see and be scene

February 5, 2008

i had a fairly serious job interview in the city today. forty-five stories up melbourne central tower. i did my best not to look out the window, even though the view was literally awesome. what is it about job interviews that stresses people out so much? is it simply because we hang so many of our future aspirations on them? i don’t think it’s that simple. there are just too many problems inherent in the format of being lined up (as if against a wall) in front of a panel of judges, whose function is basically to sniff out and expose any character flaws, dubious motivations or emotional instabilities.

but then i got to thinking, it’s probably the only option there is. personally i would probably prefer to sit some kind of test (with lots of multiple choice questions, where the correct answer can easily be deduced by a process of elimination) or have the whole thing judged entirely on the merits of an application letter or essay, but that’s just me: my writing skills far outweigh my speaking skills (am occassionally prone to st-st-st-stuttering when under pressure), and i notoriously go to water when being interviewed for anything of any significance, major or minor, regardless of quantity or quality of preparation.

this is fairly daunting, really. unless i want to work in part-time/casual hospitality jobs for the rest of my days, i’m gonna have to start getting wise. and you can’t apply the ‘practise makes perfect’ dictum, either: the better you are at job interviews, the less of them you will inevitably end up suffering. so the sheer fact that you keep going for job interviews is probably indicative of your inherent ineptitude firstly, and your inability to learn secondly.

let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. i don’t find out about this interview until april (gotta rendezvous with HQ, i suppose, those homing pigeons like to take their time), and i have a back-up plan lined up for this friday. surely i’m at least 50% successful? if not in interviews, then in life?

anyway, in preparing for my interview, i stumbled across this hilarious thread. please note that i didn’t find that thread by googling “cosplay sluts,” unlike the person who stumbled upon raced rabidly towards this very journal after googling “demure japanese girls.” wish i was joking.

i’m trying really hard to get into this. like i’m really trying. it’s hard! probably the densest (most dense…none more dense) work of fiction i’ve ever read. in fact it’s half like reading a “why, it’s elementary, watson!”-type detective story, half like reading an in-depth academic history of the church in the middle ages. and i’m not the most church-savvy at the best of times. i know that as the story progresses, eco’s ulterior motives will become more apparent, but right now (abuot 100 pages in) it’s hard to reconcile what’s going on within the walls of the abbey, outside the walls of the abbey, and inside eco’s semiotic mind. basically, i know that the whole thing will tie together nicely, if mysteriously, and i won’t have wasted my time with all this carry-on about monks and franciscans and the papacy and burnings-at-the-stake. still, given the academic nature of the novel, the writing is still very emotive; really captures the god-fearing vernacular in a highly literate and effective way. will report back soon (or not, depending on how long it takes me).

what can be said about heath ledger? i loved this guy. i loved everything he ever did, and as an australian was constantly proud of everything that he achieved, both at home and overseas. i am absolutely certain he was oscar material (as if his first nomination wasn’t proof enough) and the circumstances of his death are just tragic. no words of mine can add to what has already been said; heath was a rare talent and we will always be in debt to his contributions to film. i know the dark knight will be absolutely phenomenal. you will be missed.

i know i said updates would be more frequent, but that means they come at the cost of actual content. deal with it.

so long, friends.

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the silent disco

January 18, 2008

good evening, readers. i know that my latest absense from the old blogosphere has been pretty lengthy. without making excuses (would i ever do that?) you can attribute this break to my desktop computer and the desk that it sits upon – an awkward height for any boy to deal with. it was giving me headaches and back pain aplenty, so i did what any normal person would do in my situation – bought a new laptop computer!

oh, those koreans! long story short, it wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. i feel up-to-date again, although this latest macbook air is just plain silly. and all things considered, vista has been running exceptionally well (at least since i installed the service pack release candidate). anyways, this entry isn’t all fun and games.

clinton-grybas1.jpg

i just wanted to say a few words about clinton grybas. now, those of you who know me well know that i have two passions in this world: getting fired up watching afl football, and talking shit about the state of journalism and the media. well, clinton grybas was easily the best afl commentator in the country and – for the first time in a long time – i found myself getting actually emotional hearing all the news reports about the death of a well-known person. he was charismatic, honest, enthusiastic, natural, funny and clearly passionate. it was so refreshing to hear a good young talent calling the football (triple m doesn’t count; i can never tell the difference beteween huddo, damo, richo, stevo, jonno and boof). his on- and off-field interviews were fantastic and quite simply he made most other football callers sound like amateurs. i was a massive fan of this guy and i’m really, really sorry that he’s gone.

anyways. i’ve been making a concerted effort to actually play some of the video games that have been gathering dust on my shelf. notably: call of cthulhu and grid wars.

if we’re talking about geometry wars clones (and you know we are), grid wars is the best you can get. make no mistake: these old-school arcade games are monstrously hard and take years to master. i haven’t been challenged like this by a video game in a long time. there’s a really great review of it here, and i also have to give them credit for the screenshots. true story: microsoft wouldn’t let the developer host grid wars on his site anymore because it was “too good” a clone of geometry wars. i’d say it’s better, actually. you can download it, and other geometry wars clones for the pc, here.

next up is call of cthulhu. having been a casual lovecraft fan for a while, i was really keen to check out this game, not just because of its story but also its design. i can honestly say this is one of the scariest games i have ever played. it’s set in 1922 new england, and the washed-out, grainy graphics really suit.

the whole atmosphere of the game is decidedly morbid, and you will not at any stage feel comfortable while playing it. it’s not all hairy – in fact, you don’t even pick up a weapon to defend yourself until halfway through the game. there is no on-screen health meter, and your sanity will waver whenever you see something gruesome, causing your vision to distort and blur. whether you’re a lovecraft fan or not, this is a great old-school adventure game that’s thick on the story and foreboding setting.

i’m also really looking forwards to spore. i swear this game will be revolutionary. like simcity (and, to a lesser extent, games like civilisation) before it, this is a game that takes reality and makes it playable. well, not literally of course. but it reflects everything we think we know about technology and the world around us. in this case, they have taken on the biological and philosophical implications of evolution itself and transposed them into cute pixelated characters. for those of you that don’t know, players design their own creatures and watch them pass through various stages of evolution, culminating in space exploration.

the creature editor

the entire game universe will be created by the players. that means that every landscape, every character and every character interaction is ‘determined’ by player action (or inaction): a simulated reflection of the cause-and-effect nature of evolution itself. this one will surely be dissected into a billion pieces in any given melbourne university cultural studies subject over the next few years, and with good reason. you can choose to research another planet’s lifeforms, or annihilate them. or you can pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to simulate a greenhouse effect. or you can just play around making adorable little creatures.

anyways. i’m in the throes of applying to go overseas. yes, i realise i don’t need anybody’s explicit permission to do this, but since i’m looking for a job in japan, i kinda do. with any luck this will be happening within the next couple of months. that also means that this blog will be getting a lot more attention as it will be one of the only lifelines connecting me to the real world. i might even decide to take a photo or two. i’ve also been writing a lot more music than most of you are accustomed to lately, and have been getting started on numerous short stories and even some script ideas. so don’t touch that dial!

this whole idea stems from my desire to sample as many new things as possible, with a minimum of preconceived prejudice. i know this has probably prevented me from experiencing certain things in the past but i sincerely believe i’m more open-minded these days (within reason, of course), even if i barely remember expressing opinions on anything. for example, who would have ever thought that the amy winehouse album would make it on to my ‘best of 2007’ list? swimming around my head at the moment are aspirations of moving out of home and a career change, to name only the two most pertinent. so, you know, hit me up if you wanna try some peyote or something.

the american election is happening again. i know this entry is already way long so i won’t dwell on it for too long (as much as i would like to), but i will just say this: barack obama is the most sensible, level-headed, likeable and genuine american politian i can remember having ever listened to. it would be an absolute tragedy for democracy and common-sense everywhere were he not to a) win the democratic nomination and b) subsequently win the election. not that i can see the republicans getting up (no pun intended), but i fear that your run-of-the-mill yank is more ready for a female president than a black one, given the choice. ironically, it’s amazing how many americans don’t feel obligated to vote in their own country’s election, and then get up on their high horse about how great their nation is, not to mention wars in other countries that they have no business commenting on (or fighting in).

but perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is the ‘family tree’ of american politics that we’re looking at, should hillary clinton win:

bush (R)-> clinton (D) -> bush (R) -> clinton (D).

courtesy of wikipedia.

surely we can think a little more laterally than that, people. or can we? increasingly, the american (and british, and even australian) governments have been operating on an economy of fear. the ability of regular citizens to think – and indeed, vote – for themselves is carefully controlled by press agents, spokespeople, speech writers, major news networks, and so on. it doesn’t take a noam chomsky to realise how biased all mainstream news outlets are, one way or the other. we’re talking about an irrational, generalised fear: not of any one person, or a single ‘doomsday’ event, but of an imagined, fictionalised, mythologised entity that threatens the (again imagined) ideals of western society. like ‘terrorism.’ or ‘the enemy.’ or ‘those who hate democracy.’ there is enough uncertainty, enough ambiguity, in western cultures as to foster a loss of identity and fear of the unknown (most notoriously, changes in economy and government), which essentially results in people being told how and what to think, and having them buy into it. it’s the only constant we can rely on.

i know this sounds like sensationalist propaganda (no better than the rhetoric that i’m apparently criticising), but the difference is that what i’m saying is true. even letterman is getting in on the joke. funny, yes, but also kinda scary.

seen some good movies lately, notably hotel chevalier and the darjeeling limited. darjeeling was more or less what i expected, but the real surprise for me was hotel chevalier; so simple, but so funny, and so sexy. who knew natalie portman would look great naked?

also got to meet jason schwartzman.

jason-schwartzman.jpg

this was spectactularly awesome, and i wanted to talk to him about how great melbourne is and how ‘west coast’ reminds me of all sorts of sunny polaroid photographs of america and how i could more or less quote every line from ‘rushmore’ and boy oh boy how jealous i am of his career. but alas, there was no time, and i’ll just have to settle for this awesome photograph. super nice guy, it must be said.

i’ve also renewed my interest in anime. i’m about one third of the way through monster, which is an achievement in itself. talk about a mindfuck; this show runs the full gamut of emotions, exploring all kinks of human relationships and motivations. it’s definitely more rewarding the more you invest in it, and unlike most anime, is not flashy at all. there are no special effects (or giant fighting robots), no pretty lighting effects, etc. what it is is a bleak and realistic psychological drama. and, having first-hand experience to draw from, the rendering of germany is spot on.

not that flashy anime is a bad thing.

plug plug.

yes, it’s australia day weekend next week. i always look forwards to it; the weather’s always nice and invariably somebody hosts a wild party. this one threatens to be the biggest yet. what could be more australian? somebody (i won’t name names) once told me that “patriotism isn’t cool, dude.” up the punx! i am proud to be an aussie, even though i’m keen to jetset. and hell, i’ve even gone this whole distance without mentioning that as of november last year, australia is fiercely and proudly left-wing again! fantastic. for the first time in my living memory, we have an eloquent, intelligent and genuine politician leading our country – not to mention one who won’t be cashing in his super-annuation for a few years yet. so, let’s everyone get on it next weekend!

click on through to see my best and worst of 2007!

Read the rest of this entry »

here we go again. what did i say about this being the blog to end all blogs? there’s really not much in the way of news, at least not anything fit to print.

Photo courtesy of www.news.com.au

so, as you are all aware, steve irwin died today after being bitten by a stingray in the chest. i would just like to say that that is a pretty gnarly way to die, probably second only to the great white shark in terms of awesome death by sea creature. i didn’t realise until i got home just how much the world actually cares about this guy. that’s not to say that i didn’t like him, but i never thought anybody took him seriously. it’s pretty sad; he didn’t really deserve any of the criticism that he got over the years, and it’s definitely a shame that it had to happen to someone with such a lust for life. his conservational efforts were enviable to say the least and he was basically just a good bloke. anyway. now we need to export a new ambassador to continue that whole crocodile dundee tradition.

in my extensively productive travels today, i stumbled across the new album by the black keys, released in the uk (and australia, apparently) as of today. pretty stoked, since i didn’t even know it was coming out.

initial thoughts are that it rocks fairly hard. the songs are definitely more complex, particularly compared to the stuff on thickfreakness. i’m definitely getting an ac/dc/led zeppelin-type 70s metal vibe from some of the guitar riffs, which can only be a good thing. i swear dan auerbach is one of the most prominent songwriters of our generation; for those of you still getting your blues fix from the likes of the white stripes, you need to check out this band now. there will definitely be a more detailed review once this has had time to sink in.

i’ve been a huge fan of this band for a few years now, and was exceptionally excited about this album coming out. silverstrand, while definitely a departure from their earlier sound, sounded pretty apprehensive to me; like a half-blooded attempt at a more mainstream sound. with step outside yourself, the band has traded in all their reservations and attacked their pop sound with complete abandon. the opener, ‘think against the grain,’ leaves an impression right off the bat. the first thing you notice about this album (besides pete’s amazing voice) is the sound of the guitars. there is well-documented use of acoustic guitars scattered about the place and the results are mostly positive, except in parts it can make the album seem unnecessarily ecelectic. there are, of course, some weaker songs, but they are essentially filler in an album unashamedly geared towards its singles. this is only a small criticism from a fan who has come to expect great things from a band that is still hitting their stride, despite already having a few records under their belt. the re-recorded version of ‘siren on the 101’ is simply massive. this song alone demonstrates over it’s huge potential for catchy yet heavy-hitting songs. while decidedly ‘cleaner’ overall, this version of the song doesn’t sacrifice any of the energy contained on the silverstrand version and still stands as a highlight of this carefully constructed album. there are other songs (mostly during the latter half of the album) that aren’t as instantly memorable, but are still strong: ‘your song,’ ‘the energy’ (the energy’s insane!) and ‘mr. serious’ spring to mind. on the other hand, however, are the brilliantly breezy pop cuts. for example, ‘where the sky begins’ and ‘too much information’ skip along in mid-tempo, major key sunniness, with appropriately singalong lyrics. step outside yourself is, in many ways, the album that yellowcard should have made in place of lights and sounds: it has the hooks, the energy, the right delivery; it’s ambitious but not self-indulgent. from my point of view, at the very least this album is a huge step in the right direction. since timing is everything i have believed that over it have the right sound to become a massive, massive band, and if this album doesn’t seal the deal, then i’m sure their next one will.

ok well that review was getting too long. i’ll try to keep them more focussed next time, but you should definitely check out these two records. listen to a few over it tracks here.

my football team finished at the bottom of the afl ladder for the third time in five years. impressive effort, boys. honestly though, it’s saddening to see a bunch of guys who try so damn hard week in, week out, still fail so miserably. here’s to 2007. just quietly; i’m pretty sure the premiership will go to an interstate team again this year, which sucks.

i got a new toothbrush today (it was about time) and it has like, traction, on the grip. i can say with confidence that i will NOT drop my toothbrush at a crucial moment. on that note, it’s time i went and got some uni work done. in case you’re wondering; my final semester is really not all i had hoped it would be. my classes are failing to inspire me (yes, blame the classes…) and there are only a few weeks left. not sure what happens next. so, i guess this is goodbye for now. san dimas high school football rules!