Sunday, 31 March 2013

Introducing - Parody Week

Today is the 31st of March, or Easter Sunday. Which means that tomorrow is the first of April, or April Fool's Day. With these two holidays so close together, one would think that I'd have something to say about either one, but I don't, not really. See, I don't know much about Easter except for my Fun Fact of the Day: Do you know what Easter bunnies and eggs have to do with Easter? Sex. It's all about sex, because Easter is about rebirth (of Jesus). Eggs are obvious, that's where baby birds/reptiles hatch from, and bunnies are well known for mating 'like rabbits', so it makes sense when you think about it.
As for April Fool's Day, I like the idea. It's a fun celebration, where people can play practical jokes on others and have a bit of a laugh. I would, perhaps, do a post or something to celebrate, but I'm not really one for pulling off practical jokes. It's a bit too difficult, I reckon. So I've decided to do something much harder. In celebration of the holiday all about joking around, I've decided to have a little fun of my own.
The Word of the Day is: 'PARODY'.

Parody /'parədee/ n. 1. A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature, writing or music. 2. A badly done imitation; travesty. ♦v.t. 3. To imitate (a composition, author, etc.) in such a way as to ridicule.

You know, ever since I started blogging, I came up with some ideas for cool posts and things I could do to both entertain you, and have a lot of fun myself as I try to stretch my writing muscles. One of these ideas I came up with was inspired by xkcd, the webcomic by Randall Munroe. In his earlier years of drawing comics, he decided to pay tribute to some of the other comics around the web by spending five days drawing in their style and writing in their manner to subtly mock their stranger aspects.
He did this under the banner of "Parody Week".
Now, Randall Munroe's xkcd is not the only webcomic to parody other comics, hell it wasn't even the first. But I was intrigued by this 'Parody Week' idea, and I wondered if I could something like it myself.

The idea is simple, I will write my blog in the style of other blogs for every day of one week. But there's a reason why I waited till April to do this, and it's not just because of April Fool's Day. I needed time to do research and find seven good blogs; I needed to brainstorm, work out my angle & understand their style and I also needed to see how far I could stretch the confines of blogger's HTML so I could make my blog look like the ones I was parodying. After all this time, I believe I'll be able to do it, and I'm going to, but I needed to give you guys a heads up, as this will be a little different from the usual.
The reason I write every three days rather than daily is because it takes time and effort to write blog posts, and I need time between each or I'll burn out. But for Parody Week, the plan is to write a post every day. So to make sure I don't fry my brain, I'm taking next week off.
Parody week officially starts on the 7th of April, 2013. I'll post every day for seven days. Then, after all seven posts, I will take the next week off to relax, before I continue blogging normally.
I want you to know beforehand so you don't freak out when I stop posting. I know how much this blog means to you, and I wouldn't want to upset your day with something so traumatic.

Now, according to Dictionary, parody is mostly a mean thing to do, since it's often used to ridicule. So I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not making fun of these websites to offend them, or because I don't like them. I do like them, and I read most of them quite often.
I'm just pointing out that there are some common themes or styles in these blogs, and I want to see if I can write as well as them. And where I make fun, I do so because I find the ideas amusing.

See, there's at least two ways to parody something: mockingly or reverently.
Mocking Parody is akin to when you tell people about the driver who cut you off in traffic. You often call the target bad names, and if you quote them often choose to do so in a condescending manner with the most annoying voice you can imitate (often high pitched or with poor grammar).
Reverent Parody is akin to when you tell people about a good football or sporting match you just saw. You often exaggerate the drama, adding sound effects as you mime the lead player and generally try to invoke in others the joy that you felt when you first saw the match.
I came to understand a lot of what I know about styles of parody sort of thing because of the Nostalgia Chick's video on "Dreamworks vs Disney: Dualing", but I the sentiment was originally portrayed in the quote:

  "In every spoof I make real love to the things I am spoofing."


If you are making fun of something because you hate it, then it can come across as unnecessarily cruel, and some people do not respond as well towards it, especially those that you're parodying. That's not to say that there's no place for unkind or mocking parody, it can be used to illustrate a point, but since my goal is entertainment, you can look forward to seven posts about websites that I love. In fact, since I enjoy them so much, I recommend that you check them out after seeing my rendition. If you're looking for some good online reading material, these websites a good place to start looking.

As for who I plan on parodying . . . well, I want it to be something of a surprise, but let's just say I'll be doing a parody of seven of my favourite websites and online journals. If you want to know who, you can tune in every day next week and see for yourself!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Why I Hate Muslim Men

This isn't about Religion. It easily could be, but it isn't. Because I want to say that first: I don't really have a problem with Islam.
I mean, yes, it's 'wrong'; but then again every religion that relies on faith to answer the important questions is wrong. I mean, I'm an Atheist . . . but that's not the problem. Also, I have to admit that, at one point, I did hate Islam. To me it seemed oppressive, sexist, xenophobic, short-sighted and vile. But then I looked into it.
See, my father is something of an amateur religious historian. He looks up all kinds of stuff to do with Jesus' life as a human being, and the historical events that can be proven and associated with the man (whether he was God's son or not).
I'm not Christian, but I like history, and I find it fascinating. My father often talks about the disparity between scripture, meaning and reality; and he also happens to have a copy of the Qu'ran (that's how I'm choosing to spell it. It's a foreign word, so there is no 'correct' spelling, but I spell it that way because it makes sense to me).
So I actually looked up some of those pieces of 'scripture' that oppress, hate & all that other crap, and I realized something.
I don't hate Islam. I hate Muslim Men.
The Word of the Day is: 'ISLAMOPHOBIA'.

Islamophobia /'izlahməfōbeeə/ n. Hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture.

This epiphany of mine all started on the 8th of December, 2012. I can give you the exact date, because I wrote a Facebook post about it, back when I still used Facebook all the time.
It started when this man with a beard was handing out pamphlets in my local shopping centre. I must live in a cheap suburb or something, as new arrivals into Australia tend to move here so they can get on their feet; and this fellow was handing out pamphlets titled 'misconceptions about Islam'.
Now you may be reading this, knowing the premise of the post, and thinking:
  'So what? You read a pamphlet and it changed your view? Who cares?"
But that's the thing . . . I read this pamphlet, which was all about explaining how Islam wasn't sexist, and I was furious. Because that pamphlet was one of the most sexist things I had ever read. Let me reiterate what I wrote in that Facebook post, and explain what made me so mad.

See, the pamphlet was right. Despite what we're told, or lead to believe, Islamic dogma says that women ARE given the rights afforded to men about worship, property ownership and personal freedoms of speech. I find this sort of thing interesting because I did think that Islam is very oppressive towards women, and it's nice to know that I was mistaken. That's not what made me mad.
The pamplet also says the purpose of the hijab is to preserve a woman's modesty and guarantee that a woman will be judged on her words, not by her appearance. This is all fun and fascinating fact. But then it started to bother me . . . the pamphlet said:

  "The reason muslim women observe hijab is simply because Allah (God) made it a compulsory act of worship for them."

Wow! That is very interesting, and a giant load of bullshit. The Qu'ran says that a woman and men should "avert their gaze", be modest and cover their private parts. With the addition that women should cover their breasts and not flaunt their jewellery (except amongst family and close friends).
[(paraphrased) Qu'ran 'The Light' 24:31.]

So technically if you wear a shirt that isn't tight-fitting, straight leg jeans, and don't stare at people, you are being modest, and all simply because Allah wants his followers to be humble. You don't have to wear an all encompassing garb to pull that off, just don't fall victim to the sin of Pride (I may be mixing my mythologies, but this is essentially the point). The pamphlet went on to say:

The following rights [for women, are] enshrined in Islam:
  • total control of their wealth
  • choose [sic] their spouse
  • keep their own surname when married
  • own property, operate a business, study, & receive equal pay for equal work
It goes on to say they can own property and worship the same as men. And you know what? That's fine. In fact - that's better than fine. Western cultures don't offer women equal pay. And Muslim women can keep their surname, if they so choose. It just goes to show what an enlightened culture . . .
I'm sorry what? What was that? It says something down here on the pamphlet:

  "While Islam enshrines the rights of women, it also acknowledges the fact that men and women are NOT IDENTICAL. Allah says '...and the man is not like the female...' Qur'an 3:36
Islam has therefore ordained different roles for men and women to reflect this undisputed fact. Women have been granted the honour and tremendous responsibility of caring for the family and the household. While Men have been given the responsibility of providing financial support , security and . . ."


Oh, sorry, did you want to read the rest of that paragraph? Yeah, me too. But I had trouble reading the rest. It was a bit too far away to read when I threw the fucking pamphlet across the room! This just pisses me off.

You just fucking said. JUST fucking said that women have the right to work and earn money. Then you say:
  "But Islam says they have to maintain house and home!"
 I don't like it when I am lied to. I have looked through the 3:36 Qu'ran segment they speak of. That section is a sentence quoted out of context, with no relation to women's rights or responsibilities. It is the same as quoting:
  "Then God said, "Let there be light." Genesis 1:3
then claiming it is proof that Thomas Edison was a holy prophet.

I don't like it when I am lied to. But I especially can't forgive being insulted. You say one thing and try to slip a contradictory statement in there, thinking I am too stupid to realize it? Go fuck yourself.
And do you want to know the worst part?
The whole point of this pamphlet was trying to prove that the actions of a few foolish men [Islamic Terrorists] does not equate to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.

Well, News-Flash motherfuckers:
The man who wrote this is doing the same thing that those Terrorists did. The whole point is that those terrorists were misinformed about the inherent meaning of the Qu'ran, and took it to mean:
  "Killing people I don't like = Good times in the Afterlife."
And yet you just did the same damn thing!
Nowhere. I repeat nowhere in the Qu'ran does it say that women have to maintain the home. That is something that Saudi Arabian culture and law came up with - NOT ISLAM!!

If you have any questions about the pamphlet, it provides the following information.
email: shareislam@gmail.com
phone: (+61) 3 9354-7500
site: iisna.com/pamphlets]

But I read that pamphlet months ago. So, why am I talking about it today?
Well, it's because of something I read the other day that reminded me of it.
See, I am a member of 20-Something Bloggers, and there was a forum wherein a member was complaining about people who were hating on her blog. In response to that discussion, another woman put in her two cents. Her name is 'Nagehan', and you can find her blog at nagehanbayindir.blogspot.com.au. She said:

  "At one point some religious freak got a hold of my blog's link and commented anonymously about how my marriage to my husband is a sin because he's a christian and I'm a muslim! They literally wrote a giant comment condemning our choice."

When I read that I was confused, as I was under the impression that it was a sin, according to the Qu'ran, thanks to this asshole. I was going to politely tell her as much. But to make sure I was right [Which more people on the internet need to do before commenting!] I looked up the Qu'ran online and searched for the sections about the interfaith marriage thing.
In regards to Interfaith Marriage, the Qu'ran says this:

  "And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you . . ."  
Qu'ran 5:5

Translation - Men can marry Christians and Jews (that's what 'those who were given the Scripture' means), and believers.

Now that is fascinating. I mean, it's almost like it says nothing at all about women marrying Christian and Jewish Men. Some have taken that this means that they can't. But that can be proven as bullshit, because Muslim men believe they are allowed to drive cars, although The Qu'ran doesn't say they can.
Hell, if they truly believed that everything the Qu'ran doesn't say is stuff they cannot do, then they should live like the Amish, because the book was written before the discovery of electricity!

But no, this is just another example of Muslim Men extrapolating the Word of the Qu'ran to suit their own horrid, sexist wants and needs; while essentially shitting on their women, and expecting them to bow down to them while they can marry as many women as they want and beat their wives when they feel like it.

Oh sorry, I'm extrapolating myself now. See, that was my fault. I just assumed that because a society was raised on the idea that men were better than women, that it would, inevitably, lead to men beating their wives.
I should really do research on this kind of thing before I make wild, unfounded statements, (even if they're true) or I'd be just as bad as those men who say that women have to wear a hijab, or they'll burn in hell.

Islamophobia is the Word of the Day, despite me not using it much during the post itself. But that is because I used to be Islamophobic. But I'm not anymore, not really. Many people say that the suffix -phobia means 'an irrational fear'. Like how coulrophobia is an irrational fear of clowns; or nyctophobia is an irrational fear of night time or darkness. But the thing is, I don't have an irrational fear of people who follow Islam.
I have legitimate fear of Muslim Men. Because I can't tell what will make them angry at me. I'm not going to lie, of course I'm scared of them! Because they are unpredictable. Even if I read the Qu'ran cover to cover, I can't guarantee what will incite their wrath; because they aren't living their lives according to the Qu'ran, they're living it according to their interpretation of it. I can't predict what they've taken out of context or not.
I can't tell if they'll yell at me for calling them sexist; or if they'll send death threats for drawing a picture of a man with a beard; or put a bounty on my head for trying to educate people about the life of a prophet, just for taking liberties with the story (which they do all the time!). I can't tell if they'll complain when I call Muhammad a paedophile for having a sexual relationship with a nine-year old girl, despite the fact that he most certainly did, or if they'll kill hundreds of innocent people just because they're angry.

I'm scared of crazy people. I am afraid of people that threaten to kill me for practising freedom of speech. But I'm not Islamophobic.
Because in all of these riots, and all of these protests, complaints and even murders - almost everyone has a beard.
Not a single Islamic Woman is to be seen. It's not the women who are doing these horrible things. Even if they wanted to, they can't, because they're told they can't leave the home without a man (more bullshit that's not in the Qu'ran, I assume). But it's not like Muslim women do nothing . . .

On the contrary, I see Muslim women doing all kinds of things:
I see them petitioning and taking part in debate to attain more rights for women. I see them offering support to those who struggle to live as a Muslim in a mixed-faith culture. I see them working with people to achieve equity and the empowerment of Muslim women. Hell, all Muslim women seem to do is try to make life easier for them and their family. That's awesome!

Admittedly, most of this exists to counter the inherent sexism of Muslim men, but my point stands. There is nothing wrong with Islam, and so I have nothing wrong with Islam except for the fact that it's a religion, and I'm an atheist. But I have nothing wrong with the ideology, from what I've read.
The only issue are these goddamn Muslim Men, who abuse their rights, and deny the rights of women.
Sure, perhaps there are Muslim Men who don't beat their wives, or practice psychological abuse due to an adherence to an outdated culture. There may even be Muslim Men who think women are equal to or (dare I say) better than men. But they are the minority. Or at least, they aren't as loud as these terrorists who start riots over issues that don't even matter.

That is why I hate Muslim Men. Because, I am a feminist; a philosopher; a logical human being & generally a nice guy, and I fucking hate it when people lie and use religion as an excuse to do horrible things.
Now, if you are a Muslim Man, and think I am being unfair about you, or misrepresenting you, don't worry. I won't always hate Muslim Men!
As soon as you stop telling women how to dress, act and talk; stop telling them who they can marry, sleep with and talk to; stop threatening to kill people for telling the truth, expressing their opinion or criticising your culture & generally stop being mean - then I will stop hating Muslim Men.
Until then, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, signing off.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hypothesis: Undeadly

Hypothetical: What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?

I couldn't think, could barely get my brain to work. So I'd gone for a walk. I just wanted to clear my head. I wanted to think straight. I didn't know that it was the end of the world.
I watch as green hands reach into a hollow where her stomach should have been, and pry inside the viscera. The monster grabs what looks unnervingly like unravelling deli-sausages, and brings it to its face with both hands. Blood and undigested food squirt between it's teeth, spilling over its long, unkempt hair as at it bites down. I feel like I'm gonna be sick.
I'd seen enough Google Images and Wikipedia pages to know that the poor girl lying in the middle of the road being eaten was not a dummy or a movie prop. But it wasn't a zombie. Come on, it couldn't be. But what I know is that I was watching some crazy, emaciated psychopath chew on someone's organs. Surely, this was an emergency for which I could call the police.
I slowly back away as I get my mobile phone and dial 000. It doesn't take long before I hear a recorded message:
  "You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected." says a kind voice. I wait as the call is being connected. But it doesn't. Another recorded message starts up, apologizing for delays. The network is clogged? What the hell is going on?
Impatient with the police, and starting to freak out, I hang up the phone and start walking the other way. It would be quicker to walk past the scene. But I don't think I'd casually pass by a sight like that, even if I was in an armoured van. Once I'm considerably out of earshot, I start to run. I don't know what's wrong with that maniac, but I'll feel a million times safer behind a locked door. The run home was uneventful, except that I get a glance of a helicopter, flying low enough for me to hear the blades chop through the air. My poor eyesight meant that even with glasses I couldn't tell if it was the police or the media. A million thoughts are going through my head, half of which were just different ways of asking What the fuck is going on?!
I get home, closing the front gate behind me, and locking the sliding door as I head inside. I grab the home phone and dial:
  "You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected." says that same voice again, with little to no understanding how drastic the situation is. Again, the Telstra network tells me the lines are busy. I hang up the phone and start pacing back and forth. I'm not exactly good with this kind of thing. I don't function well without information.
Why are all the lines down?
I walk around the house, peeking out all the windows to check for that cannibal maniac, locking all the doors & even closing the curtains and blinds. Finally, I turn on the loungeroom television. If there's some kind of lock down, the news will let me know. I turn to ABC 24 News. The image of the smartly dressed anchorman comes in a second before the sound.
  " . . . has died in a fatal car crash. Another woman, aged seventy-nine also died in the crash that involved three cars. A Mercedes Benz was-" I flip through channels, hoping to find something relevant to my suburb, when I hear something from outside. I turn off the TV and peek out the window.
The curtains were made of lace, and through them I could see the image of a thin, stumbling figure with unkempt hair. Their feet shuffled unevenly as they walked. My throat seemed to get caught on itself as I drop the remote on the couch and head into the dining room. Did I lock the front door? Yes. Sure, I did.
I hide away in the dining room, heart beating like a galloping racehorse.
Stay the hell away from me, damn it! I was silently screaming to the monster on the street out front of my house. Oh god! Did I lock the front gate?
I hestitate a moment before deciding that I was safe to head into the outside area. My home has an enclosed porch thing attached to it with two ways in through wooden gates to the side yard and verandah. If someone got in there, they could probably break through a window to get inside. I don't want to risk it. I quickly unlock the sliding door, head outside, and lock the latch on the front gate, then I quickly head over to the side gate. God DAMN it!
We usually leave it locked, but I opened it the other week to let a tradesman get through. Looking past the side of the house and through the open gate, I can see the monster, stumbling along the street. For the first time, I can see the side of its face. It's smeared with blood, and doesn't even look human it's so gaunt and discoloured. I pull the gate to close it, but the latch is keeping it open. Feeling panic rise in me, I unlock the door, getting a spiderweb in my face as I bend down, then close the gate and push it so that I can line up the latch. I lock the gate and look up. The monster hasn't seen me.
I creep back inside and lock the sliding door behind me. Then I turn on the dining room television, careful to turn the volume down low. The image pans across an outback highway before the shot changes, and the anchorman looks into a different camera.
  "The Royal Women's Hospital has declared a quarantine after an outbreak of mad cow disease throughout the facility. Doctors and staff are trying to contain the outbreak, while officials are moving unaffected patients to other hospitals." the shot changes to a woman in a pants suit standing outside a hospital.
  "The Royal Brisbane Women's and Children's Hospital, is under investigation after an outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or 'Mad Cow Disease'. Officials believe the outbreak started with an infection in the Intensive Care Unit through improperly cleaned medical equipment. Details are still unclear at this stage, but the hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds has-"
suddenly, the scene changes back to the anchor desk.
  "We apologize for the interruption, but we take you now to breaking news of a lockdown in the Southern Brisbane Area . . ."
The scene changes to a shot from a helicopter. The scene pans around a view of suburban streets and houses, near a small business district. The reporter's voice comes through on a voice over, talking about police and lockdown and telling people to stay in their homes. But I'm not listening. I'm looking at the image of people. Panning over the streets, it looks like a normal shot of suburbia, except for the number of people on the street. Each street in the shot seems to have two or three people slowly walking along the road. that alone would look like people going home after a concert or fireworks, it's not shocking. What is shocking is the number of other people in each shot. Lying in the middle of the road, fallen down by the curb. From the height of the helicopter, I can't see details. But none of the people lying down are moving, and many are in awkward angles, seem to be lying on top of dark puddles or even seem to be spread out over the road. Just like the poor girl I saw less than fifteen minutes ago.
The scene changes to a journalist standing beside a police car, making claims of a cult or a terrorist attack, but that niggling thought in the back of my mind suddenly springs right back to the front: zombie.
I know it's stupid, and I know that I am being a paranoid nerd. But the thought comes right back. I get up and head back to the living room. But as I get close I start to creep around slowly as I get up close to the window, leaning against the wall next to it, and I peek out through the curtains. The long-haired zombie has is almost half the way up the street now, and a long way away from the house. But I see, down near the bottom of the street, now there's a woman smeared with blood. A woman without a stomach, who looks familiar. I immediately get away from the window and start searching through the house, careful to avoid windows. I don't care what's happening, I need to board up those windows. Or at least, block them with something better than lacy curtains. I head to the guest bedroom. There's a mostly empty bookshelf and a nicely made bed. I take the few items in the bookshelf out, and start to drag it out of the room. I bump into walls and nearly crush my toes a few times, but eventually, I drag it into the living room, and use it to cover one of the windows.
Then I run back to the room. I want to get the bed out and use the frame, but after a minute, I give up, and instead grab the mattress. I flip it on its side and slide it through the hall, then I lean it against the other front window with the lacy curtain. Then, just to be overly cautious, I head back to the guest room, stand the bedframe up on its 'head', and push it as close to the window as I can. Then I close the door to the bedroom, and the study, and again start pacing back and forth with nervous energy and sore arms.
I check the time. Still only 5:30. Shouldn't my parents be home by now?
No, not really. Stop panicking. Calm down . . .
No screw it. I grab the phone and ring my Dad's mobile number. It doesn't work the first time, so I call again. I get voicemail.
  "Uh . . . just call me back, alright? This is Matt, by the way." I hang up. Then I immediately call my mother's mobile. Again, voicemail. I give her a similar message and throw my phone onto the couch.
My parents are usually busy around now, it makes sense they wouldn't answer. But it doesn't make me feel any better. Is it paranoid to get a weapon?
Yes, yes it is. But I decide to do it anyway. I grab the shed key and head into the backyard, which is safely locked (as my dad is paranoid about criminals), and head into the shed. Since it looks big and nasty, I grab the axe. I once cleft through a felled paw-paw tree with one good swing, so this ought to do me well. I head inside, locking the door behind me, hide the axe behind the television so that my family doesn't think I'm crazy when they get home (if they get home) and I sit there watching the news.
As I sit there, I hear another noise outside. I jump up and grab the axe, alert. I don't know what's about to happen. I hope my family is secure, or on their way home. Especially my mother, who works in a nursing home, and is probably at greater risk of infection.
But I have faith that my close family is safe. It's a small grace, but it takes a while for a zombie apocalypse to take hold. I hope others have taken advantage of that fact.
I don't know what started it. I don't need to. I don't like the idea of hurting anything, even a zombie. But I value my life enough to do whatever it takes to survive. As I walk around the house again, checking the windows and doors with an axe in my hand, I am confident that I've made the message clear:

Dear Zombies,
  I'm ready for you.
Yours Sincerely,
  Guy with an Axe

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Most of a Machine

The weekend kills me, every time. Because I spend it actually doing things, I don't have the time to write a blog post. So I either do it at the last minute on the due date, or I do it late, as was the case last weekend. Which means my schedule bunches up, and I'm exhausted from the last time, which is why today I am too tired to do my first 'Hypothetical', which was the original plan. Especially since I have stuff to do today.
See, the reason why I was busy on the weekend was because I was buying a car. That's also the reason I am busy today, I have finances, insurance and other crap to finalize. But luckily, the same thing that's holding me back, is also going to be my jumping off point. Sure, I can't do a 'Hypothetical', but since I've had this car in my possession, another word has been rattling around in my brain.
The Word of the Day is: 'PERSONIFICATION'.

Personification /pəsonəfə'kayshən/ n. 1. the giving of personal nature or character to animals, non-living objects or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical device, as in: The book was begging to be opened. 2. Art, etc. The representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person. 3. A person or thing representing a quality or the like, embodiment: Hamlet is the personification of unhappiness. 4. An imaginary person or creature thought to represent a thing or abstraction: The Grim Reaper is the personification of Death.

Now, I'm not always one to personify inanimate objects. Isn't that right dictionary? . . .
I think he's ignoring me.
But as soon as I bought my car on the weekend, there was one particular thought in my mind: "What am I going to call it?"
Of course, cars don't really need names, and can well do without. But it's kind of a tradition in our family. We often name cars based off the letters in their number plates. For example, my parents owned a small, blue hatchback  before I was born, and they called it 'Ruby', despite it's colour, because the number plate said 'RBY'. And as a Word Nerd, I liked the idea. It's sort of a challenge. Given any assortment of letters, one has to find a name. Next time you're on a long road trip, I suggest you challenge yourself to name the surrounding cars based on their number plates. Watch out for them Q's!

But as an Absurd Word Nerd, naming the car was much more than a naming game. Because at the end of the day, that is the name I am going to be giving the car. Because when I describe my car, I don't want to be all:
  "Brand/Sub-category, V6, 5-Speed, Manual, etcetera . . ." because I am not a 'car guy'. There are those out there than understand all of that, and to them it is wrought with meaning and beauty. But to me, it's just a classification.
That is what a car does, not what a car is. Not to me. Because what a car does is take you from place to place at speed.
But what it is is so much more than that.
It's my only means of transport. I entrust my life to this thing every time I drive it. I can see the reality of gears, machinery, science & combustion all working together, but it all seems so heartless. It's just a thing after all.
But when I choose to name it, it becomes more than a car. Because I don't really like thinking about it just as a thing I own.

It's the same way, to me, as a lot of people are with their pets. You name your pet, people play with it, talk to it & imagine its own emotions and personality.
But it's just a dog.
Does your dog realize you called it 'Fido' because it is the latin word for loyal? No, it only understands it as "Noise Human makes when Human wants Me".
And does it understand how much you paid for that collar? Does it understand that you're giving it a bigger lunch today because today is it's birthday?
No. It's a dog! But you love it anyway.

I see the same notion, take to its logical extreme. I have applied human characteristics on something that not only isn't intelligent, but has no soul.

Because despite those failings, it acts and reacts in ways that I can recognize, and which have either infrequency, regularity or logic to them that I can describe as behaviour. In fact, the car is parked outside my window, and when I look outside, I can't help but see a face: Two flat eyes, a grill-plate nose and the buck-toothed grin from the number plate in the middle of the bumper bar.
Most people do, in fact. That's why sports car manufacturers, for the most part, make their headlights thinner. It makes the car's 'face' look angry, or intense.
So with all that in mind, I do trust my life to this machine. And, in a manner of thinking, could one perhaps say that it trusts me? If the car is to crash, it will probably be my fault. Every time I sit in that seat, both the car and I could be destroyed, and then broken down into our component parts. We trust in one another each time I turn the key.

But when I was thinking about this the other day, it struck a chord. Because I came across something. A strange thought:
What if we do this - this personification thing - not out of a desire for recognition or familiarity? Rather, what if we do this out of fear?

Could it be that we are afraid that, perhaps, there are things that we come to trust that do not trust us?
That to see this for what it is, a simple reaction of physics in an open system, we would crumble and cry from the despair of it all.
That rather than a man and his mechanical friend, it's just you, and a machine that is designed to explode constantly, wrapped in safety belts, air bags & the prayer that everyone else on the road is as scared of death as you.

Could it be? . . . perhaps.

But in my eternal quest to justify everything, and answer every question, I don't believe that to be true.To me, the personification of a car is a matter of necessary evil. Or should I say, necessary ignorance.
See, if I was into cars, then I wouldn't need all this. I wouldn't need to pretend that I can trust a car. Because I would already know. I would know exactly how it works. I'd know the physics, I'd know the mechanics. I'd know the verity of V6, the ferocity of fuel injection & the tenacity of torque.
I would have as much faith in the turn of the wheel, as a mathematician would have in the square root of pi. Because I would know.

But I don't know. I spend my mental space with reading, writing, learning & teaching. I don't have space in their for whatever the hell a turbo does, or the metallurgical properties of a chassis. So I have faith in those that do.
And rather than believe in a complicated equation, or set of principles, I trust in Gemini, my little white sedan, that there is a reason that she does what she does, even if I don't understand it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go wax my car in a totally non-sexual way.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Wearing of the Green

It occurs to me that a brilliant word of the day today would be 'green'. After all, there's so much green to be had. St Patrick's Day is today, and that's pretty green. Then there's Earth Hour later this week, which is all about the environment and 'being green', so at first, I was a little bummed that I'd already used the word for my goddamned 'Stephenie Meyer' post, 50 Shades of Twilight.
But then I realized two things. First of all, St. Patrick was originally associated with the colour 'blue', but it changed to green because of the colour's association with shamrocks and Catholics. Secondly, I realized that I don't really want to talk about Earth Hour much at all, since it's pretty stupid. After some thought about it, all I want to say is this:
  "Earth Hour is a waste of time, since spending 0.02% of your year with the lights off will do absolutely nothing to the environment."
So let's just talk about St Patrick's Day, and see what we can learn.
The Word of the Day is: 'SHAMROCK'.

Shamrock /'shamrok/ n. A plant with three leaflets believed to have been used by St. Patrick to symbolize the Trinity.

I'm not going to lie, my Dictionary is a little old-fashioned. It comes with being an ancient tome, but yes, that's how it defines a shamrock. Some of you already know what that means, but you're ahead of the rest of the class, so let me explain. The 'Trinity' here is speaking of the 'Holy Trinity' of the Christian religion. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, but it also has an odd claim that God is actually three people, known as:
"The Father; The Son & The Holy Ghost" or to put it in simple terms:
'God the Almighty', 'Jesus the Nazarine' & 'The Spirit that Fucks Mary'.
Even Christians can have trouble understanding this, however, as these are all claimed to be one and the same entity, despite having different duties and being represented in different ways. So when Christianity came to Ireland (in the form of St Patrick) and he wanted to convert them from Paganism to Christianity, it seems this 'Trinity t'ing' was a point contention amongst them, as with most Christian converts. So to explain it best, St. Patrick used the shamrock. A little plant with three leaf segments that are separate, but connected to a single stem. Just like the leaflets were three protrusions of the one stem which grew them, Patrick explained that God was the Father, the Son & the Holy Ghost; and all of them at the same time were one connected God.

A lot of this surprised me, because when you're wearing a green shirt and drinking Guinness  you don't seem to realize the fact that you are celebrating the ideological takeover of a culture. St Patrick's Day celebrates a (potentially allegorical) individual, and a bishop, who is most famous for getting rid of Paganism. Some people say that he was famous for Banishing the Snakes from Ireland. But history tells us there never were any snakes in Ireland, and so some historians believe this story is symbolic. As not only is the snake, (serpent or dragon) associated with the Devil, but was also a symbol of the Druids, and of Paganism, which St Patrick did 'banish' or at least displace.

Though I did learn something interesting that doesn't have to do with Christianity. It turns out that the drinking done on St Patrick's day is, in part, a rebellious celebration. The Irish are known to drink, and in the early 1900s there was a law passed that said pubs had to be closed on the 17th of March, because drinking was getting out of hand on St. Patrick's day. The law was repealed in the 1970s however, and drinking on St. Patrick's day seems to have become a tradition ever since.

There's a lot more history involved with St. Patrick's day and it's celebration, and I suggest you check it out. It's fascinating stuff; but as I alluded to in The Mayans Save Christmas post, holidays don't have to be all about traditions and history. Religion is bollocks, so I have no need to celebrate St Patrick. I'll probably have a drink this St. Patrick's day, not to celebrate the indoctrination of a kind and imaginative people, but to celebrate overthrowing a patronizing safety law that denigrates free will. I'll also celebrate Ireland, and it's rich culture. No, I'm not an Irishman, but I've a fair sliver of the Eire in my blood as I have Irish ancestors on both my mother's and my father's side of the family. Although I'll never learn Celtic, I can celebrate my long-lost family, and the beauty of Ireland from whence they came, wearing the orange or green of their flag and drinking until I can feel the Luck of the Irish.

But there's one thing that I want to do most of all, and that is to promote Irish folklore. And I mean proper Irish folklore. Because when St. Patrick cast out paganism, he also cast out the colourful array and pantheon of paranormal, Pagan Celtic critters. He didn't destroy all knowledge, and most people know of Leprechauns, and their Irish origin. But they were one small part of a larger pagan culture, celebrating nature, folk magic & stories.
It's a curious habit of people to celebrate a day, for the sake of a holiday, meanwhile forgetting what it means or why they are celebrating. Well I know, and I refuse to celebrate that way. Rather than celebrate a 'saint', I will celebrate what he tried to disband. The creatures, the cultures & the colourful characters of Irish Pagan belief. I want to learn more about The Banshee; Cú Chulainn; the Leprechaun; the Clurichaun; Changelings, Selkies, MerrowThe Salmon of Knowledge.
Because I don't like it when people ignore stories.
I'm going to start looking into these gods & goblins, with a stout beer in hand and I suggest you do as well. There's some fascinating stories to be had, and I think it's a nice way of celebrating a culture's resilience, against those that take away their freedoms and culture.

But if that's a little too idealistic, or just too much effort, I'll just leave you with another aspect of Irish culture, that I take to heart. The "Irish Philosophy" is a simple one, that claims you need never worry (something most Australians agree with). I admit, I am not sure if the philosophy is actually from Ireland, so to make sure it's Irish I have styled it in the form of a limerick, for you lovely people and I thought it was a perfect way to end this post:


Either your sick or you're well,
If you're not sick, then everything's swell.
If you're sick you'll get better,
If not, it's no matter.
For you'll drink with your buddies in Hell!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Lonely King

The remains of the Castle of Rumonde had been left perfectly untouched for hundreds of years, though the ruins were anything but forgotten. It sat at the crest of a mountain overlooking a small town in the valley which had doubled in size since when the castle had been occupied so many years ago. Ever since the castle was abandoned, the townspeople dared not enter, for fear of inciting the wrath of the late King Duran Archaviere. As the legend goes, King Duran was incredibly greedy. He was so obsessed with gold that near the end of his life he horded all his treasure into his castle and died as he watched over his piles of gold. It is said that even after his passing, King Duran’s soul continued to watch over his gold, ensuring that none would lay a hand on a single gold piece. This of course was a mere tale to deter grave robbers. However, the greed of grave robbers often outweighs their superstition.
Howell Bridgeman had heard such legends before, as he was no stranger to history and certainly no stranger to grave robbing. He had left the town just as the last light was extinguished to be sure that no one interfered with his plans. He had wandered all the way up the crumbled stone steps carrying a large pack and a shovel. The moonlight shone bright over the ruins, illuminating the jagged remnants of walls, paths and hallways, as well as the fruitful displays of crawling vines and plant life which had claimed the castle over the years. But all of this ancient beauty was lost to Howell, whose eyes were blind to anything but the promised treasure of King Duran.
When he came to the heart of the fallen fortress, Howell found a large and obvious doorway which was once locked and bolted with a heavy door, but had crumbled from the elements and now was so weak that it became a pile of deadwood and rusted metal with a single strike from Howell’s shovel.
Luckily, Howell had no need for his lantern, as the moon shone clearly down the revealed stairway. As he entered the underground chamber Howell grew increasingly uneasy. He had violated many ancient reliquaries and had never before been afraid, yet he was struck with a deep sense of violation within these walls. But the prospect of the treasure just a little further beyond was so great his pace did not even slow, though his stomach felt a great deal more knotted.
Almost tripping on the sudden final step, Howell had to stop and wait for his eyes to adjust. What he saw he could not believe and he stood for a minute more to be sure his eyes where adequately focussed. The entire room was covered with years of dust, and filled with enough treasure to supply dozens of museums. Howell was awestruck as he navigated through the rudimentary paths between treasure piles. The light was dim, but it could not hide the gold, the silver and all manner of expensive artefacts. There were vases, portraits, intricately carved furniture. Howell had not expected such a great bounty, and accepted that he could not take it all, (he was not that greedy). To attempt to haul it all would be a fool’s errand. With a wisdom that came from many years robbing graves, he decided that he would only take the best of the treasures, with careful selection he may get the greatest amount for the least strain on his back. So wandering with a careful and keen eye, Howell then began to patrol amidst the treasure, picking up small treasures which he deemed the greatest quality.
However, with each step he took, Howell began to feel the knot in his stomach grow tighter and he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched. The closer he came to the far wall, the less light there was and he was having trouble focussing. When his eye unexpectedly came upon something which made him stop so abruptly he dropped his shovel.
A figure near the rear wall, sitting perfectly still. Watching him. Howell tried to stand as still as stone, but his old, tired legs couldn’t help but shake nervously. He tried to focus, but it was too dark to see, so Howell continued to stare, unsure how to act.
After nearly a minute, Howell realized that the figure was not moving, and relaxed just enough to edge closer, trying to identify the person. As he stood just five steps from the man, the darkness began to accommodate his vision, and Howell recognised the figure sitting on an old, stone chair. It was the king. Long dead, he was nothing but bones, though he still wore the beautiful rings on his knobbed, claw-like fingers; a long flowing robe, though it was now much emptier and a great crown sat atop the skull.
It was extraordinary. Howell wondered whether he had died sitting there; how he had managed to remain so upright in his chair after that many years. With his eyes adjusted to the pitch black, it was hard to look back into the dim room behind him, but it seemed as though the king kept a keen vigil on the stairway at the opposite end of the room. But what truly captured Howell’s attention was the crown on the king’s head. It was a marvellous piece. The jewel-encrusted crown of a king was bound to be worth a great deal more than a pretty chair or a painted vase.
Howell took a step forward, but couldn’t move much closer. To steal ancient treasure was one thing, but to physically remove something which the king was wearing . . .
Suddenly, The king leaned forward. Howell quickly backed away a dozen paces as the king seemed to shrug sharply and a cloud of dust expelled outward.
As Howell stared fearfully, he covered his mouth to ensure he didn’t breathe the dust, which in all likelihood had once been a part of King Duran.
The skeleton, once again still, no longer sat up straight in his chair. With a slight slouch, his head was cocked to the side and his arm seemed to have twisted out of position.
Howell assured himself that it must have been rapid degradation caused by a draft he let in when he entered the underground chamber. Of course, there was a reasonable explanation. But Howell couldn’t help but notice that the right arm, the one that seemed twisted, was now pointing a finger. He could not recall whether the fingers had lain over the arm of the throne, but now they seemed to point off into the room.
With a superstitious curiosity, Howell looked where the finger directed. He moved near the edge of the treasure pile where the finger lead him, and saw a dark picture frame.
Perhaps it was some strange coincidence, the finger could have accidently pointed at any other treasure, but Howell couldn’t help but pick up the frame, wipe off the dust and let his eyes focus on the painting. It was the portrait of a beautiful woman, with pale skin; blue eyes and long, flowing brown hair. An engraving on the lower part of the frame read: Lady Janelle Hartwood
Howell was by no means a historian, but only the deaf could avoid hearing the story of Lady Janelle. Lady Janelle was one of few famous women in ancient history. She helped found the town by the mountain and she ventured alongside men on historical voyages, some say she fought in the war. But her history was so immersed with legend that nothing about her life is certain, the most controversial story being that of her death. She was aboard the great ship Gallantry when it sank 600 metres from port. However, some say that she somehow swam to shore, and with her last breath she fell upon the beach sands Howell looked back over to the king. From where Howell stood, the king’s head was tilted at an odd angle. It looked as though the king were peering over at him expectantly. Howell was deeply unsettled to have death give him such a piercing stare. The deafening silence was too much to bare as the empty eyes glared at him through the darkness.
  “She’s Dead.” said Howell. The words seemed to loosen the knot in his stomach, so he continued speaking, “For centuries, she’s been dead, like you. She . . . she died at sea.”
However his thoughts were interrupted as the skeleton seemed to move again.
At first, it seemed like the king was bowing his head in mourning, and the crown began to slip off of his smooth skull. But then the shoulders shrugged so heavily that they collapsed in on themselves and the entire thing fell out of the chair with a great crash. Bones shattered in an ungraceful, decayed heap and as dust bloomed from out of the crumpled robe the rings skittled off into the pile of the treasures. Whilst the dust settled, the crown rolled away and danced around its rim just like a spun coin. Howell looked down as the crown came to a rest at his feet. He slowly bent down and picked it up, dusting off the remains of the king as he looked it over.
  “Uh . . . you’re welcome, I guess . . .” he muttered to the pile of bones as he put the crown into his pack. Feeling as though he’d done enough damage, Howell turned to leave, the apprehension now gone. But before he took his first steps toward the stairs, he turned back for a last glance at the remains of King Duran Archaviere.
  “You’re a man more patient than me,” said Howell, “. . . I hope it was worth the wait.”

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Hypotheticality

Today, I really wanted to write some blogfiction, for the post. For a while now, I've just been spouting opinion, and I wanted to lighten up a little. But I was burned out. It was too last minute, I was too unprepared & I am too tired.
[Hence the terribly drawn illustration. Sorry about that . . .]
But the thing is, while I was trying to come up with a story to write for this post, more often than not, I found myself wondering what would happen if I was in that position.
I’d come up with a fantasy about trolls and goblins, and wonder how I'd react. I'd come up with a mystery and wonder how I would solve it were I there. I would come up with ideas and think:
  “What would I do in this situation?”
It's all my fault, you see. I'm just too excited. Because a few days ago, I came up with a cool, new idea I’ve been toying with, that I would like to add to this blog, and since I have nothing else to talk about, now seemed like the best time to introduce it.
The Word of the Day is: 'HYPOTHETICAL'.

Hypothetical /huy’pəthetikəl/ adj. 1. Assumed by hypothesis; supposed: a hypothetical case. 2. Relating to, involving, or of the nature of hypothesis: hypothetical reasoning. n. 3. A hypothetical situation, instance, etc.

Wow, this is one of those fun double whammy words, isn't it? Dictionary, in the interests of clarity, define 'Hypothesis' for the people:

Hypothesis /huy’pothəsəs/ n. 1. A proposition, idea, theory or other statement adopted as a starting point for a discussion, investigation, study, etc. 2. A statement accepted as basic in an argument. 3. A guess; assumption.

Hypothetical Situations are a good way to understand a concept, or come to terms with it. With enough understanding, knowledge & time, one can come to see many things that would otherwise be recognized only as theory:
  • What would it be like to walk on the surface of the sun?
  • What would you do if you met Albert Einstein?
  • What would happen if you could keep a dinosaur as a pet?
These are all ideas that we can understand, but never enact in a plausible or safe environment. But we can do so within the safety of our minds.
Some people daydream, and some people fantasize. And I am among them. What is fiction if not asking those hypothetical questions over and over within the one scenario?
I like to write fiction, and I have already created a few specialized stories for this blog. But one issue I run into is the Time. I write these posts within an hour or two, or at least try to, but when I write fiction it takes up so much more effort, and I often have to plan weeks in advance.
So I was wondering if I could use hypothetical situations to allow myself to write fiction, as well as explore concepts otherwise unseen, by streamlining the concept phase. It's admittedly an intellectual shortcut, Like self-insert fanfiction without the fanfiction, but I think there's much to be gained from this concept.

In The Absurd Word Nerd blog, there are a few mainstays and key features: Blogfiction; Word of the Day; Meta-postsDictionary.  Now, I am hoping to add another: Hypotheticals.

The idea is simple. I will start with a hypothetical criterion, or a Hypothesis. I will then envisage the most logical situation wherein I will place my fictional self in this strange situation, and I will then follow the steps to their logical conclusion, given what I know about myself and the situation. Then I will present this to you in the form of a narrative.

The rules are simple.
  1. Once given a 'Hypothesis', the query must be answered appropriately, according to its wording & grammar.
  2. The situation must be resolved logically, with no cheating, falsehoods or 'deus ex machina'.
  3. The Hypothetical must continue until either the situation ends, my fictional self dies or the consequences cannot be determined.
I am taking this pretty seriously, but this is just a fun way to stretch my writing muscles, as well as my imagination and intellectual strengths. But why am I telling you all of this? Well, because I want you to be a part!
I didn't change my template just to make my blog pretty. I want to include others in my fun. What I'm saying is:
  I want YOU to think up hypothetical situations for me!

This concept may be a little wild for people to understand, so I figured I'd give people a sample of what I am hoping to do. So here is just one example of a Hypothetical, which I've chosen for its brevity. It's admittedly a little morbid this one, but it's the only question I could cover in a short piece:

Let's say I am given the Hypothesis -
What if you were to Spontaneously Combust, right now? . . .

Burning Man
I am sitting at my desk, my fingers hovering over the keys waiting for inspiration, when I start to feel a heat in my forehead. Thinking that it is, just sunburn, I gently rub it with my fingers to cool my face. But my fingers, too, feel a deep warmth. In fact, now that I think about it, I feel a deep boiling in my stomach.
Is it something I ate?
The heat increases rapidly, and before I know it I can feel it bursting from my skin, and in seconds I'm covered in blisters! WHOOMPHF! My entire body. Head to toe, every inch of me suddenly flares up like a struck match. I scream as I feel the heat. An unnatural wave of hot air, like I've just dived into the oven. But the fire is so deep, it fries my nerves.
I panic and scream! The fire! It's everywhere! I stumble to escape my desk. I must escape the fire! But my desk chair, always troublesome, trips my frantic, unsteady legs. I hit the carpet. and as the carpet burns and melts under my ignited hands, the last strands of my hair have become cinders.
Water! I have to stop the fire!
I get to my feet. By now, the fire has melted the plastic of my glasses to my face, and charred the glass. I tear the frames wildly from my head as  run out of my bedroom door, blindly, with charred skin and burnt clothes falling from my body. I turn to the kitchen, but my progress has slowed considerably as my toenails crack and split from the heat, my muscles cook and the soles of my feet blister. I run smack into the glass table that I can't see through my watery, unadorned eyes.
There's pain from the heat, but desperation and adrenaline drives me. Dripping sodden ash, boiled pus and blood over the floor, I stumble along the bench, charring the plastic top as I crawl over it, and as soon as I can reach the kitchen sink, I slap at the tap with my hand. I struggle to push my head, arms and upper-body under the water. As the water steams from my flaming head, I kick the cupboards with frustation, as my body continues to burn. Even if I can manage to put out the fires of my top half, my legs burn beneath me, and I collapse on the kitchen floor.
Through a combination of third degree burns, skin infections & heat exhaustion, I eventually burn and die.

THE END

Okay, I'll admit, that was much more disappointing than I was hoping for. But when your whole body suddenly catches alight, it's hard to get out in one living piece. Can you blame me?
I was running out of time, and couldn't think up a better, shorter Hypothesis to work with. But that's what you're for!
I hope for much more uplifting, entertaining & enlightening Hypotheticals, for whole blog posts.

I already have some potential Hypothetical Situations involving zombies, super powers & other cool stuff, and those are the ones I plan on doing first. But that all depends on what you people come up with! If you have something better, I'll do it!
All you have to do is present me with a Hypothesis, framed as a question, that I can play out. I'd like to see if I can survive some of these, using just my wits and writing ability.
Just leave your Hypothesis in the Comment Section!

[Note: If you want specific things to happen, or have details that can be interpreted many ways, specify within the comment. Otherwise, I will just have to interpret the question as best I can.]

If you have a good enough Hypothesis, I'll use it, thanking you for the question, if you wish. And I'll use it for a Hypothetical Post.
Hypotheticals are something that I would like to make a permanent feature of the blog, but it relies on new questions. Feel free to leave a Hypothetical under any blog post with the hypothetical or fiction label and I guarantee I will give it a look-in.
I'd hate to see this idea die out due to apathy, people.
Don't let me Down!

- - - 

Oh, and since we're already talking about Blog Particulars, I figured now was a good time for a heads-up. In April, I plan on doing a Parody Week. Don't worry, audience participation is not required. But I wanted to advertise it now, because I am putting a lot of work into this thing!
During the second week of April, I will do a new blog post every day, each one based on a blog or bloggers that I appreciate, and will be doing a Parody of. This was inspired by xkcd's own Parody Week, and I'll even be doing an xkcd parody, so look forward to that. Seriously people, it's gonna be awesome.

So look forward to Parody Week, and drop me a Hypothesis, if you want to start asking the big questions. Until next time, I'll be trying to answer my own hypothetical question:
  "How much better would this blog be if I didn't leave all my blog posts to the last minute?"

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The More Things Change . . .

You know what's difficult? Or should I say 'impossible'? Writing a blog post when my computer is off. My house has had two blackouts in one hour. So I haven't been able to get around to this until now. What a damn pain.
I was angrily stomping around my house, damning the injustice of it all, when I decided that there was nothing I could do about it. So I decided to go for a walk. But by the time I put on my jeans, the damn lights came on again, so I sat down to finally write this thing. The fun thing is, this all relates back to my word of the day.
Because after a while, I realized that no matter how much I bitched and moaned about the power being off, it wasn't going to change anything.
The Word of the Day is: 'CHANGE'

Change /chaynj/ n. v.t. 1. To make different, alter in condition, appearance, etc. 2. to transform or convert. 3. To substitute another or others for; exchange for something else, usually of the same kind or value. 4. To give and take reciprocally; interchange. 5. To become different; alter.

Now I know what you're thinking:
  "Wow, nice segue, Nerd!"
Yeah? Well, shut up. I wanted a chance to complain about the power outages. But now that I'm done with that, let's move onto something more important. You may notice that my blog has changed.
If not, you're either blind, a moron, in another reality or a new reader. So for those that don't get it, my blog was originally blue. And crap. The words were on the left side of the screen, the right side was cluttered with all kinds of nonsense, and it was generally a very bland site. I think the template was actually called 'Simple'.
There is a reason for that.
I didn't like it, but I kept it for a while because I didn't want to change. Just last week, I was toying with the sliders to change the colour from blue to indigo (since indigo is my favourite colour). But I didn't like it, because it looked different. I was worried that it wouldn't feel like my site anymore.

You see, I don't like change. Not in a 'back in my day, it was better' kind of way. But in the way that I like it when I can rely on something. Things must change, but there are some things I like to stay the same. Perhaps it is nostalgia, or over-sentimentality, but when something changes, I can't help feeling a little bit lost.

So even though the site looked like crap, I felt like changing what it looked like would make it not really my site anymore. And for the longest time, I was of the opinion that:
  "This is all about the words. Who cares about the rest?"
But that all changed.

It changed because I wanted it to be better. And part of that comes down to Envy. I was reading my friend's blog: Cascades of Dreams and I was saddened by the fact that she had an open comments section, and I didn't. I wanted one.
People could comment before, but it was two clicks away, on a separate page. I've said before that as much as I like to monologue, I like to encourage dialogue, so it was not conducive to my own social philosophy.
So I gritted my teeth and changed my site template to one with an open comments section. And I picked this one!
"Dynamic Template - Sidebar"

Ooh, fancy.

[If I change my blog in the future, the following piece will make no sense. But on the upside, you're in the future! You've got aliens, neon clothes & hover-bikes. You have nothing to complain about.]

Look at this thing: I have a sexy banner up the top which is purple, as I wanted. I added a  description up the top, courtesy of Dictionary (I didn't add one before, because I didn't know how best to represent my blog. Now I do!).
The whole left side here is now just links to my old posts. So you can scroll down all the way to the beginning. Feel free to read them (they're actually good, believe it or not).
I also like that now the words are the front and centre of my blog. The posts are right up in your face, taking up a good 70% of the screen, and I like it that way. Because this is about the words.
Also, the template was even nice enough to shrink down my illustrations into thumbnails for you nice people! Isn't that sweet?
On the right side, Hidden in a little pop-up, are all the options that used to clutter up the right side. But now you just hover your mouse, click and can access everything like before.
My profile (learn about me), the blog archive (read more from me), Google's +1 button (let me know you like me), the Translator (understand me) and even a Subscribe button (stalk me).
The archive is a little more bureaucratic than before, and I'm not overly fond of it. But that's okay, because all my posts are now listed in the left sidebar. Did I mention that?
Because I think it's awesome!

Oh, and of course, the Comments Section. Rather than being on a separate page, now it's right down the bottom.
I did this for you, people.  I wanted you to be able to comment on my blog much easier, to talk to me or others, and have others reply to you, & even so you can reply to others! Isn't it great?
I feel like part of a community already.

Of course, that all relies on people actually commenting. I am not going to force people to comment (at least, not until the machine is fully operational), but if you want to say something in reply to my blog post, or say something to me, or give me a challenge or suggest improvements, I implore you to do so.
Hell, you can even suggest 'Words of the Day'  for me to do, if you are so inclined, or ask for my opinion on topics. I love the idea of having a responsive audience. And since this is about improving my writing, I would like to learn how to write stuff that will make my audience happy.

That's right. I will whore myself, and my writing skills, out to you kind people, if you so wish. It all starts with a simple comment.

Oh, but there's one other thing. Because I don't like change, there's one aspect about the 'Dynamic' template that I don't like. Because it was literally dynamic. And I don't mean 'literally' in the Valley Girl lexicon. I mean it was "pertaining to force of motion".
The template would change and move, if you asked it to, just by clicking the button up the top-left.
I didn't like that idea at all. It made me feel dirty thinking people were bending the template to their own sick desires:
  "Yeah . . . yeah . . . organize in a mozaic for me, you know you want to.  Oh yeah, Flipcard, do it for me . . ."

Yeah . . . made me feel weird. So I removed the option.
Now there is only the 'Sidebar' option . The only remnant of the old template options, is the little triangle under the header, and if you hover your mouse over it, it will impotently swivel around as if to say:
  "I'd love to give you the options . . . but I have no power here!"
Muahuahua! Yes, swivel you feeble JavaScript button!
Because I don't want other people changing my blog.

And that is, after all, the thesis of this blog post (beyond describing the new format a little). Although I have managed to change a little, in the end I am still the same person who does not like change. So you can change whether or not I will affect change. But you can never change who I am. For even Change will never change how much I don't like to change. Because, as they say:

  "the More things Change, the More they Stay the Same."

And to think, if I got a dollar for every time I said 'change' in this blog post, I'd have an awful lot of spare change.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Beards & Glasses

Wow, I have been completely gutted.

See, I try to update every three days [unofficially], and so sometimes my schedule falls into this perfect alignment. Every three weeks, I do a post on Friday & Monday, which gives me two free days of weekend. But to make sure I have something to write about, I plan it on Friday, and I relax for two days. For Today, I had decided to talk about a new Google+ Community I am a part of, called "Why We Are Different".
I had it all set out, I had plans to go with . . . but then a friend of mine, another young blogger, wrote a blog post about it called 'A Conversation'.
Within it, she kind of said everything that I was planning on saying. So, now I don't have to, you can just read her post.

But that means I am now left with nothing to talk about . . .

Huh . . . so, how was your weekend?

 . . . okay, I'm not going to waste this post talking about nothing, so I started rifling through my 'Absurd Word Nerd backlog" for something to talk about, and I found something appropriate.
I was planning on talking about what makes us different. But since I can't, instead I am going to talk about some people that are the same. People that are the same as me.
The Word of the Day is: 'LOOKALIKE'.

Lookalike /'lookəluyk/ n. 1. A person or thing that looks like or closely resembles another.


The internet is full of interesting people. Some of them funny, some of them stupid & some of them even profound. 
Crazy and wonderful freaks and pop icons, some of them Weird, Some of them Wonderful but most of them (for some inexplicable reason) being middle-aged white guys with unkempt hair, glasses and a beard. That's MY look, damn it!


For a while, I thought this was some sick conspiracy. But rather than fight this horrible system of Gordon Freeman Lookalikes, I have decided to embrace it, and present, for your amusement:

The 6 Coolest People on the Internet (Who Look Like Me)


6. Terroja Lee Kincaid


Who?

Terroja is a Career Youtuber, known as The Amazing Atheist. He is anti-god and anti-religion, but more than that, he makes observations about the world which, even when they are batshit insane, have a foundation of truth in them.

What makes him So awesome?

For one thing, he has a what-the-fuck name like Terroja. I don't know what that means, but I get the feeling that calling him 'Terry' as a nickname wouldn't sit well.
But for another much more important thing, he talks about politics, religion and society in often well-thought out, and yet still curse-addled rants. It shows he can be intelligent and passionate. He can also be funny when either dealing with a stupid question, (or being forced to reiterate his point on an old question, like religion) and can be wonderfully sarcastic.

The only reason he's so far down [up?] on the list is that his work is very singular, and not really open. It's like watching a murder mystery. A question is asked, points are raised, and eventually a question is given. Sometimes you are left to ponder, but it often doesn't last long. Also, he isn't as family friendly. I don't mind that sort of thing, but it does make him less awesome that you can't show his videos to your mother.

Arbitrary Beard & Glasses points: 6.5 /10
This guy always has the beard, but sometimes when he doesn't cut his hair, he looks pretty messy. Also, the inconsistency of his glasses loses points. And his weight means that he looks very different from me, so he's not so much of a lookalike.


5. Hank Green/John Green


Who?

How could you not have heard about Vlogbrothers? They are the Nerdfighters ver. 1.0, unashamed nerds who use their nerdly goodness to fight against Worldsuck.

What makes him So awesome?

For one thing, they talk REALLY damn fast. That can be annoying to some, since you can miss words, but it's an internet video, so you can watch it again if you miss something. But the reason I mention the talking is because, since these two guys are always smiling and they talk about philosophy, art, religion, science, like, love and almost anything - and tend to do so in a positive manner - the beautiful mix of happy, good fun, smiles and speed always makes me feel better after watching a Nerdfighters video.
I should also mention that there are two guys here. That's important because this channel was started so that the guys, Hank and John, could talk to each other more, as brothers, and connect more. They succeeded, and in the process gathered followers to a movement of called Nerdfighters, whose goal is to slay worldsuck (hate, pain, sickness, stupidity, pollution, etcetera). but this isn't a comic book. Nerdfighters are real people, intelligent people, who help out by giving money to charities, raising awareness and helping with other similar issues. And doing really cool things to uplift those that need it.

Arbitrary Beard & Glasses points: 3.5 + 4.5 = 8.0 /10

Unfortunately these guys don't have beards, so they lose out on beard and glasses points. But they get a high score for three reasons. One, Because I look a LOT like John Green. Two, both Hank and John have had beards at one point or another for their long conversation. Three, they're freaking awesome! And as the nerdfighters say: Don't Forget To Be Awesome!

4. Doug Walker

Who?

He's the Nostalgia Critic. You know? That Guy with the Glasses.

What makes him So awesome?

Have you ever watched an old movie and thought, "well, that's a little silly." - that is essentially this guy's job description. As the Nostalgia Critic, Doug Walker reviews movies from, like, 20 years ago and with a synoptic look over the film, makes fun of a lot of the ridiculous plot points, moments, lines of dialogue, costume choices and the rest.
Now you may ask, "couldn't I just watch the movie and see that?" Well, yes. But that would mean you'd have to watch the movie. And some of these films are REALLY bad. As he says himself:
  "I remember it so that you don't have to."
The Nostalgia Critic can take an intolerable film, and turn it into a comedy masterpiece. And for moments when he isn't reviewing a bad film, there is always some comedy to be found in his work, whether it be comparing old films to modern remakes, listing cool clichés, scenes, favourite episodes or even reviewing good movies.
Unfortunately, after almost 200 videos of being a movie critic, The Nostalgia Critic had a stint as a movie maker which the internet responded to negatively. I'm sad to see that Doug Walker didn't get to pursue his dream of bigger pursuits.
But he's returned as the Nostalgia Critic, and seems to still be having fun, and his latest work promises to be just as entertaining as his old stuff.


Arbitrary Beard & Glasses points: 10 /10
He gets full points because he seems to have the exact same, well-trimmed, bearded face in every single video (except two).
Good work man, and really good personal grooming.


3. Benjamin Croshaw (AKA Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation)


Who?

Yahtzee, the guy who makes Zero Punctuation videos for EscapistMagazine.com

What makes him So awesome?

Do you like playing videogames? So does Yahtzee Croshaw. But you wouldn't know it, the way he talks about them in his videos. Yahtzee reviews new videogames, and in doing so he points out every little thing wrong in the game, nitpicking it down to the bone to find out if, perhaps, the skeleton has a fetch-quest that doesn't make him want to hunt down the creator of the game and beat him to death with an angry cat tied to the end of a stick. Yahtzee also has a talent for metaphors, one greater than me, in that snarky British style. For those of you who don't know what a metaphor is, he thankfully illustrates his ideas with simple, yet instructive little cut-out style figures.
And his rapid-fire, speech without pause (inspiring the title of the videos) is topped off with the fact that he is also, actually reviewing games, so not only can you come to him for entertainment and comedy, but also to find out about upcoming game releases and whether or not you'll despise them. And when you're done playing a game, you can look up to see if he's reviewed one of your OLD games, and laugh along as he accurately describes the game with insulting detail.

Arbitrary Beard & Glasses points: 8.0 /10
Another one with good consistency, Yahtzee gets high marks. But lose two because 1, we don't often get to see his face, so he could just be cheating; and 2, you can't see his hair, because he always wears his trilby when he presents himself. The hat is cool, but this isn't beard, glasses & hat points, so he misses out.


2. Robert Chipman


Who?

MovieBob. He can also be found at EscapistMagazine.com

What makes him So awesome?

Well, Moviebob does a lot of stuff, and so he's sort of cheating, since he gets three times more coverage than my other contenders with Escape to the Movies, The Game Overthinker & The Big Picture the three internet video series under his belt. But there's a much more important reason he gets this high on the list. Like Terroja, he likes to talk about politics and culture while swearing. But not as much, and he bleeps it for the kiddies. Like Nerdfighters, he can have an uplifting view of the world, but it's brought back down to earth with sobering reality, which makes his optimism have that much more vigour. Like Doug, he reviews movies, and it's fun to hear him tear into crap, but it's just as good to see him explain WHY it's crap, or why it's good in the instance of good movies. He doesn't review games, but he does talk about gaming's impact on . . . well, everything, and like Yahtzee he illustrated this with pictures he gets from Google Images, or draws.
But what sets Robert apart, for me, is that in that well-spoken American Radio Voice [which isn't his true accent, so kudos for putting that on] he always speaks with an intelligence that isn't condescending. It's a teacher's voice. You can understand what Bob is saying and where he is coming from, even if you disagree with him, because he illustrates his point so perfectly in his words. To me, in all of Bob's videos, it's like he's just come home from a hard day. So he sits up, relaxes his feet, grabs a drink and sighs, sometimes woefully or painfully; sometimes with confusion; sometimes with relaxed joy or in preparation to explain without breath how excited he is. Either way, you turn to him and say: "What' on your mind, Bob?"
And he tells you, from beginning to end.
And since Bob once admitted that, in his videos, he has at times had to edit out the *clink* of him taking a sip from his scotch glass, I think I'm not far off the mark . . .

Beard & Glasses points: 5 /10
Bob is a cool guy, but like Yahtzee doesn't show his face much. But from what I've seen, as cool as he is, his beard is cleanly cropped and his glasses are pretty classy. And his hair is very closely cropped too, so, he doesn't really look that much like me. Hence, he loses points, sorry dude.


1. Matthew Aaron John Anderson


Who?

The Absurd Word Nerd, also known as Kelnius.

What makes him So awesome?

He writes a blog where he pretty much celebrates his own opinion, diverts into strange meta-blogposts about how he talks to an ancient, talking Dictionary & sometimes divulges in blogfiction. I can't even really describe why he's so awesome, not in one paragraph at least, you should really just read his blog.

Beard & Glasses points: 7.5 /10
He looks exactly like me, so he gets high points. But loses a couple of points because after doing some research, I found out the he was me. And that's just cheating!



Well, those are my top 6 coolest people who look like me. I was hoping for a Top 10 List, but some of the other people that look like me kind of suck . . .
But if you want, you can help find the bottom four. If you know any real people that look like me, and are awesome, feel free to let the world know, and leave a comment.

See you later, folks. Until then, I'm gonna go clean my glasses & trim my beard . . .