I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday the 13th and other random musings

Friday the 13th
As I started this post, it was almost 2am on Saturday 14th November and I was watching Friday 13th Part V: A New Beginning. It's the one after The Final Chapter, an episode so final that subsequently there have been 7 more (not including remakes, but including Freddy vs Jason). I have them all on DVD, and ever since completing the set I've wanted to have a fest of this sort, a back-to-back all-nighter of watching them, on an occurrence of the date. Today I finally took that ball and ran with it.

These are seriously low brow films. I struggle to think of films more formulaic. They take no brain power to watch. Actually, that may not be the case: if you let them, they occupy the brain when you try to figure out what on earth the comically bad endings to part 2 and 3 are all about. They distress the brain when each episode starts with a recap that's way way way too long. They leave you with enough capacity to spend an entire film thinking "fuck, where else have I seen that actor?" without losing track of the action. But mostly, from episodes 2 onwards, they make you -- that is to say, they make me -- laugh. I think they're fantastic. (Actually, such a broad statement isn't strictly true: episodes 1-4 are great, 5-8 considerably less so (though 6 is OK), 9-10 + Freddy vs Jason back on point)

Does anyone know where my Making Friday The 13th book is? I have a feeling it might be in my garage. It's certainly not in my bookshelf, or in my bedroom. Wherever it is, it's probably next to my copy of If Chins Could Kill. I really want to find them both...so I can lend them to others.

Why can't I find any popular science books, or even introductory academic texts, on writing/script? Well -- actually -- I found one, the Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction To Writing And Script, but it was a huge disappointment. Mostly it was about various ancient scripts and when they were in use, when they dropped out of use, what they eventually morphed into, and how decipherment works. All very interesting to other people I'm sure, but not to me: what I'm really interested in is a history or explanation of, literally, why certain shapes came to represent certain sounds. Why individual scripts look like they do, in themselves and relative to one another. But I can't find anything like it. I've plenty of linguistics books about word meanings, about cultural differences in language, about language as an expression of thought (Pinker RULES), and about language development... but nothing about writing in the way I'm interested. Is it simply a case that we just don't know that kind of stuff about scripts?

I'd never heard of wulffmorgenthaler.com two weeks ago. But in that time I've seen links to their strips from two different sources; one of them reckons this strip says something about me. Maybe it does, but worse than that is how much of a kicking today's XKCD gave me. Ouch. (If you're going to read more of this post, make sure you read that XKCD strip first)

I've recently bought a parade of ever-fancier toys. Of most immediate relevance is that I upgraded my phone to the Android-powered HTC Hero, after years of being a Sony Ericsson fanboi. I have massively mixed feelings about it so far: there were loads of teething troubles getting it set up with contacts, getting it onto my wireless network at home, the alarm app is a load of shit (sometimes alarms don't go off, and when they do there's no snooze option), battery life is rubbish, ... but oh me oh my it's a fucking fancy shiny toy.

The Cowon S9 is a great mp3 player, I love the interface and the sound quality's superb, but I don't like how there's no way to record a log of what you've listened to and send it up to last.fm (who I continue to use massively, despite the bastards turning me down for a job in the summer ;-) ). Actually there may be a way if I use a more complex way of loading it up with music, but it's a load of hoop-jumping bullshit that I can't be fucked with.

The Squeezebox Radio is my best electronics purchase this year. The sound is amazing and I've loved the squeezebox server software for as long as I've known about it (which is over 2 years now). Access to all my music in my bedroom, when I fall asleep, when I wake up, when I have a lie-in, etc etc, with the most flexible yet simple to use interface I've ever seen, is just fantastic, something I've wanted for years. So in tandem with the ongoing project of re-encoding all my CDs, I now get to listen to them each morning and night, when previously I either couldn't, or had to do some kind of bullshit iTunes fakery and listen through laptop speakers. The Squeezebox Radio is nigh-on perfect.

I have flimsy justifications for getting these toys! Yay me!
  • I have always adored music
  • my last phone was horribly broken.
The truth is I already have 2 working mp3 players and one perfectly functional old phone, and could have got the broken one fixed. But until someone or something (preferably the former) comes along -- and I am trying to do my bit -- this pale facsimile of fulfillment will likely carry on.

Since I'm turning this long, rambling post into something which approximates a week or so of tumblr.com-esque snippets, I might as well embed a few song videos. These are tunes I think are incredible, or getting there at least. There's no reason why anyone should agree with me, especially as I listen to an awful lot of music and sometimes have a pretty low quality threshold, but still...these are great songs, and not remotely extreme metal.