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

September 2006 Archive


September 02, 2006

I am told that every Austrian has at least one mobile phone. So why is it that the shops of the mobile phone companies are always full of queues of people who look as if they wanted to buy a mobile phone? Is a mobile phone something like a disposable razor, a thing that you use for a while and then throw away and get a new one? Or, just how many does "at least one" mean?

Posted by Horst at 05:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


September 04, 2006

When the Stockholm metro was extended in the 1970s, there were plans to develop a stretch of land in an area called Kymlinge. However, while the station there was already being built, the municipality decided otherwise, so the construction workers moved out and the station was never completed. The abandoned station site at Kymlinge is now something of a ghost station.

When Vienna's metro line U1 was extended only very recently, there were plans to develop a stretch of land called Brachmühle near a street called Aderklaaer Strasse. However, while the station there was already being built, several things went wrong, and the project now seems to be delayed indefinitely. Still, work on the station went on, and it was opened with the rest of the line last Saturday. Trains are stopping there too, the only problem being that there is really no residential or commercial area of any importance nearby, so most of the time there is no-one on the platform, and no-one gets off or on the trains.

It's a kind of ghost station too, only somewhat spookier than Kymlinge, because Kymlinge is dark and the trains pass through it at 80kph, whereas at Aderklaaer Strasse the ghosts could actually board the the train if they wanted to.

Posted by Horst at 05:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)


September 05, 2006

There's this story that I want to write, about this guy who's in this rocky, off-again on-again relationship with this woman whom he really loves and who loves him too, but for some reason their relationship doesn't work out, and the story is about how they struggle on for seven years, until they finally decide to call it quits and to move on to other things with the realization that even if you really really love someone, it doesn't mean that your relationship will necessarily work out.

Yes, I'm aware that this sounds like a tedious, lengthy, painful read -- but hey, such is life.

The problem is that I want this story to have a happy ending, like the man finding somebody new, or maybe just seeing the future from a new perspective, or maybe merely something symbolic that's nothing but a starting point to give the reader some feeling of optimism; only I don't have the slightest idea how to do it and still make it seem realistic.

Posted by Horst at 11:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)


September 06, 2006

I agree with most people who write about blogs that there is true fun and value in the comments that you receive from your readers. Which is why every once in a while I go fishing for comments. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. It's not a big deal if it doesn't. Such is life.

Generally, I write three types of blog postings:

  • Those where I want my readers to get the point.
  • Those where I want my readers to miss the point.
  • Those which have no point at all.

Whenever I'm fishing for comments (which is not all the time), the most satisfying blog comments are of course those where my readers behave just as expected. Yes, it can be predictable and sometimes even dull, but it gives me a wonderful sense of power, and I'm the devious kind of person who enjoys things like that.

On the other hand, it is slightly irritating if comments are miles besides the point even though the point is blatantly obvious. And I've more than once doubted the human capacity for humour when people are trying really hard to get a deep message out of a nonsense posting that was never meant to be serious.

What's even worse though, is when readers happen to get a point which I've taken great care to hide. Fortunately, this happens only very rarely.

Posted by Horst at 06:35 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)


September 08, 2006

Since there are apparently not enough other things to do, I'll probably participate in this and this tomorrow.

If you're into music and poetry, you might just enjoy the Theseustempel event, as there will be plenty of both (and you can hear/see me read some new poems).

At any rate, I thought I'd let you know.

Posted by Horst at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


September 10, 2006

So, as previously announced I participated in the 3rd Vienna Photo Marathon yesterday. The whole exercise turned out to be somewhat futile, more about which below. I also learned a few probably not too flattering things about myself, more about which also below.

They said that it wasn't literally a marathon, only in the way that you were supposed to take 24 photographs within 12 hours. Yet the kilometre counter on my bicycle shows exactly 42.3 kilometres, so I suppose it was literally a marathon after all, at least as far as I and my itinerary were concerned.

You were supposed to wear this around your neck all the timeAt the start they gave the participants a list of 24 topics. There was no prescribed route, so you could go anywhere in Vienna to take the pictures, but you had to take them in the exact sequence that was on the list. Meaning that when the topic "My friends" came up, I could either phone some friends of mine to arrange a spontaneous meeting, ride home all across town to take a picture of Haldur and my potted plants, or ask a few complete strangers on the street to pose as friends. I'll let you guess what I did.

What I learned about myself: either I'm a cynic, or the topics on the list brought out the cynic in me. For example, the topic "On Public Transport" had me think about taking a picture of a crammed underground train, "Typically Viennese" made me want to take a picture of a dog turd on the street, "21st Century Technology" had me look out for particularly ugly mobile phone masts, and "Youth(s) in Vienna" made me want to go to a department store and take a picture of youths spending all afternoon playing at computer games at the playstations.

What I also learned about myself: Apparently I have no sense of humour. The hardest picture to take was "A Humorous Photograph". I ended up taking a picture of the photographs on display at the Kabarett Simpl, which were, after all, humorous photographs, sort of.

Oddly enough, "Tourists in Vienna" cost me about an hour. You'd think it'd be easier to find some photogenic tourists you can take pictures of. Not so.

Anyhow. I still won't win any of the prizes. Not the first prize, the trip to Barbados, not even the second one, which I'd like more than the first one, a Nikon digital SRL camera. Still, regardless of the quality of my photographs and those of the 900 other participants, I won't win anything for two very simple reasons:

  • In an apparent subconscious reflex, I noticed only after I had taken the photograph "Vienna Coffeehouse" that I was supposed to take the "Humorous Photograph" first. Meaning that the two pictures are in the wrong sequence, which is a reason for disqualification.
  • Even if they don't disqualify me for taking two pictures in the wrong order, they still won't give me a prize for the simple reason that at least three, possibly more, of my pictures were destroyed when the film got jammed in my camera as I rewound it. It looked as if it had been fully rewound, it felt as if it had been fully rewound, yet when I opened the camera to take out the film, I found that it hadn't been fully rewound. No idea how many photos got destroyed, but it turns out that the 42.3 kilometres and all the effort to take original, non-cynical pictures had all been in vain.

I also noticed that people with digital cameras were at an unfair advantage because they could just take as many pictures as they liked, in any order, and at the end simply delete the not-so-good ones and rearrange the rest so that they conformed to the list of topics. Also, they are quite obviously invulnerable to jamming films. There really should be two separate competitions.

MedalAnyway, I submitted the destroyed film and got a medal, like everybody else. A medal that looks rather cheap, I'm afraid to say. Haldur likes it though, so I let him wear it. I'll get my pictures on a CD in four weeks or so, and if some of them haven't been destroyed, I'll upload them to my Flickr site and let you know about it.

In the meantime, spending a whole day outdoors in perfect weather and a 42.3-kilometre bicycle ride aren't all that bad either, are they?

Posted by Horst at 11:26 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)


September 11, 2006

When one of the Austrian political parties recently put up posters on which their leading candidate for the upcoming elections looked remarkably diabolic, I thought we were in for an interesting campaign. Presenting their candidate with an arrogant, almost evil grin, combined with the slogan "Because he can do it", which in this context also sounded rather sinister, certainly seemed to be a novel concept.

Unfortunately it will be impossible to tell how it would have worked out, as the posters were replaced less than a week after they had first been put up. Whether the diabolic picture was chosen by accident, or whether it was a nasty prank by an advertising agency will remain a mystery, as will the question just how attractive a politician looking like the devil is to voters.

Posted by Horst at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


September 12, 2006

On Thursday 28 September, there will be a a lecture and subsequent panel discussion on "Blogs - Revolutionary Future of Journalism or Nothing New Under the Sun?" at the Main Reading Hall of the Vienna University Library.

Speakers include David Carlson, Cox/Palm Beach Post Professor of New Media Journalism, University of Florida; Garrett Graff, editor-at-large of Washingtonian magazine, and Horst Prillinger, librarian at Vienna University library. The panel will be moderated by Andreas Unterberger, editor-in-chief of the Wiener Zeitung.

Entry is free, but if you want to come, please send a brief e-mail to events.ub@univie.ac.at.

Blogs - Revolutionary Future of Journalism or Nothing New Under the Sun? Thursday 28 September 2006, 7:00pm, Vienna University Library, Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1, A-1010 Wien. Entry is free, but if you want to come, please send a brief e-mail to events.ub@univie.ac.at. Further information: http://www.ub.univie.ac.at/events/.

N.B.: If you want to be notified of future events at which I will be appearing (mostly poetry readings, performances, DJ dates, etc.), you can send me an e-mail by clicking here, and I'll put you on my mailing list.

Posted by Horst at 04:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


September 14, 2006

The e-mails I am receiving at work are getting more and more absurd every day. It is now fairly obvious that an increasing number of people are losing their grip on reality. Today I reached the point where it started getting to me, and I suddenly had the profound feeling that I was caught in an absurdist play, one that was too laughable to even take it seriously. The question that posed itself was: were the people around me were turning into something like rhinoceroses, or should I simply be glad that there wasn't a tree anywhere nearby?

Posted by Horst at 10:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


September 15, 2006

Something in my office emanates a smell that is remarkably similar to the very smell which used to be present in the trains and stations of the old Vienna metro. I have not yet found out where it comes from, but, as smells do, it brings up strong childhood memories.

When I was a child, my parents and I would travel to Vienna at least once a year, usually during the summer. The three things I seem to remember most vividly from the time when I was around four years old are:

  • the smell of the old Vienna metro, especially in Westbahnhof station
  • some absurd pieces of concrete furniture in the Donaupark
  • the Quisisana restaurant on Mariahilferstrasse

The latter was particularly intriguing, with it being half a modern espresso, and half a self-service restaurant with one wall consisting entirely of vending machines. It closed around 1972. I have been trying to find pictures of the Quisisana's interior for about a year now, but so far without success. In fact it was only last year that I was able to confirm that it even existed.

The old metro station at Westbahnhof used to be my second impression of the city, right after the railway station itself. Back then it was the only metro station entirely underground, and the gloomy lighting and the trains coming out of the tunnels were particularly fascinating. Plus, because it was underground, the metro smell was especially strong there. It was a rather technical smell -- possibly a combination of the tar they used to impregnate the sleepers and some lubricating oil for the trains' motors or bogies -- but a fairly addictive one. It disappeared with the old metro trains around 1980, and when they closed the old Westbahnhof station about ten years later, even the last faint notion of it was gone forever.

As for the strange concrete furniture in the Donaupark, I have no idea if it still exists or not. Actually, I couldn't care less, so it's probably still there.

If anyone knows about or even owns photos of the interior of the Quisisana automat restaurant, please drop me a note.

Posted by Horst at 06:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


September 18, 2006

My first non-pedestrian-induced bicycle accident since about 1984. A strong reminder not to apply the brakes, not even cautiously, when crossing wet tramway rails.

My left hand hurts.

Posted by Horst at 08:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


September 20, 2006

At some point in the past, I noticed how computer magazines always seem to be published one month in advance. Like the October issue is published on the 3rd of September.

Last week I wanted to buy a jacket for the current weather, which is not really so warm that you can go out in the evening without a jacket, but warm enough that you'd really feel hot in anything tht's not really thin.

It turns out that it's not just impossible to buy this month's computer magazine, it's also impossible to buy a jacket which is adequate for the current weather. All they sell now,in mid-September, is thick, warm winter jackets for temperatures below zero. The shop assistant told me that if I wanted a thin jacket I should have come in July. I told her that in July it had been so hot that I certainly hadn't needed any jacket.

Which reminded me that I wanted to buy sandals during the summer last year and was told I should have come and bought them in March or April, because now they were stocking the sturdy shoes for the wet autumn weather.

It doesn't seem to make any sense. It just doesn't.

Something that makes sense, even though it is really unrelated: yesterday, I received notice that a friend of mine had died a few days ago. Let me assure you that now is the perfect season to stop smoking.

Posted by Horst at 08:36 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


September 24, 2006

The town of Villach is host to an amazing number of tourists. I'm not particularly sure why, but the whole town was full of them last Saturday. Most of them seemed confused and lost as if they were in the wrong town, so maybe they were; or perhaps it just looked that way because they were only barely able to find their way through the thousands of leaflets, balloons and cuddly toys handed out by members of five political parties, all of which were still in desperate search for voters for next Sunday (but apparently not desperate enough not to leave at 12 noon sharp). I suppose the sheer number of tourists explains why a coffee and a Sachertorte are more expensive in Villach than they are in Vienna, which I hadn't really thought possible.

The town of Villach also has two Waldfriedhöfe (forest cemeteries), and if it hadn't been for a chain of minor coincidences, I would not have found out about the second one and thus would almost have ended up at the wrong one, missing my friend's funeral.

At the funeral I noticed that apparently it doesn't really matter how well you knew a person; you may still find that you grieve for them more than you thought you would, simply because they made a big enough impression on you at some point. It's also good to see that people who know somebody well enough can make sure that they leave in the same style and with the same dignity in which they lived. It's interesting to see who came and who didn't come, especially if as a visitor you find that there's nobody there that you know.

In moments like these I usually go all mushy and begin to wonder who will show up at my funeral, what they will say, what they think my style was. I wonder if it will matter, to me, or to someone else. I wonder if I should make arrangements about the script and the soundtrack, but I'm afraid there's not really a lot I can do about the audience.

Posted by Horst at 11:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


September 25, 2006

Zit

Why is it that whenever I meet an attractive woman I have a huge zit somewhere on my face? Like today, on my lower lip, which is not just slightly disgusting, but also rather painful?

This is never going to work out, ever.

Posted by Horst at 09:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


September 27, 2006

I apologize for the trivial content on this weblog.

That is, with the VU library event on weblogs and BlogTalk coming up, and with me being on the panel of both events and being linked to from both events' official sites, there has been a minor spike (ok, more of a bump) of visitors to my website, who I guess expected some sort of wisdom from a man who is supposedly an expert on weblogs.

Instead you got an entry on a zit on my lower lip. I am truly sorry about that. The zit still hurts by the way, and doesn't respond to medical treatment, even though the attractive woman mentioned below is currently nowhere in sight.

In the context of weblogs and journalism, I must admit that me having a zit on my lower lip is not exactly big news, especially as I happen to get a zit somewhere on my face whenever I eat pork (which is why I stopped eating pork almost completely, which in turn is something that you're most likely not interested in at all). It is, however, a typical example of the kind of news that you will invariably find in most weblogs: highly personal, highly subjective, fairly emotional, immediate, and also somewhat irrelevant. That way weblogs do, however, only reflect the general development of news coverage in other mass media, albeit in a more extreme fashion.

In the context of weblogs and social effects, me having a zit on my lower lip might count as me sharing an intimate moment with you, even though it is probably the kind of intimate moment that you could well do without. But then again, I find that oddly enough people do seem to connect with the zit on my lower lip, so this might give me some justification in writing about things like that. On the other hand, on other blogs readers also seem to connect with cat vomit, and I find that a bit disturbing. Either way, it shows that thanks to the much-quoted "New Media Revolution", zits are no longer confined to the bathroom mirror. They can actually be part of a public performance, even though it is open to debate to what extent zits are in good taste or not.

For more wisdom on zits, cat vomit and weblogs, come to the blogging event at Vienna University Library tomorrow. The event takes place in the main reading room and starts at 7:00pm.

Posted by Horst at 07:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


September 28, 2006

When we were talking after tonight's presentation, one of my colleagues remarked that the presentation was good, but now she could barely understand me because I was speaking so fast.

I suppose that's how adrenaline works.

Posted by Horst at 11:56 PM | Comments (7)



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