Do you ever try to conduct word searches while reading a print book? What an odd sensation. Just for a moment, you mentally reach for a control that isn’t there. Then you realize this is a paper book, and if you want to find that word or passage you have to use the index, if there is one, or else estimate where in all those pages it’s most likely to appear, and then skim the actual material book manually. What … Read more
I’ve got a monster cold, the first in years. And the therapeutic effects of last night’s half bottle of wine had clearly worn off by the time I got up this morning.
The fever’s gone, but I remain fluish. So Sara fixed me a mug of hot lime juice with honey, and I chased that with my customary magic potion.
But things remained far from ideal, and the viruses probably reckoned they still had the upper hand. Until I … Read more
Not many years ago — and here we speak only of Western societies — having a tattoo assimilated you to a noirish rabble of able-bodied seamen, Foreign Legionnaires, ex-cons, circus performers, bikers, and boozers with a propensity for finding themselves in the vicinity of waterfront tattoo parlors.
Read on for a look at early-1950s attitudes towards tattoos, and the roles tatts played in Paul Theroux’s Saint Jack, a novel set in 1950s Singapore and first published in … Read more
Upon recent acquaintance and saddened at the news I’m only a writer, more than one Filipina lady has suggested I could make a living in Manila as a Kenny Rogers impersonator. Now an American woman from Tennessee who looks like a diminutive Cormac McCarthy with longer hair and dyspepsia tells me there’s hope for me in America as an Orsen Welles clone.
I grow giddy at this ever-expanding horizon of opportunity, where age and gray-beardedness are instead generally supposed to … Read more
Old news. But these days our technology transforms our environment, both external and internal, at an ever-accelerating rate. And we aren’t always conscious of how much or how fast we ourselves are changing in response to this.
Here’s just one example. More and more, people are consulting smartphones and tablets in mid-conversation. Only half attending to whatever any given speaker is on about, they’re digitally retrieving bits of information they think might add value to … Read more
This morning my tea is ready before my Parker refills are done. They’ve been simmering in a pot on the stove for five minutes already, but they still won’t write.
I’ve used indelible black Parker medium ballpoints for years. Some of my associates describe my Parker pens as mere affectation. “I do fine with these twenty-baht stick pens,” says one friend. Of course he’s only a photographer and hardly knows what to do with a pen anyway. The point is, … Read more
The financial sky is falling. (So what’s new, eh? See here and here.). China’s economy is stumbling, the world’s share markets are tanking, and here in Bangkok anonymous malcontents have been bombing public places. Never mind. Starving writers are shielded from stock market crashes, at least, a regular feature of this life you don’t even notice if you have a pot to piss in but that’s about all.
Still, life can be good, and wine tastings … Read more
The future has arrived. Have you looked away from the Internet recently, taken a gander out there at what passes for the real world these days? If not, you’d better take a look.
Some oddly premature future has arrived while you were posting cute cats and inspirational quotes on Facebook. What we generally think of as the present has been skewed, bumped off-center and ahead of its time into a sci-fi realm that’s fast becoming commonplace reality (not to mention … Read more
Our word for the day is earworm. And the following definition is from the charming animation “Jazz that nobody asked for.”
Neurologists claim that stuck songs are like thoughts we’re trying to suppress. The harder we try not to think about them, the more we can’t help it. The phenomenon is also known … Read more
The Peak Experience.
In a recent post, I reflected on the strange compulsion to record every iota of our individual and collective experience and then share it with everyone else, each of whom is trying to do the same. How can anyone enjoy an unmediated experience of night-time Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, for example? (“Colonialized: The Peak Experience”)
There I stood at the rail on the viewing platform, getting a many-elbowed massage from others who had mounted … Read more