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.
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.
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.
chair reaches 3/4 chairfulness. Or chairity?
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
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) 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
quite seriously said ought to be burned. A connected set of short clips of a talk of
his to staff at Microsoft,
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.
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.
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.
Three tunes by Nicolas Jaar:
Little Seth /
Mi Mujer /
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
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'.
Apparently this is how to advertise
higher education in Australia. Do
not watch while operating heavy machinery.
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.
Prise last slats off
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.
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
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.
Dinner with Nancy &
in the evening, and I learn about David's
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.
Someone called Fiona not at
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?
& Franc kindly cheer me up.
Quiet Sunday at home counting the spaghetti.
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.
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.
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
Song irresistibly named 'Work
Your Flapper'. Jackie Harris.
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.
Jimmy Bee tells inside
men to give their women good loving.
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.
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
chair in current form. Finally some
snow on the ground outside, after all the fuss. About an inch.
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.
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.
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
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com