Beyond the Three Day War

by Purple Wyrm on March 23, 2017

There’s nothing sensible I could say about London.

The other day – inspired by the great Bruce Munro – I put this stupid thing together. Enjoy!

The Three Day War

Schadenfreude and Salt

by Purple Wyrm on March 20, 2017

Ah, depression and having to work for a living are not really conducive to blogging.

Anyway, since I last made an update we’ve had a state election. Schadenfreude is an ignoble emotion, but it was still sweet to watch the Liberals* kicked out of power with a 16% swing. Not that Labor are likely to be much better, but at least it’s a new set of faces screwing us over.

And they won’t (probably) sell off Western Power, and they will (probably) cancel Roe 8, both of which suit me just fine.

Switching subjects wildly in that crazy way you love me for, I’ve noticed lately that salt lamps are making a comeback. You know, the ones made of a big chunk of Himalayan pink rock salt with a light bulb shoved in the middle? I’ve got no problem with people buying these as decoration – they look great, if I could afford the ridiculously inflated prices I’d get one myself – but when people buy them because of the ‘health benefits’ it makes my blood boil in the particular way I reserve for scam artists ripping off the vulnerable.

The supposed health benefits of salt lamps derive from them releasing ‘negative ions’. Now, it is true that if you sufficiently heat up salt it will release negative ions, but the ionic bond between sodium and chlorine in salt is extremely strong. So much so that you need to heat rock salt to a few hundred degrees before you get any more than a tiny trickle of ions out of it.

It should go without saying that if a lamp in the corner of your lounge room is heating up to hundreds of degrees, then the resulting plentiful supply of ions is probably not going to be your chief concern.

On top of this is the fact that there is very little evidence of negative ions having any beneficial effect whatsoever. The idea is based simply on the observation that people (some people anyway) feel ‘energised’ after a thunderstorm. Somewhere along the line someone attributed this to ‘negative ions’ and the pseudoscience industry ran with it. Negative ions may under some circumstances reduce dust but that’s about it.

Finally ‘Himalayan’ rock salt does not come from the Himalayas. Most of it comes from a completely different mountain range located in Pakistan. The remainder actually comes from Poland. So not only are you paying big bucks for completely fictional heath benefits, you’re not even getting the material you think you are!

So yeah, quit it with the rock salt lamps people!

Anyway I’ve been grooving to this Chvrches track lately. Not only is it a great song – I particularly like the contrast between Lauren Mayberry’s and Hayley Williams’ voices – the video clip is a lot of fun too. The toast makes me laugh every time.

Finally as prompted by the always amazing Haiz I’ve been getting into Thrilling Intent of late. This is a massive series of videos where an RPG group has recorded their extremely stupid adventures. The style – mostly audio with icons being moved around a map – takes a bit of getting used to, and I suggest setting the speed to 1.25 for the first few eps, but the characterisation and improvisation are brilliant.

The characters are Markus Velafi – a fast talking, magic using, impulsive Tiefling bullshit artist, Gregor Hartway – a well meaning but idiotically naive fighter, and Aesling (Ash) a magic user of some description who is the only voice of reason in the group (she spends a lot of her time yelling at the others). It’s downright hilarious and highly recommended.

So, that should keep you busy for a while. Have at it!

(* Which is to say Conservatives. Don’t ask.)

Let us not got to Colorado Springs. It is a silly place.

by Purple Wyrm on March 10, 2017

Every episode of Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman ever…

A group of strangers roll into Colorado Springs. They are Jews/Poles/Gypsies/Ex-Slaves/Mormons/Circus Freaks/etc.

Dr Quinn: Welcome to Colorado Springs!

Old Shop Keeper: I ain’t sure ’bout these folks…

Surly Drunk Guy: (Snarls) We don’t like their kind round here!

Sully: (Says nothing because he’s off with the Cheyenne Indians learning ancient wisdom and modern environmentalism.)

Some time later

Surly Drunk Guy: (Snarls) We gotta send a message that we don’t like their kind round here!

Townspeople: We are easily led and will do whatever the surly drunk guy says!

Old Shop Keeper: I ain’t sure ’bout this…

Townspeople punch strangers and set their carts on fire

Surly Drunk Guy: (Snarls) We don’t like your kind round here!

Shortly…

Ex-Slave Blacksmith: Dr Mike! Come quick! There’s a riot! Again!

Dr Quinn: What are you all doing? These are people just like you! You should be ashamed of yourselves!

Townspeople: (Shuffle feet and stare at the ground)

Old Shop Keeper: (Shuffles feet and stares at the ground) Sorry Dr Mike…

Surly Drunk Guy: (Snarls) You need to keep your nose outta other people’s business Micheala! (Slinks away)

General Custer: (Glares threatening from the shadows)

The End

Let us not got to Colorado Springs. It is a silly place.

Plagues and Pleasures

by Purple Wyrm on March 6, 2017

Both Pauline Hanson and Justin Beiber are in town today.  It’s a wonder the earth hasn’t opened up and swallowed the entire city.

Anyway, I have been quite sick this week with a cold. A horrible cold in the middle of summer. Nowhere near as bad as the one I had in Basel, but still not much fun. On the upside the chemists across from the office decided to trust me enough to sell me some cold tablets full of pseudoephedrine which dried up my nose quite nicely and suppressed my appetite to the point that I was plain forgetting to eat – so maybe I’ve lost a bit of weight.

(Talking of the Basel incident I noticed a distinct groove in my toenails today. Doing some quick calculations concerning the average rate of toenail growth there’s a distinct possibility that it coincides with my miserable week trying not to die in a Swiss hotel room – which suggests I was even sicker than I thought!)

If I haven’t lost weight from gulping down amphetamines I’ve probably lost some in sweat from the stupid weather the last few weeks. It’s not just hot, it’s hot and humid. It’s like living in goddam Singapore! Things are meant to cool down  a bit this week, so maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep.

Anyway I’ve been spending my time while hiding inside from the heat by pottering around the Internet and have discovered a couple of things worth sharing.

First up, this quite remarkable a cappella version of Oblivion (remember Oblivion?). The lead singer doesn’t quite live up to Susanne Sundfør’s example – but then hardly anyone could. It’s a downright amazing performance!

Ah! There’s a stink bug flying around the apartment! OH GOD PANIC!!!

OK, that’s dealt with.

So the second thing is this first hand account of how a guy solved the disappearance of a German family in Death Valley, 13 years after the event. It’s not a story with a happy ending, but it’s truly fascinating how he figured out where the tourists went and why.

While zooming around Google Earth to track down the locations in the story I ended up drifting south to the shores of the Salton Sea, a truly strange place where the American dream went to… well if not die exactly at least slip into a deep coma. Then while doing some Salton related googling I discovered that the 2004 documentary Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea is available in its entirety on YouTube! It’s only an hour long and well worth a watch if you’re fond of the odd corners of American culture.

OK, that’s it for now. Peace out all!

Bad Contamination

by Purple Wyrm on February 15, 2017

The Worst of Perth has recently alerted me to the fact that Bayswater Councillor Sally Palmer has of late been peddling some truly atrocious poetry on the subject of a concrete plant being constructed on Collier road.

I know nothing about Ms Palmer’s politics, and while I have not been aware of plans for a concrete plant on Collier road I can see why such a proposal seems like a bad idea. One thing I do know however is what makes for a half decent poem, and I can say with certainty that “Black Cockatoo Calling” is probably the worst bit of poetry foisted on the people of Bayswater since Gina Rinehart defiled Morley with her poorly composed plea for less government regulation on the activities of disadvantaged mining billionaires.

It is a basic rule of English poetry that you can’t rhyme a word with itself – it’s cheating. Yet Ms Palmer rhymes “lands” with “lands”, “accord” with “accord” and “earth” with “earth”. Another rule is that of meter and scansion – lines should follow a uniform pattern of syllable count and stress. While not as bad as Ms Rinehart in this respect Ms Palmer still breaks meter all over the place. A basic understanding of grammar is also expected – I don’t think the construction “to do contamination” would pass muster in any high school English class, let alone “to do bad contamination”.

The horror engendered by reading Ms Palmer’s poetic burp got me wondering – how is it that apparently intelligent people can spew up the kind of doggerel that would embarrass William McGonagall but then be proud enough to put it on display for all to see? After some thought I think I’ve figured it out…

We all wrote poems in primary school. And almost all of them were awful. Awful, terrible atrocious poetry. But because we were young and just learning how to write and compose, our teachers encouraged us. A poem like “Black Cockatoo Calling” would get any 10 year old a gold star and maybe a special certificate from the school principal, despite its many obvious faults. And there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

The problem arises when the 10 year old internalises the message “I’m a good poet!” and goes on through high school, and maybe university, without ever writing another poem. They never have cause to write more poetry, and never get any feedback that would let them know that their poetic skills have failed to grow beyond the levels of that 10 year old, and are – in a grown adult – simply an embarrassment. Throw in a desire to express strongly held beliefs about mining regulations or concrete plants and the stage is set for a horrible, poorly composed screed to be vomited out into the world, generating untold suffering and trauma.

If I get the time I may rewrite Ms Palmer’s poem into something more acceptable. But then again I may not. I am rather busy at the moment.

The Sharks of V-Day

by Purple Wyrm on February 14, 2017

In the spirit of the day I would like to remind you that Maria McKee wrote this song about Benmont Tench…

Also in the spirit of the day, I would like to remind you that Benmont Tench wrote this song in response…

That is all

Oblivion

by Purple Wyrm on February 13, 2017

I have found myself getting quite obsessed with the M83 (featuring Susanne Sundfør) track Oblivion of late. The weird thing is I have absolutely no memory of the Tom Cruise movie of the same name that it’s from the soundtrack of. Maybe it was never released in Australia?

Or maybe I’m just getting old…

Anyway it’s downright epic – if you’re into M83’s type of music. If you can’t stand Tom Cruise (and who can blame you?) just close your eyes and listen.

Let us Rejoice

by Purple Wyrm on January 26, 2017

You know, as far as the Wyrmlog is concerned signing up to Twitter may have been a bit of a misstep. Now whenever I have an inane thought it quickly vanishes off into the Twitterverse in 140 characters or less, rather than sitting around in my head and fermenting its way into a blog post. I’ll have to see what I can do about this.

Anyway, it’s Australia Day. There’s a lot more talk this year about moving the date to something less upsetting to the Indigenous population, and consequently a lot more pushback along the lines of “why don’t they just get over it!”. As is standard practice the news bulletins roll out some Indigenous people who want to change the date, and then track down another Indigenous person (it’s usually a single person) to say why the first bunch of Indigenous people are wrong, and then round it all up with some vox pops. And thus the news cycle continues.

I’m quite sympathetic to those who want to change the date. I can’t deny however that this is partially because January 26th doesn’t mean anything more to me than a day off work and the Triple J Hottest 100. Yes, I’m Australian, and I’m grateful to be Australian. I’m proud of the many good things my nation has done, and I’m ashamed of the many bad things my nation has done. But I feel that way – and am aware of the good things and the bad things – every single day. I don’t feel the need to set aside a particular day each year for it.

Call me unpatriotic if you like, but I’ve always been suspicious of patriotism. To my mind, patriotism is only a few steps away from nationalism, and nationalism is only a few steps away from fascism. I’m glad to be Australian, and I’m grateful for all this country has given me, but I express that by being a good citizen and doing my best to make this country better, not by sticking temporary tattoos on my face and waving a flag.

So moving or not moving the date is a race I do not have a horse in. As long as I get my day off work I don’t really care.

Adding some extra excitement to this year’s festivities is the debate (if bomb threats count as “debate”) over an Australia Day billboard featuring (OMG!) Muslims. The original billboard in Melbourne was taken down after the advertising company received threats, but in a nice example of the Streisand Effect this has prompted people to put up many more copies of it all over the place. Which has pissed off the Islamophobes even further. As with all issues of religion and race this is, frankly, a complete clusterfuck, but I can’t help but feel good about anything that makes bigots so angry. Generally speaking if whatever you’re doing is pissing off Nazis then you’re doing it right.

But anyway I didn’t come to talk about any of that. Came to talk about the Hottest 100.

I finally got around to voting some weeks back, and present below my favourite songs of the year. As is standard these days someone has done some number crunching and come up with a list of predictions, so I’ll reference the predicted placing and (when it comes up) the actual placing for each of my votes…

Girlie Bits – Ali Barter
Predicted Placing: 36
Actual Placing: 58 (Boo!)

Without a doubt my favourite track of the year – which given its very obvious 90’s stylings shows just how old and out of touch I am. It’s a song about being a female artist in the music industry, and how everyone wants you to write nice, pleasant, girlie songs about love and flowers and things, as opposed to anything that really matters, and to always look pretty and/or hot while singing them. A fantastic song on every level.

Daughter of the Light – Urthboy featuring Kira Puru
Predicted Placing: 168 (which is a fucking travesty)

The second best song of the year (as far as I’m concerned) is Urthboy’s tribute to his mum. Go and read the lyrics. Excuse me, I have something in my eye…

1955 – The Hilltop Hoods featuring Montaigne and Tom Thum
Predicted Placing: 6
Actual Placing: 4

Third best song of the year. Of all my choices, I think this one has the best chance of being number one. It most likely won’t be, but I’d be utterly shocked if it didn’t get into the top ten. A great track celebrating small-town life in the Adelaide hills with downright amazing vocals from Montaigne in the hook.

Genghis Khan – Miike Snow
Predicted Placing: 24
Actual Placing: 15

A catchy and slickly produced song with easily the best video of the year.

Catch 22 – Illy featuring Anne-Marie
Predicted Placing: 48
Actual Placing: 23

I’m really hitting the Aussie Hip-hop this year aren’t I? Catchy, fun tune simply about having a good time.

Weatherman – The Panics
Predicted Placing: 200+

Incredibly lush, spooky song with lots of layered, echoey sounds building to something truly epic. Probably too subtle for the common palate.

Frankie Sinatra – The Avalanches
Predicted Placing: 23
Actual Placing: 28

The Avalanches finally released their difficult second album last year with this infectious pile of rap and samples. The video clip however is one of those arty ones where the song keeps getting drowned out by the sound effects. As a short film it’s not bad. As a video clip it’s a bit crap.

Take Me Dancing – Sløtface
Predicted Placing – 200+ (Ridiculous!)

The video for Take Me Dancing on the other hand is deliberately cheap and amateurish. A great little rock-pop song, somewhat reminiscent of Metric (Haley Shea really sounds like Emily Haines on this track).

At this point I’d run out of tracks I really wanted to vote for, so I just grabbed the first two that came to mind that I liked. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there are plenty of other tracks I could have voted for as well. In hindsight I do regret not voting for Sarah Blasko’s cover of Life on Mars – which is predicted to come in at 88.

I Know A Girl – The Preatures
Predicted Placing – 176

The Arrow – Urthboy featuring Timberwolf
Predicted Placing – 200+

So there we go. I wonder how they’ll all go…

Stalingrad Tank Trap

by Purple Wyrm on January 2, 2017

Happy new year one and all! Let’s hope this year is somewhat less vicious when it comes to beloved celebrities and musicians.

Anyway, back in 2000 a Russian DJ by the name of Oleg Kvasha had a hit in Russia with a fairly generic dance track titled зеленоградское такси. For those of you unable to read Cyrillic (what are you doing with your life?) that’s Zelenogradskoe Taksi or Green City Taxi – although it often seems to be referred to as Zelenoglazoe Taksi instead which means Green-Eyed Taxi. Here it is…

Not long afterwards musician and TV presenter Aleksandr Pushnoy re-recorded a bunch of popular Russian pop  and dance songs in the style of scary German Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein – including of course Zelenoglazoe Taksi. And the result is glorious! 😀

The video – despite fitting so well – isn’t original to the song. It’s the intro from a 1994 computer game, the Doom clone Quarantine. In this game you play a post-apocalyptic taxi driver picking up and delivering passengers around the crazed streets of Kemo City, shooting up and running down attacking psychopaths with a variety of vehicle mounted weapons all the while. You know, good old fashioned fun.

Jumping forwards to 2007, the Austrian group Global Deejays released their own remix of the song, titled Zelenoglazoe Taxi

What’s interesting about this is that I strongly suspect it’s the inspiration for Stalingrad Tank Trap, a track mentioned in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novel Whispers Underground

I put my ear against the cold metal of the nearest door – the bass rumble was enough for me to identify the track.

‘”Stalingrad Tank Trap”,’ I said. ‘By Various Artiz.’

I like a bit of drum and bass to dance to, but Various Artiz were notorious for cranking out one identikit track after another – they were as close to mainstream as you could get on the club circuit without turning up on a Radio Two playlist.

My logic is as follows.The original name of the track referenced the Russian city of Zelenograd, hence “Zelenograd” = “Stalingrad”. “Tank Trap” sounds suspiciously similar to “Taxi”. Naming your group “Global Deejays” is only slightly less inane and generic than “Various Artiz”, and from what I can gather the general opinion of Global Deejays is pretty much as Peter narrates in the extract above. Quod Erat Demonstrandum!

Maybe I should tweet Mr Aaronovitch about it? Or maybe not 🙂

To quote the Propellerheads – that is all!

So here’s a thing…

by Purple Wyrm on November 26, 2016

Have a listen to 1:33 to 1:59 of TISM’s Greg! the Stop Sign (1995)…

Now have a listen to 17:14 to 18:00 of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Variations (1978)…

And finally, listen to the Shadows’ FBI (1961)

There’s quite a few references online to TISM quoting the Shadows, but I haven’t seen any noting the intermediate Andrew Lloyd Webber step that baroque-ised the middle bit.

On a side note, have a good listen to the Variations. There’s some very 70’s bits in there (four on the floor disco and jazz flute anyone?), but there’s also some damn good re-interpretations of the classics.