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?