Friday, December 21, 2012

Awkward Perils of Making a Youtube Video

So I make vlogs (I never stop telling people this apparently) and I also still live at home with my family. That is normally fine because I can sit down and talk in my room with the door closed and no one can see or hear me being weird. Problem is I was making a vlog today where there's a cut away joke to me in the kitchen banging a jar of peanut butter against the kitchen counter while yelling at it then sobbing...

And my mother is aware that I HAVE a Youtube channel but she doesn't know much more than that and I don't want to explain it to her... all she knows is that this is my "job" only I don't get paid for it but I in theory am "earning" money...

Anyway, to avoid being carted away for being crazy I decided I needed to tell my family that I was going to start yelling and it was OK, it was just something I needed to do... just... don't ask questions...

Also please be quiet... I need quiet on "set"... while I bang the peanut butter.

Filming was interrupted when my brother walked into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich using the peanut butter. It was OK though as I didn't have a particular schedule to stick to. I had the rest of the day to get a shot of me hitting the kitchen table with peanut butter... This is Youtube after all, not a big Hollywood production (though now it is a life goal of mine to have a scene involving peanut butter in a high budget film just so I can recreate this one shot). He walked away muttering something about me being strange.

"THIS IS MY JOB!" I yell at him.

It was intensely awkward and I waited until my mother had gone into a different room so I could close the door on her to increase the chance that she might not hear me.

I did the shot and Wesley yelled at me to be quiet.

It was even more awkward than the time I was filming John Green's Face and had to keep running up and down the stairs right next to my mother for the sake of having more than one take... then the microphone didn't work and I had to do it all over again.

And soon I'll be filming a vlog where one of the jokes involves me yelling about how I'm on fire (while OUTSIDE). That's going to be interesting to film...

Don't mind me neighbours... I'm just... a guy walking around with a camera... yelling about his socks being on fire when they actually aren't. It'll be done in After Effects I swear.

I'm not crazy, I'm just doing this for youtube.

I want to be someone’s favourite youtuber.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a million subscribers, or hundreds, or even tens of thousands. I just want to be so utterly entertained by me that I am their favourite youtuber. Making people laugh is what makes me feel accomplished as a person. Sure, I love it when I check youtube and find someone has commented telling me I’m funny, or cute, or adorable, etc but it is the best feeling when I see someone tell me their going to subscribe then search back through my older videos commenting as they go along. That’s the best kind of subscriber: the kind who sees an online body of work and isn’t content just to look at it every now and then but takes the time to consume it all and appreciate the effort put into every video. My old videos barely get noticed until someone who has seen my recent work decides to go through my uploads.

It makes me feel appreciated that I’m not just a hit and miss entertainer with one funny video that gets all the attention, but a myriad of work that brings back a person to keep watching.

That’s the kind of subscriber I try to be. When I started watching Vlogbrothers I made it a goal of mine to watch every single video of theirs. It took 3 months to work my way back through their near 5 year history of regularly updating but I did it. I did the same with Frezned (who is ridiculously funny). Right now I’m in the process of slowly making my way back through MorganPaigeLoves who is an amazing (and slightly underrated) American vlogger. She is funny, interesting, full of enthusiasm and her joy is infectious. She’s also pretty which isn’t really important to the viewing experience but is a bonus (don’t worry, you’re pretty too Hank, John, and Tom).

All these people have thousands of subscribers (Morgan having a humble 13,228 as of me writing this compared to Frezned's 73,073 and Vlogbrothers whopping 854,974) and I never expect to reach such huge levels of popularity. (Gosh no that'd be ridiculous that that many people would find me interesting let alone FIND my youtube channel to determine whether or not I am interesting) But if I can just get a few fans and keep them consistently entertained then I have done something important with my time.

So here’s to a new year of content creating and making people laugh!

For those wondering my youtube channel is Oneupdateatatime and can be found here.

Geese are Evil

Geese are just outright dicks. They are the dicks of the bird world. Let's face it... they are cruel and heartless beasts. They're also scary.

Seriously, just look at this goose.

It looks like it has spotted prey and is about to charge at me screeching in some kind of horrifying black speech (this is a Tolkien reference not a racial thing guys. Calm down).

Now I'm not trying to say that they're evil... but basically if birds had religion then Geese would be the personification of demons (and I suppose Swans would be Angels)...

Something majorly important about geese that I don't understand is WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE TEETH!? They're not even predatory birds and yet their bills have been serrated to have little sharp teeth like things. That's freaky and I suspect it is just a thing they do to themselves by filing down their bills so they look tougher, like a bikey getting sweet tats all over his body so people know they have a high tolerance for pain and you should back away if they glare at you. If too many people get accustomed to it they'll find new ways to modify their bodies to be more fearsome... maybe embed spikes into their wings so they can attack people just by flapping at them.

The hissing is just another way to say "f*** you, we're tough and you should fear us!" There's no reason a bird needs to hiss. That's a snake's job. Geese just enjoy instilling fear.

I went to a park by a river recently and there was a gang of 8 of them. They circled me. Literally they walked over and walked around me... and stared at me... they just... watched... waiting... so close you could reach out and touch them if you were so void of any sanity and no longer wanted a hand. Being the man that I was a grabbed onto the girl I was hanging out with and told her I was scared. I also told her that if I died fighting off geese to tell people stories of how I died, and to paint me as a hero.

But eventually after getting their fill of fear (which sustains them. Fun fact: they don't need food if they have a sufficient supply of fear to fuel them, just like Black Lanterns) they went away. WE SURVIVED! WE SURVIVED 8 WHOLE GEESE!

Turns out they use them in replacement of guard dogs in England because they're vicious. THAT'S JUST HOW EVIL THEY ARE! You can replace a Doberman with a goose. That's messed up.

If you're still not convinced that geese are messed up and evil just take a look at this:

Surely this is...

...the face of something...

 ...that wants to kill you...
...and eat ALL your babies.

Lock your doors, stay away from open rivers... and if you see a goose...

... RUN!
(photo credit goes to me. I nearly lost an arm getting you this)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Sister's Doctor Who Wedding

My sister got married on Saturday! Woo! Congratulations to her and her wonderful husband Lyndon. They're very happy together and I wish them much more happiness in the future.

It all started months ago when I received this invitations inspired by The Impossible Astronaut, the first episode of the 6th season of Doctor Who:

Doctor Who wedding invitations! TARDIS blue envelops and inside there is a time, date, and GPS co-ordinates (blurred here so you can't go back in time and stalk the wedding). That was the beginning of the nerdiness.

The last time I was at a wedding I was... 5 probably, so didn't really remember what was involved. Turns out weddings are way shorter than expected. The face on Lyndon when Isobel walked down the isle was amazing. He looked stunned, amazed, like he could barely contain his happiness. When she stood in front of him it was like the rest of the room wasn't there and it was beautiful to see his big dopey smile. Gosh it was wonderful.

Then... reception time! Now I was the one who drove the bridesmaids to our local church with my car, but then it all shifted around and I was driving the newly weds in Lyndon's car. The thing is, Lyndon's car is an automatic which is... weird. And I'm not really used to them what with having a real license for a real car (real cars have clutches and I don't care if you say I'm body shaming cars). I'd only driven it once and ended up making a vlog about how Automatic Cars are for Lazy People.

Basically I wasn't really sure how to work the thing very well and after a little bit of figuring out what to do next I reversed. Facing the exit of the carpark I rolled down the window and yelled "I'VE NEVER DRIVEN AN AUTOMATIC BEFORE!" to the concerned faces that watched on as I drove off with the married couple.

"I sure hope you know where we're going because I don't..." I inform them (quite truthfully).

Don't worry we survived. In one piece too. Though they did start discussing how they could now have sex in the back of the car... That sentence sounds ambiguous. "Do you mean they were discussing, while sitting in the back of the car, how they could have sex now that they were married? Or do you mean they were discussing having sex in the back of the car while you were driving?"

The answer is yes to both.


The reception was nice. The tables were all named different Doctor Who monsters (I believe I was on Nimon) like Dalek, Rutan, Sontaran, Cybermen etc... and Cardassian (to see who was nerdy enough to catch that it was a Star Trek reference instead of a Doctor Who one, but not everyone would recognise old school references like Rutan and probably assumed it was yet another thing from the 70s).

Then this happened:

These little Daleks were remote controlled and made their way to the dance floor in advance of the newly weds entering the reception. It was awesome.

Dad made a speech about how we have a bookcase of sci-fi at home and how when she heard that my sister had found someone who was into sci-fi they knew he'd fit in just fine with our family and he does. He's awesome. I approve whole heartedly of Lyndon, who has so many books that he has shelves attached to his walls where he can't put bookcases and still that isn't enough. Now I can say "come at me bro" at him and try and challenge him, despite the fact that he's taller than I am.

There, of course, was Gangnam Style played at the wedding because the playlist was not entirely programmed by the Bride and Groom but the DJ as well (so there were a few things that Isobel said "I would definitely not have picked this..." to). More appropriately in character was a Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit mash up with Rick Astley's Never Going to Give You Up.

Yes. They rickrolled their own wedding.

Then as the reception came to a close the guests made a tunnel by making archways with their arms by finding a partner. The married couple walked through it as the Red Dwarf theme played and it was awesome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remember When I was Funny?

This blog used to be considered humorous. It also used to be my main form of online expression but then I moved onto Tumblr and the majority of my time was taken up by that. It was simpler, I devoted more time to quick short text posts that were lost quickly down dashboards and became like diary updates because the format seemed to encourage that. Anything funny I decided to write there whereas this space was redefined for less of a diary blog and more of an opinion blog where I reserved updates for increasingly political and opinionated entries. Now if I have something I believe to be a funny monologue I upload it to my youtube channel. So what really is this blog left around for?

I've been thinking a lot about what I write online and how often. On one hand I sporadically ignore this blog whereas I heavily favour Tumblr to the detriment of the rest of my life. I've been thinking about how I choose to represent myself online and the person I want to be, though that last sentence implies I really should be thinking about addiction...

I'm not one for new years resolutions. They're a stupid idea. If you have something you need to improve upon you shouldn't wait until a new year starts to do it. Maybe that's why they fail... because people don't care enough to start them when they come up with them.

Well if I had one it should be this: find a use for this blog again. No regular updating because schedules stifle creativity. I inherently post longer posts than on Tumblr so it'll be interesting to get back into a longer form of written expression. Maybe I'll be funny again instead of posting political rants that have been done to death everywhere else online.

And I'd like to get off Tumblr more often. That may seem like I'm trading one drain of my time for another but Tumblr is fleeting and a post disappears into the ether in under a day whereas posts here still get traffic years onwards and so I should think more about what I put into it, why it should be interesting, and how it represents me.

So I'm going to write things that show off my sense of humour more. Hopefully. We'll see. Or I'll just make a temporary attempt to use this blog more often and write lengthy journal entry styled things. We'll see.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Singing Boy on the Train

While travelling on the train recently I was sitting only a few seats away from someone who was obviously quite mentally handicapped. They were being taken into the city by what looked like their mother, maybe to go shopping or eat, I don’t know. They had their phone out and were playing music through the speakers instead of earphones and normally that’d be an annoying thing to do but they were singing along with it. They weren’t being some obnoxious rebellious teenager who liked to crank their music to the ear damaging points on their earphones so the whole carriage could hear, they weren’t being deliberately disruptive, they just played music that was audible and sung along. They were just having fun.

Instead of getting annoyed at this guy for singing along shamelessly and off key to music I personally think is terrible, like Justin Bieber, I found it heart warming. He was so uninhibited and openly engaging in something that made him happy without worrying about how an entire carriage worth of train passengers were obviously judging him. I wasn’t laughing at him but with him.

As I looked around I could see the divide in the opinions of the train passengers. There were those who glared and tried their best to ignore him and thought of him as nothing but an annoyance, or a distraction that should go away. Then there were those who mirrored his happiness and took joy from seeing someone so unashamedly gleeful. People bobbed their heads in time with the singing.

It’s interesting to see how when presented with a situation outside of the norm where someone who isn’t “normal” doing something “weird” people react. It says a lot about their attitudes towards life. I personally think the guy was cool. He was not shackled down by what other people think of feel about him and that is a brilliant example of how to live life. Sure, I never want to be some random singing on a train to Justin Bieber, but I admire his carefree attitude.

But maybe we should sing on trains. Not necessarily literally, though a group karaoke session on the 5pm train ride home would make the whole experience a lot more fun and help us feel a sense of community and togetherness instead of being rigid individuals placed near, but distinctly apart, from our fellow humans. If something out there makes you happy and isn’t there to hurt other people but you worry that complete strangers might judge you then  maybe that’s cause enough to do it. Because maybe people will enjoy it in a good way.

That’s how I want to live.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Art Gallery Adventures

I went to the Art Gallery a while ago with a friend. I didn't plan to, in fact I didn't plan on spending more than a few minutes with them in the city because I was giving them back their external harddrive. But as we sat talking I looked at the Art Gallery and was moved by a sudden burst of impromptu need to relive childhood memories I could no longer grasp clearly in my head. We embarked on what could potentially be a nostalgic adventure armed with 3 years of Arts Major learning and a mindset moulded to fit.

I expected to walk in and see something artsy-fartsy and start raving about "the elegant simplicity in the brush strokes" and finding deep and meaningful symbolism that just wasn't there in a self-mocking parody of Arts Major discourse. Instead I discovered a few things: some abstract art is really cool. Some abstract art is so bad it infuriates me. And art galleries make you feel like you're in a library for upperclass people.

Seriously. You walk in and there is a shift in volume like someone has grabbed the knob and turned it way down. There were no signs that said "quiet", there was no previous set of rules or a social guideline that told me I was obliged to be quiet (and how would I know if there was anyway? I don't visit these sorts of places), there was no people watching me to shhh me if I spoke too loudly. There was just this sudden unconscious need to emulate the quietness of the building and whisper my praise or criticisms near my friend so they could hear.

Some abstract art is really cool. There was one piece that was a "self portrait" but there was no person in it. Instead it was of a cello. Well, I have met some talented cellos in my time but none that could wield a paintbrush with that skill. That was really fascinating that the artist had taken the idea of a "self portrait" to be shown in a different way. Instead of representing the physical aspects of who they were they emphasised the ideas, interests, and thoughts that make that person who they are. In this case they were a fan of playing the cello (other things were painted around and behind it but I can't remember what they were).

Some abstract art is awful.

Ralph Balson infuriates me. His artwork is just awful. It is a bunch of squares and circles with bland colours painted onto canvas. They're not even very good squares and circles. They're not well done enough to look good, but the edges aren't rough or curved enough to be deliberately or aesthetically interesting. It was literally the worst thing I'd seen in the art gallery. I was offended by how stupid it was. It was so distinctly bad that I saw another painting by his and didn't even read the name to know it was his.

Now I don't want you to think I hate abstract expressionism. It is not awful in of itself, but Ralph Balson is basically the kind of artist that makes people look at modern art and think "That's stupid, even I could do better than that" and they might be right. Which is really sad.

For example:

Right next to one was something that looked like it had required equal effort, but was far better. It looked like you could see a fish in its jumbled mess of colours and lines, or maybe a flower. That had meaning. That had aesthetic beauty. That was at least painted properly.

So in a video I will be making soon I decided one of the jokes could involve abstract art. Not a cruel one I assure you. So I sat down and I made some bad art with some paint my Dad had kept since he was in Year 8 (he's nearly 50 now) and painted random things. Didn't even go in with a plan for most. And I showed them to people and they liked them.

"No no!" I cried "You're meant to hate it! It's awful! I didn't even try!"

"But I really like them. They look cool."

I got told they could see my art being hung in an art gallery which saddened me.  It had literally taken me 5 minutes of effort tops on some of those paintings and people thought they were good. Only my brother told me they were awful and stupid but he doesn't care about anything.

So what if Ralph Balson was me? What if someone out there is like me only they're taking the joke too far? What if the world of Abstract Expressionism is just people out there making fun of themselves by painting random stuff and calling it "art" and laughing as it sells then going home and shaking their head in disbelief? What if people don't actually care and it really is just all a joke?

"I honestly thought if I tried doing this I'd die poor..." they say to themselves. "I mean, who even BUYS art these days?"

That'd be horrifying.

Let's all be abstract painters and never have to do a proper days work in our lives. Though admittedly most of us will die from starvation if we try but I'm sure some of us will make it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

American Politics is Melodrama

I really cannot comprehend the level of melodrama and exaggeration when it comes to how people treat politics in America. It baffles me. Everything is the freaking end of the world if your preferred candidate loses. I cannot react properly to things because it is just so absurd that it's funny, but people are so emotionally invested in their political beliefs (however misguided they are) that it should be sad, or at least horrifying.

Take for example the recent re-election of Barrack Obama. A massive victory against the odds. Not many presidents manage a 2nd term, especially not during a time of poor unemployment (which is improving I might add). Conservatives reacted by taking to social media to cry and moan.

Tyranny and darkness. It's almost as if Obama is a dictator and democracy is dead! What?

Now surely that's just one person overreacting...
I saw tons of people a while ago say on a social media site that they'd move to Canada if Obama gets re-elected (because Canada is notorious for not having any socialist welfare systems like healthcare). This got picked up by Tumblr and got turned into a joke. If I hadn't seen those people complain beforehand I would not have known that it was meant to be based off a serious idea because the way people react to Obama is ridiculous. I have lost the ability to distinguish between a conservative rant and an internet troll. Seriously. If you were to believe what Fox News has convinced people to believe then Obama is a socialist communist dictator liberal Muslim who isn't even an American citizen. (I KNOW people who say this sort of thing which is really sad). Now surely there is a system is place to stop illegal immigrants from running for office... if I was an illegal immigrant I wouldn't put myself in a position where I am CONSTANTLY under INTERNATIONAL scrutiny 24/7 in case anyone bothered to ask me for a birth certificate (which has been available online since 2008. Seriously people it is a non-issue to the point of absurdity to even question the validity of his citizenship).

It is so blatantly obvious that Obama is not a Muslim (he eats pork, consumes alcohol, doesn't pray, adhere to other tenants of Muslim faith, is a Christian, doesn't fast on Ramadan, is a Christian, and isn't a Muslim) and even if he was it would be a non-issue because there is a thing called Separation of Church and State.

Obama isn't going to tear apart your country, America. There is no massive downfall of society just because you have a President with different ideas to you.

This, by the way, is one of my favourite overreactions:

(For those who don't know: Australia doesn't have a president we have a Prime Minister, who is a woman, and is an Atheist who lives in sin with her partner. Fun fact: Australia has not descended into hellfire, we have not had our liberties torn from us, our country is not in ruins, and basically the only issue is her policy ideas don't please everyone).

Look up on Twitter and you will find a string of these tweets about how if Obama won they'd move to Australia or Canada... It baffles me. Do they not know anything about Australia? We don't have really conservative political parties for them to be comforted by. We have centre-right and centre-left parties and guess which one is the Liberal one...

Can someone tell me what liberties are being destroyed by Obama? What great atrocities are being committed? Last I checked her was a supporter of Gay Rights and if I'm not mistaken giving gay people rights ADDS to the overrall social liberties of the country, helps create a sense of unity, and allows its citizens to feel included instead of divided. You can't just throw around the word "freedom" as a buzz word to back up whatever you say. It doesn't work that way. I hear it ALL the time. "Our Freedoms are at stake!" What Freedoms? I never heard what freedoms. I have never heard a coherent argument as to why electing a Democrat = the end of the world... I understand why electing a Republican can destroy freedoms though: Mitt Romney opposes same sex marriage and civil unions. Already I instantly see a major way that Republicans have singled out a specific group of people and placed them as lower class citizens. Obama on the other hand is mixed race and had to work his way up in the world from humble beginnings. He understands the middle class plight. He has a tangible connection to different ethnic groups. I truly believe he cares about all kinds of people regardless of their sex, race, or orientation.

It really concerns me how some people (White people) in America react like an election is a disaster. It's... 4 years... of a guy who sincerely honestly wants to help his country. Ok, so you disagree with the method he wants to employ to do it (that is, Fox News will try their best to demonize him for everything he does, even if it has been supported by a Republican candidate because it's a good idea until the OPPOSITION has it - then it will DESTROY AMERICA AND TEAR FAMILIES APART!) but he is not a monster.

America will survive Obama... it will not only survive, but it will most likely thrive. There is no destruction of social values, there is no end of days... there is no need to mourn the loss of a once great country, and most importantly it is time to remember that America is a democracy.

More than %50 of people voted for Obama.

Therefore this isn't a disaster for the country, it is what the majority of the country wants. Conservatives are just so narrow minded that they can't understand any difference in opinion. If something goes wrong you need to yell and complain about it until someone consoles you like the blabbering child you are or tells you to shut up and takes away your internet connection. Speaking of blabbering children, here's Donald Trump's twitter:

Look. Just admit that you have difficulty winning an election through anything other than scare tactics, fear mongering, and trying to coax out the inner racist of some of the population (hopefully not a large amount of people, but every person you can convince is important when your party isn't very popular amongst Hispanics, Jews, and Women).

And here, to conclude, is my favourite overreaction to a lost election ever from the cincinnati tea party website:
It's so melodramatic I expect the webdesigner immediately placed the back of their hand against their forehead and fainted as they wailed "WOE! WOE! I WEEP FOR THE DEATH OF THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!"

Dear conservatives:

Suck it up and shut up. It's 4 years and then you get a new President. It might even be one you voted for if the rest of your country is stupid it enough to agree.

Sincerely, everyone else.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to get Lots of Views/Traffic on your Video/Website

Have you ever wondered "how do I get lots of views on my youtube channel?" or "how do I get more hits on my channel?" Well after having had multiple youtube channels and blogs over the years and with the help of Google statistics and keyword optimisers I've discovered a few things about getting easy traffic to a website or video:

Tag it with keywords that everyone searches for... like porn... or Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber sex tape XXX might even get more views. Or something animal related.

I have a video on my youtube channel where I talk about Fanny Hill and 50 Shades of Grey (two pornographic books) and I aptly call it Book Porn. (Found: Here) That gets lots of traffic because it has porn in the title, but it doesn't have many people who watch it for more than a few seconds into it because they realise it isn't porn. Why are you looking up porn on youtube? Are you 14 years old? Porn gets taken down pretty quickly and to find it you'd probably have to search through the millions of videos trying to get easy hits by tagging themselves accordingly.

And don't just scoff at the Justin Bieber thing. I occasionally use a keyword optimiser tool to try and see what I should tag my videos on youtube. Turns out the popular ideas are irrelevant to my video and I never use them but the recurring thing I noticed was regardless of the search criteria one of the most popular results was Justin Bieber (in the millions. Wow, Bieber Fever sure does cause a lot of internet traffic). It was weird because I was searching things like "drunk" and Justin Bieber would be massively popular. Now I'm not sure how those two keywords combine, nor do I want to find out the demographic who is googling that on Youtube whatever...

I find that my blog posts that have nothing to do with porn, as long as they contain that word ONCE in passing, get more traffic. If you ever get to look at what people are Googling to arrive somewhere you'll find that it is sometime the strangest things. My favourites include "whoa dude", (who Googles that?) "bilby harry potter", (how are they related?) "why is porn so homoerotic" (YES! IT SO IS), "pokemon from hell", "networking porn" (how does that work?) and my favourite... my absolute favourite search result which not only makes no sense as a thing someone would google, but confounds and confuses me as to how it directed to my blog as I tried googling it and didn't get me my blog, is...

+save her life +she performs fellatio

...WHAT? That... save her life because she sucks dick? Why the hell are you googling that and what kind of strange situation does this pose where a woman's ability to put a dick in her mouth is the most valid reason why she shouldn't be killed/left to die? That...

So really the lesson here is to just write things in your blog, add in Justin Bieber/Porn/cute kittens/otters somewhere in there and watch the traffic role in from very confused people wondering how they got there and why they should stay...

A Relaxing Night at the Beach

A few nights ago I was stressed so I went down the beach. It was night and so there were barely any people. I thought it'd be a bit odd to see others walking around along the beach like an ordinary day but they were, just no one was swimming. Faintly lit by the glow of the surf life-savers building I sat down in the sand and looked out at the dark ocean. The only thing I could see were the small waves as they broke against the shoreline and retreated into the black that had flashes of lights from what could have been a boat. Above me the clouds parted and the stars shone done brighter than they do when surrounded by the street lights of suburbia. I tried to find orion's belt and couldn't find it until I realised I was looking at the stars the wrong way and suddenly it all made sense.

There was a beautiful sense of serenity and isolation. I was alone with my thoughts and even though people were walking past occasionally they would quickly disappear in the darkness that stretched off into the distance in both directions. There were no distractions of the internet, no funny cat videos that stop me from doing work, no traffic, just the sounds of the waves coming in and out... Alone with the sounds of the surf and my breathing. I lied down between the clumps of seaweed and talked to a friend on the phone about the stars, lasagne, puns, and other such relevant things...

It was relaxing. The stress melted away and I was calm again. My problems no longer seemed insurmountable and torturous. This is how I want to relax in the future. Once I have finished this semester I will have a day of pure relaxation... I'll watch the sun set and then lie on the beach watching the stars until it is late and I am falling asleep. Maybe I'll even walk there... I live close to the beach because I used to go a lot, but now that I can see the ocean from my window I never go there... perhaps I should change that...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Quest to Change my Desktop Background...

So turns out Windows 7 Starter (which comes on my tiny little Eee ASUS PC) doesn't come with the ability to change the desktop. I found this out the 2nd day of my quest to change the desktop background....

It took a lot of searching through the settings, trying to discover what I could or could not do... searching through the control panel, googling how to do it (which led me to a youtube tutorial for a DIFFERENT model that had more options than mine), searching for system settings, and discovering that I could change the desktop background from generic to "nothing" by clicking the "remove desktop background image" button somewhere deep in the settings...


It consumed me. I needed to know. I was in class half paying attention because I kept trying to find a way. I NEEDED TO KNOW.

Then I discovered that you needed to download a whole program specifically designed just for changing desktop backgrounds... so I did. I found it, and after going through the different download links that led to pages with MORE download links, I found the right program and installed it...

Success! After 2 days of searching and Googling I can finally rest knowing that I have successfully changed my desktop background to THIS:

(For those wondering it is of Meekakitty from this video)
(For those wondering where I got the program I used the Personalisation Panel program found: here)

Blogging has Replaced the Diary

Blogging is strange. See, blogging has replaced the culture of a hidden diary. Who out there still has a diary that they keep hidden in a draw to write in from day to day? As the internet becomes more commonplace, physical forms of recorded communication are being replaced. One day there will be no handwritten documents to discover under a bed for an editor to turn into the next diary of Anne Frank. There will only be archives. The archives of different sites copied and pasted into an order based off time codes to show the progression of a person’s life.

People like diaries. Diaries are a way to vent, to express emotion, to communicate. Communicating important events and expressing emotions helps a person psychologically. It is good for us and so a diary is a way of helping the self communicate, sometimes in place of actual human contact. Even if you’ve never kept a written diary you’ve had conversations that serve the same function as a diary.

So in place of a diary we have blogs these days. I like blogging; I’ve been blogging for years. I move from one blogging site to the next, updating them constantly if I can (sorry I have neglected my blogspot, but I will try to write more here). It has got to the point where I’m really comfortable being personal online where a bunch of strangers can see it. This poses a problem because it is blurring the lines between what is personal and what is impersonal... where is the distinction between what I can share to everyone, or what I should take to with only my friends or closest friends? At what point does a post become so personal on Tumblr that I should put a “read more” break so people don’t read it unless they genuinely care? The last year of my life has been a really interesting one, but also not very well documented on here unlike previous years.
I got drunk for the 2nd time this year. There were heartbreaks and joys. There were sleepless nights. There were moments of self doubt. There were stressful weeks where I wished to shut out everything and sleep. There have definitely been times where I needed to reach out to a person and whinge or vent and my blog tempted me with its impersonal audience of strangers... over 400 people on one site... 100 on another... post it here and write a few choice phrases and people will find it on Google looking for answers to their history homework questions (it is weird seeing how google traffic works). I have been known to write long blog posts and boy could I write a doozy of a post on my recent thoughts about who I’d like to be as a person but perhaps that’s not for you...

Do you ever stop to think about how you’re getting attached to your blog? Do you ever stop to think about how much of yourself is divulged?

Perhaps you’re sharing too much... I think we’re starting to live in a culture of sharing. The personal diary has been replaced by an online blog that is theoretically capable of being accessed by billions of people and Facebook allows us to tell hundreds of our “friends” where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re doing every moment of the day or night, and wi-fi and smart phones are ubiquitous.

Me sharing too much isn’t really a problem on this blog... but I’m going to make sure it isn’t on others.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blogging Has Ruined Me.

I was out clubbing last night (for the first time too. So what if I'm 20? Northbridge is a scary place) and it was interesting. It got more fun as the night went on. I loosened up, got more alcohol in me, was in a bigger group of friends than I was when the night started etc.

All the while I was thinking about what moments of the experience I wanted to blog about... Blogging has consumed my life. The problem is this: I spend a lot of time online. A lot. My tumblr page has over 28,000 posts (mainly reblogging, but a bunch of text written by me as well) which grows every day. That's incredible considering it's only been around since November 2010. That's an average of over 1700 posts a month, or nearly 60 a day. This blog itself has an archive the size of two novels and it doesn't even get updated every month any more. If I find a blogging service that is suitable for me then I will use it constantly. A person can learn a lot about my life if they read multiple blogging sites I use.

But this has taken away the in-the-moment-ness of the moment. I become concerned with how I'd document it that how I am currently experiencing it. Something interesting happened and I thought it'd be good to blog about, then I started imagining what I'd write. At that point my thoughts became examples of things I could think, not what I would've thought. For example: I thought about blogging about wondering how many drinks it'd take for that guy over there to turn gay (there were lots more but that is the most memorable for obvious reasons). I hadn't been thinking that until I thought it'd be a good thing to mention in a blog.

The internet has stopped being just a way of documenting experience, but shapes and changes how I interact with an experience. That is... weird...

I should go outside more often.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Importance of Arbitrary Age Restrictions

Have you ever looked at a bottle of alcohol and thought to yourself "does it really matter that I'm a few days belong the legal drinking limit?" Many people do. After all, it's just a few days. You won't be any more developed to handle that alcohol in a few more days, you won't be any more responsible, you won't have changed at all. There is virtually no difference between you at age 17 years and 362 days and 18 years (or 20 years and 362 days and 21 if you live in America or any other place with a high drinking age).

So why not just break the law? Well... if you start thinking of it as "I'm only a few days younger... what's the difference?" then what's the difference between those few days and an extra few days? 360 is barely different from 362! But well 360 isn't so bad, so why not just 358? 354? 350? A week or two won't make any difference. Like a morbidly obese people who gives in to temptation to take that one cupcake out of a dozen, you're quickly on a slippery slope to having eaten all of them.

The truth is that this cut off of 18 (or 21) for drinking is arbitrary. What makes an 18 year old the best age for becoming an adult and doing things? I was 18 once. There was a party and then I got up the next day and did the same thing I did every day. I certainly feel like an adult and that seems to be a common thing for people. I'm 20 and still telling myself "you're an adult now, be responsible." But we all look at the age 18 for being an adult (let's move away from drinking because I don't want to keep saying (and 21), besides, this applies to other activities like sex or voting) and go "yeah, that's a good age. That age makes sense." Why though? 18 is still a teenager and teenagers are irresponsible idiots. Even the smart ones. If you don't think this is true, you're still a teenager. Just wait until you grow up and you'll look at teenagers and go "...surely I wasn't like that." No. No you were and you have to live with that.

We like the age 18 become we grew up as a culture with that number. Other cultures have different numbers and to us that seems strange, but the situation is the same from their side We're conditioned to believe that this is what adulthood is. Adulthood can be something completely different. It doesn't even need to be a number, it could be a thing earned after a specific task to prove you can be more than just a child.

Though the number itself is arbitrary it is not pointless. Alcohol is poison that damages the body and if you give it to someone young it can have a negative effect on their development. Of course being 18 doesn't mean alcohol is fine for you and you won't have any bad side effects, but your liver will be better developed for dealing with that alcohol. But surely a 21 year old would be better at handling alcohol? Surely a 22 year old... surely a 23 year old...

The same problem in reverse. But every body is different so what applies to one person at age 18 won't be the same for someone else.

Now we have this arbitrary number. Can we change it? No. Unlikely. Imagine being the age group that the age gets changed on... You're approaching your 18th, you're excited, you're finally going to be an adult with all the cool things adulthood brings (this individual is pretty naive) and then... Adulthood is now 19. Your friend, who is one year older than you, is now an adult for 2 years before you get to be one. People would get mad. People wouldn't understand why it changed because 18 was a fine number for them. It's always been 18! Even though the line is arbitrary and if you were to change it slightly it wouldn't matter... so why not do that?

You see, the line doesn't need to be perfectly justified and the best possible option, because that's ridiculous to try and get, varies, and is subject to debate. The line just needs to exist. We need a cut off age and stick to it otherwise you're just stretching at it further and further thinking "well it's not that much different..." until it's just ridiculous.

So just deal with it really. Waiting a few days won't kill you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zombies are the Ultimate Horror Movie Creature

Zombies are the greatest horror movie creation I can think of. Sure, you could probably think of something creepy that lies in the dark and eats children from a movie I haven't seen, and Zombies seem to commonplace as to appear mediocre, but when you get the core of what Zombies are then they are actually an incredibly intelligent creation designed to hit where it hurts most.

Humans are social creatures. Sure, some of us are heavily introverted, but we still rely on the existence of those social structures around us to survive. We live in a world filled with complicated social hierarchies and a massive amount of the world population lives in densely packed Urban and Suburban areas. Once you disrupt the chain of production by introducing a Zombie infection you make these areas incapable of supporting that massive population. Instead of giving you a head of lettuce to eat, the Greengrocer now tries to eat your head. Suddenly people are in places where food is in limited supply and not only is everyone around them in competition for those supplies, everyone is also capable of becoming one of the infected. Zombiepocalypses turn us against each other in multiple ways.

When I was watching 28 Weeks Later the main blonde teenager (or whatever age she was) looked remarkably like one of my friends. Normally you'd think "Oh, blonde teenager in a horror movie, she's going to die quickly" but it was like watching a friend try and survive the inevitable destruction of society and onslaught of the hordes of infected.

With aliens you can band together and fight against hordes. Zombies take who we are and they use it against us. Social bonds are now the enemy. It is inevitable that one of your friends will become an infected and they might just come for you. Your family can fall into the hands of the infected just as easily as anyone else and now you're faced with the walking corpses of people you knew and loved. Try putting a bullet in your mother's head. Try going on when your Dad is eating your best friend. Zombies don't allow you to mourn your loved ones, they force you to confront them. While you're trying to get over the death that's happening all around you, you're trying to escape to somewhere else, uncertain about what will lie ahead. It isn't just physical danger but a deep and ever present psychological aspect to them.

They represent death. Being a Vampire isn't too bad, you still get to think. But being a Zombie takes away everything that is you and replaces it with a hollow yearning to feed on other humans. There is no longer individuality or reasoning. There is no creativity, or enjoyment, or empathy. There is only the stench of death. Zombies are so frightening because they are us.

Zombies can't be reasoned with. Zombies can't be romanticized like Vampires (ugh). Zombies don't get to be misunderstood souls that brood because of their uncontrollable curse like Werewolves. Zombies are just death. Death that walks. Death that never sleeps. Death that hunts you and makes you one of them. It adds to the horde.

You see Vampires and Werewolves also bite you and make you into one of them, but they don't create massive hordes. They stalk their prey and kill them for the sake of survival, like any normal predator. They maintain balance between their numbers and food sources. Zombies on the other hand don't act like a normal predator. They feed and multiple until there is no food. They're like viruses with teeth. They might not be as indestructible as Vampires or Werewolves, but they make their attacks insurmountable through sheer numbers which just weighs down on a survivor's psyche. Zombies are also, usually, the animated dead. The prey of a Werewolf doesn't get back up, a Zombie's does. There's no warding them off with a cross, you either destroy their brains or they keep coming. They are truly the one of the most terrifying end of the world scenarios ever.

Oh, and Zombies have the potential to be real. Not in the classic necromancy styled zombies, but maybe a virus like the 28 Days Later Zombies. Or... drawing inspiration from recent real life events in Miami, Florida where a man ate a homeless dude's face off while on drugs, and other places as far as Texas, and New York, there could be Drug Zombies. Ordinary people turned into raging killing machines that can't feel pain and attack loved ones. I predict that in the next few years we are going to start seeing Zombie films that deal with drugs as the source of the Zombie behaviour instead of virus or necromancy. It makes sense, it keeps happening in real life. Just take a look at this 2012 Zombie Attack Tracker on Google Maps. All it takes is one mad man to put that Designer Drug "Bath Salts" in the water supply and bam.

Death that hunts. Death that runs...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heterosexual Porn is Gay.

Porn containing at least one many is kinda gay. Porn is so gay and here is why:

Porn is pleasure gained from viewing other men gain pleasure. Simple as that.

What kind of men do we see in porn? Well, creepy, but they are fit. Sure, there is a niche of fat and unattractive men in porn out there but then again there's a bunch of unattractive women too, and if you look hard enough you can find anything in porn you wanted to. It's called Rule 34. That's besides the point. Porn advertises itself with Babe sucks BIG COCKS! She likes GIANT DICK! Quite simply, men do not enjoy seeing unattractive men in their porn. Abs should be hard and the men should have a large penis. Porn stars are all hot guys who work out in gyms and don't have manhoods less than 7 inches long.

A staple of pornography is the blowjob. At some point in time in nearly every porn video that isn't showcasing a specific act, there is a blowjob or two. What do you see during this? A close up of the woman as she performs fellatio. The framing cuts off anything below her neck and only leaves her face and the man's dick. Only one of these things is erotic. There's nothing left of the woman to masturbate to. So what are men jerking off to? They're jerking off to a close up of another man's penis is what they're doing. The man moans, "mmm, yeah babe, suck that cock" he says to inform you that he is enjoying himself and that only urges the viewer on further. Pleasure through watching other men being pleasured.

What happens next? He blows his load all over her face. How on earth is anyone meant to enjoy watching that? Is the objective to climax at the same time? Does it somehow arouse? Somehow a large amount of porn contains a scene that allows the viewer to see another man's semen all over the place. Creampies, bukake, all that sort of ejaculation type things are about masturbating to another guy's semen. That's not even homoerotic subtext, that's just homoerotic getting off to a man's fluids instead of focusing on the woman's breasts.

This is just one guy and a girl. Group sex where the ratio of men to women is more than 1:1 is even more gay. Getting excited over the idea of watching a gang bang is getting excited over seeing a bunch of naked men. Before it was a guy and a girl and you could pretend you're imagining you're him (sure you are, because you love masturbating to your own semen. Convince yourself all you want but in the end you're still masturbating to a close up of someone's dick) but with an extra guy you can't inhabit this fantasy that you are the participant. You are forced to be a sharer of a woman and to ignore the addition of more than one dick in the room mere feet from you, sharing the same orifices. If the idea of multiple naked men in one area getting off together wasn't titillating to a porn audience then it would be scarcer but it's not. There is a bunch of group porn out there so a large amount of guys enjoy watching multiple guys get it out at the same time.

Bukake is just the gayest thing ever besides actual gay sex. See above reason about cumming on people's faces and then jerking to it.

Then there's the infamous ball shot. A guy is taking a girl, maybe from behind, or she's lying down, it doesn't matter as long as he's standing/crouching. The camera goes from behind his buttocks and looks up in between his legs. What is "supposedly" meant to be a close up of a woman's vagina as it gets pounded is actually a close up of a man's scrotum. Her vagina is obscured by his genitals, her buttocks aren't properly in frame but half of his, and maybe even his butt hole, is still in shot. Then there's the awful sound that accompanies it: slap, slap, slap, as his balls flop around. Once again the generic camera angles that are in tons of pornographic videos is all about obscuring, covering up, or ignoring the erotic parts of the woman and focusing on the man's junk and people get off to that. Someone out there actually thought that up as a great addition to heterosexual porn and then everyone copied it. Porn is an industry that tries to meet a demand therefore the consumers of porn must demonstrate in some capacity an enjoyment for this sort of shot. What can we conclude from this?

Men get off to other men's balls in their face.

Porn objectifies women but it also manages to turn them into phallic images. I can't show you any images to show you what I mean because of copyright reasons/I am not going to host pornographic images on this blog regardless of copyright or not. If you so wish, Google Doggy Style POV to see what I mean. A woman's head is down, her arms are folded beneath her to support her, and so all we see from the man's POV is her buttocks and her back. Can you guess what that resembles? That's right, she is now a giant penis. Admittedly this is not as common as the other things mentioned, but still.

How to avoid this homoerotic subtext/text? Well Lesbian porn is technically "gay" porn but let's ignore that. It is a very popular form of pornography for the straight male to consume. It also frequently contains sex toys like vibrators and strap on dildos which serve to force phallic imagery and a sense of male dominance into the sexual act. A woman with a strap on is now taking on the role of a man and men enjoy masturbating to her pretending to have an erection. Not always, but it's there.

The solution is to watch porn that contains solely women and no phallic imagery. Stripteases, webcams, girl on girl action where they engage in oral sex, these are dick free. Watch those.

Or rethink your life a bit and give in... go on... watch gay porn. It's not like you've ever seen a guy's dick be sucked off before and enjoyed it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New Youtube Channel

It's called OneUpdateAtATime (it doesn't have uppercase letters but it's easier to see which words are what when I type it like that. I get paranoid I'm typing it wrong each time). Well I'm still working on it months after I created it so that's a good sign as I usually get bored with projects that involve regular updating and forget about them quickly. You should subscribe, or at least look at it.

My new youtube channel is for vlogs instead of short films because I have long since moved away from skit comedy and started on serious short films for my University studies. As I reach the end of my degree I want my upcoming short film to be for film festivals instead of youtube where it won't even get 100 views. Inspired by professional vloggers John and Hank Green, I decided to start up my online content generation again. My interest in youtube somewhat declined a few years back but I'm back into it and have started watching such famous youtubers as Alex Day aka Nerimon, Tom McLean aka Frezned and of course Charlie McDonnell, aka Charlieissocoollike which are all very interesting and have different styles so I suggest you check them out if you haven't already. But no really, why haven't you checked out Nerimon and Charlieissocoollike already? I have an excuse, because I didn't go on youtube in my spare time...

Yes. Currently very few people watch my videos on youtube but I don't mind (I'd enjoy if there were more, but it's not my main motivation really. People should enjoy doing something, not do it because they expect lots of attention. I'm never going to get half a million subscribers and I don't really care). One day one of my videos will get past 100. It's different from my old channel where I have videos with 10's of thousands of views, one over 123,000. It's a new beginning where I have to make my way back up to being noticed and getting comments every week saying "fake" as if that means anything.

I called it oneupdateatatime in reference to this blog post no one has ever read which is all about how online content whether it's text, video, any form of update is a form of autobiography. We're all creating online autobiographies as things happen and if the servers survive decades in the future and all the data is still there we can look back on it and see how our lives developed and changed. So yeah, I am making a video blog channel and it is going to document the more interesting parts of my life. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

An Interview With Steve Roggenbuck

Some of you may remember that I helped Steve Roggenbuck distribute his poems back in 2010. He's gone and done a few things ever since i am like october when i am dead, including download helvetica for free and recently self-published a book of poems called Crunk Juice. It's a combination of absurd humour and unusual poems with varying formats and deliberate misspellings littered throughout. I've read through it multiple times and it is one of the most interesting collections of poems I've read. Here is an interview with the man himself about Crunk Juice and his work in general:

Q:Your videos online are very unusual and often random. Do you script them or do you just pick up a camera and say whatever comes to mind?
A:usually i have a loose topic and then all the rest is improvised

Q:How often do you get asked if you’re on drugs?
A:haha maybe once a month. i am not on drugs

Q:You’ve retweeted bad reviews and incredibly negative ones are featured on the back of Crunk Juice. Do you ever get offended by people hating your poetry?
A:if the person actualy seems to be one of my friends or someone with an informed opinion, it has gotten me down a few times. most of the criticism i get is just so hyberbolic and ridiculous, it is hard to take it seriously. also most of the criticism i get is from people who write way different styles of literature than me. it seems like, they have their way and i have mine, and its ok for people to like differnt things

Q:Crunk Juice as a whole has recurring themes and motifs, but individual shorter poems appear random, bizarre, or even incoherent. Is it possible or intended for someone to understand and deconstruct your shorter poems on an individual basis?
A: i think a lot of the shorter poems are just functioning to embody a certain style or a kind of humor, and u get more by reading a whole bunch and getting a feel for the voice in general, the personality or the energy behind it all. analyzing the specific mispelling in a single isolated line might not help a lot

Q:What are your poems about generally as a whole?
A:i think they r about how to live.. i want to promote an approach to living that is playful and honest and free. a lot of the way people live is bulshit they are just following peoples expectations or the usual way.. i want to be an example of someone who has questoned the usual way and created a more beautiful, alternative way. i want to create a cultural movment and impact people spirtually and their personality and how they treat themselves and others

Q:You say in one of your videos enjoy the internet because people can appreciate your deliberate misspellings. Crunk Juice has obvious visual influences from the internet in some of its IM styled speech, text based emoticons like \m/\m/, , ... and even its inclusion of URL segments like “Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about! http://invalid.invalid/url””. Are your deliberate misspellings related to this internet influence?
A:yes stuff like lol cats and some twitter accounts like @wolfpupy influenced my misspellings. but the internet is not the only influence. peter orlovsky was a beat poet who used mispellings to create a realy funny and cute as heck writing style, he is pre-internet and he was a major influence on me. also, poems by kids. oh my god kids are beautiful they write better poems than adults. i think its because they are more beautiful people. and iam willing to acknoweldge that, so i write more like a kid

Q:You confess to being inspired by e.e. cummings, do any other poets inspire you?
A: walt whitman and tao lin are usually the two others that i list along with cummings. k silem mohammad and some other flarf poets have greatly inspired me. ron silliman and some other language poets have inspired me. some dada poets and beat poets have inspired me. a lot of my peers in Pop Serial and the extended "alt lit" scene have inspired me

Q:I hear you’re working on your own feature film though I can’t find where it was written. Did I imagine that? If not, then will that be like a 90 minute version of one of your videos, a documentary styled video, or will we see a pseudo-narrative form?
A:i think it's gonna be a compliation of a bunch of my short videos, plus excerpts from my live broadcasts and live readings, plus short interview clips with a lot of people. kind of like how "justin bieber never say never" has all those different sources hehe i want it to capture this year of traveling and community building, and also just encourage people to watch a whole bunch of my material at once instead of just 1 or 2 short videos. the working title is "A YEAR IN THE LIEF." lately i created a couple longer videos, particularly "this is how we live in this world," and was really satisfied with it, i would like to use the length of my full movie to build emotional depth and realy mmove people

Q: would you describe some of your poems as having a stream of consciousness feel to them?
A: i coudl see them being descriebd that way. a lot of my poems use found internet language or they are styled to be similar to internet-comment type of language. also the poems (and videos) change topics prety frequently.. but sometimes the changes of topic seem even harsher than most stream-of-consciousness writing, like there is more overt randomness, compared to a poem that is just meandering thought. usually i end up deleting a lot of my first draft, so there is only a few lines left, and they dont always relate to each other in any obvious way, but i still keep them in the same poem haha
Q:Do you ever see your poetry being physically sold in a store in the future?
A:it could happen, but it wouldn't mean much to me, i dont need the help of any publishers or corporations to get where i want to go. i will probably never distribute my books through chain stores because i dont want to contribute to that system. independent bookstores would be more likely, but still it's not a priority in the near future. im building up everything myself, with my friends help

Crunk Juice can be bought physically or downloaded as PDF for a donation of your choosing here. Printed copies are on %100 recycled paper. For more Steve Roggenbuck you can follow him via Tumblr here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"But they should learn bloody English!"

Recently at my work someone was complaining about Asians. One of them had tried ordering food with imperfect English and asked for fries by saying "chip" as in singular. This co-worker of mine was busy having a rant about it in the staff room.

"They shouldn't be here if they can't speak bloody English, it's so damn annoying. I can't stand it!" and so on.

How inconvenient it must be for her to have to deal with someone who doesn't speak perfect English. I mean can you imagine just how difficult it must be for her when she had to come against that one person who couldn't order properly? I mean what is this? This middle aged lady is so linguistically disadvantaged that she can't even order food properly. And I work in a restaurant! Food is our thing! Out of the 20+ million people in this country, most of which speak English, it is so annoying to occasionally run into someone who doesn't. I mean, don't they understand that English is the 3rd most spoken language in the world? Why is that lady even bothering with her native language, which might be Mandarin, the most common one in the world? She should learn English, like everyone else in this country. In fact, a billion Chinese people should all just learn English so they can go and visit countries like Australia without annoying a few of us. It's their fault that they weren't lucky enough to be born in a country where English is a native language.

My co-worker lives a different life to me. I don't get to experience the awful personal inconvenience of running into people who are incapable of communicating with anyone around them, all alone in a world of strange unintelligible words that they can't learn because the ability to learn new languages diminishes with age. She should have thought of that 40 years ago when she was in China. I mean, surely she had the same opportunities to learn a second language at school like we all did right? And we ALL speak second languages thanks to our public school educations right? See? Easy. Can you imagine how awful it must be to have to deal with someone like that? A break from the normal everyday routine of having people talk to you in a language you speak, and having to deal with someone who speaks a foreign language for a few minutes? It must really get in the way of her job of customer service when things aren't really simple and easy for my co-worker.

I cannot begin to understand just how terrible it is for my co-worker. I mean... how does she cope? I don't know man. I don't know how someone can handle that sort of language barrier on a once-every-few-months basis even if it is for a few minutes. You can see why on a separate occasion she was in a car crash and as soon as she discovered the other party involved was Asian she drove off without giving insurance information. That's totally understandable and justified...

Seriously. If you don't speak the language you shouldn't be allowed to travel, let alone migrate to another country. I mean, that's always been the case right? We English speakers were here in way back even in my grandfather's day, and his grandfather's day, and... well actually it runs out and stops abruptly at 1770... but still...

My co-worker leads a very hard life...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gay Marriage - Why Arguments Against are Faulty

You hear it constantly from someone on the TV, radio, on the internet, or just in public if you're in the wrong spot at the wrong time: "Gay marriage is wrong and we shouldn't allow it. Marriage is between One Man and One Woman. We must stand up for Traditional Marriage. Gays just aren't natural." And so on. Even more so now that Obama has become the first President to support Gay Marriage (another step forward by Obama, proving to the world that he doesn't want to recreate history he wants to make history. Another reason why his presidency is progress for more than just his ethnicity)

There are multiple reasons why this is nonsense, with most Gay rights supporters arguing that love is love between two consenting adults, and that enforcing a religious belief on a minority is religious oppression. Both very good arguments, but one I don't see very often which I would really like to be brought into this discussion is the fallacy of "traditional marriage". We see a brief discussion of it that only ranges back to pre-60s (1967 interracial marriage becomes legal in America in all states not just a few) but really we need to address the fact that conservatives are pretending their historical framework is based off thousands of years worth of how "marriage" is defined.

What even is traditional marriage? "Marriage" is currently a thing between two consenting adults ("adult" in our Western culture is currently 18) that are of opposite sexes. Previously it was between two consenting adults of the same sex and race. We believe marriage is all about an expression of love whereas throughout many cultures, Western included, marriage has frequently been for political or social gain. People married for money, or for power, not necessarily because the other person was actually interesting. Marriage used to be determined by the father or at least the parents. Marriage used to be between people younger than 18.

One awfully stupid argument (excuse my bias) against Gay Marriage is "it will lead to Polygamy." Most Christians in the US will probably tell you that they are against such things. Polygamy we know is wrong, because the Bible is riddled with examples of great kings who practised Polygamy, some of which were hand chosen by God to rule, like king David who had 18 wives. Oh wait, let me start that again... We know Gay Marriage is wrong because no recognised denomination of Christianity has ever made it a core tenant of their faith as the only way to get into heaven, like Mormonism. Oh wait, no I'm bad at this... were was I? Oh yes, pointing out that Gay Marriage will somehow lead to an unrelated form of relationships when those relationships have been endorsed by your religious heritage on numerous occasions is called hypocrisy and I'm sorry but it invalidates that argument.

We know that marriage is important, because otherwise why would we hold the ceremony in a Church? That's tradition right? Well, no. Up until the 16th century it was uncommon for marriages to be held in a church, be overseen by clergy, people didn't even have to witness it. A marriage was a commitment to the other person that they may or may not have told the church about. Not only does the idea of what marriage is keep changing throughout history, but the rituals and ceremonies associated with it keep changing also. For starters divorced used to be illegal, and in some points in history it was only acceptable because of adultery, but remarriage wasn't allowed. I was going to bring up Newt Gringrich at this point to point out that he has had multiple wives, but they all ended because of his adultery, so I guess actually he is technically sticking to a "traditional" idea of how marriages should end. His poor respect for personal commitment to his wives can be used as an argument for why gay marriage will no more sully the good name of marriage any more than all those darn straight people constantly getting divorced, but it is not part of my current argument so let's ignore it.

Marriages that a lot of people would look down on are still legal. For instance: an 80 year old can marry a 20 year old and suddenly everyone goes "gasp! What a gold digger!" even though Gerontophilia and graeophilia are legitimate paraphilias. The issue for most people would be the 60 year old age difference, but you probably wouldn't feel the same way about an 120 year old marrying a 60 year old. Granted, some marriages with massive age differences maybe be a bad idea and really don't work, but the point is that even though you don't like them they're still two consenting adults. That's a very important thing: two consenting adults. I hear arguments that Gay Marriage will lead to Pedophilia being legalised, which is absurd. Pedophilia is taking advantage of someone too young to understand what is happening, or to be mature enough to give consent, and therefore is not comparable to the love between two gay adults. One is abuse, the other is a wonderful thing between two mature individuals.

I keep coming back to this to add more as I remember more of my argument. I do apologise. "Gay marriage has never existed!" some cry, further spouting ignorance. Ancient Rome in the early Imperial period had gay couples celebrating traditional marriage rites. It was not until Christianity began taking over the Roman empire in the 4th century did anti gay marriage laws appear. The Roman emperor Nero was married to another man. Twice.  Possibly even three times apparently but that third time I can't find information on. Freedman Pythagoras and Sporus. Though generally marriage was considered to be between man and woman, the Greek historian Dio Cassius implied that Nero's gay marriages were less scandalous than his stage performances (I will admit that maybe Nero was the Tommy Wiseau of his generation and maybe no one could stop him because he was emperor?). Nero isn't the only example. The 3rd century Emperor Elagabalus also married a man and said that he was "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles". He really wanted to be a woman and would've paid anyone handsomely if they could give him female genitals, but alas, technology wasn't what it is today. In fact, 13 of the first 14 Roman emperors were bisexual or even entirely homosexual. To say that homosexual tendencies aren't found in history is utter ignorance.

Marriage is no longer even a religious thing, it is just a commitment to another no different in secular society. We can not deny Atheists marriage no more than we can deny Islamic people marriages in Western society just because their idea of marriage does not hold the same religious significance and "traditions" as Christian marriage.

Believing that Gay Marriage is against tradition is deliberately ignoring the fact that your idea of what is or isn't tradition is merely social and historical bias effected by your cultural background. Remember that: defending traditional marriage is a fallacy brought on by a social and historical bias. Thanks to the magic of things like transportation, internet, phones, and other forms of communication, people should be able to understand better that other cultures exist outside their own and thus become more understanding of the complexities of human life. I look forward to people embracing this.

Believing that Gay Marriage is wrong because of some passage in the Bible is just part of your religious beliefs, and no one is trying to take that away from you. You have every right to believe that it is wrong but then again, from a Christian perspective so are all other religions because they deny Jesus. And Atheism. And all manner of things that people defend under moral relativism. But those things aren't illegal, because the US is not a theocracy. Therefore it is impractical and downright arrogant to think that one system of belief should be forced upon another group as law. I have just discussed Gay Marriage in terms of Christian marriage traditions which is incredibly limited considering that there are a wide variety of marriage traditions of all kinds of cultures that make up America, not just religious rituals, but ethnic traditions as well. The complexity of marriage is simply too large to discuss in a concise manner and as I've been saying all this time: it should not be boiled down to the narrow contemporary cultural perspective of the Christian right-wing.

And, as always, the most obvious thing to say: If you don't like gay marriage, don't get one.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Writing a Novel vs Writing a Blog

For those who don't know, I'd like to be a writer when I grow up (...well grow up more) and for the past few years I have been working on a novel. I've probably been working on it for as long as I've been working on this blog... I've found an extract it on one of my blogs from 2008 so it started in the same year.

The problem with my novel is I still haven't finished a draft yet. It's been going for nearly 4 years and I've yet to write "the end". I've started a 2nd draft without finishing the first one. Of course it takes time and patience for these things, I know that. But I recently looked at my archive for this blog (a bit of a nostalgic mood) and started to wonder... how big is this blog? So I've been copying the archives into Word so I can get a word count. In the first year and a half of this blog the word count is over 73,000 words. That's 3,000 words short of the first Harry Potter book.

If I had spent as much attention as I did to this blog as I did my novel I could have finished it years ago. 81 blog posts = a novel. Well, the first draft and a bit of a novel. I am obviously not going to call draft 1 finished. But even though my blogging pace has slowed down due to moving on to other blogging sites such as Tumblr and Twitter I still have managed to write a reasonable amount. This blog now contains over 130,000 words. Seeing as I'm aiming for my novel to be around 60,000 words that means I could have re-written it entirely and then some.

The obvious thing to do here is to spend some of the time I would blogging writing instead. So that's what I'm going to do. This novel has been a very on/off piece of work for a very long time now and I promise you I will finish it some day...

Some day...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Every John Green Book: A Review of themes

Well if you don't like spoilers then it goes without saying you shouldn't read this. So in case you accidentally don't pay too much attention I'll put it in bold caps: SPOILER WARNING FOR JOHN GREEN BOOKS.

John Green is the best selling author of nearly half a dozen young adult novels. I haven't read Will Grayson, will grayson, co-authored by David Levithan yet so I'm going to stick to ones he's the sole author of (they are in order, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars).

There are some recurring themes and kinds of characters that you can see in pretty much every John Green book. The protagonist and narrator is (usually male except in The Fault in Our Stars) introverted, socially awkward, and has limited friends. Their main source of interaction or desire stems from someone they percieve to be cooler and more interesting than them, which becomes a romantic love interest for the protagonist. This character can be present from the start but the friendship they have has to have a large change in the beginning as the catalyst for this desire (in Paper Towns Q already knows Margo, but it is not until years later, after they haven't talked in ages, that his interest in her is reinvigorated and the story revolves around it). Also, the love interest must be in a relationship doomed to fail, or have had a doomed relationship in the past.

The protagonist is not allowed to be enthusiastic about running. Despite this disdain and aversion to exercise they'll end up doing something physical (in Hazel's case it's just climbing up stairs). They are by default terrible at sports. I don't think there is a single protagonist that excels at sports in his books, that is generally left for the people the protagonist dislikes.

SOMEONE. MUST. DIE. There is not a single book where death does not play a part. An Abundance of Katherines involves a death but it happens years beforehand and is not vital to the main action in the story but in the end you realise it's significance to the town that they drive to. Heck, he wrote a short story where a vast majority of the population dies and becomes zombies (well what kind of zombie story doesn't involve lots of death?)

The future plays a minor role as this thing of uncertainty, source of fear, and its consideration is abandoned by at least one of the protagonists for sometimes reckless spontaneity. Alaska doesn't care for the future, Margo is disgusted by everyone's need to plan for the future, Hassan avoids planning for his future and only at the end agrees to go to college, and Augustus and Hazel both realise they don't have a future due to cancer.

Travel features in each book as a journey that changes the protagonist. Pudge travels to his boarding school where his life changes, Colin goes on a road trip that changes his outlook on life, Q goes on a road trip looking for Margo that allows him to see Margo for who she is, and Hazel travels to Amsterdam only to realise her favourite author is nothing but a drunkard.

Another recurring theme is identity and how people perceive and construct the identities of those around them. Each book involves the protagonist trying to examine clues or events to come to a conclusion about an individual. In Looking for Alaska the narrator Pudge realises he didn't understand Alaska as he searches for clues to whether or not her death was accident or deliberate. In An Abundance of Katherines, we have Colin trying to examine his past relationships to understand Katherine III, meanwhile, Lindsey is coping with a struggle to understand her own identity that she has constructed as a front so she can be popular and accepted by her superficial friends. Paper Towns doesn't have this as a background theme, this idea about identity is the entire novel. Margo Roth Spieglman has left cryptic clues to her location when she runs away, and as they search for her the narrator, Q, realises that people construct their own ideas about people and each has a different idea of who Margo is. Only in the very end does he realise who she is. The Fault in Our Stars isn't so much about understanding the identity of the love interest as Hazel isn't fighting to find a way into Augustus's heart, she's there and he's in hers, and it's adorable (I love their romance, it is amazing), but Hazel is confronted with the harsh reality that her construction of Peter Van Houten's personality in her mind has been gravely wrong. Her expectations are shattered.

So when you examine his books you can see recurring ideas and themes, some playing minor roles in one book only to be the major theme in another. So why read them? They might sound repetitive when you simplify them down like I did...

But why watch horror movies? You see you know what happens in most horror films: people die. Teens do dumb things. The blonde one dies. Black guy never lives. Etc. You see, those are recognisable things that allow you to classify it as part of a genre. They share things in common, but each one is different (well horror movies can get pretty cliche and similar, but there are tons of horror movies and only a few John Green books). Each story John Green writes is different in a way. They may involve romance, but each romances outcome is different and so is the journey to this outcome. You can see the similarities between how Hazel has few friends in The Fault in Our Stars and Colin being similarly introverted in An Abundance of Katherines, but The Fault in Our Stars is about a cancer sufferer who is pursuing a romantic ideal whereas An Abundance of Katherines is about Colin's need to make a difference and break free of what he sees as a stigma of being a child prodigy - which is very different from being a genius, and usually amounts to nothing. You can see how they both have travel in them, but both serve different purposes.

The point is that although they have similarities, they are not the same story. So that's why you should read them. Because they are each awesome. They will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and they will entertain you. You will fall in love with the characters, and if you're like me, you can relate to some of them, and you'd really wish they were real so you could hang out with them.

In short, the works of John Green are incredible.

Note: I kept writing "Looking for Alaska" every time I wanted to say "The Fault in Our Stars" so if you see any examples where I talk about cancer in Looking for Alaska you know it's just a typo. I'd proofread but...

Welcome to Nerdfighteria

I recently finished watching all of the videos on the Vlogbrothers youtube channel. It took me from the beginning of February to the end of April, but I did it. Well over 900 videos of the remarkable John Green and amazing Hank Green. During this time I also managed to read all the books that John Green is the sole author of (and I am ordering Will Grayson, will grayson, co-authored by David Levithan right now). They are awesome and I highly recommend them (more on that later)

I am now what one would call a "nerdfighter". What is a nerdfighter? You might ask. Well, uninitiated one, nerdfighters aren't people who fight nerds but fight for nerds (like freedom fighters only with less guns and more Awesome. Nerdfighters don't have internal organs, they are made entirely of awesome.) "Why do you get to be made of only awesome? I want to be made of awesome too!" well you can! Admission into nerdfighterdom is simple: if you want to be a nerdfighter you are a nerdfighter. We don't judge you for your nerdiness, we just like that you want to be part of the community.

A recurring idea is an island nation called Nerdfighteria. Hank Green wrote a song about it (Hank Green writes many songs and has 3 albums which you should check out). Fun fact about Nerdfighters and Nerdfighteria: if we assume every subscriber to Vlogbrothers is a nerdfighter (approximately 688,000 people when I write this) then the theoretically population of Nerdfighteria would be larger than %31.8 of recognised countries in the world. (That's somewhere between Comoros and Equatorial Guinea in terms of population.) OK so there are probably disused channels, and people who have fallen out of nerdfighterdom (*cough* Abbey *cough*come back to us *cough* - or is being a nerdfighter like being a Catholic? You can say you're not anymore but the church stills counts you as one of them. One of them.), or have two accounts subscribed, so if we knock off %10 of those people then that only makes us fall 1 or 2 spots down the list. So it's actually a viable thing to create a society and working economy with that amount of people.

If we pitched in a dollar each we could buy an island. 5 each and we could buy a pretty awesome one (I know, I researched this), though we'd never fit more than a small fraction of nerdfighters on the island at any one time. Oh well. The dream of nerdfighteria dies... for now... But we live on online. Online is where it's at man. The weather is always perfect and distance doesn't mean a thing, unless you're in Nerdfighterlike, in which case then distance sucks... because you'd like to touch and hug them (and nothing else, or something else, depending on which verse of the song stage of the relationship you're in), even though you have a date with your bookshelf you could stay up on skype all night and slow dance to music that's royalty free. Too bad they don't live anywhere near you...

But yes. If you haven't watched the awesomeness that is John and Hank Green then go! Go now! I guarantee that through this journey of watching their styles form and nerdfighteria grow from Brotherhood 2.0 to TruthorFail, to now, you will laugh, you will get excited, and you will most definitely learn quite a few things about thing you didn't know you would care about until they were explained to you by a man with peanut butter smeared all over his face. (yes, that happened, John Green - respected best selling author everybody!) Oh, and if you aren't happy with peanut butter on his face, then why not watch him scribble on his face with Sharpie? 

I swear he's a really smart...  like... really smart I swear.

Oh, and of course I must end this with the obligatory Nerdfighter sign off: DFTBA! (Don't forget to be awesome) (Imagine I am saying with with the "live long and prosper" sign on both hands facing the wrong direction and crossed over my chest).