29 January 2010

Something in Auckland to go to

26 January 2010

Quote of the day

Existence was not only absurd, it was plain hard work. Think of how many times you put on your underwear in a lifetime. It was appalling, it was disgusting, it was stupid.

- Charles Bukowski, Pulp

Two weeks

It's been a fortnight without cigarettes. The withdrawal symptoms are pretty much gone, mostly. I'm very surprised by two things: 1) the withdrawal symptoms never got that bad, and I didn't have any truly foul moods, and 2) the large fuck-off cigar I smoked on Friday night seemed to have no adverse effects the next day.

Rose might dispute number 1. There were a couple of days of reasonably bad moods (19 Jan, for example), but it was nowhere near as bad as I expected. And I'm pretty stoked about number 2. To paraphrase Kipling, a large fuck-off cigar is a smoke.

22 January 2010

Revisionist prehistory: Booze created civilisation

Apparently, this archaeologist reckons the desire to get pissed on a regular basis was the driving force behind the agricultural revolution 11,000 years ago. 'Available evidence suggests that our ancestors in Asia, Mexico, and Africa cultivated wheat, rice, corn, barley, and millet primarily for the purpose of producing alcoholic beverages,' he says.

21 January 2010

Nice score

From the best secondhand bookshop in Wellington, Quilters, I have managed to snaffle an almost complete collection of the Blandings books by PG Wodehouse. I am missing three novels – Leave it to Psmith, Pigs have wings, and Sunset at Blandings (left unfinished when Wodehouse died) – and two collections of short stories containing Blandings stories.

As Evelyn Waugh said:
Mr Wodehouse's idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.

Waugh especially praised him for being able to 'produce on average three uniquely brilliant and original similes to every page'.

A bit more recently, Stephen Fry had this to say:
Wherever lovers of Wodehouse cluster together, they fall into debate about whether it is the Jeeves stories or the Blandings stories that take the trophy as Wodehouse's greatest achievements. The group will, of course, dispel, muttering embarrassedly, for they know that such questions are as pointless as wondering whether God did a better job with the Alps or the Rockies. The question is bound to be asked, however, because each time you read another Blandings story, the sublime nature of that world is such as to make you gasp.

The cast of resident characters here is greater than that of the Wooster canon. There is Lord Emsworth himself, the amiable and dreamy peer, whose first love – pumpkins – is soon supplanted by the truest and greatest love of his life, the Empress of Blandings, that peerless Black Berkshire sow, thrice winner of the silver medal for the fattest pig in Shropshire; Emsworth's sister, Connie, who, when sorely tried, which was often, would retire upstairs to bathe her temples in eau-de-Cologne; the Efficient Baxter, Emsworth's secretary and a hound from hell; Emsworth's brother, Galahad, the last of the Pelicans (that breed of silk-hatted men about town who lived high and were forever getting thrown out of the Criterion bar in the Eighties and Nineties) [and whose rude good health is said to come from his lifelong habit of drinking a lot, smoking a lot, and never going to bed before three in the morning]; the younger son, Freddie, the bane of his father's life [because 'Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons']... The cast list goes on and is frequently supplemented by young men we will have met elsewhere, Ronnie Fish, Pongo Twistleton and even Psmith himself.

Blandings comes, in the Wodehouse canon, to stand for the absolute ideal in country houses. Its serenity and beauty are enough to calm the most turbulent breast. It is an entire world unto itself and, one senses, Wodehouse pours into it his deepest feelings for England. Once you have drunk from its healing spring, you will return again and again. Blandings is like that: it enters a man's soul.

Wodehouse is often called the best writer in English of the 20th century. He is also the funniest. Here is an extract from the Preface to Summer Lightning:
A certain critic – for such men, I regret to say, do exist – made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names'. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha; but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

19 January 2010

Fucking art historians

Twice today I've come across passages in books where idiot art historians can't see what's in front of them. Do they have to fail an eye test or something to get their degree? I came very close to shouting at a book before: 'Saucepan! A saucepan! It's a fucking saucepan! Not a fucking trumpet, you blind fucking fool, the handle! Of the saucepan!'

Ye gods.

Get your fucking heads out of your fucking arses and fucking look.

I blame critical theory.

12 January 2010

The madness begins

To paraphrase the Stranglers, no more cigarettes, any more.

I can remember three dreams from last night. One was of a nuclear war, and the other two were of aliens invading the world. The main image left to me is of being part of a group of remnant survivors walking along a beach, scrounging water from ruins, and arguing amongst ourselves.

One of the others also involved a river, which I think is the same river that's been cropping up in a few dreams recently. It's reasonably wide and deep, with high sandstone banks.

In other news, here's something in Masterton to go to:

11 January 2010


So after this packet of tobacco, which is nearly finished, I'm giving up the cigarettes. It's not that I want to, but I haven't had an income for almost a year now.

Fucking hell, the next couple of weeks are going to be ugly. I've done this before, and everyone who was around has said, quite vehemently, that they don't want to be anywhere in the vicinity if I do it again. Too bad for them. The main thing I'm worried about is whether I'll be able to do any drawing.

08 January 2010

Drawing inspiration

The last three drawings I've done have been sourced from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf (which I've recently read for the first time since I was about 15), George Orwell's essay 'Books v. cigarettes' (very loosely), and the Doctor Who story 'Genesis of the Daleks'. The latter is possibly the best Doctor Who story ever.

Here is a classic scene from 'Genesis of the Daleks', which is completely unrelated to my drawing:

Doctor Who trailer

07 January 2010

Time for some nice Herzog

06 January 2010

How to have a party the Renaissance way

Here is Vasari on a banquet held by the Compagnia della Cazzuola:
Ceres, seeking Proserpine her daughter, who had been carried off by Pluto, entered the room where the men of the Cazzuola were assembled, and, coming before their master, besought him that they should accompany her to the infernal regions. To which request consenting after much discussion, they went after her, and so, entering into a somewhat darkened room, they saw in place of a door a vast mouth of a serpent, the head of which took up the whole wall. Round which door all crowding together, while Cerberus barked, Ceres called out asking whether her lost daughter were in there, and, a voice having answered Yes, she added that she desired to have her back. But Pluto replied that he would not give her up, and invited Ceres with all the company to the nuptials that were being prepared; and the invitation was accepted. Whereupon, all having entered through that mouth, which was full of teeth, and which, being hung on hinges, opened to each couple of men that entered, and then shut again, they found themselves at last in a great room of a round shape, which had no light but a very little one in the centre, which burned so dim that they could scarcely see one another. There, having been pushed into their seats with a great fork by a most hideous Devil who was in the middle, beside the tables, which were draped in black, Pluto commanded that in honor of his nuptials the pains of Hell should cease for as long as those guests remained there; and so it was done.

Now in that room were painted all the chasms of the regions of the damned, with their pains and torments; and, fire being put to a match of tow, in a flash a light was kindled at each chasm, thus revealing in the picture in what manner and with what pains those who were in it were tormented. The viands of that infernal supper were all animals vile and most hideous in appearance; but nevertheless within, under the loathly covering and the shape of the pastry, were most delicate meats of many kinds. The skin, I say, on the outer side, made it appear as if they were serpents, grass-snakes, lizards large and small, tarantulas, toads, frogs, scorpions, bats, and other suchlike animals; but within all were composed of the choicest viands. And these were placed on the tables before every man with a shovel, under the direction of the Devil, who was in the middle, while a companion poured out exquisite wines from a horn of glass, ugly and monstrous in shape, into glazed crucibles, which served as drinking glasses. These first viands finished, which formed a sort of relish, dead men's bones were set all the way down the table in place of fruits and sweetmeats, as if the supper, which was scarcely begun, were finished; which reliquary fruits were of sugar. That done, Pluto, who proclaimed that he wished to go to his repose with his Proserpine, commanded that the pains should return to torment the damned; and in a moment all the lights that have been mentioned were blown out by a sort of wind, on every side were heard rumblings, voices, and cries, awesome and horrible, and in the middle of that darkness, with a little light, was seen the image of Baia the bombardier, who was one of the guests, as has been related condemned to Hell by Pluto for having always chosen as the subjects and inventions of his girandole and other fireworks the seven mortal sins and the things of Hell. While all were occupied in gazing on that spectacle and listening to various sounds of lamentation, the mournful and funereal table was taken away, and in place of it, lights being kindled, was seen a very rich and regal feast, with splendid servants who brought the rest of the supper, which was handsome and magnificent. At the end of the supper came a ship full of various confections, and the crew of the ship, pretending to remove their merchandize, little by little brought the men of the Company into the upper rooms, where, a very rich scenic setting having been already prepared, there was performed a comedy called the Filogenia, which was much extolled; and at dawn, the play finished, every man went happily home.

03 January 2010

Camping pics

Rose and I have just spent a few days camping at Kiriwhakapapa, a bit north of Masterton.

I was talking with my dad before we left, and mentioned that the decadent modern society we live in can be easily summed up by the fact that our camping lantern has a remote control. Ah, he said, but does our decadent modern society have anything to prevent you from sleeping on the hard ground?

Yes, yes it does. Check out our decadent modern tent (tall enough for me to stand up in) and decadent modern inflatable mattress:

Naturally, we took along lots of decadent food and drink:

Kiriwhakapapa is a very pleasant spot. There is a handy stream for keeping your beers cool in:

In the late afternoon, kereru roost in the kowhai trees next to our tent, and pay us no mind at all:

There are pleasant bush walks to be had:

But most of the time we were pretty indolent:

And then it was time to wing our way home:

Bloody good. We hope to go a couple more times this summer.
visitors since 29 March 2004.