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

November 2005 Archive

November 01, 2005

I remember when H&M were unleashed upon the Austrian market, some commentator in some newspaper hailed them as saviours, because "if you want just a plain t-shirt, they have it; if you want just a plain no-frills shirt, they have it". Uhm well, how the times change.

For some reason, it's getting increasingly difficult to buy a plain black or dark blue shirt without any mumbo-jumbo on it at a decent price. Sure enough, every shop sells them, but the plainer you want your shirt to be, the more you are expected to pay for it.

At some point during my search for The Plain Shirt I was beginning to doubt preconceived notions about the alleged poor dress sense of poorer people. Looking at how the most awful, gruesomly patterened shirts were selling under €10, it suddenly seemed feasible that it's not the dress sense that is to blame; in fact, it's the clothing industry, which has decided that the designs with the weirdest patterns and applications on them come at the lowest prices, whereas a plain shirt simply has its price.

And then once I had shelled out a ridiculous amount of money for that plain, simple shirt, I put it on only to realise that I seem to have a serious anatomical problem. According to shirt manufacturers, my arms are too short. Always have been, by the way. Hardly any shirt that I have has arms that don't seem to be at least four inches too long.

And yes, I am able to reach over my head with my right arm and touch my left earlobe and vice versa. Easily. Still, for some reason most shirts seem to be made for apes. Or by apes. That, on the other hand, might explain the gory colours on all the cheap shirts.

Posted by Horst at 12:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2005

As tomorrow is the first Friday of the month, you are herewith invited to come to the Café Kafka in Vienna's 6th district, Capistrangasse 8 (just off Mariahilferstrasse) to hear me read my new short story "An Anxious Man in the Moon" at the Labyrinth Poetry Open Mic. Event starts around 8:30pm, I'll be reading pretty early on.

Posted by Horst at 12:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 04, 2005

There is hair growing like mad all over my body, in the weirdest places. I'm told it's an age thing that happens to all men, sooner or later. Well.

Funny thing, evolution. Considering that humans evolved from hairy apes. Okay, so evolution made the apes lose most of their hair as they turned into humans, which is not a bad thing per se, but for some reason evolution also thought it was necessary that female apes lose more hair as they turned into female humans than male apes as they turned into male humans.

Or it was the other way round. Like, it didn't matter if males were more or less hairy, but there was some evolutionary reason why females had to be less hairy.

Either way, I fail to see the logic behind all of this.

And then there's this special case in which some men have no hair on their body and a lot of hair on their head for the first half of their life, and then they suddenly start to grow hair all over their body and lose all the hair on their head as they enter the second half of their life.

Either evolution has a twisted sense of humour, or this is proof that God exists after all.

Posted by Horst at 11:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

November 05, 2005

Okay, I give up. Can someone tell me why Safari sometimes refuses to render some of my web pages (like this one, this one or this one) and instead only shows the HTML source code, but if you click the Reload button, everything looks alright again?

As far as I can tell the source code is clean; the pages validate as XHTML 1.0, and Firefox has no problem with them at all, but I have not found any reports of Safari refusing to render web pages anywhere else?

If anybody knows what's wrong here and what I can do to correct this, any help would be much appreciated.

Posted by Horst at 11:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2005

A few days ago, I saw this documentary on happiness on TV. They interviewed this researcher who has apparently devoted all of his life to studying why people are happy and what makes them happy. The most fundamental results of his research were,

(a) people adapt miraculously to both happiness and unhappiness. Meaning that both wear off some time after an important positive or negative event and people inevitably return to their previous state of happiness, and

(b) 40% of your current happiness level is disposition. Meaning that you can't really influence it through conscious action. Which explains a lot.

In case you recognize yourself as the unhappy type, don't let that make you even more unhappy: this scientist also found out that people who are mostly unhappy don't fuck up things as often as happy people, who sometimes seem to be dangerously oblivious to all the bad things out there that are about to get them.

He also claimed that life expectancy of happy and unhappy people is about the same. People who are happy above average die more often in accidents, people who are unhappy above average get cancer or commit suicide.

He then went on to say that people who are average have the disadvantage of being, well, average. That's when the programme started to become slightly surreal.

Posted by Horst at 10:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2005

I suspect that my favourite Indian restaurant is beginning to compromise, which amounts to a minor catastrophe, as it used to be famous as a place where the waiters take good care of customers that they like and have an uncanny knack for getting rid of customers they don't like.

But all the signs are there:

The Madras and the Vindaloo just don't seem to be as hot as they used to be. First I thought it was just me getting used to them, but a recent visit to Khan's in London proved me otherwise.

The waiter's warning to unsuspecting customers that the Madras and the Vindaloo are "very, very hot" just doesn't seem to be as firm as it used to be.

Even worse, they are now accepting orders for medium-hot Madras and Vindaloo curries, which for me is an oxymoron. Even worse, in the past you could expect these custom-made curries to be extra hot rather than medium hot, but these days they actually are medium hot.

Let's not begin about the diminished use of spices in their curries recently. That is perhaps the saddest point of them all.

I really hate it when added competition leads to developments like these; that restaurants that once had totally delicious food are forced to become average because most customers seem to prefer average to delicious. I had been comvinced that this would be the one restaurant that would stick to its principles. Apparently, I was wrong.

Posted by Horst at 10:39 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2005

I get my best ideas for writing late at night, usually ten minutes or so after I decided to go to bed. Sometimes the ideas will hit me while I'm still brushing my teeth, at other times they come when I'm already lying in bed. Either way, I'm confronted with two choices: either go to sleep and inevitably forget everything until the next morning, or stay up, write all night and not get any sleep.

As I have a regular job that requires me to get up early in the morning, I usually compromise, which explains both why most of my writing isn't particularly good, and why I'm always dead tired in the morning and look like I haven't had enough sleep.

True artists never compromise.

Posted by Horst at 01:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2005

And then I was under the illusion of having writer's block because I can't seem to think of anything sensible to write about in my weblog at the moment as most of it feels like I've already done it before (yoghurt promotion on cold winter autumn days for example, the one thing you should definitely not be eating according to Chinese medicine, no matter what the [insert well-known brand name here] commercial tells you) or because it seems, well, ephemeral (like the observation that for some reason at this time of the year people dress mostly in grey or black, presumably to match the weather, or to deal with autumnal depression or whatever, and the sight of one young female student in brightly-coloured, alomst spring-like clothes in front of university this morning seems so totally out of place, not to mention out of season), and then I realised that I have been writing other things (like the Messages) like crazy lately and that it isn't really writer's block at all, that it's more of an unwillingness or almost an inability to blather on and on and on about my so-called "boring" life which possibly might be so "boring" that perhaps subconsciously I don't even consider it blogworthy any longer, and, let's admit it, Haldur Gislufsson talking about drunken mooses in Scandinavia for the third consecutive year isn't all that funny either, even if they are now terrorising the residents of an old people's home home, and besides, I haven't even decided whether Haldur should return to this blog or remain mysteriously absent (in a possibly misguided attempt to make this weblog seem more "mature" and "adult" because to be taken more seriously while at the same time I am having long-time Haldur fans complaining about his protrected absence), and all I can say about this is well I don't think I really care because much as I hate my access statistics to indicate that I lost more than half my readers since August, I still can't force myself to write, you know, just to write anything regardless of the content, just filling up blank space on a scrollable and hence potentially infinite page for the sake of a continued blogging output which may, let's admit that, too, be of fairly questionable value, like the question that came up in a blogmeet in London recently when Annie Mole asked what we thought about putting advertisements on our weblogs and whether we thought the dichotomy of making money through ads vs. being criticised for it by our readers for selling out and thus devaluing our weblogs was constituting some kind of dilemma, and I said, no, I don't think so, actually I don't think my weblog has any kind of "value" (whatever that may be) as it is, so I'm not really facing any kind of dilemma other than occasional spells of writer's block, and I refuse to be criticised even for that because there's not really anything I can do against it, so no, I don't think I'm in any kind of dilemma here.

Posted by Horst at 12:58 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2005

Martin Röll apparently has a beard now.

Posted by Horst at 12:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2005

And there I was, trying to find pictures of the Ancient Persians for the website of the new Oriental Studies library, and did an image search on the Internet, hoping to find something that I might be able to use in some way. The results were not exactly what I wanted, even though they were, in retrospect, kind of predictable.

Here is what I found on Google.
Even more interesting, this is what AllTheWeb had to offer.

This is the Internet for you.

Posted by Horst at 09:33 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

November 25, 2005

There are those rare days when for some unknown reason your mail, even your e-mail is significantly more interesting than on other days. Today is such a day, so I thought I'd let you participate.

There are those rumours that the worst you can do to a parcel with fragile contents is to put "Fragile" stickers on it, because, the rumours say, those parcels are treated with "special" care to make sure the contents are broken once they arrive. It is probably for a similar reason that placed the address sticker exactly where they did on this parcel containing a vinyl record:

Do not bend

Which is, right over the words "Please do not bend". I suppose that way at least no one got tempted.

Then there was this packet which upon closer inspection turned out to contain Volume One of "the new encyclopedia for Austria", which is apparently being issued now to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955 (no idea how an encyclopedia and military neutrality are connected, especially as our politicians are currently trying to get rid of the neutrality treaty anyway, but there you go).

Lexikon für Österreich

It seems that they are sending out Volume 1, which covers letters "A" to "Ausr" free of charge to, well, possibly everybody. I thought at first I got it because I am a member of the Club Ö1, a discount scheme associated with an Austrian radio station whose journalists apparently participated in the making of this encyclopedia, but then my parents called and told me they also got it, and they are not members. They also told me that they were going to purchase the whole set.

I wonder: is there money in sending out free first volumes of encyclopedias just to make people buy the other nineteen volumes? And how many people will buy them?

In my mailbox at work I found this spam e-mail which was highly unusual in that it was not for some kind of pharmaceutical or pseudo-pharmaceutical or explicit product connected with human sexuality. In fact, it was for Christmas trees made of some kind of textile material.

Tannen aus Textil

Pointless, yes, but somehow refreshing.

Then there was this DVD set from another Amazon parcel that came with the sad realization that a TV series that I don't particularly care about is apparently significantly more popular than the one that I kind of like (albeit for its trashiness). At any rate, usually the old series is used to advertise the new one, not vice versa.

From the Creators of

But the day was saved by the following e-mail, which announced that my visit at a wine tasting event last Sunday had resulted in an extremely pleasant and totally unexpected bonus:

You have won a prize

Looks like I won in the prize draw that evening, the one which had taken place after I had already left. Nice. I think the prize was one or several bottles of wine, but I didn't really care to ask for the details.

I'm very much looking forward to getting that parcel. I just hope they don't forget to put a "Fragile" sticker on it. Or perhaps they'd rather not. Or should they?

Posted by Horst at 06:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 30, 2005


I suppose you know the feeling: Sometimes you get mail, and you see something on the envelope, and immediately your imagination starts, and all kinds of associations pour out and arrange themselves until you have a story of sorts. The weird thing with me is how totally uncontrollable it is, and how apparently independent of the actual piece of mail.

Many postcards, for example, do nothing for me, not even if they have evocative pictures on the front and were sent by really good friends. On the other hand, the small white box that I collected from the post offce today was an entirely different matter. All I that happened was that I looked at the postage stamps, and literally a whole train of impressions (it actually was about trains, believe it or not) started going.

Not that I've ever been to New York. I also don't feel like going there. It still works.

Posted by Horst at 05:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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