Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bending Point

Here I am.

Following my last post, gosh! Changes in my life have been smooth but sharp, light but weighty. I am now a full-time editor (of BOOKS, my friend, yes! I am an honest and professional editor of BOOKS), which is an interesting new lifestyle to adjust to. My time is different: no more of the student life for me. Strange and not strange.

So. I've been thinking about this blog. I think it's time to make a change here, too. My personal time is more limited than it used to be, and my non-blog creative commitments (scripting & noveling) have been backburnering for too long. So I think it's time to refocus myself on those other things, and to put these Mistakes Being Made on a more permanent sort of hiatus. Possibly actually permanent, I mean. As in: no more this blog.

This has always been a very casual, experimental & ad hoc little blog – something for my own fun, rather than any serious attempt to build an audience or anything – but I've got to the point where, like I said, things need to change. Focus or no focus, do or do not. Etc.

When I come back to blogging – whether here, or somewhere new – it'll be with a much clearer sense of purpose and focus, I hope. If I decide I want to focus on music, then I'll do a Rage Roundup every week and I'll be an active presence on other music sites to try to actually build an audience, and so on. Or if I decide to do a blog that focuses on some other thing, then I'll focus on that some other thing instead. And if I decide to do another random meandery half-hearted self-indulgent blog like this one, then I guess I'll do it like this again; but at least I'll try to do it in a much more focused and wholehearted way, I think. If you're going to do something, better to do it right; better to try to do it best, don't you think?
(Or, better to do something that will actually get more readers to comment more often, at the very least...)

So, anyhow. That's what I've been thinking. And that's what I'm going to do, I think.

In the meantime: I may be about to give up long-form textual blogging for a while, but I'll be continuing to post beautiful (mostly) wordless content over at my other miniblog, the wonderful looktime.tumblr.com, which is freaking awesome and you should totally be following. (Seriously, go there, it's great. It's mostly not my stuff, it's just stuff that I like. You'll like it too, I bet.)

Thanks for everything.
More later.

:)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

: O


Still on blogging hiatus (more-or-less*) while I wrap up the final weeks of my postgrad course, but I absolutely had to share this:

OMFXZG people, freaking NINJA BEAR! Bear thinks it's Donatello!

awwwww yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhh




*full disclosure, re the "more" of "more-or-less": I have, in fact, lately begun miniblogging** over on Tumblr. Rather than writing full-on wordy wordfests like I do here on this blog, over at looktime.tumblr.com I've just been posting all sorts of interesting images & things, as a kind of record of my internet-image-discovery as I go along.

It's like scrapbooking, the way I see it; it's assembling and collaging, rather than creating content from scratch. Tumblr is built around the easy re-blogging of other people's content, so it's good for that sort of thing. And also, compared to real blogging, Tumblring takes pretty much no time at all! (It's the lack of vowels. And, uh, the general lack of words. And the fact that you can "generate" all your content just by copying stuff directly over from other people's Tumblrs, if you like...)

So, looktime! Please enjoy.


**In the olden times before the "personal computer" existed, the "minicomputer" was a type of computer just a bit bigger and more complex than a "microcomputer"; and so if Twitter is microblogging, then I figure Tumblr must definitely be "miniblogging". Please spread the word.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Priorities

So, it turns out that under pressure, my work priorities resolve like this:
1. Work that I am being paid to do
2. Work that I am paying to do
3. Work that I wish I were being paid to do
I bet you can figure out which category this blog falls into.
Lucky me, though, I only have one more month before my #2 ceases to exist! And that will bump my #3 endeavours up into second place! Right on. Looking forward to it, definitely . . . :)

In the meantime, let me tell about my Saturday morning. I was at my relatives' house in Essendon, looking through the window and wondering what time it was. The sky was a really stunning bright blue, but the clock said 5 o'clock, so that didn't seem right. I looked at the other clock, over on the bench; but that clock said 8 o'clock, which made even less sense.

It was about then I realised that it didn't make sense because I was dreaming. Feeling a bit silly about that, I woke up. (It was kind of neat that I woke up because I realised I was dreaming, right? That doesn't happen every day, definitely.)

I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom, but there I noticed that the toilet cistern was missing – weirdly, it looked like it had somehow become completely recessed into the wall. That didn't make any sense.

It was about then I realised that it didn't make sense because I was dreaming. Still. Ha! Fully conscious of this fact and feeling quite ridiculous, I put in a more serious effort to make sure that this time, I was waking up properly.

Having woken up properly now, I was immediately compelled to tell this story to someone else. How ridiculous was it that I would realise I was dreaming and so wake up, only to realise that I was still dreaming and then actually wake up?! Bizarre, definitely. So I was telling this story, but I couldn't actually hear my own voice very well because my ears were a bit blocked up. I tried blowing my nose gently to make the air pressure pop. Now, I'm always a bit wary of doing stuff to my ears (you can burst your eardrums if you do something stupid, can't you?), but I kept blowing and then I started to feel kind of weird, and the weird feeling kind of 'expanded' in my head – it was very strange, not entirely pleasant, and it didn't seem to make any sense.

It was about then I realised that it didn't make sense because I was dreaming.

So then I woke up, for the third time, and immediately I burst out laughing and didn't stop for at least a minute.

Let me tell you, it was a heck of a way to start a Saturday.

--the Drowsy Thoapsl

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soon

Whoo!
Lately, I have been way too busy to give this blog the attention it deserves; luckily, however, my busyness is not quite at Axe Cop's level, yet. (Axe Cop being the webcomic from which the sublime moment above derives.) Most of my specific busynesses look to be cooling down soon, too – but anyhow, we'll see how that goes . . .

In the meantime, I also wanted to draw your attention to what may be the greatest news headline of all time: the "Ash Dash Rash Cash Splash". Subeditors of Fairfax, I salute you.

)
--Thoapsl

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No, I Am An Unsuccessful Bounty Hunter

Woke up this morning out of a strangely vivid dream, in which I had been interested to learn that Kirk Douglas supplied the voice for Bossk* in Return Of The Jedi**.

*(Bossk is an absurdly obscure Star Wars character. The only reason I know about him, I swear, is because I once found a defective Bossk™ Official Star Wars™ Action Figure in a random showbag at the Castlemaine Show. Both of his legs were right legs, so the one attached to his left hip looked like it was on backwards. When you're 10 years old, this is the kind of event that will make a nameless character's name stick in your head forever.)

Furthermore, Kirk Douglas had supposedly done this celebrity cameo voice because he was famous in real life for saying "Tssk!" a lot. Hence, the popcultural pun value of his cameo voice for Bossk.

**(Also, you know what? I'm pretty sure Bossk isn't actually in Return Of The Jedi, he's only in that one quick scene in Empire Strikes Back with all the bounty hunters. Also, I'm pretty sure Bossk has no dialogue for Kirk Douglas to voice, unless maybe he just hisses or growls or something for half a second? – How could my subconscious mind have gotten this wrong? And also I am not a Star Wars nerd, I just have a good memory, okay, honestly, shut up)


What the heck is my mind doing, dreaming this stuff? I'm dreaming about imaginary false anecdotes from the annals of fake film history, now? And, I mean, "Tssk!"? What? I mean, seriously, whatttf?

So, in conclusion:
It has been a very long, strange couple of weeks. Sorry about that.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Absolutely Nothing To Do With Easter

– but I was just watching music videos on Rage*, and I had to share this with you:

(You have to promise to watch the entire thing, though. Or at least until you get to the part with the giant floating head of death.)



Also it's widescreen, so you might want to click through to embiggen.

UPDATE! The remarkable Geoff Klock has written a fine analysis of this very video, wherein he explains that you can interpret the whole thing as a kind of allegory for the music industry. Fantastic :)

*PS "hey Thoapsl, whatever happened to the Rage Roundup?" "yeah, um . . . I'll be getting back to it eventually, honest . . ." *excuses, etc*

Friday, April 2, 2010

YSTR!

FEAR IT

. . .


Or not, whatever.
A holiday is always a fine thing – enjoy a hot cross bun, if you like.
(Or, a cross hot bun? Hmm.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Two or Three Things for Tuesday

Hey look! Two recent points of interest, each one in the form of a pointedly interesting sequence of words. These aren't short articles, but if you've 15 minutes or so to spare then I totally recommend you check them out:

1. Spectacular true story (via Wired) of a genius Canadian thief. (Do those last three words go together often, or rarely?) It's another great story from Winnipeg – how aboot that?

2. Okay, this one may be a bit intimidating, but repeat after me RIGHT ON I AM A HEAVY THINKER, I EAT YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR BREAKFAST AND THEN I SPIT IT BACK IN YOUR FACE and you'll be cool.* This article is a fascinating metaphysical argument for justifying the existence of reality, via a big simple idea that I've never seen before.

And yeah, I think the existence of reality is definitely a problem – as in, "why does it exist?". I've never before known an answer that didn't fall back to "just because it does, that's why", or "a wizard did it", or else some version of the anthropic principle. But while this article's argument is not without potential flaws, it's still very, very intriguing. And it also provides a really nifty angle on the old "like, what if we're all being simulated inside a giant computer, like the matrix, like – how could we tell? Like, dude, whoa" chestnut.

If you can stand to read the whole article, please tell me what you think!

*Philosophy is all about intellectual confidence, remember. Why do think Socrates drank that poison? CONFIDENCE.

Also! Bonus Point of Interest! (if you haven't seen it already):

'night :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Night Tumbln' Tumblrweeds

When you tumbl your attentions across a numbr of tumblrs, a numbr of those tumblrs' pics are bound to fiercely tumbl themselves onto & into your memories (both electronical & neurological). Or something like that. Does that make sense? What about the spelling? It's got something to do with hipsters, apparently, but I try not to hold that against it.

So: can you guess the common theme for these images? It's a three-word phrase . . .

(Via.)

. . . it's a line of dialogue, i.e. a line you'd expect to hear spoken aloud . . .

(Via.)

. . . it would probably end with an exclamation mark . . .

If you can think of a three-word phrase that would be exclaimed aloud and is cryptically applicable to each of these pictures, leave your guess in the comments! You might win!

(Is that an intriguing game, or a completely annoying and pointless one? Or both? Please let me know – it's late on a Sunday and my good judgment isn't necessarily itself, I think . . . this morning I ate nachos for breakfast . . .)

Intriguing images, yes? The internet is a fine and lovely domain.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rule #1: Don't Go To Bed Hungry

I tell you what, I think those freaking Top 10 lists really took it out of me. Shortly after posting the final list, I succumbed to a mildly bizarre illness – a kind of feverish, throaty sleeping sickness – and it's taken me more than a week since then to move beyond "miserably ill" and back to mere "croaky ill-temper". What did I miss while I was out?

Lucky for you, wiser webfolk than I have been able to provide commentary on the world in my absence, of which I shall now reproduce a pertinent example:
No, wait – I think that happened before the last Top 10? Aw, whatevs. Let's just assume business as usual & no worries, then.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that you aren't reading this blog in order to receive commentary on current events. On the original hand – are you, actually? Should I be blogging more commentary on current events? Please let me know, if so . . .

Either way, more blogging soon. I've been collecting a fine swag of interesting images without any particular purpose, so I think I'm going to start posting the images without any particular purpose. Just to share, you know. The way all those fancy awesome tumblr kids are doing blog*, these days.

For example: this. I'm not sure where this came from, but apparently it's by someone called Michael Page, who would appear to be kind of awesome. (Click the image for a closer look, I think it's worth it.)
Nice and interesting, huh?
All right. And now: nachos.
Good night :)

*Yeah, "doing blog". That's what I wrote.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top 10 #1: Top 10 Best Numbers Between 1 and 10

And so we come to the end of a particularly daft enterprise. But better to reach an ending than to abandon a program unfinished, right?

Hm. Either way, I've now finally reached the most profound and meaningful of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists:

It's
The Top 10 Best Numbers Between 1 and 10!

10. 9
9. 5
8. 1.01
7. 3
6. e
5. π
4. 6
3. δ
2. 2
1. φ


Why these numbers, you ask? Hypothetical reader, I am glad that you ask (or in fact, that you allow me rhetorically to ask you).

9
It's the biggest numeral we have: after 9, all we have left is 0 again. Also, it creates a hypnotically symmetrical square, which is kind of neat, don't you think?:
5
Symbolism, magic, political power: that's 5. It crops up surprisingly often, if you look for it.

1.01
This should be an obvious choice, shouldn't it? It's 1, but it's a bit more than 1. It's a symbol of improvement, of education, of progress. Doesn't it make you feel better, just looking at it?

3
The smallest number that's big enough to be genuinely numberish. 3 things are enough things to create a whole bunch of problems that literally can't be solved. 3 contains enough complexity to generate a universe.

e
It's a bit more than 2. It's all natural. It's a pleasantly fractal concept to base your logarithms on, if you need some logarithms. And hey, who doesn't need logarithms? Who doesn't like logs? Who doesn't like rhythms? Answer: nobody! (FACT.)

π
Obviously.

6
For making us happier, and in particular for giving us the best opportunity to giggle at New Zealand accents.

δ
By which I'm talking about the Feigenbaum constant, 4.669201609etc. This number emerges at the heart of complex systems like the weather, or the economy, or pretty much every system of interacting relationships in our world. This constant is our sublime proof that chaos theory is not chaotic. So, you know; it's kind of important, and it's kind of neat.

2
The loneliest number, next to number 1. (So, it's not so lonely.) This can still be problematic, but it's also pretty nice.

φ
By which I'm talking about the number of the Golden Ratio, 1.6180339887etc. (And yeah, the Silver Ratio probably also deserves some respect, but that's another story.) This number is the ratio of ratios: it's everywhere, even when it's not, and it's the reason that most nice architecture and design looks so nice. For services to aesthetics, recognised & unrecognised: thanks, φ.


Cheers.
--the listless thoapsl

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

is today, how about that.

I think I'd like to say something about it, but I'm not sure what. Feminism can be difficult to talk about (Gosh, really?). If you agree with me, then I'm (uselessly) preaching to the converted; but if you disagree, then our disagreements are probably fundamental and/or quite subtle (& so, either way, probably v difficult to discuss intelligently via interweb). And anyhow, why should you care what I think about it?

But this is my blog, so I'm going to do it anyway.

What I think "about women" – uh, politically speaking – has spiralled around in different directions as I've grown up, I think. As a kid of leftish-lowermiddleclassy parents, I internalised the status quo of 1980s-90s political correctness: there is sexism in the world, women are treated badly and unfairly, this is bad and unfair. But as a teenager it dawned on me that being male wasn't all steak and glory, either; there were unexpectedly bad aspects to being a man in the modern world, too. For example: pop culture seemed to be telling me that boys were foolish and troublesome and evil, most of the time. And I felt like I was being told that girls could do anything, but simultaneously that boys could not. When you're adolescent, any potential unfairness (towards yourself) is a red rag, so this apparent "stupid boys will be stupid boys" meme bugged me a lot. Were girls now getting the best of everything, and always the benefit of the doubt? Had feminism "gone too far in the other direction"?

No. No, it hadn't, and I feel kind of stupid now for even considering sentiments like that. But it took me a few more years to see the world clearly from a few more sides, other than my own. And I had been privileged to grow up in an environment where sexism against women was sometimes less than obvious, I think; maybe that was why it took me a while to see and understand all the things that other people were thinking, the ways that they were acting, the ways in which they were being affected. Actions and consequences, assumptions and beliefs – these aren't always obvious. (Obviously.)

This is what I assume and believe, now: that the similarities across gender are nowhere near as significant as the differences between individuals. I've never known a woman who was more of a woman than a person. But I know most people don't agree with me, they don't believe this; instead, most people think that there are a bunch of crucial, essential commonalities to men and to women, and that these gender-commonalities are more significant than anything else. And to me that's the essential problem of sexism, because I believe that gender is not actually as significant as we make it – or at least, it doesn't have to be. Sexism, like racism, is bad because it's essentially untrue.

So our status quo is messed up, I think. And everyone in our society is disadvantaged by the false assumptions of sexism – that's what I was confused to learn as a young teen, that men (i.e. me) were sometimes being disadvantaged too. But that's not to say that men have it worse overall, because they don't. You can't see the world honestly without seeing that it still disadvantages women far worse than men, I think. (There are so many examples, I'm not even going to get into them; not today, anyhow.)

So. To me, this is International Women's Day: it's a reminder that things are still bad. (Though thankfully much, much better now than they ever used to be; & people sometimes underestimate just how much better, I think.) There are still a whole bunch of big fat sexist problems, all over the place. It makes me feel like I'm always needing to think hard and pay attention and act bravely and behave well, to do my part to make things better. Be fair. Don't be a dick.

International Women's Day: Don't Forget.

So that's what it means to me and what I think about it, I guess.

But, ah, what a serious and humourless post! (Not to mention, possibly patronising, stupid, facile, self-indulgent, myopic, wrong? I don't even know . . . but please tell me in the comments.)

Sorry, folks. To cheer us up, here's a picture of a pony:
Right on.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Top 10 #2: Top 10 Actors That I Can't Remember The Name Of, But Then When I See Their Faces I Go "Oh Yeah, I Know Them"

I knew this list would be tricky. How do I list the actors whose names I can't remember, when by definition I can't remember their names? Luckily I must be some kind of genius, because I've done it. Take that, logical paradox!

I had some strict conditions for this list: they had to be actors whose identities I honestly didn't know, but whose faces I definitely knew. I also wanted to avoid the big-time character actors whom I know well enough to almost remember the names of, like the great J. T. Walsh or Jeffrey Jones. So! The latest of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists:

It's
The Top 10 Actors That I Can't Remember The Name Of, But Then When I See Their Faces I Go "Oh Yeah, I Know Them"!*

I almost never watch TV crime shows, but this guy has been a judge a bunch of times, hasn't he? Or maybe I'm just thinking of Ghostbusters II. (Loved that movie.)

Oh man, how the hell do I know her? She's so familiar, but I have no idea.

Oh yeah, it's that slightly-chubby-supporting-actor guy. Man, he's been in a ton of things.

Yeah, that guy! The guy who won't shave his big scraggly beard, so he always gets cast as "old biker" and "guy with beard"! That's a niche and a half.
Also, he was the drummer on Bob Dylan's 1966 world tour after Levon Helm quit. (True!)

It's really hard to find a distinctively recognisable image of her face, but I know who she is when I see her – and according to IMDb, she's had supporting roles in a ton of films that I've liked. Red Riding, Hotel Rwanda, Birth, Adaptation, American Psycho, Dancer In The Dark ...
With great credits like that, you'd think I would remember her name by now, huh?

Yeah, this guy! He was in Carnivale, and he had a small part on Lost, and he was in Starship Troopers? And some other things? And also he looks a bit like that other guy, the one who played that alien guy on The X-Files.

You remember, she was in that creepy-but-very-good Happiness film? I can almost remember her name, but not quite. And she always seems to be in things with that other guy.

You remember this guy? He's been in a whole bunch of things: gym teacher in Nightmare On Elm Street II, deformed freak in Total Recall. Bunch of tv shows, too. Ring any bells?

I am absolutely on the verge of remembering her name in the future. She's charismatic as hell. (Also: what did you think of Synecdoche, New York?)

Oh, man. This guy. This poor guy. I feel like I've seen this guy playing a geeky "Loser Guy" in movies and on tv forever. I feel like I should be feeling sorry for him, and I don't even know who he is, let alone why. (Though, maybe I'm getting him slightly confused with somebody else who looks a bit like him?)
Man. How odd.


*PS: I know it would be better to say "actors that I can't remember the names of" rather than "name of", but for humour's sake that entire sentence is a clumsy and inelegant construction in the first place, so get off my back, grammar pedants! Settle down! :)
--the Editorial Thoapsl

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Positive Randomivity for the Week


I don't who made this, but I'm very glad they did.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Top 10 #3: Top 10 Sports That I Expect I Will Never Play

Sports are like those secret conspiracy societies; if they don't recruit you into their New World Order by your mid-20s, chances are you'll never get to meet the Lizard Emperor. By which I mean, it may now be too late for me to take up amateur kickboxing.
Other hand: some sports, I don't even like the idea of playing! Ten years ago, I would have given myself an at-least-remote chance to do virtually anything; but whether from lack of desire or lack of opportunity, I figure there are now plenty of sports that I will never actually play. As in, seriously: never.

A chilling vision of things not to come? Either way, here's the latest of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists.

It's
The Top 10 Sports That I Expect I Will Never Play!

10. Triathlon
A way to ruin your day at the beach, and to ruin an otherwise pleasant bicycle ride. No!
NOOOOOOO!!!!!

9. Polo
The traditional horse or elephant, that is. (I've alluded to my feelings about horses before.) I am possibly open to bicycle, however.

8. Parkour

Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger . . .

7. Sumo
And sacrifice my trim figure? Heck no! Also, it's apparently kind of corrupt.

6. Curling
Not that I wouldn't be happy to play a good curl, given the opportunity – but I live in a rather temperate clime, and where am I going to find the right kind of big flat stone and stiff broom? Anyone know?
To be fair, I probably won't soon be playing any sport that features in the Winter Olympics. (Unfortunately? What do you think?)

5. Hurling
Yeah, what? No, apparently Hurling is this:
What? No thanks.

4. Pelota
I don't have anything against pelota; it just seems kind of unlikely. When was the last time someone asked you to play pelota? Also (apparently): it only exists in Florida so that people can gamble on it. And the ball moves so fast that it kills people. Hmm.

3. American Football
I actually quite like watching this game, it's a pretty great spectator sport . . .

. . . but how and why would I ever actually play it?
(Also, I will not put on a helmet and shoulderpads AND lycra pants. That's just asking for trouble.)

2. Lacrosse
I'm not even sure what lacrosse is, honestly. Is it an American thing? Something like pelota, but less fatal? The sport of youthful American yuppies? Baskets are involved, somehow? I'm completely unsure; when it comes to US culture, 1980s high school movies only tell me so much.

1. Golf
Because golf is the game of bastards, frankly. The game of media magnates and corrupt politicians. The game of racial discrimination and upper-class privilege. The game of Auric Goldfinger.
Also: so difficult! Why do they make the hole so tiny, and so far away? It's the game of bastards, all down the line.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Graped In The Face


Q.
What's the difference between pinot noir and merlot?
A. Nothing, suckers.

So yeah, you remember how that movie Sideways did so well? It was a fine film: Paul Giamatti drinks a whole lot of Californian wine, rants about how pinot noir is so great and merlot is so terrible.
Mmm. Grapes.

Most people who saw Sideways immediately decided that, yes, indeed:

1. pinot noir is brilliant
2. all other wines – especially merlot – are really just fermented hackjuice

There was thus an instant craze in the market for pinot wine, and a corresponding crash in demand for the less respectable grapes (like merlot and shiraz). So: a group of French wine merchants decided to scam the American market by repackaging 13.5 MILLION LITRES of their excess merlot and shiraz wine as pinot noir, instead.

A couple of years later, French auditors became suspicious of some unusually cheap "pinot" grape transactions; a few days ago, a French court unravelled the scam and found a cartel of Carcassonne wine merchants guilty of fraud.

Mugshot!
In the meantime, how many American wine drinkers had figured out that they weren't actually drinking pinot noir? Here is a picture of them all:

Aw, it was only 13.5 million litres . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Up!

Go! Presence! Action! Now!
I finally have internet access again. This is a fine and helpful thing. While absent from the internet these past weeks, I missed all sorts of interesting things. For example:

1. SHOCK! Sparkly vampire star Robert Pattinson really hates vaginas! TRUE! SHOCK!

2: Tina Fey made the cover of Vogue! People are annoyed because Vogue photoshopped her scar away, but even so – Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!

3. Young George Clooney.


Hmm. I'm going to need some time to process all this, I think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Top 10 #4: Top 10 Least Respectable Titles Of Philip K. Dick Novels

I'm a big fan of Philip K. Dick, but his reputation has problems. Despite writing a lot of deeply intelligent and seriously "literary" fiction, most of his work was originally published as science fiction – and in the city of literature, SF is usually considered a contemptible ghetto. (To be fair, most books published as SF aren't very good; but on the other hand, most books aren't very good, either.)
This is all a shame, but Dick's reputation isn't helped by the frequently bizarre titles of his works. Even the great and memorable ones – Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said – are still kind of daft. And they're often unusually long, which puts a lot of people off; that's probably why those first two titles were renamed Blade Runner and Total Recall for the movie remakes*.

Many of Dick's books are great, but some people just can't get past the ridiculous, oh-so-science-fictiony titles – "I'm not reading that!" – and it really is a damn shame. So with that in mind, here's the latest of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists.

*Both those movies are only loose adaptations of the original stories, it should be pointed out. Very, very loose.


It's
The Top 10 Least Respectable Titles Of Philip K. Dick Novels!


This one almost works, actually – it's so plainly generic that it almost feels ironic (which it is). But it's still embarrassingly generic.

I assume this was bowdlerised for publication, and should really have been Confessions Of A Bullshit Artist (or is "bullshit artist" only an Australian idiom?). As it is, it doesn't seem to quite make sense – is "crap artist" even a real phrase? Either way, it's a misleading title for what is actually a very serious, sad and intelligent novel (and also, fwiw, not science-fictional at all).

The "our friends from" tag is an intriguing allusion, but you can't take any book seriously when it's about a place called Frolix 8.

Oh, come on. "Palmer Eldritch"? Seriously?

Anything with "galactic" in the title always sounds like a parody. And "pot-healer" sounds like a weird drug reference. (However: believe it or not, the book really is about a guy who "heals" ceramic pots. Yeah. A pot-healer. Honestly – who would guess that from the title?)

Hopelessly generic title: it sounds like an episode of Doctor Who. (Probably a very entertaining episode of Doctor Who, mind you – but it's still not respectable.)

Hopelessly generic title, and it allows for bum jokes.

Game-players from Titan are not a topic of respectable fiction. They're just not. (As far as titles go, it's also bereft of drama and very boring.)

It's not a parody of Dr Strangelove, yet the title is a direct reference. So it doesn't even make sense, except as the tackiest of marketing strategies; it's just odd. What were the publishers thinking?

Any fiction that uses the word "clan" (without also, at some point, using the word "kilt") is raising a red flag; to me, it's always going to look like some crappy fantasy novel. And if it also uses the word "moon", I'm going to go straight ahead and logically assume that it's all about caveman sex.

(You just clicked on that "caveman sex" link, didn't you? Yeah, I know what you like.)


And there you have it.
Gosh, I sure hope my new home internet connection is active by now . . .

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Top 10 #5: Top 10 Pseudonyms Used By Undercover Ticket Inspectors On Melbourne Public Transport

Finally – one of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists that may actually save your bacon!

For those of you travelling on public transport in Melbourne, whether train, tram or bus, take heed: always beware the ticket inspectors. You should always travel with a valid ticket, of course – but sadly, a valid ticket is not always sufficient to escape the punctiliously merciless attentions of a determined inspector. And of these ticket inspectors, one must be-particularly-ware of those who travel undercover: watching and waiting with secret identities, no uniforms to announce their power, the shiny Inspector badge materialising only when least expected . . .


It's
The Top 10 Pseudonyms Used By Undercover Ticket Inspectors On Melbourne Public Transport!


10. Sue Denym

9. Brandy Alexander

8. George Soros

7. Faith Popcorn

6. Seymour Butz

5. Jijuana Tequila

4. Clint Eastwood

3. Venger McHellraisin

2. Germaine Greer

1. Jeff Kennett


Now you know. And knowing, as you may have heard, is half the battle.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Top 10 #6: Top 10 Pop Culture References That Will Make Me Feel Nostalgic For My Childhood, I Hope

Okay, people. This one is personal. So personal, in fact, that anybody who reads this list will surely be able to figure out not only just how old I am, but also precisely which elements of pop culture I was most receptive to as a child. And yes, yes, it's a damnably geekish list. (Although, on the other hand – when you're talking about pop culture, what's not geeky?)

So, the latest of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists:

It's
The Top 10 Pop Culture References That Will Make Me Feel Nostalgic For My Childhood, I Hope!


10. The Seven Cities of Gold! (It was actually called The Mysterious Cities of Gold, but that's not how I remember it.) They get this big golden boat, and later on they get this big golden bird-plane thing?

9. The theme from Inspector Gadget. And from the show itself, especially that story where they're in this big house and it gets completely flooded with water. But mostly just the theme.


8. Ulysses 3000. (It was actually called Ulysses 31, but that's not how I remember it.) The crew is frozen, hanging in space, unconscious and just floating up near the ceiling of this big metal room . . .

7. Hot jam donuts, sausage rolls, twisties, icy poles. And sunnyboys, even though I'm not sure I ever actually had one myself.

6. The Mac Plus. Especially when used to play the original Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? game. Especially the "typewriter" sound effects.

5. The original line of Transformers toys (the ones with metal in them!), and The Transformers: The Movie. By which I mean the real Transformers movie, the one with Orson Welles as the voice of Unicron.

4. Doctor Who. Especially any Tom Baker story where someone slowly transforms into a hideous monster. (There are a bunch.)

3. The Super Nintendo. F-Zero, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart. And NBA Jam, and Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts, and StarFox. And Castlevania. And all that glorious 8-bit sound! And everything else. And the original NES console and various Segas, too, I guess . . . but most of all, the Super Nintendo, summer of 1990-91.

(video not entirely related, but you should probably watch it anyway.)

2. LEGO. Glorious, brilliant, spectacularly wonderful Lego.

1. The Rage outro, on a Saturday morning at first light.



So, did these references actually make me feel nostalgic for my childhood?
Hard to say.

What about you?
And what are you nostalgic about?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Down!

Lack! Absence! Off! Crash!

From later tonight, I'm going to be without home internet for a while. Apparently it takes "10-20 working days" of non-access in order to switch my account from ADSL to Naked ADSL. I've gotten so used to constant broadband internets, I'm not sure how I'm going to cope . . .

Lucky for you, though, I've already scheduled some posts (including the continuing Top 10 Top 10 lists!) to publish over the next few weeks. This blog will not be without content! And please keep commenting – I promise I'll reply, even if it's a day or two late.

Here's hoping all goes well. In the meantime, here's a picture of Christina Hendricks that I hope will cheer you up.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 10 #7: Top 10 Ambiguous Sporting Team Nicknames

This one is clearly the most dull of my Top 10 Top 10 Lists That Don't Really Deserve To Be Top 10 Lists. However, it does have nice pictures, and also I spent at least a minute writing the hidden mouse-over text. Enjoy!

It's
The Top 10 Ambiguous Sporting Team Nicknames!

(And all from completely genuine top-rank sporting teams, btw . . .)


9. A's

8. Reds









Mostly taken from USA sporting teams, of course: American sports, you will agree, are clearly more . . . ambiguous.

Enjoy yr afternoon
-Thoapsl