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Changing.

For the sake of privacy, beginning tomorrow, this blog will no longer be public. At least not in the sense that it is now- Fully expect that I'll be making a new LJ account. My apologies for the lack of wit or character in this post.

November Has Come

A phone conversation with someone who lives far away might have you feeling a bit sad, reflecting on how much you miss that person. This can lead to pondering about your life. You might question the direction you seem to be moving in, and consider other possible options. You're likely to be cautious when it comes to making final decisions. You will consider every detail.

I've never really cared for horoscopes, and this isn't enough to make me a believer, but it is pretty spooky. There's really a lot of stuff on my mind right now but I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment to put out anything intelligible. This November is going to be a trying time in my life and there are a lot of things, both good and bad, that I'm going to have to face. There are a number of entries I've saved up that I'll be sharing shortly, though for now, I thought I'd just give you guys a brief little notice of where I'm at.

In the end, I've gotten through worse times. I hope you have a better day than I do, LJ.

Jukebox Jackassery I

I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to music. I'm studying a lot of the theory based parts on my spare time, right now, but I wouldn't say I'm a Rolling Stones article writer or any credible source of information about music, but I do think I'm a cut above the average Joe Schmoe on the street. I have a good taste in music, I tell myself, and that everything I listen to must obviously be good- Why else would I listen to it? and that I must clearly see something in good music that a lot of people miss. So here's a little piece of jukebox jackassery that's been grinding my gears for quite some time. If I may, I'd like to propose a new rule of social conduct:

You don't get to be nostalgic about a time you didn't live in.

I'm going to go out and say that right now. If you were born in the 90s, you can speak about the 90s. If you were born in the 30s, you can speak about the 30s. But if you were not in fact born in the 70s, then I sincerely ask you to get off your groovy high-horse and shove your head as humanely far up it's ass as possible. There's nothing wrong with liking a lot of music in a certain era- Music, like all things, evolves over time, styles and experimentation giving away to new genres, using influences of the past to forge the future, and all that, and I can understand that- But I think something that goes over a lot of people's heads is that good music doesn't have an expiry date. Styles don't die, they simply become less popular, and if you can't find any good music these days, that's your own damned fault.

Here's an idea: Try looking for it. You might be pleasantly (or unpleasantly, seeing as people hate learning they're wrong about things) surprised to find that finding new music beyond the popular acts is easier than ever before. The community record store may not be what it once was, but for those that do care to find new, interesting music acts, there are plenty of resources available.

Last.fm is an excellent site. You join, search for a song or group you like, and a complex array of tubes and monkeys with typewriters will analyze the sounds and point out something similar you may also like. Pandora Radio works the exact same way. Depending where you live, however, cyber piracy laws may prevent those sites from letting you listen to things for free- in which case, I recommend Tastekid, which works the same way, but just gives you the names (and, if lucky, a totally unafilliated youtube sample) and not a free listen to the song courtesy of the site owners.

26/10/10 Fortune Cookie

These damned sugary little things are not an adequate excuse for a meal. Man, I am starving. Today's fortune reads... "You will reach the height of success in whatever you do." Well, you don't say? Thank you, Ginkgo's, for stroking my ego with common knowledge.

Tomorrow Comes Today I

I've always thought that routines are bothersome things. I suppose when we're all young, and by young I mean prepubescent grade schoolers, we can all agree on it, but not for any sophisticated reason or another. It sucks washing the dishes at the same time every day, going to bed while you're still wide awake, awaking when you want to stay in bed all day. I've learned a lot over the past few years, Hell, I'd like to think I learn something new every day, and one reality that's dawned on me is that life would be impeccably dull if nothing ever changed. It's probably why religion doesn't appeal to me- the idea of eternal contentment seems just as miserable as eternal damnation in my book. To steal a page from The Matrix, the computer program Agent Smith put it rather nicely:

Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.

And it's true, isn't it? We all do it, whether we're aware or not. Being a studious or efficient worker is considered a virtue, especially if you look at the puritanical work ethic that schools and elders try to burn into our heads from the day we're let loose from the home. People like to believe that the ideal intimate relationship between two people is forged by some sort of fire, that staying true to a person even when one has all the reason not too is a noble act, or that not getting laid very much after having children is a necessary loss. I'll agree and disagree, especially on that note about relationships, but that's for another update I suppose.

Regardless, this was just building up to something funny I saw the other day- and it's the intellectual sort of funny, not the har-har sort of funny, so don't read this as though I'm building up to a joke: I'm not. Routines have always bothered me, and it's only been in recent years that I've built up the bravado needed to nonchalantly skip classes I have at school. I don't view it as a bad thing, some days I've legitimate excuses, other days I can just pull some philosophy out of my ass to justify my deeds and pretend to feel guilty when it's expected of me. This year I'm taking nothing but courses I enjoy, especially creative writing, but I still skip it every now and then to break a routine- That, and my peers are fucking obnoxious, dim-witted little wretches. That too, though, is for another update.

So I was down at this coffee shop next door to my school- It's the fast-foody sort of joint, not so much a classy brick building with jazz and jackasses in berets and a soothing atmosphere, more so a watering hole for old people, lumberjacks, and putrid, noisy infants. I ordered my meal, a breakfast wrap and a danish since I was in the mood to treat myself (it's Monday- everyone should treat themselves on Mondays.) and sat down at a little table. Next to me, two guys, probably a bit older than myself, wordlessly entered the shop, ordered their drinks, and sat down. They had headphones on, small ones, and upon sitting down at the table they both took out cell phones. I saw one of them type away at something, hit what I presumed to be the send button, and then the other's phone would vibrate, and he'd begin typing away. It really struck me there.

It's the year 2010. We use phones to silently communicate to people who are literally inches away from us. Isn't that interesting? I think a lot of people would frown upon this, and go into some pseudo-intellectual tirade about how this is just a sign that society is going to Hell in a hand-basket, but I'd disagree. I see this as neither good nor bad, at least for the moment- it's just a sign of our times. If I were told, when I was still very young, that before I finish school we'd be using machines to talk to people right next to us, I'd probably think it's abs-- Well, no, I'd probably say that's bloody amazing since I was into the whole Digimon-induced cyber culture crazy, but deep down I'd probably have some quiet doubts. But hey, here I am. Welcome to the world of today.

This is good stuff. I think I'll turn this into a blog series.

$1000 in New York

Some days, I think it's easy to lose track of one's goals and aspirations, or the things ahead that really matter in life. I think, often times, it's easy to let little things blow themselves out of proportion- Hell, it's even easier to blow them out of proportion yourself. Drama is something I think we all secretly enjoy, in either some obnoxiously loud and proud manner or in a more guilty, secretive, even voyeuristic sort of way. Complaining is fun, I suppose, fully acknowledging all the things that bother you and telling them off, and it's fun having people listen to you complain, though more often than not it's not so much fun being the listener. I'm not against drama. I think it's lovely; life would be exceedingly dull without it. But I do think that while I've been sitting here yelling at buffoons for being buffoons, I could've been stepping out of earshot from them.

What's up, LJ? I don't ask that much, I suppose, I don't even know who reads this bloody thing. If you do read my ramblings, though, I'm more than fully welcoming you to reply. I don't judge. You don't need to leave a real name or any sort of identification. I don't really care. I'm just absurdly curious what's up. I don't expect this to get many if any replies at all, but oh well. As for myself...

It's been a slow weekend. Slow in the nice bang the girl you like under the stars sorta way, not so much the waiting line for Room 101 slow. On Friday, my day off, I quite literally shocked myself in sleeping in more than I ever had in my entire life. I slept a grand total of eighteen hours, waking up at about eight in the afternoon on after going to bed at midnight the night before. I've started speaking more often to what I suppose is a friend of mine in real life, and the conversations have been decent. I'm not sure why it is that I open up to the people I open up to, it's one of the few things I'm content with not knowing, but nevertheless I suppose it's just a little strange. I really go out of my way not to get attached to this town, and though I fully intend to stick to my guns, as another good friend of mine phrased it, I don't see the harm in having some sincere conversation with locals.

I was, for a moment, pretty overjoyed at the prospect of seeing Gorillaz play live in the Vancouver area this November, but again disappointed as I learned that a ride isn't exactly available. These fluctuations of anxiety and disappointment are something I have a love/hate relationship with, in that they do aggravate and jade me, but I recognize that life would be pretty dull without them. Perhaps I'm being just a bit naive and/or rebellious here, but I fully plan on seeing the show anyway, somehow. Someone pointed out I have an awful lot of videogames that I don't even play anymore, as well as a shiny, dusted 60 gig PS3 that I hear some folks are pretty eager to get their hands on. I'll likely end up selling these, they no longer hold value to me. It's funny, I think, how eager I am to sell off bits and chunks of my childhood for a few hours of pretty noises and bright lights, but hey, I guess that's going through life for you.

There are a lot of things I miss right now, but for the sake of having things to talk about for the rest of the week, I'll spare you guys an overly lengthy update. Have a swell day folks and goats.

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20/10/10 Fortune Cookie

 "Friends long absent are coming back to you." You heard it here first, folks! The Zombie Apocalypse is nigh. On a lighter note, I've always wanted to go on down to Chinatown in Vancouver here. China is where it's at, folks, I say Japan is pretty overrated by comparison.

Fuck formatting.

 I guess that's what happens when you copy and paste shit from OpenOffice right into LiveJournal. I really can't be assed to fix all the indents (or lack thereof) right now so I'll get to that sometime in the next day or two. Apologies if this makes any of my writing absolutely unreadable for a while. Deal with it plebes.

Youth in Asia: Part 2

Fridays, for as long as the accountant could tell, were something of an alleviating social routine- ritualistic, spiritual even, to those of such persuasions. Growing up in the Old Town, Stuart knew most of his peers, by face if not by name, but he had always preferred to keep his circle of genuine friends- and consequently, circle of genuine trust, relatively small. Nearing the end of the week was a special occasion where, without exception, he could take his mind off the metropolitan troubles of the modern immigrant and butcher a number of brain-cells in the company of good people.

Stuart was awoken gradually by the throbbing in his temples and suddenly by the throbbing of the car against a rugged path. He rubbed groggily at his eyes, tossing and turning in a hungover lethargy to find comfort in the back seat of the black '57 Thunderbird, though knowing full well that the numbing peace of unconsciousness would not return so long as the car was in motion. He tugged at the bundled up shirt that served as his pillow, and as he rested the side of his face against it, could smell something reminiscent of coffee and cheap cologne.

The scent cut into his weary head and he decided lying down was too great a futility. With ease, as to not irritate his senses further, Stuart slowly pulled himself up and leaned forward between the two front seats. He narrowed his eyes at the weak glow of midnight lights beyond the windshield. The Thunderbird crawled slowly and steadily up the dark yet familiar alley, as incapable of avoiding potholes as his coworkers were incapable of doing legitimate work. Stars and satellites hung indistinguishably in the Old Town sky above, with the walls of buildings illuminated only by homely flaming garbage cans and derelict flickering lamp posts.

“Mornin' sunshine,” a sincerely dry female voice greeted him.

“Euuuhh... my head hurts...” Stuart groaned, with his cockney speech as prevalent as ever.

He glanced over at the driver, a dark haired woman clad in a battered black German officer's cap and a thin, faded green sweater. Stuart had convinced himself that he knew the girl, Myra, to a far greater degree than most of the local immigrant youth, as he was entirely unsurprised by her amused smirk and quiet chuckle in the face of his poor condition. She had a way of finding humor in and making light of any situation, a gift that was charming at best and borderline sociopathic at worst. In lighter times, Stuart's father would've condemned a young and dangerous woman such as Myra, though Stuart had learned not to look at the world in such black and white terms. Nearly a half century of global warfare had left their entire generation desensitized, but it mattered little what Stuart's father would think now- the accountant's father was long dead, and his son was in a strange car with a strange female.

“Whose car is th--”

“No one that mattered,” Myra interrupted, “Some jackass at the pub talking to himself pulled a gun and opened fire on the back room. I fucking hate that noise when I'm drinkin' so I shut 'im up and took his car.”

“Then how'd I--”

Myra let out a sudden genuine laugh and the car staggered as it rolled over a pothole.

“Oh maaan, you were far under the table it wasn't even funny. You slapped Derek's ass and told him to get his 'slag arse back up to the kitchen to make a proper san'wich' and he punched your lights out. Sig and I had to haul your ass into back seat. That was... shit, two hours ago I'd say.”

Stuart raised his eyebrows at first, mouth stupidly agape for a moment before his mostly-sober mind processed the ridiculousness of his predicament. Myra's laugh was contagious, and he hung his head briefly to chuckle over the misadventure before another pothole jerked him up and down. Before his grin faded, he glanced over his shoulder and tapped the girl's shoulder.

“Think y'missed one back there.”

Myra responded with a cordial chuckle followed promptly with a silencing 'fuck you.'

Stuart laughed and reclined in the middle back seat, resting his head and staring blankly up at the starry sky through the back window. He dug around in the pockets of his loose brown bomber jacket. If his memory served him correctly, he seemed to be down a few dozen dollars, although he still possessed his supposedly lucky switchblade and decidedly unlucky necklace. The blade, he mused, was lucky because it had an uncanny tendency to make people he disliked lose track of their funds. The necklace, he joked, was unlucky simply because cursed objects tend to make life less mundane. He dug the necklace out of his pocket and hung it limply forward.

“Did I show you 'is? Some sorry slob at Feng's jus' walked right in an' threw the bloody thing in my face.” he slurred.

Myra adjusted the rear view mirror and took a glance, raising her eyebrows with a forced imitation of interest and shaking her head.

“Yeh. Some shiny lil' skull thing with 'is like... Germanian catch phrase dug in'na back of it.”

“Y'don't say? Can you read it?”

Stuart sloppily slung his head forward and chuckled at the sluggishness of his movements before squinting at the inscription.”

“Says, err... Heil, dast... Ist mein... Schniiiitzer?... Oh sod it. You read the damned thing.”

Myra slammed her foot on the brake, making the Thunderbird give one final bounce forward before coming to a complete stop before she snatched the necklace from Stuart’s outstretched hand. She raised it to her eye level, inspecting the object with a fascination that was either insincere or lukewarm. She turned it over to read the inscription on the back.

“’Eeey, what was that for? An’ whassit say?”

Myra held the skull inches from her eye for a moment before frowning.

“You didn’t pay anything for it, you said?” She asked, and Stuart nodded. “It says ‘sell me for drink money.’ We’re going to a pawn shop tomorrow.”

Stuart cocked an eyebrow and opened his mouth to say something against the proposition, but found his voice silenced by the unruly restarting of the old car’s engine and the pocketing of his necklace. He rolled his dry eyes and leaned back in the back seat.

“I can’t much make it out. I ain’t really studied up on my old German since the Reds came in and tore the place up. Probably just some real cryptic Old World mystical voo-doo trash. The shop’s full of junk like this.” Myra shared, with the courtesy of glancing into the rear-view mirror for once.

“I don’t think it’s rubbish. I betcha it’s cursed.” He retorted.

“Stuart, you’re still drunk. Just lie back down.”

You lie ‘own. This junker smells like slag an’ rubbish. An’ that’s my necklace.”

The car made its way out of the twisting alley and pulled over into a barren, empty lot surrounded on all sides by towering slum residences. Two or three burning metal containers illuminated the lot, where a few small piles of garbage and a number of trees had grown. The gritty brick walls enclosing the space were painted with the sentiments and murals of Myra, Stuart, and the handful of other working teens that occupied the area. Crude images coverred the walls from the ground to the second, and in some spots, third storey level, illustrating everything worth illustrating to the residents. The Thunderbird slowed towards a nondescript door and flickering ‘NO VACANCY’ sign. Myra turned the engine off and turned around to face Stuart.

“Why’s it important to you anyway? You don’t believe any of that shit, do you?”

“Bloody ‘ell, course I don’t. I’m just keepin’ it as a good luck charmer.” Myra retorted to this with a simple deadpan stare and Stuart instinctually parried this with a dumb-founded, offended eyebrow quirk.

“Arright, arright, ya caught me. I was plannin’ on shoving it up dear sweet Derek’s arse. Is that a better answer, y’Highness?”

Myra dug the silver object out of her pocket and tossed it nonchalantly in Stuart’s direction.

“Whatever. You’re buyin’ drinks next Friday. You good to climb the stairs or do I need to drag you up?” She asked, in a progressively less threatening tone. Stuart returned the skull to his breast pocket and gave it a pat.

“Feelin’ better… But if you’re offerin’…

Stuart grinned and coiled back to lay back down on the back seat. He gave the nearer door a lazy but forceful kick and rested his head in his hands. Myra emerged from the car and gripped at one of his ankles.

“I really hate you sometimes.”

“Sorry luv, I can’t hear you right now, I’m heinously drunk.” Stuart grinned with a fervent charm and was ready to burst into a chuckling fit, but found his smug aura of victory shattered upon being thrown to the broken pavement and dirt next to the vehicle. Myra lightly closed the back door, making no effort to dodge the drunken accountant’s head in the process. Laying painfully in the dirt with a liver full of ale and a pocket full of silver, Stuart succumbed to a ridiculous little fit of laughter.

 Fridays were worth living for, if nothing else. 

Youth in Asia: Part 1

From Sea to Shining Sea to Shining Sea: One Nation Over God.

Replaced weekly with an occasional flicker, the neon slogan written in English, Chinese, and Cyrillic characters loomed over the heart of the city, going round and round in a mesmerizing marquee. Below, a dozen banners of red, white and blue hung lethargically; above, a towering monument to the brave and foolhardy new world, embodied in a woman of marble clad in business attire and carrying a blazing assault rifle. Great ships of steel carrying goods, both living and inanimate, entered and departed the harbor by the hour, marking the District of Hong Kong as the trade capital of the empire.

The Lady of Liberty stood proudly on her pedestal of stone and flickering lights on an artificial island. Across the waters, every major street of the city sprawled as far as the eye could see, with anywhere from four to twelve lanes between the spires of glass, concrete and advertisement. Anyone who was anyone needn't travel far to marvel upon the Lady and the slogan, and anyone who wasn't there to marvel wasn't really anyone at all. Change was inevitable, and it came in form of noisy construction sites, busy, impersonal streets, and several fine shades of green. Various benefactors had set out to create a vision for the future in Hong Kong, and erecting a new skyline in hardly a decade was a testament to the ingenuity and commercialism brought by the Americans- whether people liked it or not.

Inescapable in the big city were the lights. Adorning every building were multitudes of lights coming in all sorts of neon colors; flickering, flashing, fading in and out in search of new eyes. Advertisements could be found everywhere, from the most bustling intersection to the narrowest alley. Night and day, often times, were indistinguishable, and it was easier for many to tell the time of day by what programs were available on TV rather than by checking a clock. To experience any sort of genuine darkness or seclusion, one had to travel some ways away from the Lady to the less presentable corners of the District, to the Old Town. It was said, by the locals, that even some of the most alluring women had to cover their armpits every now and then.

Stuart often thought of the Old Town as an armpit. In many ways, it was just like one- it usually carried an unpleasant and odorous air about it, it was seldom spoken or thought about, but without it, there could be no industrious hands to support the rest of the city. He was of the working class, though unlike much of the city's life blood, he hadn't come in overseas, and only seldom had the time and means to walk within eyeshot of the Lady. Today was not one of those days, he thought, staring dryly at the stack of Chinese paperwork that Mr. Feng had left on the counter earlier that morning.

Stuart enjoyed paper-based spreadsheets and foreign calligraphy as much as the next person- That is, to say, he didn't much enjoy it at all- but he took comfort in working for Mr. Feng as opposed to his father back in London, who by now had more likely than not died of radiation poisoning. Mr. Feng was as blind as a bat, hard of hearing, and quick to trust people, three things which Stuart and the other trashy European colleagues of his at the antique shop regularly took advantage of. Though column after empty column looked up at him expectantly, the groggy teenaged accountant couldn't help but find the twirling pen in his hand far more worthy of attention.

 

Sundays were without a doubt the slowest business days of the week, and the lack of any coworkers he cared to talk to made Stuart's twelve hour shift all the more sedating. From behind the counter Stuart was able to keep a fairly good eye on the rest of the shop and, as a means of procrastination, frequently observed his less pleasant shop peers. In one aisle stood Sasha, a rotund and dull-witted girl from Belgium who Mr. Feng trusted to do little more than dust off less delicate wares. She was a carefree, slovenly thing that would often continue waving her duster around well after the object in question was clean enough. In another aisle stood Derek, a brooding troublemaker from Ireland, who though sharp enough to do his work, was far too lazy to do it regularly. Stuart knew Derek was the prideful sort, all bark and no bite, and in times passed he would often make sharp, venomous remarks in response to Derek pretending to sort things on the shelves, but he no longer found this amusing. Derek had started coming up with poor comebacks to reply with in place of a dumbfounded, offended stare, and their exchanges would often result in Sasha laughing her stupid little head off like a hyena. It was only fitting- after all, Stuart looked upon them as one looks upon animals in a zoo. The only coworker he did not look upon was Sigmund from Hungary, who stood by the doorway like a hulking gorilla. And just like a gorilla in a zoo, if you stare long enough, they'll stare flatly back at you, as though you're the stupid exhibit to throw peanuts at. Stuart made a habit of leaving him alone.

It was a damp, mid-July Sunday shift. Once again, Stuart found himself, for all intents and purposes, alone, with only the twirling of a pen in hand and a stack of multilingual spreadsheets to keep him company. The fair drizzling of rain outside blurred and reflected the dim, neon spectrum of Old Town lights into the shop. The lights were obscenely alluring, even this far away from heart of the city, and Stuart longed to be outside despite having nothing to do and nowhere to go. As to not let the mind wander, Stuart let out a sigh and dabbled his fountain pen into an ink container, letting excess droplets fall back into the pool before marking down various traditional Chinese characters. The soft scraping of the pen tip across the unwrinkled, dainty yellow page was the quintessencial sound of monotony.

 

At once, the steel chimes Mr. Feng had hung upon the front door danced and clashed clumsily into one another, accompanied by the sound of falling rain outside. The sight of someone who didn't work at the shop was a strange, exotic event on Sundays, and so the attention of Stuart, Derek, and the fat girl were immediately drawn to the customer. His worn boots squeeked against the cold, dust-free floor as he approached Stuart's counter. He stood, Stuart estimated, well over six feet tall, fairly big for an asian man, with a few inches added by an off-white admiral's cap. From his large face hung a grizzled beard that draped over his haggard turtleneck sweater. Stuart's attention, though, was fixated mostly on a well-polished silver necklace wrapped in a small bundle of paper that he gripped in one hand.

“'Ello mate, here for somethin' in particular?” Stuart enquired, looking up at the man's eyes with only the occasional suggestive glance back at the necklace. The man shook his head soberly and held the shiny bundled item over the counter before dropping it carelessly.

“Is yours now.”

 Stuart opened his mouth to question the man further, but before he could put a coherent thought together, the chimes hanging from the front door had already dancing again. As soon as he had entered, he had left, and once again the shop was up to business as usual.