The emergence of Skynet - Part (what part am I up to now?)

The language is slightly sensationalistic (but we are talking about killer robots here so can you blame them?) but this story in The Register offers just one more sign of our impending robotic overlords.

An American "Reaper" flying hunter-killer robot assassin rebelled against its human controllers above Afghanistan on Sunday, and a manned US fighter jet was forced to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country...
It wasn't clear from the US military announcement whether the erratic death-bot had turned on its masters and was planning an attack on critical US logistics bases located north of the Afghan border, or whether it had sickened of reaping hapless fleshies like corn and was hoping merely to escape. Alternatively the machine assassin may merely have succumbed to boredom or - just possibly - a mundane, non-anthropomorphic technical fault of some kind.
 (Originally tweeted by William Gibson)


It's a good morning

It's a good morning
Originally uploaded by couchmedia
A weeks leave ahead, the view from my hotel and the North Melbourne
1996 grand final on foxtel


Mac Cool

Mac Cool
Originally uploaded by couchmedia
This is the presenter of a 10 hour series of training videos I'm about
to start watching



Originally uploaded by couchmedia
Wine in a bag 1
Colin 0

Lesson learned: don't try to open the wine tap of your bag'o'wine with a pointy knife


Originally uploaded by couchmedia
Wine in a bag 1
Colin 0

Lesson learned: don't try to open the wine tap of your bag'o'wine with a pointy knife


So can I call myself "gangsta" now?

Flicking through the trashmags over breakfast this morning (hey, it was on the table, what am I going to do, get up and look for something else?), I noticed a story about one of the contestants on Australia's Next Top Model.

In essence, Cassi Van Den Dungen caused a little bit of an uproar in our shared home town of Sunbury, Victoria by describing it as ghetto - ok, like a ghetto. (Well, when I say grew up, I lived there till I was 15 - still waiting for test results to prove that I have actually grown up)

According to her fan site, in response to criticisms about her quick temper and bogan nature, she was reported to have said:

"Sunbury’s a good place to grow up in but if you get in with the wrong groups of people, it’s kind of like a ghetto for you."

The fan site goes on to helpfully explain that "The definition of a ghetto is “a slum area occupied by a particular group"."

Now my personal recollections of the place are of a relatively boganish outer outer suburban town - never anything quite so cool or urban as a ghetto but there you have it. (I should mention that I do like the fact that Sunbury is widely held to be the birthplace of The Ashes - the cricket match that prompted the burning of the bails signifying the death of English cricket was held there)

Anyway, blah blah blah, there was the usual town outrage she's since retracted her statement and apologised, all very soft and wussy.

Can I still be gangsta though?

Update: Just noticed the Herald Sun coverage of this story (yes it happened in late April, I'm surprising unworried that I haven't seen it until now) - their reader feedback is superb. They open it with the question: Do you think Cassi Van Den Dungen should continue to live in Sunbury? Let us know below.

(Cue invitation to run her out of town on a rail)

The deliciously bogan-named Shannyn of Digger's Rest chimes in with one of the more reasonable remarks

Yikes!!! Bec had the right idea. Why take a 16 year old seriously? This Cassi girl has done the right thing by getting her publicity, and in a couple of months when the show has finished, no-one will care about her. She'll have to deal with Sunbury when she (if she) comes back because everyone will know her face. THAT'S what I'll be waiting for - and boy will I be laughing my a** off. Posted by: Shannyn of Diggers Rest

And it just gets better from there.

Justin of Sunbury clearly has a few concerns/issues:

Actually... Sunbury is a HOLE, not a ghetto. Apart from the fantastic chicken kebabs at Cheeky's, there not much else going for this bloody boring place. The police are completely useless against moronic garage bands and late night party goers thanks to the molly coddling police ethic these days. They 'could' hand out $500 noise fines... but no. Idiots roam the streets at night smashing up street signs and petrol station signage. New graffiti replaces old as soon as it's cleaned up...and that's IF it's cleaned up. Residents keep voting for the same useless councilors over and over who do pretty much nothing to improve any of the problems because they prefer have group hugs with aimless youth than discipline them and they to pander to Hume/Broadmeadows rather than take care of business right here. There's even some crack head who likes diving into moving vehicles and damaging them


Why would a church make a video with someone wearing a t-shirt that says "Jesus is a c*nt"?

Possibly because they are everyone's favourite bat-shit insane church, the home of "God Hates Fags", the Westboro Baptist Church.

If you haven't already heard of them, the wikipedia link should give you some impression of their beliefs.

Or you could just watch their catchy rendition of their version of "We are the world" - titled "God hates the world". I still find it hard to believe that this isn't some kind of extreme Chaser style prank but it seems like these people are for real.

By the way, if you find yourself nodding your head or thinking "hey, these guys are on to something", you probably haven't read anything else on this blog (or, for that matter, in the bible)


Movie trailers recut David Lynch style

Found some very nice work on YouTube, sadly embedding is disabled but well worth a visit.

First up we have an outstanding glimpse at what Dirty Dancing might have looked like if DL had brought his freak to it. If David Lynch directed Dirty Dancing

This one,  Three Men and a baby - Lynch style, doesn't have a lot to it but is nicely done nonetheless.

And who wouldn't want to see David Lynch's Return of the Jedi


Finally Science comes up with something useful - the Comfort Wipe

A lot of people question the value of Twitter, seeing it as a series of meaningless vanity postings about someone's life - it really comes into it's own though when people share links.As far as I can see, the Comfort Wipe is a real product.

This one came from Clerks director Kevin Smith

His comments are the chocolate icing on the cake:


As a big fan of thorough ass-wiping, I'm thinking of getting: http://tinyurl.com/mkbe5q But is it a "fat guy" appliance? Is this giving up?


Am I hot or (gee, I wish I could think of a word that would fit there - Microsoft, can you help me?)

United States Patent Application 20090150203
Kind Code A1
Baudisch; Patrick ;   et al. June 11, 2009


Architecture for providing feedback to a viewer and/or contributor on fashion and other personal appearance decisions that the contributor desires. The contributor uploads self images for viewing and rating (or voting) by viewers who choose provide an opinion on different fashion and/or cosmetic looks of the contributor. The contributor takes images show the contributor presented with a number (e.g., two) of different fashion choices. The snapshots can then be processed for upload to a website or other accessible location by one or more viewers. The viewers can cast a vote for one of the images by selecting the desired image, in response to which the viewer and/or contributor will be presented with overall statistics for that set of images as to how other viewers voted, as well as a next set of photos depicting the user in a different fashion and/or cosmetic choice. This process can continue until terminated.

 According to this US Patent application, Microsoft just invented Am I Hot Or Not?

In December 2007. 

Yeah that'll stick. 

(And corporations wonder why average people laugh at copyright)


Banksy - the gallery show

This looks great - a few pieces remind me other other work (Tweety looks like something by Patricia Piccinini and the Ice Cream van echoes a piece from a Sydney sculpture comp a few years back) but hey, that's art for you.


The Paradise Motel - Back in town.

The Paradise Motel are one of my all time favourite bands - lush (some may say sumptuous) swirling guitar rock with a melancholy pop twinge, fronted by one of the most haunting female vocalists I've ever heard in Merida Sussex.

I saw these guys supporting the Dirty 3 at the Plaza Ballroom, a magical space beneath the Regent Theatre all done up like some kind of fairytale. (Also the first smoke-free gig I'd been to - the restoration of the space had just been finished and they didn't want it getting all dirtied up). I still rank this as one of my best gigs ever.

Very happy to read this morning while idly wondering whatever happened to Merida that they have reformed and recorded a new album, release date as yet unknown.

This clip for one of the songs though suggests that they are back in form - and I was particularly happy to note that it is set in Burnley St, Richmond (95% sure), not far from my old house.

Welcome back guys.

There's also some Paradise Motel spin-off news - a new Melbourne "supergroup" - Lee Memorial

The new band from Karl Smith of Sodastream. Off the album The Lives Of Lee Memorial released on Dot Dash and featuring Laura MacFarlane from Ninety Nine, Tom Lyngcoln the guitarist from Nation Blue and Matt Bailey former bass player with The Paradise Motel.


I'm sure it's stupid but I still want to see it - Mega shark vs Giant octopus

Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus is a real film starring Lorenzo (Renegade) Lamas and Debbie (sorry Deborah) Gibson.

I'm hoping they play it perfectly straight down the line serious and don't try to be funny. Either way, I'm sure that it can't be half as good as the trailer but I'd still watch it.


Farewell Frankenstein

Frankenstein! Frankenstein the legend, Frankenstein the indestructible! Sole survivor of the titanic pile-up of '95, only two-time winner of the Transcontinental Road Race... Frankenstein! Ripped up, wiped out, battered, shattered, creamed, and reamed... a dancer on the brink of death... Frankenstein, who lost a leg in '98, an arm in '99! With half a face and half a chest, and all the guts in the world.

Other people might laud the recently departed David Carradine for his name-making role as Caine in the tv series Kung Fu or for his recent come-back as Bill (in Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2) but it was his work in Death Race 2000 that I like him most for.

According to the internets, it seems as though it could well have been auto-erotic asphyxiation that killed Carradine (a much cooler term than "tragic wanking accident"), in a weird way I kind of hope it was. The alternative, suicide, is just a bit too much of a bummer.
Anyways, thanks David, you were tops


Not the best photoshop job I've seen but you've got to love a LOLcat starring Noam Chomsky
Thanks Internetz


The Chaser or The Chafer?

The Chaser boys have set up the jump ramp over the shark tank and are revving the motorcycle while Pinky Truscadero looks on in horror.

Maybe I'm wrong but it seems to me that they are desperately trying to land some lucrative overseas sales (or move altogether), which is why they have prepackaged so much content from their individual world tours last year. They hold onto these clips for dear life in the hope that something vaguely relevant pops up that justifies playing them. (This also means that they don't have to do as much work week to week preparing content that is actually topical)

I thought the sick kids sketch was the highlight last night of a pretty thin show. I've definitely seen that Oscar movie sketch done (better) elsewhere and I thought that the bored expression on the cops face at Buckingham Palace said it all. His comments about them going away if he gives them the punchline they so clearly wanted so they could get some laughs for their show were pure pwnage. (Points to the team for including them).

The Fritzl sketch was outrage for outrage's sake - way to stick it to a girl who was imprisoned in a basement for decades, raped repeatedly and made to bear children to her demented father. That'll show her. Seriously guys, satire is really meant to stick it to the powerful. Inbreeding and incest is funny (wrong but funny) when it's consensual but this just wasn't cool and seemed a lot more like callous attention seeking.

Generally speaking, the skits where you pick on poor schmucks working in shops or dumb vox popees on the street are similarly weak and paint you as self important tossers. I'll admit that I laughed when you did the whole bandit/stocking mask thing last season but when I think about it, those poor shopkeepers didn't deserve that kind of fright just for turning up to work.

How about trying a little harder to be funny (like the original newspaper) and a little less hard to be the naughty attention seeking boys sticking it to soft (and dated) targets.

Interestingly, it seems like the sick kids sketch - The make a realistic wish foundation - is the one that has got the Limited News media all upset.

Viewers swamped the ABC's switchboard with complaints after The Chaser's War On Everything skit called "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation", the Daily Telegraph reports.

Chaser members Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor asked actors playing terminally ill children what they wished for.

One girl's wish was to meet Hollywood teen heartthrob Zac Efron, but instead she was handed a stick by Taylor who tells the camera, "why go to any trouble when they're going to die anyway".

Taylor went on to say the foundation's aim was to help "thousands of kids to lower their extravagance and selfishness in the face of death".

Update: Evidently my keen eye for outrage has failed me again and it is indeed the "Make a realistic wish foundation" sketch that has stirred everyone up, to the point that they have issued an apology and are cutting the sketch from a repeat of the show this even.

Sure, sick kiddies are poor taste but I still can't help feeling that the Fritzl sketch was worse.


I thought I'd coined a new word but Google told me I was wrong

The new word?

Mehtitude - feeling meh about things

At present there are 414 other instances of this word listed in Google. Oh well, meh.

Gillette: Because every man should look like a 10 year old boy

The most disturbing part of this video is that the guy appears to have accidently cut his penis off and hasn't yet noticed.


Total Eclipse of the...WTF - Arthur Fonzarelli has an army of clones

I have blogged about the literal music videos created by Dust films previously, but I have to mention this particular effort from dascottjr, it's his take on Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.

I still have tears at the corners of my eyes from one viewing of this clip - they have done some incredibly beautiful work here. Kudos.

Ok, here's another - the literal version of The Beatle's Penny Lane.


ZOMG!!1! - Two movies I want to see in one day

This is a very nice job from secretsaucetv

New from the writer/director of Brick - The Brothers Bloom

Brick was easily one of the coolest films that I saw in 2005 - a clever suburban film noir set in an American high school. It gets extra cool points because most people have never heard of it and my knowledge of it therefore makes me superior :)

Seeing the "from the writer/director of Brick" at the head of the ad for The Brothers Bloom was all I needed to mentally add it to my mental must see list. All I know is what I have seen in the trailer - and that's pretty well all I want to know.

It's a con-artist movie with some amusing slap-stick moments and what appears to be a big bucket of style.


Playing Plants Vs Zombies - from an educational perspective.

Casual gaming wunderkinds Popcap have just released their latest game, Plants Vs Zombies.

It takes the classic Tower Defense game mechanism of placing a variety of offensive and defensive objects in a space to prevent enemies from making it all the way through your space to your house. In this instance, it pits cutesy (but not sickeningly so) plants - including energy generating sunflowers, potato landmines, pea-shooting vines and obstacle providing walnuts against a horde of increasingly difficult (yet lovable) zombies. This video gives a sense of the aesthetics of the game.

Popcap are also the producers of smash-hit casual games including Bejeweled and Peggle, so they know a thing or two about casual games.

The success of casual games, particularly among non-gamers, is something that educators interested in using games in learning should give close attention. From my experiences - including a moment of "where did the last two hours go?" last night playing Plants vs Zombies - the core elements of good casual gaming are a simple interface, comfortable learning curve, regular rewards and pleasant aesthetics.

All of the Popcap games that I have played involve the player using one button - left mouse click. When you look at "hardcore" cames - particularly in the Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Role Playing Game (RPG) genres, it is possible to have different actions mapped to the majority of keys on the keyboard. Clearly a fairly daunting entry point to someone not familiar with gaming controls and conventions. Even the consoles (Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) have around 12 -15 usable buttons on their controllers. (The Wii on the other hand has 2 or 3 in most games - and leads the console market on sales by a wide margin).

In Plants Vs Zombies, you have a front yard which is 9x5 squares. You click one of a range of plants in a top menu and click again to place it on the lawn. From here, it's largely a matter of managing resources and adapting your plant placement to the oncoming zombie hordes.

The learning curve is gentle - each level introduces another fundamental element of the game and gives you an opportunity to succeed with it before adding another element - be that a new type of plant weapon or a new, tougher zombie. This reinforces prior learning experiences and adds a need to continually learn new skills. The increasing challenge keeps you engaged and motivated and new weapons/obstacles provide new forms of entertaining feedback. These are the first two levels and a later one, which show you how the gameplay evolves.

Regular rewards are another key element of casual games - these don't have to be big things, just pleasing aesthetic elements such as score boosts, cute noises and perhaps most satisfying so far in this particular game is the whump of an exploding potato landmine and the mound of mashed potatoes (and zombie) it leaves behind. (In a cute way, of course). Games such as Peggle are much more demonstrative in this regard, flashing and dinging almost like a pinball machine with virtually any successful action and offering praise and reinforcement for positive player actions. (Perhaps a little behaviourist but it's hard to argue with the success of the game). An interesting story that came out of the initial playtesting of Peggle is that players who were initially "meh" about the game found it much more engaging when the points values of their rewards had a few zeros added to the end, making them seem more valuable.

The aesthetics of the PopCap games are generally pleasing to the eye, bright (but not to bright) colours and cheery (but not annoying) music and sound effects. These clearly mark the experience as one of play rather than work and I feel that they tap directly into the need for escapism that brings people to these games.

Not all of these thing will work in educationally oriented games but in terms of creating a space that is welcoming to new gamers and which provides motivation, it is hard to see a better approach.


Have I mentioned recently that Skynet is here?

Yes, my mildly disconcerting obsession with our future robot overlords continues.

This time it is a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that can be picked up for between $900 and $5000 (U.S) which can carry a number of different types of video cameras and which is flown remotely by someone wearing video glasses that see exactly what the Draganfly sees.

(I am thinking how awesome it could be to have one of these for shooting movies)


Yet another reason why Firefox is best - Hyperwords

The astonishingly awesome Stephen Fry mentioned his love of Firefox add-on Hyperwords in a tweet this morning and I have to say that it's easily the coolest add-on I've seen since Ubiquity.

Nifty, no?


The coloured waterfall of the office

I could be the killjoy lefty who bemoans the pointless waste of natural resources that this represents but it's also very pretty, so I'll let it pass. It's also conceivable that they are still usable.

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.


Dashing* towards the Script Frenzy deadline

*By dashing I am referring to my hopes and dreams.

Ok, so unless I start typing in my sleep, it's fairly unlikely that I'm going to knock out the 80+ pages remaining to be scripted in my magnum opus for Script Frenzy by the end of the month.

Script Frenzy is a month long screenplay writing exercise intended to get dusty screenplays out of drawers (real or mental) and onto paper.

In spite of my failure to get the writing done, I'm actually feeling pretty good about the work that I have managed to get done over the last 28 days.

I have completely reshaped the story behind the first draft of the script that I put together, incorporating virtually all of the good ideas I've had in the last #cough11yearscough#.

I've learnt how to use a very nifty piece of screenwriting shareware called Celtx that has freed me from the onerous script formatting conventions and I've also (eventually) got a sense of the best way for me to work on my writing. (Funnily enough, it's not a million miles away from the process that I developed to write uni essays over the last two years. I just need to develop a process for actually staying put in my seat during writing time now.)

All in all, it's coming together. I have a nagging suspicion that this draft will come in at somewhere around 3 hours long and with a $100 million budget, but that's for the producer to worry about, right?


Taking the spycam pen for the bikeride

A few lessons learnt from this - the pannier clips on the front of the bike are at more of an angle than I thought and the noise of the rubber hitting the road is surprisingly loud. The camera also appears to quit after 30 mins filming, which is good to know.

Anyway, this is the first 30 mins of the ride (which is approx 45 mins), compressed to a bit over 3 mins. (Which by rudimentary mathematics suggests that this is what it might look like if/when I ride my bike at 200km/h.

(Oh and the music in the clip is just some generic production music from the Ulead video editing software package)


Nice and elevating - Lost Generation

I'm not normally one to post motivational/inspirational stuff - indeed I'm far more comfortable cynically decrying it - but I was quite taken with this short video. It's a remake of an Argentinian political advertisement called "The Truth" by RECREAR and was placed second in the AARP U@50 video contest.

It's only about 2 minutes but has to be watched right to the end. 

(Thanks to Sue at work for sending this around)


Whatchootalkinbout? Mr Drummond gets creepy

Fantastic example of how much different music can make to setting the mood. I know find the opening credits of Diff'rent Strokes entirely unsettling - thanks Internetz


The most awesome fun ever - indoor skydiving

No doubt this guy is a seriously practiced professional indoor skydiving and a schmuck like you or I would spend the majority of our time slamming into the glass walls at the side, but how much would you like to find out?

It truly is a golden age that we live in.


I am not an upskirter

I got a little geeky yesterday when a gadget arrived for me in the post - it's a spypen - the MP9 Digital Video Pocket Recorder to be precise.

It came from gadget-bargain-a-day site Zazz.com.au and cost around $30 if memory serves.

The picture quality is surprisingly good, considering that it comes from a lens no bigger than the head of a pin. (That's it above the metal clip in the picture above). This clip was the first thing I filmed - it's a little all over the shop but gives some idea of the image.

The sound is a little problematic and appears to have gotten a tiny bit worse in subsequent filming but I think that running it through some audio software might help.

It connects to the computer using an inbuilt USB connection.

What I find most interesting is that the first reaction of the first two guys I showed it to was "oh, upskirting"
Not in a "that's a good idea" way or an "I assume that is what you got it for" way - at least I hope not, as the thought had and has never crossed my mind - I guess these kinds of gadgets have different associations than my somewhat naive mind gives them.

I just asked a female friend of mine what she would think if I told her I got a pen/spy camera and she was simply unsurprised - no aspersions cast at all. (She did also think about people cheating in exams but that's an occupational thing)

So maybe there's hope for me yet.


Me fail English - that's unpossible

(Click image for full size version)

Thanks to Matt for this one.

This is apparently an ad in South Africa.

It's like the Internetz heard my prayers

One of my first tweets (twits?) this morning told me that The Onion has put Close Range - The Game up online. (They're also selling a poster but I'm not that crazy about it)

It plays pretty well exactly as you would expect, with some great cutscenes to expand on the story in between.

As I played it, I was fully aware of how disturbed it was and what it says about our society but I couldn't help smiling. 

Hooray for the Internetz


Protest drummer get theirs

I realise that I might as well just turn this blog into a direct link to The Onion but this story appealed to me far more than it probably should. (I can't stand hippy drummers)

I know they're mocking me but I don't care.

The Onion folks have this nifty video up taking the piss out of videogames and gamers but I don't care, it's pretty funny and a small part of me still wants to play this game.  Hasta la vista, pony.

Hot New Video Game Consists Solely Of Shooting People Point-Blank In The Face


Oh dear

Update: Apparently this was an April Fools joke - nice story though.


Good deeds

It's probably just the tiredness talking but if a complete stranger does you a good deed, without being asked, does it take something away from them to give them a reward?

I mean, if someone does something because it's the right thing to do (and perhaps also they get to feel like a good person) and then you give them something for doing it, does it create a hidden subtext that the receiver assumes they did it for gain - even if this isn't the case?

To get a little less abstract, I took $500 out of the ATM at the Canberra mall this afternoon - or rather I asked the ATM for that money and then in the middle of the transaction it flashed up a "Can't issue receipt, do you wish to continue?" message.

I said, yeah, sure, just display the balance on the screen afterwards. Now apparently this is some kind of funky whiz-bang silent ATM because I didn't get the whoosh whoosh whoosh sound of the money being dispensed, just a display on the screen that said account balance $168.

Now I've been juggling money around between accounts in the last few days so I assumed that this was the machine telling me that I didn't have sufficient funds for that withdrawal and to go away. Not entirely sure why I thought this but there was a queue behind me and I figured that I'd just do my shopping on the other card, that I must have transferred this money to instead.

Twenty minutes later, heading away from the counter at JB Hifi, some bloke stops me and asks if I was just using the ATM. I had no idea what I had done so I said yes, waiting for enlightenment. He paused for a while - I guess he was trying to make sure that I was the right guy - and asked me if I had completed my transaction.

Suddenly the penny drops and I realise that I've just left $500 sitting in an ATM and presumably this guy has it. So I tell my story and after a few moments he opens his wallet and starts counting out the cash. (Knowing how much money it was meant to be was a help to me here I'm guessing).

I am feeling so relieved and grateful at this time that I tell him that he can keep 50, figuring that if it wasn't for him that I would be out 500 bucks having 450 is a whole lot better than that.

He asked a few times if I was sure and mentioned that he was just trying to do the right thing. Anyway, he took (and I was happy for him to have it) but now I'm wondering if that might have cheapened the moment for him a little.

Oh well.

How do you defend yourself against a man with two dildoes?

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Borat when it came out so I'm holding more hope out for Sacha Baron Cohen's new film Bruno

I actually get the feeling that this isn't one of those trailers that gives away every good joke in the film (a rare occurrence these days)

We don't want zombies on the lawn

Coming soon from Popcap, the insanely successful developers of casual games like Bejewelled and Peggle, is Plants vs Zombies.

It looks somewhat like a Tower Defense style game, where you add different sorts of cannons and other weapons to a winding path that advancing enemy hordes stream down but who can say for sure.

All I know is that they have a hella catchy promotional music video which is rather cute (and features zombies with butter on their head)


Computer says we're doomed

Terminator over-watcher that I am, I like to keep an eye on our robotic and computational friends for signs of imminent uprising and Judgement day.

The top entries on my feedreader this morning didn't exactly fill me with confidence.

(Click image for full size version)

Two separate instances of robots and computers learning things under their own steam. Riiight.

And by the way, what is going on with the Google ads - are they being written by neo-cons now?
Two stories about President Obama and in the same space, two ads for the National Security Hotline - dob in a terrorist service.

Implying much?

A what-now peeler?

(Kudos to Shane for tweeting this when it first happened and leading the way to the Facebook group dedicated to this moment)

3.6 pages in the red and counting

(Image by Aaardvaark )

Got up early this morning and managed to write 3 fairly decent pages. 3 handwritten pages anyway - not really sure how this will translate to typed pages but I'm hoping it's around 1:1.

I've had a few realisations about my writing - I'm better than I was afraid I would be, I can be a somewhat twisted motherfrakker at times and so far I have struggled to write a line of dialogue without a "fucken" in it. (In fairness, pretty well all of these were justified by the action).

Where previously I would write ideas down and almost always pop a question mark after them, when ideas are coming to me now, I'm tossing them in to see where they might lead.

I have only a scant idea as to what the next scene is but I'm on the way and feeling a little buzzed about it.

(Ooh and I just found an image of self-bite wounds on a cockatoo, which may actually be kind of useful)


3.3 pages in the red and counting

It's now been around 11 or 12 years since I completed the first draft of my zombie movie screenplay (working title Boonsville) and I'm thinking that I've now had (way more than) enough time for new ideas to percolate and mature.

Enter Script Frenzy

This is a month-long writing activity, brought to you by the people behind NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which is intended to provide the impetus for people (such as myself) to blow the dust off old ideas (or bring forth new ones) and write one hundred pages of script by the end of the month.

By my calculations, this means 3.33 pages per day.

I did take a look at some of my notebooks yesterday in search of ideas that I've jotted down over the intervening years but didn't quite get to writing anything.

I must admit that I'm rather terrified of this process, particularly the possibility that in spite of the plethora of brilliant ideas I have and the artistic vision, it will come out rather crap,

Just need to keep remembering that this is only a second draft, each draft gets easier and good films often run through 20 or 30 drafts.


Inappropriate for the workplace

I'm wearing a black t-shirt inside out today.

I hadn't intended to wear it inside out but faced with a choice between that or my sweaty bikeride-to-work top, this is the better option.

This is what it looks like around the right way.

Now personally, I think that this image is a celebration of a woman's right to celebrate the more sexual side of life - it was a gift from a (female) friend who went to (and loved) a Peaches concert a few years back.

Funnily enough though, it's not considered "appropriate" in a snaggy PC ACT public service workplace - and in fairness, on first glance without understanding the underpinning philosophy, I admit it could be confronting or discomfiting to some.

So I'm wearing it inside out to play nice and counting how many people notice. (Just one so far)

Ironically, the tshirt that I thought I had grabbed and which I had considered appropriate enough, had this rather grotesque depiction of a slobbering diseased heavy metal looking fly.

Go figure. 

Update: One of my cluey co-workers asked me if my t-shirt was inside out because there was something inappropriate on it - clever woman.


Hanging on The Wire

I came to The Wire a little late - the 5 series of this show had long finished by the time I found it but this kind of works for me anyway as it makes it available to pick up a season and plough through it in big slabs, without having to wait for the next episode. (This has its own excitement - the current season of Battlestar Galactica for instance, but waiting is so 20th century)

Last night I finished watching season 3 and while I've been hugely impressed with the show since the start (seriously from the first episode), I hit a new point last night where I thought to myself, this is actually better than Goodfellas.

TV has the advantage of being able to take its time in developing stories and characters, dropping tiny details here and there that form a full, rich viewing experience. The Wire brings this like virtually no programme I have seen before (and you'd better believe I've watched my share of good tv).

The show itself is a gritty cop show set in Baltimore. This description alone was enough to provoke a big Meh in me the first few times I heard/read people raving about it but the chorus of raves grew louder and louder (particularly from British TV critic Charlie Brooker) and eventually I grabbed a copy and checked it out.

From the first episode I knew that this show was something special. It drops you right into the middle of the police department (and the corresponding ghetto drug trade), they're all doing their thing and speaking their fairly distinctive jargon heavy language and you are expected to keep up. The writing is sharp and intelligent and most importantly, it's real.

The characters are the real core of the show - there isn't anyone who gets more than half a dozen lines that you don't feel some measure of sympathy towards and interest in and they all behave like real people.

Rather than focus on crime of the week, The Wire tells a story (or rather several stories) across the span on a whole series. You get the perspective of the crims, the cops and some of the people living on the periphery of these worlds. From Bubs, the hapless but likable junky informant to Omar, the ultra-cool robber of dealers, from McNulty, the talented and slightly self-destructive detective to Stringer Bell, the sharp, business studying head of the dealing operation - everyone has a life and a soul.

There's a lot of twisting and turning in the story so I'm not going to dig into that but each season is underpinned by a theme/location - the housing projects in the first, the docks and the wharf unions in the second and city hall/politics in the third. (This is nicely reflected in tweaks to the opening titles each season) This included a serious examination of the drug war as a whole, including a possibly quasi-legalisation scenario that played out over most of the series.

It also maintains its own universe - there was a nice moment in the last episode last night where a guy (nearly said who but avoiding spoilers) threw some guns off the pier and a faded election poster for one of the main union characters from season 2 flapped sadly on a pole - just for a second but long enough.

As I mentioned at the start, I'm no huge fan of cop shows but The Wire is so much more than that - it truly does deserve the critical acclaim.

(And oh yeah, it's an HBO series as well, so you know it brings the awesome)

Here are a couple of clips, including a funny one where Bunk and McNulty examine a crime scene using only swear words.


Treating my inner child

I've been in the mood for a little retail therapy this weekend, I wasn't planning on any big purchases, just a few trivial items to give me the economy a little boost.

I had read on my favourite tightwad site, Economical Gamer, that JB HiFi will be running a "trade in 2 DS games, get GTA:Chinatown Wars free" deal, which ties nicely with the fact that Game has a sale of old crappy DS games at $8 a pop, giving me a $50 game I was bound to buy anyway for $16. (Just like hunting, isn't it)

So with that and the need to pick up some new tubes for the pushbike (oh and food and stuff), I set off for Canberra Mall.

Cruising around JB though, I came upon this baby, which pretty well leapt out and started begging in a childlike whine to come home with me. After all, here we have zombies (tick), a big fake gun (tick) and shooting virtual stuff (tick), all wrapped up in a sleazy 70s style exploitation film style video game. (tick and tick).

I remember playing the original House of the Dead game in the arcades, back in the day - they did a nice job of hyping it up by having the playing area/screen covered up by a curtained off area that you had to step into - such was the horror and gore of the gaming experience. The game itself was fun enough, a zombie killing rail shooter (you don't control where you move in the game space, just where you shoot) and it had a nice line in badly translated Japanese dialogue.

This spun off to Typing of the Dead, which replaced the guns with a keyboard and had you quickly type words at attacking zombies in an oddly effective typing practice exercise.

Anyway, I haven't even played this game yet, I've just been impressed enough with the peripheral - which actually feels pretty good in the hand - and the box it came in.

The House of the Dead Overkill also has some nice functionality, including a poster generator that I used to put this baby together. (click for full sized version)

Guess I should go and have a play now.

Pew pew pew urrrrhhhhhh

Update: That should probably be POW POW POW

And man, that gun gets heavy after a while - two handed grip is definitely the way to go. Music is very 70s exploitation funky cool though and shooting zombies is rather satisfying. I have died a few times already though, so better get some practice in before the (real-world) inevitable zombie apocalypse


Wondering if Ed will sing Weeping Song with Nick

Old news to some no doubt but a few weeks ago I heard that Ed Kuepper is joining the Bad Seeds, replacing the recently quit Mick Harvey. (Me fail English? That's unpossible)

I've been a fan of both outfits since I was a (relatively) little tacker and so I'm pretty interested to see how this will all play out - particularly if it brings a little of the Kuepper deep north gothic sound to the band.

It's a little unclear as to whether this is just for the tours over the European Summer season or a longer term thing but I'd love to hear a version of the Weeping Song with Ed taking Blixa's place in the duet. (Who has been singing that since then, by the way?)



How to jump off a cliff and live

A few weekends ago, on a damp afternoon in the late summer, I jumped off a tall cliff over the sea north of Wollongong.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I guess it was probably more like running off the cliff but jumping off a cliff sounds better - judge for yourself whether it was a run or a jump.

Anyways, either way, this was one of the great moments of my life and the fulfillment of a childhood dream. As I was growing up, Dad worked for TAA/Qantas and one of the perks of this was a fair amount of air travel and trips to the airport as a kid. He also had a fair interest in planes as a hobby so we'd regularly trundle around to various airshows (most commonly the Easter airshow at Mangalore, near Seymour) to take photos and watch the spectacle.

Undoubtably this left its mark on me but my own love of watching birds soaring led me to an interest in what seemed a purer form of flight and a more absolute form of freedom - non-powered flight.

I don't know when I first saw hang gliders but I remember being blown away that this was something that people could do as well.

The first book I read about this sport was the tale of an Aussie guy called Wayne Blackmore who got into Hang gliding in the 70s - he had actually paralysed himself in an accident while flying rudimentary man-sized kite that he had built himself a about a week after I was born (not that the two events were connected) and then pursued his interest in the sport a few years later when friends introduced him to proper gliders in the U.S. (He went on to become a leading figure in the sport in Australia)

The fact that I wasn't the least bit put off by the fact that my role model in this was a paraplegic gives some indication of the interest I had in soaring with the birds.

Of course, life gets in the way of these dreams sometimes and it took a while longer to get up in the air than I had expected.

Fast forward to late Feb, 2009.

It had taken several months to organise a good flying day - hang gliding is heavily dependent upon getting good winds and the people I flew with (HangglideOz) are based around Stanwell Park, north of Wollongong - a 2 to 3 hour drive from Canberra. The routine involved booking a flight on a weekend (the tandem flight was a gift from the PC so I wanted her to be there for it - and potentially to collect my shattered bones) and then calling first thing in the morning to see if the weather was right. (And was likely to still be right when I got up there in a few hours time)

Even on the clifftop (Bald Hill), there was a waiting game to be played. It was a slightly drizzly sort of a day (though with good winds) and evidently flying through rain isn't particularly fun, so a few brief squalls had to pass before getting up in the sky.

You fly wearing a sleeping bag type contraption, tightly strapped in to the frame of the glider, that allows you to tuck your feet into the bottom in the air. It was snug but reassuringly so.

The experience of standing near the edge of the cliff, strapped into the glider and pushed up close to Jim, the nuggety American pilot, wasn't a frightening one at all. The wind was whooshing up the cliff face and I could feel it trying to pull the glider off the ground already and after a lifetime of waiting, I just wanted to get out there amongst it.

The closer we got to the edge, the more it pushed up until we were just out in the beautiful empty space. There are handles on either side of the pilot's flight suit to hold on to - not so much holding onto the a-frame controls as I'd expected but given that these are the controls, that makes a certain amount of sense.

Jim kept up a stream of informative chat about flying, what we were doing at any point and the area in general - I don't think I've ever asked so many questions

The experience was interesting in that for most of the time, I didn't really have a sensation of being high in the air - the glider felt so solid in the air that it was only when we suddenly dived for a little extra speed or ran into the wake of another glider in the sky that there was even that much of a sensation of movement. (Yeah, gliders leave wakes just like boats - something I'd never thought of before). It was much more like everything was just moving beneath us.

Turning was a little like this as well - you swing yourself a little to one side of the glider to dip the wing enough to start the turn then quickly swing the other way to stop the wing dipping any further. When the turn is done, swing the other way to even out the wings.

After a little while in the air, I got to have a go at this and think I did pretty well, if I do say so myself.

The view was what I had only been able to imagine - truly the birds-eye experience. Flying around the densely wooded bushland cliffs (it really is a beautiful area up around there), I was surprised at the number of car bodies littered the area - dumped over the side for the most part and never visible but from this perspective. It wasn't really that different from the view you get a few minutes before landing in a standard plane, just much more interesting scenery and at a much more leisurely pace. (Also with that same kind of 360 perspective that you get on a bicycle as opposed to the boxy window based view in a car/plane)

The landing was equally smooth - just a few gentle swooping turns taking you lower and lower to the beach/park and then pushing the nose right up at the last second to slow you down to a stall, plopping you gently down. (Seriously just like the way birds land). Being a little taller than the pilot and possibly slightly out of position, I took a small whack in the face from the control a-frame thing but this couldn't get past the joy of the whole experience.

Next stop is presumably to go through the whole process of getting a student license, which is a few weeks of daily flying and lessons - and around $2000+. From there, a basic glider is probably another $5000, so this probably won't happen super soon but a lot sooner than the first flight.


Very cool notes stuck on things in Windsor, Melbourne

Found this originally on Digg, linked to from imageshack
(Click image twice to see full sized version)


I'm really not sure where to start with this - man sprays poo perfume

This story on the ABC website caught my eye -

Man guilty of spraying own faeces in English shops

An Algerian chemist has been found guilty of spraying English shops with a vile-smelling cocktail of his own faeces and urine.

Sahnoun Daifallah, 42, blasted the shelves in two stores with litres of the concoction, squirted it in a pub and drenched the children's literature section in a bookstore.

It goes on to say that when he was caught, Daifallah "claimed someone else was responsible for the spraying".

Clearly this guy has some psych issues but a small part of me does like the sound of this as a somewhat disproportional revenge technique. (Does that make me evil?)


Some nice wordplay

This is a few years old but it is still pretty clever.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to
take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or
changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that
stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately,
shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the
purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders
the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit
and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are
running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got
extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off
all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes
and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the
day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12 Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem
smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just
after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets
into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a
grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.


John Turturro talks about playing Jesus in The Big Lebowski

This guy is one of my favourite actors of all time - this clip put him up into the most awesome list as well

That's some nice subtitling there

There have been hundreds of Downfall videos now but I love the way this one sticks it to the grammar nazis

From the same guy, finally a translation of R2D2s blips and bleeps.


Sony releases some new useless crap

This is a pretty cool (and expletive filled) clip from The Onion - which is funny if you've ever argued with a piece of technology over whether it should be working or not

Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work


I gots myself published

I had a little rave here the other day about the practice of poopsocking, which I also submitted to the Screenplay blog in The Age newspaper in Melbourne as a column.

Days and days passed and I figured that it was too low-brow for such an esteemed organ but I checked the blog today and lo and behold, there it was.



Christian Bale - the tyrade remix

So the perpetually ADD Internet is all in a tizz about Christian (Batman, John Connor, Patrick Bateman) Bale cracking it with a DOP on the set of the new Terminator movie. (Note to self, if you are going to arc up at someone, probably best not to do it around a tonne of sound equipment)

Now I have read commentary that is pretty critical of said tanty throwing star but I'm not without sympathy.

Imagine that you are trying to get into character in a movie set in a world where killer robots are constantly trying to, well, kill you and they have wiped out virtually all of humanity. Add to this the fact that you can see that these robots actually look, you know, kind of crappy (yet to be digitally awesomed up) and some guy who should know better is wandering about where he shouldn't be, putting you off your game.

The fact is that while he does rant on a little while (and amusingly his accent drops back to its original Welsh), he just seems genuinely pissed off that he's not getting his work done. It's not like he's cracking the sads about being given the wrong colour M&Msafter all.

There's also something very Homer Simpsonesque about the over the top sarcastic voice that he puts on during parts of the rant, right down to the la-di-da-di-da part. Who can really hate someone who sounds like Homer?

Or maybe I have a little too much tension brewing up inside and I'm just a little envious that I never really get to full on vent at anyone when they piss me off .

Anyways, as is the Internetz way, a remix has appeared of the rant, which is kind of cool.


Wrapping up Monday Sunset

Well it's been a few years now that I've been sharing my taste in tunes with the 2XXfm Canberra listening public (yep, both of them) on a Monday afternoon but just like the Bush presidency, all things must come to an end.

Time pressures from work and my growing need to get things done, as well as a growing feeling of meh to the whole superstar DJ thing, mean that I'm packing up the cds and giving it a rest for a while.

There have been three things that I've hoped to do with my time on the radio - play great tracks (old and new), show people that there are nuggets of goodness in all types of music (beyond the ongoing banality of 99% of top 40 tunage) and hopefully turn people on to new artists (and old ones that they've never heard of).

This was one of the great things about growing up in Melbourne, the alternative/community radio scene. RRR and PBS particularly exposed me to a whole new world of sound and I hope that in some small way I've been able to do the same for someone else.

The tracks today are a selection of some favourites I've played over the years and cover some of my strange obsessions - covers, mashups, passion, humour, nerdiness, rawk as well as a focus on ensuring that female artists are reasonably well represented.

If you've been listening, thanks - I hope you've enjoyed it.

Free Way    Beaches    Beaches    4:09
It's Fun To Smoke Dust (Queen vs. Pastor Gary Greenwald vs. Midfield General)    Lobsterdust    Best of Bootie 2008    4:18
Believe In Sexual Eruption (Snoop Dogg vs. Cher)    A Plus D    Best of Bootie 2008    4:42
The Night I Couldn't Stop Crying    The Devastations    Coal    4:59
Down With Prince    Hot Chip    Coming On Strong    3:18
Iron Man    The Cardigans    Covers    4:19
Hello, I Love You    The Cure    Covers    3:28
Common People    William Shatner    Covers    4:41
Better Go Home Now    Dirty Three    Dirty Three    3:43
Wired For Sound    B(if)tek    2020    3:52
The Minotaur    The Drones    Havilah    3:26
Quick Way To Hell    The Fuelers    Hot Dang    3:43
Highway 61 Revisited    Karen O & The Million Dollar Bashers    I'm Not There [Disc 1]    3:59
Still Alive    Portal    The Orange Box    2:56
Talking Lion Blues    C.W. Stoneking    Jungle Blues    4:34
New Day Of The Dead    Beasts Of Bourbon    Little Animals    5:18
Sandman    Tex Perkins And His Ladyboyz    No 1's and No 2's    3:55
Butterfly    Baterz    Out of Hell    3:46
Revolution Get Down    The BellRays    The Red White & Black    2:41
Ford Mustang    Mick Harvey    Intoxicated Man    2:18
Etwas Neues    The Bites    White lines and runways    2:55
7 Sisters    Wild Pumpkins At Midnight    The Secret Of The Sad Tree    3:04
Popcorn    Hot Butter    Single    2:33
Needles & Pins    Ramones    Anthology    2:24
Fell In Love With A Girl    The White Stripes    White Blood Cells    1:50


Learning about Poopsocking

I've been to LAN parties, I've seen (and smelt) things you wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. The tangy aroma of the sweat of 150 man-boys scoffing burger rings in a poorly ventilated room, warmed by the fires of uninterruptible power supplies.
In spite of this however, I never really thought that I would come across a piece of information that would dramatically shift my generally favourable view of gamers until I discovered the existence of a single word - poopsocking.

According to Urbandictionary.com, poopsocking is:

Defacating into a sock in order to avoid having to get up from your computer to use the toilet. Often utilized when playing online role playing games.
John was poopsocking all the way to level 60 this weekend.

I happened across this term in an article about gamers on techradar linking game playing to poor (off-line) relationships and higher levels of drug use. It just popped up in a subheading (Pot smoking and poop socking) and wasn't actually referred to but it was an odd enough term to merit further investigation.

After I finished laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes, I realised that for a term to have been coined for it, people must actually do this - and not just a few but enough that it isn't necessarily considered entirely freaky.

I remember a few years ago, back when Crown Casino in Melbourne opened and stories leaked out (sorry) about gamblers pissing under the poker/blackjack etc tables. Not surprisingly, being a bit of a hater of the casino at the time, I found this kind of hilarious. Sad and desparate but hilarious. Pissing under the table - gross as it is, pales in sadness to poop socking though because at least with the casino, these poor tragic gambling buggers are doing something that immediately affects their livelihood, rather than their e-peen

I thought this was the end of my morning's depravity lesson but the Internet had other plans.

I figured that a picture of a brown sock would be a nice illustration for this post, so I googled Brown Sock.

Guess what the top entry was - again, a listing from urbandictionary.com.

1. brown sock

This is an especially cruel prank to play on somebody. Though there are few documented instances of somebody performing a brown sock attack, it has happened. Party A defecates into a large sock, preferably a tube sock. After the sock is weighted down with the fecies inside, Party A ties a knot near the secrtion of the sock that is occupied by the fecies. At this point, Party A proceeds to spin the sock around (holding it by the clean side of course) and smacks Party B (who is most likely drunk and/or passed out) across the face.

Though this assault is rarely painful, the ego of Party B will be severely bruised by this most unsanitary of pranks.

Yeah so Bob was being a dick the other day so I decided to give him a brown sock. When he wasn't looking I loaded up one of his tube socks and cracked him across the face with it. Oh the hilarity that ensued.

2. Brown Sock

An action taken to increase body heat in which Party A inserts their entire foot into the anus of Party B up to the ankle.
It was a cold night in Denver, so I brown socked Jill.

WTF is wrong with you people?