Once more Passion Discs comes to the rescue of we who could not make it to All Tomorrow's Parties. This one is apparently a collection of live tracks; on a cursory listen on the MacBook's speakers, some of them sound familiar. (I've misplaced my headphones and the local knock-off cheapies sound like shit.) The first track is incredibly intense, somewhat like a dense variant of the Dirty Three / Félix Lajkó Zither Player from Cinder. Fortunately it is only two minutes long.
I am glad to see the big man has taken some facial hair cues from Warren Ellis (pictured, shamelessly stolen from Flickr... err, make that an extensive ATP blog entry). I was also very glad to know that I can receive my post in Vietnam, so yeah, bring it on...
Finally someone — in this case Brad Hall — has put up some photos of the Kensington campus as it may once have been. So FaceBook has another purpose afterall, even if it is only as a poor man's Flickr.
It strikes me that this might have been really good on the stage, but it doesn't work as a movie. The acting is intermittently excellent, but the climax is too implausible for what we have seen up to that point.
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.
This is just plain terrible. If they want more money, stick on something commercial straight after the news; surely Mary is worth more bums-on-seats as a lead-in than they get from running commercials during her show.
An ancient Kyle MacLachlan vehicle, somewhat worse than one might expect as a follow-up to Blue Velvet but nevertheless reasonably robust for a cop / car chase / soft sci-fi movie. I guess this segues into his Twin Peaks character...
In the morning Loan took me to visit Trinh's embroidery workshop out in the Phú Nhuận district. The art is quite large, the size of a piece of A4 and larger, and very beautiful. Trinh employs some people with disabilities in the workshop.
In the afternoon, Loan took me to visit the Spinal Injury rehab centre in District 8, which is quite close to District 1. This place is very impressive, a large peaceful campus on a canal with a lot of facilities for physical and occupational therapy, developed quite recently by some Belgian people.
There's also a Scrabble application on FaceBook that is keeping many people endlessly amused.
This is a distinctly repetitive, and rather depressing, memoir of Robert S. McNamara's time as U.S. Defence Secretary, a period that is not coextensive with U.S. operations in Vietnam. This was the first of many irritations, the lack of framing; we get a very limited presentation of the Eisenhower Administration's policies and almost no mention is made of McNamara's successors or the French colonisation.
The lasting impression I take away from this book is that the U.S. preferred to spend billions on a war rather than thousands on a few more people who would have given it better advice. I grant that it was a chaotic time, but why not hire more people?
Some further links:
Huy kindly took me out to Quận Tân Bình (Tân Bình District, a long way from Quận Một) to visit Mr Phúc, who is the vice-director of Sao Mai Computer Centre for the Blind. We chatted at length about their education projects and web accessibility for people who are (almost) completely blind. In brief, modern screen readers are quite good; the one Mr Phúc uses (JAWS) apparently uses the Internet Explorer engine to figure out what's going on, implying that anything Internet Explorer can render, JAWS can make sense of, including Flash. So apart from the usual web hygiene of standards compliance and good design, I got the impression that there is not much a website need do to be accessible to people who use such assistive technology.
He also had a braille reader, which he told me is lower-bandwidth but higher fidelity, and so is mostly useful for syntactically fiddly things like coding.
I don't know why people hate PayPal; perhaps they were evil in the past. (Actually, reading that website makes me wish Visa et al. got properly into this game.) Anyway, as Vietnam doesn't seem to use phone cards, I wanted to put some cash into Skype so I could call my parents. The payment options are specific to the country where they guess your IP is, and in Vietnam one cannot use PayPal to pay Skype, though PayPal is happy for you to manipulate it from within Vietnam. The only option usable to me — Moneybookers — asks for a mobile phone number in Australia, which may or may not actually need to be valid.
What to do? Well, fortunately the Skype website is accessible, and the server hosting peteg.org is in Australia, so I just used links to punt some cash over. This setup is so stupid — how many ex-pats want to do the same thing? — though I can understand that Skype figures it's better to be safe than useful.
(Thanks André, thanks Adelaide.)
Thea somehow laid her hands on some of Philip Brophy's work, which she played for us at Lush. This included (some of) Evaporated Music (where he overdubbed various filmclips from my childhood), a Hal Hartley-esque homage to Melbourne and a beautiful Japanese girl, and an extended take on the gender wars, framed by an apocalypse.