books, books, books…

27 August, 2009

Since my last post gushing about the 2nd hand bookshop scene in Auckland my habit has unfortunately worsened and the intray is a stack reaching higher and higher. Also, when chatting to friends (Paul, David) new recommendations keep on coming, so i intend to set up a Books page on this blog, and, hopefully, we can have a bit of a conversation there. I know this isn’t a forum, and if it gets too long i’ll make another plan. Though judging from the responses recorded on this blog so far – as in nada, nada, nada – sniff – i doubt that will ever happen.

picture of old phrenology textbook

The picture shows the frontispiece of a lovely old two volume edition of the now totally discredited 19th century pseudo-science of phrenology. I think Sherlock Holmes and later the Nazis were also into this for a while. The length of your nose, the shape of your head, the bumps on your skull, the broadness of your chin, the slant of your eyes and many other physical characteristics were assessed and correlations drawn between features and the propensity to be devious, dishonest, criminal, crazy, less-than-human.


Perhaps a formalization of attitudes that have always been there, will always be there?



So, there it is, at the Devonport Vintage Bookshop just a short ferryride across on the North Shore, a steal at only NZ$200.

I settled for Robert Coover – Pricksongs and Descants (NZ$4) and Eoin McNamee – The Last of Deeds & Love in History (NZ$3).


Hey music lovers…

27 August, 2009

cooder_malkmus… look who’s all coming to Auckland later this year!

d9 continued…

23 August, 2009

ok, the ugly word franchise pops into my head. Will there be a d10 and 11, or maybe d9 – Christopher Returns? The end of the story certainly hints at a few possibilities.

Here are a few fragments towards my pitch for a sequel. 😉

  • It is some years after the aliens were relocated to District10. Wikus is amongst them.
  • Unsurprisingly, District10 has deteriorated into yet another District9 – a squalid sociological disaster zone.
  • Sentiment towards the aliens has worsened further. The state begins fiddling with the constitution – an amendment that returns the death penalty – but only for aliens. Soon any found outside the District10 perimeter are shot on sight.
  • This doesn’t help at all. Conditions in District10 are desparate. Thousands keep escaping everyday.
  • One thing leads to another. A selective virus (termed D13) is actually developed and let loose on the alien population in District10.
  • Many die, but the virus soon mutates into something harmless.
  • To the remaining aliens that is.
  • Humans however, once infected with this new strain, (D13+, also commonly referred to as “die vokken bliksem“) begin to succumb in masses.
  • Then the observation is made that interspecies prostitutes plying their trade in District10 are all immune to D13+…
  • …from which everyone quickly concludes that immunity is conferred on anyone who has carnal relations with an alien.
  • Interesting sexual politics. In a remarkable turnabout, the remaining aliens suddenly find themselves much in demand.
  • Interspecies fornication is however illegal. Our beloved president in particular has strong views on this. The state has dug up and reinstituted the almost forgotten Immorality Act.
  • To enforce the law there is ViceSquad 2.0, and Tertius is one of its officers.
  • Wikus meanwhile yearns to be reunited with Tania.

Ok everyone, help me along a little here, let’s see where – if anywhere – it goes.

proudly south african…

23 August, 2009

Unbelievable! I come all the way to New Zealand to see a Great South African movie.

A tale that captures the uniqueness of the South African situation, its present and recent history, to magnificient effect.

A new, young, bloodspattered hugely funny rip-roaring-skiet-en-vokken-donner extravaganza, without compromise… unashamedly SOUTH AFRICAN, the story, the location, the language, the characters…

Not since Robocop – and everyone who knew me then will recall how i revered (still do) that one – have i seen anything like this. And then some !!!

Gavin Hood, eat your heart out. Sorry, but Tsotsi was ok, nothing more. No way did it put South African cinema on the map as i believe this film will. Of course, this all still imho but mark my words, you heard it here first:

D9 is destined for cult status, up there with Robocop, Brazil, Bladerunner, The Fly, Tetsuo the Iron Man, …

Casspirs, choppers, koevoet types,
our hero Wikus, a hanswors thrust into the limelight,
the villain Kobus,
the casual racism, helpful suggestions towards solving the problem – ja… ‘n virus, ‘n selektiewe virus…
aerial shantytown views,
forced relocations,
xenophobia, (and what’s the word for fear of aliens?)
red ants,
flying pigs,

ornamental flowers fashioned from aluminium scavenged from soft drink cans,

up-to-the-moment filmed news-coverage of running gun battles, explosions and ongoing mayhem tracked from above by network choppers,

an ED209 on alien steroids, and yet as pathetically twisted and vulnerable as the original from the Verhoeven classic,

security camera footage to help the narrative along,

interspecies prostitution,

wooden documentary talking heads as only the sabc can give us,

grunge and grit,

Waaaaaaaahhh…. this is District 9

maybe not zbe but certainly low budget excellence.


the flies hereabouts…

15 August, 2009

… are not as nimble as those in Africa.

Since i have been here i have been able to snatch three of them out of the air in midflight, and whacked several others senseless (for simple final dispatch) or dead and broken with whatever is available, folded newspaper, book, palm of hand. When they alight on any surface it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Colleen remarks that the flies have made an appearance only since i’ve been here. Aaah yes, always there with some small cute show of affection. I love her dearly.


14 August, 2009

When we were here last year we didn’t have the time to check out many things in detail. For instance, being very fond of good food we found some great things (for instance, seafood is of excellent quality and widely available, good coffee everywhere) but were somewhat concerned at the lack of (or so it seemed then) a well established artisan slow food culture. Well, we were wrong about that, but that’s the subject for other posts.

Having the leisure now to check out the neighborhood (that’s central Auckland, downtown and nearby suburbia such as Parnell, Ponsonby, Newmarket) i am delighted to find so much cool stuff. The 2nd hand bookshops are to fucking die for!

I brought over a lot of unread stuff from Cape Town, catch up a bit, you know, jason_books_signbut these places draw you in, gleaming wooden floors, Jason Books, hidden in the back of an old office building downtown, racks and racks of books old and almost new, quiet blues and jazz playing in the background, one or two other browsers, noses buried. And before you know it an hour or two has gone by and you have with you the two New Zealand novel recommendations Chris mentioned; The Curative by Charlotte Randall, Harlequin Rex by Owen Marshall; then another Barry Unsworth, Morality Play (Sacred Hunger was also lying around) and Peace on Earth, a hardcover Stanislav Lem.

That was yesterday. On Sunday Colleen and i hung out on Ponsonby Rd and found (amongst other interesting places) the Classics and Suchlike bookshop, a pretty old house standing on a neat plot, a manicured lawn with little bouquets of flags, it looks like an estate agents for Christs sake!classics_books_sign All the rooms filled with books. There’s a Shorter Samuel Pepys (more than a thousand pages of it, this shorter edition being an abridgement down to around a third of the original diaries). A room in back, SF from ceiling to floor, including Theodore Sturgeon (Almost Human), Walter M Miller Jr (unfortunately no Canticle for Leibowitz). I came away with another Lem, The Star Diaries. Colleen found Interview with the Vampire.

have (porta)bass will travel

12 August, 2009

This is Claudio, a musician from Chile, playing a double bass especially constructed for him “par son luthier” for his travels. Performing on Queen Street, Friday afternoon.

Click to have a closer look at the pictures. The instrument is mostly a fretboard with a collapsible metal tripod, one leg forward, one behind and the third shortened with a cradle at the end that rests against his left thigh. Lovely!