Blogger bio: Me!

Saturday 19 February 2011, 3.46pm HKT

More than five years of blogging and other online writing, at least one About page, one About me page, one Statement page on my personal philosophy — and STILL the ungrateful sods people say there’s nothing in this blog (or elsewhere) about me! Talk about paying attention…

So here’s a good chunk of text to brood over in your coop and marvel at how difficult it had been for you to recall fun facts about The Naked Listener without awkward pauses, flubs or missteps. Sod off if you don’t like it.

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Who is The Naked Listener?

by special correspondents of The Naked Listener’s Weblog

(Click on images for larger images)

Nom de plume: The Naked Listener

Professional name: Robert Lee

Real name: It ain’t Far Eastern, that’s for sure…


Other blog: [here]

Age: Too old to live, too young to die, too slow to burn, too fast to stay still.

Describe yourself in three words. Disengaged, disembodied, dislocated.

What are you? A human being, as opposed to a bowl of jelly or a robot.

We meant jobwise or person-wise. Biologist by training, lawyer by qualification, writer by history, printer by work, biker by practice, and layabout by inclination. I’m also 66% lucky.

Where were you born? Let’s say it would’ve been London if I had came out two weeks early or Rome six weeks earlier.

And raised? All over the place, like in a baton relay race between mum and dad. I’ll lay it on you (in alphabetical order): Beirut, Florence, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Honolulu (right on Waikiki Beach!), Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, São Paulo, Singapore, Tokyo and Yokohama. It’s nothing to brag about. All it means is growing up nowhere.

They’re not countries. Why? I didn’t realise those cities were in different countries, until it was much too late.

Where do you live now? I live at home.

Why? I make bad judgment calls all the time, so I can make better decisions later. Hong Kong has not been a good decision, I think. But it’s home, so there.

Family? Not since my mum and dad passed away.

What kind of family did you come from? One with people in it, as opposed to robots or psychopaths.

Are you related to anybody famous? Yeah, on both sides and it’s ridiculous. It just sounds too unbelievable, so skip it.

Where did you attend college? Depends on your definition of college. I never went to school until I was 12, and then I finished my formal education at 17. If you mean college as in university, I went to the University of London to read psychology and statistics and then law at the Nottingham Trent University.

What I do on a rainy day ... party!

What do you print? I can’t talk about it, other than it’s financial printing — stuff for listed companies around the world.

Have to ask — Robert E. Lee — does your name similarity ever come up? I get hit with a lot of Robert E. Lee jokes. He was a good general. I kinda like to think I resemble him in some small way.

What kind of stuff are you interested in? Ain’t sex or money, that’s for sure…

What’s hot for you? I’m easily fascinated by colour and motion.

What puts you off? ‘Soloing techniques.’ Highflalutin’ words. Let’s settle on those two for now.

What started your interest in The Naked Listener? I never really knew, apart from the fact that I was collecting people’s words and funny names since a young age. I’m not talking about quotations from famous people or from books — there’s plenty of that to go around. No, just collected words spoken by ordinary people that happen to be interesting to me. I bang them down in little notebooks and the whole thing just grew from that. I must’ve been one of the earliest people to use email (in 1989?), go online, that sort of thing, in 1996 or thereabouts. I chucked my stuff online around 2001 or ’02 on one of those Yahoo webbie-sites that came built-in with the email. In 2005 or thereabouts, I decided to go with a proper blog. And here we are.

All-time greatest quote? Look up a dictionary of quotations. They’re all great. But if I’m really pressed, I got a couple:

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” (Anon.)

“Question your answer.” (From grandpa)

“I don’t wanna die. I don’t wanna lose either” (John McClane)

“If you tolerate this, your children will be next.” (English proverb)

Your pastimes? My life is one long emergency, so I try to be a couch potato whenever I get the chance. Kinda understandable, dontcha think? If you’ve got to know, I’m a biker (the motorcycle variety) and I ride in my fringed leather jacket — mine’s black and there’s a white one, American size 6, for my ‘chick.’

Favourite motorbike? That’s a tie between the Yamaha DragStar 1300 and the Honda Steed 400, actually. The only Harley I like is the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster, which is not a muscle chopper. My motorcycle gang is The North Coast Thunder Lobsters. I don’t do scooters or mopeds. I ride slow, but not f**king dead slow like those dangerous scooters.

What are your real hobbies? Apart from sex, it’s a tie between collecting 16th- and 17-century silverpoint engravings and Roman coins. The oldest engraving I own dates from 1648 and I have two Roman coins each 2,000 years old. What do you collect — dust?

Do you moonlight? Yeah, as a financial printer! Truth be told, I moonlight as a ghostwriter for couple of people. I’ve also moonlighted as a political fundraiser back in the UK before.

Which party? The party that wins.

You have a day job and moonlight? What’s the longest ‘day’ you’ve worked? My regular day is longer than you could imagine. My overtime exceeds that of most people’s regular day. But I catch your drift. The longest days have to have been those 36-hour shifts as hospital labtech in London. At £65 weekly take-home and the shift hours, I couldn’t even afford petrol — it just wasn’t worth the suffering.

Why is your blog so wildly popular? Great question. It isn’t. Next question.

The best thing about blogging? The money and the jetsetting lifestyle! Duh. Okay, it’s a fun way to share my opinions and stories about people and places that I couldn’t otherwise do. Duh. That’s the corporatised version. The real version is I’m always sitting around waiting literally for hours for the clients’ markups, so why not? Only I know the absolute truth that I could write about anything I like, with or without foul language or defamatory remarks. I could put in couple of dirty pictures too, but I haven’t found any yet that’s dark and depraved enough.

Whose blog would you love to read? YOURS! I subscribe to more than 200 blogs of all kinds of subject. But I’d love to read yours.

What advice would you give to other bloggers? Let’s just say lots of bloggers out there do a helluva better job than what I’m doing, so forget advice from me.

What advice, then, would you think a blogger might like to hear? Stop being gormless and tell how you really feel. Have some gumption inside you when you talk about things — because in any kind of writing, you ‘talk’ through the written word. Things don’t have to be The New Yorker or The Literary Review grammar-correct. Stop fretting over commenters disagreeing with you. After you finish writing the ‘About’ for your blog, then don’t write about yourself again. Unless your blog really is about yourself, don’t do stupid things like what we’re doing right now.

Spent 37 months on crutches

You’ve worked long in publishing. Any advice for would-be authors? None. You can’t learn from my mistakes or the mistakes of others. You have to go out and make your own. The passion of writing is in the risk of never getting published: it’s like the passion of falling in love is in the risk of loving someone who might not love you back as much, or at all.

Is there something more than that? I’ll at least say this: you can write about ordinary things with a different perspective, or ‘different’ things with an ordinary perspective. Whatever you do, don’t write about ordinary things with an ordinary eyeview but in a way that tries to please all parties. Don’t ever write different versions of the same sentence to describe the same thing — stick to one. Nothing’s so imperfect as perfection. Those ‘corporatey’ magazines turned out by lots of professional or corporate bodies or academic institutions do exactly that — and they’re incredibly shitty. They don’t even realise they’re making themselves sound like liars.

Your workweek lasts 80 hours, where do you find the time to blog? By not fretting over grammaticalities and ‘the right way’ to express things. Grammar is the poison apple designed to hold back good, clean, crisp language.

Favourite local blogger? Can’t think of one right now. But it ain’t the la-la crap on Xanga by overimaginative but under-promiscuous schoolgirls. Actually, I have a hard time understanding the local bloggers, not because of their English, but because they tend to drive in circles the way they write. But the good ones are pretty good, just that they’re mostly not homegrown.

Favourite memory? It’s the longest-lasting, it’s anything but favourite. Next question.

What plays on your iPod? Podcasts mostly, podcasts of radio shows or music shows, sometimes speeches.

Favourite music or musician? Anything by CCR, “Sweet Home Alabama,” KC and the Sunshine Band, David Bowie (especially as Iggy Stardust), Johnny Cash, McFadden and Whitehead, Tom Jones and ZZ Top. But I’m into breakbeats, techno and ambient music too! I listen to anything, c’mon.

Favourite movie? “Metropolis,” “Easy Rider,” “The French Connection,” “The Mechanic,” “2001: A Space Odessey,” “633 Squadron” and “Bullitt.” Plus 300 more.

Favourite book? “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” “Animal Farm,” “Dress for Success,” “First Steps in Latin” by F. Ritchie, “Living French” by T.W. Knight and 道德經 (“Tao Te Ching”). I don’t read overwritten or affected crap like “Wuthering Heights” or “Brideshead Revisited” — I’ve read both, by the way.

Favourite TV shows? “Blue Peter,” “The Old Grey Whistle Test” and “The World at War.” And a whole lot more.

Favourite dish? Roasted guinea fowl with madeira and spiced oranges, served with roasted Round Red potatoes seasoned with dill, parsley, leaf basil and thyme. With Warre’s 1963 Port quaffed in the ‘English’ manner — pewter tankards. Luuurve’it.

You don’t like Chinese food? No, I’m not terribly fond of Chinese food — or any Asian food for that matter. If I had to choose, it would be Pekinese first, then Shanghainese, but not Cantonese.

Favourite article of clothes? Real. American. Made. Cowboy. Boots. From. Tennessee. And. Maybe. Also. Texas.

Favourite place to get away from it all? I don’t ‘get away from it all.’ I make it go away from me. I admire House for the same thing. Anywhere with a cold climate.

Your broadcasting hero? ITN’s Reginald Bosanquet. It was bloody hilarious that night. Was it f**king ever! You just had to be there and saw it happen. He was the meme for our generation.

Famous last words? Let’s not do this again. Please.

Yours truly in three different guises

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“Scud” came up with the idea. “D-Rapbox” and “L.A.” asked the questions, “L.A.” operated the voice recorder, and “Fur” brought the sammiches, crisps and beer. The lot chose the excerpts. Yours truly transcribed his own words because none of them could do it (properly, that is) while the four of them milled around all night, fighting over what excerpts to put in. True pros they were.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

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