Saturday, July 30, 2011

Glued to the TV, While the Rest of the World is Burning.

One of my oldest friends came home from a year away on exchange. We were talking shit, almost as if we were carrying on from a conversation we had been having before he left. I was surprised, and pleased, at how natural it felt

Talk eventually drifted to my veganism, and my drinking much less (if at all). I tried showing him that I was the same person, that I still sought out the lols like i did before he left, and that it was simply a case of priorities re-arranging themselves, due partly to the forging of new friendships, and the continuation of my ever present inner-dialogue.

But, as the conversation continued to drift, it occurred to me that, perhaps I have changed. A year away is enough to judge a change in someone, and Tim clearly felt some difference in me.

I hope it's for the better.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Darkness Comes Alive

Old mate Sam didn't much care for literature. So, imagine my surprise when, some years ago, he professed his love for Pride and Prejudice.

When i explored a little more, I found out he actually meant the recent film adaptation with Keira Knightly. He watched it a fuck load for a fair few weeks. I suspect it had as much to do with the presence of dear Keira than any other aspects of the film. But, i thought, never ask to many questions when an engineer shows some sense of taste.

So, you can imagine my disappointment when, in the middle of watching said film, Sam turned to me and said: "Fuck Pride and Prejudice is good. Heaps better than anything else Shakespeare wrote."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Her Gay Picture Never Fail.

Some of the Best Days of Your Life.

I had a week off after my knee flared up. I'm back training now, and feeling great. Yesterday I did an ergo, and I felt better than I have in forever.

It's amazing what your body can do after just a week of taking it easy, and I certainly intend to pay more attention to my recovery.

It also allowed me to regather my thoughts, which have a habit of straying, and muddling while in the midst of exercise regimes. 'James,' I thought, 'you're a mediocre C grader. Fucking, get some perspective.'

This doesn't mean I'll stop trying my hardest, or get lazy. It just means that I can be a bit easier on myself when my life doesn't let me do that ergo, or that hills loop, or that gym session.

After all, as Pete says, 'you do this for recreation. The only race that matters is in London next year.'

I won't be there, so, I guess it's a bit of a laugh really.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Metal! Revolution!

As you may or may not have heard, Cadel Evans just won the biggest alley cat there is. Seriously, how fucking big will the spoke card be?

As i was saying a few weeks ago, I have watched the tour for a long time. I have watched every single Tour Cadel took part in. At first, when he seemed to be making real progress, I was genuinely interested in him, and willing him onto a win, sometime around the mid to late noughts. But as things went pear shaped for him one too many times I, like many, fell off the bandwagon.

I didn't like the way he raced, he talked, he seemed to sook a lot...i got bored.

But nothing has made me happier than watching him win this year, because I really feel like he throughly deserves it. He fought tooth and nail, every step of the way, and wasn't a dickhead about it either.

So, as I watched him sitting quietly on a chair, directly following his stunning TT, the tears welling up in his eyes, I was equally stunned to find there were the first traces of tears in my eyes. I am a cynical bastard. How the fuck did a five foot nine bicycle racer drive me to this?

Not because he's Australian, not because I have any sense of pride, or any sense that our country has 'done something great.' No, watching Cadel last night, I saw a man's life long dream come true. It's rare to see someone realise this directly in front of a camera, but we saw it with him. I was touched.

It's that look that confirms that in forty years from now, with a pot belly, and a shit set of eyes, the man with the chin can look at himself and say, "Sheet, I did ok!"

Not many people can claim that.

Now, before i sicken even myself, I intend to party in the only way i know!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fallen Angels, Take My Hand

I am not a very good philosopher, in the same way that I am not a very good bike racer. I fuck about, wait for others to make the first move and ultimately, totally miss the mark.

The past six months, while intellectually stimulating, have been a case of my progressively realising that i don't have what it takes to thrive in the academic world. In some ways, this is a relief. There still remains, though, that residual part of me that thinks the whole thing is a bit of a shame and that, frankly, i shouldn't have ridden my bike and listened to metal so much.

My honours year is halfway through and, other than a debilitating caffeine addiction, i haven't gained much in terms of 'ideas about what i should do after uni'. I quite like the 'fuck about and see where you end up' school of thought. There is, however, a great deal to be said for the 'make some plans now you fucking bludger' method too.

Either way, something has to give.

I should also apologise, given that we are all here, about my blog's steady transition from relatively humorous thing, to terrible personal introspection thing. Fuck knows, its awful enough having to face your own failings, let alone having to read about some other muppet's who cut his hair, and lost his sense of identity.

Speaking of strange, here's Portal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enlighten Us To Your Way

I keep fucking telling people to listen to Morbid Angel. Will they listen to me?

Fuck it, they're loss.

Stronger Every Day

So i have officially sustained by first proper sporting injury. My knee has a tracking problem which essentially means by knees are special needs.
In the same way that kids with special needs often need constant attention, so too does my right knee. The only difference being that i have compress it to keep it tracking properly.

So I can't race the Melbourne to Ballarat this Saturday, which was going to be my first open. I'm disappointed, but also kid of relieved: it looked like a hard day at the office.

The really scary thing is that it is the first tangible proof that my drive to be better at the thing that i love most in all the world, will not be without its setbacks. This isn't a surprise, just annoying.

Thus, as the rebels in Libya supposedly take a firm footing in a key town, supported by ingenious engineering students who have developed remote control jeeps, that draw enemy fire; and as Rupert Murdoch's empire seems to begin it's collapse, all i can think about the future prospects of my right knee.

I've said it before, James, you are a fucking muppet.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fuck Morrisey

The other week I posted some blogs that I follow. I should have added this one:

Gene, despite doing my head in on a regular basis (DDDUUUUDDDEEEEEE), is a great guy. He's been one of my racing buddies this winter, and it's great to see him improve, in skill and confidence.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Racist Crime.

I've always maintained that for thrash to make sense, you gotta understand what the big thrash bands were listening to.

Guilty of Being White was always a touchy song. Minor Threat fans maintain it is an inherently anti-racist song. That may be so, but when it comes to singing along with Ian, in a crowd of mostly white people, the song takes on a more sinister tone, even if this was not the original intention.

Messages, no matter how well meaning, can be distorted by those who have other agendas.

So it always gives me the shits when people accuse Slayer of being racist (Tom the singer isn't even white for fuck's sake) for changing the last line of this song from 'guilty of being white' to 'guilty of being right.' All they were doing (in classic Slayer form) was issuing a warning.

It's called irony chums. Hardcore can do it. So can metal.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paramount Importance.

It was probably the fourth ascent of Mt. Macedon this morning (of the six i was meant to do, tagging along with Brendan's cruelty regime) that I briefly entertained the idea that I might not make it.

Shortly afterwards, however, I realised that I had to make it. If i didn't, how else would i see this movie?

I don't tend to be one for hyperbole, but this film, may very well be the cinematic tour de force, of this century, or possibly millennium.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

C'mon, C'mon!

Despite contemporary Australian politics' pig headed charge for the lowest common fucking denominator (and it's not even a very graceful charge) I remain hopeful.

This isn't because I have a shred of faith left in any of the parties, because I don't. It isn't even because i enjoy seeing what should be a process in which everyone is engaged in reduced to a proverbial mud slinging contest, where the winner is the person that looks most stupid.

No, it's because I'm hoping that, eventually, someone, somewhere, will sit back and say: "Fuck me, this sucks. Let's start a band!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mercy Killings

It's been a little while, and i had totally forgotten what it felt like to be in a race and think: "I totally have this."

I didn't have this, not quite anyway. I finished fourth at the Footscray road race on Saturday. I had the legs for the win, but not quite the brain, and successfully boxed myself in.

But, having spent the entire race out the front in the vicious wind (mainly to avoid the old Footscray blokes yelling at me) i felt it was probably the most honest race I've ever taken part in.

Not coming first is something that Megadeth have down pat. But, as I always say, if not coming first still means millions of dollars, and less pressure to be awesome, maybe that's the way to go?

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm A Negative Creep.

I have long been a defender of the Australian band Violent Soho. This is despite all my better judgement.

As a band, they are neither original, nor particularly skilled. They are, bluntly put, an immature grunge rehash.

And this is why they are rad. They don't give a fuck. I have seen one of their shows and, put simply, it rocked. For a guy of my age it's the closest thing to seeing Nirvana live...and that's ok by me.

Their lack of sophisticated lyricism, their stock standard grunge imagine is one, however, that i am quite sympathetic to because, pretension aside, that is what grunge is all about: simple, disenfranchised music. It's not a lifestyle, or a movement; it's just a bunch of tunes that are kinda heavy, and kinda rad.

When challenged about their lack of originality and their many detractors, the singer had this to say:

"I guess they can go party with lame MacBook looping electro-pop hipsters and live under the illusion they are creating high art."

Damn fucking straight. I will always admire a band, regardless of talent or vision, that refuses to take themselves too seriously.

Also, they went to school with Mckenny. That's alright by me.


So I just went to the doctor for the blood test Casey recommended i get, once turning vegan. While not stoked on my diet choice, he was understanding, and very professional about it, which is why i still think he is the best doctor ever.

Unfortunately, they forgot to tell me to fast beforehand, so I have to go back Monday for the actual blood letting. However, i did pee into a cup, and the doc checked the basics, finally commenting on my high blood pressure. He reassured me it could be due to general level of excitement about being at the doctors. I wanted to tell him i find Slayer blast beats exciting, not peeing into a cup which would in turn be examined by a very friendly Jewish doctor.

But now I'm worried. I am 22. I do not want to have high blood pressure, especially considering my general good diet and fitness.

I'm aware that, given the potential life threatening things that could happen to me, a probably wrong reading of high blood pressure doesn't really rate. But, hell, I figure i have my old age to undergo all these problems so that, at a ripe old age, i can turn to my son or daughter, with a gleam in my eye and say:
"You know what? I just pissed myself. You deal with it!"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

It's So Hard to Change.

I've been watching the Tour de France since 1992. Back then Indurain was on his way to five successive victories, via time trial domination, a strategy a certain Lance Armstrong would go on to use to considerable success.

I always watched the Tour with my Dad. I don't really know how it started, but as long as I can remember, that was what we did. This year will be the first Tour without Dad to sit at the couch with and talk bullshit. We never watched it live, always the half hour highlights, finishing up just as dinner was about ready.

I'm not really excited about the Tour this year. Partly this is because my own racing, and that of my friends, is of greater interest to me. Up until a minute ago, I hadn't even thought about whether dad's absence is playing a role. In all likelihood, it isn't. But i can't help but feel alienated by my friends who watch the tour religiously. They know more about the riders, the course, the stats, the controversies than i care to find out.

It wasn't always like this. At the risk of sounding precious, I was into the Tour long before anyone else i know was. This doesn't make me better, or more knowledgable. What makes me uncomfortable is how my friends treat it as simply a sporting event. I couldn't care less about the sport itself. It's just a bunch of dudes earning heaps of money riding very, very fast for three weeks, hepped up on anything they can take without being caught.

To me, the Tour means winter, open fires in the living room, eggs on toast, Antonia my sister complaining loudly about how she was missing the Simpsons, my Dad ignoring the racing and raving about how nice the French countryside looked, my Mum feigning interest when Dad drew her attention to some aspect of the race. The Tour is winter nights at home.

So when my mates start reeling off Cadel's chances, taking into account his move to BMC, or Contador's lack of morality, I feel like backing away and removing myself from the TV. The Tour de France is just a bike race that happens once a year. The riders come and go, the controversies develop, and are subsequently forgotten.

So when I try and think back to the earliest Tour's I watched, i have a vague recollection of Indurain dominating the field, of Pantani climbing, as if dancing on the pedals, of Ullrich taking a climb in such a low cadence, it seems hard to believe he doesn't fall over sideways. When i have these memories, the TV is only in the corner of the room, a backdrop to a much larger picture, of comings and goings, of woodsmoke, of eggs on toast.

To Assume, From Ignorance.

Brendan linked me onto this great blog. I have only read a little but it essentially tackles most of the topics i try too. The difference being that this man can write well, and his inspiration doesn't trickle off after three hundred words. The link above addresses the nihilistic issue i was discussing the other day. His most recent post also discusses his transition from heavy metal to punk.

Yeh, it kinda sucks when you discover your schtick has already been done, and done better. But it's also comforting to know other people kinda know where you're coming from, and even think it worth writing about.

Brendan, the other day, talked about one of the side effects of heavy training is the limitations of thought. I guess that is one thing that fills the void that Al Burian talks about. To throw yourself into a task, a belief, a faith, is too put off the realisation that we surround ourselves by construct. This blog entry is just one such activity, just as drawing a comic is. Even listening to Taylor Swift, as I am now, is one more way too propagate this myth of meaning.

I'm not sure I can stop thinking. And more puzzling of all, I don't know if it's a bad thing.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

You Know So Much About Nothing At All.

Slight change of pace. Here is a little story i wrote the other day when i was bored during a spare hour or two. There might be more where it came from, but I probably won't put it here, because the first part is terrible enough. This is a one off, i promise.

It wasn’t so much that the wizard was wise looking that caused one to pause. That is to say, he did cut a fairly grand figure, what with his long white beard, billowing black robes, and a hat that pointed upwards toward the sky, not unlike a wigwam. It wasn’t his staff either, though it was as tall as the wizard himself-dead straight, incredibly smooth, until the top, where it finished in a large protruding knot. Some might have said that it was the large black dog that walked alongside the wizard that added to the level of mystery. But it wasn’t that either. No, it was more the severity of his countenance that really struck one, on first meeting the wizard. His brow was very much furrowed. The average person tends to believe they know what a furrowed brow looks like. That is to say, they would probably believe this until they saw the wizard in questions brow. His eyebrows, already a bushy, brilliant white, fairly drooped over his eyelids, as if trying to reach forty-five degrees. His nose, long and crooked (perhaps broken in the past?) flared outward, almost in time with his steps, and did nothing to take away from his generally severe expression. His mouth chewed slowly, masticating not entirely unlike a cow, over some foul substance, perhaps tobacco, perhaps something more ambiguous. It was only his eyes that were his saving grace, so to speak. They were a brilliant blue that, when looked into, gave you that distinct, yet wholly uncomfortable sensation that the eyes owners knew more about you than you yourself. Occasionally, as the wizard walked, he would pause and lean down to pat his big black dog. The dog would sit, allow itself to be stroked and then, once the patting was done, both dog and wizard would right themselves, and continue walking.

The wizard’s name was Greg, and he was hungry.

This was, for Greg, an off-putting state of affairs, but one that could readily be addressed, given that he and his big black dog were at the outskirts of a town. He could tell they were nearing a town for two reasons: firstly, the smell of urine was becoming stronger. Secondly, there was a distinct smell, (and this was very surprising to Greg, given the potency of the first reason), of frying potato. Given that the harvest had turned out about half of that of last year, Greg could only assume that the townsfolk were cooking potato purely out of necessity. He wondered, as he neared the town gates, coughing violently due to thick wood smoke, whether he would be able to get away before the potatoes ran out. Poor people, he reflected, tend to get agitated when they’re hungry. Agitation always led to some degree of unrest up in these parts. Bastardised brands of anarchy, championed by village idiots, would occasionally grip the people, only to be forgotten the next week, when any sense that the movement might gain some traction became apparent.

Entering the town gates, Greg looked from side to side. There was almost always a tavern of some description on the outskirts of town, where both the cheapest prices and the least desirable people could be found. Undesirables could be tolerated, but Greg was starving, and poor, so there wasn’t really a choice. The tavern he had chosen had a dirt floor, with various scraps of unknown origin littered over the floor, and a smoke haze so thick Greg could barely see the bar. This was, in some respect, a blessing because on seeing the bar, Greg had a profound sense that he may have made the wrong choice. There was a grand total of one man sitting there, who was passed out in a puddle of what appeared to be beer, though admittedly it could have been water, if rumored water quality in the town was anything to go by. Greg sat down at the bar, ordered a meal and a beer, and then tried to do his best to look busy. The black dog sat at his feet. A man he had not seen when he first came in suddenly loomed out of the shadows from his right. He had the look of a man who thought he knew more than he actually did. He also looked to have some sort of skin disease, but this was less worrying that the former observation as far as Greg was concerned. Sick people were harmless when compared to the insufferable nature of the know-it-all. The man spoke, with a shrill tone, and incredibly quickly:

“You! I’ve got a question for you!” Greg raised his eyebrows.

“How do we know if we know something?” the man asked. Greg groaned. Christ. A philosopher. Greg cleared his throat, looked directly at the man, and said:

“What do you mean how do I know when we know something? For me to know if I know something I would have to know what it takes to know, which I don’t know, so it stands to reason that I cannot possibly know what it is to know. How can I recognize knowledge if I don’t know what it is to know it?”

The man started at Greg, blinking.

“You might have just said justified true belief counts as knowledge” he muttered.

“I might have said that” answered Greg, trying desperately to think of a way to rap up this conversation, which was heading rapidly into the realms of full scale philosophical debate. “But that simply doesn’t cut it. Say I am told on good authority that a particular tavern serves an excellent stew. This is because the cook there knows a secret recipe for a mean stew. I go to the tavern and eat the stew, and it is indeed delicious. Without my knowing though, the cook left some time ago, and the stew I ate was cooked by another cook altogether, though it was also delicious. Did I know that the stew at the tavern would be delicious? The justified true belief system says that I did, because I was justified in believing it (say I was told by a reputable source), I believed that the stew would be delicious, and it turned out to be true! But not for the reasons that I first believed, namely that the first cook made a mean stew. So did I know it? No. Does it matter? No. Was the stew delicious? Yes.”

The man, Greg noted, rather than being put off by this retort, seemed to have been spurred on.

“Very true bearded one! But then how do I account for the things I feel that I know then? There must be some way!” Things were rapidly getting out of hand Greg realized.

“No. There is no way. Knowledge is just a term for things we feel very comfortable about believing. We need to feel that some things are set in stone. How often to we hear: ‘I thought I knew that…’? There are some things that must appear to be beyond doubt, because if there wasn’t, everything else you build upon that bedrock, would come toppling down upon you. The day that happens, you get into philosophy, and eventually you visit random taverns in the town, talk to strangers about pseudo-questions that no one cares about, until the fateful day that you realize the one ultimate truth. That you’re a jackass, well beyond saving.” With that, Greg took a sip of his beer, wondering vaguely whether his meal would arrive soon. The man looked a little hurt, and slumped down onto the stool next to Greg. He gave it one last shot.

“Well then, what about this paradox. If I take one step, of exactly one foot, I can surely half that distance, right?” Greg knew where this was going.

“Sure” he replied wearily.

“Right, so if I half that half, I get a smaller number again. Eventually, I get to the point where I can half the distance travelled infinitely, meaning that the distance travelled is itself infinite, meaning I cannot take a step at all!”

The man leaned back, a satisfied smirk on his face. He honestly looked like he felt he had won. Greg knew the time to end this was now.

“Listen fuckwit, I’ve heard all these so called paradoxes. You know what they do? Make a seemingly simple tasks like walking, or making a pile of beans sound really hard. But they aren’t. Look, I’m going to get my beer, and walk to the other side of the room. If your theory is correct, I won’t be able to do it. But you and I both know that I’ll be able to. So is there really a problem, or just a problem with what you feel are legitimate problems? Enjoy your meal jackass.”

With that, Greg got up and moved to the other side of the table. His dog, after looking briefly at the philosopher, also moved over to where Greg had relocated. The barman, and the man passed out at the bar went about their business as if nothing had happened. The barman pretending to clean glasses, the passed out man continuing to be passed out. It wasn’t as if wizard/philosopher arguments were uncommon.

Philosophy was not looked on kindly in these parts. And with people like the philosopher being its only defender, it was easy to see why.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm So Tired

I was walking my dog just now, listening to Chokehold, feeling a vague sense of dissatisfaction about the world, as I walked though the leafy streets.

Whenever i go back to my Mum's house to stay, I am always overwhelmed with this desire not to speak to anyone on the street. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but it probably has something to do with it reminding me of how ridiculous it is to be vaguely angry with the world as you walk your dog on a crisp winter day, in a middle class suburb. That isn't to say things are wrong out there in the world, but it is probably silly to go on as if you yourself are hard done by. Unless of course you have been hard done by. But I, avocado prices aside, have not been.

So here I was listening to Chokehold, trying to make sure Sammy the dog didn't chase the border collie across the road, when Bolt Thrower came on.

Bolt Thrower are classic examples of the nihilistic social commentary that always attracted me to metal. Where a lot of hardcore is idealistic (in that is describes what should or could be) metal often showcases this gritty realism (in that in explores what does happen, without any real sense that it can be changed).

I imagine its this brand of social nihilism that attracts a lot of less well off kids to death metal. When you don't have the opportunity to learn that things can be better, one is inclined to accept your lot in life, no matter how much it sucks.