I’m working on something big. I promise.

In the meantime, I have two diversions for you.  One is my gig-of-not-much-prior-notice at the Beetle Bar tonight. The second, is a trip to the edge of space with James May.

My dad is badass.  Not in a ranking-officer-in-the-Hell’s-Angels kind of way (because, seriously, presumptions and stereotyping aside, I think we can all agree that creative writing wouldn’t be a likely pastime if that were my background), but in a god-damn-can-my-dad-bust-out-some-serious-beats kind of way.

Following are five tracks from albums my dad has in his collection or, in the case of the last item, has provided to me as a gift. Other than Pink Floyd I think you’re going to cop a few surprises: consider that my dad is a French Canadian raised on the same distant and frigid ice moon sparsely-populated plains of rural Canada as I. Except a few decades earlier. Together, these tracks coupled with that image to ponder upon will quite likely convince you that my old man is one badass mofo.

Pink Floyd – On The Run

I find it hard to believe that once upon a time I didn’t like Pink Floyd. I suspect it must be common to all youth to think that anything older than what’s charting currently is “ghey”, because that’s my best defence other than guilty by way of insanity. At any rate, after many teenage years spent despising dad’s ‘stupid Pink Floyd albums’, I woke one morning to the sound of Dark Side of the Moon blasting away just outside my bedroom (a clever way for dad to disrupt my slackful late-morning slumber). It was like the proverbial light had gone on inside my headspace, and I suddenly understood the awesome that is Floyd.

Ice-T feat. Jello Biafra – Shut Up, Be Happy

My dad picked up Ice-T’s The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say (seriously, Ice-T: did the title really need to be that long?) within a year of its release in 1989. That was my first year of high school. This was in the neighbourhood of when I read Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four (both borrowed from my dad’s badass library).  You put repeated listening of this album together with the dangerously beautiful warnings in those dystopian classics in the same young mind and you end up with one supernova-sized catalyst for a lot of the political leanings I still hold.

New Order – Round & Round

I’d have to say 1989 was a monumental year, in terms of the music landscape, and my growth into a full-fledged music snob. On the same shopping trip as the Ice-T album, dad picked up New Order’s fifth album, Technique. This album got a lot of play, and put me ahead of the curve when all the other kids in high school were only discovering New Order in the latter half of high school. Not that being one of the music literati has ever helped me the way it has Jack Black, and most certainly not in the Klingon salt mine that I attended high school in. On the other hand, my Dungeons and Dragons characters had more bitchin’ soundtracks than anyone else’s.

Yello – Le Secret Farida

Yello is this kinda out there performance-art-meets-bizarro-techno outfit from Switzerland. They’re most famous for that “Oh Yeah” song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Listening to Yello really nudged me along towards the understanding that you could uncover an ass-load of merit in “out there” music if the production was tight enough or it bored through your skull and graffitied twisted and crazy-dark fantasy worlds on the walls of your mind. Also highly recommended, from another Yello CD in dad’s collection: Tied Up (In Fantasia).

Kool Moe Dee – 50 Ways

So dad scored me Kool Moe Dee’s How Ya Like Me Now and Young MC’s Stone Cold Rhymin’ at the same time (honourable mention for this entry goes to Young MC’s Know How for sampling the theme song from Shaft). I could have veered toward either, but I decided to give props to Mr. Dee because he doesn’t get the “retro”-inspired airplay Mr. MC does. It’s almost certainly these two albums that led me to Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr, KRS-1, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and the title of “Blackest White Man in Canada” from a number of my equally not-black friends in our little corner of the vast North American prairies. Yep, 50 Ways is saddled with cheesy 80s rap, but these beats are from the cusp of sample-based production moving from the sideline into the mainstream. Yeah, I’m a music snob. Didn’t we cover that already?

PS: Dad, I’m sorry I ever played all those super-shitty “Euro Mega Hits 199x” and “Club Dance Hits 199x” compilations on your stereo. It will so not ever happen again.

PPS: Dad, I also hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Merry Festivus, and thanks!

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while won’t be surprised by this video. You will, at least, be amused.

Aphex Twin – Windowlicker

Beardyman – Aphex Twin vs Bumblebees

Marly Marl – Droppin’ Science

I admit I’m surprised by this, given the high standards I hold my homeland to, but I suppose I shouldn’t expect so much of the 16 to 18 year old set regardless of the locale. A Canadian survey recently found that only 4% of Canadian teens see science as ‘cool’ – which leads me to ruminate upon the sorry state of science PR when you can’t fucking make robots and lasers and spacecraft appealing to youth. Seriously. You know, robots. Robots! Dinosaurs, too!

The same survey found that only 37% of these students were considering post-secondary study in a science course. This badass infographic tells me that that’s comparable with China’s current crop of university students, where enrollment in science and engineering is just over 40%, so I don’t think that’s actually too bad a figure. Not when you compare it to the USA’s unsurprising and paltry sub-15% of enrollments in those degrees.

Across the Pacific, a recent poll found – in total disregard for national stereotypes – that Australians are more interested in science than sport (although, I dare you to prove that during prime-time in football season).  All this despite the presence of this anti-reason douchebag as a prominent public figure and both state and federal governments intent on funding the exact opposite of science education.

I don’t know what conclusion to draw from all this. All I know is that a basic understanding of science is going to become more and more essential for every member of society, as the problems we face will grow more and more complex and require more knowledge to understand. It’s especially damning if our only science graduates are reclusive antisocials and all the cool kids run off to do law and economics, because science desperately needs to be communicated (and communicated well) in order to be accepted and understood.

We’ve already seen examples of what happens when scientific illiteracy reigns: Americans with their bizarre restrictions on stem cell research; Europeans with their paranoid aversion to GM crops; drought-stricken cities voting down recycled water; the continuing spread of HIV across Africa courtesy of false wisdom bestowed upon us by the king of all douchebags; and the myriad of horrible things done by witch doctors, exorcists and homeopaths across the globe. It’s not so bad now, but when a frighteningly large percentage of people don’t even know how long it takes the Sun to go around the Earth, what completely avoidable problem will we march willingly into next?

The little dude has been watching a total pissload of Astro Boy lately.

Win! Robots!

For the first five or six times through the 2008 Astro Boy movie, Atomique and I were totally thrilled that before his third birthday we’d managed to convince the little guy how badass robots are. I wouldn’t put that film into any top ten lists, though, and those viewings all happened inside a month. Ugh.

In order to survive, I made my brain think up the clever plan of securing episodes of the ’80s TV version of Astro Boy. There are fifty or so episodes, so I reckoned that ought keep the kid entertained while keeping mom and dad sane (which is what I’m told is the primary goal of every human family). So far so good. There was a point around episode three where I thought the strategy was bound for failure when he kept asking for ‘bigger Ackaboy’ but he seems convinced now by mom and dad’s assurances that the shorter episodes are just as cool.

We’re now a few episodes in, and one of the first memories of the show that sprang back to Atomique was how often Astro Boy’s sister Uran had her drawers on display. It’s fairly frequent, and thankfully some random photshopper from the Astro Boy Online forums has compiled a number of them into one shot, saving me the effort:

All of this leads me to the result of a chilling game of connect-the-dots that Atomique played while pondering further upon the tendency for the animators to throw in upskirt shots of Uran. I present to you the successor to the oft-rumoured used panty vending machines of Japan:

USED ROBOT SCHOOLGIRL PANTIES ON SALE IN JAPAN

I don’t have anything to say today past that sensationalist headline. I’ll leave you to ponder upon it (or, hey, have a good quiet fap if that’s your thing).

Hey there, cadets.

I’ve been away, I know. Let’s pretend my absence has been humorous and implausible, something like a thrilling and wildly dangerous mission to destroy a secret shadow government facility where future pop stars were being grown in giant vats of nutrient slime. Sure, let’s call it that.

In reality, I’ve been lazy.

There’s a fair bit of time-starvation in there, courtesy of mini-me #1 and mini-me #2, mind. I’ve had spare time, but there is a special kind of exhaustion one gets from chasing a toddler for the last few hours before bedtime that really squashes my desire to preference activities other than a lazy game of Halo or Urban Terror.

Just recently, though, a couple of interesting things have happened.

First up, this blog has been nominated for a 2010 Canadian Weblog Award! Not bad, given how sporadic and rant-heavy the thing has been over the past few months. Presumably, this means enough people have considered the year’s catalogue of my infrequent sub-space dispatches and decided the lack of volume is trumped severely by the calibre of my have word writy things make sense.

I’m fairly proud of my writing; I suspect I could turn tricks as a professional wordsmith in a pinch. Atomique (who is a Wizard of Media and Communications) recently praised one of my shorter pieces, a letter to my MP regarding the Australian government’s position on Julian Assange in the wake of Cablegate. It went like this:

Hi Teresa,

I’m just dropping you a quick email to let you know how disappointed and horrified I am by our government’s handling of the WikiLeaks Cablegate affair and Mr Julian Assange.

I refer to recent actions by the Prime Minister and the Attourney-General in which they condemn the man as a criminal before any court of law has convicted him of such.

Regardless of what may eventually come of any investigation into Mr Assange’s activities as head of Wikileaks, it is abhorrent to think that our Prime Minister is so willing to discard an Australian citizen.

Above and beyond all of the media hype surrounding Mr Assange, I applaud the man for his efforts in promoting transparency in government and freedom of information.  The least our government should do is support him as it ought any other citizen, let alone give him the thanks he deserves for his service to the common good.

I am utterly disgusted with the government and its actions, and I urge you to lend some thought to my concerns.

Sincerely,

Atomique’s glowing review:

That was articulate, clear and concise. A plain English triumph, too. If I was marking it, I’d give it an HD, the highest mark.

U haz mad communik8shun skilz.

So, anyhow, I really should write some more, so I will. And I suppose I ought stay on-topic, given my nomination in the 2010 CWAs was in the music category. Courtesy of the of the process for the CWAs, having now made the shortlist of finalists I get all of December to make up for a slack previous eleven months. BAM! Electoral abuse, baby!

Secondly, I curated the December 4th edition of Curated By Interesting People. Curated by Interesting People is a project run out of the UK where interesting people share interesting things: a curation is restricted to one song, one video, one website, one twitter feed. There other curators are a motley, accomplished and certainly interesting bunch. I’m in good company among some of the other interesting folk with a background in music, like the guy behind Banco de Gaia and Eric Kleptone (music nerds represent!).

The curation covers me for science and music, so I’ll direct you over there now for your usual dose of what I’m really supposed to be writing about.

Seeing as I now have this renewed energy for the blog and a motivation in freakishly dystopian surveillance by the CWA judges, keep your sensors on this quadrant for more out of me this month.

Hgiyiyi (hgjhjh, hjhk) is a book like no other. Seriously. It will enrich your soul in ways not possibly imaginable.

Check out the reviews on Amazon.

This kind of scientific ignorance irritates me right to my goddamned core.

For fuck’s sake, let me spell this out: essentially, science is just a set of rules about how to make observations. Everything – EVERYTHING – else is just corollaries built upon established observations. So, if you can come up with a better way to understand things than by observing them, pony up the ideas because we’re all ears. Otherwise, haul yourself and your counterproductive wordhole back to the mud hut you belong in and stop using all this awesome shit that the rest of us enjoy courtesy of science.

Masculine-heavy? What, women don’t have eyes and the ability to document their findings? Not only are you ignorant, completely dimwitted stranger commenting on my highschool friend’s equally shortsighted anti-fluoridation rant on Facebook (apologies, highschool friend in question; I gotta say what I gotta say), but you’re a dipshit, too.

Fuck, old age is making me angry. No, wait – I’m in my thirties so that seems unlikely – it’s the stupidity of others that makes me angry, and I become increasingly intolerant of it as the years pass. You want to talk about what’s doing the planet in? It’s people fighting to suppress reason, and that really REALLY makes me want to go on a cockpunching spree.

Guh. Here, if you’re as worked up as I am by now, you probably need to calm down. Staying on the topic of observations, check out this awesome interactive flash “game” that lets you zoom in and out towards either end of what we know about the tiniest and the largest things in the universe. Nice.

I had a killer ending to an awesome weekend.

Out of the orbital habitat and away from the Earthlets for a night out with Atomique two evenings in a row? Mind-bendingly priceless. The spawn are awesome and all, but a touch of freedom was sorely needed for all the adults of the household.

First up was a bit of foreign cuisine, in an establishment of the variety where one is very unlikely to encounter screaming children.  The portions were tasty and smallish; I now tend to expect small with either fine or Japanese dining so I was neither surprised nor saddened by the size of the meals. We then wandered the city aimlessly, unable to remember what it is that people without children do when they hit the city. Courtesy of how much it sucks, we were drawn to the casino. The majority of the population of tragic-town appeared, to our casual glances, to be oversized, underaged or abnormal. One beer later it had stopped being amusing and we went home, nevertheless happy with our night out.

The next night was a friend’s birthday party, followed by me spinning a few tunes at the Beetle Bar. The party was funky and well-catered, and the Beetle Bar was packed with a posse of groovy cats Atomique and I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with lately. You know who you are, awesome folks. Big thank you to everyone who had kind words to say about my sets – and even more praise be to you who rewarded my technique on the midi controller (sigh, that just doesn’t have the same ring as ‘skills on the decks’) with a frosty beverage.

Sunday night? It was pretty special too, because I travelled through fucking time.

The in-laws had cleared out and everyone else in the house had gone to bed by 21:00. I parked myself cross-legged on the floor, game controller in hand, the house illuminated only by the glow of the TV and listened to an album while playing a brand new video game.

It was awesome.

LCD Soundsystem – Us vs Them (Go Home Productions Remix)

The album? The LCD Soundsystem tribute/mashup/remix album Sounds like Silver. The official website appears to have lapsed into oblivion, but there are still ways to get the record.  The game? Forza Motorsport 3. I don’t even rank racing games high on my to-do list; it’s just been a long time since I spent an extended amount of time with a new game in one sitting. It certainly helped that the graphics in the game are staggeringly beautiful.

It was only a short visit to the past, though. I don’t see myself recreating the winter of ’95, where I played X-Com 2: Terror From the Deep an unhealthy amount and listened to The Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation on repeat, so much so that both are fused into one entity in my brain. To this day, fifteen years later, the moment I hear any track from that album I have a pavlovian response and the interface from the game is momentarily superimposed over reality. I’m a sad testament to the flaws of the human brain, I know.

Still, cerebral failings aside: awesome weekend.

Viper Pilot Audio

Looking for music by Viper Pilot? This blog is the current home of Viper Pilot's Munition Works, where he stores all of his mashes and mixes.

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