Monday, July 30, 2007

It's hard to believe there's nobody out there ...

MySpace, Facebook, the internet evolves further and further along with every new connection and personalising site into what it must inevitably become: a dating tool. I know, I know, Google Scholar and all that, but really, the internet is just like mobile phones; ten years ago they were specialised equipment for only the elite and the dorky. Now your Grandma has one and nine-year-olds are coding. The more the internet democratises and reaches people who wouldn't normally use it for research or just plain porn, the more it becomes a substitute for that opiatastic thrill you get when you check your mailbox and there's a package inside with your name on it. Somebody loves you. Somebody thinks of you when you're not thinking about them = uR F4m0u5!
And that's just email.
MySpace goes a step further. For all the political gimickery, band support and cheap advertisingyourself as possible. Pictures, automatically-playing songs, videos, likes, lists of favourite TV shows, movies, musical artists, heroes, quotes and more are all options for you to spruce up or 'pimp' your page with various distasteful HTML et viola - you are a web person.
But you're not. Your web personality on MySpace is essentially a 'girl/boyfriend wanted' ad for people who aren't gutsy or horny enough to actually hit a dating website. And fair enough too. MySpace is the online equivalent of the supremely cool dude/tte who tarts themselves up for hours to go to the dance, then spends the entire time leaning against the back wall, smoking and looking thrillingly mysterious, praying that someone will talk to them. The attractive element to this little piece of awkwardness is that people
it provides, MySpace is just about making a page with as much information about do come and talk to you. Not only talk, but ask to be your friend.
"Will you be my friend?" comes the plaintive email from your new BFF.
"Agree" you click and squishy-squirt you are thrown together 4EVA. Every MySpace page has a Friends box that shows the Online Personalities of your other friends there can be hundreds or even thousands. At last! Popularity! Nerds no more!
Facebook goes a step further than that. Facebook is MySpace, but without the pimping. It still lets you create an Online Personality, but it emphasises the linking of like-minded personalities.
It all starts when someone sends you an email.
You've never heard of Facebook, but you have been invited to join. Not even to join - just to agree that you know someone you know because they are claiming to know you.
You click agree.
Suddenly - you are another Face in the Book. Then you get another email from someone you know claiming to know you. You click agree.
Your number of friends grows and every time someone you know rubs the Genie of The Six Degrees and sends you an email, the endorphin-laden rush of getting a package in the mail or getting smiled at by the most popular girl/guy in school comes flooding through your inbox.
Then you're addicted.
No, not addicted. You can stop any time you want. Right after you agree to that friend request. And add another photo.
I attempted to poo-poo Facebook when it first showed up in my inbox, I reasoned that no one would
send friend requests to someone who didn't play, didn't send out any friend requests of their own and only posted strangely ugly photos of himself. But that didn't happen. Every day since that first email showed up, another person I know sends an email asking me to confirm that I know them and politely allowing me the opportunity to close the easy-to-navigate menu that allows a trip down memory lane to where this person and I met, where we've travelled and the courses we've studied.
The friendship list has grown, along with my Online Personality. I'm now a guy who has interests, favourite music, films, books, TV shows and quotes. Everything about my, and every other Facebook Online Personality, or MySpace for that matter, reads like a Personals Ad. If I weren't a happily married man, I would have just written "Holding hands, Long Walks on the Beach at Sunset and Making Fuck" and been done with it. Because the connection is what it's all about. People I haven't seen since high school have been in touch. Scrolling other people's friends lists I've seen dozens of people I haven't thought about for literally years. The genius catch (and the dating advantage over MySpace) is that you can only look at the friends list of people who are your friends. You can't look at people separated by more than a degree, but that can all be solved with a friend invitation that, unless you
recently (and by that I mean: since that person discovered Crackbook) torched that person's house, will not be refused.
But I have discovered the flaw in Facebook and MySpace and all the the rest, mind you, not the flaw for them or the Addicts who keep their page loaded in the corner, finger twitching, ready for refresh. No one ever puts anything bad, or
real on their profiles. I'm not saying that they're lying, just that there isn't the opportunity to paint the full picture of the person behind the Profile.
I want Facebook 2.0 (whatever that turns out to be) to have alongside "Favourite Movies" and "Interests", real categories that can paint a much fuller picture than a few carefully chosen holiday snaps ever could. Categories like:
Races I can't stand
Drugs I have taken
Places I have urinated in public
Or if people just filled out their "Interests" segments more honestly, without thinking of movies that would make them seem fun or music that they hear on the radio all the time.
Favourite movies
Hard Butts 5, Debbie Does the Eastern Seaboard, Faces of Death 3

You see where I'm going with this. I apologise for the rambling, but it's late and for all my whinging, I've still got a fair bit of Harry Potter to go.

Guess the Header
Jono and River were closest with Canada. A point each for geography. But the main clue were the bins in the corner and the off-yellow lettering for the title
spoiling the gorgeous view - which was in Yosemite National Park. Better luck this week!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Don't make me hurt you

**There are NO HP SPOILERS to be found within this blog. I have not yet read the book.**

I have only just now sent off the third draft of my seldom-discussed, often-worried-about thesis proposal that I have been slaving over for quite some time now.

But that's not the reason I haven't been posting lately.

The real reason is because ... I'm scared of the internet. You see, I was out at 327's salsa themed birthday party on Friday and discussion turned to the release of a certain popular children's book due the following day. People were looking forward to it, people were curious, everyone was at least interested in how the saga would come to a close. Speculation began about how JK would finish off what has so far been an excellently-designed series. I conjectured that Harry's fate would mirror that of Voldemort's - that he would attempt to destroy the love child of Hermione and Ron. Mele was positive that he would suddenly fall victim to puberty, thus ending the 'magic'. Before anyone could stop her, one of the woman who I hadn't met before piped up:
"Oh, the ending was leaked on the internet a few days ago! Hermione dies at the end."
Never has a jumping salsa club been so quiet.
Some cried out in pain. Others fainted. People found themselves reaching for her years-of-patience spoiling neck.
She let us hang for about five seconds and then eased the pain with a "Gotchya!"

Well played, you have to admit.
But still, that night I was
plagued by a series of nightmares during which the ending was spoilt time and again by individuals careless and callous. Mele and I have been ploughing through The Sopranos recently, starting at Episode 1, Season 1 and working our way towards the final episode ever at the end of season 6. We obviously don't want to find out what happens before time and Mele in particular was being very careful in her perusal of entertainment media. The situation that kept repeating in my dreams was the one where Mele was reading an article speculating about the ultimate HP which, as a casual example, cited The Sopranos and blew the entire ending for her. This careless journalism cost her years of waiting for the final Sopranos season to come out on DVD so she could watch it properly, instead of the two and a half episodes that Channel Nine screened at 10:30pm on Tuesday night and 8:30am on a Sunday morning three weeks later before deciding to go with more shows about celebrities.

Everywhere I look there are spoilers waiting waiting waiting. We have the book, but I'm still waiting for Mele to finish it so that I can get back to reading Audrey, Read Alert and all the other internet-based media outlets brimming with earthy discussions of how Harry's tumescent Final Spell saved Wizardkind. Or something.

Anyone posting ANYTHING about the book in the comments will be DELETED


Guess The Header
This was a close one. River and Neil eschewed all forms of competition and combined forces to engage in such healthy speculation that I am really going to try much harder in future.
Neil gets a point for geographic location - Thailand was the closest guess to the location of the bridge in question.
River gets a point for using the word "flow" in a menstrual context - very poetic.
And I'm awarding
an extra point each for such creative thinking, especially regarding River's shot about "puberty bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood" and Neil's triple-pronged attack using STDs, unaBRIDGEd comments and the punalicious "blackboard JUNGLE".

The actual answer was a lot less creative than I am being given credit for: The photo is of a bridge in the tropical rainforest near Port Douglas. On the bridge are some dear friends of mine (all women who have indeed crossed the bridge from puberty to adulthood). That no men are in the photo is supposed to be some kind of image of what we young lads saw as we entered that classroom full of mature girls on our way over the bridge towards adulthood.
Suspension was what we faced. You can more metaphorical than that, but I'm afraid this competition has come to a close, the Champions Board (bottom of this page) has been updated accordingly and a new Guess The Header challenge awaits. (I will try to make it either easier or more difficult - I haven't yet decided which).

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Bloodhound Gang wouldn't have made it past the blue dye

According to anecdotal evidence*, STDs are on the rise. There are a multitude of reasons - most of them to do with the rise of conservatism and the religious right. This has been blogged about before by great writers than I, but there are two easy targets: shithouse sex education in schools and confusing advertising. When I went through school I had no less than two term long periods where we were taught about sex and everything surrounding it.
In primary school the wonderful Ms Safe (her real name, she assured us) told us all about why our dangly bits were doing those things and why it was wrong to point at other kids' dangly bits. We got pictures of nude children that we were allowed to draw on, a full and frank explanation about how babies were made (sex) and exactly where they came from (vaginas). And, if any of us doubted that last point, we were all sat in front of the TV in a corner of the library and shown a video of a baby coming out of a vagina, umbilical cord, placenta, maternal screaming and all.
In high school were moved on to what is known in rap circles as The Nitty-Gritty. We were given a quick refresher about how sex worked, reminded that it caused babies and then introduced to contraception, safe sex STD avoision. At no point were we told that condoms were against god or that we would be safe from STDs within the bonds of holy matrimony (like Mele was). We were even briefly divided up for a frank discussion about menstruation given by a friendly-yet-businesslike lady from a specialist government department. The girls went in first for women's business (I never found out what - maybe they told lightbulb jokes) and then the boys were allowed in to learn all about periods. But not before the Vice-Principal herself interrupted her busy day to line us all up, military parade-style, and inform us that having periods was a natural and beautiful, yet sensitive part of all young women's lives and that any mockery, joking, sly sideways glances or improper smiling during our short lesson on menses would result in
immediate suspension. We all nodded maturely and trooped in to watch the lady from the government give a straight-talking description of periods while we watched tampon slowly absorb a glass of clear blue liquid.
The thing I remember thinking at the time was that all that education about STDs was almost unnecessary, given the pre-sex-education sex education our generation had all had at the hands of one TV commercial. Talk to anyone around my age and we will all tell you of a deep-seated fear of AIDS and condomless sex at the hands of The Grim Reaper. We need to re-screen this ad. I guarantee STDs will go down again.


In other news: the winner of the inaugural Guess The Header Competition is River for her flashy science talk and the gag about the pizza (which correctly unraveled my cypher, placing the photo of weird fish alongside the blog about weird fish, or anchovies if you prefer). Sorry other OTHER Sam, you were way way way off with the China guess, and yet, so close ... How? This photo was taken in Chinatown in San Fransisco. It was the only place
in America where I actually saw fresh fish and vegetables that weren't marketed as an exclusive novelty. If you scroll down, the (as yet) blogless River will be immortalised with her leading score of one on the Writing Guess The Header Competition Glory Board. Who will guess this blog's photo? Who? Clue? Think "Bad Word Play".

*stories Mele tells me about the private school she used to work at.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Franzy's Law #2

You know your life is heading in the right direction when the anchovies move from the food cupboard to the condiment shelf, never to return.


Also, the trendy dude at Flowfield Unity liked my comments and linkage so much that he linked me back. What a dude.

One thing that's not really taking off is the Great Guessing Game Challenge involving the picture that appears as a background to the word "Writing" at the top of this blog. The reason for this failure obviously lays with me, so I'll explain the rules (again)

1. Look at the picture.
2. Guess what it could possibly have to do with the most recent blog entry.
3. Write your guess in the comments section.
4. WIN WIN WIN!!! If your guess is the closest or most original YOU will go in the new scoreboard section at the bottom of the blog with the tally adding up over the weeks, months and years.

Good luck, all of those who can be arsed having a shot.
This entry's header is an easy one to guess the connection, but there are MAJOR points for guessing the geographic location...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry blahblahblahclevertitlerhymeswith-otter

Just got back from the latest Harry Potter film. First things first: I went with Mele, Dan and Marc, all of whom think nothing of bringing a literal shopping bag of sweets to the movies. Before dinner. Needless to say I am scratching the sugar crystals from my skin as they osmosise and solidify, it's both beautiful and scary to watch. I am also on a sugar crash. Ouchy yuck.

How was the movie?
Just like the book. In fact, they relied solely upon the audience having read the book before seeing the film - an extremely safe bet. After every single scene, I kept waiting for the director to lean into shot, expectant grin on his face, and say encouragingly 'You know - like in the book!'
It was kind of lazy in that way, and that's the problem with making a movie from such a long and involved book: you can't show every nuance of character and twist of plot because there isn't the time, nor can you cut too many things out or it just becomes a crazy zombie of a movie. The only solution present is to do what they did tonight and brush over everything as briefly or as thinly as possible so that at least no one can accuse you of missing something out.
Well, to the directors and writers of
Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix I say this:

Yes, indeed. You missed out something. You missed out something big. And that was heart. And
balls for JK's sake! The books are getting better and better because they are getting darker. The reason they are getting darker is because they aren't just delving into the evil within the individual person any more, they are beginning to expose just how evil manifests itself into society. The whole Stazi/Secret Police storyline courtesy of the wickedest character in the Potter series after Voldemort himself, Dolores Umbridge, was treated with all the darkness and danger of a Paul Robinson prank on Neighbours. Too much zany and not enough panoptical, self-surveilling fear.
So, yes, not so much a Harry Potter
movie, as a slide show of the Harry Potter book upon which it was based. But, in the category of Movies I Have Watched This Week, it wins all the Oscars and a meat tray.


In true double-post tradition, before I fall into bed, I have discovered via The Chocolate Witch, Blurb from the 'Burbs's Blog Award Sticker a new webcomic. I'm happy to say that it is far too intelligent for me at this stage. Either that, or it's not funny. But if it weren't funny, I wouldn't be posting about it after a sugar crash at one in the morning. It's called The Flowfield Unity and here is the first comic from its archives to make me laugh. Well, not so much laugh, as nod my head sagely and say "...aaaahhh ... I get it."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Everything is dirty now.

There aren’t enough rotten tomatoes in all of history. There really aren’t. Like all of us, I have suffered painful, wounding experiences in my time. Been witness to some things I would rather have gone without. But Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was a literal time machine. It robbed me of two hours of existence, stealing them away from me so that at the end of my life, as I hurtle through space, piloting the last star-fighter against the enemy fleet bent on enslaving the human race while I simultaneously write about the experience timeless and whimsically emotional prose, I will think back to this black day and curse that movie for the portion of my life it was able to claim away from me. That’s two more hours I could have spent, doing any of the millions of things that I love more than pointing my eyeballs towards a spectacle like that. That’s two hours I wasn’t enjoying the finer, more joyous activities that my life has to offer, like punching myself in the face, dangling my nuts into a food-processor or licking skittish tarantulas.

This was ground zero, people. There have been other contenders, but the most recent installment of the Fantastic Four franchise was The Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen.

What was so bad about it?

Well, dear reader, make a list of all the dozens of facets that make up a movie. For example:

Visual Effects
Inter-character relationships
Underlying message

Any more? No? Let’s begin with those then:

Acting – The actors may themselves have been talented, but the decision to be in the movie have forever tarnished their careers in my eyes.

Script – “Let’s go for a spin!” was what the cops came up with when they busted the terrorist hideout where the script was being written and found that the writers had been put away for twenty-to-life for crimes against humanity without finishing the catchy tagline a flying bad guy needed just before he ‘spins’ the heroes away from himself.

Plot (spoiler alert!!!) – It sucked. Feel spoilt? Seriously, I’ve seen sturdier premises at camping grounds. During cyclones.

Visual Effects – I went high and was still more interested in Trent’s score on the solitaire game he was playing on his phone.

Inter-character relationships – They look at and talk to each other. That’s as complex as it gets.

Underlying message – Actually quite difficult to surmise until the final credits. Then it suddenly becomes clear: you are two hours closer to death.

Humour – The funniest joke still wasn’t as funny as flushing nine bucks down the toilet.

Emotion – Utter horror. That was my emotion that such a thing had been allowed to exist.

Suspense – This was supposed to be list detailing my responses to various aspects of the movie and instead it has turned into a scream-fest of regret and pain.

That’s how truly awful Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is. We actually stumbled out of the cinema, unable to meet each other’s gaze, like a bachelor party that wandered into The Wrong Kind of Strip Club. My guess is that no one who went will ever mention this to anybody ever again.

This review is over, but the whole experience was so sinful that there are still two more bombshells I haven’t dropped.

  1. We were there for Triton’s birthday (happy birthday buddy!) and
  2. We were supposed to see Transformers, but it sold out literally as we fronted up to the counter. We were the late chumps who get the box-office ticket window curtains slammed in their faces.

So … so … painful. Trits – sorry about that. I’ll make it up to you, I swear. I got you a great present: my honourable suicide. Kidding.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Franzy's Law #1

The hand to which you transfer all fifteen kilograms of shopping will always be on the same side of your body as the hip pocket in which you have put your house and/or car keys, forcing you to twist around like an itchy contortionist with an equilibrium disorder in order to retrieve them.

Franzy's Law #1.1
The hand you use to retrieve said keys will have some kind of niggling wound that would heal if you'd just stop jamming it into pockets
over-stuffed with lists, phones, cameras, receipts and keys.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Overheard in Adelaide

True, you don't seem to hear quite as many juicy tidbits of hilarity in Adelaide as you do in New York, but in the spirit of cultural research (eavesdropping) here is a conversation I was privy to at the latest meeting of The Gun Club.

Power-lifter #1: Hey, I brought my muscle-shirt along today!
Power-lifter #2: Yeah?
Power-lifter #1 removes jumper to reveal baggy white Everlast wife-beater and flexes considerably large muscles for Power-lifter #2)
Power-lifter #2: Oh, I thought it was going to be the one that made you look gay.
Power-lifter #1: Eh?
Power-lifter #2: You know - that tight, red one. It makes you look gay.
Power-lifter #1: Nah - I wore that yesterday.

Such are the wonderful things one overhears (eavesdrops upon) in the company of muscular young man. It was a wonderful day for listening in, because after my own gun-related workshopping, I overheard this little ditty:

Gunshy* undergrad (talking to friends next to sit-up machine): So she's like "I've got stomach cramps and I've missed my period".
Friend: Oh man!
Gunshy* undergrad: I know! And
he's like "I'm not worried, whatever". That's bullshit, man. I don't care how tough you are, any man hears "stomach cramps, missed period" is going to be worried.

There were then various speculations about the virtuousness of the lady that
I won't get into here because they were rude.

I don't think anyone has noticed, but I'm instituting a new theme to celebrate both the embracing of Blogger and the Having a Talk with tBlog. The theme is basically, for every new post I post, I will change the background image of the title header. Last post it contained a genuine Yorke Peninsula alpaca, for this post it is an attractive Yorke Peninsula-caught-and-killed Blue Swimmer (see video below). Every time I write a new post, I will put up a new header so that those without RSS know-how who check back every day and sometimes twice a day just to see if I've written some new self-centred polemic on popular-culture or posted another mildly embarrassing episode from my childhood will get that extra thrill of excitement when they see the new photo strip in the header.
But wait - there's more!
I will also be holding a little competition - guess where the header is from! Points are given for creativity and geographic proximity. Google Maps locations will be richly rewarded. With what? With kudos. Nothing more than net-related kudos. I have already ruined this post's by giving it away, so the (minimal) fun begins next time. Thematic clues will be hidden within the post. And so, here is the crab, getting the way we see it above:

Speaking of themes: here is an artsy photo I took last weekend in Yorke Peninsula.

It's part of an old amenities block for an industrial thingy that we've only ever seen from the road when we whiz past and think 'I wonder why that shed is on the top of that pole? I really must stop and take a look'. This time we did stop and take a look and were none the wiser. It appear
ed to be some kind of smelter or heat-based apparatus. Anyone who could enlighten me as to its function will be greatly appreciated. It might even post a few more photos of various bits of it if that would help.

You can't really see the bottom from the road, so it does look a bit strange. Bear in mind that it's the only thing taller than a tree for kilometres in every direction.

*Gunshy - one who wears a long-sleeved t-shirt to Gun Club

Monday, July 2, 2007

Only a gig ... that poor little mite

I know it's el Crappo to basically just lift web content straight off of other sites like boingboing and The Age, but this video is worth a bit of a post.

This one, however, I found all by myself

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32