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I called in sick to work. I hate calling in sick. I like work!

Weird, huh?

I have been getting the sads again lately. This is something that almost never happens at work. I want to go to work.

But: mucous.

In completely unrelated news, I wrote a program that creates "poetry" with random substitution. It has several settings, including "angsty" and "erotic". Then I made it a twitter account, to post to, once a day: http://twitter.com/#!/Poetron4000

I am waiting to see which of the following happens first:
people stop following
I get bored

Anyways, that's your spam for today, people.
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I am sick and miserable.

I have also been attending compulsory job training, which mostly involves me sitting around and trying not to fall asleep or sneeze on anyone. Here is the most interesting thing I learned today: When asked what attribute mattered most when employing people, 66% of CEOs answered...

..wait for it....

....their "employability."

Wow, they sure have earned those golden handshakes. And that was the most interesting thing.

I have sneezed 27 times already whilst writing this.

To be fair, there was actual useful stuff about resumes yesterday.

In the future, people will record their whole lives. And at any time they will be able to push a button and a program will process the footage and edit it down to a 3 minute dubstep remix with autotuning. Or dub fart sounds to any bending-over footage. The future will not necessarily be better than now.
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5 minutes of internet left, and I am not at all caught up on all your posts, but I just thought I would let you all know that it is quite nice here, and I have mostly not gone insane. Miss you!
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My collection of books always ends up so much more ordered in boxes than it ever was on shelves. Of course, taxonomy pulls against physicality: Peake needs to go with Mieville, who needs to be housed with Gaiman, but do they fit?

And I'm about to run out of boxes...


Feb. 16th, 2011 05:01 pm
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Least was one of the first to go, or at least one of the first that people noticed. But most thought it a stunt.

Some of his own fans, shy young boys that only talked to their record collections and ran community radio shows, and a handful of old music industry veterans, were outraged that he had finally sold out. Others were just sad that he was gone.

Even when other Events started occurring, people remained suspicious. Most likely it was a new media marketing gimmick, some sort of high budget AR game. Some people who flagged this as unlikely were the AR gamers, who made an earnest effort to play it for several months but in the end could not find a single clue (although there were plenty of red herrings).

Further events were discovered, but remained for the time being unconnected in the public imagination.

On January the 2nd, 2013, a 16 year old girl with few friends visited a small art gallery in Boston, the main exhibit was hundreds of small, unglazed, ceramic birds. They came to life. Nobody saw what happened to the girl. The only witness to the miracle of the birds was the person who was looking after the gallery at the time, but he had a speech impediment, so the story did not make the national news. The birds had flown away or otherwise disappeared, leaving only a few impossibly delicate feathers made of clay.

She left her ipod behind, and it had been playing this song.

It is also rumoured that on the 13th of February a 45 year old man mourning for his wife went for a walk amongst the thawing snow whilst listening to his headphones, and for the four minutes and twenty four seconds of this track, the drops from the icicles fell not downwards, but upwards towards the sky. It is further rumoured that it was at this point that the man felt, for the first time since the death of his wife, the possibility of joy. Whether this was before the strange phenomena occurred, and whether either one caused the other, is a subject for speculation. The man in question believes that that some things are lessened by describing them, and no longer answers questions on the subject.

The Plan

Feb. 16th, 2011 04:32 pm
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A few weeks ago S and I went south to check out the place where I will be living in the March-May period, working on some sort of literary whatsit. It is a caravan sitting in a nice little block of land upon which my parents hope to someday build a house (I’ll be surveying autumnal sun-patterns and maybe fixing some stuff whilst I’m there).

Logistically, I think I can do this. There is plenty of rainwater for dishes and showers, and although I will have to go into town every now and then to get more drinking water (and groceries), I estimate that to be less than an hour’s walk away. There is no oven (or microwave), but there are no less than two stovetops, one for inside and one for outside. There is a small fridge, although the functionality of the freezer section is questionable. I should manage to eat ok.

And it’s pretty, and there’s trees and frogs and birds.

It’s isolated, but there is phone reception if you stand in certain spots. The isolation might be an issue, despite it also being the point. I would not normally be worried except that my health in that regard has not exactly been perfect lately. I will try and monitor myself forgivingly. Going a bit peculiar and talking to myself and inanimate objects is okay. Just sitting at my desk and crying is not. I suppose if the latter happens a lot I may give up and come back. :/

But I don’t want to give up.

EDIT: Also, there is a red-bellied black snake. To make it seem more friendly, I think I should give it a name. Does anyone have any suggestions? I do not know whether it is a boy or girl snake, and feel it imprudent to check.


Feb. 14th, 2011 01:10 pm
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Just recently I have been playing Brendan Chung’s Flotilla, which has some interesting narrative design. The game at its heart is about turn-based space combat (the design of which is elegant, but it could do with better camera controls), but the framing story is that you are a spaceship captain with seven months to live, and are determined to make the best of it. As such the framing story has you rushing from planet to planet on a map, and at each planet you are met with a (randomly generated) encounter. Many of these are not space battles, but simple situations for which there are two possible answers. Such as the following:

It’s a very simple in conceit and execution, but it allows me to decide what kind of space captain I want to be. I decide that I’m a rebellious sort who doesn’t submit to bullying from authorities (“Hell no I won’t pay your space-toll/hand over my hitch-hiker who turns out to be a galactic fugitive!” *fights*), but also one who will never refuse a plea for help, no matter who it comes from.

Well, I break that last vow once, when I come across some white-collar criminal pigs (literally, with the ears and the little twisty tails) who are being attacked by a pirates. Ignoring their pleas for help, I instead steal all their stuff. A couple of planets later, a psychopathic leopard in an aviator cap says he heard about it and that he likes my style, and he joins up with my flotilla with his spaceship. Bonus! Did I mention most of the characters are various species of animal? There are Toucans!

Anyway, my point is that randomly or procedurally generated gameplay tends to call for new narrative strategies, and there are some nice new ones here, albeit painted in broad strokes. I think the “limited time to live” thing might become a classic trope in this kind of thing. It’s nice for things with a random element to have a short play-time for a single game, because it helps give the feel of a beginning middle and end, and because because part of what makes randomness fun is replaying and seeing what changes. Terminal illness is an effortless way to make such a restriction seem more poignant. It effortlessly justifies the limited gameplay the same way the classic old “you wake up with amnesia” chestnut was used in the past to justify the player character asking a bunch of obvious questions.

Did I mention making a game was on my list of things to do this year? Right after writing a novel. Yeah.


Feb. 9th, 2011 01:54 pm
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"Iggy Pop could talk this way because there was a gap to bridge, a desperate chasm, a vacuum of understanding. The gap is still there, but there’s no hope of crossing it anymore because people think they already understand. They do understand, but they understand wrong. There isn’t a chasm anymore, it’s worse than that. There’s an impermeable plastic barrier. We are all encased in tupperware."

- last recorded words of music critic Least Smith, before his spontaneous transmutation into light and sound was caught on national television 13 December, 2012.
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Tonight we are most definitely going to Jurassic Lounge.


Y'all can come too.
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Someone on the bus had the word "mellifluous" tattooed on their back. I suppose they might just be using the adjective to describe themselves, which would be a teensy bit wanky (sweet sounding? full of honey?). But I assumed at first that it was just there because it was their favourite word. And it would be nice if you could see everyone's favourite word just by looking at them. On the other hand, that would probably mean I would have the word "crepuscule" tattooed on me somewhere, and all of the possible applications of that word to the human body are pretty gross.

I'm not sure if it's my favourite word anymore anyway. I've always been bad at favourites because I'm such a context monkey - anything that seems great, I can think of an instance where it would be shit, and vice versa.

Crepuscule is a great word. But my search for a tattoo that is both meaningful to me and doesn't look horrific continues.

Anyway, this is mainly just a celebratory post to point out I am currently sitting somewhere air-conditioned. Although there is quite a nice breeze outside, and I recommend going out and finding a shady spot to appreciate it if you can't find any AC.
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Tomorrow night there will be drinking to be done inside the Australian Museum. And also dancing and live music. I like these things, and I like dinosaurs, so I will probably go. Anyone else interested?


EDIT: So now, we are probably going next week instead.
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Has any one ever encountered a computer that turns itself on whenever a USB device is connected or removed? I think it might be haunted.

Also, I am annoyed at how hard it is to access what is on an old laptop HDD. I was going to ask here if anyone had an old laptop I could borrow for that purpose, but I just ordered a converter on ebay, so I suppose I can just wait 8-10 days. Blergh.


Jan. 21st, 2011 09:54 am
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I am sunburned on my arms.

Or, as my lovely partner put it:

"Yikes. It looks like you were checking to see if a cow was pregnant, but she was on her period."

Just wanted to share that with you all.
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I saw Exposed: Photography and the Classical Nude at Usyd today (which is free!) and was quite taken by several of the works by Herbert List: plaster statues amongst the ruins of Berlin, that sort of thing. I'm sure people who are more knowledgeable about photography than me know all about him already, but I was excited, and I can't find a decent pic on the webz of my favourite piece of his from this exhibition, so just go look, ok? And there was of course lots of pictures of nude or semi-clad folks. The most interesting were early 20th Century (and some later) shots that recreated earlier classical poses and scenes, along with some even earlier stuff that just happened to have statues. If you like old B+W stuff, and/or pretty boys, I recommend this exhibition.

[livejournal.com profile] hecticred, I'm talking to you.

Last night I scored a last minute ticket to Dracula, with a new score performed by Phillip Glass and the Kronos Quartet. It was a bit weird as a soundtrack as it had no quiet parts, which is interesting for a movie that has dialogue. Some parts were very interesting, although I thought that Glass succumbed to the melodramatic nature of the piece a little too often. It was all sting and no rising tension at such times.
The movie itself was the 1931 version with Bela Legosi ("I don't drink...wine"), which I hadn't seen before. It was super hammy, and I'm sure picked in part because it dates from that short era before extra-diagetic music became commonplace in talkies. I did find the adaption structurally interesting, though. In the film Renton is a much more important character. It is he, rather than Harker, who travels to Transylvania as a soliciter, and there falls under the Count's influence. It's actually a really nice change. Harker is a boring, passive character, but with Renfield we see someone undergoing changes straight away.
Of course it is all done with the melodrama turned up to 11, but it got me thinking about the whole saga as about sex and sexual repression (well covered ground, obvs) and how the plot might be retold in a less, er, figurative way. Maybe even to the point where the vampirism could be removed (ok, that might be going a bit far). Renton (or Harker, if you want to swap them back) seduced by the Count. Or not even seduced - perhaps just obsessed on their own account? And losing it, craving the blood of tiny animals, in denial of or shame about their feelings?
The movie I am imagining would be shot by Christopher Doyle and everyone would be very attractive. Except Van Helsing.
Unfortunately, if someone actually made a film with this plot, it would probably be shot on VHS porn with fake acting and fake boobs. In fact, someone has probably already made it, but I'm not going to check. Nor will I check for fic, whose existence I am equally certain about.

There isn't any rule about LJ posts having a point, is there? No? Oh good. I'm off to bed then.
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I picked some stuff up from uni and there was a building missing. It's always odd, seeing a patch of sky where you didn't expect it.

Our landlord finally contacted us. So much for living the Australian dream (which is squatting, right? It's even mentioned in Waltzing Matilda).

Tequila has fleas. >:-(

I like burritos.

I enjoyed my first Murakami, but suspect I am going to enjoy more my first Krilanovich, The Orange Eats Creeps.
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In an effort to be more productive, I am trying out the leech-block plugin for firefox, which lets you block certain sites at certain times of the day.

This would probably be working quite well, if not for the fact that valve's Orange Box was recently on special for $5, so I have been working my way through Half-Life 2, which was the next big thing in first person shooters as of about 5 years ago. Here are my thoughts so far, so I feel better for having wasted all that time:

*AAA games are really long. I've spent so long playing only wacky little indie productions that I forgot that big studios do more than just make their point and finish up. This thing goes forever. I started playing at 9 today because I figured I was right near the end so I could do it and then get on with the rest of the day. I gave up at 1 pm, still no end in sight. Valve does lots to keep it interesting, with aesthetically interesting levels, and constant new vehicles, weapons and situations.

*So. Damn. Linear. You can approach problems in lots of different ways, but for the whole game there is really no choice in where to go. I feel for the designers, they spent lots of time designing those set pieces, so they want you to get the benefit, but jeeze. It's a pity, because so many of the elements, like the physics system and the gravity gun, could have enabled a lot more creativity from the player if the game design allowed it (I guess that's how Garry's Mod happened). And playing the troublemaker in a police state would be a great idea for a more open world game.

*Plot wise, it's okay. Most of the characters are passable, and more importantly, none of them are annoying. I like the villain, your old lab supervisor, who is now dictator of earth (proxying for the malign alien force who is really in charge). His belief that collaboration is humanity's only chance for survival seems touchingly genuine. Can't wait to shoot him in the head.
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The Social Network
The main thing I took away from this is that everyone that goes to Harvard is a jerk. Everyone male, at least. The women don't get enough screen time to call it. This actually helps make Zuckerberg a marginally sympathetic character, because he is at least the smartest jerk, and also the most sarcastic. Although I agree in part with Zadie Smith's analysis (which is worth reading, because it's Zadie Smith) that the "impressing girls" part of the character is played up a bit , I think that although Sorkin gives some hints, he thankfully doesn't go to the trouble of spelling out Zuckerberg's motivations. On the other hand, it is also true that you could boil down the motivations of almost everyone depicted here to a massive sense of entitlement.

The Master of The Flying Guillotine (vs The One-armed Boxer)
Is apparently Tarantino's favourite kung-fu flick. It contains a cast of characters that were later ripped off by any number of films and beat-em-up video games (including a stretchy yoga guy!). A tournament quickly introduces them all, and then things get serious (organised fights to the death? pfah! That's hardly serious). The film also wastes little time in establishing that foreigners are evil, a common theme in Hong Kong martial arts cinema of the 70s. The main baddie is Chinese, but his henchmen are Indian, Thai, and of course Japanese (I don't think there was a Japanese good guy in chinese martial arts cinema right up until Jet Li's Fearless in 2006, which had the advantage of the English as the colonial enemy). I would only recommend it if you are really into the genre.

Giant monsters + love story + played straight.
I am first of all impressed that this was made for half a million dollars. It did not, in fact, have the obligatory THE REAL MONSTERS ARE US ending, even though it is strongly hinted at. The aliens remain alien, different enough that you never really understand them, or how intelligent they are.

A Zombie outbreak film that is actually clever. Set in a small town radio station, so you hear the world fall apart instead of seeing it. Which is much creepier.
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Would anyone like to join me?


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