Sunday, April 30, 2006

Eric: Also Not Dead

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

First things first. Jack, I popped round to your flat today to drop off some chocolate fudge for you as a "get well soon" after your haemmorhoids (was it?) operation, but alas you were not there.

Secondly, some news of our broken planet - this story was one I read in The Economist, and so requires a password to link to it, so I have copied some of it out below:

The trials and travails of Jacob Zuma
Apr 20th 2006
From The Economist print edition

THE first trial of Jacob Zuma, South Africa's former deputy president until he was sacked last June, is coming to an end. A 31-year-old HIV-positive woman accused him of raping her at his Johannesburg home, and a verdict on this charge is expected early next month. This is only the first hurdle he has to clear to be rehabilitated politically; he then faces another trial, for corruption, in July.…

...Mr Zuma's performance in court so far raises fundamental questions about his suitability for further political office, let alone the presidency. He has admitted having unprotected sex with his accuser - although he maintains it was consensual - in spite of knowing she was HIV-positive. Though he once headed the country's official anti-AIDS campaign, he also explained that he took a shower immediately after sex to "minimise" the risk of infection...

...The former deputy president, who testified in Zulu, maintains that his accuser seduced him, pointing out that she came to his house wearing a skirt. According to his Zulu culture, he claims, leaving a woman in a state of sexual arousal is unacceptable and he had to oblige. All this flies brazenly in the face of South Africa's carefully nurtured official policy on women's rights, reflected in the constitution and - officially - promoted assiduously by the ANC.

And finally, for all those who care, I am now the world's newest draughtsman (we design the timber framing that goes in the walls, roofs, and floors of your house. And it pays not bad at all thanks for asking.

Friday, April 28, 2006

All The News Of The Broken Planet

Apathy Jack writes:

Right, I'm consolodating: I ran Broken Planet News as a separate entity, but now I'm folding it into Brain Stab here.

So, the week's news:


Police Hunt for Chimps After Fatal Attack


The British home secretary has said he will not resign after it emerged 1,023 foreign prisoners, inclusing murderers and rapists, had been freed rather than deported.


Mans stepdaughter molested. Man campaigns for tougher sex crimes laws. Man uses syringe to inseminate stepdaugter with his semen because wife cannot concieve. Man convicted under tougher laws he helped pass.


From his cell, the 41-year-old Detroiter repeatedly explained to Livonia police that the man they were looking for was his identical twin, Carnelle. But from April to November 2002, he languished in jail, unable to make bond, until investigators finally believed him.


All bloggers are perverts. Exhibit A: "Regarding a potential motive," Purcell Police Chief David Tompkins said Saturday, "this appears to have been part of a plan to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse, eat the corpse then dispose of the organs and bones."


Man's bid for virgin bride enrages neighbors...


A nurse who injected patients with potentially fatal doses of drugs so he could "enjoy the excitement" of reviving them has been convicted.


I smoke P and I'm alright - even with the twelve nails in my head.


And finally, Romania has legalised witchcraft.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Josh: Not Dead

Josh writes:

Shit -- it's been more than two weeks since I put anything up here. Lucky for me Jack's been an invalid with plenty of spare time to sit on his electronic porch, waving his stick and yelling at you punk kids. Well, he calls it his stick.

Anyway, now that I'm an internet superstar thanks to Monkey Fluids, I've been devoting more time to it recently. By which I mean it provides a better source of soul-affirming fan mail for me to bask in front of. And by bask I mean... you don't want to know what I mean.

Throw in a move to a new flat and the removal of a dodgy-looking mole from my back, and I have all manner of unconvincing excuses as to why I've been such a slack bastard around here. Sorted.

I still don't have anything interesting to say, mind -- here, have a read about hyena genitals instead.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bad Language

Apathy Jack writes:

Alright, I'm getting progressively more confused with censorship.

Being trapped on the couch for a fortnight, I've seen Pink's new video (the absolutely marvellous 'Stupid Girls') several dozen times on C4.

As I'm sure you know, there are a couple of arguably questionable lyrics in the song; firstly when Pink asks "will it fuck up my hair?"; then when she describes herself as a "pretty will-you-fuck-me girl, stupid I'm-so-lucky girl, pull-my-hair-I'll-suck-it girl".

None of these lines were edited out when the song first started being played - not even during pre-seven hours (both C4 and Juice often play unedited versions of videos after the kids have gone to bed).

However, after a week or so, they started blanking a word out.

That word was "suck".

There were still two fucks in there for all the kids to hear.

At first I thought that they may have edited it thusly because "suck" in this context is explicitly sexual, and sexual content is less acceptable than swearing (hell, even the Transformers movie had swearing in it, but you can't tell kids about storks donkey-punching birds and bees, or whatever the process is). For example; despite the fact that "fuck" denotes sex, "pull my hair I'll suck it" is more sexual than "fuck you".

However, "will-you-fuck-me" has a certain sexual overtone, if you care to look at it that way...

Anyhoo, I've just now seen the newly re-edited version, where they've edited "fuck" out of the song.

The first time its used.

Pink may be now asking "will it .... up my hair", but she's still the "pretty will-you-fuck-me girl".

I'm wondering if there's some method to this, or if they just haven't noticed...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Books You Should Be Reading # 10 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Shut The Door, by Amanda Marquit

He'd just wanted to have friends and partake in some slightly rebellious activities just for fun. I was stupid and I put the pressure on myself though. He'd smoked pot only a few times, and he had never experienced the supposedly euphoric dullness that seemed to intrigue his friends and be the focal point of countless social gatherings. Just the fucking paranoia all the time. Every time. But he'd felt guilty nonetheless, always under surveillance. Always returning home with an expression on his face that screamed, "I did it! I smoked a joint with three of my friends, and it was damned good. And I wanna do it again tomorrow." Even though less than half of that statement had been true.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

This is what Warren Ellis had to say about creative endeavor:

"Quit muttering and tell me where you think you are today, and what you think it looks like."

This is what blogging should be – people telling us what their world looks like that moment.

Keep in mind that this does not mean that an internet full of strangers is interested in reading your diary – we don't want to read a a blow-by-blow account of how you and Jonno and Shazza had such a good night in with Singstar and shooters and it was only really funny if you were there but I'll tell you all about it even though you weren't and here's a three page long record of my latest ICQ conversation with all of the unfunny bits and typos left in...

(As some of you know, I have a livejournal – I never update it because I don't do that many interesting things – if I recorded the few things of note that actually happen to me in the course of any given week, I wouldn't have anything to talk about with my friends come the weekend because they would have already read it all...)

I think more people should blog, but only if they have something to say. Look at your world, and tell me what is new and interesting in it. Maybe you're married with kids and a car and a cubicle, or maybe you spend your days thinking up excuses to stay on the dole as you shuttle between friends' couches. Maybe you're interested in science or cars or beer or any of those other things that I personally have no interest in. Well, make me interested. Tell me what is new in your world, tell me what it looks like out your window, and why I should be excited by it.

That's what this all should be.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Last Art

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
To finish, here is someone else I don't know - Katie West. She's been in a number of photos by herself and other people (featured here and here among other places). Her website is here.


That Morthos Stare writes:

"You, sir, you are a limp-wristed nancy!"

Today I visited the Vatican; saw the Pope on his Popemobile (probably needed the extra height to spy fresh prey to feed off of) and saw the major sites of Roman Catholicism. The above image, available on many a postcard, though, really does sum it all up.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

Really, the problem with me getting surgery is that I have the attention span of a baby goldfish that's flushed its Ritalin wherever goldfish flush things, so two weeks of forced inactivity (as opposed to voluntary inactivity, which I've developed into an art form) was always going to drive me slightly stir crazy. The question wasn't so much “would it happen” but rather “how would I know?”

Today, I had a book open in one hand, and the tv remote in the other. This isn't uncommon, as I often read while surfing between Juice and C4. I was juggling the remote. Again, not uncommon, as I've never taken up smoking so my ADD attention span demands that I do a few things at once.

Then I realised that, rather than reading the book, I had been intently watching the spin of the remote for the last few minutes. I was focused just as intently on the control as I had been on the book, and I hadn't even really noticed the transition from one to the other.

This probably just goes to show something, but I'm not sure what...

Art By People I Don't Know

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
When I was in Wellington I saw "We Are Family" - A truely disturbing bunch of superrealistic sculpture and photographs by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, whose art can be seen here.

Category Error

That Morthos Stare writes:

I'm not really here; I'm on week three of my EU trip (tomorrow I may well be meeting the Pope. Well, the other Pope). Travelling alone is interesting; travelling solo in a nation of foreign language users is, well, just strange. This fact is compounded when they become inordinately insistent that you buy their cheap umbrellas despite the fact it is hardly raining.

Obviously Italian men haven't wintered in Auckland.

Anyway, all this travelling has meant meeting normal and fairly uninteresting people, all of which want to know what I do and where I come from (obviously answers to the last question to be sent to Apathy Jack's posts). The latter question I let people guess at; I'm apparently American-cum-French-cum-Norwegian-cum-Londoner (never English; always 'You sound like a Londoner'). The former question... Well, I've stopped saying 'I'm a PA' and gone back to saying 'I'm a lecturer.' It's not strictly true at this point in time but it feels much more me than 'PA.' I just don't find the exploits of rich people interesting. I certainly don't enjoy explaining that I am their glorified courier or cut-price accountant. So 'Academic' it is.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will return to being a teacher. I'm already working up adult education course teaching plans and the details of my next research project is already before the University for its consideration. So, for the time being, I may not be a teacher and thus I may well be lying to complete strangers, but at least its more fun than being asked to describe what you do and having to sound even more pretentious than usual by saying 'I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to actually say...'

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

So Much Art It Would Break Your Ribs

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
Last piece of art by people I know (there are a couple of people I don't know that I may recommened shortly). This one comes from close personal... acquantaince to Brain Stab, Hewligan, more of whose art can be seen here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Even More Art

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
Today's art comes from my friend Dryad, who stubbornly refuses to exhibit her work, no matter how annoyingly I badger her. More of her work can be viewed here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More art

Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
Right, your next batch of art comes to you courtesey of Mary Magdelene, also featured in the New Black exhibition, whose art can be seen here.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Signs from the (not-so) UK

That Morthos Stare writes:

In Dublin, where it is always Sunday, the Church likes to get them young:


In Edinburgh, where torture really did go professional, you really must watch out for children:


And in the Lake District, where civilisation is basically mistrusted, you need to be careful of the trains:


Another batch of nonsense from the Hand of Morthos, living in exile in a strange land...

Of Interest to the Nation

That Morthos Stare writes:

C4 have just shown the new Pet Shop Boys music video starring those two likely lads from 'Little Britain.' It's a typical Pet Shop Boys song but the video is talented piss-take of Pet Shop Boys music videos, which makes it very funny and somewhat disturbing. It all looks rather like They Might Be Giants video for 'Birdhouse in Your Soul,' which is probably saying something.

Coming up next from The Hand of Morthos; a collection of funny street signs from around the (not so) United Kingdom.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Apathy Jack writes:

Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.
As a bunch of you know, I attended The New Black exhibition a week or two back. Got me thinking about art. SO, for the Easter break, you get art.

First of all, is the site of brainstabber RSJS, who was one of the features of the above mentioned New Black.

See his art here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

So by way of some light reading during my recovery, I started on The Secret Societies Handbook. I'm only about a third of the way through, but so far I haven't learned anything I didn't already know, I've found at least one fairly obvious mistake where they've gotten the details of a conspiratorial cabal wrong, and so far the book has yet to make reference to the work of a single internet crackpot whose work I'm not already intimately acquainted with.

So the question is, have I become:

a) A hollow mockery of a human being
b) The person I always wanted to become
c) Both a and b

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Broken Planet

Apathy Jack writes:

By the by, just for the few of you keeping count: I've updated Broken Planet News – my much ignored news service. BPN has been a bit limp since my computer broke (as in, I haven't updated it – thanks to Josh and Hewligan for the occasional update) but now that I'm an invalid, the news is back on. Make with the clicky to find out about the Gospel of Judas, another reason ugly people shouldn't breed, and what happens when you organise otherwise innocent sounding boxing matches between infant children.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Only Good Poet Is A Dead Poet

Apathy Jack writes:

So in this post here, Span asks when the movie featuring my hoodrats is coming out. Of course my lot are all far too busy smoking crack, worshiping Satan and filling New Zealand with babies to ever actually star in a movie. However, you're all in luck. There are already plenty of pre-existing movies that show a realistic portrayal of what teaching is really like...

What's that I hear you say? Goodbye Mr who? To Sir With what now? Don't be ridiculous.

What? Dangerous Minds? Well, alright, there are a lot of seemingly hopeless cases, and of course many a gang-related incident. But my lot aren't angels with dirty faces, they're demons with filthy minds. And I can't help but notice the shocking paucity of teachers who look like Michelle Pfeiffer...

Nope, you'll have to go elsewhere to find out what teaching is all about.

I recommend that your first stop should be to watch Unman, Wittering and Zigo, a realistic depiction of what most first-year teachers have to go through on a regular basis.

To gain an insight into the mindset of your average high school student, I recommend the excellent Battle Royale, a Japanese documentary (or so I understand it) about what young people get up to when they're left to their own devices.

And while you're in the Johnny Foreigner section of your local DVD repository, might I suggest that you pick up a copy of Volcano High for another realistic look at high school dynamics – the mystical kung-fu battles between staff and students presented in this film are very much as they happen at my school.

Of course the best movie to give you an insight into teaching these days is probably Psyched By The 4-D Witch. No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with teaching. However, sit through a showing – especially of you can see it on the big screen. What your brain feels like when you walk out of the theater – that's what my brain feels like all of the time now.

Of course, Span also asked about television shows. You may be neither surprised nor particularly pleased to discover that the most realistic portrayal of teaching in twenty-first century New Zealand is Seven Periods With Mr. Gormsby. Sure, a lot of the attempts at humour are hit and miss, but its portrayal of staff politics and student behavior are spot on (even if the "students" are all played by thirty year olds).

I'd like to say that the most representative show was The Greatest American Hero – about an idealistic young teacher with rubbish hair who spends most of his time being a super hero and saving the world.

Sadly, the reality is a bit more like Welcome Back Kotter – the tale of a guy with rubbish hair who's not as funny as he thinks he is, put in charge of a gang of sweathogs who are so fiercely loyal to him that they'll do anything he asks of them except learn.

Still, there's worse than that, I suppose.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

If you'd asked me last year what my biggest concern for 2006 was, I'd have said my forthcoming Year 11s. The Year 10s were an academically weak pack of hooligans, and our chronic teacher shortage meant that we'd be shoehorning well over thirty of them into each class come this year. I spent a fair amount of the Christmas holidays dusting off the big guns of my classroom management repertoire: the most authoritative way to curl up into the fetal position, the most masculine way to cry and cry and cry – that sort of thing.

So anyway, it's just before I leave for my surgery, and the Year 11s are busily finishing off an assignment. I have time to stand back and take stock.

There's my little hyperactive hypochondriac, talking a mile a minute to hide the fact that she can't really understand a lot of the work. Beside her, her long-suffering friend, with her through thick and thin since third form. She's facing the motormouth, nodding and replying as appropriate, but her hand is scrawling across the page in front of her – she's had over two years to learn how to work while seated next to, shall we say, distracting influences.

There's the kid who was expelled from his old school for assault. His teachers were all a bit leery of him when he turned up, except those of us who did a bit of digging into the circumstances of the assault. At his old school there was a bully terrorising the smaller kids. After a year or so of watching this happen, my boy decided it wasn't on, so used his not inconsiderable bulk to calmly and rationally put the bully in hospital. On the day of his expulsion, he was given a hero's send off by the students, who considered him to be a latter-day Robin Hood. Sitting in my class he is working as hard as he always did, violence issues notwithstanding.

There are the young lovers: the bad girl trying to get herself on the straight and narrow, and the good boy who spent all of last year trying desperately to be bad. They throw a jacket over both their heads in a poorly thought-out attempt to make out without anyone noticing. The kids around them laugh – which they ignore – and one of the boys asks me with a smile if that's the sort of thing I think I should put a stop to.

I think about it for a moment. The bad girl will finish her work by the deadline because she doesn't want to disappoint me. The good boy will finish his work by the deadline because, you know, he's a good boy, and taking up smoking and pretending to have been in trouble with the law notwithstanding, that's what good boys do – the poor bastard's hardwired to it.

“Give them five minutes.” I say.


This has been one hell of a month. I really thought I'd write more about it. There's been a lot of good: Going to Wellington where I not only got to watch the wrestling, but also got to see the look of crushing disappointment on David Young's face when we finally met in person and he realised I haven't been joking about being so low class; going to Australia to see Clutch; seeing HIM; the New Black exhibition by some ludicrously talented friends of mine. All of these things have been fun, but when I sit down to write about them, that's all that comes to mind: A rather dull “I had fun”. There has also been more than the usual share unpleasant things, but, as with most matters of real discomfort, they're either of no interest to external parties, or they're things that I don't really want to talk about at length, not on a blog, at any rate.

But through the good and the bad the kids have been there.

Down country a week ago to say goodbye to my Grandfather. Having seen him in hospital, I was wandering around Palmerston North making myself good and maudlin, when I saw one of my kids. I had forgotten entirely that Palmerston North was where her team was going for the national finals.

A Friday night hanging out on a war memorial in Palmerston North town square with a pack of slightly drunk teenagers celebrating a sporting victory may not sound like everybody's cup of cheap wine, but it broke me out of the funk I was developing for myself.

When I got the news that my Grandfather had passed, it was almost no time at all before I got a text from one of my students. Her grandfather had died only a month or so back, and I had helped her mourn in some small capacity, so when she found out that I was in the same position, she was concerned for me. She texted me to see how he was because she was worried. She was worried because it had been raining all day, and “because when somebody good dies it always rains”.

I spent the night texting back and forth, and she made me realise something I hadn't thought of: My girl's fondest wish was that her Grandfather see her turn eighteen, and he missed it by only a few months. Twenty-eight years is a pretty good length of time to have a grandfather around, and I'm lucky for it.

In hospital having a hernia repaired, I spent my time trying to puzzle out the scrawlings on the impromptu card my little goths drew me when they found out I was going away for a while, and answering concerned texts from students in my form class who wanted to know how the operation went. For desert I ate the yoghourt a student brought me after school finished because she was unsure if I could eat solid food. The next day I arrived home to find a card sent to me by a student who had stolen my address when I helped her fill in some student allowance forms.

I am thankful that I have something in my life that is good and right all of the time. No matter how badly everything else may confused, I am thankful for something that is always good and right.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Books You Should Be Reading # 9 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

The Self-Destruction Handbook by Adam Wasson and Jessica Stamen

Self-destruction is not suicide. In fact, they are very different. Suicidal people want to end life altogether, whereas self-destructives enjoy debasing themselves, degrading other and generally wreaking physical and emotional havoc on the world around them. There is nothing more life-affirming than total destruction, whereas death, in our opinion, is zero fun. If you are suicidal, then you have probably lost all sense of irony and should look elsewhere for help. If, on the other hand, you hope to mastermind and botch multiple suicide attempts in order to frighten and manipulate people who care about you, we've got some real gems for you in chapter 8.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Explicit Language

Josh writes:

Not sure if I've mentioned this here or not, but I don't say "cunt". I'll write it, but I don't say it -- partially because I figure you need to keep one swear word in reserve for when you really mean it, partially because it's the line in the sand I drew as a younger person to convince myself that I was still a Good Boy, partially just out of habit. Anyway, this isn't about searing insights into my innermost innerness (that's what LiveJournal's for). The point is that it seems I may have to rethink my habits if I'm to fit in with a changing world.

And the world is changing, make no mistake -- you can see it in the great cultural barometer of Hollywood films. It used to be that you could get away with saying "fuck" once in any blockbuster, either to put emphasis on a climactic moment (off the top of my head, Armageddon and Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion) or sometimes just as a throwaway (Army of Darkness springs to mind). Now it seems the "one fuck" rule has been replaced with the "one cunt" rule. Witness the likes of Blade 3, Domino and now Inside Man ("You really are a magnificent cunt" -- fabulous delivery) -- same phenomenon, different profanity.

"Cunt" is the new "fuck" -- what a time to be alive.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Books You Should Be Reading # 8 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Will Storr vs The Supernatural, by Will Storr

I watch Dave creep up the track and, as the dangerous dark folds in around him, it strikes me that everybody needs a Satanist. Because knowing whose fault it is can be a great comfort. It helps define you, knowing who you're not. It's reassuring. Especially if you're an anti-Satan vigilante or, indeed, a Christian. And then it occurs to me that enemies can also be exciting. The thrill of having the spicy breath of the dark side prickling the skin on the back of your neck can be seductive and thrilling and vital. Isn't that one of the reasons why we want to believe in the supernatural, in the devil and in evil and in ghosts? Because their very presence in our days makes our lives feel less ordinary​? And the fact that they never quite get you has the perverse effect of making you feel safer. Is this just another chimera, invented by the brain, to make us zombies feel alive and to stop us blowing our brains out? It's hard to deny that these diabolical enemies are an excellent ointment for the self-esteem. After all, if something that powerful and frightening and unconquerable can be after you... well, you must be pretty important. Not inadequate or small. You're obviously not just a zombie, living an automatic life. There's just no way that you're here for no reason at all. If for nothing else, you're here to do battle. It's a war, an epic fight against evil. And that makes you the hero.