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absurd

Bressa Creeting Cake: Palm Singing

Quarter acre sections; a sky tower that doesn't really go all the way to the sky; spotlessly clean suburbs; rolling, semi-green, semi-bald hills covered in sheep and mountain bikers; speedos for fashion rather than the beach; xylophones; a calypso beat, and druids in a city where almost nothing is older than 150 years—just some of the eccentricity galore in this irrepressibly happy, undeniably strange music video from Auckland, New Zealand band Bressa Creeting Cake—the only group with a truly awful pun for a name to win a national music award. Or to describe Palm Singing in the words of the band:
“A very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one's fellows.”
Strange backyard rituals around a bonfire aside, who on earth could possibly bad-mouth that? My friend “Krazy Karl” was once a member of this band—before he made a stand for sanity. I need no longer wonder where the “Krazy” came from... In New Zealand, the concept of “six degrees of separation” may not have been invented, but it always applies, and my crazy musician friend and Bressa Creeting Cake are just one example:
  • I work with the guitarist from semi-famous rock band Garageland;
  • I went to school with semi-notorious rock band Shihad;
  • Jemaine of HBO comedy show Flight of the Conchords was in my film classes at university;
  • A workmate was trying to sell a concept for a board game named based on this very concept—that you can connect one person to another through six degrees of separation or less.
Here in the land of four million people and forty million sheep, everybody really does know everybody...

The Onion

While I struggle to produce my next post, stuck between work and a hard place, regular readers may like to stop by The Onion, a newspaper which, like the vegetable namesake, is guaranteed to draw a tear to the eye. The Onion may look like a serious newspaper—it formatted and, to first impressions, written like such—but delve several layers beneath the surface and you will discover anything but. The Onion is 100% satire—news stories written from bottom to front, down to up, stories which turn upside down all that is conventional and proper, to humourous effect. The Onion is proof that, The Daily Show aside, irony is not completely lost on American shores. So good is The Onion that, like a favourite poet or author, you want to savour each and every line—afterwards swallow the nagging regret that you didn’t write them yourself. But don’t just take my word for it—peel yourself an onion and prepare to laugh until you cry.
CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years Black highlightersLANGLEY, VA—A report released Tuesday by the CIA's Office of the Inspector General revealed that the CIA has mistakenly obscured hundreds of thousands of pages of critical intelligence information with black highlighters. According to the report, sections of the documents— "almost invariably the most crucial passages"—are marred by an indelible black ink that renders the lines impossible to read, due to a top-secret highlighting policy that began at the agency's inception in 1947. CIA Director Porter Goss has ordered further internal investigation. "Why did it go on for this long, and this far?" said Goss in a press conference called shortly after the report's release. "I'm as frustrated as anyone. You can't read a single thing that's been highlighted. Had I been there to advise [former CIA director] Allen Dulles, I would have suggested the traditional yellow color—or pink." Goss added: "There was probably some really, really important information in these documents."
Read more: The Onion: CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years

Spoilers

Introduction to Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens, or more accurately is preceded, by two poems. The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus, and More Fruits of Solitude by William Penn.
The Libation Bearers Oh, the torment bred in the race, the grinding scream of death and the stroke that hits the vein, the haemorrhage none can staunch, the grief, the curse no man can bear. But there is a cure in the house and not outside it, no, not from others but from them, their bloody strife. We sing to you, dark gods beneath the earth. Now hear, you blissful powers underground— answer the call, send help. Bless the children, give them triumph now. —Aeschylus More Fruits of Solitude Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that whch is omnipresent. In this divine glass they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. —William Penn (read the full poem at PoetSeers.org)
I think that tells us more than enough about this final instalment in the Harry Potter series... Anyone doubting J.K. Rowling is a real, or serious author, should put that poorly titled book away right now. Any author who can quote Aeschylus, let alone has even heard of William Penn (one of the founders of Quakerism and namesake for the state of Pennsylvania), is worth all the pounds in the Bank of England. I must say I am tiring of prose somewhat—the writing of it that is—for tiring of its reading would be a strange thing to say indeed, 607 pages of The Deathly Hallows still to be turned. Prose is so precise, and therefore so unimaginative. You can joyfully throw precision out the window with poetry—although in the reading that is, definitely not in the writing, which requires an act of concentration at least deeper, if not stronger than in prose. With poetry you can let your imagination paint the words, and the lines in between. I have been writing prose almost non-stop for a year now—the first substantive piece of writing in my entire life (Airport Anxiety) written a year ago during a visit to Japan, and am starting to tire of it’s up and down, black and white limitations; it’s tendency towards haranguing and shouting, as compared to poetry’s soft whispers, varied meanings. Perhaps this is why I had a recent piece of writing declined for publication (Miracles out of Mountains out of Molehills); the editor said obliquely, and not completely helpfully, that he preferred my more simple, straightforward stories. Not so simply, I am growing tired of words in a straight line, trying my best to break them apart gracefully. There will probably be some dreadful experiments to come. I wrote my first poem in about a decade earlier this week—a rush of emotion-bourne words born upon listening to a song, and staring, at the same time, dream-like into a photograph. I then, by habit now an unrestrained shaper of prose, began to prune and rewrite, to my later regret. It will now probably not see the light of day. Ever the melodramatist, I dare saw I am really only a little tired of prose. No doubt, to either benefit or regret, I have thousands of words inside me left. And thousands more to read in The Deathly Hallows. I still haven’t made it past the opening poems...

Me and three

Daily Blog Tips is hosting a competition, and inviting writers to submit a post involving the number three. The following is my entry—can you tell I wrote it in three minutes (give or take an hour)? * * * ThreeI have a minor speech impediment involving the number three. For reasons more complex than counting to three I say “fr-ee” rather than “thr-ee.” It has been a subject for teasing since life-time immemorial. One cause of my unusual diction may be a face-plant, more plants on face, face planted on pot-plant holder at the age of two—a face-first collision, teeth-work on metal assisted from behind by a girl jealous of the attention her grandmother, my baby-sitter garnered me. Despite emergency surgery my dental work never completely recovered—in fact several teeth never reappeared, albeit years later via a surgeon’s scalpel. Incisors violently misaligned, it is simple arithmetic that I have never been able to align three simple letters: “T-H-R.” * * * It may be just as well I am not involved in sales—no doubt I would run some-one out of business, constantly mis-quoting untenable discounts on items priced with the number three—“Yes sir, it really is only ‘Free Firty-Free!’” Despite my impediment I did actually do sales once—telephone marketing for a dish on every roof satellite television service, where luckily there were more than free channels, and many of the offers were three. Sorry—I am supposed to be talking about my speech impediment, not my dyslexia... I only lasted a month in the job—even that several weeks longer than the average—cold-calling less than receptive strangers for three hours a night the very definition of the term “churn” before such became common-place; but a job was a desperately needed job, walked to without enthusiasm after university lectures and before finding something better. Before I quit—a moment most definitely the highpoint of my brief tenure—I worked out that the reason the call centre supervisor—a young man approximately my own age but with the airs of one considerably senior, and who like a school teacher sat at the front and middle of the room—was always on the telephone was because he was listening in on our conversations. He would put down his phone from time to time, eye us all like a group of particularly bad students, and walk over to make unusually informed, usually cutting comments. With the thin veneer of telephone-pleasantness, only dollar motivated concern now terminated, I can in my darkest imagination (almost) imagine a metal pot-plant holder removing his knowing smirk... * * * Someone who actually is in sales inspired me to make up a joke the other day. Like most moments of creative brilliance—value judgement here admittedly my own—it came spontaneously and unrehearsed—an Indian friend of merchant caste and notoriously tight with money prompting the following off-colour joke:
Question: “Why can’t Indian’s count past three?” Answer: “One, two, three... did somebody say free?”
You probably had to be there—the humour increases when the guy with the Scottish last name and speech impediment tells it... In case you’re feeling sorry for my friend, he gives as good as he gets in the teasing; if you’re feeling sorry for me and my poor sense of humour, I completely understand. * * * The only time I’ve ever appeared on television—a bottom of the barrel, called in at the last minute impersonation of a presenter for the Inspiration-News podcast—involved me having to the say the number three, and my inability to do so earned the considerable irritation a very particular German director—“There is no ‘free’ in the script, ja?” Not that he could talk, at least not in English—his “v’s,” “w’s,” and “f’s” were all mixed up to say the least. I think we abandoned that part of the script now that I think about it... * * * At no extra cost A music video involving London, ice skates, fairy-dust, beards (unfortunately) and the number three...

Always time for laughter

When not working, and currently not writing, I do at least try to make time for laughing, in this case to J0n Stew@rt and The D@ily Sh0w. Were it not for my conscious efforts to steer clear of politics—for the sake of my spleen and blood pressure, not to mention my reader’s—I would feature clips like this more often, although admittedly I might have to change my name to A Sensitivity to Shouting at Things... In something of a classic episode, approaching the highpoints of humour reached consistently several years ago, watch D@ily Sh0w resident expert J0hn Hodgm@n a.k.a.“I’m a P.C.” poke holes big enough to drive a bus load of migrants through in the arguments against immigration, and watch it quickly, before Vi@com and the DMCA conspire to take the clip down (no-one tell them it was me who uploaded it to YouTube ok?). Who said Americans can’t do irony? (I think it was me actually...) Update: Vi@com DMCA'ed me less than 24 hours after posting the clip—hence my“spelling” above and use of the very handy Anarchy Media Player WordPress plugin. Download link

Bear with me…

My site went down a few hours ago—why I do not know. Perhaps because my index.php file mysteriously left for a long walk, still not to return. Or perhaps because of my current state of fuzzy brain. If you have amnesia, do you actually know when you are forgetting things? On that topic, thanks for the concern about the head injury everybody—even private messages received encouraging me to get it checked out. I’m really touched—sincerely actually—even if only because you are alarmed that your daily dose of Sensitivity might be disrupted, or decline. And should I be affected, as opposed to“affecting” for the purposes of telling a good story, I will definitely seek professional help. Of the medical kind that is. In the absence of a handy site backup, and the oft-delayed necessity of upgrading to WordPress 2.2, I have decided to upgrade, manually, so bear with me as I get back up to speed. I should also say at this point caveat emptor. If you wish to work in WordPress, be aware that it is significantly more difficult than Blogger to maintain and install. But also significantly more powerful. Luckily, none of the content, glorious content should have been affected—and I know you visit Sensitivity for the writing, not pretty pictures or amazing plug-ins. And keep an eye out, for as soon as I get these technical matters under control I have a goodie for you all to read—at least in my opinion anyway. Yes, it will of course be about myself (isn’t that the definition of blogging?), and a little Whitman as well...

Johnny Depp in a Coma

I might have once wanted, a long time ago, and just for a brief moment when I didn’t know any better, didn’t know myself any better, to be Johnny Depp. Not really though—not enough to watch all of his movies, learn the guitar or grow my hair long. At least not any more. I wouldn’t be the first that once did though. A former workmate, one of the most selfish, narcissistic people I have yet had the“pleasure” of working with—yet extremely funny and strangely charismatic—admitted to me that he was secretly in love with Johnny Depp. In an innocent way I am sure, or certainly hope. While I have yet to buy the 21 Jump Street box set, there is something about this former wanna-be rock star, effortlessly-is movie star that is eminently likable—he exudes charm, and of course untouchable“cool.” Still, news that he will play the lead in the adaptation of Shantaram, a physically intimidating Aussie hard man with a heart of gold and mastery of Marathi as well as Ocker raises my eyebrows at least. For all that Johnny Depp is a character, I'm not so sure he is the best character actor, or at least a master of accents, although admittedly late 20th Century Australian is hardly the definition of elocution—electrocution maybe? The following video clip from Reuters is a case in point. It is truly one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Is he in character? Out of character? Temporarily out of his head? Just why is he speaking with one of the strangest accents—at times Irish, at times American, most of the time garish, very much hard to believe? [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.reuters.com/resources/flash/includevideo.swf?edition=US&videoId=51881" width="344" height="320"/] I may be mistaken about Depp’s accent. I often and happily am mistaken—joyful surprises can't always be guessed or assumed. Perhaps Depp is similar to a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who, in one of the funniest, most irreverent TV news clips I have to this day seen, part of a series that almost had the TV channel in question censored by an outraged Government, was shown, or mercilessly mocked really, speaking in a different accent to every foreign dignitary he met, seemingly at some subconscious level picking up on and then mirroring the inflection and delivery of the people he was talking to—outrageously funny with the German foreign minister and the American ambassador, but completely surreal with the Dalai Lama. A cross-talking, muddle-mouthed habit ripe for the ribbing it is true, but just maybe evidence of a very adaptable, flexible personality—in a spiritual sense oneness even?