Friday, December 10, 2010

aDeskbar!

my desktop with aDeskbar on the right
I should have posted this earlier, but... well, anyway. aDeskbar is a perfect solution for those of us who are really Mac users but have migrated to linux for whatever reason (I use linux at work mostly). As you can see from the screenshot it can sit anywhere you want it to, it can autohide, and it works seamlessly and trouble-free with the lightweight distros out there (in this case, Peppermint-ice). If you are interested, read the original post on OMGubuntu and download the deb file by following the links. I'm finding aDeskbar a valuable utility at the moment. Enjoy. The link:

http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/11/adeskbar-dock-panel-replacement-for-ubuntu/

Friday, December 3, 2010

watching them lower his box

watching them lower his box

Watching them lower his box into the earth
I remember all too well his passions:
the wine, the women, the song;
and silently I whisper,
“Don’t worry my friend. I’ll be joining you
before not too long.”

There was Sophie, a sophomore
when he met her;
they stayed together,
on-and-off, for over twenty years.
Never married. Often fought.
When she finally walked out,
he couldn’t forget her
even though she had ruined his life.

His favourite wine was Chablis, always cold.
The song was Beethoven’s--the Eroica.
Always too short for him,
it was ever too long for me.

Ah, but I loved him.

He had three jackets, I remember:
his blue leather ‘James Dean’ one;
an expensive tweed;
and one his father had given him,
a black one, that he only wore to funerals.
That was the one he hated.
No trousers ever matched that jacket.
He was never suited for death.

A thin rain pours thinly from a grey mournful sky.
I look again at the ground.
His box is gone now. Fat earth covers it.
The soil is damp and only waits for worms.

waiting for the bell to ring

waiting for the bell to ring

When I was at school,
sitting in class,
it always seemed to me
that real life must be happening elsewhere,
somewhere, anywhere
outside the classroom,
always beyond the school.

Somedays, I gazed
through the classroom windows,
eyes glazed,
unfocused, distracted.

I was young and impatient,
lusting for life,
always waiting for the bell to ring.

It’s a strange thing,
but leaving school
taught me no new lessons.
I’m older,
but hardly any wiser:
I got the life I longed for,
wanted,
was impatient to begin.

I still sit and gaze
through windows.

Don’t laugh, but
I’m still waiting for the bell to ring.

Chems Play Beatles


Listening for the umpteenth time to the Chemical Brothers' magnificent return to form, 2010's Forward, it finally clicked where all the trippiness was coming from -- not so much from allusions to Private Psychedelic Reel, but the Beatles' work circa 1967. Specifically, sections of Forward are reminiscent of the Fab's Strawberry Fields-Sgt Pepper-Baby, you're a rich man-Magical Mystery Tour period. This is apparent from as early as Forward's track 2, Escape Velocity: in this song there's even an upward-scaling chord crescendo that sounds so like A day in the life that at one point I began thinking of Radio London's Final Hour broadcast (A day in the life was the last track played by that pirate station).

But it's not just that crescendo. It's the figuration, the sounds themselves, the swirling effects, and the abrupt shifts in the musical textures the Chems have fashioned here. This album, not those of  E.L.O, is the culmination of I am the Walrus's and Blue Jay Way's legacy. The Beatles, of course, made trippiness a mass phenomenon, so evoking that period makes a lot of sense. On track 4, Dissolve, the trippy elements are there at the beginning, but then there's the refrain, Caroline, Caroline. At first I assumed it was a reference to a girl. But now I'm not so sure. Maybe it's a reference (even if unconscious) to the other big pirate station of 1967, Radio Caroline?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mr. Ken, feat. Ms. T

Mr. Ken, feat. Ms. T


You heard I was tinkering
with a girl
in the small hours of Saturday morning
down in Manzini?
Yes, the club was Tinkers,
but the verb is dancing.

Oh, you didn’t know
that I could dance?
Well, dancing is like loving
it just needs the right partner;
hips don’t lie.

But I love the way you lie.



Friday, November 12, 2010

Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown snippet



As a huge KOL fan, I should have written a review of the new album Come Around Sundown about eight weeks ago, when I first heard it. This is not that review, just a snippet from the front line.

Mixtapemaestro recently posted a Cee-Lo cover of Radioactive (the new KOL single) on his excellent blog with the comment that the cover makes the KOL original 'irrelevant'. Unfortunately, I hear what he means. I don't particularly like Cee-Lo's version but I hadn't realised before what a great gospel song this could be with the right performance and arrangement. (I'm thinking Sharon Jones or Mavis Staples or even Aretha here.)

Come Around Sundown is KOL's most polished album yet. And to my ears that's the problem. I put the Cee-Lo cover on replay, listened to it ten times or so, and then listened to KOL's original. I got about half-way through when I ejected it and played Aha Shake Heartbreak instead. Now, that's the music I like.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A quick meerkat (Lubuntu 10.10)

As you know, I'm using a minimum-ram laptop at work so the full-blown-bells-and-whistles (read bloated) OS-es are not really an option for me right now, especially as it's the desktop environment that typically hogs the available RAM.

Peppermint's two flavours -- Standard and Ice -- are great, as is Jolicloud 1.0. To these I can now add Light Ubuntu (Lubuntu). Lubuntu is another LXDE environment (the Peppermints are too) with Openbox but the newest release is built upon Ubuntu's meerkat (10.10) whereas the Peppermints are using lucid (10.04).

Lubuntu 10.10 is fast, attractive, and pretty much ideal once you've installed it and added a few tweaks. Since I always use more than one partition on my machines, I encountered a GRUB problem after installing Lubuntu in that I could access other OS-es but not boot from them. The problem was that Lubuntu doesn't install osprober so the startup sequence doesn't see the other partitions. The way to fix this is simple, however. Open a terminal, type

sudo apt-get install os-prober then
update-grub

and the other systems will be available to select from at the next reboot.

The other tweak is to download a new lubuntu add-on, lubuntu-control-center_0.2_all.deb which is available from the web: http://www.mediafire.com/?3kyy21ubztiki0c. This gives you a gui that you can use to modify much of lubuntu's interface.


But there's more:

If you like Peppermint Ice's respin cursors, you can get them from synaptic -- search for dmz-cursors, download and restart.

An easy way to get a terminal is to add (again through synaptic) a little app called guake, which allows you to utilise F12 for this purpose. I've found it very handy.

There's no need for Peppermint's Ice web-app creator, since Lubuntu comes with Chromium as default and you can create your own web-apps by going to a site with the browser, selecting tools, create application shortcuts, and saving the new app directly into your Applications menu.

And, of course, if you choose to add Firefox (not installed with Lubuntu) remember to add my Sifundzani1 Firefox Persona!

Overall, I like the new Lubuntu; and I think its menu behaviour is actually better than Peppermint's at this point. It's also of course very fast.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ice prevents freezing!

peppermint ice
Although I have a variety of computers, I mostly use three: a Macbook, a Samsung NC10, and a generic laptop that comes with my office at work. I use the generic laptop a lot, especially since I maintain a LAN in the school's admin block. But it came with only 200+ MB of RAM. Needless to say, the new releases of Ubuntu and OpenSUSE hardly get out of their starting blocks on this machine.

Enter Peppermint and especially Peppermint Ice! Instead of waiting, with mounting frustration, for the bigger distros to actually do something on this machine I can actually do my work through Peppermint without hassles. I prefer Ice since it's browser back-end is Chromium rather than Mozilla, and I also think it's slightly faster. Printing doesn't come with Ice initially but CUPS is easy to install via synaptic. All-in-all, I'm a fan.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ruby Shoes!

Everyone knows of course (or should!) about Dorothy's famous ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz:
they are justly iconic.








But have you seen this icon before?



These are also ruby shoes! 

Let me explain. From time-to-time I do some coding/programming, since I began using computers in the days when computers came with built-in programming languages; in those far-off days the only way you could have a program is if you wrote one (my first computer was a ZX-80, R50 at the time from South Africa). The languages I learnt back then were BASIC, LOGO, and PASCAL. Later on, I actually posted a few programs online for Mac OS 7,8, and 9. 

Well, recently I've been tinkering with PYTHON and RUBY. RUBY... aha! RUBY is quite special I think.

It got me considering how I might be able to teach some RUBY at school to the students. Surfing the net I came across SHOES, which is a mini-GUI kit for RUBY. When students start learning something they want to see quick results, and SHOES certainly provides quick results. Like RUBY itself beginners can see results from the get-go. I think it might be what educators are looking for. And it's not even difficult to get hold of. It's already in the Ubuntu/Mint/Peppermint repositories, works as call-to app, and (obviously) runs on ruby. More on this next week...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rainy Morning Dream Song

My head
is full of places,
places I've been;
and faces,
faces I've seen. On
rainy misty mornings
like this one,
listening to Bach in the car,
I remember where they are
and who they were.

It's a different kind of travel,
unravelling a past,
exploring familiar spaces,
the pigeonholes logged and locked
in the recesses of a brain.

Children walk by, singing
It's raining, it's pouring,
the old man is snoring.

The rain continues to fall.

The memories pour out of me,
sing like children,
dream like the old man.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Peppermint outruns Meerkat

Well, I've been using Maverick for some four days or so, and I definitely like it, but these standard Ubuntu distros are becoming more and more RAM heavy. A lot of the time I'm using a laptop that only has about 200 MB of RAM, so after a while Meerkat begins to crawl. That's when I logout and fire up Peppermint which is like a breath of fresh air... however, I've installed the new UBUNTU font on Peppermint, so it's not as if the Meerkat hasn't changed my user experience! :)

Btw, there's no need to install Ice to get web-apps any more: I notice Chromium has a command dedicated to this in its Tools menu.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Maverick Meerkat 10.10.10 has arrived!

Well, Maverick has finally arrived (Ubuntu 10.10). I've been running the Release Candidate for the last 24 hours and it works fine so far. Cardapio is installed and still cool, Swiftfox is still speedy, and K3b is still the best CD/DVD writer ever! My other favourite apps are also fine.

Visually, Maverick hasn't changed much but from the activity I've seen going on doing the installation and updates, there's been a lot of changes under the hood. Next week--after the official release--I'll see if I can install and run SchoolTool on this newbie. Should be fine though.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lush-Cardapio-Ice Desktop


Here's a grab of my current desktop, showing the Ubuntu Lush theme, the new Cardapio menu applet, and the use of Ice web-apps:


The drop-down menu at the top-left is Cardapio, and everything is in there; it's like a KDE or Mint Menu; then there are dedicated Ice-made web-apps for Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo mail, this blog, and my 4shared page. At the top right pidgin is inside the envelope and there's also a green button (not shown in the grab) that says that I'm available (online) through Mxit. For me, this is all very Mac OS 7-9, my favourite desktop era. This is all Ubuntu/Peppermint though, not Mac.

Lush is available through synaptic (in a collection of gnome-2 themes); Ice is available by adding the following ppa and then checking Ice in synaptic:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kendalltweaver/peppermint

Cardapio also needs the ppa added:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cardapio-team/unstable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cardapio


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mxit is great on linux

Mxit, as many of you know, is the messenger of choice for thousands of Southern Africa's teens; and boasts millions of subscribers world-wide. Here in Swaziland it's used by every teen who has an internet-usable phone. Mxit distracts students during class at school and keeps them awake at night, long after the time they should have been asleep. We adults use it too. Of course: a single sms using Swaziland MTN costs 80 cents, but you can text to many friends using Mxit for three hours for just 60 cents.

There is no reason not to use Mxit.

But Mxit works on a laptop or desktop too-- at least it does using Linux and Pidgin. I use Pidgin (for Mxit) on Mint, Peppermint, Jolicloud, and even TinyCoreLinux, and it works seamlessly and without ever crashing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tiny Core Linux!

Well, this is fun. I'm posting this using Tiny Core Linux: an OS that works 'out-of-the-box', has a GUI, and is only 10MB in size! Downloading and installing apps is a breeze... now, if Prism or Ice was available as an extension, so I didn't have to even fire up Chromium...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gnome Global Menu Panic!

Up until very recently I always added the gnome global-menu ppa to any new install of a system and added the applet to my top desktop panel. I loved having the extra menus available at the top of the page (probably because I was a Mac user for 15 years). But a few days ago I noticed that something was hogging my ram and making my computer move like it was sliding through molasses. I discovered that global-menu was the culprit. Somehow or other it was throwing the CPU into a panic attack and just kept recycling, using up to 98% of the processing. I disabled it and then removed it. :(

But I gather that something similar is set to arrive in Maverick... (Ubuntu 10.10). :)?

Radiance (Ubuntu) theme


Here's a screenshot of one of my laptops with the Radiance theme installed. I think it looks way cool. (I'm actually running Linux Mint Isadora, but of course Mint is built upon Ubuntu.) If you like it too, it's available through synaptic: just search for radiance...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Jolicloud is the new Holy Grail

The biggest reason why I'm keen on Jolicloud 1.0 is because its interface mimics those insanely great Apple iPhone, iPad, and other mobile interfaces. As I've remarked before, the future of the Internet/Web/Mail and the rest is how well desktop environments integrate with mobile environments (this is, for example, why google's WAVE didn't catch on). Jolicloud is built upon Ubuntu so there wasn't much danger of it not working-- but the interface has given it the edge over its competition.

Way back in 1984, when the first Macintosh computer was unveiled to an unsuspecting world, I became an instant fan. Apple's approach has been, indeed, insanely great. But it isn't the hardware or the apps that have brought about the revolution: it was the Human Interface Guidelines that did it. In other words, Apple realised that the user experience is at least as important as the quality of the hardware and software involved. Most users aren't geeks or nerds and don't want to be: they'll happily settle for less speed, power, or whatever, as long as it looks good. The equation is: If it works and it looks good, then it is good.

[At the moment I'm running Jolicloud 1.0 on my Samsung NC10, OSX (of course) and Ubuntu Lucid on my MacBook, and Mint Isadora, Peppermint, and Peppermint Ice on my run-of-the-mill laptop.]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jolicloud 1.0 Final verdict!

Well, I must say I'm impressed. On my Samsung NC10, Jolicloud 1.0 reigns supreme. By comparison, Windows 7 runs like it's moving through molasses, and the snappy i-phone, i-pod, i-pad, i-everything interface works well and also looks way cool on my blue netbook. The only rela gripe I have is disappointment that I can't get the Jolicloud OS to load onto a regular laptop :(

Taiwan's Youth Ambassadors @ Sifundzani

Taiwan's Youth Ambassadors spent a few days at Sifundzani High School last month. It was a good time for all. Here's a pic.


Friday, August 6, 2010

{Google} WAVE R.I.P

So, WAVE is officially dead. Well, I'm neither surprised nor particularly disappointed. It was a good idea, but it didn't work well on mobiles-- and that, I think, is the kiss of death for such technology these days. Actually, a lot of these 'new' technologies remind me of the greatest and most innovative program ever released: Apple's Cyberdog, which was so advanced in its ambition and design that nobody has even yet quite caught up. Unfortunately it was part of Apple's and IBM's OpenDoc initiative which was (for reasons explained elsewhere) killed off by megadeath Microsoft back in c1996.

Bush Fire! [2]

Well, I'm a little tired today, since this is Swaziland and this is Winter and the merry arsonists were at it again last night setting fire to the hillsides. I suppose it's both a feeling-rush of power and also some cheap entertainment for these people. Anyway, sound carries really well at night and at about 11pm I was woken up by the crackling and cackling of a big bush fire. My house is fielded on three sides by raw bush-- acres and acres of it-- so I have to take that sound seriously. A few years ago I was up with my housekeeper fighting a fire most of a night. It almost burnt the house down. I've since built a protecting wall but bush fires are still a threat. Through the night I kept dozing off, waking to check on the progress on the fire, then doze off again. All is well but, as I say, I'm tired today.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jolicloud 1.0

Well, I updated to Jolicloud 1.0 today and so far so good. I do like the uncluttered interface, although it's quite a bit different from the pre-release final version. As with all new things it will take a while to get used to and I think I'll need to play with this latest version for a day or two before I can say whether it will challenge Peppermint for me or not.

And I'm also keen to download an iso of the new OS to install on a laptop to see if it runs well there too... like many users I work on a variety of machines and I like compatibility.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Article on Jiggs and Bushfire!

Here's an article on Jiggs Thorne and his wave-creating Bushfire Festivals, in Afro Style mag. [Thanks to Fanele Love :)] http://www.afrostylemag.com/cover3/articles/Jiggs-Thorne.php

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Soft and Delicate Thunder

soft and delicate thunder

I awoke this morning with desire
to find you there,
to stroke your skin
and smell your hair,
to whisper words as yet unheard
and breathe you deeply in:
to embrace you in a soft and delicate shade of thunder.

You didn't know--
how could you know?
that I was awake
and thinking of you;
but where you were
you stirred
and turned in your sleep
as if something special had occurred
in the journey of your dream, deep
and moving with the soft and delicate longing of thunder.

For who you are
is who I am
and where you are
is where I've been
for all we know
and all we dream
drops from the sky
and swirls with the wind
of our soft and delicate world of thunder.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peppermint Panels

Well, I enjoyed my first run with Peppermint Ice, but the desktop panel display (aka Task Bar) is buggy with both versions of Peppermint. On some machines, it disappears completely after a reboot. On Ubuntu or Mint this wouldn't be so much of a problem, since you could easily create a completely new panel, but with the Peppermints the menu applets available are not many and the default panel display-- once lost-- cannot be recreated. This is an irritating bug.

Otherwise, I have to admit that I'm getting used to Peppermint's alternative logic and will probably keep using it; if the bugs get ironed out then on balance it will be the Iced version because of its Google base.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ice Ice Baby! (Peppermint Ice)

Ubuntu -- Linux Mint -- Peppermint -- Jolicloud -- Peppermint Ice: it's becoming quite a family. This blog post is being written and posted using Peppermint Ice OS, which is the newest baby in this lineage (only a few days old at this point). It's fast, so far stable, and different from Peppermint (no ice) mainly in that it uses Google's Chromium browser and elements rather than Mozilla's Firefox and Prism to create browser-based applets.

The change might be significant. Jolicloud started out by using Mozilla and Prism, then switched to Chromium; Peppermint also began with Prism... and now Ice has arrived, using Chromium.

More on this after a day or two.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Form Determines Content: LP to CD

It's almost become a truism to say that form determines content; that is, any message is altered by the form used to express it. As a Literature teacher I use this phrase regularly. Here today I'm reflecting again on the change from LP to CD and how that has impacted the artwork (by this I mean the total package, sound and liner notes and image) involved.

My selected example is the Beatles' Abbey Road album. I've been listening to the remastered version recently and thinking about the overwhelming shock of silence that comes at the end of the LP's side one. Let me take you back: the last track of side one as originally envisioned and issued was Lennon's I Want You, seven-and-a-half minutes of desire and its aftermath. The band gets into a lazy, compulsive, hypnotic riff that feels like it could go on forever. Apparently-- I remember reading at the time-- The Beatles weren't sure how best to end the track so they simply cut the tape (btw, I later discovered that the South African cassette edition had a fade-out instead: which was a horrible perversion of the original). Well, that sudden silence always came as a shock, and with the original vinyl that shock lingered and bled into a moment or longer of pondering it and indeed some thinking about the whole of side one. You see, the music quite literally stopped at that point. If you wanted to hear some more you had to get up, walk over to the record player, and turn the album over.

In literature terms, the silence was followed by white space-- the space between stanzas or the space of a chapter break. I Want You was intended to be followed by silence.

But this is not so any longer: I Want You is now followed after a very short pause by Here Comes The Sun and the brilliant segueing drama of the album's original side two.

As useful and convenient as this might be, it obviously does damage to the original artwork. It is like repainting a canvas of Renoir's or reshaping a hand of Michaelangelo's David.

Nowadays Abbey Road can be played in the background, on continuous replay, as an aural wallpaper.

This, for sure, is a pity.

On the other hand, of course, Abbey Road becomes almost a new work. That could be a good thing.

In any event, form determines content.

Furthermore, and more obviously, the imagery of the cover doesn't carry the same weight and impact as with the original LP. Abbey Road's cover is now iconic; but the CD age has diminished the power of the packaging. When The Byrds first flew to rarified heights of influence and glory, their leader, Roger McGuinn, said that LPs were 'electronic magazines'. It was a useful way to think of them then. The newer CDs are obviously of a different kind: more pamphlets than magazines.

Blessed are the Noisemakers (vuvuzela 2)

Well, 2010 has come and gone (the world cup, that is) and we wait to define its legacy. One thing is already certain--vuvuzelas are here to stay. The plastic noisemakers have been embraced by the youth and any congregation of students in town, whether for sports or a hip-hop/rap session, is likely to be found wielding them. And, as we all know, most of Swaziland's population is below the age of 19...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tantra-of-Thomas

Just a note that one of my other blogs, Tantra of Thomas, a blog of meditations on the Gospel of Thomas, Tantra, and Zen, is back up and running @ http://tantraofthomas.blogspot.com

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jesus and Buddha: those normal humans!

Here's an interesting idea I thought about recently:we think Jesus and the Buddha (and other spiritual leaders) are abnormal and superhuman but they aren't--they are what humans were intended to be! It's the rest of us that are abnormal!

How to Mxit

I like to smile
and cuddle
and kiss
and

well, it was cold on Thursday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love is never a duality

We are aware of love because we live in a world without it. The world does not know what love is-- its art, its music, its films, its books--it does not recognise love and so it cannot describe it. Love is never a duality; it is not a man and a woman: it is the man and the woman together, a unity, in a place where neither of them any longer exist. In the place where you can no longer tell who is who and which is which, you might find love. Love is beyond the body, love is beyond the mind. Love is beyond duality; it cannot be described in words, for a word always implies its opposite. To say 'I love' means that I can also say 'I hate'. This is not love but just talking. This is liking or lusting; it is desire, not love. Love is beyond such distinctions. Love is beyond words.The world talks of falling in love because it knows also of falling out of love. Love is love. It doesn't have a falling out or a falling in. It deepens but it doesn't run away. It doesn't have valleys or mountaintops because it is the air and the stone and the plants--the very fabric from which the valleys and mountains are made.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Peppermint vs Jolicloud

Ok, I've been trying out these two implementations of a Cloud-based OS, and I like them both. It's amazing how quickly my thinking has adjusted to their different designs. My verdict right now is to use Peppermint for laptops and Jolicloud for networks--but that decision is based primarily on the fact that I can't get Jolicloud to install on anything other than my Samsung NC10, where it works just fine.

Both use online suites of apps-- Google's; and, in Jolicloud's case, Adobe's air.

They differ in interface design and underlying technologies.

Both are built on Ubuntu, but Jolicloud looks more like an iPhone desktop than Ubuntu. Peppermint looks like Linux Mint. Rather than a browser, dedicated panes are used to run web applications: Peppermint uses Mozilla's Prism; Jolicloud uses Google's Chrome.

I have had no problems at all so far with either system (although I'm using the Peppermint respin rather than the initial buggy offering).

Which will be the winner? probably something else entirely, but these are showing the way to go. Recommended.

South Africa 2010 World Cup

Africa, and Africans, are really really hoping that their teams will shine at this year's World Cup. It's more than a matter of pride; it's a belief that somehow history will be corrected. I was in a restaurant/bar in town the other day when a warm-up game was on the TV there. I asked a waitress who she thought would win the game. She looked up at the TV: it showed 'Portugal 0, Mozambique 0'. Without a moment's hesitation she replied, "Mozambique". Her response was representative. [The final result of that game was Portugal 3, Mozambique 0.]

Caffeine @ work

Well, there it is. I checked my Facebook page and a window popped up asking me if I wanted to link my profile to 'things I was interested in'. What the ? I thought. Then I looked at the list-- yes, these are my areas of interest; they have obviously been culled from my blogs over the years. I was amazed: there were things there I had completely forgotten about (I have been blogging for a long time).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Google's Caffeine

There has been widespread (worldspread) concern about Google's collection of data and many are already viewing Google as the 21st Century's Big Brother. I'm personally not so concerned; I'm aware, so I reduce the risks: I don't use credit cards nor do I use Internet Banking and so on. Even so, my footprint is all over the web and there's no way I can ever be anonymous. I'm also aware that a remote computer (running windows, which I don't) can be hacked within 15 minutes of logging on to the net. And Google analytics is running in the background, all the time.

In short, I'm neither naive nor paranoid; I believe the Cloud is a good thing and I embrace it.

But still, I'm staggered by the figures released by Google regarding their new Caffeine engine:
* Caffeine will constantly monitor the web to search, store and index information
* It will process information in parallel, not in linear fashion (which means thousands of
pages--like this one--at once) every second
* the database can hold 100 million GB of information

Blowing the 2010 trumpet (vuvuzela)

Today, in the UK Times, there is this comment: "Shame on the visiting footballers and coaches who, before the World Cup has even begun, are whining about the noise made by vuvuzelas, the metre-long plastic trumpets with which South African football fans serenade and spur on their team!"
The sound made by the vuvuzelas is in fact entirely appropriate since it is South Africa that is hosting the football World Cup. It is exactly the sound familiar to gentlemen like President Zuma, who, as a past herdboy, will know the sound intimately; it is the sound made by cows in the field--deep and indeed deeply monotonous. But that's what you get from cows. In case people don't remember, this region is rooted on cow culture: the structure and shape of homesteads (kraals), the use of cow manure for a variety of things, the notion of cows being a sign of wealth--even for paying marriage dowry (lobola). And as a vegetarian I can personally attest to the multitude of dishes that involve cuts and pieces of cow. I'm not particularly a fan either, but come Friday my ears will also be ringing to that sound.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rocking in the not-yet free world

In another Swazi-MTN skim (a skim is a scam perpetuated solely for the purpose of making money) we discover that 'Free Access' means that you still pay for it. On your mobile, log on to FB through O.facebook.com [not m.facebook.com]. You should see, up at the top left, 'Free Access by MTN'. Then logout/exit and discover that you have been charged anyway. :-(( No wonder Swazi-MTN is doing all it can to retain its monopoly. Repeat after me: 'Monopolies are bad things...monopolies are bad things...' etc. Then bang your head against the nearest wall.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bad things can be good for you

Who said bad things can't be good? There are three great things about being sick: 1. It shows that your body's warning systems are still working; 2. It really, really makes you appreciate being well; and 3. It reminds you to re-read Chesterton's wonderful essay, 'On the advantages of having one leg.'

Monday, May 31, 2010

relationships come with strings

Every relationship comes with strings attached. When you meet a person, your energies make contact and they either attract or repel. But more than that, every relationship is like putting a plug into a wall socket (with sexual relationships this is literally so). Just as a plug has both a negative and a positive connector, so it is with people and creatures; when you connect with a person there is always a transfer of energies: you get both the positive and the negative from them--the good and the bad, the happiness and the sadness, the successes and the problems. You also give both your good and your bad. For this reason a relationship can literally bless you or curse you.
Is this a bad thing? No; this is just the way it is. But it is wise to think or at least reflect before you leap. For example, there might be a beautiful woman who obviously desires you, but you notice that she has a drinking habit. In the time it takes you to down one glass of wine, she usually drinks two or three strong ciders. You consider this a problem; she doesn't consider it a problem. If you pursue the relationship, her non-problem will become your big problem and you also most likely will end up paying for it in one way or another. But if you hold back, stay at the level of just acquaintances, there is no problem at all because her drinking is not your issue. Of course, you can still go ahead if you wish, but at least you have warned yourself and are aware.
Relationships travel with you forever and that is why all the sacred texts say that love is what will last. When we die, we don't die. It is only the suits of meat that we inhabit for a short while that die. And even they don't die; they just change form. All the energy that we are continues in some other form, somewhere, because energy cannot be destroyed. We're not puppets, but puppet-masters. Make sure you notice the strings.

and now... Peppermint!

Time really rushes by, doesn't it? I remember, as if yesterday, when I first tried Ubuntu and got horribly rendered screens and graphics and fonts because the system couldn't deal with my hardware's graphic cards. I tried a few others as well at that time, and the only desktop OS that actually seemed to work was Linux Mint's Bianca release. Now Ubuntu is up to Lucid and Mint is offering Isadora--and both are very good and very accomplished. They're both so good that I double boot my machines these days. [I like Suse as well, natch, but KDE isn't my choice at the moment and the Ubuntu distros are keenly Gnome.] Anyway, Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is a lot of the reason I love them both; and now there is a distro based on Mint. It's cloud-organised and called Peppermint (www.peppermintos.com).
I'm using it at the moment, and it's fast. It's neither Gnome nor KDE, but XFCE/OpenBox--which is interesting, and accounts for some of the speed--but already I like it. It comes with links to frequently-used sites like Facebook, Google Mail and YouTube already factored in, and Dropbox is there too. UbuntuOne is not there (it isn't on Mint either--because they're 'competition'?) but One is easy to install through Synaptic.
I've been using Peppermint for a few days, and it's been fine and friendly so far. The only issue I've had is with OpenBox and the Desktop (but it's a minor issue) and I've installed Arora as the browser rather than Firefox, which has become sluggish on Ubuntu and Mint of late.
It's a small OS to download and runs with a very small footprint. Try it. These are early days, but Peppermint could be built to last.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Whitney in Swaziland



I came across this old photo the other day. It's of Whitney Houston in traditional Swazi clothing. I don't remember when this was... but she did visit for 1 day....

When the Grass Suffers

There's a saying in Africa that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. That's a good description of what's happening at the moment in the world of Swaziland's telecommunications: Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications (SPTC) are fighting with Swazi MTN. And what are they fighting about? The usual-- who gets the chance to make the grass suffer. Unfortunately the Kingdom is riddled with monopolies (they are the norm here) and corruption is widespread (especially because the monopolies will do whatever it takes to retain their monopolies).
SPTC recently introduced a 'fixed cell' (i.e., not mobile) service, and a lot of people have signed up for it because it is workable and ostensibly cheaper than Swazi MTN. Now, just a few weeks into the new service, MTN are crying that their profits are suffering and they are seeking legal action to regain their monopoly.
Swazi MTN have no customer loyalty at all nor any business acumen when it comes to competition: so their response is not unexpected, but it is so akin to a baby wailing and shaking its rattle that the public is unmoved. But the outcome will no doubt be that the grass will be the ultimate loser here. Natch.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Same old, same old

T.I. I'm Back review

He should have stayed away. I enjoy tunes, singers, guitars, harmonies--songs. This ain't got none of that. It ain't music. So, as far as I'm concerned, fuhgettit.

Actually, what I'm really tired of is walking into any bar or similar place in town and finding the same old same old channel O everywhere. The same old stuff on the same old everyday (predictable) rotation, the same old sound and the same old visuals: for me a blanket denial that humanity has any creativity or talent or beauty apart from what big business wants to sell to the masses. Rant, rant, rant... but maybe channel O helps pay the rent (?).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mobile Facebook--a cheaper option

Hm. Interesting. Yesterday I fired up Opera mini on my Nokia N73 and entered O.facebook.com in the address bar; I was redirected to m.o.facebook.com, which loaded quickly and looks good. I then checked a few notifications and logged out.
The whole logging on and checking cost me 11 cents.
Apparently, one reason for the new O.facebook.com service is for mobile users to save money (and therefore increase Facebook traffic and continue the move towards world dominance) and this does seem to be the case. Previously, logging on to m.facebook.com would cost 27 cents, so 11 cents is a 50% saving. However, this is still more expensive than mxit's 06 cents. Mxit though is a clever java app with a very small footprint, so I suppose it will always be a better chatting option than Facebook, but the two together is still my choice for keeping up with friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

poop power (Swazi cow!)



I wrote here some years back about the film Soylent Green and how the idea of recycling dead bodies for food and energy was ethically abhorrent but a viable business proposition. Then there was California's plan to recycle dog manure. Now comes HP's investigation into the possibilities of using cow manure to power computers (the article is here).

This is highly interesting news for us here in Swaziland, since one thing we do have an abundance of is cow culture; cows are food, cows are wealth, cows are lobola (dowry/bride-price payment). Cow dung is also, literally easy to find and scoop up (perhaps too easy: a politician got himself into a lot of trouble a few years back for scooping up some sacred cow dung--true story).

We've been investigating the use of sugarcane for energy/ethanol production; now we have another road to follow!

O.facebook.com/fb.me



Facebook has launched a new mobile site: O.facebook.com, though probably it won't be available here (in SD) just yet. They've also begun shortening 'facebook.com' to 'fb.me' (this is URL shortening: it helps with addresses and searches etc). Try it out. Type 'fb.me' into your browser's address bar.

Mozambique Fashion Week 2009




Yes, I know I should have uploaded these pics a while ago but you know how it is... anyway, better late than never 8-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Explode with joy!

As you sow, so shall you weep... or explode with joy. It all depends on what you sow. But if you don't sow, you can't grow... and so... your life will remain fallow, shallow with unexplored, undeveloped, unknown and unclaimed possibilities. The real way to live is to look for adventure by exploring into uncharted lands and waters, always expecting the wonder and fulfillment that is your human birthright. Life is not meant to be so-so but sow-sow that you shall reap and be blessed, by becoming a blessing to yourself an' all. Explode with joy, boy! Explode with joy, girl! Let your life unfurl and allow the wind of the spirit to fill your sails. Sail on, boys and gals, sail on!

There's no cure (be careful)


Be careful. There's no cure, no antidote, no forwarding address, for love. Be careful. How many hearts do you want to break? She has no money but still buys you chocolates; she has no dreams but dreams of you. Be careful. You are the song in her heart, in her mind, in her soul. You are every love song she hears on the radio. You are even the milk in her fridge. You think that's a joke? How many hearts do you want to break? Yours? There are no winners, no losers, only future children standing naked on the bridge; only cats and dogs howling in the sun and rain and every night the wind comes with the sound of pain every time you lie alone. And by your side, like a pill or a gun, lies the phone, asking you to call, always asking for you to call. Be careful. The pill and the gun can truly end it all. Do you really want to mix it, have those red red kisses throbbing for you in the dark? Do you really want to send all those smileys, or go online to book a face and upload that picture of you in the park? Be careful. There's no cure, no antidote, no forwarding address, for love. It's a dangerous game to call for a name. Late at night, when the wind comes moaning in the empty silence between two lonely heartbeats, and there's nowhere to run, be careful.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Omega Man/ I am Legend


Now that I've finished reading/re-reading the original 1954 novel, the relationship between the novel and the film versions is clearer:
1. elements of the novel do appear in the films, but the films are quite drastic reworkings of the original;
2. key elements, such as vampirism and eroticism, are played down;
3. the ending is altered from the original 'end of the human race' to 'a hero arises to save the human race';
4. the original bacterial warfare idea is transmuted (do you like that word?) into a viral one.

These are all significant alterations. Obviously, changing the form (novel to film) of necessity alters the content (cf McLuhan), and the original psychological approach cannot work filmistically (do you like this word?) so I'm not complaining here, just observing.

Personally, I have enjoyed all three, for all three do what good sci-fi should do-- they echo, reverberate, haunt the mind so that we keep thinking about the plot, themes, characters, and so on, long after we've watched or read the art.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I am Legend (2007)

Because I've been reading Matheson's 1954 novel I am Legend, I've also been rewatching the films made from it; as usual, the more times you watch, the more details you notice that you didn't notice before. My most recent rerun of the 2007 I am Legend (with Will Smith) film found me picking up more detail about Bob Marley and his immortal music.

My first thought was an obvious one--that the Marley 'Best Of' compilation that Neville claims is "the best album ever made" is, of course, Legend. [This compilation has been superseded since the film was made, but it's still an outstanding compilation.] Then there is Neville's fascinating statement that he, as a virologist, associates with Marley because Marley believed reggae is a music and culture that can spread goodness, peace and righteous health through the world like a positive virus.

This thinking got me listening to Marley again, and also to my favourite reggae artist, Cocoa Tea. I love Tea's vocals. Anyway, on Tea's One Up album (1993) he actually has a song called Virus which includes the lines: 'Reggae is like a virus/ some say it's outrageous/ it's definitely contagious/ it's spreading all over the world'. Apparently, what it's spreading is understanding and harmony.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

gossip

I've spent a lot of time teaching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and amongst the many phrases and speeches that now inhabit my mind is Capulet's stinging put-down of the Nurse: "Smatter with your gossips, go!"
Gossipping is a universal human trait, isn't it? It's the core of TV soaps and probably the very root of story-telling in its most basic form.
But the word gossip derives (like gospel) from Christian associations: it was originally godsibbs, i.e., godparents. Because godparents looked out for your welfare and often told stories about you (especially when you were still a babe), the word came to be connected with friends and acquaintances and the stories that they tell about the people they know. Add a little bit of morphing with the spelling, and there you have it--our modern gossip.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I am Legend (1954) preliminary review

I'm about half-way through Matheson's 1954 pulp, I am Legend and must say it's very readable racy stuff. It's also rather different than the two film versions I've seen (Omega Man and I am Legend).

Two things are immediately noticeable regarding the plot and the way it's organised: in the novel the character spends a lot of time researching garlic, crosses, etc--the usual vampire props. That might have been interesting in the 1950s but isn't these days: the bio/virus/lab parts of the recent (2007) film are a positive and much more convincing improvement; on the other hand, the protagonist, Robert Neville, is much more of a man in the novel. His wife and daughter are dead, and the creatures who see him as their prey regularly try to tempt him sexually, knowing that he's vulnerable in this regard. In fact, the novel has an eroticism that shimmers below its surface and accounts for much of the characters' tensions. In both films this element is played down almost to the point of extinguishing it altogether. OK, so both Charlton Heston and Will Smith notice shop mannequins but not much is made of it. In the novel, Neville is aching for female company. This human element, this identification with the main character, is one of the reasons why this particular novel has survived. The story is also well-paced and structured, so that reading becomes compulsive-- another plus.

I like Google, but...

"If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place."

- Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

Google has "an awful lot of data. They record everything. They have your IP address, your search requests, the contents of every e-mail you’ve ever sent or received. They know the news you read, the places you go. They’re even collecting real-time GPS location and DNS look-ups. They know who your friends are, where you live, where you work, where you are spending your free time. They know about your health, your love life, your political leanings. They even know what you are thinking about."

- Marlinspike

http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=6291&tag=nl.e550

At the Salon (revised)

At the Salon

I think the Serpent was a hairdresser

at the Eden Tree Salon

where Eve went one time

to get some styling done.

Whilst he was rewiring her roots

he gossipped about the fruits

hanging juicy and ripe

outside on the tree.

Moreover the day was probably hot

and Eve forgot

to pack a lunch-box that morning.

Sitting on a stone chair

without underwear

(this was before she wore clothes, you see)

the day wore on

and Eve was yawning

by the time he'd finished her hair.

The fruit was hanging there,

the temptation was great,

so she altered her fate:

instead of singing Hosanna

she chose the banana.

(You didn't really think it was an apple,

did you?)

From there all Heaven broke loose;

our modern world began:

clothes, work and babies' nappies—

and following women around

shopping malls too.

But hey,

I think it's a shame

that Eve gets all the blame:

yes, the memory lingers

and men keep pointing fingers

but maybe it was just a really bad hair day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flag Day 2010

Today is Flag Day but since this year it falls on a sunday, tomorrow is the public holiday. I don't know if flag days, or even national flags, are good things-- do they encourage tribalism and division, racism and xenophobia? What about one human race, one global village? Anyway, flag day is always for me the anniversary of meeting a very close friend so I celebrate it. Mind you, today is cloudy and very cold here so I think most people will lie long in bed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Legendary Pulp Fiction


Richard Matheson, I Am Legend, 1954, published in paperback

Does a book need to be 'literature' to influence the world? Matheson's 1950s pulp novel has already been filmed 3 times and is generally regarded as the touchstone of zombie stories in the same way that Bram Stoker is always invoked whenever the discussion centres on vampires. (Ironically, Matheson apparently considered his novel to be a vampire novel.) Whatever the sub-sub-genre, like Dracula, I Am Legend has captured the popular imagination.

But it's not literature! Maybe not (whatever that means), but it has captured the public imagination.

There's a lot of snobbery in this writing/teaching/publishing/lecturing business. When I was at college, one of my Literature Professors told me that Leslie Charteris (who wrote the hugely popular The Saint novels which then became a successful TV series that launched Roger Moore's career) lived nearby. I asked if Charteris was then coming into college to talk to us. The Professor said that Charteris only wrote "pulp fiction" so no-one would ever invite him. I thought that was a pity then and still think so now. The man could clearly write and write clearly and that in itself is a major achievement. His writing caught the popular imagination. Given a chance, I would rather write one novel that captured the popular imagination than two that were praised by critics as 'literature' but inspired no-one.

Orwell had a phrase for popular pulp (which I believe he acquired from Chesterton): he called them 'good bad novels'. Into this category we can also place one of Africa's greatest, Jagua Nana by Ekwensi. I like, I like, I like.

*Download I Am Legend (pdf): http://www.filestube.com/fef7c0f782ff20b903e9/go.html

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creating EVENTS

Creating EVENTS

When I sit down to write a story, play, or novel, I begin with CHARACTERS. I put my CHARACTER(S) in a setting and watch what happens. For example, I notice that both Keith and Robert met and became friends at school and are now businessmen but no longer friends. This is because Robert's business is successful but Keith's isn't. Keith is resentful and jealous of Robert's success. There are three possible THEMES here: friendship, business success, and jealousy.

Together, the CHARACTERS and THEMES give me a list of EVENTS: for example,

1. Keith spreads rumours that Robert uses underhand business methods

2. Robert hears what Keith is doing and refuses to speak to him, ending their friendship

3. Keith and Robert both played in their high school football team

4. At school Keith was keen on Wendy Pirbright but she dated Robert instead

5. When Keith's business is on the point of being declared bankrupt Robert offers to help Keith out

6. At Robert's wedding to Wendy, Keith meets Wendy's attractive younger sister

and so on. These are EVENTS, and therefore a writing plan, but they aren't yet a story because they have to be shaped--put into a sequence; this is what we call PLOT. For instance, you might decide that the story should begin with Keith and Robert still friends at high school, or you might decide to begin with Keith losing Wendy to Robert or with Keith spreading rumours or... Whatever you choose, it means ordering the EVENTS. The order is the PLOT and when the EVENTS have been written in their desired order you have a story.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How To Write A Novel

How to write a novel

I'm currently working on my 14th book, and I'm regularly asked for advice and help on how to write so I thought I'd set this down. This is what works for me, how I do it:

1. Write the OUTLINE of your story--a summary that includes at least one problem/conflict to be solved/resolved and at least one theme.

2. Detail your SETTING--this is the where and when your story happens.

3. Detail your CHARACTER(S)--this is who drives the story; you should also decide who is telling the story: is it the main character, another character or someone outside the story?

4. List your EVENTS--these are the moments of the story, e.g., Robert hits Keith, Thuli gossips about Futhi etc.

5. Plot your EVENTS--that is, decide in which order you will show the events to your readers; this is the shape of the story.

6. Decide on your main THEME(S)--this will determine the slant/bias/perspective you use in your revealing of the events.

7. Begin WRITING.

8. Keep WRITING--set a manageable target for yourself: 3 pages, one page, one paragraph to be written every day until the story is finished.

9. EDIT/REWRITE until you're happy with what you've got.

10. CIRCULATE copies of your story to a few readers and ask them to give you feedback.

11. Write the OUTLINE of a new story.

10.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dangerous Women

I grew up on the songs of the Eagles; they were the band that got me through college and still brighten my days. I actually met them once, when they were in London recording 'Desperado', their second album. This was around the time they played a gig in London's Royal Festival Hall, a small venue.

I love the harmonies and the guitars but what made the Eagles big were of course the songs--and they're not typical love songs; they're mostly songs about love that has been lost and women that can burn you even as they make your life meaningful. The women are there right from the first Eagles song any of us ever heard: Take It Easy.

I teach a lesson on the lyrics to two of these dangerous women songs: One Of These Nights and Hotel California: 'the full moon is calling/ the fever is high/ the wicked wind whispers and moans... dreams/ screams...been searching for the daughter of the Devil himself/ I've been searching for an Angel in white/ I've been waiting for a woman who's a little of both/ and I can feel her but she's nowhere in sight'. Wow! Always wow! The alliteration, imagery, symbolism and the always human pull of the dark side. This was the band's most creative period and the time of their international breakthrough to stadium superstardom. Well-crafted songs: lasting works of art; stories of dangerous women.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Great, but forgotten writers:1:Frank Yerby



Frank Yerby was a great writer according to any criteria you might choose: he was the first black author to have a novel published and then filmed by Hollywood; he published 33 novels in his career as a novelist; and he sold around 75 million books.

75 million is a lot of books: proof indeed that Yerby had a lot of readers.

Yet his name is not known these days--most of his novels can be picked up quite cheaply in second-hand shops or at fete stalls and the like. Why is this? Probably because Yerby wrote to entertain his readers, not to please critics: his books are not the kind that get prescribed as 'literature'. But they make wonderful reading. The characters are strong and leap from the page: villains are truly nasty (and usually powerful and rich) and heroes are those with good hearts and honest values who stand up against the villains and win through in the end. I discovered Yerby's novels whilst still a teenager and the feeling of joy that I got from reading them has never left me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The One I Missed

Einstein wrote that the best musical audience is one that can appreciate Mozart's Piano Concerti, implying of course that Mozart's Piano Concerti comprise the best music there is. When I was a student I was fortunate enough to buy a box set of the complete concerti (in an Oxfam or other charity shop): I think it was Anda's cycle.

Since then I've lived with these works and heard them performed by most of the great pianists--Ashkenazy, Brendel, Bilson, et al. All of them--from the Jeunehomme onwards--are great works, though my favourites are K466 onwards.

Imagine then my disappointment that I missed the greatest concert of all time! It was of K466, the Dminor, in December 1794: the soloist was a certain Ludwig Van Beethoven. No matter that I wasn't yet born--I'm still disappointed that I missed it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Silent witnesses

What a way to start a day! I'm sitting in the dining room eating breakfast; my housekeeper is watching the world go past our house. This is what we do every morning. Then, Hawu! she suddenly exclaims. I look left through a window and see a Toyota 4x4 come through my fence, flip upside down, and start rolling rapidly towards my house. By now, the housekeeper is screaming; I'm rooted to my chair, watching the vehicle rolling, my adrenalin racing.
There are people inside the vehicle.
I watch the Toyota turn a few more times then come to a dead stop before a tree stump, ten metres in front of my house.
Miraculously the people survived.
Very quickly there's a crowd by my yard. Then an ambulance arrives; a man from the newspaper arrives; and finally a policeman arrives. The policeman explains that this accident had caused another one a little further down the hill.
Half-an-hour later the people from the car are on their way to the hospital, the crowd has gone, the police and newspaper men are gone; only the broken fence and battered vehicle remain as silent witnesses to the morning's drama.

Friday, March 5, 2010



New Ubuntu Look:

after years of mud (read 'brown' look), the next Ubuntu rollout-- Lucid --
will have a new look. The DarkTheme, which is similar to the one I use now (on Mint), and the LightTheme, which reminds me of my Macbooks:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It might have been a Wednesday

It might have been a Wednesday

There was a loose button on your blouse and you, bra-less, beneath it. You didn't know, but that loose button unbuttoned my soul, led me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and brought me, cup overflowing, into the Red House of Everlasting Life. Yes, I know it sounds dramatic; but sometimes it's the little things that make your day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Everywhere, books

She calls it juicing the fruit, says everyone should do it.
"But it's risky, isn't it?" I asked.
"Nothing's risky. Or everything is."
"Banned in the book of Deuteronomy."
"Probably."
"Certainly."
"Not in private."
"Here isn't private."
We were in the back of a bookshop: dusty dust-covers, sagging shelves, second-hand books about second-hand love or forbidden triangles. Everywhere, books; everywhere, shelves screening us from the door where the old man was drowsy in the afternoon heat. Apart from us and the old man the shop was empty.
"Do you know that poem by Cavafy?" she asked, "in the shop?"
"I know it," I said.
"And the one in the taverna?"
"A divine July was blazing."
"Yes," she said. "Yes."
"Public places."
"Private passions."
Cavafy, yes. The old man of Alexandria, the great poet of desire, the desire of minds mastered by the heat of the day and the heat of the flesh.
"I wonder if there's any Cavafy here?" I said.
"Don't change the subject," she said.
We weren't in the shop for more than forty minutes. At some point it began raining: fat, moist summer drops spattering the shop's windows and disturbing the dust of the quiet street outside.
When we left I asked the bookseller if he had anything by Cavafy. Either he didn't understand or else he misunderstood. If we wanted coffee, we could get it further down the road, he said.

Monday, February 15, 2010

16th February

Outside, a grass-cutting-machine drones like a giant bee and a lonely far-off bird sings; just next door, a child cries, a mother shouts, and a phone rings; on the page before me Carrol's Walrus and the Carpenter still speak of cabbages and kings; but I, skittish, cannot concentrate on any of these things, because I am thinking of you and wishing you were here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brown

She was a brown girl, dressed in brown; her friend was dressed in pink. I wasn't planning on staying, but she forced me to rethink: it wasn't the ambience and it wasn't the place--I've always been a victim for a pretty face.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Touch

Touch

"You're dangerously pretty," I said. "Dangerous to all, even yourself. But especially to me." That she was pretty was easy to see but the danger that lurked behind her eyes was dimmed, even in sunlight. It isn't right, I thought, that beauty should present such a risk.

"But you're here," she said. "You needn't have stayed."

"You wanted me to," I replied. It was true; it was in her eyes.

We left the bar; went to the car. Then I drove a way, but not too far.

"I hear you're famous," she said. "You're dangerous too. And you like pretty women."

"What man doesn't?" I said. "It's the way we're made."

The shadows were crawling across the park. They were mostly long and thin, like stretched fingers without knuckles and without nails. Already they had reached the perimeter wall and the more-than-two-years-old graffiti that was scrawled there, acclaim for a once-popular political leader who was now discredited. 'Viva X!' it proclaimed. That was all.

In the car, we sat side-by-side, silently, almost as if we were afraid to breathe. Perhaps we were. We were both waiting for something to happen, waiting for life to intervene.

"Touch me and I'll scream," she said. "Don't touch me and I'll die."

What else could I do? I took a deep breath. And. Touched. Her.

=-=-=-=-=
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Distressing Indeed!

Just found this quote: "What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult." [Sigmund Freud] 'Nuff said!

=-=-=-=-=
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kaena avatar

Oh, and the CGI of Avatar reminds me of Kaena. I suppose everything builds on what has gone before. Anyway, despite its borrnwings~ a bit of zen here, a splat of green movement there~ Avatar is big enough and complex enough to entertain n ponder on for many viewings.

Emerald avatar

The more I watch Avatar, the more I think of John Boorman's 'Emerald Forest'. Is that because of the ecological theme, the tribal theme, the Corporate Greed theme or because the central character falls in love with a girl and her exotic culture? Or all of these together? I haven't figured that one out yet.

Browser Wars (new edition) Opera alpha


The Browser Wars continue with Opera's "pre-alpha" release 10.5. Basically this a techie/geek release--not for real everyday use, not even really for testing--just to show off some new stuff; but it's FAST! Faster even than Google's Chrome. Because it's an unfinished release, pix are not fully rendered, but there's a gr8 r-click tool that enables you to open any open page in another browser of your choice [I've been wanting this feature to reappear since I first used it with Cyberdog back in 1986 or so]. If you're up for some fun, try it out. Available now (as they say) from Opera's site.

Dirty Dancing 2017 is a reworking, not a remake or reboot, and it's ok

Do you remember Michael Bolton's Timeless: The Classics album? And do you still cringe? There's a reason why classics are classics...