Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

The True Meaning of Christmas

Last Christmas, Johnny Trouble got an AC/DC t-shirt. Back in Black. He wore it Christmas day. Soon after, he decided it was too black. So, for all of 2006 it has hung tied to his balcony rail, weathering away in the elements. It stayed there all through the dust of the dry season, and all through the rainy season. Birds have crapped on it. Spiders have made their homes in it. Lightning struck it more than once, maybe even thunder. But it's getting ridiculous. Johnny, one year is up, and it's Christmas again.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Heng Pov Update


is back in Cambodia. Let the fun and games begin... for HENG POV!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Alcor People

If you are bored, and seek to understand the world, spend 3 minutes on the ALCOR site They deal in cryonics, and run out of of Arizona. It's enlightening. I learned that death isn't an event, but a process. I learned that a frozen brain is called a 'neuropatient'. I learned that the consenting dead are referred to as 'Alcor members'. And I learned that the people at Alcor are as creepy as hell.

Check out the pic of Dr. Mike Perry, making some very important notes next to the bottle of frozen nitrogen. Note the ease at which he interacts with his technology (including the floppy disk drive). Anyway, Perry's main job is to maintain the deep cold phase of patient care. That's the bit where after you die, they cut out your brain and freeze it. This is where Perry really shines. No-one cares for removed dead brains like Perry. He is also a leader in the Venturism movement, which I just learned is a religion based on the ellimination of death. He authored the feelgood classics Toward Self-Optimization of Machine Intelligence and Forever for All: Moral Philsophy, Cryonics and the Scientific Prospects for Immortality.

And after all this, Time Magazine still doesn't give him Person of the Year? For the love of God...

Monday, December 11, 2006

On the 12th Day of Christmas...

Christmas gift ideas from Pencil Supermarket, Phnom Penh....

Trojan Super Alertness: If it's good enough for the UN...

Telephone Mythological: Because it only costs three and a half bucks.

Hamburger Skateboard: Because it is THE GREATEST TOY OF ALL TIME. Seriously.

Centipede King: Only if you can find the Special Style - Regular Style is shithouse.

Duck Lay An Egg: Um, because it lays an egg... like a duck!

Benign Girl: Because any other toy girl would be way too malignant.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gamer's Corner

Here at EMC, we get sent all kinds of stuff for review. Every day at the office, we're met by a mountain of digital cameras, skin creams, marital aids and extreme sports equipment. These days though, what with the EMC Foundation to run, and the endless appearances at all those goddamn blog ceremonies, we don't get much time to check out what the kids are into. But, given that christmas is only 395 days away, we thought we'd take time out. After all, christmas is a time of giving. So, we give you this, a review of Laden vs USA, the game.

Our friends at Phnom Penh's Orrussey Market sent us our Laden vs USA handheld arcade game in a neat, polyethylene shrink pack. It's pretty much the standard toy-containing device we're all used to. However, the cardboard insert did contain eye-catching, lifelike photographs of heroic firemen cradling burned babies, and what appeared to be a collapsed building. There was even a picture of a guy wearing a suit, but he was covered in a fine dust! Anyway, at first glance, it was all very realistic. Oh, and still attached was the 10000 riel price tag (that's US$2.5).

Open it up, and it instantly feels good in your hand. Not too heavy, if you know what I mean. A modern, grey and dark grey LCD (thats liquid crystal display) is the heart of the experience, and if you look at the picture, you'll see that the LCD features the lifelike rendering of a plane hitting a tall building. To play, you aim a little space invader-style rocket launcher at aeroplanes which continue to launch themselves into the tall buildings. You keep knocking ' em down, and rackin' up the points. NOW YOU"RE PLAYING WITH POWER! When enough planes hit the tall building, you're out. It ain't easy, I'll say that much. I scored about 15 on my first round. One word: really fucking fun. It's a simple enough idea, unlike that game where you have to control Mickey Mouse as he collects eggs from FOUR different chicken cages in one basket. I never did understand why my aunty once brought us that rather than Donkey Kong II.

Anyway, while the controls were a little flimsy, they seemed to stand up to my rigorous 30 second test. The sound may be conveniently switched off, should you wish to go a round whilst sitting at the UN general assembly, or other such important event. However, I'd suggest you leave it on, because the sound of the plane hitting the tower is total digital magic! It sounds a bit like a distorted version of KKKKKRRRRRRSSSSHSHHHHHKKKK! Other features include a reset button, which presumably allows you to restore world order momentarily.

My only complaints are these. Firstly, I fucking hate yellow, and the game's main buttons are yellow. Secondly, while the controls and presentation are quite realistic, the concept itself just seems a little dumb... a little underdeveloped, or thin, if you will. I mean, why would you need to aim a space-invader style rocket launcher in the sky to stop passenger liners from hitting a building? It just seems implausible to me that anyone would believe in anything so strongly as to go to the effort of learning how to fly a plane, and then hijacking a plane loaded with innocents, and then crashing said plane into a tall building. For what? I mean, even if there was something to be gained from such a stupid stunt, you'd be too dead to enjoy it anyway, right? As I said, only small complaints. Overall, good, clean fun and bound to be a sleeper stocking stuffer hit this religious holiday. 8.5/10.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Caption Competition #2

After the overwhelming success of our first Friday Caption Competition, we'd have to be crazy idiots not to do it again. So here it is - this time it's dodgy sexpat action from Rabbit Island, Cambodia. First prize is a week-long vacation at Rabbit Island, Cambodia. Second prize is two weeks at Rabbit Island, Cambodia.

Well, don't just stand there (like, say, a hapless smuggled Vietnamese child prostitute) - leave yr entries in the comments box...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fuck Evel Knievel...

You wanted it, so you're gonna bloody get it...

#1, Dale Buggins

By 17, Dale Buggins was breaking Evel Knievel's world records. By 20 he was dead. By 25, I refer to the number of cars he would jump on his Yamaha. This kid had spunk, and by spunk, I don't mean semen, I mean get up and go! Although, I'm pretty sure he had semen too, because he had balls the size of Uranus. Unlike American 'hero' Evel Knievel, Dale Buggins only crashed once. Also, unlike Knievel, he wasn't a drug-addled, nasty dickhead. Buggins was just a kid living for the now. They even made an action figurine/toy stunt bike in his likeness. Sadly, he had his demons too, and one of them talked him into buying a .22 rifle and shooting himself in the chest in his room at the Marco Polo Inn in Melbourne in 1981. He had just returned from a tour of the states. I guess he didn't like it so much. He shares his deathday with Jimi Hendrix.

Too pure for this shitty world, he now jumps free of the shackles of gravity, forever young. Buggins, you rule the school.

#2 The Kangaroo Kid

Happily, the Kangaroo Kid din't blow a hole in his chest, and lives to jump to this very day. Here he is in action, flying to the moon.

Here he is with his wife.... or daughter.

And again. I'm still not sure if it is his wife or daughter. Either way, he's a lucky guy.

And that's lucky, because luck is what you need when you decide to make a living from jumping motorbikes. Anyway, taking his name from a magical jumping marsupial, the Kangaroo Kid rides a quad. Yes, that's right, the Kangaroo Kid figures two wheels are for pussies. He is best known for such ridiculous four-wheeled stunts as 'jumping the paddlesteamer' and 'jumping a flying plane'. He has been known to sing his favorite song 'I Believe I Can Fly' right before activating his quad systems. Kangaroo Kid, we all believe you can fly.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stepford Wives II

A castle somewhere in Italy.

CELEBRANT: Mr Tom Cruise, do you accept this woman, this young, fertile woman, as your wife, in the presence of the infinite here today, in the holy sanctity of our church, the Church of Scientology?

TOM: (punches air) I DO! ALRIGHT!

CELEBRANT: Ms Katie Holmes, do you accept this… this guy Tom Cruise as your lawfully wedded husband?

KATIE: (stares blankly) I do

CELEBRANT: Great. And so, to seal these vows, I will now read to the congregation some words from our spiritual leader and Church's founding father, L Ron Hubbard. The following is taken from his 1958 volume "Have You Lived Before This Life".... Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may...

"This takes place nine galaxy periods ago. I was a male, born of space parents. I seem to have two or three mothers who died or were killed. At the age of five I was already on the look-out for brothels. At nine years of age I asked my father if I could join the space academy. However; this does not occur until I am 14. I am 15 when I go with other boys and girls for three months to learn all about sex and homosexuality. When I am 16 I kill my father while fighting on the planet and I join a space-ship. It seems I have a journey here and rejoin the ship when I am 19. Then I learn all about space ship drill, take-offs, etc. There is homosexuality, as only officers are allowed women. I did not care for homosexuality and soon gained the title of captain and so was able to have a wife of my own. She had a baby and a few days later I found the wife enjoying pleasures with another officer. I put her and the officer up for trial and they were condemned and burned (zapped with special ray equipment). I killed the baby because I thought it was not my child. I wanted to go back home so I went to see the captain who was in charge of all the space-craft men and who knew where the ship was going. I asked for the space-ship to be turned around and he said "No." I went mad and killed the captain with my hands and broke up his body. Next I went into the main hall and pressed a button to ring the bell for assembly. I asked for votes for turning back the space-ship for home. Sixty-five per cent. said "Yes." As I was talking to the crew members I felt a gun at the back of my body and I was led off by officers along the corridor. I was screaming and struggling as I did not want to go to the Zap machine (a ray gun to destroy bodies). However, I arrived and my body was held against the wall by clamps, hands were outstretched against the wall. This wall was made of special ray detecting material about a yard to two yards thick. I felt the warmth of the ray until it grew so bad that I left the body. As soon as the head had been burned off, the clamps were automatically opened and the body fell in a trench in the floor, arms outstretched. A large trap door made of metal was slammed on my arms cutting them off. The arms were swept into the trench and the trap door was lifted up again. As it slammed tight again, my body fell into a space container and was thrown outside by tremendous pressure. A space coffin had its own power to fall away from the ship."

[L. Ron Hubbard (ed.), Have You Lived Before This Life?, 1958]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Primitive Souls

Some party somewhere, Phnom Penh, May 2005.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Latest Model

It's true. With Phuong Tien Convenience Raincoat, your dreams really do come true. Like these guys. Before becoming the faces of Convenience Raincoat, they could only dream of the day when they would make it as top fashion models. They would mope around the call centre, practicing blue steel and snorting talc to keep the dream alive. It's funny how a trip to Vietnam can change your life. And I don't mean in a Gary Glitter kind of way. Just look at these kids now! When they're not enjoying a tossed salad in the comfort of their matching Louis Vuitton-outfitted learjets*, they can be found at Kate's place, doing charlie and swapping Jude Law stories, or dating members of Jet.

* they never fly together in case something goes wrong

Friday, November 10, 2006

Water Festival, God etc.

Water Festival!

(Guy in Hun Sen shirt and) Water Festival!

Water Festival!

(House that looks like a computer, and) Water Festival!

Ah, Phnom Penh's Annual Water Festival 2006. 3 million Cambodians walking back and forth for three days in the blazing sun, eating boiled duck eggs and soy-marinated beetles, struggling to catch a glimpse of a couple of tarted-up canoes paddling down a muddy river. Good times.

But for fuck’s sake… Can someone explain why God found it necessary to dump about 10 million printed calendars on the riverside? The calendars featured a tasteful motif of ever-popular ancient magician ‘Jesus Christ’ attempting to escape from the ‘cross of death’, back in 0034. God, with all due respect, are you a fucking idiot? Cambodian people are Buddhist. And now your magical kingdom looks like a fucking rubbish dump. And 3 million pairs of grubby Buddhist feet have trampled and stained the image of your champion forward Jesus H Christ. God, just last week I was thinking of taking the lord Jesus Christ into my heart as my own personal saviour, but now I’m thinking your movement is not in touch with my needs. I'll be voting Buddha next election. Sometimes, God, it’s as if you’re just not thinking...

Friday, November 03, 2006



I want to be the consultant who comes in to help them write their mission statement.

"OK, firstly, is everyone miserable? No? Should you really be here then? Door's that way. Thanks."

THUD (somebody's arm falls off)

"Someone give that guy a hand, please. Thanks. Oh, and lighten up. You're on a staff retreat! We're here to write the mission statement! It'll be fun! OK, now where were we?"

THUD (other arm falls off)

SILENCE (Centipede crawls out of somebody's eye socket)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Unbearable Truth Next Door

My neighbour keeps a bear in a cage. The cage is about 2 cubic metres, or put simply, really fucking small. It would be like me living in a phone booth. I really feel for the little guy (the bear, not the neighbour). When the bear gets grumpy, he gets really loud. He usually gets grumpy very early in the morning. This in turn makes me grumpy. I then becomes like a bear in the office. The bear is owned by Chinese business guy Oknha Duong Chhiv, a man who clearly doesn't value sleep, or bears, the way I do.

This is what Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen had to say about him...

"I am glad that we have the presence of Oknha Duong Chhiv, who is the Head of the Chinese Association in Cambodia. We have lots of associations but we have mobilized them to support the one China policy as set out by the Royal Government. Oknha Duong Chhiv should remember what I recommended in the past and today I have decided to confer a medal to you for first to recognize your contribution to the economic construction of Cambodia and second to thank for the implementation of the Royal Government's one-China policy"

This is what I have to say about him...

"If you're so fucking rich and successful, buy a bigger fucking cage for your bear, fucker."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Seal the Entertainer

We have it on good authority that black singing sensation Seal is in Phnom Penh. This quite famous man, (who takes his name from some type of magical ocean-going dog) was spotted lounging by the pool at Pavillion. Seal is a popular performance entertainer who sings about getting crazy. I'm told that he sings powerfully, and from the heart. Seal is also well known for his remarkable sense of style. This handsome man can wear all white, and totally pull it off. I would just NEVER think to match white pants with an unbuttoned white shirt! The performing Seal has also been known to experiment with radical facial hair designs, such as the goatee. This is what he looks like without a goatee.

For those who don't know, Pavillion is where the beautiful people of Phnom Penh play. Beautiful people are the ones who aren't afraid to show off their bodies in bikinis, or over-designed boardshorts, and often sport expensive sunglasses, and perhaps a trashy magazine. A lot of their fashions are based on communist uniforms, or suffer from design-creep. Design creep is a term I use to describe the a tendency of young designers to over-design by attaching unnecesary zips, buttons or graphics. I hope that one day you can Wikipedia this term. Anyway, they may be designers themselves, or perhaps work with street kids. There is sometimes a partial cross-over with the artistic community too. They laugh a lot, either at their own jokes or at the stories of Britney's shit fashions, as contained in the trashy magazines. They tend to be anywhere between 24 and 32 years of age. Some of them also take fancy notebook-style portable computer systems so that they can access the interweb, whilst enjoying passionfruit-based drinks. Life sure is good for these guys! The Fish Quiche is also very popular at Pavillion. (Again, I would never think to do that) There is a rumour that the swimming pool's water is fish-quiche-flavored. Perhaps this explains why Seal chooses to swim there. It doesn't explain what handsome singing sensation Seal would be doing in Cambodia though.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cambodia's New Money

Apparently this is the new residence of the bossman of Cambodia's Royal Group, Kith Meng. Royal Group is behind the terrifically financial ANZ Royal Bank, Mobitel and CTN television (where too much out of tune live karaoke is never enough out of tune live karaoke). Anyway, who cares? This house is just unbelievably fucking huge. There was the Colloseum, there was Angkor Wat, and now there is this; what we believe to be Kith Meng's house on Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh. Check out the fucking size of this house!

4 Corners recently ran a story on land issues affecting Phnom Penh. Among those who had inky ABC journo fingers pointed at them (for contributing to the problem of the landless poor in Phnom Penh through dubious land deals) were (blam!) Royal Group and (zing!) the Australian Embassy. But who cares? Check out the size of this house! It's massive. Blue Whale massive. And wait til it's finished. I'm guessing it will be even bigger when it is finished. Things tend to get bigger as you near completion. Take blue whale pregnancies, for example, or 'blogs'.

Or patronage systems. This seems like a good place to add that there is a rumour around town that Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen once tried to adopt Kith Meng as his son. I think it had a lot to do with how much he deeply loved the man. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was mostly about their emotions. These days, men are expected to be emotional, as well as business savvy. Anyway, their emotions weren't strong enough to legally unite them as, um, Prime Minister and adopted mega-illionaire son-guy, so they remain sadly apart to this day. At least as far as the law goes. And they say those North-South Korea family separation stories are sad!

Truth be told, Kith Meng is a remarkable story - son of a wealthy father killed off by the Khmer Rouge, shipped off to Australia as a youngster, returns to fucked-up mother country to do serious business, and kicks ass. Power to him, I guess.

Anyway, check out the size of this house. It's so big that you could legally adopt some blue whales, pump in Atlantic sea water, and still manage to lose them! A year later, you could stagger home drunk, take the wrong elevator, accidentally end up in the east wing, and rediscover them, frollicking, chasing krill and spouting off, oblivious to the fact that they live in the home of a (we suspect) Cambodian-Australian businessman. "You bloody whales!" you'd mutter, as you closed the door and headed back down the stairs. The house is so big, that it is not impossible that it could be two more years after that before you re-discovered them, by which time they could have produced at least one offspring, given the right breeding conditions.

It's probably worth using this space for a shout out to the other Royal Group, the ROYAL FAMILY OF CAMBODIA. They may be irrelevant, but they sure are um, relevant to any discussion of Royal Groups in Cambodia. I personally think it bloody cheeky to pinch the name 'Royal' when you're actually not a god-king. Mind you, their house isn't all that impressive.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Hummer has a line of fragrances now. Way to go, America's industrial military complex! Please fuck off and leave us civilians to shop in peace. Retail therapy is (apparently) all we have left.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Crikey You're Awesome!

Steve Irwin meets Lukas Rossi*

(thinks to self on first seeing Lukas) - Check out the markings on this one...

(thinks to self on first seeing Steve) - What the FUCK is he wearing?

Steve: Nice gloves mate. They'd be reeeaal good for catchin' crocs, eh!

Lukas: Dude, awesome, I guess.

(examines black nailpolish)

Steve: Yeah, you could just grab em by the nose and.. wait, you're that guy from the telly. Rockstar INXS. Mate, that's COOL!

(plays air guitar, grins)

Lukas: Um, it's Supernova. Oh, dude, sorry to hear you were eaten by a stingray. Way to fuckin' work a crowd.

(applies eyeliner)

Steve: Well, to be fair dinkum mate, it was pretty bloody stupid. And it didn't eat me mate, it stung me. Stingrays use their poison-coated barb to fend off DANGEROUS predators like sharks. Anyway, now me family's up shit-creek and I'm dead. What's that? You wearin' makeup? You a bloody sheila or somethin'?

(laughs, and slaps Lukas hard on the back)

Lukas: Jesus Fucking Christ, I'm an artist, a performer.. It's what they expect from me.

(lights two cigarettes, chooses one, throws the other away, sighs, blows ace of spade-shaped smoke rings)

You know what that's like? These days, no-one notices you unless you have a gimmick. You end up becoming something you know you're not. Fuck. Before you know it, you forget who you really were in the first place.

(thinks of high school science class, becomes increasingly agitated, begins to pick off black nailpolish)

Steve: Come here, little guy. You look like you need a bloody hug from the Croc Hunter!

(they embrace, Steve pulls away first)

Lukas: Steve, thanks man. I feel better. You know,
dude, in your own way, you're kinda fuckin' awesome.

Steve: Yeah mate, but Crikey I'm dangerous!

(They laugh together, and part ways.)

** optional ending **

Lukas: (to himself, walking away, scowling, flicking cigarette) Fuckin' freak.

Steve: (to himself, walking away laughing) Bloody poofter!

* RockStar website says that Lukas has been described as somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Freddie Mercury. So wait, doesn't that make him, um, dead? So, if the internet is correct, and if God really does manage Heaven, then this conversation has probably already happened.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Really High

This is what Mount Everest looked like this morning at 7am this morning.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sex Laws and One Love

If anyone cared what Dave Navarro had to say, he'd say that the latest development in Cambodia's Legal Affairs* was "Not Awesome". Tommy Lee would add that "It was sauteed in wrong sauce". For this week, Cambodia's National Assembly will consider passing a law which outlaws extramarital affairs. Under the proposed Monagamy Law, those caught going for it outside the confines of their marriage could be prosecuted, and do one year on the inside for their actions.

Obviously, the law will only apply to Funcinpec or Sam Rainsy MPs, but that's not the point. The point is that you can't make it illegal for consenting adults to have sex. Can you? Well, they did under the Khmer Rouge, and they continue to do it today in those odd middle-eastern places, but Jesus-damnit, Cambodia is a thriving, modern pluralist democracy now! And to throw in a furthermore, Cambodia is a thriving, modern pluralist democracy where the ménage a trois of arranged-way-too-early-marriages, female-virginity-as-everything, and brotherhood-of-brothel-hopping already share the daybed of sexual confusion. Well, now it seems that they need a policeman to stand silently beside the daybed, with billy-stick and hand-cuffs at the ready, just waiting for someone - anyone, to initiate.

I don't know, I guess the whole thing just seems a bit unnecessary when you consider Cambodia's other woes.

* If you hold your face to this computer monitor, and listen closely, you'll hear Cambodia's d
raft Anti-Corruption Law gathering dust.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Mad Cow

The Special Dried Salted Beef cow is as creepy as the last one (as well as having a blog with a higher readership than earthsmoltencore). Look into her eyes for about 15 seconds. Her features will start to move on the page, and you will feel yourself coming under her magical bovine spell. Soon, you'll feel restless, unable to concentrate on your budget spreadsheet, or breakthrough novel. You'll find yourself on a dusty Phnom Penh street, saying repeatedly "Special Dried Salted Beef.... Special Dried Salted Beef." You'll stop at nothing to get it. Nothing will get between you and the Special Dried Salted Beef. Nothing.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mad Cow

This cow is the face of Dry Salted Beef Special Quality. Dry Salted Beef Special Quality, the best Cambodian money can buy. I've heard that the Dry Salted Beef Special Quality cow has a blog with a bigger readership than Earth's Molten Core.

Friday, August 11, 2006

For the Love of Toshi

Fuck my head hurts. I drank too many number 2s last night. And a number 5.

Two years ago... "
You gotta try Japanese Vodka. First time free. Me, like the drug dealer. First time free, second time pay. You try. TRY." We were younger then, we didn't know any better. Besides, everyone else was doing it.

Toshi's Kokoro Restaurant isn't really about the food (the great, homemade Japanese food). It isn't about the names of the dishes (Cocked Macklo or The Hamburg). It isn't really about the numbers 1 through 6. It is mostly about Toshi. He's Good People.

Last night, Toshi told us that he's getting married. He and the new missus were dancing in the kitchen, singing "I Love You" to each other. Meanwhile, we amused ourselves with a pretty thorough testing of numbers 1 through 5. They do all taste pretty much the same, although someone commented that number 5 was a bit spicy. Whatever. Today veins pound in my forehead and I feel like hell

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's a Montage...

This is what the English speaking world was thinking today. Random, single sentences from random, English-language blogs borrowed and hashed; a civilian global executive summary for August 8, 2006.

This is just my first try at a blog, so dont expect much...but do expect that i will bitch about every thing i do not like. I am a businessman and I struggle as a Christian, and I hope this blog will be a venue for all of us to support one another so that the word of God can be manifested to all that we meet in our business and corporate world. He illustrated very well what he was saying by using percolation of hexagonal cells. You know that I can't communicate to people very well? Do you even know my love for you? Had an awesome time at the gay bar! I asked my grandad where flint came from and he said it was made millions of years ago from sea sponges! Has a Die Off (of humans) started? Israeli people may be fighting Lebanese extremists, but it is American weapons which are trying to outdo their Iranian supplied counterparts. The unity of Allah is such that there is no reality and no true and permanent existence except His. I think i can post more than 10 blogs a day.

PS. I've always wanted a coonskin cap.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Caption Competition

This is a caption competition. Readers are supposed to think of wacky captions to accompany the photo. That way, it is not pornographic, or lewd, or wrong. It is a caption competiton.

M says:i want to change the way people think about the internet
C says:i want to THINK the way people CHANGE about the internet

Thursday, July 27, 2006

System 100

Fuckin' check this shit out! It's my new Roland Synth 100. It cost me $20. I found it in a store full of dusty secondhand music gear, here in Phnom Penh. I asked the lady if I could plug it in to try. At first, she tried to steer me to some nicer, newer models. No way lady. I want this one. After convincing her that she really did want to sell it, I hooked it up and managed to produce enough space-invader white noise to start dogs barking and kids crying. That was all I needed to know. Sold to the man with dust all over his white t-shirt.

When this was being made in factory in Japan in the mid-late 70s, Cambodians were working in the fields under Pol Pot's regime. Now, Cambodia seems to be the end of the road for unwanted music gear, and buyers here receive containers full of stuff like this from Japan by the tonne. THEY BUY IT BY THE TONNE! They sift through it, repair what they can, and recycle the rest.

I just love that it is called a 'System 100'. It is not just a keyboard. It's a System. The same keyboard (sorry, System) just sold for a thousand bucks on ebay. The interweb tells me that it is used by Orbital, Aphex Twin, Depeche Mode, Meat Beat Manifesto, and (wait for it) Vangelis. Vangelis, I'll fight you with the world's dirtiest System 100 any day.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Home is Where the Dickheads Are..

Kep, on Cambodia's south coast, was once the playground of the Indochine elite, until the war ruined everything. Now, all that remains are the abandoned, crumbling villas, nestled among jungle. Kep is peaceful, beautiful and unique. It makes for the perfect escape from the grime and grind of Phnom Penh. I was touched (perhaps inappropriately) to see this little slice of home scrawled on the back of a bench on the Kep waterfront. Home is where the dickheads are.

*Cambrew, brewer of Angkor Beer, and provider of 'community projects' such as beer-drinking benches for Cambodia's poor, is Australian owned.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ta Mok is Dead

I just got a text from a friend. It read simply 'Ta Mok is dead'.

Former Khmer Rouge Military Commander Ta Mok has just died. He was among the most hated of the hardline Khmer Rouge leaders. He would have faced the long-awaited Khmer Rouge Tribunal later this year. He was among a handful of high ranking leaders expected to face charges for crimes of genocide that occurred during the KR's 1975-79 regime.

After Vietnam overran the brutal regime in '79, Ta Mok hung on in jungle camps along the Thai border until the late 90s. Little by little, his supporters fell by the wayside, either on the battlefield, or defecting to the Government. Ta Mok refused to surrender. He was captured in '99 and helicoptered to a Phnom Penh military prison. This morning, he died in a Phnom Penh military hospital, aged 82. His career achievements had earned him the nickname 'Butcher'.


The news has created a heated discussion in my office. My Cambodian colleagues seem divided on the subject of the KR trial. Some are saying that it's too late; Pol Pot died a while back, and now Ta Mok is dead. The trial will cost $65 million , yet only a handful of ageing leaders are likely to face prosecution. Given Cambodia's poverty, the argument for using the money for humanitarian relief is not without merit.

Others seem to grasp the wider importance of the trial, in the sense that the world must understand what happened. One colleague said that the skulls from killing fields should be kept not only as a reminder of the atrocities, but also as evidence of what happened. He says that it is too late for those people to get a proper ceremony anyway. He doesn't buy the common Cambodian mantra of 'bury the past'.

Both arguments seem strong to me. However, I want to hear my Cambodian colleagues point the finger of blame beyond Cambodia, and understand that others are responsible for what happened to them. I want to hear them blame the Cold War, the USA, China, Russia,Vietnam. I want them to say that they were sold out by a world that didn't give a fuck. They don't though. Having been denied an education, there is a whole generation of Cambodians who are forced to blame each other, and accept this as their own private tragedy.

Perhaps this explains why so many older Cambodians have chosen to bury the past - for the sake of the future. Yet, I'm stunned at how little the post-KR generation know about what went on in their country. There is no mention of the conflict in school curriculum. When I ask a younger colleague what he thinks, he simply shakes his head and says "No idea. It's all up to the government. If they want, they will do."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cambodian Justice

I’ve been following a story about an attempted prison breakout in Battambang province. The trouble began as an inmate conducted the prison’s fortnightly head count, as was the normal practice. The inmate opened a cell to check on a fellow prisoner, who forced his way out and proceeded to free others. Guards took refuge as the prisoners tried to make their escape. This went on for some time – prisoners running around inside the prison, guards hiding. Shots were heard, and a grenade exploded somewhere inside the jail. Rumours circulated that up to ten prisoners were dead.

The following day, the official story took shape. Nine men had died after they tried and failed to escape. Police claimed that a prisoner died after they had detonated a grenade inside the prison. The official line was now that the men died after agreeing to pull the pin on a grenade that they happened to have lying around in their prison cell. A Cambodian human rights group claims that police snipers dressed in smart black uniforms arrived by helicopter. They were seen firing smart black automatic rifles into the jail from vantage points along the fence. Witnesses heard several minutes of continuous automatic weapon fire. That’s a lot of bullets.

As tragic as it may be, this type of thing isn’t unheard of in Cambodia. Sixteen prisoners died in a similar episode last year. They were buried the same day, their names never released. But here’s the thing about the latest incident…

The next day, human rights groups requested that the bodies be examined. They suspected that unnecessary force had been used to quell the situation. They may have expected to find bullet wounds. Relatives of the dead also requested that their loved ones be returned to them. Their requests were denied as prison guards hurried to bury the bodies within prison grounds. The Prison Director released the following statement:

“We did not permit any of the dead bodies to be sent to their families, because the prisoners have been sentenced for up to 30 years. We will keep their bodies until they finish their punishment.”

No further questions.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Last Time I Shot A Bird

I grew up in a house on a hill just out of town. I rode my bike to school every day with friends from my street. Most days began with us tearing down the hill on ten-speed racers, past cow paddocks and cypress trees.

Magpies nested in the cypress trees every spring. The mother magpie would swoop at us as we rode past the nesting trees. We rode as fast as we could under her tree, hoping she wouldn’t have time to notice us coming. I think she saw us as sport, as we presented little threat to her nesting chicks. During the spring, my day began with twenty seconds of sheer terror.

One sunny morning, I was riding to school with my friend Buzz. We were racing down the hill, past the cypress trees, when the female magpie appeared, flying right for us from directly in front. Buzz turned sharply, and ran headlong into me. Pedals tangled with spokes, and our bikes were airborne. Before we knew it we were picking our bikes and ourselves up from the gravel road. The magpies watched from their perch as we sat in the morning sun, picking stones from bloodied knees and elbows. We were late to school that day.

After school, that day or the next, I walked to the magpie’s tree. I aimed my air rifle at the mother magpie’s breast, as she stared back down at me from her nest. I squeezed the trigger. In silent, slow motion she fell dead into the long grass at my feet. I picked up the dead bird, and remember thinking that it was heavier than I’d imagined a dead magpie might be. I held that warm, heavy, dead bird in my hands for a few moments. A single round spot of sticky, warm blood marked my palm. I hid the magpie’s body in a hollow log and walked back home, as silent as a dead bird falling from a tree.

While riding to school the following week, I heard the magpie’s chicks squawking as I rode under the nesting tree. Day by day, their cries became weaker and weaker, until they disappeared altogether. Babies without mothers don’t last long.

As far as I can remember, that was the last time I shot a bird.