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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!
The little dude has been watching a total pissload of Astro Boy lately.
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:
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.
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.
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.
I’ll get around to the children’s edition of ‘Make Yourself a Scientist’… soonish.
Some bits and bobs (space-bits and space-bobs included as well, of course) today:
That’s from an awesome blog I accidentally found, Geek Art. Nice stuff here. Very nice stuff. Go, go now.
Check these mad videos I found there:
I recently gave my dad the following advice about web browsers. For your own safety on the web as much as everyone else’s, give the following some consideration.
It’s important for the health of the internet as a whole to have users on a variety of web browsers out in the wild – it cuts into criminals’ profit margins to craft virii* and exploits that target multiple browsers. That being said, IE has a lot of unbeatable compatibility advantages, so I recommend using IE for safe browsing like web banking, your corporate intranet, government sites, etc. and another browser (any other browser, as long as it’s not IE: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Camino) for run-of-the-mill surfing and visiting new sites.
* Yes, I know it’s ‘viruses’ these days, but I enjoyed the eccentricities of Latin words in English that we had last century. It’s not often I’m the crazy old guy clinging to the past.
Okay, the rant (a topic I’ve hit on before, but damn is the sequel a good one):
Dear lady at the pharmacy who tried to sell Atomique on homeopathic remedies because ‘this one time there was this cat who got hit by a car and I gave it something homeopathic because I couldn’t think of anything else to do and then when the cat got to the vet the vet said he was amazed that the cat hadn’t gone into shock and so it must have been the homeopathy that did it therefore homeopathy works’.
Listen, lady at the pharmacy: that story about one cat is a very very very poor sample size to back any statement of efficacy of your magic potions. Statistically speaking, I’m sure that one out of every such-and-such number of similar accidents involving cats results in the cat ‘surprisingly’ not entering shock. In clinical trials (and other, not so clinical events), homeopathic remedies DO NOTHING. Medical studies require a certain amount of test subjects to ensure a significant number of results in order to determine what effects a substance has. Not one thorough study, ever, has produced any observation that indicates homeopathic remedies do anything at all.
Not only that, but the underlying mechanism you claim is at work in your snake oil, that water has some kind of supernatural ability to remember the things that used to be in it, is not possible according to the laws of the universe that every single person who studies the way the universe works has come to agree to as the best model to describe how reality works. Homeopathy was imagined by some crazy dickface who foisted it as a miracle remedy on the uneducated public (the same knuckleheads who thought bloodletting was the best way to help the ill) of the late 1700s – without rigorous testing to see if it actually did anything, an ultimate act of ass-hattery. His fraudulent douchebag followers insist to this day that it has value, despite volumes of scientific discoveries that make its underlying principle laughably retarded.
This is not some elaborate conspiracy to keep you from padding your coffers healing the poor by selling them expensive vials of water, it’s many people in many countries of various cultures all making the same observations and drawing the same conclusion about what those observations mean.
Please stop behaving like what you’re talking about is real, makes sense, or can be conceived of as truthful by anyone capable of reason. If you’re ignorant of the truth behind homeopathy, shame on you for pretending to be knowledgeable so as to try and convince a stranger to part with their money for nothing (Atomique, a clever bear, tells me she tactfully laughed her way out of this laughable situation without incident); if you’re a charlatan knowingly fleecing your fellow humans, go fuck yourself.
I don’t know where all the time goes. It’s here, I’m fairly certain of that, but I’m just not seeing it. I imagine it would need to be around here somewhere, but the alarmist in me now suspects extremists of some sort have detonated some kind of time vortex under my orbital platform.
Nothing really interesting to report, otherwise. The western front is quiet, but busy, you grok?
Here are some tunes I’ve managed to listen to (and enjoy) lately, courtesy of me entering this millennium and finally setting up a media extender in the living room. Some of the tunes are newer; some of it’s older stuff I’m digging all over again. Given the presence of some ‘8-bit nerdcore dubstep’, I guarantee that the following is at least a touch eclectic if nothing else.
DJ Food – The Crow
The Darkness – I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Neon Neon – Belfast
YTCracker – The Link
Party Ben – Another One Bites Da Funk (Daft Punk vs Queen)
IAM – L’Empire du Côté Obscur
A big shout out to the crew members from all the ships in the fleet who came to help me celebrate my birthday over the weekend. Some ridiculously good times were had, so my space-hat is off to all of you.
Speaking of birthdays, I eyeballed April 26 over at good old Wikipedia and was pleasantly surprised to find out I share a birthday with legendary Italian producer Giorgio Moroder (unlike poor Atomique, for whom the most interesting thing about her birthday is that it is also International Stuttering Awareness Day). I’ve written about guys like Joe Meek and Bob Moog who created the technology, whereas Moroder is one of the people who took the gear and really ran with it. And how.
Viper Pilot – Ballad of the Colonial Roughnecks (Moroder vs Freestylers vs Battlestar Galactica)
Famous for his Academy and Grammy winning soundtrack work as well as his work producing tracks for Blondie, Donna Summer (and scores more), Moroder can really pimp a synth – without him disco would have been even more lame.
Following is by no means a thorough discography of Giorgio Moroder; rather just a collection of some of the badass tracks he’s created over his career. Listening to these, it’s hard to think he was creating music that sounded like this in the late 70s when it sounds so very much like the future.
Giorgio Moroder – E=MC²
Blondie – Call Me (co-written & produced by Moroder)
Giorgio Moroder – The Chase (Vitalic Remix)
Giorgio Moroder – From Here to Eternity
Donna Summer – I Feel Love (co-written & co-produced by Moroder)
Oh, also: Clash of the Titans was laaaame. The script was meandering and the dialogue was lacklustre. While the 3D wasn’t used to any great effect, the glasses did at least hide from Atomique how many times I fell asleep.
Yesterday, I received that ring at the door. You know the one, the one that happens just a little too early on a Sunday to be any of your friends.
There, standing on my stairs, were two well-dressed gentlemen from obviously different generations. They didn’t even need to tell me way they were there, for the tell-tale selection of colours on their pamphlet gave away what they were trying to sell all too easily. What is it with Christian door-knockers and their love of yellow parchment tones and brown text on their handouts?
I had time to read the all-caps ‘JESUS’ on the pamphlet before greeting them with a “Morning gentlemen, how are things?”
They were fine, and proceeded to tell me about some Jesus event they wanted me to attend. I told them that if I had the time to sneak off anywhere, it’d be to the 2010 Global Atheist Convention in Adelaide (which was already on its last day by then). Knowing they were beat, the two gentlemen bade me good day and went on their way.
While Atomique was fairly chuffed by my handling of the situation, I so dearly wish I’d been able to mount a stronger stand. But, with a toddler at your knees, you need to choose to spend your time wisely.
Had I had it in me to open a can of worms, the response may have been drastically different…
“Look, guys – I know you’re trying to do the right thing,” I start, tone conversational and welcoming (I don’t want to scare anyone off), “but really, if you’re trying to make the world a better place, you do it by going and doing good things. You do good things for your friends, your family, your community. You figure out what good things are by examining the world and caring to improve the lives of those around you. What you don’t do is run around convincing people to follow a two-thousand year old guide book on how to get into somebody’s secret country club after you’re dead.”
They probably bail at that point, and, doubtfully, will either of them take any of what I’ve said to heart. But, still, it would’ve made me feel warm on the inside, knowing that I may have planted just the tiniest seed of change in the younger guy’s brain.
Next time, maybe.
I swear to Dawkins that this is not
a recycled picture of Orion’s brother
It’s time for another census update, as the fleet now counts one more passenger. Rocking up at 14:17 on February the 26th, Orion Amélie Haggman* clocked in at 3.75kgs, .25kgs heavier than her older brother at birth (yet she possesses a far more delicate and reasonably-so less pumpkin-sized noggin than him). Whereas I may have once rashly decreed that Tycho was quiet and inquisitive, it took him not much longer than 24 hours to reveal himself as a loutish, yelling brute, while after a week now Orion continues to spend most of her time doing not much else than feeding, sleeping or staring at her hands.
Okay, not always quiet
Many of the differences between this kid and the first are rather more environmental – not surprising, really, that an eight pound lump of flesh that can’t do anything other than cry, eat and poop isn’t all that different from another eight pound lump of flesh that can only eat, cry and poop. By environmental, I mean that having a toddler in the house makes the infant seem like a lot less work than said toddler was at this neophyte stage. Case in point, it’s taken me nearly two weeks to throw this post together (it doesn’t help that my few spare seconds these past two weeks have been whiled away in SimCity, a magical land without hungry babies or destructive toddlers).
Atomique continues to be pro at babies. When push came to shove (har har) it only took three contractions and less than fifteen minutes for the whole show to be over. At least the obstetrician was present for this one! At any rate, all went extremely well and all involved are healthy and well.
Orion, stellar edition
What’s Not in a Name: What Might Have Been
Orion is named after one of the night skies’ most easily-recognized constellations: Orion, the Hunter. It was important to squirt the kid out sooner rather than later, as Atomique has had her eye on this name for decades and it would have been bad form to take the name after NASA officially launches its next-gen space vessel of the same name. As someone very dear to us quite wisely pointed out, it’s also rather fitting that Orion is a celestial equator constellation, meaning it is visible from both hemispheres – fitting for a child of Canadian and Australian parentage.
Amélie is a far less semiotic designator – I just wanted a French name with an accent aigu in it, as I was unable to find a girl’s name in the family tree that took my fancy. Heck, if I have to have an accent in my middle name, I might as well pass that on. In the end, it was mostly Atomique’s choice, as I pissed around unable to find anything suitable and she threw names at me until something stuck. This means Atomique chose both names. What happened to Viper Pilot’s input, you ask? Well…
We had a rule for the name: it had to be something celestial. I was uneasy with Orion as it’s a masculine constellation, and the ladies at work warned me that I would have to have a mighty Amazon warrior-child for a girl with that name, the odds of which weren’t good given the lack of beefcake genes I’d be passing on. I offered the following five alternate names in an attempt to usurp Orion and each was shot down ruthlessly. Probably for the better, but here, archived for posterity, are VP’s choices:
- Polaris: also known as Alpha Ursae Minorus, our current pole star.
- Escher: 4444 Escher, a main-belt asteroid named after artist M. C. Escher.
- Callisto: One of the Galilean moons of Jupiter; third largest in the solar system. (Shortened to Cally?)
- Eris: Dwarf planet in our solar system, named after the Greek goddess of discord. Bonus points earned with any Discordians in the house.
- Dysnomia: Moon of dwarf planet Eris, named after the Greek goddess of lawlessness, who was also a daughter of Eris. (Shortened to Dizzy?)
Oh well, it doesn’t really matter in the end if it’s her mom or her dad who saddle her with a name she’ll have to correct the spelling of over the phone for the rest of her life, does it?
Booking Information & Private Viewings
As with the last model in this line, please contact your local propaganda officer to arrange a meeting with Orion. There may be delays due to the popularity of this product.
As I prepare to welcome a future space-funk warrior princess into my thermonuclear family (T-minus one day to scheduled arrival) I’m going to try and squeeze a few posts in while I can. I doubt much will happen here, though, so this means that these communiqués from the tip of our arm of the galaxy (my current posting, where I am unable to reveal what I’m doing – suffice to say it involves zero-g zombies and the Spandau Ballet reunion tour) may be far and few for the next few weeks. With tiny humans at the fore of my thoughts, I thought I might share some bits and bobs of baby related tech, tunes and domestic-grade laser weaponry.
Actually, I’m going to steal content from Atomique to talk tech. When not busy educating me about the merits of Madchester she has a side gig blogging at a baby clothing shop, where she does her best to sneak science in between the articles about mothering techniques and store sales.
Baby-related science news and nifty gadgets that Atomique is bringing to the moms of Oz:
- A study about the risks new moms take every time they get behind the wheel of a car
- Self-heating baby bottles
- Breadmaking regulations which will reduce birth defects
- The height of early 20th century baby gadgetry: a cage for hanging bub out the apartment window
Music. Baby music. Man, babies have terrible taste in music. It’s repetitive, the melodies are basic and the lyrics are insipid. Wait, am I describing every ‘dance club hit’ from the early 90s or nursery rhymes? I’m confused. Whose space suit is this?
I was tempted to spangle this post with songs with baby in the title, but that felt like I was rubbing clichés all over myself and doing sexy dances for Russian sailors. Not that I know what that feels like – unless you mean Russian space-sailors, in which case a brother’s gotta work his way home somehow, right?
I can’t really find anything interesting about baby music. Well, kind of. Here’s a nursery rhyme in an ancient dialect of French:
Un petit d’un petit
S’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu’importe un petit d’un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes.
Wait, I lied! It’s not actually French! If you read it with an outrageously bad French accent, however, it reads like Humpty Dumpty. It’s from a collection of fake archaic French songs which all sound like English nursery rhymes when read like Pepé le Peu, called Mots D’Heures: Gousses, Rames (Mother Goose’s Rhymes).
Closely related to babies are toddlers. Toddlers have way better taste in music. That’s not saying much, but I’ll listen to The Wiggles or Yo Gabba Gabba over, say, Aqua or Nickelback.
A perennial favourite of toddlers which had some bangin’ tunes was Sesame Street; even more bangin’ is a whole album of Muppet Mashups.
Finally, we come to Babies With Laser Eyes. Not every one of you may know this, but quite a lot of technology goes into the modern laser-eye equipped baby:
They’re not as uncommon as you’d expect these days. Frankly, I’m a bit concerned that some of the ‘bargain’ babies with laser eyes we now see coming out of south-east Asia don’t have the same level of safety measures in place as the traditional Swiss and Austrian models. Mark my words, it won’t be long before someone’s house burns down.
Okay, kids – I’m out of here. I’ll get all proud and post reconnaissance images of bub the second in the next few days, and then things may get very quiet. Keep fighting the good fight in my absence.