Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Which a Creation Is Birthed & Moves Are Discussed

So, you guys know those Cover Versions cooking things I've done lately? Well, I've made a decision about them. Friday, I purchased a domain (three of them, actually), and registered with Squarespace to create a site. My site. And to prove to myself that I'm committed, I'm moving this blog there. Happily, there's an importer tool that lets me keep all my old posts and comments and such, so it's a simple matter. It's pretty bare-bones now, but I intend to add to it.

So yeah. Big things. The first three episodes (two of which has already seen the light here, but are now tuned up and HD and have new posts) are live right now as I type.

So what now? Well, now, if you want to read my blog, you can go to or

And that's that.

See you in the kitchen.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In which Sunrise infuriates me.

I'm in the break room making a coffee. The tv is playing Sunrise. I overhear the headline: "New guidelines to put in place to force call centre operators to have a specific accent level to be allowed to call Australian."

"Okay," I thought, "this can't be as stupid & discriminatory as what I think it is. At least they won't be stupid enough to put an insulting sub-heading on it."

Really? Alright then.

But surely once the guy throws it to panel discussion, we'll see the pros and cons of the issue, right? Wait, the panel are all women. He just called them his "Angels". Uh oh.

Ms. Armitage viewpoint is "it's not politically correct to say, but it's maddening!" Okay. Care to follow that statement up? No? Nothing on the fact that you're talking about restricting job applicants using something that is not their fault?

Well, I'm sure the next panelist has a background more suited to discussing the ramifications on the telco industry, so we can OH FOR FUCKS SAKE:

Sex and relationships expert?! What?! Why?! What?! (three excellent questions)

She discusses that anyone who calls you is trying to swindle you and having an accent makes that easier. Bravo, lady. You've just linked "having an accent" to "dishonest business practices". Plus, you're American, which means that to Australians, you have an accent. oh bravo. I'd sarcastic slow-clap, but I'm typing.

Look. I've worked in call centers for 7 years. I understand the seemingly inbuilt distrust many Australians have for anyone without an Australian accent (especially if that accent is Indian or Asian). Strangely though, no one seem to have a problem with MY accent. So is it an accent problem, or straight out prejudice? I say this: you get good agents and bad agents across all nationalities and accents. Stopping someone from holding a position because of the way they speak is discrimination, and worse, it's enabling the bad behaviors of the jerks who escalate to a supervisor because they don't want to speak to an Indian.

Well, I'm sure this hard-hitting journalistic juggernaut has another serious subject to discuss:

Yep. Fit over 40 like Brad & Angelina, Lindsay Lohan's Playboy shoot, and her dad getting arrested.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Live-tweetin' the dentist (after the fact)

It's kind of strange that my brain has learned to compartmentalise my thoughts into 140-character tweets. But then, if i post them here, i can expound a little. Also, you guys totally want to hear about this. Right? Be that as it may, here are the bullet points from my visit:

(warning, profanity & allcaps)

-I arrive for my 8:45 appointment at 8:40. The dentist arrive sat 8:47. I don't get in until 8:57.

-Dentist arguing with the receptionist about the modem and the network going down and the receptionist wanting to turn it off and on again, and the dentist wanting to call Optus.

-As soon as I sit down in the chair: "Sorry, mate, just having some trouble with the network." me: "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" #bam

-They make you wear Bret-The-Hitman-Hart-style glasses when you're in the chair? You know why? So he doesn't have to look you in the eyes as he TORTURES YOU.

-I'm not sure what worse: having four needles stuck just under your nose, or being a captive audience as your dentist bitches about how the Ferrari online store doesn't offer free shipping on a kid's tricycle with the Ferrari logo.

-OH: "Ferrari sells a pushbike, you know. Only 16 grand, but it's made of carbon fibre, you can pick it up with 1 finger, and I mean you could pick up one or two kilos with one finger, and it's got disc brakes that like, are really good brakes."

-OH: "The shop sells T-shirts too, with the Ferrari logo, but they're just regular T-shirts." Really? They're not made out of carbon fibre? What kind of brakes do they have?

-Things I learned: if you gag when a dentist shoves a piece of metal & rubber down your throat, you're treated like a fractious fucking horse: "Easy, mate, easy, it's okay."

-"Breathe through your nose, okay? I know you can't feel your nose but it's there and you can breath through it." For this he went to UNIVERSITY.

-It's said you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats those weaker than him. You can tell a lot about a dentist by the way he treats his hygienist. If he's snatching things out of her hand, berating her, and making these little *tsk* noises of disapproval, then, yeah.


-And look! I now have a new ulcer because of how hard you grabbed my lower jaw when you were putting the filling in! It's like a toy surprise!

-"Arghle!" "Oh, does that hurt? *poke*" "Arghle!" "Well, it shouldn't hurt. *pokepoke*" "ARGHLEARGLE." "*poke* Ok, maybe I'll go easier."

-Eyes on what you're doing! WATCH WHAT YOU'RE DOING! Don't gesture with a drill to indicate to someone that you want a coffee when the drill is in my mouth!

-He's singing now. He's singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You". I BEG TO DIFFER.

-Mythbusters spoke the truth. You can ignore pain better if in your head you're screaming "ILLKILLYOUILLKILLYOUILLKILLYOUYOUFUCKERILLKILLYOU" over and over. It's kind of soothing.

-Now he's telling a story of The Girl and The Two Pebbles. Only he keeps repeating parts, and stopping to explain this and losing his place, it's like watching Jeff Goldblum, only you can't move.

-Yes, I gagged the last time you hooked that suction thing onto my cheek. I gagged again this time. This should not surprise you. Furthermore, you think that'd be a reason not to DO IT AGAIN.

-Remember when I told you I had problems flossing and you basically told me that was bullshit and that I should do it anyhow? MY TEETH JUST BROKE YOUR SPECIALLY REINFORCED PERFORATED STRIP WHAT'S UP NOW

-He's still talking about the stupid girl and the stupid pebbles! Now he's explaining how the ending is clever, and how it teaches you a lesson and how the road is a metaphor for life and DID I JUST HEAR YOU SAY YOU GOT THIS OFF A FUCKING CHAIN EMAIL?!?!

-"Nearly done, you've been fantastic, mate." "Really? You've been a circle of hell and I've composed a really snarky blog post about you. Also, I require a change of clothes because I've sweated through these."

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Batman still takes up too much of the screen!
I still suck at stealth!
Cat woman is nothing but cat-based puns and overwrought sexual innuendo!
10 minutes in and again I'm wandering around a room without enemies looking for a damn bullet hole in Detective Mode!

I will push on, but... What if I don't like this game?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So that happened.

So since everyone totally cared and gave me video game advice, I was able to make an informed decision about what I bought yesterday. Actually, no, wait, that's a lie, nobody commented so I just got Batman: Arkham City. And Deus Ex. And Infamous 2*. (though props to Tommy, who said he would lend me Resistance 3 so I didn't have to buy it)

Since I was on a late shift last night, I only got to play Infamous 2 for about 20 minutes when I got home. Cole's voice actor is different, you can run faster, but that makes your jumps and traversal feel more floaty, and they've remodeled everyone. So that's a thing. Also, the game notices how you finished the first game and gives your stats a bump in the same direction (as I played a namby-pamby goodie-goodie, I got a bump to my good stats and my electrical powers).

I hope I like Arkham City. Arkham Asylum was a game I sat down and played twice, then put on a shelf and never got the urge to play again. Maybe it was the slow pace in the early going, but it just didn't grab me. Also, I had that thing where I ended up stuck in an empty room endlessly scanning the walls with Detective Vision looking for the one place I could hit with a batarang so I could, you know, play the rest of the level (I know that was like 5 minutes in, but shut up, it was frustrating).

It also cracks me up that Australia had the game on shelves two days early (because Australia, like Honey Badger, just don't give a fuck), and the guy in the Game store said that they had dozens of people call up and complain that their DLC wasn't working. IT WAS RELEASED EARLY GUYS. Of course you can't activate the DLC yet!

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

* Though thanks to the magic of the JB Hifi Trade-3-Get-It-Free, I only paid actual monies for Infamous 2. I traded Guitar Hero 5 (which I traded after I realized that sitting in dust for months was no good for a plastic guitar & it didn't work anymore), God of War III (because of that damned mini game) & Dead Space 2 (because things kept eating me) for Arkham City and Infamous (because I already beat it a lot), Transformers: War For Cybertron (because I beat it a lot twice & the multiplayer is shallow), and a-quickly-purchased-for-$20-copy-of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for Deus Ex.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Cover Versions: Jerkass Chicken

Hey, you know that video I did before that I got such lovely feedback from @tifalna & @hulahoney about?

Well I did another one. In fact, I'm thinking of making a series. So behold! I present Cover Versions. My take on established recipes in my own way.

(now updated with full 1080p HD. Stupid Youtube) So here's my question. If I want to do this on a regular basis, how should I proceed? Should I get my own site just for Cover Versions? A domain? A Squarespace?A Youtube Channel? Please leave a comment if you have ideas. Or if you like things.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Digital Comics, Ultimate Spider-Man & Just Noticable Difference

Wow. So nobody likes Canberra, huh?According to Blogger, no one has even viewed that post. Okay. Point taken. Let's talk about digital comics.

I mentioned in my iPad post that I've got several comics apps installed (Marvel, Image, Comixology, ComicsZeal). And I like them. I've grabbed all the free content I can. Digital comics is one field where I can call myself an early adopter, because in late 2000, as a starving (but still somehow slightly fat) general arts student living in the dorms at the University of Ottawa, I did what many university students tend to do with their sudden free evenings and cost-included 256k broadband connection: I used the Internet to connect with the topics of my childhood. I researched old TV shows, I downloaded songs, I researched episode guides (this was pre-Wikipedia, so a lot of trawling was required), and absorbed as much knowledge as I could. One of these areas was comics, specifically X-Men comics. My relationships with comics at that point had been sporadic at best. It's a whole 'nother post about how I could never afford comics, so the few issues I had were gems to be read and reread compulsively, and at one point I would hang around a comic store reading stuff off the shelf (i read the entire Clone Saga that way) and buying old Handbooks to the Marvel Universe (making a binder with all the information). So anyway, Internet. I read what equated to the whole marvel encyclopedia, and met people who could discuss it with me. And as often happens with me, I retains just about everything I read. My Spanish is only barely passable despite multiple years of learning, but I can tell you the names of the Morlocks killed in the Massacre, and how the editor didn't like X-Man and made him a freaky shaman. Then killed him. But I was talking about digital comics.

Marvel at the time tried something groundbreaking. They set up a digital comics reader on their website. It was a launched app that allowed you to download titles as they were released. For free. It was their DotComics launch, and the launch titles were Ultimate Spider-Man, The Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, and a few random Spider-Man & X-Men issues (the death of Colossus, which made me cry, and the Spider-Man 9/11 issue, which flattened me, and the Spider-totem arc, which I liked). But really it was the Ultimate titles I devoured whole. It was the first 6 or 7 trades of USM and UXM, and the first volume of Ultimates. I loved them, despite not knowing who Brian Michael Bendis or Mark Millard were, and years later, when I had some money in Australia, they were the first comic books I began collecting in trade format. Like the modern apps, DotComics was a directed experience, with panels expanding and moving to tell the story.

Imagine my joy that now, after my full metamorphosis into a comic nut, I can get that same experience on a portable platform.

Now here's the rub.

Recently, I've gone off Ultimate Comics in general. The Ultimatum event exhausted me with casual killing off of half the cast, Ultimates 3 was terrible, the first 4-5 Ultimate Fantastic 4 trades were great, but art issues and some of the sillier villains put me off (Diablo, anyone?), and though Robert Kirkman is an amazing writer, Ultimate X-Men started simply rehashing stories from the 90s mainstream books.

So when I heard that Bendis is restarting Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man at #1 with a new Spider-Man, no Peter Parker, and that Ultimate Comics: X-men was also starting over with some of the supporting characters from the Ultimate Universe, I was excited. Totally Rad Show gave both issues great reviews, and I was more excited for these two single issues than any for a while. Knowing it'll be months before a trade comes out, I think, for the first time in a while, that I should go buy the issues. Two things stopped me. One, Australian comics retailers sell comics issues for anywhere from $7.50-9.00, which has always stopped me, as I can read an issue in about 8 minutes (a talent I honed reading comics before getting kicked out of the shop), so that's a bunch of money for something quick (insert innuendo here. Heh. Insert). Two, since these number ones are Kind Of A Big Deal, they may not even HAVE any LEFT for me to blow 9 bucks on.

Wait a moment! My computing device! Surely I can purchase these gems for that! And it's true. I can.

For $5.50 an issue.

Now, I could just be spoiled by the iTunes App store pricing model (where your average transaction is $0.99-2.99), or the fact that issues of older comics are $1.99-2.99, but for me, $5.50 an issue hits that button where I think it's too much. Call it Just Noticable Difference or Lowest Noticable Difference or whatever buyer behaviour term you want, it's high enough to make me consider it more than a passive "yeah, I'll just buy that" purchase. Now I know why they've done it: they don't want to undercut in-comic-store sales.

But it still sucks. I might wait for the trade, or see when it drops in price.

Because I'm cheap.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Friday, September 30, 2011

Impressions of Canberra.

This is my first visit to Canberra, breathtaking and scenic capitol of Australia.

Visually, it's slightly crap. Let us not mince words. All the buildings appear to be chipped out of bricks leftover from elementary schools built in the 1970s. This is not helped by the grey skies, intermittent showers and blowing winds that accompanied us from NSW. Also, with the exception of a few cinderblock towers, nothing is over two stories tall. This manages to make everything seem smaller than it is.

True to my usual habits while on vacation, I purchased things that I theoretically could have got in Sydney: a New Pornographers CD, a couple of comics (Transmetropolitan & the first volume of Strangers In Paradise), books (including a book on Douglas Adams' roommate & a huge book of Watchmen portraits) and a nifty wireless Bluetooth keyboard that I am typing this entry on. I also nearly bought an HDMI out for my iPad, but Tanja correctly posited that I would have no use for such an item once this weekend was finished. Stupid logic. You foil me again.

The thing I've noticed about Canberra, though, are threefold. Attend:

Uno: All of the quality eateries look like rubbish, but make great food. It's like they are doing their best to look like a neighborhood takeaway or back alley milk bar but are turning out posh restaurant quality edibles. Examples: Madame Woo. This is what it looks like:

(images courtesy of Google)
But the food was amazing. Behold a bare imitation, grabbed from one of the brochures in our room:

Yeah. That but better. And the more I look around, the more terrible signs I see (using Papyrus font, terrible colours, handmade logos), I wonder which of those are secrets and which are honestly crap. This can be a downside, of course. On the way into Canberra, I looked up craft breweries and found two, the excellent Wig & Pen, downtown, and Zierholz, in Fishwyck. The Wig & Pen was inviting, inside and out and we've been there twice. Zierholz is out on an industrial park area and we had to drive past it twice to find it. It has a smash repairs on one side and a sex shop on the other. The whole front of the building is glass, with white walls & floors. I couldn't convince Tanja (or myself) to get out of the car. That's the problem with having a great book in a crappy cover.

Zwei: After having studies the walking abilities of people in Sydney (crowd in, bumping shoulders, high stress) and Melbourne (high speed avoidance, smooth sailing, the walking equivalent of Formula 1 racing), I can say that Canberrans have a problem with rearward personal space. Stop at the curb to cross the street? Don't put your elbows back. The pedestrian behind you has decided to stand so close to you that he can hear what you're thinking. And can comment. It's off putting.

Trois: It is very much a weekday city. You'll see people about all hours on weekdays, but the weekends, it's a ghost town. Absolute opposite of Sydney.

So yeah. First impressions. We still have tomorrow, where I intend to see Questacon (, damnit.

Location:The Diplomat Hotel

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things I corrected people on today

I don't know if this makes me a grammar nazi or simply a vocabulary fascist, but I feel the need to point this out:

1. Prodded (prod'ded, def: to poke someone, to apply pressure) should be pronounced "pr-aw-did". Not "pr-oh-did".

2. The expression is "null and void", not "nil and void".

3. While a group may be both self-sufficient & efficient, they are not "self-efficient."

This has been a public service announcement.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

PS: While this is not an error, it is inherently funny to hear that the company has "a special bucket for dead people."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Anatomy of an argument

*Note: paraphrased for brevity*

*Scene: at the butcher shop*
L: (thought: I'm making a recipe, but i'm way insecure, so I'll ask T's opinion on how much of these small meat pieces I should get! She's way better at things!) Hey T! Should I get 5 or 6 of those? *points generally at small meat pieces*
T: (I don't know what recipe you're making, so I have no frame of reference to how many meat pieces you need. Also, it looks like you're pointing at these enormous unwieldy rib rack meat pieces.) 5 or 6? Maybe just 1.
L (Wow! Good thing I asked T! Turns out I would have bought the wrong type of meat entirely!) *buys 1 large unwieldy piece of meat*
L: Oh crap, the recipe describes a method of cooking that is difficult with a large unwieldy piece of meat! Woe is me!
T: I'll assist, but with this type of large unwieldy piece of meat it'll take an hour to cook & we'll have to alternate between stove & oven!
L: *takes assistance, but when meat is cooking:* You know, I wanted to buy small meat pieces. It's what the recipe said.
T: What? Y U No tell me that, bro?
L: I did! I pointed vaguely at the small pieces! That should be enough for man, god or beast! Let my vague indications never be questioned!
Both: This is your fault ZOMG.

Aaaaand, scene.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bioshock Memories

A trip to the Powerhouse Museum's Love Lace exhibit brought back memories of Bioshock, specifically the music:

Kinda creepy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Gaming List of Shame

A page from my clockwork notebook (and it shits me that I can't directly import):

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A one page rant (comic).

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cooking Sunday: Sticky Chicken Tortillas (text version)

Now with 100% more recipe!

· Put a pan on medium heat with a little oil in it.
· Preheat oven to lowest setting.
· Rather rudely cut each chicken breast into 4 strips lengthwise.
· Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
· Zest the hell out of your lemon.
· Deposit thy lemon zest into a mixing bowl.
· Bifurcate the lemon.
· Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl. No seeds, you savages.
· Add approx. Twice as much olive oil as there is lemon juice.
· 4 tablespoons of yoghurt into the bowl and stir.
· Once the pan is hot, abandon the chicken to its hellish fate.
· Brutally snap the leaves from your defenceless lettuce.
· Baptise the lettuce under the holiest of taps, cleansing it of sin (and dirt).
· Using a salad spinner, whirl the lettuce about in a whimsical manner, drying it to some extent.
· Hold the lettuce leave still as you finely slice them. Ignore their pleas for mercy.
· Consign the chopped lettuce to the same fate as the lemon zest.
· Wash, trim and skin the carrots*.
· Once the little bastards are skinned and subdued, peel them into ribbons for their insolence.
· Put those ribbons into the bowl and stir.
· Grab a handful of alfalfa sprouts, hold them over the bowl, and take your scissors to them for being untidy.
· Oh right, the chicken. Yeah, turn that.
· Stir the mixture again.
· Time for thyme. Yes, I went there. 2 sprigs.
· Get out your fennel seeds and tortillas.
· Craft an aluminium foil coffin for your tortillas and put them into the oven.
· Poke vaguely at the chicken. Make sure it’s still dead.
· Strip the leaves from the thyme and discard the stem.
· Get two plates ready.
· Poke the chicken some more.
· Taste the mixture, make sure it’s ok. Stir.
· Fling the fennel seeds into the pan where they belong, and their thyme leaf buddies too.
· Shake the pan like a TV Chef to coat the chicken.
· Drizzle the honey onto the hot chicken. Feel a bit naughty as you do. TV-Chef-Pan-Shake again.
· When the chicken is coated in honey like some sort of harlot, turn the heat off.
· Stir the mix again. Free your tortillas from their mighty coffin and place one on each plate.
· Apply 1 tablespoon of tactical hummous and 1 tablespoon of also-tactical harissa/Sambal manis.
· Add ¼ of your lettuce-carrot-yoghurt-Franken-mixture. Top with primary and secondary chicken bits.
· Wrap up, seize, and consume!

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Cooking Sunday: Sticky Chicken Tortillas

Look, ma! I made a video!

I might edit and post the actual recipe later.

Edit: it's later.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reality Vs Fantasy

Reality: I try out my FlipCam on my new Gorilla-pod-style tripod.

And my brain (by way of my iPad) went in the following direction:

Yeah. So Fantasy has blasted Reality with it's Obliterator Ray.

Fantasy: 1. Reality: 0.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Soooooo, I got an iPad 2*. And it's awesome. Some thoughts:

+The touchpad is far easier to type on than I expected, so much so that I'm debating getting the Bluetooth keyboard I had planned on. However, I am quite glad I splurged the $5 on the ThinkGeek iPhone stylus last year, as the iPad screen is a magnet for fingerprints. You don't notice when using, but the minute you turn it off, it looks a mess. I've ordered a screen protector but it has not arrived yet. I could have bought one for 17.95 when I bought the iPad, but why, when I can go to eBay and get three for the price of a pack of gum?

+Screen is preeeeetty. It's not quite as sharp as the iPhone 4's retina screen, but 720p movies look awesome. And the video taken/video out is 1080p, which is nice. The screen size is it's downfall with some of the apps, though. Before I got an iPad, I grumbled looking at the prices of iPad apps being $3-$12 as opposed to $0.99-$4.99. "Why not just get the smaller cheaper apps and use the 2x button to blow them up?" Well, I'll tell you why, past Lucas: it looks awful. I actually tested it on an app-by-app basis, and most of the apps got deleted (especially my photo manipulation apps. I only kept e universal ones like FilterStorm and Halftone). Basically the only little apps I kept were the GeoDefense series, Facebook, Instagram, and trip view for the trains.

+Speaking of the apps, there are some that I could not have expected I would love, Flipboard being chief among them. Clipboard amalgamated your Instagram, twitter and Facebook feeds into magazine-style pages, opening links and pictures, while showing individual tweets like vox pops (which, in a sense, they are). It remains the best way to view Instagram on the iPad. As the aforementioned cost-change, I** basically allocated myself $50 as app-upgrade money. I bought the full-sized Plants vs Zombies, Tilt To Live, GarageBand, iMovie, BlogPress (which I should have sprung for way earlier, even on the iPhone, because it's exactly the mobile blogging experience I wanted), Fruit Ninja, and a few new games like World of Goo and bit.trip Blitz. I also used some skullduggery to get the US Netflix app, which allows me instant streaming on Wifi (I'm not dumb enough to do it on 3G). Lots of great looking apps like Infinity Blade, eBay, X-Men Arcade, and Kindle are universal/have free iPad versions, so no drama there. Kindle, by the by, finally completes the cloud experience I want: I'm reading Snow Crash at home. I read a bit of it on my iPad on the way to work. Then while doing 45 minutes of laminating at work, I read 20 pages on my iPhone. I get home that night, wirelessly sync my Kindle, and it knows just where I was. Beautiful. Also, I got the Marvel & Comixology apps, and they're great, with a ton of free content, but the REAL win was my shelling out $8.49 for the ComicsZeal app. Let me say this oncely: IT LETS ME READ MY TOTALLY-LEGALLY-GOTTEN CBR & CBZ COMICS ARCHIVES. So now I have the entirety of StarMan, Batman: KnightFall & classic Deadpool on my iPad. My cup runneth over.

Some caveats:
-This is a very specific caveat that may only apply to me. I watch a lot of video podcasts. On the iPhone, I was able to start a podcast playing, then minimize it, then double-tap menu, slide to the left and hit play again, but this time in audio-only mode. This was a great way to extend battery life, or to multitasking and send messages/browse twitter/do something I needed my eyes for. The iPad can't do this. That's because the iPad has decided to split the music and video menus in order to give a slightly richer experience for both: audio now gets an iTunes style UI, and video gets a menu of movie posters. I like the new layouts, but it's cramping my style a bit. However, this has led to a strange feeling: walking to the train station, with my iPad in my bag and my headphones plugged in, listening to music I had no control over sent me rocketing back to my Walkman/Discman years. I didn't want to change the song, partially due to the fact that I would have to open my bag and take the device out. This is the opposite of my iPhone/iPod feeling, where I hated putting the device away, because I'd always want to see the songs and channel surf if needed. I find myself listening to songs I haven't heard in ages and some I don't recognize. It's a good thing.

-iPads need a powered USB port or an AC outlet to charge. All my back-of-PC USBs are full. But, using only a file, a hacksaw, and an XtremEMac iPhone dock, I macgyvered a solution:

(also check out my sweet CM Punk background)

So I love my iPad. Once again I have become one of those guys, but frankly, it's been happening often enough (laptop, kindle, iPhone) that I may need to accept that I am one of those guys.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

* Tanja and I had agreed that once we zeroed off the credit card, we'd reward ourselves with something bought with cash. One month away from our goal, she couldn't wait, and she bought hers. Then I got mine. :D
** read: Tanja

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Testing, testing, testifying. What what.

Rye seeds in bread. Who I wanna be.

As high as your mom, more like.

Proxy Champignon,
Master of Brainthinking

Location:Test posting from BlogPress on the iPad.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Music Blog, Part 3: Martyrdom & Love

This is a post that (like the next-to-previous) has been in my head for days, but thanks to my putting on Coupling late last evening, I have a way of introducing it:
I watched this bit with Tanja, who then turned to me and said "Do men actually think that way during sex?" and the answer was, without hesitation: "Absolutely."

Insecurity. It destroys me.

So anyway, the post I wanted to write was about a White Stripes song. It's off their Icky Thump Album from 2007.

The narrator begins by mentioning a girl he saw exiting the zoo with a bunch of her friends. "16 and six feet tall", as he describes her. She trips over her high heels, and he catches her, saying that "Maybe these ruby shoes are a little cumbersome for you." Nice. It was off the cuff, but it impresses her. He admits himself that he was shaking and nervous and that he blurted this answer out without thinking, just "talkin' junk". But this impromptu conversation gets him her number, and he calls her a few times, but each time he's less cool, less interesting, has less to say. "My dumb-luck-fake-confidence was getting weak" he laments. So at the end of the 2nd or 3rd call, he breaks up with her, saying that there can't be any future for them:

"I could stay a while/but sooner or later I'll break your smile
And I can tell a joke/but one of these days I'm bound to choke
And we could share a kiss/but I feel like I can't go through with this
And I bet we could build a home/but I know the right thing for me to do
Is to leave you alone"

My original thought was that this was douche-like, that he's saving her the bad things he might do, but the more I listen to the song, the more I feel I understand. He loves her (or at least, the idea of her), and as such can't bear to disappoint her with the idea that he's not as cool as she might think. He knows he'll fuck it up eventually. He'll say something dumb, and she'll think less of him, and it's all downhill from there. He admits that it looks (and maybe is) cowardly and "a lame way to live" but he's powerless, and he hopes he appreciates the pain he's avoided giving here. That he's "A Martyr For My Love For You".

That bit always threw me, until I thought about how "martyr" can mean someone who chooses to destroy himself so that an idea can continue. In this case, it's the idea of Cool Him and Lovely Girl & Their Super Cool Relationship that he felt he was unable to maintain. This is such a deep and abiding self-doubt and insecurity that my heart goes out to him.For I have been there. But frankly, I was never even cool enough to start the conversation.

Allow me to explain a little so my meaning is clear: in my current relationship, I am loved, and confident, and many other good things, despite my occasional (much-discussed on this blog) bouts of insecurity and self-pity. Left to my own devices, I am a lobster in a tank, eating myself until I can barely move. I'm saying I sympathise with the song's narrator. Or rather, I did, at one stage, knowing that situation myself.

And funny enough, while I was writing this, a Kaiser Chiefs song came on:
I can do it, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it without you.
But it wouldn't be very good.

**Second Edit**
In discussing this with Tanja and how it actually wasn't me saying that I "jumped aboard" with the first girl who "gave me the time of day", I remembered another poitn I had wanted to discuss about the song. When I re-evaluated the song, I had an inkling of an idea. Everything from the moment the narrator catches the girl to the end of the song... is in his head. He imagines saying something cool, but then further imagines how hard it would be to keep up that image, to the point where he'd need to exercise control and end the relationship. So this is him justifying and saying that he is right to have said nothing, thus affirming his self-image and framework and saving himself.

Which, as Tanja put it, is really sad.

Music Blog, Part 2: The Songs and Sounds of New Vegas

I was playing Fallout: New Vegas this morning on my laptop. I had my iPhone on the speakers. I got a series of songs that I felt fit the western vibe of the game very well. I present those songs to you here:
The Raconteurs - The Switch & The Spur

Mark Lanagan - The Man In The Long Black Coat

The Dead Weather - So Far From Your Weapon

The Joel Plaskett Emergency - Written All Over Me

Hate Then Love - The Dears

Yeah. The last one doesn't quite match, but the next song that came on was Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" and that sort of broke the mood.

Anyhow, I'm still really early into New Vegas, but I'm finding it much easier to be a bastard in this barren Western-style world than in the Capitol Wasteland of Fallout 3. Shooting & looting are a higher preference.

Music Blog, Part 1: Locking Down Black Snow Birds

(the first in a 3-part series... that I will complete today. So maybe it shouldn't be cut into 3. But I want to, because the topics are different. like a lot.)

So. Right. This is a blog I had an idea for ages ago on a turbulent train trip to work in which I ended up on the wrong train, and had to jump off the train at North Strathfield and promptly forgot about it. Yes, it was the same day I made a comic about.

The train of thought was inspired by one of many PennPoint episodes where Penn Jillette talked about his feelings after seeing Paul McCartney in concert in Las Vegas. All of these had some interesting things to say, including whether an artist should respect your memory of their previous work (like Paul does) or not (like Bob Dylan), and if Sean Lennon looks frighteningly like his father (he does). The one that got my attention, though, was where Penn discussed "Blackbird", which admittedly is not one of my favourite Beatles songs, and how it's always difficult to describe poetry using prose. To sum up (though I recommend you watch all the videos), he said that people have long posited on the meaning of the lyrics of Blackbird, whether it was a personal story, or whether it was about X or Y or Civil Rights or whatever. Essays have been written (including blogs by The Beatles Complete On Ukelele, which is incredible and you should read/download all of their stuff like I have) trying to contemplate and dissect meanings from this poetry.

Then Paul McCartney came out 34 years after the song had been written and said it was about American Civil Rights.


As Penn said, him saying what he meant by the song locks down the meaning. It cements the meaning, making all other meanings false, to a given value of false. Well, rather, it makes those other meanings into mere "interpretations" and the stuff of first year university essays (I still say Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher is a metaphor for brother-sister incest, you bastard professor). Admittedly, you could argue about the myth of the Auteur, and that the creator loses control of the work of art the moment it is released into the public, making all interpretations as real as the next until examined (sort of a Schrodinger's Song).

It's a theory I subscribe to, specifically due to the fact that I seem to be ridiculously easy to influence through music. A sad song can ruin my day. Seriously.

Anyhow, I reflect upon something I read in the liner notes of Barenaked Ladies' Greatest Hits album about the song "What a Good Boy". If you ain't heard it, go here for the video. The writer of the song explained in the notes that the song was "a young man's mediation on gender roles", but he had been sent so many interpretations and meanings for the song that were incredibly beautiful and transcended his original intention that he would prefer to let the song mean "whatever you'd like it to mean."


Oh, right. Snow. That Red Hot Chili Peppers song off of Stadium Arcadium. That day at North Strathfield, after I had watched Penn Point, and jumped off the train, this song came on. Now, I don't know if you know this one. I wouldn't have, had Tanja not gone through her "I must own all of the albums" phase of Chili Pepper liking.

Read the lyrics. They're here. Or watch the video.

My interpretation is that it's Anthony Kiedis having writer's block and relying on drugs to (initially) spark his creativity, despite knowing the dangers they pose, because he needs "more than himself to rely on", and that he enjoys the black-and-white morality of the addict: I need more, therefore I will get more, I am not accountable because it's not really me ("all my tracks/will be concealed").

I don't know if that's what he actually meant by the song, but that's what I think. And that matters, for a given value of matter.

Rules to live by (at least, in the kitchen)

Original photo to be found here, by @grahamhancock, production wizard and camera guy at Revision3.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First Class

Saw X-Men First Class tonight. I piratified it, as I couldn't drag Tanja into a cinema when it was out (I worry that Captain America will suffer a similar fate).

I liked it. I liked it a lot. But the moment it was over, my brain fell upon it and started nitpicking. And I'm not talking the nitpicking of one who knows the source material, which I am. No, this what story-nerd stuff.

***spoilers, kind of***

Like how I felt that Michael Fassbender did an excellent job as Eric Lensherr, but was a terrible Magneto. The moment he put on the helmet and started speechifying, I stopped believing the character. Admittedly, the speechifying was always the most Bond-villian-y part of Magneto and it's the least realistic. Yes, less realistic than moving metal with one's mind.

This is kind of par for the course for each character. I'll say "I liked the portrayal of this person/character" but then when I start to think about why I liked them, I realise that they didn't really have much to do in the film, so as such, their actions have no explanation, like Mystique or Angel's turns to evil, or Havok, who was basically a blaster, who, as a side-effect, had blond hair. I liked Hank McCoy, but his furred Beast make-up looked silly. Though, as with Magneto, just about any vaguely comic-like version of Beast is going to look silly. Moira McTaggart was an unrelated American character, who frankly, could have been anyone.

Anyway, I keep telling myself, I liked it! Damnit, why can't I enjoy it. What's wrong with me? If I enjoy it, why can't I just enjoy it?

Friday, July 29, 2011

A new scale for a new century.

After doing some yardwork (which involved hacksawing off the ends of trees), I took off my hoody and shoes in preparation for showering off all the leaf-gunk. I took my iPhone out of my pcoket and briefly checked Twitter in case someone had replied to me. They had not, but I spotted a tweet from @punky_and_me with the word "Amazeballs" on it, a word I had used in a tweet the previous day, so I was intrigued and clicked the link. It was a link to the mobile page version of a blog post featuring amazing claymation art from Etsy. I really liked one part, so I went to leave a comment. Tapped "Leave a comment". I typed my comment into the field on the mobile version of the comments page. It asked me what ID I wanted to used, I choose my Google ID then pushed "post". I was then taken to the non-mobile-web version of the comments page with a suddenly-blank comments field. I dutifully retyped my comment, and filled in the Captcha, which was something like "Cohardleb", then pushed "post". However, in the time it took for my finger to go from typing to "post" my iPhone autocorrected "Cohardleb" to "cohabitable". The page then spat me back to the comments page, where I had to carefully re-enter a new Captcha, aptly "RitardSm", then pressed post again. I was the redirected to a Google log-in page where I needed to enter my email address and password. Then hit submit.

Finally, it posted. This whole thing took 7-9 minutes of frustrated pecking at my phone. For one two-line comment.

I reached a 6.5 on the Tanjabraun Scale of Anger-At-Technology (similar to the Rounsaville scale for measuring racism).

So far, in this dimension, the only event which has caused a full 10.0 Tanjabrauns was a left-ward swipe on the trackpad of a Sony Vaio laptop being interpreted as "back" on a browser, in which sat a 10-page blog post that it had taken the better part of 2 hours to write.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

All my mornings should end up as comics.

Brought to you by my trusty Moleskine Storyboard Notebook!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cooking Sunday: White Chocolate Blondies

This recipe originally came from a Revision3 podcast (now sadly cancelled) called Food Mob. It was an interesting show, with very cool recipes, but it had a flaw. The chef, Niall, would be cooking on the fly, and was a bit haphazard with measurements. Often what he would use would differ from the show notes on the website. The show notes themselves would often omit necessary steps and ingredients, or worse, list an ingredient, then never mention it in the instructions. As a result, to get a working recipe, you had to watch the show repeatedly, take notes, compare to the recipe in the show notes, and work out something yourself through trial and error.

This can be frustrating.

But here's one I've adapted from Niall's version and made multiple times. Fair warning, this is a very rich desert. Goes great for bake sales, but if you ate a whole batch to yourself, you might explode. And we wouldn't want that.

White Chocolate Blondies

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  • Take your butter out of the fridge. It'll be hard as a rock, so you can do this ages before, or, if you're stupid like me, you can put it into a ziploc bag, wrapper and all, and dip that bag into some hot water until it softens. Alternatively, you can put a baking tray with an inch of boiling water on the counter and rest the base of your metal mixing bowl in that. Did I mention you'll need a big metal bowl? You'll need a big metal bowl.
  • take your big metal bowl (see? Told you.) and dump in your brown sugar. When your butter is soft enough (and you'd better hope it is), put it in with the brown sugar.
  • Now comes the hard part. Get a wooden spoon or flat spatula, and mix the butter and sugar together, creaming them. It'll take some muscle. Don't use a whisk. Don't use an electric mixer. Both will just make a big mess and you'll spend half your time trying to pick the mixture out of the mixing-device-beater-tool-tong-thing. Think of this as character building, and reminisce about the last RPG character you made and how awesome they were until the game got boring.
  • Now once your mixture is well blended and there are no lumps of butter in it, it should look like this:
  • Add your flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to the wet mix, get your spatula, and mix it all together again. It'll separate out into little globs, but keep mixing. It'll get smooth again.
  • Break the egg into the bowl and mix again. You arm might be tired at this point. Switch arms. Seriously, you could hurt yourself.
  • Once you've mixed the egg in, spread a handful of walnuts onto a chopping board. Oh, crap, did i forget to put walnuts on the list? You need walnuts. Write that down. So. the walnuts. Spread 'em out like this:
  • (the picture is actually two handfuls) Run your knife through them, chopping into little bits. You could use a food processor or a mortar and pestle. Listen to your heart. Pour your chopped-up walnuts into the mixture and stir them in again. You thought you were done with the stirring? No, no, is no done.
  • Get your vanilla pod.

  • Slice the pod lengthwise and use your knife to scrape out the speckly stuff inside. Into the bowl with it. Stir thoroughly, making sure all the speckles are spread around.
  • Measure out your chocolate chips. I use white chips, but really, you can use whatever you like. Into the mix with them and stir for the last time, I promise. The mix should be really thick by this point to where you can stand the spoon up in the bowl with no trouble, to whimsical effect:

Or you could fantasize about the world's unhealthiest lollipop:

Ahem. Anyhow.
  • Get your pan, and lay down some baking paper. Scoop your mixture onto it, and flatten it down to about 4cm thick. Make sure there's baking paper between the mix and the pan, otherwise it'll stick.

  • Into the oven with it. 20 minutes. Open the oven door, and poke a skewer into the middle. If it comes out wet, give it another 5 minutes.
  • Take the tray out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes, to let it settle back down (I didn't know what the opposite verb for "rise" was). It ought to look like this:

  • As soon as you can, use the paper to lift the whole thing out of the pan and set it on a cutting board or tray. Peel the paper edges away and let it breathe:

  • As soon as you can (again), chop the whole thing into squares and carefully lift them off the baking paper onto some paper towel (if you do this too soon, they'll fall apart. Judge it). The reason for the rush it that the blondies will leak butter as they cool. The last thing you want is that butter sitting on the paper and making the bottom of your squares soggy. You may need to move them carefully onto new paper towels a couple of times. Once they've settled, you're done! You can dust 'em with icing sugar, but really, they're fine on their own. See?