Things I Hate (The Ongoing Series)

We have a language people, use it!

  1. People who say “change tact” when they mean “change tack”. Example: So I said we had to change tact…
  2. People who can’t tell the difference between “cliché” and “clichéd”. Example: The plot was so cliché!
  3. People who can’t tell the difference between “to” and “too”. Example: Can I come to?


Comedians are ruining everything!

The other week it was the season finale of Spooks , a show that I rarely get to watch because the ABC puts it on at such ridiculous times. I decided to stay up and watch it this particular Friday however as the plot involved the Thames Flood Barrier – a feat of engineering I’ve always generally approved of, and the flooding of London, something I’ve generally approved of (at least in fiction) ever since I started reading FreakAngels.

(And yes, readers in the UK will at this point be scoffing and making general noises of disdain about how the Thames Flood Barrier episode is old and how the UK has got much better episodes now and Australia is so backwards. Well, when it comes to the ABC’s showing of Spooks I wholeheartedly agree.)

Anyway at one point during the episode one of the characters – the one who lost his wife a while back (I see the show so rarely that I don’t know the names of any of the characters so that description will have to do) – is having a nervous breakdown in the bowels of the Barrier (do flood barriers have bowels?). This is indicated by the well established trope of fixing the camera on his face, and having him go spinning around and around, so his head remains stationary while the background whirls around wildly. An effective visual metaphor for a mind gone out of control.

Except that it didn’t do that for me. All I could think of while watching it was “da dadada da dadadada da da dadada da da dadadada da DA DADADA DA! These are the surprising adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar featuring me, Sir Digby Chicken Caesar in my ongoing quest to find my nemesis, some bastard who’s presumably behind it all…”.

Another perfectly good cinematic communication method ruined by comedians. Curse you Mitchell and Webb! 😀

Dream Band

It’s a new (pointless) game!

Rule 1: You must designate a Lead Guitarist, a Rhythm Guitarist, a Bassist and a Percussionist.

Rule 2: You may designate up to two additional musicians playing any instruments you feel appropriate.

Rule 3: You must designate a Lead Vocalist. The Lead Vocalist may be one of the already designated musicians – as long as their instrument would allow them to perform vocals – or one additional band member may be added. This additional member may not play any major instrument, but may play a minor percussion device such as a tamborine, triangle or cow bell if desired.

Rule 4: You must designate between one and three Backup Vocalists. Any band member whose instrument does not preclude them from singing may sing backup vocals.

Rule 5: No more than one band member may be selected from any one real-world band.

Rule 6: All band members must be alive.

Rule 7: Neither of the surviving Beatles may be selected, because that’s just too easy.

OK, so for Lead Guitarist I’ll take Slash, because any band that can’t do a decent version of Sweet Child of Mine isn’t my dream band. For rhythm guitar I’ll give the nod to Mark Knopfler. Oh sure, he may complain about playing second fiddle to Slash, but what’s a rock band without some internal tension?

On Base Guitar I’ll take Kim Deal – for reasons I shall reveal later.

Percussion? Hmmm, that’s a hard one. I can only think of three living Percussionists and one of them is Ringo Starr (rule 7 violation!). So it’s a toss up between Meg White and Doktor Avalanche. While I hold Ms White in great personal esteem I think I’ll go for the Doktor, because after all Meg only has two hands.

Extra instrumentalists. Well I think the band needs a trumpet, so they can do decent CAKE covers. Since I can’t think of any trumpeters offhand I’ll just grab the one from CAKE, which Wikipedia informs me is Vince DiFiore. Welcome aboard Vince!

We also need a keyboardist, otherwise how would the band do Whiter Shade of Pale? I’m going to be devious and select Tom Waits, who is skilled in the organ, piano and harmonium. The reason for such an unlikely choice is that I really want him for his voice, but he might as well do double duty.

So that’s Tom Waits on lead vocals. On backup vocals I’ll have Kim Deal. See? I said I wanted her specifically for something. Sure, she’s a great bassist, but the Pixies wouldn’t have been the Pixies without her ghostly voice creeping in behind Black Francis’s deranged screeching.

Band complete! Now it’s your turn…

Train Follies

Air and buttocks.

There’s an old wives’ tale, sometimes bandied about in “did you know?” type lists, that every breath you take contains an air molecule once breathed by every single other person who’s ever lived.

I do not believe this for a second.

It seems possible to me that the number of molecules in a single breath of air is greater than the total number of humans that have ever lived, but I find it unlikely that the air breathed out by every person in history has been so perfectly distributed that every breath one takes contains a molecule breathed by (to pick some names at random) Caesar, Hiawatha and Yul Brynner. I just don’t see how the necessary air-distribution infrastructure could exist.

I suspect the story came about based on the (provisional) fact mentioned above – that a single breath of air contains enough molecules to give one to every person in history and have a good number left over. It’s a short leap from that to the idea we’re discussing – a variation on the fallacy that since many cats are black, anything black must be a cat (I’m sure there’s a better way to put that, something about Cretans being liars, but I can’t think of it at this time of night). It’s probably a fairly easy mistake to make – until you start thinking logically about it anyway.

(If any mathematicians or meteorologists want to correct me and prove that I am breathing the same air as Hitler, please feel free).

As unlikely as everyone in history sharing their air may be, I think it’s fair to say that a bunch of people crowded into a railway carriage do, in fact, breath the same air. And this brings me to the main thrust of this article, which is an extremely attractive girl on the train tonight.

She was fairly gothy (which I have to admit is a look I like) with long red (dyed) hair, and was standing more or less right in front of my seat on the journey out from the city. She was accompanied by another gothy chick and from what I could make out of their body language I think they may have been together (which is fine). She was really remarkably beautiful and quite captured my attention for the whole journey to my station.

I spent said journey entertaining the kind of melancholic thoughts that plague the lonely nerd – how I would more than likely never see her again, how I’d almost certainly never get to speak to her, and similar jolly imaginings. Then, when we were getting close to my station, I stood up to fight my way to the door, and she sat down in my seat!

So that’s my story. I didn’t speak to her, I’ll probably never see her again, but we breathed the same air, and she sat in a seat warmed by my buttocks. And in a strange, silly and probably slightly disturbing way that made me feel a little better about the whole thing.

(Of course some people are now going to suggest that I should have offered her my seat – providing a perfect opportunity to speak to her, and creating a good impression all in one. Yes, well, a stuttering, sweaty nerd offering an attractive woman a train seat always goes over so well doesn’t it?)

Cartographic Madness

Hey, I’ve never claimed to be normal…

You know, as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved maps. I don’t know exactly when or where my love affair with cartography began, but I rather suspect it had something to do with Arthur Ransome and his Swallows and Amazons books. Each one had a map right at the start, showing all the locations in the story. It’s been years since I read any of them, but I reckon I could still draw a pretty good map of the lake just from memory.

More than just loving maps, I’ve always loved making maps. Again I think Arthur Ransome is the culprit, Secret Water was all about map making (and mastadons, and eels, and almost drowning when the tide comes in). As a kid the walls of my room were plastered with hand drawn maps of locations from just about every book I read, and even now I’ll occasionally just grab a piece of paper and whip up a map of some kind, just for the heck of it.

All this may explain why I’ve spent a good four or five hours over the last few days doing my damn well best to figure out where Connor lives in Warren Ellis’s FreakAngels.

Careful examination of the scenes outside Connor’s place in episode two reveal a number of distinctive features…

  • It’s a narrow, two lane street
  • There’s a traffic light and a zebra crossing
  • There are tall, detached buildings on both sides
  • One building has two distinctive, urn-like details on top
  • Across the road from the urn building is one with a truncated mansard roof
  • There’s a t-junction close by (seen when KK lands her ‘bike’)

Now, all of this means nothing because surely it’s just a comic right? Well, possibly not. Paul Duffield has apparently made a few trips to Whitechapel to take reference images, and plenty of real places (the Ten Bells Pub, Christ Church, the Spitalfields Market) turn up. So there’s a reasonable chance that Connor’s street is a real one.

So, I’ve been driving myself to distraction examining Whitechapel street by street in Google Earth, and then looking at hundreds of images tagged ‘whitechapel’ on Flickr for clues.

No dice. I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that the scenes in episode 2 are at best heavily modified, and at worst a portmanteau of several different places (suggested perhaps by the fact that the torn, red awning switches building between frames, and the idea that a small, narrow street would have a zebra crossing ). So I guess I’ll just have to take a punt on where to put Connor’s place on the next version of the Google Earth file.

At least until someone makes a map of all the zebra crossings in Whitechapel 🙂

Sing and rejoice ye people of Televisionland!

The beginning of the end! As if.

For the dark one is cast down! And his empire ended until picked up by another network!

Well I was going to write about having a particularly Kevin Smithesque day – on the basis that I went into work even though I wasn’t supposed to, and I had to pick up a timetable for the number 37 bus (yeah I was stretching) – but this has been superseded by the wonderful news we were all hoping for.

Channel 10 has axed Big Brother!

To quote NASA – w00t!

Of course it will almost instantly be replaced by Gordon Ramsey’s Etiquette School or 20 to 1 Most Embarrassing Chainsaw Accidents or something equally inane, and there’s at least a 50/50 chance of it being picked up and reworked by another network – but for a little while we can rest in a state of blissful non-Big-Brotherness.

For tonight at least I shall sleep well!

I want my morphine!

Or maybe they think it’s a front for Al Quedea…

FACT: Australia has no R rating for video games.

This is something I’ve known about for quite some time, and – apart from a vague sense of annoyance at the Government being so backwards – it’s never really been something of much concern to me. In fact I have to admit I found myself quite amused a few months back by the frantic efforts of certain people to get hold of an uncensored copy of GTA 4. But all that’s changed now, because the Government has launched a direct attack on the Wyrm fortress.

They’re refused classification for Fallout 3.

Apparently the ratings board don’t like the game’s use of morphine injections to temporarily repair inured limbs, and don’t feel that they can give the game a MA15+ rating with this feature included. Now, the sensible thing to do would be to give the game an R rating and make it… oh, but hang on, there isn’t and R rating, so Fallout 3 will remain unrated, making it illegal to sell or rent the game within Australia.

Let’s all say it together. Idiots!

Now it may be that a chopped down version of the game – without morphine and anything else the censors may object to – will be released here. But that’s not the point. The point is that the Government is still stuck in the mindset that computer games are something played exclusively by children. I’m not going to carry on about how adults play games as well, and that responsible, sane adults can watch something on a screen without immediately rushing out to do it – that’s all been more than covered in the debate about GTA – I’m just adding my voice to the chorus of disgust at our elected officials still living in the dark ages.

Happily it’s not illegal to import, own or play the game, so I’ll be looking overseas for a copy. God bless the internet!

Ummm, apart from that my life has been pretty boring of late. I thought I had some other things to blog about, but I can’t remember a single one. I guess that’s what three straight hours of Gilmore Girls on DVD will do to you 🙂

Oh yeah, FreakAngels Google Earth file updated. DON’T MESS WITH JACK!!

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