Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Popular culture no longer applies to me - Art Brut, Corner Hotel, 19.12.07

I didn't know this when I went in, but support act Telecom won their slot by entering a competition on RRR. They sounded like the sort of band who win competitions - quite competent, with nothing overtly bad about them. I think you know what that means, but you decide.

Plastic Palace Alice were a tiny bit more interesting, but not my sort of thing. At first, from my position sitting on the floor in front of the Art Brut stage (note for non-Vics: The Corner Hotel has two stages) I thought "they sound a bit like Icehouse". Then I realised that what they were really after was Bowie. That's not a good sign, but they didn't suck, and perhaps you will like their stuff more than I.

Art Brut were FUCKING GREAT. At one point, it was as if I'd just woken up from a five-year coma and realised: I'M SEEING A FUCKING ROCK BAND AT A PUB AND IT'S FUCKING AWESOME!!! I have been ensconced in an arts degree, and for several years refused to even pick up a copy of Beat or InPress because my inability to afford rock gigs would cause suicidal ideation. As you can see from reading my blog, I've seen bands since finishing uni, but this was the first time I felt like I was 23 again (we'll just gloss over the fact that I was too creaky to get into the enthusiastic pogoing of the rest of the audience).

I don't have the second album, just a few downloads from other blogs, but it didn't matter because it's not like any of the songs were going to suck. And even if they did suck it still would have been fun. I can't remember any of the hilarious on-stage banter, just the general wackiness and the fact that everyone in Art Brut looks like they're in completely different bands, and narrowly missing getting kicked in the head by Eddie on a foray into the audience or in the middle of pulling his pants up.

A sure indication of how awesome and fun this gig was is my big complaint about the gig. You see, after the first two songs, Eddie Argos picked up the set lists, tore them up and instructed the audience to yell out what they wanted to hear. It was great fun... except that, instead of pulling the usual stunt of not playing my favourite song, they played my favourite song - Bad Weekend - second, after opening with Formed a Band. As a result, I was surrounded by happy people shrieking the name of their particular favourite ("EMILY KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!!!!!!") while I sat there feeling a bit baffled.

If your major complaint about a gig is that they play your favourite song too early, you can safely recommend it to thirty or so anonymous blog readers. Art Brut are touring Britain as of Jan 25 08, so if you're in the area I order you to see them.

Bad Weekend

Monday, December 17, 2007

When you're around, I'm always laughing - The Church and Divinyls, 16.12.07

I probably should have known this before, but Steve Kilbey is frickin' hilarious. I only know two Church songs, and I think you know what they are*, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Church's set without knowing any of the music. It was a bit prog but not offensively so, and Kilbey is not afraid to take the piss out of himself and the audience. Like so:

Because Sydney is better than Melbourne... [audience laughs] it's nothing personal, you just know it's true, because we've got it all, we've got cocaine and hookers and last year a guy in an accounting firm got done for sexually interfering with a rabbit [audience pisses themselves]

[to audience heckle] how's my ear? Or how's my rear? My rear's fine, my ear's not so good... you better hope your rear's this great when you're 53. ... actually, I'm only 26, I've just had a really hard life.

Interestingly, Kilbey actually looks better now than he did 20 or 30 years ago, an impressive feat (and a point of interest for The Fauves' Andrew Cox, who bears a startling resemblance to Kilbey). Apparently some bloggers have already dismissed The Church's support slot as crap - that's unbelievable, the sound was great and the music sexy. If you're going to catch this show on tour, just relax and enjoy the trip.

Enjoy the literary stylings of Steve Kilbey

*After I wrote that I only knew two songs, I searched YouTube and realised that, actually, I know more than I realised. Here's a good one, Reptile, chosen because it's representative of The Church's show tonight and because Kilbey looks fucking hot in the video.

Divinyls came on looking a bit stiff and haggard. Chrissie, as you know, has multiple sclerosis, causing people to point and go "ha ha, she's pissed" - but to be honest, so far it doesn't seem to be affecting her a lot. She's a bit slower than she used to be, but fuck me, SHE'S CHRISSY AMPHLETT AND SHE PWNS YOUR SORRY LITTLE ARSE. And she would do so in a wheelchair with a nebuliser and a colostomy bag.

In any case, the band loosened up after about four songs and you'd never know they were entering their 50s after a life of partying hard. I just discovered that Chrissie is married to the Divinyls' current drummer Charlie Drayton, which makes for an interesting in-band dynamic given her relationship(s) with Mark McEntee. Onstage Amphlett, McEntee and occasionally even Owen bicker like an old married couple, which is hilarious to watch. Everyone in the band's really old but they still rock like motherfuckers.

As always happens when I see bands I like a lot, my favourite live songs were the ones I don't necessarily like so much at home. I was a bit disappointed with Only Lonely, and why wouldn't I be? It's only one of my favourite songs of all time. Whereas the duellin' guitar between Mark McEntee and Charlie Owen on Make Out Alright was frickin' awesome, and the new tracks Don't Wanna Do This and Asphyxiated rocked much harder than on the free single we were given as we went into the show. (I actually like Asphyxiated much better than Don't Wanna Do This - when I first heard it I thought it must have been a song I didn't remember from Monkey Grip.) I was also very happy to hear a comparatively obscure fave, Guillotine Day from the excellent What A Life! album. Unsurprisingly, the highlight of the night was I Touch Myself, which I've been singing all night despite my inability to hold a tune if you glued it to my hand.

As I mentioned on my Stereo Total post, my favourite bands have a nasty habit of not playing MY favourite song live. In the case of the Divinyls, that's this one here.

[EDIT: Adem with an E has a great post with some footage from the Geelong gig taken by mobile phone. And great to see I'm not the only one who missed Siren!]

Sunday, December 09, 2007

ROOT! Supposed He Was Out of the Question

Having seen ROOT! several times over the last few months, it was inevitable that the album wasn't going to be as awesome as the live shows. Whereas on stage DC Root sounds angry, or as angry as he ever gets in public, on the album he sounds like he's on Play School. It's like Tony Martin's story about seeing Neil Diamond live, but in reverse - whereas Diamond failed to deliver the line "Good Lord!!!" as promised on Hot August Night, on the otherwise awesome album version of Back to Mine, the bit about wrapping a brick in the cover of a book on management theory to take someone out of their comfort zone is mysteriously missing. Similarly, on School Mum (see below), the line "skinny girls with big fat issues/see you later, ain't gonna miss you" just disappears. Don't get me started on the fact that Crown Tower Blues isn't on the album at all.
Still, not everyone has had the privilege of having seen ROOT! five times in as many months, so those of you who have been cursing us Melbournians to the sky can finally taste the ROOT!y goodness. You'll like it - it's funny, it's bouncy, it bears only a cursory resemblance to country & western. And if you buy it, they'll be able to afford to tour, so you know what you need to do. Give ROOT! some much-needed touring money.

School Mum
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I took the "the temperment type" quiz on
I am...


According to Galen's ancient theory of temperaments, people with melancholic temperaments are often perfectionists, and are analytically oriented. They are said to be sensitive and loving, but may also be hard to please because of their high standards.

What's your temperment?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm not the revolution, I'm just your boyfriend - new Electric Six

exterminate.jpgIt took me about four years to get into Electric 6, mainly because Danger! High Voltage! is, if not a novelty song, close enough if you need one. What converted me was the discovery that E6 are basically AC/DC on acid and possibly sleep deprivation. They bring the riffs and every other song is about fucking, with the additional benefit of strange, original and thought-provoking lyrics (admittedly, the thought is usually "WTF?").

Exterminate is a bit more polished and commercial than previous albums, but having been absolutely shat on by critics and fans alike for the grossly underrated Switzerland, they seem to have bowed to the demands of the fratboys derided in It's Showtime! and brought back the giant riffs and shouting. However, for those of us who actually liked Switzerland, there's still plenty of relatively subtle, poppy material and electronica. Supposedly, the theme of the album is "excess" (write me 6000 words on the theme of "excess" by the end of today, two weeks detention). The lyrics appear to have, if not story arcs - this is not a Tom Waits review - a self-contained motif, as opposed to shrieking about fire and America and stuff (not that there's anything wrong with that). That doesn't mean I have any fucking idea what they're on about; although there does seem to be a significant whinge about women who are just too demanding (Kukuxumushu, White Train, Lenny Kravitz... I mean, suck it up, dude), there's still plenty of senseless rhyming for the people who like that sort of thing (Rip It, Dirty Looks). Along the way there are Easter Eggs like "Satan destroys you/but Jesus puts you in a bowl and smokes you" (White Train) and the title of this post (Kukuxumushu). Even the songs that are a bit less good may have irresistible hooks (Dance Pattern) or amusing lyrics (Fabulous People).

I wanted to post a selection of tracks that would represent the range of styles here, but quickly realised I would just end up posting the whole album, and if I do that I'm never going to get another Australian tour. So I chose these two as covering the rock-electronica spectrum:

Broken Machine - Emo electronica, Gary Numan stylee. You know you're chronically depressed when you think shit like this is really profound. Help me, I'm turning emo!

I've been an impoverished student for the last five years and therefore missed their last tour. For the love of Zod, buy this album!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ding dong, the witch is dead

I'd like to believe that we have a new government because of this (slightly outdated, it's from a couple of years ago)...

...but to be honest, I think people just went "Ooh, shiny".

I'm also less than stoked by the landslide majority in the House of Reps, but the really interesting place is the Senate, where the conservative parties (Liberals, Nationals, Family First) have 38 seats, the "left" parties (ALP, Greens) have 37, and independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who split his preferences between a conservative ticket and a leftish ticket and who has tended to campaign on issues that should attract bipartisan support, such as gambling. He's in for an exciting 6 years.

There are two things that should give Labor supporters pause: firstly, the real possibility of an imminent economic downturn, and secondly, what will happen now that the ALP holds *ALL* Australian governments. In both instances, there is likely to be what the economists call a "correction". I know I wouldn't bleed very hard if Labor went down in Victoria - can you tell the difference between Brumby and The Other Guy? Victoria's not due for another state election until 2010, having passed a US-style law to hold elections on the last Saturday of November every four years, but it will be interesting to see what will happen to other states and territories.

This reserve won't stop me from shouting myself a tall glass of something with bubbles in it tomorrow afternoon, though.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More voting fun

GetUp have created a rather nifty little website called, which allows you to fill in a quick quiz to establish roughly how you should fill out your preferential vote card for the House of Representatives. (Such an exercise for the Senate would require SETI to power, which is why they don't offer it.) It's not 100% foolproof - my results had the CEC ahead of the Greens and the Liberals ahead of Family First - but it's near enough, and if you aren't too fussed about how the numbers after 3 flow, you may find it useful. (I wouldn't be devastated if my vote was submitted the way GetUp generated it, I just want to switch a couple of minor parties around.)

If the whole preferential voting thing makes your head whirl, GetUp have thoughtfully provided a mostly non-partisan guide to the Australian electoral system in plain English.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My life as a rockist

I'm not gonna pretend I had an idyllic childhood - it frankly sucked - and, like all bullied children, I had my refuge. Others had dungeons and dragons or SF - I had rock music. If, for any reason, I'm ever called on to discuss my religion, I'll say I'm an atheist or agnostic (depending on whether it's a nice day or I've gotten laid recently), but it would be pretty reasonable, given the role that music plays in my life, to describe myself as a "rockist". Consider the following:

ROLE IN FAMILY LIFE: My mum recently confessed that my parents' marriage is based entirely on the fact that "we both love rock'n'roll music". We spent a lot of time travelling (in one jaunt, we were on the road for six months in a hotted-up F100), and in that time not once was the radio off. We would sing along to "House of the Rising Sun" in our genetically-disadvantaged voices, in a painful but effective bit of family bonding. When we settled down nothing changed. I would wake up on a bright sunny day to be informed that, although the desktop hides Ita's hips, Barnsey's imagination is strong. When my mum discovered my dad was screwing around on her, she sang him Mental As Anything's "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?" Alhamdulillah, they got back together after awhile, owing to the healing powers of rock'n'roll (and possibly being too cranky for any other partners).

RITES OF PASSAGE: Beginning with my seventh birthday, I would annually receive a gift certificate for Brashes record chain. The first album I ever bought myself was with one of these. Given my avowed love of disco, you will not be surprised to learn that the album was The Pointer Sisters' Greatest Hits. In addition to the rite of passage of learning responsibility for one's musical choices, I also learnt the taste of bitter disappointment as the season's current hit, I'm So Excited, wasn't on the album.

It's not just me, though: my sister and I were sitting around at Mum's place, as young adults, listening to Black Sabbath's Paranoid. My mum sighed nostalgically and told us, "I had my first passionate kiss to this song."

RITUAL AND SACRIFICE: As you would expect from a family of devout rockists, we owned a pretty decent stereo. My dad had this alarming habit of putting a pillow on the floor, putting the speakers on each side of the pillow, plugging in the headphones and switching the settings to play through both speakers and headphones (no, I don't know why it had this function either), lying on the pillow with the headphones on, cranking it up to 11 and playing Stairway to Heaven, loudly declaring "This song is better than an orgasm!!!".

Unsurprisingly, he suffers from tinnitus these days.*

*Just to let the truth ruin a good story, the tinnitus is probably industrial rather than a result of musical self-abuse, but this couldn't have helped.

ADORATION: Despite my self-description as a "rockist", I don't shy away from great pop and electronica, and as a kid I was a Durannie. I was deeply in love with John Taylor, and have only recently realised that he's actually a pretty decent bass player. My devotion was such that, when offered a chance to learn to ride horses at the age of 11, I refused, because The Reflex was showing on whatever shitty afternoon music video show was the shit at that age. (It was hosted by Jonathon Coleman and was called "Live Wire", if I recall correctly. It definitely wasn't Simon Townsend's Wonder World, which I also watched religiously.) I never really liked horses.

ADULTHOOD: For my 18th birthday, I was given tickets - plural - to the Angels at EV's in Croydon, an all ages venue. I say plural because originally, my mum's best friend's husband had bought one ticket for me. His wife tore him a new one and demanded that he buy me another ticket - a pointless and humiliating exercise for this friendless wonder. I asked some people who didn't really hate me if they wanted to go, but they were washing their hair. I tore up the extra ticket in fury, and went by myself. It's still one of the greatest rock performances I've ever seen, and I still go to gigs by myself.

Disappointingly, they didn't play Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.

VIRGIN SACRIFICE: The loss of my virginity, at the age of 19, involved no music at all. Unsurprisingly, it was shit.

To be honest, this has nothing to do with any specific event in my life, although it was a huge hit at an impressionable age and is one of my favourite songs of all time. It's mainly here as a reminder that Stephen Cummings was totally hot back in the day, and prematurely gray 30 year olds still totally do it for me.

Voting above the line - will it bring on the apocalypse?

Last Federal Election, I spent a great deal of time printing out "how to vote" pdfs from the Australian Electoral Commission to reassure myself that I hadn't done anything that might have caused Family First's Steve Fielding to get elected. In fact, I hadn't - I'd spent a good ten minutes painstakingly voting below the line, numbering my preferences from 1 to about 15 or so, then going the other way and sequencing the bottom numbers from 63 up to about 40, then trying to remember where I was up to on each side so I didn't accidentally end up with two 36's and invalidate my vote.

(For non-Australian readers, voting is compulsory and enforced in this country, and it is preferential, which means you number your preferences in order, so that an electorate selects the candidate they despise the least. The AEC publishes a handy Flash guide here. It's pretty easy at the House of Reps level, where you'll have maybe 10 candidates at most to rank, but the Senate is where every unelectable freak chooses to express themselves, blowing out the numbers to 60-70 candidates. As a result, there is the option to vote "above the line", where you tick one box, say, Australian Democrats, and you accept that party's preferences. Understandably, it's a pretty hardcore political nerd who bothers to vote below the line.)

Anyhoo, for the current election I stumbled on the extremely useful listing of group voting tickets for the Senate. Simply pick the state you live in, download the pdf and find out how political parties are distributing their votes. Each party's votes cover two pages of pdf - just find the party closest to your ideological outlook and make sure they haven't done anything hilarious like preference a party that's largely against what most of their supporters would want just to spite a party that's reasonably similar to what most of their supporters would want. (You can interpret that any way you like.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Your hide will make a fine poncho!

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TISM for non-TISM fans

This is a range of TISM mp3's for people who haven't heard any TISM or who have only heard stuff like Greg! The Stop Sign! They're in chronological order, and were originally intended to show the diversity of TISM's oevre... then I realised that I'd just picked comparatively obscure songs that I like and that weren't so topical they were outdated or incomprehensible to anyone outside of Melbourne's south-east, so they're not that diverse.

Lyrics range from extremely clever (Sex Tonite) to extremely stupid (Sid Viscous), so there's something for all levels of intellectual development. The main thread is that they all bring the rock - even the comparatively electro (There's Gonna Be) Sex Tonite is crunchy and satisfying. Enjoy!

I'm Interested in Apathy, Great Truckin' Songs of the Renaissance
Let's Club It To Death, Hot Dogma
(There's Gonna Be) Sex Tonite,
Sid Viscous, Best Off bonus track

[EDIT: I've just re-uploaded the Christmas specials from 2004, I Ain't No Christian, But I Believe In Jesus and Then The Answer Came.]

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Live Guns'n'Roses

Darren over at He's A Whore has a post devoted to 1987, the year I stopped listening to commercial music (actually, that's frogshit, I didn't really jump the fence until Nevermind was released). Of particular interest is the live set of Appetite for Destruction - scroll down for pure live pleasure.

(Oh yeah, there's some U2 for the people who like that sort of shit.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jock Cheese, TMBG & Macaca Mulatta

In response to a reader posting (and by posting I mean "grovelling pathetically"), I'm posting a few tracks from a hard-to-find side project, Platter, by TISM's bass player Jock Cheese. A bit more information about this album can be found here.

Up There Calisi
La Traviata
Don't Burn 'Em All JD
Dave Grainey's Country Idyll (highly recommended)
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They Might Be Giants have uploaded three rather good live-on-radio MP3s to their website, free to subscribers of the TMBG mailing list. Just sign up right here.

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Chris Chinchilla, formerly of Art Brut and currently of Macaca Mulatta (and Melbourne resident! Aren't you proud?) writes:

In the next fortnight we're finally off into the studio to record our album! What with gigs getting hotter and busier and more labels sniffing about the band it looks like 2008 will be a good year...

In the meantime, here's some live shows to keep you entertained and to write about :-)

10/11/07 @ IDGAFF
160 Hoddle st, Abbotsford
With Telecom, Ross Cottee and The Cheats
--- Macaca Mulatta return to their spiritual home to celebrate the fact that London promoter Dom PopArt / Panic is in town!

17/11/07 @ The Espy
St Kilda, FREE
With Kids in Cults, The Red Cherries and The Bakelite Age
--- Macaca Mulatta head south of the river, and it's Free!

If you are not sure whether you would like to see Macaca Mulatta, even for free, you can check out their songs and live performances at their websty.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The album, not the country

I haven't had a chance to pick up the belowmentioned Electric Six album I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master, as I'm saving up to move house and will need the first month's rent and bond. I did buy a copy of Switzerland a while ago, and on searching blogs for it, was a little surprised that it didn't do very well. It doesn't have any obvious iconically awesome hits like Gay Bar or Danger! High Voltage!, so alternative radio seems to have just gone "Meh" and bloggers just shat on it from a great height.

This is a shame, because, whilst it would obviously be blasphemous and stupid to compare Switzerland to Exile On Main St, like that favourite Stones album* it's a good solid album on which every track is pretty decent and you have to listen quite a few times to mine all the awesome out of it. The production and riffs smother the fairly clever lyrics (I said clever, not intelligent!), so you can listen to a song for ages before you realise "Hey, this is fucking funny!". These are some of the more overtly sexy tracks.

Slices Of You
Germans In Mexico
Mr Woman

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*My favourite Stones album is Some Girls, continuing the theme of my tragic addiction to both rock AND disco.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pencils at Dawn

I haven't laughed out loud in quite some time, for reasons I prefer not to get into here. Pencils At Dawn made me laugh out loud several times.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Post Has No Title

I was looking for a recipe for a chickpea salad - not that anyone needs a recipe for chickpea salad, and in fact I ended up doing exactly what I was going to do in the first place, which was cut up a stack of crunchy things and pour vinegar over them - when I found the delightful blog Veggie Friendly. Veggie Friendly was originally a restaurant review site, and they do still do them, but the reviewers are currently holidaying in the Middle East and reviewing what they find there. The photos are likely to have you trying to reach into your computer screen. As you would hope from a vegetarian blog, they also have a recipe collection.

It's Nice That is now complementing Drawn! for my daily fix of pretty things to look at and play with.

Got a ROOT! out of it

ROOT! on Best of the Brat, 3RRR, 60Mb

I have no idea how to do streaming audio or any of that fancy-schmancy shit, so there you have it - 1 hour of the singer and guitarist from ROOT! playing their top 5 rooting songs. Highlights include The Legendary Stardust Cowboy and the exquisitely named Smegma (played with the spindle in the wrong hole...).

The next ROOT! show is at the Retreat Hotel, Sydney Road Brunswick, Cup Day November 6th. I shall be there in my fascinator. If I can find one that costs less than $250, I mean.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dick.... That's an interesting name. "Dick".

There is a new Electric 6 album out. It's called "I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master." This appears to be the first single.

If you've really missed TISM, but are more interested in the prosciutto and melon-like pairing of rock and disco than in lyrics that "make sense", I strongly recommend uncritically absorbing all of the Electric 6's oevre. Or egg.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Restaurant review: Nights of Kabul

I must confess I went to Nights of Kabul more out of morbid curiosity than any expectation of quality. The last time I went to an authentic Central Asian restaurant in my area it was, uh, a little bit too authentic - we were basically served perfectly-cooked meat with pickles and not much else in an environment which accurately reflected the country's history as a Stalinist republik. (That particular restaurant has since moved, and its interiors certainly look a lot nicer now - I'll try to check it out sometime, as the kebabs were magnificent.) So I rolled along to Nights of Kabul full of hilarious speculation on the decor and possible entertainment (that would be Buzkashi, not wife-carrying, although the restaurant that offers that as weekend entertainment will be guaranteed all the publicity you can eat).

The decor, I have to admit, is not amazing, and we didn't go on a night when they had live music so I can't comment on it. The restaurant is licenced, but if you do drink I would advise you to stick with nice safe beer, which is supposed to go with this sort of cuisine anyway. Afghan food is supposed to be similar to Indian, and you'll notice several familiar items such as tikka, korma and gulab jamun. However, you should probably not go in thinking "Oh, it'll just be like Indian" - my mum ordered a mixed tikka, thinking it would be like the mild tandoori style you get in most Indian restaurants, only to find it was like eating a mouthful of pepper. Conversely, I ordered the mixed Soltani and it was absolutely delicious. We also got a mixed entree which, despite the somewhat colourblind image on their website, both looked and tasted incredible. After we pushed our chairs out to accommodate our humourously-distended stomachs, dad insisted on having a Turkish coffee, which was served in an adorable little dainty teacup. I had a sip and was expecting it to be like chewing a Gauloise, but it wasn't - it was sugary and perfect. If you're the sort of person who doesn't normally eat dessert I highly recommend it.

If you're the sort of food nerd who goes to restaurants based on how exotic they are I can recommend Nights of Kabul, but if you're the total opposite and just want to be fed until you explode then I can still recommend Nights of Kabul.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition - entries unveiled!

Entry time is over and playtime has begun! Jay will be posting a new entry every few hours or so, so start playing and thinking about how you're going to distribute your votes. For anyone new to or the competition, basically, Jayisgames puts out a call for entries with a theme for game designers to integrate into their game - this time around, it's "ball physics". It's up to the designer how they do this, and following the theme slavishly won't guarantee them a prize. Aside from the main prizes, this year sponsored by Sierra Online, ArcadeTown, ArmorGames and FreeworldGroup, the real excitement for mine is the Audience Prize, which is composed of donations by JayIsGames readers. (That would be you.)

So far, I'm liking:

Click to play CGDC4: Roll
Starts off annoyingly easy - quickly becomes annoyingly hard. Nice, clean, Nitrome-style graphics.

Factory Balls
Click to play CGDC4: Factory Balls
ZOMG! A Bart Bonte game I don't hate!

Day of the Bobteds
Click to play CGDC4: Day of the Bobteds
By the eeeeeeeeevil genius who brought you Hapland, an elegant little game with polished graphics that might disappoint Hapland fans (you may be comforted to know that they look a bit Ferry Halim, so all is not lost).

Click to play CGDC4: Kaichou
Bless you! No major strategy or effort here, just shoot black balls to turn them into pretty flowers.

Mr. Mothball
Click to play CGDC4: Mr. MothBall
From the artistic vision that brought you Submachine and Daymare Town, the virtue of this game lies not so much in the motion physics as the sound. Jump on the blocks (what do you think they are made of?) and listen to the noise it makes.

Brownie Motion
Click to play CGDC4: Brownie Motion
Amateurish graphics and a gameplay so simple you can feel your brain getting smaller as you play, yet weirdly compelling. If lopsidation can just team up with an artist and/or musician to make the interface just a tiny bit less crap, we could be onto a winner.

For my money, the winner so far is:

Angular Momentum
Click to play CGDC4: Angular Momentum
It's easy to learn, quite polished in its presentation, addictive and fun. A few physics nerds over at Jayisgames have complained that the movement is inaccurate, but I don't think that interferes with the enjoyment of the game itself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stereo Total vs drug withdrawal

I had an awful day on Friday - I'm trying to come off some prescription drugs, and the side effects are quite yucky. I had to go home from work in the middle of the day, costing me $100 in lost wages, and I wasn't entirely sure if I had gastro (caught from visiting my grandfather in hospital) or it was just the pills talking. I went home and slept for 6 hours, then miserably contemplated losing the money I'd paid to see Stereo Total at the Northcote Social Club. Anyway, I had something to eat, took a couple of parrots eat 'em all and hauled my sorry arse up to Northcote from the Deep South (ie Malvern). I'm so glad I did.

One lesson learned from this experience is that you DON'T have to loyally suffer through mediocre support bands, especially when withdrawing from happy pills, but under any circumstances, really. No matter how gorgeous the guys are (although the female drummer from whatever groovy nonentity was on when I got there had some very interesting tattoos), they suck and are 99.99999% unlikely to become The Next Big Thing, and even if they do they still suck. I went for a delicious felafel at the local Turkish halal kebabery and felt much better - a far more productive use of my time than breathing beer and farts because of the off-chance that I might not be able to be RIGHT UP THE FRONT (and when I got back I ended up front and centre anyway). Considering it was a sold-out show I feel quite fortunate - where are all these Australian fans coming from? Do Stereo Total get played on radio here? Or are there shitloads of people in Melbourne who are just as happy to get all their music off the internets as I am?

I was a tiny bit surprised by the singer's appearance, which is stupid of me - Françoise Cactus looks quite a bit like your high school's bursar (the person who handles payments, whom you just know has some kind of secret life involving latex). The show was charming and affable - odd descriptions for a punk rock show but they're an odd band. Françoise's naughty schoolmarm aura contrasted nicely with Brezel Göring's wild man of avant-garde thinger. They did a lot with minimal equipment, managing to fill a room with only a tiny drumkit (one snare, two hi-hats and an effects pedal) and a synthesiser - the bit where Göring played the pipes around the stage was especially priceless. For 'L'amour À 3' they dragged a slightly surprised (but very hot) Asian dude on stage to do the 'wa-OooOoo' bit. When they invited the audience on stage during 'Wir tanzen im 4-eck' (we are dancing in a square, we are dancing concentrated), someone nicked the banner that can be seen in this video, and the show halted while they entreated the souvenir-collector to give it back. I was hoping that during the fake encores (don't get me started on fake encores - just play the frickin' songs already) they'd play I Am Naked, but alas, clearly this was the mandated-by-law Song That Ms .45 Loves But Touring Bands Won't Play.

Whatever you do, you must see Stereo Total if they play in your town - the audience is HOTT!!! and the show is hilarious and warm and fluffy. To compensate for the tragic lack of I Am Naked, here's the German version on video, complete with HOTT!!! but slightly tubby people in their unterhosen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Play games, find your purpose in life

This is cute: play ten old-skool computer games such as Simon, Snake and Duck Hunt to identify your career path. You don't have to become a member of OKCupid to play, unless you want to keep your score.

The Fun Way to Pick a Career Test written by harpoleers2 on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Friday, September 07, 2007

War Nerd - Iran, Iran so far awaaay

I haven't been so entranced by masculinism since discovering the online version of Cracked, but Gary Brecher's War Nerd column is seriously addictive. This Super War Preview from 2005 (but, frighteningly, not seeming at all dated) explains why strikes against Iran would blow many chunks:

Of course all the NeoCon crazies are peddling the old story that "once we invade, the people will rally to the cause of freedom."

Yeah. Just like they did in Iraq. If we couldn't get people on our side after deposing a monster like Saddam, what chance do you think we have of winning hearts and minds in Iran? The kids in Iran are pissed off at the way the old Mullahs won't let 'em rock and roll, but the idea that they'll support an American invasion because they're bored is totally insane. It's like imagining that the kids in Footloose would've backed a Soviet invasion of Nebraska because John Lithgow wouldn't let them hold school dances.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stereo Total!

I'm not sure how to describe Stereo Total, so I'll let them do it...

40% Yéyétronic, 20% R'n'R, 10% Punkrock, 3% electronic effects, 4% French 60ies beat, 7% genious dilettantism, 1,5% Cosmonaute, 10% really old synthesizers, 10% 8-bit Amiga-sampling, 10% transistor amplifier, 1% really expansive and advanced instruments, a minimalist production, meaning a home- made- trash- garage- sound crossed with underground, authentic as well as amateurish, ironic as well as effective, pop as well as political.

They make funny electropop which may remind you of cartoon shows on SBS back in the 80s when it was still Channel 0. They have a new album out called Paris Berlin and they're playing at the Northcote Social Club on Friday September 14th. If you're conflicted about whether you'll go, check out their live set on WFMU (scroll down a bit).

I Am Naked
Musique Automatique
Stereo Total at Myspace

Human Brain Cloud

Oh my god... I discovered Human Brain Cloud this morning via JayIsGames and I've been addicted all freakin' day. Basically, you load a word and type in whatever you associate with it. I got up to 1294 words on the leaderboard (look for Ms 45).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Math Mountain

Math Mountain is an addictive arithmetic game wherein you climb a mountain, competing against another person or the computer, by answering arithmetic questions correctly. It's only BODMAS (without any brackets - Happy Bodmas!), so you don't have to worry about remembering high school algebra, and the questions vary from very easy (1 / 1 = ...) to fairly hard (123 - 75 = ...). You as a geek may be able to answer the questions easily (see post below), but you are being timed and you also have to choose the correct answer from a multiple choice, which, believe it or not, makes it harder. (A few times I've worked out the correct answer quickly, but the mouse slipped and I selected the number next to the one I wanted.) In the meantime, you're racing the CPU to the top of the mountain and collecting powerups such as the ability to stop the opponent from moving or to remove all but two of the multiple choices. If you answer incorrectly or not at all, you'll slide backwards.

As you play through the levels, your side of the mountain will get longer and less steep, so that you have to answer more questions faster than the CPU. You'll have a larger number of multiple choices, making the chances of quickly clicking the wrong answer higher. However, if you do lose, you have a number of lives, so you can opt to "Continue" after the level has been lost. When you lose, you get to keep any powerups you haven't used, so I suggest you save powerups as much as you can.

This game is similar to a test administered by some recruitment companies where you have to quickly select the correct answer to a maths problem, so you may find it valuable to get a bit of practice on Math Mountain. If you're not very good at arithmetic, this is a fun way to practice.

(This review is intended for Jay Is Games, but I want it on my blog so I can get at it. I'm a math retard and need all the practice I can get!)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Could you have Asperger Syndrome?

Those of you who have wondered whether their geekery actually tips over into pathology can now whip yourselves into a frenzy of self-doubt with the Asperger Test, although if you're in a frenzy of self-doubt it's probably safe to assume you don't have it.

I was simultaneously relieved and confused to get a "Typical woman" score. Given that I've been accused of being autistic (thanks Dad) and a nerd, I wonder if that score is attributable to my recent run of regular happy-pill taking and sudden spike in income (it's surprising how much less shy and geeky you become when you can afford to stand a round).

Spill blog

Greg Wadley of the Spill record label (and, far more importantly, legendary loser-core band New Waver) has started a blog called Letters to the Editor. It's rather good, so check it out.

New Waver:
Dying Patients
4'33" Techno Remix
On Prozac

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Free Play Indie Game Developer Conference

If you've come here from, chances are you're in the US and can't attend this event, but you may get some joy from looking through the schedule and blog for the Next Wave Free Play Independent Game Developers Conference. If you are in the area, it's a one-day conference held in Melbourne, Australia, with a bargain basement price.

Topics include:

Can't Touch This, 11am
Move on from game pads, keyboards and mice and learn
how to create sensor-driven games.

Get Your Feet Wet, 1pm
Create a game in eight easy steps, without programming. (3D Game Studio)

The Best Things in Life are Free, 2pm
This session will provide an overview of the various open
source technologies and engines available to developers.

Playing with Pixels and Politics, 3pm
What is the potential for games to say something other than "BOOM!"?

18 August 2007 at ACMI
9:30am to 8:30pm
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne
$20 Full
$15 Concession & Student
03 8663 2583 for bookings

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

JayIsGames Flash Game Design Competition #4 - "Ball Physics"

We've only just concluded the third competition, but already JayIsGames has announced the fourth Flash Game Design Competition, with a nice distant deadline of October 1st 2007, and the theme "Ball Physics".

I am a bit Beavis and Butthead, and have an idea for a game that involves a wet, twisted-up towel...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yay Wouter!

Congratulations to Wouter Visser, who won both the Casual Game Design Competition #3 AND its Audience Award with Gimme Friction Baby (named for a Turbonegro song - you frickin' rock, Wouter!).

If you enjoyed the soundtrack to Gimme Friction Baby (ironically, the music is kind of shoegazey, quite the opposite of what you'd expect from the title) the band responsible are We vs. Death and their website offers many free downloads. May I recommend:

Wake 44 (the song used in Gimme Friction Baby)
(yes,) we went to Novgorod
mkultra are already gearing up for the Casual Game Design Competition #4, with a longer lead time and even more valuable prizes. If you're an aspiring game designer, keep an eye on the JiG site for an announcement of the theme. Hopefully it'll be more useful than "replay"!

Monday, July 23, 2007

JayIsGames Competition #3!

The third annual JayIsGames Flash Game Design competition - themed "Replay" - is parading the entrants as we speak. It's too late to enter, but you can play the games and vote for the winner of the Audience Prize. The first and second prizes are chosen by JiG reviewers, but the Audience Prize is chosen by PayPal donations of at least USD $1.00 and can add quite a jolt of cash to a talented designer's prize. Alternatively, it can do Great Justice for a designer who for some bizarre reason wasn't chosen by the staff judges.

Here's some of my picks from this year's entrants:

Click to play CGDC3: Karma
Karma fuses the concepts of reincarnation and the Western 7 Deadly Sins to create a game where the aim is to clear your sins and reach salvation with as few reincarnations as possible. It has a few bugs which can make it frustrating to play, but the music, sound effects and visuals are gorgeous and soothing enough to prevent you from hurling the keyboard through the monitor.

Click to play CGDC3: Yalpeyalper
Tonypa's Yalpeyalper is a simple but cute game where you need to eliminate all of the squares in the grid by setting off a chain reaction. Be careful, though - if you're wrong, you'll end up having to replay all of the levels you've previously won.

Click to play CGDC3: Paracaidas
In Paracaidas (parachute in Spanish), you guide a parachutist safely to the target. It doesn't sound like much, but it's beautifully designed and fun to play.

Click to play CGDC3: Gimme Friction Baby
Wouter Visser's Gimme Friction Baby leaves it to you to work out how to play it. Once you do, you simply MUST go back and try to beat your high score... goddammit...

Click to play CGDC3: Timebot
In Timebot, you stand on panels to open doors, etc. Then you kill yourself and reincarnate to actually go through the doors. It's a pretty cool game.

If these games don't do it for you, there's plenty more at JayIsGames!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Turkish Sign of the Cow

Turkish women attempt to increase their parliamentary representation.

I wish them well, but what I really want to know is: what the hell is this woman doing?

I'm gonna take a punt and guess that a devout veiled Muslim lady isn't calling on our semi-inflated dark lord to support the women's parliamentary bid, but then I'm not sure that she's calling on the support of Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Pink et al (although that would be kinda cool). I've heard that the "horned hand" gesture is to ward off "the evil eye" - is it a hope for good luck in this context?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Consult Me For All You Want To Know

Sam Turner is a prolific blogger whose latest blog (one of five he has going) posts highlights from a 1900 book of household management. It's only just started, so head over there and show some love. Especially for the one where it recommends drinking wine boiled with ginger... to treat diabetes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

mp3s yay!

I'm on an downloading spree at uni before I lose my library privileges this Sunday, and have grabbed some awesome stuff recently.

Our Monk - A Little Monk (bandwidth stolen from Sandwich Club, a great blog of Aussie music that you should totally check out)
Our Monk are from Sydney, and this is a great, Beatle-y track with jangly piano and a jaunty melody suitable for walking out in your zoot suit swinging a diamond-tipped cane. I hope they play Melbourne at some point. (Oh man, I'm checking out Our Monk's myspace and they are more Beatle-y than I imagined, but not in a shitful Oasis-y way.)

Hello Saferide - The Quiz (myspace)
Singer/songwriter Annika Norlin is Swedish, but sounds Irish. The Quiz is a great little (2 and a bit minutes) minimalist song grilling a prospective boyfriend on his bad habits, possibly revealing a few quirks of her own ("Can you always wear socks cos I'm still scared of feet"). Bounce on over to her website to check out her more poppy material.

The New Morty Show - Unskinny Bop
My taste in hair metal runs more to Guns'n'Roses and Motley Crue than (cough) Poison, Bon Jovi (I can't go on, ugh), but this nu-swing version just makes it aaaaaaaaall right.

ROOT! - Shazza and Michelle
It's frankly pretty weird to be able to see a member of TISM's face. This country outfit is TISM quiet man Humphrey B. Flaubert's new joint, with a new album in the pipeline. In keeping with Humphrey's (now "D. C. Root") "good cop" persona, Shazza and Michelle channels all the Pollyanna family values that TISM stood for, a tale of two innocent country nurses who enter the Australian Idol competition and get swept up in the shifting, changing shattering world of fame, fashion, fashion and fame. But nay, our doughty country maidens fall not for the glitz and sleaze of the entertainment world, and return happier and wiser to their country nursing home, smug in the knowledge of having deeper human values than ... ok, it's not quite that bad. It's actually quite sweet-natured, and very catchy in true TISM style. Nevertheless, I am eagerly waiting for Family First to grab a TISM track (And The Ass Said to the Angel, Wanna Play Kick To Kick?, perhaps) for their election campaign.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The G. W. Bush Administration's Freedom Agenda for the Middle East

I've done it. I'm free. I haven't totally humiliated myself (although, if you read that document, you may be able to work out exactly where I threw my hands in the air and hissed "Fuck it").

Monday, June 18, 2007

Non-Stick Plans

Non-Stick Plans is a daily blog of charming cartoons based on terrible puns. This one's called "Supposit Account" (arrrrgh).

Yet more procrastination....

Er... I'm doing my laundry...

What Famous Student Are You?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Minute or Less - more tracks

I posted about A Minute of Less nearly two years ago - but, being such short songs, there's 72 tracks and I haven't gotten around to posting all the good ones. Here's some more.

The Worms - Happy Day - cheery indie pop.
Slurper - Shy Girl - ditto.
Those Acapelicans - Dragoncalf - acapella from Sime Nugent's old band.
Trabampoline - Lions and Tigers and Bears - weird sample madness.
Poohbum - Kennett - angry folk.
The Jizzbuckets - Hanging Out With Ian Curtis - ummmm...

Ed Husain

Ed Husain is the sort of person who is one of the most important weapons in the Global War On Terror (or whatever the hell we're calling it this week). Husain is a former Islamist (author of, funnily enough, The Islamist) who seeks to expose extremism in supposedly mainstream Islamic organisations, and he does this from the perspective of one who remains devout, which gives him somewhat more credibility with the very people vulnerable to hateful ideology than a Hirsi Ali who has become a full-on atheist.

Mr. Husain is in the uncomfortable position of giving fuel to Islamophobes, which is a shame, because clearly he does not adhere to the view that Muslims are inevitably kaffir-hating nutters who seek to establish a worldwide Caliphate. I quite like the fact that he doesn't seem to have replaced Muslim extremism with anti-Muslim extremism, which will make it harder for professional Islamophobes to recruit him.

He laments the mushrooming of Islamic 'peak bodies' in this interview with Alt.Muslim:

Alt.Muslim: The British government sought the help of the Muslim Council of Britain in the past, especially after 7/7, but now they've fallen out of favour. Now the government appears to be looking towards other Muslim organisations, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, as an alternative. Is that the right approach? Should they get different Muslim representative groups together and help them come to a consensus? Or are they pitting Muslims against Muslims?

I'm in two minds about this whole – the creation of different Muslim organisations and, as you say, pitting Muslims against Muslims. Why can't Muslims just be Muslims and participate in civil society as citizens? Why do we need to have all these forums? They inevitably bring on board certain types of individuals and certain groups come with their own agenda and their own baggage. It's like Mosca said, the Italian thinker, that it's the organised minority controlling the discourse of the disorganised majority.

Why can't we just be human beings, be Western citizens of different countries, engage with the existing structure, be it through the political parties or whatever it is that takes our fancy or wherever it is we feel our niche lies – Greenpeace, for example? Engage at that level. Why do we need to have these councils where again and again they've always thrown up that sort of leadership that young Muslims – children of this soil – feel inherently uncomfortable with?
I for one am quite happy to see Australian Muslims stepping forward to form political parties, write op-eds and so on, as it indicates that they are in fact engaged with Australian life rather than withdrawing from it. However, I agree that it would be good to see Muslims visibly involved in mainstream organisations.

Conversely, you should also read Ziauddin Sardar's review of The Islamist, alongside Journey into Islam by Akbar Ahmed, to see its limitations. Husain's insight is valuable, but of course, it's his unique experience.

[EDIT: Good review by Waleed Aly in the Age.]

Sharia - it's not all about getting stoned

This Guardian article about divorce and British Muslims is a good introduction to the breadth of sharia law. It is mostly focused on the tensions between civil and religious marriage, but also gives a glimpse into other issues such as halal food and financial interest.

One slightly upsetting aspect is not with sharia at all, but with British civil law -

...the British courts do not recognise Islamic ceremonies carried out in this country unless they are registered separately with the civil authorities. The result is that some Muslims think they are protected by family law when they are not, and others think they are properly divorced when, in fact, they are still married. In one case, Luton police contacted WLUML [Women Living Under Muslim Laws] after pursuing a man for bigamy who had married in Luton, then flown to Pakistan and married again. After looking into the case, they found that the first marriage was invalid as it had been conducted by an imam in an unregistered mosque. His first wife was left with no legal protection by the family courts, and the husband was free to bring his second wife back to Britain as his legal spouse.

In Australia, the first wife would be protected by the fact that she had been living in a "marriage-like relationship". She would be able to leave the marriage and claim her property and child maintenance. I can't believe that in the early 21st century, Britain doesn't recognise common-law marriage!

Blair's media whinge

Whilst I have a small amount of sympathy, Tony Blair's screed against the modern media is not really anything new. He is, in effect, whining about news values -

Tell me how many maiden speeches are listened to; how many excellent second reading speeches or committee speeches are covered. Except when they generate major controversy, they aren't. If you are a backbench MP today, you learn to give a press release first and a good parliamentary speech second.

Firstly, news values have been like that ever since media have existed. Dog bites man is not news, man bites dog is. When things are going well, there's nothing to report. This is a problem, but it's not unique to today's media-saturated world.

Secondly, is it necessarily a problem that the press release comes before the speech? Surely you would write one and re-purpose it towards the other? Provided that your ideas are fundamentally sound, a dot-point presentation for lazy journalists should not do those ideas any injustice. Commentators like to complain that sound-bite culture erodes the quality of political discussion, and it certainly can - both left and right wingers love to take comments out of context. But soundbites have some value in that it forces the speaker to tightly communicate their point.

The other mistake Blair makes is to assume that all readers are dumbshits who don't take into account context and hyperbole. Plenty are, of course, but many readers (and voters) are perfectly capable of taking into account who the writer/speaker is, what else is going on in the issue, and identifying emotive words like "savage".

As Blair acknowledges, "There is a market in providing serious, balanced news. There is a desire for impartiality. The way that people get their news may be changing, but the thirst for the news being real news is not." The thing is that the real news may still not be what Blair wants to hear.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Two weeks to go - Still procrastinating

gURL.comI took the "Women Warriors" quiz on
My woman warrior is...

When Lakshmibai went to battle, she often consulted all types of political strategists, whether they were books or seasoned warriors. She was also very smart and literate in more than three languages.Read more...

Which woman warrior are you?

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Fauves 1000th Show

My first encounter with The Fauves (aside from liking Henri Matisse in high school, I mean) was when their single "Misguided Modelling Career" was first spun on JJJ. I was attracted to the unique whininess of Coxy's voice and the spiky, off-kilter rhythm. Over the years The Fauves became more 'alternative' - that is, commercial - but, at least for a while, this was in a good way.

One of the awesome things about the early 90s was printed zines. Printed zines uniformly suck these days, since anyone with talent is on the web attracting thousands of readers instead of a few hundred art wankers, but back then they actually meant something. Anyway, I don't know how it happened, but after a big RRR fundraiser in '93 or so, a bunch of people including myself recieved a copy of a zine called Shred and a sample CD.

Shred was not like any other promotional zine. Whereas your average promo zine looked and read like Dolly with less tampon ads, Shred Told It Like It Was. Disinterested venues, unhelpful record companies, disgruntled bandmates, terrible cartoons - it had everything. Shred lives on in the My Say section of the Fauves website (actually, everything about the Fauves website has Doug's Down Vibe written all over it), but the sample CD did not - until now.

Please find attached The Fauves Polydor Promotional Album. It's from about 1993 and has that quirky minimalist thing going. The terse lyrics ("I invented the blues so it's my right to kill it/hear that train a-comin', knock it on the head with a rusty skillet", Orgamosarion) are the Coxy you know and love.

Best of all, the Fauves will be playing their 1000th show at the East Brunswick club on June 8th and all payers will recieve a copy of Prefer Others, a 23-track CD of B-sides. If you like these songs, there is a possibility that at least one may be on this album, and therefore you should go to the show.

Ghosting The Road
Someone Elses' Earthquake
Puffinhead and Manta Ray
High How
Archimedes' Crown

Check out the Fauves bio at Myspace.

Monem freed

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is happy to report that Abdel Monem Mahmoud and several other MB detainees will be released from prison in a couple of days.

Monem Free

This is a surprise event, with no explanation of why they are being released. The presence of comment in the Western press, including the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (!), may have helped here.

Now, as Monem's lawyer points out, they can work on releasing other political prisoners.

Muslim feminists and Hirsi Ali

Good little article in the Age today about the tragedy of high profile ex-Muslim feminist campaigners vs low profile Muslim feminist campaigners:

A hatred of Islam will not aid reform, Hanifa Deen

Unfortunately, Hirsi Ali's continual trashing of Islam alienates many Australian Muslim women activists who also see themselves as agents of change but who are not prepared to turn their backs on what gives meaning to their lives. They will not join in what they see as "Muslim bashing". The bitterness they hear in Hirsi Ali's voice overwhelms them and they observe how her unrelenting message — that Islam is brutal and uncompassionate — is avidly received. In the end, they circle their wagons in defence of Islam, their capacity to be self-critical lessens and they are diverted from the main game of questioning misogynistic traditions. The Muslim women I know don't want to be pitied — they want to be understood — yet unintentionally Hirsi Ali's denunciations have the effect of silencing them.
There are plenty of Muslim liberal activists we (ie Westerners) could be supporting. Here's a short list to be going on with.

Liberal Islam Network, Indonesia
Fatima Mernissi
Muslim WakeUp!
Aswat & Helem (gay rights)
Saudi Arabia Greens Party (illegal in KSA)

Interview with Hanifa Deen about Muslims in Australia

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Root exclamation mark comma the band

An exercise in both kinds of music (country AND western), which TISM fans may find oddly familiar...

ROOT! The Band

(For the benefit of non-Australian readers, the word "root" is a slang term.)

A gig is being played...

Sunday 17th June
Spanish Club
59 Johnston Street Fitzroy (Melbourne, Australia)
2pm kickoff
$15 - it's a big show including Bob Log III, The Meanies, Adam Simmons of Toy Band fame, and a big stack of others, to 'celebrate' the closing of the Spanish Club as a music venue (it's too close to residential homes, apparently).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Persepolis - The Movie

OMG I am so excited! One of my favourite comic books, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, has been made into a movie (in French!), and it looks just as fantastic as the books did. The elegant sharp-edged black and white loses nothing in animation and may actually be improved. For instance, the female hijab-police who pull her up for having exposed hair and (gasp!) a Michael Jackson badge move like cobras. It's very effective.

What's great about it is that it includes Marjane's life as a rock chick - she's into Iron Maiden, if you remember from the comics (her dad sneaks a poster into Iran under his coat). The image of her playing air guitar with a tennis raquet in her room is absolutely priceless. This snippet (below) of Marjane hanging out with cooler, older punk fans is great - I don't speak a word of French and I don't need to to understand this. Cast your mind back to when you thought Foucault was a four-cylinder sedan* and enjoy.

* I was going to buy myself a Foucault, but my dad talked me out of it as the fuel efficiency isn't good...

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Understanding Games
This excellent little series, apparently inspired by Scott McLeod's legendary Understanding Comics, is a kind of half-game half-Flash movie experience that explains the principles that make games worth playing. That link is to the first installment, but links to parts 2, 3 and 4 are on that page. Each Flash movie is mostly just that, but at some point in the presentation allows you to handle the 'game' to experience what the presenters, Bub and Bob, are talking about.

Free Pooky
Great little point and click that's easy enough for nuff-nuffs like me, with an in-game walkthrough that reveals only as much as you need. Vibrant illustration is cheery for a blah day like today. The Worteldrie website has a lot of good kids' games as well.

OMG Scary Room!!1!
AKA AN Escape Series 2.5. Parody of point and click games which is logical (ish), fun and amusing to my mental age of 13. Jayisgames wouldn't run this on account of it contains words like "ass" and has a dildo in it, but they run horror games with severed heads! And, come on, you totally want to play a point and click with a dildo in it.

This is one of those games where you register and create an avatar. As you play games and engage in PvP battle, you level up and get new equipment for your avatar that helps it win battles, perform quests etc. Normally I hate this sort of thing because it makes my clapped-out old computer fall over, but this site loads quickly. The games are a bit limited, but I quite recommend Wet Dreams (! not what you're thinking) and FlashPiper. As you play and submit scores, your energy is reduced and you have to rest, but it also enables you to level up. PvP is a good way of leveling up, as you don't lose anything by participating - even if you lose a match you gain a small amount of experience points. If you win, you gain a large amount! Yay!
On the down side, it seems to take a while to get to the point where you can play quests - I'm level 3 and it's not allowing me into the quests. This gets a bit frustrating. The avatars are... frankly unattractive - actually, hideous would be a better term - but I've managed to make mine look like the late Kurt Vonnegut, which is kind of gratifying. I'm looking forward to finding out what you get as you progress through the levels, though, and at this point, it costs nothing to play.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Does she get her job back now?

For Wolfowitz, a 2nd Chance Dissolves Into Failure

Excellent article about the real issues involved in Paul Wolfowitz's being driven from the World Bank with pitchforks.

I feel really bad for Shaha Riza, because I agree that she shouldn't have had to leave her job. Consider this:

Mr. Wolfowitz contended that it was hypocritical for bank officials to allow Mr. Zhang’s wife to work at the bank but to banish Ms. Riza. Mr. Zhang, now a senior vice president at Citigroup in Hong Kong, was furious, several associates say, because bank rules permit husbands and wives to work at the bank under circumscribed conditions, which Mr. Zhang said he followed, but they bar bank employees from having a sexual relationship with top bank officials outside of marriage. [Mr Zhang's statement may be found here - it's the last of five]

If you're a liberal, put aside your feelings about Wolfie to realise how repulsive this is. OK, I'd hope that this rule is designed to prevent sexual harassment and droit de seigneur and, conversely, favouritism to partners. But where I come from, serious relationships that are not sanctioned by bits of paper are recognised. It is of course hard to know what effect this has actually had on her career, but this will make it hard for her to get work for no crime other than having eccentric taste in men.

In any case, it was found that the Riza issue was not really the problem. The issue was unprecedented for the bank - it can't happen every day that you get a new President with a partner who works in your Middle East section - and the bank agreed that everyone handled the matter poorly. The real issue seems to have been Wolfowitz's propensity to cut the Gordian knot in terms of bank management. For instance:

One official recalled Mr. Wolfowitz dressing down several top employees in the Africa division because they could not tell him whether the incidence of malaria among children had declined as a result of the bank’s program distributing bed nets to families.

I am kind of sympathetic to this because one of the reasons I'm about to launch into a public service career is that I started in an organization where the boss was a really enthusiastic, hands-on sort of a person who also liked to cut the bureaucratic bullshit and get on with the job. It's a tendency I admire. However, my boss didn't complement this tendency with a habit of accusing others of incompetence and corruption! Wolfowitz even managed to alienate the British, which is an impressive achievement.

As you've probably guessed, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Wolfie, despite his multitudinous faults. He has made some genuine efforts to consider the needs of Muslim populations, and seems to have really given a shit about the fate of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein, which you wouldn't say about Cheney or Rumsfeld. Still, his trail of destruction illustrates the dangers of letting academics anywhere near policy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The greatest power-pop band ever, redux - Pash

I have posted this stuff before, but I'm going to do it again because I'm outraged that utter shit (which I am far too superior to name) clogs our airwaves while great bands like Pash go unnoticed. Not all of these tracks are gems (the eponymous track and its remix mostly annoy me), but 'The Force' is quite possibly the greatest power pop non-hit in the history of utter anonymity.

The Force
Friends (Raised By Wolves Remix)
Instant Date
Chronic Bubblehead
Pash (Urban Cadaver Mix by Raised By Wolves)

“if you are amused, you may laugh; if you like it, you may buy the recording.”

John Cage performs "Water Walk" on American game show, 1960

This is utterly charming. (One of the commenters prefers "delightful", which I also find an acceptable description.) John Cage performs a piece for a completely non-avant garde audience (at least, I think so: you never see the studio audience), so the host is obliged to try to explain Cage's work and status (the word "controversial" is used). The commentors make much of the fact that you'd never see something like this on today's mainstream television.

Abjeez, "Arranged Marriage" (Khastegari)

A good 50% of Google searches leading to my blog are related to Abjeez in some way (they've been on tour in the US over the past month, see). In response to my (well, their) adoring crowds, I'm posting this rather charming video. If I'm interpreting the visuals correctly (I don't speak Farsi), one half of the video shows the young man being introduced to the prospective bride, the other half shows the homecoming of a new baby. (It also appears to be an ad for T2 - the tea company, not the Ah-nohld movie.)

I would never piss on the traditions of families who find this arrangement satisfactory, but I would hate to have my parents try to set me up with someone.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cute indie pop necro

Quite a while ago I posted a selection of tracks from an album called A Minute Or Less. Anyhoo, I'd noticed a couple of hits from people looking for that and the Triantiwontigongolo compilation, and I thought I'd update the post with valid links to the songs. Note that I've only updated the "cute indie pop with funny lyrics" sections - I'm not that interested in the noise electronica. Look out for more from that album soon! Click (or you could just visit my box...)

The Moodists

I had the privilege of seeing the Moodists perform "We Had Love" with Kim Salmon at the Corner Hotel a couple of years ago. They have a distinctive bouncy sound that goes well with a dark, beer-smelling, smoky room and a BAC of about .03.

Burnin' Me Some Thing
Chatter Shapes
Frankie's Negative (Live)
The Disciples Know

Taken from the CD Two Fisted Art.