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June 29, 2006

mesticulous and precise

too many things.

a game that turned into a nightmare re-iteration of all that is corrupt and vile about the impact of money and tradition and status on a sport that could be the tale of the human condition (the ball is round; the game runs for a certain length - all else is theory...), with a powerhouse, traditionally strong nation being matched by a new upstart, and the ruling orthodoxy instituting a 'correction' at - literally - the last possible moment. it wouldn't have hurt had italy brought any of the beauty of their culture to bear on this whole tourney. their play has been ugly, limited, ignoble. australia, though less imbued with flair, had played with *heart* for every minute they'd been on the park. see you in four years, amici. we will not forget.

***
a girl that let me into her life with an open, trusting heart, despite knowing my limitations, despite seeing the weakness at the broken places. she took me at my word, though my words were warnings, and true, and met them with tenderness and candour and playfulness. while i dance around attachment and hurt and pleasure and respect, she humbles me by calling me 'charming' and 'lovely', and, though our bodies sing a little, she doesn't paint it grand or dramatic, just sees what is there. it can't last, and we are not 'like', but i have never been handled with so much simple *respect* - an adult's affection, unfettered or overburdened by excess or timidity in any form. measure for measure.

***

i have been reading, books and people. it's humbling to read some of the amazing people whose world i skirt round the edges of; in journalling, some entertain, some reveal, some hide, some play, some instruct. all are incredibly skilled, both those who have sought to write professionally, like i once did, and those for whom it is an outlet and catharsis. there are teachers and government workers, self-made business people, dilettantes and freaks and people i can laugh down the local with, regularly writing stuff that puts to shame the 'published' crap i sometimes read. sometimes, they humble me enough to not want to write. but i know this is my own insecurity getting the better of me. i think i more realistically wish i could manufacture the kind of light, haughty tone in which so many entertaining journals are writ. this levity *is* a facet of my personality, but, weirdly, it's something that is most at the forefront when i am out socially, in person, and rarely surfaces when i write. i never could figure out why that is...

***

but mainstream 'published' titles? a new borders opened in perth while i was there two weeks ago, and i shopped for once. to whit, daniel handler's 'adverbs' is fucking awful! i expected more, actually not minding the lemony snicket stuff. but the condescension (somehow overlooked by me and pointed out sneeringly by a delightful new acquaintance recently) that seems somehow okay in kids fiction (even though it's not and my hackles usually rise at any form of 'dumbing down' for young readers) is no less visible - and, because of context, somehow more glaringly offensive - in his adult writing.

adverbs is, ostensibly, a series of riffs and vignettes on love (of every kind) revealed in hands (dealt, actually, in the showy, needy, 'please-be-impressed-by-my-writing-chops-style) that are cringingly prescriptive, leading, instructional and overly foreshadowed. anyone who has fucking *been* in love doesn't need *pointers* to its shades and nuances, dan. i bought it on a whim (there was a mind-bendingly hyperbolic dave eggers fellatory on the jacket, this despite my not actually having read eggers yet - hey, i owe him for mcsweeney's alone) precisely because it had just been sooooo long since i'd bought a book i knew nothing about, and purely for 'what if's' sake.

it stank.

though 'ask the dust' (which marty has been recommending for yonks) turned out to be all they say it is. i could taste a fiery realness, a surety and boldness in nearly every line of the first half, and cringed at the recognition of all the camilla lopezes i've loved... i have to read the whole bandini series now. what a rich character! so potent and flawed at once, and fante's pacing and phrasing are just chocolate smooth. he had the instincts of a musician more than a writer.

and the wee parable i bought for a b'day gal (but haven't been able to give to her yet, due to an unremitting calendar [hers] tighter that a fishes bum) is a corker of a novella; made me weep with joy. one not forgot quick. light, but powerful.

i hope she likes it. i reckon she shall...

***

an acquaintance of mine who is a talented designer writes a blog that makes me blush with its bumper sticker over-earnestness and new-agey positivity; to write, one must be a reader. to read is to know that one can not impose narrative structure on *every* aspect of life or growth. because neither reading nor growth are always linear, both happen often in a roundabout way. we revisit shit over and over getting it wrong. until we get it right. nor can a writer put themself at the centre of every story. it is one thing to heed the maxim 'write the truest thing you know' but once you get past the identity issues that dominate your existence for the first twenty odd years of your life and start to know (however fleetingly or with erroneous certainty) a thing about yourself, the next natural step is to cast your eye over the world around you. and to be able to comment on it without relating it *all* back to one's self. she strives for (visual) beauty and functional clarity in her work and play, and is very good at this; logically, the desire to extend this talent to other aspects of her life is all-consuming. but no-one is adept at everything, and *living* itself is a skill, often perpetually in r&d - some people are just better at accepting what the universe throws at them, good or bad. but this friend, with a telos or developmental trajectory that unrealistically permits *only* hope, positivity, growth, redemption, good aesthetics and moral surety, shows she's not writing (or reading) her life at all, is denying the fundamental *flawedness* that is the core strife - and yet also comfort, the one sure guarantee of something that can and will happen to all of us - within the framework of experience we call "being human". that inevitable uncertainty. she is a giver, and i can't bear to see her verbal output as merely 'what i had for breakfast' done 'pretty'.

***

i hated the film 'as good as it gets' though i thought it a salient question, handled poorly by writer james l brooks: you don't begin to accept that you can change your life, or what is even good about your life, until you accept that it is not a linear progression toward (or through) a predetermined set of life experiences from strength to strength, and that it is not governed or navigable by easy rules or maxims. you can't *always* be happy, but, more importantly, it might not be wise to even *try*. the things we endure make us able and nimble and more assured. love the ugly, i say. the scars that show where you fell, where you dared. there is a difference between wallowing in sadness and knowing there's a point to it.

***

when asked 'is the glass half empty or half full?' the most beautiful person in my world said 'either way, i'd like a top up'. lovelovelove.

my first instinct was to ask what was in the cup.

maybe that's why we're apart.

Posted by reuben at June 29, 2006 7:56 PM

Comments

here's an excerpt from a bukowski poem:

that wondrous place
the LA Public Library
it was a home for a person who had had
a
home of
hell
BROOKS TOO BROAD FOR LEAPING
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
POINT COUNTER POINT
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER

James Thurber
John Fante
Rabelais
de Maupassant

***
john fante? i said. i looked for his books. & looked. & looked some more. then, "ask the dust". buk, fittingly, had written the intro in my copy.
glad you liked it, tiger.

m

Posted by: marty at June 30, 2006 5:39 PM

and i owe you for that.

the mailer is as indulgent, posturing and egotistical as ever, but you're right – it is good.

handler! prick. i want my thirty bucks back.

i think a bad book is deeper disatisfaction than a dud root, and definitely on par with a shit meal.

not that i have the misfortune to endure too many of either anymore...

speak soon, tiger.

r

Posted by: reuben at June 30, 2006 7:17 PM

you know those guys that say "i hate to tell you so, but..." well, i fucking love saying it. i frickin' warned you about handler, did i not? for one, he's still alive....

ha, ha

m

p.s. what mailer? the executioner's song? it's incredible. better than in cold blood. capote transcends the facts--a little--but mailer approaches the sublime. whatever the fuck that means.

okay,
m

Posted by: marty at June 30, 2006 8:53 PM

A few off topic things...

1) When are you next popping by the EBC? The place is in dire need of some sex-eh photos, says I. Holler if you need any hook ups.

2) I HEARD A RUMOUR YOU WERE IN A BAND WHICH WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR A SONG I WAS OBSESSED WITH YEEAAAAAAAARS AGO AND COULD NEVER GET MY HANDS ON AFTER HEARING IT ONLY TWICE ON THE RADIO.

If this is true, come to trivia and allow me to buy you a beer fuck-o.

Yours with the charm of a boozed up trucker*,

Jess x

*Am actually sober but have been working all night. Swears.

Posted by: Jess at July 1, 2006 3:21 AM

marty,

yiss, yiss. you were right this time. you and your dead white males, though... i swear, i'm making it my personal goal to only buy you books by living pakistani lesbians from here on in. horizons, motherfucker! broadening! get involved! get upstairs, get out of the lobby!

jess,

it's true i was a quarter of humbug. whether or not this is a good or bad thing is difficult to say: did we rock and were we awesome live? yes. did we record awesomely? yes. did alan moulder and andy wilkinson love our work? yes. were we effete, overly self-conscious, uppity shits who thought we were better than we were, and whose music seems over 'constructed' and less the natural, organic outpouring of a bunch of people who loved each other? yes. this last sank us, i think. let me know what the track was and i'll dig something out of the archive. actually, rubber records (the label) routinely do a sell off of their extras and chuck outs, into which category our two deleted EPs for them most certainly fall... i have our full album and demos etc, though. there should be copies of both lurking around RRR and PBS; both supported us pretty well when we toured here, what with rubber head david vodicka's contacts and influence at both. triple j are cunts. except for kingsmill, who made us album of the week. that man is a genius and his semen tastes like honey.

re: pics – i will come down and shoot stuff at the EBC any night you or luke want me to; i don't even need much notice as you know, as i live around the corner. i'm actually putting some stuff in today, but its tricky to pick things up mid week due to my *fucking* day job conflicting with the hours the lab is open. i think you still have my number, so hit me up anytime, daaawwwwggg. and, yeah, i'll probably be at SYTYACC triv on tuesday – have to make up for that anachronistic third last week...

Posted by: reuben at July 1, 2006 9:34 AM

SUCH HUBRIS. remember the romans, ruby.

and that post was moving - a rare and beautiful thing. i like introspective wordsmith rubydoomsday every bit as much as trash-talking trivia reuben.

see you next week...

for an ABSOLUTE SHELLACKING.

Posted by: mskp at July 1, 2006 6:02 PM

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June 21, 2006

the meme police

barca_cards_chuggingwine.jpg

my hair is about this long now and needs a decision on its future. i wish its future was in barcelona, like its past in this partic'lar frame. i wish the gal shuffling my cards wasn't still. in many senses.

sick as a dog and home from aforementioned/posted work, doing domestix (ooh, how goscinny and uderzo!) and digesting the previous night's wonderful winter roast, courtesy of la pirate queen herself when i was pleasantly surprised to discover i had been tagged by mskp with the following meme. apparently lurking on the cool kids' journals and throwing out the odd half-assed comment isn't entirely wazzing in the wind. who'da thunk?

four jobs i have had in my life:

A) author, lonely planet publications [dancing through the netherlands and italy and trying to put it into tightly defined wordy structures. clashes with authority. the bestworst job ever].
B) editor, grok magazine [encouraging playfulness and pushing the limits of allowable chaos amongst aspiring writers, designers and general freaks at curtin university, WA]. shambolic but satisfying comedy performance in a managerial role.
C) night manager, hyde park hotel, london england [bantering with hot guests and DJ fascism with canadian co-workers while finessing my italian, french and spanish swearing in-between throwing one eye at the CCTV to check which of the french house-keeping staff were letting their lovers/drug dealers/ dosser friends in through the fire exits that night. suddenly throwing on the lights in the common room to discourage laced seppo college twats from shagging on the pool tables].
D) rock guitarist [writing, recording and performing years of music with boys i loved hated loved. getting played on radio, touring. shows and riders and wailing like a demon through strats and marshalls and mesa boogies and more. went to 11].

four movies i could watch over and over (complete with choice lines):

a) rushmore - "i saved latin. what did you ever do?"
b) withnail and i - "i feel like a pig shat in my head."
c) the philadelphia story - "I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives? you know one time, I think I secretly wanted to be a writer."
d) hedwig and the angry inch - "one day in the late mid-eighties, I was in my early late-twenties. I had just been dismissed from university after delivering a brilliant lecture on the aggressive influence of german philosophy on rock'n'roll entitled 'You, Kant, Always Get What You Want.'"

four places i have lived:

a) london, england [yeah, yeah, so have a lot of people. meh. a fascinating and frustrating place. too big, too fast for someone who couldn't properly step onto the labour treadmill there, due to lines-on-a-map-legalities. i would have loved it more, i'm sure, had i been able to do something on par with my skills and abilities, rather than having to work black].
b) amsterdam, the netherlands [family all over. amazing, welcoming cosmopolitan place with all the muchness of a big city, concentrated around a small-town size ring of canals. again, but for lines on a map legalities, might be there now].
c) fremantle, western australia [where i was born and raised, where i started trying to build a life with my betrothed, where my band was born and grew, where i learned the known i knew. quiet, dinky little place whose managers and planners are deaf to the potential lurking in its suburbs and streets].
d) east brunswick, melbourne. [home. where my heart is. where i wanna stay and grow and be for a while, the mad pull of travel notwithstanding].

four television shows i love to watch (when they are/were on):

a) the world game. i liked the round ball before it got all coolsy this month.
b) shameless. scatter!
c) iron chef. the secret ingredient tonight is... CAMPNESS-UUUU!!!!!!!!!
d) rage. the only way i can even feign an attempt at keeping up with what the kids like these days. i hear 'talk' on the internet, then check rage for guessing at a new property's actual 'cache' with the flesh-and-blood public.

four places i have holidayed:

a) romania and bulgaria. pork, cabbage, dumplings, sturm und drang, artillery.
b) spain. sun, sea, oranges, football, music and heartbreakbeats, rhyme, reason.
c) italy. there are no words. she is the song; dance listen or swoon. seriously.
d) turkey - the arab world 101, for the confused/timid. intoxicating. moreish (oops).

four sites i visit daily:

a) the beeb
b) the guardian
c) melbourne liverpool supporters club
d) questionable content

four places i would rather be right now:

a) quietly agog in the front row of an elbow, decemberists or sufjan stevens gig. or frying off my dial at a go! team gig. or just pogoing at a new pornographers gig. in sweden watching the wannadies with lightning blue eyes.
b) on location anywhere (though preferably somewhere in spain or italy) shooting for magnum, SIPA or similar photo agency
c) the ten bells, shoreditch, east london, having a pint with The One That Got Away
d) equal fourth: sitting across the desk from a perfect writing partner, co-writing our magnificent octopus; on stage spraying the almighty rockness (think final scene of 'crossroads'); in a darkroom alone, printing old-skool stylee with mùm or ratatat pulsing gently in the background.

four people i shall tag:

hmm, check back later ... need to think about this one.

oh, and shout-outs to my wee cousin julia who is FAR TOO YOUNG TO BE READING THIS SORT OF THING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR DROPPING ME IN IT, MISSY! don't you have school tomorrow? straighten up and fly right. tuck your shirt in. don't pick at that. i don't CARE what the other girls' parents do. apologies to marty and ali; i didn't mean to slash at the seams of your parenting with my excessive use of the awful cusswords and Adult Concepts. haven't you guys heard of Net Nanny?

come on, give ya nephew writer a break...

Posted by reuben at June 21, 2006 11:22 AM

Comments

ah, ruby, robert parma's first daughter. the snippets of your life were thoroughly engaging and evocative...but "wazzing in the wind"? i've still not recovered. this may be an indication that the puerile will always win out over the poignant, in my weltenschaung. now i'm really looking forward to meeting you in the realworld!

Posted by: mskp at June 23, 2006 1:54 PM

weltenschaung?

that sounds SAUCY!

*rushes off to google cherman dictionary*

*showers*

Posted by: ruby at June 23, 2006 8:25 PM

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June 12, 2006

the sporting life

stewie.jpg

instead of turning my journal momentarily into yet another micro-version of nick hornby's 'fever pitch' (the few people i *know* read this are far too close to my liverpool obsession to need any reiteration about my enthusiasm for this month's football ubiquity - they've also written about it better than me), i thought i'd show the lucky few what i come in to work to face each day.

it drives me fair crazy that it looks so neat and simple and amenable, presented like this. i probably set 150-200 pages a day like this, in between bouts of proof-reading and editing (yeah, if you find a typo here, stick it up your spellcheck... this is playtime. though i do find grammatical accuracy VERY SEXY). the lowercase is a nod to ee. and laziness. shut up.

I interviewed last week for a new position that would have afforded me more money, more freedom, the room to actually be a little creative, was more compatible with my lifestyle (location, dress, ethics etc). I got down to the last two from a field of 40 or so. they gave it to the other candidate.

this is the sixth time this has happened to me in the past year.

a beautiful, fleeting someone who doesn't know me very well (apart from my body) suggested i might have poor interview technique; i disagreed, suggesting that, to get through three/four interviews it actually had to be rather good, and that it probably came more down to my personality.

ah. that made me feel better. knowing i must just shit/confuse/antagonise/annoy people at initial meeting/s (because early impressions don't count at all, do they?).

actually, all it comes down to is my natural restlessness. someone asked me a question at a casual couch-party-gathering kind of thing a few weeks back: describe yourself in a single word. i cunningly managed to not have to answer, as everyone was distracted. 'restless' would have been the word. that or 'defiant'. or 'spiky'. pity restlessness can so often come across as nervousness.

so many times *my* calm must have come across to others as antsiness. christ... i can change my interview technique, my CV etc, but i can't change who i *am*. i am growing gradually calmer and stiller as i get older, but i started out so jittery and full-tilt as a kid, i'm still nowhere near anyone's idea of thirty-something 'sorted'-ness. which triggers suspicion or mistrust, i reckon.

honestly, i am so sick of all the bullshit that goes with trying to improve my (job) lot; even trying to get the time off work to interview for this other position was such a bitch i nearly got fired because of *that*. how i wish i had the balls to just go into business for myself.

but there's the catch-22, innit? freelancing is all about personality - networking and pitching and getting in peoples' faces about your own ability and trying to forge that most elusive of bonds, 'professional' trust. when you're cursed with a god-given ability to rub people the wrong way, it doesn't really permit one the confidence to conjecture positively how such a career move might go.

i have always been a better collaborator than initiator/instigator; I have tons of good ideas, but work better with a brief/jumping off point/impetus thrown down for me by someone else; it's almost like i am so certain that i will approach any given problem/brief from such a skewed POV, one that usually won't have been thought of by others in the team, that i need something/someone to lead or define the parameters, just so's i can fuck with them. cause fucking with stuff is my way, what i'm good at... i love limits - they aid the creative process by forcing you to think in permutations of variables: the hitting of the wall/limit invariably leads you to 'what if' thinking, which nearly always lets you think through those walls and into somewhere that becomes its own genesis, something new - a creation.

but alas my present job is process-driven, and i am a 'mapper', not a 'packer'; i am a monkey with a mouse, and the repetition is stifling. there is no room for creativity within it and, when i come home, i am too exhausted to create alone (but then, for me, creating alone is exhausting anyway - it is collaboration that GIVES me energy, that fans the fire of my enthusiasm).

so. to distract myself from the pointlessness of my existence (presently), and the deviation from what i expected my life to be like, and my gobsmacked quiet envy at peers being able to turn their plans into realities, i pay disproportionate attention to beautiful things...

when i was younger, my sense of aesthetics was driven to the big, the bold, the dramatic, the larger than life - i had to play guitar faster, more intensely and bombastically, i had to shoot photos from within inches of performers to emphasise the sweat and movement, i had to write with the most showy vocabulary and the most outlandishly forceful similes and descriptions... these days, i like tiny stuff, stuff that could be missed if you don't have the right eyes. like this:

HA_sign.jpg

at first, i wondered why this building* was laughing at me. but, after a while, it didn't matter why, because it simply reminded me that this sort of thing is *always* there for those willing to look, and that is point enough. there is a chuckle full of rose petals sitting on a building backlot somewhere... it made me smile wide.

took my mind off the usual fixations. this week: going back to perth to celebrate the birthday of one of the most amazing women i've ever known (my mum's mum), in so doing passing up a chance to swing camping-out-stylee with some lovely new hepcats (in the birthday service of one particularly lovely hepkittten) - who, i am happy to be finding out - reek of at least as much substance to match their enviable style, a new skinterest who dug me out of a hole with her loveliness a week ago, an old skinterest who has replaced me, but nags with her insistence in my memory and lightning blue eyes/against the daylight, an even older mirror/magnifier whose boy must surely know about the motorcycle exhaust burn/scar on her leg (even if he'll never fall recklessly into the infinite potential of a freckle on her right shoulder), a dearest friend-cum-former-fiancee and sometime co-dog-parent whose birthday also drifted through, technology conspiring to keep me from contacting her

so much stuff... maybe we should all just be reading achewood instead.

* First to name that building gets a kiss and/or a beer from me...

Posted by reuben at June 12, 2006 4:39 PM

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"so. to distract myself from the pointlessness of my existence (presently), and the deviation from what i expected my life to be like, and my gobsmacked quiet envy at peers being able to turn their plans into realities, i pay disproportionate attention to beautiful things..."

In this past week or so of high levels of self-directed exasperation and disillusionment, it made me stop a moment to see my own haphazard, eternally delayed trajectory along this path summed up so softly and succinctly by another with reference to themselves. I'd rather not be one at all, but at times it is a comfort to know I am not the only one. It is an indulgent and dangerous validation of my continued non-status. Oh, the gobsmacked quiet envy indeed...

I am also back in Perth this week. Perhaps there is enlightenment to be found there.
Though I might just get a Pimms Cup.

Thanks Reuben

Liz

Posted by: Liz at June 12, 2006 8:28 PM

Is that a Gloria Jean's coffee cup sitting there with the clip? I think that's more disturbing, perhaps than the neatness of that desk.


I lose, I can't name the building.

xxe.

Posted by: elaine at June 13, 2006 3:13 PM

the building, clearly, is the Harold Crumpflit Centre for the Overly Proud & Cynical.

so there.

see you soon,

m

Posted by: marty at June 14, 2006 3:49 PM

Hey ya Rubyredrum, hope your snottiness is improving, and thanks for the cd advice, Hank 3 is now playing happily, you rock!

Posted by: fungoir at June 21, 2006 11:06 AM

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