The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

October 2004 Archive

October 03, 2004


More moose content in weblogs!

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

October 04, 2004

The Cement Mixer

Cement mixer in Greek landscape
Click picture to enlarge center section

By far the most dangerous predator on Greek country roads is the Cement Mixer (mixator cæmentarius). This creature is fairly easy to identify, as it has a fairly unique shape; minor variations in the species are only distinguished by stripes of varying colour on the rotating tank. Typically, the Cement Mixer is a 6-wheeled creature, although 4- and 8-wheeled varieties have also been sighted.

While perfectly harmless when stationary, the Cement Mixer has the tendency to surprise unsuspecting car drivers by appearing out of nowhere with no advance warning whatsoever, especially on extremely bendy and narrow mountain roads and at extremely high speeds. In fact, the picture above is a true rarity, as it is one of the very few documented examples of a Cement Mixer that is actually visible from a greater distance.

Cement Mixers can be found all over the country in large quantities, but especially in deserted stretches of uninhabited land where you wouldn't expect them. You can often drive for miles without seeing any other rolling creature, but as soon as you approach that blind summit or concealed curve, a Cement Mixer is almost certain to emerge from it.

As head-on encounters between small Japanese rental vehicles and Cement Mixers invariably result in the complete destruction of the small Japanese rental vehicle and the victory of the Cement Mixer, it is advisable to approach blind summits and concealed curves with great caution.

Posted by Horst at 11:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 05, 2004

When you submit or correct an article on the Wikipedia, you encounter the following warning:

By submitting your work you promise you wrote it yourself, or copied it from public domain resources — this does not include most web pages. DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!

This is a very interesting statement in the context of an encyclopedia, because it raises the question of what exactly "copyrighted work" is in this context. Just where is the boundary between what I am allowed to write and what is forbidden? Let's take a look at a few examples:

  1. The recipe for Wiener Schnitzel can be found in a large number of cookbooks, written by numerous authors. Does that mean that each of these recipes is copyrighted, and that therefore no two of these recipes can be identical? If I add the recipe to the Wikipedia, must I therefore invent a new Schnitzel recipe, one that has not yet been published in any of the copyrighted cookbooks? And how will I achieve this task, given that I would have to check thousands of cookbooks, and that the task of preparing a schnitzel is so simple that there isn't really much room for variation? And if anyone says, "ah, but Schnitzel is common knowledge in Austria", then I say, "okay, so spreading a Schnitzel recipe is okay, but Chicken Jalfrezi recipes are secret?"

  2. Albert Einstein's formula of energy equivalency was clearly Einstein's very own and original creation/discovery. Is it therefore copyrighted? Einstein died less than 70 years ago, which would mean that the formula must not be reproduced or reprinted anywhere.

  3. The wikipedia entry for Braunau am Inn contains two factual mistakes, both of which are likely copied from the Dumont Kunstreiseführer Oberösterreich, which contains exactly the same two mistakes. It also contains a number of other factoids that may or may not be copied from this guide book, but it's really hard to say, as these are historical facts about this town that may well come from other sources. But does the fact that the historical facts were already printed in a copyrighted book make them unsuitable for republication in the wikipedia, or does the fact that they are historical facts exempt them from copyright? (At any rate, the two mistakes should certainly not be in the wikipedia, not because they're wrong, but because they are clearly the guidebook author's creative products rather than fact.)

So where is the border line then? Can I copy facts from any other publication as long as I rephrase them and don't copy them verbatim? Surely not — there is the distinction between the direct (i.e. verbatim) quote and the indirect (i.e. in your own words) quote, and both strictly require the correct attribution of the source, and neither is exempt from copyright.

Simply rephrasing a different source is therefore obviously not an option. In fact, the good encyclopedias (i.e. those who list their sources of information) do indeed ask for copyright clearance for every entry that is based on a printed, referenced source.[1] But what about things that we assume to be general or common knowledge? Are they really in the public domain? Can we trust our assumption or must we expect a letter from a lawyer if we should ever decide to publish it somewhere?

Or, on the other hand, should we ever decide to write something which contains facts, does this mean that these passages can be copied from what we consider our work by anyone for whatever purpose?[2]

Does this mean that, despite the warning to not submit copyrighted work to wikipedia, current tendencies in copyright laws make it impossible to do just that? How free is what we believe to be free knowledge really, and where is the boundary between free and copyrighted? Could it really be that we are free to say what we want, but have to ask (and pay) the copyright holders whenever we want to write what we say?

[1] One of the really great deficits of Wikipedia is that, contrary to many other encyclopedias, no article lists I have not yet found a single article in it that lists the sources from which the information is taken, which would be vital for determining the reliability of the article. But this is understandable, as attributing the source could be seen as an admission that the article is not original and that it may after all be subject to copyright (although this is not necessarily the case). That is despite the fact that the information must be taken from some source — we cannot expect the Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to be the result of the article author's very own research.

[2] Recently, a big uproar went through the German blogosphere when a Frankfurt newspaper started printing excerpts from weblogs. It was interesting to notice how some of the most fervent critics of the copyright suddenly wanted their writing protected from being published by just about anyone — which is precisely the rationale that led to the creation of copyright laws in the first place.

Posted by Horst at 02:10 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

October 06, 2004

Monument at Agia Galini
Agia Galini, Greece, September 2004

I have no idea what this monument is, but it looked cool. Actually, it looked better in real life, but you can't have everything. Lots of work here, so there are no new articles today, but yesterday's stuff was updated here and there, and to maintain that Greek holiday feeling, The Aardvark Cooks has a new Beef stifado recipe (and I hope there's no second one like it in any copyrighted cookbook).

Posted by Horst at 05:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2004

Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek wins the Nobel Prize for Literature 2004. This is, um, quite a surprise. Not because Jelinek isn't good, but because next to Thomas Bernhard, she is probably the most controversial contemporary Austrian writer. Fervently anti-establishment, anti-Catholic, and an outspoken critic of the current conservative Austrian government, she has been the victim of a number of rater dirty media campaigns against her, which makes this kind of recognition from abroad all the more significant.

Jelinek received the prize "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power". This describes Jelinek's writing pretty well; unlike many laureates before her, her writing can be called anything but accessible. It is also quintessentially Austrian — it seems almost inconceivable that foreign readers should be able to grasp her fierce attacks against Austrian Catholicism, the Austrian variety of the patriarchal, rural male chauvinist society and the female repression through sexuality in it (some of her novels, like Lust and the more famous The Piano Teacher (which was made into a film two years ago), have been called pornographic, but her explicit descriptions are designed to disgust, rather than excite her readers). It is therefore all the more surprising that she should win this prestigious prize.

It is very much like her that in her first reaction she told the press that she felt "more desperation than happiness" at the news, telling Reuters it would turn her into what she "never wanted to be — a person in the public eye." I honestly don't know whether I should express my congratulations here. She really deserves this kind of recognition, but it also feels totally wrong that she should ever get it, because people like her usually don't.

Posted by Horst at 11:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

October 08, 2004

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh.... [link in German; via Del]

Posted by Horst at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The editorial board of The Aardvark Speaks would like to take this opportunity and use the award euphoria created by the Nobel Prize Committee to hand out a few very special awards ourselves.

  • The first one, The Aardvark Award for Innovative Textiles goes to the Swedish clothes chain H&M for their invention of self-destructing men's socks that simply dissolve on your feet once they've been washed more often than three times. We appreciate their effort to increase our comfort on hot summer days when their socks automatically disintegrate on our feet rather than having to take them off ourselves, even though the patent is not quite as handy in winter, and the unexpected huge holes in only semi-disintegrated socks can cause some major embarrassment.

  • The Aardvark Award for the Commercial Exploitation of Temporal Anomalies goes to the Vienna Transport Authority for their tramway line 49, which normally runs at a pretty regular 3-5 minute interval, but which simply disappears in a time hole every day between 8:30 and 8:45am. We are not sure whether the trams are shifted to a parallel universe or simply suspended in time, but we sure do appreciate the investment into technological advances (a state-of-the-art electronic train positioning system) that made this total disappearance of trams for 15 minutes every day possible.

  • And finally, The Aardvark Award for the Non-Delivery of Parcels goes to Deutsche Post for their delivery policy in Austria, which is the most effective way of making sure that you will never receive your parcel. Whereas parcels handled by the Austrian Post can simply be collected at the next post office and other parcel services will at least give you some address in some field 20 miles out of town if you're not at home when they are trying to deliver it, Deutsche Post will simply attempt to deliver the parcel on several consecutive working days at more or less the same time, never leave a notification or contact telephone number, and then simply send the parcel back or deposit it somewhere (without notifying the recipient) if the delivery attempts were unsuccessful. Thus they have developed the ultimate system to make sure that recipients are waiting forever or that already paid-for orders are lost.

The winners can collect their prizes at the Aardvark Head Office. Contact us via e-mail for details.

Posted by Horst at 11:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 10, 2004

Haldur Gislufsson does Zen

I really don't know what I should write today, so I decided to write nothing at all. Instead, the comments are open and you can ask me anything you'd like to know. But please bear in mind that while I'm a very knowledgeable moose, I do not know everything. So you may want to keep to topics that I might know something about.

More moose content in weblogs!

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:35 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

October 11, 2004

The Austrian government has recently changed the pension laws, which, as might be expected these days, means less money for all of us. This wouldn't be Austria, however, if the law didn't include a set of exceptions so that a few groups of people aren't affected by the cuts as much as others are. The so-called "Schwerarbeiterregelung" (heavy labour regulation) states that people can go into retirement sooner if their work qualifies as "heavy labour".

Accompanying this regulation is a list of 209 professions that lists them according to "heaviness". This list was published last week [in German]. While, unsurprisingly, forest and metal labourers top the list, the profession right at the bottom of the list, and thus considered the easiest, lightest kind of work, is — librarian. Apparently, even being a patent lawyer is harder work than being a librarian.

I beg your pardon? Now while I agree that I don't know a lot about the work of patent lawyers, I still strongly doubt that many of them carry several hundred books from the stacks to the issue desk every day. Okay, so many of us employees here at VU library work in the office most of the time and have strictly administrative work, but according to the list, office/administrative work ranks at #158, i.e. 51 positions above librarian.

Just what on earth do these people think librarians are doing all day? And, for that matter, what do the people that made this list know about any profession? Can it be symptomatic that "Lokomotivheizer" (steam engine stoker) appears on the list at number 29, despite the fact that no Austrian railway company uses steam engines any longer?

Posted by Horst at 12:54 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

October 12, 2004

I suddenly realised this morning that Austria hasn't had a Foreign Minister for — how long? One month? Two months? Three months? Does anybody know? Has anybody else noticed?

There was a bit of a debate about who would become Benita Ferrero-Waldner's successor when it was announced that she would become an EU commissioner in Brussels, but this seems like a long time ago. She's been in Brussels for a while now and still no successor has been named, nor does it seem likely to happen anytime soon. Who has been in charge of Austrian foreign policy since then? Has there been any foreign policy at all? Does anyone even care?

Posted by Horst at 10:41 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Mark E. Smith

We are Northern white crap that talks back / We are The Fall we are spinning we are stepping / Cop out, cop out as in from heaven / The difference between you and us is that we have brains / Cos we are Northern white crap / But we talk back / Uh oh, uh oh / Bang f**king bang, The Mighty Fall / The Fall, we are back, we are back...

Szene Wien, 8pm. See you there.

Posted by Horst at 10:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2004

Sorry, the entry planned for today turned out to be more work than expected and had to be postponed until tomorrow. Instead, thanks to eedoo, a fellow Fall fan, I can offer you a few snippets from last night's excellent concert:

  • All Clasp Hands (MP3, 3.3MB)
  • Theme from Sparta FC (MP3, 3.6 MB)

(N.B.: These tracks will only be available for a very short time are no longer available)

Posted by Horst at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 14, 2004

Well, not really an interview. After the Fall gig on Tuesday, I walked into the bar for another beer, and there were Ben Pritchard, Steve Trafford, and one of the guys from their support band Doc Schoko talking and enjoying after-gig beers. When the Doc Schoko guy left, I walked over to Ben and Steve, only to congratulate them for the great gig, but we ended up talking for about half an hour. Jim Watts joined us later, too, but it was mostly Ben talking.

Which is why today I am proud to present you an Aardvark exclusive — an approximative interview with Ben Pritchard talking about The Fall.

Slight disclaimer: I didn't take notes while we were talking, so everything is pieced together from the things I still remembered on the next day. It's a bit sketchy, and the quotes reproduced here aren't really verbatim. I hope I am reproducing everything correctly, because the last thing I'd want is Mark E. Smith sacking Ben because I wrote nonsense here. So anything that's wrong here is entirely my fault.

The obvious starting point for talking to Ben and Steve was to congratulate them for the great show. The Fall feel so much more like a real band at the moment, playing together really well, and appearing very much in sync.

"Thanks. Yes, I guess that's true. We now have some really good musicians who are getting along really well, and that's why we're getting better as a band, too."

During the gig, it sometimes seemed as if he was kind of in charge musically — playing a strong lead guitar, signalling Spencer [Birtwistle] the breaks, that kind of thing.

"No, hell no, I'm not in charge of anything, and I certainly don't want to be. The thing with Spencer is that he just joined us and he doesn't know the songs all that well yet, so I have to signal him when there's a tempo change or something. That's really all there is to it. They say that on the internet too, you know, Ben does this, Ben does that, but I really don't."

Spencer unfamiliar with the songs? It seems incredible if you've seen him in action. I think he's an amazing drummer — terribly precise, and he adds such a lot of drive to the music. He's really powerful and can be very taut when necessary, unlike any Fall drummer before him.

"Oh yes, he's really becoming an important part of the group. He's very different from Dave [Milner]. Dave was a great guy and a really good drummer as well, but Spencer has a totally different approach to drumming, one that fits in really great with the kind of music that we're playing now."

While we're talking about new band members, does it feel temporary to be in The Fall?

Ben laughs. "I guess so. I've been in the band for five years now, so that's either a very good thing or a very bad thing. In the end, only Mark knows."

I don't really want to talk a lot about Mark, after all I'm talking to Ben and don't want to turn this into a Mark-this and Mark-that conversation. But there is one question that I have about the man whose band changes its line-up at least once per year: is he really such an erratic person?

"Oh yes. He is certainly... unpredictable. He'll also come up with the most amazing ideas when you least expect it. I've known him since I was 15 — a long time before I joined the band — and he is certainly the most creative person I've ever met."

I've seen Fall gigs — a particularly bad one in the mid-1990s comes to mind — when the group seemed in disarray and even Mark was a mere shadow of himself. But now it seems as if he has more stage presence than ever before and the group is really dense and focussed.

"Well, the band is really good now. That makes it a lot more interesting for him to invest time and energy into it, and he is doing that now, and of course you notice that immediately."

Ben asks me if I was at the last Vienna gig three years ago. I tell him I wasn't. That was after their previous album Are You Are Missing Winner, and I didn't really like that album.

"The problem with AYAMW is that it was recorded very quickly."

I tell him that I always felt that it sounds like it was recorded and mixed in three days with total lack of interest.

"We probably did it even quicker. But do you like Country On the Click [a.k.a. The Real New Fall LP]?"

Well, yes, of course. Who doesn't?

"You see, the reason this turned out so good was that we spent a lot more time on it. Actually I think it wouldn't be so good if Missing Winner hadn't been so bad. That way we really wanted to make an effort to make this better."

I say that part of what makes Country such a good album is that it seems to have a sense of purpose, of direction. Many of the 1990s records were meandering, probing all different sorts of things, some (like Light User Syndrome, Marshall Suite and Unutterable) very successfully so, some not, but the main difference now is that it seems like the band's really found a direction.

"Absolutely. I'm not sure it's the direction Mark expected to find, but it's there, and there's a whole new sense of purpose in the band."

And the band just seems to get better all the time. I never liked "Green Eyed Loco-Man", thinking it was kind of lame actually, but tonight's live version just blew me away.

"I know. It's a different song now than when we first recorded it. We keep playing it, and it just keeps growing on us and getting better. Same with some other songs. It works with this band. It's amazing."

I say that I'm really looking forward to the new album, which will be out on November 1st.

"Well, it's not a real album, you know. It's kind of in-between. We've been touring a lot, so we haven't really had the time to write a lot of new songs lately. We hope to get a proper album out next year. Making one album a year is very demanding, so this is just like half an album. It was done very quickly, it's probably very raw."

I guess this means it can either be very good or very bad.

"Let's hope it's good," Ben says, "I haven't heard it yet, let me just knock on wood and hope it turns out good." He walks over to a table and knocks on it, then he notices it's a metal table. "Oh dang, this isn't even wood."

"After this tour, we need to take a break for a while and work on new songs for the next album proper. I've got ideas, Steve's got ideas, Spencer's got ideas--

I suppose Mark's got ideas as well...

Ben laughs. "Yes, he does. He does. But what we really need is some time to get them down and turn them into proper songs."

It's almost the end of the tour, isn't it?

"It's Munich tomorrow, and then right after the gig the same night we're off to New York to play at the Virgin Megastore. But the worst thing is that we have to wait 6 hours at Heathrow for our connecting flight."

Sounds like fun.

Ben agrees: "I'm going to be soo knackered."

I express my sympathies.

Ben takes the cue and checks his watch. "Well, I guess I'm off so that I get at least some sleep tonight."

I wish him a good night, tell him to keep up the great work, and not to get sacked too easily.

He laughs at that last remark. Obviously, in the end, only Mark knows.

Posted by Horst at 11:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

October 18, 2004

Yesterday I saw the new iMac G5 for the first time in real life (rather than on pictures). I must honestly say that I have never been this underwhelmed by computer design since Apple stopped making beige boxes.

Often when Apple announced a new product and I saw the pictures, I wasn't sure if I liked the design, but whenever I saw the actual computer, I liked it immediately. This time, I thought the iMac G5 looked really gorgeous on the pictures, but boy is it ugly in real life. It's basically a thick, plump blob of white plastic.

A recent review on Der Spiegel online [in German] brings the point across nicely: the slogan "Where did the computer go?" is backfiring seriously — the iMac G5 simply looks too much like a TFT monitor, a badly-designed one, for that matter. "A clunky LC-Display with a non-matching metal stand will not even please those who like Apple computers for purely aesthetic reasons." Indeed not. The company that won a reputation for designing the most elegant computers on the market has committed a major design goof-up.

Posted by Horst at 11:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

October 19, 2004

In order to avoid
disagreeable disadvantages,
we advise our customers
not to leave any
unattended baggages


Posted by Horst at 06:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 20, 2004

Obviously I haven't been watching women's tennis matches for quite a long time. So today I was sitting at my dentist's, waiting for him to come in and start work on yet another root treatment, and he had the TV set switched on, most likely to distract nervous patients. It was Eurosport, and they were broadcasting some women's tennis match from somewhere boring like Zurich, I think.

Anyway, I don't know if there ever was a rule regulating skirt length in women's tennis, but I think there was, because skirts all used to have a similar length. So not having seen a women's tennis match in a long time, I was totally unprepared for the complete lack of skirt length displayed by the players in this match. They wore skirt-like thingies alright, but those were short enough to expose the players' underpants pretty much all the time. No idea why they bothered with the short thingies anyway — the only reason I can think of is that the person responsible for these regulations has an upskirt fetish; for him it must be a fantasy come true. For me it was an entirely new way of watching, but not following a tennis match — I mean, do they seriously expect any man under the influence of testosterone to waste even a moment looking at the ball when the players are dressed like this?

Or it all has to do with compensating for the lost glamour in tennis — like they are doing in Madrid with models as ball girls, whose dresses are already causing controversy even though they reveal much less than what I saw at the dentist's today.

My tooth is fine, by the way.

Posted by Horst at 02:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 22 October 2004:
Horst P. Prillinger reads poetry, prose and weblog entries from his book CURSED
Café Zum Blauen Engel, Lindengasse 3, 1070 Wien, from 8pm.

Tuesday, 26 October 2004:
DJs deedee & p(i)x w/ special guest h-prill play their favourite records
Blue Box, Richtergasse 8, 1070 Wien, from 9pm.

Posted by Horst at 07:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 21, 2004

I have this new jacket. It's a nice jacket, mind you, I really like it — it's just the right thing for the temperatures this time of the year. However, I'm not sure if it's the right thing for this kind of weather. It's kind of humid at the moment, you see, with intermittent showers of rain, and the jacket starts to smell really strange when it gets wet. It's a smell that makes me doubt very seriously the manufacturer's specifications on the label, which say that the jacket is made of 100% Polyester. To be precise, the jacket, when wet, smells of wet dog.

Now I know that it's somewhat unlikely that due to the lack of Polyester fibres they used dog hair as a substitute, but then the jacket was manufactured in Malaysia, and you know how some people say that people eat dogs in Asian countries, so what would keep them from making jackets out of them as well? I mean, according to European standards, making a jacket out of dog hair seems to be considerably less revolting than actually eating the dog.

Unless your dog hair jacket gets wet of course. The smell is quite revolting.

Posted by Horst at 11:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

October 22, 2004

The Japanese Pickup

Japanese Pickup in Greek landscape
Picture: Two Japanese Pickups quietly grazing at the side of the road.

Previous episode in this series: The Cement Mixer

The Japanese Pickup is slightly less dangerous than the Cement Mixer, as most of the time it merely rolls along at speeds below 20kph, blocking the way of the typical tourist in his small rental car, especially on narrow roads where overtaking is impossible, making them a nuisance rather than a danger.

However, they should not be underestimated: Some Japanese Pickups would obviously like to be Cement Mixers, and in obvious imitation of their larger idols, some of them do unexpectedly appear in narrow curves and behind blind summits. Also, as some areas of Greece like Crete are something like Japanese Pickup Retreats, many very very old pickups — some thirty years old and older — populate the country roads in various states of disrepair. It is vital that you keep a safe distance from these creatures in case they suddenly fall apart.

Some Japanese Pickups have been known to co-operate with Cement Mixers: they will putter along a road at a nervewreckingly low speed, and when the tourist finally attempts to overtake them, a Cement Mixer will appear out of nowhere and attempt to run into the tourist's rental car. So the Japanese Pickup should always be watched with care; they are harmless only when parked at the side of the road as in the picture above.

Posted by Horst at 11:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 24, 2004

Moose girl in autumn landscape
Moose girl in autumn landscape. Photo by Doug Lloyd via Mooseworld.

Sigh. Once in a while I find a beautiful picture like this, and then I ask myself whether living in the city was really such a good idea and whether I shouldn't just return to the fyords, find a nice moose girl and settle down.

On the other hand, in Horst's flat there is no danger of becoming the victim of a bizarre accident like this one.

More moose content in weblogs!

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2004

If you'd like a CD with a complete recording of the Fall gig in Vienna on Oct 12th (see also here), just email me a reason why you'd like to have one. I'm giving away five copies to the first five readers of my weblog who write in.

Update: Four Three Two copies One copy still available. All gone.

For the rest of you, there's some pumpkin goulash.

Posted by Horst at 09:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I had this embarrassing experience today, when immediately before my Tai Chi class, my nipples suddenly decided to erect themselves. Now you may say that there are more embarrassing parts of the human body that could erect themselves before a Tai Chi class, but on the other hand, if these other body parts erect themselves, you may choose not to attend the Tai Chi class at all. And I certainly wouldn't write about it.

As it was, however, I merely noticed before class that my nipples seemed to be extra-sensitive and rather, well, erect, but didn't think much about it in terms of visibility — until I saw myself in the mirror in the classroom right after class had started. My nipples were very visible, and rather embarrassingly so. Wearing a rather loose t-shirt did not seem to make any difference at all — for some weird reason my shirt seemed to be loose pretty much everywhere except around my nipples, which is odd, as usually it's loose up there and tight around my belly.

Anyway, first, I started thinking about what may have caused my nipples to erect themselves, then I realised that I should rather think about ways to get them back to normal. That didn't work either. So I decided to imagine that no-one saw them anyway. Which may have worked or not. At any rate, I was glad when the class was over.

Note: Due to the Austrian National Holiday, there will be no update tomorrow.

Posted by Horst at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 26, 2004

John Peel has died from a heart attack at the age of 65 while on holiday with his wife in Peru. This is a sad day for music lovers worldwide. Over the past four decades, Peel has promoted numerous new bands and musical trends off the mainstream. He was one of the very few radio DJs that kept music interesting to listen to. His death is a great loss, not just to the fans of his radio show, not just to the musicians he discovered and was still going to discover, but to music in general.

Obituary on
Article on The Guardian

Posted by Horst at 07:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

October 27, 2004

At some point I stopped wearing leather jackets when I was travelling by airplane. For a while, I used to think that leather jackets were ideal for travel — rugged material, suitable for any medium-to-cold, dry-to-humid weather, but then the baggage controls just became too much of a nuisance. For some reason the customs officers would always single out me, the sole leather jacket wearer on the airplane, and rummage through my baggage. What they expected to find I don't know — they certainly never found anything more incriminating than sweaty socks and dirty underwear — and why they thought wearing a leather jacket was a sign that I had something fishy (other than cans of tuna) in my bag is also beyond me. At any rate, at some point I simply stopped wearing leather jackets, and I haven't been singled out for a baggage control even once since then.

Theoretically, there is the freedom of movement between EU countries. This means that there are no obstacles that would hinder you from moving into any other EU country of your choice. Many EU countries have even joined the Schengen treaty, which means there are no more passport and customs controls when you cross from one Schengen country into another. You can fly from Vienna to Crete without showing your passport even once.

I don't know the exact wording of the Schengen treaty, but it seems that night trains must be explicitly exempt from it. That it because Austrian officials are patrolling the international night trains to and from Vienna like mad these days. Expect armed police officers with dogs on the night train from Amsterdam (as if anyone who isn't stoned beyond comprehension would be stupid enough to smuggle drugs on the night train), brutal, muscular guys with bulletproof vests and fireproof overalls on the train from Warsaw, and two normal-looking, but somewhat aggressive men in black jackets on the train to Rome.

In short, the two normal-looking men in the black jackets on the train to Rome refused to let me leave the country because I had forgotten my passport. They ignored my pleas of "but there's the Schengen treaty, and I don't need a passport to cross the border" with the brief statement, "yes, but this is not a border control, this is a police control, and we want to see your passport if you want to stay on this train." My driver's licence (issued by the same government body with roughly the same information in it) didn't suffice. Instead, they threatened to charge me a €300 fine if I didn't leave the train at the next station.

I didn't find their arguments too convincing, but the fine was an incentive to cut my holidays one day short, get off the train, return to Vienna, get the passport and spend all of the next day (from 06:10 hrs to 19:45 hrs, to be precise), on a different train to Rome with a small detour via Innsbruck (this being the only decent connection). Nobody wanted to see my passport on that train. But then it wasn't a night train, and as we all know, terrorists and drug dealers only travel by night train.

And I hadn't even worn a leather jacket.

Posted by Horst at 10:40 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

October 28, 2004

October 29, 2004

Starting this weekend, there will be a slight change in the publication schedule of The Aardvark Speaks: I've taken weekends off for a while now, and now Haldur Gislufsson wants to do the same, which is only fair, I guess. So from now on Haldur will be contributing his moose content on Mondays instead of Sundays, and regular blogging by myself will be on Tuesdays through Fridays. Except on special occasions, there will be no updates on Saturdays and Sundays — I decided I can't really be witty on a daily basis anyway, so the new schedule sounds more feasible than the current one.

There's also been a very subtle change to our motto, see if you can spot the difference.

Posted by Horst at 12:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

In memory of John Peel, Maxx linked to John Peel's festive 50, Peel's annual show of the best 50 tracks of the year, and one thing that I noticed was that apart from The Fall, whom Peel loved and promoted fervently, another band which I'd like a lot, theoretically, featured very heavily in recent years' lists, Cinerama.

I'm saying "theoretically" because I stopped listening to their music, not because I don't like it anymore, but rather because I think they have extremely bad karma. And that's not just because I think that their frontman David Gedge, whom I encountered twice, may be even more arrogant than The Fall's Mark E. Smith (which, I know, sounds near impossible), it's because weird things happen when I get into their music too much.

For example, this is my third attempt at writing this stupid weblog entry. My computer crashed during the two previous attempts. Which is pretty odd, as it hasn't crashed in ages. And every time I bought an album by one of Gedge's bands (mostly his previous band, The Wedding Present), I've had a personal relationship break up. This has happened no fewer than four times. This may seem ironic given the band's name, but interestingly, most of their song lyrics actually are about broken relationships.

But while I think Gedge is arrogant and The Wedding Present gigs that I saw truly sucked (bad sound, total lack of interest from the band, never any encores), I also believe that Gedge is responsible for some of the finest albums of the 80s-00s — in particular, Seamonsters, Hit Parade 1+2 and Va va voom come to mind. Only I don't listen to them any longer, even though I'd like to, because I'm afraid of their bad karma.

And if my weblog starts behaving oddly or goes offline, you know who to blame.

Posted by Horst at 01:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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