Monday, May 29, 2006

Moments in Popular Music

Josh writes:

Just quickly (again): "Loosen up my buns"? What, they couldn't find a rhyme for "Stick it in my ass"? Grass, glass, class, Quatermass -- there's plenty, for Christ's sake!

Oh no, according to the lyrics, it's "Loosen up my buttons". Maybe I have a particularly dirty mind, but I've listened to that song a few times now, and I haven't once heard two syllables there. And frankly, when your other songs feature such pearls as:

Looking for your hot stuff
Baby, I need it
Looking for your hot stuff
Baby, tonight
I want your hot stuff
I got to feel it
Got to have your hot stuff
Got to have your love tonight

you don't get the benefit of the doubt. Kids these days...

Apathy Jack writes:

"Mister, I'm not going to get this project finished on time."
"No, you're not: It was due to your teacher two hours ago."
"You know, instead of growling me, I think you should be happy that I'm here at lunchtime working on it."
"I am, and I'm proud of you, but that doesn't alter the fact that your teacher won't accept it after three-thirty this afternoon."
"That's too soon. I need to do heaps more work on it."
"Well, how long are you going to be at school this afternoon? I'm here late, so if you give it to me when you're done, I can slip it into your teacher's things after she's gone home."
"Ooh, cheeky."
"But I need to do, like, hours of work. I can't stay that late."
"Right, then you need to think up an explanation as to why you didn't hand in the project today."
"Can't I just say I was at the Councillor during English?"
"You were at the Councillor during English."
"Exactly, so can't I just say that?"
"Yes, but she'll want to know why you didn't hand it in at lunchtime."
"Because I'm with you finishing it off."
"Yes, but you can't tell her that."
"Why not?"
"Well, primarily bcause she'll yell at me - she has some kind of irrational opposition to me teaching students from her class."
"Well if she could teach us properly..."
"Yes yes, taken as read. The other reason is that if it was due in before lunch, you shouldn't be working on it at lunchtime, especially if you still can't get it finished. Understand?"
"I get it."
"So what's your excuse?"
"Can't I just say I have problems?"
"Yes, but you're at school today, so she'll ask what sort of problems let you come to school, but not hand in a specific assignment."
"So when she asks me that, I'll burst into tears and pretend I'm too upset to talk."
"Yeah, that should work. Do that."

You know, there are times when I realise how woefully inadequate a job teachers' college did to prepare me for the realities of my chosen career...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Books that you should be reading # 12 of a bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Mammals by Pierre Merot

The headmaster loves to write. It is one of his favourite activities, along with eating, shouting, being insulted, having chairs thrown through his windows, etc. He bombards new teachers with first-rate teaching advice. He reminds them of the basics of teaching, which boils down to not making waves. If someone spits at you, for example, or you have your wallet stolen, which, let's face it, are minor and completely acceptable ofences, there is no point in reporting it and demanding that action be taken. 'Let me be crystal clear, cherished colleagues: the school administration will not support you. It is your job to earn respect.'

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

As part of the Cnut-like struggle to turn Hoodrat High into a Real School(tm), we're being audited: sundry staff and students are being interviewed as to how well or otherwise the school is running.

One of my lot was interviewed, and reported back that my name came up. The panel of of students was asked which, if any, teachers made an impact, a difference. My name was the first mentioned, and, while the panel all agreed that I was, apparently, "a bit weird", I was the only one to get a unanimous vote.


I leave my trainee in my class during my free period and forget about him. I go and pull one of my kids out of class and back to my room. Chronic... well, Chronic use has destroyed her ability to focus, to the point where she can't read the book we're studying. Wanting to do well, she has bribed a classmate with drugs to read it aloud to her, but she's still behind.

I sit her down and read her the last quater of the book. We get it done in good time, so I discuss with her the implications of habitual marijuana use whilst one is trying to complete assessments. This kid's got no damned chance whatsoever, coming from the family she does, but she wants to try.

Ten minutes left in the period and I send her to get a pie. I start assembling the things for the next class, idly whinging to the trainee - who has sat silently in a corner during preceedings - about not having enough hours in the day. I catch him looking at me funny.
"You spent your free period reading the book to one student?"
"And you could just talk to her about... all of that stuff?"
"Uh... Yeah?"
Then I recognise the look he's giving me: One of amazement. I remember the old Chinese saying "The eye of the guest sees more clearly than we do". For what I consider a time-sucking if not particularly arduous chore, this guy's looking at me like I've done something truely impressive.


Sitting outside the drama suite at night with one of my lot, helping her write a report. Her own, shall we say somewhat lacking English teacher has given her about half of the information necessary to do the assessment, and presented it in a way that confuses even me - and I'm teaching the same activity to my class. I'm deconstructing the task for her, and another student from her class passes on the way to get costumed. I throw the passing student a book she needs for the assessment. The one sitting with me says "We were talking about you the other day Mister."
"You and her?" I nod back to the other, who is reading the book as the drama teacher pins up her hair.
"What were you saying about me?"
"We were saying that we'd never do English work if it wasn't for you."
"I'm not sure that's true."
"It is. We wouldn't understand any of the work Miss gives us if you didn't explain it. And we'd give up when she's mean all the time, and wag or drop English or something. But you won't let us."


At school late enough to miss the connecting bus that takes me directly home, so I bus into town to go the roundabout way. While I'm there I scour Borders for a resource or two that the afforementioned teacher has neglected to provide for her class.

Looking for school books at quater past nine on a school night kickstarts the martyr complex, and, when it combines with the three singularly flattering appraisels of me from the day, I start to feel hugely immodest. "Wow," I think to myself. "I must be pretty flash."

I'm faintly embarrassed at how many minutes I wandered around the book shop thinking how much I ruled. It took me a while to remember something: All of the nonsense I do, I do because they deserve it. Sure, all the idealists will all say "The poor urchins need someone in their corner", and they do, but I don't do it because they need it - I do it because they deserve it. They deserve the time I give up in lunchtimes and after school, they deserve the books I buy them, they deserve my whole damned comedy routine - hell, they deserve better - because they they are amazing and sincere and talented and alive. They deserve so much more than I can ever give them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fun Conversations To Have With Fourteen Year Olds

Apathy Jack writes:

"Sharon let Karl take her from behind."
"I... see."
"Up the arse."
"Yes. Yes, thank you for clarifying that. Is there a particular reason you feel I need to know this information?"
"So you know what a slutty ho Sharon is."
"Fair enough. Have you considered that this is, perhaps, not true? Karl is a teenaged boy, and teenaged boys have been known to occasionally lie about such things."
"No, I heard it straight from the cow's mouth."
"The cow being Sharon."
"Yes, thank you again for the clarification."
"Of course Sharon's just using him."
"For what?"
"I see. Have you ever heard of Samuel Butler?"
"No, who's he?"
"An old dead writer. He once said that 'Life is one long process of getting tired'."
"That sounds right."
"Yes. I never really understood what he meant until I started teaching here..."

Sorry, what?

Josh writes:

Just quickly: that Vodafone ad with the mayflies. So they're saying this is what a mayfly does with it's 24 hours of existence, only of course it's not -- it's a CGI cartoon of an anthropomorphised mayfly acting like a person would if they had 24 hours to live. And then they finish with "maybe we should act like mayflies".

So what they're saying is: People should act like mayflies who act like people -- have I got that right?

OK, just checking.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Opinion piece

RSJS writes:

S’funny, I was put in mind of the debate between opinion and belief recently, and the heavy-handed opinion of some that the difference was their beliefs were right and others’ opinions were wrong. In my opinion opinions are normally wrong as well, but as such, my opinion of this means opinions are by this accounting actually right. Unlike beliefs, which are normally stupid.

Opinions are, as the saying goes, like arseholes – everyone has one and most people don’t want to hear them. There is also the Fat Bastard comment that “everyone likes their own brand” which does neatly explain why people who talk out their arses never put a cork in it no matter how green the audience gets around the gills. From the baked-bean-powered waft on the capital punishment debate to the Rotorua-rectum rotten-egg horror of what to do with that pesky Treaty of Waitangi, people gasbag on for hours bringing lunches to the forefront of throats around them oblivious or uncaring of the sulphur-scented suffering around them.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere in particular. Opinions and beliefs are all very well and good, like sexual fetishes best kept in black sacks under the bed in the hope the unguents and blood won’t stain the carpet. This is of course, my opinion, or possibly my belief. The reason I’m thinking about both these terms is I recently started considering beliefs on opinions (i.e. all opinions are WRONG and should be SPANKED) and opinions on beliefs (i.e. them thar Catholics are cornhole-explorin’ nutfucks) and wondered if one applied an opinion to a belief, does one bolster the other, or cancel it out, or what? Does having an opinion in concordance with a belief weaken the initial subject? Do negative opinions bolster them? People like positive reinforcement of their beliefs, but also like the tinge of martyrdom that being oppressed brings. For every person humping a tree and using the term “skyclad” to pretty up streaking and/or public indecency, praying to their horny god and Diana the Queen of Hearts, full of love and wishing more people understood the wonders of apartheid magic, there’s a dirty hermit in a polar-fleece cloak desperately trying to link their neopagan hobby to the “Burning Times” of yore, standing side-by-side with the centuries-dead midwives to deride society for being closed-minded. For every paint-spattered ponytail on Queen Street trying to sell books for love, there is one getting his jollies at seeing the sinners dooming themselves to eternal worm-feeding while he plays his tambourine for god in a sea of nectar and Ambrose Bierce. I for one often get grumpy at those who share my opinion – I liked ol’ Angelina Jellylips back in the Hackers days (remember that film which claimed geeks were teh kool back in the day but all the geeks howled about technical inaccuracies proving the film was wrong in two ways?) but when she got voted hot totty of the year a while back I realised a few million mouth-breathing guys in caps advertising Mack trucks had dropped their dungarees to worship this woman the only way they knew how – by fucking a stuffed raccoon called Bowzer they got in trade for their wife’s anal virginity. And I did not want to be associated with such vermin, for unlike them my raccoon loves me. LOVES ME GOOD. Or take the “Paedophiles against G.E.” in the anti future-crop march some years back – so many right-on hemp-eaters got offended at those who supported their cause, as if only clean-living people whose cocks have never been wiped clean on a pair of Huggies get to be shrill and reactionary about science they only heard about from a guy named Stu who peddles GM super-sticky Pepe le Peu-strength skunk from a tinnie house in Grey Lynn. Summed up nicely in the Abyss when a chap turns to Hippy who was agreeing with him about hot rods of the gods and says “Stay off my side”.
Which is a long-winded way of me saying I’m not sure if people prefer me to be supportive of their dabbling in the scribbling of a Crowley cohort who decided to strike off on his own in the 50s and come up with a cult that involved a lot of nudity and heterosexual indoctrination, or resoundingly mocking of their broomsticks and soft-toy familiars. In fact, I personally believe (based on my reactions to people’s attitudes/opinions/beliefs/thoughts/flatulence) that we’re contrary fuckers and whatever someone’s opinion is, unless we happen to be having sex with that person right at that moment (and doing well, I might add) we’ll want to disagree. So a positive opinion might be seen as obsequious while a negative one could be oppressive. Perhaps the reason people forever think opinions are wrong is we like to respond negatively to another’s input? Are we that self-destructive?
Having consulted my Magic 8-ball, signs point to “yes”.

Last Music

Apathy Jack writes:

Ed Davis has directed quite a staggering number of music videos for New Zealand artists, and here he offers them for download. I recommend Gramscii's 'Code' and anything by Jakob because, hell, I like them. There's also the video for 'Karlsruhe' by Jordan Reyne, who was the subject of one of the other music posts.

However, the standout video would have to be the technical masterpiece that is Autozamm's 'You Don't Know Me' - shot in a single take, then sped up and slowed down to various degrees throughout the song; all of the motions match the beats, and the lips synch perfectly.

I'm not explaining it well, so download the video and watch it - it really is something to behold.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Theory of Justice

Guest Ranting Bastard writes:

Mr Neil Falloon reminisces...

I do not rub shoulders with the rich and famous and powerful. I am no Russell Brown, or David W Young. I work a modest job; I am still excited enough when I see a celebrity like Aja Rock or Damien Christie.

Yet Kerre Woodham, who is afforded a full page column in the Herald on Sunday to disseminate her wit and wisdom, was formerly a colleague in the international community of scholars. And, also, in paper POLITICS 320: Distributive Justice at Auckland University in 2002. They were salad days for Kerre and me – we were in the prime of our lives, aged an average of 31 years. We were old enough to know the rules, and young enough to play the game - respectively. We drank deep from the cup of knowledge.

This was a dense paper, full of complex ideas and summarised texts from John Rawls' A Theory of Justice. Issues traversed included the leveling off argument (can we not object to “equality” as a goal since it involves making the strong weak?); a detailed examination of utilitarian thought, and musings on the rights and responsibilities of man.

“Wouldn’t it be better if people could just keep their own money, and everybody took care of themselves and their own families?” Kerre demanded one day in class.

“Well,” our lecturer, the dashing and prodigious Martin Wilkinson explained, “that’s a reasonable response, and you could pursue that kind of distribution by voting for the Act Party, for example.”

“Act?” Kerre hissed, “I’d never vote for anyone so right wing!”

“But what you have described is the Act party’s position on social spending – you don’t pay tax, and you provide for your own healthcare and education and welfare.”

It dawned on Kerre that he was right. Entering the halls of academia, she probably never considered she was beginning a Heart of Darkness-like journey, to a truth almost too horrible to bear. That there, in tutorial room HSB-508, cut loose from the comforting lies of society and civilisation and talkback radio, Kerre Woodham had invented libertarianism.

A hush filled the room. Kerre had not been this quiet since a classmate walked into the room with a copy of the New Zealand Herald proclaiming on its front cover that 1ZB’s prime-time slot had lost a third of its audience in the year since Woodham took over. What would she do with this discovery, this monster she had constructed from the parts of dead philosophers and short-loan photocopied readings? Was talkback radio about to take a sudden turn for the right? Now that the blinkers had fallen from Kerre’s eyes, would her diminishing but still significant audience follow on her damned path?

“Oh, ummm, well, never mind,” she said, her voice trailing off.

My heart broke.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I've got nerves that jingle jangle jingle

Apathy Jack writes:

What about a little shack at the edge of the world? I could get a place at the last outpost. Live for years and never see anyone. I would have to hunt for my food. It would take years to detox civilisation from my mind but eventually it would happen. What would my thoughts be of? A mind clear of the paranoia of crime and violence. No jealously, no dread. Might be boring, but that would fade away as the years go on. No, it would never work. I'm addicted to fear and bad air. Without the threat of violence, I am nothing. Classic. The victim thinks he's the lucky one. Without too much noise and pollution I get bored and depressed.

- Henry Rollins, Solipsist

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Teh Funny. LOL, damn you! LOL!

Josh writes:

OK, you know how I keep telling you to read screenwriter John Rogers' blog Kung Fu Monkey? Well, he tells you to read How to Write Screenplays. Badly. Sample quote:


Yeah, that's right.

Notice what you're doing? You're paying attention. You're on edge. You don't know what's coming next. You are, quite literally (though mostly metaphorically), in the palm of my hand.

That's the power of swearing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

"Mister, I still have your Lovely Bones book - I'll give it back tomorrow. I want to read that Lucky one."
"I think Regina has that one. She should be finished it, because she's reading that one I lent Cady, so get it off her."
"I also still have the drunk girl book - I'm almost finished. Have you got anything for me for when I do?"
"I think you'd like the one I lent Gretchen."
"Oh yeah, I want to read that one."
I don't think she's finished it yet, but get it off her when she's done."
"Oh, and has Gretchen still got that Alice book?"
"I think she gave it to Karen. Here, have this to tide you over."
"Thanks. You know, we're all really getting into this... whatever it is we're doing here."
"It's called reading, and I'm pleased you like it."

Most of the time I know how much of a fraud I am, and you know, I'm reconciled to it. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like the best teacher ever...

From the Armchair Of

Josh writes:

Television -- that's a good topic. Everyone watches television. Yes. Yes, you fucking do. If you're one of those "Oh, I never watch TV -- all the shows are crap and the news is too sensationalistic and OH I'M JUST SUCH A FUCKING FREE-THINKING INDIVIDUAL!!!" types, then I put it to you that A) You are a liar, and B) Death is coming for you. And by "death", I mean "me". And by "for", I mean "while thinking of". No, that's not right.

Anyway, of all the ratarse shows I watch on TV, Lost is not among them -- I haven't seen a single full episode. According to the Rules of the Internet, I am therefore much better qualified to talk about it than all the "so-called experts" who actually sit through it every week.

You know that game where you go to give someone something, then pull it back as they reach for it and go "ah -- gotcha!" again and again and again? That's Lost, that is. "You've got lots of questions, I know -- here's... lots more questions! Moo hoo ha har!" What kind of finale was that in Season One -- the shocking revelation is that there's a hole in the ground?!*

Now, I don't watch it, but various people I know do, so I keep myself informed on each episode's happenings, not because it's important that I know what my friends are talking about when Lost comes up, but because it's important that I know more than my friends when Lost comes up. To this end, I tend to read through episode summaries online, which means I only need to give up a couple of minute a week to know what's going on, and because the summaries are posted as the episodes screen in the US, I'm several months ahead of people who watch it here. It also means that I don't have nearly as much invested if it all turns to shit, a la The X-Files.

I'm pretty sure it was around the time of the X-Files movie that it became undeniably plain that the writers were just making shit up as they went, spinning out an increasingly twisted plot as long as possible, as opposed to working to a pre-determined ending. And then came Millennium, which seemed to be like that right from the start. Lost claims to have a grand plan all thought out -- maybe they can pull it off and not build things up to the point that no ultimate revelation could possibly explain all the crap they throw at you, maybe not. The important thing is that I'll be watching Season 15 of America's Next Top Model at the time and laughing.

* For what it's worth, my predicition for the Season Two finale is that they don't press the Jolly Candy-like Button and let the timer reach zero, at which point there's a loud noise, everything shakes, and it fades to white -- TO BE CONTINUED, YOU CREDULOUS FUCKS... Possibly there'll be a confusing jumble of images that the geeks can go through frame by frame while they wait for Season Three.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

music again

Apathy Jack writes:

Right, entries will be sporadic for a while (retroactive from last week, obviously) because being back at work has blunted my interweb mooching powers, so I'll have to actually get around to getting a new computer...

However, for now, here's some more NZ music.

Todays music comes from Jordan Reyne, who also occasionally trades under the name of Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine. She's released four full length albums, and, unlike those artists previously mentioned, has not only got a bit of airplay (most recently when she guested on the latest Strawpeople single) but she's also the only one whose CDs you have a better than average chance of being able to find at your local Real Groovy or equivalent.

Her website has song extracts that you can dowload. I believe she's in Germany at the moment, which is a pity, because seeing her live is something everyone should do as many times as is humanly possible.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Books You Should Be Reading # 11 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Solipsist by Henry Rollins

Maybe all presidents should be semi-literate, overweight and out of shape then they could always be remembered as "A true man of the people."

(And because that seems a bit stingy, here's another excerpt...)

You look at all those people you said you'd never end up like, and now you know them on a first name basis. They're not such bad people if you give them half a chance. In fact, you all have a lot in common. They make you feel good. They're not trail guides to the new nowhere, they're your friends.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Opinion Nation

Josh writes:

I was talking to Jack about opinions the other day. Jack's thinking, as I recall, was essentially that You Are All Wrong and You Need To Be Told That You're Wrong -- a view worthy of respect, but not one that I share. My opinion of opinions is: fuck opinions. I don't care what you think -- hell, I barely care what I think -- and I'm not under any illusions that you feel differently towards me.

I mean, I have all sorts of opinions going -- here are two:

  • I hold to a consequentialist ethical system, and therefore regard "principles" as at best an unnecessary abstraction and at worst a genuine impediment to ethically correct behaviour.
  • I think that "desert" (as in justice, not sand) is as meaningless a concept as political correctness or appeals to nature, and therefore talking about what someone "deserves" is as pointless as saying that their behaviour is "unnatural" or "PC/not PC".
Much scope for discussion there, I'm sure, but, again, I don't care what you think. And even a cursory examination of any blog where some semblance of debate takes place shows that nobody's really interested in what anyone else has to say, beyond saying "me too" or looking for ways to pick holes in it without ever actually considering that there may be some merit to it as well. For instance, take a look at the exchange between Psycho Milt and Sean here (no real significance to my choice of example, by the way -- just the most recent one that comes to mind). To sum up:
The scene: a discussion of The Archbishop of Sydney dissing Islam.

Psycho Milt: [in short, he thinks all religions are equally crappy, and therefore finds a leader of one religion criticising another a bit rich.]

Sean: Chip on the ol' shoulder Psyco [sic] Milt?

Psycho Milt: [patient and clearly-worded expansion on his previous point, explaining that any "chip" applies to more than just Catholicism, and separating the teachings of Jesus from the doctrines enforced by organized religion]

Sean: Just as I thought - Chip on the shoulder...

Why would a person bother?

UPDATE: Yes, I'm aware of the irony of publishing an opinion piece on how opinions are crap.

UPDATE: Did I say "irony"? I meant "hypocrisy".

UPDATE: Did I say "hypocrisy"? I meant "fuck you".

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Apathy Jack writes:

Today's music comes to you from The Mercy Cage - who, in addition to recording one of the most depressing songs I've ever heard, have just released their second album, Scree Transmissions.

Clicking on the link will tell you how to dowload a free EP.

They'll also be playing tonight at the same gig as NUTE, as mentioned previously.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reflection Of Skin And Bone

Apathy Jack writes:

Rightly, today's music is NUTE, a friendly pack of industrial noise monsters who are playing their last NZ gig for a while (trecherous lead singer is deserting to England for a while) this Saturday courtesy of these guys.

Their webpage includes details on their first full length album: Cyborg Resistance. Click on 'News' to download the excellecnt 'ROSB', or better yet, if you're local, come out on Saturday to see them. You can buy me a coke and watch me act standoffish because I don't like meeting new people. It will be awesome.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Green Music

Apathy Jack writes:

Today's Kiwi band you've probably never heard of is The Greenmatics - a bit more on the electronicy side than I'm usually partial to, but if you're a fan of (for example) Minuit, you should download the thirty-second samples of songs they have available.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Flat, School and Music

Apathy Jack writes:


"My head hurts. Maybe I have brain cancer."
"At least you could get an extension on your assignment if it was brain cancer."
"Yeah, and people would have to feel sorry for me!"
"Actually, I think you've picked the wrong flat for that: You'd march into the lounge demanding sympathy, and I'd say 'Ow, my hernia!', Nick would say 'Ow, my wisdom teeth!', and Ben would say 'Ow, my life!', and I don't think there'd be much empathy in general."
"Dammit! Stupid sick people!"


"Here, were you in class yesterday?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes - remember: You said that the pain in your side had gone after the operation, but the pain in your ass had come back."
"Oh yeah."

It's a worrying sign that I can only remember if students were present if I scored off them...


In keeping with yesterday's rock theme, here is Cerveza. (Sadly, it's another myspace page, but there are four downloadable tracks.)I've seen these guys live a few times (under their old monicer Angelsound) and they blew me away. Strangely enough, the downloads (which, I guess have seen some time in a studio mixer) almost fail to catch just how amazing the voice of lead siner Angel really is. Well worth a look.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Music

Apathy Jack writes:

So, New Zealand Music Month, they tell me.

During my invalidation (which will do until I can think up a better word) I watched the leadup to this, which basically consisted of all of the talkshows asking sundry people in the music scene if we still need a local music month, and if we still need the quota on the radio.

No one seemed to share my opinion: We shouldn't have New Zealand Music month and the radio quota because we need them, we should have them because we want them, because the local talent is so good that we should want to support it and encourage others to listen.

So this week, you get music by people you might not have heard of.

Not everything will be to everyone's tastes, but try it and see - what have you got to lose?

Today, is Naquadah - an unsigned rock band (who put the "west" in "this band is from west Auckland") who have, to date, only released one song (the wonderful "Backlash" on the Re-inventing Sheep compilation a while back). This is, sadly, a myspace page, but it lets you listen to either the afforementioned "Backlash" or new choice; "Bruised"