Sunday, 2 May 2021

Things of Pink and Zebra

 (This "collection" brought to you by the "artist's" inane obsession with pink and zebra)

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Infrequent Blogging May - or May Not - Continue/Adieu, 2020

Only a foolish, foolhardy fool would even attempt to predict the possible future frequency of blogging on this here Effulgent13 Blog. Clearly, Effulgent13 blogging has waned somewhat in recent times, and especially for the duration of this year. But, the blogging may yet continue (Lord Be Praised), for better or worse, and even without the help of New Year's Eve wine (which I may have started drinking a little early - and, yes, this blog is being written with the aid of a few wines). And I make no apologies for this - this year of 2020 is one which, very much so, necessitates the early drinking of New Year's Eve wine.

Of course, one does not have to blog whilst early NYE's wine drinking. But one can, and I am. And I'm feeling that I have neglected this blog of late; so if I can get one last, hopefully not too incoherent, but wildly meaningless, blog post written before the end of this year, then all is not lost.

So, since this is the final day of this year - the year of 2020 (Annus Covidus) - let me farewell thee; with grace, with compassion, with hope.
Dear 2020,
You were my final year with my beautiful pussycat Willow;
You gave us hard lockdowns - allowing me to justify excessive video game playing and excessive introversion;
You gave some succour to the flora and fauna (though not always to the humans) of earth;
You brought back long phone conversations (very Gen X);
You engendered face mask wearing - causing humans to realize how much we communicate with each other with just our faces(!);
You allowed the humans of earth to gain some understanding of the fragility of our existence (and, hopefully, to become more wisdomed because of this).

Monday, 27 July 2020

Vale Ms Willow Pussycat

1st December 1998 - 21st July 2020

(21 years 8 months)

You have been my furry buddy for the past twenty and a half years. It has been the most biggest joy to be your companion animal and your servant.You have brought me much comfort and solace over the years; during the ordinariness of each passing day and especially during my times of existential crises.

It was a privilege to be a crazy cat lady with you.

Rest in peace, my beautiful.

Friday, 27 March 2020

In The Time of Covid-19

When you get home after shopping for essential items (still no toilet paper - what the hell, Australia!) and greet fellow house occupiers (human or otherwise) with a smile and a wave and a 1.5 metre distance and you thoroughly wash your hands (with an extra chorus of "Happy Birthday", just to be sure) and then you can FINALLY touch that spot on your face that's been needing to be touched for the last 4 hours,

Walking through sparsely peopled shopping centres and worrying (or hoping) that you've been transported into classic zombie horror film Dawn of the Dead,

Being a high level introvert and not noticing too much difference between social isolation and normal life,

Being an introvert and feeling sympathy for extravert humans who are more likely to struggle without the in-the-flesh social contact lifestyle - the internet is invaluable during this crisis but it's not a total replacement for 'actual' human contact, even for introverts,

Experiencing alarm that people are being told to wash hands after going to the bathroom - WASN'T THIS ALREADY HAPPENEING?!?!,

Not feeling guilty for spending so much time playing video games - surely, in this extended time of having to stay home, passing copious hours lost in the worlds of Resident Evil or Tomb Raider is justified,

Wishing journalists and politicians would consult a thesaurus and find alternative words for 'unprecedented',

For example: extraordinary/unparalleled/unimaginable/freakish/novel/unique/holy guacamole,

Admitting that 'unprecedented' is probably the best adjective to describe this global pandemic.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The Secret to Cat Longevity is The Cat-Heater Hybrid

As the middle of winter approaches, the necessity for a winter-themed photo increases. Thankfully, I have just such a photo handy.
Here is my cat, Ms Willow Pussycat, managing to not burn herself whilst trying to fuse with the heater:

Willow is 20.5 years old and refuses to die. She is a lovely housemate (I've had her for 19.5 years), though in recent times, she has taken to peeing in the corridor instead of in the litter tray - so I've had to line the corridor with garbage bags. Still, she seems mostly happy and reasonably healthy, and occasionally she will pee in the litter tray. I appreciate that this is not ideal and that once a cat starts not using the litter tray properly, it might be time for kitty to go to cat-heaven. However, I don't think she's actually incontinent, I suspect that her older bones find the litter tray a bit cramped so she prefers to go in the corridor (thankfully, she hasn't chosen to prefer the kitchen or my bed). I'm not sure I'm okay with sending her to the afterlife for the crime of wrongly placed pee (unless she starts peeing on me, then we're going to have a problem - only I'm allowed to pee on me).

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Spanish...I am going to (attempt to) learn least some of you...


With the aid of Google Translate, Spanish for Dummies, a Spanish-English diccionario and Spanish language shows/films (with and without subtitulos), I am attempting to learn me some Español. Fantástico!

Why (por qué)? Because (porque):
(1) I like Spanish
(2) I've been disappointed for many, muchos, years that my high school Spanish class was prematurely discontinued
(3) I believe that I've reached a reasonably proficient level of English (though, I'm sure many would disagree) such that it might be time to take on the challenge of a different language
(4) I feel that having knowledge of another language has some kind of 'humanity' value (though, I'm not entirely sure what I mean)

I have started my language learning by trolling for Spanish words (and their meanings) through Google Translate/Spanish for Dummies/Spanish dictionary, then trying to say the words out loud, then trying to pick out these words (and others previously not encountered) from Spanish language shows. I suspect this is not the traditional way to learn a language (as an adult) but I'm having fun.

I'm not very good, however, at joining the words together so as to form coherent sentences (I sometimes have the same problem with English). My deficiencies include, but are not limited to:
(1) sorting out the variants/gender/uses of Spanish words and, specifically, of 'the'
(2) changing the endings of words to give them the correct tense
(3) where/when to use 'accent marks' (known as 'diacritical marks', eg ñ)
- all of which creates havoc in my English-only brain.

Some of my favourite Spanish words, so far, are:

bruja(witch)/cuchillo(knife)/diablo(devil)/Feliz Navidad(Merry Christmas)/fuego(fire)/gato(cat)/gracioso(funny)/idiota(stupid)/llave(key)/infierno(hell)/loco(crazy)/luna(moon)/milagro(miracle)/muerte(death)/mujer(woman)/nieve(snow)/pesadilla(nightmare)/siento(I feel)/siesta(nap)/sombra(shadow)/suerte(luck)/tengo(I have)/tormenta(storm)/tranquilo(calm)/triste(sad)

(words have been arranged alphabetically and without explanation - though there is an evident psychological profile of my brain (cerebro) on display here)

So, obviously, the thing do to now is to use all of the above words in a sentence paragraph; firstly in English, then in Spanish. No problema (sarcasmo).

English (Inglés):
I awake abruptly from my nap; a funny nightmare has shaken me from my calm sleep. By the light of the moon, I can see my cat, Luck, going crazy. I feel cold, so I light a fire, this creates sad shadows on the wall. I have an overwhelming sensation that a storm is approaching. I look through the window and see snow. I also see a woman standing in the snow; she is holding a knife and a key. I go outside and walk towards the woman. As I get closer, I realize that she is a witch. She wishes me a Merry Christmas, but, shockingly, her "Merry Christmas" is actually a fatal curse from hell and I immediately experience death. Frustratingly, a stupid miracle happens and I am reincarnated as the Devil!

Spanish (Español):
(mostly from Google Translate/ I changed some things to make it present tense and closer to the original text/don't know if this is allowed/apologies to all Spanish speakers for my ineptitude and possible offence)
Yo despierto abruptamente de mi siesta; una pesadilla graciosa me ha sacudido de mi sueño tranquilo. Por la luz de la luna, puedo ver mi gato, Suerte, volviéndose loco. Me siento frío, así que enciendo un fuego, esto crea sombras tristes en la pared. Tengo una abrumadora sensación de que se acercándose una tormenta. Miro mediante la ventana y veo nieve. También veo a una mujer parada en la nieve; ella está sosteniendo un cuchillo y una llave. Voy afuera y caminar hacia la mujer. Como yo meterse más cerca, me doy cuenta de que ella es una bruja. Ella me desea una Feliz Navidad, pero, de manera chocante, su "Feliz Navidad" es en realidad una maldición fatal desde infierno y yo inmediatamente experiencia muerte. Frustrantemente, un milagro idiota sucede y yo soy reencarnado como el ¡Diablo!


Monday, 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas from Richard Nixon

Here is a (ye olde) Christmas card given (with love) to members of the press gallery in Washington DC from President Nixon (and his missus):

A reminder of a time when American Presidents still had respect for journalists...even diligent, investigative journalists who bring about their downfall.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Fuck You, Grace!

[Special note to person's named Grace; I don't mean you...unless you are an asshole!]

"Grace" - from the (Australian Concise Oxford, 4th edition, 2004) dictionary -
  • attractiveness, especially in elegance of proportion or manner or movement
  • courteous good will (had the grace to apologize)
  • an attractive feature; an accomplishment (social graces)
  • in Christian belief - the unmerited favour of God/the state of receiving this
  • goodwill
  • delay granted as a favour (a year's grace)
  • a short thanksgiving before or after a meal
  • (Grace) (in Greek mythology) each of three beautiful sister goddesses, bestowers of beauty and charm
  • (Grace) (preceded by His, Her, Your) forms of description or address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop
[For the purpose of the rest of this blog, I'm pretty much using grace to mean 'being nice to people' or 'not being a jackass'.]

Once upon a time, I believed that to strive for grace in all my actions and attitudes was a proper and noble endeavour, that being gracious (kindhearted, benevolent, civil, obliging, considerate, merciful, magnanimous, charitable) was the pinnacle of human humanity. Indecorousness; this is a word that never rolled off the tongues of my well-meaning mentors when I was growing up, as they tried to instill a sense of proper conduct into my existence. Well, the times they are a changing, and, quite frankly, I've had it with grace (though, not really) and I wonder if incorporating some elements of gracelessness (uncouth, coarse, crude, boorish, ill-mannered, unsophisticated, shameless, tactless) into my persona would be a sensible, if not liberating, path.

Can too much graciousness be stultifying? Unhealthy? Would a little more obnoxiousness pave the way to enlightenment? A socially inappropriate, expletive ridden, tantrum-fuelled rant might exorcise even the most tightly imbedded of demons; either those of a personal nature or the ones that emanate directly from Hell. If only such outbursts didn't upset proximate people; but there might be a way around this unpleasant side effect. Perhaps all people could have a screaming rant at exactly the same time, then no-one would have to listen other people's offensive diatribes but, instead, everyone would be able to simultaneously get things off their collective chests. A Universal Unburdening. We, as a society, could schedule regular therapeutic yelling - just like the people did in that wacky Orwellian novel...although it wasn't framed as therapeutic yelling so much as it was framed as The Two Minutes Hate:
"The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp."
[Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell, pg 17]
If an organized 'hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness' can contribute to a productive and accommodating society in a (so-called) dystopian novel, surely it can work in real life. After all, the novel does end on a happy note:
"But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
[Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell, pg 256]
And surely to love is the greatest state to which humans can aspire, so to love Big Brother surely must be super-duper. And if we can achieve this state (of grace)(see what I did), then we can know that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. And why has my seeming aversion to Grace led me to George Orwell? Maybe Grace is Vulgar. Or Grace is Obscene. Or Grace is Evil Incarnate. Or This Blog Post is Making Me Crazy...

Friday, 7 September 2018

"I'm Not Your Mary"

[This post was going to be some photos of Pyramid Head, James and Maria but it seems to have morphed into a (highly intellectual) dissertation of Silent Hill 2]

In the 2001 psychological horror video game, Silent Hill 2, gamers were introduced to the enigmatic creature named Pyramid Head. His name is somewhat self explanatory:

Pyramid Head has become something of an icon among horror gamers of Earth. Much wordage has been devoted to the deconstruction of "that red triangle thing" and especially to exploring his connection to the tormented psyche of the protagonist of the game, James Sunderland. Here is James, displaying his tormented psyche:

Many analyzes see Pyramid Head (as well as most of the monsters, certainly the 'bubble-head' nurses and 'legs' mannequins) as representing James' unsatisfied sexual desires and the resulting frustration he feels. The reason for his sexual unfulfillment being that he hasn't been getting any lovin' as his wife had been very sick and he wouldn't be unfaithful to her, and even after she died - apparently 3 years earlier - he hasn't been able to move on. Pyramid Head's seminal (albeit without any semen or, indeed, a penis) first cutscene appearance has certainly influenced this theory:

This scene is often referred to as the "Pyramid Head Rape Scene", though I question if 'rape' is the correct descriptor. If this scene does depict rape (or a representation of rape), does this imply that James has raped? Or contemplated or fantasized about rape? Given that the received wisdom - and specifically, James' statement before his final battle with Pyramid Head - is that Pyramid Head exists to punish James (for his weakness and transgressions), then it would be reasonable to link Pyramid Head's actions in this scene directly to James. But it may not be explicitly about rape.

The "rape" that's being witnessed in the cutscene may be more akin to a weird, and unsettling, sex dream. Are Pyramid Head's motions/gyrations during the scene actually violent or are they somewhat rough or 'violently' passionate or overtly dominating???? The distorted moaning noises heard during the scene evoke a sexual context, with a suggestion of pain - maybe James associates sex or sexual intimacy with pain (physical and/or emotional). But if this scene is sexual, it's not clear to me if the mannequins are consenting or not; Pyramid Head grabs their legs, which are flailing around, but that doesn't inherently mean that the mannequin's legs are pushing him away; maybe they're just kicking around with reckless abandon, without a specific purpose. When the scene ends, the mannequins are motionless on the ground; seemingly they are now dead. Did Pyramid Head rape them to death or (consensually) shag them to death? Either conclusion is pretty messed up. But are the mannequins even dead? The mannequins don't attack James once Pyramid Head is finished with them but I don't know if this is proof that they are dead, maybe they just lie on the floor once James/Pyramid Head has finished his crazy sex dream.

A subsequent cutscene involving Pyramid Head and another monster (officially known as a Lying Figure, though I call it a Puker) is further amped up, with the moaning noises sounding extremely orgasm and pain but with more ambiguity - to me at least - as to what the hell Pyramid Head is doing:

I think that a definitive interpretation of Pyramid Head in these scenes is not entirely possible and any analysis is greatly reliant on the subjectivity of the analyzer. But in terms of James' response - in both cutscenes, upon witnessing Pyramid Head's actions, James is visibly distressed and attempts to flee the situation - it is clear that the part of James' psyche from which these scenes have been extracted and distorted is very frightening to James and he would prefer to run away, or hide in a closet:

Then there is The Maroon Menace, or as she is actually named, Maria. James keeps mistaking Maria for his dead wife (named Mary). It happens, we've all been there. Maria looks like Mary, sounds like Mary, but in James' mind, she couldn't possibly be Mary because Mary behaved and dressed like a nun, whereas Maria is a total skank. And, for good measure, Maria is a dancer (though not a reggae skank dancer) at Heaven's Night, Silent Hill's very own nudie bar. Here is Maria, explaining to James that she's not his Mary:

The whole Mary/Maria thing is a bit too virgin/whore, in my opinion. I would prefer that a doppelganger of my dead spouse (if I had one, either dead or alive) be more nuanced (though I wouldn't mind him being sexually available to me whenever I wanted! as Maria seems to be implying she is to James). Maria is another manifestation of James' (somewhat sex-obsessed) psyche but she also exists to punish him. [Spoiler Alert: It is eventually revealed that James actually smothered his Mary with a pillow after years of watching her deteriorate, both physically and mentally, and being subjected to verbal vitriol from her]. Many releases of Silent Hill 2 contain a sub-game titled Born From a Wish, where the protagonist is Maria. Maria has been created purely for James to interact with, and her manifesto is to be totally for James. Here she is, following James around with total devotion (and possibly checking out his butt):

Of course, such single minded devotion to another is not healthy and it takes a toll on both James and Maria. James (and when I say 'James', I mean me when I'm playing as James) starts to get a little creeped out by Maria's over familiarity with him and unnerved by her constant hovering. Maria, meanwhile, is doing what James' psyche created her to do, ie clinging to him, yet he keeps pushing her away and mistaking her for Mary. Fuck you, James! What a cunt. Don't you realize Maria is the embodiment of "Be careful what you wish for"? Maria, quite understandably, starts to lose her shit at this impossible and unfair situation and lashes out at James:

And lashing out at James is exactly what Mary used to do, though presumably only when she was dying and she was angry about dying and maybe the disease physically affected her brain (I'm not completely clear on this last point). James became torn between loving Mary and resenting, even hating, her. As James' journey through Silent Hill draws to an end, and after dodging or killing or maiming many manic monster manifestations (!), James eventually finds a video tape which reveals to him that he killed Mary (up until this point in the game he had been in a disassociated state believing Mary had died from her illness, three years earlier). It is also worth noting that at various points during the game, Pyramid Head 'kills' Maria (Maria keeps reappearing, though, 'cos Fuck You, James!), hinting to James the ultimate shocking truth. James, quite understandably, freaks out after finding out how Mary really died:

James finally has a conversation/confrontation/battle with a Silent Hill version of either Maria or Mary (depending on the player's actions during the game), which is then followed by one of three possible endings (on a first play through): Leave, Maria, In Water.

Leave sees James accepting what happened and moving on with his life and away from Silent Hill.

In the Maria ending, James decides he wants to be with Maria (I take this to mean he'll be continuing to live in some kind of delusional state of mind) and the two of them appear to be walking away from Silent Hill when Maria starts coughing, just as Mary had at the beginning of her illness. I had initially felt this to be a creepy ending, but upon reflection, I decided it could act as a form of therapy for James, still in a very fractured state, whereby he explores his demons with Maria, maybe eventually overcoming them and moving on. It could form the beginning of a healing process, though it could also send him insane.

For the In Water ending, James takes a wild, and presumably suicidal, ride, driving his car into Toluca Lake to 'be with Mary' (a commonly held belief among Silent Hill 2 enthusiasts is that Mary's body is in the back seat of James' car - so, by driving the car into the lake, with Mary's body in the car, he can be with her both on earth and in the afterlife...unless they're not going to the same place...).

Silent Hill 2 is a very narrative driven game (maybe 'game' isn't quite the right word...perhaps 'experience' is more apt). It poses some tough moral questions and has provoked much discussion and theorizing about James' actions, the imagery and noise of the monsters and of the environment, and the themes the game explores. Its underlying story is very real and very human. James' real world ordeal and trauma is not outlandish fiction. Near the end of the game the player is shown a note from Mary which states that despite James' apparent surly demeanour, he is actually very sweet. I suspect this is true. I imagine that James, being a man, especially a young man, would have been subject to notions of tough guy masculinity, and so could likely have believed that he was expected to cope with whatever the world threw at him and not admit his distress or pain or seek help or counsel. And even if he did admit that he wasn't coping and tried to seek help, where would he go for help? I wonder if James had been older, with a bit more life wisdom, he might have found the reserves to endure his "long three years" (it is revealed, in the 'Maria' ending, that Mary was actually sick for three years), but if he had endured, then we wouldn't have this beautifully disturbing image:


Special End Note: For a maximum high level psychological horror experience, Silent Hill 2 should be played on a pink PlayStation 2 console (with bonus pink memory card):