30 September 2008

Eid mubarak

Today is Eid, blogland. It's the end of the fast period of Ramadan. I have to admit I am very ignorant of the meaning and significance of Eid, but I hear it's a good party. I've heard that you buy new shoes and wear them to the festivities. And also that they don't know exactly when Eid is till the last minute. It has something to do with the lunar calendar. So it was going to be tomorrow (Oct 1) but now it starts today.

The alignment of the moon and the planets seems to be affecting global communicaitons though. International server crash this morning, plus my laptop seems to be completely cactus. Is anyone else experiencing random electronic vibrations of the cosmos?

24 September 2008

Energy Efficiency what do it really mean?

Hey blog-readers. Want to go visit a climate-safe city? Click above. And what do you think? what do you reckon they are trying to do here? like it?

23 September 2008

Bsharp is..

.. busy! Currently doing 3 seperate freelance jobs, with possibly a fourth on the way. All attention currently focussed on writing for clients - so daily posting has gone out the window. Perhaps there was some karmic vibration out to the universe in getting in that practice in..

18 September 2008

US Tourism

Since we lost BBC World from our cable package (thanks bastard UPC, who knew you could just take off the only decent non-hysterical global news channel and just replace it with Animal Planet, then demand we pay more per month for the channel we used to have?) we watch CNN from time to time. I can only really bear it for a few minutes while making dinner - the fever pitch of everything, the constant obsessive-compulsive "what will this mean for the US" line really bugs me after a while.

Anyway, they are wetting their panties over this latest credit crunch/bank bailout. I get the feeling the Europeans are quite smug, with their diversified economy and their groovy currency steadily climbing against the dollar and the pound.

So it got me wondering whether with the Euro doing so well, the trends of tourism will invert a bit. We think just maybe there are fewer American voices in the street in high season, much more Spanish that ever before. And perhaps the new Euro-entrants like Slovakia will flood on over to the US of A to sneer at their food, be rude to their waiters and talk louder than anyone else in any public tranport or outdoor dining areas. Slovaks, Spaniards, Slovenians, Serbians. Lovely.

16 September 2008

Pattern recognition

(credits to Miss J for the title)

Via momus, I've found this fantastic bit on on-line art, exactitudes. Click on each tiny set of nine pics to see a kind of linnean system of classification of street fashions. Momus asks, did you find your own style there? Well, sadly I think I'm "yupstergirls" most of the time. But I say, check out all those little tribes and sub tribes. It goes across ten years, apparently. Each one has its own name. Would there be different classifications in Australia, do you reckon? I think I remember the 'gabberbitches" from high school days. But apparently the "gabber" was a young subculture with racsist overtones in Holland in the 90s.

13 September 2008

Film review

Technically, "daily" writing doesn't include weekends. (fyi / btw).

However, last night I went to see an affecting film called Savage Grace. I don't know if here in Amsterdam we are getting an incredibly far-behind film release, or if we are ahead of you Australian readers on this one. If you have a spare Friday evening, and it hasn't come out, I'd say yes, go, it's an interesting piece of cinema. It's got gorgeous on-location shots in Spain and France and it has Julianne Moore doing a spectacular job of playing a very deranged woman with a lot of screen time. I've liked her ever since she did a whole scene in the movie Short Cuts where she was giving her husband a fierce verbal serve, but she was just wearing her dress shirt for dinner and was naked from the waist down. Classic funny but serious scene.

The humor in last night is that I suggested the film to someone on a kind of "friend date". You know what they are - when you're an adult who's passed their early 20s and you're in a situation where you need to make new friends, but you need a more structured way to do it, as sitting the park drinking cask wine with a dozen other friends and acquaintances just doesn't cut it anymore. So you do this weird awkward thing with people (often of your own gender, but whatever) where you suggest some activity like a gallery visit or a movie, and it's a bit like a date, but kind of worse because you aren't concerned about sleeping with them, you just want to be able to hang out.

Anyway, so I jumped online to see what arty (English language) films are playing in Amsterdam, and only briefly skimmed the description of this one. I saw that is was a period film, the review included something like .. "a look back at the mannered and shallow life of high society in the post-war period". And thought "oh that looks okay, you know, light" and didn't continue reading because I don't like to know too much about a film before sitting down in the dark.

So I'll try not to give away the whole thing. What emerges is a very startling and uncomfortable set of relationships between family members. To the point where the whole of the small heritage cinema was just dead quiet, and I just looked over at my film buddy and just raised my eyebrows, to imply "what the??". There's two scenes in particular that are just excruciating. You know where your eyes want to look away but you've got to keep them pointing at the screen to appear like a grown up. So as the lights went up, for I felt compelled to explain "really, I had no idea that was going to turn out like that, honest". (oh my god what if she thinks I'm a pervy freak). But we went to have a post-movie drink, so the date didn't go totally bad.

12 September 2008

Fence palin'

Sorry couldn't think of a meaningful pun title there. Does basically putting up extracts from a media inteview count as daily 'writing'?

After the lovely media splash about Ms. Palin being nominated as Sen. McCain's vice presidential candidate, it took me a couple of days to realise why this was such a big deal. Sure, she's pretty red-necked, but she's a vice, and who changes their vote based on a deputy? But, ah, the whole thing is that he's 72 at the time of the election, and he's had cancer before, so plenty of folks think he might pop his clogs in office. Now I get it - she could be the first Mrs President, marm. Damn.

She is a bit of a turkey, I think. Quotes from yesterday's ABC (America) interview:

When asked if Georgia joined NATO, whether the United States should go to war if the country was again invaded by Russia, Palin responded:
"Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help."

"And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable," she said.

Oh lovely. Watch out for them' Ruskies. And, even better, she got her first passport just last year!

Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?

PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yes, that trip, that was the trip of a lifetime to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany. That was the trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.

Canada and Mexico. And you have to get through Canada to get from Alaska to the rest of the US. Excellent.

11 September 2008

girl on girl

There's a pop song annoying me at the moment. I know this isn't an unusual occurrence, lots of pop songs annoy me. But this one annoys me in a vaguely political way.

It's called "I kissed a girl" by Kate Perry. Do you have it over there? You must. It's got a thumpy boring bass line and banal lyrics (big surprise there). When I first saw it while flicking past the music channel I thought it might be a cover of the artful Jill Sobule Song "I kissed a girl". Says Jill:
Genny came over and told me 'bout Fred
"He's such a hairy behemoth, " she said
"Dumb as a box of hammers
But he's such a handsome guy."
And I opened up and told her 'bout Larry
And yesterday how he asked me to marry

I'm not giving him an answer yet
(I think I can do better)
Remember that? It was poppy, sure, but it has a little story condensed into a tight verse-chorus-verse-chorus format. The two ladies chat at home, they're fed up with dead-beat boyfriends, they have a snog. After a moment of guilt, they both express the joy of the private moment.. (And we laughed/ At the world/ They can have their diamonds and we'll have our pearls). The lyrics are clever and funny, and its nice to have girls snogging in the top 10. Yay for all shades of love!

But this Kate bird just seems like a different kettle of fish. Perhaps I'm just being a daggy old prude, but compare the chorus lyrics:
I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong /It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight

First, who the hell uses "chap stick" in their lyric and expects to be cool? She goes on...
No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter/ You're my experimental game
Just human nature / It's not what /Good girls do
Not how they should behave

You're my experimental game? Sounds pretty cold to me.

In the clip, Kate Perry is singing this on a big pink bed, wearing a kind of burlesque-stripper outfit, and after the first refrain she is surrounded by a bevvy of beauties, at one point there's a gir'ls legs splayed out from under the bed. All very debauched and naughty.

So I haven't talked about this little number with any lesbians, or feminist theorists for that matter. Perhaps it's cool for popular culture to allow chicks to be out there sexy and hott in all forms, and if that's wearing a boa and fishnets and talking about how you pashed a bird to get a kick then fine.

And ... If you're going to start on at pop songs and videos for objectifying women, wow there's a rich rich vein there of both grrls and boys doing that. Mostly boys. From Axl Rose screaming turn around bitch I gotta use for you/I ain't got nothin' better to do/ And I'm bored to Ludacris rapping on "Youza ho".. Come on playa once a ho always/And hos never close they open like hallways/An heres a ho cake for you whole ho crew. Women are nameless, treated as a walking collection of orifices, given orders, etc. Charmers, aren't they? And rich, too. So to me there's not much point getting on Kate's tail about that.

But back to these two girly songs. Probably the main difference is that Kate is a product of a "production company" called The Matrix who write and produce songs for pop princesses like Britney and Cristina. Jill was closer to 40 than 20 when her song was a big hit, and she is a real singer/songwriter with five albums out and a diverse, clever and imaginative slew of songs.

Its just that Kate's song and video is all about girl-on-girl in a porn-star way, for attention. Us girls we are so magical/ Soft skin, red lips, so kissable/Hard to resist so touchable /Too good to deny it /Ain't no big deal, it's innocent. Purhlees. Yeh, she gets a kick out of it, but because its naughty, and men are going to dig it too. However, this might be because she didn't actually write the thing, I'd wager some middle-aged song-copy dude in LA did. Is it actually his little disco fantasy, not hers? A bit like Kylie singing "better the devil you know" in the early 90s, I wonder.

At least in Jill's song, all the characters have names. They have feelings too; and there's also something bigger going on. The woman singing the song is telling a story about how she's examining her life and her relationship, and now this exciting new aspect has come into it. The end chorus says "I kissed a girl (and I might do it again)." Aw.

Well of course, in the on-line universe I am not the first to comment on this tacky song. The yanks have been at it for months. The writers at Feminste make the same point, and do it better than me. And the Washington Blade just gets the knives out and calls the lyrics vapid and offensive. I wonder what their benchmark is for Ludacris, then?

And argh - even Jill herself has posted on it... I am so not a hip and up-to-date blogger! After saying she needed extra Novocaine after hearing it at the dentist, she's actually quite nice about the whole thing. She sounds really cool and grown up on her site, if you got this far, check out her fake bio. Funny. Think I'll check out some more of her music, so thanks Katy for the tip-off.

10 September 2008

Pome 2

There once were some men with long beards
In oceans and seas they were fear'd
By saving the whales,
They boosted their sales,
Oh greenpeace, what's happened, my dears?


There once was a girl in the 'dam
Who got herself onto a scam
Worked remotely,
Was paid occasion'ly
And then went to Rome on the lam.

9 September 2008

livin' la vida local

I had lunch with Sophie yesterday, who is from Australia but who lived in Amsterdam for more than five years. She is one of the small army of non-Dutch women who catch themselves Nederlandse heren, marry them, and seem to be rather successful in taking this demographic out of this already small country away overseas somewhere. So far, I know two women from Australia and one from England now in the South of France who have manged it. So, Soph has had a closer look at the Dutch way of life than me, being adopted into her hubby's family, and also learning to speak it proper, like.

We are of course both familiar with the endearing way a died-in-the-wool dutch person will tell you any non-redeeming feature about yourself with no hint of awkwardness, but without malice. "Your hair looks funny." "Your arse is a lot bigger since you got pregnant" (that one was for her, not for me). At the office, I was more inclined to laugh and be pleased they cared enough to make a comment. There's the tendency to end to work day at 5 o'clock sharp, and eat dinner at 6 pm without fail. I actually like this, I think the healthy attitude to work within a set period should be preserved as long as possible here and in France, Spain and Italy. Long live the siesta!

If you drop round to a traditional family around dinner time, be prepared to sit on the couch while they eat dinner. But you really shouldn't have dropped in unannounced anyway. This is the only country either of us have visited where an adult will have a glass of milk with their lunch, and yep, at a business lunch too, instead of a glass of wine. Apparently hobbies are very common, thanks to the crap weather. Kids just grow up learning to do slightly out-there regional things like ice-skate beautifully or stilt-walk or god-only knows what actually.

Oh, and we have a total smoking ban in all restaurants and pubs here (effective 1 july, height of summer). So now as it starts to turn a bit chilly, and we are retreating more inside, its been awesome for me. The locals, bless them, think its a shit idea. Even the non-smokers. Apparently one of the arguments goes "well you don't go to the pub to be healthy do you, so it's stupid to force this on us in the pub, people can make their own choice". Certainly not the cringey "I'm not worthy" attitude of Aussie smokers, who are constantly hiding and saying sorry all the time. I guess here they haven't had 10 years of public education browbeating on the issue. At the moment they are running an add where are middle-aged woman scours the house for her durries and ends up opening up the vacuum cleaner bag and lighting one up. It's pretty skanky. It seems that they when they are going to tackle an issue, they take it head on, with no sensitive touchy-feely support for your foul addiction!

5 September 2008

Two -thirty

Time to go to the dentist. The back corner of my jaw hurts, nature's way of letting me know that an extra redundant tooth that should have been eliminated by gerontomorphosis, is coming up out of my jaw and poking through the gum. Ow.

In other news, we're back from our Adriatic jaunt, and I've got more time on the internet to try to avoid hasty and mis-spelled posts like the last one. On the bsharp work front things have slowed to glacial pace. So while calling myself a "writer" I really ought to practice this writing business a bit more often. Many folks advocate a method of writing something, anything, every morning. Whether they are just frustrated diaryists I don't know.

It's taken me approximately 5 days between thinking of doing a regular warm-up sesion online, till today when I actually fired up the old blog and start putting some attention to it. So daily seems a bit excessive, but anyway, here's to trying. If I resort to poetry, someone, anyone who has the admin codes to this blog, just get in and delete it. No-one needs to see that.