Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Child By Any Other Surname

I know I probably have no place adding my two cents' worth on this issue since I am not Korean nor am I a mother.  But I wondered about the pros and cons and consequences and implications of the legal changing of surnames for children.

Faint not.  I have not suddenly discovered an erstwhile maternal instinct nor developed a biological time bomb in my self-centred body.

I just saw an article in Dramabeans about Korean actress Choi Jin Shil seeking and receiving the right to legally change her children's surnames from that of her ex-husband's to hers.

To be honest, I have no clue who she is but I wondered about the necessity of the action.  Was the ex-husband a raving axe-murderer from whom she wanted to protect her children, thus the change of name to protect their identities?  Or was his surname a really bad one, like Deepshit or Dickwatis, which will bring them eternal grief?

I read further and it appears that Choi felt that she has "no intentions to remarry, her ex-husband had remarried, and she would like to lead her own life and wanted her children to proudly bear her name."  

Hold on.  I am still confused.  OK, what would a remarriage have to do with her children's surnames?  I am not familiar with Korean laws so this is a genuinely inquisitive question.  And so, okay, the ex-mistake had remarried.  Does that mean their two children are any less his children now?  

Choi has been divorced since 2004.  Surely she has been leading her own life since then?  After all, the courts granted permission for the surname change based of the fact that she was the "child-rearing parent" for the past four years.

I understand that Korean women retain their own surname after marriage.  Apparently, the Korean system previously advocated that women were never accepted as a "true" member of their spouses' family and thus carried the stigma of being an outsider by not sharing their husbands' surnames. 

It's rather unfair, isn't it?  After all, you can shag them and have children with them but they are always outsiders?  I sure hope Korean wives enjoy great fringe benefits.

Anyway, the article hastened to assure that the decision is a sound one.  Apparently, when Korean women remarry, the children will take on their new stepfathers' surnames.  I refer back to my first question.  If Choi has decided she will not be considering remarriage, why is that an issue?  Why do it now?  The kids are only 5 and 7 years of age.  Plenty of time to make a decision of such monumental significance.

Choi's rationalising is that the name change is not intended to sever her children's ties with their father but "an affirmation of the care she has given them and an assurance of the relationship" she has with them.  Look, if you have been the sole parent taking care of them, surely they will not forget that so soon?  And what? 18 months of pregnancy was not assurance enough that they are her children?  And to whom is this affirmation for?  Her?  Her children?  Society?

Is imposing her will of surnames on her children a matter of pride for her or her children?

I actually did not even think that deeply about this article till I saw the line that stated Choi's children did not particularly comprehend what the big deal was as they had assumed that the name change was a natural conclusion.  What?  They are 5 and 7 ... most children at that age are still learning to write their names in flowing cursive.

I have nothing against the woman but it seems more like a matter of personal ego massaging than any real logical or sensible long term consideration.

Dramabeans stated that it is forward-thinking to grant Korean women the right to change their children's surnames.  My Korean knowledge is ludicrously limited but I would have thought it would be much more sensible and fair to let the children decide, when they are old enough, whose surname they would like to carry for the rest of their lives.

A surname is not a change of knickers.  You cannot discard or disregard it cavalierly just because you decide you would like to claim your children solely.  They have a right to their father's name.  They should have a right to decide.  When they are ready.

It is enough that parents have such authoritarian rights over their children to decide what they wear, how they cut their hair, what they eat, or which school they should go to.  

By saying that the change of name will not sever the relationship with their father ... I think it smacks a bit of double-talk.  Conversely, if a surname has no relevance to the relation between a child and its parent, why then the pursuit to change it to hers?

Surely the bringing up of a child is to nurture him or her till they discover their own identity?  By changing a fundamental element such as a surname, does it not defeat the purpose?  Would this not subject the children to identity crisis and promote a power-struggle between parents?

I think mothers naturally have a much stronger bond with their children since they tend to be the main care-givers.  The act of breast-feeding and carrying the seed of union in the womb for 9 months is something a father can never share.  Surely letting him experience the joy of seeing his namesake born into this world is a small, acceptable boon?  

Of course, I could be totally wrong and Choi's decision could have immense merit but I wonder.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kiwis and Hedgehogs

Ah, the Kiwis ... they slay me even if I feel a prick on my conscience for laughing at them.

Somehow I now have visions of Zena doing one of her battle cries as she swings a hedgehog furiously around in the air and launches it into her enemies.  Hedgehog Power!  Aaaaiiiieeeeeeeeeyyyaaaaaaa!!!

Kiwis do it the organic way apparently.  They fight au natural.  Not for them the metallic clank of knives and blades.  And fie on using guns and 2x4s.  

According to AFP, a Kiwi (not the bird, the man ... then again ...) has been convicted of assault with a prickly weapon.  This obviously frustrated hairdresser-wannabe must have felt so passionately about a 15-year-old's bad hairdo that he decided the teen needed a hedgehog helmet to cover his sins.

The misunderstood Samaritan, William Singalargh, aged 27, was fined by the court for his misguided efforts.  They deemed it an assault and offensive behaviour.  Perhaps to the hedgehog but I think his defense lawyer should have shown exhibits of the boy's hair to support their case, if they were to even have a strand of hope.

Fortunately, the Wellingtonian court dropped the more serious charge of assault with a weapon.  We can only surmise that the hedgehog had been asleep and did not have its back up during the attack.  In fact, there was some accusation that the hedgehog was actually deceased at the time of the crime, since it was definitely dead when the police arrived at the scene of the crime.  In which case, Singalargh was lucky that they did not charge him with assault with a dead weapon.

Despite Singalargh's plaintive appeal that he was not a hedgehog hurler, judge Ian Thomas listened to the evidence of other witnesses, who fingered Singalargh through his bright orange pants.  I would say he deserved the fingering.  Honestly, who wears bright orange pants nowadays?  Even Prison Break broke away from that horrendous fashion statement.

But the story related by the victim was even more damning than Singalargh's pants.  On February 9, 2008, the teen had been walking home with his two mates when Singalargh and his three accomplices confronted them on the road outside his home.

Singalargh apparently asked him, "Do you want to wear a hedgehog helmet?"

The teen made the mistake of declining the hairy offer, which drove Singalargh to hedge his bets and attempt to reconstruct the latter's hair by hurling the hedgehog at him.  Unfortunately, Singalargh obviously wanted to straighten out the 15-year-old's hair on his lower body as the ball of pricks hit the boy ... well, near his prick.  On his hip actually.

Left with a red welt and four quills on his hip, the boy cried for mummy who ran out and prevented a second volley.  That ticked Singalargh off so much, he decided to launch another ball of attack by mooning her.  Surprisingly, she was not blinded.  By either his bare buttocks or his bright orange pants.

According to police constable Lyndon Reid, Singalargh also made a monumental arse of himself by admitting to possession of a hedgehog and to using alleged hedgehog as a hacky sack.  So that left the prosecution case completely in the sack as Singalargh ended up with sharp words from the judge and a pointedly appropriate sentence.

Singalargh had to pay a fine of $545 (the cost of the hedgehog was probably not accounted for), of which $389 went to the victim.  The boy ... not the hedgehog.

There is no report on whether there is a memorial service for the misused hedgehog or if the teen is still hip with this sentence.

But there are rumours that there is now a legislation under consideration for the mandatory registry and licensing of hedgehogs and a public campaign on safe hedgehog possession in the home.

Stonehenge Unearthed as Burial Site

Well, this theory has actually been lurking for a very long time but recent reports have unearthed, no pun intended, it as a real possibility now.

So, Stonehenge was possibly a giant burial site.  And they even managed to name drop NatGeo to make it credible.  I just wonder if the two blokes who recently went klepto there were in actual fact, gravediggers now.

From the Associated Press comes this article about how new research shows Stonehenge to be a burial site for centuries.  And the surrounding settlements were seasonal homes relating to the famous heritage site.

I can just see it now ... "We're going to our summer vacation home to tend to the graves of a couple of ancestors.  Just a bit of dusting and cropping ..."

Study: Stonehenge was a burial site for centuries

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID,AP Science WriterAP - Friday, May 30

WASHINGTON - England's enigmatic Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings and for several hundred years thereafter, new research indicates.

Dating of cremated remains shows burials took place as early as 3000 B.C., when the first ditches around the monument were being built, researchers said Thursday.

And those burials continued for at least 500 years, when the giant stones that mark the mysterious circle were being erected, they said.

"It's now clear that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages," said Mike Parker Pearson, archaeology professor at the University of Sheffield in England and head of the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project.

In the past many archaeologists had thought that burials at Stonehenge continued for only about a century, the researchers said.

"Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge's sarsen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument's use and demonstrates that it was still very much a domain of the dead," Parker Pearson said in a statement.

The researchers also excavated homes nearby at Durrington Walls, which they said appeared to be seasonal homes related to Stonehenge.

"It's a quite extraordinary settlement, we've never seen anything like it before," Parker Pearson said. The village appeared to be a land of the living and Stonehenge a land of the ancestors, he said.

There were at least 300 and perhaps as many as 1,000 homes in the village, he said. The small homes were occupied in midwinter and midsummer.

The village also included a circle of wooden pillars, which the researchers have named the Southern Circle. It is oriented toward the midwinter sunrise, the opposite of Stonehenge, which is oriented to the midsummer sunrise.

The research was supported by the National Geographic Society, which discusses Stonehenge in its June magazine and will feature the new burial data on National Geographic Channel on Sunday.

The researchers said the earliest cremation burial was a small group of bones and teeth found in pits called the Aubrey Holes and dated to 3030-2880 B.C., about the time with the first ditch-and-bank monument was being built.

Remains from the surrounding ditch included an adult dated to 2930-2870 B.C., and the most recent cremation, Parker Pearson said, comes from the ditch's northern side and was of a 25-year-old woman. It dated to 2570-2340 B.C., around the time the first arrangements of large sarsen stones appeared at Stonehenge.

According to Parker Pearson's team, this is the first time any of the cremation burials from Stonehenge have been radiocarbon dated. The burials dated by the group were excavated in the 1950s and have been kept at the nearby Salisbury Museum.

In the 1920s an additional 49 cremation burials were dug up at Stonehenge, but all were reburied because they were thought to be of no scientific value, the researchers said.

They estimate that up to 240 people were buried within Stonehenge, all as cremation deposits.

Team member Andrew Chamberlain suggested that that the cremation burials represent the natural deaths of a single elite family and its descendants, perhaps a ruling dynasty.

A clue to this, he said, is the small number of burials in Stonehenge's earliest phase, a number that grows larger in subsequent centuries, as offspring would have multiplied.

Parker Pearson added: "I don't think it was the common people getting buried at Stonehenge _ it was clearly a special place at that time. One has to assume anyone buried there had some good credentials."

The actual building and purpose of Stonehenge remain a mystery that has long drawn speculation from many sources.

And not all archaeologists agree with Parker Pearson's theory.

Indeed, the June issue of National Geographic Magazine quotes Mike Pitts, editor of the journal British Archaeology, as saying some details of the theory are problematic with gaps remaining to be filled. Uses of the landscape in the area for farming and grazing, for example, do not seem compatible with a ritualized place.

"The value of this interpretation is not just the idea of linking stones and ancestors, but that it works with the entire landscape," Pitts was quoted as saying.

Facing the World Without

When I read over the weekend a news flash that Natascha McElhone's husband had passed away suddenly at age 42 and that she was pregnant with their third child ... I felt my heart break for her.

A sudden, swift flood of grief overcame me briefly before I told myself to get a grip.

I did not know these two people so I could not understand why that brief sentence would reduce me to a weepy sap.  But somehow, the three elements made my heart ache for Ms McElhone.  Sudden and unexplained.  At their doorstep.  Pregnant with third child.

He came home to die.  Without realising it, his feet guided his last moments just enough that he could be home.  She was not home though.  Lord, I had to reach for the Kleenex.

I told myself it was probably PMS or something to that extent and swept it from my mind so I would not be a maudlin mess.

Then I read this article today.  Natascha McElhone's touching obituary of her late husband.  Simple.  Heartfelt.  Surprisingly joyful despite the obvious sorrow.  Intelligent without pontificating.  And ultimately ... heartbreaking.

Her beautiful eulogy included this -

I feel so ill-equipped right now in my sleepless, shocked state to write anything coherent, but I want to get in there and shout aloud his name, make sure no one misunderstands him.

Ms McElhone, you succeeded and there is no one who read your article who could not admire him as a man and both of you for sharing a love and mutual respect that deep and profound. 

I have always thought her an intelligent actress with depth.  Now I see her as a woman of much love and substance.  I do not doubt Ms McElhone will be more than a survivor.  She will flourish with the memory and love of her husband and children.  I wish her all the best.

And reach for more tissues.

Never Apart

Blood is a strange thing. We used to joke that if you even have 1/16th of Maori blood, you can claim all the rights due. Which makes almost anyone eligible.

People with a prince for a great-great-great-grandfather, will still claim royal blood today, even if they live in the projects and work in a kebab shop. It seems the tenuous mixing of white and red plasma clamps a much more tenacious fist onto our psyche than we know.

Having so many different bloodlines and living in so many places means being able to identify with more than your share of cultures, people and beliefs. It also means you are more easily buffeted by the winds of fortune.

As children, we sat at home and cried when we watched the trains derail in india, killing thousands. We wrung our hands and felt divided and torn as we saw the ravages of the Falkland wars. We mutely withstood the sneers and jeers as 911 happened. We made our homes available to refugees during the tsunamis. We kept a vigil as bomb threats overtook Christmas in Germany and worried about each and every relative still remaining at home. We waited at airports to welcome and comfort each distant relative returned from a war-torn country.

We are far flung and stand with our feet on more than one shore. Crimson rivers have strewn the ground where we stood as we shed our blood to protect the land we call home ... even if it was only for a few decades. We have planted and harvested and given back to the land we made our fortunes in. We have silently made offerings and amends, because our actions may be misconstrued in these times of deep distrust and paranoid but understandable suspicion.

This morning, I read the latest criticisms hurled at someone trying to do his part for charity. It made a heart already sorely wrung even more fragile.

I have not said anything about the Sichuan earthquake thus far. It does not mean I do not feel it less, or more. It simple means that some sorrows run so deep that only tears can express the river of grief.

Perhaps only Agnes can understand that the silent sorrow whispers more thunderously than the shouts of lament and platitudes of words.

It is unfortunate that a man donated $100,000 to the Sichuan earthquake rescue efforts and was criticised. Why? Because he was Andy Lau. 

The critics accused him of being stingy since he is such a big and successful celebrity and should and could have donated more. Quite right. How dare he? 

I mean, he only headlined and headed many of the initiatives to aid the rescue work. He wrote two songs and galvanised his other celebrity mates to sing and record the songs to raise money towards the efforts. He also begged all his mates to donate $100,000 each and then led by example by openly donating that amount first. The $100,000 was also set as a standard so there would be no comparison between each donor, so as not to take away from the issue at hand. How ironic.

I am no Andy Lau fan. I do not have any strong positive or negative feelings towards the man. But I think it is such mean-spirited criticism that is crippling charity efforts today. In Korea, it is much the same. Celebrities do not even want to be associated with charity work as it will garner negative publicity with evil-minded individuals accusing them of using it as a public relations tool.

It is true that true charity should be done quietly and without expectations and for the good of the beneficiaries and no one else. However, one of the biggest tool a celebrity has is just that. Their celebrity. They know their mere appearance will inspire fans and groupies to copy their actions. It is why celebrity endorsements work so well.

It is a double edged sword. You help the charity when you use your celebrity. But you get shredded by the critics for being a publicity whore. 

Perhaps that is Andy Lau's greatest sacrifice for the Sichuan earthquake victims. His reputation for their redemption.

Whatever his intentions, you cannot fault him for helping. Perhaps he did it because he is Chinese. Perhaps he did it because he has family and friends in Sichuan. Perhaps he did it because he just happens to like Sichuanese food. Or perhaps he did it because he is simply human.

Even if I disliked the lyrics to his song Promise, I will give a nod towards the man for silently bearing the criticism and not letting that deter or embitter him in his goal to lend a hand.

Rather, I prefer the lyrics, even if the melody is deplorable, of the song Never Apart, which was written specifically for the Sichuan victims. Sung by Jackie Chan, who really should not sing, and with the lyrics by Nan Shu, it is much more meaningful and profound. I apologise for my poor translation and can only hope Agnes can help me clean it up.

In life or death we will never be apart
Even in the place where your dreams have fallen
Life will continue
Even as the sky loses its beauty in darkness
You're still waiting and hoping to stand up again 
And your cries are engraved in my blood

In life or death we will never be apart
I count the seconds as I await news of your return
Holding on to the belief that life will never end
I say a prayer with you, as I take each breathe with you
Although I cannot see you, I carry you deep in my heart 
To see your gaze means everything to me

No matter where you are
I will find you
血脈能創造奇蹟 生命是命題
Our shared blood can create miracles, life is the eternal answer
Wherever you are
I will find you
手拉著手 生死不離
Hand in hand, we will never be apart

In life or death we are never be apart
The entire world is submerged in silent sorrow
Tears unshed even in pain and sorrow
Love is your legacy
The rainbow will rise in glory after the storm
Our efforts will flourish from the power of love

No matter where you are
I will find you
血脈能創造奇蹟 生命是命題
Our shared blood can create miracles, life is the eternal answer
Wherever you are
I will find you
天裂了 去縫起
The sky has been torn part, let us mend it together

One thread of hope is all I need
I raise my hands to form the road for your return home

No matter where you are
I will find you
血脈能創造奇蹟 生命是命題
Our shared blood can create miracles, life is the eternal answer
Wherever you are
I will find you
手拉著手 生死不離
Hand in hand, we will never be apart

No matter where you are
I will find you
血脈能創造奇蹟 大山毅然舉起
Our shared blood can create miracles, life is the eternal answer
Wherever you are
I will find you
天裂了 去縫起
The sky has been torn part, let us mend it together

手拉著手 生死不離
Holding each other's hand, we will never part in life or death

On that note, some have taken the route of criticising China for its oft-times misguided policies and stands, leveraging unkind statements such as "retribution", "they deserve it", even discussing their population, education and human rights practices in light of the recent tragedy. 

This is not the time to cast blame or to kick a dog when it's down. Whatever a nation's past crimes, real or alleged, a tragedy of this magnitude and sorrow should not be degraded or demeaned. Let us try to maintain some humanity and extend hearts and hands in good will instead of finger wagging. 

Until their land is healed and their people can sleep in peace without tears on pillows ... we should not add to their grief.

Man Or Mouse - Sperm Them Not

Boys, you know when your parents told you to stop wanking yourself or you might go blind? Well, now you may be pleased to know that your sperm may cure the world.

On the other hand, you are apparently not much more than a mouse ...

Oh, how many ways can you milk this ... isn't it rather apt that this research comes from animal health? 

Scientists look to sperm to power nanobots
Flagellum could potentially provide locomotion, early research suggests

By Bryn Nelson
ColumnistMSNBC contributor
ET Jan. 2, 2008

A tiny assembly line that powers the whip-like tail of sperm could be harnessed to send future nanobots or other tiny medical devices zooming around the human body, according to a preliminary research report.

Borrowing a page from reproductive biology, the proof-of-principle study offers a peek at how nanotechnology might overcome the problem of supplying energy to the envisioned menagerie of nanobots, implants and “smart” probes aimed at releasing disease-fighting drugs, monitoring enzymes and performing other medical roles within a patient’s body.

To be biologically compatible, these hypothetical devices would need to be formed not from tiny springs and nuts and bolts but from biomedical components. “At that scale, biology provides the best functional motors,” said Alexander Travis, an assistant professor of reproductive biology at Cornell University’s Baker Institute for animal Health. “But how do you power these kinds of structures?”

One potential answer has come from the tail, or flagellum, that propels human sperm at a rate of about 7 inches per hour. (In comparison, if a 6-foot man swam the equivalent number of body lengths in an hour, his tally of 3.7 miles would smash the American long-distance swimming record.)

To supply the energy for its locomotion, a sperm cell’s tail is essentially studded with tiny assembly lines that produce a high-energy compound called ATP. Officially known as adenosine triphosphate, ATP has been called the universal energy “currency” of living cells because of its ability to store, transfer and release energy. When a power source is needed to run processes within a cell — say, bending and flexing a sperm’s flagellum — ATP releases its reserves through a process that results in its decay to a simpler chemical form.

The most efficient producers of ATP are mitochondria, the cell’s miniature power plants. Sperm tails contain a spiraling helix of these mitochondria within the area closest to the sperm’s head. On the remaining three-quarters of its tail, however, the cell uses an approach based on a pathway called glycolysis, in which sugar is broken down into several components, including high-energy ATP molecules.

Proteins normally require the freedom to twist, bend or change shape to be functional. Research by Travis and Cornell colleague Chinatsu Mukai, together with other scientists, suggests that in sperm, the 10 proteins involved in glycolysis have been tweaked so they stick to a solid scaffold-like support running the length of the tail while still maintaining their activity. Travis and Mukai borrowed that approach to re-jigger the proteins so they stuck instead to the surface of a tiny gold chip covered with nickel ions. For their research, the scientists used mouse sperm proteins as templates for the synthesized versions. 
(Human and mouse sperm proteins are closely related.){NOW, DON'T YOU WISH YOU'D KNOWN I WAS GOING TO HIGHLIGHT THIS SO YOU DID NOT HAVE TO READ THE ABOVE?}

After tethering the first two proteins in the pathway to the chip, the researchers found that both did well in breaking down glucose and handing the end-product to the next protein. Compared to versions lacking a surface-targeting domain and “just randomly glommed” onto a structural support, the engineered proteins performed especially well. Most of the remaining assembly line has yet to be similarly tweaked, but Travis and Mukai’s work suggests it should be possible. “We believe it is one of the first, if not the first, example of building a biological pathway on a manmade surface,” Travis said. The collaborators have a provisional patent for the ATP-making strategy, though no commercial partners as of yet.

Like a vehicle running on gasoline, the sperm’s power production emits waste. Fortunately, its tail harbors a transport protein that acts like a tailpipe to kick out waste and keep the production cycle going. Future nanodevices, Travis said, could include this transporter to similarly maintain their energy production. Maximizing the pathway’s efficiency could prove important for future strategies, such as filling tiny delivery capsules known as liposomes with cancer-fighting drugs and studding their outsides with antibodies that would direct the medical packets to attack specific tumor cells. Under that scenario, a steady supply of ATP could power the pumps charged with dispensing the medication at a certain rate.

Other scientists are likewise mining the emerging field of nanotechnology and its largely unrealized potential for delivering high-impact devices in ultra-small dimensions. Recent studies, for example, have harnessed nanotubes, nanodiamonds and magnetic nanoparticles for drug delivery (but not yet within humans). One group has created a tiny nickel-based rod that spins almost like a tiny propeller as it uses ATP. Another team, led by Carlo Montemagno at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a technique that makes ATP from light photons.

As a veterinarian, Travis said his interest in wildlife conservation got him into reproductive biology and research aimed at fighting infertility and exploring birth control methods. Through efforts by his lab and others, he discovered that one of the most abundant proteins in mammalian sperm, hexokinase, is also the first enzyme in the glycolysis assembly line on its tail. That observation led to questions about the protein’s role, location and, eventually, about whether it and its assembly line partners might be useful for other applications. 

Cornell University’s emphasis on nanotechnology “just kind of clicked” with his reproductive biology research, Travis said. He and Mukai presented the initial results from that scientific pairing in early December at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting, held in Washington, D.C., and are now preparing the study for publication.

Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, a nanotechnology researcher and distinguished professor with the La Jolla, Calif.-based Burnham Institute for Medical Research, said he was intrigued by the approach and considered it a valid first step. “It sounds good to me — that’s the kind of thing that the field needs,” he said. “Having some sort of way of being able to power nanodevices is the number one bottleneck in constructing really clever devices.”

The safety of nanotechnology devices has yet to be fully resolved. Ruoslahti cautioned that sperm-inspired ATP generators would need to overcome the likelihood that the altered proteins would be recognized as foreign by the body’s immune system, provoking a strong immune response. Even so, he pointed out that some nanoparticles potentially serving as the basis for savvy devices of the future are already in use, including magnetic iron oxide particles used for advanced body imaging. “These are not pie-in-the-sky technologies,” Ruoslahti said. “They’re already with us.”

You don't say?

A reader sent a comment about Michael Jackson in a white lab jacket trying to er ... work out some samples from mice, singing Ben ... so that led me to re-work the lyrics, with a mental image of MJ with white lab jacket and one white glove giving a hand (ahem) to Ben .

Ben, the two of us can see no more
We've both wanked what they were looking for
With a bot to call my own
I'll never be alone
And you, my friend, can't see
You've wanked it all from me
(you've wanked it all from me)

Ben, you're always wanking here and there
You feel yourself up just everywhere
If you ever look behind
And don't like what you find 
(oh, I am so not even going there)

There, flagellum, you should know
You've got a place to go
(you've got a place to go)

I used to say "eye" and "pee"
Now it's "grasp", now it's "whee!"
I used to say "eye" and "pee"
Now it's "grasp", now it's "whee!"
Ben, most people would spurm you away

I ain't fisting to a word they say
They don't whip-tail as you do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd wank again
If they had a friend like Ben
(a friend) Like Ben
(like Ben) Like Ben

Alright, no need to call the RSPCA or the white with the white jacket.  No, not MJ!  I'll be good now, I promise!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Slippered Lady

I am usually not particularly impressed by photos of flowers and the such, consigning them to the Hallmark greeting cards genre of photography.  But this ... this is just breathtaking.

I've never seen this particular strain of orchid but it is bloody gorgeous.  It is apparently a white lady's slipper orchid.  What an apt name.

And thanks to postpurchase over at Flickr who took the picture.  

Cradle of Life

I'm not a baby person and not inclined to the Anne Geddes type thing but something about this photo, New Arrival, really struck me as fab.

Saw this at Flickr from a photographer by the name of katbphotos and she was saying she wanted to use tulle instead the next time.  Lord, no!  

The cheesecloth gives an organic texture and realness to the piece that is very powerful.  I cannot imagine what the hell she must have been thinking to even contemplate tulle.  Next, she might want to sprinkle star dust on the baby ... Shudder!

Among the comments was a reference to yet another famous Flickr photographer, shutterblog, who apparently had had the same idea before.  The colour is gorgeous but I still prefer the one by ktabphotos.  Somehow, the stark contrast of the black velvet and the pristine yet weathered paleness of the cheesecloth works so well in highlighting the baby.  Shutterblog's one is just a little too Anne Geddes cutesy for me.

Even if katbphotos had unwittingly produced a powerful statement (I will never get over the tulle leaning), I think New Arrival portrays the beauty of birth and life perfectly.  It's not all pretty.  There's grit and strength behind the paucity and seeming fragility of new life.

Running Around Like a Headless Chicken

'Nuff said.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Go Away

The silence of footsteps behind

A constant presence eroding the distance
Smiles and conversations flow towards the unsuspecting audience
All they see is unfettered resistance
To shackles of conformity 
Self-centred preoccupation

From whence came this dream?
Or should the semantic evolve to nightmare?
For it instills fear 
Not the clearly defined blood line of physical horror
But of the unknown and unwanted
That cannot be tossed carelessly to the winds
Lurking silently in wait
Behind the darkened curtains of sleep

Always the sense that matrimony misfits
For one who has seen little of the benefits
Logical cogitations of a paper
That cuts and shreds more easily than sabres

Dalliances with many
Heart tangling with few
None ever felt right
The mind's eye just could not sight
Any that shook the conviction
Conjugal bliss is indeed another conviction

Third time pushed
Thrice capitulated
First time he intruded
In a tear-soaked dream in the night

The impending sense of suffocation
Had crept ever closer
Eyes and hands holding tight
Around the heart, chest, hands and feet
To ensure the lack of flight

Cursing the predictability of actions
The trend set in defection
Of unscheduled flight from the chains of matrimony
Two months before the incarceration
That caused all eyes to watch with deep suspicion
And the increase of loving attention
To ensure the glide across the aisle

At night, the eager would-be groom
Holds on with tightening possession
Sleep is both comforting and troubling
Dreams comes in greater procession

But none like this had come before

He came for the first time two months before the wedding
Dark silence was his cladding
Mist and fog swirled like 
Inane smoke machinations from a rock concert

Sensing his presence before sighting
The heart hurts
Fissures pierce jagged shards 
Slow, sure cracks break asunder
The self-imposed peace of acceptance

The tears force bleeding beads of heartache to the surface
Immense surprise at the liquid expressions on the face
Of such happiness and excitement that had mingled
With a lifelong fear of marriage
Such joy and love for the partner
Such devotion and faith for each other

Who now comes in my sleep
To force his attention upon my subconscious?

Remember me

Sensing his presence and still not sighting
It threatens and calls at the same time

Go away

Remember me

Insistence pierce his quiet words
Modulated, sure and gentle
In tone and volume
But plaintive and searing grief 
Hurled from the shadows
Behind those words

My heart had began aching before he spoke
It was as if it recognised the pain
Before it hit
My face had become tear-stained
Before his familiar voice had curled
The two words around my soul

Who are you?
What do you want?
I do not know you
Leave me alone

Remember me
I am the one you love
Remember me

Fear gripped me
Sorrow rended my soul
Tears seared my lips
My arms felt the cold
No warmth could I keep

What are you talking about?
I do not know you
How can I love you?
I only love one 
I have no idea who you are!

Remember me
He is not the one
I am the one
I am the one who loves you
I am the one you love
Remember me

I know of not what you speak
Leave me alone
I have not been with any other
Since I have love this man
How can I love you if I have never met you?
Go away
Leave me alone

He is not the one
Remember me
I am the one you love
Remember me

His shadowy presence cannot be detected
The direction of his words unfathomable
Yet they are unerringly accurate
Sure as arrows they pierce and cut
Through the mists 
Straight to the heart

Eyes try to break through the clouds of dreams
What does he look like?
Who is he?
An almost desperate need to identify
The cause of such shatteringly pain in the heart
That had not ceased since awakening to his call
The anger that he dared to push such unreasoning grief
Unto my complacent peace and joy
That was hard-won and constantly wavering

There he is
The eyes see not
But the heart knows
Face unseen
Body undefined
It is a phantom
That had a sure grip fisted onto a breaking heart

Why is there such sorrow?
Why do I weep so?
Why is my heart breaking?
I do not understand
I am in love with no one except the intended
Have never felt such unexpected heartache 

Who are you?  
Why do you do this?
Go away

Determination firms the shatteringly heart
Blindly turning to run away

Turn around!
Turn around and look at me!
Remember me!
I am the one who loves you!  Remember me!
Turn around!
Remember me!

Now screams of terror burst uncontrollably

No!  Leave me alone! 
I do not know who you are
I cannot remember someone I do not know
Leave me alone!
Leave me alone
Go away!

I wake 
Crying uncontrollable
The heart emits such fiery bursts of pain
I grip my chest in fear of real physical ailment
Sitting upright in the reflected raw colours of glass stained
Tears soaking the pillows and my garment

I am awake
Why does the heart not stop aching?
The nightmare is over
He is gone

Swift turn of the head to stare at the sleeping face
Momentary blindness as I wonder who he is
The lack of recognition before realising 
Place, time and circumstance
Guilt as I touch his hand to confirm
You are the one I chose
Shame and guilt compound as he seeks my touch in his sleep
As if to reassure himself I am not gone
To somewhere he cannot hold on 

Holding his hand reluctantly
Somehow feeling like an adulterer
That someone has been wronged
Resting back on the pillow
The beginning of a distance between the promise

Sobs still rendering sleep impossible

Finally overcome by weariness
A new day
Determined forgetfulness
Never mentioned
And ultimately forgotten

Until the day when marriage dissolved
In the midst of angry words and threats
In the hidden sanctuary of avoidance
In the insistence of space and time
In the stalking of an angry soon-to-be-ex-spouse

The dream returned


Remember me

Startled from the fogs of forgetfulness
Crafted from the need for peace
And a chance for the chosen
The memory of the past encounter return

The heartache and sorrow the same
The questions and answers remain

Remember me
Turn around and look at me
Remember me

Go away
Leave me alone

The stalking dream returns once in a while
The script unchanging

The period of rest between disturbance varies
To lull into a sense of security that coincidence tarries

An anger builds
How dare he?

A rebellion stirs
Even as a fear grows

No shackles
No more

No belief in soulmates
Such silly romanticism 
A mockery of intelligence and sanity
The concept even insults the mind
Barricaded against the temerity
Of the dream that haunts and plague

Logical explanations must abound
My mind and sanity both sound

But it plagues enough that 
Desire for further entanglements 
Wariness in case one should both be the salve
And catalyst
For the torment of dreams involved
In making me eschew 

There is no one
No one to remember

A festering hatred for those words
Startled fear when they are heard
Instant anger at their power
To disturb the much wanted and fought for

Do not make my heart bleed

Do not bring tears to me at night

Do not ask for my love

Do not wait for me around the corner

Do not hide in the shadows

Do not call out to me

I do not want this

Leave me alone

Go away

I now remember you
Remember you as one who stalks me
When I deserve peace

Leave me alone

Go away