BT DIARY: Yakkers Gone Wild; Clichéd de Neefe; Paid Prose

Well, We
All Had
A Good

The Diary generally avoids KLS (Kuta-Legian-Seminyak) on a Friday night, because of the parking difficulties, the overcrowded venues, the danger of running into a lot of loudmouths and the generalised distemper that inevitably follows this trio of woes.

There are exceptions to this rule. One is when Sophie Digby asks you out (we’ve always had a soft spot for Dorset girls). She did, last Friday night, for the annual bash put on by her Yak magazine at which the worthy are gonged for various things. That’s on the circular self-congratulatory wheel that is forever going round in the KLS cage waiting for this year’s white rats to jump on it.

That aside, The Yak and its little companion The Bud are very readable magazines and themselves worthy of note, in The Diary as in other places. The Diary’s choice for Yak Woman of the Year was yarn spinner Susi Johnson. We voted for her but she didn’t win, thereby keeping intact The Diary’s unbroken record on tipping winners. We were down the back yakking when the climactic occurrence occurred and missed it. So did all the other partygoers we asked in the days following the event. But Evi Sri Rezeki from The Yak was able to tell us on Tuesday that their Woman of the Year was Lucienne Anhar of Tugu Hotels. Well done, Lucienne.

We voted for Susi in the pre-party online poll because we relish honesty in all who offer themselves for office and Susi promised to yak all year if she won. She will anyway so even though her loss will be keenly felt here at The Bali Times — which Susi says is a rag that no one reads, which will surprise our many readers, but she said that after she wanted to write for us and was knocked back — she’ll still be at it; count on it.

We didn’t see Susi at the bash — she was just back from tripping round Europe, poor dear, and would have needed to spend lots of m’waah time with her preferred pals present, we expect – but we did run into one of our favourite hotel promoters, Marian Hinchliffe, who that night had left the Rock Bar at Ayana to its own devices (it’s a year old on August 5) to sample the comforts of the new Cocoon.

And we had a chance encounter with a new chum, the delightfully creative jewellery designer Tricia Kim, who engaged us in an impromptu after-several-drinks “where am I from” quiz. The Distaff ventured that Tricia might be displaying a slight American accent. The Diary suggested she might be from Taiwan. OK, so she’s New York Korean. We know that now.

Read All About It

Janet de Neefe had a puff-piece for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in the Jakarta Post last weekend. It was her regular warm-up for the annual show on the hill, from October 6-10 this year, and just as breathless — we’re being kind — as ever. It may have reminded prospective patrons of her Casa Luna restaurant that she likes to eavesdrop on them, however, and there’s some cautionary utility in that.

The Diary did a cliché count. It’s the sort of thing you do on a lazy Sunday afternoon when the satellite TV’s on the blink and going out to run over a cat strikes you as a really bad idea. It turned out that doing the cliché count was also a bad idea, though. There must be other, more gratifying, ways to put your eyesight at risk. We got well into double digits (in a text of 858 words) before — like the Monty Python minstrels in their fine old song about induced ennui, Here Comes Another One – we uttered an imprecation to the deity and ceased enumerating.

There was one good laugh. In the piece, De Neefe criticised those who spend their time posting vacuous updates on their Facebook. Deliciously, the Diary got to this bit just after seeing a vacuity of precisely this valueless variety from Janet herself, who had felt obliged to tell everyone she was wearing a winter jacket and cuddling a hot-water bottle because it was cold in Ubud. Her Post piece also provided a travelogue, restaurant review, a plug for her piped Brazilian jazz and an accommodation guide. Perhaps she believes she lives on a very lonely planet. Maybe it’s somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy?

The Post is one of her festival media partners and may have felt obliged to run it. We certainly hope it wasn’t that they didn’t notice, or care, that in a literary festival context something a little more literary might have been better.


American Roy Peter Clark is vice president of and senior scholar at America’s Poynter Institute and founding director of the National Writers Workshops, a body dedicated to teaching Americans how to write. He’s been doing it for more than 30 years and, apparently, is still sane. So he’s worth a gong on that account alone. Perhaps he should come along to the UWRF. He could give a talk on the banality of the cliché, offer a primer on the use of the possessive and launch a campaign for a worldwide ban on exclamation marks.

Clark is something of a fan of neologisms. That’s a fancy word for invented terms that sometimes have utility — and thus value – such as blog, for example, without which many who could never write to save themselves would nowadays be lost. It melds web and log, and is sensible.

He was in the news last week for defending the indefensible: Sarah Palin, John McCain’s biggest mistake apart from failing to realise that, after Dubya, not even the Archangel Gabriel could have kept the White House in Republican hands.

Palin apparently compares her own ingenuity with language with that of Shakespeare (in her ignorance of the formative nature of written English in those days, when most people were wholly illiterate rather than merely functionally so). She dropped the (non) word refudiate into one of her frequent and sickening stump speeches. Clark likes this (though he doesn’t like her politics). He says that Palin is in good company.

The Diary disagrees. A malapropism it might have been (after Mrs Malaprop in Richard Sheridan’s classic 1775 play The Rivals) but a cerebral invention it was not. It was just another palindrone. And yes, we meant to write it that way.

Can We Bribe You?

Martin Edwards, of the Australian web-based newsletter Travel Trends, wrote this week about the silly idea that Bali Safari and Marine Park have come up with to give journalists and bloggers a 10-day holiday for the best “positive published article” over the next six months. The more articles you write the more chances you have to win.

Edwards wrote: “The strategy is dangerous because it seriously comprises anything written about the tourist attraction. It will also alienate serious travel media. You can understand the motivation, but this is not PR — it is bribery.”

We couldn’t have put it better (except the bit about the motivation; and bribery is never acceptable). The problem is that with the exception of The Bali Times, the English-language media here would have great difficulty defining a journalistic ethic, at least as applied by objective publications, let alone applying one. That’s if it cared.

Park publicist Astrid Iswulandari tells us the scheme also involves its business partners, including Sushi Tei, Ifiori, AJ Hackett, Sobek and Vila Ombak. She said: “So if they call it bribery, we do not think about it that way. It’s an appreciation for their writing.”

But things like this are the thin end of a very long wedge, for which in large part we can blame the perniciously ill-disciplined social media; and, apparently, some very thick heads indeed.

Flour of Passion

Three cheers to the traditional village council in Singaraja that recently fined a couple caught in adulterous passion 200 kilograms of rice. That’s far better than running off to the plods — as someone did in Tabanan the other week — to get them charged under the national law against unlicensed nookie.

The naughty fellow who was half of the action was also banished from the village. Chief Ida Bagus Kosala said the chap, who was himself married with two children, was guilty of “spiriting away another man’s wife.”

That seems a tad harsh. It takes two to tango, after all. Even to a traditional beat.

Porn Poser

Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring proposes to block all internet porn sites from Indonesian eyes by Ramadhan — it starts on August 11 – in the interests of redirecting the country’s morals into clearer and much cleaner waters. Only the voyeurs will object, and in the long history of voyeurism they have never had much visibility. For all we know, they might form the silent majority. But you can bet they’ll stay silent.

As has been noted elsewhere, however, internet porn fans in Indonesia must be very patient people. Download speeds are so slow here that — should you be seeking your jollies — you have to be prepared for a very long wait.

That’s why – as also noted widely — most porn in this country comes via DVD. Hope they’re not afflicted with the same disease most movies on DVD here have. They nearly always jam and obliterate the best bits.

Filed under:

One Response to “BT DIARY: Yakkers Gone Wild; Clichéd de Neefe; Paid Prose”

  1. S Maclean Says:

    Tautological, periphrastic, circumlocutory prolix.
    Who wrote this article?
    Is it meant to be funny or is the person just bitter and mean.
    Why would you publish something so churlish, spiteful and self indulgent?

Leave a Reply