Forlorn.of.thee (fa'lo:n ŭv thē), p, my only strength and stay,forlorn of thee, whither shall I betake me, where subsist?
Paradise Lost by John Milton
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When Things Go Wrong

Came across a couple of passages... the first by an unknown the other by Kipling

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~ Anon

______________________________________

IF

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

~ Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stealing a moment...

Was reading Vicki's blog Sparkle and Glitter about all the little things that helps one make it through the workday. Endless cups of coffee aside, amid the mind-numbing spreadsheets, I try to sneak out for a quiet moment, to make a call to a loved one (or the headhunter), sometimes to reflect, maybe even daydream...


Quite surprisingly, at the very heart of a bustling city of 4 million, one can find many quiet spots, all within a stone's throw of the office (located on the northern end of the city, just before the Harbour Bridge). In case you're ever in Sydney and need some where quiet, here's a couple of my favourite...

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1) Under the Aon Building there are some shops selling great coffee and a really peaceful space overlooking Hickson Street Wharf.


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2) Courtyard of St Patrick's. BTW this little church has a fantastic collection of statues located round the internal wall of the building.


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3) Park at Lang Street


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4) Wynyard Park and statue of Reverend J.D. Lang, the minister who founded the Scot's Church.


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5) Underpass of the Western Distributor (up ramp to the Harbour Bridge)


Lunch time... sneaking out for a little peace, quiet and sun :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pimp my blog

Since I work in the finance industry, thought it a good (bad? ugly?) idea to pen another blog Fun with Finance where I can mutter some insane ideas and thoughts, something to do with money, saving money, making money (pretty scarce on ideas here) and loosing money (this one's easy!)...

http://funandfinance.blogspot.com/

Feel free to comment, criticise or rant.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recommended Reading List

"Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man."
- Sir Francis Bacon

Books, in pursuit of knowledge, a source of pleasure, not to mention hours of amusement and leisure. Blogged earlier, never to underestimate the power of the mind, one of favourite books. Was honestly hoping it could help with the dimensions of a particular male appendage, but alas, it was not the case :(

Nonetheless, here's my list of must read tomes ;)

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Runaway trolleys are a real problem down under. If one reported a lost shopping trolley, you get the chance to enter into a monthly competition to win $1,000. If Aussies had a book like this, well, competitions wouldn't be necessary, we would be able to direct lost trolleys home.
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Knit one purl two. No knitter should be without this.
What more need be said...
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This one stolen from Gem. Yep it's definitely wood :)
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Looks like everyone is trying to get onto the band wagon.
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Cat lovers, note!
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Mandatory reading for all chefs and cooks.
Followed to the letter by those serving gelato at the Coogee Bay Hotel *ugh*
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I'm considering taking up woodwork in my old age...
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Walk away!
What were you thinking?
~


Sending a crate of these books to the Buzkashi tribe in Afghanistan.
Exchange for a kg of their finest :p
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Wish I read this when I was in college... *sigh*
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Action, adventure, exotic location, bondage, cuffs, whips
and a pygmy nymphomaniac... Sex sells!
~


Happy reading and have a great weekend :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goat's with a view

One thing I love about Taronga Zoo is it's location along Sydney's foreshore in the very, very expensive suburb of Mosman. Glad the goat's enjoying the view :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen writer, composer of Hallelujah (one of my favourite songs) will be in Australia at the end of Jan 2009. He talks to Neil McCormick, Telegraph, London


Leonard Cohen

In 15 years away from the stage, Leonard Cohen has endured psychological crisis, spiritual transformation and the loss of his fortune in a financial fraud, yet he treats such personal dramas as the stuff of art. "We basically all lead the same kind of lives," he said recently. "Gain and loss, surrender and victory - popular music has to be about those subjects."

It is all there in one song in particular, an epic, gospel-tinged ballad of desire and rejection, love and sex, God and man, failure and transcendence, the inevitability of death and triumph of the spirit against the greatest odds. Performed by a 73-year-old man with a shattered voice, it is a song with the power to turn a rock arena into a cathedral.

The song is Hallelujah. Written and rewritten by Cohen over the years, it has come to be regarded by many as the greatest song of all time. It has been recorded and performed by more than 100 artists in a dozen different languages, including versions by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bono, KD Lang, Rufus Wainwright and, most famously, Jeff Buckley. It has featured on the soundtracks of dozens of films, from Shrek to the dark satire Lord of War.


Rufus Wainwright

It is, in many respects, a song for every occasion. Rufus Wainwright has said, "It's an easy song to sing. The music never pummels the words. The melody is almost liturgical and conjures up religious feelings. It's purifying." It was not, however, an easy song to write. When he works, Cohen explores every lyrical permutation, sometimes completely finishing verses then discarding them. He claims there are at least 80 verses to Hallelujah. "I filled two notebooks and I remember being in the Royalton Hotel [in New York], on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, 'I can't finish this song.'"
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He has actually recorded two distinct versions, with almost completely different lyrics, and it is partly this that lends the song its openness to interpretation, as artists mix and match verses. It subtly alters over time to reflect the needs of the moment.

Appropriately, in its original version on Cohen's 1984 album Various Positions, Hallelujah is, partially, about the act of songwriting itself. Cohen invokes the Biblical story of King David (composer of psalms and so the original songwriter) and the woman whose beauty overthrew him, Bathsheba. The protagonist offers up his "sacred chord" to a lover whose indifference to art is expressed in the put-down, "You don't really care for music, do ya?"

Cohen first rose to minor prominence in the late Fifties as a Canadian poet and novelist (he has produced 12 volumes of poetry and prose), turning to songwriting only in his thirties in an attempt to generate some income. "In hindsight it seems the height of folly to address one's economic problems by becoming a singer," he subsequently said, although he was an accomplished musician who had performed with country bands in university in Montreal.

Despite standing in dark contrast to the prevailing hippie spirit, his 1968 debut was greeted with popular acclaim. Yet for some, Cohen's doleful voice and challenging subject matter became synonymous with "bedsits and razorblades". He once dryly described his reputation as "suicidal, depressive, melancholic and a ladies man, as if women appreciated these other qualities".

Cohen's amorous interests are to the fore in Hallelujah. Bathsheba seduces and defiles David. But the singer pointedly expresses no preference for "the holy or the broken hallelujah". In the end, despite acknowledging failure, confusion and weakness, he pronounces himself ready to stand defiantly before the "Lord of Song" with "nothing on my tongue but 'Hallelujah'." The second version of the song - which appeared in 1994 and retained only the chorus and concluding lines - is even more overtly sexual than the original. It is also emotionally harsher, the bitter reminiscence of someone who admits "all I've ever seemed to learn from love / Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya."

Former Velvet Underground member John Cale helped shape it with his own recording in 1991, when Cohen faxed him 15 pages of lyrics. "I went through and just picked out the cheeky verses," Cale claimed. It was this that Jeff Buckley covered for his 1994 album Grace. Buckley described it as an homage to "the hallelujah of the orgasm".


Jeff Buckley

Though it dispenses with the final redemptive verse, Buckley's recording retains the song's religious character. This is part of its innate appeal, the contrast between its harsh depiction of life and the quality of uplifting transcendence contained in the repeated soaring Hallelujahs.

"That's what it's all about," says Cohen. "You're not going to be able to work this thing out. There's no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is when you embrace it all and say, "Look, I don't understand a ****ing thing at all - Hallelujah!'"

Buckley's version (and his subsequent death in a swimming accident in 1997) really began the afterlife of Hallelujah. Versions are regularly used as background music during montages of people getting bad news in TV hospital dramas and death scenes. Asked about the song's enduring appeal, Cohen says, "It's got a good chorus", which is true, if disingenuous. It is a song that tells us failure is OK, indeed it is human. It is a song that suggests it is enough just to have lived.

It is a lesson Cohen seems to have taken time to arrive at. A self-confessed depressive, in 1994 he retreated to Mount Baldy Zen Centre near Los Angeles, beginning five years of seclusion during which he was ordained as a Buddhist monk. He has said of the experience, "Life became not easier, but simpler. The backdrop of self-analysis I had lived with disappeared. It's like that joke: 'When you're hitting your head against a brick wall, it feels good when it stops.'"

His new-found equanimity faced a challenge in 2005, when he discovered his retirement funds had been siphoned off by a trusted manager. More than $5 million dollars was gone, leaving him, aged 70, with just $150,000 in his account. "I had to go to work," he said. "I have no money left. I'm not saying it's bad. I have enough of an understanding of the way the world works to understand that these things happen." It is this that has put him back on the stage and in the studio, where he has been recording a new album. Given the lengthy gestation of Hallelujah, however, it might be unwise for fans to hold their breath.

"The only advice I have for young songwriters is that if you stick with a song long enough, it will yield," he recently said. "But long enough is not any fixed duration. You might have to stay with it for years and years."

Friday, November 7, 2008

What the fuck was I thinking?

Pon and Zi, a love story.



Pon & Zi Artwork - Jeff Thomas
Fuck was I thinking - Jenny Owen Youngs
Video - Nathan Alexander Jones

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mind power!


By Donald Wilson MD 1979 Book. He is a doctor right?
Get your copy from Amazon

:)

BTW this 10% brain thing is FALSE. We use 100% of our brain!
See snopes.com

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jacaranda Time

Purple blooms, slippery pavements, summer's almost here!