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

January 2006 Archive

January 01, 2006

Welcome to 2006. Let's all hope for the best.

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January 09, 2006

There's an anti-pigeon net outside right in front of my office window, to make sure the building won't crumble prematurely thanks to the corrosive power of pigeon excrement. At the moment, the sun seems to be melting some of the snow on the roof, and there is a trickle of water running down one -- just one -- of the net's vertical lines. It could make you wonder about all sorts of things. Just watching that net is a brief moment of Zen, I suppose.

In preparation for last Friday's poetry reading, I wrote two of the most depressing poems I've ever written. I had't intended them to be depressing; they just happened that way. I managed to add a hopeful twist to one of them; the other one I didn't read that night.

Every time I walk across Vienna's Stephansplatz, or Rome's Piazza Navona, or any other touristy spot in Europe, I wonder about the purpose of the pantomimes standing there in large numbers and posing as living statues. The evolutionary purpose, that is. I strongly believe that the reason for every human character trait and behavioural pattern can be found in some evolutionary purpose, but the only thing I can come up with for why someone would stand somewhere in silly clothing and not move for hours is to act as a live bait and attract a sabre tooth tiger so that the other cavemen could kill it. Which means that pantomimes might once have played a vital role in the survival of the human species.

I suppose I should be thankful that they exist, but I still find myself asking myself if there's really any money in this nowadays.

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January 11, 2006

I used to be able to just write. Of my early poems and short stories, there is always only just one version. I never revised. I never saw the need to revise. The stories or poems just flowed out of the pen, and they seemed to be perfect the way they flowed out.

These days I revise and rewrite all the time. With most things (including weblog entries) I go through at least five rewrites. It seems impossible to get something out right the first time. I wonder how I did it back then.

Still, I just went through some of my old poems and found that most of them weren't really very good. I think I'm writing better stuff these days, though my opinion on that might change in 15 years from now.

I checked whether the old poems would be better with a few revisions or rewrites, but I found that I just couldn't revise or rewrite them. They seem to refuse any changes. They are just "as is". Any change seems to change the meaning, or make them even worse. They're perfect in the literal meaning of the word "perfect": per being Latin for "through", "from beginning to end", and facere meaning "to make". In other word, all work on them has been done, nothing more can be added; they're finished.

They're pretty bad, but also perfect. I wonder if this can serve as some kind of parable.

Posted by Horst at 07:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2006

Up until ten years or so ago, I used to be afraid of visits to the dentist. These days, that doesn't really scare me a lot anymore. What scares me now are the dentist bills.

If teeth could sue people, I think some of mine would have sued me several times. As a child, I would have lost a number of lawsuits for gross negligence, and following that, for grievous bodily harm. Lately, my 5th lower tooth on the right would have won at least three lawsuits for libel. That's because during the past two years I have repeatedly claimed in the presence of my dentists that there must be something wrong with said 5th tooth because it causes some strange kind of pain. Oddly enough, on each occasion, it was actually the 6th tooth that had the problem.

And then are those strange visits to the dentist when you expect to get your 5th lower tooth fixed and the dentist says that the real problem are the fillings on the 4th and 5th upper tooth on the same side.

And the really weird thing is not just that I never noticed there was anything wrong with these teeth, but that I left the dentist's surgery with a strange taste of garlic pizza in my mouth, even though I haven't eaten garlic pizza in ages. Must be from something he did in my mouth.

And even though I haven't had even the slightest craving for a garlic pizza in years, I want one right now.

Posted by Horst at 04:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 19, 2006

They say if you want to become a good writer, write. Write a lot. They say it's important to get into the habit of writing. Every day if possible. Like, keep a journal. Or start a weblog. They say it doesn't really matter what you write about as long as you just write something on a regular basis.

No matter if you think it's interesting or not. No matter if anybody else thinks it's interesting or not. After all, you're writing to get the practice. It's not as if anybody is ever going to read what you're writing. They'll be reading the good stuff, the official stuff, the stuff you'll be writing and publishing once you have enough practice from writing something on a daily basis.


Posted by Horst at 06:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2006

And the chicken curry that I cooked yesterday tasted too strongly of chicken.

And I didn't get that job that I wanted.

And I'm planning to turn The Aardvark Speaks into the dullest blog on the planet.

Other than that everything is fine.

Posted by Horst at 07:36 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2006

After more than six months' silence, The Aardvark Cooks again: Fish with okra. An original recipe of mine that I improvised on the spot last Friday and that turned out to be really yummy. Enjoy.

Posted by Horst at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 24, 2006

I mean, -15°C (5°F)? Bah! I've had it colder than this. In fact, last week seems to have felt colder when the thermometer said it was actually ten degrees warmer. Must be because the air was a lot more humid then, so even though it's colder now it feels more agreeable.

It's during temperatures like this that it comes in handy that I spent a brief time in the army many, many years ago. That's because they let you keep your three pairs of warm army socks and two pairs of long underpants, and using both is a vital strategy for dealing with the current temperatures. Unfortunately they don't let you keep the warm army pullover, which is a pity, because it's really really warm. In fact it's so warm that it used to be the most frequently "lost" piece of equipment; in fact it was "lost" so often that they started charging people ridiculous amounts of money for "losing" it -- about three times as much as a similar pullover costs at an army surplus store.

For some reason the stuff you get at surplus stores is hardly ever like the real thing. I now believe it's not really surplus, but actually look-alike material. Like my original army socks survived my service and thirteen winters, whereas any replacement socks bought elsewhere looked identically, but gave up after about four or five winters.

As I did not "lose" my pullover, it took me five years to find a pullover as warm as the real thing (matters were complicated somewhat by the fact that I wanted a navy blue one rather than an army green one), but since then I have been able to exude a calm smile and feel warm while everybody else at the tram stop is obviously freezing. It's not really that cold; it all depends on what you wear.

Unfortunately, the pullover is already beginning to shed lint, so I doubt that it will survive thirteen winters, and it also has one of the defining, but somewhat annoying qualities of army pullovers: it turns the wearer into a living power station. 100% acrylic may be warm, and it dries within a few hours, but it also generates a lot of static electricity.

Basically, I am currently a high voltage power outlet. Whenever I touch a metal object, or another person for that matter, there is a little electric discharge. Not really dangerous, but just unpleasant enough to make you stop wanting to touch metal objects and other people. I've already become slightly uneasy about touching the metal shelves at work because I'd get a little electric shock whenever I did. I feel like I'm turning into one of Pavlov's dogs. It can only be a matter of time until I also feel uneasy about the proximity of other people.

At -15°C I guess I'd rather be warm than sociable, but I hope it gets warmer before I am fully conditioned.

At least the plumbers were able to thaw the water mains in the house. They were working on it for about ten hours yesterday. I suppose it really was that cold after all.

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January 25, 2006

I think it's time to start looking for a new job.

I know I've said this a couple of times before, but this time I'm serious.

Posted by Horst at 05:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 30, 2006

I've been wanting to write about this for a while now, but someone else beat me to it. Duh. In a recent posting on his weblog, Mr deedee revealed my obsession with the music of Chet Baker*, especially the post-1977 recordings, which are ignored by most (probably because they lack the commercial backing of a big record company), but which I consider to be his best.

One of the problems with Baker's recordings is that there are no good compilation records that serve a a good introduction; this is mostly due to the fact that Baker recorded for a myriad of record labels, some fairly obscure, and assembling a compilation requires dealing with more copyright owners than a human brain can deal with.

EMI has been issuing a vast number of compilations through its Capitol, Pacific Jazz and World Pacific labels (like this and this), but these only chronicle the time when Baker was a superstar, 1953 to 1956, and these are just the starting point of his musical development. There is one decent compilation of the Riverside years 1958-1959, and a few by PolyGram/Universal for some mid-1950s and mid-1960s recordings, but the recordings from 1977 to 1988 have not been compiled at all.

This means that to get acquainted with his music, you have to dive into the regular releases. The problem is that there are a myriad of releases, and the fact that Baker was a heroin addict for over 30 years means that he made a lot of pretty bad records simply to get money for drugs.

At the behest of Mr deedee, I have therefore compiled a list of twenty Chet Baker albums that I consider money well spent. This list necessarily reflects my own personal taste and may include albums that you don't like. My suggestion is that you start with an album whose description interests you and then look at albums from the same or a different period, depending on whether you liked it or not.

Essential Chet Baker - click here to go to the list.
To order any of these records from, click here.

*) As of 30 January 2006, the Wikipedia entry contains one error -- can you spot it?

Posted by Horst at 07:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

January 31, 2006

DJ hprill and DJ deedee will be playing music at Cafe Frame, Jaegerstrasse 28 on Saturday 4 February starting around 9pm
(artwork by deedee)

Posted by Horst at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

As usual on the first Friday every month, I will read a few of my poems as part of the Labyrinth Poetry Open Mic on Friday 3 February at Café Kafka, Capistrangasse 8, 1060 Wien. The event starts around 8:30pm. Come and bring a friend.

Posted by Horst at 03:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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