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."