What is this I don’t even…

by Purple Wyrm on May 28, 2015

A client is having problems importing data from Excel into one of our systems. They’ve provided (after much prodding) a sample file so I’ve asked them for details on exactly how they’re trying to import it – what options they select, etc. Today I got the following response…

“Yes, this is the one of the way to import file (not direct way), just copy and paste to suit Excel import format column, then import it.”

Even if that was written in comprehensible English I suspect it would not answer my question.

This is How the World Ends

by Purple Wyrm on May 25, 2015

According to the always entertaining and informative Jason Colavito there are people out there (OK, one person) basing their view of human history on not just a literal interpretation of the Bible, and not just a literal interpretation of the books left out of the Bible, but on game supplements for Vampire: The Masquerade. Which they apparently think are genuine historical documents.

That’s it. I’m out. Build me a rocketship because I’m heading to Mars to start human society over again.

Eurovision 2015. Why are we here again?

by Purple Wyrm on May 24, 2015

So, it’s 2:55 in the morning, and rather than being tucked up nice and warm in bed I’m sitting here huddled under my doona watching SBS. Why you ask? Because it’s Eurovision! And not only is Australia in the contest for the first (and let’s face it, probably last) time ever, we can vote for the first time ever! There’s no way I’d miss this!

I haven’t researched any of the acts and I missed the semi-finals, so I’m going in completely cold. The only song I’ve heard is Guy Sebastian’s one (you can’t get away from it) and while there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s certainly not any kind of stand-out. So, let’s see (or hear) what’s to be seen (or heard).

My standard rating system will apply. A score of 1 to 5 (or 0 to 5 for particularly heinous atrocities) with an extra point for anyone who doesn’t sell out their cultural heritage by singing in English. Here we go!

Good lord there are some weird ads on at 3:00am!

Ah Beethoven! That’s some class at least.

Good morning Julia! And that other guy.

Building bridges eh?

Oo! A mysterious object! I could be mean and insensitive here, but I won’t be.

Ah, a tribute to Udo Jürgens. That’s nice.

A drag queen rising out of the floor. Could you get any more Eurovision?

Miming hosts. Classy.

I was wrong. A flying drag queen is much more Eurovision than one simply rising out of the floor.

Ah. Singing children. I know they’re the Vienna Boy’s Choir, but anyone playing Eurovision bingo has just got a free square.

And a rapper. This just gets better and better!

It’s the Olympics!

Hehe! Big cheer for Australia :)

Is that Celine Dion for Greece?

You know, it’s naff as hell, but occasionally Eurovision does provide a little bit of that everyone getting together and celebrating their countries in peace and brotherhood feel that it was actually founded for.

Hello!

Seems to be some heckling. Or possibly some geese have snuck into the hall?

1 Slovenia: Maraaya – Here For You
It’s headphones ago-ago from Slovenia! Oh wow, she’s nasal isn’t she? And someone in the background is attempting to channel Peter Garret. Seems like an OK song, but nothing to really write home about. Ah, the dancer is now doing nothing but air violin. Flashy lights! No wonder the dancer was having a seizure. A decent effort. 3/5

2 France: Lisa Angell – N’oubliez Pas
Ah France! You can always rely on France to sing in le français rather than selling out and going with English. A ruined post-war scene. That’s cheerful. Looks like we’re getting the standard political stuff early. Oo! Doves! Shoot them for food children! Hmmm, this ain’t bad really. International Rescue on drums! That’s a neat way to get around the restriction on performer numbers. Three out of five, plus one for singing in French. 4/5

3 Israel: Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
It’s N*Sync! Extra points for some Middle Eastern grooves. Minus points for “Before I leave let me show you Tel Aviv”, and gratuitous crotch thrusting. Key change! OK, I guess. 2.5/5

 4 Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday
I will happily support any act that contains someone named “Stig”. An instrument?! Played by a singer?! In Eurovision?! Oo, off key! Fake shadows! Inoffensive. 2.5/5

5 United Kingdom: Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You
The UK has a terrible habit of trying way too hard to win Eurovision, and then tripping over their own feet. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the horror that was Scooch. Let’s see if they can do any better this time around… Hmmm, going retro I see. Light up suits! And break dancing! And scat! I don’t think her voice is really carrying it. Actually not a bad effort given past attempts. 2.5 plus 1 for singing in English. 3.5/5

6 Armenia: Genealogy – Face The Shadow
Genealogy eh? If there’s not a genetic inheritance diagram somewhere in this performance, I shall be deeply disappointed. Operatic! With people wandering around moodily. Apparently one of them is Australian. Ah, there we go, kicking in a bit. Hmmm, a bit too complex really. Would probably be decent if there were less singers. Continents do not count as inheritance diagrams! 2.5/5

 7 Lithuania: Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila – This Time
Now this seems to have some potential. And some banjo. Oo! Controversial kissing! You know, if the music was mixed better I think this could be a pretty good song. Best so far! 4/5

8 Serbia: Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies
“Beauty Never Lies”. Channeling Keats are we? To quote the great Terry Wogan, she’s a well set up lump of a girl. Spooky masks! And posing! This isn’t half bad. Costume change! Mark off your bingo cards! Hipster! They’ve got a hipster!  Not bad! 3.5/5

9 Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
Monster eh? Maybe it’s a Lordi rip off! Hmmm, maybe not. Maybe Lorde though. Very moody. Ah, there’s the drums! Certainly the best duet so far. 4/5

 10 Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes
It would be nice if this was the Bowie song, but Eurovision rules prevent it. Stick people! Clever effects! Here comes the drop… hmmm, a bit repetitive. Could use a bit more base. Ah! Big scary face! Pretty good 4/5

11 Cyprus: John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done
It’s Elvis Costello! For a ballad this is surprisingly good. I wonder if it’ll kick in? Apparently not – brave decision! Reminds me of that song by that band from years ago. What was it? More than Words, that’s it! Simple, but really good! 4.5/5

 12 Australia: Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again
Well here we go! Hooray, hooray, Aussie Aussie Aussie and so forth. Let’s hope Guy doesn’t embarrass us. You know, say what you like about Guy Sebastian, but he has a hell of a voice. Another hipster! And street lamps, for some reason. This is actually a pretty good track, it has a good beat, and the build up to the chorus is particularly clever. Maybe we have a chance? 4.5/5

13 Belgium: Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside
Plucky little Belgium. Performers all in white, tick off another bingo square! Not bad so far. What is with that dancing? Sparse, but catchy. I like it! 4/5

14 Austria: The Makemakes – I Am Yours
I presume this group have named themselves after the dwarf planet, rather than the chief god of the bird man cult of Rapa Nui. Although in Eurovision land, who knows? Actual instruments! This is pretty good. Ah! FIRE!! FIRE!! Your piano is on fire!! What are you doing!? Don’t keep playing man! RUN!! 4.5/5

All these good tracks! I may have to recalibrate my rating system…

15 Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath
Greece has a history of rather bland entries that nonetheless do rather well. Lets’ see. Is that a Stargate? Is that Celine Dion? Ah, the reliable old piano ballad. Evanescence light. I said it’d be bland didn’t I? The Stargate opens and there’s a key change! Ended better than it started, but still pretty meh. 3/5

16 Montenegro: Knez – Adio
Finally! A non-English song that isn’t from France! Extra points for the Montenegrans! Stars and violins. Nice beat. Frozen dancers. Now this is what Eurovision should be about! Ethnic influenced music and completely incomprehensible lyrics! Moody and dark. I like it! Folk dancing! 4.5/5

17 Germany: Ann Sophie – Black Smoke
Germany is usually good value. Searchlights? This is well sung, but kind of bland. 3/5

18 Poland: Monika Kuszyńska – In The Name Of Love
Sadly not a U2 cover. A white piano! Keep ticking off those boxes bingo fans! I wonder if it’ll catch on fire? A bit bland. Is that archive footage from before her accident? I can’t decide if that’s inspiring, morbid or simply exploitative. Nothing special here I’m afraid. 3/5

19 Latvia: Aminata – Love Injected
Do they have potato? A giant red, structural dress. OK. Woah, that’s one hell of a voice! Now, this is also what Eurovision is about – incomprehensible weirdness and hand dancing. 4/5

20 Romania: Voltaj – De La Capat/All Over Again
Nice try Romania, but if you want bonus points from me, you need to sing the whole damn thing in your native tongue! Although you do score a few points for having Ming the Merciless as your lead singer. This isn’t bad. Reminds me of U2 a bit. Nice. 4.5/5

21 Spain: Edurne – Amanecer
Fully non-English. Huzzah! You know, there’s not enough wizard robes in Eurovision this year. I notice hers is red, marking her as neutral, although she needs more fake tan to cosplay as Raistlin. Oo! Costume change! You know, I quite enjoyed that! 4.5/5

22 Hungary: Boggie – Wars For Nothing
It’s a tradition in Eurovision for someone to sing a song about how horrible war is, and how we should all just get along. It will probably be in poorly phrased English too. Oo! A gun tree! Hmmm, pretty much what you’d expect. Good message, dull song. 2.5/5

23 Georgia: Nina Sublatti – Warrior
Well, at least someone is channeling Lordi. Lightning and shoulder pads! So much smoke you can hardly see her! Hilarious! I never thought I’d say this, but she could do with some backup dancers or something. Just standing there in the middle of the stage is kind of boring. Giant eyes! Interesting attempt, but not ultimately successful. 3.5/5

24 Azerbaijan: Elnur Huseynov – Hour Of The Wolf
By this point in the contest we’re all looking at the clock, and hoping that something will happen to cancel the remaining acts so we can get the voting over and done with. Having them eaten by wolves would be something of a mercy. Ah, now this is more like Eurovision! Guy sings ballad while couple in weird costumes cavort about the stage. Nothing special, but nothing terrible. 3/5

25 Russia: Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices
After last year’s boo-ing it’s probably only to be expected that Russia would try for something positive and uniting. Of course it’s just as likely that the million voices are those of pro-Putin trolls on the FSB payroll. Here in the background we see the black hole of Russia, sucking in human rights and democracy! Good song though! 4/5

26 Albania: Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive
This late in the show it’s amazing that anyone’s alive. Hmmm, this is OK, but nothing stunning. 3/5

27 Italy: Il Volo – Grande Amore
And finally, plucky little Italy brings it home with the fourth of the night’s non-English songs (I’m still counting you out Romania!). Winners of the San Remo song contest. Ah, they seem to be one of those pop-opera groups I find so annoying. Horses! Why have actual smoke on stage when you can put in on the screen? Competent, but nothing really special. 3.5/5

So that’s that then! Now, who am I going to vote for…

OK, after much thought I’ve decided that I enjoyed Romania the most, even though they didn’t stick to Romanian. I could cheat and vote multiple times, but I won’t. Eurovision voting is a sacred trust!

So, that’s the songs done with! Now we get the traditionally naff performance that takes up the voting period. What will it be this year? Dancers? Views of the Alps? Singing frogs? (I’m looking at you Greece!). Ah, it’s drums! They’re pretty good.

Bridges! They’re bridges! Amazing!

That guy with the sledgehammer looks like a happy chappy.

Is that the theme from Dallas?

And Conchita returns while they tally the votes.

OK, let’s do this! It would be nice if Australia won – the novelty factor combined with our political neutrality and a pretty decent song give us a chance – but I’m not holding my breath. Russia could well romp it in.

Arrgh! I don’t know how much longer I can stay awake!

Well, Italy’s doing well.

Suzy! Get your act together!

Looks like a three horse race between Italy, Russian and Sweden.

Get on with it Azerbaijan!

We seem to be getting votes from most countries. Good!

Estonia! You’re letting the side down!

Eight points! Thank you Denmark! I wonder how many of those came from the royal palace?

And another eight from Switzerland! Was that you Matt? ;D

Woohoo! Twelve from Sweden! Thank you! 😀

Ah, it’s Lee Lin Chin.

Twelve from Austria! I wonder if some Austrians got confused? :)

Thanks Hungary! Eight points!

Thanks Nigella! Ten points from the UK!

Get it together Georgia!

Eight points from the Netherlands! Thanks!

And another Eight from Poland! Thank you!

Looks like it’s going to be between Sweden and Russia.

San Marino gets a vote? Cool! And they gave the UK some much needed points. And another eight for us, thanks!

Sweden probably has it, but Russia is still in it with a chance!

Thanks Iceland! Eight points.

Well there we are! Sweden! What did they sing again? Oh, the stick figures and the big scary face! Well done!

Ten points from Norway! Thank you!

Portugal again.

Estonia again.

Georgia again.

And there we go! Sweden wins, Australia comes fifth. I’m happy with that! And now I’m going back to bed! Goodnight all! :)

A Challenge

by Purple Wyrm on May 20, 2015

Here’s a challenge for you regulars and random drop-ins. How would you describe me in a sentence of no more than ten words?

Or if that’s too much hard work, here’s a delightful cartoon about a funny horsie.

On France

by Purple Wyrm on May 19, 2015

France is a pentagonal country located in Western Europe, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Antarctica and near Canada. In the middle of France is an island called France. In the middle of the island is a city. In the middle of the city is an island and in the middle of the island is a hunchback. The city is called Paris, and has nothing to do with the Trojan War.

Paris has an iron tower, a painting of a lady, tunnels lined with skulls and Jim Morrison.

Three languages are spoken in France, French, Breton and Occitan. Nobody understands Breton and nobody speaks Occitan. French people walk on stilts and sleep all winter. They will kiss you whether you want them to or not.

France was founded by Charlemagne who owned an elephant and was the grandson of a hammer. He shed the blood of the Saxon men. France famously killed their king and then set up new kings all over Europe to say sorry. They surrendered to Hitler in World War II, but you probably would have as well.

England and France fight all the time, except when they’re friends.

If French people don’t kiss you, they may instead blow you up. Boum!

That is really all you need to know about France.

Some Free Business Advice

by Purple Wyrm on May 11, 2015

Let us assume that you have a website, which is hosted and managed by a website company.

And let us assume that you decide you want a new website, hosted and managed by a different website company.

Let us furthermore assume that rather than inform your original website company that you’re going to terminate your business relationship, you decide to conceal the fact that you are having a replacement website built.

And finally let us assume that you decide to send a ‘Preview our New Website!’ email out to some of your customer database.

Well. You may want to check that the selection of customers you’re sending that email out to does not contain the email addresses of any developers from the website company you’re sneaking around the back of.

Unless of course you’re pathologically passive-aggressive or something…

Waiting for the Royal Dawn

by Purple Wyrm on May 6, 2015

So, it turns out that I had the lyrics of M83’s brilliant Midnight City completely wrong.

I thought it went…

Waiting for the call,
Waiting for the royal dawn,
Tonight the city grows,
Who can see the royalty glow?
Waiting for the call,
Waiting for the royal dawn,
Drinking in the love,
Following the neon signs,
Waiting for the world,
Looking at the mutated skyline,
City is my church,
It wraps me with sparkling twilight,

Which sounds downright mystical. But in actual fact it goes…

Waiting in a car,
Waiting for a ride in the dark,
The night city grows,
Look and see her eyes, they glow,
Waiting in a car,
Waiting for a ride in the dark,
Drinking in the lounge,
Following the neon signs,
Waiting for a roar,
Looking at the mutating skyline,
City is my church,
It wraps me in the sparkling twilight,

Which is OK, but more…. mundane than I figured.

Oh well, It’s still a damn good track, and I’ll still sing along with my words! :)

The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter II, The Shadow of the Past

by Purple Wyrm on April 29, 2015

‘I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.’

‘Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.’

— Frodo and Gandalf discuss Gollum. The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter II, The Shadow of the Past

A Windmill full of Corpses

by Purple Wyrm on April 13, 2015

Spent much of the weekend down in Busselton at Ryan and Jackie’s place, along with Fabes who was kind enough to drive us both down there and back. Rather than appreciating the natural wonders and relaxing pace of the southwest, we spent all our time indoors playing games. Well, that’s the people we are, what are you gonna do?

The big hit of the weekend was Cards Against Humanity. I’ve been wanting to get a copy for ages and Paula was kind enough to give me one for my birthday, so we tried it out. The results were appalling, which is exactly what they should be. Good taste (and the fear of being raided by the Federal Police) prevent me from repeating the best combinations we came up with, but I can share a few of the slightly less offensive ones that had us in hysterics…

“When I was tripping on acid, an endless stream of diarrhea turned into the cool refreshing taste of Pepsi!”

“Bad life choices + a robust mongoloid = my sex life”

“Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and here is a windmill full of corpses”

Such fun! We also learnt about Aaron Burr, object permanence and the three fifths compromise, so you can’t say it’s not educational!

Changing course entirely, here’s an unreleased KLF track I stumbled across the other day. It’s from 1989, was the basis for Last Train to Trancentral and Wichita Lineman was a Song I Once Heard, and is awesome! So everyone, Go to Sleep.

Reflections

by Purple Wyrm on April 3, 2015

One of the most important things a parent can provide to their child is consistency.

I recall an incident from many years ago, back when I was a kid and still living at home. It was a Good Friday, and as good Catholics my brother, mother and I were fasting and abstaining from meat. Doing so makes for a pretty miserable day, but there was one thing that made it bearable, which was having a decent feed of fish and chips when dinner time came around.

So we phoned through and placed an order (nice and early, Good Friday being the peak day for fish and chip consumption nationwide) and Dad went off and picked it up. He bought it home and in the kitchen he and Mum divided it up onto the plates. I grabbed mine, and reached for the tomato sauce, only to be prevented by mum who in a very serious and pious voice declared that fancy condiments were forbidden on the day of Christ’s crucifixion, and that the only salt (representing the world’s tears) and vinegar (like that offered to Jesus on a sponge and hyssop stick) would be permitted.

So I doused my food with salt and vinegar and went off to watch TV.

A year or so later Easter again rolled around, and again we fasted and abstained until dinner time when Dad went off to pick up the fish and chips. Once again it was divided into portions and as I waited to grab the suitability pious condiments of salt and vinegar I was somewhat shocked to see Mum smear tartar sauce all over her fish, then reach for the tomato sauce bottle. In puzzlement I suggested that we should only have salt and vinegar on Good Friday, and Mum looked at me like I was insane.

It was one of very few occasions when I lost a bit of respect for her.

My brother and I had quite a strict Catholic upbringing. I didn’t actually realise this for many years, not until my brother mentioned it – ruefully – at a party. My imediate response was to laugh and declare “as if!”, but on thinking about it I realised – to my surprise – that he was right. We were sent to Catholic school. We attended church every Sunday morning and all through Easter. We were both enrolled as altar servers and inducted into the Guild of St Stephen. We received all the Sacraments when they came around. We said prayers every night, and instead of bedtime stories we got read the Bible from end to end. It would be hard to imagine a more Catholic upbringing without involving a drunken Irishman whipping us with a belt for the Sin of Disobedience.

Skipping church was, of course, a big deal. The only excuse was serious illness. I recall one Sunday towards the end of my schooling when I had a big exam coming up and I declared that I couldn’t go to church because I had to study. It took a good twenty minutes of arguing before Mum backed down, and even then she was in a foul mood all day and had Dad keep checking on me to make sure I was actually studying rather than goofing off.

In spite of occasional incidents like the former, my upbringing never really rankled with me. Call it autistic, but I accepted this state of being as the only possible state of being. I was born already having drunk the Kool-Aid. My childhood was one of earnest piety, and religious conviction followed me well into my teens – even as I modified my beliefs to deal with irreligious friends and raging hormones. I tend to think of myself as a rational being, and remember myself as a rational teenager, but I can also recall thoughts that seem quiet strange and alien to me now. Worrying about the immortal soul of a girl I had a crush on who was known to be sexually active, or being both shocked and saddened when my friend Ryan stopped going up to Communion at school masses.

Religiosity also affected my social life, or lack thereof. For much of my teens I tried to avoid romantic entanglements on the basis that they could only lead to temptations that couldn’t be fulfilled, sex before marriage being a dreadful sin and something I would never do. The lack of dating and social experience resulting from this philosophy turned it into something of a self fulfilling prophecy – by the time I revised my views it was too late to be the gawkish, shy, inexperienced guy, a problem that still has an effect on my romantic endeavors to this day.

My brother, I think, had it worse however. Where I was happy to spend much of my teen years as some kind of contemplative monk, he rankled under the rules and restrictions.He was social and outgoing, having his behaviour tested and scrutinised through a religious lens must have been excuciating. On top of this, coming to terms with the fact that you’re gay is not easy for any teenager, let alone one raised in a Catholic household and attending a Catholic school. Discussion of feelings and emotions is just not done in our family so I don’t know the full scope of his suffering, but I knew at the time that he had some kind of problems, and looking back I see that they must have been awful. I don’t think that I was much help either, floating along in my self assured little cloud. The depression and anxiety that I’ve been bedeviled with since my early twenties really makes me despise some of the ignorant attitudes towards mental suffering that I had – and expressed – as a teenager.

So, here we are at another Easter. I no longer consider myself a Catholic, I’m more of a sort of agnostic-pantheist who believes in a Deity but will happily admit that no hard evidence for such a Deity exists, and therefore I could very easily be completely deluded. I’ll more than likely attend church at some point this weekend, if only to hold up the traditions and to keep Mum happy. Then I’ll eat my chocolate and wish good to all those who wish good unto others.

Happy Easter!