Saturday, April 21, 2007

Is Your Child A Goth?

(Thanks to Pascal.) This is either funny or tragic. I don't know if the article is for real, but I would not be surprised.
So many things are too funny, apparently it is a "sign your child is goth" if:
* He or she claims to be one! (Never be afraid of pointing out the obvious.)
* He or she masturbates. (Yes, that should catch quite a few of the elusive buggers.)
* Wants some time without adult supervision. (No kids ever wanted that before the Goth culture corrupted them.)

Actually on consideration I think it's a spoof, though a good one. I doubt even the most radical soul saver would classify "philosophy" as a "dangerous cult".

Update: You know, the surefire way to change your child's mind about being a goth would be to become one yourself. In a town with middle-aged goths walking the streets, the black and white make-up would be off those kids faces faster than you can say "Kenny G rocks".

Is Your Child a Goth?

Listed below are some warning signs to indicate if your child may have gone astray from the Lord. Gothic (or goth) is a very obscure and often dangerous culture that young teenagers are prone to participating in. The gothic culture leads young, susceptible minds into an imagined world of evil, darkness, and violence. Please seek immediate attention through counselling, prayer, and parental guidance to rid your child of Satan's temptations if five or more of the following are applicable to your child.

-Frequently wears black clothing.
-Wears band and/or rock t-shirts.
-Wears excessive black eye makeup,lipstick or nail polish.
-Wears any odd silver jewelry or symbols.
-Shows an interest in piercings or tattoos.
-Listens to gothic or any other anti-social genres of music. (Marilyn Manson claims to be the anti-Christ, and publicly speaks against the Lord. Please discard any such albums IMMEDIATELY.)

-Associates with other people that dress, act or speak eccentrically.
-Shows a declining interest in wholesome activities, such as: the Bible, prayer, church or sports.

-Shows an increasing interest in death, vampires, magic, the occult, witchcraft or anything else that involves Satan.
-Takes drugs.

-Drinks alcohol.
-Is suicidal and/or depressed.
-Cuts, burns or partakes in any other method of self-mutilation.(This is a Satanic ritual that uses pain to detract from the light of God and His love. Please seek immediate attention for this at your local mental health center.)
-Complains of boredom.
-Sleeps too excessively or too little.
-Is excessively awake during the night.
-Demands an unusual amount of privacy.
-Spends large amounts of time alone.
-Requests time alone and quietness. (This is so that your chid may speak to evil sprits through meditation.)
-Insists on spending time with friends while unaccompanied by an adult.
-Disregards authority figures; teachers, priests, nuns and elders are but a few examples of this.

-Misbehaves at school.
-Misbehaves at home.
-Eats excessively or too little
-Eats goth-related foods. Count Dracula cereal is an example of this.
-Drinks blood or expresses an interest in drinking blood. (Vampires believe this is how to attain Satan. This act is very dangerous and should be stopped immediately.)

-Watches cable television or any other corrupted media sources. (Ask your local church for proper programs that your child may watch.)
-Plays videos games that contains violence or role-playing nature.
-Uses the internet excessively and frequently makes time for the computer.
-Makes Satanic symbols and/or violently shakes head to music.
-Dances to music in a provocative or sexual manner.
-Expresses an interest in sex.

-Is homosexual and/or bisexual.
-Pursues dangerous cult religions. Such include: Satanism, Scientology, Philosophy, Paganism, Wicca, Hinduism and Buddhism. -
Wears pins, stickers or anything else that contains these various phrases: "I'm so gothic, I'm dead", "woe is me", "I'm a goth".
-Claims to be a goth.

If five or more of these apply to your child, please intervene immediately. The gothic culture is dangerous and Satan thrives within it. If any of these problems persist, enlist your child into your local mental health center.

Alex called out:
Soccer spent many a happy decade being a fun sport, then in the 80's it became a gathering place for thugs, the honorable team rivalry being replaced by gang violence.

There is always a fringe of bad apples which spoil the proverbial it for the rest. They are the ones that get noticed, and the popular press and popular opinion takes on the prejudice.

My parents are concerned about the internet, they've seen how even the most innocent of sites like "Friends Reunited UK" have been used for mischief, libel and slander. I know I've found some interesting lost friends, and just one or two abuses of the system have lead to a media barrage showing the frailty of the system.

There's a very powerful anti-prejudice song on Pink Floyds "The Wall", the lyrics if taken out of context of the album, can be mistaken as inciting hate crime, instead of being a blatant parody. "The Wall" is a film full of depression, suicidal tendency, self mutilation and violence. It carries very powerful messages, but any part of it can be taken out of context and misconstrued, and seen simply as glorified violence and licentious behavior.

Here's an interesting point, the main figure in "The Wall" was portrayed by the punk rock star Bob Geldof KBE, formerly of the boom town rats. That is KBE as in Knigh t of the Order of the British Empire for humanitarian works, a punk rock star!

Another famous humanitarian is Bono, an Irish rock star from a band called U2, a band which started by covering punk bands such as The Ramones.

Punks were regarded with more fear an suspicion in the 80's then Goths are now.

Funny old world. Don't judge a book by its cover, or even which shelf it's on.

Mud houses

I find out (from Grand Designs) that not only are maybe a third of the world's buildings build from actual mud, but even many buildings in England are. I could understand it in dry climates, but England? What is keeping the walls together over the decades and centuries? There's no binder in mud... (Apart from straw sometimes, which is also not something I'd have imagined wanting to rely on to keep the roof up.) Anybody wise?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Emma and Stephen

Talking about Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry, here they are in their youth, but with talents fully flowering, in a Cambridge Footlights sketch. This is just awesome. They pretty much make it funny just by caricature of olden days speech. I ripped this for yer pleasuh.

By the way, notice the fine image quality. I've found out that if you overshoot the quality for YouTube in the files you upload, you get very good quality compared to most you see there.

Update: disrelated, a recent interviw with Emma.

Cerebus by Dave Sim

Cerebus by Dave Sim is certainly one of the most remarkable comics ever created. This is obvious even from mere numerical facts:
Cerebus was:
1) 300 issues
2) 6,000 pages
3) 27 years in the making
4) One long story
5) highly seminal
6) drawn and written by one man
7) was always published on time

...Number six is only partly true: for most of the run, Writer/artist Dave Sim was aided by superb background artist Gerhard. His amazing, detailed pen-art background are unsurpassed.

Reading Cerebus is sometimes a frustrating experience though. Not really because of much variance in quality (though obviously there has to be that too), but because of the variance in style. Dave Sim was/is a fabulous humorist and fantast, but in some stretches, especially in the last 100 issues (!!) he tended to veer into long-winded philosophical and religious text narratives, only interspersed with a few drawings. To make it worse, some of those passages had tiny, tiny, tiny text and were near-impossible to read in my opinion (both due to type size and content). And some of them were philosophically, er, on the edge, and have been called misogynist.

Dave Sim says he has no long term friends. It seems that about half way into making Cerebus, reading the bible for research, he got religion big time, and he now has his own highly idiosyncratic mixture of Christianity and Islam, probably mixed with other stuff too, and he prays ritualistically several times a day at set times. He is easy to get at, he will answer his phones and he has answered several of my letters over the years. But in later years it is near-impossible to talk about anything without somehow touching on an issue he has problems with and being called a "feminist", which he does not mean as a compliment. Dave Sim says he is literally the last real male on the planet, the rest are male feminists, living under the thumb of "The Void" as he calls the feminine side of the universe. He is a minority of one, and the only one who really sees the truth. Heady stuff.

But Cerebus is still a unique work, and I'm sure nobody will ever equal it. It is bizarre, beautiful, fascinating, and often fall-over funny. Just one thing would make it worth reading: the caricatures. Sim made the most amazing caricatures of popular heroes as well as real people like Groucho Marx and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The drawings and the speech are unmatched in skill and hilarity.

Note: if you want to try it, I recommend starting with the second volume ("phone books" is the official name for these bricks), called "High Society". Dave Sim really hit his stride in this one, and Gerhard joined him to improve the art no end.

Steve B. helps out:
1) He wasn't always on time, but he always caught up. He fell several months behind at one point, then shipped issues every three weeks for a year or so, so the cover dates all *look* like he published them all on time.

2) There's no Gerhard art in "High Society." That's all Dave. Gerhard joined with issue #65, which is about halfway through the first volume of "Church & State."

Otherwise, nice summation. Dave's strange version of Islam is more influenced by Judaism than Christianity, I think, though he does accept the Scriptures of all three as the Holy Word of God -- but he has a pretty weird take on just what that all means, starting with the fact that the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Koran are all part of an ongoing dialogue between God and YHWH (which is not God's Ineffable Name but one of God's creations who thinks She's God -- it's a looooong story). He also thinks there were two different Jesuses (Jesus's?), neither of which was truly the Son of God.

But the comic book sure is good.

Cell phones galore

Going about town, if I see a young person without a cell phone glued to their head, I wonder if theirs is broken.
What are they all talking about??

A Bit of Fry and Laurie

"I suppose if I'm honest, I have been using my penis as a sort of car substitute." - Stephen Fry.

I warmly recommend A Bit of Fry and Laurie, British comedy show from the early nineties.
It is funny, actually, how clearly one can spot the development of films and TV show over the times. I thought that this show was from the early eighties, and that puzzled me. It was simply too good, too sharp. Too avant garde.

An example of their brilliance is the continuing sketch series about the head of British intellingence, "Control". I'm sure that if you look at the scripts for it, it is silly and not very funny at all. What gives it its unique humor is the way both Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry plays their roles as if the show was a cheap and poor TV show with very stilted and bad actors. And yet they do it with subtlety. These guys are really good.

Quoth TTL :
"In my case you are preaching to the converted. I am a huge fan, with every episode on DVD.

I have come to the conclusion that this series is the most linguistically sophisticated comedy ever broadcast on TV. In addition to being hilariously funny, the best sketches are quite simply great poetry.

The lovely Emma Thompson gets credit for bringing Fry and Laurie together."

Emma Thompson, lovely? Not half! as the Brits say. (That's an empatic agreement.)

Update: while watching another show, Q.I., in which Stephen Fry hosts, I had the realization that Fry is just frightening intelligent. It's not that he rubs it in anybody's face, but there was just something about the way he speaks that suddenly made it clear to me. He speaks colloqually, but with great clarity and precision, never any muddiness or mistakes. You just get the presence of a big mind.

I do think, though, that in Q.I. at least sometimes he made one too many gay jokes, him being just slightly too much "out". It's not all that funny or interesting, in my taste. As far as I'm concerned he can be into donkeys or watermelons, it's all the same to me.

He starred of course in the excellent film "Wilde". This interview talks about that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Big Numbers

Big Numbers depicted in pictures.

"Big Numbers" is not the title of this art, it is just a title I gave it, a nostalgic nod to an Alan Moore comic from the early nineties which sadly was aborted. Sad because it promised to be one of the most seminal "comic" books ever made. It was totally ground breaking both visually and story-telling technique wise. Only two of ten issues came out, and it seems no more ever will. I miss it.


Scrat from Ice Age I and II may be the funniest animated character ever.
I am just watching Ice Age II, and the first scene here had me laughing so hard I was afraid of stomach cramps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


... and in this case, the literal kind.
I like this picture, from Mike Johnston, quite a lot. It has an unusual composition, and it's very... peaceful.

Philippe Carly NYC pictures

Philippe Carly NYC pictures

Monday, April 16, 2007

God speaks up in the Onion

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

From a September 2001 issue of the satirical mag The Onion. I can't believe I never heard of this one.

Pixar's Cars

"Cars" is the first Pixar movie I did not buy immediately. But finally I got tired of waiting for the rental copy, and I bought it.

The delay was due to the trailer not really doing much for me. Also, I felt that cars is a dubious choice for animated characters. Unlike bugs or toys, they don't have arms or faces, so it's a little forced, methinks.

That said, I'd have to say they pulled it off. Actually, looking at real cars after having seen this movie, I half expect them to move and open their eyes.

"Cars" is not the best or funniest Pixar movie. My faves are Monsters Inc, Toy Story 2, and The Incredibles. But "Cars" was still very worthwhile, I enjoyed it. And it is visually gorgeous. The scenery especially is amazing.

If you get the DVD, be sure not to miss the extras. The two shorts included, for one thing, are falling-over funny.

I also appreciate the basic message of the movie: winning is not everything. The western world is still a bit fixated on Being Number One. And contests can be fun and they can be inspiring, but ultimately they are just games, they are not life.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hans Christian Andersen

Free download of tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
Powerful Danish writer, and not just for kids anymore.

Means and language

Final Identity has left a new comment on the post "The Millionaire Next Door":

I'm a genius at living below my means. I think extended time as a graduate student is a real boon to anyone who wants to learn to lower their material expectations.

My problem is earning, in the first place. When I say I can live below my means, my "means" are usually below what I should be getting, for someone as talented and bright as myself.

Oh, and about that self-publishing link. The dude says that he is "oblivious" to his own talent as a writer; that he can do it without effort, in the manner that a great discus-thrower would seem effortless to a beginner.

Well, I got news for him. I'm oblivious to his talent as a writer, too. He ain't got none, as far as I can tell.

Self-publishing may allow you to claim, "I'm a published author," or it may even allow you to make a lot of money off your production. But it doesn't mean that your book is any good, even if a jillion people buy it. (I suppose somewhere around a hundred-thousand-google dollars, on the way to half-a-jillion, you start not to care about whether it's any good, as you work out the complicated real estate logistics that will allow you to buy your second Caribbean island, but that's a different issue.)

When I write, I want it to be good. I know that editors at publishing houses, vaguely, in some manner, have a good sense of what "deserves" to be published. I know as well that their desire to publish good literature is mitigated by their need to publish marketable commodities, so it isn't always just a matter of writing well. But at least when the imprimatur is offered by a larger organization than merely myself, a place that has a lot of employees who have some degree of education and expertise in the field, then I start to think maybe I'm doing something well.

Eh, just call me an elitist. I could "self publish" a book of poems tomorrow. That doesn't mean I'm going to be the next Czeslaw Milosz.

Some comments:
I like how F.I. calls himself "talented and bright". I don't understand how some people are offended by others having a high opinion of themselves. Perhaps it is envy because these people don't manage to have a high opinion of themselves, I don't know. I think everybody should have a high opinion of themself. Not an inflated or unrealistic one, but a sound and robust one.

I agree with F.I. that John Reed is not a great writer, prose wise. But, swiftly choosing a standpoint here: so what? He is clearly helping a lot of people with his books, and he is keeping a lot bigger part of the profits than if he had used a separate publisher and distributor (or so he says, and I see no reason to think he is lying or delusional). Is that really less valuable than somebody who is writing the finest prose or poetry known to man, and who is published by some academic press at 500 copies, 23 of which ever get read?

Maybe traditional publishers have a role. But maybe it's smaller than they think. Just yesterday I was on the phone with the talented Gemma Gariel, and she is working with many publishers trying to get several books published, and she is exasperated by the low cultural level of the people she is working with. And when all comes to all, they are just a middle man, whose importance is being undermined by the Internet. If you need an editor, hire one! Probably you can find a better one than whatever 23-year-old a publisher would stick a beginning author with.

About Denmark

I just read part of the much circulated article: How The Do It Better. (A disection.)

Something struck me, this sentence: "So how come the Danes are the happiest people in the world? Living in the dark, no less".

I always have to correct people on this. Because Denmark is part of Scandinavia together with Norway, Sweden, and Finland, people think it is a very cold and dark country. But if you just look at a map, you'll see that not only is it no more north than England, but like England it is surrounded by water, and even the warm Gulf Stream, which keeps the country mild in the winter. Hard frost is actually pretty rare in Denmark, and the summers can get very warm, too warm for me. (Oddly, it is a bit cooler here in Lancashire, UK, I don't know why.)