Monday, September 05, 2016

Fame Effects and the Power of Prayer

Recently in the news there was a story of an Australian family that had a strange experience where the parents became paranoid and fled their home with their three adult children and drove off to 'escape'.
  It is still a mystery what caused them to become so fearful, but it made me think about the effects of fame on individuals, e.g Michael Jackson, because the family's name is Tromp.
  What if all the attention on Donald Trump, all that psychic energy (or prayer power), had somehow been misdirected to the Tromps?

  Pretty far out? Sure. But if the power of prayer, or the focused thoughts/desires of people on another person, can affect the healing process of a sick person, what does all the focused thoughts/desires on a famous person do to them?
  Why do so many famous people become insane? Is it the result of so much focused attention by millions of people? But why don't all famous people become insane?
  Makes me think...

Clouds 'Octopus' - Album Review

Gee, it has been awhile since my last post.

In 2014 I found a local music appreciation website called Mad Fa Music which was run by Lex Cran.
They were calling for music review submissions, so I contacted Lex and submitted my review of Clouds 'Octopus' album, which was accepted.
  The site has ended, but is still online, so I thought I should post it on my blog in case Lex eventually takes the site down.
  So here it is:

Clouds 'Octopus' Album Review 

Album Details

Recorded: at Periscope in the Autumn of 1992
Released: October 1992
Chart Position: Peaked at 24 on the ARIA charts; in the charts for 5 weeks (October - November 1992) 


1. 'See You're Leaving'  2:48    Phillis
2. 'Blood and Bone'        2:39    Phillis
3. 'Maryanne'                 3:39    Young
4. 'Apollo'                        2:12    Young
5. 'Misery'                      2:49    Phillis
6. 'Loud'                          2:34    Phillis
7. 'Say It'                        2:14    Young
8. '3 Minutes'                 3:55    Phillis/Young

The first time I heard Clouds was on Triple J in late 1991. It was a song from their debut album Penny Century (released in October 1991) called “Anthem”, which was the second single after “Hieronymous”.

I really liked “Anthem” for its thick fuzz guitars, the delicate 'jewellery box' tinkling in the verses (which give the song drama and mood) and the rockin' rhythm section. I also loved the vocals of the two women: Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young.

At only 2’12”, “Anthem” is short and sweet.

I bought Penny Century not long after that, and was happy to find it was a very good album, with interesting lyrics, great 'power pop' sounds and skilful arrangements. I was definitely a fan from then on.

I was into lots of music at the time, being 24 (The Stones Roses' self-titled album, Gish by Smashing Pumpkins, The Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray and Going Blank Again by Ride, to name a few), so I didn't get onto Octopus until early 1993 or so, but it quickly became a favourite of mine. To this day I still love each song, which is a great testament to the album.

Little things, like the title being Octopus and there being 8 songs, gave the album some charm. There was also some discussion at the time (with my friends anyhow), as to whether Octopus was a mini-­album. At only 22:57, it is on the short side, so you could call it a mini-­album...but I WILL NOT!

Another great thing about Octopus is the arrangement of the tracks. Each song starts fairly abruptly, but either ends on a slow fade to silence, or includes a short gap of silence, with some songs blending beautifully together.

Clouds' line­up, like many bands, changed a bit over the years. Octopus was made with Jodi Phillis on guitar and vocals, Patricia Young on bass guitar and vocals, along with David Easton on guitar and Stuart Eadie on drums.

The album opens with the slightly pissed off sounding “See You're Leaving”, about the mixed feelings of someone left behind in a romantic relationship. It begins with a wistful guitar phrase that winds its way down to the verse, sung by Jodi and accompanied by quiet but squeaky bass notes, which get more insistent as the bridge (“Got ready for this, baby”) builds to the chorus and the full band kicks in. As is the case with many Clouds songs, they use variation and dynamics to create an interesting sound. I think something that is overlooked with Clouds is that this band could rock. Just listen to the instrumental section in “See You're Leaving” from 2:10 on and the subsequent outro. It’s epic-sounding rock and then the counterpoint vocals (“Go on, go on, go on”) chime in, carrying the song through to its defiant ending.

“Blood and Bone” enters with a nice drum fill, and is driven along by hard drumming, bass and guitar locked into a repeating phrase, and nice exotic sitar­esque flourishes. Jodi sings lead, with Patricia adding backing vocals, which is always a beautiful combination. The drumming quickens and the song builds to what feels like a chorus, with Patricia taking the lead briefly (“But above all...”), but it quickly dissipates back to the verse. Next time around the build up does lead to a chorus and on to the instrumental section which brings the sitar­like guitar from earlier to the front. The break ends with a subtle tinkle, but is followed by a powerful rock section of great drum fills and power guitar that carries the chorus along to the outro, where the familiar riff brings the song to a decisive end.

Maryanne” has an interesting guitar sound: strumming that is fat and wonky, with a second clearer guitar joining it. The tempo is moderate with simple drumming. Patricia sings the lead vocals this time, harmonising with Jodi to create a beautiful chorale sound which has a hypnotic effect on me. Who is this mysterious Maryanne? Sometimes I imagine she's a cat...The song ends with a distorted wonky guitar phrase which feels like it wakes you from a dream.

“Apollo” to me is quite a pure sounding song. The instruments are clearly defined. The song begins with strummed guitar, fingered bass, and drums struck in unison five times, melding a distinctive sound, which leads to the verse and a faster tempo. It’s a great combination of rhythm guitar, bass guitar, snare drum, and second strummed guitar, with additional lead guitar at the bridge. The lead is sung by Patricia with subtle harmonies by Jodi. 

The chorus features castanets and “Apollo” sung in counterpoint by Jodi and a rare male vocal (Eadie). The instrumental break with great snare drumming by Eadie and expressive melodic lead guitar has a melancholic mood. The last verse leads to an interesting finale with the lyric “then you and I will become one”, with Jodi singing the backing (“dive into the sun”), then Patricia the lead, and then both singing together (thus becoming one). The song ends with an open strum that resonates and slowly fades, and the next track (“Misery”) clunks in.

“Misery” begins with a recording of a man talking to his dog (“here you go Roy”). This song is unusual in that the lead guitar plays pretty much continuously like a solo for the whole track. You could call it a riff based song, like The Beatles “Daytripper”. It’s a straight ahead rocker sung by Jodi, backed by Patricia. Toward the end of the song there's an homage to “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash: with the line “don't push me, 'cause I'll fall off the ledge” sung quietly in a rap style behind the music. As the ending approaches there's dog growling (credited to Henry, not Roy...), and after the song finishes, he barks loudly. It's a great ending.

“Loud” has a loping hypnotic fuzz guitar sound that makes me daydream. Sung by Jodi, backed by Patricia, the choruses in particular are a beautiful example of Clouds playing well together. The song ends on a resonate note that slowly fades, and the next track (“Say It”) buzzes in suddenly.

Part of the charm of Octopus is the linking of the songs by lyrics: “Loud” (“Say it, loud”) is followed by “Say It”(“Say it three times”) and then “3 Minutes” (“Three minutes at a time”). Intentional or not, I like it.

“Say It” was released as a single a month before Octopus came out in October 1992. It‘s similar to “Anthem” with its fuzzy distorted 'power' chord guitars, but faster and punchier, with a bit more dynamic tension (loud/quiet/loud), fast bass, and hard drumming. I love the mad guitar solo section in the middle of the song that ends with a few drum fills. Like “Anthem”, at only 2:14, it’s another great concise rock song. The lone guitar feedback that builds to the last few seconds of the song is a nice contrast to the tight and controlled playing of the rest of the track and flows into the last song (“3 Minutes”) seamlessly.

The closing track is an interesting song: a mix of reggae rhythms, rock guitar, ethereal “aaahhs”, and dub (delay) effects. It is quite intricate when you listen to all the different elements. The lyrics suggest the song is from the viewpoint of a pop song writer: “three minutes at a time to space I go to keep you happy”. The bridge is a work of art with climbing strummed chords and another guitar adding squeaky notes, the descending bass and the harder rhythm guitar, ending with the delicate guitar notes.

The chorus is sung by Eadie and Easton in a low voice, with Jodi following in a spoken style, an intriguing contrast that works well and adds to the calypso feel of the song. I love the instrumental solo: it's two guitars squealing with feedback. Very cool. The song ends with the lovely “aah aah aahs” of Patricia floating by, and an abrupt loop of an abrasive fuzzy guitar effect.

So that's Clouds' Octopus. There was definitely something special in the air in 1992.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Product Review - Logitech S125i

The Logitech S125i - Portable iPod Dock with Speakers

Logitech are well known (in Geekland), for their computer peripheral products such as, mice, keyboards, speakers, web cameras, remote controls,
and VOIP headsets.

On to the S125i, this is known as an iPod Dock or iPod Portable Speakers.

The fact is the S125i is a Portable iPod Dock with Speakers.
It's powered by AC or batteries, that's the Portable part.
The S125i will charge an iPod device, that's the Dock part.
And also play music through the speakers.
To connect non iPod devices there's a line-in port, a lead is not included.

I have a Sandisk Sansa MP3 player, the e260, so I use a lead to connect to the line-in port.

The S125i has 4 buttons:
a power on/off (with a green backlight when on),
a minus volume,
a plus volume, and
a bass boost.

There's 3 connections to the S125i:
an iPod dock,
a power socket, and
a line-in socket (3.5mm).

The flat base of the S125i has a compartment for the 4 AA batteries.

So, a nice simple design, well built, quality parts.

I bought the S125i for the portability, but also because of the AA batteries. Built-in batteries will discharge eventually and the device will be landfill. Bad.
I use rechargable 'Ready To Use' NiMH AA batteries.

I first noticed the Logitech S125i, in a local shopping centre, one of those places that is a carpark with some big electronic stores surrounding it.

It was $69 in one shop, and $68 in another. The recommended retail price is $69.95. I went home and researched it on the web a little.
The next time I was there it was $48 in one shop. I didn't check the rest. I thought next time I'm here will buy one.
When I returned, it had dropped from $48 to $29. I thought "they can't get much cheaper than that". So I bought one.
The next time, it was still $29 in the same shop, but also $30 in another. There was a 'price war' going on.
I checked again another time and prices were steady. I never saw it go lower than $29. I saved $40. Weird.

So, I started using the S125i and loved it. I could carry it around the house easily.
I was leaving home for a few months at least soon, so I wanted to be able to take it with me as my personal stereo.
I took it along on my trip and it was great.
But, suddenly it stopped. It powered itself off. The batteries were recently charged so I thought uh-oh.
I turned the S125i back on and it played on. Strange.
As the trip continued this happened more often until on my return I took it back to the shop and got a replacement.
The same thing happened again. What?
So I did some research on the web and found other cases of the same thing occuring but with other Logitech speakers.
The plot thickens.
Next I contacted Logitech Support. They said:

The S125i speaker has a power saving mode. This product will automatically turns itself off when there is no sound signal coming from the music source.
This feature is designed to conserve battery life.
As a workaround for this issue, I would suggest to turn the volume on your MP3 player on the highest level so that the speaker will easily detect the audio signal coming from it.

My Sansa e260 has two volume settings: Normal, and Loud. It was already set at Loud, so I put the player's volume to the maximum.
The S125i still turned itself off. At this point I gave up and just used the power lead all the time.
About four months later I did some more research on the web about the S125i and it's auto shutoff feature.
In a review for another Logitech speaker I noticed it mentioned that the auto shutoff feature was based on 2 minutes of less than 75% volume.
I was curious to see if the S125i did the same.
So I put the batteries in and set the Sansa e260 to Loud and maximum volume.
The S125i has not auto shut off since....So I must have made a mistake the first time I guess.
Maybe the speaker volume was set too low, even with the Sansa e260 at maximum.

So in the end, I am happy with these little speakers. The only downside is having to charge the Sansa e260 manually.
If you had an iPod you would be set. Plug it in, set it to high, and forget it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Buddhism Continued...

Well, the Tibetan Book of the Dead has lead me to The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.
This gives a pretty in depth look at Tibetan Buddhism and some practical tips on meditation but I wanted something a bit more on the practical side, so now I'm reading Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das, an American who journeyed to Nepal in the 60s to learn about Buddhism.
This is good so far (about a fifth read). It breaks down Buddhism into the fundamentals and explains them clearly. I did get two mantras from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying though:

Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum This is called the Padmasambhava mantra.

Padmasambhava is regarded as a Buddha by Tibetans and is known as Guru Rinpoche (Precious Master). In the 8th century B.C. he is said to brought Tantric Buddhism to Tibet from what is now Pakistan.

Om represents body, speech and mind. So we are using all three purposefully.
Ah represents the heart chakra or compassion. Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.
Vajra symbolises a thunderbolt (unstoppable force), a diamond (cuts through anything) and also active compassion.
Guru is a wise teacher.
Padma is the lotus flower which represents the enlightened mind because the lotus grows in muddy water but is stainless and so the enlightened mind is not influenced by the delusion, ignorance etc. it is surrounded by. It also represents wisdom.
Siddhis are paranormal powers attained through spiritual mastery and perfection. Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.

These 12 syllables are said to invoke the wisdom mind of Padmasambhava or Padmasambhava manifested as sound. They are a blessing said to be the equivalent of reciting the entire Buddha teachings.


Om Mani Padme Hum

Om represents body, speech and mind.
Mani means a jewel representing the altruistic intention to become enlightened for the benefit of humanity.
Padme means the lotus flower which represents wisdom of the enlightened mind.
Hum means inseparability or indivisibility.

These 6 syllables represent the intention to become enlightened by gaining wisdom.

My studies continue...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Quick Dinner

I was thinking whilst I made my regular dinner that maybe others could benefit from my method. I like to cook but I also like to eat without waiting too long. This meal takes about 15-20mins. This is for one person but I'm sure you could adapt it fairly easily.

Notes on ingredients:

My philosophy is to get the best ingredients for the best price. But I'm not travelling crosstown to get some cinnamon. I mostly use the supermarkets and occasionally a deli.

Ingham Chicken Selections, Sweet Thai Chilli, Chicken Breast
These are one of the few microwaveable chicken portions on the market (the other brand I tried was awful). They are not 100% chicken but are 88% chicken breast which is formed. They taste good and are ready in 4 mins. They are 19% protein, 8.4% fat and 7.1% carbs.
There is a honey mustard version which is OK but I prefer the chilli. You can't really taste chilli and it's not at all hot, it just has a nice flavour. I am not a fan of chicken breast as they are often bland and dry but these portions are tasty.

Heinz Lite Salad Cream
We have used this in my family for many years (although Mum used the full fat version). It tastes great and has a distinctive flavour. It is 18.9% fat, so I use it in small quantities.

Sacla Italia Classic Pesto Pasta Sauce
This has 36% basil and 5% parmesan and tastes great. It is 44.3% fat so I use it sparingly.

Always Fresh Fusions Black Olive Tapenade
I'm a recent devotee of olive tapenade. This is has 83% olives and is 18.5% fat. Small quantities.

Ayam Chilli Sauce - Hot
This is 25% chillies and as it is hot you only need a small amount for that chilli kick.

Always Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Premium Reserve
This is reasonablely priced, cold pressed (retains goodness) and made in Victoria, Australia. People say you shouldn't cook with extra virgin olive oil as its strong flavour is lost or its too expensive. I would agree generally but when you are cooking some garlic on low heat it adds flavour to the garlic. So there.

Sasso Balsamic Vinegar - Modena
Modena is the place where the best balsamic vinegar is made and this is one is good.

Mazzetti Balsum Wine Vinegar Dressing
This is a nice vinegar which contains grape must which adds depth of flavour. Also from Italy.

Firstly, don't ever buy oregano in a packet all chopped up. These are the leaves of the plant and have hardly any flavour. Go to a good italian deli and get a bunch of oregano which is the smaller flowers and they have a strong flavour, so you don't need much. I recently bought a bunch that comes packaged in plastic and it is very good. Previously I got a loose bunch from a local fruit and veg grocers. It takes a bit more work, as you have to remove the flowers from the stalks and branches and put them in a jar. It took me about 15 mins. It is totally worth it. It keeps indefinitely and depending on how much you use should last at least 6 months.

Bird's Eye Frozen Vegetables
I live alone so I don't buy fresh vegetables much as they don't last long in the fridge. I use frozen vegetables and am happy with the quality. This brand are made in Australia which is very important to me. Must support our farmers.

Ingham Chicken Selections - 1 piece (they vary between 110g to 130g)
Bird's Eye Broccoli Florets - 100g
Bird's Eye Julienne Carrots - 40g
Bird's Eye Baby Beans - 40g
Garlic clove - 1, minced or chopped finely.
Heinz Lite Salad Cream - 10g
Sacla Italia Classic Pesto - 10g or Always Fresh Fusions Black Olive Tapenade - 20g
Salt (sea)
Pepper (freshly ground black)
Always Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 teaspoon
Ayam Chilli Sauce Hot - 1 teaspoon (optional)

1. Microwave the vegetables in covered glass/ceramic dish for 3mins on high (650watt oven). I use a Pyrex glass dish with a loose fitting glass lid.

2. Whilst the vegetables are cooking, chop/mince the garlic.

3. Set aside vegetables. Microwave the chicken in a covered glass/ceramic dish for 2 mins on high. I use a bread plate covered with a desert/breakfast bowl.

4. Whilst the chicken is cooking, cut the broccoli florets and beans into smaller bite size pieces. This helps to speed the rest of the cooking, allows more sauce to cover them and is easier to eat!

5. Set aside the chicken. Microwave the vegetables for another 3 mins on high.

6. Whilst the vegetables are cooking, pour the olive oil into a medium sized solid based saucepan on low heat and put the garlic into the oil. Make sure the oil covers the garlic. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't fry and brown which makes garlic get bitter. The idea is to soften the garlic and release the flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste, the salt draws out moisture from the garlic helping to stop the garlic from burning.

7. Whilst the garlic is softening get your serving bowl (I use a deep sided round bowl as it helps in the mixing stage and saves having too many dishes to wash) and put in the salad cream and pesto or tapenade (and chilli sauce optional).

8. The vegetables should be finished cooking by now. Put them aside. Microwave the chicken for 1 min on high.

9. The garlic should be ready now. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on over the burner (if electric remove from element). Put some oregano into the pan, I use about half to one teaspoon, I use my hands and rub it between my fingers to release the oils and flavour as I put it in the pan. Mix the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and oil together and put in to the bowl with the salad cream etc. Mix it together. Add a half to 1 teaspoon of vinegar if you like. Vinegar has a lot of acetic acid which when taken with food slows the gastric acids from emptying the stomach which helps give a feeling of satiety and also acts a glycemic index lowerer as well. It is very good for you.

10. The chicken should have finished cooking by now. Remove the cover and microwave for 1 min on high. I have found that if the chicken is covered for the whole 4 mins it tends to sweat and get wet. I like it dry but moist so the last minute uncovered dries it out a little.

11. Put the vegetables into the hot pan, add salt and pepper to taste. Mix and cover. This absorbs some of the excess moisture and keeps the vegetables hot whilst finishing off the rest of the tasks.

12. The chicken should be ready now. Get a sharp vegetable/carving knife and slice the chicken so you have small bite size pieces. Put them into the pan with the vegetables and mix them together.

13. Put the chicken and vegetable mix into the serving bowl and mix the sauce through.

14. Voila! Eat a healthy meal that will stop you being hungry for awhile. For variations I alter between the pesto and the tapenade and the vinegars. Occasionally I add the chilli. I'm sure you could come up with some other flavours. Fresh basil, flavoured oils, lemon zest, lime juice etc.

If you give this meal a go I know you will enjoy it.

Rat Runs 'n' Speed Humps

Hoo-fuckin'-ray! I received a letter last week from my local council saying that they will be installing speed humps in my street and two other adjoining streets in the 'next few months'. I hope it happens. The council has known that my street is used as a so called 'short cut' or 'rat run' since 1991, that's when they did a traffic study but didn't implement any action. Although they did replace a stop sign with a roundabout at an intersection in the street which made it easier for vehicles who cut through.

They did a traffic count in 1999 which showed 563 westbound and 427 eastbound movements each day, that is 990 vehicles per day in a street that is so narrow that parking is only allowed on one side and when two cars meet each other its like a game of 'chicken'. I recently had my driver's side mirror destroyed by a vehicle passing too close to my parked car.

This is clear evidence that my local council doesn't carry out its function; that is to represent the residents and use its budget to make the area the best it can for those residents. The candidates put up at elections are not people put forward by the community in many cases but people belonging to political parties who want the responsibility and power to change things according to their beliefs. This is back to front. It is not democracy. Yes residents democratically elect councillors but the choice of candidates is not democratic if a political party puts forward a candidate for the benefit of the party first and the community second.

The speed humps were installed 3rd to 6th March in my street and two adjoining streets. It has been intersting to see the change in traffic. There has been a reduction in traffic but two months after the speed humps there are still drivers who won't go away. There are a few who try to drive as fast as they can in between humps and others who don't slow down enough at the hump and scrap their cars.
There are still the diehard rat runners who drive down my street and connecting streets to go from main road to main road. I think we need to change the streets to one way facing each other so cars cannot continue from one street to the next. Unless you make it virtually impossible to cut through streets drivers will use them.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Food Safari is Delicious

I have been watching Maeve O'Meara's Food Safari on SBS and it is the best food show I have ever seen. I have watched many food programs: Naked Chef, Food Lover's Guide, Surfing the Menu, Surprise Chef, Ready, Steady, Cook! and The Cook and the Chef to name a few. But this show is so good it makes me feel like I'm going to burst with I don't know what.

Maeve has gone to visit chefs who are passionate about food and got them to cook a few simple dishes from each of 13 culture's cuisines; Greek, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai to name a few. The ingredients are all shown and there's tips galore. Its so great to see people who love their culture, their culture's food and a host like Maeve who loves food and ingredients so much. I am totally spellbound watching this show.

If you like food you have to got to watch it. Its short and sweet, 30mins. from 7:30 Wednesday's. There's 4 more episodes to go. Lebanese is next. Even if you think I don't like that cuisine or I'll never cook that cuisine, just watch and see great cooks going at it with care and love. Its cool. if you want to check it out. Recipes are in text and video form.

Deja Vu and Prophetic Visions

I have this theory about deja vu (From French, already seen), although its probably deja vécu (already lived). Anyway, from my own experience and intuition about it, what I think happens is this: when you are asleep and in the dream state, time doesn't exist, the normal rules of awake don't apply. You therefore can experience possible futures and you don't usually remember these experiences, but occasionally you do. So the possible future you experienced becomes the actual future and when the moment arrives, and if you are in the right state of awareness, the memory resurfaces and voila! deja vu.

The same probably applies to prophetic dreams but I have found that prophetic dreams aren't as accurate as deja vecu, in that they seem a bit more unreal or symbolic.

I once had a dream that I was upstairs (at my real school at the time) in a dark classroom and that people were applauding me. When I recalled the dream I thought "that's strange, why would I be applauded in a dark classroom?". A few days later I had video class and we were got into small groups and took a video camera and made a movie in about 30mins. When we all were finished the teacher turned off half of the lights, so the room was dark but not pitch black, and then played each groups' film. Probably to give us all encouragement the teacher got everyone to clap after each movie. When ours finished we received our applause and it made an impression on me because I couldn't remember getting applauded before. As I was thinking that, I recalled the dream and put the two together and was amazed.

So from that and other prophetic experiences I know that it is possible to glimpse future events and that is how I came upon my theory of deja vu.

Another interesting experience I had involved following my intuition and a brief prophetic vision.

I was at Crossways Hare Krishna restaurant eating my meal when I suddenly thought about a particular moment in the Seinfeld TV sitcom when Kramer said something funny and I laughed. After lunch I didn't have anywhere to be so I walked to the corner of Collins St and stopped and just waited until I felt where I should go. I turned right and walked down to Elizabeth St and waited again. I headed back from where I'd come. I started walking east down Swanston Walk and thought I'll go to the gardens. When I was near the gardens I needed a pee and I knew there was a toilet down the hill in the gardens, so I headed down. As I walked down I saw a girl who was practising stick twirling where you spin one stick with the other. I thought as I walked past her "if she's still here when I come back I'll say hello". So I go for a pee and start walking back and I see she's still there. So I walk up and say hi and we start talking about her sticks and then she stops and we sit down and chat. She suddenly brings up Seinfeld and tells me about the scene I had laughed at when at Crossways. I told her about that and how I found myself in the gardens and we both were amazed. We kept talking and she told me about her plans to move north and wasn't sure about it. I think I sort of pepped her up with some positive reinforcement and typical Sagittarian optimism and she said she felt much better and it was just what she needed. I remarked maybe that's why I was meant to find her this day. Because I felt a lot better for the experience as well. I can't remember her name, I think she was an Aries or Gemini. I remember seeing her once when I was coming and she was going at Crossways and we just said hi. I wasn't disappointed, I thought it kind of felt right, like a magical moment we shared. God I sound like a hippie...

The Matrix & Maya

Whilst writing the last post, I mentioned the similarities of Maya (physical reality being an illusion) with the situation of the people in the film The Matrix. I thought I could delve into this topic a bit deeper.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

In the world of The Matrix (written by Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski) the people of earth have been enslaved by the intelligent machines they created. The machines draw their power from humans by maintaining The Matrix; a virtual reality of earth, which lets the machines connect the unconscious humans to the power system without their knowledge.

Thus, the Matrix is an artificial Maya. But in this Maya, to become liberated or self-realised is to escape the Matrix to 'reality' or the real Maya as opposed to the artificial Maya of the Matrix. Confused? That's the point. Maya is an illusion. Illusions are not real. If you believe the illusion to be real, you are confused. But for the sake of simplicity let's say the Matrix is Maya.

The following is a broad outline of the story with some interesting details.

In the film, Thomas Anderson is an office worker (in the Matrix) who is also Neo an infamous computer hacker who receives messages on his computer monitor about The Matrix. He is contacted by Morpheus who offers him the choice of seeing the Matrix or living in ignorance, he chooses truth. He wakes up in his pod connected to the vast power system and is rescued by Morpheus and his crew in a hovership. After recovering from the physical effects of being in the pod, Neo is enlightened about the truth of reality.

Morpheus believes Neo is 'the One', a special person who has the latent ability to transcend the limitations of the Matrix and defeat the machines. Because Morpheus and his crew are aware of the Matrix they can use their minds to defy the limits of the Matrix's reality to some extent and achieve super human feats.

As part of Neo's training he is asked to jump from one tall building to another, in a virtual reality similar to the Matrix, after witnessing Morpheus achieve this feat. If he believes it is possible, then he can do it. He leaps and plummets to the ground. This failure leads members of the crew to doubt that Neo is 'the One', but Morpheus is not wavered in his conviction.

When Neo has completed training he is taken by Morpheus and Trinity to see the Oracle, a psychic who has predicted an emergence of "the One" but tells Neo he is not 'the One'. On their way to their exit (a hacked telephone line) Neo notices a black cat walk past a doorway and then sees it walk past again. He mentions it to the others as 'de ja vu' and is told this is a glitch in the Matrix meaning the machines have changed the Matrix. They are ambushed by the Agents (powerful sentient computer programs in the guise of secret police), Morpheus is captured and most of the crew is eventually killed due to a betrayal by Cypher; a member of the crew who wants to return to ignorant bliss in the Matrix. Trinity and Neo escape the Agents and return to the hovership. They decide to return to the Matrix to rescue Morpheus who is being interrogated by the Agents, who believe he can lead them to Zion, the underground home of other 'freed' humans.

In an encounter with the Agents, Neo dodges their bullets by moving faster than they can hit him. Trinity tells him she has never seen anyone but the Agents move that fast before.
Later Neo is left alone on a deserted train station with an Agent. He is able to defeat the Agent by matching his speed and strength.

As Neo reaches an exit he is shot by an Agent multiple times in the chest and collapses. Back in the hovership his heart stops because if one injured or dies in the Matrix the belief is so strong that the real body responds in kind. Trinity who was told by the Oracle that she would fall in love with "the One" whispers to Neo that she loves him and kisses him. Neo's heart starts beating and back in the Matrix he recovers and stands up. He now sees the Matrix as it really is, streaming lines of computer code all around him. The Agents fire at Neo, and in slow motion, he sees the bullets heading towards him. He knows he is The One. He says 'no', puts up his hand and the bullets stop in mid air. Agent Smith attacks Neo but Neo effortlessly blocks all punches and kicks him through the air and down the corridor. Neo flies into Smith's body and it explodes into little pieces, with Neo emerging in his place. The other Agents flee in terror.

Neo reaches the exit and the crew are able to destroy the Sentinels (killer machines) that are attacking the hovership. The end.

I will now outline the points of The Matrix story that relate to the concepts such as Maya, religion, mysticism etc.:

Thomas 'Neo' Anderson living in ignorance believing in Maya as reality.

Morpheus (Roman God of dreams) as a God like figure bestowing liberation upon the ignorant.

Morpheus believing in the coming of a messiah or The One, who will rescue the 'chosen' people living in Zion (Zionism: Jewish desire to return to homeland).

Neo dying and being reborn due to the power of love and faith of Trinity.

Neo becoming self realised and liberated from Maya and able to perform superhuman feats.

Neo dying in virtual reality (artificial Maya) and reality because he believes bullets can kill him.
The Oracle seeing beyond time and into possible futures.

Neo's feeling of de ja vu after seeing the same event twice.

Neo's ability (once liberated) to see time as relative and Maya as illusion.

Plenty to think about there.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Void

It's funny how you lead yourself around to things.

I am currently reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead or Bardo Thodol which translates as Liberation Through Hearing in the Intermediate State. Next I will be reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.
How did I get here? I had recently read John Lennon in His Own Words and I recalled later that John Lennon had read The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, before writing Tomorrow Never Knows (working title: The Void), the last song on The Beatle's 1966 album Revolver.
I was searching my libraries' catalogue for something interesting to read when I recalled all this. So I looked it up.

It is very interesting, if you are interested in re-incarnation and other spiritual topics, as I am. It was written by Tibetan Buddhists so it relates to their beliefs but can be useful to anyone.
The basic idea is that when a person dies there is a 49 day process before re-incarnating and if the Bardo Thodol is read aloud, their spirit will hear it and realize where they are and in doing so, become liberated and not have to be re-incarnated. Apparently this is a rare event, as it takes a person with lifetimes of dedication and good merits to achieve liberation. Although a person in the Bardo may realise where they are they may still have to be re-incarnated but at least they can have some choice in the matter. I think this is the case but I am a complete novice so I may be wrong.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a like a preparation guide for the Bardo. Being a Buddhist would also be a preparation for the Bardo by default, as its tenets of compassion, mindfulness and right doing are skills needed in the Bardo.
From what I can gather from reading the Bardo Thodol is; when you are in the Bardo (although there are technically 3 Bardos) your mind manifests everything you encounter there. These can be good and bad experiences; memories, thoughts, karmas etc. But you think they are real and respond to them. That is the trap. By responding, you generate the conditions around you and so like a vicous circle you get carried along by your thoughts and feelings and sink lower and lower until you are attracted to a womb and become re-incarnated. Starting the whole cycle again.

Buddhists want to be liberated eventually so they practice their techniques in preparation for the Bardo or just the next life. By staying calm and mindful and being compassionate, in the Bardo, you will not be swept along by reacting to your manifestations and may become liberated by realising that everything is an illusion created by your mind. This is a very difficult thing to do. Anyone who has tried meditating by letting there thoughts flow by without getting carried along by them will know. It is also difficult not to believe everything in the physical world is an illusion (or Maya) whilst you are totally immersed in it. Just like the people in the film The Matrix (one of my favourites), who are actually in pods generating the power for the Matrix which is a virtual human world in which the inhabitants think is reality.

Personally I do not want to be re-incarnated, so I'm looking at ways to prevent it occurring, but if this is not possible, then at least to have some control over the matter.

I have also studied Krsna conciousness by reading The Science of Self Realisation, Chant and Be Happy, part of the Bhagavad Gita and some other Krsna books, and by talking to some devotees at Crossways Hare Krisna Restaurant in Melbourne. They believe that in this age of Kali Yuga (time of quarrel and contention) the best way to become liberated from re-incarnation (go back to Godhead or Krsna) is to chant the Hare Krisna mantra and when not chanting the mantra, to serve Krsna. They also believe in karma. This is a very basic overview obviously.

I met one guy at Crossways who is a follower of Krsna Consciousness but not a devotee who told me Buddism was created by Krisna for atheists so they can be liberated without believing in Krisna.

I will continue my studies.

Ship Ahoy!

© Copyright 2006 Egghead.

This looks like a ship to me. Although its really a bridge.


© Copyright 2006 Egghead.

This is a reworking of a photo of Elara one of the Suicide Girls ( I was thinking of putting it on a blue t-shirt, that's why the background is dark blue.

This girl reminds me of a girl I fell in love with once.

Francois Truffaut

Been getting back into good old, Francois Truffaut lately. I love french films. I'm not sure why. I might've been French in another life...

I recently saw Farenheit 451 but didn't think it was very good. It had some interesting parts but didn't really engage me. I watched the extras on the DVD and found out the problems they had making the film. It explained a lot.

Next I saw The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cent Coups), made in 1959, it was Francois Truffaut's first feature film and is the first of an autobiographical series of five films featuring the character Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud), as Francois Truffaut.
It was an interesting film, subtle in many ways, using images rather than dialogue to convey meaning. I found it funny and sad in equal measure. It has made me want to see the rest of the series.
Before selecting this movie I knew it was the first in a series so I wanted to respect the order even though I also wanted to watch a later film. I hoping it will be worth the effort.
I did recall seeing a film with Jean-Pierre Leaud many years ago, at first I thought it was Jules et Jim but now I think it might've been one in this series. I just remember Jean-Pierre Leaud having girl trouble...
The next film is Antoine et Collette made in 1962 as part of an anthology collection, L'Amour a vingt ans (Love at Twenty). As luck would have it, it is the only film in the series that my library doesn't have, so I will have to hunt it down.

Other Blogs

Lately I've been checking out two blogs I like:

Miscellany ( and

Paul Oslo Davis

Miscellany is the adventures of a late twenties female school teacher living in inner Melbourne. Sometimes it makes me snort or chortle.

Paul Oslo Davis is a Melbourne illustrator and cartoonist. He also makes me chortle or titter. Paul publishes Raised Eyebrows which is Melbourne's only 1 page A3 zine/comic. If you like his work you may be able to get him to send you a copy.
He also had 2 cartoons published in The Age newspaper over summer which you may have seen.

He draws in a squiggly line style, which I really like. His sense of humour is strange which is up my alley.

Check 'em out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Gallagher Bros.

© Copyright 2006 Egghead.

A portrait from a found photo. This was created in August 2004 and I still like it, so here it is.