - what would count as the sort of wrong behavior that you'd want to close your curtains and hide from the world? All it leaves is actual bad behaviour, because you've basically done away with the idea of 'naughty' being wrong, and there's a sort of honesty in that which is very, very appealing - as though they save moral energy/outrage for things that are actually worth it.

And here's the kicker. Belgians are tolerant too - tolerant to a fucking fault. They'll tolerate the most ham-brained stupidity from their institutions and from each other. They'll tolerate streets caked in dogshit, the horrible, horrible driving on and condition of their roads with the attendant high death rates, and all sorts of inexcusable inconveniences in their public life. The F-word thinks it's an unconscious national conspiracy to universally lower the bar of what is required in terms of being a responsible member of society. Maybe he's right. I don't care, I'm through analyzing; basically, fuck this fucking place; fuck its weather, fuck its landlords, fuck its city halls, fuck its utility companies, fuck its tax department, fuck its retard drivers, fuck all the old ladies who look the other way while their ugly little fucking dogs befoul the sidewalks, and fuck pretty much everything about Belgium that involves more than three of these fucking people congregating for a single purpose, which almost invariably involves the creation of some fucking Lord of the Flies-type pig fuckery.

My point is, not only are the Dutch tolerant - any lazy asshole can be tolerant - they're also sensible. To bring this all back to reefer, not only am I allowed to walk past a police officer sucking on it and smiling (which legally and theoretically I can also do in Belgium), but also that police officer is not going to react in some arbitrary fashion (police arbitrariness is actually enshrined in the drug laws here), and I will have purchased that reefer from an institution at least as much a part of the national taxation system as a bar. And then I can sit down and enjoy it on a clean public bench overlooking a biologically viable canal (Brussels' one river, the Senne, is almost completely covered over, biologically dead, and oh, by the way, apparently the sewage treatment plant they fired up THREE YEARS AGO has already gone offline again, so they're dumping their shit into it unadultered again, which is a major driver of North Sea pollution), and unless I'm in Rotterdam (which has compensatory charms) I'm not likely to step in any dog shit while I'm doing that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in love with the Dutch; particularly in the north they have these atrocious loud, strident voices that makes them sound like some unholy cross between a donkey and a rooster. And as the product of a middle-class English mother I instinctively find their complete lack of tact horrifying. And that whole Black Peter thing is beyond the fucking pale, man. But still. I find their social, moral efficient honesty just so damn refreshing and special and I'll miss it a lot.

giovedì, agosto 12, 2010

You've been smelling again

It actually smells like autumn. Well, fuck me. Thanks for making it easy to quit you, Europe, going fucking autumn in early August, you frigid bitch. I'm really starting to feel like the hapless half of a relationship, in a sort of situation where Europe has been passively-agressively forcing me to break up with her because she doesn't have the balls to dump me herself, by, for example, revoking Brits' rights to live and work in the Schengen area, or by learning English so that she can do my job herself. Well, fuck you too, you evil cow, I'm going to go spend the rest of my life banging your much hotter daughter Australia.

All of which is a way to say I can bear the atrocious summer, one of the worst summers I've passed in Belgium, weather-wise, though the competition from 2009, 2008 and 2007 was all pretty stiff (motherfuck, I've been here awhile), because it doesn't matter, since I won't have to bear the winter. With that in mind, I quite like that it smells like autumn - that it smells like that clean and vigourous natural scrubdown after the sharp rain. I wish I could bottle that essence as a perfume; there must be a way, because surely it must be a thing I'm smelling when I think I'm smelling the clean - must be some sort of mushroom that actually manages to smell like clean. Right? I don't know.

But it's almost like sniffing an emotion of transcending hope and joy and I'll miss it awfully if I can't have it any more in the Antipodes. But the F-word says I can still smell it in Australia because it's not actually autumn I'm smelling, it's the post-rain, and they will have rather a lot where we are going; lots of cracking great thunderstorms. Probably it'll be even sharper and sweeter, since the breaking of the heat by the rain will be far more dramatic.

Oh good lord, it's just occurred to me that I have no idea what it's going to smell like there. I was already getting dizzy with anticipation just thinking about what the birds and the fruit is going to be like there. Goodness gracious me.

martedì, agosto 10, 2010

Does this look sexual to you?

Very nice weekend, this past weekend was. How long ago it seems. Things used to be easier in terms of swapping continents, you know. Now that I have money and possessions and a cat it's much harder . . . between that and work and the normal fuckery of Belgian existence I feel like the two days intervening since the weekend have fried my brains like so many little peices of sweetmeats.

We watched a movie called Secretary with Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. I've got a massive boner for James Spader's voice, which alone makes him one of nature's own peices of ass. Wikipedia says he used to be a yoga instructor. Can you imagine how much pussy he would have got as a yoga instructor with that voice? Not to mention business; I'm firmly against yoga in many ways but I'd show up and pay money to be told to be bendy in that voice. He must have had a vocation to be an actor, because it couldn't have been for the pussy, because that would have been vast available quantities of yogic pussy. Anyways, he was a big part of the charm of Secretary; because even with that patchouli honeysuckle voice to one side James Spader brings a lot of sort of attractive humanity to neurotic pervert roles, and with that voice he's phenomenally well-suited to be the pants in a spanky romance.

But I must say the main charm of Secretary was Maggie Gyllenhaal, who was just smashing. Really awfully good. Which was refreshing, as just the week previously I'd hit a blank when I'd tried to think of any Anglo actress under 40 who didn't annoy the piss out of me.

I also appreciated the attempt - though I don't think the movie quite succeeded, it succeeded further than any other I can think of, as they were all erotic thrillers and hence something Americans are even worse at than romantic comedies - and Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance really helped bring a degree of naturalness - to present a dominant/submissive relationship as not perverted. The only thing holding it back was the slightest sense of a carefully affirming after-school special. Maybe the ending was a little too happy. Oh yeah . . . spoiler . . . hah hah. Sorry, there's my inner sadist coming out. Or else it needed more male frontal nudity. Or could have been the treacle soundtrack. Hard to say.

Anyways, it was also interesting as we watched it at a time where I had been thinking about domination and submission in a broader context. I'd never imagine you can come to any grand sweeping conclusions about humanity in terms of whether they'd rather spank or be spanked but it's certainly one of the continuums that makes up the dizzying array of continuums that makes us all so odd. And the special thing about this continuum is that I have a feeling it's less linear than most - that part of playing with this aspect of your personality (above and beyond it as an aspect of your sexuality) means an awareness of and occasional leaps to what seems like the opposite, polar end of the continuum.

There's a range of public behaviours I don't think people would commit, a range of tolerations and obediences I don't think they'd have, if this sort of bedroom behaviour wasn't part of a wider approach to the world. And I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it's just a thing. But I can't help but feel that as much of it should be restrained to the bedroom as possible, because there's a good chance the rest of the world you're submitting to your games really isn't interested in playing.

martedì, agosto 03, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland

You know, I honestly think I'm going to miss Germany more than Belgium. Seems strange but of course it's not strange at all, as Germany has been nothing but the scene of a series of pleasant holidays, undemanding, over-subsidized conferences and escapist weekends, all healthily soaked in reinheitsgebot beer. Whereas Belgium has been the scene of all of my travails and an embarassing abundance of incidences of alcohol poisoning as I kept refusing to understand the sugary, extremely strong beer was not intended to be drunk in the sort of quantities I'd previously considered satisfying. And we've been going to what is apparently one of the least charming bits of Germany at that - Dusseldorf - a sterile yuppie town, they say. Well, maybe considering how damn filthy Brussels is, the sterility was more welcome than it otherwise would have been.

We went to Dusseldorf last weekend - probably for the last time, as our friends there are likely to move to Brazil before the F-word and I can afford jaunts back to Europe, and when we make a jaunt back to Germany no doubt we'll prioritize and spend our time somewhere awesome like Berlin. That makes me a little sad. There are lots of nice things about yuppie towns, one of which is the fucking awesome international richness of their cuisine, and when those yuppie towns are in Germany there's the pleasant corollary of them not being overpriced. We had tapas and it was grand but we could have had any number of other things there and it would have been grand. Mind you the food in Berlin is fucking awesome too.

We also went to the track, which got old - I'd been expecting the vast and delicious buffets they offer in North American racetracks to keep the punters in - and we went to a couple of open air concerts in the Hofgarten, the memorable one of which was Oquestrada, a nice Portuguese band with a lot of flavours. You can listen here.

Not much else that's fit for print today. We saw Wolfman last night, a film I'd been excited about seeing. I know I don't read entertainment magazines or anything but I'm really shocked I hadn't heard about how bad it was. Not just garden variety bad, either, it was really atrocious. I've never borne witness to such a revolting waste of a big budget, fantastic acting talent, and concept, via an excruciatingly poor script and really indifferent direction. And what makes me angriest, I think, despite all the love I've got for Benecio del Toro, Hugo Weaving and good scripts, is the waste of a concept. I mean, fucking werewolves, they're awesome. And now that that turkey has came out and been all shitty, nobody's going to make another big-budget werewolf movie for a decade or two. Fuck.