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2012
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February 29th; The mysterious extra day at the end of every fourth February which never feels as special as everyone seems to think it should. Finish Zita's Japanese detective novel. For lovers of the retro macabre, this is a ghost story set in the 1950s awash with amniotic fluid, waxen flesh, & birth defects. 'The Summer of the Ubume' by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, translated into very slightly odd English by Alexander O. Smith & Elye J. Alexander, is all a good harmless romp if you're Japanese, Scandinavian, or maybe British, but might make other readers a tad queasy. A woman is mysteriously pregnant for 20 months and her husband has vanished into thin air in a classic sealed room. Erotic undercurrents swim around the awkward central character, friends with two much cleverer intuitive detective types, and the loose plot ends are tied up with perhaps rather too many strange lapses of memory, but still quite an atmospheric story.

February 28th; Splitting two pairs of planks joined at one edge is even quicker than snapping them off the back of the tabletop in the first place. Dour cover art for this track is quite something. Goes with the way studio music producers take themselves so intensely seriously, as if they're doing something far more abstract & esoteric than making a tune.
February 27th; 2nd chair reaches 3/4 chairfulness. Or chairity?

February 26th; Walk up Gellert Hill in wintry but bright sunshine with Marguerite & fluffy dog Emma. A rather unsettling article about sleep patterns suggests that artificial lighting might be as bad for us in the long run as sleep deprivation. IT Attila said a couple of days ago he is learning about QT.
February 25th; Some clips short & long of renegade book-for-burning Cambridge biologist Rupert Sheldrake talking about his research on human & animal telepathy. I've read a couple of books of his (this, and this) but not yet the one with the excellently self-explanatory title 'Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home', nor his first book 'A New Science of Life' years ago that a review in Nature magazine quite seriously said ought to be burned. A connected set of short clips of a talk of his to staff at Microsoft, starting with this, covers almost the same ground as this long talk at Google in California. The main difference is that in the Google talk the audience don't notice Sheldrake's 3 or 4 jokes. Or perhaps, to be less charitable, don't get them.

February 24th; Chance on rather wonderful engraving depicting Enlightenment woman mathematician. Emilie du Chatelet here hovers in the 18th-century clouds as adorable cherubs frolic around her skirts. She intercedes for Newton in his Platonic heaven, channelling him down to her earthly lover Voltaire. She presumably does this by translating Principia into French, and by spotting that energy varies with velocity squared, not with velocity as Isaac thought. Compare with this equally earnest picture of femininity today, albeit with short haircut, Bladerunner replicant eyeshadow, and serious cigarette. 'Stay High (For Me) Baby' by Maceo Plex. Seems we still want women up there, floating in space somehow.
February 23rd; Supposedly this is mercury getting together with sulphur, but I find it hard to believe that is really all a picture like this is saying.

February 22nd; Three tunes by Nicolas Jaar: Little Seth / Mi Mujer / Hey Boy.
February 21st; Mystery Friend 1 rings up from North America while I'm cleaning my floor. Sounding uncannily like early Rolling Stones and early Pretty Things, here is some early Chocolate Watchband.

February 20th; IT Attila & I wait an hour for Bubu to turn up. In some old footage here disciplinarian Afrobeatist Fela Kuti looks a bit worrying as he glares at his musicians, keeping both them and his singalong dancing wives in time with sheer stare-power: 'Teacher Don't Teach Me No Nonsense'.
February 19th; Apparently this is how to advertise higher education in Australia. Do not watch while operating heavy machinery.

February 18th; Person mysteriously called Fagottron chops up and remixes Disney film soundtracks, using only samples from that film to create a club rhythm thing. Here is 1937's 'Snow White' thus transformed.
February 17th; Prise last slats off face-down table-top. Late in the evening I go out and there has been an astonishing thaw between a wintry afternoon and an almost warm evening. Spring seems to come this way every year in Hungary: a 48-hour transition in February.

February 16th; Move stacks of books off reversed tabletop in main room. Upset by the way the tabletop has been warping for months I finally took it off and put it face down on the floor about two weeks ago. Still gives the room a more spacious air. Now I start chiselling away at the glue edge of the bracing slats with a view to prising them off and regluing them edgeways for better rigidity. Easier said than done of course. // Well, in fact pretty easy. Ten minutes careful chipping with the chisel and three slats snap off cleanly leaving only a couple of flakes of wood the size of a few postage stamps. One more slat to prise off tomorrow. Stumble across curious health fad: who has heard of "Dry Brushing"? Meanwhile, Kalman tells me that a Year of the Dragon is supposed to involve conflict and general hardcoreness, as seems to be turning out for me. A Year of the Dragon could hardly ask for a more appropriate anthem than Fu Manchu covering 'Godzilla', come to think of it. "Oh no, there goes Tokyo," and so on.
February 15th; Dinner with Nancy & David in the evening, and I learn about David's chess-writing sideline. Sounds quite successful. They notice that my fingernails are no longer silver. My cunning ruse in late December of painting three or four nails with the silver varnish I found in my flat has worked remarkably well at stopping me biting them. On the days when the lacquer was visible I did get a few understanding smiles from older women at shop counters, but not much else. Still feel like I'd like to bite them, so another month of painting my fingernails on & off lies ahead. Should have broken that habit round about when my house gets distress-sold by court order.

February 14th; Someone called Fiona not at my bank branch writes to me by good old-fashioned mail this morning. Fiona says NatWest have decided they no longer want to be my bank and I have 30 days to close all my accounts and pay them back their 24k, as it is now, or I face court action. Nice. Especially since the two long phone calls I made at my expense to that department in late December left me with the impression they were sending me a loan-consolidation agreement by post.
So, an exciting month ahead! In the evening I catch myself inexplicably whistling the refrain from Modesty Blaise on the street. Very odd thing the mind. 1) Why that tune? 2) Why just then? I didn't even know I knew it. 3) Why so cheerful, today of all days?
February 13th; Both Kath & Franc kindly cheer me up. Happy day.

February 12th; Quiet Sunday at home counting the spaghetti.
February 11th; Am whisked off by Ernesto's friend Basshar in his big car to some kind of Near Eastern club or restaurant kitted out with water pipes and a dancing girl. The water-pipe smoke is apple-flavoured and very cool & smooth in the throat, meaning I smoke far too much - certainly for someone who has never smoked a cigarette - becoming dizzy and starting to imagine I am turning into a large apple. Serious Arabic men join us at our table, addressing me in Hungarian with grave courtesy. With Basshar discuss books, publishing, and events in the Muslim world, while I try not to stare at the wickedly flirtatious Hungarian dancer. This a barefoot lissome blonde who for a change (at least here) has a sense of humour & fun. She hugely enjoys herself wiggling around between tables striking poses & showing leg, staring deep into different men's eyes for a second or two while miming to Arabic pop tunes playing over the loudspeakers. A couple of little girls, perhaps 7, 9, come up the stairs from the bar below to watch her in action. The younger child cocks her head to one side with almost scientific interest as she follows how the blonde with the waist chain sways & ripples in front of one group of diners.
Via Thomas, a cruelly funny book review gets the measure of Alain de Botton.

February 10th; Out for Italian meal with kind Margeurite, catching up on her latest globe-trotting exploits. We disagree a bit about the US constitution, and then discuss various people we've each been "involved" with. Her dog Emma meanwhile dozes placidly, sometimes waking up to charm various other diners.
Update to interesting recent theory that cat parasites control our minds.
February 9th; Find myself in the basement supermarket inside the nearby shopping centre, wandering around doing some shopping. It's quite quiet and for once the staff outnumber the customers. A few of the staff look normal, but most of the males look straggly and mildly unhinged, like rockabilly guitarists on bad diets. They're oddly cheerful though. They and a number of the shelf-stacking women wouldn't be out of place in a glue sniffers' self-help group: somehow damaged people but in a curiously good mood as they potter about with various boxes. I apologetically ask one slightly ragged shelf-stacking lady for help finding cayenne pepper and, bursting with sudden enthusiasm, she exhaustively tours me round four different spice displays at far-flung corners of the supermarket, as if no customer has never spoken to her before.
Useful background to Hungary's mini-crisis.

February 8th; Song irresistibly named 'Work Your Flapper'. Jackie Harris.
February 7th; Trailer for a film about American-Indian activist 'John Trudell'. Not sure about the spoken verse or the comparison to the Dalai Lama but sounds an interesting story.

February 6th; Jimmy Bee tells inside men to give their women good loving.
February 5th; Visit the little cafe counter that belongs to the supermarket in the nearby shopping centre, buy something, and have a brief chat with the large jolly lady. It's about 5 in the afternoon. Even she, usually so robust and positive, is a little subdued since she has been working there from 6am and will clock off at 8pm. I've heard about the rather extreme working conditions from one or two of her colleagues before. That was when I asked why they have no stool even to perch on for a few minutes but must stand all shift. Still, a 14-hour Sunday is a tad more than I recall they had to do. I ask if a shift this long is not illegal? Of course it is, she harumphs, but what can she do? I tell her I can remember on my occasional 16-hour shifts as a hospital porter in England a strange semi-trance-like, almost hallucinatory, period each time round about thirteen hours. She laughs, stopping her eyebrows shooting up, hiding her surprise. She knows exactly the moment of weirdness I mean. These people really need a union.
Interesting graph showing how little money musicians make these days. They're not trashing hotel suites any more.

February 4th; Design a letterhead for some people in London, proofread short section of Bea's book about Yugoslavia, finish scraping e-mail addresses of independent bookshops in Britain (none in Northern Ireland, mysteriously) off a newspaper article that just gives websites, send latest pictures of physics book cover to Regina, photograph restarted chair in current form. Finally some snow on the ground outside, after all the fuss. About an inch.
February 3rd; Meet IT Attila at Arkad and explain game concept. Walking up the steps out of the underpass from the Arkad shopping centre behind a girl wearing stilettos, I see exactly how she takes the steps, walking only on her toes, at each pace the heel spike casually hanging down over the edge of each step. Probably easier than trying to get both sole & heel onto each step. We've been hearing all week about how terribly cold it will be today, with massive snowfalls. No snow. This picture from Japan shows what proper snow looks like. Open bedroom window again. Finish chiselling out slots in cross struts for Chair Two and filing them to fit. Lots of wood splinters.

February 2nd; Walking out of my building each day there is a strong scent a lot like men's armpits after sporty exertion. Each time it takes a second or two to realise this is slightly greener, pleasanter: it's some kind of herb. Various shrubby things lurk round the entrance, but each day I fail to sniff-locate the one that comes so close to male underarm aroma. Evening English lesson with Sound Studio Zita. She lends me a Japanese novel in English by Natsuhiko Kyogoku about (she says) ghosts in the 1950s. The evening is chilly, so tonight I shut my bedroom window.
February 1st; Send states-of-matter picture explanations to Aniko to turn into an illustration. Interesting rebuttal to David Hockney's intriguing suggestions about Renaissance use of optical aids by painters. I haven't read it yet, but of course if Hockney really claims that no-one can paint lifelike images without them he is a silly man, just as the writer in this lushly illustrated attack says.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com