Cannibals and Pirate Lords

I feel guilty for doing nothing.

On my weekends, I spend a lot of my time in books and television. I let it wash over me, but I feel like I should be doing something more constructive with the time.

I feel like I should be working on something, a new language, a new project, a new idea. Or being out with people, somewhere, anywhere.

I guess it’s a struggle between theĀ introvert and extrovert.

On weekends, the introvert tends to win more often than not. I save the extrovert for Monday through Friday it seems, maybe because he is so damned useful at work?

So, this weekend, right now as a matter-of-fact, I am watching some Hannibal… because I can.

And I have a box-set of Pirates of the Caribbean waiting to be studied in detail… because I need to learn to be a better pirate for work-related reasons. Also D&D, but “for work” sounds more interesting and mysterious so that’s what I’m going to label it.

I haven’t quite worked out whether this means I need to let my hair grow or if I need to buy a bandanna and a hat.

Time will tell.

Last Day

I cannot exactly say that 8 weeks felt like the blink of an eye. They definitely felt like A-Long-Time-tm.

And I feel a little guilty about how little of consequence I have done with it, but not too much.

I have managed to re-establish a workable gym routine that had been suffering from too many interruptions last year from around August till November. I can actually do Body Attack again without dying, and my legs feel mostly okay after an hour.

I have read a half dozen fairly lengthy books from the large pile I was indirectly gifted by my former co-workers (a gift certificate well spent!)

I have watched way too many movies, way too much TV, and had a few nice do-nothing days along the way too.

And most importantly, I feel completely relaxed.
Which bodes well for tomorrow, the coming month, and the years beyond.

Campaign Monitor, here I come!
I must remember to take pictures along the way.

Day 332 – Quality Storytelling

34 – 100 Worst Movies

I have to confess something…
I like quite a few of the movies on this list.

I wonder if they perhaps wrote it down wrong, because the list of Dishonourable Mentions looks much more disreputable than the main list at the top.

But first; let me confess the movies that I actually enjoy…
Continue reading Day 332 – Quality Storytelling

Day 326 – Renaissance

40 – 100 Best Australian Albums

I haven’t listened to the radio in over a decade. I haven’t really watched television for almost as long. My life has been devoid of advertisements for so long that I cannot even remember what it’s like to have my entertainment interrupted by them.
Continue reading Day 326 – Renaissance

Day 295 – Not Quite Real

71 – The 100 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

As always, Wednesday is my hectic day at work. It is my own fault; I’ve put all my one-on-one catch-ups on the same single day. It’s just that Wednesday is a perfect mid-point to the week where enough has happened to evaluate where we are, and enough time is left to act on any decisions we make. I know Manager-Tools canon suggests Thursday as ideal, but I think they might be wrong šŸ˜‰

Between all the work there was a lunch at The Sherlock, dragging along a Test Manager on his Melbourne trip. We’re always trying to convince others of the wonders of a good pub lunch.

And tonight I brought two more converts into the fold with 11″ Pizza. After three pizzas for three managers we decided that deciding on dessert was all too hard and picked two dessert pizzas as well. We had Banana-and-Butterscotch and Chocolate-with-crumbed-Pistachio for dessert. I am full to a level of no-regrets. And it didn’t actually cost all that much either. 11″ Pizza is a well-hidden “secret” just off Little Collins Street.

Dinner was a relatively quick affair as well, so being back in my hotel room at 8pm with no pressing matters on my plate, I picked one of the 100-item-links that I thought might take a bit more time.

Out of the 100 movies, I’ve seen 59. I think I can do better. And especially some of the older titles earlier in the list look like they might be very interesting. I will have to add a few more entries to my shopping list.

A lot of the higher ranked titles are sadly also much more mainstream and commercial.

“Dark City” is a great example of a novel concept executed well; the effects are a little cheesy at the end, but that is easily forgiven in light of earlier scenes of people being reset and the world rearranging itself like a puzzle-box.

“Cube” is another favourite of mine, although I’m not getting much support from my friends on this. The simplest of sets and a minimal cast woven into a very compelling story of torture, betrayal and survival. “Cube 2” was a little more Sci-Fi and I think it might have taken it a bit too hi-tech. I have yet to see “Cube Zero”, as soon as I locate a copy.

“eXistenZ” … I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. It has something, but I am not sure how to classify it. It starts, then a lot of very weird stuff happens, and then it finishes. I’m not sure what genre that is exactly.

I do want to make it my mission to see the remaining 41 titles on the list though. Because the titles I have seen give me enough respect for the quality of the list as a whole that I want to fill in the gaps left in my education.

Day 264 – Gain and Loss

I didn’t get to bed till about 2am last night. I got sucked in by my movie/tv spread sheet, and The Stubborn got the better of me. I added release years to most of the 650 lines of movie entries on my sheet, and researched Amazon and eBay prices for most of the series I am interested in.

As I fell into bed, I knew I had to be up and awake again by 10, because I had committed to being able to open the front door for The Hired Help (Abbey’s parents). I wasn’t looking forward to my Flex trying to wake me at 7:30, and then my phone trying again at 8:15. I could have made it 9:00, but then I’d have to rush my wake-up routine to be ready in case of early arrivals.

I wasn’t surprised to feel unimpressed at my Flex. My eyes did that burny-groggy thing that means I need to shut them again. I rolled onto my front and hid my face in the pillow; this usually is a bad idea for my neck, but 45 minutes wasn’t going to kill me. I couldn’t really sleep any more, but just letting my mind wander slowly through the essentials of the day is as good a way as any to prepare for the inevitable.

At 8:15 I dutifully got up, checked the email for any unclaimed Nigerian millions, my eBay listing for yet more untold riches unfolding, and Facebook for signs of a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. A quick shower later (this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, but that’s another story), and I was sitting back in front of the PC with my sandwiches and a glass of water.

I felt better than I had anticipated.

After Abbey’s mum arrived it became clear almost immediately, why. I had completely not realised that the clock was moving this weekend. I had slept an hour longer than I thought I had. A whole 6-and-a-half! Luxury!

I’ve spent the better portion of today ripping some movies and series to the QNAP, in between reading, doing shopping runs, and listening to pod-casts.

In the process of all this cataloguing I have come to realise that despite the impressive stacks of discs, all is not as it should be. I know for sure that I have a copy of Amelie, I had at least one season of Pushing Daisies, and my Galaxy Quest is also nowhere to be found. I have searched the house for a hidden cache, to no avail. I may have to interrogate Abbey next, because she’s the prime suspect at this stage. If that doesn’t yield anything I may have to do a grid-search and dig up the yard to find where they are buried.

Or…

…I guess I could just buy whatever cannot be found and pretend like I never had it in the first place. I added a new “Loaned to” column to the spread sheet, because it isn’t entirely impossible that some of these discs were loaned out and all parties involved have long-since forgotten. The honour-system only works when everyone has perfect memories; alas, a fatal flaw.

I’ve been trying to arrange my thoughts for a technical post, but I’ve also come to the realisation that my multitasking-habit is getting in the way of solid thinking. I’ve gotten so used to 1) listening to a pod-cast or watching an episode, while 2) casually half-reading a web-page or RSS feed, whilst trying to 3) do the productive thing I am meant to be doing… I think I do it to try and make the most of my weekend. Because relaxation is something one multi-tasks, right?

I’m going to have to un-learn that bad habit.
Focus on one thing at a time on my weekend.
I bet I’ll feel more fulfilled by the end of my weekends.

My next holiday over Easter/ANZAC-day can be no-multi-task-bootcamp. My first hurdle to clear is to avoid the panic over the feeling my holiday won’t be productive. I’m going to have to let that be part of the point of the exercise. Maybe I’ll go to Wet’n’Wild on days where the urge to be productive is the highest; a form of shock-therapy as you will.

Link Triage – On Sexism

Some links I had bookmarked are on the topic of sexism. I had planned to build a grand post linking it all together, but I think that is beyond my ability to pull off well enough.

My slightly less ambitious approach below is to just explain the links I collected (and some additions I found specifically for this post) and why I did.

Note that it has been a while I reviewed these links in detail. I will do my best to skim all of them and put warnings where needed before hitting “Publish”, and most of them will have been written by authors careful to put their own warnings on, but a blanket trigger warning might be appropriate here.

In Comics

It must have been a couple of years back that I first saw a post on Boing Boing on this topic. Everyone knows how female super-heroes … let’s say, do not have exactly the same kinds of outfits as the men. The standard counter-argument revolves around how unrealistic the male characters look as well… except they do not get put into over-sexualised poses at the same time.

An Equal Serving: Not so Comfortable
(via: Boing Boing)

It’s funny how images like this elicit “ow my eyes” and “make-it-go-away” style comments from guys that’d otherwise make the exact argument I reference above. Hypocrisy much?

In my efforts to try to re-find this image which I unfortunately hadn’t bookmarked, I came across another few good links on the same topic:

  • The Hawkeye Initiative (trigger warning) – which takes submissions of “fan” art that places Hawkeye in the poses of female characters; I haven’t checked the comments, and I recommend you don’t either
  • The Avengers Re-imagined – perhaps a little over-the-top (I think the artist has something for asses), but the point stands

On the flip-side of this particular coin, there is a Tumblr that specifically has images of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. It’s what it says on the packaging. Again, I’d recommend against reading the comments, but the images should be okay.

In Gaming

That last link above belongs in this section as much as the previous one. There is another Tumblr called Repair Her Armor that takes images of skimpily clad female characters and fixes them up. There is one specific post that digs into the dire state of female outfits in most MMORPGs though: Clothes I’m Forced to Wear in the Majority of MMORPGs.

Functional Armor

Now, let’s not get too stuck on clothing… it’s not the only problem surrounding women in gaming by a long shot, but it may well contribute to some of the other problems.

There is a series of very worthwhile videos by Feminist Frequency on YouTube that deal with the Damsel-In-Distress situation in games. It’s more dire and pervasive than you might think:

And let’s be clear, as Anita Sarkeesian herself suggests; there is nothing wrong with enjoying the games. But it’s important to acknowledge the problematic and pervasive dis-empowering stereotypes these games are commonly built upon. I hadn’t realised how common the Damsel-in-Distress is until she put loads of them back-to-back Daily-Show-style.

Then, early last year there was a story surrounding a Capcom fighting competition turned reality show (trigger warning). There is a video that shows how a female member of the team being shown gets harassed. And the story includes gems that equate the fighting game community with sexual harassment. By the coach of one of the teams. It’s stomach-curdling.

Unfortunately this isn’t unique to fighting games.

And it’s also not unique to the players alone. The story of Jennifer Hepler who got stalked and harassed on the Internet (trigger warning) for indicating in an interview that she doesn’t like playing games so much as experiencing the stories they contain. Her job? She’s one of the writers for Dragon Age. The same players that enjoyed her contributions to the story of the game ended up crucifying her over the admission that story matters more to her than play.

In Movies

Ever hear of the Bechdel Test?

It’s a very simple test that requires the following three things from a movie, and these three things alone:

  1. It must have at least two women in it
  2. They must talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

Surely that cannot be a very difficult bar to clear for a movie? You’d be surprised. Painfully and unpleasantly surprised.

Enjoyable Movie, but Fatally Flawed in One Way

Some recent movies that fail to clear this low bar:

  • The Lone Ranger
  • Monsters University
  • Pacific Rim
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • The Avengers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure
  • Looper
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • The Muppets
  • Rango
  • Kick-Ass

This is by no means comprehensive, I just picked a few of the most recognisable titles for the list. And all the ones I’ve seen were very entertaining and I would see again. But that doesn’t change how troubling the systemic nature of this fundamental story flaw is. Many more movies that technically pass would fail the test if it required a whopping 60 seconds of conversation fitting the aforementioned requirements, so let’s not even go there.

In Science and Technology

This one I feel least able to be objective about, so instead of doing my own writing I will summarise the links I had bookmarked on this topic. They are all worth a read for what it’s worth.

I haven’t checked every article below in detail, so a general trigger warning applies… and again, don’t read the comments. Never a good idea on these kinds of posts.

Generally Speaking

I’m not sure why this post.

Actually, I am. Going through life as a straight white male is the lowest difficulty setting possible, and sometimes it’s good to remind myself of what a very common higher difficulty setting can look like.