If I danced, I’d dance like David Byrne

So it’s come to this then?

I try not to do the omg look at this its so kewll rofl!!! thing too much on this blog, because I figure if you’re reading it it’s because you want to hear what I’ve got to say (yes, dream on…). But this entry by the Tensor (someone who I don’t know but keep meaning to add a permenant link to because he always makes for good reading) is genuinely worth having a look at.

Not only are the eponymous dances truly bizzare (I particularly like David Byrne’s “Soothing the Earth”) but the music’s worth hearing too. The original (?) version of Mad World for instance sounds very strange if you’re used to the version from the Donnie Darko soundtrack. And True Faith is awesome! (well it’s New Order so it’d probably have to be wouldn’t it?)

So, um, yeah. Check it out. omg. rofl.

Elves and Orcs – Eurovision 2006

A rather vicious and biased round up of the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest from Athens, Greece.

OK, last Sunday (as previously mentioned) I stayed up to watch Europe’s premier kitsch-fest – the Eurovision Song Contest. As I do every year I kept notes with the aim of writing up a review, and this year have actually managed to do so within a reasonable amount of time (it’s only taken me all weekend). So here I am proud to present the Wyrm’s round up of Eurovision 2006!

(Oh, by the way I tend to take the same attitude to Eurovision that the Wogun does – it’s an excuse to be extremely nasty and vicious about people who are only trying their best. This is slightly uncharitable, but lots of fun – if you want a balanced and resonable review please go elsewhere šŸ™‚

So, this year the competition was held in Athens – Greece having won last year. It was apparently held in the Olympic basketball stadium, which seems as good a place as any. The competition logo seems to have been based on the Phaistos Disc, which was a nice touch.

The opening was as strange as any Eurovision opening, involving a large, hovering golden sphere with dancers in winged constumes glued to the outside. This wobbled around above the stage for a bit while more dancers cavorted around dressed as various types of sea life (the dophin costumes were particularly good). Last year’s winner appeared and did some wailing that might in fact have been a reprise of her winning song – I’m not sure because frankly it was fairly unmemorable and I didn’t waste any neurons putting it into long term storage. Then finally the hosts flew in on wires and after saying ‘amazing’ a lot introduced the first country – Switzerland.


Switzerland

Artist: six4one   Song: If We All Give A Little   Language: English

Switzerland’s effort was a fairly banal “why can’t we all get along” type song, sung line by line by different group members in a fashion not unlike a boy band. It was vaguely reminiscent of We Are the World and really didn’t have much to recommend it at all. The singers set a trend by being dressed all in white, something that would occur again and again as the evening progressed.

My Rating: nul points


Moldova

Artist: Arsenium feat. Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R   Song: Loca (Crazy)   Language: English

Moldova’s act consisted of a Britney Spears impersonator who kept changing her costume, some general people trying to act all ‘urban’ (and failing badly) and a Rasta-rapper on a razor scooter. Toktru, it was all rather dull, repetative and unmemorable. Next!

My Rating: nul points


Israel

Artist: Eddie Butler   Song: Together We Are One   Language: English/Hebrew

At last someone singing in their native language! With English bits. Well, it was a start at least. The song started out like sub-par Lighthouse Family, and then ended up as sub-par Whitney Houston. They even tried the “cut the music – make everyone clap their hands” trick, which didn’t really seem to work. Naturally they were all dressed in white.

My Rating: 1 Point for linguistic integrity


Latvia

Artist: Cosmos   Song: I Hear Your Heart   Language: English

Now this was interesting, because the entire song was done a capella. Unfortunately that’s as interesting as it got. It kind of sounded like a Back Street Boys attempt at hip-hop, and was every bit as mediocre as that sounds. Towards the end one of the singers (all of whom were in white) produced a sort of bizzare miniature robot thing and started walking it around the stage. Possibly this meant something to any Latvians in the audience, but I just found it rather confusing.

My Rating: 1 Point for doing something different, -1 Point for involving a hand operated robot-man


Norway

Artist: Christine Guldbrandsen   Song: Alvedansen (The Elf Dance)   Language: Norwegian

Norway’s effort was actually fairly good. There was spooky violin mixed with electronic base and it was all in Norwegian. There was an uneccesary violin solo in the middle, and they were all dressed in white, but overall it was a quite listenable performance.

My Rating: 6 Points


Spain

Artist: Las Ketchup   Song: Bloody Mary   Language: Spanish

This entry was in Spanish. That’s the only good thing about it. It consisted of 4 rather annoyed looking girls dressed in red, dancing with office chairs and screetching at the audience while two men in black danced around aimlessly. The screetching was nasal and off tune and the whole thing sounded like dull 80’s pop. As the Wogun said “I don’t think Spain cares anymore!”

My Rating: 1 Point because it was in Spanish – understanding the words would have probably made it worse.


Malta

Artist: Fabrizio Faniello   Song: I do   Language: English

Fabrizio Faniello’s song was techo influenced drum-machine-pop. It was mildly listenable in an inoffensive way, even if it did rip off every sucessful pop/dance track of the 90’s. He was a bit off tune in parts, but it can’t be easy having eyebrows like that so we can probably forgive him.

My Rating: 3 Points


Germany

Artist: Texas Lightning   Song: No No Never   Language: English

OK, I have an embarrasing revelation to make. I don’t mind a little bit of country music. Now, I hasten to add that you won’t find me out buying Conway Twitty records or anything, but I find the occasional well written country song with a good beat somewhat enjoyable. Like this entry. Exactly why Germany decided to enter a country song I will never comprehend, but it was a quite good effort and the band went all out with stetson hats and those suit-things that aren’t quite suits that Texans wear when they want to dress up. So I actualy quite liked this act, even it was about as German as George Bush.

My Rating: 6 Points


Denmark

Artist: Sidsel Ben Semmane   Song: Twist of Love   Language: English

This sounded like a 1980’s cover of a 1950’s rock song, so actually wasn’t too bad. The performers were all in white, and there was a break dancing non-guitar player in a waistcoat, and the tune was reminiscent of Abba’s Ring Ring. I didn’t mind this.

My Rating: 5 Points


Russia

Artist: Dima Bilan   Song: Never Let You Go   Language: English

Mullet Alert! It’s well known that Russia fell into a sort of fashion black hole around 1987 and never climbed out, but do they really have to send a guy in a (white) singlet with a mullet to Eurovision? And then do they have to make him sing like Justin Timberlake doing an angsty Backstreet Boys cover? There was a grand piano (white) on stage that didn’t do anything until right at the end when a woman’s torso emerged from it, turning it into a sort of ineffectual piano-centaur – this was as interesting as the performance got.

My Rating: 1 Point for creating a new entry for the AD&D Monsterous Manual


F.Y.R. of Macedonia

Artist: Elena Risteska   Song: Ninanajna   Language: English/Macedonian

Well, obviously the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia thought they were entering a Jennifer Lopez impersonator contest rather than Eurovision. How else to explain this act? I could carry on about the dancers and such, but ‘J-Lo’ is all you really need to know.

My Rating: 1 Point for singing in (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonian


Romania

Artist: Mihai Traistariu   Song: Torner

The Winter of Cobb

Finally some decent weather, and how I’ve found myself working alongside my third favourite Firefly character.

It’s a dark, grey morning in Perth with low cloud, persistant drizzle and lightning flickering in the sky – the kind of morning that really makes you feel alive. Despite this I’m rather groggy and sleep deprived, mainly from staying up late on Sunday to watch Eurovision (Go Finland!) and from the aforementioned lightning that kept me awake for a good portion of last night. Oh well, at least it means winter might finally be upon us.

My co-worker Bevan turned up at work yesterday with one of those moustache plus goatee mini beard things that I’m sure there’s a name for. Given that he cut his hair fairly short a few weeks back, and that he’s about 6 foot tall and heavily built, he now bears a startling resemblance to Jayne Cobb.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

Pope Killed by Inferior Wine

Sleep Apnoea, Warrior Monks and Tamsin Greig

Well how about that, Finnish horror glam rock group Lordi (or as the Wogun calls them ‘The Orcs’) seem to have won Eurovision. Well done them. The best Eurovision entries are always the ones where everyone just decides to be extremely silly, and Lordi are the silliest thing I’ve seen in years. I mean the lead singer (‘Mr Lordi’ apparently) has wings! Wings!

Anyway there’s been another long gap between entries (for which I must apologise) but at least it means I have more to write about.

First up, I got the results of my sleep study. Apparently I snore for 70% of the time I’m asleep. Great. I also stop breathing an average of 11.7 times an hour, which works out to just over every five minutes. During these events my blood oxygen level drops down to about 87% meaning my brain isn’t getting enough oxygen – which pretty neatly explains why I’m so gorram tired all the time.

Most of the events are down to Obstructive Apnoea, which is where the soft tissue of the throat relaxes too much, collapses and blocks airflow. However some of them are apparently the result of Central Apnoea, which is where the brainstem decides breathing is optional and stops telling the lungs to work. This can be caused by all sorts of exciting things like brain lesions, brain tumours and degenerative neurological disorders – but sometimes just happens for no reason anyone can figure out. According to the doctors I almost certainly don’t have any of these things, but I’ve got an appointment with a specialist in a few weeks to check it out.

The specialist will also figure out some form of treatment, the most common of which is being hooked up to a breathing machine*OK, yes, technically it’s not a breathing machine, all it does is maintain pressure in the airway to keep it open – I was simplifying, satisfied? while you sleep. This is apparently quite inconvenient but most people find the improvement in sleep quality more than outweighs it. I have to admit I’m looking forwards to trying it out because frankly I don’t think I’ve had a proper night’s sleep in about twenty years.

One upshot of the diagnosis is that I’ve finally got my plan to take time off work working. For ages I’ve been planning to take one day off work a fortnight (so I’ll have time to actually DO stuff) but haven’t had the opportunity (or guts šŸ™‚ to bring it up with Dale. But a story on Triple J’s Hack about negotiating in the workplace gave me some tips and I finally broached the subject – using apnoea induced sleep deprivation and possible brain tumours to generate sympathy. And it worked! Starting in two weeks I’ll be taking every second Monday off. Caloo calay!

This will give me more time to work on various projects. The latest one I’m all excited about is an old school computer game (development title ‘Monkstorm’) where you control a 14th century French Monk armed with warhammer, incense and holy water battling his way through hordes of zombies in a cursed monastery to rescue sacred relics that can ward off the plague (sort of like an ecclesiastical version of Resident Evil :). I’m looking at building it in Game Maker, which I’ve been fooling around with – it seems like an excellent program for this kind of thing. I’ve also been throwing together some graphics (compiled largely from the RPG Maker series), which I may post below – if I can be bothered šŸ™‚

Monkstorm!

If Monkstorm ever does get up and running it won’t be for a while because I’m waiting on the actual Game Maker book. It’s much easier to learn a program when you’ve got a physical manual on hand. And it will of course be released as freeware – to minimise any potential problems with copyright infringements.

(Now I’ve just got to find some character sprites that don’t look like pokemons or manga midgets *sigh*)

Now, what else was I going to write about? How about Purdey? Things still seem to be going great, we spent much of last Sunday over at the folk’s place for Mother’s Day (my family didn’t freak her out too much I think :), then went out for dinner with Rebecca and Dom. We were supposed to meet them at “Wogga Mamma’s” in Subiaco, which I’d never heard of but presumed was a small Italian place – possibly with an amusingly stereotyped “Mamma” character on the menus. As it turned out the place was actually a chain Asian fusion place named “Wagamama” which really shows just how fantastic my hearing is over the phone. But it turned out OK because the food was pretty good and the prices very reasonable. We’ll probably be going back again, especially since Rebecca forced us to join their frequent diners scheme (any half hearted objections on my behalf were quashed by Rebecca’s pointing out that she forced me to join RSVP, and look how well that turned out).

She (that is to say Purdey) is coming over this afternoon and we’re heading off for high tea at the Hyatt for my brother’s birthday. I really like it that she’s willing to traipse off to these kind of ridiculous family events with me šŸ˜€

What else was there I was going to talk about. The Prime Minister staying six nights in a $10,000 a night hotel in Rome perhaps? There’s our tax dollars at work! No, that’s right! Black Books. I treated myself to the season one DVD of Black Books, a show that I saw the first episode of some years back, then consistently managed to miss right up to the start of the third season. For those unfamiliar with it it’s a rather insane British sitcom about an alcoholic misanthrope named Bernard Black who runs an eccentrically sinister bookshop in Bloomsbury, and his (quite possibly only) two friends. Manny – a balding, bearded, well meaning weirdo who works in said shop, and Fran – the semi-alcoholic, man-obsessed proprietor of the fairly crappy gift shop next door. Now, OK, that doesn’t sound terribly entertaining, but this is more down to my poor powers of description than anything else šŸ™‚

The series veers a rather erratic path between rather dark humour and completely inane silliness. First season plots for instance include Bernard trying to get himself seriously injured to avoid having to do his tax (a feat he achieves by taunting some Millwall fans) and Manny getting locked into the store overnight and having to eat bees. It’s fantastic! šŸ™‚

I guess the real reason I enjoy the show so much is twofold. Firstly Bernard runs his bookstore exactly the way I would. Eccentric opening hours, trying not to sell anything because then he’d just have to restock and herding customers out the door with a megaphone whenever they get two annoying. The second reason – Tamsin Greig šŸ™‚

Anyway I’d best be off to prepare for high tea *shudder*. At least the sandwiches aren’t bad I suppose.

Some Goodly Things

Some goodly things that happened yesterday

Yesterday a number of goodly things occurred.

Telstra have finally got their act together and I have “broadbands”. Hooray! The downside is I’ve now got to think of something to do with it. After a year and half (or so) of living with slow, unreliable dial up I’m used to hopping online and then franticaly trying to achieve a few brief things before the connection dies. The luxury of always-on, speedy access leaves me kind of stunned. I spent a good ten minutes (OK, maybe 30 seconds) just sitting there looking at the screen thinking “Well what do I do now?” šŸ™‚

My fancy ergonomic mice arrived. I’ve been getting pains in my wrist and arm, and rather than bothering to get in shape or spend less time on the computer or adopt a healthy lifestyle or anything I plumbed for a band-aid solution and bought two vertical mice. One for home and one for the office. They look very cool and funky, and (at this early stage) are about as easy and comfortable to use as a house brick on a piece of string – but no doubt I’ll get used to them. And they seem to be doing some good – I’m still getting arm pains, but they’re in different places, so I figure that’s an improvement.

I discovered that I’d somehow managed to misplace two Wonderfalls DVDs – meaning there’s eight entire episodes I haven’t seen (as opposed to none). Well, I know what I’m doing this weekend!

I still have no hot water, but this may be down to the gas problems which are supposed to be fixed today – so maybe I’ll be able to have a shower tonight.

Oh, I almost forgot, two new additions to the client stupidity file emerged this week!

Example 1

Client: I was wondering, I’ve been taking orders from my website for the last year and shipping the goods – when do I get the money?
Us: Sorry?
Client: Well I’ve sent out $4000 worth of goods, when are you going to give me the money?
Us: Ah… You have been clicking the ‘Process Credit Card’ button when you process your orders – right?
Client: No – What’s that?
Us: The button you click to actually charge people.
Client: Oh. Can I do that now?
Us: Well, yes, except for the orders that are more than 6 months old because they won’t have credit card details anymore.
Client: Oh.

(For the record, all our clients receive full training on how to process orders, get a manual including full instructions on how to process orders and when they have their first order come through we phone them up and step them through processing it.)

Example 2

Client: Thanks for spending the last two months building our database driven website – the $3000 has been really worth it. Can you talk to these Suppliers? We need you to integrate their search form into the site.
Us: No worries
Supplier: Right, this is how you add the search form.
Us: OK… right that’s working fine.
Supplier: Great. Now how are we going to switch the rest of the site over to our systems?
Us: Sorry?
Supplier: Well I’ve had a look at the site, and they’d be much better using our database system. We can offer them a lot more.
Us: Right…..
Supplier: We can set up the rest of the pages the same way at the search results – that way they’ll be getting a lot more value for money.
Us: Er….
Supplier: Our system works a lot better than the way the site is currently set up. I can run you through some examples of other sites using it if you like. They’ll find it a lot easier to use and maintain.
Us: Uh… I think you’d probably better talk to them about this.
Supplier: Really? Are you sure?
Us: Well, considering we’ve just spent the last two months building their website and setting them up on our system…
Supplier: But our system has a lot of advantages. They can get figures direct from our database and integrate them…
Us: Yeah, um, look, talk to them OK?.
Supplier: (surprised) OK…

Now that’s optimism. Attempting to steal a contract by pitching the idea to the actual people you’re trying to steal it from. Been to one too many sales seminars I think šŸ™‚

LATER: Podcasts! Of course! Thanks Ryan šŸ˜€

Besieged by Morlocks

Continuing utility problems down on the range

OK, woke up this morning with no hot water – which isn’t too surprising since various workmen seem to have spent much of yesterday digging great holes in the gardens, drilling small holes through the concrete footpaths and generally creating an almighty mess. It seems that even more ruptured water pipes have been discovered and that the entire complex is in iminant danger of either floating away or sinking.

There also seem to have been some gas problems. When I got home yesterday every unit had an Alinta notice shoved under the door saying that the gas had been shut off and explaining how to turn it back on. There was also a noticable gassy smell around the place which persisted until at least this morning. Hopefully I won’t arrive home tonight to find the complex reduced to a smoking crater after my downstairs neighbours inopportunately try to light their bongs.

(Inopportunately. Is that a word? Am I using it right? Am I spelling it right?)

Holes in the water pipes, holes in the gas pipes. The only explanation is the complex is constructed over a nest of subterranean Mole Men who’ve recently invented the hand drill. Soon we’ll all be besieged by Morlocks!

Oh boy, the heads are gonna roll!

President Bush finally gets some good advice.

You know, now and then something comes along that’s just so wonderful that you have to share it. Like this – a transcript of the speech delivered by one Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday. A dinner that by the way included the President and First Lady in the audience. Some highlights include…

…guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in “reality.” And reality has a well-known liberal bias…

…the greatest thing about [the President] is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man’s beliefs never will….

…You can ask [the Reverend Jesse Jackson] anything, but he’s going to say what he wants, at the pace that he wants. It’s like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is….

…Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I’d like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar, I guess is what I’m describing, a seasonal cookie…

Someone at the White House press office is in so much trouble! šŸ˜€

Returning to my own insignificant life there was hot water geysering up from beneath the footpath when I set out for work this morning. While I’d like to put this down to rambunctous geothermal activity, it’s more likely the sign of yet another fractured pipe, which means I may or may not have hot water when I get home tonight. The Strata Company have arranged an Extrodinary General Meeting later on this month to approve a once off $150 per unit pipe levy to get the problem sorted once and for all. It’ll be interesting to see how many people turn up – the usual attendance at these things is about 6, but the prospect of having to pay money might stir up some democracy (by which I mean people yelling things like “Why should we have to pay to fix the pipes!? That’s the Strata company’s job!!” and “Why weren’t the pipes built right in the first place!?” or “Why didn’t the Strata Company see this coming and fix it!” and “I’m not paying anything until I have hot water!”).

*sigh*

N

Rambling comments when a simple link would probably do.

Stumbled over this the other day.

Damned impressive effort (requiring an equally impressive effort to read all the way through šŸ™‚ but there is no way in Arda you could fit it all into a three hour movie. A six hour TV miniseries perhaps (although the budget would obviously suffer). It would be a good sight better than that appaling attempt at doing Earthsea a while back at any rate (Let’s make everyone white! Let’s completely ignore the author’s opinions! Let’s publicly state that we’re ignoring what the books say because we’re not interested in an audience who read!).

But hey, it’s not like it’ll ever get made anyway, will it?

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