Thursday, August 30, 2007

Generic Music Rant

Josh writes:

I don't know music, but I know what I like. I just don't know why a lot of the time.

I mean, apart from the usual trouble I have formulating a reply when people say "What sort of music do you listen to?"* -- "I dunno, a bit of everything... um" -- I'm not even sure what it is about individual songs in some cases.

The collected works of Timbaland for example -- there are very few numbers he's had a hand in that I haven't hated instantly, then grown to really like after repeated airplay. While my sense of grammar recoils at "The Way I Are", and its lyrics are at best questionable ("Don't have a motor boat but I can float your boat" -- that's just bad) I can't get the fucker out of my head, and I find myself not minding at all. See also Regina Spektor's "Fidelity" (the "it breaks my hea-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-art" one) -- bugged me at first, but it ended up on the playlist at my Civil Union, right alongside Timbaland-produced "My Love".

And then there are the ones that go the opposite way: like it on first hearing, get sick of it right quick after a few more. I actually liked "Hey There Delilah" for a while -- the lyrics were abysmal, but the melody had a nice old school Simon and Garfunkel feel. It didn't take me long to lose interest though -- maybe the lyrics just got the better of me. Current offender is "Konichiwa Bitches" -- I liked its moxie to begin with, but somewhere around the fourth time I heard it on C4/Juice in a single Saturday morning familiarity started to breed some serious contempt. And there should be a comma in the title.

Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" though, is utter shit and always will be. Always.

* And seriously, who really does have a succinct reply to that question? How many people would really classify their musical tastes as purely "hip hop/R&B" or "Future Industrial EmoPopWave" or "FUCKEN METAL \m/ \m/"?

Monday, August 27, 2007

If you have sex, you WILL get pregnant and YOU WILL DIE!

Apathy Jack writes:

Okay, the last abortion thing was a bit ranty. It wasn’t because I was any angrier then (well, not much more) but just because I was channeling RSJS for no reason I can logically explain.

I did, though, write two things on the topic. Here’s the other one. I think you’ll find it sounds a bit more like me.

(Oh, and by the by, this was written three or so years ago, so some of the references to politics, my age etc are out of date.)

“Sir, every time my baby hears your voice he kicks.”
“Good – I’m training him! In thirteen years when he gets to my class, every time I yell at him, I want him to flinch!”

Y’know, back when I was deciding to be a teacher, it’s amazing the number of conversations it simply never occurred to me that I’d have...

This is why I feel strongly about the issue of contraception – I Know More Pregnant Teenagers Than You Do.

And, sadly, when talking about the idea of contraception as it relates to my students, I find it disappointingly expeditious to shortcut straight to abortion.

There has been a lot of talk recently about this issue. Here in New Zealand the government debated changing the Care of Children Bill with an amendment that would force doctors to inform parents if their child needed an abortion. In America (where such a statute already exists) George W Bush is tightening the regulations in such a way that some commentators are saying will lead to an overturning of Roe vs Wade (which, as I understand it, is the eternal debate on the best way to get across a river).

I’m actually quite anti abortion. Frankly, the idea that at the stroke of the final midnight of the first trimester a motley collection of parasitic cells quicken like a reverse Cinderella into a precious human life has always seemed pretty arbitrary to me. Fundamentalists will tell you that quickening occurs the moment sperm and egg fuse, whereas, if I’m remembering my history correctly, some theories once saw the foetus as part of the mother’s body until such point as it was completely removed during birth.

I don’t like the idea of abortions simply because they are too grey an area.

However, they are necessary.

I have seen fourteen year olds out of their minds with fear at missing their periods. I can’t approach this scientifically, because I have seen the panic, the worry, the tears. Over and above the fact that children should not be having children, it’s a safety issue; First of all there’s the physical impact on a young girl who has to give birth. The birth process counts as pretty major trauma, and before a certain age is reached the human body simply is not physically ready to go through it.

But hey, what do I know about biology? Maybe I’m talking bollocks. But I do see the social side of things; how their families react. One of my girls had to move cities to escape the negativity of her mother, understandably upset at becoming a grandmother in her late twenties. (This is another reason I can’t be too detached and objective – I occasionally wonder if I am mature enough to teach kids, without even considering having any of my own. The idea that someone a year older than me could be a grandparent is too much of a headfuck for me to approach clinically...) I remember having to deal with a mother who thought her daughter was pregnant, so came down to the school to try and confront the supposed father. I was in the office when this woman – who was known for not being entirely stable – started ranting and raving to the point of being quite threatening. And that was to the office staff and me – God alone knows how she had been treating her daughter when she found out. And that doesn’t even look at the cultural issues. In the same way that Catholic Girls schools always top the stats for teen pregnancy, we have enormous issues with our Tongan and Indian girls. (Well, you know what happens when you tell teenagers they can’t do something...) I’ve seen too many of these girls the week after their boyfriends were found in their rooms, come back to school with black eyes, yellowing bruises and a note saying they were away for a few days because they had the flu.

Of course, everyone reading this is currently scoffing, saying “Well, teenagers shouldn’t be having sex in the first place.”

Yes. You’re right. What a stunning insight.

They are, though. It’s what teenagers do, given half an opportunity. Certainly, not all of them do, but, short of dressing them in wetsuits with boxing gloves taped to their hands and locking them in hermetically sealed rooms being monitored at all times by crack teams of Security Eunuchs™, there’s not a lot we can do to stop them if they’re determined.

“But surely they’re taught about safe sex and the like?”

Yeah yeah. Do you actually remember your high school sex ed?

I remember mine. The school guidance counselor took us for a few lessons in fifth form. This poor doomed bastard blushed the colour of beetroot whenever he said the word ‘sex’. In front of a room of bored sadistic teenaged boys, he didn’t stand a chance. Our sex education consisted of asking the unfortunate sap to repeat the word hymen over and over again because we “didn’t hear it properly the first time sir”, and pointedly not listening to two thirds of the lesson lest your peers catch you paying attention and discover that you didn’t actually know the intricacies of female reproductive biology at the experienced and worldly age of fifteen.(As an interesting aside; those students in the accelerate program, working a year ahead of the rest of us proles, didn’t do this course – I guess it was assumed that the nerds in the smart class would never need to know about the complexities of having sex with an actual human girl.)

It taught us the important stuff, such as condom use, and that abstinence was the only form of truly safe sex.

But here’s the thing: We were teenage boys - We didn’t care. We wanted to engage in the human sexing. (That wasn’t an option for some of us of course, but, y’know, the intent was there...) The specific details of the whole thing didn’t matter to us, so we didn’t really pay attention to the video that had some youth TV presenter from the eighties putting a condom on a banana.

The biggest problem with the blanket solution of “The dirty animals just shouldn’t have sex” is: Try convincing them of that. I mean, they shouldn’t be. I’m all about the little bastards being thrown into convent schools with the hair shirts and the cold showers and the threat of eternal fire for the sin of lust, but (and trust me, I’m less happy about this than you are): Teenagers have sex. And in the cultures that come down harder on it, they have more.

So how do we make sex ed better? Well, for a start, we’ve got to start thinking outside the box we’re currently in.

Recently, Exeter university pioneered a study that said sex education for girls under the age of sixteen should encourage oral sex as an alternative form of ‘intimacy’ in order to lower the teen pregnancy rate. Early trials suggest very strongly that this is working.

Now, here’s the thing: Clinical trials back this up, but I’m still hugely unhappy about the idea of this being taught to my girls – and I admit that they’re having sex. Can you imagine how parents would react if the school ran it past them...?

One of my friends says that the key is to teach girls the difference between having sex and letting some guy fuck you. The idea being that if girls knew that sex was for them as well, about them getting satisfaction, something they could take power in rather than just something that made their boyfriends like them, then it would be easier for them to have some control and be safer.

Like the Exeter study – Great idea, but I just don’t see a way of effectively putting it into the class (not without my fragile little brain doing the explodo, anyhoo...)

Realistically, the key is for parents to take a certain level of responsibility. The proportion of teenagers who are pregnant matches pretty closely to kids who are raised with sex being a taboo subject in their household. (That’s a generalisation, but, y’know, it’s also true.)

Hell, I don’t know. My job is to teach the little incubators what an adjective is; I don’t have the solution to this – just a lot of sadness at the position some of my girls find themselves in, and anger that politicians are turning my kids’ real lives into some abstract moral crusade.

Here’s the best plan I’ve been able to come up with thus far: We line the girls up in the hall every three months and give them a contraceptive injection.

"What's the needle for, sir?"
"I'm inoculating you."
"Against what?"

As for dealing with the boys, well, I imagine working some manner of castration joke in here would be fitting, but frankly, after I’ve beaten the horny little bastards to death, castration won’t really be necessary...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Today there are two pieces of video goodness. Actually, goodness is entirely the wrong word, given that we’re dealing with The Aphex Twin. I thought for a while about how to describe his music, and the best I can do is that it is your worst. Fucking. Nightmare. Ever. In musical form.

The first video is Come To Daddy, without exception the single most disturbing song/video combination that I’ve ever seen.

Also, the “sequel” of sorts (in so far as it uses the same tropes, so makes more sense if you’ve seen Come To Daddy) Windowlicker, which isn’t so much a music video as it is a short film about Aphex Twin. Basic concept: What if your worst. Fucking. Nightmare. Ever. Was also a hip-hop video.

(As per usual, linked to rather than embedded because of the drop in quality that comes with embedding.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Burning hatred for men in scrums and the beer they drink

RSJS writes:

Hearts and minds, eh? The somethingorother sporting wahoo is coming to New Zealand in 2011. That is so far away, I'll have left the country, returned, got married, been defiled by pagans and sold to white slavery in Borneo before a single ball of indeterminate shape is kicked or smacked or thrown or wotever.

And there are plans afoot for laws to stop streaking, scalping, and "ambush marketing" which is the term for getting too close to an event when you're not paying for it. To combat this heinous matter, the papers state:

The law will create "clean zones" around stadiums and "clean transport routes" along railways and state highways.

Okay, blah blah freedom to blah blah fucking blah advertising skippidedee free country etceterfuckingra. Don't care, frankly.

What pisses me off is twofold.

ONE: The advertising psychopaths wielding ultimate cosmic power in their scarily-fascist tournament (I used that term advisedly as the governing Sport Billy organisation apparently wants internal unity and harmony without dissenting opinion, and the state's interests put before those of the individual) want to control all input experienced by the idiot fans with their coloured scarves and bloated livers. I'm in no mood to be overly dramatic and scream "mind control" but this smacks of keeping people on-program and trying to limit outside ideas from getting in. Sort of passive control by limiting options – makes the poor dears being herded less confused, more docile, and easier to fleece of their funds and yes, their very souls. Okay, so me not being overly dramatic isn't happening. Bite me. It's not the control that rankles so much as the fact they think it works, that by funnelling fans down hallways advertising only one brand of beer, cola beverage, weight-loss program, sock, condom, shoe, prostitute, political party, religion, sexual orientation... sorry, side-tracked... anyway, they think that controlling the input will make them money. They will have experts who dedicate their lives to finding semi-legal ways of duping people to hand over their dollars based on stunts like these. They fear and plan against opposing fiends with military discipline. They seem to imagine if someone walks down a row of signs saying Lion Red Lion Red Lion Red Lion Red then up pops "Steinlager" before the return to Lion Red Lion Red Lion Red, the poor viewer will somehow be confused and either buy the wrong beer, or get too confused, soil themselves then not drink ANY beer and capitalism as we knows it grinds to a halt.

They think that. They fear that. That's what they think of us, they see us as retarded wallets on legs able to be suckered into spending up large by mind-numbing repetition and the beatings of the ideas into the heads and fuck me running they really do think we can be programmed like a fucking computer. Data goes in, cash comes out. Forward the zombie consumer army. THAT'S what Big Business thinks of you.

Which brings me to annoyance TWO: For the most part, they're RIGHT.

I hate that we share genetic code. Hate hate hate.

...of course right now I share my genetic code with a rolled-up sports sock. But that's a story for another time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Foetus Not Into Temptation

Apathy Jack writes:

Pretty quiet around here lately. I blame society.

Anyhoo, in lieu of any new stuff, I present something that I wrote for a zine my friend Lily Petals was planning a while back, about, from memory, women’s health issues. Zine was shelved because, I don’t know, she had a life or some similar reason, and the things I wrote fell into a back corner of my hard drive, where I recently came across them. For your reading pleasure (alright; for your skimming indifference) I present something nominally about the politics of abortion:

“Abortions for everyone!”
“Very well. Abortions for no one!”
“Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!”

Abortion on demand, I tell you! Set up a drive-through window and have a clown with a coat hanger asking if you’d like fries with your womb-prodding.

Sure that may seem a touch rough, but here’s the thing: We live in a permissive society that gives people the choice to do as they will, and, as God learned when he gave the monkeys free will: nothing good can come of that. People will have sex – specifically unsafe sex, because apparently it’s too much effort to put a condom on and you know you can’t really feel anything with one anyway because half a millimeter of rubber may as well be some kind of scratchy wool mitten even though your average horny teenager could get off by rubbing themselves through a pair of steel plated asbestos long johns the filthy little fuckers – and they only way to stop these rutting animals is to go back to a puritanical law code that forbids people from having sex standing up because it might lead to dancing.

And do you really think we’re going to repeal all of those nice, rights-ensuring laws? Of course not. (Casual dismissal not valid in America, where, even as you read this - hand shoved down your trousers, no doubt, because I’m talking about reproduction, and that means sex doesn’t it you dirty, dirty little pervert - George “SPUC ‘em if they can’t take a joke” Bush is currently scaling back all of those rights to make the country safe for God-fearing heterosexual slave owners.)

So, with no law change to corral the perverts, certain truths must be made self-evident:

1) It’s a vagina, not a clown car! If these Russian dolls stopped squatting out smaller and smaller versions of themselves every half a generation the stats on abortion wouldn’t be significant enough to upset anyone.

2) It’s not an abortion, it’s a necessary surgery procedure to have a tumour removed. Surely these right-to-life monkeys (who don’t even believe in evolution – you want proof we’re descended from primates, look in the mirror you ridge-browed hominid scumfuck) wouldn’t begrudge a dying cancer patient the right to treatment? Well these tumours are more insidious: rather than killing the victim, they use the victim’s own bodily resources to grow to full size, then excise themselves and become perambulatory! These malignant growths then spend eighty odd years walking around polluting the atmosphere, funding McGlobalcapitalism, watching reality TV, voting for George W Bush, and otherwise fucking up a serviceable planet that we were ruining perfectly nicely without their help thank you very much.

So, in conclusion: You suck. Let’s not make any more of you, alright?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More or less looking out for me

Apathy Jack writes:

So, one of my Lost Ones left Hoodrat at the same time that I did. I ran into her a week ago, and got her new number. Got a text tonight:

How’re you?
I’m well. I’ve had a cold/flu, but it’s getting better. You?
Rather sick, actually. Fever. It’s horrible.
Probably the same as I had.
Maybe near-tackling you and making you carry me made me sick.
Well, no good comes to those who attempt to harm me – karma is on my side.
I’d hardly call that an attempt to hurt you, sir. It was an odd way of showing affection.
True, but karma gets confused sometimes.
You think so? I reckon it was misdirected karma as my friend was rude and stayed quiet. I need new friends.
You know where you could find a bunch of new friends? School. You still wagging?
I hate school. I hate my current school and its pupils. I don’t get along with the majority of them. So chances are... I’m not going to make any friends.
You need to find people with common interests.
I suppose so. But I can’t see that happening where I am now.
Are you sure? I’m pretty sure it could have happened at Hoodrat.
Hoodrat is, and will always be a terrible school with a few decent teachers and pupils.
You’re exactly right, but you’re missing my point – there were people with common interests there, and there may be at your new school.
My new school has what... 3 Caucasians. And I really disliked Hoodrat, to the point where I didn’t want to be there. That must say something to you.
I felt the same way about Hoodrat eventually... And you don’t need Caucasians – they make brown emos; you’d get on with them. (Yes you would.)
LOL. I guess so. But this is South Auckland.
Even my school has half a dozen – it’s about as far south as you, and has exactly one white student.
Holy shit! Are you serious?!1?!
Yep – exactly one palagi.
Shocking. Do you like your new school?
Yes, I do. I liked Hoodrat, but the New School is better.
What’s so good about your new school?
Better management – less corrupt and inefficient.
Sounds ideal.
It makes my life considerably easier.
Still no girlfriend, sir?
Mind your business.
LOL you know me. Nosey as hell.
True. To satisfy your curiosity: Yes, I have a girlfriend, and no, you don’t get to find out all about her.
Congrats, sir! She better be nice or I’ll have to have a little chat with her. Mnk?
She’s very nice, don’t worry.
Good. I would give her the mean beatdowns if she didn’t treat you well.
So far, she’s safe from you.
Pfft I’ll get her.
I’d really rather you didn’t...
I know, I know. More or less looking out for you.
I suppose that means I’ve got it better than some people.
Indeed you do. You have a student army, you know.
I used to...
Still do. Plenty of students you’ve befriended have your back.
Well, that could come in handy if I ever decide to take over various things.
Indeed. Heil Mister.
That’s right. Mister Prevails.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Anti Child Abuse; Pro Multi-Car Pileups

Josh writes:

You can't be serious. Stop your car on the motorway and perform a meaningless gesture that does nothing to actually combat child abuse? Is Christine Rankin on the crack or what?

No, hang on.

*chants to self "Principle of Charity, Principle of Charity, Principle of Charity"*

So what did she actually say? Well, I'm not sure. Here's the quote from that article:

"If they have the courage and they stop wherever they really are at that time then that is fantastic, go for it."
There's no actual indication that she said this in response to "What? Even if they're driving their car down the motorway?" so it's possible that the implication is being drawn without her actually explicitly stating it. But in any case, it's a stupid fucking idea -- one that will likely cause more harm than good, as people think "right, stood for three minutes, that's my bit to stop child abuse done" and do nothing more productive -- so she's full of crap, Charity or no.

I am getting a wee bit sick of contextless quotes in the media -- and worse, contextless partial quotes. I would love to see the full transcript where Helen Clark supposedly called John Key "it" for instance. Did she actually say "We hates the Leader of the Opposition. It is a foreign exchange dealer and it stole our precioussss"? Or was it more like "The biggest threat facing New Zealand isn't gangs or dogs -- it is a foreign exchange dealer who thinks he knows what's best for us" or something equally politically-bitchy-yet-not-actually-dehumanizing? I guess the Herald doesn't think we need to worry about such trifles.

Mmm... trifle...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Today’s video is Rabbit In Your Headlights by Unkle, with guest vocals from Thom Yorke. It’s less a music video and more five minutes of something happening, with Unkle music as the soundtrack, but, in its own way, it’s as mind blowing as the Just video.

(As per usual, linked to rather than embedded because of the drop in quality that comes with embedding.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

More Scroobius Pip stuff - the track "Letter from God", from his collaboration with DJ Dan Le Sac, complete with home-made video by a fan.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

I'm the mood for poetry! (This will take a day or so to get out of my system. Live with it.)

Today's unspoken word poetry, open-heart flowetry is from bearded weirdo Scroobius Pip; An improvised piece he made upon getting out of bed one morning. The quality of the sound is appallingly bad, but by gracious he can rhyme quite well.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Slings and Arrows and Lesbian Bikers

Josh writes:

OK, do we all watch Outrageous Fortune here? About last night's episode...

Can someone explain this to me? Van goes, in the space of half an episode, from A Bit Thick to Genuinely Mentally Damaged, fucks up his life in a fit of hysterical paranoia and contributes directly to the death of his girlfriend, and yet the overall feeling I got from the episode was that we should be feeling sorry for him? Or at least, no sympathy seemed to be on offer for Aurora, who's only sins were to try to please all the people all the time and fail to penetrate the heavy wall of Retarded Jealousy that had magically materialised around Van, getting nothing but a "stop messing with my son" from Cheryl. The "Goodnight Kiwi Music" playing at the end was a nice touch, but only really served to make Aurora's death all about Van, as opposed to, say, Aurora.

Was that bad writing? Am I just being overly critical, possibly suffering Chasing Amy flashbacks or something?

And where are they going with this, if anywhere? Is it meant to be telling us something about the nature of Cheryl's relationship to Van (Bad Son in season 1, Good Son in season 2, Mummy's "Special" Little Boy in season 3)? The trailer for next week's episode seemed to indicate that the Wests are in full-on righteous indignation mode at being refused access to the funeral of the woman their son killed, rather than, say feeling a bit guilty or contrite or anything. We'll see.