Two am Nothingness

Friday, September 30. 2005
You cause me to dream
You made me forget
All I remembered was all
You wanted to leave me with
Wish I could read your mind --

So well played.

The front of the storm is here. Sends people running on their way, over the streets, hoping and rushing.
The rain drives then stops. Picks up and pushes back. Don't get caught. Don't fall under.
She won't feel you but you'll never be the same. Nature without remorse. Wasn't my fault.

Wasn't my fault.
Or him. Or her.

we won't get home tonight.

In other words,
Stabbed and torn,

In other words,
an end and a start.

Written on the back of a lyric sheet, scrawls from a cafe I never go to

Tuesday, September 27. 2005
Damn, you see what I mean? The J used to be that brittle and acerbic all the time. Imagine what this place would be like now if he hadnt mellowed out.

Six post rule? Bancho, youre all thats stopping me attempting to break that into little tiny pieces.

A note, before I continue, on the relevance of what I usually write. The maturing process is long and the selective recall much further ingrown than I will likely admit. I dont seem to write about current events and rarely make my posts until something is over. Maybe thats where the J got that line about eulogising. Either way, this is where my head was at about six weeks or so ago.

you are the shine in my eyes
you are the opening sounds
of all those songs you moved to
faster and stronger all and all
you are the shine on your lips
that did all that but never followed
through with the words, the words
You are the call of things
and places and animals I only ever saw
far off or visited for not long enough
you are something special and you know it,
yeah, true and told.
you are an angel
or a demon
says more of me than you that I cant tell
when I finish this it will be too late
to find out sos the pity, the chance
you are a chance at so many things
but most of all
you are you, and you are spectacular
annoying awesome and gorgeous.

maybe Ill see you again.

Thats nothing. I can only get better, right? Whats it about, what brings this on? There was some confusion about a recent posting that I dont want to clarify, because of the mystique and all, but logic tells me I really should. The above, and similar, are not truth so much as truth mixed up. Theres some truth in there, some of which is actual fact and things that have happened, other parts of this truth are true inside my head, yet more is true for someone else and I just saw it happen.

Big screams to the J for making this place look a bit cooler, because it looks cool.

Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is.
Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids.

Join me again for more tomorrow. Just come late. Real late.

Mixed bag

Monday, September 26. 2005
A mixed weekend. Friday night we went out to play pool - a whole bunch of us. Franky and Xiao Lu, and Aaron and his room-mates and a girlfriend came along, so we have enough for four teams playing doubles. It was a less than satisfying night though because the skill level was down through the floor and it took the best part of an hour to play two games. The room-mates all took off after that leaving Aaron with us. Aaron is going through a bit of a rough spot with Daniella, who didn't come out because of said rough spot. (Aaron hope you don't mind this being out here.) Anyway after a few beers, some talks about the situation and one of those punching bag machines, Aaron had managed to fill a knuckle with blood. We iced it and that seemed to keep it down. I was only semi-worried until he mentioned that it felt weird to move. Aaron had previously broken the same hand and at the time thought nothing of it; it was a couple of days later that he finally got to the doctor. The wait meant that he required a metal plate in his hand. I didn't fancy a repeat episode so we bundled him in a taxi and took him down the ER for an X-ray, dragging Daniella out in the process. It was about 3:30am by this time. I don't really know if it was good or bad for their situation because I haven't really heard since.

Fortunately Aaron's hand was fine, but I did get to see a cool X-ray of the metal plate in his hand.

Saturday we stayed in because we planned to go to Yangmingshan National Park, a mountain just north of Taipei. Despite going to bed really early, I had a bout of insomnia and didn't get to sleep till about 4am.

This meant we got up pretty late today, and we didn't get to the mountain till about 2pm. It was a great day, even if we didn't have time for everything. The secenery is spectacular and despite a large number of people it feels very relaxing - not like Taipei. I'll do a proper update soon.

I believe this is six consecutive posts, and under house rules I'm required to retire until one of the other so-called authors shows up and scratches in the dirt. Until then, you can look at this picture, which has nothing to do with anything except my awesomeness.
Mist over the Kowloon Ferry Terminal


Friday, September 23. 2005
Dragon skin 6.0 up. Expect further tweaking in the coming weeks as time and sleep permits. Comments welcome.

Visited the Taiwan Beer Bar last night, which is part of the brewery. Details soon.

The Motorcycle Diaries

Monday, September 19. 2005
This isn't exactly new(s) but I've been waiting till I got some photos to post this. I suppose I'll be told that this is one step removed from posting pics of my cat.

I bought a proper motorbike. I'm not hiring the scooter anymore. It's a 1995 Sanyang Husky, which is a tooling of some forgotten Honda.

Don't be fooled by those decals on the fuel tank - it ain't no V-four Magna. It's probably the antithesis in fact - it's 150cc single. Yeah, I know, not exactly what you'd expect in a cruiser-style bike but this is Taiwan and until recently, engines were small. Those decals will be coming off soon anyway.

I bought it for a couple of reasons - I realised that I could purchase a bike for less than I would pay in 12 months to rent the scooter, and still be able to sell it off when I was done. I was looking for something that was a bit more fun than a scooter, with a proper transmission, a bit more go and a bit safer. Those scooters have little wheels and crappy brakes. I found though, that going from the scooter to the Husky made me appreciate bike, and going from the bike to the scooter made me appreciate the light weight and agility of the scooter. I also miss the utility of the underseat storage and footboard.

The bike itself was pretty cheap, but I'm already itching to make some changes. Bore and piston kit to 180cc, up the compression ratio, new CDI and spark plugs, twin-spot caliper and bigger front disk, fatter tyres, new carburetor... I've already added some panniers. Consider it an experiment in wealth reduction.

Festival of Meat

Sunday, September 18. 2005
This weekend was the Chinese Moon Festival. Modern celebrations of the Moon festival of course include viewing the moon on the night it is full, eating lots of moon cakes, and barbecuing everything. Saturday and Sunday, everywhere you go there are smoky charcoal grills with people squatting around them, burning pieces of meat. The air is ripe with it.

Last night we had a barbecue at Bob Wun Daye. It was very successful and a whole bunch of people came, there was live music and there was much barbecuing. In fact I think I'm all barbecued out. Yet, tonight we're having a barbecue at my place. You're invited if you're in the neighbourhood. We're gonna drink some beer, smoke the neighbours out, listen to some music and have a good time. Yes, it's gonna be a good time, as surely as the hangover from last night will wear off.

Ah, the Festival of Meat. If we could just make it to a beach, that'd be perfect.

Folk happens

Sunday, September 18. 2005
White guys leave their whitebread world and go traveling. They get to somewhere, like Taiwan, where the talent pool is shallow. They buy cheap acoustic guitars. They smoke up. They can play a few chords. All of a sudden they seem pretty talented because no one else is playing. They start thinking they are talented. They play their acoustic guitars, the form stupid acoustic duos and sing stupid folk songs. This is how folk happens.

Nu Skool III

Saturday, September 17. 2005
My school has made some odd choices in regards to its foreign teachers. I dont mean to imply that the staff are incapable, but you need to understand the prejudices that exist in the world of English teaching in Asia.

Its a complex dynamic in Taiwan there is apparently an almost endless supply of opportunities to teach. You are valued for your firsthand experience and knowledge of your mother language. At least, thats how it looks on paper. Most foreign English teachers earn more money than their local counterparts, not to mention most office workers too. And they earn it in far fewer hours to boot.

It starts getting tricky because the only qualification we need to (legally) teach in Taiwan is a Bachelors Degree. You can see how locals with degrees in Early Childhood Education and so on feel some jealousy toward white monkeys.

Parents in particular tend to believe that it is better to learn from a foreigner who (in most but not all cases) speaks better English than a local. However, being able to speak a language fluently is not a guarantee of understanding the mechanics of that language, let alone being able to teach them to somebody.

Schools of course use their teachers for face. To have an array of bright, funny-looking whiteys is great for enrolments. Were getting close to the crux of what Im talking about. What isnt said is that if you are black, yellow, or some other colour, it doesnt matter if you have a dual Masters in Education and English Literature you wont get hired. Youre not useful for face.

At my school though, we have two Canadians of Asian descent and a Afrikaner. One of the Canadians is the head teacher too. Pretty amazing really. I hear stories of ABCs (American-born Chinese) and what not taking jobs and earning only local wages. Sounds crazy to me.

Theres plenty that isnt so unusual about my school. Theres an American teacher who threw a hissy fit the other day, at two of his co-teachers. His complaint was that they were talking in Chinese. Pretty petty, but I know that when youre frustrated, a language you dont understand can be a camel-breaking straw. Ive seen it from both sides and I understand the feeling, but it doesnt excuse attacking your colleagues in front of everyone.

Man, all this thinking about work reminds me I need to get real paid.

Tokyo Tales [crowded streets crowded prose]

Monday, September 12. 2005
Escaped Commitment

One bar to the next, thats all it takes. One club to another, thats all you gave. Jump, hop, spin, grab; the lights a blinding, this drink is finished. Look here, look there, no longer even notice the smell. One dark stairway to another, yet another throbbing strobe, even more throbbing bass. How many times do we fall? Fall into a flickering led, gliding greens and blues and yellows and reds, back to green; back to the glass, back to the dress, then that skirt, then that one over there Look, shes almost falling out of her top, oh man, I dont think shes even wearing underwear

Faster slower, closer, closer; here there. What nerve, my nerves all gone. Did I just feel like falling asleep? Were still standing, moving, grinding, sliding, grabbing; faster, faster, slower Slower, again, again, here, there Time for another drink, come to the bar already, before we fall

Power up on midnight, already charged, the dawn will either come too quick or way too late, this ritual? Ritual? Nah, that means there are rules. The only rule is youre with me as long as Im with you and here, in this here and now, thats all I need. Dont care about you, dont like your makeup and no, get your own drink. Someone will get me the next one, she gets me for the duration. Someone will take you, love, because its only two thirty and this is the high point, the new nexus as we all look like vampires. Fear the morning because we take the night and someone will take you, but not out of this place. The stairway is the boundary, at least until next weekend.

Stumble, trip, grab that rail, grab that drink, grab that girl. You were looking at me before and youve been looking better and better for hours now. Time to go home? Not on your life, this place doesnt rest and I am far from over, this nights far from over, you are far Far from over. The street feels harder, the air feels colder, my head feels hotter. Down or up? I cant tell anymore and I dont think you can either, um, whatever your name was. Never told you mine, so take my hand instead, works better that way.

Cant believe we made it this far. Get what I can, now its time to leave. Time to leave, get the numbers, finish someones drink and back out into that eternal oblivion we call the street. Fuckin hell, its bright out here

Ill escape. I wont call.

Nu Skool II

Thursday, September 8. 2005
I work in a childrens kindergarten. I cant tell you which one, but suffice to say it actually started as a TV show before being syndicated into a chain of schools. My branch exists in a building of converted offices. It was never meant to be a school. Its a labyrinth of steep stairs, violated building standards (well, not that Taiwan really has any) and rubber-coated edges. The HQ is fiercely protective of its intellectual material. Despite the fact Im supposed to plan everything I do two weeks in advance, Im not really supposed to take any of the course materials home. Theyre paranoid Ill photocopy it all and start my own school. To be fair, their material is very good and highly detailed, but I think they shouldve considered inconvenience caused to employees before above the actions of what would be prosecutable criminals.

I know, Im putting it in a bad light already. To be honest, the school is great. Every person I work with is not an arsehole, and most of them are actually pretty nice. The school put in for my resident card a month before I was even due to start working for them, an idea I think few school would even entertain.

Like so many organizations, there is a system of minute and pointless rules, which admin tells everyone to follow, and everyone says they follow while they studiously ignore them while admin studiously ignores the fact that everyones ignoring them. (Theres also a system of attached bonuses, which is, well, a bonus.)

Then theres the unpaid work. I suppose all schools have this to a greater or lesser degree. Meetings, reports to write, training, blah blah blah. I suppose I cant really complain, except they changed my schedule so I have to wait around in between classes without getting paid either. Not really enough time to go home, and theres no staff room so I can sit down and study Chinese or browse the internet for pr0n.

Incidentally: I recall overhearing a couple of teachers, maybe 6 months ago now, in bar. When I walked past them the first time, they were talking about pr0n. I really like pr0n with ugly girls, or where they dont enjoy it, because it shows you that sex isnt always with pretty girls or enjoyable. Well ok, but the next time I walked past they were talking about they kindergarten-age kids they teach. Discretion, people: why are you all lacking it?

And we have a field trip tomorrow. Yippee yi yo.

Nu Skool

Wednesday, September 7. 2005
It wasnt that long ago that I was paid to stare at a computer monitor. Now I just do it for fun, and instead Im paid to teach American phonics to Taiwanese children. Ive just found out one of the kids in my class has almost no verbal skills he cant even speak Mandarin properly, apparently because he doesnt get any attention at home from his busy parents. So I not only have to teach him how to speak English, I have to teach him how to speak. Sometimes I wonder about busy parents who work hard to afford the (expensive) tuition of the school, and never spend any time with their kids. And then I get thinking about how they could work fewer hours, or one of them could not work at all and they could spend some time with their kids. Nah.

You probably havent heard about the recent drug bust here. A number of foreign English teachers, as well as some foreign-born Taiwanese, were sprung by the Taiwanese coast guard for dealing. On the premises were an undetermined number of ecstasy pills, a small amount of marijuana and six kilograms of cocaine. A little more than one might need for personal use, I suppose, unless you buy in bulk. Those arrested were all together at a movie night, which points to an obvious tip off. Ive heard through my sources that there was indeed a tip off by someone who had actually been caught and agreed to spill in return for more lenient whatever.

Among those arrested were an actor, an Australian-Taiwanese DJ, as well as the English teachers from Montreal, Canada. Im going to say this now out of the total arrested only two have remained in custody. Theyre probably going somewhere which is the closest you can get to hell in Taiwan the prison in Taoyuan. If theyre convicted that is, and smart money says they will.

The incident sparked off a huge (Chinese-speaking) media frenzy, for maybe two days, including one channel going to an unrelated school and demanding to see the working permits and paperwork of the foreign teachers employed there. This in turn sparked a frenzy among foreigners here, especially on that bastion of all that is likeable and detestable about foreigners here Forumosa.

Im the first to admit that the media here didnt treat the issue very sensitively. What gets me is that they never treat any issue sensitively. Western and Chinese standards for good journalism are different, and I dare say incompatible. Its normal to see motor accident victims bleeding on their hospital beds, personal privacy invaded, domestic disputes aired, and the accused treated as guilty. What is ironic about foreign condemnations is that normally, they dont care about Chinese language press. Theyll bitch about the sloppy editorial standards of the English press.

Of course the English language press hasnt been silent on the (real) issue. Theres loads of editorial (some very good) about how foreigners have reacted by trying to distance themselves from the accused and hence any guilt by association, treating the accused as if they are guilty and yet ironically condemning the local press for doing the same when playing the foreigner card.

The punch line: what really kills me is that despite some of my colleagues mentioning the incident, (Didnt some guys get busted the other day? Yeah, I know one of them yikes) in the next breath they were asking if anyone one had got some smoke lately. Now Ill admit that MJ is not a hard drug, and personal use is a million miles away from dealing, but given the number of Taiwanese who speak good English, and given the conversation took place in the caf across the road from our school, I wonder if they couldnt have been more prudent.

Im currently sitting that same, wireless-less caf, and there are three DHL couriers here, filling the place with their smoke and hawking mucus loudly. Someone should tell them about corporate image. They could at least change their shirts before they start practising for the coke snorting world championships.


Monday, September 5. 2005
All right you little pieces of dirt, listen up and listen good. I never say anything twice. If I have to repeat myself for anyone, he will be on latrine duty, do you un-der-stand-me?

The operation will be tough. It's stragetic, shock and bore stuff. Get off early and get off often. Take every opportunity. What you little shitbags need to remember is that the media will be here, and toughest enemy you will ever encounter are the folks back home! There are people who don't think you should be here. A decisive victory is needed if we are to maintain ratings! And I don't care what you sissy boys think this ain't no fuckin' picnic!

I don't need to remind any of you if you fall behind enemy lines, keep your goddamn mouth shut, and always smile for the cameras! This is going to be a bun fight like you've never seen.

Fall out and receive your orders.

The lowdown

Monday, September 5. 2005
Sometimes, I swear, it takes longer for Photoshop to load up than it did to install. Also, when you do the copy and paste job, make sure you didnt also copy the word serial from the txt file. It wont work. If I was writing the installer, Id lock out any machine that made that mistake. Darn pirates. I mean, Buccaneer Americans.

So, Photoshop. There are holiday happy snaps on the way, available to the impatient by scrolling down this page. There you are. Adobes colossus was far from the only thing I had to install again recently, dear me. My wonky hard drive finally died; this was no shock as it has been on the way out for weeks now. Every time I booted up I had to F1 past the ominous hard drive failure imminent message. Constant reminder like that and I really did something about it. I bought a 250 GB external drive to ensure the survival of my mp3 collection.

And last weekend, I noticed that my ever decaying system stability was coming good. Seemingly. But I was onto it, oh yes. You know how a terminally ill patient will enjoy a brief period of seemingly rude health after months, possibly years, of struggle? How this is usually the start of the end? The swan song, they call it. My hard drive was singing, and singing long and hard.

Thursday, it refused to boot. At all. No amount of coercion was going to bring it online again. I took it out and ceremoniously disposed of it in a bucket of salt water before throwing it in the river.

Goodbye, solemn servant. Farewell, eighty gigs of fury. Hello utilitarian Toshiba forty gig with massive cache. So things are going well again here and I can deliver some happy snaps.

After a word from our sponsors.

They should have just named him Laika, cause he aint coming back. What was once reasonably easy to shelve into a single heading with appropriate cardboard folders with genres scrawled on them in black marker has fallen off in an earthquake and there are labels all over the place. All over the place. From the files of alt, indie, heavy and rock you can see, scattered as far as we can see all sorts of monikers, some broad, others barely covering the skimpiest of act selections. Ska-punk, grunge, post-rock, emo, hardcore, rap-rock, shoegazer, britpop, Chapel Hill slacker rock, insurgent country, rocenrol, baggy, lo-fi, Elephant 6, trip-hop, IDM, riot grrl, twee, slowcore, mathrock, grindcore, black Scandanavian metal, straight edge, post-hardcore, lapscrape, angular freakgoth, carnival-mask boogie metal, industrial barber soul, ice capade cowpunk ; this barely begins to cover it all. These things I have been hearing lately, I know not where to file them. Shall we follow suit? Shall we just toss it all out and lie in the glory of the sound, the sound, and live in the full glory of these magnificent sounds?

July 20, 2005 was the local date. The funeral came with all the fire we had heard about, the rage and the cacophony were intact. Not only were the struggles to classify this glory as ranging as ever but the very idea about what makes up a band came under question. The heart of the band is a married couple and the list of members longer than the track list; the singers realise mortality takes a toll and on top of acknowledging the irony of naming their debut with such closure, fully admit that their band, their marriage and their music are intertwined and will one day end. Live the now, hear it now and most of all, feel it now. Feel the Arcade Fire!

Theres just not any time to try and shelve it into a pre-cut sleeve.

I avoided them for a long time. Dig it, I will dig it because its just what you need. But I stayed away until I couldnt ignore it any longer. One thing that used to keep me away was this difficulty in filing it away, in the recesses of my mind. I need this at this time, where will I put it until I need it? Hell, its easier to just not do it. I ran away from Death Cab For Cutie and now they have me pinned down. Theres no escape from this record and thats a fact.

That was excellent.

Life in the fast lane

Monday, September 5. 2005
It feels like forever since I've been here. I turn my back and whoops! there you go, we've got a new poster. Welcome, Bancho. We've been expecting you.

And then him and KC shit out a bunch of stuff and it looks like it ain't gonna stop, and then it does stop. Sigh.

I've been away because I've been damn busy; I started work properly, we had a typhoon, people have been coming to visit et cetera. I can hardly remember what the inside of my room looks like and then I found out that my computer had a Trojan virus. Had it for a long time. Shit. Some panicky hours later it all seems good again but I'm going to find a clean computer with a wired connection and change all my passwords, I think.

Work has been... interesting. My coworkers are a mixed bunch and I'd planned to write up a post lampooning their stereotypical characters but then I made the mistake of getting to know them and of course now realise they are individuals. Damn.

And now, I'm off to bed.