Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sad Song

A verse written August 9, 2007. The last one I ever wrote. Inspired by 'Hey Jude' by los beatles. Posted cos I am too lazy to write an article.

He had overheard that there was hope in words
His sad song will last long in broken verse
So he wrote his verb just to show his worth
The sad song had passed on, or is focus blurred
He hears sober slurs. Have the holes recurred?
The sad song is back on. The notes are worse
As they revolt and curse. He holds his nerve
The sad song has passed on, or is focus blurred
No emotions hurt because they won't occur
The sad song has latched on, he slows in turn
but his potions worked, he awoke, he stirred
The sad song has passed on, or is focus blurred
No! he knows his worth, it's in his spoken word
The sad song will pass on when the poet's heard

- Eden (after re-reading this)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why South Park is Awesome

It's now 13 seasons in and has only become a better show. Many shows stagnate and run out of ideas after a couple of seasons, but South Park continues to improve. I've loved South Park since it first came out, I think I was about 11 years old, it was pretty funny to me then but looking back there was so much I was missing out on. It's the same deal with The Simpsons, much better when you're older.

South Park is an amazingly current social critic, the episodes are produced each week in their entirely. Not the way Family Guy or The Simpsons is made, where each episode takes a total of approximately 6 months to create. With the ability to produce episodes so fast (I believe they even produced an episode in a day) this also allows the show to be fresh. If you look through an episode list you'll see the names of episodes that make fun of all sorts of current fads and fashions - Make Love Not Warcraft, The Passion of the Jew, Chinpokomon to name but a few.

The characters are brilliant, Cartman being an obvious favourite, he's extremely selfish, conniving and often cruel. Stan and Kyle are great a contrast to Cartman, level headed and sympathetic to others yet still retaining the qualities of the children they really are (see - Good Times With Weapons). The cast of characters extends far beyond the main four, a few favourites of mine are Butters, Randy Marsh and Mr Garrison.

Something else I enjoy but isn't really funny is at the end of a lot of the episodes there is a message or moral, in amongst all the laughs there is actually something you can take from the show. Watch the episode - With Apologies to Jesse Jackson, and you'll see what I mean. Fortunately this isn't something that's the main focus of the show, it's just a little something that might only take 30 seconds then your back to the laughs, you can take it or leave it.

At the end of this current season there will be a total of 195 episodes and it's still Comedy Central's highest rated show each week. South Park is basically the reason why Comedy Central is what it is today. I believe South Park is the best animated comedy series ever made. There is a lot of fuss over The Simpsons, and rightfully so, it was a great show for many seasons and paved the way for shows like South Park. But for South Park to still be going strong for as long as it has, for there to be no end in site, that is truly something awesome.

- Dogman

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hypocrisy of a Full-Time Procrastinator

There are people out there that I call full-time procrastinators, and I used to be one of them. And the procrastination I refer to is the type involving one's career trajectory. I used to procrastinate to some extent, mainly because of fear. But if someone asked me at the time why I procrastinate, I would tell them with a look of self-disapproval that it was because of laziness. And I believed myself, because, really, what reason is it other than laziness that you're not doing something that requires work.

And as you guys know, I recently got a band together and have been getting so much done that it's close to overwhelming to think about. But this wasn't just a case of getting off my ass, it was a deep rooted feeling of, "is this going to be worth it if i put the effort in."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is clearly fear. You see, the reason it wasn't a feeling that I could easily grasp was because even the thought of myself failing at music was scary. The easiest and hardest person to avoid is yourself.

Whether not being able to actually form of a band of people, or the later music industry success not panning out, herein lies the biggest fear: if I didn't pursue it head on, I didn't have to face myself as the one responsible for the failure.

We seem to live in a world where it is rare for someone to be held accountable and not have a problem with it. What if you try something and you end up having a great time, well you would sure hold yourself accountable then!! I believe if you're willing to take responsibility for the good, you should also hold responsibility for the bad.

Now for the hypocrisy. A man will put up with working a job he dislikes because he is earning money. But the idea of working on a career where the benefits are tenfold and of an inner spiritual nature seems not worth it. Something seems off.

- Lee (while humming one of his own songs)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roy Story III

Roy Boys...Chilling in the creek

Roy Story I & II

Roy Story III

This rain is fucked!

I was standing under the shelter of the café. I had finished my breakfast, two scrambled eggs as always, and I was tying up the wet laces of my wet boots as my feet were going wrinkly in my wet socks. “You ready, captain?!” Ed said to me with a smile of anticipation on his face.
“This rain is fucked!” I replied despondently.

The day had begun for me sometime in the very early morning hours. The rain had started up and was relentless. Every heavy drop adding its own contribution to the grand cacophony resonating from the hostel roof. I woke up on several occasions throughout the night, irritated but thankful that I still had time to sleep. Eventually it was the evil of my alarm, set for 7:45, that woke me up. Then again at 7:55. I unloaded a different kind of evil in the bathroom, before packing my bag with the water logged clothes. They never had a chance of drying overnight. I think they probably got wetter.

I put in my earphones and set out for the park. A five minute walk in the rain, letting the energy of Zeppelin’s Black Dog wake up my brain and then flow into the sore bones and muscles. I’ve never been a morning person and I was used to the reception I got each time I arrived at the cafe, everybody commenting on how much I looked like shit. But this time it was different, people were giving me their condolences, wishing me luck, asking if I was even going to even walk today in this rain. Only Ed saw the challenge of the weather as something positive, “Captain!” he said again, “Captain Eden!” That was the thing, today was the first day without Mike. He was getting a day off and me and Ed were training a new guy, Adam, to work with Roy. I was the most experienced now. The captain.

After asking Beni, the volunteer coordinator, if sending us out in this onslaught of rain complied with OH&S regulations (I highly doubt they existed in corrupt mess that is Bolivia’s economy), I accepted my fate and we headed off. Up at the cage I fed Roy his daily strands of long grass while Ed taught Adam some of the basics. I could sense Roy was irritated that there was a new person around and, even more so, that Mike wasn’t. But he had one thing to be cheery about. While rain spells danger and potential injury to me, it was all fun and games for Roy. On the hot days he needs more time to stop and cool down, but when the weather is cool he can just keep going. It was definitely going to be an enjoyable day for him and he knew it.

Adam received the usual shock of the uphill sprint Roy does at the beginning of each run. But he got another shock and so did Ed and I. Roy put on an unexpected sprint to fully stretch out his leash, then he turned and bypassed me as I tried to catch up to him and he put a heavy shoulder charge on Ed. Adam went to pull him away so he attacked Adam and then me as well. It was nothing serious, though. Maybe he was frustrated that Mike wasn’t around or just showing us what he can do.

The rest of the run actually went smoothly despite my earlier fears. My knees warmed up after 10-15 minutes and the session became quite fun. I could now do the trails with confidence and enjoy the physical demands like an invigorating jog. So while my once dry undies took the time to soak in the rainwater from my pants, I soaked in the cool atmosphere and jungle surroundings. I could admire Roy’s intimidating march, with his huge paws drawing power from the mass of muscle in his shoulders. When he stopped to scent some leaves or branches I would take a relaxing deep breath through my nostrils, smiling at the focused, yet curious, look on his face. I also had time to see Adam’s face: a growing look of distress as the trail wore on. The same expression I once had.

Lunch was fun. Had the meal of the day and two more eggs. I must have eaten over one hundred eggs in my month long stay. The rain had eased and Mike was there at the café to hear the stories from me and Ed. Everything was peachy as we prepared for the afternoon session. Adam was waiting up at the cage. He had a hint of doom in his face but we reassured him and headed off on the wet trail once more.

We reached the hill with the long runner. The same place where Roy took his shit, and nearly my head, only days earlier. Ed was front man and I was keen to stay right behind him in case Roy tried the same thing and jumped him at the bottom. Roy didn’t need to shit but the slippery mud meant that Ed would need a perfect descent to keep up. Despite all the focus being on Roy and Ed at the top of the hill, it was my descent that would be the one to remember.

Roy started off quick and Ed kept up. I was going OK for the first few seconds, but then I slipped and landed on my ass. In my haste to regain my footing I overcompensated and overbalanced, my weight propelling me forwards. My feet were gone from under me. In what must have been less than a second, I saw the trunk of a tree, about 8 inches in diameter, approaching fast. All my reflexes were calling for my hands to cover my face and take the brunt of the impact but they were nowhere to be found.


Am I unconscious?

The impact was absorbed 100% by my face. I remember my first thought vividly and my second one as well:
I guess I’m not unconscious if I can ask myself if I am unconscious.

“Oh shit man!” I heard Adam say from behind me, “Are you alright?” I got back to my feet unsure if I would even be able to stand, but I had to make sure Ed was OK. Luckily he could look after himself and had stayed in touch with Roy to the bottom. As I continued down to the bottom of the hill I could see something dropping in front of my eye. I put my hand out to catch whatever it was and saw the red red krovvy splash on my hand and arm. Drip Drip. Drip. Coming down at a consistent pace. Quicker than a drop per second.

Roy seemed to know something was up and took a break in a pond not too much farther on. Ed, being a vet, examined that gash in my head. It was just below my right eyebrow, in line with the eye socket. Roy looked calm, his deep, piercing eyes displaying a vague interest as he watched Ed get a closer look. “That’s a great cut man,” he explained, “It’s deep but it’s clean. You’re lucky you didn’t fuck up your eye.” Roy had lost interest now, instead sussing out the potential of his new toy Adam. “Just wash it with some water,” Ed finished. I trusted his opinion. I mean, why shouldn’t I? He’s a vet.

We were only 20 minutes into the trail, so instead of going down to the clinic we continued on for an hour or so to finish the Megalong. It took another half hour to get Roy back in his cage. He was fed and happy with his exploits for the day, even if Mike wasn’t there. The blood was now dried up in my eyelashes, though I still couldn’t feel any pain. I went into the clinic (animal clinic, mind you) and got my cut cleaned up by one of the vets. This is where the pain started. She scolded me for waiting over an hour before getting it treated. She also reminded me that I was lucky not to have any damage to my vision.

Ed came in to apply the stitches. “That’s a great cut!” he said again. “It must be almost an inch deep!” My eye was swelling, which exaggerated the depth of the cut but an inch seemed like a lot. Now I too was thinking how lucky I was not to have damaged my eye. Ed applied two internal stitches and four external ones. The anaesthetic was weaker for the external stitches, and that hurt more than the impact itself. The adrenalin had died out and my eye was quickly swelling. I got some antibiotics from the clinic, and anti-inflammatory pills from the local farmacia. It was fun showing off my battle wounds, telling the story in the most epic way possible, but it came at a cost. I couldn’t walk Roy again for three days.


I felt betrayed by fate. Well, actually, I felt great being able to sleep in til 10am and take a relaxed walk to breakfast and listen to The Arcade Fire in peace. But overall I couldn’t take the irony. I finally reached the point where doing the trails was fun and exciting and my fitness was reaching all time highs. Then I trip a smash my face into a tree and can’t visit my favourite puma for three days.

I decided to use the spare time to get some things taken care of. First off I started catching up on my diary, writing down brief details so that this story could be so wonderfully recounted for you. Then I put in a half assed effort to clean my clothes. But it takes more than a two minute scrub with a shitty bar of soap to extract the sweat and dirt that had been ingrained into the material. I also had to try sort out my passport. I was unsure if I could even get over the Argentine border after the damage the monkey did to it. I ended up doing nothing and just taking a chance, luckily los Argentinos were lenient.

Then there was my final order of business, which should probably have been the first. I was talking to a fellow volunteer and she taught me the wonders of Skype. She let me use her account and I called my mum for the first time since leaving almost four months earlier. In my defence I did keep in touch via Facebook (I know, not a great defence). It was nice to catch up.
“Hi mum!”
“Eden? Hi! It’s great to hear from you! How have you been?! Where are you?!”
“I’m good. I’m still at the animal refuge in Bolivia. It’s amazing!”
“Oh with the monkeys?”
“Yeah that's the one, but I left the monkeys. Now I’m actually working with a puma,” I explained, “like a full grown puma, his name is Roy”

“Are you there?”

Needless to say, I decided to hold out on telling her about the cut above my eye, and the vets and the stitches.


So I finally got to go back on the trails with Roy and Mike and Ed. Adam, however, had pulled out. Roy beat him physically and mentally, and he didn’t even have to jump him. I felt bad for Adam because he would have been so close to breaking on through to the other side of the pain barrier.

The trails were becoming more and more fun. Roy had long been in love with Mike and wouldn’t dare touch him. I had also worked my way into his favour and he was responding by becoming more playful and exploring more. Ed, however, was having a little more trouble. Roy would pick on him, jumping him almost daily, and Ed would respond by stepping up to the challenge. It was like watching a duel as Roy would spend 20 minutes straight trying to find the right place to attack and Ed (self titled matador at this point) would manoeuvre himself to avoid it.

It stayed like this for a while, but eventually I became too complacent and Roy took to jumping me again. On one occasion he stopped and I stopped behind him. He started growling.
What’s wrong? Why is he gro-Oh shit!
I was standing on his tail. He turned around and faced me. I couldn’t do much and he jumped and knocked me down. Biting into my leg just above the knee. Mike pulled him away but not quick enough to prevent the scar of teeth marks that is still visible now. There were another two jumps similar to this. I have matching scars on both legs. But after seeing how much Roy loved to ‘play around’ it was worth the pain.


Apart from the Bromance that I had with Roy, I was finding friendships with more than just animals. The people at the park were some of the best friends I made on my whole holiday. The parties we had were insanely fun as well. Everyone would chip in thirty Bolivianos, about $7, and copious amounts of alcohol were purchased and put into big buckets and saucepans. Messiness ensued with drinking games, pool parties and the like. Some of the photos showed up on Facebook with me tagged in them. That’s how my mum found out about my cut. I received a message from her asking why I had a scar above eye.

Both me and Mike had decided to stay a week longer. This meant Mike would be there til the end of October and I would until the 2nd of November. This was like a slap the face to my knees (a slap in the kneecap?). For weeks now they were begging for relief. At night I could be sitting, talking with people and I would feel my knees and they were still burning. Giving off heat even though I finished the trail hours earlier. In the mornings they would be cold and raw, even worse on the wet days. Even three or four weeks after leaving the park my knees were sore just to climb a flight of stairs. But to stay with Roy for an extra few days, anything was worth that.


After 32 days at Villa Tunari, here I was. November 2nd. 1400hrs. My last run with Roy. We were out on the trails. Just Roy, Ed and me. Mike had left. Adam had quit. A day earlier there was even a new guy, coincidentally also called Adam, who left. We had had a big party on the night of Halloween as a send-off to a large group of volunteers, including Mike. I was hungover, walking Roy. Ed was still drunk and struggling to keep his footing through the slippery creek beds. The new guy, however, was nowhere to be seen. Straggling some 5 minutes behind us (and counting) showing no intent of catching up. Roy: 2. Adams: 0.

Anyways, the run was very sombre. We didn’t talk too much and I let Roy roam the different parts of the trail for longer than usual. I wanted to soak up my time with him. My body was holding out in defiance of nature and my preconceived notions of will power. Just one more day of big league exercise before I could relax and stop trekking 12-15km a day. But this was no consolation. I had seen the pain of impending separation on Mike’s face only days earlier. And the look on Roy’s face the next two mornings, staring out to see if Mike would come round the corner. But Mike had left and Roy would learn to accept it eventually.

I sent off the different parts of the trail. The long runner which caused so much mayhem. The Hills, Destroyers of Human Spirit, would suck the energy out of my thighs no more. I chilled with Roy in his rest area for the last time, Sitting on a rock drinking water while he laid in his pond looking at his surroundings. I followed his gaze to the trees, from which some monkey once threw rocks and twigs at us. I looked farther on, at another pond, where Roy found a turtle and slowly tortured it half to death only to lose interest and leave it limbless and alive.

As we came closer to the cage, Roy gave me my final head butt. Purring as he did. Then with only a 20m walk down to the cage he stopped and laid in the damp leaves. I felt like lying down with him and letting him get the easiest jump of his life. Thought maybe we could go around behind the cage and he could nibble on my bare thigh. Just like old times.

We got to the cage and as I changed his leash to the runner. I got another head rub. He was like a house cat, purring and rubbing his head and neck against mine. We stayed for a while as he relaxed. He then went up into his cage to eat his dinner. We eventually left, still quiet. Ed could tell how I was feeling and maybe realising he would have to leave one day as well. I couldn’t help but think of how much I was going to miss Roy. Will I ever see him again? And even worse was the fact that Roy had no idea that I wouldn’t be back tomorrow. All his life he befriended people for a month through gruelling trails, exciting jumps and many other ups and downs. But then for reasons he can’t explain, they leave. I only had to leave Roy once, Mike left him once and Ed did as well. But Roy for Roy it is more than once. Everyone leaves him.


I stayed the night in the hostel. The next day I woke and went to the café in time to bid my farewells. I wrote on the whiteboard “paz y mucho amor” “Peace and much love.” Despite the ruined state of my body, it was my emotional side that was hurting, engulfed in an aching emptiness. It was the saddest moment of my whole trip. I walked to the bus station alone...

Ciao Roy

My last day

- Eden (while listening to Funeral - Arcade Fire)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Start, Don't Regret

This post hearkens back to several articles I've read lately, namely - this, this and this. Often I find myself passionate about something for weeks or months then it just passes me by. For instance, about a year ago I was serious about Japanese cooking, so serious I bought the best Japanese cookbook available, once it was delivered I flicked through it (it's fantastic, it really is) but it all looked a little too hard. To be honest, I think I kinda lost interest between the time of clicking "order now" and receiving the parcel. I've become enamored with loads of little 'hobbies' like Japanese cooking, Billiards, keeping a fish tank (twice), learning Spanish, and Swedish (to name a few) over the past few years and nothing has ever really stuck. Every time I become interested in something I do a lot of reading on the internet and learn about it, and sometimes buy some stuff. Eventually I lose interest, some people may think this is a waste of time and money, but the way I see it - it makes for an interesting life. In 20 years time I'll have had 20 different hobbies, sure I'll only know a bit about a lot rather than a lot about a bit and that's the way I want it.

I must say there are some hobbies and passions which I dropped, some that should never have been forgotten and it's only procrastination that's holding me back. I played piano for a few years when I was a kid, I was quite good but I never really practiced and eventually I talked my mum into letting me quit. What a mistake, there would be millions of people all around the world who identify with this story, but I don't want to be someone who lives to regret it. I want to right the wrong and learn to play again. My grandmother used to play the piano for hours on end everyday, I can only think what a friend that must have been. I've wanted a telescope for the longest time also, to look at the stars and the planets in the 'flesh' rather than just seeing the images on a screen would be just incredible. Not that I want to be a 'serious amateur astronomer', I just want to whip out the telescope every now and then to gaze.

None of this is hard, it just requires a little proactivity. If I didn't buy that Japanese cookbook I would never have been able to lose interest in it in the first place (I can always go back to it, I plan to cook something out of it one day). In order to avoid regretting the things that could have been all you need to do is just start and see where it leads, that way you'll never be left wondering.

- Dogman

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Plight Of The Wrestling Fan: Part 3

The Fall of WCW and ECW

By 1999, WCW had used all of it's ideas and it's top draws were on the wrong side of 40. WWF had a way to make Raw Is War appeal to more people, infusing (infrequent) decent matches with risque storylines, calling it the 'Attitude' era, but really this was just a knockoff of ECW, but once again filtered enough so it could be viewed en masse.

By 2000, WWF was clearly the ratings winner each week by a massive amount. WCW, in its lust for starpower, had become a joke in the industry. The writers weren't focused on a wrestling show, only a bad variety show featuring wrestlers. Essentially, the WWF was doing the same thing, it's just that WCW was doing it even worse. Alot worse. It really says something about the monopoly these two companies had on the business, because WCW was hitting record lows in the nielson ratings yet it was still by far the second company down. And keep in mind that there are hundreds of wrestling promotions just in the USA. Third in line was ECW, but due to the violence and lack of storylines, it was impossible for ECW to come close to the amount of viewers the big two were getting.

By 2001, WCW viewers had basically stopped watching wrestling or jumped ship to the WWF, leading to an overnight sale of WCW to Vince Mcmahon, owner of WWF. They had well and truly won the monday night wars. To put it into perspective, we must realize that WCW in 1998 was taking in around the 100 million dollar mark, but only three years later it was sold for 2 million. It is hard to comprehend how a business could fail on that grand scale, and it was all because WCW was run by people interested not in wrestling, but only money.

ECW had gained its cult following but by the same year, 2001, it had gone bankrupt due to poor business strategy. So that's the other end of the spectrum, because ECW was run by people who loved wrestling yet they couldn't run a business of its size. Paul Heyman is the most ingenious, creative and smart wrestling promoter of all time and he knows how to book the best shows you'll ever see, yet he never had a mind for money. And so when ECW filed for bankruptcy in 2001, Vince Mcmahon decided to buy that too, with the WWF effectively being the only representative of an art I love.

An Era of Honor Begins

For a year, throughout 2001, there was no quality wrestling available to the loyal ECW fans. WWf was worse than it had been in ten years. A new company named Ring of Honor was formed. ROH brought together all the aspects that made ECW so great while abandoning some things, notably ECW's absence of finishers and clean pins. ROH has turned into everything an adult wrestling fan wants. It took a few years, but people caught on and now ROH is the top alternative for wrestling fans, bringing up young wrestlers and signing deals with the great Japanese promotion NOAH. If it weren't for ROH, I would probably not watch any wrestling all year.

The irony of this whole article really is that when I was a kid, I absolutely loved WCW and WWF. And I must say that there were exceptions to the rule that they had bad wrestling. Some of the greatest ever were apart of the big two during the 90's, notably Stone Cold, Bret Hart, Sting and Shawn Michaels. And it is really fun to watch these shows as a kid. But there came a time when my love for the art took over the fun aspect that a kid can get out of it. As an adult, it just isn't what you look for, and there is no consistency. Nobody likes to sift through the shit to find the gold. I guess it comes back to the analogy of movies, because if you watch kids movies as an adult, it's not satisfying in the least. And they're pretty dumb too.

So there you have it, being a wrestling fan can be frustrating at times, with peoples perceptions going in the wrong directions and not being able to find good stuff on TV, but when you have an ROH out there, you can't complain. Let's just hope Vince Mcmahon doesn't purchase it.

- Lee

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Album of the Week: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's second studio album, released in May 1963.


1. "Blowin' in the Wind" – 2:48
2. "Girl from the North Country" – 3:22
3. "Masters of War" – 4:34
4. "Down the Highway" – 3:27
5. "Bob Dylan's Blues" – 2:23
6. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" – 6:55
7. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" – 3:40
8. "Bob Dylan's Dream" – 5:03
9. "Oxford Town" – 1:50
10. "Talkin' World War III Blues" – 6:28
11. "Corrina, Corrina" (Traditional) – 2:44
12. "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" – 2:01
13. "I Shall Be Free" – 4:49

Why I chose this:
A wise man once told me to get into Dylan so here I am. I wanted to start with something from his early period so this album seems like a good choice. Nothing much to say until we've heard it, so.... off you go.

AotW Home

- Lee

Album of the Week: SMiLE

Brian Wilson

Smile is a solo album by Brian Wilson, with lyrics by Van Dyke Parks released on 28 September 2004 on CD and two-disc vinyl. Wilson, Parks and Darian Sahanaja completed the legendary unfinished album project, started in 1966 for Wilson's former band, The Beach Boys.


1. "Our Prayer/Gee" - 2:09
2. "Heroes and Villains" - 4:53
3. "Roll Plymouth Rock" - 3:48
4. "Barnyard" - 0:58
5. "Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine" - 1:04
6. "Cabin Essence" - 3:27
7. "Wonderful" - 2:07
8. "Song for Children" - 2:16
9. "Child Is Father of the Man" - 2:18
10. "Surf's Up" - 4:07
11. "I'm in Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop" - 1:56
12. "Vega-Tables" - 2:19
13. "On a Holiday" - 2:36
14. "Wind Chimes" - 2:54
15. "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" - 2:27
16. "In Blue Hawaii" - 3:00
17. "Good Vibrations" - 4:36

Why I chose this

Well a few weeks ago I picked Pet Sounds, the classic brainchild of Wilson and long time favourite of mine. All were impressed and since then I have been listening to it's spiritual follow up SMiLE. I think that anyone who loves Pet Sounds will also love this and I really want someone to share the album with, because every time I hear it, it grabs me even more. I can't say much more without actually partially reviewing the different aspects of the record, but I love it and everyone should hear it.

- Eden

AotW Home

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life's Lessons Learned in League

A few weeks ago I wrote about the rollercoaster ride I have had supporting the Roosters. It was fun recounting the build up to the 02 premiership and a little less fun remembering the 7 years of disappointment that followed. Sharing my story was therapeutic, and the best thing to come from it was to read the responses. I don’t mean the ‘Roosters deserve all the crap they get’ stuff (I’m used to that by now), but the fans from all different teams detailing their own stories of supporting their team through the harsh reality of losing. I could relate to my fellow Rooster fans. I took inspiration from the steely Dogs fans who struggled through 2008. I felt for fans of teams like Cronulla, Parramatta, Souths and St George who are long overdue for a premiership (well, maybe Souths can wait a little longer).

So although I had promised myself that I wouldn’t go through with the stress of attending another match this year, I was inspired by the other fans to get out to the final match against the Cowboys. It was also Fitzy’s last match so I felt obliged, beyond any desire of avoiding the Spoon, to see off this great clubman. I cancelled a shift at work and then asked my brothers and my Dad if they wanted to come. However, they had long abandoned the thought of more pain, adopting a see no evil, feel no evil mentality.

I scolded them not being true fans and it was becoming apparent that, after almost 10 years of seriously attending matches, I would be going to my first game alone. I thought of calling one of my friends to come with and make a fun afternoon out of it, but they were both busy*. Instead I decided to make it like a lonely pilgrimage - proving myself as a fan (I know, just a touch melodramatic). So after a 40 minute train ride and a short walk from Central I arrived at the Football Stadium. I had come to terms with the horror season and was there to show the team, and myself, that I still believed.

Although we could still overtake Cronulla on the ladder, I didn’t even feel we deserved it and doubted that a team with Jonathon Thurston would lose to us. I had no expectations of winning, which was a liberating mindset. Usually I would be full of unwarranted confidence or nervous excitement. But the game kicked off and the small crowd of around 10,000 had such an energy that the team responded. It rivalled the noise and emotion of the 34,000 at the Tigers-Eels blockbuster I was at two weeks earlier. Despite my earlier Zen state of not needing or wanting victory, I had been sucked in. I wanted it more than ever.

We raced out to a 16-0 lead on the back of strong defence and some decent attack – two things we lacked all season. However, the calling card of the 2009 campaign was our inability to play 80 minutes, and after playing 35 minutes of decent football we crumbled and Thurston pounced. It started with a try before halftime and then a two more quick ones after the break. We stayed in it for a while but I, and the other fans at the game, could see the writing on the wall. We crumbled with 10 minutes to go, losing 32-16.

Sitting through that final 10 minutes was tough but I had never left a game early and this was no exception. Especially since I was there for Fitzy first and foremost. It was an emotional send off to a legend. A sad way to farewell his service – another loss and the Spoon to boot. I thought about the terrible referee display. But instead of blaming the refs again I decided to take the view that the team should be able to bounce back from poor decisions. We shouldn't finish the match focusing on negatives. Focus on the positives and the chance to improve. That what the best teams do. And after 80 minutes we weren’t the best team. After 26 rounds we were the worst.

In spite of all the disappointments of the day and the season I had a bittersweet feeling. I could understand the bitter, but why the sweet? I guess I felt liberated that I had witnessed the worst possible scenario. This was as bad as it gets. It’s still hard to explain but I now feel closer to the club, and not in the unhealthy, obsessed way. I have experienced the highs earlier this decade and now I know the true lows. We’d gone through it together and in the end, as George Harrison says, “All Things Must Pass.” I got that Zen mindset back.

Now I am all for learning from all aspects from life, and sport and RL has never been short of an inspiration to me. It displays fighting spirit, pushing physical boundaries and the use of instincts and tactics, but I never expected to find such a refreshing flavour in spoon fed humble pie.

So here I am soaking up the action of one of the best finals series I have witnessed, glad to be a fan of Easts and of the Greatest Game of All.

- Eden

*Joke provided courtesy of Lee Sullivan © Sullivan Jokes 2004

Monday, September 14, 2009

Anger V Happiness

"Anger - an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." - Seneca

I don't have an explosive temper, nor do I spend long periods of time being shitty, but like all people, I do get angry. Being angry is something which will always happen and to learn to control it and get over whatever it is you're angry about is a battle. I suppose you could call this article a continuation of my post - Learning (I suspect there will be many posts on the subject of learning). There are so many sources of anger, so obviously I'm only going to talk about some of them and how I'm learning to react to that anger.

Having a difference of opinion with someone can lead to anger and an argument if you let it (this generally happens with those closest to us, with others we often keep our mouths shut). To argue with someone and to continue an argument with someone, even after both parties have gotten their points across is really just an attempt at domination. Both people want to be right, to have the other person know that they're right. I've argued with Brooke before and thought to myself after a couple of minutes of angry silence that I want so badly to not be angry, but this desire in me to have her agree with me and win this argument is so strong. I've only recently acknowledged anger and the resulting arguments for what they are, and realised that its not worth being angry at someone you love, or anyone for that matter, in order to win and argument (which is joke in itself because you can never 'win' an angry argument).

Money is a major source of worry and anger. Whether we have too much or not enough most people are never really satisfied. When I pay too much for something I generally feel angry about it, I feel as though I've been ripped off - really I feel like a fool. No one likes to be made to feel or look foolish. The thing about money is that it cannot make you happy and it should not make you angry. If you spend too much money one week, or you've paid too much for something, try to think - in a couple of weeks time, I will have been paid again, will I actually care about that money I spent? Will I even still remember? Probably not. Perhaps that’s too simplistic, I don’t think it is because it seems to works for me. Being angry really is silly because what you're angry about has occured. The time has passed, you cannot do anything about it, if you could you wouldn't be angry.

In the end, all anger does is delay your happiness. It's fine to get angry at things, but to be able to realise and accept that the world isn't perfect and that not everything will go how you'd like is key.

- Dogman

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why College Football is Awesome

Something amazing happened to me during the fall of 2006; I experienced my first taste that is college football. I had been hearing about how exciting it would be to study at Michigan State University during the fall semester, because that was when football season would be played. I really didn’t pay much attention to it when I first arrived as there were so many other new sights, smells and tastes that come along with studying at an American college.

One beautiful afternoon whilst I was looking out my dorm room window at the squirrels chasing each other up and down a tree, I decided that I would buy season football tickets to see the Spartans play; it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. So the first game day rolled around, and I was brimming with excitement. Not only was I going to see my first American football game, but it was on campus with an estimated crowd of 70,000 people in attendance (and this was only for the season opener in which Michigan State played a much weaker Eastern Michigan). Despite the Spartans being heavy favourites, the buzz surrounding this game was like no other.

Let me paint you a picture of what a typical football Saturday at college is like. To begin with, the game can be on as early as 12pm, therefore in order to make the most of it you get up early. So at around 8am the beers are opened and the good times are beginning. If the game is on at 3:30pm or even later, that leaves the whole day to ‘tailgate’. For those who are unaware of tailgating, basically the idea comes from everyone having a bbq (or ‘grilling’) out of the boots (or ‘tailgates’) of their cars; often in the parking lot at sports such as football and baseball.

On game day at Michigan State, families from all over head to campus to set up their tailgates at parking lots all over campus, and make a day of eating and drinking. But for the younger, more party inclined folk; there are tailgate parties that go to another extreme. The same principle applies, but there are tailgate parties with often hundreds even thousands of people in one area. This concept is so big that ESPN goes on the road every Saturday during football season to host a show called College GameDay, often at large football schools such as Florida and Ohio State.
The above pictures are of the third home game that I attended, between Michigan State and Notre Dame - a fierce rivalry. Around 80,000 people crammed into the stadium for that game, and even though I was drunk and couldn’t find any of my friends, I made my way into the stadium and found a seat (I should say position because no-one sits down during the entire game) amongst the students and enjoyed Michigan State head to a 31-14 half time lead over a red-hot Notre Dame side. At half time I miraculously found my comrades, only to watch one of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever seen in any sporting game, with Notre Dame grabbing an interception that led to the winning points, in the dying seconds to win the game 40-37.

Another great aspect of college football that entices me is the passion. When you play professional sports there is certainly plenty of passion involved, however once a player makes the NFL they are often guaranteed million dollar contracts whether they win or lose; so the drive to succeed could be for different reasons altogether. However, athletes in college aren’t paid a dime for playing sport; sure they receive full scholarships, but they also have to go to class like every other student. Therefore when they are out there in front of 80,000 screaming fans, in a stadium that is on the same campus which they take lectures, the desire to win is not for a pay-check; it is for the pride and respect of their peers.

Passion also grows from rivalries amongst teams. Every year teams will pretty much play the same teams during a regular season, and considering there are only a handful of games, each clash is met with so much importance on the win. The way NCAA football works, is that the country is split up into conferences, such as the Big Ten or SEC conferences, and these teams play mainly each other. Before a game is even played the top 25 teams are ranked based on pre-season form and calibre of team. The larger schools such as Florida, Texas, and USC are always going to field better teams than smaller football schools, therefore they are ranked higher. However, if one of these teams loses, it can pretty much say goodbye to the chance of playing in the national title (the BCS Championship game). The only hope would be to play in one of the other 4 national bowl games, namely the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls.

The very fact outlined above is why when the season is in full swing, and teams such as the University of Michigan play Ohio State University (also known as The Game, and ranked by ESPN as the greatest North American sports rivalry), often both teams are either undefeated or have only lost 1-2 games each, the hype and importance of such a game is enormous. Coupled with the actual importance of the result is the history behind college football. The earliest college football games were being played around 1870-80, years before most major international sporting rivalries even begun. You can already imagine the honour players receive when they have the opportunity to play in games such as these, especially when many are still teenagers.

One of coolest things I like about college football is the crowds. You can be guaranteed that for most decent games the stadiums will be full. And even if the two teams that are playing aren’t even from the state in which the stadium is located, a large crowd will turn up. For example, round 1 of the 2009 season saw Oklahoma play BYU (a team from Utah) at a stadium in Texas and it drew a crowd of 70,000+. But the best crowds are home crowds. There are 4 college football stadiums that have capacity for over 100,000 people, and often they are sold out. University of Michigan’s stadium (appropriately nicknamed ‘The Big House’ has a capacity of 106,000 people); incredible really considering the town that the college is in, Ann Arbor only has a population of 114,000.

I wasn’t sure whether my love for college football would whither once I returned to Australia, but you can take the man out of football but you can’t take the football out the man. It does suck in some respects being over here when I can’t go to any games, but having Foxtel is such a beautiful thing when ESPN play all the big college football clashes; and best of all, the big Saturday night games stream live at a leisurely 11 a.m on Sunday mornings.

If you ever get the chance to go and see a college football game in the States, take in the experience because it is something not to be missed.

- Russell

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Measly Humans

Eden and I were sitting around the other day watching a documentary on orangutans. As the badass creatures were swinging from trees, it got me thinking. A human would have to work for years to be able to do any of the crazy stuff these guys were doing. And every one of them can do it. One of the orangutans slipped and fell but caught a branch before any injury could occur, yet a human would have certainly fallen to their death.

So why do we have this superiority complex when it comes to our species. Sure, we can build and create things on a much more expansive scale than any other species, but we also destroy things on an even bigger scale. I'm just gobsmacked sometimes when I see another animal doing things that I'd love to do.

A fish can swim faster and stay underwater longer than any human.

So we build flippers and scuba tanks.

We see a bird can fly.

So we spend centuries trying and failing to fly.

There are many animals that could beat the living shit out of us in a second.

Like this guy.

And especially...

We are not the strongest or fastest. We may have the ability to outsmart any animal but we seem to live a less peaceful existence than any.

It's humbling. I'm not putting down human achievement but respect must be paid since a lot of our achievements are based upon replicating what other animals can already do.

Next time I see another animal, I'm going to marvel at how much cooler it is than me.

- Lee (while thinking about my dog Hulk)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taking Risks

"Take a ch-ch-ch-chance"
- The Beatles

(<-- I took a risk and shaved my head in Sudamerica. Not sure if this one paid off...)

This is kinda like a part 2 to what I posted last week. Again I came up with this one while travelling. It was sort of a natural process to start taking more risks just because of the freedom that travelling provides. At first these were just small decisions like when it came to eating I wouldn’t turn down any food no matter how exotic. This immediately paid dividends as now I enjoy a much larger range of food than I used to.

I started to make decisions like this more often. Instead of safe, expensive flights between cities, I started choosing the cheap and rickety buses. This was also a money based choice and I figured it wasn’t going to hurt anybody except me to sit in a bus for 15 hours (or 35 hours). I used all that time to listen to music, check out the views, write down some thoughts or ideas and the greatest thing was that I developed patience. Instead of getting flustered and annoyed and focusing on the negatives, I just put up and shut up and found it easier than I thought.

So I had already increased my enjoyment of food and improved my patience. This was really paying off. It wasn’t all roses and kisses, though. On a number of occasions I got sick from eating a shoddy looking soup, or drinking some dirty tap water. This led to one or two sharts. Also there was a bus trip that went beyond developing patience and reached the point of fighting off pneumonia, when freezing my ass off travelling at 4000m altitude at night with dodgy windows that shake open as the bus rolls over bumpy dirt roads. But I survived didn’t I? Now my stomach can handle dodgier foods and I’m more accustomed to dealing with the cold. Then there was the shoddy drug deals, but even when getting ripped off I was still improving my Spanish.

Always the self analyst I broke it down to the fact that taking a risk generally means you have to go through more to achieve something. Usually I would only do this if the increase in risk provided a potential increase in reward. The business graduate in me could draw a graph to give a visual representation of risk-reward theory, but I’ll spare you. However, I don’t think the business part of me fully understood risk. Like Lee always says (quoting someone else who I can’t remember) “The path is the goal.” Aside from any rewards in the end, the lessons learned getting there make it more than worth it (maybe I didn't understand reward now that I think about it).

These risks continued to pay dividends either on the journey or after it, e.g. I took a risk when deciding to extend my stay in Bolivia a month to check out some park that let volunteers care for pumas. So now the theory was proven. I decided, when embarking on a three week trip through the South of Argentina, that by principle, when in doubt over a choice, I would choose the riskier one. This started with an ill-fated hitchhiking expedition, which began well enough with a few pick ups and ended with me sleeping in a cold garage behind a service station, woken up by a stray dog sniffing me and my bag. It ended with me standing through 7 hours of sunburn, not getting picked up by anybody and then catching a bus.

The self analyst in me came back and observed my frustration. I came back to thinking about regrets. On this particular risk, it would have been cheaper, quicker, safer and easier to have never hitchhiked. But I thought if I never tried to hitchhike I would always be wondering what it’s like to do it. And now I want to try hitchhiking again. I imagine next time I hitchhike I will be better at it, more patient and enjoying the conversations with the drivers instead of being fixed on the final destination. No point in regretting that I took a risk. That’s the whole point of risk, it might not pay off. But a riskier situation causes you to be more alert and aware and you end up a smarter, more capable person for the experience.

- Eden (while listening to In Rainbows - Radiohead)

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Happened to Moderation?

I recently watched Red Cliff (the full Chinese release mind you) and was pleased to see the prevalence of tea in the story. It's not as if tea played a huge and impacting part on the story, but I found it was noticeable and delightful to say the least. In the movie the characters not only made the tea with great diligence and respect - when drinking it they appreciated like it was something that was prepared as such. Not just enjoying the flavour, but the colour and the aromas.

Now this isn't a rant on respecting the acting of tea-drinking (though it is an effective vessel is which to convey the message), no - it's a rant about moderation and the appreciation for the basic pleasures. There was a time a few years ago when I might have appreciated the large cup pictured above, now I realise that there is no benefit to having that much of something. But unfortunately our society often promotes the concept of more rather than the concept of appreciation. This is something that is all too common. When you think about it nothing good comes from consuming too much, you might end up forming a habit, and whatever it may be becoming something ordinary as opposed to special if you'd only treated it in such a way.

This is such a broad subject but it really does apply to anything, especially in a society where too much of just about every is available. So in lieu of Red Cliff and what prompted me to write about moderation, I'd going to change the way I drink tea as a simple and basic start. I've already done away with tea bags and over sized cups, but I'd like to introduce more appreciation for other elements of tea, not just the flavour.

Really, I've been aware of this idea of moderation for a while now (namely not over-eating so as not to get fat), but it really was only from a physical health perspective. Looking at it closer, I can see that the mental benefits are just as great. Gaining more pleasure from and appreciating the simplest things is infinitely rewarding. Oh yeah, there is one thing that you can't do too much of - laughing.

- Dogman

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Plight Of The Wrestling Fan: Part 2

Some Unhealthy Competition (Redux)

In 1988, a billionaire named Ted Turner bought World Championship Wrestling, a fairly successful regional company. Turner decided to invest alot of money in his new business venture after seeing how much success the WWF was having, and this caused the wrestling boom of the 90's.

The Monday Night Wars
Keep in mind that I will be writing a short version of the 'monday night wars' story. There is a much more comprehensive recount on wikipedia. My version is here to gain some perspective on what it is like to be a wrestling fan in those years.

In the early 90's, WWF decided that a perfect way to capitalize on the success of the last few years was to create a weekly television show, complete with storylines, cliffhangers and lots of bad acting. It was called 'Raw Is War' and it aired every monday night, bringing in steady viewership to the already thriving organization. So in true business style, Ted Turner's WCW started it's own two hour show in the same time-slot, naming it 'Monday Nitro'. What was once a company run by people that had lived and breathed wrestling had now become a company run by businessmen. WCW, with it's financially endowed owner, lured many of the top stars of the WWF with multi-million dollar paychecks and the promise of less hours on the road. The viewers started tuning in by the millions and by the 1996, WCW was crushing the WWF in the ratings, but the quality of matches was at an all time low, with only a handful of wrestlers having the ability to go ten minutes without needing a break or running out of ideas. And this small handful of great wrestlers were on the lower card, which didn't mean much to the people running WCW, since the ratings boom was due to one storyline in which all the biggest, most expensive wrestlers turned bad and created their own 'company'. So even though there was millions of people tuning in, there was a fair chunk tuning out, wondering when it will be possible to find good wrestling on TV again. By 1995 american wrestling, which was once a thrilling, fun and athletic artform, was now becoming a bloated monopolized industry, represented to the public by two power hungry steroid banks only interested in the next nielson rating. But something was brewing, because when you alienate an audience, the audience becomes a subculture, left to their own devices to get the entertainment they want.

And one man was listening.


In 1996, a young promoter with a vision bought a little wrestling company called Eastern Championship Wrestling and renamed it Extreme Championship Wrestling. The young man was Paul Heyman, a native of New York with a background in managing wrestlers and a complete and utter passion for the art. Heyman was sick and tired of seeing these two giant companies try to sell wrestling to an audience that it wasn't intended for. He understood that, since wrestling was a violent art by nature, there was people out there wanting more and better. More violence, better skill. And that's what ECW stood for, great matches from passionate storytellers.

Heyman banded together a group of the most talented guys in the country and was putting on shows at the Philadelphia Arena, shows that were like nothing ever seen, including the previous century of wrestling in that country. With no television deal, ECW held it's first pay-per-view broadcast, including, for the first time, japanese wrestlers. It was a stunning spectacle, without the need for pyrotechnics.

It was good wrestling, finally, and it was everything you couldn't find with WCW or WWF. People had caught on and by the end of 1997, ECW had a cult following of rabid fans. It was the exact same reason that punk happened in the 1970's, as a response and natural reaction to the bloated and run of the mill sounds of late 70's rock. The ECW fans didn't want anything to do with the 'Big Two' and they were loyal to the end. Finally there was a place to find good wrestling, the best America had ever seen. But it wouldn't last for long.

- Lee


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Do What Feels Right

This is just a quick one to compensate for the length of my recent posts. Lee and I were talking last week and somehow we got to one of my simple mottos that I used overseas. It was mainly to help with decision making, I would just say to myself to ‘Do what feels Right.’ Not to be confused with another motto I used: ‘Do whatever is cheapest.’

The first time it happened (I was like ‘huh?’) I needed to make an important decision when a sage-like entity from one of my infinite past lives appeared before me in a blinding flash of pulsating colour and say “Look into your heart, Eden. You will find the answer. It will guide you on your path.” Then the mushrooms wore off and it didn’t feel so right anymore…

OK, that’s not entirely true. Sadly I wasn’t graced with the divine mentorship of my past life or a bag of mushrooms, but I genuinely did just rely on my heart and my gut, no matter how big or small the occasion. It wasn’t some experiment in spirituality or positivity (although I’m not discounting the chance that they had an impact), it was just natural feelings and instinct.

It also shouldn’t be confused with selfish notions. I couldn’t just rape someone and say ‘oh my dick thought it felt right…’ because to me (and I hope the majority of the world) to hurt someone else never feels right. This could get to an argument over perception of right and wrong, but I think deep down people can feel a universal truth of compassion (I had to get a little spiritual).

However, it didn’t always result in the most positive outcome, but this is where I learnt the best lesson. I saw a way to escape from regrets. If I made a choice that I felt was right in my heart or soul or whatever, how could I look back and blame myself for making a mistake when my intentions were good. I realised the world isn’t perfect, but if I always do what feels right then I will never have regrets.

It's not just decision making either. Do what feels right for art and creativity, at work or home, relationships, charity, cooking, exercise, reading, drugs (anyone got some shrooms?), love and everything else.