Friday, May 10, 2013

Synth spin'n floppy invasion

I know this is nothing new to geekdom but synthesized music never seemed so cool until it became recycled, retro....

Star Wars - Imperial March played by floppy drive

I've just watched a bunch of youtube videos of these floppy disk drives converted into a magic retro synthesized orchestra. I love this Imperial March, another good one was Axel F - Beverley Hills Cop Theme.

Enjoy.... or not... Suit yourself.

Help... Nonsense

After a somewhat harried day I come home to be swamped with kids running amok in the house, crap all over the place, playing fighting yelling... making noises you would only expect to hear in a zoo.... Their mother sitting numb and stressed, non responsive on the couch.

I try to contain my agitation, sit down and pick up the latest children's book from the library and find a short poem that pretty much sums up the condition I am in 95% of the time.

Here it is....


Help, help
nothing's right
I can't find my ears
and my pants are too tight.

There's a clock in my sock 
there's a rose up my nose
there's an egg on my leg
and there's a stink in my sink.

Help, help
I've had enough
I can't find my eyes
and the going's getting tough.

There's bread in my bed
there's flies in my fries
there's a slug in my jug
and there's a ghost in my toast.

Help, help
I'm in a mess.
have you got my head?
the cat says yes.

The donkey says no
the hamster in the swimming pool 
says he doesn't know.

 (Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense)

Thank you Michael... Thank you illustrator Clare Mackie.

And this is me when I have got my shit together.
lol. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A walk in the grimy grey

Escaping the nothing...

Like many Australians the first place I ever ventured over seas (abroad... outside my own Island Nation) was Bali. I think the first time I went there I was 18. I wanted to explore the world, Bali was relatively cheep to get to and I was pretty sure it would be a relatively easy place for my first international destination. I remember a fair bit about that first visit. Initially all that existed of Bali for me was the knowledge that lots of people go there for the beaches and to party... I thought it was some kind of Polynesian island paradise, like a cross between the pictures I'd seen of FIJI and scenes from the movie South Pacific. Then I bought my first lonely planet book and was shocked to discover that Bali is in Asia and the natives looked a lot different to my romanticized swarthy Polynesian coconut drinking people of the sea... They were Hindu and apparently looked to the mountains rather than the sea... All this was far too foreign for me... My illusions couldn't cope with the contrast! I had been tricked by my own imagination and ignorance!


What was I to do? Cancel the trip?  No way! I was determined to follow through with my plan. (Actually I would have cancelled except pride wouldn't let me back down, I'd been bragging to everyone that I was going!) I didn't cancel, instead I decided to save myself more embarrassment and read up on this new Bali which I hadn't planned on. Before I left home I had learned that Bali isn't a country, it is an Island in the nation of Indonesia... (I knew nothing of Indonesia) and they eat rice not BBQ'd fish from the bellies of dusky beauties as I'd been dreaming about. (they also eat BBQ fish but not the way I fantasized about). I also learned that the weather there wasn't a bright sunny 25 °C it was humid, hot and sticky... (except on the mountains, where, I learned later, it got bloody cold!) Coming from Melbourne humidity was just an exotique word, I'd never really experienced it. 
I picked up a phrase book practiced a few really basic words and started getting excited again about my trip. I learned about appropriate dress code and behavior in Indonesia, practiced not using my left hand and all those exotic manners I'd never heard of before.

I remember back in the late 80s Bali had already been well and truly 'discovered', Australians had been going there in their masses for decades before I arrived and the locals were very familiar with our surfie culture and other customs and rituals. I arrived in long pants and attempted to use my 'terima kasih' and 'permisi' etc... whenever I could. I soon discovered that in Kuta nobody gave a shit about Etiquette and long pants can become uncomfortable very quickly. I remember the road out to Legian was still mostly dark and nobody ever went to Seminyak. That time I think I spent two or three weeks on Bali, exploring on a motorcycle. Back then I couldn't go very far without a few drinks in me and on my first night I fell asleep at the SC Bar... but now I'm straying from the point of this post.

When I first went to Bali Kuta was already over developed and Ubud was well known but still small. Tourism was a major feature but there were still many aspects to life in Kuta which were distinctly Bali or at least Indonesian. There weren't many hotels over two story high and there were plenty of Losmen (guesthouses) in the main tourist areas. I have read about unfettered development on Bali and the tragic loss of agricultural land, fresh water and just about everything else that is special, thanks to Tourism generated development. But for some reason when I was there last week I realized that Southern Bali is no longer sinking... It has sunk! There was such an ominous feeling of absolute desolation that I felt ill. When I first visited Bali I got really sick, unfamiliar bugs invaded my body, I had dysentery for a month and was later diagnosed as having Hep A. I kissed the soil when I arrived back in Australia and swore I'd never go back there! Once the illness wore off I was left with a strange longing for the smell of burning cloves and the sound of gamelan. I have been back a few times since and have always felt at home there. But this time it was different. A new sickening feeling came over me. This was kind of weird. As I looked around I discovered that everything was too familiar! The Kampung had been smashed and all around enormous multi story hotels were being erected. Concrete on every side, western meals served in every restaurant! The Kaki lima had vanished, the warungs were gone! No ABC sambal at the dining tables... swimming pools everywhere... miles and miles of 5 star luxury air conditioned nothingness! Just like in 'The Never Ending Story', the Nothing's consumption of Fantasia was almost complete! Just like the salt water inundating the dwindling aquifers, the magic that drives Bali had been infiltrated, diluted and polluted with bland Western Consumer driven ugliness!

The New Bali rises... Don't fall in!
In the old kampung there were trees, mango, papaya, jackfruit... space for lizards and birds. Wild bees could nest in the cracks of walls and the sweet smell of incense on carefully folded palm leaf offerings of rice, saffron and fruit kept everything in balance. Now the offerings are less but the debt is so much higher. Who will pay?

Concrete will crumble!

Want a room with Air Con? How about those bad boys?

Kuta and Legian have fallen! Ubud is no longer a village or a town... I followed several lanes and streets out of the centre of Ubud only to find that along each lane hotels entered the rice fields like the tentacles of an octopus stretching out and annexing neighboring villages. I once read an amazing book called 'On the Edge of a Dream: Magic and Madness in Bali' by Michael Wiese. It described a place full of mystical power, of raw and quite wild beauty, where powerful mystical forces kept nature and man in a symbiotic dance of life. Maybe that Bali is gone.

Of course there are some places where life appears to continue as it always has... for now.
Beautiful place
Not saying where this is! You can stick your golf clubs where  the sun don't shine
Maybe I have made a mistake? Maybe when I first visited Bali in 1990 I never really wanted to learn the truth about the place. What if instead of seeking truth all I was really doing was trying to re-sculpt the romantic images in my mind to fit what my senses were barely able to perceive? What if that place never really existed? Who am I, a tourist, the cause of the problem to question or challenge any of this? Maybe with all my dreaming and romanticizing I am just part of the virus that is spreading across this place and obliterating every shred of balance nature, time and the careful honour of the Gods had taken so long to create.
I decided we'd drop both Ubud and Kuta from all future itineraries. We and headed for another region where I'd been before. Where it was quiet and still suited my romanticized version of reality... When I arrived I discovered that my secret hideaway had already been infiltrated! Apparently the market for romantic falsehoods is enormous! Everyone's looking for someone else to deliver them to paradise! A book had been written, about some middle-class American woman finding spiritual healing, food and rooting (romance) in Bali! You can guess the rest!
Naturally the film has drawn the eye of the great Nothing to another, unspoilt corner of the Island on another coast and so the blank spaces on the map are filled in until nothing special, no life, no magic remains.

Next time I want to escape I think I'll just get on my bike take a book and go and sit under a tree for a week.