Tuesday, 27 March 2007

The New Adventures Of The Boiling Kettle

Reality TV originated in 1948, with Candid Camera. That was an inventive show, even featuring Woody Allen as writer and performer in the 1960s. Since then the genre has been on a long, slow downhill slope, gathering speed as it goes along. It may have finally crashed into the rock bottom.

We are now being offered the chance to watch Adrenaline Rush, featuring Jack Osbourne. Jack who, you ask? He's the son of Ozzy Osbourne, the legendary lunatic lead singer of Black Sabbath. He who infamously bit off a dove's head. And then, in an act that even by his standards reeked of bad taste, he begat Jack.

Jack is not famous for anything. Unlike Paris Hilton, he is not even famous for being famous. In fact he's really not famous at all; he's just somewhat-known in a rather listless sort of way. His chief distinguishing characteristic used to be that he was grossly fat. Unfortunately his TV show is about him losing that excess weight. So this latest triumph of reality programming gives us the glorious opportunity to watch a relative unknown sink steadily into completely undistinguished obscurity.

How about I just watch paint dry instead?

Saturday, 24 March 2007

My Wierdness Is Bigger Than Your Wierdness

For the most part, I loved being in school. Not in a sepia-tinted, looking-back-at-my-childhood sort of way; I loved being in school while I was still in school. But one thing that I did not enjoy was the pressure to conform. It was no fun thinking that others thought that you were not like them. But I told myself once we grew up, got jobs and earned some money, then we'd all feel much more confident about being and showing who we really were.

Apparently I was wrong.

I've had a series of conversations with different colleagues over the past week which brought this home to me. "I have a terrible secret," each one seemed to say, "I think I'm different from other people. And I'm scared they will find out."

It's a poignant problem. If you work in an office then, like it or not, you spend a lot of your waking time there. More importantly, a large portion of the time you spend with other people is at the office. So I guess its only natural to want to feel that you belong with the group that you work with. I know I'd want to feel that way. (I used to think that I was so introverted that this did not apply to me. I know better now). But what if you start believing that to belong to the group you need to somehow submerge your individuality and hide what makes you unique? I'd hate it if I had to face that choice. I don't want to wear a disguise to the office just so that they'll let me in through the door.

I think I've been lucky to find friends at work. There are enough people in my office whom I like and trust to the point that I can be completely natural with them, which means that I can be completely natural in the office. I've only just realized how liberating that is. And how fortunate I am to have those friends.

So thank you, fellow misfits, for welcoming my strangeness. You're the reason my memories of school are fond.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I'm Sorry, Have We Met?

My life has finally unblurred again.

I’d been traveling for most of the past couple of months. It had got to the point where I was one with my suitcase. Together we drifted across continents and time zones in a semi-conscious fog. I had gotten used to the feeling of waking up in the morning and not remembering which side of the bed to get out of to have the most direct path to the bathroom.

And then the traveling stopped with an almost audible clang. The shock of it was so great that I was instantly gripped by a monster case of writers’ block. Either that or I’ve been so gripped by the comfort of a return to everyday routine that it’s been a pleasure to not write, not read, not do anything out of the ordinary for just a few days.

But I’m all recharged and antsy now. So hello world, and it’s nice to see you back too.

Friday, 2 March 2007

How Come We Always Have Silverfish For Dinner!?

The town of Oamaru has a colony of Blue Penguins. These are small, only about a foot tall when fully grown. At this time of year the penguin chicks are as big as their parents, but still dependent on them for food. The parents spend the day fishing, and return at dusk to the nesting area so that they can feed their young with the day’s catch.

Evening had turned to dusk, and dusk was fading into the darkness of a cloudy night..

He advanced slowly up the slope from the shoreline. He stopped every three or four steps. Motionless, he listened for the sound of potential predators. Behind him in single file were half-a-dozen other birds. As he crested the slope, a chorus of calls broke out from the nesting area where their ravenously hungry chicks were waiting.

Now he was torn between caution and eagerness. The other penguins bunched up around him, assessing the twenty feet of open ground they had to cross before they could reach the cover of long grass where their chicks were waiting. Then parental instinct took over and they threw caution to the winds as they surged across the gap.

Off to one side two chicks had been patrolling the verge of the grass. Now they broke forward to sate their hunger. But the penguin they latched on to was having none of it – he was not their parent! He turned and ran away, not wanting to squander the food he had gathered for his own chick. The two strangers gave chase but he escaped when they stumbled and fell, their juvenile clumsiness overcoming their greed.

Out of the dark a blur of brown resolved itself into a rabbit. He darted across the grass, oblivious to all the avian activity.

Around him parents searched out their young, drawn by their calls – short wails alternating with a high-pitched trilling sound. As each chick found a parent it fed voraciously on regurgitated fish.

Two hundred humans watched in complete, unbroken, awed silence. For 35 million years the penguins had been acting out this little family ritual unobserved. Now, after all this time, they had an audience. And thankfully, they did not know it.