The world is ending in four days. Something is going to crash into it and there is nothing to be done; this knowledge falls on me from nowhere and few others seem to know. I don't know who to tell or what to do. I am somehow not of this world myself, hailing, along with a nameless and almost faceless companion, from somewhere else, another planet, but I have no notion or memory of this place.
Inside me I can feel a mass of chocolate brown and velvet red plasma that trembles and ripples with every shift in my mood and imagined idea. My alien companion opens their mouth and shows me what this substance looks like when they convey their desire to leave this planet (I don't know how, some airborne method that is never resolved). The internal liquid lies vertically in their tall, stretched out maw and ripples rhythmically, defying gravity, expressing their wishes in lieu of spoken words.
I am gripped with a terrible paralysing distress. I feel as though leaving will not save me. The knowledge that everything around me is doomed, no matter what I do, is felt in crippling, ever-tightening waves of constriction.
REMARKS This happened about a month ago now. I haven't had a bona fide nightmare for ages, but this woke me up in a small panic and I couldn't go back to sleep for hours. The image of the dark liquid throbbing in my fellow alien's mouth will stay with me for a long time. The idea that I was only somehow half-alien, neither here nor there and stuck between the two states is interesting since I've always sort of felt like a fraudulent adult, a non-grownup, suspicious of the certainty of others- maybe it's referring to that. And for some reason, reading this over lights a fire under my wanting to get a fucking tattoo- sort of as a prophylactic measure. Like nothing bad will happen if I do. Lol.
* More dreams and other selected ravings here *
This is a film image that I took during my last trip with that technology. The Ngakawau is a short river coming down out of the mountains near Hector on the West Coast of the South Island, a little north of where my sister currently resides. While this scene may look pristine, in common with many if not most of New Zealand's waterways it is heavily polluted, in this instance by AMD or acid mine drainage from the irresponsibly-managed Stockton coal mine nearby. The Stockton mine is run by Solid Energy, an outfit owned wholly by the NZ government- yes, the very same entity selling you all those lovely tourist images and slogans about the purity of our environment.
If you're ever heading down this way, it would be great if you could, in your capacity as a walking foreign dollar sign (because: monetarists in power) express your displeasure, perhaps via email, at the grotesque state of the environment as it exists here rather than as it was sold to you by Tourism New Zealand. Cheers.
I walked round Back Beach and environs to pick up most of these images. The little bay is chock a block with benevolent decrepitude and the people who either don't mind it, don't notice or don't regard it as such. I'm on the fence myself; bone lazy, no great lover of progress for its own the sake, but sometimes perplexed at the extent to which peeps will let something slide. Perversity cracks a strange whip, driving its troika of conflicting impulses ever onwards and sideways. Sometimes when you love something, you have to let it go, apparently.
Back Beach is a weird little semi-feudal demesne type situation presided over by tinkering boat fanciers (real and pretend) and looking somewhat like my idea of coastal Norway on a bad day in a bad year. Things get worse as you approach the commercial container and log port at the northern end; well, I say approach, but we're not really allowed to any more because terrorists.
This is the third portion of this expansive whole; catch up on the first lot of images and commentary here and the second here if you've got ten minutes to burn.
ABOVE beer bottle BELOW costa line
ABOVE LEFT MmmMmmMmmcontainer stack detail. ABOVE RIGHT commercial port stuff.
ABOVE Pinus radiata logs mounded in ponderous sheaves on the Port wharf, destined for Asia, which seems to have an insatiable appetite for this mediocre softwood. It's a N American species that grows like a weed here, to the extent that it threatens what remains of our native forest. The stupidity of the average NZ landowner's drooling love of monoculture and the lowest common denominator boggles the fucking mind, it really does.
“And like that, Kala'amātya was who he had been before we left the mountains, as though nothing good had ever happened, and I was not his brother. When he stood up, Rana saw him coming and climbed over her chair to get away. He went after her and didn’t stop.” William related. “He bought Helaine's body from the midden-keepers and carried her back to her house that night..." He saw her blind eyes as he closed his own, her stained, drowned shape in his brother's arms, the shadows of the branches sliding slowly across her dead face under an unfinished moon. "When we got there, the dralna were already going through her things, taking all her books away. It felt like I was burying him with her. We left for Paris, and he’s never been back. He won’t even fly over it.”
Nausea rolled over Susan and she sat up on the bed, pulling the quilt around herself.
“Why didn’t you do something?”
“She knew a long time before we did... months before the militia came, she made me promise if she was arrested I wouldn’t let him intervene, that it would play out in its own way. Helaine was not someone you went against... I don't know how to explain it... armies marched for weeks around her hood. You did not say no to her.” he sighed. “It was easier for her to go, because she knew he couldn't. All this time I’ve asked myself... what would have happened if I’d gone against her wishes? I couldn’t do it then, and I don’t know if I can now.”
She watched him stand up and reach into the chest at the end of the bed, its bronze handles chiming against the escutcheons as he removed something from it. Susan accepted the parcel he handed her almost warily, unravelling from yellowed linen a miniature portrait on a smooth-grained disc of ivory, full of deft and germane detail recorded by a faithful hand. At first its loveliness disarmed her and she enjoyed it, lifting it to the light to obtain a better view, but as the features spoke she let her hands fall into her lap, lips parted in an expression of abiding dread. Though the subject’s shoulders were robed in the porcelain-blue silk reserved for a woman of high station, her face was neither possessed of bland, titled conceit nor was it unfamiliar. Silver-blonde hair strayed from her simple crowning braid; the woman's pale stare caused Susan to lift a hand to her own cheek in a failed attempt to say her name.
“I couldn't see it until they were together.” said William quietly. “It's coming back to Frost in pieces, so she thinks she’s going crazy... it’s the way she knows him, but can’t help herself, just like Helaine. He can’t see it at all, or won’t... I don't know which it is."
“Petrouchka knew her...”
“I met Pet at Helaine’s place... they were tight, before my brother. She used to eat the pervs and freeloaders who overstayed at their house parties. The witches say birth cleans the slate... you’re not supposed to know the ones you’ve met before... it's like looking into the sun, but Pet was dead when they met... it must've bent the needle. She knew her straight away.”
Susan considered the perverse immortality of love and loss, how both might willfully persist, ignoring the petty order ruling union and division. She bowed her head beneath the quilt, drawing it into a cowl.
“Why?” she whispered.
“The dragon loves the pearl.” he sighed. "They can only see each other."
They sat together in the silence, both grateful for it.
“William... you have to tell her. If I was Lilian and I found out that you knew, I’d hate you.”
“I promised Helaine... you don’t fuck with the dralna, Christabel, christ... I don’t know if I can.”
“Then tell your brother.”
William lay down on the bed with his hands over his face.
The small glowing screen of his telephone flashed repeatedly, relating the pre-dawn hour and the caller's tenacity. William rose, taking care not to disturb his companion from the troubled sleep that had curled her legs and pushed her fists beneath her pillow. Out on the balcony he obliged his own need to escape the enclosure of the building, the feeling of its weight on the back of his neck and of not being able to see beyond walls. The darkness had brought the trees much closer to the house and turned the grass into a cordon against their vast, untended presence. He did not know how he had come to be staring at such wilderness from within a static pile, remembering its inverse, descrying the dusty stone and mud brick shapes crouched around good water from the shimmering wastes that were to him the essence and the locus of existence. Thoughts of Lilian and her predecessor merged, twisted into union by the wind that blew eternally against them; how he was to speak to her of Helaine bewildered him with its torturous complexity, and William let the prospect sink back into the deep corpus of matters he was able to ignore. The blinking telephone was more difficult to disregard. Bede's name flashed again, petitioning him mutely, while beneath him on the grass a figure stepped from the corner of the house with the poise of an actor intent upon an audience, walking to the edge of the stonework around the swimming pool. Rana looked up at him through the darkness with an expression that might have seemed exultant, if her face had not begun to wear the dissolution that was suffered by the rest of her. The dress she had lived in had fallen victim to the same attrition, torn around its hem where she had dragged it over walls and vegetation. In spite of it he thought there was something faintly luminous about her, though her image was deeply contaminated by the weight of his perceptions.
She walked back to the wall beneath the balcony and grasped the heavy copper piping, exerting all the strength and fidelity remaining to her to effect an ascent. William watched her obliquely as she rolled over the railing, sought to compose herself, then moved behind him, her gaze enjoying him without requiring consent; when she spoke, the sound rasped like metal over ice, an ugly, toneless babel.
"She... gone, before you know. I come for you. What..." She shook a hand at the door in her frustration, unable to birth the words. When he looked at her directly he found the impression he had gathered from a distance was correct; her fingers were stained a deep translucent blue beneath their skin, like dying flesh around a wound, the colour creeping in narrow strokes along her arms like the rills bleeding from her eyes, darkened to the chill hue of their blood. “Lost, without my hand..." she croaked.
"Avi'ashān?" he asked finally. She smirked in reply as she came around him to examine his expression, scouring it for cues that might betray him; he caught her arm and swung her back when she started for the French doors, stationing himself so that she could make no further attempt in their direction. The nature of the dissuasion seemed to astound her and Rana struggled once more for words, spitting them out piecemeal.
“She thinks you... strong... for you both?”
“No..." he admitted. "She thinks me weak, but doesn’t mind, and I don't mind, because I love her, tellement... beaucoup." Her lips slid back further over her disarrayed teeth. "I'd give everything you ever were for a single word from her, so go away. Sis’thle nya'n si el’yeh.” William recommended, heading back into the bedroom.
THE CHAPTER P A T H E I M A T H O S IS NOW AVAILABLE TO READ IN FULL ONSITE
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
Technically, this tuna casserole is more of a pasta sauce really, but it's eminently bakeable so I'm going with that designation. It's certainly not fancy and could even be accused of crossing over into that blasted commestible heath on which tin-based fails and student food wander like orphaned mooncalves, unloved and unlooked for. But that's just pointless snobbery; like all the best meals it is delicious, healthful, economical and flexible. You can have it on toast or in a panini. Or if, like me, you're largely eschewing starch and doing a Paleo type thing, it's yummy plopped over some stir fried veg. You can bake it under some cheese and breadcrumbs (Homer face) or over potatoes. I've yet to meet someone who couldn't stomach it and you might even tempt a few vegetarians.
It also has the advantage of being simple enough to kick the bullshit excuses out from under your favourite/adjacent Noncook. This cosmopolitan creature presents two variants; those who have genuinely never had the time or opportunity to learn (I still judge you, but I also accept that you might have a reasonable excuse), and those who simper that they don't know the first thing about food and ooze out of the kitchen like they've just left you enchanted with the prospect of doing everything yourself while they're cruising porn on their laptop. If we were to be a bit more fucking charitable, we could go with the idea that recipes like this cater to the culinary agnostic; to those who admit that cooking may well exist without conceding they will ever possess knowledge of it. Whatever. Consider this casserole a kryptonite buttplug for the domestic shirker. Eggplant is the most exotic component so they can even shop for it unsupervised.
Okay! We're halfway there. Once everything's thoroughly browned, pour in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato paste and combine carefully, especially if you've used a too-small pot like me. Reduce the heat a wee bit; this mixture will start sticking to the bottom pretty fucking smartly if you're not careful. Add about half a tomato can of water, depending on the consistency of its previous contents. You don't want it too runny, but too thick is no good either.
^ This is 500g of spiral pasta. You don't really need this much; I just went a bit crazy and threw in the whole bag. You can use macaroni or fettucini etc if you prefer and possibly stuff some tube pasta with it too.
* Use your powers for good. More recipes here *
Interested in an Egyptian man's take on sexual harassment in Egypt, especially vis a vis religious and political fundamentalism? Check out this op-ed by Alaa Al Aswany. I concur with his conclusions about the influence of trendy Wahhabi dogma but then I'm a 'slutty dresser' so I would say that :)
Am I going crazyor do they not make fancy lipsticks like they used to? About 20 years ago when someone bought me my first YSL lippy I remember being extremely impressed; goldy-looking prisms ooh classy thought my 18 year old mind. I admit to still harbouring feelings of superiority when I pull this shit out in public, but YSL lipsticks aren't as weighty and expensive-feeling as they used to be.
<Annoying digression ends>
Packaging aside, YSL Rouge Pur in Black Tulip (#149) is a deliciously intense midnight purple. There's no way or day I'd pay retail, however, since Rouge Pur runs to about $60 in NZ and as I've remarked before, $60 lipstick better put out, go downtown and make the damn bed, so I snatched this one off a local auction site for less than a third of that. Good times.
Let's probe the little sucker. I think this line may have been superseded by Rouge Pur Couture but whatever- there's plenty floating around, the shade is worth tracking down and if this unit is anything to go by, stock is still perfectly fresh. Believe it or not, the two sticks below are the same tube photographed on the same darn table in the same darn angled winter daylight with about 5 minutes between them. That's purple for you.
I've been on a roll with blind buys lately and Rouge Pur Black Tulip is another that gets my seal of approval. If you're not into mattes but still crave something dark and intense, pick it up. Second hand, preferably. Cheap = cheerful.
Helaine suffered no visible struggle as the guards led her past, finding Sachiin's bright features against the brumous crowd before his brother's. The sight of Kala'amātya caused her to falter briefly before wresting back control, every moment she had suffered visited upon him in an agony that would have turned another from her. With no other opportunity remaining to him he was compelled to commit even the indelible horror of her wounds to memory, before the mounted guards swung down onto the cobbles to take her arms and march her before the dais, her two maids arraigned in like fashion behind her. All demonstration from the crowd ceased as the bishop rose with the help of two attendants who then crouched about his robes, busily composing them, and looked out across the square, to his cabal of clerical associates, and finally to the small party before him, his head haloed by the misted sun.
“In the name of Christ, we sit in judgement upon you, the Countess Helaine de Marchand and your various serving women beside, in the matter of the murder of your lawful husband, and charges of the most horrible maleficia, too numerous, and infamous, to utter in open company.” announced the enormous priest, his tiny, cupid-bow mouth moving in the great flat bulk of his face beneath bagged grey eyes. “The word of your two novices has been duly recorded, naming you as foremost amongst witches, and naming the acts by which you, Countess de Marchand, compelled them into your service so that they might do your bidding in all things and prosecute infamies in your stead. How do you speak to the charges laid this day against you?”
She stood between her guards, staring into the shadows beneath the dais. The crowd began to murmur and some demands for her confession were voiced from its more substantial quarters, those preserved by prudent distance from having to confront their great bête noire in person. Behind the bishop, Rana leant forward from her chair and came to the latter’s shoulder, laying a hand upon his arm as she confided something to his right jowl.
“It is a vulgar custom.” he announced to her suggestion. “But I shall permit it.” He issued some short order and watched, as the senior guard drew a bodkin from his belt; Sachiin caught Kala'amātya's arm as they took her head and sliced the skin between her eyes with the blade, treating Agathé and Adelle in the same way, though they seemed insensible, standing with the blood streaming down their faces. The crowd began to cheer, emboldened. The bishop called for a charger of blessed water, which he tossed down in the direction of the prisoners, splashing the cobbles and their bare feet. In her gleaming chair, Rana settled back to search out Kala'amātya's face.
“Before I name your sentence, I call on you to confess your crimes and prepare your soul for the judgement of your living saviour.” he informed her. Helaine looked for the first time to the prelate’s rose-flushed features; he read her mute refusal. “The fate of your corrupted sisters may move you better.” he predicted.
The weeping novices were dragged from behind her and hoisted over the faggots by a line of scowling pike-bearers, their chains drawn rattling round the great oak, three times about their bodies until they were imprisoned against it and each other. The girls began to petition the last of the guards who leapt down onto the flags, their sobbing entreaties rising into wailing as the flaming, tar-soaked torch was passed to the hooded executioner. The anonymous figure mumbled his half-articulate entreaty for the safety of his own emperiled soul, and without further ceremony touched the smoking flame to the foot of the pyre.
White smoke was whipped away from the girls by the same wind that fanned the flames until they flared up about their legs like licking tongues arising from a brittle phoenix nest. Their wailing rose into wild, avian screams as the fire climbed over the fuel toward their legs, the heat engulfing them in a shimmering silver column that ate the clothes from their bodies and began to consume their steaming, blistered flesh. The stench swept down over the crowd as though on blackened vans, the burning women thrashing in their chains until the bright veil of flame rose about their bloated shoulders and the crowd drew back, pressing sleeves and kerchiefs to their faces. With their remaining charge the horse guards retreated from the heat of the conflagration against the ranks of the onlookers, where a single voice in a low and vehement language scarcely earned a moment of their rapt attention. Standing out of sight behind her shoulder, Kala'amātya dragged from his empty chest, sending them as emissaries across the cold arm’s length between them.
“You know well... they care for your land and not your life... confess and I will buy you from them.” He reached out, unable to contain himself, and slid his hand beneath her arm. She looked down at its strange shape against the threadbare silk that clothed her side, remembering his knowledge of her flesh, the way in which his body was but a province of her own.
“I cannot live another hour in this skin." she told him softly. "Kala'amātya... even we who fashion our own gods remain subject to their judgement..." His sorrow filled the last redoubt inside her heart and blurred the immolation as it spilled down her face from her lashes. "You are all that I have loved. Let me go, or I will never learn to leave you.”
Before him, the white breadth of her shoulders moved, and she lifted her head, looking up to burn her pale eyes upon the corpses chained against the sooty stake, bent double by the flames that had consumed and transmuted them so horribly, their blackened, oily skin and sinews contracting as they cooled, the fuming mound of charcoal and ashes beneath them doused by wardens. The womens' twisted forms appeared far more ominous and malefic than at any living moment, like something dragged smoking out of hell; the assembled clergy kept their linen to their faces and awaited a change of wind. When it came, the bishop heaved himself once more from his throne to deliver his final address.
“Helaine de Marchand... your estates, dwellings and title shall be forfeit to the church, with any coinage, relic or treasure in your name. I call upon you to repent your crimes before your fellow man, so that you may be freed of the corruption that binds you to the Adversary. What say you?” Her guards stepped back from her, as though their presence might impede her will. Helaine looked up at the dais, at Rana’s smile and then at the bishop, studying him for a term.
“I would say these few things. The first, to this distinguished company... without your greed and your abiding hatred of each other, I could not have prospered as I did. To the women, I say abasement is your desert for as long as you submit yourselves. To the men, I own I should have set more of your heads upon my gate. And to this church... you cannot cast me into the void... in death I will go where I please, as I have done in life, and I will die in any manner you devise before I kiss your book and live by your consent.” Helaine looked over the faces staring back at her. “I leave you in each others' hands.”
Gideon shook his head at Sachiin's side, smiling in spite of his regret.
“An we are to lose this woman, while your beloved lives.” he observed, looking across the clearing at Rana. “A bitter day.”
Beside the pit that lay between a score of lifted stones, two guards took up a lengthy wooden instrument, as long as a pike and forked at its end, fashioned from a bifurcated bough; another like it had been handed to them by the priests after it had received a hasty blessing. Helaine considered her dim reflection in the milky ditch, an image shattered as she stepped down and sank to her waist in its midst; the dark silk of her skirt billowed out around her, drinking in the water and falling with its weight. With her back to the crowd she lay down in the freezing pool, its depths biting hard as they soaked through her gown. The feeble sun was once more engulfed by clouds, their soft shapes floating on the surface of her gaze until she closed her eyes against the day and descended, leaving only ripples to meet and cross each other until waning into quiescence. In their nervous haste the men plunged their staffs into the pit, leaning heavily upon them. If she struggled there was no sign, though they were careful to keep their eyes from the water. Sachiin turned to find his brother had sunk to his knees as though run through by eviscerating iron, holding his dark head in his white hands.
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce.
Within the last three days I have been characterised diametrically by two complete strangers on two unrelated occasions.
The first was while out walking past a trio of roading contractors with the southerly blowing their observations toward me, unbeknownst to them. One of the three demurred at the prospect of my physicality; I don't do battle gingas (the hard g version- rhymes with ringer) he declared, while his two companions were more enthusiastic- yeah I would and from the front and back respectively. As almost every woman knows, the joy and relief I experienced at even this partial unsolicited affirmation from a group of repellent strangers is obviously more than I can convey and yes, melts my tenuous feminist façade and somehow completes me. While I am currently sporting red hair and probably do look like I could rip your arms and legs off, battle ginga is definitely something new. I shall treasure it alongside the historic fucking goth slut and the eternal nice tits bitch.
Ever sat down to a movie you've heard nothing about, full of exemplary talent and a premise that's not too played-out? You know- that feeling of pleasant, hopeful expectancy- you're settling in, the opening shot's going okay, cue music... then a song starts wheezing away over the top of it all and it dawns on you. You're experiencing a taste-level indicator and the arrow's pointing downwards. That first whiff of corn. And then the thing unfolds and you can't decide if it was a solid idea that got smothered in cheesy development, or a cheesy kernel of a thing that almost got off the ground with far more help than it deserved. I always suffer a pavlovian clench when I see that thirsty Scott Free animation fronting anything these days and Out of the Furnace just reinforced that response. A flick that hadn't pinged my radar despite heavyweight backers and my fondness for the cast is always a dodgy prospect. Oh well. It was a slow Tuesday night and we took the plunge like the thrillseekers we are.
Plotwise, here tis; hardworking do-right guy Russell (Christian Bale) tries to keep his shit together in a dying mill town while his troubled veteran brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) entangles himself, with the aid of loan shark John (Willem Dafoe), in a bare-knuckle fighting ring run by psycho hillbilly Harlan (Woody Harrelson), attempting to exorcise demons and make rent. Russell's girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) bails when he goes down for a DUI, taking up with the local cop (Forest Whitaker). Things go from bad to worse, etc. etc. It's a basic-bitch scenario that could have gone either way; it's absolutely possible for worse arcs than this to be buoyed by an especially nuanced script and transcendent performances. Or they can be dragged by their own lugubrious weight in spite of any such advantages. It pains me, but in this instance I nominate door number two.
Out of the Furnace isn't a dead loss, and that makes its shortcomings all the more perplexing. The cast delivers, the production values are high and the dialogue, such as it is, is well handled. But (as seems to happen so often lately) what could have been so much more boils down to a lacklustre narrative poncing around in expensive, finely-wrought visuals, top-shelf players and noble intentions, signifying little. It almost gets off the ground a couple of times and you assure yourself that it surely must, only to watch it lapse back into blerg, adhering grimly to the conventions of its pedestrian trajectory instead of stepping off into something more.
Ultimately, Out of the Furnace is sunk by two related defects. The plot is a shower of romanticised bollocks, for one. As a resident of a formerly industrial barrio, I can shoot holes in that shit all day. In reality, all of these characters would be skinny-fat, rat-faced, mullet-greasing xenophobic meth monkeys, not just Harrelson's 'inbred'. Such is the peril of voicing a complex story via sympathetic/at least absorbing characters amid poverty and generational decline; the latter are such depressingly universal experiences that you can't swing and miss about any of it, really. The drug-buying scene; oh honey, no. Tweaky Appalachian hood rats do not generally adopt you and take you back to their cook house, even if you do respeck their whip. Your struggling heroes probably don't perform spontaneous tokens of reverent personal decency and everyone knows dignity and principle are the first things dumped on the verge when socioeconomic shit gets real. And don't get me started on the tattoos. Which leads me to the second point- the wet-dream cast as a bone of contention. While Harrelson, Dafoe and Saldana (if I see one more token woman-as-passive-adjunct in the next month, I'm going to choke somebody out) can do low-end, Bale in particular is a poor fit for deprivation, trying his best to disguise that physical noblesse that is so fundamental to his onscreen presence. Whitaker just sort of shuffles around stolidly. Affleck girns and slouches and affects volatility but never gets there, hampered by inconsistency of characterisation in a script that can't seem to decide if he is inarticulate or not. See that squishyface he's trying for on the poster? Disney ghetto. The clunky touches don't stop there; the spliced fight/hunting scene that had me girning and slouching (the dewy-eyed deer; it burns!) is quite emblematic of the film's failings as a whole.
Watch Out of the Furnace on a slow night, by all means; it's a dog, but we didn't hate-hate it. The superlative visual tour of America's arse-end alone is worth your rental dime and since I just pecked the eyes out of it for you, you can leave your critical faculties in the charger.
* More film review Here * Time to kill? Check out some Photoessays *
This time I decided to get all deep and Rorschachy since I love symmetry and abstraction. I forget which NIK Silver efex filter I used but it was one of the arty ones down the bottom of the panel if that's any help. Then it was erm... something... darken/lighten centre, that's right. Anyways... me like this.
* More photos du jour Here *