Monday, June 30, 2008

A Bit About Poo

Sometimes a Monday morning demands a poo post and not one that involves Christopher Robin and Eeyore.

There are many different types of poo in the world. We all know them and probably have different labels for them. For example the McPoo, the field salesperson's favourite, probably doesn't exist as much in Sri Lanka as it does in England purely because there are less MacDonalds around there.

In case you hadn't realised a McPoo is when you're out on the road and the need takes you. You dash into a MacDonalds and head straight for the toilet, without buying anything, not even a Big Mac. Then you're done and you leave, simple as that. No fries, no burger and no apple pie.

But the international gold standard of poos, the one that must be everyone's favourite, has got to be the ghost.

And I had a spectacularly good one the other day, which has prompted this post.

A ghost, aaah, just the thought makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

What is a ghost?

It's when you sit down on the old porcelain, you strain for a couple of seconds, just pleasant straining, not serious weight lifter straining or anything, then "voodoom" and out it flies. On rare occasions there might be another strain and another "voodoom" but there are never more than two.

Then you look down into the pan and see no evidence whatsoever of the log. It's gone, whisked away like it never even happened. Yet you know something big, something satisfying came out. You heard it, you felt it and you may have smelt it.

The arsewiping adds to the experience and is vital in the judging process. One sheet of paper is all that's needed and it's only needed to prove that there's no residue. You wipe and there's no residue at all, no mess, no stickiness and nothing visible at all. A ghost isn't a ghost if you see smearing or have to go onto another wipe.

A true ghost happens in a flash, or in a "voodoom". It's gone, there's nothing to show, just immense satisfaction and the knowledge that you've had the perfect poo. For a few seconds you scratch your head with a "did that really happen?" feeling. Then you know it was a ghost and you get on with life.

That my friends is what a ghost is. Everyone's old favourite.

Have a great week.

Next week....the clingon - everyone's worst poo.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

God Is Good, But She's No Java J

The Godfather of the Sri Lankan blogosphere, Mr J Jones, put out a post that left me gasping with awe and wonder.

Fellows like Java have years of experience, sacks full of intelligence, vaults of wisdom and copious amounts of drugs in their system.

It results in posts like this.

I bow down with humility and admiration.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Post Gig Ponderings

Sitting at my desk, knackered and bollocksed after last night's gig with the covers band. It was our first gig in a little run of four in about two weeks. Tomorrow night we'll be playing again at the same venue with the same set, just to different people.

What's there to tell?

Well, we did one new song in the set "Somebody told me" by the Killers. You know the one. It's a big epic fuck off song, with more production in it than in a whole Abba album. For me it's not a technically challenging song but is one of the most challenging songs I've ever played in other ways. So many different drum patterns in it and each one is played for a few bars before I have to fly to the next one, all must be remembered all played with conviction.

It worked too. I've yet to write my post on the four stages of learning but I'm happy to report that I've reached the third stage with "Somebody told me", that of "conscious competence".

"Dakota", in my opinion is too early in that set, merely because I do an extended solo thing towards the end of it and that was quite hard to do with only a couple of people up on the dance floor and showing interest. I think the song is a good opener for the second set but will suggest to the chaps tomorrow that we do it without my solo.

I messed up the intro to "She sells sanctuary" by totally forgetting that we had decided that the guitar intro would be played twice round before I come in with that snare hit (Confab, you know what I mean). So I hit the snare as loudly as I could and came in with the force of a few angry elephants only to discover very quickly that I was on my own. As one of my first drum teachers taught me I carried on as if I had meant it. And it nearly worked.

We'd thought the crowd would be a hard one to get up on the dance floor but we were so wrong. They were out for a good night and went for it big time. All were up shaking their middle class bootie and there were good times to be had by all. Once we finished I must confess I sufferred a bit of drummer blues. It's a thing shared by many drummers; when we get a bit frustrated that no one's really bothered about the drummer when things go well.

Singers, guitarists and those blokes that get seen all get pats on the back and shouts of "well done" and "have you got a card?". Drummers get looks of vague recognition, people who have been dancing all night to your groove looking at you and trying to figure out where they know you from. It's our lot, it's what we do and usually I just accept it. Last night, for some reason it got to me a bit. Such is life. It's only crap drummers that get noticed by normal punters. It's only other drummers and musos that notice a good drummer.

You know, the big problem with gigging on a school night is the tiredness. I got in last night, unloaded my kit, jumped into bed at about 1 AM, knowing that I had to be up at 5.50 for work.

I must have spent hours lying awake, reliving the gig, thinking about each song, each good bit, each bad bit, with the adrenalin still storming around my body and fighting the tiredness as if it was it's oldest and most feared enemy. Eventually the tiredness won.

Tonight is all mine. No gig, no girls, no practice. It's going to consist of eating, sleeping and mellowing. Then tomorrow it's gig time again.

Dodgy band, dodgy venue, dodgy musicians.

God, I love it.

Have a good weekend all.

Happy birthday to T.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Strange Blogging Coincidence

Yesterday just started weirdly for me. I'd quite like to tell you about it, if that's okay of course.

There were two unusual things, no doubt caused by Dinidu's disappearance and subsequent discovery, a traumatic episode for most of the Sri Lankan blogosphere.

I normally have my alarm clock set for 5.50 AM, on weekdays. I like to start work early and find it incredibly productive to get behind my desk by about 6.45. I can get lots of mundane things done before being distracted by phone calls and other people and can get things done in about half the time it takes to do the same things at other times of the day.

On Tuesday night I got in from band practice and hit the sack at about 1.00 AM, quite tired but not really any more than on a normal Tuesday night. I woke up about ten minutes before the alarm was due to go off, I stared at the clock with that snarly feeling we all have when we wake up before the alarm. You know, that feeling of being pleased that we're up in time mixed with being totally pissed off that we have to get out of bed in a few minutes.

I dozed, woke, stared at the clock, then dozed, then woke and stared at the clock again, wondering why it wasn't ringing. Then I realised it was for two reasons; first, that it beeps rather than rings. Secondly, and far more seriously, was the fact that it actually said an hour later than I had thought. It said 6.50, not 5.50. That was why I had heard all of the unusual noise outside. that was why I felt a bit disconcerted.

That was why I jumped out of bed with the speed of an NGO fundraiser running away after knocking on sittingnut's front door and asking for money. You've never seen a red blooded metrosexual get showered, brush his teeth, put his eye drops in, apply his moisturiser, put product in his hair and generally spend time making himself look as if he's just overslept and jumped out of bed so quickly.

I was out of the house within about fifteen minutes and driving sleepily into work. All around me was different to "normal" and things looked weird. The traffic was busier, the traffic lights were changing with different delays to normal, the light was different, the radio presenters were talking about different things. My head pounded a bit from the rush and I got into work at about 7.30 instead of 6.30.

I was surprised to find that the world, well even my Company, hadn't collapsed because of my lateness. No sir. Everything carried on and I had to catch up and cope with a bit of a headache. Of course "catching up" for me was no big deal as I was still at my desk before many were around. Jay, my right hand man, had called me as I was driving in to see if I was off for the day and had forgotten to tell him, but apart from that there were no repercussions. Well, no repercussions outside my head, with normal people. Inside my head all hell was breaking loose.

It taught me a lesson though. The lesson that I should try to relax a bit more, that my obsession with being early to all things is exactly that, my obsession. Most people don't actually give a shit.

The other weird thing was blogging related. I had published my post, the very cleverly title Tat 2, about tattoos and the possibility of me getting another. You may have read it, it's about whether I should get another one, where I should get it and what I should get.

Lo and behold. I get into work, check the blog and find that T has written an almost identical post. About her getting a second one and what she should get and where. Her one was even called Round Two so there was only one word of difference in the titles. She's a bit scared of her Dad and I'm not at all. In fact I don't even know her Dad.

What a coincidence. I was amazed. Two posts about the same thing actually published at the same time.

Truly. Amazing. I thought.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Someone Check On Dinidu

It's hardly local for me but I think someone should check if he's ok.

His parents have gone away, he's home alone and he's been experimenting with VSOA and cooking.

There have been no posts from him since this one and I'm a bit worried.

Visions of him drowning in a pool of vomit, strawberry jelly and various kitchen ingredients float around in my head. They're not pleasant I assure you.

His parents' house probably looks like an outtake from an American teen movie. He probably hasn't eaten anything sensible for days and I bet he hasn't brushed his hair. That stale smell will be wafting around, the one caused by excesses of everything and the TV will be on at nearly full volume, which he'll be blissfully unaware of anyway.

Din, if you can read this, just give us a signal to show that you're ok, that you're out there.

Maybe a comment or even a post, just a sign, anything.

Tat 2

Did you see what I did with the title there? Damn clever eh?

It was about two years' ago that I got my tattoo, to this day the first and only one. It's a circular patterned thing, supposedly some kind of Polynesian design. I chose it because I liked it, there was no deep meaning and no hidden declaration of love for my family or anything like that involved in my choice.

Tattoos are trendy at the moment, of that I'm sure. When I was a kid they were the sign of a hard working class man, a Navy fellow or a builder, a wedding planner or someone like that. These days we've all got them. Whatever country we live in they're the must have fashion item of the day, a prerequisite for people thinking of getting into advertising. Many music studios won't let you in unless you can show that you've got a bit of ink somewhere on your person.

I've mentioned it before but I'm against ugly or unstylish people having tattoos. In recent years I've seen some of the most plain looking people, usually Australian, with body art. People who look as if they're about to go for an audition on one of these "What not to wear" programmes. Really, there's nothing worse than glancing at one of these square types and then having to do a double take because you catch sight of the devil on their left ankle or a tramp stamp crawling towards an arse that looks like one of the ones found at Pinnawala with a trunk at the other end.

When I got mine done I put a bit of thought into the position of it. Music Biz bro has one of those all over tattoos, starting just above the elbow on one arm, crawling across his back and shoulders and finishing up just above the other elbow. All well and good for people like him and D, but not for me. I wanted a bit more subtlety, something that wouldn't be seen all the time, that could be hidden whenever I wanted it to be.

The top of my left arm it was then. With hindsight I'm not sure if it was a good place to choose. I achieved my objective in the subtlety vein, but the result is that it rarely gets seen. If I have no shirt on or a sleeveless thing on then all can see and admire it. If you're lucky enough to sleep with me you'll probably see it too. But it's bad enough being a drummer at my age, I'm sure as hell not going to start wearing vests as well.

When I got it done I was warned that tattoos become addictive. I laughed in the face of those who told me so. How wrong I was.

Here's the thing, as the Americans say. I think I might want to get another one done. I want it to be a bit more visible, but not so much that every Sri Lankan Aunt will look at me and think I'm a bank robber or a creative. I've been biding my time and gathering my thoughts and I've concluded that I'd like something a bit meaningful, to reflect Sri Lanka and drumming, two of my loves. I'm not the kind of person to get my daughters' names done or anything like that.

I've been looking for a nice line drawing of a Kandyan drummer for inspiration but so far haven't been able to find one. That's as far as I've got. I still don't know where I'd put it and I don't know exactly what "it" is.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oh What A Musical Week!

Band Practice with the covers band last night, band practice with Mimosa on Tuesday, gig with the covers band on Thursday, another gig with them on Saturday, then a practice with my old, best covers band in the world on Sunday. It's probably the busiest musical week I've ever had.

Nice. I need it.

The setlist for the gigs reads like this:

You're all I have
Suffragette City
Take me out
Last Night
Golden Touch
Do you want to
Molly's Chambers
Long road to ruin

When you were young
Rebel Yell
Somebody told me
Town called Malice
She sells sanctuary
Chelsea Dagger
I predict a riot
Play the funky music
Rock 'n' roll star

Brown Sugar

What do you think of the set?

Anyone who can name all the artistes, without the use of search engines, wins a prize.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Remembering The First Time

The Right Honourable Cerno of Cerno Towers wrote a post about the fact he's passed the 500 day mark as a blogger. I offered him my congratulations and mentioned that his blogging has often led me to write a post or two.

There are many bloggers who inspire me in such ways. I read a post and my mind flies off on a tangent, then I write something. Cerno mentioned the first post I ever wrote and put a link to it. I clicked on the link. It made me feel funny. Not funny in the way I feel funny when I get a glimpse of Naz Sansoni's Levis, but funny in a "wow, imagine if I knew then what I know now" kind of way.

Here it is.

Monday March 13th 2006

Greetings to anyone who may have the slightest interest in this!

I have been contmplating the idea of my own blog for the last few weeks and it seems that I have finally done it.

The dilemnas of a new blogger are many. What elements of my life will I write about? What will I leave out?

How often will I update? Whose identity will I reveal?

I guess the experienced bloggers already know their answers to my questions, but they are exactly that - my questions - and they require my answers.

Give me time - and we'll see what comes of this!

There it is, my very first post, which I've copied and posted, a typo in "contemplating" too.

My life has changed so much since then that I almost can't believe it.

Mimosa hadn't played a single gig, now we feel like seasoned veterans. I was married, now I'm divorced. I wore contact lenses and couldn't see the end of my nose, now I've got twenty twenty vision. I still can't see the end of my nose unless I squint but that hurts the head a bit. I wasn't even in my covers band, now I am. I didn't have a tattoo, now I do. There was (theoretically at least) a cease fire agreement in Sri Lanka, I was one of the many who thought peace was imminent. Now there isn't one, now I don't.

I used to read the blogs on Kottu and follow the adventures of Electra and people like that with interest, now many of them hardly post, many don't blog at all. I certainly didn't dream that I'd build up my small readership, that I'd become one of the privileged few who can call Java a friend, though he won't give me his phone number yet and I have to wear a blindfold when we meet.

What about you?

What's changed in your life since you started blogging?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oh God, That's My Daughter!

There we were, me and the girls, sitting in a restaurant having lunch yesterday. The conversation was jovial, the atmosphere was kicking, our stomachs were satisfied and life felt good. K can be relied upon to make me shake my head in dismay, to roll my eyes with a amazement and to make me feel worried, in a fatherly way.

"Dad, I broke my record the other day."

"What record K?" I said. She'd pulled me into the situation and I had that 'damn I've just stepped in quicksand' feeling.

"You know, my record for the number of grapes I can fit in my mouth."

"Oh ok" said the Dad.

"I got 22 in my mouth the other day."

"You what?" said I.

"I got 22 grapes in my mouth, I beat my previous record of 20."

"Yeah, I believe you K, I do."

"No honestly Dad it's true, you can ask Felicity or Anna or Phoebe. And then I ate them all at once with spitting any out. Anna got 18 in her mouth and then couldn't eat them. I ate 22 honestly."

I believed every word.

That was the scary thing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Morning Post

The girls flutter around downstairs as I come to life. I can hear their bustle of activity, the TV on, the chinking of plates, the seal of the fridge door as it opens and closes. Hearing their sounds and their presence is a sensation I never thought I'd miss so much. Never thought the murmering of their voices, the start of one of their petty, once every half an hour arguments over nothing would be something I yearn for.

Never thought I'd miss Colombo so much either, that beautiful feeling of waking up surrounded by its sounds and its smells, that buzz that makes it all okay.

Postives and negatives. That's what life's about for me.

The week ahead is a mental one. Two band practices, two gigs, one board meeting, K's twelfth birthday (finally) and I must also find time to wash my whites.

Would I change any of it?


Life is for living.

Saturday morning's for whacking out quick meaningless posts.

That's what we do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More On The Stupidity Of Men

I was turning out of a side road the other day. A side road that met a main road, I was turning left onto the main road. I was in my car, you get the picture.

Like all men in the world I KNOW that I am absolutely brilliant and world class, perhaps the best in the world, at two things; sex and driving. We all walk around thinking those same two things, that we're a combination of Michael Schumacher and Ben Dover just waiting to be discovered. Many women won't understand this concept, you're usually happy to see driving as a means of transport, of getting from A to B and you usually see sex as an enjoyable activity, well some of you do.

For the hairier gender, driving is a continual challenge to our sense of masculinity. We need to do it as fast as possible and we need to be the best, the master, exactly like our approach to sex. As men we have to demonstrate, on an ongoing basis, our perfect sense of spatial awareness. There's none of that sitting up straight, face touching the windscreen while we negotiate our way through a narrow gap at the speed of an order at the Gallery Cafe. The man's way to approach a tricky part of road involves loud music, a James Bond air of nonchalence, one hand or less on the steering wheel and speed, lots of it.

And there I was. The traffic to my right, on the main road, had stopped because the car in front of it was turning right off that main road. I hope I'm explaining this clearly, sadly I'm not Cerno and therefore unable to give you Google Earth images and satellite tracking of the incident.

All of this meant that there was an opportunity for me to squeeze out of my side road and go merrily on my way. I did, but with a tiny little error of judgement. As I turned out I clipped my rear left tyre on the kerb of the side road. A minor thing, one that happens to many of us frequently. But being a man, it wasn't just my tyre that was clipped, my masculine pride had been hurt too. I'd made an error of driving judgement, which, in some countries gets you labelled officially as a woman, for the rest of your life.

I drove along for a couple of seconds with the thought that someone behind might have seen the incident and may have been reporting it to a Mens' magazine or even the governing of men (I believe it's called MENSA).

There was only one thing for it. In a matter of perhaps two seconds my agile mind, like that of a Leopard, made its decision, not that Leopards drive BMWs of course. I did the only thing that was going to safeguard my reputation as a man. It would fool everyone I thought cunningly.

I sped up. I drove like an absolute fucking mentalist. I covered the next half mile or so as if I was trying to qualify for this season's deciding Grand Prix. I figured that anyone who had seen me hit the kerb would now realise that I was in the most urgent hurry to get to my destination, that it wasn't an everyday error of judgement that had made me hit the pavement and scuff my tyre. No, they'd see my turn of pace and think that it was a natural mistake to make under the circumstances. Along the lines of

"Good God that good looking bloke's in a hurry, no wonder he hit the kerb. I wish I was manly enough to drive that fast."

I think it was the perfect plan.

It's tough being a man!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blogging - How Do You Do Yours?

A while ago Java told me that he writes a post whenever something comes to him. He has an idea, sits at his PC, writes a post and publishes it. Simple as that. He's a laid back chap with a sense of confidence about him and I think that's why it works for him. He knows that ideas and posts will come and can relax with that knowledge.

Me? I worry about the possibility of "drying up". So if I have an idea I write something down. It may be a handwritten scrawl in a pad or it might be the start of a post that I save in my drafts, perhaps just writing the title of a post that I can come back to at another time to finish. I save them as drafts and they lurk in the vaults of London, Lanka and drums like little creatures waiting to be fed. Every now and again I look at one or two and add a sentence, delete a whole draft post or think that I really should publish that one.

I often use mindmaps. They're a powerful way of putting down random ideas on paper, of getting your thoughts out without having to worry about the logical progression involved in making a list or a nice organised diagram. So I can have an idea and get it out, then add to it, edit it or scrap it whenever I want to.

But it's of vital importance that I get these seedlings of ideas down somewhere, whether it's a full scale mindmap, a scrawl in one of my journals or a draft post, I have to make a record of it or I wake up the next day with a vague recollection of an idea I had the previous night.

Indyana wrote an interesting post a few days ago on the same subject. The comments are worth checking out, to see how different bloggers take differing approaches.

As Chaar-max mentioned in this post many of us bloggers go through life with half an eye or ear open to the possibility of blogging about things. Does your blog revolve around you or do you revolve around your blog our soon to be married author asks. Do you go through life wondering whether something that has happened to you is good blog material?

I must admit that sometimes I do, but I'm determined to live and enjoy life in its own right, not to see it as an training exercise to give me good blogging material. There are many, many things that happen in my life, or to people in my life, that I don't blog about, usually for one or both of two reasons; that I don't think the person would want me to share that thing with my small readership or that I think it's just not interesting.

All bloggers must have that thing that goes on in our head during a conversation. The thing where we think, or perhaps say to the other person

"In fact I wrote a blog post about it a while ago"

And then wonder if the other person thinks of you as a saddo blogger type. Should I have kept that thought in my head, that kind of thing.

But, as time has ticked on, I've found that the thick black line that used to exist, the one that split the things and people I blog about from the things and people I interract with every day has become a fuzzy grey area. I've met many people via this blog and via their blogs, I've made some good friends through this pimped up diary and I'm quite sure I'll meet more people and make more friends from it.

Isn't it a fascinating and exciting thought that, in time to come, our future generations will be able to read our blogs and find out so much detail and information about their ancestors. While we put together pieces of the puzzle of our grandparents' generation to look at the way they lived, through old black and white pictures, diaries and word of mouth, our grandchildren will almost definitely have full access to our blogs.

In the meantime I'll keep writing my draft posts, scribbles on scraps of paper and mindmaps everywhere I turn.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sri Lankan Blogs - Marriages And Babies

I think too much, which you probably know already, pondering on the unponderable, ruminating on the unruminatable and generally hitting brick walls. While having a glance down the list of blogs on Kottu I thought of some blog marriages that would produce children and what the little beauties would be called. Have a look and you'll get my meaning.

Java Jones + The Indyana Diaries = Indyana Jones

Confab + Peace Lanka = In Search of an Elusive Peace

Unprotected Thoughts + Dilly Dallying = Unprotected Dilly Dallying

A Glimpse of Lady Divine's World + Dance In A Triangle = A Glimpse of Lady Divine's Triangle

Then I've got some combinations, I can't think of the kids' names yet but the partnerships look good:

The Missing Sandwich + Found In Ceylon

Chandrika + Mad As A Hatter

Peace Lanka + Service Unavailable

TV & Radio In Sri Lanka + Is This Thing On?

Saffron Says + Enhance Life + Eat Lard.

Dinidu De Alwis + Arbitrary Spurtations

I'm done. Any more with any more?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lately In The Sri Lankan Blogosphere...

It's been a while and many things have been happening all over our favourite blogs.

To start with Mr Sittingnut's back with his now normal mix of subtlety and diplomacy. I don't know the bloke, well I don't think I do, but I often read his posts and comments on other blogs and catch myself blinking at the monitor with a sense of bewilderment and intrigue. Like many I rarely agree with anything he says but I give him credit for speaking his mind. For an even better peep into the great Sittingnut mind have a look at this old post of Java's.

There's a three way debate/discussion/argument going on between Java, Sanjana Hattotuwa and Mr Nut, though it looks as if some semblance of peace has been declared. Java, with his best Norwegian accent, has suggested that they meet up for a drink and a chat and the others look likely to agree. In the meantime all aggressive and vituperous activity has stopped and negotiations on the possible venue continue.

Indi put up this post that's probably touched a chord with absolutely everyone who's read it. There's little I can add or say about it, just read it is my suggestion.

A newish kid in town is the Jathika Chinthana blog. I'm one of the many who don't know, well who haven't got the faintest idea, whether it's an entirely satirical or an entirely serious blog. It's funny though, in fact it's by far the funniest blog I've read for a long time. I just don't know if it's meant to be. Everyone's talking blogging about it, from David Blacker to Stirred. I won't be jumping on that bandwagon though.

Over at Saffron Says there's a nice and unusual post extolling the virtues of us good guys. We're a rare breed indeed, but the post has made us all think that we might have a chance to succeed with women. Of course once we think about things and reflect a little bit we realise that:

1. Women don't appreciate good guys
2. Will Smith has actually got very big sticky out ears.

Mr and Mrs Sansoni have returned from Amsterdam and most of the Sri Lankan blogosphere is waiting with baited breath for Dom's photographs to go up on his blog. Meanwhile the smell of cheese and herrings is wafting around Barefoot and there are rumours in high fashion circles that there's a new range of Barefoot clogs about to be launched.

The whole "7" tagging thing seems to be quietening down now. Everyone's been tagged (even me), everyone's tagged others and the last few people in the SL blogosphere, like Java, are holding out and resisting this childishness even though they really want to do it.

Thinkfreed has gone to the place where dead blogs rest. All links to it are dead and it's merely a memory, rather an interesting one too. But, D is still around and lurking has a new blog. It's called ViceUnVersa and you can find it here. So far it's all creative and advertising stuff. There's no sex, no politics and no arguments. Just like the ad industry really.

Meanwhile, over at the den of Dinidu there have been escapades with a python on a beach. Our favourite sexual rights activist has got sand in his arse after getting down low in order to get a good view of some fellow's "python". Yeah right. I wish someone would call mine a python. My snake rarely comes out of its basket these days and, if it does, it's usually on a solo expedition.

Gutterflower wrote this post about abuse, specifically some of the domestic type that she witnessed. I don't think abuse if funny or justifiable but the post is worth reading, if for no other reason than to remnd yourslef how lucky you are (I hope). A horrible and nasty experience is still narrated with Gutterflower's usual flowing and poignant style.

That people, is about it, the ones that have caught my eye in recent weeks. If you want more just glance at Kottu, the root of all Sri Lankan blogging.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Laser Eye Surgery - Part Two

continued from here

There I was, lying on an operating table, with the surgeon asking me to look at the red light. My head was held by something so it couldn't move, the eye that was being done first was clamped open somehow to stop me blinking and I was vaguely aware of a few people milling around in the background. All in all it didn't quite rank up there with having a drink while watching the sunset at Galle Face Hotel in my list of favourite things to do.

It's not an easy thing to find and focus on this bloody red light under the circumstances I tell you. I think that the machinery / surgeon can only actually do things when the patient is looking at the light so you do feel a bit under pressure to keep staring intently at it. Once I'd found it and fixed on it I saw the surgeon's hand, with something in it, descend towards my eye.

I'm sure that a blog reading eye surgeon will tell me differently but I then became aware of something in the way of a sharp instrument scraping the top of my eye. Because of the anaesthetic I couldn't feel much at all but I had enough sensation to know there was a bit of scraping going on. No pain, no discomfort, just mild bits.

In a matter of seconds the red light that I had been busting my bollocks to stare at went all blurry. It was as if I was looking through a sophisticated lens, one made up of many lenses, that had suddenly had one of its constituent lenses removed. Which is what had effectively happened. The scraping was the top layer of my cornea being scraped away so that the laser could do its burning thing on the bit underneath. Have a look here if you want to know a bit more.

"Now Rhythmic you're going to smell a bit of a burning smell in a second. It's just the laser and entirely normal, it will only last a few seconds." said the surgeon.

I had been told about this before and was ready, as ready as one would expect. The fact that the chap referred to me as "Rhythmic" was a surprise, I guess he must have been a reader.

He told me to keep looking at the red light, which I did, though it was more of a red fog than a light now. I heard some sort of clicking sounds, rather like a geiger counter, not that I've ever heard one of them, then I smelled a burning smell. It was a bit like burning hair, only it was burning eye, mine. Next he used some kind of tool to slide the top layer back over my cornea. Then they flushed the eye with cold water. This felt as if I was diving into a pool of ice blindfolded after being told that it would be nice and warm in the water.

The final thing was that he chucked a contact lens, a bandage lens of some sort, which would stay in for about a week to help the healing, over the eye. The whole procedure must have lasted no more than five minutes.

He moved on to repeat the process in the other eye. I shan't describe that in detail but if you want to know about it then perhaps read through the previous few paragraphs again. If you're a musician then just imagine a repeat sign at the end of this sentence and, well you know what I mean.

I was carted off and over the next few weeks and months went through a fairly regimented system of follow up appointments and recovery. The vision was blurry for some time but within a matter of days I was told, and saw for myself, that I had twenty twenty vision in both eyes. It was twenty twenty but through the haze.

As time went on the haze cleared and I was cock a hoop with my new found spangly eyes. I didn't need glasses, I could see things at a distance with crystal clarity and I could go to the toilet in the middle of the night without having to fumble for my glasses at the side of the bed. I wrote a post or two about it and generally felt lucky and happy.

But actually I did need glasses. I found that I had to wear glasses for reading, as I was warned might be the case by the clinic before it was done. This was a bit of a bummer. I spend much of my working day in front of a monitor and so I had to wear glasses more or less all of that day. It seemed rather twisted; the fact that I did the op to eliminate the need for contact lenses or glasses, yet I was wearing glasses more than I had before. To all others around me, who were used to seeing me in my contact lenses, I had had the op and was now wearing glasses most of the time.

Every time I went back to the clinic for a check they told me that the eyes can take up to a year to heal from this surgery and that I needed to wait until then to reach a conclusion about the outcome. I was a bit stuck. My distance vision, for the first time in several thousand years, was perfect.

Had I been in the army I could have been both the worst and the best chap to have around. I would have spotted the enemy approaching just after he'd left his front room, before anyone else had even thought about it. But I would have picked up the phone to call a fellow and warn him and wouldn't have been able to see the numbers to dial.

There was no other option but to wait for the year to finish. I carried on with life as normal during that time. I went to work, I joined and left bands, I split up with my wife and generally did all the usual stuff that we all do on a day to day basis. Then, when the year was up, I went back to the clinic for them to look at the situation.

They took a few looks, as clinics do, and told me that my eyes had indeed turned out a bit worse than expected, that they'd book me in to redo the operation if I wanted to. I was pleased that I'd chosen what I'd considered to be one of the more reputable establishments. Retreatment was free of charge and they were totally fine about it. I jumped at the opportunity too.

I'd have to go through it all again but I knew that I had to try, that I just didn't want to have to wear glasses all day.

I'll cut off here, sorry for the long windedness and the serialisation but you know how it is.

Next - the final part - I promise!

to be continued......

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saturday Evening With K

As an ad hoc event I had K at my place last Saturday night. Her sister was out at a party, a phenomenon I'm sure I'll have to get used to, and her mother asked if I could have her for the night. It was something that I readily agreed to, an opportunity to see one of the girls outside of the pre agreed schedule is welcomed and treasured, by me at least.

It's funny how being divorced changes the dynamics of the father and daughter relationship, well funny in a non humorous way and far more so when the father is the one who moves out. There are many things that happen, some I've mentioned before and some I'll continue to bore you with in the future, but one little specific one is the way that, when there is more than one child in the family, the "detached" parent rarely gets time on a one to one basis with any of them.

Almost all of our time together is the three of us. Occasions when one is away at a friend's place or out for whatever reason are rare yet were commonplace when we lived in the same house. And it's not a situation that a divorced parent wants to change. There is a schedule agreed by all, it's hardly practical, or even desired, for me to see if I can override it and, instead of seeing both kids, ask to see one. I want to see them both but we all miss out on the one to one thing a bit.

So this bonus visit was eagerly anticipated. I bought things for K to eat, all chocolate flavoured. I bought chicken (not chocolate flavoured) and baby corn and bits to make dinner with. I didn't anticipate a highly adventurous evening but I was sure we'd have some fun, probably music related.

All was going according to plan, not that I had a plan. I picked her up, we watched some TV, I cooked dinner, we shared some music knowledge and I listened to her teenage babble, trying to filter out the sense from the nonsense. I've always been good with kids, ever since I went to school with them.

K is music obsessed at the moment and as you probably guess I'm very happy about that. She spends a huge amount of time watching the music channels on TV and pays particular attention to the more rocky and indie type of stuff. I love that she's so interested in music and I adore her passion for it. It's not just like a teenager who likes music, it runs deeper than that and I know it because I was the same at that age.

A (her 14yr old sister) and I can happily talk about drums and drummers as that's her thing. We can chew the cud about a particular groove or I can watch her play and add my humble opinion about how she can play better. But K and I talk about music, about the way a band sounds or, as we did the other day, how some singers don't sound as good live as in the studio.

All well and good you may think. And it was, until K suggested a round of "Guess the Video". We'd eaten dinner. I'd had more rice than was strictly necessary and K had had about double that and she was busily flicking through the music channels on the TV. As kids do she was scanning them and stopping as soon as she found a song that took her fancy.

We established the rules of engagement. She would continue the scanning and we would race to identify the artiste to get a point. Of course if the title came up on screen before one of us had made our guess then it was null and void and we'd move on the next channel. We were a bit unclear on the need to name the song and that suited my game plan. I figured that my age, wisdom gleaned through the years and my overall knowledge of music would put me in the driving seat. I may not be able to name the song but I can recognise Britney Spears' semi naked form in less time than it takes for a tri shaw driver to spot a tourist in Odel's car park.

K moved into an early lead, which alarmed and disappointed me. Pride in your kids' achievements and abundance is all well and good until they start to beat you in Guess The Video. There are about ten music channels that we were surfing through on a continual basis and around three or four of them were "oldie" type ones, ones that played all time great, songs from the nineties, maybe even earlier. I realised quickly that these channels were my trump cards.

K was steaming ahead on the highly current ones, the songs featuring these rapping type of fellows, Beyonce, Kanye West and people like that. I was doing okay on the older stuff, the channels kicking out 4 non blondes, Guns And Roses and the like. We were battling it out head to head when it came to the Kerrang channel. It's one that used to show only heavy rock but now churns out heavy rock and the more Indie rock stuff like Muse and My Chemical Romance, the things that K spends all her time listening to.

One channel was running a programme called "Stadium Rock Hits of the 80s", which suited my skill set to a tee. Every time we came to that one I was quick off the mark and unstoppable, like Lewis Hamilton coming out of the pits.

"Eye of the Tiger, Survivor" I'd say and hear K groan as I won a point.

"Europe, The Final Countdown" and there'd be another groan and another point to the Dad side.

But the odds were against me.

"4 minutes, Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland" would be out of K's mouth in even less time than it would take me to recognise one of Madonna's breasts.

"One Last Kiss by Medina Lake". Damn, I thought as I was beaten again.

It went on, I acknowledged the fact, quietly and in my head, that I needed to get some practice in or I'd risk losing my "Cool Dad" reputation.

Once the score got to 15-10, in favour of K, I sensibly decided that it was bedtime for her. It was nothing to do with the score, just lateness. I sent her off to bed and did about half an hour of working on my game.

I scrolled through the videos and got ready for the next morning's battle.

Then I lost that one too!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Men, Fly, Pee, Urinal

There I was, in a trendy restaurant the other day with some friends. I went off to the toilet, as we men are prone to do.

Now I'm guessing that many of the women reading this won't have much knowledge about mens' toilets. Us men are quite used to them of course. We go out, have a few beers and then go off to the toilet. What's more we go to the toilet on our own, we don't have to go with a friend and then return about five hours later. But ladies take it from me, the average mens' public toilet is quite a nasty place.

Ladies' toilets smell of perfume and make up, sugar and spice and all that. Mens' ones smell of asparagus and poo.

One of the good things about being a man is that we can aim our pee. As a young boy I recall "crossing swords" with my brothers. Jets of wee would overlap and we'd laugh at our skill and swordsmanship. At school it was an ongoing battle to see who could be the boy who could pee the highest against the wall, with rumours about certain chaps being able to reach great heights. These days the modern man can point his willy in a chosen direction and pee with all the accuracy of Luke Skywalker with his light sabre.

With two daughters, an ex wife and my considerable reputation as quite the ladies' man I know enough about women to know that they can't aim their pee in the way we can. A few women DO have the level of muscle control required, but they're mostly porn stars and Thai ping pong ball artistes. Granted women beat us in most other departments but I think it's fair to say that we are the undisputed winners in the peeing stakes.

But the mens' urinal is undoubtedly the epitome of bad design. Just about any urinal, wherever you aim, gives some element of splashback. This is annoying and frustrating and I can't be the first chap to wonder why someone, perhaps Stephen Hawkins or one of those types, can't invent a urinal that doesn't do this.

Women, you probably won't know this, but some years ago someone came up with the bright idea of putting an image of a fly, yes a fly, on the inside of a urinal. The principle is that the image is put right on the spot where, if a chap aims for it, the splashback is minimal. Not that many toilets have this feature but it tends to be in the toilets of smarter establishments. Trendy wine bars, five star hotels, and the like.

This leads me nicely back to the start of my post. I walked into the toilet of this trendy restaurant and each urinal had a perfect life size fly painted, or stuck to its middle "minimal splashback" point. I unbuttoned my fly, hauled out the old fellow and fired, aiming at the fly. The fly, because it was a sticker or picture and because it wasn't actually alive, moved not a millimetre. So naturally I peed a little bit around its outer perimeter to see if I could dislodge it at all. I couldn't. I finished up, put the chipolata away, washed my hands and went back to our table, thinking no more of it.

Until some days' later. From nowhere the thought hit me, the thought that actually all of us men are stupid. If we were pets we'd be dogs, women would be cats. We can be taught to sit, to roll over and have our belly rubbed. We can be trained to round up sheep and do a bit of hunting, perhaps make a poor attempt to run a country or a company.

But we're ultimately so fucking stupid that, paint a fake fly on a urinal and you can bet your bottom dollar that every man will spend his time peeing furiously at the thing trying to dislodge it and make it move. And we do this knowing that it's fake, that it's not going to move at all.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Best Blogs Around

Hello, and welcome to Sunday.

I don't know how many of you use blogger as your host thing, or whatever the term is for your blog, but I'm one of them. There was no valid reason for my choice other than the fact that it was the first one I came across when I started to experiment with the whole idea of writing a blog.

Blogger seems to cover most of the things I need for my pretty simple online perusings. My requirements are probably erring on the basic side; something that can look fairly nice and I can use easily without having to be a technogeek. I don't understand RSS feeds and all those concepts but have been trying to learn about them and make use of them recently, which may offer you a bit of an explanation for the strange icons that have popped up on LLD in recent days.

The other day I logged into my blog to see those nice people from blogger plugging a new feature. A list sort of thing for other blogs and links by which you can make it all look nice and flashy, with the option of a preview of the first few lines of each link and all sorts of other smart looking things. It looked the part and appeared ideal as a newer and better version of the plain old links to other blogs section that we all have and love.

I had a peek at the tutorial thing about how to use it and whacked it in place. I checked all was working and, on finding that it was, promptly deleted the old box of links to the blogs that make me smile. For the rest of my working day, every time I glanced at my blog, all looked good. This was on a PC.

Then, when I got home, I had a glance at my blog on the MacBook, via Firefox. There was no pretty box of links, there was no box at all, just a title saying "The best blogs around". This puzzled me and I checked the workings behind the blog to see that all should have still been there. Then, when I went back to look at my blog, I had my list but not in the order that it should have been. Each line showed only the title of the blog, no bit showing when each blog was last updated, no title of the last post as advertised.

When I clicked on a link it took me to a view in some sort of reader. Very confusing, particularly for me. I thought it was odd but left it, as there were daughters that needed feeding and that it always of tantamount importance.

Half an hour later I glanced at LLD to find everything was as should be. The machine that is blogger was working like a machine, one that is supposed to work, and I was happy.

Ever since then I 've had performance from this new terrific feature that has been anything from perfect to total pants. I can check in and find my linked blogs are working like a dream, or they can be totally absent or most of the variables in between.

I was just wondering really. Have any of you other bloggers experienced this? I've noticed a few have started to use this new thing and am interested to know who has experienced what.

Other than that I hope your Sunday will be a good one.

Mine will.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shut Up And Let Me Go

K put me onto this duo. A cool looking drummer playing some straightforward but great feeling grooves, a sexy blonde and some wicked songs that make me want to dance.

They're called the Ting Tings and are pretty big over here right now.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Un, Dur, Twois, Cat, Sank, Sees - - -

I got tagged by Darwin in the 7 tag thing. It's a tag I value and treasure, as you may know. Then, after my dramatic shall I buy one of those boats that Dinidu's got and put all of you except Darwin in it post I got a couple of "sympathy" tags, one from Sach and one from The Missing S, if she'll allow me to call her by that familiar term rather than the whole Sandwich.

You know the rules by now, so I'm tempted to rebel, to push against the norm and to strike a blow for freedom. It's only a temptation though, so I'll bung the rules out below, just to stick to the rules.

You must:

Link the tagger and list these rules.

Share 7 facts about yourself. Some random and some weird.

Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here I go then. The 7 facts about me are:

1. Right now my hair is going through a totally motherfucking crazy phase.

Sharon (my hairdresser) and I came up with a plan to grow it out a bit and give it more texture. She only gave it a light trim last time, told me to grow it a bit, come back in about 4 weeks to have it trimmed and all would be good. She neglected to mention that she'd be away for about a week so, when I rang to book the appointment, I was told that she's away until next Sat 14th.
I dare not go to another hairdresser, that isn't an option. So long and wild hair, a bit like one of those devil dancing fellows, is the order of the day.

2. What if it's all a game?

About 15 years ago I used to play a very early version of Sim City, that simulation game where you build cities. The smarter of you may have guessed that from the title of the game. I lost interest in it and now I can't remember how to play it at all. But one thing from it does stick in my mind. I recollect once, while playing it, a newspaper article popped up in my city's daily paper. It proclaimed that scientists had discovered that the city did not actually exist, that it was actually a simulation played on someone's computer for amusement. This amused me and made me think. What if we don't exist? What if our world, our country or our city is just a fantasy played out on God's computer? What if the millions and millions of years of evolution are merely 5 minutes in God's lunchbreak? What kind of sandwiches does God have for lunch? Who makes them?

3. I wear many hats.

Metaphorical ones that is. Yet the only one that fits me with total comfort, that feels like a soft silk sarong, is that of a drummer. I'm no master of the art by any means, I just love to do it. I lose myself when I'm playing and it gives me a type of enjoyment that is unique in my life. I also hold a strange belief that many Sri Lankans have an innate sense of rhythm, that it's in the blood somehow.

4. Feet matter to me.

When checking out a member of the opposite sex feet are vitally important to me. Toes, the top bit and the padded bottom bit must all look good to get the Rhythmic D stamp of approval. That Warrior Bee woman has lovely feet I must admit, as has a certain blogging Sansoni, not the photographer one!

5. I don't like dogs.

I don't mean they repulse me or that I've started an internet campaign to have them banned throughout the world, just that I'm indifferent about them. I can stroke the odd one, I can give it a friendly pat and chuck a ball for it to fetch, but I'm no dog person. I'm not really a pet person at all actually. The only pets I like are drum or elephant shaped ones.

6. There are so many countries in the world but....

If someone said to me that I would never be able to visit any of them except Sri Lanka, I'd be quite happy with that. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing though!

7. My first car

Was an orange Beetle, registration HRY 113L. My Dad bought it for me when I was about 19 and I look back on it with huge fondness. It was a 1300L, so had the acceleration of a fully laden Sri Lankan bus on its way from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. I drove it for about 2 years without any problems. I sold it and bought an MGB Roadster, PGN 131P. They were cars with character.

That's it then.

I choose to tag some unlikely candidates. Waking the dead, so to speak, and a few who are very alive:

1. S. She of Hot Chocolate fame. I don't know what happened. She returned, then she went. It was one of my favourite blogs and I'd be one of many who would love to see a new post, even a random 7 one.

2. Childof25. We all know that Tiny Little Fractures is lying dormant, like one of those ghost ships in a Star Trek episode. But N lurks out there, commenting occasionally and posting on his photography blog. So come on, just a 7!

3. Lady Luck. Where are you, come back and write stuff.

4. Voice In Colombo. I know he's been busy having kids and things, but I miss him.

5. Nelly Furtado. Amila Furtado. Amila Delgado. Salgado, yes, that's it. Amila Salgado, the birdman.

6. Bea.

7. The Unbound Urchin. Does he only blog about deep and serious things? We'll see.

There, I'm done now.

Laser Eye Surgery - Part One

Many people have been kind enough to wish me well with the whole laser treatment thing on my eye, many have asked what's involved and a few have said that they were / are thinking about it but haven't done it for any number of reasons. So I thought I might interest a few if I wrote a bit about what happens and what was involved. I'll try to jot down my thoughts and retain the sparkling wit that you've become used to, but frankly that might be a struggle. Laser surgery isn't high up on the list of funny topics, unlike the penis reduction I had some time ago.

I was about ten when I first got glasses and have had to wear them, or contact lenses, full time ever since. I've met people who wear glasses and are fond of them, they feel attached to them and enjoy the whole thing. That was never me. I always though that they were a hindrance and wanted contact lenses as soon as I could have them. From about sixteen I wore contacts and went through every type you can imagine. I started with the small hard type and, a couple of years ago I was wearing daily disposable ones the were as trouble free, comfortable and easy on the eye as a good Barefoot sarong.

So a couple of years ago I decided to have laser surgery to try and fix the eyes once and for all. If you're quite shortsighted maybe you'll know how annoying it gets to have to put on your glasses even if you want to pee in the night. Swimming was always a problem for me too. Without lenses I would struggle to locate the pool and with lenses I'd spend so much time concentrating on not getting water in my eyes that I couldn't enjoy it.

Another factor, unrelated to the eyes, was that I couldn't swim. Now that I've had a few lessons things are looking promising.

When you reach your, ahem, thirties, they tell you that being short sighted can correct the, ahem, old age thing of not being able to see close up things, like books and cars. They tell you that correcting shortsight by laser surgery means you are likely to need reading glasses straight away, "they" being the laser eye people. It's a bit of a bummer really. With all the technology and all the measurements taken by the most complicated looking machinery they can't predict exactly how the post op eyes will be. As Cerno would say, vut to do?

Well, in my case it was to go ahead and have the op. I reckoned that the opportunity to have perfect eyesight was something I couldn't turn down, that I might need reading glasses in a few years time anyway and that I should go for it. One of the few things I have believed and stuck to in my life is that I never want to look back and wonder "what if" and this was like some of Colombo's new traffic planning; a one way junction with many possible choices but only one correct one, but you're never quite sure if it's correct.

I paid my money and signed the forms. I was told that my eyes would be suitable for Lasik surgery, though this would be confirmed by the surgeon when he saw me. Lasik is the one where they cut a flap in the eye, whack the old laser on the bit underneath to do its correcting thing, then bung the flap back and let it all heal. It's supposed to be quick healing and many people have perfect sight within days if not hours of the op.

It was April 06, Dinidu was just hitting puberty, this blog was in its infancy and I was in the room where you go just before the operation being examined by the nice eye surgeon. I'd booked a week off work, cleared my diary and done my best impersonation of a proper manger by pretending to delegate things to other people while I'd be away. I expected to have my op and be on my way a few minutes later with eyes like Steve Austin, at a much lower cost. The surgeon looked at my eyes and casually said

"Oh no I can't do Lasik, it will have to be Lasek, your corneas aren't thick enough for Lasik."

I'd been examined in the previous months by everybody that I could remember in the clinic, all except the surgeon himself, and I was a little bit surprised and quite dejected by this. The Lasek process is just as promising in terms of potential results but involves scraping back the top layer of the eye and has a much longer recovery time. It usually takes a week at least for anything near normal vision to be restored and full healing can take up to a year after that.

The surgeon asked me if I'd like to go ahead with it. I know what these chaps on quiz shows must feel like when they get to that final question. It's an easy one but suddenly all sorts of other things enter your mind and you're unsure about the answer to give. I was a bit pissed off as I had it in the back of my mind that the "consultants" and people at the clinic may make it a habit of telling potential patients that their eyes were suitable for the quick and convenient instant results operation to get them in through the door. Then, whilst there was no thought or hint of any medical wrong doing, it was only the surgeon who could actually decide.

I would have preferred it if I had known beforehand which operation I would be suitable for. There was no difference in cost so that wasn't a factor for the clinic but I was suddenly faced with the prospect of a much longer and potentially awkward recovery than I had envisaged. Two, maybe more, weeks off work and up to a year for the eye to heal fully. The surgeon was relaxed and easy going about things, telling me that I could think about things and rebook it when I was happy, that I could decide not to proceed if I wanted without losing my money.

I thought about work. Could they manage without me? Of course they could. Did I have any gigs lined up in the next couple of weeks? Nope. Any holidays booked? Negative too.

After about thirty seconds of intensive thought, which is a lot for me, I said yes. After a thirty year wait the carrot of perfect eyesight, of no glasses and no contact lenses, was too attractive. I had to say yes, I had to do it.

Some minutes later I was lying on the operating table.

"Just focus on the red light Rhythmic" the surgeon said........

To be continued........

Next installment - how it feels, what you see and that burning smell.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tag Envy

I got tagged by Darwin yesterday for this 7 thing.

My first thoughts were that, as tagging posts go, it was a bit strict for my liking. Nothing to do with Darwin as she didn't start it. But the rules are strict. You must say this, you must link so and so and you must put a comment on each person's blog etc.

Well, I'm a free man I thought. I'm going to sit back and consider my options for a while. Then, while I sat back, the whole of the Sri Lankan blogosphere didn't. Everyone else got tagged, everyone wrote a post and obeyed the rules. Seven became forty nine, fort nine became, you get the gist. I saw some people getting tagged by many. Cerno got tagged by several, I saw Java getting multi tagged and he doesn't even like being tagged and I saw T get at least two tags.

Meanwhile I had the one solitary tag from Darwin, which I still have and still treasure. It remains my only one. I'm going to take it home and keep it safely in a drawer, maybe the sarong drawer.

I've got a bad case of tag envy. I feel inadequate and insecure. Java emailed me and offered to lend me a few of his spare tags but it's not the same. Cerno rang me and asked if I'd like to come round for a tag party he's having. He's got so many tags that he doesn't know what to do with them. But I ain't going to no tag party, just to get his cast offs.

So I'm feeling sorry for myself, typing this through my one good eye, but content that I've got one of those precious seven from Darwin.

Not many got one of those beauties.

Long Straight Arse Length Hair

As a rule I don't make generalisations.

But what is it about men with long hair that puts that puzzled look, that screwed up nose and lip curled look, like Elvis smelling some asparagus pee, on my face?

I've reread the previous sentence a few times, fully understanding the importance of getting my commas in the right places. With one wrong key stroke I could have given you the impression that I was referring to Elvis smelling some asparagus pee on my face. I think I've got it right but you know what they say; pride comes before, a fall.

It's not casual long hair I'm referring to here. A chap can have a tad of wild hair, a bit scraggly and a bit mad and I'm quite okay with that. But it's that long straight hair that comes down to a fellow's arse that turns me into asparagus Elvis, or Asparagelvis as I'd like to be known. Think of Jane Seymour's hair in Live and Let Die and you'll know what I mean. It's all well and good on a sexy Bond girl, just a very different concept on a cigar smoking fifty cigar smoking biker with a beer belly, or any man for that matter.

But the thing that mystifies me is what must be going on in the chap's head. We know what's happening outside his head but it's the workings of the grey matter that bother me. Style is a subjective and perplexing thing anyway, but this tangent of it is beyond me.

There are people, men and women, who have little or no sense of style. I accept them with a begrudging grimace. Many of them are academics whose heads are so full of theories and ideas about changing the world, understanding why it it like it is and then writing something about it, that they just don't have the spare mental capacity to ponder on the latest trend in striped underwear. You and I gaze dreamily at the latest mens' magazine and the styleless types browse this month's issue of New Academic.

There are also people with a different sense of style to others. They're okay too. They may not wear things that I'd choose, we all have different tastes and different things suit different horses anyway, but they're on the good side of the line.

And then there are the men with long straight arse length hair. Veddahs, lead guitarists and people like that who just don't cut their hair because they don't know any different are excused here. A chap who thinks about his appearance, who makes a positive, proactive and considered decision to grow his hair all the way down his back, has got to be barking mad hasn't he?

One word.

Fucking weirdos.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Asparagus, Oui

I had the pleasure of the company of one of my favourite Sri Lankan Aunts last week, a wise old bird whom I'm immensely fond of. It was the first time I'd seen her since my divorce so it was nice to catch up and just generally hang with her.

For some reason that fact has stuck in my mind over the years that asparagus is this Aunt's favourite vegetable. I don't know why I recollect this fact so easily, I'm not sure that I could tell you the favourite vegetable of anyone else at all, except maybe Popeye. But for this particular Aunt asparagus is the specialist vegetable of choice. I even have a hunch that there may be the odd person reading this who has identified the Aunt from my meticulous description of her taste in vegetables.

The other day, whilst browsing absent mindedly through the Tesco vegetable section, my eye landed on some asparagus. What exactly is the plural of the things anyway? I'll stick to asparagus, but it could easily be asparaguses or asaparagi. It was the good, previously operated on and sorted out eye that landed on the aforementioned asparagus, not the more recently fixed but still healing eye. Had the still healing eye landed on the asparagus it wouldn't have been able to tell whether it was asparagus, cabbage or beans. It would have seen a green blur, one that became a bit clearer every hour and every day. All except on day three because the vision deteriorates then for some reason. And I expect the asparagus would have been moved by then anyway.

I looked at the asparagus and, maybe with the Aunt at the back of my mind, decided to buy some and try to do something with it, something along the cooking line, not sexual or arty. I've never cooked asparagus before, I've always been fond of it but never had the foggiest idea about how to cook it. I'm sure Pradeep has a million ways of preparing it and I'm positive Darwin can make a cake from it but for me it was new and uncharted territory.

That afternoon I considered my options. I figured that asparagus could be boiled like all the latest vegetables, I could have probably done some kind of fancy roast thing, but frying with butter was my preferred option and the way that I could imagine the things slipping down pleasantly. Like any Sri Lankan the option of currying the chaps was high up on the list, but for once was rejected. Asparagus curry is one of the few vegetable curries I have yet to try and I didn't want the first one I'd ever tried to be cooked by me.

Fried in butter they were. The resulting dish was nice but I've a feeling that it would have been better if I'd boiled the asparagus first, just to soften it up and take that edge off it. The taste of the butter was lovely but I'd fried the flavour out of the little green spears just a bit too much. I enjoyed them and remembered that next time I'll boil first, then fry in butter.

And then the fun started.

Let's face it, asparagus isn't like durian. It doesn't smell, either raw or cooked. It's inoffensive, looks harmless, tastes nice and by jove it's good for you. So what the hell's going on with asparagus and urine? What goes on, after a quick feast on the green things, that makes a chap's pee smell like, well piss? Evil piss, the sort that could be used in bombs.

The first time I experienced this phenomenon was some years ago and I thought it was me, that I was ill or had an infection or something. Then, I asked around and found out that I wasn't alone. A few Britneys of asparagus and most blokes' begin to pee the urinary equivalent of a durian. It only takes a short time for the effect to come through too.

I'm blissfully unaware of any other foodstuff that has a similar effect on pee. I don't know if it happens to every man in the world for I haven't asked all of you, not that you all read my blog. It's got to be one of life's mysteries. Yes, yes I could google it and find all the answers at my fingertips but that would be oh so easy and oh so boring.

For now the following questions will echo in my mind. Until such a time that I google a phrase like "eating asparagus makes pee smell really bad" or similar or until someone gives all the answers:

1. Why does asparagus make pee smell so bad?

2. Does this happen to every man?

3. Does this happen to women?

4. Are there any other foods that have the same odorous on the urine effect?