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A whale washed up on the beach just south of Hillarys Boat Harbour on Wednesday. I was sitting around killing time until work when Chris sent me a text about it, so I took a drive up the coast to meet up with him, and we had a lovely day out watching council workers lift an enormous rotting carcass into the back of a truck. It’s certainly not something you see (or smell) every day.
The next day at work I was buying the paper on my lunch break and noticed that the event made the front page, with a typically pessimistic headline complaing about how it cost the City of Joondalup $50, 000 to remove. That’s our wacky West Australian, always preferring to leave putrid rotting corpses on our beaches rather than dish out the removal fee!
I have to admit, though, fifty grand does seem pretty steep. They should have just left it for about twelve hours so it floated further down the coast and became the City of Stirling’s problem.
39. On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957) 281 p.
On The Road is yet another of those timeless classics that I’ve been forcing myself to read, slowly crossing them off the printed list from TIME magazine that I have blu-tacked to my bookshelf. I’m reading the ones that look at least somewhat interesting first, and On The Road isn’t exactly boring – just repetitive. It’s a fairly aimless ramble about Kerouac’s alter-ego Sal Paradise wandering around the roads of America with his hero Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady), looking for work, women, friends, fun and spiritual revelation. This is interesting for the first fifty or a hundred pages but rapidly wears out its welcome.
The ultimate vibe I got from this novel is that it’s a watered-down version of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. They’re both watershed counter-cultural novels narrated by the author’s alter-egos, but Fear And Loathing is just better in every way. It’s shorter, more tightly edited, louder, more exciting, and less prone to philosophical rambling. Kerouac will not shut the fuck up about all the meandering mystic bullshit him and Neal Cassady talked about on their beatnik roadtrips, and I just didn’t care. In a way it’s appropriate, because I’m sure the counter-culture revolution of the 60′s was crazier and more exhilarating than that of the 40′s. Am I myself rambling? Is it fair to say that a novel written 20 years later was better than this one? I don’t know or care, because it’s well past midnight and I have work at eight and I just spent two hours straight pushing through the last 90 pages of this book because I wanted it finished. Always a good sign!
Pages: 11, 961
1. The son inexplicably has a Bostonian accent despite being British in the second film.
2. Rachel Weisz (aka hottest woman alive) pulled out and was replaced with some over-exuberant, cheerful nobody.
3. Brendan Fraser’s heart isn’t in it. You can tell.
4. One-liners had about this much thought put into them: “I hate mummies!”
5. LACK OF MUMMIES
38. The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1989) 285 p.
This was one of those difficult books that was objectively good, and I know it was objectively good, and yet I didn’t like it.
Marquez is Latin America’s most famous writer, and in The General in His Labyrinth he chronicles the last days of Latin America’s most famous hero, Simon Bolivar. Breaking with tradition, in which Bolivar is portrayed as a saint-like hero, Marquez depicts him as a sick, tired, weary and bitter old man. He has been turned out of government by his countrymen, and is travelling down a river to the Caribbean coastline with a few loyal aides-de-camp, heading for a European exile.
Bolivar was apparently the George Washington of South America, a military leader, statesman and visionary, but whom I’d never heard of before reading the book. That’s the “problem” with reading it as a Westerner; it’s so peppered with South American history that a foreigner has difficulty understanding what’s going on. It almost felt like a fantasy novel, taking place in a distant and unfamiliar landscape, through countries which may as well be fictional because they don’t exist anymore.
This isn’t an inherently bad thing, of course, but it’s not exactly an accessible book, and I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it.
Pages: 11, 680
The Republicans were always going to be the underdogs this year. After eight years of the worst president in history, it would be hard for them not to be. The Democrats have an incredibly charismatic nominee, easily malleable mass dissent, and the media firmly on their side. If they can’t win this election, they can’t win any election.
Any lingering doubts over this have been put to death with the gradual revelation that Sarah Palin is going to be one gigantic liability. Her selection as McCain’s running mate was a political move about as subtle as blatantly screaming, “HEY DISENFRANCHISED HILLARY SUPPORTERS! PALIN HAS A VAGINA TOO! VOTE FOR HER DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE STANDS FOR EVERYTHING HILLARY DOESN’T!” With every passing day it has become more clear that her selection was one great big fuck-up.
Hillary Clinton is going to destroy this woman. She was harsh enough on Obama, a fellow Democrat. Imagine how she will react to a woman – a Republican woman – who stands a good chance of becoming president before she does. She’ll be a fucking rottweiler.
It won’t be difficult for her, because Palin is literally Hillary’s ideological opposite. She wants to open pristine Alaskan wilderness for oil drilling. She doesn’t think polar bears or beluga whales belong on the endangered species list, because – get this – it could damage the economy. She put off providing same-sex couples in Alaska with equal rights for as long as possible. She’s a strong supporter of abstinence-only education, a ridiculously useless program, as we can see from the flashing warning signal that is her PREGNANT TEENAGE DAUGHTER.
And she’s vehemently anti-abortion, which deals severe blow to the entire purpose of her selection in the first place: winning the oestrogen vote.
Moving on from the fact that this woman isn’t Hillary Clinton, however much she’d like us to think she is, let’s look at the other big problem: she’s dangerously inexperienced. She served two terms as mayor of a rural village with a population of less than ten thousand people, and has been Governor of Alaska (pop. 683, 478) for less than two years.
So a campaign which has been continuously (and successfully) playing on Americans’ concerns that Obama is inexperienced has gone and selected a vice-presidential candidate with even less experience than him.
A campaign which has continuously (and successfully) distanced itself from the extremely unpopular current president has gone and selected a vice-presidential candidate who speaks in the same rustic, folksy, stupid manner that he does.
A campaign which has continuously (and successfully?) downplayed its candidate’s tottering 72 year age has gone and selected a vice-presidential candidate who is very obviously unprepared to become the most powerful person on the face of the planet, should McCain die in office – noting that in less than one presidential term, he will have passed the average life expectancy of the American male.
There were plenty of other female Republicans with more experience and a higher public profile, so the McCain campaign’s decision to choose her is not just stupid, but bizarre and puzzling. Maybe they’re doing a 180 on their usual policy of “don’t do anything Bush does,” and selecting a candidate to appeal to redneck voters who want a simple, naive candidate whom they can relate to. But I can’t imagine why. The “stubborn idiot who knows nothing about anything” angle running is running thin after eight years, and they knew that.
Here’s a speech excerpt:
I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too.
Okay, that’s swell. But it doesn’t work like that in a presidential campaign, sweetheart. And the GOP is well aware of that. Which is why everybody is so bemused that they chose you.
Anyway, to look at something similar and yet completely different, there’s a state election this weekend. Ad campaigns have been running for several weeks now, urging us to “Be involved in the decision process – Vote on September 6,” despite the fact that voting is compulsory in WA and we regularly have a turnout of 97 – 99%. What a waste of money.
I’m really not sure what to think of Alan Carpenter. Everybody says he’s arrogant (which is irrelevant), and people are constantly harping on about how Perth is going to shit, what with the rise of crime and violence, which people don’t seem to realise is bound to happen in a rapidly growing city. They’ve provided us with new rail infrastructure and handled the gas shortage pretty well. The only things I dislike about the current government is their attempted control of the press, which is quite worrying, and their terrible road safety program, which mostly relies on speed cameras and scapegoating P-platers.
But then, the Liberals would probably do a lot worse.
I think what irritates me most about contemporary politics in WA (and, to a lesser extent, Australia) is the parties are so goddamn close to each other. It doesn’t really matter whether I vote Labor or Liberal. It won’t make a whit of difference to my life or to how this state is run. The general consensus among most people I talk to is that both parties are as useless as each other, which is the typical Australian view on all things political, but it seems especially pronounced this year. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction.
So I’m going to vote Green as a lark, banking on the laughable idea that voter disillusionment is so widespread that they’ll actually get in!
I FUCKING LOVE DEMOCRACY
Google has been coming up with some really weak excuses to tweak their logo lately.
So I’m going to Japan in February.
Chris and I sort of just got offered by some friends who were cobbling a trip together, and had to decide within two days, because they’re putting a deposit down tomorrow. So this evening we drove to the ATM row at Carine Glades, well after dark, in the seedy deserted carpark with plenty of shadowy nooks and crannies, and withdrew massive amounts of money. “How much do we need again?” I called out to Chris, who was at the NAB terminal about ten metres away. “Eight hundred and fifty dollars!” he yelled back. “Eight hundred and fifty! Cash!”
And then we went to the pub and handed it over to our cohorts and now we’re LOCKED IN WITHOUT ESCAPE
The ultimate dollar tag (or should i say YEN TAG LOL) hovers somewhere around the six grand mark. I grit my teeth when I write that, as though I was passing a particularly large stool. The money itself holds no intrinsic worth to me, but it pushes back the start date of the ROUND THE WORLD TRIP by an unknown amount. Originally the ideal plan had us blowing this joint sometime around June or July in ’09, but now… who knows?
The thing is, the round the world trip is still something of a pipe dream. We’ve done no planning for it beyond the fun looking at a map stage. Whereas the Japan trip is very real and very solid, with the added bonus of the planning already having been done for us. We basically just plonk our money down on the table and get ten days of snowboarding in Hokkaido, and another ten days in Kyoto or Osaka. It’s going to be fucking awesome, but by jigger my wallet hurts. The pain reaches right through my jeans and skin and into my very soul. And becuase Chris will now accuse me of being a Negative Nancy I have to add JAPAN HURRAY HAPPY FAMILY FUN TIME BONANZA