Friday, 8 April 2011

Answer me this

So Mr Minchin has managed to nail it

Apart from how small we are in the scheme of things, how crazy homeopathy is and how wives must have that look taught them while the husbands are off learning how to forget the one thing that they went to the store to pickup, Storm made me think of how strange it is that the majority of science fiction and fantasy fans are geeks.

Stay with me here. The people who tend to follow the path of rationality are the very ones who are the largest consumers of tales of faster than light travel, scanitly clad elven maidens, vorbal blades, alien worlds and talking familars. How is it the ones who have the best handle on the accepted scientific truths are the very ones who are the fastest to suspend their disbeliefs?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What the..?

The Dickens
Happy, Wellington
23rd March 2011

"My band's got a gig on next month, you should come."

"Yeah. Sure. That sounds great."

That was the exchange I had with Andy in Feb and at the time, it was akin to responding, "Good" when asked how you're feeling regardless of your actual state of mind. Reflex. A friend asks you to come see them play, you say yes. To put some context in place, Andy knows a lot about music, has worked in a record store and directed the musical at the school he teaches at last year. There's some form there but no guarantee that it'd actually be any good.

I'd also like Exhibit B to be read into the evidence: "There's five of us, three guitars - I play base -, an electric violin and drums."

My total exposure to electric violin up until this evening has been Vanessa Mae and The Revenge of the Nerds so this was not something that excited me. At best I was hoping for a slight Fleet Foxes vibe from the violin but to be honest I really didn't know what to expect. I know Andy likes Tom Waits, and I'd enjoyed the stuff he'd put up on his blog but The Dickens could have been a Doris Day tribute band for all I knew.

With the Missus at home working on the dreaded D, I threw social phobias aside and walked into Happy.

It turns out good music is alive and well in Wellington.

The whole thing was a great experience, not just for a band of musicians with day-jobs but full stop. There was a short five-song set from a teacher who was nervous and dropped a few notes but kept on going and had some lovely tunes before The Dickens took the stage. I was swaying back and forth with the music by the end and I enjoyed her more than some of the support acts for named bands I've been to see. As they set up, I chatted with the lovely Helen, levels were tested, a bit of humorous banter and then we were off.

When I came back I described it to Roo as "Joyous". There were five men on stage, working the music and letting rip. There was a little bit of early U2 that came through, a self professed Springsteen inspired song and lots of solid indy rock. And the violin worked! They didn't shine a light on it, the strings came through as a part of the band in a way that made me wonder why there aren't more electric violins in common usage. It added a sonorous, sombre layer that I suppose would traditionally been added by a keyboard.

There were microphones that stopped working and a temperamental guitar but they were obviously experienced enough and were in the zone such that it didn't matter. I really enjoyed the pants off the gig and can only recommend anyone in Wellington the next time they play to make an effort and have a listen.

Note to self: don't go for a run between work and standing on a bar's concrete floor for 90mins. I started to get wobbles in my legs towards the end and to take off as soon as it finished just so I could go sit down in the car.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Next time I'll just break my leg

I've either bruised the muscles around my ribs or over-stretched the ligaments. Either way it hurts to stand, sit, lie, shower, eat, laugh, type, sneeze and drive. Pretty much the only comfortable position at the moment is a kind of slouch 25 degrees off horizontal.

So here's the scene; last Friday I climbed onto a packed bus bound for work. I found a space about halfway down and hung like a spider monkey from one of the rubber straps. Every bump and pot hole the bus rides over sent waves of pain through my chest. A third of the way through the trip we stopped outside Wellington High and most of the teenagers piled off and a single seat opened up just to my right. There were a handful of other commuters of a variety of ages and sexes also doing their PG Tips impression so I, of course, was paralyzed with levels of guilt and indecision usually only seen in a Woody Allen film*.

If I take the seat then everyone else on the bus thinks I'm a tool for denying the more outwardly deserving passengers a respite from standing. If I remain standing I have another 20 minutes on the bus that suspension forgot before I get to work.

This demonstrates once again why society needs some universal signs to help explain one's actions to strangers. Want to wear a "McCain/Palin '08" T-shirt without everyone suspecting you're a evolution-denying Republican? A simple irony hat (in my mind it's a fez) would reassure passers-by and co-workers that you weren't on your way to a Tea Party.

Do you drive around in an SUV and feel the nagging finger of environmentalists? Application of the green, "I do a lot of conservation work that necessitates an off-road vehicle" bumper sticker will avoid having the Chelsea/Ponsonby Tractor tag applied to your car.

This lack of societal iconography resulted in me standing for another 10 minutes until enough spaces became vacant to make it clear that I wasn't a wanker. If I'd been wearing a "I've got an injury/illness with few external symptoms" badge, I could have taken a seat with impunity.

*one of the good early ones like Manhattan or Manhattan Murder Mystery

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Well, I must say that I am alarmed

I was in the doctors yesterday (I'll cover this later but short version: I've bruised some ribs playing football) and saw this pamphlet:

I get that they're trying to advertise their "I've fallen and I can't get up" alarm in a new way, avoiding the image of a frail lady looking longingly at the camera while she lies prostate on the floor but I don't think they've properly focus grouped this pamphlet. To me it is saying one of two things:

- Our new alarms come in the form of an older lady that you'll have to carry on your back that will scream at the slightest sign of danger
- If you do fall over we'll send over a Clint Eastwood look-a-like to carry you to safety

Either way I don't think they're going to shift more units.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I know Bioshock came out three years ago

I've been playing computer games a little bit more than usual recently. I think it's a combination of a lack of decent TV and a new lapdog. The way I remember playing games in my teens was a repetition of saving and reloading my progress with every step. If a fight didn't go exactly the way I wanted, I'd hit 'Ctrl+L' to rewind my avatar, placing him (until Ms. Croft came along it was almost exclusively a him) back before the fight/discussion tree/jump. If that didn't work I'd look through the various gaming mags I had to find the cheat code. This was a phrase (some in joke) or sequence of buttons that wouldn't look out of place in modern rhythm games, allowing me to swan through the hard bits with God Mode on: invincible, all powerful and totally without any obligation to play by the rules.

I don't know if it's because the visuals have evolved to a level that verges on cinematic or if its the fact that games are filled with the kind of ambiguous morals you'd expect to see in shows like The Wire, Deadwood and Breaking Bad but I'm being drawn into the games in ways that I haven't encountered before. I'll drag myself through an encounter with half my squad decimated and the bonuses no where near achieved but I can't just reload and try again. That would be somehow inconsistent and disingenuous. I find myself living by a different type of cheat code.

The line between storytelling and playing a game have become blurred. In the story I'm directing through button mashes and mouse gestures, the path has been written and I have to live by my actions. If I fail to save the girl or only barely defeat the dragon so be it.

That is until I die.

At which point I'm glad that I remembered to save and reload my game so I can have another go at moving on to the next level.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Promised a treat but got fruit

Yesterday, I was in the study when I heard Afternoon Delight coming from the living room. I knew that I had the Movie Channel on so of course I rushed through expecting to see Ferrell, Rudd, Carell and Koechner in song. Imagine my disappointment when it was in fact the underwhelming Starsky & Hutch.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

It's like my fan fiction come to life

You just need a drunk Dominic West hitting on Miss Piggy in the background for this to an unstoppable pop culture supernova.

I love Zach Galifianakis just hanging out in the background.